Sonata Arctica – Talviyö Review

Sonata Arctica - Talviyö - ArtworkIn evaluating a record, there are various questions to be considered; how important is singularity to an album’s quality, how important is fulfilling expectations, or, on the opposite, going against expectations? Is self-development necessary, irrelevant, disappointing or welcome? Sonata Arctica have been exhausting the possible answers to these questions at least since their 2007 record Unia by coming out with complex, demanding and undoubtedly diverse albums, each of which split their fanbase in two distinct factions: those who love for the Fins to experiment, and those who miss the old days of straight-forward Stratovarius style melodic power metal. This year’s record Talviyö is not going to unite the two camps in celebration as it may be the most experimental – as in far from the power metal roots – album Sonata Arctica have released in their career. Continue reading “Sonata Arctica – Talviyö Review”

Moonlight Haze – De Rerum Natura Review

020913Expectations rarely have been as high for a debut record as for De Rerum Natura, Italy’s Moonlight Haze‘s first album after forming in 2018. The cause of that are the names of those involved with members and ex-members of high-class Italian metal bands such as TemperanceElvenking and Sound Storm. The most exciting inclusion among Moonlight Haze‘s ranks is probably Chiara Tricarico who left Temperance in 2017 and recorded a bunch of great melodic metal records with the band thanks to her voice suitable for international competition. Continue reading “Moonlight Haze – De Rerum Natura Review”

Stormlord – Far Review

37222222222222222222222226847I remember listening to Mare Nostrum, Italian symphonic black metal band Stormlord‘s fourth album, in 2009 and being blown away by how one band could combine such extreme metal with such great melodies and atmospheres.Of course, this type of mixture is something Dimmu Borgir have been brewing up as early as 1994, but there’s just a kind of dramatic aspect that Italian bands are great at portraying, be it black metal, death metal or power metal. Precisely, Stormlord strike a balance between those genres with a focus on atmospheric black metal; not in a Summoning kind of way, but leaning heavy on keyboards and solemn melodies to facilitate the new album’s lyrical contents concerning, as always, ancient Roman myths, but also fictional topics like Conan. Continue reading “Stormlord – Far Review”

Ancient Bards – Origine: The Black Crystal Sword Saga Part 2 Review

ancientbards_origineSneakily, but steadily Ancient Bards have grown on me from just another Rhapsody “cover” band – from Italy even – to a serious contender to be the legitimate successors to the genre-establishing warriors who are a bare shadow of their former glory these days, at least the contemporary of Fire incarnation with only one birthing member left. I don’t mean to run down symphonic power metal masterpieces like AB‘s first record, The Alliance Of The Kings, but the borrowing of Rhapsody style was a bit too blatant to lift the album and its sequels beyond the cliche of “just another (albeit great) power metal record”. Continue reading “Ancient Bards – Origine: The Black Crystal Sword Saga Part 2 Review”

Within Temptation – Resist Review

within-temptation---resistOne of the things that Within Temptation are very good in is their ability to adapt – starting from a gothic/doom niche, the Dutch metal institution set up to record symphonic masterpieces followed by an explosive concoction of pop, retro and modern sound, joining forces with names even outside the rock scene. Resist marks the longest creative pause for the musicians whose career as a group was about the end long before the record’s release.
The album is an attempt to salvage what’s left of Within Temptation‘s past grandure and allow them to move forward. Behind the initial Black Mirror-ish concept one gets a glimpse of the band’s desire to start anew, focusing on what they do best – after all, we’ve seen them successfully battle their musical burnout, resulting in addictive spins such as The Unforgiving. Instead of a true return to form, however, a chaotic PR campaign marked the delay of the album, half of which we were already familiar with thanks to a prematurely supporting tour. Continue reading “Within Temptation – Resist Review”

Dragony – Masters Of The Multiverse Review

Dragony_MOTM_Cover_fin_weblThere are few genuine classic melodic power metal bands left in the business, with most ancient champions either retiring or “evolving” into something no one asked for. Austria’s Dragony have been supplying the old power metal crowd with finest European forged steel since their inception around 2011, when their first album Legends released independently, a time where I’d known them for a while already and had come to revel in the ’90s symphonic power goodness long before the band was signed by Limb Music in 2012, who released Legends again. Smart move, after all, Legends was the most explosive piece of the genre I’d heard in a long time. Continue reading “Dragony – Masters Of The Multiverse Review”

Beyond The Black – Heart Of The Hurricane Review

CoverEver since their debut, Beyond the Black made quite the impact on the symphonic scene, to the point in which they became one of the most attractive line-up additions to the bigger festivals. Having the energy-driven sound of Songs of Love and Death in their arsenal, that wasn’t surprising – the combination of metal with Celtic elements (albeit nothing new in the genre) mixed with Jennifer Haben’s crystal voice, put the record above the overall lacking in quality releases of 2015. Continue reading “Beyond The Black – Heart Of The Hurricane Review”