CD REVIEWS


Ratings: 2=crap; 4=poor; 6=average; 8=great; 10=superb!!!


Winter 2009:

ACID-Live In Belgium ‘84 (Maniacal Records/Femetal Records)
ACID will always be one of my all-time favourite female-fronted heavy metal bands. Obviously, I was really over the moon, when this live LP was released twenty-five years after date. ACID is a CULT band and this album is simply a must to every true metal fan out there! No excuses here, this is the real deal!!! Just listen to opener “Acid”, when the giant explosions at the very beginning of this song sets the pace. The band is already at full steam, when the next song “Maniac” continues. It’s really incredible how they play this at full speed and without even noticing, they seamlessly float over into “Hooked On Metal”. This song ends in an earsplitting guitar solo AAAAARRRRRGGGGHHH, my poor ears! And this is just the beginning, because the solo goes on and on! “Bottoms Up” is played at full speed. Can you hear the great vocals by Kate? She is the female animal in ACID and by far the best female vocalist that there has ever been in metal land, as far as I’m concerned. So, if you still have any doubts here, this album will surely take it all away! And if Kate doesn’t convince you, I am sure that the band does. The solos are mindblowing on this one. The last song on side A is a tribute to the devil’s daughter “Lucifera”. It really can’t get any more metal than this! In the meantime, I’m looking at the many great pix inside the gatefold sleeve, the inside sleeve and the beautiful poster, that is included as well. The concert we are listening to was recorded at the Lido in Leuven (Belgium) on Saturday, June 2nd 1984. That very night ACID supported CYCLONE and THUNDERLORD. Side B of the vinyl album opens with the mighty tones of “No Time”, which includes some amazing guitar solos, which made me speechless for a while. My wife still thanks ACID for this! (just kidding!). “Exterminator” contains more very fast guitar work and drum parts. And the drummer is the main focus in a song, called “Anvill”, taken from the very first ACID album. They say, that drummers are fast nowadays, but fuck this man is even faster than the freaking speed of light! ACID simply blows everything away with songs like this and for all the cult metal fans out there, this is surely an album to cherish. And back then, when the very first ACID LP was released, it could very easily compete with another cult album like “Welcome To Hell” by VENOM in my eyes. “Max Overload” is another speed devil here and the album closes with one of the band’s own favourite songs, called “Heavens Devils”. The breathtaking mid-piece reminds me in a way of the better days by the band RUSH. After this slow mid-piece, the band takes away into the fifth (or perhaps even better phrased) the sixth gear. I really don’t know how to put it, but I do know, it sounds like totally madness to me!! This wonderful document comes out as a regular LP, but it will also be released as a picture disc soon. Later on in the year 2010, there also will be a CD released of this extraordinary live performance . Who is asking for more, will probably be shot dead, I guess. I asked for a DVD, but they already pointed a gun at my head. So I lock myself up with this very album, to be sure I will at least die lucky. ACID “Live In Belgium ‘84” is not only a wonderful live album, it’s also a great document about the time, that heavy metal was still heavy metal and hard rock was still hard rock. No internet or fake music was allowed back in those days. And I’m really longing to get those days back again. This album is a great start. The reward is so much higher than the full score, because on top of the full score, I added an extra point for the emotional value of this album. ACID consists of Katrien ‘Kate’ de Lombaert on vocals, Geert ‘Anvill’ Ricquier on drums, Donald ‘Demon’ Bevers on guitar, Dirk ‘Dizzy Lizzy’ Simoens on guitar and Peter ‘T-Bone’ Decock on bass. Buy or don’t call yourself a metalhead anymore. [12 points - FULL score+] (Toine van Poorten)

ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN & AGUA DE ANNIQUE- In Your Room (Aqua Recordings/Jammm)
Everyone knows, that Anneke van Giersbergen was the voice of the seminal Dutch band THE GATHERING up to a few years ago. Since leaving THE GATHERING, she has formed her own outfit, called AGUA DE ANNIQUE and in 2007 they released a pretty cool debut titled "Air". Now the band is back with their second release, titled "In Your Room" and it sees the project expanding on what they started in '07 to release a more complete and sophisticated album. For those, who have heard the first AGUA release, you will know that they are really not metal, so don't expect anything like the classic THE Gathering albums "Mandylion" or "Nighttime Birds". Having said that, "In Your Room" is still a very good album (metal or not), that really showcases the vocal talents of Anneke, which are quite strong and getting better all the time. "Pearly" started things off and it has a funky riff, that starts the song off quite strong and immediate. The second song "Hey Okay!" is just brilliant and hands down my favorite track on either one of the AGUA DE ANNIQUE albums. It has such an up-tempo happy feel and positive energy to it, that it is impossible to be in a bad mood after listening to it. One thing is also obvious, Anneke still has a hell of a voice. "I Want" is next and continues where the previous two songs left off. Again, it's got a nice melody and vibe running through it. "Wonder" is a beautifully wistful piano ballad and other song, that's destined to become a favorite. Other highlights include "The World", "Sunny Side Up", "Home Again", "Just Fine" (co-written with Devin Townsend) and "Wide Open". Honestly, among the twelve songs on display here, there is plenty of good music here. With "In This Room" Anneke and AGUA DE ANNIQUE have far exceeded what was begun on "Air" and released an album with a ton of depth and character. "In This Room" is twelve songs worth of sophisticated and experimental, avant garde power pop music, that is quite a ride. [9 points] (Tony Cannella)

ANOUK-For Bitter Or Worse (EMI)
The rocking days of ANOUK are definitely over and with melancholy I think back of the days, that we first saw this lady on stage in Leidschendam. She didn’t even release an album, but she sure rocked the hell out of us. Nowadays, she has become a superstar in Holland and a wannabe outside of our country. Her albums sell better each time, but the rock level becomes very marginal and we think this is good for her career. If it is good for the readers of Metal Maidens, remains to be seen. “Three Days In A Row” is the first single taken from the new album and a kind of ‘tribute’ to her new boyfriend Unorthodox (yes, that’s his name!). “In This World” contains parts of the old rock style, that we very much liked of this lady, who presents her new album here, called “For Bitter Or Worse”. An album, that contains twelve new tracks and runs approx. forty-five minutes. It’s a very energetic song and ANOUK’s voice has got a lot of soul. “Woman” is the second single taken from this new album, which is already climbing highly in the Dutch charts, as we speak. While “Lay It Down” sounds groovy and is very easy on the ears. The next song is called “8 Years”, which sounds quite dark and I think, it refers to her former romance. The whole album is a pretty good look into the life of ANOUK. Her lyrics are very personal and go very deep. “My Shoes” sounds slow and a bit dark as well, but it lacks any connection to rock music. From that point of view, a lot of MM readers will probably have a hard time of liking this album. “Walk To The Bay” sounds more uptempo. It has got a steady beat and it’s filled with a lot of soul again. “Today” takes back to the good old sound by lady ANOUK. “Hold On” could very well be categorised as the obligatory ballad on this album. Every good album needs one, so I don’t have a problem with that. “Lovedrunk” on the other hand is a great soul tune, including some very good backing vocals. “Faith In My Moon” contains some bluesy guitars and it’s definitely a very nice song to listen to, because of the great atmosphere created on this one. At the end of this song, when the backing singers do their work, the well-known soul factor comes walking in. With title track “For Bitter Or Worse”, we’ve reached the last song on this new album. ANOUK proves, that there’s still a huge diversity in her songs. Although the rock level is getting lower each time, her voice makes up for it all and I must admit, that I still like what she does. However, these days I need to take a well-balanced ANOUK diet, instead of taking it all at the same time. Anyway, this rock chick can go on for a very long time to come writing and composing music like that. Latest news is, that ANOUK is being pregnant for the fourth time already. This won’t stop her from being the most evil Dutch rock diva and obviously, the most successful one as well. Rockers, that liked the old ANOUK stuff may want to have a good listen first before buying this album. People, who adore all her previous stuff, can dig in a bit more easily, because this sounds like an album you would expect by this lady. I think we’ll have to support ANOUK for bitter or worse. Check it out, my friends! [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ARCH ENEMY-The Root Of All Evil (Savage Messiah Music)
When you think, that ARCH ENEMY would slowly put more melody into their compositions, must reconsider and have a good listen to this album. Surely, you have a point these are old songs, that have been re-recorded. The band could have given it a more melodic twist, but they didn’t. “The Root Of All Evil” contains thirteen songs from the first three albums, only this time in a re-recorded version with the voice of demoness Angela Gossow, instead of John Liiva Axelsson, who left the band to follow a solo career. After title track “The Root Of All Evil”, which is actually an unreleased piece of work, the album explodes in an ultra fast and most brutal way possible. The first slow part is at the end of the wonderful “Demonic Science”, which is definitely one of my personal faves off the album. “Bury Me An Angel” also contains a slow part, where the guitar solo starts. If you already bought the first three albums, you can make a good comparison between both, but I can tell you that the sound of this one is quite overwhelming and it sounds like another great ARCH ENEMY album, re-recorded old songs or not. The cruel vocals sound rather insane and the double lead guitars are very much upfront in the mix, which are mind-boggling in each song. “Demoniality” – a short instrumental track - sounds like ARCH ENEMY playing doom metal. For anyone seeking some of the more melodic moments on this album, you can go to “Silverwing”, which is the ultimate track in my eyes. “Bridge Of Destiny” closes the re-recorded section, which has another mind-blowing guitar solo at the end. This album offers a lot more though. ARCH ENEMY left some space to include three of these old songs as a live version, recorded at the Forum in London. So we’re in for a real treat with “Bury Me An Angel”, “The Immortal” and “Bridge Of Destiny”. Bringing the total playing time of this album to almost seventy minutes. The album comes in a beautiful digibook version and a patch that has the text ‘ARCH ENEMY Pure Fucking Metal’. I totally agree with that statement! “The Root Of All Evil” is a ‘must’ for every devoted metal head out there. Full score is what I’d like to give to them and they totally deserve every single point of it! Website: http://www.archenemy.net/ [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ARKONA-Goi, Rode, Goi (Napalm Records/Hardlife Promotion)
ARKONA hails from Russia and consists of Masha ‘Scream’ on vocals, Srgej ‘Lazar’ on guitar, Rustan ‘Kniaz’ on bass and Vlad ‘Artist’ on drums. The new album contains fourteen tracks, worthy of eighty minutes of Russian pagan metal. The first three songs “Goi, Rode Goi”, “Yarilo” and “Nevidal” will introduce you to their wide range of various styles. Screaming, wild vocals, a Cossack choir, accordion riddles and a folky background are the main ingredients here. Hymns about forgotten times and fast rhythms. Their Russian folk influences are traced pretty easily. Therefore, it probably sounds less accessible in a way. Mind you, they don’t sound bad at all, but sometimes their folk influences are a bit upfront in the mix. “Na Moey Zemle” contains some ‘old Dutch’ lyrics, which is a very nice detail, that they’ve put in here. “Pritcha” is a short interlude, while “Tropdiu Nevedanndi” pulls off at full speed and there isn’t even a trace of folk metal to be found! As the album progresses, their music becomes more brutal and the folk parts seem to slip away. Although “Kold Navi” is a good exception to this rule. “Korochun” is a short, folky instrumental piece, followed by the fast track “Piamat”. “Kupalets” sounds like an old ancient Indian song, the native Americans. Then we have arrived at the last but one track: the lengthy and very epical “Arkona”, in which we will hear all the aforementioned influences one more time. And if this isn’t enough for you, you’ll be able to enjoy more bombastic pagan folk metal along with the ten minute plus opus “Nebo Hmurde, Tuchi Mrachniye”. At the end of this song, birds start singing and a jolly folky tune is played on the flute. What an extraordinary way to finish your album. I must admit though, this new album by ARKONA is very diverge and it will definitely gain them a lot of popularity. Last detail that I want to share with you is, that the voice-over on this album sounds a bit more brutal and in line with the music, than the average ones you’ll hear on some of these promo discs. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ARS NOVA-Seventh Hell – La Venus Endormie (Musea Productions)
There are five new songs on this album by ARS NOVA and I must say, that it was worth the wait! Starting with the first track, we are treated to a rather bizarre piece of art, very much sounding like a horror (or action) movie soundtrack, that only ARS NOVA could create. All the necessary elements are there. The progressive sound with a reference to EMERSON, LAKE AND PALMER, many speed changes, guitar eruptions and sometimes very unexpected mood swings. The surprise element always lurks around on this almost twelve minute lasting piece of art. The ending of the song sounds so very different than the very spooky beginning, yet there is a strong cohesion in this whole piece of music. The song was inspired by the painting of Hieronymus Bosch, called “Gardens Of Earthly Delight Hell”. The next track is a lot easier on the ears. It carries the title “La Venus Endormie”, which is also the second title of this album and the title of the painting, that inspired them to create this song. The painting was made by Paul Delvaux, by the way. You can hear some Spanish influences and there’s the voice of Mika on vocals (a different MIKA than the one that tops the Dutch charts this very moment!). “Cazadora De Astros” contains some Spanish influences well, as the title already suggests. It’s a longer track with flutes and everything and a slightly bluesy, laid back sound is captured here. The song was inspired by the painting with the same name by Remedios Varo. The beginning of “Voice Of Wind” sounds rather spooky and it has a good floating beat underneath it. The song was influenced by “La Voix De Vents” by Rene Margritte. Salvador Dali’s “The Dream Of Venus” was the inspiration to write the highlight off this album, the seventeen minute epical masterpiece “Salvador Syndrome”. And right from the start, there’s a nice surprise, when the Dutch Robby Valentine sings the first notes on this song. It gets a touch of QUEEN for a moment, but slowly the song develops into a nice prog rock song, showing some Spanish influences…..again. Just listen to the acoustic guitar parts after five minutes. Then after about eight minutes, the marry-go- round ride starts with the female vocals of Daniella Lojarno, followed by a short vocal part by Robby. The lengthy instrumental part afterwards sounds very exciting indeed! Clearly, there are some more Spanish Latino influences on here, but I can assure you, that this is really the highlight on this new album, next to title track “Seventh Hell”. ARS NOVA still lives up to the highest standard in the progressive rock scene and this album is a ‘must’ to every ARS NOVA fan. The fantastic artwork on the CD is done by manager Numero Ueno and at the moment of recording, ARS NOVA consists of Keiko Kumagai on keyboards, Satoshi Hamada on guitars, Punky on bass and Hazime on drums. Domo arrigato gozaymasa for this fantastic new album and we really hope to see you again soon on tour in Holland. Visit their website: http: // arsnova,chcot.net for all the information about this fantastic Japanese prog rock band. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BLACKTHORN-Gossamer Witchcraft (Ravenheart Records)
Straight out of Russia come the all-female black, death, gothic, symphonic metal band BLACKTHORN (not to be confused with the Graham Bonnet led metal band BLACKTHORNE, who released one tremendous album in the early nineties). This band have been around since 2004 and have just now released the debut CD "Gossamer Witchcraft". This is a CD, that doesn't waste any time in getting to the point and with a relatively short playing time (only about thirty-five minutes) the CD has quite an immediate impact. The music of BLACKTHORN paints quite a broad picture and makes a definite impact in a short amount of time. The opening intro "Immortelle For A Hollow Grave" sets the stage as the band blast into "Edenbeast". The soprano vocals of Aina are front and center on this track. She also adds some screams throughout the course of the CD with keyboardist Freya helping out in that department as well. A nice opener that shows off the bands skill as musicians and songwriters. "Necromance" is next and it is a dark, heavy track with the screaming/extreme vocals starting out on this track before Aina joins in with her soprano style, as the two different styles go back-and-forth throughout the song. This is one of the better tracks that are presented here. "The Moon Emerged From Behind Clouds" is next and it really blasts through the speakers, with its high tempo and standout musicianship. Other highlights include "Saturnia", "Blackthorn Winter", "The Blackness I Prowl" and the closing outro of "The Cobweb Veils Fall Down With Grace". With songs relating to such themes as witchcraft, misanthropy and ancient cults, don't expect anything too bubbly or light on "Gossamer Witchcraft". Instead the music is the perfect soundscape for what the band is singing about. [7,5 points] (Tony Cannella)

CHTHONIC-Mirror Of Retribution (Spinefarm Records)
CHTHONIC hails from Taiwan and they sound like the Taiwan version of CRADLE OF FILTH. That’s the short description to get you a bit familiar with the brutal no-nonsense metal sound of this band. The intro “Autoscopy” is short and with “Blooming Blades” the band takes off at full speed. The screaming vocals of Freddy Lim will hit you right in the face. The fast beats will make your blood pump faster and faster. It’s no wonder, that CHTHONIC has already participated in the Ozzfest tour in 2007. In that same year, they played Wacken Open Air in Germany. They really don’t miss any opportunity to spread their name worldwide. As they also do with this release. The first four lengthy songs are like a rollercoaster ride through the world of Taiwan black metal. While in “Sing-Ling Temple” you can take a short breath, before finally arriving at a slower piece, which is the first real highlight on this album, the magnificent “1947”. It’s so much different than the rest of the album. It shows that the band is able to play at blasting speed, but they are also capable of doing something completely different than that. “Forty-Nine Theurgy Chains” and “”Rise Of The Shadows” sound exciting, too. And when the album almost reaches the end, the songs are getting better and better. There’s more structure in the songs and not only this full blasting speed metal sound. Sometimes, it’s nice to hear a song at full speed, but this kind of overkill really makes me feel nervous and it shows a lack of variation. The dark influences of CHTHONIC recur in the title track of the album “Spell Of Setting Sun: Mirror Of Retribution”. The bonus track is called “Unlimited Taiwan” and it presses the pedal to the metal one more time. The star of the band is rising very fast outside Taiwan, while in some parts of China they are banned, because of their controversial lyrics. Their political views don’t really match the views of China. But let’s focus on the music. If brutal black metal from Taiwan is your thing, don’t look any further because CHTHONIC will astonish you pretty easily with their speedy and extreme metal sound. The band consists of Freddy ‘Left Face Of Maradou’ Lim on vocals, Doris ‘Thunder Tears’ Yeh on bass, Jesse ‘The Infernal’ Liu on guitar, CJ ‘Dispersed Fingers’ Kao on keyboards and Dani ‘Azathothian Hands’ Wang on drums. “Mirror Of Retribution” contains twelve tracks and runs for about fifty blasting minutes. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DARZAMAT-Solfernus’ Path (Massacre Records)
Poland's DARZAMAT have already been in existence since 1995. In that time the band has released five full-length albums, 1 EP and 1 DVD. It was in 2003, when female vocalist Nera joined the band that the current incarnation of DARZAMAT really started to take shape. The bands musical style has evolved over the years and these days they play a sort of mix of symphonic, progressive, power, death, black and gothic metal. Got that? Musically, they are tough band to nail down, since they are capable in going off in many different directions. All of that and more can be heard on their newest release (and their debut for new label Massacre), titled "Solfernus' Path". "Solfernus' Path" is the bands first full blown concept album and the songs really bring the story to life, not just in the lyrics but the music as well. The eeriness of the opening track "False Sleepwalker" sets just the right atmosphere for the controlled chaos, that is to follow. This song has a solid pace to it and it is quite a good opener. "Vote For Heresy" is a monstrously massive metal attack that really gets the blood pumping and the adrenaline moving. The ending guitar solo to this song is very good as well. "Devium" is the first of four short intro pieces on the CD and it brings us to the heavy yet mid-tempo track "Pain Collector". The vocals of Nera take center stage here and it she proves that she is up to the task, then suddenly without warning the song speeds up around the chorus and Flauros' brutal vocals come in. "Final Conjuration" is an all out sonic assault. This CD features many highlights, but my favorite track at this moment is probably "King of the Burning Anthems", a great track that also features a guest guitar solo courtesy of KING DIAMOND guitarist Andy La Rocque. An album this strong and consistent are bound to have many killer moments, some others of note are: "Gloria Inferni", "Solfernus' Path" and the melancholic beauty of "Lunar Silhouette". The final two songs "Chimera" and "A Mesmeric Seance" bring this CD to a satisfying conclusion. Even though their are 14-tracks featured on the CD, it is only a very manageable forty-two minutes in length, making it an easy CD to get through in one sitting. The male grunt vocals of Flauros remind me a bit (at times) of the late, great Chuck Schuldiner of the immortal band DEATH - believe me that is definitely meant as a compliment. The female vocals of Nera are awesome as well. She just has a great voice - it is not operatic, but she still has a tremendous range and a lot of feeling and emotion goes into the lines that she delivers. The songs have a great flow to them and are quite effective in setting a good pace to the story that is being told. Overall, DARZAMAT has released a really good, intelligent metal opus. There is so much going on here that it is possible to pick up something new with each listen - which is always a good indication about a bands staying power. DARZAMAT are a band at the top of their game and just starting to come into their own. "Solfernus' Path" is a release that features hardly any flaws and many strengths. These days it is hard for any metal band to survive for fourteen years and with the help of their new label Massacre, hopefully DARZAMAT will get some of the success that they so richly deserve. Whatever happens "Solfernus' Path" is a monumental achievement that the band should be proud of. [9 points] (Tony Cannella)

DEJAFUSE-Dejafuse (Reference Records)
If you like to hear a good and honest rock album, then I might suggest you to check out this debut album by DEJAFUSE. It’s the new outfit of former AUTUMN frontlady Nienke de Jong. Founded in 2008, they now release their first album, which is filled with twelve sparkling, rock songs, of which some certainly would deserve some radio airplay. But I think this won’t happen that easily, because there’s far too much screaming guitars in their songs. Just listen to the magnificent “Right Here” to catch my drift. It’s not easy to compare the sound of DEJAFUSE, but you can think of the early sound of ANOUK, mixed with the sound of SUPERFLOOR. If you would think internationally, than SKUNK ANANSIE and GUANO APES may come close to the sound of DEJAFUSE. Besides Nienke, the band consists of Arno Krabman on guitar, Stefan Kemp (WACKMOBIL) on rhythm guitar, Bas van Dreunen (NEMESIS, TAPE) on bass and drummer Ludwig Witt (SPIRITUAL BEGGARS, FIREBIRD). “Clipper” is a more SKUNK ANANSIE-like track, in which the band shows to be powerful and very creative. It’s not just simple, fast forward rock and roll: this comes straight from their heart! From this point of view, I like the sound of DEJAFUASE a lot more than the rather average AUTUMN, but this is a typical preference from a reviewer’s kind of personal taste. One of the highlights on the album is the fast rocker “Exploring”. It will make the adrenaline flow through your veins from excitement. In “Shape Shifting” you can catch some breath, but the soul in Nienke’s voice will make you shiver from excitement this time. The band proves, that they are able to live up to the high standard of the international rock scene and not too many bands can say that, in my humble opinion. DEJAFUSE is still in the dawning of their career, but I really think, they can become huge, if they keep sounding like this. The groove is there, the songs are good and these twelve songs on this debut album are tasting much better than wine and are more addictive than any drug can be. After a little over fifty minutes, the CD is over, but the feeling is still there. Get in the swing pal, DEJAFUSE is in the house and they rock like hell! Website: http://www.dejafuse.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ILSE DELANGE-Live In Ahoy (Universal Records)
I really don’t need to tell you, that I am a big fan of ILSE DE LANGE. Yep, I know that she has a very low heavy metal level in her music, but it’s her voice and her sympathetic down-to-earth character, which makes me a big fan of her. This double live CD/DVD is a complete recording of her concert in Rotterdam Ahoy, where she performed live for the very first time. To me, she’s no longer the country chick she was in the beginning of her career. Obviously, you’ll still hear some country influences back in her music, which makes her very different from others. This whole live registration can also be seen on DVD, but we’re talking about the two CD set here, which contains twenty-three songs, worthy of almost two hours of great music. After “Broken Girl”, the first hit singles show up, which is not a strange factor, because almost every song on this double CD set became one. “We’re Alright” is the first point of recognition for the average Ilse fan. “Livin’ On Love” starts with a steel guitar intro, a pull back to her country past. Besides her own material, Ilse also performs a lot of great covers by very different artists. “I Still Cry”, originally written by Julie Miller, being the first one. Then there’s “Have A Little Faith In Me” by JOHN HIATT, which is a certainly a must here. A more odd song for me is “Sister Golden Hair”, which we know by a band, called AMERICA from 1975 and “Stuck In The Middle” by STEALERS WHEEL with GERRY RAFFERTY. A nice song to hear again. The original comes from 1972, so you can say that Ilse knows her classics. The first CD ends right after almost fifty-five minutes with the JOHN HIATT song, by the way. The jolly “Puzzle Me”, a more recent hit, is one of the first songs on the second CD. After “Puzzle Me”, Ilse really goes for it. The beast awakes, when she starts her stomping version of ZZ TOP’s “Sharp Dressed Man”. Man, this girl can surely rock and prove is given here! Then it’s time for more hits with “Miracle”, “The Great Escape”, “I’m Not So Tough” and set-closer “So Incredible”. ‘A magic night in Rotterdam’ would have been a nice title for this great double live CD. The band for this concert consists of Arnold van Dongen on guitars, Martijn van Agt on guitars, Rene van Barneveld on guitar and steel guitar, Will Moss on keyboards, Aram Kersbergen on bass, Bart Vergoossen on drums, and the two backing vocalists Dede Twiss and Jasmin Tusjadia. Whether this is rock or not is not the question and shouldn’t be an issue. This is high quality music that counts, so I go for the full score here. Website: http://www.ilsedelange.com. [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE DEVIL’S BLOOD-The Time Of No Time Evermore (Van Records)
THE DEVIL’S BLOOD is projected as the next big thing in the history of heavy metal. I am fine with that, mainly because the band hails from my home country. But I can’t say, that the band brings something new here. And I am glad, they didn’t. They bring us the occult sound of the seventies. Bands like COVEN and BLACK WIDOW come to mind and because of the female vocals by The Mouth of Satan, I would also like to refer to a band like JEFFERSON AIRPLANE. Occult rock with a great seventies atmosphere to it and a bloody good live show. The intro “The Time Of No Time Evermore” won’t reveal yet, in which direction their music will be heading. But people, who also bought the previous work by these dark Satan admirers already know that the horned hoof has set their way to the dark and occult sound. This may not be quite clear in easy tracks like “Evermore”, but if you listen to the dusty sound of “House Of Ten Thousand Voices”, you’ll get my point. Sometimes, like in “Christ Or Cocaine”, the voice by The Mouth Of Satan comes very close to Jerney Kaagman (early EARTH AND FIRE era) and this is a compliment and not a stab in the back. I know, that people may dislike Jerney nowadays, but hey she was one of the prog rock pioneers in the early seventies together with the brothers Koerts. There is some nice guitar work in this song as well, which continues in the mighty uptempo “Queen Of My Burning Heart”. “Angel’s Prayer” has a great guitar solo, which gives this song just what it needs to become far above average. “Feeding The Fire With Tears And Blood” shows some influences of the very early days of HEART. Obviously, there’s a lot of seventies revival to be heard on this 2009 release. “The Anti-Kosmik Magick” closes the album the way it should: this eleven minute showcase, includes a very lengthy over-the-top part, in which the band decides to give it all they’ve got just one more time. If seventies rock is your thing and you like dark, occult stuff like COVEN and BLACK WIDOW, then you don’t have to look any further: you’ve found yourself one helluva record! [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE DONNAS-Greatest Hits Volume 16. (Purple Feather Records)
We went record hunting in Japan and found this new ‘best of’ or maybe even better ‘greatest hits’ CD by THE DONNAS there. It contains sixteen songs, which could be considered as ‘greatest hits’ of THE DONNAS, if they had any. Opener “Get Off” is already a nice JOAN JETT-like foot-stomper. “Perfect Stranger” sounds less commercial and it’s topped by a great guitar solo. “We Owe The Night” also contains that well-known JOAN JET-like choir vocals. “She’s Out Of Control” has the well-known DONNAS stomping beat and a great guitar solo. “We Owe The Night” and “She’s Out Of Control” are previously unreleased B-sides. I must admit, that I still like the sound of these ladies. “Take It Off” is a live version, which will remind you right away of THE RUNAWAYS. This could very well have been on the “Live In Japan” album by this cult all female metal band. While “Fall Behind Me” is also taken from these live recordings: the “Desert Moon” two DVD set. “Play My Game” showcases the old DONNAS sound and I must admit, that I like this girly rock style best! Just listen to new recorded versions of “You Make Me Hot” and the RAMONES stomper “Get Rid Of That Girl”. Or get in the mood for “Hey I’m Gonna Be Your Girl”. “I Wanna Be With A Girl Like You” contains male vocals of producer Darin Raffaeli. The songs afterwards are so short, you can hardly keep it up. Sixteen tracks, definitely not all their greatest hits, but still a relatively good compilation of their stuff, are on this album that runs for about forty minutes. I still have the hots for these ladies, dressed up in SCORPIONS and GUNS ‘N’ ROSES t-shirts. So I’ll gladly gonna get myself rocked by these four DONNAS one more time! Website: http://www.thedonnnas.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ECHOES OF ETERNITY-As Shadows Burn (Nuclear Blast)
And here they go in the fourth gear: the perfect opener on this album “Ten Of Swords”. The riffs, the vocals, the solos, it’s all too good to be true. ECHOES OF ETERNITY surprised me very much here! This second album shows the progression that the band has made since their debut album “The Forgotten Goddess”. ECHOES OF ETERNITY now consists of Kirk Carrison on drums, Bryan Eagle on guitar, Duane Cowan on bass, Brandon Patton on guitar and the metal maiden of the band Francine Boucher on vocals. “A Veiled Horizon” might sound a little bit melodic, but the riffs in “Memories Of Blood And Gold” definitely prove the strength of ECHOES OF ETERNITY. Next song “The Scarlet Embrace” even displays a blast beat sound. While “Descent Of A Blackened Soul” has got a more melodic approach, the band really blasts away at full speed in “Twilight Fires”. The very melodic voice of vocalist Francine might sound a bit odd between all this metal mayhem, but it also gives it a certain dignity. The black metal blast beats sound more upfront than ever before, but the vocals add a more progressive and melodic feel to their music. Just listen to the mix of styles in “Burned Beneath A Thousand Dreams”, which sounds like a remarkable blend to me! This song is definitely worth checking out. At the end of “Lealis Deus”, the guitar riffs sound like a machine gun. What a killer sound! The band saved the best for last. “Funeral In The Sky” is a rather lengthy song and it contains a beautiful instrumental mid-piece, which shows the more progressive side of ECHOES OF ETERNITY. A real highlight, as far as I’m concerned. “As Shadows Burn” has turned out to be a great album and I think, that ECHOES OF ETERNITY is ready to enter the premier league of female-fronted metal bands. The nine songs are worthy of forty minutes of high class progressive metal. Website: http://www.myspace.com/echoesofeternity. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ELIS-Catharsis (Napalm Records/Hard Life Productions)
If you take a good look at the new ELIS album, you probably won’t get a pleasant feeling. It pictures a Madonna-like figure, who’s weeping tears of blood. Immediately, my mind goes out to Sabine Dünser, former lead singer of ELIS, who died much too early. The band however decided to go on and hired a new singer in Sandra Schleret (DREAMS OF SANITY, SIEGFRIED, etc.). With her, they recorded “Griefshire”, which already proved to be a very successful album indeed. This new endeavour, “Catharsis”, will certainly increase this success - that’s for sure. Judging by the cover, you might expect a dark and slow gothic metal band. Listening to the first two songs however, “Core Of Life” and “Twinkling Shadow” will convince you otherwise, when a brutal heavy metal band comes by with gorgeous guitar riffs, great solos and the wonderful voice of Sandra topping it all. “Warrior’s Tale” and “Des Lebens Traum – Des Traumes Leben”, have got a more gothic approach, but there are still some very filthy riffs around, which makes their sound far more heavier than you might expect. “I Come Undone” is a cover of the well-known JENNIFER RUSH song, followed by “Firefly”. Both songs are a bit casual and easy on the ears. Next on is a German song, which has a more gothic approach and is called “Das Klaine Ungeheuer”. Sometimes, the sound of ELIS is spiced up by some male vocals, next to the sound of Sandra. These male vocals are from bass player Tom Saxer, except “Warrior’s Tale”, whereas the band called in the help of Michelle Darkness of END OF GREEN. Besides Sandra and Tom, the band consists of Christian Gruber on guitars, Pete Streit on guitars and Maximilian Näscher on drums. “Rainbow” is a ballad-type of song, while “The Dark Bridge” sounds a bit more uptempo. The CD was produced by ATROCITY frontman Alexander Krull and it closes with two bonus tracks, called “Ghost Of The Past” and “No Hero”. ELIS is back and if “Griefshire” didn’t convince you, “Catharsis” definitely will. You simply won’t find anything better than this in the gothic metal scene of today. The thirteen songs on this wonderful, very atmospheric album have a total running time of almost a full hour. Website: http://www.elis.li. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

EPICA-Design Your Universe (Nuclear Blast)
I think that a lot of fans out there have been waiting for this new album of EPICA. The band can be seen as one of the most successful bands from our country and I think that only WITHIN TEMPTATION can top their success this very moment. “Design Your Universe” contains fourteen tracks and plays for almost eighty (!!!) minutes. If that isn’t value for your money, then I don’t know. I am reviewing the beautiful digibook here, which contains a twenty-six pages booklet with all the lyrics and lots of pictures. But what about the music? After all, you can’t base your success on a beautiful booklet alone, can you? CD opener “Samadhi” is already pushing us in a direction, that we know this band for. Bombast, power, big orchestrations, melody, and here and there some forceful outings. “Resign To Surrender” shows, that this has become an album, they can be proud of. The music is all, that we’ve expected and so much more. The details have been worked out very well and the band did everything to develop their musical ideas in the best way possible. “Unleashed” contains the same ingredients. The force and power shows to full advantage in a song like “Martyr Of The Free Word”, which contains some beautiful choir vocals followed by a flashing guitar solo. “Unleashed” was chosen to be the first single taken off this album, by the way. “Our Destiny” displays the beautiful voice of frontlady Simone Simons. She is really one of a kind. Just listen and let her take you to another dimension with her amazing vocals. The stunning choir vocals at the end of the song, mixed with Simone’s mighty soprano voice will astonish you pretty easily. “Kingdom Of Heaven” (a wonderful piece of music, by the way!) consists of five parts and is worthy of over thirteen minutes of magic soundscapes. You will have to take the time to comprehend it all, I guess. In the meantime, the band continues with a short interlude, called “The Price Of Freedom”, before exploding into “Burn To A Cinder”, which is another bombastic masterpiece. After three very powerful tracks, it’s time for the odd one out here. “White Waters” is a duet of Simone and Tony Kakko of SONATA ARCTICA. They might receive some radio airplay with this one, because all the other songs are far too heavy to be played on Dutch radio. This song however has the potential, but I doubt if it will ever happen. The title track is another lengthy epic metal masterpiece. The digibook contains a heavy bonus track, called “Incentive”, in which Ariën pulls out his fastest drum roll and you can hear some monstrous grunt vocals and great vocal choirs, leaving you behind with the urge to push the play button again. I think, this is by far the best EPICA album ever and I can only grand them the well-deserved full score. Congratulations, my friends! Right now, I’m really looking forward to the DVD release of their 2009 show at the Metal Female Voices Festival in Wieze, Belgium. Until then, I’ll give this masterpiece a few more listens. EPICA consists of Simone Simons (what a beautiful picture in the CD booklet!!) on vocals, Mark Jansen on guitar and brutal grunts, Yves Huts on bass, Coen Janssen on keyboards, Ariën van Weesenbeek on drums and Isaac Delahaye on guitar. Website: http://www.epica.nl. [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LITA FORD-Wicked Wonderland (JLRG Entertainment)
Metal Maidens supports women in metal for almost fifteen years now. In our book, there are a few so-called ‘untouchable’ metal queens, like DORO, LEE AARON, LEATHER LEONE and LITA FORD. So I can’t tell you how curious we were, when Lita announced her comeback and a new album. “Wicked Wonderland” is available right now and was it worth the wait? Let’s find out. The album contains fifteen songs and holds a bit over a full hour of LITA FORD music. Opener “Crave” sounds very groovy and exciting, but the male voice of Jim Gillette, Lita’s husband, is very dominant. “Piece (Hell Yeah)” sounds industrial and is nothing like the LITA FORD, that we know so well. “Patriotic S.O.A.B.” stands for ‘Patriotic Son Of A Bitch’ and sounds like the later OZZY OSBOURNE work. At the end of this song, Lita cranks out a short piece of the “Star Sprangled Banner”, which fits in really fine. “Scream 4 Me” gives me two different thoughts. The beats are not really necessary in my opinion, but the verses and guitar solo are the Lita as we know her. “Inside” opens with male vocals of Jim, while I’m supposed to listen to a LITA FORD album. The overal sound is very dark and slow. The guitar solo is good though. Title track “Wicked Wonderland” doesn’t really sound much like rock or metal to me. And I think, you’d better be very open-minded to dig what is happening on this album. “Indulge” also sounds very industrial and it captures the voice of Jim Gillette upfront. I start asking myself, if I’m listening to the right album right now. This is the new LITA FORD album, isn’t it?? “Love” is on next, starting with a groovy bass line and some nice guitarwork, but the vocals of Lita sound dark and almost unnatural. Fans of MARILYN MANSON might dig this stuff. “Betrayal” opens with some juicy guitar work, but after a few seconds, the ‘irritating’ industrial beat finds itself a way into the song. But you definitely need to check out the last minute of this song: it contains some mindblowing guitar work and a rather extravagant over-the-top closure, that nobody would expect on a LITA FORD album. “Sacred” is slow and groovy again, while “Truth” sounds a bit more accessible. Actually, none of these songs can compete to Lita’s previous albums, I’m afraid. “Everything” sounds laid back and contains a lot of annoying beeps and male vocal parts. In the meantime, I’m already checking out my record collection for some good old LITA FORD stuff to play after listening to this ‘crap’. Honestly, I’m having a real hard time to stay focussed here. Mostly, I turn up the sound during a listening session, but now I’m turning it down, because it disturbes my thinking of how to put things right in this review without hurting anybody’s feelings. “Bed” is the final song, before the two bonus tracks will start. “Bad” would have been a much better title, although I heard some nice guitar work. The bonus tracks are called “Garden” and “Push”. Lita pulls out another nice guitar solo in “Garden”, but the spacey sound is kinda peculiar. And “Push”? Well, I’m done with it and I’m not gonna take this review any further. I was supposed to hear a brand new LITA FORD album, but this sounds more like a JIM GILLETTE solo effort. The CD booklet looks stunning and I really like the colourful artwork in there, but what was Lita thinking, when recording this album? Everything I do will be fine, because all metalheads will be glad to know, that I’m back?!? You’ll never know of course, but I do know that a lot of LITA FORD admirers will be very disappointed, when they hear this. I’m not VERY disappointed, just disappointed. The album has got some fine moments, too and I know, that it’s our mission to support the female rock and metal scene and to inform you about it. But I also know, when being part of the hard rock and heavy metal scene for such a long time, you have to be honest with your readers. You are not going to tell them that the album rocks, when it sounds dull and it doesn’t rock at all. In that case you speak out your mind and hopefully, the people that buy the album will respect your opinion. So there you have it: the review of the new Jim Gillette, oops, I mean LITA FORD album. I guess, you’d better have a good listen (or two), before buying the damn thing. Of course you can’t leave it out in your collection, but I don’t think it will be played very much in our house. To complete this review, I’d also like to tell you that the album is also available on vinyl, which has different artwork and lacks the bonus tracks. The LP comes in a beautiful gatefold sleeve. Website: http://www.litaxx.tv. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

FOR SELENA AND SIN-Primrose Path (Mascot Records)
FOR SELENA AND SIN hail from Finland and they play melodic metal with elements of gothic and pop thrown in as well. Their second album is titled "Primrose Path" and has just been released via Mascot Records. I've said it before that reviewing CDs such as this is a great opportunity for me to be exposed to bands and music that I normally would never get a chance to hear, FOR SELENA AND SIN are a great example of this. Let's start at the beginning, shall we? The whole opus is kicked off with the infectiously catchy opening tune "Countdown To The Stars". Musically, the band is top notch and the vocals off Annika Jalkanen are rock solid. The third track "Rusty Rails Of Yesterday", probably would rate as my favorite track of the twelve that are presented here. The entire CD is pretty consistent, as can be evidenced by these great songs: "Bring Me The Sun", "Colour My World" and "Psycho Lover". Probably the biggest surprise here is the bands cover version of the KYLIE MINOQUE song "Confide In Me". This is a cool cover version that fits in quite well with the rest of the material on "Primrose Path". The CD ends with a couple of bonus tracks, "Five Days In A Row" and "Sister Sunset" are two songs that definitely end things on a high. "Primrose Path" is twelve songs and over fifty minutes worth of some beautifully crafted melodic metal songs. Even though this is their second release, FOR SELENA AND SIN is still quite new to many of us and "Primrose Path" is a great introduction to this Finnish band. [8,5 points] (Tony Cannella)

ARJEN LUCASSEN’S GUILT MACHINE-On This Perfect Day (Mascot Records)
Here’s another marvellous project of centipede and mastermind Arjen Lucassen, called GUILT MACHINE, which sounds so much different than his previous projects and bands. GUILT MACHINE consists of Jasper Stevelinck (ARID) on vocals, Arjen Lucassen on various instruments and vocals, Chris Maitland on drums and Lori Linstruth on lead guitars. The CD contains six tracks, worthy of nearly a full hour. Arjen displays his admiration for THE BEATLES and PINK FLOYD in lengthy opener “Twisted Coil”, which runs for almost twelve minutes. What a great start! Next song “Leland Street” sounds much more laid back and a bit darker, too. Think in the direction of PORCUPINE TREE or MUSE here. “Green And Cream” sounds very dark as well and I guess, it will very much please the fans of the aforementioned bands. This is definitely my cup of tea, because I like those bands a lot. “Season Of Denial” starts off in a very mystical way. It might give you the idea, that you’re listening to a soundtrack of some science fiction movie. The riffs in this particular song are extremely nice and I think, that it will appeal to many readers out there. “Over” is on next, which sounds a lot more accessible than any of the previous songs. Maybe because of the more uptempo pace, that they have set on this one. I also hear the voice of Jasper, who shows some resemblance to the voice of Freddy Mercury of QUEEN (mid-seventies era) at times. “Perfection?” closes the album and I think that this is the absolute highlight here, next to the very strong opener. It has been a lot more difficult to get into this album and ‘understand’ it, but it’s definitely worth checking out. Don’t expect any links to STAR ONE, STREAM OF PASSION, AMBEON, AYREON or whatsoever, this is GUILT MACHINE and it sounds like GUILT MACHINE. It’s so much different from all his previous stuff. So please see this album as something completely different [‘natch natch, wink, wink, say no more, say no more’ - I quote from the good ol’ Python here!]. Good news is, that Arjen has recently formed a new band without inviting many guest players. This is more like a solo effort or a band thing and it will hopefully take you by surprise. The Russian speaking lady on the telephone closes the CD with the message, that you have to push the ‘play’ button again. Last news, that I want to tell you, has got nothing to do with GUILT MACHINE, but with a long wish that will be fulfilled after too many years. Rumour goes, there will be a tribute website for BODINE (the former band of Arjen Lucassen) coming up soon. Spread the word, because you will be in for a major culture shock listening to this magificent band, after hearing the GUILT MACHINE album. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HYDROGYN-Bombshell (Femetal Records)(vinyl)
We liked the “Bombshell” album a lot, which was our first introduction to this band from Kentucky, USA. Why do another review then? Well, I’d like to take some time to praise this release on vinyl. It looks fantastic, it sounds fantastic and it’s simply done out of passion for the music! The groovy straight forward rock sound is pure and it will please many rock fans out there. Not only because of the voice and good looks of Julie, but also because of the great guitarsound of Jeff Boggs and Jeff Westlake. Jerry Lawson on drums and Dave Moody keep the rhythm as tight as possible. Don’t we all know the story about this fantastic, femetal band? The LP version of the album adds so much value for money. The many unreleased pictures in the booklet alone, makes it worth the investment. And I didn’t even mention the beautiful poster of Julie, that comes with the album, that is put in a wonderful full colour gatefold sleeve. To own a copy of this vinyl album makes you a king (or queen). Just listen to the heavy “Look Away” and the WHITESNAKE influenced and LED ZEPPELINesque “Breaking Me Down”. I think, that “The Sand” is really one of the highlights on this album, next to “Look Away”, but you have to admit, that the AC/DC cover “Back In Black” catches the hard rock sound of the band at its very best. Did you think, that HYDROGYN already came out very well on CD, then I can assure you that it gets even better on LP. A true masterpiece for all the fans of this hard rocking band. The whole package, including the inserts, many pictures and poster, makes this LP very much worth buying and a real ‘must’ for vinyl connoisseurs. It’s definitely another masterpiece from the kitchen of Femetal Records. This review was made possible by Rainer Krukenberg. Thanks, mate! Go to http://www.femetal-records.com for more information or send an email to: krukenberg@freenet.de. For more information about HYDROGYN, you can go to their official website at: http:// www.hydrogyn.com. [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HYDROVIBE-Nothing Left To Lose (Orleans Street Records)
HYDROVIBE hails from the city of angels (Los Angeles, USA) and “Nothing Left To Lose” is their most recent musical outing. It contains fifteen tracks, that play for about fifty minutes. The band consists of Heather St. Marie on vocals, Mat Dauzat on guitar and vocals, Eliot Lorango on bass and Phil Mathys on drums. These are the statistics so far. Now what about the music? HYDROVIBE plays groovy rock music with a natural flow, that is easy on the ears. A touch of alternative rock, some grungy influences here and there and groovy guitar riffs are the main ingredients in their songs. Guitarplayer Mat already gained experience in KELLY OSBOURNE’s band. When they actually recorded this album, a weird thing happened. The band wrote a song called “Killer Inside” and this particular song became part of the cult horror movie cyclus “Saw”, as it was featured in the director’s cut DVD of “Saw III”. Therefore, the plans for a full-length CD got delayed and a five track EP was released instead to make this song well-known. When the movie was released in 2006, they played live with STATIC-X and now is the time to finally come up with the full-length album. The band has become a very tight union and they are not afraid to write songs, that might be suitable for radio airplay as well. Just listen to “Fifteen Minutes” and “Disconnect Me” for example. Later on, a very groovy song like “Live Another Day” shows up, which starts off melodic, but soon explodes into a more brutal song. While “The Devil Comes Disguised As Friend” contains even more power. “Fame” is the first single taken off this album and it sounds very catchy indeed. Maybe this will become a potential hit single for the band, who knows?!? If you like your music a bit dark, just play “Contagious”, but if you like it with a little more groove, then listen to “Evil Side”. There’s a lot of variation on here. Check out this new album “Nothing Left To Lose”, if you dare. What have you got to lose?!? Dutch ANOUK fans might want to give this a try, because sometimes HYDROVIBE reminds me of the Dutch rock diva in her rocking days! Website: http://www.hydrovibe.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

IGNITOR-The Spider Queen (Cruz Del Sur Music)
IGNITOR releases their metal opera here. Unfortunately, frontlady Erika left the band late 2007 due to personal reasons. She really had the perfect voice for this band. But when I heard, that Jason McMaster (DANGEROUS TOYS, WATCHTOWER) would be her replacement, I was very delighted indeed, because Mr. McMaster is a true hero in my book. Preceding this third album, a video clip for “Construct Of Destruction” circulated the internet, which was definitely a great pre-taster, so I am very curious what the final album will be like. There are eleven tracks on “The Spider Queen”, which plays for about forty-five minutes. Opener “Magnum Opus” is a good song, but I think that “Evil Calling” sounds so much better. The pounding rhythm, the icely high screams by Jason - it all turns into a perfect heavy metal song. “I Never Knew” is kinda slow and the voice of Jason doesn’t really fit in here. Well, at least that’s my humble opinion. The fast part sounds great though, but when they slow things down, it’s painful to hear that IGNITOR even wrote a song like that. However, they put things right in “Let The Game Begin”, which is a very powerful and dynamic song and the way I expect them to sound. I really enjoy songs like “Angels Descend” or title track “The Spider Queen”, but somehow the drive and power of “Take To The Sky” or “Road Of Bones” are lacking on this album. “Rune Of Power” has got a more traditional IRON MAIDEN-like sound and there’s nothing wrong with that. In “What Love Descends”, we hear a more Rob Halford-like approach by Jason. Next on is their first video clip; “Construct Of Destruction” - definitely one of the highlights on the album for me. The band slows things down a bit with the ‘obligatory’ ballad “My Heart Turns To Dust”. I’m afraid, this isn’t my cup of tea and I hope they don’t make a habit of it. The album closes with “Dynasty Of Darkness”, which is another nice metal song. Nice isn’t a word, that I’d like to use in this IGNITOR review. As you’ve probably guessed by now, this CD doesn’t really have the perfect quality that “Take To The Sky” had in my eyes, although there is nothing wrong with the voice of Jason and the sound of the band. Somehow it’s a mix of those two factors, that don’t always match very well together.Anyway, just buy the damn album and find out for yourself how you like it. I would like to recommend it to every devoted heavy metal fan out there. Joe Petagno, well-known for his work with MOTÖRHEAD, took care of the artwork on the CD, by the way. And he did a very nice job here! IGNITOR consists of Jason mcMaster on vocals, Stuart ‘Batlord’ Laurence on guitar, Beverly Barrington on guitar, Brendon Bigelow on bass and Pat Doyle on drums. Website: http://www.myspace.com/ignitor [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

KANYBL KAOW-Waterproof (independent)
Ha, my favourite meat eating cows send us their new CD! I still remember their first CD in 2007 and when I listen to this one, you can definitely say that these girls (or should I say ladies now?) have gained a lot of musical experiences throughout the years. When listening to CD opener “Yes You”, I would like to come up with a very special music style right away, called Native Indian dark metal, which is in fact what we hear on this album. Their singing refers to the native Indian war chants and their music sounds dark and doomy. Just listen to the groovy, dark sound of “Angus Young” to get an idea here. The raspy voice of the singer makes you wonder, that she is much older, because they sound very mature already. “Heart Of Wood” sounds very melancholic, but the riffs and careful spit out grunts (??) in “Ranger Dave” are definitely showing the much more heavy side of these four ladies. Highlight for me is “Simply 13th St…”, which has got a very nice uptempo rhythm and a good flow. “Plastic Peephole” brings back some melancholy. The vocals sound emotionally and everything fits very well together. “Your Text Here” sounds like an uptempo ballad-type of song. While title track “Waterproof” is another powerful tune and contains some recognisable choir vocals, that are very much upfront in the mix. If you have four band members, who know how to sing, you have to use that skill and KANYBL LAOW did that very well here. Another highlight for me is called “Angel”, which has some very powerful guitar riffs indeed. These riffs return in album-closer “Nickalopollis”. It’s very interesting to hear how these self-taught ladies developed themselves musically and “Waterproof” is definitely another big step forward to Snow, Rain, Whitefeather and Silvermoon. If a lazy, doomy sound is what you like to hear, then I’d suggest to listen to these nice songs, that that these ladies wrote. Be sure to become ‘waterproof’ as well. The ten songs on this silver disc play for a little bit over forty minutes. One little thing though, that I still didn’t get and don’t understand at all. Why did the band print the lyrics for the second album on this one?? I think that only a real ‘kanybl kaow’ will be able to answer this question. Website: http://www.kanybl-kaow.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ANNA KATHARINA-Saitensprung (F.A.M.E. Records/Rock Inc.)
Anna Katharina is the violin player of SCHANDMAUL. I must admit, that this band and their sound don’t really appeal to me, although their later work becomes better each time. This is her solo album, which obviously shows some resemblance to the sound of SCHANDMAUL. The medieval aspect has gone and I think, that the music by Anna Katharina sounds less metal than SCHANDMAUL ever has been. Nonetheless, we will have a listen to it and give it a fair treatment. The CD contains eleven songs and opens with the joyfull sound of “Captains Islay”, which is a nice tune. If “In Der Halle Des Bergkönigs” doesn’t ring a bell to you, than “The Hall Of The Mountain King” surely will, which is the English translation of this second track. You won’t hear any negative remarks about that one. “Nimbu Pani” however is a slow song, which carries some exotic elements. Therefore, it also contains a very low heavy metal level of course. “Zigeunerweise” was originally written by Pablo De Sarasate and as the title already suggests, it’s based on a gypsy hymn. The end of the song is very nice. While in “Loibere Risen”, we hear Anna Katharina sing for the first time. “Hüttenlargo / Nuttentango / Glückskeks” is on next, which sounds very jazzy at times. This CD is merely a mix of pop and jazz and contains a high level of creativity, but it also has got some occasional guitars and a certain level of rock. Therefore, I do not dislike it, but I have my doubts if any of our readers will be interested at all. I like the cheerful fiddle rhythms in “Flying Cow”, which could very well have been on any country & western movie soundtrack or just an old-fashioned cartoon in general. I also like the classical tune “Bach Partita E-Dur” because of its authenticity. It’s followed by “Close Your Eyes”. The CD closes with “Hallelujah”, the well-known LEONARD COHEN song, which was also a huge success for JEFF BUCKLEY once. And even one of the winners from the many Dutch talent scouting programs had a big hit single with this song. Recently, I heard that PAIN OF SALVATION has covered this gospel-like anthem. OK, so how should I rate this non-metal CD? I like the way that Anna Katharina displays herself and as a music fan, I will reward it with a reasonable rating. Metal fans would be recommended to leave it alone, but since it’s Christmas time at the time I am writing this review, I won’t be too hard on this lovely lady and give her a pass. By the way, her partners-in-crime here are: Michael Ende on bass and Specki T.D. on drums. Website: http://www.annakatharina-saitensprung.de/ [6 points] (Toine van Poorten)

KITTIE-In The Black (E1 Entertainment/Massacre Records)
KITTIE sounds as angry as ever on this new album, called “In The Black”. After the instrumental intro “Kingdom Come”, they unleash every possible power in a song, called “My Plague”, which is the perfect opener! “Cut Throat” shows an intensity, that you don’t hear that often. It’s like CRADLE OF FILTH at their very best. In the sadistic sounding “Die My Darling”, we hear the best of Morgan Lander’s vocals. She is really good in switching from brutal growls to very clean vocals and therefore I’d like to point at it as my own personal highlight here . In “Sorrow I Know”, we can almost speak of some introvert singing parts by Morgan, which fits really well to the song, I think. While “Forgive & Forget” brings back all the screams and anger, although it also displays some rather extravagant guitar work by Tara McLeod. Besides Morgan and Mercedes Lander, the band consists of Tara McLeod on guitar and Ivy Vujic on bass guitar right now. The CD continues with “Now Or Never”, in which Morgan shows another good mix of different vocal outings and there’s also some marvellous guitar work here. If you’re judging the album by the guitar sound, then I think that the band shows a lot of progression and has made a giant step back in time to the more traditional sound, which I like a lot . That doesn’t mean, that they don’t sound brutal anymore, but it’s dosed so much better than before. “Falling Down” contains a lot of melody and in a way, it’s one of the most down to earth tracks on this album. “Sleep Walking” sounds dark, followed by “Whisky Love Song”, which is most definitely another highlight on this album. The surprisingly speed changes in the middle and the filthy PANTERA-like riffs at the end of this song are so cool and turn it into another personal favourite of mine, even after hearing it once. “Ready Aim Riot” sounds very brutal again and the album closes after forty minutes and twelve songs with the ultra loud “The Truth”. Oh hell, that last one did hurt a lot. Good heavens, what did Morgan use to sound that angry?!? The beginning could well have been on any MY RUIN album, while later on, it develops into to a real highlight. I think, we can speak of the most complete and best KITTIE album so far. Maybe these ladies want to show us, that they are still alive after a very difficult period in their lives. Recently, Morgan and Mercedes lost their father and I think that they sound more self-assured than they ever did and I hope that the album will make them cope a bit easier with this huge loss. Although it’s a bit over the top to give this album the full score, I will definitely reward it with a ‘nearly’ full score, because the album is definitely worth it. Website: http://www.kittierocks.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

KRYPTERIA-My Fatal Kiss (Roadrunner-Onfire)
KRYPTERIA’s star is rising fast and their fan-base will be growing rapidly with this album, I guess. The band is a cooperation between Korean and German musicians, who play rock music, that is suitable to many people out there. The new album contains eleven new tracks, worthy of approx. fifty minutes of powerful and hot new tracks. Opener “Ignition” is nothing more than the hard rock version of “Ti Sento” by MATIA BAZAR or SCOOTER, if you like. It has received a completely different treatment and it sounds not bad at all. Title track “Fatal Kiss” may not be really special in my eyes, but I was pleasantly surprised by “Why (Did You Stop The World From Turning)”. Mainly because of the nice progressive mid-piece, which gives it just that little more. I also like “For You’ll Bring The Devil Down” very much. It sounds so different from all the hundreds of songs, that I hear during these review sessions. “Deny” on the other band sounds very much uptempo and I really like the dark intro of “The Freak In Me”. It’s not really fair to say, that this album has its ups and downs, because musically this is very high class material, but I don’t hear too many outstanding songs. Sure, there are some occasional outstanding parts or riffs, but that isn’t enough, as far as I’m concerned. I really love the intro riff to “Shoot Me” for example, but then the song turns into something average and they even added a danceable beat to it. The obligatory ballad on the album is called “God I Need Someone”, which sounds very desperate indeed and has a high swoon level. “Now (Start Spreading The Word)” closes the album, but I think that I have had enough for today. KRYPTERIA consists of Ji-In-Cho on vocals, Chris Siemons on guitars, Frank Stumvoll on bass and S.C. Kuschnerus on drums. If you like a mix of gothic metal, symphonic rock, progressive rock and power metal and the input of some choirs and classical elements, then this new KRYPTERIA album might be just the thing, that you are looking for. Website: http://www.krypteria.de. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LAHANNYA-Defiance (Kabuki Records)
I must admit, that I’d never heard of LAHANNYA before, until the band send their CD to us for a review. LAHANNYA consists of Lahannya on vocals, Chris Milden on guitar, Lutz Demmler on bass and Belle on drums. You can put this album into the gothic category, but it also has some industrial, alternative and pop influences as well. A name, like GARBAGE comes to mind for a second, but I’ll leave it to that. LAHANNYA has already gained a lot of experience at some festivals, like the well-known Metal Female Voices Festival in Wieze, Belgium. The band hails from England and they have previously released an album, called “Shotgun Reality” and an EP, called “Welcome To The Underground”. After short opener “Prelude”, they get going with a sound, that might appeal to many goth lovers out there. Most songs here are easy on the ears and they are not really going into extremes. “Adrenaline” sounds very joyful, but the danceable beats are not really my cup of tea, I’m afraid. “Interference” is an uptempo tune and it will even invite you to sing along to it. Call this catchy if you like, but I wouldn’t categorise it as being commercial. Therefore, they have too much to offer. The industrial riffs and beats in “Piece By Piece” seem to appeal to me in a certain way and I’m not kiddin’ here. The dark riffs in “Kill Me If You Care” turn this song into a real highlight for me. And you can easily add “No Way Out” to those highlights as well. The CD closes with “Our War”, which contains more industrial influences. If catchy, melodic, danceable rock and pop is your thing, you can lend an ear to LAHANNYA. If you’re only interested in banging your head on ultra loud and wild guitar riffs and songs, this might sound a bit too soft for you. Website: http://www.lahannya.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MADDER MORTEM-Eight Ways (Peaceville Records)
Norway's MADDER MORTEM have already been around since 1997. They were always a band that I would hear about and read about, but I never actually had the pleasure sampling their music before now. They have just released their fifth album "Eight Ways" and I couldn't have hope for a better introduction to a band. I have heard their music described as progressive metal, but that term is a bit misleading as it applies to this band. They play a strong mix of various styles and are one of those rare bands that are really tough to categorize. The opening track "Formaldehyde" begins with a dreamy, ethereal vibe, before developing into a heavier number, that just grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go. The next song "The Little Things" is a big highlight. The acapella-like opening is a bit disarming, but very cool nonetheless. The track has a great melody over a rock solid guitar riff and many interesting tempo changes. The next track is "Armour". This one starts off a bit slow than builds up some steam as the riffs get heavier and huge. If I am not mistaken the band did a video for this track. Good choice. "Resolution" and "A Different Kind Of Hell" keep things on a steady track. Other highlights include "Riddle Wants To Be", "Where Dream And Day Collide", "Get That Monster Out Of Here", "All I Know" and the album closing nine minute epic "The Eighth Wave". Every one of the twelve songs on this disc, features some heavy and crunchy guitar riffs. The vocals of Agnete M. Kirkevaag are really impressive and another highpoint that makes this CD so enjoyable. She has a very unique vocal style, but she really puts her heart and soul in her vocal delivery and it is impossible not to sit up and take notice. You can feel the raw emotion emanating from your speakers. The music on "Eight Ways" may be tough to digest at first, but after a few listens, it really starts to sink in and grow. The songs are so well crafted and there is so much going on in each track that it makes listening to them a bit of an adventure. One thing is for certain, you have to respect the talent and effort that went into making the twelve tracks and sixty-five minutes worth of music on "Eight Ways". It is definitely an adventure worth taking. Prog never sounded so good. [9 points] (Tony Cannella)

MANDROGORA SCREAM-Volturna (Lunatic Asylum Records/Massacre Records)
MANDRAGORA SCREAM present "Volturna", their fourth album and the first to feature the new line-up, with Max River and Furyo joining on bass and drums respectively. If you can imagine what WITHIN TEMPTATION might sound like had they been inspired more by horror literature, and featured Spanish and more classical influences, you'd have something very similar to this. Stand-out tracks include "A Chance For Him", and potential club dancefloor-filler, "The Seagull's Creed". The two covers featured on this album, CHER's "Bang Bang" and VISAGE's pop classic "Fade To Grey", are almost unrecognisible, especially the former, as the band have opted to re-work both songs in their own unique style rather than copy what's already been done before. The production on this album offers little to complain about, with a crystal-clear sound - often a rarity in an age where too many bands are offering little more than distorted chuggy riffs. If you're into gothic rock acts, but prefer bands who like to experiment, this album may just be for you. This might appeal to fans of LORDI, DOMMIN, RAM-ZET, and vampiric themes/literature. [8 points] (Tony Cannella)

NEMESEA-Pure: Live @ P3 (Sellaband)
I have to admit, that I very much liked the symphonic sound of NEMESEA on their previous albums “Mana” and “In Control”. And I also must tell you, that I like live albums a lot in general. When I heard, that NEMESEA would release a live album, recorded at P3 in Purmerend, NL, I became rather anxious hearing the final result. NEMESEA consists of Manda Ophuis on vocals, Hendrik Jan de Jong on guitar, Sonny Onderwater on bass, Steven Bouma on drums and Lasse Dellbrugge on keyboards. The seventeen songs on this disc include a lot of instrumental solo spots and it plays for a full hour. After the instrumental “Intro”, things get started with “In Control”, which is a very strong opener. I can assure you, that NEMESEA is fully in control what they’re doing here and prove is given here. “No More” is pretty catchy, but it’s also very well-structured and it definitely does not sound commercial. “Lost Inside” shows that the band is capable of writing exciting songs. Catchy, yet powerful and with the strong vocals by Manda upfront in the mix - really beautiful! “Home” is a short song, that slows things down a bit. While “2010” sounds futuristic and a lot of keyboards dominate the song. Although 2010 doesn’t sound that futuristic anymore, because at the time I write this review, it’s already January 2010. “Never” contains more keyboards and it also displays some symphonic influences of the band. There are even a few danceable beats around. “Frozen Crystals” contains some musical improvisations. And although this is just some kind of a short interlude, it shows the great skills of the musicians, followed by a bass solo. A lot of people think, this is the perfect time to fetch themselves another beer at the bar. But I am a big fan of bass solos, drum solos and guitar solos. So count me out and I’ll gladly enjoy these short interludes instead. “The Way I Feel” is a duet with CUBWORLD, who performs through a video screen on these live recordings. The next song “I Believe” is some kind of introduction to the guitar solo. It would be very suitable for radio airplay, if you’d ask my opinion, but I’m afraid this is not going to happen. Just listen the way Manda lashes out on this one. She sounds just amazing! Like the title suggests, “Lucifer” is a very powerful piece of music, which includes some symphonic blast beats as well. And if there is no such thing in your perception, then it’s NEMESEA who invented it, I guess. At the end of the song, it’s time for the drummer to show his skills. After “Broken”, the band grabs back to their debut album with one of the most requested songs, taken from that very album, called “Angel In The Dark”. After “Like The Air”, we’re getting ready for the ‘piece the resistance’ here, which is the exciting dance track “No Good (Start The Dance)”, a cover song originally recorded by THE PRODIGY. “Pure: Live @P3” has lived up to my expectations and even more. A pure and honest live recording by NEMESEA, who prove to be a very solid symphonic rock band on stage. A real nice album to listen to, especially because of the variety in songs and music. Website: http://www.nemesea.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

NOVA ORBIS-Imago (Lugga Music Productions)
If you’ve never heard of NOVA ORBIS, you don’t have to feel ashamed of yourself. After all, the band hails from Colombia, South America and you won’t find their album really easily. But with a little help of the internet and My Space, you might be able to trace down this album somehow. The sound of NOVA ORBIS can be categorised as gothic metal with some progressive and symphonic sidesteps and influences. The horror-like intro of “Castle Of Exile” sounds quite exciting already. And I must say, that I was also very delighted with the speed and sphere changes in “Unstable Mind”. This is not your usual thirteen in a dozen gothic metal, I can assure you that much! The song structures are well-thought of and their sound is adventurous and shows a lot of variety. Imagine those heads banging and hair waving during the first riffs of “Dark Delusion”. This song develops into a nice piece of work with very lengthy, symphonic sounding, instrumental parts. These parts are being repeated in a song called “Ancient Guardian”, which closes with a beautiful vocal part by frontlady Ann Maria Barajas. “Change” starts off as a ballad-type of song, but the progressive elements are surfacing pretty soon. In here, the band uses traditional Colombian instruments, like the tiple (mainly used in folk music) and the bandola (similar to a mandoline). “Love Remains” opens with some male vocals. Two of the male members sing on this album as well. That gives me a nice opportunity to introduce the band to you. Besides vocalist Ana Maria Barajas, we have José David Barajas on guitar and vocals, Jorge A. Gutiérrez on guitar and vocals, David Martinez on keyboards, Rodolfo Cáliz on bass and Jose F. Osorio on drums. “The Lamp” is on next, which starts off with male vocals. The song develops into a duet, that slightly sounds a bit commercial. “Sarah Deserves To Rest” has got some catchy riffs in the beginning and actually the whole song has got a very catchy feel until the end. I did very much enjoy the beautiful voice by Ana Maria in this one. Now, “Falling Of The Empire” is really something special. It starts with some radio fragments, while throughout the song it’s being overruled by keyboards and a fast galloping beat. The choir vocals are subtle and not that bombastic, but it definitely has some influences of bands like WITHIN TEMPTATION and/or EPICA here. The CD closes with a song called “Wisdom Hunter” and there you have it. You have entered the ‘new world’ of NOVA ORBIS. “Imago” has become a very exciting debut album, that will surely grow on you, when you give it more spins. You can contact the band, by writing to: nova.orbis@gmail.com. Website: http://www.myspace.com/novaorbis. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

OMEGA LITHIUM-Dreams In Formaline (Drakkar Entertainment)
Did you ever wonder how metal would sound like in Croatia? I didn’t, but I’m about to tell you. OMEGA LITHIUM’s debut album contains eleven songs with a running time of almost forty minutes. This means that you’ll get to hear some short, but catchy tracks. However, their sound is spiced up a bit by mechanic beats, electronic beeps and industrial riffs. It’s like EVANESCENCE or LACUNA COIL going industrial, so to speak. And definitely the sound, that true metal heads warned you about not to listen to. On the other hand, there’s the beautiful voice by nineteen year old Mya Mortensen, who brings it all back to balance for me. Besides Mya, OMEGA LITHIUM consists of Malice Rime on guitar, Zoltan Harpax on bass and Torsten Nihil on drums. The prominent keyboards in “Haunted Self” fit really well to the band, in my opinion. There are some male voices here as well and it’s a highly enjoyable track. Maybe CREMATORY could be a point of reference here. But the electronic sounds at the beginning of title track “Dreams In Formaline” take away all my earlier and positive thoughts. A few heavy riffs appear, making it a bit more bearable to hear this one out. Still, in “Andromeda” they start throwing in some dance beats. Arghhhh, I don’t need that! This is food for PRODIGY fans and not me. “Nebula” sounds very enjoyable with its dark character. Afterwards, all the excitement seems to fade away. The dark closure of “Factor Misery” sound very spooky and horror-like, but if this is about to save the album, I don’t know?!? “Angel’s Holocaust” and “Point Blank” close the album, that ended up on the wrong desk, if you ask my honest opinion. Okay, because of the beautiful voice of Mya, I’ll give it the benfit of the doubt. The band is still young, unexperienced and things could change for the best on their next album. If they don’t put more metal to their sound though, I’m afraid they’ll end up like a lamb at the slaughterhouse. And that’s a place where you don’t want to be. Website: http://www.omegalithium.com/ [6 points] (Toine van Poorten)

OTEP-Smash The Control Machine (Victory Records)
OTEP is a cult name in our book. We simply L-O-V-E this lady, who makes a fist to all female musicians in the heavy metal scene. She has the guts & power and stands for what she believes in and that’s exactly what we aim for as well. We were very curious to hear her new album “Smash The Control Machine”. The title already suggests, that Otep Shamaya is still angry. Something she shows very well in CD opener “Rise Rebel Resist”. The album consists of thirteen new tracks with a running time of sixty-five minutes. And if you buy the deluxe edition, like we did of course, you’ll get a bonus DVD with poetry reading and a thirty minutes interview with the lady herself. “Sweet Tooth” makes your adrenaline flow a bit slower, but the anger is kept for later, when the band bashes it out real loud. I think, that she was getting ready to “Smash The Control Machine” in her next song. A lot of anger gets unleashed here, and if you listen carefully to her lyrics, a point is made as well. “Head” starts a little bit more with controled hate and power, but this doesn’t really take long and the spoken word lyrics have to take place for some powerful screaming. “Numb & Dumb” is another uptempo track, before OTEP takes back speed in the groovy “Oh, So Surreal”. “Run For Cover” is definitely one of the highlights for me. This is what nu-metal is all about! Groovy and heavy. “Kisses & Kerosene” sounds a bit spooky and it’s definitely not for the faint-hearted out there. It could give you terrible nightmares. That’s the strength of this lady. She sings it so real, that the thin line between fiction and the real world almost disappears. She sings her lyrics not only by voice, but with all of her heart. “Unveiled” is again groovy and the different vocal ranges are spread out wide on this one. “UR A WMN NOW” must be read as ‘You Are A Woman Now’, which is a poetic ballad-type of song. Better prepare yourself right now for the vicious attack of “Serv Asat”. There’s no escape and if you’re not careful enough, it will make your eardrums bleed. This is certainly another highlight on this great album for me! Next one is “Where The River Ends”. It ‘s a rather lengthy track, which sounds exciting every minute of it. After about four minutes of silence, a hidden track suddenly pops up, that very well could be on the soundtrack of a good horror movie, like for example the “Saw” sequel. The working class hero has found himself an album with a message, telling you to smash the control machine, no matter how small it is. A wise lesson by this absolutely brilliant band. In fact, OTEP is more than just a band. They have a clear vision on things from which you can learn a wise lesson, although sometimes it’s well-hidden in the lyrics by Mrs Shamaya. While listening to the album, you can read about the lyrics and the poems by Otep in the fifty-two page booklet, that comes with the CD / DVD set. Otep ‘Danger’ Shamaya’s band consists of Brian ‘Haggis Wollf on drums, ‘Evil’ J McGuirre on bass and Aaron Nordstrom on guitar. Website: http://www.otep.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ANA POPOVIC-Blind For Love (Eclecto Groove Records)
ANA POPOVIC is a very well-known name in today’s blues scene. And with this new album “Blind Love”, she shows us why. Blues knows a lot of different styles and many of these are implemented on this new album. “Nothing Personal” contains some nice guitar solos, which is a good start. “Wrong Woman” sounds more soulful and funky, although the solo has got a real bluesy feel. “Steal Me Away” shows a total different side by Ana and her boys and it breaths a smokey, almost swampy atmosphere. Title track “Blind For Love” is a tender ballad, whereas “More Real” has got an intimate, tender, jazzy touch to it. “Putting Out The APB” sounds like unsophisticated Southern rock to me, putting a bit more power into their sound. “Get Back Home To You” is a slightly bluesy tune with a lot of groove, including a horn section. While “The Only Reason” is a laid back jazzy type of song. The funk is back in “Part Of Me (Lullaby For Luck)”, where Ana swings it out. There’s more funk in “Need Your Love” and the piece the resistance is a real good slow blues, called “Blues For M”. This is the definite highlight for me. Ana puts more soul, jazz and funk influences on this album, while I like her a lot more as a blues performer. Some thin lines are almost invisible. You may think that something is blues, while another person thinks, it sounds like jazz. These debates can go on, but I must say this sure is another high quality album! Because of the variety in the songs, a lot of people will probably enjoy it. The twelve songs are worthy of forty-five minutes of cool blues-edged music. Ana’s partners in crime are Ronald Jonker on bass and Andrew ‘Blaze’ Thomas on drums, while being on tour. In the studio, she is helped out by the same people plus Tony Braunagel on drums and Mike Finnigan on keyboards. Website: http://www.anapopovic.com/ [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

PYTHIA-Beneath The Veiled Embrace (Golden Axe Records)
PYTHIA is a melodic gothic, power metal band and they hail from England. The band just released their debut album “Beneath The Veiled Embrace”, mixed and mastered by Jacob Hansen (ROB ROCK, DESTRUCTION, HATESPHERE, WITHOUT GRIEF, etc.) and featuring ten images by Hanley Madden. Let’s first introduce the people to you, responsible for these ten tracks, that play for forty-five minutes. We have Emily Alice Ovenden on vocals (a published novelist and member of MEDIAEVAL BAEBES), Marc Dyos on drums, Ross White on guitar, Tim Neale on guitar, Andrew Nixon Corfield on bass and Richard Holland on keyboards. PYTHIA overwhelms their listener in “Sweet Cantation” by taking away in fifth gear. The power is there, the speed is high and this is certainly a very blazing introduction! I think, it could be a very suitable opener for their live shows. “Sarah (Bury Her)” sounds less powerful (actually, this will be their first CD single) and it shows the more gothic part in their music. Names like WITHIN TEMPTATION and NIGHTWISH come to mind, because of the voice of Amily Alice, who has a beautiful soprano voice, that matches very well to their music. “Tristan” opens with a spoken word part and contains a nice guitar solo in the middle. The power metal styled “Ride For Glory” shows, that this band can also rock out very hard. This title could very well have been on any MANOWAR album. “My Pale Prince” is very bombastic and the keyboards are in front of the music to create these sphereful sounds. “Eternal Darkness” on the other hand sounds very powerful, while the band takes back some speed in “What You Wish For” and shows a more gothic face. “Oedipus” is on next and the band gains some speed. Then a more melodic face appears and the song might even be suitable for radio airplay. “Army Of The Damned” is another powerful song and it also features a guest appearance by ‘living legend’ and English actor Brian Blessed. The CD closes with a song, called “No Compromise”. The choir vocals on this one add a more bombastic feel to it. I was very impressed by the strength of this band and I do think, they will become a fine support act for PAGAN’S MIND during their tour. PYTHIA is certainly a name to remember. For more info, go to their website at: http://www.pythiamusic.com or http://www.myspace.com/pythiamusic. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

RAMPART-Voice Of The Wilderness (Inferno Records)
RAMPART hails from Bulgaria. And if you think, that they can’t play heavy metal over there, then you’d better reconsider. Opener “Under Control” sets the pace on this nine tracker and from there on, we are treated on forty-five minutes of old school heavy metal. “Under Control” contains some influences of STRATOVARIUS, GAMMA RAY and HELLOWEEN. It’s the kind of metal, you would describe as ‘happy metal’. It definitely gets better, when “Warriors” takes off, which grabs back to PRETTY MAIDS and the early IRON MAIDEN days. As you can see, RAMPART stands firmly with both feet in the eighties and I can only support that. The band consists of three metal heads. Borislav Glavev plays drums, Yavor Kamenov plays bass and guitar and on female vocals, there’s Maria Doychinova. Just listen to the words of title track “Voice Of The Wilderness”, which musically takes back to IRON MAIDEN and early HELLOWEEN. And because of the rather low voice of Maria, you can also add ZED YAGO and VELVET VIPER to this list. By the way, the song has got some innovative speed changes and don’t forget the very impressive guitar solo during the speed accelerations!! “The Flood” is another fast song with some mindblowing guitar work! After that, the band slows things down a bit for a melodic power ballad, called “Dessert Of Time”, which is a true epic masterpiece. Here you will definitely notice the IRON MAIDEN influences most, I think. Which isn’t a real shame, because many old school heavy metal bands have been influenced by this very successful band one way or the other. “Orchrist” is another ballsy rocker, followed by the obligatory ballad off the album, called “Age Of Steel”. “Mirror To Dreams” sounds a bit more commercial. It’s not suitable for radio airplay, but in a way you can call it very catchy. The CD closes with one of my faves: a song called “Stay Aside” (ZED YAGO / VELVET VIPER style), where they raise their sword one more time. The cover art also breaths the old school heavy metal feeling, so I suggest that every old school metal fan should buy a copy of this wonderful album or else… Who said again, that there’s no heavy metal in Bulgaria?? Go and be ashamed of yourself. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

RAM-ZET-Neutralized (Ascendance Records/Hard Life Productions)
RAM-ZET has released a new album, called "Neutralized". It's almost impossible to define this band. It's not black metal, neither is it nu-metal, gothic metal, industrial metal and it's not alternative metal either. But what the hell is it?? Just put these styles together and call it extreme metal and you'll come close to the unpolished sound they’ve created on this album. The eight songs together have a playing time of almost an hour. Opener "Infamia" will already point you at that melting pot of styles and you almost sense, that you're in for something special. Wait and see and you will find it in the schizophrenic, almost sick "I Am Dirt", when the band juggles with the well-known concept of male-female vocals in a different way than we know of most gothic-based bands. There is a kind of dark, evil atmosphere lurking behind this groovy song. The guitar solo near the end is the cherry on the cake. "222" starts industrial and loud and there’s even a jazzy part at the end. Yes, the variation might be that extreme sometimes. "Addict" is a lengthy song, that starts with distorted vocals, creating a very groovy sound. It's one of my faves already. Especially near the end, when the band surprises everybody with a very strange, but beautiful long rollercoaster ride of styles. It could very well have been done by PINK FLOYD or some other progressive dinosaurs. It really takes some guts to do these surprisingly things, but I like it a lot. "God Don't Forgive" gives the listener a little bit of rest, before they have to swallow the lengthy "Beautiful Pain". It starts with a strange horror-like theme with screams in the distance. Right now, I'm sitting on the tip of my chair, because what weird sounds will enter my room in the next ten minutes? Will somebody be tortured here?? The female vocals sounds sick or is this just my imagination? Then the fast power metal riffs are galloping through the room and the moaning change into wild screams, followed by blast beats and some NOTRE DAME-like singing parts. Are you still with me?? The song closes with acoustic guitars. It's incredible, how big the transition is, when you hear the brutal industrial sounds of "To Ahes". This song also knows some nice surprises, when strings and keyboards compete with each other. The doom aspects, that I didn't mention yet are unleashed in this track. They slowly drag this album to the final song, called "Requiem", another lengthy masterpiece of mixed styles. You'll have to push the ‘fast forward’ button to discover a short, bonus track. RAM-ZET is definitely a band to check out, no matter what style you prefer, because every possible music style is included on "Neutralized". A magnificent new album by this Norwegian extreme metal band. A band that consists of Zet on vocals and guitars, Sfinx on vocals, Sareeta on violin and backing vocals, Küth on drums, Lanius on bass and didgeridoo and KA on keyboards and backing vocals. Fans may already know, that their acoustic performance in Hamar, Norway in October 2008 will soon be release on DVD. For more information, go to http://www.ram-zet.com or http://www.myspace.com/ramzetofficial. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THEATRE OF TRAGEDY-Forever Is The World (AFM Records/Rock Inc.)
It's no secret that the long running Norwegian band THEATRE OF TRAGEDY have rich history and have been highly influential on many of today's bands. Thanks in part to the tremendous work they did on their first three albums. After that the bands direction changed course and they released a couple techno/electronic CDs, that polarized many of their fan base. Say what you want about those two CDs ("Musique" and "Assembly") it was a bold move to tackle uncharted musical territories. Following the departure of original female vocalist Liv Kristine the band soldiered on with her replacement Nell Sigland and released a solid album ("Storm") that was - in part - a return to their old vibe - while still moving full speed ahead - and was a welcomed return by many long time fans. Now the band is back with a new CD with the curious title of "Forever Is The World". One thing you have to admire about THEATRE OF TRAGEDY is that they have always made the the kind of music, that they want to and with "Forever Is The World" that continues. "Hide And Seek" begins things with an eerie vibe. This is actually a really good opener that sees Raymond Rohonyi starting off with a sinister sounding growl type of vocals before Nell Sigland joins in on the chorus. This song has a very dark quality to it that really makes it a favorite of mine. "A Nine Days Wonder" is next and sees Nell handling the bulk of the vocals on this one. The song contains a solid riff throughout that is just steady and like a guiding hand for the song. "Revolution", "Transition" and "Hollow" keep things moving along steadily. Other highlights include: "Frozen", "Deadland" and the fabulous title track "Forever Is The World" which brings the CD to it's conclusion. The guitars are definitely up front throughout the CD and the CD is a good mix of their classic stuff and the more experimental musical approach that the band have been known for. It would be unfair to judge "Forever Is The World" based on the awesomeness of the earlier Theatre of Tragedy material. This is TOT in 2009 and beyond. The future looks indeed bright for this long running metal band. If you (like me) thought that "Storm" was a return to greatness, than "Forever Is The World" should appeal to you. [8 points] (Tony Cannella)

SCAIRY BITCHES-The Island Of The Damned (Plastic Head/Resurrection)
SCAIRY BITCHES from England are back with a new album. I liked their album “Lesbian Vampyres From Outer Space” very much, because their music fitted very well to the band’s image. Their second album “Creepy Crawlies” didn’t add much to that, except of the fact that the few references to rock and metal had nearly disappeared on this one. This third album is just for old time’s sake, I guess. Musically, there isn’t really anything, that would be interesting for the rock or metal fan in general. Sure, the humor is still there and the horror feeling might be there as well. Some fans may want to taste it, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. “Lung Cancer” or “Come Dance With Me” are relatively good songs, but you must also prepare yourself to a dose of pop/rock, disco and dance beats, which are overruling this album. “Doppelganger” would sound fine on a Moscovian birthday party or during Halloween in St Petersburg. Most likely, vampires out there will probably dig their sound, because these ladies are still into the weird, dark side of life. We won’t let these ladies down, but they’ve got to understand, that we’re a metal ‘zine and it’s much too little for a score. Anyway, if you still want to know more about these SCAIRY BITCHES, you can go to http://www.thescairybitches.com. SCAIRY BITCHES consist of Alma Geddon on lead guitar and vocals, DEADri Ransiid on keyboards, vocals and saxophone, Bet The Lincher on electronic drums, percussion and vocals and Little Alma (Alma’s ‘doll’ doppleganger), the band’s good luck charm, I believe. [5 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SIEGFRIED-Nibelung (Napalm Records)
SIEGFRIED is an epic metal band from Austria. This new album proves that the band are still masters of epic metal. Despite the fact, that they have a new rhythm section, they still know to astound their fans with a sound that fits “Der Ring Der Nibelungen” very well. Everything comes together in the title track, that opens this album. The fast riffs in “Fafnir” are great and the icely high screams by cult hero Bruder Clé (hail, my friend, I deeply bow for you!!) calls in the help of two other vocalists to perform the well-known opera parts of Richard Wagner. Of course we hear ELIS frontlady Sandra Schleret do the female vocal parts and we also hear Werner Bialek playing the part of young warrior Siegfried. The variation in different vocal styles is simply amazing, but you are also able to enjoy the musicianship of the various instrumentalists here. We hear Johannes Leierer on bass, Patrick Schrittwieser on drums, Schattwan (Johannes Krause) on keyboards and Ortwin (Daniel Bachmaier) on guitar. “Die Propheheizung” is definitely one of the highlights here, because of its high traditional rock level. In general, this album contains a high level of bombastic, theatrical sounding metal parts with many choir vocals, string arrangements and orchestral parts. Classical influences and metal riffs come together and form the solid basis of the sound of SIEGFRIED. I would say, that “Sachsensturm” sounds like a real battle hymn, which makes it another highlight to me. The different vocals add a lot of strength to this particular song. “Totenwacht” has a leading role for Sandra. It sounds very emotional and she really lifts the song up to a higher level with her fantastic voice. Brutal growls sound on “Der Todesmarsch” and you can almost sense ‘death’ when Bruder Clé growls ‘der Tod’ at the end of the song. The CD closes with a ballad, called “Götterdammerung”. The band pulls out the last drop of strength on this one. It’s not easy for a metal band to play the music by Richard Wagner, but his music has got a lot more in common than you’d think at first sight. These striking resemblances are shown on this great album by SIEGFRIED and they do it very well. Website: http://www.myspace.com/siegfriedmetal [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SKUNK ANANSIE-Smashes Trashes (Little Indian Records)
SKUNK ANANSIE are back in the ring and to celebrate this happy occasion, we are able to enjoy this exclusive package, which contains two CDs and two DVDs. CD one contains a ‘best of’ collection of songs, while the second CD features the best of remixes. The first DVD shows all the video clips, that SKUNK ANANSIE ever made, and the second DVD contains live, rare and unseen footage. A must have for the real fan, I would say. I will strictly focus on the audio material alone in this review though. The first CD contains fifteen tracks, that run for a bit over a full hour. It shows the diversity of SKUNK ANANSIE, ranging from very powerful rock songs like “I Can Dream” to emotional laden pop songs, like “Hedonism” or “Secretly”, which still contains a lot of groove and the wild screams by Skin. The anger of frontlady Skin is showed best in a song like “Weak”, in which she screams her lungs out. For god’s sake, what a voice! There are three new tracks included here as well for the die-hard fan, who already have everything by the band, so they will buy this album, too. “Tear The Place Up” takes Skin where she belongs and that is up the barricades. She screams out loud, that she will ‘Tear The Place Up’, and it’s a fantastic powerful song, as far as I’m concerned. “Because Of You” is the second new track on the album. This is yet another powerful song, that would look good on any SKUNK ANANSIE album. A safe choice perhaps, but on the other hand you should never change a winning team. And I always thought about SKUNK ANANSIE as a winning team. “Twisted” has always been my favourite SKUNK ANANSIE song for its catchiness and strength. The last new track is a song called “Squander”, which is a very tender ballad type of song. The new songs sum up what SKUNK ANANSIE is all about. Powerful, ‘fist in the air’ songs, catchy rock tunes and a ballad here and there. I think, that every fan will like these new tracks, because they match so well to the other material and they have not implemented any style change or something like that. In “Selling Jesus”, it’s time to raise our fists and yell again, before slowly getting to the end of this first CD. Now this second CD contains twelve remixes and runs for almost seventy-five minutes (what???!!!). I can imagine, that it’s all a bit too much for the average rock fan. Maybe it would have been a much better choice, if they would have added a live show here, but that is my own personal opinion. We could do with a good SKUNK ANANSIE live album, don’t we?!? But anyways, here’s some words about the remixes CD. I really don’t know. I actually hate remixes. They contain disco beats, dance beats, electronic beeps and they don’t really add anything at all to the original versions. Let me tell you this. I’ve listened to the twelve songs, but not one of them can top the original song. And I want to leave this for what it is: a collection of songs, remixed by losers, who can’t do a job of their own and feel the urge to rape songs of a rock band, that actually is original. The end score of this audio section won’t reach the high score I would have given, when this second CD would have been a live one. But the first CD and the two DVDs surely make up for that monster of a remixes CD. What a pile of shit! The very poor CD cover art doesn’t do any justice to this album as well. Everything is in black and a picture or a good story in the booklet would have made this compilation so much more interesting than it is now. Website: http://www.skunkanansie.net. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SUICIDE CITY-Frenzy (The End Records)
I guess, many of you are not really familiar with the band SUICIDE CITY. That’s not a crime, but I guess that some people might want to check out this band, when they know that some members already had an interesting career before they joined this metal outfit from the US. The band consists of Karl Bernholtz (THE GROOVENICS) on vocals, Billy Graziadei (BIOHAZARD) on vocals and guitar, Danny Lamagma on drums, A.J. Marchetta on guitar and Jennifer Arroyo (KITTIE) on bass guitar. A nice combo, who plays some nice music. You must definitely like a punk band, such as GREEN DAY, but well, who doesn’t?!? Their music is easy on the ears and very cheerful. Opener “First Cut” (what an original song title!) is short and instrumental. “Cutter” is very much punk, while “Sex And Dying” has some GREEN DAY influences. “The Only Track Not About Sex Or Dying” is only just a short, instrumental interlude. “Painted House” has got a more groovy attitude, backed up by a more punk-like background. The band has already gained a lot of experience, while being on the road. Not only with their previous bands, but also with SUICIDE CITY, that toured with the likes of GWAR, LIFE OF AGONY, DANZIG and OTEP. “Frenzy” is the band’s first full-length album, after releasing an EP in 2005 and the self-produced live DVD “Live From CBGBs”. “Chemical Fight” sounds very groovy, which will probably appeal to many listeners out there, I think. “Spanish Fly” and “She Waits” sound a bit more alternative and the fifteen seconds “She Waits In A European Nightclub” is nothing more but a filler. “Start The Show” is a groovy rock tune, mixed with some dance sounds. Which is very difficult for me to comprehend, especially from a band with a history like that. Anyway, the album contains fifteen songs, some of them don’t even reach a minute limit though, but the total playing time is about fifty minutes. The slow song “Lost Years” closes the album, followed by another filler as hidden track. The combination of musicians might grown out to some kind of super group status in their own music style, but the album sure could do with a little more brutality. Website: http://www.suicidecity.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

AMANDA WHITE-Toyshop (independent)
Once in a while we receive CDs by singers or singer/songwriters, who want us to listen to their album and write some words about it. Most of the time, it is quite remarkable how much talent there is, that we’ve never even heard about. Okay, not everything could be categorized as metal or maybe even rock. But you can hear the high quality of the product, which is always very interesting. Because we serve a broad audience on the internet, there are always people, who are interested in high quality artists. “Toyshop” by AMANDA WHITE is such a CD. It contains ten tracks, worthy of a bit over forty minutes of high quality rock music. “Midnight Bride” is a nice opener, in which Amanda already points out in which direction this album will be heading. A mix of pop and rock, but again of quite a high quality. In title track “Toyshop”, I hear a guitar cry and Amanda’s voice shows a little similarity to TORI AMOS and KELLY CLARKSON. Okay, more songs like this and the album would definitely be rated far above average in my book. And she does this right away with a song, that got the funny title “Monica’s Getting Her Tits Done”. A ‘tongue in cheek’ title for this very nice up tempo rock song. “Vision” on the other hand has got some nightclub jazz influences and takes back some speed here and there. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as it’s done with style, which is definitely the case here. While “Kay” put some balls back into the album and contains another guitar solo. Listening to the voice of Amanda in this particular song, her varied music style could come in handy for a leading vocal part in a musical. And by looking carefully at her biography, it tells me that she already has a link with theatres and musicals, which can be heard very well on these songs. “The Sky Is Close” sounds very light and is easy on the ears and so does “The Reason”. “A Carol” contains a bit more power and in the background I hear some nice rocking riffs. One of the highlights on the CD for me for that matter. “Snowshadow” is a short ballad type of song, which leads us to the last song already, called “Pull Me Up”. AMANDA WHITE is certainly a name to remember. She brings you an album full of catchy pop rock tunes, that may appeal to a lot of readers out there. You can find more information about her at: http://www.notjustanotherprettyvoice.com. And of course we thank Amanda for sending her CD! [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

WILDE STARR-Arrival (Furnace Maximus Records)
This is the debut album by WILDE STARR, a cooperation between London Wilde and Dave Starr (ex-VICIOUS RUMORS, DAVID T CHASTAIN). Dave plays guitar and bass on the album and together with the beautiful voice of London you might call this some kind of bridge between EVANESCENCE and VICIOUS RUMORS. Can you imagine that? London’s vocals are the EVANESCENCE part and Dave’s guitar work taking care of the VICIOUS RUMORS part. Just listen to opener “Rose In The Dark” and the title track “Arrival” to get the idea. “Touching God” opens with some wilder riffs, but it’s in fact much slower in the choruses. The brutal male vocals are a nice combination with the voice of London here. “Rise” is definitely one of the highlights on the album for me. The high-pitched vocals remind you of JUDAS PRIEST in a way. Terrific! “In This World” is a melodic, dark rock song. The high screams, that I was waiting for, return in “Generation Next” - a short heavy rocker with some mindboggling axe work. I really wish, there were more songs like this on the album! This is really another highlight for me! “Nevermore” sounds like a pumping power ballad. “Voice In The Silence” and the heavy “The Chain” close this fantastic album. The cooperation between these two artists is simply excellent and I hope, that they can live up to this high standard on stage as well. But taking in consideration the enormous experience and devotion of Dave and London, I think it will. (Vicious) Rumo(u)r(s) goes, that they are already working on a follow up to this great debut album. Can’t wait to hear it! “Arrival” contains ten tracks and runs for about fifty-five mintues of pure rock and metal. http://www.wildestarr.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

WITCHBREED-Heretic Rapture (Ascendance Records)
WITCHBREED hails from Portugal and consists of Ruby on vocals, Filipe on guitar, Ares on bass, Dikk on guitar and Hollow on drums. If you think, that Portugal isn’t a metal country, you’d better think again. Of course we already know MOONSPELL, but WITCHBREED is a bit more my cup of tea. “Heretic Rapture” contains thirteen tracks and runs about fifty minutes. After the instrumental opener, the band surprises me with the catchy and very nice opener “Symphony For The Fallen”. Powerful guitar work, nice vocals and good instrumental parts will make you desire to hear more. Obviously, there will be people, who’d like to hear some names to compare this band with. To them I’d say, think in the direction of NIGHTWISH and/or old THE GATHERING stuff, but then with more guitar riffs. Ruby has a beautiful voice, which is really easy to listen to and the catchiness of each song is pretty high. Some songs might even be suitable for radio airplay. “Rebel Blood” is one of the highlights on this album for me, because of its very catchy approach. “Medeusa” opens with a bass part by former MOONSPELL bassplayer Ares. He takes the lead again in “Ignis Bellum”, which slows things down a bit. What remains though are the shivers, that will run down your spine, while listening to Ruby’s voice in the song, that follows after this short instrumental interlude. It’s called “Ruby Light Of The West”, which refers to frontlady Ruby here of course. “Fang & Claw” is much slower, which sounds perhaps in the LACUNA COIL tradition in a way, while in “External Exile”, the fast drum beats are back again and the heavy riffs are also very upfront in the mix. I really like the emotional voice in “Unspoken Vow”, although you can not categorise this as a ballad in my opinion. “Eden’s End” is the last powerful explosion on this album, before outro “Heretica” takes it to an end. Again I must state, that I am positively surprised by these Portuguese metalheads, who know to impress their listener with some very catchy and powerful metal songs. Website: http://www.myspace.com/witchbreed. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

WITCH HUNT-Burning Bridges To Nowhere (Alternative Tentacle)
It’s a long time ago, since we reviewed a good old school punk album. But you’d better get ready for this punk attack by WITCH HUNT. In thirty-five minutes, they tear up twelve new tracks with the speed of light. WITCH HUNT consists of Janine Enriquez on bass and vocals, Rob Fitzpatrick on guitar and vocals, Nicole Enriquez on guitar and vocals and Vince Klopfenstein on drums. The screaming vocals and ‘kick in the teeth’ music is highly suitable for a kick ass punk party. The mix between male and female vocals has also been introduced in the punk and hardcore scene and “Everyday” is a nice example of this. There’s almost no interval between the songs and the band unleashes a lot of tension and power in “Septa Death”. This is definitely not for the faint-hearted. “Silence” sounds fast and loud, while in “Void” the band is slowing things down a bit. “Sick Industry” contains more hardcore influences. The band displays more aggression and shouts it out loud again. In “Plastic Dream”, you will be able to enjoy some female lead vocals, after the drummer sets the pace for “Reflections”. Then it’s time for a giant mosh pit in “Treadmill March”. Even the biggest pinocchio will move its feet after hearing this short aggressive explosion, I think. Title track “Burning Bridges To Nowhere” closes the album. After their debut album “Blood Red States”, there’s obviously still a lot of aggression and energy going on in this hardcore punk rock band from the USA. Website: http://www.myspace.com/witchhunt. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

WITHIN TEMPTATION-An Acoustic Night At The Theatre (Roadrunner Records)
This album title says it all. WITHIN TEMPTATION playing a live acoustic show in Eindhoven at the Frits Philips Muziekcentrum on November 30th, 2008. This time you can hear what gifted musicians WITHIN TEMPTATION really are, because the songs are stripped down to the bone and they still sound exciting to me. Mainly because of the beautiful voice by frontlady Sharon den Adel, but also because they are just great songs of course. Sometimes you might miss the bombastic choirs, the extravagant choirs and the big orchestration. It all sounds a bit more intimate and down to earth, so to speak. “Towards The End” is the opener on this twelve track, fifty minutes live CD, which sounds very ‘naked’, if I may say this. The tone for tonight is set, but WITHIN TEMPTATION wouldn’t be WITHIN TEMPTATION, if they didn’t have a few nice surprises for their fans here tonight. “Stand My Ground” comes close to the album version and songs like “Caged” and “Frozen” are still a treat for the ears. In “Somewhere”, we hear a duet of the two most influential ladies in the Dutch metal scene maybe, when Sharon teams up with Anneke van Giersbergen (THE GATHERING, AGUA DE ANNIQUE). What a great combination! “The Cross” is on next, which sounds very exciting indeed, although it is acoustic. After “Pale”, which is also very much stripped down to the bone, a second guest enters the stage. It’s Keith Caputo of LIFE OF AGONY, who performs “What Have You Done” with the band. It doesn’t have the aggression and brutality the original song has, but despite that, it’s a nice addition here. While “Memories” is really perfect to perform in an acoustic live setting. It opens with a violin part and develops into one of the highlights on this album, in my opinion. “Forgiven” is the last live track off this album. Maybe you’ll miss a song like “Ice Queen” here, but I guess it would have been too difficult to transfer it into an acoustic song. What we do get is a new song called “Utopia”, in which Sharon does a duet with Chris Jones. Hopefully, this is not the new path, that the band wants to follow, because it’s very different from anything they have done in the past. Let’s hope, this was recorded, because they wanted to kill the time. I would like to call it a big mistake. Let’s wait and see what the new album will bring us. This live recording is a nice listen for every fan of the band and I hope they will record a smashing new album and that “Utopia” was just a small flirt with pop music. Website: http://www.withintemptation.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ANOUK-Three Days In A Row (CD single) (EMI)
This song became an enormous hit for ANOUK in Holland. And in the meantime, she has released three other singles, taken off the album “For Bitter Or Worse”. ANOUK shows her love for her boyfriend Unorthadox in this song. And to complete this single Unorthadox shows up in the ‘terilekst remix’of the song, which also features the Dutch rock vixen of course. This version is a bit more danceable and has a hip hop beat and some male rap vocals are added to it. I don’t really get it, but hey who am I? A picture of the happy couple is printed on the front cover of this CD single. ANOUK sells big time and this new album will surely please many fans, but I regret that she isn’t the rock bitch anymore, that she used to be in her early days. Despite that, she still has a helluva voice. Two songs and eight and a half minute of music for those, who buy this single. Website: http://www.anouk.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ANOUK-Woman (CD single) (EMI)
“Woman” is the next single off the album “For Bitter Or Worse”. It breathes some kind of a Motown sound, like DIANA ROSS and THE SUPREMES could have created in the seventies. If this is a compliment for a rock chick like ANOUK is up to you. Fact is, her singles become hits the day they are released and I guess the people like what she does. The second track on the single is an instrumental version of “Woman”. Two songs, worthy of almost eight minutes of ‘feeling good’ music with one eye winking to the seventies, but both feet firmly in this new millennium. ANOUK will play live at the Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam on the fourth of July, when a big part of the world are celebrating Independence Day. If you don’t like buying albums and you rather go for buying a single, then “Woman” might be a good choice. Website; http://www.anouk.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE DEVIL'S BLOOD-I’ll Be Your Ghost (CD single) (Van Records)
THE DEVIL'S BLOOD’s star is rising ultrafast. Almost every festival wants this band. Despite the fact, that the band line-up is full of mysteries. It remains unclear, who is actually in the band, but who cares anyway if you make music like this. Music, that is inspired by the early seventies and bands like COVEN, BLACK WIDOW or JEFFERSON AIRPLANE, who all set out to the trippy and rather psychedelic sound by DEVIL'S BLOOD. “I’ll Be Your Ghost” will put you in a time machine and shoot you back in time for forty years. The second song on this exclusive single is called “Voodoo Dust” and it’s recorded live. It plays for about twelve minutes, bringing this single to a total of about sixteen minutes, which is real value for money. On this second long live track, The Voice of Satan sounds a bit like Jerney Kaagman of EARTH & FIRE. The lengthy guitar solo may remind you of early David Gilmour (PINK FLOYD) or perhaps even the very early FRANK MARINO. Anyway, almost everything about this release is right. The retro sound is so real, that you’d almost think, that it was recorded in 1970 instead of 2009. Nothing will remind you of the hasty days, that we have to face today. And when the instrumental part is done, you’ll get the urge to play this song one more time. If it was just an escape for a few moments. The crowd is simply left behind astonished about so much quality. THE DEVIL'S BLOOD is the next big thing, in case you didn’t know it, so don’t say we didn’t warn you!! [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE DEVILS BLOOD-The Graveyard Shuffle b/w A Waxing Moon Over Babylon (7inch single) (Van Records)
THE DEVIL'S BLOOD from Holland likes to please their fans. Besides the new album, they also release singles and other interesting stuff every now and then. This is a vinyl 7” with two exclusive songs, which is definitely a nice addition to your collection. I mean, how many bands are still willing to press some exclusive songs on wax nowadays? Everything must be downloaded for Ipod, Itracks, Ipad or whatever they may call it. It’s all digital shit and I can’t do anything with it. It’s for internet nerds, who don’t have a life and people, who think of music as a hype or some kind of trend and don’t go for a good album or a good song anymore. People, who still dig real music may find it a fantastic idea, that songs are pressed on vinyl and I share their thoughts with all of my heart. “The Graveyard Shuffle” takes you back to the GRACE SLICK and JEFFERSON AIRPLANE days. The sound of the seventies, a good beat and an excellent feel for what retro is all about. “A Waxing Moon Over Babylon” (which is a great title, by the way!), is on the flipside of this single, which also sounds very seventies alike. With a sound like that, I am certain that THE DEVIL'S BLOOD will immediately be put in the premier league of the retro rock scene. However, fans of ancient horror metal bands like COVEN and BLACK WIDOW may also want to lend an ear to these songs. High quality retro music from the Nether(world)lands. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ETERNAL DREAM-The Seed Of Naryll (EP) (independent)
If bombastic power metal is your thing, then you might want to check out this EP by ETERNAL DREAM from Spain. Seven songs are on this thirty minute EP, which contains influences by NIGHTWISH and RHAPSODY (OF FIRE). Beautiful soprano vocals topped with powerful riffs and orchestral parts telling you the story of Naryll. The spoken word intro of “Angelus Perversa” catches your attention right away. While opener “Symphony Of Horizon” makes sure, that you’re listening to a high quality power metal band, displaying all the before mentioned ingredients. The riffs are fast, the vocals are of an undisputable quality and the bombastic orchestral parts add just that little extra to make this song complete. In “Sacred Wrath”, the NIGHTWISH (Tarja Turunen era) influences become quite obvious. “The Rising” is a short instrumental interlude, before the band blows you away with their powerful intro of “Frozen Solanthine”. “Waters of Reality” is a slow song, that closes this CD. What’s left behind is the piano version of “The Rising”. ETERNAL DREAM consists of Ana Moronta on vocals, Alejandro Rodriguez on guitar, Nikko Hartmann on guitar, César Rodriguez on keyboards, Antonio Mott on bass and Andy Montalbetti on drums. And although the band is only existing since 2007, they have a lot of talent, which they show in these songs. I think, that we will hear a lot more from these Spanish metallers in the future. Website: http://www.eternaldream.es. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

[Updated: February 22, 2010]

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