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

Spring/Summer 2008:

THE AGONIST-Once Only Imagined (Century Media)
THE AGONIST started their career as THE TEMPEST. Their music can be described as metalcore, so let’s get this freaking pit started right away after the short instrumental intro called “Synopsis”. Eleven songs are on this monstrous ear attack, which is worthy of approximate forty minutes of vicious and very powerful metalcore. Think about ARCH ENEMY, CRISIS or MY RUIN to get an idea of the sound of THE AGONIST. This is the ultimate opportunity for creating a sore throat and the waving of long hair in the air. PANTERA- like riffs are the roots, on which “Rise And Fall” is originated. While “Bord Dead; Burried Alive” has more of the ARCH ENEMY approach. THE AGONIST consists of Danny Marino on guitar, Chris Kells on bass, Simon McKay on drums and Alissa White-Gluz on vocals. Overseeing this line up, you’ll come to the conclusion that the band has only one guitarplayer in their ranks. However, it doesn’t do any harm to the brutal riffs, that I hear. Their full sound is a real treat, and in combination with the blast beats of Simon, the dynamic force is definitely there, even with one guitar player. And the screaming vocals of Alissa are the perfect addition to this powerful sound. The riffs, that the band spits at you in “Take A Bow” are very brutal and I’m not embarassed to take a bow for so much brutalness. “Serendipity” shows a bit of a doomy gloom side as well. And in “Memento Mori”, Alissa screams out all the anger inside her. “Once Only Imagined” is just the beginning, but it proves that there is a lot of talent hidden in this four piece outfit. “Chiaroscuro” is a short acoustic piece, which introduces the last song on this album, called “Forget Tomorrow”. “Once Only Imagined” is a remarkable good debut album. Very powerful, yet with a sidestep to some beautiful, more melodic parts as well at times. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CARINA ALFIE-Electric Fuzz (independent)
CARINA ALFIE can be seen as the female version of JOE SATRIANI or even STEVE VAI. This may be the (very) short introduction of this female guitar player from Argentina. Of course there is much more of a story to it, and it’s almost an insult to introduce this guitar princess to you this way. But it’s the only way to possibly get the spotlight on this well-talented lady, who presents her new nine tracker “Electric Fuzz” here. Carina already showed her skills in bands like LUNATICAS, ANGEL, ROUGE BAND, HEROINAS and PAYSANA. And with “Electric Fuzz” it’s time for another great guitar album (her sixth full-length solo album, to be exact). Although we are dealing with an instrumental album here, there is still a lot of variation in styles. Melodic rock, progressive parts, and a lot of shredding, too. In “Magical Place”, Carina dedicates another song to her biggest inspiration and good friend, Mr. STEVE VAI. I’m surprised to hear some male vocals in “Run From Love”. It definitely gives the music of Carina a different angle, as the vocal parts sound a bit like Jon Oliva (SAVATAGE and now JON OLIVA’S PAIN). A surprisingly strong twist after the six instrumental parts so far. I think, it’s also the most groovy and heavy song on this album. Carina’s band consists of Andy Casciato on keyboards, Dario Sexias on bass, Danik Thomas on bass and Linda McDonald on drums (ex-PHANTOM BLUE, THE IRON MAIDENS, THE LITTLE DOLLS, VALLEY DOLLS). And if this line up isn’t interesting enough, she has also two guest guitar players, helping her out during the last two songs. In “A New World”, we hear fusion master FRANK GAMBALE, and on CD closer “Lucky Dog”, you will hear Scott Henderson. The album was recorded at The Mothership studios of STEVE VAI. People, who like the work of STEVE VAI, JOE SATRIANI, but also PAUL GILBERT, MARTY FRIEDMAN and JENNIFER BATTEN, must check out this great new album by this Latina guitar wizard, whose star is rising very rapidly. For more information about this fast fingered Argentinian beauty, check out her website at: [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

TIFFANY APAN-Poet (independent)
Better sit down for a minute and listen to this singer/songwriter and vocalist from Pittsburgh, PA. TIFFANY ALPAN’s music is not your every day’s music, I presume. The classically trained lady provides us twelve songs on her album “Poet”, worthy of about fifty minutes of classical, ambient, gothic, Celtic folk, wave rock music. I have to warn you upfront to be open-minded and unprejudiced, before listening to “Poet”. The average rock fan may find this a bit too experimental, obscure and dark. But there might be some souls out there, who sold their dark heart to the ambient sounds like on “Poet”. When you’ve turned the lights down low and you’ve created a nice, cosy, relaxed atmosphere, then the time is right to put the CD into your CD player. The first three songs will certainly strengthen the atmosphere you have just created. To my surprise, I hear some nice guitar sounds and a careful dosed upbeat tempo in Tiffany’s second single “Run Away And Hide”. I get all excited and decide to check out the website of this young talent. Showing me that this lady doesn’t only have a beautiful voice and good looks, but she is also a very well-talented actor. One who has already played in many movies in the horror genre. Slowly, while the music keeps asking for my attention too, the puzzle falls into place. We’re dealing here with an all-round talent, who may have a very bright and long future ahead of her. And “Poet” may be just the beginning of a very fruitful and successful career. In “A Prayer”, we hear Tiffany’s opera voice and the gothic aspect is a bit more upfront in this song. While “Black Forrest” is more uptempo and short. After this, Tiffany continues with “Scarborough Fair”, that some of you might know by SIMON & GARFUNKEL. I must admit, that I like her version much better. When the CD slowly reaches the end, the songs tend to get a little more heavy. Just listen to “Ashes To Dust” for example. And “Warrior (Soldier For Myself)” is even better. This song could be categorised as epical heavy metal, as far as I am concerned. Partner-in-crime Jason English shreds like a madman here and the double bass takes care of another heavy crust. With the EMMYLOU HARRIS-like ballad “Whispers, this album comes to an end. It is definitely the odd one out here, but it also shows the diversity in songs. Even fans of country music might dig this one. Vampires with an open-mind, metalheads with a broken heart and (omnivore) music fans must really have a listen to this original mix of songs and styles by this very talented lady. I am also very interested in watching one of those horror movies with her. Well, maybe another time. For now, “Poet” was a nice introduction to TIFFANY APAN for me. Website: [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ART IN EXILE-Art In Exile (Carclew Youth Arts)
ART IN EXILE comes from the land of Down Under and presents their self-titled EP, on which we can enjoy five songs with a total length of thirty minutes. Before I will try to review their music, I first would like to introduce the band to you. ART IN EXILE consists of Mel Bulian on vocals and guitar, Matt Radmond on keyboards, Tim Robinson on drums, Stuart Robinson on guitars and Leni Benton on bass. On the CD however, you still hear the bands former bassplayer Liv Sellik. So, that was the easy part of this review. Now comes the hardest part. From the first notes on of “Magnetism”, I know that we’re in for yet another GATHERING copycat. Yep, I am not mistaken, even the voice of Mel sounds almost exactly like Anneke van Giersbergen’s. The atmospheric sound does appeal to me and I know that this 7 points CD will be over in about thirty minutes. Boy, was I wrong here! Mel suddenly opens her mouth and shouts out so loud, that I can hardly believe this is the same female singer that just whispered to me so softly. Sweat starts to appear on my face. I’m so sorry miss Bulian, that I insulted you and for judging your band a bit too premature. Please continue screaming like this, because I like it a lot. And the surprises aren’t over yet. When “Behind The Eyes” starts, it sounds like the most brutal black metal outfit has taken possession of this silver disc to warn us about the end of all time. What an immense brutality is unleashed here! And now I am also in the position to describe the variation of music styles for the first time. I hear the doomy sound of CANDLEMASS and PARADISE LOST, the serenity of ANATHEMA, the wild screams of ARCH ENEMY and CRADLE OF FILTH, the dreamy sound of THE GATHERING and the noisy madness of BABES IN TOYLAND. Try to find a suitable monnicker for these wide range of styles. This will probably not appeal to the masses, but if you listen to it very closely, you will hear the beautiness of the anger. Although I still don’t get the meaning of the sounds at the end of “Sober Optic”, I am still very positive about the thirty minutes of ART IN EXILE, that I’ve just been listening to. To be honest with you, I didn’t get the meaning of the strange noises in some elusive PINK FLOYD songs too, and I still keep playing these records year after year. Sometimes it’s better not to ask for the deeper meaning of things. This is ART IN EXILE and I bet, that you’re curious to hearing their music now as well. Check it out, I would say. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ASRAI-Pearls In Dirt (Season Of Mist)
I just put on my new gardening suit. It’s the best way to search for “Pearls In Dirt”, the third album by ASRAI. Their previous album “Touch In The Dark” (2004 Transmission Records) sounded very promising indeed and put the band directly in the front ranks of the Dutch gothic metal scene. Their new album contains eleven tracks and comes in a red velvet slipcase (only for quick deciders though!). The dark sound remained and I think that you do justice to their songs, when listening with the lights turned down low. In my imagination I see tons of hair waving up and down, while the riffs of “Stay With Me” go on and on. While the crystal clear voice of Margriet mutters the lyrics of this beautiful song. “Go” is much lighter and has a steady beat to it. This could very well turn out to be a crowd pleaser, because there are parts in it that are easy to sing along to. The DEPECHE MODE-like keyboard parts mix quite well in this song, creating the well-known gothic sound, on which vampires seem to dance all night long. “Lost” is another ‘easy-on-the-ear’ track. However, darkness touches your soul again with “Something I Said” and the lights fade to black. As you can see, there is variation all over on this CD and there are definitely some ‘pearls’ to be found here too. Like the spooky “Awaken”, the aforementioned “Stay With Me” and the experimental “Chain Me”. I must say that I prefer the dark, more melancholic sound above the lighter and atmospheric material. Sometimes it’s nice to dig hard to find some pearls. Fans of ASRAI will definitely enjoy this new album and they can start digging and find their own pearls on this disc. ASRAI consists of Margriet on vocals, Rik on guitars, Karin on drums, Manon on synths and Martin on bass. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

AUSPEX-Resolutio (Pervade Productions / Manitou Music)
AUSPEX hails from France and presents us their debut album here. Let’s first introduce the musicians in the band to you. We hear Pierre-Yves Brun on keyboards, Frédéric Hugenell on drums, Lionel Patriox on guitars, Alexis Potié on bass, Arthur Raulin on guitars and metal maiden Elodie Buchonnet on vocals. The music of this band can be defined as an exciting mix of power metal and progressive rock. I think progressive power metal would be a good description. It’s powerful and pretty much straight forward, yet leaving enough space for experimental sidesteps and exciting instrumental parts. On top of that is the beautiful voice of Elodie, who makes their innovative sound complete. There is much going on in the songs. I’m thinking of sudden mood and speed changes, which constantly fool the listener and forces you to keep attention every second. A good example is “Lost Academy”, where the speed goes up pretty suddenly, including the freaky voice changes of Elodie. Or the unexpected, short change to a jazzy part in “Phantoms”. Both guitarists can be discribed as ‘unknown’ successors of YNGWIE J MALMSTEEN or Michael Romeo (SYMPHONY X), which is why the nine songs on “Resolutio” will become a treat to your ears, and give you musical pleasure for almost a full hour. Any more highlights? The piece of resistance is an almost twelve minute version of a song, called “Rise”. Let the band surprise you on that one, like they did to me. AUSPEX has signed a deal with Thundering Records, which is hopefully another big step forward on the ladder to success. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

AYIN ALEPH-Ayin Aleph I (Invencis)
In the last few months I reviewed quite a lot of exotic heavy metal bands. AYIN ALEPH hails from Russia and her music is very hard to describe. I hear influences of NINA HAGEN, DIAMANDA GALAS, NOTRE DAME, DEVIL DOLL, KATE BUSH, ATROX and everybody else from the gothic scene. There is definitely metal in her sound, but also a lot of gothic influences and even romantic classical music. Ayin was born in Moscow, where she learned to play the piano. And on the album you will hear, that she is a natural talent on this instrument. Her singing may be a little bit more difficult to comprehend. When you are already a fan of the aforementioned names and you are open for weird song structures and lots of sudden changes in atmosphere and sound, then you might like this debut album a lot. It contains nineteen songs and has a running time of about eighty minutes. And if that isn’t enough, the album also contains a bonus DVD with five videos by this remarkable talent. Video clips, containing gruelsome horror elements and short medieval stories. I think, they are a real treat and a great addition to the album. It’s not easy to name your favorite songs, because they’re all so different. In fact, I like the entire CD and not just a few songs. It’s exciting, never dull, but this only applies to open-minded people. People, who are into EPICA, NIGHTWISH, WITHIN TEMPTATION and AFTER FOREVER may think this is actually terrible and they might hate this CD for what it is. But I had a great time with the excentric sound by AYIN ALEPH. Hopefully, there’s more to enjoy from this Russian beauty in the near future. Ayin’s band consists of Mark Mynett and Anthony Skenderi on guitars, Jean-Jacques Moreac on bass, Yann Costes on drums and last but not least Arben Skenderi and Mathilde Sternat on cello. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

AYREON-01011001 (Inside Out)
Another masterpiece by AYREON, the brainchild of Arjen Lucassen, has seen the light of day. We always know upfront, that the songs are of a very high standard, no matter which ‘famous’ people are contributing this time around. It will always sound perfect, because there is a musical genius behind the whole project. Same applies to this new album, which goes by the name of “01011001”. Since we are a music site, I want you to dive into the concept yourself, and pick up the whole story while listening to the beautiful songs. We let the music do the talking, the story behind the music can be found in the many interviews given during the release of the album. And of course you can also check out the website of AYREON for more background information. We dig a little bit deeper in the hundred minute plus of epic, melodic, rock opera-like music. A lot of female singers have contributed to the album this time, who are supported by a handful of male equivalents, as well as a lot of guest musicians. It’s an honor to become one of the ayreonauts and on the DVD, you can see how Arjen made his selections this time around. The first CD, that goes by the name “Y” opens with one of the first highlights, called “Age Of Shadows”. Feel the exciting tension in this song and enjoy the marvellous voice of Floor Jansen (AFTER FOREVER) here. A remarkable accomplishment. That same tension is noticeable in “Comatose”, whereas “Liquid Eternity” is more a symphonic piece of art, including a long instrumental part halfway through song.“Connect The Dots” remembered me of STING in a way. “Beneath The Waves” is divided into five pieces. “Ride The Comet” starts off a bit experimental and at the end, it really becomes another outstanding outing of AYREON. “Web Of Lies” is short and sweet with the remarkable vocal skills of Simone Simons (EPICA). After a bit over fifty minutes “Y” is finished and we are ready to listen to CD two, which is called “Earth” and contains another fifty minutes of heavenly AYREON music. Starting off with “The Fifth Extinction”, which is another ten minute plus masterpiece. It contains riffs, that could very well have been on the “Arabia” album by VENGEANCE. Yet it remains another diamond in the AYREON collection, because of the whole composition. Also the great guitarsolo easily makes this song the second highlight on the album for me. “Walking Dreams” has arrangements, that stand midway between PINK FLOYD (guitarsolo) and DEEP PURPLE (keyboards). What a great song! Now over to “The Truth Is In Here”, which needs some special attention. Liselotte Hegt of DIAL adds a whole different approach to the song, in the way we know her. Meaning that she creates a strange, unreal atmosphere here and everything seems to be an illusion. A world, that only exist in Liselotte’s mind comes to life. Yet, still maintaining within the borders of the AYREON sound, which is done in a great way, I think. The duet fits perfectly to the story, although you seem to be floating around in a different universe, rather than in real life. Besides the names of Floor Jansen, Simone Simons, Anneke van Giersbergen and Liselotte “Lilo” Hegt, we were also touched by great contributions of Marjan Welman (she’s the new AUTUMN singer), who proves to be a natural talent. And also Magali Luyten is someone we will definitely hear more in the near future, I hope. As mentioned before, the female voices are very well represented on this double CD. Which is a good thing. After an “Unnatural Selection”, we end up in the “River Of Time”. A folky song with BLIND GUARDIAN-like influences. Who else can sing this better than BLIND GUARDIAN frontman Hansi Kürsch himself? In “E = MC²” I hear a hitsingle coming up. Not that it’s really the intention of AYREON, but it has got all the potential ingredients, if you’d ask me. “Earth” closes with “The Sixth Extinction”, which is the piece of resistance in this brilliant rock opera. Lasting over twelve minutes, it’s a worthy closure to this fantastic double album. Every time it becomes more difficut to come up with a better album than the previous one. But I think, that I can say that AYREON has done it again! Both thumbs up for Mr. Lucassen and the full score is given to the man and his band as a reward. Holland can be proud of AYREON! [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

JENNIFER BATTEN-Whatever (Lion Music)
What to do when your boss is suddenly not touring anymore? Then you’ll become your own boss and start writing new songs for a solo album. That’s the case with JENNIFER BATTEN, my friends. She played guitar in the touring and recording band of the ‘king of pop’ MICHAEL JACKSON. We all know know what’s become of him. A reunion of the world famous JACKSONE FIVE might be in the works, but these five Jacksons won’t need the help of Jennifer anymore. And so Jennifer puts together her new solo album, called “Whatever”. This lady is a true guitar genius. And if you like people such as STEVE VAI, FRANK ZAPPA and JEFF BECK, then you will like this album as well. “Ass Whoopin’”opens strong, including some crazy spoken word texts beefing up the weird sounds coming from Jennifer’s guitar. “Ricochet” has got that same freaky feeling and again it has got some weird lyric parts. “Off The Deep End” gets a little bit more texture and the lyrics are now a completely spoken word thing. Title track “Whatever” is a swinging piece of music. After “Fearless” and “Hooligan’s Holliday”, we’re in for a short pause with “In The Aftermath”. While “Run With It” contains some mindblowing guitar playing of Jennifer and some tribal-like shouting in the background. In “Cupid’s Arrow”, there’s more spoken word, but the majority of the song exists of the heavenly guitar chords of Jennifer. Guitar chords, that sound less heavy than on “Above Below And Beyond” by the way. However, she is still one of the coolest guitarplayers around in the scene. “Inner Journey” puts some humour into the music by this beautiful lady. It could very well be a FRANK ZAPPA song. I really don’t know, if Jennifer did all the arm farting and belching herself, but it shows another hilarious side of this all-round superstar on guitar. The CD comes with a bonus DVD, which contains about ninety minutes of video clips, guitar lessons, interviews and unplugged sessions. A ‘must have’ for each fan of this well-talented guitarplayer. The DVD will be reviewed in the DVD section. Oh, by the way, I love the painting of Chuck E. Bloom on the cover of this great CD! It matches very well with the exciting, experimental music on this album. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BITCHES SIN-Uduvudu (independent)
I never thought, I would ever review BITCHES SIN in Metal Maidens. Since DBasser is their new female bass player, this NWOBHM band is very suitable to review in our magazine as well. BITCHES SIN consists of Ian Toomey on lead guitar, Steve Turton on drums, Chris Tsangarides on guitar and keyboards, Tony Tomkinson on vocals and of course the ‘metal bitch’ in the band, DBasser on bass guitar. This comeback album “Uduvudu” (pronounced as ‘You Do Voodoo’) contains ten songs, worthy of approximately forty-five minutes of heavenly heavy metal, covering a lot of styles but mainly focussing on hard rock and heavy metal. Title track “Uduvudu” opens the CD with the excorsising, repeating drums of Stickslayer (© BITCHES SIN) Turton, and the Nicky Moore (SAMSON) like vocals of Tony Tomkinson upfront in the mix. When the speed changes, Ian is adding his fabulous guitar skills to the songs and my first favorite song on this album is born. The song ends with sounds that could very well be on almost any PINK FLOYD album. “Metalize” is a song, that simply asks to sing along with, when playing live on stage. In my vision, I can see the crowd already chanting “Metalize”. It’s a very metal song indeed. Containing lyrical parts like ‘Show me the horns, and stand with pride’. Both horns up for this one! “Selling Paradise” contains some Eastern melodies, which fit very well to the lyrics of the song. Lyrics, that are in some cases based on war situations, that we frequently witness on television these days. Not only in the Middle East, but worldwide. War is also the main topic in a song, called “Red Skies”, which is another favorite of mine. The lyrics in this song tell the story so well, that it almost scares the shit out of you. And all these wise words are topped by a great rock sound. Catchy, yet not too commercial, if you know what I mean. This is the sound of BITCHES SIN in 2008. It’s been twenty-five years since the release of their last album, but their music still stands with pride. It rocks and sometimes it also gets so much deeper, that it bangs your head with a big hammer, because of the in-depth messages of the lyrics. “Nobody Wants You Here” has got that typicial BITCHES SIN tension, which slowly builds itself up. You know that a guitar explosion will follow at a certain point, and it is there, just wait. The title reminds me of a certain metal festival in England, where we got drifted away like sheep at the end of the evening. The security didn’t dare to speak out these words to the people who were still around, but we missed out on that one, luckily enough. Back to the CD then. “Mr. Toomey” is definitely the highlight on the CD for me. The song title has got nothing at all to do with the family name of Ian. Or maybe just a little bit, but it’s not autobiographical or something. The song is based upon the story of a guy, who took over The Bates Motel in “Psycho II”, who is called Mr. Toomey. It can best be described as “Strangers On The Shore” part II. The guitar excorsism you hear is simply not of this world and a lot of voodoo must have been involved to let Ian play these ultrafast solos. I get goosebumps all over my body, even at places where I just didn’t realise that I could get goosebumps there. Old school BITCHES SIN fans will agree that this is a true masterpiece. Big is the change in music style, when “Beggars Parallel” starts off. This is an acoustic ballad and a short point of rest, before “Second Life” enters your room. I already mentioned it several times to the band. Most albums I review start off very promising and after a while, they slowly fade away into nothingness. You simply can’t keep focussed the whole time. With “Uduvudu”, it’s so much different. The album gets stronger as it proceeds. Especially these last three songs are very strong and they can easily be added to my (long) list of favorite songs. “Second Life” is a good uptempo song with a great guitarsolo and some innovative drum parts of Steve. “White Room” (not the Eric ‘slowhand’ Clapton song) shows the tightness of DBasser very well. Stunning bass parts open this fast rocker and another big compliment goes out to the vocal parts of Tony Tomkinson, who originally wrote this song for his former band THE ALL NEW SINISTER DEXTER BAND. The song fits perfectly to the sound of BITCHES SIN nowadays. The CD closes with “The Eleventh Hour”, which can be described as the BITCHES SIN version of “Black Sabbath”. This is a shortcut to describe the immense heaviness of this song. It sounds dark, doomy and Steve really pounds the hell out of his drum kit here. He should be prisoned for the loud bashing and torturing his skins. What a brutal drum sound! When the CD stops, and I have removed the wood splinters from my ears (stop hitting that drumkit so hard, Steve!!), I simply can’t control myself by putting this CD in the player one more time. I keep pushing the repeat button on my stereoset, which had to be replaced several times since this album has hit the streets. BITCHES SIN is back and their next step will be to invade the stages. I’m confident enough, that “Uduvudu” is only just the beginning of a flashing comeback. These kind of releases can only receive full score. Website: Cheers to Ian, DBasser, Chris, Steve and Tony, you have amazed me again with this one!! [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

This eleven track CD contains excerpts from the band’s live gig at the Olympia in Paris (France). The live footage can be watched on the DVD, that is also included in this package and reviewed in our DVD section. The CD plays about seventy-five minutes. The first nine songs are taken directly from the live DVD. The bonus tracks are a studio version of “The Village Lantern”and the radio edit version of “All Because Of You”. The atmosphere presented during the live concert is very well captured on this CD. The audience is singing along to the songs, clapping their hands and you can almost feel the joy and the enthusiasm of the band playing in front of their audience. To get a good excample of this, you should have a listen to “Home Again”. The fun and humour, that is captured in this song, is really amazing! It is almost suitable for a stand-up comedian night, instead of an evening with BLACKMORE’S NIGHT. The humour is added in a very subtle way and it definitely adds something special to this live gig. In “Fires At Midnight”, we even hear back a little bit of the electric guitar wizard Ritchie Blackmore. The long instrumental centre part reminded me of “Mistreated” from his good old days in DEEP PURPLE and RAINBOW. I can highly recommend this CD/DVD package “Paris Moon” to all the fans of BLACKMORE’S NIGHT!! [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BLACK WIDOW USA-Soldiers From Hell (JAB Productions)
I believe, a lot of our readers might still remember BLACK WIDOW USA, who surprised us with their brilliant debut album "Satan's Playground". The band is back with "Soldiers From Hell", sounding even stronger than their already astonishing debut album. BLACK WIDOW USA consists of John Anthony on guitar and keyboards, Tommy Azzinaro on drums, Wayne Turpin on bass and Cat on vocals. After the short instrumental intro "Moonshadow", we are confronted with the strong opener "Comfort In The Dark". I already hear a crowdpleaser coming up in that first song. It has a chorus, in which the crowd can chant along, while raising their fists. Thumbs up for the vocal abilities of Cat, who reminds me of Erika Swinnich (former singer of IGNITOR) in a way, which is a huge compliment, because IGNITOR is sacred in our book. "Just His Wish" continues very strong, including PRIEST-like metal riffs in the middle, and some flashing guitar solos. Just listen to the icely scream of Cat at the end of the song. This is pure metal, and once again they prove that BLACK WIDOW USA is a real survivor in the scene. "Lay Me Down" opens with more strong metal riffs and some thundering drum rolls. Title track "Soldiers From Hell" is one helluva track. This is exactly how heavy metal should sound like, dear friends! The ten minutes plus epic metal song is more a gift from hell, and I couldn't think of another metal worthy title track than this one. Again it is a song that you can sing along to, completed with a great instrumental piece right in the middle of the song. The guitarist sharpens his claws, before attacking his six strings. Cat will have a short rest, while John fights for his life there, like a real 'soldier from hell'. The ending of the song, where the speed goes up, is magnificent. I can't stop banging my head anymore. What a great tune! OK, it’s time to take a little piece of rest now and let this metal anthem settle down for a while. "The Serpent" is a short instrumental track with acoustic guitars. Dagger sharp riffs introduce us to the next song; "When The Angels Cry", which gives me more goose bumps, when listening to the vocals of Cat. I must admit, that I’d expected a ballad at first with a title like that, but it’s another fantastic metal attack. My compliments for the great guitarsolo in this song, by the way! With "Widows Web", we're in for another long, epic metal tune. Another song that is catchy where it should be and on the other hand, it also has a strong metallic feel. Just listen to the immense riffs here, topped with the great vocals of Cat. Doesn't this give you the drive to bang your head like a madman? If not, you're just no metalhead and you might as well be dead. (my thanks go out to the band PILEDRIVER for this last quote). I'm caught in the widows web and I’m damn proud of it. I swallow the guitarsolos, like they were the last ones I will ever hear, and in this song they seem to go on and on, ‘till death do us part. Need I say more? With "Venom", the horns are up for the last time. The guitars cry one more time, and you’ll only have one more chance to raise your fist in the air to the sound of real metal. Can someone pull the plug from that guitarplayer, otherwise he won't stop playing these venomous guitarsolos! Man, what a great sound! I can recommend this album to every surviving metalhead on this planet. My name is Toine van Poorten, my rank was corporal, when I was in the army, my serial number was 630318296, and after listening to this album I want to be a Soldier From Hell, too. Hail to BLACK WIDOW USA for carrying the heavy metal torch. Not too many bands know how to make a decent heavy metal album anymore. They can have a listen to this one, to have a good example. A full score reward goes out to BLACK WIDOW USA, with deep respect from yours truly for this great album (nine songs, fifty-five minutes of pure mayhem) and for keeping the faith in heavy metal music. I wish, that there were more bands like this on the globe. Website: [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BRAVE-Monuments (Brave Inc.)
I still remember reviewing “Searching For The Sun” of VIRGINIA based prog rock outfit BRAVE. Their new album is called “Monuments” and it contains twelve brand new tracks, worthy a full hour of excellent progressive rock. With “Hold On”, they already know how to impress me with the speed and mood changes they build into this song. And in “Hero”, we even get a short blast beat part in the beginning. What are these BRAVE people trying to do? Are they starting a musical revolution? Their music embraces many different styles. What remains is the beautiful voice of Michelle Loose, sister of the bands guitar and keyboard player Scott Loose. Besides these two people, BRAVE consists of Suvo Sur on violin, piano and keyboards, Trevor Schrotz on drums and keyboards, Ben Kelly on bass and Matt Kozar on guitar and keyboards. The addition of the violin gives a slightly folky twist to the music of BRAVE. It makes their sound a bit happy sometimes, like in “Hero”. “Hurt” contains some fabulous guitar work. “Forgiveness” sounds a bit more modest, and “To Remain Unseen” is an instrumental piece of art. Later on, the music becomes a bit more sentimental and emotional laden. I hear influences of Lana Lane (from the band LANA LANE) in the voice of Michelle and their sound gets a very modest atmosphere. Not that this is not okay, but after “Hero”, I didn’t really expect that at all. However, just before “Here” finishes, the progressive sidesteps return again. This continues in the fine “Sooner Or Later”, which shows more nice musical ideas. “Driven” is again happy and joyful, and in “Stronger” the band hands out a beautiful album closer. The lengthy instrumental part tells us, that we’re not dealing with an all-day average rock band of some kind. And please also pay attention to the very odd ending of this song. BRAVE will certainly please their fans with this CD. They are also capable of surprising the listener with some excentric sidesteps every now and then. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CRYSTAL VIPER-The Last Axeman (Karthago Records)
We already mentioned this release in the review of “The Curse Of Crystal Viper”. This wonderful release spans over a full hour of loud metal mayhem from Polish true metal outfit CRYSTAL VIPER. It contains live tracks, new and previous unreleased songs, covers of VIRGIN STEELE, WASP and MANILLA ROAD songs and the official live, five track, bootleg “Live In Andernach 2007”. It’s almost too much to mention. Opener “The Last Axeman” is also the title track of this compilation CD. Which will later on appear in the Polish version as well. Already on the second track, the band will introduce you to two of their special guests. We have Josh Block (rhythm guitar) and David DeFeis (vocals and keyboards) of VIRGIN STEELE guesting on “Blood And Gasoline”.”The Anvil Of Hate” puts the pedal to the metal and in “The Banshee” we hear a new song. It opens with piano playing and develops into a slow ballad. After the Polish version of “The Last Axeman”, which is on next, we hear two other excellent covers. They start with “aaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrgggggghhhhhh”- an utterly wild version of MANILLA ROAD’s “Flaming Metal System”, that includes a gorgeous guitar solo. Here they introduce their second guest. It is Piotr Luczyk of the Polish heavy metal band KAT. He’s responsible for that marvellous guitar solo. I think, he must have burned his fingers, while playing it. The second cover is “Wild Child” by WASP. Then it’s time for a five song live set recorded “Live In Andernach 2007”, containing songs like “The Island Of The Silver Skull” (including a drumsolo), “I Am Leather Witch”, “Shadows On The Horizon”, The Last Axeman” and “Sleeping Swords”. Here you can taste the great atmospere during a CRYSTAL VIPER show. The sound and production may not be perfect, but therefore it’s called an official bootleg. I mean, it’s the exclusivity that counts here and not the quality. The CD closes with another version of the MANILLA ROAD classic “Flaming Metal Systems”. This time it’s a live version with another guest added to the line up of the band. In this version, you will hear Gerrit Mutz of SACRED STEEL as a guest vocalist. The incredible guitar solo was left out this time though. I can only come to one conclusion: this is the perfect way to please your fans. They don’t have to miss out on anything by their favorite band. They are treated to a bunch of live songs, some cover songs and unreleased tracks and a nice CD booklet is there to accompany it all, including some great live pics and all the lyrics to the songs. CRYSTAL VIPER rules and I highly recommend this album to all the true metalheads out there! The band consists of Marta ‘Leather Witch’ Gabriel on vocals, Andy Wave on guitar, Golem on drums, Pawel Gocyla on rhythm guitar and Tommy Roxx on bass. Darek Kachel plays bass guitar on two songs as well. Check out the bands website at [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CWN ANNWN-Blood Of The Djinn (independent)
CWN ANNWN doesn’t ring a bell to me, until I put this five track EP in my stereo. But before I explain a bit more about their music, I first like to introduce the bandmembers to you. CWN ANNWN consists of Neil James on guitars and vocals, Harry Rostovtsev on guitar, Mike Strohkirch on bass and vocals, Jake Stone on drums and Julie Schultz on vocals. What can you expect from a band with an almost unpronouncable name? Well, some bloody good heavy metal is my answer. Already in opener “The Scion”, I am really impressed by the vocal abilities of Julie, who sounds a bit like P.J. of TWILIGHT ODYSSEY to me. While the music is flashing and quite fast, sounding like a good mix between IRON MAIDEN and progressive metal: exciting and lots of furious sounding guitar riffs and solos. A great beginning. The EP contains five songs and lasts about twenty-five minutes. Let’s go back for a minute to the name of the band before we contine though. The bio tells me, that their name should be pronounced as ‘coon – uh – noon’, and it’s translated as ‘the hound of hell’ or ‘the hound of chaos’ as in the Welsh mythology. So, that problem is solved now. The band continues with “Calypso”, in which some male brutal voices anounce themselves. I have no problem with that, and it explains the Gothenburg sound influences mentioned in the bio. Besides that, there is still the great voice of Julie, who touches a soft spot in my book. This voice in combination with their wild metal sound really sounds fantastic! In “Recoil”, the band slowly takes back speed. Julie’s beautiful voice remains and the progressive atmosphere is back. This song captures a guitar solo, that easily could come from the book of Steve Howe (YES), lifting it up to one of the highlights on this fantastic CD for me. The song closes with yet another great guitar solo. Wow, two fabulous guitar solos in one song. Respect! “The Djinn” is on next, which is some kind of invisible creature, that can take possession of one’s soul. I do hope, that I explained that right. Anyway, it doesn’t take your soul without making a lot of noise, that’s for sure, after hearing this song. It’s brutal and again with aggressive male vocals and growls, and haunting guitar riffs. The EP closes with “The Fury”, which is a remixed version of the song taken from the band’s debut album “The Method Of Murder”, released in 2006. We will hear more progressive influences, in combination to some metal-based riffs. A combination, that works real well in the world of CWN ANNWN. This awesome band from Minneapolis really did surprise me, excite me and overwhelm me with their great music. Don’t let their unpronouncable and weird band name withold you from buying this EP, because this band is very much worth the exploring. Website: [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DARK PRINCESS-Stop My Heart (re-release + bonus disc) (Match XX)
In a way, Olga Romanova is the real personification of a dark princess. This band from Russia releases their double CD, and to me they absolutely launched themselves into the premier league of the gothic metal scene. With songs that may remind you of EVANESCENCE, NIGHTWISH and WITHIN TEMPTATION, they will certainly take you by surprise. DARK RPINCESS consists of Stas Fatjanov on bass, Ilya Klokov on guitar, Denis Stekanov on drums, Stephan Zuev on keyboards, Alexander Lyubimov on guitar and Olga Romanova on vocals. The double CD consists of the album “Stop My Heart” and quick deciders receive the debut album “Without You” for free with it. On “Stop My Heart”, you will hear many songs that have the potential to become a hit single, because they are very suitable for radio airplay. When EVANESCENCE can become big on our national radio, why shouldn’t DARK PRINCESS be so lucky? The songs have a radio friendly sound, but also bear some strong riffs. I think, you could even call them commercial at times, without sounding too polished or over-produced. The one song standing out for me is definitely “The Pyre’s Song”, which reminded me of “Suffer Me” of ALCATRAZ, which Olga can take as a huge compliment. “Without You” sounds as strong as “Stop My Heart”, which is the second compliment here. After all, a debut album is the first impression you get from a band. And this first impression tastes very good. Again the spirit of EVANESCENCE wanders around a lot. The songs might sound a bit darker, but they have that same radio friendly and catchy feel. Outstanding songs on this debut album are “Living Me”, “My Fragile Winter Dream” (including a great guitar intro!) and the balladesque “Reach The Sky”. However, a song like “Let Me Go”, does appeal less to me, because of the distorted vocals and computerized drum beats by Olga. Overall, these two albums are a good introduction to this Russian equivalent of EVANESCENCE. The double CD contains twenty-three tracks and is worthy of about one and a half hour of great Russian gothic metal. Read on for a review of the latest album by DARK PRINCESS. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DARK PRINCESS-Severe Game (Metal Agen/Soyuz Music)
People, who already liked the “Stop My Heart” album, will also have a good time with “Severe Game”, I think. The album contains thirteen tracks and has a running time of a bit over fifty minutes. Most of the songs are sung in the Russian language, except “The Key” and “Not Of This World”. This doesn’t alter the catchiness of the songs a bit, although I’m not too sure if a hit single would be an option for their Russian songs. The album sounds very bright and open. The link to EVANESCENCE is still there, but I must say that the Russian language definitely adds a different touch to the songs. Songs that are very well-arranged and at times sound very bombastic, yet always have that catchy feel, which makes it a joy to listen to. Olga Romanova is a very talented lady and prove is given on these albums. If you’re a gothic metal addept and want to find out how this music sounds in the Russian language, then I can highly recommend you to have a listen to this new DARK PRINCESS album. I’m sure, you will be surprised by the talent of this red-haired dark princess, called Olga Romanova, and her band. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DRACONIAN-Turning Season Within (Napalm Records/Rough Trade)
Throughout the course of their previous three albums, Sweden's DRACONIAN have steadily built up an impressive resume. Now with their fourth album "Turning Season Within", the band has unleashed an album, that is sure to please their fan base as well as garner more acclaim. "Seasons Apart" gets things off to a doomy start. The vocals of Anders Jacobsson and Lisa Johansson share center stage here. The vocals of Anders have a deathy feel to them, whereas Lisa's have a more sweet angelic quality. Next is "When I Wake". Anders takes on much of the vocals here, but Lisa joins in on the chorus and does a great job. There is also a nice guitar solo included here. Next up, is a definite favorite of mine "Earthbound". At over eight minutes long this is the longest track that is offered up here. This song contains plenty of atmosphere. Next up is "Not Breathing" another heavy track with lots of changes and atmosphere once again. Anders once again handles the bulk of the vocals, but the contribution of Lisa can not be understated on this track. Next is the "The Failure Epiphany". This song starts off slow with Lisa handling the vocals but quickly evolves into a heavy, brutal track with Anders' deathy vocals. Other highlights include "Morphine Cloud", "Bloodflower" and "The Empty Stare". The one minute outro track "September Ashes" brings things to a close. This is a cool way to end things as it is just basically a spoken word track, set against the backdrop of eerie piano music and violins. The perfect way to end this fine opus. After listening to the nine songs and fifty plus minutes worth of material that is included here, it is easy to see the natural progression of DRACONIAN. They are a band, that continues to get better and evolve. "Turning Season Within" is yet another step in the right direction by this band from Sweden. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DREAMS OF DAMNATION-Tales Of Vengeance (vinyl record) (High Roller Records/Femetal Records)
Wow, what a nice release! A must have for every metalfan, who loves to build up a vinyl collection. This release of DRAMS OF DAMNATION is exclusively pressed in blood red vinyl. What you see is what you get: blood, sweat and thrash from a band, who leaves the competetion very far behind. In case, you don’t know, we’ve already reviewed the CD release of this album. But the vinyl release is something special to us. DREAMS OF DAMNATION consists of Miguel A. Moran on drums, Matt Armer on bass, Rick Alsup on guitars, Loanna dP Valencia on vocals and Jim Durkin (ex -ARK ANGEL) on lead guitar. On the live tracks, that are included on the B-side of this vinyl release, we hear Matt Holderman on drums. After the short instrumental opener “Crimson Vengeance”, we’ll hear the TESTAMENT-like “Kill For Peace”. And yes, Loanna’s voice sounds almost as brutal as the voice of the long tall Indian Chuck Billy. And the riffs and solos of Jim Durkin are as sharp as a dagger, too. “The Bloodletting” and “New Flesh” are both ultra heavy and Loanna’s voice sounds maybe even more brutal than Chuck here. Think in the direction of Angela Gossow and you’ll get my point. It’s time to listen to the B-side now, while having a glance at the collection of colourful pix in the booklet, which comes with all the lyrics. After the last two studio tracks “Patricide” and “Eaters Of The Dead” (enjoy your meal!), we are treated to four live tracks recorded on June 17th, 2006 at the Whiskey in Hollywood, California. It opens with an instrumental “Intro”, followed by “Kill For Peace”, “Beyond Salvation” and “Say It In Blood”. This last song can not be found on the debut album of DREAMS OF DAMNATION and asks for some special attention. The sound quality of this last song however is very bad and I hope this is not the case on all the other copies as well. DREAMS OF DAMNATION proves to be a tight and very powerful thrash band on stage as well. And this release is definitely something special for all the fans of the band. Our thanks go out to Rainer Krukenberg for making this review possible. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

EDENBRIDGE-MyEarthDream (Napalm Records/Rough Trade)
The Austrian band EDENBRIDGE have long been symphonic metal at its finest. Throughout their career, they have always managed to release good albums. With their latest output "MyEarthDream", EDENBRIDGE have released their most ambitious work to date. The album opens with the intro track "The Force Within". This is about one minute of symphonic movie soundtrack-like music, that really helps to set the stage for what is to come. The first proper track is "Shadowplay". This features a strong riff and great solo from band guitarist and songwriter Lanvall and Sabine Edelsbacher has never sounded better on vocals. She delivers an inspired performance throughout the eleven songs and fifty-nine minutes worth of music that is provided here. The next track is titled "Paramount" and this is one of my favorite tracks offered here. It is a mid-tempo number with catchy hooks and melodies. Next is "Undying Devotion". This is a dramatic sounding track that features plenty of orchestration. In fact, Edenbridge worked with the Czech film orchestra for this CD. This only adds to the vastness of this production giving the whole project a movie soundtrack feel. Next we have "Adamantine". Another strong riff sets this song into high gear, as this is one of the heavier tracks. "Whale Rider" slows things down a bit. This is a ballad, but it is a big sounding track that features the orchestra prominently. Once again, Sabine's vocals really shine especially on this track . She conveys passion and emotion on this track. "Remember Me", "Fallen From Grace" and "Place Of Higher Power" provide no let down and keeps the pace going nicely. The final is the grand, epic moment. The title track "MyEarthDream" is over twelve minutes worth of pure symphonic bliss. It is divided into six parts and really sees the band at their best. This is a perfect way to end things here and left me very satisfied. You have to give it to Lanvall and crew. They have released an album with some of their best work to date, all-the-while still not playing it safe and doing what they want to do. "MyEarthDream" is a big sounding epic CD that should please EDENBRIDGE fans - old and new. This is EDENBRIDGE at the top of their game. [8 points] (Tony Cannella)

MELISSA ETHERIDGE-The Awakening Live (Island Records)
How difficult it is for a man to write a proper review of this live album by MELISSA ETHERIDGE goes without saying. We don’t have a clue what goes on in the mind of a woman, when she is diagnosed with breast cancer. When she spends ten weeks on chemotherapy, and she is forced to isolate herself from daily life. Just listen to this album and the whole journey, which is explained by Melissa’s point of view in about seventy-five minutes. I can only comment on the music here, which is also very difficult to comprehend at times. But when you already liked the music by this singer/songwriter and guitarist, it is just a little bit easier. The album breathes the well-known MELISSA ETHERIDGE sound all the time. The music and especially the lyrics are very emotional and they sometimes bear a bit of hope and joy, too. It’s an honest reflection of what happens in the world of a woman, who has to undergo this terrible situation. Sometimes resulting in some magical musical moments, like “An Unexpected Rain”and the great guitarwork of Philip Sayce. The album was recorded at the Hard Rock Café in New York City on September 25th, 2007. “Message To Myself” is a joyful song, which put a smile on my face, because this is Melissa how we know her. Fresh and exciting. Same goes for a song, called “Threesome”, which sounds a bit like DAN BAIRD or THE GEORGIA SATTELITES. It sure rocks and there’s even a nice guitar solo captured in this song. It also reminded me of the KINKS classic “Low Budget” for a moment. Great stuff, that’s for sure, and these kind of songs almost invite you to go on the dance floor and rock! The live CD comes with a bonus DVD, which contains live footage of the concert, the making of “The Awakening”, videos for five songs and a photo gallery. If you’re a MELISSA ETHERIDGE fan, you really have to buy this beautiful item.Website: http:// [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

FEEDFORWARD-Barefoot & Naked (Rusty Cage Records)
FEEDFORWARD already caught our attention back in 2007. Their debut album received a lot of favourable reviews everywhere, which resulted in a record deal with RCR. Rusty Cage Records have re-released the album now, so hopefully more people can pick this band up. FEEDFORWARD are not another band, that tries to jump on the bandwagon of success of bands like AFTER FOREVER, WITHIN TEMPTATION or EPICA. This band actually sounds a lot more progressive with loud guitar riffs. And in Biejanka, they have found a very talented frontlady, who is the icing on the cake for me. “Fade Away” blew me out of my chair right away. And if this song didn’t do the trick for you, “Run The Race” certainly will. What a great instrumental intermezzo, what a great voice, what a suprising movements! This is absolutely brilliant!! Thick heavy riffs frame this song, without giving me the idea that they are creating a metal sound. Instead, they sound very progressive indeed with some great guitar parts. “Crossing The Line” is a very sensitive piece of rest. “Innocence” is too and it keeps the balance between the louder tracks and the softer pieces in the right way. Besides Biejanka, the band consists of Pi on drums and background vocals, Mario on guitar, Job on keyboards and Jan on bass. “143” sounds like a very early RUSH song, which they can take as a big compliment. “Our Sky (For One Time)” is a short piano ballad. While “Before I Leave” sounds right in your face again. “Moving” is an instrumental song, in which we’ll enjoy the great skills of the musicians. And with “Stop To Think” this exciting album comes to an end, which is another good example of what this band is all about. As you can see, there is a lot of variation here. The ten songs together are worthy of about fifty-five minutes of exciting prog rock music. I think, this is only just the beginning of their career. FEEDFORWARD is a real promise for the future. Although, the band arrives barefoot and naked, they are still able to put their best fee(d)t forward. Website: [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

FIDGET-Ashes & Dust (Redfield Records/Hard Life Promotion)
FIDGET hails from Düsseldorf in Germany, and they rock out real loud on this CD. So far, they have released three CDs, four mini albums and a double CD, which is quite much, considering that they started out in 2002. This new album “Ashes & Dust” contains twelve hot new tracks and has a running time of about forty-five minutes. The quintet consists of Michael Czernicki on drums, Felix Ohmes on guitar, Daniel Schiwek on bass, Thomas Jeske on vocals and guitar and Darline Fae Rubi on vocals. Their music can be categorised as wild, alternative rock music. I think about bands like GUANO APES, a louder version of AVRIL LAVIGNE or our own Dutch pride KREZIP. The band has got an enormous live reputation already, and I think that these kind of releases will do very well with the younger rock public of today. It’s catchy, it rocks and there is this certain sparkle that makes this band special. Very nice to play loud on a sunny day. Website: [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE GATHERING-A Noise Severe (Psychonaut)
When Anneke van Giersbergen was still in THE GATHERING, you could say that she was the eye-catcher of the band. I can imagine, that the others weren’t too happy, when Anneke announced her resignation and the future of THE GATHERING became uncertain. This live CD, recorded in South America (Chile, to be precisely) was released when the news about Anneke leaving the band, just became public. “A Noise Severe” has become an honest live registration of one of the most successful Dutch bands in the history of metal. I know, that I’ve slayed them down several times because their music drifted away so much from true heavy metal. The band simply evolved and moved away from the music style, that I love so much. But I am the first one to admit, that Anneke has got a great voice and the band has got some very talented musicians aboard. Anneke proves, that she is one of a kind on these twenty songs, worthy of over two hours of the band’s more heavy material. Okay, there will be a lot of experimental stuff to enjoy as well. But when the band rocks out, like in “Liberty Bell”, “Probably Built In The Fifties”and of course my most favorite track “Strange Machines”, you will definitely hear the strength by this band. Not every song may be the perfect rock song, but the great live atmosphere makes it a very nice album to listen to. You can witness the excitement this band creates, when playing live on stage. In songs like “In Motion # 1” and “Walking Hour”, you will hear the musical direction the band was heading to these last few years, influenced by bands such as PINK FLOYD and PORCUPINE TREE. The future of THE GATHERING may still be a bit unclear at this moment. While Anneke continues doing her thing in her own solo project AGUA DE ANIQUE, which seems to be very successful. This “A Noise Severe” is a nice farewell gift to the many fans of the band, and is also available on DVD. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

GIRLSCHOOL-The Singles (Lemon Recordings)
What can we say about GIRLSCHOOL, that hasn’t been said before? I really don’t know. We can mention the fact, that Lemon Records has released a double CD with all their singles, including the flipsides and bonus tracks, back to back. In the CD inlay, every single gets mentioned with some necesary information. The singles will give a good chronologic overview of the thirty years career of by this all-female NWOBHM band, ranging from “Take It All Away” to the demo version of “Nothing To Lose”, which was released on the re-release of “Demolition”. In total, there are thirty-seven songs on these two discs, worthy of about two hours of GIRLSCHOOL mayhem. See how fruitful the career by this band has been, until the music went digital and the CD appeared in our life. From there on, the singles (vinyl 7” inches) stopped abruptly. The most recent line up of the band never released a single, as that’s almost out of the question in these days of internet and downloads. Bands are glad, that their album is being sold, instead of downloaded. I must admit, that the times when bands did release LPs and singles (or even picture discs) were much more interesting, but times are changing. This double CD sure is a nice collectors item for those, who didn’t buy all the seven inches by this band from the South of London, like us. And as far as the music is concerned - ah, you know the drill - and the fact that we are big GIRLSCHOOL fans here at Metal Maidens, this CD definitely deserves the full score. [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LAUREN HARRIS-Calm Before The Storm (Demolition DR2 Records)
Lauren is the daughter of IRON MAIDEN boss Steve Harris, in case you didn’t know it yet. And finally we can present her twelve track debut album “Calm Before The Storm” to you. I heard some people say, that Lauren doesn’t sound quite as heavy as her dad and that doesn’t really surprise me a bit. But what I hear in opener “Steal Your Fire” isn’t exactly easy listening pop music as well, thank God. It is more AC/DC-based rock music. And “Your Turn” could very well be a JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS song. It’s easy on the ear and it has got a steady beat. “Get Over It” is openly asking for radio airplay. AVRIL LAVIGNE comes to mind, when hearing the happiness in this song. “Like It Or Not” sounds a bit more mature, perhaps the later work by THE DONNAS would be a reference. “From The Bottom To The Top” is a ballad-type of song. Not a tearjerker, but more laid back, again with a reference to Avril maybe. Lauren’s band consists of Richie Faulkner on guitars, Randy Gregg on bass, Rafael Sosa on keyboards and Tom McWilliams on drums. Lauren has already gained quite a live experience and she has supported big names like THE ANSWER, WITHIN TEMPTATION and THUNDER, and appeared on many important festivals in the UK. And just like her father, she always gives a full hundred percent. “Let Us Be” is written to sing along to and “Hurry Up” is the perfect song to light your cigarette lighters once again. Not that you won’t see that very often nowadays, because many clubs don’t allow smoking anymore during live gigs. “Come On Over” sounds like the LAUREN HARRIS version of “Jumping Jack Flash” by THE ROLLING STONES. In “Hitt Or Miss”, the lady sounds like a Chrissy Hynde of THE PRETENDERS. As you can see, there is almost no reference to real heavy metal artists on this album. The guitarsolo in “You Say” is quite nice. But the piece of resistance is the bonus track, that attracted my biggest interest. It’s a cover of the UFO classic “Natural Thing”. UFO is holy in my book and she really did a very nice version by this all-time classic, in my opinion. LAUREN HARRIS will appeal to many rock fans out there. Not only because she is the daughter of, or because she has good looks, or her internet site has already over four million hits. But mainly because she has many different faces and her music has got a nice groove. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HEART-Dreamboat Annie Live (Shout Factory)
This live CD was recorded on April 17th, 2007 at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, where Seatle-based HEART cranked out a live rendition of their classic rock album “Dreamboat Annie”. The show was compiled by some rock classics and it shows, that Ann and Nancy Wilson are still the most important rocking sisters of the whole classic rock scene of today. The songs, they perform are timeless and opener “Magic Man” makes the shivers run down my spine. And this will not go away for fifteen songs and seventy minutes sharp. The heavenly voice of Ann Wilson is still very strong and I think she can be seen as one of the greatest rock vocalists of all-time. The band is accompanied by THE STOCKHOLM STRINGS during this show. This orchestra, consisting of two viola, two violin and two cello players reallys add something special to the songs. Just listen to “Sing Child” for example. In this particular song, Ann also plays the flute, which was quite remarkable when the original album was released in 1976. It was almost revolutionary to use this kind of instrument in a rock band. Only bands like FOCUS, GOLDEN EARRING and JETHRO TULL did this at that time. Anyway, Ann did it too, in case you didn’t know. After the live version of the legendary album, we will get the encores, containing an acoustic version of “Mistral Wind”, followed by a cover set containing covers of PINK FLOYD (“Goodbye Blue Sky”), LED ZEPPELIN (“Black Dog” and “Misty Mountain Hop”) and THE WHO (“Love Reign O’er Me”). Alltogether, it makes this CD ‘a must have’ item in every rock CD collection. The live concert is also released on DVD, by the way. HEART still knows how to rock me. The band consists of Ann Wilson on flute, percussion and vocals, Nancy Wilson on guitars, vocals, harmonica and mandolin, Ben Smith on drums, Craig Bartock on guitars and banjo, Debbie Shair on keyboards and Ric Markmann on bass and didgeridoo. Let this music take you back on a wonderful trip through rock history with dreamboat Annie and Nancy. Website: [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HEMORAGY-Jesus King Of Wine (independent)
HEMORAGY hails from France and their line up consists of Johannes Musslin on guitar and vocals, Steve Musslin on drums and Basstarde (great name!) Lynda Siewicz on bass. “Jesus King Of Wine” is the bands second album, which contains nine songs and thirty-five minutes of fast and furious old school heavy metal. Influences range from ANNIHILATOR to MOTÖRHEAD. The slightly thrashy sound contains some strong guitar solos, which makes this a great CD to enjoy. In the title track “Jesus King Of Wine”, you will hear the MOTÖRHEAD influences, while “How Many Time To Compose It?” has got a more underground metal sound and reminded me of the French metallers of TRUST in a way. Maybe because of the slightly French accent of vocalist Johannes. “Jump Into The Bestial Pit” is a very wild track with strong, groovy, machine gun riffs and thunder drums. The opening riff of “The Final Horseriding” makes me jump up again, and also the guitarwork in this song is breathtaking, and so it easily becomes one of the highlights on this album for me. The whole album breathes a real underground atmosphere, which I like a lot. Therefore, the score is higher than average. Jesus may be the king of wine, HEMORAGY are the new kings of French metal to us. Both horns up for HEMORAGY! Website: [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HYDROGYN-Deadly Passions (DR2 Records)
HYDROGYN from Kentucky is ready to rock again. Their new album is filled with ten new songs and about forty-minutes of wild femmetal. Julie Westlake and her boys crank out their hottest sound available. Just listen to the wild guitarsolo in opener “Rejection”. With songs like “On And On”, HYDROGYN will probably reach the wide audience, that they like to play for. The song has a slightly commercial touch, which is definitely not overdone, but it may appeal to a broader public. While “Your Life” is a more rocking song, which has a good groove and a flashing solo. Title track “Deadly Passions” is again very catchy and the band made this song suitable to sing along to. I think, that we all know the next one. It’s a cover version of ALANIS MORRISSETTE’s “You Oughta Know”. Remarkable detail is, that they changed the lyrics just a little bit to make it suitable for radio airplay. “Over U” contains some mindblowing axework again at the end of the song. “Candles Light Your Face” is another example of the more open sound of HYDROGYN on this album. The ‘sing –along’ section in “Seroquil” is another good example of the slightly different approach by the band. This would have never been possible on “Bombshell”. While “Silent Animation” sounds a bit more groovy. The CD closes with “Shalow”, which is a beautiful ballad. There is also a hidden track on this CD, which is one of the better songs, if you’d ask my honest opinion. Here and there, we hear some distorted vocals, but we especially hear a band that rocks out loud. HYDROGYN is destined to reach out for a bigger audience, which should be possible with this album. The ‘deadly’ passion is still there, but it’s hidden underneath a little right now. Still, rock fans will certainly dig this sound, I am sure about that. Who can resist Julie Westlake and HYDROGYN?? We can’t, that’s for sure.Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

IGNITOR-Road Of Bones (vinyl record) (High Roller Records/Femetal Records)
IGNITOR celebrates their second release on Femetal Records. “Road Of Bones” is the band’s second album and it contains the true metal spirit, that we already heard on their debut album “Take To The Sky”. A sound, that could be compared to JUDAS PRIEST at the height of their career, PRIMAL FEAR (who are very much influenced by PRIEST), WASP or ACCEPT. “Death On The Road” is the intro to the title track “Road Of Bones” and a true metal hymn to me. Erika has got the ultimate female metal siren, comparable to Kate French (ex-CHASTAIN, VAINGLORY), Leather Leone (ex-CHASTAIN) or Kate of ACID. A true metal icon, wearing a studded leather outfit, her blonde long hair waving in the air and a voice, that makes my flesh creep. Just listen to a song like “Scarlet Enigma” and you’ll know what I mean. The grapes were very sour in the van Poorten residence, when we heard that Erika had left the band, almost right after the release of “Road Of Bones”. They had already seen guitarplayer Beverly Barrington leave the band, right after they played at the Keep It True Festival in Germany. Their new guitarplayer Annah Moore is a very suitable replacement for Beverly and we can hear her skills on this great metal album. However, let me rephrase this into: ‘she was a very suitable replacement’, because Annah has already left the band and they decided to bring back Beverly to the (still) singerless line up of IGNITOR in 2008. While listening to great songs, such as “March To The Guillotine” and “God Of Vengeance”, I could imagine seeing the band headlining every huge heavy metal festival in the world. This could have been the case, if the line up of the band would have been stable. This band certainly has the potential to become very huge. Every song on “Road Of Bones” breathes out the true metal spirit, that I love so much. Besides Erika on vocals and Annah on guitar, IGNITOR consists of Stuart Laurence on lead guitar, Brendon Bigelow on bass and Pat Doyle on drums. “Wings Of The Blackheart” opens the B-side of this album, which comes with a nice four page booklet with all the lyrics and some beautiful pics. After album closer “Castle In The Clouds”, there is room for some more. The album contains a bonus seven inch with the German and the English version of “Rheinheitsgebot” – a metal anthem that the band especially wrote and played at the Keep It True festival. A real treat to every IGNITOR fan. Our thanks goes out to Rainer Krukenberg en Femetal Records for making this review possible. Website: [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

IZEGRIM-Tribute To Totalitariarism (Rusty Cage Records)
Dutch underground thrash metallers IZEGRIM released a new album, called “Tribute To Totalitariarism”. In forty-five minutes, we get ten new songs blown at our face with a lot of violence! People, who know this brutal unit of the Dutch thrash metal scene, know that the band consists of two female members, which is quite extraordinary. Kristien is the brutal screaming vocalist and Marloes plunders the bass guitar. The male members are Bart on guitar, Jeroen on guitar and Joep on drums. When thinking of a brutal thrash sound in combination with a female singer, your thoughts will directly go out to ARCH ENEMY of course. And I think this is a nice comparison. Kristien can easily compete with the growls and screams of Angela Gossow. IZEGRIM however focusses on other issues. They have a fascination for war, which is the main topic on this album. Better get prepared for a true bombardment of riffs and brutal screams. Opener “The Father, The Son & The Holy President” creates such a real atmosphere, as though you are listening to the album while being at the war grounds. Great title, by the way. IZEGRIM not only shows, that they can play some damn fine thrash metal. They also have a good clear vision of what’s going on today in the world of war and terror and especially the role of President Bush and the US in this. Because we are a music related website, I will cut down my reaction towards the politic engaged lyrics and focus on the musical aspects of “Tribute To Totalitariarism”, but their ideas and thoughts sure have my support. “Sword Of Damocles” is indeed the second highlight on this album. Well, at least in my opinion. While in “Deliverance”, the machine guns are loaded one more time. One final, brutal attack will have to bring down the enemy and this time for real. And if that’s not the case, there is still the ‘repeat’ button, that will get the troops ready for another ear attack. IZEGRIM rules and no one can hold them back. We salute these thrash metal soldier for their great tribute to totalitariarism! Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

JULIAN’S LULLABY-I Can Hear You thinking….. (independent)
JULIAN’S LULLABY hails from Greece and consists of Antonios ‘Rock Idol’ Chaniotis on male vocals, keyboard and violin, Elias ‘Sagittarius’ Negrin on guitars and Efrosyne Papamichalopoulou on vocals. Their sound is a bit difficult to describe, because there is a variety of styles on this album. Opener “Faces Of Gray” sounds very romantic, soft, gentle and folky with a poppy underground. While “Kiss Me Nol (Tonight)” is a bit more uptempo, and could be described as gothic metal. There’s the serene female vocals on one side, and the thundering double bass attacks on the other side. “Queen In Your Dreams” is definitely metal again, which opens with keyboards. So the overall music style is folk metal or gothic metal here. The six songs on “I Can Hear You Thinking….” have a playing time of about twenty-five mintues. And during this time, you will hear that we’re dealing with some very talented musicians here. Antonios has played in several bands, Efrosyne has taken classical singing lessons for several years and Elias played in bands such as DISHARMONY and DECADENCE, and has been an experienced musician for sixteen years already. This really shows in the compositions too, that are very well-balanced between soft and heavy and quite varied. “Hanging Crown” is heavy again and contains some high screams of Antonios. I know that a lot of Greek bands like to give their music an epic touch, which is also the case of JULIAN’S LULLABY. The performance of the songs is very majestic and never sloppy. “Just For A Day” closes this six track CD, which sounds very melodic because of the piano. A very atmospheric ending of this nice release by the Greek gothic folk metal band. Website: [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

KANYBL KAOW-Glassbox, Live And In Concert (independent)
Our favorite metal cow has returned with a fifty minute live CD. These four young sisters believe in what they’re doing and that’s the most important thing in becoming a successful band. This live CD contains ten songs. Some have got a very slow and doomy sound, but at other occassions they also gain speed, like in the short “You’re So Dumb”. The band gets slow and heavy in “A Birthday For Pancho”, where the sound tends to get real sludgy. I must admit, that I like that approach a lot. And the low voice fits very well to the slow music, don’t you agree? If you take a look at the band photo inside the booklet, you must admit that the spooky face paint of the four sisters is really a tight fit in combination to the dark atmosphere around these KAYBL KAOWS. Put these young ladies with their full face paint in a dark venue, let them play their slow, doomy, dark music, and you will scare the shit out of the biggest horror freaks. “New And Improved” is another good example of the sludgy sound by KANYBL KAOW, including some brutal growls. Yes, Snow, Silvermoon, Rain and Whitefeather really know to impress me again, after a slow start. And I can surely recommend this very song to all the doomsters out there. The spoken word in this song fits just perfect to the slow tending speed. Wow, I think I’m gonna like this one a lot!! While “Not Your Dawg” is a bit easier on to ear. These ladies don’t want you to get depressed, do they? CD closer “Not That Much” is perhaps a bit too much (read: too lengthy), but that’s the only comment I would like to make to a band, that has got a very long and prosperous future ahead of them. Like I already mentioned, they believe in themselves and we certainly do believe in them. All the more reason to tell you, that “Glassbox, Live And In Concert” is on sale right now. Another vicious attack of the meateating cow from Montague, California. If spooky sounding, slow, doomy music is your thing, you’d better check this band out. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

KRYPTERIA-Bloodangel’s Cry (Synergy Records)
A good tip for fans of EVANESCENCE, WITHIN TEMPTATION, AFTER FOREVER and the old sound of NIGHTWISH (with Tarja). Have a listen to the new album by German goth metalheads KRYPTERIA. The band started their career in 2001. Two years later, in 2003, they released their first album and shortly afterwards they recruited Korean vocalist Ji-In Cho, and recorded their second album in 2005. The single of that album reached a number one position in the Korean charts. This third album shows a good mix of symphonic rock and gothic metal. I already mentioned some names to compare KRYPTERIA’s music. Just listen to a song like “The Promise” to justify that. Although opener “All Systems Go” shows a more symphonic approach here and there. I think in the direction of another Korean band like SERAPHIM. Ji-In Cho shows that she is a very talented vocalist, who is surrounded by some skilled musicians like Chris Siemons on guitar, Frank Stumvoll on bass and S.C. Kuschnerus on drums. “Time To Bring Me Pain” has got some very nice instrumental ideas. While “Scream” is a very heavy song, in which the band also adds a bit of power in their music. It’s definitely one of the highlights on the album for me. More power is to be heard in “Lost”, where the band plays some heavy riffs in the beginning of this song. It also showcases the more bombastic, gothic-like choir vocals. In “The Night All Angels Cry”, they take back speed and this moody ballad is a nice piece of rest, when you take the other busy songs in mind. The CD, which contains twelve songs and has a running time of about a full hour, closes with a lengthy piece of resistance, called “At The Gates Of Retribution”, which lasts about ten minutes. It’s a symphonic, piece of art with more choir vocals and a slow pace. A nice introduction to this German/Korean band, who are already working on their next (fourth) studio album, due this winter! Check ‘em out!! Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LANA LANE-Red Planet Boulevard (Frontiers Records)
LANA LANE fans will definitely be thrilled by this new album of the queen of melodic, symphonic rock. Together with her partners-in-crime, Erik Norlander on keyboards and bass guitar, Ernst van Ee on drums and Peer Verschuren on guitar, she provides us with twelve brand new songs. These twelve songs are worthy of almost seventy minutes of heavenly, melodic, sympho metal. Opener “Into The Fire” already sums up, what it is all about. Compact songs with a lot of surprisingly instrumental attacks, topped with the great female vocals by Lana herself. In fact, this song is one of my favorites on this new album. “Jessica”, for example, is much slower, but it has got that natural flow that makes it very enjoyable to listen to. The talkbox sound by Peer in “Shine” is one of those surprises, that the band has got in store for you. You won’t expect them to happen, but they turn out to sound great. Another highlight for sure. And so you will discover many great highlights in all these different songs. The progressive sidestep and bluesy guitar solo in “Lazy Summer Day” for example, really lift this song up to something special. While “The Sheltering Sorrow” is very special to me, because of the beautiful acoustic guitar solo. Title track “Red Planet Boulevard” closes this CD. It’s a great instrumental track, in which the musicians show their skills once more. “Red Planet Boulevard” has become another mighty fine release by LANA LANE, who shows us the diversity of her melodic, sympho rock over and over. Both thumbs up for this already legendary singer and her band. These kind of products only deserve the full score. Website: [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LEVEL-C-S/T (Locomotive records/Rock Inc.)
In their biography, LEVEL-C from Cleveland, USA is labeled as America’s heaviest all-female metal band. And they’re right about that! These brutal ‘bad’ sisters sound like a mix of KITTIE, PANTERA and BLACK LABEL SOCIETY on their long-awaited self-titled debut album, which is worthy of ten songs and almost forty minutes of mindblowing heavy metal. The band toured with the likes of KITTIE, OTEP and CRISIS and these last two names could very well be on their list of musical influences. Aggressive sounding riffs, groovy melodies and loud growling, sometimes clean female vocals, is their trademark. Industrial computer noises (For example in “Relax”), it’s all part of the deal, which turns this album into more than just some average brutal metal pounders. Ohio can be proud of these four daughters in heavy metal, because there is a lot of potential in their music. Let’s introduce the band a bit closer to you. We have Janean Marie Buch on bass, Christina Crago on guitar, Christine Maynard on vocals and Misty Everson on drums. And they’re all damn fine musicians, too. A song like “Chain Reaction” proves, this band is formed around a bunch of well-skilled musicians. It’s not a chain reaction of plain metal riffs and it contains a remarkable mood change halfway the song, going into a more progressive part. More of these exciting outings are heard in “Back To My”, which is indeed another highlight here. While “Blackout” has got this so-called PANTERA groove, sounding mean to the bone. Sure, LEVEL-C may sound too new fashioned to some of the older metalheads, but for those who have evolved in today’s metal revolution, this all-female outfit may be very interesting to check out. And if you listen to their album several times, you may start to dig their sound little by little. I am at Level B now, while C is the highest level imaginable. How to get there? Go to the band’s My Space site at: and be amazed!! [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MIDNATTSOL-Nordlys (Napalm Records/Rough Trade)
"Nordlys" is the second album from the Norwegian/German combo MIDNATTSOL. Since the release of their debut album "Where Twilight Dwells" in 2005, the band have done a lot of touring and honing their craft. Now, with "Nordlys" the band are ready to take that next step. Of course, much of the attention is centered on Carmen Elise Espnaes, because she is the sister of Liv Kristine, but with "Nordlys" she is ready to break out of her older sisters shadow. Judging from the songs contained on "Nordlys", Carmen is ready to forge her own path in the world of metal. The band is completed by Christian Hector (guitars), Daniel Fischer (keyboards), Daniel Droste (guitars), Chris Merzinsky (drums) and Birgit Ollbrunner (bass). "Open Your Eyes" starts things of on a surprisingly calm note before the drums come in and things get heavy, and away we go. This is a strong opening track, that shows the listener right away how the band has progressed and in particular the vocals of Carmen. The next track "Skogens Lengsel" is the first of three songs sung in Norwegian. It is a nice mid-tempo song, that also has a cool guitar riff. Next is "Northern Light". It starts off quietly, but then quickly builds into a powerful, dramatic opus. By the time it gets to the middle, it develops into a galloping, heavy, runaway train of a song. This is one of the definite highlights for me. With a catchy chorus, this song sticks in your head long after you've heard it. Next is "Konkylie". At 8-minutes long this the longest track and another highlight. It's strength is another awesome guitar riff and Carmen's mesmerizing vocals coming in after that. "Wintertime" is another favorite. It has got lots of changes and some of the most passionate singing, that Carmen is able to muster. "Race Of Time" is a song, that doesn't fool around and goes right for the throat. "New Horizon" is a beautiful ballad-ish number. At three minutes, it is the shortest track, but it is pretty and effective. Other highlights include "River Of Virgin Soil" and "En Natt I Nord". The limited edition digi-pack features the bonus track "Octobre". What we have here are ten songs and fifty-five minutes worth of high quality folk/metal. As much of a fan of "Where Twilight Dwells" I was, I have to admit that "Nordlys" leaves that one in the dust. The band have really outdone themselves. Their evolution and progress is so evident, that you would have to be blind not to see. It's been three years between albums for MIDNATTSOL and I have to say that "Nordlys" was well worth the wait. My favorite album of 2008 so far. [10 points] (Tony Cannella)

MISS BEHAVIOUR-Loud & Clear (independent)
MISS BEHAVIOUR are from Bergen Op Zoom, Holland and they present their new five track CD. Five tracks, that will rock your world. They open with “Blind”, a raunchy rock song with a steady beat and some fabulous guitarwork. And that’s what we want to hear! MISS BEHAVIOUR consists of Jan Meesters on guitar, Jack van Loenhout on bass and vocals, Fons van der Velde on drums and voclas and Fabiola Splinter on vocals. The second song is called “Stay”, which is a bit more ballad-ish, but still catchy and again with great guitarwork. The songs of MISS BEHAVIOUR all have a certain classical rock attitiude with a good groove. This time, the band received some help from guest musicians, who added their skills to some of the songs here. “Down & Dirty” is one of my faves. It reminded me of the harder work of FRANKIE MILLER or BOB SEGER. It’s a song with a good feeling, which would sound great on a sunny day on the looooong highway 66, windows of the Corvette open wide, booze in the back of the car and still 347 miles to go. After that, it’s time to slow things down a bit with the ballad “My Life”. “Pushin’ Me” is a funk rock song, which closes this nineteen minute mini album. MISS BEHAVIOUR shows, that you can still rock in Holland. If you like catchy, groovy rock music, then you have to check out these five songs. You’ll be amazed! Check out the bands website at: [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE MYSTERY-Soulcatcher (Limited Access Records/Hard Life Promotion)
Germany's THE MYSTERY are back with their fourth album and a new frontwoman. Joining the fold on vocals is Korry Schadwell. She is joined by: Alex "Thunder" Martin (guitar), Christian J. Ruther (bass) and Daniel Kahn (drums). Their latest album is titled "Soulcatcher" and it sees the band continuing in the classic metal vein that they established for themselves on their previous releases - particularly on their last one "Scars". It is always a risky move when a band replaces a singer, you are never sure if your fan base is going to accept the new member. I think it's safe to say that Korry has a lot going for her and she should have no problem in winning the fans over. Now, on to the music. The CD begins with the instrumental intro track, "Ascending Souls". This piece is approximately 1-minute long that keeps building and building before leading us into the song, "Take Me To Light". This song features a monster guitar riff that just gallops along throughout the track. This is a strong number that also showcases the powerful vocals of Korry. It's obvious that the band made a wise decision in hiring her as their new front woman. Next up is "Judas Betrayed". This is another strong track, full of swagger and attitude and it really keeps things going in a positive direction. More strong guitar work from Alex Martin is on display here. This is just a crushing song and a definite highlight for me. The chorus is so strong, undeniable and catchy as hell. Next we have the forty-five second intro track "The Catchers Prelude". This is just a sweet piano-laden piece that is a unique departure - especially for what is to come. Another wicked guitar riff starts off the next track "Soulcatcher". This is another solid and infectious song that is more of a mid-tempo number but it definitely grabs your attention throughout and never lets up. "Turn Into Stone" is another one that will have you banging your head and playing your air guitar and just generally thrashing about. The solid riffing just keeps on coming with the next song "My Heart Lies Bleeding". "Suicidal Thoughts", "Heaven At War" and "World Downfall" keep things going full throttle. Other highlights include: "Coming Home" and "Angel". The final song "Unready To Die" is a tender ballad that has plenty of heart and emotion going for it - yet it still has it's heavy moments, this is certainly a nice way to wrap things up. I am not sure if THE MYSTERY would consider this to be a concept a album, but many of the songs seem to deal with good versus evil themes. Either way the songs are well written - both musically and lyrically. Musically, I would compare them to maybe WARLOCK, but it's too easy to put a band in a certain box or category. I think it really should be up to the listener to decide. With "Soulcatcher" THE MYSTERY have recorded an album that is a strong fifteen songs and fifty-four minutes worth of songs that are direct and to the point. There are plenty of great and memorable guitar riffs and the individual band member performances are also top notch. THE MYSTERY are just a good metal band. These days female vocalists in metal bands have that soprano/operatic thing going (not that that's a bad thing), but with THE MYSTERY you get none of that, which is a refreshing change of pace. Just good songs, good musicianship and a love for metal. It's a winning combination. Website: [10 points] (Tony Cannella)

MT-TV-North South (independent)
MT-TV is the continuation of the notorious ROCKBITCH. So, now I am sure I’ve got all your attention. The band’s musical career continues here on this CD. In seven songs, the band spreads out their musical wings and proves, that they’re still capable of rocking out real loud. Their music is a bit alternative, but it contains a lot of melody. Some of these songs are rather catchy, without getting too commercial. “Shame” creates a more power ballad type of feeling, and contains a very nice guitar solo. While “Lie” opens with a great retro kind of riff. Fact is, that the band has grown a lot musically, since their ROCKBITCH years. Or let me rephrase this: these ladies have matured big time in their rock sound. It still sounds powerful, yet it’s less extreme than “Fistfuck”. “Hear Me (remastered)” is by far the best song on this seven tracker. Just listen to the amazing guitar work on this one. It has got a great groove and in my imagination, I can already see the heads go up and down on this one. The CD closes with yet another great rocker, called “Sinners. This time the band added some keyboards up front, which doesn’t do any harm to the groovy sound in this song. “North South” is a thirty-five minute album, that may be heard. Check it out open mindedly, and you’ll be amazed by the musical talents of these former ROCKBITCH ladies. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MY RUIN-Throat Full Of Heart (Cargo Records)
Tairrie B has got a lot of anger ready to spit out on her listeners, so it’s time for a brand new album. Ten new songs will tear down your bedroom walls. Forty minutes of aggressive excitement will certainly please the blackest souls out there. A great opportunity to escape from the normal day to day life. “Me Without You” and opener “Ready For Blood” have got the perfect recipe for another successful MY RUIN album. Loud riffs developped from the early BLACK SABBATH era, topped with the ultra aggressive vocal chords by Tairrie B herself. “Religiosity” is quite heavy and it ends like VINNIE VINCENT’s “Invasion”, only shorter. While in “Slide You the Horn”, the band reminds me of CATHEDRAL. And in “Not This Time”, the fury is unleashed to the max. Okay, we’re sorry, maybe another time?! “Dragon Steel” is a mighty fine title for a true metal anthem and I can tell you that this is one of the best songs on the album with Tairrie in a leading role. Religion is the main theme here, but MY RUIN is definitely not a religious band. They just use religion as an outlet for writing lyrics. “Nothing Is Sacred” says it all in a way. The CD closes with “Through The Wound” - a black as night, doomy piece, that rounds off this magnificent new release in a perfect way. This new album will definitely appeal to black souled doomsters with an open mind for aggressive, screaming vocals by the queen of screamo herself, Miss Tairrie B. Mick Murphy is Tairrie’s partner-in-crime and he’s definitely a hot guitarplayer. Just listen to the steaming licks and groovy rhythms, he laid down on this album. The line up of MY RUIN is completed with Chris Lisee on bass and Marcelo Palomino (MANHOLE, TURA SATANA) back on the drums (replacing Matt LeChevalier). The next move for the band is a live DVD and a live CD. With this album, you also get a bonus DVD, featuring two video clips for “Ready For Blood” and “Religiosity”, as well as some behind the scene footage. Grab this opportunity, while you can! Website: [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

The NAKED BEGGARS are on the prowl again. Dustin Delore, who replaced Lisa Rav on drums, Inga Brittingham on vocals, Erik Brittingham on bass and Kris Kasamento on guitars, are the present line-up on this new album “XXX”. The CD contains twelve songs and plays for fifty minutes. It proves, that ‘the Beggars’ still rock out loud. “Can’t Breathe” is a nice rock song with a great guitar solo. The music is very ‘easy-on-the-ear’ without getting commercial and poppy. There’s always the guitar riffs to crank up the sound a little. “Naked ‘N’ Beggin” has got the well-known STONES-like riffs in the louder parts and a chorus ready to shout along to. THE ROLLING STONES are a good reference towards their sound, which is always catchy. Yet the songs stick into your head and don’t let go. “Oh! Daddy” is a different story. It comes very close to a ballad-type of song and it has a country-like guitar sound. I would almost refer to some of the material by MELISSA ETHERIDGE here. “Pretty Boy” brings back the rock in their sound. And so does “Go Where You’re Wanted”. “Three Shot Floor” is a killer rocker, while “Destiny” sounds very modest. In “Get Down”, they turn back the knob to rock. “What Have I Done Now” turns up the speed a notch and provides a steady beat. “The One” closes this CD and shows us, that NAKED BEGGARS are still rocking, but sounding a lot modest than on “Spit It Out”. Sure, there’s still a lot to enjoy on this album, but the variety in different music styles are definitely balancing towards modesty rather than rock this time. Website: [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

PANNDORA-Panndora (independent)
PANNDORA are an all-female heavy metal band from Brazil. The band started their career in 2000 under the name of WIND OF FATE and consists of Camila on guitar, Taise Bjora on bass, Kamila Trevisan on guitar, Adrismith on drums and Aline Rizzato on drums. During the instrumental “Intro”, I somewhat get the idea, that we are dealing with a gothic-type of metal band. However, opener “Nightmare Of My Essence” definately proves, that I was so wrong! These maidens have truly come to rock! The album contains eight tracks and has a running time of a little over thirty minutes. Back to the first song now, which contains a nice guitar solo halfway through and also includes some furious double bass drum. “Killing Yourself” has got a more epic approach and I like to refer to WARLORD, when I listen to this song. In “Wild Battle”, I hear dark female vocals, which makes them sound like MANILLA ROAD in a way. Also the more epic approach is to be heard in this song. “My Heretic Lips” contains those female vocals again and is a bit more uptempo. When the guitar solo starts, the speed goes up and moves into a galloping beat. In “Black Sky”, the girls raise their swords again. After this song, the official CD is over, but we are treated to two bonus tracks. The demo versions of “Choose Your Side” and “Other Life” gives us a more underground feel of PANNDORA. And it’s these songs, that appeal to me most. PANNDORA is definitely metal, and I think that these ladies can be proud of what they’ve achieved on this album. In closing, I must say, that I really liked the (fantasy) CD cover, which pictures a woman who is being attacked by a two-headed monster. If you like traditional heavy metal played by an all-female outfit, then PANNDORA is your thing. Check it out!! Website: XXXX (TvP) [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

PLASMATICS-Coup De Grace (Plasmatics Media)
The CDs released by the PLASMATICS fanclub are always very well taken care of. Same goes for their DVDs. They really do a great thing with the heritage of one of the biggest metal queens and icons ever, Wendy O. Williams. The release of “Coupe De Grace” was still one of the missing links here. It’s already ten years ago, since she commited suicide and when listening to this album, I still feel that we miss her a lot. She was a professional in everything she did. Just listen to this album. It’s full with true heavy metal classics, originally released in 1982 as “Coup D’Etat”. This CD is a must to all the fans, because what we hear are the original demos for the album “Coup D’Etat”, recorded at the Electric Lady Land Studios. The recordings, that you hear here, are a lot rawer than the final recordings on the album, released on Capitol Records. And some of the songs even have different arrangements. A true addition to the already impressive PLASMATICS collection. Back in those days, THE PLASMATICS were still a shock rock band and they weren’t very popular in the establishment of the USA. They were accepted a bit more than in the beginning, because you simply couldn’t ignore them any longer. They had become huge and quite popular in Europe and especially in England, they were a big hit, because of the attention that they got in Kerrang!(magazine). In “Rock ‘N’ Roll” and “The Damned”, Wendy sounds like a female version of ALICE COOPER, while in “No Class” we hear a raunchy version of the old MOTÖRHEAD classic. Their band line-up consisted of Wes Beech on guitar, Joey Reese on drums (who also sadly passed away), Chris Romanelli on bass guitar and keyboards, Richie Stotts on lead guitar and the sadly missed Wendy O. Williams on vocals. THE PLASMATICS changed rock and roll drastically and I can only bow deeply for what this great band has accomplished over the years. And everyone, who disagrees on this comment, should shut their mouth and read a different review. Eleven songs of passionate love for rock and roll are to be heard on this album, worthy of forty-five minutes of timeless heavy metal. We love you, Wendy and we still miss you very much! Website: [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

POWERS COURT-The Red Mist Of Endenmore (Dragonheart)
It’s so good to have this band back again with their new album “The Red Mist Of Endenmore”. Frontlady Danie Powers (vocals, guitar, mandolin) sounds stronger than ever. Her band consists of Steve Murray on bass and backing vocals, and Daniel Nydick on drums. The new album contains twelve songs and has a running time of about forty-five minutes. After a short, instrumental intro (“Ab Initia”), we enter “The Prophecy”, which is a good reflection of what POWERS COURT is all about. Dark power metal and vocals, ranging from high and pinching to low and growling. Their sound will certainly remember you of MANILLA ROAD. A comparison, which I already made in ’96, when the band released their self-titled debut album. In “Power Tapestry”, Danie’s voice sounds much higher than in “The Prophecy”. The dark powerful instrumentation remains the same. Fast, killer riffs embrace “A Somber Day”, resulting in a great guitar solo of Danie at the end of the song. This is top notch material by a band, that knows what true metal should sound like. With “Kingdom Falls”, the band gains even more speed. The choir vocals reminded me of KING DIAMOND and MERCYFUL FATE. “Darkness Calls” sounds less dark at first, but later on, the first progressive parts are finding its shape and turn this song into something special. What strikes me the most is, that all songs are quite short, but there is still a lot going on in these three to four minute stories. Title track “The Red Mist Of Endenmore” contains some thrashy SLAYER-like riffs. It’s a killer song, galloping along at high speed. One of the highlights on this album for me is a song, called “There Once Was A Time”. A great epic metal tune with a wonderful guitar solo, which is captured again in a bit over three minutes. While “Vain Regrets” on the contrary sounds very modest indeed. Before we know it, we have arrived at the last song already. The bonus track of the album is called “Cold Day in Hell”. It’s another true highlight: the massive speed, the aggressive vocals, the haunting riffs. What a great way to disappear into the red mist of Endenmore! Unless you push the ‘repeat’ button on your player, which I did right away to have another good listen to this great, dark power metal album. I raise my sword to Danie and POWERS COURT, and put both thumbs up. This album contains heavy metal for the believers in the true metal spirit! Website: [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

PUCK-Beyond Reason (independent)
PUCK consists of Amy Jay on vocals, Fred on guitar and piano, Lee on guitar, Si on bass and Aidan on drums and acoustic guitar, and the band hails from England. The album runs for about twenty-five minutes and contains seven groovy rock tracks. In their bio, I read comparisons to VELVET REVOLVER and FOO FIGHTERS. I would rather go for a raunchy version of KELLY CLARKSON and AVRIL LAVIGNE, but only because of the female vocals. Listening to the guitar solo in “All That You Are”, the name of Slash definitely comes to mind as well. So VELVET REVOLVER isn’t a bad choice at all. The songs have a good vibe, a nice groove and they simply have the right swing to get an average festival crowd going wild. It rocks with a capitol R, and the songs have all the ingredients to become hit singles. In other words, PUCK is capable to appeal to a bigger audience than a metal audience alone. Metalheads can dig in too. Just listen to the guitar solos, that add an extra strong flavour to the different songs, without losing their necessary grip. After the first two songs, it’s time for an acoustic ballad, called “Michael”. The name of our Dutch pride and joy KREZIP comes up pretty easily. If they can become huge in our country, why shouldn’t PUCK stand the same chance? With “No Shame”, it’s fists in the air and go! This song will definitely remove the sweat from your body. “Change Me” is a more seriously song. PUCK simply handles it all and shows their many different faces on this remarkable strong debut album. In “Shelter”, the band sounds a bit darker, while in “No Tonight”, there’s even some room for a nice guitar solo. PUCK is an easy name to remember and they’ve created a nice album to check out, if you like solid rock music with a catchy vibe. Last but defintiely not least, we’d like to mention here, that we also received a one track bonus CD with a rough mix of a new song, called “Savior”. Thanks a lot for this exclusive preview. The song opens with a POLICE-like drumbeat and it has a very groovy guitar sound. It’s another outstanding rock track, which shows the strong side of this remarkable band and gives you a good idea of how things may sound in the (near) future. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

RED VOODOO-Rock Rock (independent)
RED VOODOO is a three piece outfit from Belgium, consisting of former members of 3AB and STRANGLEHOLD. The band started out as a cover band, but on this debut album, they limited themselves to two cover songs only. Let’s first introduce the musicians a bit closer to you. We have Roger Grossard on bass and backing vocals, Lorenzo Augustini on guitar and vocals and Corina Stokmans on the drums. “Break Out” is a good, solid rock song with some nice breaks. Another highlight for me is the fast “The Chase”, which contains some smoking guitar solos. Next, we get the first cover, “We Will Rock You”, one of the ultimate QUEEN classics. The nice thing about this cover is, that they didn’t just play the song, but they gave it a different twist and created a version of their own. It sounds so much different, yet it’s still very recognizable. And doing so, they simply turned it into something special. There is a magnificent riff at the beginning of “Nightmare”, which captures the spirit of JIMI HENDRIX in a way. It’s a dark, psychedelic and spooky kind of song, which creates a real horror environment, perfectly matching with the song title. “Voodoo” on the other hand is a nice uptempo song, while “Remember My Name” captures some great guitar riffs. Old school hard rock fans will surely love the sound of RED VOODOO. “Break Out” is on next. Again? Yes, but this is the radio edit version and we’re in for another surprise. With the help of some arrangement moves, they managed to turn this song into an almost different track. Check it out! The second cover on this CD is the JIMI HENDRIX song “Hey Joe”. It also gets the RED VOODOO treatment. The HENDRIX roots are still there, but they added a slightly funky bass sound to it, making it sound so much different than the well-known original version. Finally, RED VOODOO politely says ‘goodbye’ with the instrumental track “See Ya”. RED VOODOO’s “Rock Rock” album is very much worth checking out for those, who like melodic driven hard rock, or people, who already liked the music of STRANGLEHOLD. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ROTT-Out Of Time (Ravenheart Music)
ROTT (not to be confused to the glamrockers of RATT!!) is a band from the northern part of Idaho, USA and their latest CD is called “Out Of Time”. Their name already sounds as black as the night and their sound isn’t quite happy either. It could make you happy though, if you like the dark and sometimes depressing sound of A PERFECT CIRCLE, TOOL or maybe even the later sound of L7. Low tuned, riffing guitars, gothic whispering vocals by a female singer, called Molly Sirenne and dark drum and bass beats are the main ingredients on this eleven song album. “Mysteries (Angels)” even contains some BLACK SABBATH influences. And a song like “Eternal” reminds me of the sound by EARTH AND FIRE (from Holland) and JEFFERSON AIRPLANE. While “Brightest Star” sounds a bit like the ROSE TATTOO classic “Stuck On You”, only with a more gothic approach. I know, that’s hard to believe, but check out these two songs back to back, and you’ll know what I mean. You’ll see, there’s a lot more to ROTT than just being another gothic metal band on the block. Besides Molly, the band consists of Dan Profitt on guitars, Carrie McNutt on piano and keyboards, Aaron Birdsall on bass and Michael ‘Mikeee’ McGill on drums. The riffs on “Drowning” are again very BLACK SABBATH influenced, but in general this song is very dreamy, which is a strange combination. The distorted vocals are something, that you wouldn’t really expect at all. That’s the unexpected in ROTT. Other magazines might say, that the band is still searching for a steady musical direction. We would like to explain it as a variety in styles. “Just Like You” has got those mighty, heavy riffs again and the CD closes with the title track “Out Of Time”. If you fancy something else than the average gothic metal band, then I suggest to have a listen to ROTT. Website: [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE RUNAWAYS-Japanese Singles Collection (Cherry Red Records)
What can I say or write about THE RUNAWAYS, that hasn’t been written before? The only thing that hasn’t been done before, is to write a review of their newest CD “Japanese Single Collection”. Which is, if you take a good look at it, without seeing the CD title, in fact some kind of ‘best of’ release. The Japanese singles by this all-female heavy metal band are very rare items and if you bought them, when they were originally released, you paid a good price for it, I guess. Today in 2008, these rarities sell for much higher values than ever before. Seven singles, containing fourteen songs totally and worthy of forty-five minutes of RUNAWAYS mayhem. THE RUNAWAYS were hot in Japan, a country where they truly believed in the band and their talent. The CD opens with the band’s biggest hit single “Cherry Bomb”, a song that is still covered by many artists. And if you’d ask the real RUNAWAYS adept about their most favorite song, many will answer “Cherry Bomb”, I guess. “Blackmail” has always been one of my personal faves, because of its rawness and heavy hooks and the icely scream of Joan at the beginning of the song. “Secrets” and “Rock ‘N’ Roll” (a LOU REED cover) are on next, very catchy tunes, that carry out the sound of the band very well. While “Neon Angels On The Road To Ruin” is also on my list of personal faves. It’s quite heavy and contains a nice guitar solo by Lita. The most striking about this song however is the drum part (R.I.P, dear Sandy!!), which reminds me of the early days of KISS. In fact, the same goes for the beginning of “Queens Of Noise”. Although THE RUNAWAYS were more a punk rock band rather than a heavy metal outfit in a way, it sure shows the underground musical aspects of this band, that was much more than a bunch of pretty faces with a jolly, poppy bubblegum sound. Just listen to the drums pounding in this song. Amazing! The two live songs were taken from their well-known “Live In Japan” album. The single contained the songs “Allright You Guys” and “Blackmail”. We continue with “Little Sister” and another heavy song, called “School Days”. These songs show the diversity by this band: the freshness of young school girls on one hand and the fangs and claws of a wild tiger on the other. After this, we hear two covers. First there’s “Mama Weer All Crazee Now”, originally written by SLADE, later covered by QUIET RIOT and “Eight Days A Week”, originally written by THE BEATLES. These two covers also show their wide variety of influences. The rebellious, wild rock and roll of SLADE, and the more modest, mature sound of THE BEATLES, was brought together by one band. It’s amazing but true, THE RUNAWAYS easily covered both music styles quite well. The two bonus tracks on this nice release were taken from a UK single and called “Right Now” and “Black Leather”. These two songs show us the two faces of THE RUNAWAYS once again. “Right Now” being the more poppy side of the band, whereas “Black Leather” definitely has a much rawer and heavy approach. It’s a damn shame, that there isn’t any exclusive material available for the real fans, who already own all these Japanese singles. But it sure is a nice compilation for all the RUNAWAYS fans out there. Website: [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SCARLET ANGEL-Enter The Magic (Road Pizza Records)
The self-titled debut CD of SCARLET ANGEL was a true heavy metal gem in our book. Our curiosity was high, if the band could keep up this high standard on its successor as well. We can only conclude, that SCARLET ANGEL didn’t dissappoint us at all on “Enter The Magic”. Lots of riffs and guitar solos, many icely high screams and the perfect dose of heavy metal enter my room with these twelve new songs. The first two songs “I Wanna Love Ya” and “Burn” both capture that little piece of catchiness, which is necessary to reach a bigger audience. While the spirit of AC/DC wanders around in opener “I Wanna Love Ya”, we hear a touch of JAG PANZER in “Burn”, because of the vocal parts by Jackie (who is helped out by drummer Kim on background vocals). “Out Of The Void” is a short spoken intro (great!!), followed by a short close harmony piece called “Harmonic Concordance”. The CD continues with the power ballad “Open Door”, which sounds in the best QUEENSRYCHE tradition. Remember “Take Hold Of The Flame”? Well, think in that direction, and you’ll come close to the sound of “Open Door”. It sure sounds like magic to my ears!! In fact, it’s some kind of a ‘three-in-one’ song and it delivers me goosebumps all over for the first time. “Fear Of Squirrels” is an instrumental piece, in which the band shows their strength to create an exciting instrumental song, including all the ingredients that I liked on their debut album. Especially the innovative drum parts are excellent. Although the title might be a little bit odd, the song is definitely one of the highlights so far. “Chasing The Wind” lies on the other end of the musical universe. This is more or less a country and western gospel and I would rather expect it on an album by THE CARPENTERS for example than SCARLET ANGEL. Don’t get me wrong. The band is spreading a positive message here and everyone is free to speak out their belief. However, in comparison to another great metal anthem like “The Czar”, it feels like the difference between day and night or black and white. Although a band like HEART has also written many songs like this one, it’s still the odd one out here. “The Czar” (with some excellent lead vocals by Kim!!) is definitely another highlight on the album. This song is what true heavy metal is all about. It’s wild and fascinating and it fits perfectly to all the material on the band’s debut album. It reminded me of JUDAS PRIEST in their “Screaming For Vengeance” days. “Shut Up You’re Stupid” is on next. The band presses the pedal to the metal here, and we can categorise this as speed metal, I think. The guitars cry, and the drums are probably even more flashing than ever. I believe, I’m gonna turn up the sound a little. “The Northmen” has got a spooky intro and again I’m impressed by its powerful sound. Rich Wilcox sings on this one, and he may sing some more in the future, as far as I’m concerned. He is a good, powerful singer, performing the song (which has got many great breaks!) in a perfect way. He has got a leading role in this song and the keyboards are very impressive in this song as well. URIAH HEEP meets old school DEEP PURPLE would be a good description. Next on is “Eyes Of Thieves”, which is a solid metal hymn with again some great instrumental parts and very powerful vocal chords. The song, that I was most looking forward to hearing, is album closer “Axed By The Angel”. And the band didn’t let me down. The sirens start, and Kim performs the lead vocals on this song, which tells the story of SCARLET ANGEL very briefly. A worthy closer of the album. Yes, SCARLET ANGEL did it again and they didn’t let me down on this new CD, which was created over the past two years. They can be proud of what they have achieved here. The band consists of Kim Yates on drums and vocals, Michelle Armiger on guitars and vocals, Jackie ‘Joyce’ Glenn on lead vocals and Rich Wilcox on bass, vocals and keyboards. Despite “Chasing The Wind”, which we will call the obligatory ballad for now, I will reward this album with the full score, ladies and gentlemen. SCARLET ANGEL still carries the torch of true heavy metal! I suggest to “Enter The Magic” as well, because you’ll be in for a very pleasant surprise. SCARLET ANGEL are real winners and you can forget about the rest! Go to: or for more information about these heavy metal believers from Baltimore. [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SIRENS OF TITAN-Sirens Of Titan (independent)
Let me introduce you to SIRENS OF TITAN, a four piece heavy metal band from Minneapolis. The band consists of Conan Malady on drums, Sam Rhode on guitar, Matthew Duffin on bass and metal maiden Felicia Mitchell on vocals. When listening to the voice of Felicia, the first band that comes to mind is ICRI’S WITCH (with leadsinger Stacey Adler), which later on became ELIS. Maybe Cat of BLACK WIDOW USA is a good reference as well. But the music of SIRENS OF TITAN is a lot different than the latter. The spirit of BLACK SABBATH is definitely recognisable in a song, called “Dancing Methuselah”, which follows after the short instrumental opener “Sirensong PPI”. “Lothario” is based on the same heavy, massive, thundering riffs, what BLACK SABBATH made famous. However, with the voice of Felicia there, it gets a special boost. The band sounds eccentric at times and they dare to flirt with experiments, like CATHEDRAL does at times too. They just let their mind go free and freak along the paved paths of doom metal into the wilderness, where not too many bands dare to go. It’s only just for a few moments maybe, at the end of this song, but it sounds exciting enough to me. “Dogsbody Blues” makes a reconnaissance in the mystical world between doom and blues. Another world where almost nobody dares to go, except for these youngsters, who don’t seem to be afraid of any sidestep at all. The band already shared the stage with bands like IMPALER, DORO, VISIONS OF ATLANTIS, our very own EPICA and VAINGLORY, to name but a few. So they have already build up quite some experience on stage as well. In the meantime, I’m listening to “43”, which is a stoner rock type of song with a rather weird ending. “Thetan Audit” is also in the stoner rock tradition. Think of a powerful approach by QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE here . While “Canvas” is some kind of a lighter version of doom metal, including some marvellous axework at the end of the song. In “Hang Me Twice”, I feel the spirit of CATHEDRAL wandering by. It’s a more uptempo song with a heavy undertone, containing the beautiful screams of Felicia. “Breathe” is a wild rocket ride with another exciting instrumental piece in the middle. “Saltonaut” is a rather lengthy song, where the band pulls out all the stops one more time. An ominous, slow instrumental part start to set the pace here. It’s where the band can show their skills. The CD closes with another uptempo song, called “Washed Away”. SIRENS OF TITAN proves to be a band, that doesn’t ride the paved paths in music, instead they like to create a style of their own. Many exciting sidesteps were taken during the eleven songs on this album, which really gave me a good feeling for fifty-five mintues. For more information, just check out the band’s website at and also keep an eye out for an interview with this very promising band on our website. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

STARK-Put It To Your Head (independent)
STARK hails from New York City and they play no-nonsense rock and roll. The band consists of Lani Ford on lead vocals and bass, Josette on guitars and Sweet Rob Endermann on drums. In opener “18 Again”, the band already shows off some great action. Think in the direction of THE PRETENDERS and THE RAMONES to get a good description of their sound. Yes, it’s that filthy. In “I Pay (Man In The Moon)”, they take back some speed. “Put It To Your Head” is already the second album by this band, which proves that they are very much capable of writing catchy and ‘easy-on-the-ear’ rock songs. No matter, if it’s a song with a punk rock attitude, like the great opener, or one with a more melodic edge. The album contains ten new tracks and runs for about thirty-five minutes. In “Oh No”, I definitely hear the influence of THE PRETENDERS again, which they can take as a big compliment. The mix of pop, rock, punk, country and soul will easily appeal to many music fans out there. The melody is there, the vibe is good, and some of the songs may even sound right on national radio. A song like “Nothing’s Wrong” may not be suitable for radio airplay maybe, but that makes it even more interesting for dirty rawk and rollers like ourselves. A job well done on this one! “Co-Dependent” and “This Day” are uptempo again, and also “R-D-R”, which stands for “Reliably Disappointing Relationship” gets a nice groove by Lani. While “Disturbed” brings back the punk attitude of the band. I decided to turn up the volume a bit louder on this one, just to let some sweat out. The name of BLONDIE comes to mind hearing this song. “Put It To Your Head” closes with an acoustic song, called “Butterfly”, where the name of HOLE popped up in my mind. STARK is a name to remember, if you like a fresh mix of different styles, topped with raunchy guitarwork. Sometimes sleazy or punky or at other times modest and melodic, yet always with a good vibe in every song. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

TO-MERA-Delusions (Candlelight)
TO-MERA are musical ‘jack-of-all-trades’ to me. Their new album is called “Delusions” and it opens with a song called “The Lie”. In the first three minutes of this almost eight minutes masterpiece, we hear some metallic riffs, blast beats and a jazzy part. And later on, there is even an instrumental, bombastic classical part to enjoy. Welcome to the diverse world of this talentful English band. TO-MERA consists of Paul Westwood on drums, who replaces former drummer Akos, Tom MacLean (ex-FUTHAR, FORLORN HOPE) on guitar, Mark HarringtonLee Barrett (ex-DEMAGOGUE) on bass who replaces Lee Barrett, Hen om keyboards and Julie Kiss (ex-WITHOUT FACE) on vocals. The influences of this band range from PAIN OF SALVATION to EMPEROR to the classical music by DEBUSSY, the fragile voice of TORI AMOS and bands like FATES WARNING and DREAM THEATER. In “Mirage”, the keyboards sound like DEEP PURPLE for a few seconds. There is so much variation and there are so many musical ideas put into the eight different songs here, that the sound of the band may appeal to a lot of music fans out there. The band switches very easily from busy metal outings to easy listening jazz music in “The Glory Of A New Day” without even thinking about the consequense this progressive adventure may have to the fans that like the more rocking side of TO-MERA. A couple of seconds later, the fans who like the more jazzy, softer parts in the music of TO-MERA, will get a heart attack, when the band starts blasting away in a galloping rhythm again. And yours truly? I love the many influences, and I easily jump from one style to another together with the band. “Inside The Hourglass” is busy and quite heavy again, and in “A Sorrow To Kill” we get a little piece of rest. This song is slightly gothic and Julie’s love for Anneke van Giersbergen is very noticeable here, in my opinion. Later on, after the band recovers from another musical eruption, Julie’s voice sounds more like TORI AMOS again. Because of the many musical ideas, that are put into one song, the length of the songs are far above average. The eight songs together have a total length of about sixty-five minutes, which is an average of eight minutes per song. Which is rather lengthy, but not for the music fan with a feel for progressive music. “Asylum” is another joyride on the fun caroussel by TO-MERA, so don’t miss it. While in “Fallen From Grace”, the band returns to an exciting mix of gothic and progressive rock. The CD closes with “Temptation”, which is another melting pot of different sounds and styles. People, who are tied to one music style only, should better leave this album for what it is. Others with a more adventurous mind will definitely have a wonderful time with “Delusions”. I give this masterpiece the full score for its diversity and the musical talents by these five Britsters. Website: [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

VARIOUS ARTISTS-Beautiful Voices III (CD) (Nuclear Blast)
Okay, what we have here is the third installment of the “Beautiful Voices” series, that is put out by the good folks at Nuclear Blast records. As far as compilations go, these are some of the best and they really do an excellent job in compiling female fronted bands from many different genres in the metal world. The CD begins with "Amaranth" from the newest Annette Olzon version of NIGHTWISH. I am not ashamed to say, that I liked the last NIGHTWISH CD and I think "Amaranth" is a good representation of the songs on it. Next is the excellent AFTER FOREVER with "Discord" from their self titled CD. Things move right along with "Save My Life' by XANDRIA. I am not all too familiar with this band, but I like what I heard here. Those Austrian purveyors of great symphonic metal EDENBRIDGE are next with "Shine". "Lost" by BEAUTIFUL SIN is next and this is just a good hard rockin' band and "Lost" is such a great representation from their excellent "The Unexpected" CD. Metal legend DORO rocks out with the excellent "Thunderspell". BIF NAKED offers something a little different with "Abandonment". This is an excellent song and an eye opening experience for me, since I am not at all familiar with this band. Two great Dutch bands DELAIN and AUTUMN keep things moving right along. IN THIS MOMENT ups the heaviness with "This Moment". The great SINERGY is next with "The Sin Trade", does this band even exist anymore? They haven't been heard from in a number of years and it would be too bad if they decided to call it quits. "The Sin Trade' is a true testament to the greatness of Kimberly Goss and company. The CD also features plenty of great music from SIRENIA, TRISTANIA, THERION, ELIS and VISIONS OF ATLANTIS. "Chasing The Dragon" by EPICA and "Closer" from Italy's LACUNA COIL bring things to a close. This collection is just simply packed with great music. “Beautiful Voices Vol. III” features nineteen songs and seventy minutes worth of female-fronted metal nirvana. This is an essential release for anyone, who loves the metal ladies. This CD features plenty of great music and there is something for everyone here. There are plenty of the old standards but also several bands that I have not had the opportunity to hear before. I am already looking forward to volume IV. [8 points] (Tony Cannella)

VARIOUS ARTISTS-No Remorse (independent)
You can consider this six track CD as some kind of soundtrack to the DVD. So you’d better check out the DVD section as well for more information about this package. The No Remorse music and film society released another CD/DVD set, containig young Swedish talents from their school. Six bands were selected for this second edition and filmed by the No Remorse film crew for the DVD, while heir music is presented on this CD. Six young, Swedish all-girl bands are able to profile themselves to a bigger audience. And this happens every year. Wow, what a great initiative! Anyway, let’s see if the new ICE AGE can be found here. Six songs, six bands and twenty minutes of rock music are on this CD. The only negative thing here might be, that the songs are exactly the same as the songs on the DVD. Things would have been a lot more exciting, when they would have chosen different songs on the CD and the DVD. But hey, why am I even bothering such a minor detail. Let’s introduce these six Swedish all-female rock machines to you. We’ll start with VISION, who are “Rocking Tonight”. Loud guitars, sleazy glam rock sounds from my speakers. A rather catchy, but short song proves, that these ladies want to rock and they are ready! VISION consists of Queen B on vocals, Mary on guitar, Lolita on bass, Chrikk on guitar and Lea on drums. A band with potential, if you’re into bands like POISON, HANOI ROCKS and MÖTLEY CRUE. Check out for more information about this band. Next is BAD SURPRISE with a song, called “Awoken”. They also play a short song, which is less catchy than the VISION contribution in a way. Older bands like THE KINKS or JEFFERSON AIRPLANE came to mind, when listening to this song. The band consists of Julia on vocals, Hennie on guitars, Eve on bass and Lille on drums. Not a BAD SURPRISE at all. For more information, you can go to: SCANDALUX is my absolute winner on this album. Their song is called “Think Twice” and they sound like THE CULT, only with Debbie Harry (BLONDIE) on vocals. Think about that combination, it could work out marvellously, for Gods sake. The band sounded wild and heavy. I write ‘sounded’ deliberately, because apparently, SCANDALUX is no longer together. Shit happens. The band consisted of Angie on vocals, Anna on guitars, Vanessa on drums and Cissi on bass. The band has got two new members now and continues their career under the name of INSISTENCE [Website:]. Jennie now plays bass guitar and their new sound is even louder than the one they created with SCANDALUX. Names like JUDAS PRIEST or PHANTOM BLUE come to mind here. INSISTENCE, a name to remember. YOU AND ME BOB are next on the list with “Little Boy”, which sounds quite alternative, like SLEATER KINNEY and L7 for example. The band consists of Ninni on guitars, Anna on guitar, Jenny on bass and Maja on drums. In fact, all songs by this band sound very alternative and less rocking than the other bands on this CD. Still, people who dig the well-known riot grrrl sound, may want to check out this band. For more info, you can go to BITCHSLAP is “Left Out And Ashamed”, so they say in this song Well, they don’t have to be ashamed about their music, which shows some similarity to alternative rocker girl AVRIL LAVIGNE. Meaning that it’s catchy, rocking and maybe even suitable for radio airplay. The CD closes with OBSTINATE, who called their song “Wake Up”. Their grungy sound comes close to a more happy version of HOLE, leaving out the loud voice of Courtney. And there you have it. A very good overview of what Sweden has in store for us. There is a lot of talent coming from the land of ABBA. Mainly because this country does subsidise their talents and educates them, by giving them experience like this at schools. The quality is rather high by all these bands and the initiative alone is a standout accomplishment of No Remorse. Highlight for me was the band SCANDALUX, who are now called INSISTENCE. This six track CD proves, that on all levels in every possible music genre, Swedish all-girl bands are rapidly developping themselves, because of the work by No Remorse. A job well done! Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

VIRGIN BLACK-Requiem – Fortissimo (The End)
VIRGIN BLACK has already proved many time before, that they are capable of making beautiful music. This “Requiem – Fortissimo” is a continuation of their previous releases “Requiem – Pianissimo” and “Requiem – Mezzo Forte”. This final chapter is the heaviest part and contains a lot of heavy grunts and very powerful, yet bombastic riffing. The doomy death groaning still sounds beautiful, but a lot of long lasting fans may find some difficulties in liking the low grunt parts. I must say, that I love the bombastic death march, that they present here. Seven songs shred along with a total length of about forty-five minutes. The female input is cut back to a minimum, but we didn’t want to pass over this CD. The female opera voices are a beautiful addition to the death grunts. Highlights on the album are “God In Dust” and “Lacrimosa (Gather Me)”, and of course the long epos “Darkness”, which contains a lot more of the female elegacy. After “Forever”, the mourning and grief are gone. The requiem reaches its end and the dead are laid to rest. Again I can highly recommend this album to people, who like their music bombastic and ultra slow with a touch of death metal in the growling parts. Those, who like classical-influenced music, will also have a good time with “Requiem – Fortissimo” by VIRGIN BLACK from Australia, who reveal their blackest soul here. Website: [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

VIRUS IV-Dark Sun (Thundering Records)
VIRUS IV consists of François Brisk on drums, Renaut van Oeyen on bass, Samuel Arkan on guitars and Magali Luyten (ex-BEAUTIFUL SIN) on vocals. We have seen Magali perform live during the presentation of AYREON’s “01011001” at the Stairway To Heaven in Utrecht. And she appeared like a fresh new talent, that has a very long and successful future ahead of her. Here, she presents the debut album of her band VIRUS IV. Ten tracks, including a short “Intro” and worthy of thirty-five minutes of groovy, powerful melodic metal. The band sure knows to combine the riffs and grooves of todays metal with the melody of the old school metal bands. The power of the different songs make it easy to stay focussed until the end and I think, that people, who like the more modern approach, will also have a great time with VIRUS IV. I’m glad, that the band dissociates from the enormous wave of gothic metal bands, that are still out there today. They really sound fresh. Sometimes using distorted vocals, weird jazzy drum parts, nu-metal-like riffs and a female voice, that sounds like a clock. One of the songs performed on this album is a cover. And I have mixed feelings about it. It’s a powerful rock interpretation of a song, that shouldn’t be on any metal album whatsoever in my opinion. “Such A Shame” by TALK TALK isn’t the right choice to be on a metal album in the first place. But VIRUS IV did it, and they did it quite well. It was a point of recognition, which might help to get people focussed. Not that it was necessary, because “Dark Sun” will keep your attention from the beginning until the end. And it is also a worthy introduction to the vocal abilities of singer Magali, who really impressed me on this album. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

VRAIN-Rendez Blue (Black Listed Records)
“Rendez Blue” is a very nice title, I must admit. VRAIN is a Japanese all-female heavy metal band with progressive influences. The band consists of Kassy on bass and vocals, Hiro on keyboards and vocals, Miya on drums and synths and Nodoichi on guitars and vocals. And as far as I know “Rendez Blue” is the band’s fourth album, but first full-length album. Their first three mini albums are called “Premonition”, “Missing Piece” and “Emerald”. That’s the most basic information so far. Now, I will tell you about the eleven songs on this fifty-five minute album. Opener “Rise” contains a lot of power, an enormous amount of speed and a good cohesion between keyboards and guitars. Their sound has a progressive feel, but it’s based on powerful metal. “Soaring Refrain” goes in that same direction. I think of a fast version of STRATOVARIUS with touches of YNGWIE MALMSTEEN. With “Moonlight Rendezvous”, the band takes back some speed and they also add a more jazzy atmosphere to their sound. It’s too loud to chill on the jazzy parts, but they’re definitely there. While on “Misty”, you’ll hear a more DREAM THEATER approach in the various speed changes. “Shoooot!” has got a more speed metal approach and a furious thundering drum sound. The contradiction is huge, when you listen to the slow and almost fragile sounding “Sandglass”. “Prisoner” is a ballad-type of song. Well, at least in the beginning. After the first minute, it explodes into a YES-like theme. After that, VRAIN covers “Flight Of The Bumble Bee”, based upon the classical masterpiece of NIKOLAI RIMSKY-KORSAKOV. “Crystal Ball” is definitely STRATOVARIUS meets MALMSTEEN again. It almost sounds like a race against the clock. “Illuminate My Heart” is definitely metal and so is “Mirage”, which is one of the highlights on this album for me. VRAIN is not for the faint-hearted. They sound speedy and of a very high quality. Surely, a name to remember. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

WALDHEIM-Fight Against Me (Santo Grial Records)
WALDHEIM is the German word for ‘home of the forrest’, so their biography tells me. It is also the name of this Spanish meldic death metal band from Bilbao. This is the band’s debut album, which contains ten songs and has a playing time of about fifty minutes. The line up of WALDHEIM consists of Alex on drums, Aratz on bass, M.I. Sword on lead guitar, D. Hole on rhythm guitar, Jessica on keyboards, Mina on vocals and Fitti on vocals. Fitti replaced the band’s original singer Seyerot in December 2006. The music of WALDHEIM has some very exciting musical ideas. The speed is high and the female versus male vocal parts sound fresh as well in my opinion. The guitarsolos are mindblowing and this sounds truly amazing! Just imagine, that we’re only listening to the debut album of this band here. In most of the songs, the male vocals are very upfront and dominating the song, so to speak. In “Illuminati” however, we hear the voice of Mina more upfront. “Memories Of Fate” is a great instrumental song, which shows a more progressive side of WALDHEIM. The CD closes with some very sphereful thundering sounds, but they can hardly be seen as a song. I must admit, that I really like the sound of WALDHEIM. For more information, check out the band’s website at: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

WALLS OF JERICHO-Redemption (Trustkill Records)
Just to be on the safe side, I put the stereo one notch back, hoping that the neighbours won’t call the police. WALLS OF JERICHO is blistering loud hard core, and the perfect music to tear down a wall or two. Can you imagine how big my surprise was, when I listened to the first chords on this five track “Redemption”? This is the mellow side of WALLS OF JERICHO, because this mini album contains five acoustic tracks. Candace Kucsulain is actually singing instead of screaming her lungs out. And I must admit, that she has a lovely voice. But will she reach the hardcore fans with this new sound? I am really afraid of what the future will bring WALLS OF JERICHO! Please don’t get me wrong. I am not saying, that this twenty minute disc doesn’t contain any tasteful music. Maybe it’s even their best release yet, based on their musical abilities. It contains PINK FLOYD-like parts in “My Last Stand”, but it’s so far away from their original sound. They might loose a lot of fans, because of this. On the other hand, this music is stripped down to the bone and you can’t get anything more pure and honest than this. It may also bring them a handful of new fans, who will get a serious heart attack, when they check out their other material. “No Saving Me” though contains screams and a heavy rhythm. But a lot of hardcore fans won’t be impressed with their version of the ANIMALS classic “House Of The Rising Sun”, I think. The album closes with a duet of Candace with Cory Taylor (STONE SOUR / SLIPKNOT), called “Addicted”. This song just screams to be played on national radio. What to do with an album like this? The true metal believer in me says to rate it with three points, while the music fan in me says, that it should get at least eight points for the fact, that they dared to show their musical abilities in a very different perspective. Three plus eight equals eleven, divided by two is five point five. We round it off to six points. Wow, you have to be a hell of a mathematician to review CDs like this. Hope you get my point. Website: http://www/ [6 points] (Toine van Poorten)

WITCHES- 7 (independent)
What a nice surprise to hear this new CD by French thrash metallers WITCHES. What awaits you is thrash metal in its purest form, spiced up with some strange, unexpected and innovative speed and mood changes, interruptions and turns. While the French lyrics really add something different to the sound of WITCHES. Fast, crying guitarsolos, a hunting drum rhythm and wild, screaming vocal parts are the main ingredients of their sound, which is so well done that it keeps you fascinated, everytime you listen to it. And who is responsible for all this creativity? Well, we have Bernard Querneu on guitar, Franck Gasnieu on drums, Mag Fourcade on bass and Sibylle Colin-Tocquaine on vocals and guitar. In the meantime, we have arrived at the fourth song on “7”, called “Who Was?” which is a short piece of rest after the musical hurricane, that blew over with “Difficile De Croie”, “7” and “SMF”. No worries though, because in “All Is In Proportion”, they set out in fourth gear again. The guitar solo in this song sounds magnificent! Just put all your anger in a three minute song and let it all out. It’s a free therapy, only this time on CD. “When Everyone Is Asleep….” starts off a bit modest, but pretty soon the speed goes up and Sibylle screams her way out again towards the end of yet another fantastic song. “Dead Whereas Innocent” opens as a ska tune, mixed with some brutal parts as well. The name of BLITZ BABIES comes to mind for a second. Halfway the song, I see long hair waving to the rhythm of the music in my imagination. Yet, another cool mix of different music styles you wouldn’t expect, that turn out perfectly. The guitar solo sounds marvellous too, by the way. The CD closes with “Remember”. WITCHES delivered an outstanding new album, that they can be damn proud of! Recently, they played with HOLY MOSES, which seems like a good match as their music shows some similarity to Sabina Classen’s outfit. But I must say, that WITCHES sounds much more innovative and exciting. Their music is less brutal and a lot more original. Connoisseurs will know, what I mean. In general, “7” is an essential buy for all you thrash metaheads out there!! Website: [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

WOLFEBLITZER-Lonely World (independent)
I will always continue to support the underground, because it’s where it all happens. The best music doesn’t necessarily come from the huge names in the scene. And we are there to inform you about these rough diamonds. We’ve already introduced you to WOLFEBLITZER from Texas. Well, this band has released a new album, called “Lonely World”. It contains ten brand new songs, including one cover and it captures forty-five minutes of some of the purest metal mayhem. The CD opens with a mindboggling guitar solo in “Eyesore So High”, completed with the high pinching vocals of Val Seals. That’s the way I wanna hear it and this is only just the beginning. Sirens wail, when “Hells Present” gets delivered, and some icely high screams are on next. Yes, this is indeed the ultimate start for another metal anthem. My flesh starts to creep, which is a very good sign, my friends. The music sounds like a good mix of JUDAS PRIEST, old style PRIMAL FEAR and IGNITOR. The cover song is called “Diamonds And Rust”, which is originally a JOAN BAEZ song, but most of us only know the PRIEST version. WOLFEBLITZER’s version comes very close to the way the PRIEST performs it nowadays, which is a lot slower than on “Unleashed In The East”. If you like that version more, just wait until the band presses the pedal to the metal, because that version is captured here as well. Two versions in one, and I must admit that this sounds like the ultimate version to me. What power, what a perfect way to pay tribute to the worlds greatest heavy metal band. And the fun ain’t over yet. “Forgetta ‘Bout It” is loaded with more PRIEST riffs and PRIMAL FEAR-like chorusses. “Rollin’” contains a lot of power and the guitars cry out loud. “Hungry For Love” opens with another perfect riff. The song invites you to sing along to the ‘Hungry For Love’ part. And still not a weak spot in sight. WOLFEBLITZER proves that they are true believers of heavy metal on this album and they really lived up to my expectations. Together with BLACK WIDOW USA and IGNITOR, they are at the top of true heavy metal for me. Right now, the band consists of Val Seals on vocals, Lee Seals on guitar, Ben Matthews on guitars, Chris Shields on guitar, Dean ‘Dino’ Gibson on drums and Michael Millsap on bass. Yes, you’ve got that right, there are three guitar players in this band. “A Matter Of Importance” opens in a balladesque kind of way and then slowly develops itself into a good power ballad with the icely high Halford screams of Val. “Murky Water” captures a nice long instrumental part, in which the guitar players can do their thing. No, they ain’t tired yet, they just go on and on. “The Vermin” is another strong metal tune, ready to bang your head upon. The CD closes after forty-five minutes with title track “Lonely World”. For the last time (well, I hope not), the band astonishes me with their strength and power and will to play true heavy metal to the bone. Turn back the clock to 1983 and remember the sound of metal in these days. It’s 2008 now, and WOLFEBLITZER proves, that you can still capture the metal sound of twenty-five years ago without sounding old-fashioned. They simply bring back all cool memories of those days on an album, that breathes true metal from the beginning until the very last note fades away. Hail to the kings and queen from Houston, who made this great album possible. I carve the full score on my computer with my metal sword for these people. Metal ain’t dead. Maybe it has gone asleep for the eyes of the world, but it was brought back to life by Val Seals and her guys. WOLFEBLITZER rules!!!! Website: [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

WYKKED WYTCH-Memories Of A Dying Whore (Perish Music)
What an excellent album title and an even more appropriate CD cover! Beware, because the new WYKKED WYTCH CD has seen the light of day. Eleven tracks covering fifty-five minutes of pure metal violence is what you’re gonna get on “Memories Of A Dying Whore”. The CD starts with the title track, in which Ipek sounds more brutal than ever before! Think of CRADLE OF FILTH alike screams and speed here. Being on the road all the time made Ipek’s voice stronger and also the band sounds tighter than ever. The spoken intro to “Desperation” is very well chosen and it’s a great introduction to the next violent attack. I also hear some brutal, dark growls here, which will scare the shit out of you. The demon bells in the beginning of “Bloodstained Tears” sound dark and spooky, resulting to the first piece of rest here. Time for me to introduce the band to you, before they’ll rip you apart again. We have (Demoness) Ipek on growls, noise, vocals and icy screams, Gio on guitar, Kenny on bass, Chris on drums and Salvatore on keys. In the meantime, the song is gradually building up, going from slow, dark and spooky to a monstrous race against time with a tiny piece of rest right down the middle. A part, where Ipek can speak out her devlish curse. Now we have “Awakened”, it’s time for another lesson in violence with “Suffering Through The Years”. While “Wishing Sickness” has indeed some kind of a sick undertone. The song wants to be brutal, but somehow it is kept within the borders of admissability. The biggest surprise on the album comes next. It’s a cover of the EURYTHMICS song “Sweet Dreams”. First of all, I ask myself, how a band like WYKKED WYTCH can even come up with the idea of covering a song like that? But thanks to Satan, they turned this piece of commercial shit into one the filthiest versions of “Sweet Dreams”, that you’ve ever heard in your life. Great brutal riffs demonize the song, instead of the romantic crappy voice of Annie Lennox and her creepy ‘partner’ Dave Stewart. That will teach them to write songs like that! This is the wytching version of it and I like it. “Plagued By Delusions” is a short and threatening sounding instrumental, which also holds a litle bit of sadness, because of the string arrangements at the end. “Shrouded In Ash” is my personal fave. The sick voice of Ipek, the great guitar solo of Gio, the whole atmosphere, amazing! In short, it’s simply the best song on the album. Proving, that WYKKED WYTCH is still capable of writing great death metal songs. This song alone should encourage you to buy this new album. “Beneath Our Skin” is another great example of a very cool brutal death metal with a melodic edge. Yes, you’ve heard that right: besides all the brutality, there is also space for a bit of melody in their songs. Ipek makes Glenn Benton sound like a sheep in wolves clothing. If ARCH ENEMY or HOLY MOSES can’t give you enough female brutalness, there is always WYKKED WYTCH to fill this gap. “Memories Of A Dying Whore” is the fourth album by this already legendary female fronted death metal band. No living (and sane) soul can comprehend the sickness and violence on this album. You’ll just have to undergo it and take this cross like a man. Every now and then you’ll have to carry the cruelest horrors in life. “Memories Of A Dying Whore” is only just the beginning for WYKKED WYTCH. You’d better start counting your blessings after surviving this one. Website: or [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

YOUNG HEART ATTACK-Rock And Awe (Not On Your Radio)
YOUNG HEART ATTACK went shopping and came back with a brand new rhythm section. And with this new line up, the band recorded their new album “Rock And Awe” Opener is the title track, which rocks like they did on their monster album “Mouthfull Of Love”. The band now consists of Chris Hodge on vocals and guitar, Jennifer Stephens on vocals and percussion, Paul Etheredge on bass and vocals, Chris ‘Frenchie’ Smith on guitar and Jayson Altman on drums. The power remains the same, but the band has cut away the rawer edges here and there. This is not the case on “Hell On Earth”, but it definitely is on “Munki”. It’s still powerful, but with both eyes winking to a more catchy (maybe even commercial) approach. Perhaps the band is aiming for radio airplay here. “Runaway” has perfectly captured the AC/DC vibe. Just listen to the guitar solo in this song. “Jump Into The Picture” is a bit slower, but it also has got a good guitar part. Yes, the band keeps on rocking in “I Love This Town” and in “Vacant Love”, they even throw in a dirty guitar solo. Although the rawness is gone here and there. You can say, that their music has matured very much over the past few years. Their songs are still three minute power rockers, but a song like “Jackboat Goans” for example also contains some AVRIL LAVIGNE influences, next to the crying guitars. And I hear some JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS in the vocal parts as well. While “Welcome To My World” and “Drums Of Revolution” (which has got a great guitar solo!) both sound very smoothy. “Good Love” closes this album with the sound of the seventies, which gave me a good feeling. The rawness might be gone, but what’s left is still a good album, so please don’t get me wrong. YOUNG HEART ATTACK has matured a lot on “Rock And Awe”and their next album will certainly put them amongst the stayers in this genre. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ANOUK-I Don’t Wanna Hurt (CDsingle)(EMI)
A lot has happened around ANOUK these past few months. A divorce, the exposure of some unreleased track on the radio (Giel Beelen), the photo incident at one of her shows, when ANOUK wanted to see all the pictures before they were published. And a lot more. I stick to the music on this three track, ten minute single, if you don’t mind. “I Don’t Wanna Hurt” is the ballad on “Who’s Your Momma” and if I am right, it was already tipped by yours truly to becoming her second single. Next on, we get “Good God” in ‘The Anonymous Mix’. Dance fans may like this version more than the original one, but I stick to the original if you don’t mind. “I Don’t Wanna Hurt” closes the single as an instrumental version. A nice release, which doesn’t add that much to your already existing ANOUK collection in a way, but hey, now you know that it’s there. Website:// [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ANOUK-Modern World (CDsingle)(EMI)
ILSE DE LANGE did it and now ANOUK has released her new single “Modern World” as a three single package. Three different versions around one theme, moulding into a beautiful package, especially interesting because of the bonus stuff on the singles. Let’s start with disc one, which contains the normal version of the single, including the instrumental version of “Modern World”. A nice item for people, who are into karaoke singing. The last track, called “Might As Well” was recorded live at the radio show of Giel Beelen. Altogether, these songs are worthy of over ten minutes of music. The bonus tracks make it worthy buying these singles. A good market strategy from EMI, but in this case, you really get value for your money. The second single gives you the same amount of music. And next to the regular single, you can also have a listen to “Good God”, recorded at the radio show of Edwin Evers. Another good idea, because now she pleases both radio stations at the same time. And they will definitely ask her back, when the new single comes out. Last track on this second single is the original demo version of “I Don’t Wanna Hurt”, which is slightly different than the original track. The last CD contains only two songs, but you’ll get a bonus video clip, so how cool is that. All songs are called “Modern World” and the second audio version was recorded live at the well-known Gelredome show. These live recordings will be released on a new double live CD/DVD package. You can read a full review of this package here soon. This is some kind of sneak preview on things to come. Hear the outrageous audience scream, that is still very devoted to ANOUK. Despite all the things happening in her private life, she is still the most successful artist in our country, I think. And looking at this release and judging by the music that I hear, this success can last a long time to come! On the other hand, you’ll never know with ANOUK. She easily changes bandmembers like clothes and she has very capricious nature. Her present band, by the way, consists of Oscar Krall on drums, Menru Renjaan on guitar, Angelo de Rijke on guitar, Boaz Kroon on bass and Thijs Boontjes on hammond organ. But this line up could be different tomorrow, therefore you’ll have to check out the ladies website at The last rumour I heard, by the way, is that she wants to have her golden teeth back. And we were glad, she got rid of them in the first place! Obviously, ANOUK doesn’t have a dull moment in her life, and she’s always open for a nice surprise. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

AYREON VS. AVANTASIA-Elected (CDsingle)(Inside Out)
What do I read now in “The Universal Ayreonaut”? AYREON wants to be “Elected”. His biggest opponent is Tobias Sammet of AVANTASIA and EDGUY. Together they recorded this cover of the ALICE COOPER classic. AYREON is another good example of a successful band from Holland. AYREON is well-known worldwide though and he also knows to treat his fans the right way. The packages, he releases, are always very well taken care of and contain lots of bonus material. The same goes for this four track, thirteen minute single. Next to the surprising ALICE COOPER classic, you will be able enjoy the beautiful voice of Marjan Welman (the new AUTUMN singer!) on the acoustic ‘one take’ version of “E = MC²”. I always thought, that this song would be very suitable as a single. Well, I wasn’t completely right about it, but hey, it’s here now. The third song; “Ride The Comet” (taken from the current album “01011001”) contains many different singers: you’ll hear the female voices of Magali Luyten (VIRUS IV) and Floor Jansen (AFTER FOREVER), next to male voices of Jorn Lande (JORN), Tom Englund (EVERGREY), Jonas Renske (KATATONIA) and Bob Catley (MAGNUM). Last song is called “Day Six: Childhood”, taken from “The Human Equation” album. Then, it contained vocals by Devon Graves (DEAD SOUL TRIBE), James LaBrie DREAM THEATER) and Mikael Akerfeldt (OPETH) . After some re-arranging, this ‘new’ version was recorded with the wonderful voice of Marjan Welman, backed up on the piano by Joost van den Broek (AFTER FOREVER) and Arjen himself on bass guitar. Magali Luyten and Marjan Welman are definitely names to remember for the future. We’ve seen them both perform at the album presentation of AYREON in Utrecht and we were quite astonished of their strength and musical skills. This CD single only proves their great talent once again. Oh, and by the way: our vote goes to AYREON of course. We want him to be the number one in this election. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DORO-Anthems For The Queen: In Honour Of Regina Halmich (EP)(Inside Out)
From one Queen to another. The metal Queen Doro Pesch pays tribute to the Queen of the ring - and her good friend - German female Boxing champion Regina Halmich. The CD is appropriately titled, "Anthems For The Queen: In Honour Of Regina Halmich". The EP features six songs and twenty minutes worth of great music that DORO has become world renowned for over the years. The brand spankin' new track "The Queen" gets things started and this the kind of anthemic song that DORO has become known for over the years. It certainly sets a good pace for what is to follow. Next up is a re-working of the song "She's Like Thunder". This is the original fight him for Regina. It's only about two minutes long, but it gets the job done. "We're Like Thunder" is next and it is a different take on the previous song and it also features Regina Halmich on vocals on the chorus. A re-recorded version of the 1987 classic "All We Are" is next. It goes without saying that this is DORO's signature song and the updated version really captures the live feel of this great track. In keeping with fight/anthem theme, the title track to her 2002 album "Fight" is next. This is a very good/underrated song, which I'm sure anyone who has heard the song can attest. The CD comes full circle as the final track is the acoustic re-mix of the first song "The Queen". It ends things on a quiet, more reflective note. Twenty-five years into a stellar career DORO continues to amaze. This not a regular album per se, just a satisfying bridge to her next studio opus, which should be out later this year or early next. For die hard DORO fans out there, this is an essential release to complete the collection. [7 points] (Tony Cannella)

[Updated: Aug. 04, 2008]