CD REVIEWS


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


Winter 2007-2008:

AGUA DE ANNIQUE-Air (The End)
After more than ten years of fronting THE GATHERING, singer Anneke van Giersbergen decided to leave the seminal Dutch outfit. Now she's back with her new project AGUA DE ANNIQUE. "Beautiful One" gives things a good head start and is followed by the equally addictive "Witnesses". Next up is one of the highlights for me "Yalin". "Day After Yesterday" is next and was a good choice for first single. Anneke's vocals - as always - are excellent. The music is both ethereal and trippy with some good bursts of heaviness. The band is completed by Joris Dirks, Rob Snijders and Jacques de Haard. Other highlights include "My Girl" "Take Care Of Me", "You Are Nice!" and the peacefull acoustic ballad "Asleep" brings the album to a quiet, satisfying conclusion. It was sad to see Anneke leave THE GATHERING, but with AGUA DE ANNIQUE she has released a quality debut. [7 points] (Tony Cannella)

ANIMAL ALPHA-Pheromones (Racing Junior/Rock Inc.)
Is this vaudeville or classical music or just suitable to play at fun-fairs? This new musical sensation from Norway has no boundaries and their looks and sound is pretty hilarious and excentric. The musical styles the band presents on this CD contains links to almost no other band and a zillion other bands. You could compare them to SMASHING PUMPKINS, BABES IN TOYLAND, HOLE, MY RUIN or THE RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS one minute, but the next minute they sound so different that this comparison is too silly for words. They are a very unique band, creating music that is dancable and rough at the same time. Coming from thin air, they scream for attention like they were hiding away for many years, to come out when the time is right exposing themselves to a bigger audience. And now they’re hot and the band has played at many festivals already without having released their first album. Their debut album created quite a buzz, which is even bigger than a rocket launching, but it has the same effect. ANIMAL ALPHA consists of Christer André Cederberg on guitars and vocals, Thomas Emil Jacobsen on drums and percussion, Christian Wibe on guitars and vocals, Lars Imre Bidtnes on bass and vocals and frontlady Agnete Maria Kjølsrud on vocals. The ten songs on this album have a playing time of a bit over forty minutes, which is enough to get a good impression of their musical skills. The wild “Bend Over” shows some similarity with the KELIS song “I Hate You So Much Right Now” and captures the same aggressivity. However in “Remember The Day”, Agnete sounds like a very fragile, sad lady and the aggressivenes has been replaced by sadness and melacholic sounds. ANIMAL ALPHA has created a world of their own and translated it into ten songs, that might be something for you. If you’re searching for a variety in styles and obscure looks, than look no further, because ANIMAL ALPHA is definitely your thing! Website: http://www.animalalpha.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ANOUK-Who’s Your Momma? (EMI)
Many people have been waiting for this new CD release. And when the first single came out, I was struck by lightning again. The song “Good God” really took me by surprise and in no time, it became another huge hit single for this rock goddess from The Hague. The album contains eleven tracks and has a running time of about forty minutes. “If I Go” is a great up tempo opener. And “Might As Well” would be a very good choice for a second single taken from this album. It has got that catchy ANOUK feel all the way! However, I think that the second single will be the obligatory ballad, although I could be wrong this time… Just imagine: I’m writing a review about the new ANOUK CD. The rain is pouring down my window. Not just a few drops – no, it’s coming down in buckets. And I’m listening to a song called “Make It Rain”. Was it Nostradamus, who predicted this or the fact that it’s always raining in Holland? Anyway, this song is much more enjoyable than the weather. I hear a certain bluesy soul feeling in the song “Modern World”. It has got a reggae like rhythm and a chorus, that will remind you of a song called “Hail Hail Rock And Roll”, but instead she sings “Hail Hail Modern World”. “I Don’t Wanna Hurt” is on next. A-ha, that’s the ballad I was writing about earlier. Ten quid on this one, it will become her new single. Okay, than the single “Good God”. I realise, there are some trumpets in the song, but it’s so catchy and so much ANOUK, that it’s the perfect choice to make this the first introduction to the new album by the blonde rock diva. Two minutes is more than enough to make it a top seller and “Good God” is the perfect example to confirm this statement. “The Difference” is a song, in which the lyrics are more important than the song itself. While in “Whatever You Say”, ANOUK is singing with a rather high voice, creating a very soulful atmosphere, especially because of the male chorusses in this song. In a way, she sounds a bit like JOSS STONE here. It’s not really a suitable song for a lady with a more rebellious rock attitude, I think, but whatever I say won’t make a difference. Whenever I see the title “Ball And Chain”, my thoughts immediately go out to the JANIS JOPLIN classic, but it’s not. This song sounds much different of course, however it would be a nice cover to try out sometime. Instead, it’s a rather emotional song. No ballad or whatsoever, but a song with an emotional undertone. “Daze” and “If You Were Mine” (a fiver on this one to becoming the next ballad single release) close the CD. ANOUK was helped out by a band consisting of totally different people than before. We have Blair Sinta on drums, Sean Hurley on bass, David Levita on guitars, Zac Rae on keyboards and Glen Ballard on keyboards. A different approach, which resulted in a different sound, but still very much recognisable. This is definitely not the best ANOUK album, but I think the fans will easily keep it in their hearts, because it sounds like ANOUK should sound. No big surprises, but good quality rock with sidesteps to soul, blues and a ballad or two. It’s a shame, that ANOUK’s adventure in the USA didn’t turn out to be what she had expected. Maybe they’re just not ready for this lady, who feels she’s slowly growing too big for Holland. She has already accomplished everything possible here. She can add another album to her impressive CD disocgraphy so far. “Who’s Your Momma” contains an ‘open disc’ feature again, meaning that when you put this CD in your PC, you will find a lot of nice bonus features. Which might be a good thing, because the forty minutes running time is rather poor for a (strong) new album. A fact, that even ANOUK has to admit. Visit her official website http://www.anouk.com for all the latest news on this Dutch rock diva. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ARCH ENEMY-Rise Of The Tyrant (Century Media)
Sirens, a warning alert, that the new ARCH ENEMY is there! This album celerates the comeback of Christopher Amott on guitars. “Blood On Your Hands” is already a great opener! Showing us, that the band is heading into a more melodic direction. No, Angela is not using her sorprano voice here, don’t be afraid. But they have put more melody into all the brutality. Not always, but here and there. For example, the opening riffs of “The Last Enemy” are as sharp as a dagger, monstrous and ultrafast. It’s no secret, that we are dealing with an album here, where the guitars ask for a major part in the sound. Many double lead solos can be expected, which fit perfectly to the powerful songs. In “I Will Live Again”, the speed is turned back a little, and again some melodic parts can be found in the song. The total opposite happens in “In This Shallow Grave” though, which pounds like a hammer on an anvil again. Title track “Rise Of The Tyrant” starts with an excerpt from the movie “Caligula” from 1979. After “The Day You Died”, we get a short instrumental piece, which is called “Intermezzo Liberté”. It’s some kind of blues song. Again, it reveals the more melodic direction, that the band is taking on this album. Long term ARCH ENEMY fans don’t have to be afraid, that the brutal sound of the band will disappear. But when you listen to a song like “The Great Darkness”, you must admit that this could very well be a song of a band like AFTER FOREVER, including the bombastic choirs in the beginning. The CD closes with a great uptempo smasher, called “Vultures”. The limited edition of this album contains a three inch mini DVD with sphereful live footage of the band’s tour through South America. A nice collectors item for all the fans. While I write this review, ARCH ENEMY is playing Holland on their Black Crusade Tour together with MACHINE HEAD, TRIVIUM, DRAGON FORCE and SHADOWS FALL. Better hide your children, because the tyrant has risen again! [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ROBIN BECK-Livin’ On A Dream (Frontier Records)
“Beck With A Vengeance” could be a good title for this new ROBIN BECK album, although “Living On A Dream” isn’t bad either, I think. The new ROBIN BECK CD is a shot through the heart for the fans of melodic rock. Her voice has got the same impact on me as the voice of Ann Wilson of HEART, which she can see as a big compliment. Firm rock songs are mixed with sensitive, beautiful ballads like “Always”, which is one of the highlights on this CD for me. Robin’s band consists of Jimi Bell (HOUSE OF LORDS) on guitar, William Zampa (HOUSE OF LORDS) on drums and husband James Christian (HOUSE OF LORDS) on bass and keyboards. No wonder, this album sounds slighty more heavy than “Do You Miss Me”. The thirteen songs, that have a total running time of about fifty minutes, won’t only remember you of HEART, but also of bands like FOREIGNER, BON JOVI and PAT BENATAR. Oh, and what the hell, HOUSE OF LORDS fans won’t be disappointed too, when they hear “Livin’ On A Dream”, I think. In “Magic”, they give it all they’ve got. The listener gets a piece of rest in another beautiful ballad, called “I Can’t Walk The Line”. “Till The Last Teardrop Falls” is a duet between Robin and James. “Love Lies” closes the album. I really hope, that this very radio friendly album will contain a good selling hit single for this hard working lady, because the music of Robin is really easy on the ears and it would be a well-earned reward for the high quality rock presented on this new album. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BENEDICTUM--Seasons Of Tragedy (Locomotive Records/Rock Inc.)
Can BENEDICTUM hold on to the high standard, that they set after releasing their debut album “Uncreation”? My answer can be very short. Yes, they can and they actually put the standard a bit higher than it was before. “Seasons Of Tragedy” may be even a little better than their debut album. “Dawn Of Seasons” is the short instrumental opener, before the brutal “Shell Shock” is launched from your speakers. Veronica Freeman sounds more brutal than she already did on “Uncreation”. What a powerful voice, this lady has got! “Burn It Out” contains some marvellous twin guitarwork, which reminded me of the good old days of JUDAS PRIEST. People responsible for this metal guitar battle are Pete Wells and GRAVE DIGGER stringpuller Manni Schmidt. This feeling comes back, when listening to a great piece of aggression, called “Beast In The Field”. A great song with an absolute ‘over the top’ chaotic ending. Inbetween these aggressive outings, we also hear a more doomy side of this band in “Within The Solace”. “Bare Bones” is a rocker with George Lynch (DOKKEN, LYNCH MOB) guesting on lead guitar. As far as covers are concerned, BENEDICTUM pays tribute here to ACCEPT with “Balls To The Wall”. On this song, the band is guested again by George Lynch (DOKKEN, LYNCH MOB) on guitar and Jeff Pilson (DOKKEN) on bass. Then, it’s time to shake your heads again on this classic metal anthem. “Steel Rain” (which is a great song title!) is on next and it shows the brilliancy of this band. The emotional lyrics are in such a big contrast with the aggressiveness and brutality in some of the other tracks, that it’s almost impossible to believe you’re listening to the same band. It contains a certain SAVATAGE feel, because of the song structure and the vocals. The CD closes with “Seasons Of Tragedy”, which shows the more progressive side of this San Diego based band. Well, at least it does in the intro of this song. Later on, some more progressive aspects are added to the song, turning it into one of the highlights for me. I even hear some DREAM THEATER like parts on this twelve minutes CD closer, while the remainder of the song is pure metal of course. The digipack version of the CD is a real must for RAINBOW fans, because the band cranks out a majestic version of “Catch The Rainbow”, with a guest role for Craig Goldy (DIO, GIUFFRIA, CRAIG GOLDY’S RITUAL) on this bonus track. “Seasons Of Tragedy” plays for a full hour. A full hour, in which BENEDICTUM proves that heavy metal is still very much alive and the band is here to stay. And not like many well-talented bands quit after releasing a great debut album. Check out the bands website at http://www.benedictum.net and raise your swords for Veronica Freeman and BENEDICTUM. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DARK:30-My Obsession (independent)
When you take a look at the front cover of the album “My Obsession”, you would expect a dark and depressing gothic like sound. I didn’t know, that there was so much power in the barefoot and depressed lady in the straight jacket. The band DARK:30 is riffing loud and will remember you of bands like MEGADETH or HOLE. This ten tracker runs for almost thirty-five minutes. Opener and title track “My Obsession” already made me poised on the edge of my seat. “Trust Me” is another great track, in which the interaction between female vocalist Bridgett Wells and her husband Kelly Wells sounds remarkably well. “Perfect World” is another good song with another leading role for Kelly. This time, it’s his guitar solo, that makes me jump off my seat. The band constantly knows to surprise me. They sound very energetic in “Bad Day”, where Bridgett’s maniacal screams will raise your hair to the ceiling. Besides Bridgett and Kelly, the band consists of Derek Smith on drums and Jason Harbour on bass. In “Love Hate Love” the band sharpens their knifes once again and let out all their brutality and aggression. Mind your neighbours, when listening to this one at full speed! “Still Awake” closes this remarkable album by this band from Oklahoma City. In the meantime, DARK:30 is working hard on their next release, because this CD was already released in 2004. However, it was essential enough for a review on our website, even three years after its release. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ILSE DE LANGE-Live (Universal Music)
I was waiting for a good live CD of ILSE DE LANGE for a long time already. Although she is not a rock star or even comes close to heavy metal or related music, she sure is one of the best Dutch female singers right now. And I really love her voice. The fact, that she is also very natural and down to earth, is also a specific quality that I like from her very much. The fourteen songs on “Live” run for about a full hour. There are a lot of hit singles on the CD, all performed live in Amsterdam, in the Heineken Music Hall on April 5th, 2007. And although the influences of country music are still there, she also puts some pop and rock into her music. Her songs are very much radio friendly and very easy to listen to, if you’re open-minded. “The Great Escape” and “I’m Not So Tough” are the highlights here for me, but the DOLLY PARTON cover “I Will Always Love You” is very special, too. Ilse just touches a soft part in my soul with her singing. But wait, there is more in this special package. A very intimate live part, recorded in Ilse’s living room, containing four songs are on the second CD in this package, worthy of an additional fifteen minutes of acoustic music. The DVD contains five live tracks recorded at the Gelredome in Arnhem in October 2006. This nice package gives you a good overview of what ILSE DE LANGE is all about, when playing live. A great live album, by a beautiful, spontaneous, well-talented Dutch singer, who really deserves all the credits and attention, that we give to her. Website: http://www.ilsedelange.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE DONNAS-Bitchin’ (Purple Feather Records)
I still have the hots for THE DONNAS after all these years. Their debut album was so inmense fan(f*cking)tastic and that feeling is still there. Now they’re “Bitchin’” me with yet another great album. The young innocent rock ladies changed into good looking rock vamps. The punk rock RAMONES attitude has slightly changed and now we’re listening to a very matured version, sounding much more like VIXEN, DEF LEPPARD, GIRLSCHOOL or JOAN JETT (just listen to “Don’t Wait Up For Me”, which has that “I Hate Myself For Loving You” attitude). While in “Here For The Party”, we hear another short example of the fascination for Joan’s music in the ‘yeah oh yeah’ part. These are just a few examples, because the CD is THE DONNAS in optima forma of course. Girl power to the max, with lyrics about boys, partying, dancing the night away and other girl talk. Their music however has got that special touch, which makes them loved by an audience, that doesn’t only consist of girls aged twelve to seventeen. Another strong point is, that the band operates in the very same line up for over ten years now, which you can’t say from many bands. Maya Ford is the solid bass player, on which the rhythm is founded. Torry Castellano is ‘her partner in crime’ on the drums. Allison Robertson’s guitarplaying has also matured a lot and she can easily be compared with many of her male competitors. Brett Anderson is still the outstanding frontlady, who is responsible for the vocals. When these ladies keep on writing songs like they do now, they can easily win the hearts of many more fans. The girlie DONNAS transformed into mature DONNAS with “Bitchin’”, and these four rocking ladies will surely rock for many more years to come. Believe me, THE DONNAS are still hot! Website: http://www.thedonnas.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DORMITORY EFFECT-Welcome To The Disease (independent)
Okay, we better introduce this band a bit closer to you first, before we will talk about the musical capabilities of these four ladies. We have Susan Wendelken on vocals, Gee on drums, Urith Myree on drums and Meredith Hermann on guitar. The ladies have experience from playing in previous bands like PERSEVERANCE, ONE STEP BEYOND and SYMPATHETHIC MAGIC. In DORMITORY EFFECT, they have put their strength together and present us their debut album here. The CD captures four studio tracks and two live songs, recorded in the temple of rock music; CBGB’s. I was very positively surprised by the power in opener “Let This Cease”. A piece of pure dynamite, that is ready to explode in your stereo set, if you don’t know what to expect. “Father” is darker and a bit more intense, maybe even emotional sounding, if you compare it to the energetic opener. “Bide My Time” is again in your face and captures the unstoppable force, that hides within these ladies. The vocalist is not the screaming kind, but her voice hits like a hammer on an anvil. A loud and clear sound fills your room, easily deranging the loud music of the band to a soft background sound. I think, her voice is the reason, that makes the angels bleed on the front cover of their CD. What a set of lungs! But better beware of the skills of the guitar player, and the hard-hitting beats and plundering bass lines of the rhythm section as well, because they’re also an essential part in the energetic sound of DORMITORY EFFECT. The live songs are pretty amazing. Especially, “Crawler” shows a yet unknown side of the band, sounding a bit like DREAM THEATER. Maybe it is because they also come from New York. The riffs on the live rendition are much meaner than on the four studio tracks and the musical skills are certainly more up front here. “Do What Now?” shows a completely different band. Does rap belong to metal? No, it doesn’t. And I’m glad, these ladies came to the same conclusion after one minute. “Wealth Of The Disease” is a very good debut CD, capturing six songs with a total playing time of almost thirty minutes. Released in 2005 already, but essential enough to review on our website. Hopefully, we can review more from this very promising band in the near future.Website: http://www.dormitoryeffect.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DREMORA-Martyrs (independent)
DREMORA are new stars on the gothic metal horizon. The band officially hails from California, where their drummer, guitarist originates from. His name is Thomas Kampert, and he is accompanied by Brazilian soprano vocalist Juliana Novo. Their first release captures four lengthy songs, worthy of a bit over twenty minutes of gothic metal. Their sound comes very close to bands like TRISTANIA, EPICA and AFTER FOREVER, although this band is only consisting of two people. Their musical ideas are worked out very well, and if I were them, I would definitely try and put a band together, so they would be able to play live as well. The CD opens with “Alone”, which captures the soprano voice of Juliana and the good musicianship of Thomas. I liked the raw riffs in the beginning of “Martyrs And Madmen” a lot. This song also captures part of a speech of George W. Bush. “Fair Haven” is a very lengthy song, in which the band puts all their strength. The nice combination of the well-known gothic metal sound in addition to the more thrashy riffs is a new fresh way to approach the crowded gothic metal style. And again I must state, that the good ideas of these two musicians would definitely do more justice with a full band backing up Juliana’s voice. “Fair Haven” is definitely the highlight on this CD for me. The CD closer is a beautiful instrumental piece, called “Transcanding God”. It creates a beautiful, dark atmosphere, together with the mourning sound of the violins and the guitar riffs in the background. DREMORA has put some exciting musical ideas on their debut CD here. They even tried to create a sound of their own. There is still a long way to go though, but the first steps are very promising indeed for this band. Website: http://www.dremora.net. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

EDENBRIDGE-The Chronicles Of Eden (Locomotive records)
Austrian symphonic metallers EDENBRIDGE have forged a pretty impressive career for themselves. They have released five albums so far. Maybe they haven't been the most successful band, but they have earned a dedicated fan base on the strength of their five solid albums. Here now, is the very first EDENBRIDGE "best of" compilation, appropriately title "The Chronicles Of Eden". This is a two disc compilation, with the first disc consisting primarily of rare and unreleased songs. Disc 1 begins with "Thin Red Line", which was originally written for the "Arcana" sessions. That is followed by "The Silent Wake". Next up is the beautiful piano instrumental "Images In The Sand". A cover of "For Your Eyes Only" from one of the James Bond movies is next and it is a nice surprise. "Evermore", "On Sacred Ground" and "Velvet Eyes Of Dawn" are great as well. Frontlady Sabine Edelsbacher as always is in fine voice and guitarist/main composer Lanvall does a great job as well. Disc 2 is a collection of songs compiled from their five albums. It begins with "Sunrise In Eden", then goes into "Cheyenne Spirit" from album number 1. The songs are presented in chronoligical order, so you can see the growth of the band from album to album. It seems like they focused more on the longer, epic songs on this collection. But there still is eleven songs worth of great music to listen to. The personal highlight for me is the over ten-minute song "The Grand Design", which is the title track to the bands latest (and best) studio album. Other highlights for me were "Arcana", "The Palace", "The Canterville Ghost" and "Red Ball In Blue Sky", which features a duet between Sabine and D.C. Cooper. This is a satisfying collection in my opinion. You get good value here and the disc of rarities is a nice treat. I would say that if there is anyone out there who would like to check out this band, but doesn't know where to dive in, this collection would be a good place to start. [8 points] (Tony Cannella)

ELIS-Show Me The Way (MCD) (Napalm records)
Many fans were shocked and saddened at the news, that ELIS frontlady Sabine Dunser had passed away. After much rumors and speculation the band decided to continue on with ex-DREAMS OF SANITY vocalist Sandra Schleret. Here now, is the first recorded work of this collaboration.This is a mini-CD containing five tracks and about twenty-five minutes worth of music featuring both Sandra and Sabine. The Sandra tracks are two versions of the song "Show Me The Way" with her vocals re-recorded for this song, which originally appeared on the bands last release with Sabine, "Greifshire". Sandra has a great voice and it certainly is nice to hear her in the spotlight again. The band has made a solid choice of new singer and the future looks bright for this promising outfit. The other three songs on display feature the lovely, heartfelt vocals of Sabine Dunser. They are "Salvation", "These Days Are Gone" and "In Einem Verlassen Zimmer" and they are all excellent tracks, that show what the metal world will be missing. Not only was Sabine Dunser a fantastic singer, but she also wrote great lyrics and melodies. "Show Me The Way" is a release, that does a great job in paying tribute to the past, all-the-while looking ahead to the future. One thing is certain: Sabine Dunser will never be forgotten. [8 points] (Tony Cannella)

EPICA-The Divine Conspiracy (Nuclear Blast)
With their newest release, "The Divine Conspiracy", Holland's EPICA seems poised to climb the ladder to success and after one listen it is damned well deserved. This is their third album and in my opinion this band has outdone previous efforts. The intro "Indigo" kicks things off and segues into "The Obsessive Devotion". The interplay between female singer Simone Simons along with the grunts of Mark Jansen are really cool and inspiring. The opening track clocks in at seven minutes long is one of several songs, that include rich sounding choirs. Next up is "Menace Of Vanity". This song sees Mark Jansen handle most of the vocals. The whole album has a very big sounding, movie soundtrack feel to it, but one can always expect that kind of ambitiousness when it comes to EPICA. "Chasing The Dragon" is next and is another song that is over seven minutes long. It starts of as a ballad with Simone handling most of the vocals early on, before it gets heavier and she is joined by Mark, it is a very passionate and heartfelt number that includes some nice orchestration. Next up, is the first single, called "Never Enough". This is a fantastic song, that sticks in your head long after you've heard it for the first time. Simone sings her heart out on this one and if given the right kind of exposure this could open the band up to a wider fan base. Other highlights include "Death Of A Dream", "Living A Lie", "Fools Of Damnation" and "Beyond Belief". The fourteen minute epic title track brings things to a close on a powerful note. But really, you can't go wrong on anyone of the thirteen tracks. For the "Divine Conspiracy" EPICA have really outdone themselves. They have the talent and the songs to go a long way. With 2007 almost in the books, this is a definite candidate for my abum of the year. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Tony Cannella)

MELISSA ETHERIDGE-The Awakening (Island Records)
MELISSA ETHERIDGE welcomes us back on her new album. A variation of styles enter my room, when listening to the sixteen songs on “The Awakening”. Sometimes the songs are very short, but most of the time they have an average length of about three to four minutes. Alltogether worthy of a full hour of very emotional music. Listen to the deepest emotions and thoughts that will enter your spirit, when you have been diagnosed with cancer, and the process of slowly recoverering from this brutal disease. It’s a concept CD full of emotions, believes, spirituality, statements and feelings. I think, you’d better read the lyrics first and find out for yourself that the concept and the story goes pretty deep. You can imagine, that there are a lot of unreleased emotions here, and the undertone of all these songs is quite dark and only a few happier songs are part of the whole concept. For example, a southern rock song like “Threesome” is quite happy to listen to, when judging it from the eyes of a music reviewer. While the heavy blues part of “The Kingdom Of Heaven” is also really interesting for the average Metal Maidens reader. However, I must clearly state here, that you don’t listen to this album like any other album. This album full of emotions must be judged on its content, instead of the music that is brought to your ears. If you take that into account, you can say that this is a good new album of MELISSA ETHERIDGE, but with a very heavy emotional undertone to it. The whole album is also available on a live CD and DVD, for the true fans of Melissa. It can give you a lot of power and strength and it might give you a good view of what’s going on in the life of someone who has been diagnosed with cancer, and has been cured from it after walking a long dark road. Melissa was always quite good in sharing her deepest thoughts with her listeners, but this spiritual trip goes immense deep, and it will hit you right in your very soul. Website: http://www.melissaetheridge.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

EYES OF EDEN-Faith (Century Media)
Waldemar Sorychta has produced some of the best and most influential albums in metal. His new project is titled EYES OF EDEN and has been in the making for a few years. The bands vocalist was originally ex-DREAMS OF SANITY and current ELIS frontlady Sandra Schleret. Unfortunately, she had to leave the band, however she does contribute all of the lyrics and some backing vocals. Sandra was replaced by Franziska Huth. Enough of the history lesson. The debut album from EYES OF EDEN is titled "Faith" and I have to say that this is a very strong debut. The album begins with "Winter Night" and it definitely starts things of on the right note. From there things only get better with "When Gods Fall" and "Star", which are two definite highlights for me. Other highlights include "Pictures", "Dancing Fire" and "From Heaven Sent". Probably the biggest highlight for me was the disc's final track, "Not Human Kind" which clocks in at ten minutes long. Franziska Huth was a fine choice as vocalist and I expect big things from her and this band in the future. Also joining in the fun is HIM drummer Gas Lipstick on several tracks. EYES OF EDEN is far from a solo project for Waldemar Sorychta. He has recruited a great band and recorded one hell of a debut CD. Let's hope, this is just the beginning for this great band. [8 points] (Tony Cannella)

FABULOUS DISASTER-Love At First Fight (Scream Records)
Great title again for this new FABULOUS DISASTER CD. The sixteen songs have a total playing time of about forty minutes. This means, that we are in for a set of short yet fast punk songs brought to you by our fab four. That’s Sally Disaster on drums, Lynda Mandolyn on lead vocals, Squeaky on guitar and vocals and Lizzie Boredom on bass. Again there is a high RAMONES calibre on this album, but a good listener will also find some influences of the early BLONDIE material on some of these songs. Just listen to a little diamond like “Starcar” for example. Or “Bitterpil”, where the drums are smashed quite brutally. These four ladies breath punk rock and their music is happy, exciting and very hot. The CD closes with the MARC BOLAN cover “20th Century Boy”, that we also know from GIRLSCHOOL, who recorded their version of this song in 1983. Here they sound a little bit like THE DONNAS, but who gives a damn anyway. These ladies really know how to rock out loud, and this “Love At First Fight” is another great example of the nice, punk rock sound of these four rocking ladies. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LITA FORD-Out For Blood/Dancin’ On The Edge (re-release) (BGO Records)
Correct me if I’m wrong, but the first two solo albums of former RUNAWAYS guitar goddess LITA FORD are by far the best in her solo career. Both are put on one CD by Beat Goes On Records. Nineteen classic hard rock songs with a total playing time of almost seventy-five minutes. Let’s start with some negative remarks. Where is the bonus material? I really long for bonus material from that period. They could at least have added the video clips on a separate disc, which would have made the whole story much more complete. However, I like to approach this release on a more positive way though. The liner notes of David Wells are very extensive, but there are no exclusive pics used. LITA FORD fans will be pleased though, because finally they can enjoy these two classics albums in a digitally re-mastered quality. LITA FORD slowly made her moves into the heavy metal scene, after she left THE RUNAWAYS. And where JOAN JETT obviously choose the punk direction, Lita felt more confident in the hard rock and heavy metal direction. “Out For Blood” contains the first steps of Lita into her own solo career. And when I listen to the title track on this album, I get the same warm feeling again, when listening to it the very first time. This song also became the first and only single from this album, with the ballad “Just A Feeling” on the flip side. Many people think, that the ballad would have done much better as a single, but the band and record company thought differently. Lita’s band consisted of Neil Merryweather (ex-DAVE MASON, STEVE MILLER) on bass and Dusty Watson (ex-STEPMOTHERS, PANIC) on drums in these days. “Die For Me Only (Black Widow)” is still a classic in my world. The black widow became Lita’s trademark at some point, because you will find this little spider back on her second album “Dancing On The Edge”. “Rock And Roll Made We What I Am Today” has a little more JOAN JETT approach. Lita’s was definitely still searching for a definite direction to follow. “On The Run” is a real heavy song with great drum and bass part. The musicians show their skills to rock hard here, and this is a nice prove of why Lita choose them to be in her band. To rock it out loud! “Any Way That You Want Me” was originally written by CHIP TAYLOR and was a hitsingle for THE TROGGS in 1966, beefed up by Lita for her debut solo album. An album, that closes with heavy guitars in “I Can’t Stand It”. What a great album! She was really out for blood in those days, just take a look at the album cover! Blood drips from her guitar, like she had ripped someones balls off. Even the guys of SLAYER would think that this is too cruel for rock and roll in1983. In 1984, Lita is “Dancing On The Edge”. Her band was nowhere near the line up, that played on her first album. Dusty and Neil went out and her first new recruit listened to the name of Randy Castillo. A drummer, that came from a band called THE MOTELS. What a great musician and what a fine person he was. He left Lita’s band later on and played with OZZY OSBOURNE and MÖTLEY CRUE, before he died in 2002. We still miss his great personality. Neil Merryweather was replaced by Hugh McDonald, who later played in BON JOVI. The synths on this album were played by Robbie Kondor, and the more well-known Aldo Nova and Jeff Lieb (who same of you may know as JEFF PARIS). This album has a great opener in “Gotta Let Go”, which even received a Grammy nominee. Next to WENDY O’ WILLIAMS and PIA ZADORA. TINA TURNER was assigned the Grammy award however, but it proves that the big audience liked what Lita did in these days. The sound on this album was a bit cleaner, but definitely much more metal, too. Just listen to the great guitar solos in title track “Dancing On The Edge” for example. To me, it’s her best album ever. “Dressed To Kill” became the second single release, but this song was only released in 12 inch format. A video was shot for this song with Lita’s fiancée Tony Iommi (BLACK SABBATH guitarist) in a very small role. The two albums together are worthy of a full score. But five stars could have easily been six stars, when they had added some bonus material on this release. The real fans will be pleased with this CD, there is no doubt about it. If it was only for old times sake, because these two albums are a real must to every RUNAWAYS, LITA FORD or heavy metal fan. But I know for sure, that every fan is willing to spend twice as much money for a copy of “The Bride Wore Black”, that is eating dust on the shelves of the record company for twenty years now. Wouldn’t it be nice to make this album see the light of day? Lita won’t run with the $, because in my eyes she is happy with her life as it is now. She is very happily married to Jim Gillette (NITRO), and she only shows her face, when she is asked to do something special, like singing on “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” together with TWISTED SISTER. I’ll give this another spin or two, hoping that she is slowly dressing up in her best black leather suit, ready to walk to the altar to present us her never released album. Be aware for that moment, because she’ll be “Out For Blood” again! [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

GALLHAMMER-Ill Inocence (Peaceville Records)
GALLHAMMER are not that innocent as they claim to be on their latest album “Ill Inocence”. The all-female band from Tokyo, Japan cranks out another ten songs in the very best HELLHAMMER tradition. Raw, uncompromised and with very brutal growling vocal chords, they wrestle themselves through the fifty minutes of sick death metal songs. The high voice in “Blind My Eyes” will scare the faint-hearted. People are used to hear brutal growls, but they will be frightened when hearing the icely high screams here. “Delirium Daydream” contains a bass sound that you can feel, which is the best way to do it. You don’t want to hear the sound of the bass guitar, when listening to death metal music, you must feel the vibrating of the steel threads in your stomach. The booklet and the CD cover are sober and in white, whereas black would have been a much better colour maybe. But their music is as dark as the night already, which makes it a brilliant combination. In “Ripper In The Gloom”, the band decides to take back speed and try it on an acoustic guitar. It doesn’t take long though, before they start their gallopping beats again. “Killed By The Queen” is one of the fastest songs of ‘the Hammers’. “Song Of Fall” starts off doomy and slowly... Is this the odd one out here? No, it’s possibly one of the most brutal renditions here, including the wild screaming Vivian Slaughter in a leading role. She is also responsible for the brutal bass lines on this album. Risa Reaper plays the drums and Mika Penetrator plays guitar and sings. GALLHAMMER is not just another ordinairy all-female metal outfit. Instead, they belong to the most brutal metal ladies in the scene. They walk the paths, where even Angela Gossow or Sabina Classen didn’t dare to go (yet) and entered the wifeless world of brutal, uncompromising death metal. The world, where corpses lay on one big heap, stinking and rotting. A world, in which the sun never shines. You won’t think about entering that world in your finest dress. These three Japanese ladies did, and they did an helluva job with “Ill Inocence”. This is not for the innocent, but for the sick vultures, who like to pick out the eyes of dead bodies. Is this album for real or is it all a “Long Scary Dream”? It’s the soundtrack to your very worst nightmare. The album was mastered by Nocturno Culto of DARKTHRONE. Website: http://www.gallhammer.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BETH HART-37 Days (Universal Music)
There are fourteen songs on this new BETH HART album, which runs for over a full hour. It opens with the solid rocker “Good As It Gets”, followed by the tearjerker “Jealousy”. This combination are the two different sides, that we know of BETH HART. First up, there’s the lady, who rocks out loud and secondly, there’s the very emotional and tender woman. Musically, Beth could be compared to people like JANIS JOPLIN, ALANIS MORISSETTE, JOSS STONE, ILSE DE LANGE, ROD STEWART, FRANKIE MILLER, JOE COCKER and ROBERT PLANT, to name but a few. A woman, her feelings and a piano. Backed up by band that consists of Tom Lilly on bass, Jon Nichols on guitar and mandolin, Todd Wolf on drums and Walter Thompson on keyboards and organ. A song like “Face Forward” rocks big time, while “Soulshine” and “Forever Young” brings back the tender side of this lady. Beth is at her very best, when she performs live on stage, while her studio albums are a bit more modest. Nevertheless, they are highly enjoyable and there’s never a dull moment! “Soulshine” was originally written by ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND and GOVN’T MULE guitar player Warren Haynes, by the way and “Easy” contains a nice guitar solo. Sometimes, like in “Crashing Down The End” and “One Eyed Chicken”, Beth sings with a distorted voice, which might be a little inappropiate in a way, because she has such a fine singing voice herself. For example, just listen to the last song on this album “At The Bottom” and you’ll know what I mean. BETH HART delivered another fine album, showing that she’s a good songwriter, a fine piano player and a great singer. Is there anything more, you could wish for? Website: http://www.bethhart.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HEMI CUDA-Thick Riffs ‘N’ Tasty Licks (Chatterbox Records)
Everybody knows the story of Karen ‘Cuda’ Exley of HEMI CUDA, who joined NASHVILL PUSSY to show the fans what a rock and roll bassplayer is really about. She’s back with HEMI CUDA now and together with Ryan Klassen on drums and Anika Zappe on guitar, she provides us with some thick riffs and tasty licks. She recorded twelve songs with them, worthy of a forty minutes rock and roll attack to your ears. A lot of stuff will remind you of MOTÖRHEAD. Just watch their band logo, the drawing on the back of the CD and on the silver disc itself, and also the way, they put the pics together in the CD booklet looks very similar to the “No Sleep ‘Till Hammersmith” album. However, I would describe their music as rock with a slightly punky feel at times. Ten own penned tracks and two cover songs are on this album. The first three songs contain a high dose of rock and roll, but “Song For A Dead Man” has got a lot of girl power. After that, the first cover song is up. It’s called “Second Skin” and it was originally done by THE GITS. Drummer Ryan puts in some extra speed here. “Colavita” has got some distorted voice and vocal sounds. In that perspective, it may sound a little different, but the bottom line is it rocks just as hard as the other songs. The riffs are getting thicker and sweatier in “Birthday Song For My Rock ‘N Roll Bitch”. The second cover on this album is one, that you probably would not expect to find here at all. It’s the HEMI CUDA version of “Hold On Loosely” of .38 SPECIAL, one of the finest Southern rock bands led by Donnie van Zandt. An unexpected tribute to these wild-eyed Southern boys. Yeeeeehaw! And from there on, the CD is only getting better and better in my opinion. “Pretty Mess” and “Vermin” are rockers in the best RAMONES tradition, and the same goes for CD closer “Thick ‘N’ Tasty”. It’s good to hear that HEMI CUDA is back and Karen has her career with NASHVILLE PUSSY, next to this rebel raunching rock and roll outfit. If you’re looking for tick riffs and tasty riffs, don’t look any further, because they are on the new album by HEMI CUDA. Hell Yeah!!! Website: http://www.hemicudarocks.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HYDROGYN-Strip ‘Em Blind Live! (Destroy All Records)
We already know, that HYDROGYN rocks out loud! Absolute prove is given here on this twelve track live album, recorded in Charleston, West Virginia on September 1, 2006. When the CD opens with “Blind”, the adrenaline starts to flow. Fists are rising in the air, and we are ready for some cool action here. No-nonsense heavy rock with lots of guitars and the great voice of Julie, make this band to something really special. “Vesper’s Song” is sprinkled with ACCEPT-like riffs and MAIDEN-like guitar solos. While “Breaking Me Down” remembers me of the gods of hard rock, LED ZEPPELIN. In “Ura-Kia Scream”, the band shows their skills in this instrumental track and does it really well. Besides Julie on vocals, we have Jeff Boggs on guitars, Chris Sammons on bass, Josh Kitchen on drums and Jeff Westlake on guitars. “Mutilated Mind” has got those beautiful twin guitar solos again and near the end, we can even enjoy a few PANTERA-like riffs. “Big Star” sounds a bit more brutal as well, while “I’ve Been Waiting” is quite easy on the ear. As you can see, there is a lot of variation in their songs and the 15,000 fans must have had the time of their life, when the band cranked out heavy whoppers, like “Look Away”, which contains some awesome fat riffs! HYDROGYN will tour with NIGHTMARE in November, and when they put on such a powerful and energetic show there, they will definitely please a lot of fans here in Europe. The CD closes with a bonus track, showing that we’re dealing with a great metal band. It’s a cover of the well-known AC/DC classic “Back In Black”. Crank up the volume, because this album is made to be played LOUD! Website: http://www.hydrogyn.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

IGNITOR-Road Of Bones (Cruz Del Sur Music)
Wow, how they blew me away at Keep It True V in Germany! IGNITOR - a name I carved deeply into my heart, so I could never forget about them. But when guitarist Beverly Barrington decided to leave the band, I was not sure anymore, if IGNITOR would still have a long life ahead of them. Man, how wrong I would have been. With “Road Of Bones”, these Texas metalheads are back. With Annah Moore, they’ve added a new female guitar player to their ranks and when the band starts to walk the “Road Of Bones”, it’s both thumbs up again for these five metal heroes. With “Scarlet Enigma”, they put some extra coals on the high burning flames. It’s a long and hard road to glory, but not for the people of IGNITOR. They struggled and survived like true heavy metal heroes do. If you’re not convinced yet, just listen to the mean riffs in this song and you’ll have to admit that the band didn’t cut back on power and energy here. What would you expect from the female equivalent of Rob Halford on vocals? Erika’s voice sounds even more metal than ever before and the dagger sharp riffs and solo attacks of Stuart Laurence and newcomer Annah Moore, will only make you long for mo(o)re. In “March To The Guillotine”, you will hear the last shreds of those who are dying at the gallow’s end. Just use your imagination and enjoy the monstrous, thick heavy sound, that makes your adrenaline flow faster and faster. ‘March, March March, to the guillotine!!’, they sing, topped with an icely high scream of Erika. The fascination for war machines has not stopped since the debut CD. We can hear the band salute them in a song, called “Wings Of The Blackheart”. “Hymn Of Erin” doesn’t even sound like an Irish folk song, while “Phoenix” sounds real mean again. “Broken Glass” has got these PRIEST-like guitar solos again and some thunderous riffs. In “Castle In The Clouds”, the band takes back a little speed, but compensates this with more biting riffs. The “Take To The Sky” MCD was a real punch in the face, with “Road Of Bones” they’ve delivered the final knock out. If you are still not convinced, the last two songs “God Of Vengeance”(in the best MANOWAR tradition possible!!) and the already well-known metal hymn “Reinheitsgebot” are definite proof, that my words are not totally unfounded. Heavy metal is the law, and that’s the way it is. It’s not hard to walk on a road of bones. With this album in mind, it’s easy as hell. The artwork for this CD was done by Joe Petagno, who some of you might know of all the magnificent artwork for MOTÖRHEAD over the years. Note: A few weeks after writing this review for “Road Of Bones”, we heard that both singer Erika and guitarist Annah Moore have left the band. Hopefully, this will not mean the end for this awesome band from Austin, Texas. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

JET TRAIL-Edge Of Existence (Escape Music)
If you fancy some melodic metal from Sweden, it’s time to lend your ears to the album of JET TRAIL. Thirteen songs and a total length of about fifty minutes, show us a band that is ready to rock your world. On the microphone, we have Carolina Lindwall as frontwoman. She even knew to impress Ritchie Blackmore, when the band supported BLACKMORE’S NIGHT in Stockholm. And I also have to admit that Carolina has got a mighty fine voice, which reminded me of the magnificent Stacey Adler (ICRI’S WITCH, ELLIS) or Sandy Saraya (SARAYA) in a way. Just listen to great rockers like “Never Say Never”, “Now You!” and “The Unknown” and you’ll know what I am talking about. And when you listen to the band, there’s only one conclusion: they fit very well to the voice of Carolina. The band consists of Jon Stavert on guitar, Christian Sundell (ex-GRAND ILLUSION) on drums and Johan Holst (ex-ZEBRA KINGS) on bass. Here and there, the guitarists crank out some MALMSTEEN-like solos, but Carolina stays the biggest eye-catcher here. “The Story Of Marie De France” is definitely one of the highlight on this CD for me. The band unleashes their power to the fullest and it shows. “Snowbirds” and bonus track “Why” are the (obligatory?) ballads. All in all, “Edge Of Existence” is a nice album for the the fans of high quality melodic rock and metal. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

KATRINA JOHANSSON-Love, Surrender, Forgiveness (MCD) (C-Dog Records)
What a nice surprise to hear the new MCD of KATRINA JOHANSSON. “Love, Surrender, Forgiveness” contains four songs and has a playing time of about sixteen minutes. Starting off with “Scar Tissue”, which reminded me of “The Zoo” by the SCORPIONS (riff-wise). Needless to say, it’s an instrumental, that starts a bit slowly, but when Katrina pulls up in fourth gear, she is unstoppable and shreds like a madman (eh-woman-that is)! What a lot of guitar craziness, simply magnificent! “Bellydance” is on next. It contains some Eastern influences, that you might expect from a song with a name like that. Again, it has got this little piece right in the middle, that you wouldn’t expect at all. It’s where the louder shredding part starts for a couple of moments, before slowly returning to the normal chords. I really like those little surprises. They make the song just a little bit different, than when they go on and on in the same structure all the time. These little sidesteps makes it a lot more exciting to me. The title track is on next, it’s also the longest track on this MCD. Here we can enjoy some SATRIANI influences of Katrina, without repeating the man. CD closer “K-9 Lullaby” is already well-known from her previous album. This is a song with some seriously shredding, and I remember it being one of my fave songs the first time around. This time, we can enjoy the remixed version, in which Katrina must have burned her fingers. Her fastness is totally incredible, so you’d better fasten your seat belts, before playing this song. Katrina Johansson expresses her talents in the best way possible. She is helped out by Mike Hoffmann on bass and slide guitar, Wolfe on drums, Victor DeLorenzo on drums, Brad Rohrssen on drums and Michael Angelo Batio on bass. If you don’t know about this shredding lady yet, you really must be ashamed of yourself and then hurry down to her website at http://www.katrinaguitar.com to see all the information you need. Superb stuff! [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

KAIRA-The Wheel Of Fortune (Irond Ltd.)
You won’t find too many bands from Belarus or White Russia on our website. KAIRA however is a band from this magnificent country. The band mixes the traditional Belarus sound with symphonic metal. Sometimes, it’s like a soundtrack of a good horror movie, but then with loud guitars and a lot of bombastic frills. The opera voice of vocalist Kaira sounds dark and mystical. The ten songs on this album have a total playing time of forty-five minutes. “Witch Hunt” is the opener, and here the bombastic, doomy, dark sound is already developed. The dark voice in the beginning of “Great Forces” clearly gives away, that we’re dealing with a band from Eastern Europe. The bombastic sounds and orchestral music really makes it exciting to listen to the album. Certainly if you like mystical spheres and soundtrack like music. The orchestral music is part of the band KAIRA, which consists of guitarists, a drummer and a bass player, but the people who do the choir vocals, the violins and violas are also part of the original band, which consists of ten people totally. It’s totally unclear to me what the lyrics are about, but if you look at the minimal information and drawings inside the booklet, which is perfectly done but impossible to read because of the language barrier, you must think in the direction of fantasy and/or science fiction like topics. I really liked the uptempo “Sea Devils”, in which the guitar solos are the cream on top of this musical cake! For the song “On Edge Of All”, the band also shot a video clip. This video clip is also to be found on the CD, so don’t be afraid to put the silver disc in your PC and have a look. “Wolf Howl” is another track with nice guitar solo and it also has some great progressive parts at the end of the song. KAIRA is described as a sympho metal band, but I think that is much too easy. Their music is a lot heavier and they definitely put some traditional sounds into their music, which makes it very special to listen to. The CD closes with the CARL ORFF classic “Carmina Burana”, well-known as the opening tape of OZZY OSBOURNE. KAIRA is a band to enjoy to the max, although it will be quite difficult to find this item, I guess. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

KINGFISHER SKY-Hallway Of Dreams (Suburban Records)
You could read the name of KINGFISHER SKY in several magazines. And if you take a close look at the packaging of the CD, you will definitely get the idea that you’re not dealing with just an average band. KINGFISHER SKY consists of Judith Rijnveld on vocals, Daan Janzing on guitar, Edo van der Kolk on guitar, George van Olffen on keyboards, Eric Hoogendoorn (ex-ORPHANAGE) on bass and Ivar de Graaf on drums. You may know Ivar already from WITHIN TEMPTATION, so you probably would expect to hear a band that sounds a bit similar. Well, that’s definitely not the case here. KINGFISHER SKY sounds much more symphonic or progressive, instead of being gothic metal band number such-and-such. For example listen to the Eastern influences in the background in “Balance Of Power”. Other songs may even sound a bit like PORCUPINE TREE or BLACKFIELD, but this time with a female vocalist in their ranks. In “Through My Eyes” though, you may hear back some WITHIN TEMPTATION influences. Judith’s voice sounds a little bit alike Sharon’s vocals, but the heavy riffing made me draw this comparison. The solo in this song however is so much different and again my thoughts went more into the direction of PORCUPINE TREE. In “Seven Feet”, I also hear a bit of the vocal sound of Anneke van Giersbergen (ex-THE GATHERING, now AGUA DE ANNIQUE) and Judith must see this as a big compliment. Many people mention Anneke’s voice too easy as a guideline or reference, but I only use her name when the quality comes really close to this great singer. The artwork inside the booklet is also very special and it forces you to see KINGFISHER SKY with different eyes. The drawings look sober, yet very artistic and they go into the same direction as their music. It’s not over the top anywhere, but always within the borders of the allowable, so to speak. Never too artistic, nowhere too progressive or experimental, but bits and pieces of this all are fitted into eleven, compact songs with a high grade of variation and quality. Worthy of forty-five minutes of solid Dutch perfection. Website: http://www.kingfishersky.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LA-VENTURA-A New Beginning (independent)
A new band, a new beginning and a new addition to the already lengthy list of gothic metal bands from The Netherlands. Once again I must draw the conclusion, that the most talented bands from this genre are from our country. This is certainly the case with LA-VENTURA, who can easily compete with all the bigger names from this scene, like WITHIN TEMPTATION, AFTER FOREVER, EPICA and THE GATHERING. In my opinion, this band comes very close to WITHIN TEMPTATION, our biggest export product at the moment. Let’s introduce LA- VENTURA a bit closer to you. The band consists of Saz Kondic on guitars, Marco van Boven on keys, Mike Saffrie on bass, Erwin Polderman on drums (ex- ORPHANAGE) and Carla Douw on vocals. Their music is a mix of very passionate sung gothic metal and modern alternative loud riffing rock. The vocals of Carla are the biggest eye-catcher, but soon you’ll discover the beauty of the instrumental input as well. For example, the riffing in “Cry” is really great! Perhaps the rather experimental, industrial-like beginning of “Messed Up” sounds even beter in a way! It definitely has a more excentric feel, including the better singing parts of Carla. Carla’s voice is very easy to like. She pronounces the lyrics pretty clear and comes close to singers like Amy Lee (EVANESCENCE), Anneke van Giersbergen (THE GATHERING, now AGUA DE ANNIQUE) and Sharon den Adel (WITHIN TEMPTATION). However, best thing for me is the fact that the band produced the album all by themselves. They even took care of the artwork and the pictures in the booklet, in other words they are a self-made band. Which is quite extraordinairy these days. Not being a self-made band maybe, but to do it so succesfully like this band. The reviews are all good, and I cannot find any negative aspect to this CD. On the contrary, the CD gets better and better after each song . “The Hunter” being one of the definate highlights of the album. Well, maybe there’s one negative thing here. The album contains ten songs and plays for about forty minutes only. That’s a bit short, considering that you can put a double amount of music on a silver disc. On the other hand, it’s better to release ten good songs in forty minutes, than to stuff your CD with a lot of fillers, just to get a full hour of music. “Right & Righteousness” is a great CD closer. I really wonder, what the future will bring for these new Dutch talents. Will they get signed by a record label, how will they develop their music style on the next album, and how will this band sound live on stage? Hopefully, we will be able to answer all these questions (and more!) in an interview that we’re doing with the band. Don’t forget the name of the band LA-VENTURA, because you’ll probably hear their name more often in the near future. Website: http://www.la-ventura.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LEZ ZEPPELIN-Lez Zeppelin (Emotion Records)
LEZ ZEPPELIN consists of Sarah McLellan on vocals, Steph Paynes on guitars, Lisa Brigantino on bass, keyboards and mandolin and last but definitely not least Helen Destroy on drums and percussion. Yes, dear Metal Maidens readers, we’re dealing with an all-female LED ZEPPELIN tribute band here. They’ve released eight LED ZEPPELIN covers on CD, which has a total playing time of about forty minutes. The singer comes close to collegues like BETH HART, JANIS JOPLIN and MAGGIE BELL. The band provides a nice collection of songs here, which ranges from well- known anthems like “Whole Lotta Love” (short version), “Rock And Roll” and “Communication Breakdown”, to lesser known songs like “On The Rocks” and “Winter Sun”. Some tracks get a whole different approach, i.e.the band likes to give it a slightly different face and put a little bit of their own into it. Nice example here is “The Ocean”, where the ladies added a fifties rock part at the end. I really love what these ladies are doing. You could say, that it is inappropriate with the original LED ZEPPELIN reforming and playing live again after so many years. However, this album was released many months before the so-called reunion was a fact. Just think about the many other LED ZEPPELIN tribute bands that already exist and who provide you with your dose LED ZEPPELIN music every now and then. This band is really special to us, because it’s an all-female outfit and a damn good one, too. Just listen to the mighty fine versions of “Since I’ve Been Loving You” and “Kashmir”. Do you catch my drift? LEZ ZEPPELIN is ultracool in my book, and next to the original band, they’re very much worth checking out. Website: http://www.lezzeppelin.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MAGICA-Hereafter (AFM Records)
MAGICA hails from Romania and they present us their third album, called “Hereafter”. The album contains thirteen songs and is worthy of almost a full hour of gothic metal, which comes close to the sound of NIGHTWISH, EDENBRIDGE, WITHIN TEMPTATION and AFTER FOREVER. This is the very short description of what MAGICA is all about. There is a little bit more to this band though, because they really deserves more. When listening to opener “All Waters Have The Same Colour Of Drowning”, I hear some great guitarwork, which lifts them up to a higher level. The bombastic, soprano vocals are maybe average for a gothic metal outfit, but the guitarwork is slightly heavier than any of the aforementioned bands. Just listen to the riffing in “Turned To Stone”, which perfectly explains what I am talking about. Let’s introduce the band a bit closer to you. On vocals we have Ana Mladinovici, then there is Bogdan Costea on guitar, Vali Zechiu on bass, 6Fingers on keyboards and Cristi Barla on drums.The heavy drum beats and loud guitar riffs in “Through Wine” make it clear, that the comparison with the bands in the beginning of this review, was only to give you an idea of what to expect here. If you listen to the music a little bit more carefully, you will constantly find some hidden treasures in their sound. In “Energy For The Gods” we hear a duet between Ana and a male vocalist, while in the last (bonus) track “Vrajitoarea Cea Rea” we even hear the band sing in their native tongue. Ana will be joining AXXIS on tour with HELLOWEEN and GAMMA RAY. Meaning that other metal bands have also discovered the beauty of her voice. When are you going to discover the beauty of MAGICA’s music? Maybe it will help to watch the enhanced video that they shot for opener “All Waters Have The Colour Of Drowning”. Check this band out, you won’t regret it! Website: http://www.magicaband.com [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MATRIARCH-Revered Unto The Ages (independent)
Here’s heavy metal from Puerto Rico, dear friends! MATRIARCH is an all-female heavy metal band consisting of Shamara Irizarry on drums and loud, screaming vocals, Aria Vanessa Urrutia on soprano vocals and guitars and Isabel Conde on bass and grunts. The band mixes doom metal with death metal, some black metal and even some gothic-like parts with soprano vocals. An odd combination, you may think, but it works quite well. After instrumental opener “Koyaanqatsi”, they jump into the doomy sound of “Second Death Of Souls”, which contains all the different styles mentioned earlier. It’s one of the six lengthy songs on this eight song album. If this doesn’t get you in the mood, maybe “One Last Illusion” will. Here the band also starts up slowly, but after a while they speed away in fourth gear, proving that they also can play very fast, which really sounds like a powerful explosion to me including soprano high screams and low death grunts. Marvellous! The bass is turned down really low in the beginning of “Sacred Heresy”, which creates a spooky atmosphere in combination with the maniacal screams, which seem to float along in the wind. What anger they release here! I liked the haunting rhythm of the guitars at the end of this song. It shows us, that we’re not dealing with any average band here. Instead, it proves that these ladies can come up with some innovative moves, too. “Hollow Silence” is a short instrumental interlude, somewhere in the middle of the album, followed by “Profanity”. This is death metal with another doomy undertone. “The Damsel Of Death” opens with a short radio or television comment and it is by far one of the highlights on this forty-five minute album by these three death metal goddessess. The song contains a lot of breaks, especially in the beginning. The album closes with the 2004 recorded “Sinful Decadence”, which fits perfectly well to the rest of the songs. Here we hear Aracelis Lopez on guitars and loud vocals. We already knew, that MATRIARCH is a very self-conceited band from their “Black Apples” demo in 2003, which we reviewed a while ago. This album shows us the real deal. Hopefully, the band gets picked up by a good record label soon, because that is what these three brutal ladies deserve! Website: http://www.matriarchpr.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

STEVIE NICKS-Chrystal Vision – The Very Best Of (Reprise Records)
Sixteen songs, worthy of almost eighty minutes of music and the fantastic voice of STEVIE NICKS. I don’t think I need anything else. Slowly, I forget everything around me, and I only enjoy the magic vocal sounds of this FLEETWOOD MAC singer. This album captures some very magic moments of this lady. You can hear live versions, duets with TOM PETTY and with DON HENLEY, songs she did with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and of course some FLEETWOOD MAC songs on this CD. It really doesn’t matter, which songs you prefer of her. Most important thing is that Stevie sings them. Her voice can bring me in some kind of trance, where there’s only peace. I really don’t know why, but she just sounds very special to me, and I think she does that to all her fans. The album shows a big diversity in styles, ranging from easy listening songs to disco tunes. You can argue, if this overview is really complete. People may miss their personal fave here, but through the diversity of projects and styles, I think it has become a nice overview of what this lady has done over the years. For example, I would have liked a song like “Gold Dust Woman” here. But again, you can’t have it all. “Crystal Vision” gives you value for money and that’s what really counts. One of the highlights to me is, when Stevie rocks it out on LED ZEPPELIN’s “Rock And Roll”. But also the slower and softer songs are like magic to me. After eighty minutes, the trance is gone and life goes on, but Stevie still knows to give me a good feeling. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

NIGHTWISH-Dark Passion Play (Roadrunner)
The latest offering from Finland's NIGHTWISH has probably been one of the most anticipated metal releases in recent years. It is well-known how the band sacked former vocalist Tarja Turunen. After months of speculation and rumors the band replaced her with Swedish singer Annette Olzon, who was a relative unknown. There are those out there who were waiting for the new version of NIGHTWISH to fail, making up their minds that they wouldn't like it before even hearing a single note. Well, after months of internet gossip and discussion, "Dark Passion Play" is finally here. My first reaction was "well, she's no Tarja" and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Tarja is a great singer, don't get me wrong and she is totally identifiable with the NIGHTWISH sound, but with Annette the band took the bold step of going in another direction. Gone are the opera elements that Tarja provided as Annette's vocals offer a more earthy quality. So, how is the new music? I'd say it's a pretty solid outing. The thirteen plus minute epic of the "Poet And The Pendulum" gives things a pretty good start as Annette proves that she is up to the task. Next up is "Bye Bye Beautiful". This is a heavy number that sees Annette sharing vocals with bass player Marco Hietala. Next is the fabulous first single "Amaranth". This song is one of the more simplistic songs, that NIGHTWISH has ever done, but it is catchy as hell. "Cadence Of Her Last Breath" and "Master Passion Greed" keep things going in the right direction, before the ballad "Eva" slows things down a bit. Other highlights include "Sahara", "Seven Days to The Wolves" and "The Islander". The ballad "Meadows Of Heaven" brings things to a close. As always keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen is the main visionary of the band, but guitarist Emppu and bassist Marco provide some input as well. All-in-all, this is a pretty good effort. Annette Olzon is very like able and someone you can't help but pull for. The band have built a strong legacy over the years and "Dark Passion Play" only adds to it. [7 points] (Tony Cannella)

OTEP-The Ascension (Koch Records)
Otep Shamaya spits out all her anger. Hide, while you still can. “The Ascension” contains a lot of power, aggression, sex, violence, hate, anger, emotions and brutality. And I must admit, that I like it that way. Otep sounds like a dreamy drug addicted child in the beginning of “Eet The Children”. It won’t be a surprise, that this silence doesn’t last too long, in a song titled like that. Somewhere near the end, they give another push on the gas pedal and rush themselves towards the end. A short AC/DC-like riff opens the brutal attack in “Crooked Spoons”. Otep knows to pronounce her lyrics perfectly well in the slower parts. But even in the aggressive ones, her lyrics can be followed quite well. Which is important, because this lady has some interesting messages in her lyrics. Then the diversity starts. No OTEP album will be complete without the madness from ultra emotional to ultra brutal or reverse. And the differences couldn’t be bigger after “Perfectly Flawed”.“Confrontation” is on next. Wow, your neighbours will really start to think, that World War III is about to take off! I won’t mention the war again, I mentioned it once and I think I got away with it. Excellent stuff indeed! “Milk Of Regret” starts off really slow, but when the screaming begins, I can’t control myself anymore. What a great way to let some steam off! “Noose And Nail” is another adrenaline shot, followed by “Ghostflowers”. No chance to take a deep breath inbetween, because “Breed” is another punch in your face! Check out the beginning of “March Of The Martyrs”, and you’ll know that your neighbours will hide in their shells for the next few hours. The thirteen songs on this album show a lot of variation, but I like the screaming and aggressive parts best, to be honest with you. However, this third full length release wasn’t that easy to accomplish at all. First of all, Capitol Records sacked the people, who were responsible for the deals with OTEP. And the new employees didn’t give a shit about Otep and her band. Luckily, she was able to sign a contract with Koch Records instead, who gave her full support. So after all “The Ascension” will see the light of day on the date, that was originally set for this release. Back to the album now. “Homegrown” is another aggressive attack to the max, with some male vocals taking care of more brutal power. How much more aggression and anger can one take? “Communion” is dark and sober, at least in the beginning of the song. Right after the first minute, you’ll know that you’re in for another razorblade slit in your face. I don’t even try to escape it anymore. Right now, my body is filled with so much adrenaline, that it has build up so much resistance to pain and the brutal attacks of Otep. Anyone I’ve harmed or hurt during the full hour that this album plays, I have to make my apologies here. This sounds absolutely inhuman and without any warning upfront, I was confronted with thirteen lashes by a whip covered with nasty thorns. And guess what? I liked it and I want more. This album is even worse than witnessing all the dreadfull things that might happen to people in torture chambers all over the world. But you can avoid to listen to it, by not buying the album at all. What you will miss is a full hour of aggressive and exciting craftsmanship. I can assure you, that after listening to this album, you will become another person. A person, that is longing for “The Ascension”. If that is half as much as exciting as this album, it still is a helluva trip. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

PERSEPHONE’S DREAM-Pyre Of Dreams (independent)
Let’s go through the line up on this PERSEPHONE’S DREAM album first, before we will talk about their music. We hear Rowen Poole on guitars, keyboards and synths, John Talent on percussion and (what I would like to call miscellaneous) sounds like bells and whistles, Kelly Fletcher on percussion, Steven Hogue on drums, Colleen Gray on vocals, Heidi Engel on vocals, John Lally on bass, James Waugaman on keyboards, organ and piano, Scott Harvey on drums, DC Cooper on vocals, Ed Wiancko on drums and Chris Siegle on bass. I would definitely call their sound progressive rock and metal with influences of rock giants like RUSH and EMERSON, LAKE AND PALMER and also a bit LANA LANE, because of the female vocal input. However, while LANA LANE leans more towards the heavy rock, this still sounds like progressive rock. Although the ‘color’ of the voice of Colleen Gray sounds very similar to the voice of Lana. Just listen to the first three songs, “Threnody”, “Syneschesia” and “Nightfall”. After that, the drummers play a nice little interlude, called “Cryptoendolitch”. Fans will surely recognise the name of DC Cooper (ROYAL HUNT) here, who sings on the last two songs. The progressive aspect of the band does do really justice on a song like “Mist – Temple In Time I”, with its many mood changes. This song runs seamless over into the partly spoken “Nimiane – Temple In Time II”. They slowly take you to another world now, the ancient world of King Arthur. The bass parts in “Temple In Time IV” sounds a bit like the plundering bass sound of Roger Waters in “One Of These Days” of PINK FLOYD’s “The Medle”. The walls are shaking fiercly, when you play this at full speed! “Android Dreams” may even have some hitsingle or radio airplay potential. But the prog sound returns in songs like “Aphrodite” and “Alien Embassy”. Like I mentioned earlier, the CD closes with two songs sung by vocalist DC Cooper, which are called “Soliloquy Of A King” and “Camlann”, both in the so-called King Arthur way. The fourteen songs together have a total playing time of a bit over seventy minutes. That’s what I call value for money, and the high quality music certainly add up to it. A nice suggestion for people, who are into the music of LANA LANE or those, who like to hear a good prog rock album. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ANA POPOVIC-Still Making History (Delta Groove)
The world was mourning, when STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN died. Not many people would ever consider thinking, that his way of playing would be continued by a Serbian (formerly Yugoslavian) female guitar player, who goes by the name of ANA POPOVIC. But her guitar playing starts to show a lot of resemblance to the late guitarist in a way. Ana however puts a bit more soul, jazz and funk in her playing to create some variety in her songs. Her new album is called “Still Making History” and it contains fourteen songs with a total length of about sixty-five minutes. Funk influences are added in “U Complete Me”, which opens the album. The song re-appears later on in a blues version as a bonus track. “Hold On” captures a horn section and some choir vocals. While “Between Our Worlds” cannot be described any differently than plain reggae blues, ya man! We’re jammin’! Not only is she a very gifted guitarplayer. She’s also a great singer, a good songwriter and quite a gifted performer. Which I can easily say after attending a few of her live shows. And on one of the latter shows, she already played “Hungry”, which is a very catchy song, ready to sing along to. “Doubt Everyone But Me” is quite jazzy. So turn the lights down low and grab yourself a good glass of wine to enjoy this to the max. Try to stand still, while listening to “You Don’t Move Me”, which is a great shuffle including some perfect guitar work. Title track “Still Making History” is slow and bluesy again, being the longest track on this album. “How’d You Learn To Shake It Like That!” is another song, that made it to Ana’s setlist of her recent live shows. While “Calendars” sounds perfectly for a slow Sunday morning. The album closes in a rocking way with “Sexiest Man Alive”, and the aforementioned blues version of opener “U Complete Me”. Recently, Ana signed a deal with Delta Groove Records, and I really hope that this will lift her career up to a much higher level, because this lady deserves all the success in the world. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE RIPLETS-Rock (U-Sonic Records)
Are you ready to rock? Okay, let’s give it a try then. Eleven songs, worthy of almost forty minutes of true rock and roll will enter your world. THE RIPLETS have got the real rock and roll spirit and they kick ass like no one can. Already in the second song “Love U Rock ‘N’ Roll”, I could almost smell the sweat and beer, dripping from this album. This CD is made to play loud, drink a beer (or two) and you can even dance to it. It’s the ultimate mix between AC/DC, THE HELLACOPTERS and THE DONNAS. The last band is mentioned on purpose here, because THE RIPLETS are also an all-female rock band. Although I think they play their rawk much dirtier than THE DONNAS. The sound of THE RIPLETS has got a little bit more balls, so to speak. Just listen to the nice AC/DC riffing and solo part in “Jump All Night”, for example. The MICHAEL JACKSON cover “Beat It” is a point of recognition, which even comes with an Eddie Van Halen-like guitar solo. While in “Miracle”and “We Work”, two of the highlights on this album for me, we can even enjoy some more rock and roll to the max. Album closer “We Work” even has a terrific guitar solo a la Angus Young (AC/DC), played by Ryan Riot (ex-BAD CANDY), who really shows that not only boys can play filthy, steamy guitar solos. The RIPLETS also consist of leading frontlady Janneke Riplet on lead vocals and bass, and Valesca Riplet on drums. Now, grab yourself a beer and dance to the music of these wild punk punk ladies. Website: http://www.riplets.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ROADKILL-Dark Side (MCD) (independent)
ROADKILL in Metal Maidens? Yes, and there is a good reason for it. We could put this five tracker in our short review section, but it would not do justice to this release. Mainly because ROADKILL is one of the very few surviving real heavy metal bands in Holland. They consist of Baardo on bass, Gary on drums, Macblade on vocals, and Jack and Ricky on twin axes. And I feel that we have to give them every support we possibly can, since they’ve recorded a duet with Christine Roetert (ACES) on this new MCD. It opens with “God Of War”, which has a few nice breaks and especially the way they build this song up towards the guitar solo is phenomenal. This is the way heavy metal is supposed to sound! ROADKILL puts a lot of power and melody into their music, which brings the overall sound into balance. Title track “Dark Side” is on next. It’s another powerful uptempo track with again a great break in the middle. I remember, IRON MAIDEN also added these exciting bridges in their early work, which made me love this band. “Lost” asked for my special attention, because this is the duet with Christine. It’s a ballad-type of song, where Macblade and Christine are accompanied by acoustic guitars. I think, it will keep you quiet for a while in order to consume this dark piece of melancholy to the max. You wouldn’t expect such an emotional piece of music from a metal band like ROADKILL. It proves, that we’re dealing with some great musicians here. Not everybody can write and perform an emotional piece of music like these people did here. And right on the spot, where I didn’t expect a powerful explosion anymore, the riffs cleave my very soul. WONDERFUL! “King Of Swords” continues in the well-known IRON MAIDEN or old MANOWAR (lyrically) tradition. It’s the very song, I would raise my sword to honour these five musicians! They really know how metal should be played, goddammit. I really hope, that the tour with VENGEANCE has brought them a lot of new fans, who will gain the strength of their legion. The last song on this twenty-five minute MCD is called “The Dream”. Here, the vocals reminded me a bit of SAVATAGE, when they were still very successful. A second reference, when listening very carefully to this mighty song, could be a song called “The Plague” by NWOBHM heroes DEMON. I hope, they will take this as a compliment by yours truly. As you can see, there is a lot of variation on these five songs. That’s why I wanted to ask some special attention for this nice release. For more information about this well-talented Dutch metal band, you should go to their website at http://www.roadkill.nl. Our thanks go out to Martin Motörhead and Daniëlle for making this review possible. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ROCK IGNITION-I Can’t Resist (MCD) (independent/Rock Inc.)
Okay, please sit down and have a good listen to this CD. This is a five song MCD, which has got a lot of potential. The band ROCK IGNITION consists of Oliver May on guitar, Jürgen Steinmetz (ex-HEADSTONE EPITAPH, ex-SILENT FORCE) on bass, Christian Sommer on drums and frontlady Heather Shockley on vocals. And this Heather Shockley is a natural born talent. She was the frontlady of a band, called 900 SEC and played in musicals such as “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “We Will Rock You”. More recently, she was also well-known for her backing vocals with KAMELOT. This MCD contains five songs, worthy of a bit over fifteen minutes of melodic hair metal with references to bands such as WHITESNAKE, VIXEN, PAT BENATAR, BON JOVI and SKID ROW. “I Can’t Resist” could easily be a WHITESNAKE song with a BON JOVI refrain. It’s a nice uptempo song with very powerful vocals and a good guitarsolo. You know the drill. While “Heartbeat” has got a more PAT BENATAR feel to it and a nice explosive guitar eruption, that lifts this catchy song up to a much higher level. This music has got plenty of balls! I really had a great time listening to these five songs, that other magazies will probably slam down as old fashioned hard rock. On the CD, we also hear some guest musicians like Marc Gerwing on drums, Guido van den Brink on guitar, and the additional guitars were performed by Dennis Hormes (ex-T.M. STEVENS), Dirk Böhmer (ex-JADED HEART) and Bas Maas (AFTER FOREVER). “Caught In The Past” could refer to the music, but it doesn’t. Yeah I know, this would really sound perfect in the eighties, but that’s the reason why I like it so much. The eighties is just my thing and when I listen to “Too Tough To Take”, I can only think about LITA FORD here. The way Heather sings the first phrase, my mind immediately makes a connection with the past. If today’s music is able to do that, it is performed very well, I can assure you that much. And ROCK IGNITION made a nice trip to the days of hair metal with these five songs. The MCD closes with “Your Truth”, which is another song I can’t resist. These are the bands, that keep me going in 2008. And if you also like to relive these magical eighties, then you should definitely lend an ear to this marvellous release. Website: http://www.rockignition.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SCARLET SINS-Scarlet Sins (independent)
Wow, what an improvement! The sound on this new SCARLET SINS album shoots from the speakers right into my ears, almost destroying my poor eardrums. The dark, yet powerful sound, these girls create, simply beg to be heard this way. Let’s first introduce SCARLET SINS to you, before we start to give you some more information about these thirteen new tracks. SCARLET SINS consists of Sylvya Nuvynska on vocals, Christina Bishop on guitars, Tanya Nicklaus on bass and Elie Bertrand on drums. Their sound is groovy, dark, grungy and very powerful. And with all these ingredients, they created an unique sound of their own. “Let Go” is a good start already and in “Drown”, I hear the first highlight on this CD. The production of Richard Chycki, who already worked with great names like AEROSMITH and RUSH, is the perfect finishing touch to the powerful melodies by these ladies. Their grungy riffs could very well be from a band like ALICE IN CHAINS. While a melodramatic ballad like “With You” could have been penned for one of the latter OZZY OSBOURNE or ZAKK WYLDE’S BLACK LABEL SOCIETY albums. Obviously, a bridge was build by these ladies to connect the grungy sound of the nineties with the metal sound of this new millennium. A perfect example is the second highlight on this album for me: a song called “Reborn”. It blends these two aforementioned styles into one song. Sylvya’s dark voice fits perfectly to these songs. Thank God, she’s not the screaming kind, although she can create a lot of volume, if she wants to. “Are You Worth It” has some METALLICA influences in the riffs and you can hear some cool choir vocals in “Backstabber”. These ladies really rock my world with their music and in a flash I remember a band, called BOTTOM from NY. I wondered what happened to them? In “Broken”, Sylvya sings a bit like James Hetfield and gives it a real METALLICA treat. While “Entre” is a short acoustic intro to the last song on this strong debut album, which is called “No Arguments”. Let’s not forget this, ladies and gentlemen. SCARLET SINS may be an open book for us, but this is just the beginning of a hopefully long lasting career for these Canadian ladies. This debut album really knocked out all my teeth, I can tell you that much. I’m not a grunge fan, neither someone who likes the sound of newer heavy metal bands. But when it is played with so much passion, style and devotion, then it will certainly grab me by the throat. And these ladies really did a fantastic job here! Website: http://www.scarletsinsonline.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SKEW SISKIN-Peace Breaker (Monongo)
SKEW SISKIN sounds even more like MOTÖRHEAD than MOTÖRHEAD do in opener “Metal In Your Face”. And if that isn’t enough, they even spit out some more MOTÖRHEAD-like songs here, such as “We’re An Institution” and “Ridin’ With The Devil”. What an awesome power! SKEW SISKIN consists of Nina C. Alice, the female sister of Lemmy Kilminster, on vocals, Jim Voxx on guitar, Henning Menke on bass and Randy Black on drums. And the rock and roll train goes on at full speed with “Trouble Shooter”. “Hit You Harder” sounds in the best AC/DC tradition possible. Think about “Beating Around The Bush” to get some idea. Including a great guitar solo of course and a great lengthy instrumental part at the end of the song. “Who The Hell Are You” needs some special attention. We hear Wolf Hoffmann of ACCEPT as a special guest on guitar here. “War, Fire, Guns & Blood” sounds ultraheavy, while “Eva Braun Is Back In Town” is an odd title for an anti-nazi song. But the band is trying to show their antipathy against nazism. It’s a fast punky RAMONES-like song with a great hook and a cool introduction to the much slower “I Don’t Care”, which has some SAXON influences and features Ivan Kral on guitar. This man has previously played with PATTI SMITH and IGGY POP and really gives the song what it needs. It’s very groovy and it has got a great steady beat. “Loser” is on next, followed by “Can’t Hear You” (Hey Hey You). All the more reason to turn up the volume up a little, I should say. Make the ears of your neighbours bleed, because that’s what this record is all about. “Peace Breaker” is the loudest, meanest, sexiest, most energetic and powerful album in the history of SKEW SISKIN and they can be damn proud of that. If MOTÖRHEAD and AC/DC are your kings in the heavy metal scene, then you must have a listen to this album, too. Chances are that you will add them to your list of favorites. The CD closes with “Shoot The Rats”, which sounds quite a bit like “Eat The Rich”. You can read all the news about this German band on their website: http://www.skewsiskin.net. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SYLVER MYST-Emotions Revealed (Sirenette Music Industries)
SYLVER MYST can be added to the lengthy list of Dutch talented bands with a female singer. Think about WITHIN TEMPTATION, AUTUMN, EPICA, AFTER FOREVER, etc.etc. and the list goes on and on. With “Emotions Revealed”, this band skips some stations and put themselves directly into the premier league of the so-called gothic metal scene. Although the music of SYLVER MYST has got much more to offer than the ordinairy gothic metal outings. The real work starts after the short instrumental intro “Predestination”. The lengthy “A Life’s Tale” shows you, that there is a lot of resemblance to the bands, that I named here earlier. But of course you can add international names like NIGHTWISH as well. In this long epic song, the voice of Marjolein Hüsken is the most eye-catching part. She also plays the flute, by the way. Something you don’t hear that often, except DELPHIAN, who have a great flute player in Aniek Janssen. In “Loutred” (and we waited for this moment already!), we hear a brutal male voice added to the sound. So far so good. In songs like “Depth Of Illusion” and “Devoted Yet Unable” though, we are treated to the more progressive side of the band. In these songs, the instrumental capabilities of the various band members are shown very well. Clearly, this band is going much further than being an gothic metal band such-and-such. The voice of Marjolein sometimes comes close to Tarja Turunen, when she sings with her best soprano voice, which she can see as a big compliment here. Besides Marjolein, the band consists of Martijn In ‘t Veld on keyboards, Didier Roumen on guitars, Rob van Dijk on guitar and brutal male grunts, Marco Brugmans on bass and Marc Jaspers on drums. “Waiting For A New Day” starts off very happy at first and I would almost call it the odd one out on the album, but the keyboard solo in the middle of the song lifts it up to another great song, that fits very well to the rest of the album. An album, that contains thirteen tracks (including an USA bonus track), and has a playing time of almost a full hour. An hour, in which SYLVER MYST reveals their emotions and wins the heart of another listener. Website: http://www.sylvermyst.nl. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

TEMUJIN-1000 Tears (independent)
TEMUJIN hails from Australia, and mainly consists of two people. We have Karl Lean (ex-NOTHING SACRED) on guitars, bass and drums and Kelly on vocals and keyboards. On this debut album we also hear Buddy Snape and Sham Hughes on guitars. The thirteen songs have a playing time of about a full hour. The music of TEMUJIN is a mix of fantasy metal and goth metal with a touch of dark, doomy metal, all with the riffing guitar of Karl as centrepoint and backed by the dreamy vocals of Kelly, the final result is a pleasure to listen to. The guitar solos of Karl make this dreamy music sound heavy. It’s like two artists have agreed on a compromise here. Kelly adding her beautiful voice to the songs, as long as Karl can play his loud riffing and solos as well. This may sound like a strange agreement, but it works quite well and prove is given on this debut album. “Spiral” is a short instrumental track, in which Karl shows us that he can also play the bass guitar very well. “Blue Jay” is one of the highlights on the album for me, because of the energetic power it contains. In “Taken” you will hear, that the voice of Kelly shows some resemblance to Anneke van Giersbergen (ex-THE GATHERING, now AGUA DE ANNIQUE), Christina Scabbia (LACUNA COIL) and Amy Lee (EVANESCENCE). “Sheltered” is another song, in which Karl shows his skills with some flashing guitarwork. While in “Throwing Stones”, Karl adds some male vocals to the album as well. Considering the fact, that this band did everything by themselves, we can say that “1000 Tears” has become a beautiful debut album, where power and emotion are in perfect balance with eachother in every song. The bands My Space site can be found at http://www.myspace.com/temujin1 [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

3 KISSES-Nut Job (independent)
3 KISSES hails from Austin, Texas. Their sixteen track album “Nut Job” is worthy of forty-five minutes of party punk rock music. They open with “Let’s Dance”, which sounds a bit like “Footloose” by KENNY LOGGINS. The other songs could be categorized as very catchy party punk rock in the well-known DONNAS, JET, BLONDIE, OFFSPRING or RAMONES tradition. “Pass Me By” has got a nice break at the end of the song. Most songs are in the well-known three minute range, which keeps them tight, short and catchy. So it’s a real pleasure to listen to songs like “Girls’ Night”, “Undone” and “Change It All”. You will sing the words right from the beginning. That’s the magic of writing good songs. And as this is already their third album, 3 KISSES is not unknown to this phenomenon. They have been playing over two hundred and fifty shows, since they were founded in the beginning of 2004, which is more than average I should say. 3 KISSES consists of Tish Meeks on vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar and keyboards, Tony Meeks on lead guitar, rhythm guitar and backing vocals, John Amelang on bass and backing vocals and Tim Legan on drums.Tish and Tony were featured in the famous television show “Wife Swapping” (similar to “Jouw Vrouw, Mijn Vrouw” in Holland), where they reached nine million viewers. The song “Swapping Wives” is to be heard on this album as well. In the normal version and in the acoustic version, which is a couple of seconds longer. As you can see, this band is ready to entertain your world in every way possible. Check them out at their website: http://www.3kisses.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

TOURETTES-Treason Songs (Armageddon Music/Rock Inc.)
How much brutality can you take? TOURETTES will test you with twelve new songs capturing over forty minutes of explosive metal songs. The band was founded in 2001 and already from the start, they are searching for the thin line between sick but allowable, and totally over the top musical madness. The dynamic and powerful madness is shot from the minds of Ashley Manning on guitar and Michele Madden on vocals. The rhythm section consists of Ross Empson on bass and Michael Quigley on drums. The music isn’t as extreme as you might think. Although a song like “Miss Misogny” bashes firmly against my eardrums. It’s what they call ‘inhuman’ in my book, I can tell you that much. Don’t think, you will become a happy person after listening to these twelve ‘treason songs’, although musically this doesn’t sound more extreme than the average death metal band. It’s the messages here, that are totally sick and brutal. The high speed attacks give you no time to breath. It’s the speed, that will kill you. In combination with the sick growls of Michele, who shocks many metalheads with her brutal tongue. Besides that, I can see many heads already propeller to a great song like “D.N.A.”, which was one of the highlights on the album to me, next to the doomy “Trinity”. The beginning of “Hope Springs Eternal” already predicts an exciting explosion of madness. But nothing can top the extreme speed the band likes to express in “3 AM Quarter”, when they rush in NAPALM DEATH-like speed towards the end of the album. Sick, extreme sickness, TOURETTES, I guess this explains it all. It’s the sickest stuff, that ever left Australia in years, so get these “Treason Songs” before it’s too late. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

TRANSENTIENCE-Paradox (promo CD) (independent)
What a beautiful and crystal clear voice! The Dutch band TRANSENTIENCE really knows to surprise me with their four track promo CD. The first thing, that stroke me, was the excellent quality of the voice of Melaina Mulder. The music of the band comes close to bands like WITHIN TEMPTATION and NIGHTWISH. However, both comparisons go wrong, when the band introduces their power riffs to the first song “Falling”. No matter what you think, fact is that the music of TRANSENTIENCE bears quality and a lot of quality. Maybe “The Inquisition” sounds even more bombastic than NIGHTWISH did or NIGHTWISH does nowadays. Please don’t think, that this band is some kind of NIGHTWISH tribute band, because they certainly have their own identity. I liked the title track “Paradox” of this four track demo a lot. The beginning sounds very exciting and Melaina’s voice is again the biggest attraction here. “Endgame” closes this interesting promo CD. TRANSENTIENCE will definitely find their way in the crowded Dutch metal scene. Good quality bands always do. If you happen to listen to this promo CD and you like what you hear, the band is still searching for a label, that is willing to distribute and market their music. Besides vocalist Melaina Mulder, TRANSENTIENCE consists of Kace Huiszoon on drums, Kristof Elst on guitar and Rene Bouwer on bass. The band is still searching for a suitable keyboard player. Musically, the CD cover might put you into the wrong direction at first, because of its pagan black metal looks, but this is definitely not the case. Don’t forget to check the band’s website at http://www.transentience.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

TARJA TURUNEN-Winter Storm (Universal Music)
Here’s another battle between NIGHTWISH and TARJA TURUNEN. We already know what NIGHTWISH sounds like with their new vocalist. What will the new TARJA TURUNEN album sound like? Let’s give you a brief description first, before we give you a much more detailed vision of the album. I think, that “Winter Storm” turned out to be a killer album, and every NIGHTWISH fan will really love it. And in my world, it even sounds much better than the new NIGHTWISH album. But this conclusion may only relate to yours truly here and is my personal opinion. The album is diverse, has got some great vocals and a lot of musical highlights. It opens with a short intstrumental, called “Ite, Missa Est”. This goes on for barely twenty seconds and then Tarja already knows to surprise us with a song called “I Walk Alone”, which you can see as one of the highlights on the album. She couldn’t have chosen a better song to becoming the first single off the album. The sound comes clear to her previous work with NIGHTWISH, and the title is a tongue in cheeck reference to her goodbye to NIGHTWISH. In “The Reign”, Tarja shows that she still has got a remarkable voice. A voice, she will use much differently further down the album. This variety in styles and different voice input, simply brings Tarja one step higher on the ladder than NIGHTWISH. “My Little Phoenix” is a nice example of the style change in Tarja’s singing. But there is more where that came from, and sometimes her singing even refers to the magical voice of KATE BUSH. Let’s not move too fast forward though. “My Little Phoenix” contains a very important instrumental part, too. The beautiful bombastic parts and loud guitar riffs turn this song into something really special. “Die Alive” has got a magic bombastic mid-piece, which is very powerful indeed. It will be Tarja’s second single, taken from this new album. “Oasis” is on next, which is a short piece of rest. It’s a very beautiful song, which shows the magic, that Tarja is able to create on this album. There’s no bigger step to the next song on this album. Many people will probably call it the odd one out, but I think it is very brave to cover ALICE COOPER’s “Poison” here. Tarja did it and her version sounds really marvellous. “Damned And Divine” already has some of the KATE BUSH influences, that I was talking about earlier. It continues in the fast and furious “Ciarán’s Well”, in which Tarja’s voice sounds very differently. This creates a more surreal atmosphere, which seems to fit pretty well on the album. My conclusion is, that Tarja has finally spread her wings, showing what she is really capable of, which is in fact so much more than what we heard of her already. The music of NIGHTWISH limited her abilities, but now she’s able to show the world that she doesn’t need NIGHTWISH to create a good album. The album closes with the ‘artist version’and IN EXTREMO remix of “I Walk Alone” (including all the medieval instruments), added as bonus tracks to the limited digipack album, next to “Damned Vampires & Gothic Divine”. The twenty-one songs on this release have a total playing time of seventy-five mintues, which I call value for money. The bonus DVD in this limited package contains a photo gallery, three versions of “I Walk Alone” and the making of the album “Winter Storm”. Congratulations to Tarja on this great comeback album!! You’re not alone anymore, because your fans will stand beside you. Prove was already given, when Tarja played the Camden‘ Electric Ballroom in London last December. I’ve never have seen such a long queue of people, waiting to see this Finnish metal diva to play live. No winter storm can stop this queen of ice anymore. Website: http://www.tarjaturunen.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

VARIOUS ARTISTS-Tribute To ANGEL WITCH (independent)
There are plenty of ladies to review on this great tribute CD. First of all, this is a mighty fine initiative. Whereas many artists are following the latest trends and hypes, there are still enough bands that are aware of what is really essential in the world of hard rock and heavy metal. I think, when you are contributing to an ANGELWITCH tribute CD, no matter how underground you are, you know damn well how essential this band was for the history of heavy metal. And when I see how many female fronted bands there are on this compilation / tribute album, it makes me feel confident about the future of heavy metal in general. The CD contains fifteen ANGEL WITCH covers and runs for almost 66,6 minutes. Try to beat that, motherf*ckers! FIRE opens this ‘must have’ item with “Confused”, followed by EARTH FLIGHT and their “White Witch”. The input of female member Sabina Teleki on keyboards may not be that huge, but hey she’s there, playing one of my favorite ANGELWITCH songs. VOREX from Brazil is on next with a great version of another favorite of mine “Gorgon”, from that ultra fantastic debut of ANGELWITCH. CUSTARD chose to do the title track of the “Frontal Assault” album, which easily stood the test of time. I didn’t know about a band, called WITCHES MARK, before. They hail from Austin, Texas and in Sandra Torres, they have a female keyboard player in their ranks. They chose to do a song, that is perhaps a little less well-known, but therefore even more interesting. “Something Wrong” is indeed an odd choice, but that’s what makes this sampler so interesting. You don’t only discover new, interesting bands here, but you also relive the many beautiful songs, that Kevin Heybourne and his band wrote over the years. Okay, until now we have heard bands that decided to stay close to the original sound of these classics. TORMENT however plays some kind of a MOTÖRHEAD version of “Sweet Danger”. That’s cool with me. They still pay tribute to ANGELWITCH in their very own way. I really liked the EMERALD (Switzerland) rendition of “Dream World” here. It’s played with great power, high pinching vocals where needed and a great guitar solo. Let’s not forget, that Kevin isn’t only well-known for writing some fascinating songs, but he also provided the world with some magnificent licks. CRYSTAL VIPER is one of those bands, that come in with enormous power! The intro sounded like “Neon Knights” in the first few seconds, but their version of “Atlantis” is top notch material in my book. “Atlantis” may well be forgotten, but CRYSTAL VIPER is one of the rulers of the newer metal bands out there, mainly because of the powerful voice of Marta ‘Leather Witch’ Gabriel. The song “Angel Witch” is very special indeed. It’s been performed here by RAISING FEAR from Italy, who did a really good job. Next is another band, who decided to give the original song a little twist. “Evil Games”, performed by doom masters NEVER COMES SILENCE give their dark, atmospheric doomy sound to this NWOBHM anthem. Tanja Regmann is their female vocalist and Veronique Erdeli plays the violin on this song. They’ll give you an evil time, playing six minutes and sixty-six seconds on this mighty sampler. BAD INFLUENCE is already well-known amongst our readers, I think. Their rendition to this album is “Angel Of Death”, which is a great choice. Julia Pruns shows again how important a decent guitar solo is in a song like this. LUCIFER’S SON is on next with “Straight From Hell”. Here we find back members of the old school heavy metal influenced band UPWARDS OF ENDTIME and Tony Truglio (ex-LIEGE LORD). Check it out! ELVENPATH surprised me with their icely high screams in the beginning of “Loser”. Anastasia Schmidt plays the guitar in this band and rocks out completely on this one. While DAWN OF WINTER sounds like it will never be summer again. Dark, doomy and they give “Sorceress” a nice twist and new face. NOT FRAGILE closes this marvellous piece of heavy metal history with “Extermination Day”. I raise my sword for all these high priests and priestesses of heavy metal, who took the opportunity to pay tribute to one of the most underrated band in the heavy metal scene: ANGELWITCH. This CD is limited to 666 copies, so buy the f*cking thing before it is too late. (I used the word f*cking twice now, and when the counter stops at three it’s a record, which tells you that this is an essential buy for every f*cking metal fan out there. And that is four times!) http://angelwitch.unbrokenmetal.de. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

VARIOUS ARTISTS-Sirens (Sonic Cathedral)
This compilation CD contains fifteen bands with female vocalists, worthy of almost eighty minutes of a diversity in music. Before I start writing this review, I must say that I always like these kind of initiations. Especially because you get to know a lot of different bands at the same time. Well, here you go... The CD starts with CRISIS, pounding out "Nomad". Brutal female vocals with a thundering rhythm and strong riffs. Karyn screams her lungs out on this one. That’s the way, I like it! Then we continue with "In The Bodiless Heart" of PECCATUM. What a change in music style! Acoustic instruments, choir vocals. Music to sit down and relax. But not for long, because when the guitars take off, they unleash the power as well. Creating an atmosphere, which feels like the band is playing in your living room, quiet and cosy and at times a little rebellious. THE GATHERING is on next with "Broken Glass". Their experimental music sounds a bit odd to me at times. I’m from the heavy metal generation, you know. But despite this, Anneke has got a very lovely voice. Although their music does sound a bit psychedelic, especially at the end of the song. ANTIMATTER continues in this style with their rendition "The Art Of A Soft Landing". Experimental parts topped with the beautiful voice of Michelle Richfield. Oh, and Anathema fans can lend their ears to this song as well without any problem. SUBTERANEAN MASQUERADE is a band I’ve never heard of before. They present us their song "Suspended Animation Dreams". It’s a nice continuation of the music style, we heard by Antimatter, with the exception that they add a bit more PINK FLOYD-ish accent in their guitar solos here and there. STAR OF ASH is also a new name to me. "Death Salutes Atropos" is again rather experimental, which puts the progressive parts next to industrial-like sounds. Think about SKEPTICAL MINDS here to get an idea. I was nicely surprised to see CIRRHA NIVA on this sampler as well. The band continued without their female bassplayer/vocalist, who pursued her career in DIAL. This is from the latest album they recorded with her, a song called "Le Parade". It already contains the atmosphere, that Liselotte wants to create in her songs. A big surprise to your ears, topped with some high quality prog rock musicianship, constantly asking the listener for their attention. The best song for me so far. OATHEAN didn’t ring a bell to me either. Their "Scent Of Longing" sounds atmospheric at first, but after the violin puts some more energy into the song, it turns into a melodic doomy, black metal tune, including some male grunting. The band was originally called ODIN and rather surprisingly to some people, they hail from South Korea. Yes, even there they have discovered melodic black metal. Vocals are done by Do-Su Kim, the female member of the band. MADDER MORTEM are from Norway. This dark doom, gothic band is a good mix of male maniacal screams and a normal sounding female voice. Not the angel-like or emotional soft voice, but a normal singing voice. The repetative riffs add a heavy ingredient to the dark sound of this band. "Jigsaw" is the song added to this compilation, which sounds a bit like EVANESCENCE in the vocal parts. AINA is another atmospheric rendition, including some piano music. The short but sweet song is called "Rape Of Oria". If you’re more interested in a WITHIN TEMPTATION-like gothic metal approach, then I can recommend the ASRAI song "Pale Light" to you. An uptempo song and in your imagination you can see the long hair of the fans waving, while they bang their heads to this music. AFTER FOREVER are the kings and queen of bombast (next to EPICA, who are also on this release), and prove is already given at the beginning of "Beautiful Emptiness". Bombastic orchestration, beautiful female vocals of Floor Jansen, a brutal male grunt and heavy riffs are the main ingredients, that closes the emptiness, whatever they are singing about in this song. A weird ending, by the way. After that, we’re "Coming Home" with AMARAN from Sweden. Meaning, that the speed goes up and the power, too. Power metal is what we get here. I like their sound very much, it adds even more variation to this compilation. EPICA needs no futher introduction. One of their most well-known songs, "The Phantom Agony" is already a classic in the gothic metal scene. And another great bombastic anthem from the low lands. The CD closes with "The Delores Lesion" of a band called LILITU, who disperse their dark, melodic death metal messages here. The band hails from Atlanta, USA and this is the title track of their debut album. The main conclusion I would like to add to this review is, that there is such a wide scope in the metal scene. But this compilation almost covers it all. It definitely proves, that female musicians have spread their wings and they are anticipating in all the different music styles available. They’re no longer restricted to gothic metal only. Instead, they belong to brutal death and black metal, as well as atmospheric experimental music. "Sirens" refers to a synonym for a female voice, in my opinion. Maybe not all the songs will be music to your ears. But if you want to hear a good overview of what the input of the female voice in the metal scene is all about, than "Sirens" is a very good start. It leaves out the bigger names like WITHIN TEMPTATION and NIGHTWISH, but don’t we all know them already? It also gives you the opportunity to check out the lesser well-known bands, that are interesting enough to listen to.Website: http://www.soniccathedral.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ANN WILSON-Hope & Glory (Decca)
ANN WILSON is one of the most talented singers in the hard rock scene. I already called her the female version of ROBERT PLANT once. And to me, she is just that. And when I heard, that she had recently released a solo album with cover songs, I got very excited. The album contains twelve cover songs performed by the frontlady of HEART, Ann Wilson. The album has a playing time of about fifty minutes and starts with a song, which is part of the live set of HEART for a while now. It’s the PINK FLOYD cover “Goodbye Blue Sky”, taken from their album “The Wall”. Ann’s sister Nancy Wilson is assisting her on guitar. There are many duets and guests on this album, which makes it very special indeed. Just listen to “Where To Now St. Peter?”, where Ann is acompanied by nobody else but Sir ELTON JOHN. Okay, not very metal, but you must agree with me, that ELTON JOHN meant a lot to the history of rock and roll in his early days. “Jackson” is a duet, that Ann did with K.D. LANG. “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” is a duet with WYNONA JUDD and a cover by THE ANIMALS. A great rocking song, which is just what Ann needs. I don’t think, I need to explain the “Immigrant Song” to our readers. If yes, you’re reading the wrong website here. Ann gave this song a subtle twist and turned it into something that sounds slightly different than the LED ZEPPELIN classic. Which is the power, that this album has got to offer. Sometimes you stay very close to the original song, while other times, it’s nice to give it your own signature. Which she perfectly did here. “Darkness, Darkness” brings the sisters back together again in this JESSE COLIN YOUNG song. A very nice surprise was the duet, that Ann did with GRETCHEN WILSON in the CREADENCE CLEAR WATER REVIVAL classic “Bad Moon Rising”, including the fiddle playing and ‘yeehaw feeling’. “War Of Man” is another duet, this time with ALISON KRAUS. She is a well-known blue grass singer, who recently recorded a very successful album with ROBERT PLANT and they are also going on tour this summer. Alison and Ann sing this song together, which is originally done by NEIL YOUNG. “Get Together” of THE YOUNGBLOODS is not very well-known to me, but it sounds like a very nice easy listening ballad to me, topped with the voice of Ann. Guests on this song are Nancy Wilson, WYNONA JUDD and DEANA CARTER on harmony vocals. “Isolation” of JOHN LENNON is sung by Ann alone this time. I think, this song is really special to her, just like the “Immigrant Song” and she didn’t want to share it with somebody else. Shawn Colvin and Rufus Wainwright are guesting on the BOB DYLAN classic “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall”, which Ann slowed down a bit, and gave it a face of her own. The CD closes with “Little Problems, Little Lies”, which is the only non-cover song on this album. This new song shows us again the brilliant talents of ANN WILSON. The diversity of material on this album is huge and I think that every music fan will have a good time with this one. Website: http://www.heart-music.com/ [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

YEAH YEAH YEAHS-Is Is (EP) (Polydor)
Karen O and her YEAH YEAH YEAHS are back with this five track EP, that runs for almost twenty minutes. I’ve always liked the energy around this band. The band rocks, while Karen steals the show pretty easily with her dynamic moves and loud screaming, punky voice. Her music is difficult to categorise though. It comes close to punk with a noisy, experimental undertone. Try to describe “Rockers To Swallow” for example. You won’t get far, especially when you’re used to reviewing heavy metal CDs. Somehow the music does appeal to me, because of the power and the energy that it has. In “Down Boy” Karen has got normal voice, which is pretty clear. But the music sounds a bit more excentric on this one. It goes either way. Or the music or Karen’s voice make sure that the songs of the YEAH YEAH YEAHS will never reach the charts. Their devoted fans don’t mind at all, they’re just crazy what the band is creating. Charts or no charts. “Kiss Kiss” and “Isis” are new wave based songs with connections to SIOUXIE AND THE BANSHEES in a way. Somehow, these are the ‘more easy to comprehend’ songs here. The EP closes with “10 x 10” which is dominated by a groovy, steady beat and a pumping bass line. Like I mentioned before, any description is irrelevant with Karen O and the YEAH YEAH YEAHS. They do what they want to and they just like to please their fans with their music. And with these five new songs, they will definitely succeed here. Website: http://www.yeahyeahyeahs.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ZNOWHITE-Act Of God (Metal Mind Productions)
Metal Mind Productions has released the back catalogue of ZNOWHITE on two CDs. And they will surely please a lot of heavy metal fans worldwide. Some of these items were very difficult to trace. Mainly because of bad distribution. Anyway, what we have here is a re-release of these items. We all know the story of ZNOWHITE. We explained the rich history of this band in our ‘Back To The Past’ story in Metal Maidens #16. “Act Of God” comes with a biography and all the lyrics. It contains nine songs and has a running time of about fifty minutes. ZNOWHITE played speed metal and added a lot of melody in their music as well. Great riffs and very fast guitar solos. Most eye-catching person in the band is female vocalist Nicole Lee, who has a raunchy voice and sounds even rawer than LEE AARON or BETSY BITCH, when they surprised the scene with their vocal abilities. Listening to “Act Of God” right now, I realise that the band was ahead of their time. Opener “To The Least Breath” is a good example of their great craftsmanship. The riffs seem to come from a machine gun, the drummer imitates a rolling thunder and Nicole’s voice tops it all. The guitar solo explodes right in your face. It’s metal to the max. And utterly strange, that almost nobody seemed to realise how good this music was, when it was originally released. Anyway, I am glad that the band did their own thing back then and never gave up. Listen to the innovative addings in “Thunderdome”. Not too many bands would think of this in the eighties, but ZNOWHITE did and in my opinion they created something special. Highlight of the album is the almost ten minutes lasting “Something Wicked (This Way Comes)”. It’s so great to hear this album again, after we wrote the history of the band in our magazine. What happened to Nicole Lee remains unknown until today, but the legacy she left behind must be an ‘act of God’!
Important Note: The sticker on the CD tells you that the liner notes were written by Ian Tafoya. Please take the time to read the ZNOWHITE story on http://www.metalmaidens.com and compare the text with the liner notes in the booklet. The text is almost literally nicked from our story. No thanks go out to Metal Mind Productions for using our article and ignoring our copyright policy. Please try to come with an original text yourself next time and do not pretend that you were in contact with one of the band members, who wrote liner notes for the re-release of this album, because you just ripped the text from the internet. Way to go, Metal Mind Productions! [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

ZNOWHITE-All Hail To Thee/Kick ‘Em When They’re Down/ Live Suicide (Metal Mind Productions)
Three EPs on one silver disc, nineteen songs and a full hour of timeless speed metal. That’s what you get, when you listen to the three in one re-release of ZNOWHITE. Although the band never had a major breakthrough, their music was crazy enough to create a nice buzz in the underground scene. The smokey voice of Nicole Lee, next to the thundering speed metal played by Ian and Sparks Tafoya and Scott Schafer were an excellent match. And if I listen to a band like IGNITOR nowadays, I can hear a certain resemblance between Nicole’s voice and the voice of Erika of IGNITOR. The speed metal sound may refer to early EXODUS and METALLICA, but without the intention of becoming commercial. Just listen to the crazy madness in songs like “Sledgehammer”, “Saturday Night” or “Do Or Die”. It all sounds so fresh and innovative. Especially the drum parts on “All Hail To Thee” are more than just a speedy roll on the toms. While in the beginning of “Never Felt Like This”, they even seem to mix speed metal with blues. Of course, the end result is total metal, but when you listen to it at first, this could very well turn into a loud blues song as well. The beginning of “Rock City Destination” sounds very much like early SAXON, which they can take as a huge compliment of course. But I really do believe, that Graham Olliver and Paul Quinn never cranked out such crazy guitar work, than on this song. Although they might have come close. The production of the “Kick ‘Em When They’re Down” material is covered with dust, but I am glad the music isn’t. Just listen to the fast axework in “Live For The Weekend” for example. The short songs stick to your brain and they constantly send messages to your nerves, making you bang your head up and down. The production of the live album, recorded in Cleveland in December 1985 is even worse. It’s bootleg quality, but it perfectly puts down the energy of ZNOWHITE. “Hellbent” (no, not for leather this time) is pushed down your throat in no time. You hardly have the time to tell the band if it is loud enough for you, because they kickstart right after that with “Bringing The Hammer Down”. In “There’s No Tomorrow”, they take back a little speed at first, but then push the pedal to the metal again. In “Too Late”, they even added a short piece, that will remind every diehard rock fan of THIN LIZZY, which was one of the biggest inspirations of the band. The last song of this dusty live recording can be related to the band itself. It’s a song called “Rest In Peace”. ZNOWHITE vanished into thin air after they had released the “Act Of God” album in 1988. They committed ‘live suicide’, but the legacy remains.
Important Note: The sticker on the CD tells you that the liner notes were written by Ian Tafoya. Please take the time to read the ZNOWHITE story on http://www.metalmaidens.com and compare the text with the liner notes in the booklet. The text is almost literally nicked from our story. No thanks go out to Metal Mind Productions for using our article and ignoring our copyright policy. Please try to come with an original text yourself next time and do not pretend that you were in contact with one of the band members, who wrote liner notes for the re-release of this album, because you just ripped the text from the internet. Way to go, Metal Mind Productions! [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

ANOUK-Good God (CDsingle) (EMI)
“Good God” is the first single of ANOUK, taken from her new album. Which is an excellent choice, in my opinion. It was released a couple of weeks before the album and a lot of people were obviously really excited about it. It’s quite funny, because this is by far the wildest song on “Who’s Your Momma” and the other songs on the album are much different and more laid back. The single version contains two songs. Let me rephrase that. It contains two versions of “Good God”. The album version and the instrumental version. Alltogether worthy of five minutes of exciting rock and a nice pre-taster of the new album. The second single comes out pretty soon, after the album is released. I hope, this one will contain some exclusive material, because who is waiting to hear the instrumental version of “Good God”? It will become damn quiet. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ARCH ENEMY-Revolution Begins (CDsingle) (Century Media)
The comeback of Christopher Amott was quite a surprise. It did good to the new album of ARCH ENEMY, in my opinion. The single, taken from the album, contains some nice bonus material, that we’d like to bring to your attention here. The CDsingle contains four songs and has a total playing time of about seventeen minutes. It starts with “Revolution Begins” and “Blood On Your Hands”. The bonus additions are pretty spectacular. First we hear the QUEENSRYCHE cover “Walk In The Shadows”. An odd choice maybe, but it proves that the roots of ARCH ENEMY are really in the roaring eighties. It’s a nice tribute to the Seattle-based band and really something different than what we all would expect from ARCH ENEMY. QUEENSRYCHE on thrash. The CD closes with two live songs in one, namely “I Am Legend / Out For Blood”. The songs were recorded in Buenos Aires, Argentina in January 2007. The audience goes wild and the band is at their very best, when they hit the stage. That’s a short description of this great single release. http://www.archenemy.net. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

KREZIP-All My Life (CDsingle)(Sony/BMG)
KREZIP celebrates their tenth anniversary, hip hip hooray. Their new album “Plug It In” already turned out to be very successful and somehow everything this band touches turns into gold. The new single is a beautiful ballad, called “All My Life”. It’s no metal at all, but somehow the voice of Jacqueline is beautiful to listen to, so it easily catches my attention. The second song on this seven minute single is a live version of “Forget What I Said”, recorded in 2005 at Giel’s radio show. Jacqueline and a piano, a relationship that I hope will last for a long time. Here’s to the next ten years KREZIP, happy birthday to you all. http://www.krezip.nl. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

3 KISSES-Wake Up (CDsingle) (independent)
In addition to their album “Nut Job”, 3 KISSES also released this three track single, sponsored by Jägermeister. The three tracker contains ten minutes of Austin, Texas party punk music. They start off with “Wake Up”. No problem after playing this song at full speed. Okay, we woke up, what’s up next? We have to earn some money, so let’s go to our “Nut Job”. We are dealing with the ‘radio edit’ here. The three songs are good examples of what the full album is all about. No-nonsense rock and roll with a catchy attitude to it. What’s next, when you’re done with your job? 3 KISSES provides us with a suitable solution here. “Let’s Dance” is on next, which still reminds me of KENNY LOGGIN’s “Footloose”. Here’s the life of hard working people like you and me, divided over three songs, explained in ten minutes. “Wake Up”, go to our “Nut Job” and go crazy after that in “Let’s Dance”. Check out this great band, that consists of Tish Meeks on vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar and keyboards, Tony Meeks on lead guitar, rhythm guitar and backing vocals, John Amelang on bass and backing vocals and Tim Legan on drums. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

WITHIN TEMPTATION-All I Need (CDsingle) (Sony/BMG)
The singles of WITHIN TEMPTATION are always a safe buy, because of the nice bonus tracks. Whether it is audio or video, WITHIN TEMPTATION always spoil their fans with a nice bonus track to add to their collection. With “All I Need”, we get five songs, which play for over twenty minutes. Besides the single version and the album version of the aforementioned song, we also hear the demo versions of “The Last Time”, “Frozen” and “Our Solemn Hour”. They are really the early stage versions of the ones, that made it to the album. WITHIN TEMPTATION cares about their fans, which is a good thing in my opinion. http://www.withintemptation.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

[Updated: February 19, 2008]

-->MORE CD REVIEWS.......