CD REVIEWS


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


Summer 2006:

AFTER FOREVER-Mea Culpa (Transmission Records)
The transfer of AFTER FOREVER to a new record label must have been a good opportunity for Transmission Records to launch this compilation album. And I have to admit, that this is a ‘must have’ for all the fans of this Dutch gothic metal band. Another reason, they released this compilation is the celebration of ten years of AFTER FOREVER. In thirty-two tracks, we run through the whole career of this very successful band. And even for the diehard fans, this compilation has become rather interesting. It consists of non-album tracks, alternate versions, rarities and of course all the well-known hits. The two CDs, including a forty-four page booklet, has become a real treat for all the fans and it also means the end of an era, that had its ups and downs. The first CD captures the beginning of the band. Let’s say the time in which Mark Jansen was still part of the band. When he left to form EPICA, the band kept creating that sphereful bombastic symphonic sound, for which we know them so well. The music from that period of time is captured on the second CD of this release. The strong voice of Floor Jansen remained and we can almost say, that she became the radiant key figure in the band. And in our opinion, the success of AFTER FOREVER stands or falls with the sound of this frontlady. When Floor would have been just an average frontlady, the success of the band would never be so fruitful. A drummer or a bassplayer, how essential they might seem, can be replaced at any time, and nobody will probably hear the difference. But ladies like Sharon den Adel, Simone Simons, Anneke van Giersbergen and Floor Jansen are inreplacable. They put such a great mark on the music and the sound of the band, that it’s hard to imagine how they would sound without them. Non-album tracks sound good enough to add on any album. A song like “For The Time Being” is a nice example of this. When you listen to it, it doesn’t sound any different than most of the other songs. That’s what they call consistent quality. It’s also nice to hear some collaboration with other great names from the metal scene. Together with Damian Wilson (AYREON) and Arjen Lucassen (AYREON), AFTER FOREVER plays the QUEEN cover “Who Wants To Live Forever”. The second cover, that we can find back on this compilation, is the single version of “The Evil That Men Do” (IRON MAIDEN cover). With Sharon den Adel (WITHIN TEMPTATION), they recorded a duet in “Beyond Me”, and together with Marco Hietala of NIGHTWISH, they recorded “Face Your Demons”. Well, for the band there are no demons at this present time. They now step into a new chapter of their road to success. A road, that will hopefully last for a very long time. The Transmission chapters are closed, and the “Mea Culpa – Restrospective” is a beautiful, one hundred and forty-five minutes lasting, result of this. Website: http://www.afterforever.com. [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ANOUK-Is Alive (Virgin Records)
In December 2005, ANOUK played several shows at the Ahoy in Rotterdam. One of these gigs (Dec. 17) is now available on a double live CD, and DVD. The DVD is reviewed elsewhere in our DVD section and the double live CD here. It contains all the hit singles of ANOUK, plus some of her less known songs. All together, you can listen to twenty-seven songs, that have a very good sound quality. ANOUK starts off with a very short version of “Love”. While in “Don’t”, the music of ANOUK goes beyond the ordinairy three minute pop song. The band raises the roof for the first time during “RU Kiddin Me”, which is also one of my favorite songs. “Sacrifice” is sung in the most sensitive way possible. After that, there is a two minute break with some opera like singing, before the blonde diva returns with “Who Cares”, which sounds groovy and heavy. “The Dark” is definitely another highlight, which has some real wild bass playing. It is obvious, that ANOUK’s band is a very important factor, too. But of course, it’s the singer herself, who creates the whole show. The first CD closes with “Everything”. The second CD contains almost every hit single. Absolute classics from the Dutch pop rock scene of today. “Hail” opens with HENDRIX like guitarwork, which creates a jam like atmosphere for a couple of moments. While in “I Live For You”, the band totally freaks out in a long instrumental journey. It’s really a spectacular change to a ballad like “Michel” after this, but it gives the band some time to recover. I am glad, that “Nobody’s Wife” is played the way it should be. Not the ridiculous BOB MARLEY AND THE WAILERS kind of shit, but ANOUK rocking it out to the max here. “Home Is In My Head” is some kind of long introduction to the band members, who can do a short solo spot here. With “Girl”, the band raises the roof just one more time. Finally, “Lost” brings the audience in extasy for the last time. For one hundred and forty minutes long, ANOUK shows us why she is the grand lady of the Dutch pop and rock music. Sensitive in ballads and heavy and groovy in rock songs. It’s all there, and it sounds like pure magic. I did miss her first hit single “Mood Indigo” though. The fans probably won’t bother too much, but it would have made the ANOUK story even more complete. A must have for every fan of this Dutch rock vixen. Website: http://www.anouk.com. [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

APPARITION-Drowned In Questions (Casket Music)
APPARITION is derived from the gothic death metal band ASPYXIATOR. Formed in 2004, they now present us their debut album, called “Drowned In Questions”. Gone are the death metal influences, and the band sets out for the gothic metal path. The twelve songs on this album show us a young band, that creates a mix between gothic metal and rock. It may not get really heavy, but it’s a real pleasure to listen to the beautiful voice of blonde frontlady Annabelle Harris. The keyboards are played by the dark haired, second lady in the band, Jen Lowe. And especially in a song like “Lost Inside”, she shows that she’s capable of creating a beautiful gothic atmosphere. This song is certainly one of the highlights of the album for me, because of the way it is build up.The bio talks about LACUNA COIL and EVANESCENCE as references to describe the sound of the band. I think, I have to agree on this here, but only because my knowledge of gothic metal and rock is not well enough to provide you more references. The ladies are accompanied by Rich on guitars, David on bass and vocals and Paul on drums. APPARITION is a band, that can grow to a higher level pretty easily, because the band consists of some fine musicians. Although, they do sound a little bit too sweet for the readers of Metal Maidens, in my opinion. That doesn’t make this album a bad one, I believe. The album, worthy of a full hour with dreamy soundscapes, closes with two bonus demo tracks, called “The Grass Is Greener” and “The Pain Lives On”. People, who are in a sensitive mood must turn the lights down low, and have a listen to this album. I bet that they have a wonderful evening. Headbangers better stay away from this. [6 points] (Toine van Poorten - headbanger)

ARAPACIS-So Many Leapers (FX Metal)
ARAPACIS, what great name for a band! Hailing from Canada, and undoubtely influenced by the old arena rockers and the gothic metal scene of today. If you combine the two music styles, you'll come close to the sound on "So Many Leapers". Shelsey's crystal clear vocals match pretty well to the long instrumental songs of the band. What would RUSH sound like, when AVRIL LAVIGNE became their singer? This band might give you the answer. A song like "Histories" for example captures the sound of ARAPACIS in six minutes. Sometimes they even sound LOUDER, like in "Tale Spin". And it's there, when my head starts banging. What a mean scream and what a filthy guitar solo! Yes baby, this is the real deal. Opener and title track "So Many Leapers" will definitely make many rockers go wild. It may sound a bit like BLACK SABBATH's "Symptom Of The Universe" sometimes. Do you need any more prove that this band has got a lot of potential? Listen dear friends, if you have supported a band like ANVIL, you just can't miss in my book. Also wanna hear a good ballad maybe? Just wait until you've heard "Reflections", and hear this lady pull the notes right from her very soul. The jammy part at the end of this song is also quite interesting. Although it might not exactly fit to a ballad type of thing, it sounds really nice. Feel the groove in "Time Has Been", which is again beefed up with a great guitar solo. This band simply needs a special introduction on our website, because I really like what I hear. In every song you feel the excitement it has been written. Just tune in to "Fast Fingers", where singer Shelsey Jarvis surprises me with some magic keyboard playing. Id expected some smoking guitarwork here, but don't be afraid, the fast axework is in the same song too. They told me guitarist Jerry Fielden burned his fingers, while playing this fast instrumental extraordinair. Can somebody please tame this guy, or cool him down a little? Not in these four and a half minutes, I guess. I wonder how the band will sound in a live setting? I didn't mention the rhythm section yet. It consists of Ray Tessier on drums, who obviously brings in the influences of some newer music styles, when I look at his influences on the internet. But his drumming blends very well to the second part of the rhythm tandem, Gab Boudreault on bass guitar. Like a good rhythm section, they seem to be the invisible part of the band, but they surely cannot be missed in the great sound of this wonderful band. The last song is called "Soldier Of Fun", which is the longest piece of art here. Again with a long instrumental part, it simply beats the eight minutes border. Chapeaux! Is there nothing negative to mention here? Nope, this is a killer release. We want more! Check out http://www.arapacis.com for more information about the band and keep an eye out for an interview with the band soon on www.metalmaidens.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BEAUTIFUL SIN-The Unexpected (AFM Records)
What a surprisingly interesting debut album of former HELLOWEEN and MASTERPLAN drummer Uli Kusch! He got in touch with Belgian female vocalist Magali Luyten, and together they recorded “The Unexpected” under the name BEAUTIFUL SIN. The eleven songs are played without intervals and turn this CD into one melodic, yet dynamic, musical journey of about forty minutes. There are a lot of positive things to mention about this album. It’s compact and the music sounds very exciting and refreshing, Magali’s excellent vocals make this whole album to a great album to listen to, there is a lot of variation in the different songs and on top of this, it contains some really beautiful and eye-catching artwork. The music will sometimes remind you of Uli’s work with his former bands, but this is definitely NOT a cheap copy of his old work. The music of BEAUTIFUL SIN goes beyond this all, and is less straight forward and easy on the ear than for example the music of HELLOWEEN and/or MASTERPLAN. The other members of the band are Axel Mackenrott (MASTERPLAN) on keyboards, Jorn Viggo Lofstad (PAGAN’S MIND) on guitar, and Steinar Krokmo (PAGAN’S MIND) on bass. Check it out. I bet, that you’ll be positively surprised by the freshness of the sound of this new band! [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DRACENA-Infernal Damnation (independent)
DRACENA is not the all-female band anymore since a long time. But founding member Mia remained strong and survived all the line ups of the band. And together with Mojjo on drums and Chris Loud on guitars, she recorded the band’s first album “Infernal Damnation”. Mia’s cruel growls dominate the death metal sound of DRACENA. The furious rhythms in combination with the screaming voice of Mia, give you the impression, that the world is gonna drown in a pool of dark red blood. To increase this cruelty, you can listen to some dagger sharpe guitar solos, like in “Seventh Gate”. At the end of “I Prey Upon The Damned”, the band show a bit of their experimental side, but most of the time the music goes straight forward, in your face and is played at high speed. A good example of this is title track “Infernal Damnation”, which is definitely the highlight of the eight tracks presented here. CD closer “Into The Infernal Domains” is slow, doomy and short, but again very exciting. It could very well be the dark instrumental version of the demise of the world. Maybe this doesn’t sound too happy, but it sounded like a good description to me. Although the band hails from Gothenburg, Sweden, they didn’t copy the well-known Gothenburg sound, but gave their brutal music a twist of their own. I am glad of that, because there are too many Gothenburg sounding clones already. Way to go, Mia! Hail to DRACENA! [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LUCA TURILLI’S DREAMQUEST-Lost Horizons (SPV)
Of course we all know Luca Turilli from his band RHAPSODY. Luca has been very busy lately, and as a result of that he released two new albums. DREAMQUEST is a cooperation with female singer Bridget Fogle. Luca may be the one with the well-known name here, but to be quite honest with you: Bridget definitely is the most important eye-catcher. Her voice is very dominant and without her input, this album wouldn’t sound like it does now. Her impressive voice might be more important than the music itself. People, who like the early stuff of NIGHTWISH will love this album. The music is bombastic, sometimes even operatic, and beefed up with guitars. And sometimes Bridget also knows to do the trick on her own, like in “Dolphin’s Heart”, where the orchestration doesn’t have any guitars at all, and only the piano can be heard upfront. Whereas the first single “Virus” might be an easy song to listen to, this song might be really difficult to handle for the average rock and metal fan out there. We do know, that Luca is very good in creating a bombastic sound, but it might be a little over the top for some of us. This is the sound of an opera or a musical, and far away from what he has been doing with RHAPSODY so far. That’s probably why he created this band. It’s another outlet for his musical outings. Sometimes dark, sometimes very airy (like in “Gothic Vision”), the music of this band can go either ways. Fact is, that the voice of Bridget can handle it all pretty easily. Better listen to this CD first, before adding it to your collection. Don’t let the fact, that the album counts ninety-nine (!!) songs scare you, because they’re worthy for about fifty minutes of rock opera sound. Website: http://www.dreamquest.it. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

EDENBRIDGE-The Grand Design (Massacre Records)
EDENBRIDGE likes to present us their fifth album already. They are gaining a lot of success, and their music has evolved very much over the years. The composition of the songs have become a bit more progressive. Whereas they started out playing some rather easy melodic rock songs, they are now creating a more progressive style. And after listening to opener “Terra Nova”, I will gladly make a comparision to LANA LANE, if I may. Sabine’s vocals really shows some resemblance with the voice of Lana. The music is still bombastic and melodic. “See You Fadin Afar” is another good example of a song with a nice progressive touch. While other songs, like “Taken Away”, show us a more modest side of this band, too. I don’t know what to think of it, but it might be a bit too modest for the average rock fan out there. Of course it’s a beautiful song, but I think that most rockers are more interested in the long epic title track. For this new album, they called in the help of a few well-known collegues like Robby Valentine on piano and Karl Groom (THRESHOLD), who plays guitar on the opening track, and also mixed the album. Best song for me is the bonus track, which is called “Empire Of The Sun”, and contains some unmistakable PINK FLOYD influences. There will be a single release of the James Bond soundtrack song “For Your Eyes Only”, which is not included on this album. All the more reason to check out the single as well. The CD is a safe buy for every fan of this Austrian band. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

EPICA-The Road To Paradiso-Photo Sound Book (Transmission Records)
Mark Jansen leaves AFTER FOREVER and starts a band of his own, which is called SAHARA DUST. Helena Iren Michaelsen being their new singer. I still remember that this was very hot news back in 2002. The music of the band didn’t change much from the music of AFTER FOREVER. Shortly afterwards, Helena decided to leave the band already and she’s being replaced by Simone Simons, who is still very young at the time. This is only the beginning of this beautiful photo book, that tells the story of the band EPICA, which actually started out as SAHARA DUST. But I think that the name EPICA fits the band much better. Now, five years later, EPICA is one of Dutch topacts in the gothic rock scene next to AFTER FOREVER, WITHIN TEMPTATION and AUTUMN. The five years between SAHARA DUST and EPICA in 2006, when they play at Dutch most well-known pop temple Paradiso, are covered in about ninety-five pages and illustrated with many great pics. However, there are some more ‘illustrations’, in the form of an enhanced CD. On this CD, you hear some comments of band members, rare tracks, demo versions and live tracks. There are totally sixteen tracks on the CD, and about fifty-five minutes of archive material. Where will the band be, five years from now? This book might even get a follow-up covering the next five years. Fact is, that EPICA underwent an immense growth in a relatively short time. And although I still don’t really like the music on ‘The Score”, I can only come to the conclusion that this book with enhanced CD, is a very good way to promote a successful band like EPICA. It is an original idea with an amazing good result. Not only interesting for diehard fans, but also a very nice read for the average rock fan out there. Go to: http://www.theroadtoparadiso.com or http://www.epica.nl. for more information about this Dutch band, whose stardom is still rising. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

EVIL BEAVER-Models Of Virtue EP (E Largo Entertainment Group)
What do you expect from a band, who call themselves EVIL BEAVER? And would you change your mind, if you know their debut CD is called “Lick It”? The second CD was called “Pleased To Eat You”, which was released in 2003. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy your lunch or dinner, while reading this. This band was founded in 1999 and consists of Evie Evil on bass guitar and vocals, and Gene Trautman on drums. And yes, Trautman is also the same guy, who played drums for QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE. We hear four songs on this EP, which starts off with “Believin’ Deceivin’”. Try to think of a mix of THE WHITE STRIPES and QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE. Jack White will surely make this work, I know, but do it in your imagination and picture Evil Evie as their singer. You’ll surely end up with the sound of EVIL BEAVER. “Under The Gun” is a song of the same calibre. “I Wanna Be Your Dog” is a cover of the old IGGY POP classic, where they added some distorted vocal lines. The eighteeen minutes of new styled, hard edged rock music closes with “Cherry Master”, which sounds again very groovy, mainly because of the breathtaking bass lines of Evie. For some people, the title of this EP is a bit easier to pronounce at their local record store. The groove on this EP is the same as the one on “Lick It” though. Visit their website at: http://www.evilbeaver.us. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE FLAIRS-Shut Up And Drive (Pacific Music)
Three out of four members derived from a band called TUULI. Some of you readers may remember this name. THE FLAIRS hail from Canada, and this new album is full with catchy, easy on the ear, rock music with a slighty punky edge to it. I was surprised, that the band recorded the cover “18 And Life” by SKID ROW on this album. It sounds really nice in this version though. One of the highlights for me though, is a more rocking song with loud guitars called “Ready To Roll”. THE FLAIRS consist of Dawn Mandarino on vocals, Gillian Hannah on guitar (formerly BIF NAKED), Ryan Hanna on bass and Jen Foster on drums. “Destroyer” has some nice guitar riffs, which lifts the song far beyond the average pop rock song, that some of you readers may expect. While “Stay The Same” has a more punky rhythm, and it contains a lot of energy. It’s definitely less commercial than THE DONNAS for example. “Under My Skin” opens with a riff, which could be from every early KISS record. And a name like CHEAP TRICK also slips through my mind, when I listen to the song. It’s not really heavy metal, yet it’s too loud to be called pop music. It’s music that masses of people might like to listen to. Although I can come up with some references, the band still knows to create a sound of their own. Not every song sounds the same, and the variation makes it a very pleasant listen. The CD contains thirteen tracks, the video clip for “18 And Life” and about forty-five minutes of cheeky rock music. Okay, now you got all the facts and details you need to know about this release of THE FLAIRS. It’s time to shut up and drive…to your local recordstore of course! http://www.theflairs.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE GATHERING-Home (The End/Psychonaut Records)
THE GATHERING has had a long, successful career. Starting in Holland in the early nineties, the band continues on to this day. Not happy with repeating themselves, they have added a new chapter to their history with "Home". Containing thirteen tracks and one hour worth of music, "Home" is actually a pretty good album. No, it is not going to evoke memories of such classics as "Mandylion" or "Nighttime Birds", but it is still a good representation of where THE GATHERING is headed in 2006. "The Shortest Day" kicks things off with a positive, albeit somewhat sombre note. This track for me is one of the highlights. Next up is "In Between", which keeps things going. Anneke still has an excellent voice and in my opinion she is one the best singers out there. Whether or not you like the music these days, there is no denying that this girl can sing. Other highlights include "Alone", "Waking Hour" and "Home". It has been a few years since the GATHERING could be called a 'metal band'. Somehow, I don’t think this matters all that much to the band. They continue to carve their own niche far from the reach of categorizations. [6 points] (Tony Cannella)

HOLY MOSES-Queen Of Siam (Armageddon Music/Rock Inc.)
We continue with our trip through the HOLY MOSES collection of re-releases. “Queen Of Siam” - the debut album - shows us a hungry band, that is eagerly trying to show its strength with loud thrash songs. Fast guitar solos, raw vocals, and a drummer, who is haunted by a six-headed dragon. The band is obviously still searching for a sound of its own, because we hear several influences pass by like “Roadcrew” (MOTORHEAD) and “Walpurgisnight” (VENOM). This release contains some interesting liner notes, lots of pics, the original artwork for the “Walpurgisnight Demo”, which is included as a bonus on this CD as well, and the lyrics of the different tracks. All together, it is nice to hear how this band started out their career. On the demo, you even hear that a song like “Torches For Hire” might be influenced by the very early IRON MAIDEN material. Just listen to the speed changes in this great track. Same goes for the lengthy “Queen Of Siam”. Both songs are topped with the brutal growls of Sabina of course. HOLY MOSES easily settled themselves next to other German thrash legends, like KREATOR, SODOM, TANKARD and DESTRUCTION. And Sabina Classen, the scream queen of the band, slowly evolved from “Queen Of Siam” to the queen of brutal growls. Obviously, she became the teacher of many female singers, who followed her example, like Angela Gossow of ARCH ENEMY. During the time of recording the original LP, HOLY MOSES consisted of Sabina on vocals, Andy Classen on guitar, Uli Kusch and Herbert Dreger on drums, and Ramon Brüsseler on bass guitar. On the “Walpurgisnight Demo”, we hear Jörg ‘Snake’ Heins on drums. Sixteen tracks, worthy of seventy minutes of complete chaos and violent thrash monsters. Can we ask for more? Website: http://www.holymoses.de. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HOLY MOSES-World Chaos (Armageddon Music/Rock Inc.)
On this fourth CD, we hear that the sound of HOLY MOSES took much more shape. Although that may be hard to believe for a brutal thrash band of this calibre. Just listen very carefully to the sound of “Diabolic Plot” for example, where you hear this is more than just another straight forward thrash song. But of course there are also some high speed thrash monsters on this album as well, like title track “World Chaos” and “Blood Sucker” with its SLAYER-like riffs and a sound, that very much reminded me of SACRED REICH for a short moment. In “Too Drunk To Fuck”, the band also added a cover to the album, which was originally recorded by THE DICTATORS. In “Deutschland (Remember The Past)”, their homecountry gets kicked in the butt. Don’t mention the war! The CD closes with another cover, which everybody will know for sure. It’s a song, called “You’ve Got To Fight For Your Right To Party”, originally recorded by THE BEASTY BOYS. A crowd pleaser during many of their shows, also on the infamous Dynamo Open Air, if I remember well. The bonus material consists of two live songs, recorded at the many shows they did at Wacken Open Air in Germany. And besides the audio version of “Too Drunk To Fuck”, you can also watch the video of this song, played together with DORO. There you have it. Another fifty minutes of HOLY MOSES history. The line-up here consisted of Sabina and Andy, Tom Becker on bass and Uli Kusch on drums. On the tour they were helped out by Benny Speed on bass and Atomic Steiff on drums. But there is lots more, so read on for the other reviews of these interesting re-releases. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HOLY MOSES-Terminal Terror (Armageddon Music/Rock Inc.)
Get ready for another fifty minutes of brutal mayhem! Once again I recognised more shape in the musical evolution on this fifth album by these German thrashers from Aachen . The slower dragging SLAYER-like sound in “Two Sides Terror”, which suddenly explodes and continues in a furious LAAZ ROCKIT-like riff attack, sounds simply amazing to me! Add to this the more experimental sound in a song like “Creation Of Violation” and you’ll definitely see, that the band was putting more variation in their songs. Just listen to the dirty, doomy, dragging sound in “Distress And Death”, which is absolutely mindblowing! Witness how brutal a doomy song may sound. The bonus tracks consist of three live versions of “Def Con II”, “Nothing For My Mom” and “The Pool Of Blood”, recorded at a festival in Belgium. They’re a nice addition to this album. Website: http://www.holymoses.de. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HOLY MOSES-Reborn Dogs (Armageddon Music/Rock Inc.)
Holy cow! What a difference, comparing to the re-released CD I reviewed earlier (“Terminal Terror”). “Reborn Dogs” – the sixth album by HOLY MOSES - opens ultra loud with “Clash My Soul”. The next song; “Decapitatet Mind” might be even louder. Good heavens! Just listen to the machine gun riffle salvos in “Welcome To The Real World”, the constantly repeating chants in title track “Reborn Dogs” or take a big bite of “Fuck You”. It’s a mighty statement, that the band was still alive and kicking loud ass, in a world dominated by the dusty, boring sound of NIRVANA and PEARL JAM. Another thing you will witness, is that Sabina’s voice sounds even more brutal than ever before! The three live bonus tracks on this fifty minutes, fourteen tracker, were recorded in Leipzig earlier this year. You will hear “Fuck You”, “Master Of Disaster” and “Lost In The Maze”. It’s 1992, when this album was released, and it easily stood the test of time. Once again, the album is very diverse, but overall, it’s more brutal than the previous re-releases. Website: http://www.holymoses.de. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HOLY MOSES-No Matter What’s The Cause (Armageddon Music/Rock Inc.)
This is the last re-release in this set of five. It contains twenty songs and about sixty-six point six minutes of blasphemous metal (well almost, but it looks much nicer to use this amount of time). The songs are again more furious and brutal. Again, we will enjoy an ultraslow sludgy doom track, called “Acceptance”. Well, at least in the beginning, before it explodes right at your face. Andy takes over the vocals several times, and in the world of thrash, the band’s name stood for high quality. But it also meant the end of HOLY MOSES for a long time. Andy continues with Mark V for a while (featuring Meff on drums and Dan Lilker on bass), before he went on to become a producer, and Sabina formed TEMPLE OF THE ABSURD. On the album, you’ll find the SHOCK THERAPY cover “Hate Is Just A Four Letter Word” and the MOTÖRHEAD cover “Bomber”. Their music style slowly changed into the ultrafast thrash style with vocals that were difficult to understand, because of the brutal grunting. The SHOCK THERAPY cover is also to be heard in a steaming live version, recorded at Wacken Open Air in 2003. Extra special bonus tracks are the “Satan’s Angel” demo, by a very young HOLY MOSES, recorded in 1981. The CD closes with a live recording of the song “Necropolis”, which is also recorded in 1981. HOLY MOSES is very much alive today, and they still record some very good albums. But it’s also a very nice gesture, that they want to pay tribute to their long lasting fans with these re-releases, which are full with goodies, nice pics and rare recordings. We bought them all, to make sure that we support Sabina and her guys all the way. Website: http://www.holymoses.de. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS-Sinner (Blackheart Records)
JOAN JETT is the uncrowned queen of writing catchy songs. Somehow, most of her songs are suitable to sing along to, even if you didn’t hear them before. “Sinner” is the ‘new’ album of this punk rock diva. Although new might be a little overrated statement, because the album only contains two songs, that were never recorded before. One of these two songs is a cover by THE SWEET, called “A.C.D.C.”. The other one is opener “Riddles”, which surely can get the certificate for being easy to sing along to. If you’re someone, who doesn’t want to buy every available release of Joan, then I’d suggest to listen to her most recent songs. Most of these songs are three minute diamonds with a rough edge to it. Here and there, a slower (ballad-like) song appears (“Everyone Knows”) or it gets a more casual character (“Androgynous”). Even a simple old fashioned punk rocker like “Change The World” asks you to turn up the volume of your stereo set to the max. “Fetish” is already a crowd pleaser in Joan’s regular live set. “Watersign” is another nice example of a three minute ballad, while “Tube Talking” is another great rocker, and definitely one of the highlights on this album for me. It feels absolutely right and it’s perfect for a night on the beach, or driving in your convertible on the USA highways. Another song that I liked a lot is “A 100 Feet Away”. “Baby Blue” is perhaps a bit too sweet for my taste. “Bad Time” is the longest track on the CD. It’s a remake of the old song, which sounds seriously different since its makeover. After you’ve had a listen to the new album, it might be wise to put it in your PC as well. You can read all the lyrics there and you can also see a little movie of the band in the studio playing “A.C. D. C.”. I really hope, that as a natural result of this fourteen tracks, fifty minutes new release, there will be a tour in Europe soon. But I think that will be wishful thinking. Which is a big shame, because the fans in Europe are maybe even more dedicated than some of the American fans. Don’t forget about your fans in Europe, Joan, because they love rock and roll, too! Now they can only spend another dime on your CDs in the jukebox, baby! [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

KURGAN’S BANE-Camouflaged In Static (independent)
Welcome to the fascinating new CD of KURGAN’S BANE from Baltimore. The listener will be taken along on a progressive journey, mixing rock riffs with various different layers. Especially the instrumental parts are moving from one way to another, constantly asking for your special attention. Lisa’s vocals are fresh, and she gives her bandmates enough room to express themselves in long instrumental breaks. Which results in a whole new approach of the progressive rock sound of today. It never gets too complex, but it’s far more than just the ordinairy rock music. Here and there, you may hear some RUSH, DREAM THEATER or FATES WARNING influences, but the warm sound of Lisa’s voice is a special treat here. Let’s take “Time Has Come” as an example here. The song works itself towards the time the guitar solo appears. A normal approach would be that the song continues after the solo, with a refrain and slowly works itself to the ending. Instead, they put in a longer instrumental part, in which bass player Luis Nasser may prove his skills. That little part lifts the songs up to a much higher level. And this is just one example of the little innovative things, that KURGAN’S BANE put into their music. Besides Lisa and Luis, the band still exists of the Laramee brothers Pete on guitar and Jeff on drums. “Asstro” is the only instrumental track on this new CD, which runs for a full hour. For me, one of the highlights on this new CD is “The Spectator”, because of its mindblowing guitarwork. If you’re a guitar fetishist like me, you will agree. The band may not be as progressive as LANA LANE for example, but they prove there is still room for good progressive rock music out there. Website: http://www.kurgansbane.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ILSE DELANGE-The Great Escape (Universal Music)
This new CD of ILSE DELANGE shows us a small change of musical direction. I wouldn’t file this under country music anymore, but under pop music. What remains are the ‘easy on the ear’ songs and the absolute stunning and beautiful voice of Ilse of course. The first single taken from this album; “The Great Escape” is a giant hit this very moment, and to me definitely one of the highlights on the CD. “Miss Politician” is another one. I like the more uptempo stuff of Mrs. DeLange. This CD may not be suitable to most of our readers, but if you like to relax and listen to some beautiful music, then this might be something for you. The CD never gets really heavy or anything, but Ilse certainly knows to impress me every time. And her attitude is also something that I admire a lot. She is very down to earth, although she has worked with the greatest musicians on earth. Bruce Gaitsch co-wrote “I Love You” for example. He worked with people like MADONNA and RICHARD MARX. Daniel Lanois produced this beautiful sounding album. The man worked with U2, BOB DYLAN and PETER GABRIËL. Need I say more? And all the headbangers amongst us, who are of my age (43), will definitely remember the name of LYLE WORKMAN, who plays guitar on this CD. Remember “Code 3” on the first “US Metal Guitar Heroes” album? It’s the same guy, but now tamed by Ilse most of the time. There are some other magic moments on the album as well. Songs that have hit potential, like “Far Away”, “The Lonely One” (the second single) and “When”. Or perhaps the beautiful ballad “I Love You”. But I must confess that some of the songs sound quite different than we might expect from this blonde singer. Quick deciders might be able to find the limited edition CD, with an enhanced DVD that contains the making of the album “The Great Escape”. The rating of this album is NOT based on the heaviness of the album, but more on the song quality of this fourteen song, one full hour new album. Website: http://www.ilsedelange.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LEAVES EYES-Vinland Saga (Napalm Records)
Should we categorise this as folk metal or gothic metal? Some songs would be classified under the first option (“Vinland Saga” or “Leaves Eyes”), while others would definitely force me to choose the second option (“Farewell Proud Men” - which could have been written by WITHIN TEMPTATION - or “Solemn Sea”). Whatever you may call it, it’s definitely high class material, that we get to hear on this CD. Although this never gets really heavy and despite male grunter Alexander Krull (ATROCITY) sometimes puts some power and pepper into the songs, the music stays very relaxed and you can easily dream along to it. In “The Thorn”, the guitars rock loud again, and Alexander’s heavy growls in combination with Liv Kristine’s angelic vocals sound like magic. “Amhrán” is again too soft for these ears, but “New Found Land” sounds quite okay to me. This second album by LEAVES EYES definitely has got some fine moments. You get an equal part of folk and gothic metal, just like you got on “Lovelorn”, their debut album. LEAVES EYES consists of Liv Kristine Espenaes Krull on vocals, Alexander Krull on vocals, Torsten Bauer on guitar, Matthias Röderer on guitar, Chris Lukhaup on bass and Moritz Neuner on drums. The CD contains thirteen tracks and plays for about forty-five minutes. Website: http://www.leaveseyes.de. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LIV KRISTINE-Enter My Religion (Roadrunner)
The new album by LIV KRISTINE sounds very diverse. And in that prospective, I like it even better than her previous full-length album “Deus Ex Machina”. In most of the songs, you can almost hear the joy, that she wrote and sang these twelve new songs. The music is a bit more uptempo than what I’ve heard on the latest LEAVES EYES album. Liv’s voice is very beautiful, warm and tender. And she almost knows to hypnotise you with her songs. Sometimes, like in “Blue Emptiness”, you may think of KATE BUSH. Another highlight for me was “Trapped In Your Labyrinth”. It’s a good example of what the music of this Norwegian lady is all about. Easy on the ear, gothic inspired and punctuated with many folk elements. And as glorious centre the voice of Liv Kristine of course. People, who like the music of her other bands LEAVES EYES, ATROCITY and THEATRE OF TRAGEDY, can buy this album safely without listening to it. Other rock fans may want to have a short listen to it first. You won’t be disappointed, if you are searching for the relaxing effect of these twelve songs. If you’re looking for loud rocking guitars though, then you’d better leave this for what it is. “Streets Of Philadelphia” is a cover of BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, by the way. Twelve songs and forty-five minutes of gothic folk metal are on this new CD. Check it out, dear friends. www.livkristine.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LORDI-The Arockalypse (Drakkar Music)
The previous albums by these Finnish rock monsters didn’t get them much fame and fortune. We saw them play live at Wacken 2003 in the dead of night, and we liked them a lot. Unfortunately, their music seemed to be too simple for the bigger audience, and only interesting for a small group of horror metal fans. Now the band has won the Eurovision Song Contest this year, everybody loves LORDI, saying that they are the next big thing in hard rock and heavy metal. Where were all these people, when they played live at Wackend for about a hundred fans?? The new album of these Finnish shock rockers, who surprised the whole world, is called “The Arockalypse”. It opens with a nice set up ‘news flash’ (featuring TWISTED SISTER’s frontman Dee Snider!). Then the band starts their ‘arockalypse’ with “Brining Back The Balls To Rock”. LORDI combines horror effects and a monstrous show with old school ALICE COOPER meets ACCEPT-like music. Besides Dee Snider, we also hear a handful of other guests in several songs. “It Snows In Hell” for example, contains some fine guitarwork by Bruce Kulick, the former KISS guitar player. He did a fine job here, and lifted this semi-ballad up to above average. That the success didn’t come without any trouble can be seen in the line up of the band. Even monster bands change musicians every now and then. Kalma on bass, and Enary on keyboards were replaced by Ox and Ewa. “Who’s Your Daddy??” is LORDI’s interpetation of “Hey Stoopid”. At least, it sounds like it. “Hard Rock Hallelujah” is the well-known hit single, which reached the number one status in the Eurovision Song Contest. A real headbanger, and by far the best song on this album, if you’d ask my honest opinion. “The Chainsaw Buffet” is served by Jay Jay French (TWISTED SISTER) on guitar. People may wonder about the link between LORDI and TWISTED SISTER. I guess, that these people also didn’t get to see their Wacken gig, otherwise they would have got more clues. In “They Only Come Out At Night”, we hear Udo Dirkschneider (UDO/ACCEPT) duelling with Mr. Lordi. Most of the songs are made to sing along to and their horror show is a really nice addition to this all . LORDI may become a huge hype because of their amazing success at the ESC, but I am afraid this will only temporarily. In a couple of years from now, the band will be back to the cult status, that they once had and that suited them much better than the hype they have become now. They turned out to be a horror rock band for kids, or a horror rock band with a commercial wink. However, I truly believe, that LORDI is more than just another hype. Prove is given in these twelve new tracks with a running time of about forty-five minutes. Website: http://www.lordi.org. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MISS BEAHAVIOUR-Funky Heart (independent)
On “Touch In The Sky”, we could already tell, that there’s a lot of talent hidden in this Dutch funk rock band. The five new songs show us a lot of progression and prove us once more, that this band is quickly climbing the ladder of success. “Bad To The Bone” is a short rocker in the best SASS JORDAN tradition. Raw, uptempo, yet very catchy. The speed goes down a bit on “Cold Wind Blows”. Starting off like a normal rock song, halfway through the band starts jamming, which lifts the song up to above average. You can compare this to the live sound of ANOUK. She also gives the band some space to do their own thing, instead of keeping all the attention to herself. Very well done! Title track “Funky Heart” could be a lighter version of MOTHERS FINEST or CHAKA KAHN. It swings, has a nice groove and it’s funky like hell. So let’s see. We’ve heard an uptempo rocker, a rock song with a nice jamming part , a funky song, so now it’s time for a real ballad. “Let You Go” is a strong ballad, in my opinion. It’s tender, but certainly not over the top. You can hear, that someone got hurt pretty much, and that’s what I would like to hear in a good ballad. And Fabiola, who lives in my hometown Breda, has got that cry in her voice, that makes it sensitive and dramatic. Add to this, the nice guitarsolo of Jan Meesters, and you’ll have the perfect ingredients for a good ballad. The CD closes with a song, called “Groundrule #3”. Fabiola’s voice reminds me of ANOUK again here. The music also points in that direction. And once again we hear the fabulous little jamming part halfway the song, which is created for the musicians to show their talents. It’s short, but it’s there and it creates something innovative and magic and lifts the song above average. MISS BEHAVIOUR definitely knows to write good songs and they also put a lot of variation in their sound. MISS BEHAVIOUR consists of Fabiola Splinter in vocals and percussion, Jan Meesters on guitar and vocals, Jack van Loenhout on bass and vocals, Fons van der Velde on drums and vocals. For this five tracker, that contains almost twenty minutes of exciting funk rock music, they were helped out by Stefan Maas on percussion to beef up their sound a little. Be sure to check them out, when playing in your area or even better buy this five track album. It’s especially recommended to all those people with a “Funky Heart”. Website: http://www.missbehaviour.nl. or write to fonsvandervelde@home.nl. or fab.splinter@compaqnet.nl. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LUNATICA-The Edge Of Infinity (Frontiers)
LUNATICA hails from Switzerland and they present us their third album since their formation in 1998. Their previous albums were called “Atlantis” (2001) and “Fables & Dreams” (2004). On this third album we hear a band, that is capable of writing songs that are very catchy, yet not simple. Progressive metal with a symphonic touch. Eye-catcher of the band is singer Andrea Dätwyler, who has a very nice and clear voice. It would be too easy to compare the sound of this band to the kings and queens in this scene, like NIGHTWISH and WITHIN TEMPTATION. I think, that the syphonic influences of this band makes their music a bit more innovative. Good examples here are title track “The Edge Of Infinity” or “Together”. You must admit, this goes beyond the aforementioned bands. “Song For You” is a duet with John Payne of ASIA. Besides Andrea, the band consists of Sandro D’Incau on guitar, Andy on guitar, Emilio MG Barrantes on bass, Alex Seiberl on keyboards and Ermes on drums. That the band is also capable of writing lengthy, epical songs is proven in “EmOcean”, which is another highlight on this third CD for me. Next, we hear a second version of this song with Olliver Hartmann (AT VANCE). I would rather have left this one out, and put it on a single, together with one or two live or demo tracks. But that’s the only minor remark, that I have about this album. The eleven songs on this album have a total playing time of about fifty-five minutes, and it was a very pleasant surprise to my ears. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MONEY POWER/KORT DOOR DE BOCHT-Live Split Promo: Keep The Fire Burning Tour (independent)
Let’s start this review with the band, that does not have any female musicians in their line up. I’m talking about KORT DOOR DE BOCHT (which stands for ‘shortcut’ in English). They play four short songs, comparable to bands like DE RAGGENDE MANNEN, DRI, NUCLEAR ASSAULT and especially MUCKY PUP. Their absurdic lyrics are really funny. “Kan Altijd Erger” for example is the KORT DOOR DE BOCHT version of “Killing In The Name Of” by RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE. The first five songs on this split live CD, recorded at DB’s in Utrecht on May 6th, 2006, are by MONEY POWER. We already reviewed their previous CD, and we were very positive about their no-nonsense, fast forward metal sound. Their solid metal sound holds a strong beat, which is no problem for the strong rhythm section of this band. Just listen to opener “Money Power” and be convinced of their strength. “How Ya Doin” is a crossover song. A mix between hardcore and BLACK SABBATH, to cut it short. I like that beat, and I’m doing fine after hearing this. “Disco Jerk” sounds a lot like the RAMONES. It’s a bit more punky, although I don’t really know, if that’s possible. You’d better describe it as more brutal maybe. “F.T.S.” is on next. It will turn your local club into a mass of pogoing people in no time. And that’s exactly, what these three people have in mind, when they will tour in South Africa this August. The riffs are brutal, and I really get a kick out of this. The last song is called “I Need”. But the only thing I need is another listen to these great songs, so I push the ‘repeat’ button once more. MONEY POWER consists of Anre on guitar and vocals, Ruud (FUTURE TENSE F*CKING RULES!!!!) on drums and Joanne on bass. Kick some serious ass there in South Africa, and come back safely, because we can do with some great ass kicking speed metal rockers like MONEY POWER here in Holland. “Keep The Fire Burning”! Website: http:// www.moneypower.nl. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MOTHERS FINEST-Live At Villa Berg Right Here Right Now (MTM Music)
It’s good to hear, that MOTHER’S FINEST is back. The band started their career in the early seventies already, but somehow they never reached the big audience, except for a couple of hit singles. This double live set shows us, that MOTHER’S FINEST still knows to play a solid rock set. But before they kick out the jams, we hear four new studio songs. They all have the same trademark. It swings, it rocks, it’s got a fantastic groove and all songs have a lot of funk. Music on which you can dance, while on others it’s even possible to bang your head. To be honest with you, I was more interested in the live songs. Are they still able to play with the same passion and feeling, like they did in the early eighties? The answer is a straight ‘yes’. From ballads to rockers, they play it all, and the atmosphere they create with this live show is absolutely fabulous! But that’s not strange, when you see that the biggest part of the band still contains the original members. Singer Joyce ‘Baby Jane’ Kennedy and her husband Glenn Murdock on vocals, guitar player Moses Mo and bass player Wizard Seay still deliver the goods in the band. Accompanied by John Hayes on guitar, who is also a veteran member by now, and drummer Kerry Denton, who is relatively new here. You can hear all the well-known hit singles, and then some. A song like “Niggiz Groove” is definitely one of the highlights for me. And songs like “Hard Rock Lover”, “Mickey’s Monkey” and “Piece Of The Rock” are pure heavy metal. To keep this all in balance, they even play some tender funky ballads like “Can’t Fight This Feeling” or “I Believe”. But they do it with a lot of class and style. So you can say about this band whatever you like, but to me they’re still top of the bill after all these years of existence. And it’s so good to see that they have kept the flame burning. Two CDs, a hundred and ten minutes of great music, divided over twenty-two songs. A document, that may not to be missed in your collection. Website: http://www.mothersfinest.com. [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

NIGHTWISH-End Of An Era (Nuclear Blast)
This is the double live CD, that comes with the DVD package of the “End Of An Era” release. And the title of this release is a really good choice, because obviously it has two different meanings now. This was the last show of the “Once” tour of NIGHTWISH. A sold out gig at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland, where the band was supported by SONATA ARCTICA. This refers to the first meaning. The “Once” tour was over, the band was supposed to write a new album and start an new era with this release. But the second meaning also refers to the fact that the band turned their back to Tarja Turunen, the female frontlady of the band. In an open letter, which can be read on the bands website, they fire the singer and thank her friendly for the nine years she played with the band. This open letter was given to her, right after this last show. I am not gonna play the judge here, because we don’t know all the ins and outs. Fact is, that Tarja will proceed a solo career (expect her Christmas CD in December!) and NIGHTWISH will continue with a new frontlady in their ranks. No name is given yet, but the band is determined to continue under the name of NIGHTWISH, mainly because keyboard player Tuomas Holopainen was the main songwriter of the band. This whole story is history now. What we can hear is the last gig in Helsinki, in which NIGHTWISH plays a wonderful show with many highlight. At least, that’s what you can see on the DVD and the emotional reactions of the fans. It’s a sort of ‘best of live’ set, which consists of eighteen songs with a total length of about hundred minutes. Remarkable thing is the big input of the vocal parts of bass player Marco. In the PINK FLOYD cover “High Hopes”, we hear how NIGHTWISH sounds without the input of Tarja. Another highlight is the duet he sings with Tarja in “Phantom Of The Opera”. Besides that, you can enjoy songs like “The Kinslayer”, “Bless The Child”, “Wishmaster”, “Nemo”, “Wish I Had An Angel” and Tarja’s solo performance in “Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijau”, and of course the GARY MOORE cover “Over The Hills And Far Away” cannot be missed here, too. At the end, we also hear a performance of a special guest in “Stone People”, which is done by native Indian flute player John Two-Hawks. When the last notes fade of “All Of Them”, the band leaves the stage, not knowing (??) this would be the very last performance ever after nine long years. A bitter end of an era. Website: http://www.nightwish.com. and http://www.tarjaturunen.com for all the latest information of both camps. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ERIK NORLANDER AND FRIENDS-Live In St. Petersburg (Think Tank Media)
This eighty minutes CD comes as a bonus disc with the DVD of the show, that ERIK NORLANDER AND FRIENDS gave in St. Petersburg, Russia. Erik is the keyboard wizard of LANA LANE and his other band; ROCKING SCIENTISTS. The music on this fourteen song CD sounds a lot more progressive (sometimes even psychedelic) than we know of LANA LANE. The CD start off with a couple of instrumental songs like “Fanfare For Absent Friends Part One”, “Neurostar” and “Dreamcurrents”. After that, Kelly Keeling joins the band on stage with some great singing in “Mariner” - a song of the ROCKING SCIENTISTS. It gets even better, when Kelly sings a splendid version of the PROCOL HARUM cover “A Salty Dog”. In “Alexandria”, Lana Lane joins the band on stage as well. Amongst Erik’s friends are two Dutch musicians. Ernst van Ee is perhaps the best metal drummer we have in Holland, and Peer Verschuren is one of the best guitar players in Holland, as far as I am concerned . The CD closes with two new studio tracks. The first one is “Fanfare For Absent Friends Part Two”, and the second one is a very good choice, I think. It comes from one of the James Bond movies, and is called “From Russia With Love”. The music of ERIK NORLANDER and friends is a mix of progressive music, psychedelic rock and hard rock. Think about a good mix of KING CRIMSON, EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER and DEEP PURPLE and you’ll come close to what you’re gonna hear. Although the music on this CD is very focussed on the keyboardsound of Erik and the skills of the different musicians, the role of his wife and singer Lana Lane is that important, we simply had to review this CD. Website: http://www.eriknorlander.com or http://www.lanalane.com for more information. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

OPERATIKA-Dream World (EP) (independent)
This is a four track EP of OPERATIKA from New Jersey, USA. They played their first big show as support act for NIGHTWISH in club L’Amour in New York. And if you think into that musical direction, you’ll definitely come close to the sound of the band. There is a small difference though, when you compare both bands to eachother. I think, that the guitarist of OPERATIKA sounds a bit more upfront in the mix, and I also hear a lot of YNGWIE J MALMSTEEN influences in his playing , which is a compliment from my account. The EP contains four songs and runs for about sixteen minutes. “Gladiator” is a real speedmonster, and leans towards the melodic black metal sound. However, considering the operatic voice of Slava Popova, we will surely think of NIGHTWISH as a reference again. In this song, we can also enjoy the ‘speed of light’ guitarwork of Bill Visser. Besides Slava and Bill, the band consists of Stan Folcik on bass, Anna (?) on keyboards and Yuri Liakhovitch on drums. “The Storm” is some kind of a short instrumental interlude, an intro to “The Calling”, which closes the EP. At this very moment, the band is busy in the studio working on their first full-length album, scheduled somewhere in 2007. And after hearing this pre-taster, it will be well-worth checking out. OPERATIKA sure sounds slightly different than all these other gothic metal bands with a female singer. Mainly because of this speedy fretboard maniac guitarist called Bill. So watch out for their name in this space again soon. Website: http://www.operatika.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SCARECROWN-Till The Last Breath (Casket Music)
On this five track MCD, we will hear about nineteen minutes of dark, sphereful ambient metal. It’s quite difficult to compare this Italian band to others, because they create a certain music style, that I don’t get to hear that often. I would like to compare them to bands like FOREVER SLAVE or FLOWING TEARS, but this is only a reference in which direction you have to think. The songs are slow and packed with some nice riffs, but they never get really exciting. A more positive matter is the beautiful voice of Antonella Buosi. However, I would like to have more variation in the different songs. “Playing With A Swindler” starts off very nice, but then they work towards this repeating riff again, which sounds quite similar to the other four songs. Because of the great guitarsolo, it sure is the highlight of this MCD for me. My suggestion for the band would be to continue to sound like that last song on your next MCD or full-length album, then it will be alright. Not every band will be able to start their career with a million seller. Keep on believing in what you’re doing, and you’ll get there, too. SCARECROWN consists of Antonella Buosi on vocals, Andrea Boscariol on guitar, Simone Sut on bass and Federico Riccio on drums. Website: http://www.scarecrown.com. [6 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SCHANDMAUL-Mit Leib Und Seele (Fame Recordings/Rock Inc.)
I remember, my previous review wasn’t that positive at all. And I’m afraid, this won’t be much better. I know, there is a thin line between what is acceptable for me and what is not. And the previous album of SCHANDMAUL crossed that line big time. This CD is a little better to comprehend, but it’s definitely still not my cup of tea. I’d like to refer to bands such as SUBWAY TO SALLY or IN EXTREMO with German lyrics. I must admit, that the music is played very well, but it’s not my favorite style. And the level of heavy metal is just too low. A band like SKYCLAD might be comparable to SCHANDMAUL too, but their guitars sound much more upfront. If you like any of the bands I’ve mentioned here, you may love SCHANDMAUL as well. But if you think, their sound is definitely on the edge, then I would leave this for what it is. There are also some good songs on this CD, like “Das Mädchen Und Der Tod”, which has a very powerful rhythm. And “Der Untote” has some cool riffs as well. But the overall sound is a bit too mellow and too sweet for me. I liked the drawings in the booklet very much though. The band has a very high artistic level. SCHANDMAUL is already confirmed for Wacken Open Air 2007, by the way. “Mit Leib Und Seele”contains seventeen songs and has a running time of about seventy minutes. Website: http://www.schandmaul.de. [5 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SKIN-Fake Chemical State (V2)
I must admit, that I wasn’t too charmed about “Fleshwounds”. It was a bit too modest for me. But I believe, that SKIN has become very angry again. And her anger is put on a silver disc, called “Fake Chemical State”. Have you ever heard a better opener than “Alone In My Room”? I don’t think so. It’s very aggressive and catches your attention immediately. “She’s On” and “Movin” may not be as loud and aggressive as the opener, but still these are very heavy songs. And of course, the remarkable voice of SKIN is the eye-catcher in the whole sound. “Just Let The Sun” is the hitsingle taken from this album, and it could very well have been on any of SKUNK ANANSIE’s albums. It has got that same groove and energy, which made this band so famous. Well, we’re almost halfway done now, because the only negative thing about this new release is that it contains ten songs and only a little over thirty-five minutes of music. That is much too short, to say the least. Still, it’s better to have half an hour of high class material, than a lot of rubbish on a full hour disc. What appeals on this album is that most songs have an uptempo rhythm and a very groovy beat. I think, that SKIN has made her point and she’s still alive and kicking your teeth out of your mouth, if you don’t pay attention enough. She’s back and full of power, and her ‘fake chemical state’ makes her shout even harder than ever before. Website: http://www.skinmusic.net. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

STORMBRINGER-Don’t Think....Obey! (My Graveyard Productions)
STORMBRINGER hails from the Northern part of Italy. This is the band’s first full-length album. And I must say, that I’m quite impressed what I’m about to hear. If you like some good old fashioned heavy metal, than you’ve come to the right place with STORMBRINGER. Strong, heavy riffs, a vocalist, who will remind you of DORO (WARLOCK era) and a guitarplayer, who can play a good solo. STORMBRINGER consists of Jessica on vocals, Emmanuele on guitar, Simone on bass, Gabriele on keyboards and Mauro on drums. I would like to compare the band to WARLOCK, mixed with IRON MAIDEN (Paul Di Anno-era), but they also put a lot of progressive elements and some exciting speed and mood changes in their music. Just listen to “Obey” for instance. Suddenly, there’s a speed change in the middle of the song and gives another dimension to STORMBRINGER, which easily lifts their sound far above average. The last song on the album (“Mystery”) asks for our special attention. It’s an instrumental track of eight minutes, which shows the progressive roots of the band, comparable to DREAM THEATER, YES, EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER and RUSH (old style). This is quite a surprise, after the rather heavy sounding album! In the middle of the song, there’s also a heavy guitar solo for a short while, but then the band returns to their progressive sound again. All in all, the nine songs have a playing time of about fifty minutes. There is even a hidden track, but I can’t take this song seriously. It’s a load of rubbish and fun, and it would have made more sense, if they would have added a good bonus track here. STORMBRINGER is surely a name to remember! Website: http://www.stormbringermetal.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

STREAM OF PASSION FEATURING AYREON-Live In The Real World (SPV)
This double CD of STREAM OF PASSION was recorded live on tour. I was fascinated by the heavy sound of the band, especially because the CD wasn’t that heavy always. But in a live situation, there is much more power in STREAM OF PASSION. In nineteen songs and hundred minutes of music, we hear the complete set of the band. And it’s really amazing how well it all sounds! Of course we’re dealing with some great musicians here, but sometimes when a band sounds perfect on CD, they screw up with their live shows. It’s very different with STREAM OF PASSION though. Marcela’s voice shows a lot of resemblance with Anneke van Giersbergen (THE GATHERING) in my opinion. She sounds like she’s floating along the music of the band somehow. A band, consisting of Davy Mickers on drums, Johan van Stratum on bass, Alejandro Millan on keyboards, Marcela Bovio on vocals and violin, Diana Bovio on vocals, Lori Linstruth on guitar and Arjen Lucassen on guitar and vocals. And there is magic between the two guitarplayers here. They know how to create a magic combination of Arjen’s riffs and Lori’s biting guitar solos. Arjen’s love for bands like LED ZEPPELIN and THE BEATLES reveals itself in the different songs, when you listen very carefully. And this is illustrated even more in the first encore, when the band plays “When The Levee Breaks”of THE ZEP. Another magic combination are the Mexican sisters Diana and Marcela Bovio. Marcela is the main singer, but the role of Diana on stage is also very important and not to be missed in the complete picture. Because Marcela was also part of Arjen’s previous projects, we even hear some AYREON songs during this show. Lori provides the metal edges of the sound of STREAM OF PASSION very well, and I cannot tell you how pleased I am, that she was chosen to be part of this magnificent band. Website: http://www.streamofpassion.com. [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THUNDHERSTRUCK-You’ve Been THUNDHERSTRUCK (independent)
Do you remember our review of THE IRON MAIDENS, a tribute CD to IRON MAIDEN, including their best songs covered by this all-female tribute band? Well, get ready for the second tribute CD by THUNDHERSTRUCK this time, full of great AC/DC covers. The songs cover both important chapters of AC/DC. In other words with Bon Scott on vocals, as well as Brian Johnson. Again we can say, that the songs are played with much class and style, and the girls stay very close to the original. THUNDERSTRUCK consists of Dyna Shirasaki on vocals, Andrea Zemeno on bass, Stephanie Leigh on drums, Carin Toti on rhythm guitar and Tina Wood on lead guitar. The band sure knows to capture the power and energy of the original Aussies on CD, and they can be proud of what they’ve accomplished here. After forty-five minutes, the party is over with a big bang, after the band has played “Whole Lotta Rosie” and “For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)”. From Holland, we like to salute THUNDHERSTRUCK, and congratulate them with this mighty fine album. It is a great tribute to one of the best hardrock bands in the world, performed by the band who’s got ‘the biggest balls of them all’, as their biography tells us. We don’t have any doubts about this at all. THUNDERSTRUCK rules. Let there be rock, let there be THUNDERSTRUCK! Website: http://www.thundherstruck.com. [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LUCA TURILLI-The Infinite Wonder Of Creation (Magic Circle Music)
LUCA TURILLI released two CDs in a very short time. One with his band DREAMQUEST, and one under his own name. Both albums have the beautiful vocals of Bridget Fogle, which makes them interesting enough for us to review. But from what I hear here, is this the main reason for reviewing this CD. It’s the past of LUCA TURILLI in RHAPSODY (OF FIRE), that made us decide to review this CD, because the music is more operatic and bombastic, than heavy metal oriented. You could describe the CD as a heavy version of the “Carmina Burana”. The ten songs, although the display of my stereo set tells me, there are ninety-nine songs on this CD, have a total running time of about fifty minutes. I seriously have my doubts about how to rate this album. I seem to like the music from the point of view of a music fan, but when I have to rate it from the point of view of a heavy metal fan, I would be very disappointed. Although there is a very thin line between the different styles sometimes. I love the heavy riffs and the great vocals of Bridget. And the mystical atmosphere, that is created sometimes, sounds very beautiful, too. But still, I do miss the heaviness and guitarsolos that are unbearable for a good heavy metal album. This is definitely perfect as background music, but it’s not an album I will listen to because it’s such a great metal CD. I will give it the benefit of the doubt, because the musicians delivered a true masterpiece here, which balances on the thin line between yes and no, and between good and bad. Next time I want to hear the guitars cry again, Luca! Website: http://www.lucaturilli.net. [6 points] (Toine van Poorten)

WEINHOLD-Below The Line (Armageddon Products/Rock Inc.)
“Below The Line” is the new album of metal legend Jutta Weinhold. If you already enjoyed her work with ZED YAGO and VELVET VIPER, then you can buy this album blindly. The melodic power metal still beats on. And although Jutta adds some new ideas to her sound here and there, it still has got those pounding riffs for which ZED YAGO was so well-known. In title track “Below The Line”, the guitarplayer gets enough space to show his skills and the power explodes to the max in this song. Most of the songs are quite lengthy and prove, that Jutta is still capable of writing some high class metal material. Lars Ratz (METALLIUM) produced the album, and of course he knows what Jutta wants, because he played with her in VELVET VIPER for many years. And I think that’s one of the reasons why everything about the album sounds so authentic, like time stood still. Songs like “Eternity” and “Nothing To Lose” however may be a little bit more difficult to comprehend than the more heavy songs on this album. But these songs show us the diversity of this lady, and that Jutta is capable of singing in several different music styles. For example, a song like “Gift Of Fantasy” could very well be on any old JUDAS PRIEST album, mainly because of the very powerful drum sound. At the end of “The Master’s Work”, the last song on this CD, there is a long open space, and you’ll find a very short, reversed recorded hidden message. “Below The Line” has become a solid rock album in the best JUTTA WEINHOLD tradition, and it is a safe buy for all her fans. Website: http://www.jutta-weinhold.de. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

WIDOW-On Fire (Cruz Del Sur Music)
The good news about this band is, that they are very good and play some decent heavy metal on their album “On Fire”. The bad news however is that female frontlady Lili has left the band, after the CD was released. The energetic music of WIDOW can easily be compared to IRON MAIDEN in their most successful years. Besides Lili on vocals, the band consists of Cristof on lead guitar and vocals, John E on guitars and vocals, Joshua on bass and Marc Anthony on drums. The guitar sound is dirty and raw and in “Re-Animate Her”, I even hear some JUDAS PRIEST influences and some brutal black metal-like growls. And these brutal black metal growls are the only odd thing about WIDOW. Without these growls, the band would sound much better than they already do. It just doesn’t fit to the music and doesn’t add anything to their sound. One of the highlights on this CD for me is a song, called “Misstery”. Just listen to the great tempo and the awesome guitar sound! Everything is right about this song. I have come to the following conclusion. WIDOW is a great traditional heavy metal band without the black metal growls and screams. Listen to “Family Affair” and you’ll know what I mean. The band sounds like any average band here and the growls don’t make it any better. However, if you listen to a song like “Misstery”, you must admit that they sound much better. WIDOW is indeed a name to remember, but I wonder why Lili left the band and if she’s still active in the music scene. I also wonder, what the future will mean to the sound of the band, now their frontlady is gone. Website: http://www.burning-village.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

WITHIN TEMPTATION-The Silent Force Tour (GUN Records/SONY BMG)
This live bonus CD contains the complete show of WITHIN TEMPTATION from Java Island, Amsterdam: sixteen songs and seventy-six minutes of some of the finest gothic metal. Java Island was one of the most important gigs for the band in 2005 and they played a wonderful show that night. The video footage can be seen on the double DVD in the same package and is reviewed elsewhere in our DVD section. This is the live registration of July 22, where the band was supported by DE HEIDEROOSJES and ORPHANAGE. Sharon is a good frontlady, who knows to entertain her audience like no one else can. Her operatic voice is the sparkling highlight of each live gig. Dressed up in the most beautiful creations, which are the trademark of this beautiful singer. It’s a shame, the CD doesn’t bring over that special atmosphere during a song like “Candles” for example. Therefore you have to watch the DVD. WITHIN TEMPTATION performs a ‘best of’ live show here, and this performance is sufficient prove, that they’re one of the top notch Dutch metal bands of today. Of course, the band has to thank a lot from their fantastic live shows, but also musically, WITHIN TEMPTATION is ultrahot. They have grown a lot over the past few years and it shows. This honest reflection of one of their bigger live shows is a living proof of this statement. Website: http://www.withintemptation.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

YEAH YEAH YEAHS-Show Your Bones (Polydor)
This band from New York exists for about five years now, and a lot of people see them as cult heroes already. Their music isn’t too easy to comprehend and leans toward new wave, punk rock and garage rock. The songs are not at all commercial, and on the other hand, there is some catchiness in the sound of this threesome though. In a live situation, their music feels like one big trip, with the maniacal moves of singer Karen O as central figure. Her sometimes distorted vocals give the songs of the YEAH YEAH YEAHS some extra cachet. Together with her eyebrow raising show, she developed herself to the perfect frontlady. Besides all these musical qualities, she is also to be seen as a kind of fashion queen. All of her outfits are unique, one of a kind and designed by a real fashion designer. But let’s go back to the music of Karen and her band. A band, that consists of Nick Zinner on guitar, a man who must’ve heard of Reeves Gabrels I think, because his guitar playing shows some resemblance to the TIN MACHINE, DAVID BOWIE guitarplayer. Brian Chase plays the drums. He has a very dominating sound sometimes, comparable to Megan White of THE WHITE STRIPES. The band is completed with Imaad Wasif on rhythm guitar. Karen O is a mix of BLONDIE, Kat Bjelland (BABES IN TOYLAND/KATASTROPHY WIFE) and PATTI SMITH in one person. For me, the whole album is done very well and contains a few highlights, like “Gold Lion” (which is the first single taken from it), “Cheated Heart” and “Mysteries”. Although the band has got nothing at all to do with hard rock or heavy metal, I love their energy and power a lot. The YEAH YEAH YEAHS have recently also recorded a four track EP with four acoustic tracks on it. Website: http://www.yeahyeahyeahs.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

AFTER FOREVER-Two Sides (CD single) (Transmission Records)
There are four songs on this thirteen minute CDsingle of AFTER FOREVER. It starts with the single version of “Two Sides”, followed by the single version of “Boundaries Are Open”. “Two Sides” has a sort of Eastern feel over it. Floor’s voice is clear, and the sound of the band is not that bombastic. And also the second song sounds more open than you might expect from this band. The operatic voice of Floor sounds a bit in the background this time. “Being Everyone” is on next, and we can enjoy a live recording of this song during the band’s radio appearance at “Lantinga & Swijnenberg” in December 2005. This ‘naked version’ as I would like to call it, sounds very good indeed. It’s AFTER FOREVER without the heavy instrumentation and bombast. The song remains the same though. The single closes with an ‘alternative’ version of “Two Sides”. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ILSE DELANGE-The Great Escape (CD single) (Universal)
When ILSE DELANGE released her new album, the complaint that she got was that it sounded so different from her previous material. In the meantime, the album has reached the platinum status, and it is still selling many copies. People tend to judge too quickly, in my opinion. The first single, taken from the new album is called “The Great Escape”. Ilse’s voice sounds very beautiful, the song is catchy and she derves the giant success that she gains with this release. The second song on this eight minute, two tracker is called “Carry Hope”. Sit down, relax and enjoy Ilse’s voice. What more can I say? What more is there to do, then to enjoy her music that is so warm and tender? Website: http://www.ilsedelange.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

KATRINA JOHANSSON-Guitarsongs Volume I (EP) (M.A.C.E Records)
Four instrumental songs are on this first EP of guitar goddess Katrina Johansson. The fourteen minute EP opens with “Driven”. If you think, this song sounds just average, then you’d better be prepared for the awesome ending, when Katrina’s fingers are warmed up. She dances over the guitar neck, as if she was Mike Batio himself. This lady is real fast, and a nice exmaple is given in “K-9 Lullaby”. This lady mixes speed with melody and technique. Not too many guitarplayers can do this ‘trick’. It’s only gifted to the very best. Think about SATRIANI or VINNIE MOORE. In “Intuition” she does it again. Lots of melody in the rhythm parts, and when the solo spot is on, the speed goes up immensly. It’s like she pulls away in the fifth gear. The fourth song on this EP is called “Daredevil”, which opens with some mean guitarwork. Katrina’s band consists of Brad Rohrssen on drums and Micheal Angelo Batio on bass, by the way. And they know, it is the guitar playing of Katrina, that is the highlight here. And I think, that with “Daredevil” she composed one helluva song, which is easily the best of these four for me. Her music is a bit more guitar-oriented than JENNIFER BATTEN for example, and if you like the work of true guitar shredders like VINNIE MOORE, JOE SATRIANI, STEVE VAI or MARTY FRIEDMAN (the man’s earlier solo work), then you have to buy this release. The only negative thing about this EP would be the short running time. But therefore, people invented the ‘replay’ button. And the title of the EP predicts there will be more of this lady in the (hopefully) near future. After the holidays, I will also try if this lady is interested in telling us some more about her guitar playing, her heroes and which spicy food she likes the most. Check it out and and buy this rough diamond. That’s the only advise I can give to you now. Website: http://www.katrinaguitar.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LORDI-Hard Rock Hallelujah (CD single) (Drakkar)
LORDI put the heavy metal back on the map by winning the Eurovision Song Contest in Riga. The song may be simple, but it’s very catchy indeed. And the people voted it as the best song. Was it the song that made them decide this, or was it the sensational show these people pull off, when they play live? I would go for the last option. Anyway, the single contains three songs, worthy of ten minutes of LORDI mayhem. First we hear the ‘Eurovicious Radio Edit’ of the hitsingle, followed by the album version. “Mr. Killjoy” is the last track here, which could have been a perfect follow up for “Hard Rock Hallelujah”. But there is more, if you buy the right version of the CD single. On the extended version, you can watch the video clips for “Hard Rock Hallelujah”, “Blood Red Sandman” and “Devil Is A Loser”. These bonus clips turn this single into a ‘must have’ for all the LORDI fans out there. Face the truth. They accomplished a huge hit with this song. The people of Finland didn’t like the idea of the band going to the Eurovision Song Contest in the first place. Now they’re willing to name a square after the band. The band leader Mr. Lordi has just got married, and has opted the idea to create a fun parc in the very Northern parc of Finland. These are no vicous, devil worshipping monsters. These are five hard working Finnish musicians with a great feeling for horror and gifted to play catchy metal songs in the vein of ALICE COOPER. A concept, that everybody seems to like out there. There is nothing wrong with that. Look for the latest information about these monsters on http://www.lordi.org. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

POSTMAN FEATURING ANOUK-Downhill (CD single) (EMI)
I never thought, that I would ever review a single or CD of POSTMAN in my life. Well, it’s only seven minutes and two songs, so what can really happen that I can’t handle? The main and one and only reason why we do this is that ANOUK is featured on the single “Downhill”, and her input is really essential, too. POSTMAN raps along at high speed and ANOUK sings an the background. But she does it in a way, that she can’t be missed. And I kinda like it, because her input fits very well to her way of singing. I had to put the bass sound down real low though, because I am not really used to the bouncing sound of the bass beat. “They Know” is the second song here, without ANOUK’s contribution. Now I remember why I never listened to POSTMAN before. ANOUK makes the difference here, and if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t write one single word about the man’s music. The rating is everything between zero and ten, because I can’t tell how open-minded you are. NOT interesting at all for metal fans! [6 points] (Toine van Poorten)

[Updated: Nov. 10, 2006]

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