CD REVIEWS


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


September/October 2005:

AFTER FOREVER-Remagine (Transmission Records)
This is a very quick follow-up to their previous album “Invisible Circles” in 2004. For fifty minutes, we get to hear the well-known AFTER FOREVER sound, finished with choirs and an orchestra and divided over twelve brand new songs. Bombastic, yet still heavy. The incredible voice of Floor Jansen being at the centre of AFTER FOREVER. Assisted by a band, that blasts at full speed and completed with angry growls, which makes your worst enemy’s flesh creep. While at other times they sound very colourful, backed up by a bombastic orchestra and the warm full sound of an opera choir. And of course everything else inbetween that will catch your ears, if you take a listen to this new statement by one of Holland’s leading metal bands. Sometimes we also hear influences of a band like NIGHTWISH, which can not be denied. Just listen to “Living Shields” for example. “Only Everything” sounds the total opposite though and the band follows a more heavy approach here, while “Strong” is a pretty emotional ballad. All music styles are represented on this new CD, which makes it very diverse. It is the most complete album of the band so far, but very safe in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a great album, but not very renewing or refreshing to their earlier work or all the other bands in this scene. The high rating is well-deserved, because of the high quality musicianship of the band. AFTER FOREVER is Floor Jansen on vocals, Sander Gommans on guitars, Bas Maas on guitars, Joost van Gerven on synths, Luuk van Gerven on bass and Andre Borgman on drums. Website: http://www.afterforever.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ANGEL-A Woman’s Diary – Chapter I (Black Lotus Records/Rock Inc.)
With a well-earned vacation on the outlook, I start to review the first CD after our last printed issue of Metal Maidens. Don’t confuse this CD of ANGEL with the American band ANGEL that had Gregg Giuffria on keyboards and Punky Meadows on guitar. And although this may have some connections to IMPERIA, it’s still a completely different band. The most important member is Helena Iren Michaelsen, who is the lead singer in both ANGEL and IMPERIA. The music of ANGEL however takes a very personal look into the deepest emotions of this beautiful lady singer. She opens her heart completely on these twelve songs, and combines this emotional trip with bombastic sounds, which makes this CD a very passionate masterpiece. It’s less bombastic than IMPERIA and sometimes I get this feeling that she shares a passion for the middle ages as well. A song like “Little Princess” wouldn’t look bad on an album of BLACKMORE’S NIGHT for example. We’ve witnessed a live show of IMPERIA some time ago and that was very emotional. I foresee that the live shows of ANGEL will have an even bigger impact. After all, this is the musical diary of Helena, as the title suggests already. And as everybody probably will know, a diary has its sunny side but it also may contain some black pages of your life, which you’d rather forget about. The band of ANGEL consists of Jan ‘Orkki’ Yrlund (ex-LACRIMOSA, DANCE MACABRE) on guitars, John Stam (ex-MAC 11) on guitar, Gerry Verstreken (ex-MANIC MOVEMENT) on bass, Steve Wolz (ex-BETHLEHEM) on drums and Audun Gronnestad on orchestrations. All vocal outings are done by the magnificent Helena Iren Michaelsen herself. To call this metal would go much too far. The music is a mix of pop, gothic, wave and rock, but at a time where there are hardly any bounds, it doesn’t look strange to review this for a metal website. Especially considering the high quality music, that is played on this album. In fact, you may think that you are dealing with an angel here, but when you take a good look at Helena, she’s more like a hungry wolf in sheeps clothing with devil horns on her head. Highlights on the album for me are: “Lead You Through Fire”, “Flames Of Desire” and the KATE BUSH-like and very spooky sounding “Darkness”. Website: http://www.helena-michaelsen.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ANTI HERO-Unpretty (HER Records)
The grunge scene was full of anti heroes. Well, here are four more, but they still sound pretty fresh, while the others from the grunge scene are dead and burried yet. ANTI HERO consists of Jesse Tomes (ex-ELIMINATE THE BODY) on lead guitar, Matty Cole (ex-THE SHIFTED) on drums, and the two lady members Rose Perry (ex all-female band HER) on vocals, rhythm guitar and bass and Nic VanHaverbeke on bass and rhythm guitar. This last one sounds pretty much like a Dutch name, by the way, and I won’t be surprised if she has Dutch parents or grandparents. The eleven songs on this debut CD have a running time of about forty minutes. I would like to compare the fresh sounding music of these four Canadian youngsters with HOLE, L7, AVRIL LAVIGNE or THE DOUGHNUTS. Meaning that they mix grunge with alternative rock and create it to a sound of their own. In fact, their sound is very easy on the ear and it’s not unlikely that the band should get some radio airplay here and there. The songs are catchy enough for it. “More Or Less” and “Lullaby” are the highlights on this disc. Both have a slightly more aggressive sound, which I liked a lot. The musicians are well-skilled and next to some nice riffs, we also get to hear a few good guitar solos, which is an advantage for the overall sound. The music of ANTI HERO is definitely not unpretty, and if I wasn’t married for over ten years now, I would have send my marriage proposal (see CD booklet) to the two beautiful frontladies of this band. A band with a lot of potential, if you’d ask my humble opinion. Website: http://www.anti-hero.ca. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ARCH ENEMY-Doomsday Machine (Century Media)
After reading the first comments about the new ARCH ENEMY album, I was really looking forward to hearing this monster myself. It has become an even better album than “Anthems Of Rebellion”, which was a killer album and unequalled in beauty. The new CD contains ninety-nine tracks sharp. Well, at least if I have to believe the indicator on my CD player. But a good listener will come to the conclusion that the album consists of eleven tracks with a total length of about fifty minutes. What attracted me the most in this new album is the great axework of the Amott brothers and the many speed and mood changes. Just listen to the METALLICA like approach in “My Apocalypse” for example. It may be the ARCH ENEMY alternative to songs like “One” or “Master Of Puppets”. While the opening riff of “Carry The Cross” sounds more like “Thunderstruck” of AC/DC. And I mean just the opening riff. Don’t let there be any misunderstanding about this, please! Angela’s voice sounds darker than ever. She is a bit more growling instead of screaming. In “I Am Legend”/”Out For Blood”, I would say that the band is being chased by a herd of wild elephants. The immense speed in this song can possibly be added to the Guiness Book Of World Records. “Doomsday Machine” has turned out to be a real masterpiece. It’s the definitive prove of how a thrash album should sound these days. Exciting, full of variation and full with music of the highest quality imaginable. Listening to a thrash album slowly becomes a beautiful art this way. Website: http://www.archenemy.net. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BESEECH-Sunless Days (Napalm Records)
This is the third release of BESEECH. The female input on the album comes from Lotta Höglin, who has a pretty voice to listen to. The rest of the band consists of Erik Molarin on male vocals, Jonas Strömberg on drums, Robert Vintervind on guitars, Manne Engström on guitar (ex-FATAL EMBRACE, ex-SUNDOWN CEMETERY), Daniel Elofsson on bass and Mikael Back on keyboards. The opener “Interlane” is pretty easy to listen to. It could even have some hit potential in a certain way. “The Outpost” is a bit more atmospheric and it will not be impossible to dance on this track. The distorted vocals of Erik in “A Bittersweet Tragedy” sometimes reminds me of DAVID BOWIE, while Lotta sounds more like Anneke van Giersbergen of THE GATHERING in her early days. Add to this the loud guitar riffs, giving them the rights to be reviewed here, and you’ll get an exciting mix of highly accessible music, based on a loud foundation. “Devil’s Plaything” is a cover of DANZIG with male vocals, which reminded me of Peter Steele of TYPE O NEGATIVE. The CD closes with a short instrumental outtro called “The Reverend Mind”. The full album has a total playing time of about three quarters of an hour, and when you buy the digipack version of “Sunless Days”, you’ll get another two bonus tracks to enjoy. The title of the album predicts many sunless days after listening to the music of BESEECH. However, some listeners won’t agree on that and they will see all their sorrow disappear in no time. Website: http://www.beseech.net. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BLARE BITCH PROJECT-Double Distortion Burger (Steel Cage Records)
If you see this band, better run and hide, ‘cause they are responsible for a lot of musical violence on this nine song silver disc. They create such an explosive atmosphere, which are a slam in the face with a jemmy. Phoenix will shake on its foundations, when BLARE BITCH PROJECT is in their hometown, because this CD is hot, wet and dripping with a lot of sweat. It’s like pure alcohol on an AA get together, sex with an alligator, a mouthful of meat loaf (not the singer) with extra ketchup and mustard, a thunderflash on a clear night, a polar bear in the desert or a church full of atheists. It’s something you’ll only believe, when you see it with your own two eyes, and if you witness it, it will only happen once in your entire life. This CD bears so much energy, you could lighten up a whole city! Did you expect anything else with titles like “Knock Me Out”, “Drink” or “Shut The Fuck Up” – a ballad perhaps? Don’t make me laugh! This is rock with balls. The guitars are plugged in, the volume knob is turned up completely to the right, until it can’t go any further. The drums sound loud and the bass player makes your stomach move from your belly to your throat. It’s like NASHVILLE PUSSY or any other high octane fueled rock band. It’s like AC/DC with female members, it’s like ROSE TATTOO without the baldy singer, it’s like JOAN JETT joining old school MOTÖRHEAD, it’s like sex without a condom! It’s ultrahot, but very risky. Take my word for it, and take a big bite from this “Double Distortion Burger”. A big burp will follow, but what the hack! It’s fucking party time. BLARE BITCH PROJECT consists of Chase Manhattan on drums, Johnny Black on bass, Punky on guitar and vocals and Blare N Bitch on guitar and vocals. Punky made the “Double Distortion Burger” on the CD sleeve. I think I’ll order another one, with barbecue sauce this time and a large coke. BURP!! Go to: http://www.blarebitchproject.com. for more information about these extremely dangerous blokes and bitches! [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

…BUT NOT FORGOTTEN-S/T (But Not Forgotten Music)
…BUT NOT FORGOTTEN hails from New Jersey, and their music is a good mix of punk rock, hard core and nu-metal. The first comparison, that crossed my mind, after listening to opener “Colly Antic”, are the (now defuncted) band BLITZ BABIEZ from Australia. Mainly because their female vocalist shows a lot of resemblance with Joanne of ‘the Babiez’. I also hear some similarity to Dutch lady singers ANOUK and Jacqueline Govaerts of KREZIP (when performing their louder songs). The music of …BUT NOT FORGOTTEN is more than just ordinairy riffing or very loud yelling. You can definitely hear, they are some well-talented musicians. Just listen to “Six Feet Is Too Deep (For You)”, which is more than just an average punk rock song. Also the next (self-titled) instrumental song tells you, there’s a lot of talent in this band, who distinguish themselves from a lot of other punk rock bands. They have already shared the stage with KITTIE, OTEP and CRISIS, to name but a few. And I think, I won’t fool you when I say that if you like these aforementioned names, you’ll also dig the music of this band. “My Fall Turn Gray” sounds a bit like “Killing In The Name Of” of RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, and “From First To Final Stitch” contains some very remarkable and exciting breaks. …BUT NOT FORGOTTEN consists of Vanessa Diaz on vocals, Ed Barrios on lead guitar, Elo Hernandez on bass, Elias Arroyo on rhythm guitar and Alfred Soler on percussion. These twelve songs show us, that there are still some talented bands out there, who are able to play more than repeating riffs for fifty minutes. The production could perhaps have been a little better, but their musical ideas are very nice. Website: http://www.butnotforgotten.net. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CONTRACTION-La Bourse Ou La Vie (ProgresSon Music)
Two albums by the Montreal-based progressive band CONTRACTION, have been reissued on CDs in Canada. CONTRACTION was a short-lived group that achieved considerable recognition in Quebec, and widespread critical acclaim during the mid-1970s. These albums have been out of print for more than twenty years. CONTRACTION may well have been one of the most underrated bands in Canada. Their music was like a hard rock version of EMERSON, LAKE AND PALMER. They featured the same classically-influenced instrumental passages, making extensive use of electric piano, but at the same time included powerful electric guitar riffs and heavy bass lines. The vocalist, Christiane Robichaud, was a strong singer, with a classically-trained voice. She was backed by a shifting alignment of about eight instrumentalists. The reason that they remained obscure was that they sang in French. The result was that while they were one of the most popular acts in Quebec at the time, they never managed to break into the rest of Canada, or get much any play south of the border. The band recorded two albums. The second was called “La Bourse Ou La Vie” (loosely translated, “Money Or Life”), and was an impressive effort. Side one consisted of a selection of hard rockers and short instrumentals. The best track on the album was the title song, which took up the entire second side. The song starts out with a slow instrumental passage, with acoustic guitars introducing the theme, then the drums and electric guitars come in, playing variations on the theme at a faster pace. Abruptly, the song segues into a quieter passage with electric piano, and Christiane’s vocals come in, with an altogether different melody and strange, surrealistic lyrics. The pace picks up again, and the song concludes with a hard, fast-paced instrumental section. One can only speculate what would have happened if this band had been able to reach a wider audience. Their playing was definitely world-caliber. As it was, they were perhaps the best band that nobody outside of Quebec has ever had the chance to listen to. Their two CDs are available at selected internet stores in Canada. Both are currently listed at: www.amazon.ca. The CONTRACTION CDs were reissued by ProgresSon Music in Canada. Their website has a press release: http://www.progresson.com. [no rating] (Gordon Richards)

DAMNZAL-Damnzal (independent)
Four loud, wild, beautiful girls and one metal boy keeping the beat together bashing his drum kit, that’s what DAMNZAL is all about in a nutshell. And if the “Intro” won’t wake you up already, your eyes will definitely be opened with “Superstar”. They continue with a good version of the RUNAWAYS cover “Cherry Bomb”. No big surprise, when you know that one of the ladies of DAMNZAL is a huge RUNAWAYS fan. It’s a tribute to this all-female metal band. “Come On” is another solid rock song, and with “I Feel Used” they take down speed a little. It’s a heavy, ballad-like song with lots of power. You can almost feel the anger of the ladies, when listening to the lyrics. In “Sin City” (which is not an AC/DC cover, but it could very well be, as both bands are from Down Under), the band throws in a more new fashioned sounding song. I hear distorted, angry vocals, and lots of heavy riffs. It’s the way KITTIE would have played a song. However with “Hey Way” they return back to their more traditional approach. And I think you can guess already that CD closer “Vibrator” is not about superstars, sin cities or cherry bombs. It’s more an ode to the biggest friend of every lady, the electric milkman, the low voltage batteried postman, if you know what I mean. The lyrics of the song say, that the ladies like their pink vibrator better than a hot rod made of flesh and blood…..Anyway, this reminded me of the following joke. A huge, fat lady wants to buy a vibrator. But she’s far too embarassed to go to the sex shop in her hometown. So she replies to an ad in her newspaper. She phones this guy, and he tells her that he will make an appointment with her. The only thing she has to do is to search for her favorite toy, pay and enjoy. They make an appointment, the man rings at her apartment, she comes out of her house and looks into the trunk of the man’s car, where hundreds of different vibrators are stalled out. She makes her difficult choice, after all she needs quite a huge one. But when she points at the beautiful shining, red vibrator of her choice, the salesman replies that she can buy every vibrator in his car, but that he doesn’t want to sell his fire extinguisher…… Bomber! Anyway, if you want to get Rocked with a capital R, better have a listen to this great debut album of DAMNZAL. The band consists of Tania Pennisi on lead vocals (ex RUBY DOOMSDAY), Paula Condell on lead guitar (ex-VELVET HAMMER), Bindy Paxton on rhythm guitar (ex-FIRE SIGN), Vanessa Payne on bass guitar (ex-RUBY DOOMDSDAY) and Scott Danson on drums (ex-CYCLONE TRACY). Let DAMNZAL rock your world today, and visit http://www.damnzal.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DELPHIAN-Oracle (Lion Music)
DELPHIAN consists of Coert Bouten on guitar, Marcel Volleberg on guitar, Sjoerd Hoeijmakers on bass, Roel van Helden on drums and Aniek Janssen on vocals and flute. The most interesting fact is, that the female vocalist in this Dutch progressive rock band plays the flute, which will immediately allot them a special place in the scene. However, this is not the only thing that makes them special. The band is also capable of playing some of the most outstanding songs. From the first notes on, you will know that this is not just another gothic band with a female vocalist. DELPHIAN’s music lies far away from that overcrowded scene, and there’s much more to enjoy in the ten songs on this fifty-five minute debut album. Many complicated breaks and various speed and mood changes, that’s what DELPHIAN is all about. Guitar wise, I even hear some touches of IRON MAIDEN. Just listen to “Sylvester’s Dusk”. Above all, there’s the clean vocals of Aniek, who definitely could be seen as another discovery in the world of female frontladies. In “Sylvester’s Dusk”, we also hear the flute playing of Aniek, after yet another great mood alteration at the end of this song. A very powerful tempo change, which flows from an early MARILLION kind of mood into her sphereful flute playing and swings back again where the IRON MAIDEN-like guitars return as well. The moody guitar chords in the intro of “Moments” make sure once again, that DELPHIAN’s music goes far beyond average. While “Oracle” is a real treat to your ears. Joost van den Broek (STAR ONE) took care of the mix and also played some additional keyboards on the album. This CD is a must have for every progressive metal fan. Website: http://www.delphian-metal.nl. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ELEGEION-The Last Moment (Dark Symphonies)
Over the years, Dark Symphonies has gained an excellent reputation, when it comes to bringing the finest taste in dark wave, ambient and black metal music genres. Their releases are always very well put together, and are well-known for their dark and moody atmosphere. The CD of ELEGEION is no exception to this golden rule. This Australian atmospheric dark doom band began their career as TRANSCENDENCE. ELEGEION consists of James on drums, bass and acoustic guitar, Anthony on guitar, bass and laments and Dieudonnee on vocals and piano. What a wonderful name for this lady! It fits perfectly with the heavenly music she makes, but that’s another story. The band was helped out by some session musicians like Brendan Pearn on cello, Tori Phillips on violin and Justin Hartwig on lead guitar. Opener and title track “The Last Moment” is already one of the highlights on this album. It reminded me a lot of PINK FLOYD halfway through the song. When the guitars start to cry, it simply becomes magic, and it really sounds freaking fabulous to me. “Scars” is Dieudonnee’s solo piece on vocals and piano. It sounds very dark and moody, and the lady has written all the lyrics and music herself. It captures all the emotion, that it needs. In “Solitude”, we hear the black metal roots of the band in the vocal parts. If I would have to search for comparisions, I’d come up with OPETH, THE 3RD AND THE MORTAL, PORCUPINE TREE and PINK FLOYD, but actually it’s much darker than that. ELEGEION knows how to deal with it very well. Even the cover art of this third album of the band is done in black and white only. And I must say, that I really liked it. Not only it matches perfectly with the sound of the band, but it also reflects some kind of mysteriousness, that makes you dying to hear the seven songs on this forty minute album. The sudden change to the last black metal like outting in CD closer “Confusion” is a little bit unnecessary, if you’d ask my honest opinion. If listening to “The Last Moment” would be really your last moment, you’d at least die happy.Website: http://www.elegeion.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

EPICA-The Score – An Epic Journey (Transmission Records)
What? Another new album of EPICA?? Yes and no, my dear friends. This is “The Score” - the soundtrack of the Dutch movie “Joyride”, which is for the greater part written by Mark Jansen, Yves Huts and Coen Janssen of EPICA. Please don’t expect to hear EPICA the way we know them so well, because this is EPICA without the gothic rock taking their listeners one step further away from their regular stuff. Most of the songs are done without vocals, drums or guitars. Instead, they are performed as instrumental, almost classical soundtracks. The three songs, that do contain the female voice of front woman Simone Simons, are already to be found on their previous album “Consign To Oblivion”. So obviously, only “Quietous”, “Trois Vierges” and “Solitairy Ground” are interesting for the people, who like the well-known EPICA sound. The remainder of the songs drift apart of what EPICA stands for in general. Although it is really beautiful music, I believe that you better have a listen first before you decide to buy this album. I would have released this album as ‘the soundtrack of “Joyride - the movie” ’ performed by EPICA, or something like that. It’s a bit strange this album, which derives so much from the original sound of the band, was released under the name EPICA. Anyway, I’d like to give this album two different ratings. For heaviness, it will only receive two points, due to the fact I explained earlier in this review. For creativity, beautiness and the atmospheric approach of the songs (which will show up well on a dark and cold winternight, when turning the lights down low), it will receive four points. People, who like the combination of bombastic sounds and loud riffs, will probably go for the first rating, while the more romantic and gothic like people, who think that the bombastic, theatrical-like music of EPICA sounds perfect, will go for the second one. The average rating is for the entire album, given by an average metal fan, because after all we’re not dealing with a real metal release here. I’m curious what the movie looks like though…. Website:http:// www.epica.nl. [6 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ERAZER-Erazer (EP) (independent)
There is something beautiful happening on the Dutch horizon. The star of a young true metal band is rising, and this band is called ERAZER. They consist of Walter Dirkx on drums, Cor Jolie on bass, Luuk Wanders on guitars, Matt Rosenbrand on guitars and Angelique de Jager on vocals. These five metalheads from Eindhoven show us that their metal heart is at the right place. Influences of JUDAS PRIEST, JAG PANZER and other old school metal bands are the main ingredients of their sound. Angelique is a good singer with a clear voice and she also has a fine stage presentation. The three songs on this EP are high quality metal songs, and they are worthy of about fifteen minutes. You’ll hear a good uptempo opener, called “Cold Vision”, an epic metal tune called “Phoenix” (which was certainly the highlight of their set, when seeing them live on stage recently), and a great ballad, called “Well Midnight”, which could have been on any SCORPIONS album in their Uli Jon Roth days. ERAZER simply screams for more attention, and they will get it. Just read the next lines, where I review their most recent five track EP. An interview with the band will hopefully follow soon. Website: http://www.erazer.cjb.net. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ERAZER-Fight For It (EP) (independent)
What will draw your attention immediately, is that the production has improved big time on these five songs. Another major accomplishment, the band has archieved in a short while, are the cool speed changes, they sometimes add to their songs. Just listen to the great break in opener “Cries In The Night”. It sure adds more variation to the already great sound on this second EP. The sleeve of this EP also looks really cool! I really liked their ‘knight on a horse holding a flying V and leaving a burning city’ idea very much. However, I was not really charmed by the harmony vocals in “Tomorrow’s Here”. But that’s a minor detail, I am willing to forgive them immediately. I know for sure, that ERAZER will please the fans of IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST and all the other true metal bands from the eighties. Songs, that will carry along the old fashioned metal torch. The feeling of togetherness, strength, power and the will to survive. They sure will survive, and they will hopefully spread along the true metal message, that’s slowly fading in the dark. ERAZER puts back the heavy metal on the map again, and they can be very proud of this accomplishment. Five songs, worthy of half an hour true heavy metal, what more can you ask for? Website: http://www.erazer.cjb.net. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE EYELINERS-No Apologies (Blackheart Records)
THE EYELINERS don’t have to apologise, because this brandnew fourteen track album is full with different tunes ranging from pop rock songs to wild punk rock anthems. Two of the songs on this new album have a very special guest join in. And I must admit, that these songs are lifted to an even higher level by the input of this special guest, because “Do Anything You Wanna Do” and “Destroy” are definitely two of the highlights on this CD. The special guest is no one else but former RUNAWAYS punk rocker JOAN JETT. No wonder, that the album was released on Joan’s own Blackheart label. The songs may show some resemblance to the music of Joan, too. Sometimes they’re punky and wild, and at other times they’re modest and a bit more poppy. But we can always speak of high quality music here. Lisa (bass, backing vocals), Gel (guitar, piano, backing vocals) and Laura (drums and lead vocals) are sisters, and I can’t think of a more solid foundation than the bond these three ladies have. And if they are able to release other catchy albums like this “No Apologies”, then we’ll definitely hear more of them in the near future. Joan is also to be seen in the nice video clip of “Destroy” - a song that you’ll keep on singing, once you’ve heard it. ‘Real men listen to THE EYELINERS’ is the slogan on their t-shirts, and I can totally agree with this great one-liner. Onliners can go to the bands’ website at: http:// www.theeyeliners.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

FEAR 44-Factory Defect (independent)
FEAR 44 is another talented band from Baltimore, Maryland, USA. We already introduced you to SCARLET ANGEL last time, and this band hails from the same neighbourhood. Their music sounds a lot different, although they both can be captured under the monnicker ‘heavy metal’. FEAR 44 consists of two ladies and two male members. They are Mark Wenger on vocals, Chris Amos on bass, Angie Cioka on drums and Rita Weidinger on guitar. The music of FEAR 44 sounds a bit more alternative in a way, at least not as traditional as SCARLET ANGEL. The ten songs on this debut album give you a good example of how metal sounds in this new millennium. Lots of screams, low and high, galloping beats and repeating riffs. The band has already shared the stage with the likes of KITTIE, OTEP and CRISIS and I think that if you are into these aforementioned bands, you will definitely dig the sound of FEAR 44. Add to this a bit of SLAYER and MACHINE HEAD and you’ll come close to what FEAR 44 is all about. After the last notes of the song “The End” have faded, just play your ‘fast forward’ button for the hidden track. “The End” is also my favorite song on the CD, by the way. But I am sure, that everybody has his own ideas about this, so grab your own copy and crank it up real loud! Website: http:// www.fear44.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

FOREVER SLAVE-Alice’s Inferno (Armageddon Music/Rock Inc.)
FOREVER SLAVE was formed in Spain in the year of the millennium. They present us their debut album right now. Their musical ideas might have been done many times before, but the way these Spanish metallians do it, makes them sound a bit different. Let’s not jump to conclusions and introduce the band a bit closer to you. They consist of Michael on bass, Servalath on guitar, Ignacio on violin and vocals, Edward on drums and grunts, Oswalth on guitar, Leal on keyboards and piano and Lady Angellyca on soprano vocals. And I can hear you think ‘Oh, yet another gothic metal band with angel-like vocals and brutal male screams’. How wrong you are! Well, you might be right just a little bit, but their music is much more heavy and it sounds like a mix between power metal and gothic metal. Just listen to the lengthy guitar solos in openers “Lunatic Asylum” and “Reminiscences” for example. After that, the music becomes rather moody as part of the lyrical concept, but it’s still very nice what I hear. Lady Angellyca is the founder member of the band and the lyrical concept of this debut album is very nicely worked out in ten songs, that have a playing time of about fifty-five minutes. I also liked the black corpse paint on Lady Angellyca’s face, as shown on the front cover of the CD. It’s just a small detail maybe, but it also proves that this band is trying to do more with their music than the average gothic metal band in this scene. More info at: http://www.ladyangellyca.com. and http://www.foreverslave.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE GATHERING-Accessoires – Rarities & B Sides (Century Media Records)
Two hours and twenty-five minutes of music, divided over twenty-seven songs and put together on two silver discs. It’s certainly a dream come true for every real fan of THE GATHERING. All of these songs were taken from singles, tribute CDs, live recordings, alternate take outs and demo sessions. In fact, what more can you ask for? After all, THE GATHERING can be seen as one of the most important metal bands of the nineties and thereafter. Witness the musical evolution of a band, that flirted with music styles like gothic, dance, rock, pop, electro and even black or death metal in their very early stage. Going through the songs, one by one, would be an immense job. But it felt like magic to hear Anneke’s voice add that little bit extra, that turns a lot of these songs into something special. Sometimes, the music sounds very experimental, but at other times we also hear great songs with long, heavy instrumental parts. That is the power and the strength of a band like THE GATHERING. They never sound dull or without variation. Listening to these two CDs, makes you realise how much musical quality this band really has. Although not always very heavy, they guarantee you a constant high quality. Enjoy the different styles of one of the most successful Dutch metal bands. It might even open your eyes for a band, that is really something special in the world of loud music. Website: http:// www.sandandmercury.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

GODDESS OF DESIRE-Awaken The Pagan Gods (Armageddon Records)
Oh no! They woke up the Pagan Gods again, so you’d better hide in your shelters from now on. The best way to have a good listen to this fourth album of GODDESS OF DESIRE is to turn up the volume real loud first. Then raise your right hand, but beware that you only point your little finger and your fore finger in the air as high as you can, then slowly start to move your head up and down, and with your other hand you push the ‘play’ button on your stereo set. After about forty-five minutes just play the ‘repeat’ button again. Got that?!? Right, what you get to hear is old school heavy metal with references to IRON MAIDEN, VENOM, CELTIC FROST and MOTÖRHEAD (“Nothing’s Free”). Most of the times they play at full speed, but even in a song like the more doomy “Bloodstained Sight”, they truly know to impress. The female input is not to be heard on the CD, however it’s an essential part of GODDESS OF DESIRE, especially in the great shows that the band plays. There, Delilah is an unbearable part. She’s in charge of all the female effects, how they call it wisely in their CD booklet. She spits fire and consumes the hungry looks of the male audience, and takes care of some very exciting other show effects that I won’t even talk about in this review. Besides Delilah, the GODDESS OF DESIRE herself, the band consists of Bastard on drums, Lord Arydon on guitar and vocals, and Count August on bass and vocals. Lord Arydon however has left the band after the release of this CD, and he is now replaced by Cape Fear. Every true and devoted metalhead will have to buy this album, which sounds better than the previous one, in my opinion. Just listen to the great VENOM-like ‘over the top’ approach in “Demolition” for example, then you’ll know what I mean. Great stuff to show all the non-believers, what heavy metal is all about. A lesson well-learned in twelve metal tracks, divided over almost forty-five loud minutes. Website: http://www.goddessofdesire.nl. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BETH HART-Leave The Light On (Universal Records)
BETH HART made the same impression on me as JOSS STONE. Her good looks, soulful voice with lots of emotions and especially the capability of writing great songs. Besides the good live reputation of both ladies, there are other similarities between the two of them. However, BETH HART rocks much louder than Joss does, which perhaps gives her more priority to be reviewed in our ‘zine. Life hasn’t always treated her well. Beth has gone through some very tough times, which she sometimes reflects in her lyrics as well as her music. But in general, Beth makes some good hard rocking songs with lots of power. This edition of “Leave The Light On” contains some of her best work and comes along with a bonus disc, which contains five live tracks. The CD has sixteen tracks with a total length of about a full hour. It’s not strange to compare her voice to the old, uptempo songs of ANOUK, but Beth sounds a little bit more mature. Another connection that she has with ANOUK is the cooperation with GOLDEN EARRING frontman Barry Hay. We hear the two of them together in a duet, called “I Don’t Wanna Be” - a song that became a hit for Gavin DeGraw, who originally wrote it a couple of years after the album was released. When I listen to “Lifts You Up”, I hear comparisons with ILSE DE LANGE, too. And people may also think about MELISSA ETHERIDGE, when listening to this new rock diva. “Leave The Light On” is the third album of Beth already, so she is actually not really a newcomer. But the bigger public seems to discover her talent right now, especially after her great appearance at the Dutch Pinkpop festival this summer. The five live tracks were recorded at Studio Paradiso and the L.A. Livingroom in Los Angeles, California. They are worthy of another twenty-five minutes full of BETH HART emotions. Great release! [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BETH HART-Live At Paradiso (Universal Records)
This is a thirteen track, seventy-five minute live CD of BETH HART’s concert at the Paradiso in Amsterdam, recorded in May 2004. And that’s exactly what we want to hear. Beth is a woman that you don’t want to see behind the sink, making a cup of coffee. On the contrary, this lady belongs live on stage, all over the world. She’s a real rock and roll animal, and she shows it on this live CD, that was recorded in Holland. The same concert is also available on DVD, but let’s focus on the audio part here. All the hits are there, except the duet she did with Barry Hay of the GOLDEN EARRING. Besides that, you can enjoy a very powerful set, that only consists of highlights. Emotional vocals in “Leave The Light On”, a dynamic atmosphere in “Lifts You Up”, wonderful guitars in “Broken & Ugly”; it’s all there. Beth’s backing band consists of Jon Nichols on guitar, Tom Lilly on bass and John Nyman on drums, while Beth herself plays some piano and guitar as well. Besides eleven self-penned tracks, we also hear two well-chosen covers of RANDY NEWMAN (“Guilty”) and LED ZEPPELIN (“Whole Lotta Love”). BETH HART is a big promise for the future. JANIS JOPLIN is dead, long live BETH HART. Website: http:// www.bethhart.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HEATHER LEATHER-Princess Leather (independent)
It’s about time somebody here in Europe will write about this superb all-female heavy metal band from America. HEATHER LEATHER consists of Sylvia Garza on guitar and backing vocals, Sandy Garza on drums and backing vocals and Ruth Garza on drums and vocals. Opener and title track “Princess Leather” obviously has a very underground feel. This is not a perfect production, but it’s all-female heavy metal pur sang. The CD was recorded in 1988 already and now it finally sees the light of day in a very limited quantity of 250 copies. There are eight songs on this thirty minutes CD, including the seven inch single these leather princesses released in 1985. Some of the pictures show the ladies in an outfit that could have been worn by a MARIAH CAREY or CHRISTINA AGUILERA, but in general they are dressed in the well-known leather, chains and studs outfit, that you probably will know of bands like JUDAS PRIEST, TYRANT or DESTRUCTION. Same applies to their music, but here the differences are not that extreme. Opener “Princess Leather” is awesome, while “Angel Lover” sounds quite average. “Screaming Angels” makes up for that little mistake pretty easily. Great drum sounds, high screaming vocals and guitars that cry even more. Perfect! Same goes for “Let’s Rock”. These latino babies are so damn hot, it’s very hard to believe that they didn’t become real super stars in their days of existence. They sound incredible! The machine gun like drum fills are almost a point of recognition and turn the album into something really special. “Now You Return” is the obligatory ballad here. I think, every good metal album needs one. “Pretty Shy Boy” shows us the latino salsa origin (Mexico) of the band members. SANTANA fans may like this, but it’s not metal. Next we hear “We Came To Destroy”, which sounds like true metal again and contains a great guitar solo of Sylvia. You may recognise this song from their seven inch single in 1985. The CD closes with the song “Undercover”, which sounds very much like LITA FORD. But if you listen carefully, you might recognise the flipside of this seven inch, which was at that time called “Child Molester”. Literally, it has gone undercover now! Never thought, we would run into a full-length album by this sexy, all-female cult metal band, but I am glad we did anyway. If any former bandmember(s), relative(s), or other person(s), who reads this review and knows the ex-band members of HEATHER LEATHER, please be so kind to get them in contact with us, so we can finally find out what happened to these three hard rocking ladies, that sometimes looked like MARIAH CAREY, but sounded more like JUDAS PRIEST. I bow deeply for “Princess Leather”, because these three latino girls are HELL BENT FOR (HEATHER) LEATHER!! [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HEMNUR-Satanic Hellride (Infernus Rex)
WOW! What a blasphemous sound enters my room, when inserting this CD into my stereo set. Two people, making the most unbelievable black metal noise I’ve ever heard. HEMNUR from Norway (where else, you sick cunts!) consists of Frediablo (NECROPHAGIA, GRIMFIST, GORELORD) on drums, guitar, bass and (male) vocals, and Heksblod on synths and (female) vocals. The whole CD booklet is printed in black and white and contains the lyrics of songs like “Satanic Hellride”, “I Spit My Blood”, “Fucked By Your Christ” and “Skullfucking Jesus”. I see skulls everywhere in the booklet. And the lyrics are definitely not about a sunny vacation on the seaside of Spain, mind you! It’s a misty Sunday afternoon, when I write this review, and most of the other citizens of Leerdam are in church at this time of day. The HEMNUR CD sounds even more blasphemous this way than their original intention was. Nine brutal, old school black metal hymns are unleashed at hellish speed with an untamed power, that makes the mighty Thor look like a tiny troll in lederhozen. Although this band consists of a female member, don’t expect any cutback on the power and heaviness of this thirty-five minute masterblastpiece. It’s a high speed, full power, fifth gear hellish monster ride, that will even astonish the purest DARKTHRONE fans out there, and will make their face paler than they can ever create with corpse paint. This debut album is a monster piece, that is not suitable for regular church visitors, but a true must for necrophilic motherfuckers and black souled sadists, who like to put their dick in the many holes that fresh dugged up skulls have available for them. Don’t forget to remove the maggots first though! Website: http://home.no/hemnur. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HOLY MOSES-Finished With The Dogs (Armageddon Music/Rock Inc.)
They are reissueing all the HOLY MOSES CD with bonus tracks and new artwork. And “Finished With The Dogs” is first on the list together with “The New Machine Of Liechtenstein”. The musical heritage of HOLY MOSES has become quite large. And if you think about it, they are really the ones, who created an open door for all the female shouters in the heavy metal scene. Without the contributions of Sabina Classen in the early days, there wouldn’t have been room for ladies like Angela Gossow of ARCH ENEMY for example. Sabina’s raspy voice in combination with the flashing SLAYER-like guitarsolos worked excellent. This CD will make your neighbours leave the house in anger for about forty-five bone hard minutes. The eleven original songs are on the CD, completed with four recent live tracks recorded at the Wacken Roadshow in 2005 and the Stonehenge festival in Holland in 2004. The complete setlist contains fifteen tracks, and the CD booklet contains some nice pics and an explanation to the songs and the lyrical concept on the album. And of course all the original lyrics to the songs are printed here as well. The CD show us a band, that still sounds as fresh as they did, when they recorded the original album. All albums of HOLY MOSES will receive this polishing treatment, so they can last for another few decades. Website: http://www.holymoses.de. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HOLY MOSES-The New Machine Of Liechtenstein (Armageddon Music/Rock Inc.)
This re-release lasts for forty-five minutes and contains eleven tracks. The original album contained nine songs, meaning they’ve added two bonus tracks on this silver disc. The first one is a live recording of “SSP”, recorded at the Wacken Roadshow in 2005, while “Lost In The Maze” was recorded live at the Rock Harz Festival, also in 2005. My personal opinion is that this album sounds less extreme than their previous album “Finished With The Dogs”. But it’s the same album, the band invades Dynamo Open Air in 1989 and they also did a massive tour with FORBIDDEN and SACRED REICH (both sadly gone now), and which gave them a name the thrash scene would never forget. The album sounds a bit darker, too. Perhaps it’s the invasion of the machines?? The band made some giant steps forward and their name could not be missed anymore in the slowly overcrowded scene. But only the strong survive and where many bands have left the music scene ages ago, HOLY MOSES decided to go on and on. Their albums stood the test of time, even after sixteen years. All the more reason to reissue their complete backcatalogue. On this album we hear Tom Becker on bass guitar, who repelaced André Chappelier, and the band also had an extra guitar player in the person of Thilo Hermann. On tour the band was helped out by Rainer Laws. Website: http://www.holymoses.de. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE IRON MAIDENS-The Iron Maidens (DRZ Records)
This is spectacular, dear friends! The world’s only female tribute to IRON MAIDEN has released a ten song album, which is full of all the IRON MAIDEN classics. The songs range from 1980 to 1986, and that’s exactly the highlight years of this mega metal outfit. The album comes with fantastic artwork of Maidens private artwork director Derek Riggs, and it really looks awesome! In approx. one full hour we hear steaming versions of “The Number Of The Beast”, “Two Minutes To Midnight”, Children Of The Damned”, “The Trooper”, “Wasted Years”, “Killers”, “Aces High”, “Phantom Of The Opera”, “Run To The Hills” and “Hallowed Be Thy Name”. And THE IRON MAIDENS do it with a lot of passion and love for the original songs. IRON MAIDEN can be proud of such a great tribute band. The CD is made with a lot of style and class and we hear some good musicians at work here. The line up of the band consists of Aja ‘Bruce Lee Chickinson’ Kim on vocals, Wanda ‘Steph Harris’ Ortiz on bass, Josephine ‘Adrianne Smith’ Draven on guitars, Sara ‘Mini Murray’ Marsh on guitars and Linda ‘Nikki McBurrain’ McDonald on drums. If you have paid some attention, you can count three members of PHANTOM BLUE in this line up. No wonder, they sound that tight and driven. If you do something, you must go for it all the way and do it well. That must have been in the minds of these five ladies, when they started this tribute to one of the finest heavy metal bands of the whole world. Don’t miss the hidden track, which is a live recording of “Remember Tomorrow”. THE IRON MAIDENS are going to get you, wherever you are! Check out the bands website, if you want to order this great CD, or get your copy through mailorder at: THE IRON MAIDENS, 3727 W. Magnolia Blvd #402 Burbank, CA 91510 for US$18.00 (within the USA) or US$20.00 (abroad), which includes shipping and handling. 6,66 is far too low as a rating for this album, but if you can stand on your head, you can see the hidden message that lies in this rating. If you round it off, you will get the full score. Website: http:// www.theironmaidens.com. [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

IZEGRIM-New World Order (independent)
IZEGRIM has always done things their own way. They like what they do, and they don’t need to prove themselves to no one. I like that attitude. And listening to the four songs on this MCD, that is not a demo nor a promo, I clearly hear the band is growing with every release I’ve heard so far. The four songs, that are worthy of about seventeen minutes, are an honest reflection of how the band sounds at this stage of their career. Exciting death and thrash metal riffs, mixed with some brutal and aggressive vocals is the main direction, they are taking in 2005. Add to this the high- skilled ability of all musicians, and you’re about to hear one of the better death and thrash metal bands, that our small country has got to offer. The brutal female vocals really add something special to this band, I think. Besides OCCULT and SINISTER, there never were too many female-fronted bands in our country, that knew to impress me the way IZEGRIM does. You might know, that Aaargh has left the band last year. She has been replaced by Foxx, another foxy lady that slams her bass so loud, you would almost think that she has got the beast inside her. The line up of IZEGRIM now consists of Foxx on bass, Krisz on vocals, Goldy on guitar, Khasz on guitar and Ränz on drums. SLAYER adepts, and people, who dig the sound of all the other thrash and death metal generals, must lend their ears to the sound of these four songs. They will be positively surprised and quite delighted. The band has already shared the stage with TANKARD, GOREROTTED, PUNGENT STENCH and HOLY MOSES and we also regularly see them on the bills of many metal festivals nowadays, which is a good development in my opinion. IZEGRIM never wanted to prove themselves to no one. But to me, they’ve definitely proved to be one of the better brutal metal bands in Holland. Highlight for me is the last song, which is called “Sword Of Damocles”. This MCD is a great pre-taster of their upcoming album “Tribute To Totalitarianism”, that will be released early next year. Can’t wait to hear it! Check out their website at: http:// www.izegrim.nl. for all the latest news about these well-talented death thrashers. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

JEREMY-Trivial Life (Evolution Music)
What a great drawing on this new JEREMY CD! It’s the first impression that counts and I’m sure the music will take care of the rest, believe me. To cut a long story short, JEREMY is the Korean version of early DREAM THEATER, SYMPHONY X or PLANET X mixed with YNGWIE J MALMSTEEN. Their music is full with complex breaks, flashing guitar work, extensive keyboard sounds and a lot of speed changes. The band spits out twelve new songs in about sixty-five minutes, while only the first song is an instrumental tune. The band consists of Cho Pil-Sung on guitars and backing vocals, Mo Jung-Gil on vocals, Byeon Sung-Woo on bass and backing vocals, Woo Seung-Bo on drums and Cho Mi-Ran on keyboards. On this album, they also called in the help of some guest musicians, like Kim Na-Yeon on violin, Lee Ja-Ram on vocals (Korean traditional lyrics) and Yoo Sun-Mi on female vocals. The first three songs, including the instrumental opener, “Resurrection”, “Work-a-holic” and “Gross Injustice” are played at very high speed, but in “Here I Am” they take back some speed for the obligatory ballad. Most of the songs have a great powerful foundation, and sometimes we even hear some grunting vocals, like in “Sneaker”. If the early DREAM THEATER sound appeals to you, you must definitely give this one a chance. JEREMY really kicks ass in Korea and you are dealing with some very high-skilled musicians here, who are capable of writing some great songs. Website: http:// www.jeremyfan.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

JEZEBELLE-Bad Attitude (Lemon Recordings)
JEZEBELLE never got the recognition, they earned so well with their debut album “Bad Attitude”. Now, fifteen years later, the album has been re-released, including two bonus tracks, that the ladies recorded under the name of STONE COLD CRAZY and three live video clips. The CD booklet contains a few articles written about the band, song lyrics and some horrendous mistakes in the tracking list. The CD does NOT start with “Burn”, but with “Ain’t No Lady”. The CD closes with “Burn”. In fact, the whole tracking list is f*cked up, which will cause the listener a lot of confusion. Anyway, it doesn’t have any effect on the music of the band, who sound like a mix between WASP, X RAY SPEX and THE CULT. This band really rocks your socks off! Just listen to the shredding guitar solo in “The Other Side” for example. They sounded more metal than the average band, and perhaps that’s why they never got really huge. They played at every dump throughout the country and showed the audience, that they were capable of making some very good hard rock songs. JEZEBELLE consisted of H Stewart on vocals, Zaz Richards on guitar, Maggot Simpson on drums and TC on bass. TC was replaced by Mandy Judge and later on by JJ. At some point the band also had a rhythm guitar player called Hannah. The original drummer of the band was called Sue, but she left after a year, moved to Amsterdam and died a few years later when falling off a roof, stoned like a shrimp. The bonus tracks are the much more groovy “Chained” and the darker “The Hunted”. JEZEBELLE started their career in 1989, changed their name to STONE COLD CRAZY in 1993, and shortly lived on as I MONSTER, until they pulled the plug definitely in that same year. Their heritage can now be found on this eleven track (plus an additional three live bonus songs!) silver disc, which plays for about forty minutes. A must for everyone, who digs some great all-female metal bands with a bad attitude! XXXX1/2 (TvP) [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

JULIETTE AND THE LICKS-You're Speaking My Language (Hassle Records)
JULIETTE AND THE LICKS is the band with famous actress Juliette Lewis. She always wanted to be a singer and formed her own band in 2003. In October 2004, the MCD "Like A Bolt Of Lightning" sees the light of day. On this album, she gets the help of Linda Perry (4 NON BLONDES), who also contributed some lyrics. On this new album, the songs were written by Juliette and her fellow bandmates; Todd Morse (guitar), Kemble Walters (guitar), Paul Ill (bass) and Jason Morris (drums). The band is often compared with old bands such as MC5 and IGGY & THE STOOGES. But to my opinion Juliette is more the female equivalent of BILLY IDOL. I also hear a bit of JOAN JETT sometimes. Juliette Lewis is not the worlds best female singer, but her voice fits perfectly with this kind of music. Most songs, such as "You're Speaking My Language"and "I Never Got To Tell You What I Wanted To" are real rock gems. Another recommendation is "So Amazing", which will easily blow up your speakers when playing it loud. The first single is called "Got Love To Kill", which is an uptempo rock song with a commercial chorus. The ride goes on with another couple of uptempo songs, however there are a few moments of rest between them. "This I Know" and "By The Heat Of Your Light" are the obligatory ballads. Most striking song off this album is the last one "Long Road Out Of Here". It is definitely not a JANIS JOPLIN rip-off. Rather, if you listen to it, it could be her. It has the same feel as a JOPLIN song with the raw voice of Juliete and the climax at the end. The album was self-produced by the band and it sounds much better than the previous MCD. At the moment, the band is doing a world wide tour to promote the album, so if you get the chance to see them live, don't hesitate to do it. [8 points] (Marcel van Santen)

MAHAVATAR-Go With The No (Cruz Del Sur Music)
MAHAVATAR brings the heavy metal into the new millennium. And that’s not easy in a musical environment, that is only interested in new hypes and fast changing trends. But this band has a few advantages, that makes it easier for them to realise this mission. First of all, the band plays a mix of different styles. You must really love the music of this band, because it’s a mix of metal, rock, alternative, hard core, progressive, nu-metal, etc. The second advantage is also very important. The band is a mix of several cultures. Karla Williams, guitarist and founder member of the band, originates from Jamaica. While female vocalist Lizza Hayson comes from Israel. The band is helped out on this album by a handful of session musicians consisting of T-Bone Motta on drums, Szymon Maria Rapacz on bass and Miko on keyboards. And how exactly does the sound of heavy metal in this new millennium sound like, I can almost hear you say? If you will have to answer this question after listening to this CD of MAHAVATAR, I should say that their style has become boundless. It’s quite okay to use emotional, smooth parts next to aggressive and very loud blasts. Mix REO SPEEDWAGON with SLIPKNOT, RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE with SURVIVOR or PANTERA with STYX, put these influences in the right proportions, and make sure the song sounds catchy and not too mellow. That’s would be the right strategy to follow. But always make sure the music has a good groove and a loud riff, because these are the main ingredients of MAHAVATAR’s sound. Eight songs with a total playing time of about thirty-five minutes. Way to go, and don’t forget to “Go With The No!” [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MORNING-Hour Of Joy (Black Lotus Records/Rock Inc.)
Dream metal. That’s the description, the band likes to give their music. We’ve seen MORNING a few times live on stage, but how do they sound on their debut album? The title already suggests that we’re in for a full hour of joy, divided over thirteen tracks. After a spoken intro, done by mastermind Arjen Lucassen (AYREON, STAR ONE, AMBEON) himself, the ride begins. The next two songs are amongst my favorites already. First we hear “Hour Of Joy”, a very cool uptempo song, which is followed by “Inside”. The great voice of Saskia van Heugten is a real treat to your ears. She can easily be qualified on the same high level as her Dutch collegues Floor Jansen (AFTER FOREVER), Anneke van Giersbergen (THE GATHERING), Sharon den Adel (WITHIN TEMPTATION) or Simone Simons (EPICA). The second thing you’ll notice is the great and clear production of the album. I seldom hear big differences, but this time it was different. The individual skills of the other musicians can be recognised very well because of this good production. And so this “Hour Of Joy” debut album really becomes a full hour of joy for everyone who likes progressive, ‘dream’ metal. Because the songs contain enough space for improvisation, speed changes and long instrumental parts, we can definitely talk about a progressive aspect here. MORNING is certainly not one of the many gothic metal bands with a female singer. This is high quality progressive music. MORNING walks the paths, where AFTER FOREVER, WITHIN TEMPTATION, EPICA and THE GATHERING never dared to go, which makes them sound different than the rest. In fact, they sound unique in many ways! I was also very curious to hear my personal favorite live song “Captured By The Colour Of Faith”. And I must say that I really liked the album version very much. Of course the band also didn’t forget to put the QUEEN cover “The Show Must Go On” on this album. Who has the youth, definitely has the future. Everybody, who will buy this debut album of MORNING is surely guaranteed an “Hour Of Joy” and musical excitement! Website: http://www.morning.nl. [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

1994-S-T (CD reissue) (Rock Candy Records)
1994 was a band that was nearly lost to history, until the new British label Rock Candy Records secured the rights to their recordings, and released them on remastered CDs. The CD version of 1994’s self-titled debut album contains all nine tracks on the 1979 studio record, along with four live songs. Singer Karen Lawrence had previously fronted the LA JETS. One of Karen’s songs, “Prisoner”, was used in a movie soundtrack and became a major hit for BARBARA STREISAND. Generally, 1994 had a sound like female-fronted AEROSMITH, rugged, somewhat rough-edged metal. The album opens up with “Once Again”, a powerful song in a minor key with a memorable melody, and great lead riffs that segue into an intense guitar solo. The lyrics are about sadomasochistic love, although the theme was inspired in part by the way in which the band had been treated by record companies. The second track,”Shoot To Kill” is similar, both melodically and lyrically. After that, the mood winds down a bit with some mid-tempo rock songs, including “Heleana”, a semi-acoustic track about romance on the Hawaiian islands. “Hit The Hard Way” is a dark blues-metal song about compulsive gambling, with some gritty vocoder effects. The album closes with the wistful “Anastasia”, in which the acoustic guitar is used to create an effect like Russian balalaikas. The four bonus tracks are live recordings from a 1979 concert in Rochester, but these could have been omitted: the sound quality leaves something to be desired. In sum, a nice studio album by a completely underrated group of musicians. [no rating] (Gordon Richards)

OCTAVIA SPERATI-Winter Enclosure (Candlelight Records)
A lot of our readers will probably remember this all-female band from Norway. They have just released their long awaited debut album, and at the same time they’ve changed their name from OCTAVIA to OCTAVIA SPERATI. The band consists of Silje on vocals, Tone on keyboards and grand piano, Trine on bass, Bodil on guitar and Gyri on guitar. Hege is the male drummer of the band. Their debut album contains eleven songs, including an instrumental opener and a very short instrumental interlude, called ”Hymn” and it has a total playing time of about forty minutes. The music from OCTAVIA SPERATI is very experimental and alternative. The bands likes to play around with sounds that you won’t hear too often, sometimes punctuated with slightly distorted vocals, such as in “Soundless”. I’d like to make a comparison with bands like THE THIRD AND THE MORTAL, THEATRE OF TRAGEDY, LEAVES EYES and THE GATHERING, to give you an idea what to expect here. The music is dark, which fits very well to their native country. But sometimes they want to explode in fast pieces as well, like in the centre part of “Future Is”, where the speed suddenly goes up to slow down a little thereafter. These little explosions distinguishes them from all the other bands, and it will keep the listeners focussed. People, who like the music of the bands mentioned in this review, should have a listen to this good debut album, and other people too of course. Maybe they will come to the conclusion that there’s still room for all-female metal bands like OCTAVIA SPERATI. I am really curious how they will sound live! [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

PISTOLA-Hold For Bliss (EP) (Deseo Records)
PISTOLA hails from New York City and they consist of George Podolak on guitars and vocals, Alan Dooley on bass, Randy Satarsky on drums and ‘metal maiden’ Patricia Gradin on vocals. The seven songs on this EP (as they like to call it!) are worthy of about twenty-five minutes of alternative rock, that is very suitable to play loud. Opener “Fail Me” sets the pace, followed by their first single, called “Drive”. I am sure, that if you put this band in front of a live audience, ninety procent of the people will start moving and swinging immediately (older readers will call these movements ‘dancing’, I believe). There’s still ten procent left that can’t dance, move or swing, no matter how hard they try. There’s a lot of energy and power in these rock tunes presented on this EP, and that’s exactly what the average music fan of today wants to hear. PISTOLA could very well become the new PRETENDERS. Advantage is, that Patricia looks much better than Chrissie Hynde ever did, but her toncils generate the same sound, and she spits out her songs a lot louder, too. Highlight for me was “Gone”, because of its speed and rawness, with the Hammond organ played by Joel Hammilton. Check out “Hold For Bliss” yourself and don’t forget to surf to: http://www.pistola.us for all the latest news about these well-talented newcomers. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ANA POPOVIC-Ana! Live In Amsterdam (Ruf Records)
With her great looks, she could very well have been a movie star, or a well-known model. But Ana became a blues guitar player, and the show she did at the Milky Way (Melkweg) in Amsterdam on January 30th, 2005 has now been captured live on this sixty-five minute live CD. And what a pleasant treat, that is! Twelve, mostly self-penned blues songs, are presented here. The songs of Ana contain a lot of soul, which makes it very easy to listen to. One of the exceptions here however is the powerful uptempo blues track “Sittin’ On Top Of The World”, which has some wild guitarwork of Ana. In some songs, Ana’s style reminds me of the great, late JIMI HENDRIX, of whom I know has been a big influence on her playing. His soul is always around somewhere. She can create the feeling of someone like CARLOS SANTANA, and the rawness of WALTER TROUT or ROBIN TROWER. All great names telling you, that she’s a far above average guitar player. You should almost forget, Ana is helped out by a backing band that consists of Fabriche Ach on bass and Denis Palatin on drums. As special guest player we also hear Dominique Vantomme on the piano. Highlights for me are the aforementioned “Sittin’ On Top Of The World”, “Bigtown Playboy” (awesome solo!), and “Jaco” (about JACO PASTORIUS- the world famous bass player!). “Ana! Live In Amsterdam” is a real must to all the blues fans out there, and this live masterpiece is also available on DVD. Don’t forget to listen to the bonus track, “Long Lost Love”, which is recorded in the studio. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

PURGATORY STATE-Seek & Betray (EP) (independent)
Let me introduce you to Manchester based threesome PURGATORY STATE. They consist of Gerald Brook on drums, Mark Coffey on bass and ‘the female exponent in this punk band’ Alex Kenyon on guitar and wild screaming vocals. What we have here is a four track EP, worthy of about ten minutes. Punk and a riot grrrl like sound fills my room, and because of Alex, I regularly have to think about BABES IN TOYLAND. But there is a little bit more structure in the four songs of PURGATORY STATE. The power, rawness and brutality is the same though. “I Feel” contains some very dirty, distorted guitar chords. In a live situation, it will definitely take care for the first drops of sweat, I think. It’s too early to call this band a new sensation, but they certainly have the potential to become big, if they keep on making exciting songs like on “Seek & Betray”. The band can be contacted/booked at: PURGATORY STATE, c/o 948 Rochdale Road, Manchester M9 7EP, England. Email: purgatorystate@hotmail.com. Don’t forget to check out the bands website at: http://www.purgatorystate.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SAL-Dysfunctional (Casket Records)
I’d never heard before from SAL in my whole life. That’s the nicest thing about being a reviewer. You get a new product by some band, look at the sleeve, and you get a first impression. Then you start listening to the music and write your review. You are impressed (or not), but you’ve just broadened your musical horizon a little bit. The first impression I got of SAL was absolutely wrong. I’d go for dark music, when I see a lady in a straight jacket in a snow white, empty room, and a CD, entitled “Dysfunctional”. But SAL makes happy sounding, uptempo punk rock. The band consists of Cat on vocals, Noog on guitars and keyboards, Bangsy on bass and Den on drums. Next thing that caught my eye is, that the band hails from Wales. Besides BUDGIE, I couldn’t come up with many names that came from this beautiful country. And although the band has a pretty modern sound, they already shared the stage with NWOBHM icons SAXON. There must be something good about this band. And there is, dear friends. The band is very capable of writing catchy songs, that also have (although it may not have been intentionally) a slightly commercial input. The lyrics are easy to comprehend and sing along to. Their influences, named in the bio, talk about AVRIL LAVIGNE and GWEN STEFANI, which I have to agree upon. Cat is a very wild frontlady, who can also sing very sensitive (“Tomorrow I’ll Be Gone”). If Gwen is too poppy for you, and Avril sounds too less punky, then SAL might be a very good alternative here. Twelve exciting, fresh punk rock songs will make you ‘dysfunctional’ for about forty minutes. When this excitement is over, you just have to push the ‘play’ button again on your stereo set. Don’t forget to check their website at: http://www.saltheband.co.uk. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SERPENTS KISS-Serpents Kiss (independent)
This is definitely a name to remember, because I hear a lot of potential in this power metal band from England. Fronted by two lady singers and armed with duelling guitarists, this is an album to check out as quickly as possible. SERPENTS KISS consists of Will on guitars, keyboards and vocals, Mike on guitars, Wayne on bass, Paul on drums, Kate on lead vocals and operatic vocals and Catherine on vocals. The music is a nice mix of NIGHTWISH and IRON MAIDEN. The metal part of MAIDEN, the operatic parts of NIGHTWISH, add to this MALMSTEEN like flashing guitar solos, and the riffing you’d expect from a band like WARLORD and you’ll get the sound of SERPENTS KISS. On paper it may look like a weird combination, until you have listened to the eight great songs here. Just listen to the wild guitar work in “Strider”, and you’ll know this is not just another metal band. It is true metal pur sang. And in combination with the operatic vocals, it’s a concept that has never been used before. In forty minutes, the band presents you eight good metal tracks, in which I didn’t hear a bad sound at all. Anyone, who thought that true heavy metal is as dead as a doornail in the UK is absolutely wrong, and SERPENTS KISS is the living proof of it. A full rating is what they might deserve with their next album, so there’s still a goal to archieve, but this album is already a true killer for me. The CD can be ordered from their website [http://www.serpentskiss.co.uk] or via the email address below at: william.philpot@ntlworld.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SLUNT-Get A Load Of This (Achley Music Group)
SLUNT consists of Abby Gennet on lead vocals and guitar, Jenny Gunns (DIRTY MARY) on bass and vocals, Pat Harrington (GAGGLE OF COCKS) on lead guitar and Charles Ruggiero (THE MACKETT) on drums. This twelve song album plays for about forty-five minutes. In the meantime Jenny has been replaced by Ilse Baca, and with her the band will continue to rawk your world. The music of SLUNT (which is a non-existing word, by the way) is full of rock and roll, punk, energy, sweat, sex and it’s really excellent party music, too. SLUNT may sound like AVRIL LAVIGNE in the softer parts, but since there aren’t too many I’d better go for old school JOAN JETT to describe the music of SLUNT, mixed with a touch of AC/DC and/or NASHVILLE PUSSY. High energy rock and roll so to speak, with lots of loud and wild riffs. There is a nice bonus track after the twelve songs mentioned on the CD inlay, but you won’t miss it because I can imagine that you want to hear every single note on this one. Do not sit in that lazy chair, picking your nose. Instead grab your bike, go to the nearest record store and “Get A Load Of This”. Website: http://www.slunt.net. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SUBWAY TO SALLY-Nord Nord Ost (Nuclear Blast)
Not too many bands will start their album with a German version of “Silent Night, Holy Night”. Especially, when the band is a well-known heavy metal outfit and it’s the middle of summer with temperatures reaching a fairly thrity degrees Celsius outside. SUBWAY TO SALLY probably wants to be the first, so they start their new album with a short version of “Silent Night”. Otherwise, nothing has changed and the sound of the band is still the same. Medieval sounding metal has become more common nowadays with bands like HAGGARD, SCHANDMAUL, IN EXTREMO and BLACKMORE’S NIGHT. A lot of these bands hail from Germany, and they’ve created their own medieval atmosphere in their songs. SUBWAY TO SALLY uses certain instruments like bagpipes, shawm and violins, and they also dress up in medieval clothing, when they play live. The band consists of Eric Fisch on shawm, bagpipes and vocals, Bodenski on vocals and guitars, Simon on vocals and guitars, Ingo Hampf on guitar, Sugar Ray Runge on bass, Simon Michael on drums and Frau Schmitt on violin. The music remains theatrical and bombastic and it has gained a lot of popularity over the past few years. The new single from this album will be “Eisblumen”, while the first single was called “Sieben”. “Nord Nord Ost” contains ten tracks and it will definitely bring you back to medieval times for about forty-five minutes. Website: http://www.subwaytosally.de. [6 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SYLVER MYST-Depths Of Illusions (MCD) (independent)
SYLVER MYST are a new well-talented band from The Netherlands. They consist of Ronald van de Rijt on bass and grunt vocals, Marc Jaspers on drums, Rob van Dijk on guitar, Didier Roumen on lead guitar, Bart Spackler on keyboards and Marjolein Hüsken on female vocals. The band presents us their mini album “Depths Of Illusions”, which contains five tracks with a total playing time of about seventeen minutes. The roots of SYLVER MYST are to be found in the progressive rock with some elements of gothic rock. Just listen to the phenomenal instrumental piece at the end of opener “As Heaven Blessed A Dying Rose”. Marjolein’s voice sounds crystal clear, yet very operatic. Together with the progressive input of the music, it forms a nice combination. In “Escape From Reality”, we hear some more of the operatic character in the voice of Marjolein. While in the opening riff of title track “Depths Of Illusions”, the band shows that they are also able to play loud and there’s a leading role for the keyboard player, too. The short instrumental “Seduction” is very bombastic, and the MCD closes with “Desire”. This last song proves, that the band is capable of writing some nice, adventurous songs with a lot of variation in only three and a half minutes. I told you, they are a well-talented band! I’m sure we will hear a lot more from SYLVER MYST in the (near) future. Website: http://www.sylvermyst.nl. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

TANTRUM-Breaking Away (Escape Music)
TANTRUM is an important band in the history of the A.O.R. scene. The band was based in Chicago and consisted of seven members. They released two albums, which can be found on CD one of this two CD set. The third, and previously unreleased album “Breaking Away” is to be heard on the second disc. All the fans of the band and the A.O.R fans in general are in for a real treat. Thirty songs, put on two CDs and worthy of about one hour and fifty-five minutes of good old fashioned A.O.R and pop rock music. The first album of the band was released in 1979, and is called “Rather Be Rocking”. It was released twice, which makes it an interesting collectors item for all the die-hard record collectors out there. In 1979, the original album was released, which included a painting of the band on the front cover. A year later, it was reissued with a different sleeve of a couple going out at the Mocambo club one night. In 1980, the second album was released, which was simply called “Tantrum”. The trademark of TANTRUM was the massive chorusses and melodic harmony vocals of the three lady singers. Think about a mix of early HEART, FANNY, TOTO, FLEETWOOD MAC and STYX, to get an idea of the overall sound of the band. Add to this the great guitarwork, and you’ll understand we can talk about a huge sensation in the scene here back in those days. TANTRUM consisted of Phil Balsano on keyboards, Bill Syniar on bass, Vern Wennerstrom on drums and Ray Sapko on guitar. The three lady singers of the band were Pam Bradley, Barb Erber and Sandy Caulfield. The third album however never saw the light of day. Two days before it would come out, the band broke up and kept the album out of the shops. Finally in 2005, we can have a listen to “Breaking Away” on the second CD of this great package. And with this release, the TANTRUM puzzle is now finally completed. People, who already liked what they heard on “Rather Be Rocking” and “Tantrum”, will have a safe buy with this third album, which sounds like nothing has changed inbetween, but the album in fact meant the end for a very well-talented A.O.R. outfit. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

TWILIGHT ODYSSEY-Twilight Odyssey (independent)
Yes, it’s there: one of the most precious hard rock diamonds of this year. We were already blown away by their three track demo CD, but this release simply beats everything. Ten songs and a total length of a bit over a full hour, TWILIGHT ODYSSEY provides you with the best true metal imaginable. When the CD kicks off with “Plaza Del Torros”, we get a flashback of our one-day event with this band in their rehearsal room in New York City. The IRON MAIDEN like choruses are mixed with the flashing guitar work of Ben Asaro. And this is only just the beginning. I slowly start to raise my fist to the beginning of “Zero Hour”, again beefed up with early MAIDEN like riffs. “Near Dark” is definitely (Rita and I agreed on that!) our favorite song. Don’t ask us why. It’s the unexplainable magic that was there from the moment we heard the song in the rehearsal room. PJ’s vocals are clear and she’s not the screaming kind, thank God! Ben is a guitar hero pur sang, but the good thing is that his solos are in duty of the songs. He is not the MALMSTEEN-like big ego tripper, that starts a solo in the beginning of the song and ends it when the last notes slowly fade away. Wow, what a big punch on the face! With “Under The Black Flag” we finally get a little room to breath, after a great, almost overwhelming start. “Under The Black Flag” is a lengthy song with a lot of speed and mood changes. To me, this is sufficient proof, that the band knows to create a good song without stranding in too complex structures. It slowly builds itself up into a nice climax, in which drummer Sal Pellerito beats the shit out of his drum kit like he was chased by a seven-headed dragon. “Defiler” is another lengthy metal song, in which we hear the strength of PJ’s vocals very well. The icely scream at the end of this song will make the temperature drop a few degrees in your room, that’s for sure. In the beginning of “The Endless Days Of A Stranger”, the four legged and armed drummer is unleashed again. The chorus invites you to raise your fist and yell the words out real loud. This will be great, when they play this fantastic song in a live setting. Also Ben is warming up his fingers in this song. One of the highlights on the album, that’s for sure. After that, there’s again some time to take a deep breath during “Onward To The Games”. It opens with some relaxing guitar work of Ben, and it’s a little piece of rest with some great axework of the maestro himself. You’re gonna need it, because the band has got some more impressive pieces of art left for us at the end of the album. “The New Queen” is build upon a nice riff, and the speed goes up once more. “Gettysburg (The Blue And The Gray)” is from the demo. The riff is still magic and it contains just about everything that a good metal song needs. Just listen to the awesome guitar solo, and you’ll be flabbergasted for life. And the canonballs of destruction have just begun…..(remember WARLORD). Even MANOWAR would not have to be ashamed of themselves, if they would come up with a song like this. The CD closes with “Gift Of The Southern Oracle”, which is another, great, eight minute metal experience, written by one of the most fantastic US metal bands of this moment. Besides PJ, Ben and Pat, the band consists of bass player Gennady Khirich, who seems to be invisible, like a good bass player should. But without his input, the rhythm just wouldn’t be complete, believe me. TWILIGHT ODYSSEY went for the highest score available, and they have reached their goal with an album, that could end very high in our list of best metal albums of 2005. Congratulations! Website: http://www.twilightodyssey.com. [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

VANGUARD-Succumbra (Armageddon Music/Rock Inc.)
After listening to opener “Asylum” on this nine track, forty-five minute debut album, it will definitely keep you awake for a while. CRADLE OF FILTH-like orchestrations with LEAVES EYES-like female vocals are the main ingredients of this fast headbanger. In “Forgive”, we also hear death grunts and angel-like vocals, but the music is a bit more tempered now. VANGUARD hails from Finland, and they consist of Aapo Romu on cello, Lari Kuitunen on piano, Mikko Seppänen on guitars, J.Grym on vocals, O.D. on bass, Tipi on drums and Suvi G. on female vocals. “Amoricide” is on next and at the end of this song, we also hear some very pleasant guitarwork. People, who like the aggressive CRADLE OF FILTH sound mixed with the emotion of LEAVES EYES, should definitely check this band out, because they sound just a little bit different than the average gothic metal band of today. “Ephemeral” is one of the highlights of the album, next to the ultra slow closer, called “Wurmtod”. These songs are a bit slower than the others. “Ephemeral” seemlessly goes over into “Bitheon”. Suvi sounds a bit more like Anneke of THE GATHERING in this song, that is also slow and doomy. VANGUARD scores above average with this nice mix of styles, a name to remember. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

XANDRIA-India (Drakkar)
XANDRIA hails from Germany and consists of Marco on guitars, keyboards and vocals, Philip on guitars, Roland on bass, Gerit on drums and Lisa on female vocals. The concept is easy and done many, many times before. But if you do the trick right, you can still get credit for what you are doing. And what I hear on this third album of XANDRIA is not bad at all. Okay, they have copied the sound of bands like WITHIN TEMPTATION and NIGHTWISH, but hey, who hasn’t?!?? They’ve added their own input to the twelve different tracks, and put their own mark on the gothic sound. For fifty-five minutes, you will be able to enjoy the bombastic sound of a band that is gaining popularity really fast in their homecountry. And not only there, because the band has also done some successful gigs in South Korea already. Lisa’s charming vocals are the most important point of recognition here, and it certainly lifts up the music of XANDRIA to a higher level. Website: http://www.xandria.de. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ANGEL-Don’t Wanna Run (CD single)(Black Lotus Records)
This single is only available from the website of the band. It contains four songs, and has a total length of about thirteen minutes. Since we loved the album of ANGEL so much, we decided to review the single as well. It opens with the title track “Don’t Wanna Run”, which can be heard in a special single edit of the song. “Mother” is here in the acoustic version. The single closes with “Heaven” and “Darkness” - two short acoustic songs, that only contains piano and acoustic guitar, next to the voice of Helena, and will not appear on the album “A Woman Diary-Chapter I”. These songs are emotional outings of Helena Iren Michaelsen, who opens her soul completely to her fans. In “Darkness” we hear, that Helena must love the music of KATE BUSH very much. Definitely the best song on this single to me. Website: http://www.helena-michaelsen.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ANOUK-Jerusalem (CD single) (Dino Music)
When I finally have the time to review this single, the biggest hype has blown over already. Commercially seen, it was not ANOUK’s biggest success ever. It’s an uptempo song (and next to “Girl”), it was definitely one of the highlights of her most recent album “Hotel New York”. Anyway, we have three songs on this release with a playing time of about eleven minutes. We can also enjoy an acoustic version of “Girl”, recorded live for 3 FM radio, on December 14th, 2004. The CD closes with an acoustic demo version of “Lost”, where ANOUK is only accompanied by Martijn van Agt on acoustic guitar. Nice additions, which make this single to another ‘must have’ item for the die-hard fans of this blonde rock chick! Website: http://www.anouk.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

AUTUMN-Gallery Of Reality (CD single) (The Electric Co.)
This single release of AUTUMN contains four songs, worthy of about twenty minutes of dreamy, fantasy metal. The single starts with the radio mix of the title track “Gallery Of Reality”. This version is about two minutes longer than the original album version, which is the fourth song on this single. The most interesting songs are to be found inbetween these two versions. First up, we get a previously unreleased song, called “Premeditated Dying”. A great uptempo track with a rather overwhelming and heavy drum intro. “Lifeline” is on next, which is recorded as an exclusive acoustic version here. All the more reason I think, to order this nice CD single of AUTUMN. Website: http://www.autumn.nu. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BLACKMORE’S NIGHT-I’ll Be There (Just Call My name)(CD single) (SPV)
The new album of BLACKMORE’S NIGHT, called “The Village Lantern”, will be out in November. Reason enough to throw in a pre-taster for this newcomer, in the form of a new CD single. This single contains two new songs, and about eight and a half minutes of music. The opener is a nice surprise, because it starts with a great riff on the electric guitar. Yes, this sure sounds very promising indeed, simply because it has got that rocking vibe that I missed so much in BLACKMORE’S NIGHT over the years. We discussed it many times before. I love the man in black for what he’s doing, but sometimes I long back to his days in RAINBOW and DEEP PURPLE. And this song certainly puts a smile on my face, right from the start. The second song “Olde Mill Inn” sounds like Dutch chartbusters BZN again. It’s a song, that easily invites you to sing along to. Despite that, the first song made me curious of what the new album will sound like. The band also played live in Amsterdam on October 14th. The minstrells will be there, just call their names. Website: http://www.blackmoresnight.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

EPICA-Solitairy Ground (CD single) (Transmission Records)
The new single of EPICA is an interesting release for the fans. And in my eyes, it’s maybe even more interesting than the new album. Explanation is given here. The new single contains four songs, of which two versions of title track “Solitary Ground”. The other two songs are the cream on top of the cake. First, we hear “Mother Of Light” (“A New Age Dawns #2”) without the grunt vocals. I am not a big fan of grunting vocals, and obviously, this is a big step forward compared to the original version. The last track is previously unreleased. It’s an instrumental song, called “Palladium”, which brings the total playing time of this single to about sixteen minutes. The last song fits very well to the music on “The Score”. Website: http://www.epica.nl. The drawing of Simone on the transparent disc is really beautiful and it has definitely played a part in the high rating here, too. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

KREZIP-Don’t Crush Me (CD single) (BMG)
“Don’t Crush Me” is another hit single by the band KREZIP from Tilburg, The Netherlands. Everything they touch becomes a hitsingle right away. And this song has also shown its strength already. The bonus track on this seven and a half minute single release is a live version of “Out Of My Bed’, recorded at the annual Bevrijdingspop festivities. All the more reason to buy this release. Website: http://www.krezip.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MISERIA-Lost Forever (CD single) (independent)
We’ve written about this Finnish fivesome (three women and two men) before with the release of their previous MCD “Silence Within”. Recently, they have recorded a promo single, which contains three new songs, worthy of eleven minutes of loud, yet melodic metal. The several styles used on these three songs range from progressive to gothic like music, where the melody always remains. MISERIA consists of Minja Loukkola on bass, Joni Kantoniemi on vocals, Virpi Äkkinen on vocals and guitar, Ville Karhu on drums and Päivi Korpi-Käkelä on keyboards. In title track “Lost Forever”, we hear some very clear vocals, while in “Bitter Faith”, there are also some dark grunts. “Cruel Fairytale” closes this nice release. It might even have some hit potential, in my opinion. Website: http://www.miseria.org. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

NIGHTWISH-The Siren (CD single) (Nuclear Blast)
NIGHTWISH always knows to release a strong single. Not only the song choice is excellent (“The Siren” has all the typical NIGHTWISH ingedients), but they always add some nice bonus material, which makes it hard to resist. This release contains the ‘edit’ version, the ‘album’ version and the ‘live’ version of “The Siren”. The live version was recorded on February 27th, 2005 at Chur in Switzerland. What’s the link between NIGHTWISH and MEGADETH? You can ask yourself this burning question again, while listening to “Symphony Of Destruction”. Isn’t that a nice surprise? The song is played here as a live version. This twenty-two minute five tracker closes with a live version of the ballad “Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan”, recorded on February 25th, 2005 at Bayreuth in Germany. As you can see, this single is a real must for every NIGHTWISH fan out there. The band has also announced to take another sabbatical year. Website: http://www.nightwish.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SCHANDMAUL & ORCHESTER-Bin Unterwegs (CD single) (Fame Recordings)
You must be very broad-minded to be able to review this new single of SCHANDMAUL & ORCHESTER. We know SCHANDMAUL for their medieval sounding rock music, comparable to bands such as HAGGARD, SUBWAY TO SALLY and IN EXTREMO. This single was recorded with the orchestra of Circus Krone. We can hear the live tracks “Bin Unterwegs”, “An Dich” and “Herren Der Winde”, worthy of twelve minutes of pop (!!) music. The band also added a bonus video, called “Geisterschiff” on this single. But it won’t do them any good, because their music sounds too far away from what we usually review on our website. I’m sorry, but that’s just the way it is. SCHANDMAUL consists of Thomas Lindner on vocals, acoustic guitar and accordion, Birgit Muggenthaler on flute, bagpipes, vocals and shawm, Anna Kränzlein on violin and vocals, Martin Duckstein on acoustic and classical guitar and vocals, Matthias Richter on bass and double bass and Stefan Brunner on drums and percussion. The single was taken from the live CD “Kunststück”, which was recorded at April 27th 2005 at Circus Krone in München, and this gig is also available on DVD. That’s all I want to say about it. [3 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SHADOW KEEP-Ancient Prophecies (promo) (CD single) (independent)
STOP! Don’t go running to your local CD store, because they won’t be able to find this obscure, ultra rare release. These two songs were recorded as a promo, a pre-taster so to speak, for their upcoming album “The Awakening”. It came with an original SHADOW KEEP t-shirt from their latest US tour, and it was printed in very limited quantities. The two songs have a total length of about nine minutes and they show us SHADOW KEEP at their very best. Listen to the flashing guitar work of Chris Allen and Nicki Robson, and you’ll know that SHADOW KEEP is one of the best British metal bands of this moment. Opener “Ancient Prophecies” has many speed changes, and it may remind you of bands like old QUEENSRYCHE, JAG PANZER and LETHAL (old style). The hammering riffs at the beginning of “Beyond The Stratosphere” also ensures, that SHADOW KEEP really had their act together. It’s a shame though, that the band had to deal with so many line-up changes. Singers may come and go, but if they keep on making music like this, their name will be in the hearts of many heavy metal fans around the globe. Website: http://www.shadowkeepmetal.com. [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

WITHIN TEMPTATION-Angels (CD single) (Gun Records)
You may say and think about WITHIN TEMPTATION what you want, but you can’t deny the fact, that the band has grown immensely these past few years. Their popularity is so huge, the band is well-known amongst people, who dig bands like JUDAS PRIEST and IRON MAIDEN, next to those who are more into AVRIL LAVIGNE, BRITNEY SPEARS and ROBBIE WILLIAMS. They’re top of the bill, and not just in The Netherlands and Germany. This new single is another prove of how to handle things right. It contains an audio side, that bears five songs with a total length of about twenty-five minutes. And if that isn’t good enough for a regular single (some bands record a full-length album, which lasts the same amount of time!), they added a DVD side to the single as well. Let’s first have a look at the audio part (contradiction!). It opens with the full length version of “Angel” of course, followed by the previously unreleased bonus track “Say My Name”. And I still wonder, why this song wasn’t chosen to be on the last album “The Silent Force”. The last three songs are all recorded live in 013 in Tilburg. So you can also enjoy a small gig of the band with great versions of “Forsaken”, “The Promise” and “Angels”. Take the single, put it in your DVD player, and enjoy “The Promise”, captured live on stage in 013, Tilburg and Paradiso, Amsterdam. Same goes for the songs, that were on the audio side of the single “Forsaken” and “Angels”. Next, we can see the documentary “WITHIN TEMPTATION in Dubai”. This is definitely the way to promote a successful metal band. Of course, the real fans will already be looking forward to the DVD of the band’s live performance on Java Island, Amsterdam, together with special guests ORPHANAGE, AFTER FOREVER and DE HEIDEROOSJES. This unique event will be certainly something to look forward to, but you can’t deny that this is a big treat for all the fans of the band already. Full rating is all I can give for this product. Website: http://www.within-temptation.com. [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

[Updated: November 14, 2005]

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