CD REVIEWS


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


MM#37/Oct. 2004:

ADDICTED-Kaotik Stoner (independent)
When it’s time to clean your ears, just play this three song EP very loud, and you will even get your eardrums pierced for free, which sounds really cool. The title of this three track CD is “Kaotik Stoner”. I would like to call their music ‘ultra brutal stoner’, because these three words are a complete definition of what I hear in fifteen minutes. ADDICTED was formed in 2003 by Tom on guitar, Toad on bass, Gorgor on drums and Mel on vocals. Right now, Jp is the new guitar player, and Ludo is the new bass player, but on the CD we hear Toad on bass and Bleuargh (sorry for that) on guitars. Listening to “Alcoholic Depravity”, “Schyzophre-nic Reality” and “Need More”, I hear influences of SLAYER, ARCH ENEMY, CRISIS, NECROPHAGIA and perhaps even some BLACK LABEL SOCIETY at times. Polka beats are switched with grinding riffs, and on top of that we hear the screaming, yelling, rebelling, shouting, deafening voice of Mel. Yes, I hear you LOUD AND CLEAR now, thank you!!! This first dose of ADDICTED almost became an overdose. How much brutality can you take in such a little amount of time? It’s a bit chilly without a roof above my head now, but their music is as brutal and violent as the real world outside, so it’s a perfect match. This band screams very loud to be heard. I’ve heard them once, and I like their music. It’s great to keep you awake when things get dull. The band is from France and you can find their website at http://www.addicted-band.com. For those of you, who are deaf after hearing this sound explosion, I repeat http://www.addicted-band.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ARCH ENEMY-Dead Eyes See No Future (Savage Messiah Music)
ARCH ENEMY is superduperhot. And this EP was especially released for their Japanese tour, and until now only available over there. Meaning that it will cost you a lot of bucks, but it is worth every cent, ‘cause the twenty-five minutes on this EP sound great! The EP opens with “Dead Eyes See No Future”, the title track, which already contains the necessary unbearable ingredients like fast guitar riffs and the ultraloud, brutal vocals of Angela. Then we get to hear two live tracks, recorded at the Elysee Montmartre in Paris on February 27th 2004. These songs are “Burning Angel” and “We Will Rise”. But the fun ain’t over yet, because after that we hear three cover songs. Three ‘in your face versions’ of heavy metal classics. Definitely nice stuff to have. First we get “Symphony Of Destruction”, originally done by MEGADETH on their “Countdown To Extinction” album. It’s strange, you get to respect this band even more, after hearing a good cover version of one of their originals. I always had difficulties with the timid voice of (Mega)Dave Mustaine, but I’ve always liked their great guitar solos and super riffs. Now with Angela’s voice, it sounds even better. Next up we get MANOWAR’s “Kill With Power”, from the “Hail To England” album. I must admit, that I really adore MANOWAR. To me, they’re the true heroes of heavy metal, while other people think they’re nothing more than funny characters, who show their muscles and play loud music. They’ve probably never heard songs like “Dark Avenger” or “Battle Hymns”! This cover is more brutal then the original, and the guitar solo is even faster than the red Ferrari of YNGWIE MALMSTEEN or Michael Schumacher. Sharlee D’Angelo really plunders his bass guitar here. He should be in jail for that, but luckily, he managed to escape! Last, but definitely not least, we hear a cover of “Incarnated Solvent Abuse” from the “Necroticism-Descanting The Insa-lunrious” album of British death grinders CARCASS. The guitars of the Ammott brothers sound again absolutely brilliant! One of them takes the lead, while the other one continues the original riff at that point. Awesome! What a great release, we want more! [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ASRAI-Touch In The Dark (Transmission Records)
ASRAI lift themselves up to the premier ranks of the gothic metal scene with this second album. Although we’ve never said a word about their debut album “As Voices Speak”, there’s simply no way we can ignore this second album. Gothic metal with some very raw edges, if I may say so. Just listen to the brutal riffs in opener “In Front Of Me”. Proving, that ASRAI is ready for the big thing and they’re not afraid of any competitors either. You could easily compare the band with other majors in the gothic metal scene like WITHIN TEMPTATION, but I think ASRAI have already created a face of their own, and they don’t have to hide behind the mask of other great names. Another interesting aspect is that we’re dealing with a band consisting of three ladies, a phenomenom that is very seldom, which also gives them the right to be called exclusive. Listening to their music, I get the feeling they might become very successful in the near future. You can tell, they’ve spend a lot of time and energy in the ten compact compositions on “Touch In The Dark”. ASRAI consists of Martin Kooy on bass and backing vocals, Rik Janssen on guitar, Margriet Mol on vocals, Manon van der Hidde on synths and violin and Karin Mol on drums. The CD cover looks very well taken care of and the music is top notch quality. So thumbs up for these new Dutch talents, that will be introduced to you much closer in our next issue. http://www.asrai.net. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ASTARTE-Sirens (Avantgarde Music)
They don’t only play football very well in Greece. They also love heavy metal there. And they know how to play really brutal black metal, which becomes clear again by our good friends of ASTARTE. The band now consists of three beautiful black metal nymphs and a male drummer, that have put together another strong album, containing ten black metal classics sounding as black and dark as hell. ASTARTE is Tristessa on vocals, bass, acoustic and lead guitar, Hybris on rhythm guitar, Katharsis on keyboards and Ivar on drums. “Sirens” shows us a band developing from a small underground metal band to a killer band, ready to launch itself into the premier ranks of the black metal scene. The CD booklet looks perfect. Just have a look at the great cover and the way it was put together. And listen to their music, which is a reflection of how black metal should sound. The production is very good and you can hear every detail, they’ve put in their great music, very well. The beautiness of an instrumental song like “Lloth”, that comes seamless from out of “Black Mighty Gods”, and explodes into the brutal “Bitterness Of Mortality” (“MecomaN”), is a perfect combination of the different styles, that you can expect on this new album. Another good example are the beautiful speed and mood changes in “Oceanus Procellarum” (“Liquid Tomb”). And at the beginning of “The Ring” (Of Sorrow) we hear a scream, that must have been recorded from the very depths of hell. Somebody wants to get out of there, I believe. The CD closes with another instrumental called “Underwater Persephone”. ASTARTE are the perfect combination of brutal, dark black metal eruptions and almost serene, acoustic interludes. And this combination is so well done, that it’s time now that the world hears the wailing ‘sirens’ of this band from Greece. http://www.astarte-site.cjb.net. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

AYREON-The Human Equation (lim. edition)(Inside Out)
You could write a book about the story behind the music on this double CD. And Arjen did this already, so why should I bother you again? I think I’d better stick to the musical part on this package. The music is divided into twenty days, which stands for twenty songs actually. All together worthy of a little over hundred beautiful minutes of the best progressive music imaginable. I write progressive music here, but I realize this is just a collective noun for the songs, that are on this new CD. The music ranges from pop to rock to heavy metal to psychedelic rock to progressive rock. And if you ask my honest opinion, I really do believe that almost every music lover can find something interesting in the music of AYREON. I hear JETHRO TULL, THE BEATLES, LED ZEPPELIN, DAVID BOWIE, PINK FLOYD, to name the most important influences here. Some parts could well be used for film music, while other parts can’t keep you away from banging your head. It’s so complete, so wonderful, and again the cast of guest musicians is just perfect. Names like Devon Graves (DEAD SOUL TRI-BE/PSYCHOTIK WALTZ (R.I.P.!!)), Devin Townsend (STRAPPING YOUNG LAD/DEVIN TOWNSEND/VAI), Eric Clayton (SAVIOUR MACHINE), Magnus Ekwall (THE QUILL), Marcella Bovio, Mike Baker (SHADOWS GALLERY), Mikael Åkerfeldt, James Labrie (DREAM THEATER), Heather Findlay (MOSTLY AUTUMN) and Irene Jansen (STAR ONE, KARMA). And I haven’t even mentioned the instrumentalists here like Martin Orford (IQ/JADIS), Joost van den Broek (ex-SUN CAGED), Ken Hensley (the master keyboard player of URIAH HEEP, and also BLACKFOOT fame!), Oliver Wakeman (son of YES keyboarder Rick Wakeman) and of course Ed Warby on the drums. The clustering of so many talent isn’t always a reason for success, but in AYREON’s case it always turns out for the best. Highlights for me were both on the second CD, namely the fast and furious song “Trauma” (no. 12) and no. 18, the JETHRO TULL like “Realization”. The limited part of this release is the DVD, that comes with this package (see review on page 27). It contains sixty-five minutes of video clips and interesting behind the scene footage. This set is definitely a must for every music fan out there. And hey Arjen, you did it again, man!! Website: http://www.ayreon.com and http://www.arjenlucassen.com. [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BIF NAKED-Essentially Naked (Her Royal Majesty Records)
Better sit down and relax for this compilation CD of BIF NAKED, because it contains twenty-two songs and over seventy-five minutes of music. And if that ain’t enough, it also contains a DVD with all the video clips of this lady. The CD contains a good overview of all the work of BIF NAKED from the beginning of her career in 1994 until now. BIF NAKED plays catchy rock. Some of it souding just a little bit louder than the average songs on this CD. “I Love Myself Today” is an example of a very catchy and wild song, and “Chotee” is another one, which is one of my personal faves, by the way! In “My Whole Life”, Bif sounds a bit sweeter however, and even reminded me of MADONNA vocal wise. Sometimes, she also reminds me of new rock star AVRIL LAVIGNE, who’s catchy, yet very sweet. In the CD booklet, Bif writes it still surprises her sometimes, that the people like her music so much, and she can tour and make records after ten long years. But when I listen to the music of BIF NAKED, it’s obvious why people like her records. She’s pure, like life itself, and she gives people a look inside her heart and her head. She sings about every day things, and she has no real star attitude. What you see is what you get, and people like that kind of approach. At the end of the CD, you can hear remix versions of “Spaceman”, “Lucky” and “I Love Myself Today”, and you’ll also hear three poems of her. All in all, a good overview of the music of this female rock star. Like I mentioned before, the enhanced DVD (reviewed on page 27) shows us all the videos this lady recorded throughout the years, including the great TWISTED SISTER classic “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, which I really love! A great release!! We want to thank our good friend Carla for making this review possible. Contact address: http://www.herroyalmajestyrecords.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

B.U.M.P-Therapy (independent)
I'd call B.U.M.P.'s music mid paced metal. Some will call it alternative or something else. They have catchy introductions. Songs chug along with quirky guitar parts and good but different solos. A lot of them have to do with states of mind. A couple are breakup songs or about women, who feel sexy. Alltogether it sounds cool. Jewls Dengl sets the various moods with the vocals. She wrote these songs. We hear Jewls keyboards on some of them. You'd miss Dana Mihalicy's bass, if it wasn't there. The guitar notes are supplied by Stephen Makarewicz, while Dereck Mihalicy sets the pace on drums. The title track is about what he needs, “Therapy”. The problems are his. “She's had too much of his emotions”. The music chugs along. We hear some good note playing. Then there's a song about not being taken seriously. It's called “See Ya Later”. As she sees it, he has underestimated her. She's angry about this. The relationship is over. She says: "You’re busy laughin', I'm busy packin'." There's a sultry tone to “Strawberry Jam”. That's how the speaker characterizes herself, like “Strawberry Jam”. It has a good rock beat. Jewls adds keyboards and a loud shriek. “Las Shenzah” could be latin dance music. It has a romantic theme. The other seven are worth listening to also. Contact: B.U.M.P, 70 Arthur Street, Suite 420, Winnipeg Manitoba R3B 1G7, Canada. Email: jewelsrocks@hotmail.com Website: http://www.bumprocks.com. [8 points] (Jack Little)

CANDY BAND-Candy Band (Rockinmama Records)
The CANDY BAND consists of four ‘stay at home’ moms. They got tired of the same old kids music. They decided to make something they could listen to, that would also be suitable for children. The songs are rock versions of nursery rhymes, movie soundtracks and music heard during childhood. There's one original song. It's called “Ken Lost His Head”. It’s based on real events, that were important at their house. It is also an exploration of the functions of the head. It works as kids music. Paula ‘Almond Joy’ Messner, who you may remember from the MOTOR DOLLS, wrote it. She supplies the rocking guitar for all of these songs. On “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” short bursts of words from Daniela ‘Skittles’ Burckhardt, alternate with punk rock. “Baa Baa Black Sheep” checks in at three minutes. It’s the longest of the fourteen songs. Added verses bring it up to date. “Itsy Bitsy Spider” has a strong rhythm line. We can hear Anita ‘Kit Kat’ Kelly on bass and Tammy ‘Starburst’ Ristau’s drums. This is heavier than the CARLY SIMON folk version. It will have the kids moosen' and slammin'. These are also accessible to parents, who prefer rock. I don't care, if Barney ever heard of me. I’d rather listen to the CANDY BAND. Contact: CANDY BAND, 2701 Aberdovey, Royal Oak, MI 48073, USA. Website: http://www.candyband.com. Email: band@candyband.com. [10 points] (Jack Little)

CRUACHAN-Pagan (Karmageddon Media)
Midgets, elves, kings, wizards, knights, minstrells, unicorns, Pegazus, dragons, CRUACHAN. Welcome to the Pagan world of this Irish folk & metal band, that present us their new album, containing thirteen songs and about fifty minutes of joyful, fairytale like music. The use of old Irish instruments makes their sound complete. The drawing on the CD cover was done by an illustrator, who also worked for “The Lord Of The Rings”. But what about the music? Well, like on their previous albums, there’s some kind of magic in the songs of CRUACHAN. Mixing folk with heavy metal has been done before by bands like MAGO DE OZ, SKYCLAD and JETHRO TULL in the very early days. But CRUACHAN sometimes mixes black metal in their songs, which makes them sound different than the rest. They’re not as extreme as a band like FINNTROLL, but they use similar structures. CRUACHAN consists of Joe Farrell on drums, John Clohessy on bass and backing vocals, Keith Fay on guitars, keyboards, bouzouki, banjo, bodhrán, vocals and percussion and the beautiful blonde singer Karen Gilligan. Together with a handful of guest musicians, who mainly play the old Irish instruments like cello, uillean pipes, Irish flutes, low whistles and tin whistles, they’ve managed to create a nice new album, which is easy to listen to, simply because it sounds so joyful. Which doesn’t mean there isn’t any room for loud guitars too, just listen to the great riffs in a song like “Viking Slayer”. I think, metalheads with bullitbelts reaching under their armpits will be satisfied as well. Website: http://www.cruachan.cjb.net. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

EBONY ARK-Ebony Ark (independent)
When DARK MOOR lost a few members due to musical differences, everybody was trying to trap the former members for their new band. Both Jorge Saez and Elisa C. Martin were in this band EBONY ARK for a little while, together with former ARWEN keyboard player Javier Diez. Elisa was more like a guest musician, just like Javier, to be able to play live at the Carabana Rock Festival. Almost right after that, Beatriz Albert, who was also in DARK MOOR and SOBER, takes over the lead vocals, and they open for ARWEN for five hundred people. This is their EP, which contains six songs and twenty-five minutes of bombastic power rock music. Don’t think of DARK MOOR, but think in the direction of WITHIN TEMPTATION. Powerful riffs, the beautiful vocals of Beatriz, and sometimes bombastic instrumental parts or more melodic interludes. “Open The Ark” (Overture) is a short instrumental opener, but in the five other songs we hear a good mix of melodic power rock with a bombastic edge. Besides Beatriz and Jorge, EBONY ARK consists of Javier Jimenez on guitars, Daniel Melian on bass and Ruben Villaneuva on guitars. The EP closes with the IRENE CARA cover “What A Feeling”. A very surprisingly choice, that turns out to be a good one! With some twists and turns, it receives the perfect make over to a good rock ballad. Beautiful CD cover, by the way! The band is still searching for a record label at the moment. Who dares?? http://www.ebonyark.tk. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ELDRITCH-Portrait Of The Abyss Within (Limb Music Products)
I remember very well seeing ELDRITCH open for PAIN OF SALVATION and THRESHOLD in Uden, somewhere in 1998. I liked the band a lot at the time. They play progressive metal music with some very raw passages inbetween. And I was absolutely surprised to find this promo in our mailbox, and finding out they had recruited a female bass player. Sometimes I think, that our work must have been a small part of the decision of the band to choose a female bass player instead of a male bass player, which isn’t the case of course. But it’s nice to have a thought like that in your mind sometimes. It’s another victory for Metal Maidens, that a major band like this has recruited a female bass player, but let’s dig a little bit deeper into the music on this new ELDRITCH album, too. The eleven new songs on “Portrait Of The Abyss Within” have a total running time of a little bit over fifty minutes. Their progressive metal is still very powerful and it still contains these nice raw edges. Like ANNIHILATOR playing progressive metal. I still like it a lot. In their thirteen years career, the band has developed themselves to one of the most consistent and powerful bands in the progressive rock scene. The band now consists of Dave Simeone on drums, Rob ‘Peck’ Proietti on guitar, founding members Eugene Simon on guitar and Terence Holler on vocals and new metal maiden Lisa Oliviero on bass. When you like the raw side of DREAM THEATER, with heavy ANNIHILATOR and METALLICA like riffs, then this new ELDRITCH album (and almost every other ELDRITCH album, by the way!) may be interesting for you to check out. It’s good to see, that a respectable Italian band like ELDRITCH has the guts to add a female bass player in their line up. Finally, we’re getting there!! [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

FADING STARLIGHT-Timesless Fate (TTS Media Music)
Please don’t let them get too mellow was my only thought, when I pushed the ‘start’ button on my CD player to write my review of the new FADING STARLIGHT CD. The CD contains eleven songs and over forty-five minutes of power metal, and I am glad that somebody out there heard my prayers. Yes, the band still sounds raw and fast and most of all, the guitars are still screaming! They do live up to my expectations, which were quite high for this second album. Just listen to opener “As The Harlequin Died” to know what I like so much in the music of this German metal band. Inga Scharf’s vocals are very much up front in the mix, and they are one of the points of recognition in the sound of FADING STARLIGHT. Despite the fast and furious sound of FADING STARLIGHT, the songs also have a sort of catchiness that I like a lot. Just listen to a song like "Alone”, which has been on my mind, even after hearing it once. The same happened to other great catchy songs like “Dawn Of Tomorrow” and “Every Hundred Years”. Of course we can also enjoy ballad like songs on this new album. “Rain” is a good example here and in my opinion every good rock or metal album needs at least one good ballad. Conclusion would be, that I liked the new FADING STARLIGHT CD a lot, and I really hope this band will continue this way. They already shared the stage with bands like IN EXTREMO, ANNIHILATOR and DORO, and if they keep making records like this, I think they will possibly become the headliners for the next class of melodic power metal bands. Website: http://www.fadingstarlight.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

FINDING STELLA-Twitch (independent)
In the seventies, half of these songs would have been considered folk rock. Someone like CARLY SIMON would have sung them.The other half are soft rock. The comparison here would have been a slower song by HEART. FINDING STELLA is a lot about finding yourself. They’re about long lingering feelings and there are long songs, too. Four to six minutes isn't uncommon. Chris Snyder handles the vocals. She can sing in a lower range than some women. Chris can change with the mood of the songs. She and Crystal Dykstra wrote the songs. Crystal plays bass guitar, keyboards and backing vocals. Victoria Ovieda is the other of the three female members. She plays rhythm guitar. Some of these songs are carried along by a few chords. Tim Christmon on drums can be both restrained and keep the songs moving. There are twelve songs on this CD from 2003. The title track “Twitch” is firm, without being loud. She wants him to twitch about her. We hear some definite guitar chords. Bass is evident also. Another introspective song is “Would You Know Me?” There's a man shed like to notice her. She anticipates what he will think and what she will think. “Take Me Down” has a happy lilt to it. It's about a woman, who's feeling sexy. She's enjoying the moment. If you like soft songs with meaningful lyrics, you'll like this. Contact: FINDING STELLA, P.O. Box 2372, Dublin, CA 94568, USA. Website: http://www.findingstella.com. Email: smc@findingstella.com. [6 points] (Jack Little)

GIRLSCHOOL-Believe (Communiqué Records)
Have GIRLSCHOOL distanced themselves from the well-known MOTÖRHEAD like sound? When I hear some of the songs on their new album “Believe”, my answer would be ‘yes’. Is this a bad release then? No, of course not. GIRLSCHOOL may sound a little more mature, and sometimes a bit alternative perhaps. But of course there are some real cool rock songs on the album as well. “Come On Up” is a bit darker than the average GIRLSCHOOL stuff. “Crazy” could have been done by THE SPICE GIRLS. It’s catchy, but nothing like the old GIRLSCHOOL. But with “We All Love To (Rock ‘N’ Roll)”, they get back to the more recognisable sound of the band. As you can see, there’s a lot of variation on this CD. “New Beginning” is a real cool song, and on “C’Mon” I even hear some distorted vocals, next to the AC/DC like song structures. It might be innovating, but in my opinion GIRLSCHOOL doesn’t really need all these new influences. Despite all these comments, I’d like to emphasise that I really do like their new album. Although it sounds very different than you would have expected at first. It’s definitely an album that has to grow on you, and then it gets stronger and stronger every time you give it a spin. It might have been much easier for the girls to play newer version of songs that sound like “Tonight” or “Demolition Boys”, but that way their music would all sound the same, over and over again. Would you like that? Listen to a song like “Never Say Never”, and turn up the sound a little bit more, every time you listen to it. It’s catchy, it’s rocking, and you must admit that it’s just another cool rock song! No, these girls aren’t dead yet and they still kick some serious ass in the hard rock and heavy metal scene. Even after more than twenty-five freaking years, there aren’t many bands, who can say the same thing. GIRLSCHOOL stood tall, and they were always a (girls)school example of how a rock band should sound. “Feel Good” simply does what the title suggests and makes you ‘feel good’. I hear some resemblance with the old GIRLSCHOOL classic “Race With The Devil”, and I heard more people saying this. There are two bonus tracks on this CD, namely “Play Around” and “Passion”. Which makes the total amount of songs rise to fifteen new rock and roll classics from the longest living all-female rock and roll divas in the whole f*cking world. Thank you Enid, thank you Denise, thank you Jax and thank you Kim for so much great rock pleasure! You can be proud of this new release, please keep on rocking and visit us soon in Holland. We “BELIEVE” in you, and we always will. http://www.girlschool.co.uk. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HAGGARD-Eppur Si Muove (Drakkar/BMG)
The medieval sounds are even more authentic than on their previous albums. But the wild and loud parts are even more aggressive too, in my opinion. And the female vocals are very much up front in the mix. So on this new album “Eppur Si Muove”, HAGGARD will definitely stay the best medieval sounding metal band. We hear the story of Gallileo Gallilei, which is divided into ten songs, worthy of about fifty minutes. Most of the time, they are long epic songs, but there’s also room for three shorter instrumentals. The last song is a short version of one of the songs on the album, which is called “Herr Mannelig”. If you already liked the previous albums of HAGGARD, then this is a safe buy. People, who decide fast will be able to buy the limited version of “Eppur Si Muove”, which contains a live DVD featuring their 1998 live show at Wacken Open Air with many songs from their great debut CD (see review on page 27). As a bonus, you can see the video clip for “In A Pale Moon’s Shadow”. I think Gallilei would never have guessed that almost four hundred and fifty years later, a metal band would record a CD telling his story. A quite remarkable and very good sounding tribute to a man, who has taught us a lot about our solar system. Watch out for a very short hidden track at the end of the CD. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HEART-Jupiters Darling (Sovereign Artists)
We had to wait much too long for this album. But finally after the live DVD, the live CD, and a great show at the Arrow Rock Festival, it’s time to enjoy sixteen songs on this new HEART album “Jupiters Darling”. Sit down for an hour and let the timeless rock music reach your soul. Again you’ll hear, that these ladies must have listened to their ZEPPELIN records a zillion times. And they just added their own remarkable sound to it. Ann’s vocals are still great and Nancy’s guitar playing is stronger than ever. She looks much better than ever before. Does she never get old?? Besides the two superstars, we have Craig Bartock on guitars, Darian Sahanaja on keyboards, Ben Smith on drums and Mike Inez (ALICE IN CHAINS/OZZY) on bass guitar. The songs on this album range from acoustic ballads to ballsy rock songs. And constantly there’s this sort of LED ZEPPELIN mist hanging in the air. It has been very quiet around HEART these past few years, but the release of the live DVD, the live CD and now this brand new album are the living proof this band from Seattle is back, alive and kicking ass even harder than they did before. They also decided to use their old logo, saying that things will be like in the old days again. The CD booklet has got some kind of ‘love and peace, back to the seventies’ feeling over it, which fits perfectly to the band and their music. And if you think, that the comparison with LED ZEPPELIN is way overdone, then I’d suggest you have a look at the backcover of the CD booklet. The man with the ‘angel wings’ on his back. Now walk to your CD collection and grab out the CD of PAGE/PLANT called “Walking Into Clarksdale”, and please don’t say that this is just a coincidence. I’d a great hour listening to the new songs, and I’m sure that thirty years later I’ll still enjoy the bands music. Just like I did with songs like “Barracuda”, “Even It Up”, “Dog And Butterfly” and all these other classics they wrote in the seventies and eighties. Welcome back HEART, we’re glad you’re here again. http://www.heart-music.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ICYCORE-Wetwired (Limb Music)
Just like ELDRITCH, this band also hails from Italy, and they are also signed by Limb Music. Their music has much in common with ELDRITCH. They both make progressive power metal. But there’s more. They even have the same female bass player, namely Lisa Oliviero. Besides her, the band consists of Tiziano Romano on guitars, Andrea Baroni on keyboards and piano, Valerio Voliani on vocals, Davide Alberti on guitars and Alessandro Bracaloni on drums. The band was founded in 1998. And even tough the highlight of the QUEENSRYCHE fame was over at that time, I still hear a lot of their influences back in the music of ICYCORE. Mix this with some FATES WARNING, DREAM THEATER and a touch of METALLICA, and you’ll have the perfect blend for the progressive metal style of ICYCORE. The twelve songs on this debut album have a total playing time of almost seventy minutes, so you really get value for your money here. The musicians are well skilled and the songs are above average. Two essential things for a good album. If you still dig the old style of QUEENSRYCHE, then ICYCORE may be a good choice for you to check out. You may even be shocked, because their album is ‘wetwired’. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DEBI JORDAN-Pickup Lines (independent)
DEBI JORDAN says: "I sing anything from PATSY CLINE to AEROSMITH; gospel, hard-waling rock and the blues". Her CD “Pickup Lines” is more of the last two. Debi wrote all of these songs. A lot of them are about disappointment. All of them are thoughtful. Her vocals are clear. Sometimes she reminds me of BILLIE HOLIDAY. There's no music other than Debi playing guitar. She gets a lot of sound out of an acoustic guitar. There are fourteen songs counting the bonus track. Eight of them run over four minutes. “Help Is On The Way” and “How'd I End Up This” are definitely the blues. Debi creates much of the sound and emotion with her voice. She does it convincingly. For “Lady On Your Mind”, she plays piano. There's a nearly two minute introduction, that gives it a sense of drama. It's about the lady he wants to get back to. Other songs are more like country music. The vocals on “Fire In My Heart” are strong, the guitar playing quicker. There are a couple songs about someone, who’s happy. “Part Of My Soul” is about a good relationship. She's deeply moved by him. The sound is romantic and quiet. Yet another different song is “Wake Up And Walk”. She suddenly walked out on him. He doesn't understand or deserve this. The song advises him to be glad she's gone. If you want to hear stories and music like this, listen to DEBI JORDAN. Contact: Debi Jordan Music, P.O. Box 705, Brooklyn MI 49230, USA. Internet: http://www.debijordan.com. Email: debi@debijordan.com. [10 points for talent; 4 points for heaviness] (Jack Little)

KRLEŠ-Slzy Arkóny (Sia Production)
It’s time to raise your fist for KRLEŠ from Czechia. They present us their brand new album, which contains nine songs and has a total running time of about fifty minutes. KRLEŠ doesn’t need any gothic, folky, black or death metal influences like many other bands do nowadays. They are standing with both feet in the eighties, and they play music, like it was still 1984. And I like it a lot. Listen to great metal songs in the best SAXON, ACCEPT, JUDAS PRIEST, old IRON MAIDEN, VAN HALEN style possible. Great guitar solos, great riffs and above all, the very powerful voice of female singer Zuzana Martincová. Besides Zuzana, the band consists of Jiři Karpjuk on guitar, Radek Sádovsky on guitar, Jiři Zima on bass and Jiři Smĕlik on drums. And although I can’t understand their lyrics, I think they’re not singing about the love of their life! Anway, with new singer Zuzana (who doesn’t sound like DORO as much as their previous singer Simona Křtĕnová did), KRLEŠ shows us that heavy metal is still very much alive in the Eastern countries of Europe. One of the many highlights on this album for me, was the “Hot For Teacher” like “Prázdnotou Sviti Mi Plamenomet”, that received a little jazzy make over in the beginning and at the end of the song. In “Tma Nad Evropou”, we get a short, very funny part of ninth symphony of BEETHOVEN. The title track is the last song on this great metal album, which is a great yet very lengthy (over seven minutes) composition. The CD booklet was very well taken care of and contains the lyrics to the nine different songs, and a lot of beautiful pics of the band, taken during a video shoot, that we have of this band from Czechia. Hail to this magnificent band, that is very well worth checking out. Great stuff!! http://www.krles.wz.cz. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LANA LANE-Return To Japan (Think Tank Media)
LANA LANE and ERIK NORLANDER are very huge stars in the land of the rising sun. They recorded their live shows in Club Quattro (1999) and Club Citta (2002) and released them on a double live CD. The second CD contains some acoustic gigs they did in Japan, plus two covers of classic anthems as “In The Court Of The Crimson King” (KING CRIMSON) and “Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll” (RAINBOW). Lana’s voice is in perfect shape, and keyboard wizard Erik gives an excellent performance. It’s a real joy to hear and watch (when you have a look at the DVD) such well skilled musicians! Long, epic songs with enough room for long instrumental parts, are mixed with beautiful tender ballads and a few covers, all together creating a good overview of what these concerts in Japan were like. And after more than two hours, you’ll know why the biography is referring to Lana as ‘The queen of symphonic rock’. Just listen to the perfect female vocals in combination with the great instrumental parts, full of innovative breaks and solos. You’ll know, that they aren’t fooling you here. The extensive liner notes of Erik also tell us, how it was possible to hear guitar player Peer Verschuren, while he wasn’t even at the concert. “Return To Japan” is not only a must for every LANA LANE or ERIK NORLANDER fan out there, it’s also a true must for every sympho freak or prog rock fan. But also ‘old rockers’, that like the sound of bands like URIAH HEEP or DEEP PURPLE may dig this great band. The drawing on the cover is again very beautiful and recognisable for every LANA LANE CD. http://www.lanalane.com; http://www.eriknorlander.com; http:// www.thetank.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LEAVES’ EYES-Lovelorn (Napalm Records)
Here it is. The long awaited debut release by LEAVES’ EYES, called “Lovelorn”. For all the fans (myself included) who had become disillusioned with the musical direction, that THEATRE OF TRAGEDY had taken over the last few releases, the debut release by LEAVES’ EYES will be a welcomed edition to your collection. The new project of ex-THEATRE OF TRAGEDY soprano Liv Kristine and her husband Alex Krull of the band ATROCITY is a solid release from beginning to end. Mathias Roderer (guitar), Thorsten Bauer (guitar), Chris Lukhaup (bass) and Martin Schmidt (drums) complete the line up. “Norwegian Lovesong” starts things off and from the get-go, it is obvious that LEAVES’ EYES are far different than latter day THEATRE OF TRAGEDY. LEAVES’ EYES are a band that plays beautiful metal music. Next, we have “Tale Of The Sea Maid” another beautifully crafted song. Other highlights include: “Ocean’s Way”, “Lovelorn”, “The Dream”, “Secret” and the first single “Into Your Light”. The limited edition comes with deluxe packaging and the multi-media video clip for “Into Your Light”. “Lovelorn” features ten songs and nearly forty-two minutes worth of solid material, that is enough to make us forget about the last few THEATRE OF TRAGEDY releases. It is good to hear Liv Kristine singing this kind of music again. This is where she belongs. Welcome back, Liv! [8 points] (Tony Cannella)

LIGEIA-Gloria (Iron Glory Records)
I already liked the debut album “Made In Stone” a lot of this band from the Southern part of Germany. Successor “Gloria” however sounds much more convincing, powerful and true than the debut album. “Gloria” contains ten songs with a total length of about forty-five minutes. It’s in fact a re-recording of an album, that should have been released in 2002. Due to problems with their previous record label, it had to be shelved for a couple of years. And so the band decided to re-record it, with new band members, Michael Sommer (bass) and Roland Klein (drums). On vocals, we still hear Dani “Mistress” Unglert on vocals, who sounds (and looks) like DORO in her WARLOCK days, and on guitar there’s Joerg Mayer. The songs on “Gloria” sound much more mature. Just listen to a great song like “Angelwitch”. Bands, that still make songs like that (and call it “Angelwitch”) should get a statue in their hometown. But also other songs like title track “Gloria” and “Walpurgis Night” (possibly referring to STORMWITCH fame here) are of the truest metal imaginable. LIGEIA already shared the stage with bands like DORO, SOLSTICE, SOLEMNITY and THE LORD WEIRD SLOUGH FEG, so they have gained some experience, which will hopefully take them to a higher level with their third album. People, who dig the good old sound of WARLOCK and ACID (like me) can fully enjoy this great album. An album, that closes with a nice slow ballad, called “Silence”. Great stuff and a real must for the old fashioned headbangers out there! http://www.ligeia.info. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LORDI-The Monsterican Dream (Drakkar)
Holy shit, the monsters came back!! LORDI from Finland present their second album, containing thirteen brand new songs, worthy of about fifty minutes of horrorful shock rock. If you dig ALICE COOPER, then I suggest to have a listen to this album of these five Finnish monsters as well. The band still consists of Kalma on bass, Amen on guitars, Kita on drums, Enary on keyboards and leading monster Lordi on vocals. Their horror stories and metal sound are very catchy and bloody as hell. Sometimes, I wished the sound of LORDI would have been darker and slower. It would match better with the lyrics of these creatures, that sing about the “Blood Red Sandman”, “Pet The Destroyer”, “The Children Of The Night” and the “Haunted Town”. A cover like “Man Behind The Mask” of ALICE COOPER, that they play at live shows sometimes, would have suited real fine on this CD, but all the songs are self written. I wonder, what the message at the end of this CD means in normal English?? The CD booklet is very well taken care of and it contains many beautiful drawings, that match really well with the lyrics. People, who buy this CD real fast might be lucky, because there’s a limited two CD version containing an extra DVD, on which we can see a thirty minute LORDI film called “The Kin”. If the most successful period of ALICE COOPER is your thing, then you must definitely lend your ears to “The Monsterical Dream”. Oh, rumour goes that behind these bloody horrible masks, there are real persons involved. The female keyboard player Enary, started her career in SINERGY, so the story tells. And before you go to bed tonight, you’d better check underneath, ‘cause they only come out at night, when the clock strikes twelve. Pleasant dreams! http://www.lordi.org. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LUST MURDER BOX-Lust Murder Box (Sur Par Industries)
Who the hell put this CD on my desk?!? The cover looks quite simple and the inlay very poor, but that’s quite okay for a DIY product. These people may not have the money to spend as the large record labels do. How about the music of LUST MURDER BOX then? I hear film fragments, beats coming out of a box, and a sound that might have been created on a computer screen. It contains all the elements, that I already hated back in my youth. New wave and gothic rock sounds, distorted vocals and more of that kind of crap. Not my cup of tea?? I’m afraid not. Sometimes I hear a sound, that might appeal to fans of let’s say SISTERS OF MERCY, THE GATHERING or DEAD CAN DANCE, but those are not really my favorite bands. Okay, the band hails from Austin, Texas (the outstanding metal district in the world!!!!), but even that is not a guarantee for good music, I am afraid. There are some beautiful female vocals to be heard in songs like “Device” and “Viole (N)T Blue Morning”, but that’s not a good reason to buy this CD. It’s also not a reason to put this CD on my desk and review it in a heavy metal magazine. And it’s definitely not a reason for giving this thirty minute nightmare a high rating or whatsoever. I’m sorry!! Contact address: http://www.lust murderbox.com. [3 points] (Toine van Poorten)

PAMELA MOORE-A Retroscpective (EP) (independent)
We all know PAMELA MOORE as ‘Sister Mary’ from the QUEENS-RYCHE album “Operation Mind-crime”. People, who read our magazine thoroughly, may also know that this lady was one of the key members in RADAR. Pamela has now released a six track ‘solo’ EP. Unfortunately, this EP wasn’t for sale at the Arrow Rock festival in Holland (which was the plan), where she sang with QUEENSRYCHE, but we ordered it from CD Baby (www.cdbaby.com). People, who don’t have the RADAR CD “R.P.M.” (reviewed in MM#24), must definitely try and get a copy of this EP. They will be able to hear five songs from that album, namely “Power Of Money”, “Shotdown”, “Mirror, Mirror”, “Looking For Love” and “Win Your Heart”. The only new PAMELA MOORE song on this EP is called “Reminds Me Of You”, which was recorded with Paul Speer and Scott Rockenfield (ex-QUEENS-RYCHE drummer) of the ROCKENFIELD SPEER PROJECT. Pamela has got a great voice and she proved that with her live appearance at Arrow, reviewed on page 43 of this very issue. If you like some good, solid melodic A.O.R., then you must definitely check this one out. You can also check out Pamela’s album with the band RADAR, by surfing to www.kivelrecords.com. Pamela’s own website can be viewed by surfing to http://www.pamelamoore.net. A full length solo album is in the making, and will hopefully be released later on this year. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

NIGHTWISH-Once (Nuclear Blast)
“Once” is the title of the latest opus from Finland’s NIGHTWISH. The band continues to build a devoted following all over the world and with “Once”, their audience should get even bigger. The band has recorded an excellent follow-up to “Century Child”. “Dark Chest Of Wonders” kicks things off and sees the band picking up, where they left off on “Century Child”. Next we have “Wish I Had An Angel” which is the first song to feature co-lead vox from bassist Marco Hietala. The song is heavy. Next we have the first single “Nemo”. It’s a more commercial sounding track, but it was a good choice. “Planet Hell” is next and is one of the heavier tracks on offer. Other highlights include: “Creek Mary’s Blood”, “The Siren”, “Dead Gardens” and “Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan” (written in the bands native Finnish), but the albums center-piece and shining moment has got to be the ten minute epic “Ghost Love Score”. It’s a brilliant exercise in musicianship, songwriting and talent. As always, Tarja Turunen turns in an exceptional vocal performance and the band (Hietala (bass), Tuomas Holopainen (keys/piano), Jukka Nevalainen (drums) & Emppu Vuorinen (guitars)), all turn in brilliant performances as well. “Once” features eleven high quality songs and sixty minutes worth of great music. It’s what we have come to expect from these Finnish icons. [9 points] (Tony Cannella)

NODAL POINT-Out Of Control (independent)
After some line up changes, NODAL POINT consists of Pierre Bouwens on drums, Kornee Kleefman on bass, Ron Berger on guitars and metal maiden Mireille Quist on vocals. What strikes me the most is that they have captured more power in their songs. Just listen to great opener “Road To Nowhere”, which contains a good guitar solo. Mireille’s vocals fit very well. She sings raw, yet she has still got that subtle touch of ANOUK in her voice, that I like a lot. The opening riff of “Right Here, Right Now” could come from any AC/DC album, believe me! The music of NODAL POINT can be described as pure rock with balls, so you’d better raise your fists and yell! I’m sure, they won’t mind!! In “Angel”, the band reduces some speed. It’s a very powerful ballad and even in ballads, the band doesn’t get mellow. Then it’s time for the title track of the album “Out Of Control”, a lengthy and very decent rock song. The solos reminded me again of AC/DC. And believe me, there are worse bands to be compared with! The title is a good reflection of the album sleeve, by the way. “Portal” starts off like a ballad, but ends as a solid rock song that has a lot of rhythm. “Don’t Ask Me Why” is another catchy rock song. I think it was one of the highlights on this great rock album, but please don’t ask………me why (sorry, this one was too easy to let go!!). When you think that “Keep On Rocking (In A Free World)” is a dusty old rock song, you’d better have a good listen again, after it receives a NODAL POINT make over. It makes the song very suitable for the (Neil) young rock fans out there. CD closers “No Feelings” and “Just Because” (the real ballad and also the single!) definitely proves what I already knew. There is an awful lot of talent in this band. They rock with a capitol R, and it’s a real pleasure to listen to the nine songs on this CD. An exclusive interview with the band is also in the making, so keep an eye out in Metal Maidens for more information about NODAL POINT soon. If you like powerful rock and roll with a catchy edge, and some good female vocals, then the searching machine on the Internet will point you directly to the site of NODAL POINT. Great stuff!!! http://www.nodalpoint.nl. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

PECCATUM-Lost In Reverie (The End)
Following the departure of Lord PZ to focus on his band SOURCE OF TIDE, the trio known as PECCATUM is now down to a duo, with Ihriel and Ihsahn remaining to carry the torch in the realm of avant-garde metal. With their latest offering “Lost In Reverie”, the band has released a solid follow-up to their 2000 release “Amor Fati”. “Lost In Reverie” contains seven songs and fifty minutes worth of material. The first track is eight minute plus “Desolate Ever After”, which features a spooky sounding intro before heading full steam into the track itself. Ihsahn & Ihriel share vocals here and right from the start, you can tell that PECCATUM is a far cry from Ihsahn’s & Ihriel’s previous projects EMPEROR & STAR OF ASH respectively. Next we have “In The Bodiless Heart” another song of over seven minutes long, that keeps things going. Then we have “Parasite My Heart”, which is the closest thing you will find to EMPEROR on this disc complete with blast beats and Ihsahn’s vocals from hell, but as the intensity is reaching a fevered pitch, suddenly the song unexpectedly lapses into a beautiful piano passage and Ihriel chimes in with her sweet vocals. Other highlights include “Stillness”, “Veils Of Blue” and “Black Star”. The music of PECCATUM can be described as dark, moody and artistic ambience. Ihriel & Ihsahn have come up with some interesting lyrics for this release. PECCATUM is a band that continue to be impossible to categorize. They are an acquired taste for some, but for those who are looking for something a little left-of-centre, this will be right up your alley. Love ‘em or loathe ‘em, there is no denying the talent that both Ihsahn and Ihriel possess. [8 points] (Tony Cannella)

ROTTEN APPLES-Real Tuff (Trash 2001 Records)
Fourteen short but catchy songs are on this CD of the ROTTEN APPLES. The four ladies make a good mix of punk, hardcore, riot grrrl music, and they do it with a lot of flair. The ladies can play their instruments, and they’re not just slamming their strings in order to make as much noise as possible, trying to hide the fact that they actually can’t hit a note right. The band sounds raw, but also has a lot of melody in their sound. Variation all over, which makes them appealing to many different music fans. ROTTEN APPLES consist of Dejha Colantuono on vocals, guitar and keyboards, J.J. Henry on guitar, Bambi Nutt on bass and backing vocals, and Heather Jane Anderson on drums and backing vocals. But on the first ten songs, we hear Mandy Reed on guitar and backing vocals and Heather Moritz on bass and backing vocals. Punkier than THE DONNAS, rawer than THE MUFFS or SLEATER KINNEY and more melodic than THE DISTILLERS, the ROTTEN APPLES will sound like a surprise to you and I guess they will look really fresh on stage as well. The European release of “Real Tuff” has four interesting bonus tracks, two of them being covers. First of all, we hear “Mad World” of TEARS FOR FEARS (we also know this song from the recent GARY JULES version, by the way!), which is followed by “You’ve Got My Number” by THE UNDERTONES. The other two bonus tracks are “Heart Candy” and “F.W.A.K” (a.k.a. “Fuck Without A Kiss”), which are both re-recorded with the recent line up. These bonus tracks make the total playing time of this album a little bit more acceptable, beause with its thirty five minutes, the album is not very long. But better a short good album, than a longer album with lots of useless fillers. ROTTEN APPLES don’t look good on a fruit bowl, but they sure sound fresh in your CD player. These girls are ‘real tuff’! [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SAEKO-Above Heaven Below Heaven (Armageddon Music)
I can hear you readers think. Do we need to know SAEKO? Have I heard this name before? Some of the real metal fans might. SAEKO is led by Saeko Kitamae, formerly frontlady of Japanese heavy metal band FAIRY MIRROR. Next to her, we can hear Mari Inoue, the former bass player of the same band. Saeko moved from Osaka to Hamburg two years ago, and now she presents us her solo album. We also hear Michael Ehré on guitar and drums, Sven Lüdke on guitars and Hermann Frank on guitars. METALIUM frontman Lars Ratz did some producing on the album, and there you have it. Fifty minutes of heavy metal, divided over twelve songs. There are some Japanese influences, like the nice intro and some flute playing, for example. But the overall sound can be compared to the german metal sound that we know so well from bands like ACCEPT and METALIUM. I didn’t pick these names on purpose, because they’re close connected to this album, but they represent the average sound in the German metal. You can easily add GAMMA RAY and HELLOWEEN to this list as well, just listen to “Seek The Light”, while banging your head! “Sinners For False Light” is definitely one of the highlights on this album. Also, there’s a short hidden track (more of less spoken word) at the end of the CD. SAEKO’s debut release is a fact, and she has already found a good way to promote her new album. She was at the Wacken Open Air festival for a signing session. http://www.saeko.org. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

STAR QUEEN-Your True Self (Lion Music)
This might be something for all the NIGHTWISH adepts out there. Only this vocalist goes by the name of Stella Tormanoff. Take away some of the bombastic sound of NIGHTWISH and add to this a voice, that sounds much lower than Tanja’s, and you’ll come close to the sound of STAR QUEEN. STAR QUEEN are from Bulgaria. Not the first country you would think of, when talking about power metal. The band is operating from Sweden, and the other band members are Erik Tornberg on rhythm guitar (WINTERLONG), Thorbjorn Englund on guitar, Mats Holma on drums and Peter Uven on bass. Stella’s low pitched voice, sometimes changes into high notes. Not the way, KATE BUSH did it sometimes, but it’s still a remarkable part of her singing. “Your True Self” contains eleven tracks in sixty minutes. So if you’re in for long, epic gothic metal songs with some power metal and neoclassical influences as well, this one’s for you. The lengthy songs invite the players to improvise, but nothing like that really happens, which is a bit of a shame. In “Merciless Faith”, Stella gets the help of a second female vocalist, or is she twistin’ her own voice so much?? Same happens in “Cryptic Epistel”. I don’t have any more information about her, but it sure is a good idea, and it worked out very well. I’m sorry to say, that I didn’t find any real highlights on this CD. But I couldn’t find any bad songs either. Conclusion would be that “Your True Self” has become an average album, which is definitely interesting for let’s say the people who dig bands like NIGHTWISH. Still, I believe that this album is just the beginning. There will be more releases by STAR QUEEN, and I think there’s a possibility, this will grow out to a top band. I really hope so for Stella and her band. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

VARIOUS-Missbehaviour (Century Media)
This has been done a few times before. This time however, the package was very well put together. It’s a compilation of female fronted bands, containing all the big names in the scene. Not only on CD, but it also comes with a DVD containing video clips of some of the bands. A great idea. The bands on this compilation CD may already be in your regular collection. There are no unreleased tracks or live songs, which might have made it even more interesting for the fans. Despite this, it’s nice to get a good overview of the female fronted bands. The CD opens with FLOWING TEARS. Their song “Razorbliss”, from the same titled CD, is definitely heavier than their earlier work. LACUNA COIL has never been my cup of tea, and listening to “Unspoken”, from “Comalies”, it will never be in the near future as well. Average GATHERING like music without balls. I’m sorry, it’s just not my style. Their name is unbearable on such a compilation CD, however. I liked the first LULLACRY CD a lot, but their “Crucify My Heart” CD was definitely less heavy and contained much more ‘middle of the road’ rock. One of the better songs is chosen for this compilation CD, and that’s “Allright Tonight”. ARCH ENEMY are my new kings of thrash. The Bay Area thrash is slowly gaining popularity in my music vision, twenty years after it was unleashed on mankind. And this band is catapulting pretty easily to the highest ranks of the metal scene. Would you expect anything else, if you have a throat like Angela Gossow? She even makes Glen Benton sound like an innocent acolyte. “Leader Of The Rats” was chosen for this CD. Then we get THE GATHERING. “Shot To Pieces” comes from the album “If_Then _Else”, and it shows us Anneke at her very best. Experimental, slightly heavy, and her warm voice on top of it. Okay, that was a good way to start this CD. Now it’s time for some bands that you wouldn’t expect, and the ones that might not be in your record collection already. A band like SCHEITAN for example is quite unknown. “My Isle” makes you think of THE GATHERING, especially after hearing the original band. This song was taken from their album “Nemesis”, by the way. Then we get TIAMAT. Another band, that doesn’t have it for me. I don’t understand why people can be so positive about their music. On “Carry Your Cross And I Will Carry Mine”, we hear the voice of Sonne Brandt. I don’t know, if this band should be on this CD. Kimberly Goss appears on the album of WARMEN, and the HEART cover “Alone”, comes from their album “Beyond Abilities”. A good rendition, in my eyes, although she’s also just a guest singer. NIGHTWISH is another band that cannot be missed here. “Angels Fall First” from “Beauty And The Beast” is the chosen one, and it’s a good NIGHTWISH song. The LOWEMOTOR CORPORATION are also from Finland, and “The Flying G” comes from their album “Saturnalia”. This band is pretty new, and they are maybe a promise for the future. MY RUIN is a more heavy exponent again. They’ve used the PLASMATICS cover “Sex Junkie” from their EP “The Shape Of Things To Come” to be on this album. A great tribute to a very underrated band, that finally reached the cult status. Tairrie B, is also aiming for that title maybe, and if she keeps recording albums like “Horror And Beauty”, they’re on the right track, believe me! HOLY MOSES… Yes, it was great to hear, they were having a comeback. And the title track of the “Disorder Of The Order” album is definitely a good choice to show that the band didn’t lose any power over the years. This band has earned their place on this great sampler, and it’s also great music to wake up the neighbours on a rainy Sunday morning. SHADOW is another great example of a band, that know how to play their metal loud and proud. Their album was already released in 2001, but I am glad they weren’t forgotten here. Their rendition is called “The Reunion In Soul Asylum”. EVENFALL is also not an obvious name. Maybe it’s for the diehard metal maiden freaks, but they’re still working hard to get some recognition between the bigger names. Their song “Rawish” can be heard here. MADDER MORTEM is a very promising band. Their song “Faceless” shows us, they’re not willing to ride along the paved paths. They’re a good example of a band, that’s ready to launch themselves into the highest ranks of the scene. NOVEMBRE is again a band, that originally has no female members in their line up. In the song “Cloudbusting” (KATE KUSH cover) however, we hear the female voice of guest singer Ann-Mari Edvardsen. The CD closes with a live song of THE GATHERING. “Amity” comes from “A Semi Acoustic Evening” and it’s a great closer on this very varied compilation CD, that runs for seventy-six minutes. It’s a confirmation, the ladies are definitely gaining popularity in a world, that was once only dominated by men. So hail to female power, would be my final comment to this CD/DVD set. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

WIND WRAITH-The Fortune Teller’s Gaze (Iron Glory Records)
WIND WRAITH hails from Germany and consists of Pat Blair on rhythm guitar, Brian Fingerhut on guitar, Rob Maresca on drums, Scott Oliva (ex INNER STRENGTH) on vocals, Brian Hubble on bass and Diana Dellasala on rhythm guitar. “The Fortune Teller’s Gaze” is their debut album. You don’t have to be a genius to hear that IRON MAIDEN (Bruce Dickinson era) is one of the influences of this power metal outfit. Just listen to songs like “War In The Sun”, “Dragon Riders” and title track “Fortune Teller’s Gaze” and you’ll know what I mean. In the ballad like “Watching Over Me”, the influences are less obvious. The album contains eleven good power metal songs, and in my imagination I already see some hair waving, while playing great headbangers like “Millennium Horror” live on stage at some local clubs. The band is now at its second year of existence with this line up. And this is their first outing of their musical abilities: playing kick ass heavy metal with lots of MAIDEN influences. And I know for sure, if this band tries to put a little bit more of themselves into the songs, they would become better and better. They are already writing for a follow up CD, so I am very curious what this will bring us. This CD is already a very good start. Highlight for me are the aforementioned “Millennium Horror” and the lenghty “Ancient Tales” with female vocals, a great guitar solo at the end and mood changes in the middle of the song. Now, that’s what I mean with own input and what I like about their music! I hope to hear the successor to “The Fortune Teller’s Gaze” real soon. The CD closes with a great version of the ELVIS PRESLEY cover “Burning Love”, by the way. An excellent choice and not a really obvious song to cover. It reminded me a little of MEAT LOAF here and there, and that’s a compliment. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

AYREON (CDsingle)-Loser (Inside Out)
Maybe “Loser” is an odd choice to become a single. It’s a re-recording with his STAR ONE project, featuring the mad voice of Devin Townsend. The other three songs on this CDsingle are goodies, like you would expect from AYREON. First off, we hear the ALICE COOPER cover “How You Gonna See Me Now”, a brilliant song of course in its original form. While “Into The Black Hole” was recorded live at the “Stairway To Heaven” CD presentation show. It’s a song, that didn’t get on the album and it has the great voice of Irene Jansen. Irene also sings the last song “Castle Hall”, which is in fact the acoustic version, taken from AYREON’s previous album “Into The Electric Castle”. There you have it, sixteen minutes of great AYREON material. And the secret code on the inside of the CD single gives you access to a secret page on AYREON’s website, where you can find even more goodies. What a treat for the fans! [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BAD CANDY (CDsingle)-(You Are) Not My Father (Dino Music)
We’re waiting and waiting for a full length CD of these ladies. And after buying all their CD singles, I think we will already know all the songs, that will eventually appear on this debut album. What a disappointment that will be! I hope, I am not right here, and these singles are just pre-tasters and the album will be full new material. Anyway, let’s talk about the music on this new single. We can hear two new songs, namely “You Are Not My Father” and “Under 21”. The video clip of “You Are Not My Father” is also on this single release. The songs are quite catchy again, and will definitely appeal to the younger rock fans out there. They can surely compete with other stars like AVRIL LAVIGNE or PINK, so go for it! I think, the time is right for a full length album now, ladies!! [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DORO (CDsingle)-Let Love Rain On Me (AFM Records)
We’ve mentioned this several times before… DORO has collaborated with the Metal Classic Night Orchestra on a CD. She will also do a tour and some special gigs with the orchestra in October. This six song single release is a pre-taster of what to expect. A lot of DORO songs are very suitable for playing in a more classical arangement together with an orchestra. And a good example of such a song is the title track “Let Love Rain On Me”. For the multi-langual DORO fans, there’s also a Spanish and a French version of this song here. Next we get a real surprise. It’s the JUDAS PRIEST cover “Breaking The Law”, which also got the classical orchestra treatment. Fans will know enough by now, I think. Although I must admit that “Last Rose Of The Summer” would have been a much better choice. Then we get the radio version of “I Rule The Ruins”, another DORO classic in a classical jacket. The single closes with an acoustic version of the non-album track “Rare Diamond”, which will become a rare diamond in your DORO collection indeed. As a bonus, there’s a video clip of “Unholy Love” on this silver disc as well. Talking about value for money here. DORO always knows how to treat her fans right. It’s a shame, that Holland is not included on the list for a live show with the M.C.N.O., but hey, you can’t have it all. The new album “Classic Diamonds” will be reviewed in our next issue, by the way. Enjoy the single! htpp://www.doropesch.com; http://www.doro.de; http://www.doro rocks.net. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

EPICA (CDsingle)-Feint (Transmission Records)
In a previous review of EPICA, I already mentioned the brilliant marketing strategy, behind their releases. And right now they came up with another great strategy to promote the release of “Feint”. The CD single of “Feint” was released a couple of months ago already. It came in a CD box with room for two CDs. First you would buy the first single (“Feint”) and a couple of months later, the second one to fill the empty space in the box. Now, that’s good thinking! Let me tell you about these two singles here. Alltogether, they are worthy of forty minutes of music. Some songs appeared on their debut album “The Phantom Agony”, but there’s also some previously unreleased stuff or alternative take outs. The first four track single contains “Feint”, the unreleased piano version of the same song, “Triumph Of Defeat” (which is a previously unreleased and instrumental tune) and “Seif Al Din”, taken from their debut album. Biggest eye-catchers on both single are the almost classical arrangements, the beautiful voice of Simone Simons, the enormous bombastic sound and the really beautiful artwork that was used. The second single contains the single version of “Cry For The Moon”, which is followed by the album version of that same song. Then we hear a previously unreleased single version for the track “Run For A Fall”. The second CD closes with the album version of “Run For A Fall”. See for yourself, if this package is an interesting release for you. It was for us, because EPICA plays some really beautiful music, which can be enjoyed while banging your head, or with the lights down low in a more romantic atmosphere. There’s something for everybody in their music. Nice detail to close with is that Amanda Sommerville, known for her work with AINA, sings in the EPICA choir. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

EVANESCENCE (CDsingle)-Everybody’s Fool (Wind Up Records)
Amy Lee has become the new face in the metal and rock scene and of course of her own band EVANESCENCE. Her name is mentioned everywhere, and if people start to compare your name to hers, you’ll possibly be the next big thing on earth. That’s how things work out sometimes. I have to admit, that I don’t really understand the whole fuzz around this band. Their songs are catchy enough to land in the (inter)national charts. Aimee’s vocals are very beautiful, I can’t say a bad word about that, but to call the band ‘special’ is something that goes much too far for me. Fact is, that this works out very well for the band, and they won’t be touched by my critical words. Maybe it’s better this way. If they can bring back the ‘metal spirit’ in the whole scene, then it’s alright with me. The single contains “Everybody’s Fool” as next Ferrari for the band members. It’s already very high in our charts here. As a ‘thank you’ for the millions of people who will buy this release, they added a live version of “Taking Over Me”, recorded in Cologne to this release. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

NIGHTWISH (CDsingle)-Nemo (Nuclear Blast)
“Nemo” is the first single taken off the new NIGHTWISH album “Once”. It is actually released in two parts and it is a pretty good taste of what to expect from the new release. The first disc features four tracks. The first two are taken from “Once”. They are the single “Nemo” (of course) and “Planet Hell”, one of the heavier tracks off “Once”. Next, we have a unreleased song called “White Night Fantasy”, which would fit right in with the rest of the songs from “Once”. It is a very good song. An orchestral version of “Nemo” brings this to a close. On this disc we also have a multimedia studio report/photo gallery for your computer. The other disc features another previously unreleased song “Live To Tell The Tale” and video for the song “Nemo” The band definitely has released a cool package, that is a must to complete any NIGHTWISH fans collection. [8 points] (Tony Cannella)

VANILLA NINJA (CDsingle)-Liar (Bros Music)
And yet another single from VANILLA NINJA from Estonia. Just like their previous two singles, they hit the nail right on the head this time. Give the people value for their money when they buy your product, and they’ll come back for more. So now you can enjoy the single version of “Liar”, the unplugged version and the extended version of the same song, and the song “Heartless” on this single release. Together good for eighteen minutes of catchy rock music. On top of that all, you’ll be able to watch the video clip that was recorded for this song. Anything completer than this does simply not exist. The band may not be that heavy, but for the youngsters among us, it’s definitely a band with potential. They already have the right strategy and attitude to become the next big hit in the overcrowded music scene of today. http://www.vanilla-ninja.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

[Updated: Nov. 30, 2004]

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