CD REVIEWS


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


MM#34/Dec. 2003:

ALMORA-Gates Of Time (Zýhný Müzýk)
In our endless search for female fronted bands from all over the world, we now landed in an exotic country, called Turkey. There we’ll find ALMORA, named after King Almora, I presume. Two of the band members are female musicians. The band plays a good mixture between metal and folk. In opener “Change”, we hear the softer side of the band. It’s a beautiful short intro with opera-like female vocals. “Heaven’s Fire Gates” is a heavy song with nice guitar riffs, and in “Cyrano” we hear the female voice upfront for the very first time. The band adds a certain Turkish atmosphere to the whole and really impressed me a lot. The second female member of ALMORA plays the flute, which fits really well with the folky side of the band. Of course your thoughts go out to SKYCLAD, but they’re definitely not as heavy as their earliest work. They come close to the later sound of that folk metal band. “Candle In The Night” is a ballad, and the beautiful “No Turning Back!” reminds me of MAGO DE OZ in a certain way. It’s a cheerful, yet heavy song. Same goes for “Wings Of Wind”. “Gates Of Time” is a short instrumental song, which is used as an intro to “Masalci” (translated: “The Stormwinder”). It’s the only song on this CD that is sung in the Turkish language. ALMORA consists of Soner Canözer on guitar and ‘yayli tambur’ (which is a traditional Turkish instrument, in case you wondered), Burak Canözer on guitar, A. Vefa Erdem on bass and fretless bass, Serkan Karabiyik on drums, Ahmet Söğütlüoğlu on male vocals, Nîhan T on female vocals and violin and Bilge Kocaarslan on flute. Twelve songs with a total time of about fifty-five minutes are on this CD. The review of this CD has been made possible by the help of our good friend Rainer from Berlin, who provided us with a copy of this CD. For more info on ALMORA, you can visit their website at http://www.almora.net. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

AREA 54-Beckoning Of The End (Casket Music)
AREA 54 mixes OZZY OSBOURNE (newer style, vocals) with IRON MAIDEN (music, rhythm, riffs). They are the new promise of the heavy metal scene in England, if you ask my opinion. They will definitely be good competition for bands like SHADOW KEEP, for example. AREA 54 was founded in 1997 in London, and they released their debut album “No Visible Scars” in 2002. This new album contains ten Maidenesque songs (just listen to “To Conform Is To Suffer” to get the idea) and over an hour of good metal music. The band consists of Lakis Kyriacou on guitar, vocals and keyboards, Steve Martin on guitars and vocals, Rob Hillman on drums and Laura Salmon on bass and cello. “Scarred Earth” is the obligatory ballad on the album, which may be the only weak spot in the beginning, but later on when it gets a bit more powerful, it’s acceptable again. Especially the PANTERA like riffs at the end of the song, are great! They make the same mistake in “Another Life” and “This Is The End Of Everything” (where GUNS N’ ROSES meets OZZY OSBOURNE). Two songs, which are much too sweet and too soft for a band, that profile themselves as heavy metal. It’s very difficult to keep away from the ‘stop’ button, at the beginning of this last loooooong tune (almost fifteen minutes). In the great “Personal Gain”, which is in fact my personal highlight of this album, they make up for that tiny little fault though. While in “Cancer Of The mind”, we hear Tomas Lindberg of AT THE GATES, as a guest vocalist. However, I think the band can do the trick alone without the help of guest appearances, and they’re damn good in what they’re doing. They have a great singer in Lakis, and Tomas screams too much for this old style heavy metal. By the way, the CD also includes the full length video (in b/w) for “Living A Lie”, playable as WMP on your PC. AREA 54, definately a name to remember and hopefully, they will tour Holland soon. A good band and promising newcomers in the next wave of British Heavy Metal. Website: http://www.area54.co.uk. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ARCH ENEMY-Anthems Of Rebellion (Century Media/SPV)
So here it is, the long awaited release by ARCH ENEMY, titled "Anthems Of Rebellion". Their previous outing "Wages Of Sin" garnered the band much deserved acclaim in the metal world and "Anthems Of Rebellion" sees the band poised to keep the momentum going. The album begins with the intro track "Tear Down The Walls", which leads us to the opening frenzy of "Silent Wars". From the very beginning, it is apparent that the band hasn't lost any of their hunger and the next track "We Will Rise" only confirms this. Next up is "Dead Eyes See No Future" with its heavy yet melodic guitar riff. Lead vocalist Angela Gossow sounds as great as ever, delivering a vocal presence that only gets better. Her vocals are so clear, that you can make out every word. The guitar work of Micheal & Chris Amott are solid and Sharlee D'Angelo (bass) and Daniel Erlands-son (drums) provide "Anthems Of Rebellion" with a solid rhythm section. Other highlights include: "Instinct", "Leader Of The Rats" (Angela's vocals sound truly evil on this track), "Exist To Exit", "End Of The Line", and "Despicable Heroes". The limited edition comes with a bonus DVD audio disc, that features three songs live from the bands 2002 "Wages Of Sin" campaign and three songs from "Anthems..." re-mixed in Dolby digital 5.1 sound. As if we needed more incentive to buy this. "Anthems Of Rebellion" features thirteen tracks and forty-three minutes worth of high quality material. The band, as a whole sound very inspired, almost like they had to prove that "Wages Of Sin" was no fluke. In my opinion that statement has been made and then some. This album will surely be on many year-end top 10 lists. [9 points] (Tony Cannella)

ARCTIC FIELDS-Prism (Frozen Records)
ARCTIC FIELDS started out as MANDRAKE, but shortly afterwards changed their name, because there was another band called MANDRAKE already. They decided to change their name into ARCTIC FIELDS, and it was at that point, that the female face of the band joined their ranks. Here they present us their four track MCD, which contains four long melodic rock songs. ARCTIC FIELDS is a five piece band consisting of Martin Schütte on guitar and backing vocals, Simon Arendt on guitar and keyboards, Ingo Salzmann on guitar and keyboards, Marc Schönberg on bass and backing vocals, Alexander Tabisz on drums and frontlady Petra Stelling on vocals. Petra’s vocals are dark, yet warm, with a touch of Chrissie Hynde. Just listen to the beginning of “Running Home” and you’ll know what I mean. The music is heavy, yet melodic. At the end of opener “Nightfall In Neverland”, we hear the ability of Martin and Simon to impress the reviewer in a few seconds. They did that again during the nice guitar solo in “Children Of Eden”, which opens with a great, catchy riff. The four songs have a total running time of almost twenty-five minutes, and I think there’s a lot to enjoy in that time. Because of the female vocals of Petra, it’s kinda difficult to compare them to other bands in this scene, which gives you the idea that you’re listening to something that hasn’t been done before too much. Maybe you could compare them to FADING STARLIGHT, and they can see this as a huge compliment, ‘cause I like this band very much. For more info, you can visit their website at: http://www.articfields.de. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BAGGAGE-Baggage (independent)
BAGGAGE's address is on Siesta Avenue. Siesta is the slow part of the day, when it's hottest. That's the opposite of BAGGAGE's music. With catchy rhythms like these, I would expect pogoing and excitement. Not sleeping. The bands sound is uncluttered. It's accessible to both punks and rock fans. Using the current language, it rocks! The lyrics are about serious emotions. They are recognized and dealt with. Having done so, they become confident. There's a quality of certainty and the melody to back this up. The CD opens with “Right Now”. Richie starts on drums. He establishes a pace that's fast, but not too fast. Medeline displays some good picking during her guitar solo. The song is about some who at present doesn't want to start a relationship. They are saying that right now it would be better for them to be free. I wish Adriana's vocals were a little louder. It would be easier to hear the words. Melina rounds out the guitar part and adds a second vocal part. Some mention should be made of “Punk Rock Girl”. It observes someone, who fits the discription. She's living the way she wants to live. Even if you wouldn't want to do the same. The music shows a good knowledge of what punk sounds like. There are five songs on BAGGAGE's CD. Some people will think it's their demo. But it's so well done, I say it's their first EP. Website: http://www.gotbaggage.com. Contact address: BAGGAGE, 224 S. Siesta Ave., La Pneute, CA 91746, USA. [9 points] (Jack Little)

BOANERGES-Más Allá Del Umbral (independent)
I think a lot of our readers will remember this IRON MAIDEN like band from Argentina (reviewed in MM #16). If you liked the sound of that CD, then you must have a listen to this new mini album, which contains four new songs and one cover. This album was released in 2002 already, and we are glad to be able to review this MCD, with the help of our good friend Rainer from Berlin. With “Héroes En Soledad”, they already stole my heart. Maybe the sound on this CD is a bit more new fashioned, but when the guitars start to roar, I know this is what I want to hear. The solos are skull splitting and when you add the powerful voice of Gabriella Sepulveda, you’ll get the thundering sound of BOANERGES (which means ‘children of thunder’). Another great guitar solo is to be found in “La Grande Batalla”. While “Castillo Fuerte” means a short piece of rest. I think they’re loading their guns during this song, to start firing again in “Imperios Y Reinos”. The last song on this twenty-five minutes, five track EP is a cover of STRYPER, called “Soldiers Under Command”. This song gives away that BOANERGES is a metal band, with a Christian background. You wouldn’t tell, if you’d listen to their mix of old MAIDEN riffs and influences of a more new fashioned metal sound. The CD also contains a ‘multimedia part’, by the way. Check out the bands website at: http://www. boanerges.com.ar. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DARIEN BRAHMS-Green Valentine (Cornmeal Records)
DARIEN BRAHMS origines from Portland, Maine, and she presents us her third solo CD here. Darien has shared the stage with the likes of THE VIOLENT FEMMES, THE BUTCHIES and TOWNES VAN ZANDT, to name but a few. And her music is a mix of jazz, pop, rock, country, latin and easy listening. Variation all over, so to speak. Darien released her first solo album in 1992, which was called “Hello, Hello To The People”. Her second album “Little Bundle Of Sugar” was released in 2000. The music on “Green Valentine” is quite different from the average music, that we review in MM maybe, but I am sure that the open-minded reader of our magazine will like the sound of her music and her voice. She has got a lot of talent and she’s definitely a gifted songwriter. People, who like to listen to a cross between MELISSA ETHERIDGE and EMMYLOU HARRIS must definitely check this one out. Highlights on this album are opener “St. Joan”, “Everyone” and “Wicked”. More information can be obtained from Darien’s website at: http://www.darienbrahms.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CONDITION RED-Condition Red II (Lion Music)
CONDITION RED are a progressive metal band from Finland. This is their second album, entitled “Condition Red II”. The band consists of some very talented and well known musicians. We hear Gerard Kloos (EMPIRE) on drums, Alexander King on keyboards, Alex Masi on guitar, Lars Eric Mattsson on guitar, bass, sitar and keyboards and the metal maiden in the band is Ella Grussner on vocals, violin and flute. I think, fans of progressive metal will have a lot to enjoy here. Seven of the thirteen songs are instrumentals, and the other songs have the heavenly voice of Ella. The instrumental parts are very impressive indeed. Think about DREAM THEATER at its best. There’s even a short drum solo in “In/Out”. However, most eye-catching on this CD are the flute, the violins and the warm vocals of Ella. They separate CONDITION RED from all these other progressive metal bands in the scene. Ella doesn’t use the soprano vocals, but she has a very warm sound. Maybe you can even call it poppy sometimes. But whatever you might call it, it still sounds very beautiful to me. In “Time Passes By” we hear some jazzy parts, and yes, you may even call the sound of Ella’s voice jazzy, in some cases. It fits great with the sound of the band, in every way. Highly recommended to prog metal fans! http://www.condition-red.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

COOKIES DOWNTOWN-Cookies Downtown (independent)
Eleven songs and thirty-two minutes of hot, sweating punk rock music by five ladies, who give you all they have got! That’s what you get, when you buy the debut album of COOKIES DOWNTOWN. We even interviewed the band in this very issue of Metal Maidens, simply because they deserve all the attention, that we can give to them. After two fast openers (“Punk Bitch!” and “Bang Bang”), they slow things down a bit with “Past Is Past”. After “Birds”, they pump up the volume again in “The Key”. There are two songs on the CD that are recorded live, namely “Psycho Fancy” and the SALT ‘N PEPA (????????) cover “Push It”. They also play a second cover on this album, which is a very funny version of FELIX MENDELSSOHN’s “Wedding March”. These girls play it all, and it sounds pretty good, too. Want to convince yourself of this? Surf for more information to: http:// www.cookiesdowntown.com or send an email to: info@cookies downtown.com. COOKIES DOWNTOWN consists of Rosanna Goodman on vocals, Anna Hovhannessian on lead guitar, Anoush Hovhannessian on bass guitar, Michele Gardiner on rhythmn guitar and Amy McLaughlin on drums. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE DEL TOROS-Hot Damn! (Suavecitas Records)
THE DEL TOROS are from Portland, Oregon, the hometown of my good friend Matt McCourt of WILD DOGS and DR MASTERMIND. The band consists of three ladies, and was put together in 2001. They only exist for two years now, but you won’t tell if you listen to the ten songs on this thirty minute loudhotwetanddripping withsweatmetalpopinyourfaceblastingpunksurfrocksexplosion. With this description, they will definitely appear in the ‘Guiness Book Of World Records’, but I had to come up with something special for a special band like that. The three ladies roar with anger like a mad bull, so now you know why they call themselves THE DEL TOROS. And their music is ‘damn hot’, which explains the title of this album……a bit. All music styles (mentioned in my description of the band) are represented in their songs, but I think that fast punk rock is the biggest ingredient that’s used in the recipe on this CD. It’s too easy to compare these three ladies to THE DONNAS, but you have to think in that direction to come close. THE DEL TOROS consist of Erica Thygesen on bass, ‘Machine Gun’ Mary Esquivel on drums and Sheri Deitrich on guitar, and it seems that they have a wild stage performance. A good performance starts with good songs, and they convinced me with that on this album. Oh, don’t forget to search for the hidden track, which is a great version of NICK LOWE’s “What Did I Do Last Night”. Just have a listen to it yourself…..if you dare! For more information, you can visit the bands website at: http://www.thedeltoros.com or read the interview in one of the upcoming issues of your favorite magazine. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DEVAY-Break Down The Walls (Polaris Records)
The CD “Break Down The Walls”, by Montreal-based singer DEVAY, is an overlooked masterpiece of Canadian rock. Originally recorded in 1992, and issued on the Polaris label, this CD is a superb collection of 1980s-style metal songs, comparable to PAT BENATAR, LITA FORD, or LEE AARON. Unfortunately, this album never achieved the worldwide recognition that it deserved. While it is currently out of print, copies are still available from the production company’s website: www.tgorecords. com. For the album, vocalist DEVAY – she goes by her last name only – teamed up with Tony Green, a well-known producer of rock and dance music in Montreal. The songs were written jointly by DEVAY herself, lead guitarist Barry Hughes and keyboardist Anton Maze. She also had the help of some of Montreal’s best session musicians recording the CD. The result: world class metal that was almost completely overlooked. Of the eleven tracks on this CD, the opener, “Rock And A Hard Place”, starts up with a MOTLEY CRÜE-type guitar riff and segues into a powerful hard rock song. The second, “Heart Like A Gun”, is actually an original composition, not a cover of a FIONA FLANAGAN piece. The third, “Whatever It Takes”, has the same flavor as PATTI SMITH’s “Because The Night”. The remainder are a combination of melodic metal with an occasional power ballad. The instrumental work is excellent, with tight, concise guitar solos, catchy hooks, and anthemic choruses. The lyrics are articulate, and socially conscious. DEVAY’s voice has a unique ability to convey emotion. This CD was one of the best metal releases to come out of Canada. You can order the CD for US$15.00 plus $4.00 shipping. (guest review by: Gordon Richards).

DUKE-Escape From Reality (Massacre Records)
DUKE are a brandnew band from Germany, and their debut album sounds pretty fresh to me. Okay, you will hear some influences of HELLOWEEN and GAMMA RAY here and there, but I also hear some JUDAS PRIEST and PRIMAL FEAR, and the band distinguishes itself from the average band in the power metal scene of today. Another interesting fact is, that the band has a female drummer, and a damn good one too. Her name is Anja Assmuth, and she’s the sister of ANGEL DUST drummer Dirk Assmuth. What more can we say? Well, they have a singer called “Leo ‘Harridon Lee’ Szpigiel, who used to play with CROWS, ANGEL DUST and SCANNER before he joined DUKE. The band already shared the stage with acts like FREEDOM CALL, ONKEL TOM, MOB RULES, TANKARD, SQUEALER and EDGUY. Put all of these facts together and you’ll get the profile of an interresting and very promising new band in the power metal scene. The ten songs, and forty-five minutes of music on this debut album convinced me of the fact that they are more than just another power metal band. The last song on this album is called “Remember My Name”. I think, I’ll follow that advise. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ELIS-God’s Silence, Devil’s Temptation (Napalm Records)
Napalm records, who have brought us the likes of such bands as TRISTANIA, BATTLELORE, TRAIL OF TEARS and SINS OF THY BELOVED have now brought us the Liechtenstein quintet known simply as ELIS. And as far as this band is concerned, I see them knocking all of the others, right off the shelves. Napalm has been playing this band up for about a year now. And finally, we have the debut release "God's Silence, Devil's Temptation" here in mid 2003. Let me just start by saying, Napalm was not wrong about this one. Trust me, they’re going to be big. Sabine Dunser is the name of this new sensation. Not unlike the other Sabine (Edelsbacher) we are familiar with, in voice. As a matter of fact, very similar. But this Sabine (ELIS) does not sing power metal. This is a Beauty and Beast thing of the gothic metal variety. Ms. Dunser though, has tons more emotion in her voice. I can sit here and compare her voice also to the likes of Sharon den Adel or even Floor Janssen, but that would serve no purpose to our readers. I am mesmerized by Sabine's vocal talent as I was, when I first heard Floor Janssen sing. Not a been there done that, this band is very special and virtually came out of nowhere, although Napalm Records had been playing them up rather big at their website. But from all the writing, they seemed to have hit it good with this one. This is Napalm's answer to bands such as AFTER FOREVER and WITHIN TEMPTATION. I know she is new, but Sabine Dunser has already conquered my list of top ten female vocalists. She is outstanding! These people are not clones! This is some highly original and provocative gothic metal for a debut album. "God's Silence, Devil's Temptation" is all you need to know about provocative. A good and evil theme. The music and the vocals are all good. Surrounding Sabine are some very talented musicians. They better be, ‘cause she deserves as much talent around her as can be gotten. Peter Streit and Jurgen Broger supply the twin guitar attack. Not a rarity to begin with, a gothic metal twin guitar line-up. We've seen it before with other European bands of this ilk. The trade-off riffs on some of the songs are truly inspirational and the two do not sound like amateurs or newcomers to the metal scene. On bass and additional vocals is Tom Saxor. His bass playing drives the rhythms of the music and he also adds a pretty well done beast effect to some of the songs. The bulk of the drums are handled by Franky Koller. I say bulk because, there are guest drums on a couple of the tracks done by Martin Schmidt of ATROCITY. There’s no explanation for this, for I think that Franky Koller does a good driving double bass on his own. Now, here's where it becomes a bit foggy. The band does not list a keyboards player, but there are ivories permeating their sound. Piano and synthesizers are very prominent in the mix. There is even some violin type stuff, but I am unsure whether they’re using the instrument itself or some kind of keyboard. Anyway, the band would have to explain this to me, as I cannot figure it out. But nonetheless, it sounds good and doesn't take anything away from their overall sound. The album begins right off the bat with a song that would be a number one hit on any gothic metal chart. "For Such A Long Time" is a fantastic opener for the album with Sabine right up front displaying her talent as the lead singer. It has a nice chorus that will ring in your ears long after its over. "Where You Belong" follows in the same fashion, but adds bass player Tom Saxor with a taste of some nicely done beast vocals. And the band do not kill you with the growly stuff. It is in there, but not overbearing. Sabine is the real star here, lest we forget. Third track sees the addition of foreign vocals in German. "Sie Erfasst Mein Herz" gives light to a different side of Sabine and she pulls it off unmistakably well. Why shouldn't she? It's probably more comfortable for her to sing this way. Reminds me a bit of the way Medeah of ARTROSIS, who sounds a lot more comfortable singing in her native Polish. But foreign vocals are not my bag, although when the voice is this good, it doesn't matter if she's singing in Martian. "Do You Believe" is the next track and is also an inspirational tune that would also be a good Gothic chart buster. Another foreign lyrics song and then were treated to the two songs which the album was named for. "God's Silence" and "Devil's Temptation" are side by side and both songs feature some well done growly stuff amid the heavenly vocals of an angel. Fans of this style are not going to be disappointed. And the production level and sound are just perfect. On the eighth track "Come To Me", Sabine does a very nice solo ballad with piano in the background and what sounds to be some violin. Track twelve is a bonus track called "Betrayal", that keeps me longing for more from this outfit in the future. A very bright future indeed. Produced by Alexander Krull and recorded at Mastersound Studio, Fellbach in 2002/2003, ELIS' "God' Silence, Devil's Temptation" is a testament to a new wave of gothic metal bands that are taking the music world by storm. The album I have is the limited digibook version. The artwork is also highly remarkable. If you don't buy any other album this year, at least you have to give this album a spin. If you are a fan of WITHIN TEMPTATION, AFTER FOREVER, or newcomers EPICA, then this is definately what you should have in your collection. I don't usually rate a debut album so high, but I just cannot help bestowing kudos on a masterpiece such as this. A well done slab of good gothic metal. Website: http://www.elis.li/ [10 points] (Dennis Arancio)

FAIRY MIRROR-Eternal Fortress (Miracle Whoracle)
FAIRY MIRROR are a five piece metal band from Japan, and many people will know by now that I like the music from that country very much. The twelve songs on this CD are good for fifty minutes of solid metal. The band has gone through many line up changes already, but it seems that they’ve finally found a stable line-up now, consisting of Koichi Meguro on guitar, Mori Dohmae on guitar, Kazuyoshi Keho on drums, Mariko Inoue on bass guitar (female) and Miyako Namikawa on vocals (female). It’s quite difficult to compare the sound of FAIRY MIRROR to other bands. Mainly because of the screaming vocals of Miyako and the use of choirs sometimes, which sound nothing at all like the average stuff that you hear nowadays. The instrumental part of this CD is a bit more traditional though. Think about GAMMA RAY, to get some idea here. Also the choirs point into the direction of bands like EDGUY, ANGRA and GAMMA RAY a bit. But the sound of FAIRY MIRROR is more refined and not that straight forward. Highlights for me on this CD are “The Will” and “Flash Back”, but I think you will come up with your own faves, if you listen to the album yourself. More information about the band can be obtained from their website at: http://homepage.nifty.com/fairymirror/ [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

FIREBALL MINISTRY-The Second Great Awakening (Nuclear Blast)
FIREBALL MINISTRY are on next. Who? FIREBALL MINISTRY, that’s who! Four band members, including two females, take us back to the time when it was no shame to tell your friends, that you’re a heavy metal fan. They take you back to the early days of BLACK SABBATH. Reverend Ja-mes A Rota sounds as ‘lazy’ as Ozzy himself. He has that same touch in his voice. The doomy rhythms are provided by drummer John Oreshnick and good old Janis Tanaka (of L7 fame) plays the bass. Emily J Burton adds the powerful riffs and solos to the twelve songs of this forty-five minute ear attack. The band has already shared the stage with the likes of DANZIG, FU MANCHU, THE DATSUNS and MOTÖRHEAD, which is a good thing. Their high energy rock will probably get some great reviews in these days of eighties revivals, I think. Whereas stoner rock acts are becoming scarce, the honest sound of bands like FIREBALL MINISTRY are slowly establishing a place in the music scene. This is already their third album, and the second album with Janis, for all you L7 fans out there. The CD contains a bonus track, namely “Dark Descend”, but every song on the album is well worth listening to. Highly recommended to all BLACK SABBATH and QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE fans out there. Don’t forget to check out http://www.fireballministry.com for all the other information about this band. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE GOSSIP-Movement (Kill Rock Stars)
Their live show in Glasgow some years ago left a great impression on me. “Movement” is the new album of THE GOSSIP. It contains eleven tracks and has a total time of thirty minutes. Opener “Night” is slow, and I didn’t really expect a song like this here by this American punk rock band. “Jason’s Basement” is already more in the direction of what I did expect from them. With “No, No, No” however, they hit the nail right on the head. Altough the intro is slow, they explode into a fast song right after that. Beth has got this voice, by which she can instruct a whole troop of soldiers. It’s very powerful, but also very clear. And she also has got some soul in her voice, that I like a lot. Beth is backed up by Nathan Howdeshell on guitar and Kathy Mendonca on drums. None of the songs even come near the many clichés, that you hear by other punk rock bands in this style of music. Just listen to the surprisingly acapella singing and handclapping at the end of “Gone”. It’s just that little difference, that separates them from the average bands that you hear sometimes. The band strips their music right down to the most elementary form imaginable and all other rubbish disappears immediately. How honest can music sound today? This Riot Grrrl clan sounds very honest, their music comes straight from the heart, and many bands can learn a lot from this approach. Watch out for a short ‘hidden track’ at the end of the CD. More info can be obtained from: http://www.gossipyouth.com [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HAVANHA BROWN-Nothin’ Pretty About It (independent)
HAVANHA BROWN are somewhere between stoner rock and punk. Some songs more than the other. All songs are loud and heavy. The angry punk shouts are Brandi Bryant's vocals. She plays lots of guitar. Vanessa Kaylor's bass playing is strong, fast and effective. On the CD, Audra Mott bashes the drums. No doubt Darin Holmes will hit them as hard in the future. “It's All Your Fault” might be slower than some of the other seven songs. There are lots of chords and lots of distinct beats. What the speaker has become isn't good. Not all of it is her responsibility. In other words, “It's All Your Fault”. “Floored” is deliberate during the verses. In between them, the band shows how well they can play. During the first one, we hear a cool solo from Brandi. On the second, HAVANHA BROWN stretch out and play. You can hear the pounding drums and low end bass without any trouble here, too. There are words with this. She's impressed with a man, she has met. Under other circumstances she might have started some short of relationship with him. But she's in a band, that must move on. Being a woman in rock wins out. Not everyone tries to make this kind of music. Most don't do it as well as HAVANHA BROWN. Internet: http://www. havanhabrown.com. Email: brandi@ havanhabrown.com. Contact: HAVANHA BROWN, c/o Brandi Bryant, P.O. Box 1813, Garden Grove, CA 92642, USA. [10 points] (Jack Little)

HEART-Alive In Seattle (Epic)
In our previous issue, we already reviewed the DVD of this live show, that HEART did at the Paramount Theater in Seattle (grunge city) last year. Although grunge definitely killed rock music for me, HEART was the band that build the hard rock scene from that same city in the early seventies. And they’re still going strong, after hearing these recent recordings from their hometown. Many fans considered them the female version of LED ZEPPELIN, and I think they really do deserve this title. Heavy, where needed, and soft at the right moments. The voice of Ann Wilson is very impressive, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard a woman, that comes close to her vocalwise. The subtleness of Nancy Wilson, handling the acoustic guitar soft and gentle in the back, or cranking out a loud guitar solo when showing her lovely, smiling face in front of the stage. There are many beautiful compositions on this CD, most of it comes from the back catalogue of the ladies like “Crazy On You”, “Straight On”, “These Dreams”, “Alone”, “Dog And Butterfly”, “Magic Man”, “Dreamboat Annie” and of course “Barracuda”. They also play four new songs and a few covers, like “Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters” (ELTON JOHN) and two LED ZEPPELIN songs, namely “The Battle Of Evermore” and “Black Dog”. Oh, I almost forgot to mention the rest of the band here. Well, here it goes. They have Tom Kellock on keyboards, Ben Smith on drums, who already played in THE LOVEMONGERS with the Wilson sisters, Scott Olson on lead guitar, who was Nancy’s guitar technician for years, and ex ALICE IN CHAINS and OZZY OSBOURNE member Mike Inez on bass guitar. On a SACD player you can hear the 5.1 surround of this album, which is a must for every rock fan in the house. I can’t wait to hear the new album of this band, after hearing this great double live disc, that contains nineteen songs and hundred minutes of timeless hard rock music. Internet: http://www.heart-music.com. or http://www.annandnancy.com. [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HIGH SCHOOL HELLCATS-Girls Like You (independent)
There's a lot of life and energy to the HIGH SCHOOL HELLCATS. The band don't use a lot of special effects. What they do is play lively music very well. As you might guess from the words high school, this is a young band. Victoria and Melissa are the old ladies at twenty-two. The songs are about social situations, that someone that age might face. If that's your situation, it’s the most important thing on earth at the moment. HIGH SCHOOL HELLCATS sing about it. “Girls Like You” is about girls, who irritate them. The other girl isn't independent and copies other people too much. Victoria gives this enough bass to support, but does not dominate the song. “Same Old Story” has a nice guitar intro. Nancy's note playing stands out. Melissa and Victoria sing the two vocal parts. All instruments come through well. That's Melissa on the other guitar. The new drummer will be Tara. “Same Old Story” is about sameness, changing things and not allowing boredom to set in. The band shows what they can do on “Wasted Lines”. All three guitar parts sound good together. The catchy rhythm keeps things moving at a fast pace. “I Wish I Was A Robot” would be fast for a punk song. The words are pronounced clearly and rapidly. She says she wishes she was a robot, because I would be perfect for you. There's something likeable about music like this. Internet: http://www.highschoolhellcats.com. [8 points] (Jack Little)

GARY HUGHES-Once And Future King – Part II (Frontiers)
The second part of the rock opera from TEN frontman GARY HUGHES has arrived. It’s called “Once And Future King - Part II” and it is a continuation on the story of King Arthur. As with the first disc, part II features a plethora of guest singers - each playing a different role. It is one of the best releases of this kind to come along in quite some time. Part II begins with “Kill The King”. Here vocalist DC Cooper takes center stage as King Aelle and does a great job. After GARY HUGHES takes over on two songs (he plays King Arthur), it’s time for LANA LANE to show what she can do as Queen Guinevere. On the song “Ocean Of Tears”, her voice sounds as great as ever and it really gives this song the class that it needs. Next up is “Rise From The Shadows” with the vocal duties handled by Irene Jansen (as Morgana). Irene has a very powerful voice that really shines on the tracks she sings on. Next is a duet with Sabine Edelsbacher from EDENBRIDGE and Bob Catley from MAGNUM on the song “Believe Enough To Fight”. An odd pairing, but it works quite nicely. Sabine shows up one more time, this time singing solo on the song “The Pagan Dream”. She has such a beautiful voice and it really shows. This is a different vehicle than EDEN-BRIDGE, but she pulls it off just fine. GARY HUGHES has proven to be a talented musician and he has done a great job in assembling all of this talent. “Once And Future King - Parts I & II” are both well written concept albums, that will please fans of good hard rock with well crafted, catchy songs. Well worth a listen! [8 points] (Tony Cannella)

IRON RAIN-Sardonic (independent)
I think a lot of our readers still remember IRON RAIN from Eureka, California. Well, they’re back with a great new album, called “Sardonic”. It’s the musical reflection of how they feel after the things that happened in the past few months, no maybe even years. And I can tell you that they’re mad about the whole situation, as it is today. They’re angry, and the title of the album expresses this in the best way possible. They feel bitter, and they put their bitterness in fifteen tracks that have a total running time of almost sixty-five minutes. Which means that you’ll get value for money here. Cee and Beigh are the creators of the fifteen anthems on this album, that gives some kind of a reflection of the seventies in a way. The days of JEFFERSON AIRPLANE, THE DOORS, ALICE COOPER, and other bands that played their music in the days of love, peace, flower power and happy music. Their music sometimes grabs back to these days, not intentionally maybe, but the music of IRON RAIN is not just music. There’s a whole vision behind it, and the whole flower power and ‘make love not war’ concept comes close to the music and the vision on this new album. On the album we hear three instrumental songs and three songs that we know already from their previous album, but now played by a new band. A band that consists of Peggy Ramirez on drums and Sean Ennis on guitar. When I take a look at the cover of this CD, I get this idea, of what they’re trying to say with it. “Imperialism (the White House), sinking away in a puddle of mud (literally, and figurative because of the war with Iraq, that didn’t do too much good to the American politics for many people worldwide), leaving behind just a very few survivors.” (there’s only one living person on the CD cover, while on the inside of the CD booklet we can see a lot of cemetaries and graveyards). Maybe I am wrong here, but when you put this deeper vision aside, you will have a great time listening to the great music on this new CD of IRON RAIN. Check out the band’s website at: http://www.ironrain.com, or send an email to the band at: info@ironrain.com [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

JAN JAMES-Limousine Blues (Provogue Records)
This is already the fifth studio album by female singer JAN JAMES. It’s a well-known factor, that people tend to compare her voice to JANIS JOPLIN all the time, so we won’t go into further details now. The songs on this album are another example of the good teamwork between Jan and her musical ‘partner-in-crime’ Graig Calvert. Not only was he responsible for the guitars, bass and (most of) the drums on this album, Calvert also mixed and produced “Limousine Blues”. With the help of Bob Long on keyboards and some additional drumming by Eric Batterman. An exception here is the inclusion of the cover song “Chain Of Fools” (ARETHA FRANKLIN). After listening to the album, it’s quite obvious, that they chose for a much more bluesy approach this time. Opener “Build Me A Man” is a typical blues tune, while the next song “I Got A Feelin’“ sounds more smoothly and is very easy on the ear. “Rise Above” is a very slow blues song, which has the well-known rough swings of JAN JAMES. The album even contains two acoustic blues songs; “Montgomery” and “Young Man” – both will sound good in any blues bar. “Fool Of Me” reminds me of NINA SIMONE in a positive way, because of its jazzy blues sound. The album has some rockers, too: “Back Down To Memphis” and title song “Limousine Blues’ are a few good examples here. Also a song like “Did What I Did” comes close to this category, which is completely build around the passionate guitarplaying of Graig Calvert. Finally, we hear the instrumental “Pack My Suitcase” - a good rocking blues song with (of course) a leading role for the guitar. This album certainly fulfills the standard of a good JAN JAMES album, but I wouldn’t mind if her next album would contain more rock songs. I know, it’s hard to catch the live ambience on a studio album, so how about a live CD next time?!?? [8 points] (Marcel van Santen)

LORDI-Get Heavy (Drakkar Records)
LORDI are a horror, shock rock band from Finland. Their show is complete madness, their costumes are scary, and their music is heavy. I love bands, that give more to their fans than just music. A good show is always nice to watch, and LORDI provides a good, solid horror show, in my opinion. Maybe it’s a bit more up to date as old legendary shock rockers like ALICE COOPER, RIPPER, HALLOWEEN, DEATH SS or perhaps even KISS. But it’s not as spectacular as GWAR for example. The music of the band is heavy but quite simple. It has got the same vibe as UDO or the newer version of ALICE COOPER for instance: ‘Throw your fists in the air and yell’ music. And it works, ‘cause the album went right into the top ten in their homecountry Finland. Thirteen songs, with a playing time of about thirty-five minutes, will show you the strength of LORDI. Catchy and short songs, with a freaky, horror atmosphere. LORDI consists of Kita ‘Jaws Of Death’ on drums and vocals, Kalma ‘Kalmageddon’ on bass and vocals, Amen ‘The Living Dead’ on guitar and vocals, metal maiden Enary ‘Mistress Of Pain’ on keyboards and vocals and Lordi ‘The Hulk Of Hell’ on vocals. Lordi is also the man behind “The Finnish KISS Army”, which explains a lot of the fascination for heavy music and shock rock effects. The CD also contains a nice video clip for their first single “Would You Love A Monsterman?”. The song “Devil Is A Loser” is a good candidate to become the second single of this remarkable Finnish rock band. Check them out at http://www.lordi.org. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MOTHERS FINEST-Meta-Funk’n-Physical (CNR Records)
MOTHERS FINEST has always been one of my all-time favorite bands. From the early days of Pinkpop and Lochempop on, until now, I’ve always cherished their music. Funky, with a touch of metal, or metal with a touch of funk, but always with good compositions, good musicians, and the great voice of Joyce ‘Baby Jane’ Kennedy. This new album is a bit more funky, but it still captures the well-known MOTHERS FINEST sound in fourteen songs and seventy minutes of wild funky rock music. The band made albums like “Another Mother Further”, “Iron Age” and “Mothers Finest Live” and created many hitsingles like “Baby Love”, “Mickey’s Monkey”, “Piece Of The Rock”, “Hard Rock Lover” and “Give You All The Love”. Today, MOTHERS FINEST is a kind of family, that creates music for the mind and soul, based on funk and mixed with soul and metal. Baby Jane’s voice is still very strong, and Glenn ‘Doc’ Murdock (Baby Jane’s husband) still adds the heavy touches to their music. The rest of the band consists of old companions, like John ‘Red Devil’ Hayes on guitar, Jerry ‘Wyzard’ Seay on bass, Gary ‘Moses Mo’ Moore on guitar, Kenny ‘Lovingood’ Denton on drums and Johnetta ‘JJ’ Johnson on backing vocals. They also called in the help of people like Vernon Reid (LIVING COLOUR; on guitar), Dion Murdock (Glens en Joyces son; on drums) and Spacey T (ex-SOUND BARRIER; on guitar) for some guest roles. This means that they created a good new album, and it was about time too. It’s a bleeding shame, that record companies just seem to refuse to sign a band, with a great reputation like MOTHERS ‘F*cking’ FINEST. The band also play their version of the JIMI HENDRIX song “If 6 Was 9” on this album, and we also hear a new version of “Just Like A Negro”, which was originally on their previous album “Black Radio Won’t Play This Record”. They renamed and rearranged the song now to “N-Groove”. “Inside Of Me” is the 2003 version of “Give You All The Love” and it sounds a lot more funky than the original version. I like the album a lot, and I think that many of the old MOTHERS FINEST fans will be satisfied with it as well. For more information about this long lasting funk metal band you can go to their website at: http://www.mothersfinest. com or http://www.mothersfinest.net. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MY FAMILIAR-Here And Now (Familiar Music)
I think I should tell you about MY FAMILIAR. It's an all-female band. They use the usual rock band instruments. The music they make is well done. There is blues, joy and alternative music in it. All of MY FAMILIAR’s songs are slow. They are not happy little themes. The songs are about abuse, hurt, sickness and death. If you tend to be depressive, then stop here. Their songs are written from a female point of view. “Emotion” is deeply felt. Kelly Page portrays this with her powerful vocals. She wrote several of the songs on this CD. For example there's “Wear Your Freedom”. One woman congratulates another on the big changes made in her life. She's left an abusive relationship. Her friend says she should celibrate. “What Do You Know” starts off with a nice guitar part. That's Meredith Anderson playing. The words are about one woman supporting another. It’s from the point of view of the one giving the support. It's emotional for her, too. Kate Aragon sets the tone for a lot of their songs on bass. “Riding” has some good drumming by Claudia Page. It’s about taking off on a motorcycle. This provides temporary relief from trouble. If you like bluesy songs or are a feminist psycologist, give this a listen. Contact: Familiar Music, P.O. Box 16117, Oakland, CA 94610, USA. Email: familiar@earthlink.net. Internet: myfamiliar.8m.com. [7 points] (Jack Little)

MYSTERY BLUE-Metal Slaves (Road Show Productions)
This French band made a great impression on me, with their previous album. The menacing intro “Human E.T. (Natures Despair)” predicts a powerful start, that we get with a song called “Slave To Blood”. MYSTERY BLUE consists of Frenzy Philippon on guitars and backing vocals, Dany Ohlmann on bass and backing vocals, Vince Koehler on drums and backing vocals and the mighty siren of Nathalie Geyer, who also plays the keyboards and didgeridoo. And it’s the power of the voice of this lovely lady, that adds an extra dimension to the JUDAS PRIEST like structures of the songs. Her voice gained a lot of power after their previous album, and I dare to put her name next to people like Darby Mills (HEADPINS), LEE AARON and DORO (WARLOCK era), Ann Boleyn (HELLION) and Betsy Weiss (BITCH). In forty-five minutes, we hear eleven traditional heavy metal tracks, that make you long back to the eighties. In “Metal Dream”, we hear Nathalie rattling around with her heavy chains. The choirs will remind you of ACCEPT in a way. “Rollercoaster Ride” is the fastest track, and I can imagine that it was a wild ride indeed, next to “Silent Whisper (Bloody Bastard)”. “Desolation” is the ballad. It’s slow yet powerful, and it has a great guitar solo, too. The band has matured a lot, and this CD proves it. It would be great to see the band on stage once, because they seem to have a great, powerful show. Well, who knows what wil happen in the near future? For now, their album will spin around in my stereo for some time, that’s for sure. On http://www.mysteryblue.com you can find all the information you need about this great French heavy metal band. I can only give this the full score, because people always get what they deserve! [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

PAPER DOLL-Sink Or Swim (Rosewater Records)
PAPER DOLL have a pleasant mixture of guitars and drums. They establish an attractive rock beat. With one exception: the music is not too heavy. Softer than THE DONNAS or HOLE. SLEATER-KINNEY might be a reference point. The lyrics are well thought out. The band have played at various Ladyfests in the United States. PAPER DOLL are a welcome change from mushy folk singers and angry punks, who turn up at such shows. Several songs are about self confident women in a world of messed up men. “This Is It” is a nice song. She knows who she is. She is tired of his complaining. She says: "Your Situation Is Yours". We hear Talia Miller on bass more on “The Words They Say”. Emilie Paul keeps things steady on drums. On this song she's secure about who she is. He's not. She's not going to try to please him any more. Sometimes it comes to that. Kaytee O'Neil sings this with a good mixture of sympathy and conviction. Stephen Spector strikes a balance on lead guitar. Not too strong that it over- powers all of this, yet enough to hold your attention. Stop banging your heads for a few minutes and listen to this. I think you will be impressed. Contact: Rosewater Records, P.O. Box 30, Riverdale, MD 20738, USA. Email: info@rosewaterrecords.com. Website: http://www.rosewaterrecords.com. [8 points] (Jack Little)

PLANET OF WOMEN-Planet Of Women (independent)
Sometimes you see a picture, that catches your attention immediately. Or you hear a song on one of the many CD samplers, you get for free with some of the rock magazines. By PLANET OF WOMEN, it was both things that caught my attention right away. And the best way to get convinced even more is to order the CD and listen if your first impressions were right, and then write a review about it. These three ladies overruled my first impression really easy, with their debut album. The three metal maidens look gorgeous, and that’s what turned my first impression to a fact. But just listen to the music of these three hot rocking ladies. They made thirteen great rock songs on this album, with a total time of about fifty minutes, and every song is originally own penned material! Vocalist Jade, sounds like JANIS JOPLIN most of the time. Just listen to her wild singing in opener “Waking Up The Neighbourhood”. But also in the balladesque “Drift Away”, you can hear the spirit of Janis wander around. Jade’s father played in a band called THE RIOT SQUAD, in which he played together with Mitch Mitchell (JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE) and Dave Jones (who we all know as DAVID BOWIE!). Harley and Nina are the other two band members of this all-female band, that rocks like THE STONES, AEROSMITH, IKE AND TINA TURNER, MAGGIE BELL or JANIS JOPLIN, and has the sound of THE SURPREMES in it as well. On the inside of the CD, the three ladies are dressed up in t-shirts with prints of JIMI HENDRIX, THE RAMONES and THE ROLLING STONES on them. Another prove, that these ladies are made to R-O-C-K, which they show here on this solid debut album. These three ladies are the evidence that good looks are only fifty percent of a good artist. I know a lot of good looking ladies, who can’t hit one note right, but sell millions of albums. PLANET OF WOMEN doesn’t only have the looks, they also create some great rock music. Check it out!!! Website: http://www.planetofwomen.fsnet.co.uk. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ANA POPOVIC-Comfort To The Soul (Ruf Records)
Ladies and gents, it’s blues time again! When you still remember the album “Hush” of this bluesy guitar lady, and you digged it, then it’s about time to hurry to your CD shop again to buy this new (and second) album. The two openers “Don’t Bear Down On Me (I’m Here To Steal The Show)” and “Love Me Again” are a bit more blues oriented than the average sound on “Hush”. In title track “Comfort To The Soul”, we hear a more soulful side of Ana, but on “Change On Mind” it’s time for the blues again. ROBERT CRAY meets STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN here. The first one for the soulful drive, and Stevie for the crying guitar sound. “Sitting On Top Of The World” is a classic one, made famous by JACK BRUCE and CREAM of course. And in “Night By Night”, we hear Ana’s version of a STEELY DAN song, and a damn good one, too. “Navaja Moon” is an instrumental song, the only one on the album. “Need All The Help I Can Get” is another cover, by DELBERT McCLINTON this time. “Fool Proof” is another great blues song, that easily meets the high standards of Miss Popovic. In the impressive list of musicians that played on this album, I also found the name of Reese Wynans, the former keyboard player of STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN AND DOUBLE TROUBLE. If he decides to play on your album, you must be well-talented, I can say that much. After all, he played with the very best guitarplayers in this style only. On http://www.anapopovic.com you can read all the latest news about the beautiful, blonde guitarplayer from former Yugoslavia. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SCHANDMAUL-Hexenkessel - Live (Fame-Recordings)
What’s that?!? SCHANDMAUL? I’ve never heard of them before. This live album “Hexenkessel” was recorded on January 4th, 2003 in Munich, Germany. The music of SCHANDMAUL is a mix of the more recent work of SKYCLAD and IN EXTREMO. Folk metal, with German lyrics, to make it all sound even more authentic. They also filmed the whole show, and it will be released on DVD as well. Sometimes the music sounds heavy, but the flute, accordion, bagpipes and violins are up front in the mix. The folk part definitely reigns above the metal part here. On “Willst Du’s Extrem?”, we hear Micha Rhein, the singer of IN EXTREMO, in a guest role on vocals. They turned the song, which is officially a ballad, into a rock song. A nice surprise for all the fans that night. In the medley “Hexentanz/Henker/Gebt8”, we hear a short piece of the Russian folk song “Kalinka”, which fits really well in this song. SCHANDMAUL consists of Thomas Lindner on vocals, acoustic guitar and accordion, Martin ‘Ducky’ Duckstein on guitars and vocals, Matthias ‘Hiasl’ Richter on bass guitar, Stefan Brunner on drums and vocals, and the two metal maidens in the band; Birgit Muggenthaler on flute, bagpipes, shawm and vocals, and Anna Kränzlein on vocals, violin and mellotrone. Be open-minded and enjoy the fourteen songs of folk rock on this seventy plus minutes live album. For more information about SCHANDMAUL you can go to their website at: http://www.schandmaul.de. [6 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SEVEN ANGELS-The Second Floor (Megahard Records)
SEVEN ANGELS are a white metal band from Brazil, and their new album is called “The Second Floor”. It contains ten new tracks with a playing time of almost a full hour of great power metal. The intro is called ”Death Overture” and after this, the band explodes into the title track of the album “The Second Floor”. There are plenty of bands to compare this great Brazilian band with, but there are only a few that come quite close to the sound of them. I’m thinking about ANGRA, NIGHTWISH, WHITE SKULL and DARK MOOR here. The last three because of the female vocals (no soprano vocals, but a normal singing voice, sometimes with a melo dramatic sound!), the other one because they come from the same country as SEVEN ANGELS. SEVEN ANGELS consists of Ricardo Bagatelli on bass, Rafael Friesen on keyboards, Karím Serri on guitars, Eliezer Leite on drums and Debora Serri On vocals. They called in the help of Danilo Loyola on violins, Claudio Viana on flutes and Marcelo Zazzera on vocals as guest musicians on this strong album. The fact, that the band is called a ‘white metal’ band, doesn’t make them less powerful. Sometimes we even hear some PRIEST like riffs in between, but also the musical fights between the keyboards and the guitar, give the music more power and excitement. The website of the band can be found at: http://www.sevenangels.com.br. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE SIRENS-Bad Girls (independent)
THE SIRENS are an all-female band from Washington DC. They exist for about two years now, and they sound like JOAN JETT (“Get Outta My Face”) mixed with a touch of early BLONDIE, THE RUNAWAYS and THE RAMONES. Punk rock, with a melodic background. They come to party, and leave the crowd behind like a wrong out swab. Then they leave the club, searching for more victims. That’s what ‘Bad Girls’ do, when they play in a band. In “Sixteen” we strongly hear the influences of THE RUNAWAYS. Their opening sentence is the first sentence of “Cherry Bomb”, then they change the lyrics but the influence of the band is still around. THE SIRENS are Melissa Duncan on vocals, Cindy Chambers on guitar, Kristin Gray on bass and Tammy Hooper on drums, and all ten songs on this thirty minute debut album are self-written. A debut CD to be proud of and I think that their second album may become a real blast. So watch out for THE SIRENS ladies and gentlemen, you have been warned here! www.thesirensband.com. gives you all the information you need to know about the band. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

STAR ONE-Live On Earth (Inside Out)
Galaxy calling earth! Come in, earth - over! Here’s some breaking news: Arjen Lucassen gives his whole heart and soul in this complete overview of the few shows he did, to support the release of his STAR ONE album. Together with a handful of musicians, he climbed upon stage again after many years, and played some superb live shows. He recorded them, and the cameras were shooting the events, the material was mixed and put together and now they are released as a double live CD plus DVD box set. (The CDs are also sold without the DVD, by the way). It has been far too long since Arjen played live, but finally he did it again and he kicked some serious ass, as you can hear on this great live registration. The band, that is called THE INTERGALACTICAL SPACE CRUSADERS, consists of vocalists Sir Russell Allen, Damian Wilson, Floor Jansen (AFTER FOREVER), Robert Soeterbroek and Irene Jansen (Floor’s sister), drummer Ed Warby, rock and roll animal Peter Vink on bass, Joost van der Broek on keyboards and of course Arjen Anthony Lucassen on guitars. As guests we can hear Ewa Albering on flute and Edward Reekers on vocals. The music of STAR ONE could be compared to the sound of bands like RAINBOW, VENGEANCE (there’s a part of “Arabia” in “Into The Black Hole”!), old DAVID BOWIE, IAN PARRY, etc.etc. The two CD set contains almost two hours and eighteen songs of STAR ONE ‘magic’. Although the band hadn’t played together, before they went on stage to do these shows, they managed to create a great atmosphere and the few gigs they did were like magic. The crowd loved every single second of it, and this is one of these magic moments that seldom takes place and real music lovers want to cherish and want to keep in their mind forever. I think that’s the main reason, why they decided to release this great package. Fans will know the music of STAR ONE by now, so I won’t get into details about that right now. All you have to know about this release is that it sounds cool, and it looks great on your TV screen. So after you’ve read these lines, you’d better start your ‘space mobile’ and go ‘space trucking’ directly to your intergalactical CD shop, and buy this DVD/2 CD set immediately, ‘cause the world has to know that this magic event took place. The DVD review of this release can be read on page 44 in our DVD review section. Over and out, Roger! http://www.ayreon.com. [10 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SUSAN AND THE SURFTONES-Wrap-Around (Om Om)
SUSAN AND THE SURFTONES have come out with a full length CD. There are fourteen songs on it. All featuring Susan L. Yasinski on guitar. That's reason enough to listen to them. All have the unmistakable sound of surf music. They are completely instrumental. Nine of them are Susan's original compositions, five are covers. The covers range from HENRY MANCINI to THE SEX PISTOLS. The HENRY MANCINI tune is the theme from “Peter Gunn”. I've never heard it with this much guitar. The organ part makes up for several instruments. “More” is the theme from a movie. I remember it with a full orchestra. Susan plays it a little faster and with more twang in her guitar. This is the rock version. I don't miss the orchestra. “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” is like the original with drum fills and all. This one has more flow to it. It's not as harsh as the better known version. On the originals Susan does what she wants to with a melody. The songs end before they become boring. Susan can rely on herself for dexterous note playing. Duets with different instruments turn up from time to time. “Moon Woman 42” is an effort by the whole band. Susan Yasinski has chosen a style of music that not everyone appreciates. She does it very well. Contact: SUSAN AND THE SURFTONES, 12390 N W Barnes Rd #294, Portland, OR, USA. Email: surftones_2000@yahoo.com. Website: http://www.susanandthesurftones.com [10 points] (Jack Little)

TIZZY-Down With The Furies (Vital Cog Records)
TIZZY consists of Jen Stavely on bass and vocals (ex-FLOWER THIEF), Teri Morris on drums and vocals (ex-CRYSTALIZED MOVEMENTS) and Joel Boultinghouse on guitar and accordion (ex-PUDDYWAD). They are from Massachusetts, USA. TIZZY called in the help of Peyton Pinkerton on keyboards for this album. An album, that contains eleven brand new songs, with a total playing time of about forty-five minutes. The music of TIZZY can be described as pop rock, with touches of garage rock and punk. Clear vocals, a solo here and there and lyrics about every days business stuff. “Pushing Positive” for example is a bit more pop rather than rock. But in “Forgiveness Is A Curse”, we hear back the garage rock style of TIZZY. It’s a little more alternative, and it rocks a bit more. The lyrics also grab back to the youth of the band. They tell you about “The Day DURAN DURAN Finally Came To Town”, an event they probably can relive again soon, now the band has officially reformed. Without really knowing it, their lyrics have become actual topics again. And that’s just part of the retro scene, I guess. TIZZY has grown a lot since their latest album “Scary In Adulthood”, which was released in 1999. You can check out the bands website by going to: http://www.tizzyrocks.com [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

VICE SQUAD-Rich And Famous (EMI Records)
In case you don’t believe it, yes this is the new album of VICE SQUAD. The band is back on the road again, and their new album sounds like they’ve never been away. They’ve signed a record deal with EMI, so everybody will be able to enjoy their music now, while their other albums were only released on small obscure labels. This time it’s for real for this legendary punkrock band. They show a bit more variation in their style. There are songs that could well be on any VICE SQUAD album, like “Antisocial Insecurity”. The song title alone makes it perfectly okay to be on a VICE SQUAD album. But there are also a few other songs on the album with more funny lyrics like “Jimmy Jaguar”, that sound a bit odd comparing to the average VICE SQUAD songs. They also mix some ska music to the punk rock sound, that we used to know from this band. On the one hour sound attack, you will hear nineteen songs. Four of them are bonus tracks, written for their album “Get A Life”. VICE SQUAD consists of Michael Giaquinto on bass, backing vocals and trumpet, Tony Piper on drums and backing vocals, Paul Rooney on lead guitar and backing vocals, and of course the ultimate punk vixen Beki ‘Bondage’ (whose real name is Rebecca Bond) on vocals and rhythm guitar. My personal fave on the new album is the MOTÖRHEAD like “Dead Doll”. A solid new punk rock album, which is a real must for the fans of the band. Internet: http://www.vicesquad.org.uk. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE VOODOO DOLLIES-10 S*T*D’S (independent)
OUCH!! I believe I just sat on a metal pin, that these three punk ladies used in their promo kit! No offense however, ‘cause you did a great job here, ladies! What about the music of these girls, who like to use a doll as their pin-cuchion? Well, they don’t only look great, they also make great music. Raw, energetic, unpolished, catchy, sleazy, sexy, extravagant, loud punk music fills my room, when “Porno Stars” takes off. There’s a bit of a false start at “Groupie Slime”, but hey, who gives a f*ck? The band kicks serious ass, and that’s what counts here. They sound rawer than THE DONNAS, but they have one thing in common with this other popular all-female band. They also like to use the same ‘family’ name. In this case, they use Dollie as their last name, while THE DONNAS use their names first, like Donna A, Donna C. etc. – got it?!? We have Jai Dollie on vocals and guitar, Jena Dollie on bass and backing vocals, Carina Dollie on drums and Lynn Hula Dollie on hula hoops. On the album, they pay tribute to the late RAMONES singer Joey Ramone, in a song with the same name. Way to go ladies!! It’s no shame to show your fans, who influenced you to make great punk rock music like this!! The title “10 S*T*D’s” stands for 10 Shitty Titty Ditties, by the way. A great name for an album that contains twelve raw, sleazy punk songs, that has a total playing time of about thirty-five minutes. I hope, that these ladies liked my review, ‘cause they look lovely, but these girls are really bad. How bad? I hope to explore that in the near future, when I will interview them for this magazine. I’d better be nice about them, because I am too scared that they want to put pins in my body as well. Better check out their website too, before they’ll do the same thing to you. Internet: http://www.thevoodoodollies.com [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

WARFACE-Warface (independent)
Attention death metal fanciers! Have I got a band for you. They’re called WARFACE. For furious riffing and brutal drumming like this, you'll have to put on your warface to look this the eye. The band consists of Dave Smith, his bass playing adds a lot of strength. His vocals are low. I could understand some of the words. Including lyrics with the CD was a good idea. Some weak minded people will be frightened of them. They’re the kind of fantasy, that excites some metal fans. Laura Christine plays all the six string parts. All the deep chords. All the notes, very fast at times. Laura can play gracefully or rough as the situation demands. She wrote some elaborate parts for herself. Better yet she plays them so well. Scott Ellis provides the thunderous drumming. He plays surprisingly fast for a long time on “The Haunted”. The groups sound might be compared to CANNIBAL CORPSE or SUFFOCATION. Unfortunatly, there are only four songs on this CD. The first is “Grovel”. There are chugging guitars, drum bombast and long instrumental passages. There's a nice bit of guitar at the end. “The Last Judgement” is different than I thought. Much more like fantasy fiction when explained by WARFACE. This is what death metal can be. Contact: WARFACE, P.O. Box 152, San Marcos, CA 92079, USA. Email: metal@adnc.com. Internet: http://www.warfacemetal.com [10 points] (Jack Little)

XANDRIA-Kill The Sun (Drakkar Records/Focusion)
Let me start by saying, I really like this album, as I do any number of gothic rock/metal albums on the charts today. Before I really start. There is nothing different here, that we have not already heard before. A gothic rock/metal band with a beautiful voiced female singer at the helm. And also from Germany. That country seems to have the market cornered these days in the gothic genre. Along with Finland, the two countries have used up all of the energy that one genre of music can supply. This is the one genre, where the ladies seem to shine the brightest. So as I've stated, I really like this band and album. I knew them, when they were just putting out MP3's at MP3.com. At that time, they sounded rather rough. But with the release of their debut album "Kill The Sun", they seem to have perfected their sound rather well. And with their emotional frontwoman Lisa, there’s no telling how far they will go in the future. For there are a lot of us out there, including me, who go nuts for this type of sound. Lisa has a very smooth emotion in her delivery. I can liken her to a lot of singers in the genre of gothic rock. Most notably would be Kemi Vita of THE DREAMSIDE or Nell from THE CREST to name a couple, so you can see the direction I'm going in here. The music she sings to is melodic all the time. Every track has a nice chorus and some of the songs are even very bombastic and heavy in places, reminding of some progressive moments. Lisa is the only vocalist in the band, so I get the impression that she’s the leader of the band. There is really no historic explanation in the liner notes or at the website, which is in German, mostly. A lot of what I read about her and the band seems to be inconcise. Along with Lisa, there are first names only: Marco-guitars and keys, Phillip-guitar, Roland-bass and Gerit-drums. There’s not much to write about the band themselves. The album begins with the title song, "Kill The Sun", which may be a reference to a darkness theme throughout the album. It is a very nice rocky ballad to open up with as I stated before, a beautiful chorus a bit on the poppy side. Guitars and keys play a prominent role. There are even some spacey moments half the way through. "Mermaids" - the second track has to be one of my favorite songs. Starting out with a mellow piano intro. Lisa's voice in this song is very sensuous and spacey adding a nice affect. Either one of these first two tracks could be on a top ten music chart for being melodic and quite catchy. "Ginger" starts out with the bombastic I spoke of, but then turns into be a very beautiful gothic rock ballad. This is where Lisa's melodic mellowness comes into play. She is very good at creating an atmosphere with her voice. "She's Nirvana" starts off with a rocking beat and continues with the same bombastic chorusing as the previous tracks. There is another singer in here, but I cannot put my finger on male or female. It also has some weird guitar riffs and again, nice chorusing. And that is the theme for the whole album. The band seem to have a knack for good melodic chorusing. Whether it be slow songs, such as "Forever Yours" or "So You Disappear", or rockers such as "Casablanca" there is no shortage of melody and memorable chorusing. The songs are all in the three to five minute range, so this tells me they were made mostly for commercial play and possibly to gain a fan base right away. All in all, "Kill The Sun" is a fine debut effort for XANDRIA and I'm sure with a beautiful voiced and talented singer in front, like Lisa, we will be hearing more from them in the future. If you’re into any number of melodic gothic rock bands such as THE CREST or maybe even BLOODFLOWERZ, then you won't go wrong with XANDRIA. There’s not much more to say about them, except that there is nothing breaking any ground here, just some very nice melodic gothic rock. Internet: http://www.xandria.de/ [7 points] (Dennis Arancio)

BAD CANDY (CD single)-That’s What Girls Do (Dino Music)
BAD CANDY keeps releasing singles, but I think that a lot of their fans are eagerly waiting to hear the full album of this all-female band. “That’s What Girls Do” is the new single however, and you can hear the song in two versions. The normal version and the ‘big apple mix’. The ladies are good in writing catchy songs, with a nice rocking sound. I think, that the mixed version is a bit softer than the original, but to be honest with you I can’t really tell the difference between both versions. I never saw the deeper meaning of all kinds of different mixes of one song. Anyway, the new single is ready to hit the charts again, although I am not sure if that will happen, unfortunately enough. The single is copy controlled, by the way. For more info, you can go to: http://www.badcandy.com [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DIABLA (CD single)-Small Talk / I’m The Snake (independent)
DIABLA are from Norway, and on this single we can hear two sleazy punk rock songs with a total length of seven and a half minute. “Small Talk” is fast, heavy and contains some great guitarwork. A great song to raise a party. “I’m The Snake” however is a lot darker, slower and it shows the diversity in styles that we can expect by this young Norwegian rock band. The song also has a nice guitar solo, which lifts it up to above average, in my opinion. DIABLA are: drummer Tarald Lie (BON PINE, HENNEPIN BRIDGE), singer and metal maiden Beathe Sanden (THIEVES & SPIES), bass player Morten Granheim (AMP66, SWEET MOTHER OF GOD) and guitar player Stig Rolfsen. You can check out the bands website by going to: http://www.diabla.no. Thanks again to Rainer Krukenberg for making this review possible! [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

EVANESCENCE (CD single)-Going Under (Wind Up/Sony Music)
EVANESCENCE has really been going strong in the past year. The single “Bring Me To Life” was a major chart breaker and the album “Fallen” was a big hit as well. Now after the illness of guitarist Ben Moody, EVANESCENCE is touring again and with “Going Under” they've released their second single. “Going Under” is a very great song with really diverse singing from Amy Lee, a very talented lady indeed. The song starts of somewhat industrial, but soon changes in a great melodic gothic metal song with very strong rhythm changes and catchy chorus. The acoustic live version of “Going Under” sounds great. It is real different from the original, yet it stays true to its original sound. Only acoustic guitar and the great voice of Amy Lee, who sounds convincing and very clear. She has a warm voice with a reasonable range and never sounds dull whatsoever. Third song on this single is the NIRVANA cover “Heart Shaped Box”, also in an acoustic version. This is a very original approach of this song. Being transformed into a ballad, maybe not every fan will love this. The single closes with a video version of “Going Under”. Personally, I love EVANESCENCE's own songs better but this is an absolute daring cover and that deserves credit if you like it or not. All in all, this is a great single with hit potential. I'm happy to see that metal music in general are being played more often on the radio, ‘cause there are some fantastic bands like EVANESCENCE and unnameable more that deserve to be in the charts. After all, there's more to life than just CHRISTINA AGUILERA and BRITNEY SPEARS, you know. [8 points] (Richard van Oudheusden)

THE GATHERING (CD single)-Monsters (Psychonaut Records)
“Monsters” already caught my attention, when I was listening to the “Souvenirs” album of THE GATHERING. I heard the guitars back up front again, and to me it sounded just like in the good old days. This song is now released as the new single. Next to the original album version, you can hear the ‘gallion mix’, the ‘gauzy mix’, the ‘dance mix’ and the ‘promo demo mix’ of the same song. If you don’t care for remixes, just like me, this single is still well worth checking out. Just put it in you computer, and you will enjoy almost thirty minutes of cool live footage and interviews, from German TV shows in which they appeared. In the live video of “You Learn About It”, you can see Kristin Fjellseth of PALE FORREST as background singer, which is nice to mention here, I think. Anneke’s voice is still one of the greatest voices around in the whole Dutch scene, and nobody will be able to change that. In the meantime, Hugo Prinsen Geerligs the bass player of THE GATHERING, has left the band, and he has been replaced by a female bass player, called Marjolein Kooijman. Marjolein comes from the Rock Academy in Tilburg. THE GATHERING will tour in Europa at the end of January 2004, and they will also release a new ‘semi-live’ album, called “Sleeping Buildings” early 2004. All the other info you need, could be obtained from the bands website at: http://www.gathering.nl. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE NOMADS (CD single)-War (independent)
THE NOMADS are from Poland, and this is their three track single. In “War” they already impress us with a brutal metal sound, a growling female singer and a compact but heavy song. The band has already released a few demos and their first full length album “No Hush Till Thrash” will be out soon. In “Mortal Gift”, we hear a KREATOR, VENOM like sound. It’s unbelievable how a female singer can sound so f*cking low. Very well done, Sylwia! Her full name is Sylwia ‘Alcoholady’ Papierska, and I think she must have been drinking four bottles of whisky each day to sound like this. The rest of the band consists of Jacek Progzeba on guitar, Jedrzej on bass guitar and Damian ‘Oskar’ Roskosz on drums. The band has already played with Grzegorz Kupczyk of CETI and TURBO (he’s a legend in his homecountry), and I think it will help the band to have a good friend like that. He will lead them to bigger places, hopefully. The three track CD closes with a ultra loud version of THE BEATLES classic “Yesterday”. Sylwia opens the song, like it should sound originally, but then they turn up the speed and leave the crowd astonished. Way to go, NOMADS! More information about this Polish band can be taken from their website at: http://www.thenomads.metal.pl. Thanks to Rainer Krukenberg for making this review possible! [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SEDUCE (CD single)-Female Wild Style (independent)
SEDUCE are from Berlin, and they are an all-female rock band. They like to call their music ‘female wild style’, which is okay with me. The music is pretty wild, played by an all-female line up consisting of Alex on vocals and guitar, Susi on guitar and vocals, Bille on bass and vocals and Angie on drums. The two songs on this EP have a total length of about eight minutes, and I’d like to compare this band with KREZIP. Harmony vocals, a pro-pelling rhythm, good clear female vocals and two damn good songs that could hit the charts quite easily with the right promotion. Touches of AVRIL LAVIGNE or PINK can also be heard here. The songs have a certain catchyness, you just can’t deny. The band already exists for about seven years now, and you can tell that the girls are very serious in what they’re doing. They’ve created two nice songs, and it wouldn’t be a shame, if they could score a hitsingle with one of them. I’d go for opener “Out Of Sight”, although I wouldn’t be surprised if it would be “Romeo & Juliet”, ‘cause either one of them has got the potential to become a hitsingle. At least they deserve radio airplay with their good ‘female wild style’ music! So it’s ‘thumbs up’ for SEDUCE here! Contact the band at: seduce-band@web.de. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SUPREMACY (CD single)-Angel (independent)
SUPREMACY has slowly developed themselves into a band, that cannot be missed in the Australian heavy metal scene. The ladies behind the band are Jadi Anne on vocals and Teddi Dee on lead guitar, keyboards and backing vocals. We received their latest four track single, on which we can hear seven female band members, can you beat that?? Seven witches making music in a band, a dream come true for our magazine. The other vixens in the band are Sonya on rhythm guitar and backing vocals, Bec on bass guitar and backing vocals, Bron on drums, Julie on violin and Emily on cello. “Angel” is by far, the best song I’ve ever heard by this band. You can hear touches of IRON MAIDEN and YNGWIE J MALMSTEEN in the overall sound, but the song is still one hundred percent SUPREMACY, if you know what I mean. It’s the great female vocals, that add the extra dimension to it all. Because of the input of the cello and the violin, they also give their songs a little more bombastic sound. This fits in really well, and makes the sound completer. On “Inner Truth”, they called in the help of Tobias Sammett of EDGUY and AVANTASIA, for some guest vocals. This doesn’t turn the song into an EDGUY cover or something like that. On the contrary, it sounds in fact a lot darker than the average EDGUY material. The duet with Jadi-Anne sound really perfect. How come that these talented ladies don’t get the recognition worldwide? This is top class material, people! SUPREMACY launched this CD at a show in Australia, that they did with DORO, which must have been one helluva party. Okay, over to the next song then, which is called “Salted Wounds”. It’s a ballad, in which you sometimes hear the pain, that Jadi Anne must have suffered. The great guitar solo reminded me of Ritchie Blackmore somehow, maybe you can best compare this to BLACKMORE'S NIGHT. Last but not least, there’s an instrumental version of “Angel” at the end of this four track single. But it’s not over yet, because when you put this CD in your PC, you can also see the video clips of “Angel” and “Blessed Be”. The songs have become a bit more compact and the guitarwork is much more in duty of the songs nowadays, which makes it easier for the average metal head to listen to and comprehend them. The website of the band can be reached by going to: http://www.supremacy.com.au. Check it out, ‘cause this is really great stuff. My compliments, ladies!! [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

[Updated: Jan. 20, 2004]

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