CD REVIEWS


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


Winter 2013 - Spring 2014:

AGHARTI-Change (Wormholedeath)
AGHARTI hails from Croatia and until now I haven’t reviewed many bands from this beautiful country. This surely has to change, I think and what a coincidence, that this album is called “Change”. The thirteen songs are worthy of almost forty-five minutes of rock and metal pleasure. When looking at the CD cover, on which we can see some tattooed fingers with the word ‘CHANGE’, I would have expected a much rawer sound by these Croatian rockers, but if you like your metal a bit more melodic, then this one is definitely for you. The CD opens with “The Voice Of Freedom” which contains some music and a short spoken word intro, leading us to the first longer track “The Sky Is Falling”. Names such as WITHIN TEMPTATION, AFTER FOREVER and NIGHTWISH will come to mind, which is mainly because of the interaction between the male and female vocals and their melodic sound. “Lost” is a bit faster and once again the interaction between the male and female vocals push you into the direction of a band like NIGHTWISH. The male vocals are very much in front of the mix, but I must admit that I like the female vocals better. The steady beat sounds heavy and in general the music is nice to listen to. “Away From Here” is an easy on the ears and very fast track, that will certainly please the many rockers out there. A name like ROXETTE may come to mind, although ROXETTE was never that heavy, I think. In “Fallen”, you’ll hear a more brutal version of the male vocals, which makes it even more interesting for rockers to check out. “End Your Domination” sounds hard and heavy, but still bears that commercial touch that makes it easy to comprehend and maybe even suitable to sing along to pretty easily. “The Voice Of Compassion” is a spoken word interlude on music, that shapes up to some kind of introduction on the second part of the CD, that takes off with “Mendacity”. In the spoken word part the band sounds a bit mysterious and it’s a shame that we don’t find anything back of these mysterious twists in the rest of the songs. “Mendacity” contains some nice guitar riffs and the vocals of Tina sound great. She has a nice and very warm voice, which made me melt from the start. “Rise Again” opens with a danceable steady beat and is really another ‘easy on the ears’ song. Then it’s time for a more ballad type of approach in “Words Unspoken”, which has a very melancholic basis. In between, I see this as a fine moment to introduce AGHARTI to you. We have Tina Bukiæ on vocals, Alen Mršiæ on guitar, Filip Pohaniæ on guitar, Hrvoje Grubaè on bass, Marko Duspara on drums and second metal maiden Ivana Mrduljaš on keyboards. Then we have arrived at the heavy starting “To A Friend”, on which you can move your head up and down, if you feel like it. It has got a nice groove and sounds a bit like IRON MAIDEN at times. While the next song “Awaken” sounds like the earlier mentioned melodic metal bands again. The CD closes with another spoken word part on music, called “The Voice of Change”, which is being used as an outro this time. All in all, we are dealing with a very talented band here, that will please many fans of this particular genre. Visit http://www.agharti.eu for more information. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ALDIOUS-White Crow (Spinning Inc.)
ALDIOUS is an all-female metal outfit from the land of the rising sun, Japan. This is their new five tracker, called “White Crow”. I’ve always had the hots for Japanese metal bands in the eighties and that’s why I try to follow the metal scene of today there as well. The five tracks are worthy of about twenty-two minutes of some great power metal. Title track “White Crow” is the fast opener on this CD release. The CD already came out at the end of 2011, but sadly enough the channels towards Europe don’t go that fast. However, when you listen to the first song here, you wish you would have heard this stuff much earlier. The fast paced track contains a lot of power and sounds rawer than the average power metal explosions of bands like HELLOWEEN, HAMMERFALL or GAMMA RAY. The guitars sound flashing and my head starts to move up and down right from the start. The CD was co-produced by SABER TIGER guitar player Akihito Kinoshita, which may explain this all a little. A great opener from my point of view. “Suicide” opens with a killer riff, which will make you beg for more. The biting riffs make this a real pleasure to listen to. And the vocals of Re:NO are a treat to your ears as well. “Deep” is on next and you’ll hear the so-called Re:NO version. I don’t really know the difference, because I’ve never heard the original one, but this sounds like a nice song with some great double leads. If you don’t like the voice of new singer Re:NO, who just stepped into the band by mid-2012, then the last part of this CD might be something for you, because the band cranks out instrumental versions of “White Crow” and “Suicide”. Nice pastime for an evening of karaoke with your friends, when you know the lyrics. The songs are not totally instrumental, but the voice of Re:NO is pushed back a lot and you can hardly hear it anymore. Much too soon and much too short, the CD is over and done. But I’m very satisfied to know, that ALDIOUS is still alive and kicking. Besides the aforementioned Re:NO on vocals, the band consists of Yoshi on guitar, Aruto on drums, Sawa on bass and Toki on guitar. In this special package there is also a short DVD with the video clip for “White Crow”. Here you can see the band at full speed, all dressed up in their sexiest lolita like outfits. Next to SHOW YA, ALDIOUS is definitely one of the hottest all-female heavy power metal bands from Japan. A full-length album will see the light of day this year, so you can read all about it in 2015 or so. Oh, it’s called “District Zero”, by the way. I’ll give this one another spin, until the release of their full-length. Website: http://aldious.jp/ [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

AMBERIAN DAWN-Re-Evolution (Encore Music)
Capri is the new vocalist of Finnish heavy metallers AMBERIAN DAWN. To introduce her to the fans, the band has re-recorded eleven tracks with this new singer on vocals. “Valkyries” opens this compilation album in a steady way and Capri really knows to impress me with her powerful voice. There is a short spoken word intro to “Incubus” and after that, the power metal train rolls on at full steam. Capri is also supported by a male voice. The next song “Kokko – Eagle Of Fire” is fast and shows that we’re dealing with a very talented band here, which we already knew from the days with previous singer Heidi Parviainen. For this song, the band has actually released a video clip, so I’d suggest to check this one out at You Tube. “Lily Of The Moon” sounds quite exciting and is a fast power metal song. Capri has really found her place in this band, not only in the melodic tracks, but also in the fast and speedy songs. Her voice is a nice addition to the band’s sound and absolute prove is given in “Come Now Follow”. While “Crimson Flower” reminds me of the many musicals of today, although halfway the song the astonishing keyboard part grabs my attention fully again, thank god for that! “Circus Black” is another bombastic masterpiece, in which the guitar takes the lead. The galloping beat after the solo sounds overwhelming and very impressive. “Lost Soul” is on next and once again, the band shows that their melodic metal music is highly enjoyable. There might not be any new songs on this album, but their new singer is giving them an extra twist, which is a very positive thing in general. “Cold Kiss” is another duet song and after that we’ll sail away on the “River Of Tuoni”. Here, we are able to enjoy the soprano like vocals of Capri, which gives the music a more NIGHTWISH twist right away. This is not a shame, because there are worse bands to be compared with anyway. The fast guitar part sounds fabulous in this track. The very last song on this forty-five minutes ear attack is called “Charnell’s Ball”, which has a very bombastic and fairy tale like intro tune. The previous musical link is there again, but it stays a nice track that is finally topped by a nice guitar solo. Besides Paivi ‘Capri’ Virkkunen, AMBERIAN DAWN consists of Tuomas Seppålå on guitar and keyboards, Kimmo Korhonen on guitar, Emil Pohjalainen on guitar and Joonas Pykålå on drums. Website: http://www.amberiandawn.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ANGELICA-Thrive (Frontiers Records)
Angelica Rylin is well-known for her vocal parts for THE MURDER OF MY SWEET, but she has got more on her sleeve. Prove is given on this solo debut album, called “Thrive”, which contains twelve tracks and almost fifty minutes of melodic rock and AOR from the highest level possible. Just tune in to the first notes of the album with “Breaking My Heart” and you’ll get it all summed up. A catchy chorus, a stomping rhythm, breathtaking guitar work and the great voice of Angelica on top of it all. It’s a treat to your ears. And it continues with “I Am Strong”, which sounds easy on the ears as well. “To You Rescue” is another song, that easily could land in the national charts. Check out this guitar solo, it’s mind-blowing! The chorus is very suitable to sing along to pretty easily. Same goes for “Nothing Else You Can Break”. Right from the first moment on, you know that the title track will get back in the chorus and you’ll be able to sing along to it from the beginning. It’s as simple as that. “Riding Out The Storm” starts with a heavy riff and some classy keyboard touches are added for the melodic effect. “Rain On My Parade” is on next and my thoughts directly go out to LEE AARON, who also made a song with nearly the same title. This one is different, but there is still some resemblance in a way, because Lee’s sound on that album was also quite melodic and a bit AOR-ish. While “Lovers In Paradise” is a ballad type of song and a bit more laid back. “You Will Never Win” is an airy, easy on the ears track with some ballsy guitar work. “This Kiss Is Just For You” will make every romantic rock lover melt. “I’m Not Waiting” is more up tempo and it shows that almost every song here has got that special catchy touch, whether it is a ballad or a rocker. “Take Me To Your Heart” closes the album and I can tell you, that ANGELICA took me to her heart already with this release. It might not be the most difficult album to listen to, but it sounds so intense, so catchy and so well done, that you must love it, whether you want it or not. Fans of ROBIN BECK or ISSA or maybe even LITA FORD know what to do now. Run to that local record dealer on the corner of the street (wishful thinking) and get this solo debut album of ANGELICA. The excellent guitar work by the way comes from a handful of more or less well-known guitarists, like Jesper Stromblad (ex-IN FLAMES), Magnus Karlsson (PRIMAL FEAR) and Per Bergquist (SMASH INTO PIECES), while the keyboard parts were done by Matt Guillory of JAMES LABRIE’s solo band. Website: https://en-gb.facebook.com/angelica.rylin [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ARVEN-Black Is The Colour (Massacre Records)
Five fantastic looking ladies are walking towards you, when you look at the CD cover of this new album by ARVEN. They are accompanied by drummer Till, who is the only male member and can call himself the lucky guy here. The twelve tracks, including two bonus songs, are worthy of a full hour of melodic, bombastic and powerful metal. From the very first notes on, well-known bands such as NIGHTWISH, EPICA, WITHIN TEMPTATION, VISIONS OF ATLANTIS and AFTER FOREVER will come to mind, but these comparisons won’t hurt this German sextet, I guess. In “Don’t Look Back”, you’ll hear a nice speed and mood change in the middle of the song, which introduces the guitar solo and a part in which the choir vocals profile themselves. It’s these little twists, that make a band like ARWEN sound just a little bit more exciting than the average melodic metal bands, that I hear. After this exciting track, we hear a more airy song, called “Rain Song”, which sounds a bit softer and slower. The bombastic orchestra sound matches just perfect to the song and Carina really knows to imitate the soft drops of rain coming down from the sky. A nice kind of lullaby, followed by a more speedy track, called “The One For Me”. This song evolves into some kind of love duet between Carina Hanselmann and Stefan Schmidt of VAN CANTO, which sounds very romantic indeed. The romantic feeling continues in the ballad-like “All I Got”, which is on next. In the middle of this track the speed goes up for the instrumental part, which gives it some nice variation. “My Darkest Dream” contains nice guitar riffs and a ditto solo, which makes it to one of the highlights on the album for me. “Cercle D’Emerande” has got a French title. I don’t know why, but it doesn’t sound more or less exciting, because of it. It has a piano and a violin and it’s a jolly nice instrumental track. “In Your Dreams” continues in a more laid back and romantic way. Turn the lights down low and enjoy the feeling, I should say. Well, maybe this is not such a good idea, because later on the guitars appear and more power is added to this track. A lot of power is what you get in “Fireside Stories”, where the guitars riff loudly over the nightingale voice of Carina. All you can do now is to lay down and rest to the sound of “My Fall”, which opens with a piano and some beautiful guitar chords. This song has some very exciting twists, which makes it highly enjoyable to your ears. Obviously, ARVEN regularly knows to surprise us, which is a very good sign. The bonus tracks are on now and they start with “Ride On”, an acoustic track. Title track “Black Is the Colour” is the other one. It’s kinda strange maybe, that this one was added as a bonus track, but it’s an acoustic version. It’s also the second appearance of Stefan Schmidt of VAN CANTO. ARVEN consists of Carina Hanselmann on vocals, Anastacia Schmidt on guitar, Ines Thomé on guitar, Lisa Marie Geiss on bass, Lena Yatsula on piano and Till Fielden on drums. I predict a very fruitful future for this band, because they know to surprise their fans and their warm sound will be cherished by many listeners out there. Website: http://www.arvenmusic.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

AVATARIUM-Avatarium (Nuclear Blast)
When I noticed the name of Leif Edling, I got excited right away. AVATARIUM is the new project by this Swedish doom maestro, which contains a female vocalist, named Jennie-Ann Smith. The album holds seven tracks, but plays for almost fifty minutes. Some touches of doom, as a friendly gesture to an old friend, and a dose of psychedelic and classic rock is what you’ll get on this album. When you listen to the first song, this sums it all up pretty well. You’ll hear a mix of CANDLEMASS, KRUX, but also some old RAINBOW, BLUE OYSTER CULT and maybe even a little bit of HEART, because of the female vocals, that are very emotionally. It’s called “Moonhorse” and once it has settled in your mind, it won’t let go that easily. Same goes for “Pandora’s Egg” actually. It starts out in a very doomy way, but the voice of Jennie-Ann pours a classic rock sauce over it, which makes it very easy to swallow for all of you dirty rockers out there. The setting is still very black and dark, but it rocks like hell once the guitar grabs the spotlight. Topped by the bulldozer bass sound of Leif, it will grab your attention immediately. A very tasty egg with the right measure of pepper and salt, so to speak (sunny side down, though!). Title track “Avatarium” is another killer tune and the voice of Jennie-Ann reminded me a bit of LANA LANE here. The song sounds very mysterious and this title track is the real trophy on this album. “Boneflower” was already on the twelve inch, that the band released before this album came out. The retro sound of the big classic rock bands is enlarged here, because of the keyboards. “Bird Of Prey” is on next and once again they’ve added this big juicy doomy sauce. Blackmore-like guitar riffs give it a bit more power and the song closes with a very sweet part to keep it in balance. “Tides Of Telepathy” follows, which starts out with some kind of mysterious instrumental intro. The mood swings at the end of the song sound very exciting and it may remind you of a band like URIAH HEEP, who made these strange sidesteps in their early days as well. The song ends with another Blackmore-like axe attack. CD closer “Lady In The Lamp” carries out the RAINBOW / Ritchie Blackmore spirit even more. This slow tune makes you wish for those days, when Ronnie James Dio was still part of this remarkable band. Most likely, this album will please the average doom fan out there, but I think people, who like classic rock music will be probably pleased the most. If you take a song like “Temple Of The King” as a reference, then you won’t be too far away of what you’ll be hearing on this magnificent album by AVATARIUM, that consists of Leif Edling on bass, Jennie-Ann Smith on vocals , Marcus Jidell (EVERGREY / ROYAL HUNT) on guitar, Lars Sköld (TIAMAT) on drums and Carl Westholm (JUPITER SOCIETY / CARP TREE) on keyboards. I urgently want more albums sounding like that! Website: http://avatariumofficial.se/ [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

AXXION-Wild Racer (High Roller Records)
If you like SKULL FIST, you will probably remember female drummer Alison Thunderland, who now beats the skins in AXXION. “Wild Racer” is the first full-length album of this high octane fueled true metal band. Their previous demo will be reviewed in our demo section, by the way. “Wild Racer”, contains ten tracks and about forty minutes of hot stomping heavy metal. High-pitched vocals, a fast rhythm and dagger sharp guitar riffs and solos is what you’ll get here, starting with title track “Wild Racer”, in which Alison plays some very innovative and exciting drum parts. “High Bars” continues in that same speed. If you already liked the sound of SKULL FIST, I’m sure you will also have a good time with this album. The spirit of the early IRON MAIDEN sound wanders around in the guitar riffs, but the vocal parts are a bit higher and more screaming. “On The Edge” takes off in the fourth gear and people, who dig the speed metal sound of newcomers ENFORCER or EVIL INVADERS may want to try this band out as well, because they really shred the paper off your bedroom walls. The song is easy to sing along to and will probably do very well a live setting. “Night Stalker” is another steady metal tune, which keeps all those heads banging! While “Hard Rocking” sums it all up in a ‘three minute’ nutshell. These four members are true ‘hard rock’ soldiers, so in fact this is a short tribute to themselves. “Stallion” has that well-known IRON MAIDEN rhythm, but with screaming vocals and a bit more heavy metal approach. “Fire Heart” is very straight forward again and it proves, that the band is capable of writing compact metal songs that still have a head and a tail. “Still Hungry” sounds a bit more melodic and gives the album some variation in a certain way. It might as well end up high in the charts, because it’s the only suitable track, that would do the trick. “Tonight” on the other hand, contains some mind-blowing guitar solos! The band also made a video clip for this song, so please check it out. There is some great axxion in it and the whole band ends up shooting the enemy. No more clues are given here and you’ll have to see it to believe it. “Ride Of The Chariots” is a cover of the THOR classic and if you don’t like this shit, then you’re reading the wrong website. Just listen to the guitar solo and you’ll know, that these Canadian metal heads have their heart in the right place. True heavy metal in the broadest sense of the word is presented to you in ten tracks. It’s a pity, that this album only plays about forty minutes, but it’s worth every single second of it! AXXION consists of Dirty Dee Kerr on vocals, Shred on guitar (cool name!), Chris Riley on bass and of course the beautiful blonde vixen Alison Thunderland on drums. I think, I will move to Thunderland, because there is a lot of AXXION there! http://www.facebook.com/axxioncanada. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BATTLE BEAST-Battle Beast (Nuclear Blast)
BATTLE BEAST from Finland is back! In about fifty minutes, they will unleash the (battle) beast in thirteen brand new tracks on this self-titled album. Opener “Let It Roar” is heavy metal pur sang with influences of JUDAS PRIEST, HAMMERFALL, U.D.O, ACCEPT and HAMMERFALL, including some flashing guitar work, a fast stomping drum beat and the very wild roaring vocals by current singer Noora. Yes, indeed, the beast is back and they are ready to rip you apart. “Over The Top” opens with a very cool JUDAS PRIES-like riff, that could very well have been on any of their early albums released in the eighties. Just when you are about to shout the lyrics of “Green Manalishi”, Noora leads you into the right direction. It’s to the left, over the top and then the guitars lead the way to the right path. So far, so good and I adjust the big metal bolts in my neck for some intense headbanging moves. Just to be sure and you know, safety comes first. You don’t want your head to fall off in the middle of the album. “Fight Kill Die” is a tender love song…… Just kiddin’: it’s a speed monster with some great guitar work in the best old school ACCEPT tradition. After so much metal mayhem, it’s now time for a slower song, called “Black Ninja”. Noora’s voice can reach the same high growls, that Marco Hietala of NIGHTWISH can. Powerful, yet very recognizable. “Rain Man” might take you back for a second to this movie with the same title, but it doesn’t sound like the autistic Dustin Hofman at all. This is power metal played at full force! While “Out Of Control” is another power metal tune, played in the best early ACCEPT tradition. Same actually goes for “Out On The Streets”, which also contains the sweet vocals by Noora. And when the chorus starts, you can easily sing along to it, which is probably the intention of this song: to shout it out loud during a live show. “Neuromancer” is another ‘shout it out’ track. It has a lot of power and contains a stomping beat to jump up and down to the rhythm. Great stuff, I can tell you that much. “Raven” starts off quite spectacular and the PRIEST vibe is also back. “Into The Heart Of Danger” contains some beautiful guitar licks, which actually lifts this song up a little. “Machine Revolution” is a heavy foot stomper, but the raw edges that surprised me that much at the beginning of the album, have slowly become less raw and more straight forward now. “The Golden Age” is a bombastic, instrumental intro to CD closer “Kingdom”, where Noora shouts it all out one more time. This album is definitely a must for those, who love it really loud, wild, exciting and screaming. BATTLE BEAST consists of Noora on vocals, Pyry on drums, Anton on guitar and vocals, Eero on bass, Juuso on guitar and Janne on keyboards and vocals. Website: http://www.battlebeast.fi. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BENEDICTUM-Obey (Frontiers Records)
BENEDICTUM is back, long live BENEDICTUM. Their new album is called “Obey” and we will obey for sure! In fifty minutes we rage through twelve bone hard songs, that is great food for all the old school heavy metal fans out there. Opener “Dream Of The Banshee” is a short instrumental intro, which leads to a mirror bursting into thousands of pieces after a wild scream. That is the first note of “Fractured”, which starts in the best JUDAS PRIEST tradition. These metal gods would have pleased many more fans, if “Nostradamus” would have sounded like that, I guess. What power and what a delight to hear Veronica scream out her beautiful lungs! Here and there I also hear some notes, that remind me of the late Midnight (ex-CRIMSON GLORY) for a second or two. No time to wait and another metal attack unfolds itself in title track “Obey”, which is on next. This sounds a bit darker, but it’s still up tempo and Veronica cranks out some stunning vocal lines here. “Fighting For My Life” has got the right groove. There is no escape anymore from the brutal power of Mrs. Freeman. Pete Wells plays some brutal riffs and the chorus vocals give the song a kind of thrashy feeling at times. “Scream” is up next and besides the ultra-wild screams of Veronica, we also hear some mind boggling guitar work here. “Evil That We Do” is next. Just listen to the first lines, that Veronica sings. If this doesn’t remind you of the early days of JUDAS PRIEST (Excuse me for saying his!), then you have got sh*t in your ears. “Crossing Over” contains a steady beat and is a real foot stomper with more flashing guitar solos by Pete. In “Cry”, former BLACK SABBATH singer Tony Martin is the male guest singer next to Veronica in this duet. It’s a ballad type of song, but a really good one in my opinion with a lot of emotional interaction between the two singers. We’ll also find back another hero in the current band line-up. Nobody else but Rikard Stjernquist (JAG PANZER) is their new drummer. He is a real wrecking machine, who also played in BODY OF SCARS and BALLISTIC. The band is completed by Aric Avina (TYNATOR / DOWNHILL TREND) on bass guitar. In the meantime, we have arrived to “Thorns”, which is an itching business, I can tell you. While “Die To Love You” is a power ballad with a lot of bombastic orchestration. “Apex Nation” starts with roaring motors, heavy drum beats and SAXON-like riffs. A great heavy rock monster comes alive, including some amazing speedy solos in the middle of the song. “Retrograde” leads us to the seclusion of this great album. It’s time to slow things down a bit and it slowly works itself up to a great climax, including some piano parts. There you have it. A whole lot of power comes together on “Obey”, but it also has some nice melodic moments and sidesteps, that will broaden your horizon and their musical view. Bow and obey to the masters of heavy metal, because they certainly deserve it. Website: http://www.benedictum.net. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BLACKMORE’S NIGHT-Dancer And The Moon (Frontiers Records)
When I write this review, the days are getting shorter, it’s getting colder and Jack Frost is on its way soon. That’s the perfect time to listen to the new CD of BLACKMORE’S NIGHT, which is called “Dancer And The Moon”. These are expensive times for the fans of the man in black, because new releases of RAINBOW, DEEP PURPLE and BLACKMORE’S NIGHT are seeing the light of day this year. The thirteen songs on this new album are worthy of about fifty-five minutes of medieval folk rock music. “I Think It’s Going To Rain Today” is a very surprising and nice opener. Of course it has got that ‘feel good’ sound, but halfway the song there is a nice electric guitar solo by the minstrel in black. I never knew this, but the song is originally written by RANDY NEWMAN. Candice Night has still got a lovely voice and influences come from everywhere. The opener could be categorized as rock, but “Troika” could be played at a gypsy party as well, including the double bass and tambourine. And they do party on this one! The barkeeper pours me another beer or two, as we go further with “The Last Leaf”, which could be a tribute to the fall. Actually, we’re right in the middle of it, so our timing seems to be just perfect. It does have that fall atmosphere as well. It sounds sober, soft and sweet. From the first notes on of “Lady In Black” (URIAH HEEP), I get the shivers all over. This is the perfect BLACKMORE’S NIGHT song and you can easily sing along to the words. The guitar part is accompanied by some bombastic choir vocals, which is a nice point of recognition. “Minstrels In The Hall” is a short acoustic instrumental, where Ritchie is accompanied by the tambourine. It’s a nice introduction to another classic song, that is perfectly made for BLACKMORE’S NIGHT, called “Temple Of The King”, originally recorded by RAINBOW. I’m really surprised, that this wasn’t recorded at an earlier stage already. It’s a beautiful version. “Dancer And The Moon”, the title track of the album is another joyful party song, which leaves enough room for improvisation in a live setting. After all the party festivities, it’s time to slow down a bit and listen to a short but sweet acoustic guitar piece, called “Galliard”. “The Ashgrove” is originally a Welsh folk tune, which received the BLACKMORE’S NIGHT make over here. It remains a nice folk song though. “Somewhere Over The Sea (The Moon Is Shining)” is a ballad type of song, which has been influenced by an old Czech folk song, which is next. It’s called “The Moon Is Shining (Somewhere Over The Sea)”. However, it sounds quite different and much more modern, with some interesting dance beeps at the start. It’s the first single taken from this album and it contains some great guitar work by the master himself. “The Spinner’s Tale” is on next and this romantic tune takes us to the final song on this album. “Carry On….Jon” (Need I say more?!?) is a tribute song to Ritchie’s lost friend Jon Lord. It’s an exciting instrumental tune, which will make a lot of people feel very sad, when realizing that the master of keyboards, Jon Lord, isn’t among us anymore. This is a very respectful tribute, which closes the album in a beautiful way. The limited version of this CD contains a bonus DVD with four acoustic songs and an interview. Next to Candice and Ritchie, the band consists of Bard David Of Largmont on keyboards, Lady Kelly DeWinter on vocals, Earl Grey Of Chimay on bass, The Scarlett Fiddler on violin and Troubadour Of Aberdeen on drums. Website: http://www.blackmoresnight.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BLUES PILLS-Devil Man (EP) (Nuclear Blast)
Let’s turn back the clock to - let’s say - forty-five years ago and you’ll arrive at the time, where BLUES PILLS could have originated from. They must have travelled back in a time capsule, because they were founded in the winter of 2011 in Örebro, Sweden. The four tracks have a playing time of about sixteen minutes and title track “Devil Man” contains some great screams of singer Elin Larsson. Add to this the wild drum rolls, stunning bass sound and the freaky guitar explosions of Dorian Sorriaux and you’ll get close to the sound of bands like CREAM, LED ZEPPELIN, THE DOORS and JANIS JOPLIN. Besides good solid hard rock, they also add some soul and folk influences to that sound, as you can hear in “The River”. Elin shows, that she has got a bunch of strong tonsils, otherwise you wouldn’t reach notes like that. Their laid back guitar sound takes you back to the summer of love and Woodstock, my dear friends. Peace, love and understanding is what these four Swedish rockers are breathing. Cory Berry on drums sounds pretty amazing and wild in this one. “Time Is Now” rocks out hard, starting with a HENDRIX-like guitar solo at first. And just listen to that groovy bulldozer bass sound created by Zack Anderson! It sounds pretty amazing and almost made every window explode in our neighborhood. It’s like these songs came together after jamming them for the very first time. They sound so basic and it sure proves, that these four musicians have got the natural talent to play this kind of music. It’s what they say in their DNA and I’m not kiddin’. “Dig In” is the last song on this four tracker. Dim the lights down low, light a stick of essence and dream away to the tasteful sounds of this song. The freaky end will surely awake you on time to push the ‘repeat’ button on your stereo set. What an amazing guitar solo and what a shame, it fades away into the dark night. In 2014, they will release a limited live CD of their Rockpalast gig. Make sure you don’t miss it, if you liked what you heard on this EP. BLUES PILLS is definitely a name to remember, because this is how retro rock should sound like. Website: http://www.bluespills.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BUTCHER BABIES-Goliath (Century Media Records)
A blast of energy enters my room, when the first notes of the new album of BUTCHER BABIES pass by. The band consists of Heidi Shepherd on vocals, Carla Hurley on vocals, Henry Flury (AMEN) on guitar, Jason Klein (AZDACHAO) on bass and Chrissy Warner (SCARS OF TOMORROW) on drums. They crank out eleven new metal tracks, worthy of almost fifty minutes of energetic and very powerful metal. Opener “I Smell A Massacre” blasts in at full speed and leaves no room for any questions. Brutal FEAR FACTORY riffs and ditto screaming vocals create an aggressive atmosphere. If you like bands such as SLIPKNOT, SLAYER and FEAR FACTORY, then you know what to do. “Magnolia Blvd.” is on next and once again the speed limit is being crossed and more groove has been added. Loud screams are mixed with regular vocals, which makes it even more exciting and diverse to listen to. Then there is a little pace for some slower material as well with the raunchy stomper “C8H18 (Gasoline)”, which has some dark industrial beats and stunning riffs. “Grim Sleeper” takes back some speed and sounds a bit creepy. It fits perfectly with the title of the song. The title track is next, which is stuffed with violent brutal screams. How much can one man take? “In Denial” has got some ARCH ENEMY-like screams and in “Give Me Reason”, I hear the spirit of MY RUIN pass by. A lot of wild and exciting riffs makes this heavy song complete. “The Mirror Never Lies” takes back some speed every now and then. The monstrous heavy riffs remain though and mix very well with that. “Dead Poet” is a bit creepy again. You can almost sense the fear, when the icy screams enter your room. “The Death Surround” contains an awful lot of groove. You almost know, that something terrible is about to happen when you hear the dark sound of the guitars and the scared screams of both vocalists . “Axe Wound” closes the album with another axe attack of violence. I knew, that the city of angels is beautiful, but BUTCHER BABIES shows that it has a violent and hard side as well, which all comes together on this new album. We take the strange CD cover for granted and play it again, before we get butchered by these violent and aggressive sounding babies. Website: www.facebook.com/ButcherBabiesMusic. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CAUCHEMAR-Tenebrario (Nuclear War Now! Productions)
CAUCHEMAR from Canada is back with their second album. It contains nine doom laden songs with a total playing time of about forty minutes. The black-hearted fans among us probably know enough by now. For those, who didn’t get infected by the music of CAUCHEMAR yet, be ashamed of yourself and read these lines very carefully. The Canadian doomsters start off with “D’Encre Et De Sang”, an up tempo track, and get this thing going. The first ultra heavy riffs of “Le Feu Du Soleil” are coming up next, which sound like a mix of PENTAGRAM, TROUBLE and WITCHFINDER GENERAL. Front lady Annick Giroux pours out a thick layer of hot concrete in my room. She is helped out by a band, that consists of François Patry on guitar, Andreas Arango on bass and Patrick on drums. This band starts up “Salamandre” in the fourth gear, leaving behind a path of destruction. In the middle of the song, there is a nice mood swing and a slow doomy piece pops up all of a sudden, after which the band returns to the speedy part again. “Tete De Mort” is another slow death march, where you’ll hear that the origin of CAUCHEMAR comes from the very early days. These guys actually play doom metal the way it’s meant to be and they’re not just a rip off with a whole lot of loud riffs and nothing more. “L’Appel” has the perfect rhythm to bang your head upon. Just listen to those instrumental parts: all you can do is to move your head to the rhythm of the beat. The French lyrics add something to the mysterious feeling of the song and they fit very well to the doomy sound. “Le Fantome”, the title alone tells you that there is something sinister going on here. Close your eyes and in your thoughts, you almost hear the phantom slowly walking down the streets. He walks right towards you right now, so you’d better run and hide before he’s gonna get you!! “Rites Lunaires” lights up your life. And when you think, this sparkle of light makes the sun shine in these dark and black doomy days, CAUCHEMAR changes that idea at once with the heavy riffs of “Trois Monde”. There is no place for happiness and get some light into this miserable life of yours, so you will have to lit the “Tenebrario”. This is the album closer and then Annick finally blows out the candle. For me, this is the ultimate highlight on the album. The acoustic guitars, the fragile vocal lines by Annick, the subtle ringing of a bell: a dark and very mysterious combination, which fits together just perfect! The album comes to a closure much too soon, but it sounds so much stronger than their precious EP “La Vierge Noire” (2010). A true must for every doom metal fans out there!Website: http://www.facebook.com/cauchemarmetal [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE CHARM AND THE FURY-A Shade Of My Former Self (Listenable Records)
Are you ready for some metalcore? Don’t look any further, because this is the new album by THE CHARM AND THE FURY. It contains twelve brand new tracks and runs for a bit over forty minutes. The band was founded in 2010 and they have come to full wisdom on this album. You can conquer the world now, in my opinion. The opener may be a little bit strange, but hey it’s just a short instrumental, which is called “The Unveility”. When “A Testament” follows, they throw some brutal chords at you and you know there’s no way back anymore from here. Brutal female vocals, backed by an astonishing band, enter your room and destroy the place in three freaking minutes. This is brutal hardcore to the max, my friends. “Carte Blanche” opens just like “No Fonds” of DOG EAT DOG, but it’s so much more brutal than this hardcore classic. The pounding riffs, the screaming vocals, you can only give these people carte blanche or they will tear the whole shit apart. The title track of the album is on next. “A Shade Of My Former Self” sounds furious and wild, which is followed by “The Enemy”, that is also a little piece of rest. The song turns into a vocal duet with Jamie Graham (HEART OF A COWARD). The heavy attacks return, because “Colorblind” grinds the wallpaper from your bedroom walls in a sec. When Caroline uses her regular singing voice, which she doesn’t do that often by the way, she sounds quite similar to Hayley Williams of PARAMORE. This is totally different music, but their vocal range shows some similarity, I think. “In The Wake Of Pride” is a short instrumental interlude, that divides the album in two parts. “Livin’ Saints” contains some heavy machine gun riffs. While “Heartless Breathless” has some of those regular vocal lines again and it gives this brutal song just that little special touch, that it needs. The pounding beats and riffs are right in your face and they will easily leave you breathless, because they sound heartless. “Virtue Of Leadership” urges you to bang your head. The speed is a bit slower here, which makes it sound a bit more brutal as well. “A New State Of Mind” is what you get after listening to this album, I guess. Judge for yourself, I’d say. You can surely cope with the competition on the international market with an album like that or what? The hardcore fans get what they need, metalcore fans get their share and the die-hard metal heads might want to taste this Dutch equivalent of OTEP, MY RUIN or ARCH ENEMY as well. The CD closes with “Deliverance”. THE CHARM AND THE FURY are awaiting their international breakthrough and this album will make this happen, if not the case already. Website: http://www.facebook.com/thecharmthefury. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CHASTAIN-Surrender To No One (Leviathan Records)
CHASTAIN has reformed and the world must know. The best way to do that is to make a new album and to play at every place imaginable in the whole world. Goal one has been achieved already with “Surrender To No One”. The second goal will be a bit difficult I guess, because CHASTAIN has never crossed the pond so far as far as I know. Let’s focus on the eleven tracks on this new album for now, that runs for almost fifty-five minutes. I had no idea what to expect after twenty-three long years of waiting. I know, that CHASTAIN has also released some albums with Kate French, but we’re talking about the Leather Leone fronted outfit here. “Stand Up And Fight” shows us that much of the old sound has remained, thank god! The siren of Leather is still screaming it out loud, the untraceable octopus guitar playing by David T. Chastain, the freaking heavy bass parts by Mike Skimmerhorn and the amazing drum fills and beats by newcomer Stian Kristoffersen (PAGAN’S MIND, FIREWIND) also get together on this new album. The standard has been set after this song and the band continues with “Call Of The Wild”, another strong headbanger pounding away like the average latter JUDAS PRIEST stuff. “Deep Down In The Darkness” sounds dark and threatening like a tiger on the prowl. The well-known CHASTAIN guitar sound rules in this song. “Freedom Within” is another pounder, that contains some smashing drum beats and the Chastain string exercises. Because of the catchiness of the refrain, it is also easy to sing along to it. “I Am Sin” is one of my favorite tracks here. It’s a slow banger, that you can call doom metal by any means. That is what it sounds like and it sounds heavy as hell. Leather is sin and nobody can change that. “Rise Up” has got a more PRIEST-like approach again. The first tones of “Evil Awaits Us” is the sound of Chastain’s guitar, as I know it very well. Many notes and Arabic structures that nobody else dares to try, or maybe even can try. “Fear My Wrath” is easy on the ears, up tempo and David pulls them strings firmly on this one. Also check out the strong rhythm guitar parts in this song. It really blows you out of your chair. While in “Save Me Tonight”, you’ll hear the old school CHASTAIN sound with some awesome guitar licks. Title track “Surrender To No One” contains some heavy drum beats to give it some special power. The roof has been lifted up for a second and slowly those fists will rise in the air to this pounder. This song definitely belongs to one of the highlights on this classy album. “Bleed Through Me” closes the album with a rather dark and doomy sound. I must admit, that I really liked this new album a lot and I just wish, that CHASTAIN would pack his bags and get over to Europe for a tour one day. I’ll keep on dreaming about that, until it really happens and I will surrender to no one!! Visit http:// www.davidtchastain.com for more information about this master shredder. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CHEETAH-Rock And Roll Women (Bad Reputation)
CHEETAH hails from Melbourne, Australia and I guess, I have told their story before in our ‘Back To The Past’ section some time ago. Their album “Rock And Roll Women” is being re-released in 2013 and they have added a bonus track on the CD. The total amount of rock songs comes to eleven this time and now the album reaches the full forty minutes of high octane fueled rock after all these years. The spirit of the good old AC/DC sound wanders around in opener “Bang Bang”. Stomping riffs and Angus Young-like guitar licks are topped by the vocal skills of Chrissie (the dark haired) and Lyndsay (the blonde lady) Hammond. The perfect opener to play at a rock and roll party, I guess. “Suffering Love” starts with some mind-blowing a-capella vocals, until the drum beats takes over. The beat is fast and the high vocals at the end of the song give me the shivers. “Spend The Night” opens like a ballad type of song, but it unfolds itself like a perfect A.O.R. song with more great vocals. It sounds a bit in the style of PAT BENATAR, but sometimes it has got a little bit more balls and more soul. CHEETAH really was a hot band in the eighties and I think, that many headbangers will remember their gig at Reading Rock in 1982 very well. “Rock ‘N’ Roll Woman” starts with a GARY GLITTER beat and tells you the story of these ladies, because they really were rock and roll women in the eighties. The bass player Les Karski asks for some special attention in this song. “Scars Of Love” is on next and after this another AC/DC-like foot stomper unfolds itself in “My Man”. Not strange, when you know that all the tracks were written by Harry Vanda and George Young. The link to AC/DC is there right away. The song however shows more resemblance to the latter work by SUZI QUATRO in a way. “N.I.T.E.” tells you about that one special night….you know the one when CHEETAH played at your home town?! What a hot night that must have been. “Come And Get It” rocks and “Let The Love Begin” is a real love song. The sexual-minded song titles were a special addition to the songs. In combination with their sexy looks and harsh sounding vocals, this is probably one of the reasons why this album became so successful. In “Let The Love Begin” you might recognize a snippet of “Summer Nights” – a song from the well-known eighties musical “Grease” - or is it just my imagination? “I’m Yours” rocks and I bet you can’t sit still, when this one leaves your speakers. Finally, we get to the bonus track, which is called “Love You To The Limit”, which is another eighties-styled rock song, that has the sound from those well-known days. A catchy chorus and a good guitar solo turn this song into a nice addition to the classic album, that we all know so well. CHEETAH consisted of Lyndsay Hammond on vocals, Chrissie Hammond on vocals, Ian Miller on guitar, Ronnie Peel on rhythm guitar, Les Karski on bass, Mike Peters on keyboards and Ray Arnott on drums. I don’t know for sure, if we still could consider these ladies ‘rock and roll women’ in 2013, but this album is definitely a must for all the headbangers out there. Lyndsay shows up with her Lyndsay Hammond Duo, where she sings a more jazzy style. Chrissie on the other hand has been performing (and recording) with keyboard maestro Rick Wakeman for many years. What about a full reunion, ladies?? Website: http://www.lindsayhammond.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CHTHONIC-Bu-Tik (Spinefarm Records)
CHTHONIC from Taiwan present their brand new album “Bu-Tik”, which contains ten tracks and plays about forty minutes. The instrumental intro shows the Asian influences of the band right away. This short piece of music is called “Arising Armament”. Obviously after that, the band takes away in fourth gear with some loud riffs and hellish screams in “Supreme Pain For The Tyrant”. What brutality and power! I think, old school ARCH ENEMY fans can live with that, for example. Death metal with a black metal background or vice versa, choose whatever you like, because both influences are there. The drummer has got a busy job keeping up the speedy beat to “Sail Into The Sunset’s Fire”. The guitar sound is the only thing that is a little bit more melodic in this song. It’s the balance between the brutal sounds and a touch of melody. But every song is a maniacal speed ride through a musical adventure. “Next Republic” takes away in the highest possible gear. Never a slow moment with CHTHONIC, they keep bashing until the end comes near. Choir vocals are announcing the call for a new republic in this song, I guess. It’s an ear catching aspect in this song. A short instrumental intro shows, that the band is not afraid of using instruments like the violin, but always for short pieces or as support. They use it for a couple of seconds and then burst into another brutal rage with guitars taking the lead at the end of the song, which is called “Rage Of My Sword”. “Between Silence And Death” is on next and after half an hour, you’re getting the idea that you’re listening to the same song over and over again. There isn’t too much variety in the songs, which are being played at the same speed over and over. Brutal death metal fans probably won’t mind, but this isn’t good enough for everybody, I’m afraid. The screams and growls in “Resurrection Pyre” are a bit more brutal and darker. Then, we’re gonna “Set Fire To The Island”, which is another vicious and venomous speed death metal attack. This time the guitarist takes his solo spot and the drum beat doesn’t seem to bother him, so finally he’s able to show his skills and not just in the background. “Defender Of The Bu-Tik Palace” rages on and leaves no space for taking a gasp of fresh air. It’s like a bullet train without breaks that cuts with full speed to the raunchy musical landscapes. With the outro “Undying Rearment”, this seventh album comes to a closure. It has never been that silent before (!!) and brings you back to earth in the normal world. CHTHONIC consists of Freddy Lim ‘Left Face Of Maradou’ on vocals and erhu (a Chinese string instrument), Doris Yeh ‘Thunder Tears’ on bass, Jesse Liu ‘The Infernal’ on guitar and backing vocals, Dani Wang ‘Azathothian Hands’ on drums and CJ Kao ‘Dispersed Fingers’ on keyboards and synthesizers. Website: http://www.chthonic.tw. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CRYSTAL VIPER-Possession (AFM Records)
CRYSTAL VIPER releases a new true heavy metal album, that will shred the wallpaper of your living room. Believe it or not, but this Polish metal machine wrecks you apart in forty-five minutes, divided into ten songs. The first notes of “Zeta Reticuli” will point you into the wrong direction. For a moment, you might think that this is going to be a gothic folk metal album. Damn no, this is what they call an intro. The skull splitting metal sound really starts off in “Voices In My Head”, that follows the song structures of true metal bands like MANILLA ROAD, SACRED STEEL, MAJESTY and WIZARD. “Julia Is Possessed” is about the lady on the cover of the CD, I guess. She looks a bit like Alice, who lives in hell according to ANNIHILATOR. It could be her younger sister. She is possessed and she’s also the one who has got voices inside her head. Yep, this is a concept album, which links all the songs and turns it into one complete true metal horror story. Just listen to the great guitar solos in this song for example. Sataniac of DESASTER helps out on vocals on this one. “Fight Evil With Evil” contains some icely high screams of beautiful front lady Marta Gabriel. In the middle of the song, it turns into a duet with nobody else but Harry ‘THE TYRANT’ Conklin himself. In “Mark Of The Horned One”, the guitarists must have burned their fingers on the strings. What a mind-boggling solos in this powerful rocker, it’s simply amazing. “Why Can’t You Listen?” sounds heavy and doomy at the same time and it does have a DIO vibe in my eyes. It’s pounding and sounds very mythical. Swords rise in the air during the wild screams of Marta. What an amazing song! We take the crazy end for granted, ladies and gentlemen. “You Will Die, You Will Burn” is another high quality true metal song with some amazing guitar work. “We Are Many” contains some powerful choir vocals and with “Prophet Of The End” we have also come to the end of the concept story about Julia and her exorcism. Hailey’s Comet will come in 2061, so the prediction goes on and this will mark the end of…..but I’m ninety-eight years old then (if I’m still alive), so I’m not going to think about that yet, I’m afraid. Carpe Diem is my slogan, especially after knowing all of this. CRYSTAL VIPER however knows that there are still men and women standing after that and they provide the knockout punch with a stunning cover version of “Thundersteel” by RIOT. That’ll teach you. Need I say more? This is high class material, my dear friends. If you don’t like this new CRYSTAL VIPER album, then you are reading the wrong webzine. This is only for true metal warriors made of metal. I raise my sword one more time for Marta and her Vipers. CRYSTAL VIPER consists of Marta Gabriel on vocals and guitar, Andy Wave on guitar, Tomasz ‘Golem’ Danczak on drums and Michal Badocha on bass. True metal fans must buy the limited first edition, because it will contain a free patch for your jacket. Let Marta and CRYSTAL VIPER blast the brains out of your skull. If they can’t rock your world, nobody can. Website: http://www.crystalviper.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CYNTHIA-Lady Made (Victor Records)
This is the second full-length album by all-female band CYNTHIA from Japan. It’s called “Lady Made” and it’s the successor of “Endless World”. I like Japanese bands a lot and this is not an exception to the rule. The MAIDEN-like riffs in the first song already caught my attention right from the start. Some songs are unpronounceable for European reviewers, because there’s not a word English in the lyrics or in the song title. Anyway, it’s the music that counts here and with their powerful metal, we sure get what we want here, including a very raw guitar solo. The vocals of Saki are higher than most other female singers you might know, but very recognizable to most Japanese singers in general. The second track is called “I Will” and contains a keyboard part, that is quite up front in the mix. Clearly, these ladies came to rock and they have built their music on an old school hard rock and heavy metal sound. “IV” is the third song, which might be a bit confusing. The style is hard to describe, but sometimes these songs get very close to the solo stuff of MARTY FRIEDMAN, which means that they sound powerful yet sometimes with a rock or pop background. In general, these songs are loud enough to get the average metal fan excited. “Fly Away” opens with Saki in a leading role on vocals. While in “Chilly Nights”, the band creates a ballad type of atmosphere by taking back some speed and adding a bit more emotion into the vocals of Saki. Something, that Japanese bands do very well in general. The guitar solo is also played with a little bit of extra emotion. The song ends very sudden, which is quite remarkable. The speed goes up in title track “Lady Made”, which contains a lot of power and ditto guitar riffs. “Jewel Stars” is a very catchy song, which has got those pop-like sidesteps here and there. On the other hand, it’s also one of the songs, in which guitar player Yui is able to show her skills. The eight track on the album is an up tempo melodic rock song with an unpronounceable title and more MAIDEN-like riffs here and there. “Wish” is another ballad type of song. It contains enough power not to call it a real ballad, but it has enough emotion to call it a ballad for some reason. The choirs are a bit over the top maybe, but the guitar solo easily makes up for it. “Raison D’Etre” is on next. A bit strange to use a French title here, but it doesn’t do any harm to their powerful metal. Maybe I could even categorize it as the ultimate highlight on the album for me. The guitar solo has a prominent place and is beautifully stretched out. The last track has got a Japanese title and in a tearing rush, we have come to the end of a very powerful melodic rock album, which proves that there still is enough talent in the female Japanese rock and metal scene for many more years to come. CYNTHIA consists of Yui on guitar, Saki on vocals, Ayano on keyboards, piano and vocals, Azu on bass and vocals and Kanoko on drums, percussion and vocals. Website: http://ameblo.jp/saki-y-cynthia/ [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DANTE FOX-Lost Man’s Ground (independent)
DANTE FOX exists for twenty-five years now and this year they released their new album “Lost Man’s Ground”, containing eight tracks and about forty-five minutes of AOR and melodic rock. It’s the fourth album by this well-talented English band. The melodic ride starts with “Who Stole The Innocence”, which is in the best HEART tradition. The vocals of Sue Willets are crystal clear and the AOR laden sound has got some nice raw edges to it. Like on their debut album “Under Suspicion”, the guitar solo is the cherry on the cake. “Go Where Your Heart Is” is another ‘easy on the ear’ track with great guitar work. In my opinion, most of the tracks are quite radio friendly and it’s a bit strange that nobody has picked up this band at all. The refrains are easy to sing along to and Sue puts a lot of emotion in her voice. Just listen to “Secrets”, which is on next. Sue unfolds herself as the next Ann Wilson here. Her voice is so sweet and tender, yet still with a touch of heaviness and power. This is what I call high quality rock with emotion. “I Can’t Sleep” is the next song and this sure is another highlight for me. I would call this AOR from the highest category. Title track “Lost Man’s Ground” is a little bit different though. The band sounds more like LED ZEPPELIN and they also sound a bit experimental. The groove is there alright. This is only in the beginning though, but it’s easy to stay focused for the rest of this song. The intro of “This World” sounds like it needs some special attention. The sensitive track contains some breath-taking vocal chords and ditto guitar work. “Goodbye To Yesterday” is an acoustic track. These naked versions are not really my cup of tea, but in some cases it definitely adds something to it and makes it better. Here it adds romance, emotion and sensitivity, which makes it better. The CD closes with the radio edit version of the title track. This album will take the AOR and melodic rock fans by storm and I actually didn’t hear any weak song on this new release by DANTE FOX. The band consists of Sue Willets on vocals, Tim Manford on guitar and vocals, Andy Perfect on drums, Alan Mills on bass and Pete Lakin on keyboards. If they ever tour Holland again, make sure you don’t miss their show. Website: http://www.dantefox.com/ [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DEAP VALLY-Sistrionix (Island/Communion)
Let me introduce you to Lindsey Troy on guitar and vocals and Julie Edwards on drums and vocals. As a band, they call themselves DEAP VALLY and if you like to hear a good mix of THE WHITE STRIPES and BUGGIRL, then this one is for you. Their debut album is called “Sistrionix” (what’s in a name?) and it contains eleven super groovy tracks, that run for a bit over forty minutes. Just listen to the dirty sound on “End Of The World”. Great buzzy guitar parts, heavy drum beats and a screaming voice, that makes this absurd outfit complete. They rock like a madman and their sound may remind you of the groove, that LED ZEPPELIN once had, but these ladies turn the clock forty years ahead to 2013. “Baby I Call Hell” starts with a fuzzy guitar sound and a very catchy vocal line. What more do you need? Let alone the beginning of “Walk Of Shame”. You already know, that you won’t be able to stand still, when the rhythm starts to flow. It’s pure garage rock and I think that these ladies really don’t have any pretentions at all, but man how they rock with just a guitar, a drum kit and a voice! “Gonna Make My Own Money” sounds groovy and the statement they make is that of an independent girl, you’d better believe me! Sometimes they sound a bit messy, but in my opinion this does have its charm. “Creeplife” comes close to THE WHITE STRIPES and sounds a bit more alternative. Same goes for “Your Love”, in which they freak around and sound a bit more experimental than in the previous songs. But still it’s a treat to hear these girls go wild. “Lies” is easy on the ears and “Bad For My Body” has got that great drum beat, that makes you want to dance around, no matter what. The music swings and simply asks you (or begs you) to shake that body, too. “Woman Of Intention” sounds groovy and has got a very crusty guitar sound. Not too difficult, but highly entertaining indeed. “New Material” is just what the title predicts already. And all of this new material grooves like hell and in a song like this, the band proves that they dare to take experimental sidesteps and they do not only follow those paved paths. I think about a band like THEM CROOKED VULTURES here, because they also dared to think into a more controversial direction with their music. “Six Feet Under” is not a tribute to the band with the same name. It’s also not the soundtrack of your very own funeral I guess, but it’s a very groovy and lengthy track by which these ladies like to close this album. It’s very experimental and alternative and if you like the groove, then I’m sure you will like the rest of the material as well. The hidden track sounds like a mix of country and blues and it shows that these ladies are also capable of bringing out some real emotions. The album sleeve may put you into the wrong direction, because it looks very much like “Dreamboat Annie” of HEART, but this album grooves much more. You can still rock in Los Angeles and DEAP VALLY proves it. I bow for these two ladies. Website: http://www.deapvally.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DELAIN-Interlude (Napalm Records)
DELAIN were once newcomers in the rich Dutch female-fronted symphonic and gothic metal scene. The future would let us know, if they are here to stay or not. Well, I can assure you, that DELAIN is not only a stayer, but right now they almost lead the female-fronted symphonic and gothic metal scene. WITHIN TEMPTATION gradually changed their focus to a more pop and rock oriented sound, while THE GATHERING, AUTUMN and STREAM OF PASSION sound a bit more experimental. Finally, AFTER FOREVER, ORPHANAGE and most recently MAGION disbanded the scene. DELAIN and EPICA are the leading bands right now, followed by a whole lot of newbies. “Interlude” is a mix of covers, new tracks and live versions recorded at the Metal Female Voice Festival in 2012. The CD is worthy of thirteen tracks and almost fifty-five minutes of DELAIN pleasure. It starts with “Breathe On Me”, which sums up the strength of DELAIN. Symphonic soundscapes, the crystal clear vocals by singer Charlotte Wessels, powerful riffs and a heavy drum beat to support it all. DELAIN’s sound is very catchy, sometimes even radio friendly and a touch of bombast is always there when needed without being over the top. This is DELAIN in a nutshell and gathered in a compact three and a half minute song. The bombastic orchestration, of which I spoke earlier, is added in “Collars & Suits”, which is on next. Influences of NIGHTWISH, WITHIN TEMPTATION and EPICA are there and it goes too far to call them a copycat, because they have created too much of a face of their own in the past few years. “Are You Done With Me” is there in the so-called ‘new single mix’. Our conclusion is, that this will probably be their new single. A good choice, because the song is very radio friendly and easy to listen to. Then, we are getting to the chapter of the cover songs. Unfortunately, we are talking about songs I don’t have any connection with. In the eighties, I was already a firm rocker and these are more or less new wave or pop songs. I do know the original versions of course, but I think I would have been a little bit more surprised, if they’d chosen some less odd tracks to cover. However, this is just a minor detail. They start with “Such A Shame”, originally recorded by TALK TALK. DELAIN made a slightly lighter version of it, which mostly has to do with the fact that Charlotte’s voice is a lot prettier to listen to. “Cordell” is a cover by THE CRANBERRIES. A beautiful song, that could very well have been written by DELAIN. It matches their sound very well, which makes it a perfect choice. The last cover however is something else. It almost turned out as a pretty song and the DELAIN make-over really did a wonderful job. We are talking about “Smalltown Boy” of BRONSKI BEAT. A band, I really hated back in the eighties, when this song came up on the radio or television. I listened to the version of DELAIN without hesitation, but I’m afraid that the original song is still in my black book today. I simply can’t stand these guys…. Well, let’s go back to DELAIN now. The next song on this CD is called “We Are The Others”, which is being played in the so-called ‘new ballad version’, including a children choir. It’s a very nice ballad with a catchy touch. Then, the live songs are next: six in total, starting with “Mother Machine”. This is definitely one of the better DELAIN tracks for me. The band sounds a lot more heavy and dynamic, when they are playing live. “Get The Devil Out Of Me” is on next and this exorcist song shows the darker side of the band, which seems to be in good shape. The next song is called “Milk And Honey”, which is another crowd pleaser. “Invidia” opens with some nice choir vocals and sets a dark mood. The bombast returns in the heavy roaring sound, that follows thereafter. The vocals of Charlotte show some resemblance to Anneke van Giersbergen (ex-THE GATHERING) and the crowd seems to love it! “Electricity” is the next song and there’s some participation from the audience as well, who are clapping along with the refrain. “Not Enough” closes the album in a very nice way. There is a special limited package with a bonus DVD, on which you can see five live tracks, an impression of the ‘70000 Tons Of Metal Tour’, some backstage footage and video clips. For all the symphonic and gothic metal fans, this is the ultimate DELAIN treat, I guess. And this is just an “Interlude” before the new, soon to be released album “The Human Contradiction”, will hit the stores. DELAIN will tour in April with WITHIN TEMPTATION and play at many festivals in 2014, under which Summer Breeze in Germany. Don’t miss it, when they come at a town near your place. Website: http://www.delain.nl. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DEMONA-Speaking With The Devil (Inferno Records)
Did you ever get the chance to have a chat with the horned hoof? I’m not sure, but looking at the album title, these metal heads did. “Speaking With The Devil” contains eleven loud tracks that are a treat to every devoted metal head out there. The evil talk with the king of the underground lasts about forty minutes. DEMONA consists of Tanza Speed on guitar and vocals, Gabrihell on guitar, Jeff on bass and Antoine on drums. Intro “Exordium” is a short instrumental piece with influences of IRON MAIDEN. Aaaaaaarrrgggghhh! Those wrist slitting riffs of “Malvernidos” cut right through your throat. The bone hard speed metal riffs will leave no one untouched. The heavy metal monster ride continues at the same speed with another blood gutting, neck wrecking speed monster, called “Dirty Speed Metal”. What a superb title for a song like that! Halfway the song, the fingers of the guitarist must be in a knot by now and the drummer probably won’t feel any blood moving through his veins. This sounds inhuman and I guess, this is only just the beginning. Title track “Speaking With The Devil” is on next. It’s a spicy chat with a furious riff, played at high speed. The growls of Tanza sound like she’s been bitten by the beast. “Traitors” contains a nice guitar solo and then rages on at full speed. If you like bands, such as ZNOWHITE, SENTINEL BEAST and ACID, then you can dig in blindfolded, because this is not for the faint hearted. I also hear IRON MAIDEN-like guitar riffs on this one. And the talk ain’t over yet. After this, we’re talking “Bad Boy” talk here. After the intro, the female siren blasts out a loud scream. The sudden conclusion of the song sounds a bit odd in a way, but very soon we’re focused again, when the band starts up “Demona”. Which is another merciless pounder, that keeps bashing and banging and closes with an icely scream by Tanza. Then it’s time to take the gear down one notch in “Stronger Than The Hardest Stone”, an up tempo track at perfect head bangers speed. It also contains a very nice guitar solo at the end. If you think, that pounding at full speed blast is over by now, you’d better think twice, because “Mercenario” gets the speed up again and doesn’t make any compromises. “The Sorcerrer’s Escapade” gets those fists in the air one more time. The demonic voice in this song fits very well to this. But it’s impossible to find out what the very last words of Tanza are in this one. One more time I hear brutal screams, a pounding beat and flashing guitar riffs. Then it’s time for the outro, called “Cease To Exist” which is in fact a short, one minute bass guitar solo. Once again, DEMONA knows to impress me with their fast speed metal. Nobody can top this band from Quebec, Canada / Chile. Unfortunately, the interview that we’d planned for Metal Maidens, has been put on the back burner. DEMONA is a one woman project again, consisting of just Tanza Speed. Go to: http://www.facebook.com/DemonaSpeed for all the latest information about this evil woman, that spoke to mr. 666 himself. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DESTROSE-Destrose (Hagstrom/ESP)
DESTROSE is sugar sweet. Well, at least their name predicts that they are. Fructose, lactose, glucose, destrose, aren’t they all sugar sweet names? DESTROSE, the band, released their self-titled debut album. It contains ten tracks and runs a bit over forty minutes. The short instrumental opener will really put you into the wrong direction. After listening to “The Generation Of Chaos”, I would swear that I was about to listen to a Japanese all-female progressive metal band. Powerful opener “Headless Goddess” however changed my opinion right away. This is pure power metal with sometimes a thrashy riff here and there. The band contains a lot of aggression and they crank it out at full speed. “Sword Of Avenger” sounds less speedy, almost like good, solid hard rock as being played in the early eighties a lot. A firm stomping beat topped with the great vocals of Marina and a fluent guitar solo along the way. This sure is great stuff and I must admit, that there is a lot of variation in their sound. “Skykiller” doesn’t only sound like a great name, but you can move along to the metal rhythm with both fists in the air. Once again, there’s some great female vocals and some amazing double leads. A comparison with their male Japanese brothers X-JAPAN would be more than fair and not unjust. To compare them to SHOW YA would be perhaps a bit too early, but they certainly have the potential to get there eventually. “Destination” takes back some speed and adds some melody to their sound. If this is all done in the name of variation, it is fine by me. “Romancer” is not a romantic ballad at all, as the title would suggest. They have put me on the wrong track again. Instead, this is a very ballsy rocker. “Fenixx” on the other hand is the heavy single taken from this album, including a breath-taking guitar solo in the middle. There is nothing commercial about this song, but it’s plain simple and easy on the ears and therefore a good choice for a single. “Lifer 13” is definitely one of the highlights on the album for me. Great guitar work, a steady and heavy drum beat, screaming vocals and a pumping rhythm… What more can you ask for? While “Nostphilia” is another fast headbanger with some great double bass drum work. The last track is unpronounceable, but it shreds the wall paper from your living room, so who cares how the title is being pronounced. Just move your head up and down and you’ll get the idea. Another real highlight indeed with its strong beat and biting hard riffs. There is also a speed change in the middle of the song, but if you just keep banging, the girls will catch up with you soon. Keep an eye out closely for DESTROSE and if I wasn’t convinced yet, the guitar licks in this last song convinced me more than ever. Great stuff and I really would have liked to hear more, but this is it (for now). On the other hand, I’m glad that I’ve discovered this great all-female power metal band from Japan, that consists of Marina on vocals, Mina on guitar, Miho on bass, Haruna on drums and Narumi on guitar. This might be their first full-length album, but if you search well, you can find a few live albums, DVD’s and a lot of demos from this band. If these ladies kick ass, they do it well. DESTROSE, a name to remember. Website: http://www.destrose.net. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE DEVIL’S BLOOD-III: Tabula Rasa Or Death And The Seven Pilars (independent)
THE DEVIL’S BLOOD is dead, long live THE DEVIL’S BLOOD. This is their third album and it will be their last official release, because the band has broken up. It came as a real shock, when hearing that these Dutch masters of occult rock would stop making music with this outfit. Now we’ve set our goals on SELIM LEMOUCHI AND FRIENDS. There will be a live CD and a live DVD coming out in the near future, so they say, but today we will focus on this new album. It contains seven tracks and runs for sixty-five minutes. The album starts with the twenty-two minute epic occult shocker “I Was Promised A Hunt”. If you cross JEFFERSON AIRPLANE with COVEN and BLACK WIDOW, it would sound like this. The song is divided over three different parts, which are I ……and the holy cunt spewed forth abomination, II ……wielding the hammer of the death, and III …..upon the aimless path….. The song rides over several paths, that range from COVEN to JEFFERSON AIRPLANE and the last part, the instrumental closure of this long ride, could well be from PINK FLOYD. You must have a lot of guts to start your album with a lengthy track like that, but nothing is weird enough for this strange but unique outfit. They just did what they wanted and they don’t care less what other people say or think of them. It’s an outing of what THE DEVIL’S BLOOD is all about. They combine occult metal with dreamy soundscapes and all musical endeavors meet in their music. “The Lullaby Of The Burning Boy” displays their more retro sound. Psychedelic and back to the seventies, but still with that occult side lurking in the back. “If Not A Vessel?” The wah wah pedal is pressed to the metal and Farida Lemouchi’s vocals are up front in the mix. “In The Loving Arms Of Lunacy’s Secret Demons” contains some great guitar work by Selim. I must admit, that I once again discovered some PINK FLOYD influences (David Gilmour era) along the way. “Dance Of The Elements” is a longer track, in which the band stretches out more of their musical influences. It feels like getting in a ten minute musical trance. It opens with some psychedelic moments, that will get this trance going and then a slower part with the guitar alone takes you further upon the path. A path, that continues with a repetitive theme, that goes on for several minutes. Without a moment of rest, they continue in “White Storm Of Teeth” right after that. The instrumental trance is over and Farida’s vocals may wake you up again. The song sounds like an occult mantra. Maybe it’s not the most exciting piece of music, but it definitely mixes very well with the whole atmosphere on this album and the image of the band. “Tabula Rasa” closes the album in a wild and rather heavy way. Selim’s guitar shreds loud in this track and you can almost categorize this as heavy metal. When the last note fades away, you know that the story of this band is over. But the memories remain, as they say. This is for the dreamy people, but also for those of us, who turn the cross upside down and who will never cut their hair. It’s for occult rockers, for retro rockers and for those of you, who like to dream away with some essence and music in the background. It’s a pity though, that this band didn’t last longer than seven years. But like I mentioned earlier, Selim Lemouchi is not giving up his musical career. He and his sister Farida ‘Mouth Of Satan’ will continue to release stuff, that will go beyond your wildest dreams. It’s not over yet and hopefully they will keep their promise and release a live CD and DVD in the near future of this Dutch occult metal band, that was loved by many people around the galaxy and far beyond that. Note: recently, the sad news reached us, that band leader Selim Lemouchi is no longer among us! R.I.P. metal brother and thank you for all your wonderful music and inspiration! Website: http://www.thedevilsblood.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DIEMONDS-The Bad Pack (Underground Operations)
DIEMONDS was founded in 2006 in Toronto, Canada and this female-fronted outfit presents their second album, called “The Bad Pack”. It contains ten brand new tracks and thirty-five minutes of good solid hard rock. Their device is to record only winners and no fillers and it really works! Just listen to the great opener “Take On The Night”. This will surely get those heads move up and down. Their catchy songs are loud and mean and will impress you right from the start. “Lil’ Miss” continues in the same speed. Think of bands like GIRLSCHOOL, MOTLEY CRUE, GUNS ‘N’ ROSES and KISS, where DIEMONDS obviously got their influences. Their sound is ‘easy on the ear’ rock with loud guitars. “Loud ‘N’ Nasty” sounds sleazy and dirty and I do believe, that these guys and lady like it like that. No way, they want to polish up their sound. They like it loud and nasty and I totally agree with them. “Get The Fuck Outta Here” has got a great guitar solo, which sounds very impressive. This band really kicks ass! Not convinced yet? Then listen to the title track and get the message. “The Bad Pack” could be described as old school GIRLSCHOOL (hee – what a nice way of playing with words!!) with double bass drums, a crazy rhythm and some very impressive guitar licks. They will leave you in a pool of sweat afterwards. “Overboard” sounds nearly quite as brutal as the title track, but the first opportunity to take a deep breath is in the mid-tempo basher “Left For Dead”. “Livin For Tonight” is another nice example of their ‘easy in the ear’ hard rock. After two replays of this album, you will sing along to this one in no time. “Trick Or Treat” has got nothing at all to do with the HALLOWEEN classic, except that it deals with the same subject. Once again, I feel like I’m listening to the old school GIRLSCHOOL stuff here and I mean this as a huge compliment! Especially the vocals of Priya Panda sound very much alike Kim’s or Enid’s. The slowest track on the album is called “Mystery” and it is saved for last. It’s a sleazy ballad type of song, that could very well have been written by L.A. GUNS for example. The band shot video clips of “Take On The Night”, “Get The Fuck Outta Here” and “Livin’ Tonight”. When you buy the Japanese release of this great album, you’ll get them as special bonus tracks. I think, that all the die-hard rockers on this planet know what to do next. Get this ‘bad pack’ before it’s too late, because this really is a diamond in the rough! Responsible for all the heavy noise of DIEMONDS are Priya Panda on vocals, Tommy Cee on bass, Daniel DeKay on guitar, CC Diemond on guitar and Aiden Tranquada on drums. Great CD cover, by the way! Website: http:// www.diemonds.net. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

EDENBRIDGE-The Bonding (SPV/Steamhammer)
This is already the eight studio album by Austrian symphonic metallers EDENBRIDGE. Their new album “The Bonding” contains nine tracks and runs for fifty-five minutes. It starts pretty powerful in my opinion with “Mystic River”, in which we hear their symphonic sound combined with firm drum beats, a bombastic orchestration and the beautiful vocals of original singer Sabine Edelsbacher. The song is divided by a piece, in which a male choir takes over the vocal parts, after which the guitar solo starts. A nice set up to a flashing climax. “Alight A New Tomorrow” contains more bombastic orchestrations, making it very symphonic and giving it a special touch. It sounds so much less heavy and the band continues this way in “Star-Crossed Dreamer”, which is in fact a short balladesque song, in which Sabine is only accompanied by a piano in the first part of the song. Then the symphonic, more pounding part takes over and the result is a real power ballad, which sounds really magnificent to me. “The Invisible Force” is on next and the symphonic force hammers on in this one, because the band proves that they can make an awesome mix of pounding loud music and still give it a symphonic twist. I really like the guitar work in this one. The choir vocals sound bombastic, even as an orchestration, but the basis is quite heavy. “Into A Sea Of Souls” is a little piece of rest, until Lanvall takes it over and cranks out a beautiful guitar solo. “Far Out Of Reach” contains the ultimate feeling of symphonic bombast, that this band has got to offer, in my eyes. The beautiful female vocals, a full orchestration, a steady pace and yet a very catchy vibe. Of course your mind goes out to bands like NIGHTWISH or maybe even early WITHIN TEMPTATION here, but what the hack, this sounds unbelievable good to me. “Shadows Of My Memory” shows that very powerful touch, that they also have in their sound. “Death Is Not The End” has a rather questionable title, because I’ve never seen someone return from the dead, however this song is a real beauty to me. Not in the least because of the great vocals by Sabine. She really adds something special with her voice, that is called affection or emotion, which I sometimes miss in other bands in the same genre. You’d better sit down for the last song on this album. It’s a fifteen minutes master piece, that contains a vocal duet of Sabine with WET / ECLIPSE singer Erik Mårtensson. I must admit, that I really liked the instrumental part in the middle, which is absolutely breathtaking. It’s a very special closure of an excellent album, that shows, that EDENBRIDGE is here to stay. After fifteen years, they still belong to the top of the symphonic and melodic metal scene. Website: http://www.edenbridge.org. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

EDGE OF ATTACK-Edge Of Attack (Spread The Metal Records)
EDGE OF ATTACK hails from Canada and they are definitely on the attack with their self-titled debut album, which contains ten tracks and is worthy of fifty-five minutes of very powerful power metal. The band is fronted by female siren Roxanne Gordey. But there’s more. In Jurekk Whipple on lead guitar and vocals and Denver Whipple on bass, they have two other metal maidens in their line-up. Opener “In Hell” starts off with a guitar sound, that reminds me of PANTERA and BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, but it continues in the well-known HELLOWEEN, GAMMA RAY and HAMMERFALL tradition. The line-up of the band is completed by Dallas Dyck on rhythm guitar and Trevor Swan on drums, to get the picture right. “The Haunting” is on next and the powerful drum beat gives this one a very stunning sound. The guitar solo sounds mind-boggling and although the speed is much lower here, it will still get you rockin’. “Demon (Of The Northern Seas)” carries on in the best power metal tradition of the aforementioned bands, but I also hear some MANOWAR influences in the sound of these Canadian rockers, especially in the vocal parts. “Take Me Alive” has got some great parts to sing along with the band. The guitar solo is melodic and fast and it will definitely please the many power metal fans out there. “In The Night” has got a steady beat and it will rock your world. Title track “Edge Of Attack” opens with a firm drum beat and some powerful MAIDEN-like riffs. Then the speed change rushes in and you will soon feel in a power metal mood again. This will make you scream along to the song title. It’s another powerful ear attack. “Rise Above” feels like a phoenix rising from the ashes. At least, in my imagination, it does. The guitar work sounds far above average and it shreds out loud, when the drums take their part in the song. I like the groovy PANTERA-like riffs at the end of the song a lot. “Forever” is a shorty to let off some steam. Double bass drums and stunning guitar work lift this song up to far above average. However, the GAMMA RAY-like choir vocals are perhaps a bit over the top for me. “The Damned” is not only the name of this British punk band, but it also shows, that EDGE OF ATTACK has a more extreme heavy side as well. The band is helped out by Ryan Bovaird on vocals here, who is the singer of the Canadian band HALLOWS DIE. More guest singers are on the last song “Set The World Aflame”, in which we hear Pellek from the Norwegian metal band PELLEK and DAMNATION ANGELS. It’s a lengthy and very massive sound attack that will torture your ears, just the way you like it. Especially the guitar work in this song will really make you smile. At least it did, when I listened to it. Then it’s all over and I can look back at a very solid metal album, that will please a lot of fans of high quality German power metal bands. Website: http://www.edgeofattack.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

EPICA-Retrospect, 10th Anniversary (Nuclear Blast)
Wow, the tenth anniversary show of EPICA is put on two DVD’s and three CD’s in this magnificent package. Happy birthday, guys and what a wonderful gift for your fans! I’d better sit down and enjoy it at the fullest, because this is a real treat to your ears. Twenty-six songs are being played here in about three hours. Nothing can stop them now, when “Introspect” starts off and the first disc takes it away. Bombastic orchestration, choir vocals, heavy guitars, the fairy-tale has begun. “Monopoly On Truth” is the first song, that these gothic power metal heads crank out at full speed. I must admit, that I’ve always liked the clear vocals of Simone Simons, although everybody knows that I’m not too fond about those brutal grunts. However, in a bombastic atmosphere like this, they don’t really annoy me that much. After that, the band continues immediately with “Sensorium”. You can almost ‘feel’ the visual aspect, that you’re missing when listening to the audio discs. The hall explodes during some of these moments and EPICA is a real band to look at, who combines the audio aspect very well with their show elements. Then it’s time for the band to socialize a bit. Simone welcomes all the fans, who seem to come from fifty countries from all over the world. Respect for that, which sure sounds really amazing! The bombastic ear attack “Unleashed” opens with some violins, which soon rages on at high speed once it gets started. Once again, I’m really astonished by the vocal abilities of Simone. “Martyr Of The Free Wind” takes the speed up even a little bit more on this three hour ride through the musical past of one of the most influential symphonic metal bands from our country. The brutal screams are very much up front here next to Simone’s beautiful voice. “Chasing The Dragon” contains enough brutality to put it under the moniker of metal. Just check out these brutal blast beats and icely screams. CRADLE OF FILTH would be proud of a sound like that! Shortly after that, the fairy-tale like bombastic sounds takes over again. “Presto” by VIVALDI is an instrumental track and quite well-known. It matches very well to the sound of EPICA and it’s a nice interlude to “Never Enough”. This song sounds very appealing and would even be suitable for radio airplay, if not being overruled by a lot of hip hop filth and Dutch wannabes and no-hopers. In “Stabat Mater Dolorosa” the band calls Floor Jansen (REVAMP, NIGHTWISH and formerly AFTER FOREVER) on stage for some guest vocals. You don’t have to be a metal head to know that these two ladies bring out the best of themselves to do such an outstanding performance here. This sounds really amazing and fits very well to the bombastic sound of EPICA. The last song on this first CD is called “Twin Flames”, which is a very good follow up to this duet. It also contains that melodic and bombastic sound, that gives you the feeling that you’re listening to a musical, but with heavy twists and turns. EPICA at their very best, I would say! I can’t wait to hear CD two of this beautiful package. This CD represents another full hour of EPICA metal madness divided over ten songs, starting with “Serenade Of Self Destruction”. This is a musical attack with full orchestration, choirs, heavy riffs, stunning drum beats, aggressive grunts, etc. or to put it short: the whole package in ten minutes. A nice mid-piece is also added here, where you can hear some Arabian influences. It’s a special treat to their already classy sound, which fits very well to the bombastic input. Obviously, the orchestration is very important in the music of EPICA. All the more reason to highlight this in the next song. Orchestra and choir team up together in the “Orchestral Medley” with lots of strings, horns and choir vocals. For a short moment, you will almost forget, that you are listening to a gothic symphonic metal band here. “The Divine Conspiracy (Anniversary Edition)” is the perfect follow up to this instrumental interlude. It also starts with instrumental, bombastic parts and opera/choir vocals, before Simone and her band mates take over this amazing live track. Then the band pulls you down into the depths of despair, into the dark side of life with a dark song, called “Delirium”. It’s there, when Simone shows what she’s capable to do. She will astonish you with her marvelous vocal performance here. It sounds like heaven on earth. After that, it’s time to put some heavy stuff in the music again with a powerful rendition of “Black Infinity”. The audience is being asked to shout as loud as they can, when the band cranks out “The Obsessive Devotion”. For a moment, Eindhoven shakes on its foundation. “Retrospect” is a new song and exclusively written for this occasion. The next epic tune is a true masterpiece. It’s another instrumental interlude, in which you almost feel the warriors going to the battlefield to fight for their lives. “Battle Of The Heroes & Imperial March” is therefore the perfect name for a heroic piece of music, that is being brought to you here. It sounds truly amazing to me. “Quietus” is already a classic track in the EPICA back catalogue. Same goes for “The Phantom Agony” which is on next. It definitely belongs to the highlights of this night and closes this second CD. The last CD only contains six tracks, which marks the end of this show, but all in all it’s still worthy of about fifty minutes of some of the highest class gothic epic metal. It kicks off with “Cry For The Moon”, which contains a lot of grunts and high male screams, but it also has a very cool moment of participation with the audience. At the end of the song, there’s a drum solo by Ariën “The Beast’ van Weesenbeek. “Sancta Terra” continues and Floor Jansen plays a heartwarming guest role on vocals here. Then it’s time to “Design Your Universe” in a lengthy, bombastic and very epical way. That’s also a message, that we get from the band. You are the master of your own universe, so in the next ten minutes you can create a universe for yourself, in which you are the emperor and the one who decides what’s happening. A nice idea, which is translated into a beautiful musical piece. The tender closure of the song sounds breathtaking and the crowd is kindly asked, if they still want more. What do you think? It sounds like every EPICA fan has gathered here in Eindhoven tonight and the response is really fanatic and warm. “Storm The Sorrow” is the first encore of tonight. The three hours gig will reach its final chords with “Consign To Oblivion”. It explodes in your face after the intro and blows you away for the very last time. One more time there’s the icily high screams, the choir, the orchestra and the band, that has the time of their lives here on their tenth anniversary party. With “Outrospect” the band says goodbye to their audience. The magic three hours are over and everybody could witness, that EPICA is one of the best gothic metal bands in Holland and maybe even in the world at this very moment. “Retrospect” is an honest reflection of this three hour gothic metal circus, that might even sound more impressive, if you look at the DVD at the same time. This triple live CD is a must for all the fans, that’s for sure and highly recommended by yours truly. Website: http://www.epica.nl. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

EVIL LYN-The Night Of Delusions (Iron On Iron Records)
Hear the horses enter your room, an IRON MAIDEN-like riff that opens the song “The Four Horsemen” and the power, that comes from this magic, female-fronted band from Finland, called EVIL LYN. Their album “The Night Of Delusions” contains six true metal tracks, that will kick you in the teeth. The pace is fast and the guitars cry in the middle of this track. Yeah, this shit will get those heads banging, that’s for sure. The raw vocals of Johanna are the real deal and comparisons with bands like CRYSTAL VIPER and SIGN OF THE JACKAL will come to mind after this. Title track “The Night Of Delusions” is on next and rocks big time. The band is at full speed and the guitar solo is one to enjoy to the max. They still sound a bit like IRON MAIDEN, but who cares? “Last Of My Kind” closes side A of this vinyl release with another stout ear attack, that will please many metal heads out there. The speed change in the middle sounds mind-blowing and the guitar solos are even better. This is the real deal people, so bang your head!!! This track really rips you apart and we’re only halfway. On side B, the bells start playing before the first notes of “Crossroads” will enter your room. Sound effects like that always work for me. The oh-oh-oh choir chants calls for references to a band like MANOWAR maybe, but as long as EVIL LYN keeps rocking like that, you don’t hear me argue. “Silver Bullets” gallops at full speed and with “Survive The Night”, the band even cranks it up a little louder and faster. I would almost categorize this as speed metal, in case you wondered. EVIL LYN is definitely a name to remember and after a little bit more than twenty-five minutes, the album is over and in my eyes, the future looks very bright for these five true metal rockers from Finland. A couple of months ago, I found out that Johanna Rutto, the only metal maiden in the band, has left EVIL LYN. The band will continue, so don’t you cry, with a male singer though. The artwork of this LP is ultra-cool, by the way. Anyway, on this album we still hear Johanna Rutto on vocals, Jani Niemelä on drums, Anssi Salonen on guitar, Lasse Heikkilä on guitar and Marko Niemi on bass. Website: http://www.evillynband.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

EYES SET TO KILL-Masks (Century Media)
EYES SET TO KILL hails from Phoenix, Arizona. This is their fifth album, which contains thirteen tracks, worthy of forty-five minutes of post hardcore and alternative metal. Opener “Masks” is no more than a short introduction to the album. “Killing In Your Name” is a nice opener with a very catchy vibe, but I miss the brutality, that I expected to hear on this album. But wait, I screamed too early… Just listen to the brutal attack in “Lost And Forgotten”, which really takes you by surprise. It sounds like a combination of hardcore and screamcore, but no matter how they call it, I love the aggressive sound and that’s all that matters. “Where I Want To Be” slows things down a bit to normal sized chunks to bite. Again, the catchy vibe takes care of this. There is a nice balance between the louder screaming songs and the catchy more alternative songs. After that, there is a tsunami of heaviness spread out over us with “True Colours”. The groove, the guitar solo, the screaming vocals, this is what I like about bands like that. EYES SET TO KILL was founded in 2003 by the two sisters Rodriguez, who still rule with an iron fist to survive. “Surface” contains some crunchy guitar parts and I can imagine that a song like that would probably receive some radio airplay somehow. “Little Liar” could also do very well there, but this song has a certain groove and heaviness, that would make it a lot more difficult. Still, it rocks like hell and it has got that catchy feeling, that makes it easy to listen to. This is very different with a song like “Nothing Left To Say”, which sounds rather wild and brutal and could be described as screamcore to the max. I can’t stop screaming along to that song and it has become my official highlight of the album, ladies and gents. Although “Infected” is also a close call for this title. Just listen to the fast beats and crossover sounds that are spread out on this brutal and aggressive ear attack. “Secrets Between” screams it out loud again and it looks like the more aggressive scream parts are at the end of this album. The band constantly changes musical styles, but I must admit, that I like their aggressive and brutal sound most. The next song on this CD is very easy on the ears and is called “Haze”. And just when you think you’ve heard it all, they throw in another heavy weight anvil at you, that will smash your face brutally. “The Forbidden Line” sums up everything that I like about EYES SET TO KILL. Those, who love it loud can surely dig in, but others, who like a bit of melody and a less brutal sound can also lend their ear to this release. EYES SET TO KILL has got a suitable mask for every face on this album. The band consists of Alexia Rodriguez on lead guitar and vocals, Anissa Rodriguez on bass, Caleb Clifton on drums and Cisko Miranda on rhythm guitar and brutal male vocals. http://www.facebook.com/eyessettokill. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

FIRE STRIKE-Lion And Tiger (Thirteen Records)
FIRE STRIKE hails from Brazil and plays true traditional heavy metal. They simply turn back the time to the 1980’s and provide a sound similar to BLACK LACE, ACID, GRIM REAPER, CIRITH UNGOL and WARLOCK. The EP consists of five tracks and runs for twenty-five minutes. The high screams of Aline may sound very similar to Tim Baker of CIRITH UNGOL on the first track “Night Fever”. The guitar solos go on forever and Edivan Diamond cranks out some mean bass riffs. This sure receives both thumbs up from me! The band was founded in 2004 and went by the name of HOLE OF HELL at the time. About a year later they transformed into FIRE STRIKE and now they released this debut album. The double lead guitar parts in “Streets Of Fire” will raise some fists in the air for sure and will make those heads go up and down. True rockers will be in hard rock heaven, when they hear stuff like this. The constant stomping beat leaves no room to take a breath. “True As A Dream” must be about the heavy metal, that FIRE STRIKE plays. Once again, I think that the vocals of Aline sound very similar to master vocalist Tim Baker. Furthermore, they don’t have that much in common musically, but this resemblance is really striking. The French spoken word intro of “Master Of The Seas” gives the song a nice twist. Aline screams a bit more now and gives the song some extra power because of that. The high-pitches in her voice will immediately remind you of Tim Baker again. The guitar solos are really awesome and obviously, band believes in what they are doing and the way they are doing it. This reflects in the powerful way, that they play these five songs. They simply refuse to put other influences into their music other than raw, traditional true metal. “Lion And Tiger” is on next, which is the title track on the album. Besides a foot stomping rhythm and the raw vocal parts by Aline, you’ll hear the lion and the tiger roar in the very beginning of the song. The PRIEST-like double guitar riffs make no mistake that you’re dealing with some true metal heads here. FIRE STRIKE consists of Aline on vocals, Henrique Schuindt on guitars, Helywild on guitars, Edivan Diamond on bass and Jean Prealii on drums. Website: http://www.firestrike.com.br. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

SAMANTHA FISH-Black Wind Howlin’ (Ruf Records)
SAMANTHA FISH has been part of the 2012 BLUES CARAVAN and now she comes with her own solo album, which is called “Black Wind Howlin’”. An album, that explores the world of the blues with the raunchy guitar sound of Samantha as shining central figure of it all. Just listen to the fantastic opener, she has in mind for us on this twelve track album, that runs for fifty-five minutes. It’s a song called “Miles To Go” and it will remind you of any great shuffle by STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN, RORY GALLAGHER or whatever other great guitar player from the past. A great opener indeed, which is followed by a song called “Kick Around”, which could have been written by BOB SEGER & THE SILVER BULLIT BAND. It’s a nice rocker with some nice guitar licks, that would also work for a Southern rock outfit, such as THE GEORGIA SATTELITES for example. Definitely a great track in my opinion. “Go To Hell” is a song title, which you would expect from a band like MOTÖRHEAD, but SAMANTHA uses it with pride, too. The song was co-written by Mike Zito and it takes you right back the sound of the Southern swamps. The dark male voice fits like a glove, although the angelic voice of Samantha might be a bit too sweet for a dark tale like that. However, the groove and the dark sound makes up for that quite well, I think. After three rockers, it’s time for a steamrolling blues track, called “Sucker Born”, which also includes a mouth organ. “Over You” is a typical love song. The blues is all about forgotten loves or broken relationships, so it would be rather strange, if there wouldn’t be a love song like that on this album. “Who’s Been Talking” is a cover of HOWLIN’ WOLF. This might explain the title of the album, which could be a tribute to this legendary blues artist. “Lay It Down” is a nice shuffle with more good guitar work. “Let’s Have Some Fun” has got a rather old fashioned sound, which you would expect from one of those grey haired dark faced gentlemen, who invented the blues a long time ago, rather than somebody like Samantha. It’s a nice authentic piece of work with a laid back atmosphere to it. While “Heartbreaker” has got some nice slide guitar solos on it. It sounds a bit sleazy and it’s a nice variation to the previous track. I must admit, that I’d expected more flaming guitar work here. And just when this crossed my mind, there’s this nice groovy track called “Foolin’ Me”, which gave me what I wanted. Title track “Black Wind Howlin’” is on next and the guitar solos are just yummie! This is by far one of the best songs on the album for me. Just listen to the solo, that seems to go on forever. It cranks, squeels, peeps, roars and shreds the way I like it and it really sounds amazing! The country rock / fiddle song “Last September” would not have been my choice to be here, but it sure adds some variation to the album, that probably won’t appeal to many metal heads out there. But it’s surely interesting and good enough to review it in this section. Besides Samantha, we hear Mike Zito on guitar and vocals, Yonrico Scott on drums, Charlie Wooton on bass and as special guests Paul Thorn on vocals, Johnny Samsone on harmonica and Bo Thomas on fiddle. Website: http://www.samanthafish.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LITA FORD-The Bitch Is Back Live (SPV)
LITA FORD was once a runaway, but many years ago she already proved, that she could stand on her own two feet. It has been a bumpy road for her though, that didn’t always move along the paved paths. Her marriage failed, although this seemed to help her come back even stronger than before. Prove is given on this live album, called “The Bitch Is Back Live”, which contains twelve cool rockers and runs for nearly a full hour. The CD booklet shows Lita between all of her stage gear, including some of her beautiful BC Rich guitars, which is a very cool picture to start with. Maybe it’s an odd decision to start your show with a cover of ELTON JOHN, who wrote the original of “The Bitch Is Back”, but the statement is clear and the band will rock the house after that. “Hungry” (taken from her album “Stiletto” in 1990) shows that she’s on the prowl. “My nylons are melting down my legs”, no one ever said that to me. She’s not only hungry for sex, but she’s also hungry for rock and the wild guitar solo confirms that. “Relentless” is a new song and I must admit, that it follows the structure that Lita spreads out on her former albums. It’s catchy yet heavy and it contains some great heavy guitar work by Lita and her partner-in-crime on this live CD, Mitch Perry (MICHAEL SCHENKER, TALAS, HEAVEN, STEELER). “Living Like A Runaway” is not only the title track of her latest solo album, but it’s also the story of her life in a nutshell. She says so, in the introduction of this song. “Devil In My Hand” is also new and again we hear an ‘easy on the ear’ track with a groovy guitar sound and that catchy vibe, that will soon turn this one into a crowd’s favorite. “Back To The Cave” has some great guitar work, which brings us back to the early days. One of my personal faves here is the song that she wrote together with good ol’ Lemmy (MOTÖRHEAD, you bastards!), because “Can’t Catch Me” is killer heavy metal song. It’s fast, it’s furious and has some kind of vibe that sounds like “Overkill”, which sounds really amazing. Dig it: this is possibly one of the heaviest shit she has ever written. “Out For Blood” reminds her of THE RAMONES and I can’t agree more. A true statement and this is a nice salute to these four punk rockers indeed. “Dancing On The Edge” needs no further introduction, which is also the title track of her second solo album. Another crowd’s favorite, that’s for sure. The dark side of Lita will get in the spotlight here as well with a new track from her previous album “Living Like A Runaway”, which is called “Hate”. Boy, there must be a lot of hate in this ladies mind, but I sure hope, that she will get over it soon. “Close My Eyes Forever” is probably one of the biggest hit singles, that Lita has ever had with Ozzy Osbourne. A very sensitive ballad, but one that many artists hoped they had written themselves. Anyway, Lita sure did it and she cranks it out here with the audiences singing the parts, that the madman does on the original studio version. The last song is another loud rocker, that deals about getting laid. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more. “Kiss Me Deadly” closes this fantastic live album. Yep, the bitch is back and she sure cranks it out on this amazing album. I hope, that she will make it to Holland one day, because it has been too long since she has been playing here with her band. Until that happens, we are able to enjoy her on this album, which also contains many great live pics on the inlay. Among these pix is at least one of our good friend Eddy Vermeiren, who saw her on a metal cruise somewhere on the shores of Florida. Besides Lita and Mitch, the band consists of Marty O’ Brien on bass and Scot Coogan. Website: http://www.litafordonline.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DANA FUCHS-Bliss Avenue (Ruf Records)
DANA FUCHS presents her new album, which is called “Bliss Avenue”. Twelve brand new blues tracks will enter your room in about forty-five minutes. The blues in all its shapes will pass by here. The slow blues for those people, who are downhearted and the blues for those, who enjoy life at the fullest, it’s all there. Title track “Bliss Avenue” is a short pounder, which makes me very happy musically, but it sure has got a downhearted and dark undertone as well. “How Did Things Get This Way” is a more raunchy kind of blues, which reminds you of ladies such asJANIS JOPLIN and SASS JORDAN. Dana’s voice does do very well in songs like that. Her raw voice needs a heavy blues rock song like that. The lady sure covers a lot of different styles here, because “Handful Too Many” is a soulful song, which has got a country rock basis. It swings, it rocks, but there’s nothing left of the raspy raunchy atmosphere, that’s present in the previous song. Maybe a little at the very end of this song. “Livin On Sunday” is another feel good song, that may remind you of another woman, that also comes close to the sound of Dana in my opinion, BETH HART. It could very well be a BETH HART song for many reasons. It has the same catching feeling, that Beth has in her music. It invites you to sing along, once you’ve heard it. “So Hard To Move” is a nice love song, which slows things down a bit. It shows us the emotional side of this lovely lady. Same goes for “Daddy’s Little Girl”, but in a different way. This song sounds a bit lighter, but it has also got a country background. Obviously, Dana uses more different music styles on this album and shows, that she can do much more than just singing the blues. Just listen to the faster “Rodents In The Attic”, which is a lovely country rock song with a nice swing to spice up your life. “Baby Loves The Life” is about love and it could be very suitable for radio airplay. “Nothing On My Mind” sounds like a make-over of “Save The Last Dance For Me” of THE DRIFTERS. “Keep On Walking” has got soul and invites you to move and dance along to the sound of the music. It has a lot of power and Dana really impresses me here again. “Vagabond Wind” contains a lot of emotion and she really knows how to handle this very well. “Long Long Game” takes this new album to a closure. I think, you will have to play it several times to get the hang of it. It sure has become a musical journey through the world of blues, soul and country rock music, that has got its dark sides and even some sunny moments, which are nicely divided over twelve songs here. Dana’s band consist of John Diamond (JOAN OSBORNE) on guitar, Jack daley on bass, Shawn Pelton drums, Glenn Patscha on organ and keyboards, Tabitha Fair on background vocals and Nicki Richards on background vocals. Website: http://www.danafuchs.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

GALMET-Dawn Of The Rebellion (independent)
We try to follow the Japanese metal scene as good as possible, because there is so much talent there and lots of bands to explore. This time we ran into the all-female fivesome band GALMET from Osaka, that presents their second full-length album “Dawn Of The Rebellion”. In a little bit over forty minutes, we hear a very diverse style of Japanese melodic death metal, which is definitely very interesting to listen to. Opener “Before The Beginning” will put your mind into the wrong direction though. Judging by the sound of this short instrumental opener, I was about to expect a neo-classical power metal band. Nothing of this is true. Well, at least not in opener “Promised Dawn”, which sounds more like a melodic version of ARCH ENEMY. “Spirit Of Fire” contains the rawness of ARCH ENEMY and leaves out the melodic touch. Same goes for “Keep Your Faith”. You almost can’t imagine that there is so much aggression in these young girls, that may not have such a heavy image at all judging by the pics on the rearside of their CD. Mikky screams loud and her grunting is at least as brutal as Angela Gossow of ARCH ENEMY. What a nice surprise! Like I mentioned before, there is so much talent in Japan to explore, mainly because you’ve never heard about them in Europe, but once you do, you will never let go and follow their career thoroughly. “Road To The Legend” grinds it down pretty well and in “What’s Mine?” we hear some awesome guitar shredding. It’s amazing how this melodic death metal grabs you by the balls. Just listen to the horror screams at the end of this track. It will make your flesh creep. The absolute speed crusher here is called “Dreamer”, which didn’t quite receive the title, that you would suggest for a speedy death metal track like that. There is even a short drum solo in here. These ladies do it their way and I like this controversial way of thinking a lot. They scream like they mean it, but they are not afraid to but a melodic touch to their songs as well. Just listen to a nice example of that in “Eternal Rain”. Good guitar work, but still with a more or less melodic touch. Same goes for “Bullet For Undead” that will appeal to many metal heads out there. “Unchained Love” is another speedy tune, but they also put some speed changes in the track to give it more variation. Never a dull moment with GALMET and they surprised me many times with their women’s power metal. The CD closes with a live version of “Last Words”, which shows that these five ladies also know how to overpower us with their brutal sound in a live setting. GALMET consists of Mikky on vocals, Ruki on guitar, Idyako on drums, Ama on bass and Agano on guitar. If you dig the sound of a more melodic ARCH ENEMY style, than you’d better start searching for this nice masterpiece, that took me by surprise. You can still rock in Osaka, that’s for sure after hearing this album. Website: http://galmethp.web.fc2.com/ [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN-Drive (Inside Out Music/PIAS)
When Anneke left THE GATHERING, I started to respect her even more. Her voice is so beautiful, she is so down to earth and she can really handle every possible style. Her solo album may not be extremely loud or heavy, but I’m able to enjoy her voice now even more than ever. “Drive” is her new solo album and it contains ten brand new tracks, that play for almost forty minutes. “We Live On” is a solid rock song, up tempo and easy on the ear without being commercial. “Treat Me Like A Lady” sounds quite heavy and grabs back to the latter sound of THE GATHERING in a way. The break in the middle takes us to the instrumental part of the song with some nice guitar work. “She” sounds like a nice pop song with a more powerful refrain. Title track “Drive” could very well receive some radio airplay on the national radio maybe. Not that it sounds like the average shitty songs, that they play there, but it has got a very catchy drive, a stomping beat and it’s quite easy to sing along to the ‘hey-ho’ parts. “My Mother Said” is a tender love song, where Anneke is accompanied by a piano in the beginning. What a beauty. “Forgive Me” is another light track, which is one hundred percent Anneke as we know her best. “You Will Never Change” has got more power and contains a steady beat. “Mental Jungle” has an Eastern atmosphere. Main reason for that might be the cooperation with Hayko Cepkin, a Turkish rock star, that does a duet with the lady with the golden throat here. “Shooting For The Stars” is another nice rock song, which sounds very easy on the ear. I must admit, that “Drive” rocks more, than I’d expected, which is good to hear. The last song on the album is called “The Best Is Yet To Come”, which rocks out pretty firmly. Just listen to the heavy drum beats there. “Drive” is a nice album to listen to, mainly because of the voice of Anneke, which is so recognizable but she also has got some gifted musicians in her band, like Rob Snijders on drums, Annelies Kuijsters on keyboards, Joost van Haaren on bass, Ferry Duijsens on guitar and Gijs Coolen on guitar. Website: http://www.aguadeannique.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BETH HART & JOE BONAMASSA-Seesaw (Provogue)
The musical cooperation between female singer BETH HART and guitar player extraordinaire JOE BONAMASSA receives a follow up album in “Seesaw” with ten new tracks, worked out by this twosome in about fifty minutes. Opener “Them There Eyes” is an old classic in the best jazz / big band tradition. I must say, that I liked it a lot. It swings and it shows us from the start, that there are no boundaries or whatsoever for the various music styles we are about to witness on this album. “Close To My Fire” contains horns and it sounds best, when the lights are dimmed very low. It’s a slow bluesy track with the sensual voice of Beth, which she does very well. The guitar solo is just what you would expect from Joe and this sure sounds like a match made in heaven. “Nutbush City Limits” needs no further introductions, I guess. TINA TURNER turned this song into a hit single, that has been covered by many bands already and you can add this twosome to the long list as well. What more is there to say about this one? Maybe that I expected less horns on here, but hey what can I say? “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know” is a slow blues track, which contains a lot of emotion and more beautiful guitar work by Joe. It really tears all and everything apart there. The song is originally by AL KOOPER. “Can’t Let Go” sounds like a gospel track, that reminded me of “Bible Baby” by DANA FUCHS. “Miss Lady” contains a big horns section and it really has got that big band style in the beginning of this song. Then it’s time for Joe to put some guitars to this, which really adds something here. The song bears a lot of soul as well, because of the raspy vocal sound of Beth. The original of this track comes from BUDDY MILES, by the way. “If I Tell You I Love You” is on next and it sounds like a Russian love song. Quite different to the previous track, that we heard. I also think, that this is the strength of these two people. They are not afraid to do something extravagant or different. “Rhymes” is a nice Al Green song with lots of soul and horns. “A Sunday Kind Of Love” is just what the title suggests: it’s a little song on a lazy Sunday morning with nothing on your mind and the rain pouring down from the sky. It’s written by LOUIS PRIMA. “See Saw” is the title track of the album with some great axe work by the man himself. “Strange Fruit” can be seen as the odd one out maybe. It’s a nice song, which sounds very psychedelic and dark, but it doesn’t really fit to the rest of the material. However, like I mentioned before, there is a lot of variation in styles on this album and there might be some songs that you won’t enjoy as much as the rest maybe. There is something for everybody and I think that is the strength of Beth and Joe. If you buy the limited version of the album, you’ll be able to enjoy an bonus DVD with a ‘making of’ section of almost fifty minutes and three music videos. A nice addition to another fine album byJOE BONAMASSA and BETH HART. Website: http://www.hartandbonamassa.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HELLCATS-Warrior Princess (independent)
HELLCATS are an all-female metal band from Slovenia, Ljubljana to be exact. After the release of a five track EP, we’re now ready for their debut album, called “Warrior Princess”. The four ladies kick off with the RUNAWAYS-like “Hellcats”. It reminded me a bit of a rougher version of “Wild Thing”. The band consist of four lovely looking ladies, called Sasha Zagorc on bass and backing vocals, Sonja Zagorc on drums and backing vocals, Katja Mavec on guitar and Ajda Kovačič on vocals. “Master Of The Night” sounds very powerful and with good guitar work. “Now Is My Time” is catchy and it shows that this band could be capable of hitting the local charts with their music. Although the guitar solo in this song will probably prevent this to happen, I’m afraid. “Viking” is dedicated to the warriors of the north, including an acoustic intro. You can sing along to it, if you want to. Then it’s time to bang your head and shout your lungs out on “Proud To Be Loud”. The song was written by Marc Ferrari, well-known for his work with MEDICINE WHEEL, COLD SWEAT and KEEL. It might be a cliché title, but it works just fine here and the mind-blowing guitar solo is a definite killer, too. “Warrior Princess” is also ready to shout along to. The vocal parts of Ajda on this one are a bit monotone, but in the choir vocal parts it’s just fine. Just shout along to it, if you like. “Heavy Metal”, the title alone, explains what to expect from these ladies. It sounds like old GIRLSCHOOL, especially the vocal lines. Musically, it tends to lean a bit more towards ROCK GODDESS though. “Demon Dreams” unveils their wildest dreams. These ladies dream about demons, that are lurking in the dark. And they even sing about them. Great guitar work opens “Stillness In Time”, but the speed goes down directly after the intro. A nice footstomper remains after that and it has a good guitar solo. The best song is saved for last with the heavy pounding “Steelrider”. I can imagine, that you want to know more about these Slovenian HELLCATS now. You can go to: http:// www.hellcats.eu and visit their website. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HEMORAGY-The Thirst World War (Misantrof ANTIRecords)
HEMORAGY hails from France and consists of Johannes Musslin on guitar and vocals, Lynda Siewicz on bass, Steve Musslin on drums and Victor Rosan on guitar. This new album contains ten tracks and runs about forty minutes.This is their fourth album, after they released “Headbang Till Death” in 2010, “Jesus King Of Wine” in 2007 and “First Blood” in 2004. The CD opens with “The Crazy Race”, which starts up this fast roller coaster ride. The speedy tune contains some awesome guitar riffs, that will make you long for more. You’ll get what you want in “The Cockroach Man”, which is a real slam in your face. Another speed monster unveils itself. Think about ANTHRAX in their heydays: bashing monster drums, fast guitar riffs and raw vocal lines. “Machination” sounds different and may lean a bit towards hardcore, besides the pounding drums and awesome guitar parts. The vocals sound like a machine gun fire here. “The Coffintrap” is on next and more masterly axe work enters your room. This is the stuff we want to hear. “1518” is made to jump around and go crazy. In my mind, I can see the full mosh pit already. “Galia Comata” is another pounding track, but this time with French lyrics. Right thereafter is the second French track, called “Los Mariachis De La Muerte”. “Turning Into A Man” sounds a bit more in the MEGADETH style, because of the very low vocals by Johannes. This low vocal sound continues in “Evil Sausage” which gives the band an even more MEGADETH type of sound. It’s a slower tune, but they can handle this just fine. And before you know it, we’ve arrived at the very last song on this amazing album. It’s the title track with the tongue-in-cheek title “The Thirst World War” and it has some merry go round like melodies popping up every now and then. It’s the same idea that ANTHRAX used in “Gung Ho”. After forty powerful minutes, the game is over and you’re dying for something to drink. The funny cover of this album fits very well to the funny title and the music. I think, I give it another spin or two and get drunk. Website: http://www.hemoragy.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HIGHWAY-Prediccion Fatal (Barahinda Records)
Let’s go down to Colombia to meet this all-female true metal band, called HIGHWAY. Their classic metal sound will knock you off your feet and the fourteen songs are worthy of over fifty minutes of heavy metal, the way you like it. In opener “Esfera De La Oscuridad”, we’re able to enjoy a sound, that comes close to a mix of WARLOCK, IRON MAIDEN and JUDAS PRIEST. “Sueño Entre Sombras” pounds hard and heavy and the only minus is the fact that all the lyrics are in the Spanish / Portuguese language. But as music is a universal language, you won’t mind that much, I guess. “Por El Metal” continues with some heavy riffs and brutal drum beats. Their power metal will make you throw your fists in the air. “Ave Del Camino” contains good guitar work and another steady galloping beat. The icely high screams at the end of this song will make your flesh creep. “Highway” opens slowly and then takes off in the fourth gear with some flashing guitar riffs. It’s definitely one of the highlights here, mainly because of the great axe work, which is really mind-blowing! “Esclavos Del Dolor” will remind you of JUDAS PRIEST, if it was only for the first seconds of this great song. It even invites you to sing along, but only if your Spanish is fine, which isn’t the case with me, I’m afraid. “Viajero Sin Tempo” is a ballad type of song with a slightly emotional atmosphere, although it doesn’t sound that dark. “Rueda De La Fortuna” is definitely a war song with MANOWAR-like oh-oh-oh chants. In title track “Prediccion Fatal”, the band uses brutal grunts, which isn’t my cup of tea. I hope, that this won’t be part of their sound in the near future. It just doesn’t belong to the true metal sound, that they are playing. The rest of the vocal lines remind me of MANILLA ROAD in a way. The guitar solo is very well done. Same goes for the guitar solo in “Guerreros Del Fuego”, which sounds like they are being chased by a bunch of wildebeests. “Viajero Sin Tempo” is a song, you’ve heard before. It’s now being captured in an acoustic version as well. If this isn’t enough yet, the real fans are in for another treat. The whole “Rainy Days” demo has been included here, starting with the title track “Rainy Days”. What strikes me most is the English language, but the metal sound is still true and pounding. Maybe it’s just a bit more unpolished. “Ave Del Camino” is also on the album, that we just reviewed here. The CD closes with “Heavy Rock”, a great title for an album that stands for true heavy rock and which is a real pleasure to listen to for every devoted metal head out there. If this ain’t enough, just put the CD in your PC and you’ll be able to enjoy the video of “Sueño Entre Sombras” as a bonus. This is the perfect album on the highway to hell. You can still rock in Colombia, that’s our conclusion right now. HIGHWAY consists of Lina de la Parra on bass, Yimark Gonzalez on vocals, Carolina Portela on guitar and Tatiana Rico on drums. Website: http://www.facebook.com/highwaygirls. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HUNTRESS-Starbound Beast (Napalm Records)
My first impression of the new HUNTRESS CD is the sleeve of course and this looks freaking fabulous! Let’s hear, what Jill Janus and her boys has in mind for us musically this time. The album contains eleven tracks and runs a bit over forty-five minutes. The MAIDEN-like instrumental opener “Enter The Exosphere” might suggest, that the band is sailing on a more melodic sea right now and by judging the first song “Blood Sisters”, then this might be a good conclusion. Although there are some very brutal female growls here as well. The comparison with IRON MAIDEN isn’t too bad of a choice for this first track, I must confess. Not a totally one on one clone of course, but the average IRON MAIDEN fan could relate to this I guess, although the brutal growls are definitely HUNTRESS’ trademark. “I Want To F*ck You To Death” is co-penned by Lemmy. Who else could co-write a song like that? I must admit though, that it doesn’t really differ that much from the previous song or am I wrong? It contains a lot of power and that’s always good. “Destroy Your Life” is definitely MAIDEN and now I’m sure my ears don’t lie to me. The first guitar parts are unmistakable MAIDEN, but you won’t hear me complain, because I love it like that! The great screams of Jill can destroy glasses, so be careful with listening to this record if you’re drinking a cold beer or coke. Just listen to the high screams that she pulls out here. “Starbound Beast” is the title track of the album and by far one of the best songs on the album. Just listen to the great guitar work in this track. Once again there are some high pull outs by Jill and at the end of the song, the mood swings go over in a more doomy sound, that keeps rolling on until the song is over. After that, they put the gear in fourth position and blast it out with “Zenith”. It’s a great speed monster, which still has got a melodic touch except that it’s hidden better. “Oracle” is on next and it rages on at full speed. The sound is a bit spacey at times and I think, this is a reflection of the ‘concept’ this album follows. “Receiver” has got a natural, powerful flow and pounds pretty hard, although the sound in Jill’s voice does give you that spacey feeling, I can’t explain. “Spectra Spectral” opens with a PRIEST type of riff and pounds on at that same late seventies PRIEST style. “Alpha Tauri”, which is pictured on the CD cover as well, is something special. It’s a lengthy track with CATHEDRAL-like vocals. The song tends to lean towards a doomy and stoner type of sound with links to the sun, the sky and the moon. And in the middle of the song Jill is slowly floating away on a pink (Floyd) cloud and she seems to be in a higher sphere for a while, until the guitars start to cry again. My mind goes out to the good old sound of URIAH HEEP, which means that I like what I hear. Although some fans might think that she’s lost it right now. Just be patient and wait until the guitar explosion comes at the end of the song. This sure sounds great! Just to get the record straight, HUNTRESS closes the album with the JUDAS PRIEST cover “Running Wild”. All noses point into the right direction right away and I guess that with this cover Jill Janus and HUNTRESS want to make a statement, that they haven’t derived from their true metal sound, although there are still some nice sidesteps to be heard on this album. I think, it’s for the good of it, because I like this new album a lot. Besides the blonde vixen Jill Janus on vocals, HUNTRESS consists of Blake Meahl on guitars, Ant ‘Pockets’ Crocamo on guitars, Ian Alden on guitars and Carl Wierzbicky on drums. If this more occult and spacey sound will also appeal to the people, who bought “Spell Eater” remains to be seen. This is written in the stars. Website: http://www.huntresskills.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

IGNITOR-Mixtape ‘85 (independent)
This (download) album just missed a place in the highest ranks of my personal faves top 15 of 2013. Man, what a brutal compilation album this is! IGNITOR cranks out eight covers in thirty minutes and they do it with an enormous tsunami of power and energy, like we’re used to of these Texas metal heads. It’s a long flashback to the past, on which you can sing along to all the tracks, because you will all know them by heart. But why worry, because Jason McMaster is a perfect singer, who knows to handle these vocals, so all you have to do is to back him up with your own personal fills. The thirty minutes flashback opens with “Deathrider”, originally recorded by ANTHRAX. Fasten your seatbelts, step into the time machine with IGNITOR and become a “Deathrider” as well. “Fast As A Shark” comes with a different intro, but then it rips your head off at full speed. What a great power, icely high screams and great double leads. IGNITOR leaves you no other choice than to keep moving your head up and down to the beat of “Violence And Force” by EXCITER. Just raise your fist, when they shout out the title of the song. It’s all you have to do to feel good. Great powerful drums, that will definitely remind you of Dan Beehler, who sang the original, while smashing his poor drum kit. A jolly sounding guitar fiddle opens unmistakable one of the highlights on this mini CD “Into The Coven”, originally recorded by MERCYFUL FATE. The high screams of KING DIAMOND are not too much of a problem for Jason. It makes you dying back to the days of the original songs for sure. The demo sound of the underground scene is on next. From the very depths of hell comes the VENOM cover “Witching Hour”, which is another personal favorite of mine. An IGNITOR cover CD without a JUDAS PRIEST cover would be heavy without metal. “Hell Bent For Leather” might be an obvious choice, but this song just says it all. The feeling you get, when you are listening to all these tracks. It’s a killer album, which brings back a lot of sentiment and a feeling of desire to go back to the old days. If this is what they have been aiming for, they have succeeded big time. It’s “A Lesson In Violence” by teacher IGNITOR and originally recorded by EXODUS of course. And if this isn’t enough, they take back to the seventies as well here with “Highway Star” of Deep Purple as the last song on the CD. Man, what a release! Unfortunately, you won’t be able to find a hard copy of “Mixtape ‘85”, because this is ‘download only’. So search for this amazing compilation of songs by this marvelous Texas metal band on the internet and relive the old days in half an hour. It will be worth to search for it. IGNITOR consists of Pat Doyle on drums, Brendon Bigelow on bass, Beverly Barrington on guitar, Stuart ‘Batlord’ Laurence on guitar and Jason McMaster on vocals. If this won’t get you banging your head, then my name is Pope John Paul III. http://www.ignitorband.com will bring you all the news about this fantastic metal band from Texas. I don’t know if the chief-editor will be pleased, but I give this an extra high score, because this is the real deal. [12 points - FULL SCORE+2] (Toine van Poorten)

IRON KINGDOM-Gates Of Eternity (independent)
I’m always extremely curious, when a band gets on the bill of Keep It True in Germany. This band from Canada plays there in 2014 and we will definitely see them there. This time, I will check out their second album, that is worthy of nine heavy metal songs and plays for about fifty-five minutes. Better be aware, when you enter these “Gates Of Eternity”, because a heavy dose of true metal is coming your way. I already liked their debut album “Curse Of The Voodoo Queen” from 2011 and they really impressed me there. Now we’re almost three years later and I’m so damn curious about these nine new tracks. Of course your thoughts will immediately go out to SKULL FIST at first. Canada, a female drummer, true metal, get the picture? But when you listen to the album with an open mind, these similarities appear to be just a coincidence. What strikes me most is, that the album sleeve looks a lot better than their debut album. This drawing looks pretty cool! The album starts off, when the band is standing “At The Gate”. Will they enter or not? Of course they will enter and then the heavy ride starts. The traditional metal riffs sound as dynamic, as I’d expected them to be. Some influences of MANILLA ROAD are there and they can see that as a big compliment. The screams and speed changes are very surprising and the guitar solo sounds truly amazing. What a great opener! “Chains Of Solitude” is another lengthy ear attack with a high MANILLA ROAD level, which is mainly caused by the vocal sound of Chris Osterman, who also plays lead guitar and the epical interpretation of the songs. The epic level is raised on “Demon Of Deception”, where a powerful start is being mixed with a slowdown instrumental part in the middle, which slowly builds itself up to the guitar solo and a great powerful climax. Fans of the early IRON MAIDEN and RUSH songs will love this, I guess. “Candalero” may sound a bit odd, but I guess that it’s meant as a nice break between the songs and it also kind of breaks the album in two. It’s a short instrumental song on piano that actually doesn’t really belong on a heavy metal record, but I’ve heard stranger things, so they receive the benefit of the doubt for that. And it definitely has got an epic feel that was already to be heard on some of the previous songs as well. “Guardian Angel” is one of the highlights of the album for me, mainly because of the mighty guitar licks, that really split your skull in half. The powerful drum sound is a mighty fine feeling and it beats heavily in your stomach area. “At Home In The Dark” is a speedy track, that follows a more IRON MAIDEN-like approach, but the power remains the same. Just listen to the sound after the speed break and at the end. MAIDEN couldn’t have done that any better. “Crowned In Iron” contains loud screams, a heavy beat and has got that epic feeling again. Then the lengthy “Egypt (The End Is Near)” rolls in, which runs for fifteen minutes and is mainly instrumental. The Steve Harris bass sound is definitely there and your thoughts will directly go out to “The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner”, as far as the song structure goes. This is indeed a great song and the thunderous drum beats are really amazing. Remember Scott Columbus of MANOWAR? The guitar sound is very MAIDEN influenced as well. It’s like a trip through Egypt, which has many faces. And you’ll see them all back on this musical trip. I feel that the end is near, because after this the album closes with a short song, called “Shadow Of Death”, which is a nice little fellow that lurks in the dark and attacks, when you least expect it. Before you know it, the album is over and you walk through the “Gates Of Eternity” again. I must admit, that I loved the enthusiasm and wild explosions on their debut album very much and it’s hard to decide which album is better. Both the albums are true, traditional metal to the max and I will reward this one with a full score. I hope, that IRON KINGDOM will fulfil my expectations at Keep It True in April. I will definitely be in the first row to scream my lungs out for them. IRON KINGDOM consists of Chris Osterman on vocals and lead guitar, Amanda Osterman on drums, piano and vocals, Leighton Holmes on bass and vocals and Kenny Kroecher on guitars. Website: Http://www.iron-kingdom.com. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

IZEGRIM-Congress Of The Insane (Listenable Records)
This is the fourth full-length album by Dutch thrash and death metallers IZEGRIM and each time I hear more progress in their sound. This album contains eleven new tracks and has a running time of about forty-five minutes. The band sounds as brutal as ever and “Relic Of The Past” is the perfect opener here. “Decline And Fall” sounds like the beast is bashing into your head with an axe. The brutal vocals of Marloes will make Angela Gossow look pale around the nose. When the riffs fade away, you are glad that you have survived this galloping attack with the rhinoceros force. “Celebratory Gunfire” contains riffing guitars, that sound like a machine gun. “Endless Strive” sounds darker and the guitar solos rip the flesh from your skin, because they are as sharp as a lancet. You can’t escape them, because they come with many, before the band switches to a more doomy beat. “Deterioration From Perfection” is a fast song to get you back in the right speed level for “Unchallenged Dominance”. Marloes screams her lungs out on this one. In “Modern Day Freak”, we hear a connection with the CD sleeve, which looks awesome to me. You just won’t dare to go to a fun fair or circus anymore after seeing this. Help!! The clown took our child away. In the meantime, the freak tortures his guitar loudly and explodes in a salvo of naughty solos. I like it that way. “The Legion” is ready for duty next and they only have one mission: to kill with speed. Mission accomplished, I would say. The last three songs also have a link to the CD sleeve. “Carousel Of Death”. Wanna take a ride? I don’t think that you will dare, because you are on a creepy fun fair and this might be your final experience. More thrashy sounds are on the “Manifest Of A Megalomaniac”. In some reviews I read a comparison with ARCH ENEMY, but I think that IZEGRIM sounds more brutal and straight forward. The last song is called “Carnival Of Deception”. I think, that when this song will be played on the many carnival parties in our country, it will definitely turn into one big deception. So let’s keep this brutal force for the heavy metal alliance alone. IZEGRIM has settled themselves lonely at the top of the Dutch thrash and death metal scene with this new album, which is a must have for every extreme metal fan out there. IZEGRIM consists of Marloes on bass and brutal vocals, Jeroen on guitar, Bart on guitar and Ivo on drums. They welcome you on their “Congress Of The Insane”, which you can visit at http://www.izegrim.nl [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS-Unvarnished (Blackhearts Record Group)
I can’t complain that much, because my chief-editor is constantly looking over my shoulder, when it concerns THE RUNAWAYS and the solo endeavours of these ladies. The only thing she will agree with me is, that Joan Jett, Lita Ford and Cherie Currie need to visit Holland a bit more often. Or perhaps even better by playing a reunion concert with THE RUNAWAYS. Big question would remain: who would be the drummer, since Sandy West is simply irreplaceable. Nothing of this all is the matter in this review. What we do have here though is the new album by JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS with fourteen tracks and about fifty highly enjoyable rocking minutes. “Any Weather” opens the album, that comes in a gatefold sleeve. It’s co-penned by Dave Grohl of NIRVANA and FOO FIGHTERS fame. The song itself is one in the category, that will make you want to sing along to it from scratch. It’s a rock and roll song with a RAMONES punk attitude to it. And of course the necessary handclap parts are there, too. Actually, you can put “TMI” in the same category, my dear readers. “Soulmate To Strangers” is a love song in the well-known pattern. It could be a lost song from any of her previous albums. One with some male choir vocals and a very melodic approach. “Make It Back” sounds very punky and contains a nice guitar solo. This is really the style of the good old Joan. It contains a nice hook, that will be loved by all her die-hard fans, I guess. “Hard To Grow Up” is ‘easy on the ears’ rock with a message. Yep indeed, it’s hard to grow up. I’m fifty-one years old and I still didn’t grow up. I know, I have to hurry, if I want to grow up before I die. This song tells you all the details. “Fragile” is not a fragile song at all. It’s a nice rocker, in my opinion. After that, it’s time to sing along in a wild song, called “Reality Mentality”. Just listen to the loud guitars here. Just sing the title, when Joan does and it will enter your mind a whole lot quicker. “Bad As We Can Be” rocks your world in a way, that only Joan does. The beat of “Different” is very recognizable. It features the drum sound, that GARY GLITTER used to be famous for. Well, he’s famous for many things (no need to explain…), but that’s not what this song is all about. Romantic Joan fans can put on their cigarette lighters in “Everybody Needs A Hero”, which is the obligatory ballad on this album. Then it’s time for the best part on this CD. Of course JOAN JETT is someone you have to witness live. She visited our small country for the last time in 1984 as support act for THE SCORPIONS in Zwolle. This is more recent live material though. We will be able to enjoy at least four live tracks here, starting with a raw version of “Bad Reputation”, which is rock food for the black hearted people among us. Both horns up for that one, Joan! “Cherry Bomb” is the old RUNAWAYS classic, that will make every fan melt away. “TMI” is a nice introduction to one of the new tracks in a live setting. Last song here is “I Hate Myself For Loving You”, which is one last chance to sing along. At the very end of the CD there is a little spoken word part. Does anybody know the deeper meaning of this: Life And Death, A Change To Rearrange, Life And Death? The way she pronounces it sounds very spooky indeed. It makes no difference to how I feel about this album though. Addicted JOAN JETT fans can buy this release with their eyes closed. For other rock fans, I would like to say that here are possibly a few songs there, that you might not like, but there’s enough rock and roll here, that you probably will enjoy. The only thing I’m hoping for now is, that Joan has the courage to come over to Holland to promote the album. Sigh! I’m afraid this will never happen, but I can only hope for this miracle to happen, can I? Website: http://www.joanjett.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

JUNKYARD LIPSTICK-Hellbent (independent)
Heavy metal from South Africa and I’ll be the first one to raise my fist for that. The eleven track album from this band from Cape Town will bring you almost forty-five minutes of thrash laden punk influenced metal, that will cling to your mind forever. Maybe title track “Hellbent” says it all in a nutshell. After hearing this album, you’ll be hellbent and doomed for the rest of your life. “Hellbent” contains a lot of power and raw energy, which you can hear in “Daisy”, a song you can shout to really loud in a live setting. Here we also hear the punk/hardcore influenced touch of some of the songs. The energetic all-female foursome doesn’t take no for an answer and kills with power. There is also room for guitar solos in their songs and proven is given here as well. It’s nice to hear a raw rush of adrenaline entering your room. “Autopsy Time” is not only a cool title, but it also shows that these ladies are not afraid to shock. The polka beats are punky and thrashy and they contain enough energy to provide whole Cape Town of light and electricity. This song also appeared on the band’s demos. You might even discover a slight touch of the long defuncted New York all-female punk band THE LUNACHICKS here and there. “Bus” contains a lot of speed and mood changes, but it still has got a lot of power. “Reality TV” sounds raw and uncompromising and contains another nice guitar solo. I think, that these ladies rock out louder than L7 for example, but they get very close to the power of this well-known all-ladies outfit. “Rosie” is on next and sounds quite catchy. However, “Dear Mr. President” makes up for that pretty easily and sounds very aggressive. I think, that Mr. President won’t have a good night’s sleep after this raunchy rant. “Flush” starts off with an instrumental intro and shows that the band is also able to take back some speed. However, this won’t last long and another speed change will take you back to that well-known high octane fueled sound of the band. The next song is called “Barbie” and once again the band takes back some speed at the beginning. Don’t worry, this won’t last long. They will soon explode in another speedy rush towards the end. Listen to the groovy riffs and beats at the end of the song. They’ll surely kill you with power and the breathtaking guitar solo is the cherry on the cake. “War” has got a strange intro maybe, but again they really know to impress me with their loud thrash sound. “Hustler” is added to the CD as a bonus track. It sounds dirty, just like it’s supposed to sound. The CD has come to an end, but if you search closely on the web, you’ll also can find a preview of things to come in the near future. This brand new song is not on the CD, but it will probably be on the brand new six track EP, that is scheduled for 2014. It is by far the best song I’ve heard from the band until now and they unfold their full power here without any punk influences whatsoever. This new song is called “Bioterror”, and like I mentioned before, it will be on their upcoming release, entitled “The Butcher’s Delight”. The future looks very bright for this remarkable South African all-female heavy metal band. All in all, “Hellbent” has become quite an impressive debut album, but I think, that the best is yet to come. JUNKYARD LIPSTICK consists of Tazz-O on vocals, Lucinda Villain on drums and backing vocals, Jacky Roodt on bass and Louise ‘Gore’ Gorman on guitar. Website: http://www.junkyardlipstick.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MIA KLOSE-London (independent)
MIA KLOSE hails from Stockholm and in 2013 she already appeared at the well-known Sweden Rock festival. Who is this lady and what kind of music does she play? Well, Mia plays eighties rock, as we know it from bands like WASP and DOKKEN. Just listen to “Open Your Eyes” here on her debut album “London”. The blonde vixen is a real ‘eye-opener’ that’s for sure and not only for her cool metal looks, but also for her catchy rock music. Just check out “You Drive Me Crazy” to get the idea. It might be a bit too smooth for the die-hard death metal fan or black leather metal head, but for me it rocks with a capitol R. Check out that lead guitar solo, which blows your head off. This is definitely food for the fans of POISON, MOTLEY CRUE, BON JOVI and LITA FORD. “Mama” is on next and the sleazy, crazy train keeps driving through glam metal land. In the meantime, I browse through the CD booklet that contains many breath taking pics of Mia, who looks a bit like Pia Zadora, a lady that had some hits in the eighties. Even her name sounds very alike – ha! Anyway, back to the album, where we have landed at the ballad, which is called “Living For Tomorrow”. “London’s A Heartbreaker” is a tribute to one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I like to go there, as often as I possibly can. The guitars cry here as well. “Lady Killer” sounds very catchy. Maybe too catchy in my own personal view. “Never Too Late” however is a killer rocker and it puts the blonde rocker back on the right track again. “City Of Rock” is melodic but highly enjoyable. Sometimes it almost sounds like AOR, but this lady came to rock in the city of rock! Mia will make many men’s heart beat faster and it’s a shame that the eight tracks only run about thirty-five minutes. But they sure do sound like some damn good rock minutes! This hard working lady could take over the place, that LEE AARON and DORO once earned, but she’ll have to work even harder to maintain, which is very hard for a metal band these days. The start looks very promising. The band consists of Mia Klose on vocals, Melly on lead guitar, Danny Drama on rhythm guitar, Connor on bass and Rob Emms on drums. Website: http://www.miaklose.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LAS BRUJAS-La Reencarnacion (Metal Soldiers)
This CD is a nice compilation of the 1989 LP “Me Llaman La Loca” with a demo recording from the same year, a radio advertising plus some rehearsal tracks by the Argentinian metal ladies LAS BRUJAS. The CD contains thirteen tracks and runs a bit over forty minutes. The ladies existed from 1987 until 1993 and kick off here with “Delirio De Persecución”, a speedy rocker with a slow guitar solo. “El Habitante Solitario” is a slow banger, that has got a nice epic feeling to it. It’s difficult to name any band, that comes close the sound of LAS BRUJAS. Maybe the old MANOWAR sound would be an option. “Fusilame En Cámara Lenta” is an instrumental track, in which guitar player Graciela is being featured in the full spotlight. The band’s love for JUDAS PRIEST is also worth to mention here. Maybe that’s why they’ve added their metal version of “Johnny B Goode” here. JUDAS PRIEST did a version of this old CHUCK BERRY song on “Ram It Down” in 1988. Graciela is being pictured on the rear side of the CD booklet with Scott Travis, the drummer of JUDAS PRIEST, which marks the strong bond between LAS BRUJAS (The Witches) and JUDAS PRIEST. “Me Llaman La Loca” is the title track of the album. It rocks fast and is full of South American temperament. “Las Brujas Existen” sounds a bit like “Breaking The Law”, at least in the first riffs of this short track. “Los Fusilados Muertos No Estan” contains those well-known PRIEST guitar licks. It has got an aggressive sound and rocks you to hell. “No Va Mas” is the Argentinian LAS BRUJAS version of the old ZZ TOP classic “Tush”, which contains more louder guitars to rock it out just a little harder. “Tu Música Elegida” has some mean guitar playing and a firm drum beat. It’s taken from their 1989 demo. “Las Brujas En Rockodromo” is a radio advertising, which runs very short. Then the rehearsal recordings start off with “La Loca Dos”, which may sound different in sound quality, but it still proves, that LAS BRUJAS were made to rock hard. “Las Brujas En San Nicolas” is another radio advertising. The last track on this nice compilation is called “Soy Facil”, which is the Argentinian version of “I’m Easy” of DAVID LEE ROTH. It’s a bit dusty rehearsal recording, but very nice to listen to. Next, they pulled out the plug. Unfortunately, LAS BRUJAS disbanded in 1993 and their metal journey wasn’t supposed to last long. Luckily, we still have them on video and two clips are on this silver disc as well to make the story of this all-female metal band complete. LAS BRUJAS consisted of Graciela Folgueras on guitar and vocals, Ysa Sierra on drums, Alexx on bass, Sylvia Gers on guitar and Laura Giarusso on bass (on half of the LP). The band actually recorded a second album, but unfortunately it never saw the light of day. I’m glad, that Metal Soldiers took the liberty to release this one though. In the booklet are many nice pictures, including a reference to Metal Maidens magazine, as Rainer Krukenberg of www.metaleros.de wrote an article about the South American heavy metal scene in issue sixteen. Beware of these witches and buy this nice album, which is full of heavy metal by this Argentinian all-female metal band. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LEAVES EYES-Symphonies Of The Night (Napalm Records)
I waited until the clock strikes twelve to start this review. The night falls in and the LEAVES EYES symphonies are starting to roar. The new album captures it all, eleven songs with a playing time of about fifty minutes. “Hell To The Heavens” is the first and a very heavy opener. Liv Kristine’s vocals lean in the direction of Sharon den Adel of WITHIN TEMPTATION, when she hits the first notes on this album. The band rages on wildly and the bombastic chorus parts capture the heavy sound of LEAVES EYES very well. This is only the beginning. “Fading Earth” contains more heavy riffs and some nice guitar breaks. Liv Kristine’s voice sounds a bit more operatic here. Comparable toTarja Turunen or any other female singer in that particular music genre. NIGHTWISH (the Tarja days) might be a good reference as well. But hey, why refer to a band like that, when LEAVES EYES has become a well-established name these days and really doesn’t need that anymore. People like to stick a label on a band and compare them to others, I know and Liv has proved herself throughout the years that she’s here to stay. The heavy sound of LEAVES EYES has been captured very well in a fiery guitar solo, which becomes the cherry on the cake here. Alexander Krull adds some loud brutal vocals in “Maid Of Lorraine”. I must admit, that the songs in general are much louder than I’d expected. EPICA fans will really love this approach. Just listen to the folky tune “Gallswintha” which contains a firm beat, which has enough energy to feed a large city with light and electricity. “Symphony Of The Night” has a very catchy melody and more operatic vocals by Liv Kristine. ”Saint Cecelia” is a beautiful song to dream away during a break. Liv Kristine’s angelic vocals make you melt away and the song nicely breaks this album in half. “Hymn To The Lone Sands” is one of my own personal favorites. The heavy grunts of Alexander match very well with the haunting vocal lines of Liv Kristine. The bombastic soundscapes and fast drum beats lead to the guitar parts, sometimes loudly interrupted by Alex with another growl or two. It’s like a storm raging through your house, leaving a large mess behind. “Angel And The Ghost” could very well be the nicknames of Liv Kristine and Alexander, who team up in another duet. “Eleonore De Provence” contains even more brutal grunts from Alexander, who spits out all of his anger into the microphone. This won’t get Liv mad at all and she keeps spitting back at him with her angelic voice. Now that will teach him a lesson. After that, it’s time to dim the lights for another ballad type of song, called “Nightshade”. But before the first light starts the new day, there is still “Ophelia” to enjoy. Then the symphonies are being disturbed by the alarm of my clock. Is it that late already? I really gotta run and go to work. But I’ve had a wonderful night with this new album by LEAVES EYES. If you buy the limited edition of this album, you will get two bonus tracks. “Eileen’s Ardency”, which is a duet song with Liv Kristine’s sister Carmen Elise of MIDNATTSOL and a cover of DEPECHE MODE’s “One Caress”. LEAVES EYES fans did already buy this fantastic album, but if you want to check it out, I guess you won’t be disappointed. It’s one of their best albums so far and one of their heaviest albums indeed. Maybe because of the many appearances by Alexander, but also the very powerful orchestration and instrumental parts took care of this. LEAVES EYES consist of Liv Kristine on vocals, Thorsten Bauer on guitar and bass, Alexander Krull on vocals, Sander van der Meer on guitars and Felix Bom on drums. Website: http://www.leaveseyes.de. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LIZZIES-End Of Time (EP) (independent)
Four Lizzies, who aren’t thin or boring, otherwise they could have joined THIN LIZZY or LIZZY BORDEN. These four ladies are named after an all-girl gang in the movie “The Warriors”. The LIZZIES came to rock and present their debut mini album “End Of Time” here. The five songs are worthy of twenty minutes of classic true heavy metal. Just listen to the great opener, called “Sacrifice” and get the idea. I wish, that IRON MAIDEN sounded like that right now. Great riffs and many speed changes combined with good vocal chords. This kicks ass big time! “Blindslaved” contains some great axe work. Together with the stunning drum beats, it creates the right combination, that you want to hear as a die-hard metal head. “Speed On The Road”, as the title suggests already, puts it all in the fourth gear and the ladies keep on pounding hard and heavy, until you like it. Just listen to those heavenly guitar riffs here, topped by a screaming guitar solo. If you don’t throw your fists in the air on this one, then you’re not a real metal head or your hearing aid has to be repaired. The next song needs no further introduction. Not that you already know it, but if you name your song “Heavy Metal Warriors”, then you know that these girls really mean what they propagate. If you’re not really convinced yet, then you’d better lend your ears to this song and you’ll be impressed for sure. Title track “End Of Time” is on next. It’s the album closure and obviously, it contains more IRON MAIDEN influences. These ladies sound very wild and exciting and “End Of Time” is the perfect example of that. The LIZZIES hail from Spain, a metal country that will always be remembered for their great bands such as OBUS, MURO, BARON ROJO, NU, WILD, STEEL HORSE and now the LIZZIES. The band consists of Motorcycle Marina on bass, Lucia Xauri on drums, Hell-End on vocals and Patricia Strutter on guitars. The artwork on this EP looks perfect, by the way. Both thumbs up and I will raise my sword high into the sky for these four metal ladies from Spain. Larga Vida Al Rock And Roll! Website: http:// www.facebook.com/thelizzies. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LOST INSANITY-Bad & Nasty Bootleg (EP) (independent)
The word ‘bootleg’ might be a bit misleading, because this is an official release by the band, but I think it will always invite more fans to dig in. This is a three track bootleg of LOST IN SANITY. The band consists of Patricia Boehm on vocals, Peggy Smits on lead guitar and vocals, Leon de Bree on bass and vocals and Ronny Smits on drums. Their live shows are very entertaining and full of energy. The mini CD starts with “Bad & Nasty”, which has got a LED ZEPPELIN groove like in “Good Times, Bad Times”, which later on turns into a great AC/DC footstomper. Get ready to sing along to it. No problem at all, when you’re bad and nasty. “Got You In My Pocket” is a real crowd pleaser at their live shows and Peggy gets the beat going with another AC/DC riff. It’s a fast song, in which the band lets off steam. “Tears Of Gold” is the ballad of the three songs, that are presented here. It takes care of some variation and it shows that the band is able to sound melodic and romantic at the same time. LOST IN SANITY has released a nice thirteen minute mini album here, which will please many fans out there. You’d better take care, because they will rock you off your feet. Visit http://www.lostinsanity.nl for all the latest information about this very talented Dutch rock band. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LYONITE-Disguised In Darkness (independent)
LYONITE hails from Holland and consists of Mathijs Westra on drums, Maikel Pang Atjok on keyboards, Ale Stroomsma on bass, Wolf van Weezel on guitar and Claudia Edwards van Muijen on vocals. Wolf replaces Jornt Wagenaar, who was the original guitarist of this progressive symphonic metal band. The album contains nine songs with a total playing time of exactly fifty minutes. They kick off very fast with the powerful opener “Liberty”. Claudia’s voice sounds lovely and in the heavy parts I’m glad to hear some shouting from the other band members and no real heavy grunts, that I’d expected first. There is also a lot of muscle stretching in the instrumental section and the guitarist and keyboard player have a fight about who is next in the spotlight. It’s a draw and many fights will follow in the songs to come. It’s a bit difficult to judge the band on their influences. They sound too progressive to compare them to NIGHTWISH, but a comparison with DREAM THEATER would suit them just fine, I guess. LYONITE has definitely a lot of in-depth parts in their sound. “Mythical Interlude” is a short instrumental intro, that leads us to “Pride” Here the band spreads out their progressive wings, but when the speed changes follow after the vocal part, the power is there as well. In fact, the song is an epical tune with many progressive sidesteps. At the second half of the song, the race really starts and the progressive mask of the band is being shown. Speed changes, keyboard parts, heavy riffs… Is this the same band as in the beginning? Yes it is, and they sound really exciting to me! “My Disguise” is on next and opens with heavy guitar riffs and steady drum beats. The orchestration sounds bombastic and when the keyboards enter, the progressive sound is being captured as well. Claudia’s vocals are very much in front and there is a brutal male voice answering to her fragile sound. Once again, there are no real grunts, that makes the reviewer very happy. It gets even better during the instrumental parts later on. The speed changes constantly and we hear a band, that is very capable of doing some real extraordinary progressive stuff here. “Tenfold The Threshold” is an instrumental track. At first, I thought it was just a nice tune, but halfway through the band starts to freak and they sound very experimental. Again, I’m quite impressed about their many faces. “Celestial Interlude” is another short instrumental intermezzo, which is meant as an introduction to the next song “Forgiveness”. This is a nice compact progressive song with a beautiful guitar solo. “Soundless Motions” is the obligatory ballad. I think, we can put it that way, because only in the last two minutes a heavy spark will get this one going. The heavy guitar solo, that follows, sounds really amazing and I’m really stunned. It’s something that I didn’t expect anymore, which is a very positive thing, as far as I’m concerned. Some influences of KATE BUSH or TORI AMOS could be recognized in the final vocal parts in this song. “Darkness Ends” is the piece of resistance here and plays for fifteen lengthy minutes. The instrumental introduction alone runs for about three minutes and sounds like MARILLION in their heydays. A fresh sounding catchy vocal part is on next and then it’s time for the keyboard player to stand in the spotlights with an extensive instrumental part. The guitar solo marks the end of this song, which contains many exciting DREAM THEATER tricks. LYONITE is definitely a name to remember, the CD sleeve looks very artistic and I think, that we all agree here, that “Disguised in Darkness” sounds far above average. Get your kicks in the darkness with LYONITE, you will be positively surprised. Website: http://www.lyonite.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MAGION-A Different Shade Of Darkness (independent)
Let’s introduce you to a different shade of darkness here. One you’ve never experienced before. It comes from a Dutch band, named MAGION and it contains ten great melodic symphonic gothic power metal songs, worthy of a full hour of high quality music. Let this band take you away on a journey, where you can meet up with the fifty-first shade of grey, the one they never talk about. Opener “Beloved Enemies” contains a lot of ingredients, that this band has got to offer. The beautiful vocals of Myrthe van Beest, who’s a true talent, bombastic orchestration, rocking guitar riffs, a steady beat, a wild grunt here and there and lengthy compositions, in which a lot of things are happening. It sounds very exciting, just like WITHIN TEMPTATION, AFTER FOREVER, EPICA and ORPHANAGE sounded in their early days, when they were not working on their commercial success yet. “Masquerade” rages on wild and contains the heavy grunts, I was talking about, up front in the mix. When Myrthe’s voice rushes in I’m sold. She alone can temper the wild rants of Chris Vrij, who sounds like he has just escaped from a mental hospital, although it wasn’t his time yet to see the light of day in a free world. The mood changes are frequently in this song and it leads to the guitar solos, that are breathtaking. On “Ever And A Day”, we hear guest vocals by Liesbeth Cordia, which turns it into a duet by the two vocal elves. Liesbeth is the vocalist of EVE’S FALL and the two voices match very well in this song. “Shallow Grounds” sounds dark and sober, but it has a nice structure. Myrthe is the leading star for me, because her wonderful strong vocals lead this song to a highlight position for me. “Out Of Time” opens romantic with the sound of a piano and the voice of Myrthe. But you’d better wait until you light those candles, because the guitars will start to roar soon and your romantic mood might be ruined right away. The string parts take care of the melodic sound, but the guitars start to cry in the middle of the song, working to a mighty fine climax. “Change To Change” marches off at full speed. It sounds wild and exciting, yet still very catchy. The sudden stop introduces an attractive bass part by Menno, who cuts the song in half and slows down the pace. A stylish guitar solo follows, after which the speed goes up again. What an exciting ride with lots of variation. At the end of the song, Myrthe shows off her impressive soprano voice, which sounds truly amazing to me. “Break The Silence” opens dark and mystical. A bombastic masterpiece unfolds itself, where the guitar players get into the spotlight in two breathtaking moments. This true masterpiece will make you cling to your speakers for sure. “Untrue” sounds wild and contains those mad grunts again. You know, that I’m not a fan of grunts, but when they’re not used frequently, it can work out well for me. The guitars take the lead in this wild raging song, that also has some fine melodic moments. “Body’s Betrayal” opens quite bombastic and all the other ingredients are there in this lengthy track. The brutal male vocals, the operatic female voice of Myrthe, the bombastic sound, the wild riffs and of course the guitar solos. A complete story, that sums it all up in seven minutes. Most of the songs are that long, because they contain so many different phases, that makes it very exciting to listen to. The album closes with “Neverending Winter”. This fast and furious bombastic song takes the album to an end. The talent of MAGION comes from different sides. The compositions, the female vocals and the craftsmanship of the musicians belong to the best that we have in Holland at the moment. At least, that’s my opinion, after listening to this album, which shows a whole lot of variation in songs and a different shade of darkness. Website: http://www.magionband.com. Note: unfortunately, by the time this review goes online, the band broke up and all the band members have gone their own separate ways. Myrthe van Beest started a solo career and you can find her on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/Myrthe.van.Beest.Official. Good luck Myrthe, we will definitely hear from you soon! [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HAMADA MARI-Legenda( Victor Japan)
HAMADA MARI isn’t the hot Japanese rock superstar anymore, that she used to be in the eighties. Maybe not for the average rocker, but for me she still belongs to the top, just like all the other Japanese metal artists, that are from that particular time frame. Her albums sounded truly amazing back in those days. If I listen to the opening track of her new album “Legenda” which is called “Crisis Code”, I am dying to go back to the days, when she released “Lunatic Doll”. Don’t get me wrong, “Momentalia” has got some incredible guitar riffs as well. It’s astonishing, that so many people don’t know this lady, who has a remarkable powerful voice and a backup band, that knows to play some solid rock and metal. “Legenda” contains eleven tracks and runs for a full hour. The flashing keyboard solo is followed by an even more flashing guitar part. It sounds a bit progressive in the instrumental parts and I think that there would be a lot of people, who dig this sound, if they would only know it. “Heartstorm” is on ext and it shows a more melodic AOR side of this Japanese metal princess. Just listen to the guitar solo in this track. It sounds really awesome beyond belief. Nobody will crank out a solo like this anymore these days. This is food for my rocking heart, I can tell you that much. “Crimson” is a nice foot stomper, in which Hamada surprises me with some very forceful pull outs. In “El Dorado”, we hear the acoustic guitar in the first solo. It’s a ballad type of song with a forceful guitar solo at the end, but now on an electric guitar. “Forest” is also a slow one but with mind-blowing vocal parts of Hamada and a great guitar solo. “Ransei-Conscientia” is HEAVY! It opens with an organ part in the best DEEP PURPLE tradition and then the fire has been lit and the song starts off in fourth gear. The pedal is pressed to the metal and they won’t let go, until the last notes have been fading away. “The Greatest Cage” has got a beautiful ZEP-like orchestration, but of course it’s the guitars that keep dominating the sound here. They keep on soloing, until this song comes to an end. “Stranger” is the rock sound of the eighties performed in the new millennium. “Get Together” sounds very catchy and asks for radio airplay in my opinion. It won’t be, because of the guitar work I guess, but nonetheless it’s a nice try. CD closer “Aurea” is a sensual and very emotional tune, which comes from the bottom of Hamada’s toes. I really had a fantastic time with this new album of HAMADA MARI. I know, that a lot of readers couldn’t care less, but they should have a listen to her old stuff and hopefully this will have them decide to search for this rough diamond, too. This sounds so much better than the good AOR type of albums, that we used to hear from her. Full score and that’s my final verdict here. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

MASTERCASTLE-On Fire (Lion Music/Bertus)
MASTERCASTLE from Italy presents their fourth full-length album, which contains nine new tracks and almost forty minutes of melodic powerful metal. The Castle consists of Giorgia Gueglio on vocals, Pier Gonella on guitar, Steve Vawamas on bass and Alessandro Bissa on drums. The album starts with “Silver Eyes”, which contains some flashing guitar licks. The vocals of Giorgia are very nice to listen to and fans of YNGWIE MALMSTEEN might like this stuff a lot. “Chains” sounds more melodic and is very catchy indeed. The guitar work is mind-boggling and it’s easy to listen to this type of metal and rock songs. “Platinum” is a radio friendly track, in which Pier also shows his vocals capabilities. “Quick Silver” is one of my favorites. It’s a traditional power metal song with a firm beat and heavy guitar work. “Gold Violet” opens with some acoustic guitar. It’s time to slow things down a bit and make room for the obligatory ballad on this album. A good metal album can’t do without one. It isn’t that romantic though, because there is still a lot of good guitar work to enjoy here. Still, it is a love song with a good ballad type of feeling on it. The instrumentalists are on next in an instrumental, called “The Final Battle”. It can be seen as some kind of instrumental battle with the guitarist as a winner. “Leaden Roads” is a very easy on the ears tune with some nice speed changes in the middle of the song. “Titanium Wings” is another winner with some powerful drum beats and the nice vocals of Giorgia. The song is easy on the ears, but also doesn’t lack the heavy sound that we like to hear. CD closer “Almost Fantasy” is a neo-classical instrumental with lots of great guitar work. The length of the CD might be a bit short, but the quality is high enough to please all metal fans out there. So get on fire with MASTERCASTLE and enjoy this new album. You will be positively surprised. Website: http://www.myspace.com/mastercastle. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

PAMELA MOORE-Resurrect Me (Ratpack Records)
We all know PAMELA MOORE for her work with QUEENSRYCHE. This is her new ten track solo album, which runs for almost forty-five minutes. The album opens with “Acquiescent”, which might remind you a bit of QUEENSRYCHE in their “Rage For Order” times. It sounds a little bit experimental, definitely groovy and with a subtle metal background. The guitar solo is very nice here. The first notes of “Melt Into You” sound slightly industrial and the guitar riffs also sound very industrial and basic. The guitar solo rocks very much and lifts the song up to a higher level. “Paranoia” opens with a weird sound, but continues the way that it could also be on “Rage For Order” without any doubt. There is also a video clip for this song that you should check out sometime. “We’re Damaged” sounds pretty much straight forward and has a nice kicking groove. After four songs, I can draw the conclusion, that we’re facing the heaviest output by Pamela so far. Just listen to the great guitar solo in this one. It really rocks your world! Title track “Resurrect Me” is a ballad with the great sensitive vocals of Pamela. In the middle, we get a speed change and the song continues in a nice groove with some bombastic orchestration. It sure is one of the highlights on the album for me and I guess that every old school QUEENSRYCHE fans will agree with me here. “The Sky Is Falling” is on next and again the old QUEENSRYCHE sound relives and Pamela shows, that she is able to create some very fine classic rock songs. The beginning of “Awakening” is groovy and once this song gets going, it sounds louder and heavier, second by second. It works itself up to a nice climax with Pamela shouting her lungs out. Another highlight for me. Also thanks to the great guitar work by Jeff Loomis here. “Breaking Down” is a nice song to enjoy at the end of the album. The guitar solo is very beautiful and laid back. While “Desperate By Design” pounds it out heavy and it contains a great groove. Obviously, the album consists of ten little diamonds and shows that Sister Mary is still in the rock business kicking it out very loudly. The album closes with “Wide Awake (“Phoenix Rising”)”, which is again in the old QUEENSRYCHE style. What more can you say? “Resurrect Me” is the album, that QUEENSRYCHE should have made instead of “Promised Land”. Sister Mary is still in action and this is her best album yet, as far as I am concerned. Website: http://www.pamelamoore.net. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

NIGHTWISH-Showtime, Storytime (Nuclear Blast)
Dutch people can be very proud of the fact, that NIGHTWISH has got a Dutch singer nowadays. The day the announcement came, that Floor Jansen would be the new singer of NIGHTWISH didn’t get to me as a real surprise, but this sure is not one but two giant steps forward in the already sparkling career by this great Dutch singer. Their Wacken performance of last year has been captured on double CD and DVD. The final result can be heard on the fantastic double live CD, that we have here. The first CD contains nine tracks and runs for almost fifty minutes. There is magic in the air and Floor performs for two hundred percent and impresses even more than ever before for this huge crowd. Just listen to the powerful opener “Dark Crest Of Wonders”, that forces its way into your living room. This sounds very overwhelming to me. After this, they continue right away with “Wish I Had An Angel”, where Marco Hietala provides the vocal support. Floor is being introduced by Marco and then the band burst into “She’s My Sin”, while the audience goes insane. From a warm bath to a cold shower is only a couple of seconds. Diving into the “Ghost River” is a musical adventure with Marco sharing more lead vocals. Bombastic orchestral arrangements and loud guitars blend very well together here. “Ever Dream” opens slowly, but explodes later on. Just listen to the reaction of the crowd and the vocal abilities of Floor on this one. It sounds just amazing. “Story Time” is one of the highlights on the album for me. It shows NIGHTWISH in optima forma. A band, that dares to get away from the paved paths at times. Just listen to “I Want My Tears Back” with a leading role for Marco on vocals, Tuomas on his futuristic looking keyboards and the catchy melody, that invites you to sing along to this amazing song. “Nemo” was one of the singles back in the days and during the introduction of this song, Floor is lost for words, because of the amazing reaction of the audience. There is no doubt, that almost all the fans have forgotten about Annette Olzon (no offense, by the way). The first CD closes with a nice instrumental version of “Last Of The Wilds”, in which the bands show what they’ve got. They really crank it out well and it gives Floor a chance to take a deep breath. The second disc contains seven tracks and runs for about forty-five minutes sharp. It’s time for another forty-five minutes of musical madness at Wacken. Choirs, a bombastic orchestration and an enthusiastic audience announces the opening song of “Bless The Child”. Floor sings the songs, as if she has written them herself. She all seems to do things so easily. “Romanticide” starts with a short speech by Marco. Apparently, he’s the spokesman during the live shows of NIGHTWISH. Floor starts up this up tempo rock song with some high pull outs. Jukka Nevalainen shows that he can do some very powerful drumming. Same goes for the heavy riffs and great guitar solo by Emppu Vuorinen. What an energetic rendition and therefor another highlight for me. Especially when you hear the reaction of the crowd and the band starts to roar like hell in the middle of this song. “Amaranth” is definitely a crowd’s favorite of the Wacken audience, that sings very loudly to this one. In “Ghost Love Song” we hear Floor at her very best with some massive pull outs, that would make an average lady singer look pale. The crowd seems to enjoy it very much as well. The band surpasses themselves and slowly reaches the climax of the set. “Song Of Myself” is another up tempo track with bombastic choir vocals. The final track is called “Last Ride Of The Day”. It marks the end of a wonderful concert, which may be even better when you watch the footage on the DVD at the same time. A review of this DVD will be on these pages soon, too. With some giant fireworks and a big bang, the band closes their heraldic ride. All that lasts is an outro in which you can almost see all the fans cheer one final time, before they go to their tents or hotels to enjoy their night’s sleep. Ninety minutes of music and almost three hours of footage on DVD. This is value for your money by this Finnish band, who will have a Dutch touch from now on. Website: http://www.nightwish.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

NUBIAN ROSE-Mountain (Rambo Music)
NUBIAN ROSE hails from Sweden and they present an album full of melodic rock and AOR. Ten songs in total will rock your world in about forty-five minutes. The album starts off with an up tempo rocker with a nice guitar solo and great vocals. “Ever See Your Face” is an excellent starter, because the fans know what to expect from the start. Title track “Mountain” follows with a metal riff, that could be on any album by SAXON in the early eighties. This ballsy rocker puts the pedal to the metal and gets a lot of metal heads banging to the sound. Kee Marcello, the former EUROPE guitarist, guests on the next track, which is called “Living For Tomorrow”. He doesn’t give the song any EUROPE touch of some kind, but his guitar sound is very recognizable indeed. The song has got a catchy vibe. Then it’s time to show the emotional side of the band with a powerful ballad, which is called “How Am I”. After that, it’s time to start rocking again with “Get Ready”, which is made to shout out loud to the chorus. I think, that everybody who is listening to this album is ready to rock, so throw your fists in the air, if you are ready to rock it out! “Your Love” is being introduced by the sound of an organ and when the band puts it into gear, we hear a rocking foot stomper with some great double lead guitar solos. “Once Bitten” is another catchy up tempo rocker with some awesome guitar work. To me, NUBIAN ROSE really delivers the better melodic rock from the eighties and they sure are ready for a very successful harvest. Just try to stand still on a song like “Reckless”. You simply won’t succeed. After the guitar solo, there is an instrumental piece, that is perfect to clap along. This will definitely happen, when the song is being played in a live situation. There a second piece of rest on the album with a nice version of the OZZY OSBOURNE / LITA FORD song “Close My Eyes Forever”. This time, it’s Sofia Lilja, who teams up with Mats Leven on this duet. Besides the wonderful Sofia, the band consists of Christer Åkerlund on guitar, Thomas Lindgren on guitar, Fredrik Åkerlund on keyboards, Henric Uhrbom on bass and David Algestein on drums. After the band introduction, we’ve arrived at the last song on this brilliant release which is called “Sisters”. In this short rocker, they give it all they’ve got one more time. NUBIAN ROSE brings out the best in melodic rock and AOR. They may smell sweet, but be careful: their thorns will sting you pretty hard, if you don’t watch out. You’d better be warned. Website: http://www.nubianrose.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

OMEGA XENTAURI-On A Debt That Was Never Ours (Emphyrio Records)
OMEGA XENTAURI hails from Belgium. They present six symphonic progressive metal jewels on their second album “To A Debt That Was Never Ours”, which is the successor to their debut “The Promise” (2010). The band consists of Erik Callaerts on guitar, Pim van der Neut on synths, Benny Vercammen on bass, Tom de Vriendt on drums and Lotte Verheyt on vocals. They start their musical adventure with a ten minute opus, called “Fallen From Grace”, which has a leading role for the synthesizers. Adventurous is what they are, because after a first impression with vocals, a lengthy instrumental part follows, that starts with more synthesizers, but there’s also room for the sound of an acoustic guitar. Then the electric guitar solo overrules everything and brings this instrumental part to a closure. So if you like progressive rock with lengthy instrumental parts, this opener is definitely for you. The second track is called “Asteri” and opens with another mysterious synthesizer intro. This song reaches the length of twelve minutes, so I guess they’re not giving their precious secrets away that easily. Just sit down and take the time to absorb what comes your way. It sounds pretty much like a normal song at first with a bit of lazy vocals, not very special at all. The guitar solo in the instrumental part thereafter seems to go on forever and is really mind-blowing. Not very energetic or powerful, but still quite impressive indeed. The closing part grabs back to the way the song started, meaning that the vocals are there as well. “Angel Of Death” is quite different to what we heard from this band so far. It starts off in a furious speed, triggered drum beats and it could very well be categorized as thrash metal or something similar in my opinion. The slow vocals of Lotte give this song a different face. When the instrumental part arrives with the breathtaking guitar solo, the song gets into the progressive atmosphere. They keep up with this on the almost nineteen minutes “Etherial Spirit”, which is on next. A long intro with synths, thunder and rain and more spiritual based sounds lead to the part, where Lotte takes over with a spoken word thing. It all sounds quite spiritual and dreamy, but there is also a nice speed change, where the song evolves into a more speedy metal attack. This won’t last long though and rather quickly, another speed change gets to the more original speed for the guitar solo. The last part is the perfect way to get into a trance by a constant repeating flow. It’s all very dreamy, yet still exciting at times. “The Prayer” is on next and again you’ll be in some kind of fairytale atmosphere, that grabs back to the tales of Grimm. The guitar solo takes care of some powerful moments here, but the band returns to the dreamy mode pretty easily and they even add a flute to their sound. The sixth track is another song for the long dark winter nights. It’s called “Wipe Away” and the lazy vocals of Lotte match quite well with the slow progressive sound of the band. Old MARILLION and PORCUPINE TREE influences may get close to the sound of OMEGA XENTAURI. It’s not always as convincing as I hoped it would be, but these seventy minutes are certainly filled with a whole lot of variation and the guitar sound was very appealing to me. The modest and monotonous sound of Lotte may not attract every music fan, but they fit quite well with the fantasy progressive metal sound of these Belgian musicians. Website: http://www.omegax.be. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ORIANTHI-Heaven In This Hell (Spinefarm Records)
If you don’t know ORIANTHI, you have never been to a concert of ALICE COOPER lately. She plays guitar and this is her new album, that runs for forty plus minutes and contains eleven pop/rock and seventies rock tracks. The groove starts with “Heaven In This Hell”, the title track of this album. A nice foot stomper with a very catchy feel. The acoustic guitar riff at end is nice, but I’d rather hear this blonde vixen make it cry out loud, like she does in the middle of the song. “You Don’t Wanna Know” is on next. This is another nice rocker, in which she pulls out the strings loudly and the wah wah pedal is pressed to the metal this time. It is one of the best songs on the album, I realize later on. “Fire” is made to sing along. It has got a bit of a seventies feeling to it. “If U Think U Know Me” might remind you of THE BANGLES in a way. The guitar solo at the end is definitely worth checking out. It’s mainstream rock and very radio friendly though. “How Do You Sleep?” starts out as a blues tune, but soon it receives the rock treatment. The GARY MOORE-like guitar solo, that she plays here, is very nice though. “Frozen” has got some AMANDA MARSHALL influences, but it lacks the power, that she sometimes puts in her songs. It all sounds very modest and I’m really missing some powerful guitar moments here. “Rock” is the next song and the title alone sounds quite promising. The beat is steady, but the approach is again too modest. I think, that ORIANTHI is desperately in need of a worldwide radio hit single, if you’d ask my honest opinion. Just listen to “Another You”, which is very suitable to enter the charts. The song is performed with a lot of emotion and it also rocks. The almost erotic sounding guitar solo is right in your face. “How Does That Feel?” has got a very nice groove, but the choir vocals and the sweet sound is not good enough to please an old school rocker. I’d expected so much from this lady. When the ‘fake’ live solo starts though, she impresses me so much more than on all the other eight songs together. “Filthy Blues” is another highlight on this album with some nice bluesy guitar licks. The CD closes with “If U Were Here With Me”, which is no big surprise and another radio friendly and catchy tune on this ‘safe’ release by this young, blonde guitar lady. If she adds a bit more power to her songs next time, she can make a killer album. Website: http://www.orianthi.artistintersect.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ANA POPOVIC-Can You Stand The Heat (ArtisteXclusive Records)
This is the ninth solo album by ANA POPOVIC. It has fourteen tracks and is worthy of a full hour of rock, soul and blues with some breathtaking guitar work by this beautiful lady herself. The album starts with title track “Can You Stand The Heat”, which sounds groovy, funky and very soulful and displays the first magical moments of Ana and her guitar. The second track contains horns. Yes. I’m not too fond of horns, but the STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN-like guitar licks make them disappear in the distance and what’s left is a swinging version of “Can’t You See What You’re Doing To Me”. The original version of this song was written by ALBERT KING. “Mo’ Better Love” has a whole lot of soul, that comes from the background choir, that is being used here. “Object Of Obsession” sounds a bit jazzy and it swings. This is music for a night club. Nice guitar work, but a bit too far away from the bluesy sound, that I love so much from this lady. She plays so many different styles and this is one of them. It’s a true gift, but it simply can’t appeal to everybody. “Boys Night Out” contains some female choirs, that gives it the soul it needs. It’s a more up tempo track with some migthy fine guitar moments. The blues is being delivered in the next song, that is called “Hot Southern Night”. It’s a duet with Lucky Peterson and it will get you moving, whether you like it or not. Satisfaction is guaranteed on this one. “Every Kind Of People” is again very soulful. It’s a cover of ROBERT PALMER, written by FREE bass player Andy Fraser. “Ana’s Shuffle” is definitely one of the highlights on this album. It’s a shuffle (Hey, what a surprise!) and it rocks like hell. There’s some mind-blowing guitar work here in the best fast blues tradition. This is a killer track for sure. “Blues For Mrs. Pauline / Leave My Boy Alone” is a slow blues tune and definitely another highlight. It’s the bluesy sound of Ana, that I like so much. She really knows to deliver that in this excellent combination of two songs. “Leave Well Alone” is next, while “High Maintenance You” is a groovy shuffle and a very nice one, too. “Tribe” is an instrumental song, which has some kind of jam feeling. Everyone, who wants to join in, please feel free to do so. The Hammond organ is very much up front here. With the male choir vocals, it sounds a lot like the old SANTANA stuff. “Rain Fell Down” is a rocker, originally recorded by THE ROLLING STONES. It’s on their 2005 release “A Bigger Bang”. We have come to the bonus tracks now, starting with “Growing Up Too Soon”, which is about child’s prostitution. The children vocal choir will keep you focused on the matter and not only think about the music. This is really serious stuff. Tommy Sims helps out in “Mo’ Better Love”, which is the final song. Ana derived from her bluesy sound and broadened her horizon without leaving her roots. The band performing on this album consists of Ana Popovic on vocals and guitar, Tony Coleman on drums, John Williams on bass, Frank Ray Jr. on Hammond organ, Harold Smith on rhythm guitar, Marc Franklin on trumpet, Kirk Smothers on saxophone, Stefanie Bolton on background vocals and Sharisse Norman on background vocals. Can you stand the heat? Website: http://www.anapopovic.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

REVAMP-Wild Card (Nuclear Blast)
REVAMP is the other band of Floor Jansen. Maybe she will still think it’s her main band, but I bet that everybody sees this long-legged rocking front lady as the new singer of NIGHTWISH. I am very glad though, that she decided to release this second REVAMP CD, although NIGHTWISH will keep her very busy. Many may have not believed in Floor, but for those people she has got a nice remedy. When you pull out the new CD, you can see her on the silver disc giving you the middle finger. A nice shot of a lady, who is ready to rip your heart out. This second album contains twelve tracks and runs for about fifty-five minutes. It starts with “On The Sideline”. Take a deep breath before you push the ‘play’ button of your stereo, because this sure is a breathtaking moment. It’s a sudden heavy start including some brutal riffs, topped by the great voice of Floor! The wild guitars will keep you focused and Floor shows, that she can scream and sing at the same time in a more regular voice. A very good opener. The riffs stay loud and brutal, but the speed goes down a bit for the pounder “The Limbic System”. It rocks your socks off, but there is also room for some emotion here. The guitar solo is short, but good and after this we hear some impressive soprano vocals by Floor, followed by some instrumental madness. Title track “Wild Card” is a wild basher in which the guitar players get carte blanche. Wild riffs and solos follow each other up and there is even space for some operatic vocal parts again of Floor, who still knows to dominate this song with some breathtaking vocal moments. “Precibus” will get you to your senses in no time. Floor shows, that she has a great soprano voice and is joined here by keyboards and choir vocals. A wild rollercoaster ride follows, in which the choir vocals have a prominent role. “Nothing” is on next. Not that there is a sudden silence, but the band shows that they also have a more modest face, especially in the beginning. “Neurasthenia” is a duet with DEVIN TOWNSEND, who puts his mark on this rocker with his raw vocal sound. The aggressive beats turn this into another wild rocker. “Distorted Lullabies” opens with the sound of a piano and Floor singing a lullaby. Pleasant dreams everybody! It won’t take long though, before those dreams will be abruptly disturbed by wild beats and bombastic sounds, that suddenly interfere this song. After all, it’s a distorted lullaby and now you know why. “Amendatory” is on next. It’s an adventurous symphonic rock piece with some exciting and surprising speed changes. “I Can Become” contains some great guitar parts and wild riffs, but also the keyboards don’t stay untouched. Another wild attack unfolds itself in “Misery’s No Crime” with brutal grunts and growls by Mark Jansen. Floor answers him with her amazing soprano vocals. It’s the most brutal song on the album, I guess and it’s also full of heavy bombastic orchestral parts. If someone thought that this “Wild Card” would be a quickie, because Floor had to focus on her NIGHTWISH job, you’re ever so wrong. After the cacophony of vocals by the two of them, Floor takes a moment to throw in some KATE BUSH-like vocals. Then the guitar solo starts and another amazing bombastic part comes along. The excitement drips from this song and there’s so much happening here. “Wolf And Dog” contains the best guitar solos of the whole album. Again we can witness some nice speed and mood changes, what makes these songs so different and varied. Bonus track “Sins” rocks the album to an end with more wild and exciting riffs. REVAMP’s new album is everything you’d expect from a professional front lady like Floor. The full band consists of Floor Jansen on vocals, Arjan Rijnen on guitars, Jord Otto on guitars, Ruben Wijga on keyboards, Matthias Landes on drums and Henk Vonk on bass. Unfortunately, Jaap Melman on bass stepped out and was being replaced by STREAM OF PASSION bass player Johan van Stratum for the album bass parts. Henk Vonk is the new bass player for the band now. More info can be obtained from their website at: http://www.revampmusic.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

RIE a.k.a. SUZAKU-Dreaming Eyes (Poppin Records)
RIE is a Japanese guitar player who presents her new album, which contains seven tracks and runs a bit over twenty-five minutes. The album opens with an instrumental, called “Angelism”, which is actually nothing more than a one minute introduction. Then the title track “Dreaming Eyes” takes off in fourth gear. The Japanese vocal parts are hard to understand, but the voice of Dia is definitely nice to listen to. She will remind you of other great Japanese vocalists like Keiko Terrada, Hamada Mari and Carmen Maki to name but a few. The moment I am waiting for is the actual guitar solo, but there’s some loud riffing first. When the solo comes, you’ll end up in rock heaven. It’s that mind-blowing! The package, I hold in my hands, also contains a bonus silver disc with the video clip for this song as a nice little extra. The pounding beat for “Desire” is on next and this time we hear Akane on vocals. RIE is pictured on the front sleeve with a mask and inside the booklet, too. It may remind you of guitar wizard KUNI, who also played with a mask on his first album. The groove is steady and once again the moment comes, when RIE is pulling her strings. It’s great to hear a traditional hard rock anthem being spiced up by guitar work like that. A touch of RACER X may be recognizable, but they didn’t use any Japanese female vocals. Fans of MARINO, 44 MAGNUM or BLIZARD can easily dig in. “Grab The Sky” has got more of these groovy riffs. Dia steps in as vocalist here. I like her voice just a fraction more. In fact, this all sounds excellent to me and reminds me of any Japanese metal band from the eighties. And I can tell you, that I was (and still am) addicted to them back in those days. The riffs on “Oblivion” may sound more new fashioned, but the beat is tight and it sure rocks like hell. “Not Escape” has got a catchy sound, but you simply can’t escape from the great loud riffs that are being used in this song. The last song is called “Aurora” and it’s the longest track here. It starts with acoustic guitar in a very modest way. RIE shows her skills with some beautiful guitar sounds in this instrumental track. This Japanese lady has impressed me before and “Dreaming Eyes” is another fine example of her wonderful skills. If you like Japanese hard rock bands in general or you’re just fond of some great guitar work by guitar heroes like MARTY FRIEDMAN or PAUL GILBERT, you can do yourself a big favor to find this item. RIE is helped out on this mini album by Isamu Tamaru on drums, Hiroyasu Watanabe on bass, Dia on vocals, Akane on vocals and Ibuki on vocals. Tatsuro Arki handled the drum programming on “Aurora”. Website: http://www.poppin.jp/rie_web/index.html. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ROCK IGNITION-Innocent Thing (Sound Guerilla)
This mini album by ROCK IGNITION will set you on fire. It contains five tracks and runs for twenty-two minutes and has a bonus video for the song “Tell Me”. ROCK IGNITION consists of Heather Shockley on vocals (KAMELOT), Jürgen Steinmetz on bass (EPITAPH, HEADSTONE, SILENT FORCE, SONS OF SEASONS), Fabian Dammers on guitar and Siggi Grütz on drums. Having played support slots for bands like KAMELOT, AXXIS, CIRCLE // CIRCLE, MIKE TRAMP, JON OLIVA and URIAH HEEP, ROCK IGNITION gained some experience and now they are ready to rock your world with these five tracks. They open with title track “Innocent Thing”, which is a kick ass rocker with the fine voice of Heather up front in the mix. The catchy song is ready to sing along to. The same goes for the next track for which the band also made a video clip, called “Tell Me”. If you like VIXEN, BON JOVI, SKID ROW or MR. BIG, you can dig in with your eyes closed. You will start tapping your feet from the first moment on and you simply can’t sit still on this one. At least, I couldn’t. Same goes for “One Love”. LEE AARON fans of the first hour might love this, but the song structure could also appeal to fans of WHITESNAKE, I believe. The horns in the song are maybe a bit too much, but hey you can’t have it all. “In The Light” slows things down a bit. It’s a ballad type of song with a good guitar solo. The mini album closes with another stomper called “Streets Of New York”. It’s a melodic rocker with a catchy refrain. This is definitely not an innocent thing, like the title of this mini album would suggest. ROCK IGNITION’s new mini album will probably appeal to all the hard rock fans, who like a melodic touch and a catchy vibe here and there. Website: http://www.rockignition.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SHADOWQUEEN-Don’t Tell (Bad Reputation)
SHADOWQUEEN are from Australia and this is their debut album, which is called “Don’t Tell”. It contains eleven stout rockers, worthy of about thirty-five minutes of good solid rock. They kick off with “Best Of Me”, which is some good alternative rock, that sounds like STONE TEMPLE PILOTS with ALANIS MORISSETTE on vocals. Title track “Don’t Tell” has almost got the same beat as “Girl” from our own Dutch pride ANOUK. It’s almost as catchy too, but the guitars rock louder in this one and it even has a cool guitar solo at the end. “Any Other Day” is ready to sing along and it definitely has got a very catchy vibe. It also has a stunning beat and a damn heavy ripping guitar solo. “What You Want” could easily be on national radio, because of its catchy rhythm. Those people, who think they’re in for another radio friendly song, you may have to wait a while. As a matter of fact, “Prelude To Silence” is a short piano interlude and an introduction to “Silence”, which is on next. This sounds more alternative, but it’s definitely another foot stomper. “Karma” starts off slow, but when Robbi sets up her raw, rasping vocals and the beat starts to pump it up a notch louder, that’s when the resemblance to ALANIS MORISSETTE returns. “Bruised” is a well-deserved punch back after being bruised too many times, I guess. While “Wake Up” will definitely wake you up with its raw riffing guitars. The choir vocals are perhaps a bit too much, but they match quite well with the sound of the song. “Paint Your Face” shows how catchy this band may sound. For the last song they press out every last shot of adrenaline and turn this into the very last drop of sweat in “Get Off”. All in all, this debut turned out to be a great rock album, that may not be missed by all you female rock and metal fans out there. Besides Robbi Zana on vocals, bass and piano, SHADOWQUEEN consists of Si Hopman on guitar and backing vocals and Alex Deegan on drums. Rock from Down Under never felt this good before, but “Don’t Tell” anybody else, because this is our secret. On second thoughts, shout it out to the rest of the world, because they all have to know that it’s out there. Website: http://www.shadowqueen.com.au. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

JOANNE SHAW TAYLOR-Songs From The Road (Ruf Records)
From the series “Songs From The Road”, which are live registrations by blues rock artists, comes the release by JOANNE SHAW TAYLOR, a very gifted blues rock guitarist. She presents twelve live songs here, that blast at full speed with a total running time of seventy-five minutes. Opener “Soul Station” is full of soul, but the biting guitar solo at the end is the main reason why I am so in love with this lady. I must admit, that I like her playing a lot because of the very raw energy she unleashes on guitar. Just listen to the guitar explosion she outs at the end of the next track “Tied & Bound”. It sounds like it was being improvised right at the spot. The very loose sound leaves enough room for long instrumental parts. In some ways, the music of JOANNE SHAW TAYLOR could be compared to ANA POPOVIC, to name another female blues guitarist. However, the solos of Joanne sound a lot dirtier to me. Their vocals are quite similar, but Joanne’s voice is a little bit rawer. Influences of soul and funk are inserted in her music, but in a way it’s not affecting the overall sound too much. For example, “Beautifully Broken” has got a bit of soul, but it’s still easy on the ear. The organ has also got a big role in the sound of Joanne. I’m fine with that and I think it’s better than the sound of horns. The first solo in this song is short and clear, but the second one is nice, long and rough. “Watch ‘Em Burn” is a track to let it all out. The solo is simply mind-blowing and my thoughts go out to the late STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN or ALBERT COLLINS here. Yep, it’s that good! “Diamonds In The Dirt” is the title track of the second album that she released in 2010. It’s a song about a lost relationship and you can tell by the title alone. It’s a nice funky piece with more grinding guitar parts. One of Joanne’s inspirations, next to GLENN HUGHES and DOUG PINNICK (KING’S X) is the late guitar wizard JIMI HENDRIX and if you listen to her impression of “Manic Depression”, you’ll know why. A big surprise follows next, when Joanne turns things down a notch for a beautiful rendition of the old FRANKIE MILLER tune “Jealousy”, another prove that this lady knows her classics. “Kiss The Ground Goodbye” is taken from her debut album “White Sugar”, and it’s another blues rocker with a heart and soul and a funky vibe. “Just Another World” is a nice track, that makes you want to move to the sound of the music. A “Band Introduction” is next and we’d like to follow her example. Joanne’s band consists of Joe Veloz on bass, Tony Di Cello on drums and Jules Grudgings on keyboards. The four of them together “Jump On That Train”, the train that takes them to the end of this live registration, which is also available on DVD for the people who want to see this long haired blond guitar goddess on a big screen. The DVD contains three bonus songs, by the way. The CD closes with a song called “Going Home” and Joanne also thanks her audience. If you like a bit rougher guitar stuff than the ordinary guitar songs, then you must check out this CD for sure. JOANNE SHAW TAYLOR is a name to remember, that’s a fact. Website: http://www.joanneshawtaylor.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SIGN OF THE JACKAL-Mark Of The Beast (High Roller Records)
SIGN OF THE JACKAL from Italy are a classic true heavy metal band, that stole my heart away right from the start. Their new album “Mark Of The Beast” looks killer and it might even sound better than it looks. Opener “Voodoo” is a horror intro, which could cure you from “H.M. Possession”. In fact, it is unable to be cured, because it is in your DNA and given to you from your birth on. The fast metal sound tells me, that I’m a victim myself. Think of BLACK LACE, ACID, TAIST OF IRON and ORIGINAL SIN to get some idea of the sound of SIGN OF THE JACKAL. Just lend your ear to “The Gates” and you’ll agree with me. The original song was written by TAIST OF IRON, in case you didn’t know. “Paura Nella Citta’ Dei Morti Viventi” is on next. It’s a fast headbanger with some flashing guitar work, that will remind you of IRON MAIDEN’s early days. “Night Of The Undead” follows next. I like the way they introduce their songs with fragments of ancient horror movies. “Sign Of The Jackal” is a full speed ahead song, which will make those heads banging. What else would you do when you hear so much heavy metal mayhem coming your way? I guess, there’s no escape. The guitars make the jackal cry. After that, it’s time to turn over this piece of vinyl to the flip side. Or in this case: we’ve just listened to the ‘Mark’-side, so it’s now time for the ‘Beast’-side. This side starts with the instrumental “Paganini Horror”, which makes the link between horror and music really perfect. “Hellhounds” is another fast rocker with many flashing guitar solos, that seem to go on and on forever. “Fight For Rock” will get all those fists in the air, if only to show that you want to fight for rock. Make a statement and do it now! Another nice intro is being used for “(Heavy Metal) Demons”, which will rock the plaster off your bedroom walls. What a monster killer song, topped by the vicious high screams of Laura ‘Demons Queen’. “Queen Of Hell” is on next and I think that Laura herself can go for this title. She sure deserve it. Just listen to her icy high screams in this headbanger. The very last track of this great album is called “The Beyond”, which contains a nice speed change just before the guitars start to cry one more time. SIGN OF THE JACKAL knows how the game needs to be played, so both horns up for them. The album comes in a colorful gatefold sleeve with all the lyrics and the song titles printed on tarot cards. It looks mighty fine to me. SIGN OF THE JACKAL consists of Laura ‘Demons Queen’ on vocals, Bob on guitars, Max on guitars, Roby ‘Knife’ on bass and ‘Heavy Mate’ on drums. SIGN OF THE JACKAL is coming to get you and you’d better be prepared to get the “Mark Of The Beast” tattooed in your neck, otherwise they’ll split your skull with a cross-shaped dagger. Don’t say, I didn’t warn you! Website: http:// www.facebook.com/SignOfTheJackal. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

STAR & DAGGER-Tomorrowland Blues (Cauldron 33)
STAR & DAGGER consists of Von Hesseling on vocals, Dana She Wolf on guitar and Sean Yseult on bass. Sean will always be linked to her performances with WHITE ZOMBIE and FAMOUS MONSTERS. STAR & DAGGER delivers ten brand new tracks, that are worthy of thirty-five minutes of alternative rock. It’s the music from the swamps of New Orleans. It has a nice groove and rocks and it might even be suitable for radio airplay. “In My Blood” has got all the right ingredients you could expect from these three good looking ladies, who teamed up with drummer Dustin Crops for this album. The spoken word part in “End Of Days” may sound a bit weird, but hey you’re listening to STAR & DAGGER and this is the sound of the female rock machine in 2014 and there’s no boundaries anymore. It may remind you of THE TUBES at times. Title track “Tomorrow Blues” rocks a bit more and it’s easier on the ears in a way. A nice riff invites you to jump on the “Freak Train”. Would you dare to do it? It’s got a certain seventies feeling, because of the groove that’s being used. The darker side of the band reveals itself in the dark and slow sounding “Selling My Things”. Now I get the link with ST. VITUS and BLACK SABBATH. “Sidewinding” contains the thunderous bass sound of Sean in the intro. The lovely vocal sounds are a bit odd, if you compare this to the heavy bass sounds in the back. But hey, I warned you this is STAR & DAGGER and they don’t ride the paved paths. “Before It’s A Crime” is doomy and slow at the same time. The short instrumental mid part sounds nice and very surprising. The next song is called “Your Money”. Well, I guess it will be spend on this album, if you like what you’ve read so far. The sound of the seventies plays the first fiddle and it contains a beat, that SUZI QUATRO could have used in her early days. The alternative groove sounds very different though. “Used Me” is heavy alternative rock with lazy vocals. The bass thunders again and I must admit, that I very much like the groove of this band. “Your Mother Was A Grifter” is a very strange song. It’s a rocker and the band shot a video clip of it, so please check it out and get the idea, I would say. This is the sound of the swamps and if you get infected, you’ll get the “Tomorrowland Blues”. Website: http://www.facebook.com/staranddagger. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

STOS-Jeźdźcy Nocy (RDS Music)
Does anyone still remember STOS from Poland? I do and this is their new album called “Jeźdźcy Nocy”. It contains fourteen tracks and runs for almost seventy-five minutes, which is certainly value for money. STOS means ‘stake’, a place where you can burn, if you don’t like the music by this great old school heavy metal band, that was founded in 1981. They start in a doomy way on “Schizophrenia”, but that is just an intro. The band didn’t undergo any style changes, because soon the speed goes up and their true metal sound reveals itself. I must admit, that this album was already released in 2012, but sometimes it’s hard to trace down these exotic releases. Nonetheless, this is an essential release, that simply need to be reviewed here. “Spalinowsky Diabel (WSK) is on next and continues in the best SAXON tradition, not only because of the excellent guitar solo. The song “Heavy Metal” needs no further explanation, I guess. It’s easy to sing along to, so really perfect for a live situation. “Ascon” is an up tempo rocker with dirty riffs and nice lead guitar solos, that will remind you of the heydays of JUDAS PRIEST. “Promień Nadziei” sounds a bit more epical and slower, but the guitars still do their job and tell you to raise your fist (read: sword) in the air. “Hej Ty” has got a great beat and some nice guitar work. “Wyrocznia” is on next and although you haven’t got a clue what they are singing about, the music is an universal language and you’ll have no problems at all other than enjoying these songs. “Krajobraz Po Bitwie” may sound a bit more alternative and different, but to me it sounds like a very powerful song with a dark, ballad kind of style. “Ludzie Ciemności” is more straight forward with ACCEPT type of choir vocal parts. “Przebudzenie” has got a slow and vicious sounding pace and some nice twin lead guitar breaks. Obviously, the old school metal fan can dig in without any doubts. Just check out the nice guitar parts in this song for example. It will provide you a warm flashback to the roaring eighties, I guess. “Dia Janusza” is the ballad here, but it comes with another awesome guitar solo, just like I expected. Before you know it, we’ve almost reached the end of this album. But there’s still three more songs to go with “Za Horyzont” as galloping opener. It’s a speedy track with heavy riffs and solos and a fast drum beat, that simply can’t be topped. Title track “Jeźdźcy Nocy” is heavy and it has some choir vocals. It’s the first song, where I heard the Polish or Eastern European traditional sounds back a bit. It’s the sound of the choir vocals, that gives me that feeling. The CD closes with “Ognisty Ptak”, which features Grzegorz Kupczyk, who we all know from CETI. It’s a duet song, that can easily compete with “If I Close My Eyes Forever” for example, simply because it sounds heavier. If traditional metal is your thing and you don’t mind Polish vocals, then I’d like to advise you to check out this new STOS CD, satisfaction guaranteed. STOS consists of Irena ‘Rosa’ Bol on vocals, Jan Bol on drums, Tomasz Skorek on bass, Marcin ‘ Fronc’ Frackowiak on guitar and Lukasz ‘Kraft’ Krawiec on guitar. Visit STOS on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/stosmetal [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

TARJA-Colours In The Dark (Ear Music)
The new album of TARJA is a fact and in a full hour she presents ten brand new tracks in a very colorful design. The opener reminds me of the “Bolero” by RAVEL. At least, my thoughts go out to this classic piece of music for a second. Soon you’ll hear Tarja’s vocals, when the speed goes up and “Victim Of Ritual” receives a raw edge to it. The mix of classical and rock influences match very well together and fans of her earlier work can dig in blindfolded. Bombastic orchestration always works fine in her music and you’ll get loads of that in this first track. It’s the first single, that is pulled from this new release, by the way. “500 Letters” is on next and it contains some awesome guitar licks, that will remind you of shredders like STEVE VAI. The steady beat keeps this nice track going and TARJA gives her soprano voice a hit at the end of the song. “Lucid Dreamer” continues in a dark and more epical way. I love the middle part, in which TARJA gets away from the song and starts to walk on an instrumental side-road. It sounds psychedelic and progressive at the same time and it’s like she walks into a (Lucid) dream. After a while she returns to the actual song and to me this sounds really cool and it’s also very brave to try such an experimental sidestep, that won’t appeal to the average listener. “Never Enough” is a bit more straight forward in that perspective. A cacophony of operatic vocals, groovy guitars, a thunderous rhythm and outrageous bass parts lead you to the climax of this song, that closes heavier than you might have expected. “Mystique Voyage” is a great song in the best TARJA tradition. The end of the song sounds a bit dark and it’s a perfect step up to the next track, that’s called “Darkness”. It sounds mystique and dark and with the slightly distorted vocal parts, the song matches very well to the title of the song. The next song does that, too. Another epic track unfolds itself in a song called “Deliverance”, in which the operatic voice of TARJA returns up front in the sound. “Neverlight” is a more steady rock song with some nice operatic pull outs, a rocking beat and heavy guitar work. I must admit, that TARJA delivered a very nice album here with some exciting and surprising sidesteps, which could be called experimental at times. “Until Silence” is the obligatory ballad here and it’s time for a piece of rest. “Medusa” closes the album in a dreamy way. It’s a duet between TARJA and Justin Furstenfeld from BLUE OCTOBER. Again, it sounds different than you might expect, but it doesn’t sound bad at all. This album is not easy to handle for the rather middle of the road fan of TARJA, who travelled the whole world with her former band NIGHTWISH. This album is so far away from that sound. There may be a few resemblances here and there, but it’s not as open to the bigger rock public as you would think and therefore it sounds so much better to me. TARJA’s band consists of Alex Scholpp, Julian Barrett and Mel Wesson on guitars, Kevin Chown and Doug Wimbish on bass, Christian Kretschmar, Bary Hendrickson, Tim Palmer, Torsten Stenzel and Mel Wesson on keyboards, Luis Conte on percussion and Max Lillia and Caroline Lavelle on cello. I would almost give this a full score, but I’d like to leave something to wish for on her next album. Website: http://www.tarjaturunen.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

3 KISSES-All Or Nothing Hero (Rat Pak Records)
There are thirteen songs and about fifty minutes of brand new music on this new album of 3 KISSES. The band starts with the title track “All Or Nothing Hero”, a nice fast rock song with a punk attitude and a nice guitar solo. The catchy songs are radio friendly and ready to sing along to. Your mind will go out to KELLY CLARKSON, AVRIL LAVIGNE or perhaps a lighter version of JOAN JETT. Just listen to “Save Me”, which is on next. It’s topped by a nice guitar solo and the song is easy on the ears. “We’re Through” opens with a nice rock riff and Tish Meeks shows that she knows how to write a catchy rock tune. The lady lived in Texas, but packed her bags and moved to Alaska from where she started up her band again. This did have some impact on the line-up of 3 KISSES, which now consists of Tish herself on vocals and guitar, Nate Lankford on lead guitar and backing vocals, Scott Roseman on bass and backing vocals and Nate Rouse on drums and backing vocals. “Terminal Adolescents” is next and has a more punk vocal style again. Same goes for “Move On”, where the band presses the pedal to the metal. It never gets too extreme, but there’s a lot to enjoy for the average rock and punk fan. Just have a listen to the more JOAN JETT meets RAMONES rocker “Tragedy”, where the more punk style takes over. “Can’t Stop Loving You” is made for radio airplay, although it contains maybe too much raw edges to make this happen. The guitar solo sounds quite nice again. In “Shut You Out”, the 3 KISSES rock it out loud one more time and the guitars roar wild in this one. “Raise Your Hands” will easily become a crowd’s favorite during their live gigs, I think. It’s perfect to shout along to. “Only One Who Gets Me” has the speed of a RAMONES song. “Pick me Up” is another punk rock song and the perfect music to throw in a rock party on a Saturday night. These three minute songs will get you pretty easily. “Don’t Underestimate Me” sounds melodic and punk styled at the same time. Just think of a band like GREEN DAY here, who became million sellers with a sound like that. The slowest song is kept for last, in which they ask themselves “Does It Matter”. Yes it does, my answer would be, because this song nicely builds itself up to explode in a great guitar solo at the end. You can also rock in Alaska, and prove is given by Tish and her 3 KISSES. Get your rocks, too and find all the details about this band at http://www.3kisses.com and get ready to throw in a wild party with this one. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

TOTHEM-Beyond The Sea (Maple Metal Records)
TOTHEM hails from Rome, which will be our summer holiday destination in 2014. Their new album contains twelve songs and it’s worthy of a bit more than forty-five minutes of symphonic gothic metal with female vocals. “Run To You” opens the album in a firm way with loud riffs, a fast beat, burning hot guitar licks and keyboard sounds and topped by some soprano vocals. For this first song, the band also shot a video clip. “Smile Again” brings some joy in your life and will make you smile again. The sound may remind you of old WITHIN TEMPTATION songs. With “This Is The Time” you can add EPICA to that list, but it sounds less bombastic and a bit rougher maybe. “Light Of Soul” opens with a piano and it unfolds itself as another track, that will make you think of the better WITHIN TEMPTATION material, melodic and gothic at the same time. “Rescue” starts with loud guitars and shows the more rocking side of the band. The soprano vocals of Roslen shows up well in title track “Beyond The Sea”, where she treats us on some firm pull outs. Especially that last high pull out is quite impressive, as far as I’m concerned. Don’t you think so? “Fight With You” is closed with some fiery guitar parts. “The Witch” opens quite jolly and you know, that the witch they sing about is a friendly lady. You might even think of BLACKMORE’S NIGHT during that one. It contains some nice soprano pull outs as well at the end of the song. Obviously, there’s a lot of variation in their songs. I would even go so far to compare the very beginning of “So Close So Far Away” to SAGA or SURVIVOR. Only for a small moment though, but still there is some resemblance here. “Cross The Line is the next move they make here. The bass roars, the guitar riffs roar and a nice keyboard sound opens this track. Again Roslen shows that she is able to pull out some great soprano vocals. She is definitely getting away with different styles of singing, which is good for the variation on the album. “Still” is a song, in which the band shows itself in full action, but the main focus is on the great vocal parts of Roslen. This album closes with “Where The Angels Lie” (I think that must be somewhere beyond the sea). It’s time to introduce the band to you now. TOTHEM consists of Roslen on vocals, Black Cyril on guitar and backing vocals, Marco on keyboards, Leo on bass and Andrea The Joker on drums. If melodic, symphonic, gothic metal, sometimes topped by beautiful soprano vocal parts is your thing, then look any further and grab your copy. Website: http://www.facebook.com/tothemband. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

TOUCHSTONE-Oceans Of Time (No Evil/Cherry Red Records)
I already envy TOUCHSTONE for the title of their album. They seem to have “Oceans Of Time”, while most of the time I wish that a day had forty-eight hours instead of twenty-four. The band hails from England and their new album contains ten tracks that run for fifty-five minutes. TOUCHSTONE consists of Rob Cottingham on keyboards and lead vocals, Adam Hodgson on guitar, Andre ‘Moo’ Moorghen on bass, Kim ‘Elkie’ Seviour on vocals and Henry Rogers on drums. So far this is all the information you need to enjoy this album to the max. The album opens with “Flux”, which shows us that we’re dealing with a progressive rock / metal band here. Kim’s vocals match well with the fiery guitar riffs and the melodic keyboard parts. The mood changes in “Flux” show up unexpectedly and make you aware of the fact, that we’re not dealing with a band that cares to ride the paved path. Instead they seek some adventure and put it into their songs, which is very nice for the fans. “Contact” sounds a bit like PORCUPINE TREE and PINK FLOYD, until Kim starts to sing. While “Tabonia Rasa” might appeal to a lot of listeners of today’s modern music. The pull outs of Kim sound quite impressive and obviously, she lays her body and soul into these songs the best way possible. The drum parts sound very innovative and are not just a bunch of rhythm parts, as you sometimes might hear by other drummers. The Eastern sounding intro of “Fragments” is different, but when the guitar is added, the rocking character of the song is there again. However, the exotic influences remain in the background. I hear more modern influences in “Spirit Of The Age” which is a mix of fiery progressive rock and modern pop rock backed up by a voice, that sounds like it comes straight from a computer. It sounds very futuristic and spacey at times, but the instrumental closing part sounds great and very explosive. In “Shadow’s End” we hear lead vocals by Rob, who puts his keyboards up front in the mix as well. Again this song shows the true progressive style of this band, that shoots itself from one style to another and back. Maybe it’s not the easiest album to comprehend, but it’s definitely a nice one, that makes you aware of how nice music can be, when it’s performed well. “Solace 2013” starts out as a ballad type of song, but when the instrumental part starts, the power is there as well. “Through The Night” features SOLACE. The song appears two times right after each other. A strange idea maybe, but it proves that you can expect the unexpected here. The guitar sounds very explosive and rough in the long version, while the short version that follows is nothing more than a short intermezzo and an intro to “Oceans Of Time”, which is the lengthy title track and also the last song on the album. The exciting part starts about halfway, when the instrumental piece takes us into the deep oceans. TOUCHSTONE is definitely a band for people, who are looking for adventure and not for the ‘easy on the ear’ three minute songs, that are on every local radio station. Taste some, you might like it. Website: http://www.touchstonemusic.co.uk. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

TRISTANIA-Darkest White (Napalm Records)
The new album of TRISTANIA is a ten tracker, that is worthy of about fifty minutes of glorious dark sounding gothic metal. The album opens with “Number”, in which the male vocals by Kjetil Nordhus rule. The band must now be described as an Italian, Norwegian metal outfit, because female vocalist Mariangela Demurtas hails from Italy and her voice matches well with the sound of Kjetil’s aggressive voice. Title track “Darkest White” (good title, by the way) is on next and the band shows their energetic side here. Brutal choir vocals rule this song, which is suitable to sing along to. It could very well be a LORDI song as well, in my opinion. “Himmerfal” sounds darker and contains some brutal metal riffs. The two singers exchange vocal lines and I must admit, that Mariangela is once again the big winner. “Requiem” is more gothic and here the brutal voice of Kjetil shows off well in my opinion. “Diagnostic” almost sounds atmospheric in a way and the two vocalists give their best shot. “Scarling” sounds very gothic and for sure TRISTANIA is trying to put more variation into their music. “Night On Earth” sounds like a heavy version of the old GATHERING sound, including some black metal like growls and screams by Kjetil. “Lavender” is supposed to sound gentile and it does in this gothic metal song, that seems to float along in the darkest of night. “Cypher” is the darkness itself with Kjetil on vocals. It sounds quite bombastic, like the music in a horror movie. It’s very emotional and works itself to a nice climax. The album closes with the groovy “Arteries”, which has another leading role for the male vocals. Sometimes there’s even some black metal vocals, but the female vocals show up less frequently in the sound of TRISTANIA and that is a bit of a shame. The sober dark sounds remain though. TRISTANIA consists of Mariangela Demurtas on vocals, Kjetil Nordhus on vocals, Anders Høyvik Hidle on guitar and vocals, Ole Vistnes on bass and vocals, Gyri Losnegaard on guitar, Einar Moen on keyboards and Tarald Lie on drums. Website: http://www.tristania.com [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

VALKYRE-Our Glorious Demise (Valkyre Rising)
VALKYRE hails from Belgium and presents their album “Our Glorious Demise”, which contains ten tracks and runs for forty minutes. The sound of VALKYRE could be described as gothic, melodic metal. In opener “Stories”, they start things up slowly and a nice speed change gets this thing going. When the guitar solo appears, it puts a bit more spice into the nice melodic sound of this band. A great opener, which shows that we’re dealing with a very energetic band here. I like the classical instrumental part at the end of this song a lot, I must say. The “Call Of The Valkyre” is on next and we hear a more neo-classical guitar sound, which could very well be from someone like YNGWIE J MALMSTEEN. This Belgian band consists of two female members and next to vocalist Claudia Michelutti, the band also has Nele Colle on keyboards. The neo-classical part continues, when the guitarist takes his short solo part at the end of this song. The bombastic medieval choir vocals match well with the sound of the band in “A Good Day To Die”, which is a very dark track. “Will U Be There” is lighter and sounds more like BLACKMORE’S NIGHT, including the violins and medieval orchestration. The name of THERION might pop up from time to time as well. “Walk My Love” sounds like a very emotional love song. It’s the sweetness between the bitter delights. In “Consolamentum” the medieval choir vocals are there again for a short moment, but the guitars show up, too. “Wide Awake” is a furious and bombastic rock song with some NIGHTWISH and EPICA influences, but then without the operatic voice. It also has a very catchy feeling. “Mother” is an up tempo song, but it ends quite abruptly. The violin parts in “Whispering Thoughts” are attractive and this is another melodic masterpiece with some orchestral pieces. The guitar solo seems to come from out of nowhere and beefs up the sound a little. The album closes tenderly with “I Am Here”. “Our Glorious Demise” is a highly enjoyable album for rock and metal fans, because of the variation in the songs. VALKYRE consists of Claudia Michelutti on vocals, Nele Colle on keyboards, Erik Vanhauwaert on guitar, Kris Scheerlinck on guitar, Tom Everaert on bass and Peter van Sweevelt on drums. Website: http://www.facebook.com/ValkyreMusic. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

VANROYA-One (Voice Music)
VANROYA shows what the power metal scene in Brazil is all about. Their album contains over fifty minutes of mind-blowing metal, which is divided over ten tracks. Opener “All Becomes One” is just an intro, after which the galloping rhythm will be unleashed in the fiery “The Last Free Land” with neo-classical guitar parts, a haunting rhythm and the powerful vocals by Daisa Munhoz. A great opener, to stretch your neck muscles a bit for the things to come. In “No Oblivion For Eternity” the band shows that their classical inspired power metal sound is very powerful indeed and quite exciting. Think about competitors like KAMELOT, ANGRA and EVERGREY here. In “Within Shadows”, they throw in some IRON MAIDEN riffs as well. The speed goes up after the intro and the neo-classical style of playing is back again. The jazzy, samba interlude gives away the Brazilian mentality of the band. After an instrumental intro, “Anthems For The Sun” starts, in which the bands gives it their very best shot. Then, after a whole lot of powerful musicianship, it’s time for a little piece of rest in the ballad type of song “Why Should We Say Goodbye”, which was on their 2005 EP next to “Within Shadows”. The guitar solos, that follow each other quickly, are being played with a lot of emotion. Then the wild bashing starts again with “Change The Tide”, in which the band teams up with Leandro Caçoilo (SOULSPELL, SEVENTH SEAL) for a powerful duet. “When Heaven Decides To Call” is on next. It shows, that VANROYA is definitely a great new addition in the power metal scene. “This World Of Yours” is the highlight on the album for me, because of the hot guitar moves, that are really steaming. The galloping rhythm in combination with the vocals of Daisa turn this song into a great power metal tune. Much too soon, the album closes with “Solar Night”, which starts with the sound of a piano. They poke up the heat one more time and prove that VANROYA is definitely one hot new power metal band. This album contains all the aspects, that you may wish for and at the end they all become one. http://www.vandroya.com will give you all the latest details about this Brazilian act, that consists of Daisa Munhoz on vocals, Marco Lambert on guitars, Rodolfo Pagotto on guitar, Giovanni Perlati on bass and Otávio Nuñez on drums. Be prepared to hear more about them in the near future. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

WOLVESPIRIT-Dreamcatcher (Spirit Stone Records)
Psychedelic rock from Germany that has one foot in the seventies and the other in the new millennium. That’s what you get, when you put this new WOLVESPIRIT CD in your stereo. Think about CRY OF LOVE, HAWKWIND, LED ZEPPELIN with ALANIS MORISSETTE mixed with JANIS JOPLIN on vocals. All these names will go through your mind, when listening to opener “Blowin Up”. At least, it did with me. For a moment you’ll think that you’re listening to an alternative version of ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky”, when they start up “Holy Smoke”. The mid-piece sounds psychedelic again with distorted vocals. The rock and roll level comes from the keyboards rather than the guitars, but the outcome is the same. It rocks your world. “Making Me Wild” is based on the sound of the seventies. The best way to enjoy this is with a thick joint, I guess. Not that I smoke that stuff, but I can picture that in my mind. “From Venus I Came” is a song written for the female singer, because women come from Venus and men from Mars, so the story goes. It has a lot of jamming, where there is room for a lot of improvisation. I also spot a touch of DEEP PURPLE here, because of the organ sound. A steady beat opens title track “Dreamcatcher”, which is next on the list. A freaky song with a nice keyboard part unfolds itself. “Crossroads” has a laid back sound with a slightly BLACK LABEL SOCIETY attitude to it. “Gypsy Queen” is a loud rocker with a nice speed change in the middle of the song. The instrumental parts reminded me of DEEP PURPLE. “Raven” is a dreamy song and you will feel the urge to be lazy and do nothing. When you “Wake Up”, the band is rocking like never before and I’m glad it only lasted for one song. The CD closes with “Space Tripper”. It contains spacey keyboard sounds, but this time the band stays too low near the ground and don’t reach the sky, that they’re aiming to reach. WOLVESPIRIT is a nice rock outfit, that impresses me most when they freak out, but sometimes they sound not rocking enough and a bit too dreamy for my taste. If you like this sound, then I’d suggest to put a flower in your hair and dance to the sound of WOLVESPIRIT’s “Dreamcatcher”. The album contains ten tracks and runs for fifty-five minutes. The band consists of Andy on bass, Moritz Müller on drums, Rin Eberlein on guitars, Oliver Eberlein on organ and Debby Kaye on vocals. Peace. Website: http://www.facebook.com/WolveSpiritBand. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

YOUR LAST WISH-Desolation (Maple Metal Records)
Get ready for some melodic death metal from Canada. It might be your last wish. The eleven tracks on this second album are worthy of forty-five minutes of (very) brutal heavy metal mayhem. The instrumental “Intro” leads you to “Crisis To Creation”. The galloping polka beats, CRADLE OF FILTH-like screams and wild metal riffs are doing the job. The vocals come from Roxana Bouchard and she can scream brutal as hell. At full speed, they ramble on with wild excitement. In an “Autistic Mind”, there is no room for structure and the band bashes on at full speed here, too. If Roxana can’t blow your mind, then who can? She’s definitely a very wild and crazy front lady, who can easily measure her strength with fellow shouters such as Angela Gossow and Sabina Classen. Just check out that last impressive scream of her in “Hastening Death”. It will astonish you. In “Le Pacte”, the band is still full speed ahead. It’s a French titled song, because YOUR LAST WISH is from the French speaking part of Canada. “Collision Course” sounds exciting and wild and contains some marvelous guitar licks in the solo part. The speed changes sound adventurous, too. “Standstill” is no order. It’s just a song title, because I bet that you can’t stand still on this one. At the same speed the band cranks out “Creep”. The brutality stays the same. It’s in “Experiments” (What a surprising title!) that the band takes back some speed and plays a short slow instrumental interlude. The guns are being loaded one more time for the last two salvos being “Mutation” and title track “Desolation”. “Mutation” is a brutal ear attack with groovy riffs and fast blast beats. The vocals of Roxana will make you think that she has just been eaten a whole lot of mutilated meat. The end of the song is creepy and could very well be the soundtrack for a horror movie or a thriller of some kind. It flows seamlessly over into “Desolation”, which will get all those heads banging up and down. It has got the right speed anyway. Make your last wish, because otherwise desolation will come upon you. Don’t say we didn’t warn you! YOUR LAST WISH consists of Roxana Bouchard on vocals, JF Gagné on guitar, Dave Gagné on guitar, Louis Goulet on bass and Steven Vaccarella on drums. Website: http://www.facebook.com/yourlastwishqc. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

EP/7 inch vinyl/CD single REVIEWS

ARKHAM WITCH-Hammerstorm (CD single) (Hellride Music)
This three track CD single contains a bit over twenty minutes of old school heavy metal / doom metal. The West Yorkshire based band opens with the lengthy title track, which runs for almost twelve minutes. “Hammerstorm” combines the best of bands like MANOWAR, MANILLA ROAD and SAINT VITUS and blends it to a sound of their own. The instrumental intro contains some blasting bass parts, thunderous drum rolls and an exciting grooving guitar. The vocals of Simon sound very much like the dark brown voice of Mark ‘The Shark’ Shelton of MANILLA ROAD. It’s like he’s holding a speech in front of a large crowd, accompanied by some music in the background. After about five minutes, the speed goes up and the band starts another instrumental adventure in the fourth gear. For the closing part, they take back some speed and the storm has calmed down. “For Metal” shows the true metal spirit of this band. ARKHAM WITCH may sound a bit doomy at times, but you can sense the true metal feeling in everything the band does. Their CANDLEMASS crossed with SAINT VITUS approach will definitely make your head shake to this one, I’m sure about that. “Metal Queen” must be a tribute to drummer Emily, who bashes it out so loud that she must be called a metal queen. The ACCEPT-like song structures might be away from the well-known sound by this band, but it sure turns this into a hell of a song. ARKHAM WITCH consists of Simon Iff? on vocals and bass, Emily Ningauble on drums, John ‘JD’ Demaine on bass and guitar, Ray Singh on bass and Aldo ‘Dodo’ on guitar. Website: http://www.facebook.com/ArkhamWitch. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CYNTHIA-Run To The Future (EP) (Spinning)
Let’s not look back anymore, but let’s “Run To The Future”. This is the advice given by Japanese all-female outfit CYNTHIA. The four tracks will rock your world for about twenty minutes. “Run To The Future” is a fiery start in the fourth gear. CYNTHIA consists of Saki on vocals, Yui on guitar and backing vocals, Kanoko on drums and backing vocals, Ayano on keyboards and backing vocals and Airi on bass and vocals. Their speedy metal contains mind-blowing guitar licks and heavy drum rolls and their sound is highly comparable to the greatest all-female band from Japan, SHOW YA. This really taste for more. Just listen to the sharp riffs that open “Meteor Calling”. Wow, this sounds amazing! The keyboards are always an important instrument in the Japanese metal scene and CYNTHIA is no exception. The instrument plays a very prominent role in their sound. The solo part however will always be reserved for the fiery guitar work, which is ultra-fast and quite brutal. “Voice” is a ballad type of song with nice guitar work. I love the modesty in Japanese ballads. It’s a small piece of rest, before they poke up the fire again. Finally, they crank out the instrumental version of title track “Run To The Future”. CYNTHIA brings out the very best in Japanese metal and I am waiting patiently for a full-length by these ladies, who rock with their heart. Both horns up for CYNTHIA \m/ \m/ Website: http://www.cynthia.jp. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DR. X-Meet The Doctor (EP) (independent)
Have you ever been to a doctor lately? I try to distance myself as far as I can from these white coated surgeons. But I simply can’t help it to meet DR. X here. It’s a five piece outfit from Spain, that presents their five track EP, which runs for about twenty-five minutes. It contains four own penned songs and a NEIL YOUNG cover (somebody get me a doctor now!). The band consists of Victor Torrent on drums, Mayer on bass, Guillem Martinez on guitar, Alex Ertack on guitar and the lovely Karry on vocals. Look at the picture on the front cover of this EP and be prepared to “Get Injected” by this creepy looking crook, that calls himself a doctor. Don’t believe this man. He is Doctor X and he’ll inject you with poison, that will make your blood boil. In the meantime, my blood boils from excitement from what I hear on this track. Fast drum beats, twin axe work and a loud shouting front lady, who knows to make you scream. This is only a pre-taste of what will come. But it will already make you “Hungry For Metal”, so much is for sure. Influences of NWOBHM are undeniable here, but also old school metal fans of bands like WASP or THE RODS can take a bite. “One In A Million” is a ballad, which sounds very nice. The guitar solo takes the speed up a little and adds some wild meat to this lengthy piece of tenderness. While “God Bless Hell” will get those fists in the air, especially when the guitars start crying. The groovy riffs will make you jump for joy and shake those heads up and down. DR.X knows what’s good for you and that’s a true statement. I must say, that I was really flabbergasted to see that “Rocking In The Free World” of NEIL YOUNG is on this EP as well. DR.X. gave it a rock treatment and a metal make over and now it sounds like a good metal song. So, that classic tune has been cured from its diseases now. Mind you, I don’t hate the original song, but this version sounds so much better. DR.X will cure your soul. The recipe is to play this one as loud as you possibly can. It’s just what the doctor ordered. Website: http://www.drxofficialband.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

GUERRERA-Guerrera Of Metal (7 inch vinyl) (Anger Of Records)
Aaaaaaarrrrgggggghhhhh!!! What power!! “Guerrera Of Metal” sounds like the Argentinian sister of legendary cult metal band ACID from Belgium. This is absolutely fabulous! The fast drums, the voice of singer Romi Guerrera and the great guitar riffs sound marvelous, powerful, destructible and particularly ultra-loud. “Oscuridad” is true headbanger. The guitars cry out loud and Romi sounds evil and wild, although the speed has been tied down to let’s say normal proportions. GUERRERA steals my heart away though with the two songs, that are on side A (or as it’s called here: ‘side metal’) of this seven inch. What a great way to impress the reviewer. The band logo alone is really worth to mention. It looks a bit like the MOTÖRHEAD sign, but it’s packed with chains coming out of its mouth and lances that are crossed behind the logo. This is the purest form of heavy metal and when you look at the picture of Romi on the sleeve, you’ll see that she’s decorated with leather, spikes and chains. Besides Romi, the band consists of Steve Breaker on drums, Nick Banger on guitars and backing vocals and Nikkey Energetic on bass. But there is more. Flip over the seven inch to “Hombre De Crystal” (‘side crystal’). This is speed metal at breaking neck speed. GUERRERA is the finest in Argentinian speed metal and I’d like to recommend this seven inch to everyone who is addicted to old school heavy speed metal. It’s destructive - just like it is meant to be. The seven inch is on black vinyl and we’ve got number 157 of 500 copies. Website: http://www.facebook.com/GUERRERAOFMETAL? [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

MIDNITE HELLION-Hour Of The Wolf (7 inch vinyl) (Witches Brew)
A seven inch on dark blue vinyl. I am a happy man already. The front sleeve looks bloody and although I haven’t heard one single note by this band, one thing’s for sure: you can’t escape from the claws of this vicious monster. It’s a wolfshead with long, sharp nailed claws. These are the very last things, that you will see before your skull splits in half. When I turn the sleeve, a big smile appears on my face. I know that female singer. She’s the female siren of TWILIGHT ODYSSEY. P.J. Berlinghof is now a shouter for MIDNITE HELLION. No time to waste. My hands are shaking, when I turn up the volume. Singles like that need to be played at high volume, so the neighbors will know that a new record of great taste arrived at our house. “Hour Of The Wolf” is the ‘witches-side’, which stands for the A-side in the medieval eighties. The PRIEST-like guitars, that open this wild track, will get my head banging right from the start. The speed change is nice and when P.J. starts her vocal lines I am in rock and roll heaven. I’d like to make a second comparison and that’s theTexas metal band HELSTAR. When P.J. cranks out the words ‘dark witchery’, she sings it like she really meant it. There is a lot of temper in her voice after all these years. We are awaiting for the guitar solo now and when you know P.J. a little, you know what to expect. The solos could very well be on the earlier IRON MAIDEN albums. They could make a wolf turn his back on you with their tail between his legs. Sharp as a dagger and dipped in the most poisonous venom they fly around. The last shouts of P.J. at the end of the song sound fantastic, too. What a great track and this is only just the beginning. The ‘brew-side’ or what we would call the B-side is entitled “The Morrigan”. For those of you who do not know, the morrigan is a goddess of war. She is actually three goddesses in one, consisting of Badb, Macha and Nemain, but you can forget this again if you want to, because it’s the music that counts here. The guitar riffs are good enough for a full score already. Yeah baby, that’s the way I like it. It’s not too extreme and there is some melody in here as well. The stout vocals of P.J. stand proud among the loud riffs. Of course, she has been there before. The nice twin parts will remind you of PRIEST again. If this is the sound of MIDNITE HELLION on their hopefully soon to be released full-length album, then you’d better count me in. The guitar solos will blow you away and I’m so glad, that we found out about this new outfit of P.J. Besides her, the band consists of Drew Rizzo on bass, Nick DiGiovacchino on guitar, Dan Sclavi on guitar and backing vocals and Bill Dripps on bass and backing vocals. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that a full-length album will follow soon. Until that happens, I will be very happy playing this blue vinyl disc. Website: http://www.midnitehellion.com. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

THE AGONY-Loud & Furious (EP) (independent)
THE AGONY hails from Czechia and this EP contains four tracks, that are worthy of sixteen minutes of heavy metal mayhem. The band is very interesting for us, because it is an all-female metal band, which is always asking for some special attention here. The band consists of Nikola ‘Niky’ Kandoussi on vocals and rhythm guitar, Jarka Cervenáková on drums, Katerina ‘Katie Skatie’ Sýkorová on bass and Tereza Psenciková on guitar. The first track on this EP has a sober instrumental intro, which leads you to “T.W.S.”, which stand for “The Whore Song”. The production could have been better, but the song rocks out loud. It sounds like a mix between ROCK GODDESS and GIRLSCHOOL, especially in the end this resemblance is very striking. The band also made a video clip for this song. “Kick Ass” is a great up tempo rocker with a slightly punk feeling, because of the vocals. The guitar solo is fuzzy with a whole lot of wah-wah. They’re really kicking ass on this one. “Rockin’” is another simple title, which does what it says, it’s a rocking song. It even contains some slower moments. This doesn’t happen in the flashing EP closer “”Zivel” though. I think, that we hear THE AGONY at their very best here. The natural flow, where the solo starts is mind-blowing and I simply love that song. Jarka impresses in the last few seconds with some nice drum rolls and then the EP is over. “Loud & Furious” is definitely worth checking out. Also check out the band’s profile on http://www.bandzone.cz/theagony or go to their facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/theagonycz. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE OATH-Night Child (7 inch vinyl) (High Roller Records)
The OATH is a multinational band with two female members in it. Two songs are on the single. “Night Child” and “Black Rainbow” are nice mixes of different metal styles. Let’s start with the fast banger “Night Child”, which has a RAINBOW type of sound, but with a blasting bass rhythm that could also be on any MOTÖRHEAD album. Two extremes united in one, topped with the nice voice of Johanna Sadonis. The mid-piece sounds spooky and contains Johanna with a whispering voice. Thoughts about THE DEVIL’S BLOOD might occur from now on, because there are also some psychedelic slants here. The heavy riffs will make it more enjoyable for the metal heads out there though. “Black Rainbow” opens with a high peeping guitar sound. It has a NWOBHM feeling mixed with a doomy touch. Obviously, the band has covered a lot of different influences on these two songs. Hopefully, this band will present more of these catchy ear attacks on their first full-length album, that will be out soon. The sad news however reached our office not long ago, is that THE OATH has officially split up. We will review their debut full-length album soon, which is here waiting for me. THE OATH consisted of Johanna Sadonis on vocals, Linnea Olsson on guitars, Simon Bouteloup on bass and Vincent Wager on drums. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

PAST UNDONE-Time Lapse (EP) (independent)
This EP runs for a bit over twelve minutes and contains three songs. PAST UNDONE hails from Portugal and consists of André Reis on guitar, Liliana Boaventura on bass, Sara Henriques on keyboards and Vitor Dantas on drums. Metal is the main music style, their songs are based upon, but there are some side steps from jazz, gothic and doom metal to be found here as well. “Condemned By Scars” opens this EP with raw grunts and adventurous steps, that contain some of the aforementioned influences. “Place In Heaven” sounds more dreamy, but also has the normal female voice next to the brutal male grunt. The title track is saved for last. It’s the most gothic sounding of them all and at times it sounds a bit doomy, too. There is still a long way to go for PAST UNDONE, but the music of these three songs could easily appeal to many female-fronted metal fans, I guess. I think that having a taste of this, won’t hurt you much. Website: http:// www.pastundone.bancamp.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

RUTHLESS STEEL-Die In The Night (EP) (Iron On Iron Records)
Greek metallers RUTHLESS STEEL present their EP, which contains four songs and a bit over fifteen minutes of true heavy metal. Title track “Die In The Night” takes off in fourth gear with skull splitting riffs. We saw the band play at Mario’s Metal Meeting in Tilburg last year and they really blew the roof off that night. “Die In The Night” contains the high screams of Aliki K, who impresses me a lot. The guitar solos are fast and the true metal sound is ear splitting. “Ruthless Steel” introduces the band a bit closer. If heavy metal is your thing, then lend an ear to this. Double leads start off and this time, Aliki uses her sweet voice in the first part of the song. A bit later she uses her more vicious voice. After some pull outs, the guitars start their solo spot. The old sound of bands like BLACK LACE and WARLOCK come to mind and gets close to what RUTHLESS STEEL is all about. “Heart On Fire” is the obligatory ballad on this EP. The warm, emotional vocals of Aliki easily clears this job. She switches from high screams in one track to emotional vocals in the next one without any problems. In “Power Of Hate”, the power returns and the firm riffs enter your room. GRIM REAPER fans will love this one. I like the speed change in the middle, where a darker piece of spooky sounding metal appears. The icy scream of Aliki introduces the guitar solo. For me, it’s by far one of the best songs on this four track EP. For one time the speed goes up, before the final chords of this song are being played. RUTHLESS STEEL is a name to remember. The band consists of Aliki K. on vocals, Nick C on bass, Constantine P on guitar and Andreas Kar on drums. Website: http://www.ruthlesssteel.wix.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SCARVED-MMXIII (EP) (Independent)
Three songs are on this EP, that runs about thirteen minutes. The band hails from Belgium and they exist about two years now. Their music can be described as classic rock. The opener “A Vampire’s Tale” has got a rocking sound, that may please fans of bands like LED ZEPPELIN, but also Southern rock fans may want to check this one out. Caro has got a nice voice to listen to and the drums beat firmly in the parts, where the speed goes up. The riffs in the instrumental part sound more brutal than the rest of the song and the solo is great, too. All in all, this is a very pleasant surprise. When you would judge the band by its cover, then your mind will directly go out to a more gothic or symphonic sound, but you’ll be surprised that’s not the case at all. The second song is called “Devil In Disguise”, which is built upon a firm beat. My mind goes out to LED ZEPPELIN (again) without calling this band a simple LED ZEPPELIN copycat, because they show enough face of their own here. The female vocals take care of that. The stunning beat also refers to a band like THE FREE. It’s like a steam train rolling in. “Brainfog” shows a more catchy side of the SCARVED. They still sound groovy, but a bit easier on the ears. SCARVED will easily rock your party with songs like that. They consist of the beautiful Caro (Caroline Verboven) on vocals, Luc van Dessel on guitar (ex-TAILS BLUE), ‘Wowie’ Wim Wouters on bass (ex-TAILS BLUE, ex-ORACLE) and Geert (ex-THE POLITICS OF EXPERIENCE) on drums. On http://www.scarved.be ,you will read more details about this well-talented Belgian rock band. Turn it up, guys!! [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SELENE-Among The Frozen (EP) (independent)
SELENE hails from Northern Ireland and delivers a sound, that might remind you of bands such as EPICA or NIGHTWISH. Their symphonic gothic metal is captured well on this six track EP, that runs for about twenty-five minutes. The EP opens with “Peace Of Mind”, which is an up tempo track with operatic vocals, choir vocals, and loud riffing guitars, that are not afraid to play solos as well, luckily. In “ ‘Till The Shadows”, the vocals of Shonagh Lyons sound like a mix between Tarja Turunen in the soprano parts and Sharon den Adel in the more regular parts. Again the atmospheric sounding band colors within the carved line, but the guitar puts some extra color to the whole picture, that is drawn here. “End Of It All” starts dark and sober and a male voice is added to the pallet of sounds. John Connor takes care of this and it sounds quite nice to me. In “Ghost”, Shonagh is accompanied by a piano. It sounds sober, but very warm and gentle at the same time. It makes you think of “My Immortal” by EVANESCENCE in a way. “The Codex” continues, which is a quite different tune. John shows his skills on guitar and you can’t say that this is the same band, that played such a fragile ballad type of song just a minutes ago. The song remains instrumental and captures the wildest moments on this EP, which closes with a song called “Rain”. The vocals by Shonagh may sound a bit monotonous here, but I think that I would sound the same, when standing in the rain for a couple of hours. It’s just a minor detail of a band, that shows us that symphonic gothic metal can be still very enjoyable. Visit http://www.selene-theband.co.uk for all the latest news about SELENE, that consists of John Connor on guitar and keyboards, Shonagh Lyons on vocals, Thomas Alford on bass and Cameron Åshlund-Glass on drums. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

WILD WITCH-Burning Chains (EP) (independent)
This WILD WITCH hails from Curitiba in Brazil. The foundation of this quartet was laid in 2006 in a band called CRUSHER, where two band members played together in a thrash / speed metal band. It’s eight years later now and WILD WITCH presents a four track EP now, which plays for almost seventeen minutes. Three own penned tracks and a TOKYO BLADE cover are being presented here, starting with “Trail Of Bones”. Influences range from old school heavy metal and NWOBHM and the songs are made to shout along to and raise your fist upon. “Burning Chains” is the title track and the speed goes up on this one. WARLOCK’s “Burning The Witches” comes close, when we talk about influences here, but this one’s definitely faster. The guitar solos are heavenly and also the female vocal parts of Flav are breathtaking. “Witchripper” sounds like the old school SAXON, especially the firm riffs in the beginning. As you can see, this band knows their classics and it’s great to hear that new bands know how to sound old school in these days. It’s like this EP was recorded in nineteen-eighty so much. The TOKYO BLADE cover I spoke about a little while ago is “Rock Me To The Limit” from their 1984 “Night Of The Blade” album. WILD WITCH stands proud and gives you a stunning performance of this NWOBHM anthem. The part, in which Flav moans sexy is the cherry on the cake here. It’s time to push the ‘repeat’ button again after this, because this tastes for more! Let this WILD WITCH rock your world, too. The band consists of Flav Scheidt on vocals, Felipe ‘Rippervert’ on bass, Mariano Burich on guitar and Weiberlan Garcia on drums. Visit http://www.wildwitch.com.br for all the latest information about this great old school metal band from Brazil. There’s more in the world than the FIFA World Cup, you know! The band is currently working on a full-length album, so stay tuned for more about this promising band in the near future. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

[Updated: July 01, 2014]

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