After a very promising and fresh sounding EP titled “Paradise (What About Us?)”, Within Temptation finally unleashes their latest full-length “Hydra”. In this release the band continues their push for mainstream recognition and glory with some extremely unexpected collaborations and a handful of songs that still remind us of the older roots of the band’s beginnings.
The album opens with the final version of “Let Us Burn”, a track that is still as good and efficient as on their previous EP but with nice finishing touches. The band manages to sound like their old self with heavy guitars and lush orchestrations. The first guest appearance is marked by the vocals of Howard Jones on “Dangerous”. This track is quite heavy and enjoyable since both vocalists do a great job and the music is quite well developed.
Featuring 60% of the members of Transcending Bizarre?, Hail Spirit Noir delivers their sophomore release with “Oi Magoi”. Featuring a very intriguing and elegant mixture of Psychedelic Rock, Progressive Black Metal, and some magical Avant-garde elements, this release blooms for over 45 minutes of truly unique sonic landscapes.
The release blasts opens with the psychedelically charged “Blood Guru”, a track that is quite well layered and allows all the band’s influences to immediately shine through. The elegant finish to this song oozes melodic brilliance and posture. It is quite interesting to hear elements from bands like Jess and the Ancient Ones and Jex Thoth thrown into tracks like “Demon for a Day” and “Satan is Time”, allowing Hail Spirit Noir to be one of the few bands that mixes Psychedelic Rock elements to create Avant-garde Black Metal.
Hailing from France, today we have a very catchy Alternative Rock band under the very odd name Duck Explosion. On their debut EP titled “Zebra Pilot”, the band presents us four tracks of very carefully crafted and catchy Rock that will get you hyped immediately thanks to the band’s charismatic vocals and engaging song-writing.
While not our typical cup of tea, the band really had us going since the opening track: “No Way Out”. Featuring intricate guitars and very accessible vocals, the band focuses more on creating very direct 70’s inspired rock than any other gimmicks. The level of catchiness is elevated on the pulsating “In The Inside”, a song that has a very dominant bass guitar line and excellent percussions.
With a very exciting 2013 in terms of music, Ván Records unleashes “Earth Air Spirit Water Fire” just in the nick of time to make it to countless top 10 of the year lists. Selim Lemouchi & His Enemies delivers five tracks of magical (and sometimes very unsettling) Psychedelic Rock in this unique release. Being less heavy, and more mystical than any of The Devil’s Blood releases, Selim manages to create a very unique atmosphere that nicely flows from start to end.
Opening with the 10-minute “Chiaroscuro”, we get quite a mood setting introduction with some deranged ramblings in some audio-clips followed by a very hypnotic build-up. The vocal arrangements on this track are top-notch and create a very eerie vibe. Farida Lemouchi lends her talents to this very ritualistic and creepy song, marking a very atmospheric and unsettling opening to this release. The psychedelic brilliance continues with the emotive “Next Stop, Universe B.”, where we hear Selim’s signature guitar work in a very retro environment.
Arriving from France, today we have another excellent Hard Rock release filled with attitude and catchiness. Hell of a Ride provide us with their latest EP titled “Fast As Lightning”, featuring four tracks and seven bonus live recordings to sweeten the deal. With a high-octane Hard Rock vibe, this band steamrolls with their high-energy music filled with intoxicating rhythms and commanding vocals.
Opening with the playful intro track, “Fast As Lightning” kicks off the musical side of things with a very typical Hard-Rocking tune that is both engaging and entertaining. The band’s vocalist Furious Djej does a great job in leading the band’s onslaughts with excellent fitting vocal melodies and great intensity. With each track featuring a cool intro section (appearing as an individual track on the CD), the band nicely sets the stage before each song. Inspired by Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, the band’s attitude is the main selling point of this release, greatly enhanced by excellent music we might add.
With a perky attitude and a very catchy and traditional Hard Rock sound, today we have France’s Heaven’s Colt and their release “Labour du Vice”. Featuring six songs entirely sang in French, the listener gets a very unique take and different energy on a very popular and accessible genre. Having played over 300 shows, this French outfit knows exactly what the listener wants and they are experts in delivering it at the right time.
Opening with the album title track, the guitar work and the whole musical vibe is very typical of the genre but the band manages to make it more interesting when you listen to the “Labour du Vice” chorus section and realize they are not singing in English. With the album in full swing, tracks like “Charohn’Hard” and “Alcoolo” ooze of attitude and judging by the band’s digipack layout pictures, the band has the look and the chops to play this music with commanding presence.
With tons of unusual (read: non-Metal) stuff making it to our Infernal Masquerade review queue lists, we bumped into Darkhaus and their uber catchy debut release “My Only Shelter”. Playing a very mellow and yet well-constructed Synth-Rock/Pop with some Gothic Rock/Electro influences we were quite shocked to learn that PRO-PAIN members: Gary Meskil and Marshall Stephens are even part of such a different band. Letting the band members credentials aside, this is one very interesting release that covers a wide variety of sounds and will have you fully enjoying it in a matter of minutes.
Opening on a very high note with “Life Worth Living”, we get a very well structured track that is designed to be catchy and never leave your head… for a few days. Vocalist Kenny Hanlon has a very distinctive style and a perfect signature for the band to be recognized in the future. The music varies from Synth-Rock/Pop structures to Gothic Rock and some Dark Wave / Electro elements thrown into the mix. Tracks like “Ghost” a very good example of said mixture of elements.
American guitar virtuoso Mike Campese is back with his eight studio release titled: “Chameleon”. In this very lively album, Mike shreds through 12 expertly composed tracks that range from Instrumental Rock to full on Progressive Rock/Metal. Being huge fans of virtuosos like John Petrucci, Toby Knapp, Timo Tolkki, etc., we greatly enjoyed Mike’s ability to craft very entertaining songs while showing off his talents.
Opening with the playful “To the 9’s”, Mike immediately makes a quick impact with a very catchy and skillful song. While we are usually opposed of the guitar virtuoso that attempts (and fails miserably) to sing, Mike does a decent job in “Chameleon” and “She Burnt the House Down”. Not being Bruce Dickinson or anybody in that range, we are pleased that he didn’t attempt anything out of his range.
The hardest job here at Infernal Masquerade is giving a bad review to very well intentioned releases. Mr. Vu sadly falls in this category, since while their enthusiasm is amazing, the lack is musical skills gets the better out of “Dark Tales”. We understand this is just a demo version of the tracks, but there are some glaring issues with them. Trying to be as minimally mean as we can, we will continue to go over this album.
Opening with “Only the hard ones”, we can instantly hear the production deficiencies in this album, but since they are demo versions of songs we will let this go. The style is quite decent, reminding us of retro-80’s music at points; however, the vocals are just awful. We have heard tons of bad singing before, but sadly Mr. Vu is probably one of the worst. Components of the music are quite solid, like on “King of Vitiation”, where we have solid guitar/bass guitar lines, but the vocals and some of the arrangements are very odd.
The highly anticipated debut of Finish Post-Punk/Rock outfit Beastmilk is finally here. On “Climax” the band will surely elevate their cult status to a whole new level with 10 sultry tracks that put together influences from Killing Joke, Joy Division, Misfits and even some hints of Hexvessel and similar outfits. Delivering one excellent track after the other one, the band really captures a timeless vibe and makes it their own in this vibrant release.
Since the album’s opener “Death Reflects Us”, the band produces that excellent Punk-ish vibe thanks to the drums/bass guitar. The vocals of Kvohst are just brilliant and fit the vibe of the music in a very effective way; they sometimes remind us of the older Misfits stuff mixed with some Peter Murphy sultriness. With super catchy tracks like “The Wind Blows Through Their Skulls”, “Genocidal Crush”, and “You Are Now Under Our Control”, the band fully establishes their uniqueness and brilliant songwriting skills.