After touring the world with their “Pumpkins United” line-up, Helloween returns to unleash their eponymous release, with Kai Hansen, Michael Kiske, and Andi Deris, all sharing vocal duties. For nearly 70 minutes, the band delivers 12 doses of high-octane Power Metal with one of the most epicly stacked vocal line-up for a non-project band. Featuring something for everybody, this release will please almost any fan of the band over their nearly 30-year career.
Opening with the epic “Out for the Glory”, you get that sensation of excitement as the track slowly builds up with crafty instrumentation, blistering guitars and soaring vocals. We wouldn't expect anything less from such a legendary band, and yet Helloween blows past any preconceived expectations as to how the multiple vocalist’s approach would work with solid tracks like “Fear of the Fallen”, “Best Time”, “Mass Pollution”, and “Angels”.
There are only three guarantees in life: death, taxes, and Timo Tolkki crafting bad-ass Power Metal songs. Today we have Timo and his Avalon project unleashing their fourth full-length release “The Enigma Birth”. Featuring nearly one hour of music and eight guest vocalists, this release continues the band’s trend of delivering sweeping melodies, killer guitar solos, and highly engaging vocal lines. As occasional Power Metal listeners, we greatly appreciate these types of releases as you get to ‘discover’ some singers that wouldn’t be on our radar.
Opening with the crafty “Enigma Birth”, we have blistering guitars and drums, perfectly paired with Pellek’s dramatic and quite versatile vocals. This track sets a very bombastic and explosive mood that is perfectly continued with the hard rocking “I Just Collapse” featuring returning guest Caterina Nix and her talented pipes. Timo and company are masters at changing tempos and styles between songs and yet keeping that intensity and melodic edge.
Delivering their traditional high-octane Power Metal, today we have Germany’s Orden Ogan and their seventh full-length release “Final Days”. Featuring 50-minutes of superbly catchy and expertly crafted music, the band delivers one of their most epic and lively releases to date. Highly recommended for fans of bands like Stratovarius, Blind Guardian and Powerwolf, this is one of the highlights of the genre in 2021.
Opening with the catchiness of “Heart of the Android”, the band quickly sets a very engaging and epic atmosphere. With Niels Löffler switching to guitars and the addition of guitarist Patrick Sperling, the band sound is more dynamic and delivers a good amount of brilliant guitar leads and catchy passages, as we can hear on songs like “In the Dawn of the AI” and “Inferno”. As one would expect, the band’s epic vocal arrangements are a centerpiece of their sound and perfectly exploited in epic songs like “Let the Fire Rain”.
Originally not big fans of the band, with their last few releases they have converted us thanks to their engaging Power/Progressive Metal with somber undertones and the fantastic voice of Tom Englund. In “Escape of the Phoenix”, the band builds up on the success of their previous album and delivers nearly one full hour of high-octane music with tons of mood changes and soaring vocal melodies.
The release opens strongly with the heavy guitars of “Forever Outsider”, a track that nicely sets a very dynamic mood thanks to the funky keyboards. One of the first heavy hitters is the very melodic and catchy “Where August Mourn” and its dreamy atmospherics paired with Tom’s emotive vocals. This track has some nice Dark Tranquillity vibes to it as well. After the power ballad “Stories”, the album’s best song “Dandelion Cipher” delivers waves of soaring vocal arrangements, heartfelt lyrics and very explosive instrumentation, making it an instant epic.
Making this craptastic 2020 a little more lively, today we have Iron Savior and their superbly epic release “Skycrest”. Featuring nearly an hour of music, this release will excite all Power Metal fans thanks to its epic vocal arrangements and crafty instrumentation. Led by Piet Sielck, this band continues to get better and more refined with time, and this album showcases their best skills.
After the grandiose opening, the album title track sets a very exciting mood with excellent guitar work and very dramatic vocal arrangements. The epicness of the band’s sound is quickly established as tracks like “Our Time Has Come”, “Hellbreaker”, and “Souleater” perfectly balance catchiness, technical proficiency (crazy guitar solos), and a very ‘Heavy Metal’ attitude around a timeless old-school sound with no gimmicks and just power.
Hailing from Sweden, today we have Power Metal outfit Veonity and their exciting fourth full-length release “Sorrows”. Featuring a bare-bones style that flavors traditional elements over the current over-the-top and extremely bombastic stuff, the band delivers over 45 minutes of old-school high-octane music. Recommended for fans of older Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica, this release is superbly crafted and incredibly catchy.
After the traditional instrumental intro, the band quickly sets a very energetic pace with “Graced or Damned”. While there are some atmospheric keyboards, the band’s guitar-drum-bass guitar code is what makes this track standout, with their playful interplay alongside Anders Sköld’s charismatic vocals. Like a blast from the past, “Back in to the Dark”, reminded us of early Stratovarius thanks to the lush guitar leads paired with a hypnotic bass guitar line and dreamy vocal harmonies.
After receiving what seems to be hundreds of Black Metal albums every week, it is quite refreshing we get some solid Progressive Metal from Germany with Assignment. As the band’s fifth full-length release, “Reflections” delivers nearly one hour of polished music filled with soaring vocal melodies and crafty instrumentation. Flying under the radar in North America, this band has some serious musical chops and they should get more exposure with this excellent release.
Following a dramatic instrumental opener, “Merciful Angel” showcases the band firing on all cylinders right off the gate. Pairing intricate drum patterns, powerful guitar riffs and the signature vocals of Diego Valdez, this track crafts a high-octane pace that never slows down as the band pummels through “Obsession” and “Corporate Men”. On the album title track we get a very powerful ballad-esque piece with a superb vocal duet and lush atmospheric enhancements, changing the pace of the album and providing a window into the band’s musical depth.
Delivering a perfect balance of speedy Epic Power/Folk Metal ballads and and folky moody pieces, Ensifeum returns with “Thalassic”. Adding extra depth to their signature sound, the band hedges a bit more into Power Metal territories while keeping their lively and upbeat style for nearly 50 minutes. Perfectly in sync with their earlier releases, this album propels the band’s sound into new territories and pleases fans with intense and engaging songs.
Setting a very epic mood with “Seafarer's Dream”, the band goes full speed with the intense “Rum, Women, Victory”, which features a bit of a Children of Bodom-esque sound mixed in with their traditional blistering melodies and crafty instrumentation. The clean vocals on “Andromeda” really give it a slighter Power Metal edge, greatly elevating this catchy and awesome song to new levels. The same can be said for “The Defense of the Sampo”, which has a certain Stratovarius meets Ensiferum vibe.
Celebrating their 15 years of existence (in 2019) Powerwolf delivers the perfect compendium of their best songs and live renditions. Not settling for the traditional ‘best of’ album, the band made new versions of some of their greatest hits like “Resurrection by Erection” and “We Drink Your Blood”, giving something extra for collectors and fans alike. Never having played (and refused along the way) in the USA, this is one hell of a band with excellent music that no fan of Power/Symphonic Metal should miss out on.
Opening with a new version of our favorite song, “We Drink Your Blood”, we noticed a slightly polished edge and an even more bombastic nature to this epic song. The band’s sound has greatly been refined over the years, making it more explosive and lush, and the new versions of songs like “Werewolves of Armenia”, “Saturday Satan”, and the classic “Resurrection by Erection” , are brilliantly enhanced to give you the chills the band delivers on their live performances.
Unleashing a bombastic and lively Symphonic/Power Metal release, today we have Italy’s Moonlight Haze with “Lunaris”. Delivering almost 56 minutes of high-octane music, this band borrows from the greats to create a very lively and personable sound of their own. Highly recommended for fans of bands like Sirenia, Nightwish, Delain, etc., this release features both intensity, a hard rocking attitude, alongside catchiness and excellent musicianship.
The album kicks off with the soaring vocal arrangements of “Till The End”, the band’s vocalist Chiara Tricarico nicely provides a signature staple to the band’s sound while showing the versatility of changing between classical style to a more playful typical heavy metal style singing. This versatility is what allows tracks like “The Rabbit Of The Moon”, “Lunaris”, and “Under Your Spell” to deliver a wide spectrum of styles, as the band crafts effective power ballads and catchy heavy guitar laden pieces.