Quickly returning after the highly emotional 2021 release “Escape of the Phoenix”, Evergrey continues the same path of melancholy with the excellent “A Heartless Portrait: The Orphean Testament”. Featuring over 50 minutes of mellow Progressive/Power Metal, with Tom Englund’s signature vocals, this album just further refines the band’s polished and effective style and delivers exactly what the fans are expecting.
The album opens with the soaring guitars and vocal arrangements of “Save Us”, a very powerful and mood-setting track filled with crafty atmospherics and a hefty dose of catchiness. The band’s mixture of explosiveness with melancholy oozes from pieces like “Midwinter Calls” and “Ominous”, one of our favorite tracks in this release thanks to the amazing vocal arrangements and killer guitar leads. For those preferring the band’s Power ‘ballads’, “Call out the Dark” is a fine addition.
We have been on a long streak of mainly having Black Metal releases in our review queue, but today we end it and write our impressions of Heavy/Power Metal outfit Crystal Viper and their latest EP “The Last Axeman”. Delivering a mix of re-recorded, covers, and recorded live in a studio pieces, the band showcases their old-school Metal chops with great guitar work, killer vocals, and an overall kick-ass attitude.
We have always stated that we have two definitions of epic around IM: regular epic, and then Sabaton epic. This Swedish band continues to deliver killer War-inspired Power Metal unlike any other band in the scene, and with “The War to End All Wars” the band focuses their songwriting efforts on WWI. For over 45 minutes, the band reminds us why they have propelled to Metal scene stardom, touring with greats like Judas Priest and headlining summer festivals.
Opening with the emotional “Sarajevo”, the band sets their regal mood quite early with insightful narrations and lush choral arrangements. The first stand-out track comes under the name of “Stormtroopers” and its soaring vocal lines alongside superb guitar leads. This track, and the rest of the album, features more of a stripped down Power Metal vibe than in previous releases, but with Joakim Brodén lead vocals marching the listener down into battle.
Fronted by the charismatic Chiara Tricarico, today we have a superbly bombastic release filled with Symphonic/Gothic and Power Metal elements titled “Animus”. As the third full-length release of Moonlight Haze, the band shows maturity and refinement in their style, delivering almost 45 minutes of catchy and engaging music
Opening with “The Nothing”, we instantly get that lush and explosive vibe of bands like Nightwish, Visions of Atlantis, Epica, etc. However, what sets the band apart is Tricarico’s vocals and their own dynamism as shown in the dreamy “It’s Insane”, “Kintsugi” and its lush choral arrangements, and our personal favorite the cinematic “The Thief and the Moon”.
There are two things that are guaranteed in life: death and taxes, one more thing that should be added as a third guarantee: Powerwolf will deliver epic music. With “Call of the Wild”, the band returns with over 40 minutes of high-octane lush Power Metal unlike any other band can deliver... maybe Sabaton, but that is it. Filled with epic songs, soaring choirs and arrangements, alongside the band’s traditional hilarious lyrics, this release is what everybody was expecting.. and then some.
Opening with “Faster Than the Flame”, the band slowly builds ambiance before exploding into lush vocal arrangements, and a very perky overall feeling of epicness. Attila Dorn’s signature lead vocals mark way for expertly crafted Power Metal antics, including blistering guitar solos and superbly crafted drumming as tracks like “Beast of Gévaudan” and “Dancing with the Dead” deliver. The band’s cheeky musical style feels more refined, as the songs feel more grandiose than before.
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.