Taking the North American Power Metal scene by surprise, today we have Armory and their high-octane sophomore release “Empyrean Realms”. After showing great surprise with their debut full-length “The Dawn of Enlightenment” six years ago, this band finally returns with an even more grandiose and bombastic release. Filled with over 50 minutes of blazing fast guitars, soaring vocals, and perky keyboards, this is one release that should be on your Christmas shopping list.
Immediately blasting away with “Eternal Mind”, Adam Kurland’s vocals soar like you would expect from any top vocalist of the genre. Perfectly balanced and with an impressive range, this is one of the first assets behind this very creative band. The track progresses with intricately crafted guitars and super tight drumming. Rivaling the composition and execution brilliance of bands like Rhapsody of Fire, Stratovarius, etc., tracks like “Dreamstate” and “Beyond The Horizon” keep the band’s epic delivery and vibe rolling.
Today we have Norwegian Metal/Rock vocalist Pellek (Per Fredrik Asly) delivering is sophomore album titled “Ocean of Opportunity”. As a highly ambitious self-released album, Pellek and company (he now has band members for this album cycle) deliver more than 45 minutes of expertly crafted Power/Progressive Metal with a nice dosage of symphonic elements. Being a concept album, the nine tracks in this release nicely come together and keep a very steady and engaging flow making the release very solid and interesting.
Opening with very regal orchestrations on “Elucidation”, we can immediately enjoy the album’s crystal-clear production and PelleK’s talented vocals. This song is quite powerful and enjoyable, but it holds itself from letting the listener know all that is hidden under Pellek’s bag of tricks. Immediately reminding us of Nightwish, “Northern Wayfarer” makes things more dynamic with lush guitar work and very solid solos.
Lead by the whacky Christopher Bowes, GloryHammer arrives to us with an impressive dose of killer fantasy-inspired Power Metal. Showcasing his awesome songwriting skills and knack for epic orchestrations, Mr. Bowes does a great job in this new band bringing to life his alternative concept of Scotland’s medieval history. For over ten tracks the band crafts epic battle hymns and highly effective songs that will have any fan of the genre throwing away all their Blind Guardian, Rhapsody, etc. merch and CD’s to get some new GloryHammer stuff.
After an epic intro track, “The Unicorn Invasion of Dundee” marches forward with a superbly epic chorus section and a furious pace. While the song title and probably the lyrics are as absurd as anything that Alestrom has ever recorded, the band produces killer music that sounds as good as any veteran fantasy Power Metal band. The vocal arrangements are superb and give that epic vibe that we crave in these kinds of albums.
After their breakthrough release “Death & Legacy”, Serenity seems to be easing into their own bombastic sound with “War Of Ages”. Incorporating a full-time female vocalist (Clémentine Delauney), the band delivers ten tracks filled with lush orchestrations and very dynamic arrangements. Any fan of Symphonic Metal with some Progressive and Power Metal elements will be eating this one for breakfast… and the rest of the day for countless weeks.
Starting strong with the super catchy “Wings of Madness”, a track that has a killer chorus section and excellent vocal duets, the band shows that their last release was not a fluke. The combination of Georg Neuhauser and Clémentine’s vocals has great chemistry and they sound great in this track (and release in general). In the very Epica-like “The Art of War” and “Shining Oasis”, the band shows their skills on faster paced and more dynamic songs while keeping their own signature sound.
After their critically acclaimed and totally excellent release “Elysium”, one could wonder how Stratovarius will top such a great release. Two years later, “Nemesis” arrives with a darker edge, but an equally impressive assortment of songs. In this release the band delivers 11 tracks of their signature Melodic Power Metal with a more serious tone to things. Another answer provided in this release is that the loss of long-time drummer Jörg Michael was greatly alleviated by newcomer Rolf Pilve.
As in Stratovarius tradition, the band kicks off with an epic track titled “Abandon”. In this song we can instantly appreciate the band’s killer songwriting kills and excellent placement of epic vocal sections. This upbeat tempo is kept in the highly addictive “Unbreakable”, a track that features very catchy keyboards and a superb chorus section. Interestingly enough, this track sounds a bit more ‘mainstream’ than one would expect, but it is also super catchy and very well crafted.
Featuring 13-tracks of traditional and uplifting Power Metal, today we have France’s Galderia and their third full-length release “The Universality”. In their first release through Metalodic Records, the band delivers a much needed dosage of traditional sounding Power Metal that is not marred by an over the top production or an extreme obsession for being super-fast or overly bombastic.
Immediately after the intro track, “Children of the Earth” showcases the maturity of Galderia and their ability to craft such an epic track with warm sounding guitars and killer vocal melodies. The overall melodic nature of this track is superb and the guitar work really helps elevate such a monumental song to Power Metal excellence. The same epic feeling is transmitted to tracks like “Universality”, “Raise the World” and “Sundancers” making this release a blast to listen to, especially if you enjoy old school Power Metal that was more about soaring vocals and blasting guitar riffs
Delivering a 63-minute Symphonic Power Metal epic, today we have France’s Kerion and their super bombastic release “Cloudriders – Part 1”. Borrowing from epic bands like Raphsody of Fire, this release is as lush and well-crafted as they come showing heaps of creativity and technical skills.
Opening with the epic “Riders Theme”, the band immediately makes their orchestrations be felt as well as their killer guitar work. The whole fantasy vibe is perfectly delivered in “The Map”, another excellent track with very dynamic vocal arrangements. In songs like “Bounty Hunter” and “Never More” the band really shows their Power Metal foundations with excellent musicianship and very solid male and female vocal sections.
Dave Starr and London Wilde (and the other dude) return with another excellent hard-rocking release that will be quite hard to equal by all the newbie bands trying to play straight up Melodic Metal these days. In “A Tale Tell Heart”, the band delivers a ten song dosage of excellent Metal anthems that greatly showcase London’s gifted singing talents and Dave’s master abilities to craft engaging melodies filled with epic melodic moments.
Since the opener “Immortal”, we are let into the band’s world of traditional Metal with epic vocal lines, killer guitar work, and superb drumming. Led by epic riffs, tracks like “Transformis Ligea”, “A Perfect Storm”, and “Valkyrie Cry” blow past the listener pounding on your speakers like the good old Metal albums from back in the day. Even epic ballads like “Last Holy King” deliver that much needed infusion of true heartfelt metal that bands are missing these days.
Bouncing back from losing their signature vocalist Roy Khan, today we have Kamelot and their tenth full-length release “Silverthorn”. In this album, the band shakes off the loss with twelve epic tracks of very Symphonic Progressive Power Metal fronted by their new vocalist Tommy Karevik and a wide varied of guest vocalists (female) as well as some killer choir arrangements. The band’s sound seems bit more dark and gothic in this release, but the change of vocalist has really been minimized by Karevik’s excellent singing abilities and the band’s music writing skills.
With keyboards and orchestrations in charge of Oliver Palotai, the band opens with a the very symphonic “Manus Dei”. In this intro track, the band indeed sounds more like Epica or Therion than Kamelot. Thomas Youngblood’s riffing is finally felt on the opening of “Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife)”, a track that actually sounds a bit like Within Temptation in their “Mother Earth” era. This changes once Karevik’s vocals come into play, but interestingly enough the band goes into some choir sections very quick, leaving his vocal appearances in this track to be less than the choir parts.
Arriving all the way from Greece, today we have Seed of Sadness and their excellent self-released debut EP. In this self-titled release, the band delivers five tracks of super catchy female-fronted Power/Gothic Metal. With a heavy emphasis on catchy keyboards and the commanding vocals of Stellaria, this band has a very enjoyable sound that most fans of the genre will immediately fall in love with.
With the help of Bob Katsionis (Firewind) on keyboards, this band does a great job in creating lush atmospheres to lay their solid guitar work and epic vocals. Using strong and determined female vocals, Seed of Sadness has a really strong front-woman that delivers powerful performances in each track. Since the opener “Remnant of a Dying Smile”, the band blows things wide open with a highly symphonic and very energetic track that will instantly make you a fan of this band.