Returning after a 10 year absence, today we have Italy’s Holy Knights and their very exciting release “Between Daylight and Pain”. In case you thought that there aren’t enough Power Metal bands, Holy Knights returns to deliver eight tracks that are indeed very well crafted, but sound like a ‘light’ version of Rhapsody and similar bands.
Since the rich opener “Mistery”, the band immediately sends the message that they have great musicians, excellent production values, and solid composition skills. The bombastic elements of their songs remind us a lot of Rhapsody of Fire and their explosiveness when it comes to symphonic elements. The vocals of Dario Di Matteo remind us a bit of Fabio Leone, making them actually quite good in our book. The first few songs deliver quite a hectic pace and very well crafted guitar solos like on “Beyond the Mist”, but it is the melodic sections that make this song (and release) more appealing than your average Power Metal release.
Delivering nine tracks of catchy Power Metal, today we have Colombia’s “Hyperborea” released through Canada’s Metalodic Records. With a well-crafted sound, this band goes beyond your average Power Metal band to create solid songs that while not featuring the best vocalist in the world, they make up for it in technical abilities.
Setting the mood with “Skull Island” the band shows the riffing power with well-created melodic sections and a very heavy sound. The guitar sound indeed is a bit weird of this type of music, but the band actually pulls it off, giving them a different sound from your average Power Metal band. The vocals of Felipe Machado Franco not the best and reminds us of the guy we always see in karaoke night trying to do some Iron Maiden songs… not the best indeed. However, this is rescued by pretty decent guitar solos.
If you first read that this was produced by Cristiano Bertocchi (Labyrinth) and mastered by Goran Finnberg (Opeth) this Italian band, Wind Rose, will immediately have your attention and your criticism level would go up a few degrees. Luckily for everybody, the band delivers very well crafted melodies that dance around the area of bands like Blind Guardian, Rhapsody, etc, and their mixtures of fantasy/medieval elements with Power/Progressive Metal. With fifteen songs in “Shadows Over Lothadruin” this new band showcases their musical abilities with a very nicely flowing and epic feeling release.
First thing that annoyed us a bit is that all SEVEN of the instrumental tracks are standalone songs rather than being incorporated into the previous or following track, we don’t really need a count of 15 songs when you really have eight. Peskiness aside, this does not really affect the release in any sense but it is a picky thing from our side (and some of our readers we have heard). “The Endless Prophecy” marks the album’s first real track and has a very playful feeling to it, while keeping all the requirements of an excellent Progressive/Power Metal song: killer vocal arrangements, solid drumming and crazy guitar work. “Siderion” follows in the same vibe, but the song does have a familiar ‘medieval’ feeling to it that feels like it was taken from somewhere else.
Today we have Fabio Leone’s ‘side-band’ called Vision Divine and their killer seventh full-length released titled “Destination Set To Nowhere”. Already having released one of the most impressive albums with Rhapsody of Fire, Fabio delivers another excellent vocal performance in a thrilling Power/Progressive Metal release that is both extremely catchy and technically proficient. If you are a fan of Power/Progressive Metal, you don’t want to miss this majestic release.
Opening with the ethereal mood setter “S'io Fosse Foco” the band leave a certain feeling lingering in the air that what’s next to come will be: EPIC. The real opener “Dream Maker” kicks things off with excellent vocal sections and equally exciting melodic parts. The keyboards nicely set the atmosphere and the perfectly crafted piano/solo sections are pure magic, but the true winner here is the mega-catchy chorus section.
Returning with a revamped line-up today we have Sweden’s Cloudscape and their fourth full-length release “New Era”. Filled with excellent guitar work and very catchy songs, this release delivers 60+ minutes of solid Progressive Power Metal that not go unnoticed by fans of the genre. The new line-up with Håkan Nyander, Fredrik Joakimsson, and Stefan Rosqvist breathes new life to band allowing core members Patrik Svärd and Michael Andersson to create a very refreshing and exciting release.
The powerful riffing on “Silver Ending” makes this track the perfect opener for a release that combines solid riffing with traditional Progressive keyboards in a very melodic fashion. Andersson’s vocals are as powerful as ever and sound a bit like Christian Älvestam, from Scar Symmetry fame. Constantly recurring to majestic solos laid on top fine-ass drumming, “Share Your Energy”, “Pull The Brake”, and “Kingdom of Sand” make for excellent momentum building tracks that flow perfectly in the overall direction of the album.
Led by Luca Princiotta of Doro fame, today we have Clairvoyants and their excellent Power/Heavy Metal release titled “The Shape of Things to Come”. Delivering eleven tracks of brilliantly crafted old-school Power/Heavy Metal, this is one hell of a catchy and enjoyable release. With 10 our 11 tracks composed by Luca, we have a very solid Power/Heavy Metal foundation that can compare to any big-name band in the scene.
With a very catchy chorus section, “No Need to Surrender” opens this release showcasing the band’s firepower. The guitars are very solid, the drumming is well crafted, and the singing is pretty ok for a Power/Heavy Metal band. Luca clearly knows how to open and album and with this epic anthem, “The Shape of Things to Come” is off to a great start. “Endure and Survive” is the next super catchy song in this release thanks to some meaty riffs and, again, a very catchy chorus section. This track also reminds us more of older Heavy Metal songs than any Power Metal we have heard in the last few years.
After the astonishing “After”, Ihsahn returns with the even more impressive “Eremita”. With an impressive list of achievements behind him, Ihsahn delivers an album where he builds up on the sound he crafted for “After” and delivers nine brilliant tracks of Extreme Progressive Metal in his trademark style and a nice dosage of sexy saxophone, just what the doctor ordered (at least for us).
Being backed by his ‘live band’ the super talented guys from Leprous, Ihsahn actually had the band’s drummer Tobias Ornes Andersen handle these duties for the recording of this release. Featuring the characteristic Ihsahn approach to things, he again pushes the boundaries of his musical explorations and delivers a very rich experience that has so many layers it takes more than a few spins for “Eremita” fully sink in, and be completely enjoyed.
With the powerful opener “Arrival”, the funky psychedelic keyboard nicely sets the tone for the excellent guitar layers. The traditional harsh Ihsahn vocals open this release in a very direct manner, nicely shifting into the more harmonious clean sections. The atmosphere is very similar to “After”, but it has that extra funky psychedelic edge to it that makes this song very intoxicatingly appealing. “The Paranoid” keeps things rolling with a very aggressive opening and whacky guitar sections, this track nicely jumps up and down in terms of tempo, and the horn-like sounds near the end are just outstanding.
The more mellow “Introspection” features a nice combination of psychedelic keyboards with a hefty dosage of powerful guitar riffs, all packaged in a very moody track that reminded us a bit of old Ulver, Borknagar, and Arcturus in some points. This release by far has been more aggressive than the previous one, and we are only on the third song. The brilliant sax of Jorgen Munkeby makes “The Eagle and the Snake” a very sexy piece that feels very deranged in nature with some awesome melodic and Doom-like passages, making this song one of our favorites of this release. In “Catharsis” the mood is toned down a bit, and feels like a very exploratory track that features very interesting drum patterns and melancholic vocal sections.
As many of Emperor’s and the more Black Metal fans of Ihsahn are expecting, “Something Out There” starts very aggressive and Emperor-like, but it nicely switches back and forth between the old style and the more refined Ihsahn signature style, a very interesting and well-constructed song we have to add. After the very theatrical “Grief”, “The Grave” bleeds out of it, and with a nice layer of saxophone it delivers a very dark and mysterious atmosphere. This song is quite caothic and a bit disturbing since it is more of an atmospheric piece than a full-on riffing assault track, making it a bit hard to process at first, but quite an exciting piece once it sinks in.
Closing with “Departure”, this atmospheric piece features a very interesting drum track, kind of free flowing and loose at first, before moving into more razor sharp sections. The progressive elements in this track are very solid, and the experimental stuff featured is quite intoxicating and weird at the same time. The pace is quite weird and very convoluted, creating an excellent song that goes in many different directions, but it is nicely held back by the heavy atmosphere it creates.
Overall, Ihsahn has done it once more; he manages to push the boundaries of his sound to even further and more complex spaces. This release features nine tracks of brilliant progressive music that is both extreme and melodic in nature. The guitar layers are just magical, and we can only imagine him bringing them into the live setting. If you are hesitating on buying this release, give yourself a slap in the face and get it, it is better than any of his previous albums by a metric ton of brilliance.
Arriving with a very impressive debut release, today we have Kemilon and their freshman offering “Twisted Storm”. Directly targeted to fans of old-school Power Metal, this Canadian band makes excellent impression on listeners as soon as this release starts. With ten majestic songs, “Twisted Storm” is by far one of the most energetic Power Metal releases we have heard this 2012.
Opening with the fluff intro “Beyond Frontiers”, the band quickly delivers a highly technically proficient opening track with “Ocean of Insanity”. Having a video game-like opening, this track has a vibrant old-school sound that while featuring keyboards; it is not drowned by them, allowing the basic instruments to shine together with Yan Gagne’s excellent vocals. The overall mood of the song (and the album) if very intense and well crated to give you the ‘high’ that Power Metal used to do back in the days of early Stratovarius, Angra, etc.
Hailing from Finland, today we have Burning Point and their super catchy Melodic Power Metal released titled “The Ignitor”. With a very exciting mixture of modern Melodic Power Metal elements and a traditional Heavy Metal, Burning Point delivers a very well-crafted release full of powerful guitar sections, catchy chorus parts, and an overall epic feeling that only a handful of bands can pull off.
Taking the listener back to the time when Power Metal was epic and felt like an adrenaline shock, “Eternal Flame” delivers a very apt opening for such a fun and engaging release. The band does a great job in establishing a basic core of guitar driven melodies where the keyboards and virtuoso-passages take a back seat and let the rest of the elements shine. Pete Ahonen vocals are spot on and have a powerful range, on tracks like “In The Fire’s of My Self” and “In the Night”, they carry the songs magically and seemingly effortless. “In the Night” has also that classic Heavy Metal vibe thanks to the chorus section that many newer bands seem to be forgetting about.
Digitally making its way from Italy, today we have Legion Warcry’s debut full-length release “The Way to Escape”. With a very traditional combination of old-school Heavy Metal and Power Metal elements, this release is quite entertaining to hear. On the downside, the production is a bit funky sometimes it sounds a bit hollow and lacks some flair that other Power Metal releases have these days.
The opener “God of Thunder” begins with powerful guitar work, but some very odd vocals that sound a bit distant from everything else. The vocals are not bad, but they just sound a bit weird in this track. Combining the catchiness of Heavy Metal with some of the guitar wizardry of Power Metal, “Across the Space” and “As You Preach” nicely set the mood for this solid release. The combination of subtle guitar/keyboard wizardry on “Across the Space” makes this track very entertaining.