Rounding up the year, we are treated with a great live album of one of our favorite bands: Sonata Arctica. In “Live in Finland”, the band delivers a massive package for fans with 2 DVD’s featuring live performances in Finland (of course!!) and two bonus CD’s featuring select tracks from these performances (which is what we are reviewing).
In the first CD, we have a total of 14 tracks that range from some of the band’s latest tracks from the album “The Days of Grays” to some of their biggest hits like “Paid in Full”. Through this album we get to listen to Tony’s excellent voice shine in the live setting and the band showing their skills when playing each intricate song. Being a live CD, the only drawback is that the crowd interaction is in Suomi, but this can add and authentic feeling for some people.
Nicholas Leptos and company return with yet another impressive Power Metal release that any fan of the genre should not miss. With “Ira Imperium”, the band looks to establish themselves as one of the best bands in the genre and the have the music to do so. Featuring 13 tracks of very well crafted music filled with catchy guitar melodies and impressive vocal harmonies, Arrayan Path is clearly one the best ‘relatively unknown’ bands of this genre.
Getting down to business since the opener track “Dies Irae”, we get a glimpse of the band’s abilities to create powerful music that feels fresher than most Power Metal we get these days. With a strong Greek/Mediterranean influence in the band’s sound, you are guaranteed to step away form the traditional Power Metal sound we are all accustomed to. Nicholas Leptos nicely leads the band’s characteristic sound and in the second track “Gnosis of Prometheus” this is very evident, especially on the chorus section.
Packed with 14 powerful guitar-driven songs, today we have Aclla’s debut album “Landscape Revolution”. Merging elements from Power Metal with Heavy Metal in an aggressive fashion, we are left with pounding guitars on top of Power/Heavy Metal song structures, a very interesting approach.
Opening with “The Totem”, we can immediately tell that this distortion is not very typical for a Power/Heavy Metal release and this marks the beginning of a very interesting musical journey. Power through tracks like “The Hidden Dawn”, “Under Twilight Skies”, “Ride” and “Living for a Dream”, there is no doubt on the quality of the musicians behind Aclla, since they manage to make very good songs through “Landscape Revolution”
Delivering an impressive debut solo album, today we have Sylvain Rouvière and his Kaktus Project release “Supersition”. Featuring 13 songs of well crafted Heavy/Power Metal with Hard Rock influences, this release is a very nice showcase of both Sylvain’s vocal and guitar playing abilities.
Unlike many side project releases, “Superstition” truly showcases the musician’s ability and not his countless buddy’s that make guest appearances on the album. Since the opener track “Farewell” we have soaring vocals and very well crafted guitar work, this track reminds us a bit of older Timmo Tolki-era Stratovarius. Moving on with “Superstition”, we get some hints of Edguy/Avantasia in this very entertaining song.
Sabaton has to be one of Power Metal most popular and exciting bands of these days. After the crushing release of “Coat of Arms” one year ago, the band gives us an excellent double live CD from their latest tour. In the CD we got from Nuclear Blast, we have 15 tracks showcasing the live power of Sabaton and delivering almost 80 minutes of their epic War-inspired Power Metal.
Shortly after a momentum gaining intro, “Ghost Division” sneaks up on you like a punch to the kidneys. Here you can listen to Joakim Bróden’s pipes ripping through the song just like it was recorded on the album. The epic chorus sections are here and the pounding guitars sound like a million dollars. The epicness continues with tracks like “Uprising”, “Aces in Exile”, and by the time we get to “Cliffs of Gallipoli” we are all-out head banging in our review room.
As one of the best live bands we saw this summer, Powerwolf is set to unleash their fourth full-length release “Blood of the Saints” late July. Trying to surpass the success of their previous release “Bible of the Best”, the wolf pack is back with epic vocal lines, powerful guitars and all around very entertaining songs.
While many bands keep playing Power Metal in the traditional sense, we love bands like Powerwolf and Sabaton that push things with more powerful and diverse vocal styles and very well crafted lyrics and concepts behind their releases. “Blood of the Saints” features 11 songs and 41 minutes of pure Powerwolf catchiness and should propel them to the international status that band’s like Sabaton have achieved recently.
”Existence” marks the ’bands’ 4th full-length album, and it is clearly their most impressive and ambitious release to date. With a vast array of guest musicians, this release is one of THE Melodic Metal/Rock albums of the year, even though it was released in 2010 elsewhere, we pick the North American dates for our top 10 lists.
With this double album, Beto Vázquez has managed to put together a very eclectic mix of musicians and each of the 20 songs combines powerful melodies with outstanding vocals. While the guest musician list is huge, is not as impressive as the ones from bands/projects as Star One, Ayreon and Avantasia. Most of the guests in this album, with the exception of Timo Tolkki, might be considered from the ‘B list’ of Metal, but they are equally talented and are just a bit less known that the ones on the ‘A list’ of Metal. We particularly like this approach since it allows the listener to discover lesser known bands due to the performances of their vocalists.
While the quality behind today’s Pagan’s Mind is far from the times when they released their opus “Celestial Entrance” and “Enigmatic: Calling”, with “Heavenly Ecstasy” they still manage to produce 11 tracks of very solid Power/Progressive Metal that will surely entertain most fans of the genre.
After a big WTF with “God’s Equation”, with this release they set a lot of wrongs straight and deliver a quality album that is both enjoyable and very well crafted. Singer Nils Rue takes the lead as the most recognizable feature of the band and soars in most songs making them very memorable.
Hailing from Pennsylvania, today we have Forgotten Legacy and their 2009 demo “The Oracle”. If you are a fan of old-school American Power/Heavy Metal you will find this release very enjoyable.
Featuring 5 songs, the band quickly gathers momentum with the opening track “2012”. In this song we are treated to very effective riffs and powerful vocals. The production is evidently weak, but this does not diminish the abilities presented by the band. The song is very catchy, the riffs are well crafted and the drumming is very effective.
With the jaw-dropping line up of Timo Tolkki (ex-Stratovarius), vocalist Andre Matos (ex-Angra), drummer Uli Kusch (ex-Helloween), bassist Jari Kainulainen (ex-Stratovarius) and keyboardist Mikko Harkin (ex-Sonata Artica), Symfonia is ready to awe people with their impressive debut full-length “In Paradisum”.
After having an orgasm just by reading the line-up of this band now it’s time for us to talk about what really matters: the music. With Mr. Tolkki on the lead, you know that all your Power Metal needs will be met and even exceeded if you are not too picky. After the premature demise of Revolution Renaissance we counted the days until the next Timo Tolkki project surfaced.