Very far removed from their days of being a Symphonic Metal powerhouse (“Mother Earth” and “The Silent Force”), Within Temptation returns after four years with “Resist”. Attempting a dead cat bounce, the band puts out an extremely overproduced release that while it might appeal to the fans the band has gained since “The Unforgiven”, it will probably completely turn off their older fan base. We rarely write bad reviews these days as we rather save the time and energy for good releases that deserve to be heard, but “Resist” was just asking for it.
The album kicks off with the first single, “The Reckoning” a song that takes about 20 seconds to realize it will be bad. With Jacoby Shaddix on guest vocals, yup, the dude from Papa Roach, this track starts the trend of overproduced tracks. The song, while trying to be heavy and melancholic falls completely flat due to their lack of imagination and passion. The trend continues with the futuristic “Endless War”, which at least has some old school vocal arrangements… at times, and the vanilla “Raise Your Banner”, which features Anders Fridén on guest vocals.
Originally a side project of Ed Guy’s mastermind Tobias Sammet, Avantasia has grown to be a full-fledged act which features tons of guest appearances and very engaging and cinematic musical experiences. In the vein of artists like Ayreon and the Trans Siberian Orchestra, this band delivers some of the most lush and intricate releases filled with interesting topics and colorful characters. With “Moonglow”, the band unleashes on hell of a release with over 70 minutes of music.
The experience begins with the lush and dramatic “Ghosts in the Moon”, a track that nicely sets a very grandiose mood. Filled with catchy vocal melodies and superb instrumentation, this track leads way to a very lively and emotional rollercoaster ride. The second track quickly rolls down the red carpet with killer vocal contributions from Ronnie Atkins, Jørn Lande, Hansi Kürsch and Mille Petrozza, making it one the the most bombastic and engaging songs of the release.
Morten Veland and company have been quite busy since their last release and now presents us with another master class of Symphonic/Gothic Metal with “Arcane Astral Aeons”. Featuring nearly one hour of music, this release continues the band’s exploration of highly atmospheric and energetic music through 12 excellent songs.
The band kicks off with the lush “In Styx Embrace” in typical Sirenia style with a heavy hitting super catchy tune filled with dramatic choir arrangements and piercing distorted guitars. Continuing with the hectic pace and dramatic orchestral arrangements, “Into the Night” is perfectly led by Emmanuelle Zoldan’s charismatic vocals. The way that the band’s music envelops the listener in over the top atmospheric elements is brilliant and one of the reasons we love the band’s music.
Led by the charismatic and highly talented Heidi Parviainen, today we have Dark Sarah’s third full-length release “The Golden Moth”. Completing “The Chronicles” trilogy, this cinematic/symphonic Metal album is full of bombastic arrangements and very dramatic instrumentation creating a magical atmosphere. Going bigger than in the past, the band instantly immerses the listeners into their lyrical context and provides a truly engaging experience.
Opening with “Desert Rose”, there is a certain mysterious mood that frames the beginning of this story very well and creates great expectation on the listener. New permanent member, JP Leppäluoto, delivers a solid vocal performance as Dragon, complementing Heidi’s angelic chants. With the band’ further setting the mood with songs like “Trespasser” and “Wheel”, the immersion feels deeper and deeper. The Jurassic Park-esque atmospheric elements of “My Beautiful Enemy”, make for a very grandiose and ear catching tracks that is quite hard to get out of your head.
Delivering a killer female-fronted Symphonic Metal opus, today we have Germany’s Beyond the Black and their third full-length release “Heart of the Hurricane”. Led by the talented and also quite beautiful Jennifer Haben, this band has a great sound that while part of a crowded genre, it easily stands out from the rest. Perfectly designed for those fans of bands like Nightwish, Tarja, Epica, and even the likes of Doro, this release will keep you quite entertained for over 60 minutes.
Things get heated quite quickly with the hard rocking catchiness of “Hysteria”, a very direct and engaging opener that shifts things into 5th gear from the start. The album title song delivers very crafty tempo changes and dramatic riffs that are very well rounded up by the emotional sultry female vocals. This song feels like a unique mixture of the dynamism of Delain and the bombastic nature of Nightwish put together. We love how the band can switch the mood of the release from one song to the next, as it happens one “Million Lightyears” opens with male clean vocals and slowly transitions in a hyper catchy chorus section.
Eight years have passed since Dimmu Borgir’s last release and tons of speculation an expectations have been building up to the unleashing of “Eonian”. Without wasting any more time, this release is truly outstanding as it builds on the band’s legacy of uncompromising creativity and musical exploration. In “Eonian” the band features a very raw and evil Black Metal core, reminiscent of the band’s older releases with retaining the grandiose orchestral and symphonic edge the band has been maturing since “Enthrone Darkness Triumphant”.
The band makes a bold opening statement with the lush “The Unveiling”, a song filled with incisive Black Metal riffs and dramatic choir arrangements. This song brings us back to where “Abrahadabra” left off, bringing back the lush and complex sound that made that release amazing. The album’s first single “Interdimensional Summit”, unleashes unparalleled catchiness in its chorus section, while delivering killer drum patterns and playful tempo changes. As “ÆTheric” and “Council of Wolves and Snakes” roll by, we are totally intoxicated by the band’s powerful atmosphere and brilliant execution. The creepy wolves sound paired with the throat singing of this later track make up for one hellish experience.
With a completely revamped line-up since their last full-length release, today we have Austria’s Visions of Atlantis and their signature high-octane Melodic/Symphonic Power Metal. Unleashing “The Deep & the Dark”, the band’s first full-length release since 2013, fans of band will be completely blow away by the power and intensity behind the ten songs presented in this release.
Fronted by the highly talented Clémentine Delauney, the band sets sails in this very exciting journey with the energetic album titled track. The atmosphere is very well set with the symphonic elements as the musical playfulness kicks in full gear with incisive guitars and superbly catchy female vocals. The male Power Metal vocals are handled perfectly by Siegfried Samer, as he provides an excellent balance in his leads and duets with Clémentine, as we can quickly hear in the magical “Return to Lemuria”. This last track has a certain Sonata Arctica-esque magic that is driven initially by the Chris Kamper’s keyboards.
As one of the most unique ‘super groups’ to hit the scene, today we have Exit Eden and their debut release “Rhapsodies in Black”. Featuring famed and established Metal vocalists Amanda Somerville, Clémentine Delauney, and up and coming talent Marina La Torraca and Anna Brunner, this outfit is definitely not lacking in vocal talent. This release delivers over 11 tracks with are all cover songs from artists ranging from Depeche Mode to Rihanna. While this might sound a bit odd, this release definitely will appear to fans of Gothic/Symphonic Metal as it has some killer musical arrangements on top of lush vocal harmonies.
Opening with “Question of Time”, the band sets a very lively mood while covering Depeche Mode’s hit. While some of the covers are more interesting than others, tracks like “Impossible” and “Frozen” truly showcase the band’s unique vocal talents while perfectly balancing the unique signing styles of the band’s members. Other songs like their cover of Brian Adams “Heaven”, rely on individual vocal talents and very well-crafted arrangements that totally re-interpret a very well-known song into heavier territories.
Finally immortalizing one of their iconic full-orchestra and choir shows, today we have Dimmu Borgir and the monumental “Forces of the Northern Night”. Featuring around 90 minutes of live material both in video (DVD or Blu-ray) and audio CD’s, this is one of the most epic live releases we have seen in a while. Not needing any introduction, this band will blow you away with the intensity they bring to the live shows.
We are only reviewing their Wacken Open air show in 2012, where the band was accompanied on stage with the Czech National Symphonic Orchestra and the Schola Cantorum choir. In this already legendary concert, the band played the full “Abrahadabra” album first, and then a pretty solid selection of their greatest hits. The first part of the concert hits the listener hard with epic renditions of crushing songs like “Born Treacherous” and “Gateways” featuring a guest appearance by Agnete Kjølsrud.
Everybody’s favorite Roman-inspired band is finally back with another killer onslaught of dramatic symphonic elements and a catchy guitar riffs. “The Immortal Wars” marks Ex Deo’s return with nearly 40 minutes of superbly entertaining music, their first foray since the brilliant “Caligvla” back in 2012. If you like music that has a certain epic feeling to it, similar to bands like Sabaton and Fleshgod Apocalypse, you will love this one.
Opening with the pummeling “The Rise of Hannibal”, the band wastes no time in showing off the big guns with dramatic orchestrations and a solid (and heavy) musical core filled with catchy riffs. Playful tracks like “Hispania” perfectly showcase the band’s skills in balancing heavy sections with hyper fast drumming with more melodic and atmospheric rhythmical sections for headbanging. The opening of “Crossing of the Alps” will greatly send chills down your spine, but it is the punishing Death Metal elements of this track that will make you love it.