Archive for Progressive Metal

Aeurtum – The Fall

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on 2nd February 2013 by hammersmashedlauren

Aeurtum
The Fall
Released 27th July, 2012
Progressive Melodic Death Metal
Self-Released

For being a one man band, Aeurtum did an outstanding job of combining melodic, progressive, and death metal all into one album. While the style of the songs varied over this 9 track album, it was still a consistent sound of beautiful riffs paired with heavier vocals. Jon Collins, the man behind the music, showed his talents with this album and how he can vary is playing style to come through with something so beautifully done.

The album starts off with a more progressive/melodic instrumental named …And So It Begins, and so it began indeed. The next song, Parity, has a slow introduction as well but increasingly gets heavier, and by the third song, Deliverance, the riffs have gotten even heavier and the vocals more gravely and intense like a death metal song. This continual build up over a period of not just one song but three songs is something that is not common in albums. Maybe Jon Collins didn’t intentionally try and create this sort of build up, and even if he didn’t I found this enjoyable to listen to.

Usually I’m not very fond of when bands combine too many sub genres of metal because to me, it sounds like the music is all over the place and that the bands are very unsure of what they want to sound like.. However, when done right, like Aeurtum has done, it can create a sound that’s not only unique but it also shows how talented the musicians (or in this case, musician) is at taking such extremely different genres and making them work together. While the vocals on this album sometimes sounded a bit off with the songs, I did not see any real flaws with The Fall. It was beautifully written and well done and I hope the next album sounds just as good, if not better, than this one.

4.7/5

Lauren Gowdy

Threshold announce one UK show as part of European Tour

Posted in News with tags , , , , on 30th November 2012 by Nico Solheim-Davidson, the North Sea Poet

Legendary British progressive metal maestros Threshold, proclaim the March of Progress!

Matching the title of their highly successful new masterpiece March Of Progress (out via Nuclear Blast since August 24, 2012), the band will finally return to the European stages in March, 2013.

Guitarist Karl Groom states enthusiastically: “It will be great to be back on the road with Threshold – and in particular to play songs from our latest album!”

Make sure to be there when the magic happens on March 1st, 2013 – London, Underworld.

To purchase tickets please head over here.

 

The Faceless announce UK tour for January & February

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on 7th November 2012 by Nico Solheim-Davidson, the North Sea Poet

Californian progressive metal visionaries The Faceless to headline in the UK supporting their highly acclaimed third album, Autotheism, in January and February 2013, with The Safety Fire in support. Dates are as followed:

Wed 30 January – Bristol, The Fleece
Thu 31 January – Southampton, The Cellar
Fri 1 February – Brighton, The Haunt
Sat 2 February – Nottingham, Rock City
Sun 3 February – Glasgow, King Tut’s
Mon 4 February – Newcastle, O2 Academy
Tue 5 February – Wolverhampton, Slade Rooms
Weds 6 February – Manchester NQ Live
Thurs 7 February – London O2 Academy Islington
Fri 8 February – Sheffield, Corporation
Sat 8 February – Leeds, The Cockpit

Autotheism was released on 13 August 2012 and is widely regarded by critics and fans as one of the most exciting progressive metal albums of the year. Guitarist and band leader Michael Keene and drummer Lyle Cooper are joined by new recruits Geoffrey Ficco (vocals), Evan Brewer (bass) and Wes Hauch (guitar), to deliver the band’s most musical and progressive record to date. It’s a fast, technical and blistering record as a Faceless record should be, but is much more expressive, moody and expansive than ever before. Speed picking, flying double bass and skin melting guitar solos are aplenty, however a greater emphasis on clean vocals, big harmonies, moody passages and the use of keyboards, synth guitars, sequenced segments and even saxophone add a whole new dimension to the sound.

 

Enslaved – RIITIIR

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 25th October 2012 by Pieni

Enslaved
RIITIIR
Released: 28th September 2012
Progressive Black Metal
Released via Nuclear Blast

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It’s been more than a decade since Enslaved engaged in a progressive journey, but I dare saying that “RIITIIR” is the closest to that final destination. Yes, you can still call it “progressive black metal”, but the black metal part is a ghost – present, but not very solid.

This is not a conceptual album in its most common sense – the lyrics don’t tell you a story – but the songs are linked musically, as if these eight songs could be a single one-hour-and-seven-minute-long track.

And if you did the math with the numbers I’ve just given you, you’ve realised that most of the songs are even longer than before. But since their composition is very well structured, you don’t get that boredom feeling that sometimes long songs can cause.

Not even the last “Forsaken”, which exceeds the 11-minute mark. An ominous piano piece, punctuated by several lightning sounds, suddenly changes into a chain of progressive riffs under Grutle Kjellson’s grunts. Then the grunts become a spoken chant, prophecy- or curse-like, with the drums speeding up the rhythm. That also stops abruptly, being replaced by an electronic loop with some synthetizers on top of it, and eventually it fades out into a doom ambience. The piano returns in the end, this time playing a melancholic tune.

I wasn’t exactly counting, but I had the feeling that the clean vocals of keyboard player Herbrand Larsen have more airplay in this album. At least in “Thoughts Like Hammers” and “Veilburner” they have, enhancing the harmony of the songs’ melodies.

The guitar work is very methodical, whether it’s shredding away as in “Storm Of Memories” or wailing as in “Death In The Eyes Of Dawn”.

More than progressive, there’s hint of atmospheric music and a whole sense of emotion entwined with “RIITIIR”’s global sound, and it results in a beautiful, dramatic and yet pungent album.

4.5/5

by Renata “Pieni” Lino

 

Euroblast Tour featurign Jeff Loomis, Monuments, Vildhjarta and Stealing Axion

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on 19th September 2012 by Nico Solheim-Davidson, the North Sea Poet

Jeff Loomis, Monuments, Vildhjarta and Stealing Axion come together this October for the first ever Euroblast tour, presented by the organizers of Europe’s biggest progressive metal festival.

Since its inception in 2008, Euroblast Festival in Cologne, Germany, has grown exponentially to become the most important event in the progressive and technical metal calendar, and the EB team have called upon the very best the scene to showcase progressive metal across the rest of Europe. The festival has always boasted an international lineup and this tour is no different, bringing together bands from the USA, UK and Sweden, for what is set to be the mind melting tour of the autumn.

Northwest America’s Stealing Axion open the show with their melodic and expansive sound, followed by the djenty poundings of Sweden’s Vildhjarta and UK’s technical power goove masters Monuments rotating direct support. The night will be closed by one of the most technically accomplished players in modern metal, Jeff Loomis, whose ability to push so many different boundaries of what’s humanly possible on six strings, makes him the perfect headliner.

The Euroblast tour hits the UK on the following dates:

Oct 21 – Audio – Brighton, UK

Oct 22 – Sub 89 – Reading, UK

Oct 23 – O2 Academy – Liverpool, UK

Oct 24 – Cathouse – Glasgow, UK

Oct 25 – The Village – Dublin, Ireland

Oct 26 – The Well – Leeds, UK

Oct 27 – O2 Academy – Birmingham, UK

Oct 28 – Underworld – London, UK

Plains of Oblivion (Jeff Loomis), Gnosis (Monuments), Måsstaden (Vildhjarta) and Moments (Stealing Axion) are all out now via Century Media and Inside Out Music.

The Chant – A Healing Place

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 31st August 2012 by hammersmashedlauren

The Chant
A Healing Place
Released August 2012
Atmospheric Rock
Released via Secret Entertainment

Having never heard of The Chant, I was a bit apprehensive to listen to their newest album A Healing Place since I’m pretty picky about atmospheric music. However, this album was absolutely nothing like I expected it to be, and it incorporated many different rock and metal band sounds that meshed wonderfully together. With the rock influences of Chevelle and A Perfect Circle mixed with the more progressive and a bit heavier sounds of Opeth and Katatonia, this album is refreshing from a lot of other newer bands who try to take beautiful, atmospheric music and add it onto a more hardcore/deathcore based songs. It’s evident that this band has worked their way up to create their own kind of sound that could not only appeal to fans of lighter rock music but to also fans of melodic and progressive metal.

Right from the start of the album, the song Outlines does exactly what the title intends and outlines a picture of what this album will sound like. Starting off softly and then working up to a faster paced sound, it sounds captivating and almost a bit spiritual in a way. Paired with the clean vocals of lpo Paasela, I was instantly hooked into the album.

The other 7 tracks had that same consistent sound as Outlines which gave me the impression that the band is pretty confident in their development as a group. They didn’t try so hard to add random solos and other instruments as most new atmospheric bands will try and do. I see a bit of an Opeth influence in that this album has only 8 songs and most of those songs span over a period of 5 minutes, and fans of Opeth know that they are known for creating very long and beautiful pieces. The vocals derive from the sound of Katatonia’s Jonas Renkse which, again, adds that heavier sound to The Chant. The guitars reminded me a lot of Chevelle in that it had a heavier sound but not too heavy which is suiting for this album.

However, I found that the saxophone solo in the song Distant Drums was a bit unnecessary and seemed out of place in the song, though the one in Outlines was incorporated very nicely. The most memorable track from this album was Ocean Speaks in that it was the shortest song on the album (just over 4 minutes) and it got right to the point while still incorporating that same beautiful sound heard throughout this entire album. The Black Corner was also another song I enjoyed from this album in that it included a bit of chanting and collective singing towards at the end of the song that can be arguably annoying to some people but it was an element I felt that made the song memorable and unique.

This album definitely took me by surprise to say the least. This album is definitely recommended for anyone who is into lighter rock, progressive, atmospheric, or melodic metal. Hopefully The Chant continues to progress in their music and keep on making albums just like this one.

4/5

Hammer Smashed Lauren

Hammers of Misfortune – 17th Street

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 24th July 2012 by mariadodarmata

Hammers of Misfortune
17th Street
Heavy/Progressive Metal
Released: October, 2011
Released via Metal Blade Records.

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You know that incredibly frustrating feeling you get when you hear something you know but you can’t quite tell what it is? After the initial perplexity that was caused because of my mind was being misled by the band’s name towards other genres, I spent a good couple of hours trying to figure out where I had heard that sound before.

I came to the conclusion it sounds like if you had thrown Dio, Helloween, Merciful Fate, Blind Guardian and the musical “REPO! The Genetic Opera” in a blender to then add 70’s Rock sprinkles. I have never been so unsure of under which genre should I classify a band! And to be completely honest, it feels a bit unfair to put under one classification music with such a rich selection of sounds.

Some songs are worthy of standing besides the mighty Power Metal marches while others could be included in Heavy Metal compilations. Some could easily be in one of those romantic rock ballad mix tapes and some others I would have definitely come from one of those modern Rock-Opera musical things. This album’s variety makes it exiting to listen to every time. You pick up on new sounds every time.

This is a band I can see both my 17 year old sister and my 50 year old mother enjoying. Although at first I was a bit confused by the sound of it, after several plays you understand it and the more you listen to it, the more you like it.

4.5/5

María Mata

Psychema – The Entry Point

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on 10th July 2012 by mariadodarmata

Psychema
The entry Point
Released on 25th April 2012
Prog. Metal
Released via Inverse Records

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It starts with a smooth, instrumental song. The soft melody gets to your head and relaxes you in a way that when the second song starts your senses jump in surprise. The vocals start up harsh, but they soften up as the song progresses. You gives you an idea of what to expect from the album. By song number three and four, the heavy melodies get softer with hints of Symphonic/Neo-classical metal, Industrial and somehow Pop-rock.

My head had wondered off the music when song number six, The Past, started. With a slow rhythm, the acoustic song came in the precise moment to pull back the attention. Clean vocals beautiful melody, all ends to give space to the next song that goes direct to the point. It brings back all the heavy elements and keeps them throughout the rest of the album. It finishes with a beautiful outro song.

I have mixed feelings about the vocals that go from reminding me to Sepultura on the Cavalera era, to reminding me of Therion. They are right in the middle, too harsh to be clean, too clean to be harsh. But in spite of that the album is good, fun to listen to. It might be Prog. Metal but the influences of other genres are clear, giving the music a somehow Powermetalish sound that is surprisingly heavy.

4.5/5

María Mata

Distorted Harmony – Utopia

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 15th June 2012 by tobiasgray

Band: Distorted Harmony
Album: Utopia
Release date: 14th May 2012
Genre: Progressive Metal
Label: Unsigned

Few things cause more trepidation and anxiousness to this reviewer as the words ‘Prog Metal‘.  For every band that does it well, there are thousands trying to be the next Dream Theater, Tool or Opeth; tragically falling on their own pretentious swords.  Thank (insert relevent deities here) for Distorted Harmony then.

The over-arching impression of Utopia is one of sublime beauty.

Here is a band that understands that no matter how complex  or rhythmic your music, all things must serve the song.  Every instrument has its’ moment to shine, including multiple keyboard solos that are actually listenable (Bodom take note)!  Songwriting aside the strongest element of Distorted Harmony is Misha Soukhinin’s heart-rendingly gorgeous voice.  A cross between Maynard James Keenan (Tool) and Jonas Renkse (Katatonia), with hints of Muse and unusual melodic lines thrown in as a welcome bonus.

The song durations are unsurprisingly long, as to be expected from this genre, and yet your attention is held throughout.  I would recommend listening to this album as a whole, as it offers a much more rewarding experience digesting as a complete ‘works’.  The production, as practically everything else on this album, is flawless, and the band are offering it free from their homepage (although donations are welcome).

Distorted Harmony have created a universally appealing 6 track release, it’s jazz and classical influences colliding with a very Western, epic style of songwriting – somewhat surprising considering the band all hail from Tel Aviv, Israel.  ‘Utopia’ is well worth checking out, an emotional journey of an album and, as previously stated, sublimely beautiful.  Maybe next time I hear the dreaded ‘Prog Metal’, I’ll think back to Utopia and not be so cynical.

5/5

Tobias Gray.

Before My Damnation – Drowning My Daughters

Posted in Review with tags , , , on 3rd April 2012 by Demolithia

Band: Before My Damnation
Album: Drowning My Daughters

Release date: Late 2011
Genre: Deathcore
Label: Self-released 

There are metal bands popping up all around the world now and then. Some of them pass by so quickly you have forgotten most of them seconds after one took notice of them, while other configurations remain so unforgettable that it seems their conceptual metal sound indoctrinated into the range of blood as a poison. One act that falls into the later category is the progressive deathcore dossier Before My Damnation, released their debut EP Drowning My Daughters in late 2011.

Actually it would suffice with the description as it appears on the band’s Facebook page “Brutal but stylish,” what this dynamic subject matter is concerned, it’s technically pretty superbly designed death metal with the specific “northern sound” which among other things found in Soreption, AEON, that emerges quite strongly in this deathcore band consisting of five youngsters: Johan Söderström (Vocals), Gustav Hallström (guitar), Mattias Asberg Gencturk (guitar), Simon Still Farm (Bass) and Benjamin Martinsson (drums). Even fragmentally flooded the streets of loops you’ve heard before, it is mostly like a breath of fresh air as wines by the dynamic structure. The album was recorded at Empire Studios in June, 2011, led by Marcus Edvardsson, which was responsible for mastering etc. Summary Summarum – this album is a killer overloaded with dynamic eargasm sound!

The heavy fast and furious sound that appears in the ljudbilden is overwelming and “it just makes me wanna die”!

5/5

Demonlithia Blackheart

Skin The Pig – Article XIX [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on 23rd December 2011 by underthenorthernstar

Band: Skin The Pig
Album: Article XIX
Release year: 2011
Genre: Progressive Sludge Metal/Metalcore

Skin The Pig are a Manchester-based six-piece who play a mixture of Progressive Metal and Hardcore. Formed in 2000, they have since released their latest effort “Article XIX” in March 2011 and have been hailed by fans and critics alike.

It is apparent from the very outset that the album is incredibly well produced, the sound clarity being excellent and mix being just right. This is particularly apparent in the drumming, which sounds like it’s been recorded onto water a la Metalocalypse, and is clearer than polished mountain air. The guitar work sounds just as excellent whether the task is an ambient, clean passage, a crushing, chugging riff or a swooping solo. The vocals are handled brilliantly. There’s nothing to be asked for in the production department at all.

The songwriting ability of Skin The Pig is, for the most part, excellent. The beautiful ambient passages and grooving, sludgy riffs are a joy to listen to. However, it is a frustration for your humble reviewer whenever they incorporate their “Hardcore” edge into the songs. In some cases, it works, but, for example, the use of a breakdown at the end of “I Rise, You Fall” seems completely unnecessary. I can’t help feeling that the songs would be improved by scaling back on the use of fairly unoriginal Metalcore elements in favour of their more progressive approach. I’m sure the style will appeal to many, and if you like Metalcore more than anything else in the whole world then this album will be great for giving you that bit of musical variation. That said, the use of the Metalcore sound is justified on “Yet Nameless”, as the contrast emphasises the solo work and the groove of the more sludgy parts. The songs on which a more Mastodon-like sound is incorporated are the more enjoyable, from my point of view, as they feel so much more like the band is showing off its real talent. And although I can’t help feeling reminded of Bullet for My Valentine for the first three minutes of “Room 121,” the lyrical content is resolutely great.

However, it must be said that the musicianship is Phenomenal. The band has more talent than a greedy ancient Egyptian tax collector. The soloing is incredible, particularly on tracks like “In Loving Memory” and “Factory Factory,” and the drumming on “No Man’s Land” is eargasmic.  The way that the band play as a whole makes me think that they must be a brilliant band to see live, and that is something I certainly plan on doing.

I think that Article XIX is a solid album by a great band. I hope to hear more of them in the future, and I know that there will be hundreds of fans of this style, and it really is a great example. Definitely check it out if you’ve always dreamt that one day Lamb of God would meet Mastodon, get to know them and eventually have a screaming child together.

3.9/5

Alasdair Dunn of Norderobring

Spires – Spiral Of Ascension [2010]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on 22nd November 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson, the North Sea Poet

Band: Spires
Album: Spiral Of Ascension
Release year: 2010
Genre: Progressive Metal

Manchester based prog. metallers Spires began initially as the brain child of vocalist, frontman and producer Paul Sadler [ex InSlience/Tomb]. After completing the line-up, consisting of Paul Cuthbert [Guitar], Alex Jolley [Bass] and Chris Barnard [Drums] the band soon began gigging, making their live shows a testament to their dedication and passion for the music they write. November 2010 saw the release of their highly anticipated album Spires Of Ascension.

“Equilibrium” starts with a very progressive sounding introduction, similar to those that can be found on an Opeth track. The vocals are calm and soothing, an odd contrast with the guitars – Well, that is until the vocals turn more raw and aggressive with elements of a death metal style thrown in as well just to spice things up. The drums hold their own nicely through out the track. The guitar solo feels too early on in the track, being virtually at the halfway point. The second guitar solo feels more at home towards the end. The album moves onto “The Infinite End”, beginning calmly before slowly changing into a hulk-like raid of furious metal. The vocals keep things interesting with their death metal stylings, especially when combined with the technical and melodic guitar licks.

“Nightfall” starts with the relaxing sound of rain before the acoustic riffs coolly walk into the song, giving the listener a small break before 13 and a half minute track that is “Broken Hourglass”. The use of thunder during in the song gives the track some form of atmosphere. “Broken Hourglass” is quite eerie at the beginning – Whether this is due to the sound of the guitar or the riff being played, I will never know unless I ask the band, which at this time of morning would be a stupid idea. Anyway, back to the review – The song progresses into heavier and technical musings but still retains that eerie sound in certain sections. The clean use of vocals make a mighty return to the album during in the track. The guitars switch between clean and heavy, though mostly staying clean and melodic adding for a very progressive sound for the first half of the track. The main negative issue with the track is its length – It’s too long for the casual listener of progressive metal and may even seem dull after a few minutes. Roughly half way through, the demonic-like growls can be heard, adding a spark of freshness to the song.

”Symmetry” has a very soft rock ambience to its sound, perfect for chilling out to though this may or may not have been the intention of the band during its composition. The vocals are strong, blending well with the music. The ten piece composition that is “Martyr” follows after, beginning in a more progressive and alternative vein before evolving into something heavier and more technical. After a while, it does revert back to the softer, progressive sound, which a shame since the death metal sound is catchy in a weird sense. The vocals are diverse, like the music, which is to be expected and there’s even a cheeky use of female vocals as well to add that extra bit of spice to the already tasty mix of sounds. Coming towards the end of the album is none other than the title track, “Spiral Of Ascension”. Like the previous tracks, it has a soft, progressive sounding introduction that is both melodic and easy on the ears. The vocals begin out clean and it is a while before the song turns from a Dr Jekkyl-like sound into a more beastly Dr Hyde-like sound. The track definitely demonstrates the different influences the band have and they clearly merge them together into a masterpiece with this one track.

“A New Prayer”, which is the bonus track, finalises the album with a soft but mystifying guitar riff that slowly grows into a loud, volcanic roar of unrelenting force and power with little nibbles of melodic compositions. The other parts of the track are more along the lines of a furious assault of gunfire-styled drums and guitars before retreating back into a soft section.

“Spires Of Ascension” is kind of like the British offspring of Emperor and Opeth minus the symphonic elements. The album is enjoyable for the most part though a fan of progressive metal might struggle to find the enjoyment straight away. Definitely an album worth checking out for fans of Emperor, Opeth and Mastodon.

4.8/5

Nico Davidson

Spires will be touring with Incassum later this month. See below for dates:

24/11 NEWCASTLE TRILLIANS – FREE ENTRY!
25/11 BRADFORD RIOS
26/11 HULL RINGSIDE
27/11 GRIMSBY YARDBIRDS
30/11 KINGSTON THE PEEL
01/12 READING FACE BAR
02/12 DERBY OLD BELL
04/12 MANCHESTER ALTER EGO + ‘SWORN TO OATH’

Dakesis – Trial By Fire [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on 19th November 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson, the North Sea Poet

Band: Dakesis
Album: Trial By Fire
Release year: 2011
Genre: Progressive Power Metal

Trial-By-Fire-Cover-Hi-Res
Dakesis – Birmingham based progressive power metal quintet – are considered by some as one of the UK’s fastest growing independent artists. Mixing progressive and power metal, the band have established a strong and loyal fan base over the last two years. Looking at the album cover, one would easily get the impression that the album is a mixture of Tolkien’s work and Greek mythology.

The epic and majestic sound of “Shield Of Achilles I” starts the album. The orchestration brings about a dramatic and tense sound, much like the theme to Jaws. The title track “Trial By Fire” comes blazing next with a mixture of highly energetic guitars and strong vocals topped with intelligently played drums. The vocals have a strong and heroic sound to them, almost Odysseus-like in their strength. The guitars show hints of some European metal influences – Without the overly cheesy sound that has come to be associated with stereotypical power metal. The keyboards offer up a brilliant sagaic flavour throughout the track as well. The only other parts of the track that truly deserves praise would have to be the guitar and keyboard solos – Both of which are well composed and well cleverly placed like the Spartans at Thermopylae.

”Liar” takes a less power metal approach in its intro though the high pitched wail that soon follows changes that. The guitars and drums are well structured and the keyboards are strategically placed to reinforce the rest of the music. The combination of male and female vocals – the latter of which are brought into the song by the band’s keyboardist Gemma – are pretty easy on the ears, feeling a tad like the combination of vocals in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic “Phantom Of The Opera”. The track however is obviously dominated by male vocals, slightly disappointing, but hey, what can we do about it? For those of you who like keyboard introductions, you’ll love the harmonious yet solemn keyboard heavy beginning to “After The Storm”. The vocal work is primarily female – And before anyone says anything, no, the song does not sound like a Nightwish track! Wayne’s vocals make a slight appearance in the song without taking away from the sound already established. The speed metalesque styling of “On Wings Of Steel” takes the album by storm with its keyboard dominated introduction. Wayne’s vocals lead the charge into the musical fray of masterfully composed guitar sections and keyboard riffs, followed by Gemma’s vocals that don’t feature as heavily throughout the song – Either way though, the combination of their vocals makes the track more exciting.

”Broken” starts with a depressed and slow-paced section being composed of Gemma’s vocals and piano before the melodic guitar work joins in, keeping to the slower march of the song. Wayne’s vocals can be heard as well, adding extra strength to the song. “Into The Light” starts with the sound of bass that grows stronger as it progresses before the rest of the instrumentation dominate the track much like the way the Roman Empire dominated Europe. The vocal work, provided by Wayne, is diverse on this one, offering up a mixture of high and low notes. The solos keep everything in the song – and the album – sounding fresh so need to worry about the sound going stale after a few listens. The slow but epic musings of “Valhalla” add a sound of Eddic proportions to the album. The vocal work is grand, blending with the music well. The lack of emphasis on the keyboards does make the song feel a bit bland, though it does give it a very old school power metal sound – Iced Earth meets Helloween kind of power metal. “To The End” brings back a faster tempo to the album as well as emphasis on the keyboards in sections. Wayne’s vocals are coupled up with what sounds to be growls in the background, making the song more aggressive and violent sounding – much like the violent sound heard coming from a raiding party of berserkers mixed with metal. The guitar solo is placed in an unusual section of the song and ambushes the listener before the keyboard solo carries on the onslaught of masterfully played musical craftsmanship. Gemma’s vocal work has the proverbial last word of the song, ending on a solemn note with the piano.

”Shield of Achilles” casts forth an ethereal sound that could only come from the depths of Hades – or some other eerie and misunderstood mythological afterlife. The track progresses into a sound as mighty and as powerful as the legendary Achilles himself, truly a song worthy of the legend. Thankfully Homer [Author of the Iliad] never composed music, otherwise he’d have probably written this centuries before hand! The album’s end comes in the form of “440 (King Of The Road)”. The song takes a less fancy musical approach, favouring a raw sound with the guitars over any fancy technical work. Wayne’s vocal work is once again quite diverse while the guitars offer up a virgin sacrifice of musical goodness to the ears of the listener. They keyboards keep flow nicely in their designated sections, keeping that European power metal in place.

If Homer, Beethoven and Iron Maiden had a love child together, Dakesis would be the clearly epic sounding result. Never has there been such a perfect sounding debut full length album like “Trial By Fire”. The vocals are more diverse than the usual vocal styles found in power metal and the instrumentation show a range of influences from classic metal to prog. metal and European power metal. It’s easy to see why Dakesis are considering one of the fastest growing independent acts.

5/5

Nico Davidson

Abercion – Depth And Perception [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 3rd October 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson, the North Sea Poet

Band: Abercion
Album: Depth And Perception
Release year: 2011
Genre: Melodic Progressive Hardcore

Abercion are a five-piece hardcore out from Birmingham, UK. 2011 saw the release of their EP “Depth And Perception”.

”Words Can Only Hurt From The Inside” is definitely not a song you want to be listening to via headphones on full volume when it begins, due to the sheer of aggression of the introduction. The vocals are raw, bloodthirsty and untameable, while the guitars are full of pure angst and anger, adding to that heavy hardcore sound. The vocals do sound frail in one or two small sections of the song but the drums make up for that. The acoustic section comes as a massive surprise, putting a halt to the brutality of the song.

”See You Next Tuesday” follows after, starting with a unique sound. The guitars eventually kick in properly, though this song is lacking in comparison to the opening song. The guitars just don’t seem to be as aggressive or have that certain bite and the vocals seem to be extremely strained for the most part. The drums are the more interesting aspect of the song. The EP finishes with “From dusk ‘Till Dawn” which brings the angst and energy back onto the EP fortunately. The acoustic section is probably something that should have been expected yet wasn’t, the heavy section that follows after it brings the energy back into the song and the vocals add that extra bite to the song.

”Depth And Perception” is an interesting EP, as it displays a mixture of progressive, melodic and hardcore elements and influences. Abercion show potential, at least, with this EP and with some more hardcore they’ll definitely fuse the different elements and influences together for a truly unique sound – Hopefully they’ll be less acoustic passages.

3/5

Nico Davidson

Obsolete Tomorrow – Beauty Through Chaos [2010]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on 31st July 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson, the North Sea Poet

Band: Obsolete Tomorrow
Album: Beauty Through Chaos
Release year: 2010
Genre: Progressive Death Metal/Yorkshire Metal

Obsolete Tomorrow is the solo project of Driffield based guitarist and producer Lee Rule [Ravenage, Windrider, ex-Divine Sinn]. The debut EP “Beauty Through Chaos” [A concept EP revolving around Rule’s life] was released through Rule’s label Xeroxed Records.

The generically named “Prelude” is the first track of the album. Even on a low volume the sheer aggression of the guitars and drums bursts through the speakers. “Battle Ready” comes shredding its way next with a violent combination of raw growls, guitars and drums. The guitars are acute in their composition and playing whilst the drums are masterfully played. The vocals are extremely impressive, almost demonic – Even the whispered growls are a great addition to the track and the EP. The guitar solo is brilliant, very melodic – Mixing well with the aggressive rhythm. Two songs in and the EP is already at a savagely awesome beginning.

The hard-bitten intro of “The Eternal Nightmare” blasts its way next with a ruthless combo of guitars and drums. The synths are a great part of the track, adding a calmness to the hurricane-like force of pure brutality. The drum work is precise but savagely brutal and the vocals are feral and beasty. The double bass pedal barrages are an ingenious addition to the track as well. “Let Chaos Rise” starts with a less rage-fuelled riff, being more akin to progressive metal than death metal, as can be heard in other sections of the track. The guitars and drums certainly show a progressive influence though the vocals keep the angst and aggression. The synths are amazing. There are some death metal elements in the guitars and drums – Good news for those whom aren’t a fan of progressive metal. The highlight of the song would definitely have to be the guitar solo.

”My Asylum” is one of the more lighter songs on the EP, featuring a masterful use of melodic guitar riffs. The track could be easily described as the calm before the storm, which is most true considering the bloodthirsty assault of metal that follows in the form of “The New Beginning” which mixes the aggression and heaviness of death metal with the interesting influences of progressive metal. The drum work is entertaining in its style and playing, blending well with the guitars and vocals. The vocals certainly add the brutal element to the song. The different tempos throughout the track add a new dynamic to the entire EP as well as the track.

”The Rise Of Beauty” is another softer song on the EP, being akin to a mixture of progressive and melodic metal. Surprisingly, there’s a use of female vocals that create the good ol’ “beauty and the beast” effect with the harsh growls. The riffs are very melodic and heavy in some sections. The choir voices from the synths add a very mystical and epic atmosphere to the track. The rough, aggression guitar work contrasts well with the soft, melodic riffs and the female vocals are just enchanting. The EP finishes with “The War Is Over”, another soft, progressive styled track that is the perfect end to a brilliant EP.

Both composition-wise and production-wise, Beauty Through Chaos is a masterpiece. If you didn’t know it was the debut release of Obsolete Tomorrow, you’d most certainly think it was a later release in Obsolete Tomorrow’s discography. Progressive death metal has never been so brilliantly composed! It’s probably the best release in the British metal scene.

5/5

Nico Davidson

Internal Harvest – Exit Signs [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 31st July 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson, the North Sea Poet

Band: Internal Harvest
Album: Exit Signs
Release year: 2011
Genre: Dark Metal

Australia is a country with one of the most unknown metal scenes in the world which is actually a huge shame considering the quality of the metal that comes from down under. Internal Harvest are another top quality band from the Australian metal underground. “Exit Signs” is the latest full-length from these Aussie dark metallers.

The melodically slow introduction of “Quagmire” begins the album. Without any form of warning, the track turns stout and stormy, whilst lethargic at the same time. The vocals are raw and savage but the drum work needs improvement as it doesn’t seem to fit in with the guitars or vocals. The song, overall, does set a very gloomy and dark-hearted mood, something that might not be liked by all but it’s still a genius effect of the track. Towards the end of the track, the drum work improves greatly, bouncing off the guitars extremely well. “Field Of Thorns” has a faster tempo but still brings along a very melancholy atmosphere with it. The drum work is more acute and well composed and the bass riffs – clearly audible – sound simply amazing. The vocals are still raw, angsty and untamed – though in some section they do sound slightly whiney. The clean, droning vocals make the track sound slightly doom metal-ish as well – A surprisingly decent aspect of the song.

“Blinded By Heart” is different sounding in its introduction, as it mixes clean and slow riffs and soft drums with feral screams. The mood generated by this song is a sombre and sorrowful one, making the listener’s heart literally feel heavy with remorse – Very few bands these days can pull that off so kudos to Internal Harvest for that. The tempo and weight of the song increases towards the halfway point and the vocals become more savage. “Crumbling Within” starts with a synth-guitar combo introduction which is soon joined by the drums. Though a soft beginning, the atmosphere it generates is powerful. The vocals, clean and droning, add to the atmosphere and the mood set by the song. The immensity of the track escalates when it turns heavier. The riffs become rougher and the vocals more hateful, though the drum stay soft. The soft and clean guitar section makes a reappearance towards the end of the track as well.

“The Illusion Of Life” starts with strange sound effects and odd sounding guitar parts. The track turns heavy yet slow after about a minute of sound effects. The vocals sound bloodthirsty and beefy. After a while, the track begins to become uninteresting though it is clearly well composed and the sound effects do add a unique sound to it. The clean vocals keep a doom metal essence about the track as well. It does, however, become more exciting towards the end – A little too late though. The final song on the album is the title track “Exit Signs”, beginning slow like some of the previous tracks and partially muted. However, the listener need not despair as the track does get heavier. The vocals are still raw and untamed and the drums work well the guitar sections. The increase of tempo is brilliant as it gives the track more untameable energy and aggression whilst keeping a certain sombre mood as well. The clean vocals are well used on this track as well, adding to the despairing feeling of the song.

Australia may not be noted for its metal but with a band like Internal Harvest on the scene it may soon be known for its metal scene rather than its kangaroos. The album is a different one compared to most metal albums these days as it mixes black, doom and progressive metal with some very experimental ideas as well. It works mostly throughout the album though there are some parts where it just does not want to seem to work – But this is no fault of the band’s as some things just can’t work together at all. It will be interesting to see how Internal Harvest carry on this unique sound found on “Exit Signs”.

4/5

Nico Davidson

Aeon Of Horus – The Embodiment Of Darkness And Light [2008]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on 27th July 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson, the North Sea Poet

Band: Aeon Of Horus
Album: The Embodiment Of Darkness And Light
Release year: 2008
Genre: Progressive Death Metal

Hailing from Australia, the four piece death metal out known as Aeon Of Horus [a name also used in Themela for the portrayal of a time of self-realisation] combine technical riffs and drum work with aggressive and violent brutality. Since forming in 2006, Aeon Of Horus have gone to dominate the Australian metal scene with their debut album “The Embodiment Of Darkness And Light”.

”3C321” begins the album with a short, melodic lick in which feral vocals and rugged riffs come straight after. The guitar work is extremely technical, perhaps a bit too technical in places. The drum work is vicious and unrestrained, adding savagery and barbaric stylings to the track. Whilst the track is well composed, it feels as if they is too much going on during in the three and a half minutes. It’s a mediocre track to be beginning the album with.

”Conquering The Speed Of Light” begins with a bit more consistency and less going on in the introduction compared to the previous track. Some of the riffs seem to be more straight forward and with no thrills while there is still a use of technicality through the track. The vocals are certainly beast-like and demonic. The drum work seems to be more acute and calculated as well. “Conquering The Speed Of Light” is certainly an assault upon the listener’s ears – Though this will be no problem for any dedicated fan of death metal. “The Embodiment: Part One – Of Darkness” has a very interesting beginning, being composed only of intense drumming. The guitar section that follows doesn’t seem to favour technicality much, though that’s no problem as the keyboard sections help create an atmosphere. There are some melodic riffs here and there throughout the track which are impressive.

Following after is the track entitled “The Embodiment: Part Two – And Light”. The intro is slower paced for a short while before the face-melting aggression and speed kicks in. The drums are vigilant and acutely played, while the guitars are brutal and angry sounding – the way death metal should be! The vocals are still going strong, retaining the feral, beast-like sound to them. The piano medley during in part of the second half is enchanting, almost like the singing an angel in a world of misery. The acoustic start of “The Pillars” is next, mixed with cunningly played drums. The acoustic guitar sections are masterfully played, lulling the listener into a state of calmness which is soon disrupted by the brutalising onslaught of “Arrogantly Opposing Reality”. The riffs are clever and sharp, whilst barbaric and savage at the same time. The drums are played with great precision, keeping in touch with the rest of the track. The vocals sound slightly like the ones found on a Lamb Of God album, which is no bad thing.

“Icon” is another track with an acoustic beginning, though the track is not entirely acoustic – fortunately enough for those who favour raw, destructive riffs over softer sections. The vocals are on the verge of being black metal vocals in some sections, though still manage to keep a hold of their death metal elements. The riffs can only be described as merciless metal aggression mixed with hateful drum work – the perfect recipe for a good death metal anthem. “Heru-Ra-Ha”, which literally means “Horus sun-flesh” [Also the name of a composite deity in Themela] ruthlessly blasts its way through the album, with intelligent-yet-untamed guitar and drum work, topped with fierce and remorseless sounding vocals. The short acoustic break is unexpected and ruins the track partially, composition wise, however the guitar solo is sheer brilliance and makes one easily forget about the acoustic section.

“As The Earth Shatters (Part One)” is the second to last track of the album. The entire track is calm, solemn and somewhat soothing, composed entirely of orchestration – Which can be a let down for listeners who were expecting neck-breaking riffs and ear-busting drum work. However, “As The Earth Shatters (Part Two)” makes up the let down of the first part as it brings the neck-breaking riffs that the listener is so eager to hear. The drum work is great, sharply composed yet uncivilised at the same time – A great contrast. Listener be warned though, orchestration makes its return on this track as well during in the second half though the raspy, whispered vocals to wonders to make it more enjoyable. The track does end on a final, heavy note fortunately enough.

Australia could soon be the next internationally recognised metal scene – Especially with Aeon of Horus pioneering it. “The Embodiment Of Darkness And Light” is an interesting album indeed. Though there are a few parts which aren’t enjoyable, the album is certainly a genius piece of work and clearly shows the potential of “Aeon Of Horus”. Be you a hardcore fan of death metal or just a casual listener, “The Embodiment Of Darkness And Light” is one album that you must listen to.

4/5

Nico Davidson

Rhapsody Of Fire – From Chaos To Eternity [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 14th June 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson, the North Sea Poet

Band: Rhapsody Of Fire
Album: From Chaos To Eternity
Release year: 2011
Genre: Power Metal/Symphonic Metal

Rhapsody Of Fire have been a dominating force in both the Italian and European metal scenes. “From Chaos To Eternity” is the last album based on the fantasy saga that started with the band’s 1997 debut album “Legendary Tales” and is the first album to feature the band’s newest member Tom Hess.

The short lived track “Ad Infinitum” , which is Latin for “Endlessly”, is the first track of “From Chaos To Eternity”. The track is mainly composed of the technical guitar work of Luca Turilli combined with the epic narration of Christopher Lee. It is a brilliant opener for the album in true Rhapsody fashion. The title track, “From Chaos To Eternity” carries on from where “Ad Infinitum” finishes.  The track is already at a good start with the acute riffs and epic sounding piano sections. Fabio’s vocals are stronger than ever, the drums are masterfully played and the bass sections are pure genius. The third track, Tempesta Di Fuoco, which roughly translated means “Firestorm” in Italian, shreds its way next with a fast paced, technical intro riff mixed with some epic symphonic sections. There is use of some acoustic sections which brings a certain calm to the track whilst the piano only section takes away something from the track.

“Ghosts Of Forgotten Worlds” like the previous tracks, starts fast paced and technical, though some of the guitar sections on this track seem to have more bite and aggression.  The vocals blend well with the acoustic sections. The symphonic sections contrast superbly with the violent sound of the track. Even the drums seem to have more punch. The synth and guitar solos make this track one of the best ones on the album. “Anima Perduta”, Italian for “Lost Soul”, begins with the sound of wind followed by a beautiful combination of piano, flute and harpsichord. The vocals are soothing, blending with the solemn atmosphere and sound of the track. The symphonic sections make the track more majestic sounding. The guitars sound as if they don’t belong on the track however. Next is “Aeons Of Raging Darkness”. The introduction is mightily played bass section followed by an epic guitar riff mixed with a sagaic symphonic section. The guitar sections have more a speed metal element to them whilst the piano medleys add a hint of neoclassical to the track. The vocals, to begin with, are raw, aggressive and brutal, blending exceedingly well with the cleaner, operatic vocals. “Aeons Of Raging Darkness” is certainly one of the most aggressive, violent tracks ever to be performed by Rhapsody Of Fire and its a sound that works well for them.

“I Belong To The Stars” begins with a calmer introduction compared to the previous track though the track does soon turn heavy and symphonic. There seems to be more emphasis on the choir and symphony on this track, mixed in with some great piano medleys and strong vocals. Some of the guitar riffs leave much to be desired, as do some of the drum sections, however, the synth solo makes up for it. “Tornado” begins with a dramatic intro and the guitar riffs that follow are great. Like “Aeons Of Raging Darkness”, this track has a very aggressive and violent sound, complete with more harsh black metal screams mixed with the cleaner, more operatic vocals. The drum and guitar sections have improved since the previous track as well.

The last of the album is the almost twenty minute long epic “Heroes Of The Waterfalls’ Kingdom”. Christopher Lee’s narration is the intro, setting a certain legendary atmosphere. The vocals bring a very medieval sound, whilst the slight use of flute works well with the acoustic guitar.  The violin sections are well composed, making the track that much more pleasant to listen to. The symphonic sections signal the approaching metal assault, which was to be expected eventually. Fabio demonstrates his full range on this track, whilst the riffs are more acute and technical than they have been on the album. The harsh vocals can be heard in parts of this track, giving it more bite. The choir sections do seem to ruin the track ever so slightly, however everything else makes up for that. Some of the other guitar sections are more aggressive and barbaric, clearly demonstrating the masterful skills of the guitarists. Christopher Lee’s narration can be heard half way through the track, making it more and more sagaic. There is a conversation between the characters of the saga, which helps bring about a very legend-like feel, especially as it works well with the guitar riffs and symphonic sections. The track ends very solemnly and grandly. A perfect end to the saga.

“From Chaos To Eternity” fully demonstrates how much Rhapsody Of Fire’s sound has changed and mature since their first album. This album is perhaps the best one they’ve written and probably will be the best for a long to come. This is certainly a jewel to have for any fan of symphonic and power metal.

4.5/5

Nico Davidson

MaYaN – Quarterpast [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 3rd June 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson, the North Sea Poet

Band: MaYaN
Album: Quarterpast
Release Year: 2011
Genre: Symphonic Death Metal/Progressive Metal

Dutch symphonic death metal sextet is the latest project by Epica guitarist Mark Jansen.  Their debut album is “Quarterpast” which features some well known names from the European Metal scene including Simone Simons [Epica], Floor Jansen [ReVamp, ex-After Forever] and Henning Basse [Sons of Seasons]. The subtitle for the album is “Symphonic Death Metal Opera” which promises a brilliant story behind the songs.

The album begins with “Symphony Of Aggression” which already hints at pure death metal styled brutality. The intro riff pulls no punches, bringing a heavy barrage of double bass drum and distorted, skull-crushing guitars. The introduction of Mark’s grunts completes the track. The symphonic sections add a certain calm to the storm that is “Symphony Of Aggression” whilst the whispered section brings a touch of eeriness to the track. The most shocking thing about this track is the use of Simone’s vocals soon into the album, however, it doesn’t take away from the brilliance of the musicianship or composition of the track. “Symphony Of Aggression” is perhaps one of the best opening tracks ever to have been written and recorded.

The second track, “Mainstray Of Society – In The Eyes Of The Law Corruption”, begins where the previous track finished, bringing melodic riffs to the album rather than beasty riffs. Mark’s grunts work well with the symphonic and guitar sections. The highlight of this track would definitely have to be the drums and vocals. The album soon takes a turn into a more gentle track which takes its name from the album title “Quarterpast”. The track is a Gothic-sounding orchestral track, which unfortunately doesn’t last too long.

“Course Of Life” bombards its way on to the album next, starting with a heavy and aggressive yet melodic and beautiful guitar riff mixed with some intelligent drum work. Henning’s vocals are the first ones to be heard on this track and they are as strong as ever, bringing a whole new sound to the album. Mark’s grunts and Simone’s and Floor’s vocals work well as backing vocals on this track, though the track could have been better with some more vocals from Mark. The symphonic sections, like the first two tracks, work well with the guitars and drums, adding a tragic sound to the track. The track finishes with a very tense and dramatic symphonic outro. “The Savage Massacre – In The Eyes Of Law Pizzo” is the fifth track. Its intro is composed of ear-splitting riffs, melancholy symphonic sections and heavy drums. Mark’s grunts seem to have become more aggressive and angry-sounding for this track. The guitars also seem to have become more heavy, whilst some of the symphonic sections sound repetitive of the previous tracks. The soft section half way through, composed of people talking with strong operatic vocals singing over them adds mystique to the track before the heavy onslaught of riffs, drums and grunts returns.

“Essenza Di Te” is one of the more softer tracks on the album,  featuring vocals from up-and-coming opera star Laura Macri. This track is beautiful composed, featuring a lot of classical-styled music mixed with very strong vocals which bring a very touching essence to the album. “Essenza Di Te” leads into the aggressive and melodic intro of “Bite The Bullet”. This track has more of a power metal sound to it, in terms of the music and the vocals of Henning add to the power metal sound. Mark’s grunts can be heard a fair bit on this track as well, which brings that needed death metal element. The guitar solo on this track is the best one on the album. The next track is “Drown The Demon”, which is more of a ballad-styled song. It begins with a dark symphonic intro which brings about a very tense musical atmosphere. The guitars soon follow, while not as heavy as previous tracks, they still pack a punch combined with the drums and bass. The combination of Mark’s grunts and Floor’s vocals are reminiscent of After Forever, however this track is far from been an After Forever track. The guitars work beautifully with the symphonic sections. In fact, the guitar riffs are almost hypnotically catchy. The guitar solo is epic and the voice over just after it brings a whole new level to the track.

“Celibate Aphrodite” brings the aggression back to the album with a thrash-sounding intro riff. The piano sections that follow the intro add a very Gothic touch to the track, which works brilliantly with Mark’s grunts and the guitars. The voice over, followed by the female vocals is an astounding touch to the album, especially as it’s followed by a short but expertly played solo. A longer solo comes after another section of female vocals, adding a very aggressive sound to the track. This track is one of the best ones on the album. The orchestrated intro of “War On Terror – In The Eyes Of The Law Pentagon Papers” comes next, with a very Romanian gypsy sound before the brutal assault of guitars, drums and bass begins. This track seems more fast paced compared to the previous ones and Mark sounds as if he’s struggling to keep up with the music in some sections, which is the only flaw with this track. The symphonic sections would have to be the most impressive thing about this track, followed by the guitar riffs. “Tithe” is next, been composed of a piano medley which sounds a tad like the Harry Potter theme to begin with. This track is the last soft track of the album, bringing it with an eerie sound. The bonus track, “Sinner’s Last Retreat – Deed Of Awakening” comes blasting next, with a heavy intro combined with strong vocals. The orchestration seems to have become heavier, virtually matching the guitars and drums in brutality and aggression.

“Quarterpast” has proven itself to be a most impressive debut album. Mark Jansen has outdone himself with this album. Each track leaves the listener wanting more and with an array of big names from the European metal scene, it’s no wonder that this is a brilliant album. For those who are worried that this is going to be an “Epica-sounding album”, you need not worry. This album has more bite and aggression, a true jewel in today’s death metal scene.

4.5/5

Nico Davidson

Within Temptation – The Unforgiving [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 16th March 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson, the North Sea Poet

Band: Within Temptation
Album: The Unforgiving
Release Year: 2011
Genre: Symphonic Metal/Gothic Metal

“The Unforgiving” is the fifth studio release by Dutch symphonic metal sextet “Within Temptation”. It is due to be released along side a series of short films and a comic book series to encompass a concept story.

The album begins with “Why Not Me” which is composed entirely of orchestration and female narration which makes for a very mystical and epic atmosphere. “Shot In The Dark” follows soon after, beginning with the haunting sounds of a soft choir mixed with some very powerful vocals from Sharon. About a minute in, the drums and guitars make themselves heard, making the track heavier. The track turns soft again for a short while later on, which is followed by an amazing guitar solo. Next is “In The Middle Of The Night”. It begins with a hard rock sounding guitar riff. The vocals soon come in after the keyboards, drums and bass. The vocals are astounding on this track and the keyboard parts are simply brilliant. The track turns more Gothic sounding in terms of the guitar riffs about half way through, giving the track a more sinister sound for a short while.

“Faster” comes next, beginning with another hard rock sounding guitar riff which is soon accompanied by drums. Once again, the vocals are astounding and full of energy and power. This track is certainly one of the less symphonic and lighter tracks on album, featuring a small amount of emphasis on the keyboards as such.  Straight after is “Fire and Ice”, which begins with a very cold and dark orchestral section before the piano and vocals take over, bringing some warmth to track. However the lyrics keep a cold touch on the track. The piano is eventually replaced by a heavy orchestral piece, bringing a certain epicness to the track and album. The track finishes on a beautifully slow outro.

“Iron” comes blasting in next with another hard rock sounding guitar intro, which is soon accompanied by drums, bass and orchestration. The vocals soon come in making the track complete. The vocals are absolutely amazing and the orchestrated sections are beautifully composed. There is a use of female narration which just makes the track more enjoyable. The track does slightly heavier after the narration, leading straight into a guitar solo of immense proportions. Next is “Where Is The Edge” which begins with haunting beautiful female vocals and an amazing orchestrated medley before the guitars, drum and bass kick in. Like the previous tracks, the vocals are again astounding and full of power. The use of a synth riff just makes this track seem that much more dramatic.

“Sinead” is next, which begins with a choir sound and soft orchestration, accompanied by Sharon’s vocals. The drums soon make their way onto the track, working very well with the orchestration. The guitars bring a more rock sound to the track when they finally make themselves heard. The drums stay oft, whilst the orchestration pretty much dominates the track alongside the vocals. After is “Lost” which begins with a calming acoustic intro. Sharon’s vocals work amazingly well with the acoustic section. The orchestration gives the track a more mystical feeling. “Murder” comes next and it begins with a very dramatic sounding orchestral sound. Sharon’s vocals seem to sound more aggressive on this track as well. The use of synth works well with the guitars, drums and bass.

The second to last track “A Demon’s Fate” comes next, beginning with an intro similar to that of “Fire and Ice” until the guitars come blasting in. The orchestration on this track is simply amazing. It works well with everything else going on in the track. The use of double bass pedal works extremely well with the orchestration as well and the guitar solo just makes this track so much more amazing. “Stairway To The Skies” is the last track. It begins with orchestration and a piano medley, setting a very sombre yet tense atmosphere, which leads the way for the guitar and drums which stay soft. The vocals soon follow, before the track turns slightly heavier. The track switches between heavy and light, keeping a nice balance of the two.

“The Unforgiven” is far from being a symphonic metal album, however, it does have the Within Temptation sound. The orchestration and guitar riffs are simply mind blowing and Sharon’s vocals are as powerful as ever. It is well produced and well presented. This is certainly one for any fan’s collection.

5/5

Nico Davidson