Archive for symphonic

Moonlight Haze – De Rerum Natura

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 28th June 2019 by mickbirchy

Moonlight Haze
De Rerum Natura
Power Metal, Symphonic Metal
Released 21st June 2019
via Scarlet Records

It really is funny, if you follow the scene enough you start to see familiar names here there and everywhere. To the point that it will lead you to more music. This is very much my relationship with the Symphonic and Power metal scene in Europe. It’s a scene where everyone knows everyone, or at least it feels that way. Which is what lead me to Moonlight Haze.  I’ve been a fan of the singer Chiara Tricarico for a while, I first heard her singing in the band Temperance. I just find her vocals really enjoyable and pleasant to listen to and I’m a fan of pretty much any project she lends her name to, so when I heard she was starting a new band with Giulio Capone and includes members (and ex-members) of Temperance, Elvenking, Sound Storm, Teodasia and Overtures. You could probably have won a bet, that I would have taken the time to listen to it at some point. 

From my first listen I immediately gravitated to their music. Tonnes of energy, great production with charm and passion, De Rerum Natura makes a great first impression for fans of power metal who like that little more grandiose tone to the sound. The album wastes no time with engaging and commanding rhythm and tight sounding production that keeps you listening, track after track. The band sounds awesome, with great sounding instrumentation which is mixed really well. The guitars and drums, in particular, hit hard and the bass keeps the rhythm nice and tight and the keyboards set a really nice atmosphere that elevates the music to another level. As great power metal usually does. 

As for the vocal performance from Chiara, well, it’s excellent. As usual, she displays such excellent technique and it makes the lyrics just shine with personality. With this excellent vocal performance, it really brings the entire thing together really nicely. I love the mix of style on the record to with powerful and heavy rhythms and slick, well-executed guitar solos, all packaged in a great power metal experience. I quite like some of the more jazzy and groovy parts between the main parts of the songs, that little bit of intricacy really adds to the enjoyment of listening to this album.

I love the way the overall sound feels to listen to. It has this excellent energy and it’s entertaining from start to finish with lots of replay value. I will admit that I have been playing this album a lot since it’s release and plan one listening to it a whole lot more. If you like your power metal blended well with other musical styling, that also packs that little extra punch, then definitely give De Rerum Natura a listen.

4/5

Mick Birchall

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Avantasia – Moonglow

Posted in CD, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , on 8th February 2019 by mickbirchy

Avantasia

Moonglow

Symphonic Metal, Power Metal

Released: 15th February 2019

via Nuclear Blast Records

Every time a new album from the mind of Tobias Sammet comes out, you know I have to listen to it. The new album from Avantasia, Moonglow is another home run for the band. This is their eighth studio record to date and they keep going from strength to strength. This album is one of their most impressive in my opinion. It has so many interesting elements, mixing many different styles from around the world, they have created a complex and dynamic record that is consistently interesting. I have been really into this band for the longest time. The way they mix sounds, melodies and intricate lyrics has always captivated me.

The album was produced by Sascha Paeth and Tobias Sammet and I think they have created something beautiful with this record. Right from the very first track “Ghost In The Moon” the overall sound is so good. The  interweaving of themes, melody and lyrical poetry make this an exciting and interesting listening experience. All of the Avantasia tropes are present, the epic choirs, the fast and furious power metal energy and Sammet’s infectious charisma. His vocals just demand your attention and coupled with the overwhelming orchestral metal sound, every song hits you like a tonne of bricks. Also, this album contains an all-star cast of great metal musicians to accompany Sammet and share the workload. Massive names such as Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian), Mille Petrozza (Kreator), Candice Night (Blackmore’s Night), Geoff Tate (Queensrÿche), Eric Martin (Mr Big) and Michael Kiske (Helloween) all lend the assist to making these songs sound so powerful and making the word larger than life.

Personally, this is one of my favourite Avantasia albums. The hooks are simply massive and I’ve had a tonne of fun just rocking out to these songs. From the soft and tender ballads to the energetic and forceful power-metal songs. I don’t think that Avantasia has ever really sounded this good. The guitars can be punchy or lend to a gentle atmosphere. The keyboard and synths are simply wonderful encompassing the music in an aura of majesty. The bass is tightly locked in with the drums and keeps the rhythm beautifully. All in all, every instrument sounds massive and Paeth and Sammet’s production makes everything sound as good as possible.

This is a flawless album and already up there as one of my favourites of 2019. From the passion and conviction of the performances to the sharp and punchy melodies. This album is just one to listen to over and over again. I mean making great music is just Avantasia’s M.O. at this point, yet, this album goes above and beyond the call of duty and really delivers something special. Exceptional writing and fantastic production carry this album to a pleasing 66 minutes 45 seconds, that I just want to keep listening to as many times as I can.

5/5

Mick Birchall

Fleshgod Apocalypse – King

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 5th February 2016 by Pieni

Fleshgod Apocalypse
“King”
Symphonic/technical death metal
Released: 5th February 2016
Via Nuclear Blast

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The more I listen to Fleshgod Apocalypse, the more I realize that those who say that mixing classical music with death metal is a bad idea, they’re just speaking based on their personal musical taste; in truth, whether you like the outcome or not, such mix is brilliant. The splendor of the former contrasting with the brutality of the latter, but the intensity and overwork that both share? What’s there not to love?

Now that we’re clear on where I stand regarding the genre, it really comes as no surprise how high I’ll praise this “King”. Fleshgod Apocalypse just nailed every aspect of the so-called symphonic/technical death metal. In case you missed the promotional single “The Fool”, go and listen to how those medieval piano keys interweave so fittingly with the shredding rhythm of the rest of the instruments. And then check out the sinister tone of “Cold As Perfection” and “Gravity”. And also the epic symphony of “And The Vulture Beholds” or “A Million Deaths”. Sure, we could live without the operatic “Paramour (Die Leidenshaft Bringt Leiden)”, where Veronica Bordacchini takes the lead, and the instrumental title-track. But both add an exotic touch to the whole package. Saying “King” is Fleshgod Apocalypse’s best album might be debatable, so I’ll settle with “the most consistent”.

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Avantasia – Ghostlights

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , on 29th January 2016 by Pieni

Avantasia
“Ghostlights”
Symphonic power metal
Release: 29th January 2016
Via Nuclear Blast Records

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It seems like yesterday that Tobias Sammet brought the term “metal opera” to a new level but it’s been 15 years already. And he keeps pushing the envelope.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s different from the previous albums, as the symphony-meets-power-metal is still the formula. But somehow the outcome this time is more… elegant.

Even the +12-minute “Let The Sun Descend Upon You” unfolds gracefully, making every minute worthy – I’m not big on lengthy songs, but with this one, time flew. Also, Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids) and Robert Mason (Warrant) brightened up the melody with their hard-rock-vibe vocals.

There’s also a somber and mysterious tone in both “The Haunting” and “Seduction Of Decay”, the first a bit creepy, living up to its title, the latter somewhat Middle-Eastern influenced. They’re both enthralling, the participation, respectively, of Dee Snider (Twisted Sister) and Geoff Tate (Operation: Mindcrime) the sweetest icing for such cakes.
I won’t talk of every guest on this record, but since we’re speaking of perfect fits, this review cannot go without mentioning the amazing job that Herbie Langhans (Beyond The Bridge and Sinbreed) did on “Draconian Love”. His deep voice makes of this track the closest to a goth rock one.

The sadness on the ballad “Isle Of Evermore” is pretty touching, while the happy speed of the title-track will make the day of the power metal fans. Yes, “Ghostlights” is a very thorough album, hitting all the right marks in diversity, style and spirit.

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Amberian Dawn – Magic Forest

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , on 6th July 2014 by mickbirchy

Amberian Dawn
Magic Forest
symphonic / melodic power metal
Released on 30th June 2014
Via Napalm Records

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I have to admit, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the newest album from the Finnish symphonic metallers Amberian Dawn.  I have to admit though, Magic Forest doesn’t play to the average conventions of what I have to expect from this type of band.  This marks the band’s sixth studio album and they have kept a consistent presence over the years – this is the third album in three years, adding to an already impressive back catalogue. However, how does this new album truly hold up?

The album is actually quite subtle in all the elements that comprise it;  everything feels really well composed and the production is tight, everything just blends together from the synth to the vocals. Each layer of the production is working in harmony making this album very pleasant to listen to. Capri’s vocal work is smooth and hauntingly beautiful, and matched with Tuomas Seppälä’s beautiful synth compositions – you can truly feel like you are transported to a magical and enthralling world.  Also the metal elements are quite nice too, the guitar riffs and guitar solos are heavy and grounded, giving this album a heavier darker side.

From opening to closing, the album is tightly packed with beautiful melodies, interesting and creative lyrics and an imaginative atmosphere that keeps your interest.  Songs like Warning, Memorial and the title track Magic Forest keep a great momentum flowing and are really fun to listen to.  I don’t really have any issues with this album, it’s everything it needs to be –  heavy, fun, upbeat, creative, full of imagination.  However it’s also dark, atmospheric and the lyrics are open to some very creative imagery.  If I were to have any problems with this album it would be in the production.  The “metal” elements are not as pronounced as I would like, they only come to life in the instrumental parts.  I feel the vocals just need that bit more of a backing; obviously in the slow songs this is inappropriate, but with the heavy songs I would have liked to hear more power in the guitars and bass giving the vocals that bit extra boost.

Overall, however, this is a very pleasant album to listen to.  I have enjoyed listening to this record.  Is it one of the best of 2014? No. But I still recommend you to pick this record up: it’s one of those albums you may not “get” right away, but it’s well written and quite beautiful.

3.5/5

Mick Birchall

Psychema – The Entry Point

Posted in CD, Metal 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