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Edguy – Space Police: Defenders of the Crown [Review]

edguy-space-police-defenders-of-the-crown-84322

Edguy – Space Police: Defenders of the Crown
2014, Nuclear Blast Records
Buy the album at Amazon.com

1. “Sabre & Torch”
2. “Space Police”
3. “Defenders of the Crown”
4. “Love Tyger”
5. “The Realms of Baba Yaga”
6. “Rock Me Amadeus”
7. “Do Me Like a Caveman”
8. “Shadow Eaters”
9. “Alone in Myself”
10. “The Eternal Wayfarer”
Digital Bonus Tracks:
11. “England”
12. “Aychim in Hysteria”
13. “Space Police (progressive version)”
14. “Space Police (instrumental version)”
15. “Love Tyger (instrumental version)”
16. “Defenders of the Crown (instrumental version)”
17. “Do Me Like a Caveman (instrumental version)”

Band: Tobias Sammet – Lead/Backing vocals, Keyboards
Jens Ludwig – Guitar
Dirk Sauer – Guitar
Tobias “Eggi” Exxel – Bass
Felix Bohnke- Drums

Additional Musicians:
Michael Rodenberg – Keyboards
Oliver Hartmann – Backing Vocals

Producer: Sascha Paeth & Edguy

Much to the dismay of longtime fans, Edguy continues to be an outlet for Tobia Sammet’s silliness and his love for ’80s rock/metal while Avantasia is his more serious metal project. It’s funny because Avantasia started out as a cheesy & cliched power metal side project for Tobias and there was a time when Edguy used to take themselves more seriously.

One of my favorite songs on the album happens to be a bonus track. “Aychim In Hysteria” is a tribute — musically to Def Leppard and lyrically to the band’s live sound in engineer. Edguy’s lyrics have always been full of little in jokes, awkward phrasing and nonsensical words so while I don’t know what the song is about exactly, at least it sounds good!

With regards to the 10-track album, Edguy has delivered one of their best efforts, in my opinion. I know there are plenty of Edguy fans that still pine for their power metal days and maybe they’ll return to that at some point but for now the band seems happy to write silly catchy hard rock/metal songs. It’s almost like they’re becoming a heavier version of The Darkness. I’m fine with that. That’s how Edguy captured my attention in the first place with Rocket Ride. Songs like “Do Me Like a Caveman”, “Love Tyger” and a cover of Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus” won’t win the band any favors with power metal purists but they are fun songs nonetheless.

For my money, the best tracks from the album are the ballad “Alone In Myself” and the headbanging “Shadow Eaters”. With the bonus tracks, “England” is okay but like I said, I think “Alychim In Hysteria” is pretty awesome. As far as the progressive/instrumental versions go–  okay, nice to include but they aren’t essential listening.

Space Police: Defenders of the Crown is a worthy addition to the Edguy catalog. I wouldn’t place it with Rocket Ride but it’s at least on level with Tinnitus Sanctus and I’m enjoying it more than Age of the Joker.

Highlights: “Sabre & Torch”, “Space Police”, “Love Tyger”, “Shadow Eaters”, “Alone In Myself”, “The Eternal Wayfarer”, “Aychim In Hysteria”

Avantasia – The Mystery of Time [Review]

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Avantasia – The Mystery of Time
2013, Nuclear Blast Records
Buy the album

1. “Spectres”
2. “The Watchmakers’ Dream”
3. “Black Orchid”
4. “Where Clock Hands Freeze”
5. “Sleepwalking”
6. “Savior in the Clockwork”
7. “Invoke the Machine”
8. “What’s Left Of Me”
9. “Dweller in a Dream”
10. “The Great Mystery”

Band:
Tobias Sammet – Lead Vocals, Bass
Sascha Paeth – Guitar
Russell Gilbrook – Drums
Miro – Keyboards

Additional Musicians:
Joe Lynn Turner – Lead Vocals
Michael Kiske – Lead Vocals
Biff Byford – Lead Vocals
Ronnie Atkins – Lead Vocals
Eric Martin – Lead Vocals
Bob Catley – Lead Vocals
Cloudy Yang – Lead Vocals
Bruce Kulick – Guitar
Oliver Hartmann – Guitar
Arjen Anthony Lucassen – Guitar
Ferdy Doernberg – Organ

Produced by: Tobias Sammet & Sascha Paeth

Tobias Sammet just does not quit! Between Edguy and Avantasia, he’s constantly recording or touring. He’s the German equivalent of Dave Grohl. Busy, busy, busy!

It seems to be paying off. The Mystery of Time has done very well across Europe and while it didn’t break the Billboard 200 in the United States, it sold well enough in its first week to make Billboard’s Heatseeker and Hard Rock charts.

Thankfully, The Mystery of Time is only a 10-track collection and not a double album effort like when Sammet released The Wicked Symphony and Angel of Babylon simultaneously back in 2010. But don’t worry, there’s enough power metal epics here — “The Great Mystery” and “Savior in the Clockwork” both clock in (no pun intended) at 10 minutes.

Though I included this album in my Top 10 list for 2013, I didn’t get around to really listening to it until the end of the year even though it was released in March of 2013. Boy, I’m sorry I procrastinated. This may be my favorite Avantasia release yet and the presence of the German Film Orchestra Babelsberg only adds to the majestic metal that Avantasia already brings to the table.

Speaking of that orchestra, Edguy used them for their Hellfire Club album. I admit it’s getting harder to tell the difference between Edguy and Avantasia these days. Sammet is the driving force in both bands and they both play power metal. The only real difference is that Edguy seems to have a cheesy sense of humor and Avantasia uses a lot of guest vocalists.

Yeah, definitely should have rated this one higher for 2013. The more I listen to it, the more I like it. Great vocal performances all around, great melodies and songs that you can’t get out of your head. Best Avantasia album yet.

Highlights: “Spectres”, “The Watchmaker’s Dream”, “Sleepwalking”, “Savior in the Clockwork”, “Invoke the Machine”, “What’s Left of Me”, “The Great Mystery”

http://www.tobiassammet.com/
http://www.facebook.com/avantasia/

The Metal Excess Awards: 2010 Edition

I’m really surprised by how many albums I enjoyed this year. I have a pitiful memory so I had to go back through my blog to remind myself what came out this year but I was floored when my Top 10 list was changed to a Top 20 list, then to a Top 30 list! I knocked it back down to a Top 25 list to make it seem a tiny bit more exclusive.

If you haven’t checked out any of these 25 albums, I wholeheartedly recommend you do so. 2010 was an amazing year for rock & metal, much MUCH better than 2009. I don’t see how 2011 can compete!

I’ll keep it short and sweet with my awards. As always, check the links for full reviews.

Best Albums of 2010

1. Avenged Sevenfold – Nightmare
2. Buckcherry – All Night Long
3. Scorpions – Sting in the Tail
4. Halford – Made of Metal
5. Slash – s/t
6. Black Country Communion – s/t
7. Avantasia – Angel of Babylon
8. Avantasia – The Wicked Symphony
9. Accept – Blood of the Nations
10. Hinder – All American Nightmare
11. Jettblack – Get Your Hands Dirty
12. Reckless Love – s/t
13. Bad City – Welcome to the Wasteland
14. Stone Temple Pilots – s/t
15. Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier
16. Krokus – Hoodoo
17. Helloween – 7 Sinners
18. Sister Sin – True Sound of the Underground
19. My Darkest Days – s/t
20. Stereoside – s/t
21. Y&T – Facemelter
22. Danko Jones – Below The Belt
23. Grave Digger – The Clans Will Rise Again
24. Jon Oliva’s Pain – Festival
25. Ratt – Infestation

Top Cover Albums

Seems like every year a few established artists like to cover a few *other* established artists, not to mention all those various tribute albums that small labels will slap together. Well, here’s my official ranking of the three cover albums I bothered to listen to this year. Luckily, all three albums were good fun and I think they all deserve another mention.

1. Jorn – Dio
2. Vince Neil – Tattoos & Tequila
3. Joe Elliott’s Down ‘N’ Outz – My ReGeneration Vol. 1

Top Live Albums

Again, I don’t buy a lot of live albums, but here’s how I rank what I listened to this year.

1. Dio – Dio at Donington UK: Live 1983 & 1987
2. Heaven & Hell – Neon Nights: 30 Years of Heaven & Hell – Live In Europe
3. Megadeth – Rust In Peace Live
4. The Michael Schenker Group – The 30th Anniversary Concert: Live in Tokyo

Top EPs

1. Razorwyre – Coming Out
2. Skull Fist – Heavier Than Metal
3. DesDemon – The Awakening

Most Disappointing Albums

1. Ratt – Infestation
The album was good, don’t get me wrong. It landed at #25 on my Best Of list for Dio’s sake! But… most of the songs had trouble living up to the promise of “Eat Me Up Alive” and “Best Of Me”.

2. Armored Saint – La Raza
A bland album from a band that has done so much better. They seemed to be going through the motions (to which John Bush has basically admitted in regards to himself). Symbol of Salvation this ain’t.

3. White Wizzard – Over The Top
The High Speed GTO EP garnered this group a lot of hype and buzz. We all fell for it, I know reviews for this album have been positive and it’s not bad but I expected more. Hopefully a second album will get these guys where they need to be.

4. Raven – Walk Through Fire
The terrible cover art should’ve tipped me off that this album was nothing special.

 

Check out these other sites for even more lists and year-end awards:

All Metal Resource — http://allmetalresource.com/

Bring Back Glam — http://bringbackglam.squarespace.com/

Hair Metal Mansion — http://hairbangersradio.ning.com/

Hard Rock Hideout — http://hardrockhideout.com/

Hard Rock Nights — http://hardrocknights.wordpress.com/

Heavy Metal Addiction —  http://heavymetaladdiction.com

Heavy Metal Time Machine — http://metalmark.blogspot.com/

Imagine Echoes — http://www.imagineechoes.com/

Layla’s Classic Rock — http://laylasclassicrock.blogspot.com/

The Metal Minute — http://rayvanhornjr.blogspot.com/

Metal Odyssey — http://metalodyssey.wordpress.com/

The Ripple Effect — http://www.ripplemusic.blogspot.com/

 

AVANTASIA – The Wicked Symphony & Angel of Babylon: Deluxe Edition

Avantasia – The Wicked Symphony & Angel of Babylon: Double Album Deluxe Edition [Import] (2010, Nuclear Blast Records)


Disc 1: The Wicked Symphony

1. “The Wicked Symphony” … 9:28
2. “Wastelands” … 4:44
3. “Scales of Justice” … 5:04
4. “Dying for an Angel” … 4:32
5. “Blizzard On a Broken Mirror” … 6:07
6. “Runaway Train” … 8:42
7. “Crestfallen” … 4:02
8. “Forever is a Long Time” … 5:05
9. “Black Wings” … 4:37
10. “States of Matter” … 3:57
11. “The Edge” … 4:12

Highlights: “The Wicked Symphony”, “Scales of Justice”, “Dying for an Angel”, “Blizzard On A Broken Mirror”, “Runaway Train”, “Crestfallen”


Disc 2: Angel of Babylon

1. “Stargazers” … 9:33
2. “Angel of Babylon” … 5:29
3. “Your Love is Evil” … 3:53
4. “Death is Just a Feeling” … 5:21
5. “Rat Race” … 4:07
6. “Down in the Dark” … 4:23
7. “Blowing Out the Flame” … 4:51
8. “Symphony of Life” … 4:30
9. “Alone I Remember” … 4:48
10. “Promised Land” … 4:47
11. “Journey to Arcadia” … 7:12

Highlights: “Stargazers”, “Death Is Just A Feeling”, “Rat Race”, “Blowing Out The Flame”, “Symphony Of Life”, “Alone I Remember”, “Promised Land”

Musicians:
Tobias Sammet – Lead Vocals, Bass
Russell Allen, Jorn Lande, Michael Kiske, Tim “Ripper” Owens, Klaus Meine, Andre Matos, Bob Catley, Ralf Zdiarstek, Jon Oliva, Cloudy Yang, Oliver Hartmann – Guest Vocals
Sascha Paeth, Bruce Kulick, Oliver Hartmann, Henjo Richter – Guitar
Miro Rodenberg – Keyboards, Orchestration
Sascha Paeth, Jens Johansson – Keyboards
Simon Oberrender – Organ
Felix Bohnke, Alex Holzwarth, Eric Singer – Drums

Producer: Sascha Paeth & Tobias Sammet

An epic collection featuring two epic albums! This deluxe edition collects both of Avantasia’s 2010 releases plus features a fairly lengthy booklet full of pictures and notes on the making of the albums. This time, instead of pure laziness, I actually had a good reason for not reviewing this set when I initially planned… it was just too much to absorb at once!

For some strange reason, unlike The Wicked Symphony, Angel of Babylon has not been released as a single disc in the United States although it is available as an import. I bought this collection on Amazon shortly after the street date because it turned out it was cheaper than having to order both albums separately because Angel of Babylon‘s import price was ridiculous at the time. This collection itself is actually an import (some of the text of my particular copy’s cellophane wrap was in Spanish) and it was retailing for $60-70 at most online shops when I first looked. YIKES!!! There are some very good deals to be found for it in Amazon’s Marketplace though, that’s how I got my copy and only paid$27 for it.

The very first thing I think of when I think of Avantasia are the amazing vocals that are always involved. Of course there’s Tobias Sammet, who is one of my favorite metal vocalists but Jorn Lande, Michael Kiske and Russell Allen shine on both albums just as they did on The Scarecrow. Jorn is featured on so many of these songs he might as well be considered a full-time member of Avantasia alongside Tobias. A Sammet/Lande album, anyone? And that’s not all! Klaus Meine, Tim “Ripper” Owens and Jon Oliva make appearances as well.

To this day I still have not heard the first two Avantasia albums. Some have complained that Tobias has taken the music in a slightly different direction, which is his prerogative since Avantasia is a side-project and a labor of love after all. Actually… Now that I think about it, if anything, I think Avantasia has become a bigger focus for Tobias than Edguy has been lately. Even so, the line has been blurred and both groups are becoming a bit interchangeable in sound. Not that I’m complaining, I like the direction both bands are headed in: great melodies, huge fantastic vocals, big drums, a bit of pop music, some ’80s hard rock, catchy choruses. Not many can do melodic power metal better than this.

I leaned towards The Wicked Symphony when I first bought this collection but after giving both albums many spins, I think I like Angel of Babylon better. There’s really no filler on that album at all. Either way, both are better than The Scarecrow (which I liked) and are two of 2010’s better albums!

Songs That Give Me Chills

Obviously, anyone who enjoys listening to music is going to have hundreds and hundreds of songs that would say they “love”. Some songs strike an even more special chord with me though. Yes, that’s right. There are some songs that seem to inspire something within me WHENEVER I hear them. Songs that quite literally send a chill down my spine by their awesomeness. Off the top of my head, here’s a handful:

Avantasia – “The Scarecrow” (The Scarecrow)

One of the most epic metal songs of all time. The vocals are outstanding and I really enjoy the Celtic rock vibe of it. I can see this having a really cool set up on a live stage.

L.A. Guns – “OK, Let’s Roll” (Waking The Dead)

With lyrics written about the events of United Airlines Flight 93 from 9/11, this one really gets to me:

Skies of Pennsylvania became a battle ground
Two hundred miles away, the towers had come down
One last chance to say goodbye, he called her on his phone
Said he knew what must be done, “I am not coming home.”

Are you ready, okay, let’s roll

KISS – “Love Gun” (Love Gun)

One of KISS’ finest songs, I’ve loved it since I first heard it and thankfully I can now die saying I’ve seen them play it live. I’ll never forget seeing Paul zip-line over the crowd on the way to his platform as the intro played out. Picked a live version from 2005 just for something different.

KISS – “Modern Day Delilah” (Sonic Boom)

My favorite track off Sonic Boom. It’s a KISS classic with a mix of Zeppelin thrown in. Love the lyrics.

KISS – “I’m An Animal” (Sonic Boom)

Another instant classic from Sonic Boom and easily the best Gene song from the album. They’ve started playing this one live, too bad I caught them on the very first show on their previous tour, so they hadn’t added it to the set list yet!

Guns ‘N Roses – “Madagascar” (Chinese Democracy)

Chinese Democracy is one of my favorite albums of all-time and this one of the best songs on the album (and that’s saying something).

Aren’t there more? Of course but we’ll get those on a later date…

Upcoming Reviews

I feel like I’ve finally made some progress on recent releases I had been procrastinating on reviewing but the music never stops so still I soldier on! Here’s more recent releases that I’m hoping to have reviewed over the course of the next week:

Gallows End – Nemesis Divine
Avantasia – The Wicked Symphony & Angel of Babylon
Raven – Walk Through Fire (somewhat new, finally got released in the U.S. a few months back)
Fallen Angel – Crawling Out of Hell

Upcoming Reviews

Albums are piling up again! Here’s what I’m planning on reviewing by next weekend:

Nonpoint – Miracle
Pretty Maids – Pandemonium
Avantasia – The Wicked Symphony & Angel of Babylon: Double Album Deluxe Edition
Alexx Calise – In Avanti (finally?)

All of this in addition to my usual personal collection reviews and maybe a few other recent releases depending on what I have time for! I bought a bunch of Deep Purple albums and have listened to a few but there’s enough to have a ‘Deep Purple Week’ so I’m thinking I may do that sometime in the coming weeks. I’ll possibly do a Whitesnake week too in the near future. I’ve been on a big Whitesnake kick lately.

Looking Forward to in 2010…

2009 was good, can 2010 be better? With these albums penciled in for 2010 it looks like we’ll have another good year for rock ‘n’ roll because there’s tons I’m looking forward to! I’ve listed tentative release dates where I could.

Ratt – Infestation (March): Ratt is one of the best bands to spring from the L.A. metal scene, I can’t wait to hear some new music from that.

Scorpions – Sting In The Tail: Well, hopefully we’ll see some new Scorpions. They haven’t gotten a U.S. distribution deal yet, but in this day of the internet, I don’t foresee any problems getting my hands on an import. According to the band, they’re going back to their “early ’80s” sound and scrapping the modern style they had on Humanity: Hour I. That’s a shame because I remember Klaus Meine being pretty adamant about the band not writing anymore “eighties” songs and I like Humanity a lot (which seemed to imply there’d be a sequel). Oh well, I liked 2004’s Unbreakable a lot too (the band’s most recent attempt at having that classic Scorpions sound), so either style they want is good with me.

Avantasia – The Wicked Symphony & Angel of Babylon (April 3): Edguy’s Tobias Sammet, one of my favorite vocalists, is back with his side project and he’s got two albums coming at us at once on the same day. The Scarecrow was really good and Sammet has tons of guest musicians lined up again, I just hope he hasn’t spread himself too thin by releasing two albums’ worth of material.

Read the rest of this entry

The Top Ten Albums of 2008 (#6-10)

2008 has been a phenomenal year in the rock & metal world. Legends returned with a vengeance and were met with  praise and success (AC/DC, Metallica, Motley Crue) and other legends returned to be met with confusion and/or slower than expected sales (Judas Priest, Guns N’ Roses). There were a few surprises, and a few disappointment as well. Today, we take a look at #6-10, tomorrow #1-5.

6. Motley Crue – Saints of Los Angeles

The Crue really upped their game with this release. After hearing the new songs from Red, White and Crue, I was excited to hear a full new albums from these guys and they delivered. The title track is a killer Crue song and stands with all of the classics in their catalog. It also debuted with respectable sales and was supported by the fun and successful Crue Fest tour.

7. SteelHeart – Good 2B Alive

Out of nowhere, SteelHeart delivers in 2008! I was blown away by how good this album was. SteelHeart’s never been a bad band, so I didn’t expect anything horrible, but who knew modern hard rock and the 80s melodic hard rock sound could be fused together so perfectly? Milijenko Matijevic’s voice is STILL one of the most powerful in rock. Shame not many people seemed to notice this album when it came out. Many tracks were worthy of radio play.

8. Judas Priest – Nostradamus

I’ll admit, I was a bit disappointed by this album (though not as much as others) when it first came out. Concept albums don’t do much for me in general, but after giving the album a few closer listens, it’s really grown on me. It’s still bloated, overproduced and has way too much filler in the form of instrumentals, but underneath all of that, between those two discs, is a very good Priest album.

9. Buckcherry – Black Butterfly

Another album that took me by surprise. I’ve always been a fan of the idea and image of Buckcherry more than the music itself, but Black Butterfly has definitely proven the band’s worthiness to me. From top the bottom, the album is enjoyable and the band has begun to broaden their tastes a bit. This album seems to have failed to replicate the success of their last album, 15, which is a shame because it’s superior in nearly every way.

10. Various Artists – We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year

Seriously. Who woulda thunk an indie release full of heavy metal takes on Christmas songs would be good, let alone great? I absolutely love this album and I know I’ll be playing it for years to come. I almost feel a bit guilty for ranking it above some of the honorable mentions, but when I’m having this much fun listening to an album, I can’t worry about that!

Honorable Mentions. A couple of albums that were very good, but as whole, didn’t receive as many listens and weren’t as consistent. Not bad albums by any means, all are worth picking up, but they just lacked that extra something to warrant a Top 10 spot.

Tesla – Forever More

A solid effort, but just didn’t come close to Into the Now for me.

Journey – Revelation

This was actually another nice surprise, but as good as it was, I’m a hard rock guy at heart, not an AOR guy.

Avantasia – The Scarecrow

Avantasia started off 2008 in a great way, and it almost made the list, but I my interests wanes listening to nothing but an album full of power metal. That’s why Edguy made the list and this album didn’t.

Extreme – Saudades de Rock

Really strong record that featured one of my favorite songs of the year (“King of the Ladies”). A bit too slow at times to get into the Top 10 though.

Stop by tomorrow as I present numbers 1-5 of 2008! And be sure to check out these fine sites for even more best of ’08 lists:

All Metal Resource
Bring Back Glam
Hard Rock Hideout
Hair Metal Mansion
Heavy Metal Addiction
Heavy Metal Time Machine
Imagine Echoes
Layla’s Classic Rock
The Metal Minute
The Ripple Effect
Rock And Roll and Meandering Nonsense
Rock Of Ages

EDGUY – Tinnitus Sanctus

Edguy – Tinnitus Sanctus [Import] (2008, Nuclear Blast Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Ministry of Saints” … 5:05
2. “Sex Fire Religion” … 5:55
3. “The Pride of Creation” … 5:30
4. “Nine Lives” … 4:26
5. “Wake Up Dreaming Black” … 4:04
6. “Dragonfly” … 4:56
7. “Thorn Without a Rose” … 4:44
8. “9-2-9” … 3:47
9. “Speedhoven” … 7:40
10. “Dead or Rock” … 4:57
11. “Aren’t You a Little Pervert Too?!” … 2:18

Band:
Tobias Sammet – Vocals
Jens Ludwig – Guitar
Dirk Sauer – Guitar
Tobias “Eggi” Exxel – Bass
Felix Bohnke – Drums

Produced by: Sascha Paeth

I got my hands on an import version of this album (released in November) though it won’t see a US release until January 2009. Ah, the wonders of eBay. There’s rumblings of a Edguy backlash, at least over here in the States. They “sold out”, “turned their back on metal”, whatever. Usual gripes when an artist tries to expand their sound. Personally, I don’t think Edguy has ever been better. Yes, I enjoy their power metal very much, but I think their hard rock/80s metal sound is even better.

I got hooked on the band with Rocket Ride, and if you liked that album, you’ll like this one as well. If you didn’t like Rocket Ride, don’t even bother with Tinnitus Sanctus because the power metal element is even more removed (though still there on songs like “Dragonfly” and “Speedhoven”). I might even go as far to say this even better than Rocket Ride, which had one or two filler songs. Tobias Sammet says this is the band’s greatest album and the album he thinks and hopes they’ll be remembered for. While I like to think each future Edguy release will get better and better, he may be right about it being their best at this time.

I especially enjoy “Sex Fire Religion”, which is extremely catchy and my favorite song from the album. “Dead or Rock” is another standout that adds element of sleazy blues rock, but still the typical booming vocals of Tobias.

The only track which I don’t enjoy is “Aren’t You A Little Pervert Too?!”. I know it’s a “joke” song, but I just don’t think it’s funny. I’d rather another track that didn’t make the final track listing had replaced it.

Highlights: “Ministry of Saints”, Sex Fire Religion”, “The Pride of Creation”, “Wake Up Dreaming Black”, “Dragonfly”, “9-2-9”, “Dead or Rock”

www.edguy.net
www.myspace.com/edguy

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