Blog Archives

Avantasia – The Mystery of Time [Review]

Themysteryoftimecover

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/

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Upon the Winter Solstice [Review]

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Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Upon the Winter Solstice
2013, Atlantic Records/Rhino Custom Products

1. A Mad Russian’s Christmas
2. Promises to Keep
3. The Christmas Day
4. First Snow
5. Midnight Christmas Eve
6. Dream Child (A Christmas Dream)
7. Music Box Blues
8. The Snow Came Down
9. Faith Noel
10. Remember
11. What Child Is This?
12. Wish Liszt (Toy Shop Madness)

Upon the Winter Solstice is a compilation album that was released exclusively at Kohl’s Department Stores during the 2013 holiday season. 100% of the proceeds go to the Kohl’s Cares charity to support kids’ health and education. Copies can be bought here and for only $5, you can’t go wrong by purchasing some TSO music while helping out a charity.

This is not to be confused with the recently released Tales of Winter: Selections from the TSO Rock Operas compilation which covers all five TSO albums and one EP. So far, that’s an album that’s only been released in Europe anyway. Upon the Winter Solstice focuses solely on the group’s first three Christmas releases (known as the Christmas Trilogy): Christmas Eve and Other StoriesThe Christmas Attic and The Lost Christmas. Each album is represented with four songs.

Some of the band’s most famous tracks like “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24” and “Christmas Canon” are not included but you still get fantastic numbers such as “A Mad Russian’s Christmas” (one of my favorite TSO tracks), “First Snow”, “What Child Is This?” and “Wish Liszt (Toy Shop Madness)”.

If you’re not familiar with Trans-Siberian Orchestra, this is a great way to get introduced to them while doing some good in the process. This is also a great pick up for someone such as myself who doesn’t (yet) own their first three Christmas albums.

www.trans-siberian.com
www.facebook.com/TSO

Van Helsing’s Curse – Oculus Infernum [Review]

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Van Helsing’s Curse – Oculus Infernum: A Halloween Tale
2003, Koch Records
Buy the album at Amazon.com

1. Patience (Introduction)
2. Tubular Hell
3. All Fall Down
4. Let Me Prey
5. The Child
6. The Tortured Soul
7. Revenge
8. War
9. Let the Pain Begin
10. The Curse

Producer:Joe Franco

Van Helsing’s Curse was a side project put together by Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider. The idea was Trans-Siberian Orchestra meets Halloween. On that front, Dee has succeeded. Oculus Infernum is a great collection of symphonic metal with just enough of a dark, spooky vibe that you can throw it on as background music to get yourself in the Halloween mood.

The project was meant to be so much more than that though. Snider envisioned the group touring every October. I know they’ve did a few live shows but I’m not sure whether they ever toured annually. The year that this album was released, the music was licensed out to a Six Flags theme park in New Jersey as the soundtrack to that year’s “Fright Fest”.

Though TSO occasionally features lead vocalists, there is none of that here. Dee Snider narrates a few tracks and there might be some choir chantings going on here or there, but the music is mostly all instrumental. What’s surprising is that the music is well put together. If I went into this blind, I would’ve thought it was Trans-Siberian Orchestra had started writing darker music.

I suppose that’s because TSO guitarist Al Pitrelli is involved with this project. One Amazon.com review states he co-wrote the album with Dee. I can’t find any confirmation he played on this album but I’m leaning towards ‘yes’ (he did play the live shows at least).

If you like TSO and you like Halloween, you will like Oculus Infernum. I hope some day we’ll get new music from this group because it’s a really cool idea.

www.vanhelsingscurse.com

Queensryche – Queensryche [Review]

Queensryche-Queensryche

Queensryche
2013, Century Media Records

1. “X2”
2. “Where Dreams Go to Die”
3. “Spore”
4. “In This Light”
5. “Redemption”
6. “Vindication”
7. “Midnight Lullaby”
8. “A World Without”
9. “Don’t Look Back”
10. “Fallout”
11. “Open Road”

Band:
Todd La Torre – Lead Vocals
Michael Wilton – Guitar
Parker Lundgren – Guitar
Eddie Jackson – Bass, Backing Vocals
Scott Rockenfield – Drums, Percussion

Produced by James Barton

Well, I’ve already reviewed TateRyche, I figured I had to give ToddRyche a shot as well! Equal time and all that jazz. As I’ve mentioned before, Queensryche has never been a favorite of mine. I never disliked them, they’ve certainly recorded some very cool songs over the years, but when I bought Operation: Mindcrime I felt that was enough for me. Funny that with the feud, I’m more interested in Queensryche than I ever have been!

I think part of what has helped me enjoy this album so much is that it’s barely 30 minutes long! “X2” and “Midnight Lullaby” are instrumentals that clock in around a minute a piece. I wonder if songwriting/recording for this album was cut short in order to get it out quicker to “compete” with Geoff Tate’s Frequency Unknown. It doesn’t matter. While it’s rare to see these days, I actually think an album that comes in around a half hour is pretty refreshing, especially when I seem to be getting busier and busier!

As for the album, it’s good stuff. Todd La Torre’s vocals are very similar to Geoff Tate but just different enough and the band is full of energy and doesn’t get weighted down by the bore ‘n’ chore of what progressive rock can sometimes be. The major difference between this album and Tate’s is that this one completely embraces the classic Queensryche sound. “A World Without” sounds like something Queensryche did years ago, and I mean that in a good way.

There’s really no attempt at creating a modern hard rock song. It’s just Queensryche being Queensryche with a singer that is perhaps better-suited to sing in this style than Geoff Tate is these days. Frequency Unknown isn’t a bad album, but this self-titled release by his ex-band mates is better. The REAL Queensryche sounds completely re-energized.

Highlights: “Where Dreams Go to Die”, “Spore”, “Redemption”, “A World Without”, “Don’t Look Back”

http://www.queensrycheofficial.com
http://www.facebook.com/QueensrycheOfficial

Buy the album at Amazon.com

Queensryche – Frequency Unknown [Review]

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Queensryche – Frequency Unknown
2013, Cleopatra Records/Deadline Music

1. “Cold”
2. “Dare”
3. “Give It to You”
4. “Slave”
5. “In the Hands of God”
6. “Running Backwards”
7. “Life Without You”
8. “Everything”
9. “Fallen”
10. “The Weight of the World”
11. “I Don’t Believe in Love”
12. “Empire”
13. “Jet City Woman”
14. “Silent Lucidity”

Band:
Geoff Tate – Lead Vocals
Kelly Gray – Guitar (solo on Track 1)
Robert Sarzo – Guitar (solo on Track 3)
Rudy Sarzo – Bass (Tracks 1, 5, and 9)
Simon Wright – Drums (Tracks 1 and 5)
Randy Gane – Keyboards (Tracks 1, 5–6, and 8–10), Bass (Track 10)

Additional Musicians:
Craig Locicero – Guitar (Tracks 1–10)
Jason Slater – Bass (Tracks 2–4, and 6–8), Keyboards (Tracks 7–8)
Martín Irigoyen – Guitar, Bass, Drums (Tracks 11–14)
Paul Bostaph – Drums (Tracks 6–9)
Evan Bautista – Drums (Tracks 2–4, and 10)
Jason Slater – Theremin (solo on Track 2)
Chris Cannella – Guitar (solo on Track 4)
Ty Tabor – Guitar (solo on Tracks 5 and 8)
K.K. Downing – Guitar (solo on Track 6)
Brad Gillis – Guitar (solo on Track 7)
Dave Meniketti – Guitar (solo on Track 9)
Chris Poland – Guitar (solo on Track 10)

Producer: Jason Slater

Even though I’ve always considered the band to be one of the more bland and boring rock/metal outfits out there, the story of Queensryche has become quite interesting over the last year. I’m certain more people are discussing Queensryche now more than they have in probably 10, 15 or 20 years. I know I am. If you want a good overview of what’s been happening and why there are two groups claiming to be Queensryche, check out this excellent article (which has been spotlighted and given the stamp of approval by the La Torre version of the band).

Well, as the world continues to wait for the Todd La Torre version of Queensryche to release their album, the Geoff Tate line-up has released their own album. Geoff Tate is probably one of the least popular guys in the world of rock & metal right now, so it’s no surprise the bashing started as soon as sound clips were released. But rightfully so. The production was pretty bad on the preview clips that were released. Some of those issues seem to have been corrected now that the album has been released but Cleopatra Records is now offering to send an even more recently remixed copy of the album to anyone to can provide them with proof of purchase of Frequency Unknown. They made this announcement just weeks after the album hit the shelves. It’s a head-scratcher. Why the label didn’t just wait and release a properly remixed album, I don’t know.

And just take a look at the limited involvement of the “band” and the long list of additional musicians. It’s a guitar solo-bonanza! They might as well be called “Geoff Tate’s Queensryche” or maybe “The Geoff Tate Group”, “Geoff Tate & Friends” or “Just Geoff”. There’s really no “band” here at all. The making of this album looks like a revolving door of musicians. Heck, this version of the band has already lost Glen Drover and Bobby Blotzer (they only participated in live shows before splitting)!

Okay, enough nitpicking. It’s the music that matters, right? Well, despite never really having any preference towards anything Queensryche and despite the fact that I agree Tate comes off like an arrogant jerk, this album is actually decent. I know Dedicated to Chaos tried to go some weird rock/pop/dance/whatever route and the band was properly trashed for doing so but Tate doesn’t go that route with the not-so-subtly titled Frequency Unknown (come on, it’s FU with a big fist coming at you on the cover… a message to Tate-haters and former band mates I’m sure). No, Frequency Unknown is a hard rock album with a modern sound. I’m okay with that. I think no matter what, Tate was going to lose. He’s getting bashed for sounding modern but if he tried to make an album with the classic Queensryche sound he would’ve gotten bashed for that as well. The closest he comes to his days of old is with “In the Hands of God” and “The Weight of the World”, I think.

“Cold” is a great modern sounding hard rock song. When it first became available, I wanted to be able to laugh at how bad it was and then continue on with my day, but it’s become one of my favorite songs of the year. I can’t stop playing it. Other songs like “Life Without You” and “Everything” remain highlights for me.

The only thing that truly weighs the album down are the four re-recording of a few Queensryche classics that are tacked on at the end. Tate has pointblank said he re-recorded them for the money because the label wanted these songs for licensing purposes. It’s only Tate and Martin Irigoyen on these songs. The sore spot here is Geoff’s voice. He sounds fine on the FU material, never going out of his weakening range but he just can’t hit the notes on these older songs. The music sounds fine to my casual Queensryche listening ears but I’ve read other reviews of die-hards picking apart Irigoyen’s musicianship. The production definitely lacking on these four songs.

Overall, Frequency Unknown had the recipe for a true disaster but Tate and his army of musicians pulled through and delivered a solid modern hard rock album. Just don’t expect much from the re-recordings.

Highlights: “Cold”, “Give It to You”, “In the Hands of God”, “Life Without You”, “Everything”, “The Weight of the World”

http://www.queensryche.com/
http://www.facebook.com/Queensryche

Buy the album at Amazon.com

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Dreams of Fireflies (On a Christmas Night) [Review]

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Dreams of Fireflies (On a Christmas Night)
2012, Universal Republic Records

1. Winter Palace
2. Dreams of Fireflies (On a Christmas Night)
3. I Had A Memory
4. Someday
5. Time You Should Be Sleeping

Though TSO has remained a popular and thriving annual holiday season touring group since their inception, it’s been 8 years since they’ve released any new holiday music (their last release, Night Castle, featured their usual brand of symphonic/progressive rock but was a concept album that had nothing to do with Christmas).

As has become standard with TSO, I find myself enjoying the instrumentals much more than I do the songs with vocals. TSO always uses great singers but sometimes I feel like the vocals just make the songs way too pompous for their own good. So, it’s no surprise that my two favorite tracks on the album are the two instrumentals: “Winter Palace” and “Dreams of Fireflies (On a Christmas Night)”. They are classic TSO songs. Great, heavy and upbeat Christmas tunes.

The remaining three tracks are the typical somber and sentimental ballads that TSO (over)fill their albums & live shows with. Decent tracks but as I’ve said, it’s the instrumentals where TSO really gets to flex their metal muscles. I recommend this EP for all TSO fans and fans of Christmas music in general. I’m hoping this is just a holdover to help promote the group’s 2012 winter tour and that a full album of Christmas music will be coming in 2013.

Having seen TSO twice (during their 2009 winter tour and again for their Beethoven’s Last Night 2011 tour), I was hoping they would be hitting my area again this year but no such luck.

Highlights: “Winter Palace”, “Dreams of Fireflies (On a Christmas Night)”

www.trans-siberian.com
www.facebook.com/TSO

Buy the album at Amazon.com

the Blame – Born

the Blame – Born (2011, self-released)

1. Another Stolen Life … 4:07
2. Guiding Light … 4:17
3. The Scarab … 4:34
4. Valley of Trade … 4:31
5. Lost in a Rabbit-Hole … 4:25
6. Beyond the Wind … 3:57
7. Deserted Nation … 4:59
8. Fading Day … 4:08
9. Sacred Souls … 3:25
10. Exile … 4:17
11. Made of Stone … 3:39

Band:
Enver C. Yılmaz – Vocals
Bahadır Sarp – Lead Guitar
Kaan Afacan – Rhythm Guitar
Onur Altınay – Bass / Fretless Bass
Berca B. Kantarcıoğlu – Drums

Born is the debut album from Istanbul’s the Blame. The band has a great assortment of influences such as Iron Maiden, Dio, Black Sabbath, Rush, Edguy, Rage, Testament and Nevermore. As such, this album is kind of a mash-up of heavy/thrash/melodic/progressive metal.

Lead vocalist Enver sings in a few different styles on the album. On “Guiding Light” he comes across as what the typical modern metal vocalist sounds like but on “The Scarab” he comes across as Bruce Dickinson or Edguy’s Tobias Sammet and then goes on to employ some growling metal vocals in the very same song!

It’s the fast & furious thrashers such as “Beyond the Wind” where the band really displays their powers though. The entire band is great and Berca’s drumming in exceptional. It’s in these fast pace environments that Enver’s vocals really shine best as well when he hits those higher notes. “Exile” is a great instrumental that brings to mind ’80s Metallica and this band is worth checking out for that song alone (no offense to Enver!). The album closes with the thrasher “Made of Stone” which again shows off the Maiden influence in terms of sound & vocals (even if there is still some more growling thrown in).

Born is a solid debut from these guys. Not a knockout punch but there are some gems to be found here and the band definitely has a future that has me thinking they might be better off focusing on the Maiden & thrash influence rather than bands like Rush & Nevermore. Of course, progressive metal has never really been my thing in general. I’m surprised these guys aren’t signed because they are a band that I think could easily fit on the Metal Blade label.

If you’re interested in checking this album out, you can head on over to the band’s website and download it for free (and make a donation to the band as you do it, if you’re feeling generous).

Highlights: “Guiding Light”, “The Scarab”, “Beyond the Wind”, “Exile”, “Made of Stone”

http://www.theblamemetal.com/
http://www.facebook.com/theblame
http://www.youtube.com/user/theblamemetal

Looking Forward to in 2012…

2012 is shaping up to be another spectacular year for rock music. This is a year that is going to see releases from KISS, Judas Priest, Aerosmith, Van Halen and Black Sabbath. WHAT YEAR IS THIS ?!?

In no particular order, here’s what I’m definitely picking up in 2o12:

AcceptStalingrad (April)
Accept really blew me away with Blood of the Nations. The band has proven there is life without Udo. In fact, I think many people would prefer the current line-up over the classic Accept roster at this point.

Crazy Lixx – Riot Avenue (April)
These solid modern glam-metallers are currently in the studio working on their 3rd album.

KISS – Monster (Spring)
Obviously, this is the album I’m looking forward to most. Sonic Boom was a triumphant return to the studio for these guys, now that the wheels are well-oiled, I think Monster has potential to be even better.

SunstormEmotional Fire (February)
I missed out on the last Sunstorm despite good reviews. In the past year I’ve come to appreciate AOR/melodic rock more so I think I’m going to try out this Joe Lynn Turner-fronted side project when it’s released.

Crashdiet
No date yet set by these sleaze rockers but they are supposedly in the writing process now. I’m guessing sometime in the Fall.

Black Sabbath (Fall/Winter)
Another highly anticipated album for me because I’m really curious what it’s going to sound like. I’m not a big Ozzy fan, either as a solo artist or in Sabbath. I’d much rather see Iommi w/ Geezer go on to new projects (Iommi needs to give Tony Martin another call) but I still will be pre-ordering this one. My expectations aren’t all that high though given who is singing. I feel like he and Sharon are going to bring everyone else down to his mediocre level. Still, it’s exciting to know that new Iommi riffs and solos are coming.

Aerosmith (May)
So much prima donna drama in this camp over the last 5 years or so but hopefully that’s gone long enough to give us a new album. Granted,  I don’t really expect much from these guys in terms of, well… anything anymore. They’re kind of a joke at this point but with the legendary Jack Douglas back on as producer, I have no doubts that he’ll drag something out of them that’s better than the last studio album (2001’s Just Push Play).

Van Halen (February 7)
Geez, it was starting to look like the new Chinese Democracy, wasn’t it? No album title has been released yet but a release date has been and the first single will be released on January 10. Van Halen is another band that has become a joke over the years (despite the last tour getting rave reviews) but I have a good feeling about this album. The first album with Roth since 1984 and 1984! Rumored titles have been The Future and 2012 but I don’t think either will turn out to be true. Maybe IV though..?

Judas Priest
The band hasn’t definitely said a new album is coming in 2012 but they’ve been working on new material for a while now and seem to be looking at 2012 for releasing it. It’s a different songwriting dynamic now though. Instead of Halford/Downing/Tipton, it’s just Halford/Tipton. By all accounts, new guitarist Richie Faulkner is carrying his weight in a live setting so I think the album is going to turn out quite good. I do think it’s time the band delivers a straight ahead metal album though. Angel of Retribution and Nostradamus were good but not excellent. The band really hasn’t given the world that kick-ass classic metal album that they should’ve already done since Halford has come back. They really need a PainkillerHell Bent for Leather or British Steel at this point and keep it simple.

Primal Fear – Unbreakable (late January)
I have heard this album. It’s good. Plan on reviewing it soon.

Mollo/Martin – The Third Cage (late January)
See above. It’s great to have a new album out with Tony Martin on vocals.

Buckcherry
Maybe wishful thinking on my part but they were working on new material this past summer so hopefully something new will appear by next summer.

The Last Vegas The Other Side
No date announced yet but they recently released the free digital Other Side E.P. so I’d imagine we’ll have the new album by the spring.

Slash
His first solo album was one of the best records from the last few years and this time, Myles Kennedy is singing all the songs. Everything is written, all that’s left to do is record the songs so I’m guessing spring for this one as well.

Trans-Siberian OrchestraRomanov: What Kings Must Whisper
The second non-holiday from TSO, it was actually planned to be their first album way back in 1994 but they held on it while trying to get a Broadway musical out of it first. Night Castle was dark and cool while still keeping that trademark blend of metal, rock and classical music, I expect more of the same here.

Dokken
With a deal in place with Frontiers Records for the new album, I’m expecting something special despite never being a huge Dokken fan. Lightning Strikes Again was good enough for me to be interested in a follow-up. The plan, as of this past November, was to have recording completed by February.

Stryper
This album was actually delayed from this past year in favor of recording and releasing the excellent The Covering album of cover songs. According to Michael Sweet, two albums are in the works: the first will be an album of re-recordings (Why? Can we stop this trend, please?)  followed by an album of all-new material written in the same heavy, edgy vein as “God” from The Covering.

M-Pire of Evil
M-Pire of Evil is the renamed Primevil which itself was the reunited late ’80s/early ’90s line-up of Venom that featured Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan on vocals/bass . I’m not well-versed on the comings and goings of the Venom roster but the “classic” line-up is split into two different bands right now. Conrad “Cronos” Lant is leading Venom with a few newer guys while the other two “classic” members (Jeff “Mantas” Dunn & Anthony “Abaddon” Bray) have hooked up again with Dolan for M-Pire of Evil.

They released an EP this past summer called The Creatures of the Black, which was pretty good and I liked the Prime Evil album (the only Venom release I’ve heard from this line-up) so I’m looking forward to a full length album. I couldn’t find anything resembling a release date but going by the band’s Facebook page, it should be soon because they’ve been teasing releasing the album cover.

Tooth And Nail (March)
The band that features 3/4 of the classic Dokken line-up. How does “Wild” Mick Brown still retain a position in Dokken while joining Tooth And Nail? Given Don Dokken’s reputation, you’d think he’d have been fired from Dokken by now. I mean, this band was named after a Dokken album and they’ve gloated over the fact that Don Dokken isn’t in the group (bassist Jeff Pilson will handle vocals). What’s weird is that on the band’s Facebook page, they list current Whitesnake drummer Brian Tichy as a member as well… I guess he’s there for the live shows in case Brown has to go off and play in Dokken?

I’m probably forgetting a few more albums but oh well!

Savage Messiah – Plague of Conscience

Savage Messiah – Plague of Conscience (2011, Earache Records)

1. “Plague of Conscience” … 5:31
2. “Six Feet Under the Gun” … 5:01
3. “Carnival of Souls” … 6:02
4. “In Thought Alone” … 4:36
5. “All Seeing I” … 05:09
6. “Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt” … 4:09
7. “Architects of Fear” … 5:14
8. “The Accuser” … 4:04
9. “Shadowbound” … 4:50
10. “The Mask of Anarchy” … 8:37

Band:
Dave Silver – Vocals, Guitar
Joff Bailey – Guitar
Stefano Selvatico – Bass
Mauricio Chamucero – Drums

Producer: Scott Atkins

Savage Messiah are a band I knew absolutely nothing about until I watched  music journalist Dom Lawson’s “Iron Sandwich” video review for Plague of Conscience. He gave it a lot of high praise so I figured since the album is currently free to download I’d be a fool to not sample it.

This is the band’s third release and it’s apparent I’ve been missing out on this slice of British steel. I don’t know how this album compares to previous releases, but I’ve seen some places present Savage Messiah as a (retro) thrash metal band but they aren’t that at all. Thrash is just a portion of their sound, they are also equal parts power, speed, melodic and progressive.  In short, they are HEAVY METAL. They don’t dance anywhere near the extreme side of metal (like Slayer) and the vocals of Dave Silver are clean & extraordinary. I don’t even get much of a retro vibe from them but they are certainly going to appeal to that community of old school fans because you can hear a bit of Priest, Maiden and Megadeth.

Plague of Conscience has been made available as a FREE download over at Earache Records’ website, so download it while you can. I’d also like to point out that the download comes complete with artwork for the album cover, booklet (with lyrics) and back cover. The artwork throughout is just beautiful. A CD edition of the album will be hitting shelves (and distros) in January 2012.

Granted, you shouldn’t take something just because it’s free but in the case of Plague of Conscience, Savage Messiah & Earache Records have given the public one hell of a deal and now the band has at least one more fan.

Highlights: “Plague of Conscience”, “Six Feet Under the Gun”, “In Thought Alone”, “Beyond A Shadow of a Doubt”, “Architects of Fear”, “The Mask of Anarchy”

http://www.facebook.com/SavageMessiahMetal
http://www.myspace.com/savagemessiahmetal

DareDevil Squadron – Out Of The Sun

DareDevil Squadron – Out of the Sun (2010, self-released)

1. Out of the Sun … 3:46
2. Punishment Fits … 3:47
3. Forgotten Son … 3:41
4. Back Lounge … 3:17
5. Hero Falls … 4:12
6. Chronicles of Sorrow Pt. 1: An Eternity Of Forgetfulness … 6:21
7. Streets of Montmartre … 4:13
8. Power Trip … 3:35
9. Faith Hope Love … 4:32
10. Lillian … 3:43

Band:
Andrew Ross – Lead Vocals, Mandolin
Angus Clark – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Aurelien Budynek – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Chris Altenhoff – Bass, Backing Vocals
Jason Gianni – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals

Producer: DareDevil Squadron

Got turned onto this band because of my May 2011 of Trans-Siberian Orchestra review where I noted the amazing vocal talents of Andrew Ross and after seeing my review, the band contacted me and was extremely nice in hooking me up with a copy of Out of the Sun. It’s such a phenomenal release, I’m surprised I wasn’t aware of it beforehand!

Again, Ross absolutely shines throughout the whole album. It’s good to know he sounds good as good live as he does on record and let’s not forget about the guitars! Some really great work is being put in by Aurelien Budynek and Angus Clark (also tours with TSO, so you already know he’s a great guitar player). There are some really smokin’ solos and great riffs all throughout this disc.

The really cool thing about the album is that while it’s all metal, there’s a few different styles. “Out of the Sun” is a fiery opening number and displays that Iron Maiden is obviously an influence on this band and that’s readily apparent on others numbers too thanks to the twin guitar attack (“Forgotten Son”, “Streets of Montmarte”). The boogie of “Back Lounge” sounds like something that could’ve come from one of the Sunset Strip bands. “Chronicles of Sorrow Pt. 1” displays a progressive side to the band while “Lillian” sounds like an unreleased Thin Lizzy track (“Hero Falls” sounds a bit like Lizzy too) and closes the album on a fun, infectious note.

Maiden, power metal, progressive, Lizzy and a bit of classic rock all combine to make Out of the Sun one heck of an album. Not a single filler track to be found. DareDevil Squadron has got to be one of the best metal bands I have heard in sometime. All around high-quality players, Ross’ singing is just off the charts and they’re writing great songs. People really need to seek this band and album out. Definitely one of the best albums that came out last year.

Highlights: “Out of the Sun”, “Punishment Fits”, “Back Lounge”, “Chronicles of Sorrow Pt. 1: An Eternity of Forgetfulness”, “Streets of Montmartre”, “Power Trip”

http://www.daredevilsquadron.com
http://www.facebook.com/daredevilsquadron

Buy ‘Out of the Sun’ in digital format at Amazon.com

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