The Distortion Of Lies...

SKU: SC251-0
Label:
Scarlet Records
Category:
Thrash Metal
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"Back in the late eighties and early nineties I was a huge fan of that eras best thrash metal. Bands like Slayer, Testament, Death Angel, and Forbidden drew me in with machine gun double bass drums, lighting fast rhythms, and aggressive vocals. One Machine is the brainchild of guitarist Steve Smyth, best known for his stints in some of metals finest bands including Nevermore, Forbidden, Dragonlord, Vicious Rumours, and Testament, a stellar resume to be certain! For One Machine’s debut album, Smyth has formed a band that is compromised of a who’s who in the world of extreme/underground metal who were carefully selected by Smyth: Mikkel Sandager (Mercenary) on vocals, Jamie Hunt (Biomechanical) sharing guitar duties, rounded out by a powerhouse rhythm section with Tomas “O’Beast” Koefoed (Mnemic) on bass guitar and Michele Sanna on drums (although former drummer Raphael Saini of Italian progressive metallers Chaoswave played on the album). The Distortion Of Lies And The Overdriven Truth was recorded and produced by Steve Smyth. Mixing was handled by guitarist extraordinaire Roy Z (Judas Priest, Bruce Dickinson, Halford), mastered by Alan Douches (Three Inches Of Blood, Firewind, Sepultura) from West West Side Music with artwork created by Niklas Sundin from Cabin Fever Media (Dark Tranquillity, Arch Enemy), complimented with photography from Anthony Dubois (Meshuggah, Mnemic).

The songs harken back to the 80′s Bay Area thrash movement of bands like Early Metallica, Testament, Death Angel, Exodus, and Forbidden and melds it with the classic metal style of Painkiller era Judas Priest and the melody of Vicious Rumours. Lead vocalist Sandager sings clean for the majority of the album but can growl out some extreme growl vocals as well as ear piercing screams that would make Rob Halford proud. He also has a vocal similarity to Russ from Forbidden in places (Crossed Over). Unlike a lot of their thrash metal forefathers, the band has a penchant for writing choruses with melodic and catchy hooks (Armchair Warriors). The music is chaotic at times (Killing The Hope Inside) almost to the point of no return, only to transition into a melodic passage that brings things back from the abyss. The guitar solos are as frenzied and speedy as the songs, at times reminding me of classic Slayer. What you have here are ten no nonsense slamming brutally heavy tracks that will make you want to jump in the pit. The title track sets the tone for the album with neck snapping, whiplash inducing headbanging thrash metal. There are some lighter moments such as in Kill The Light Inside and most notably the dark and moody mid-tempo of Last Star Alights, but for the most part, each song on the album takes a turn pummeling the listener with heavy riffs and brutal rhythms (see Evict the Enemy).

One Machine is a band with a tremendous upside and possible crossover potential in the mainstream metal market with the right promotional push. Fans of Smyth’s revious work in Testament, Forbidden, and Nevermore will find a lot to love about this band, while fans of more melodic fare might be surprised to find lots of catchy melodies and hook laden choruses to sink their teeth into!" - Lady Obscure

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  • ""SKIN” is the latest album from CLASSIC ROCK PROG Poll winners PANIC ROOM and is one of the most eagerly anticipated albums by a band on the new wave of British Progressive Rock groups. The album, the band’s third, is arguably the finest yet by ANNE MARIE HELDER (Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, Flute), JONATHAN EDWARDS (Keyboards), PAUL DAVIES (Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals), YATIM HALIMI (Bass) and GAVIN GRIFFITHS (Drums). "SKIN” is a dark and shimmering jewel, featuring 11 new and original tracks which all bear the hallmark sound of Panic Room - both powerful and intimate, passionate and playful, epic and yet truthful and heartfelt.

The album has a vast and expansive feel : gracefully weaving its way through rock-solid riffs and potent grooves, there are moments of intense power, heart-stopping gravity, and delicate beauty.
 This is the sound and dynamic of Panic Room... brought to a new level. Featuring the unique style-play and musical freedom that Panic Room are famous for, and which has seen them transcend any genre or limitation, the album also unveils a distinct and deliciously dark sound all of its own... the sound of 'SKIN'. A stunning collection of songs, all telling a story of their own, the album has a definite feel and continuity at the same time; a distinct mood of its own.'SKIN' is... beguiling, hypnotic, dark...sensual, emotional, and raw...beautiful, reflective, and true… The album title reflects all of the key elements in the music PANIC ROOM has created - the intimacy, the rawness and the power that is "SKIN”."
    $17.00
  • Riverside's latest takes a bit of a swerve from their traditional sound.  Parts of the album bears the imprint of Mariusz Duda's solo work - its more laid back, more refined.  Other aspects of the album carry on with the sound that Riverside has developed over recent albums - chunky organ, trippy keyboard soloing and interstellar guitarwork.  This one is a grower.  At first listen it might not hit you but the more you scrape away at it the more you realize its dug deeper under your skin."For the past decade or so, Polish progressive rock/metal quartet Riverside set itself apart from their stylstiic brethren by offering distinguishing tones, mesmerizing atmospheres, and most importantly, remarkable songwriting. Sure, the band also infuses much of its music with the intricacy genre enthusiasts expect, but their melancholic, yet beautiful and earnest melodies and lyrics (credited mostly to singer/songwriter/bassist Mariusz Duda) have always come first. Perhaps nowhere in its discography is this more apparent than on their newest opus, Love, Fear and the Time Machine.Although it features a few complex arrangements, the record is by far Riverside’s most straightforward and accessible collection to date, showcasing a proclivity for upfront compositions like never before. While this may disappoint fans who adore the group’s more tangential, frantic instrumentation, rest assured that the album’s stunning emotionality and breathtaking arrangements more than make up for it. Without a doubt, Love, Fear and the Time Machine features some of the most gorgeous, tragic, and ultimately inspiring pieces Riverside have ever recorded, making it another exceptional entry in an invaluable catalog.According to Duda, the effort is a return to the softer, more ambient nature of Riverside’s debut, 2004’s Out of Myself. In fact, the foursome intentionally composed it “to combine the ‘70s and the ‘80s…[the songs] have never been so concise and to the point before.” Because of this new approach, the disc actually evokes Duda’s other project, Lunatic Soul, in subtle but substantial ways at times. Like almost all of Riverside’s previous works, Love, Fear and the Time Machine is also a conceptual record; specifically, it “talk[s] about transformation. About making an important, perhaps life-changing decision everyone has to make at some point in their lives…on the one hand, we’re excited by the change…[but] on the other, we fear the unknown.” Ultimately, the lesson to be learned from it is that “if we sometimes get lost in life, it is to go through something and be found again on the other side, to be reborn as someone better and more valuable.”Fittingly, then, the sequence starts with “Lost (Why Should I Be Frightened by a Hat?)”, which is arguably its best track. Duda begins by reciting a philosophical recollection over a delicate ether of keyboards and bass and guitar notes. Afterward, he launches into a catchy and charming chorus: “Come follow me / We’ll go down / Where the river flows / One day / Just you and I will find a bridge / To another land”. Duda layers his voices too, making it even more gripping, and in-between his passages, guitarist Piotr Grudziński issues his signature soaring accompaniment as the composition evolves. Drummer Piotr Kozieradzki keeps things steady throughout, while keyboardist Michał Łapaj gets the spotlight during the final seconds. Ultimately, “Lost” exemplifies the magnificent succinctness that makes Love, Fear and the Time Machine distinctive in the Riverside canon.Later on, “#Addicted” truly feels like a progressive rock take on the Cure in several ways, such as its dominant bass lines, starry guitar lines, and wistful singing which finds Duda channeling a silky falsetto he’s never really attempted before. There’s also a brief acoustic guitar arpeggio at the end that’s very enjoyable. Lyrically, it serves as a commentary on how social media can transform people into egocentric users who base their self-worth on their digital populiarty. In this way, both its lyrics and music find Riverside stretching slightly beyond its comfort zone, but the result is undeniably, well, addictive.“Caterpillar and the Barbed Wire” feels more traditional, with Duda’s sorrowful confessions and counterpoints perfectly complemented by sharp guitar riffs, aching solos, enveloping percussion, and a moving layer of synthesized splendor. Honestly, it’s like a heartbreaking and somewhat more colorful missing track from Shine of New Generation Slaves, whereas “Saturate Me” contains the sleek yet eccentric tones and virtuosic yet blunt balance that made up the best moments on Rapid Eye Movement. Of course, its sad ponderings, such as “Am I Invisible? / Or alive? / I don’t want to feel like I’m no one anymore”, are archetypal Riverside sentiments, and the interlocking musical patterns (especially near the end) are equally touching.The most commercial segment on Love, Fear and the Time Machine is surely “Discard Your Fear”; however, despite that typically negative connotation, the song’s approachability doesn’t get in the way of its worth. Rather, it’s uplifting message and relatively simple and familiar construction could earn Riverside an entirely new camp of fans. It’s actually quite cathartic, as is the dreamy and tasteful “Toward the Blue Horizon”, which begins and ends as a luscious ode (with lovely piano chords) while transforming into a progressive metal workout in the middle.Both of the record’s final two pieces—“Time Travellers” and “Found (The Unexpected Flaw of Searching)”—are wonderful. The former is an exquisite acoustic ballad about past possibilities and the unforeseen future. Its winding melodies and spaciousness are the standout features, as the rest of the band lets Duda’s voice lead the way, resulting in a simple but commanding experience. In contrast, the latter is more elaborate, impactful, and conclusive, with a strong sense of closure and acceptance, as the speaker realizes the importance of his or her experiences, uncertainties, and decisions. The music builds with great pacing, adding more beautiful layers as the chorus (“It’s a lovely life / You have gone so far / Don’t give it up / Oh, it’s a lovely life / Gotta go with what you think is right”) repeats with sleek harmonies. By the end, listeners are left in awe, reevaluating their own sense of purpose and optimism.Love, Fear and the Time Machine is likely the most polarizing record Riverside has made, as it could be considered both the band’s strongest and weakest full-length effort. Fans hoping for virtuosic jams and unexpected sounds won’t really find them here, while fans looking for more of Riverside’s token elegant instrumentation, affective melodies, and poetic, rich singing will be satisfied beyond measure. Either way, Love, Fear and the Time Machine definitely finds its creators reaching for new, if marginally different, heights, which is commendable in and of itself. Roughly ten years on, Riverside remains as special as ever, and Love, Fear and the Time Machine is, in several ways, its truest work of art." - Pop Matters
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  • THIS NORTHERN VIRGINIA BASED BAND is a three-piece at heart, musically rooted in the raw energy and rhythmic interplay of RUSH and KING’S X. Fans of dark, guitar-driven rock bands from ALICE IN CHAINS, DEFTONES to the contemporary metal riffing of LAMB OF GOD and PANTERA, will connect to the heavy core of IRIS DIVINE’s sound. Add to that progressive complexity and moody synths inspired by DREAM THEATER and PORCUPINE TREE, and a liberal dose of memorable hooks and melodies, to understand some elements of IRIS DIVINE’s sound. And yet, the band has a distinct identity, not quite sounding like any of the aforementioned bands, and with an emotional urgency that pulls subtly from alternative and other influences.KARMA SOWN IS A TRIUMPH OF A DEBUT ALBUM, immediate and memorable but revealing layers and depth upon repeated listens."Progressive metal is in a rough period right now. The old guard are either releasing sub-standard albums that only make it more obvious how far they have fallen, or they are drastically uncool with anyone who didn't become a fan when progressive metal was first being created. Progressive today tends to mean djent, a style that has sapped all the life and humanity out of music, turning metal into a math equation of time signatures, and not songs that anyone can actually remember. There was a time when progressive metal remembered the ultimate goal of music; to have listeners enjoy the songs so much they would return to them again and again. Today, progressive metal is mostly the sort of music that could pass for muzak, if you don't turn the volume up too loud.Iris Divine wants to change that. They set out with the mission of writing progressive metal that is intricate and challenging, but still produces the kind of songs that listeners who don't have an advanced degree can love and sing along to. It's a challenge, and it goes against the tide, but it's a desperately needed revolution if progressive metal is going to flourish anytime in the near future.I knew from hearing the pre-release track “A Suicide Aware” that Iris Divide was special, and the full album reinforces the point. “The Everlasting Sea” comes out of the gates with plenty of tricky riffing and unusual rhythms, but they lead into big melodies with strong hooks and vocals. Their progressive playing isn't meant for show, it's a tool used to set a tone that juxtaposes with the more melodic moments. Finding the proper balance between these elements is not easy, and many a band have failed miserably trying to do so, but Iris Divine doesn't. On their debut record, they show a skill some bands have spent their entire careers failing to learn.What I love most about the record is that it can be seen in many different lights. If you like straight-ahead metal, there is plenty of heavy riffing and pounding drumming here to keep you satisfied. If you like progressive music, these songs have twists and turns, and Rush-like keyboards, in enough quantity to match the djent crowd. And if you're a fan of old-school radio rock, the choruses in these songs will be music to your ears. Keeping all three of these in mind at the same time can be tricky, but it's worth the effort.For being a trio, “Karma Sown” is a massive sounding record. The production is flawless, big and clear, without ever sounding too polished. The heavy parts are heavy, the vocals are up front, and you would never believe this was a self-produced record that was crowd-funded. I can put it up against many, many of the big label releases, and it would win the fight.In fact, I can think of a dozen so-called progressive metal bands that should immediately hand over their label contracts to Iris Divine, because it's a crime that a band that is advancing progressive metal in the right direction doesn't have the backing of one of the labels. Not to name names, but this album would be bigger than half of the progressive metal released this year if it had the media push behind it.In case you haven't noticed, what I'm saying is that “Karma Sown” is a fantastic debut, and the future of progressive metal. Iris Divine isn't a Dream Theater clone, and they're not djent. What they have done is integrate all the strains of progressive metal into a singular sound, one that could set the standard moving forward. If every band sounded this good, progressive metal wouldn't need to be underground. “Karma Sown” is the best progressive metal album of the year, bar none." - Bloody Good Horror
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  • Last May the band set up camp for a series of gigs at Le Triton in Paris. The four weeks of gigs was in essence a retrospective of the band's recorded work. This is the first of a projected series of 4 DVDs chronicling the event. The band is augmented by legendary vocalist Klaus Blasquiz as well as 3 sax players. The material on this particular disc focuses on the earlier period of the band: Malaria, Stoah, "Iss" Lansei Doai, Aurae, Kobaia, Theusz Hamtaahk 1st movement, Sowiloi, KMX B12. Over two hours long. Essential.
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  • "Leah’s 2012 debut, Of Earth and Angels, came out of nowhere and blew me away with its catchy, epic music and beautiful, ethereal vocals. Naturally, I bought her follow-up EP, Otherworld, but didn’t like it as much, since it was much mellower (except for “Dreamland” with guest Eric Peterson).Thus, I was very excited to learn that Leah’s next release would feature Delain guitarist Timo Somers. I figured Timo was exactly what Leah needed to find her heavier sound again, since he has contributed some of Delain’s best guitar work. As an added bonus, Timo produced and arranged the album and also recruited ex-Delain drummer Sander Zoer.Does Leah’s new team deliver? Yes. Kings & Queens is epic, heavy, and beautiful. Timo contributes excellent riffs and solos; Sander provides driving rhythms along with bassist Barend Courbois (from Blind Guardian); and Leah sounds as delicate and ethereal as ever. Her voice is high, clear and perfect, much like Liv Kristine’s.The music, voice, and lyrics evoke far-away lands and heroic stories. Leah has explained: “One theme in particular is the historical and metaphorical grip around our throats we feel from top-down agendas that threaten our freedoms. It seems to be a never-ending game of chess between those who demand power and those who would preserve freedom. It’s the theme of every good fantasy book and film, and the message rings true for even our modern world. In addition, the line-up and stellar musicianship of the guys who came on board this project heightened the sheer epicness and caliber of the music itself.”The album’s first single is “Enter the Highlands.” It starts heavy with aggressive guitars and drums before Leah’s otherworldly vocals kick in, and then builds with even more intense rhythms, a galloping riff, and choral vocals. Leah says she loves how heavy Timo made the song, and that the lyrics are about lost civilizations, with implications for our own.Two other songs that really showcase Timo’s guitar skills are “Save the World” and “Angel Fell,” both of which feature blistering solos. These songs also show off the variety of Leah’s sound. “Save the World” starts as folk metal before becoming an anthem, then finishes with delicate voices and a harp after Timo’s solo. “Angel Fell” begins with a harpsichord and is quiet and powerful at first but has a driving finish.What these songs lack is the catchiness I liked on songs like “Remember” and “Say Yes” from Of Earth and Angels, but that begins to reappear in later songs from Kings & Queens, notably “Heart of Poison” and “Hourglass.”Perhaps the heart of the album is the epic “Palace of Dreams.” The song is long (at 7:46) and cinematic, with strong guitar and piano and a lyrical tie-in to the album title. Other notable songs include “The Present Darkness” (in which Leah uses a deeper voice) and “Remnant” (which at first sounds especially like Loreena McKennitt, to whom Leah is often compared, before building into heavy guitars). The album concludes with a pretty acoustic cover of a traditional Irish folk song, “Siúil a Rún,” about a lover lost to soldiering.Overall, I would recommend Kings & Queens to all fans of epic music and ethereal vocals. While not as catchy as Of Earth and Angels, the new album certainly cements Leah’s reputation as the metal Loreena McKennitt (or Enya), with her strong Celtic and new age influences (not to mention her high fantasy look). The album is also a showcase for Timo Somers’ guitar work, and an example of successful crowd-funding, so fans of Delain and fans of independent music alike will want to check it out.On the flipside, I would say the album and songs are too long. At 78 minutes, Kings & Queens is nearly twice as long as Of Earth and Angels or Delain’s The Human Contradiction. I think the music would have a greater impact if it were more condensed (just as I wish Peter Jackson would release a condensed version of The Hobbit). Delain fans should also know that the vocal variety is much narrower than what we get from Charlotte Wessels, who does fragile and beautiful but also raw and aggressive. Again, Leah is more like Liv Kristine. The lyrics are also subtle and metaphorical (and sometimes require careful listening to understand), so the themes discussed above about freedom and fallen civilizations don’t hit you in the face the way Delain’s (or Judas Priest’s) would." - Sonic Cathedral
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  • Killer retro-prog from Norway laced with strong elements of doom metal.  This band is an offshoot from the outrageous Procosmian Fannyfiddlers, a rather bizarre band that created a rather unique, expletive drenched form of burlesque prog.  This is something totally different and a hell of a lot better.  Highly recommended."Abandoned By The Sun’ is a non-linear narrative, its focal point being the dubious disappearance of a 15-year old girl, her disappearance securing a downward spiral and a grave ripple effect that threatens to ruin the lives of everyone close to her. The idea projected is that nothing can be worse than to lose someone dear without getting any answers.Opening track, ‘Sudden Dereliction’, establishes a link to the previous record and the album’s finale, ‘Finite’, offers a glimpse of what really happened that fatal day, though leaving the listeners sufficient interpretive space to make up their own minds. In-between these bookends, the music moves in multiple, unexpected directions, showcasing great melody lines, and a high degree of diversity, underlining the sadness and despair of the libretto’s protagonists.On ‘Abandoned By The Sun’, Mater Thallium explore the inter-human mechanisms at work when a person vanishes without a trace.This is old-school heavy progressive rock, with a twist of doom, topped with flourishes of Scandinavian folk music." 
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  • Yet another brilliant work from this Norwegian prog band.  The Greatest Show On Earth is the band's third effort.  While the first album Identity delved into alternative/prog realms bearing similarity to Radiohead, their second album All Rights Removed was full on Pink Floyd worship.  This latest effort carries on in similar fashion.  There are parts of the album that were written with tracing paper.  It evokes the mood and feel of Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here, and maybe even a bit of The Wall.  This isn't to say the band doesn't inject any personality of their own - they do.  There are contemporary elements, its just that when they go into full on Pink Floyd mode its so apparent and so well executed that it blinds you to everything else that is going on.  What Bi Kyon Ran is to King Crimson or The Watch is to Genesis, Airbag is to Pink Floyd.  Original?  Truth be told not really.  It doesn't matter, its so well executed that you will just immerse yourself in the listening experience.  Highly recommended.
    $15.00
  • "Zao, French prog-jazz legends from Seventies, reformed in 2004 with original core members Yochk'o Seffer (sax) and Francois "Faton" Cahen (keyboards) along with Gerard Prevost (bass) who was a member of Zao from 1975-77, drummer Francois Causse, who had played with Faton and Seffer before and last, but not least, the new female vocalist Cynthia Saint-Ville. Her addition to the fold will doubtless attract Zeuhl enthusiasts, as her voice is pretty similar to Mauricia Platon, but softer and more sensual, while equally powerful. In Tokyo is a live album recorded during the Japan tour in 2004 and it adds a violinist Akihisa Tsuboy to round out the classic Zao sound which, while more acoustic sounding thanks to Faton largely playing grand piano and only occasionally comping on Fender Rhodes, nonetheless stays true to the classic tone colors of Zao. Versions of pieces like "Isis", "Shardaz", "Zohar" as well as material from Kawana benefit a lot from the addition of female vocals. The only disappointing piece is "Ronach" which doesn't have the same verve and fluid edginess that the original version had (not to mention, Causse sounds a bit stiff here compared to the militantly exuberant hammering of Jean-My Truong on the original version). It was probably a bit too complex piece for the band to pull off. Elsewhere, they deliver. Guest violinist Tsuboy dishes out fiery electric violin solos, at times reminiscent of Lockwood, even though he tends to be obscured during the written sections by sax and voice. Nonetheless, Zao in its current configuration sounds like a tight live act, a bit jazzier than the seventies editions, but nonetheless very enjoyable. Recommended live album for fans of jazzier end of Zeuhl." - Stereomouse
    $10.00
  • Since the release of 2013’s In Crescendo, Kingcrow toured North America in support of Pain Of Salvation, and headlined a European tour.  Kingcrow kept busy in 2014, touring Europe with Fates Warning and at the same time crafting the material that would become Eidos.“Eidos” is a new conceptual album about choices, consequences, dealing with regret and disillusion. Their earlier album Phlegethon dealt with childhood and In Crescendo about the end of youth.  Eidos can be considered the third part of a trilogy about the path of life. Musically it sees the band exploring new territories and pushing the extremes of its complex soundscape with a darker atmosphere and a more progressive attitude.Describing the band today is quite a difficult task, but one could state that the influence of such artists as Porcupine Tree, Riverside, Opeth, Anathema, Radiohead , King Crimson and Massive Attack are all present in the music of Kingcrow.With each release Kingcrow has taken a step further away from their original roots as a classic metal band and is now one of the most personal and exciting bands that Italy has to offer.
    $13.00
  • Double live CD recorded on the 2010 US tour in support of The Incident.  The set includes a complete live performance of "The Incident" recorded in Chicago as well as additional material recorded at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
    $7.00
  • Limited edition digipak with 2 bonus tracks."The road to Altzi is paved with good intentions…. When Masterplan announced the new lineup in November of last year, Jorn apologists flooded the comment strings of various metal news outlets with comments like “another band is spoiled by a vocalist change” and “no Jorn…no Masterplan.” While I might agree that there was reason for outcry when a well-known/respected singer leaves a band, it’s not as if Masterplan has never had another vocalist and is not a band with more past members than present. The object is to listen and make judgments later. The announcement of Rick Altzi was particularly intriguing and any fan of At Vance and Thunderstone can attest – there was much reason for hope.The news that main man/guitarist Roland Grapow’s (Ex-Helloween) revealed that there was going to be a return to “faster” and “more metal” material made this more appealing. Add further still…the addition of Ex-Stratovarius bassist Jari Kainulainen and the naysayers should have stood back and waited to react. Why? As it turned out, Rick Altzi proves a more than compatible replacement for Jorn…and *GASP* dare I say – a wee bit better in spots? Blasphemy? Try it…prove me wrong.Musically, the album ranks as one of the band’s finest, recalling the best heard from the self-titled debut, 2005’s “Aeronautics,” and the appropriately titled 2010 “Time to Be King,” but with a heavier edge. Altzi is so compatible that only the most attentive Jorn fans can see the difference, most notably that low power that shifts with a slab of grit while on the way up to the high range. This is not besmirching Altzi at all, as his range is proven and perfect. His first appearance is at 0:47 on the album’s second track “The Game,” an admirable driving melodic metal song with noticeably well-crafted double bass from new drummer Marthus Skaroupka (Cradle of Filth) and copious amounts of heaviness intertwined with trademark melody. Grapow proves again what amazing solos he can play.The album’s first music video was for “Keep Your Dream Alive” – a mid-paced winner expertly chosen, as it’s the song where Altzi shines brightest, showing the breadth of his range – and for many moments I said “Jorn who?” The finest track on the album is “Betrayal,” which will prove to be one of the best of the year when all is said and done, if not for its Middle Eastern charm that falls into the heaviest riff on the album drawn out like slamming shudders by Axel Mackenrott’s keyboards. Other notables are the appealing riff in “Earth Going Down” (which is a tad swallowed by the keyboards as the song progresses), the Strato-feel of “Black Night of Magic,” the speedier “Return to Avalon” and the never dull 11 minute title track (especially 6:13 to 7:15) and vocal duet of Altzi and Grapow. Highly recommended is the digipak version with bonus tracks “1492” and “Fear the Silence.”My only complaint is not necessarily with the band’s play or its flawless execution, its more the melodic metal style in general. At the same time it represents a favorite style – in Masterplan’s case best defined as “what Whitesnake would sound like if they tipped a bit into power metal” – listening to entire album presents a challenge, if only for that mid-paced repetition. I find the album plays a bit better when I listen to a few songs at a time, mixing it in with other bands and styles.This may be “a new beginning” for Masterplan in member changes, however the creation of high quality melodic metal perseveres. Grapow assembled a new team of musicians that prove just as compatible, especially Altzi’s performance. With the proof in the product, fans of the band should have little to complain about with “Novum Initium,” though I suspect some Jorn lamenters will never take the road less traveled….the one where its “time for” Rick “to be king.”" - Metal Underground
    $16.00
  • "7 long years it has been since PYRAMAZE’s last album, “Immortal”, with the famed Matt Barlow at the vocal helm. Come 2015, the band has seen half of the original lineup revamped; still remains Jonah Weingarten on keyboards, Morten Gade Sørensen on drums and Toke Skjønnemand on guitars, but have welcomed about longtime-friend and producer Jacob Hansen on guitars and Terje Harøy on vocals. “Disciples Of The Sun” assuredly marks the beginning of a new era for the band, adopting a new and fresh musical trajectory.Who would replace the former members were always at the forefront of the minds of their fanbase. A Danish band, with the exception of American Jonah, Jacob Hansen is well-known in the metal echelons of his home-country and abroad for working with and producing many of Metal’s greatest bands; DELAIN, ABORTED, ANUBIS GATE and EPICA among them. Already the band’s producer, the transition to guitar simply made sense. As for vocals, many considered Matt irreplaceable; such cynicism does not have a place in the metal world, for the band pulled in Terje from Prog/Heavy band CROSSNAIL (formerly TEODOR TUFF).On one hand, the decision to pick a relatively-unknown singer to take the vacant vocal position could be considered risky, but it was the best-possible decision the band could have made, because “Disciples Of The Sun” is chock-full of uplifting and powerful heavy-hitters, to which his voice is perfectly-suited. The introduction of epic proportions sets a spanning, cinematic scene for chugger “The Battle Of Paridas”. One of the album’s heaviest moments right off the bat, the track soon gets into the lyrics, where Terje’s power is obvious right away. Come the chorus (in fact, any chorus on the album, especially that of “Fearless” or “Hope Springs Eternal), the man’s voice lets loose with raw, unrestrained energy. Not losing their trademark, soaring atmospherics either, which are incredibly present in this track, as well as in the infectiously-catchy “Back For More”, PYRAMAZE proves that they have successfully moved forward without losing any trace of their identity.In hearing the wonderful lyrics for the album, written with absolute poetic flair in “Genetic Process” and “Hope Springs Eternal”, I learned that ANUBIS GATE’s very own bassist/vocalist/lyricist Henrik Fevre was asked to write the new album’s lyrics, given that Michael Kammeyer, the previous writer, had left. And they fit the music PYRAMAZE has lovingly-crafted ever so perfectly; uplifting crescendos and dramatic cascades the ideal vehicle. Heavy-hitting, Progressive Power Metal the band’s tried-and-true engine, not one track on the album hints to any monotony; each piece has its own vibe, and is a story all in its own. For one, “Perfectly Imperfect” booms with a series of Stoner-like opening riffs, before transitioning into soaring and gloriously-melodic choruses. The track to follow, “Unveil”, however, provides some of the more ‘Proggy’ moments on the record; the key-change in the last chorus leaving me light-headed, and probably best display’s Terje’s impressive range. As for the most balls-to-the-castle-wall Metal track on the album, “Hope Springs Eternal” is the package, containing the album’s fastest, most aggressive, most blistering riffs; but in a gracefulness only Scandinavian metallers have perfected, transitions to long-lasting, memorable and melodic choruses.For my own personal pleasure, the band picked the right year to release “Disciples Of The Sun”, being able to look forward to new NIGHTWISH and new KAMELOT albums as well, for if Metal were a competition, the genre heavy-weights would have serious competition. PYRAMAZE is, quite frankly, the come-back I’ve been waiting for." - Metal Temple
    $14.00
  • "The release of this album and its predecessor, Annie Haslam's Renaissance, began the phenomenon of "dueling Renaissances" that took place in the 1990s, Michael Dunford having started his own version of the group, and the surviving members of the original line-up also claiming the name -- all astonishing for a band that seldom, if ever, charted any records in any notable way, and also unfortunate, because it diverted attention from each artist's work. Blessing in Disguise is one of Haslam's most engaging and accessible records -- all of it is on the arty, romantic side of pop/rock, in a similar vein to Renaissance, but it's also distinctly different, in that the singer sacrifices some of her voice's crystalline purity and a little bit of her range in favor of a warmer, more expressive sound. Haslam also co-authored much of the material here, which may account for the slightly higher degree of emotional expressiveness on the album, although two of her three very best performances are on songs that she didn't co-write, "Love Lies, Love Dies" (co-written by Betty Newsinger [nee Betty Thatcher] and her ex-Renaissance bandmate Michael Dunford) and Ezra Mohawk's and Alan Chapman's "Can't Turn the Light Off"; the third, "Whisper From Marseilles (For Julien)," is a musical/dramatic tour de force for the singer. Little here is far off from the standard set by those three jewels, however, and the whole album marks a definite advancement from Haslam's earlier work -- instead of "Renaissance-lite," it's a solid and weighty solo achievement." - Allmusic
    $6.00