Hymn To Life (Remastered Digi)

SKU: MASSCD1220
Label:
Metal Mind
Category:
Power Metal
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New solo album from Stratovarius guitarist. Tolkki doesn't exactly give you any suprises - it's exactly what you expect: neoclassical laced symphonic speed metal. Guest vocals provided by Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween) and Sharon Den Adel (Within Temptation).

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  • "Winter In Eden’s latest offering comes on the heels of their highly acclaimed debut ‘Awakening’ and follow up ‘Echoes Of Betrayal’. Latching onto the production team behind fellow symphonic hard rockers Within Temptation and with critical support from the rock and metal media , ‘Court Of Conscience’ sees them looking to rub shoulders with the big players in the field.Has anyone else noticed a marked increase in the numbers of females becoming part of the rock scene? You only need check out some of the rock publications on the shelves of your local newsagents to find the latest in a new breed or the new release featuring a talented rock goddess on its cover (and let’s face it, more often than not, the ladies tend to look a bit better than the guys.)Nowhere has it been more apparent than in the melodic/symphonic rock/metal scene, where the likes of Within Temptation, Evanescence, Amaranthe and  Nightwish have opened the doors and made female fronted rock almost a genre by itself. In fact, one of the best gigs I’ve attended this year was the Within Temptation/Delain double bill and as someone (probably Disney related) once said, it opened up a whole new world.To the point though. Winter In Eden are another five piece symphonic rock band from the north of England who can be added to the list. With an EP and two albums behind them and a string of recognition  (best new band, female vocalist, live act) from the likes of the Classic Rock Society, Metal Storm and Classic Rock magazine, anticipation is high for their third album, ‘Court Of Conscience’. It comes courtesy of producer Ruud Jolie (of Within Temptation) and mixed by Stefan Helleblad (of…..Within Temptation) and featuring a number of guest appearances most notably including  Landmarq/Threshold singer Damian Wilson. Sounding good so far.Opening track ‘Knife Edge’ has all the classic elements – the false sense of security of the  gentle piano opening giving way to the immediate vocal of Vicky Johnson amid a smack in the teeth blast from the band, a minor respite mid song giving way to a suitably symphonic ending and a flavour of what’s to come.  The typically dynamic expectations and atmospheres come courtesy of the ominous opening of ‘Critical Mass Pt 1- Burdened’ which smoulders along and builds into becoming the big production piece on the album.  With ‘Toxicate’ and ‘Order Of Your Faith’ they display a slightly harder edge while ‘The Script’ offers up something more akin to a string driven power ballad.Although the overall sound is naturally quite heavily orchestrated (expertly done by keyboard ist Steve Johnson) the band are driven along by Steve Hauxwell’s drums and it’s hard not to be impressed by Vicky Johnson’s symphonic metal goddess vocals which pour a velvety smooth coating over  the soundtrack which essentially provide the focus for the band. The album is accessible with some commercial hooks, dare I say radio friendly (maybe rock radio friendly might be more appropriate)  in songs like ‘Before It Began’ and full of sweeping strings and explosive guitars yet able to move into simple acoustic guitar driven pieces.Having come off the road and straight into recording saw the material coming together quickly and making the most of the benefits of playing together  as a live unit. The ‘been there and got the T shirt’ Within Temptation polished production influence has rubbed off  and given Winter In Eden the motivation and momentum to deliver a record which establishes and strengthens their reputation  in the genre." - Louder Than War
    $16.00
  • German reissue packages the two albums from this now defunct band at a budget price.  Superb progressive metal from Eastern Europe....
    $5.00
  • Tunes are a bit shorter this time out but there is still that solid mix of heavy progressive rock.
    $14.00
  • "The White edition of Kingdom of the Night II is the "softer" release of the two albums released on February 28th. It's barely softer cause the Black edition isn't all that powerful to start with. Don't get me wrong, the Black Edition is a KILLER album and so is the White Edition if you ask me. But neither album pack the punch delivered with the latest studio albums of the band in terms of raw power.Do you like Axxis in general, and loved their Kingdom of the Night debut ? That's the only question you should ask yourself and if the answer is yes, then you'll love this album as well. It starts with Hall of Fame, an instant classic hit from the very beginning. It does sound commercial though, and this could definitely be on radio (and I bet it is in Germany :) ). Hall of Fame starts this album perfectly. I was worried that the White edition would be too soft for me but immediately with Hall of Fame the album puts those fears to rest. The next song Heaven in Paradise is also a great song, reminding me of My Little Princess. Then comes Living in a Dream, which is a re imagining Living in a World. According to the band, while Axxis copied themselves on this song and KotN II, they are mostly saying thank you to these songs for the impact these had for their careers. To tell you the truth I find Living in a Dream better than Living in a World :) (I find the main riff has improved), but of course it couldn't have existed without the original so everything's relative. 21 crosses is also a great song that talks about a tragedy that happen during the Loveparade in Germany on July 24th 2010 where 21 young people lost their lives in a panic move from the crowd, probably due to bad organization, and years after nobody is still taking the blame for this horrendous accident, so Axxis wrote a song about it. I find the song almost too catchy for the subject, but it's a beautiful song nonetheless. I like that the names of the victims are mentioned at the end of the song, so they aren't forgotten. This album reminds me more of Return to the Kingdom somehow, maybe because of the catchiness of so many of the songs and the definitive Rock vibe. There's a second version of Mary Married a Monster, a song about violence in the couple, and how it is felt from the two sides of the story (on Black album by the friends of the victim, and on the White Edition by the victim herself). Both version are great songs. The White edition contains a little more ballads, My Eyes, for one, that is a typical Axxis song reminding me Stay Don't Leave Me (though not as strong IMHO) and Gone with The Wind that is in the same veins as Tears of the Trees but again Tears of the Trees is simply the better song. But in the end it's not an album filled with ballads like I had feared. My favorite song from both albums is on the White Edition though, and it's Take Me Far Away ! I can listen to it in a loop over and over again, one of the best songs in the band's career, with an incredibly catchy melodic riff like only Axxis could write ! Dance into life is a bit more powerful than the rest and I thought it could actually have been on Black Edition :). We are the World is a song that contains a Mandolin played by bassist Rob Schomaker. It's an interesting instrument to find into a metal song but it works well in my opinion.Just like the Black Edition, this album guitar work is simply amazing, strong riffs and stronger solos. As mentioned in the other review Bernhard vocals are at the top of his game, and it seems he gets better and better with each and every album, cementing my feeling that he is one of the best singer there is, with an original and powerful voice ! While I found the White Edition a tad softer it still contains two of my favorite songs from both albums : Take Me Far Away and Hall of Fame (which is the first song the band wrote for both albums). As with the Black edition, I could live without the last song on the White Edition, Temple of Rock, while a good old rock song, but one I wouldn't miss. The White Edition will be released on February 28th, at the same time as the Black Edition. It's not everyday that one of your favorite band releases not one but two albums at once, and it shows how much Axxis love their fans. Any other band could have released a lazy best off or re-recording for their anniversary, instead Axxis present us with 22 songs, 24 if you purchase the limited edition metal box including both Black and White edition into one package with 2 bonus tracks. Thank you Axxis for these two fantastic albums and trip back to memory lane. My wish now is for Axxis to hit the studio in the coming years and deliver some Power Metal masterpiece that will go beyond what they did with Paradise in Flames (okay I know I'm putting the bar very high, but I know they can do it !). And why not release the most powerful sounding album yet ! If you're a fan of Axxis you cannot miss either the Black or White editions of Kingdom of the Night II !! I can't wait to receive the limited edition and give these bonus tracks a go. Long live Axxis !" - Metal Reviews
    $15.00
  • "Retribution” is the new album from Sweden’s Nightingale, the intended one-off project that refuses to die. Established by musical multi-talent Dan Swanö almost 20 years ago, the band is proof that good music can take on a life of its own, often when the artist least expects it.Known for his work both as a producer/engineer and with metal acts Edge Of Sanity, Bloodbath, Pan-Thy-Monium and most recently Witherscape, Swanö began his unplanned Nightingale journey in 1995 with “The Breathing Shadow”. It was a one-off goth-flavoured solo album heavily reminiscent of The Sisters Of Mercy, meant to satisfy his interest in the genre and then be put quietly to bed as Swanö moved on to other projects. The album was successful enough to warrant a follow-up according to his label at the time (Black Mark), but Swanö was, as he puts it "so over the goth thing.""I thought that if I was going to make a second record it had to reflect what I was listening to at the moment. I was going through a big revival of Gamma, Foreigner, Journey and all that super melodic AOR pomp rock stuff. It was a weird turn from the first record, so I decided to make Nightingale a home for music that I write in the moment, no matter what it is."Nightingale released five more albums between '96 and '07, slowly establishing a band line-up that began with Swanö's guitarist/keyboardist brother Dag in 1996 acting as a co-producer and session player on “The Closing Chronicles”. He officially came aboard in 1998 under his Tom Nouga moniker. The band was fleshed out by bassist Erik Oskarsson and drummer Tom Björn, who had their first rehearsal with the Swanö brothers on Christmas Day 2000. “White Darkness” from 2007 could well have been the last Nightingale album, as it featured very little songwriting input from Swanö due to severe writer's block. He decided to focus on his career as an engineer and chose to make music as a hobby. His creative side won eventually, however, as the urge to write and play again became irresistible."I bought a few instruments that would inspire me, and eventually the riffs started piling up," Swanö recalls. "I was collecting them for some kind of death metal release, and the other stuff that came out ended up being what could be used for a future Nightingale record."Originally titled “Bravado” in the working stages, “Retribution” offers up 10 songs steeped in uncomplicated '70s and early '80s-flavoured rock. Tracks such as 'Chasing The Storm Away', 'Forevermore' and 'The Maze' could have easily found a home on commercial rock radio 30 years ago, yet the album is completely relevant in 2014. Fans of Swanö's heavier works that are unfamiliar with Nightingale may be surprised the simplicity of the music and the band's non-aggressive approach."It's not easy to write simple stuff that's good," Swanö points out, suggesting people take a good long listen to “Retribution” rather than dismissing it.In Swanö's estimation “Retribution” succeeds because the songs "just kind of happened." He never set out to write any specific parts; the music is in fact a result of spontaneous moments, whether it was an accidental combination of notes on a keyboard that became an opening riff ('On Stolen Wings') or an odd guitar tuning ('Warriors Of The Dawn'). On top of that, the songs were hashed out in the rehearsal room before the band went into the studio, resulting in major changes to some of the music as it developed."When I listen to the record I don't want to have any regrets," explains Swanö. "There's no point in releasing a new Nightingale record if I don't think it's the best we ever did. That a pretty high standard to have, but if I don't feel that way when I listen to it the moment it's ready, it's got nothing to do with our back catalogue. That's the way I've felt with every record."Asked to sum up what “Retribution” means to him with regards to Nightingale's legacy, Swanö offers the following: "Classic rock with that pomp attitude really inspired me. I just wanted a good production that could hold up well against a band like Alter Bridge but still have a bit of the sonic charisma of the records from '79, which was a great year for music. The target was to make a timeless record with good, classy songs that the four of us can agree are really cool."Nightingale’s “Retribution” comes packaged in beautiful artwork courtesy of Travis Smith (Opeth, Nevermore, Katatonia, etc.) and should equally appeal to open-minded atmospheric metal and also to melodic prog rock supporters into bands like Rush, Marillion, Styx, Kansas, The Mission, Queensryche, Enchant, Threshold, Arena oreven Opeth and Katatonia."
    $13.00
  • "Vital Science bears all the hallmarks of your atypical Scandinavian progressive metal outfit. You know, the likes of Circus Maximus, Illusion Suite, and Oceans Of Time (to name but a few). What I’ve found odd, though, is that despite peddling a sound which on the surface is commonplace these days; Vital Science manages to bring something strangely fresh to the table. This is something I feel I’ve pegged down, although it could well be a plant by Vital Science’s aural tentacles, which by now have plunged deep and scrambled my brains.There are a fair few elements that Vital Science offers which will be familiar to anyone with slight knowledge of the genre. A foundation of Dream Theater, a generous lavishing of Symphony X; essentially the Circus Maximus formula, although try adding a sprinkling from the more aggressive rack. Yeah, let’s take a pinch of Control Denied, a few drops from Future’s End; and don’t forget a spot of Nevermore. It’s in the deft inclusion of the heavier end of the progressive metal spectrum where Vital Science begins to find itself crawling out from beneath the “average” atypical sound, and from the realms of melodic prog; strangely enough, I feel that the album flows in that sense.The first couple of tracks are without doubt friendly in their utilization: Alexey Boykov’s smooth, Russell Allen-meets-Mark Basile vocal styling is enticing, and when painted over a symphonic backdrop eases you into Imaginations On The Subject Of Infinity. As such, the first song proper, “Bridge Of Sorrow”, flows by as a solid piece, one well-written although lacking in fire. It houses that comforting familiarity – much like you’d feel kicking back in your living room. The following number delivers more in the way of the heavy, as well as that of technicality and, well, prog. It’s that chill running up your spine, or a growth beginning to fester. It’s at this point that Vital Science begins to kick up the excitement.Riffs that, dare I say, come across as unconventional given the progressive power style, begin to rear their heads. Like spiders or other unwelcome guests seeking to compromise the comfort in the aforementioned living room, clamoring through the cracks in a wall, or the gap under a door. It’s here that Vital Science shows that its really pretty damn bad-ass. These are riffs and rhythms that you’re going to want to headbang to; boasting infectious groove, and even some of the more “evil” sounding chord progressions and scales I’ve heard lately. Mixing in the darker, heavier textures with the more pristine, melodic prog conventions makes for an involving listen. In fact, speaking of darker and heavier texture, at times Vital Science spring the likes of Adagio and To-Mera to mind; especially so when considering technicality.As the album continues to progress, so does the band. With each track it feel that Vital Science opens up a little more, stretching the boundaries of their sound a little wider. To the point where some of the music recalls that of (modern) technical death metal, although (and this is something that I can’t stress enough) this resemblance comes in terms of musical prowess and note progression, as opposed to production or tonality. The last half of the album is seriously cool nonetheless, and seeks to catapult Vital Science from the realm of “good band” to that of a great one.In a way, I guess Vital Science amalgamate a considerable amount of what I’ve enjoyed from progressive metal on the whole over the last decade or two. I could write a scary long list of bands that Vital Science springs to mind at any one point throughout the album – and trust me it would extend far – but I feel Imaginations On The Subject Of Infinity deserves more than that. Instead, let’s just say that the band manages to evoke varying shades of atmosphere, and proudly covets an arsenal of sharp hooks, deft songwriting tricks, heavy hitting riffs, and enough in the way flamboyant technicality to ruin many a mind." - Blackwind Metal
    $15.00
  • "When people think of Melodic Power Metal from Finland, obviously two of the biggest acts that come to mind are STRATOVARIUS and SONATA ARCTICA. ASTRALION are another quintet pumping out that addictive, uplifting Euro Power Metal sound on their debut, self-titled album. Forming in 2011 and containing two ex-OLYMPOS MONS members in vocalist Ian Highhill and bassist Dr. K. Lundell, they also have two musicians from the Thrash band THE ADDICATION in their ranks with drummer Arnold Hackman and guitarist Hank Newman. Keyboardist Thomas Henry rounds out the lineup, so the experience in terms of players and musicianship makes this 11 song record much easier to ingest than the average ‘newer’ act attempting to breakthrough on this very active scene.The foundation of ASTRALION’s style cements itself in the early to mid-90’s Power Metal movement: chord structures that have a touch of that mead hall/ cultural thematic feel, as well as those larger than life choruses that BLIND GUARDIAN, GAMMA RAY, and HELLOWEEN made a staple of their sound. The keyboards certainly have that Finnish meets FREEDOM CALL happy tone – the opening strains of “At the Edge of the World” reminding me at times of “Hunting High and Low” from STRATOVARIUS. Of course you’ll get the prototypical speed numbers featuring guitar/keyboard synchronized arpeggio-like runs as the double bass cruises and the vocals hit ultimate bird call highs – “When Death Comes Knocking” and “Five Fallen Angels” textbook Power Metal 101 arrangements that should go down a storm.Beyond the mid-tempo ‘ode to what we love about the genre at hand number “We All Made Metal;” I also enjoyed the theatrical/ semi-Symphonic nature of the dramatic “Computerized Love” as well as the 13 minute epic closer “Last Man on Deck” that opens in ballad form before picking up the Neo-Classical pace and giving Hank and Thomas ample solo break / ‘can you top this’ moments. Ian may not tickle all the right notes vocally at times, but his passion and personality makes up for any small deficiencies. I come away every time singing the chorus to “Mysterious & Victorious”, and isn’t that half the battle in winning over consumers in this style?ASTRALION are off to a high quality start, so those who miss the 1990’s style of Power Metal would be wise to scoop this up." - Metal Temple
    $9.00
  • "Prior to the release of 'Visions Fugitives', Mekong Delta had been no stranger to classical music. Their style of thrashy progressive metal exuded the influence of many a composer, particularly those with a darker sound to their orchestral observations. When it came to actually performing classical music however, the band up to this point had more or less limited themselves to using neoclassical tricks within their metal context, even doing a cover or two. With that in mind, 'Visions Fugitives' and its centerpiece 'Suite For Group And Orchestra' was quite a long time in the making. Although some may go to criticize the band for never going as far as to use a real-life orchestra in its recording, few albums within the 'thrash metal' umbrella have engaged me so much. Throw in a few pieces of cerebral prog metal to flesh things out, and you have a piece of work that would make the old giants of progressive rock proud.Although 'Suite For Group And Orchestra' is planted right in the middle of the album, there is still a clear division here between the ornate classical 'epic', and the more traditional songs. Like Rush's '2112', or Fates Warning's 'No Exit', Mekong Delta follow prog metal canon by giving listeners a clear cut of both gears, although every track on 'Visions Fugitives' falls firmly within progressive metal territory. As they have in the past, Mekong Delta shares the neighborhood with Voivod and Watchtower, in that their brand of thrash favours the cerebral over the speedy riffage of many of their contemporaries. Besides band founder Ralph Hubert, Mekong Delta has been a revolving door of musicians since their inception, and 'Visions Fugitives' is no exception. Mark Kaye brings a guitar performance to the band that fits their mission statement like a glove, fusing technicality with the sort of frantic atmosphere Mekong Delta had been capitalizing on with prior records. As far as Mekong Delta's metal edge is concerned, Douglas Lee's vocals may be the most controversial aspect of the sound. Although the complex vocalizations at the end of 'Them' declare that he is definitely has the ear for singing, his vocals have a tone to them that would fit much more comfortably in prog rock rather than thrash. Fortunately, Mekong Delta's metal side is never far ahead of the 'prog', and his performance here works just as well for the context as Wolfgang Borgmann's did on their debut.The classical aspect of 'Visions Fugitives' is without a doubt the most important part of the album. Though the four progressive metal songs are too worthy of being deemed masterful in their composition, 'Suite For Group And Orchestra' takes up a damned half of the record, and a listener's appreciation of the record will brink largely on their openness to heavy metal being crossbred with classical music so openly. Although classical music has been going steady with metal since the days of Yngwie Malmsteen and even long before, it rarely gets to the point where the two sounds are mixed to the extent where neither is the dominant force. This is the case with 'Suite For Group And Orchestra', an elaborately composed twenty minute piece worthy of the highest commendation. Here, Mekong Delta mimic the atmosphere of Romantic-era classical music rather than the erudite complexity of composers before, the result being a piece with plenty of epic melody and variety, not to mention a fair deal of room for the band to incorporate their rock instruments into the fray. The soothing acoustic 'Introduction' leads into an eerie 'Preludium', complete with low horns and eerie bells to make it sound like something out of the haunted mansion in Super Mario Brothers. 'Dance' and 'Fugue' bring the piece into less frightening and more proggy, technical realms, often letting the band play powerfully without getting in the way of the orchestration. As far as the composition itself goes, it's remarkable to hear how many places both emotionally and sonically Mekong Delta can take a listener within a twenty minute period.In terms of flaws, the use of a computerized, or 'fake' orchestra may not hurt the compositions or music, but there is always the feeling throughout listening to 'Visions Fugitives' that things could be even more impressive, had the band had the resources to make a full orchestral rendition of their music a reality. A less-than-excellent production quality carries over to the prog metal songs as well, with the vocals sounding somewhat muffled and less mixed than they rightfully should have been. None of these studio issues are ever enough to take away from the excellence of the band's 'vision' however; it might even be said that the muffled sound and artificial instruments even add to the atmosphere. Mekong Delta have long been one of the most engaging acts to come out of German thrash metal, and 'Visions Fugitives' sees them finally realize their dream of bringing classical music to the thrash realm. Even still, it feels as if this project left open room for improvement, but if Mekong Delta never tops the majesty they have created here, I won't be one to complain." - Metal Archives
    $12.00
  • "The Electric Goddess is a powerful all-instrumental CD drenched in Borislav s soulful guitar work, played against a thundering hard rock soundtrack."
    $15.00
  • Second album from this French gothic metal band masterminded by Vynce Leff.  Odd situation...for a couple of years the band was fronted by Clementine Delauney, elevating the band's status as they went on tour with Delain.  Clementine left before this album was recorded, touring with Serenity so there is no studio documentation of her as a member of the band.  She has now been replaced Elvyne Lorient. Whyzdom's music is definitely molded in a similar fashion to Delain and Within Temptation.  Its very heavily symphonic and Leff has incorporated a choir into the mix lending an even bigger, more bombastic sound.  Fans of Delain's April Rain should check this one.
    $15.00
  • Virtuoso keyboardist Vivien Lalu has created a new progressive metal epic featuring an all star cast:Band [A-Z]---Martin LeMar (Mekong Delta) - VocalsMike LePond (SymphonyX) - BassSimone Mularoni (DGM) - GuitarsVirgil Donati (PlanetX)- DrumsVivien Lalu (Shadrane) - KeyboardsGuests [A-Z]---Jens Johansson (Stratovarius)Joop Wolters (Shadrane)Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater)Marco Sfogli (James LaBrie)Mike Andersson (Cloudscape, Fullforce)Peter Wildoer (Darkane, James LaBrie)Born of Noelle and Michel Lalu, musicians from the ‘70s French progressive act Polene, Vivien Lalu has released a surplus of recordings through an array of different bands and projects since 1997, as the keyboard player for underground black/doom band Time For A Change. At the turn of the millennium Lalu played keys for two underground progressive metal bands from Paris, Sad Warden and then Mind’s Orchard, and in 2002 was hired by Hubi Meisel (ex-Dreamscape vocalist) to compose and record the keys for his solo album EmOcean, the following year doing the same for Meisel’s sophomore album Kailash, both of which were released by Lion Music.It was at this time Vivien Lalu begins recruiting his own associates from major prog and metal bands — some of which he shares time composing music alongside in progressive metal act Shadrane — and forms his own solo project, LALU. The first full-length Oniric Metal was released on Lion Music in 2005 and began an entirely new chapter for this composer and his insatiable need to create mind-expanding, cinematic music.These accomplishments helped Lalu to begin securing score and soundtrack work for film and television; over the last few years he’s written many cues for the orchestral soundtrack for the Warner Bros movie Seuls Two, for the show Science X made in association with Lucasfilm Ltd. Additionally he joined the production team behind Laszlo Jones in order to assist the recordings and production of Banana Nation (Universal Music Group). He’s composed many soundtracks for French television, music and sound effects for Neko Entertainment, worked as a sound designer for Ubisoft Entertainment and much more.After collaborating with Shadow Gallery for a song on their Digital Ghosts album, and working with Canadian drummer Chris Nalbandian for his Paralysis of Analysis solo album — recording all keys and sharing solos with Derek Sherinian and Alex Argento — Vivien finally settled in and began work on the second LALU opus. Handling all composition and songwriting duties, as well as all keyboards on the massive production, Vivien weaved the cloth of the new album with vocalist Martin LeMar (Mekong Delta), bassist Mike LePond (SymphonyX), guitarist Simone Mularoni (DGM), drummer Virgil Donati (PlanetX), the album’s parts recorded in several countries including the United States (Los Angeles and New York), Germany and Italy, produced by Lalu in his own studio, and mixed at Boumbox Studio in Paris by Yan Memmi (Dio’s Lock Up The Wolves, Marcus Miller’s The Sun Don’t Lie, etc.). Additional contributions from Jens Johansson (Stratovarius), Joop Wolters (Shadrane), Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), Marco Sfogli (James LaBrie), Mike Andersson (Cloudscape) and Peter Wildoer (James LaBrie) were also carefully built into the album, the final product boasting over fifty minutes of exceptional, massive  cinematic, atmospheric metal Lalu has dubbed, Atomic Ark. 
    $13.00
  • Budget priced 2 disc set includes both albums in a slip case.  Merlin is one of the best albums.
    $15.00
  • Die-cut digipak edition."One thing already in the beginning. Dark Age continues with their change. If this is good or bad each of you have to evaluate personally.  I like the new album, as well as I liked their more death metallic history. The guys from Hamburg are more and more filling a gap between Linkin Park (70%) and In Flames (30%). That will say, that there are still some, almost hidden, death metal part in some of the songs, but the melodic parts are still increasing and the usage of keyboards became more. In that sense “A matter of trust” is a logical next step following their 2009 album “Acedia”.So what is, next to ‘change’, the consistent factor. Dark Age are still writing good songs. The songwriting quality didn’t change. And the band also comes up again with a very good production – maybe it’s even too perfect in the sense of being too clean.The album starts with “Nero”, a song which represents the album in a good way. The song is very melodic, and a great chorus. In the verse I was even party reminded to Simple Minds with some rougher guitar work. “My savior” makes use of the same pattern, but increases intensity towards the end.Songs like “Out of time”  and “Fight” show more the history of the band. The remind me in parts to the “Dark age” album.  “Dark sign” is a good mix between old and new. It combines old trademarks with a dark atmosphere.And than there are a few very keyboard focused tracks on the album. Songs like “Onwards” are probably not even metal anymore, even though I like it. But the guitar is pushed very much to the back and the keys are dominating the scene.“A matter of trust” became a good album. But it also needs an open mind to enjoy it. If you got over the fact that the album didn’t became another “Dark age” you will have a enjoy what you hear. If you’re deeply rooted in death metal I would recommend to go for the new Master album instead." - Markus' Heavy Music Blog
    $15.00
  • "To avoid any lingering confusion right from the outset,  you may already be aware of this band because AudioPlastik began life under a different name or names to be more precise. Both Alpha Flood and Brave New Sky were trialled before the trio settled on the name AudioPlastik. Whatever the name though, it’s a musical collaboration which will more than prick the ears of fans of progressive rock or metal music. The trio is fronted none other than Dec Burke, the vocalist for Darwin’s Radio and Frost* as well as being a well thought of solo artist in his own right. Dec also plays the guitar and is joined by the impressive duo of Simon Andersson (Darkwater, ex-Pain Of Salvation) and Threshold’s keyboardist Richard West. Being a fan of all of the names mentioned in the preceding sentences, I have naturally been very excited to hear the final product ever since a debut album was announced to see the light of day early this year.The album is due out in the very near future and goes by the title of ‘In The Head Of A Maniac’. With a title like this, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the content of this record might be a bizarre, challenging or even a wild schizophrenic beast. However, you’d be wrong, at least to a certain extent anyway. This is progressive music and as such, it does blend many ideas into its collective whole. But it is far from being impenetrable or a difficult listen.To be honest, the most difficult thing is to accurately describe the musical direction on ‘In The Head of a Maniac’. In itself it’s an absorbing listen full of wondrous aspects, one that is instantly likeable but ever more addictive as the number of spins increases. But to be more exact in order to offer a worthwhile review? Ok…If I was to try and sum this album up in a few words, I’d say it’s an absorbing blend of melodic progressive rock, metal and pop with rich cinematic overtones.Dealing with the latter aspect first, the cinematic, symphonic flavour can be heard right from the outset via the relatively brief instrumental opening. This is Richard West at his best, creating a piece of music which is subtly dramatic, emotive and pure film soundtrack fodder. In fact, much the same can be said of the even more dramatic ‘Traveller’ which is equally as enthralling and which could easily fit a suspense or action thriller.That said, West’s stamp is all over each of the thirteen compositions, bringing a rich elegance to proceedings just like he does with Threshold. Whether it’s via more subtle layers of atmospheric synths or more in-your-face modern-sounding embellishments, of which there are several (‘John Doe’) it always fits the song perfectly, providing a foundation of real depth and richness upon which all else is built.Next there’s the guitar playing of Burke and Andersson which is actually surprisingly heavy. Occasionally it is reminiscent in tone of numerous djent artists, particularly when the riffs chug in step with a rumbling bass (also courtesy of Andersson) and powerful drumming. ‘It Matters So Much’ illustrates this perfectly and is also a track that also greatly benefits from a rare and decadent lead guitar solo. This being prog, naturally many of the riffs play around with interesting, complicated tempos and time signatures but they are never complex for the sake of it and never detract from the essence of the songs. A prime example being ‘The Sound Of Isolation’ which contains a riff which befuddles my brain but which works in and around the simpler aspects of the song.One of the biggest strengths on this record however is its melodic sensibility. I mentioned earlier about the pop influences and its in the choruses that this is most noticeable. Just about every song has a hook or a melody that’s memorable. Some are immediate and others take a bit longer to work into the psyche. Regardless, they are there and many of them, alongside those modern programmed flourishes, lend the music that more mainstream feel. ‘Leave Me Here’ and the beautiful ‘Now’ for example, might not be out of place on mainstream popular radio. Elsewhere, ‘Bulletproof’ offers one of the most gorgeous choruses I’ve heard in recent times, ironic given that it’s also one of the heavier, busier tracks that packs a lot of light and shade as well as apparently disparate elements into its relatively short length. Oh and then there’s the stunning closer, ‘Distant Skies’ which pushes ‘Bulletproof’ very close, almost beating it depending on my mood when I listen.Then, to top things off, you’ve got the vocals of Burke. Those familiar with his other work with Frost* or Darwin’s Radio will know exactly what to expect and he doesn’t disappoint. Burke has a tone that’s very melodic and almost soothing but which also has a slightly rough, gritty edge to it that I really like. It means that the vocal delivery can fit both the softer, more introspective parts but which can also do justice to the heavier moments that require something a bit edgier vocally.As you can probably tell, I’m completely enamoured by this album. Almost imperceptibly, it has burrowed into my head and my heart and it refuses to let go. If your tastes dictate that you enjoy music that is rich and varied, deep and thoughtful, beautiful and genuinely unique, look no further than ‘In The Mind Of A Maniac’ by AudioPlastic. You won’t be disappointed." - Man Of Much Metal  
    $16.00