Killhammer

SKU: MASCD0823
Label:
Massacre Records
Category:
Power Metal
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"Mystic Prophecy is one of the best up and coming metal bands coming out of Germany. It’s hard to believe that Killhammer is the bands eighth studio album and the third with the current line up of RD Liapakis (vocals), Markus Pohl (Rhythm guitar), Laki Ragazas (Lead guitar), Connie Andreszka (Bass), and Tristan Maiwurm (Drums). The band straddle the fine line between energetic thrash, power, and classic heavy metal with finesse and have been cranking out albums since 2001. The band are just beginning to hit their stride, playing ProgPower USA metal festival in 2012.

The title track kicks things off with a blast of sinister metal aggression in the tradition of early Black Sabbath. Vocalist RD Liapakis’ gritty delivery fits the song perfectly. Armies of Hell takes things up a notch with pounding double bass drums of Tristan Maiwurm and blistering guitar riffs from lead shredder Laki Ragazas. The chorus is a raise your horns in the air shout-a-long. Their latest single/video for To Hell and Back is a sing-a-long mid tempo rocker with a melodic verse and a powerful memorable chorus with soaring harmony vocals. Kill the Beast is another fast paced high-octane metal anthem with a heavy verse and an almost thrash metal shouting chorus. Hate Black begins with a middle-eastern flair and kicks into a headbanging Metallica inspired mid tempo guitar riff reminiscent of the title track of their last album Ravenlord. A shred-tastic guitar solo by Ragazas. The next song Children of the Damned (no not the Maiden song!) is a pounding heavy and melodic metal skullcrusher. This is the type of song that the band excels at, a blend of heaviness and melody with a strong chorus.

The band shows their penchant for writing powerful thrash metal anthems with the blitzkrieg of 300 In Blood, which judging from the lyrical content, is based on the graphic novel/film 300. Angels of Fire is a power groove of a metal song with RD’s growling yet melodic vocals taking no prisoners during the chorus.

The boys take on epic fantasy war metal subject matter on Warriors of the Northern Sea and Set the World On Fire. The last track, a cover of the Ozzy classic Crazy Train, while well done, is unnecessary to cover such a renowned song and could have been left off the album to make way for another original song or to have a more cohesive effort with ten strong tracks. In comparing Killhammer with the bands previous effort Ravenlord, I found many similarities in the writing style between the two albums. The band knows their sound and they don’t try to push boundaries by incorporating different styles or genres into their music. Killhammer is exactly what it sets out to be, no frills, balls out heavy fucking metal, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that!" - Lady Obscure

 

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  • This was the fourth studio album for the band and their last with EMI Harvest as it was considered to be somewhat of a flop. I'm not sure why as it sounds pretty damn good to me! Lots of Mellotron goodness. Remastered edition comes with 10 bonus tracks!
    $13.00
  • "Sometimes, a band faces some adversities that delay the chance to release its hard work to the public. Not many, anyway, can "boast" what progressive rock dinosaurs Spettri have experienced. Founded in the Florence of 1964, the band's self titled and concept debut album was recorded in a single take, in 1972. Sadly, the album was frozen due to the decaying of the desire for this kind of music. That was, until 2011. 40 years later, Black Widow Records gave new life to Spettri, and the band began touring to support the album.What came from it, was the desire to make new music. Flash forward to 2015, 2973 La Nemica dei Ricordi picks up right where Spettri ended. The debut told the story of a protagonist struggling to find an answer to wars and hatred by connecting to the afterlife... only to give in to madness due to the enigmatic replies of the dead. Now, 1001 years later, that same person is still wandering. His new journey, beautifully depicted on the cover artwork, begins with the encounter of a giant ghost ship. Sailing on, the protagonist's destination is nothing but his inner self.Such an outlandish story is accompanied by equally crazy sounding compositions. Heavy Black Sabbath-like riff driven guitar work, haunting Hammond organ lines and piano sections, triumphant saxophone incursions, choirs and fittingly rough vocals make the perfect complement to the band's horror-esque image. Lending a hand are also two special guests. Elisa Montaldo (Il Tempio delle Clessidre), often requested as a keyboardist, is presented here as the lead vocalist for the ballad "Il Delfino Bianco", while Stefano Corsi plays some Celtic harp and harmonica in "L'Approdo". In addition, the album flows excellently in its theatrical nature. Everything leads to 2973 feeling way shorter than its actual length of almost 50 minutes, gaining in replayability.It has to be noted that 2973 does not seem to be made with the objective of being as accessible as possible. The song structures are far from predictable, and the guitar work is far from flashy. Instead, the electric guitar, while not discarding emotional solos, is used mainly to create an atmospheric road of tight riffing, while sax -for which the band has a stand-alone member- and keys often function as the main attraction. Besides, while fitting, the main (really) rough vocals and accent may not appeal to everyone and it is easy to see how the understanding of the language is likely to be a key factor for their appreciation. What also hinders the album a bit is a sense of repetition in the middle, where the title track can sound a little too similar to the latter part of the previous "Onda Di Fuoco". Still, 2973 proves to be a solid and coherent listen from beginning to end, with the gentle sound of the waves opening and closing the journey.Physically speaking, save for the shift to a more progressive songwriting leaving the psychedelic influence (and more prominent guitar playing) behind, nothing has changed since the debut album. Literally, the band decided to use the same instruments used for Spettri when recording 2973, de facto making it sound like the direct continuation of the former. The main difference is the production, this time not as raw and definitely more polished. Everything has been made to sound like it comes from the first half of the 70s, using analogue technologies and so releasing a real AAA LP.Unluckily, the moment of glory for Spettri arrived late. Still, the band does not seem to be worried. As stated in an interview, they want to recover the time they lost and are already setting the foundations for 'Spettri 3', while touring to support 2973. All in all, this album is not 'only' another promising gem for Italian progressive rock in 2015, it is also a testament of how time cannot stop the passion for writing and playing your music, without jumping on trends." - Sputnikmusic.com
    $25.00
  • "And straight out of left field…One thing you really don’t expect to hear these days is proper gothic/symphonic metal in the classic late 90’s-mid 00’s tradition.While a few bands have recently begun making overtures towards a return to form if not revitalization of a genre that’s been effectively moribund since 2008, many of them are veterans going back to the sound that made them famous in the first place.  Leaves Eyes come immediately to mind, as does a recent surprising move to the operatic frontlines from longstanding (if previously somewhat boring) second stringers Xandria, who proved that sometimes losing a few founding members can be the best thing that ever happened to a band*.*for another glaring example of this principle, see also Theatres des Vampires, who only became a truly notable venture under the ostensible leadership of the lovely Sonya Scarlet…But what happens when we’re not talking classic acts undergoing some measure of renewal?  Moreover, when we’re not only talking a brand spanking new outfit, but one that (get this) doesn’t even hail from European climes.  Say what the hell?But here you go, a self-released gem right out of that busy musical hotspot of Minnesota (of all places…and we’re not even talking a Prince related project here!).  While not as bombastic as, say, Phantom Agony/Consign to Oblivion era Epica, Leaves Eyes or Mother Earth/Silent Force era Within Temptation, keyboardist/guitarist Damien Villarreal and vocalist Chelsea Knaack have come together to make what may be the first actual gothic/symphonic metal offering to come out of the United States.Sure, we’ve had a gothic/death metal crossover act (Echoes of Eternity, though they’re at least part Canadian) and a few lower rung gothic cum pop radio acts (remember that lone album where anyone cared about Evanescence?  Good move breaking up with Ben Moody, there, Amy…), but actual symphonic metal with operatic vocals?  This is total bizarro world stuff over here, in a nation still (sadly) dominated by aggro acts, hip hop and tuneless, emotionless math metal and prog wannabes.So once you manage to get over the shock factor engendered by their domestic origin, how does the music rate?  Well, for one thing, Knaack taps into similar vocal range and dynamics to earlier Simone Simons, albeit with a bit more stiffness that calls Carmen Schaeffer of Coronatus to mind (though I’m betting she was aiming more for earlier Floor Janssen if not Tarja Turunen stylistically).The guitars are somewhere in the middle, managing to keep Villarreal’s fingers a whole hell of a lot busier than the standard chunka-chunka single note stutter rhythms that tend to be a genre standby.  This is a good thing, as is his ability to hold down a reasonably melodic solo or harmony lead fill on occasion; these certainly enhance the sound to an unusual degree and keep the listener more on their toes than fans of the genre are accustomed to.But is he a virtuoso guitar hero on any level?  Not in the least.  Consider him a rather competent, melodically oriented craftsman with light prog leanings (you can pick out the Fates Warning by way of Dream Theater aspirations in a few of the rhythmic choices and modulations, not to mention the mostly inobtrusive but omnipresent keyboards which he also provides).Rounding out the trio is drummer Jordan Ames, who offers equally competent drumming, which appropriately for the style is never very flashy or notable, but filled with enough stuttering polyrhythms, cymbal work and a dash of double bass-inflected kit runs to show the guy to be quietly accomplished (much like what I’m trying to get across about Villarreal).  Coming from the Shrapnel school back in the day, I prefer a lot more flash in my players, but there’s nobody here who’s less than superlative in their musical competencies.The one major failing, and one I find with far too many acts these days, irrespective of genre, age or nation of origin is a noticeable lack of soul.  Like comparing Jimmy Page to Carlos Santana or the guys in Queensryche to Randy Rhoads, while in the right general ballpark, there’s something central and essential that just isn’t there.While more effusive and warm than several likeminded European acts (as befits a trio of blustery, heart on the sleeve wearing Americans), there’s a certain unexpected coldness to the sound and lack of bombast that baffles somewhat.  More of a note of constructive criticism, much akin to chiding a favored student for the mistakes that kept him from getting an A+ instead of a B, but worth noting nonetheless.All told, if you’re a fan of gothic symphonic metal in the days before that scene became overcrowded with no-talents and pop radio leanings and have some measure of respect for progressive leanings in your metal (think Ray Alder-era Fates Warning far more than Jason McMaster-era Watchtower and you’ll get a clearer picture), you really don’t want to miss out on this one.The first US overture into the gothic symphonic revival delivers a very credible and respectable showing, and gets themselves some high marks in the bargain.  Good stuff." - Third Eye Cinema
    $12.00
  • Domestic jewelbox pressing with one bonus track."It’s always the highlight of my year when I discover a new “Who’s Who” of heavy metal, all-star line-up releasing a full-length album. Sometimes, they can really flop, sounding nearly identical to one of the member’s bands, like nothing at all has changed, and only release one album – maybe two. That being said however, some of these all-star mash-ups end up creating a freight train of hard-hitting heavy metal that doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. Sometimes they succeed in seemingly blending the influence from each member so perfectly that an entirely new and original sound comes soaring out of your speakers. Enter Ashes of Ares, the new project of ex-Iced Earth and Nevermore members, forming in 2012 and preparing the release of their debut, self-titled full-length in September.Fronting the band is truly a name that needs no introduction (though I plan to give one anyway), Matt Barlow. Despite the mile long “past members” list for American heavy metal band Iced Earth, Barlow fronted the band for the majority of their career thus far, boasting one of the most original and most recognized voices in American metal. He left the band, along with bassist (turned guitarist) Freddie Vidales in 2012 to focus on other acts, particularly Ashes of Ares. Joined by ex-Nevermore drummer, Van Williams, Ashes of Ares proves to live up to the destructive, war-drenched name the band has been given.The album runs up and down like a roller coaster from straight up thrashing, in your face American metal, to a more toned down and melodic side to the artists. It’s easy to hear the influence of all of the member’s past bands, yet they each definitely brought some new songwriting to the table. “The Messenger” opens the album up with a mellow and melodic guitar line, featuring Barlow’s insanely haunting, layered vocals. The chills immediately travel up my spine, right up until the song really kicks into gear. Moving on throughout the album, tracks “On Warriors Wings” and “This is My Hell” feature great groove, showcasing beautiful melodies and harmonies left and right between Barlow’s voice and the guitar lines. Meanwhile, the drum parts remain simple yet constructive, especially in “This is My Hell” where they are responsible for pushing along this musical tension, building-up to the song’s liberation. The falsetto vocal touches in this song really push it over the top for me, and it is easily my favorite moment on the album.While there are some tracks that get somewhat repetitive and lose my interest, the album redeems itself with “Chalice of Man” that hits hard and doesn’t let up. Immediately following is the album’s ballad-like moment, “The Answer”. Barlow soars above the music in the beginning, but the distorted guitar and bass lines answer quickly and the song picks up into a great tune. The lyrics are seriously emotional and heart-felt, which definitely isn’t lacking on the album (see “What I Am”), but it really sticks out on this song specifically. The slower tempo fits Barlow’s pipes perfectly, and the layered harmonies are flawless.As a whole, the album moves along unbelievably fast, despite the few tracks that do get repetitive. The songs are so creatively arranged, topped off with the god-like vocals of Matt Barlow, I really don’t see how anyone could pass up on this record. Right now, they have “Dead Man’s Plight” as a lyric video (see below), along with snippets of “The Messenger” and “The One Eyed King” on YouTube. If I still haven’t persuaded you on the music, have at it!I beg you to check out this new, unbelievable legacy that these men are creating! It will not disappoint!" - Metalholic
    $6.00
  • Complete gig from March 1997 at Billboard Live in Hollywood. Almost 2 1/2 hours long including bonus footage of the band rehearsing. Great set list stretching all the way back to the beginning and up through Harbour Of Tears.
    $24.00
  • "Refreshing, powerful, and extremely melodic – the adjectives I’d use at a push to describe Teramaze‘s 5th album. I have to admit I pretty much consider this their sophomore release as I was not party to their releases throughout the 90′s, with my first introduction to the band with their 2012 powerhouse ‘Anhedonia’ which quite ironically generated feels of anything but anhedonia. There has been an undeniable buzz around this release and I have found it virtually impossible to escape the widespread word and hype around this album anywhere I look online; generally I wouldn’t necessarily see this as categorically positive as it can taint your expectations unintentionally. Thankfully for the most part, my expectations and hopes with this album have been realised to the point that I welcome any melodic, thrash, progressive or otherwise metallically inclined music fan to check this 79-ish minute thematic conceptual monster.The initial impressions I have when comparing this with ‘Anhedonia’ is a development away from the slightly more thrash-oriented direction that I suspected was the impact of the members growing up in the era where that particular sub-genre beared its greatest fruits. I use the term development as I believe it has very much naturally progressed as compared to what I would consider a departure. The addition of more progressive structures and more varied layering works exceptionally well in Teramaze‘s favour to create a soundscape of in your face riffs, contemplative and brooding moods, earworm choruses, and timeless unity across the entire album.Without doubt one of the things that will grab listeners’ attention is the astonishing fretboard wizardry of band leader and Dean Well’s who treats us to undeniably wondrous smorgasbord of head nodding animosity (special mention to the riff at 2:02 in ‘Line of Symmetry’ – that will get you nodding with the mania of Jack Black), and emotive, creative, delicious lead playing that is akin to guitar heroes aplenty (Petrucci, Sfogli, Skolnick – just to name a few). The balance of great lead playing and rhythm work is a pleasure with nothing inappropriately overstated like one can sometimes expect of the genre. As a special addition, the tones are simply incredible on this album and it is glued perfectly with the bass and bonded by the fairydust keyboards that emerge to keep the sonic palette interesting (courtesy of Circadian Pulse keyboardist Dave Holley).The production is another point of veritable quality with all the instruments presented in a crystal clear state whilst maintaining vibe and not losing out to sterility which is a sad by-product of the self-produced musical climate of 2014. The only complaint I really have is that the mastering is a little hot which is noticeable after the first track (which was mastered in my ideal sweet spot). It sits at DR6 across the whole album on average which is nothing out of the ordinary for this day and age but it occasionally gets fatiguing especially over such a long record. Thankfully moment of distortion are kept to a minimum, however there are some trace elements of weakened transients and the occasional buried vocal that loses intelligibility.Vocalist Brett Rerekura is a joy to listen to and I am appreciative of the fact although his voice pushes the aggressive edge to fit the setting of the music, it is rich in melody and characteristic timbre and is not sabotaged with growls. Long live the singer in a metal band, I say! I detect glimmers of Layne Staley, Sebastian Bach and the rhythmic phrasing of James Hetfield. My only beef is the occasional “Aussieisms” I hear in some inflections which I am hyper-sensitive too (even though I’m Australian myself), however this doesn’t detract too much from what is a splendid vocal performance across the board. There are moments of supreme delicacy especially in ‘Bodies of Betrayal’ which I would have liked to have heard more of as well as a bit more of that delicate side to the band overall to give this album the dynamic curve it deserved. This is of course only a minor criticism.The album’s concept, while not narrative based centres around the experiential nature of deception; especially by that of governing bodies and the powers that be. I think the title of ‘Esoteric Symbolism’ is perfectly apt as this is not the viewpoint or mindset of everyone and best kept as the worldview of a particular minority of people. I think for some the lyrical approach could border on conspiracy but I like the exploratory nature of them and what is truly the harm in questioning some of the taken-for-granted “truths” we hold in this ever-changing world. Kudos to Teramaze for honestly and whole-heartedly fusing their beliefs with such hard-hitting music in a way that I see as completely lacking pretence.For me the standout tracks are ‘Bodies of Betrayal’, ‘Esoteric Symbolism’ (6:53 in this gives me goosebumps), and ‘viii In Vitro’ as I believe they hold the most profound emotional connection with me due to the individual moods they build. I have to admit the only track that I am not particularly keen on is the one with the guest vocals as I feel as though it breaks the flow of the album in a way that was superfluous to requirements. It came across as guests for guests sake which is probably my most direct criticism of the record.This is an exceptional release that stands up to my extremely critical ear and was only let down by perhaps a slight lack of expression with regards to dynamics (mastering and songwriting) across such a long album. Its length to some may indeed be a bit hard to swallow in single listens, however this is par for the course for me as a fan of long form writing. For fans of Metallica, Dream Theater, Alice in Chains and anyone who wishes to have a boot up the bum and an electrode to the brain from an ambitious and highly satiating album." - Metal Obsession
    $12.00
  • "Live release from the British modern classic rock band. In 2014, Mostly Autumn released the highly acclaimed Dressed in Voices. They decided, after much consideration, that the concept album Dressed in Voices deserved to be played live in its entirety at every show. It proved to be the right decision and seemed to hold audiences spellbound, so much so that they were overwhelmed with requests for a live recording and here it is! Box of Tears - named after the final track on the album - is a live version of Dressed in Voices recorded during the band's 2014 tour. Winners of Best Live Concert and Best Female Vocalist 2014 in the Classic Rock Society awards, they have earned themselves a name for their outstanding live shows and have been described as 'the best band you have never heard'. The album really comes alive in a concert environment and the emotion shines through - you can hear a pin drop between songs as the audience becomes enthralled in the drama."
    $14.00
  • "Listening to Cardiacs, I get the mental image of a deranged gerbil in a hole somewhere composing music. Although at one point he may have been content to write jingles and fine- tuned pop ditties in exchange for sunflower seeds, Cardiacs represents everything past the point where the gerbil loses his grasp on reality and becomes wrapped up in creative fervor. Now unabated by mundane rodent things, the gerbil and his music fall deeper into madness. Although this may not do well to describe Cardiacs’ manic mix of punk rock and avant-prog, it should give a good indicator of the feeling “Sing to God” gives me as a listener. It’s catchy, experimental, and about as close to the peppy end of a manic depressive episode as I imagine music could aptly depict. Really, it’s pop music beyond words or sense, and I can’t seem to get enough of it.Among other things, punk music arose as an opposition to the bombast and overcomplexity of progressive rock. In lieu of this, it’s quite the irony to see Cardiacs not only fusing the two styles together, but doing so as if prog and punk were made for each other. “Sing to God” runs the gamut in terms of styles: a sense of symphonic bombast comparable to Yes is mixed with Beatles-esque baroque pop sensibilities and injected with the venom of pub- dwelling punk rock. These sounds- which would often conflict with each other in the ‘real’ world- are all fused with a viciously tongue-in-cheek attitude pleasantly reminiscent of Frank Zappa. I could also compare the band’s overdubbed vocal harmonies to Queen, or the general ‘what-the-hell-am-I-listening-to’ atmosphere to Mr. Bungle, but Cardiacs ultimately stand on a ground of their own. Did I forget to mention that the band manage to make this experimental chaos as catchy as the plague?Many of the songs on “Sing to God” rest on a tightrope between order and chaos. Many of the songs enjoy a level of comfort in catchy instrumental hooks and quaint vocal melodies. With the exception of a few tracks (most notably the cinematic-worthy “Dirty Boy”, the unsettling soundscape “Quiet as a Mouse” and some of the shorter musical sketches), the majority of “Sing to God” boasts a foundation in good old fashioned songwriting. Vocalist and mastermind Tim Smith has a zany and wildly charismatic voice that would have even fit comfortably into British alternative rock canon, were it not for the extent Cardiacs take their basic elements and contort them. Although some elements are best kept as a surprise for fresh listeners, be sure to expect everything from ‘chipmunk vocals’ to film score flourishes, classically-influenced pianos, circus music, hyperpunk rhythmic energy and everything in between. Of particular note are the extra-wacky tunes “Dog-Like Sparky”, “A Horse’s Tale” and “Dirty Boy”, a longer piece that gets remarkably profound and damned near celestial by the end of it. Tim Smith’s lyrics are a world of their own, and though there’s not often the sense that there’s an explicit meaning behind the absurdity, they’re absolutely fascinating within the context of such a chaotic album. Although- at an hour and a half- the album may be a little long for one comfortable sitting, there is no filler to speak of, although the first half is decidedly better than the latter.In spite of the zany effects, absurdly surreal lyrics, wall-of-sound production and mile-per- second flow of ideas, Cardiacs remain- at their core- a pop band, and “Sing to God” remains a pop album. In the end, it’s the interplay between the hyper-weird and catchy elements therein that makes the album so bloody fascinating. Depending on where your mental state may be at the time of listening, it will either be a trip through the most euphoric hyperparadise dreams could forge, or a reality-distrupting soundtrack to nightmares. Whatever way it may strike, “Sing to God” is pretty unforgettable, and it just may be the greatest experimental rock record I have ever had the strained pleasure of listening to." - Prog-Sphere
    $34.00
  • "Axel Rudi Pell played a 25 years anniversary show lat year as part of the Bang Your Head festival in Balingen, Germany. The guitar wizard invited many friends for this special night. The result was an impressive setlist, containing hits from ARP and classic hardrock tunes from bands like Deep Purple and Rainbow.My highlight was that also some Steeler songs have been played. Steeler released two great records in the 80's that contain real metal pearls. Great to hear those anthems again.The gig was recorded and it will be released end of April this year as Digipak 3 CD, Digipak 3 DVD (NTSC, code free), Blu-ray and download. Great metal stuff is coming...." - Markus' Heavy Music BlogCall der princess - SteelerNight after night - SteelerRockin' the city - SteelerUndercover animal - SteelerNasty reputation - Rob Rock, Joerg MichaelWarrior - Jeff Scott Soto, Joerg MichaelFool fool - Jeff Scott Soto, Joerg Michael(Current ARP Band):Burning chainsStrong as a rockLong way to goHey hey my myMysticaInto the stormToo late / Eternal prisoner / Too lateThe masquerade ball / CasbahRock the nation​Drum battle - Vinnie Appice, Bobby RondinelliBlack night - Ronnie AtkinsSympathy - John LawtonTush - John LawtonMistreated - Doogie White, Tony Carey, Johnny GioeliSince you've been gone - Graham Bonnet, Michael Voss, Doogie WhiteLong live rock'n'roll – Doogie White, Graham Bonnet, Tony CareySmoke on the water – all guests
    $21.00
  • "German band Argos have delivered four albums since forming out of a solo project begun by multi- instrumentalist Thomas Klarmann in 2008, and their latest `A Seasonal Affair' is a standout release in 2015. They present a mix of symphonic prog, 80's Neo Prog, New Wave elements, folk, jazz and even dark theatrical drama. Despite the Neo Prog tag, this is hardly some slavish recreation of the likes of Marillion, Genesis, I.Q, with many contemporary and modern elements worked in, and a strong emphasis is placed on Robert Gozon's distinctive voice, which occasionally calls to mind not only Peter Hammill and Fish, but the second Arena vocalist Paul Wrightson who featured on their `Pride' and `The Visitor' in a few moments as well.`Vanishing' makes for a mysterious opener, with Gozon's raspy croon, gothic piano trickles and a mix of twitchy programmed and Ulf jacob's skittering live drumming. A definite 80's poppier Neo Prog flavour permeates `Divergence' with its boisterous chorus chant that wouldn't have sounded out of place on those early Twelfth Night albums and no shortage of Moog soloing, and the `How did it come to this?' finale is lovely. `Silver and Gold' drifts into slinky grooving 80's New Wave pop with tasty scratchy Mellotron slices, the symphonic schizophrenia of `Lifeboats' channels both the vulnerability of Fish-era Marillion with an overwrought Hammill-esque wail, and the multi-part twelve minute suite `Not in This Picture' combines acoustic pastoral moods with Big Big Train-like soft harmonies and endless instrumental interplay.The title track `A Seasonal Affair' marries sombre piano and flute with romantic Camel-like guitar/synth bursts, a gothic crooned vocal and a dreamy `A Trick of the Tail'-era Genesis outro. `Forbidden City' is a tasteful lightly jazzy instrumental, glistening with electric piano, quirky synth trills and fluid drumming with murmuring bass weaving in and out, and just a few hints of the Canterbury sound bands in Thomas Klarmann's flute. Melancholic closer `Stormland' closes the album in gloomy fashion with spectral organ drones and a grand guitar solo from Rico Florczak filled with power and genuine emotion.But most special of all and deserving of mention all its own is the lovely ballad `Silent Corner'. A gorgeous mix of Thomas' drifting flute and restrained saxophone courtesy of United Progressive Fraternity musician Marek Arnold, delicate acoustic guitar and electric piano tiptoes, and the soothing chorus and harmonies throughout could have easily fit on Big Big Train's last few albums. It offers plenty of crossover appeal, and it easily one of the best melodic moments to appear on a prog album in 2015.The Tangent's Andy Tillison (who actually contributes some keyboards on this disk) rates this album very highly, and it's not hard to see why it would appeal to him. Like with The Tangent, Argos places a distinctive vocalist with great character in his voice front and centre in the music, with strong melodies, a wondrous mix of keyboard variety and brief jazzy diversions all coming together. `A Seasonal Affair' is a very subtle grower, and modern Neo albums don't come much finer than this, nor offer as much variety with the style as Argos do here. It's an album that has kind of flown a little under the radar and is in need of some more praise and attention, by a highly skilled band deserving of more acknowledgement.Four stars - If you're a Neo fan, this should be an essential purchase!" - ProgArchives
    $15.00
  • Latest from this Italian band create an intelligent mix of folk and power metal.  Love that violin!  Era is spiced up with some special guests: Jon Oliva, Teemu Matysaari (Wintersun), and Maurizio Cardullo (Folkstone).
    $15.00
  • "After successfully establishing themselves as one of America's best commercial progressive rock bands of the late '70s with albums like The Grand Illusion and Pieces of Eight, Chicago's Styx had taken a dubious step towards pop overkill with singer Dennis DeYoung's ballad "Babe." The centerpiece of 1979's uneven Cornerstone album, the number one single sowed the seeds of disaster for the group by pitching DeYoung's increasingly mainstream ambitions against the group's more conservative songwriters, Tommy Shaw and James "JY" Young. Hence, what had once been a healthy competitive spirit within the band quickly deteriorated into bitter co-existence during the sessions for 1980's Paradise Theater -- and all-out warfare by the time of 1983's infamous Kilroy Was Here. For the time being, however, Paradise Theater seemed to represent the best of both worlds, since its loose concept about the roaring '20s heyday and eventual decline of an imaginary theater (used as a metaphor for the American experience in general, etc., etc.) seemed to satisfy both of the band's camps with its return to complex hard rock (purists Shaw and JY) while sparing no amount of pomp and grandeur (DeYoung). The stage is set by the first track, "A.D. 1928," which features a lonely DeYoung on piano and vocals introducing the album's recurring musical theme before launching into "Rockin' the Paradise" -- a total team effort of wonderfully stripped down hard rock. From this point forward, DeYoung's compositions ("Nothing Ever Goes as Planned," "The Best of Times") continue to stick close to the overall storyline, while Shaw's ("Too Much Time on My Hands," "She Cares") try to resist thematic restrictions as best they can. Among these, "The Best of Times" -- with its deliberate, marching rhythm -- remains one of the more improbable Top Ten hits of the decade (somehow it just works), while "Too Much Time on My Hands" figures among Shaw's finest singles ever. As for JY, the band's third songwriter (and resident peacekeeper) is only slightly more cooperative with the Paradise Theater concept. His edgier compositions include the desolate tale of drug addiction, "Snowblind," and the rollicking opus "Half-Penny, Two-Penny," which infuses a graphic depiction of inner city decadence with a final, small glimmer of hope and redemption. The song also leads straight into the album's beautiful saxophone-led epilogue, "A.D. 1958," which once again reveals MC DeYoung alone at his piano. A resounding success, Paradise Theater would become Styx's greatest commercial triumph; and in retrospect, it remains one of the best examples of the convergence between progressive rock and AOR which typified the sound of the era's top groups (Journey, Kansas, etc.). For Styx, its success would spell both their temporary saving grace and ultimate doom, as the creative forces which had already been tearing at the band's core finally reached unbearable levels three years later. It is no wonder that when the band reunited after over a decade of bad blood, all the music released post-1980 was left on the cutting room floor -- further proof that Paradise Theater was truly the best of times." - Allmusic Guide
    $8.00
  • New remixed, remastered edition with a bonus track and additional vocal and keyboard passages."My fellow BW&BK scribe (and boss) Chris Bruni described this album as "a masterpiece for the ages." Whether or not this description sounds hyperbolic even by metal scribe standards, well, that's a decision to be reached by the ages, I suppose. The specifity of this masterpiece (and it is) deserves clear focus. The Swedish doom metal outfit has passed beyond the promise of their debut to crystalize into one of two great bands striving for a seat on metal's highest throne-- the other one, naturally, being Opeth. But more about them soon!"Ghost of the Sun" sets the quality standard that the rest of the album more than exceeds. The Beatlesque harmonies are just the beginning. And not to profane any purist ears, but if you can stand the thought of emopunks The Ataris, whose videos blanket MTV and annoying popups dominate MP3 sites -- anyway, if you can stand the thought of The Ataris being cited in the same breath as Swedish doom, well, let's just say these guys are on the same page, a page called nostalgia.Let's be blunt: if you have a heart, Katatonia will break it. Whether it's the mournfully accepting Beatles reference in "Ghost of the Sun" -- "You said hello/I said goodbye," or it's charging chief riff, like a crystal shard through hope's molecular structure, or the way Jonas Renske's voice breaks like fragile glass and coheres around a cool determination; whether it's "the way the light hits the room" in "Criminals," in which love and its denial are coded in the discourse of penalism [check out Foucault's Discipline and Punishfor more on this]; or the coda, "Inside the City of Glass," which as the 13th song at the same time completes the cycle begun on "Ghost" -- there's so many layers, and rich at that, on this album that all I can say further is, buy it and cherish it. Chris is right." - Sea Of Tranquility
    $14.00
  • "Is it just me, or does it seem like every album I review this year comes from Italy? Hearing Fogalord’s debut album described as “melodic power metal” and seeing that that band was signed to Limb for the release was really all I needed to dive right in without a backwards glance.Well, it’s a darn good thing that I’m so steeped in the genre, or I might have become quickly disillusioned with Fogalord’s (more on that name, shortly) shamelessly energetic performance of what many would undoubtedly label “standard” Euro-power. You’ve heard this line at Black Wind a hundred times before, and you’ll hear it a hundred times again before I bury my brightly-colored fluttering power metal banner: there’s not much that’s original about A Legend To Believe In, but boy, is it ever a fun album to listen to!Grand orchestral synths (and a surprisingly varied number of keyboard sounds) support the multitalented lead singer/keyboardist Dany All in his support (I think?) of the Fog Lord’s name. That’s right, the core of the band is one ambitious fellow (and he’s also the keyboard player and programmer for Synthphonia Suprema, another old Italian heartthrob of mine. In fact, it turns out that 3 of the 4 members of Fogalord hail from that band). If I’m not mistaken, this is another cheesy fantasy concept album bent on either the victory or defeat of the Fog Lord (the lyrics aren’t always the most intelligible, and I have a promo copy). It doesn’t really matter, since no one listens to Italian fantasy power metal for its stories anyways (I’m looking at you, Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody Of Fire).Ok, as much as I’m avoiding taking this album seriously, there’s real talent here, and it isn’t only present in the swirling, masterfully atmospheric synths. The guitar work is really quite good. There’s a lack of real guitar focus, but once in a while Stefano Paolini rips loose a salvo or two before he smugly slips back into his supporting rhythm role. Drums and bass thunder on in good sync, but if Fogalord breaks the standard Italian power metal mold in some way, it’s that they show admirable restraint at some times. Sure, there’s a ton of charging double bass, but we’ve got a whole lot of material to break it up, and it never gets to the point where my musical nerves are rubbed raw by unceasingly high tempos.The best music on this album is well-spread. Opener “At The Gates Of The Silent Storm” is solid, but “The Fog Lord” is where the band rips things wide open. This might as well be the title track (because I don’t know what else “Fogalord” could mean) for all its grandeur and memorability, and I’ve been listening to it almost daily since this album came up for review. The anthemic title track (the actual one, this time) “A Legend To Believe In” and the crashing and varied “The Day Of Fire” help round out an album that’s really a great representation of quality key-focused Italian power metal.Though its predictability and disinterest in musical trailblazing will ensure that A Legend To Believe In won’t turn the heads of any non-Euro metal fans, there’s enough great headbanging content here to make it an excellent selection for fans of this very happy, melodic corner of the genre.  I recommend it highly myself for fans of Highlord, Rhapsody, Derdian, and, of course, Synthphonia Suprema. Ideal for birthday parties, baby showers, and funeral wakes." - Black Wind Metal
    $8.00