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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  • First album to feature Rob Halford upon his return. Its actually not bad! Found cheap import overstocks. Grab it!
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  • Armed Cloud is a new Dutch band that straddles the line between progressive metal and symphonic rock.  The vocalist moves in the stratospheric realms from time to time drawing Geddy Lee comparisons.  I'm particularly enjoying the keyboard solos which remind me immediately that I'm listening to Dutch "sympho"."Just by looking at the artwork, I knew this was gonna be a good album. Sometimes, you just know. The cover art reminded me Dream Theater's seminal album Awake with the wide array of details and the odd characters. I think it's charming and represents their genre pretty well as it's intricate and nuanced. Fortunately, the album lived to my expectations and it's one of the best progressive metal record I heard in 2015. Obsidian Desert, the debut album of Armed Cloud manages to be a modern yet interesting and fresh take on classic progressive metal/rock. The quintet has all the ingredients to play this complex form of music, an engaging bass presence, super talented guitarist and keyboardist, a singer who can actually sing very well and a versatile drummer who's not afraid to use some blastbeats.While they're obviously technically skilled and that's proven at numerous occasions by the guitar solos and the way the keyboard interacts with the rest of the instruments, they're very emotional and has this frank desire to write compelling songs instead of flashing their technicality, a concept often plaguing their peers, like the later Dream Theater work to give an obvious example. They have a symphonic flair intertwined with some pop tendencies but it's thoroughly enjoyable and it's not saccharine. I think the ballad “Meltdown” is really beautiful and fits their identity as it remains highly atmospheric.Daan Dekker has a particular voice, powerful and with a lot of range but it's also soft and rich. A track like “My Own Kind” is a good showcase of his abilities. For some reasons, I thought of Ray Alder when I first heard them but I enjoy him more than the Fates Warning frontman who never managed to beat John Arch in the heart of many. The vocal melodies are well written and the addition of some aptly placed back vocals add an epic touch to the songs (see “Pyramid of Charlatans”). In fact the band reminds me of the American legends from Connecticut in their capacity of mixing technicality, songwriting and emotions in one solid package. There's also some influences from progressive alternative rock like Muse, Gazpacho or later days Marillion in the vocal department and considering I'm a big fan of these bands as well, it's a big bonus for me.Augment their formula with obvious nods to the more progressive side of power metal (see Kamelot or even Angra) and you have a very solid mix of influences. Furthermore, compared to many progressive metal acts, their songs are cohesive and on the shorter side except perhaps the eight minute closer “Wasted” and the excellent “In Your Mind”. Sometimes, it feels like they're a more streamlined version of some of Ayreon's stuff. There's no fluff as the album is a little bit under a hour and it doesn't feel this long either. There's no self indulgent long ass instrumental track but there's a serene, symphonic one before the last track and it gives the listener a break and a change of atmosphere.To conclude, If you like your progressive metal with solid solos but still in possession of its soul, Armed Cloud is a band that you should check out." - Metantoine's Magickal Realm
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  • New edition of the band's album from 1991. Contains the bonus track "Sister Bluebird".
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  • I can't remember a buzz on a band's debut since Circus Maximus.  Perhaps due to the album being released in Japan a year ago and its unavailability elsewhere, maybe because they are lined up to play ProgPowerUSA.  Whatever the reason the album finally gets a wide debut and it was worth the wait.  Damnation Angels is a British symphonic metal band fronted by a Norwegian singer.  He goes by the name PelleK and was a contestant on Norway's version of X Factor.  The band's stock in trade is epic sounding metal that pays a huge debt to Kamelot.  The instrumental passages take on the grandeur and scope of Nightwish.  PelleK does a sold job out front - he's obviously listened to a Khan quite a bit.  Highly recommended.
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  • Epica finally releases a live set and in typical fashion its nothing short of over the top and immaculate. The performance was recorded as part of the Bartok + Miskolc International Opera Festival in Miskolc, Hungary on 6/14/08. The set starts out a bit weird...the orchestra starts off with some classical pieces and then they are joined by the band who kick in and energize these warhorse tracks. They even do some oddball covers of movie soundtrack music. Finally Simone Simons takes the stage and the band soars through a selection of material from their catalog - all with the backing of the orchestra. I don't think there is a DVD planned although I wish there was - this must have been a sight to see. Once again Epica are EPIC! Highest recommendation.
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  • With new kid on the block, Mike Mangini, fully assimilated into the group, Dream Theater has come up with a stunning new album.  Expect nothing less than full on prog (with a nice tip of the cap to Rush in spots). Enigma Machine may be the best instrumental piece they've cooked up yet.  Highly recommended.This is the CD/DVD deluxe edition.  It arrives in an embossed digipak with expanded artwork from Hugh Syme.  More importantly, the DVD contains a 5.1 mix of the album. 
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  • "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
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  • “Known/Learned’ is the third album from this thought provoking progressive band from Brisbane, Australia.  It’s a sprawling 2CD collection of themes and moments, captured between recurring characters. While never explicitly told in the traditional vein of the ‘concept album’, the imagery of Known/Learned depicts fragmented moments in the lives of a father and his daughter, their loss, their love, their journey. A bittersweet love song for life.Occupying a unique place in the Australian progressive music scene, Arcane’s transcendental live performances and 2009’s critically acclaimed, dark and enigmatic concept album 'Chronicles Of The Waking Dream' have earned them a inimitable reputation as one of Australia’s premier progressive rock bands.Sharing stages with artists as diverse as Anathema (UK), Soilwork (Swe), Queensryche (USA), Dead Letter Circus, Ne Obliviscaris and hundreds more, Arcane's live show, often accompanied by a backdrop of staggering visualizations, is a vast sensory experience.Arcane's immersive sound, and the vocals of Jim Grey quickly found favor throughout Australia, headlining the annual Progfest tour, providing touring support for Ne Obliviscaris, and performing to capacity crowds at Sonic Forge Festival in Melbourne. A crowd funding campaign in July, 2013 heralded the 2015 release of 'Known/Learned' a 16 track conceptual double album. Arcane blends the technicality of progressive metal with the atmospheric intensity of bands like Tool, Riverside and Anathema.  The world is about to discover what their Australian fan base already knows – that Arcane is a rising star in the world of progressive music.
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  • This is without question the most "prog" album The End has released on their label. Unexpect are a unique 7 piece ensemble from Quebec. It's somewhat hard to dissect this avant metal band but the closet comparison I can come up with is Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. Musicianship is insane - be it guitar, violin, keys, drums, or 9-string bass. The vocals are a predominantly clean mix of dual male/female harmonizing. It can be a cacophonous mix of shifting meters and then gorgeous melodies - all with the space of 30 seconds. A real grower of an album that really grabs your attention. Highly recommended.
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  • "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
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  • 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
  • Long awaited new album from this Israeli metal band. The music of Orphaned Land has extremely deep roots in their Israeli/Middle Eastern heritage. Melodies and even instrumentation are faithful to their region. Hmmm...I even think I hear some Mellotron strings here (must be cuz Steven Wilson produced this album!). The music is incredibly dynamic with gorgeous acoustic parts slamming into crushing slabs of metal. Vocals are a mix of clean and coarse and it all blends seamlessly. With repeated listens this might attain masterpiece status. Easily a top 10 release for 2010. Highest recommendation.
    $15.00