Limitless

SKU: SC278-0
Label:
Scarlet Records
Category:
Power Metal
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"Temperance is back with the sophomore release “Limitless” and as predicted/foreshadowed, the album takes a more distinctive directional turn towards Amaranthe, but fortunately, with enough Delain and Italian songwriting/musicianship to balance. Over the year since the release of the debut from the musicians who were once known as Bejelit, I began padding my mind with enough psychic cushion to soften the distraction of glitzy "popcore" keyboards while straining to hear what lies beneath. Pushing aside the glitz will reveal the heart of Italian power/progressive still beating – one that produces excellent songwriting, fantastic solos and a vocalist who can actually sing rather than belt out "Cavalleria Rusticana." If you can bear the glamour and core style vocal distractions, in many ways “Limitless” is superior to its predecessor. Unfortunately, even a strong will may not be able to overcome.

Let's get one thing straight - a band should not be faulted for trying to make a living. What many call “selling out” is akin to deciding that every band must cater to the whim of every listener, with no care towards the lives musicians try to lead – especially in this day and age. Temperance has molded its sound in a way to make itself globally appealing, keeping an ear to the trends that will allow the group to circle the globe and realize a dream. This doesn’t mean everyone has to like that style, just look around – there are thousands of bands that can garner one’s attention. The same can be said for Amaranthe, which has cracked the U.S. market, sadly something that Olof Morck’s incredible fantasy power metal act DragonLand has yet to do. Temperance recently cracked the U.S. market and “Limitless” will only widen the door to hopefully an east coast run.

What “Limitless” presents is a formula that is currently hot: the three singer mold – one female, two male (harsh/clean) - and elements of symphonic, pop, core, Scar Symmetry-esque modern metal, all creating a symbiotic relationship. It all boils down to whether you find it palatable or not. Apparently, this works and finds appeal with a large fanbase – where fans can bounce and have their fun. I’m sure hordes of teenage fans will fall for tracks like “Here & Now” and “Save Me.” Temperance plays it so well and is actually superior to bands like Amaranthe because rarely do the Italians completely abandon their roots. Patience and endurance will reveal that the heart of Bejelit still beats. You may take the renaissance out of Italian metal, but you can never take away that neo-classical training. It still shines…just buried beneath overbearing modernization.

You can hear it in songs like “Side By Side” and “Burning,” two of the best songs the band has written, the former being the favorite. Marco Pastorino is among Italy’s best guitarists (with a voice to boot) and his riffs, solos, and melody lines are as great as ever, even if they are completely slathered by techno/dance style keys. Chiara is as uber talented as she is super attractive. However, if it were up to me, nixing the keyboards completely along with the harsh core vocals would allow the real music to breathe, but surely that would undermine what the band is trying to accomplish here. Bottom line…we don’t always get what we want. Other notable tracks include the Delain inspired tracks “Amber & Fire” and “Stay," "Mr. White," and the gorgeous piano driven “Goodbye.”

As far as production, “Limitless” sounds top notch and expertly mixed. You can take Simone Mularoni’s name as your stamp of auto-perfection. For fans seeking bands with supercharged pop, core, modern influenced styles along the lines of Amaranthe, Temperance plays it with more style and grace than all of them. For fans of the classical influenced power/progressive style of Bejelit – it really is still there, only entombed behind a wall of glitz for which it will take “limitless” concentration to block the distractions." - Metal Underground

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    $12.00
  • "Chapter 1, the debut album from Level 10 is the first collaboration between vocal powerhouse Russell Allen (Symphony X, Adrenaline Mob) and bassist/producer/writer Mat Sinner (Primal Fear, Voodoo Circle) Frontiers President, Serafino Perugino initiated the duo to team up for the creation of a new Metal project which could melt the more contemporary sound of Adrenaline Mob with the more traditional European Power Metal melody and aggression.Sinner enlisted his Primal Fear/Voodoo Circle bandmates Randy Black (on drums) and Alex Beyrodt (on guitar) and Roland Grapow (ex Helloween, MasterPlan, Serious Black) and Alessandro Del Vecchio (Hardline, Voodoo Circle) to complete the lineup on lead guitar and keyboards respectively. On the songwriting side – besides the band members – the album features the songwriting talents of Magnus Karlsson, Carsten Schulz, Ralf Scheepers, Johann Fiegl, Sander Gommans and Amanda Somerville.For those fans of Russell Allen who were expecting Symphony X, you will be slightly disappointed, aside from Allen’s trademark pipes, there is not much here resemble Symphony X’s brand of neo-classical prog metal. By the same token, those fans of Allen who fear the agro-vocals and Godsmack-esque brand of “modern heavy rock”, can breathe easy, as the music on Chapter One leans closer to Euro power metal than mainstream hard rock.The album opener, Cry No More kicks off with a vengeance, with a guitar riff that would sound at home on one of Voodoo Circle albums. Allen’s vocals are powerful during the verses and soar on the multi-harmony chorus. Del Vecchio adds a 70’s moog synth sound on the keys and Black pounds the drums mercilessly. There is a crunchy, heavy groove on the mid-tempo Soul of the Warrior, featuring stellar vocal work on the chorus and a catchy as hell chorus. The tempo picks up with an 80’s sounding rocker with a driving beat, heavy chugging guitar rhythms, and Allen sounding aggressive while still maintaining his trademark melodic voice. The chorus features another killer multi-harmony vocal and Beyrodt and Grapow get to flex their muscles during the harmony guitar solo.The album takes a more AOR tone on the heavy rock anthem One Way Street, which has a 70’s Bad Company meets Motley Crue’s Dr. Feelgood feel to it. Randy Black’s percussion skills are on center stage, showing why Black is one of the most versatile drummers in power metal today. The albums first single titled Blasphemy has the symphonic bombast of European power metal and Allen’s voice is at it’s most evil sounding during the vocals and shows off his upper register during the chorus.Last Man On Earth is another hard rock song with a great hook and sing-a-long chorus, which does get a little repetitive after a few listens but I guess that’s what why they call it a hook! Scream And Shout is another old school power mental anthem straight out of the 80’s with it’s, for lack of a better word, *shout* a-long chorus. The guitar harmonies and shredding solo section blend in perfectly and Black’s double bass drumming drives the song once again.Allen flexes his vocal muscles on the mid-tempo rock of Into The Wilderness, using his upper register as only he can. The song itself isn’t as memorable as some of the other material on the album save for the chorus, which has some fine harmony vocal work. The requisite piano power ballad All Is Gone is a fitting showcase for Russell Allen’s amazing vocal prowess, even though the song itself sounds like a combination of Symphony X’s When All Hope Is Lost and something off of one of the Allen/Lande albums, which is not surprising since Magnus Karlsson is one of the credited songwriters here.The crushing riff of Demonized brings the heavy power metal with Russell at his most sinister sounding. For those fans wanting to hear something heavy, this one is for you. Chugging guitar rhythms, aggressive vocals, pounding drums, and shredding solos, this one has it all, a headbangers delight! The groove-heavy Soul Is Enternal has a mid-tempo fist pumping rhythm with Allen using a more soulful vocal approach during the verses and letting loose during the chorus.The album closer Forevermore is a power metal classic filled with melody, a HUGE multi-vocal harmony chorus and superb vocals from Allen and guest Ralf Scheepers vocals are quite noticeable in the mix. This song is probably the closest to the sound of Primal Fear and tied with Cry No More for my favorite song on the album. In an age where so-called supergroups are becoming more prevalent, Level 10’s debut album finds itself in the upper echelon, even if its destiny is to be a one off studio project, only time will tell." - Lady Obscure
    $14.00
  • "There have been those times in man’s life where he tells himself that he had enough with everything that had been going on surrounding his ordinary environment. Aside from the warmth of family life or even by choosing, the soothing loneliness, there are the proceedings of the society such as the corrupt politics and fragmentary feast for power that seemed to be endless without a care for future consequences. So how one can escape such a world where everything seemed to be blackened, not like a starless night, but by mankind itself that commences various of actions without thinking first? The answer might be running away but to where? The only answer is to the far reaches of space by cunningly stealing a spaceship. Though it sounds like a story from the far future when space travel is available, but it has a sense it in and can also be inferred to the spiritual form of the works of the mind and how it can escape reality while submerging into an altered universe of hopes and dreams about better life. Well, I will stop here with the philosophical debate with myself, though it is rather intriguing. The purpose of my gibbering your thinking patterns is because it highly relates to the new concept album by the Italian Power Metal band, VISION DIVINE. “Destination Set To Nowhere”, released via earMUSIC / Armoury Records, is the Metal journey and your new Star Trek across the vast space in finding new fortunes and ideologies without forgetting where the warmth of home lies.I have to tell you that it has been really difficult to not keep on discussing VISION DIVINE’s ideas regarding this fascinating story that though sounds pretty simple it harbours so many standpoints that a whole article can be written on top of their basis. However, there is also the Metal behind the philosophical mind that created this story. Nearly like every Power Metal band coming from Europe, VISION DIVINE has been storming in high speeds without letting of the so important melodic touch, an element that has been chief for the large majority of European Metal bands of the kind. Olaf Thorsen(nickname of Carlo Andrea Magnani), guitarist of the veteran Power Metal band LABYRINTH, created this beast as a side project but it got into something more. While along the years massing some of the greatest talents of the Italian scene, including the special recruitment of RHAPSODY OF FIRE’s top notch frontman, Fabio Lione, VISION DIVINE, the way I see it, has been able to assert itself as the Italian STRATOVARIOUS, but in a much higher level, while when it came down to musical quality and tenacity topping their own local mother bands as RHAPSODY OF FIRE and LABYRINTH. Right from its foundation, while perfecting their style year after year, including this here release, that for me is the band’s greatest achievement, VISION DIVINE spread their high regard for melodic Power Metal but with such musical sophistication that took them into towering altitudes and even into the world of Progressive Metal with slight similarities to DREAM THEATER and ANUBIS GATE.As far as the diverse course of “Destination Set To Nowhere”, I believe that VISION DIVINE were able to entice with such profound technical abilities and incredible skills to create wonderful tracks that seem to be endless. Throughout the entire release I was trying to relive the lives of that men and women on that spaceship running away from the frustrations of Earth. The intense and clever riffing, rhythms, great keyboards layers and miscellaneous drumming, like fast paced heart beats of hundreds of people, aided on understanding what went on through the stages of the story, where is the next destination in the land of nowhere. On top of those all there is the magnificent vocal line by a voice that is so smooth and clear but also has its own deadly Hyde creeping from its cage from time to time. I can’t really break this tracklist into lone tracks because I believe that this entire release is something that you ought to experience in full. Of course that I have my personal choices regarding preferred tracks, and I am used to provide clear cuts, yet for the sake of the story and the effort that was spent on the material, I will leave you to decide which part of this journey suits you more. Generally, VISION DIVINE is offering you an accessible showcase of musical prowess and utter creativity to step into what could be in the not so far future, and maybe help you to think to who or what idea do you mark your ballot for. “Destination Set To Nowhere” certainly became one of my candidates for the album of year for 2012." - METAL TEMPLE
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  • This is the complete audio of the performance with the Metropole Orchestra. Recommended to the visually impaired.
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  • "Every year since I have started listening to metal music I have always somehow got myself in the comforting grip of a brilliant solo album that doesn’t heavily rely on singing. Whether discovered or newly released, it’s nice for the instruments to do the talking when you see names like Steve Vai cropping up on the new releases shelf in HMV. Gus G is mainly recognised as the guitarist for Firewind, but he’s also the guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne and raised his profile even higher as a sensational guitarist. He finally gets to shred until he bleeds, and he has help from Jeff Scott Soto, Elize Ryd, Jacob Bunton and Mats Leven to lend their vocals to Brand New Revolution. With plenty of bands and experience, Gus G will have the spotlight shining upon his strong posture.The Quest already pumps you up for what is yet to come on the album. It’s absolutely incredible. An action-packed, energetic introduction that fades out softly into the album title track as Bunton sings on that as well as Burn and We Are One. All of these have a savage hard rock sound that stamps its way along the audio waves that are shooting through my headphones with excellent solos (what else would you expect?) that sizzle that brain of mine like bacon on a grill. Elize Ryd lends her vocals on What Lies Below, adding some aggression and crunch to the album, making way for the ballad Behind Those Eyes. Jeff Scott Soto provides his legendary voice on Gone To Stay, returning to the hard rock vibe Bunton provides along with One More Try. This song is sandwiched between ballads, decent ballads to be precise.Come Hell or High Water is the first song to feature Mats Leven, possibly one of my favourites on the album, along with his last two If It Ends Today and The Demon Inside. His vocals screeching through these songs something to behold, as it is with the vocalists on this album. If It Ends Today is added to the soft rock list, as the ballads on this album aren’t ‘80s glam cheesy it makes this album essential. Scott Soto has one last song with Generation G that is in between the latter two of Leven’s tunes, a song that has a similar vibe to Youth Gone Wild by Skid Row when it comes to uniting a group of people one way or another, it’s uplifting. The Demon Inside finishes this album with slow tempo and crunching riff and catchy chorus, fading out quickly.Brand New Revolution is a remarkable listen, for those guitar fanatics who are just expecting instrumental songs from a guitarists solo album will be hushed by The Quest as well as Gus G‘s incredible talent that shifts through the album. It’s blend of hard rock and ballads often made me think of Whitesnake, but only for the mix of moods, not the sound. The vocalists were an absolute treat to listen to and the production work from Jay Ruxton and Mike Fraser was just perfect. Brand New Revolution does everything perfectly to show that Gus G doesn’t fuck about, he has stuck to his guns and fired out this monstrous yet honourable album." - Heavy Magazine Australia
    $12.00
  • Remastered edition comes with bonus material - the single version of "Highways To The sun" plus six liv tracks recorded for BBC In Concert. Mark Powell pulled out all the stops with detailed liner notes. Richard Sinclair replaced Doug Ferguson on bass and Mel Collins joined on sax. This took the music in a bit of a Canterbury direction. Its a masterpiece.
    $9.00
  • "“Memories Of An Ancient Time”represents the second chapter of the trilogy start with "Countdown to Revenge" two years ago. HOLLOW HAZE has recently parted ways with singer Fabio Lione ( RHAPSODY, ANGRA, KAMELOT), But luckily the Italians, in person but shortly after it announced that Mats Leven (Y. MALMSTEEN, THERION, CANDLEMASS), Rick Altzi (MASTERPLAN, At VANCE) and Amanda Somerville took part in the recording sessions as very special guest singers. Their new and sixth album, that is set to be released on upcoming June’15 by Scarlet Records.This second saga will take you on an epic journey through the desert of Egypt, meeting the aliens, special mention to the amazing artwork realised by Stan W. Decker. This “Memories Of An Ancient Time” has been mastered by Mika Jussila (NIGHTWISH, APOCALYPTICA, CHILDREN OF BODOM) at Finnvox Studios in Helsinki, Finland, and as usually, Mika has done a good job, the production is magestic.“Memories Of An Ancient Time” is a mix of progressive meets power meets symphonic meets heavy metal, fast guitar riffs, neat double bass, magical and orchestral arrangements, big and beautiful choirs in the chorus, you can easily sing along all the songs, especially due to that the songs are relatively short compared to the first album of this trilogy.All the duets between Mats Leven & Amanda Somerville are all well done, Rick is mostly heard in the background, all the lead vocals are on the Mats‘s shoulders. As usual, Mats Leven has often proven, in the past, that he can carry an complete album. Whether by Y. MALMSTEEN or with THERION (even if i prefer his vocal performance with the guitar hero), he always convinced me with his charismatic voice, and he does this time again. HOLLOW HAZE has done the best choice with Mats for sure. Note the female choirs by Amanda & Claudia are just so sweet and touch your heart with their tender melodies. Everything else is fine, there is plenty of tunes (especially in the choruses), as know so well the Italian bands in this style.Its a bombastic album, but you need to hear the first part of the saga to understand, where the band wants to take you,  so you need also to buy the CD with the booklet included to jump into the lyrics and not download MP3! To finish his review, if you’re a fan of this style of metal, you still take pleasure to listen to this “Memories Of An Ancient Time” in a few years.This is already a classic! An emotional masterpiece!" - Metal Temple
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  • "My countrymen of The Quill are back with a new album, another one to add to their collection of albums which now equates to seven. They are an experienced band and the album has a sleek and very good looking cover artwork, it almost looks like my cat although he is a bit more wild coloured. Is there any tiger blood in their veins? Well, the title certainly points in that direction, but other than that I don’t know much about these guys and I have never heard them before this album. It is a first, and I always like firsts even though it makes it difficult to compare and also accurately evaluate the album in the grander scheme. But then again, I don’t really know much about stoner rock or metal either.But that is what it is, stoner rock, stoner metal or heavy metal if you like. It is plain and simple rock n roll, no nonsense just heavy, rocking and powerful. It is also rather well produced with a strong singer, and very varied as well. The songs come in a wide range of styles from Status Quo-ish boogie styles guitar playing, some Final Fantasy VII-like melodies and simple stoner rock and many other little interesting angles. It is a rather impressive product that is well performed and the ten tracks are even kept in a decent length with a 45 minute playing time. Compared to earlier works it may or may not be like the predecessor, it is interesting and well made in my book and it feels fresh but of course that isn’t anything I can be certain of as I haven’t heard them before.I think this is a very good album, the songs are all strong. The album has some very good and powerful stuff, it is also catchy and entertaining. Definitely an album well worth listening to as it pushes all the right buttons for anyone wanting straight, simple no-nonsense heavy metal. But not only that, it also feels fresh, and varied so you will not easily get bored with it either. It is a strong and very well crafted album and one that definitely can be recommended to anyone into this kind of music. I don’t think it lacks appeal to fans of other styles of music either. The question is though, will they reach that prospective audience?I think that they might but it needs to be more visible, they have good hits like the opening track Freak Parade which is very strong. Then I also really enjoy the lovely ending track which is a calmer one which is the perfect ending. So it starts well and ends well, and the stuff in between isn’t too shabby either. We have a strong album here, one that I can clearly recommend to anyone who likes their music plain and simple with an in-your-face attitude. It is an enjoyable album, no doubt about that." - Hallowed.se
    $15.00
  • "Just under two years ago, at ProgPower USA 2012, the first single and video for the new track “Web of Lies” was premiered. Now all the blood, sweat ,and tears that Halcyon Way put into what would become the next album “Conquer” has finally come to fruition. Shortly after the release of the EP “IndoctriNation,” the seeds of “Conquer” were sown. Since that release and the last full-length album “Building the Towers,” the band went through a couple of lineup changes. However, the core remained the same and the end result is a testament to the will of guitarist Jon Bodan, vocalist Steve Braun, and drummer Ernie Topran’s unyielding desire to succeed. “Conquer” is by far the best offering from the band, incorporating a depth of influences that cross genres to the point where you can only call it “progressive.”There is much more to the concept of “Conquer” than the underlying message. Where there has always been great maturity and strength in the songwriting, the band has incorporated some of the most muscular riffs in its history, making this release by far its heaviest material recorded to date. Melody mongers need not fret, as the soulful whims of a hard rock band lurk deep inside the madness. The best way to describe the performance on “Conquer” is “armor-plated Saigon Kick with industrial tentacles.” Knowing much of the influences that each member brings into the fold, I can easily envision a death match where the old hard rock roots being pummeled and distorted by the modern meat mallets of Monster Magnet and Samael.The title track paves the way with Braun’s impassioned chanting equipped with sharpened blades. It’s a nasty little combination that leaves him open to take it in any direction. For tracks like “Conceived in Torment” and “Hatred is My Cause,” Braun ratchets up the edges aided by Bodan’s death grunts for lethal brutality. Lessor “evisceration” comes in the form of “Home” and two of the album’s most expressive tunes “Save Your Tears” and “The Poisoned Apple.” At no time does the album succumb to that programmed standard album formula: heavy, heavy, mid-paced, power ballad, heavy. It has too many moving parts that keep the sound fresh and modern.Some of the strongest offerings come in the relentless attack riffs in “World Comes Undone,” the equally destructive but faster paced “King of Ruin,” and the on par closer “Eviscerate the Morning Sun.” Personal favorites include the long released “Web of Lies” and its “you can’t hold me back” chant, and the brilliant modern metal classic “Militant,” which is the aggregate of what you will hear on the entire release. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the production and sound aspects of “Conquer” can be summed up with the same two words that have graced many a review from yours truly in 2014: Lasse Lammert. I shall not further expound upon this man’s knob turning talent any more than has been stated in the past.“Conquer” may have been the logical choice for an album title. You can point to the many themes throughout the lyrics and extract all sorts of meaningful impressions. However, the true meaning of “Conquer” is that Halcyon Way has struck a chord of near perfection with an in fallible modern metal sound, which keeps the listener off guard with the unexpected…yet ironically with the same comfort level expected from a band with the maturation, talent, and songwriting ability of 13 year veterans." - Metal Underground
    $12.00
  • Limited edition digipak with three bonus tracks."What can we say about Liv Kristine, a beautiful Scandinavian enchantress, who has been one of the most prominent figures of gothic metal for the past 20 years and was a part of pioneering the beauty and the beast vocal style of singing? We first got to know her more than unique, angelic soprano when we met her as one of the front figures in a legendary gothic metal band Theatre Of Tragedy, but meanwhile she also set herself a solo career in 1998, with her romantic and beautifully gloomy debut Deus Ex Machina. She continued in a bit lighter manner, with following three releases Enter My Religion, Skintight and Libertine being slightly goth influenced pop-rock records, full of upbeat and catchy tunes, in which she still managed to radiate a crestfallen feel and evolve more and more vocally with each and every release. Now she presents us with her 5th full length album, which carries its title after a potent herb, which is known as one of the greatest weaknesses of vampires: Vervain.With Vervain, Liv Kristine decided to return to her roots and take us on a beautiful journey through dark rock with so many various influences; ranging from gothic metal, doom metal and even pop. Her first single, "Love Decay", which features Michelle Darkness from End Of Green on vocals, is a wonderful drive down the memory lane, as their duet and dreamy keyboards - especially at the very ending of the song - nostalgically take us more than a decade in the past - in the era of Theatre of Tragedy's marvelous creation Aégis. Their voices couldn't fit together more perfectly, as they create an amazing, emotional and heartbreaking atmosphere just by singing. It's not a coincidence Liv Kristine has collaborated with so many musicians, since she knows just how to entwine two different voices and voice colours to exist in perfect symbiosis.  Another duet, this time with the legendary vocalist Doro Pesch, is presented in a song "Stronghold Of Angels" and the very beginning of the song goes even further in the past, as its slow and doom-esque intro reminds of Theatre Of Tragedy's earliest works - the eponymous debut and Velvet Darkness They Fear. And you can imagine, with two strong vocalists such as Liv Kristine and Doro nothing can go wrong and Doro's powerful and slightly raspy voice again creates the ambivalent feel alongside Liv's crystalline soprano. "My Wilderness", "Vervain" and "Elucidation" are at the same time gracious and strong, slightly harsher songs, which will please the fans of Leaves Eyes. Their dense and rich song structure, alongside Liv's fierce vocals and guitars, which are flirting with alternative metal, certainly bring an unique ambiance to it, being at the same time romantically frail and glamorously dark. While "Lotus" is the fragile ballad and "Creeper" the power ballad of the album, "Two And A Heart" and "Oblivious" again present the colours of early Theatre Of Tragedy; "Oblivious" with doom oriented guitars and "Two And A Heart" with Liv's more than perfect vocal performance and additional piano tune, creating a doleful and sombre sound.It's more than enjoyable to once again hear Liv Kristine peering into the depths of gothic metal and including the typical romantic, yet saddened ambient into the songs, subsequently creating - well - a small theatre of tragedy inside each and every track.  All songs carry a very strong and dramatic structure; starting gently and building suspense to a peak of a story and then ending with a memorable crescendo, either by changing the tempo or adding more guitars; each and every track has a story of its own. While the rhythm section is gentler on Vervain, the guitars and keyboards alongside emotional, layered vocals create the core of the album. Ranging from upbeat and powerful melodies, through heartsore and gloomy tracks to fragile ballads, Vervain offers a wide array of highly captivating and intense sounds, evoking an extensive spectre of emotions and veils the whole album in a melancholic atmosphere, which will undoubtedly please the old and the new fans of Liv Kristine." - Terra Relicta
    $13.00
  • Under the Red Cloud marks the 12th studio album from Finland’s grandfathers of extreme metal, the band’s sixth LP with Tomi Joutsen as vocalist and his 10th year in the band. The string of Tomi’s six records started with 2006’s Eclipse and had an absolutely epic beginning. Eclipse, Silent Waters and Skyforger  showed the band’s new found drive and energy, reclaiming some of their death metal heritage, while veering further into what Nuclear Blast has fittingly labeled ‘melancholy rock.’ Unfortunately, Angry Metal Guy’s Law of Diminishing Recordings™ is a fickle mistress, and The Beginning of Times and Circle were both records that were good, but lacked the urgency of that initial trilogy. These records saw the band pushing into newer territory—heavy Jethro Tull influences bled through on the former, while Circle developed some of the band’s folky elements in cool ways. Neither album gripped me. But when Amorphis releases an album, it’s hard for me not to get excited, and upon seeing the cover art for Under the Red Cloud, all that warm anticipation came back. And fortunately, they didn’t disappoint.Under the Red Cloud is a return to form for Amorphis, and the most cohesive album the band has released since 2009’s Skyforger. Clocking in at 50 minutes, it’s made of ten thematically cohesive tracks. The album isn’t a story though. Instead, the lyrics (written, as always, by Pekka Kainulainen) are conceptually foreboding; about living under a red cloud in troubled times. The music matches this feel, and while I wouldn’t say the album is necessarily so much heavier than previous records, it may have been influenced by the 20th Anniversary of Tales from the Thousand Lakes, because the band has certainly produced the most growl-heavy material of the Joutsen-era.You wouldn’t notice that on the opening title track, however. “Under the Red Cloud” starts with an atmospheric piano bolstered by throbbing bass and a clean guitar in harmonic minor before merging into prime Amorphis territory: a chunky, groovy riff with Tomi’s cleans augmenting the sound perfectly. This format—the classic hard rock song-writing—is the stamp with which the band’s newer material has largely been pressed. “Sacrifice” is similar, breaking in with a “House of Sleep” intro, and a heavy, syncopated verse before giving way to a hooky chorus and a slick guitar melody. “Bad Blood” features Tomi’s growl in the verse, but it’s heavy on the groove and light on the melody before giving way to an epic chorus and beautiful bridge.Amorphis isn’t afraid of their death metal side here. Between “The Four Wise Ones” and “Death of a King,” every single track starts with growls, and the former doesn’t feature any clean vocals from Joutsen at all—instead there’s a short bridge with a haunting, effected vocal line that evokes Elegy. “The Four Wise Ones” and “The Dark Path” both feature crescendos with a ’90s black metal feel—wet with keys and a trem-picked melodies—only undermined by Rechberger’s refusal to use blast beats and Tomi’s growls. The death-laden material works well, though moments like the verse in “Bad Blood” or “Death of a King,” which is one of the singles from Under the Red Cloud, are places where I would have chosen clean vocals rather than growls.There is a danger, however, in Amorphis‘s modern sound, in that it’s pretty easy to fall into a rut. A fairly close listen to Under the Red Cloud reveals that the songs pretty much all follow the same structure, which when the band isn’t producing their sharpest writing can become repetitive. When the album hits its stride, though, it’s an extremely well-crafted record. From “Sacrifice” to “White Night” is a stretch of pure enjoyment—each song flowing into the next, while peaking on the final two tracks. “Tree of Ages” features a folky Celtic theme that has been stuck in my head since the first time I heard it, and “White Night” is a moody track that closes the album out with a surge.Under the Red Cloud is a very good album and a return to form. The record simply sounds like Amorphis; the band has developed a sound that bridges the gap between their old material and the new—with plenty of moments on here that remind me of Elegy and Tuonela with sitar (“Death of a King”) or bong water keyboard solos (“Enemy at the Gates”). And it’s incredible how the band’s riffing can still be so idiosyncratic. “The Skull” and “Enemy at the Gate” have riffs you only hear in Amorphis and Barren Earth; and after 12 records they still pull them off without feeling like they’re ripping themselves off. Consistency is a virtue for big bands if they’re any good, but I think there are hints on UtRC that Amorphis could get more adventurous going forward, and I hope they do. Until that time, though, I’ll be sitting here enjoying these tunes under the red clouds." - Angry Metal Guy
    $15.00
  • "Symphonic Power/Progressive metal group Wind Rose are sure to impress with this epic new album Wardens Of The West Wind. If you appreciate groups like the rousing metal bands Fairyland and Blind Guardian then I do suggest that you give Wind Rose a go.This is their second full-length album, and although I haven't heard Wind Roses's first Shadows Over Lothadruin from what I have read as impressive as that album was the Italian band has stepped up their game with Wardens Of The West Wind. That very cool cover art is by Felipe Machado Franco his other work can be seen on metal albums by the likes of Blind Guardian, Brainstorm, Rage and Rhapsody Of Fire. Bass player/producer Cristiano Bertocchi a former member of the prominent Italian metal groups Labyrinth and Vision Divine had also spent time working with Wind Rose and he joined the band in 2014.Folk ingredients are present and with the inviting sounds of traditional instruments and male chants on "Where Dawn And Shadows Begin" this is the precursor to some rather spirited metal on "Age Of Conquest". "Heavenly Minds" is very memorable with a touch of Symphony X in the chorus. Though the band is inspired by Symphony X and also Blind Guardian and Dream Theater. Wind Rose's songs really captivate, Francesco Cavalieri's excellent lead and those male group vocals are very likeable and they are integrated to great effect. The musical side of Wind Rose is also riveting with a fair degree of complexity, power and that symphonic charm plus while yes it's present Wind Rose's songs aren't constantly locked in rapid metal mode.The longest track a potent epic called "Skull and Crossbones" is just over seven minutes, but there is no need for those over extended songs on Wardens Of The West Wind when the ten on offer should more satisfy your epic musical needs. Wardens Of The Wind should go a long way to ensure a steady increase in the number of Wind Rose fans." - Sea Of Tranquility
    $15.00
  • "LANCER is a power/speed metal band based out of Arvika, Sweden. Following the release of a Demo and an EP, they present their second full-length released entitled “Second Storm,” containing nine tracks. “Running from the Tyrant” is the opening track. Right out of the gate there is a contagious energy imbedded in the swift pace of the song, and a big, full chorus. Isak’s vocal range is impressive, in the tradition of the bands that precede them in this genre.“Iwo Jima” is a nice war anthem, full of pleasing harmonies and big melodies, really drawing out the sound in grand fashion. Favoring the keep the guitar solo as an accent to the main melody, they do a good job of keeping that memorable long after the track ends. “Masters and Crowns” features that two guitar opening that is so common in the NWOBHM movement of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. The sound here in this track really soars, shooting high into the sky. When Isak lets loose, he can really negotiate his voice in the upper ranges with ease, as in the opening scream of “Behind the Walls.” The hastened pace careens straight at you, with the double bass thundering forward like well-oiled machine. The fifth track “Aton” clocks in just under ten minutes. It has a slower and more deliberate rhythm, like any epic story. There is definitely a mystical quality to this piece and some noted influence from IRON MAIDEN in the guitar harmonies, particularly after the second chorus. There are really three distinct movements in the song if you will, and they connect very memorably. I really like the way the song ends in this massive crescendo of beauty and light. Returning to the swift rocking pace, “Children of the Storm” lays down a super melodic chorus and a thick bridge section chocked full of guitar harmonies. Key changes provide a nice element of surprise. “Eyes of the Liar” is another song where that mysterious, almost supernatural quality permeates the track, but does not overtake the main melody. “Fools Marches On” is the closing song and the second longest on the album. They close in grand fashion here, with a track that seems to encompass nearly every element that we have heard to date. LANCER’S power metal is all about feeling and emotion. It just makes you feel good, like you want to take up a quest to a distant land and leave everything behind. The musicianship and songwriting is strong and fresh, and the band’s synergy is driven by the very impressive vocals of Isak Stenvall." - Metal Temple
    $13.00
  • "The Roaring Wolves are back… On a strong wake of a surprising and a triumphal album in 2011, that was much simply called “Wolfpakk”, the turbulent duo of vocalists comprised of Mark Sweeney (ex-CRYSTAL BALL) and Michael Voss (MAD MAX/MSG / ex-CASANOVA) unleash the successor, named "Cry Wolf" , and again the choral all-star project shift is the trick to give a marketing format for this burning platter, by gathering a pack of many high-class guest musicians and a few full blooded terrific barking voices to produce another raving record in the same musical vein as the great and self-titled debut.Running and undaunted Guests on "Cry Wolf" are :Vocals: Amanda Somerville (AVANTASIA), Ralf Scheepers (PRIMAL FEAR / ex-GAMMA RAY), Göran Edman (ex-RISING FORCE / ex-GLORY), Johnny Gioeli (A.R.P. / HARDLINE), Tony Mills (ex-SHY/ ex-SIAM / ex-TNT), Doogie White (ex-RAINBOW / ex-RISING FORCE / ex-CORNERSTONE / MSG), Blaze Baley (ex-IRON MAIDEN / WOLFSBANE), Piet Sielck (IRON SAVIOR / ex-SAVAGE CIRCUS).Guitars: Kee Marcello (ex-EUROPE / ex-EASY ACTION), Mandy Meyer (UNISONIC / KROKUS / ex-GOTTHARD / ex-COBRA), Roland Grapow (MASTERPLAN / ex-HELLOWEEN).Keys: Don Airey (ex-OZZY / DEEP PURPLE), Tony Carey (ex-RAINBOW).Drums: Brian Tichy (SUN / ex-WHITESNAKE), Hermann Rarebell (ex-SCORPIONS), Roland Jahoda (ex-PARADOX / F.U.C.K.)Under the leitmotiv of “if isn’t broken don’t fix it”, the Duet of Alpha Wolves and the fantastic AFM Records are teamed again in order to reedit the successful experience in giving the full and wild creative responsibility to the werewolf duet: the champions of Melodic Metal -Mister Sweeney and Doctor Voss.They wrote all the songs together (minus one surprise cover version from RAINBOW “Run With The Wolf” featuring the participation of the iconic keyboard player Tony Carey) and they were also in charge once again, for production and mixing duty, and of course they performed some ferocious vocals. This is a work of art tremendously and carefully polished that put some lights in a brilliant manner to the songwriting talent of the savage binomial Voss / Sweeney.The highlights of the albums are , the beginning track "Moonlight” with Ralf Scheepers who provide a very typical high flux of screaming and yelling, embellished by a fast pace and an epic dimension somewhere between HEAVENS GATE and MIND ODYSSEY with a little something from GAMMA RAY.In the same melodic power frenzy, the solid "A Matter of Time" that sounds like VICTORY meets BONFIRE, boosted by a share of battling vocals between Sweeney and Johnny Gioeli with an uplifting performance, courtesy of Mr. Brian Tichy beating his drum kit."Palace of Gold" reveals a new heaviness and a dark density before transforming in a more pompous style than usual with the participation to the voice of Tony Mills and a massive multi-layer backing vocal section choir, like a symphonic version of DIO merged with a delicate and fragile Prog Rock melody.Another fast double kick power number is "Beast In Me" with the always classy singing of Goran Edman, recalling that he was the singer for RISING FORCE / SPACE ODYSSEY / STRATOSPHERE and for 1999’s third album “The Last Viking” by The JOHANSSON BROTHERS and a true Neoclassical expertise demonstration in the lead spot provided by Roland Grapow.Then it's time for a real entertaining Teutonic Metal with an Hard Rock touch cut named "Pressure Down" with the very distinctive voice of Doogie White which is highlighted in a mid tempo heavy rhythm , and a strong sing along headbanging refrain with a great gang backing vocal unit, like ACCEPT meets SINNER with an extensive ad lib howling final.The rest of the tracklisting is also enjoyable mixing a few gimmick True Metal tracks as a simple sing along hymn as "Wakken" in the HAMMERFALL / IRON  SAVIOR / RUNNIG WILD and obliviously ACCEPT's fashion (…"bang your head…Metal attack"…)  or the less catchy but energetic, epic, tortuous and poignant title track "Cry Wolf" that extend to ten minutes with atmospheric sequence, special FX surreal sounds like wind and rain plus a few narrative parts in with a very surprising vocal interpretation of Blaze Bayley and a ultra-fast shredding piece of lead guitar signed by the one and the only, the other Swedish maestro Mr. Kee Marcello himself for a big fat guitar lesson and a serious beating .Before that we had a ballad with Mrs. Somerville but I think it's just a flat and ordinary number, very caricaturish, in a not really inspired style, before that it was the moment for the WOLFPAKK's leaders to be left alone in the vocal department at least, Voss / Sweeney are dueling in the single, a quite regular Euro Metal cut under the moniker of "Dark Revelation"…Not my favorite.The cover version of a legendary classic rock track, is as always, a double edged sword but secured with the approval and the additional playing of the early RAINBOW's keyboardist Tony Carey, to keep it in the right path, in this case "Run With The Wolf" is a good revision lightened in its rhythmic cadence structure as a result we have a more pompous rendition, with obviously the Hammond keyboards quite upfront.Finally, the album is the perfect sequel of the highly acclaimed debut; this sophomore episode fulfilled the dangerous task, with maybe a less impressive guest list but with a real focus on bringing back, proudly and under one united flag, the old nature of the pure roaring Euro-Metal mania." - Metal Temple
    $15.00