Wolfpakk

SKU: AFM372-2
Label:
AFM Records
Category:
Metal/Hard Rock
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"WOLPAKK is a project band formed by Michael Voss and Mark Sweeney. They have enlisted as many guest members as possible. Michael Voss used his experience and clout as a producer and previous history in successful bands to help him in his quest to get all these well known and famous musicians to appear on his album. As you can see from the list of guest musicians they are going to have one hell of a time touring! I think some of those guys might be busy. I would guess at least 20 of them will be. That was a lame attempt of a joke. As impressive as the guest list is, the results are not guaranteed to be equally as impressive. I don’t think that simply by recruiting a small army to play on your album means it’s going to be a masterpiece. If the material isn’t there, it doesn’t matter who is on the album. Be that as it may, they have managed to keep it together as you can hear for yourself. The vast experience of all the musicians involved has produced something truly unique. The album contains many elements of the classic Heavy Metal sound with the main emphasis being on melodic Metal.



I like the song “Lost” were a lot of the guests vocalists get in on the act. Michaela Schober is a primary vocalist on the song as she is the only female vocalist on the album it is easy to tell that it’s her. She is very good and the song is has some nice tempo changes. I like the up tempo part with the guitars making the chugging sound we are all so familiar with. I liken it to the dampening (Palm muting) done on all the ICED EARTH albums, but with a slightly lesser heaviness. I find it odd that primary lead vocalist is almost always Voss or >Sweeney. I would have made the most out my guest list if I sounded like Kai because as much as I love his music, the guy is not that great of a singer. He never should have let Ralf Scheepers go and done the GAMMA RAY vocals duties on his own as Ralf is light years ahead of him. “Let Me Die” also has an epic chorus and is a very catchy song. If I had to label the music as one genre and only one, it would have to be the much inclusive melodic Metal tag. You can encompass a wide array of sound with that as a label. The more I think of it, the more it fits.



The album simply isn’t fast enough to be Power Metal and it isn’t soft enough to be AOR. I like a good melodic Metal album as much as anyone. Another great aspect to this project is the very great guitar playing, especially the solos. With so many great players they could pick and choose the best of the best and that is exactly what they have done. This is another album that gets better on repeated spins. The diversity keeps everything fresh. If they do another album I hope they choose a better vocalist to do the majority of the songs. They certainly have the ability to do so. It’s a shame, because with the proper selection of a lead vocalist, the material would be elevated dramatically. The last song on the album is an epic tune weighing in at the ten minute mark, and they use all the talent at their disposal the most out of the entire album on this one long song.



There have been hundreds of project bands over the years and they range in quality all over the board just as does any release in whatever aspect. I applaud their efforts with this band I can say truthfully that it is a success and will sell a few copies from the pedigree alone. I know that is done purposefully in most instances. “Wolfony” starts off slow, then blasts off and, then slows down again as so many ten minute plus long epics tend to do. It provides a great ending to the album. If you are a fan of all star bands, then WOLFPAKK is for you. You know they put a lot of money and effort into this release." - Seattle Pi

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    $11.00
  • "Inevitably, I find myself coming across bands that I "wish I had found all those years ago". WHILE HEAVEN WEPT is one such band. Born in 1989 in Virginia, US, the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Tom Phillips, the current line-up is a strong and long-standing one; 2014 sees the release of "Suspended At Aphelion", which is essentially a single, 40-minute track split up into 11 parts. This is one of those bands that seemingly woke up one day, and decided to do a complete 180 on their tried-and-true style, and recent albums see Progressive, Epic… I'm not even going to try and name just how many genres the band's style fits into. Sufficed to say, the new album is big; very, very big. One needs only to glimpse the cover art to know that one is set on course for a cosmic journey.I must put this out there immediately; it is imperative that you listen to this album from start to finish, because the flow from piece-to-piece is what sets this album on its axis. From the haunting, classical guitar introduction provided by guest Christopher Ladd, the sweeping ambiance experiences a momentary decrescendo, and "Icarus And I" makes its grand entrance. For the most part, it is kept at a light-hearted and airy marching pace, with intricate melodic arrangements courtesy of the band's 3 keyboard players and stringsmen, taking the place of metallic riffs, beginning to sound like a graceful amalgamation of BORKNAGAR, ARCTURUS and ANGRA. In dramatic moment of panic and surprise, the track picks up in speed and heaviness, impacted by a delivery of coarse vocals. Now, the band's primary vocalist, Rain; I'm a little shocked that he has not yet become a world-renowned vocalist, because the man's talent is phenomenal, seemingly borrowed the genes and vocal powers of SERENITY's Georg, SEVENTH WONDER's Tommy Karevik, with even a few ROY KHAN moments thrown in. You can see where I'm going with this: a voice that varies markedly in intensity, with a massive range capable of emotive singing at either end of the pitch spectrum.There is no doubt that individual tracks in this 'song' are part of a grand thematic design, but they manage to stand out on their own. For one, "Indifference Turned Paralysis" tantalises us with exquisite Progressive Power musings with Neoclassical flourishes, and many a KAMELOT moment here and there; entirely instrumental, the instruments sing us their song. "Souls In Permafrost" is one of my favorite moments on the record, with melodic harmony the focus of the arrangement, but this time Rain's vocals are even more powerful and less restrained, delivering both memorable and unpredictable vocal progressions; at times, the band's Doom roots began to show; those will never fully disappear. "Lifelines Lost" is the part to wait for, to best experience the excellent guitar work of helmsman Tom, but additional beauty is found when closely examining the ambiance and atmospherics in the background.Time and time again this record washes us over with inescapable pleasantries and harmonies that resonate infinitely in the mind. I'm genuinely having difficulty getting my head around the scope of this creation, and it's doing my head in because I cannot coherently describe its grandeur in entirety. I might never be able to, no matter how many times I loop it; what a deliciously excellent excuse to have it on repeat.Remember: start to finish, and no skipping. You won't regret it." - Metal Temple
    $15.00
  • Epic, bombastic, crazy over the top, power metal from Italay a la Rhapsody Of Fire."Somewhere in Italy there lies a well. In that well, there exists a special water that most Italian musicians drink from to obtain the gifts that few possess in the music world. After hearing Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody reach the sky with “Ascending to Infinity,” I thought it was nearly unattainable for any band to come close to it ever, let alone within months after its release. In fact, I thought the only band with a shot to match it would be Rhapsody of Fire....until now. Suddenly up from the fires of Hades...er, the former Olympic city of Turin, rumbles Sound Storm with its sophomore effort, “Immortalia.” Rather than presenting its form of symphonic power as “Rhapsody straight up,” Sound Storm serves it up as “Rhapsody and Wuthering Heights with a twist of jalapeño.” With its own modus operandi, Sound Storm expands the sound by adding a touch of extreme, which to me spells pure excitement.Like Parmigianino painting a beautiful landscape in the 1500's, Sound Storm paints its own masterpiece with each band member adding broad strokes to the soundscape of "Immortalia." Melody upon melody, the album is relentless in its ability to wrangle the imagination of the listener. The mesh of masterful guitar work from Valerio Sbriglione and the perfect atmosphere cast by keyboardist Alessandro Muscio, amid the thundering rapid fire drumming of Federico Brignolo and bass work of Massimiliano Flak, set up the devastating vocals of Phillippe D’Orange (a/k/a Filippo Arancio). The huge standout is the band’s use of harsh vocals a la Sbriglione, which accent D’Orange’s soaring “Fabo Lione meets Nils Patrik Johansson” range in a way that surpasses the male/female “beauty and beast” style.With Sound Storm’s unique approach, there is something for everyone within this 58 minute opus. Here the band covers an element sorely missing on many European power metal releases - a nod to the extreme. After witnessing Fabio Lione screeching near black metal on Rhapsody of Fire’s dazzling “Reign of Terror,” it hit me that symphonic power acts could add this little touch and change the very complexion of an album. It certainly doesn’t need to be overpowering or draw any attention away from the pageantry. On “Immortalia,” Sound Storm employs this tool as a secret weapon on songs like “Call Me Devil,” “The Curse of the Moon,” and “Faraway,” the latter of which is one of the finest on the album. It took some time to pick the winner when every song shines, but the rapid fire riff reminiscent of Rock N Rolf on “Wrath of the Storm” completely satisfied an undying hunger for speed.One of the things I really appreciate about this album is meticulous attention to the smallest of details. Sure, it’s easy to get caught up in the sweeping majestic symphony of the album, but there are tons of little sounds, time changes, and little inflections that come out from nowhere to grasp the listener. Few albums gave me so much enjoyment from start to finish because of this. Right then, you want examples: how about the stunning duet of D’Orange and guest vocalist Ilaria Lucille on both “Blood of Maiden” and “Call Me Devil” with Sbriglione’s evil grunts circling them both like a serpent. Or perhaps the “modern day Beethoven” composition in the middle of “The Curse of the Moon,” or the little psychotic guitar whips on the main verses of “Promises.” Add to those the beautiful piano interlude at the start of “Faraway,” and the heavily Middle Eastern influenced “Seven Veils.”“Immortalia” quite simply puts the band’s debut “Twilight Opera” to shame. The song writing and compositions are truly remarkable. There is no doubt “Immortalia” will top my list for 2012, as it has already crept into the same company as some of my all time favorite releases...just like that.Highs: Some of the most breathtaking compositions in symphonic power metal.Lows: Fans who desire less orchestration will find this gaudy.Bottom line: Sound Storm's sophomore effort is undoubtedly "Immortalia."" - Metal Underground
    $15.00
  • "When people think of Melodic Power Metal from Finland, obviously two of the biggest acts that come to mind are STRATOVARIUS and SONATA ARCTICA. ASTRALION are another quintet pumping out that addictive, uplifting Euro Power Metal sound on their debut, self-titled album. Forming in 2011 and containing two ex-OLYMPOS MONS members in vocalist Ian Highhill and bassist Dr. K. Lundell, they also have two musicians from the Thrash band THE ADDICATION in their ranks with drummer Arnold Hackman and guitarist Hank Newman. Keyboardist Thomas Henry rounds out the lineup, so the experience in terms of players and musicianship makes this 11 song record much easier to ingest than the average ‘newer’ act attempting to breakthrough on this very active scene.The foundation of ASTRALION’s style cements itself in the early to mid-90’s Power Metal movement: chord structures that have a touch of that mead hall/ cultural thematic feel, as well as those larger than life choruses that BLIND GUARDIAN, GAMMA RAY, and HELLOWEEN made a staple of their sound. The keyboards certainly have that Finnish meets FREEDOM CALL happy tone – the opening strains of “At the Edge of the World” reminding me at times of “Hunting High and Low” from STRATOVARIUS. Of course you’ll get the prototypical speed numbers featuring guitar/keyboard synchronized arpeggio-like runs as the double bass cruises and the vocals hit ultimate bird call highs – “When Death Comes Knocking” and “Five Fallen Angels” textbook Power Metal 101 arrangements that should go down a storm.Beyond the mid-tempo ‘ode to what we love about the genre at hand number “We All Made Metal;” I also enjoyed the theatrical/ semi-Symphonic nature of the dramatic “Computerized Love” as well as the 13 minute epic closer “Last Man on Deck” that opens in ballad form before picking up the Neo-Classical pace and giving Hank and Thomas ample solo break / ‘can you top this’ moments. Ian may not tickle all the right notes vocally at times, but his passion and personality makes up for any small deficiencies. I come away every time singing the chorus to “Mysterious & Victorious”, and isn’t that half the battle in winning over consumers in this style?ASTRALION are off to a high quality start, so those who miss the 1990’s style of Power Metal would be wise to scoop this up." - Metal Temple
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  • "“Oblivion” is the early episode of a conceptual saga set to be released in a trilogy format by this Multinational band called EXXILES, the man behind all that is the former REIGN OF THE ARCHITECT’s drummer Mauricio Bustamante (EVANGELIUM) from Mexico, he started working on his new production right after his departure from R.O.T.A. with a new goal in mind : Created a new entity under a variable geometry size, working as a band with a core of fellow Mexicain players, like guitar player Sergio Aguilar (AGORA), on Bass the talented Simon Rojas , Noel Martinez on keyboards or axeman Antonio Rivera (from the Death Metal band SOLITUDE) and a bunch of illustrious guests coming from every corner of the Prog Metal Universe, in order to form a community around a musical project with a strong focus on the human relationship notion.Of course the renowned musicians around Mauricio are coming from different area of the world and some are quite popular, as their original bands are among the most respected in the whole genre : namely SYMPHONY X / SAVATAGE / T.S.O./ REVOLUTION RENAISSANCE or CIRCUS MAXIMUS but also more underground but quite highly regarded such as COMMUNIC /AGORA or STREAM OF PASSION and to complete the team, some less known musicians yet hyper talented from the fertile Scandinavian ground, with members from LOST IN THOUGHTS/SPIRAL ARCHITECTS…Indeed, Øyvind Hægeland is brilliantly taking the Lead Vocal role on the odd timing driven pace of “Hopelessness”…Generous in circonvolutions and complex to the max!Musically very rich, it’s not easy to understand it at the first encounter, but I immediately discerned some obvious qualities, notably in the vocal department… Indeed the performances by Zak Stevens (CIRCLE II CIRCLE/ ex SAVATAGE) in the opening cut “A Better Legacy ” is convincing in his traditional majestic mode, but most of all the sonic enlightement comes from the great vocals provided by the Brazilian citizen Gus Monsanto (SYMBOLICA/ex ADAGIO /ex REVOLUTION RENAISSANCE / HUMAN FORTRESS) which are uppar with the most exigeant taste or in total coherence with the excessive perfectionism of some HM bloggers!This album will expand its qualities later, in a precise and clever way little by little, a long process to fully enjoy it in its fullness, the tagged identity is based around a Dark classy sound with some Melodic method and some intricate harmonic arrangements, more dramatic in the ambiances than it seems, while the smartness and the complex shape of their creative ways are updated by an evolutive style in a thick schema of Heaviness, and this intrepid proof of their capacity to created some unexpected ideas in a fresh theory and a regenerated light!Another great surprise is the Wilmer Waarbroek (already known from AYREON) vocal input at the end of the album in the duet of song “Awakening Part I (Dark Renaissance)”& “The Messenger”, ultra rewarding numbers, those songs along with Marcela Bovio in the Spanish song “Llorona” is another persuasive addition and a good alternative to the superb cast of vocalist!However, the superb singer Gus Monsanto is quite omnipresent while singing on 50% of the songs, this man is holding a serious set of pipes, giving a demonstration of his great polyvalency and contrast (“Page of the Night”), each track is well arranged, the succession of different pace is salvatory sharing some subtle progressive moments with some more Heavy spark in a very dense manners (the fantastic pair “Dictator of Trust”/”Anthem Of Lies”), some epic bombastic instrumental parts like in the unvocalized track “Entropy”,  a few piece of Prog Symphonic Metal with weird structure and some experimental orchestral sounds to create an impressive outcome, very well written with some incredible talented writing and utmost playing skills in every area, notably in the soloing sector, thanks to the guest appearances of some terrific players such as Mats Haugen (CIRCUS MAXIMUS) or David Grey (LOST IN THOUGHT) is the icing on the cake, the ultimate uplifting details to complete the whole .After the overflowing of essential releases in this genre, the ambitious EXXILES “Oblivion” first chapter is another good advice for the Smart-Metal-music avid fanatics and a tip for those who already missed PANTOMMIND ,,Searching For Eternity” or SOUL SECRET ,,4”…This time I hope my reminder will not fall into oblivion." - Metal Temple
    $12.00
  • Now this stuff in weird and interesting...Vulture Industries is a Norwegian metal band that has been around for almost 20 years but this is only their third album.  Apparently they were originally a black metal band.  That may be true but there are only vestiges of that in their current sound.  Vulture Industires play the weird metal card - I'd classify them as "avant garde metal", very similar to bands like Arcturus, Diablo Swing Orchestra and Devin Townsend.  Hey what the hell - toss in some Faith No More as well.  This is heavy, guitar driven music with some of that carnival atmosphere that these oddball bands some to love to throw in to keep you off kilter.  The real standout is vocalist Bjørnar Nilsen, who has a real commanding presence on this disc.  Lots of emotion and angst.  A fascinating band.  Highly recommended.
    $12.00
  • Raise The Curtain is the latest effort from the former Savatage mastermind.  Its quite different from the Jon Oliva's Pain project and in a surprising way.  The music has a strong 70s vibe blending elements of progressive rock, AOR, and metal.  Oliva plays all the instruments but he collaborated on the songwriting with Dan Fasciano.  From the opening roaring organ sounds you know you are in for something a bit different.  You can tell this is Jon Oliva - there are parts that will remind you a bit of Savatage but you will also think in terms of Kansas, ELP, Alice Cooper.  A mash up of styles for sure but quite well done.  A friend who heard an advance copy summed it up perfectly: "A fun album".  This is the first pressing that has one bonus track.  Grab it while we got 'em.
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  • Digipak edition with bonus track."These Power Metal merchants are held in high regard thanks to their personnel who have the experience, plus the previous four albums by Silent Force have held the attention mixing the hooks with rampant guitar riffs and their flair for clinical execution.Their last album, 'Walk The Earth', was unleashed back in 2007 so there has been plenty of water under the proverbial bridge leading up to this release.One notable difference for fans of Silent Force is the absence of D.C. Cooper on lead vocals. He has returned to the mighty Danish Melodic Progressive Rock band Royal Hunt and on this album is replaced by Michael Bormann known for his work with Bloodbound and Powerworld.Known as the main brain behind these Metal marauders, Alex Beyrodt starts the proceedings with some Yngwie Malmsteen style fretwork before 'Caught In Their Wicked Game' runs loose. Fast paced and ready to eliminate the competition the band sound hungry and eager to please.The new vocalist here really complements the sound, but may have some struggles winning over purists who yearn for their favourite original singer. 'There Ain't No Justice' and 'Circle Of Trust' both thrust the sword through the torso as the energy remains relentless.I really enjoyed the opening salvo of these three songs the first time I heard this album, through to the fifth spin and so on. The latter of these three tracks retains a pop sensibility, but loses none of the Metal credentials that you'd expect from this band.Not much to find fault about regarding 'Living To Die' which doesn't have the same prominent and obvious hooks as the previous songs, but still retains the quality. Listen out for some tasty keys from Alessandro Del Vecchio in the song 'Before You Run' and there's some mean riffing throughout 'You Gotta Kick It'. The balancing trick between the keys and guitar is the love affair that makes this album so appealing to the ears. They are the real stars from start to finish.Sarah has a lot to answer for as 'Turn Me Loose' tackles a relationship lyrically and maintains the groove in the backdrop. Solid drumming from André Hilgers keeps the good ship Silent Force on course providing a solid backbone, but is still unable to save this song from being below par in comparison to the rest. Perhaps slipping a little through the gears and reaching auto-pilot, 'Born To Be A Fighter' goes through the numbers competently enough, but the sparks aren't flying.Meanwhile, 'Anytime Anywhere' picks up the level of quality and mixes things up with a fine arrangement oozing melodies at each turn. This brings us to the final track 'Kiss Of Death' which chugs along like your favourite Metal anthem. The chorus stands up well and is a great way to round off what overall has been an enjoyable journey.Eight out of ten of the songs here are monuments to their reputation and abilities. Top quality musicianship, crisp production and power found in the crevices are all that I was hoping for initially, plus a feisty and strong delivery from the new vocalist. Thankfully, they tick the boxes consistently apart from a couple of weaker tracks that don't quite reach up to the benchmark they set with the rest of the album. Let power and melody unite in a blissful collision once more, as album number five aligns itself with their back catalogue." - Metal Talk  
    $16.00
  • "As band histories go, Skyharbor‘s is somewhat unique. Debut album Blinding White Noise was a bit of a (nevertheless beautiful) Frankenstein’s monster – bolted together gradually onto the skeleton of guitarist Keshav Dhar’s home studio demos. With members spread across three continents, live performances have been few and far between, limited to one-off festival appearances and just a couple of short tours – probably fewer than twenty shows in total. With the line-up solidified and a very successful crowdfunding campaign under their belts, Skyharbor have delivered their second album Guiding Lights.Right from the start it is clear that Guiding Lights is a more focused affair than its predecessor. Possibly with the benefit of having a better idea of what they are aiming for together as a band, it sounds much more cohesive and sure of its own identity.Guiding Lights is also slightly more restrained than Blinding White Noise. The guitars are more driven by texture than out-and-out riffing, and there are fewer djentisms. There’s also barely a vocal scream to be heard throughout its duration, which may be a disappointment to those for whom that kind of thing is important.Obviously, a significant chunk of the spotlight will fall on singer Dan Tompkins, especially because of his recent decision to re-join TesseracT – but Dan has used the time he spent apart from the band in which he really made his name to show how capable he is at managing multiple projects simultaneously. Since the summer of 2013 alone, as well as Skyharbor and TesseracT we’ve seen him record and perform with In Colour, White Moth Black Butterfly and Piano, not to mention a host of one-off guest appearances – yet it is clear that Guiding Lights received his undivided attention, and the result is potentially his most captivating performance to date. There is a shift in his approach in the direction of Maynard James Keenan, particularly in his phrasing, which both suits his voice and compliments the music.This is especially apparent on “Halogen“. Falling around halfway through the album, the song is very probably the best Skyharbor have written. A genuine masterpiece, with no fewer than three sections vying for the position of chorus. It is one of those rare tracks that practically demands skipping back for a second listen the moment it has finished. Glorious.Whilst there are some more uptempo passages, particularly in “New Devil“, the majority of the album is mid-paced. It carries a vibe that seems to draw inspiration from the likes of Tool, Karnivool and the dreamier parts of the Deftones‘ discography. Anup Sastry’s inspired drumming also has similar flavours to Stephen Perkins of Jane’s Addiction, which provides a subtle sense of urgency under Keshav and Devesh Dayal’s intertwining guitars.Guiding Lights feels particularly well-named. It shimmers, glistens and sparkles throughout its near 70 minute run-time with an uplifting feel that is frequently close to euphoric. But more than this, Guiding Lights is Skyharbor coming of age. Blinding White Noise showed what enormous potential this collection of musicians had together, and the album is all the stronger for having them all working together on the material from day one.Guiding Lights is an enthrallingly beautiful album that should help warm the hearts of progressive metal fans as the winter nights draw in. It would be easy to see Skyharbor as a kind of side-project supergroup, but that feels like it sells them short. We can only hope that with all the various commitments the members of Skyharbor have on their collective plates, they are able to carve out the time to keep the band as a going concern." - The Monolith
    $15.00
  • "My mantra; that you can never go wrong with Prog from the "lands of ice and snow", has yet to be proven wrong. Finnish band ADAMANTRA are soon to release their second album; allow me to begin by asking you, rhetorically, what you want in a melodic, Progressive Metal band. Whatever it is, you are to find it in "Act II: Silent Narratives". You may name an influential Power/Prog band, and you may find their influences creeping in."Lionheart" is an interesting choice to begin an album, since it runs at just over 18 minutes long. It had to happen at some point. In classic Prog fashion, one may divide it into audibly discernible movements. The first of which trudges at a medium canter, a basic drum and bass track, overlaid with, needless to say, a surprising vocal delivery. At first, I thought I was listening to Roy Khan. Tuomas Nieminen is simply that great of a singer, conveying KAMELOT-like nuances whether he meant to or not, yet definitely made it his own. As the song progressed (pun absolutely intended), the riffs became heavier, faster and more complex, blended with wonderful keyboard work and atmospherics. The vocals subtly soar between different melodic styles; I hear a little Michael Eriksen and James Labrie in places. Eventually, we're brought to a crushing Power Metal section, roots that the band are proud of, and it shows in the way that the instruments and vocals scream with vigor. An album within an album, essentially."In the Shadow of the Cross" was one of my favorites; as hard as that may be to choose. Multilayered, heavy riffs are masked by beautiful piano work, and vocals that transform in and out of soaring wails, catchy hooks and aggressive rasps. The bass playing reminds me much of the esteemed Andreas Blomqvist; Jukka is a master, as we will hear more of later on. Singlehandedly, the track creates its own atmosphere of foreboding melancholy, and without you realizing it, turns it around and absorbs you into the story, and fills you with emotion. "Wicked Chain of Events" begins as a technically complex and mature Prog track, embellished with creative vocals and licks, Tuomas pushing his vocal limits (does the man have any?). We're soon treated by a terrific guitar/keyboard interplay that only northern Progressive masters could create.Listening to this album was an absolute pleasure; few other albums I know of sound different with each listen, and are an accompaniment to every mood, every activity. I hope this album will go down with the fan base as a Progressive masterpiece." - Metal Temple
    $16.00
  • "When multiple members of a sextet juggle recording and touring responsibilities for known entities such as Kreator, Turisas, and Moonsorrow, rest assured that new studio product isn’t going to hit the streets for a little while. Finnish progressive melodic doom/death metal act Barren Earth face their biggest challenge though to date beyond scheduling issues since their beginnings in 2007, as their third full-length album On Lonely Towers represents the vocal debut of Faroese native Jón Aldará – for Swallow The Sun requires Mikko Kotamäki’s full attention at this point in time.To those unfamiliar to this band’s approach, these musicians offer up a heavy slice of Scandinavian death/doom, while also injecting a love of 70’s progressive rock in a lot of their piano/organ passages, spirited instrumental sections, and outside the box epic arrangements or left-field saxophone use. Early on they may have been considered sons of Opeth meets Amorphis, but not anymore. When they choose to be straight ahead doom in the closing sections of “A Shapeless Derelict”, the mid-range operatic bellows and evil heavy riff combination are classic Candlemass trademarks. Sami Yli-Sirniö and Janne Perttilä excel at layering guitars plus emotive, meaningful lead sections as the supplementary keyboards, bass and drums move in an alluring cadence that you can’t help but be swept into its melancholic majestic splendor – even at a close to 12 minute timeframe as in the title track.Jón can gurgle from the swampiest lands (check out his Christian Älvestam register on the culturally adventurous “Set Alight”) but deliver these chill bump clean textures that recall the best work of Dan Swanö on “Howl”. And take a microscopic aural approach to the saxophone passages during “Sirens of Oblivion” – exotic, jazzy and occasionally syncopating to the churning guitars (2:36-2:51) but then free flowing in a lighter, progressive context during the subsequent instrumental section.Barren Earth stands head and shoulders above a lot of the progressive doom/death pack because of their solid songwriting chemistry and ability to never push technicality over the limit to lose the human feel that makes On Lonely Towers special. Given North America’s proclivity to applaud foreign metal over much of the domestic product these days, you would be wise to add these 9 cuts to your playlist immediately." - Dead Rhetoric
    $12.00
  • The third album from Haken once again demonstrates why they are at the forefront of the progressive metal scene.  The first two albums Aquarius and Visions are quite different.  Aquarius is a much quirkier album - lots of twists and turns that kept you off balance through out.  It had more of a prog rock feel and some real oddball approaches that resulted in some reviewers referring to it as circus meteal.  Visions was quite different.  It was much more linear and clearly defined in terms of content.  It was a prog metal album and wonderful one at that.The Mountain is the first release for the band's new home at Inside Out.  The direction of the band takes a bit of a u-turn.  The music falls somewhere in between the first two.  There is a quirky, prog rock vibe but you get the heaviness and complexity of prog metal.  One particular track I keep going back to is "Cockroach King" which essentially pays homage to Gentle Giant's counterpoint vocals.  Regardless of which direction you preferred, The Mountain has enough diversity to go please everyone.If you want to keep track of where progressive metal is headed then climb the mountain - this is where its at.  Highly recommended.
    $14.00
  • Many years ago Finnish guitarist Jarno Keskinen released two Kenziner albums.  They were cookie cutter neo-classical metal albums ripped straight from the Malmsteen playbook - right down to the haircut.  The thing is, for the style, they were really well done.  After 14 years Keskinen has reactived Kenziner with an all new lineup.  No signficant changes in style.  If you are a fan of the sound - Malmsteen, Artension, Adagio and their ilk you should definitely check this out since the guy can shred with the best of them and he's certainly got the sound down pat.  Don't expect originally but enjoy it for what it is.
    $16.00
  • OK now this is over the top indulgent and incredibly limited.  I doubt we will be able to restock it as a limited amount has been made available for North America.  This is an oversized hardbound slipcased book with a 44 page booklet.  It also comes with a CD plus a DVD with the album in 5.1 surround and 24 bit hi-res stereo mixes.  Finally there is a second DVD with a "making of" documentary.  Certain to be a collector's item in years to come."It’s been quite a past few years for the incredible Anathema. Honors have been bestowed upon them, they’ve released an instant classic album in “Weather Systems”, and last year they released one of the best live concert films I’ve ever seen, “Universal”. Anathema is on top of the world, and they are only getting bigger. With all of this on their shoulders, they approach the world once again with their new album, “Distant Satellites”, a fitting name for a massive album. Again, with all of their recent success creating huge expectations, can this band meet such critical reception? Needless to say, Vincent Cavanagh on vocals, Danny Cavanagh on guitar, Jamie Cavanagh on bass, John Douglas on percussion, Daniel Cardoso on drums, and Lee Douglas with her wonderful vocals were all up to the challenge.“Distant Satellites” is a very different album from “Weather Systems”, or anything else they’ve done, for that matter. It is different, yet somehow instantly familiar. It includes everything that makes them Anathema, but adds new and exciting elements to their already excellent formula. If you’ve never heard Anathema, their formula (in their last few albums, anyways) includes soaring guitars, amazingly catchy melodies, spiritual lyrics, and emotional flow both vocally and structurally. They are the masters of melody, and they remain complex and progressive even while being simple and accessible. They are truly masters of their craft.This new album, then, is no different in those terms. The melodies return in force, such as the serene beauty of “The Lost Song” parts 1-3. And, yet, there is something different here. The melodic lines are somewhat more complex, less in-your-face, and more organic. This especially shows in the song lengths, most of them being over five minutes. This allows for more growth and more progression. Indeed, then, the melodies on “Distant Satellites”, while not being as instantly lovable or recognizable, are certainly more difficult and possibly will have a longer “shelf life” in my mind. Yes, the orchestrations seem to be lower key, as well, allowing the vocalists to express themselves more personally then ever.There are other improvements, too. I feel that the musicianship is more fervent and on a higher plateau of difficulty than Anathema has tried. Drummer John Douglas, especially, plays amazingly well from start to finish, accenting the music with awesome pounding and fills. The rest of the band are at their peak, too, with Vincent and Lee being especially great with emotional and meaningful vocal performances.“Distant Satellites” is different in more meaningful ways, too. Utilizing post-rock/metal structures is nothing new for Anathema, but they really do perfect them here, as on “Dusk”, a dark, climactic song. Yet, there is a sense of continuity between tracks, too. This is obviously the case between the three parts of “The Lost Song”, but it’s also apparent throughout the album, as if Anathema is telling us a story, convincing us of our true selves and our connection with the universe and with each other.This album is wonderful in the first half, but my excitement reached new heights in the second half. Anathema has taken it upon themselves to change things up a bit. They wanted to progress their sound, but make it all seem so natural. So, in the second half, the album climaxes with one of the best songs, simply called “Anathema”. But then, we are thrown for a loop somewhat, as “You’re Not Alone” features a hefty portion of electronic vibe. It’s great, but the best is still to come.Next, “Firelight”, a darkly ethereal instrumental track that is completely electronic, is thrust upon us, and is followed up by what may possibly be the best song Anathema has ever produced, “Distant Satellites”. This track combines everything that has ever made Anathema great: soaring melodies, climactic structure, gentle spirituality, amazing vocals, and now an electronic beat that is both complex and catchy. Vibrant, mesmerizing, and pure, this track elates me every time I hear it. It takes this album, and my heart, to new heights. The album finishes with a gentle ballad that just seems so fitting, yet it still has the strong electronic influence.So, is “Distant Satellites” a winner? In every way! Is it their best album? I don’t know; it has the potential, but it might take time, just like “Weather Systems” did. What I can tell you is that this new album is more mature, more progressive, more interesting and eclectic, and less formulaic then anything Anathema has crafted yet. It does sacrifice some accessibility and some instant likability for these things, but I respect their decision massively, and I fully expect to see “Distant Satellites” at the tops of many lists at the end of 2014." - Progulator
    $70.00