Future Sequence: Live At The Fideltorium (Blu-Ray/CD)

"I am no stranger to the awesome might of Between the Buried and Me. Back when I first started writing for MetalNuhUh, as the scant old school among you may remember, I endured a not-so-sexy injury bike accident which resulted in a broken shoulder, and it was shortly after said injury that I first got to witness the glory of a BTBAM show, on Halloween no less. This was back in the Colors days (probably still my favorite offering from the band), and I’ll be damned if the music — and a handful of whiskeys, as well as the cute flirty smile of the bartender — didn’t make me wanna throw caution to the wind and fight my way through the pit with a broken shoulder.

Thankfully I restrained myself – hard to find the motivation when some poor bastard was carried out of said pit with a protruding ankle bone sticking out of his leg – but the real lesson to take away here is that this is a band with the ability to conjure up such a wicked level of excitement with a stupendous live performance…

CUT TO:
Several years and a couple noodley records later, my perception of BTBAM’s current music had become slightly underwhelmed, but catching the band earlier this year on tour with Intronaut and Deafheaven reminded me just how sickly tight the playing is.  And this is a similar feeling I get when watching new Blu-ray DVD release Future Sequence: Live at the Fidelitorium; to see these dudes crank it out live reminds me every time where the magic lies.

Sure, it’s easy to dismiss some of the tunes as a bit too proggy, ostentatious, melodramatic even — there are several decidedly clowny video game/carnival/musical theater-inspired moments (which actually makes quite a bit of sense since the group recently alluded that it will be embarking on a journey to create a rock opera), but these guys are such gifted individual musicians that truly elevate to a whole other level together that no matter how you may feel about any of their material, the impression they leave will drop your jaw every time.

In watching Live at the Fidelitorium, as seeing the band live, it’s almost impossible not to fawn over BTBAM’s tightness. There are several moments that sound pretty impossible, but wait a second—I just saw five humans make that happen…  Drummer Blake Richardson is a beast who straddles the magnificent line between heavy hitting and ripping jazzy groove chops, the guitarists and bassist display jaw-dropping dexterity for days, and Tommy Rogers once again astonishes with his pearly singing timbre that somehow escalates into one of the most br00tal growls I’ve ever seen from a little dude.

And this particular performance also features some additional players, special guests including bassist Dan Briggs’ saxomophone cohort from fusion outfit Trioscapes, a tuba player, a string quartet, and a glockenspiel/marimba player.  For some reason, these guest performances are presented in such a matter-of-fact way (cutting into their footage all of a sudden when their parts drop in) that it’s hard to get a sense of where these additional players are situated geographically. One assumes that they are somewhere in the same studio as Tommy and the boyz, but from a directorial/editing perspective it’s difficult to tell where they are are situated.

Overall it’s a real pleasure to watch such a simple, barebones performance from such a crazy band — aside from the extras (some additional pretty pointless “behind-the-scenes” footage documenting the studio setup and some interesting interviews explaining the impetus for the DVD), Future Sequence: Live at the Fidelitorium is a mostly no-frills studio recording, meant to show the band in a subdued, intimate setting without the distractions of a crowd or the chaos of a live show. And it’s definitely a treat to see the guys do their thing. Any BTBAM fanboy (or fangirl, but c’mon—let’s get real here) will be psyched to lay eyes on this DVD, but I’d be pretty surprised if anyone new to the band was extremely bowled over by this largely ho-hum studio “concert” setting. At this point in such a killer band’s impressive career that probably doesn’t matter much though; it’s just nice to sit back and watch BTBAM do its thing." - Metal Sucks

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  • "Always fond of conceptual storytelling, Ian Anderson goes himself one better with his latest prog-folk-metal concept album. The 15 songs of Homo Erraticus inhabit not one but two metafictional layers. The Gerald Bostock character, hero/anti-hero of the seminal Jethro Tull album Thick as a Brick and its recent sequel Thick as a Brick 2, is back again, having now discovered a manuscript left behind in the 1920s by a malaria-ridden old British soldier delightfully named Ernest T. Parritt.Parritt's supposed writings range over northern European history from the Mesolithic era to his own - and on into his future, through the whole 20th century and into our own time and beyond. Winnowed into lyrics written by "Bostock" and set to music by the real protagonist of the story, Ian Anderson, these materials give Anderson - whose creative scope and energy remain robust even as his singing voice has thinned with age - a walk-in-closetful of pegs on which to hang a sequence of songs evoking nothing less than the history of mankind in his part of the world.The first track, "Doggerland," commemorates the area of the southern North Sea that used to be dry land connecting today's British Isles with the rest of Europe. Doggerland vanished under the waves as the last Ice Age ended but, as fisherman discovered not long ago, the sea floor retains much archeological evidence of human occupation. The succeeding songs address migrations, metalworking, invasions (from the Romans to Burger King), the arrival of Christianity, the Industrial Revolution, and so on. To appreciate the songs, you'll want to (at least once) follow along with the notes and lyrics in the accompanying 32-page booklet.The Foreword, in which Anderson discusses the history of Jethro Tull and why he hasn't used the band name for his last few recordings, will especially interest longtime Tull fans. The real question is, will the songs themselves? Some yes, some no. The gruff metal of "Doggerland" gives way to the sweet, plinking folk of "Heavy Metals." (I imagine Anderson chuckling to himself at the irony - no pun intended - of creating such a gentle-sounding song with that title, and on that literal topic.) Both satisfy my Tull craving. "Meliora Sequamur" (Let Us Follow Better Things), which paints a picture of 12th century schoolboys amid religious chant (and cant), does too, and "The Turnpike Inn" is a solid rocker, and the hard-Celtic style of "The Engineer" moves briskly.I like the instrumental track "Tripudium ad Bellum" (Dancing to War). It starts off with an echo of a theme from the original Thick as a Brick (there are others elsewhere on the album), then resolves into a 5/4 march, like a more insistent "Living in the Past." War's aftermath appears in the next track, the sad, deliberate "After These Wars," in which I really feel the lack of Anderson's full-strength vocals. While he was never among rock's greatest singers, that didn't matter - when he sang his songs, you always felt he was all there, and that's what mattered. But now, and not only in the harder songs that shade into old-school heavy metal, his voice just isn't always a match for his music's energy any more.On the other hand, his gift for crafting pleasing, original melodies, writing smart, clever lyrics in complete sentences and true rhyme, and setting much of it in non-traditional time signatures remains strong. The first verse of "After These Wars" reads:After battle, with wounds to lick andbeaus and belles all reuniting.Rationing, austerity: it did us good after the fighting.Now, time to bid some fond farewells andwalk away from empires crumbling.Post-war baby-boom to fuel with post-Victorian half-dressed fumbling.No one in pop music writes like that anymore.Listening to the album as a complete conceptual work, my overall feeling is that there isn't very much new here. Since the 1960s Anderson and Tull have explored countless different musical paths and styles. Some of these produced some of my all-time favorite songs and recordings. Others I hated. But he never seemed to be resting on his laurels. Here I feel like I'm reading a chapter that's not much different from the last chapter.But listening to the songs individually, I like a lot of them. As I write this I'm trying to count the beats of the off-time closer, "Cold Dead Reckoning," with its grim imagery of a future of lost souls navigating their way over a metaphysical Doggerland "amongst the ranks and files of walking dead." I hear crunching minor-key guitar-bass-piano unison figures, a sprightly flute solo. A hopeful verse about "angels watching over" at the end doesn't convince me, as the music continues to growl on as before. Yet there follow a sweet, gentle instrumental coda, reminded us that while things may not turn out well for humanity as we teem over and ruin our only planet, our capacity to create and to appreciate beauty will be with us as long as we live. So let's raise the cup of crimson wonder to Ian Anderson as he charges not-so-gently through his seventh decade." - Seattle Pi
    $9.00
  • First of two great studio albums from this important British band. Although they never achieved a significant amount of noteriety, HIgh Tide were seminal figures in the British progressive scene. Led by former Misunderstood guitarist Tony Hill and violinist Simon House (later with Hawkwind), High Tide blended psych, proto-prog, world music and hard rock - all within the same sound. The fantastic interplay between Hill and House will launch your brain into another dimension. Back in print on Esoteric Recordings, now with 5 bonus tracks.
    $15.00
  • "Showtime, Storytime" contains NIGHTWISH's entire August 3 performance at the Wacken Open Air festival in Wacken, Germany. The show, which was played in the front of 85,000 screaming metalheads, was directed by Ville Lipiäinen, filmed with seventeen cameras and has a total running time of 85 minutes. The second disc consists of a 120-minute tour documentary, "Please Learn The Setlist In 48 Hours", also directed by Ville Lipiäinen, with no shortage of drama or overall madness. Also, there is a 16-minute NIGHTWISH Table Hockey Tournament, filmed on tour. In addition, there are two music clips: "I Want My Tears Back" (live at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland) and "Ghost Love Score" (live in Buenos Aires).The Wacken Open Air appearance was the first of the three final shows of NIGHTWISH's "Imaginaerum World Tour", which saw the band and their Dutch singer Floor Jansen (REVAMP, ex-AFTER FOREVER) playing 104 concerts in 34 different countries, with a total audience of over 1.5 million fans around the globe.Commented NIGHTWISH mastermind and keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen: "Our darling flying Dutchwoman, Floor Jansen, has been nothing but incredible during her time in NIGHTWISH on this tour, so this is a perfect opportunity to immortalize the current vibe of the band on film!"NIGHTWISH's setlist for the Wacken Open Air performance was as follows:01. Dark Chest Of Wonders02. Wish I Had An Angel03. She Is My Sin04. Ghost River05. Ever Dream06. Storytime07. I Want My Tears Back08. Nemo09. Last Of The Wilds10. Bless The Child11. Romanticide12. Amaranth13. Ghost Love Score14. Song Of Myself15. Last Ride Of The Day16. Outro (Imaginaerum)
    $33.00
  • "Countdown To Revenge is album number five from Italian metallers Hollow Haze, a band who’ve been rattling out grandiose metal since 2003 but never getting the recognition they deserved. Mind you, gigs with German metal kings Accept certainly did them more good than harm, and this 11-track affair comes straight out of the box writhing like a metallic serpent, bolstered by the venomous vocals of Fabio Lione (Rhapsody Of Fire / Vision Divine).This is the first Hollow Haze platter to showcase the soaring talents of renowned frontman Lione, who replaces Alex Sonato, the singer on the band’s last two records, including the critically acclaimed Poison In Black (2012). For me, Lione is a marked improvement on Sonato, having a far greater and certainly more epic range for this style of powerful, majestic metal.This sort of metal can be an acquired taste due to its orchestral drama and polished feel. Hollow Haze, among numerous others (often European), are certainly one of the more adequate bands carving out this type of vast, melodic metal landscape. Any fan of hard-hitting metal should certainly give this record a spin as well, though.Firstly – and revisiting that vocal style – we’re hearing a set of lungs that combines the glorious heights of Ronnie James Dio and Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) with a more modern, epic range. These strengths are complimented by the clean orchestrations of Antarktica and the Wintermoon Orchestra which, rightly so, give the platter an icy, clinical feel as Nick Savio’s guitars chisel out those huge valleys of sound.Storming in after a brief orchestral intro (‘Room 212’), album opener ‘Watching In Silence’ adopts all the theatrical nuances one would expect from such heroic metal. Hollow Haze have always been an ambitious band, keen to tell their tales by way of lush arrangements and stately dynamics. The band keeps the drama going with the pacey ‘Still Alive’, a track which combines classical preparations with a thrashy drum and ominous guitar chug.Clearly Fabio Lione has found his fiery home with Hollow Haze, his voice slipping in without trace of any cracks as ‘No Rest For The Angels’ sweeps into the room, evoking images of grand halls and luxurious tapestries unfolding. It’s the sort of track that would need to be heard to be believed live; the solos are punchy, the drums racy and again the vocals soaring into the zenith – Lione aided by Rick Altzi (At Vance / Masterplan / ex-Thunderstone) – to create another vast landscape of sound.With this type of album, it’s always difficult to pick out a favourite track because there is always a conceptual feel about proceedings due to the textures and overlying drama. For instance, ‘Life Has No Meaning’ – one of the more melodically subtle tracks on the opus – is far removed from the pounding eight-minute title track, but both songs are testament to a band and its ability to create moods and sprawling pastures.There are certainly sceptics within the metal fraternity who would deem this sort of heavy metal as being over the top in its quest for atmosphere. I can see where they’d be coming from, but in small doses bands such as Hollow Haze need to be experienced. After all, how can one fault the reflective symphonies of ‘Il Tempo del Fuoco’ or the Helloween-styled power metal soar of ‘A Fading Angel’s Life’? It’s metal at its purest, metal which doesn’t rely on anything remotely evil or weighty to deliver its message.Hollow Haze may be stuck within hair metal pomp and goth-laced histrionics and theatre, but for some this is what makes metal such a tour de force. Hats off to mix-master Sascha Paeth (Avantasia) for giving Countdown To Revenge such a clean, yet furious sound, and let’s hope Hollow Haze keep hold of Fabio Lione – this guy has added an extra dimension to that already flourishing landscape." - Metal Forces Magazine
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  • "Leah’s 2012 debut, Of Earth and Angels, came out of nowhere and blew me away with its catchy, epic music and beautiful, ethereal vocals. Naturally, I bought her follow-up EP, Otherworld, but didn’t like it as much, since it was much mellower (except for “Dreamland” with guest Eric Peterson).Thus, I was very excited to learn that Leah’s next release would feature Delain guitarist Timo Somers. I figured Timo was exactly what Leah needed to find her heavier sound again, since he has contributed some of Delain’s best guitar work. As an added bonus, Timo produced and arranged the album and also recruited ex-Delain drummer Sander Zoer.Does Leah’s new team deliver? Yes. Kings & Queens is epic, heavy, and beautiful. Timo contributes excellent riffs and solos; Sander provides driving rhythms along with bassist Barend Courbois (from Blind Guardian); and Leah sounds as delicate and ethereal as ever. Her voice is high, clear and perfect, much like Liv Kristine’s.The music, voice, and lyrics evoke far-away lands and heroic stories. Leah has explained: “One theme in particular is the historical and metaphorical grip around our throats we feel from top-down agendas that threaten our freedoms. It seems to be a never-ending game of chess between those who demand power and those who would preserve freedom. It’s the theme of every good fantasy book and film, and the message rings true for even our modern world. In addition, the line-up and stellar musicianship of the guys who came on board this project heightened the sheer epicness and caliber of the music itself.”The album’s first single is “Enter the Highlands.” It starts heavy with aggressive guitars and drums before Leah’s otherworldly vocals kick in, and then builds with even more intense rhythms, a galloping riff, and choral vocals. Leah says she loves how heavy Timo made the song, and that the lyrics are about lost civilizations, with implications for our own.Two other songs that really showcase Timo’s guitar skills are “Save the World” and “Angel Fell,” both of which feature blistering solos. These songs also show off the variety of Leah’s sound. “Save the World” starts as folk metal before becoming an anthem, then finishes with delicate voices and a harp after Timo’s solo. “Angel Fell” begins with a harpsichord and is quiet and powerful at first but has a driving finish.What these songs lack is the catchiness I liked on songs like “Remember” and “Say Yes” from Of Earth and Angels, but that begins to reappear in later songs from Kings & Queens, notably “Heart of Poison” and “Hourglass.”Perhaps the heart of the album is the epic “Palace of Dreams.” The song is long (at 7:46) and cinematic, with strong guitar and piano and a lyrical tie-in to the album title. Other notable songs include “The Present Darkness” (in which Leah uses a deeper voice) and “Remnant” (which at first sounds especially like Loreena McKennitt, to whom Leah is often compared, before building into heavy guitars). The album concludes with a pretty acoustic cover of a traditional Irish folk song, “Siúil a Rún,” about a lover lost to soldiering.Overall, I would recommend Kings & Queens to all fans of epic music and ethereal vocals. While not as catchy as Of Earth and Angels, the new album certainly cements Leah’s reputation as the metal Loreena McKennitt (or Enya), with her strong Celtic and new age influences (not to mention her high fantasy look). The album is also a showcase for Timo Somers’ guitar work, and an example of successful crowd-funding, so fans of Delain and fans of independent music alike will want to check it out.On the flipside, I would say the album and songs are too long. At 78 minutes, Kings & Queens is nearly twice as long as Of Earth and Angels or Delain’s The Human Contradiction. I think the music would have a greater impact if it were more condensed (just as I wish Peter Jackson would release a condensed version of The Hobbit). Delain fans should also know that the vocal variety is much narrower than what we get from Charlotte Wessels, who does fragile and beautiful but also raw and aggressive. Again, Leah is more like Liv Kristine. The lyrics are also subtle and metaphorical (and sometimes require careful listening to understand), so the themes discussed above about freedom and fallen civilizations don’t hit you in the face the way Delain’s (or Judas Priest’s) would." - Sonic Cathedral
    $14.00
  • Possessed was the death metal band that featured Larry Lalonde before he went to play with Primus.
    $8.00
  • "The last few years have been a turbulent time for British tech bands and their vocalists. Along with TesseracT and Aliases in particular, Monuments have had more than their fair share of strife in securing the right frontman. However, the recruitment of the multi-talented Chris Barretto last year seemed to reinvigorate the band’s live performance, and second album The Amanunensis gives us the opportunity to see whether the chemistry apparent onstage translates into the writing process.The short answer to that question, hinted at by the singles that have broken cover in the lead-up to the album’s release, is a resounding yes. Right from the first listen, The Amanunensis grabs the listener by the hair and demands their attention. With a number of the songs that comprised debut album Gnosis having existed in one form or another for more than two years before its 2012 release, The Amanunensis shows clearly how far the band have progressed, on pretty much every front.It is only natural, though, that the attention falls first on Chris, as the new guy. As well as his prodigious vocal talents (which we will return to in a moment), he has built the lyrical concept to The Amanunensis around a complex story that ties the whole album together, effectively turning the individual tracks into chapters. Rather than reprise that entire concept here, Chris helpfully outlined it in a recent interview with Noisefull, and we can probably expect to see it fleshed out further in the future.Drawing from various strands of spiritualism and science fiction, it seems that The Amanunensis - both in concept and execution – is best described by another eastern construct; the Yin and Yang. The twin pairing of “I, The Creator” and “I, The Destroyer” that effectively bookend the album seem to be a nod in the direction of the Hindu god Vishnu, which together with the Buddhist concept of “Samsara” provide the spiritual yin to the yang of an album title inspired by David Mitchell’s novel Cloud Atlas and other sci-fi influences.But, deeper than that, Chris’ angelic, Michael Jackson-inspired falsettos provide a light to contrast the shade of some pretty fearsome screaming. Equally comfortable in both extremes and at numerous points in between, Chris unabashedly stamps his identity on the band’s sound. The net result proves that whilst the path to finding the right vocalist for Monuments was at times difficult, it was definitely worth the effort.Comparisons to the yin-yang can also be found in the real driving force of the Monuments sound: the riffs of guitarist John Browne. More so now than ever before, Browne’s riffs balance intense neocortex technicality with a more primal reptilian rhythmicality. There are tricksy time signatures and extended metre riffs aplenty, but they are always subordinate to the great God of Grooves, providing The Amanunensis with both immediate accessibility and the depth to warrant repeated listens and close attention. This is most immediately apparent on “Quasimodo“, which combines Tool-esque shifting rhythms with Sevendust‘s soaring melodies and guitar crunch.If this wasn’t enough, the tracks are then underpinned by the vibrant and imaginitive rhythm section of drummer Mike Malyan and bassist Adam Swan. Mike has spent much of the Monuments downtime as a key part of The Algorithm‘s headbending live performances, which have pushed out the boundaries of his already considerable skills even further, but once again the temptation to simply show off has largely been resisted, and his innovative beats and fills augment the songs rather than dominate them. Adam, too, seems to understand that the notes left unplayed are as important as those which are struck, and his understated basslines are deftly deployed, particularly on the verses of “Origin of Escape“.“Origin of Escape“, incidentally, is possibly the finest Monuments track to date, neatly encapsulating everything they have to offer in one four minute package that is both danceable and mosh-friendly. “Atlas” and “Horcrux” give free reign to strutting pop sensibilities, whilst “The Alchemist” and “Jinn” are blasts of lip-curling heaviness. Throughout the album, the choruses are huge and the hooks are numerous.With this combination of almost feral aggression and unashamed embrace of pop melody, The Amanunensis could almost lay claim to being ‘Angel Dust for the tech generation’. If anything were to stand in the way of that claim, it would be that it doesn’t quite have the same degree of diversity as Faith No More‘s magnum opus. Even with the yin and yang counterpoints discussed above, all of the songs rely on the key device of syncopated stabs interspersed with technical flourishes, so it will be interesting to see if the band can feel their way beyond that from time to time in the future.Nevertheless, The Amanunensis is bold, brash and thoroughly infectious. It delivers in full on the promises made by Gnosis and points to an even richer future ahead of the band, hopefully drawing a line under their somewhat tumultuous past.What we have here is the sound of Monuments coming of age. With this second album, their place in the pantheon of great British tech-metal bands is assured. Whilst there are hints that suggest there are still greater things to come from them in the future, there’s no reason not to see The Amanunensis as the must-have, feel-good metal hit of the summer." - The Monolith
    $12.00
  • 2CD edition comes with a bonus live disc recorded at the Loud Park 2010 festival."Taking a cue from where post-psychedelic and hard rock left off in the seventies before our hard rock heroes either went disco or into questionable directions, Spiritual Beggars’ picks up the pieces, just like Grunge did in its heyday; but adding a little more balls to the mix as an authentic force to be reckoned with. A supergroup featuring members of Arch Enemy, Opeth, Firewind, Carcass, and other extensions, the amped up sound of this Swedish powerhouse throws the pretentious mannerisms of out of the mix, gaining them a status that has created a solid dichotomy between them and many other stoner rock bands.Even as these guys are native to extreme and symphonic metal bands, the tunage gets to the point, reflecting Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Blue Oyster Cult and early-Priest, as the heavy blues & R&B flavored upbeat moods have always raised the roof. Inflamed by grinding riffage and screaming Hammond organ, Earth Blues again sees Spiritual Beggars taking no retreat from their enigmatic rock and roll feast. The opening track “Wise as a Serpent” immediately spurs the dark groove into power pop territories, yet more intricate sides are heard on the multi-faceted “Sweet Magic Pain” & the dark 1-2 punch of “Kingmaker,” both offering up a salvo of to a Sabotage-meets-Agents of Fortune attitude. Without reckless abandon, these guys also explore a psych/funk mindset on “Turn the Tide,” plus you have “One Man’s Curse” which could have been a long last tune from Come Taste the Band.Even on the ballad “Dreamer” and the low key rocker “Dead End Town,” the band flexes their ideology the same way Zeppelin did at times; and that ideology is further expressed by way of  a set of live tracks on a bonus disc, proving they can hit the road with the attitude to kick ass. Still, whatever way you hear Spiritual Beggars, there will be no denying that their solid foundation of hard rock possesses intrigue, forgoing all the poser musicianship and letting the songs, the true grit of emotion, and the conviction to simply rock out speak loud for Earth Blues. Heavy, commanding, & sophisticated, Spiritual Beggars continue to map out their presence with bold, sharp, & gripping, metallic grandeur, affording no shame whatsoever." - Ytsejam.com
    $14.00
  • "The world has lost a great musician and gifted vocalist, when the legendary Ronnie James Dio passed away almost 5 years ago. He was a hero and inspiration to many musicians, such as Lars Ulrich (Metallica), Doro Pesch or Axel Rudi Pell, and rumor has it that he's the main reason why every metal head worldwide is familiar with the sign of the horns. Now it's time some of our bands pay tribute to him as well! CRYSTAL BALL, MESSENGER, GUN BARREL, GLORYFUL, THE ORDER, METAL INQUISITOR, CIRCLE OF SILENCE, BURDEN OF GRIEF, LOVE.MIGHT.KILL, REBELLION, IRON FATE and WIZARD all covered Ronnie James Dio songs to honor this exceptional musician."
    $16.00
  • Xandria have been around for quite some time and for whatever reason they seem to churn through vocalists - perhaps each one better than the previous.  Their new vocalist is Dianne van Giersbergen, formerly with the Dutch band Ex Libris.  She's a great one for sure.  Luckily the overall band sound hasn't changed very much.  This is pure bombastic symphonic metal that follows the Tarja-era Nightwish template very closely.  You may have to play this one in secret or the originality police may come after you but if you do play it loud!This is the deluxe mediabook edition.  It comes with a bonus CD that features an exclusive studio track as well as an instrumental mix of the album so you can karaoke to your hearts content.  
    $16.00
  • Another finely crafted gem from this underrated German melodic metal band.
    $8.00
  • This one came out of left field.  Solisia are a female fronted metal band based out of Rome.  Led by Elie Syrelia they don't go down the well mined gothic metal style.  Instead the band incorporates a strong symphonic element and pack more than a little bit of a power metal crunch.  Ms. Syrelia is quite the revelation.  She sings accent free with a lot of emotion and power.  In many ways she reminds me of Amy Lee.  Definite star power going on and I suspect we may be hearing a lot more from this band in the future.  Highly recommended.
    $8.00
  • "Retribution” is the new album from Sweden’s Nightingale, the intended one-off project that refuses to die. Established by musical multi-talent Dan Swanö almost 20 years ago, the band is proof that good music can take on a life of its own, often when the artist least expects it.Known for his work both as a producer/engineer and with metal acts Edge Of Sanity, Bloodbath, Pan-Thy-Monium and most recently Witherscape, Swanö began his unplanned Nightingale journey in 1995 with “The Breathing Shadow”. It was a one-off goth-flavoured solo album heavily reminiscent of The Sisters Of Mercy, meant to satisfy his interest in the genre and then be put quietly to bed as Swanö moved on to other projects. The album was successful enough to warrant a follow-up according to his label at the time (Black Mark), but Swanö was, as he puts it "so over the goth thing.""I thought that if I was going to make a second record it had to reflect what I was listening to at the moment. I was going through a big revival of Gamma, Foreigner, Journey and all that super melodic AOR pomp rock stuff. It was a weird turn from the first record, so I decided to make Nightingale a home for music that I write in the moment, no matter what it is."Nightingale released five more albums between '96 and '07, slowly establishing a band line-up that began with Swanö's guitarist/keyboardist brother Dag in 1996 acting as a co-producer and session player on “The Closing Chronicles”. He officially came aboard in 1998 under his Tom Nouga moniker. The band was fleshed out by bassist Erik Oskarsson and drummer Tom Björn, who had their first rehearsal with the Swanö brothers on Christmas Day 2000. “White Darkness” from 2007 could well have been the last Nightingale album, as it featured very little songwriting input from Swanö due to severe writer's block. He decided to focus on his career as an engineer and chose to make music as a hobby. His creative side won eventually, however, as the urge to write and play again became irresistible."I bought a few instruments that would inspire me, and eventually the riffs started piling up," Swanö recalls. "I was collecting them for some kind of death metal release, and the other stuff that came out ended up being what could be used for a future Nightingale record."Originally titled “Bravado” in the working stages, “Retribution” offers up 10 songs steeped in uncomplicated '70s and early '80s-flavoured rock. Tracks such as 'Chasing The Storm Away', 'Forevermore' and 'The Maze' could have easily found a home on commercial rock radio 30 years ago, yet the album is completely relevant in 2014. Fans of Swanö's heavier works that are unfamiliar with Nightingale may be surprised the simplicity of the music and the band's non-aggressive approach."It's not easy to write simple stuff that's good," Swanö points out, suggesting people take a good long listen to “Retribution” rather than dismissing it.In Swanö's estimation “Retribution” succeeds because the songs "just kind of happened." He never set out to write any specific parts; the music is in fact a result of spontaneous moments, whether it was an accidental combination of notes on a keyboard that became an opening riff ('On Stolen Wings') or an odd guitar tuning ('Warriors Of The Dawn'). On top of that, the songs were hashed out in the rehearsal room before the band went into the studio, resulting in major changes to some of the music as it developed."When I listen to the record I don't want to have any regrets," explains Swanö. "There's no point in releasing a new Nightingale record if I don't think it's the best we ever did. That a pretty high standard to have, but if I don't feel that way when I listen to it the moment it's ready, it's got nothing to do with our back catalogue. That's the way I've felt with every record."Asked to sum up what “Retribution” means to him with regards to Nightingale's legacy, Swanö offers the following: "Classic rock with that pomp attitude really inspired me. I just wanted a good production that could hold up well against a band like Alter Bridge but still have a bit of the sonic charisma of the records from '79, which was a great year for music. The target was to make a timeless record with good, classy songs that the four of us can agree are really cool."Nightingale’s “Retribution” comes packaged in beautiful artwork courtesy of Travis Smith (Opeth, Nevermore, Katatonia, etc.) and should equally appeal to open-minded atmospheric metal and also to melodic prog rock supporters into bands like Rush, Marillion, Styx, Kansas, The Mission, Queensryche, Enchant, Threshold, Arena oreven Opeth and Katatonia."
    $13.00
  • "“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
    $15.00