Angra

Turilli / Lione Rhapsody – Zero Gravity: Rebirth and Evolution Review

Turilli / Lione Rhapsody – Zero Gravity: Rebirth and Evolution Review

“Luca Turilli—the primary composer and guitar hero of various versions of [Luca Turilli’s] Rhapsody [of Fire]—represents one of two types of successful musicians, for me. I suspect that if one groups successful artists by attitude toward music, you’ll find two attitudes that can be grouped as either high or low openness to experience.” Guess who’s back to wax poetic about the new Turilli/Lione Rhapsody record? This motherfucking guy!

Qantice – The Anastoria Review

Qantice – The Anastoria Review

“Somewhere in my timeline of metal fandom, the term “symphonic metal” ceased to act as a flame for my moth-like tendencies. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when this occurred, but the source is not. Over time, artists began to implement symphonic elements as less of an enhancer and more of a blatant crutch. Bands utilizing full orchestrations have proven so successful under the Nuclear Blast banner that the ensuing deluge of Nightwish and Dimmu Borgir knock-offs still taints the AMG promo sump to this day. And that’s part of what makes Qantice so dadgum charming: they play highly ambitious symphonic power metal on their own terms.” Symphony for the Devil.

Rhapsody of Fire – The Eighth Mountain Review

Rhapsody of Fire – The Eighth Mountain Review

Rhapsody’s history has all the operatic drama required of its Italian heritage. Rhapsody, one of the ‘90s and early-aughts’ finest power metal bands, rose to prominence on the back of outstanding material before suffering a string of setbacks in the mid-2000s. After some legal drama and a triumphant return with two brilliant albums in two years, the band’s primary composers—Luca Turilli and Alex Staropoli—split the world in two.” Now Rhapsody of Fire is back with its third post-split album and first with a band new vocalist. What could go wrong?

Immortal Guardian – Age of Revolution Review

Immortal Guardian – Age of Revolution Review

“When I was first testing the waters of various metal subgenres over a decade ago, in order to familiarize myself with the scene as a whole, something became immediately apparent: I do not like virtuoso-helmed acts. Though bands like DragonForce, that relied on high-flying technical artistry, were standbys in my early days of metal fandom, it was clear to me as soon as I encountered a seventy-five minute, single-track instrumental shred album that indulgence at the cost of songwriting was standard practice.” Shred is not dead.

Manticora – To Kill to Live to Kill Review

Manticora – To Kill to Live to Kill Review

“Of all the hundreds of underground power metal acts that you will never, ever hear of, Manticora is one of only a handful deserving of widespread recognition. For twenty years and over the course of seven records, these good Danish boys have gradually shed their former obsession with Blind Guardian and Iced Earth, growing proggier and thrashier with each passing release to become one of the genre’s most stylistically distinct acts. Even with their evolutionary tendencies in mind, though, I could not have predicted the forward leap that To Kill to Live to Kill represents.” Nature or suture.

Eldritch – Cracksleep Review

Eldritch – Cracksleep Review

“It’s always more difficult to review a band with an established discography when you’ve never heard of them in the first place. Such is the case with Eldritch, a prolific Italian power metal outfit with a whopping 11 albums under their belt since their 1991 inception. Allegedly, their earlier works contained such influences as Metallica, Machine Head, and Pantera, but 17 years and a few line-up changes can do a lot to a band (right, Metal Magic?) In case of Eldritch, their experience has pushed power and progressive tendencies to the forefront, settling on a sound from the neighborhood of Angra for their new release, the curiously titled Cracksleep.” Eldritch non-elitist.

Angra – ØMNI Review

Angra – ØMNI Review

Angra‘s Secret Garden was a surprise for me. It captured my heart by being extraordinary in its execution, not its novelty. The record was a solid group of songs that were well-written, well-performed, and fun to listen to. But let’s not kid ourselves, aside from having a spunky new 23 year-old drummer and slightly used 41 year-old singer, Angra wasn’t really doing anything unexpected. The record was graced by Jens Bogren’s Industry Standard Power Metal Production™, a guest appearance by scene matron Doro Pesch, and it was a straight forward affair. Secret Garden‘s directness was charming in its lack of pretense, and I’ve come back to it a lot since then. So, three years later, 2018 starts off with Angra‘s newest record entitled ØMNI. And this time, they’ve gone and written an orchestral, progressive metal concept album about the future. So, how’d that work out for them?” AMG and Angra together again.

Armored Dawn – Barbarians in Black Review

Armored Dawn – Barbarians in Black Review

“Now here’s something you don’t see every day: a beefy-sounding Brazilian power metal act with no prior label releases appearing on a label as prominent as AFM. Armored Dawn is a sextet of South Americans who sound and write more like they hail from Germany or Scandinavia. With a certain preoccupation for Viking “lore” — just like half of all of metal — the band’s theme is nothing to write home about, but the album trailer sounded promising enough that I was eager to get my hands on this.” Viking lore or bore?

Novareign – Legends Review

Novareign – Legends Review

“Risking sideways looks around the break room, I harbor an innate soft spot for DragonForce. You can say what you want about their incessant need to beat their frets to death, but it still resulted in some damn catchy songs. Plus, I was that kid who was way better at Guitar Hero than everyone else. DragonForce couldn’t repel more girls if they wore orthodontic headgear with a d20 strapped to it, so naturally Teenage Mutant Metal Wvrm loved them. Novareign clearly feel the same way.” Welcome to Wankville.

Kobra and the Lotus – Prevail I Review

Kobra and the Lotus – Prevail I Review

Kobra and the Lotus is a Canadian melodic power band that first came onto my radar in 2012 with their self-titled debut. Fronted by the actually-legally-named Kobra Paige, the band’s third LP, Prevail I, is on Napalm Records, after releasing the debut on Spinefarm, and 2014’s High Priestess on Titan Music. Prevail I is, apparently, the first of two albums which will be released in quick succession, and it’s being marketed as produced by the guy who produced Amaranthe‘s records, with a debut single squarely marketed at people who like Delain. Since the band’s debut was a solid power metal album, this strategy raises a question for me: three full-lengths (and three labels) into this whole experiment of being named Kobra, how’s the whole thing going?” That’s a very personal question.