Anubis Gate

Steel Druhm’s Top 10(ish) of 2011

Steel Druhm’s Top 10(ish) of 2011

We made it through another year here in Angry Metal World. We overcame Terminal Reviewer Burnout Syndrome, careers and personal lives, just to bring you more of our self-righteous, ego-driven babbling and blathering. Why did we do it? Because we care so damn much! Now, as the year grinds us all towards inevitable doom, it falls to me to get the metal wheel a rollin and name my picks for the best albums of 2011. This was a pretty solid year, so it was tough to figure out which albums belonged where, but you demanded it, so I’m delivering the goods, Yeah!

Lance King – A Moment in Chiros Review

Lance King – A Moment in Chiros Review

Lance King, like Elvis, is everywhere. He’s sang for a ton of bands (Balance of Power, Pyramaze, Avian, Empire etc. etc.), he runs Nightmare Records and still found the time to record and release his first solo album, A Moment in Chiros. For those unfamiliar with his body of work, Mr. King is the quintessential prog-power metal singer. His voice is versatile, powerful and his range is impressive. He sounds equally at home alongside melodic power metal and thoughtful prog-metal. For his debut solo project, he’s brought in elements of both and made damn sure everything is super-duper melodic, even symphonic at times. To assist him in this endeavor, he recruited a mighty host of friends, including members of Anubis Gate, Beyond Twilight and Adagio. The final product (which was apparently written and recorded in only three months) will remind many of Empire-era Queensryche mixed with elements of Dream Theater, Pagan’s Mind, Anubis Gate and of course, Lance’s other units, especially Balance of Power. There are moments where Lance and company shine as bright as the sun and there’s some interesting material here for fans of power-prog. However, A Moment in Chiros struggles with the consistency of quality and this ultimately hurts things, which is a real shame.

Voyager – The Meaning of I Review

Voyager – The Meaning of I Review

Now here’s something quite a bit different! Australia’s Voyager has been tinkering with their odd blend of progressive space metal for a while now. However, here on album number four The Meaning of I, they’ve really hit on the perfect blend of influences and styles. Taking elements of traditional, power, progressive and even death metal, Voyager fuses it all together and the result is an odd, hyper-melodic and unique album that’s as intelligent as it is catchy (and its VERY catchy). As a big fan of their 2009 release I Am the Revolution, I expected great things and even I was surprised by how good this ended up. With traces of Nevermore, Star One, Tyr, Pagan’s Mind, Scar Symmetry, Vanden Plas and Anubis Gate swirling about in a creative maelstrom, you should certainly expect the unexpected. Despite the plethora of influences, The Meaning of I ends up a cohesive and compelling release with one killer song after another and brains til Tuesday. In case that doesn’t have you interested yet, they may be the only metal band currently using a melodica both in the studio and live. Call them spacey-prog or astral-metal but whatever tag you throw on them, they rock muchly. Can you tell Steel Druhm is impressed? He is.

Anubis Gate – Anubis Gate Review

Anubis Gate – Anubis Gate Review

Denmark’s Anubis Gate seems fairly unstoppable. After two above average releases in the early part of the millenium, their 2007 opus Andromeda Unchained was a huge breakthrough and one of the best albums that year. 2009’s follow-up The Detached was nearly as good and also one of the year’s best. Now in 2011, they do it yet again with this self titled platter, all the more impressive since they lost the talents of stellar vocalist Jacob Hansen shortly before recording. Anubis Gate specialize in hyper-melodic metal with a fair amount of progressive leanings. To my ears, they always had a strong similarity to Vanden Plas and they excel at crafting memorable and super catchy metallic hymns. Now that bassist Henrik Fevre has stepped in on vocals, the Vanden Plas similarities increase ten-fold since his voice is very much like that of Plas’s Andy Kuntz. This is not a bad thing at all and Fevre does a smash up job as we’re given a whole new set of proggy, melodic metal with the typically strong songwriting these chaps are known for. These guys just know how to write memorable music and I’m happy they maintained their high level of output.

Star One – Victims of the Modern Age Review

Star One – Victims of the Modern Age Review

Arjen Lucassen, I may have misjudged you. You see, Mr. Lucassen and his projects tend to invoke very different reactions depending on which segment of the Angry Metal demographic one asks. To some, his celebrity studded prog-rock and metal projects with Ayreon and Star One are overblown, self-indulgent, pretentious and worthy of scorn and ruthless mockery (I’ve heard “Gayreon” tossed around more than a little). Others will tell you the man is a musical genius and crafts some of the most adventurous progressive metal out there today. Yours truly was firmly rooted in the former camp (as is AMG, admit it!!) but I’ll concede that parts of Star One’s first album Space Metal ended up being a guilty pleasure despite the cheesy and lightweight “sci-fi metal” concept and sound [Whereas, I reviewed it back in the day on Unchain the Underground and thought it was self-indulgent shit. – AMG]. Well, I’m mighty shocked at the direction Mr. Lucassen has opted to take album number two, Victims of the Modern Age. This is a far FAR heavier, more metallic album, taking the basic foundation of Star One and toughening it up in every way. This is so metallic and straight forward that it sounds nothing like any of Mr. Lucassen’s other works.