Astral Doors

Astral Doors – Black Eyed Children Review

Astral Doors – Black Eyed Children Review

“Nils Patrik Johansson is a busy guy. Over the last two decades, the man’s cashed checks with the on-again, off-again Lion’s Share, the on-hiatus Wuthering Heights, and Civil War, who he recently bailed on because he didn’t have the time (go figure). His work arguably peaked with the momentous output of Astral Doors.” When one war closes, an Astral Door opens.

Nightmare – The Aftermath Review

Nightmare – The Aftermath Review

“Let’s face it, power metal is the drama club of the metal world. Members of said club tend to be overdramatic, artsy fartsy and prone to big gestures and frilly shirts. Needless to say, that makes them the target for the rest of metaldom and inevitably, lunch money gets stolen and nipples get twisted. However, none of that shit is going to fly with French power meisters Nightmare. You try to give them a wedgie or rear admiral and you may lose a tooth or six. Yep, these cats pack a lot of muscle and menace in their music and between the crunching guitars and rough and raucous vocals, you’ll forget all about the need to snicker.” But I thought drama club was cool!

Iron Fire – Voyage of the Damned Review

Iron Fire – Voyage of the Damned Review

Historically speaking, I think the main reason our esteemed AMG hired me, the ever humble Steel Druhm, as a reviewer/minion [I prefer the term “bitch,” actually – AMG] was to make me the resident power and traditional metal nerd (my amazing prose and rugged good looks didn’t hurt none either). While I’m predisposed to drool over most old school stuff (cause I’m old), I’m actually quite the elitist snob when it comes to power metal. There’s some good in that genre, but there are way more generic, bad and monumentally awful things lurking in the ether. Case in point, I’ve had a love/hate/meh relationship with Iron Fire over the years. Their Thunderstorm debut was decent and moderately rabble rousing, but things have been inconsistent since then and their discography reads like the good, the bad and the WTF? After being unmoved by their past few releases, I hoped for more from their seventh release, Voyage of the Damned. Turns out, I heartily appreciate the new lyrical slant toward outer space themes, as it’s a nice diversion from the usual “dragon ate my wizard’s maiden” schtick. It’s also safe to say, this is much better than expected and it slowly won me over, despite initial doubts. Roping in elements of Gamma Ray, Stratovarius, Grave Digger and Metalium, this features some highly enjoyable Euro-power with some surprisingly heavy moments. It also delivers far less generic freight than past Iron Fire shipments. While not exactly a “must hear” album, Voyage ends up being a solid release from a band with a spotty track record.

Wuthering Heights – Salt Review

Wuthering Heights – Salt Review

Well shiver me timbers, it’s a pirate metal concept album! Sure, Running Wild has been doing that since 1987 but can you ever really have enough pirate metal? Yarr, I think not me mateys! So it is with open arms I welcome Salt, the new album by Denmark’s Wuthering Heights. Salt is the band’s fifth release and although they began life in 1997 as a power metal unit, I am not exactly sure how to classify them now. They still have many elements of traditional power metal (fast, galloping rhythms, speedy yet melodic guitar work) but they have evolved into a far more progressive and unorthodox entity over time. So much so in fact, that yours truly couldn’t get into their past two releases because they were just too schizophrenic, scattered and disjointed. I will admit that after my initial few listens to Salt, I had exactly the same problem and was prepared to send this album down to Davey Jones’s Locker with a vicious cannonade along the lines of “ARRRRRR, she blows!!!!” Then slowly, the album’s buccaneer charm began to seep into my head and I started liking it (although at first I only liked parts of it and prepared to say it possessed merely “pieces of great, pieces of great”). However, after two days of soaking in the Salt, I have signed on for this expedition and am ready to pillage and quaff ale right along with Wuthering Heights.