Helloween

Trick or Treat – Creepy Symphonies Review

Trick or Treat – Creepy Symphonies Review

“Even though I have pigeonholed myself as the album art guy around here, when I’m selecting promos, I actually don’t often select an album based on the art. I usually go by one of three methods: completely blind (either random or letting a colleague select), selecting straight from the list (where the only information I have is artist, title, genre and label), or cherry picking (where I listen to singles until I find something I think I’ll like). Trick or Treat is an exception, because just look at this goofy-ass cartoon cover! Either this will be stupid enough to work, like Nanowar of Steel, or it’ll be too stupid to work, like most power metal. So which one is it?” Symphonies of slickness.

Sin Starlett – Solid Source of Steel Review

Sin Starlett – Solid Source of Steel Review

“Calling something new “NWoBHM” is a tricky proposition. Some bands and labels seem to fall on the description as a lazy synonym for Maiden, but that clearly only captures a slice of the historical scene. Sin Starlett’s tendency to swap out huge sections of the wardrobe between albums only amplifies the confusion in calling them simply “NWoBHM.” 2012’s awfully-named Throat Attack saw Starlett wear through the combined speed and pop sensibilities of Defenders of the Faith-era Judas Priest. 2016’s Digital Overload, meanwhile, saw the Starletts adopt thrashier trappings. The borderline thrash riffs and vocal barks seemed to signal a new direction for follow-up Solid Source of Steel. Wherever steel may roam.

Absolva – Fire in the Sky Review

Absolva – Fire in the Sky Review

“Meat n’ taters. It doesn’t get more basic, humble, and satisfying than that. The Manchester-based Brits in Absolva are the musical equivalent of that essential cuisine staple. Having the distinction of being the backing band for Blaze Bayley, the material they create on their own is very much in the Blaze school of classic British heavy metal – familiar, comforting, and satisfying. Fire in the Sky is their sixth album and finds Absolva playing to their strengths while sitting dead center in their comfort zone.” Back to basics.

Helloween – Helloween Review

Helloween – Helloween Review

Helloween gets 97.543% of the credit for creating what we now think of as the Euro-power metal sound. Led by the high-pitched wailing of Kai Hansen, their Walls of Jericho debut was a nonstop rush of speed and irresistible hooks, and Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I was less speedy but far more polished and majestic, featuring the vocal power of a young Michael Kiske. When it was announced that BOTH long absent frontmen would be returning to Helloween to join current frontman Andi Deris for a new album, I felt conflicted.” He should have squashed his expectations.

My Refuge – The Anger Is Never Over Review

My Refuge – The Anger Is Never Over Review

“Following a distinctly cheese-less 2021, I decided to cherry pick something smelly. A promo surfaced, bearing both the words “Italian” and “power.” Perfect. However, and disappointingly, a deeper dive into the one sheet showed that this is only four eighteenths of the story; although the founder and main man is indeed Italian, the core band comprises a Spaniard and a German, with a further 15 contributors from across the globe, covering Czech Republic, Turkey, Canada and Venezuela, among others. My Refuge and their second full-length release entitled The Anger Is Never Over takes international to the next level but is it good? Is it cheesy?” No sanctuary from the anger.

Immortal Guardian – Psychosomatic Review

Immortal Guardian – Psychosomatic Review

“Feats of sheer sonic escapism have defined much of my listening habits in the Covid era. The stronger an artist can nail a “larger than life” aesthetic in sound and concept, the better. My polyamorous affair with Bal-Sagoth and Galneryus has never burned brighter, while new favorites like Finsterforst have dominated my playlists. Immortal Guardian‘s debut Age of Revolution fits comfortably into a similarly overblown mold.” Topic blunder.

Iron Savior – Skycrest Review

Iron Savior – Skycrest Review

Iron Savior may not have started the whole Euro-power genre, but founder/vocalist/guitarist Piet Sielck certainly had his hands on the original putty as a member of the early version of Helloween. Though he never ended up recording with them, you can hear the influence of that protozoic era of power metal in everything Iron Savior does. Since their 1997 debut they’ve consistently churned out quality Euro-power with strong links to classic metal and they’ve always delivered it with more heft and muscle than 99.999% of their frilly be-shirted peers. Skycrest is their 12th platter of metallic anthems to the Metal Godz and things are as they should be.” Iron sharpens other iron.

Sorceress of Sin – Mirrored Revenge Review

Sorceress of Sin – Mirrored Revenge Review

“I decided to go for something epic to wrap up the year. It’s been a while since I reviewed any power metal or even just vanilla heavy metal, so I figured, what the hell? I’ll pick up UK’s Sorceress of Sin. Now, I’m not the biggest trad-heavy or trad-power fan, and 99% of the time the thing that kills my mood with the genre are vocals. Regardless of the skill exhibited, there are too many greats who adopt a tone and style that just does not appeal to me. Can Sorceress of Sin break the curse with their debut album Mirrored Revenge?” Mirrors of wengeance.

Scordatura – Mass Failure Review

Scordatura – Mass Failure Review

“Traditional death metal has, to my ears, endured more strongly than the base forms of other metal subgenres. Second wave idolizers have me regularly convinced that options for tremolo riffs dried up around the time Darkthrone released Panzerfaust, while modern practitioners of power metal infinitely scrawl tally marks on the tomb of Helloween‘s “Eagle Fly Free.” But something about classic death metal has proven impossibly recyclable; from Blood Incantation to Necrot, many of the best bands keep the style fresh by doing hardly anything new at all. Enter Scordatura, who do little to break this trend.” Failure is not an option.