Review

Helfahrt – Drifa Review

Helfahrt – Drifa Review

Folk and pagan metal seem to be the new melodic death these days, where every band with a fiddle or flute and a fondness for Renaissance Faires can produce “epic” songs of long-forgotten lore and jump on the bandwagon that trails behind genre leaders like Finntroll and Moonsorrow. After the recent whirlwind success of fellow Germans, Equilibrium, I had high hopes for Helfahrt and their third full-length album Drifa. Yes, the band’s name reads “Hell Fart” in English (though the english translation is roughly “the journey to Helheim and the land of the dead”). Now that that’s out of the way we can continue. You in the back, stop sniggering!

Steelwing – Lord of the Wasteland Review

Steelwing – Lord of the Wasteland Review

Steelwing? Never heard of them. I toss in Lord of the Wasteland to see what I am dealing with and POW!! I get punched right in the face by an angry, metal spiked fist from 1982! This Stockholm, Sweden based band may be young and only formed in 2009, but man can they bring the pure, unadulterated NWOBHM power to the party. On this, their debut album, they shamelessly steal the best recipes from Iron Maiden, Saxon, Grim Reaper and Warlord and cook up a surprisingly fresh sounding, if utterly unoriginal metal meatloaf of riffs and attitude with enough cheese coating to choke a mastodon. Steelwing gives you eight fast and furious traditional metal anthems played by musicians who clearly worship at the altar of early 80’s metal and know exactly how that epoch of metal should sound.

Avantasia – The Wicked Symphony Review

Avantasia – The Wicked Symphony Review

So here we have The Wicked Symphony, one of two new albums released this week by Avantasia, the brainchild of one Tobias Sammet (Angel of Babylon being the companion album). Many of you likely know Mr. Sammet as the singer of German power metallers Edguy. Avantasia is his long running mega-sized side project where he collaborates with varied musicians across the metal/hard rock spectrum and experiments with moods and sounds that might not necessarily fit within the paradigm of the more straightforward Edguy. Wicked Symphony and Angel of Babylon complete the trilogy started by 2008’s Scarecrow album. For an easy point of reference, think of Avantasia as a more metalized and less (but still quite) self-indulgent version of Ayreon.

Skyforger – Kurbads Review

Skyforger – Kurbads Review

Skyforger is Latvia’s answer to folk metal and they’ve been giving it a go for quite a while. Despite having been around since 1995, however, they’ve not produced a terribly huge discography. In fact, Kurbads is the first Skyforger album since 2003, when they self-released a folk album that was mightily well-received by their fanbase, even, apparently, more so their metal album from the same year Thunderforge. The band, for the record, has also been involved in a bit of controversy surrounding the use of, what the band calls a thundercross, and what the rest of us call a swastika in their logo. But it seems the band has worked very hard to distance themselves from any of the controversy surrounding this and should be approached from a non-political stance.

1349 – Demonoir Review

1349 – Demonoir Review

I first became acquainted with 1349 at their landmark Hellfire album which marked them as leaders of the post-90’s Norwegian black metal scene. It seems with their subsequent release, Revelations of the Black Flame, they lost a lot of support from their “true” supporters for their favoring more ambient passages and relying more on atmospherics than blistering black metal. Luckily, 1349’s latest offering attempts to strike a balance between the two extremes in the genre and Demonoir looks like a very solid album, treading the waters between dark ambient and black metal to great effect.

Order of Ennead – An Examination of Being Review

Order of Ennead – An Examination of Being Review

Order of Ennead is the side project of the venerable Steve Asheim, better known as the drummer and primary writer of death metal legends Deicide. While it’s hard to a review like this, particularly on a newer project like this, without referencing the guy’s older work, the responsible reviewer in me thinks that one should probably draw a line here. Instead, I’d like to focus on the content and quality of An Examination of Being, the second record from these Floridians blackened death metallers without taking cheap shots at Glen Benton. So I’ll just take one: Order of Ennead is better because Glen Benton isn’t in it.

Triptykon – Eparistera Daimones Review

Triptykon – Eparistera Daimones Review

There are some musicians that are capable of making a sound, no matter how simple, but always make it sound distinctive to the composer. In the same way, all of Thomas Gabriel Warrior’s creations have a distinct feeling and mark to them, which is why I’m so glad we have this new band on the scene. Warrior has teamed up with three young musicians to continue his creation through the new name, and judging by this record, Triptykon is a name we’ll he hearing more of in the not so distant future.

Warrior had stressed before that this CD would be Monotheist part two, which to me is a relief. After the brilliant Monotheist, I was left wanting much, much more. I’m not saying that Monotheist was too short or unsubstantial, Monotheist had the stamp of Warrior plastered over every sound that was put on the record. If you were in love with Monotheist, like me, you would have had nowhere else to turn to get a similar experience. The terrifyingly gripping feeling just couldn’t be found anywhere else in the metal scene.

Kiuas – Lustdriven Review

Kiuas – Lustdriven Review

As a young lad, my dear mother strove to teach me two important things: first, don’t be an angry metal boy/guy, and secondly, never judge others. Well, as an angry metal guy reviewing albums I’d say I’m a major disappointment, but I really can’t say that I’m as big of a disappointment as the meaning of the Finnish band Kiuas’ name. Kiuas is a Finnish word that roughly translates into sauna stove or stove of sauna. So, in essence, this band is called “SAUNA STOVE?” These guys lose Angry Metal Points.

Tarot – Gravity of Light Review

Tarot – Gravity of Light Review

Talk about a long-suffering, unheralded and unsung band! Tarot has been slogging through the metal trenches in relative obscurity outside of their native Finland since 1986. For many non-Finnish folk (myself included), Tarot was an unknown quantity until lead singer and founder Marco Hietala joined up with Nightwish in 2002 for their Century’s Child outing, thereby drawing much needed attention to his primary recording outfit. It has been nearly four years since 2006’s Crows Fly Black, but finally the metal underdogs of Tarot are back in action with their eighth album, Gravity of Light.

Rhapsody of Fire – The Frozen Tears of Angels Review

Rhapsody of Fire – The Frozen Tears of Angels Review

It seems forever since Italian power metallers, and just generally over-the-top crafters of Symphonic Hollywood Metal (or as I called it in one of my very earliest reviews “Sword Swinging Elf Metal”) produced an album. And really, in terms of the modern music industry it has been a very long time. Rhapsody of Fire’s last album, Triumph or Agony, was released in 2006 to almost no fanfare. I didn’t see a single advertisement for the album, I never knew that it was being released and I had no idea that they had even been working on a new album at all. One day I just walked into my local record store and saw it on the shelf there. The total lack of build-up foreshadowed how I felt about the album, and frankly the record that had gone before it: it lacked what I was looking for in a Rhapsody of Fire album. The guitar orientation was gone, the songs were not as huge, the guitar not as bombastic and the feel was generally one that I just could never really get into. Both Symphony of Enchanted Lands pt. II and Triumph or Agony, while technically filling the standards set by the band, certainly didn’t live up to what I see as the band’s crowning jewel Power of the Dragonflame.