Sonata Arctica

Serenity – Nemesis A.D. Review

Serenity – Nemesis A.D. Review

“Austria’s Serenity had a pretty good run over these last 10 years. Starting life as a progressive-minded power metal act, by the time 2013s War of Ages hit the streets they’d shifted to a more streamlined and grandiose style, sounding like Kamelot cross-bred with Sonata Arctica and Avantasia. The formula worked very well due to consistently solid, memorable songwriting and albums like Codex Atlanticus and Lionheart had a lot to offer fans of larger-than-life symphonic power metal. 2020s The Last Knight was a step backward, dumbing down their sound while trying to make it more poppy and accessible, with bright synths and borderline club beats underlying the usual pomp and circumstance. The end product was still Serenity but things sounded plastic, frail, and light on substance. Three years on we get their eighth album, Nemesis A.D.Serenity NOW!

Wonders – Beyond the Mirage Review

Wonders – Beyond the Mirage Review

“A supergroup of sorts—featuring members of Temperance, Serenity, and Even Flow, among many many others—Wonders play a triumphant, uplifting, adventure-bound sort of heavy/power metal. That means belted cleans, big stadium-crushing choruses, sparkling synths, speedy guitar chugs and noodles, double bass runs out the ass, and ten thousand metric tons of shredded cheddar.” If Wonder Bread was cheese.

Angus McSix – Angus McSix and the Sword of Power Review

Angus McSix – Angus McSix and the Sword of Power Review

“Hello, reader—can I call you reader? Let’s be honest with each other. You know exactly what to expect here. You know what kind of music this is; you know what this review is going to say; you do not need to skip to the end to know what score is coming. Even if you don’t know that the former vocalist for Gloryhammer Thomas Winkler has, since his dramatic departure from the group, started up anew with a Europe-spanning band called Angus McSix, even if you didn’t know that Gloryhammer and Winkler are well-known for their cheesy, over-the-top tales of fantasy, even if you haven’t glanced down and noticed that the preview song on Bandcamp for Angus McSix and the Sword of Power is called “Laser-Shooting Dinosaur,” you know.” Six appeal.

Kamelot – The Awakening Review

Kamelot – The Awakening Review

“I don’t really feel nostalgia for Kamelot. I tried getting into them when they released The Black Halo in 2005, which, though widely regarded as their best work, bounced off my DragonForce-pilled adolescent mind. To me, Kamelot was slow and boring, a brand of power metal that sacrificed the genre’s trademark excess in a bid to win over music intellectuals, socialites, and critics. Older and much wiser was I when the excellent Silverthorn dropped in 2012, which rekindled my interest in Kamelot as I devoured their back catalog. And then came the slow decline.” Of empires forlorn.

Frozen Crown – Call of the North Review

Frozen Crown – Call of the North Review

“In the early days of Frozen Crown, I was unsure exactly what they wanted to be. Hell, I’m not sure they knew the answer themselves. I described their formula as “awkward” in my review of The Fallen King back in 2018, and as much as I love that debut, its mashing together of Sonata Arctica, Wintersun, and Nightwish feels as charmingly disjointed today as it did five years ago.” The Crown and the bling.

Crom – The Era of Darkness Review

Crom – The Era of Darkness Review

CROM! I have not heard from you these many long years. I was completely blown away by 2008s Vengeance with its slick blend of epic Bathory-isms and power metal leanings, and I pledged my sword to your service. I was, however, somewhat disillusioned by 2011s Of Love and Death and its dialed-down might and majesty. I confess to being a lowly heretic and completely missing the gospel of the 2017 followup, and I need to make amends for my unholy ignorance. Now we come to the rather unexpected release of the fourth testament to all things Wotan, warrior-esque and wengeancy, The Era of Darkness.” Feel the steel.

Forsaken Eternity – A Kingdom of Ice Review

Forsaken Eternity – A Kingdom of Ice Review

“I like it when black metal is fun. And I know, I know, that’s not “the point” of the genre, except we’re way past the ‘90s and black metal is a whole lot cooler than it used to be. And if you don’t believe me, why not take a gander at that cover art and wilt under the crushing weight of your own doubts? Forsaken Eternity is a symphonic black metal act from the United States, and, despite having been around since 2015, A Kingdom of Ice is their debut full-length album. Here, we see a comparatively young band who plays it fast, plays it cool, and plays it pretty fun.” Forsaken frowny faces.

Gladenfold – Nemesis Review

Gladenfold – Nemesis Review

“I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed some solid Finnish metal. You know what I mean—the kind of metal that’s aggressive, adventurous, inspired by nature or history or something along those lines, with that je ne sais quoi that is the Finnish charm. I didn’t realize at the time that Gladenfold is a Finnish band though—mostly I just liked the album cover on Nemesis, and the promise of some solid melodeath helped too.” Race to the Finnish.

Lastera – From the Ashes Review

Lastera – From the Ashes Review

“If there’s one musical style I could argue “let me down” last year, it was power metal. Nothing really grabbed me, nothing impressed me, nothing stuck. That’s disappointing, mind you, because I generally love power metal in all its cheesy, crazy glory. So when I came upon From the Ashes, the debut full-length from Danish newcomers Lastera, I didn’t need much convincing to check it out.” Ash power.