Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Damnation Angels – The Valiant Fire Review

Damnation Angels – The Valiant Fire Review

“Do a quick Google (or should I say YouTube) search of vocalist PelleK. If you are not familiar with this name, you will discover that he loves selfies, modeled shots, filming himself singing other people’s shit, and acting in Norwegian TV shows. Though his solo work in Pellek is enough to make me wanna set myself on fire (which includes sixteen cover albums of EVERYTHING from Pokemon and Power Rangers themes to ’90s sitcom themes), his four-octave range is simply incredible. So, were Damnation Angels damnable fools for snatching him up for 2013’s Bringer of Light and 2015’s The Valiant Fire?” You know you want to hear those Pokémon themes.

Kaledon – Antillius: The King of the Light Review

Kaledon – Antillius: The King of the Light Review

“After the medieval dumpster fire that was the last Kaledon album, you’d be justified in asking why your friendly neighborhood Steel Druhm is reviewing their latest platter of hobbit beshirted LARP guild metal. Call me a glutton for punishment, but a certain morbid curiosity drove me to give the promo a spin to see if there was any improvement from last time.” They say morbid curiosity killed the cat, so will Steel pay for his wonderings ways or can this band step up to the big leagues…of orc metal?

Oliva – Raise the Curtain Review

Oliva – Raise the Curtain Review

“I’ve been following Jon Oliva’s career since I was a wee metal lad. I loved the classic Savatage albums like The Dungeons are Calling and Hall of the Mountain King and while I didn’t enjoy their eventual metamorphosis into a Broadway-like, show tuney act on later albums like Gutter Ballet and Handful of Rain, I always had a soft spot for Oliva’s singing. I also enjoyed a lot of the Jon Oliva’s Pain material even though it could be inconsistent. It was somewhat of a surprise to see him appear with this new eponymous act, but apparently Mr. Oliva felt the new moniker was more appropriate since this features music written by his deceased brother and former Savatage bandmate Criss Oliva.” A tribute album to a fallen brother is about as metal as it gets and Jon Oliva sure knows his metal. Join Steel Druhm for the red carpet review.

Avantasia – The Mystery of Time Review

Avantasia – The Mystery of Time Review

“You have to give Tobias Sammet his steely props. He doesn’t do things half-assed. Nope, he goes big, bold and lets the Metal Gods sort shit out. His Edguy material is plenty pretentious and overblown, but it can’t hold a magic candle to the sheer pretentious pomposity and bombast of his Avantasia project. Taking cues from Arjen Luccasen’s Ayreon outings, Sammet drags in every singer, guitarist and hanger-on he can and it seems he’s playing a metallic version of Pokemon (gotta catch em all). His last feat was the impressive double release of the Angel of Babylon and The Wicked Symphony albums (my fanboyish reviews of which, landed me a spot at AMG Industries, Ltd. for some reason), and I was very curious how he could top those massive platters of symphonic excess.” So how exactly does Mr. Sammet top his prior output? Steel Druhm is here to unravel the mysteries of time.

Circle II Circle – Seasons Will Fall Review

Circle II Circle – Seasons Will Fall Review

I’ll run the risk to my metal cred and admit I was a pretty big fan of late period Savatage. Albums like Edge of Thorns and Handful of Rain were so loaded with pre-Trans-Siberian Orchestra bombast and cheese-wizardry, they were nearly impossible to resist (despite my occasional snickers at the unhealthy Velveeta factor inherent therein). One of the big selling points was Zak Steven’s impressive vocal work. Though I always had a soft spot for the ten-pack-a-day rasp of Jon Oliva, Stevens breathed new life into the Savatage sound with his deep, powerful delivery and dramatic leanings. When he split off to form Circle II Circle, I wanted to be a big supporter, but too often the mix of mid-tempo hard rock/metal just didn’t push my buttons the same way. After five albums of material in the same vein as Jorn Lande‘s solo albums and the Allen/Lande project, only Watching in Silence and Burden of Truth stood out, with the rest feeling like tepid exercises in mundane writing and generalized malaise. Now comes platter number six, Seasons Will Fall.

Avantasia – Angel of Babylon Review

Avantasia – Angel of Babylon Review

Tobias Sammet, the voice of Edguy and mastermind behind Avantasia, clearly doesn’t mess around when it comes to self-confidence and ambition. Few artists would have the sheer cojones to undertake as daunting of a project as a double album with over 2 hours of music featuring no less than 19 guest musician. That however is exactly what he serves up with The Wicked Symphony and this album, Angel of Babylon (being Parts II and III of The Scarecrow trilogy respectively).