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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Pagan's Mind - God's Equation (2007)

Norwegian Progressive Power Metallers Pagan's Mind will be releasing their new album, God's Equation, on November 9th, and it has been a long wait of 2 years since their last. This release sees an even greater production quality (although the drums do sound just a tad flat, but not that noticeable) and fantastic progression in the band's sound.

While Dream Theater has gone to largely unlistenable territory unless you delight in listening to musical theory, Pagan's Mind has managed to find the right mix of progressive technicality and hooky endurability.

This is just one of their tracks from a previous album in case you're wondering:

The new album kicks arse. Listen to more of it here.

Animosity - Animal (2007) (Metal Blade)

I am not that huge a fan of such extreme mixes of grindcore and death. Admittedly the buzz surrounding Animosity's new release, Animal, got the better of me and I gave it a listen. The usual blastbeats and grindcore vocals (sometimes you do wonder why these vocals are even there) are all over the place, but surprisingly the tracks are growing on me. I still cannot differentiate between the different songs, but it could be the hangover I am experiencing over the weekend - hell those brutal riffs are slamming my head in.

There are some bright and heavy moments here that come close to looping in my cranial cavity ("Tooth Grinder", title track "Animal" and "You Can't Win") and it is absolutely certain that fans of the genre would trip over themselves with the glowing reviews.

Listen to more of Animal here.

Galneryus - One For All, All For One (2007) (VAP)

One For All, All For One is Japanese Power Metal band Galneryus' 4th full length release. Now, if you still do not know who they are (well, I didn't until a couple of months back), check out this video:

The guitarist Syu is one helluva player.

In case you were wondering - they sing mostly in English - and no noticeable accent so you can hear what Yama-B is crooning about. Extremely heavy and bombastic in parts.

Check out One For All, All For One here.

Elvenking - The Scythe (2007) (Candlelight Records)

This is as far removed from the original Elvenking sound as it could possibly get. You still get the folkish elements and power metal feel, but most of the riffs are extremely catchy (not a bad thing) but sound more like Linkin' Park trying to be power metal than an established band maturing in sound.

Long-time Elvenking fans are bemoaning the departure in sound towards a more commercially viable channel, but with Damnagoras sounding like a tired old Italian power metal vocalist nasally crooning through uninspired lyrics, the band has a greater chance of sticking to what they do best. The 'growls' are so watered down and rarely sprinkled over the whole album.

The Scythe does have its nice moments such as "A Riddle Of Stars" but a huge disappointment for any fan looking forward to a greater growth in their sound. It sounded like an effort from a band looking for its own identity instead of one that has just put out their 4th major release.

Sample The Scythe here.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Nightwish - Dark Passion Play (2007) (Spinefarm Records)

Finally, the long-awaited new album from Nightwish has hit the shelves. Armed with their new vocalist Anette Olzon, the band has surprised me with a terrifically strong release - one that I am enjoying more than their previous efforts. Olzon has a much more varied style compared to Tarja and the album contains many quality songs with greater depth and bombast. I have previously given some lukewarm reviews on their early singles, but after repeated listens of the album, I am now convinced the musical maturity of the band deserves widespread recognition and I look forward to global domination.

Sample Dark Passion Play here and here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Diablo Swing Orchestra - The Butcher's Ballroom (2007) (Candlelight)

Mix everything you've got in metal - riffs, death grunts, grind, rhythm, bass - and what you have with jazz, swing, operatic vocals and what you get is Diablo Swing Orchestra - pure musical fun and madness.

If not for the fact that I have the very first tune Ballrog Boogie on endless autoplay, I would be able to offer a long in-depth review. I even wonder if this should go under Metal, but it is simply brilliant - musical genius this enjoyable should be heard all over the world.

Check it out now!

Moonspell - Under Satanae (2007) (SPV)

Here's what the press release says:

"Under Satanae is the new full-length release of the Portugese Dark Metal band Moonspell. This album consists in a complete re-recording of all the existing pre-Wolfheart songs that includes not only all the tracks and instrumental pieces of the now lengendary avant-garde Under The Moonspell (considered by many fans as an Underground gem of Mediterranean Black Metal) but dives deep into the band's blackest roots in the shape of the infamous 1993 demo-tape Anno Satanae and further deep into Morbid God's (pre-Moonspell) only recorded 1992 song, the tenebrous Serpent Angel. The result is like drinking from a dark fountain of youth. The band has revisited these songs under the wheel of Tue Madsen (The Haunted, Dark Tranquility, Fight) at Denmark's finest Antfarm studios and introduced new and daring arrangements to the pieces retaining, at all times, the primordial dark force, enthusiasm and unique depth of the originals..."

Sample the album here.

Iced Earth - Framing Armageddon (2007) (SPV USA)

Well, the album has been out for a couple of weeks now and it is really storming the charts all over the world. No surprise as Jon Schaffer and gang continunes to rip up sound systems everywhere with quality power metal such as that served up on a golden platter with Framing Armageddon.

Everyone is in top form here - Tim 'Ripper' Owens with astounding vocals as always, Schaffer and guitarist partner Troy Seele blazing the audio arena with fiery fretwork, Dennis Hayes with a clear throbbing bass and Brett Smedley's pounding skinwork.

There's the usual Iced Earth trademark staccato rhythm galloping you across the vast plains of metal mayhem, peppered with Owen's incredible screams and powerful Halford-like vocal melodies. Hooks abound in every song, making each of them memorable in their own right, and all foreseeable anthems when the band embarks on their world tour in support of the album's release.

A massive release and as mentioned before, definitely a strong contender for Metal Album of the Year 2007.

Get Part 1 sample here.

Get Part 2 sample here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Deep - The Deep Demo (2007)

The Deep reminds me of a less focused version of progressive death legends Atheist. While the band display much aggression and intensity in their sound, with doublebass galore, however their songs seem to meander aimlessly at times. There is also a distinct lack of melody or listenability, and the band has sacrificed complexity for proper song craft.

Still this is a demo and hopefully the final product will be much better.

Sample it here...

Drudkh - Estrangement (2007) (Supernal Music)

Here's what the press release says of this new release from the Black Metal band:

"After their Neo-Folk opus, 'Songs of Grief and Solitude', with this latest effort Drudkh returns to their Black Metal roots, with five long compositions in the epic and melancholic vein of 'Forgotten Legends', although with better sound, organic drums, and brilliant bass playing, in sum displaying the sophistication of 'Blood in Our Wells'."

If you ask me, I am not sure why they have so many fans, or even people who would pay to buy this album. I might be missing something, but so many Black Metal bands really should do something about their production. I might have been pampered by the superior production and recording quality of other metal releases, but paying my hard earned money on such extremely poor sound is a no-no. What's more, they are releasing this on a marketing strategy of limited editions.

That said, the compositions are epic and hint of great listenability and endurability if only you could actually hear some low end crunch. The drums sound like they were made out of cardboard.

I wouldn't get this at all when it comes out, but I know there are lots of fans. So here sample this...

Arch Enemy - Revolution Begins (Single) (2007) (Century Media)

This is the new single from Arch Enemy - a teaser for the full album release coming soon. The album review has been done previously so I will not go through it again. There are 2 tunes from the album itself - "Revolution Begins" and "Blood On Your Hands", with the addition of 2 other tracks - a Queensryche cover "Walk In The Shadows" and a fantastic live recording of "I Am A Legend/Out For Blood".

Check it out here...

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