Fallen Sanctuary – Terranova

Terranova Album Cover Art

Fallen Sanctuary – Terranova
AFM Records

Release Date: 24/06/22
Running Time: 01:01: 47

Review by Laura Barnes
9/10

I won’t beat around the bush here: this album absolutely rules. 

Power Metal gets a pretty bad rep within the Metal scene, and it’s easy to understand why. With its surplus of historically inaccurate Viking helmets and bizarre but enduring obsession with wolves, Power Metal is (aside from Black Metal, of course) the easiest Metal subgenre to make fun of. Alongside its many quirks, Power Metal is also criticised for its repetitiveness. For a subgenre that claims to be massively influenced by fantasy, there is often a distinct lack of imagination that can make Power Metal hard to get excited about – after all, there are only so many times you can hear about a big shiny dude with a big shiny sword fighting a big scary dragon before it gets stale. In such an overcrowded landscape, it is tragically easy to forget just how awesome and life-affirming this music can be when it is done right.

So, thank you Fallen Sanctuary, for reminding me. 

“Terranova” is an album that soars, an album that bounces with energy and joy, even in its darkest moments. Fallen Sanctuary’s enthusiasm is as contagious as it is obvious, and I can guarantee that after a couple of listens you’ll be jumping on your bed and singing into your hairbrush like a thirteen-year-old girl in a smelly battle jacket. This album may be Fallen Sanctuary’s debut, but it is far from their first melodic rodeo. Fallen Sanctuary’s founding members include Serenity vocalist Georg Neuhauser and Temperance guitarist Marco Pastorino, and it is clear that they have brought all of their song-writing experience to the table, resulting in a sound that is way more mature and consistent than your Average Joe’s debut album. In fact, the album is so consistently good that it’s mighty hard to pick out highlights, but I’ll try my best! ‘Now and Forever’ and ‘To The Top’ are two fiery, fist-pumping anthems, and the inclusion of keyboards gives ‘To The Top’ that softer emotive edge. ‘Rise Against The World’ is a track that really showcases Fallen Sanctuary’s range; poppy choruses meet with a thunderous bridge and an electrifying guitar solo. ‘Destiny’ fizzes with a Classic Metal kick that is almost Maiden-esque. ‘I Can’t Stay’ is the obligatory Power Metal ballad that no self-respecting Melodic Metal album could go without. Granted, it’s a little cheesy, but so is pizza and pizza is, of course, the best savoury dish in human history, so get over yourself and enjoy this delicious cheddar already!

Whilst “Terranova” can hardly be accused of re-inventing the Melodic Power Metal wheel here, they do certainly sand-down the wheel’s rough edges. The production is nice and glossy, and the song-writing is tight and compact; you never once feel like a song is overstaying its welcome. Fallen Sanctuary do set themselves apart from other Power Metal bands lyrically, however. Instead of songs about, er, wolves or something, Fallen Sanctuary are more interested in things like interpersonal relationships, climate crisis, and drug addiction. Title track ‘Terranova’ is a great example of this as it hauntingly depicts the physical, emotional, and interpersonal consequences of drug addiction (however this renders the spoken word segment at the end unnecessary, admittedly). The vulnerability displayed though these lyrical themes really give the album staying power and proves that Fallen Sanctuary’s song-writing go beyond crafting catchy verses and sick guitar solos. With such strong performances across the board, the fact that this is Fallen Sanctuary’s debut album and not their third or fourth is mind-boggling.

All in all: this album absolutely fucking rules. 

TRACKLISTING:
01. Terranova
02. Now And Forever
03. Broken Dreams
04. Rise Against The World
05. To The Top
06. Destiny
07. I Can’t Stay
08. Trail Of Destruction
09. No Rebirth
10. Bound To Our Legacy
11. Wait For Me

LINE-UP:
Georg Neuhauser – Vocals
Marco Pastorino – Guitar
Alfonso Mocerino – Drums
Gabriele Gozza – Bass

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Laura Barnes and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Spheric Universe Experience – Back Home

Back Home Album Cover Art

Spheric Universe Experience – Back Home
Uprising Records
Release Date: 20/05/2022
Running Time: 68:59
Review by Chris Galea
9/10

When, caught in a moment of boredom, I decided to give this promo a listen, for some reason I braced myself to endure something predictable and tedious. First couple of tracks flew by and I told myself: “Hold on, this ain’t that bad.” More tracks, and my thoughts became: “Hey this is damn good stuff.” In the end “Back Home” turns out to be one of the strongest Power Prog Metal releases I’ve heard in quite a while. But before I attempt to justify this stance…who is the band?

Spheric Universe Experience (S.U.E.) are from France and Uprising Records compares them to Dream Theatre, Symphony X, Pagan’s Mind and Threshold….all bands whose influence is noticeable on “Back Home”, the band’s fifth album. To that list I would also add Ayreon and Artension. Essentially this is a concept album about a group of space-travellers on their journey back home.

Music and lyrics are very well balanced and, despite its length, your mind never strays when the album is spinning. There’s both heaviness and atmosphere and pomp that’s held securely on a leash. While the keyboards don’t detract from the heaviness they also represent an important dimension of the band’s sound. Sort of like Royal Hunt.

When writing reviews I try to focus on both sides of the coin but with “Back Home” I struggled to find anything negative to say. Even the singing of S.U.E.’s Franck Garcia is quite good….his voice sounds powerful but melodic and he shifts from subtlety to aggression with apparent ease.

Some examples of all this….’Legacy’ showcases catchy melodies, strong riffs and great musicianship. On the other hand ‘Synchronicity’ is one of the album’s instrumental tracks – despite its lack of lyrics it manages to bring to life the concept’s moods at that point in the story.

Everything in “Back Home” seems to blend together seamlessly, a factor that’s doubtlessly helped by the commendable production quality.

Yes, this is a very good album and when it comes out, don’t let it slip you by.

‘Where We Belong’ Official Video:

TRACKLISTING:
01. On Board SUE5-2469
02. Final Fate
03. Where We Belong
04. Transcending Real Life
05. Senses Restored
06. Legacy
07. Defenders Of Light
08. Synchronicity
09. The Absolution pt.1
10. The Absolution pt.2
11. Rebirth
12. Of The Last Plague
13. Dreams Will Survive

LINE-UP:
Franck Garcia – vocals
Vince Benaim – guitar
John Drai – bass
Fred Colombo – keyboards
Romain Goulon – drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Chris Galea and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Desert Near The End – The Dawning of the Son

The Dawning of the Son Album Cover Art

Desert Near The End – The Dawning of the Son
Boersma Records 
Release Date: 27/05/2022
Running Time: 42:39
Review by Rory Bentley 
7.5/10

We get a fair few releases from the sun-kissed shores of Greece in the Ever Metal inbox, normally of a high standard and adorned with some superb album artwork and offering an interesting take on an established genre. I don’t know what it is about the Mediterranean climate that produces quality Heavy Metal but if I keep getting bands like Desert Near The End in my inbox I’m gonna have to stick a few obnoxious holiday shirts (you mean normal Diceratops stage wear? – Dark Juan) in my bag and hit up Sky Scanners to see what it’s all about first hand. And eat a shit load of feta.

“The Dawning of the Son” smacked me round the chops from the moment I hit play with its skilful fusion of Thrash and Extreme Metal, with what I shall henceforth term the ‘good bits’ from Power Metal. By ‘good bits’ I mean rousing, swaying choruses, thundering pace and soaring, melodic guitar leads. My first take was Blind Guardian on steroids but this doesn’t give the full picture.

There is a Death Metal attack to the songs here, perfectly exemplified in the opening duo of ‘Break The Chains’ and ‘Rise for Dominion’, where traditional Metal and all its palatable catchiness is played with such ferocity and venom that even the most stone-faced Trve Metal lad with a t-shirt bearing a logo that looks like the time I had to trim my neighbour’s intrusive tree branches couldn’t help but register a nod of approval.

In fact outside of Kreator, I don’t recall hearing a balls out Thrash band able to walk the tightrope of pit-destroying riffs and (drinking)  horn-raising battle anthems so effortlessly. There are parts like the warpspeed tremolo and blastbeat section of ‘Obsidian Angel’ that sound at home on an icy Nordic fjord, yet there’s always an epic lead line that erupts from the melee to add some polish and grandeur without cancelling out the absolute filth that’s gone before it. I’ve heard so many bands attempt this trick this year without sticking the landing, normally taking me out of the cauldron of searing extremity and wiping the glass-shitting expression off of my scowling face to the point where it just feels like I’ve gone from barrelling down the highway with the top down to being stuck in traffic on my commute.

Vocally everything is totally on point here as well. There’s a touch of Hansi Kürsch at his most agitated here mixed with the razor-throated percussive enunciation of Mille Petrozza that perfectly traverses the Power and Extreme poles that the band forge together (presumably in steel). As somebody that is a fussy eater with Metal vocals, this makes my job a whole lot easier.

Although the runtime is relatively tight, I did find myself flagging a little towards the final few tracks despite ‘Beyond The Gates’ finishing the record with panache and a gut-wrenching scream. Everything on here is well-executed and the band never stops giving it both barrels, but a little more judicious editing here and there and variety of pace would really take this to the next level.

With that being said it’s difficult not to be immensely impressed by this bubbling cocktail of styles and the top tier musicianship on show and overall this one comes highly recommended. A few nips and tucks here and there and a heavier focus on streamlining those choruses and Desert Near The End have a great shot at reaching the bigger audience their music deserves.

‘Rise For Dominion’ Official Lyric Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Break the Chains
02. Rise for Dominion
03. A Wolf Amongst Lions
04. Iron Rain
05. I am Hell and Hell is Me
06. Wound My Way
07. Obsidian Angel
08. Beyond the Gates

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rory Bentley and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Moonlight Haze – Animus

Animus Album Cover Art

Moonlight Haze – Animus
Scarlet Records
Release Date: 18/03/22
Running Time: 43:45
Review by Simon Black
6/10

Italian Power/Symphonic metallers Moonlight Haze surprised me with their sophomore release last time round, as that album had a distinctive edge and caught me out being way more than a Nightwish clone done Italian Operatic Metal style. Sadly this time round, the edge has largely gone and this is much more safe and predictable, at least at first. Now I know there’s a good market for material in that vein, but two years back I really liked the fact that singer Chiara Tricarico really pushed her voice in a couple of places rather than playing it clean and operatic throughout. There’s touches of that here, but not enough and the overall tone and energy of the pace takes a long time to get into its stride. 

It’s not until we’re at the halfway point of ‘Midnight Haze’ that this album really starts to pick up the pace and step up to the mark. From that point forward it’s almost like I’m listening to two very different sets of material fused together, and that latter half is way more effective than the radio-friendly drift of the first half. I really am not going to spend any more time discussing the first five songs, as it really is from that sixth song that this becomes worthwhile.

From then on to the end, the pace belts up a couple of notches, bringing some much needed energy and a lot more technical virtuosity to boot. And in a good way too, as being overtly technically showy can really drown out the song structures. Not only does this salvage things somewhat, but from here on Tricarico is really pushing her voice more, and that slightly more dangerous edge saves the day.

She does turn the operatic back on for the album’s closer ‘Horror & Thunder’ but then there’s also a male voice to duet with to provide tonal contrast, which again works well. Duet’s aside, I really wish (and I said it when I reviewed the “Lunaris” album a couple of years ago) that they would ditch the overt radio friendly elements and concentrate on the heavier belters, because that’s when their sound becomes stronger and more distinctive. Nevertheless, not a bad effort but not as strong overall as their sophomore.

‘Animus’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Nothing
02. It’s Insane
03. Kintsugi
04. Animus
05. The Thief And The Moon
06. Midnight Haze
07. Tonight
08. Never Say Never
09. We’ll Be Free
10. Ritual Of Fire
11. Horror & Thunder

LINE-UP:
Chiara Tricarico – Vocals
Giulio Capone – Drums / Keyboards
Alessandro Jacobi – Bass
Alberto Melinato  – Guitars
Marco Falanga – Guitars.

LINKS:

Moonlight Haze Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Chronomancy – Shadows In Atlantis

Shadows In Atlantis Album Cover Art

Chronomancy – Shadows In Atlantis
Fighter Records
Release Date: 08/03/2022
Running Time: 55:00
Review by Rory Bentley
8/10

Hey look! Another review of a Power Metal adjacent album by me – bet I’m gonna slag it off again and talk about how it’s not as good as Sick Of It All’s back catalogue eh? Because I hate anything that’s not either NY Hardcore or some pretentious Post-Rock band with a name that you can’t even pronounce aloud right? Well dear reader you are mistaken. I’m just really, really picky about the Trad / Power end of the Metal genre and thankfully this tasty little collection of songs will see nary a turned up nose or derisory snicker from yours truly.

Chronomancy have so many of the attributes I love about the Epic Heavy Metal genre. They have a superb sense of melody, excellent songwriting chops and a commanding vocalist who (for the most part) stays on the right side of cheese.

Normally when I push play on an album hailing from the melodic end of metal I find myself apprehensively wincing at the prospect of terrible vocals, normally from some guy straining to hit arbitrary high notes because he feels like he has to follow the Power Metal template. Imagine my delight then, when my man Chris A.D. Paschalidis storms in after the jaunty bagpipe intro of opener ‘Rebirth’ with a warm, powerful baritone voice. I’m all about baritone singers in Metal and I believe they make the more bombastic styles of the genre far more palatable than their ball-squeezing peers. You only have to look at the huge crossover success of Powerwolf and Sabaton to see that a more masculine, rich vocal tone can bring new converts to the cause.

Whether soaring confidently over a rousing chorus or layered into a one man choir, Chris puts in an excellent performance throughout the record, faltering slightly on the chorus of ‘Magnum Opus’ where his  weak falsetto harmony tips over into a level of cringe that he’s otherwise deftly avoided.

This isn’t just a one man show of course, the guitar work throughout is excellent with every song full of melodic lead lines every bit as catchy and memorable as the vocal hooks, case in point the spooky banger ‘Dance Of The Vampires’. They also have robust riffs that pack the kind of punch often lacking in this treble-heavy style as displayed on the doomy vibes of ‘The Hunting Song’. In fact the rhythm work is so impactful I find myself wishing that it had a higher place in the overall mix. I understand the desire to present the strident vocals front of centre but even I, a vain prima donna lead singer myself, acknowledge that when it comes to metal the power of the riff compels thee.

Getting the production and mix right for these sort of albums is always a challenge, more often than not requiring a hefty budget so it’s a shame that these really quite excellent songs don’t hit as hard as they perhaps could if they had some big label cash behind them. Nuclear Blast – sign them up lads!

The only other minor niggle I have is, of course, the album length. Although there’s no major dips in quality, I do think dropping a couple of tracks would be conducive to a more cohesive listening experience. These are all minuscule quibbles, most of which are out of  a small band’s control, but I was really pleasantly surprised by the confidence and sophistication on display here particularly by a band on their second album. I’ll definitely be bumping this one long after this review goes up and if you’re looking for something to tide you over until that new Blind Guardian record drops you could do a lot worse than “Shadows In Atlantis”

‘Dance of the Vampires’ – Official Audio

TRACKLISTING:
01. Rebirth
02. Dance of the Vampires
03. Pilgrims in a Foreign Land
04. The Voyager
05. Seven Deadly Kins
06. The Hunting Song
07. Magnum Opus
08. Thunderchild
09. Legions of Mist
10. Shadows in Atlantis
11. Up With the Phoenix

LINE-UP:
Chris A.D. Paschalidis – Vocals
Tyrtaeus Kamarinos – Guitars, Flute Recorder, Backing Vocals
Yiangos Sourbis – Guitars
Thanos “Somber” Dogranlis – Bass 
Mary Sypoula – Keys, Backing Vocals 
Kyriakos Tsakalidis – Drums

LINKS:

Chronomancy  Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of rory Bentley and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

EMQ’s With THE DARK HORDE

The Dark Horde Logo

EMQ’s With THE DARK HORDE

Hello Everyone. Welcome to another EMQs interview this time with Australian Heavy/Power Metallers, The Dark Horde. Huge thanks to their Guitarist/Keyboard player/Vocalist, Logan Jacobs, For taking part. 

What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?

My name is Logan Jacobs, I mainly play guitar in the band but also play keyboards and bass. The idea for the band and album was originally created by Brewin many years ago. Different musicians over the years have worked with Brewin to create ideas and some demos for the project to get where it is now.

How did you come up with your band name?

The band name was taken from a novel that Brewin released in 2012 titled The Dark Horde and serves as a sequel to the album. By listening to the album then reading the book, you get a more detailed telling of the Dark Horde story and the horrors within.

What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?

Being from Melbourne, Australia, we are lucky to have a great local scene but also get major bands coming from all over the world which is exciting. There always seems to be a good gig every weekend (when we’re not in a pandemic!) It can sometimes be a bit overwhelming with so many great bands around and you really are spoiled for choice no matter what sort of genres you like.

What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)

The latest release has been the concept album “The Calling” which follows the tragic story of a young boy named Henry. The story goes back and forth between a young version of Henry and an older version detailing his life and the strange occurrences that take place.

Who have been your greatest influences?

There are so many to choose from! The biggest influences for me would have to include: Def Leppard, Whitesnake, KISS, AC/DC, WASP, Crimson Glory, John Carpenter, Jason Becker and Mike Slamer.

What first got you into music?

I would always listen to music in the car when I was younger and my parents were driving but the first thing that really made me take notice and say “I have to do that!” was when my father brought a VHS tape of some older AC/DC music videos. There was a video of a live performance of ‘High Voltage’ and I was in awe at a sea of people singing and going crazy for this band. It was soon followed by seeing the music video for Kiss – ‘I Was Made For Loving You’. It was like a comic book came to life and they were real life superheroes. That’s when I decided I needed to learn guitar and wanted to do all these cool things.

If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?

An absolute dream would be to be able to play and do a song or album with John Sykes. One of the best riff makers and guitar players that has ever lived.

If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?

I would have to say playing at Download in Donnington Park. The atmosphere seems absolutely electrifying and there’s no way you would have a bad time playing or listening to the amazing line-ups they have.

What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?

Nothing too serious just the odd message now and then.

If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?

Thanks so much for enjoying the music and I look forward to releasing more for people to enjoy in the near future.

If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?

Bon Scott.

What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?

I love the freedom of expression and being able to try to write and play things that can evoke different emotions just by sound. 90% of my guitars have Floyd Rose trems, which I love but changing strings or tuning them is the thing I hate the most!

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

At this point there’s not a single thing I would change.

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

Crimson Glory – “Transcendence”.

What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CDs, or Downloads?

Can’t go past a nice Vinyl.

What’s the best gig that you have played to date?

As the project was created to be a studio band, we haven’t played any gigs yet but we are looking at playing and putting on something soon so be sure to follow us on social media for the latest info.

If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?

Trying to make it as a YouTuber or Streamer ha-ha!

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

I would probably invite some of the members from my favourite bands but under the pretence that after a quick dinner we grab our instruments and spend hours just jamming and playing.

What’s next for the band?

The next thing is organising a gig to play some of the songs off the album and have people who were involved with the project play with their bands as well. It should be a great night!

What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?

The main two are: 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheDarkHorde 
Website (includes links to digital copies/streaming, physical copies/merch, youtube and review links and more): https://thebrewin.com/works/the-calling

Jaffa Cakes! Are they a cake or a biscuit?

Biscuit

Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Thank you for the wonderful questions and thanks to everyone for their support. We all look forward to bringing out more content for people to enjoy in the future.

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

HammerFall – Hammer Of Dawn

Hammer Of Dawn Album Cover Art

HammerFall – Hammer Of Dawn
Napalm Records
Release Date: 25/02/22
Running Time: 45:50
Review by Simon Black
8/10

“Hammer of Dawn” makes clear from its cover and song titles that this is classic HammerFall fare – so lots of references to hammers, myths and legends, the odd bit of medieval warfare, their ubiquitous mascot Hector, Templars and of course medieval mythical hammers wielded in war by Hector the Templar all at the same time… I wouldn’t want it any other way, as to be fair, I can only think of one bum album from these guys in all this time, which was the one time they deviated from their standard template (sorry “Infected”). The songs on here drip with the Melodic Metal refrains and Power Metal tropes that we love them for, although I remain consistently sad that this is an act that have really failed to make much of an impact here in the UK compared to the rest of the world. A word about this if you will indulge me. 

HammerFall are like many acts in their genre who are huge on the continent, tour constantly both as headliners at good size arenas and are regular fixtures on the festival circuit. Consequently they have a huge fan base over there. But not here in the UK. Here we are lucky to get one show per album cycle, usually in London, at somewhere tiny without the big productions and on a crappy mid-week slot that requires days off of work and ridiculous travel expenditure. In fact the only upcoming show they have over here is supporting Helloween later this year at the Brixton Academy and we’re only getting that because they are part of a full tour package.

The root of this problem lies with the way the small number of booking agencies that dominate the market work. The money they ask for is way above what the financial structures of the UK will support, so consequently bands never get to put in the touring work in the early days here that you need to become credible; consequently the festivals don’t book them because they aren’t a big enough draw (or will consume a disproportionate amount of the budget for the event). That’s a shame, because they deserve to be bigger here than they are.

There is an argument that once you have heard one HammerFall album, you’ve heard them all but personally I refute that. Certainly the Swedish five piece have been pretty damn consistent in both the style and tone of their many albums since they first appears in the early 1990’s at a time when retro traditional Heavy Metal was far from fashionable. Yet here they stubbornly remain in all their studded leather defiance and still it seems delivering the goods. They also managed the rare feat of becoming more successful with their second vocalist than their first, and let’s face it Joacim Cans distinctive and powerfully high vocals are one of the trademarks of this band’s sound. With him and band progenitor Oscar Dronjak being the sole survivors from the early days it shows what a hold these guys have over the sound to sustain such consistency over twelve studio albums and 29 years. Damn good song-writing goes a long way too…

A top drawer HammerFall record is normally bristling with anthemic floor-fillers of the kind that an audience in a festival crowd can yell along to without actually knowing the lyrics, but interspersed by strong melodic pieces that benefit from multiple listens. That song-writing strength to appeal to both the short term and long term listener is one hell of a feat, but in this instance we have an album that has more of the latter than the former. Much as I like having the time to develop the love for these, I also know that those heart thumping life-affirming hits are what HammerFall do best and it’s a shame that some of those more immediate punches aren’t immediately obvious from the first song or two. That said, I’m three spins in and this is growing on me somewhat. Normally HammerFall can pull off a really strong power ballad as well, but to be brutally honest ‘Not Today’ is actually the weakest song on here, despite Cans spectacular vocal range, so I will be sticking to the belters this time out.

The production sound is slightly different, with an interestingly echoey effect on Cans’ vocals, but actually it works quite well. ‘Venerate Me’ is classic anthemic HammerFall and ‘Reveries’ as well feels like it might make its way to my playlists, but fundamentally I’m nit picking. Is it and round classic like “Built To Last” or “No Sacrifice, No Victory”? No, not quite, but it’s pretty damn close and if I was coming to this as a new listener it’s certainly strong enough for me to get hooked in and keep going. Robust and strong, even though the ballad flops, but fundamentally there’s certainly nothing to else to complain about here…

‘Brotherhood’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Brotherhood
02. Hammer Of Dawn
03. No Son Of Odin
04. Venerate Me
05. Reveries
06. Too Old To Die Young
07. Not Today
08. Live Free Or Die
09. State Of The W.I.L.D.
10. No Mercy

LINE-UP:
Oscar Dronjak – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Joacim Cans – Lead Vocals 
Fredrik Larsson – Bass
Pontus Norgren – Guitars, Backing Vocals
David Wallin – Drums

LINKS:

Hammerfall Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Veonity – Elements Of Power

Elements Of Power Album Cover Art

Veonity – Elements Of Power
Scarlet Records
Release Date: 18/02/2022
Running Time: 47:00
Review by Rory Bentley
3/10

Music writing, like any pastime or profession, has its ups and downs. Since joining the website I’ve been riding a crest of joyful discovery, raving about new bands I’ve never heard before and old favourites who have produced delightful surprises and, in some cases, album of the year candidates (you know who I’m talking about). But the day was always going to come when I’d have to eat my vegetables and take one for the team, after all life isn’t all sunshine and beatdowns. With that in mind I thought I’d dip my toe into the waters of ‘Ultra Power Metal’, thinking (rather foolishly in hindsight) that I’d have the stomach to exercise some objectivity and see the merits of something that came from a genre that I’d not normally gravitate towards.

“Elements Of Power” was what I ended up plucking from the release schedule, with the logic being that despite my normal penchant for more abrasive sounds I can still have a good time with something that dials up the cheese factor and seeks to make the listener sing along to triumphant melodies like an off-duty knight in a tavern where he gets a warrior discount off the grog.

After all, I love Blind Guardian, have a soft spot for Powerwolf and, inexplicably, my favourite band is Nightwish. Surely that puts me in good stead for at least appreciating some good-time silly power metal right? RIGHT??!! Wrong.

Things started off pretty tolerably with ‘Beyond the Realm of Reality’, there was no acoustic intro or pompous orchestration – it just kicked straight into the riff and I breathed a sigh of relief. Sadly this did not last. Several issues reared their dragon-shagging heads within seconds.

For some reason singer Anders Sköld is unable to go into his higher register without sounding like he has a severe speech impediment. Maybe he ‘Skölded’ his tongue on a hot coffee the day they had to track vocals (fuck you, let me have my stupid puns, I’ve earned it after listening to this record)! The vocals are normally the first thing to make me switch off Power Metal and the strained wail of someone clearly operating an octave above their comfort zone was an instant red flag for me.

But poor old Anders could have been Dio and this track would still have been a slog, because production-wise things are … ehhh … not so good. If you’d have told me the drums were tracked in an empty Hellofresh box I’d have believed you. They sound like they’ve been ripped onto a cassette from someone else’s album. The same goes for the incessant chanting backing vocals that conjure the image of the band being forced to sing them in the next room as a Covid protocol. Blind Guardian on a budget.

By second track ‘The Surge’ we learn that the answer lies in the power stone. I don’t know what that means but if me grabbing a sword and going on a quest to seek this stone means I don’t have to listen to this bollocks ever again then bring me a horse and some chain mail.

Not satisfied with plunging me into inconsolable despair in less time than it takes for Cult of Luna to complete the intro to a song, the band then launch into two keyboard solos literally happening at the same time. They’re doing it on purpose now. 

Things do pick up (relatively speaking) on ‘Alter Of Power’, where the singing wisely shifts to a lower key and the backing vocals have a fun, jaunty quality that reminds me of The Village People, a comparison that should leave you in no doubt that my mind has unravelled beyond repair at this point; but still I didn’t hate this one.

The storyline (in the loosest possible definition) takes a dark turn in ‘Gargoyles of Black Steel’, as it is revealed that a race of subterranean demon boys hate this bullshit as much as I do and want to overthrow the kingdom or something like that. For the record I’m Team Gargoyle all the way from here on out.

Presumably, sensing a lull in my apoplectic rage, Veonity then decide to deliberately troll me by replacing all the ghastly Casio keyboard sounds that I’d just learned to tolerate, like an abscess on the back end of an antibiotics course and replace them with panpipes. The result of which sounds like a crack-addled Enya up against a deadline. Help me.

As the final track ‘Return to the Land of Light’ (could not be a more fitting description for this thing finally being over) crawls into view like the fourth nail of a crucifixion, the band seem to realise that they’ve got more story leftover than they have music (I’m genuinely not sure which is worse). This results in a jarring spoken word passage that tries to cram the rest of this nonsense in, delivered at the frantic pace of someone at a pay phone that’s about to run out of credit. Annnd breathe.

I must stress that I don’t enjoy giving someone’s hard work a kicking and some of these musings should be taken with a pinch of salt. I’m sure Veonity are a lovely bunch of chaps and this was a lot of fun for them to make; I just wish some of that fun made its way out of the speakers to me.

I’m fully aware that this is not in my wheelhouse, but I like to think I can tell when something hasn’t been executed to its full potential. There are parts when they get the formula right, such as the beefy guitar tone and some very impressive soloing, but these moments of competence are fleeting and the often pristine riffing is dragged down by demo-quality drums and vocals that make me want to issue a public apology for ever calling Rhapsody of Fire grating.

If you’re a fan of this style, there are multiple leather-clad LARPers that offer something that sticks the landing to a much higher standard and who aren’t hamstrung by a ‘will this do?’ production job. 

As for myself, I need to take a little time out to consider my life choices. Where my Gargoyles at?

TRACKLISTING:
01. Beyond the Realm of Reality
02. The Surge
03. Altar Of Power
04. Elements of Power
05. Gargoyles of Black Steel
06. Dive into the Light
07. Facing the Water
08. Blood of the Beast
09. Curse of the Barren Plains
10. Return to the Land of Light

LINE-UP:
Anders Sköld – Vocals / Guitar
Samuel Lundström – Lead Guitar
Kristoffer Lidre – Bass
Joel Kollberg – Drums

LINKS:

Veonity Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rory Bentley and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Emerald Sun – Kingdom of Gods

Kingdom Of Gods Album Cover Art

Emerald Sun – Kingdom of Gods
El Puerto Records
Release Date: 28/01/22
Running Time: 45:08
Review by Simon Black
7/10

You know, there are times when Power Metal’s propensity for endless conceptual mythological story arcs is a bit wearing, but somehow when it’s being done by Hellenic bands like Emerald Sun, it has an energy, charm, freshness and enthusiasm that’s often lacking from some of their more Northern European peers. This is album number six for the guys from Thessaloniki and it’s still got the energy and freshness of a new band, perhaps in part due to the arrival on the drum stool of new boy Nick Kaklanis and the return of Teo Savage and indeed a second guitar to their sound.

The sound mix and production is perhaps not what you would expect from an act with two decades of recording experience under their belt, but Greece is a country that doesn’t have many native producers, engineers or studios who understand Metal as it is, never mind when you take into account the challenges of getting to parts of the world, or indeed country, that actually do during a global pandemic. But don’t let the tinny sound and mix put you off, because the material on here and the energy with which it is delivered more than makes up for this. The title track is a brilliant example of this, and it’s screaming out for an audience with drinking horns raised.

Stylistically this feels quite like early 90’s Power Metal, which to be honest is partly helped by the trebly mix but also with the earnest energy throughout. This is all bold, chest thumping stuff and it works precisely because it’s not doing anything to challenge the listener too hard. It’s chock full of the stirring anthemic melody lines that could get a crowd singing along even if they don’t know the material, and although not the most technically blistering display of musicianship in the genre, it’s built on good solid songs and the interplay between the guys is tangible, really and fun. 

Emerald Sun have had a tough time of it in recent years and seem to have struggled to keep their credentials up, which is a shame, as they are one of the longest Greek Power Metal acts standing, and a key part of that country’s Metal heritage. The new and renewed line up though seems to have breathed some life into the brand, and this album feels like a return to form, albeit if in need of a little polish in the Production department. Is it original? No. Is it honest and enjoyable? Yes it is, and really that’s all that matters.

‘Hellbound’ Official Viceo

TRACKLISTING:
01. Book Of Genesis
02. Heroes On The Rise
03. Hellbound
04. Legions Of Doom
05. Gaia (The End Of Innocence)
06. Kingdom Of Gods
07. Raise Hell
08. The Hunter
09. We Will Die On Our Feet
10. Where Warriors Belong

LINE-UP:
Stelios ’Theo Tsakiridis – Vocals
Fotis Toumanidis – Bass
Teo Savage – Guitars
Pavlos Georgiadis – Guitars
Nick Kaklanis – Drums

LINKS:

Emerald Sun Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Bullet Ride – At The Gates of Hell

At The Gates Of Hell Album Cover Art

Bullet Ride – At The Gates of Hell
Français Music Records
Release Date: 21/01/2022
Running Time: 47:35
Review by Victor Augusto
8/10

Hello my beloved friends! Welcome back to more confusing thoughts from a brain damaged Brazilian person. Today I got my first band to listen to from France since back in 2020, when I reviewed Sins of Shadows, and it is always cool discover to new bands from a country that has a great history of embracing Brazilian bands like Angra during the nineties (and also Kamala on their recent European tour). Today we have a very good debut album for those who love Power Metal, or maybe I can even say that we have in front of us a good mix of Traditional Metal and Power Metal, with a lot of extra heavy stuff to offer as well.

Melodic vocals are always a thing that can be a bit hard to talk about, at least for me. I personally don’t like it too much when bands use high notes all the time and I tend to prefer styles more oriented to what Ronnie James Dio used to do, not just with his voice, but for all the emphasis he used. Here, Emmanuelle Dal Grande does a great job on her vocal lines, working on a thin line between the high and not so high ranged notes. In contrast to this melodic way of singing, the rest of the band offer a few guttural parts, although it wasn’t always exactly well executed, for example in ‘Somewhere Else’. 

These vocals sounded a bit powerless, sometimes even slightly annoying in places, although they fitted in well in some parts. But what is undeniable is the fact Emanuelle really knows how to create good vocal lines. Maybe with a little more improvement on the guttural parts, it would sound better. But the best aspect is how clear and understandable her words are on the more melodic parts. Even for me, a monkey Brazilian who barely knows how to speak my own language, I could perfectly understand most of the lyrics. 

Musically, there are some great passages of heaviness and speed. I couldn’t exactly find the Thrash Metal references as the band mentioned in their press release, and I felt that there were more Death Metal influences, judging by the blast beats delivered by Thibaut Meunier, plus those guttural vocals as well. Nevertheless, don’t fool yourself – the main style here is good Power Metal, very much oriented and akin to Blind Guardian. 

By the way, the guitar work of Alexandre Duffau and Hernandez reminded me in many parts of what we hear from those German masters, mainly on “Imaginations from The Other Side” and “Nightfall in Middle-Earth“.  Things like the good technical solos, without the extreme abuse of speed, and not many melodies or short solos alongside the rhythm guitar, when the focus was supposed to be the riffs and not the melody.

From the opening song ‘World on Fire’ until ‘Eternity’ you will be fulfilled by some great heavy music, full of good moments and energy. In ‘All At Sea’ though, things calm down in terms of cadence, which is quite cool. Bassist Stéphane Laborde also has his space throughout the record, especially on the beginning of ‘Dead and Back’.

“At The Gates of Hell” is a good album despite not being my favourite kind of music. The highlights here are how they offer a good slab of heaviness and don’t let the melodic side become massive or boring. For sure, with more experience, they will be able to offer amazing releases, considering that this debut is already pretty good.

‘At The Gates Of Hell’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. World on Fire
02. What Comes After
03. Point of No Return
04. Somewhere Else
05. Weather the Storm
06. Naked Greed
07. Eternity
08. All at sea
09. Dead and Back
10. At The Gates of Hell

LINE-UP:
Emmanuelle Dal Grande – Vocals
Alexandre Duffau – Guitars
Hernandez – Guitars 
Stéphane Laborde – Bass
Thibaut Meunier – Drums

LINKS:

Bullet Ride Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Victor Augusto and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.