EMQ’s With SANDS OF ETERNITY

Sand Of Eternity Logo

EMQ’s With SANDS OF ETERNITY

Hi everyone! Welcome to another EMQs interview, this time with Greek Heavy/ Power Metal band, Sands Of Eternity. Huge thanks to their guitarist Ioannis and Vocalist Michael 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?

Ioannis: My name is Ioannis Ioakimides I play the guitar and I am the main composer of the band. Sands Of Eternity were originally formed as Hourglass Sands Of Eternity back in 1996 and split up after two demos and an album in 2002. Fast forward to 2021 I joined forces with singer Michael Dice and producer Bob Katsionis to record 10 brand new songs for our second album “Beyond The Realms Of Time” and also dropping “Hourglass” from the name of the band and keeping only “Sands Of Eternity”.

How did you come up with your band name?

Ioannis: The original name of the band came from an Hourglass we had as teenagers that inspired us to name the band after it, also appending “Sands Of Eternity” to make the name more unique. Now in 2021 when we decided to begin with the band again, we decided to drop “Hourglass” as we deemed it as too generic, but we kept “Sands Of Eternity”. That is the tie between the new and the old band and we like the way it resonates, and the way it related to the concepts of time and infinity.

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

Ioannis: We are from Athens, Greece. The Metal / Rock scene is quite mature in Greece with a lot of bands that are having a positive impact, especially in the area of heavy and power metal. Bands like Warrior Path, Stray Gods, Subfire, Sacred Outcry just to name a few.

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

Dice: Our latest release is the Album “Beyond The Realms Of Time” from Symmetric Records, released in May 6th 2022.

Who have been your greatest influences?

Ioannis: I would say that our musical influences are defined by the great bands of Classical Heavy/Power metal such as Warlord, Helloween, Stratovarius, Savatage, Kamelot and Judas Priest, while I personally like Iron Maiden very much, whose influence might not be so obvious in our compositions, but we borrow elements of their lyricism.

Dice: The approach to the vocals in terms of technique and performance are definitely influenced and defined by my favourite singers such as Geoff Tate, Ray Alder, Roy Khan, Eric Adams and Rob Halford.

What first got you into music?

Dice: I was introduced into the hard sound when I was a little kid in the 80s, when I first listened to Survivor’s “Burning Heart” during a national TV show. I was astonished by the vocals of Jimi Jameson. A few years later, Queensryche’s “Operation: Mindcrime” came to define me as a singer for years to come. Later on we started forming local bands with friends from school, I guess it was around ’95. The interesting part is that we used to write our own songs!

Ioannis: I started by playing piano at a very young age. Then, when I was a teenager, I started listening to heavy metal bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica and I was always fascinated by their music and their solos. So, at the time I brought my first electric guitar and started playing and quite soon I had formed my own band and also started writing songs for it. Writing songs, and especially Heavy Metal songs, is something that I’ve done for almost 30 years now, and I will most probably continue doing it for as long as I have the energy and motivation for that.

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

Ioannis: Collaborating with Warrior Path or Stray Gods, two very successful bands from the Greek Heavy Power scene would be great!

Dice: A dream of mine is to collaborate with Kamelot!

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

Ioannis: I think for this one I will choose Waken Open air festival.

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

Ioannis: During the era of Hourglass SOE, I received as a gift a painting of our first album cover artwork (“Journey To Infinity”), which is something that I still have and cherish.

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

Ioannis: That the metal scene is and will always be alive and that there are very promising new bands to listen and to follow.

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

Ioannis: Ronnie James Dio

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

Ioannis: The thing that I enjoy most is the feeling of creativity especially as I am the main composer of the band. There are not many things that I hate about being a musician.

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

Ioannis: Less focus on money and more focus on the quality of the music.

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

Ioannis: “Painkiller” by Judas Priest.

Dice: “Rage For Order” by Queensryche.

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

Ioannis: I will go with CD even though I am aware that in our industry both vinyls and cassettes are greatly appreciated as well.

Dice: Vinyls for me! I am a kind of a purist.

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

Ioannis: With the current line-up we have not played any gigs, as we are in the process of rehearsing for playing our material live. With the former line up back in 2002 the best gig we played was when we performed some of our songs to “AN Club” in Athens.

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

Ioannis: working in the Information Technology Industry

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

Ioannis: Gus G, Bob Katsionis,Rob Halford, Joey DeMaio, Adrian Smith.

Dice: I would go for the same plus Geoff Tate and Eric Adams.

What’s next for the band?

Ioannis: Rehearsing with our new line up to be ready for live performances

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

Bandcamp: https://sandsofeternity.bandcamp.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SandsOfEternityOfficial
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RpUVkmV3NA
Instagram:  https://instagram.com/sands.of.eternity_official

Jaffa Cakes! Are they a cake or a biscuit?

Ioannis: Before I googled it I thought they were biscuits. After I googled it, I realized they were indeed biscuits!

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

Dice: Thank you so much for the invitation, we are looking forward to hear your opinion about the album and see you all at our upcoming live shows.

Ioannis: First of all I want to thank you for this interview. I also want to point out that good music is and will always be out there as long as our ears are open to listen to it. Keep on rocking!

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.

Powerwolf – The Monumental Mass: A Cinematic Metal Event

The Monumental Mass A Cinematic Metal Event Album Cover Art

Powerwolf – The Monumental Mass: A Cinematic Metal Event
Napalm Records
Release Date: 08/07/22
Running Time: 01:17:00
Review by Simon Black
9/10

I’ve really blown hot and cold over the whole live stream phenomena in the last three years. At the time I was happy to grab at them eagerly, since getting to an actual gig seemed an unlikely event for a while and even as things have improved, I have still had to remain cautious with regard to live events, having family members working in health care settings to be mindful of. As time has passed and I’ve crept out to the real thing occasionally, my attitude has become less supportive, albeit appreciative for the fact they kept us sane during that period, but if I never saw one again (in normal circumstances at least) I would not be too sad. I’ve also got a little annoyed that bands have been releasing the recordings of these as a cheap catch-up release, given that many of them don’t really translate well from their original setting and that the recordings are usually as flat as a pancake compared to most live events, given that they’ve been recorded on sound stages that lack the natural acoustics and anergy of a crowd for the band to fire off of. That means that no matter how well the sound is captured, or how good the performances of the players, that they usually leave one wanting a lot more.

So now I have to eat my words…because this beauty throws everything I have just said out of the window.

Powerwolf released what is probably their biggest and best album “Call of the Wild” in the middle of the pandemic with no opportunity to tour it, so a live stream made sense – but this one is very, very different from most. For a start it was quite late on in the pandemic, but then a quick look online at the snippets that are available on YouTube instantly shows why, this is so much more than five guys effectively recording a rehearsal. The norm is to pop the band in a sound stage with the cameras up close and let the music do the talking, occasional bum notes and all, but Powerwolf never do things by half and this release is no exception. For a start, it’s more like a full form music video than a live stream show. Although the band are playing and recorded as live, there’s an awful lot of staging, effects, theatrics and props, with the band going full out to put the kind of show that you expect when their headlining a decent size arena, which let’s face it they would probably have been doing had the pandemic not screwed things up. This goes some way to explaining why this came out so late in the pandemic when originally available as an online event, given the amount of time and effort that must have gone into it.

With seventeen tracks divided into five acts, allowing for a lot of juggling of props and scenery, the band crank their way through an hour and twenty minutes of their finest material. What you do get here, which may well not have happened with a tour is that the material from “Call of the Wild” gets a thoroughly good airing with four tracks from that album (plus ‘Demons Are A girl’s Best Friend’), but then although this is quite hard to discern from an audio only recording, the band had weaved all this material into a semi-coherent story, although I guess this is more obvious with the visuals. 

I guess you really need to watch rather than just listen, but this still manages to surprise as it’s Powerwolf turning everything up to eleven again, despite the constraints of the format. What for me makes it work, is that unlike nearly every other pandemic filler, this sounds large, expansive and, yes, cinematic. The sound on most live streams is normally dreadfully flat, but this sounds as rich, fat and dripping with reverb as their studio albums or live shows and consequently takes you shamelessly into their arms and the time just passes. I started listening with pencils sharpened, but now have found totally enjoying this piece, and yes, wondering where I can get my hands on a Blu-Ray version.

‘Venom Of Venus’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:

Chapter I – Temptation
01. Prologue / Monumental Mass Theme
02. Faster Than the Flame
03. Venom Of Venus
04. Stossgebet
05. Demons Are A Girl‘s Best Friend

Chapter II – Sin 
06. Dancing with the Dead
07. Cardinal Sin
08. Resurrection By Erection
09. We Drink Your Blood
10. Glaubenskraft

Chapter III – Confession
11. Fire & Forgive
12. Beast of Gévaudan
13. Incense & Iron
14. Where The Wild Wolves Have Gone

Chapter IV – Forgiveness
15. Amen & Attack
16. Army of the Night
17. Blood for Blood (Faoladh)
18. Armata Strigoi
19. Epilogue / Monumental Mass Theme

LINE-UP:
Charles Greywolf – Bass, Guitars
Matthew Greywolf – Guitars
Falk Maria Schlegel – Keyboards
Attila Dorn – Vocals
Roel van Helden – Drums

LINKS:

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.

Fellowship – The Saberlight Chronicles

The Saberlight Chronicles Album Cover Art

Fellowship – The Saberlight Chronicles
Scarlet Records
Release Date: 15/07/22
Running Time: 01:04:47
Review by Simon Black
7/10

“Our aim is to make classic guitarey Power Metal in a way that doesn’t make us cringe too hard. Also we dress like hobbits, so it’s not going too well…”

This quote was lifted from Fellowship’s Bandcamp introduction statement and as well as making my spit out my coffee when I read it, it’s remarkably self-admonishing. If nothing else as a UK act Fellowship are very brave for even taking on the genre, but if they wear the Hobbit cloak’s on the streets of their native Harwich, then they probably deserve what they get. To be fair, I may have a jaded view based on my one and only trip to Harwich where I did get a brick thrown at me, but then it was the 1980’s when I had long curly hair and should probably be grateful that it wasn’t still attached to the wall.

The reason I chose this record to review was complex. 

A little about how we work first, if you would indulge me. Here at Ever Metal we have an email inbox where labels, PR companies and bands can submit material for our review. They do this rather a lot, to the point where keeping on top of the mail takes a good couple of hours every day, which is not helped when you have to sift through all the ones that can’t be bothered to tell us when it’s actually coming out, include any kind of link to the album that doesn’t require a degree in codebreaking to open, didn’t actually came out months (or indeed years) ago, or is in fact a request to help some Somalian Prince shift the $10M USD he forgot to bank and is worried about getting stolen from his kitchen table whilst he’s in the local internet café telling us all about it. It is literally about a hundred plus mails every day. 

Now all of us do other things to enable us to eat, so this is a labour of love we fit in around real life, and even going full pelt we could only review about 10% of what we get sent through on a good week, so please don’t bitch if it takes us a few days after your release date –to get it published, as you should have sent it sooner. And yes, PR companies reading this, sending us something we’ve never heard of the day before it’s release for the first time is not an ‘exclusive’, it’s just too bloody late, so earn your dough and get it out there in advance so we have time to review it. Rant over! Now Fellowship got this much right, because I pulled this from the pile a good two months ago and had forgotten why I had selected it, but with the release date looming decided that I had better pull my finger out. 

The opening bars made me shudder somewhat, because the opener ‘All The Fires Die’ evokes cookie cutter Power Metal of the kind that dominates the Italian market due to the likes of the revolving door that is the Rhapsody group of bands. But then this is Scarlet Records here, who may be Italian but generally have a roster of quite credible Metalic spectacle available (Apostolica, Frozen Criwn, Six Foot Six, and Sole Syndicate being a few of the ones I rave about, but you can keep Veonity, Trick Or Treat and Skeletoon). Anyway, the reason I chose it is because Fellowship are actually that rarity of rarities a British Power Metal band and one that is not afraid to follow in the Italian Euro Power tradition… er, dressed as Hobbits, the poor deluded bastards. So I’m guessing that not much happens in Harwich even now… 

Added to which it’s clearly a sword and sorcery influenced concept piece and no-one’s told them that the song title ‘Avalon’ has been taken 873 times already elsewhere in the genre. Now at this point, I’m ready to go for a full-on roast review, but annoyingly once that rather cheesy intro song is out of the way, the band turn out to be annoyingly rather good. I guess when you dress as Hobbits and get bricks thrown at you by the general public of Essex a lot, then you need something to surprise people and cut down the number of trips to A&E on busy Saturday nights and yes, being good will cut it. Roast Mode: disengaged.

Almost. Because let’s face it the world does not need another Power Metal Concept fantasy album with pomptastic keyboards trying to sound like a full orchestra, or another ten minute epic closer called ‘Avalon’, not unless there’s something else of note going on. Fortunately there is.

What surprises is some of the performances delivered here. Vocalist Matthew Corry is astoundingly good and a little research shows is actually a classically trained tenor, who likes proper music (and milk). Our very own resident roaster Rory often defines Power Metal vocalists as “Swedish blokes who’ve decided they have to sing high and sound like they’re shitting a porcupine”, but this is not what you’ve got here. What we do have is a subtle and controlled performance from the kind of singer that would have the operatic lady at Charismatic Voice on YouTube gush with joy (I love the way the internet has transformed her from a Classical expert to a lover of Metal in a few short months). 

Then there’s the guitar work. It looks like the two guitarists Sam Browne and Brad Wosko know their onions too, as there’s some absolutely beautiful and fluid playing going on here. Although I dearly want to tear this band a new arsehole for using all the Power Metal cliches and endless Neo-Classical tropes, the annoying gits generally avoid them, instead delivering a pacey, innovative and utterly shredding performance. The production is top notch too and it would have to be, as Corry is not a Power screamer and his subtlety is what makes it work. I would however suggest they expand their repertoire with a full time bassist and keyboard player of equal skill, as these are the bits that sound stereotypical, and are clearly someone else in the band doubling up during recording.

I guess the opening quote comes in as relevant once again, as it’s clear that these boys are paying homage to the Euro Cheese Gods of Power, but they’re doing it in a uniquely British, subtly deferential and apologetic way. That means the cheese is there for sure, but the record is also saying “Apologies for the cheese, but actually we’re rather good musicians. Sorry”. I didn’t want to like this, but I could not help myself… Sorry…

TRACKLISTING:
01. Until The Fires Die
02. Atlas
03. Glory Days
04. Oak And Ash
05. Hearts Upon The Hill
06. Scars And Shrapnel Wounds
07. The Hours of Wintertime
08. Glint
09. The Saint Beyond The River
10. Silhouette
11. Still Enough
12. Avalon

LINE-UP:
Matthew Corry – Vocals
Sam Browne – Guitar
Brad Wosko – Guitar
Callum Tuffen – Drums

LINKS:

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.

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.