Sartori – Dragon’s Fire

Sartori – Dragon’s Fire
Rockshots Records
Release Date: 28/01/22
Running Time: 30:30
Review by Laura Barnes

I think I speak for us all when I say: I miss Dio. Hence why Sartori’s debut album, “Dragon’s Fire” made me grin from ear to ear. Never before have I listened to a non-Dio album that is so, well, Dio-esque! With it’s delightfully crunchy riffs and messages of strength and positivity, listening to this album is like stepping through a time portal to the 23rd of May, 1983, the day that Dio released his own debut solo album. 

Much like Ronnie James Dio himself, Sartori founder and guitarist Andy A. Sartori is inspired by classical music, citing Mozart as his biggest inspiration. This influence is one that absolutely shines throughout this album and is enough to separate Sartori from the immense pack of power metal bands out there. The guitar work in “Dragon’s Fire” is intricate, sophisticated and emotional, especially on tracks like ‘One Distant Heart’, ‘Through The Eyes Of My Soul’, and ‘Battle In The Distant Lands’. Whilst the guitars, naturally, take musical lead on this album, a word of praise must also be given to vocalist Scott Board, who sings his heart out on each and every song. 

With guitar and vocal expertise combined, Sartori take simple song structures to new heights. Much like the flying dragons that Sartori like to sing about, their choruses soar through the air before settling in your head like a ferocious earworm. For a band still very much in their infancy, Sartori have the songwriting skills of a much older band. I’m sure we’re all familiar with what I fondly call ‘Debut Album Syndrome’: overly long songs, self-indulgent intros, outros, interludes and intermissions and a slight dominance of filler over killer. Clocking out at just over half an hour, “Dragon’s Fire” has achieved the nigh impossible feat of avoiding all these pitfalls. The band has limited themselves to a single interlude, fourth track ‘Little Aria in G Major’. Unlike the rest of “Dragon’s Fire”, ‘Little Aria in G Major’ features clean guitars and provides a moment of mellow contemplation before the fist-pumping, rifftastic anthems fire up again. 

In future releases, I would be interested in seeing Sartori fuse these two sides to their music together. ‘Little Aria in G Major’ showcases a lot of potential for further experimentation in Sartori’s music. With “Dragon’s Fire”, Sartori have firmly distinguished themselves as a band worthy of the metal’s scene attention. Having earned their place, Sartori now have the licence to play and explore, to take the sounds of their incredible influences and make them their own. I can’t wait to see what they do next. 

‘Devil In Disguise’ Official Lyric Video

01. Evil Heart
02. One Distant Heart
03. From Hell To Heaven
04. Little Aria In G Major
05. Devil In Disguise
06. Through The Eyes Of My Soul
07. Castle Of Lost Souls
08. Dragon’s Fire

Andy A. Sartori – Guitars
Scott Board – Vocals
Rod Viquez – Bass
Dino-Castano – Drums


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.

Amoth – The Hour Of The Wolf

The Hour Of The Wolf Album Cover Art

Amoth – The Hour Of The Wolf
Rockshots Records
Release Date: 28/01/22
Running Time: 46:34
Review by Rory Bentley

When perusing the list of candidates for my first Ever Metal review I felt the need for something with a little familiarity to comfort me on this daunting maiden voyage and when I saw that AMOTH featured the vocal powerhouse that is Pekka Montin I knew this record would be a great place to kick things off. I had been blown away by Pekka’s soaring trad-metal bellow and his tasteful keyboard work on Ensiferum’s 2020 return to form ‘Thalassic’. On that record, Montin provided a crystalline vocal contrast to the more ragged Folk / Black Metal stylings the band had built their name on. He was used sparingly to great effect, but how will he fare carrying a whole album as the sole vocal presence?

Before discussing vocals it should be established that this is Amoth’s third full length album since their inception in 2008 and one that is keen to push the band’s considerable technical prowess to its absolute limits. As a self-proclaimed Progressive Heavy Metal outfit the band performs an intriguing balancing act between old school Heavy Metal foundations and more modern, sometimes jazz-inspired technicality. It is a balance that provides the record’s most distinctive moments as well as its most flawed.

Opener ‘Alice’ begins proceedings in a manner that shows everything that’s great about the band. The rhythm section is dynamic and unpredictable without straying so far as to disrupt the song’s structure and the guitars thunder in with a triumphant heft that recalls the beefy rhythmic tones of that American power metal outfit we don’t talk about any more ‘cos they tried to overthrow the US Government. I promise that’s meant as a compliment! 

This all-out attack is bolstered by Pekka’s sonorous chest belts and rabid Halford-style shrieks to create a red-blooded fist-pumping, thrashed-out heavy metal banger. From this point things get a little more uneven.

While there is a lot to like about cuts like ‘The Man Who Watches The World Burn’ and ‘It Ain’t Over Yet’, I can’t help but feel that the NWOBHM core and tempo-shifting prog approach displayed over the record sometimes results in the two styles clashing in a way that doesn’t serve the songs as well as it could, with potential denim-clad anthems frequently curtailed by jarring rhythmic shifts that see the vocals clinging on for dear life to hold the song structure together. At the same time those that enjoy a more challenging, obtuse approach may find these songs aren’t expansive enough with their flights of virtuosity to fully scratch that progressive itch. Depending on your point of view the prog elements could either be deemed as going too far or just not far enough, resulting in a muddled compromise that sometimes feels like they’re sabotaging their own songs.

If I’m sounding like Mr Grumpy here it’s because a.) I’m a very curmudgeonly man as my fiancé will attest to and b.) when the band gets the formula right the results are very good indeed, as displayed when the delightfully silly title track marauds through the speakers like a rabid leather beast to close out the album. I want way more of this and less of the two technically impressive but compositionally tepid instrumentals that break up the record and derail its momentum. I get it guys – you like Steve Vai, but you’re capable of writing actual songs with big hooks that can appeal beyond the niche of shred porn!

Grumbles aside this is a slickly produced, brilliantly-executed slice of heavy metal fun to kick off your year, and the potential for greater things is clear on here. Whether those greater things result in stripped-down sing-along anthems or labyrinthine Annihilator-style thrash workouts remains to be seen but if these guys can strike that balance more consistently going forward the next record could be something special.

01. Alice
02. The Man Who Watches The World Burn
03. Wounded Faith
04. Wind Serenade I
05. Wind Serenade II
06. We Own The Night
07. It Ain’t Over Yet
08. Traces In The Snow
09. The Hour Of The Wolf

Anne Lanttola – Bass
Tomi Ihanamäki – Guitars
Mikael Rauhala – Guitars
Pekka Montin – Vocals, Keyboards
Oskari Viljanen – Drums


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.

Thirty Fates – Circus Black

Circus Black  Album Cover Art

Thirty Fates – Circus Black
Rockshots Records
Release Date: 12/10/21
Running Time: 37:52
Review by Simon Black

This Greek three piece are an unusual find. Although they’ve been around, on and off, for decades, their footprint outside of their native land is not a huge one. But, as I’ve got a little bit more exposed to the Hellenic Metal scene over the last two years, the more I realise that there’s an awful lot of great bands tucked away there, that the rest of the world knows nothing about. Then there’s the impressive guest stars they’ve managed to get involved on this one…

The album title and the cover hint that this might be a concept piece, but the only circus related content comes and goes fairly early, with lead track ‘Indifferent People’ (which also features a guest turn from Angel Wolf-Black, whose backing vocals manage to sound like a full choir was present), with most of the rest of the material being standard Melodic Metal fare. The first thing that strikes you is that this is a very rich and fat sound for a three piece, so one assumes that guitarist, Elias Tzintzilonis, is laying bass down in studio to boot, but I would be curious to see how they might approach a live performance, given the multiple guitar parts and some quite progressive keyboard pieces, that crop up from time to time. 

The latest single, ‘Be Free’, opens with the distinctive screamed introduction from Ripper Owens, a man who, let’s face it, takes the standard of anything he touches up a couple of notches, but actually is in the background here. All the guests are singing largely in harmony to Papakostas, who is more than capable of leading the vocal delivery anyway, but a couple of extra octaves of vocal range from Ripper never harms a Metal song. When they do change pace with the ballad closer, ‘Because We Fly’, it takes you somewhat by surprise, given that it steps sideways stylistically, reflecting perhaps Papakostas’s Pop orientated activities in the intervening years. It shows a level of depth and maturity that make me wish they had stayed a little longer in this groove, as musically it’s also one of the more interesting arrangements, wheeling around a little stylistically, before settling into familiar Power ballad territory. Either way, it’s the strongest song on the album.

This is an album that doesn’t immediately grab you, but it’s worth taking a little longer to invest, as it’s definitely a grower.

01. Circus of Fate (intro)
02. Indifferent People
03. The Pretender
04. Just For A Little
05. Sign of Rebellion
06. The Edge of Destiny
07. Be Free
08. Depression
09. Because We Fly

Elias Tzintzilonis – Guitars
Nick Tzintzilonis – Drums
Stelios Papakostas – Vocals


Thirty Fates 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.

Eternal Silence – Timegate:Anathema

Timegate Anathema Album Cover Art

Eternal Silence – Timegate:Anathema
Rockshots Records
Release Date: 08/10/2021
Running Time: 50:28
Review by Simon Black

Italian Symphonic Metallers Eternal Silence have been ploughing their particular furrow for about a decade and “Timegate:Anathema” is their first full-length album since 2017’s “Mastermind Tyranny” (although the void has been filled with a couple of EP’s in between). There are attempts at more overtly Power Metal tracks in this – the opener ‘The Way of Time’ being a good example, but the band work best when they stick to their Symphonic guns, as the second track ‘Edge Of The Dream’, which almost feels like it belongs to a completely different act or recording block. When they throw these more technical flourishes and time-change complexities into the mix things work much, much better for them and the effortless way that a nice lengthy instrumental section can be thrown at the front of tracks like ‘Ancient Spirit’ tells me that these guys have got the song-writing balance between the technical and the catchy-melodic just right.

The two handed vocal performance between Marika Vanni and Alberto Cassina works really well, although Vanni takes the lion’s share of the work. I also can’t fault the instrumental work at all, particularly their uncredited keyboard player, who whilst avoiding the cliché of inter-instrument shredding with the guitars, has some absolutely superb yet restrained solo spots scattered throughout.

Symphonic Metal works best when the production is top notch, crisp, layered and sensitive in equal proportions to the brutal or heavy when they are part of it. Fuse the two and you get the harmonic equivalent of being bashed around the ears by a concrete melodic elephant. Sadly, the production on this falls a little short of that. Although the vocals are clearly presented at the front of the mix, and given both depth and clarity, the Metallic instrumentals in particular sound very trebly, lacking in depth and way too far back in the mix (even the orchestral elements suffer from the same distance problem in places).

Now to be fair to them, this is probably the first time the band have tackled remote recording – a skill let’s face it that every act is having to grapple with at the moment. In reality this normally comes down to whoever is in the producer’s chair, not the musicians’, as there is usually a world of difference between what gets laid down in the raw and what makes it through the engineering and mixing process. However, in this instance, it’s a combination of Michele Guaitoli and the band themselves, and my gut tells me that they should perhaps step back from this area next time out and trust to a strong producer, as the mix is that little too close to a baseline recording.

The song writing is what holds this record up and the structure and arrangements here are spot on – ‘Heart of Lead’ being the stand out track for me, although the experimental but catchy as fuck ‘Glide In The Air’ deserves mention as well, as you can tell it will be a cracker live. Love the tunes, but let down by the recording and mixing – nonetheless the song-writing and performances still make “Timegate:Anathema” worthy of attention.

‘Red Death Masquerade’ (Lyric Video)

01. The Way Of Time
02. Edge Of The Dream
03. Ancient Spirit
04. Heart Of Lead
05. Lonely
06. Glide In The Air
07. Rain
08. My Soul Sad Until Death
09. Firefly
10. Red Death Masquerade

Marika Vanni – Vocals
Alberto Cassina – Guitar/Vocals
Alessio Sessa – Bass
Andrea Zannin – Drums
Enzo Criscuolo – Guitar


Eternal Silence 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.

Avaland – Theater Of Sorcery

Theater Of Sorcery Album Cover Art

Avaland – Theater Of Sorcery
Rockshots Records
Release Date: 02/04/2021
Running Time: 62:53
Review by Beth Jones

France is not necessarily the first country I think of when it comes to exciting European metal. But recently there seems to be a heck of a lot of good music coming out from bands based there. And Avaland is certainly no exception to this rule. The brainchild of Adrien G. Gzagg, Avaland is an Epic/Symphonic Heavy Metal Opera project, and their first album, “Theater Of Sorcery,” has just landed. Now, this genre, I know, can be pretty chalk and cheese. Some people love it, some just think it’s pretentious. Personally, I can’t get enough of it! It is lavish joyfulness, created by melding together musical artforms, in a way that would make the ancient apothecaries fawn! So, what does this latest offering from the guilty pleasure gods bring? Well let’s find out!

“Theatre Of Sorcery” is a tale of adventure; the story of a young sorcerer, Adam Wilstorm, on a quest to bring back the light to the kingdom of Avaland. But, to succeed, he must learn to harness the storm within his powers. It’s a huge production, and a pretty astonishing composition, as Adrien is only 22! And it features some well-healed guest stars, too; Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear), Zak Stevens (Savatage/TSO), Zaher Zorgati (Myrath), Emmanuelson (Rising Steel), Stéphan Forté (Adagio), and Madie (Nightmare) to name but a few.

The album begins with the title track, which sets the scene for this grand production. It’s theatrical and I can imagine it looking spectacular on a stage. Musically, it’s good solid Heavy Metal, with a twist of Power, and Symphonic. In places, it almost reminds me of Jeff Wayne’s “War Of The Worlds,” but with a heavier, metal twist.

Good solid Metal anthems pepper this album, but they’re embellished with classical orchestration, choral harmonies, and traditional folk instruments, that sit in the mix, making for a very exuberant and indulgent feast of musical joy. But alongside that are crunching riffs and rhythms that you just have to bang your head to. And what Epic theatrical metal opera masterpiece would be complete without some face-melting guitar solos? Well, certainly not this one, as they’re also there by the bucket load, courtesy of some big-name guitarists.

I think my favourite track on the album is ‘Deja-Vu’. It starts with a solitary melancholy piano, but quickly launches into a powerful rhythmic track, with melodic verses, and peaks and troughs that make it punchy and exciting. It also has one of those delicious guitar solos that I alluded to earlier. I’m going to skirt over the fact that this track fades out at the end. As you’ll know, this is one of my pet hates, so there was a touch of inner turmoil for me with this, because I really like it!! I will also add that it’s not the only song to succumb to the dreaded fade out.

Production wise, no corners have been cut either. Placing of instruments, panning, and effects are all used to their full potential, to explore the depth and expansiveness of recorded music, making this a much more mature album than you’d expect from a debut penned by someone of such a tender young age. (I am almost green with envy right now! At 22 I could barely write a second-rate pop song, let alone an entire metal opera!) There’s nothing new or groundbreaking about this album, but if the likes of Avantasia do it for you, then you’ll love this album.

‘Theater Of Sorcery’ (Official Video)

01. Theater Of Sorcery (feat. Emmanuelson)
02. Gypsum Flower (feat. Scheepers/Emmanuelson/Zorgati)
03. Let the Wind Blow (feat. Zorgati/Heli/Kanji)
04. Storyteller (feat. Zak Stevens)
05. Escape To Paradise (feat. Zorgati/Kanji)
06. Holy Kingdom Of Fools (feat. Jeff Kanji)
07. Never Let Me Walk Alone (feat. Madie)
08. Deja-Vu (feat. Emmanuelson)
09. I’ll Be Ready For Your Love (feat. Heli Andrea)
10. War Of Minds (feat. Zorgati/Madie)
11. Rise From The Ashes (feat. Zorgati/ Madie/ Stevens/ Heli/ Kanji/ Emmanuelson/ Scheepers)

Adrien G. Gzagg – Composer, Writer, Lead Singer, Keyboards and Orchestrations
Christophe Feutrier – Guitars
Lucas Martinez – Guitars
Camille Souffron – Bass, Double-Bass
Léo Mouchonay – Drums

Guests / Characters:
Adrien G. Gzagg – Adam Wilstorm
Zaher Zorgati (Myrath) – Adam’s Inner Voice
Jeff Kanji – Jacob Reiser, Adam’s Best Friend
Heli Andrea (Mobius/Olane) – Solveig Elweiss, Adam’s Beloved
Emmanuelson (Rising Steel/Ellipsis) – The Master Of Sorcery
Zak Stevens (Ex-Savatage/TSO/Archon Angel) – The Storyteller, appearing form the past
Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear/ex-Gamma Ray) – Aloïsius Jestens, King Of Avaland
Madie (Nightmare/Faith In Agony) – The Guardian Angel

Guests Guitars:
Ricky Marx (Ex-Pretty Maids/Now Or Never) on ‘Theater Of Sorcery’
Stéphan Forté (Adagio) on ‘Gypsum Flower’
Ayman Mokdad (Venus Syndrome/Alien Encounters) on ‘Never Let Me Walk Alone’
Virgile (ex-Rising Steel/Schräpnel) on ‘Deja-Vu’


Avaland Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones 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.

Blue Hour Ghosts – Due

Due Album Cover Art

Blue Hour Ghosts – Due
Rockshots Records
Release Date: 12/02/2021
Running Time: 38:59
Review by Dark Juan

Salut! I trust you are all having the most splendid day imaginable? Yes? Excellent. You find I, Dark Juan, in a most agreeable humour considering I have work tomorrow and I am in fact sober even though Argos (a particular shop in the UK, fans from other climes) were having what could only be described as a twat of a day considering their IT systems were down and no fucker could buy anything. This was annoying because I need to buy a hairdryer. Not for me, you understand, as I am somewhat follically challenged (but this just makes me a more streamlined and sleeker killing machine), but because I am SICK TO DEATH of Mrs Dark Juan’s hair trying to kill me while I sleep by infiltrating my throat. Honestly, her hair leads a semi-independent life all of its own and it is frequently homicidal. One wonders whether it would rank among the more unusual deaths ever recorded by West Yorkshire Police when it finally succeeds in its quest to off me and it will probably have half consumed my corpse by the time the plod get here. It once spat out an entire tortilla chip at me once. I shit you not. Also, I have been subject to some mockery from the leek and dragon enthusiast part of Team Ever Metal and other Welsh friends (MANY, many Welsh friends), due to a load of blokes named variously Jones, Davies or Griffiths chasing a funny shaped ball around a field better than us Saesnegs whilst wearing worryingly tight shorts. But the English do that too.

Three hundred words and I haven’t told you a damned thing about the music. Well, if you insist… Today’s offering comes from the land of Ferraris, Birra Moretti, and Cristina Scabbia (sigh…). Yes, Blue Hour Ghosts are from Modena in Italy, and I am listening to their sophomore offering “Due”, which is “Two” for all you dastardly souls who have never bothered to learn another language. Pay attention, you at the back, there will be a test later.

The record kicks off with ‘Walking Backwards’ and I am immediately smacked in the face with shimmering, very 80’s sounding keyboards and a clean (as in doesn’t sound like the vocalist is straining to have a colossal chilli fuelled shit, or more worryingly sounding like he’s on a very gruff vinegar stroke) singer over a meaty riff. I have returned to the righteous path of metal after a sojourn into the realms of industrial and the frankly whacked out bonkers barmy. However, rather than return to the world of the extreme, I have chosen the more melodic and grandiose path that Blue Hour Ghosts tread. Employing a sound that is a melange of Katatonia, Porcupine Tree, more than a little Coheed And Cambria (in the arrangement of the songs) and a soupcon of Paradise Lost, BHG are never going to be a particularly violent band. What they do have are pretty good songwriting chops and a fine grasp of English compared to my woeful knowledge of Italian. I always find it mightily impressive when non-native English speakers create songs in English when I could just about ask for two beers in their language (and can’t even do that in Afrikaans).

Further on into the record there is ‘Lower The Wires’ which marries an epic vocal from Ricky DC and a massive fucking chorus over keyboards inspired by Rammstein in parts, what with the way they swirl and prowl below the dual guitar attack of Diego Angeli and Francesco Poggi. This is actually a record that is somewhat greater than the sum of its parts – When I read the blurb and it said it was melodic metal, I was prepared to be unimpressed, because quite a lot of melodic metal is frankly a bag of shite and needs actual proper talent to make it work. Thankfully, BHG have the talent to make it work and work well. A lot of credit goes to keyboard batterer Simome Pedrazzi for this because his keyboards are never less than stunning, forming Rammstein-esque stabbings and eerie atmosphere before morphing into huge, skyrocketing, coruscating walls of sound that counterpoint the chunky riffing of the guitars superbly, but never overwhelm the band entirely. The vocal harmonies are also fucking brilliant, reminding me of Coheed And Cambria when they are sung in higher registers. ‘Damn Wrong’ is also a good, slowly rocking, melancholy tune that really reminds me of “One Second” era Paradise Lost, having the black misery and nihilism that the Yorkshire miserabilists made famous. I could really picture Nick Holmes singing this song and being as I am a BIT of a fan of Paradise Lost, this is not really a demerit.

Production wise this record is actually pretty damned good. Production and engineering has been ably handled by Giuseppe Bassi, of Fear Factory notability. His handling of the bass guitar of Matteo Malmusi is especially noteworthy as it is easily audible but doesn’t overpower the rest of the band and is a writhing, sinuous underpoint to the music rather than just something there to give the music a bit of a fat arse. However, the drums sound lifeless and artificial (although very competently played) and the china cymbal really can grate somewhat as it appears to have developed a superiority complex over the rest of the percussion and decided that it should be the ONLY cymbal that is heard. Some of the song arrangements can also be a little…choppy on key changes and middle eights but these are really minor gripes compared to the expansive songs and sound that the band enjoy on this record.

So, Italy proves once again to us that the metal scene there is vibrant and wide-ranging. There’s clearly more to the Italian scene than just Lacuna Coil and Corpsefucking Art and I’m looking forward to dipping my toes in further. Forza Italia!!!

Yes, it is fair to say that I am actually more than a little impressed by Blue Hour Ghosts. Solid, experimental, heavy and melodic as well, they cover most bases that excite this perennial enfant terrible and the sex wee quotient is fairly high. While we aren’t going to experience flooding, as Calderdale Council have invested heavily in sex wee flood defences since the last time (that was The Machinist’s fault) the quantity is sufficient to call town planners’ decisions into question about whether they can build houses on the flood plain at the bottom of the hill. This is music that you would play on an epic roadtrip around the warmer climes of Europe with the top down at dusk. I like it.

A lot.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (Il sistema brevettato di valutazione degli schizzi di sangue Dark Juan – fuck it. Close enough. I’m sure the gentlemen will correct my Italian if they read what I have written about them) has been pleasantly shocked and awards Blue Hour Ghosts 8/10 for a damned fine melodic metal record with melancholy overtones. Surprising and excellent.

01. Walking Backwards
02. On Black Clouds
03. Dead In August
04. Damn Wrong
05. Shine
06. Fearless
07. Lower The Wires
08. Disheartened
09. Involved/Bored

Ricky DC – Vocals
Diego Angeli – Guitars
Francesco Poggi – Guitars
Simome Pedrazzi – Keyboards
Matteo Malmusi – Bass
Andrew Gunner – Drums


Blue Hour Ghosts Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of ‘Dark Juan’ 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.

Victoria K – Live Isolation Concert

Live Isolation Concert DVD Cover Art

Victoria K – Live Isolation Concert
Rockshots Records
Release Date: 29/01/2021
Running Time: 36:00
Review by Simon Black

This pandemic has been a nightmare for bands who had big debuts planned for 2021. So, you build an underground following, you become a ‘thing’ in your local Melbourne area (in the state of Victoria, natch), you get your long-awaited debut out…and then the world goes to hell in a hand basket. I feel for these guys, as the uphill journey got three times harder, so I am really appreciative of the fact that with the odds stacked against them and a debut record that hasn’t had the benefit of any touring and juicy support slots to get them pushed the band have forged ahead and done a lockdown gig, which is now available on DVD and CD. Frustratingly, all we have been given from the visual side is a short montage of clips from the DVD, so my comments are really based on the music release.

Musically, Victoria K are Symphonic Metal in the Within Temptation snorting Evanescence mould, but mix things up with the addition of some good old extreme grunts from guest vocalist Sheri Vengeance, and the songs, where both of them are given full reign to play off of each other, work really well. I reviewed the “Essentia” album last year and felt that it was a bit let down by production woes and some very average guitar work and given that the material played here is exactly the same (albeit in a different sequence), I was curious to see how this would come off live. The answer is ‘much better’. Actually changing the sequence helps, as another challenge I had with “Essentia” is that the musical tone was fairly samey on record, which is avoided here by a better running order, the presence of the extra pair of lungs and the interplay between the two front women.

And all this despite the fact that the sound mix is very rough and ready, as the two vocalists really have the opportunity to shine. Fortunately, there’s enough live clips to make it clear that the production quality doesn’t matter so much, because they clearly had a blinder playing this, the atmosphere generated is electric and although the guitars are (like the studio record) a bit too far back in the mix the net effect works well because the vocalists utterly hold your attention. The band aren’t big enough to really afford a major production for this performance, but they somehow make this work.

‘Freaks’ (Taken From ‘Live Isolation Concert’)

01. The Haunting
02. Mist Filled Sky
03. Forsaken
04. Humanity
05. Surreal
06. Freaks
07. Shroud of Solitude
08. Lacuna
09. Freedom Uncharted
10. Matrix

Victoria K – Vocals
Sheri Vengeance – Extreme Vocals (Black Like Vengeance, ex. Ne Obliviscaris)
Julia Mammone – Guitar (Enlight)
Martin Kawaler – Bass (Black Like Vengeance, ex Ten Thousand)
James Davies – Drums


Victoria K 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.

From The Depth – Moments

From The Depth – Moments
Rockshots Records
Release Date: 28/08/2020
Running Time: 48:44
Review by Beth Jones

Many things in life give me pleasure – I’m a cheerful soul like that – but music is top of the list every time. So, the volume of awesomeness that is popping up in the various scenes around the world currently makes Beth a happy girl indeed! And if there’s one thing that makes me exceedingly happy, it’s a good dose of Power Metal. It’s impossible to be angry when listening to it, I find! Pacey rhythms, face-melting guitar solos, and powerful harmonies are a match made in heaven/hell/nirvana/eutopia/the pub/other (delete as appropriate to indicate ‘happy place’ preference).

So, as you can imagine, I’m rather enjoying “Moments”, the upcoming release from Italian Power Metallers, From The Depth. The path, since forming in 2008 as a Power Metal covers band, has been turbulent for these guys, and it has been 6 years since they released their last EP, “Perseverance”. This new full-length album explores some of those ‘moments’ in their lives and in the history of the band.

Musically, this has got everything you would expect from Power Metal. It’s punchy and thunderous from the get-go. It melds string sections and ethereal synth and keys, with thumping crunchy riffs and plenty of bass, and sits clean vocals and harmonies nicely on top of everything else. Structurally, the songs explore rhythm and key change sections in a very pleasing way, exploring major and minor cadences and creating unexpected chord progressions and resolutions. It’s musically clever, and I like that. These guys have spent a lot of time thinking about how these songs all fit together, and how each component of every song sits within the sound.

They’re also very technically skilled with their instruments – the guitar solo in ‘Missed’ shows this off perfectly. Production wise, it’s pretty hot too. It’s not as diverse with the placing of instruments as some of the recent stuff I’ve been listening to, but then, it’s Power Metal – it’s supposed to hit you straight in the face, right?!

My favourite track on the album is the final track, ‘Somewhere’. It has a real change in pace from the rest, being a ballad. But it soars, and Raffo’s vocals are incredible on it. His tone is beautifully rich, and his range is ridiculous. His journey from lower, exquisite tenor tones, to off the scale falsetto is insane! As a vocalist, it fills me with joy and envy in equal measures. It’s an incredibly powerful and cinematic song, and brings the album to a very tidy close.

While this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and is very much rooted in standard Power Metal boots, “Moments” is heartfelt and refined, and well worth a listen.

01. Immortal
02. Spread Your Wings
03. Ten Years
04. Streets of Memory
05. Hypnos
06. Forget And Survive
07. Just Ice
08. Missed
09. A Matter of Time
10. Somewhere

Raffo – Vocals
Santo – Bass
Jump – Guitar
Simone – Guitar
Cristiano – Drums


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones 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.

Victoria K- Essentia

Victoria K- Essentia
Rockshots Records
Release Date: 24/04/2020
Running Time: 36:17
Review by Tsarina Wilson

Wow, well this is what I call a good start to my day by listening and being able to review the album “Essentia” by Australian band Victoria K. I then decided to check out some of their videos on YouTube and no wonder they have such a great reputation…

The Melbourne singer/songwriter first released her debut single ‘Monster’ in 2016 featuring guitar work by John Farnham band member Brett Garsed along with her 2019 follow up track ‘Lacuna’, this was distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Warner Music Group (Australia) and was the lead single off this album. This track gained a great amount of interest and media praise creating an opportunity for Victoria K to support Swiss folk metal giants Eluveitie for their May 2019 date in Melbourne. This was received so well the crowd were chanting for an encore. (That one I totally understand)

The idea was for a solo project, but this has developed into the current band structure with each member bringing their own energy, presence and skills to the project

Victoria K added; “I really hope that when our fans and new listeners hear the album, they can all find something they can connect with on a deeper level (Oh yes, I have definitely found that). Whether that connection is found from within the music itself or from specific lyrics, I really hope they find something familiar, which can connect them to some experience they have had, invoking memories and feelings, eliciting an emotional response”

Whilst Victoria K’s talented songwriting and compositional influences include Evanescence, Within Temptation, Nightwish and Kamelot amongst others, they have also racked up hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube with their own creations. They have also covered such songs as ‘The Trooper’ (Iron Maiden) and ‘Nothing Else Matters’ (Metallica) and after checking these out the word ‘wow’ just doesn’t seem enough of a description for this band

Okay, back to “Essentia” (which is Latin for ‘essence’)! I could say it starts of gently then builds into a great album, but I can’t lie…it starts off in epic fashion and keeps going all the way through with no let up. With, what seem like, effortless and crystal-clear vocals, but with an immense amount of power Victoria K shines. Yes, you can kind of hear the influences of Nightwish and Kamelot etc, but Victoria K definitely, and collectively, makes this style their own. Apart from Victoria K the band (on the album) consists of Extreme Vocals from Sheri Vengeance (Black Like Vengeance, ex Ne Obliviscaris), who can be heard on three tracks, the aforementioned guitarist Brett Garsed, bassist Rich Panaia (except on the track ‘Lacuna’ where bass is provided by Chris Rourke), drummer Gerry Pantazis and keyboard, piano and synth man Lee Bradshaw. The Budapest Scoring Orchestra also make an appearance conducted by Zoltán Pad.

For those who have not seen any of the videos released for “Essentia” and were expecting the stereotypical band of a female lead singer, some metal looking guys in the background and a tattooed and grizzled looking bloke singing the extreme vocals, well, take a look and be as shocked as I was as theses vocals are sung by female Sheri Vengeance and ‘oh my god’ she is utterly amazing, it’s like Evanescence meeting Slipknot in a dark alley and it blows your mind, and eardrums, when listening to it through earphones…ouch. Memo to self, next time turn the volume down slightly!

‘Freedom Uncharted’ kicks the album off and it immediately makes you sit up and take notice, it’s hypnotic and then ‘Surreal’ hits you into next weekend. It has a Middle Eastern twist at its finale, and I was thinking ‘mmm, okay, what can they throw at me next’, only to be greeted by breath-taking track after breath-taking track, there seriously is no let up here. ‘Shroud Of Solitude’, which features Michalina Malisz from Eluveitie on Hurdy Gurdy, gives you a few minutes to catch your breath but it’s still outstanding! My favourite track has to be ‘Freaks’. It starts with keyboards that sound almost like a musical box then…boom, another track that hits you, once again, with a vocal range that is just so clear and powerful.

At no time do the guitars, bass or drums take anything away from the vocals but they are still so clear and blend seamlessly. There is so much emotion in all of the performances, things I can relate to and, hopefully, many others can as well, which is exactly what Victoria K wanted. The track ‘Humanity’ so needs to be used as an end film credit sequence. This song is so powerful and haunting and when you listen to it, you can feel/see the orchestra with the band standing out front (any film directors out there please listen and take note)! Another standout performance on the album is the drumming. Gerry Pantazis must have had smoke coming out of his kit in some places, man can that guy drum!

While we are on the subject of powerful and beautiful things, I have to talk about the album artwork. There has to be merchandise with this image on…please, and if/when there is, I will be getting some, wow just wow! It’s not every day you are blown away by such a great band. They have picked up everything conventional about this genre, thrown it out of the window and made it their own! Stereotypical? Hell no…talented? Hell yes…leaving you wanting more? Without a doubt!

01. Freedom Uncharted (Feat Sheri Vengeance)
02. Surreal
03. Forsaken (Feat Sheri Vengeance)
04. Matrix (Feat Sheri Vengeance)
05. Shroud of Solitude (feat Michalina Malisz from Eluveitie)
06. The Haunting
07. Freaks
08. Mist Filled
09. Humanity
10. Lacuna


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Tsarina Wilson 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.

Blame Zeus – Seethe

Seethe Cover

Blame Zeus – Seethe
Rockshots Records
Release Date: 08/11/2019
Running Time: 45:37
Review by ‘Dark Juan’

Good afternoon, my children of the nether face of God. I am Dark Juan, and I bring you this epistle from the dark satanic mills of West Yorkshire, rather than the Brittany countryside. There were no more church altars to defile or virgins left. I’d worked through them all… Yes, I have returned to our sceptred isle of Great Britain permanently because rural France is boring. All those people in Blighty who thought they were safe from my tender ministrations should now be quietly crapping themselves because I have returned with vengeance on my mind, murder in my heart and a total lack of beer to mitigate any bad temper. In other news, there are probably a whole lot of other people fearing my return for other reasons – like workmates who will soon be being subjected to my rapid, unintelligible and insane gabbling due to acute caffeine sensitivity and a requirement for a LOT of coffee when working 48 hour shifts. I am also writing my memoirs. Ex-girlfriends and shitbags who have done me wrong – quake in your metaphorical boots, you set of twats!
Ah, the blessed relief of a good and satisfying rant.
I’ll be honest here, I chose to review this Portuguese prog metal band named Blame Zeus simply because “Blame Zeus!” is a familiar and tediously repetitive refrain in Dark Juan Towers (excuse me, it’s Dark Juan Terrace now!) when looking at a severely depleted bank balance. Normally when Sir Zeusington Zeus VC, DFC and Bar, Croix de Guerre, MM, KCVG has cost us another £80 to get medicine to get him to shit out whatever inedible object he has ingested this time. This is something that happens frequently. Which leads us clumsily into a segue deciding whether Blame Zeus are shit or not. I’m good at this writing lark, me.
This album is named “Seethe”. Opening song “How To Successfully Implode” was not what I was expecting when reading the blurb I got with the album. I was expecting sub-grade Lacuna Coil copyism with added twiddly bits. What I actually got was a fucking kick-ass heavy metal track from an instantly likeable band. I’m always suspicious of a band that labels themselves progressive, because prog done right is absolutely magical. Prog done wrong is a bunch of musicians disappearing rapidly up their own arses playing freeform jazz solos on eight string guitars WHILE SOME PIXIE WAILS ABOUT FUCKING FAIRIES AND TROLLS AND OTHER FANTASY SHIT AND THE DRUMMER IS PLAYING 5/4 TIME! Pardon me and my shouting, I am writing this review sober. This is a rare occurrence.
Vocalist Sandra Oliveira is excellent throughout the record. She is a barrel lunged chanteuse who is best described as a combination of Cristina Scabbia with more vocal control and the much loved (in Dark Juan’s twisted black gutter of a soul, anyway) Helen Vogt of the late and lamented Flowing Tears, and the band’s command of English is actually superb. It is relevant to note this because I now know at first hand just how difficult it is to communicate in another language, let alone compose and create in one. Bonus marks for intelligence…
Blame Zeus’ music is difficult to describe accurately. I wouldn’t say its progressive metal. I’d say its heavy metal with progressive elements. The riffs are meaty and satisfying, the production quality very good (if bass heavy, my poor headphones were buzzing like a swarm of seriously perturbed hornets on more than one occasion – I think the producer of the record is possibly a devotee of Phil Spector’s wall of sound) with generally excellent clarity apart from the previously mentioned overwhelming of my cans, and the musical arrangements inventive – and this is where the progressive elements part of my description comes in – in the middle eight of the song, or in the intro and start of a song is where you’ll find the most progressive sounds. Apart from ‘The Warden’. This song could be off any Tool album in the “Aenemia, Lateralus” and “10,000 Days” era. Luckily, these are splendid benchmarks to be judged against, so please do not count this as a demerit. ‘The Crown And The Gun’ has an extremely unusual start where it sounds like a bizarre three way musical coupling of Muse, Tool and Alice In Chains before the guitars kick in and lay you out with a hobnailed boot to the solar plexus. The solo on this tune is extremely prog though – all Eastern sounding before Sandra launches into ethereal wailing with lashings of reverb, chorus and echo before the song is dragged kicking and screaming back into the glorious light of metal and reminded what it actually is, which is a fucking heavy metal song and its only reason for existence is to be spectacularly violent and to cause ears to bleed. Which it did!
I like Blame Zeus. They were a fortuitous choice to review. Highlights are the opening song, which is an absolute heavy fucking metal triumph, ‘Down To Our Bones’ which has some excellent interplay between male and female vocals and ‘The Crown And The Gun’ which I believe represents EXACTLY what Blame Zeus are aiming for. I want to hear a lot more. I love Sandra’s voice, which is operatic without being overpowering, the music because it is after all heavy metal with added intelligence and the band sounding like they are enjoying themselves. There is far too much totally po-faced prog metal that causes this hellpriest to imagine the band spending hours discussing how to synocapte the drums in the most obscure time signature possible whilst sipping green tea and complaining that seven notes are simply not enough, before crapping out some 22 minute “song” about the siege of the Elven Kingdom of Walpurgia by the Orken Hordes of Shitbaggium. Anyway, Blame Zeus are good. If you like bands like Tool, Visions Of Atlantis, Flowing Tears and the like, then you will like them too. That was a deliberate attempt to see how many grammatically correct “likes” I could fit into a single sentence. You should buy their records. Do it. Do it NOW.
The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System would have done this bit in Portuguese, but doesn’t have Google Translate as we are currently sans internet (maybe the mighty beast of metal that is Victor Augusto of Ever Metal fame will be able to assist!) awards Blame Zeus a thoroughly disreputable 8/10 for an hell of an enjoyable record.
01. How To Successfully Implode
02. Déjà Vu
03. Down To Our Bones
04. White
05. Bloodstained Hands
06. The Obsession Lullaby
07. Into The Womb
08. No
09. The Warden
10. The Crown And The Gun
Sandra Oliveira – Voice
Ricardo Silveira – Drums
Paulo Silva – Guitar
Tiago Lascasas – Guitar
Celso Oliveira – Bass
Promo Pic1
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan 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.