Floor Jansen – Paragon

Paragon Album Cover Art

Floor Jansen – Paragon
Crash Records
Release Date: 24/03/23
Running Time: 34:39
Review by Simon Black

Like many people I only really came across the highly impressive Ms. Jansen after she had joined Nightwish in 2013, but the building blocks of this album date back to her days in fellow Symphonic pioneers After Forever. Although highly respected, the band petered out after a decade or so, but this highly anticipated solo album has thematic content dating back from those days, as well as being lynch-pinned around the highly talented multi-instrumentalist Gordon Groothedde. Groothedde had producer duties back in the After Forever days, but he is a hugely talented musician and songwriter in his own right and plays a huge amount of the instrumental content on this album as well as contributing to the song-writing.

She may have been the voice of two fundamental Symphonic Metal acts, but that’s not what “Paragon” is about. Stylistically this is a soaring piece of very mainstream Pop-Rock that just happens to have one of the best Metal vocalists on the planet behind it, which is why it really straddles the two seemingly incompatible audiences very well. At the end of the day, it’s that astounding vocal range, power and charismatic performance that is going to bring people to this album, and Jansen absolutely hits the spot here.

Her vocal performance doesn’t pull any punches at all, so don’t expect a watered-down version of her normal self – it’s just the music is more way less loud and heavy but has lost none of the complexity and technicality behind the arrangements. Whereas in Nightwish, she’s sharing a busy stage with a shed load of talented players bouncing off each other, this record is all about her, and consequently steps back to let her shine. That said the arrangements are far from simplistic, with progressions that allow her to show her enormous range and build presence as the songs unfold. They are also all quite short, all under four minutes and focussed on telling a story, many of which take on a different light when viewed through the prism of her recent battle with cancer (‘Hope’ and ‘Invincible’ in particular). 

If you want soaring huge metal epics, then her day job band is where you probably should head, but if you want an insight into what makes Floor tick then yes, you are going to be pleasantly surprised. 

‘Me Without You’ Official Video

01. My Paragon
02. Daydream
03. Invincible
04. Hope
05. Come Full Circle
06. Storm
07. Me Without You
08. The Calm
09. Armoured Wings
10. Fire


Floor Jansen – Vocals
Gordon Groothedde – Bass, Guitars, Drums, Piano & Keys, Strings & Brass, Midi,
Backing Vocals
Ivo Maarhuis – Drums
Ton Dijkman – Drums
Wouter Hardy – Piano & Keys, Midi, Strings & Brass, Midi


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.

EMQ’s With Nachtmuse

Nachtmuse Logo

EMQ’s With Nachtmuse

Hi everyone! Welcome to another EMQs interview, this time with Canadian Symphonic Metal Project, Nachtmuse. Huge thanks to main main, Geoff Hodsman, 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?

Hi, I’m Geoff Hodsman. I play guitar, bass and drums as well as performing harsh vocals. Nachtmuse is my project, which I started as an outlet for my more melodic musical ideas that weren’t possible to pursue with my Death Metal bands. I started with a demo in 2017, which was very rewarding so from there Nachtmuse has been my main interest. With help from some talented vocalists (Maude Theberge and Jeff Mott) there’s since been a full-length album (‘Solemn Songs of Nightsky & Sea’) along with a music video (‘Under the Yoke’). Currently we are on the cusp of releasing the follow up EP, ‘Darker Skies’.

How did you come up with your band name?

Well, let’s divide it into two parts: 

Nacht, as in the night, and darkness. I tend to identify with both, a quirk of my personality I suppose, and if left to my own devices (a thing that doesn’t happen anymore) I’d probably spend most of my waking hours after sundown. My songs are usually sorrowful or look at concepts that are not bright and cheerful, so it is a suitable side of our day-to-day to identify with. Why did I go with the Germanic ‘nacht’? Well, there is ‘nachtmusik’ (as in the great composer Mozart), which I suppose my music is, and that also brings in a classical aspect that makes a lot of sense when you hear the symphonic elements we’re bringing. But also because German things sound brutal.

Muse, as in creativity. Nachtmuse is my main creative outlet.

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

I’m from Toronto, Canada. Toronto is the largest city in Canada, but interestingly that doesn’t make for the best rock / music scene. I’d say Montreal (where our vocalists Jeff and Maude hail from) does a lot better in this regard, that city has always flourished with creativity as far as I can witness. In Toronto people seem to have everything they could ever need and can’t really be bothered to leave their homes unless it’s for a big artist. Our smaller venues can barely stay open.

What is your latest release?

That would be the single ‘The Sunken’. Kindly have a listen to it!

Who have been your greatest influences?

In terms of direct influences for Nachtmuse, the biggest one is Therion. There is a sweet spot of albums in their long career that is by far my favourite music ever, and that’s why I’m writing Symphonic Metal of my own. Then we have some other bands like Lacrimosa, The Gathering, Dreams of Sanity and All About Eve. I also just really like riffs… chuggy ones, snarly ones, etc..

What first got you into music?

Probably my dad and big sister. My music exposure in my childhood was mainly what my dad was listening to in the car. Then as I got a little older my sister got me to attend my first concert and I picked up on a lot of her Rock music tastes. In terms of playing it, well, in my pre-teens I was attending a school downtown for two years (before they recommended that I don’t come back) and they had this sweet vintage P-Bass. I think playing around on it and toying with the idea of being like the rockstars I was listening to got me started with playing. 

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

Christofer Johnsson (Therion). It would be very cool to get to work alongside such a huge influence. 

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

70,000 Tons of Metal! It’s like a metal festival except instead of being in the mud, rain and burning sun, you are on a cruise ship! It probably can’t get any better than that!

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

It feels weird to me still when people actually exchange their money for my work. We do after all live in this paradigm where music is for all intents and purposes free to consume. Call it imposter syndrome but I do regard it as a gift every time. So, thanks to all who have supported me!

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

Nachtmuse is not just some cute metal-rock thing with violins. It’s serious music that actually speaks to what’s in my heart and mind. I hope and am grateful for anyone that listens to my work. Oh, and please do so in their entirety (an entire album or EP) in the intended track order. 😉 

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

I think Chris Cornell. I don’t really feel much when a celebrity passes but that one I did. I’ve always respected his singing and song writing a lot.

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

I enjoy the satisfaction of creating something of my own. It’s kind of what I live for. There are aspects though that I wouldn’t say I ‘hate’, but I do find them annoying, such as maintaining a social media presence and sourcing visual material to go with the music.

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

I could think for a while and come up with some really granular things that are particular to the specific type of music I work with, but right off the bat I’ll just say that musicians are getting fleeced for their work. I mean we all know Spotify alone is not going to pay our bills. Music has become extremely undervalued, so I think it’d be great if we all embraced a way for us to be better compensated.

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

Therion – “Lemuria”.

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

I don’t care for vinyl at all. I mean it’s nice that the cover art is so big but otherwise, you have this very limited audio quality, and the discs wear out. I’m sure I’d feel different if I were raised on it though, after all, I like cassettes purely because I’m nostalgic for how they sound. I like CD’s the best, those have always been a part of my world and I will stubbornly cling to them as we delve deeper into our digital future.

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

That would bring us into the realm of my Death Metal bands. Envenomation was a short-lived Slam band from maybe twelve years ago, we only played two gigs and it was weird but those two gigs were unexpectedly packed and wild. I think if we’d kept it together that band could have done great things. I’ve also had some very nice experiences with a current band, Human Compost, such as the success of our album release party (for ‘From the Grave They Crawl’) and more recently the incredible death metal fans of the Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge area.

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

It would have to be some sort of other artistic creation then. That’s always been my nature – as a kid I was into visual art. So, it could have remained that, or perhaps I’d be an author of low-quality fiction. 

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

I’d have Graham Hancock, Randall Carlson, Jimmy Corsetti, Ben van Kerkwyk and Joe Rogan over. I wouldn’t have to say a thing, and the conversation would be incredible.

What’s next for the band?

I’m currently intending to do another full length. I have themes I’ve been toying with, not going to disclose what they are yet but it would involve an epic prog-metal four-parter making up 50% of the release. In the meantime, we’re going to see what can be done to keep the train for this new EP rolling with potential music videos and other visual stimulation.

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

You can find Nachtmuse on Instagram, Facebook, Bandcamp and all popular music streaming services!

Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?

What’s a Jaffa Cake? I don’t think we have those here. Going on the name I’d say it’s a cake, but as far as I’m concerned Jaffa are the slave race of the Goa’uld.

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

Nachtmuse is Symphonic Metal with an extra dose of heaviness and creativity. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of 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.

Interview with IMPERIAL AGE

Imperial Age Logo

Interview with IMPERIAL AGE
Interviewed and Produced by Chris Galea

There is only one way
To get a good thing done:
You carry on falling
Until you start to run

(from ‘Battle Heart’ by Imperial Age)

The UK tour of Imperial Age faced all sorts of setbacks, not least their forced exodus from Russia (their country of origin) after the Russian dictator’s invasion of Ukraine. But eventually that tour did happen. Just before the last date, in London, I briefly chatted with two of the band’s founding members, Alexander Osipov and Jane Odintsova. There were a few unforeseen technical mishaps with the recording but we thought we’d share it with you anyway. 

Video interview with Alexander Osipov and Jane Odintsova of Imperial Age:


Alexander “Aor” Osipov – Tenor vocals
Jane “Corn” Odintsova – Mezzo-Soprano vocals
Anna “Kiara” Moiseeva – Soprano vocals
Dmitry “Belf” Safronov – Bass, Unclean vocals
Manuele Di Ascenzo – Drums


Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Chris Galea and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, 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.

Marco Garau’s Magic Opera – Battle of Ice

Battle of Ice Album Cover Art

Marco Garau’s Magic Opera – Battle of Ice
Release Date: 27/01/23
Running Time: 01:04:07
Review by Simon Black

I had come across the first part of this epic saga of bombastic Symphonic Metal from Derdian’s Marco Garau a couple of years ago. To be honest, despite being the Ever Metal guy who normally dives straight for this sort of stuff from the slush pile like the little Power / Symphonic junkie that I am, I struggled with that first record somewhat. It wasn’t a bad album at all, but it didn’t grab me in the way that I expected it to given the pedigree of its contributors. But then you have to start somewhere, lockdown probably didn’t help and the difference between this second part of the story and 2021’s “The Golden Pentacle” is positive and tangible. It also feels like a whole bunch of the niggles I personally had with that record have been addressed, which is a little spooky… because we don’t really believe anyone actually reads all this drivel that we write…

Now any act where the keyboard player has his name on the cover is always going to dominate the melody lines, but this time this feels like a full and cohesive band working together rather than (admittedly top drawer) hired hands just playing their pre-written parts. “Pentacle” felt like that the writing had happened long before the rest of the gang arrived; “Battle of Ice” does not. OK, there’s plenty of moments of the kind of operatic flourish that the Italian Symphonic segment has more than a few examples of, but stylistically this is also a lot more varied. Vocally Anton Darusso’s moved against the flow of the keyboard melody lines this time out and it makes for a much richer feel, with guitarist Enrico Pistolese adding some Extreme vocal touches this feels much more like a piece of music crafted collaboratively by some pretty talented guys, with Garau no longer dominating as he did first time out. 

Garau gives us plenty of instrumental pizazz for sure and the sparring with guitarist Luca Sellitto works well, with the right balance between Neo-Classical, some good old fashioned Metal shred and some highly unusual time switches that shouldn’t work but do (‘The Legend of the Demon’s Cry’ being a great example of this). More importantly the whole album flows so well that I found myself on my third full spin before remembering that I had a review to write, which is a sign that this one is going to stay within easy reach for a while. A huge improvement indeed and it really feels like a band effort, not a solo side project, and one I am now quite keen to hear the next segment of…

‘Ride Into The Sun’ Official Lyric Video

01. The Black Sorcery
02. The Cursed Crown
03. The Legend of the Demon’s Cry
04. Assault on the Castle
05. Ride into the Sun
06. White Dragon
07. The Shadow Man
08. The Book of Evil
09. Under Siege
10. Battle of Ice

Marco Garau – Keyboards
Anton Darusso – Vocals
Enrico Pistolese – Rhythm Guitars, Backing Vocals
Luca Sellitto – Lead Guitars
Salvatore Giordano – Drums
Ollie Bernstein – Bass


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.

EMQ’s With Obsidian Skies

Obsidian Skies logo

EMQ’s With Obsidian Skies

Hi everyone! Welcome to another EMQs interview, this time with USA Progressive Symphonic Metal band, Obsidian Skies. Huge thanks to them 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?

We’re Obsidian Skies, a progressive Symphonic Metal band from the Boulder, Colorado region. We formed during the Covid-19 pandemic as a studio project to write some metal. We are:

Logan Dougherty – Guitars, Piano, Orchestration

Tim Watervoort – Guitars, Bass, Vocals

How did you come up with your band name?

We wanted a name that captured the void and darkness that one would experience on a voyage into the unknown. A lot of our music deals with mystery and intrigue so we wanted to reflect that with our overall image. Once we came up with the idea of using “Obsidian” in our name it just felt right and we went from there. We felt that the word “Skies” captured the idea of exploring new frontiers in our lyrical content.

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

We’re from Boulder, Colorado in the US. Boulder itself doesn’t have much of a Metal scene, but the music scene in Denver (just a short drive away) is amazing! The Metal fans are super passionate and they seem to make it to all sorts of shows, even ones that aren’t in their favourite subgenre. We’ve seen shows in inclement weather in small mountain towns and still had packed audiences.

What is your latest release?

Our first release “Saturnian” will be out October 14th, 2022. It is a 3-song EP and we’re stoked to share it with the world.

Who have been your greatest influences?

Tim is influenced by bands like Eluveitie, Ne Obliviscaris, Insomnium, and Alkaloid as well as great bassists like Linus Klausenitzer and Dominic LaPointe. Logan draws a lot of inspiration from Tech Death bands like Obscura and Alkaloid, as well as classical and film music composers like Debussy, Rachmaninoff, and John Williams.

What first got you into music?

For Logan, it was really the Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back soundtrack. He played it on repeat on a portable CD player everywhere he went, burning through a lot of AA batteries to keep the music powered. For metal, Logan got into Iron Maiden and Slipknot around 7th grade and quickly went down that rabbit hole.

For Tim, it was his parents forcing him into an after-school activity. He hated most of the sports he tried (and sucked at them, to be fair) but when they put him into a classical guitar class, he took to it eagerly. Since then, he’s gone through a few instruments including piano, electric guitar, and bass. He fell in love with Rock and Metal in high school and music hasn’t stopped being his passion since.

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

Alkaloid. We really admire both their technical ability and their composition. They create some of the most original Metal we’ve heard in a long time.

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

Wacken Open Air. It’s really just a legendary festival and so many of the bands we love have played there. Plus, it would be cool to go to Germany to play a show!

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

We’ve never actually gotten a gift, but we are open to any weird gifts that you’d like to bestow.

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

You’re the best! It might seem clichéd to say, but we couldn’t do it without you. Knowing that we aren’t composing music to sit in a vacuum really motivates us, giving us a reason to write and perform.

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

Joey Jordison from Slipknot. He was an amazing drummer, really an inspiration in the genre. It was sad to hear about his passing and we wish that he was still around.

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

The part we enjoy the most is the creative process, being able to write new material that people haven’t heard before and explore new boundaries. Ironically, the creative process can also be the thing that we hate the most sometimes; there definitely is the stress associated with making it perfect, especially if you feel you’ve hit a wall with the writing process. It can feel like you aren’t really making progress, though, at least in our experience, eventually, that is overcome.

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

The DIY aspects of the industry can get really tiring. While it is nice that it’s possible to do everything ourselves, it’s a lot to tackle, and a lot of new ground to break as we don’t always know what we’re doing in terms of marketing, promoting, etc. But it does have the benefit of more creative freedom. While it would be nice to have a more standard model to follow, where an executive deals with a lot of those issues, we know that it would force our music in a certain direction. So, there are definitely pro’s and con’s to being an independent artist.

If we could, we’d change the necessity to be “profitable” in a creative field.

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

For Logan: “American Idiot” by Green Day. It’s definitely one of the ones that he always finds enjoyable to get lost in. It flows through the whole album seamlessly.

For Tim: “Riitiir” by Enslaved. Enslaved never really misses, but this album was especially great. Almost every song on this album is incredible.

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

Maybe not the most popular opinion, but definitely downloads. Sure, not the highest audio quality always, and it misses some of the warmth of analogue, but it’s just so convenient. You can access them anywhere and just need a phone instead of lugging around all sorts of speakers/equipment to play the music.

CD’s / Vinyl are great options as well for collecting reasons and to better support the artists you listen to.

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

It would have to be the one in Nederland, CO (the small mountain town show). Tim and I were both in Endlight at the time and we performed in this bar that was jam-packed. Everyone was super friendly and loved that they had a Metal show for a change.

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

Both of us would likely be pursuing PhD’s in the fields that we were studying before Endlight formed. Tim would be doing something with linguistics and Logan would be doing something with astrophysics.

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

John Williams, Jeff Goldblum, Johan Hegg (Amon Amarth), Chrigel Glanzmann (Eluveitie) for some great Gaulish history lessons, and Richard Ayoade. An eclectic group, but we think it’d be fun.

What’s next for the band?

Once “Saturnian” is released, we’re looking to dive right back into writing more music! We’re looking at creating a full-length album and the current plan is to sequester ourselves in a cabin in the woods for about a week to get a strong head start.

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

In addition to the below links, our music will be out on all major streaming services on October 14th.
Website: http://www.obsidianskiesband.com
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZCPA3AZRQ46V-sCXwEw8HQ
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Obsidian-Skies-109138908535805
Bandcamp: https://obsidian-skies.bandcamp.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/obsidianskiesband

Time for a very British question now. As an alternative to the humble sandwich, is the correct name for a round piece of bread common in the UK either a Bap, a Barm (or Barm Cake), a Batch, a Bun, a Cob, a Muffin, a Roll or a Tea Cake?

We’re going to have to go with “a Roll”

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

Thanks so much for interviewing us!

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.

Therion – Theli (Re-Issue)

Theli (Re-Issue) Album Cover Art

Therion – Theli (Re-Issue)
Hammerheart Records
Release Date: 09/09/2022
Running Time: 51:27
Review by Simon Black

How have I never heard this before?!?!

As one of the few people across the sites I contribute too who actually and actively enjoys the more Power and Symphonic ends of the Euro Metal spectrum (to much snorted derision from some of my peers I might add) and yet I missed the granddaddy of them all! Now, I know most of you think Symphonic Metal started with (and probably in most cases ends with) Nightwish, but the reality is that Therion were actually the progenitors of the whole sub-genre before any journalist had come up with the tag line.

Their history is fascinating. 

With a name inspired by one of Celtic Frost’s key 1980’s releases, Sweden’s Therion started life as a Death Metal act, admittedly one with a more polished technical style than was the norm in those Old School days and with a bent for more political lyrics more usually associated with Thrash. During those unstable years of the 90’s and after being handed around labels, the band initially started experimenting with 1993’s “Symphony Masses: Ho Drakon Ho Megas”, which spliced up Death, Doom, Heavy Metal, a bit of Industrial, with some Middle Eastern tinges and some all important classical and choral elements. Whilst hardly a massive hit, it was clearly interesting enough for Nuclear Blast and their very welcome budgets to pick them up. From the pot pourri of that release, they chose to take the choral and classical elements as the basis for the next experimental stab in the dark, for which Nightwish and everyone who came after is no doubt exceedingly grateful…

To be fair, the clear and distinct fusion of styles that Symphonic Metal became is a way off yet, making this more Classical Metal for me, as the former dominates. The structure of it, the clear classical rather than Rock or Metal based progressions and the fact that the guitars are not the dominant instrument in the mix make this a very different beast indeed. There’s also a huge slab of 1980’s Gothic Rock in the guitar sounds as well, which strongly utilise semi-acoustic sounds throughout, rather than relying on overdriven crunch throughout. Yes, there’s Metal in there, but it remains a key flavour in the mix, rather than the dominant element, which is what the genre developed into.

Then there’s the vocal work. 

Band progenitor Christofer Johnsson takes the main more Metal solo vocal spots, but the true lead spot actually belongs to the two choirs who contribute to this record (the North German Radio Choir and the Siren Choir). They actually cover more of the vocal airtime than Johnsson and it’s why this record stands apart from anything that came afterwards. Nightwish (and every other imitator) famously like to balance with a male and female voice, and it’s the contribution of solo soprano Anja Krenz which lays the groundwork for this. It’s a trick that Therion themselves use to this day, but again, it starts here.

Then there’s the fact that the instrumental sections on here are so extensive and with the exception of the epic ‘The Siren Of The Woods’ aren’t doing so by dragging a conventional song structure out by several minutes by over-extending the solo or middle eight. Instead, these instrumentals are the backbone of each track and indeed the piece as a whole, as it’s the vocal sections that are there to break things up. 

It’s a fascinating piece of work. Anything Metal normally distinguishes itself from almost every other form of music by the rhythmic domination of a deep and thunderous bass, and indeed double bass drum, but again this record throws that out, and Piotr Wawrzeniuk opts for placing the snare and high toms way higher in the patterns mix so as not to drown out the instrumentals.

It actually took me a good four or five spins before I could even attempt to put fingers to keyboards on this one, because it is so distinctively different and thoroughly unique. It may have started a whole sub-genre, but it’s also very different from what that genre became and clearly I’ve got some catching up to do. 

Wow. Just wow…!

‘To Mega Therion’ Official Video

01. Preludium
02. To Mega Therion
03. Cults of the Shadows
04. In the Desert of Set
05. Interludium
06. Nightside of Eden
07. Opus Eclipse
08. Invocation of Naamah
09. The Siren of the Woods
10. Grande Finale / Postludium

Christofer Johnsson – guitar, vocals, keyboards
Piotr Wawrzeniuk – drums, vocals
Lars Rosenberg – bass guitar
Jonas Mellberg – guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboards


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.

Edenbridge – Shangri-La

Shangri-La Album Cover Art

Edenbridge – Shangri-La
AFM Records
Release Date: 26/08/2022
Running Time: 57:55
Review By Alex Swift

Veteran Austrian musicians Edenbridge create an odd fusion in their music. Their music deviates from the Gothic strain of Symphonic Metal and has never fully embraced its Power Metal strain. Instead, with ample dashes of Progressive Rock, Neoclassical Metal, Folk, and even Pop, Edenbridge walk a tight line between Power Metal and Melodic Hard Rock. Their latest album, “Shangri-La”, serves as evidence of their outstanding musicianship, supporting the claim that the band’s extreme eclecticism makes it meaningless to categorise them by genre.

The album is structured with two lengthier Progressive epics serving as the album’s bookends to a collection of simpler, shorter pieces. These are further separated into quick and violent Power Metal songs, melodic mid-tempo Hard Rock tunes, and lovely acoustic ballads. This variety alone guarantees that the album, which comes in at just under an hour in total, is engaging and entertaining throughout its nine tracks. ‘At First Light’, the album’s opening track, is a magnificent multi-part beast that transitions flawlessly from its grandiose, orchestra-meet-Metal first portion. The music’s major driving force, Lanvall’s ballsy but melodic guitar playing, is expertly woven into the choral and orchestral arrangements. The magnificent ballad ‘Savage Land’ is a prime example of Sabine Edelsbacher’s stunning voice, whose highly lyrical tone lends the songs a show tune-like feel. This track, which is in the middle of the album, is also notable for Daniel Tomann-Eickhoff of the NDR Radio Orchestra’s fantastic, Jethro-Tull-like flute solo.

Other highlights include fantastic Hard Rock anthems like ‘The Call of Eden’, ‘Hall of Shame’, and ‘Freedom Is a Roof Made of Stars,’ the latter of which eventually develops into a stunning acoustic conclusion. The opposite approach is taken in ‘Arcadia (The Great Escape)’, which begins quiet and gradually builds to a dramatic chorus with a return of the gospel choir. The dynamic changes in both tracks are significant, and Karl Groom’s crisp, well-balanced production does a great job of capturing them. The quality of the other songs is possibly a little bit worse, primarily as a result of their considerably less alluring melodic hooks.  ‘The Bonding (Part 2),’ a vast, 16-minute epic split into five pieces that vary between full-orchestra bravado and calmer acoustic periods, deserves its own discussion. The most adventurous piece on the album, this song almost succeeded. Still, the little too mechanical melodies suddenly lose that visceral draw, providing for a somewhat constrained end to an otherwise excellent record.

Ultimately, Edenbridge’s album Shangri-La is a tremendous comeback, exhibiting a collection of all the traits that have made them a standout outfit in the Symphonic Metal scene. Although the album does not invent anything new, it is difficult to criticise when the content is of such great calibre. A significant full-length by Edenbridge has just been released, serving as a respectable addition to a career spanning more than twenty years.

01. At First Light
02. The Call Of Eden 
03. Hall Of Shame 
04. Savage Land 
05. Somewhere Else But Here 
06. Freedom Is A Roof Made Of Stars
07. Arcadia (The Great Escape) 
08. The Road To Shangri-La 
09. The Bonding (Part 2) – I.Overture II.Alpha And Omega III.The Eleventh Hour IV.Round And Round V.The Timeless Now-Finale

Sabine Edelsbacher – Lead Vocals 
Lanvall – Lead & Rhythm 
Johannes Jungreithmeier – Drums 
Steve Hall – Bass 
Dominik Sebastian – Lead Guitar


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Alex Swift 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.

Anthea – Tales Untold

Tales Untold Album Cover Art

Anthea – Tales Untold
Rockshots Records
Release Date: 26/08/22
Running Time: 45:15
Review by Dark Juan

Hello, my dear friends. It is I, Dark Juan and I have just recovered from a two-day hangover caused by entertaining two of my friends from Her Majesty’s American Colonies (these august gentlemen being Mike Antipathy and NoHandsDan. NoHandsDan is named this because he actually has no hands, but can’t half pack away the ale. He is also from Arizona and was complaining about the heat. In Yorkshire. This might have raised a giggle from myself and Mrs Dark Juan. We also informed him what a fanny actually is. Anyway, both of them, due to the homebrew concocted by your faithful correspondent and subsequent hangover, went to Blackpool ON THE WRONG TRAIN) with my now internationally famous Yorkshire homebrew. The fallout was disastrous. Dead bodies everywhere… Best of all, the Septics got to enjoy a two-day Punk festival in Blackpool with massive hangovers. 

My work was a grand success…

I have raised myself from my bed of pain to write these words fuelled by tea and cucumber sandwiches because I have just painted the hall of Dark Juan Terrace and listening to LA-based Anthea’s sophomore album is my reward for working hard. Let us discover together whether I should have made a start on the bathroom instead of listening to this album!

The record opens with ‘Tales Untold’ and the immediate thing that hits you is the absolute wall of sound production, not unlike a Phil Spector job where everything has been stuck on full and left there while the producer nipped out for a fag and never came back. However, the band are somewhat… uninspiring. Symphonic Power Metal should be pompous, overblown, unapologetic and orchestral – see Schysma for what it should be. It should be bat-shit demented, hovering on the razors edge of good taste, silliness and absolute ridicule and should never take itself too seriously. Anthea appear to be a tremendously serious band, and that is to their detriment. 

The tunes are good, though, the musicians are all absolutely fucking top-notch players and the arrangements dense and complex (the Eastern touch of the keyboards on ‘Sapiens’ is particularly satisfying) and for all the production resembles a massive road train with failed brakes bearing down on you it never overwhelms the listener, although while I’m having a moan the cymbals are far too far back in the mix, the bass too far forward and the keyboards vie with the guitars for supremacy rather than complementing each other, especially on power ballad ‘Memoriam’ (FUCKING POWER BALLADS!!! IF I WANTED FUCKING POWER BALLADS I’D BE LISTENING TO SIMON AND FUCKING GARFUNKEL! I HATE POWER BALLADS MORE THAN I HATE TORIES AND I REALLY, REALLY FUCKING DESPISE TORIES!). And this song neatly demonstrates the limitations of singer Diego Valadez. He doesn’t manage to create the soaring, skyrocket quality of vocal that this music requires and the scratchy, Metalcore growl that guitarist Juan Pina employs (‘Looking Glass’ among others) also detracts from the music, which is a strange and unusual amalgam of Thrash and Power Metal. Valadez suffers the same problem that Blaze Bayley did when fronting Iron Maiden – he’s too limited a vocalist. Don’t get me wrong, he’s perfectly fucking competent and very listenable just like the Midlands bruiser Bayley, but he can’t reach those glorious, sunlit highs and his voice sounds stretched and forced when he’s trying to break out of his mid-range.

Influence-wise, there’s a rather large and obvious nod to “Century Child” era Nightwish, all tinkling ivories or colossal keyboards swirling and soaring around heavily-produced guitars and multiple breaks per song which gives the music a sort of cinematic quality, as they could easily be incorporated into scenes of battle or travail in a fantasy movie. This story-telling element is one of the big pluses of this album. The musical arrangements are very well thought out and executed and the lyrics interesting. I just wish they would make their mind up as to whether they want to be Nightwish or At The Gates though, because the guttural Melodeath vocals really detract from the music, ‘Sunder Heart’ really suffering from them, especially as it is one of the more expansive-sounding songs on the record. You’re either a Power Metal band or you’re not. There’s a lot of vocal overdubs on this record as well, and they are rather obvious too. Other influences Dark Juan can hear include Wintersun, Within Temptation and DragonForce without the lunatic idiocy and desire to make a guitar sound like a Nintendo 64.

Album closer ‘In Time’ is unintentionally hilarious, as Anthea channel their inner Phil Collins and Dire Straits on the intro before breaking into an absolutely cracking, lighter waving, stadium filling hair Metal anthem that sounds like it was released in about 1988. Anthea should have been supporting Bon Jovi on the “Slippery When Wet” tour playing MegaDomes across America with this tune. Arguably it’s the best tune on the record because it is just a truly joyous thing to listen to and behold. This is the style Anthea should be playing. It’s a fucking brilliant anthem that suits Valadez’s voice admirably and the band appear to be supremely comfortable playing it. It’s a fucking crying shame I had to wait for the last song before the band opened up the taps properly and played a song that didn’t sound forced or was overcompensating wildly… It’s a bit of a shame it’s not their song and a cover version, really.

To conclude then – this is one of those particularly annoying albums that could have been absolutely fucking amazing, and has all the right ingredients, but somehow misses the target. Most of the blame needs to be laid at the door of the singer for this, as he lacks the vocal range to hit massive high notes. When singing in his comfort zone, though, he can be truly phenomenal as demonstrated by the last song on the album. His comfort zone is not balls to the wall outlandish Power Metal though. The band’s sound, which is huge but by no means unique, is somewhat stuck in the early 2000’s and relies too much on Nightwish as an influence to allow Anthea’s compositions to breathe. 

Merely adequate and ultimately forgettable apart from the last song.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System awards Anthea 6/10 for a run of the mill effort that pokes its head above the parapet of greatness once. And I managed to get through this entire review without mentioning British TV personality and grin-monster Anthea Turner once. She was absolutely fucking everywhere on UK TV and radio once. A bottle-blonde, ever-present, teeth-bared rictus underneath dead, empty eyes, leering dementedly out of your early evening television.

01. Tales Untold
02. Ascendence
03. Song for Winter
04. The Deceiver
05. Sapiens
06. Memoriam
07. Looking Glass
08. Empyrean
09. Sunder Heart
10. In Time

Diego Valadez – Vocals/Keys
Juan Pina – Guitar/Screams
Marcos Mejia – Guitar
Eric Guerrero – Bass
Peter Vasquez – Drums


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.

Visions of Atlantis – Pirates

Pirates Album Cover Art

Visions of Atlantis – Pirates
Napalm Records
Release Date: 13/05/2022
Running Time: 58:00
Review by Rory Bentley 

Ok let’s get this out the way, I hate the pirate gimmick. I hate people that do pirate voices thinking it passes as a joke, I hate people that think dressing like a pirate constitutes a personality and I DESPISE the inexplicably popular pirate metal band that I won’t even dignify by naming here. The fact that it turns out that some of the members are bigoted pond life in their personal lives only adds further vindication to my ire. Some of you are probably going to accuse me of being no fun and having no sense of humour, but I’m sure I’ll get over not getting invited to your next plastic cutlass play fight. You’re that guy at work that people call a ‘character’ because he’s memorised some old Harry Enfield quotes but most people conveniently forget to invite to the pub. You wear a t-shirt with guitars on it that says ‘choose your weapon’, you call people ‘sir’ in an affected medieval voice and you sit on a deckchair all day at the Download main stage wearing a hat that doesn’t suit you. I can do this all day but you get the idea. You quote Monty Python and you’re invisible to the opposite sex etc. Ok I’m done. You shout butt scratcher at festivals and sneer at mainstream culture because you lack the social skills to ever be part of it. Ok I promise I’m done now.

The reason I’ve just gone on that harrowing rant is that Visions of Atlantis, a band I actually quite like, popped up in the review schedule with an album called “Pirates”, with a Piratey album cover, some nautical song titles and press photos where they look like some Long-John-Silver-ass motherfuckers, and my heart sank like an anchor based metaphor that I can’t be arsed to come up with. Fearing the worst but having a soft spot for the band, I tentatively put myself forward for the review. Upon hitting play my first words were thus- ‘Thank fuck for that!’

I’m delighted to say, with no small relief, that the Pirate theme here is predominantly allegorical and the album is still the same high quality Symphonic Metal I’ve come to expect from these guys. Even more pleasingly, there is a clear evolution of the band’s sound here that for the most part works incredibly well.

‘Pirates Will Return’ opens things up with the band’s signature bombast, with robust stomping riffs colliding with high production orchestration and powerful duelling vocals from Clémentine Delaunay and Michele Guaitoli. Despite its epic approach and longer runtime, the song whizzes by and is brimming with hooks that hit with laser precision. An excellent start.

The clear focus on melodic hooks is even more present on ‘Melancholy Angel’ and ‘Clocks’, both coming in under the four minute mark and leaning in a more commercial direction. Some fans may view this as a negative but it is a style that really suits them, and in a genre that can become exhausting in its excess, taut, disciplined songwriting that still retains the flamboyance of prime Symphonic Metal is nothing to be sniffed at.

There is a nice balance between more conventional, operatic  kitchen-sink chucking and festival-ready euro bangers that makes for a varied and enjoyable listen. For every cinematic fantasy workout like ‘Master The Hurricane’ there’s a ‘Wild Elysium’ to take the edge off, which is a trick that many of their peers struggle to pull off, either descending too far into pomposity or beating you to death with endless Eurovision (Eurovision is sheer joy, the best night of the whole year, and I won’t hear a word against it! Dark Juan) entries until you have to tap out.

Not everything here works, with a couple of saccharine ballads in the form of ‘Darkness Inside’ and ‘Heal the Scars’ bringing the momentum down a little and I actually feel that some of the punchier songs could have used an extra component or repeated chorus aa they occasionally end a little abruptly. But the fact that the guy that complains everything’s too long is advocating letting a song breathe a bit longer should tell you both how much I enjoyed this record and the clear step towards focused, concise songwriting Visions of Atlantis has taken.

So rather than the horror show of cringe-inducing Jolly Roger bollocks, “Pirates” is a satisfying, meticulously constructed hour of high-quality Symphonic Metal that has the hooks and finesse to see Visions of Atlantis establish themselves as major players in the genre. Never doubted it for a second. Ahem…

‘Melancholy Angel’ Official Video

01. Pirates Will Return
02. Melancholy Angel
03. Master The Hurricane 
04. Clocks
05. Freedom
06. Legion of the Seas
07. Wild Elysium
08. Darkness Inside
09. In My World
10. Mercy
11. Heal the Scars
12. I Will Be Gone

Clémentine Delauney – Vocals
Michele Guaitoli – Vocals
Dushi Duscha – Guitars
Herbert Glos – Bass       
Thomas Caser – 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.

Carmeria – Advenae

Advenae Album Cover Art

Carmeria – Advenae
Release Date: 18/03/22
Running Time:
Review by Beth Jones

Well, it’s finally happened friends. I have been afflicted with the plague, after avoiding it for two solid years. But, it has afforded me the time to catch up with some stuff and get cracking on reviews. And today’s subject is the brand-new debut album from Australian Symphonic Gothic Metallers, Carmeria. Now, this is an album that’s been a while in the making and you can tell, because it is a quality product. It’s one for all of you who like a good film score, because it’s jam-packed full of cinematic elements and orchestration.

The album starts with a massive, ‘call to arms’ style overture, complete with timpani, strings, and pipe organ, giving it a very Gothic feel from the start. And the fast pace and frantic nature of the sound continues through the second track, ‘Morning Star’, which is littered with synth strings, guttural growls, and some superb operatic clean vocals from Jordan Von Grae.

This style continues for much of the album, which is littered with catchy choruses and hooks all over the place. The whole thing is also based in the minor key, which gives it a very mournful, melancholic feel. Perfect for a Gothic gathering!

Track 5, ‘Relinquished’, takes the pace down a little. It’s a beautiful ballad that starts with a solitary piano. And this track really displays the silky tones of Jordan’s voice off superbly. After the first verse, vocals, piano, and gentle bass and drums are joined by the full orchestrations, and distorted guitars, making it a much grander and fuller sound. This for me is one of my stand out tracks. 

The brief lull in proceedings doesn’t last long, as ‘To Lead The Blind’ picks up the pace again. This uses dynamics brilliantly to build mystery and suspense. And there are some super vocal harmonies throughout. There’s a certain Progressive element here too, with some experimentation in rhythm, which again continues through to the next track. 

Pretty much the only beef I can find with this album is the synth strings in track 8, ‘Solaris’. They almost cheapen the whole thing, because they sound too synthesized. I mean, I know that’s kind of the point of a synth, but I think a slightly better string sound would have been advisable.

The final track, ‘Eternity’ isn’t just epic in name. At nearly 12 minutes long it’s a heck of a way to finish an album. With punchy choral vocals and synth, and heavy guitar, sitting alongside those beautiful clean vocals and guttural roars, it makes for a very dramatic closing number. 

This is a very accomplished debut from a band that have a very clear direction. I think these guys are seriously ones to watch. I love the album cover art, and the band have a definite ‘look’, too, which is pleasing, as it show’s they’ve thought about more than just the sound. And I get a sneaking suspicion there’s still more in the tank with them – this album is great, but I believe they will get even better. I look forward to finding that out in the future. 

01. Advenae
02. Morning star
03. Carpe Noctem
04. En Rapture
05. Relinquished
06. To Lead the Blind
07. Celestia
08. Solaris
09. Starfall
10. Veil of Sanctitude
11. Halo
12. Eternity

Jordan Von Grae – Vocals
Jerry Zahija – Guitar
Mishka Bobrov – Keys
Emma Louise Nagy – Bass
Lachlan Blackwood – Drums


Carmeria 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.