WHOA, DADDY! First up, lemme tell ya; if I had heard this monster CD a few months earlier, I just MIGHT have declared it "Best Metal Album Of 2006"! "Onwards" is the debut release from Triosphere, and this Norwegian Metal machine has made one HELL of an opening statement! Amazingly, all the spectacular fire-power blazing forth from the disc is supplied by just three people; guitarist Marcus Silver, vocalist/bassist Ida Haukland and drummer Ørjan Jørgensen. [the line-up has since been augmented by second guitarist Tor Ole Byberg] Stylistically, Triosphere combine traditional Heavy Metal with the recent Euro Power Metal, as well as a bit of Progressive just to keep things fresh. All delivered with aggression, passion, heart and soul. Crunching guitars, cannon-volley drums and Haukland’s straight-from-the-gut vocal performance bring each and every track vividly to life. Their musicianship is top-class all the way, and Haukland’s voice is most impressive; no whiney Goth Girl or Death Metal Diva, her vocals have been compared to the likes of Ronnie James Dio! How`s THAT for praise? Now, I really hope you don`t expect a track-by-track commentary, `cause there`s NO WAY that I can pick the "choice cuts"! Though if you twist my arm, I could point to "Spitfire", "The Silver Lining", "Gunnin' For Glory", "Sunriser", "Twilight" and "Onwards Part III (A Sole Twin's Search In Solitude)", but then I`ve just listed most the album! So the whole damn is GREAT! [The Japanese version, which I have, features a couple of bonus tracks, including a cool cover of WASPs` "Mean Man"] Now BUY IT!! Triosphere is destined to be up there among the Euro Metal giants, and you can QUOTE me on that! Highly, highly, HIGHLY recommended!!
Finnish Metal Marauders Burning Point have returned after a nearly 3 year hiatus, with a new line-up and of course a new album, "Burned Down The Enemy" [continuing the "fire" theme of the bands` previous albums, "Salvation By Fire" and "Feeding The Flames"], and it`s by far their best yet! While the band has retained much of the musical elements of the past, Burning Point have toned down the Power Metal stylings in favor of a classic [for want of a better term], melodic Heavy Rock sound, though there`s still plenty of Maiden-esque galloping riffage and double-bass drumming to satisfy yer high energy Metallic lust! In fact, "Burned Down The Enemy" covers a wide range of Hard Rock/Metal, with "Feeding The Flames"-styled tracks like "Parasite” and “Hell Awaits” blending in quite nicely with more catchier cuts like "Heart Of Gold", which ALMOST veers into AOR territory, while still retaining the trademark Burning Point sound. Thrown in a genuine Metal Epic like "Dawn Of The Ancient War", and you`ve got one fine slab of Metal! Another BP trademark on display here is the high-quality musicianship of Pete Ahonen [Vocals, Guitars, Bass], Jussi Ontero [Keyboards], Pekka Kolivuori [Guitars], Jari Kaiponen [Drums] and Jukka Jokikokko [Bass]; virtuosos who know when to hold back, and how to compliment the song. So do us all a favor; go out and pick up "Burned Down The Enemy" where ever fine Metal is sold. This way, we can be assured of more great music from Burning Point, and I get to see how Pete manages to come up with a "fire"-themed title for the NEXT album!;) A "must-have"!!!!
Russia`s very own Aria have unleashed Armageddon upon the world; well, that`s the title of their latest CD, anyway! It`s been a couple of years since their last studio effort, "Christening By Fire", and though I initially had high praise for that album, I`m afraid a re-assessment is in order. While I still give that disc top marks, my enthusiasm was tempered by the fact that former Aria vocalist Valeri Kipelov released an album called "River Of Time" [under the band name Kipelov] that basically blew away "Christening By Fire", sounding more like Aria than Aria themselves! But I`m happy to say that this is not the case with "Armageddon"; in fact, it`s probably their best album since "Chimera". All the best-loved qualities of the band are present, while the band obviously has their feet firmly planted in the present with their eyes on the future. The CD is a triumph, both in terms of production and songwriting. And the line-up seems comfortable with each other, and have evolved into a well-oiled machine. For proof, check out cuts like the opening track "Last Dawn", "Marked By Evil" [which, along with "Alien", is one of my favorites] the 9-minute epic "Blood Of Kings", and "Guard Of Empire", among others. As usual, all songs are in Russian, but those who don`t speak the language need not worry; the message comes through loud and clear, believe me! Aria are certainly not content to rest on their laurels, but are more determined than ever. Remember, this is a band that thrived for many years playing Western-style Heavy Metal under Soviet rule! Now THAT`S dedication! \m/ Horns up!!!! \m/
Undoubtedly one of the most ambitious Metal albums of recent years is "Vox In Excelso", the lastest from British Heavy Rock stalwarts Saracen. This is a concept album that delves into the themes explored in the novel "The Da Vinci Code" and non-fiction works such as "Holy Blood, Holy Grail". Since most of the public-at-large is at least partially familiar with the ideas expressed in these books, I won`t bother with the details. Needless to say, "Vox In Excelso" is certainly well thought out and painstakingly crafted, yet the storyline is easy to follow; you don`t have to have a Masters degree in History and Theology to enjoy the album. The story pulls you in and holds your attention for all 80 minutes, all the more remarkable considering the grandoise themes explored here. And better yet, though the songs are all linked, they can each be taken separately, a testament to the first-rate songwriting. But best of all, it ROCKS! The music has a late Seventies/early Eighties feel to it, both in terms of the production as well as the musicianship. Much care went into this, and the hard work certainly paid off! And it definitely puts most so-called "Progressive Metal" to shame. Perhaps this could be sold as a companion CD to the "The Da Vinci Code" novel? You can expand your mind while you bang your head! Just an idea...
Doom Metal is hard to do WELL. Sure, you can down-tune the guitars, write dirge-like songs that a snail could out-distance, but to actually write a good song in this style is rather tricky, and most bands of this particular genre miss the boat entirely. Fortunately, France's Inborn Suffering are not among them! While the band incorporate various bits from the likes of My Dying Bride, early Paradise Lost and Novembers Doom, they`ve managed to achieve what most of their peers seem unable to do; write memorable tunes. All the more surprising [especially for a debut], considering that many of the tracks on "Wordless Hope" are 6 minutes or more; "This is Who We Are" runs for 11 minutes, but holds the listeners` attention through out! Mastadon-sized guitars mixed with hypnotic, pounding rhythms and growls on cuts like the mammoth "Stygian Darkness", "Thorn of Deceit" [sounding at times like early Godflesh] and "The Agony Within". And the tunes all stand apart from one another, another impressive feat for a young band. While you can`t honestly say that "Wordless Hope" is groundbreaking or totally original, it IS a stellar release from one of the shining new hope on the Doom Metal scene, and in MY book, creativity wins out over originality every time! [Many thanks to Sound Riot Records for the review copy!]