Alrighty; one look at the CD cover, a glance at the song titles, and you pretty much KNOW what you`re gonna get from this Swedish 5-piece! "Book Of The Dead" is the sophmore outing for Bloodbound, and while these guys are travelling on well-trodden ground, damned if they don`t make it an enjoyable experience. Originality takes a back-seat to creativity on the 11-track affair, though the band does manage to inject their own personality in each cut, and have fun while they do it! Sonically, Bloodbound lean more towards the darker side of the Power Metal spectrum, and the first song, "Sign Of The Devil" basically sets the tone for the album; dark, powerful, and anthemic all at once. Next up is "The Tempter" and the title track, both of which are sure to be crowd pleasers in a live setting. "Bless The Unholy" and "Lord Of Battle" are among the highlights for me, as is the well-done ballad "Black Heart". As stated earlier, Bloodbound borrows liberally from Metals` past and present icons, but manages to avoid decending into cliche. It doesn`t hurt that all five members are top-notch players and songwriters; vocalist Michael Bormann particularly makes an impression, as his vocals are melodic yet more in the lower register and at times gruff, a refreshing change from the usual air-raid siren delivery in the genre! The album veers off into more upbeat territory on "Turn To Stone", and features a VERY catchy chorus and fist-pumping riffs that would make the most ardent Hammerfall disciple proud. The disc closes with the powerhouse, Maiden-esque "Seven Angels"; it`s the longest track on the album, but is certainly not boring by any means! All told, "Book Of The Dead" is a winner through and through, and a standout among the many fine Metal releases of 2007! "Say your prayers....!"
British AOR Rockers Dante Fox have ended the 6 year lull since their last album with the release of "Under The Seven Skies", and for fans of the band it`s certainly been worth the wait! For those new to Dante Fox, they deal stylistically in the sort of melodic Hard Rock that, in better musical climes, used to race up the charts. before all those rap-core monrel hordes infiltrated. Polished arangements, big, catchy choruses are the order of the day here, and this CD has all that in spades! Vocalist Sue Willetts has a rich, passionate voice that permeates each and every track, delivering the lyrics in a heartfelt manner without sounding overly dramatic. The ten cuts here are a collaboration between Willetts and guitarist Tim Manford and, as stated before, big guitar riffs and memorable, hook-filled choruses abound; from the lead in track "The Last Goodbye" and "Breaking Me Down" to the emotional "Love Tried To Find You" and one of my favorites "Lucky Ones [Born Tonight In The Setting Sun]". Really, there`s not a duff track in the whole bunch, a testament to the bands` songwriting capabilities and sense of quality. The winner for me, though is the closing song, "Under The Seven Skies", a 9-minute melodic Rock masterpiece featuring top-class arrangements that at certain points remind me of "Wings Of Heaven"-era Magnum; the song almost ventures off into Prog territory, and is easily the highpoint of the album. Left in less capable hands, it could have turned into a musical mess, but the 5 talented musicians in Dante Fox are obviously MORE than up to the task! All told, this CD is a fine slice of AOR Rock, and Dante Fox are the kind of band we need more of. Style, class, killer hooks; what MORE could you want?
Florida Power Metalists Kamelot have, for the most part, been a model of consistancy as far as album-to-album quality is concerned, and "Ghost Opera" carries on that tradition. A change from the last couple of albums is shorter songs and a heavier sound, great news on both counts! A somewhat darker tone is presented here, along with more mid-paced tracks than on previous efforts, but all undoubtedly bear the Kamelot "stamp". Kicking things off with a moody intro "Solitaire", which puts the listener in the perfect mindframe for the next cut, "Rule The World", featuring one of the heaviest riffs the band has ever come up with. Next up is the title track, a fast-paced and highly orchestrated piece with a, well, ghostly chorus! Other standouts on the album include "Blücher", the brilliant ballad "Love You To Death", "Up Through The Ashes", the haunting "Mourning Star" and another wonderful ballad, "Anthem". I was fortunate enough to get the limited edition featuring the bonus track "The Pendulous Fall" and also a bonus DVD featuring the video of "Ghost Opera" as well as a making of feature. Kamelot have established their reputation by not putting out sub-standard material, and with the release of "Ghost Opera", that reputation will only be enhanced further. Honestly, this is the kind of stuff Queensryche might be churning out if they hadn`t sabatoged their career by turning into a bunch of snotty, pretentious bastards! This one gets the WSD mark of approval, which means now you HAVE to buy it!!
Royal Hunt are doubtless one of Denmark`s most popular Hard Rock bands, having released nearly a dozen albums over 15 years. On November 2, 2005, the band [keyboardist André Andersen, vocalist John West, guitarist Marcus Jidell, drummer Kenneth Olsen, bassist Per Schelander and backing vocalist Maria McTurk] took to the stage of St. Petersburg's [Russia] Music Hall to film a live DVD before crowd of ardent fans. Seven cameras captured the band performing over 2 hours of their most popular material, delivered with all the power and passion that Royal Hunt is reknowned for. A couple of minor points; the actual post-production of the DVD was something of a low-budget affair; this unfortunately resulted in a couple of technical glitches which are particularly noticable in the vocals. At times the synchronisation is a second off, which has lead some early reviewers to the erroneous assumption that John West was either lip-syncing to pre-recorded tracks, which is definitely NOT the case! I`ve seen the guy live and I assure you; he ain`t lip-syncing to nothin`! This also happened to the bands backing vocals and the individual instruments, as well. The problem isn`t constant through out the DVD, but it IS enough to be a bit of a distraction. However, once you get past this, you are in for a hell of a ride! John West`s performance here is flawless; the since-departed vocalist amply displays the abilities that have earned him his reputation world-wide. And his voice here blends perfectly with that of longtime backing vocalist Maria McTurk. Now, usually musicians of Royal Hunt`s calibre tend to be a bit of a bore, with their cast-down gaze and ohhhhh so serious demeanor; not the case with Anderson, Jidell, Olsen and Schelendar. These guys are having a ball, and are grinning from ear-to-ear! And the interaction between the crowd and the band is something to behold, also. There`s also some nice bonus material featuring backstage footage, interviews, etc. Despite of the technical problem with the disc [hopefully, later editions will be corrected] this DVD perfectly captures a legendary band at their peak one one magical night, and it`s yours to enjoy again and again and again!
Remember the Marvel comic book character Namor, the Sub Mariner? Whilst going into battle, he was always shouting "Imperious Rex!". Maybe ol` Subby was referring to this band, as the kind of music they make could get anyone`s blood pumpin` , human or otherwise! "Speed Metal Kings" is the second demo release from this Los Angeles Metal machine. Imperious Rex deal in mid-´80s style Metal riffage in the tradition of Judas Priest, early Annihilator and a generous helping of Teutonic Metal masters of that period like Destruction, Angel Dust, Exhumer, etc. And all this wonderful noise is delivered by just three guys! [actually, two guys and a drum machine on the demo; however, guitarist Hank and bassist/vocalist Nick have now secured the services of drummer Rene] The band wears their influences on their sleeve and don`t give a rat`s ass WHAT anyone thinks. "Until The End" has echos of "Alice In Hell"-era Annihilator, which is not a bad thing, believe me. Other powerhouse tracks like "Book of Vengeance" and "Full Bore" are guarenteed to bring a smile to even the most jaded Metal monger; just TRY to stop yerself from headbangin` to these tracks, I double-dog-DARE ya! In spite of the less-than-stellar production, the bands` songwriting ability and superior musicianship shine through loud and clear. And now with an actual human drummer, a new recording in the works and a European tour later in `07, the skies the limit for these guys. So please go to their website and pick up the demo, spread the word and support this band, and others like them; hard word DEFINITELY deserves to be rewarded! Highly recommended! [Thanks for supplying me with the review copy, guys!!!!!!]