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METALMUSICARCHIVES.COM (MMA) intends to be a complete and powerful Metal music resource. You can find Metal artists discographies from 31983 bands & artists, 136842 releases, ratings and reviews from members who also participate in our forum.

metal music reviews (new releases)

TWILIGHT FORCE Dawn of the Dragonstar

Album · 2019 · Power Metal
Cover art 4.17 | 2 ratings
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Kev Rowland
I must be honest, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to playing the latest album from Twilight Force, having not been a fan of their previous two efforts, and when it commenced with a spoken intro which reminded me for some reason of ‘He-Man and the Masters of the Universe’ I inwardly groaned. But what was this? Soaring orchestration over the top of a metal band in full flow with drumming powering it along? Who found the controls in the production suite and turned up the bottom end? Hang on, that’s a new singer as well, and although he can hit the high notes he also sings lower with plenty of passion and emotion. A quick look at the press release and I see that the new singer is Allyon, but given everyone in this band likes to use pseudonyms I did some more checking and realised this is none other than Allessandro Conti who has been working with Fabio Lione in their own band, and was also in Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody for 7 years prior to joining Twilight Force. He is a bona fide rock star in the world of power metal, and all of a sudden this band has come to life.

All the strengths have been kept from the previous two albums, but the weaknesses and concerns have been dissipated and here is a band which is playing as if their lives depended on it. This is such a step up from the previous two albums that it is almost like a brand new band, but the only new person in the band is Conti – everyone else was on the last album, while just rhythm guitarist Aerendir didn’t feature on the debut as he joined afterwards. But the dynamics have changed, the production and arrangements have greatly improved and here is a band on a roll. I may not have enjoyed the first two, but this one has been on my player a great deal, as even the twee moments which annoyed me on the first two here make me smile as the context is so much better. Definitely worth investigating.

BONDED Rest In Violence

Album · 2020 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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Nightfly
After spending years in Sodom guitarist Bernemann and drummer Markus Freiwald found their services were no longer required by mainman Tom Angelripper. So what are you going to do? Form a band to kick Sodom’s ass of course. Bonded certainly give it a good go and with Rest In Violence they have released an album that to my ears betters recent Sodom releases and even reaches the heights of their best stuff at times.

To say they have bettered recent Sodom releases is high praise indeed as Sodom continues to release excellent thrash metal to this day. Bernemann, Friewald and their new mates, vocalist Ingo Bajonczak, bassist Marc Hauschild and second guitarist Chris Tsitsis have stuck with playing thrash but while there’s plenty of material here that’s belts along at breakneck pace there also slower more groove orientated stuff. The album is stuffed with great songs with strong hooks and an impressive collection of memorable riffs and perfectly demonstrated on the first 3 songs – all killer, the title track featuring none other than Overkill vocalist Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth who puts in an expected fine performance. Though having a much lower register Bajonczak is no slouch himself with his powerful and gritty delivery. Je Suis Charlie slows things down somewhat but with its infectious riffing and melody is another winner. In fact these guys barely put a foot wrong. The plodding No Cure For Life doesn’t match the heights of previous tracks but its slow groove still hits the mark down to its strong riff. It’s the more up tempo stuff though where this band really slays and thankfully it’s not in short supply. These guys play well, great guitar work including the solos and a kick ass rhythm section and the sound is tight aided by a crystal clear but powerful production which nails you to the wall.

I’m loving this album, the first 2020 release I’ve bought. There’s a great future for Bonded if they can keep the quality quotient up as shown on Rest In Violence. They have set the benchmark for thrash metal bands this year to beat.

NILE Vile Nilotic Rites

Album · 2019 · Technical Death Metal
Cover art 4.46 | 5 ratings
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Kev Rowland
In the years between the release of 2015’s ‘What Should Not Be Unearthed’ and 2019’s ‘Vile Nilotic Rites’ there has been some changes in the Nile camp, with the departure of Dallas Toler-Wade after some 20 years of being in the band. The band are again back as a quartet, with Sanders and Kollias being joined by Brad Parris (bass, vocals) and Brian Kingsland (guitars, vocals), but most importantly is what has happened to the music. Nile have looked back towards their roots in many ways, yet are also pushing forward with an album which is many ways is one of the most varied they have ever released. There is a brightness within it, a light which is shining, which allows them to move away from the lower register without ever losing any of the heaviness.

There are times when both guitars and bass are tracking note for note at incredible speed, with the bass being played so high up on the neck that it sounds almost like another guitar which allows space to be filled by the drumming of Kollias who has apparently got a second wind as this release probably contains his best performance yet. Apparently the band changed the way they undertook pre-production this time so when George was tracking his drums he had a much better idea of the finished sound. We even have orchestral passages which allow the band to have improved contrast so they can really come back firing. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a Nile album I haven’t really enjoyed, but this is taking things to a whole new level. The use of brass during “Seven Horns of War” is simply inspired, yet when the band really kick in the song becomes something down, dirty, disgusting and most definitely Nile.

It is still technical death metal, but in many ways they are pushing the boundaries and taking the genre into new directions. Lyrically Sanders is still pushing the boat with references to Egyptian, Mesopotamian, and Levantine history, and who else would have a song about zombie ants? Sanders and Kollias are firmly at the helm, and with the new guys firmly on board and bedded in on the live circuit, they have created what may just be the best album of their career. It is certainly their most diverse, without losing any of the power and brutality for which they are renowned. Simply essential.

GALLOWS POLE This Is Rock

Album · 2019 · Hard Rock
Cover art 3.33 | 2 ratings
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jack daniels
Gallows Pole are back with the brand new album, their 9th, “This Is Rock”, will be release on August 30th 2019 via Pure Steel/Pure Rock Records.

Formed back in 1977 in Vienna, by mastermind Alois Martin Binder (vocals/guitars/bass), Gallows Pole is a band that has managed to distinguish itself by the classic melodic heavy metal for a different musicality and oriented towards a more melodic timbre.

“This Is Rock” has a delicate sound at least, a rock with sophisticated lines and definitely melodic, the distinguishing band sound a line that contradicts the whole album, starting from the opener “Summerdays” in which we find Alois duet with Dina Höblinger, making this track pleasant since its intro, perhaps the only song less rock than the entire album but with an emotional charge.

A fresh sound for the following More or less similar to the second track “Heaven Knows” but with a sound more marked in rock mood that thanks to Harald Prikasky and Harry El Fischer’ guitars manages to make a greater grip, good refrain and the voice of Dina Höblinger manages to find a greater identity.

More captivating “Midnight Gambler” and with a sound more rooted to a classic rock also always very melodic with the ‘excellent drums of Andy Wagner and Alois bass line. Midnight Gambler”, oriented towards a sound halfway between Seventies and Eighties, is definitely an enthralling piece. If with “Midnight Gambler” the band has made a good piece, with “Point Of No Return” manages to overcome it, offering a more robust sound with sounds that always manage to be elegant, typical Gallows Pole mark.

Excellent also “You Got Me” that musically vaguely recalls the style of Whitesnake but with a very personal style. “Daylight” with its Seventies sound is another great song in which guitars stand out par excellence, while in “When I Sleep” the atmosphere becomes warmer and lighter, in “Move On Out” back that musicality definitely more rock than I prefer and that manages to give a greater idea of the sound of Gallows Pole. “When You Love” closes the album in a soft and elegant way.

“This’s Rock” is an album for lovers of melodic rock in which they will find great tracks and in which stands out the typical rock voice of Aloise, a really classic good album .

NOCTURNUS AD Paradox

Album · 2019 · Technical Death Metal
Cover art 3.97 | 4 ratings
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Warthur
Once upon a time there was Nocturnus, who put out a couple of really solid technical death metal albums in the form of The Key and Thresholds before original founder Mike Browning and the rest of the group. Then there was After Death, Mike's next group, which took its name from a song from The Key and allowed Mike to keep his hand in the game.

Now there's Nocturnus AD, After Death having evolved into the full-fledged Nocturnus successor group they'd always had the potential to be. With Nocturnus themselves having been broken up for over a decade, it seems reasonable enough to assume that if Browning's former comrades there had intended to do anything with the name, they'd have done it by now. As it is, the field is clear for Browning to reconfigure After Death to deliver his own vision for where Nocturnus might have gone under his own direction.

If the band name weren't enough of the clue, the cover art should give away what the angle is here: yes, this might not be called "The Key Part 2: Death Metal Boogaloo", but thematically and stylistically speaking it's pretty much following on the footsteps of the Nocturnus debut album. (Yes, the time-travelling killer robot is back, and this time it's hanging out with Cthulhu.)

It's another technical death metal tour de force from Browning, who once again acts as both drummer and lead vocalist. If his drumming is a little prominent in the mix, that's all to the good, because his drums sound absolutely superb without taking anything away from the rest of the band. Despite having added blast beats to his bag of tricks, he's largely working in a style close to that of The Key, and if you really enjoyed that album and want more of the same I'd say that this hits that mark closer than any of the subsequent Nocturnus or After Death releases ever did.

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metal music reviews (older releases)

TWILIGHT FORCE Heroes of Mighty Magic

Album · 2016 · Power Metal
Cover art 3.25 | 4 ratings
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Kev Rowland
2016 saw Twilight Force return with their second album. Since the debut they had changed drummers and also added an additional guitarist so were now running with a traditional twin attack. The drumming has definitely improved but the production hasn’t, neither has the one-dimensional feel of the band, and although they have been using more orchestration it still feels like they are treading water and need a good shaking to move to the next level. All the influences from the debut album are still here, while Eriksson still hits the notes with ease but there is little breadth and depth to the vocals. As for the guitars, they often appear to be hiding in the same room as the bass, and couldn’t bother to turn up for the sessions. Signed to Nuclear Blast, who generally have a great roster with strong producers I was somewhat surprised to hear another album so similar to the debut as while it contains with same strengths as before, it also has plenty of the same weaknesses.

It is strange to think there are two years between albums and with two new members of personnel as all this material could have easily sat on the debut as well. I am sure that anyone who loves the debut will think this is just as indispensable. As for me, next!

TWILIGHT FORCE Tales of Ancient Prophecies

Album · 2014 · Power Metal
Cover art 3.25 | 4 ratings
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Kev Rowland
This 2014 album was the debut from Swedish power metal outfit Twilight Force, and there is no doubt at all from looking around the web that this is one which many people rate very highly indeed. I can understand that in many ways, in that they are taking some of the best bits of classic Stratovarius, have plenty of shredding, and in Christian Eriksson (here going by the name Chrileon) they have someone who can hit very high notes indeed. The problem for me is that it is incredibly one-dimensional and is combined with very flat production which has no depth and the bottom end just hasn’t been catered for whatsoever. I know they are described as power metal outfit, but this is way more hard rock than metal, although there is no doubt whatsoever that Philip Lindh (here going by the name Lynd) is a heck of a guitarist.

The first time I played this I was decorating the garage, which meant I had plenty of boring painting to undertake and wanted an album which I could really enjoy and get a lot from, but I soon found the white walls were more interesting which is not what I expected at all. There are some spoken bits and pieces, and choirs are utilised at times, but to me it felt as if Helloween had been crossed with Angria and Malmsteen but with all the depth and soul ripped out of it. They are great musicians, with some interesting material at times, but while it isn’t an album I would dismiss totally out of hand I can’t see it being one to which I will return even though apparently it is the best thing since sliced bread.

HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE The Bastard: A Tale Told in Three Acts

Album · 2001 · Progressive Metal
Cover art 4.35 | 5 ratings
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siLLy puPPy
The progressive metal band HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE actually got its start way back in mid-90s San Francisco under the name Unholy Cadaver which consisted of only guitarist John Corbett and drummer Chewy Marzolo who also shared vocals. The project then took on new life as new musicians joined the ranks. The first was Mike Scalzi better known as the vocalist / guitarist of another legendary San Francisco band, The Lord Weird Slough Feg. The trio practiced and recorded a lot of demo material, none of which would end up on the future projects of HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE, a name that was adopted in the year 2000 from one of the track titles. While the demo material would be scrapped and later released in 2011 as an archival release under the moniker Unholy Cadaver, as HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE, the trio welcomed bassist and vocalist Janis Tanaka to the club and set out to record a new more interesting progressive form of metal.

The band’s first album THE BASTARD (often with a the subtitle “A Tale Told In Three Acts”) was quite the undertaking and an adventurous journey in the form of a metal opera that takes place in three acts much like a Shakespearean play or some other epic tale that requires an expansive narrative to convey, however THE BASTARD was not released as some ridiculous sprawling three disc set or anything of the sort. The band had the good sense to keep this an album’s length and at a normal playing time of 46 minutes, it hits all the high notes without a lot of fluff which makes this a pretty decent start for this eclectic band that would change its sound dramatically on each album throughout its career. It’s worth noting that despite the excellent production that graces THE BASTARD, this entire album was simply recorded in a rehearsal studio on an 8-track analog machine in San Francisco from July 1999 to February 2000. The album itself didn’t emerge until 2001 but got rave reviews from the metal world and put HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE on the metal radar right from the start.

While considered a progressive metal album, this isn’t the kind of stuff Dream Theater or Symphony X were cranking out. THE BASTARD was an unholy union of traditional 80s heavy metal along with what sounds like medieval English folk music however the band does manage to tease in more progressive elements and extended proggy fills. Upon first listen i was wondering why the singer sounded so familiar as did some of the guitar riffs and then it became clear that it was because of the Scalzi connection as the Slough Feg sound is strewn throughout the album’s run. Basically what THE BASTARD excels in as the narrative unfolds is basically alternate between beefy metal guitar riffs, beefy bass chops and stellar drumming narrative with the male vocals and then follows with the contrast of more light and airy folk sounds with the female vocal charm of Janis Tanaka who also plays some pretty tight bass. The connecting tissue that binds the two disparate styles is where the progressive runs tend to gravitate along with an occasional solo. At times the metal drifts into power metal territory and also an occasional black metal moment.

The album consists of three acts and fourteen tracks but for the most part the tracks run together and it’s impossible to distinguish them from each other as the melodies simply carry over and the song sort of drifts into a new one as the storyline proceeds. Exceptions occur when abrupt changes such as the bombastic metal heft of “Tyrant Dies” completely ends and the gleeful mandolin folk cheer of “The Witch’s Dance” follows. The continuity is really quite well laid out as the tracks capture all the essence of a rock your socks off heavy metal album but also cools off with exquisitely sublime moments of medieval folk music as if you left the metal concert and walked into the Renaissance fair. The brevity of the tracks is the album’s greatest strength as THE BASTARD never lags in overblown pompous cycles that many rock opera’s suffer from. Only the grande finale “Sacrifice The End” has a lengthy playing time near nine minutes and as a result is the most progressive with many differing movements, tones, timbres and elements of surprise.

Everything about this album works quite well actually. The musicianship is outstanding. The cleverly crafted compositions are all interesting by both keeping a unified feel of the entire album yet adding different elements to give each track its own personality. The contrasting vocal styles of Tanaka and Scalzi are perfectly matched and the progressive elements are tastefully woven into the big picture instead of simply adding proggy workouts for their own sake. Best of all this is metal that you can bang your head to. The metal is the real deal but the down time is quite welcome and beautifully performed. The band mastered both the metal and folk aspects perfectly and yet somehow found a perfect way to meld it altogether and craft a concept album that runs as tightly as some classical score from the distant past. Add to that the fiery passion of all the performers and this one is a true winner and perhaps my favorite HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE album of all as this one has most energetic deliveries. This was a surprise coming to this after the more famous albums that follow but i love this one a lot better. There are no weaknesses on this at all.

WITCHFINDER GENERAL Death Penalty

Album · 1982 · Traditional Doom Metal
Cover art 3.96 | 10 ratings
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siLLy puPPy
Before metal was even a decade old the heavier sibling of rock was already shifting gears away from the dark dreary doom metal of Black Sabbath and amping up the sounds of the more operatic and melodic constructs of Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple into what would be called the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM). Despite the trend which found bands like Iron Maiden, Angel Witch, Saxon and Def Leppard bringing metal to ever larger audiences, a few bands refused to join the new game in town and looked back to metal’s earliest origins that took the more occult route laced with the slower doom metal riffs.

WITCHFINDER GENERAL was among only a handful of bands which included Sorcery, Pentagram and Death SS which continued the occult themes along with the slower doom metal riffs that would basically launch the subgenre of metal into its own in the 80s alongside the NWOBHM. This band got its start in Stourbridge, England alongside other NWOBHM but stood apart with its horror themes which matched its moniker which came from the 1968 British film of the same name. The band was founded in 1979 by Zeeb Parkes and Phil Cope and although considered a part of the NWOBHM, owed more to early Black Sabbath for its heavy doom riffing and Ozzy Osbourne styled vocal phrasings however the band did implement some of the faster riffing practices of the early 80s.

DEATH PENALTY was the band’s debut and immediately caught attention for the racy cover art which featured a topless model in a yard of a church which sparked outrage and criticism. Along with Parkes (vocals) and Cope (guitar, bass), the band was only a trio with Graham Ditchfield sitting in as drummer. DEATH PENALTY was in effect one of the earliest album’s that took on the full-fledged Sabbath worship since although Pentagram had formed as early as 1973 didn’t release a full-length album until 1985 making WITCHFINDER GENERAL one of the most influential of the second wave of doom metal as the guitar riffs evoked Iommi inspired Sabbathry with nods to classic tracks like “Paranoid” and others.

Perhaps what makes DEATH PENALTY stand apart from other early traditional doom metal albums is that it did mix in a bit of Judas Priest styled riffing as heard in “No Stayer” which sounded like a veritable hybrid of early Priest mixed with Sabbath. There are also much more traditional hard rock blues and overall the album feels like it was created around the 1975 timeline rather than the year 1982 when it was released. DEATH PENALTY is a strong album of doomy NWOBHM inspired retro songs that finds the perfect balance between raw occult fueled sounds and the more operatic rampaging speed metal that was coming of age. While not as evil sounding as early Venom or Celtic Frost, WITCHFINDER GENERAL revived a style of doom metal that some would call witch metal that would be influential for bands like St Vitus of the same decade as well as later bands like Blood Ceremony. All in all a really compelling early slice of doom metal with some NWOBHM influences on board.

NILE What Should Not be Unearthed

Album · 2015 · Technical Death Metal
Cover art 4.38 | 13 ratings
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Kev Rowland
This 2015 album was the fourth in eight years with the same line-up of Karl Sanders (guitars, bass, vocals) , Dallas Toler-Wade (guitars, bass, v) and George Kollias (drums). Unlike many metal bands, drummer Kollias is a key songwriter, contributing the music to most of the tracks on the album. At this point it was 20 years since their debut EP, and although only Sanders was still there from those early days, the band had really matured and were (and are) at the pinnacle of technical death metal. Is there another band within the genre who are so instantly recognisable and who consistently deliver albums of such high calibre?

Some people try to make the argument that if you’ve got a Nile album in your collection then you really don’t need any more, but could you just have one album by Sabbath, or just one by Mk II Deep Purple? In each case they have a style they have made very much their own, yet each album is very different in its own right yet conforming to a certain style. I have always loved the technical virtuosity combined with brutal heaviness which is typical of Nile, combined with vocals which sound as if they are being dragged out from a demonic plane. 20 years in the game and the band are only getting heavier and more powerful with age – this is not a sign of a band going gently into the good night, but is going to be kicking and screaming and devil take the hindmost. Brutal and fast with incredible note density combined with dynamics and different shades of dark to provide contrast, this is yet another incredibly strong example of the very best in the genre.

GALLOWS POLE And Time Stood Still

Album · 2013 · Hard Rock
Cover art 2.50 | 2 ratings
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jack daniels
Gallow's Pole might not realize how appropriate or possibly ironic the title of their seventh album is, And Time Stood Still. These lords of heavy rock and riffs stray little from their Seventies proto-metal roots or the character of most recent efforts. Gallow's Pole And Time Stood Still Band Photo Gallow's Pole: collage. As usual, most everything on this recording revolves around the vocals of Alois Martin Binder, along with mountains of riffage from his and Harald Pikasky's guitars. It a wall of sound really, and ubiquitously the same from the title cut, Summer Rain, Older, Here and There, I Don't Wanna Go, and Holy Nights. On a song like that last one, heaviness palatable and the pace chugging, nearing stoner or doom rock. Yet this is the character of Gallow's Pole's music, the path they continue to tread. Thankfully, most songs are enlivened by some terrific solos that swing between eerie to psychedelic. The exceptions to the rule of heaviness come with Rock This Town, which actually 'rocks' with a toe-tapping groove, and the piano driven ballad Take Me to Heaven. A song that struggles to get out of heady heaviness is Summer Rain, mostly because back up female singer Elsko's vocals add some tenderness to the song. Fundamentally, then, with And Time Stood Still, Gallow's Pole keep the heavy rock mothership on course.

NOVEMBERS DOOM The Knowing

Album · 2000 · Death-Doom Metal
Cover art 4.41 | 7 ratings
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Warthur
Novembers Doom's debut album established them as working very much in the death-doom mode that the early work of the Peaceville Three (My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, and Anathema), but with The Knowing they truly produce an album which can stand in the top tier of the subgenre.

In particular, it's steeped in this melancholic, romantic take on the death-doom sound which reminds me of some of the strongest moments of early My Dying Bride - the sort of death-doom metal that's not afraid to show the influence of the more serious sort of gothic metal here and there. It's rather grand.

BLUE ÖYSTER CULT Some Enchanted Evening

Live album · 1978 · Hard Rock
Cover art 4.11 | 13 ratings
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Warthur
Released at a time when BOC were increasingly blending pop hooks into their occult proto-metal quagmire on their studio albums (with Agents of Fortune being an iconic example of this approach and Spectres perhaps being their most pop-inclined, mellow, and least heavy album since their debut), Some Enchanted Evening proved that there was still fire in the belly of the Cult, with the band offering a hard and heavy runthrough of the material in question.

This is a rare example of an album where the bonus tracks on rereleases are just as good - in this case, you want to go for the edition which includes the extra seven tracks (in effect a whole extra live album) from around the same era. There's also a bonus DVD - Some OTHER Enchanted Evening - offering a video of a live show from the same era, though the audio on this one is notably a big step down from the main album.

DESTRUCTION Under Attack

Album · 2016 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 2.64 | 3 ratings
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Kev Rowland
This 2016 album saw Destruction back with the same line-up as the previous few albums, with Schmier (vocals, bass) and Mike Sifringer (guitars), both of whom had been there since the beginning in the early Eighties and drummer Wawrzyniec "Vaaver" Dramowicz. Yet again we have Kreator-style Teutonic thrash but for me there is something missing from this album. It seems way more one-dimensional than their previous release, ‘Spiritual Genocide’, and in many ways it feels almost as if they are standing still and waiting for the next piece of inspiration. The sound feels really light with not much in the bottom end, and I soon found it was washing right over me. These guys have been at the forefront of German thrash metal for many years, and I don’t think it’s possible for them to release a really poor album, but there again there is little in here which makes me want to keep playing it over and again. The ideas are the same, the sound is weak, and there is the impression they are playing at it as opposed to really meaning it.

It is hard for bands to keep producing album after album for more than 30 years and this shows. While never awful, it just doesn’t get to the level one expects from a band of this experience and it certainly isn’t one I would point to as a great example of either Destruction or the genre.

MAGNUM Princess Alice And The Broken Arrow

Album · 2007 · Hard Rock
Cover art 3.96 | 4 ratings
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Warthur
This was the third Magnum album after their reunion, and it's another high-quality slab of material from the band - certainly suggesting they still had some fresh ideas to offer. It's not a revolutionary release - still largely in that strange middle ground between neo-prog, the poppier flavours of NWOBHM and melodic rock rock that their classic albums occupy, this time around with substantially less in the way of NWOBHM and more of those other two ingredients. It's a bit more introspective than, say On a Storyteller's Night, as the wistful album opener When We Were Younger strongly emphasises, but it's a delightful development of Magnum's music into a mature style.

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