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KOBRA AND THE LOTUS High Priestess

Album · 2014 · Power Metal
Cover art 4.50 | 4 ratings
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Unitron
Kobra and the Lotus-High Priestess

'High Priestess' is the follow up to Kobra and the Lotus's amazing self-titled album, and their overall third studio album.

'High Priestess' expands on everything that was set in place on the previous album, adding in thrash elements while maintaining the traditional/power style of the previous album. It begins with the fast and powerful 'Warhorse' which sets the mood of the album very well. The song 'I am, I am' is fully-blown thrash metal, which sounds very Helstar-like with the music combined with Kobra Paige's powerful vocals. My personal favorite song is 'Battle of Wrath', which can sound very menacing at times. 'Soldier' is another favorite, having great lyrics and melody and a great music video.

Unlike the previous album, there is much more of a balance between fast and angry tracks and more flowing tracks. Songs like 'Heartbeat', 'Hold On', and the finale 'Lost in the Shadows' have a softer and more flowing aspect to them.

Overall, all I can really say is that it's everything the previous album was and more. I recommend it to any fan of power metal or traditional metal, and definitely anyone who enjoyed the previous album.

Hope you found this review helpful.

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FALLUJAH The Flesh Prevails

Album · 2014 · Death Metal
Cover art 4.30 | 5 ratings
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adg211288
The Flesh Prevails (2014) is the second full-length album by US death metal act Fallujah. It's been three years since the release of their debut The Harvest Wombs (2011) but they did put out an EP called Nomadic (2013) in that time. They've changed line-up slightly since Nomadic though with the introduction of new guitarist Brian James, who replaces Rob Maramonte.

I have not yet managed to hear The Harvest Wombs but I have heard Nomadic and the three songs that EP contained were more than enough to make me very interested in where Fallujah may take those ideas in a full-length context. The music found on The Flesh Prevails on the surface is well played technical/progressive death metal with deep growling vocals. Catch the album at one of those moments and it may come across as nothing you haven't heard before many times over and you could almost be forgiven for putting it down as something that can be safely ignored.

Almost, as that would be an absolutely dire mistake.

Because that's really just the surface of The Flesh Prevails. Once scratched the more atmospheric details emerge, particularly ambient and post-rock influences, many of them pretty overt in their use. Calling The Flesh Prevails an atmospheric death metal album is in many ways more accurate than technical death metal or even progressive death metal. Whatever you want to call it though, it's abundantly clear that this isn't a normal death metal album of the tech/prog kind by any means. The ideas heard on Nomadic have been further honed and the end result is one of those albums that is instantly remarkable, fresh and a genuine pleasure to stick on for repeated spins.

As I said in my last Fallujah review for Nomadic, as far as extreme metal goes it's usually black metal acts that push the boundaries of their genre more. In recent years though the death metal acts seem to be catching up. We've had several symphonic death metal acts making names for themselves such as MaYaN, Fleshgod Apocalypse and of course Septicflesh and with an album like this one Fallujah look set to more than ever make atmospheric death metal a thing. As far as genre development goes The Flesh Prevails may just be the most important release I've heard this year.

It's certainly one of the best death metal releases as it is, with a near perfect flow across the nine tracks and the various ideas that go into Fallujah's sound. Nothing ever seems forced or unnatural. The atmospheric parts are equally powerful as the most aggressive passages of the music. Instrumental sections such as the ones that open and make up the bulk of final track Chemical Cave are especially a treat. There's no valid reason why The Flesh Prevails should not be counted among the upper echelons of 2014's metal albums.

98/100

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven: http://metaltube.freeforums.org/fallujah-the-flesh-prevails-t3801.html)

MORGOTH God Is Evil

Single · 2014 · Death Metal
Cover art 3.50 | 1 rating
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UMUR
"God is Evil" is a single release by German death metal act Morgoth. The single was released through Century Media Records in August 2014. "God is Evil" marks the studio recording comeback for the German death metal veterans and features the first new original material recorded by the band since "Feel Sorry for the Fanatic (1996)". Morgoth initially disbanded in 1998 but reunited in 2010, playing sporadic gigs, and in 2012 they released the "Cursed to Live" live album, which mainly focused on the early old school death metal part of their discography.

Therefore it´s not surprising that "God is Evil" does not continue where the industrial rock/metal tinged "Feel Sorry for the Fanatic (1996)" left off. Listening to the 2 tracks on the 7:48 minutes long single, it´s obvious that the band have gone for a sound that´s as close as possible to the sound of their most celebrated release "Cursed (1991)". So this is pretty much "classic" old school US, Florida influenced death metal and references to acts like Obituary and late 80s Death are as obvious now as they were back when "Cursed (1991)" was released. Actually to a point where I was unsure if it was Obituary playing when the title track kicks in, but Morgoth soon start to play their signature riffs and Marc Grewe also settles on a more personal vocal style.

Quality wise the title track is a memorable, raw, and brutal death metal track, fully on par with their late 80s/early 90s material, while "Die as Deceiver" is slightly less interesting. It´s less catchy and overall just a bit more standard in quality. The sound production is raw and powerful, and suits the music well. The single is arguably an enjoyable old school death metal listening experience, but it´s overall slightly less interesting, than I had hoped for. Still it´s a promising recording comeback for Morgoth and a 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

WE ALL DIE (LAUGHING) Thoughtscanning

Album · 2014 · Progressive Metal
Cover art 2.00 | 1 rating
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adg211288
Thoughtscanning (2014) is the debut full-length album by international (French/Bulgarian) progressive metal act We All Die (Laughing). We All Die (Laughing) is a duo that consists of vocalist Arnaud Strobl and instrumentalist/vocalist Déhà while Thoughtscanning consists of a single thirty-three minute long track. There is also a bonus track in circulation which is a cover of Back to Black by the late Amy Winehouse. Not the most obvious choice of cover song for an extreme progressive metal act. The track was not provided with my promo copy of the album to comment on how it turned out.

The lone song on Thoughtscanning, Thoughtscan (I'm unsure on why there's a difference in title for a release like this), is a varied but rather ponderous beast. Déhà is competent musically and takes the listener through quite a few different moods ranging from melodic guitar playing, doomy parts and depressive black metal elements. It's obvious early on that Thoughtscanning isn't supposed to be for the casual listener. It takes a while to get going and the often mournful feeling certainly isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea. While I hear a fair bit in the actual music I enjoy there are quite a few parts I dislike too and since we're only discussing one song here that's quite the problem and severely hinders my enjoyment of the song/album overall. My problems are more with the vocals of the two guys (I'm unsure of which parts each member sings) than the musicianship although that's certainly got its ups and downs as well. Not all the ideas work and the clean singing featured is definitely the weakest of the links. There are also times where it just feels like the composition isn't going to go anywhere further and that's when my attention starts to drift.

Thoughtscanning strikes me as the sort of release that a certain rare breed of listener is going to utterly love and praise as one of the best albums ever written but it's definitely not something for my palate and I think that there are a few too many ups in downs in the quality of the one song and too many conflicting moods to really recommend it all that highly when being objective either. It does come across as professional I'll give it that. The changes in style and mood never feel forced, that's not why Thoughtscanning doesn't work for me. I just think this one is very niche. 2 stars seems fair; I may have gone a little higher if it managed to fully keep my attention.

43/100

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven: http://metaltube.freeforums.org/we-all-die-laughing-thoughtscanning-t3798.html)

7TH HEAVEN Spectrum

Album · 2014 · Hard Rock
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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Stephen
What keeps me amazed is how creative this Chicago legend can be. One album almost every year and each album consisted of 20 tracks, not the usual 12 or 14 tracks, and almost no fillers at all, that should count for something, don't you think ?

Still combining the typical modern melodic rock, bridging between the 80s hard rock and some poppish element making 7TH HEAVEN accessible to any generation. 'Spectrum' is a very strong continuation project and probably on par with the great 'USA - UK' album of 2008.

My fave here and I bet the crowd's fave too are 'Stoplight', 'It's You', 'Once In A Lifetime', 'We Live Life Young' which I think is the best cut of this album, and 'Heads or Tails'. The twenty tracks are constructed with a good variety, you'll get everything from the uptempo, catchy mid-paced, the heartfelt ballads, and even some dancey track like 'Magic' or reggae-fused 'Join The Party'.

Production-wise is also quite good and with Keith Semple back on board, that’s a very neat thing because his voice really fits the band’s style. All I can say is that 7TH HEAVEN is a consistent band with a consistently great album. I hope the next one will be as strong as 'Spectrum' because making great album like this one sure not an easy task. Good job!

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LEPROUS Bilateral

Album · 2011 · Progressive Metal
Cover art 4.07 | 25 ratings
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VerticalUprising
"Bilateral" is the second studio album by the Norwegian metal act Leprous.

I have to say, I'm not a huge fan of the progressive metal genre. There is just something about it that I can't really explain, it just prevents me from really getting into it.

However, I love everything about this band.

Unlike other bands (which I can express some sort of distaste for), this band has done nothing that I really dislike. In fact, most of their releases are perfect, especially this and their most recent album, "Coal". I know a ton of people really like "Tall Poppy Syndrome", but honestly the album didn't really affect me as much as "Bilateral". It could be from the fact that the track 'Acquired Taste' was the first piece of music I heard from the band. I instantly fell in love with it and it's parent album.

One of the things I love about Leprous is the way they can shift and change their music in such a creative way, that their more unique than most bands I can name. This album really expresses that.

While most Leprous tracks are seven to eight minutes, the tracks on "Bilateral" range from three minutes to six minutes. I feel that instead of having an entire album dedicated to long epics, short(er) songs give way for more creative input. Each track has more time put into it and less filler to take up space on it. Even when they do have a longer track on this album, it is done well. The longest track, 'Forced Entry', is pretty great in the way of vocals and instrumental value. Two great songs that are favorites of mine are the previously mentioned 'Acquired Taste', and the titled track 'Bilateral'. Both are great songs and I highly recommend them for anyone wanting to get into Leprous.

One thing I'm totally thankful for is the removal of the constant screaming that was highly present in "Tall Poppy Syndrome", along with now absent organ. Now it's in the right place and actually sounds good.

Anyways, I totally recommend either this (or Coal) for anyone who wants to listen to a great progressive metal band like Leprous.

Go give it a listen.

WINTERHORDE Underwatermoon

Album · 2010 · Black Metal
Cover art 4.67 | 4 ratings
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666sharon666
Israeli black metal act Winterhorde really pulled out all the stops for their 2010 sophomore effort Underwatermoon, creating one of the most progressive black metal records I’ve ever heard. I’m a firm believer that you can in fact do pretty much anything with black metal, and Winterhorde show themselves here to be a band that doesn't care about any rules.

You’ll mostly hear melodic/symphonic black metal ideas here to form the base of the album’s sound, but Winterhorde throw in a lot of complex playing too as well as unusual song structures. They draw on folk music a little bit and mix the usual black metal shrieks with deeper, more death metal-like growling as well as clean singing, which ranges from epic to downright mournful. The acoustic guitar playing used is one of the most effective things they do though, creating some great melodies. There’s perhaps no finer example of that than Wreckages Ghost. The individual songs are all amazing (even the interludes are done well) and have their own identities, but Underwatermoon is the sort of album that deserves and commands your attention from beginning to end; to give it anything less really ought to be a criminal offense. I seem to recall people talking about the releases of Alcest and Agalloch as the best black metal albums of 2010, but right here is an album that, at least in my opinion, outshines both of them.

Attribution: http://metaltube.freeforums.org/winterhorde-underwatermoon-t3826.html

JUDAS PRIEST Screaming For Vengeance

Album · 1982 · NWoBHM
Cover art 4.11 | 87 ratings
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666sharon666
After the disappointment that was Point of Entry Judas Priest returned to more familiar and altogether more metallic territory for their eighth album Screaming for Vengeance in 1982. And for me given that Point of Entry has always given the impression that it's anything but a really worthwhile Judas Priest release that's definitely a good thing.

Many fans of the band seem to uphold Screaming for Vengeance as one of Judas Priest's very best albums. That's not a sentiment that I find I agree with but this one is most certainly a very redeeming effort to follow Point of Entry. I would also say it's one of the best album's the band released during the 1980's (though my personal 80's Judas Priest preference is to the following Defenders of the Faith) but overall I can't associate Screaming for Vengeance as a masterpiece. Sure it has its share of the Judas Priest classic tracks like the opening duo The Hellion/Electric Eye as well as fantastic title track but I do not think that level of quality is matched by the whole album. A very good return to form for the band, but nothing more than that.

Attribution: http://metaltube.freeforums.org/judas-priest-screaming-for-vengeance-t3822.html

AYREON The Human Equation

Album · 2004 · Progressive Metal
Cover art 4.10 | 72 ratings
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siLLy puPPy
For me listening to any AYREON album is little like going into a cheese shop. Arjen Lucassen really knows how to extract the absolute sappiest of power ballads and to me seems like a nurturer of 70s AOR / Pop rock bands like Styx into his musical equation. More often than not I am a little put off by his constant infatuation with the power ballad style of musical expression but there are times when his creative juices get flowing and he proves he is capable of something powerful and dynamic. The sixth album THE HUMAN EQUATION is one of those moments and yet another concept album / rock opera where each character is portrayed by a guest starring singer. Lucassen employs the talents of an army of vocalists and instrumentalists to create a musical rotisserie of vocal styles, musical motifs and narrations of a character called Me who is left in a coma from a car accident. Each song consists of one day spent in the coma and represents the spectrum of emotions and memories from his life that are played out by the musical cast. Unlike most AYREON projects, on this one Lucassen had help in the lyrics department from Devin Townsend who pretty much contributed the lyrical content and performance as Rage.

The music is in the vein of the usual AYREON style of part folk, part electronic and part metal. On HUMAN EQUATION there is also a lot of Irish jig music incorporated as well. This was my very first exposure to AYREON and I have to say that I have not been overly impressed with what i've heard on other albums. So far this seems to be the best album that i've heard. With all the praise that has revolved around this I was expecting it to be a perfect album but I find that the album is a little boring on Disc 1. The first several songs are just too folky and lack any bite. I'm not really engaged until track 7 with “Hope.” Luckily this double discker picks up from here. I find the real treat is on Disc 2. This is where all the creativity and excitement unleashes itself. Songs like “Trauma” and “Loser” are utterly brilliant and really the whole disc keeps my attention with so much more going on than Disc 1. Overall I find this album to be partially worthy of the hype surrounding it but as with most AYREON albums it seems too long with some less than captivating material finding its way onto the track listing. I would probably give Disc 1 a 3 star rating while Disc 2 gets a 4.5 so for the whole kit and caboodle I award THE HUMAN EQUATION a whopping 4 stars.

IRON MAIDEN Somewhere In Time

Album · 1986 · NWoBHM
Cover art 4.15 | 116 ratings
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Unitron
Iron Maiden-Somewhere In Time

Somewhere in Time is often forgotten, most likely because it's edged between the two masterpieces 'Powerslave' and 'Seventh Son of a Seventh Son'. Somewhere in Time should not be forgotten though, I think it's just as much of a masterpiece as with the two surrounding it.

Somewhere in Time is notable as being the first Maiden album to feature use of the synthesizer, and they use it perfectly. I usually don't like the synth, bands usually make it an upfront instrument; however, Iron Maiden uses it to enhance their sound. Instead of the synth dominating, it adds to the atmosphere of the album. The beginning of the opening song 'Caught Somewhere in Time' already shows the synth playing well, enhancing the guitar. 'Wasted Years' is one of my favorites from the album with very powerful riffing and great lyrics. 'Heaven Can Wait' is probably my favorite song on the album, and this was a song that just blew me away ten or so years ago. The bridge is the part that stands out the most to me, with powerful chanting 'Oh-oh-oh`s' and great atmospheric synth. The catchy chorus, great soloing, fluctuating rhythms, and amazing bridge makes this one of my favorite songs by the Maiden. 'The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner' I feel is an underrated song, it's probably my second favorite from the album.

The production and atmosphere of the album feels a lot different then the previous 'Powerslave'. Like i said, the synth adds a lot to the overall sound of the album and helps. I'm not sure if I prefer the sound on albums like 'Powerslave' or the sound of this album and the next, but either way I love both.

Overall, don't forget this one. This album marked a change in Maiden's sound, and it would lead to the next album which is considered one of their crowning moments along with 'Powerslave'.

Hope you found this review helpful.

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