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2354 reviews/ratings
DYNAZTY - Renatus Power Metal | review permalink
DRAGONFORCE - Maximum Overload Power Metal
ADRANA - The Ancient Realms Power Metal
EVERGREY - The Inner Circle Progressive Metal
BLIND GUARDIAN - Imaginations From the Other Side Power Metal
ANCIENT BARDS - Soulless Child Power Metal
ARMORY - Empyrean Realms Power Metal
FREEDOM CALL - Beyond Power Metal
FREEDOM CALL - Eternity Power Metal
FREEDOM CALL - Stairway to Fairyland Power Metal
CIVIL WAR - Saint Patrick's Day Power Metal
XANDRIA - Neverworld's End Power Metal
DARK MOOR - Ancestral Romance Power Metal
DAWN OF DESTINY - Praying to the World Power Metal
DREAMTALE - Epsilon Power Metal
MINDMAZE - Back from the Edge Power Metal
VANDROYA - One Power Metal
DALRIADA - Jégbontó Power Metal
DALRIADA - Kikelet Folk Metal
DALRIADA - Ígéret Folk Metal

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Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Power Metal 920 4.01
2 Progressive Metal 335 3.89
3 Symphonic Metal 223 3.91
4 Heavy Metal 175 3.58
5 Thrash Metal 96 3.63
6 Gothic Metal 92 3.92
7 Folk Metal 75 4.27
8 Melodic Death Metal 71 3.89
9 US Power Metal 42 3.82
10 Alternative Metal 36 3.46
11 Hard Rock 33 3.64
12 Non-Metal 29 3.48
13 Death Metal 19 4.03
14 Technical Death Metal 16 4.06
15 Metal Related 16 4.06
16 Melodic Metalcore 15 3.27
17 Industrial Metal 15 4.20
18 Symphonic Black Metal 15 4.47
19 Trance Metal 14 3.64
20 Groove Metal 14 2.89
21 Metalcore 12 3.83
22 Technical Thrash Metal 10 4.45
23 Speed Metal 10 3.80
24 Heavy Alternative Rock 9 4.67
25 Atmospheric Black Metal 8 4.06
26 Doom Metal 6 3.92
27 Nu Metal 6 4.00
28 NWoBHM 5 4.50
29 Melodic Black Metal 5 4.00
30 Deathcore 5 3.60
31 Glam Metal 4 3.88
32 Death-Doom Metal 4 3.88
33 Heavy Psych 4 3.75
34 Avant-garde Metal 3 3.67
35 Traditional Doom Metal 3 3.83
36 Brutal Death Metal 2 4.50
37 Stoner Metal 2 4.00
38 Sludge Metal 1 4.00
39 Neoclassical metal 1 4.00
40 Crossover Thrash 1 3.00
41 Black Metal 1 0.50
42 Viking Metal 1 4.00

Latest Albums Reviews

MAJESTY Legends

Album · 2019 · Power Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
It can sometimes be very shocking, when a well established band, known for a very specific sound, suddenly decides to shift gears seemingly out of nowhere. It’s happened with countless numbers of well known bands before, and will almost certainly happen countless more times, as bands continuously look to evolve and distinguish themselves from everyone else. One band who always had a clear, distinct direction to their music is German heavy/power metal band Majesty, formed in 1997, and with eight albums in their discography (or nine, if you include their Metalforce album, which had a different name, but was largely similar to their other releases.) While the band had made some very subtle changes on some of their albums (such as the more laid back Sword & Sorcery, or the pure, intense knockout of an album that was Hellforces) their main sound was always immediately noticeable, falling somewhere in between classic Manowar and early Euro power metal.

So, when the first single for their upcoming ninth album, Legends, was released and proved to be a dramatic change in direction for the band, fans were shocked, and in some cases disappointed to hear the band seemingly abandoning their usual sound. Personally, I found the change interesting, as I do love the band’s earlier releases, and found their previous album, Rebels, to be easily their best since Hellforces, but a potential shift in sound didn’t bother me one bit, as long as they could pull it off well. Now that I’ve heard Legends several times, I am left with mixed feelings, as there are moments where the new sound works wonders and takes the band to new heights, but there are also some misguided experiments, as well as times where trying to mash old and new elements together don’t quite work out. The album ultimately feels like a new beginning for something that could pay off on future releases, but at least for now, the band hasn’t quite nailed their new sound down as well as their old one.

Longtime fans of the band were certainly in for a shock when they heard the rather cheesy keyboards used on lead single “Burn the Bridges”, and while not every song falls in line with that one, there’s certainly a lot more where that came from. On each of their previous albums, Majesty played a style of music that could best be described as a mix of classic Manowar and Euro power metal, with a bit more speed and intensity compared to the former, while at times being a bit more laid back than the latter, while still being very epic and melodic at all times. Their lyrics were often in line with their heroes, as indicated by such album titles as “Keep It True” and “Reign in Glory”, and so Legends is already a big chance of pace, being a concept album centered around a post apocalyptic wasteland, complete with little bits of narration. This is the first sign of trouble, as the album lacks some of the fun and wackiness of their past albums, while the narration is very forced and irritating, especially on the very skippable intro track, which gets the album off on the wrong foot.

Musically, the band still has traces of their classic metal sound, but the songs all have a more modernized feel to them, with keyboards aplenty, and some of the guitar work has a slightly chunkier, more modernized sound to it. I actually find the album works best when the band goes all in with their new sound, as they do have the ability to write some very fun, energetic tracks with a slightly more modern sound, and the speedier, more power metal focused tracks are especially strong on this one, while some of the tracks where they try inserting some of their classic elements to go along with the keys and overall more melodic approach, just don’t quite work out too well. Performances are still strong across the board, with the guitarists having some great moments, especially some really beautiful, melodic solos on many of the tracks, while vocalist Tarek Mahgary still sounds like a slightly lighter singing, deeper voiced version of Eric Adams, and his vocals are as excellent as always, while the production is also top notch.

The biggest area where the album comes up short is in the songwriting. There are some excellent songs here, but there’s also a few that come up just a bit short of greatness, as well as one that could only be described as a total disaster. Following the terrible intro track I already mentioned, the band comes out full guns blazing with “Rizing Home”, a speedy, hard hitting power metal with some great lead riffs, an excellent solo in the second half, fun verses and an absolutely incredible anthem like chorus, the likes of which they’ve always excelled at, though this may be one of their absolute best, especially with the infectious hook of “ruh-ruh-ruh-ruh Rizing Home”, which will never get old! It’s also a perfect example of how to pull off their new sound effectively, without fully abandoning their past, as it’s still very much a heavy, energetic metal track, but it mixes in some keyboards, though the key is they’re largely kept in the background and used to add an extra layer of epic, to what’s already a great track, and so they’re never dominant or distracting. Overall, it’s an absolute masterpiece of a track, and one which, sadly, the rest of the album can’t quite live up to.

Following that epic opener is lead single “Burn the Bridges”, another fine example of the band’s new sound. This one immediately gives off some Sabaton vibes, with the very cheesy keyboards, and it has a lighter sound overall, though it still moves along at a fast pace, with some very fun verses, an epic build up and then the chorus comes in and manages to be simultaneously a whole lot of fun, while also being one of the most annoyingly repetitive things I’ve ever heard on a metal track. I eventually came to love it, but the fact that it has to follow “Rizing Home”, which manages to be equally energetic, while having a much stronger chorus, does end up hurting it just a bit. The solo in the second half is excellent, though, and it’s a very fun track overall. Next is “We Are Legends”, and this one is a bit of a mixed bag. It has traces of the band’s classic sound, with an epic, fun chorus that brings “Rebels of Our Time” to mind, but at the same time, the chunkier guitar work during the verses feels a bit out of place, while the keys are a bit awkward sounding, and don’t mesh well with the overall classic vibe of the track. It’s a case of old and new clashing together in a way where everything just comes off feeling a bit muddled.

The album picks up for a while after that minor letdown, with second single “Wasteland Outlaw” laying down the blueprint for how to make a slower paced, more laid back heavy metal track with the band’s new sound, as it’s very light, very keyboard dominant and is one of the most relaxed and more melodic tracks on the album, with guitars playing a very minor role. At the same time, it’s a very enjoyable track, with an excellent, irresistibly catchy chorus and an excellent melodic guitar solo. Next is “Church of Glory”, another very keyboard driven track, though it’s a more upbeat track, with some very bouncy keyboard hooks during the verses, while the chorus has more of a classic feel to it, with some nice melodic guitar work, some insanely epic backing vocals, and awesome vocal melodies all around. It’s definitely one of the best, most fun tracks on the album, though some fans may be turned off by the over the top keys. Another strong track is “Mavericks Supreme”, which is very much in line with the previous track, though the keyboards are a bit more restrained, and if anything the chorus is even more epic and fun. It’s another fun, upbeat track, with incredible backing vocals, an excellent, very melodic guitar solo, and a nice use of keyboards. The final speedy track on the album comes two tracks later, with “Last Brigade”, and it’s another massive highlight, probably the best on the album aside from “Rizing Home”. It’s a fast paced, hard hitting track with some very aggressive guitar work, fast and furious verses, and an unbelievably uplifting, insanely epic chorus, with some more incredible melodies and backing vocals. It’s one of those tracks that fits in perfectly with the new sound, while still managing to have a slight throwback feel to it, and it’s absolutely amazing from start to finish.

Unfortunately, the worst moment of the album comes in between those last two tracks. Majesty are usually pretty good at ballads, with “Across the Lightning” from Rebels being particularly excellent, but it’s safe to say, “Words of Silence” is by far their weakest ballad ever, if not their absolute weakest song, period. It’s largely a piano ballad, with slight symphonic elements, but it struggles to get going right away with some rather awkward vocal melodies, and more alarmingly, an F-Bomb shows up early on, with more to follow later in the track. The thing is, swearing can be effective, if used on an angry, aggressive track, but on such a tame sounding ballad, it just feels forced and hopelessly out of place. Worse though, the second verse has an attempt at some very bouncy vocal melodies that come close to rap, and it’s just pure torture to listen to, while the chorus is better, and feels close to being good, but it just doesn’t quite get there: Something about it just feels a tad off, and so it never gives the emotional feeling it should. A nice guitar solo in the second half is really the only redeeming quality the track has, but otherwise (and I really hate to say this,) the track is an outright colossal failure, and one of the worst tracks I’ve heard so far this year, if not the absolute worst.

With that downer of a track out of the way, we move to the final two tracks, both of which are solid, but unspectacular. First up is “Blood of the Titans” a slightly upbeat, hard hitting track, with solid verses and a pretty epic, fun chorus, though it doesn’t reach the heights of most of the earlier tracks on the album, aside from another excellent guitar solo in the second half, as well as a great use of keys. Closing out the album is “Stand As One”, a very modern sounding, more mid paced track, with some very chunky riffs, an overuse of keys, and decent verses, helped somewhat by yet another very fun, epic and catchy chorus, with more outstanding vocal melodies. Its not the strongest way to end an album, but it’s a pretty solid track, and it doesn’t reach the lows some of the other tracks do, so it’s a fine enough ending.

Legends is an interesting album, in that it shows signs of being incredible at times, with the new keyboard driven focus working wonders on some tracks, while the vocal melodies and choruses are generally amazing, the speedier sections tend to be equal parts intense, melodic and pure fun, while the solos are excellent, as always, and yet there are enough weaker points to drag the album down, to the point where it ends up being a bit of a mess. I think Majesty need to decide whether or not they’re willing to fully commit to this new sound or go back to their roots, as the tracks that lean more towards one way or the other tend to work out the best, while tracks that try and mix the two together often see the two styles clashing in ways that cause the song to turn into a muddled mess. I can definitely see longtime fans of the band being disappointed, though I can also see people turned off by their Manowar influences being more willing to give this album a chance, thanks to the more modernised approach, while newcomers are likely to find some enjoyment, as there’s enough variety and enough outstanding moments for the album to be worth a shot. It’s not as good an album as I was hoping it would be, but it’s still very fun at times, and it does show potential for better things in the future, if the band can figure out how to pull everything together. At the vary least, it feels like a potential start to a new era for Majesty, and it leaves me very excited to see what they come up with next. It may not be the total knockout I was hoping for, but it certainly isn’t a total failure, either. It’s more of a fascinating near miss, than anything.

originally written for myglobalmind.com: https://myglobalmind.com/2019/06/26/majesty-legends-review/

PALADIN Ascension

Album · 2019 · Power Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
As someone who’s always looking out for promising new power metal bands, one band that managed to catch me completely by surprise when seeking out new promo materials, is American power/thrash/melodeath band Paladin. I had never heard anything about the band going in, but apparently they released a demo in 2017, went through some lineup changes afterward, and now they’re ready to release their debut, Ascension later this week, and it is one heck of a killer album!

The band is led by vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Taylor Washington, who is clearly the star of the album, though the other three members also do an excellent job, of course. Musically, Ascension is quite the interesting release, as its two singles may make it seem like fairly typical power metal, except with a slight thrash edge to some of the guitar work, but there’s actually quite a lot going on throughout the majority of the tracks, with some very thrashy instrumental work at times, as well as some extended harsh vocal sections. In fact, while quite a few power metal bands do use growls on occasion, I struggle to think of many who do it quite the way Paladin do, where a song can start off feeling like thrashy power metal, with strong, soaring clean vocals, and then suddenly a huge, explosive melodeath section will come with some epic growls. And of course, it often goes the other way around, too, with “Carpe Diem” in particular starting out with a thunderous, powerful opening verse that brings classic Swedish medlodeath to mind, before opening up with a soaring, very melodic, cleanly sung chorus. And on top of all of that, the instrumental work often switches from very melodic, albeit guitar driven, power metal, into all out thrash territory within an instant. Suffice to say, the band does an excellent job of genre blending, and while the core of the music is definitely power metal, there’s quite bit of thrash and melodeath to find, often showing up seamlessly into a track, and everything is executed to near perfection.

Performances are excellent across the board, with Taylor and Alex Parra in particular delivering some excellent guitar work, which often switches from very melodic, to quite crunchy or quite aggressive and then back again, in a hurry, while Nathan McKinney’s drumming is generally frantic, to stay on pace with the generally speedy tempos of the tracks, but it’s also very well done. Taylor’s vocals are also impressive, alternating seamlessly between soaring, powerful clean vocals, and some deep, intense death growls, which fall somewhere in between classic death growls and blackened rasps. His clean vocals are smooth, and he does a great job during the epic choruses, while at times having a slight edge to his voice, which also works very well, and is especially effective during the thrashier sections. The songwriting is also impressive, with most songs doing a great job of incorporating different elements, though the couple of more straight-forward power metal tracks, “Awakening” and “Shoot for the Sun”, the two singles for the album, are also both excellent, immediately engaging tracks. Production is top notch, with everything sounding crystal clear and powerful, and for a debut, the band sounds very tight.

Songwriting is one area that can take time for bands to master, but Paladin has nailed it down quite well on their debut, with every song being excellent. It all starts off with opening track and second single, “Awakening”, a very speedy, melodic power metal track, which alternates between frantic, intense verses, and a soaring, melodic chorus, where Taylor really shines. It has some excellent melodies, especially during the chorus and excellent solo in the second half, as well as some riffs that slightly hint at a thrashier sound, though that doesn’t fully emerge until later in the album. Speaking of which, the next track, “Divine Providence”, introduces the band’s full sound, starting off at more of a relaxed mid tempo, before some powerful growls enter in early on, during an atmospheric section that introduces the band’s melodeath side, and then for a while the track alternates between clean and harsh vocals, as well as frantic sections and more mid paced sections, until a big instrumental section later on, where some obvious technical thrash elements appear. And thus, Palandin’s full sound has been properly unveiled, in all its glory, by the time the track is over.

The melodeath elements only get stronger on “Call of the Night”, which opens with a very speedy, melodic, growled chorus that certainly brings many classic Swedish melodeath tracks to mind. This continues on for a while, before Taylor brings back his clean vocals for an epic chorus, and then the track continues to alternate between melodeath and power metal as it goes on, which makes for one explosive, highly addictive track. Fans looking to hear the thrashier side of the band need look no further than “Call of the Night“, another frantic track, which kicks off with some very hard hitting, thrashy guitar work, and while it does throw in more growls during the chorus, it’s pretty much an unrelenting power/thrash assault from start to finish, with some very powerful and intense clean vocals from Taylor, as well as an incredibly fun and heavy instrumental section in the second half. It’s definite one of those tracks where the band does an amazing job of alternating between their wilder, heavier side, and their more melodic power metal side, with both aspects coming through perfectly. While the album has some great vocals, the more instrumental side of the band comes through strongly on “Black Omen”, another speedy, very hard hitting track, which has some great extended instrumental sections, and the guitar work gets very technical in places. There are some vocal sections, as always, including both clean vocals and growls, but it’s the instrumental sections that standout the most, most notably during the first minute, as well as an extended section in the second half, which alternates nicely speedy, heavy guitar work, and a very nice slower section.

The album moves into slightly more straight-forward material for a while, starting with “Fall From Grace”, another speedy, very melodic track, with an extremely strong chorus. It has a slight thrash edge to it during the verses, but it also has some very nice melodic guitar work, as well as one of the best choruses on the album. Next is “Bury the Light”, one of the band’s earlier songs, as it appeared on their 2017 demo, and it’s another track which brings some classic melodeath to mind, with some very melodic guitar work early on, before speeding up and unleashing some intense growled verses, which give way to a slightly slower, very melodic chorus, which alternates between the two styles. It’s a simply, yet very fun track, which again shows both the heavy and more melodic sides of the band quite well. Perhaps the most straight-forward song of all is lead single “Shoot for the Sun”, a fast paced, hard hitting track which has very technical guitar work, as well as some classic speed metal influences, with intense rapid fire verses, and a simple but fun chorus. It brings the first two Hibria albums to mind, and is definitely a very fun, catchy track, as well as a great display of heavy, guitar driven classic power metal.

Moving towards the end, “Vagrant” is another track which does a great job of incorporating the band’s various styles, with fast paced, slightly thrashy verses, a very melodic, cleanly sung chorus, and some growls here in there, as well as more thrahsy guitar work in the second half. Next is “Dawn of Rebirth”, another one of the more thrashy songs on the album. It has a nice mix of both vocal styles early on, as well as some great melodies during the verses and chorus, and then it the second half it has an extended instrumental section where the band goes into full on technical thrash territory again, and it’s absolutely glorious! Closing out the album is “Genesis”, the longest and most epic track of the bunch. It has some nice melodic guitar work throughout, and starts off with some powerful harsh vocals, during a nicely paced, though not terribly speedy section. It carries on at this pace for a while, before slowing down in the middle for some of the most melodic and beautiful guitar work on the entire album, and Taylor alternates wonderfully between his two vocal styles, delivering some of his best vocals with both styles, before the music picks up one last time to close out the album. It’s an epic track on its own, and it’s definitely an excellent way to close out the album.

Paladin is one of those bands that kinda crept up on me from out of nowhere, and they managed to make a strong first impression with their debut, Ascension. It’s an excellent blend of speedy, melodic power metal, aggressive, technical thrash and some epic, powerful melodious death metal. While the power metal elements are the most prominent and are on every track, the band does an excellent job of blending the three styles together on most of the tracks, which helps make it quite a unique album. Fans of all three styles are highly recommended to give this album a listen, as it’s an amazing debut on all levels, with excellent musicianship, great songwriting and a killer vocal performance. This is a band I could see doing really awesome things, so hopefully they can gain a large following with this album, and have the success they deserve!

originally written for myglobalmind.com: https://myglobalmind.com/2019/05/13/paladin-ascension-review/

STEEL PROPHET The God Machine

Album · 2019 · US Power Metal
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Once in a while, a band might get a total makeover, where they change their sound to the point of becoming nearly unrecognisable. The latest band to have this happen is American heavy/power metal band Steel Prophet. I was introduced to them with their 2014 release, Omniscient, which left me with mixed impressions, as musically it was quite a dynamic, varied and complex US power metal album, but it was dragged down by some rather nonsensical lyrics (it seriously had a track called “Aliens, Spaceships and Richard M. Nixon”, for example) as well as a rather inconsistent performance by longtime vocalist Rick Mythiasin. Almost 5 years later, the band is back with a new vocalist, and while the lineup largely consists of longtime members, their sound has changed quite a bit on their ninth full length release, The God Machine, to the point where I can see some longtime fans of the band being disappointed, though for anyone approaching it with an open mind, it’s certainly a thoroughly entertaining album.

Steel Prophet has been around since the early 80’s, and their classic sound was rooted in US power metal, being very raw and hard hitting, while also being quite complex at times, with strong prog elements. The God Machine is a whole different monster, being a mix between a much more modernized power/thrash sound, as well as classic heavy metal. Obviously, the most immediately noticeable change is vocals, with Mystic Prophecy’s R.D. Liapakis taking over the mic, and delivering his usual mix of gritty, powerful vocals, with some more soulful moments on the couple of softer tracks, but even musically, things have changed quite a bit.

The approach to songwriting in particular has changed a lot, with a switch to some much shorter, more straight-forward songs, with less complex arrangements and a less dynamic sound overall. There’s still a decent amount of variety to the songs, of course, with the heavier, speedier tracks generally being the best, but there certainly aren’t any long or more challenging tracks like some of those on Omniscient. This approach works well, though, with all musicians doing a great job, as always, and there’s certainly some excellent thrashy riffs throughout the album, with nods to classic thrash at times, as well as some classic heavy metal galloping riffs and melodic guitar work on some tracks. Obviously, a lot of the changes to the sound were made to help Liapakis fit in, as some of the tracks certainly do remind me of Mystic Prophecy at times, and he sounds as great as always on the album, taking no time at all to settle in and deliver some excellent vocals. Production is top notch, and everything sounds a bit more modern and polished compared to previous releases, which is another big change.

The band wastes no time in demonstrating their switch to more modernized riffs and more simplified songwriting, with the title track kicking things off at a furious pace, instantly launching into some very thrashy power metal riffs, which instantly bring Mystic Prophecy to mind (it most likely is one of the songs written by Liapakis, who split songwriting duties with longtime guitarist/keyboardist Steve Kachinski.) The song has fun verses and a very catchy chorus, and it’s a very fun, hard hitting track overall. Next is another speedy track in “Crucify”, the lead single for the album. It still has a modernized sound to it, though the lead guitars are a bit more melodic during the verses, before getting thrashy again during the chorus. It’s another hard hitting, fast paced track, with its biggest highlight being an extended instrumental section with some thrashy leads and excellent solo work that brings classic Metallica to mind. Next is the slightly slower, though still decently fast paced, “Thrashed Relentlessly”, another track with some great, heavy guitar work. It’s another modern sounding track, with powerful riffs and a strong, melodic chorus, with excellent vocals.

On the slower side, “Dark Mask (Between Love and Hate)” is a very classic heavy metal sounding track, with some nice melodic leads during the verses, as well as a very melodic and catchy chorus. Despite having a classic sound to it, the song still feels more polished and more simplified than most other songs I’ve heard from Steel Prophet, though it’s definitely a great track. Next is “Damnation Calling”, the first of two power ballads on the album. This track at times feels like an Iron Maiden ballad, with how it alternates nicely between very soft passages, and some darker, heavier passages. It opens calmly, before some heavy guitar work kicks in, and from there the song switches seamlessly between heavy verses, and a nice, melodic and very powerful chorus, with a particularly speedy section in the second half being the biggest highlight. After that is “Soulhunter”, my favorite on the album. It has some classic Maiden style galloping riffs, and is a fast paced track, with a mix between heavy riffs and some great melodies, with the chorus in particular having some incredible vocal melodies, as well as being very fun and catchy. The track has a great instrumental section in the second half, as well as an excellent speedy section near the end, which takes it to new heights.

The second ballad on the album is “Buried and Broken”, which starts off with more Maiden style guitar work, before slowing down and turning into a very soft, vocal driven track, only getting heavier during the chorus, and an intense sequence towards the end. It serves as a nice vocal showcase, with Liapakis alternating nicely between soft and powerful vocals. Next is another slower track in “Lucifer – The Devil Inside”. It has some great heavy riffs, as well as a nice groove, and a strong chorus. It has a slight doom metal atmosphere to it, though it does get more upbeat in the second half, with a fast paced and intense instrumental section. It’s a very good track, overall. Next is “Fight, Kill”, which begins with some soft, very epic guitar work, before turning into an excellent melodic heavy metal track, with some fairly fast paced riffs, and another fun, catchy chorus. It has an excellent instrumental section in the second half, and it’s a great classic heavy metal track, overall. Closing out the album is the weirdly named “Love = Life = God Machine” which, despite it’s unwieldy name, is actually a very good track, with more classic heavy metal style guitar riffs. It has a slight hard rock feel to it, with a fairly laid back sound, while still having some great riffs during the verses, which give way to a very melodic and powerful chorus. The instrumental section in the second half especially has a strong 80’s feel to it, and overall the track is a lot of fun, and is a great way to close out the album.

I wasn’t too sure what to expect from The God Machine, as I wasn’t too thrilled by the previous Steel Prophet album I had heard, but the band has made quite a change on this release, switching to a more modernised sound, with some power/thrash elements, while still having strong influences of classic heavy metal, which takeover more and more as the album progresses. The songwriting is a lot more direct and satisfying, and R.D. Liapakis sounds as great as ever, so I think newcomers looking for some fun heavy/power metal are actually more likely to be pleased with this than longtime fans of the band, as I feel this album might be a bit too different to appeal to that crowd. Either way, though, it’s a strong album, and it certainly leaves me looking forward to seeing what the band does in the future.

originally written for myglobalmind.com: https://myglobalmind.com/2019/04/29/steel-prophet-the-god-machine-review/

AMON AMARTH Berserker

Album · 2019 · Melodic Death Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
When talking about the best melodic death metal bands in the world, one band that should always be mentioned is Swedish Viking themed band Amon Amarth. They’ve been around since the early 90’s, and while other big names in the genre have gone through some ups and downs, as well as long periods of downtime, in some cases, these guys have been consistently putting out great albums their entire career, never going more than three years in between releases. Their previous release, Jomsviking, was particularly impressive, as it was an epic concept album, with a slight narrative angle to it, while still delivering their typical brand of melodic yet intense melodeath. Three years later, they’re back once again with their eleventh full length release, Berserker, and while few could blame them if they were to put out a less impressive effort, following such a strong release, the band has once again delivered and produced possibly their absolute best batch of songs to date!

Compared to Jomsviking, Berserker is a much more straight-forward, more in your face kind of album, with the focus put entirely on unleashing one killer song after another, which is exactly what the band has done. It definitely has all the signature elements of the band, with a ton of fast paced, headbanging melodeath fun, as well as some more epic mid paced stompers, a slower, almost power ballad like track, an epic closer, and of course there’s a ton of violent Viking imagery, as always. On the surface, the album may seem to be a “Greatest Hits” of sorts, and that isn’t entirely inaccurate, as there certainly is a feel that the band is combining all their best elements and throwing them onto one album, but there’s also some surprises to be found, including a nice acoustic section to open the album, as well as the aforementioned rather surprising track, and a few other little touches. Performances are obviously amazing all around, with duo guitarists Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Söderberg delivering some awesome riffs and melodies, while drummer Jocke Wallgreen is on point with some epic grooves, and of course, vocalist Johan Hegg unleashes his usual epic, deep death growls, which sound as impressive as ever. Sound production is also flawless and crystal clear, as always, with everything sounding perfect.

Songwriting has always been a strength for Amon Amarth, with all their albums having their share of killer tracks, though if anything, Berserker is even more impressive than usual, as none of its tracks are anything short of absolutely amazing! First up is the incredible opener, “Fafnir’s Gold”, which starts off with a nice acoustic intro for about 35 seconds, before some melodic guitar leads take over, and then after about a minute, the full band is in action, and the track charges ahead at a frantic pace, and turns into the kind of epic, speedy and hard hitting opener fans of the band have come to expect. It has a perfect mix of hard hitting riffs during the verses, and some great melodies to accompany Johan Hegg during the epic chorus. Next is second single “Crack the Sky”, a more mid paced track, with some nice grooves, as well as some excellent drumming. It gallops along at a decent pace, with some excellent lead guitar work, as well as Johan’s typically powerful growls, and then the chorus is insanely catchy and melodic, and is sure to become a fan favourite, while the melodic guitar solo in the second half is also amazing. After that is another fun, speedy track in “Mjölner, Hammer of Thor”, a heavy, guitar driven track, which moves at a frantic pace, alternating nicely between heavy and very melodic guitar work. Instrumentally, it’s one of those tracks that shows that the band could be an amazing power metal band, if not for the growls, but as is, it’s an amazing melodeath track, with a fun chorus, fun verses, and awesome instrumental work all around, as well as some cool hammer sound effects, for good measure.

The first real slower track on the album is “Shield Wall”, an absolutely brutal, yet epic and powerful track, with some very hard hitting riffs. It has a more modernised sound to it, with some very chunky yet awesome riffs, and Johan is at his absolute most intense, especially during the heavy and epic chorus. It’s definitely one of the band’s heavier tracks, yet it still has some nice melodies, as well, especially in the middle, and it’s an awesome track overall. On the lighter side, “Valkyria” is another more mid paced track, with some lighter, more melodic guitar work, while still being pretty epic and intense. It has some very nice melodic guitar leads throughout, as well as a nice chorus and fun verses, and it has a really cool atmospheric outro. Next is lead single “Raven’s Flight”, and it’s another standout, flawlessly alternating between speedy and slower passages, as well as some epic galloping riffs, excellent melodic guitar work, and some very heavy riffs. It has a very catchy and epic chorus, very fun verses, and awesome instrumental work, throughout, as well as a ton of tempo changes, all of which help make it an unforgettable track.

Following that absolute monster of a track, the album goes into slightly lighter territory for a while, starting with “Ironside”, another more mid paced track. It has some great riffs, but it’s the melodic guitar work, epic melodies and vocals that carry the track. It’s a very epic, very melodic track, with an amazing chorus, great lyrics and an incredible performance by Johan. Even softer than that is “The Berserker at Stamford Bridge”, an ultra-rare power ballad for the band, and it’s a bloody good one! It opens with some very epic melodic guitar work, and continues along with just that, vocals and some very light percussion for a while, before full drums appear during the chorus, and then the full sound kicks in shortly after that, for a heavy, yet melodic and very powerful track. It has an epic chorus, more epic lyrics and another incredible vocal performance, as well as some epic instrumental sections in the second half. It’s a pretty surprising track overall, and it may not win everyone over at first, but it’s a definite grower. On the slightly speedier, but still fairly light end of things is “When Once Again We Can Set Our Sails”, another track dominated by light, melodic guitar work, and epic vocals. It moves along at a nice pace, with some great riffs and beautiful melodies, and it’s another epic, and very melodic track, with an excellent chorus.

The heaviness gets kicked up several notches again for the remainder of the album, starting with “Skoll and Hati”, a fast and furious track, with some very hard hitting lead guitar work, frantic drums, and intense vocals. It’s the kind of speedy, aggressive track the band excels at, while still having some awesome melodies. In similar territory is “Wings of Eagles”, another ultra-fast, very heavy track with some excellent riffs, fast paced drumming, and a great melodic chorus. The chorus in particular is one of the band’s best, most epic in quite some time, and the track is amazing overall. Closing out the album is the mini epic “Into the Dark”, which starts out with some slight symphonic elements, before settling into a nice groove, with light, melodic guitar work, and then after a while some heavier riffs kick in, and the track turns into a mid-paced, very heavy track, more epic guitar work and amazing vocals. It’s yet another track which strikes a perfect balance between heavy and melodic passages, with Johan being softer at points, while being very intense at other points. It’s an epic track on its own, and an excellent closer.

Amon Amarth show no signs of letting up any time soon, and if anything, Berserker may be their best release yet, with a perfect mix of everything they’ve been known for in the past, as well as some small surprises here and there. It’s definitely one of their most energetic, most consistently entertaining releases, with an amazing flow, going from one killer track to another, and it has a perfect mix of fast, mid paced and slower tracks, while striking a perfect balance between heavy and melodic. It’s easily the best melodeath album I’ve heard in recent years, and it feels like the band is at the absolute top of their game right now. Long-time fans should be very pleased, while any melodeath fan who’s somehow never heard of the band before, could do no better than to check this album out right away, as it’s an absolute masterpiece!

originally written for myglobalmind.com:https://myglobalmind.com/2019/04/26/amon-amarth-berserker-review/

ELUVEITIE Ategnatos

Album · 2019 · Folk Metal
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There have been a lot of metal bands making an impressive resurgence in recent years, following either long periods of inactivity, or a big lineup change that initially seemed like a major setback. One such band to enter a new era recently is Swiss folk/melodeath band Eluveitie, who had released six great to excellent albums during their first twelve years of existence, before announcing some huge lineup changes in 2016, the biggest of which being the departure of Anna Murphy (Vocals, Hurdy Gurdy) and the addition of Fabienne Erni (Vocals, Mandola, Harp.) One year later, the band would release Evocation II – Pantheon, the long-anticipated sequel to their first ever acoustic folk release. However, while I found that album is enjoyable enough, it left me desperately wanting to hear how their new lineup would sound on a heavier album, so when the band’s eighth full-length release, Ategnatos, was announced, I was excited to hear how it would turn out. Now that it is here, it has not only exceeded my expectations: it has become by far my favorite Eluveitie album to date, and one that represents all aspects of their music perfectly, while also showing small signs of evolution.

Eluveitie essentially has two main aspects to their music: The heavy, melodeath infused sections where frontman Chrigel Glanzmann leads the way with his epic, varied growls, and the softer, more epic and melodic folk passages. The two often intersect on many tracks, and I generally find these tracks to be the band’s best works, with the mix between harsh and clean vocals, along with the heavy guitar work and extensive folk melodies, coming from many different unique instruments, all coming together to create something special. Stylistically, Ategnatos delivers more of what any fan of the band would want, with many straight-forward, hard-hitting melodeath passages, a fair amount of softer passages where Fabienne steals the show with her light, yet very powerful and emotional vocals, and a ton of sections where the two styles come together for something truly amazing. There are also some sections where the guitar work goes a bit into metalcore territory, though this is handled very well, and adds an extra level of intensity, without taking things too far, and there are also a ton of nice softer sections, as well as a couple of more danceable, somewhat pop-ish tracks, where Fabienne really gets to shine. Performances are strong across the board, as always, with Chrigel and all musicians, both old and new, doing a great job, while Fabienne really gets to shine in her first full album (Evocation II was very light on vocals) and proves to be an excellent addition to the band. The production is also top-notch, with all the different elements coming together perfectly, and it all sounds wonderful together.

As great as everything sounds, the most impressive part of the album is how the songwriting manages to be both incredibly varied and extremely consistent, with some of Eluveitie’s most dynamic songwriting to date, as well as some of their catchiest, most satisfying songs in quite some time. The title track (which also serves as the lead single) kicks things off in typical fashion, with a brief narrative section, which introduces the album’s overarching theme of rebirth (a very fitting theme, considering the band’s circumstances) and then there’s an extended sequence of folk instrumentation and choral vocals, before the guitars eventually take over and the band charges ahead with their classic melodeath sound, as Chrigel mixes high and low growls together wonderfully during some fun verses, and Fabienne joins along during a fun, soft chorus. It’s a very nice track and does a great job of alternating between speedy, intense melodeath passages, and more melodic folk sections. It’s an excellent indication of what to expect from the album.

I’ll divide the rest of the album into three categories, starting with the heavier, more melodeath focused tracks. First up, we have “A Cry in the Wilderness”, which starts out with nice folk instrumentation and percussion, before speeding ahead during some intense, fast-paced verses. It has a nice combination of folk instrumentation and heavy guitar work, and is a very heavy and fun track, with Chrigel delivering some epic growls, especially during the chorus. The most intense track, though, is “Mine is the Fury”, a short but absolutely brutal track, which has the most frantic, hardest hitting verses, as well as an intense, somewhat groove infused middle section. It does make use of some great folk melodies, but it’s a very hard hitting track, overall, and quite the fun one as well. A couple of tracks later is “Worship”, a track which has some epic folk melodies as well as some narration and it’s probably the most melodic of the Chrigel dominated tracks, but it’s still fast and very heavy at points, especially during the verses, while the chorus is more melodic, though Chrigel still delivers some very powerful, lower pitched growls, which work great. Lastly, we have “Threefold Death”, which has some beautiful vocals from Fabienne during soft passages at the beginning and near the end, but for the rest of its duration it’s rapid-fire, pulverizing melodeath track, with more very heavy guitar work, and epic growls from Chrigel.

On the softer side, there are three nice interludes throughout the album, which are mostly pure Celtic folk, and transition nicely between full-length songs. The first softer full-length song is “The Raven Hill”, which is one of the purest folk metal tracks on the album, with some nice Celtic folk melodies laying the backdrops for a more relaxing, though still intense track. Chrigel growls during the verses, while Fabienne delivers some nice vocals during the chorus, as well as during the intro, and it’s a very melodic, very beautiful track overall, with some especially great folk instrumentation throughout the track. One particularly unique track is “Ambiramus”, a fun, more pop-ish track with some very danceable melodies, as the folk instruments have a catchy, almost electronic sound to them, that is only really noticeable on this track. it’s a soft track, with slow verses and a very upbeat, extremely catchy chorus where Fabienne delivers some of her most powerful and inspired vocals on the entire album. It was definitely a great choice for a single and is one of the best songs on the album. Near the end of the album, “Breathe”, is another very beautiful track with a heavy focus on folk melodies. It does have some heavy guitar work, especially during the instrumental section in the second half, but it’s a slower paced, very melodic track overall, where Fabienne really gets to showcase her smooth and beautiful, yet very powerful voice. It could end up being one of the less liked tracks on the album, but it’s actually one of my personal favorites, due to how relaxing and catchy it is, as well as how amazing the vocals are throughout. Lastly, the album closes off with Eclipse”, a soft outro type track, which takes the main melody and lyrics from the previous track, “Rebirth”, and allows Fabienne to run with it, resulting in another stunning vocal showcase.

While both the heavier and softer tracks are amazing, the tracks that strike a balance between the two tend to be among my favorites. First up, following the title track and an interlude, is “Deathwalker”, a track which has some very heavy, slightly metalcore infused guitar work during the verses, while still having some beautiful folk melodies, as well as a very fun, upbeat chorus where both vocalists work together wonderfully. Similarly, “Black Water Dawn”, does an excellent job of alternating between heavy and softer passages, especially during the chorus, while the verses move along a decent, but not an overly fast pace, and have some intense growls. The chorus, though, is very melodic and gives Fabienne some room to work with, while the instrumental section in the second half is heavy, intense and really cool. On the softer side, but still having some intense growled sections is “The Slumber”, which has some more excellent folk melodies throughout, and it’s a slower, very calm track overall, with some heavy growled parts during the verses, and some beautiful, soft melodies during the chorus, which is dominated by clean vocals. The last full-length song on the album is “Rebirth”, which is the first song releases from the track, but it came out about a year and a half ago, so it’s hard to really call it a lead single. If anything, it initially served more like a tease at what fans could expect to hear from the band in the future. Either way, it’s an absolute stunner of a track, and probably my favorite on the album, again alternating wonderfully between speedy melodeath sections, with a slight touch of metalcore during some slower, pounding sections, as well as a very melodic chorus, where Fabienne gets to shine. The instrumental section in the second half is absolutely epic and spectacular, while the ending is also perfect and serves as a great lead into the aforementioned closing track, which ends the album wonderfully.

When Eluveitie announced their major lineup changes a few years ago I was concerned, and wondered whether they would be able to retain their high quality, but now that I’ve heard Ategnatos, I’m very pleased to say the band has stormed back in a wonderful way, producing possibly their best, most dynamic release to date! It strikes a perfect balance between their classic melodeath elements, as well as their epic Celtic folk sound, and it serves as an excellent full debut for new vocalist Fabienne Enri, while still allowing frontman Chrigel Glanzmann to shine as much as ever before. Longtime fans of the band should be pleased with the album, while fans of either folk or melodeath are highly recommended to give it a listen, as it’s likely to be among the best albums from either genre released this year.

originally written for myglobalmind.com: https://myglobalmind.com/2019/04/06/eluveitie-ategnatos-review/

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