Travis Green
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2409 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 941 4.02
2 Progressive Metal 346 3.90
3 Symphonic Metal 226 3.91
4 Heavy Metal 178 3.58
5 Thrash Metal 96 3.63
6 Gothic Metal 92 3.92
7 Folk Metal 76 4.27
8 Melodic Death Metal 74 3.89
9 US Power Metal 50 3.88
10 Alternative Metal 37 3.45
11 Hard Rock 33 3.65
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 Trance Metal 16 3.63
17 Symphonic Black Metal 15 4.47
18 Melodic Metalcore 15 3.27
19 Industrial Metal 15 4.20
20 Groove Metal 15 2.83
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 7 4.00
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


Album · 2020 · Power Metal
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Whenever a band makes a truly impressive debut, it’s very exciting, and yet it can also raise the stakes for any future releases the band makes, as fans hope for them to build on their successes and potentially come up with something even better. The single best debut I’ve heard in recent years was Prophecy of Ragnarok from Swedish power metal band Brothers of Metal, who self-released the album in April 2017, before being signed to AFM, who gave the album a much deserved worldwide release in November 2018. The release was as perfect as a debut can be, with the band presenting a fully fleshed out collection of songs, stylistically falling somewhere in between the epic power metal of Sabaton, and the “true metal” attitude of Manowar, tying it all together with Viking themed lyrics and imagery. I was simultaneously blown away, yet also curious to know if it would even be possible for the band to match such a strong debut, let alone top it. With their much-anticipated sophomore release, Emblas Saga, set for release this coming January, and after giving it several listens, I now have the answer I was looking for: I’ll go into full detail below, but the short of it is, YES, the band has done it!

Like its predecessor, Emblas Saga has a very distinct feel to it, with a base sound that falls somewhat in line with epic power metal bands like Sabaton and Powerwolf, but with a greater emphasis on symphonic arrangements, some folk elements, and a much more ambitious vocal setup. Musically, there’s a wide variety of tracks, just as on the debut, with a good mix of slow, powerful heavy metal, some more mid-paced melodic metal, some very speedy power metal, some more folk-infused tracks, and a couple of ballads. The one thing this album has that wasn’t found on the debut is a slightly longer, near-epic length title track, which is far more complex and ambitious than anything the band had previously attempted, and I’ll describe it further below, but needless to say, it delivers! While everything sounds perfect musically, with the guitars being suitably intense and melodic when needed, the folk melodies being beautiful, the symphonic arrangements being epic, and the production sounding powerful and crystal clear, the strongest aspects of the release are still the vocals and overall songwriting.

As before, the band has three vocalists, with Mats Nilsson largely being relegated to some incredibly epic backing vocals, as well as some of the best narration I’ve ever heard on a metal album, while Ylva Eriksson and Joakim Lindback Ericksson share lead vocal duties. Both leads are as impressive as ever before, with Joakim sounding wilder and more intense than ever, sometimes coming pretty close to death growls, while still sounding smooth, and Ylva’s deep, powerful yet also very smooth and accessible vocals are every bit as strong as on the debut. If anything, the latter is given more room to work with on this album, as Joakim is used more for harmonies a lot of the time (which are every bit as awesome as before), while Ylva tends to take the lead throughout most of the tracks, where she gets to shine, as she’s allowed to experiment a bit with different vocal styles, at times, including some far more aggressive vocals than anything we heard from her on the debut. Just like before, both vocalists are amazing on their own, but sound at their absolute best when paired together, and as talented as they are, credit must also be given to the material they’re working with, as some of the vocal melodies on this album are absolutely out of this world good, and quite a few tracks already left me stunned after just the first listen.

I’ve already hinted at it enough, so I’ll just get to the point and say: The songs on Emblas Saga are all perfect, as the album manages to have both some of the most diverse songwriting I’ve heard on a recent power metal album, as well as some of the most consistently catchy, melodic, epic and most memorable overall.

There’s a little something for everyone here, but more than that, there’s almost certainly something you may not think you’ll want until you hear it and then wish other bands could do something like it. The album opens with an epic intro track, titled “Brood of the Trickster”, which has some great cinematic orchestral arrangements, to go along with some awesome narration, which introduces the overarching concept of the album. I generally dislike narration on albums, but it’s handled perfectly here, only appearing on the intro and then briefly during a few later tracks, and it’s very dramatic and epic, while also being very well performed.

Following that epic intro, the first full song is “Powersnake”, a slow, hard-hitting track, which starts with some epic symphonic arrangements, heavy riffs, and epic chanting vocals, before settling into a nice rhythm for the opening verses, with pounding drums and awesome vocals by both leads. The track has some wonderful melodies, with the chorus being equal parts catchy and very melodic, and then in the second half, there’s a beautiful softer, folk-infused section, followed by awesome choral vocals and an amazing guitar solo. The track didn’t blow me away at first, but over time it’s become a favorite, and it gets the album off to an amazing start. Next is “Hel”, a fairly heavy, guitar-driven track with some insanely epic chanting early on, before speeding up for the opening verse. The track alternates between heavy, fast-paced verses, and a slow, beautiful chorus, with wonderful vocal harmonies, and while it’s another track that took a few listens to grab me, once it did, it sure never let go.

Being honest, the first song that blew me away on my initial listen was “Chain Breaker”, another speedy, hard-hitting track, which has a very classic metal feel to it. Joakim takes the lead with some wild, intense vocals during the verses, and then the chorus is frantic, heavy and by far the wildest moment the band has produced so far, with even Ylva coming close to screaming, and it very much has a classic heavy metal feel to it, awesomely. At the same time, the band manages to fit in some very nice melodic passages, both instrumentally and vocally, to help contrast the more intense moments, and so it ends up being an insanely addictive track. While that track is awesome enough, the real magic begins with “Kaunaz Dagaz”, one of the most wonderfully melodic and beautiful power metal tracks I’ve ever heard, while still being intense and fast-paced. It opens with a wonderful soft section, complete with some very beautiful vocals from Ylva, before speeding up and then giving way to some wonderful melodic guitar work, which falls close to the folk territory, except played entirely on guitar, and both the tone and melodies performed here are incredible. The track continues to pick up momentum with some epic harmonies during the verses, and then the chorus is absolutely beautiful, catchy, epic and just plain amazing in every possible way, all while being upbeat and fairly fast-paced, and the guitar solo in the second half is technically solid and quite nice sounding, while the sped-up final run through the chorus is pure gold. Overall, it’s an incredible track, and it certainly sounds unlike pretty much anything I’ve heard from a power metal band before. It’s hard to put into words what sounds different about it, but there’s just a little something to it that feels somewhat familiar, yet unfamiliar at the same time, and I love it.

Back to the more common, but still awesome territory, “Theft of the Hammer” is a rather comical tale, with hilarious lyrics, while the track moves along at a nice pace, not overly fast but still quite upbeat. Joakim takes lead again during the verses and delivers some intense, yet rather comedic vocals, which fit the track perfectly, while the chorus has more excellent harmonies, and is very catchy and extremely fun, while the second half has an excellent harmonized vocal section, and more epic narration. Overall, it’s a very fun track. Next is the first ballad, “Weaver of Fate”, which is largely driven by some wonderful acoustic guitar work and some nice, epic symphonic arrangements. It’s the quieter of the two ballads and has Ylva singing at her softest and most beautiful, which of course works perfectly, as she delivers a powerful, emotional performance, especially during the amazing chorus, while the guitar work gets pretty epic in the second half. While it’s only my second favorite of the two ballads on this album, it’s still an amazing track, for sure, and it’s just a testament to how good the second ballad is than any knock against this one. The first single from the album is “Njord”, a slow, but heavy and intense track, with some nice folk melodies, epic symphonic arrangements, stomping riffs, and a wonderful chorus, with excellent vocal melodies. The two leads both do a wonderful job throughout, and it’s a fun, epic and very catchy track.

The biggest surprise on the album is the title track, which begins with some wonderful chanting vocals from Ylva, which give way to some epic narration. The song is fairly slow-paced but does a great job of alternating between heavy parts, with some great riffs, and some melodic sections with wonderful melodies. The verses have alternating lead vocals, with both vocalists doing a terrific job, and they perform in a way that feels more like a musical, leaning heavily into the storytelling, while the chorus is epic, melodic, and extremely catchy, as usual. The track has some complex arrangements and takes some surprising turns in the second half, with plenty of memorable moments, including an extremely epic final run through the chorus, and while the band attempts a lot here, they manage to pull everything off perfectly, so it’s up being both their most ambitious track to date, as well as one of their absolute best. Moving towards the end, “Brothers Unite” is a rather laid back, though still upbeat track, with some very epic drum work, as well as more amazing symphonic arrangements, and some very triumphant sounding melodies.

It’s a very fun, catchy and wonderfully melodic track, with some of the best-harmonized vocals on the entire album, as Joakim gets quite intense at points, while the choral vocals towards the end are stunning, and t’s a wonderful track, overall. The second ballad on the album, as well as the second single, is “One”, and this is a much more epic, cinematic ballad compared to the earlier ballad, starting with some epic vocals from Joakim during the verses, which give way to possibly the single best chorus I’ve heard this year, and the band goes all out with some incredible vocal melodies and uplifting lyrics, for one of the most emotional, powerful, epic, and just overall beautiful choruses I’ve ever heard on a ballad. It’s an unbelievably epic track from start to finish, with everything from the symphonic arrangements to the vocals, to the lyrics, to the dramatic narration and the guitar solo in the second half all being incredible. In another review, I mentioned “Where the Wild Wolves Have Gone” by Powerwolf being possibly my favorite metal ballad in recent years, and this track is right up there with that, as it’s an absolute masterpiece.

Moving back to the speedy territory, “Ride of the Valkyries” (which has nothing to do with Richard Wagner) is a heavy, intense track with some of the best guitar work on the album, both from the riffs and excellent melodic solo work in the second half. It charges along at a frantic pace and has more intense vocals and epic melodies, as well as one of the most fun, catchy choruses on the album. It’s one of the most energetic tracks, for sure, and is another instant favorite. Closing out the album is “To the Skies and Beyond”, another mid-paced, but very upbeat track, with triumphant lyrics and melodies, as well as more epic symphonic arrangements and beautiful folk melodies. Early on, there are some beautiful softer passages, and the verses are very light and melodic, while the chorus has some vocal melodies that are just so damn emotional, epic and beautiful, they feel too good to be of this world. The track gets more upbeat and epic as it goes on, with the end sequence, in particular, being stunning, with Ylva giving an incredible vocal performance, while Joakim continues to provide some outstanding harmonies.

I know this review has been repetitive in praising the vocal harmonies, melodies and overall epic feel and awesomeness of this album, but that is because words fail to do the music justice, at this point, and I’m pretty much at a loss on what to say, except that this album and band are just absolutely incredible! Brothers of Metal immediately left their mark on the genre back in 2017 with their debut, and Emblas Saga builds on that release, presenting another diverse collection of songs, which further explores everything that made the band’s debut so special while going even further and at times showing new sides to the band. Fans of the debut, as well as fans of Sabaton or Powerwolf, are highly recommended to give this a listen, and anyone looking for the next big thing in power metal should pay attention, as I don’t see how any other new or upcoming bands can match this! Brothers of Metal have already proven themselves more than worthy of entering Valhalla, but hopefully, Odin allows them to stay on Earth for a while longer yet, so they can give us mere mortals more wonderful music to enjoy!

originally written for myglobalmind.com: https://myglobalmind.com/2019/12/14/brothers-of-metal-emblas-saga-review/


Album · 2019 · Power Metal
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For the first time in a while, it seems safe to say German power metal band Human Fortress have fully settled down, and stabilized their lineup. To say the band had some struggles following their acclaimed second album, Defenders of the Crown, would be a massive understatement, as that led to a massive lineup change, followed by the widely reviled Eternal Empire. Following that, the band was on hiatus for a while, before returning with the excellent comeback album, Raided Empire, with a largely changed lineup. They then released Thieves of the Night three years later, which followed suit, and now three more years later, the band is set to release their sixth full-length album, Reign of Gold, which marks the first time the band has ever gone three straight albums with the same lineup. With all that said, I was expecting great things from the album, and for the most part, it delivers.

Fans of past albums from the band should have a good idea of what to expect, as Reign of Gold very much falls in line with the previous two releases, especially, while at times showing traces of some of the more experimental work on their first two albums. Musically, this is at times some very hard-hitting power metal, while at other times being remarkably restrained, with the tempos varying greatly from track to track. Songwriting is great, for the most part, with a few tracks being especially amazing, while a couple of others fall a bit short. For the most part, it’s largely a guitar-driven album, with duo guitarists Torsten Wolf and Volker Trost providing some excellent riffs, solos, and melodic guitar work, while Dirk Liehm’s keys are largely in the background, setting the mood and adding to the atmosphere for most tracks. Performances are strong across the board, with Gus Monsanto sounding as powerful, yet smooth as always, and while a couple of tracks have some weak choruses, he still does the best he can with them, and shines through on many other tracks, sounding suitably intense at points, while also using his awesome, soaring power metal vocals at other points. My one complaint about the overall sound is that the production seems a bit weaker and less polished compared to what I’m used to hearing from the band. It doesn’t sound bad, but guitars don’t quite have the same crunch as normal, and drums are barely audible, at times.

The most important part of any album is, of course, the songwriting, and for the most part, Reign of Gold delivers in that area. Following a nice, brief intro track, “Thunder” kicks things off in fine form, with an epic tease at the chorus, followed by a fairly mid-paced opening verse, with nice drum beats and powerful vocals. The song moves along at a nice pace and has one of the strongest choruses on the album, as well as some of Monsanto’s most powerful vocals, and it sets the bar very high for the rest of the album, while the melodic guitar solo in the second half is brief but quite nice. Next is the title track, which moves at a faster pace during the verses, with more intense drumming, nice rhythm guitar work and some nice keys leading the way. The chorus is when things pick up, though, as what sounds like a second vocalist takes the lead, with some very wild and intense vocals, to go along with some outstanding lyrics and vocal melodies, which help make it easily the best chorus on the entire album. The solo in the middle is very melodic, somewhat classic heavy metal style, and is much more extended than the one on the opening track. Overall, it’s one of the best tracks on the album.

Next is one of the more experiment tracks, “Lucifer’s Waltz”, a darker, slower-paced and more atmospheric track. Aside from a heavy main riff, this track is quite restrained, instead opting for a more laid back, atmospheric approach, with a strong focus on keys and symphonic elements to set the tone. The verses are nice, with a foreboding feel to them, but the choruses fall quite flat and just don’t have to do anything to grab attention, as one would expect. Overall, it’s not one of my favorites, but it’s an interesting track, for sure, and I can see some people loving it. Next is “Bullet of Betrayal”, another slower paced track, though this one has a more upbeat feel to it, with some rather uplifting folk melodies. Verses are slow but fun, and the instrumental work is great throughout, but again, the chorus falls a bit flat, as the vocal melodies just aren’t very strong, and it’s the one time on the whole album where Monsanto sounds a bit forced. He more than makes up for that on “Shining Light”, though, a beautiful piano ballad with nice use of symphonic elements. The verses are fairly calm and do a great job of setting the tone, while the chorus is also fairly restrained the first time through, but becomes more epic later on, and Monsanto’s performance is equal parts emotional, powerful and just phenomenal all around, while the lyrics and melodies are also fantastic, so it just ends up being an amazing ballad, overall.

Pushing towards the end, another personal favorite is “Surrender”, the heaviest track on the album. It starts with some slow, brutal verses with crushing riffs and intense vocals, before speeding up for an all-out power metal assault during the chorus, with some of Monsanto’s most intense and powerful vocals I’ve ever heard, and the instrumental section in the second half is extremely epic. Next is “The Blacksmith”, which is a bit of a frustrating track. The verses have a slight hard rock edge to them, and the track alternates nicely between speedy and mid-paced passages, while the vocal melodies are strong throughout. However, I find many albums I’ve reviewed lately have had that one track or two where the keyboards bother me, and that’s the case for this track, as the keyboards during the chorus are very distracting, sound awful when mixed in with everything else, and just completely ruin an otherwise great track.

Thankfully, it’s all uphill from there, with all three remaining tracks being fantastic. First up is “Martial Valor”, a slightly folk-influenced heavy metal track, with some pretty heavy riffs during the verses. The track moves along at a slow pace and has some rather intense verses, to go along with an excellent, very melodic chorus, with some fantastic vocal melodies, and it’s one of the catchiest songs on the album, while the folk melodies throughout are quite wonderful. The first single for the album is “Legion of the Damned”, a speedy, hard-hitting symphonic power metal track, which moves along at a frantic pace throughout, with Monsanto showing both his soaring vocals and some more intense, near screaming vocals in equal measure, with everything sounding great, especially during the outstanding chorus. Closing out the album is “Victory”, a mid-paced track with a slight folk feel to it, especially during the chorus. There’s some wonderful melodies throughout the track, as well as some nice riffs, and the chorus is particularly awesome, and one of the catchiest on the album. It’s an excellent track, overall, and a great way to end the album.

Human Fortress has been going strong for these past six years, with their previous two albums being some of their best work ever, and while Reign of Gold hits a couple of speed bumps along the way, it largely follows suit, with an excellent mix of power metal, heavy metal and some symphonic and folk elements sprinkled throughout. Longtime fans of the band should be pleased, while anyone else looking for some great, slightly hard-edged power metal, with a diverse collection of tracks, is also highly recommended to give this a listen. With their lineup seemingly stabilized, at this point, one can only hope the band keeps delivering more and greater albums in the future.

originally written for myglobalmind.com: https://myglobalmind.com/2019/11/30/human-fortress-reign-of-gold-review/


Album · 2019 · Power Metal
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For the last 20+ years, Belgium guitarist Dushan Petrossi has been a very productive, very reliable musician/songwriter, releasing several excellent, somewhat under the radar, power metal albums between his two main projects, Iron Mask and Magic Kingdom. While the second Iron Mask release, Hordes of the Brave, remains his most highly regarded work to date, nothing he’s released (aside from perhaps the ill-fated Magic Kingdom debut, The Arrival) has been anything less than solid, while most of it has been excellent, and so I always look forward to hearing new music from him. In recent years, he’s been alternating between his two main bands, with the excellent Magic Kingdom album Savage Requiem in 2015, and then the very strong Iron Mask release Diabolica in 2016, and so it’s no surprise to see him back three years later with the fifth full-length Magic Kingdom release, MetAlmighty. While I’ve enjoyed all albums I’ve heard from both bands, MetAlmighty is easily my favorite in recent years, and may have even surpassed Hordes of the Brave to become my all-time favorite!

For fans of either band, this album won’t be much of a surprise, as while Petrossi’s style has evolved a lot over the years, he’s settled down quite a bit on his most recent releases, with each of them striking a nice balance between the many different aspects of his music, and MetAlmighty is no exception. In fact, it may just be his most varied, dynamic release to date, with everything from classic, in your face power metal, to some of his heaviest material to date, to some fun, folk-infused heavy metal, to some epic symphonic power metal, traces of his classic neo-classical power metal sound, some nice melodic metal, and even a very nice ballad. There’s a little something for everyone on this album, and while there’s nothing overly new or original, everything is executed wonderfully, with no less than an excellent song on the entire album. The only criticism I could make against the album is that the production is weaker than I’ve come to expect, with the overall mix feeling a bit muddy. The guitars and vocals still sound excellent, but drums lack a bit of impact, and the overall sound isn’t quite as powerful as I’d like, though it’s still decent. While all musicians do a great job, Petrossi is the star of the show, as always, and his guitar work is as outstanding as ever. He does a bit of everything, from some of his hardest sounding riffs to date, to some classic neo-classical shredding (though it’s limited to quick bursts, for the most part), to some classic heavy metal style galloping riffs, to some excellent solos, as well as some of his softest, most melodic guitar work ever. There’s a lot of variety to the album, and he does a fantastic job with everything he attempts. While the album is very guitar-driven, there are some keyboards here and there, and they’re used nicely as well, and some tracks have some epic symphonic arrangements, as usual.

One thing which has always been true of either Magic Kingdom or Iron Mask is the constant change in vocalists, and so it’s no surprise that MetAlmighty once again has a different voice behind the mic. This time around, Obsession/ex-Loudness vocalist Michael Vescera has lent his voice to the album, and he does an excellent job, as usual. He’s been around for close to four decades, now, singing in many different bands, and so it’s no surprise he sounds comfortable on this album and has given easily my favorite vocal performance on any Dushan Petrossi release to date. He has a deep, powerful voice, and while he has been known to get a bit animated and over the top at times, he’s fairly restrained here, mostly singing very smoothly, and carrying the many epic choruses flawlessly. His voice is naturally very powerful, and so even without going over the top, he’s capable of delivering an intense, fiery performance, and for someone who’s been around as long as he has, he still sounds very energetic, and his voice is still holding up as well as ever.

As amazing an album as MetAlmighty is, it’s somewhat surprising that Petrossi decided to put the absolute best track, right at the beginning. Indeed, opener “Unleash the Dragon” is stunning, from its epic opening orchestral section to its extended instrumental intro that lasts just over three minutes, and then hitting a peak with its glorious chorus and awesome solo section in the second half. This track is perfect from start to finish, with some epic symphonic arrangements, energetic verses with some pummeling rhythm guitars and great vocals, and of course Vescera excels with some epic, soaring vocals during the chorus, and then Petrossi slays during the late instrumental sequence. Everything about the song is just incredible.

While nothing else can top that opening, the remaining tracks don’t leave much behind, either. Next is lead single “Wizards and Witches”, a fairly upbeat, mid-paced power metal track, which falls on the more melodic side of Petrossi’s music. It still has some nice riffs, and fun verses, but the chorus, in particular, is very melodic, very catchy, and the track is quite restrained compared to many of his other tracks, while still being tons of fun, especially the chorus. Slowing things down further is “In the Den of the Mountain Trolls”, an epic folk-infused heavy metal track, which has some very nice folk melodies throughout, and almost feels closer to tavern music than metal for most of its duration, though has a nice rhythm to it, as well as some fun verses, a very catchy chorus, and an excellent solo section, where the tempo briefly picks up, with epic results. I initially wasn’t too sure about the track, but it has grown on me a lot over several listens and is certainly one of the more unique tracks on the album.

Back to speedier power metal territory, second single “Fear My Fury” is a more classic feeling track, moving at a fast and furious pace throughout, with harder riffs than any of the previous tracks, as well as some very energetic verses, a very intense, epic chorus, and an awesome instrumental section with some nods to classical music, as longtime fans would expect. For the next while, the album alternates nicely between fast and slower tracks, with “Rise from the Ashes Demon” slowing things down again. The main melody has a nice Middle Eastern vibe to it, while the guitar work alternates between slow, heavy chugs during the verses and some nice melodic classic heavy metal style sections during the chorus. It’s a fairly laid backtrack, but again has a nice rhythm to it, and the chorus is very nice. Speeding things up again, the title track is one of the most straight-forward power metal tracks here, with some nice, melodic rhythm guitars, speedy tempos throughout, and a very fun, fast-paced chorus, as well as some excellent solo work in the second half. Unsurprisingly, the next track, “So Fragile”, is a return to softer, more subdued territory, and it’s one of the most laid back tracks here, falling closer to melodic metal than anything else. It has some nice symphonic arrangements, and some beautiful melodic lead guitar work, as well as an especially melodic, epic and very smoothly sung chorus, which stands as one of the best on the album. It’s a very nice track, overall.

While the second half isn’t quite as strong as the first half, overall, there are two big standouts to be found, the first of which is “Temple of No Gods”, another very classic sounding track, with a nice mix between slow-paced, intense verses with nice symphonic arrangements, a very fast, catchy and melodic chorus, and an excellent neo-classical influenced solo section. The lone ballad of the album is “Just a Good Man”, a very beautiful, heavily symphonic track, with epic arrangements, strong vocals, and some very beautiful guitar work throughout, especially in the second half, while Vescara gives a very smooth, emotional and powerful vocal performance.

The second big standout in the second half is “Dark Night, Dark Thoughts”, the most neo-classical influenced track on the album, where just the lead guitar work alone should bring back fond memories of some of Petrossi’s classic works, while the song overall has a frantic pace, with intense verses, a very catchy, melodic chorus, and some of his absolute best guitar work. It’s definitely an instant classic, and one I’m sure longtime fans of his are sure to love. Closing out the album is “King Without a Crown”, which alternates nicely between some slow, melodic verses and a speedy, epic chorus, with some excellent symphonic arrangements used throughout. While it’s not as intense as the previous track, it’s still very fun and enjoyable, overall, and it closes the album out nicely.

Dushan Petrossi never disappoints, and while Magic Kingdom seemed to have been pushed to the background for a while, that seems to have changed, with Savage Requiem being a nice comeback album, and now MetAlmighty is perhaps his absolute best album to date! It’s certainly one that should please his fans, as it has a bit of everything, with some excellent classic power metal, traces of his signature neo-classical guitar flourishes, some epic symphonic arrangements, some more melodic moments and bursts of heavy metal. It’s one of his most varied releases to date and has some of the best, most consistent songwriting to date. Any power metal fan is highly recommended to give this album a release, as enough is going on that anyone interested in the genre should at least find something to like, and everything is executed near perfectly. I always enjoy Petrossi’s music, and if anything, this may be my absolute favorite album he’s ever released, and so I hope he can keep the magic going for many more years to come!

originally written for myglobalmind.com: https://myglobalmind.com/2019/11/21/magic-kingdom-metalmighty-review/

VISION DIVINE When All the Heroes Are Dead

Album · 2019 · Power Metal
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I have a bit of a strange relationship with Italian power metal band Vision Divine. Unlike many, I was never too impressed by their earlier works, with the acclaimed album The Perfect Machine, in particular, failing to grab my attention. Also unlike many, the album that finally hooked me in and got me to take note of the band was 9 Degrees West of the Moon, a very light and melodic album, with some outstanding choruses and vocal melodies, as well as some nice progressive arrangements.

Following that album, the band released Destination Set to Nowhere, a heavier, more modernized album with a strong progressive feel to it. That release, in particular, impressed me and stands to date as my favorite release by the band. When I heard they had parted ways with Fabio Lione and had brought in Derdian vocalist Ivan Giannini, I was excited to see how their sound would change with him as a vocalist, as he’s become one of my favorite Italian singers in recent years. Late in 2018, the band released a single titled “Angel of Revenge”, which instantly blew me away, and raised the bar for any future releases, as well as my expectations. Now, the band is set to release their eighth full length album, When All the Heroes Are Dead, and while it falls a bit short of what I was hoping for, based on the single, it’s still an excellent album, and stands as one of the band’s better releases, for sure.

Compared to Destination Set to Nowhere, When All the Heroes Are Dead feels like a slightly more straight-forward release. It does still have traces of the prog elements found on its predecessor, as well as the occasional use of symphonic arrangments, but the songwriting is generally fairly simple, with no song going much beyond the 5-minute mark, and there aren’t any huge surprises. Instead, it’s a heavy-hitting, largely guitar-driven power metal album, with some nice sounding modern sounding keyboards, that certainly brings later Stratovarius to mind. That comparison holds up particularly well on many of the speedier tracks, which are fun, melodic and very catchy in ways that bring the Finnish band to mind, while the slower tracks are generally solid but a little bit lacking, by comparison.

The entire album is high energy, with excellent performances all around, both from long-time members like guitarist Olaf Thörsen and bassist Andrea Torricini, as well as the two new members, Ivan Giannini and veteran drummer Mike Terrana, with the latter sounding excellent no matter what band he’s with, and this album is certainly no exception. Ivan also sounds great, as always, alternating nicely between some very powerful, gritty vocals and much lighter, soaring power metal vocals, as well as singing very softly on occasion. He fits the band perfectly, and especially excels on some of the more explosive choruses, though he sounds great on softer sections as well, of course. Production is also superb, with everything sounding clear and powerful, and that is no surprise, seeing as DGM’s Simone Mularoni is responsible for mixing and mastering.

The only area where the album doesn’t fully meet expectations is the songwriting. There aren’t any weak songs here, to be sure, but I find aside from a couple of particular highlights, a lot of the album is just lacking some kinda spark, some special quality to make it stand above the pack. I mentioned “Angel of Revenge” earlier, and that song has that special something. It’s a very epic, speedy symphonic power metal track, with some very epic orchestral arrangements, heavy guitar work at times, and it’s a very bombastic track, but it also alternates nicely between some very soft sections and heavier sections, which is something it does wonderfully. Verses alternate between slow and mid-paced sections, while the chorus goes full speed ahead, and is absolutely incredible, with some very epic vocal melodies, where Ivan goes all out and sounds spectacular, especially during the final chorus, while the instrumental sections are equally excellent, with a wonderful guitar/keyboard solo sequence in the second half, and overall, it just feels like everything really came together to help make it quite possibly my favorite Vision Divine song ever. Unfortunately, that track is only a Digipack bonus, so some versions of the album don’t even have it at all, which I consider a big disappointment, as while there are some other excellent tracks on the album, nothing else quite reaches the levels of perfection that song does.

Usually I’d save the bonus track for near the end of a review, but in this case, I felt I had to bring it up early, both because of how good it is, but also because it feels like other tracks on the album try to match it, without quite getting there. In particular, “On the Ides of March” feels very similar, with some nice keys and it alternates between soft and heavy passages nicely, but it just doesn’t quite do it in a memorable way as “Angel of Revenge”. It does have an excellent, speedy chorus, though, and is still a great song, overall. Other songs that don’t quite reach the level I expect from the band are “Fall from Grace”, a solid but unspectacular mid-paced track, with more nice keys and fairly heavy verses. It’s a nice track, overall, with the verses being quite fun, but the chorus feels a bit weak, and overall, the song doesn’t leave much of an impression. Likewise, the two ballads on the album “While the Sun is Turning Black” and closing track “The Nihil Propaganda” are both nice tracks, with some big vocal moments from Ivan, but neither of them quite come together as well as they should, with the former in particular having a nice guitar solo and some great vocal moments, but it just never fully takes off and lacks anything really impressive, while the latter is a light piano ballad, which feels like it gets cut off a bit too quickly, so it isn’t really given enough space to fully develop, though what’s there is pretty nice, with some particularly soft and deep vocals from Ivan.

Moving back to the positive side of things, following a nice intro track, “The 26th Machine” is an absolute killer of an opening track, with more epic symphonic arrangements, blistering fast-paced verses, hard-hitting riffs, and an amazing chorus, with some of Ivan’s absolute best vocals on the album, while the solo section towards the end is fairly brief, but also quite excellent. Overall, it’s an extremely fast, fun and very addictive track and is probably my favorite main album track here. If that one isn’t my favorite, then it’s “300”, the second last track on the album. This one starts with some nice acoustic guitar work and nicer modern keys, before fully speeding up in time for the first verse. This is another very explosive, very heavy guitar-driven track, with some of the best riffs on the album, as well as another epic chorus, where Ivan shines, and a very fun instrumental section, where the keys bring Stratovarius to mind.

Sticking with the highlights, lead single “3 Men Walk on the Moon” is another high energy, speedy power metal track with some very melodic guitar work, as well as more nice modern keys. It slows done slightly during the verses, for more of an atmospheric feel with the keys, but then fully speeds up during the chorus. I love the instrumental work and the verses, but I find the chorus lacks any real memorable hooks, which is why I couldn’t quite put the song on the level as the above-mentioned highlights, even though it is still an excellent track, overall. In similar territory are the “almost” title track “Now That All the Heroes are Dead” and “The King of the Sky”, which are both excellent speedy power metal tracks, with great choruses. The former again goes for some softer sections during the verses, and does a nice job, but it doesn’t quite have the same magic as “Angel of Revenge”, while the latter is perhaps the most straight-forward track on the album, just going all out with heavy riffs, frantic drum patterns, epic modern keys, a fun solo section, and a very strong chorus. It’s another excellent track, that falls maybe a slight step below the best on the album, but it’ll please anyone looking for some fun, classic power metal. Lastly, while I find most of the slower tracks on this album to be solid, but unspectacular, “Were I God” is an exception to the rule. It’s a rather light, slower-paced track, with a heavy reliance on some rather melancholy keys, and it has some very downbeat verses, with a huge, catchy chorus, where Ivan provides some of his best vocals on the album. The lyrics are dark but fit the music well, and it’s very catchy, if bleak, track overall, and is a big step above all other slow-paced tracks on the album.

Overall, When All the Heroes Are Dead is another great album, which takes Vision Divine into a slightly more straight-forward, heavy-hitting direction compared to its most recent predecessor, largely cutting back on the prog elements, while fully doubling down on their classic power metal elements. This results in an album that doesn’t quite have enough memorable or special moments to make it stand out from the pack, but it’s still a consistently entertaining release, with all songs varying between solid and amazing. Fans of the band should be pleased, as Ivan Giannini fits in perfectly and does a wonderful job, while newcomers looking for some fun, speedy melodic power metal with a bit of an edge, should also find a lot to enjoy. I think Destination Set to Nowhere remains my favorite from the band, but this release isn’t too far behind, and I get the feeling they’re still capable of eventually topping that release, in the future. I just hope that next time around, the best track isn’t cut from the main album.

originally written for myglobalmind.com: https://myglobalmind.com/2019/10/20/vision-divine-when-all-the-heroes-are-dead-review/

METALITE Biomechanicals

Album · 2019 · Trance Metal
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In 2017, Swedish melodic metal band Metalite quietly released a very impressive debut, titled Heroes in Time. The album could best be described as modern melodic metal along the lines of Amaranthe and Temperance, with a blend of power metal and trance elements, and while there were some traces of heavy guitar work, the main focus was on the big, soaring melodies. While the album didn’t quite reach the heights of my favorite albums by either of the aforementioned bands, it was still a very fun release, and so I was excited to see what the band would do on future releases. Their second full-length release, Biomechanicals, is now almost here, and the band has taken everything that worked on their debut and expanded upon it, to make an even better album, that certainly does rival the absolute best albums in the genre! Stylistically, not much has changed, as Biomechanicals is still a very modern sounding album, with a huge focus on uplifting melodies, huge choruses, and some of the best vocal melodies I’ve ever heard on an album of this kind. The trance elements from the debut have been expanded upon even further, with the digital effects being pushed further to the absolute front of the sound, and while perhaps my one complaint would be that a couple of sections go a tad overboard with these effects and sound a bit off-putting, the approach works great for the most part, with the keys adding a ton of flavor to the music, and they certainly work well more often than not. Obviously, though, this is still a metal album, and so while the vocal melodies and keys are the main focus, there’s still some very solid guitar work, with some occasional heavy bits, sometimes pushing close to djent territory, (though always doing so in an effective way that doesn’t sound grating in the least), while there’s also a ton of excellent melodic guitar work, especially during some excellent solos.

Songwriting is largely similar to the debut, with a nice mix of mid-paced tracks, some upbeat tracks with a large focus on the trance elements, some speedier tracks with a strong power metal influence, some slower parts and an excellent ballad. All songs are straight-forward, very melodic and extremely catchy, with all choruses being incredible. In my review of Heroes in Time, I said the band had room to experiment with more complex or experimental songwriting, and that still holds true, but the performances on this album, as well as the overall melodies, take things to such a high level, the lack of anything complex isn’t as noticeable, as the band simply does an incredible job at writing fun, engaging, catchy and incredibly melodic songs. Everything sounds extremely polished, powerful and crystal clear, so I’d say the production and overall performances are both perfect.

The one notable change in between albums is the departure of vocalist Emma Bensing, with her role now being filled by Erica Ohlsson. While Emma was a very capable vocalist and gave a solid performance on the debut, Erica takes things to a whole new level, and her performance is perhaps the biggest difference between albums, as she manages to take some already excellent vocal melodies, and turn them into some of the absolute best I’ve ever heard! She has a deeper, more powerful voice than her predecessor, while still sounding very smooth and being capable of singing in a way that sounds accessible, and somewhat pop-ish, which fits perfectly with the overall sound of the band. She alternates between low and high, soft and powerful notes flawlessly, always performs with high energy, and whenever she’s called upon to step up her game towards the end of a track, she kills it every time. This is probably the most excited I’ve been by a vocal performance on an album of this type since hearing Nils Molin on Dynazty’s Renatus, and while the overall album doesn’t quite reach that level of brilliance, Erica’s vocals are perfect!

While the performances are certainly top-notch, the songwriting is also excellent, with no less than great tracks, and there are a ton of huge highlights to be found. Starting things off is lead single “Far from the Sanctuary”, which is fairly similar to “Afterlife” from the band’s debut, and is a perfect indication of what to expect from the album. It’s a fairly fast-paced, quite upbeat track, with a nice blend between modern-sounding trance keys and some nice rhythm guitar work, as well as an excellent, very melodic solo in the second half. Erica shines immediately, nailing the verses and then knocking out the chorus with some intense, yet very smooth vocals, while the chorus is itself is very fun and catchy, making it a perfect fit both as a lead single, and an opening track. Next is the second single “Apocalypse”.

This is one of two tracks I initially struggled with a bit, as the digital effects are a little bit distracting during the verses, and some of the sounds feel a tad overdone, but the vocals are still more than good enough to keep the verses enjoyable, while the chorus is slow-paced but very catchy, and the track overall has a very strong Amaranthe feel to it, and there’s a nice groove to the track. The highlights are an absolutely beautiful, technically proficient guitar solo towards the end, as well as the final chorus, where Erica goes all out and sounds incredible!

In similar territory to that one is the title track, which has some very heavy, somewhat djent-ish guitar work early on. It starts slow and heavy but opens up with some nice melodies before the first chorus kicks in, and from there it speeds up, with some nice trance keys that aren’t too overpowering, and of course, the vocal melodies are excellent, and the chorus is very catchy. The first real speedy track on the album is “Warrior”, which briefly teases some very modern sounding trance keys, before some nice melodic guitar work kicks in, and while the verses are more mid-paced, the track speeds up quite a bit for the chorus, which is equal parts intense, catchy, tons of fun and absolutely unbelievably melodic. Like, this track is pretty much as light and melodic as a song can get, while still clearly being a metal track. It’s a wonderful track, overall, but the final run through the chorus is stunning, with the melodies almost being overwhelmingly beautiful, while the vocals are incredible and very powerful. While I love the entire album, this is easily my favorite track the band has released so far.

Following up that stunner, “Mind of a Monster” is another light, very upbeat track, with some strong pop sensibilities and heavy trance elements throughout. It’s fairly fast-paced, but never fully speeds up, and it’s a very light, melodic track, with a strong focus on the keys, and again, the vocals are the clear driving point, and are amazing, as always, with the chorus being extremely addictive and catchy. The momentum continues with “World on Fire”, one of the faster-paced, more clearly power metal influenced tracks on the album. It’s still fairly light, upbeat and highly trance infused, but it also has some nice driving guitars, more intense drumming, and moves at a very quick pace throughout, with very fun verses, and another super catchy and melodic chorus, as well as a very strong guitar solo towards the end. Rounding out this sequence of speedy tracks is “Eye of the Storm”, which starts out a bit slow and heavy, with an equal balance between thick guitars, modern trance keys and powerful vocals, but it speeds up dramatically for the chorus, which is another absolute winner, though the keyboard sequence that comes right after maybe the highlight of the track, along with a very speedy, heavily power metal-infused solo section, and the final run through the chorus, which is stunning as always.

While the album is excellent the whole way through, the quality drops off very slightly for the final four tracks, as none of them quite reach the heights of earlier tracks. The lone ballad of the album is “Breakaway”, a very pop-sounding track, with some rather bouncy keyboards and drums, and it serves as a nice vocal showcase for Erica, who of course shines as brightly as always, particularly during the final chorus, where she pours in a ton of emotion, and sings with a lot of power, helping to make it a memorable moment. The very beautiful, emotional guitar solo in the second half is also excellent. The final upbeat track on the album is “Social Butterflies”, which never fully speeds up, but it has some nice heavy guitar work, as well as some very nice digital effects, and it’s a very bright and upbeat track, with an extremely catchy, pop-infused chorus. Closing out the album are “Rise of the Phoenix”, a fairly light and melodic track which feels very similar to some slower Amaranthe tracks, with the chorus being its biggest highlight, and “Victory or Death”, another slower track, which alternates between some heavy guitar work and more very bouncy keys, which manage to sound quite nice. The chorus is quite fun and catchy, and it’s a nice way to close out the album, but I find it doesn’t hit quite as hard as most songs in the middle of the album, with tracks 4-7, in particular, being my favorite sequence, by far.

With Heroes in Time, Metalite announced their presence and established themselves as a potentially great band, and Biomechanicals shows them pushing their sound further, and represents one of the best modern melodic metal albums I’ve heard in the past few years. While there isn’t anything overly complex or surprising here, the performances are incredible across the board, while the songwriting is consistently excellent and full of some amazing choruses, as well as some of the best vocal melodies I’ve ever heard on a metal album, while new vocalist Erica Ohlsson is fantastic. Fans of their debut should love this, and I’d also recommend it for fans of Amaranthe, Temperance or the last three Dynazty albums, as well as anyone looking for some light, melodic metal with excellent vocals. I still think the band could potentially make an even better album, but this release shows them unleashing more of their potential, and they’ve already proven themselves as a band to watch out for in the future.

originally written or myglobalmind.com: https://myglobalmind.com/2019/10/20/metalite-biomechanicals-review/

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