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6FT DOWN..'INVITATION TO ANESTHESIA'

(413 Tracks) Reviewed 21st December 2010

Stablemates of the awesome Soundwitch I reviewed a short while ago, despite their name 6ft Down are also a gothic alt metal band but without the electronica, instead they have a more direct metal metal sound that leans towards Lacuna Coil and nu metal. Fronted by another superb singer with perfect English, the lovely Nao joined the band after their 2008 debut Squall and she is also pretty nifty on the old ivories as well. They open their trench with 'Fanatic for Rejection', the finest song Lacuna Coil have never recorded, supported by an excellent if rather scary video (On the Female Voices Blog) and top notch production job with enough bass to wake the dead. They continue in similar vein for the next four immense numbers stuffed with Takeo's monster riffage, Qoo's clanking bass, Taichi' pounding drums and Nao's catchy melodies, including the seriously groovy 'Drown in a Whirl'. Then just when you think you've sussed this bunch out, Nao takes a seat at the pianoforte, and we suddenly have a very different kettle of fish. 'Forgive Me' is an infectious piano laced pop metal tune followed by two gorgeous and deceptively simple piano and voice ballads including the outstanding 'Thank You', a song so tender and her voice so vulnerable there won't be a dry eye in the house. The lads rejoin Nao and the interlude ends with the incredible mini epic 'The Voice'. Nao then takes her place back at the front of stage and normal service is resumed for the final 3 mega tracks, including the ferociously angry final cut 'Vengeance' where Nao lets out one of her blood curdling screams. This is another cracking release by 413 Tracks, so if you like gothic metal deep down and dirty then dig your way to http://web.mac.com/six6ftdown/iWeb/Site/top.html, or it can be unearthed from CD Japan and other undertakers, a dead good 8.75/10 (Reviewed by Phil)

69 CHAMBERS..'WAR ON THE INSIDE'

(Nightmare Records/SPV) Reviewed 15th June 2009

It's time to rock and Swiss rockers 69 Chambers have a winner here. Fronted by the sexy Nina Tremi (that is her on the cover!), 'War On The Inside' gets underway with the heavy and catchy 'The Day Of The Locust'. The heaviness continues with 'Bloodaxe' while 'Thinking About You' provides quite a poppy and catchy chorus. A fave track of mine on this cd however is 'Ex Nihilo', which starts of with a rather atmospheric and haunting vibe, before the guitars crash in. The second half of the record, although remaining heavy, does slow down a bit, but overall, this album offers up a good dose of modern female fronted hard rock/heavy metal. It is an interesting release and I am hooked! 8/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

69 CHAMBERS...'TORQUE'

(Massacre Records) Reviewed 23rd March 2012

69 Chambers is a Swiss trio of musicians, who released their debut 'War on The Inside' on Nightmare Records, and was reviewed by me in June 2009. Now on Massacre Records, the band has come up with their somophore effort, that continues on very nicely from where their previous album left off. Opener and in yer face rocker 'Cause and Effect' gets the record underway, with this track featuring Eluveitie’s Chrigel Glanzmann on guest vocals, and the band has certainly laid down the gauntlet with this heavy and melodic opener. Second track up 'Bring On The Flood' showcases the vocal power of Nina Vetterli-Treml as do many other numbers on this record. It has been proven again and again that girls in metal can rock, and what I like about the vocals of Nina, who is also the bassist in the band is that she offers a pop sensibility to her vocal style, which combines rather nicely with the downtuned riffs, battering drums, driving bass, infectious melodies and catchy choruses that the band offers up. Listen to the grunge infused 'Naughty, Naughty, Naughty' and 'Burn Some Gasoline' for proof of what I am saying - awesome guitar solos too! Then we have 'Your Fool' that screams mainstream radio airplay - a hit single if ever I heard one!! The album closes with the power ballad 'Elegy', while confirming that the record itself is hard rock at it's finest, coupled with a strong sense of melody. It gets released on April 27th, is highly recommended and will be worth spending some of that hard earnt cash.... 8.75/10 (Dave)

SABINAS REX..'A ROCK OPERA'

(Independent Release) Reviewed 24th February 2009

This is an 8 track promotional highlights cd, which although gives a good idea as to what is on offer on 'A Rock Opera', it is difficult to get a handle as to what is going on, as this is not the full album. However, I feel that after listening to this, I would like to get my grubby paws on the full release as and when available. This New York based band is led by project mastermind Vlado Kormos, and this masterpiece that was composed between 2004 and 2008, shares male and female vox (angelic female vocals by Cara Lynn Robinson by the way). It is imperative to know the story of 'A Rock Opera' to be able to sit through the collection of tracks, as each of the singer's vocal styles does fit with their individual characters quite nicely. The music on offer I would call classical european symphonic orchestral rock/metal, right up my alleyway really, and what I hear on this promo, would also appeal to any AOR fans out there. Taking into account the rather awesome intro (Church organ, synths and the like), I understand that there will be 20 songs on the full release, and the songs on this promo release seem to be the rather more laid back ones. In summary, I like this, so check out www.myspace.com/sabinasrexopera to find out what it is all about, as I feel this has the makings of a classic. 8/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

SACRAMENTO..'WEIGHT OF SIN'

(Mechanix Records) Reviewed 12th July 2011

Sacramento were founded in 2009 by composer, guitarist and producer Alejandro Espinosa. The name has nothing to do with California, it is simply the Spanish for sacrament, the band are in fact Chilean. The first thing that strikes you is the cover art conceived by Alejandro which depicts the album's title, a man performs mortification of the flesh (self flagellation) to free his body from 'the weight of sin', a practice carried out in some extreme Catholic sects like the Opus Dei made famous, or infamous, in the Da Vinci Code, and yes, they really do exist. However they are not a Christian band like HB, although there is profoundly deep meaning to the deep meaningful lyrics (in English) that are inspired by the human condition. Stunning Laura Vargas has a superb rich powerful soaring voice that is a sort of cross between Sharon Den Adel and Cristina Scabbia in style supported by occasional anguished roars from Alejandro, but this is no growl fest. Their music comprises humongous suped up Lacuna Coil esque gothic metal, a touch of Evanescence alt-metal, and a dash of fellow Chileans Edenial prog metal. After a trio of immense openers with lashings of dynamic diverse guitar work and towering spiralling refrains comes the awesome 'Purple' with its twinkling piano. The pulverising 'Everything to Waste' is followed by the atmospheric interlude 'Falling Apart' which leads into the moody, melancholic, moving ballad 'Save Me My Son' which features just voice and flanged/chorused/reverb guitar arpeggios. There's another trio of terrific tracks before we reach the driving rocking closer 'Take Me Away'. You also get a media file of the video for the song 'Fallecer' taken from their EP released a couple of years ago (on the Female Voices blog). The sound, production and musicianship is ultra professional so converts to gothic and alternative metal will certainly not beat themselves up for purchasing this excellent record from CD Baby. Whip along to their Facebook here for more info, a far from sinful 8.75/10 (Phil)

SACRED..'THE BEAUTIFUL HORROR'

(Independent release) Reviewed 24th Sept 2006

In a nutshell...Sacred we believe are London based..lead vox shared between Virginia Van Kan and Jemima Price. This release is choc full of radio friendly pop/rock anthems from start to finish, with subtle gothic and electronic elements here and there. If a major label got behind this band, they will be MASSIVE, making a lot of the current UK chart material look rather pathetic in comparison!! The cd is only available via myspace.com...so what are you waiting for. Totally mind blowing! 9/10 (Reviewed by Aimee)

SACRED GROOVE...'NEEDFUL THINGS'

(Self Release) Reviewed 2nd August 2012

This German band have their origins back in the 1990's, but it wasn't until 2009 that they released their self titled début, now they are back with a new singer and album. Sacred Groove are the sort of band that perfectly illustrates the difference between male and female fronted metal. Firstly, beautiful Isabel Willenberg has an equally beautiful voice and she sings the melody, the whole melody and nothing but the melody, relying on tone, intonation and inflection, in fact she also released an acoustic album 'Vertraulich' in 2010 showing that she comes from a different musical background, this style is in marked contrast to the White/Dickinson/Halford etc. etc. school of hairy men screaming that dominates male fronted. Secondly, there are keyboards to add variety to the sound, something sadly lacking in male fronted, and lastly there is a subtlety and diversity, it's not permanently pedal to the metal at volume 11, easing off during the verses with nice use of flange guitar, and then powering up for the choruses. In short, male fronted, they would be a very different beast. Sacred Groove are not going to win any awards for originality, but that's not the intention, they simply want to entertain you with an immensely enjoyable and attractive collection of rockers, lying somewhere between heavy rock and melodic metal, that will have you bobbing your head and tapping your toe, they sum it up perfectly, “Sacred Groove stands for energetic and ear catching songs with fat groove”, nuff said. Highlights in this consistent set include the strutting opener 'Angel in the Sky' (video on Female Voices), the galloping 'Unholy House', the more power metallish 'Nature of the Beast', the swaying 'This Way Called' Life', the anthemic 'Deep In His Mind', and it wouldn't be complete without the classic building ballad 'Broken Flower'. If you want an album of catchy melodic rockers with a solid groove, look no further, strut your way along to their facebook here, a needful 8.5/10 (Phil)

SACRED GROOVE…’THE OTHER SIDE’

(Self Release) Reviewed November 3rd 2015

SACRED GROOVE from Germany stands for energetic and ear catching songs with a fat groove. The musical style is based anywhere between heavy rock and melodic metal, while lead singer Alona’s exceptionally vibrant voice guarantees uniqueness. SACRED GROOVE´s trademarks are bombastic guitar riffs, a grooving rhythm & bass section, symphonic key and piano-parts, emotional vocals and of course lots of melody. The band's words actually and this is not too far from the truth, with the album offering up some great catchy numbers. A consistent release, which as a result due to its consistency fails to throw up any real highlights as all the tracks are good! The band’s website is at www.sacred-groove.com - find out for yourselves, but this band is good. Just one more thing on a tragic note - the album is dedicated to bandmate Juppi Pullen' who lost his life in a tragic road accident on his way home from band rehearsals in July 2014. The keyboard tracks on this album he had already recorded. RIP our friend!! 8.75/10 (Dave)

SACRIFICE TO SURVIVE...'SINGULARITY' EP

(Self Release - digital only) Reviewed Sept 3rd 2013

If you like bands like Dream Theater, Threshold and the like, I would imagine you would like Sacrifice To Survive. The band fronted by Emily Aldridge come from Florida, and offer up a feast of Progressive Metal. There are five tracks on this EP giving us 20+ minutes of some rather tasty Metal music. It is progressive, it is technical and there is a lot going on within the music on offer. But what I like about this band, is what they do, they do so well. Emily's vocals are possibly more reminiscent of those of Amy Lee, but we do have some male grunts compliments Cory Stewart (guitars and him with the ginger beard LOL) added to the awesome mix of music. Tell you what, this EP may not hit the spot the first time you hear it, but on repeated plays, it unravels more musical marvels. As I say there is a lot happening on this release, but it is very good and I would well recommend this to the lovers of mucic that is a little more technical and progressive in nature. The band can be checked out here ...9/10 (Dave)

SAD ALICE SAID...'CLOCK OF ETERNITY' EP

(Blue Freya) Reviewed 21st May 2012

I first came across Ukrainian Gothic Metal band Sad Alice Said via the track 'Open Your Eyes' that came in my direction some months ago, and I liked very much then what I heard. The band fronted by Alice Shakor has now given us a four track Ep of 'older material', that actually does not feature the aforementioned number, but nonetheless, offers up further proof that this band has got what it takes to go places. Opener 'Clock Of Eternity' is a first rate starter clocking in at nearly 6 mins, featuring the melodic angelic vocal style of Alice - a catchy piano/guitar driven song. 'Tomb Like Silence' maintains the excellent start to this little platter. Again the piano seems to play a key part in the construction of this number. The excellently titled 'The Son Of Nightmare and Pain' follows, a great slow to mid paced Gothic number which is possibly one of the more heavier tracks here, while the 6+ minute closer 'Door In Autumn', again featuring piano and the violin ends this all, and rather too soon to my ears. This band has potential, lots of it. Check them out here where you can listen to two songs that are not even on this EP, the aforementioned 'Open Your Eyes' and 'Secret Of Our Love'...great stuff and I would love to hear a full length album in due course!! 9/10 (Dave)

SAD ALICE SAID...'YESTERDAY'S TOMORROW'

(The Leaders Records) Reviewed 19th July 2013

Anybody who is into Sad Alice Said from Ukraine and has bought their EP 'Clock of Eternity', will be familiar with some of the numbers here, but I will do a full review anyway of this, their debut full length offering, and what a corker it is too. After having just updated the Cryoshell S/T cd review from the same label, and now reviewing this Sad Alice Said album, it seems to me that The Leaders Records certainly have two winners here. I suppose the style of Sad Alice Said is similar to an extent to that of Cryoshell, so if you like the Danish band, then this is another sure fire winner to add to your collection. The hideously catchy 'Open Your Eyes' kicks the cd off and the vocals of Alisa Shakor are an angelic treat. 'Alive' is a heavier number with pounding guitars joining the fray, while Alisa continues to sing like an angel - a sure fire start to the record, and it continues! 'Fade' being a cool rocker with an equally cool guitar solo, while 'Clock of Eternity' is a catchy mid paced rocker. 'Tomb-Like Silence' is a melodic pounding guitar/piano based rock song that just maintains the excellent quality of this record. Soldiering on, 'The Son Of Nightmare & Pain' is an awesome mid paced Gothic Metal number and is one of my faves and possibly one of the more heavier and complex numbers on the record. The album closes with the six minute plus 'Door In Autumn' and 'Garden Of Our Thoughts', the latter being a formidable string led ballad. This album gives us 8 tracks and 42+ minutes of music and not a filler in sight - go here to buy it...9/10 (Dave)

RACHAEL SAGE...'BLUE ROSES'

(MPress Records) Reviewed 17th Feb 2015

This is the tenth (yep tenth) studio album from New York singer/songwriter Rachael Sage and the album will be released on the 9th March. This is not Metal so do not expect an aural assault, but expect a listening experience to enable one to chill out after a hard day at the office. There are 13 tracks of laid back Pop/Rock, just listen to tracks like the title track 'Blue Roses' as an example. Rather nice I think! There is also a duet with Judy Collins (Amazing Grace fame amongst many others), that being the closing track 'Helpless'. There is a subtle Country undercurrent surfacing too at times, 'Newspaper' and the aforementioned 'Helpless' being two such tracks, while I myself rather do like the number 'Not Leaving You'. This release is gentle, soothing and very good, and deserves attention from music lovers that enjoy their music rather more laid back. To be honest, it is a pleasure to review this in front of my fire with my glass of red wine in hand. Rachael's website can be found here.... 8.25/10 (The Nugget)

SAGE..'IN VAIN'

Independent Release) Reviewed 9th November 2007

Molly brought this band to my attention. Sage are fronted by Tracey Sage and are a power metal band. This lass they call Tracey has a helluva voice. 'In Vain' is only a 5 tracker that presumaby showcases this band's ability. And that ability ain't bad either. My fave track is the sorta latin influenced 'Graves'. This mcd is worth looking into further via cdbaby, or check them out on myspace at http://www.myspace.com/sage4. 7.5/10 (Reviewed by Dave).

SAIDETH...'DREAM: REACHING THE ASHES OF A BURNT DISTANT STAR' EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 16th January 2015

Saideth is an Electrocore/ Melodic Industrial/Synthpop/ Electropopcore band from Mexico City, formed in 2008 by SAID CAMARILLO. Of interest to readers of this website will be the inclusion of VK Lynne on three of the numbers and Anna Fiori on one of the others. And to be frank, this is rather good. The EP gets going with 'Reaching In', this being a catchy synth infused track to reach into (excuse pun), and is a great way to kick things off. VK's easy on the ear vocals fitting the music extremely well. Next up is the pounding 'Tail Of Star' again with VK Lynne on vocals and with a catchy chorus to boot - a track that would sure fill the dance floors! Anna Fiori pops up on 'Just Ashes' and this track is a slower number - another good un though, also featuring male vocals. Crossover potential here most certainly, the track gaining momentum around the three minute mark, I like it! Vk Lynne's unmistakable vocals reappear on Isano's Broken Bone Remix of 'Tail Of Star', a great track as I mentioned before, play this loud through your headphones. Final track 'The Numb' is listed as a demo and is another pouding and very catchy track. This EP is very good and well recommended. Obervations are being made here that some female fronted acts are veering more towards including electro elements, listen to the SEASON OF GHOSTS newie that was just recently released. Saideth's facebook is here, this release with the Dj and electronic producer INSANO at the helm is well recommended.. 9/10 (The Nugget)

SAINT JUDAS…’WAR WITHIN’

(Self Release) Reviewed 12th August 2016

Saint Judas is a five piece Metal band from Cyprus that kick started in 2011. Along various member changes and experimentation, the character of the band was formed. The fact that the band members influences cover a wide spectrum of Oriental, Rock and Metal Music, has helped define their own sound. They performed in various Music Festivals around Cyprus and these live appearances have made the band recognized as one of the best live acts on the island, with raw and powerful performances. If you like your metal as metal should be, then this will be right up your alleyway. Indeed ,the band’s sound is a fusion of Classic Metal/Thrash/Stoner and Progressive Rock, and also possessing a retro feel at the same time. Add then the unique & powerful female vocals of Maria Danou, coupled with the analogue Synths, and together you have a diverse amalgam of sounds, grooves and textures. Fave tracks currently are the thumping ‘Warrior’s Tale’ and the number ‘Sledgehammer’ (Peter Gabriel cover together with great guitar solo). This 9 tracker is a grower so live with it, the band’s Facebook is here 8/10 (Dave)

SAINT LIPS..'LIKE PETALS'

(Renaissance Records) Reviewed 26th August 2008

Here is one helluva album that has crept up on me and caught me by surprise. Saint Lips fronted by Valentina Barletta are from Roma in Italy, and play a kinda new wave/rock/power pop type of music. 10 tracks, 34 mins and not a filler in site. This is cool stuff from this band and is as catchy as hell. Just listen to opener 'Desert Ship' for confirmation of this. And the title track carries on where the opener finished. Other fave tracks of mine on this little opus are 'Sev69' and 'More Fun', excellent stuff! I have listened to this album a fair few times now, and I am having trouble finding fault. This may not be a record for the out and out goth or metal fans out there, but this will appeal to many who enjoy catchy rock music with a summery vibe. Get that sunroof down and turn up the volume. Cool! 9/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

SAINTS OF RUIN..'FAIRYTALE'

(Independent Release) Reviewed 4th May 2008

The Saints Of Ruin are based in San Francisco fronted by Ruby Ruin, and are a band that will take the world by storm. I have the honour of reviewing their 5 track cd 'Fairytale' that the band so kindly sent me. And this is totally awesome melodic gothic metal, and I cannot wait for a full length release. Why? because based on this little gem and if there is any justice, world wide recognition will not be too far away. This mini album will have a broad range of appeal too, appealing to the melodic rock fan out there aswell as the more gothy types. 'Fairytale' kicks off with the ultra catchy 'Inside My Head' (and the song will bounce around inside your head for ages), followed by one of my faves, 'Labyrinth'. The cd ends with the haunting ballad 'All For You'. And before you finish with this review, check the band out at www.myspace.com/saintsof ruin .This cd can be purchased from cdbaby.com and is well worth the purchase money, while record labels had better start forming an orderly queue here, to avoid disappointment! 9/10 (Reviewed by Dave).

SAINTS OF RUIN..'NIGHTMARE'

(Independent Release) Reviewed 10th December 2009

Saints of Ruin is a Californian Gothic Rock band who are not only friends of us here at Ravenheart Towers, they also produce some flippin' good music. A while back (May 2008), I reviewed their EP 'Fairytale' and I knew then that this band was something a little special. I reviewed the EP as "awesome melodic gothic metal". I must now say that not only does this, their debut full length cd carry on the excellent work of 'Fairytale', the band has moved forward leaps and bounds with this new release. Fronted by Ruby Ruin, with my 'email buddy' Tommy Dark on guitars, we have an awesome cd on our hands here. And I understand that there is also European label interest. The album gets under way with the catchy 'Ashes', which will straight away give you a feel for the music. The cd moves along quite nicely, with one of my fave tracks being the heavy sounding but equally melodic 'End Of Days'. The catchy 'Be My King' has a dance floor feel to it and should in-fact be given the dance remix treatment me thinks (think about it Tommy!). This album has everything and will appeal to a wide range of rock fan. 'A Murder Of Crows' got me thinking I was in the Australian Bush for a moment, and is another cool track from an album chock full of corking tunes - I also like 'Never Go Away' and this song must sound great live. I love it! Word of advice...go to cdbaby.com and buy this cd, you will not be disappointed! 9/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

SAINTS OF RUIN..'GLAMPYRE'

(Echozone/Sony) Reviewed 5th June 2011

The Saints of Ruin fronted by Ruby Ruin closely follow up their debut full length release of last year with this little Gothic/Rock masterpiece, filled with stories of Love, Death, Vampires and the Beauty and Darkness of our lives. A very perfect setting for a quiet Sunday evening in to review this little beauty :) I have been following this band since their conception, and justice was done when European label Echozone signed them to their rosta. Glampyre is another interesting release offering 9 cracking numbers, and to be honest, I think through their two full releases and one EP, they have yet to produce a track that could be classed as distinctly under par. Tracks here that ultimately caught my attention were the opening title track 'Glampyre', 'Rain' (The Cult cover), the Psychedelic sounding 'Love Dies', the epic 'Slow Poison' and the revamped 'Labyrinth' from their 2008 EP. However, I must say all the music on this platter is good! Saints Of Ruin Rock the Apocalypse with a great gothic sound and therefore I do recommend this release to fans of the genre. Pop along to CDBaby to check it out, whilst they will rock my apocalypse with a 9/10 (Dave).

SAINTS OF RUIN...'ELEVATIS VELUM'

(Echozone) Reviewed 9th April 2013

One of my fave bands is Saints Of Ruin from the sunshine state of California, proving that Gothic Bands need not necessarily come from the wastelands of Scandinavia LOL! Seriously, this band fronted by Ruby Ruin has released yet another consistent record, to add to the previous array of two full length albums and one EP that have appeared in the past. The rule of "if it ain't broken why fix it" applies to this release, as the band throw at us 10 tracks of Melodic Gothic Rock to keep their previous fans happy, while hopefully bringing their music to a newer audience too. Stylistically, the band offer the listener a range of infectious tunes that vary between traditional Gothic Rock and modern Dance Rock, the vocals of Ruby Ruin being dynamic and charismatic throughout. Every track on here is a winner from the opener, the bouncy 'The Thirst', through mid to up tempo numbers like the catchy 'Tin Box', the awesome & bombastic 'Stand Alone' and the rather good 'Your Ruin', to mega ballads like the 7 mins + 'Boundless'. Saints Of Ruin should surely continue to grow following this release, and I highly recommend this album to all and sundry... 9/10 (Dave)

SAINTE OMBRE...'CORNELIA'

(Back UP Records) Reviewed 31st October 2013

Sainte Ombre hail from Vendée in France and is fronted by a young lass called Celine, whose vocal style is more akin to Pop/Rock than Soprano. This is the band's second release and to describe the music on this release, I would say this a good old dose of Melodic Metal with Gothic and Symphonic influences. And it so happens to be yet another good release to come my way, one of many just recently. The opener 'La belle ou la Bête' is an epic 7+ minute Melodic Symphonic belter and before you can catch your breath, second up 'Maléfice' hammers out of the speakers. Third up, another 7+ minute epic 'Décadanse' starts up like a child's lullaby before the song kicks in proper and becomes a lighter waving crowd swaying power ballad - awesome. ' Le Monde Selon Cornélia de Beaujoy' and 'Keiko' that follow are further Symphonic Melodic thumpers, with the latter making awesome use of choral arrangements, something that is however, apparent throughout the record. 'Par le Sang' is a catchy bouncy rocker featuring the vocals of Nicolas Blaizeau together with those of Celine, while 'Le Chemin' is a mega piano, orchestra led ballad. 'Amazone' ups the ante again, another hideously catchy rocker, while closing duo of 'Sainte Ombre' and 'Elixir Lacrymal' close what is a very good album from this French band. The band's website is here (you may need google translate). A worthy effort...9/10 (Dave)

SAKARA..'BLOOD and STONE'

(Ravenheart Music) Reviewed 8th November 2011

After a journey through several bands and styles of music lovely Laura 'Saraka' Marshall from Hereford in England, armed with a collection of songs and a clear vision, met producer Stephen Clark in May of this year and embarked on making her debut solo album. Stephen is a highly experienced musician who has developed a style of music that sounds like a gothic Peter Gabriel under the stage name 'ThinMan', as well as performing acoustic rock and winning awards for his work as a composer, arranger and producer. In return for his help, Sakara is also collaborating with Stephen on a new ThinMan album. Her name is inspired by the vast ancient Saqqara burial ground in Egypt, the resting place of around 16 kings, and following on from the ancient Egyptian belief in reincarnation, this represents for her the desire to continually reinvent and grow as a person and artist. They worked hard to get it finished by All Hallows' Eve, the day that the spirit and physical world are at their closest, as it has special significance to album's theme. The music echoes Sakara's forays into gothic rock, metal, and industrial mixed with Stephen's various influences producing an amalgam that is elusive to describe, my impressions float around Siouxsie and the Banshees, Kate Bush, Lahannya, and Caamora, with an mystical eastern vibe that befits her name. Sakara has an outstanding versatile voice that ranges from pop to rock to high semi operatic to low gothic, quite extraordinary, while Stephen lays down painstakingly constructed layers of guitars, synths, samples, atmospheric effects and custom built rhythms and tribal beats. Opening with the strutting groove of the melodic gothic rock 'Bleed' we move onto the stomping, thundering, fearsome and ferocious 'Rise' with Stephen wailing his guitar like Jimmy Hendrix. 'Join You' starts as gentle twinkling piano arpeggios and builds and builds into an almighty crescendo, then the Madonna/William Orbit esque electronic rock of 'By My Side' full of bubbling sequencers which would be ideal for radio play. In contrast 'She of the Throne' is deep, menacing and marching, followed by the tribal dramatic 'Ishtar', who was the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war and sex, it is said by some that love causes war. 'Earth Song' appropriately is Celtic/Aboriginal in nature and almost Clannad in texture, with Sakara using a beautiful high semi-operatic voice, followed by the gothic rock '2 Wolves' with lots of howling wolves. She picks it up again with last two, the rocking driving 'Soul Loss' and the funky punky 'Kunoichi', in which Sakara uses a deep gothic voice, it is hard to believe it is the same person who sang 'Earth Song'. The Kunoichi were female Ninjas who used their womanly wiles and cunning to get close to the enemy. The sound is excellent as you would expect, but there's perhaps a touch too much reverb on the voice. A highly commercial record that shows enormous dedication to her art which will appeal to all gothic fans as well as people who enjoy finely crafted intelligent rock. She awaits your pleasure at her website here, a mystical 9/10 (Phil)

SAKARA...'BEAUTY AND BRAVERY'

(Ravenheart Music) Reviewed 12th June 2014

Sakara - yay! It is very difficult to review an album released on your own label, but when that musician is also a damn good friend, then trying to be impartial is further difficult, but nonetheless here goes!. Okay, Sakara released her debut 'Blood & Stone' on the Ravenheart label in 2012 and indeed, it became a well received album in many quarters, with some jolly good reviews. Now mid way through 2014 and we have 'Beauty and Bravery' about to hit the stores. Now, I have always liked a woman with attitude, and Sakara (Laura) has just that. And this comes out in the rockin' opening track 'Fearless', where she lets rip with the lyrics "Fuck You, Fuck You, Fuck You, hahahahaha". The momentum and indeed to an extent the angst continues with 'Weave My Web' (video here), a nice quiet choral interlude to start the track, before it all kicks off - great operatic vocals during the chorus too, this girl rocks. Next up 'Angels And Demons' offers great vocals and simply an awesome slow and atmospheric number with strings - beautiful as is the magical track 'Shield Maidens'. The album kicks back into rockin mode with 'Memories' and the metallic and damn heavy 'Orca', the latter being a fave track of mine from the album. 'Sea Priestess' slows down the momentum but increases the atmospherics, while the shortest number on the album 'Mystery' is an acoustic led folky number. 'Don't Back Down' has that wild west twangy guitar intro, where you expect John Wayne to appear on his horse at any moment, and then in comes the guitars and drums, and we are off on another melodic ride of heavy awesomeness. 'Serenity' is the official closing track but there is one more...the quality, epic and rather lovely 8+ minute hidden bonus track 'One'. Furthermore, and again the services of the awesome Stephen Clarke who worked on Sakara's first cd is utilised, he lays down painstakingly constructed layers of guitars and synths to great effect on this follow up release. Using Laura's own words, the album is a journey of beauty and bravery, mystical and magic, ancient and modern with shamanic influence. Songs about bravery, warrior women, goddesses, priestesses, nature, water and courage. It's about the rising power of the feminine both beautiful and fierce, gentle and passionate, yin and yang. I have known Laura for a long while, through thick and thin too and I am dead proud of what she has achieved. A varied but well recommended record - kinda imagine Leaves' Eyes mixing it with Rage Against The Machine, seems good to me.. 9/10 (Dave)

SALVATION…’EVERLASTING FALL’

(Self Released) Reviewed 18th August 2015

Israeli Symphonic Metal band Salvation began its way at the dawn of 2000. Their music is a mixture of Symphonic and Gothic melodies, with a small amount of middle eastern flavour as expected of a band from Israel. The band finds way to integrate these influences into classic symphonic melodies and metal riffs, with clean female vocals and deep deathly growls and grunts. Original Female Vocals on this recently released debut full length, were performed by Natalie Akselman, a very talented session singer. However, during the production the band was joined by vocalist Victoria, and they then decided to re-record all lead female parts with the current vocalist, leaving a fair amount of backing vocals performed by Natalie. There are some heavy and pounding corkers on this record including tracks like ‘Tears I Cried, Years I Bled’, the melodic ’Dark Shades Of White’ and the keyboard/guitar driven ‘All Is Silent Now’ . Indeed, the band has come a long way since its conception, this album including songs from various eras of the band’s history, a refined mixture of new and old, including a remake of closing track, the rather nice 'Roses' that was originally from their very first EP . This album is rather good and well recommended as a consequence. Their website is here… 8.75/10 (Dave)

SAMANDRIEL..'AWAKENING'

(Self Release) Reviewed 16th December 2010

Samandriel are a brand new progressive symphonic metal band from Edmonton in Canada with their debut EP but at 27 minutes is almost qualifies as a long player. They are fronted by the very attractive Doneka Reid who has a rich pitch perfect Heidi Parviainen style operatic voice giving them a sound somewhere around Nightwish, Amberian Dawn and Sonata Arctica. Musicianship and production is superb with excellent keys, and you get six cracking tunes. 'Holy Load' is anthemic, 'Trial By Terror' really rocks, catchy 'Initial Reality' swings, 'The Mighty Seabeast' has a hint of folk, 'Demise of the Icewitch' is more power metal and closer 'Harmonious Madness' struts and powers along. The only negative is the unnecessary and very poor growls that occasionally crop up in the background, I can't see the point, they add nothing but noise in the mix. Also what puzzles me is that if they had added a couple of tunes they could have called it a fully fledged album, it's like an unfinished LP. Those issues aside, this is a mightily impressive opening gambit available from CD Baby and their Myspace is www.myspace.com/samandriel, a wide awake 8/10 (Reviewed by Phil)

The SATIN DOLLS..'ILLUMINATI'

(Warm Tide Audio) Reviewed 11th February 2010

The Satin Dolls are a Warwickshire (UK) based four-piece rock/pop band. The group has been lucky enough to perform & record with some well known producers & performers in the UK music scene. The music on offer here is catchy but hard hitting British Rock, that to me at times brings back memories of the punk era. 'Bleed For You' is a catchy track that ranks as a fave of mine on this little gem, and I like 'Walk away' too. 'Walk Away' being the first song professionally recorded by The Satin Dolls, and was produced by Mike Crossey (producer of the Zutons, Artic Monkeys, OMD etc). The Satin Dolls have so far supported some very well known acts in the UK, such as the Feeling, the Specials, Stranglers & the Subways etc. And with the awesome vocals of Julie, there is no reason why this band should not go far. Check them out at www.myspace.com/thesatindollsofficialbandsite and buy the cd. 8/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

SATYRIAN..'THE DARK GIFT'

(Lion Music) Reviewed 20th December 2006

The Dreamside and The Bloodline are two of my favourite bands. So are Satyrian. And they all have a common link being vocalists Kemi Vita and Roman Schonsee. This album is an EP featuring 38 minutes of dance remixes of tracks from Satyrian's debut cd 'Eternitas'. I have noticed that on a certain website, this cd got a pasting. Well, Aimee and I are very open minded regards music, and I myself (and Aimee) do like these remixes that would fair quite well on the dance floor at any decent club. May be not one for anyone unaquainted with the band, and perhaps not for one who cannot listen to anything other than rock or metal, but anybody who is open minded regards their musical tastes, and of course any fan of Satyrian, should give this a listen. This is a pretty good offering. We like it! 8/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

SAVE OUR SOULS...'THE OTHERSIDE'

(Shinigami Records) Reviewed 25th June 2015

Save Our Souls come from South America (Brazil) and this is another belter of a release that has drifted our way. Released this month digitally, we understand from the label that a physical release is yet to be scheduled, however the album can be preordered here. But what about the music? This is a stonker giving the listener 11 tracks of some great Melodic Symphonic Metal, occasionally flirting with Prog Metal. Fronted by the Iron lady, a 25 year old who goes by the name of Melissa Iron, who also deals with the keys department, this is rather good. It all gets going in the best way possible with the 7 minute plus 'Another Life', and if that left you breathless, then next up 'All The Lost Souls' will leave you with the feeling you have run a marathon - totally awesome. It all continues with belting tunes like 'The Judgement Day', the energetic 'Web Of Lies', 'Leave Me Alone' with some great organ interplay, 'You (Leave Me Alone Pt II)' and the epic 'Dark Enigma'. And then let us not forget the ballads: 'The Sound Of Heart' and 'Find The Way' as two examples of fine music from this excellent band. This is great Melodic Metal, and another release worthy of using one's credit card... 9/10 (The Nugget)

SAVN...'SAVN'

(CDR Records) Reviewed 1st May 2014

Norwegian goth metal legends The Sins Of Thy Beloved have been dormant since 2000 - following the release of their second album 'Perpetual Desolation' - and after years of a rumored reunion, Stig Johansen and Anders Thue have instead risen from the ashes with a new band, SAVN, and a new vision to go with it. The seeds for SAVN (translated: Deprivation) officially took root when multi-instrumentalist Stig contacted Midnattsol vocalist and long-time friend Carmen Elise Espenæs about singing one song for the planned SAVN album. Carmen agreed, and Stig and Anders (keyboards) were so pleased with the final result they invited her to sing on the entire record, and here is the result. And this is rather good I hasten to add. We have eleven tracks of pounding quality melodic Gothic Metal that will appeal to fans of Gothic and Symphonic female fronted Rock & Metal (and beyond). And guess what? - Liv (Carmen's big sis) puts in an appearance on 'I Am Free'. I mention eleven tracks, but the final two numbers are "growling" versions of two other tracks on the album - 'Hang On' and 'The Demons In Me'. As previously mentioned, this is very good quality stuff indeed, being mixed and produced by Alex Krull (Atrocity, Leaves' Eyes) at Mastersound Studios in Germany. This I must say is well recommended to all and sundry... 9/10 (Dave)