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Ravenheart Archives: Archived

Reviews V

VAJRA...'PLEROMA'

(Self Release) Reviewed 2nd April 2013

New York based Vajra was formed by Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Annamaria Pinna, and their music is hauntingly dark and hypnotic, weaving Eastern Indian themes with melodic, progressive rock creating foreboding and mysterious lullabies. Sylvia Massy (Tool, System of A Down, Prince, Johnny Cash) co-produced the vocals and mix. Tom Baker (NIN, Foo Fighters, Ministry, Prince) mastered the whole affair. And you know what, this is flippin' good. Opener 'Inside The Flame' shows those aformentioned Eastern Indian themes being mixed with some high octane rock, and is a damn good way to start this very impressive album. Just when you recovered from the opener, 'Almost One' is a hypnotic mid tempo number with a rather catchy melodic chorus, while 'India' is a haunting, atmospheric, synth infused instrumental, just listen through headphones! The vocals return on 'Blind', great vocals by the way compliments of Annamaria, while 'Intuition' is another mid tempo number, melodic, thought provoking and totally awesome! The first five numbers have left me spellbound, with the second half of the album equally as good. 'Erode The Will' continues the mid tempo melodic theme, and indeed is a fave of mine from this recording, while '3.14' to my ears has crossover potential, another great song from this release. The quality doesn't dip with the songs 'See Through You' and the instrumental 'Akkord Pleromy', with the latter showing further mystical Eastern Indian influences. Closer the 8 minute plus 'The Apple' is an epic way to end this little epic of an album. Vajra’s music has left me and will leave you spellbound and hypnotised, so go and check them out here! 8.75/10 (Dave)

VALFREYA...'PATH TO ETERNITY'

(Maple Metal Records) Reviewed 13th December 2012

Canadian Viking/folk/Melodic Black metal band VALFREYA is a six member band from Montreal, Canada. The band’s frontwoman, Crook, has a vocal range of symphonic clean vocals to that of guttural growls. Crook is indeed the main composer of ‘Path to Eternity’ (that was released earlier in the year) along with key contributions from guitar player Graz’zt, keyboardist Shark, and all the band members. Influenced by bands like Moonsorrow, Equilibrium, Arkona and Wintersun, VALFREYA portray a more aggressive and energetic take on the folk metal genre. The title track is a short intro that leads us into 'Deity's Grace' and it becomes immediately apparent how versatile Crook's vocals are - a great heavy Folk metal number with heavier moments interspersed with quiter more solitude elements. The heaviness and folky aggression continues with 'Inferno' and 'Beyond Illusions' that may have some of you running to the hills for solitude! The aural onslaught continues with 'Oceans Assault' and 'Confront Immensity' and indeed there is no let up as we hit the 10th track, the outro 'My Glorious Death'. This album is a very heavy and intense listening experience, and I did find the music on offer a little overpowering at times and also a little samey, and I felt relieved when Crook's clean vocals came to the rescue on occasion. However, for fans of Black/Pagan Metal with Folk elements, this I imagine will be a must buy, so light up your camp fires folks... 7.75/10 (Dave)

VALKYRE...'OUR GLORIOUS DEMISE'

(Valkyrie Rising) Reviewed 24th June 2015

Valkyre is a Belgian-based female-fronted Symphonic-Gothic Metal band founded by guitarist Kris Scheerlinck subsequent to his departure from Sengir. Currently fronted by the poppy vocal style of Claudia Michelutti, this is another 'catch up' review. Released last year (2014), this album by this Belgian band is 11 tracks of prime time Symphonic Metal and if you do not own the album, then may I make a suggestion - "get it". Only a brief review, but this is totally pure orgasmic material for the Female Fronted metal fan. Check out their website here... 9/10 (The Nugget)

VAMPYRE HEART..'GHOST OF TIME'

(Promo/Demo) Reviewed 27th February 2010

Firstly, I want to say that the UK certainly has some unsigned talent scattered around this amazing country of ours. At the same time, Bournemouth sure is not known as a rock mecca. But hiding somewhere down there is a duo who go by the name Vampyre Heart. Vampyre Heart consist of D Soul and vocalist Summer. The style of music I would class as Gothic/Electro, and I feel that some of the songs here would go down well in clubland. We have the hideously catchy 'Don't Shelter Me', the hauting and atmospheric 'Killing Me' and the rockier 'Hell Asked Why' . 'Ride The Wind' is a personal song involving an incident in Summer's life. Check the band out at www.myspace.com/666vampyreheart as from what I understand, Vampyre Heart with Summer's sexy and rather distinctive vocal style, is creating a few waves in the USA at the moment. And you can either contact the band or Ravenheart Music for further info. Interesting stuff! 8/10 (Reviewed by Dave).

VAMPYRE HEART..DEMO EP

(Self Released) Reviewed 31st July 2011

Vampyre Heart is a Gothic/Vampire Rock band from Bournemouth on the south coast of England. They are fronted by a lovely lass called Summer, and they have been jolly good friends of mine for a while now. They won many over when they appeared at the Ravenheart Rock night on July 9th. Their live performance was awesome, as was their recent performance in Barnstaple, Devon, despite some apparent sound issues. They have released this six track demo cd, that is a good showcase for the material that they offer the discerning listener, and a taster for a forthcoming album. We have here 6 tracks of Electro/Vampyre Rock, each track a great foot tapper in their own right. 'Lost Within The Shadows' kicks this litte platter off, and this is an ideal start to the cd, and gives a good indication as to what to expect from the remainder of this demo. Indeed, this material would go down well in the Gothic clubs. Vampyre Heart is a good example of a band that work really hard with limited resources and they should be supported all the way. Take a trip to their reverbnation site to hear for yourself. To finalise, this is for fans of Gothic/Electro/Vampyre Rock, and going by this, the band has nailed it, and confirmation of that can be found if you google them. You see numerous sites within the genre that support them and their music, and if you wanna know more, contact me here. This is cool...8.5/10 (Dave)

VAMPYRE HEART...'THE GHOST OF TIME'

(Ravenheart Music) Reviewed 3rd January 2013

It is time to rock folks as the rockers from Bournemouth bring us their debut offering - 14 tracks and two cds of Electro Gothic Rock that I guarantee will have your feet tapping, and if it doesn't, then you need to get a life :) I have seen Vampyre Heart (click here for their Facebook) develop over the past few years, and I hope that vocalist Summer will not mind me saying that she was once involved in a nasty bike accident. This accident only made her and the band more determined to succeed, and succeed they are doing. The band is amazingly popular on the underground circuit, and I must say that they have kept their fans happy with this release. Many punters that have seen them live will be familiar with many of the songs on this album, and I feel immensely proud to be associated with them. They typify hard working musicians knowing that fame and popularity won't come to you, you have to get out there and work your butts off to get it. The title track kicks things off, and I am almost reminded of Massive Attack with regards some of the instrumentation. And to be perfectly honest, if you like the opener, you will like the album, period. 'Devils Mercy' is the next up, and I can see Summer on stage dancing around to this one like a demented Rhino LOL! There is no let up to the awesome music, which continues with the rockin' and more metallic 'Hell Raised Why', through the slower 'Crazy Maybe', the upbeat 'Why Did You' and the closer on Cd1, the up tempo 'Evil Eyes'. CD2 gives us four numbers totaling roughly 28 mins and is equally as good, from the 9 minute plus opener 'Afraid' through to the 8 minute + closer 'Come Love Me Tonight'. I have already ensured that copies of this cd have sneaked their way to people I know in the USA, a country where this band could and should do well. I know I have praised Summer, but the man basically behind all the noise is Summer's hubby D Soul. All tracks to-date have primarily been composed, produced and mixed by D Soul, and mastered by Rich ‘Mixer’ Ott (USA). And let's not forget bassist Taff amongst all this too! I know this release is on the Ravenheart label, and I also know that I am good buddies with the band making my review perhaps a little biased, but having spoken to Ravenheart Aimee who has also listened to this cd and lived with it for a wee while, we have decided that this album is well worthy of a 9/10 (Dave & Aimee)

VANDROYA...'ONE'

(Inner Wound Recordings) Reviewed 11th September 2013

Vandroya could be one of Brazil's best kept secrets until now that is. The band was conceived in 2001 and it has taken this long for them to come up with their full length debut - but you know the saying, "if it is good it will be worth waiting for". And this is!! The band fronted by Daisa Munhoz (Soulspell) deliver 10 striking tunes of what can best be described as Epic, Progressive Power Metal. Opener 'All Becomes One' is an atmospheric instrumental before one of the standout tracks 'The Last Free Land' kicks out of the speakers, like a Japanese Bullet train. It is all bombastic Power Metal coupled with outstanding musicanship all the way to track 6 with outstanding vocals from Daisa, and then things slow down for the power ballad 'Why Should We Say Goodbye'. This is actually one of my fave tracks from the album, but as I have said many times before, I am a sucker for a good power ballad. After our little break, it is back to Power Metal business with 'Change The Tide', which is in-fact a duet with Leandro Caçoilo - great stuff! Despite all the energy and complex musicanship that is going on, the band can find the time for the second ballad and closing number (non bonus track version), the complex sounding 'Solar Night'. Fans of bands like Kamelot, Symphony X, Angra and Sonata Arctica will love 'One'. Vandroya is definitely a force to be reckoned with during years to come. Recommeded... 8.75/10 (Dave)

VANGUARD..'HYDRALCHEMY'

(Shadow World Records) Reviewed 7th October 2009

Aimee stumbled across Vanguard by accident via Last FM. And when I learnt that they are a Gothic Metal Band from Finland, well I just had to investigate further! Finland of course being the mecca of all things rock and metal. And boy, am I glad I checked this band out further, and indeed, after a little bit of hunting around, I was able to track a copy of this cd down. Utilising both clean female and harsh male vocals, 'Hydralchemy' is a very catchy offering indeed. Kicking off with a brief intro that then leads us straight into the heavy but melodic 'Spellbroken', I knew I had a winner here - right up my (and Aimee's) alleyway. Heavy guitars, keys and the dual vocals of both Suvi G (female) and J. Grym (male) feature throughout. I quite frankly love it. Check out 'Scion' for a song that will hang around in your head for ages (and ages). And the ballad 'Untold', featuring the cello of Aapo Romu I just love! This album so happens to be very good! And the digi-pak also includes as a bonus track, a cover of Type O Negative's 'Black No 1'. Awesome stuff! 9/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

VANITY BLVD...'WICKED TEMPTATION'

(Noisehead Records) Reviewed 7th Feb 2014

The Swedish female fronted sleaze/hardrock quartet VANITY BLVD fronted by Anna Savage has now released 'Wicked Temptation', the bands long-awaited and anticipated second full-length album. VANITY BLVD (pronounced "boulevard") was formed in the city of Avesta in 2005 and took the sleaze scene by storm with two selfproduced EP´s of dirty hardrock with the energetic and charismatic fronwoman Anna Savage behind the microphone. This their second full-length was recorded at Deep Blue Studios with producer Nicko Di Marion (STEELWING) during May 2013. And what a release, this showcases the style of music I found myself into during the 80s. There are 11 melodic thumpers here of the highest quality reminding me of the good old days of US rockers Danger Danger and the like. Damn awesome and if you are able to sit still during this type of music, may I suggest you get a life. All the songs here are of the highest quality with a production to boot. There is one stand out to track to my ears however, the extremely melodic and radio friendly 'Desperate Heart', but if you like your music sleazy and hard with guitar solos and choruses to die for, this is for you. Great stuff and well worth the purchase money.. 8.75/10 (Dave)

VANITY RIOTS...'AMBULANCE' EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 30th October 2013

Vanity Riots hail from Sydney in Australia, and this EP presents us with five tracks of rather good in yer face Rock from down under that will blow your mind! Rick from Altered Frequencies.com stated: "Why bands like this remain unsigned and so many lousy bands continue to have success is beyond me." And to be honest it is beyond me too. Fronted by Monica Strut, the band kicks off with the punchy and infectious duo of 'Ambulance' and 'Bloodsucker'. 'The rather cool titled 'I Love You Almost As Much As I Love Me' keeps the momentum going, while the number 'Your Poison' sounds instantly familiar to me - I am sure I have heard this song somewhere before. Closing with the bouncy 'Revival' - great guitar solo by the way, this band surely is going places with their punchy infectious syle of Rock with Pop sensibilities. Their website is here, and if you like the sound of say Paramore mixed in with some Velvet Revolver and Motley Crue then check this band out - this ain't bad! 8/10 (Dave)

VARIOUS..'BEAUTY and BRUTALITY'

(Femme Metal Records) Reviewed 14th July 2010

I am never really sure how to go about reviewing compliations. However, it is great that there are compilations out there featuring the female fronted genre, and Caz and her partners in crime at Femme Metal proudly continue to fly the flag for this type of music. This cd is a double featuring 31 tracks of some of the best that the genre has to throw at us. Some of the music on offer here will be familiar to many that love female fronted rock and metal, whilst some tracks may not be that familiar. And as the title suggests, this double package offers the more melodic and the somewhat heavier stuff too. Of the familiar, Revamp are featured with a track from their debut ('Head Up High'), and Epica open cd2 with 'Unleashed' (from Design Your Universe). Of the less familiar, I am overly impressed with Dama's 'Rainy Roads', that track coming from the unreleased 'EIRWEN' album. This Femme Metal double whammy gets released in October, proceeds to Macmillan Cancer Research. Well worth checking out..9/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

VARIOUS..'DEMONIC and DIVINE'

(Femme Metal Records) Reviewed 19th August 2009

Female fronted rock and metal is alive and well. And most of these femme bands do not sound like Evanescence or Nightwish as some sections of the media will have you believe. Femme Metal is a project that the delectable Caz runs from Kent (my home county too), and here is a double compilation cd featuring a whole host of Femme Metal Bands. Where do I start? Let's just say there is some awesome music on offer here within the 30 tracks, and as a consequence is sure worth checking out by fans of the melodic, symphonic and gothic female fronted genre. Furthermore, proceeds from the sale of this little package goes to The Macmillan Cancer Support and Cancer Research UK. A great buy...get it from www.FemmeMetalStore.Net/ ...9/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

VARIOUS ARTISTS..'MELODY and MALICE'

(Femme Metal Records) Reviewed 10th August 2011

I always find compilations hard to review and I am one of these people that in many cases only listens to a compilation cd once, only going back to the album to listen to a particular track or two. But having said that, I have been introduced to many a band's music through a compilation cd, so they do have their valuable plus points. Femme Metal is one of the leaders in Female Fronted Music, and this double whammy offers up 32 tracks of music to blow the mind of any metal fan, whether you are a lover of Female Fronted Music or not. Many of the bands on here I am familiar with, but one or two have escaped under the Ravenheart radar, Deadlock who opens cd 1 as one example. Other prime offerings on the first cd include tracks by Regardless of Me, In This Moment, Katra and local band Winter Storm. Cd 2 kicks off proceedings with 'Wait For Me' by Magica, a song that should be familiar to many of those into the genre. The second cd's highlights include tracks by Edenbridge, The Mariana Hollow, Achilla, Lacuna Coil and Ravenheart's very own Evil's Desire. There is some good music on here, and not only will fans of Female Fronted Metal lap this up, this double album is a good introduction to people who are just a little curious into what the genre has to offer. Offering criticism though, but on a constructive note, I feel there is more malice here than melody, but that is just my personal taste. It gets released on 26th September with proceeds going to the NSPCC. Good stuff Carrie! 8.75/10 (Dave)

VARNA...'THIS TIME IT'S PERSONAL'

(Self Release EP) Reviewed 6th April 2013

Here we have an interesting three tracker that if the quality here was extended to a full length album, then we would be talking massive. Varna hail from Los Angeles and is fronted by Tiana Woods, with Rossen Pinakas on guitar and Rob Shin on drums. Musically, let us assume Kelly Clarkson meets Evanescence, throw in bags of attitude and we are more or less there. The three tracks here simply rock, and remind me to an extent of Florida band Faces Of March, who Ravenheart Music has been associated with in the past. All I can say is check this band out HERE and have a listen. This is rather good, it should not be ignored and as a consequence deserves one's attention... 9/10 (Dave)

VASELYNE...'THE FIRE WITHIN'

(Echozone) Reviewed 25th October 2013

We have a slippery creature here - the band goes by the name Vaselyne and they come from Holland. However, this is not the normal Gothic Symphonic fare that we normally associate with those shores, this is more a Progressive, Alternative, Ambient and occasionally atmospheric offering. Basically, the band comprises of Yvette Winkler on vocals and Frank Weyzig covering all the instruments. This is a laid back album that at times takes on an edgy characature and overall is a very good effort. Reminding me at times of Factory Of Dreams, Porcupine Tree and the like, there are some mammoth tunes here with six of them running in at over 6 minutes. Opening with the awesome atmospheric sounding 'Earthbound', there are standout tracks a plenty including the 6 minute plus 'Fragile' and the amazingly good synth infused 'Allright' (one of the shorter tracks on the cd). Lets us not forget either the rather beautiful 7 + minute 'Fall From Grace', while the album closes with the string infused instrumental 'Earthbound (the Profane Mix)'. I must say this is rather good, the band's website is at www.vaselyne.com, check it out - 8.5/10 (Dave)

VELVETSEAL..'LEND ME YOUR WINGS'

(Dark Balance) Reviewed 2nd August 2009

The debut album from the Hungarian four piece, who describe their music as symphonic dark metal, which just about sums it up. This is perfect for fans of Sirenia and Delain. Gabee has a good voice, and possibly the world's longest eyelashes, and the songs are all good, in particular 'Lend Me Your Wings', 'The Devine Comedy?', and the ballad 'Where Statues Cry'. In fact the whole album is good, but perhaps lacks the wow factor to lift it into the premier league. A very promising debut and all in all a really good listen. 8/10 (Reviewed by Phil Wooldridge)

VENTURIA..'HYBRID'

(Lion Music) Reviewed 7th September 2008

'Hybrid' is the 2nd Release from this awesome band that features the dual vocal attack of New York based Marc Ferreira and VENTURIA's female vocalist, French lass Lydie Robin. Marc Ferreira may well be a name known amongst AOR circles, but he is now well established with Venturia. 'Hybrid' is actually an apt name for this record, as it combines Metal with beautiful clean pop-melodies, technical progressive rock + classical and electronic music. Some awesome metal on this cd, with the opening Salvo of 'Swearing Lies' and 'Be The One', testimony to this. This cd sure is a grower that takes two or three listens, but basically we have an awesome slab of well produced technical metal here. Other faves on this up tempo release include the heavy and melodic 'Pearls Of Dawn', 'Will You Save Me' and 'Why? This Women's Life' (my fave track! Awesome vocals on this one). This is a good release from Lion Music that we have on our hands here, so check it out, live with it for a couple of spins and it will not disappoint! 8/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

VENTURIA...'DAWN OF A NEW ERA'

(Lion Music) Reviewed 15th August 2012

French melodic metal band VENTURIA fronted by Lydie Lazulli are back with their third album, one which boasts a more refined direct sound full of powerful songs, beautiful melodies, catchy riffs and sophisticated arrangements. The band origins stem back to the mid 2000's. After signing a record deal with Lion Music in 2005, Venturia's first album 'The New Kingdom' was released in April 2006. This debut album was highly acclaimed by media worldwide with many calling it a new voice for the progressive metal genre. October 2008 saw 'Hybrid' (Lion Music) released and again media sang the praises of the band. Venturia then played some gigs and festivals in Europe during 2009. Later that year for practical reasons the band parted ways with American male singer Marc Ferreira with guitarist, keys player and producer Charly Sahona taking on the duty of lead male vocalist in the band. That aforementioned refined direct sound is highlighted by the fact that the album only boasts 8 tracks running in at a little under 40 mins (a little unusual for Lion Music), but effectively we have an all killer no filler album here. 'Devil In Disguise' kicks things off and sets the benchmark - a very catchy number with heavy guitar and an element of keyboard based orchestration thrown into the melting pot as well. The mid paced, pounding and melodic 'Secret Dream' follows and maintains the high quality of the opener, while the up tempo 'A New Dawn Rising' starts with a sophisticated cacophony of guitar, before the seductive sounding vocals of Lydie kick in, this number offering another somewhat catchy chorus to boot. 'What We're Here For' is a melodic thumper with a great keyboard interlude halfway, Charly can sure hammer those keys and this is followed by the very commercial sounding 'What If I', this is possibly one of my faves from this record - totally awesome. The quality doesn't drop either through the closing trio of 'Phoenix', 'Spritual Path' and 'A Land Of Dreams', the latter being a 7 minute plus epic.'Dawn Of A New Era' marks an extremely powerful third album from Venturia, and gets released 21 September. Well recommended... 8.75/10 (Dave)

VENUS MEADOW...'AS FAR AS HEARTS CAN FEEL'

(Self Release) Reviewed 15th June 2015

Venus Meadow come from Germany and is another rather good Symphonic Metal band to come our way. Indeed, this album may have been around for a few months now but who cares - better late than not at all. There are basically eight tracks here with the addition of three bonus numbers, these are basically extended versions or orchestral versions of tracks already here. This album is consistently good without being outstanding if that makes any sense. There are some good numbers here including the opening trio of 'Eye Of The Storm', 'Queen of Heart' and 'Dance With Fools'. There are other cuts here that caught my attention including 'Black and Black', and as I previously stated, this album is consistently good and is worth checking out for fans of the Female Fronted metal music scene. Get a feel for their music here... 8.25/10 (Dave)

VERITAS INFINITA...'THE ESSENCE OF LIFE'

(Self Released) Reviewed 21st October 2014

Veritas Infinita: This Dutch Rock band was formed the end of 2007 by drummer Siebolt and guitarist Tjeerd. After developing rather nicely and getting their personnel sorted, 2009 saw Linda Augustinus joining the band as their lead singer. The band has a Christian outlook which I actually find rather refreshing, and the band's religious beliefs are documented well within the lyrics. Opener 'Quest For Light' is a cool instrumental being followed by the Symphonic and Progressive sounding 'Gods Without A Heart' and we can already pick up a religious theme within the lyrics. The catchy and at times atmospheric 'United' follows in a similar style and I am rather impressed at what I am hearing. Linda's vocals are hauntingly good as is the input from the remainder of the band. 'Today's World' and 'Bloodbrothers' have a great Folk/Metal feel while tracks like 'Before Its Time', the rather nice 'The Fight' and the Power Metal feel of 'Like An Eagle' rock! The beautiful 'Through God's Eyes' closes the record and to summarise: This 9 track album is prime time Symphonic Metal throughout with a subtle Progressive undercurrent, also using a rather haunting choral backdrop which I rather like, Ulliean Pipes, Irish Whistles, and of course, the voice of singer Linda. And it is all wrapped up into a rather nice package of music for one's listening pleasure. This is good and well worth the attention of the female fronted metal fan . Their Facebook is here... 8.75/10 (Rachel Louise Smith)

VERONA SEPTIMA...'WHAT IS DEAD MAY NEVER DIE'

(Self Release) Reviewed 8th August 2013

I have been sitting on this single for a while now wondering whether I should review the one song or not. But why not I thought so here it is :) Verona Septima fronted by Veronika Toivokoski is basically a Symphonic Metal Band from Finland, yep Finland folks, a country that sure has belief in this style of music. This single is a tasty morsel of Symphonic Metal, great musicianship throughout and catchy to boot. Veronika Toivokoski's vocals verge on the operatic and we have some nice melodic guitar work from Esa Mikkola, with whom I must thank for sending me this single. I cannot really score a single song, but an album based on what we have here (one is due later this year I am told), will sure be a must buy! Check them out here. (Dave)

VersaEmerge..'FIXED AT ZERO'

(Fuelled by Ramen) Reviewed 16th August 2010

American alt rockers VersaEmerge were formed in the early Noughties by guitarist Blake Harnage, releasing their first EP in 2005. They then went through more band members than they had hot dinners, picking up bassist Devin Ingelido along the way. In 2007 Sierra Kusterbeck got the job as vocalist despite lying about her age, claiming she was 18 when in fact she was only 16. The three of them are augmented by various bods when playing live. The music and vocals have obvious comparisons with a more alt rock Paramore, their fellow stablemates, but they are not afraid to go off piste. If you like alt rock and bands like Paramore, then this is well worth the investment, available from all the usual outlets, their Myspace is www.myspace.com/versaemerge. An emerging talent with a stunning lead singer that is worth a lot more than zero, 8.5/10 (Reviewed by Phil).

VESPERA...'DESERT OF THE REAL'

(Self Release) Reviewed 30th January 2013

Music comes and music goes, many bands leave a lasting impression, few don't, but welcome VESPERA who hail from Transylvania, which is a historical region in the central part of Romania. I must say that this band has left an impression on me with this release, I can assure you. Mixing styles that cover a wide variety of musical genres, ranging from rock, industrial, electro and hardcore, but maintaining a huge melodic sensibility in the process, Vespera throw at us 11 tracks of hideously catchy music. The interestingly titled 'Mary of Bethany' kicks the album off, the synths blatantly apparent from the off, as this keys driven and very catchy number bounces along, with vocals here being shared between guitarist Dorin Panduru and leading lady on this album Teodora Bârla. Teodora however, has since left the band and her shoes are now filled by a guy named Dudu Isabel. The synths continue to dominate on 'Fame' that maintains the catchiness of the opener, while there is no let up with the heavier and more metallic 'Behind My Smile'. This so far is a very impressive start to the record. There are further highlights a plenty on this release, including the slower and radio friendly 'Close To Madness', the animated 'Through The Neon Lights' and the awesome and addictive 'Afterglow'. And closer 'Overture (Cupid's Birth)' is a peaceful way to end such a spirited album. I must say that I like this record a lot, and this band are well worth checking out. I understand that a second album is in the making, I can't wait! 9/10 (Dave)

VICTORIANS - ARISTOCRATS SYMPHONY - 'REVIVAL'

(Self Release) Reviewed 22nd October 2012

Victorians - Aristocrat's Symphony, to give their full name, have a rich visual and cultural imagery, one hundred years ago their ancestors founded The V Lodge, to represent their Victorian values of exploration, invention, creativity, artistry, aestheticism, and vampirism. Now this Polish band are keepers of The V Lodge, and appropriately they dress in rich romantic robes, inspired by Japanese visual Kei, Lolita fashion and bands like Versailles, who did a song, perhaps not coincidently, called Aristocrat's Symphony, and they have equally theatrical names, Eydis, V., Utis and Mr Nice. Their music is classic symphonic metal with massive orchestrations, in the realm of Silent Force era Within Temptation, Illuminata, Winter in Eden, Teodasia and Silent Opera, heading towards Ancient Bards by the end of the album. This is a set of 10 thrill packed, cinematic, wide-screen, dynamic, dramatic, concise EPICS, with EPIC in capital letters, more EPIC than Ben-Hur and El Cid put together, it will make you want to don your armour, mount you mighty steed, and go charging off on heroic quests in ancient lands of legend. Entrancing Eydis has a wondrous, stupendous, part operatic, part semi operatic, part rock voice, her voice changing to suit the music, from deep and rich to soaring into the heavens, incredible. I've heard that a certain Finnish band are looking for a singer, well, she could do their entire repertoire standing on her head, so I would suggest that they lock her up in The V Lodge, and throw away the key. The whole album is fantastic non-stop romp, as one song fades, the next comes charging in, with songs like the catchy rocking 'In The End', 'Siren' where Eydis's bewitching call sent me crashing off the couch in a state of rapture, the majestic regal 'Prince of Night', and the final clap-along anthem 'Creed'. It's all rounded off with a suitably EPIC reverberating resounding sound by top Polish producer Mariusz Pietka. These valiant Victorians are the new victorious viscounts of classic symphonic metal delivering a fantasia of EPICness, with a singer who can earn them a place on the dais with the upper echelons of European metal nobility. You will find their V Lodge here, an aristocratic 9.25/10 (Phil)

MARTIN VILLARREAL..'CELESTIAL DREAM'

(Ravenheart Music via Code7) Reviewed 4th May 2010

Martin Villarreal is a musician/composer from Uruguay, who sprung on the idea to record an album of ballads, featuring female rock singers. On this album are eight ballads and four instrumentals, featuring such artists as Ann Mari from Swedish Band ARCANA, Morgan Lacroix from MANDRAGORA SCREAM, Eirin Bendigtsen from WHERE ANGELS FALL and Christina Kroustali from DIE VERBANNTEN KINDER EVAS amongst others. This is a cool laid back release that features mainly just piano and orchestration - one for those lazy hazy days of Summer. The album will see distribution via Ravenheart Music in July. Contact Ravenheart Music for more details...8/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

VIOLET FURY..'SWEETNESS and LIES'

(Self Release) Reviewed 17th Sept 2011

Enter the world of atmospheric Gothic Rock with Violet Fury. Formerly called Violet Vortex, this British Band I think deserves more recognition than they are actually getting. 'Sweetness and Lies' is their debut and I was put onto them by Rachel, who is the quiet shy one here at Ravenheart Towers, but she sure knows her music. 'Beautiful Nightmare' kicks things off, with vocalist Laura 'FUF' Jones sounding a little like Amy Lee. Maybe this is what Evanescence would sound like if they was a more Gothy and Atmospheric Band. The Amy Lee comparisons do continue at times through this release, with Violet Fury's overall sound maybe akin more to a female fronted Depeche Mode or perhaps even Nine Inch Nails. 'Opium' is a dark and broody number, while 'Not This Time' is a more synth driven up tempo track. 'Call Me' is a Blondie cover that remains true to the original to an extent with subtle touches of electronica. The album ends with the epic 6+ minute 'Dancing On Your Grave'. To summarise, this is 10 tracks of guitar/synth driven Gothic Rock and is worth checking out. The album can be downloaded from CdBaby and iTunes to name just two. 8.25/10 (Dave)

VIPER SOLFA...'CARVING AN ICON'

(Massacre Records) Reviewed 3rd February 2015

Viper Solfa emerged in 2013 as an idea from Trail of Tears singer and front man Ronny Thorsen. He was quickly joined by fellow Trail of Tears members Endre Moe on bass (Dimension F3H and Cutthroat), and drummer Bjørn Dugstad Rønnow (Sphere). Not long after, the three of them found themselves in the creative company of Morfeus of Mayhem, Limbonic Art and Dimension F3H fame, who immediately took the role of main composer as well as handling guitar, keyboard and orchestration duties. With the material at hand, it became obvious that the sound needed a diverse and highly skilled female voice and after auditioning over two dozen singers from around the globe, Miriam “Sphinx” Renvåg of Ram-Zet was the final piece of the puzzle. This is a powerful and heavy 10 track album that will please all you metal headbangers out there. No heart rendering ballads here, just balls to the wall metal, with 'Carving An Icon' (the title track) and 'The Viper Legion' being two numbers that will leave you wanting more, while I do like the pipes that close 'The Toxic Thousands'. The harsh vocals of Ronny combine well with the more angelic vocals of Miriam... awesome stuff all round I would like to add! The record is released later in February, worth checking out if you like your metal a little bit on the heavier and more aggressive side... 8/10 (The Nugget)

VIPER VENON...'IN VENOM VERITAS'

(Self Release) Reviewed 5th July 2012

The name Viper Venom would suggest some venomous music with an added bite! And yep, that just about sums this cd up from this Italian band. We have 10 tracks here of Metal Mayhem, and I mean Metal, no operatics here or tasty ballads. Just an aural assault of music coupled with loadsa attitude, with the screams coming from Miriam In Chains (whatever happened to Alice?). Vocally, Miriam is unique and perhaps a little unusual, but it works well within the music on offer. The remainder of the band puts in a sterling performance too. With tracks like 'Dirt In Veins', 'Coma', 'Infected Scar' and 'Angina', these titles alone will give you an idea in which direction Viper Venom is travelling. The bonus cut 'Eva' does slow it down a touch however, and even enters Progressive Rock territory, but by and large this is a great treat for the metal fan out there, so why not treat yourself. Slither along to their venomous myspace abode here, as Viper Venom confirm to some of the doubters out there, that not all female fronted music has to be Operatic or Gothic...8/10 (Dave)

VIRGO..'#1'

(Self Release) Reviewed 2nd November 2011

Virgo is a band from Hungary that has been sent my way by Andrea Boltsek, who I correspond with occasionally via email. The band is a six piece with vocal duties being taken care of by blond lass Viki Vasvári. Virgo despite having two guitarists amongst their fold (which may suggest a heavier more metallic sound), actually soundwise take a more alternative rock direction like Garbage, Placebo or Muse. So you won't find any Symphonic tendencies here. Some good catchy numbers nonetheless on this 9 track recording, and some of these songs you will find possibly sticking in your head and refusing to go away long after the cd has finished. We even have some strings putting in an appearance on the slower bar room style track 'Mixture of Grace and Ordure'. Generally the numbers on offer however are mid paced to uptempo affairs. I am not sure how easy this cd will be to track down, but the band can be checked out at their website. Recommended to fans of the above mentioned artists and anybody into a more alternative rock sound.... 8.5/10 (Dave)

VISIONS OF ATLANTIS..'TRINITY'

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 11th April 2007

If you are into symphonic metal a la Nightwish, this cd is for you. This is Visions Of Atlantis 3rd offering. Their previous, 'Eternal Endless Infinity' and 'Cast Away' were ok, but they never quite cut it for me. I felt that perhaps there was a little something missing in the vocal dept. But this latest 'Trinity', is an awesome improvement. Vocals are now provided by new female vocalist Melissa Ferlaak, with clean male vocals by Mario Plank. On their previous releases, I always found Mario's vocals too nasally, but even he has improved! As for the cd itself. It's great stuff, kicking off with 'At The Back of Beyond', followed swiftly by the very melodic 'The Secret', it is obvious this cd will follow the path trodden by Nightwish. 'Passing Dead End' is another up tempo number with Nightwish Influences. 'The Poem' is a slower track with the main vocals provided by Mario. Indeed, the interplay between the two vocalists works well throughout the album. 'Return To You' showcases Melissa's operatic vocals very well. Indeed, all the tracks on this cd are good, finishing with the hymn like 'Seven Seas'. Ok, I think that some reviewers will slag this album because the obvious Nightwish Influences. I will judge 'Trinity' by the music alone. Good production too. Go and buy on 25th May. We like it. 8/10 (Reviewed by Dave).

VISIONS OF ATLANTIS..'DELTA'

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 27th February 2011

The last VofA album 'Trinity' was reviewed on this site in April 2007, and since then, the band has undergone line up changes including a change of female singer (twice!). Indeed, new singer Maxi Nil (ex-Elysium) is able to prove her talents as a first-class vocalist on this album, whilst the supporting role of Mario Plank's aggressive vocal accents places a finishing and unique touch to the tracks on offer. The change of female vocals which so happens to be their fourth since the band's debut did kind of leave a question in my mind as to whether this would affect the quality of the output from the band, but first track out 'Black River Delta' did put my mind at rest, this being a strong opening symphonic track to what is a strong and stable Symphonic Metal record. The ballads are there also, second track in, the rather dramatic and powerful 'Memento' being one such number, while the gentle 'Reflection' is another. One of my fave tracks however is 'New Dawn' a fairly short but still a powerful and catchy song, and they do have a video to this posted on our femalevoices blogspot. Another fave here being the Nightwish sounding 'Twist of Fate'. This is overall a very good release and certainly fans of the Symphonic Metal Genre will lap this up. One more thing I would like to add and as mentioned on my review of 'Trinity', I used to find Mario Plank's clean and at times nasally vocal style just a little annoying and distracting (that's possibly just me), but even they have improved over time. Great stuff..8.75/10 (Dave)

VISIONS OF ATLANTIS..'MARIA MAGDALENA'

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 19th October 2011

Visions of Atlantis first embarked on their musical journey over 10 years ago, their latest album 'Delta' delivering an impressive mix of epic power and pure emotion. Their recent tour in support of this release couldn't have been more successful. Not only did the band members, including new vocalist Maxi Nil, win over countless new fans, but they also grew closer together, as is evident in the band's latest MCD, offering 5 brand-new songs, as well as one re-recording. The opener is an epic symphonic version of Sandra's 'Maria Magdalena', capturing the original spirit of the 80s hit. The vocal duet comprising Maxi Nil and Mario Plank giving the song a welcomed dynamic. 'Melancholia', 'Change of Tides', and 'Distant Shores' uncover the band's orchestrally appealing style that has won them so many fans, while the re-recording of 'Last Shut of Your Eyes' (from the album 'Cast Away') and 'Beyond Horizon' wind this work down with a soulful and dreamy edge. This is good and can be bought from the usual outlets from 21st October, 8.75/10 (Aimee)

VISIONS OF ATLANTIS...'ETHERA'

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 12th March 2013

The band revolving around the enchanting and strong-voiced front lady Maxi Nil did not rest on their laurels after releasing their successful album 'Delta' and playing numerous concerts (e.g. Wacken Open Air, Novarock, Masters of Rock). Instead, the musicians focused on the songwriting sessions for a new longplayer. The mystical title 'Ethera' stands for an extraordinary and diverse Symphonic Metal masterpiece. And as a consequence, presents the listener with bombastic and orchestral tracks such as the opening duo of 'The Ark' and the catchy 'Machinage', plus 'Avatara' and 'Burden of Divinity' as well as touching and dreamy power ballads like 'Vicious Circle' and the wonderfully titled and synth driven 'Cave Behind The Waterfall'. Other fave numbers on this release include 'Hypnotized', the interestingly titled and atmospheric 'Bestiality vs Integrity' and the closer 'Clerics Emotion'. The band as confirmed on this release is a master in capturing varying and different moods within their music and thus creating a tightly arranged album, that offers a magical atmosphere from the first to the last song. It is important to point out that the vocal performance of Maxi Nil and Mario Plank sounds so harmonic and sweeping, just like they have been singing together for years. 'Ethera' is a mythical and bombastic journey into the heart of Atlantis! This is well recommended when released end of March/beginning of April, but most fans of the female fronted metal scene would know that anyway :) 8.75/10 (Aimee)

VITRUVIUS..S/T

(Dust on the Tracks) Reviewed 7th March 2011

Vitruvius are quite a rarity, a new prog metal band from Mexico, a country not noted for this genre (apart from Elfonia of course), fronted by by the gorgeous Dulce Robles, with all lyrics in English. Vitruvius was a Roman architect, engineer and general boffin so it makes an appropriate name for a prog band. On their German record company website they are likened to Within Temptation and Nightwish, why on earth do some people say everything female fronted is like these bands, it's like saying everything male fronted is like Guns N' Roses, it's about as useful as a chocolate fire-guard, and it does not do Dulce and the guys any justice. I suppose the company hopes fans of these bands will go out and buy the record blindly. Vitruvius are far more like a mix of the melodic gothic tinged Reasoning, the heavier proggier jazzier To-Mera, and the space metal of Ayreon. Dulce has a rich pure voice with a touch of jazz and soul that fits the music like a glove. This is top notch professionally produced melodic prog metal that displays all the technical skill that you would expect, but they never get too complex at the expense of the songs which are fairly concise by prog standards, the guitar and synth solos by mainman Oskar Villarreal are a reasonable length and don't outstay their welcome. He also gets a good wig out on the suitably titled instrumental 'Alchemist' while Dulce goes for a cuppa. Highlights include Armando Thame's incredible bass work on 'Stealing A Tear From the Rain', 'Inner Space' which has a whiff of Wish You Were Here, Dulce's belting performance on 'Somewhere' which also features guest keyboardist Lucas Espinoza, and the terrific two part 'Black Sphere'. Perhaps the couple of tracks after 'Alchemist' could do with a bit more work in the song writing department, or something different like a ballad or an acoustic number. It's easily available, just head to their Facebook here for more info, a well engineered 8.5/10 (Phil)

VIVEYNNE..'BECOMING JANE DOE'

(Independent Release) Reviewed 2nd June 2009

Viveynne is an awesome band from Canada fronted by the lovely Mikaila (Mikki), and the cd (ep) on offer here features 8 tracks that run in at around 27 minutes in total. This is the perfect way to showcase this young girl's vocals, and believe you me, awesome vocals we have here too. The record gets underway with 'Blood To Bleed' that starts slowly with Mikki's soaring vocals instantly making an impression, and the band then joins in giving the song a bit of uummph!! Next up we have the awesome title track, a haunting song that vocally reminds me of Amy Lee (as do other songs on this release), and an excellent song it is too. This little epic continues with the more upbeat 'This Phobia' and I am speechless at the quality of the music on offer. Other highlights for me are 'Goodbye Good Morning' and 'Come Crawling', but having said this, all the music is of an extremely high quality. I just want to say something here and maybe Mikki is fed up with the reference. But she is only 14 years old, writes all the material herself and plays piano and synths, and her band sound a tight unit. This is an act that I am sure has the ability to take on the heavyweights on mainland Europe where this type of sound is more or less the mainstream. Record labels, check out www.myspace.com/viveynne and then start your orderly queues here - enough said! 8/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

VOICES AT MIDNIGHT...'ASHES'

(Self Release) Reviewed Dec 30th 2014

It is difficult to review just one song but we support the female fronted music scene, so Dave has said "let's do it". Voices At Midnight is a rock band hailing from Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. They bring a unique and dynamic sound to the music scene, well showcased in this single release. Fronted by Joan Hodge who is ably supported by Chris Porter-Bass, Randy Elswick-Guitar, Adi Nelson-Drums and Chuck Benton-Guitars, this 3 minute plus single is rather good. Joan has an original rock vocal style where she lets rip without over doing it if that makes sense. The tune does also tend to bounce around in your head after it has finished and that to me is good. I cannot really give a score to one song, but check them out here: www.reverbnation.com/voicesatmidnight. (Rachel Louise Smith)

VOICES OF DESTINY..'FROM THE ASHES'

(Massacre Records) Reviewed 22nd January 2010

Voices of Destiny hail from Germany and feature the vocals of front lady Maike Holzmann, with occasional dual male vox from Lukas Palme, who is also in charge of the keyboard dept. 'From The Ashes' is their debut offering and I suppose follows a tried and tested formula - female fronted (in a 'near' at times operatic style) with occasional male but not overdone gruff vocals. Kicking off with the rather catchy 'Ray Of Hope', it seems we are onto a winner here. Not bad, not bad at all! 'Twisting The Knife' keeps the momentum going as does 'Return From The Ashes'. 'Ice Cold' slows things down a touch, well so you think, until the guitars, keys and drums kick in! The album kinda continues in a similar vein. Okay, I have heard all this before, but for a debut it ain't bad. I quite like 'Apathy', a slower number, nice use of accoustic guitar coupled with keys giving this song a cool atmosphere, while 'Bitter Visions' is another slower and rather hauting tune. In summary, if you are into Within Temptation, Coronatus and the like, this little platter is worth parting with your hard earned cash. Release date is 26th Feb, and it can be pre ordered from the normal outlets. 8/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

VOICES OF DESTINY..'POWERDIVE'

(Massacre Records) Reviewed 24th December 2011

The young German Band Voices of Destiny grace us with their second album (their second within a year!), and this effort continues very nicely from where their debut album 'From The Ashes' left off. Fronted by the clear soprano voice of Maike Holzmann, that contrasts with the grim shouts of male vocalist Lukas Palme, the band combine Epic Metal á la Edenbridge with Gothic Symphonic Metal in the style of Epica and Within Temptation, adding traditional riffing and well-placed Death Growls from the aforementioned Lukas. And regards Maike, she commands this record with great aplomb, especially the bombastic chorus lines, and she leads the slower and melodic parts with much emotion and sentiment. There are 12 tracks (inc bonus) here of powerful Symphonic Melodic Metal, and every one is a little gem. One of my faves amongst the twelve however is 'Being Worth', a great atmospheric but extremely catchy number. Indeed, I am hard pressed to find fault on this album, and surely Voices of Destiny is now to become a force to be reckoned with, within the Gothic/Symphonic Genre. This album is showing great maturity from this young band, and is one helluva release to kick off 2012. It gets released on the 27th January, and I whole heartedly recommend this album to fans of the genre. Great stuff!..9/10 (Dave)

VOICES OF DESTINY...'CRISIS CULT'

(Massacre Records) Reviewed 30th September 2014

This release is the 3rd album by the young female-fronted hopefuls VOICES OF DESTINY from Ludwigsburg, Germany, and their 1st with their new front lady Ada Flechtner (known from CORONATUS and several productions like We Are Legend and Deus Ex Vagina). And there are 10 tracks here of Epic Gothic Metal on this digipak version, to keep lovers of this style of music happy. After a brief intro, the album gets going with the heavy but catchy symphonic sounding 'Wolfpack' that is followed by the bombastic and pounding 'The Easy Prey'. Ada seems to have settled really well as the band belts out further awe inspiring numbers like 'To The Slaughter', the heavy but melodic '21 Heroes' (great chorus) and the equally awesome 'Stormcrow'. Then we must not forget the magical power ballad 'At The Edge' that is a duet between Ada Flechtner and Manuela Kraller, allowing rock & classical elements to collide and proves that the new influences and the long-established aspects go well together. Meanwhile, Ada gets occasional help from keys man Lukas with his occasional growls, while the record is produced, mixed and mastered by Andy Horn at Red Room (Edenbridge, Lanfear, Rob Rock, Liv Kristine, Mortal Love). With this album, this young band does not only evolve in a satisfying way, but also shows the courage to experiment and reinvent itself - due 24th October, do buy :) ... 9/10 (Natalie Gold)

VOICIANO...'EVERFLOW'

(Self Release) Reviewed 24th July 2014

Items of sheer quality and beauty must be appreciated and here we have something that demands appreciation. VOICIANO is the new exciting acoustic project by SABINE EDELSBACHER and LANVALL from EDENBRIDGE! And any fans of the Female fronted Rock & Metal scene that have never heard of Edenbridge must have been living under a stone for years. This is simply stunning, okay, it is not Metal but this is damn good from two people who have set the Female fronted Metal scene alight over the past few years. And if you thought Sabine's voice was good in Edenbridge, listen to this and you will hear how simply stunning she sounds. Very difficult to be honest to fault this little gem, when you hear tracks like the opener 'Change', the strongly acoustic and atmospheric 'Island of the Gods', the rather good 'Until The End Of Time' (a nice duet with ERIK MARTENSSON), the piano led 'Inner Child' and the epic 7+ minute title track. The record is now readily available in the EDENBRIDGE webstore which is here. And the album will be digitally available worldwide on August 1 and physically available on Amazon on the same date. To summarise: This is so damn awesome from this magical duo that I want more. No synths, no computers, just real instruments - well recommended for those more serene moments in life! ... 9.5/10 (Dave)

VORTIGYN...EP

(Self Released) Reviewed 22nd February 2013

Vortigyn is a band from Belgium, and a few days ago, a three track EP dropped into the office here. The accompanying pictures suggested to me that this band were an Indie Pop/Rock band, but there is a saying that says "never judge a book by it's cover". Indeed that is the case as Vortigyn actually offer up three tracks of Melodic Metal with awesome pop/rock vocals from front lady Ester Bortels, accompanied with some subtle grunts from guitarist Joris Jacobien. I actually really enjoyed what was offered here and has actually left me wanting more! Opener 'In Control' is a catchy Melodic Metal number, and second track up 'Words' maintains the momentum and is another catchy song that sees Ester break into operatic mode on occasion - great vocals. Final track 'Lost' starts a little subdued before the guitars and drums kick in. Another melodic number, and I am sure will be a fist pumper when played live. I like this band and they are certainly worth looking out for - their FaceBook is HERE..... 8.75/10 (Dave)

VRAK...'I DREAM' EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 29th December 2012

Vrak is an upcoming Swedish alternative act featuring the inimitable voice and sound of Josefin Finér. This EP offers up 4 tracks and 13 minutes of mid tempo rock music that has that kinda commercial feel - not too heavy and quite listenable. 'Targets' to my ears is one of my faves on the EP, while closing track 'Sister' has a heavier feel to it. This is not a bad effort by this Swedish Band and is one to put into the "keep an eye on" folder. Their Facebook is here ....7.75/10 (Dave)