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WAVES UNDER WATER..'SERPENTS AND THE TREE'

(Calorique Records, Danse Macabre, Alive) Reviewed 16th February 2010

Here we have a darkwave electro trio from Sweden featuring the angelic Angelica Segerback on Vox Humana, Johan Svardshammer twiddling the electronics, and Richard Kretschmer parradiddling the live drum pads. Johan also designed the expressive sleeve art, and it is good to see a band creating a potent image with their distinctive steampunk look, it sets the scene for their dark romanticism. Angelica’s voice dreamily floats over a sea of dancing beats, rippling sequencers, and gorgeous rolling synths. By using minor key signatures and thoughtful lyrics they create a dark, dramatic, atmospheric sound, whilst remaining danceable, intelligent and richly melodic; this is music for the mind, soul and feet. The tunes range from dancefloor fillers like ‘Summerland’, to the folk pop of the title track, ‘Serpents and the Tree’, to the moody and deep ‘Because She Is Immortal’, to the mellifluous ‘Winter Garden’, to my fave, the melodramatic ‘Wake the World’. With the right promo they have the potential to cross over into the mainstream. Basically, if you want something that you can really enjoy listening to, or you like swinging a leg if the mood takes your fancy, then you can dance away with this number from most of your fave emporiums, 8.5/10 (Reviewed by Phil)

WE ARE THE CATALYST...'MONUMENTS'

(Ferocity Records) Reviewed 4th September 2014

Do you remember ONE WITHOUT? Well here is the next band to watch out for folks - WE ARE THE CATALYST from Sweden, featuring two ex members of One Without, Kenny Boufadene and Cat Fey. Their debut 13 track album 'MONUMENTS' is due 1st October on Ferocity Records, and here we have the pleasure of reviewing this little gem prior to release. I admit to rather liking ONE WITHOUT, and I equally like this band too. The music is gritty, heavy, it doesn't lose its sense of melody and it is flippin' awesome. The new single 'Fight For Air' kicks the record off and it starts how it means to go on. And it is just one great song after another... 'The Void' with its catchy chorus, the powerful sounding 'Every Minute Every Day', the atmospheric 'Not Alone', the rather good 'On Your Knees', the commercial sounding and hideously catchy 'A Life A Lie' (cool verse/heavy chorus), the pounding 'What You Are' and the closer 'The Edge'. This record is awesome - on the press release that came with this album, Ozzy Osbourne's ex Bass player Terry Nails states "Simply Stunning, move over Evanescence" - well, this is stax better than Evanescence. The band's website is at www.wearethecatalystofficial.com/.. 9.5/10 (Dave)

WE ARE THE FALLEN..'TEAR THE WORLD DOWN'

(Universal Records) Reviewed 13th May 2010

Ben Moody, he of Evanescence fame had a well publicised fall out with Amy Lee a while back now. Very unfortunate, because I do not feel Amy's band has been quite the same since, and I eagerly await their new material as a consequence. Meanwhile, Ben has kinda missed the sound he so dearly loves, and without a Gothic Queen as his singer. Well, for one who waits with patience, they will be duly rewarded. And he was rewarded when Carly Smithson appeared on the scene. 26 year old Carly is a Dublin born soul/pop rock singer-songwriter, now from San Diego, California, who was the sixth place finalist on the seventh season of American Idol. Without going into full details and indeed having to cut a long story short, she hitched up with Ben Moody to become the vocalist in We Are The Fallen. And what about the music on this their debut release? From the shop floor (they are the punters), feedback by and large is good, I know as I am being told. The media reaction though from what I have read so far is mixed. My view - The songs on offer on 'Tear The World Down' are basically mid paced rockers with the odd ballad thrown into the mix. 'Bury Me Alive' gets things going, a melodic rocker, and okay, it could be Amy Lee singing this, but it ain't. Great orchestral outro to this song by the way. The Evanescence/Amy Lee comparisons do continue, with things slowing down for the awesome piano led ballads, 'Sleep Well My Angel' and 'I Am Only One', while I rank 'St John' (great chorus) and the epic title track as other faves of mine. Okay, this album may well be judged by the media for all the wrong reasons, and yep, I am a sucker for female fronted Rock & Metal, but on music alone (and I do not care who it sounds like), this is cool, and is worthy to my ears of an 8/10. (Reviewed by Dave)

WEDINGOTH..'THE OTHER SIDE'

(M & O MUSIC) Reviewed 26th April 2012

French band Wedingoth were created in 2007 by sultry singer Laure Flores and guitarist Steve Segarra, releasing their début concept album 'Candlelight' in 2009. As I had not heard this album and knew very little about Wedingoth I did not know what to expect from this follow up, apart from something probably gothic judging by the name, but nothing could have prepared me for what was about to come, my jaw hit the floor so hard, it left a crater. It is again a concept album, this time based on the afterlife and what lies on the other side of the mirror, exploring themes taken from scientific research and various beliefs. It opens with the incredible four part title track, an astonishing, brilliantly constructed, maelstrom of symphonic and gothic metal mixed with melodic prog, packed with a panoply of rock and metal guitars by Steve and fellow guitarist Julian, with their Hammond organs, keyboards and orchestral arrangements, and Laure's pure semi-operatic voice, culminating in the sublime symphonic 'Salvation', but was it all just a dream? Their wanderlust for musical adventures continues with the dramatic dynamic 'No Way Out', the awesome catchy tribal 'Bliss' which reminds me of Jon Anderson, and the seriously rocking 'Mistreated'. The poignant 'La Jeune Martyre' follows (a painting by Delaroche of a female Christian martyr), then the staggering 'Ever After' which combines gorgeous verses with towering refrains, the sound is beyond words. They almost head for speedy power metal with 'Artificial Paradise' featuring a short burst of bassists Robin's anguished growls, and they end with the rolling suitably mystic eastern flavoured 'Meditation', loving the tablas. Steve's production is one of those that you don't notice which means it's faultless, nothing out of balance, everything in the correct place, every instrument sounding just right, leaving you free to simply enjoy the music and the amazing sounds. Wedingoth are living proof that you can take elements from a diverse range of music and mould them into a homogeneous genre defying whole that is totally their own unique creation. I can wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone who enjoys a broad canvass of prog, rock and metal music, so if you want to find out what lies on the other side, head to www.wedingoth.com/, a jaw dropping 10/10 (Phil)

WEEKEND ON MARS.. 'RUMORS ON THE TOWN'

(Independent Release) Reviewed 7th October 2009

This is the debut release from a new pop/rock band from France. They describe their sound as between the Cranberries and Evanescence, but I can also hear bits of The Cars, Blondie, The Corrs, the Bangles, Jellyfish, Within Temptation, all sorts. In fact every song sounds incredibly familiar, but in a good way, and they scream radio play. Rocky guitar solos stop it getting too poppy, and the female/male vocals of Deby May and Jay Blake compliment each other perfectly. Favourites include the rocky ‘Push’, the groove of ‘No Need’, the urban ballad ‘Story Teller’, and especially the electro vibe of ‘One of Them’ which shouts hit single. This is a very enjoyable listen, well produced, with a modern sound, highly recommended for pop/rock fans and anyone who enjoys good songs with catchy choruses that stay in your head. Easily available on CD Baby and why not check them out at http://weekendonmars.com/ aswell. 8.5/10 (Reviewed by Phil)

WEENDO...'YOU NEED TO KNOW YOURSELF'

(Self Release) Reviewed 21st August 2012

Weend'ô, pronounced Window, from Aquitaine in France, were formed in 2005 by vocalist/keyboardist Laetitia Chaudemanche and guitarist Térence N'Guyen Van. They gathered together a team of virtuoso musicians to produce sleek ultra modern melodic prog rock/metal that is in the realm of Porcupine Tree, The Reasoning, Delusion Squared, Magenta, and Ayreon. Lovely Laetitia at times has the sort of voice that conjures up images of smoky jazz clubs with the limelight falling on a femme fatal chanteuse, at other times she has a Sinead O'Connor esque passionate attitude, and as can be intimated by the album title, the album is full of Laetitia's deep philosophical lyrics. On 'Dark Element', 'Betrayal', 'Run Away' and 'Deadline' they lay down a cool jazzy groove during the verses, founded on Térence and Rodolphe's glistening echoing intertwining guitars, Maxime's bubbling fluid bass, Laetitia's synth pads and Nathanaël's rolling drums, then erupt into driving dynamic action for the refrains. Lead track 'Experience' (video on Female Voices) and title track 'The Need to Know Yourself' are more rocking, and the album proper ends with the moving piano ballad 'The Soulmate'. The most striking track is the threatening pounding 'Welcome In My Mind', although I have the funny feeling I am not actually welcome in Laetitia's mind, and I thought I was imagining the touch of punk until Laetitia sings “I've entered a murky and hysterical place, a crowd of fans wanting to take off, they pogo too high”. There are plenty of displays of incredible instrumental prowess, but the song itself always come first, even on the couple of longer tracks where they stretch out, and it's all beautifully produced by Olivier Marot. Unusually you get longer versions of ‘Dark Element’ and ‘Experience’, and a shorter version of ‘Betrayal’ as bonus tracks. What makes this package really special is you also get a full length, top quality, professionally filmed live DVD as well, with all eight songs off the album, plus two more, the acoustic ‘My Dear M’ and the thrashing powerful ‘Why Not’, all with excellent sound and light show, showing the incredible skill of the musicians and Laetitia passionate stage presence. Normally these bonus DVD’s are a couple of songs, not a full production, it’s really excellent and well worth the money on its own.
France are producing a new breed of contemporary, sophisticated and accessible melodic prog bands, based on superb songwriting, and performed with great skill. You need to know their website is here, their Bandcamp is here, this is a wonderful and fantastic value package so 9.25/10 (Phil)

WEEPING SILENCE..'END OF AN ERA'

(Sleaszy Rider) Reviewed 26th October 2009

Weeping Silence from Malta have a long history, stretching back to the 90’s,releasing an album in 2000. It’s taken eight years to release this, their second,during which time they have undergone many changes. Vocalist Rachel Grech has a truly magnificent voice, a mix of Marcela Bovio and Sharon Den Adel. After a short spooky intro, there follows four beautiful, dreamy songs that rise and fall, rise and fall like the sea, over the course of about 10 minutes each, full of Streams of Passion like other worldly moodiness and splendour. I listened to this on a Sunday morning, and this proved to be perfect to relax and chill out to, after a stressful week I felt at peace with the world. The only criticism is the rather trebly rhythm guitar sound in the heavier passages, but the musicianship is superb, with lovely guitar work and atmospheric keys. Copies are available on EBay. They have another album in the can and are looking for a label; they deserve to have companies beating down the door to sign them. 8.5/10 (Reviewed by Phil)

WEEPING SILENCE..4 Track Promo/Demo

(Independent Release) Reviewed 22nd August 2010

Weeping Silence from Malta is on the path to stardom. This Demo consists of four tracks from their unreleased third album 'Theatre of Life'. Vocalist Rachel Grech has a totally awesome voice, which suits this style of music to the ground. Track one, the 6+ minute 'Promises Broken' is technically brilliant, with a great choral interlude too. 'Dark Waters' sends shivers down my spine, with Rachel's vocals again the star here, although I must say that the overall musicianship from all concerned is nothing short of excellent. Again we have the use of choral arrangements that gives the music that extra lift. 'Within White Walls' is a slower number with an upbeat and catchy chorus, while 'Innocent Cries' ends this great little demo, again using choral arrangements to great effect. I like everything about this little beast, a lot. Their myspace is at www.myspace.com/weepingsilence. 9/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

WEEPING SILENCE..'THEATRE OF LIFE'

(Ravenheart Music) Reviewed 25th May 2011

Malta's Weeping Silence have been on the metal scene since the mid 90's and are the very definition of a band who have paid their dues and deserve success. I along with a host of other reviewers were mightily impressed with their last release, 2008's 'End of an Era', but this album sees them take it to the next level as they look to break out and take on the might of European gothic metal. There is a massive void left by Within Temptation's move into 80's melodic metal, so the time is certainly ripe. I do not mean to suggest that Weeping Silence are copying Within Temptation, quite the opposite, they have an equally long history (founded a year before in fact), the same roots in 90's doom, and have undergone a similar natural metamorphosis into symphonic gothic metal. However there they diverge as Weeping Silence have chosen to develop the 'Mother Earth' style which I have sadly missed, it is curious that very few bands have explored this distinctive branch of metal despite its original success. There are eight multifaceted epics containing that unique mix of symphonic, gothic and prog rock/metal with the doom turned into a melancholic atmosphere as they swirl and sweep effortlessly between heavier and lighter, slower and livelier passages, but always with a anthemic chorus at their heart. The biggest difference is that the lighter elements are more melodic rock rather than folk and indeed the whole album is almost as much rock as metal orientated. The other main difference is the highly varied lead guitar work by Mario and Manuel which punctuate Alison's orchestral keyboard soundscapes, and Sean's use of fretless bass is most unusual for a metal band, when combined with Angelo's skilled drumming it allows them to glide rather than pound. Perfectly matching and enhancing the music is lovely Rachel Grech's gorgeous pitch perfect voice that echoes Sharon den Adel's semi operatic post banshee/pre rock 'Silent Force' style, ably supported by four opera singers who have been magically transformed into a massed choir, and the band has thankfully and wisely ditched all traces of growling. It's all been professionally produced at the high-tech Temple Studios on Malta's sun-kissed Mistra Bay. We get off to a stately start with 'Of Light and Shadow', 'Dark Waters' then picks up the pace with it's catchy refrain, and 'Within White Walls' slows it down before it too gathers momentum. The inspiring title track 'Theatre of Life' comes next before the sublime 'Season’s Journey'. There is a lovely balance in the running order as they launch into awesome dynamic 'Promises Broken', followed by the reflective moody almost Camel'ish' instrumental 'Monuments' showcasing Sean's fretless, and we end with the rousing 'Innocent Cries'. Theatre of Life is a very apt title for this work, it has everything a good play should have, drama, poignancy, emotion, romance, thoughtfulness, darkness, lightness and Rachel's lyrical poetry. This is an album that grows with every listen, gradually enveloping you in its warm embrace. You can find their stage here, a theatrical 9.5/10 (Phil)

WEEPING SILENCE...'FOR THE UNSUNG'

(Ravenheart Music) Reviewed 15th October 2012

Malta's Weeping Silence are the only band on the planet you cannot accuse of sounding like Within Temptation, because they were founded at the same time with the same roots in the European doom scene, undergoing a similar transformation into a more symphonic gothic metal sound, but Weeping Silence have remained true to their gothic heritage. Compared to their last album 'Theatre of Life', this new one sees a ramp up in power and sonic quality, with some of those doom roots showing through, but in no way the turgid wrist slashing doom, just a deeper and more majestic style. The most controversial change is the addition of the growls of newest member Joe Gretch and special guest Anders Jacobson from Draconian, who appears on a couple of tracks, this is bound to split opinion, but what I will say is they are deep and not overpowering. Still out front are the wonderful emotive vocals of Rachel Grech, similar in style to Sharon Den Adel before she went more alt-rock, or vice versa and Sharon is similar to Rachel of course. It all comes wrapped in a stunning digipak designed by one of the World's top album artists, Jan Orkki Yrlund of Darkgrove (who is also guitarist with Imperia), which illustrates their concept of unsung heroes through the tragic Greek myth of the Coronides, daughters of Orion. They open with the beautiful introduction 'Mourning Sighs Farewell' which segues into the powerful, souring, lead song 'Love Lies Bleeding', featuring Anders, for which the band have made their first ever video (on Female Voices), showing off their new sound in all its glory, courtesy of top French producer Brett Calda-Lima. ' Disillusioned' really powers along, easing for one of their trademark stirring rousing refrains, and 'Mire of Pity' prowls and stalks menacingly. The next two are heavier, darker and more intense, the yearning 'The Search Within', the other song with Anders, and the dramatic 'Fallen From Grace'. These are followed by the dynamic stomping 'Bitter Screams' and 'The Darkest Hour' which sweeps from atmospheric ballad to mighty ferocity. Final track is the sombre 'My Possession' which is perhaps the song that is closest to their doom roots. All the songs allow plenty of space for the band to display their musical prowess, with terrific instrumental passages featuring Manuel's guitar leads and Alison's rippling piano. Weeping Silence have created a towering triumph of symphonic gothic metal, with an incredible immense sound and depth of emotion that stirs the soul, they are destined to send the world of metal ablaze, no longer will they be the unsung. You can discover them here, a majestic 9.25/10 (Phil)

WEREWORLD..'WEREWORLD'

(Avispa Music) Reviewed 20th Sept 2011

I was chatting with Guillermo the guitarist about how few Spanish bands of any description, let alone metal, become known outside their own borders, ask most people and they will be left scratching their heads, a very strange phenomenon for such a massive country, well, Wereworld are determined to put this right. At the core of their songs is top rate Sonata Arctica/Nightwish type powerful melodic symphonic metal, but what sets them apart from the crowd is the twists, turns and musical hooks they inject, anything from full blown orchestral to bluesy guitar solos to massed choirs to bursts of power metal to musical theatre to Ennio Morricone style film score to bouts of aggressive venom to Tijuana Brass to Mexican Mariachi to Celtic folk. There's even a touch of French accordion on one of my faves, 'Autumn Song', which transports you to the banks of the Seine on a rainy September's day. So many bands follow a predictable verse chorus pattern, once you've heard the first minute, you know what's coming next, Wereworld on the other hand keep you glued to the edge of your edge of your seat to the very last note. Not only does it take a highly talented, versatile and skilful band to carry this off, but also the song-writing/arrangements/band have to be dead tight to stop it becoming chaotic or ending up sounding like a pastiche, it all has to make sense in the context of the song. Out front adorable Ana Rochas has a dual faceted voice, deep powerful rock with occasional higher semi-operatic, with a delicious Spanish twang (all lyrics in excellent English, again unusual for a Spanish band), sometimes accentuated by a rather sexy rasp that sends a shiver down my spine, and she ably supported by Guillermo who does rock, tenor and aggressive but clean vocals. In fact, the variety of voices, duetting, storytelling, theatrical drama and musical diversions gives the album a feeling of a metal opera like Aina or Roswell Six. Keys player Jaime Sanz supplies many of the magical ingredients, the wonderfully named Danny Growl is allowed to show off his skills with the four stringer instead of the normal backing boom, and it is all powered along by Rubén Fernandez's drums, showing his flair around the toms. You get 9 mini epics and a couple of classic powerful ballads centred around the awesome 'Requiem for the World' and led by the catchy lead single 'I F.L.Y.' (video on Female Voices blog) with its tasty Moog motif, all professionally recorded. Their penchant for throwing all sorts into the mix is a two edged sword, it may confuse some people, but if like me you like the unpredictable, albeit kept under under strict control, then you will be in heaven, there is certainly something for everyone, whether you're into traditional, melodic, power or symphonic metal. It's down to your principles, do you either sell out and try to pander to a particular market, or you follow your own heart. Let us hope that people throughout Europe take Wereworld to their hearts, they certainly deserve it, their Facebook is here, a highly enterprising 9/10 (Phil)

WHERE ANGELS FALL..'MARIONETTES'

(Independent Release) Reviewed 4th November 2008

Norwegian band Where Angels Fall (www.myspace.com/whereangelsfall) continue the path with this release, that they led us onto with the Illuminate album. The distinct sound with angelic, melancolic melodies supported by groovy guitar riffs, and elements of electronica is now taken to another level. The band was founded in 2004 and has released an EP (Dies Irae, 2004) and the album, the aforementioned 'Illuminate' (2006). Now the time has come for a new release: 'Marionettes'. And it is not a bad effort either. Indeed, I think 'Marionettes' has a slightly more commercial edge than it's predecessor. The opening salvo of 'Marionettes (Again)' and 'Freeze Me' shows us the sort of direction we are going with this record. The thing is, this sort of music is right up my alleyway, so I must be frank to say it is difficult to be critical. I suppose one could say that this has all been done before, and maybe that is correct, but when it is done this well, who's complaining. Overall, there is some good music on offer here including 'Path of Sorrow', this sounding like early Within Temptation. This sure is a good release for fans of the genre, so check it out. 8/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

WHERE ANGELS FALL...'REDEMPTION'

(Self Released) Reviewed 19th June 2015

Here we go again with another awesome release. I admit that I am playing catch up with reviews, but if there is anybody out that says that "one's health shouldn't come first", leave this website now :). Anyway, having digressed, here we have another release from the maestros from Norway, Where Angels Fall. And what a corker! There are ten tracks on the cd and everyone more or less hits the spot. 'Beyond Repair' kicks off in fine fettle and is one helluva track and I just love the vocals of Eirin Bendigtsen, she sounds kinda, well a little evil and devilish on this number - love it! 'We Are The Gods' is a cool guitar/synth driven number while 'Mothmother' maintains the synth driven momentum. 'Earth Visited' is a more conventional mid tempo rock number and so far, this record is rather enjoyable. There are further cool tracks to enjoy including 'Senseless' which is so catchy and Erin's vocals so angelic, the heavier sounding tracks 'Defeated' & 'Thinspiration', and the symphonic sounding 'Victim'. I myself think the band here has upped the ante from their previous offering 'Marionettes' and long may it continue - all the numbers here are very impressive indeed. Their website is here informing you of all the info and containing the odd video or two :)... 9/10 (Dave)

WHILE SUN ENDS..'THE EMPTINESS BEYOND' (Promo)

(Self Release) Reviewed 21st October 2011

Another goodie that Dave has sent my way. The blond I may be, but I like my metal black! While Sun Ends call themselves an Alternative/Death Metal Band, and that sums this 8 track record up rather nicely. I think you could add the word Progressive into that little mix as well, the progressive elements to my ears surfacing a little on opener 'Last Moments'. This is mainly mid paced to up tempo aggressive music from this Italian Band, with quiter, slower and rather more atmospheric interludes occasionally added to the pot. Most of the vocals, extreme and clean are done by their leading lady Serena, although others are involved throughout the course of the recording. For example, Jonathan from Sunpocrisy has made the clean vocal with Serena on the track 'The Stage', while Rubens from Hungry Like Rakovitz does the screams in some parts on 'Winter'. This style of music may make some listeners hide behind their sofas, but this brings out the bad girl in me :) For fans of this style of music, I would say to give this band a listen by checking out their myspace, as they are worth looking into! 8.25/10 (Rachel)

WHISPERING WOODS..'FAIRY WOODS'

(Self Release) Reviewed 10th October 2011

Romanians Whispering Woods were founded by guitarist Doru Căilean in 2008 with the dream of creating a complete concept that would embrace their music, image and live shows. Since then is has taken many line-up changes and a great deal of dedication to finally realise their vision. So this is a concept album based upon their own fairytale, but this no ordinary story as you are the main protagonist. Awaking in a forest you believe you are in a dream, but after a terrifying encounter with a Leviathan you realise that this is a very real world beyond normal reality. The story then unfolds as you are taken on an amazing adventure deep into the Fairy Woods. I feel this mysterious and enigmatic tale is a subtle allegory for plight of our planet as it heads towards ecological disaster, and only if we become one again with nature can we save our beautiful world, but you may also have your own feelings and interpretations, it is certainly a story full of deep, profound and multiple meaning. They cultivate a hybrid of light symphonic gothic folk rock/metal that entwines around early Within Temptation, Weeping Silence, Dunwich, Lyriel and Materdea, with Alexandra Burcă's excellent authentic operatic voice that suits the music perfectly. The songs are very descriptive and evocative, taking you on a variety of twisting, turning paths, sometimes dramatic, sometimes gentle, sometimes rocking, sometimes soothing, perfectly personified by the epic 'Ode to the Leviathan' where they organically climb from the quiet stillness of a forest clearing through the crown canopy to soaring crescendos amongst the tree tops. This is music to light a scented candle to, sit back, and become one with the story and atmosphere, like on 'Black Wedding' where Cora Miron starts with a wedding march on her organ before it becomes a creepy funeral dirge, or the spooky vibe in the rocking 'Ghost in the Monastery'. The production is clear and precise with a live feel, it is a good job that they are all good musicians and singers because there is no wall of sound or studio trickery to hide behind, every nuance of what they play is exactly what you hear. This is a band that shows that less can be more, like Cora's aching piano on the plaintive 'Sleeping Angel', and at times you can even hear the rustle of the snare or the hum of the strings as they drop to just guitar and drums, their woods really can whisper. Radu uses a variety of acoustic and electric sounds to complement the music, and Cătălina Popa, who has played with Haggard, provides loads of folky flute to the sound, exemplified by the beautiful folk rock 'The Call of the Trees' and the lively title track 'Fairy Woods'. This is a work of huge imagination and atmosphere so take the path to their Whispering Wood here, and it's available at a variety of download branches, an enchanted 8.75/10 (Phil)

WHISPERS OF FATE..'EMBRACE MY WINTER'

(Self Release) Reviewed 23rd January 2011

Whispers Of Fate is an Italian Symphonic Gothic Metal project brought to life by the near operatic vocal style of Betty, together with Kaos on guitars. The musical compositions from this duo began in early 2007, and after many attempts to form a proper band they start working on their first full-length album. Even if the band's core still consists of the two founding members, in 2009 Alexander joins the project as drummer and Venom (cool name eh?) as keyboard player, and in the latter part of 2010 this album is released. Although classed as an album, I would call this more an EP, the work featuring seven tracks offering just slightly more than 30 minutes of symphonic wintry melodies melted with female vocals, in a powerful metal attitude. What I do notice on this release is the orchestration that is brought to life by the keys and synths, and accompanied elsewhere by some competent musicanship too. 'Forgotten Prayer' is an awesome orchestral atmospheric intro, whilst 'Sphere' is quite a catchy track. 'Preludio D'Inverno' is a quieter number sung in Betty's native tongue (presumably), that merges into the final track, the more upbeat 'Frozen Heart'. This is a very interesting release, and proving that there is a helluva lot of pretty decent unsigned stuff out there. Check them out at www.myspace.com/whispersoffate. Not bad, not bad at all...8.5/10 (Dave)

WHISPERING TALES..'AD ABOLENDAM, ASHES, BLOOD and STARS'

(Self Release) Reviewed 19th November 2012

I thoroughly enjoyed doing the special review of this French symphonic metal bands début album, 'Echoes of Perversion', available to read here. They have now recorded a special EP containing a trilogy of epics based on the atrocities carried out by the medieval Roman Catholic Church against people they saw as heretics and their desire to retain their almighty power and total authority, with the intention to draw parallels with the events of today where terrible evils are committed by people who are supposed to be men of god. The issues and themes are a very important part of the album so I will cover them in some detail. The EP's title comes from the Ad Abolendum (on abolition) which was a 1184 Papal Bull by Pope Lucius III outlining the Church's measures against all they considered heretics, which resulted in the events covered by the songs. The first is about the Cathars, a Christian sect that grew up in the 11th century, they were a simple people whose religious beliefs were in sharp contrast to those of Rome. Rome saw them as a threat to their power, especially the Cathar's anti materialistic views as Rome enjoyed great wealth, and so they responded by sending the Albigensian Crusade to destroy them in their main heartland in the Languedoc region in the south west of France. In the resulting war around half a million people died and 'Ashes In The Field' is about the infamous massacre of the Cathars at Montségur Castle, where 250 men, women and children were burnt alive in 1244 for refusing to give up their faith. It is shocking that this level of intolerance and cruelty based on beliefs is still so prevalent, this is about an historical event, but it could have been written about today. 'Limpieza De Sangre', which means 'Cleanliness of Blood', is about the notorious Spanish Inquisition, and the laws against anyone who they consider to not have 'pure' Christian blood, for example those with Jewish or Muslim ancestry, which has terrifying comparisons with modern fascism, racism, and ethnic cleansing. 'Sidereus Nuncius', Starry Messenger, takes it's name from the 1610 book by Galileo Galilei, where he first suggested that the Earth was not the centre of the universe, an observation first made by the ancient Greeks, which was in stark contradiction to Rome's Aristotelian world view, where the Earth, and in particular the Vatican, was the centre of the universe. In 1633 Galileo was put on trial by for heresy for suggesting that the earth revolved around the sun, this had nothing to do with faith or science, but everything to do with politics, Rome was the centre of the universe and therefore power, and anyone who suggested otherwise must be stopped at all costs. This truly superb, thought provoking EP can be downloaded for free from their website here, pick up a copy of their album too! A remarkable 9/10 (Phil)

WHISPERING WOODS...'PERDITUS ET DEA'

(Loud Rage Music) Reviewed 27th March 2015

Whispering Woods come from Romania and is an eight piece Metal band with four girls and four guys! The idea of Whispering Woods came to life during 2008, when two good friends decided to start a musical project which would have as a main character the symphonic genre. Currently, the vocals are shared by Alexandra Burcă (Soprano) and Corina Hamat (Mezzo Soprano), and this is as is most music that comes our way rather good! The flute (played by Cătălina Popa) plays a primary role within the band's music, adding a folky feel to the proceedings. There are twelve tracks here of Symphonic/Gothic Metal, and I do rather like the flute that plays a major part throughout the album. The record is evenly consistent throughout and at times rather enchanting, and although there are no immediate stand out cuts from the 12 on offer, the record is damn good and is well worth checking out for all you Symphonic/Gothic Metal fans out here. And you get your monies worth with four epic numbers exceeding the 6 minute mark, and some beastie vocals on 'Poetica' and 'Circle Complete'. The bands website is at www.the-whispering-woods.com...8.5/10 (Dave)

WHITE OAK STAVES...'HUMAN'

(Self Release) Reviewed April 24th 2015

Music is the universal language of humans, connecting hearts and minds. The tale begins with a troubled heavy metal guitarist, lost & wandering. A travel-weary bluesman guides them on an unknown path, stumbling upon a maniacal drummer, visiting a loved one. Soon, they are lured by the haunting sounds of a jazz improvisationalist, to the siren song of an enchanting singer. Finally, one of the best sound designers in the heartland gathers them together as one. Each of them will continue on their separate paths through life, possibly never meeting again. Well, while taking a couple of days away in the depths of the Dorset countryside here in the UK, this release from this USA band is refreshingly different to anything else we generally come across at the towers. The band is fronted by Stephanie Zuluaga, who is currently in Boston University's College Of Fine Arts production of CARMEN, and she is ably backed up by a fine body of musicians. There are 9 tracks here that offer a unique sound - classic heavy metal guitar riffs, driven by maniacal drumming, layered with melodic bass, topped with spoken word and a cool splash of jazz, and finished with soaring female vocals. The band musically kinda reminds me at times of Sweden's ACT III which is not a bad thing. This is different, it is original and because of that, I rather like it!. And the closing track which I believe is listed as a bonus cut, 'Fire In The Sky', is a take on Deep Purple's 'Smoke On The Water' - cool! The band's website is here.... 8.25/10 (Dave)

WHITE WILLOW..'TERMINAL TWILIGHT'

(Termo Records) Reviewed 2nd October 2011

Norwegians White Willow have been important players in the prog scene since their 1995 début, now they are now back after a five year hiatus with their strongest line-up to date, including the return of the voice of White Willow, Sylvia Skjellestad. They are rooted in the great British tradition of melodic prog, Gentle Giant, Caravan, Camel, Jon Anderson, early pre AOR Genesis and early pre weird King Crimson, but with added art pop-rock and a touch of alternative, folk and gothic rock, plus an occasional smidgeon of avant garde. However, although they use vintage equipment, this sounds a very modern record, its retro prog, but brought bang up to date. White Willow weave their magic through seven polymorphic lengthy excursions, plus the reflective closer 'A Rumour of Twilight'. They are full of beautiful vocal melodies, superb instrumental parts, great sounds, glorious tunes, loads of fascinating diversions, enchanting acoustic forays, and bursts of powerful rocking. This is one of those albums that has the “ooh I like that bit” factor by the shovel load, I'm particularly taken with the catchy climax to 'Natasha Of The Burning Woods', if they did a dance mix it would be smash in the clubs, and it is all content, not noodling. It is all capped with Sylvia's wonderful warm voice, she could be Jon Anderson's daughter, and propelled along by Mattias Olsson's mighty shed building drums and Ellen Andrea Wang's Jon Camp/Chris Squire esque grunting bass. Lars Fredrik Frøislie's avalanche of keyboards take me back to the days when Rick Wakeman and Patrick Moraz had a mountain of equipment the size of Everest, the likes of Moog, Arp, Mellotron, Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer, Hammond, etc. etc., oh what names to conjure with. Ketil Einarsen's flute is a key ingredient, but more classical and pure than Ian Anderson's huff and puff, and guitarist and songwriter Jacob Holm-Lupouses uses a diverse palette of sounds and styles, from gentle acoustic picking to soaring leads. Although his haunting lyrics were written before the terrible terrorist attacks in his homeland, they have now take on a fresh poignancy and perspective, and although he has had misgivings, he said there “something cathartic and therapeutic in the music”. Steve Wilson for once is nowhere to be seen, he must be on holiday, but you can't totally escape his clutches as his chum from No-Man, Tim Bowness, contributes vocals and lyrics to the more pastoral 'Kansas Regrets'. This is the return of the an important band and a must for all aficionados of all things prog of whatever hue, their forest is here, a tremendous 9/10 (Phil)

WHYZDOM..' FROM THE BRINK OF INFINITY'

(Ascendance Records) Reviewed 22nd September 2009

This is the debut album from the French symphonic metal sextet, although the maturity in their music is phenomenal. They have a truly massive sound, with huge orchestrations, thundering band, and their own 15 strong Dark whispers Choir. This makes the production by leader, main songwriter, and guitarist Vynce Leff even more remarkable, every instrument can be clearly heard, no mean feat when there is so much going on. Telya Melane has a soaring voice, reminiscent of a young Sharon Den Adel, she has to give it some real oomph to rise above the music, and she shows enormous skill in singing some very demanding vocal lines. The album starts with a trio of Nightwish / Epica / Sirenia / Delain type epics, that move seamlessly from light to dark, before the awesome ‘The Power and the Glory’. The brief ‘Freedom’ is jaw dropping, with gorgeous choir and guitar solo. The next song ‘Escaping the Ghosts of Reality’ is heavier with some growling, even though I belong to the anti growling club, I have to admit it is very effectively. Even this song flows into quieter waters. ‘Atlantis’ features a chorus that Nightwish would give their right arms for. ‘The Old Man in the Park’ is extraordinary, moving from a gentle start to something darker, with a very unusual chord change. ‘The Seeds of Chaos’ blasts your ears off before the choral first part of Daughter of the Night. This segues into part 2, which shows off everything that is great about this band, Within Temptation gone power metal. The last song has a Celtic start that even features bagpipes, before moving into something that sounds like Mike Oldfield gone metal. It ends with the bagpipes fading off into the distance, like the clans leaving Culloden. This album is close to musical nirvana for me, and anyone who like massive, sophisticated and challenging symphonic metal, and indeed anyone who enjoys any of the afore mentioned bands, should rush out and grab a copy. 9.5/10 (Reviewed by Phil)

WHYZDOM...'BLIND'

(Scarlet Records) Reviewed 14th September 2012

The mighty French formation, founded in 2007 by guitarist Vynce Leff, return with the eagerly anticipated follow up to their outstanding 2009 début, ‘From the Brink of Infinity’. Their music sits in it’s own unique place, they are the prog rock and metal loving cousins of a modern but heavier Nightwish and a grow less Epica. Brand new singer Elvyne Lorient does sound at times rather like Anette Olzon, her sweet voice juxtaposed against the tumultuous typhoon raging behind her, she does an incredible job of not getting swept away in the cyclone, standing loud and proud, personified by her peerless performance on ‘Cassandra’s Mirror’, and she enjoys the support of their very own Dark Whispers Choir, who also appear with the band at their shows. Once again Vynce’s production pulls off the seemingly impossible task of keeping the 16,000 things that are going on simultaneously as clear as a bell, as well as making it sound like a homogeneous whole, quite how he does it without it turning into soup defies all logic. They are a fantastic and hugely entertaining band live, but it’s interested how they strip away all the complexity, and concentrate on rocking the place and having a good time. This is a set of eleven thundering throbbing thumping songs with immense refrains, 70 minutes of music rammed into the grooves, including the totally staggering, jaw dropping ‘On The Road to Babylon’, which sounds at times something like Yes gone symphonic heavy metal, afterwards they allow a few moments of quiet for us to recover before the dramatic ballad ‘Paper Princess’ with it’s extraordinary Rachmaninov esque piano by Marc. Other highlights include the Celtic flavoured ‘Lonely Roads’, the swaggering 'The Foreseer' and the closing humungous epic ‘Cathedral of the Damned’. Every song has so much going on you can listen to this until the end of time and still find something new, like Xavier's terrific bass solo in ‘Venom and Frustration’ which Jaco Pastorius would be proud of, and the orchestral arrangement's by Vynce are simply wondrous. Whyzdom have produced a mind boggling, colossal, awe inspiring album that will have every symphonic metal fan salivating, especially those of a prog persuasion. Their website can be found here, a mind blowing 9.5/10 (Phil).

WHYZDOM...'SYMPHONY FOR A HOPELESS GOD'

(Scarlet Records) Reviewed 9th Jan 2015

'Symphony For A Hopeless God’ is the third album from French Symphonic Metal band Whyzdom. After two successful albums relying on the power of Symphonic Orchestra and Metal riffing, as well as on the beauty of female voices, they push their own “Philharmonic Metal” concept one step further with this eleven track release, adding an even more cinematic edge to their songs. The orchestra has never been so powerful, choirs have never been so haunting, riffs have never been so compelling and the vocals have never been so intense, ranging from pure and fragile melodies to harsh growls, all provided by mezzo-soprano Marie Rouyer. Six tracks here run in at over 6 minutes (with one over 7) and there is only one under the five minute mark, so one gets their monies worth here. This is dynamic mind blowing metal at its finest and most compelling, and I believe to be their best release to date. Tracks like the opener 'While The Witches Burn', the pounding and catchy 'Let's Play With Fire' and the bombastic and ever so slightly Progressive 'Theory Of Life' will leave you breathless and wanting more, the latter seeing vocalist Marie let rip! Whyzdom was always knocking on the door of major league female fronted metal, they have now been allowed in big time. Produced by Vynce Leff, being recorded, mixed and mastered at Powermania Studio, Paris, this is one helluva Symphony For A Hopeless God and as a consequence, is a must buy. Released Feb 17th! - 2015 is already looking good.. 9.75/10 (The Nugget - Natalie Gold)