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Ravenheart Reviews: Archived

Reviews X

XANDRIA..'INDIA'

(Drakkar Records) Reviewed 25th November 2006

I have lived with this cd (that I aquired on import) for some while now. And I must admit to being a firm fan of this Gothic Metal Band, having all their previous releases. Unless Nightwish get their act together, Xandria fronted by the gorgeous and bubbly Lisa, could well offer a serious challenge to the Nightwish mantle. This cd offers the listener 12 tracks of pompous Gothic metal. It kicks off with the title track which does remind me a little of the aforementioned Finnish rockers. 'Now and Forever' follows and this is one of my faves. The keyboards on this track set the hairs on the back of my neck on end. And if that wasn't enough, track 3, 'In Love With The Darkness' (not the British Rock band by the way!!) keeps the momentum going. All the tracks on 'India' are excellent, with 'Widescreen' another favourite of ours here at Ravenheart! Xandria are now in the process of getting material together for their next album...Can't wait!! 9/10.. By the way, Xandria kick ass live too!! (Reviewed by Dave)

XANDRIA..'SALOME AND THE SEVENTH VEIL'

(Drakkar) Reviewed 1st June 2007

This year seems to be producing some superb female fronted releases. Sirenia, then the awesome Within Temptation opus, and now this from our buddies Xandria. I admit I have liked Xandria from their very first cd. And every one seems to get better. I thought their last offering 'India' was going to prove a difficult one to better, but yep, Xandria have produced a cd that I think does better it. 'Salome The Seventh Veil' is a very good cd indeed. It kicks of with the catchy 'Save My Life', that has an intro that reminds me a little of Sirenia (Nine Destinies And A Downfall). And the album just seems to get better from then on, with some far eastern influences creeping in from time to time. That is of no surprise considering the album's title! Track 5, 'Salome' reminds me of the Xandria of old, which is followed swiftly by the up tempo 'Only For The Stars In Your Eyes'. Thereafter, the cd seems to remain up tempo, with the exception of the rather lovely 'The Wind And The Ocean'. There are some great tracks taking us to the end of the cd, including the ultra catchy 'Sleeping Dogs Lie'. I cannot stop playing this album, which offers 48 mins + of gothic metal. Any fan of female fronted rock and metal will lap this up. The album has a great production by the band itself. It's already out in Europe, and it gets released in the UK on June 11th. Go and buy! 9/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

XANDRIA..'NEVERWORLD'S END'

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 9th February 2012

Xandria, well what can I say? Since their shoot-to-fame debut 'Kill the Sun' and the ever-popular hit album 'Ravenheart', the band has attracted an ever-increasing fanbase.They have indeed been a fave band of mine now for some while, and Ravenheart Music actually takes it's name from their second album. This is the band's debut appearance on the Napalm Rosta, and if there is anybody out there that misses the Nightwish of old, this album will be for you. The band in February 2011 parted ways with its singer of one year, Kerstin Bischof, who herself replaced original singer Lisa Middelhauve. Now fronted by the awesome operatic voice of Manuela Kraller (one of the best operatic voices I have ever heard), listening to this album for the first time left me totally gobsmacked and lost for words, Manuela understanding how to express an entire range of emotions, and as a consequence, she is an incredible asset to the band.This release is going to be enormous, absolutely no doubt about that. The opening salvo of 'A Prophecy of Worlds to Fall', and 'Valentine' confirm that the band has stayed true to its original sound, while tipping the scales in favour of a more metal sound. Heavy guitars and a driving double bass meet symphonic elements and captivating melodies. Totally mind blowing. And just when you thought "wow", along comes 'Forevermore' at a slightly lower tempo but still just as awesome, and with a chorus that will remain in your head for ages afterwards. 'Blood On My Hands' is another track that will leave you spellbound, while 'Soulcrusher' is a heavy and slightly more complex number, as the title may suggest. 'The Dream Is Still Alive' is the album's ballad, and there is even some Folk influences within 'A Thousand Letters' and 'Cursed'. Epic closer, the 9 minute plus 'The Nomads Crown' drops some middle eastern influences into the glorious choral backdrop, ending the album in magnificent fashion. This album offers one glorious highlight after another, delivering the perfect union between metal and magnificence, a Symphonic Metal masterpiece full of sensual and breathtaking moments. No doubt some people will now call them Nightwish clones, but I disagree, this is Xandria, plain and simple. This is a must buy, this band having just powered it's way to the top of the Premier League with this record!! 10/10 (Dave)

XANDRIA...'SACRIFICIUM'

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 15th April 2014

Xandria, a band that I have followed since their debut, is back and back with a vengeance. Featuring new vocalist Dianne van Giersbergen, whose vocals on this album are massive and operatic, the band offer up a record of monumental proportions. There are twelve tracks here and if you are going to kick off an epic album, then why not get started with an epic track, the 10 minute plus title track. A Symphonic masterpiece in it's own right, and that is just the opener. 'Nightfall' follows in a similar style, and surely Xandria's position within the premier league of female fronted metal has been cemented with this release. After that bombastic opening, we then get the catchy and commercial 'Dreamkeeper' and the heavy 'Stardust' the latter thundering along like a bull on steroids. Further highlights are a plenty including 'The Undiscovered Land' (a lovely power ballad), the powerful 'Until The End', the bouncy 'Come With Me' and the Folk inspired 'Temple Of Hate'. I am not sure whether this actually betters the previous album 'Neverworld's End', but whether it does or not, this sure is a Symphonic belter of an album.. 9.75/10 (Dave)

XANDRIA...'FIRE & ASHES'

(Napalm Records) Reviewed 9th July 2015

Following the release of the universally praised studio album 'Sacrificium' which also marked the impressive debut of charismatic vocalist Dianne van Giersbergen, the new EP 'Fire & Ashes' rises like the proverbial phoenix. With full symphonic force, there are three brand new songs, all of which possess the 'wow factor' and two special re recordings of all time XANDRIA fan faves, 'Ravenheart' (Ravenheart, 2004) and 'Now & Forever' (India, 2005), these showcasing the band at its very best. On top of that the band have recorded for this EP two exclusive cover songs - 'Don`t Say A Word' (Sonata Arctica) and an overall, fave song of mine, 'I would do anything for love (but I won’t do that)' (Meat Loaf), which have both been rearranged and now gleam in full symphonic glory. This EP is bombastic and magical from a band that has been a fave of mine for years. It gets released via Napalm on 31st July and is as always with this band, well recommended to all and sundry... 9.25/10 (Dave)

XANIMA..'INSIDE WARRIOR'

(Lion Music) Reviewed 1st June 2009

Imagine Evanescence mixed with Enigma goes Kate Bush.....enter: X Anima. The band's nucleus is Pelle Händén who handles keyboards, programming, and is the composer - the female voice is provided by Jade Ell, who is also involved with the lyrics, piano and all vocal arrangements. We have here beautiful melodies, perfect grooves and excellent sound design. It's all a creative combination of pop-rock-electronica with subtle doses of symphonica. It's dark, light, fantasy, heaven and hell... and all that makes up 'Inside warrior', Xanima's debut release. 'The Deeds and the Damage' gets proceedings underway, and from this track alone, one can tell that this isn't your traditional rock or metal fare. But so what, I like it! 'Caged' is pretty cool too, while a couple of my faves on the album so happen to be the bouncy 'Born Into This Skin' and the equally bouncy 'The Essence Of Being'. Other cool songs on this record include 'Soaring' and the awesome and atmospheric title track. Lion Music (well done Lars) has hit on a winner here, that exibits crossover potential - even in the UK market. I like this very much and although not traditional rock or metal, for anybody who is open minded with their music, or is most certainly into the above mentioned acts and similar, give it a try, you will not be disappointed. A cool record! 9/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

XANIMA...'PROTOTYPE: HOMO SAPIENS'

(Freeside Records) Reviewed 13th May 2014

Xanima fronted by the radio friendly vocals of Jade Ell, is dramatic and visual artrock to a tee. It’s dark, light, fantasy - all put into a dreamy landscape. The songs of this the band's second album, is describing the complex journey of a soul - that's been chosen to be the model for the whole human kind - a "Prototype: Homo Sapiens". Mixing a creative combination of pop-rock-electronica, this so happens to be a good record. Kinda imagine Kate Bush mixed with a little Evanescence and throw in a bit of Ego Likeness and hey presto! This is not in yer face Rock or Metal by any means, but you could call it 13 tracks of catchy Electro Pop-Rock with elements of Prog if you so wish, laid back at times, up tempo at others. The album is a consistently good one, although there isn't any particular track to my ears that actually jumps out and grabs you, although I do rather like 'A Given Oath' as being one of my faves from the record - an upbeat catchy number. The band's website is at www.xanima.eu/music.html and the video to a track from the album 'Ritual Dance', can be viewed here. Worth checking out, it has our seal of approval here at Ravenheart!... 8.25/10 (Dave)

Xe-NONE..'DANCEFLOORATION'

(RefLEXYa Records) Reviewed 1st April 2011

During my dafter moments I like to tease friends that Katy Perry has joined Cradle of Filth or Shakira is making an album with Fear Factory, but sadly they never believe me. Well, if you want to know what such a concoction might sound like, look no further, Russians Xe-NONE with their raving dance metal. Grooving dance synths and beats courtesy of Newman and Push, F****r's (it rhymes with tucker’s) raging riffing metal guitars (yep F****r is the name of the guitarist!), Lexy Dance yelling his head off during the ve_blankrses and ravishing Lady EvilAnn belting out ridiculously catchy choruses like a suped up Lulu, what a mixture. Two things are for sure, this will blow your mind and it's the most fun you can have with your clothes on (unless you're a contortionist!). They were formed by Lexy and Newman in Kirov back in 2004 to create a fusion between 90's dance music and modern metal, releasing their appropriately titled début album 'Dance Metal [Rave]olution' that was recorded in 2007 and released in 2008. 'Heartcore' sets out their manifesto of mayhem, turn it up until the needles turn red and watch the neighbours run screaming into the street. Tunes like 'Summertime' and 'Cyber Girl' will have you dancing around the room like your pants (or knickers) are on fire, and 'VHS' reminds me of The Buggles gone metal. However, this is no joke band, they are all excellent musicians, the immense production is totally professional, EvilAnn has an amazing voice, and the songwriting is superb, for examples of their more serious side just listen to 'Dreamcity' and 'Blackhole Time', while 'Blood, Fire, Snow' is one of the most colossal, ferocious and terrifying symphonic metal songs I have ever heard, the neighbours will be begging for mercy. This is a wild tango into uncharted territory, music for the feet and head that will bring a smile to your face and spring in your step, so strut you_blankr funky stuff to their dance-floor here, a mind bending body popping 8.5/10 (Phil)

XIPHEA...'FROM THE UNCHARTED ISLAND'

(Self Release) Reviewed 1st June 2015

XIPHEA has come my way, hailing from Germany they are an unsigned Symphonic Metal Band. Having listened to this, it became increasingly apparent that the vocalist sounded rather familiar. Yep, it is Sabine from Rawkfist, and she has a unique vocal style that has done and still blows me away. There are ten tracks here of prime time Symphonic Metal from the top drawer and I do rather like it. A great album from a great band of musicians, all the numbers are cool, with fave tracks currently being the bombastic 'Monument', the power ballad 'Crossroads Of Dreams' and the near 8 minute epic closing track 'Sweet The Tale'. Check out the band's website here... 8.75/10 (Dave)

XOANON..'MIDDAY'

(Self Release) Reviewed 5th June 2011

Xoanon are a mysterious Polish group who are so unknown even the band have never heard of themselves. Added to that on singer Ula's own Myspace site she calls herself 'Secretly'. All I can tell you is that the other two members are Waldy, guitar and bass and Kriss on synth, and, urmmm, that's it really. But they really do exist, their CD sits proudly on display amongst the Monets and Manets in the Tour du Roi's Chambre de Chevaliers here at Ravenheart Towers. By now you are probably expecting this to sound like it was recorded on a cheap mobile phone in someone's bathroom, but they are far above your average amateur back bedroom band, and the production is surprisingly professionally good. They have a distinctive brand of thoughtful engrossing melodic gothic metal with strong leanings towards symphonic and prog rock, sort of somewhere between Delain and Anathema. The songs swirl and sweep from lighter to powerful heavier passages with loads of surprising twists and turns, unpredictable without being disjointed. The gentler sections are sublime, and have an almost ethereal tranquillity, 'Slipping' being a perfect example, and when they take off like on the soaring 'Scorching' the results are quite stunning. To compliment this Waldy uses a wide variety of guitar sounds, and Kriss's keyboards are excellent, for a three piece band they make one hell of a massive sound. Ula has a delightful strong semi-operatic voice, my only complaint is that she should be higher in the mix, especially during heavier parts. I presume a drum machine was used as there is no drummer credited, if it is then it is very well done, you will struggle to tell the difference, which again separates them from many other small projects that use tiresome clattering drum machines. Added to that the quality of their own songs such as the superb 'How Much Longer' is shown by the fact that their version of 'Only For The Weak' by In Flames fits seamlessly into the track list, and it is done their way, not as a replica. All in all a most surprising début from a most surprising band, as to obtain a copy, all I can suggest is writing to the band at xoanonband@gmail.com and their Myspace is here, a most surprising 8.5/10 (Phil)

XOCH..'POPCORE DU JORE'

(Independent release) Reviewed 17th Sept 2006

Dave has given me this mcd to review, as he felt his own review may perhaps be 'too generous', as he has known XOCH for a while, and he just loves her music. Being a gothic rocker, this would not normally be my cuppa tea, however I like it. This is good summer time music, with a punk vibe in places, especially on the great opening track 'Anything'. I particularly like the harder rockin 'Dirty Thoughts', with 'The Waiting' (one of Dave's faves too) and 'Kyle's Mom' other favourites of mine. 'Kyle's Mom' brings a smile to my face, every time I hear it. I like the final track too, 'The Enemy', but just as I was getting into that song, it came to an end. But we have to say, XOCH is an artist who is loved here at Ravenheart, she was even signed to a small indie label here in the UK, who released her excellent debut 'The One'. However, that label went bust, leaving XOCH an unsigned act yet again. This cd is a cool release, keep it up XOCH, and we look forward to the next one (excuse the pun). Like her other releases, this cd can be obtained from cdbaby.com....great stuff 7.5/10 (Reviewed by Aimee)

XOCH..'HOLLYWOOD'

(Independent Release) Reviewed 7th April 2010

Xoch from the USA, is a good friend of mine, and she has in-fact been good friends since before Ravenheart Music was even conceived. And she and her band have this uncanny ability to write and perform rather catchy little numbers. I feel for this lass, as a few years ago she had a UK deal. The label based in the NW of England went bust, and she even had to buy her own cds back from the distributor in London. Fast forward to 2010, and this cd is testament to this girls drive and ability. As for this latest offering 'Hollywood' - what we have is 8 listed tracks of inoffensive pop/rock (9 tracks on the cd in total) that you can blast out on your car's stereo on a nice Summer's day, with your sunroof down. Or if you are one of the many here in the UK that do not have a sun roof, then with the car windows wide open :) This cd is cool, pure cool. 'Stay With Me' starts proceedings, and is an awesomely catchy song that is followed by 'Winter In Hollywood'. A slower song but equally as catchy as the opener. The piano led 'Lullaby' follows and I do like this song. 'Break Your Heart' is pure Xoch bliss, while 'The Happiest Girl' is a song originally by Donna Fargo, and features just Xoch and her autoharp. One of my faves on the album, 'Wounds (When I Dream Of You Tonight)', picks up the pace, while the closing duo of 'Don't Look Back' and 'The End Of The World' closes what is a very pleasurable listen. There is a ninth track however, another version of 'Break Your Heart', so do not take the cd off the cd player prematurely. Check out www.myspace.com/xoch and then buy it. In summary, this is good and it is easy for me to mark this highly as I kinda know this lass. However, it has to be a 9/10...good stuff Xoch. (Reviewed by Dave)

XYSTUS..'EQUILIBRIO'

(Sensory) Reviewed 27th April 2009

This is a musical by the Dutch power metal band Xystus, available as a studio recorded CD (released end of 2008) and as a separate DVD/live CD of the actual show (just released I believe, their web site is about as clear as mud, the CD didn’t appear to be widely available until long after it was announced on their site). The music can best be decribed as ‘The Black Symphony’ meets Andrew Lloyd Webber. (George Oosthoek crops up as a guest on both!). The vocalists include Simone Simons from the mighty Epica. This is a very enjoyable listen, the band plays second fiddle to the symphony orchestra, so don’t expect much power metal, more of a rock opera. My main criticism is that they don’t tell you what the story is about! If you bought the live DVD then perhaps all will become clear, but if you have only got this CD, you’ll be totally in the dark. After scouring the internet all I can tell you it’s about a battle between good and evil. Xystus also seem to be very reluctant to promote this work outside the Netherlands (I only found out about it from the Epica website), which is a real shame, as fans of Epica, Within Temptation, and rock operas will find a lot to enjoy in this very ambitious project. 8.5/10 (Reviewed by Phil Wooldridge)