Ravenheart Archives: Reviews
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THE ACORN PEOPLE...'SECRETS'
(Self Release) Reviewed 18th Feb 2014
The Acorn People is a rock band made up of four individuals who met during college. They all shared this pressing need to rock faces off the masses. The lead singer and rhythm guitarist, Grace Jermusyk, started writing punk inspired rock music and then met a guy who knew a guy who knew a guy that wanted to incorporate his southern blues influence. He (Kris Cagle) ended up becoming the lead guitarist and introduced the drummer, Quinten Thornton, to Grace as well as the bassist, Rocco (Brendan Herr). The vocals from Grace are awesomely suited to the style of music that the band throws at the listener, no operatic leanings here, just a rock band with a punk and southern blues influence, coupled with a subtle organic and maybe retro feel to their music. The album is good and I myself cannot pick out any standout tracks as they are all consistent, although the album does close on an acoustic note - three of the final four numbers are all acoustic songs, including the number 'Hold On' and 'Maybe Someday' that I rather like. The album kicks back into life with the closer 'Monster' to end what is a good effort. The band can be found on Facebook here .... 8/10 (Dave)
The A.X.E. PROJECT..'TALES FROM A LOST REALM'
(Digispherium Music) Reviewed 6th April 2011
It has taken an astonishing 20 years and countless trials, tribulations and line-up changes for Bulgarian brothers Georgi and Rosen Georgiev to finally realise their dream and release this first part of a trilogy. It was originally recorded as a demo way back in 2003 but never released, then re-recorded in 2010 with a new band, and the lyrics are copyright 1997-2010! It tells the tale of an ancient world which disappeared centuries ago and its three eras of development, the only things left are ancient scrolls containing different stories. This means that each song is a self contained story, and unlike the new Within Temptation, they have told me what each one is about which is a massive help, I can understand and appreciate the songs far more. They are not just a studio project but a fully fledged band who have just opened for Blind Guardian. As this album deals with earliest era, there is a medieval folk flavour to the music so it lies somewhere between Therion and Lyriel, but all fans of symphonic, gothic and prog rock/metal will also feel at home, they have a broad sweep of inspirations but a very singular sound. Later instalments will have slightly different styles to suit later ages. The themes are suitably early medieval as well, wizards, emperors, queens, evil goddesses, and werewolves. They feature the rock tenor of bassist Georgi supported by the classical soprano Petya Plukchieva, and the twin axe attack (sorry, I had to put that in, I couldn't resist) of Rosen and lead guitarist Rosen Mehanov. They have a very dense but not heavy sound with lots going on and a great variety of different instruments, so it takes a few spins to decipher it all, which makes for a fascinating listen. It is great to hear the guitarists using a selection of sounds, not just the 'METAL!' button, plus there are some super keyboards by Stoyan Martinov, trilling flute from Sophie Vassileva and terrific rolling tom tom fills by drummer Stoyan Petrov, in fact at times it reminds me of Pendragon's Masquerade Overture album or Rainbow. Highlights include the stately 'Dark Tale' with its rousing climax, the swaying waltzing 'Mountain Queen' and the galloping 'Pain'. This is is a testament to perseverance and determination, and I hope it does not take another twenty years for the second part, otherwise by the third I will be, urmm, rather ancient. Fans of symphonic, prog and gothic rock/metal can hack their way to CD Baby for a copy, their Myspace is here, a finely hewn 8.5/10 (Phil)
THE BLACK TEARS...'LACRIMAL LAKE'
(TEAR RECORDS) Reviewed 9th March 2013
They call this ‘grunge-pop’, which is not a bad word for it. Accessible songs played with a sound that lies somewhere between heavy rock and garage, rather than harking back too much to early 90s Seattle. However, it has that dark, dirty vibe which is loud, frikin' heavy, rather melodic and it’s well played too. This Midlands (UK) based band is another band that is right on my own doorstep, but my radar has malfunctioned in picking this lot up. I must give my radar service guy a phone call. Seriously though, The Black Tears could give some of the Seattle monsters a fair old run for their money - and having said that, just give the tracks 'Well' and the up tempo 'Spoil Me Rotten', a listen and you will hear what I mean. We even get a gutsy guitar solo on the former! As mentioned above, the ten songs have a dark and dirty vibe which is well suited to the awesome vocals of Lischana Lane, who sure has a powerful set of lungs. I am rather taken by this release as it is a little different to most of the female fronted music that comes my way. So folks if you want to get down and dirty with some gritty rock music, give this a listen and check their Facebook here - you will not be disappointed.... 8.25/10 (Dave)
THE BLACK TEARS...'PHILOSOPHY OF PERCEPTION'
(Tear Records) Reviewed 6th April 2013
What I like about what I do here at Ravenheart Towers, is I can get "sneaky peeks" of music that sooner or later is to be released. I recently reviewed an album called 'Lacrimal Lake' by Midlands based The Black Tears. I now have three tracks that will form the EP 'Philosophy Of Perseption' that I am reviewing here. Opener 'Commitment' has to my ears a retro vibe harking back to the 70's, but dragged into the 21st century by this awesome band, and those vocals of Lischana Lane, damn cool! 'He Knows Love' kinda has that bar room blues vibe running through it, but it still rocks your frikin' socks off, while my fave from the EP, 'So Far Down' has that fuzzy guitar so commonly found within the early 90s Seattle scene. So what about the EP then? The songs here will not grab you on the first listen, so if you are after an instant fix, forget it! But give it repetitive plays, and you know you are onto a winner. This is not Gothic and it sure ain't Operatic or Symphonic, but it is grungy dirty hard rock, and I rather like it....8.5/10 (Dave)
THE CHEEK OF HER...'ADULT ANGST ANONYMOUS'
(Self Released) Reviewed 8th July 2014
London based Helen Dooley is basically The Cheek of Her, and what we have here is an interesting collection of tunes that form the album 'Adult Angst Anonymous'. I like something a little different that veers away from the in yer face rock & metal scene and this 12 track recording (including three live & acoustic tracks) does just that. The album is mainly guitar/piano driven rock with the poppy upbeat track 'Write Me A Letter' having already been aired on BBC Radio 2 here in the UK. I do also like the number 'Stuck Stuck' that has one rather good catchy chorus, and Helen lets rip with the closer, the Bob Marley song 'Three Little Birds'. Helen has been compared to Lily Allen, but to be honest I think she is better! Helen deserves success, so give her a listen! Her Facebook can be found here - 8/10 (Rachel Louise Smith)
THE CORRS…’WHITE LIGHT’
(East West Records) Reviewed 27th November 2015
The Corrs…well what can I say? Formed in 1990 and it had all become a little quiet just recently within The Corrs camp until now. Indeed ‘White Light’ is their first studio album in a decade, after ‘Home’ (2005), their first of original material since 2004, and marks their much welcome return to the music scene. And they are still musically stunning as they give us an album full of great Pop/Rock! Andrea remains on top form vocally and the girls (and lets not forget that lucky guy Jim as well) all seem like a good wine - they get better with age. There is some fine awesome music here with many stand out cuts, ‘Kiss Of Life’ being just one track that kinda hit me with the word ‘magical’, from a tsunami of awesome music on this album. As many of you will have gathered, this is not a Metal album but who cares, I love this band, always have done and it is nothing to do with the pretty girl factor, just damn fine inoffensive Pop/Rock music!! Released today so get it!… 9/10 (Dave)
THE DEAD GOOD...'THIRTEEN POLAROIDS' EP
(Self Released) Reviewed 9th October 2013
The Dead Good formed by Isabella Knight (vocals) and Sonny Lanegan (guitar/vocals), formerly frontman of the electronic rock band White Pulp, is a German-Italian alternative rock duo based out of Los Angeles. They come across on this EP with loadsa female attitude and raw sounds. This band not only has the aforementioned attitude, they have the image too, but furthermore, the six tracks on this CD ensure that you won't be able to sit still and could well become massive dance floor favourites. And opener 'Junk Nation' is testament to that, a great thumping high energy Electro Rock opener, kinda Glam Rock meets Electro meets Punk! Next up 'Saws, Drills and Glue Guns' keeps the momentum and slams out of the speakers in an aural assault of Rock/Metal mayhem. 'Room 106' is a slower number with a early 90's guitar feel to it while 'Crush' has a bluesy feel and is damn awesome in the process, with it's fuzzy guitar sound. The closing duo of 'I Put A Spell On You' and 'Through My Bones' just do not let up, the former being a 1956 song written by Screamin' Jay Hawkins and having been covered by Nina Simone. 'Through My Bones' by the way being a fine way to end the cd, a great Electro/Rock track. In summary, this is a rather good raw sounding record from this duo, and makes a refreshing change from the run of the mill female fronted music that comes my way rather frequently nowadays. Anybody into dirty, sexy, aggressive music with rough guitar riffs and a steamy Punk attitude, coupled of course with the nice amount of melody, check their BandCamp out HERE... 8.25/10 (Dave)
THE DIVINE MADNESS..'NEVERWORLD'
(Independent Release) Reviewed 11th April 2009
The Divine Madness fronted by Victoria Mazzè has released a diverse cd of cool, catchy and at times laid back rock music. The record kicks off with the bouncy and catchy 'Alive', which is followed by the slower but equally impressive 'Perfect Methods'. Listening to this cd, and I also found the experience quite laid back on occasion, just listen to 'Villains' and 'Break Apart' as prime examples of awesome balladry. Although having heard of The Divine Madness, this is my first foray into their music. I was not disappointed and I am sure you will not be either. A cool release and a pleasant listening experience - an 8.5/10 as a consequence (Reviewed by Dave)
THE DYSTOPIAN PROJECT...'DEATH LEAVES AN ECHO' EP
(Self Released) Reviewed 20th April 2015
Oh my word! Can the music that gets sent our way get any better. The latest to turn up at the Towers, is a 5 track EP by a fine bunch of Dublin based musicians. They go by the name The Dystopian Project, being fronted by a young lass, Antonia Close. I have heard the word "Prog" mentioned when I did a little research into this band, but to be honest, I wouldn't call it 100% prog! This is hard rock from the top drawer with stax of melody thrown into the melting pot and a subtle Prog undercurrent! Opener 'Broken Reality' is one of the best openers you will hear this year, a melodic metallic belter of a tune, and before you catch your breath, the awesome 'Delirium' follows, another near damn perfect tune, the vocals of Antonia nail it perfectly! And I can guarantee that this song, will bang around in your head long after it has finished. 'Dystopian' is a 9 minute epic blast of metallic musical imagination, with an introduction that would do many symphonic metal bands proud! Indeed, the track carries that aforementioned subtle prog undercurrent and would also appeal to fans who like a little bit of symphonic metal thrown into the mix. Great stuff!! - can it get any better? And it does!! 'Last Innocent Man' slows things down a bit, an acoustic feel to this number and equally as good as its predecessors. The album closes with another colossal tune, the 8 minute plus 'Winter's Hall', totally epic in its construction. This album is damn good and well recommended, so why don't you check the video to the track 'Delirium' here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSHX_TaVa18, then buy the album... 9.5/10 (Dave)
THE EDEN HOUSE..'SMOKE & MIRRORS'
(Jungle Records) Reviewed 7th May 2009
Here is an interesting release that sure has caught my attention. In this new collaborative project, the core members are Stephen Carey, formerly of Ireland’s This Burning Effigy, and Tony Pettitt, formerly of the influential and awesome Fields of The Nephilim. And the vocal contributions to help produce what are some darkly beautiful songs, come from Julianne Regan (All About Eve), Evi Vine, Amandine Ferrari and Monica Richards (Faith & The Muse). And the whole little package has been mastered by Grammy nominated Andy Jackson, engineer of Pink Floyd and David Gilmour. Is it any good? my simple answer is yep. I can only suggest to anyone who is into atmospheric and heavenly beautiful songs is to check this release out. As it says on their myspace site, "In The Eden House, there is no one singer. Just one intention; to create a coalition of beauty in music, vocals, talent and soul". I echo that. It can be bought from Amazon...lovely record. 8/10 (Reviewed by Dave)
THE EDEN HOUSE..'THE LOOKING GLASS'
(Jungle Records) Reviewed 5th February 2010
This new release from The Eden House (their second), that was released on February 1st contains a DVD of a live set recorded only days before the bands first live appearance, plus a 5 track CD of covers of some of the bands favourite songs, from artists as diverse as The Shangri Las, Radiohead and Bjork to name just three! The DVD was mixed at Pink Floyds Astoria studio, while the cd like the debut was mixed by Andy Jackson (Pink Floyd). The core members of the band remain Stephen Carey (This Burning Effigy), and Tony Pettitt (Fields of The Nephilim). And there are four ladies sharing vocal duties, including All About Eve's Julianne Regan. I like this style of atmospheric rock, and this little package would be an ideal introduction to anybody who may be unfamiliar with the band but fancies "giving them a try". 8/10 (Reviewed by Dave)
THE FALLACY...'LOVE DIVISION'
(Attic Records-Dark Media Group (Russia)) Reviewed 8th May 2013
South America seems to be one of the hot beds of Gothic Rock/Metal and Alternative Metal at the moment, and we can now add The Fallacy to the list of bands from that Continent. Fronted by Angeline Bernini, this band from Chile belt out 12 numbers of catchy guitar/synth driven rock, with 'Love Division' and the title track being a great way to kick off proceedings. We have clean male vocals compliments of the rather cool looking guitarist Marco Cusato, and his vocals compliments well the vocals of Angeline, similar possibly to a slightly laid back version of Brazilian band Ravenland. Third up 'Mistaken Love' maintains the awesome start, another catchy number to sink your teeth into - lovely stuff. And it continues, just listen to the up tempo 'Drops Of Fire', the piano led & string infused 'Holy or Ghost' and one of my faves 'No Dreams At Home', which is more male vocalised if that is a term I can use - brilliant! This record is not a totally in yer face Gothic Metal release, but it takes a slightly more laid back stance at times, but it does occasionally rock and 'Force Of Nature' and 'Die With Me' are two such tracks. I may be out on my own saying this, but at times, Angeline reminds me a little of Vicky Johnson from our very own Winter In Eden. The band's Facebook can be found here and I must say I rather like this. And it seems the Russians do too, as the band has just signed a Russian deal... 9/10 (Dave)
THE FALLACY...'THE SLEEPING MOON'
(Self Release) Reviewed 21st November 2013
The Fallacy from Chile has released their first acoustic album. The whole idea started when they performed an acoustic show in Winter Park, FL during their first tour to the US at a beautiful cafe named 'The Sleeping Moon Cafe'. It was a big challenge to create good studio acoustic versions of their songs but they have done it. This is a beautiful album of 10 songs, 5 of which featured in their original format on their previous album 'Love Division'. Although unfamilair with their debut 'Falling Roses', I assume the other 5 numbers are acoustic versions of songs lifted from that album. The Fallacy has decided to share this conquest with all of their fans, so it is available for FREE download from their website www.the-fallacy.com/.The band also made 100 physical copies. For those who would like to purchase it, contact the band on their official Facebook page or send them an e-mail to: email@example.com. 8.5/10 (Dave)
THE FALL OF EVE…’ETERNAL EMBRACE’
(Self Release) Reviewed 15th October 2015
What an awesome album we have here from this Scottish Band. We have pounding Symphonic Metal fronted by Laura Tracey (also known as Evangeline), music that is similar to the greats such as Within Temptation, Nightwish, Epica, Lacuna Coil and the like. And it all becomes immediately apparent how good this band is from the start, with the melodic and pounding ‘Under My Skin’ that kicks thinks off in a near perfect manner. And after that awesome start, ‘Abandon’ keeps you glued to the music player, this being one record you will not abandon, I can assure you, while ‘The Devil Never Sleeps’ is a Symphonic Metal masterpiece. In all honesty, there is nothing here to fault with further blistering numbers like ‘Our Salvation’ and the amazing ‘Destiny’. And of course let us not forget the ballad ‘Forgotten’. This record from this Scottish band is straight out of the Premier League. Frikin’ awesome, and for a debut full length, amazing! Check out their Facebook pages here… 9/10 (Dave)
THE GENTLE STORM...'THE DIARY'
(Inside Out Music) Reviewed 2nd April 2015
Here is another epic album from the pen of Mr quiet guy, Arjen Anthony Lucassen, this time with a little help from Anneke Van Giersbergen' amongst others. She herself, should be well known within the female fronted scene, mainly with her work with The Gathering. Arjen's latest work under the moniker of The Gentle Storm is called 'The Diary’, and follows a love story of two protagonists - Susanne and Joseph, a couple living in 17th century Netherlands. Joseph has gone on his voyage of endurance, sailing across the sea for 2 years. The only way for Joseph and Susanne to communicate is via letters, which form the base of the songs on offer here. The second concept of the album is quite vivid, kind of like Ayreon’s ‘The Dream Sequencer’ and ‘Flight Migrator’, but with similar yet more epic songs. Both the CDs on this double album have the same songs played with different arrangements. The first CD, ‘Gentle’ includes 11 songs played on folk and acoustic instruments, while the second CD, ‘Storm’ includes the very same songs, but with a heavy sound combined with subtle progressive tones that Arjen is known for. I think to review any or indeed every song here will be a total injustice, so go and get the album and listen for yourselves, it is totally unique, has a great vocalist in Anneke, overall all round musicianship making it well worth the outlay!.. 9.75/10 (Dave)
(La Folie) Reviewed 30th April 2011
Portuguese band The Gift have a long and illustrious history stretching back to the mid 90's, but despite singing in English and being very successful in their homeland, this album has already spent a couple of weeks at number 1 in the Portuguese charts, they have had surprisingly little success abroad, although they have been on MTV and toured extensively abroad, making some headway in the USA, and their American management company Girlie Action look after the likes of Tori Amos, Antony and the Johnsons and Morrissey. Added to that, this first album for five years has been produced by Englishman Ken Nelson whose previous clients include Coldplay, Gomez and Paolo Nutini, (which reminds me, I need some new shoes). The theme of the album is an explosion of colours with all it's connotations, “Trust the name Explode, Trust the colours of the rainbows” ('Made For You'). You are going to ask me what they sound like, you do like to ask some tough ones don't you, well then, NBC called them “purveyors of psychedelic synth-pop” and their Myspace says “Radiohead, meets Beck, meets Bjork, meets Portishead”. I would also throw Tears For Fears, The Beatles, Brian Wilson, Coldplay, Muse, HAL, OMD, Jellyfish and even Pink Floyd into their kaleidoscope, in short they take pigments from art rock and pop's most colourful bands to create their own unique palette. Vivacious lead singer Sónia Tavares has quite a deep distinctive voice that harmonises perfectly with that of Nuno Gonçalves with loads of terrific harmonies. They paint a wide spectrum of sounds, effects and textures upon each song's canvass, some are more conventional like the catchy 'RGB' and driving 'Race Is Long', while others are more unusual such as the quirky 'Mermaids Songs', the delightful 'Primavera' and the dreamy 'Aquatica'. The polymorphous centrepiece 'The Singles' is about a guy trying to write a hit song and it goes through a variety of hues before ending with the wonderful line 'Stop it now, I just did a twelve minute song” and they duly do – suddenly! Other highlights include the sublime ballad 'Suit Of Many Colours' and the upbeat anthemic 'My Sun' (live video on Female Voices Blog). It all comes packaged in a beautiful digibook with fantastic photos taken at the Holi Festival of Colours held in that most vibrant of cites Delhi, with the band looking like Jack 'The Dripper' Pollock living paintings, it is great to see a band paying as much attention to the visuals as the music. Anyone who enjoys intelligent art rock and pop will want to hang this masterpiece upon their walls, their gallery is here, a technicolored 9/10 (Phil)
(Dead End Exit) Reviewed 28th November 2015
Welcome to the realms of Cinematic Metal or as the band describe on their Facebook page, Symphonic/Industrial Metal. It is interesting that over the years, Heavy Metal is simply now not just Heavy Metal. There is Melodic Metal, Symphonic Metal, Gothic Metal, Dark Metal, Black Metal, Stoner Metal and so on. Okay, some of those sub genres have been around for a while, but every day, a new sub genre seems to be springing up, no matter what style of music we are talking about, whether its Pop, Rock or Metal. Anyway, The Grim is a Swedish outfit and consist basically of vocalist and mastermind Carl Lofvenhamn and female vocalist, the lovely diva Maria Storck. And as a consequence, we have an album that could quite easily be a sound track to a massive sci-fi movie. Great orchestration, great vocals and great tunes, all put together into this awesome little package. Indeed, if you put Industrial, Classical, Symphonic, Gothic, Rock and Metal (among others) into a melting pot, add heaps of atmosphere and melody, the result would be this amazing record! Certainly an interesting and haunting listening experience and well worth checking out. Facebook is here - unique and epic!.. 9/10 (Dave)
THE HOURGLASS...'REQUIEM' EP
(Self Release) Reviewed 14th January 2013
Eastern Europe seems to be sending us some awesome music at the moment, and the latest to drop into Ravenheart Music is an EP from the Romanian Band The Hourglass. Fronted by the awesome Alma Vomastek, whose dramatic vocal style is similar to that of a certain Tarja (ex Nightwish), the band on this EP throw at us 5 tracks of Symphonic/Operatic Metal to awaken the senses, and make us realise why we got into this style of music in the first place. The title track is the curtain raiser, and I am immediately impressed by the voice of Alma. 'Dies Irae' has a rather cool church bell/choral intro that I just love, so atmospheric and again Alma's voice really adds drama to the music. This girl can take this band places, and although I am full of praise for the singer, the remainder of the band kick ass too. 'The Fall' has a kinda music box intro, and indeed is one of my fave tracks on this EP, a more sophisticated and possibly a more industrial sounding number. 'In Remembrance' is another fave, a great melodic rocker that pounds along rather nicely, while closer 'Way Home' sends us all home with smiles on our faces. This EP is rather good if I may say so, and is well worth checking out. Go to their Facebook and take a look!...8.75/10 (Dave)
THE INFERNO DOLL...'DOLLMINATION'
(Self Release) Reviewed 30th September 2015
Yay, yay and triple yay! The former Sacramento singer Laura Vargas gives us a real musical treat here. This is The Inferno Doll, ten tracks of totally bombastic modern melodic metal to blow your mind totally. No soppy ballads on this record as Laura Inferno as she is now called, pummels her way through tracks like the opening cut 'Crushing Me', the absolutely marvellous and tuneful 'Conciencia' (ft. Paula Barouh from the band Barouh - Chile) the powerful and pounding groove of one of my faves, 'Nemesis Within' (ft.Roland B. Marx from the band The Outside - Germany), 'Asylum' (ft. Claudio Carrasco from the band Poema Arcanus - Chile), the pulsating 'The Dream' and the totally melodic and thumping closing number 'Carmilla', a live fave I am sure this number will be! Indeed, despite giving a mention to the above tracks, everything on this album is so awesome and as a consequence, it is without a doubt a no filler all killer album, being heavy, melodic and it is a record to play loud and play again and again and again. I have to say it, on this showing, Laura can create an inferno and dollminate me anytime - the website is here - my advice is buy!...9.5/10 (Dave)
(Play It Again Sam) Reviewed 2nd April 2012
After a year of honing their craft, this Australian rock band have already hit number 2 in their domestic charts, and they are now ready to take on the world. Rarely will you have heard three musicians and a singer create such a massive sound, guitarist Sam Lockwood's reverb drenched guitars, Heather Shannon's mountains of keyboards and Nik Kalper's pummelling drums sound like a mass band containing The Gift, Fleetwood Mac, Echo and the Bunnymen, Simple Minds, Florence and the Machine, and Anathema. Towering above is Hayley Mary's chameleon voice that changes according to the mood of the music, part Stevie Nicks, part Siouxsie Sioux, part Florence Welsh, part her own unique creation. The songs sweep from atmospheric soundscapes to soaring almighty crescendos, with the band joined at the hip, moving together as one, the very definition of synergy. Producer Lachian Mitchell does a remarkable job of keeping the sound clear and clean but with a rumbling power, not surprisingly he's from a metal background (a member of the black metal outfit Nazxul), it has that dynamic energy. This is an album best listened to as a whole because of its continuity, taking you on an engrossing voyage across an ocean of sound, ebbing and flowing, from calm waters to a tidal-wave of emotion. Along the way you will experience songs like the superb singles 'Endless Summer', 'Trycolour' and 'Rosebud' (videos on Female Voices blog), the dark brooding cinematic 'Long Highway' and 'Deep Wide Ocean', the haunting eerie instrumental 'Austerlitz', the thumping thundering 'Nobody Nowhere', and the ambient restful 'Peace of Mind'. This is a work of artistry and power that defies genre boundaries, going well beyond the confines of melodic rock into new terrain, there is no reason why gothic, prog and metal fans will not enjoy this, it's recommended for anyone who enjoys creative, dynamic music. You will find their website at www.thejezabels.com/, a captivating 9.25/10 (Phil)
THE JUST…’PoP Mosh’ EP
(Self Release) Reviewed 8th April 2016
The South African rock/metal music scene is not one that from an outsider anyway, could be described as vibrant. However, what bands that I am familiar with in that amazing country, they are rather all good. We can now add The Just to that list, as they offer up six tracks on this EP of up lifting Alternative Rock, similar to bands like Flyleaf et al. Fronted by the voice of Illona Grobler, the EP gets going with the track ‘No Mistakes’, a monster offering and then ‘Burn’ gets ya, a track with a hideously catchy chorus, one of my current faves from this little EP. ‘Wake up’ jangles along rather nicely, while ‘Brave’ flirts a little with hard rock territory. The closing duo of the bouncy ‘She’ and ‘Now Hear Me’ (www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0KBuC6YFqo) close what is a rather good record. The latter being a sort of anthem where the band want people to be able to sing over their "haters", especially those pursuing their dreams and passions that are outside of the norm. Indeed, the album basically is about chasing your dreams, not giving up, realizing you are worth far more than society wants you to believe. The band has set out to make music that rocked, but would reach as broad an audience as possible and even radio play. I think they may have succeeded. A very good effort from this young Sth African band – their Facebook is here.. 8.5/10 (Dave)
THE LAST EMBRACE..'AERIAL'
(LongfellowDeeds Records) Reviewed 20th January 2010
The Parisian band have a long history stretching back to 1998, but this is only their second album, coming 3 years after their first, ‘Inside’. Their music lies somewhere around bands such as Muse, Renaissance, Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree, Streams of Passion and Mostly Autumn, with just the right mix of musical sophistication and melodic accessibility. Singer Sandy has a gorgeous voice, with echoes of Heather Findlay and Marcela Bovio, which perfectly suits the music. It starts with ‘Complete City’, which sounds like souped up Mostly Autumn, followed by the Renaissance like soft jazz of ‘Impending Dawn’, complete with Anthony’s Jon Camp like bass, that moves into a dreamy trumpet passage, before some dramatic classical piano brings the song back again. ‘Among Them’ is a delicate instrumental with Olivier’s electric guitar arpeggios, strings and piano, before the epic ‘Into the Vortex’ which starts out as a spaced out Pink Floyd trip and then builds in power and majesty as it moves into Muse territory, complete with guitar and Hammond wigouts. After the hurricane comes the peaceful piano ballad ‘Gravity’, and the appropriately swooping synths that announce the beginning of title track, ‘Aerial’, another songs that builds and gathers momentum, with more delightful piano from Coco, and I love the way the instruments drop out at the end just leaving Sandy’s lovely voice. Weird synths signal the thumping beat of the Muse like rocker, ‘Whirltime’, again balanced with the gentle, dreamy, Latin infused duet, ‘Alone, which features the wonderfully melancholic voice of Mick Moss (Antimatter), with more gorgeous piano and acoustic guitar. The album moves into India as we catch the Marrakesh Express of ‘Saffron’s Theatre’ as is gathers pace and steams into the Porcupinish ‘Nomad Wave’, which is alternately atmospheric and powerful. Dreamy Fender Rhodes and tremolo guitar float through ‘Playground’, which segues into the Renaissance like ‘Serotonine’ that gathers pace as it soars, and the CD ends with the Mostly Autumn mellowness of ‘Precious Pond’. The musicianship throughout is exemplary, with special mention to drummer Alexis who skilfully drives the band along, and the super clear modern production. I love bands that can slip up and down the gears effortlessly, this gives variety, light and shade, and when The Last Embrace get going, they purr along the road like a Hispano-Suiza grand tourer. This record fits me like my favourite old woolly jumper; I cannot find any fault with it, so motor along to www.myspace.com/thelastembracefr and take it for a spin. 10/10 (Reviewed by Phil)
THE LAST VOID..'STATE OF MIND'
(Self Release) Reviewed 14th December 2010
The Last Void take elements of Porcupine Tree, Touchstone, The Reasoning and To-Mera to create that distinctive British powerful melodic prog sound, only they are not from Hereford but Heredia in Costa Rica! Added to that cute Adriana Muñoz has a superb Kim Seviour/Jlie Kiss style voice with perfect English and not a trace of accent. The first thing that strikes you when you get this platter spinning is the quality of the sound. It is remarkable how independent bands like The Last Void and Obsidian Shell produce such a superb professional sound on limited resources whilst other similar groups sound like they were recorded in a toilet on a mobile phone. The album is packed with 6 awesome, melodic, powerful prog rockers with wonderful refrains such as 'Kindergarden Stuff' and 'Shadow', together with 3 heavier proggier numbers like the suitably titled 'Metal Mind', all set around the excellent instrument 'M.A.F.A. Interlude'. All the songs feature fascinating variations, you never know what they might throw in, anything from a spot of Latin jazz to a burst of Opeth extremity. Plus you get loads of terrific guitar work without noodling by Alberto Cartín and Mauricio Madrigal, with skilful syncopated drumming by Felipe Cartín. This is a band that oozes class, and if like me you love powerful melodic prog then let Adriana and the lads fill the last void in your collection. Their Myspace is www.myspace.com/voidcr, and it's easily available from CD Baby, a most excellent 8.75/10 (Reviewed by Phil)
THE LAST YEAR...S/T
(Shanachie Entertainment) Reviewed 6th September 2013
The Last Year, fronted by singer/songwriter Niki Barr and her partner in crime Scott Ensign (guitar, bass, synth, percussion, programming), has released its new EP and it features five brand new songs, including the single 'Sugar'. Describing the new release as “limitless” with “everything from buzz saw synth to airy atmospheric ambience to 80s drum sequence loops”, this Baltimore based group says that their latest songs come from the dark place Niki Barr is almost known for, and the release showcases the band's perfect blend of natural and synthetic sounds. And that is perfectly true. Indeed, I have known about Niki since the early days of Ravenheart Music and this release is rather good. And to be perfectly honest, this EP should open the band to a wider audience. Opener 'Not The One' is an awesome synth infused rock number with a chorus to die for - what a start! And it continues with next up and the chosen single 'Sugar'. There to me is certainly a cross over appeal here! 'Imagining' should have you bouncing around the floor while 'Kill Me Now' takes on a more rocker vibe. And 'Flying' is a rather cool atmospheric way to close the EP. In summary, this is a very good effort from Niki and Scott and this again is another release that I see myself fully recommending. Their FaceBook is here .... 8.75/10 (Dave)
THE LETTER BLACK..'HANGING ON BY A THREAD'
(Tooth & Nail Records) Reviewed 23rd May 2010
Calling all Paramore and Flyleaf fans to name just two bands. I am sure you have the idea by now. An awesome album we have here by Christian Rockers The Letter Black, fronted by the lovely Sarah Anthony. And they do not hang around, as 'Fire with Fire' fires out of your speakers like a turbo charged machine gun! What an opener! And if you thought that was a blaster, then we have the heavy 'Invisible', with it's catchy riffs and chorus, this being one of my favourite tracks. The title track, another fave carries on the momentum with yet another awesome chorus - 'save me from losing myself, I am hanging on by a thread'. The occasional male vocals on this album by Mark Anthony (Sarah's husband) remind me a little of Lacuna Coil. The cd continues at a steady melodic pace throughout with choruses galore, and I do find the lyrics at times pulling on my heartstrings...'there'll come a day when I can hold you and say it's forever', from the super ballad 'There'll Come a Day'. 'Best of Me' is another track I adore, and I am sure I have heard this one before. Lovely!!! Thirteen tracks of great Christian Rock on this release, and boy, it sure rocks too. Great stuff and easily obtainable from Amazon etc. Worthy of a 9/10. (Reviewed by Dave)
THE LIFELINE..'REFLECTIONS OF HOPE'
(Self Release) Reviewed 27th February 2011
The Lifeline are a nu prog crossover rock/metal band from the windy city Chicago lead by virtuoso violinist Rebecca Faber and singer/guitarist Ryan T. Hope, could the album title be a clever play on words? This is their second album, the follow up to 2006's 'For All That Triumph'. Although Rebecca uses a traditional acoustic instrument, not electric like Vanessa Mae or plugged through effects pedals, their music is completely contemporary, think bands like Muse, My Chemical Romance and 30 Seconds to Mars. The violin isn't a very rock 'n' roll instrument, the violinist normally pops in for a quick fiddle and then goes off for a cuppa while the band plays on, but Rebecca's violin is on an equal par with the guitars. The result is a massive soaring epic sound that is truly widescreen cinematic, with Ryan belting it out like Keith Caputo over a humongous wall of guitars and violins, just turn it up loud and rattle the window panes. This is a band that blurs the distinction between rock and metal, and between the mainstream and prog. Twelve colossal anthems that calm to a hush and then swell to astronomical heights, songs like the pulsating 'Push and Pull', the incendiary 'Hellboy', the spellbinding 'The Alchemist' and the dramatic ''Romeo and Juliet', culminating in the climactic 'Ending'. An awesome album that will appeal to a wide cross section of metal, rock, alternative and prog fans, their website is here.. The Lifeline and it's available from CD Baby, a widescreen cinematic 9/10 (Phil)
(FilthyPrincessRecords) Reviewed 28th August 2014
The Longing is an LA-based band who transcend over-simplistic genre categorization. Founding member, Toronto born composer and singer, the lovely Laura Bradley, harnesses the power of her trademark angelic sound and unleashes her voice with the spectral force of an emotional whiplash across this powerful 13 track rock album. Having listened to the opener 'Wicked', and already we can here the power of Laura's voice. And her vocal prowess becomes even more apparent on the melodic and progressive tinged title track complete with violin, totally awesome. 'Fade' is another number with a subtle progresive undercurrent together with a massive chorus to boot. The album continues in a similar vein with standouts galore like the massive 'Lips' with another huge chorus, and the powerful ballad 'This Flame', which exposes Laura’s experience with the Angeles National Forest Station, a fire that burned Bassist/Producer Michael Wallace’s Stonyville Cabin & Studios to the ground in 2010. Then we have 'Cool Dark Slip' which opens with Laura Bradley’s haunting solo piano before exploding into an urgency of hard-driven guitars. I could name other highlights here like the track 'Words' as another goodie, but in my opinion, every track is a highlight to my ears, and if you want my honest point of view, we could be looking at the next big thing on the Rock Music scene. We have massive lyrically emotional songs, an awesome and very talented singer, hi octane and powerful hooks and a band totally committed to the cause. The Longing's website is at www.thelonging.com/ where you can also view the video to the title track 'Bleed'. This record is well recommend when it gets released...9.5/10 (Dave)