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Reviews T cont (2)

THE MARIANA HOLLOW..'COMA HEART'

(Independent release) Reviewed 4th June 2010

The Mariana Hollow fronted by Rebecca Spinks, is an alternative metal quintet hailing from Greater London. Their sound is steeped in dark melody, sometimes angry, often melancholic, and always passionate, and to be honest, they should go down a storm here and in the USA. Dynamic twin guitar lines and complex rhythms occasionally take the music in a progressive direction, yet the band never lose sight of the impact of a great chorus. 'Coma Heart' runs at nearly 38 mins and is mixed by Chris Sheldon (Foo Fighters, Skunk Anansie, Biffy Clyro, Oceansize, Anthrax). The album is an awesome slab of alternative rock/metal, and this band surely cannot remain unsigned for long, with their knack of writing complex although very accessible tunes coupled with somewhat infectious melodies. To be honest, this is the kinda band a label like Universal Records should be taking a serious look at. All seven tracks here pack a serious punch and I myself am finding it difficult to pick out a fave, as they are all that good. However, 'Paper Plane' may just shade it. The Mariana Hollow proves what great talent the UK has, if only the major labels would just sit up and take notice. Check them out for yourselves at www.myspace.com/themarianahollow. This is worthy of a 9/10 - good stuff!! (Reviewed by Dave)

THE MARIANA HOLLOW...'VELVET BLACK SKY'

(Self Released) Reviewed 12th April 2012

Better late than never I suppose, but here is the review of the latest album from London based rockers The Mariana Hollow, proving that the UK Rock & Metal Scene is alive, well and truly kicking. Their debut album, the critically acclaimed 'Coma Heart' was well received, especially from a band that was then relatively unknown, and of course, how does a band follow up what effectively is a very good debut release? Record a better one I suppose, and that is exactly what the band has done with 'Velvet Black Sky'. Fronted by Rebecca 'Spinky' Spinks, who is the main driving force behind this young band, the TMH has recorded 11 tracks of mature alternative rock, with catchy choruses and driving rhythms. Opener 'Before The Dive', is an acoustic/electric atmospheric intro, before the anthemic and fist pumping 'Dead Reckoning' thumps it's way out of the speakers, in hard rockin' style, with Rebecca's charismatic vocals instantly making an impression. 'Your Halo' is the first single, and is a number that will ensure that your interest will be maintained for the album's duration. And with three tracks clocking in at over 7 minutes, you will sure get your moneys worth here. 'Stand Your Ground' is a slower but equally heavy number, and Rebecca basically makes this track her own - awesome vocal performance, ably assisted by the band I hasten to add! Other standout tracks are the aforementioned 'Dead Reckoning', the catchy and awe inspiring 'Second To None', the 7 minute plus 'The Line of Fire and Blood' with it's progressive leanings, 'Weight of the World' and the atmospheric closer 'The Fate of Man', although I must add that all the numbers on this release are good! I cannot quite undertstand why TMH remain unsigned and why a big label has not made a move for them, but they are sure proof as to what a determined and committed band of musicians can do without label support!! With songs that vary from in yer face rockers to more passionate and lighter moments, this is a damn good release and well recommended - 9.25/10 (Dave)

The MARY MAJOR..'04:13'

(TMM Productions) Reviewed 26th January 2010

Well, what can I say? Out from the shadows emerge 4 former members of the ex Napalm Records band Beseech (a fave band of mine btw), complemented by a new bass player, Jorgen Strom. The result...The Mary Major. The members of this band financed this album, released it on their own TMM label. And if that is not enough, the mastering was carried out by Beau Hill (Alice Cooper, Europe and Ratt amongst others). The music here is heavy and straight to the point, featuring driving guitars, solid vocals coupled with a solid bass/drum backdrop. And on top of all that, the music on offer never loses it's sense of melody. Featuring the dual vocal attack of Lotta Höglin and Erik Molarin (as it was in Beseech), this is an awesome dose of rock music that hits hard but is always melodic. Great stuff on offer featuring the awesome opener 'Stage 7'. 'Split' keeps up the momentum and you can hear the Beseech resemblances here (as in other tracks too) - just a lot heavier than their previous band. 'Ambush' is a mid pace heavy number while 'Morning Sickness' ups the pace again, and like their former band, Erik and Lotta's vocals complement each other really well. The album continues at a similar pace throughout, with Erik's vocals at times reminding me of Andrea Ferro (Lacuna Coil). I personally like a sense of melody in the music I listen to, and this has it all. It is heavy, it rocks, there are no keyboard meanderings. Just straight forward melodic hard rock and metal, putting yours truly in hard rock heaven. Check the band out at www.myspace.com/themarymajor and then buy the cd. It really is good! 9/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

THE MARY MAJOR..'GRINDING TEETH, GUARD DOWN'

(TMM/Rambo/Sony Music/Ravenheart Music) Reviewed 18th January 2012

The Mary Major rose from the ashes of the well known Napalm band Beseech, and here we have their second album of Melodic Hard Rock to grace our death decks. And the band has adopted the " if it ain't broke why fix it" solution for this album. This is 11 tracks of totally awesome pumping melodic hard rock, with Erik Molarin and Lotta Höglin once again sharing vocal duties. Each track is a standout track in it's own right and merits, although I have after listening to the album a few times, find myself favouring tracks like 'Without Sequel', 'First Impression' and 'End of Society'. But like I said, the whole album is outstanding and will not disappoint. I am not going to hide the fact that Lotta is a fave musician of mine from her Beseech days, but having met all of The Mary Major, they are such totally cool people. 'Grinding teeth, guard down' is released by The Mary Major’s own label, TMM Productions and has been recorded entirely in their own studio. For this release TMM is working with Rambo/Sony Music in the Nordic countries and Ravenheart Music in Europe. Highly recommended...9/10 (Dave)

THE MATERIAL..'WHAT WE ARE'

(Self Release) Reviewed 18th April 2011

The Material are a new young alternative rock band from Los Angeles with their début album following on from a couple of EP's, 'Tomorrow' and 'Weather The Storm'. Their music is in the same baseball park as Flyleaf, Versa Emerge, and Paramore, if you like those bands then you will love The Material, but I also detect some Evanescence and a touch of Within Temptation's more alt-rock moments. It is great to see a new female fronted alt-rock band holding their own in the massed melee of male fronted, and Paramore's Hayley Williams had just made the front cover of Cosmopolitan magazine causing quite a stir, showing that female fronted alt-rock is making serious headway into the Gaga Britney mainstream. What We Are presents twelve emotive songs of love, loss, regret and broken hearts emotionally and passionately sung by seductive Colleen D’Agostino, with a visceral raw edge that holds nothing back. Her voice goes from a whisper on the verses to a mighty electric throat on the choruses as the band climb from quiet reflection to soaring majestic power on songs like 'Let You Down' and 'This is Goodbye'. Other songs like opening brace 'Appearances' and 'Stay Here Forever' are more full throttle, full of chiming jangling guitars, and the highlights are the lovely ballad 'The Only One' and the skilful rocker 'I'm Alive'. This is tailor made for alternative rock fans and their drapers can be found here, a finely woven 8.75/10 (Phil)

THE MURDER OF MY SWEET..'DIVANITY'

(Frontiers Records) Reviewed 30th January 2010

This Swedish mob’s name is taken from the film noire movie, ‘Murder My Sweet’, a dark, deathly, shadowy, sinister world of femme fatales, guys down on their luck, ruthless killers, and innocents caught in the crossfire, the perfect image for a gothic metal band. The dame in this particular caper is the real looker Angelica Rylin, and gee, this babe can 'arf sing. The Boss is Daniel Flores, a high pillow drummer, composer and producer, with his trusty lieutenants, Johan Niemann the harmonic lawman on bass (of the mighty Therion gang), hotshot keyman Andreas Lindahl on the old joanna (keys), and ace hit-man Daniel Palmqvist on guitar. Let's get it on the record straight from the beginning, what you get is 12 slugs of ultra catchy, gorgeously melodic, up-tempo symphonic gothic rock/metal, with choruses to die for, halfway between Within Temptation and Delain. No filler, all killer, no griller, all thriller, right up to the closing epic, ‘Death of a Movie Star’. Available from all the usual joints for a sawbuck, so, play it again Sam, if you don’t get this record, then you’ll regret it, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life. 9.5/10 (Reviewed by Phil).

THE MURDER OF MY SWEET...'BYE BYE LULLABY'

(AFM Records) Reviewed 10th May 2012

From Sweden, The Murder Of My Sweet is fronted by the very nice Angelica Rylin, and this is their follow up to 'Divanity' that was released on the Frontiers label two years or so ago. You had your moneys worth with that release, that gave us 12 tracks of melodic, up-tempo Symphonic Gothic Rock/Metal, and 'Bye Bye Lullaby' continues where the debut left off. There are however subtle differences, this 13 track release of melodic riff-tastic symphonic rock anthems, includes performances from close friends Jesper Stromblad (In Flames), Fredrik Akesson (Opeth) and Peter Wichers (Soilwork), so it’s a really brave record to some extent. The point I would like to raise about Angelica, is you know it is her singing as she carries her own vocal style, which is angelic and forceful all at the same time, if that makes sense. Songs here will have you tapping your feet in no time at all, all 13 tracks on offer are from the top drawer of Symphonic Gothic Metal and will most certainly appeal to lovers of Within Temptation, Delain, Xandria and Sirenia to name just a few! For fans of the genre, this is another must buy, well recommended and like their debut, well produced by the band's drummer and keyboardist Daniel Flores. And if you are a digipak fan, the first edition of the album will be just that....9/10 (Dave)

THE MURDER OF MY SWEET…’BETH OUT OF HELL’

(Frontiers Records) Reviewed 26th August 2015

The Murder of My Sweet was founded in Stockholm in 2006 by drummer and producer Daniel Flores. It consists of Angelica Rylin (vocals), Patrik Johanson (bass), Christopher Vetter (guitar), and Daniel Flores (drums and all keys). Their debut single ‘Bleed Me Dry’ reached 14th spot in the national Swedish singles chart. In January 2010 they released their debut album ‘Divanity’ on the Italian label Frontiers Records. Fast forward to the current day (August 2015) and this new one is their 3rd, and to put it in a nutshell before we even start, it is bombastically, mouth wateringly and symphonically awesome! Around 70 minutes of music, a total mind blowing concept piece as one track merges into another. It will take more than one play to get into the music here as it is not too easy to digest all at once, but boy, once you have got it, it sure will not let you go! I personally just love this, a kind of mini opera traveling the spectrum of emotions from anger through to love, passion and angst. This is a work of art, a grower but a work of art. I will not bother naming any individual tracks as such, they are all that good! Just get it, play it and you will hear what I mean. Fans of the Female Fronted Symphonic/Gothic scene will find this a totally orgasmic experience to the full :) ….9.75/10 (The Nugget)

THE NURI..'MASQUERADE'

(Self Release) Reviewed 28th February 2010

The simple and highly effective sleeve art give no clue as to the treasures that lie within from this young German outfit. Their music is melodic, loud/quiet, rock/metal with sophisticated musicianship from all the members, but that bare description does give their music the justice it deserves. They take elements from the best and most intelligent bands, such as Muse, Ayreon, Porcupine Tree, Radiohead, Stranglers, and Streams of Passion, and then create their own unique Nuri style. Interspersed are a couple of atmospheric instrumentals, and the incredible centrepiece, the symphonic ballad ‘The Morning’. Singer Sandra Pfeiffer has a remarkable voice, not dissimilar to Marcela Bovio, and the keys and guitars add so much delightful flourish and interest to the music that it is a truly wondrous listening experience. I find it quite staggering that a band that is this good and with so much commercial potential, is so little known, this is premier league alt/rock/metal/prog superbly self produced. This will appeal to all fans of melodic rock/metal, and thanks to their musicality, to melodic prog fans as well, just head to http://www.thenuri.de/wp/?cat=3 . Quite amazing, a very exciting discovery, I’m almost speechless, well, not quite, otherwise this would be a very short review! 9.5/10 (Reviewed by Phil)

THE ONE2s...'EP 2'

(Self Release) Reviewed 8th April 2015

The One2s fronted by Leiana who also plays bass (with a little help in the male vox department from guitarists Sean Bombz and Tom Nuzzie) come from Philadelphia, and this EP simply titled 'EP 2' is an interesting release. Needless to say there is an 'EP 1', and the band via their Facebook site call their type of music Post Punk Indie Shoegaze Alternative Rock, or something like that - imagine Joy Division and Sonic Youth meeting Blondie. This is not at all bad, opener 'Gazed Out' being an atmospheric synth infused instrumental, before the rather good and quite stunning 'Cryer' kicks in big time. 'Pop The Ripper' is another good un, an up tempo number, while like the other numbers here, 'I Can See' offers up some impressive guitar work. Closer 'Blank Stare' runs in at almost 6 minutes. It starts slow and atmospheric before it ups the ante half way through the number - awesome! The One2s create a shoegaze, brit-pop, punk influenced sound all of their own. There is some great musicianship here, and I must say that this is a pleasant release and well worth checking out, especially through your headphones. The band's Facebook is here... 8/10 (Dave)

THE PASSIVE AGGRESSIVES..'CONFLICT RESOLUTION'

(Dead Fish Records) Reviewed 9th September 2009

The name Ravenheart suggests Goth. Okay, I may not look your typical Goth (what, at my age - you have to be kiddin') but my passion lies with the Gothic Metal genre. But we at Ravenheart pride ourselves that we are not just metal heads. And this now leads me to a band from San Francisco called The Passive Aggressives. This band seem to mix (and succesfully too) hard rock, pop, funk, and prog, all with the vocals of leading lady Keren Gaiser. It is pretty cool stuff and 'Conflict Resolution' is a pleasant listening experience. Some good songs here including the title track, and I even found this record ideal background music while having friends around at Ravenheart Towers, with the inevevitable question -"what cd is that you have on Dave?" If you like the idea of Tool and Primus mixed with Heart and Evanescence, then this is worth checking out. Cool stuff, including The Turtles cover 'Happy Together'. Check them out at www.myspace.com/aggressives 8/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

THE PHOENIX...'MY TURN TO DEAL' EP

(Demon Doll Records/Atomic Stuff Promotion) Reviewed 22nd March 2016

This is a brand new smokin' hot all female combo from Italy, or San Marino to be more precise. THE PHOENIX is a quartet and a month or so ago released this their first EP. There are four tracks of pulsating no nonsense hard rock, and with a drummer called Luna RocketQueen, you know this band sure means business. This is good catchy stuff and certainly worth checking out. Have a look at their facebook here...it's time to party! 8.25/10 (Dave)

THE PRETTY RECKLESS..'LIGHT ME UP'

(Interscope) Reviewed 11th October 2011

The Pretty Reckless is an American rock band from New York. This their debut album was released on August 30, 2010 in the UK, and I have only just got around to reviewing it. We have here 10 tracks of simple but catchy rock music, songs that will stick in your head and not go away. Just listen to the title track and the tracks 'Just Tonight' and 'Miss Nothing' to see what I am getting at. Front lady, actress and model Taylor Momsen, who is just 18 puts in a sterling performance on this album with her sexy but cracking smokey vocal style. I admit to being a bit unsure about this release before I got my grubby paws on a copy, but now I have, it is an absolute corker. Good stuff and well recommended! 8.5/10 (Dave)

THE RAIN I BLEED..'NARCISSIST'

(Twilight) Reviewed 4th July 2011

I have reviewed two excellent albums by Staphis Cassios's Karmic Link that feature gorgeous Mina Giannopoulou, one gothic metal the other more prog. Now she presents her own compositions on this her own band's début album. Their immense sounds hovers around Delain type gothic, After Forever/early Epica style semi symphonic (but no growling thankfully), a hint of prog metal, and a touch of Evanescence alt-metal. Accordingly Mina has a superb versatile multi-faceted voice that veers from expressive to rock to semi to full operatic depending on the mood of the music, sometimes in the same breath, reminding me of singers like Floors Jansen mixed with a touch of Simone Simons. This is a highly distinctive collection of songs that sweep from powerful verses to soaring choruses to quieter interludes to instrumental passages to synth/piano motifs making each one a varied and fascinating listening experience. They range from the mighty moving 'Nocturne' to the swaying almost Within Temptation'ish' 'Eternally' to the eastern flavoured proggier 'The Water Turns to Ice' to the catchy chugging 'Tearful Eyes' to the waltzing 'Lullaby' with Mina's lovely piano, a notable feature throughout the album. This gives the album the 'ooh I like this one' factor aided by a top notch production job by Chris 'Rektor' Ntaskas and mixing by Scar Symmetry’s Jonas Kjellgren in Sweden. Jeff Loomis from Evermore, one of the world's top guitarists, makes a guest appearance on awesome opener 'The Utter Me' with a terrific shredding guitar solo. This is classic highly professional top quality gothic metal with symphonic flourishes, a most impressive 8.75/10 (Phil)

THE REASONING..'DARK ANGEL'

(Comet Music) Reviewed 5th May 2009

Dark Angel is the second album from The Reasoning, a ‘prog’ rock band from Wales . I have put inverted commas around ‘prog’ because the tag normally attached to them does not do justice to their music. There are no widdly solos or weird time signatures, but melodic rock songs that should appeal to a very wide audience. Featuring 3 lead singers, the folkish Rachel Cohen (ex Karnataka), Dylan Thompsons’s rock, and Gareth Jones ballad, this just about sums up their range. The album ranges from the gothic rock of ‘Dark Angel’, to the metal of ‘Call ME God’, to the radio friendly ‘Breaking the 4th Wall’. They are also a great live band, very, very entertaining, I’ve rarely heard an audience sing so much! With the right push this band could become massive; they have the look, the songs and the ability 9/10 (Reviewed by Phil Wooldridge)

THE ROYAL GHOST..'THE ROYAL GHOST'

(Promo)

The Royal Ghost is a full 29 song Rock Opera written by Swede Teddy Jonassen with a large cast of singers, musicians and a full orchestra, the Dalasinfoniettan. The basic story is that in an old castle a ghost and a princess become friends to everyone's despair, causing a revolt of the people against the ghosts, and it is intended to draw parallels with the many problems we face in today's world. I have the nine track promo CD, the rest of the songs will be recorded this summer for release in the new year, but it has been performed in its entirety several times, with a very impressive stage production. The promo is intended to showcase the diversity and quality of the opera and to garner support for the full release. Reference points include Clive Nolan and Oliver Wakeman, his dad Rick Wakeman, Jeff Wayne, Alan Parsons, Mike Batt, Trans Siberian, and Andrew Lloyd Webber. There are six singers including Andreas Eklund from House of Shakira as The Ghost, Mio Jager as the Princess and Emilia Feldt from the Royal Opera in Stockholm as The Queen. 'The Commander' and 'I Am Your Nightmare' are galloping orchestral rock while 'The Future Is There For You' featuring Emilia is a delightful classical ballad beautifully sung. The next song 'Same Old Rock 'n' Roll' is a complete change, a bluesy rock 'n' roller that sounds like it came out of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. 'Forever Mine' is a rock ballad sung by the King played by Jonas Antesten, followed by the accordion laced Les Misérables esque number 'Running Out of Time' sung by Lasse Gidbo who sounds like a more restrained Damian Wilson. Mio who sings 'I'm Alive' has been compared to Kate Bush, and musically it is in the same ballpark but with extra opera and classical. 17 year old pop singer Sofia Nystand delightfully sings the gentle 'Lullaby' that erupts into a ripping guitar solo by Roland Forsman, and we end with the driving rocker 'Under Your' Bed'. I cannot wait to hear the full release and I hope that it gets the world wide distribution it deserves, as well as some performances outside Sweden, they put on quite a show. For all the latest news visit their Facebook page , this is a very exciting and highly ambitious project, 8.75/10 (Phil)

t.h.e. SACRAMENT..'THE SOBERING COLD'

(Self Release) Reviewed 18th March 2010

The brand new debut from the Russian sextet, featuring the pop/rock vocals of the delectable Lora SS on vocals, and the equally seductive Juliett on keys. They started to record this back in 2006, but various trials and tribulations befell the band, and it is to their enormous credit that at last we can all enjoy the fruit of their labours. The music is somewhat similar to a less symphonic, more rock orientated Within Temptation. This gives the band plenty of space to play, Kirill showing off his impressive collection of cymbals, Still putting in some fancy bass fills, and a variety of solos from the plank spankers, Om and Vlad, as well as Juiliett of course. They also love going off piste with some very unusual musical moments, for example on ‘I’ve Got Only One Day’ they briefly turn into Santana! All this makes for a varied, fascinating and pleasurable listening experience. There are the occasional incongruous growls, which do not suit their lighter style, thankfully they are only brief. Highlights, well, every song will provide plenty of entertainment, but I was particularly taken by the driving rock of ‘New Life’, the slow boogie of ‘I’ve Got Only One Day’, the Fleetwood Mac excursion on ‘Light of Illusions’, the majestic ‘Cover Me’ and the dramatic ‘The Little Kingdom’. The whole CD is professionally packaged and produced, with the mastering done at the famous Finnvox studios. If you’re a Within Temptation enthusiast, celebrate this wonderful discovery with a few glasses of whatever tickles your fancy (mines a bottle of Delirium Tremens, lovely, I think it’s your round), and then enjoy The Sobering Cold at www.myspace.com/the-sacrament. 8.5/10 (Reviewed by Phil)

T.H.E. SACRAMENT... 'СверхНовая' (Supernova)

(Self Release) June 22nd 2015

Dave has palmed this one on to me but to be perfectly honest, like him I do not have a clue about the Russian language. So this will be a brief review upon what I can hear musically. What I do know is that this release is heavier and more bombastic than the other full length release I am aware of, that being 'The Sobering Cold' that was released in 2010. After doing a little snooping around however, this album's Russian title translation to English is 'Supernova'. And it seems an English version of this record will be released later this year! But from what I hear, this is very good. Some catchy and at times grandiose stuff on this 12 track record and as a consequence, the album is well worth looking into, whether you check out this Russian version or wait for the English version. The vocals of Ekaterina Stalukova (LoraSS) are from the school of pop/rock and are rather delectable. Check the band's website out here (you may need Google translate)...8.75/10 (The Nugget)

THE SHIRES...'BRAVE'

(Decca Records) Reviewed 26th October 2015

The groundswell of interest in Country music in the UK is now officially unstopable. But one of the acts helping to make country cooler than ever on this side of the Atlantic aren’t from Tennessee or Texas, they’re from Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire in southern England. And the duo of Ben Earle and Crissie Rhodes have swiftly become one of the real buzz bands of 2014. This album is their debut and this album so happens to be rather good. Alright, we will get one thing straight here, this certainly is not metal, so if metal is your forte, you may not even be reading this anyway, but we here are very open minded to the music we listen too. I am reviewing the deluxe edition featuring 15 outstanding tracks of easy listening Pop/Country Music, and everything here clicks all the right buttons. From the opening number, the bouncy 'Tonight', through the country feel of 'Nashville Grey Skies', the lovely ballad and title track 'Brave', the catchy 'All Over Again', the beautiful single 'State Lines' and the lively 'Drink You Away' (Deluxe edition). The Shires have literally found a piece of country to call their own. They love American music, but they’re proudly British and intensely keen to add some real indigenous flavour to the pot. The song ‘Made In England’ is a perfect example, a real celebration of all things British. My Dad who is not the worlds best authority on anything music (apart from Elvis or Roy Orbison) has just said to me; "do Decca Records still exist then?". Obviously they do...this is a brilliant record and is well recommended from a very talented duo! 8.75/10 (Katie McIntyre)

THE SHIVER..'THE ACOUSTIC EXPERIENCE' EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 11th October 2011

Italian Band The Shiver has been known to Ravenheart Music for somewhile now. Fronted by Faith, their brand of Alternative Rock and Metal goes down a storm, and they have quite a following here in the UK. This little offering is a three track EP, featuring tracks from the 'A New Horizon' LP. 'Through This Cold Water', 'In Obscurity' and 'The Fragile Sound' are in-fact given the unplugged treatment and I love it! And not only do The Shiver produce some awesome music, unplugged or otherwise, they are such great people too. Check this out by clicking here, download it free and legal, and then enjoy with a glass of Italian wine - great stuff....8.5/10 (Dave)

THE SOUNDS..'DYING TO SAY THIS TO YOU'

Korava Records) Reviewed 20th March 2007

A quick review/ This cd has wandered our way. 16 tracks inc 6 bonus tracks!! A pop/rock cd with vocals that I find a little annoying at times, reminding me a little of Avril Lavigne (who I do not find annoying!). Nonetheless, this is synth driven pop rock from these Swedish rockers, like a cross between Blondie and The Killers (Hot Fuss). Not bad, and deserving 7/10 (Reviewed by Laura).

THE SPIRITUAL BAT..'CRUEL MACHINE'

(Danse Macabre) Reviewed 17th June 2011

Italians The Spiritual Bat are a proudly old skool gothic rock band whose origins go way back to 1992 as Spiritual Bats, this is the second album in their new incarnation following on from 2008's Through the Shadows. They are now a duo of Dario Passamonti on instruments and Rosetta Garri on Siouxsie Sioux style vocals and drum arrangements (she joined the original band as a drummer). Influences are the great gothic bands of the 80's, The Cure, The Mission, Sisters of Mercy and Roman Jugg era Damned, with that classic sound of shimmering flanged guitars, throbbing bass, tribal drums and spooky synths. This is music to sink your fangs into over a nice pint of blood after taking your werewolf for howl in the moonlight. Creeping into their creepy crypt you unearth a host of straight for the jugular rockers such as title track 'Cruel Machine' and the catchy 'Chance', as well as songs like the tortured 'Tormented Body', the other worldly 'Other Side', the fatally deathly 'Crucifixion' and the venomous 'Lament For the Poisoned Mother'. If you cherish the sound of classic gothic rock descend their batpole to their batcave, a blood curdling batscore of 8.5/10. (Batreview by BatPhil)

THE STORM..'BLACK LUCK'

(WR Productions/Target Records Denmark) Reviewed 16th May 2010

Since the band was founded, The Storm has been one of Denmark’s absolute most renowned and talked about bands in both the media and amongst music fans. Their 2007 Universal Records debut, ’Where The Storm Meets The Ground’ with production by Roy Thomas Baker (Queen etc), has already gone platinum. And while nations abroad are curiously monitoring the band, The Storm is currently touring Denmark with nothing but sold out shows – quite an achievement for a band that has only existed since 2006. Their success can be put down to the collaboration between two of Denmark’s most respected musicians and performers - Johan Wohlert and Pernille Rosendahl (Vox), who are also together in their private life aswell. The music on this their second record, sees Universal Records replaced by their own label, in close collaboration with metal-connoisseurs Target Records. And what a release we have here. 10 tracks of awesome melodic/alternative/hard rock, every track being a right corker. The comparison that springs to mind is (maybe) Kelly Clarkson kinda going metal! 'Wall of Shame' is a great start to this album and it never lets up, with numbers like 'Are Your Shoes Too Tight', that refuse to leave your head. Typical in-fact of all the songs on this superb cd. But the best I feel is the duo of 'Herculean Task' that siegues perfectly into the title track during the second half of the record. These two tracks you could say combine to bring a piece of music that lasts over 8 minutes, and throws eveything at you, barring the kitchen sink. There is even a brief flirtation with techno! From start to finish, this cd has it all, and I am very near gobsmacked. If you like your music, heavy and very melodic, contact Target Records at http://www.targetshop.dk/thestorm/ and get a copy. I did!! Awesome..9.5/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

THE STORM..'BLACK LUCK'

(Spinefarm Records) Reviewed 23rd November 2010

I reviewed the 10 track Danish import of this album back in mid May, but thanks to the lovely people at Spinefarm, they have made this album rather more widely available. What's more, there are also three extra tracks on this release, the additional tracks lifted from the band's debut release 'Where The Storm Meets The Ground', an album itself that is damn cool!. By and large, my view of this record has not changed since my first review back in May, and the three extra tracks, 'Beauty of Small Things', 'Lullaby' and 'Drops in the Ocean' add further dimension to an album that can already be classed as a classic. If the people at Spinefarm really got behind this record, it will be big, and could well propel The Storm to mega stardom, and so it should. An album full of classic rock tunes choked full of melody..get it 10/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

THE STORM..'REBEL AGAINST YOURSELF'

(Universal Denmark) Reviewed 16th Sept 2011

The Storm must be one of Denmark's hottest female fronted acts at the moment, and this, their third full length release serves to confirm this. It is just rather unfortunate that the Danes seem to want to keep their hottest properties to themselves, and not share it with anybody. We had the same problem with Cryoshell, their album was simply amazing, but no one outside of their native Denmark could get the album. Like the Cryoshell cd (that Aimee eventually obtained for me), I had to go to enormous lengths to get a copy of 'Rebel Against Yourself', but I did, and here is the review. This latest effort from The Storm takes a more poppier route, but that does not mean to say that they have sold out. We have a very catchy pop/rock record here in-fact, kicking off with which is really a lighter waving power ballad, 'Save The World (You Couldn't)'. Getting things underway with a ballad may seem a little strange, although the song does build up into an electro style rocker towards the end. Anyway, ballad or not, The Storm pull it off. Further awesome as hell numbers follow including the hideously catchy single 'Lost In The Fire' and the follow up track 'Everything Hurts'. There is nothing on this release which I dislike, okay the metal heads out there may turn their noses up at it, but to be honest, The Storm has pulled it off again. Good highly infectious stuff and highly recommended if you can get your hands on a copy....9/10 (Dave)

THE TRAVELLERS..'A JOURNEY INTO THE SUN WITHIN'

(Metal Minds) Reviewed 18th June 2011

Polish musician Wojtek Szadkowski from the prog groups Satellite and Collage created the band Strawberry Fields a couple of years ago with beautiful singer Robin. This was an atmospheric pop project as befits their title, for fans of bands like Portishead and Goldfrapp. This new venture with Robin on vocals is again suitably titled as it takes us on a journey into uncharted musical waters between Karnataka and Jon Anderson, especially his contributions to the Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe album released in 1989. It has Jon's ear for gorgeous pop melodies, penchant for sing song chants, and love of ethnic rhythms and sounds. Robin sings an octave higher than before which takes her into the same register as Jon, and Wojtek's delightful synth sounds are reminiscent of Vangelis. Grzegorz's Steve Howe esque guitars add a subtle power to this dreamy, atmospheric, enchanting and at times breathtakingly beautiful music that has enough variation and dynamics to keep it absorbing, and certainly not soporific. You get six lengthy tracks of pure listening pleasure that takes you to a sea of tranquillity, but thankfully no where near Topographic Oceans. The drum programming is an object lesson on how to use drum machines, complementing and driving the music perfectly but never intrusive, and again I am reminded of Bill Bruford and his gigantic acoustic and electric drum kit that was the size of Belgium. Unusually the bass was played on synthesizers by Krzysiek giving a smooth rich almost fretless like underbelly. Metal Mind have hit us with a double wammy with this album and the superb Neranature release I reviewed a short while ago. If you love the lighter side of Yes or any of Jon Anderson's solo work then this is highly recommended, so book an excursion to their travel agents at their Facebook, a scenic 9/10 (Phil)

THE V...'NOW OR NEVER'

(Frontiers) Reviewed 21st September 2015

Veronica Freeman aka The V is the lead vocalist of the American heavy metal band Benedictum. Her most recent album with Benedictum is 'Obey', released through Frontiers Records in 2013. In July 2015 Frontiers Records released this her debut solo album, which includes an array of special guests including Pete Wells, Aric Avina and Rikard Stjernquist of Benedictum, Michael Sweet (Stryper), Garry Bordonaro (The Rods), Jeff Pilson (Dokken, Foreigner), Mike Lepond (Symphony X), Tony Martin (Black Sabbath), Jerry Dixon (Warrant) and more. With such an array of musicians involved, one would expect this to be from the top drawer and of course, this album does let rip, with 12 tracks of melodic hard rock/metal, showcasing as Veronica does in Benedictum, what a belter of a voice she has. Of the numbers on offer, 'L.O.V.E' and 'Line In The Sand' takes the more melodic 80s sounding route, while 'Love Should Be To Blame' is a slightly slower number but hideously melodic to boot - kool! I have seen one or two not very good reviews of this album, because it is different to what Veronica normally does in Benedictum. Erm…that is why it is a solo record guys, therefore it may well be different! Overall, this is a damn good hard rockin’ record, well worth checking out if not already done so... 8.75/10 (Dave)

THE VAL..'BACK'

(Self Released) Reviewed 24th January 2012

The Val fronted by German lass Gabrielle de Val Koenzen is based in Spain, and on this release they give us twelve tracks of amazing Melodic Rock/AOR, that I am sure would have caused a total storm in the 80s. Indeed, I feel that even now, there is a lot on offer here that could see the band crossing over into the mainstream. The Val first put in an appearance in the 90s in-fact, when they was known as Ying-Yang. But that band split and the band members went their different ways. However, in 2010 the band got together again, they are now known as The Val, and the album 'Back' represents the fact that the band are back and seemingly firing on all four cylinders. This is a powerful and inspiring recording, and reminds me of Heart amongst other bands of that ilk. Indeed opener 'Kiss In a Dragon Night' does have that Heart feel about it, and will appeal to fans of that style of music. The whole album actually follows a similar path offering up a mix of mid tempo and laid back Melodic Rock and is very good. Looking on the band's Facebook page (click here), they list amongst their likes, Toto, Boston, Chicago and Fleetwood Mac amongst others. That I think will give you a good idea where this band is heading. Highly recommended...8.75/10 (Dave)

THE VAL…’HEADING FOR THE SURFACE’

(Self Release) Reviewed 16th July 2015

The Val feature German lass Gabrielle de Val on vocals and are a Madrid based band. I am no spring chicken and my younger years saw me listening to bands from the hard rockin’ 70’s and 80’s. The melodic rock/AOR scene became quite strong then until grunge came along and killed it off. I was into all the hair band stuff, Glam Rock/Hard Rock/Melodic Rock/AOR and it is bands like The Val that confirm to me why I love music in the first place. This effectively is prime time Melodic Rock/AOR and to be honest, I simply just love it! There are 12 tracks here and I simply cannot fault this little package. OK, if you are into all the Symphonic /Gothic stuff and are not open minded to the music you listen too, then this possibly will not be your cuppa tea. But this is inoffensive radio friendly rock music that to me demands mainstream attention. I reviewed their previous album ‘Back’ in January 2012 and I liked what I heard then, but this is even better. If you like your Fleetwood Macs and your Totos, then this will be for you. The band’s facebook is here, for some reason, Mcafee would not let me onto their own website..well recommended to lovers of this style of music.. 9/10 (Dave)

THE WAY I AM...'APOCALYPSE? NO WAY!'

(Klonosphere) Reviewed 26th March 2015

Freshly signed on the Klonosphere label and distributed by Season of Mist, The Way I Am was born from the meeting of the musical universe of J-War (Composer, Multi-instrumentalist) and Saturne (Singer, Painter). This music is intense, hypersensitive and extremely accesible, their compositions are a blend of British Rock (Muse, Radiohead et al), American Alternative Metal (Deftones, Korn, Flyleaf...) and movie music (Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner). This EP of 6 tracks is rather good, heavy, tuneful and there is no reason why this band should not be heard on mainstream rock radio. Kinda Kerrang music fodder if you like, with the heavy riffs on the track 'Miss Anger' making this one of my favourite tracks from the EP. I also do rather like the closer 'Answer My Call' - a melodic pounder. The synergy between J-War's music and Saturne's graphics form a true mesmerizing mix and make this band well worth checking out with their eclectic mix of music - website is here... 8/10 (The Nugget)