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Reviews T cont (3)

THEATRUM MUNDI...'THE EYES OF THE REALM'

(Self Release) Reviewed 29th July 2013

Theatrum Mundi, literally World Theatre, inspired by Shakespeare’s “all the worlds a stage”, is a book and rock opera tie in created by guitarist Michael Ray Gould and keyboardist Li'anne Drysdale from Springfield Missouri. The 'Eyes of the Realm' was the name given by Elizabeth 1st of England to her circle of spies led by alchemist John Dee (1527- 1609), the first man designated the codename 007, he liked his mead shaken but not stirred. They were an unlikely bunch of anti-heroes, including a pirate, a jester, an assassin, a masked vigilante, a priestess and a beautiful master thief. The baddies are the Spanish Inquisition, a sort of medieval S.P.E.C.T.R.E. but with added torture, and together they are both after an ancient relic that can tell the future of mankind. It would make a fantastic film, blending fact and fiction, full of colourful characters and a fascinating plot, a mix of James Bond, Indiana Jones, Zoro, Merlin and Lara Croft, but with lots of codpieces and corsets (Daniel Craig in tights for the ladies, now there's a thought!!!). Li'anne and Michael are obviously avid students of European symphonic gothic rock/metal, British musical theatre and British melodic prog, in the general realm as later Therion, Apparition, and Whispering Tales (who also did a concept album about the Inquisition), blended with some Alan Parsons, Rick Wakeman and Elizabethan theatre, but given their own unique spin. Rock opera style vocals by Christy Campbell and Gina Ronat are most excellent, and they are supported throughout by the superb Springfield Chamber Choir, who give the music the appropriate ambience. Fittingly the whole album is a rip-snorting romp with ten terrific top tunes full of super instrumental passages, the rocking title track 'The Eyes of the Realm', the dynamic 'Test Your Metal', the ballad 'It's a Mystery to Me', the moody 'Rescue', the throbbing groovy 'Dance With Me Tonight' and the dramatic tango with death 'A Plan For the Universal Happiness of Man' to name just a few. Every so often a project comes along from the most unlikely of places that really captures the imagination, an album that is more than the sum of it's parts, with enormous appeal to fans of European symphonic gothic rock/metal, rock operas and melodic prog, this is music just 'as you like it'. Their Globe can be found here, where you can partake of their digipak, a romping 9.5/10 (Phil)

THERION..'GOTHIC KABBALAH'

(Nuclear Blast) Reviewed 19th February 2007

A quick review! This is a double cd that has a running time of around 85 minutes. This cd has female vocals, male vocals, choirs. It is pompous, it is progressive, it is gothic and it rocks. It may not appeal to fans of Evanescence, and it may perhaps take a few listens to appreciate, but overall it is good. 'The Wand Of Arabis' is one of my stand out tracks. Check this album out. 7.5/10 (Reviewed by Aimee)

THERION..'SITRA AHRA'

(Nuclear Blast) Reviewed 22nd September 2010

Since the sprawling double album Gothic Kabbalah all of Christofer Johnsson’s crew have jumped ship, including the important Niemann brothers and drummer Peter Karlsson. With a new team and Therion’s reputation for constant change, what will the new more manageable single album bring? Joining Aesma Daeva’s opera diva Lori Lewis is new vocalist Thomas Vikström whose voice ranges from a rich tenor to metal, with trusty old Snowy Shaw also helping out, together with the massed choirs and various opera soloists. The lyrics are as usual by Swedish occultist Thomas Karlsson about various mythical and pagan legends together with the Sitra Ahra which is a supernatural evil force that’s the opposite of good in the ancient Jewish Kabbalah teachings. Therion are credited with inventing symphonic metal in the mid 1990’s with the amalgam of opera, choirs, and orchestra to heavy metal, but their music has many other dimensions. We kick off in fine style with the strutting, marching ‘Sitra Ahra’, and it is clear that the massed choirs are back with a vengeance, filling every track. ‘Kings of Edom’ (an Iron Age kingdom in southern Jordan) continues in similar vein, but this time the song changes in pace with everything from stately to sedate to a gallop, very clever. ‘Unguentum Sabbati’ (European pagan folklore) rampages along with a hint of Phantom of the Opera, with Snowy sounding like a singing Dalek, I half expected him to shout EXTERMINATE!!!! The epic ‘Land of Canaan’ (an ancient Middle Eastern area around Israel) starts as a B52’s style groover with Vox organ, then turns spaghetti western complete with harmonica, it turns into a cowboy waltz, then we are in Fiddler on the Roof, followed by a paper and comb waltz, and finally a Broadway show, barking mad but brilliant. ‘Hellequin’ (the French devil’s horseman and probable origin of Harlequin) is a rocking tune that verges on the Doctor Who theme at one point, followed by the seriously groovy, even danceable, ‘2012’, even though it’s about the Mayan prediction for the destruction of the world. ‘Cú Chulainn’ sounds like a Welsh male voice choir singing a carol between the heavier sections, but the lyrics are about the Irish mythical king. Another dramatic rocking tune ‘Kali Yuga, Pt. 3’ (ancient Indian scripture) is followed by the jolly bouncing 2/4 ‘The Shells are Open’ (about an evil force in the Kabbalah) with its rousing refrain. The brief, thrashing and suitably titled ‘Din’ (about the Sitra Ahra) made me realise that this album isn’t at all heavy, in fact, more rock than metal. Final cut ‘After the Inquisition: Children of the Stone’ sounds like a hymn written by Rick Wakeman with a schoolboy choir even though it is about the witch trials and pagan mysticism (they mention the nun Mary/Maria von Mossau who was one of last people to be executed for witchcraft in Germany). Ignoring the incongruity it is a beautiful song, indeed throughout the album the generally upbeat music is often in stark contrast with the dark and obscure lyrical themes. This album distils all that’s best about Therion in one easy to digest package, and its accessibility makes it a perfect introduction for those new to the band. Being on Nuclear Blast it will be easily available from all your favourite stockists. All in all this is a brilliant album, 9/10 (Reviewed by Phil)

T.H.L...'THIRTEENTH HELL LEVEL'

(Sound Management Corporation) Reviewed 6th March 2015

T.H.L. (FaceBook) fronted by Federica Cressi was born in Brescia, Italy in 2010 with the intention of writing and composing their own songs. The project blends the experiences that every single member has brought to the band, including the passion for rock music seen as a natural expression of art. The name T.H.L, Thirteenth Hell Level, a sort of provocation, sums up all the topics faced in the lyrics of each song: war ('War'), modern society ('Sociopathic'), drugs ('Erythroxylum'), the road to death ('Longway To Redemption') and rape ('Forget'). The album is overall a consistent affair with a 70/80s hard rock feel and features 10 tracks, 8 original songs and 2 covers (The cool Honky Tonk Woman by Rolling Stones and Born To Be Wild by Steppenwolf). One of my face numbers from the album being 'Really Cruel', I like the atmospherics half way into the tune, while the intro to another fave track of mine, the bluesy ballad 'Longway To Redemption', reminds me very very briefly of the Moody Blues tune 'Forever Afternoon'. With a six-piece line-up, the band is currently continuing its live activity and composing new songs. On February 2015, T.H.L. signed a deal with Atomic Stuff to promote 'Thirteenth Hell Level'. I think the band has what it takes to move onto the next level but may have to make subtle improvements, we shall see, but having said that, there are some tasty nuggets here so they are worth checking out... 7.75/10 (The Nugget)

THIS WICKED TONGUE..EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 21st April 2011

This Wicked Tongue is a UK band that not only are they based not to far from Ravenheart Towers, they are causing a stir here on local radio, more especially their singer Tina V. Basically, we have a band here playing loud, contemporary rock music, and making an absolutely no holds barred approach whilst doing it. From the storming opener (excuse pun) 'The Storm in the Hourglass', the catchy 'Damn It', the pulsating 'Glance at a Buddhist Wristwatch' (love the title) and 'Fools Rush In', mixing accoustic and in yer face guitars, this band sure is going places. And let's not forget the song 'Home Thoughts From Abroad'. It was written by and was a hit for Clifford T Ward, who died 10 years ago from MS, and some time ago was voted one of the best love songs ever by Radio 2 listeners. The original was a delicate piano and vocal piece, whereas the band has now turned it into a full on rock song. On the record overall, the seductive nature of Tina V's vocals have won me over, and will many more no doubt in due course. This band is dragging rock music by the short and curlies into the 21st Century and they should do well and I recommend checking out their reverbnation site. 8.25/10 (Dave)

THIS WICKED TONGUE...'PROVINCES' EP

(Self Released) Reviewed 2nd July 2012

I am a little confused! We here have an awesome hard working hard rocking band from Worcester here in the UK, indeed only a 20 min drive from Ravenheart Towers. And yet they do not have a recording deal - this is music that should be snapped up by a major label, because if Paramore, The Pretty Reckless and the like have deals, then This Wicked Tongue should have a deal as well! I have seen the band live on more than one occasion, and they rock as hard live as they sound on record, and this EP is no exception. There are some massive numbers here, with Tina V's sexy and raunchy vocals suiting the style of music completely. I am pushed to name a fave, but 'Discontent' to my ears is an epic hard rock number. I am just speechless listening to this cd - utterly infectious and a must buy. Check the video out to their single 'If This Is Me' here and also check out their website. I am informed that the EP will be released in August with three bonus tracks (these being the three tracks from their FREE January online release), giving the punter nearly an album's worth of material - great stuff...9/10 (Dave)

THRISTANA...'DEVIL'S DESTINY' EP

(Self Released) Reviewed 19th Sepetember 2012

An interesting offering here from this Hungarian band. Fronted by Anna Király, this three track EP offers up some Prog Influenced Symphonic Metal. Furthermore, after having listened to this cd, I am pleasantly surprised by what is on offer. The 7 minute plus opener which is the title track has an intro that sounds a little like early Within Temptation, before the song becomes a Melodic Progressive thumper, with a great piano led choral interlude and guitar solo during the send portion of the song. and I can imagine this number going down well in a live scenario. 'Devotion For Dreams' is another up tempo Progressive song with a great chorus while closer 'Our Never Ending Story'is a piano led ballad featuring quite simply the piano, strings and Anna's awesome vocals. This to me is a band worth keeping an eye on in the future. Get a taster for the EP here. 8/10 (Dave)

THY SHADE…’THE LAST GOODBYE’

(Self Release) Reviewed 27th June 2016

Thy Shade is a Symphonic Metal band based in Denver, Colorado. Fronted by the classical/crossover soprano Diana Shade, the project was formed during the summer of 2015, with Mane Cabrales (Dimension) behind the composition and production. After working hard on the writing process, Diana and her band has given birth to 11 songs, these songs focusing on strong melodies and catchy choruses, as a consequence creating a pleasant listening experience and in turn offering up a new voice in the Symphonic Metal world. There are 11 songs on this album, all carefully crafted and sung by the awesome operatic Tarja sounding vocals of Diana. We even get a foray into Power Metal territory with ‘Final Chapter’ that also sees the introduction of male screams into the musical equation. The record overall is a good one, the second half of the album to me seems better than the first half. Some epic tracks including ’Des Irae’ and the beautiful 'Bring The Light Back', so regards Diana and her band, you could well say- “job done”. Facebook is here… 8.25/10 (Hannah Cooper)

THY SYMPHONY..'HARMONIZING THE WORLD'

(Sleazy Rider) Reviewed 3rd November 2010

Brazilians Thy Symphony have a history going back to 2001, but they have suffered a lot of trials and tribulations along the way, and it has taken an enormous amount of dedication and perseverance to finally release this debut album. They specialise in creating dramatic, thundering, anthemic, almighty, colossal, fast and furious Rhapsody meets Nightwish meets Wagner symphonic power metal soundtracks crammed with soaring strings, rasping brass and massed choirs. They are fronted by the captivating Camila Senne with her awesome operatic voice with a delightful vibrato and Allan Ortiona who has a mighty metal and operatic tenor voice, they make a truly wonderful combination. Songs like ‘Eternal Life’ and ‘Rising From The Sun’ are glorious rousing sword waving battle hymns while tunes such as title track ‘Harmonizing the World’ and ‘Lord of the Seas’ see them fearlessly galloping headlong into the valley of death like the Charge of the Light Brigade with cannons to the left and cannons to the right. The bursts of double bass drumming have Matthew Liles peddling faster than Lance Armstrong being chased by Attila the Hun, his feet must be a smoking blur, he’s just left the band, he probably ended up in Peru. There are several numbers like the magnificent ‘Sun and Moon’ that feature segments that remind me of Greg Lake’s fabulous contributions to ELP’s Works (C’est La Vie et al), great favourites of mine. The catchiest number is ‘Broken Wings’ and it culminates with the blockbuster ‘The Brave From Highlands’, a song so titanic you will need a lie down afterwards to recover your senses. This is an album that will blow you away like a raging hurricane. If you’re still clinging onto the wreckage, stagger to www.myspace.com/thysymphony where you can find out how to buy this symphonic metal masterpiece, a highly harmonizing 9.5/10 (Reviewed by Phil).

TIARRA...'X'

(Self Released) Reviewed 9th June 2015

Tiarra is a gothic metal band from Bucharest, being formed in 2004. They are fronted by the lovely vocals of Anda Pomponiu with male vocals I believe from Alex "Indianu" Pantea. And boy, I wanna tell you something, this album is absolutely amazing, offering a 14 track double cd of nearly 107 minutes of Gothic Metal mayhem. Indeed, there is everything here from Death, Doom, Darkwave, through to Gothic and Progressive as well as Modern Metal, and I am sure the kitchen sink can be found somewhere among that little lot! There are two epic sounding tracks that exceed 14 minutes ('Broken Echoes II' and 'No More Sun'), but despite their length, do not bore the listener. Anda's vocals meanwhile, kinda remind me of Nell from The Crest and latter day Theatre of Tragedy, while there is a helluva lot going on here to plow through. Tiarra's style combines Metal instruments with classical instruments - we have heavy guitar riffs vs the poignant and warm sound of the cello, violin and the sound of keyboards, that in turn create subtle contrasts. I must say that there is something for everybody on this double disc...'Cold' is one of the slower atmospheric numbers, the band can also rock out totally on tracks like the 8 min plus 'Burn', featuring the growly vocals of Alex and the number 'Hard To Let Go', while offering a commercial feel on tracks like 'When She Cries'. Until recently I had never heard of this band (website here), but the album that lyrically is based on personal experiences and is exploring the duality and antagonism of human feelings, is totally awesome and well recommended.... 10/10 (Dave)

TIGER BELL...'DON'T WANNA HEAR ABOUT YOUR BAND' (single)

(Platinum/WIFE/Sony) Reviewed 12th March 2014

Punk is alive and well and living somewhere in Stockholm. Here we have a two track single featuring 'Dont Wanna Hear About Your Band' and a cover of the Plastic Bertrand number 'ca plane pour moi'. Two tracks totaling just a little over 4 mins. Punk how we like it! It is difficult to score a two track single, but if this kinda music floats your boat, check this all girl band Tiger Bell out here. (Dave)

TIME OF THE SINNERS…’ETERNITY’

(Self Release) Reviewed 1st August 2016

Another unknown band comes our way. This time it is Time Of The Sinners who come from Zamosc in Poland. The birth of the band can be dated back to the beginning of September 2013. The initiator was bassist and guitarist Jacek Palak. In October of that year, the band adopted the name Time Of The Sinners, and with other band members being recruited, after a long search they found a singer, Kinga Szewczuk. They play heavy metal, power metal and hard rock with a keen sense of melody. There are eight tracks on this album, all kicking off with a four minute and what is a rather cool instrumental, that then leads us into the up tempo 'It Comes At Night'. Not bad, not bad at all and it continues with mainly up tempo numbers, and I do rather like Kinga’s vocals, with very little sign of a European accent. I do have fave tracks and one fave number that did catch my attention was the catchy and pounding ‘Rise Like A Sun’, while there is the customary power ballad, 'Elusive Dream' together with hammond organ I believe. This release I have rather enjoyed, have a listen for yourself here… 8.5/10 (Dave)

TIMO TOLKKI's AVALON...'THE LAND OF NEW HOPE'

(Frontiers) Reviewed 26th April 2013

It’s A.D. 2055 and most big cities of planet earth are either flooded with tsunamis or destroyed by earthquakes and fire. The whole infrastructure and communication system has broken down. The destruction is total. A small group of survivors leaves for a quest to find a sacred place known as “The Land Of New Hope”. It is an old fairytale that has been told since decades but very few has actually ever believed of its existence. They travel far on a journey that is full of dangers and come across a seer who guides them further. She explains to them that “The Land Of New Hope” does exist but it is guarded by a Keeper and only those who are pure in heart can pass him. They wander further towards their ultimate destiny. Former Stratovarius main songwriter and guitarist, Timo Tolkki has been silently preparing his musical revenge. Following a call in the summer 2012, from Frontiers Records President Serafino Perugino, Tolkki started writing a new album from scratch following an original concept discussed years ago between the artist and Perugino. The idea was to have a magniloquent metal / rock opera with some cinematic orchestrations to bring back the Stratovarius original sound in a more symphonic and grandiose fashion. Tolkki managed to gather some renowned singers around, with particular focus on one of the most talented young female singers, Elize Ryd (AMARANTHE) who has the lion’s share of the lead vocals on the album, plus a guest appearance from Sharon Den Adel (Within Temptation), and opera vocals from Magdalena Lee. I will cut to the chase and say that this album is the business, all ten tracks being melodic, bombastic, epic and symphonic, all rolled into one, fantastic! My fave tracks being the bouncy 'Enshrined In My Memory', the exuberant 'Shine', the awesome power ballad 'I'll Sing You Home', and the closer and title track 'The Land Of New Hope'. The stunning artwork was specially created for this project by Stanis W. Decker which will be released in 2 versions – regular cd and deluxe edition, with a 30 minutes documentary “making of the album” and 2 promotional videoclips. A must buy - released 17th May in Europe and 21st May in Nth America...9/10 (Dave)

TIMO TOLKKI'S AVALON...'ANGELS OF THE APOCALYPSE'

(Frontiers Records) Reviewed 25th April 2014

It is 2020 A.D - The Elements send 4 Angels to observe mankind and its actions in the last century. There are 4 Angels, but still they are One. Fire, Wind, Earth and Water are their names. With the Elements they observe in unimaginable sadness and anger the primitive events that take place in the last 150 years as they have the ability to go back and forth in time. As they give their final warning, Mankind sees unimaginable destruction that shakes its core foundations. Pandora`s Box is opened and the forces of Nature are unleashed. Is this the prelude for Judgement Day! The concept of the Avalon Metal Opera was born in the second half of 2012, when the Finnish composer and producer Timo Tolkki, former STRATOVARIUS guitar player and one of the true forefathers of the Power Metal genre, decided to move forward with his career and work on a project which could allow him to express his musical creativity without any boundaries, within the Classic Metal genre. The debut 'The Land of New Hope' was released in May 2013 and the album featured performances by numerous internationally acclaimed singers and musicians including Timo Tolkki himself of course. Tolkki resumed the work for this second album with the concept of developing the sound and the music in an even more grandiose and symphonic metal mood, even though from the beginning there was the idea to go in a heavier and darker direction which better fits the Apocalyptic scenarios described in this album. The amazing vocal cast appearing this time include the new NIGHTWISH singer Floor Jansen – handling lead vocals on the grandoise track and first single 'Design The Century' (here is a link to the video 'Design The Century' - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VO49X_Ie4A) – along with Simone Simons (EPICA), Fabio Lione (RHAPSODY OF FIRE), David DeFeis (VIRGIN STEELE), Zachary Stevens (ex SAVATAGE, CIRCLE II CIRCLE) plus Elize Ryd (AMARANTHE) who appears again after the first album, and the stunning Chilean singer Caterina Nix, who is working on her debut album which is also produced by Tolkki. This album is an exceptional piece of work from start to finish, awesome Power Metal, awesome Symphonic Metal and some rather cool Power Ballads. To be honest, I do not have the space to describe this in detail. But all I can say is buy it when it gets released May 16th here in Europe (May 20th N America) cos this is something special, rest assured!!... 9.75/10 (Dave)

TITTYTWISTERS..'IN THE SILVERY WATERS'

(Independent Release) Reviewed 18th November 2007

Dave has given me this cd to review, and this is the sort of music that is right up Aimee Halford's alleyway! The lovely named Tittytwisters is a band from Livorno-Italy. Born from an idea of friends and musicians, they started playing together in the year 2000. Their musical style has evolved over the years becoming more melodic using electronic melodies, together with heavy guitar riffs. Fronted by Ele with male vocals by their bassist Dani, 'In The Silvery Waters' is ok. My only gripe however, is the rather at times annoying screamo vocals by Dani. But I can live with that. 10 trax of heavy gothic melodic mayhem on offer here, with an electronic twist. This album may not get you the first time, but it will eventually! Get it at cdbaby. Not bad at all. 7.5/10 (Reviewed by Aimee).

TO CAST A SHADOW...'IN MEMORY OF'

(Kolony) Reviewed 9th February 2011

To Cast A Shadow's tale begins with a group of three friends coming together in a basement to play loud and pounding grooves, and this record, their second is simply fine metal from these Norwegians. It is mostly subtle, melodic doom, but sometimes it wields classic metal and black metal atmospheres, and this metal feel is displayed in opener 'Tormented', with vocals being shared between male grunt/growls of Marcus Granlien, and the angelic voice of Gunnhild Huser. The slower 'Morose' is a more doomy morose number and is actuallly based on a true story - awesome and at times operatic vocals from Gunnhild. 'Nightfall' and 'Oceans Apart' keep the kinda Melodic Doom momentum going, but certainly there is an emphasis on melody that bubbles underneath the surface, and I like my melody. 'Betula' features Nell from THEATRE OF TRAGEDY. A nice short little song, this one - too short perhaps! 'My Misery' ups the tempo a wee bit with metal guitars coupled with Gunnhild's awesome vocals, and the background growls of Marcus. 'When You Leave The Room' has some heavy, classic doom metal chords, while 'Set Afire' is an amazingly straight forward catchy rock tune. A foot tapper on a Doom record? That's right, great track, while 'The Answer' and the title track close this rather awesome offering. To summarise - Okay, the Doom elements are certainly there and that may not be to everybody's liking, but if you like your music old Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride or even old Tristania style, then this release is for you. With top notch production by Kristian Sigland (The Crest, Theatre Of Tragedy), you can find their myspace site at To Cast a Shadow. I whole heartedly recommended this...8.75/10 (Dave)

TOKYO WITCH HUNT...'ELECTIC ELECTRIC'

(Self Released) Reviewed 2nd January 2013

Back in July 2008 I reviewed an album by Izzie Voodoo called 'The Push'. That album I categorised as Dark Electronica Pop Music. Now she is back fronting a Barnsley/Sheffied based band, Tokyo Witch Hunt. They bring us a flamboyant array of songs described as "super danceable", with tracks ranging from "moody and enticing" to those filled with "euphoria and desire". And how true that is too - this is a good album that should interest many a nightclub DJ, and strictly speaking, should also grab the attention of mainstream radio if there was any justice in this world. There are some up tempo dance floor numbers like 'Lightshow', 'Fastlane', 'Escape', 'Snowpop' and 'Wasted', whilst Izzie also throws in a slower, sensual and rather haunting song - 'Dusk In The Woods'. With Izzie taking on vocals (and I just love her innocent and at times sensual vocal style), keys, samples, guitar and sequencing, being joined by ‘CrAsh’ Barwick on bass & keys, plus the occasional backing singer, it is obvious that this girl has talent. Okay, this may not be to everybody's liking if you are more metal orientated, but if you are open minded regards your music, then this could well be right up your alleyway. Check the website out HERE... 8/10 (Dave)

T0-MERA..'TRANSCENDENTAL'

(Candlelight Records) Reviewed 29th October 2006

To-Mera was formed by Julie Kiss and Lee Barrett (ex:Extreme Noise Terror / Disgust / Mussolini Headkick) following her acrimonious departure from the Hungarian progressive metal band Without Face. Like the Sylver Myst album reviewed below, don't expect straight forward melodic metal with this release. This is a very complex progressive metal album by a new British based Band. 'Transcendental" is diverse and should appeal to a wide spectrum of music lovers. It is a cd that will not hit you immediately upon first listen, but will reveal more layers on further listens. Fans of Dream Theater for example I would imagine will lap this up. Meanwhile, fans of Nightwish and Lacuna Coil may struggle, but this is a well produced slab of thinking person's metal. We like it! 8/10 (Reviewed by Dave and Aimee)

TONIGHT ALIVE…’LIMITLESS’

(Sony Records -Oceania, Japan/Fearless -North America) Reviewed 3rd March 2016

Tonight Alive is an Australian rock band from Sydney, formed in 2008. The band consists of lead vocalist Jenna McDougall, lead guitarist Whakaio Taahi, rhythm guitarist Jake Hardy, bassist Cam Adler and drummer Matt Best. Guitarist Jake Hardy and bassist Cameron Adler already had an existing rock project covering other bands' material. Later, they met Whakaio Taahi through mutual friends, and asked him to join in on keyboard and lead guitar. Meanwhile, Jenna was writing her own acoustic music at the time, and had Cameron Adler helping her record and produce a demo. After the demo was finished, Cam gave Jenna a song the band had written and asked her to record her vocals over it. On May 31, 2008, the day before her sixteenth birthday, Jenna joined as lead vocalist, forming the first version of the band. Anyway, here in 2016, the band release what is their third album of what I would call some rather good tuneful and melodic Pop/Rock. 'To Be Free' gets the album underway and is a fine way to start, a great melodic song that would set radio airwaves on fire. The slower but equally as good 'Oxygen' follows and to my ears is another sure fire hit! ‘Human Interaction’ and ‘Drive’ are low tempo numbers, while ‘How Does It Feel’ ups the tempo, and so far everything here pushes all the correct buttons! And it continues with further awesome cuts like the lovely ballad ‘Waves’, the damn cool and catchy ‘Power Of One’ and the closing track, the ballad ‘The Greatest’. This sounds rather crazy but despite their apparent high profile worldwide including to a small extent the UK, I must hold my hands up and say that this band has slipped by and large un-noticed by myself. Time to rectify, this is a good record. Furthermore, the band is often compared to fellow alternative Rock/Pop band Paramore. However, regarding the comparison, guitarist Whakaio Taah stated "People are going to compare, it's human nature, but we don't really let it affect us. We just do what we love to do and hope people like it." Recommended!… 9/10 (Dave)

TOTHEM..'OSAKA BED & BREAKFAST' EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 15th March 2011

I was rather intrigued by the title of this little opus. Well, there are two meanings, the main one is that Osaka B&B is the place where you can get in contact with the band's music. You'll find hospitality and cordiality. You'll be a part of the Tothem world. The other meaning is definitely less philosophical. Anyway, catchy Gothic Metal sums up this 5 track EP release from this Italian Band fronted by Roslen, who I understand are working on their full length debut release. 'Cross The Line' kicks things off, a catchy number with crunching guitar and great keys, with Roslen certainly hitting the high notes! 'Rescue' carries on where the opener left off, and I am liking this little release :) However, the highlight of the album to my ears is 'Light of Soul' which is an awesome power ballad and is one helluva tune - great melodic guitar solo as well compliments of guitarist Black Cyril (great name!). Metamorfosi ups the ante, heavy guitar and sung in the band's native tongue, while 'The Truth Behind' with it 's middle eastern feel mid tune, closes this EP. It must be said that what is done here is nothing new, but when it is this good, you will not hear me complain. Check the band and their music out here. Recommended..8.75/10 (Dave)

TOTHEM...'BEYOND THE SEA'

(Self Release) Reviewed 28th November 2012

Tothem from Rome have a history going back to the early noughties, releasing a self titled EP in 2003, but they then broke up. Fast forward to 2010 and guitarist Black Cyril and vocalist Roslen decide to reform the band with three new members, bassist Leo, drummer Andrea The Joker and keys man Marco. They are a band of many colours, from full on metal to light symphonic gothic, you will hear echoes of great Italian band like Souls of Diotima, Solisia, Silent Opera, Sin Deadly Sin, Evenoire, Teodasia, etc., but blended in Tothem's unique refreshing way. In perfect unison ravishing Roslen can change her vocal style without blinking, from Amy Lee alternative, to Sharon Den Adel semi operatic, to Tarja soprano, to all points between, from innocent child to grand opera dame. The songs sail from light reflection to rocking up a storm to operatic grandeur, making for an absorbing listening experience. They don't mess about with an intro, but launch into the raging riffage of opener 'Run to You', they then assail you with the more lilting lyrical but still powerful numbers 'Smile Again', 'Smile', and 'Still', big power ballads 'Light of Soul' and 'So Close So Far Away', songs that are a touch more 'folky' 'This is the Time' and lead single 'The Witch', mini epics that run the gamut 'Fight With You' and title song 'Beyond the Sea', and the catchy rocking 'Cross The Line', probably my favourite tune. I went to do the washing up after the Eastern flavoured final track 'Where the Angels', five minutes later I had the fright of my life, I thought an opera singer had broken into the house, but is was only Roslen returning with a brief vocal solo, phew! The sound is good and well produced but a bit guitar heavy which stops it from becoming fully symphonic, I personally would have liked to have heard more from Marco. Tothem have set sail with a terrific well crafted album that is sure to find an anchorage in the harbours of all discerning metal fans. Their port can be found here, a seafaring 9/10 (Phil)

TOTHEM…’GEMINI’

(Maple Metal Records) Reviewed 14th May 2016

Tothem is considered by international critics as one of the most talented and promising bands of the Italian and international melodic metal scene, and quite rightly to my ears too. After releasing the EP (Tothem - 2003), only in 2010 did Black Cyril, the guitar player, and Roslen, lead singer, decided to restart the project with the entry of three new members: Leo, on bass guitar, Andrea, on drums, and Marco, on keyboards. During the years they have played at the best clubs in Italy and Europe. Up til now they have recorded two Eps (Tothem in 2003 and Osaka Bed & Breakfast released in 2010 in limited edition), with their first full-length in 2013,'Beyond the Sea' seeing the band hook up with the Canadian label Maple Metal Records. And now in 2016, the new 2nd album is unleashed upon the record buying public. Roslen has an awesome voice that can switch from a kinda Poppy/Rock feel to soprano at the flick of a switch. Everything here is damn good from the opener, being the upbeat and fast paced title track to the closer 'The Witch (Live)' - the studio version of this track appeared on the 'Beyond The Sea' album. There are standout cuts a plenty, but the aforementioned opener is a goodie for starters together with soprano vocal ending, other tracks include ‘Legacy’ which I am sure will become a live fave and crowd pleaser in due course, the electro flavoured pounder ‘Bipolar Disorder’, the catchy ‘Liar’, the mind blowing ‘L’essenza’ and the buoyant ‘The Other Half’ among the others on this record. This is another awesome album from a fine Italian band – out now so get it! 9.25/10 (Dave)

TOUCHSTONE..'WINTERCOAST'

(Heavy Right Foot) Reviewed 4th July 2009

Touchstone are a ‘prog rock with real bite’ band from South East England. This is prog rock for people like their music as big, epic and melodic as possible; Within Temptation meets Ayreon, Asia and Porcupine Tree. It is a loose concept album, but each song stands on it own. The prelude features Jeremy Irons and is a suitably epic introduction, leading into the WT like Wintercoast. Highlights for me include the head banger Strange Days, which would make a great single, and the moving Line in the Sand. Every track is fantastic, with superb guitar and keyboard solos (no noodling), and the outstanding vocals of Kim Seviour. It is staggering the quality of some bands out their struggling to make a name for themselves, and Touchstone deserve to be Mega. If you like great music, played by outstanding musicians, then grab yourself a copy. 9.5/10 (Reviewed by Phil Wooldridge)

TOUCHSTONE..'THE CITY SLEEPS'

(SPV STEAMHAMMER) Reviewed 9th November 2011

Since my review of their last album 'Wintercoast' this band from the SW of England have steadily risen earning them a deal with SPV's Steamhammer label for the release of this new opus, their 3rd album. They were formed in 2003 by keys man and vocalist Rob Cottingham and guitarist Adam Hodgson, and the key ingredient came when vocalist Kim Seviour joined the fray. They have refined and developed their unique brand of progressive melodic rock/metal, taking a broad selection of British music into their oeuvre, including Asia, Rainbow, Pendragon, Yes, Kino, Mostly Autumn, Threshold, and The Police. They can inject into their songs mellifluous mellowness, eruptions of heavy rocking, bouts of metal riffing and shredding, periods of pure prog, bursts of pop, and passages of glorious melodic rock. Kim has a unique dispassionate style with very little vibrato, and she is joined by Rob's wonderful warm vocals that owe something to Justin Hayward and one of my favorite singers, John Mitchel. After the powerful prog opener 'Corridors' the songs fall into three very loose categories, melodic prog songs 'Horizons' and 'Half Moon', heavy rockers 'These Walls' and 'Throw Them to the Sky', and the three multi-part epics. These are 'When Shadows Fall', which is the sequel to 'Shadow' off their debut album, the title track 'The City Sleeps' which is the sequel to 'Wintercoast' off their last, with narration by actress Anna-Marie Wayne, daughter of Jeff Wayne (of War of the Worlds fame), and the eccentric 'Good Boy Psycho'. The real highlight is the wonderful and very commercial ballad 'Sleeping Giants' which could get massive radio play. There is so much music it can be bewildering at first, it takes a few listens for it all to bed down. However, I do feel they over complicate sometimes, 'When Shadows Fall' has some fantastic parts that I would have preferred to have been built into individual songs so that they shone in isolation. Musicianship from all the band is a real tour de force, but without any aimless noodling, including loads of ripping guitar work by Adam and soaring synths from Rob, all immaculately produced. Prog fans will of course absolutely adore this album, but there is plenty here for melodic and heavy rock fans to love as well, so it's an album with real crossover potential. Their city never sleeps at at this location, a highly recommended 9/10 (Phil)