Archive for progressive metal

Iced Earth / Dystopia

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 3000000010-04:00 12 by marky7235

DystopiaDystopia is the tenth studio album from American heavy metal band Iced Earth. Released on October 17th, 2011, it’s the bands first album with new vocalist Stu Block, after former vocalist Matt Barlow left the band for a second time on August 6th, 2011.[2] While not a concept album, many of the albums songs are inspired by dystopian themes and movies, such as V for Vendetta, Dark City, Soylent Green, and Equilibrium.[3] Two of the albums songs (“Dystopia” and “Tragedy and Triumph”) also feature the return of the “Something Wicked” -storyline from previous albums Something Wicked This Way Comes, Overture of the Wicked, Framing Armageddon and The Crucible of Man.

The Analysis:

Dystopia—-True to form and progressive from the very first notes of the song, this is classic Iced Earth. The tempo of the music leaves you on the edge of your seat as you await the entrance of the vocal over the overblown guitar work. Once the vocal enters the track you are left with a huge warm feeling…like coming home after being gone for a very long time…this is an excellent beginning to what is sure to be an epic journey!!!!

Anthem—-Does this guy remind you of classic Hetfield at times or what??? The screams are exquisite…but the clean vocal is just classic heavy metal!!! The onset of this is incredible…there is a slight doom filled aura to the track…while still remaining magically progressive….leaving you thirsty. When the song finally opens up, it is huge…beyond belief. I still think of classic Metallica every time I listen to this release….this is dark…but magically bright…progressive Metal is alive and well!!!

Boiling Point—-Right out of the gate, the progressive speed is overwhelming. You could not ask for more effort from this classic and long-standing band…when the vocal reaches the fever pitch you know that Iced Earth is right back where it belongs…this is incredible…..Ripper who? This is both brutal and beautiful…a classic masterpiece that already has becoming one of my favorites!!!

V—-Beginning a bit calmer, there is no lack of intensity to be found however. The darkness that the band manages to transpose is a new thing for me…I love this new direction…the production on this release is so fantastic…you can hear every single note of every single instrument that is playing. The vocal overdubs or the backdrop vocals add so much to the song…it becomes a huge marching anthem that sticks in your brain and refuses to leave you alone. This is magnificent…a huge release…hoping this elevates the band to a new level here in the US!!!

Anguish Of Youth—-With a nice acoustic introduction, the song is ushered in by a really nice vocal delivery. This is fantastic….the waves that are produced by the instrumentation makes me smile even though the song is pretty dark. The track does open up and is a huge song by the time it all comes to an end…again making me think of where metallica should be right now…this is moody and full of emotional sweeps….just what the Dr. ordered!

Dark City—-Right from the onset, this has a really nice tone to the song….the leads are incredible. The vocal changes shape and delivers a shock to the system…the range is incredible…alternating between a deep mellow delivery to a pitched scream that would make and Metal singer green with envy. This is incredible…another really favorite track of mine from this release…this is a no brainer….CLASSIC!!!! Freakin’ huge riffs……:)

Equilibrium—-Delivered from the onset with a classic driving riff, I can only imagine how a song like this will play live and set a stadium on fire. the vocal is still classic Hetfield/Mustaine…..delivering up the concrete evidence that Metal is alive and well in 2011. This is just fantastic….I guess I’m slow…I have been hit and miss with this band, but maybe it is time for me to pay closer attention…..I freakin’ love this CD!!!

Days Of Rage—-Full of speed and energy, this makes me think of classic stuff from the mid 80’s. Less orchestrated than the past and full of straight up Metal, I can not call this release progressive…this is Metal at its finest and is not to be denied. In fact, this track has a bit of a thrash/anger edge to it that just made me smile…this is incredible!

End Of Innocence—-Fail….really not a favorite of mine, although the track does open up a bit…this is way to predictable to find favor with me.

Tragedy And Triumph—-Clocking in at an impressive almost 7 minutes, you would expect nothing less than a huge epic intro to end this phenomenal release. This is brilliant…delivered with an incredible marching drum beat and a guitar delivery that just builds layer upon layer…leaving you as the intro to the CD began……drooling for the vocal that closes the deal. the song has some really great mood changes….taking you on a pretty wide-ranging journey…the end result is a CD that just lays the groundwork for the future with this new vocalist and direction…can’t wait for more…..hurry guys!!!

**** 1/2 out of 5

Iron Maiden / Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 1700000011-04:00 12 by marky7235

Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son

Seventh Son of a Seventh Son is a studio album by heavy metal band Iron Maiden, released in 1988 as the band’s seventh studio album on EMI in Europe and its sister label Capitol Records in the US (it was re-released by Sanctuary/Columbia Records in the US in 2002). It is the second Iron Maiden album ever to have keyboards which is played by Michael Kenney. Along with The Number of the Beast and later Fear of the Dark and The Final Frontier the album charted no.1 on the UK charts.

Seventh Son of a Seventh Son was the last Iron Maiden album to feature guitarist Adrian Smith until the album Brave New World in 2000 (he did write a song that Bruce Dickinson finished for the next album, No Prayer for the Dying, titled “Hooks in You”, a loose tie-in to the Charlotte the Harlot saga).

“The Clairvoyant” was the first song written for the album. According to Steve Harris, the song’s lyrics were inspired by the death of psychic Doris Stokes, saying “if she were really clairvoyant, if she were really able to see the future, wouldn’t she have been able to foresee her own death?”

At least five of the album’s songs (“Moonchild”, “Infinite Dreams”, “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son”, “The Prophecy” and “The Clairvoyant”) can be directly related to a main lyrical storyline inspired by the folklore concept.

Lyrically, the album centers around some main philosophical ideas: good vs. evil, mysticism, prophetic vision, reincarnation and afterlife. Almost all the album includes direct or indirect references to questions regarding to these concepts and poetically refers the answers.

Stylistically, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son develops the sounds first heard on Somewhere in Time (1986), and continues the band’s lyrical exploration of topics related to mysticism, power, and the occult.

The album debuted at #1 in UK charts (their first since The Number of the Beast) as well as #12 in the U.S, while the singles “Can I Play with Madness“, “The Evil That Men Do“, “The Clairvoyant (live)” and “Infinite Dreams (live)” reached #3, #5, #6 and #6 positions, respectively. Of all the songs in the album, “The Evil That Men Do”, “The Clairvoyant” and “Can I Play with Madness” remained on the set lists of nearly all of the band’s concert tours subsequently following the 7th Tour of a 7th Tour.

The Analysis:

Moonchild—-This is really one of the last releases where I can remember Bruce delivering stellar vocals in a less than forced manner. The keyboards included on this release was a surprise to many long time fans…but rest assured, they take nothing away from the trademark Harris metal sound. This song…even though it takes a bit to really get started, once it does, delivers classic Maiden sounds and a stellar vocal!!!

Infinite Dreams—-I have a special 12 inch pressing of this single with laser etched autographs on the b-side of the disc….another of those prized possessions of mine. From the very first notes of the song, you are able to easily recognize the Maiden sound…this is an incredible track…full of emotion, musical movements and a tremendous galloping bass from Harris..this was the beginning of the end for this era Maiden, but we have this as a result. Incredible and still sounding fresh all of these years later.

Can I Play With Madness—-Still a trademark of the live Maiden experience, this has always been a favorite track of mine. I love the mood of the song, the energy and the remarkable inferences. Bruce delivers a vocal that shines from beginning to end and Harris layers the song with equal parts of Keys and Bass…and as always…the drums are fantastic!!!

The Evil That Men Do—-This is another of those tracks that stayed in the live Maiden set for many years…this is typical, predictable and freakin’ delicious for fans and new comers as well. Beginning with that slow introduction that only serves to amp up your energy level as you wait for everything to let loose, this becomes a trademark Maiden classic by the second bar. Dickinson delivers a bit of an odd vocal at times, but his clarity and tone are remarkable. Although this has never been a huge favorite of mine, listening back i realize what a great track this is.

Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son—-The cornerstone of this release, this is another of those songs I NEVER get tired of listening to. With a nice dose of synth and guitars, this is another track that has a bit of something for everyone. The ever-present bass line is incredible…setting the mood of the song and allowing you without a doubt to know this band even before Bruce opens his mouth. This is a huge and epic sounding track…delivered with passion and energy…full of manic mood swings and an energy that causes you to back up the damn thing and listen to it a few more times in a row…classic stuff!!!

The Prophecy—-Beginning much like everything else on this release…with a moody guitar line and a bit too much atmosphere. It takes a bit for this track to get started, but when the bass heavy mechanics really kick in, the vocal is right behind and the epic sound ensues. this is nice, but falls a bit flat for me…even though i really like the evil references and the double tracked vocal…a bit of something new. This is nice!

The Clairvoyant—-Harris begins the track in his typical ego-centric manner and the song seems to build around his heavy bass delivery. The remarkable thing about this song for me is the wonderful melody that lies underneath the whole damn thing. This is stellar…delivering a huge drum track…a great vocal and some remarkable lead guitars that for once are allowed to rise above the bass. Nice…I have missed this track!

Only The Good Die Young—-Beginning rather melodic and less bass heavy right from the onset, Bruce delivers a vocal that at times seems to be dipped and steeped in an evil menace. This is full of all kinds of dark references and some remarkable vocal harmonies courtesy of Adrian Smith…this is classic stuff….still after all of the passing of time…one of my favorite Maiden releases!!!

****1/2 out of 5

Firewind / Days Of Defiance

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on 500000011-04:00 12 by marky7235

Days of Defiance

Firewind is a Greek heavy metal band. Formed in 1998, the group is currently signed to Century Media Records and was originally a small project created by guitarist, Gus G. to showcase his demo, Nocturnal Symphony in 1998. Firewind later became a full band over three years later when they recorded their debut album, Between Heaven and Hell. To date, the band has released six studio albums and has been met with international success.

The Analysis:

The Ark Of Lies—-Beginning with a nice background hum and classic progressive acoustic intro guitar, you hope for the best. You will not be disappointed as both the guitars and drums smack you at the same time…followed by a classic 80’s style Metal vocal that brings a smile to my face. This is aggressive, yet remains pretty accessible.

World On Fire—-With no pretense or artificial build-up, the guitars come out at a pretty break neck speed on this one. as usual with so many bands like this, the guitars quiet a bit too much to allow for the entrance of the vocal, but that is a minor flaw. the lyrics are typical Progressive Metal…with odd tales and vivid imagery…a slight viking feel and huge drums. This is very nice. For once, the vocal does not disappoint me.

Chariot—-Aggressive but surprisingly predictable by the 3rd song, this track manages to stay a bit fresh with some variance in the vocal delivery. There are some nice overlays, and the chorus is this huge affair that has the ability to stick in your brain..even as you move on to the next predictable track.

Embrace The Sun—-The first ‘released’ song from this CD, the music has a much more epic and grandiose sound…the drums are huge. The vocal again causes the instrumentation to tone down a bit, but the whole band joining in on the vocals gives this a nice big sound. this again has a pretty damn magical chorus…grabbing your brain and holding on for dear life. This is excellent!

The Departure—-At the onset, this is rather nice…beginning with lots of atmosphere and some nice electronic [?] blips and beeps. The build-up is really nice…when the guitars hit full throttle, you are swept up in the majesty of it all. I love the melody line that the leads deliver as the song morphs into…

Heading For the Dawn—-For once, the music manages to stay strong and at a constant volume even as the vocal enters. This guy is a pretty great vocalist…reminding me of all the great prog-rock bands that capture my attention from time to time. This is stellar…soon to be a classic in my book, I’ll be listening to this one for a while.

Broken—-Delivering the requisite ballad that most of these bands feel compelled to deliver, the chorus enters the song and really smacks you with a huge, contagious lyric and an irresistible melody. This is pretty fresh…even though it is expected and fairly rote.

Cold As Ice—-Beginning rather somber, this opens up into a really nice, aggressive track. The vocal has a lot of variance…breaking from the predictable delivery. This has a nice moody delivery…switching from aggression to a slight ballad style at the drop of a dime. This is nice, but by no means the best of what this release has to offer.

Kill In the Name Of Love—-By now, I have become a bit bored with the predictability of this release. The variance from song to song is minimal and there are about 5 songs too many on this CD. I hoped for a much more aggressive delivery from this track based on the song title, but it is pretty rote and same old same old delivery.

SKG—-With a surprisingly dark intro, the lead guitar comes out of the deep and delivers a crisp and fresh feel to a by now almost boring release. The drums join in at a break neck speed and make the hairs on my arms stand up for a few moments. the bass guitar is deep and dark, but never looses the melody that the lead began in the opening moments of the song. This is a fantastic instrumental and one of the highlights of this entire release. Just killer!!!

Losing Faith—-Again, delivering a pretty contagious brand of Progressive Metal, this is nice but looses momentum when the vocal enters. The voice manages to hit some pretty nice notes on this track…sounding better than I have heard Bruce Dickinson sound in years. This just shows…the Greeks are doing it…and doing it big!

The Yearning—-Coming out at you with a bass heavy aggression and some pretty huge drums, this quickly gives way to the predictable soaring leads from Gus. the voice is powerful on this track…full of driving urgency and a nice histrionic delivery. The strain is a bit obvious with certain notes, but overall this guy proves he can sing with the best of the Melodic and Progressive bands out there.

When All Is Said And Done—-With a nice ‘double sound’, this begins almost like two songs at once! It seems to dissolve into a ballad like delivery and the surprising act of actually pushing the vocals back a bit and allowing the music to remain in the forefront. The drums are just incredible…pushed to the very front of the mix, they are the star of this song and they deserve the spotlight. This is pretty great and a nice end to this much too long of a release.

**** out of 5

Kamelot / Poetry For The Poisoned

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 800000010-04:00 12 by marky7235

Poetry for the Poisoned

Kamelot is an American power metal[1] band from Tampa, Florida. The band was formed by Thomas Youngblood and Richard Warner in 1991. Norwegian vocalist Roy Khan joined for the album Siége Perilous, and has shared song-writing duties with Youngblood since.

As of 2010, Kamelot has released nine studio albums, two live albums, one live DVD, seven music videos and a reissue of Ghost Opera that includes an additional disc with ten live recordings and four bonus tracks. Their most current studio album is Poetry for the Poisoned, which was released in September 2010.

The Analysis:

The Great Pandemonium—-Beginning rather sedate, it is not long before the song erupts into a nice huge track…full of orchestrated pomposity. The vocal is a nice mix…at times delivering a nice deep sound that reminds you of Norway…at other times soaring over the instruments…reminding you that this is progressive and full of power. A bit pretentious, this song is pretty overblown…but we will see what the rest of the release has to offer.

If Tomorrow Came—-Right out of the gate, this is more powerful and full in sound. The vocal is still a bit odd for me…sometimes so overblown I’m not sure whether to take it seriously or not. I keep waiting for these songs to take a full shape, but it never seems to really happen. I like the vocal, but the stop and start of the musical delivery interrupts whatever mood is beginning to take shape. This is a bit too progressive for me?

Dear Editor—-This quick one minute track offers little new…heavy on pretention and short on form, this is just a precursor to…..

The Zodiac—-This track begins huge….the orchestration is huge and audacious but just as quickly disappears and allows for a whispered vocal that is more experimental than the most complicated Queensryche. the chorus is a nice affair, but the band never reaches down for its true metal sidfes…this is so flat for me…I remain very disappointed.

Hunter’s Season—-Again, the song begins with huge promise…delivering some great Power metal chords…but everything falls away for the overblown vocal that is flat all of the way through the track. Where is the emotion and the power. The music is the one bright spot on this track…the drums are fantastic…but the song is just flat all the way through…the band pays way too much attention to the concept and almost ignore the musical aspect of the record. What a disappointment.

House On A Hill—-The vocal begins the track and the range is the same as always…an almost monotone delivery that leaves me empty and without emotion. I love the addition of the female vocal…at least it gives the sound some actual real emotion and range. The harmonies are nice, but this vocalist is so limited in his range…this band could be so much better with someone else delivering the vox.

Necropolis—-Showing great promise at the onset, this is full of huge sweeping Metal orchestration that as usual falls away to allow for the incredibly weak and uninspired vocal. This for me is terrible….the only bright spot is when the voice really tries to reach for some vocal emotion…this is the most aggressive the band has sounded the entire release and this is only sub par at best. Really not a fan at this point.

My Train Of Thoughts—-Ugh….this is the worst of the lot so far…the vocal is delivered in an almost monotone manner that conveys no emotion of drive. The music kicks up a notch, but the voice stays at the same comfortable level…for me, the vocalist of this band is holding them back from greatness…this band could be huge with a more varied vocalist. this is just a waste of a CD!

Seal Of Woven Years—-Pretension is wonderful if it has a purpose….for me, this has no purpose. I fail to grasp any kind of concept. there is no emotion in the vocal…the only bright spot is he well executed music on this release. The words are empty and the vocal is flat and never goes anywhere. The music on this track is huge…the overblown orchestration made me smile for a moment before it all fell away for a vocal that sounds uninspired and directionless.

Poetry For The Poisoned: Incubus—-A nice drum intro and some huge orchestration gives me hope, but it all falls away for the vocal. That would not be a bad thing…if the vocal was any good. This does have a nice melody line…but it stops there.

Poetry For The Poisoned: So Long—-As the suite of songs continue, it gets no better. If you though Geoff Tate could be overblown, this guy holds a whole other candle…this sucks!!! Only the added female vocal saves this song from the trash.

Poetry For The Poisoned: All Is Over/Dissection—-Again, the intro of the song shows this huge promise…but everything is reigned in because of the limited vocal range of the vocalist. The female vocalist that is featured on this is fantastic…and when the two voices come together there is a shining moment of light…but it is fleeting and momentary.

Once Upon A Time—-Delivering some pretty magnificent Power Guitar at the onset of the song, the vocal enters and brings everything down a notch…leaving you so empty it is almost impossible to focus on the stellar musicianship that is on the release. That is too bad…this is a great band….but the vocal ties them to a sound where they can not really shine. The melody that runs through this track is pretty great, but the vocal can’t deliver the power that is required.

** out of 5

Dragonforce / Twilight Dementia

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 160000009-04:00 12 by marky7235

Twilight Dementia (Live) (2CD)DragonForce is an English power metal band from London, formed in 1999. They are known for fast guitar solos, fantasy based lyrics, and electronic sounds in their music to add to their retro video game-influenced sound.

Herman Li stated that DragonForce would stop touring in December, spend time at home for Christmas, and then begin writing and recording a new studio album scheduled to be released in 2011.[9]

On February 22, 2010, the band re-released their first two albums, “Valley of the Damned” and “Sonic Firestorm.” Valley of the Damned included newly remixed and remastered tracks while both albums included bonus tracks, updated packaging and DVDs featuring live footage, commentary, and more. Both albums were also released in a box set which featured a t-shirt, a card of guitar picks, and an inflatable guitar.

On March 8, 2010, it was announced via Roadrunner that DragonForce had parted ways with vocalist ZP Theart and would now be seeking a new frontman.[10] Herman Li stated:

It is with great regret that DragonForce announce a parting of the ways with singer ZP Theart. This is due to insurmountable differences of musical opinion but the rest of the band sincerely wishes ZP great success with his future projects.While the creative core members have begun writing the fifth album, they have also started a worldwide search for a new vocalist. We are looking for a powerful, melodic singer to write a new chapter of DragonForce with us.

This story was removed the same day, but officially confirmed by the band a day later in a press statement that also contained a link to request an audition.[11]

The band will release their first live album on September 13, 2010 in Europe and September 14, 2010 for US and Canada. It will be a double-disc set entitled Twilight Dementia. The album art, title, and release date were revealed on the band’s official website on June 22, 2010. The performances were recorded on the final leg of the Ultra Beatdown World Tour.[12] Regarding the album, guitarist Herman Li stated:[12]

For years, fans have been asking us to record a live album, but honestly, we never really had the time due to our worldwide touring commitments and studio album recording. However, due to the overwhelmingly positive feedback from fans on the ‘Ultra Beatdown World Tour’, we decided to finally put some real thought into it…These recordings really capture the raw sonic energy of a Dragonforce show in fine detail. It is so real that you can hear the noise of the crowd and experience the show as it was that night – you can even hear the guitar pedals being stepped on!

The Analysis: Disc One

Heroes Of Our Time—-This is as surprise for me from the onset…I was not really sure that this band with the huge sound could actually transport this sound to the stage….never underextimate! This is full of that classic trademark sound that the band has had on every release…the leads are huge…the drums are incredible and really mixed well. The vocal is as great as it is on record…although a few of the high notes seem to me abandoned for a deeper sound…none the less, this is full of energy and masterful musicianship. The crowd just eats this band alive.

Operation Ground And Pound—-Wasting no time for in between song banter, this song leads right in with remarkable guitar and energy. This is brilliant musicianship in this band…I am floored everytime I revisit this band at how fast they are able to play. This is incredible……the drums are outstanding and the sound in incredibly huge. The vocal still seems a bit flat for me…the energy lacks a bit and the remarkable high notes that you get from the studio are almost absent…none the less, this is a huge epic sound that brings a smile to my face…if only for the remarkable energy. There are some pretty nice screams towards the end of this track though!!!

Reasons To Live—-With a nice announcement about the recording of a live CD, the crowd reacts with literal mayhem. It seems that as the show goes on, ZP warms up a bit and his vocal becomes more fluid than the first few songs. This is magnificent…full of that classic Force sound…a slight large keyboard sound and the incredible guitar of Li….this is a standout track…I feel like ZP had his heart in this track much more. This is stellar.

Fury Of The Storm—-This is stellar as well…the energy is incredible and at the onset, ZP delivers a scream that will blast your eardrums…this is the sound of a vocalist who has really warmed up…finally. The speed of this song is literally insane…the lyrics come at you so fast you could not keep up even with a lyric sheet. It is incredible to imagine someone playing this fast….JEEZ!!! This is really a standout track for me…even though it goes back in time a bit, it still carries a huge current sound and the vocal is magnificent!!!

Fields Of Despair—-Leaving barely a second to catch your breath, the band launches into this song with little fanfare. This is a typical huge and epic track from one of the earlier releases, although much of Dragonforce material just sounds like one long song!!! ZP seems really warmed up as he hits note after note right on cue. The drums on the track are massive…they are the star of the show for me. This is full of nice vivid lyrical imagery of mystical ideas and wofds….but the standout is the band…a new vocalist will come, but the sound is the bands own and it will continue on.

Starfire—-Personally, I love this song…..with a really nice keyboard intro, the song takes form rather slowly….allowing the audience to soak it all in. ZP comes across sounding remarkably like Meatloaf….whisch should not be a huge surprise…this kind of huge epic sound is right up his alley. When the song reaches its full pinnacle, you are sucked in by the vivid lyrics and the gentle sounds coming from a band that normally plays at hyper speed. This is just phenomenal!!!

Soldiers Of The Wasteland—-This epic 10 minute track includes every bit of grandeur that the band is capable of. This is incredible….the energy is remarkable…the speed of the music is stellar and the vocal, by now warmed up, is better than the recorded version. this is full of audience hype and some screams from ZP that will leave your ears ringing for a few moments. This is just incredible…a full on regalia of spectacular musicianship. I could never ask for more…this has guitar solos, drum solos and a vocal to die for.

Disc Two:

My Spirit Will Go On—-Perhaps I have more sentimental bones in my body than I would care to mention, but this remains my favorite track from this band. Indeed when the time comes for me to pass, this remains my only wish…that my spirit will go on. This is huge…overblown and magnificent. I love every single note of this song…this is full of the kind of Metal that bands just do not make anymore…and the vocal is pretty damn magnificent. There is nothing about this I would change…this is damn near perfect.

Where Dragons Rule—-With a nice keyboard intro and a humorous demand ….”If you have hands, put em’ up…” the song is full of nice musical movements that fit perfectly into the bands MO…full of the slight build-up and the eventual all hell breaking loose mentality, this is stellar. The vocal is fantastic….ZP sounds so much better than he did at the beginning of this release…the vocal is clearer and more pitch perfect than imaginable. this is a stellar track….one of my favorites from this live release.

The Last Journey Home—-This is the typical sing-a-long concert song that many bands have abandoned these days. Not these guys…this becomes a remarkably huge track that is full of audience participation and some incredible guitar playing. ZP sounds incredible…hitting his notes with ease and Li delivers a guitar that will leave you with your jaw hanging. This is remarkable…I love the old school sing-a-long shit that you have to find at 80’s Metal revival shows…this has a hook as well…the melody that runs underneath the whole damn thing is so addictive you will have it in your brain for freakin’ days…just what I needed!!!!

 Valley Of The Damned—-Going back to the very beginnings of the band’s recording career, I was a bit surprised to see that this track was on here. What makes this song so great is that the vocal is so spot on….finally. this is incredible…taking you back 5 years to when i first discovered this band and was blown away by not only the speed of the playing but the remarkable melody that they captured in the process. This is a stellar preformance…the vocal is just fantastic….leaving me completely breathless by the time everything is over. Fantastic!!!

Encore One:

Strike Of The Ninja—-Keyboard heavy and full of that classic never tiring Dragonforce sound, the band returns with this track that leaves you wondering how the hell the band has managed to hold up under all of this speed playing. This has a hook that is unforgettable…this melody will settle in your brain and wake you from a sound sleep in the middle of the night…this is just remarkable…a full on anthem that is delivered with expertise and precision.

Encore Two:

Between The Fire And The Flames—-Saving the band’s biggest hit for the very end, the band delivers it in full, fine form and more. The crowd has been waiting for this and they respond in the predictable fashion…with utter joy and madness…peppered with incredible enthusiasm. This is as large as it is on record…the band refuses to let the crowd down…..when the track finally opens up to its full glory, you are blown away…the crowd sings along with every single verse and the result is something that deserves to be on record…this is freakin fantastic…I could not think of a better way to end this pretty phenomenal show. Looking forward to the next chapter!!!

****3/4 out of 5

Blind Guardian / At The Edge Of Time [Deluxe Edition]

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 130000009-04:00 12 by marky7235

At The Edge Of Time (Deluxe Version)

Blind Guardian are a German heavy metal band formed in the mid-1980s in Krefeld, West Germany.[1] They are often credited as one of the seminal and most influential bands in the power metal and speed metal subgenres,[2] [3] Blind Guardian is a part of the German heavy metal scene that emerged in the mid-1980’s.

The band’s lyrics, written by vocalist Hansi Kürsch, are inspired by the fiction of fantasy authors such as J. R. Tolkien, Stephen King, and Michael Moorcock, as well as traditional legends and epics[4]. Over the years, a running theme has developed associating the band members with travelling bands.

At the Edge of Time is the ninth studio album by the German power metal band Blind Guardian. A two CD version of the album was released, with the second disc containing 8 tracks. The artwork for the album was created by Colombian artist Felipe Machado Franco.[2] The album was released in Europe on July 30, 2010. A music video for “A Voice in the Dark” was released on August 3, 2010.

The Analysis:

Sacred Worlds—-Beginning in typical Guardian fashion, this release is nothing less than consistent with the sound the band has perfected over the years of its existence. This is like a night at the symphony as the song begins with all of this fancy orchestration….this epic 9 minute track takes some time to get started, but slowly metal sounds are introduced among all of the grand instrumentation…the vocal is as you would expect…gentle and moody upon the onset. This is nothing less than grand mood music….sounding better than Nightwish has sounded in quite sometime. the vocal has some nice high points…the guitars take over the orchestration even as it runs through the underbelly of the song. This is huge, overblown and pretentious…just as we would expect!!! Wonderful.

Tanelorn [Into the Void]—-With little time for pretense, this kicks into high gear from the first note…delivering a spectacular blend of European Power Metal that is always nice to hear from time to time. The vocal hits some nice high spots…although the range is not what i had hoped for at this time. The swells and movements allow the story to tell a story…really not what I am into really…this is a classic Tolkien inspired tale of mysticism and mood. Nice though!

Road Of No Release—-Beginning with a gentle piano and some nice marching style drums, the song bursts open by the second bar and becomes this typical huge overblown atmospheric piece of power Metal. The vocal just falls flat on this release for me a bit…where is the soar and the screech? This is typical and predictable…my only complaint.

Ride Into Obsession—-This is nice speedy guitar that almost makes me think of Dragonforce! the gang style vocals on the chorus gives the song a much fresher feel to it…the drums are incredible and the end result is truly a favorite of mine from this release. This is much more what I expected.

Valkyries—-Returning to a much more atmospheric sound…full of rainstorms and falling drops. This is layered with a gentle guitar that slowly comes to life as the song develops. This is classic German Progressive Metal…full of overblown segues and vocals full of expressive and mysterious lyrics. But…it all sounds the same…..

Control The Divine—-This is more aggressive than I anticipated…full of drums that lead the entire pace of the song. I think the vocal sounds tired and overused…but when the whole band joins in on the chorus, it elevates the song to an entirely new place…delivering the kind of power sounds that you know this long-standing German import is capable of. This is a pretty damn great track!!!

War Of The Thrones [Piano Version]—-This is pretentious and overblown….lasting a bit too long and full of atmospheric musical movements and lyrics that are way over my head. I never really got into all of the mystical stuff…I just prefer my Metal hard and heavy. This song DOES have a really great melody line that runs through the entire thing and the best moments are when you are presented with a sea of voices rather than a solitary one.

A Voice In the Dark—-Returning to a much more forceful and aggressive musical delivery, this is much more my style. The guitars come at you in huge blasts that are so speedy you wonder how the vocalist manages to keep up with the pace of the song. there are a lot of words all shoved into one line that’s for sure. This falls flat a bit for me vocally…I was expecting so much more…but the band is incredible on this song. This is magnificent and tastefully overblown.

Wheel Of Time—-Falling back into pretentious mode, the intro to this song is full of cello and strings, the band slowly entering in and playing along with the orchestra. The vocal is almost buried underneath all of the musical sounds, but overall this is pretty much consistent with the rest of the release. Overblown and lackluster with huge shiny moments that don’t happen often enough.

Sacred Worlds [Extended “Sacred” Version]—-Although this differs a bit from the original, it is still full of that classic pretention that this band is so well-known for. The guitars kick in right away…doing away with all of the orchestrated build-up and instead diving right into the Metal. This sounds a bit more aggressive to me…until the vocal enters and all of the music comes almost to a standstill…two versions of this are really not necessary.

Wheel Of Time [Orchestral Version]—-Overblown and unecessary….this is just a bit to much symphonic ministration for me….

You’re The Voice [Radio Edit]—-This is a bit different and unexpected. the song begins and includes some interesting electronic sounds that are completely foreign and unexpected. the vocal falls flat for me once again…sounding like an extremely tired Meatloaf. The high point of the song is the chorus…when the whole band harmonizes perfectly and gives the song the balls that it needs.

Tanelorn [Into The Void] [Demo]—-Much more aggressive and organic than the pressed version, this is the sound of the band jamming without all of the pretention. the vocal is actually something that I have been craving for the entire release…this should have been the released version…this contains a nice sense of urgency and raw appeal that the finished product failed to capture…this is fantastic!

Curse My Name [Demo]—-The Spanish style guitar intro to this song is so sharp and clear I am in awe. The vocal has a nice accent that plays around the edge…reminding you of the descent of this band. this is another ‘demo’ that is much better than the pressed copy. I’m not sure why the band felt the need to fine polish everything…this is a much better result for me. I love this!

A Voice In The Dark [Demo]—-This lead off single from this release is so much more aggressive in its ‘demo’ form than the polished released version. I find an instant smile on my face upon hearing this in this incarnation. The band needs to concentrate more on its Metal edge and less on polish with future releases. This is fantastic!

***3/4 out of 5

Stratovarius/Infinite: Special Edition

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 260000007-04:00 12 by marky7235

Infinite:Special EditionStratovarius is a Finnish power metal band that formed in 1984. Their material contains elements of power metal and symphonic metal. To this day the band has sold over 2.5 million records worldwide. They have been since the 80’s, alongside with Helloween & Blind Guardian, one of the pioneers and most influential bands of power metal.

Please be aware that for unknown reasons, the track listing on this release is incorrect from the previous released record. I have tried to be as accurate as possible… apologies.

Hunting High And Low—-Delivered in classic Power metal style, the melody lines from the instruments are just as powwrful as the vocal. The vocal…literally soars above everything that is going on. when the chorus kicks in and the entire band joins in on the vocal, you will be amazed. This is remarkable…one of the best bands in this genre, the life of the band is a testament to the grand and spectacular music they make.

Why Are We Here—-Beginning with wonderfully comfortable 80’s hair metal power chords, the guitars at times literally soar. When the vocal enters you smile at the slight accent and revel in the clarity as you catch almost every single word. This is wonderful…this is progressive, exploratory and delivered with a remarkable emotion. When the vocalist reaches for the sky with his vocal the song shows its best side. This is phenomenal…fucked up track listing or not. I am loving this!!!

It’s A Mystery—-With little musical introduction, the vocal begins almost immediatly….delivering some wicked, soaring vocals that bring a huge smile to my face. this is freakin’ brilliant…the progressive nature of the music allows for the vocal to shine without losing any of the power of the band. This is fantastic….a new favorite band of mine.

Millenium—-Beginning with a really fantastic drum track, this song moves at a pretty amazing speed compared to most of the stuff heard thus far. This is aggressive without crossing over into the unknown! The vocal is crystal clear and literally soars. When the whole band joins in on the chorus, you are magically swept up in the excitement and the energy. I really love this…when the vocalist hits that scream…wow!!!

Mother Gaia—-Piano based and delivered in classic Power Metal ballad style, this is a bit flat for me. Waiting and waiting for the chorus seems to take a lifetime…the guitar interludes are nice, but give me some reall power chords already! When the music moves into that HUGE ballad mode and the vocal becomes louder and higher you are moved…but this disappears and you wonder where this is going. This is ok, but not a favorite.

Neon Light Child—–Beginning rather slow and a bit intense, the slong is slow to really get started. I still smile at the slight vocal accent that shines through on certain words. This is really sedate and cerebrel…not to say that it is bad, but I need a bit more energy than I am getting right now….next…..

Hunting High And Low—-Not really sure why this song is included twice on this release…this version is not much different from the original..perhaps a bit extended. It is nice to hear it again…I just don’t get it? Am I missing something????

Phoenix—-This begins huge…..just what I really needed at this point. The guitars are masterful…delivered with speen and intricate manipulations that are inspiring. The vocal is much the same…exactly as we expect. this has great energy, an exceptional drum track and some remarkable leads…heaven.

Glory Of the World—-The way this guy moves his fingers across his guitar must be incredible to watch! the speen and the intricate playing is magnificent. The vocal, once again, is stellar…you could not ask for more range or claruty. When the whole band joins in the songs only become larger and more grounded. the instrumental intertludes are literally amazing. This is stellar!

Millenium—-Another repeat track….as I shake my head in dismay and confusion. This is about 4 seconds longer than the original and seems to have all of the life sucked from it…perhaps this is a demo version. This is a huge disappointment.

A Million Light Years Away—-This is great….the problem is that it all begins to sound remarkably the same after a bit. I love the mid range vocal that is delivered…this is when the vocalist is at his clearest. The power chords are magnificent and when the whole band joins in on the chorus…it really comes together for me.

Phoenix—-Another repeat track that is only about a minute longer than the origianl…most of that being an extended intro and more instrumental moments…..I’m thinking this is kind of messed up! Livethis is nice, but the studio energy remains about the same for me.

Freedom—-This has huge grand orchestrated sounding guitars that are topped off my an incredible drum track…the vocal enters with an energy that almost wipes out all of the negative comments about the lackluster track listing and repeat tracks. This is huge, monumental and literally breath taking. I could never, ever, ever ask for more. When that high vocal note comes in…I almost mess myself!!!!

Infinity—-This live version last an almost amazing 10 minutes….I can tell you that this band sounds amazing live…they manage to reproduce the intricate sound of the band with little problem on the big stage…if anuthing, the sound becomes even larger. The build-up to the intro is exceptional….the ballad style delivery works well live and this guy can rally sing…in this setting, there is no faking it. This is the real deal!

Infinity—-???? WTF!!!

Celestial Dream—-Rounding out things with a really nice live version of this super progressive metal ballad, this play so much better live for me. the vocal is much more demonstrative and well delivered…the strings…real or generated add so much to the song in this setting. I like this SOOOOO much better than the studio bersion…this is real and emotional!

**** out of 5

Primal Fear/Live In The USA

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on 80000007-04:00 12 by marky7235

Live in the USAPrimal Fear is a German power metal/heavy metal band formed in 1997 by Ralf Scheepers (Vocals/ExGamma Ray), Mat Sinner (Bass and Vocals/Sinner), Stefan Leibing and Tom Naumann (Guitars). Scheepers formed the band after he was not hired as Rob Halford‘s replacement in Judas Priest, a job for which he was a finalist; the replacement job went to Tim “Ripper” Owens. Their latest album called 16.6 (Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead) was released in 2009 and will be supported with a double-headlining European tour with Brainstorm.

Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead—-This is a nice short intro that allows you to hear the enthusiastic crowd as the energy builds and builds to allow for the band to hit the stage with….

Under the Radar—-The immense power chords that this band produces is always impressive…even more impressive is the great sound of the vocals on this live release. the vocals soar with ease…never admitting a bit of strain or stretch to the vocal chords. the drums are pretty far up in the mix, the guitars are sometimes drowned out. the vocal really reminds me of Michael Sweet from Stryper!!!

Battalions Of Hate—-Melding directly from the previous track, this song is begun with a rather admirable grunt from the vocalist…the vocal comes on sounding like a mad scientist let loose from his lab. This is much deeper in sound and only allows for some nice vocal histrionics by the second bar. this is a group sin-a-long that works great in a live setting. the music is pure progressive metal….the voice is a bit lackluster at times on this track. none the less…this is 100% Primal Fear!

Killbound—-With a huge 80’s Metal sounding intro, this is a crowd pleaser for sure. the sound is awesome…the drums and guitars mixed to an optimum level together. the vocal is back in fine form, soaring and reaching for the sky with ease. This is nice…the energy of both the band and the crowd come together in a crash that transplants to CD very well.

Nuclear Fire—-This, a more updated track with soaring and addictive guitars, blistering drums and a huge crowd response is one of my favorite tracks from the band. this guy could have really done a great job for Priest!!! This has huge energy…bordering on an almost manic delivery. Live, this is even faster and delivered with more energy than the original. sometimes the voice seems a bit tired, but the notes are hit with precision and excellent ability.

Six Times Dead [16.6]—-Taken from the latest release, this track has a masterful almost Maiden sound to the guitars. the vocal is fantastic and you can tell this is still fresh and new for the band…you can feel the enthusiasm. The sing-a-long feeling of the song plays really well in arenas and the crowd does not let the band down. This is energetic, monstrous and played very well.

Angel In Black—-With a huge guitar intro, the drums enter at breakneck speed and the best scream of the disc is heard. This is a monstrous song and played very fast in the live setting. This is magnificent…this is classic 80’s hair metal that reminds you of so many classic bands that are no longer here…but somehow some of them linger on like this one. This is fantastic…one of the best tracks on this disc as far as energy and speed go.

Sign Of Fear—-The intro to this song almost borders on Thrash…the soaring vocal deters you from that realm though. This is the best Halford impression I have ever heard. The notes that this guy can hit is incredible…soaring and falling back down at a second’s notice. This is remarkable..I love this band…simply because there are so few of them left. This vocal must be heard to be believed!!!

Fighting The Darkness—-Full of atmosphere and a fantastic spoken word intro, the beginning strains of the song are sweet and lull you into a daydream before the crash of the guitar startles you and brings you back to life. This is soaring and magnificent…the harmonies on this are literally breathtaking. I freakin’ love this song and would never ask for more from one band. This is a magnus-opus that is literally a cross between alternative Metal and Progressive Metal rolled into a huge masterful track that would send Evanescence running for the hills. Great!!!

Riding The Eagle—-Returning to full on Progressive Guitar Metal, the band has such a trademark sound. The guitars and the drums work together like a huge well oiled machine that allows for the energy to magically transport to CD. The vocal enters, sounding even more like michael Sweet..this is brilliant. The energy and the commitment are incredible…you can’t imagine that there are actually bands making music like this today…still, but there are. Rock on!!!

Final Embrace—-This is filled with huge energetic guitars and drums that seem to bolster the strong vocal even more. this is remarkably energetic and reminds me of the early days of 80’s Glam metal. This is magnificent. I love how well this live show transported to CD…there is rarely a sound flaw…except for the intermittent crowd noises, you would have a great hits collection in your hands. Magnificent.

Metal Is Forever—-Perhaps the cornerstone song of this bands recording career, the sentiment is shouted loud and clear and is believable to those of us who still prefer to rock out. This features everything you could possibly want from a band…the playing is tight as hell…so well executed you wonder if this is real or not. The vocal is a masterpiece that every Metal singer wishes they had ownership of. The sentiment rocks the world from coast to coast and allows Metal to live on. This is exquisite…I could never expect more than this.

Hands Of Time—-This track, from the latest release is not as well received as you would expect. The crowd is a little underwhelmed by the opening strains of the song…the ballad style this late in the show does not really work for the crowd. To me, this is ill placed and should have been included in the early part of the show. I really do not care for this…but one misstep does not form an entire release……..

Chainbreaker—-Ending the show on a very high note, this is another of those songs that the band is pretty well known for. The guitars are fantastically electric and the drums are huge. This is energetic and invigorating and almost erases the previous song from your memory. I love the vocal…crystal clear and soaring like the highest flying bird. This is fantastic!!!

**** out of 5