Midgar – Unity

Unity Album Cover Art

Midgar – Unity
Year Of The Rat Records
Release Date: 18/06/2021
Running Time: 50:52
Review by Beth Jones
10/10

This year has been 7 months of hell so far here at EMHQ. It’s almost as if it saw 2020, and uttered the eternal phrase “Bitch, hold my drink”! But, as always, the one constant for me is music, and the biggest observation of the music on offer this year is just how bloody outstanding it is. Picking my top ten albums of the year is going to be ridiculously difficult – I already have 14 on my list!

Today’s subject has added another name to that list. Midgar are a London based band, whose sound is a grand mix of Progressive Metal, Symphonic Rock/Metal, and Cinematic Rock, driven by piano and strings, with sweeping melodies and vocals. At the helm is main man Andy Wilson-Taylor, and this new album, “Unity” has been his lockdown project, which he wrote, recorded, produced, mixed and mastered at his own studio. And what a project and album he has turned out! Please excuse me while I wax lyrical about it

There are so many facets to the sound of Midgar. At the forefront, as mentioned, are dramatic piano melodies and sweeping strings. But dig deeper and you’ll find elements of Modern Metal and Djent, along with symphonic hooks, progressive rhythms, and use of the double harmonic ‘Arabian’ scale, to add to the drama. There are influences from all corners of music as well. Vocally, and emotively, this album reminds me a lot of Muse, but there are a couple of points where it takes on a more ‘pop’ feel, and conversely, some points which are straight out of Symphonic Black metal and Nu-Metal territory. By day, Andy composes for TV and Film, and that ‘classical soundtrack’ element is the driving force behind the sound.

Now, as many of you know, I’m a sucker for a ballad, and there are some absolute joys on this album, whether it be full tracks, or interludes, with one standing head and shoulders above the rest. More on that later.

The album opens with a short prelude, of piano and strings, with classical orchestration, including dramatic timpani rolls, followed by ‘Ascension’, which starts out in ballad fashion, but rises and grows into a massive Cinematic Rock track. Then, after 3 more crunchy and punchy songs, we get the first proper ballad, ‘Isle Of Glass’. A beautifully gentle piece, it holds some deep and melancholy undertones within its lyrics, that leave you wondering if it’s a love song, or a mournful view of imminent loss.

This dark undertone, lyrically, is seen throughout the album, whether it’s loss, pain, or disaffection. It’s very, very clever because, even though a lot of the songs are in minor keys, their beauty somehow disguises the melancholy which lies beneath.

In contrast to a lot of the album, ‘Nemesis’ brings forth apocalyptic rage. It starts with some huge punchy Blackened Thrash riffs, with screamed vocals, and twists and turns throughout. It does have piano and string sections, but heavy guitars are in the driving seat here. Superb track.

The penultimate, and title track, ‘Unity’, is another laid back, ballad, driven by strings, which lilts along, and brings down the frenetic movement of parts of the album, but builds towards the album finale. And it’s this final track that really puts the icing on this mighty fine cake of an album. ‘Go, Carefully’, for me, is quite possibly one of the most refined and beautiful ballads I have ever heard. It’s a track that speaks of endings, and it really got me in the feels.

I spent a large part of one evening this week, after a particularly terrible day, listening to it on repeat and just sobbing. It’s that emotive. It’s that beautiful. It’s stripped back – just piano, strings, and Andy’s faultless vocals. It’s breathtaking, and an absolute masterclass in how to write a ballad. From the crescendos and diminuendos to slight rallentando at the end of phrases, and perfect pauses creating fleeting moments of silence. Lyrically, it is so beautifully melancholic that it grabbed hold of my soul. This piece alone left me speechless and is now firmly on my list of all time favorite emotive ballads. An absolute genius way to close an album.

Wow. Just…wow. That’s really all I have to say to sum up. I’m blown away by this album. It really has something for everyone in it, and from a musical perspective, displays not only supreme talent and skill, but also a level of passion and depth that is rare.

‘Go, Carefully’ (Official Audio)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Prelude
02. Ascension
03. We Don’t Make The Rules
04. Disciple
05. Sunburn
06. Isle Of Glass
07. Ira Vehementi
08. Nemesis
09. Erebus
10. We Found The Darkness In The Sun
11. Paradise
12. Unity
13. Go, Carefully

LINKS:

Midgar Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Fred Lee & The Restless – Sleepwalking In Daylight

Sleepwalking In Daylight Album Cover Art

Fred Lee & The Restless – Sleepwalking In Daylight
The Sign
Release Date: 11/06/2021
Running Time: 28:48
Review by Beth Jones
8/10

Fred Lee, AKA Fredrik Lindkvist, is best known for his role as frontman of Swedish Punk/Hardcore band Totalt Jävla Mörker, so you would expect some pretty hard-hitting sounds to be popping out of him for his debut solo album, “Sleepwalking In Daylight”. But you’d be very wrong. This album is a jaunt into the world of Folk Rock. And a rather nice one it is too.

Formed in 2019, Fred Lee & The Restless explore the more laid back and from the heart musical expression that at some point comes to us all. I would describe it as music for the world-weary soul. It has a soothing and relatable presence, with lyrical honesty, and melodic catchiness to boot.

I do love a bit of Folk Rock. I was in a folk band for some years and enjoyed the fusion of folk sounds from instruments like the fiddle, mandolin, and banjo, combining with rock guitars and steady rhythmic percussion, alongside vaguely gravelly and ever so slightly off-key vocals. This is what makes the sound so recognizably ‘Folk’. The unpolished nature makes it so much more human.

This album reminds me a lot of The Levellers, whose music formed a large part of my ‘go to’ collection in the late 90’s. The melancholic dystopian view of the world explored through happy melodies is something I’ve always found quite fascinating. The lilting sounds of gypsy-style violin and delicate plinks of the banjo take your mind wandering to a faraway place, sitting on a log in the summer heat, reminiscing of days passed, friends departed, and old memories. A great example of this is the acoustic driven ‘New Sweden’.

There’s nothing overstated about this album either. Whether it is more upbeat, full band numbers, such as ‘I’ve Tried’, or ‘Devil’s Chokehold’, or more laid-back acoustic songs like ‘You Were Anyone, But Not Anywhere…’ and ‘Letter To A Friend’, everything is stripped back and downplayed. This is also another vital key to Folk music. It can be played acoustically and have the same impact as it does plugged up with a full band.

All in all, this is a very pleasing listen. It’s nothing fancy, it does exactly what it says on the tin. But sometimes, that really is all you need. If you’re world-weary, or just want something chilled out to listen to, then you could do a lot worse than this unassuming little album. It’s definitely one I’ll be revisiting often.

‘Devil’s Chokehold’ (Audio)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Who Do You Want To Be?
02. I’ve Tried
03. The Weight On My Shoulders
04. You Were Anyone, But Not Anywhere…
05. New Sweden
06. Devil’s Chokehold
07. Capitalist Market
08. Juliet
09. These Times Are So Fucking Dark
10. Letter To A Friend

LINE-UP:
Fredrick Lindkvist – Songwriting, Instrumentals, Vocals
Emma Sjödin – Guest Vocals
Lars Kyösti (Sekunderna, Sista Brytet) – Guitar
Håkan Olsson – Guitar
Erik Gunnarsson (Epidemics, Dream Warriors, Bottenhavet) – Drums
Johan Philipsson (Royal Downfall) – Bass
Joakim Lindquist (Den Stora Flykten, Popterror) – Keyboards
Hanna Kangassalo (Horseface) – Violin

LINKS:

Fred Lee & The Restless Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Rhapsody Of Fire – I’ll Be Your Hero EP

I'll Be Your Hero EP Cover Art

Rhapsody Of Fire – I’ll Be Your Hero EP
AFM Records
Release Date: 04/06/2021
Running Time: 41:07
Review by Beth Jones
10/10

Good morning my lovely bunch of heathens, rogues, and degenerates. How the hell are you? It feels like an age since I last wrote a review. I mean, it isn’t, but there’s a lot going on here at Ever Metal HQ at the moment, and life is fast becoming the shitty gift that just keeps on giving. The sun is shining today here in the Wales, too. Great. Unless you’re the possessor of true Celtic skin, like me. If that’s the case, in this weather you will, like me, find the plight of the lowly vampire incredibly relatable. Even my eyeballs are sweating. I mean come on! This is Wales! We’re not used to this sort of heat! We’re used to rain, and sheep, and the distant sounds of a male voice choir lilting over the hills. Anyway, the saving grace in amongst all the detritus is, as always, music. And today I have a cracker for you.

Italian Symphonic Power Metal legends, Rhapsody Of Fire, have been bringing their melodic powerhouse of sounds to our ears for a fair while now. And they’re new EP, “I’ll Be Your Hero”, certainly lives up to the epic sounds that we have come to expect from them. It’s the build up to their next album release, and contains their new single and title track, alongside 7 other tracks; the Japan bonus track, ‘Where Dragons Fly’, 2 live recordings, and 4 versions of the same song, ‘The Wind, The Rain And The Moon’, all sung in different languages – the previously released English version, and versions in Italian, Spanish, and French, respectively.

Opening with the title track, this EP bounds in like a runaway freight train. It’s brash, and theatrical, and hugely decadent, but I bloody love it! The vocals of Giacomo Voli are just sublime. He has such a rich tone to his voice, and it blends so well with the other orchestration that’s going on. The melody line of ‘I’ll Be Your Hero’ is also hellishly catchy and will become your earworm in no time at all.

‘Where Dragons Fly’ takes the pace down a little, but still has some dramatic sweeping orchestration in the midsections. Then, in complete contract, a live version of ‘Rain Of Fury’ pummels in like a hammer drill! What a song! Power Metal with speed and precision. Stunning guitar solos, stunning synths and keys, drums that could easily turn your brain into pulp, and, of course, blistering vocals. The drama and theatrics stay right in the mix for ‘The Courage To Forgive’ (live), as well. It’s slower, but everything just has so much passion. And again, some ridiculously brilliant guitar work enters into the affray. It really does make every bit of me feel alive (and that’s no mean feat these days, I can tell you)!

But the star of the EP is ‘The Wind, The Rain and The Moon’. It’s beautiful and melancholic from the start. Even though their genre suggests a huge classical element, Rhapsody Of Fire have really pushed into the realms of pure classical with this song. The orchestral strings that make up the body of the song remind me of Barber’s ‘Adagio For Strings’. Sweeping and soaring, mournful and lilting. Stunningly beautiful. Add into that Giacomo’s perfect Tenor voice, and you have something truly magnificent. Then plant into it a climactic point, where guitars, and gentle drums join, and what you have is, in my opinion, one of the most perfect power ballads I have ever heard. And just to make it even more beautiful, we get to explore it in multiple languages, too. Singing in choirs, as I did back in the day, let me experience singing in multiple languages. My favourite (aside from Welsh) was always Italian, because of its full and rounded vowel sounds, which make it so expressive. Listening to ‘Senza Un Addio’ reconfirmed this for me. Italian really is the music of song. This, however, should take nothing away from the Spanish or French versions.

So, to sum up, this EP is rather good. The musicianship, passion, production, and orchestration is as close to perfect as you’re likely to get. You should definitely give it a spin.

I’ll Be Your Hero’ (Official Lyric Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. I’ll Be Your Hero
02. Where Dragons Fly
03. Rain Of Fury (Live)
04. The Courage To Forgive (Live)
05. The Wind, The Rain And The Moon
06. Senza Un Addio
07. Sin Un Adios
08. La Force De Me Battre

LINE-UP:
Giacomo Voli – Vocals
Alex Staropoli – Keyboards
Roby De Micheli – Guitars
Alessandro Sala – Bass
Manu Lotter – Drums

LINKS:

Rhapsody Of Fire Promo Pic (Credit @emanuelealiprandiphotography)
@emanuelealiprandiphotography

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

NWOCR – The Official New Wave Of Classic Rock – Volume 1

NWOCR - Volume One Album Cover Art

NWOCR – The Official New Wave Of Classic Rock – Volume 1
RPM
Release Date: 23/07/2021
Running Time: 153:11
Review by Beth Jones
9/10

I love a bit of Rock – I mean who doesn’t? But do you ever have those mornings where you just can’t decide which CD to stick on in your car, and you end up running 10 minutes late because you’ve been indecisively pulling out and replacing albums from your CD rack? Okay, I admit if you’re one of the youngsters your answer to that is probably “Err… that’s why Spotify shuffle exists, duh!” But I’m old and I like physical copies. And I am, of course, doing it correctly – none of this new-fangled gadgetry, I don’t care if it is there to make my life easier, I know what I like, and I like what I know. Harumph.

Anyway, back to the point. If like me, your musical indecisiveness makes you late for shit, then I have the answer! You need to pick yourself up a copy of the about to be released “The Official New Wave Of Classic Rock – Volume 1”, a canny, and not so little, compilation featuring the best of the new kids on the block (no, not those ones) in the classic rock field.

The force is strong with this genre right now. There are some absolutely superb bands popping up to rock our socks off, and at 42 tracks long, this double album certainly gives you a veritable smorgasbord to listen to. Now, I’m not going to do a rundown of every song, because, quite frankly, you may all have died of boredom by the time I finished waxing lyrical, and I don’t want to be responsible for starting a new wave of deadly tedium (although, that does have a good ring to it…) so, I’m just going to give you a little overview, and then highlight some of the tracks that I think stand out.

There is nothing fancy or surprising about the album. It does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s meat and two veg classic rock, done by the new guys, and done bloody well. There are some lapses into Southern and Blues Rock in places. But, on the whole, if you like the classic sounds of good old fashioned, leather clad, hard rocking, then you’ll love this album. That’s basically it for the overview. Just a stonkingly good listen.

So, onto the highlights. Top of the list, and possibly no surprise to people who’ve read my reviews before, are Mason Hill, with rip-roaring track ‘DNA’, from their recently released debut album “Against The Wall”. I adore Mason Hill, and the debut album, with this track being my joint favourite, alongside the title track. It pleased me a lot to see it on here.

The Hot Damn’s ‘Dance Around’ took me back to the 80’s (most of which I missed because I was only a nipper, and shielded from the horrors of the world, like TV advertising and Rock ‘n’Roll… but not Jim’ll Fix It… Terrible misjudgement by my parents there. However, I broke free, *evil laugh* and then had to do a bit of catching up). Great powerful vocals, and a nice groove.

‘Hideaway’ from Tomorrow Is Lost is a little more modern, and heavy, but it’s another banging tune. It’s taken from their 2020 album, “Therapy”, which I was lucky enough to review, and was one of my favourite albums of the weirdest year in all of our lifetimes. Ironically, most of us probably now need therapy, but music will do for the interim, because it is a sort of therapy.

If you want a lesson on how to play some mean, face melting guitar, then listen to ‘The World Is Calling Me’ by Shape Of Water. Man, they have more licks than an ice-cream parlour on a hot summer’s day! Great 70’s sludgy vibe going on too.

Gin Annie round off CD1, with ‘Devil In Me’. I do like a little Gin Annie for the afternoon chill vibes, and this song is great for that. Nice cold beer, in a field with your mates, listening to a rock band and just generally being happy to be alive, kind of feel. God, I miss that…

Kicking off CD2 is possibly one of the last bands I saw live in a field, Phil Cambell and the Bastard Sons, with ‘Son Of A Gun’. Pedal to the metal rock at its best. Simples. It smacks you in the face like a freight train with its thunderously rhythmic ROCKKKK. Hell yes! That’s followed by The Dust Coda, with ‘When The Tide Comes In’, which is the epitome of Classic Rock. Sultry vocals, a steady bass line, a catchy chorus, and some great hooks. Love it.

Another firm favourite here at camp Ever Metal are Bad Touch, and they feature with their track ‘I Get High’. Again, I’m back in the field, although maybe not with just a beer now, given the track name!

King Creature come along to make everything a bit more down tuned and dirty, with ‘Captives’. This one has more of a 90’s feel about it, but not in a bad way! (The 90’s I do remember – the marmite generation, with us youngsters loving this new grungy sound, and all the classic folks hanging their heads, and wishing the facepalm had been invented…)

Doomsday Outlaw’s ‘Turn Me Loose’ has me heading down route 66 in a convertible just for shits and giggles. I mean honestly, there are some sweet Southern sounds happening here. And then directly after them, another of our Ever Metal favourites, Ashen Reach, pop up with ‘Fighting For My Life’, from their 2020 album ‘Homecoming’, which I also had the pleasure of reviewing.

Ryders Creed appear too, with ‘Cut Me Down’. I love this band. The powerful clean vocals and sweeping melodies are superb, and they have such a great groove. Then, to finish off my pick of the best (which admittedly is a pretty long list) we have a bit of Ward XVI, with ‘Broken Toys’. They are in a league of their own in my opinion. What they do is mesmeric, and their brand of ‘Shock Rock’ is perfect for my slightly warped mind. Again, I reviewed their album, “Metamorphosis”, when it graced our ever-growing review list last year, and was blown away by it.

So, yeah. That, in a nutshell, is what this album’s all about. Good, solid, no messing, New Wave Of Classic Rock. You need this in your CD Collection (or Spotify playlist, if you must, but only if you’re under 40, or haven’t yet learnt how sacrosanct the compact disc is)!

New Wave of Classic Rock – Volume One (Official Trailer)

TRACKLISTING:

CD1:
01. Massive Wagons – Tokyo
02. Mason Hill – DNA
03. Hollowstar – All I Gotta Say
04. These Wicked Rivers – Shine On
05. Anchor Lane – Fame Shame
06. Empyre – New Republic
07. Daxx & Roxane – Without You
08. Sons Of Liberty – Fire And Gasoline
09. The Hot Damn! – Dance Around
10. Massive – Rise
11. Everyday Heroes – Find My Way
12. Elles Bailey – Woman Like Me
13. Scarlet Rebels – No One Else To Blame
14. Wolf Jaw – I Ain’t Ready
15. Tomorrow Is Lost – Hideaway
16. Dead Man’s Whiskey – War Machine
17. Dig Lazarus – Tell Me Why
18. The New Roses – Whiskey Nightmare
19. Shape Of Water – The World Is Calling Me
20. Revival Black – So Alive
21. Gin Annie – Devil In Me

CD2:
01. Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons – Son Of A Gun
02. The Dust Coda – When The Tide Comes In
03. Skam – Iron Cross
04. Collateral – Merry Go Round
05. Bad Touch – I Get High
06. Gorilla Riot – Still Doing Time
07. Thundermother – Driving In Style
08. King Creature – Captives
09. Rews – Today We’re Warriors
10. Twister – Call To Arms
11. South Of Salem – The Hate In Me
12. Jack J Hutchinson – World On Fire
13. Bootyard Bandits – Hoedown Showdown
14. Haxan – Killing Time
15. Doomsday Outlaw – Turn Me Loose
16. Ashen Reach – Fighting For My Life
17. Bastette – Talk About It
18. Ryders Creed – Money
19. Takeaway Thieves – This Is Rock N Roll
20. Ward XVI – Broken Toys
21. Blackwater Conspiracy – Soul Revolutionaries

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Bloodstock M2TM North Wales, Grand Final 2020 (!) – Central Station, Wrexham 03/07/2021 – Virus

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Bloodstock M2TM North Wales, Grand Final 2020 (!) – Central Station, Wrexham 03/07/2021 – Mad Spanner

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Bloodstock M2TM North Wales, Grand Final 2020 (!) – Central Station, Wrexham 03/07/2021 – Severenth

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Bloodstock M2TM North Wales, Grand Final 2020 (!) – Central Station, Wrexham 03/07/2021 – Scarfoot

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Bloodstock M2TM North Wales, Grand Final 2020 (!) – Central Station, Wrexham 03/07/2021 – Cry For Mercy

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Bloodstock M2TM North Wales, Grand Final 2020 (!) – Central Station, Wrexham 03/07/2021 – Krank

Disclaimer: This photo album is solely the property of Beth Jones. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of these images, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.