The Spectre Beneath – The New Identity Of Sidney Stone

The New Identity Of Sidney Stone Cover Art

The Spectre Beneath – The New Identity Of Sidney Stone
Self-Released
Release Date: 27/11/2020
Running Time: 60:01
Review by Simon Black
10/10

The best part of this (unpaid) job is days like this. When you listen to an album from a new band you have never heard of that absolutely ticks most of your boxes. This is actually the sophomore release for Cheshire-based The Spectre Beneath and, like 2019’s “The Downfall Of Judith King”, is a conceptual piece with a fairly dark story of criminality, shallow graves and resurrection – because in this game you just gotta love the Prog / Power concepts…

Importantly though, this is fundamentally where this album feels different. So many of the cookie-cutter variety of Progressive and Power genres (particularly those from mainland Europe) really overdo the concepts, to the point where they are clichéd and intrusive. These oft-repetitive albums go through endless contortions to fit the format and only really work if you are prepared to listen to the whole thing and embrace its underlying minutia…or more likely, you just let it go completely over your head and move on to something else. When concepts work, they don’t intrude, they are a bonus – the exemplar of which is probably Queensrÿche’s “Operation: Mindcrime”. Yes, it’s a very cleverly crafted concept album, which like the layers of an onion unpeel one at a time giving you a little more on each and every listen, yes there are musical refrains and themes that build and echo throughout but most of all the concept is a bonus, as each of the songs works on their own. This is what I see happening on “The New Identity Of Sidney Stone” and as a test I put the album on shuffle to see if I still felt as strongly about it. That would be a resounding yes.

The reason for this is some absolutely top notch song-writing and arrangements built around the two pillars of L. Lockser’s enigmatic vocals and Pete Worrall’s blistering guitar and bass work (presumably live the ‘additional’ guitar work of Vini Assis becomes a bit more fundamental). The guitar is an absolute core of the effectiveness of this band’s sound. It’s got a much dirtier guitar effect sound than is normal for Power or Progressive acts and added to this the relentless pace of the riffage which owes more to the gruelling effect you get from someone like Slayer, along with a bit of repetitive old Iron Maiden harmonisation instead of endless solos and you get close to the sense of unease this approach instils. It also works an absolute treat especially when you have a sticksman like Consta Taylor who can keep up the pace and positively delivers the master class schooling on blast beat delivery. Perhaps the most disconcerting part of this is the ambiguous Lockser’s vocals. I get the strong sense that she is not from a Metal background, as the style and phrasing owe more to Soul than the Rock end of the spectrum, although she can definitely belt it out when needed.

Fundamentally this feels like a very new and interesting band and although I can see obvious genre paths to bands like Nevermore, the sound of The Spectre Beneath is uniquely their own. The eclectic mix that makes this happen is why this is such an original and refreshing act to listen to.

‘Clockwork Heart’ (Lyric Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Clockwork Heart
02. Voice In The Static
03. Broken
04. Have You Waited For The World To Change?
05. 20 Shillings A Town
06. The Last Light In The House
07. The Criminal
08. The Funeral
09. The Premature Burial
10. The Phone Call
11. The Exhumation

LINE-UP:
L Lockser – Vocals
Pete Worrall – Guitar/Bass
Consta Taylor – Drums
Vini Assis – Additional Lead Guitar
Martin Worrall – Piano/Keyboards
Katy Lennon – Additional Vocals

LINKS:

The Spectre Beneath Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black 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.

Labÿrinth – Welcome To The Absurd Circus

Welcome To The Absurd Circus Album Cover Art

Labÿrinth – Welcome To The Absurd Circus
Frontiers Music srl
Release Date: 22/01/2021
Running time: 60:17
Review by Chris Galea
8.5/10

Progressive Rock tends to be a strong part of the genetic identity of Italian bands in general and around the turn of the millennium Labÿrinth infused that approach with a Power Metal where the keyboards, guitars and the rhythm section are equally emphasised. Over the course of several albums the band tweaked with that formula to varying degrees but in their new album “Welcome To The Absurd Circus”, my impression is that Labÿrinth have gone stylistically close to “Return To Heaven Denied”, the band’s 1998 magnum opus.

There are several qualities that make “Welcome To The Absurd Circus” a Power Prog Metal gem. One of the first things to impress me, however, is the superlative quality of the sound, courtesy of Frontiers mainstay Simone Mularoni. But then, as the album hits its stride, other factors become apparent…

…the lead vocals, for example. After having fronted Labÿrinth for most of the band’s existence, Roberto Tiranti’s singing is still in solid form. Guitarists Olaf Thorsen and Andrea Cantarelli imbue the album with strong melodies, melancholic swoops and moments of sheer virtuosism. ‘Finally Free’ is a good place to find most of that.

Completing the line-up are keyboardist Oleg Smirnov (Death SS, Eldritch…now on his 3rd Labÿrinth album), Nik Mazzucconi on bass (who also plays with Joe Lynn Turner’s band Sunstorm) and newly recruited drummer Mat Peruzzi (who replaced John Macaluso just before Labyrinth started working on this album).

From songs such as ‘Live Today’ – driven by some furious double-bass drumming, to ‘A Reason to Survive’ – a power ballad which I really liked, “Welcome to the Absurd Circus” is a solid album. ‘Den of Snakes’ wouldn’t sound too inappropriate on an Iron Maiden album. ‘The Unexpected’ strikes me as a song that would fit snugly in live scenarios…once the ongoing pandemic loosens its grip on society.

Negative points? Well, I felt that the cover of Ultravox’ song ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’, while not badly done, was pointless. And if I were pushed further, I’d say I wasn’t excessively enthusiastic about the songwriting of ‘Sleepwalker’ and ‘One More Last Chance’, although the latter contains some great guitar solos.

But perhaps I’m being finicky because in truth I really enjoyed listening to this album very much. In fact, while some Labyrinth albums needed time to grow on me, “Welcome To The Absurd Circus” is one that I fell for immediately…from the very first spin. In fact, I dare say that no self-respecting Power Metal fan should be without this album.

‘The Absurd Circus’ (Official Video):

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Absurd Circus
02. Live Today
03. One More Last Chance
04. As Long As It Lasts
05. Den Of Snakes
06. Word’s Minefield
07. The Unexpected
08. Dancing With Tears In My Eyes
09. Sleepwalker
10. A Reason To Survive
11. Finally Free

LINE-UP:
Roberto Tiranti – Vocals
Olaf Thorsen – Guitars
Andrea Cantarelli – Guitars
Oleg Smirnoff – Keyboards
Nik Mazzucconi – Bass
Mattia Peruzzi – Drums

LINKS:

Labÿrinth Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Chris Galea 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.

Immortal Guardian – Psychosomatic

Psychosomatic Cover Art

Immortal Guardian – Psychosomatic
M-Theory Audio
Release Date: 12/02/2021
Running Time: 52:06
Review by Simon Black
8/10

The sophomore album from this Power / Prog quartet is a very interesting beast. So many acts have been impacted by lockdown, but writing and producing an album when your singer is in Brazil, your guitarist / keyboardist is in Las Vegas, your bassist in Texas and you are still running in a new drummer who is up in Canada is no mean feat. …And just to make sure we get the point, there is a single available now all about it, called surprisingly ‘Lockdown’! Let’s think about the process behind creating that for a moment. Prog in particular is all about the ability of the instrumentalist to riff off of each other, to take that improvisation, capture it and structure it in a repeatable way whilst still sounding fresh each and every time it is played. “Psychosomatic” does this with considerable finesse.

Perhaps the most considerable musical Prog feat in here are Gabriel Guardian’s twin roles on guitar and keyboards. I wasn’t not sure how this would work in reality live, as last time I checked in order to shred your audience a new asshole with a guitar on stage, you needed to use both hands. A quick check on Youtube proved that this is in fact exactly what he is doing and it is little short of incredible to watch. Given that the interplay between keyboards and guitar is about continuous use of harmonies  he mostly has to switch between the two, but most of these songs are pretty darn fast and that’s no mean feat to pull off onstage (particularly for the frenetic and quite sublime ‘Goodbye To Farewells’, where the kind of musical interplay you might expect from the likes of Dream Theater is on display). …And shred he does, and pretty damned well to boot, with tracks like ‘Phobia’ that would give the great Joe Satch a run for his money. I’m also going to call out Carlos Zema’s vocals, as the range this guy has on him is quite impressive. When clean, the notes are long, high and loud, there’s gutsy rough’n’ready, a bit of screaming and the odd death grunt in the mix, often scaling between these within the same song and somehow not sounding out of place.

What is refreshing about the Power Metal aspects of this album is that it does not fall into the bear trap of clichés that many European peers do of death by historical or mythically themed concept albums and a highly predictable song structure. Although there is a theme in here, as the band apparently completely scrapped the album they had already started writing in favour of this collection of songs about their experiences in the pandemic. That takes confidence and guts. However, each of the songs on here stands well on its own merits and whilst clearly having a house band sound, does this without sounding repetitive or formulaic. Each song has a clear and distinct song writing structure to it, new techniques, structures and effects creep in with each song but at the same time it’s clearly one album. I am tempted to adopt the moniker ‘Super Metal’ bestowed upon them by their fans just this once as they really are in a class of their own.

This may be their second professional release, but these guys were apparently quite prolific before being signed and the musicianship on here is absolutely top notch. Like most Prog artists they know how a good sound can be achieved technically, although apart from a few solo moments the keyboards do stand a bit further back in the mix, largely generating atmosphere rather than carrying the melody. It still is worth noting that as well as writing remotely, the band members all learned how to record remotely (no mean feat when they all have different digital workstations), producing a project that then gets sent to a Producer to mix down. It certainly does not sound like they were learning on this job. So, do yourself a favour and give this a spin, because it really is a magnificent achievement.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Psychosomatic
02. Read Between The Lines
03. Lockdown
04. Phobia
05. Clocks
06. Self-Isolation
07. Goodbye To Farewells
08. Candlelight
09. Find A Reason
10. New Day Rising

LINE-UP:
Gabriel Guardian – Guitars/Keyboards
Carlos Zema – Vocals
Justin Piedimonte – Drums
Joshua Lopez – Bass

LINKS:

Immortal Guardian Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black 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.

Amon Sethis – Part 0. The Queen With Golden Hair

Part 0. The Queen With Golden Hair Cover Art

Amon Sethis – Part 0. The Queen With Golden Hair
Self-Released
Release Date: 12/12/2020
Running Time: 78:00
Review by Simon Black
6/10

This is the third album from Grenoble-based Progressive Power Metal quintet Amon Sethis, who once again deliver a concept album with a story taken from somewhere between the Sixth and Seventh Dynasties of Ancient Egypt and covering the life of Egypt’s first female Pharaoh. It’s all a bit vague factually, because the historical record is exceedingly patchy in this politically unstable period to put it mildly and so there’s plenty of scope for artistic interpretation, which is a positive boon for any band. What I am less sure about is whether the world really needs three conceptual albums from the same band with such a narrow historical focus (and with presumably more to come). I have not heard any of the other albums in the series (for which this seems to be a prequel based on the numbering), but I am guessing the Egyptian maqamat tonal form and iqa’at rhythmic mode are a constant throughout their work (that’s the distinctive Egyptian / Middle Eastern sound so abused by Hollywood for those that care). Power Metal concept albums are no stranger to this form and trope (to the point of cliché), but to take that structure into multiple albums without sounding staid takes a lot of work and in this instance throughout a full-length album without sounding the slightest bit tired or clichéd – well that’s quite an achievement.

Musically this is top notch stuff, with an incredibly tight instrumental team displaying no shortage of skill and virtuosity, overlaid by vocalist Julien Tournaud’s clear and crisp vocal delivery (although he’s not afraid to mix it up with some full on growling to keep the delivery flexible). There’s also some great female vocal parts in the mix that add to that epic ensemble effect. In fact, “epic” is probably the key word here and not just from that full on, almost Symphonic feel this album has running through its core, like a stick of Egyptian rock and wonderfully emphasised through a really rich production and sound engineering delivery.

At seventy-eight minutes of run time, brevity is not a factor in the mix here and is the big challenge that I have with this record, which is that much of this material is so very similar in tone and sound. This makes it a bit samey and repetitive, a situation that could have been avoided by trimming the material down to a punchier fifty minutes or so which would have prevented that feeling of repetition and made for a much tighter and more emphatic delivery. I find myself very torn on this review from being impressed with the musicianship and overall sound and being frustrated at the rambling nature of the material. I can’t help feeling that this is a band that you need to enjoy live, where they have to focus on winning an audience over with the tunes rather than getting pulled into a long rambling story. Nevertheless, musically this was very enjoyable, but desperately in need of some judicious editing.

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Legacy From The Past
02. Nitocris The Queen With Golden Hair
03. My Sister, My Love, My Pharaoh
04. The Conspiracy
05. The Secret Letter
06. The Rise Of Aoutef’s Army
07. Lost In The West
08. Desert Storm
09. Osiris God Of The Dead
10. Mask Of Wrath
11. By The Torture
12. Eternal Love
13. The Blood Red Temple
14. From Dust To The Stars

LINE-UP:
Julien Tournoud – Lead And Backing Vocals
Olivier Billoint – Lead And Rhythm Guitars
Eliott Tordo – Keyboards
Thierry Ventura – Bass
Thierry Delvaux – Drums

LINKS:

Amon Sethis Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, 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.

EMQ’s with AMON SETHIS

Amon Sethis Logo

EMQ’s with AMON SETHIS

Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with Grenoble, France based Power/Progressive Metal band, Amon Sethis. Huge thanks to them for taking part.

What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?

The band is called AMON SETHIS, a French metal Band who plays power prog metal with oriental influences. The band was created in 2007 and we have 2 albums already. In December we released the third album which is called: “Part 0 – Nitocris The Queen With Golden Hair”.

All the albums are concept albums which tell stories about ancient Egypt during the 6th and 7th dynasties.

How did you come up with your band name?

The name AMON SETHIS has been created with the name of the two Egyptian Gods AMON and SETH. It’s the name of the main character of the two first albums. For the new album we have chosen to talk about the mother of the pharaoh AMON SETHIS, the Queen Nitocris.

What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?

We come from the region of the Alps in France in Grenoble. The region is really active in metal because there are many international bands from that area such as NIGHTMARE, LONEWOLF, RISING STEEL etc…

What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)

Our latest release is the album “Part 0 – Nitocris The Queen With Golden Hair”. The album was released in December 2020. It’s the third album of the band.

For the promotion of that album, we have realized 2 videos clips: ‘The Blood Red Temple’ (November 2020) and ‘Desert Storm’ (December 2020).

‘The Blood Red Temple’ (Official Video)

‘Desert Storm’ (Official Video)

Who have been your greatest influences?

We love bands such as SYMPHONY X, EVERGREY, DREAM THEATER but each member has also many different influences who make the originality of the music of AMON SETHIS.

What first got you into music?

I think our music is a wise mix of Melodies, powerful riffs and huge cinematographic orchestrations. All these are sustained with a powerful rhythmic section with oriental fretless bass and energic drums.

If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?

It would be so great to collaborate with some members of the band SYMPHONY X. It would be a great pleasure.

If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?

As the band is French, it would be so great to play one time at Hellfest but it’s so difficult to be programming there. But it will be fantastic to play at Graspop festival, Wacken or Metal Days…I love that kind of festival.

What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?

A bra during a concert! 😊 I didn’t think it would happen one day! 😊

If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?

Don’t hesitate to listen to music during this evil period we live through. For that our music is a good invitation to escape from the real life. It’s a travel back through ancient Egypt, an incredible journey 😊.

If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?

Ronnie James Dio.

What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?

To be on stage is the best thing. To express all the feelings that you translate in your music is exciting. Furthermore, the process to create songs is really good too, I love that kind of work: to do the best and to express the feelings in music and to write different stories. To sum up, I like every kind of work as musician.

I hate only the people that don’t pay you after your concert.

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

I will change the algorithm in order to have more visibility for our music!!!! 😊 It’s so hard to promote our music…damned!!

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

SYMPHONY X – “Divine Wings Of Tragedy”

What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?

CD’s and Vinyl are the best. It’s real objects that you can collect and that’s so great. Downloads are good to promote your music but for my part it’s so virtual.

I like to open my CD or Vinyl, read the booklet and observe the artwork. I think is the best support for the musician.

What’s the best gig that you have played to date?

Definitely It was in 2014 when we played at PPM Fest in Mons (Belgium) We played with bands like SAXON, RAGE, THERION, VANDEN PLAS, EVERGREY…etc …it was so great😊.

If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?

Maybe a Tennis coach! It’s my passion 😊.

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

Maybe, I would want to invite DEVIN TOWNSEND, one of my favourite artists 😉.

What’s next for the band?

The next step is to promote this album as much than we can and as long as the pandemic will endure…And then we can give a second “wave” of promotion to the album, making concerts…😊 I hope that we could make it as soon as possible.

What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?

We use Facebook and Bandcamp to promote our music and of course our channel on YouTube.
www.facebook.com/Amon.Sethis
www.amonsethis.bandcamp.com/
www.youtube.com/channel/UCb9pb_wCqJuuTcpiH6OlKKQ

We appear also on all digital platforms:
www.open.spotify.com/artist/0192dFw7G6HXWLYod7ojgJ
www.deezer.com/en/artist/806113

And all the others!!

Jaffa Cakes! Are they a cake or a biscuit?

Maybe a cake!! I don’t know! 😊 you will tell me!

Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Spread the words of AMON SETHIS in liking the Facebook page! We really had a good time to compose this great album “Part 0 – Nitocris The Queen With Golden Hair. I hope you will listen and love it! Keep safe during these bad times…

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, 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.

Marco Garau’s Magic Opera – The Golden Pentacle

The Golden Pentacle Cover Art

Marco Garau’s Magic Opera – The Golden Pentacle
Self-Released
Release Date: 19/02/2021
Running Time: 64:56
Review by Beth Jones
9.75/10

Sunday is a day for rest, and indulgence, right? And for me, indulgence is listening to something elaborate, exuberant, and luscious. And, if you think the same, I have some excellent news for you! Marco Garau, an incredibly talented musician, composer, and keyboard player with Italian Symphonic Power Metal band, Derdian, has created a Symphonic Power Metal project called Magic Opera, and gathered together a bunch of equally talented musicians to bring the project to life! And their first album, “The Golden Pentacle”, is about to come and indulge your socks off!

“The Golden Pentacle” is a concept metal opera, based on a story written by Marco. The setting is the kingdom of Amtork, a faraway land, whose citizens live peacefully and happily, under the leadership of King Leiber. His loyal friend, a mighty wizard named Lord Kama, has helped him keep the land harmonious. But then, as always, an evil, peace-hating wizard, Sir Dohron, rears his head, and begins a feud, determined to throw the kingdom into torturous pain, and overthrow the king, so that he may reign supreme. In order to fulfill his evil plan, he must find the golden pentacle, a magical artifact that will give him ultimate power. But this dangerous relic was hidden away many centuries ago, by the ancestral fathers of Amtork, in order to bring peace and harmony across the kingdom. Will evil descend upon the land, or will good prevail?! Well, let’s find out!

The album begins with the title track. This gives us a bit of history about the Golden Pentacle, and sets the scene for the story. But aside from that, it also gives us a stonking Power Metal track, with thumping drums, classic cadences, and brilliant vocals from Anton Darusso.

This musical theme continues throughout the next few tracks. It’s dramatic, pacey, and superbly constructed and performed. It feels exhilarating, immersive, and exciting. Seeing this performed live would be out of this world! Every track is littered with stunning guitar solos, intricate harmonies, solid rhythms and bass lines, orchestral melodies, and glorious vocals, ranging from clean and clear, to a rough villainous edge, depending on where we are in the story. If Mozart and Beethoven could have collaborated on a symphony, using modern instruments, this is the sort of stuff they would have come up with!

Track 5, ‘Fight For The Victory’ takes the pace down a little, but even though the pace is less frenetic than the first few tracks, it’s no less dramatic. It’s got the feel of a March. The 2/4 rhythm, combined with the battle-esque, chant like vocal harmonies, conjure images of fantastical armies marching in readiness for mighty battles. It also has a ridiculously catchy chorus melody. Violins feature heavily in the orchestration here, too, which gives it a folky twist.

 ‘The Secret Of The Sea’ then punches things back in, with a mighty introduction! But then drops into solo piano, and single vocal line, telling more of the story of the location of the golden pentacle. But it quickly progresses into the upbeat, full-on spectacle that I’m now used to with this album. About halfway through the track however, we take a momentary break from orchestration, with a section of drums and guitar riffs. But that magical sound is quickly back, along with a face melting guitar solo!

The juxtaposition of quiet piano, versus intense thumping orchestral work is revisited in track 7, ‘The Sacred Legacy’, and it’s really possible to hear influences from classical music in this track, both through its cyclical cadences, and its instrumental technique. In places, it almost has a Baroque feel, and you could see it bursting into a power metal version of Bach’s ‘Toccata and Fugue’! This is a theme continued in track 8, ‘Fee Again’, as well.

‘The Other Side’ changes it up again, but this time to classic power ballad. Lighters at the ready for this one people! But make sure you have plenty of gas, because it’s just over 6 minutes long!

Aside from a quieter intro to ‘Thief Of Souls’, the album returns to the pacey immersive nature that it had to start, for the final two tracks, in order to bring the album to a close. There’s also some flipping awesome guitar work in ‘Thief Of Souls’, and if I had to pick a favourite track, this would be it, based purely on the guitar!

So, that’s it. Put simply, this is a stunning album, and well worth listening to if you like anything Symphonic, Orchestral, or Power orientated. My one criticism, and it is only a small one, is that there are some points where, for me, the balance of instruments is slightly off in the mix. The mid-section is a little heavy, and the drums get a little lost in it. But that is literally it, and I can get over that, because the musicality and composition is so damn good. And on the question of did good or evil win. Well, I’m not going to tell you! Ha! I’m not into spoilers. You’ll have to check out the album yourself to find out.

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Golden Pentacle
02. Elixir Of Life
03. Keepers Of The Night
04. Never-Ending Pain
05. Fight For The Victory
06. The Secret Of The Sea
07. The Sacred Legacy
08. Free Again
09. The Other Side
10. Thief Of Souls
11. Until The End Of Time

LINE-UP:
Marco Garau – Keyboards, Orchestrations (Derdian)
Anton Darusso – Vocals (Wings Of Destiny, Oxidize)
Gabriel Tuxen – Guitars (Seven Thorns)
Matt Krais – Guitars (ShadowStrike)
Salvatore Giordano – Drums (Derdian)
Enrico Pistolese – Bass, Backing Vocals (Derdian)

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 said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Oracle Sun – Machine Man

Machine Man Cover Art

Oracle Sun – Machine Man
Volcano Records
18/12/2020
Running Time: 48:55
Review by Simon Black
7/10

Oracle Sun are a Progressive Power Metal six-piece hailing from Lucca in Tuscany, Italy. Despite having been formed way back in 2002, they have had a somewhat challenging history, with their first album being way back in 2005 (“Deep Inside”), a lengthy gap in any activity and then stuttering attempts to get back underway again. As well as being plagued by the usual line up challenges and disagreements, this was topped up by the tragic death of their guitarist Vic in 2017. Even so, fifteen years is a hell of a gap to bridge between your debut and your sophomore albums. This records though is very much an attempt at a clean reboot and although some of the material had its origins in previous line-ups, the whole thing has been refreshed with the addition of two new members and completely rearranged and re-recorded. The end result is a record that actually sounds like a fresh new young band trying to make a mark and that’s how I recommend that you approach it.

There’s a lovely rich sound here, and unusually for a Prog Metal outfit a twin guitar-based song structure, which adds a beautiful harmonic richness to the sound without bringing in excessive heaviness rhythmically – not that the rhythm section of the band isn’t doing a cracking job of this anyway. Vocalist Wild Steel (yes, really) takes a more Northern European singing style and veers away from the over-dramatic semi-operatic approach that you often find with Italian bands of this style, not that I doubt that his voice doesn’t possesses the range to do so if needed – it just doesn’t fit these particular songs. All this contributes to a band who are slightly more Power than Prog in tone, but with sufficient technical flourishes to lift this above the madding crowd. It’s melodic, it’s catchy, it’s got just enough technical whizz to go alongside the mid-tempo flow of the majority of the songs and to engage a more demanding audience, but is still sufficiently metal to get a crowd who doesn’t know their material going in a festival field. A really promising reboot.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Edge Of Life
02. Million To Ascension
03. Fallin’ Time
04. Machine Man
05. Sunset Feelings
06. Look Behind Me
07. Daydream
08. Calling
09. Coming Back

LINE-UP:
Wild Steel – Voice
Alessandro Cola – Bass
Tommy Pellegrini – Guitar
Giacomo Paradiso – Guitar
Alessio Pascucci – Keyboard
Frank Andiver – Drums

LINKS:

Oracle Sun Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, 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.

EMQ’s with ETERNAL WINTER

EMQ’s with ETERNAL WINTER

Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with Maryland, USA based Epic Power Metal band, Eternal Winter. Huge thanks to vocalist/guitarist, Matthew Knight, for taking part.

What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?

Greetings! My name is Matthew Knight. I am the vocalist/guitarist/frontman of US metal band ETERNAL WINTER. I started the group in 2002 and we have been going strong ever since. We play a unique style of epic heavy metal with dark and progressive elements. Our latest album “ARCHAIC LORE ENSHRINED: SONGS OF SAVAGE SWORDS & DARK MYSTICISM” was released last September.

How did you come up with your band name?

The name ETERNAL WINTER comes from the heroic fantasy Mythos that many of our lyrics are based on. It is an original concept story written in the early days of the band that has been expanded upon over the years.

What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?

ETERNAL WINTER hails from the USA. There is a very strong Metal/Rock scene here and always has been. Although not as mainstream as it was in years prior, the underground scene is still alive and well in our land, and excellent bands are always on the uprising.

What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)

The newest album is called “ARCHAIC LORE ENSHRINED: SONGS OF SAVAGE SWORDS & DARK MYSTICISM”. It is a collection of songs based on sword-and-sorcery, weird fiction, and Gothic literature that has inspired us over the years.

‘The Curse Of Baron Sengir’ (Audio)

Who have been your greatest influences?

There are so many to mention. I am very fond of metal bands such as CAULDRON BORN, VIRGIN STEELE, STORMWITCH, QUEENSRYCHE, CRIMSON GLORY… I also am a huge fan of BRYAN FERRY, DAVID SYLVIAN, AL DI MEOLA any many, many others…

What first got you into music?

Early ‘90s rock bands made an impression on me as a kid, and got me wanting to form my own band. Groups such as PRIMUS and WHITE ZOMBIE with their amazing musicianship and cartoonish imagery had a big influence on me in my pre-teen years.

If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?

Kip Winger.

If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?

I’ve always been a fan of the Montreux Jazz Festival. I think that some of the greatest musicians have played there, and they always seem to have great sound and acoustics.

What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?

I can’t think of many weird gifts, but I’ve received several very cool gifts… artwork, swords, one fan made a detailed sculpture of a dragon’s eye from our concept story, and presented it in a miniature glass case. I hang on to these relics with great appreciation.

If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?

Be artistic and passionate! Unleash the power of your imagination!

If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?

Mark Shelton.

What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?

I pretty much enjoy every aspect about being a musician. I live for being able to express my creativity through the art form that I love. There’s nothing that I really dislike about it.

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

I wish that physical albums were still as popular as they once were. I wish there still were record stores on every corner, and everyone had albums of their favourite bands sitting on their shelves.

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

Al Di Meola – “Elegant Gypsy”.

What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?

Vinyl, CD’s, Cassettes are all great…Although nice for reference, I’m not a fan of digital-only formats.

What’s the best gig that you have played to date?

In 2010 we opened for EDGUY at Jaxx in Springfield, VA. The sound and audience were great that night. It always stands out as being one of the most magical shows we’ve played.

If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?

Writing stories, or pursuing some other form of art.

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Robert E. Howard, and Edgar Allan Poe

What’s next for the band?

We have a new album already written and will be hitting the studio soon to begin recordings.

What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?

Bandcamp, YouTube, and Facebook seem to be what we use the most. We also have our music up on Spotify, iTunes, etc…
www.eternalwinter.bandcamp.com/
www.youtube.com/channel/UCQOMiPjbbEuJk3nbvA-l1tg
www.facebook.com/EternalWinterOfficial
www.open.spotify.com/artist/0ljKDNLNpFtCeKHUdsZshr

Jaffa Cakes! Are they a cake or a biscuit?

I call them a cookie!

Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Thanks very much to all our friends, fans and everyone who has supported us over the years. The best is yet to come!

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, 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.

Arrayan Path – The Marble Gates To Apeiron

Arrayan Path – The Marble Gates To Apeiron
Pitch Black Records
Release Date: 27/11/2020
Running Time: 48:07
Review by Simon Black
7/10

Now being of part-Cypriot extraction myself, I was quite surprised to hear that there were any metal bands at all in Cyprus, let alone Power Metal ones, so I have approached this with a certain amount of interest. I’ve often felt that a lot of the mainland Hellenic Metal acts I have come across recently still held a sort of 80’s naïve charm, with a recording sound that often didn’t quite ‘get’ what Metal is about – in part I suspect for the same reason their NWOBHM predecessors did – studios and engineers who simply had no experience with it. Given that they have seven releases under their belt already this is not a problem for Arrayan Path, who absolutely get that the Power Genre works best with a willingness to embrace every technical and recording trick in the book in the quest for a rich, full and epic sound, which this record masterfully achieves.

Another mercy is the decision to avoid the dreaded concept album format beloved of so many of their peers, which to be honest really has run its course. Instead, we have a slightly darker and more Melodic Metal tinged piece, which although thematically conceptual, does not involve trying to wrap your head around a complex story in order to fathom the point of it. Equally enjoyable are the unexpected technical twists and sleights of hand that the album throws out – from some downright Progressive pauses, time changes and chord twists, to the epic interplay that would not sound out of place on a Symphonic Metal album. Then there’s those moments when Nicholas Leptos lets rip from his normally gentle and soothing vocal tones to an outright shredding scream that could take the wallpaper off the ceiling (assuming the roof was still in place to hold it after the pounding it has just had at the hands of the rhythm section).

This album is also something of a slow burner. On first listen it didn’t really grab me, but after a couple of spins the technical interplay and subtlety becomes clearer, and I’m left with a feeling that this is a band with a lot more to offer. I may be late to the Arrayan party, but I’m glad I got there in time for the strong stuff.

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Marble Gates To Apeiron
02. Metamorphosis
03. Virus
04. The Mourning Ghost
05. To Live Another Day
06. The Mask Of Sanity
07. The Cardinal Order
08. A Silent Masquerade
09. Black Sails (The Nemean Ode)

LINE-UP:
Nicholas Leptos – Vocals
Socrates Leptos – Guitars
Christoforos Gavriel – Guitars
Miguel Trapezaris – Bass

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black 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.

Persuader – Necromancy

Persuader – Necromancy
Frontiers Music srl
Release Date: 04/12/2020
Running Time: 44:04
Review by Simon Black
8/10

The Power Metal genre has its fair share of problems. Firstly, it’s a very fluid sub-genre. Traditionally it was a direct descendant of traditional Heavy Metal at the great point of divergence and diaspora in the 1980’s – taking the more upbeat, melodic and lighter route, whilst pinching the speed elements from Thrash. Secondly it is very much a European phenomenon – so much so that I can usually tell within a few bars of the opening track whether a band hails from Germany, Italy or Sweden (which let’s face it, the vast majority of them do). Thirdly it can be a frustratingly formulaic format, with repetitive structures and an unhealthy obsession with mythical concept story arcs. All this can be helpful when you fancy a singalong in a festival field somewhere in Slovenia with a band whose material you’ve not encountered up to that point, but far more challenging when trying to differentiate yourself in a crowded marketplace, or find yourself reviewing the fifth concept album that month about some obscure pre-Christian mythical hero. So when something like this comes along that doesn’t quite play by these three rules whilst still most definitely being Power Metal, it’s a refreshing change from all the cookie cutter efforts flying around out there (even though Persuader are in fact Swedish!).

Despite being around for twenty-three years, the band have been far from prolific, as this – their fifth album in that quite lengthy period, illustrates. But then it’s far, far better to produce one really good album every five years than three forgettable ones in the same period, and this one is very, very good. This is a very dark offering for a start and also has a very Blind Guardian feel to it, not least because Jens Carlsson is a vocal dead ringer for Hansi Kürsch, with his slightly folky / nasal timbre and powerful presence. In all other respects this album is nothing like them at all – being a far more brutal affair than the German kings of the Power genre have so far mustered.

So, this album: it’s dark, it’s heavy and it’s doesn’t drag at all (which is an affliction too many concept laden Power Metal albums struggle with as they try and retain your interest in an idea that might have made a punchy EP, but becomes somewhat strained by the half way point of a full-blown album). Like all the best Power Metal it plays around with the sound and dips its toes into the waters of other sounds, whilst staying firmly in the genre. Where this works well is that there is just enough speed and brutal aggression to fire energy into the belly of the beast, without branching too far into Speed / Thrash territory.

Unusually for a Power act, there’s no full-time keyboard player. Presumably one of the four of them is doubling up when needed given some of the technically tight, Progressive flourishes that occasionally add colour to an instrumental section, but the net effect of this is a much heavier dynamic, which allows the proficiency of Emil Norberg and newcomer Fredrik Mannberg’s guitar work to stand out hard, loud and clear. From opener ‘The Curse Unbound’, this album crashes in with some brutally fast rhythms, effortlessly switching pace and tempo to play with your emotions and taking you on a roller coaster of technical musical proficiency.

For those of you that, like me, can appreciate a technically proficient bunch of musicians, then you will be in for a treat, and one that holds the attention throughout as Persuader wrap this technical skill up in well-crafted song-writing that does not sound overtly showy. It’s got the melodic hooks to suck you in, but enough brutality, intensity and epic heaviness to perhaps keep even the more extreme fans interested. Like all well-crafted works, it reveals more of itself with every listen, and I can tell that this is a gift that’s going to keep on giving.

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Curse Unbound
02. Scars
03. Raise The Dead
04. Reign Of Darkness
05. Hells Command
06. Gateways
07. The Infernal Fires

LINE-UP:
Jens Carlsson – Vocals
Emil Norberg – Guitars
Fredrik Mannberg – Guitars
Efraim Juntunen – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black 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.