Frozen Crown – Winterbane

Winterbane Album Cover Art

Frozen Crown – Winterbane
Scarlet Records
Release Date: 23/04/2021
Running Time: 52:56
Review by Mark Pritchard
10/10

As I write this review, I am actually celebrating my 33rd birthday. I mean what more could I ask for? It’s a nice warm day with the sun out, and I’ve got my headphones on, blasting out “Winterbane”, the new album by Italian Power Metal band Frozen Crown. It’s been a tough old time recently for all of us, so having some new music to turn to on my birthday has given me a great way to try and shut out the bad stuff, and to even have a smile on my face. So, for an insight into my thoughts of this album, continue reading. But first, some history!

Frozen Crown are based in Milan, Italy, and were formed back in 2017. In the following couple of years, they released their first two albums “The Fallen King”, and “Crowned In Frost”. The band then toured alongside the amazing Dragonforce on a European tour in 2020 as special guest, as well as working on this third, and newest, studio album. Although the band’s journey has only been four years long so far, they have done quite a lot during this time. As well as the touring with Dragonforce, their videos on YouTube have garnered over 18 million views, and “Winterbane” has been endorsed by Dragonforce’s own Herman Li on his Twitch channel, not many bands can say the same thing! Long may the journey continue, I say! So, what does it sound like?

Well, it’s fair to say that I’ve listened to this album a good few times now! So much so, I think I’ve lost count. But I’m sitting here at my desk, cup of tea in hand, rocking in my chair with my eyes shut for the slower songs, and headbanging without caution to the rest, as “Winterbane” contains both ends of the spectrum when it comes to heavy metal intensity. There are songs that hit the heart, but then others that hit deeper, to the soul, with awesome instrumentals, and beautiful vocals. It makes for an album that I can listen to over and over again and it never gets tiring.

So, as I have listened to “Winterbane” so much, finding a song that stands above the rest has been a challenge, but I have found it…‘The Water Dancer’. The instrumentals are really soothing and play through the song like water in a stream which is calming and coupled with the lilting vocals make this such a relaxing song to listen to. This is a superb album and I have really enjoyed listening to it. If you enjoy Dragonforce and positive sounding, up-tempo Melodic Power Metal, played effortlessly, then I thoroughly recommend it.

‘Embrace The Night’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Embrace The Night
02. Towards The Sun
03. Far Beyond
04. The Lone Stranger
05. Crown Eternal
06. The Water Dancer
07. Angels In Disguise
08. Night Crawler
09. Tales Of The Forest
10. Blood On The Snow

LINE-UP:
Federico Mondelli – Keyboards, Guitars & Vocals.
Giada “Jade” Etro – Vocals.
Francesco Zof – Bass.
Niso Tomasini – Drums.
Fabiola “Sheena” Bellomo – Lead Guitar.

LINKS:

Frozen Crown Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Mark Pritchard 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.

Lycanthro – Mark Of The Wolf

Mark Of The Wolf Album Cover Art

Lycanthro – Mark Of The Wolf
Alone Records
Release Date: 04/06/2021
Running Time: 43:02
Review by Simon Black
7/10

If you mention Power Metal to many fans in the UK, a fair few will wrinkle their noses in disdain, which is a shame, because if your opinion is based purely on what you have heard from Europe, then you are probably missing a trick. It’s a subject I discuss often on these pages, but when we talk about the genre of Power Metal we really are talking about two completely different styles that developed in parallel from a common root (which you can trace back to the Global Supergroup Rainbow and in particular Ronnie James Dio) but which then diverged a continent and major ocean apart. The European variant branch started with Helloween (even though they hate the term) and tends to be closer to NWOBHM and Speed Metal, is more melodic and keyboard orientated, with an unhealthy obsession with over-complex pseudo-historical, fantasy or mythical concept story arcs. The North American branch is a very different beast more akin to up tempo traditional Heavy Metal, with more riffage, little or no keyboards and is generally darker and heavier than its Euro counterpart. Given that Thrash was happening in parallel, way back when, there are many similarities, so when an act like this comes along that blatantly fuses bits of the attitude that came with Thrash and the sentiments of Power Metal this does not come as a great surprise.

For a start Lycanthro hail from Canada, a country whose Metal bands frequently do not get enough attention over here in the UK. It’s their first full album, but not all the material on here is original and dates back to their demo days and has been given a much needed freshen up and revamp. Fantasy themes abound on this record thematically, but it’s not a concept – although there are plenty of werewolves, witches, dragons and the odd hunchback. The album was apparently recorded in a cabin in the woods near Quebec (no TV’s to throw out of hotel windows here, as it might land on your tent), but it probably goes a long way to the slightly spooky atmosphere some of the songs on this interesting debut.

The Thrash / Power hybrid screams out loud and clear from the get-go, with ‘Crucible’, an absolute belter which, right from the first few bars, indicates that Vocalist James Delbridge has something of a range on him. The verse is fairly down and gruff but scales the octaves like a rocket into the chorus. Not an easy trick to pull off quickly, but he does it effortlessly. In fact ‘effortlessly’ is a word that runs through this recording like the lettering in a bar of seaside rock. The staccato time changes in here are not common in Euro Metal, and it creates a great sense of energy in what is actually a technically quite clever track, even though it does not seem so on the surface. ‘Fallen Angels Prayer’ is quite ambitious in its delivery. It feels like it’s going to be a more middle of the road rocker at first before taking a distinctly Symphonic turn with the additional of a really spooky choral section that sets the hairs on the back of your neck on end to finish. The title track doesn’t break new ground, but ‘Enchantress’ is an attempt at something more epic and complex, and in its seven minutes has the space to experiment a little more, but perhaps could have benefitted from tightening up a little earlier on, although the lengthy instrumental bridges evoke early Maiden and are worth waiting for. ‘In Metal We Trust’ is what you would expect with a title like that – a fist-pumping live anthem in the early 80’s Priest vein. Hold out for ‘Evangelion’ as well – it’s the latest single, and is one of the more musically European sounding tracks with a rich, epic feel to it, and which perhaps hints at the maturity that has developed over the course of the lengthy gestation period of the record’s songs. It’s not quite a Power Ballad, but it’s definitely one of the strongest and most mature tracks on this record.

Overall, this is a very promising start, but the mixed bag of old and new material clearly shows it’s covering a longer song-writing period, so it’s going to be interesting to see how they approach their next record. For my money, the older and more complex songs like ‘Lycanthro’ and the blisteringly tight ‘Into Oblivion’ have benefitted from a few more years of polish and muscle memory, but I’m far from writing the newer songs off yet. Interestingly, technically proficient and with an incredibly promising vocal delivery, this is clearly a band to watch.

‘Evangelion’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Crucible
02. Fallen Angels Prayer
03. Mark Of The Wolf
04. Enchantress
05. In Metal We Trust
06. Into Oblivion
07. Ride The Dragon
08. Evangelion

LINE-UP:
James Delbridge – Vocals, Guitars
David Shute – Guitars
Carlo Cote – Bass
Nathan Shuman – Drums
Forrest Dussault – Guitars

LINKS:

Lycanthro 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.

EMQ’s with ADRIAN BENEGAS

Adrian Benegas Logo

EMQ’s with ADRIAN BENEGAS

Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with Asuncion, Paraguay based Symphonic/Power Metal solo artist, and also member of Tragul, Adrian Benegas. Huge thanks to Adrian, 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?

Hello, this is Adrian Benegas, a songwriter, producer and keyboardist. I’ve started this solo project with the release of my debut solo album called “THE REVENANT” back in November 2019.

How did you come up with your band name?

Easy, 😉 My parents did it for me, haha.

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

I’m from Paraguay, a small country in the heart of South America. Well, we’ve a nice “still growing” community of metal heads over here, there are a lot of bands producing music and trying to be heard.

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

Well, as I mentioned, I’ve released an album called “THE REVENANT” in November 2019. Lately, I’ve been releasing the 2 promotional singles taken from my new EP “DIAMONDS IN THE DARK” released  on May 21st, 2021. The first one called ‘ORPHAN OF LIFE’ and the second, ‘POISONED LOVE’.

‘Poisoned Love’ feat. Herbie Langhans and Sascha Paeth (Animated Short)

‘Orphan Of Life’ feat. Herbie Langhans and Sascha Paeth (Lyric Video)

Who have been your greatest influences?

Tough one because I listen to all kind of music since I was young. But into metal, and during my adolescence I remember listening to a lot to bands like Stratovarius (with Timo Tolkki), Rhapsody (original line-up), Nightwish (with Tarja), Sonata Arctica (original line-up), Ozzy Osbourne, Dionysus, Crimson Glory, and many more. As a composer, I always admired the music of Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman, Howard Shore, Enya, among others and my favourite composer and pianist of classical music is Frédéric Chopin from the Romantic period.

What first got you into music?

The need to express myself. As an escapist, I was and am always lost in my own mind and imagination so I needed/need to put all these crazy/dreamy stuff somewhere, hehe. So, that’s why I got into music.

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

I am used to working with the musicians I like. So, more than musicians, I think I dream to work in great studios with great producers. Maybe one of my life dreams is to record and produce an album in Abbey Road with a big orchestra playing my songs. Anyway, if you ask me for a “current” singer I would say Jake E, he is phenomenal.

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

Maybe Wacken because in my opinion, it is the greatest metal festival out there. Anyway, someday I’d love to produce my own festival 😉.

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

Well, not weirdest but the most I liked was a beautiful abstract hand-made painting that is hung in my living room. Love abstract art!

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

More than a message, I’d say THANK YOU.

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

Hmmm…Tough one again haha, maybe Freddie Mercury.

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

The part that I most enjoy of being a musician is that the so called “work” is total fun, I mean, my “work” consists of expressing myself and helps me to manage stress or anxiety, etc. So, I think it’s the best work I could have. And the part that I don’t like too much is the social media madness, I mean, everything that is part of being a musician but has nothing to do with “music” itself, hehe.

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

I don’t know, I mean, it is what it is. I try to understand and manage it as much as I can. Music industry has a good and bad side, same as all things in life so I’m fine with it.

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

Just one?? Haha, very difficult! I mean, it’s kinda impossible. Sorry! 😊

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

I grew up listening to vinyls (when I was a kid), then I moved to cassettes and finally CD’s. Nowadays, I’m most into streaming services so If I get nostalgic, I would choose cassettes but at the end, life goes on and we have to adapt ourselves to the new generation’s formats.

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

The next one 😉

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

Maybe a writer, painter, movie maker or something where I can express ideas and tell stories.

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

Well, my closest friends.

What’s next for the band?

Promoting my new 5 track EP, released on May 21st, called “DIAMONDS IN THE DARK”, that I had the pleasure to produce in collaboration with Herbie Langhans (Firewind, Avantasia) and German producer Sascha Paeth during the pandemic lockdown in 2020.

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

You can visit my website: www.adrianbenegas.com, where you will find not only my solo project but also, my parallel symphonic metal project TRAGUL.

Also, my Instagram: www.instagram.com/adrianbenegasmusic and Facebook, www.facebook.com/adrianbenegasmusic

Find my videos on Youtube: www.youtube.com/adrianbenegasofficial and finally, listen to all music on Spotify and all streaming platforms.

Listen to the EP Here
www.sym.ffm.to/yvrx2q1

Jaffa Cakes! Are they a cake or a biscuit?

Biscuit? haha

Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?Thanks for having me! It was a pleasure to answer to all the questions! Rock On and stay heavy

Adrian Benegas Header

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.

EMQ’s with EVERMORE

Evermore Logo

EMQ’s with EVERMORE

Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with Swedish based Melodic Power Metal band Evermore. Huge thanks to guitarist, Johan Karlsson, 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?

My name is Johan Karlsson and I play lead guitar in Evermore.

Evermore are Johan Karlsson and Andreas Viklands (music and words) and Johan Haraldsson lead vocals.

Me (Johan K) and Andreas started playing music together in the late nineties. We played together in a band called Euphoria. After the band disrupted, we had a break from music for quite a while. But since we still wrote music, every now and then on our own, we decided, around 2016, to record an album. So, some of the songs are made out of really old ideas that have taken different shapes along the way and eventually turned out as they are today. ‘Call Of The Wild’, the opening track on the album is actually made out of the very first song we ever wrote.

How did you come up with your band name?

We wanted to have a name that was easy to remember and that gave association to metal. We thought that Evermore was a perfect name.

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

We are based in the southern part of Sweden. Right now, the metal scene here is quite small.

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

Our latest release is “Court Of The Tyrant King”. It´s an eight track album that is built around the hero´s journey concept.

‘Court Of The Tyrant King’ (Lyric Video)

‘By Death Reborn’ (Audio)

Who have been your greatest influences?

Me and Andreas are very much influenced by Avantasia, Edguy, Helloween, Stratovarius and many more melodic power metal bands. But bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica have been a great influence as well. Johan Haraldsson comes from a more traditional background with bands like Saxon and Judas Priest

What first got you into music?

I have always been listening to music since I was a kid but never played it myself. When I started to play myself in my mid-teens, I quickly realised that I wanted to deliver that special feeling that some bands brought to me while listening to their songs. Today when you get THAT positive feedback I can feel like “ yes, we did it”.

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

Avantasia/Tobias Sammet definitely. He has such a great creativity and he´s a great musician/songwriter. He also seems like a very humble person with a great sense of humour.

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

Rock in Rio. Awesome festival with so many people that love metal.

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

Haha it wasn’t a gift, more like a request. If I could play accordion on a very very big birthday party. And do you know something…I did!

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

Thank you for all your support. We will keep doing awesome melodic metal just for you.

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

Dimebag Darrell.

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

I enjoy almost everything. It´s just so ridiculously fun to play and write songs.

I hate those time when I lack out of ideas when I´m writing songs.

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

It would be great if the streaming era hadn’t come with that impact as it did. Even if I use it myself, I can feel that it is very hard for bands, especially new ones to make a fair profit of their work, by selling CD´s, Vinyls etc.

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

Just one, that’s like impossible. But then I have to say Avantasia – “Ghostlights”.

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

I´m not that picky with different kind of sounds. I listen exclusively on the stream format. The main reason is that it´s always available for me.

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

Don´t really know. But one gig that I remember and that was awesome was at Head Bangers Ballroom in Hamburg.

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

Food reviewer. I love to eat.

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

Tobias Sammet, Dimebag Darrell, Jack Black, Will Ferrell and Ola Englund

What’s next for the band?

Right now, it´s like a full time job promoting the album. But we are writing songs for the next album. And I tell you, it will be awesome.

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

www.facebook.com/evermoremetal
www.instagram.com/evermore_metal/
www.open.spotify.com/artist/4t1wkI6J9caWGtnlIxW5Zk
www.youtube.com/channel/UCOZfHmq9GH9RuU_wRgS5vOw

Jaffa Cakes! Are they a cake or a biscuit?

It’s a biscake.

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

Thanks a lot for having me and a very special thanks to every fan of Evermore.

Evermore Promo Pic

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.

Silver Talon – Decadence and Decay

Decadence And Decay Cover

Silver Talon – Decadence and Decay
M-Theory Audio
Release Date: 28/05/2021
Running Time: 46:44
Review by Simon Black
9/10

Today alone I have ploughed through a couple of Power Metal records in my on-going mission to either listen to the bad ones so you don’t have to, or find the diamonds that you need to. Oh so many times, so many of these are constantly ticking the same boxes that it does tend to get repetitive, with the most frustrating fact of all being that generally the level of musicianship is so high, which makes it difficult to differentiate between the vast majority of them. So here’s how this particular debut album fares against the usual Power Metal cliché check list to give you a sense of what we journo’s have to deal with the rest of the time, and why this one is a little special:

  • The band is from Germany, Sweden or Italy? Nope, Portland Oregon, USA. That does not mean that they should not travel to these and other Power Metal staple countries as soon as possible, because the rest of the world is going to get a shock.
  • The band is a Supergroup, made up from musicians from other Power Metal bands (from Germany, Sweden or Italy)? No again, these chaps all seem quite young, although guitarist Sebastian Silva has definitely been a busy chap in the past. Whether we have heard of them before or not, there is an incredible level of musicianship on display with these boys.
  • Dodgy colourful comic book styled cover painting showing either a war, over-muscled heroes doing battle or scantily clad women…or all three? Well the lady in question is definitely on the scantily clad side, but this is way darker in colour and tone than the usual fantasy fare, but given that it was done by fantasy artist Gerald Brom it probably cost more than the studio time.
  • A concept album based on either a fictional Sword & Sorcery scenario of the band’s construction or a pseudo-historical war story, or something mythical and easy to recognise but still allowing plenty of scope for artistic licence? Wrong again – although there’s a conceptual theme of darkness underpinning all the songs, each one stands on its own two feet … although they are most likely cloven.
  • Lots of uplifting Major key songs, that you don’t need to know the lyrics to be able to sing along to in a festival field whilst utterly wankered on beer and herbal cigarettes? Not in the slightest. Although the musical virtuosity and eye-watering speed are there, this is dark, moody and angst-ridden stuff, to the point where I’m not sure it can technically be called ‘Power Metal’ any more… or maybe the whole genre is about to get a major overhaul.

To be fair though, Euro and USA incarnations are quite distinct from each other although formed from a common root that traces right the way back to the opening strains of ‘Rainbow Rising’, but this is something both of that genre and clearly distinct from it. The eight tracks on here share a common feel and house sound, but are very separate from each other. From the blistering opening of ‘Deceiver, I Am’ to the epic lamenting wails and complexities of ‘Touch The Void’ this is an album that surprises continually and delivers constantly.

‘Divine Fury’ is the first track on this album that sounds like it might have more Eurometal origins, with its blistering opening and Neo-classical harpsichord voiced keys Jens Johansson style introduction, but the brutality and ethos remain firmly further Western side of the Atlantic in sound. It’s one of the more complex tracks on the record, with a complex interweaving melody structure, dizzying time changes and large dollops of the Progressive in the mix, with multiple vocal lines adding layers and layers of complexity and the longer instrumental section keeping that going. It simultaneously appears to be chaotically without structure, whilst also having the most complex of song-structures architecturally, which is no mean feat to achieve. If they can play that live without sheet music, they deserve an award of some kind.

Throughout this record, however, you cannot avoid the sheer heights of musicianship shown. With no less than three guitarists in the mix, the interplay and layering is formidable. There’s no credited keyboard player in there but whoever is doing this needs a credit, because I don’t give the Jens from Stratovarius comparison lightly. The rhythm section is a veritable powerhouse of delivery, and Wyatt Howell’s hauntingly powerful vocal lines leave you feeling slightly uneasy, like the soundtrack to a good horror movie that you simply cannot stop watching. Definitely a diamond, and an exceptional one at that.

‘Divine Fury’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Deceiver, I Am
02. Resistance 2029 (feat. Andy La Rocque)
03. As The World Burns
04. Next To The Sun
05. Divine Fury
06. Kill All Kings
07. What Will Be
08. Touch The Void

LINE-UP:
Wyatt Howell – Vocals
Bryce R. VanHoosen – Guitar
Sebastian Silva – Guitar
Devon Miller – Guitar
Walter Hartzell – Bass
Michael Thompson – Drums

LINKS:

Silver Talon 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.

Artaban’s Redemption – Broken Puppets EP

Broken Puppets EP Cover Art

Artaban’s Redemption – Broken Puppets EP
Demons Records
Release Date: 21/05/2021
Running Time: 29:01
Review by Simon Black
6/10

This five track, but still quite lengthy EP, is one of those lockdown side projects that probably doesn’t justify a full album, that was birthed in the chaos and frustration of 2020. It’s the brainchild of Unbound guitarist Alvaro Weik, with support from various members of Dark Moor, Freedom Call/Vexillu, Lethargus and Vision Divine/Derdian, respectively. It’s debatable whether the world needs another late 90’s influenced Euro Power Metal supergroup, but I’m not going to kick down any musician pulling together any project from scratch without the benefit of gelling in a rehearsal room together and finding your musical collective feet under conditions like we’ve all just endured, because, like us, they need to eat.

As ever with Power Metal, the piece is a concept one – exploring what happens when the technological scrapheap decides to get its own back, so comes across like a cross between a white paper on technical debt and The Terminator. It’s a valid environmental topic, given how gadgets so often end up in landfill and asks questions from the Internet of Things perspective and makes a welcome subject matter change from the usual Power Metal Pseudo-Historical / Sword & Sorcery fare.

I guess the challenge I have with it is that, although the musicianship is competent enough, it’s not really until the fourth track ‘Time For War’ that the song-writing hits a groove with a track that feels cohesively like a band. It’s definitely the strongest thing on the EP, with a mid-tempo heavy rhythm and feel, catchy chorus and anthemic feel. The closer ‘Never Again’ keeps the anthemic feel going and adds some speed, but overall, I’m left with the feeling that this is a good idea that needed a bit more time to ferment – or a band that need to work in the same room and find their musical shorthand, rather than remotely. It will be interesting to see whether this experiment gets taken further, as the promise shown in the last couple of tracks implies that there is definitely something in there, but that it needs a little bit of time and maturation first.

‘Shutting Down’ (Lyric Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Obsolete Tech
02. Revolution
03. Shutting Down
04. Time for War
05. Never Again

LINE-UP:
Ivan Giannini – Vocals
Alvaro Weik – Guitar
Francesco Ferraro – Bass
Elena Alonso – Keyboards
Roberto Cappa – 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.

Grimgotts – Tales, Sagas & Legends

Tales, Sagas & Legends Album Cover Art

Grimgotts – Tales, Sagas & Legends
Stormspell Records
Release Date: 07/05/2021
Running Time: 67:00
Review by Simon Black
7/10

Named after the goblin run fictional bank in the Harry Potter franchise and originally starting off life as a parody act of that story arc, Britain’s Grimgotts have now branched off into their own fantasy world and stories – presumably because cease and desist letters from J.K. Rowling’s brand protection lawyers can have that effect on a band. This third full length album is actually a re-release of the trilogy of EP’s they released gradually over 2020, which have been repackaged and remastered for this release and just so you don’t feel hard done by they have thrown in a re-recording of ‘Fight Against the World’ from their first album, recent single ‘Grimgotts Calling’ and an orchestral extra ‘Lost Chapters’ which helpfully powers through the story arc with a narrated section.

Musically this is an interesting Euro Power and Folk Metal fusion project, although the Power is definitely the predominate voice in the first EP. “Tales” is definitely the weakest part of this composite release, but unfortunately you need to get through it first. The four tracks, although competent have little to differentiate from each other in terms of tone and frankly if you listen to one of the four songs, you have the measure of the four.

Although, obviously written as one arc and remastered, they clearly were not recorded together as the constituent parts do sound so distinctly different and to be honest the sound improves as the arc progresses. As indeed does the writing, playing and pretty much every aspect of the recording as the team hit their stride with this second EP (and again indeed for the final part). The use of some more growling voices in the mix also helps provide some tonal contrasts, as indeed is a general upping of the Folk ante beyond the Alestorm style sea shanty nods on the “Tales” segment, with ‘Plunder, Loot And Chantey’ being the most obvious example, although the instrumental work gets way more technically proficient than you would expect from that corner of the genre. In fact, the guitar work on this segment of the album is an absolute joy, although bizarrely is more restrained elsewhere.

The final “Legends” EP segment seems to effectively fuse and balance the Power / Folk struggle and create a slightly more distinctive and cohesive, if less technical sound. The song structures are a bit cleaner too and less rambling, although overall it’s still missing a stand out lead song for everyone to wave their phone lights to when we all can finally get into a live arena (although the anthemic chorus of ‘Land of Tomorrow’ comes pretty darn close). To be honest this EP is head and shoulders above the other two, as they really seem to have found their stride with this section and the song-writing, performances and use of multiple voices make for a much stronger and more powerful delivery style. They also strike the tonal balance perfectly with these four songs, which are all very different in pace and style from each other and also do a better job of communicating the story arc. To be brutally honest, if the first two segments had been of this calibre, then overall my rating would have been much, much higher.

Of the extra tracks, ‘Fight Against the World’ achieves the one thing the three EP’s don’t quite manage – a distinctive trademark song to pull the punters in, but unfortunately given that it’s been around for a long while I can’t really count it. By the same rule ‘Grimgotts Calling’ can’t be counted either, although it’s definitely got the catchy shanty aspects down pat.

If you can get beyond the relatively weak opening segment this is entertaining and enjoyable stuff, but does lack a clear and distinctive ‘everyman’ track or two to hang your hat on in, although the extras demonstrate that they can write them perfectly well. The “Legends” EP is by far the best of the three, but hearing the arc develop has its strengths as well and overall, this is not a bad release which allows you to see a growth and progression in their work.

“Tales, Sagas & Legends” (Official Full Album)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Fight ‘Till The End
02. For The Power
03. The Dawnbringer
04. Reign Of Might
05. Northern Passage
06. Rise Again
07. Plunder, Loot & Chantey
08. Sagas
09. The Boys Of Boone
10. Land Of Tomorrow
11. The Edge Of The World (To What Lies Beyond)
12. Kinsman
13. Fight Against The World
14. Grimgotts Calling
15. Lost Chapters

LINE-UP:
Andy Barton – Vocals
David Hills – Guitars
Fabio Garau – Keyboards
Nelson Moreira – Bass
Mo Abdelgadir – Drums

LINKS:

Map of Andria
Grimgotts 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.

Krilloan – Stories Of Times Forgotten EP

Stories of Times Forgotten EP Cover Art

Krilloan – Stories Of Times Forgotten EP
Self-Released
Release Date: 21/05/2021
Running Time: 20:51
Review by Simon Black
7/10

Despite it being a sub-genre in grave danger of being over done to death, good old fashioned sword and sorcery based up tempo power metal can still be refreshing and enjoyable when done just right, and this is making a very good step in that direction. This is most definitely Melodic Euro Power Metal in the vein started by Helloween and carried valiantly forward by the many ever since, with this particular instance being the brainchild of Klas Holmgren. Somewhat bashfully, the press release states that the record is driven by “A lifelong love of Melodic Metal and mediocre recording skills”, but frankly the production works out just fine (although perhaps a little less treble next time, eh Klas?).

The five tracks on here are well crafted – which in Power terms means there’s top notch musical proficiency in the playing that seems far simpler on the surface than it actually is. When songs are written like this, they easily draw you in and allow you the absolute pleasure of peeling away the complexity, drawing more and more with each additional listen – without detracting from what got your head nodding in the first place.

Lyrically it’s classic Power fare, but what raises this above the madding crowd is the sheer energy and pace of the piece. This EP ain’t long, but it flies by in less time than the average Dream Theater song with bravado, energy and some absolutely blistering performances all round. The guitar work is absolutely top notch, but I cannot fault the technical skills of anyone else in the project – not least the soaring vocals of Alex VanTrue who effortlessly stays in the kind of top end key that got the double-glazing rattling.

An excellent start from a refreshingly energetic new act, hopefully a full album is not far behind.

‘Into The Storm’ (Lyric Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Into The Storm
02. Yggdrasil
03. Fireborn
04. Moonblade
05. Times Forgotten

LINE-UP:
Klas Holmgren – Guitars
Steve Brockmann – Lead Guitar
Alex VanTrue – Vocals
Marco Toba – Bass
David Lanas – Drums

LINKS:

Krilloan 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.

Illusory – Crimson Wreath

Crimson Wealth Album Cover Art

Illusory – Crimson Wreath
Rockshots Records
Release Date: 21/05/2021
Running Time: 01:18:00
Review by Simon Black
8/10

Crimson Wreath is the third album from these Hellenic Power Metallers and has been a while in gestation, with five years passing since 2016’s ‘Polysyllabic’. I’ve not come across them before, but I was immediately impressed by the depth of song-writing and sense of flow and structure that is liberally visible throughout the record. This is a bunch of very competent musicians, who whilst more than capable of dizzying us with technical prowess, keep it retrained and prioritise the overall songs over the individual performers. This has hints of the Progressive and the Symphonic, but they aren’t allowed to dominate and, in the same way the individual instruments are kept blended in the mix, allowing Dee Theodorou’s exceptional voice to stand front and centre in the mix. He really has a very warm and charismatic presence. I can’t stress enough the storytelling art of his delivery – you cannot help but follow the story he is telling – part of this is the way the album is mixed, but his delivery is impeccable and drives this over the line.

One downside of this approach is that despite some thundering fret and footwork, the overall mix is not particularly heavy – which is a shame as the playing here is crying out for those instruments to take a little more of the glory and cannot be faulted. I’m also pleasantly surprised at how well-crafted the album is. Despite the nearly one hour and twenty minutes run time, it does not drag in the slightest. Normally by the half way point I’m raising eyebrows and highlighting either songs or segments that might have needed some judicious pruning, but that is really not necessary here, as when Theodorou’s storytelling does take a breather, the melodic interplay between the instruments and some great backing vocals on the latter part of the album keep the flow.

Even the massive three song conceptual tracks, grouped as ‘An Opus Of Loss And Sorrow’, which could have made a record in their own right, flow beautifully and hold the attention. This album probably deserves performing in its entirety live at some point and the more I listen the more I like. Deep, melodic and brilliantly written, this is top notch stuff.

‘Besetting Sins’ (Official Lyric Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Besetting Sins
02. Acedia
03. Crimson Wreath
04. Immortal No
05. All Shall Fade
06. All Blood Red
07. The Voice Inside Me
08. S.T. Forsaken
09. Ashes To Dust
10. A Poem I Couldn’t Rhyme

An Opus Of Loss And Sorrow:
11. Pedestal I: Past Forever Last
12. Pedestal II: The Isle Of Shadows
13. Pedestal III: Agony’s Last
14. Fortress Of Sadness

LINE-UP:
Dee Theodorou – Vocals
George Papantonis – Guitars
Greg Bakos – Guitars
Niki Danos – Bass
Makis Vandoros – Keyboards
Costas Koulis – Drums

LINKS:

Illusory Band 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.

Deveria – Suicide Forest

Suicide Forest Album Cover Art

Deveria – Suicide Forest
Animated Insanity Records
Release Date: 17/03/2021
Running Time: 50:37
Review by Simon Black
6/10

Deveria describe themselves as being a Progressive Power/Thrash hybrid and are based in Upstate New York, USA. They’ve had a fairly chequered history, having originally formed in 2008, got an EP out and then disbanded for eight years, with this line up once again forming around front man Chuck Woodward. So this debut album has been a long time coming…

Musically these chaps are very, very tight. The intro track ‘The Beginning Of…’ builds up the layers of sound with some thundering drum work before launching into the full on attack of ‘Silent Cries’. The instruments keep those arrangements tight, but suffer somewhat from the production values. The problem is the vocals sound just that little too high in the mix, with the guitars in particular being in danger of being drowned out completely – particularly by the bass which is so high up in the mix that I was reminded of what happened when Iron Maiden let Steve Harris first try out the producer’s chair.

In parts I am reminded vocally of early Queensrÿche, in that period when Geoff Tate hadn’t quite taken hold of the flame with his lyrical phrasing and although that voice showed tremendous promise, the vocal lines tended to meander somewhat. Woodard does something similar – his voice has power and range but sometimes seems slightly at odds with what the music is doing. There’s a fine line between creating an element of musical tension by being half a tone out from what the melody lines are doing and sounding plain out of key, and this album walks that line once or twice – but the bigger problem is that the instrumentation is just too damned quiet. It’s actually the times when he turns on the more extreme vocal styles that he is actually at his most effective, as it forces a dirtier sound from the rest of the band and the frustrating thing is those stronger and more rounded songs are some way back in the running order. We’re well over half way through before things really get going for my money and the intermittent bursts of pure Thrash from ‘Reign of Fire’ is actually the point when the record really grabs me and starts to run.

Mostly the song writing is pretty solid, with some clever technical arrangements – the title track being a good example, but it’s really let down by that production sound, which is crying out for those guitars to be much more in your face, crunchy and dirty than the slightly too crisp and sanitised sound they have. When they do start to get a bit more down and dirty, say with ‘Kingdom of Evermore’ the effect is immediately obvious in a song that takes you along for the ride, rather than wanting to give notes of improvement. I’m far from writing these boys off though as there is enormous promise here, and no small amount of technical skill and proficiency – but desperately needs someone with a good Metal pedigree on the mixing desk to bring out the best in a more consistent manner. Nonetheless a very promising start.

‘Suicide Forest’ (Official video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Beginning Of…
02. Silent Cries
03. Suicide Forest
04. Fate
05. Demons Inside Me
06. Reign of Fire
07. Kingdom of Evermore
08. Miracles
09. IX
10. One Nation
11. …The End

LINE-UP:
Chuck Woodard – Lead Vocals
John Suski – Drums
Marvin Veeder – Bass
Christian Bivona – Guitar

LINKS:

Deveria Promo Picture

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.