Avaland – Theater Of Sorcery

Theater Of Sorcery Album Cover Art

Avaland – Theater Of Sorcery
Rockshots Records
Release Date: 02/04/2021
Running Time: 62:53
Review by Beth Jones
8/10

France is not necessarily the first country I think of when it comes to exciting European metal. But recently there seems to be a heck of a lot of good music coming out from bands based there. And Avaland is certainly no exception to this rule. The brainchild of Adrien G. Gzagg, Avaland is an Epic/Symphonic Heavy Metal Opera project, and their first album, “Theater Of Sorcery,” has just landed. Now, this genre, I know, can be pretty chalk and cheese. Some people love it, some just think it’s pretentious. Personally, I can’t get enough of it! It is lavish joyfulness, created by melding together musical artforms, in a way that would make the ancient apothecaries fawn! So, what does this latest offering from the guilty pleasure gods bring? Well let’s find out!

“Theatre Of Sorcery” is a tale of adventure; the story of a young sorcerer, Adam Wilstorm, on a quest to bring back the light to the kingdom of Avaland. But, to succeed, he must learn to harness the storm within his powers. It’s a huge production, and a pretty astonishing composition, as Adrien is only 22! And it features some well-healed guest stars, too; Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear), Zak Stevens (Savatage/TSO), Zaher Zorgati (Myrath), Emmanuelson (Rising Steel), Stéphan Forté (Adagio), and Madie (Nightmare) to name but a few.

The album begins with the title track, which sets the scene for this grand production. It’s theatrical and I can imagine it looking spectacular on a stage. Musically, it’s good solid Heavy Metal, with a twist of Power, and Symphonic. In places, it almost reminds me of Jeff Wayne’s “War Of The Worlds,” but with a heavier, metal twist.

Good solid Metal anthems pepper this album, but they’re embellished with classical orchestration, choral harmonies, and traditional folk instruments, that sit in the mix, making for a very exuberant and indulgent feast of musical joy. But alongside that are crunching riffs and rhythms that you just have to bang your head to. And what Epic theatrical metal opera masterpiece would be complete without some face-melting guitar solos? Well, certainly not this one, as they’re also there by the bucket load, courtesy of some big-name guitarists.

I think my favourite track on the album is ‘Deja-Vu’. It starts with a solitary melancholy piano, but quickly launches into a powerful rhythmic track, with melodic verses, and peaks and troughs that make it punchy and exciting. It also has one of those delicious guitar solos that I alluded to earlier. I’m going to skirt over the fact that this track fades out at the end. As you’ll know, this is one of my pet hates, so there was a touch of inner turmoil for me with this, because I really like it!! I will also add that it’s not the only song to succumb to the dreaded fade out.

Production wise, no corners have been cut either. Placing of instruments, panning, and effects are all used to their full potential, to explore the depth and expansiveness of recorded music, making this a much more mature album than you’d expect from a debut penned by someone of such a tender young age. (I am almost green with envy right now! At 22 I could barely write a second-rate pop song, let alone an entire metal opera!) There’s nothing new or groundbreaking about this album, but if the likes of Avantasia do it for you, then you’ll love this album.

‘Theater Of Sorcery’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Theater Of Sorcery (feat. Emmanuelson)
02. Gypsum Flower (feat. Scheepers/Emmanuelson/Zorgati)
03. Let the Wind Blow (feat. Zorgati/Heli/Kanji)
04. Storyteller (feat. Zak Stevens)
05. Escape To Paradise (feat. Zorgati/Kanji)
06. Holy Kingdom Of Fools (feat. Jeff Kanji)
07. Never Let Me Walk Alone (feat. Madie)
08. Deja-Vu (feat. Emmanuelson)
09. I’ll Be Ready For Your Love (feat. Heli Andrea)
10. War Of Minds (feat. Zorgati/Madie)
11. Rise From The Ashes (feat. Zorgati/ Madie/ Stevens/ Heli/ Kanji/ Emmanuelson/ Scheepers)

LINE-UP:
Adrien G. Gzagg – Composer, Writer, Lead Singer, Keyboards and Orchestrations
Christophe Feutrier – Guitars
Lucas Martinez – Guitars
Camille Souffron – Bass, Double-Bass
Léo Mouchonay – Drums

Guests / Characters:
Adrien G. Gzagg – Adam Wilstorm
Zaher Zorgati (Myrath) – Adam’s Inner Voice
Jeff Kanji – Jacob Reiser, Adam’s Best Friend
Heli Andrea (Mobius/Olane) – Solveig Elweiss, Adam’s Beloved
Emmanuelson (Rising Steel/Ellipsis) – The Master Of Sorcery
Zak Stevens (Ex-Savatage/TSO/Archon Angel) – The Storyteller, appearing form the past
Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear/ex-Gamma Ray) – Aloïsius Jestens, King Of Avaland
Madie (Nightmare/Faith In Agony) – The Guardian Angel

Guests Guitars:
Ricky Marx (Ex-Pretty Maids/Now Or Never) on ‘Theater Of Sorcery’
Stéphan Forté (Adagio) on ‘Gypsum Flower’
Ayman Mokdad (Venus Syndrome/Alien Encounters) on ‘Never Let Me Walk Alone’
Virgile (ex-Rising Steel/Schräpnel) on ‘Deja-Vu’

LINKS:

Avaland 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.

Blue Hour Ghosts – Due

Due Album Cover Art

Blue Hour Ghosts – Due
Rockshots Records
Release Date: 12/02/2021
Running Time: 38:59
Review by Dark Juan
8/10

Salut! I trust you are all having the most splendid day imaginable? Yes? Excellent. You find I, Dark Juan, in a most agreeable humour considering I have work tomorrow and I am in fact sober even though Argos (a particular shop in the UK, fans from other climes) were having what could only be described as a twat of a day considering their IT systems were down and no fucker could buy anything. This was annoying because I need to buy a hairdryer. Not for me, you understand, as I am somewhat follically challenged (but this just makes me a more streamlined and sleeker killing machine), but because I am SICK TO DEATH of Mrs Dark Juan’s hair trying to kill me while I sleep by infiltrating my throat. Honestly, her hair leads a semi-independent life all of its own and it is frequently homicidal. One wonders whether it would rank among the more unusual deaths ever recorded by West Yorkshire Police when it finally succeeds in its quest to off me and it will probably have half consumed my corpse by the time the plod get here. It once spat out an entire tortilla chip at me once. I shit you not. Also, I have been subject to some mockery from the leek and dragon enthusiast part of Team Ever Metal and other Welsh friends (MANY, many Welsh friends), due to a load of blokes named variously Jones, Davies or Griffiths chasing a funny shaped ball around a field better than us Saesnegs whilst wearing worryingly tight shorts. But the English do that too.

Three hundred words and I haven’t told you a damned thing about the music. Well, if you insist… Today’s offering comes from the land of Ferraris, Birra Moretti, and Cristina Scabbia (sigh…). Yes, Blue Hour Ghosts are from Modena in Italy, and I am listening to their sophomore offering “Due”, which is “Two” for all you dastardly souls who have never bothered to learn another language. Pay attention, you at the back, there will be a test later.

The record kicks off with ‘Walking Backwards’ and I am immediately smacked in the face with shimmering, very 80’s sounding keyboards and a clean (as in doesn’t sound like the vocalist is straining to have a colossal chilli fuelled shit, or more worryingly sounding like he’s on a very gruff vinegar stroke) singer over a meaty riff. I have returned to the righteous path of metal after a sojourn into the realms of industrial and the frankly whacked out bonkers barmy. However, rather than return to the world of the extreme, I have chosen the more melodic and grandiose path that Blue Hour Ghosts tread. Employing a sound that is a melange of Katatonia, Porcupine Tree, more than a little Coheed And Cambria (in the arrangement of the songs) and a soupcon of Paradise Lost, BHG are never going to be a particularly violent band. What they do have are pretty good songwriting chops and a fine grasp of English compared to my woeful knowledge of Italian. I always find it mightily impressive when non-native English speakers create songs in English when I could just about ask for two beers in their language (and can’t even do that in Afrikaans).

Further on into the record there is ‘Lower The Wires’ which marries an epic vocal from Ricky DC and a massive fucking chorus over keyboards inspired by Rammstein in parts, what with the way they swirl and prowl below the dual guitar attack of Diego Angeli and Francesco Poggi. This is actually a record that is somewhat greater than the sum of its parts – When I read the blurb and it said it was melodic metal, I was prepared to be unimpressed, because quite a lot of melodic metal is frankly a bag of shite and needs actual proper talent to make it work. Thankfully, BHG have the talent to make it work and work well. A lot of credit goes to keyboard batterer Simome Pedrazzi for this because his keyboards are never less than stunning, forming Rammstein-esque stabbings and eerie atmosphere before morphing into huge, skyrocketing, coruscating walls of sound that counterpoint the chunky riffing of the guitars superbly, but never overwhelm the band entirely. The vocal harmonies are also fucking brilliant, reminding me of Coheed And Cambria when they are sung in higher registers. ‘Damn Wrong’ is also a good, slowly rocking, melancholy tune that really reminds me of “One Second” era Paradise Lost, having the black misery and nihilism that the Yorkshire miserabilists made famous. I could really picture Nick Holmes singing this song and being as I am a BIT of a fan of Paradise Lost, this is not really a demerit.

Production wise this record is actually pretty damned good. Production and engineering has been ably handled by Giuseppe Bassi, of Fear Factory notability. His handling of the bass guitar of Matteo Malmusi is especially noteworthy as it is easily audible but doesn’t overpower the rest of the band and is a writhing, sinuous underpoint to the music rather than just something there to give the music a bit of a fat arse. However, the drums sound lifeless and artificial (although very competently played) and the china cymbal really can grate somewhat as it appears to have developed a superiority complex over the rest of the percussion and decided that it should be the ONLY cymbal that is heard. Some of the song arrangements can also be a little…choppy on key changes and middle eights but these are really minor gripes compared to the expansive songs and sound that the band enjoy on this record.

So, Italy proves once again to us that the metal scene there is vibrant and wide-ranging. There’s clearly more to the Italian scene than just Lacuna Coil and Corpsefucking Art and I’m looking forward to dipping my toes in further. Forza Italia!!!

Yes, it is fair to say that I am actually more than a little impressed by Blue Hour Ghosts. Solid, experimental, heavy and melodic as well, they cover most bases that excite this perennial enfant terrible and the sex wee quotient is fairly high. While we aren’t going to experience flooding, as Calderdale Council have invested heavily in sex wee flood defences since the last time (that was The Machinist’s fault) the quantity is sufficient to call town planners’ decisions into question about whether they can build houses on the flood plain at the bottom of the hill. This is music that you would play on an epic roadtrip around the warmer climes of Europe with the top down at dusk. I like it.

A lot.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (Il sistema brevettato di valutazione degli schizzi di sangue Dark Juan – fuck it. Close enough. I’m sure the gentlemen will correct my Italian if they read what I have written about them) has been pleasantly shocked and awards Blue Hour Ghosts 8/10 for a damned fine melodic metal record with melancholy overtones. Surprising and excellent.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Walking Backwards
02. On Black Clouds
03. Dead In August
04. Damn Wrong
05. Shine
06. Fearless
07. Lower The Wires
08. Disheartened
09. Involved/Bored

LINE-UP:
Ricky DC – Vocals
Diego Angeli – Guitars
Francesco Poggi – Guitars
Simome Pedrazzi – Keyboards
Matteo Malmusi – Bass
Andrew Gunner – Drums

LINKS:

Blue Hour Ghosts Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of ‘Dark Juan’ 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.

Victoria K – Live Isolation Concert

Live Isolation Concert DVD Cover Art

Victoria K – Live Isolation Concert
Rockshots Records
Release Date: 29/01/2021
Running Time: 36:00
Review by Simon Black
7/10

This pandemic has been a nightmare for bands who had big debuts planned for 2021. So, you build an underground following, you become a ‘thing’ in your local Melbourne area (in the state of Victoria, natch), you get your long-awaited debut out…and then the world goes to hell in a hand basket. I feel for these guys, as the uphill journey got three times harder, so I am really appreciative of the fact that with the odds stacked against them and a debut record that hasn’t had the benefit of any touring and juicy support slots to get them pushed the band have forged ahead and done a lockdown gig, which is now available on DVD and CD. Frustratingly, all we have been given from the visual side is a short montage of clips from the DVD, so my comments are really based on the music release.

Musically, Victoria K are Symphonic Metal in the Within Temptation snorting Evanescence mould, but mix things up with the addition of some good old extreme grunts from guest vocalist Sheri Vengeance, and the songs, where both of them are given full reign to play off of each other, work really well. I reviewed the “Essentia” album last year and felt that it was a bit let down by production woes and some very average guitar work and given that the material played here is exactly the same (albeit in a different sequence), I was curious to see how this would come off live. The answer is ‘much better’. Actually changing the sequence helps, as another challenge I had with “Essentia” is that the musical tone was fairly samey on record, which is avoided here by a better running order, the presence of the extra pair of lungs and the interplay between the two front women.

And all this despite the fact that the sound mix is very rough and ready, as the two vocalists really have the opportunity to shine. Fortunately, there’s enough live clips to make it clear that the production quality doesn’t matter so much, because they clearly had a blinder playing this, the atmosphere generated is electric and although the guitars are (like the studio record) a bit too far back in the mix the net effect works well because the vocalists utterly hold your attention. The band aren’t big enough to really afford a major production for this performance, but they somehow make this work.

‘Freaks’ (Taken From ‘Live Isolation Concert’)

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Haunting
02. Mist Filled Sky
03. Forsaken
04. Humanity
05. Surreal
06. Freaks
07. Shroud of Solitude
08. Lacuna
09. Freedom Uncharted
10. Matrix

LINE-UP:
Victoria K – Vocals
Sheri Vengeance – Extreme Vocals (Black Like Vengeance, ex. Ne Obliviscaris)
Julia Mammone – Guitar (Enlight)
Martin Kawaler – Bass (Black Like Vengeance, ex Ten Thousand)
James Davies – Drums

LINKS:

Victoria K 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.

From The Depth – Moments

From The Depth – Moments
Rockshots Records
Release Date: 28/08/2020
Running Time: 48:44
Review by Beth Jones
8/10

Many things in life give me pleasure – I’m a cheerful soul like that – but music is top of the list every time. So, the volume of awesomeness that is popping up in the various scenes around the world currently makes Beth a happy girl indeed! And if there’s one thing that makes me exceedingly happy, it’s a good dose of Power Metal. It’s impossible to be angry when listening to it, I find! Pacey rhythms, face-melting guitar solos, and powerful harmonies are a match made in heaven/hell/nirvana/eutopia/the pub/other (delete as appropriate to indicate ‘happy place’ preference).

So, as you can imagine, I’m rather enjoying “Moments”, the upcoming release from Italian Power Metallers, From The Depth. The path, since forming in 2008 as a Power Metal covers band, has been turbulent for these guys, and it has been 6 years since they released their last EP, “Perseverance”. This new full-length album explores some of those ‘moments’ in their lives and in the history of the band.

Musically, this has got everything you would expect from Power Metal. It’s punchy and thunderous from the get-go. It melds string sections and ethereal synth and keys, with thumping crunchy riffs and plenty of bass, and sits clean vocals and harmonies nicely on top of everything else. Structurally, the songs explore rhythm and key change sections in a very pleasing way, exploring major and minor cadences and creating unexpected chord progressions and resolutions. It’s musically clever, and I like that. These guys have spent a lot of time thinking about how these songs all fit together, and how each component of every song sits within the sound.

They’re also very technically skilled with their instruments – the guitar solo in ‘Missed’ shows this off perfectly. Production wise, it’s pretty hot too. It’s not as diverse with the placing of instruments as some of the recent stuff I’ve been listening to, but then, it’s Power Metal – it’s supposed to hit you straight in the face, right?!

My favourite track on the album is the final track, ‘Somewhere’. It has a real change in pace from the rest, being a ballad. But it soars, and Raffo’s vocals are incredible on it. His tone is beautifully rich, and his range is ridiculous. His journey from lower, exquisite tenor tones, to off the scale falsetto is insane! As a vocalist, it fills me with joy and envy in equal measures. It’s an incredibly powerful and cinematic song, and brings the album to a very tidy close.

While this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and is very much rooted in standard Power Metal boots, “Moments” is heartfelt and refined, and well worth a listen.

TRACKLISTING
01. Immortal
02. Spread Your Wings
03. Ten Years
04. Streets of Memory
05. Hypnos
06. Forget And Survive
07. Just Ice
08. Missed
09. A Matter of Time
10. Somewhere

LINE-UP
Raffo – Vocals
Santo – Bass
Jump – Guitar
Simone – Guitar
Cristiano – Drums

LINKS
www.fromthedepth.it/
www.facebook.com/fromthedepthband
www.twitter.com/officialftd
www.instagram.com/fromthedepthband
www.youtube.com/user/FromTheDepthOfficial
www.open.spotify.com/artist/6JfcvrXjV5ED87KSbGELqc
www.music.apple.com/us/artist/from-the-depth/467056211

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.

Victoria K- Essentia

Victoria K- Essentia
Rockshots Records
Release Date: 24/04/2020
Running Time: 36:17
Review by Tsarina Wilson
10/10

Wow, well this is what I call a good start to my day by listening and being able to review the album “Essentia” by Australian band Victoria K. I then decided to check out some of their videos on YouTube and no wonder they have such a great reputation…

The Melbourne singer/songwriter first released her debut single ‘Monster’ in 2016 featuring guitar work by John Farnham band member Brett Garsed along with her 2019 follow up track ‘Lacuna’, this was distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Warner Music Group (Australia) and was the lead single off this album. This track gained a great amount of interest and media praise creating an opportunity for Victoria K to support Swiss folk metal giants Eluveitie for their May 2019 date in Melbourne. This was received so well the crowd were chanting for an encore. (That one I totally understand)

The idea was for a solo project, but this has developed into the current band structure with each member bringing their own energy, presence and skills to the project

Victoria K added; “I really hope that when our fans and new listeners hear the album, they can all find something they can connect with on a deeper level (Oh yes, I have definitely found that). Whether that connection is found from within the music itself or from specific lyrics, I really hope they find something familiar, which can connect them to some experience they have had, invoking memories and feelings, eliciting an emotional response”

Whilst Victoria K’s talented songwriting and compositional influences include Evanescence, Within Temptation, Nightwish and Kamelot amongst others, they have also racked up hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube with their own creations. They have also covered such songs as ‘The Trooper’ (Iron Maiden) and ‘Nothing Else Matters’ (Metallica) and after checking these out the word ‘wow’ just doesn’t seem enough of a description for this band

Okay, back to “Essentia” (which is Latin for ‘essence’)! I could say it starts of gently then builds into a great album, but I can’t lie…it starts off in epic fashion and keeps going all the way through with no let up. With, what seem like, effortless and crystal-clear vocals, but with an immense amount of power Victoria K shines. Yes, you can kind of hear the influences of Nightwish and Kamelot etc, but Victoria K definitely, and collectively, makes this style their own. Apart from Victoria K the band (on the album) consists of Extreme Vocals from Sheri Vengeance (Black Like Vengeance, ex Ne Obliviscaris), who can be heard on three tracks, the aforementioned guitarist Brett Garsed, bassist Rich Panaia (except on the track ‘Lacuna’ where bass is provided by Chris Rourke), drummer Gerry Pantazis and keyboard, piano and synth man Lee Bradshaw. The Budapest Scoring Orchestra also make an appearance conducted by Zoltán Pad.

For those who have not seen any of the videos released for “Essentia” and were expecting the stereotypical band of a female lead singer, some metal looking guys in the background and a tattooed and grizzled looking bloke singing the extreme vocals, well, take a look and be as shocked as I was as theses vocals are sung by female Sheri Vengeance and ‘oh my god’ she is utterly amazing, it’s like Evanescence meeting Slipknot in a dark alley and it blows your mind, and eardrums, when listening to it through earphones…ouch. Memo to self, next time turn the volume down slightly!

‘Freedom Uncharted’ kicks the album off and it immediately makes you sit up and take notice, it’s hypnotic and then ‘Surreal’ hits you into next weekend. It has a Middle Eastern twist at its finale, and I was thinking ‘mmm, okay, what can they throw at me next’, only to be greeted by breath-taking track after breath-taking track, there seriously is no let up here. ‘Shroud Of Solitude’, which features Michalina Malisz from Eluveitie on Hurdy Gurdy, gives you a few minutes to catch your breath but it’s still outstanding! My favourite track has to be ‘Freaks’. It starts with keyboards that sound almost like a musical box then…boom, another track that hits you, once again, with a vocal range that is just so clear and powerful.

At no time do the guitars, bass or drums take anything away from the vocals but they are still so clear and blend seamlessly. There is so much emotion in all of the performances, things I can relate to and, hopefully, many others can as well, which is exactly what Victoria K wanted. The track ‘Humanity’ so needs to be used as an end film credit sequence. This song is so powerful and haunting and when you listen to it, you can feel/see the orchestra with the band standing out front (any film directors out there please listen and take note)! Another standout performance on the album is the drumming. Gerry Pantazis must have had smoke coming out of his kit in some places, man can that guy drum!

While we are on the subject of powerful and beautiful things, I have to talk about the album artwork. There has to be merchandise with this image on…please, and if/when there is, I will be getting some, wow just wow! It’s not every day you are blown away by such a great band. They have picked up everything conventional about this genre, thrown it out of the window and made it their own! Stereotypical? Hell no…talented? Hell yes…leaving you wanting more? Without a doubt!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Freedom Uncharted (Feat Sheri Vengeance)
02. Surreal
03. Forsaken (Feat Sheri Vengeance)
04. Matrix (Feat Sheri Vengeance)
05. Shroud of Solitude (feat Michalina Malisz from Eluveitie)
06. The Haunting
07. Freaks
08. Mist Filled
09. Humanity
10. Lacuna

LINKS:
www.victoriakmusicofficial.com/
www.facebook.com/victoriakofficial/
www.twitter.com/VictoriaK2004
www.instagram.com/victoria_k_official/
www.victoriak1.bandcamp.com/releases
www.spotify.com/artist/39zoIuFDfHJOQnqAFudiRI
www.youtube.com/channel/UC4hQDGDErqcmakKo-wVjWoA

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Tsarina Wilson 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.

Blame Zeus – Seethe

Seethe Cover

Blame Zeus – Seethe
Rockshots Records
Release Date: 08/11/2019
Running Time: 45:37
Review by ‘Dark Juan’
8/10

Good afternoon, my children of the nether face of God. I am Dark Juan, and I bring you this epistle from the dark satanic mills of West Yorkshire, rather than the Brittany countryside. There were no more church altars to defile or virgins left. I’d worked through them all… Yes, I have returned to our sceptred isle of Great Britain permanently because rural France is boring. All those people in Blighty who thought they were safe from my tender ministrations should now be quietly crapping themselves because I have returned with vengeance on my mind, murder in my heart and a total lack of beer to mitigate any bad temper. In other news, there are probably a whole lot of other people fearing my return for other reasons – like workmates who will soon be being subjected to my rapid, unintelligible and insane gabbling due to acute caffeine sensitivity and a requirement for a LOT of coffee when working 48 hour shifts. I am also writing my memoirs. Ex-girlfriends and shitbags who have done me wrong – quake in your metaphorical boots, you set of twats!

Ah, the blessed relief of a good and satisfying rant.

I’ll be honest here, I chose to review this Portuguese prog metal band named Blame Zeus simply because “Blame Zeus!” is a familiar and tediously repetitive refrain in Dark Juan Towers (excuse me, it’s Dark Juan Terrace now!) when looking at a severely depleted bank balance. Normally when Sir Zeusington Zeus VC, DFC and Bar, Croix de Guerre, MM, KCVG has cost us another £80 to get medicine to get him to shit out whatever inedible object he has ingested this time. This is something that happens frequently. Which leads us clumsily into a segue deciding whether Blame Zeus are shit or not. I’m good at this writing lark, me.

This album is named “Seethe”. Opening song “How To Successfully Implode” was not what I was expecting when reading the blurb I got with the album. I was expecting sub-grade Lacuna Coil copyism with added twiddly bits. What I actually got was a fucking kick-ass heavy metal track from an instantly likeable band. I’m always suspicious of a band that labels themselves progressive, because prog done right is absolutely magical. Prog done wrong is a bunch of musicians disappearing rapidly up their own arses playing freeform jazz solos on eight string guitars WHILE SOME PIXIE WAILS ABOUT FUCKING FAIRIES AND TROLLS AND OTHER FANTASY SHIT AND THE DRUMMER IS PLAYING 5/4 TIME! Pardon me and my shouting, I am writing this review sober. This is a rare occurrence.

Vocalist Sandra Oliveira is excellent throughout the record. She is a barrel lunged chanteuse who is best described as a combination of Cristina Scabbia with more vocal control and the much loved (in Dark Juan’s twisted black gutter of a soul, anyway) Helen Vogt of the late and lamented Flowing Tears, and the band’s command of English is actually superb. It is relevant to note this because I now know at first hand just how difficult it is to communicate in another language, let alone compose and create in one. Bonus marks for intelligence…

Blame Zeus’ music is difficult to describe accurately. I wouldn’t say its progressive metal. I’d say its heavy metal with progressive elements. The riffs are meaty and satisfying, the production quality very good (if bass heavy, my poor headphones were buzzing like a swarm of seriously perturbed hornets on more than one occasion – I think the producer of the record is possibly a devotee of Phil Spector’s wall of sound) with generally excellent clarity apart from the previously mentioned overwhelming of my cans, and the musical arrangements inventive – and this is where the progressive elements part of my description comes in – in the middle eight of the song, or in the intro and start of a song is where you’ll find the most progressive sounds. Apart from ‘The Warden’. This song could be off any Tool album in the “Aenemia, Lateralus” and “10,000 Days” era. Luckily, these are splendid benchmarks to be judged against, so please do not count this as a demerit. ‘The Crown And The Gun’ has an extremely unusual start where it sounds like a bizarre three way musical coupling of Muse, Tool and Alice In Chains before the guitars kick in and lay you out with a hobnailed boot to the solar plexus. The solo on this tune is extremely prog though – all Eastern sounding before Sandra launches into ethereal wailing with lashings of reverb, chorus and echo before the song is dragged kicking and screaming back into the glorious light of metal and reminded what it actually is, which is a fucking heavy metal song and its only reason for existence is to be spectacularly violent and to cause ears to bleed. Which it did!

I like Blame Zeus. They were a fortuitous choice to review. Highlights are the opening song, which is an absolute heavy fucking metal triumph, ‘Down To Our Bones’ which has some excellent interplay between male and female vocals and ‘The Crown And The Gun’ which I believe represents EXACTLY what Blame Zeus are aiming for. I want to hear a lot more. I love Sandra’s voice, which is operatic without being overpowering, the music because it is after all heavy metal with added intelligence and the band sounding like they are enjoying themselves. There is far too much totally po-faced prog metal that causes this hellpriest to imagine the band spending hours discussing how to synocapte the drums in the most obscure time signature possible whilst sipping green tea and complaining that seven notes are simply not enough, before crapping out some 22 minute “song” about the siege of the Elven Kingdom of Walpurgia by the Orken Hordes of Shitbaggium. Anyway, Blame Zeus are good. If you like bands like Tool, Visions Of Atlantis, Flowing Tears and the like, then you will like them too. That was a deliberate attempt to see how many grammatically correct “likes” I could fit into a single sentence. You should buy their records. Do it. Do it NOW.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System would have done this bit in Portuguese, but doesn’t have Google Translate as we are currently sans internet (maybe the mighty beast of metal that is Victor Augusto of Ever Metal fame will be able to assist!) awards Blame Zeus a thoroughly disreputable 8/10 for an hell of an enjoyable record.

TRACKLISTING:
01. How To Successfully Implode
02. Déjà Vu
03. Down To Our Bones
04. White
05. Bloodstained Hands
06. The Obsession Lullaby
07. Into The Womb
08. No
09. The Warden
10. The Crown And The Gun

LINE-UP:
Sandra Oliveira – Voice
Ricardo Silveira – Drums
Paulo Silva – Guitar
Tiago Lascasas – Guitar
Celso Oliveira – Bass

LINKS:
https://www.facebook.com/BlameZeus/

https://www.instagram.com/blamezeus/
https://blamezeus.bandcamp.com/

https://www.youtube.com/user/BlameZeusband

 

Promo Pic1

 

 

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan 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.

Dark Avenger – The Beloved Bones: Hell

The Beloved Bones Cover

Dark Avenger – The Beloved Bones: Hell
Rockshots Records
Release Date: 13/07/2017
Running Time: 56:45
Review by Victor Augusto
9.5/10

Every time when I try to express what I think about Dark Avenger it is always hard for me. Maybe it is because their music helped me to stay strong in difficult periods of my life or maybe because I have a friendship with them. The fact of the matter is the band are legends in Brazil which makes it even more difficult but let me try to do it again.

The band was created in the early nineties and fast reached strong success with their Traditional Heavy Metal. Albums like “Dark Avenger” (1995) and “Tales of Avalon – The Terror” (2001) are considered the classic ones. After a short hiatus they returned in this decade and released the incredible final part of “Tales of Avalon-The Lament” in 2013, but in 2017 things changed. A reformulated band showed to the world a new ambitious saga and all tales and epical stories were left behind. Now the main subject was human inner conflicts and the music became much more aggressive.

All lyrics are a soliloquy that consists as a mental dialogue between REASON and EMOTION. Those two are the main characters here. REASON strongly attacks EMOTION and complains about a non-reaction from him to leave some specific suffering or problem. In the first instance, EMOTION flees and denies it. There is not a specific issue mentioned in the lyrics, considering that “hell” could be any kind of martyr of a normal life. Each song is a different mental stage. It goes from “unconscious” until REASON and EMOTION stop to verbally hurt themselves and start to fight together against all the problems to finally reach “freedom”.

Musically, this album shows an aggressive Dark Avenger. The guitar works from Glauber Oliveira and Hugo Santiago are amazing. They created plenty of complex riffs and solos with many progressive parts. Gustavo Magalhães has some great bass lines to complement the rhythmic parts as in ‘Nihil Mind’. There is an orchestral addition alongside the songs with a dense atmosphere. Everything sounds heavy in this album. Mario Linhares voice is famous for his high range notes, but this time he perfectly chose a more emotional interpretation of it, in a perfect DIO style and he even uses few guttural screams.

Just the three first songs ‘The Beloved Bones’, ‘Smile Back to Me’ and ‘King for A Moment’ are enough to feel how incredible this album is, but ‘Parasite’ deserves a special mention. It is the most aggressive and brutal song I’ve heard from Dark Avenger so far. The final part of the album has the amazing ‘Purple Letter’ as a farewell meaning. ‘Sola Mors Liberat’ finishes the battle and leaves the space opened for the beautiful and acoustic ballad ‘When Shadow Falls’.

“The Beloved Bones-Hell” shows an unknown Dark Avenger. It reveals a more brutal and obscure side from them and created expectation for the second part, supposed to be the “Divine” part. The band was preparing a European tour and this record was elected the best album in many Brazilian metal magazines and websites in 2017. Sadly, the singer Mario Linhares, the only original member, suddenly died in December of this same year.

Despite all the pain of loss, he left a legacy called Dark Avenger and he will always be remembered by his fans and friends. My first review for Ever Metal couldn’t be different. It is not the first time I have written about this album and it is still as hard as it was two years ago. The difference now is all the tears are dry. This review is dedicated to Mario Linhares and all people who love him.

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Beloved Bones
02. Smile Back to Me
03. King for a Moment
04. This Loathsome Carcass
05. Parasite
06. Breaking Up, Again
07. Empowerment
08. Nihil Mind
09. Purple Letter
10. Sola Mors Liberat
11. When Darkness Fall

LINE-UP:
Mario Linhares (R.I.P.) – Vocals
Glauber Oliveira – Guitars
Hugo Santiago – Guitars
Gustavo Magalhães – Bass
Anderson Soares – Drums

LINKS:
https://www.facebook.com/darkavengerofficial/

 

Dark Avenger

 

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Victor Augusto 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.

North of South – New Latitudes

new latitudes cover

North Of South – New Latitudes
Rockshots Records
Release Date: 28/09/2018
Running Time: 33:46
Reviewer Tsarina Wilson
7/10

North Of South, from Spain, was founded by guitarist Chechu Gomez (aka Chechu Nos) and he brings so much to the table musically. This album “New Latitudes” isn’t just pure rock. It is the complete package of metal, with a hint of pop and a dash of Latin influence, all mixed together with great guitar riffs, insane drumming, and both English and Spanish lyrics and so makes for a very powerful album.

The nine tracks on “New Latitudes” cover more than one genre and the changes from one to the other are effortless. There is an almost flamenco hint on some of the tracks, and you really don’t know what’s coming next.

It is truly refreshing to have tracks such as ‘Time Will Tell’, proving Chechu Nos’ voice can range from deep, harsh and gravelly to crystal clear and the incredible drumming makes you wonder how fast the poor guy was actually playing (it sounded exhausting to me). With vocals switching between Spanish and English, you are given a whole new view on “New Latitudes”. It is strangely refreshing that this is not a run of the mill metal album as it just has so much to give. The album has depth yet isn’t overpowering, guitar solos which are just mad, flamenco overtones to the sound, and then changes back to metal all in the same song!! I think it’s safe to say this is truly a different kind of metal.

As a personal preference, I would have loved a few more tracks but we don’t always get what we want and let’s hope, with the intense tracks on this album, there will be plenty more releases in the pipeline. After listening to “New Latitudes” I’m not sure if I should be in a mosh pit or doing flamenco or even trying to create a mix of both! That would make for an interesting dance!

“New Latitudes” was recorded at Zoilo Unreal’s Studios (Marin Spain) which is familiar with the Spanish extreme metal scene, having been involved with bands like Unreal Overflows, The Anthagonist and Unhuman Nature.

On the whole, “New Latitudes” is great, with so many different genres covered and yet such a great listen and it’s all wrapped up in one album.

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Human Equation
02. Nobody Knows
03. Balance Paradox
04. Before We Die
05. Crystal Waters
06. There’s No Glamour In Death
07. Time Will Tell
08. Faith Is Not A Hope
09. Montreux

LINKS:

promo pic1

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Tsarina Wilson 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.