Apostolica – Haeretica Ecclesia

Haeretica Ecclesia Album Cover Art

Apostolica – Haeretica Ecclesia
Scarlet Records
Release Date: 17/09/2021
Running Time: 50:04
Review by Simon Black
8/10

Apostolica are a band with a bit of a buzz about them at the moment, although I’m very wary of the word ‘buzz’, because it’s a little too close to the entry for ‘hype’ in my thesaurus. As I often blather away on here, European Power Metal bands are churning records out at a crazy rate of knots all the time, despite the fact that in both America and especially here in the UK, they are very much a niche taste by comparison to other sub-genres of our wonderful metallum familiae. The phrase ‘cookie-cutter’ is often deployed when reviewing a fair few of them, but in reality ‘sausage-factory’ might be closer to the truth, given the sheer volume of acts and albums cranking the handle right now. When you have a crowded marketplace the risk of repetition and derivation is incredibly high and on the face of it this is a band, that sounds like Powerwolf and Sabaton, whilst borrowing the concepts both lyrically and visually of medieval masquerade and anonymity that Ghost have done so well…

…And those masks look great by the way, suiting the theme of “modern day knights of the Apocalypse” down to a tee, with ‘Meliora’-era matching Nameless Ghoul styled suits and hard, fixed black medieval death masks – but with the chin kept free for vocal movement (not to mention being a darn site cooler to wear). Ah well, there’s plenty of knobbly bits to hang a medical grade surgical mask on if needed…

I’m perhaps being a bit harsh here, as this is a band on their debut album (although by all accounts experienced musos make up their anonymous ranks) and I am judging this without any opportunity to understand if the positive parts of their reputation came from the live arena, since no-one has seen them perform yet (and to be clear when reviewing a new band I often try and track down live snippets online rather than watching their official videos). The derivation ceases to be an issue when a belter of a live show is unfolding, as the influences often just move into the background if the band are ripping you a new bum hole on stage, but in this instance I have only the record to go on.

Musically this is anthemic Power Metal with every track underscored with church organ orchestrations – which is a bit unfortunate really since Powerwolf just delivered the masterclass in this style with their ‘Call Of The Wild’ album a few months ago (although to be fair those boys have had six increasingly accomplished studio albums to polish their style and that record may well prove to be their peak). Add to this sound is a much gruffer vocal delivery more akin to that of Sabaton’s Joakim Brodén and lyrically Tobias Forge deserves an influential credit. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with what they are doing here, it’s just they aren’t quite doing it as well as those three big influences…

…Yet.

But then, it is early days, and more theatrical bands are stealing the glory right now, and I reserve the right to eat an appropriately chocolaty knight’s helmet when I do finally get to see them live. And to be clear, I think that would be worth waiting for, as musically these boys know how to crank the handle well, although for some bizarre reason all the best tracks don’t really start to surface until the album is over half way through. From ‘No More Place In Hell’ onwards, the anthemic first punching gets going with a vengeance, the arrangements get tighter and this starts to sound like a band well on their way to forging a strong individual sound of their own. What makes the difference is the harmonised ensemble choruses, which sound like the whole band are contributing to and unlike the discordance that often accompanies a bunch or rough and ready metallers doing backing grunts, these guys manage a pretty good choral harmony together. More of this please.

Add to the fact that the arrangements jump up a notch from this point on and I find myself having a completely different listening experience. It doesn’t let up after this, with the moody and elegantly structured ‘The Doom’ driving things forward superbly. After that, Simon is a happy bunny, but clearly next time around a bit more time is going to be needed on pre-production, and I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt here and assuming that Covid fucked this up, as it really is an album of two halves. Deliver a whole album with the punch of the second half, and these boys are going to build a reputation that makes winging old hacks like me bitching about their influences irrelevant. A promising start…

‘Sanctus Spiritus’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Sanctus Spiritus
02. The Sword Of Sorrow
03. Come With Us
04. Thanatos
05. Pollution Is My Name
06. No More Place In Hell
07. The Doom
08. Famine
09. The Dusk Is Coming
10. Redemption

LINE-UP:
Ezekiel – Vocals
Isaia – Guitar
Jonas – Bass
Malachia – Drums

LINKS:

Apostolica 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.

Sun Of The Suns – TIIT

TIIT Album Cover Art

Sun Of The Suns – TIIT
Scarlet Records
Release Date: 20/08/2021
Running Time: 46:31
Review by Steven Hooke
8/10

Something of a supergroup in their native scene, Sun of the Suns are an Italian deathcore troupe featuring former and current members of Nightland, The Modern Age Slavery and Carnality, among others. Armed with a session rhythm section featuring Simone Mularoni of DGM and Empyrios fame on bass (who has left the seat warm for incoming permanent bassist Filippo Scrima) and Fleshgod Apocalypse’s Francesco Paoli on drums, the group have appeared almost from out of nowhere, with relatively zero fanfare, to deliver an absolutely blistering debut.

Intro track ‘I, Demiurge pt.1’ brings with it a false sense of security and almost trepidation upon first listen. A short and delicate electro-symphonic piece which sounds like Jordan Fish has snuck in with his latest copy of FL Studios, its immediate sequel and proper album starter explodes into existence, bringing with it a huge-sounding barrage of drums backed with a serene backdrop which is levelled perfectly here, as well as throughout the course of the album, rarely – if ever – over-saturating the end product and taking away from the brutality of the record as a whole. Then, the aftershock kicks in, and along comes a furious deluge of death metal riffage, and the band getting their money’s worth out of Paoli, who leaves no drum head or crash cymbal un-twatted.

There is a wonderful juxtaposition between the duelling guitars of Righetti and Cioffi and the basslines of Mularoni. While all involved are heavier than a sumo performing a shiatsu, the riffs have a crispness about them, a clean delivery in their destructive presence, whilst the tone of the bass guitar is the album’s dark horse, the twisted sibling – the Hugo Simpson if you will. The clearest appearance of this is in ‘The Golden Cage’ where the putrid cadence of Mularoni’s bass almost serves as an homage to deathcore’s lineage of straightforward 90’s death metal, whilst the rest of the album remains firmly in the modern age, whilst its presence in ‘Hacking The Sterile System’ adds the ever-important gurn-face to the listening experience.

It’s not just in his basslines where Mularoni acts as a hidden gem to ‘TIIT’, the production on the album is astounding. The guitars, the bass tone, the duality of them together, the use of synths, all the levelling on the album is of the highest order. The technicality and soundscapes are working in tandem and not against each other, something that debut albums of similar ilk (and sometimes albums 2 and 3 and beyond) struggle to do (see Winds of Plague, Into Infernus and Walking Dead On Broadway).

Sun Of The Suns are a very intriguing group. A sci-fi-intense, deathcore barrage of extremity and world-building that appeared out of nowhere, they clearly have lofty ambitions for themselves and are putting their best foot forward to reach them. Whilst what they’re doing isn’t exactly new, they’re executing it at such a high standard, which is particularly astonishing when you realise this is their debut release. Their potential could result in a new powerhouse of the genre when considering the sci-fi-inspired lyrics, production levels, instrumental abilities, and general songwriting abilities (not least their step into more grandiose terrains with 7 minute-closer ‘I, Emperor Of Nothingness’).

‘TIIT’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. I, Demiurge Pt.1
02. I, Demiurge Pt.2
03. The Golden Cage
04. TIIT
05. Obsolescence Corrupted
06. To Decay To Revive
07. Flesh State
08. Hacking The Sterile System
09. Of Hybridization And Decline
10. I, Emperor Of Nothingness

LINE-UP:
Luca Dave Scarlatti – Vocals
Marco Righetti – Guitars
Ludovico Cioffi – Guitars
Simone Mularoni – Bass (Session)
Francesco Paoli – Drums (Session)

LINKS:

Sun Of The Suns Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Steven Hooke 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.

Reinforcer – Prince Of The Tribes

Prince Of The Tribes Album Cover Art

Reinforcer – Prince Of The Tribes
Scarlet Records
Release Date: 18/06/2021
Running Time: 40:46
Review by Simon Black
9/10

Reinforcer have been going since 2015, with 2018’s ‘The Wanderer’ EP being all the world has had to judge them on so far. Whether the world needs another traditional Euro Power Metal band is always a matter of debate, as let’s face it it’s an incredibly crowded marketplace. For me the answer will always be if the music is interesting, well-delivered and makes me want to listen to more, then yes. These boys from darkest Germany have wisely equally balanced the more Traditional Heavy Metal with the Power Metal, which makes the appeal of this all-important debut record that little bit broader. How this works in practice is that although lyrically it’s classic Power pseudo-historical fare, musically the tone is moodier and darker than the usual major chord stuff you get from that genre camp.

First off, for a young bunch of musicians, this record shows maturity and polish well beyond their years, all wrapped up in a really well produced package. So often debut’s bring great songs with many years of work having gone into their writing and then squeeze them through a low budget production process that really lets the band’s work down, but this is not the case here. The sound mix is clear, crisp, fat and allows the instruments clearly and distinctively to stand out whilst keeping the organic cohesive feel of a band that know each other’s musical chemistry well. The song-writing also demonstrates richness and maturity, although I think we could have done without the verbal cheesiness of the intro to ‘Black Sails’. What stands out from the get go are Logan Lexi’s charismatic vocals. His voice has a deep power and richness that sounds like it, simply, should not be emanating from someone in their early 20’s. The downside of that youth is a tendency for his vocal melody lines to follow the music a little too closely, but that’s something that comes with experience and confidence and fuck loads of touring, so it’s a minor niggle as far as I am concerned and one that does not detract from the overall cohesive sound that they achieve.

Musically the tone is pretty consistent throughout, driven by harmonised guitar work and a pile-driving rhythm section – moody and mid to high tempo is the trend, until we get to the album closer ‘Z32’. This one is much slower, moodier and almost Gothic in its feel and ethos. Lexi completely changes his vocal approach being both softer and way more aggressive in his delivery and instantly turns what might have been just a run of the mill track into a haunting and heavily epic piece of work. It’s heads and shoulders better than anything else on the album, being heavy as the proverbial brick and brilliantly well-written, with that vocal performance absolutely stealing the show. If this is the direction of travel, then bring it on boys. This is an incredibly well-delivered album from a promising new band who have pulled off that most challenging achievement – making Power Metal sound new and fresh again.

‘Allegiance And Steel’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Prince Of The Tribes
02. Allegiance And Steel
03. Black Sails
04. Shieldmaiden
05. Coupe de Grâce
06. Thou Shall Burn
07. Hand On Heart
08. Another Night
09. Z32

LINE-UP:
Logan Lexi – Vocals
Tobias Schwarzer – Guitar
Niclas Stappert – Guitar
Marvin Fretter – Bass
Lasse Schmiedel – Drums

LINKS:

Reinforcer 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.

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.

Odd Dimension – The Blue Dawn

The Blue Dawn Album Cover Art

Odd Dimension – The Blue Dawn
Scarlet Records
Release Date: 26/02/2021
Running Time: 61:00
Review by Simon Black
8.5/10

This Italian five-piece Progressive Metal outfit have been quiet for some time, with 2013’s ‘The Last Embrace To Humanity’ being the last we heard from them and, as always, the inevitable line-up fluctuations that plague most bands have been a significant part of that. With a stable line-up and the passage of time comes a more mature sound and a rich and complex release to emphasise that. This record is a Science Fiction concept piece about a couple of space travellers forging a new race in a musical take on the old Adam and Eve from space concept that has long been a staple of pulp paperback SF fiction.

As often when reviewing these records, having the time to unpick the minutia of the plot is a luxury this reviewer does not have, but needless to say it’s clear from the three spins I’ve given this record that this is a well-constructed and crafted story, with musical themes and flourishes woven into its tapestry. Musically this is somewhat impressive however, and that alone justifies taking it out for a spin. This is rich, mature and well-crafted Progressive tunage of the highest order, not particularly heavy in its sound and therefore likely to appeal to those who like their Prog to sound commercially accessible. Equally it avoids sounding Neo-Classical or Operatic, which let’s face it happens a lot on Italian acts in the genre, and has a more North American feel to it (think early Dream Theater or Fates Warning) with an undeniably radio-friendly vibe despite the technical proficiency on display. Also, unusually the vocals are very high and loud in the front of the mix, and given the power and timbre of new lungsman Jan Manenti’s excellent voice this is perhaps for the best.

As with the most successful Prog records, the musical brilliance is definitely there but it’s subtle and understated, so it doesn’t alienate less technically toned ears with overtly complex melodies, but allowing you to tune into the complexity if you choose. Working on two levels like that is really, really hard to achieve and to my ears, far more clever than an album full of overt fret-work and fragmented time changes ever can be. It’s really only on the title track itself when there is a bit more showiness on display, but then if you’ve managed to get erstwhile Dream Theater ivory-tickler Derek Sherinian as a guest, then be my guest, you deserve a moment of indulgence.

Overall this is an album that flows well, is easy on the ear, but with plenty of depth to dip your toes into should you wish and like all the best Prog, rewards the patient re-listener with more to appreciate despite being more than accessible enough on first listen. Thoroughly recommended.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Mission N°773
02. Landing On Axtradel
03. The Invasion
04. Escape To Blue Planet
05. Solar Wind
06. Life Creators
07. The Blue Dawn
08. Sands Of Yazukia
09. Flags Of Victory
10. The Supreme Being

LINE-UP:
Jan Manenti – Vocals
Gianmaria Saddi – Guitar
Gabriele Ciaccia – Keyboards
Gigi Andreone – Bass
Marco Lazzarini – Drums

LINKS:

Odd Dimension 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.

Winterage – The Inheritance Of Beauty

The Inheritance Of Beauty Album Cover Art

Winterage – The Inheritance Of Beauty
Scarlet Records
Release Date: 15/01/2021
Running Time: 61:00
Review by Simon Black
8/10

Symphonic Metal is a challenging and complex beast. The simplest definition of it is ‘Metal meets Classical’, but as always this is just the tip of the iceberg in the sea of definition – a troubling sea to sail at the best of times. Is a five- or six-piece band, creating a semi-classical sound on their own, the purist definition of the sub-genre (as say Nightwish are)? What if someone who is more firmly categorised as Metal or Hard Rock decides to play with an orchestra like Paradise Lost, Metallica, Kiss, Deep Purple and countless others have done over the years? Personally, I exclude the latter, as in these instances these are artists playing their regular material in a different arrangement as a one-off activity, usually for the purposes of a specific live gig or tour. The former at least is music written for this format, and so has happily been my guiding principle of definition over the years. The danger of course with defining anything is that sooner or later some cheeky swine comes along and breaks all the rules by throwing all the boundaries into one melting pot, as Winterage have done here.

The core of this Italian band is a five-piece bunch of musicians, although unusually a full-time violin player is part of this core team, along with all the other folk tropes. This particular recording however has also gone crazy ape bonkers with a twenty strong choir and twenty-six-piece orchestra as well – not to mention a Uillean Pipe player and all-round whistle blower (blame Nightwish, they started this one-upmanship when they hired Troy Donockley). Not bad going when you are only on your second album, although given that it’s taken them six years between albums something spectacular was definitely due. Spectacular feels like too small a word…

Like many Italian contributors to the genre, some of the well-trodden path of the likes of Rhapsody et al is visible, but I would argue this is more about the operatic tradition of the country than the influence of these other bands specifically. Either way, this is musically quite as epic, astounding and musically effective a record as you could hope to lay your hands on – which given where Nightwish have taken things with their most recent release is no small feat. Where this works so well is the way the folk instrumental sentiments are joined at the hip with the Classical (almost at the expense of the Metal instrumentation, which feels like a part of the orchestra, rather than one being an add-on to the other. This is also a case of folk instruments playing classical forms and some of the frenetic violin work on tracks like ‘Chain of Heaven’ is little short of outstanding. This of a violinist who can shred like John Pettruci and you will just begin to imagine what Gabriele Boschi has achieved here. He’s been a busy chap, as he also wrote all the orchestrations for the album to boot.

Vocally this is quite frankly dizzying. The challenge with having so many vocal contributors involved is it’s sometime hard to tell where vocalist Daniele Barbarossa ends and the rest of the choir begins, although with every vocal style from soprano to Metal Growl represented, the net effect is like the Metal Opera delivery of the original Avantasia album – only with bursts of operatic Italian. It’s going to be a bitch to play live too. Nothing sums up the achievement of this album more than the epic finale ‘The Amazing Toymaker’, which takes every musical extreme this album has thrown to date back at you in a whopping seventeen-minute epic of staggering proportions, which lyrically may be the maddest thing I have ever heard, and does sound like someone has also been listening to Avatar’s “Black Waltz” album recently as well…

The challenge this album has is that whilst musically and vocally dizzying, it sometimes lacks the immediacy of the more commercially orientated acts. Avantasia may not be for everyone, but Tobias Sammet knows how to leverage the fan base of his array of contributors and achieve the ‘everyman’ broad appeal, no matter how avant garde he gets, whereas as a relative newcomer and no likelihood of being able to bring the full musical ensemble on tour Winterage, have a much bigger uphill struggle on their hands. Everyman is an important word and to appeal to a wider audience you need a song to reach into more commercial territory and this album does not have one. Completely bonkers, but an incredible piece of work, nonetheless.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Ouverture
02. The Inheritance Of Beauty
03. The Wisdom Of Us
04. Of Heroes And Wonders
05. The Mutineers
06. Orpheus And Eurydice
07. Chain Of Heaven
08. La Morte di Venere
09. Oblivion Day
10. The Amazing Toymaker

LINE-UP:
Daniele Barbarossa – Vocals
Gabriele Boschi – Violin
Gianmarco Bambini – Guitars
Matteo Serlenga – Bass
Luca Ghiglione – Drums

LINKS:

Winterage 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.

Six Foot Six – End Of All

Six Foot Six – End Of All
Scarlet Records
Release Date: 11/12/2020
Running Time: 52:36
Review by Emma Torkington
9/10

Epic Heavy Metal band Six foot Six was started by long term friends Kristoffer Göbel and Christoffer Borg back in 2018 with their debut album “The Six Foot Six Project”. Fast forward two years and we have the next instalment from them “End Of All”.

The album kicks off with ‘Welcome to Your Nightmare’. An incredible start, you are pulled in by Kristoffer’s beautiful, charming vocals, and when the guitars play you feel yourself smiling while you’re listening. We move on to the title track ‘End Of All’. It is a wonderfully catchy song that I, personally, can see being an instant classic. It has the backbones of every great heavy metal song! From great vocals, wonderful guitar solos and a drum beat you can feel in your chest. The third track off of this, so far, incredible album is ‘In God We Trust’. This song does start off completely differently to the previous tracks, with a chorus of voices and the occasional church bell in the background. Then the tempo changes and kicks in with heavy drums and guitar riffs and  mix of charismatic vocals.

As you go through “End Of All” it gets harder and harder to choose a favourite song, as each brings something slightly different to the table. Track 5 ‘Blood Will Out’ is a prime example of this! It begins with heavy guitars, drums and a great rhythm. The vocals again fill you with a light and a longing to dance with your friends. The backing singers here add a haunting feeling to this fantastic track. I have to say this is my favourite out of the whole album. It ticks every box for me.

Moving to the second half of the album, well it is just as fantastic as the first. ‘Abducted’ is a close second favourite for me. The lyrics are beautifully written and with Göbel ‘s crisp voice, it delivers a powerful message.

“End Of All” is an incredible experience to listen too and I have been listening to it non-stop for weeks! It is definitely an album that you never get bored of and I will continue to listen to it for months to come. Who would love this album? Any fans of Black Sabbath, Europe or even Judas Priest. Having said that, anyone who appreciates beautiful vocals will enjoy this!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Welcome to Your Nightmare
02. End Of All
03. In God We Trust
04. In The Eyes Of The World
05. Blood Will Out
06. Last Days Of Our Lives
07. Finale Vittoria
08. Abducted
09. I am Your King
10. Edge Of the World
11. Oblivion
12. Break The Wheel

LINE-UP:
Kristoffer Göbel – Vocals
Christoffer Borg – Guitars
Markus Gustafsson – Bass
Henrik Hedman – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Emma Torkington 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.

Moonlight Haze – Lunaris

Moonlight Haze – Lunaris
Scarlet Records
Release Date: 12/06/2020
Running Time: 51:46
Review by Tsarina Wilson
9/10

Moonlight Haze consists of Chiara Tricarico (ex-Temperance) on vocals, Giulio Capone on vocals/drums/keyboards, Alessandro Jacobi (also of Elvenking) on bass, Alberto Melinato and Marco Falanga on guitars. This is the second album from the Italian band in quite quick time, as far as albums go anyway, their first release which was “De Rerum Natura” in 2019, certainly put them on the map of great quality music, so I had high hopes for this release. This new album, “Lunaris”, was mixed and mastered by Simone Mularoni at the Domination Studio (San Marino). The artwork and graphics (which are immense) are by Beatrice Damori.

Their music is not only symphonic, it’s up-beat, catchy, enthusiastic, and has vocals that make the hairs on the back of your arms stand on end. It has power and passion which shines through in abundance, and is an amazing blend of metal, folk, electronics, with one track, ‘Birth And Death’, even featuring Elvenking’s violinist, Fabio Lethien Polo.

The opening track, ‘Till The End’ bursts in with a, “hello! I’m here” feeling! It has a great tempo, is catchy, full of energy and doesn’t let up all the way through. Chiara’s vocals are so strong and powerful, and her range is epic. Added to that are great harmonies, and guitar riffs that go so fast it makes my fingers hurt just thinking about them! The ending of the song proves already what a great set of lungs Chiara has, the power in her voice is incredible!

Each track is a mini story within itself, and although some of the tracks are fast pace and can leave you breathless, you do get small lulls in between. But don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll be able to sit and relax, as you wont be left with time to do that! This album will have you sat up and listening, waiting to see where it’s off to next. ‘Under your Spell’, is another stand out track for me. It starts off melodic and is gentle but very powerful, and again the range of Chiara’s voice is out of this world! Add to that brilliant guitar riffs, and you have a very powerful rock ballad.

I was a little taken back by ‘Enigma’, as rather than being sung in English, it is in Italian, but the power and passion shines out in bucket loads. Even though I couldn’t understand the lyrics, it still gives you such a vibe. I am one of those who listen to the album without looking at the track running order, so I was pleased to discover that the last track on the album is the English version of the same song. This wouldn’t be out of place in a rock opera and the immense drumming leave you breathless, thinking ‘seriously how the heck do you play drums that quick?’. Just wow!

I must admit I listen to my music a tad loud, and on a good set of speakers, but, my word, some of the drumming had my chest hurting! You can feel it inside. That and the guitar riffs almost blew the speakers! And I can’t say enough how fabulous the vocals are, going from gritty to operatic in a heartbeat. This is so apparent in ‘The Dangerous Art of Overthinking’ which I have to say is my favourite track. You start off with operatic background and crazy drumming. Calm down to almost ‘monkish’ undertones, then BAM! Back into it! Who needed to catch their breath anyway?! This would make an epic horror film score, the vocals leaping from powerful, to growls, to operatic, and back to ‘monkish’ in seconds, which leave you wandering what the hell is going on! You get chance for a quick gasp of air then off it goes again. It also has some crazy synthesiser twists which really add the icing on the metal cake. I like to call this track the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ of the album.

There are calmer tracks, like ‘Of Birth and Death’, that gives you a folkish interlude, which you’ll be grateful for as track 10 ‘Nameless City’ is 7 minutes and 34 seconds long, and once again leads you on a twisted journey! It starts off all nice and calm before throwing you into the deep end with a sudden change of pace. Operatic vocals switch to normal, and the whole track sounds like they have an orchestra and a team of backing vocals all joining in. And, once again, it’s littered with brilliant drumming, guitars and harmonies, and the synthesizer in the background.

If you wanted dull and boring then stay away from “Lunaris”, as that’s one thing this album definitely isn’t! But if you want powerful, intense, complex, and outside of the box, then hold on tight and enjoy the ride.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Till The End
02. The Rabbit Of The Moon
03. Lunaris
04. Under Your Spell
05. Enigma
06. Wish Upon A Scar
07. The Dangerous Art of Overthinking
08. Without You
09. Of Birth and Death
10. Nameless City
11. Enigma (English Version)

LINE-UP:
Chiara Tricarico: vocals
Giulio Capone: drums, keyboards
Marco Falanga: guitars
Alberto Melinato: guitars
Alessandro Jacobi: bass

LINKS:
www.moonlighthaze.com/
www.facebook.com/Moonlighthazeband/
www.instagram.com/moonlighthazeband
www.open.spotify.com/artist/1J9Jg6CEtjR3C4SFXz1elX
www.youtube.com/channel/UC4xfX4XQB0cIO7KsBUf6gng
www.linktr.ee/moonlighthaze

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.

Volturian – Crimson

Volturian – Crimson
Scarlet Records
Release Date: 24/04/2020
Running Time: 35:53
Review By Mark Pritchard
8/10

On what was a bright and sunny day with a nice cool breeze, I decided I would pop to the local shops to get a few bits and bobs. My soundtrack for this expedition was “Crimson” by Volturian. As I headed to the shop listening to the music, I found out why, when you’re walking, it’s a good idea to look where you’re going! In my right hand was my stick (as I have nerve damage in my right leg) and in my left was my phone. I was quite happily looking at track titles on my phone and then SMACK, I walked straight into a streetlight! Thankfully, I didn’t drop my phone and it didn’t interrupt my listening pleasure! Now you would have thought I would have learnt my lesson, but that wasn’t the case, as when I was walking back from the shops I did the same thing! It’s safe to say that I have learnt the hard way. Definitely not the kind of headbanging I was expecting! Anyway, enough about me, let’s get on to the cause of my slightly sore head!

Volturian are a modern metal band who hail from Italy and are only recently founded, in 2019, by singer Federica Lanna of the band Sleeping Romance, and songwriter Federico Mondelli of the band Frozen Crown. “Crimson” is their first album release and displays their mixture of styles amazingly well. They bring calming, dreamy female vocals alongside heavy, down-tuned guitar riffs, and a big hit of electronic sounds to boot.

The press release for this album says: “Lanna’s pristine and ethereal vocals move fluently between slow paced groovy songs and rigid, industrial inspired hymns, held together by Mondelli’s Swedish death metal-oriented guitar riffs (early 2000 In Flames and Soilwork) and by a powerful and precise drumming. Keyboards add a fundamental layer to Volturian’s music, ranging from New Wave to 90’s Europop to obscure gothic atmospheres. The album concept relies on dark, obscure and romantic themes, infusing the band’s lyrical imagery with gloomy Victorian vibes.” I couldn’t have said it better myself and can definitely say that these influences and variations are very much what you will hear, and they create a very pleasurable sound.

It is full of fast paced playing and amazing vocals, and the added electronic sounds give it a huge and eclectic range of genres. It’s heavy, dark and powerful, but I’ve also found “Crimson” quite calming. On more than one occasion it has been so relaxing to listen to that I’ve actually fallen asleep! Volturian have done an amazing job here, especially as they’re so new to the scene as a band. It’s an album you can listen to many times without it getting old, and I find something interesting and new in it with each listen. Definitely an album I will be adding to my collection.

TRACKLISTING:
1. Crimson Dust
2. New Life
3. Haunting Symphony
4. Broken
5. The Killing Joke
6. In A Heartbeat
7. Between The Sleepers
8. Days Before You Die
9. Forevermore
10. Fading Like A Flower

LINE-UP:
Federica Lanna – Vocals
Federico Mondelli – Guitars and Keyboards
Massimiliano Rossi – Bass
Alberto Mezzanotte – Drums

LINKS:
www.facebook.com/volturian/
www.youtube.com/channel/UCKNg0fDQs5eN_SSLmAYqHRA
www.twitter.com/VolturianBand
www.scarletrecords.bandcamp.com/album/crimson

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.

Deathless Legacy – Saturnalia

Deathless Legacy – Saturnalia
Scarlet Records
Date: 13/03/2020
Running Time: 24:16
Review by Victor Augusto
10/10

Maybe it is not a surprise to hear Italian bands exploring their traditional music, like Opera, to play along with Heavy Metal or work on subjects from this beautiful culture. Some bands do it in an epic way while others go deeper into the heaviness or obscure sound. In all cases, they sound unique. In the case of Deathless Legacy, the theatrical side where all interpretations are so strong and are hugely different. So, why not explore the rich Italian history, from ancient Rome to be more specific, in a 24-minutes-long single. If you love songs like ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ (Iron Maiden) or ‘Stargazer’ (Rainbow), you should stop everything you are doing now and join the band on this journey.

Saturnalia was a celebration in ancient Rome that happened between December 17th and 23rd. It was a short period of rebirth when the slaves could enjoy and party as free people. This song tells a specific history, in the year of 86 AD. During a long war, Helius hears that his father Flaccus (the Pater Familia of the Adepphius family) is dying and he should return to be the new Pater Familia as he is the first-born. In the Cimini hills, near Rome, he decides to rest during the night before returning home. There, he rests forever after a criminal sets his tent on fire while he is sleeping. This is done by Tullius Murena’s servant. Tullius’ plan is to kill the first-born son and leave the Adepphius Family weak to own and run their land. What he cannot imagine is how things would change. It is within this scenario that the main character appears. His name is Lucius, a slave of Tullius who was whipped almost until death after he let Tullius’ wine fall on the floor due to a trick from a young child. Lucius recovers himself in time to celebrate Saturnalia with his best friend, and slave, Hecatia.

Declared the prince with horns by the slaves and under command of Laverna, Lucius  gives an order for Tulius to serve him wine during the Saturnalia celebrations and Hecatia uses the same trick of the young child to make him fall on the floor, looking a fool in front all of the slaves. Of course, this joke has terrible consequence and Tullius, feeling humiliated by his slaves, creates an ambush for Lucius and Hecatia. He gives them a secret mission to deliver a gold medallion for his bastard son’s mother. Suddenly, on the way to deliver it, some of Tullius’ servants emerge to rape and kill Hecatia in front of Lucius. After witnessing that murder, he is stabbed by Tullius’ sword. For a moment, he can meet his parents in heaven, but it isn’t his time, yet.

He awakes under the care of Laverna Priestess, the goddess who protects the Underworld from thieves and cheaters. The goddess of what lies in the shadows as no murder or punishment is allowed by what happens in Saturnalia. Tullius calls for him the wrath of Saturn. She heals Lucius with a potion, so he can find himself deep inside and begins his metamorphosis with all his grief and pain!

Spiritually dead, but physically alive, Lucius finds the mortal remains of Helius in the burnt-out tent. He also finds a rope of one of Tullius’ servants and he was still carrying the same gold medallion he carried during the ambush he suffered. He realises that the person who murdered Helius is the same who murdered Hecatia. It is the spark for his revenge. Lucius burns his face and wears Helius’ armour to pretend he is the Adepphius first born. With a disfigured face and using the same armour that Helius used, nobody can recognize him. He returns to his old home and a great feast is made to celebrate it because everyone thinks that Helius is dead. Tulius is shocked and whips the servant that hasn’t killed Helius. Now, Lucius is using a gold mask to hide his pain and fake his existence, as if he is the new Pater Familia. During the feast he shows to everyone, including Tullius, the gold medallion and the servant’s robe. The betrayer is finally discovered and Tullius is taken to die in Rupes Tarpeia. Therefore, the revenge is complete, and it finishes the tale of Saturnalia!

Musically, “Saturnalia” has strong guitar riffs and bass lines from Sgt. Bones and Deadwood Nick. They create many intense moments, from acoustic and melodic pieces to fast and heavy ones, mirroring the tempo of the story. Frater Orion’s drum parts are amazing, he doesn’t let the music become massive and tiring. He plays in many different tempos and variations. Another interesting thing is how the song has a symphonic approach, but pianos, keyboards and orchestrations are not always present. The instruments are very well mixed, bringing the spirit of classic Heavy Metal. Steva’s vocals are brilliant. She has a unique identity to interpret the drama and the history. The interesting thing in her voice is how she uses a melodic side, sometimes a bit angelical, together with a lot of evil power, reminding me of the way that Ronnie James Dio sings.

There is an accompanying short movie/official video of the track and it has the band members acting as characters, with the black and white scenes bringing an epical and dense atmosphere. The more I watch the film; the more this genial creation enchants me. Unique! Majestic! Maybe these words could describe this Italian masterpiece called “Saturnalia”.

Here is a link to the film/video

TRACKLISTING:
1. Saturnalia

LINE-UP:
Steva – Vocals
Frater Orion – Drums
Alex Van Eden – Keyboards
Sgt. Bones – Guitar
Deadwood Nick- Bass

LINKS:
www.facebook.com/Deathlessmetal/
www.facebook.com/scarletrecords/
www.youtube.com/user/DeathlessLegacy
www.instagram.com/deathless_legacy
open.spotify.com/album/3WIl8GeGQusozWJXzEHvap

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.