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.

Khymera – Master Of Illusions

Khymera – Master Of Illusions
Frontiers Music s.r.l
Release Date: 06/03/2020
Running Time: 45:25
Review by Tsarina Wilson
9.5/10

Rarely is it that an album comes along that I start listening to and I think “ooo this is my favourite track!” then listen to next track and think, “No wait! This one is!”, until I end up running out of tracks! But it sure happened with this album, “Master Of Illusions”. From the first track to the last I was hooked and soaked up every note, drum beat, guitar riff and lyric (anyone who hasn’t guessed – I so liked this album)!

For those not in the know, Khymera is a musical collaboration project, originally started by Italian producer/musician Daniele Liverani and Steve Walsh, who at the time was the Kansas vocalist. Then Bassist Dennis Ward (Magnum and Pink Cream 69), known more for backing vocals, bass work and production duties joined and stepped up to lead vocals, adding another string to his bow of skills! It’s been over four years since the last album, “The Grand Design” (guys, please don’t leave it another four years for the next one, thanks!), and for this release, the line-up consists of Dennis Ward on vocals and bass, Michael Klein on guitars, Eric Ragno on keyboards and Pete Newdeck on drums.

“Master Of Illusion” has quite an 80’s rock vibe, but with a modern twist to it. Whilst having a hint of Def Leopard/ Europe, they certainly make this their own. The melodic vocals, which are so easy on the ear, combined with such feel good songs mean you can easily sit and listen to this and drift away, but just as easily put it on the car stereo and crank it up loud and sing along. Think summer trips out, windows down, music loud – yes that much of a feelgood factor just pours from these tracks.

There is also some properly great drumming that seriously starts you table drumming! On track ‘The First Time’, this quickly leads to air drumming! Again, on this track, the harmonising vocals blend so well, and the addition of the keyboards, then epic guitar riffs, make it superb. The album title track follows this, and once again the hint of the keyboards just makes such a great change from the norm. These guys prove great song writing is still alive and very much kicking, in fact kicking ass, big time!

Track 4, ‘The Sun Goes Down’, has such a good summertime rock vibe – the statement ‘sing loud, sing proud’, certainly comes into its own here! From the first drum beat it’s uplifting, with guitar riffs that explode from nowhere, it leaves you wanting more!

Every great album has to have a badass ballad, and of course the guys don’t fail us on this, with ‘Father To Son’ being such a touching song, with lyrics from the heart. Get your lighters out and be prepared to raise them at any gig this is played at, and sing it damn loud! It actually gave me goose bumps whist listening to it, and I had to keep it on repeat a few times, as I was just blown away by it.

Packed full of excellent vocals, beautiful harmonies, on point drumming, and epic guitar riffs, “Masters Of Illusions” is an uplifting album and proves there is so much great music out there.

Khymera, please promise me you won’t take four years for the next instalment of material! I think anyone who hasn’t heard them yet is missing out, and everyone I’ve told about the album has come back to me with the same reaction – “wow they are brilliant”!! Seriously, get listening to this album.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Walk Away
02. The First Time
03. Master Of Illusion
04. The Sun Goes Down
05. Paradise
06. The Rhythm Of My Life
07. Follow The Sun
08. Father To Son
09. After All This Time
10. Victim Of Your Love
11. Just Let It Happen

LINE-UP:
Dennis Ward – Vocals and Bass
Michael Klein – Guitars
Eric Ragno – Keyboards
Pete Newdeck – Drums

LINKS:
www.facebook.com/KhymeraTheGrandDesign/ (FAN PAGE)
www.spotify.com/artist/2cauhM67gAJ8ilHvkNNZa4
www.youtube.com/channel/UCAP7bFhhpU6fhnccffaNtCA
www.frontiers.it/album/5584
www.facebook.com/frontiersmusicsrl/

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.

Hesperian Opus- Chasing The Light

Hesperian Opus- Chasing The Light
Steel Gallery Records
Release Date: 28/02/2020
Running Time: 47:28
Review by Tsarina Wilson
8.5/10

This Neo-Classical Power Metal band from Athens in Greece certainly give a mixture of sounds and styles on their debut album “Chasing The Light”. With a line-up of Tassos Krokodilos on vocals, Harry Loisios on guitars, Christ Stergiannidis on bass, Dimitris Karageorgos on drums, and guest keyboards from George Georgiou, these guys certainly know their craft. With all music written by Loisios and Krokodilos, and all lyrics written by Tassos, they know what they want, and how to get it done. It was produced and mixed by Thymios Krikos and mastered by Kostas Scandalis.

In a time where a lot of bands either have their music or lyrics written for them, these guys obviously work by their ethos ‘if you want to give great music, give it your all and give it from the heart’ and it certainly seems this is where it comes from.

One thing that is very apparent throughout this album is the clear vocals, which is a breath of fresh air, alongside the fast-paced drumming in places and crazy guitar riffs. But that said, the actual pace of the whole album is not what I was expecting. Going in cycles of ‘boom, boom, boom’ then sudden calm, which keeps you on the edge a little. I think this is deliberate – it’s probably what the guys were hoping for – to keep you listening to see what would change next. A prime example of this is track 7, ‘Touch the Sky’, with again clear vocals and a vocal range which is both strong and powerful.

The final track, ‘Out Of The Cage’ was definitely a case of ‘keeping the best till last’! I found myself holding my breath through the guitar riff, which meant I almost turned blue as there was no let up! And, oh my life!! How fast can you physically play?! Well, listen to the track to find out! The speed is unreal, but the drumming matches it too, and I take my hat off to Hesperian Opus for this! Wow! Just…wow! I was exhausted just listening to it! However, I must say the lead guitar is the most featured sound on the album, and I think it would have been good to hear a bit more of the bass occasionally.

“Chasing The Light” has everything a good album needs – catchy tracks, brilliant drumming and totally awesome guitar riffs. It also has great lyrics and strong vocals, which, when added together, make one hell of a good listening experience.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Chasing The Light
02. Fields Of Fears
03. The Prison Mind
04. Rise From The Ashes
05. I Am I
06. Cast Into The Fire
07. Touch The Sky
08. Highest Of Hopes
09. Seas Of No Return
10. Out Of The Cage

LINE-UP:
Harry Loisios – Guitars
Tassos Krokodilos – Vocals
Christ Stergiannidis – Bass
Dimitris Karageorgos – Drums
George Georgiou –  Guest Keyboards

LINKS:
www.facebook.com/hesperianopus
www.twitter.com/harryloisios
www.youtube.com/channel/UCsdqZIDUr8kvFQdFP84-Cgg

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.

Invictus – Eden

Invictus – Eden
Iron Shield Records
Release Date: 24/01/2020
Running Time: 39:23
Review by Tsarina Wilson
7/10

Invictus, who were founded in 2017 in Bavaria, released their first E.P “Burst The Curse” in March 2019 (Mark did a review of that). Now they give us their debut full-length album “Eden”.

The band, which consists of Nicolas Peter on vocals, Fabio Winter and Andreas Honsberg on guitars, Fabian Scharf on bass and David Knobbe on drums come across as a group from days gone by with their sound of Judas Priest/Helloween style Traditional Heavy Metal. This isn’t a bad thing, by any means, but something just isn’t gelling for me. Don’t get me wrong it’s a good listen with strong guitar riffs and great drumming plus the voice of Peter, who has so much energy in his delivery, cranking out some great lyrics, but they seem to be trying to cram so much into the album it gets a bit much for me, personally. It’s almost like putting a Mentos into a bottle of fizzy drink; it overflows so much I cannot get a grip of what’s going on. Tracks, when played individually, seem fine but put them all together and I’m like “stop the world, I want to get off” although ‘Styx’ is a track I was completely not expecting, a classic Power Metal ballad that is well executed.

The guys in Invictus are obviously very talented and this is only their debut, but I think with hindsight, they have fallen into a trap. Rather than sounding like Invictus they have taken a load of bits that worked for other bands and have used them in their own music. Yes, of course you will be influenced by others, but I shouldn’t be sitting there thinking to myself “that bit is from Priest, that bit is from Accept, that is by Helloween/Gamma Ray oh and that bit is Blind Guardian” It sounds like a collection of 80’s Metal clichés that have already been overused.

Every review that Invictus receive is going to be a learning curve for them and I’m sure their fanbase will stick by them, but to gain a wider audience they need to find their own voice and not mimic others quite so much!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Intro
02. The Hammer
03. Inside Your Head
04. The Garden Of Eden
05. Through The Storm
06. Thought Of An Idea
07. Livin’ In The Future
08. Styx
09. Break The Chains
10. Insomnia
11. Burning Empire

LINE-UP:
Nicolas Peter – vocals
Fabio Winter – guitars
Fabian Scharf – bass
Andreas Honsberg – guitars
David Knobbe – drums

LINKS:
www.facebook.com/InvictusHeavyMetal
www.instagram.com/invictus_metal_official/
www.invictusheavymetal.bandcamp.com/
www.soundcloud.com/invictusmetal
www.open.spotify.com/artist/2vXotrzz7JPAa7M2JLE5VW
www.youtube.com/channel/UCMvNHGJU8lZJvZ6UzHCWSaA

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.

DeadRisen – DeadRisen

DeadRisen – DeadRisen
AFM Records
Release Date: 13/03/2020
Running Time: 47:06
Review by Tsarina Wilson
9/10

Personally, the first track on DeadRisen’s debut album ‘Risen Death AD’, which is just over one minute long, had me going “hmmm okay, is this the opening theme for a new “Mummy” film soundtrack, and my interest was immediately piqued…then, first track proper ‘Prophecy’ kicks in with the vengeance of a steel toe cap to the shin. Talk about going from one end of a scale to the other.

DeadRisen is the brainchild of guitar maestro Rod Rivera (Rivera/Bomma) and bass wizard Mike LePond (Symphony X) and wow, am I glad they got their heads together because this album blows away any winter cobwebs that may still be lurking.

As well as Rod and Mike the band consists of Will Shaw (Heir Apparent) on vocals, Tony Stehl (Livesay) on keyboards and last, but definitely not least, Dan Prestup (Midnight Eternal) on drums. Rod, who has many years of performing and recording behind him, is the son of a flamenco guitarist and you can hear this in his style of playing, I think it comes to the fore most in ‘The Maker’ which has a Latin/Flamenco feel and a unique sound that gives it a real edge. Mike, who has played on some of the best Heavy Metal albums ever, is so fluent, he sounds like a second guitarist!

DeadRisen are like a metal recipe combining some new, some old, some power, a pinch of slow and twist of crazy, all mixed and baked into a brilliant album The energy that comes through is breath taking but then next track ‘Reach For The Sun’ has you chilling out to a much slower tune that slowly builds to a mammoth climax. These guys definitely want to keep your interest throughout!

The vocals from Shaw have a range that would make most guys eyes water yet the power and clarity he provides makes this whole album stand out. In fact his sound and some of his phrasing reminds me of a mix between Graham Bonnet and Russell Allen, Stehl’s keyboards are a wonderful addition to the mix and with the thunderous and precise drumming of Prestup, these five guys gel in such a way that can only come from many years of experience! “DeadRisen”, the album, has more twists and turns than a roller coaster. Never before have I heard an album that goes from flamenco to metal to thrash all within one track. Some of the tracks are dark and deep, others light and fast. The astonishing guitar riffs and solos from Rivera almost had me holding my breath. It’s okay though as he gives you a rest to draw breath before you turn blue!

One thing that comes across with DeadRisen is not just the amount of experience they possess but it sounds like that they just love making music and enjoying what they do and that is giving us truly epic tunes such as ‘Chains Of Time’ and ‘But You’, fast, furious and with a pitch on the vocals that almost make your ears bleed, in a good way. This is an album that you certainly won’t get bored of listening too, the variety in each track is genius but they seamlessly blend everything like they have been playing together for years and no way does this sound like a debut album.

With Heavy Metal approaching its 50th Birthday, DeadRisen have rightfully taken their place on the icing of the cake and I hope there are many more tracks to come from them. Final track on the album is a sumptuous cover of Metallica’s ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’ and proves the point that you never know what’s coming next! If you are a fan of incredible Progressive Power Metal with a nod to bands like Alcatrazz, Rainbow, Deep Purple and Uriah Heep then hold on to your seat and your beer because this is sublime!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Risen Death AD
02. Prophecy
03. Destiny
04. The Maker
05. Reach for The Sky
06. Visions
07. Chains of Time
08. Fear and Fury
09. Buy You
10. For Whom The Bell Tolls (Metallica Cover)

LINE-UP:
Will Shaw – Vocals
Rod Rivers – Guitars
Mike LePond – Bass
Tony Stahl – Keyboards
Dan Prestup – Drums

LINKS:
www.facebook.com/deadrisenband/
www.instagram.com/deadrisenband/
www.open.spotify.com/album/5vMUmOccMKjkhjtIteaDKX
www.youtube.com/channel/UCTKQlZbfT32dfyQ-GlbLwGg

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.

Brothers of Metal – Emblas Saga

Brothers of Metal – Emblas Saga
AFM Records
Release Date: 10/01/2020
Running Time: 55:06
Review by Tsarina Wilson
10/10 (Would have given it more than 10 if I could)

When I receive a new band to review, I tend to listen to the first two tracks and see if I can get an idea of their look before looking at a photo. I had an idea of Vikings in boats with torches held high, then I looked more into the band and wow I wasn’t far off. One thing you can say about “Emblas Saga” is that it’s non-stop brilliant. From the opening seconds it’s pure enjoyment with superb drumming, awesome guitar riffs and amazing vocals. For someone, like me, who loves things to do with Odin, Vikings and Norse history this is just a perfect album!

Brothers of Metal are definitely not your run of the mill metal band, they are more like adult Nordic story tellers with a hellava lot of metal but also with fun twists added, if you listen carefully! “Emblas Saga” twists and turns like the ‘Powersnake’ of track two. They take you on a journey within the stories and its like being on their Viking ship in rough seas with the constant up and down tempo.

This is the second album from the Scandinavian eight-piece band, who burst through your speakers like a thunderstorm on steroids, their first “Prophecy Of Ragnarök” was released in 2017. “Emblas Saga” is catchy and powerful but doesn’t lose its HEAVY appeal. If you add in the Nordic overtones it is superb

The female vocals of Ylva Eriksson are so clear yet have such power in them. Listen to the tracks ‘Powersnake’ and ‘Weaver Of Fate’ and you will understand what I mean. Joakim Eriksson’s vocals are powerful, raspy and gruff but compliment Ylva’s so well and you can still hear every word. Other members of the band are Mats Nilsson (vocals), Emil Wärmedal (bass), Dawid Grahn (guitars), Pähr Nilsson (guitars), Mikael Fehrm (guitars) and Johan Johansson on drums and they all come together like a Nordic family of story tellers!

With catchy choruses and continuous epic instrumentation this is a joy, for instance, check out the drumming in ‘Ride Of The Valkyries’ which is probably one of my favourite tracks on the album. Once again Ylva’s voice just makes the track but the fast drumming and guitar riffs will have you holding your pint of mead up in the air and singing along (just don’t try air guitaring or drumming at the same time!) Brothers Of Metal pull absolutely no punches and if you look up their videos on YouTube you’ll see that they have a great time making their music. They aren’t your stereotypical metal band and it sets them apart which is so refreshing when so many bands sound the same or very much alike. You get a mix of storytelling, folk, and a massive amount of metal but it’s all 100% brilliant.

When it comes to influences then there is some Manowar, and Amon Amarth (who are more death metal) (Rick here – I would also add Rage, Battle Beast and Beast In Black), however, Brothers of Metal have a much clearer and crisper vocal approach. ‘Hel’ is perfect proof of this with truly gruff vocals yet Ylva once again takes you from power singing the chorus to a solo vocal ending. It’s haunting, eerie, goose bump producing and the hairs on my arms stood on end…and ‘Chain Breaker’ is a thumper from the start and doesn’t give up, the lyrics, once again, taking you take you off to metal storyland, for example, “The leash could not domesticate, the violent beast within, and when the bane of Odin howls, the eternal night begins” They have such enthusiasm and passion for their music and that comes through time and time again.

On Brothers of Metal Facebook page they say “Wimps and posers beware, for true metal is here” (surely a cheeky nod to Manowar) and saying that their little quirks had me laughing in the track ‘Theft Of The Hammer’, which is a belter but also includes the line “Give it back at once you thief or I’ll go tell my dad” and the reference to ‘Hammer Time’ which was a great add, well done to you guys for that one. They may be passionate and have produced an absolutely wonderful album but moments like these prove they aren’t afraid to poke fun at themselves as well!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Brood Of The Trickster
02. Powersnake
03. Hel
04. Chain Breaker
05. Kauaz Dagaz
06. Theft Of The Hammer
07. Weaver Of Fate
08. Njord
09. Emblas Saga
10. Brothers Unite
11. One
12. Ride Of The Valkyries
13. To The Skies And Beyond

LINKS:
www.facebook.com/brothersofmetalofficial/
www.instagram.com/brothersofmetalofficial/
www.spotify.com/artist/0WPCPYm5IDNtQjuJOGNPcy
www.youtube.com/channel/UCjTRADohcFt4lKeVrd0Kuxg

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.