Album Review: Xandria – Theatre Of Dimensions

Artist: Xandria

Album: Theatre Of Dimensions

Genre: Symphonic Metal

Released: 27th January 2017

Track listing:

01. Where The Heart Is Home
02. Death To The Holy
03. Forsaken Love
04. Call Of Destiny
05. We Are Murderers (We All)
06. Dark Night Of The Soul
07. When The Walls Came Down (Heartache Was Born)
08. Ship Of Doom
09. Céilí
10. Song For Sorrow And Woe
11. Burn Me
12. Queen Of Hearts Reborn
13. Theatre Of Dimensions

Wow, where to even begin with this album? I recently became a Xandria fan so I had high expectations for this album after the release of the Fire & Ashes EP in 2015, and Dianne van Giersbergen certainly did not disappoint! This album is definitely their most experimental and magical album to date! I guess one way to describe the sound would be as a fusion of the orchestral sound of Epica and the theatrical elements of Nightwish. They really pushed their boundaries with this album, and it paid off! The album also features a strong lineup of guest artists from Soilwork, Firewind, Myrath and Van Canto appearing on a few tracks.

It’s difficult to choose a favourite track off the album because I was captivated from the first song. We Are Murderers (We All), features Bjorn Strid of Soilwork and might possibly be Xandria’s heaviest track to date! Not that that’s a bad thing though! This song is very angry, yet incredibly epic at the same time. Burn Me is another brilliant track that perfectly balances heavy and epic vibes! Another favourite of mine is Call of Destiny, which has a more stereotypical symphonic metal sound but still grabbed my attention. There’s something about the keyboard riffs that reminds me of Rhapsody of Fire (which is one of my favourite bands). The final track, Theatre of Dimensions, is a fantastic end to a brilliant album. It’s a much longer track than the others on the album, but it perfectly showcases the band’s diverse sound. This is probably the most theatrical track on the album, and I actually hope to hear more like this in the future!

The Theatre of Dimensions album is a masterpiece – there’s no doubt about that! I’d highly recommend this album to any symphonic metal fan!

J

xx

My Top 10 Metal Albums From 2015

I actually had this post finished a while ago but forgot to post it! 2015 was a great year for metal, and many albums born in this year are some of my all time favourites. So without further ado, here are my top 10 favourite albums from 2015:

 

10. My Dying Bride – Feel The Misery

I’ll be completely honest, I’m quite new to doom metal, but I really enjoyed this album and it has gotten me into more doom metal. I fell in love with the overall sound of the album because while the lyrics and music are very deep and often dark, the music has a seemingly melancholic ambiance at the same time.

 

9. Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls

Who doesn’t get excited when a new Iron Maiden album is released? This album is overall beautifully composed as always and of course since hearing that Iron Maiden will be blessing our country with their presence this year, this album has had a greater impact on many of us South Africans than some of their previous albums (not that there has ever been an unsatisfactory Iron Maiden album!). Unfortunately it is obvious that Bruce doesn’t have the power in his voice that he used to have, but at least he’s not letting that stop him.

 

8. Stratovarius – Eternal

Before this album I honestly didn’t listen to Stratovarius much as I prefer Sonata Arctica’s sound (I have often heard the two being compared to each other), but this album may have converted me to a Stratovarius fan. The melodic and symphonic elements had me hooked from the first song. This album seems to be heavier than some of their other recent work, but it’s definitely a good change.

 

7. Ensiferum – One Man Army

This album was an excellent comeback after their slightly disappointing previous album Unsung Heroes, where I only enjoyed about half the songs on the album. There were quite a few negative reviews for this album, but I think that everyone is still just angry about Unsung Heroes and probably won’t let it go for a while. While this release isn’t as folkish (if that makes sense) as their previous albums it’s still a very good listen. It mostly features heavier songs with the catchy sing-along choruses that Ensiferum fans love. Definitely a staple album in any folk metal fan’s library.

 

6. Orden Ogan – Ravenhead

As a relatively new Orden Ogan fan, I was impressed by this album as it has stronger melodies and songwriting than To The End, the only other Orden Ogan album I really know well enough to comment on. This is also a great sing-along album with catchy choruses and typical power riffs.

 

5. Nightwish – Endless Forms Most Beautiful

Nightwish seemed to have lost their hype in recent years, but this album put them back on the map. New vocalist Floor Jansen (ex-After Forever) did an amazing job stepping out of her comfort zone and taking on the task of becoming the frontwoman of one of the once most loved symphonic metal bands in a very successful mission to revive them. Tuomas Holopainen is a musical genius and this album is the embodiment of perfection. It might even be his best work yet. Rumour has it that they will also be visiting South Africa this year and you can be sure that I will be right in front for this show!

 

4. Gloryhammer – Space 1992: Rise Of The Chaos Wizards

Super cheesy power metal at its finest. This is one of those albums that I can listen to over and over again. While I know this type of music is not everyone’s cup of tea, this is definitely one of my favourite albums of all time. I love the weird and wonderful story that the album reveals about the epic adventures through the kingdom of Fife. This album is much more symphonic and epic than their debut album and has a possibly Rhapsody of Fire inspired sound.

 

3. Månegarm – Månegarm

One of the more recent metal releases, this one is still very fresh in my mind. I don’t think I have ever wanted to get my hands on a band’s entire discography after listening to one album before until I found this one. I had known about Månegarm for a while but for some reason never actually listened to them before this album. I regret not listening to them sooner because this album has me hooked! They might very well be one of my favourite bands now!

 

2. Powerwolf – Blessed & Possessed

Another great release from Powerwolf, but this one actually took a while to catch on. In the beginning I was not so impressed and complained a lot, but this really is an excellent release. Their fusion of operatic and “churchy” vocals and keyboards with power metal works absolutely perfectly. Powerwolf never fails to impress and I’m yet to find another band who does something even similar to what they do!

 

1. Korpiklaani – Noita

Naturally my favourite band is at the top of this list, but even though I always anticipate a Korpiklaani release, this album blew me away. It definitely exceeded my expectations in every way and is by far my favourite Korpiklaani album to date! This album definitely has more of a drinking song vibe than some of their other stuff and is amazing to sing along to (I would know! Seeing them live in September was the best day of my life!). Korpiklaani really is like wine, getting better and better with age. I’m excited to hear what they produce next.

 

Do you agree with my list? What are your favourite metal albums from 2015?

 

 

Don’t forget that the Metal Warriors Show returns this Tuesday, 5th January, 9-11pm (GMT+2) on The Grind Radio!

 

J
xx

Album Review – The Scarlet Fever – Collider

 

Artist: The Scarlet Fever

Album: Collider

Genre: Gothic Rock / Post-Punk

Released: 29th January 2015

 

Track listing:

01. Forever Late
02. Chrysalis
03. Sea Of Mercury
04. Tunnels
05. Minotaur
06. Waiting Room
07. Are You For Real?
08. The Chauffeur [Duran Duran Cover]
09. Laugh Like Hell
10. Dead Pan Dan
11. Claim To Fame

 

The Scarlet Fever is a band from Toronto, Canada which fuses post-punk elements with a hint of indie rock. Their vocalist, Jay Draper kindly sent me a download link for the album.

 

This is one of those albums that I enjoyed more and more every time I listened to it. Throughout the album there are definite synthpop and new wave elements similar to Depeche Mode and Duran Duran, combined with post-punk sounds of bands such as Virgin Prunes and Sex Gang Children.

 

My favourite tracks, Chrysalis and Laugh Like Hell, include catchy synth elements through use of synthesizers and prominent bass guitar riffs, accompanied by catchy guitarwork and lyrics. I also really enjoyed their excellent cover of Duran Duran’s The Chauffeur, which rejuvenates the classic song while keeping true to the original Gothic and sensual tone. Many of their songs have more of a darkened alternative rock vibe to them, with Sea Of Mercury and Dead Pan Dan being my favourite of these.

 

While this album definitely has a Gothic feel to it, I feel like it is mellow enough to be enjoyed by mainstream alternative rock fans as well. This could be a great bridging band for those who are looking to explore darker music for the first time but is also a great listen for long-term Gothic rock fans.

Rating 4 Star

Here is their recently released video for Sea Of Mercury:

If you would like me to do a review of your band’s music, feel free to message me.

 

 

J

xx

Album Review – Double Eyelid – Seven Years

 

Artist: Double Eyelid

Album: Seven Years

Genre: Gothic Rock

Released: 7th July 2014

Track listing:

01. Black Box
02. Diamond Cutter
03. She’s Falling
04. John
05. Dead Is Better
06. The Hanged Woman
07. The Quick And The Damned.
08. Dirty Weather
09. The Stranger [Daucus Karota Cover]
10. He Fell

 

I first discovered Double Eyelid on the Deadfall: Dark Secrets compilation, which featured their song She’s Falling. I was immediately attracted to their unique sound and played the song on my show (and posted it in my playlist for that night). Their vocalist, Ian Revell, contacted me and sent me a free download link for the album.

 

Their sound is very old-school Goth, but with a modern and experimental twist – a perfect fusion of Bowie-inspired piano and spooky synth with an overall vampy undertone. Their interesting use of bass ensures that any of their songs could be enjoyed on a Goth dancefloor. Their other influences that are easily recognisable include Joy Division, Sex Gang Children and Bauhaus.

I battled to choose a favourite song because I enjoyed the majority of the album. While I was definitely drawn two of the “heavier” songs on the album – Diamond Cutter and Dead Is Better – I also really enjoyed She’s Falling, Black Box and John, which are much slower and dark. Diamond Cutter and Dead Is Better are unusual, but in a good way. The only other band I could possibly relate the sound to is The Awakening. She’s Falling, Black Box and John are definitely the most Bowie- and Bauhaus-esque songs on the album, very much focusing on elaborate piano and bass.

Their cover of Daucus Karota’s The Stranger is also excellent and perhaps even better than the original! They added their own spin to the song and definitely pulled this off surprisingly well. They transformed this song into what could become a dancefloor classic. I’m assuming that this song was also the inspiration for the album title.

 

This album is a great addition to any old-school Goth rock fan’s collection, while also being perfect for the dancefloor.

Rating 4 Star

 

As a bonus, here is the recently released video of Double Eyelid’s song “Black Box”

 

If you would like me to do a review of your band’s music, feel free to message me.

 

J

xx

Album Review – Raven X – Essence Without Light

Artist: Raven X

Album: Essence Without Light

Genre: Gothic Death Metal

Released: 13th March 2013

 

Track listing:

01. Erebos
02. Angel Of The Night
03. Take The Pain
04. Broken Light
05. Blood Of A Bitch
06. Immortal Beloved
07. Essence Without Light
08. Poet
09. Soul Suicide
10. Sleepless Nights

 

These guys were kind enough to send me their album to review and I must say, I really enjoyed it. This two-piece Ohio-based band really impressed me. I have a lot of respect for two-piece bands because of all the extra work that goes into creating their music. It’s also very exciting for me when I come across a band that has a unique sound and female vocals! Nÿx does impressively powerful death growls but also beautiful and enchanting clean vocals, while Khâos combines heavy death guitar with great melodic riffs and instrumentals.

 

Their musical style is a mash up of gothic and death metal with hints of industrial and black metal, with a dark moody tone throughout the album. The album is extremely dynamic, with brutal tracks such as Blood Of A Bitch, slow and spellbinding songs like Essence Without Light and even tracks that combine these elements, which brings me to my two favourite tracks on the album.

 

My favourite tracks off the album are definitely Broken Light and Immortal Beloved. Broken Light starts off very slow and almost eerie with beautiful clean vocals and leads into a very melodic black metal chorus. Immortal Beloved is a bit faster than Broken Light but also combines the clean vocals and eerie melodic guitar riffs with the death growls and heavy guitarwork. I also really enjoyed Take The Pain, which is one of their heavier songs with lyrics I can relate to from my younger years.

 

The entire album is definitely very dark and beautifully composed. The lyrics are very emotionally driven and I think many people can identify with them. I highly recommend it for those who enjoy darker sounding metal.

 

Rating 4 Star

 

If you would like me to do a review of your band’s music, feel free to message me.

 

 

J

xx

Album Review – Axenstar – Where Dreams Are Forgotten

Artist: Axenstar

Album: When Dreams Are Forgotten

Genre: Power Metal

Released: 28th November 2014

 

Track listing:

01. Fear
02. Inside The Maze
03. My Sacrifice
04. Curse Of The Tyrant
05. The Return
06. Demise
07. Annihilation
08. Greed
09. The Reaper
10. This False Imagery
11. Sweet Farewell

 

I thoroughly enjoyed this album from start to finish. I honestly can’t think of one bad thing to say about Axenstar’s latest release. I only discovered Axenstar recently and fell in love with their sound. The album stays true to the classic Axenstar sound and is a great addition to any power metal fan’s collection. If you like Sonata Arctica’s vibe, you’ll love this. The album features a perfect balance between catchy sing-along choruses, more aggressive (almost Iced Earth style) vocals and superb solos.

It’s difficult to choose a favourite track off the album because I don’t dislike any of the songs, but I think it’s between Curse Of The Tyrant and Inside The Maze. Both are very catchy and are the type of songs you can listen to over and over again. Curse Of The Tyrant is such a diverse song, featuring all of the above characteristics combined into one song perfectly. Great guitar solos, catchy chorus and very skilled vocals. Inside The Maze is one of the more melodic tracks off the album. What I love about this song (and the album) is that they mostly create their epic sound with guitars and the vocal style, keeping keyboards as a backing instrument, rather than having it the focus as most similar bands do.

This album is easily one of my favourites for the year and in my opinion an essential for any power metal fan, or a perfect introduction to those who are unfamiliar with the genre.

 

 

J

xx

Album Review – Elvenking – The Pagan Manifesto

So this is my first album review =D I hope you enjoy it. I am going to try to do this every time a band I like releases a new album. Artist: Elvenking

Album: The Pagan Manifesto

Genre: Folk Metal

Released: 9th May 2014

 

Track listing:

01. The Manifesto

02. King Of The Elves

03. Elvenlegions

04. The Druid Ritual Of Oak

05. Moonbeam Stone Circle

06. The Solitaire

07. Towards The Shores

08. Pagan Revolution

09. Grandier’s Funeral Pyre

10. Twilight Of Magic

11. Black Roses For The Wicked One

12. Witches Gather

 

I’ll always have a soft spot for Elvenking, as they were one of the first Folk Metal bands I discovered when I first got into the genre. They have always been one of those bands that I listen to every now and then, but not all the time, as their usual stuff gets very predictable. However, I feel this album marks a new beginning for Elvenking. There is immense improvement in their musical skills and this album honestly blew me away. It does not happen very often that I can listen to an entire album on repeat for hours without skipping a single song, but this album is one of these. Elvenking’s sound has matured a considerable amount over the past few albums. Their catchy melodies and lyrics about witches, rituals and magick had me ensnared from the first song. With this album they have moved away from their alternative sound and incorporated more Folk metal. Keep in mind though that Elvenking is known for their cheeseyness when it comes to melodies, but I actually love this part of their sound. The best way I can think to describe the album as a whole is the theatrical sound of Avantasia meets the folk melodies of Eluveitie.

Choosing a favourite track was next to impossible, because there is not one song on the album that I don’t adore, but I think it’s between Black Roses For The Wicked One or Witches Gather. The album also includes 3 beautiful instrumental tracks, of which Amethyst is definitely my favourite.

This album is a great listen and I’d highly recommend it to any Folk metal fan, or even to those who are unfamiliar with the genre.

 

Rating 4 Star

J

xx