Alter Bridge – Live At The Royal Albert Hall feat. The Parallax Orchestra

The first thing that strikes you during the sumptuous, slow-build to opening track ‘Slip To The Void’ is how perfect the marriage of Alter Bridge and The Parallax Orchestra is; Myles Kennedy’s vulnerable, melancholic introduction is subtly embellished by the swells of strings before the dramatic introduction of the guitars and the rest of the band is powerfully bolstered for the heavy verse, with perfect accentuation following on the middle eight.Continue reading

Serenity – Codex Atlanticus


Serenity from Austria releases their fifth album Codex Atlanticus via Napalm Records on 29 January 2016. The opening of Codex Atlanticus sounds like a soundtrack for some epic heroic battle. There are lots of violins and ethereal vocalizing. As it moves forward you are swept up in the grandiose music and then it abruptly ends. I halfway expected our hero to come bursting forth, sword in hand to take on the bad guy. But no, then came some really nice piano music and the crushing sound of rock and roll which quickly led to electronica prog. A lot of stuff is happening and ‘Follow Me’ hasn’t even been on for a minute. The vocals kick in and I’m transported to the 90s and Japanese cartoons. I swear, Georg Neuhauser sounds like the go to singer for every awesome Japanese anime series. You want to sing along whilst striking a pose in a mirror.

Neuhauser’s vocals aren’t the only things that are inspiring. The sheer cacophony of composition on Codex Atlanticus is uplifting. From Andreas Schipflinger’s drumming to Jan Vacik on keyboards. Codex Atlanticus may at first sound cheesy, but let yourself go and get lost in the music. It makes you feel good! The lyrics are uplifting and powerful. The more you listen to this album, the better it becomes. For example, ‘Iniquity’ is a song that Iron Maiden wishes they wrote. It’s got great guitars, awesome soloing, epic auxiliary music, and meaningful lyrics without being boring and heavy handed. ‘Iniquity’ is definitely my favourite track on the album!

Codex Atlanticus is multilayered. The compositions are chalk full of twists and turns. ‘My Final Chapter’, for example, starts out with a pagan influenced flute and adds power ballad vocals. It’s an interesting mix. At 2:28 a strong 80s hair metal guitar solo crashes in and uplifts the song. Codex Atlanticus is full of such juxtapositions. Serenity’s Codex Atlanticus is a solid progressive orchestral saga soundtrack album.




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Septicflesh – Titan


Being a fan of early Septicflesh, I’m keen on the Tim Bricheno-style emotive leads – less evident from their middle period onwards – and I fell away from the Greek ensemble after the bizarre, Big Top like noodlings of A Fallen Temple (Holy) which verged on lunacy and alienated many. Though new full-length Titan (Season of Mist) displays much pomp and grandeur, the seamless blend of death metal and orchestral effects is a throwback to their salad days.

Opener ‘War in Heaven’ begins with the duelling of sharp, buzzing riffs and symphonic keys, and when both blastbeats and Seth Siro Anton‘s alarming growl kick in, it portrays the impending cataclysmic battle well. Its centre-point sees chopping rhythms augmented by complex drum patterns, and this explodes and ebbs in fiery fashion to the Gregorian coda. It is a powerful, dramatic beginning that sets the album’s tone. Elsewhere, the death brutality of ‘Burn’ and ‘Ground Zero’ are countermanded by softly intoned choruses, symphonic swells and a brief appearance from those mournful leads. The orchestra is here in force as horns, strings and bass drums decorate the mildly odd ‘Order of Dracul’ and ‘Confessions of a Serial Killer’, the former seeing a harpsichord also absorb the angry pace.

The drama and intense passion reaches a zenith in ‘Prometheus’ with the growling passages quieted by choral breaks reminiscent of ‘Carmina Burana’, whilst the centre break of flute and harp adds the power of emotion. This continues into the heavy-as-hell title track, with galloping strings and more Orff-style choruses augmenting the blistering power and a most addictive chant-a-long refrain. The euphoric closer ‘The First Immortal’ skirts with that kitsch “metal musical” trapdoor but this time retains its strength and brutality amongst the moments of pomp and beauty to create a meaningful and stirring end piece.

There can be few more divisive bands around than Septicflesh at present, but whichever side of the fence you’re on, you can’t deny they’re bloody entertaining. Those of us with a fondness for them can only breathe a sigh of relief at another show of form.

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