This year’s Rockharz Open Air is sold-out, faster than ever before. As preparations begin to host the 25th edition of the festival, it will take place from July 4th to July 7th, 2018 in Ballenstedt. The fest is headlined by In Flames, Powerwolf, Kreator, Hammerfall, Eisbrecher, Paradise Lost, Amorphis, Knorkator, Schandmaul, Cannibal Corpse, Alestorm, Ensiferum, Exodus, Sodom, Equilibrium, Die Apokalyptischen Reiter, Finntroll, Battle Beast, Amaranthe, Bannkreis, Gloryhammer and many more. You can see the final poster below. Continue reading
Rockharz Open Air is celebrating 25 years as a festival in 2018. This year’s fest is already loaded with talent and grows all the time, now with six new bands. Joining the lineup headlined by In Flames, Powerwolf, Kreator, and Hammerfall are Bannkreis, Versengold, Winterstorm, Oni, Blind Channel, Manntra with special guest, Michael Rhein (In Extremo). The fest takes place from July 4th to July 7th 2018 in Ballenstedt, Germany. Tickets are on sale now and a sellout is expected. Continue reading
Estonian folk metallers Metsatoll have been added to the upcoming 70000 Tons Of Metal Cruise, setting sail in less than a months time. As of now 46 of the 60 bands have been announced for the cruise, which is sold out but has a wait list that makes it possible to get a last-minute ticket. Continue reading
Rockharz Festival, celebrating 25 years in 2018, has completed their incredible line-up with the addition of Powerwolf, Cannibal Corpse, and Sodom. Tickets are on sale now and Ghost Cult has the full details. Continue reading
The 25th Anniversary edition of the Rockharz Festival has added Alestorm, Primal Fear, Ahab, Erdling, Letzte Instanz and Nothgard to the 2018 event. Rockharz takes place next July 4th to July 7th 2018 In Ballenstedt, Germany.
The full lineup for Rockharz 2018 so far includes: Continue reading
Symphonic Power Metal band Serenity is back with a new album, Lionheart (Napalm), and they are strong as ever. As on previous album Codex Atlanticus, which explored the life and writings of Leonardo DaVinci, the band’s passion for history inspired the themes and lyrics of the album. Continue reading
Formed in 2009, American/Canadian Power Metal act Insatia have hardly been the most prolific studio band, with only the independently released (but fairly well received) 2013 début, Asylum Denied, to their name after four years in existence. Another four years and an almost complete overhaul in personnel later, the band return with impressive sophomore offering, Phoenix Aflame (Pitch Black). Continue reading
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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It seems that being in one band just isn’t enough for some musicians these days. Especially within the European Power and Symphonic Metal scenes. Quite possibly two of the most (musically) incestuous genres of all, there seems to be an unwritten law that every band has to release an album featuring a bare minimum of one special guest, or contain at least two members who have performed, produced or written material for no fewer than three other bands. So it comes as no surprise to find that the first release from Phantasma, a collective effort from Charlotte Wessels (Delain), Georg Neuhauser (Serenity) and Oliver Philipps (Everon), contains performances from no less than six guest musicians. As enticing as that prospect may be to fans of the acts involved, it’s all too common for collaborations like this to end with mixed or disappointing results, and The Deviant Hearts (Napalm) is no exception.
Opening with a nice, but rather twee sounding duet from Wessels and Neuhauser, the piano played ‘Incomplete’ sounds like it would have been more at home at the end of the record rather than the beginning. Evergrey vocalist Tom Englund lends his voice to the powerful title track, and things continue in good form with ‘Runaway Gray’. Easily the best track on the album, it features a superb performance by Wessels, with more than a hint of James Bond theme song about the verses, and even a touch of Rush during the middle section.
Things take a hefty downward turn, however, with ‘Try’. A horribly overwrought ballad featuring Trans-Siberian Orchestra singer Chloe Lowery, who although clearly capable of belting out high notes with ease, seems unable to sing softly without her voice cracking on almost every line. ‘Enter Dreamscape’ is a substantial improvement on the previous track, but it’s still just standard fare which sounds like it could have been written for any band within the genre.
‘Miserable Me’ begins by slowing down and reworking the tune to ‘Money, Money, Money’ by Abba before plodding off to nowhere interesting. Duet ‘The Lotus and the Willow’ is an attempt at recreating the Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue classic ‘Where The Wild Roses Grow’ but falls miles short of the mark. An insipid and forgettable tune, the song only lifts off momentarily during its Top Gun-esque guitar solo. ‘Crimson Course’ is another nondescript song that sounds like it could have been written for anyone, and the only memorable thing about ‘Carry Me Home’ is the return of that Top Gun style guitar solo.
By now, everything has started to sound like music from movies and other bands, and ‘The Sound of Fear’ does nothing to change that by appearing to be several old songs at once. The upbeat ‘Novaturient’ rescues things a little until it tries to be Meat Loaf, and ‘Let It Die’ closes proceedings as best it can, but it’s essentially just another song with nothing more to offer than a reasonably strong chorus.
At its best, The Deviant Hearts is a good, listenable album with two or three memorable songs, a handful of strong choruses, and some excellent vocal performances by Wessels and Neuhauser. But for the most part, it’s just a collection of songs not strong enough to make it onto the albums of any of the bands involved.