ALBUM REVIEW: The Mars Volta – The Mars Volta


 

It’s 2022, September already, a busy time for album releases, a welter of “product” and, more importantly, a feast of music. And I can safely say that – until now – I haven’t heard an album quite like The Mars Volta. Continue reading


ALBUM REVIEW: Satyricon – Satyricon and Munch


Satyricon & Munch (Napalm Records) is the coming together of two icons of Oslo, Norway – the visuals of artist Edvard Munch inform a new piece of music by black metal veterans Satyricon. With the music inspired by — and presented as part of — a new exhibition at Oslo’s MUNCH museum, this 56-minute recording of new material exists also independent of its visual counterpart. If expecting a full-on black metal album, approach with caution; for those ready for an atmospheric, instrumental journey, this dark trip may be worthy of your time.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Abhorrent Expanse – Gateways to Resplendence


The concept Abhorrent Expanse debut release Gateways to Resplendence (Amalgam / Lurker Bias) is indeed a fascinating one. All the tracks have been improvised, and the whole thing was performed as a continuous take. Nothing specific was discussed beforehand except for the pairings of who would play each section and how long they would last, it all being tracked by a stopwatch. The result of such a challenge is interesting if a polarized hit-and-miss affair. Continue reading


Dani Filth Shares His Thirteen Essential Albums For Halloween


Halloween is a week away, and Cradle of Filth‘s legendary vocalist, Dani Filth, has shared his thirteen essential albums for the holiday online today. Continue reading


The Melvins – A Walk With Love And Death


The Melvins formed in 1983 in Washington, and have been dishing out radical tunes since day one, but thirty-four years deep they’re pushing the envelope once more, with a double album. Disc one, Death, sees nine tracks of corkscrew, minimalistic arty alternative rock, while the second part, Love, sees the band provide the score to a short film from independent director Jesse Nieminen; a combined effort with sees a kaleidoscope of murky, temperamental and psychedelically angular musical ideas.Continue reading


Kamelot – Haven


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Haven (Napalm), American Power Metal band Kamelot’s eleventh studio album and second since the departure of Roy Khan, is an album that sounds like a musical at heart, like it was fastidiously crafted to be performed on Broadway. Its stylings and symphonic groundings and Tommy Karevik’s leading man performance all point to it, and so effective is their dramatic voice, perhaps taking their work to the theatrical stage is the next step they need to take to fully realize a legacy that has been consolidated by consistency.

Historically, the Floridians have always been walked on safe, and not the wild, side. A touch of fantasy, a host of symphonics, with soaring, immaculate vocals on top, they have always delivered and always sounded utmost in their professionalism and musicianship, but never truly excited; a band that, while most definitely best in class (though perhaps by default), are at times too slick and lack the insanity/genius of a great.

The heady mix of Savatage, Dream Theater and Queensrÿche coupled with effective symphonics and Andrew Lloyd Webber musical theatrics is near-perfected in opening duo ‘Fallen Star’ and ‘Insomnia’, up there with the best tracks of the bands’ career, but it is with ‘Under Grey Skies’ and the addition of Charlotte Wessels’ (Delain) dreamy vocals and Troy Donockley (Nightwish)’s tin whistle that matters bloom and the full epic musical scale of the vision for the album begins to be realized. It sails close to the Eurovision ballad wind, but it’s a beautiful song fully suited to a soundtrack or a musical. Elsewhere, downtuned staccato rhythms underpin grandiose unveilings and Karevik dispels any notions that the band can’t succeed without Khan with an assured performance; actor, narrator, singer, frontman and further proof that the line between Kamelot’s albums and musical theatre is a thin one.

All the previous criticisms can apply: this is a slick, professional band, but on Haven Kamelot have once again verified they are best in class, and have found an emotional connection. No longer cold to the touch, they are bringing to life their vision most effectively and with genuine zest. While retaining all the expected hallmarks, it is most definitely meticulously put together (if the devil is in the detail, then Haven is positively Satanic) but there is something more to it; something exuberant bubbling through. You would expect a band entering their third decade to have the requisite chops, but you wouldn’t necessarily expect them to be injecting such vitality and vigour into the mix.

 

7.5/10

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STEVE TOVEY