ALBUM REVIEW: Beyond The Black – Hørizøns

Continuing to shrug off their symphonic metal tag, German five-piece Beyond the Black have stepped further into the realm of Europop based metal on their fourth full-length release, Hørizøns (Napalm Records). Continue reading

ALBUM REVIEW: Frayle – 1692

Despite an apparent reluctance to classify herself as a white witch Gwyn Strang, vocalist for Cleveland Doom / Post quintet Frayle, identifies as a spiritual being in touch with strong forces, and debut album 1692 (Aqualamb Records/Lay Bare Recordings) comes with a rather plush book explaining ancient magick among other things. It’s a daring opening gambit, complete with album title surely referring to the Salem witch trials, but does the accompanying music live up to this?

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ALBUM REVIEW: Nightwish – Human. :||: Nature.

With gaps of up to five years between studio albums, it takes some serious dedication to be a Nightwish fan these days. Since 2007, the band has only released four albums, but in that time, their fanbase has grown so large that the symphonic Finns (well, mostly Finnish) have been able to make that often treacherous leap from mid-sized venues to selling out full arenas. Continue reading

ALBUM REVIEW: Delain – Apocalypse and Chill

The fifth full-length release from Delain finds the Dutch symphonic metal act looking towards the future with a combined sense of fear and optimism. Appearing to presage dark, dystopian times, the riffs and beats on the latest album Apocalypse & Chill (Napalm Records) are countered (for the most part) by the uplifting vocal melodies of singer Charlotte Wessels as they suggest a more hopeful future. Continue reading

ALBUM REVIEW: Serenity – The Last Knight

The seventh full-length album by symphonic metal act Serenity, The Last Knight (Napalm Records) is inspired by the story of Maximilian I, the Holy Roman Emperor who, through a combination of military pressure, treaties, and marriage, expanded Austria’s borders across Europe for his family, the Habsburgs. Continue reading

ALBUM REVIEW: Amberian Dawn – Looking For You

Starting out in 2008 as a neoclassical power metal act, Finnish band Amberian Dawn have continued to evolve and refine their sound over the years. Now, with their ninth full-length release, Looking For You (Napalm Records), the band have decided to fully embrace their already less than hidden inner Abba, even recording in Benny Andersson’s own studio and using some of the legendary Swedish pop band’s original equipment. Continue reading

ALBUM REVIEW: Lindsay Schoolcraft – Martyr

Some good advice I received from my mentor in music criticism was to never underestimate or pigeonhole an artist. Cradle of Filth has made a twenty-five year career out of Black and Death Metal music supremacy, often covering the dark and all about that blasphemous life. Although she definitely has earned her place in that world as a member of that band, singer and multi-talented musician Lindsay Schoolcraft displays a wide array of gifts will not fit in a neat box for you to file and categorize. On her debut solo album Martyr (Self-Released), she satisfies her jones (and ours) for all types of Gothy Metal and Rock styles.

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Majestica – Above The Sky

Unless you keep one eye permanently fixed on the European power metal scene, the chances are you might not have heard of Swedish act Majestica. You’ll have probably have heard of ReinXeed though, and – no matter what your opinion of them might be – you’ll definitely have heard of Sabaton. The link between them all? Guitarist Tommy Johansson. Continue reading

Sonata Arctica – Witherfall Live Islington Assembly Hall

Another long trip down to London sees me taking in Sonata Arctica, with a single support in the form of Witherfall, both playing an acoustic set in a fairly intimate setting. The beautiful surroundings of the Islington Assembly Hall look quite akin to a theatre in days of yore, a fitting scene for when promises to be an intimate evening of laid back entertainment. Continue reading