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Hedon (Eternal Night)

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Frailty [Us Import]
Frailty [Us Import]

3.0 out of 5 stars Nice but nothing groundbreaking, 4 Feb 2010
This review is from: Frailty [Us Import] (Audio CD)
I became interested in Duskfall after i heard that one of their founding members was Mikael Sandorf, former guitarist and vocalist with the little known but brilliant melodeath pioneers Gates Of Ishtar. While a lot of similarities can be heard between both bands, (Agrophobic is pretty much a reworking of Battles to Come) Duskfall has stepped away from the classic melodeath and black metal learnings of Gates of Ishtar to go for a modern sound, with downtuned guitars, simplified riffing and more of a thrash/groove metal vibe at its core. Pretty much bread and butter modern melodeath that doesn't really do anything to stand out from the crowd, but is by no means a bad album. What really does save this album from eternal exile to the depths of mediocracy is the wonderful lead guitar work that manages to keep the band aflout and a few inches above the competition. The rythym guitars can get a bit standard at times, but there's no room for bordom thanks to the soaring leads on tracks like 'Farewell Song' or 'Tune of Slaughtered Hearts'. When the band do break out of the mould a little, like the clean vocals on the title track or the proggy solo duel at the end of 'Deliverence' the results are always pleasing.

Its a shame Duskfall have none of the intricacies of Gates of Ishtar, going instead for a simple and probably more accesable style of songs. That said, its a pretty cracking album, just a bit standard and low on originality. Fans of the genre or Gates of Ishtar will most likely enjoy banging away to Frailty, but anyone who's not a bit of a melodic death metal fanatic might have a hard time getting into this.

The Isolation Game
The Isolation Game
Price: 16.21

4.0 out of 5 stars Isolation, 4 Feb 2010
This review is from: The Isolation Game (Audio CD)
The Isolation Game is a 4th album from Italian melodic deathsters Disarmonia Mundi.

Following on from the excellent Mind Tricks, Isolation Game sees them changing things up slightly and expanding their sound in a few different directions. From the onset its obvious that this is a fair bit beefier and that the thrash and groove metal elements are more prominent then previous offerings. DM have always been a good shade heavier then your average In Flames wannabe, but the hell for leather thrashings of Blacklight Rush, Digging the Grave of Silence and Same Old Nails... see the band edging towards semi-extreme territory. A lot of this is due to some really crushing riffs and much more brutal drumming form band mastermind and multi-talented Ettore Rigotti, expecially in his blast beats. Paradoxically, at the same time the band has gotten a little bit softer in their melodies and bizarrly taken on a bit of a metalcore influence; some of the clean vocals and stattaco riffs owe a lot to a certain Killswitch Engage (see The Isolation Game and Ties that Bind). Metalcore isn't really my cup f tea these days, but thankfully Rigotti is such a good song wrtier he manages to make it work with DMs melodic death and thrash roots. Lets get one thing clear though, by 'metalcore' i don't mean the watered down dribble of bands like Bullet for My Valentine, but rarther the better offerings of that genre like Alive or Just Breathing by Killswitch. And we're talking melodeath with metalcore influences rather then wholescale metalcore.

The resulting album is something of an oddity in that it's heavier and also more accesable then their previous offerings at the same time. On the plus, the duo has arrived at their own sound and can't be written off by detractors as Soilwork clones anymore. Its also a really busy album; there's just so much going on all the time with multiple layers of vocals, guitars and electronics and proably the most complex writing since their debut. I think Rigotti really pushed himself in terms of composition - he's still doing things that leave the majority of melodic death metallers in the dust as far as six strings are concerned (see Loosing Ground, Digging the Grave of Silence, Shape of Things to come). Claudio also does a good job on death vocals, although he too has picked up a bit of a metalcore edge.

I definitely like Isolation Game, despite it being panned by a lot of the metal media. i'm pleased to see the band expanding on their sound and progressing. I really likes the more extreme elements of this album, and as always Rigotti's instrumental prowess is something to behold. I just can't help thinking if they'd turned down the sugary emo-metalcore singing a bit this could have been a lot better, but i guess its just my personal preference at the end of the day. Overall, great guitar work, good interplay of melody and agression, well written, well produced, and with enough variety to make it worth your while. it doesn't top Mind Tricks or Fragments of D-generation though...

Price: 5.40

3.0 out of 5 stars silly lyrics but quality metal, 2 Feb 2010
This review is from: Battlesluts (Audio CD)
Aside from the tough guy hardcore bands plagerizing their way through the vault of At The Gates and In Flames riffs, the whole melodic death and extreme power metal things have always been a distincly European affair, as by and large the OTT keyboard effects and neo-classical sensebilities have not been seen as remotely 'cool' or marketable in the American metal market. At the risk of being terribly eurocentric, it seems that stateside they like their Lambs of Gods, their Hatebreeds and their Killswitch Engages but not a lot else... which makes Destroy Destroy Destroy all the more interesting.

Somewhere between the dungeons and dragons black metal of Bal Sagoth and the extreme power metal of Norther we find DDD. Fast shredding guitars, vicious blasts of double bass drumming, symphonic keyboards that give Rhapsody a run for their money and the type of high pitched black metal vocals most of us can't do without tweezers and a hole in our pockets and American band playing metal in a very Scandinavian style. And playing it rather well.

Overall i do enjoyed listen to Battle Sluts quite a bit. The band have a really good grasp of melody, the keyboards are very epic and the drumming is pretty insane. While on the whole the song writing is rather simple, the songs a very anthemic and 'building up' feel, especially on 'The Winged Panther' or 'Realm of Ancient Shadows', and they're also not afraid to put pedal to the metal on 'Beserkers field of Whores' (who came up with those song titles?) The best song, 'Return of the Grishmal Undead' really shows the band at their best and most epic, breaking things up with choir style vocals and some clean guitars too. My only real complaint is that the guitar work can be a bit bland and simple at time, especially compared with their brethern from across the pond, and i would have liked to hear some more guitar solos. However, i think there's a great deal of potential in DDD; with a few years of touring and songwriting experience these guys could be blowing our socks off.

Not a great album, but a good one that shows a lot of promise. They may not be able to measure up with genre-giants like Kalmah, Skyfire or Insomnium, but DDD are a good band in their own right and, compared with the current state of US metal, they can give themselves a well deserved pat on the back for Battle Sluts. Looking forward to the next album for sure.

A solid 3 out of 5

Price: 13.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BOOM, 1 Feb 2010
This review is from: Farsotstider (Audio CD)
Thyrfing should need no introduction. These Swedes were doning chainmail and penning rightoues viking anthems long before the genre became popular. if anyone doubts their influence in the scene, a quick listen to Valdr Galga will reveal more then a few ideas that were pilfered by a certain Turisas on their acclaimed album 'Battle Metal'.

But back to Thyrfing. Having established themselves as big names in Europe, Farsotsider took then band into a new avenue, one far darker and obscurer then any of their previous works which, lyrically and musically, distances them from the cheery chirpy drinking songs of their peers. With running theme of the black plague and music of equal evil, Thryfing have given us a crushing, relentless beating of an album here. Gone are the cheesy videogame keyboards and bouncy folk influences while in came the doom, the sludge, a wiff of post-rock and prog, and the almighty onslaught of thw bludgeoning guitar riff. As the whole viking/folk thing has become very popular, i can't help but feel its a smart move.

What we have is mainly slow to mid paced tracks with HUGE riffs and a punishing extreme metal ethic far more brutal then anything that came before. Really meaty, full of aggression and hate is this album, which importanlty sees the guitars taking over from the keys as the lead instrument. However, the keys still have a crucial role. Although pulled in the background, they provide a backbone of chillingly sublte melody to the songs - and yes, less is definitely more. working together with the heavy riffing, it layers the album in a thick, desperate atmosphere of pain, isolation and suffering that'll send the posers running for their korpiklaani albums. The folk melodies are still present, pulled into the back too, but a much darker and sombre kind of folk. Sparse use of clean vocals and choirs also serve to add a certain ethereal touch when needed. As a result, this album takes on a form of its own, transporting the listener to a dark throny world, populated by waves of pummeling riffs and esoteric melodies. The best comparison would be the slower Falkenback tunes, but still this album is pure Thyrfing, and pure brilliance it is. Props also go to singer, who sounds terrifyly possesed behind the mic and he spits bile and filth in his nature Swedish. Shame he left after this album.

The songs themselves cover a lot of ground such as the lumbering beat down of Far at Helvete or the evil groove of Balderbalet while the suberb Host shows the band using more melodic and emotional means to get their message across. Certain songs like Taden laker Intet and Sjalvark show some very prog tendencies. Then again, if you're looking for the soul of this album, the title track covers just about every element of the cd in one epic hammerfist of a song.

This, indeed, as a painful and crushing album. Original, varied, interesting and heavy to boot, one of the best in the genre for sure. Fans of Valdr Galga and Urkraft might not be too keen on this, but anyone into the heavier side of folk metal would be insane to ignore Farsotstider. By moving into pastures new and grusome, the band have revitalised their sound and smartly distanced themselves from the emerging mass of Ensiferum clones. This album does for Viking Metal what Wil Haven and Cult of Luna do for hardcore. be prepared for a good battering!

4.7 out of 5

Hydrodynamic Wave
Hydrodynamic Wave
Price: 12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anders and co please take note!, 1 Nov 2009
This review is from: Hydrodynamic Wave (Audio CD)
Hydrodynamic Wave is the 'debut album' from Italian melodic death/power metal band Lunarsea. I say 'debut album' because this is more of an amalgamation of two eps and three new songs (Qubenauts, Hate net on a Barren Heart and Still Age Still Time), but this sounds like a complete album through and through.

Musically, Lunarsea do owe a lot to the former kings of Melodic Death metal, especially from Colony when In Flames began their flirtations with more mainstream and accessable sounds. At its core, Hydrodynamic Wave takes a firm base of Gothenburg style melodic death and adds to it some clean singing (which is actually done rather well for a change) some pop melodies and spacey electronics by way of syntesisers. I hear that some of the members used to also play in a power metal band, and that also shines through in a number of places. But somehow, and i can't put my finger on exactly how they do it, Lunarsea really make their sound work in a way that for surpasses recent albums from In Flames or Soilwork. Maybe its because the clean vocals are never too sugary and are devoid of the emo/nu-metal angst i hate? Maybe its because the melodeth parts are still realy energetic and not watered down? Maybe its because the guitar playing is just out of this world? I don't know why, but Lunarsea combine pop melody and melodeth fury in a way which brilliantly compliments one another and adds layers and layers to their sound. Like i said, the guitar playing is absolutly stellar to the point the every Lunarsea throw into the mix is pure gold, and the electronics give everything a sort of spacey/sci-fi edge that helps balance a more modern atmosphere to the proceedings. On the same note, the band aren;t afraid of their guitar effects either, with tasteful use of phase, chorus and harmony effects that combine very well with the syth. The vocals, both death and clean, are of a consitently high calibar all the way through, while the solos will blow you away. All in all, they deliver a very accomplished album with great riffs and show a mature mastery of dynamic compositions that its very exciting to listen to and easily keeps my attention for the whole CD.

As aforementioned, i don't know why i like Lunarsea so much, as this is usually the stuff i turn my nose up at. Some of the choruses are very pop! But they do make it work, so well in fact that this album has been on almost constant repeat since i got it. I think i even listened to it 4 times in one day!

In an alternate universe where In Flames actually still made good albums of accesable melodeth, they might sound something like this. A great album from a band that have great things ahead of them. For fans of In Flames, Soilwork, Disarmonia Mundi, Dark Tranquillity (newer), Mors Principium Est, Norther etc

It's also worth checking out their follow up Route Code Selector. I haven't listen to it much yet but first impressions are very good!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 1, 2013 3:43 PM BST

Raven Flight
Raven Flight
Offered by Ets Bucher25400
Price: 5.93

4.0 out of 5 stars damm solid album of Baltic metal from the rooskies, 1 Nov 2009
This review is from: Raven Flight (Audio CD)
My seemingly never-ending journey for quality Viking metal has finally taken me all the way to Russia with Nomans Land and their third album 'Raven Flight'. The first thing thats sets the band aside from the Scandinavian scene is the distinct Russian/Slavic sounding folk melodies which give this album it's soul. Although not being tremendously heavy, Nomans Land ensue a much more sombre sound then many of their peers; often the melodies are quite tragic and melancholy, and there's an overall aura of bleakness and harshness which places them closer to the likes of Managarm then Turisas or Ensiferum. Musically, the rhythm guitars are firmly based in melodic black metal territory with plently of tremelo rhythms and often slightly dissonant chord progressions, while the leads, one of the stong points of the band, have that quasi-heroic Viking metal quality we all know and love. The vocals for the main part are very harsh, while two songs also see the use of some brilliant baritone singing. There's also some subtle keyboards that add a pleasant atmosphere to the proceedings.

Raven's Flight is not the best Viking metal album out there, but is well written, well played and has a lovely gritty production that gives a nice crunchy edge. Infact, it's pretty amazing that the band have succeded in crafting genuine atmosphere without choirs or orchestras. Its also note worthy that the band inject a needed amount of variety into their work with an acoustic outra and intro and some songs strongly leaning towards black metal (To farl lands, Raven Flight) sometimes thrash (beard of the Storm), while others are rooted in the Epic folk metal sense (Dragons Grin, Bridge Warder, Torir Scald), and this variety works well for the band. Althouth there are clear standout tracks like Dragons Grin, Torir Scald, Bridge Warder, Mjolner and To Far Lands, the whole album stays valid with soaring majestic melodies, jagged riffing, some pretty great drummming (with AWESOME double bass) from start to finsh yet all the while a brooding sense of sorrow flows underneath. Things really come to a head on Dragons Grin, while has melodies to die for and a harrowing performance by the clean vocalist.

It definitly took a while to get into this album as it isn't as immediate as one might think, and to be honest i didn;t like a lot of the songs until i'd listened to the album through a good few times. The only thing i'm dissapointed with is that only two,inculding the best track of the CD, of the tracks have the brilliant clear vocals on them - If your're listening out their Nomans Land we would like some more please...

Overall, a promising album from a band i'd love to hear more from. Sure, this isn't gonna knock Managarm or Ensierfum off the Viking Metal throne anytime soon, but its a for sure good listen, and Nomans Land have found their own wee niche in the genre. If you're looking for more Viking Metal and want to try something that a flagon rawer then the usual drinking-party sing along album, give these Russian lads a shot. Songs like Torir Scald and the brilliant Dragons Grin show that Nomans Land definitly have the potential to rise to greatness, and they much just get there.

The Days Of Grays (Ltd. Dcd)
The Days Of Grays (Ltd. Dcd)

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not quite my cup of tea, 3 Oct 2009
THe last few years have been pretty rough on the Arctica boys. Not so long ago these Finns were hailed as one of the premier teams in the power metal league, and after their initial hat trick of 'Ecliptica', 'Silence', and the outright classic 'Winterheart's Guild', they had pretty much annihilated the competition. However, since then, the band has been struggling to break free of the confines of the genre they mastered. Their last album, Unia, dropped for the most part the double-bass speed-fests and heralded a drastic change to their trademark sound, becoming much darker, quirkier and experimenting with proggressive structures, stattaco rythyms and more modern rock elements. Many fans deserted them in shock, while many others desided to put the band on the back burner until they returned to their original style.

Well, Days of Grays is definitly not a 'back to roots' affair. Despite the lead single 'Flag in the ground' it sees SA furthering their evolution along the proggressive metal/rock lines of Unia. So we have mainly slow to mid paced songs, with lots of time changes and different tempos along the way with a more drawn out apporach to song writing which requires multiple listens to really get into.

Now, the thing about Days of Grays is the way you rate it really depends on where you are at in relation to the Sonata. If you are someone who derived an eternity of enjoyment form their first four offerings and didn;t like Unia, then there's probably not that much you're going to like about Days of Grays, and you might want to take a star off. If you did enjoy Unia and also like more recent albums from, say, Blind Guardian or another other bands that have broke the power metal mold, then there's a good chance you'll like this and might want to add a star or two. Similarly, if you like slow, proggressive rock/metal songs that are rather laid back yet also with strong melodies and orchestral textures, you might like this too.

As for me? Well, i'm one of those guys who loved their older works and while i did like a lot of what was on Unia, it wasn't really my cup of tea. as for Days of Grays, well, i think there's a lot of good ideas, and there's plenty of quirky and interesting elements... well, if i'm honest i liked the melodies and Tony Kakko has one of the most captivating voices in metal, but i just found the whole thing a bit boring. However, i recognise that a lot of talent and hard work went into this. It's strange in that i can really appreciate this album musically, but i just don't really want to listen to it a lot. Its just not my thing. But it might be yours...


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good comeback from the Swedes, 24 Sep 2009
This review is from: Esoteric (Audio CD)
Skyfire are back after five long years of poor exposure, infrequent touring, label difficulties and line up changes to deliver their fourth album Esoteric. As one of my favourite bands of the last few years, expectations were high...

Esoteric has a lot going for it. Stylisticaly, it sees the band trying to find a middle ground from all of their previous albums - the neo-classical and orchestral grandiose of their debut, speed and aggression of Mind Revolution and the sinister sounding Spectral. First off, it contains a vast amount of variety, from blast beats and speedy thrashing to chunky grooves, soaring guitar melodies, delicate piano pieces and more, usually within the same song. There's also been a lot of work put into the guitars, as the album contains some of the fastest, heaviest and most complex work to date from the band. Its also worth noting that the band actually used a real orchestra and chior for this album, which sounds hauntingly beautiful. The drumming of Joakim Johnsson is something to behold, and the drums have a bit more space in the production and sound really powerful. I love the way he can switch from a blast beat or some really fast double bass to a completly different tempo like it was nothing. and nothing could make me happier then the solos that are on three or four of the tracks. Fianlly!

And then there's the question of the new vocalist Joakim Karlsson. this difference between him and the last guy is negligable. nuff said

When Esoteric is firing all cylinders, souch as on standout tracks like 'Secluded', 'Esortic' and 'Legacy of the Defeated' there's little denying the talent of Skyfire. However, there's a few tracks on here that just amble along a bit aimlessly, and some of the longer numbers get lost in too many riffs and time changes,( i guess this happens when you've been working on an album for five years). I think they could have shaved a good 10 minutes of sonic puppy fat off. Also, the sinister atmospherics and prog influences of Spectral are strangly abscent... this seems like a bit of a step back when they should be stepping forward. Still, this in no way implies that Esoteric is a bad album. its still a cut above the competition, but it isn't really up their last few efforts.

So there it is. Esoteric is a good album and a good comeback effort from the Swedes. I did really enjoy listening to it, but i know their are capable of better. Let's just hope they live up to their potential next time

Fans of the band and the genre will probably like this. If you're getting into Skyfire for the first time i'd suggest Mind Revolution of Spectral before this :)

Dragonheads Ep
Dragonheads Ep
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 7.57

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars truck stop before Victory Songs, 14 Sep 2009
This review is from: Dragonheads Ep (Audio CD)
Yup, this little EP was just a little stop off before Victory Songs was released, and it doesn't take a Sherlock Holmes to realise that this was probably just a way of the band prooving to the fans (and dare i say themselves) that they can still make great music without Jari. There's only one original song 'Dragonheads', a jaunty mid-paced tune which actually sounds a lot like blind Guardian but with some black metal screams in there, so i'd be hard pressed to recommend this to all but Ensiferum super-fans and completists. Although i must say it was nice to hear re-recorded versions of 'Warrior Quest' and the brilliant 'White Storm' (both previously only available on the Ensiferum 1997-1999 demo compilation) with new keyboard lines. the amorphis cover is pretty good too, but no one is gonna jump for joy at the two folk songs on here, which are pleasant but forgetable.

Like i said, anyone who is a huge Ensiferum fan looking to complete their discography will not be dissapointed by this nice little EP, but casual fans or anyone checking the band out for the first time would do better to pick up one of their albums.

An Epic Defiance
An Epic Defiance
Price: 17.05

5.0 out of 5 stars one of the Top 10 melodeth albums without a doubt, 5 Sep 2009
This review is from: An Epic Defiance (Audio CD)
When i think of Holland i think of ridiculous british tourists indulging in 'relaxed' drug laws and Harr Enfeild comedy sketches. But finally a band has come along that has changed my opinion of the country forever. Detonation are indeed a melodic death metal band, but before you think 'not another Gothenburg wannabe' i can confirm that they are anything but that. Yes, i'm sure they would site our old favourites Dark Tranquillity and At the Gates as influences, but bands like Death, Slayer, Death Angel, Kreator, Megadeth, and possibly even Dream Theatre come to mind when bangning along to this baby.

The thing about 'An Epic Defiance' that sends me into a metallic uphoria every time i listen to it is just the fact that, like many of the best albums, everything just seems to 'work' and fit perfectly into place. The first thing that really caught my attention was the phenomenal guitar playing. It doesn't take a savage intellect to detect many of Detonations cheif influences (especially Dark Tranquillity's 'The Minds I'), but these flying-dutchmen have taken the sounds of their idols and crafted one of their very own, which is at the same time furious and powerful but also elegent and magestic. Yup, the ol' Gothenburg elements are worn on the sleeve and there's no shame in that, but Detonation have their own take on the proceedings - they don't just beat the crap out of minor pentatonic and aoelian scales - in between the thrashing mayhem we find a lot of very spacey melodies with a big hint of prog rock. This prog factor is also refelcted in the songwriting, where lots of technical riffing and rather complex structures abound. I can also hear much classic heavy metal, the odd scent of black metal and a huge slice of technical trash (think German school) thrown into the pie. Not only that, but the playing is very inventive and dynamic, shifting through constantly changing tempos and moods, often incorporating blast beats, mid-paced grooves, clean breaks and of course some wonderful solo's, leads and harmonies. The interplay between the two guitarists is phenomenal. The variety of the album is also apparent from the first listen; Detoantion excell on fast thrashy numbers like 'The prophesy unfolds' or 'Crawling through the Vile' but also show that they can handle mid pace just as well with the title track or the pendulum groove of 'Forever buried pain'. The ace in the sleeve, though, has to be the slower but insanly intese numbers like 'Deserving Death' or my favourite 'Collision of Despair'. I jest thee not; this has to be some of the best guitar playing ever to come out of the land of clogs and weed. The drumming is also utterly spectacular and rivals that of say Absu or Divine Heresy - this guy knows his double bass pedals like the back of his hand as he's not afriad to use them (check out Voices Beyond Reason). But its not all blasting and machine gun drumming, theres as much variety to the top class drumming as there is to the guitar playing. I imagine the bass is great also, but i can barely hear it (well it is metal after all) and the vocals, while nothing special, suit the music well in a kinda Bjorn Strid fashion. And not once neo-classical keyboard run in the whole thing!

There's only one fault i could point out with this beauty and its nothing to do with the band as such; the production is sort of sub par. But fret not, those of us who have invested in quality head phones will get the maximum enjoyment possible, and at the end of the day the production isn't really bad its just kinda basic. Doesn't stop this being one of my favourite albums either!

Every once in a while, and not too often these days, a band comes along that completly and utterly blows my socks off. Detonation one are such a band and even after listening to this for more then a year 'An Epic Defiance' remains exactly that; an epic defiance of everything that went wrong with melodic death metal and an epic defiance of making anything less then unquestionalably top class music. As far as i'm concerned, this is on a par with the best of anything the giants of this genre has produced and should rightfully be acclaimed with the likes of 'The Gallery' 'Heartwork' and 'The Jester Race'. If you're a fan of melodic death, prog metal, thrash, extreme music in general i cannot recommend this highly enough.

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