John Jackson

Draconicon – “The Dark Side of Magic”

 Posted by on October 22, 2021 at 19:42  No Responses »
Oct 222021

Draconicon use power metal to tell the story of the awakening of an ancient evil in their debut album Dark Side of Magic.

Draconicon is pure European power metal from Italy, influence by the sounds of bands like Kamelot, Saboton, Gloryhammer and others. The story behind the debut album is about a Dark Force awakening to rule the world. A hunger for power led mortals to summon the dark Order Draconis. The dragon pictured on the cover art is a metaphorical representation of the power and evil that has taken control over everything. The album was mixed and mastered by Marco Mastrobuono who has done a great job ensuring all instruments and vocals are clear in the mix. For the album are, the band chose a veteran of the genre, bringing in Dan Godsworthy (Alestorm, Gloryhammer).

After a short intro in “Principium Tenebris”, the band launches straight into “Fiery Rage” leading off with some great guitar leads before settling into a fast galloping rhythm led by the drums of Manuel D. Asendent. Arkanfel’s vocals are a perfect match for the genre, smooth and powerful without sounding strained throughout his impressive range. In some sense, the song reminds me a bit of Dragon Force except the song is not just a vehicle for guitar solos.

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Osukaru – “Starbound”

 Posted by on October 22, 2021 at 17:32  No Responses »
Oct 222021

Swedish glam metal band Osukaru bring their blend of classic hard rock and metal to their 6th album Starbound.

For those who have never heard of Osukaru, like myself, it is pretty amazing to see that the band has been around 11 years and released 6 albums. Guitarist Oz Hawke Petersson began the band and in 2012 the band released their first album Salvation. Three years later and after addition of a few band members, Transition was released (2015) and the band now known as Osukaru really took shape. For Starbound, the album was produced by Oz and Fredrik Werner with Svein Jensen (Sister Sin) handling mixing and Christoffer Borg (Art Nation, Six Foot Six) taking mastering responsibilities.

There is something about Osukaru on Starbound that instantly transports you back to the mid-late 80s sounds of popular metal…you know, the kind that actually got airplay and was generally considered “safe”. Think epic choruses, super-clean vocals, keyboards playing a supporting role and the type of sounds that filled stadiums and other large venues. Instantly on the opening track “Starbound” I hear what I can only imagine a Europe B-side might have sounded like. What can’t go unnoticed though is the care that has gone into the songwriting and arrangements. Even if the production quality is too polished and smooth, this is expertly executed.

“Rise of the Underdog” hits all the good and bad from that late 80’s era where often great riffs were paired with somewhat cheesy lyrics and group vocals and had sections with overally cheery keyboards. Luckily, the song does have some good guitar solos to somewhat save it. By this point, a good bit of nostalgia is kicking in and I’m transported back to my middle school and early high school years.

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Oct 042021

Timo Tolkki’s Avalon project returns with another symphonic power metal rock opera project featuring an all-star cast of guest vocalists who shine in this collection of songs.

For those who don’t know, Avalon is a metal opera project of guitarist Timo Tolkki (ex-Stratovarius), and the project has released four full length albums, The Land of New Hope (2013), Angels of the Apocalypse (2014), Return to Eden (2019), and now The Enigma Birth (2021). As these are projects, they have had a variety of guest musicians from the likes of Stratovarious, Sonata Arctica, Dream Theater, but more importantly, the guest vocalists that read like an all-star cast in metal and include, Rob Rock (Impelllitteri), Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica), Sharon del Adel (Within Temptation), Elize Ryd (Amaranthe), Floor Jansen (Nightwish),and Simone Simons (Epica). For The Enigma Birth, Tolkki brought in , PelleK, Raphael Mendes (Icon of Sin), Brittney Hayes (Unleash the Archers), Marina La Torraca (Phantom Elite), Jake E (ex-Amaranthe), James LaBrie (Dream Theater), Caternia Nix (Chaos Magic), and Fabio Lione (Rhapsody of Fire).

The Enigma Birth wastes no time jumping right into the epic symphonic power metal Avalon is known for. “Enigma Birth” hits the ground at a breakneck pace with Pellek’s vocals also showing great range in the just the first few moments of the song. Immediately, one can’t help but hear the quality and care put into the production and mixing with vocals, keyboards, drums and bass all coming through clearly. Guitars are a bit too quiet in the mix for my taste which is a bit surprising given Timo Tolkki is a guitarist of renown, but this is a personal taste gripe on my part. As one might imagine, there are solos in the song but not just guitar but some guitar-keyboard trade off and all fitting will within the context of the song.

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InnerSiege – “Fury of Ages”

 Posted by on October 2, 2021 at 03:44  No Responses »
Oct 022021

Back in 2012 Inner Siege released their debut album Kingdom of Shadows with authority and now nine years later the power metal band has released the follow up Fury of Ages, picking up where they left off and giving us an album filled with everything you’d expect from power metal – blazing solos, a pounding rhythm section and strong vocals with a few twists thrown in for good measure.

Since I live somewhat near, I can confidently say that being a power metal band in Peoria, Illinois must be a bit of a daunting task as that is a long way from Europe where power metal has a much stronger foothold in the music scene. I said that in 2012, and it still holds true. The band itself was formed in 2008, with each member having a love for European power metal. As you might imagine, the band names influences like Within Temptation, Symphony X, Dream Theater, Fates Warning, Rob Rock, Iron Maiden, Queensryche, and surprisingly Motorhead and Metallica.

The album starts out very much in the power metal realm in terms of sound with a driving riff and drum staccato bit to start before heading off into a galloping pace. Production quality is excellent and a perfect fit for the genre. All the instruments are clear in the mix as well as the vocals and there is a welcome low end that is seems more present than often heard in power metal releases. Wade Helm on drums and Ravn Furfjord on bass make for a great team in driving the song forward. The song does feature a couple surprise elements in some near black metal spoken vocals and a very impressive acoustic guitar solo. The fast pace of the song immediately conjures up images of helicopters on stage for those with the hair to pull it off.

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Sep 052021

Nate Rising (PFC PIerce, formerly of FBS) has released a compilation of photos from his 10 years on the road touring clubs across the US. Uniquely, Nate has chosen his ever popular Toilets of Tour collection documenting some of the most unique rooms in the venues and giving the reader a firsthand account of what one can experience in the sometimes seedy underworld of punk rock. Quantities are limited and going fast… Check it here.

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