John Jackson

Jan 142021
 

Millenial Reign are back with an ep to introduce yet another significant change to the band’s overall sound due to personnel changes. Interestingly, the band is introducing their new and female vocalist through this ep of songs from their Carry the Fire album.

Well, this is a first for me and presents an unusual challenge. I originally reviewed Carry the Fire back in 2015 and commented how it was an impressive album from a sonic standpoint and especially considering this is essentially the first album for a band that underwent a nearly complete lineup change. Little did I know that something like this would happen and end up so complicated. I also reviewed the band’s last release in 2018, The Great Divide, noting at that point, the band was essentially a completely new band (again). Now for the Carry the Fire Again ep, the band has gone back to remix/remaster four songs off Carry the Fire (2015) and insert new vocalist Tiffany Galchutt’s vocals. So, yet another major lineup change, but the introductory ep has an old band lineup for the music but the new vocalist. Confused yet? For those keeping track the band is working on new material for 2021 and has the same lineup with the exception of vocals, which is a good thing as the musicians Dave Harvey assembles are more than capable to deliver some great power metal.

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Iron Savior – “Skycrest”

 Posted by on December 15, 2020 at 21:18  No Responses »
Dec 152020
 

As if to convince us that 2020 was not all bad, Iron Savior have released their latest album, Skycrest, which shows the band in the same peak form that we’ve all come to expect…. Power metal filled with blazing guitars, epic vocals and great hooks.

Now on their 14 th album, the band formed in 1996 by Piet Sielck and other ex-Helloween members, Iron Savior has rightfully been placed among the legends of metal. While the lineup around Piet has changed over the years, the quality of the musicianship has not wavered and the band’s sound which to my ears combines the NWOBHM with other metal greats remains a constant. Once again, for Skycrest, the overall sound was polished to a metal perfection by Piet at his Powerhouse Studios. I do feel I have to note that this review is happening after the release of the album and more than a week ago, there were over 500,000 streams of it already on Spotify, demonstrating both the dedication of Iron Savior fans as well as being a testament to the quality of the album. This time around, the band does stray a bit from the science fiction themes that dominate some of their other releases, as the challenges around the pandemic including bassist Jan being very ill, made this more of a personal album. That being said, the band made an album filled with positive energy, serving as an antidote to the overall darkness of the year.

“The Guardian” opens up Skycrest with the Rush-sounding keyboards (think Subdivisions) and then some harmonized guitar parts come in for the rest of the short instrumental, which in some ways serves as a prelude to what can be found later in the album.

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Nov 242020
 

Adorned Graves is back with Being Towards a River, which sees the band continuing in their journey started with Out From the Depth of the Grave where they expertly crafted songs with elements of thrash, doom, and goth.

Adorned Graves first caught my attention in 2015 with the release of their ep The Hand of Death, and the title track that expertly blended elements of thrash and doom, sounding like a mix of Slayer and Black Sabbath.  In 2017 the band released their first full length, Out From the Depth of the Grave, which instantly surprised me as the band crafted songs far more complex than on the debut ep, which leaned heavily toward the thrash end of things.  The Kaiserslautern, Germany based band advertise their sound as one of Old School Thrash with a touch of Doom Metal  and that would be a fair description.  Similar to their last album which took on the story of Jonah, this one has a deeper overall concept to it as well.  In this case the band had planned an outright speed and thrash ep, but during the writing process, things took a different turn and the band looked toward the river as a symbol of life and time with the idea of taking the listener on a journey from a river’s beginnings to its end in a allegory of life’s journey.

Perhaps taking some cues from Metallica who I hear in many of their songs, “Swallet Hole” opens with clean guitar reminiscent of that in the opening of “One”.  Keyboards add atmosphere to this solemn track with spoken lyrics.  Later in the track layered guitar solos elevate the track and set up the listener for the storm that is about to begin.  Similar to their previous albums, production is clean and has a bit of an organic feel to it where all the instruments and vocals are clear and contribute to the overall sound and feel  of the tracks.

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Pyramaze – “Epitaph”

 Posted by on November 7, 2020 at 20:16  No Responses »
Nov 072020
 

Danish-American band Pyramaze is back with their 6th album, Epitaph, an album filled with the driving rhythms, blazing guitars, and epic vocals of progressive, power, and symphonic metal. 

Michael Kammeyer formed Pyramaze in 2002 andthey  released their debut album Melancholy Beast in 2004 followed by Legend of the Bone Carver in 2006. Not long after the band underwent some changes as original vocalist Lance King was replaced by Matt Barlow (Iced Earth, Ashes to Ares) for their 2008 album Immortal.  After Immortal, Matt returned to Iced Earth, Kammeyer retired, and bassist Niels Kvist also departed, leaving Jonah, Toke, and Morten who convinced longtime producer Jacob Hansen (Volbeat, Amaranthe) to join on guitars.  Singer Terje Harøy joined in 2013 and the band released Disciples of the Sun in 2015 to critical acclaim and then began work on the concept album Contingent which was released in April 2017.  Since then, the band played several large festivals and for this, their 6th album, Epitaph, the band also brought in some special guests including Brittney Slayes (Unleash the Archers) as well as former singers Matt Barlow and Lance King. 

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Oct 272020
 

Southern Indiana seems a long ways away from Europe, but Symphony of Heaven bring the death metal on The Ascension of Extinction (ep) that would fit right in with the likes of Antestor, Slechtvalk, and Behemoth.

From the opening fast riffs and driving rhythm of “You Shall Be As Gods”, the song literally grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me awake.  I was instantly reminded of the last Slechtvalk album I reviewed Where Wandering Shadows and Mists Collide back in 2016.  The main verses have that dark, heavy element that drives the song along with the deep shouted vocals keeping pace and the rhythm section adding an almost groove feel.  I like how the song has a bit of a more peaceful interlude before picking back up and shifting to a double bass driven pummeling to the end.  Production for the genre is great, guitars and drums easily distinguishable and the vocals clear…at least for the genre.

The title track, “The Ascension of Extinction”, is a bit more straightforward death metal at least in the beginning with the fast guitar riff and drums but then slows a bit with some female spoken words and some black metal sounding near shriek-like vocals breaking up the song and providing a nice contrast to the shouted, deeper death metal growls that fill the rest of the song.  Throughout, the guitars are heavy and the drums nicely punctuate the overall sound.

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