Everfrost – “Winterider”

 Posted by on September 18, 2019 at 22:41  No Responses »
Sep 182019
 

Out of cold, Northern Europe comes Everfrost with their anime/manga-inspired version of symphonic power metal on their second album Winterider, a release that has an accompanying manga comic.

Everfrost from Lapland, Finland have been active as a band since 2015, releasing a full length album, Blue Eyed Emotion, an ep and a live album prior to Winterider.  Blue Eyed Emotion introduced the characters who play out the fantasy story in Winterider, so for those really interested, it may make sense to check out the first album as this one is a concept album as well.

The opening track, “Winterider”, starts out innocently enough, just like many other symphonic power metal albums from Europe, so no real surprises.  Strong keyboard presence in the beginning and an overly clean production seems to have taken a bit of the teeth out of the instruments.  Vocals a seem almost eerily perfectly smooth as are the gang chorus sections.  I can’t seem to shake the feeling that this song wasn’t really performed by a live band.  The production is so clean that the performances seem to have had all emotion removed.  Guitar solos alternate with keyboard solos amidst some great drumming  and there are a lot of sound layers going on here that end up taking away from the performance for me.

Interestingly, keyboardist Benji Connelly is credited with writing the music and lyrics, the arrangements, and the production and that may explain t Continue reading »

Majestica – “Above the Sky”

 Posted by on September 14, 2019 at 21:45  No Responses »
Sep 142019
 

Out of the ashes of ReinXeed comes Majestica to fill your ears with galloping fast drums, blazing riffs and solos and bass work that equals the complexity from the guitars.

Before joining Sabaton, guitarist/vocalist Tommy Johansson was busy with his own power metal band ReinXeed, but unfortunately as Sabaton grew, ReinXeed seemed to just fade away.  Now the band is back and known as Majestica, a nod to the 2010 ReinXeed album Majestic.

Given the tagline “Swedish symphonic power metal”, my expectations were pretty much set as to what I was going to hear when I fired this album up.  The band chose to make a video for the first track “Above the Sky” which shows the band playing the scarily fast power metal track on an airport runway.  Much along the lines of Dragonforce, the song is as much a vehicle to showcase the talents of the musicians as it is a regular song.  The very opening is even an amazing bass riff by Chris David.  As expected for the genre, vocals are clean and clear and show quite a bit of range from Tommy ReinXeed although the highest register pieces seem a bit forced and thin compared to the rest.  The song gallops along at breakneck speed with periodic perfect gang chorus sections, while all the time seeming to just set the stage for the inevitable trade-off guitar solos and drum and bass solo in this particular case. Continue reading »

My Epic – “Violence” (ep)

 Posted by on September 12, 2019 at 16:51  No Responses »
Sep 122019
 

My Epic has returned with Violence, their promised follow up to 2018’s Ultraviolet (ep) which was an introspective look at faith and questions that are “beyond what we can see and know”.  While Ultraviolet took a quieter approach, Violence shows the band taking a more abrasive tact.

North Carolina natives My Epic now call Fredericksburg, VA home and can trace their roots as a band back to 2005.  The ep This is Rescue (2006), and the first album  I Am Undone (2008) were released on Dreamt Music, an imprint of Facedown Records.   The band’s  follow up album, Yet (2010), ended up on the Heatseekers charts, as did the follow up Behold, in 2013.

As I wrote back in 2018 when reviewing Ultraviolet

As projects go, My Epic has taken on dealing with things which are beyond what we can see and know, and things that we do see but can’t fit into our paradigm.  Certainly big questions and from a larger perspective, Ultraviolet seems a perfect fit for one side of the story.  Chiming guitars, layers and layers of sound and atmosphere that seems very far from the worlds of metal or punk.  Vocals are smooth and calming and provide just the right atmosphere for the introspective, questioning  lyrics.  In many ways, this reminds me a bit of some of the ambient black metal projects I love so much, but in this case keyboards, electronic effects, and clean guitars provide the background. Continue reading »

Pyramaze – “Melancholy Beast” (re-issue)

 Posted by on September 9, 2019 at 19:48  No Responses »
Sep 092019
 

Whether fast and heavy or slow and atmospheric, this album is sure to please whether in a  depressive or manic state. Great musicianship and excellent vocals, this album is great with  a cup of joe to prepare yourself for a journey.

It doesn’t take much thinking to figure out what Pyramaze is all about in their first album, a re-issue, ‘Melancholy Beast’. They are all about the journey in this mood enhancing set of 10 songs going just about 5 minutes under an hour. This album originally came out in May of 2004, but the album seems just as relevant now as it did then. This Danish power metal band started in 2001 with Michael Kammeyer as a guitarist looking to start a band. Vision for this bands future couldn’t be clearer since introducing the story driven album to kick things off with a clear understanding of how to write a song already in place when ‘Melancholy Beast’ made its first appearance.

The Album starts off somewhat unexpected considering what the album as a whole has to offer. Just a couple of notes from the guitar for an atmospheric beginning to start with. The album is generally high energy with the exception of when the band goes to lengths to play slower and moodier. I think it balances these two concepts quite well where each song really is a journey for the ears. There is some great storytelling in the lyrics bringing up some almost forgotten folklore stories that make the album somewhat familiar to listen to while also adding a fresh look and new sound to what parents might tell their children at night before bed. Continue reading »

Sep 072019
 

Neal Morse is a storied musician, having started his career as a member of Spock’s Beard in the nineties. He became a born-again Christian in 2002 and his religious convictions steered him on a path to start producing music infused with his faith. Neal has a prolific discography, and 2019 sees the release of his progressive rock musical, Jesus Christ the Exorcist. This double album has been 10 years in the making.

At first I thought Jesus Christ the Exorcist, what a curious title! When I listened to “The Woman of Seven Devils” and “The Madman of the Gadarenes” I understood that it’s about how His compassion for the sinner sets the sinner free. By rebuking their devils He helped both that man and woman become whole again.

The music of Jesus Christ the Exorcist sounds like it’s meant for stage, not only in terms of the number of musicians on the roster but also because the songs gel together in a compelling story, much like Jim Steinman and Meatloaf’s “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”. The Introduction places the listener at Jesus’ crucifixion before returning us to John announcing the coming of the Christ in the desert. Continue reading »