A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Grade Scale adopted at MetalKings.com (starting from the lowest)

1 - Shite
2 - Could be worse
3 - Could be better
4 - Damn good
5 - Killer

4+/5
XIV DARK CENTURIES
...den Ahnen zum Grusse
2003 / 2004
CCP Records / CD-Maximum
Viking Metal
And onto a mighty fjord there came a great army, and gave birth to a great battle music - a small CD. And the music was good. Back in the olden times people troubadoured to assist themselves in the arts of war and plugging: ye git tired, you walk off, play some music and git back to work. But I kind of doubt that these slick thick-maned lads draped in ram-skins who hath gathered with such an obvious zest atop the fissure of a snow-covered hill, would leave the sound-recording studios, photo-sessions, and festivals for any substantial periods of time. The herding epoch is long gone, and these lads do not really look like they would condescend to such an unworthy of any respectful Valhalla entrant business as work. So let us raise the wine goblets above our heads, bite the haunch of a roasted pork and pay due to the great poets: their creation did not beshame the traditions of Viking metal absorbing all its best features and stood in one row with the works of such celestials as Thyrfing, Einherjer and Mythotin. Dense, energetic, sophisticated where and when necessary, with the sufficient amount of both rhythm and melodies (that's what one needs keyboards for). All in all if Ragnar the Hairy Pants decided to go on yet another quest he would have had something to boil his blood with. That's what Fenrir stands upon! (St.Ded)

4/5
ADAGIO
Underworld
2003 / 2004
NTS / CD-Maximum
progressive metal
Three years passed since the release of the band's debut album. At first Adagio seemed to be one more French-German-Dutch project but the second album got a release date so Adagio can be considered a band. Guitarist and main songwriter Stefan Forte stays true to himself - classical melodies ideally fit into current progressive power metal standards. Eight tracks is not a big problem is each of them runs at an average of eight minutes. At the same time the album doesn't sound boring and attracts the listener by its piano and choir interludes as well as dramatic tempo changes and professional work of members of Pink Cream 69 and Elegy. Generally speaking the album is great but not easy to understand. An absolute must for Symphony X fans. (Dead Ripper)

5/5
AINA
Days Of Rising Doom (The Metal Opera)
2003
Transmission
rock opera

Intro note: The reviewed version is the limited edition with 2CD and DVD. Originally hailed as the brainchild of legendary German producer and ex-guitar player of Heavens Gate Sascha Paeth the album only has productive relations with him. See for yourself - all the music was written by ex-Heavens Gate bassist Robert Hunecke-Rizzo, all lyrics by blond American singer Amanda Somerville. The result is the outstanding rock opera in the style of Arjen Lucassen, in particular, his critically acclaimed Ayreon project. There are lots of guests on the album. Among them are Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween), Thomas Rettke (ex-Heavens Gate), Andre Matos (Shaman, ex-Angra), Glenn Hughes, Tobias Sammet (Edguy), Candice Night (Blackmore's Night) and lots of other famous musicians. The album was totally worth doing, the absolute masterpiece! Of course, the album has concept; a story similar to Tolkien "Lord Of The Rings" written by Amanda (she even invented the special language of Aina country - another nod to Mr. Tolkien!). Don't expect power metal all the way - that's the Rock Opera with capital R and O. By the way, those who don't want to read the album story in the exceptionally perfect-made booklet - listen to it on the CD that also includes demos and alternate versions of some tracks. The DVD features a video clip, filming of the album production, lots of photos, etc. It is absolutely worth the money - such albums get released once a decade!!! (Dead Ripper)

1/5
ARACHNES
Primary Fear
2003
Scarlet / CD-Maximum
shame power
Do you know what they did to swindlers and counterfeiters three or four hundred years ago? Yes, exactly they didn't really like those guys. Why am I asking? Because some of the modern-days musical charlatans are in no way better than these guys. And if pouring molted lead down their throats might seem a bit excessive, then depriving them of their musical instruments and banning from approaching ones ever after seems quite appropriate. At least this way they won't be able to use their muzak to injure the yet weak souls of rookie-music-lovers and the sophisticated taste of experienced melomaniacs. Shamelessly impersonating the new heirs of Helloween, Accept, Gamma Ray and their ilk, these impostors not only discredit the young Italian metal brush (with the only thing they have in common with this lot being the geographical location, but the whole melodic metal in general, since there is no more melody in their sorry jobbing than there is one in the honk of a locomotive. And it does not even matter what sort of genre we are talking about - lames are not wanted anywhere, even in a pigsty. (Fireball)

4+/5
ARDA
Of Roaming Eternal And Of The Earth
2004
CD-Maximum
melodic metal
This debut record of the Moscow-based Arda did cause me to shrug somewhat suspiciously, for it is not a rare case around here that a colorful and bright wrapping would conceal an entirely plain and hollow content. The CD is released in a neat digi-pack format with stylish artwork and cool professional photos. And that was what alerted me most. I mean what could the CD contain when they spend so much time on the artwork? Surprisingly enough the material did not disappoint: melodic metal of very high quality with a classy somewhat popish touch in the mix. The lyrics are not that genius, but cause no disgust either. Pavel Okunev - the lead singer and frontman - has grown into a much better vocalist than he used to be in the early record of Epidemia. The English-language bonus of "Fly Away" sounds quite in-place with the rest of the Russian-language songs. Potential hits - imo - are "For the Stars," "No One There," and the title track "Of Roaming Eternal". Undoubtedly, this is one of the strongest releases of 2004 in Russia. (Debbie Boink)

3/5
AXE
The Crown
2000 / 2003
MTM Music / CD-Maximum
melodic hard rock
A brand new album of the reunited classic American hard rock band, Axe. There used to be a time when Axe was the founder and ruler of the melodic hard rock genre but nowadays the situation is totally different. Melodic hard rock becomes a cliche like power metal. That's why melodic hard rock musicians try to add some elements from other styles into their music. Axe did the same and failed all the way. In general, what you hear is just a melodious hard rock album. But take into account the fact that four tracks were written in cooperation with German singer Michael Bormann of the Jaded Heart fame; that's when the real thing comes along. The rest of 10 tracks are quite average, nothing special at all. (Dead Ripper)

4/5
AXEL RUDI PELL
Kings And Queens
2004
Steamhammer / Soyuz
melodic hard rock
Two years gone after the release of the album "Shadow Zone" that disappointed many fans with a relatively huge number of ballads and mid-tempo tracks. Seems like Axel got it right and decided to return to the style of his first post-Soto period album "Oceans Of Time". Generally speaking, if you expect something brand new from Axel Rudi Pell you surely took the wrong direction. Well, not really. Lyrics faced some changes - there are songs about drug problems, rude and cruel women but the majority of the album is about evil forces, knights, castles, and so on. It's highly recommended to listen to the ballad "Forever Angel" - Gioelli might have never sung this way on any album ever. Still apart from the up-tempoed "Flyin' High" the album consists of classic Axel mid-tempo tracks. If considering the album to be a compensation for "Shadow Zone" then it's an ultimate success. But nowhere close to the blockbuster called "Magic" (1997). (Dead Ripper)

5/5
AXXIS
Time Machine
2004
AFM / CD-Maximum
melodic heavy metal
It seems like with this album Axxis finally reached the compromise between their early works and somehow mysterious-to-understand "Eyes Of Darkness". Band members came to right conclusions, experimented with their music a bit and created a new masterpiece. Do not understand the work "experiment" as it is; everything of that comes down to mystic and untraditional intros as well as some changes in choir vocals. But in general that's as Axxis as ever. The album has whatever you want including up-tempo tracks, powerful slow songs, and surely touchy ballads. Lyrics explore some mystified and dark areas of the soul. Nothing but the classic Axxis production. The only sad thing is the drummer lost in the ozone but Kosta Zafiriou from Pink Cream 69 is the great replacement. (Dead Ripper)

3-/5
BLINDED COLONY
Divine
2003 / 2004
SCARLET Records / CD-Maximum
Crooked mirror of In Flames
Normal material, normal playing, normal recording. In exact accordance with all the subtleties of the teaching of reverend Lindgren and Karlsson, these valiant drones of In Flames, have decided to acquire some muffins from where they were not supposed to. A trifle of imagination, a spoonful of talentlessness - and voila - the machine has taken a new and unfamiliar form: shabby, shambling, in other words - as good as new. Here in Russia they really enjoy making those Mettalica- and Cradle-of-Filth-cover parties, where the young and ardent hearts would recite their poetry to the sound of the shaman drums, something like "Life it seems will fade awaaay". Well, I think that it is high time that the founding fathers of melodic death metal be blessed with such an eve. Hails to the Blinded Colonists, hails to Scarlet Records! (St.Ded)

4+/5
CADAVERIA
Far Away from Conformity
2003
Scarlet Records / CD-Maximum
Thrash?
Right, that's one tough disk, one real tough one. I mean, with an entirely boring opener like the one they got here, I usually do not expect the second track to be so complex and mind-dabbling. But here here we got a mixture of elements of (take a deep breath): nu-metal, death, and gutter rock! To my great joy the disk continued to spin in the style-gumbo, jumping from one genre into another, and combining things that are virtually incompatible. All in all I'd say the title of the CD reflects its contents best - no conformism here at all. The best thing about it however is that, unlike many other records that are based on the principle of "Thou shalt do what thou will", the new word of ex-Opera IX songstress does not sound or look like your crazy quilt sewn by a person who is literally clueless about such a thing as color-compatibility, but - quite on the contrary - appears to be very logical and consistent. As an add-bonus, on this one we can for the first time here the charming lady sing - and boy does she sing good. (Troll)

4/5
CITADEL
Transition
2004
Low Frequency / CD-Maximum
power metal
Finnish guys are crazy with power metal, that's for sure! After Stratovarius popularized the scene its clones started emerging almost every day. Citadel is one of those clones. The biggest problem of the band is the singer. Pay close attention to his pronunciation since it's not singing at all. Speaking of other musicians, they are novices but excellent players, their performance touches your soul especially during instrumental passages. Most of the tracks are up-tempo and there are almost no popular progressive elements; total devotion to the power metal style. If not for a voiceless singer the total lack of originality could be easily ignored. But so far the final sentence is third league of power metal forever. (Dead Ripper)

4/5
DEATHBOUND
To Cure the Sane with Insanity
2003
Woodcut Records
Deatharsh
'Ave you ever been to the Soviet Army Museum? Or any military museum for that matter? Seen the armored train? Cool, eh? Well, now imagine this X-tons of steel run at 666mph right across your eardrums. Scared? Well you should be anyways. Speaking seriously though, withstanding some 40+ minutes of unending blast-beats is no easy matter. At times one would get an impression that these guys just do not know how to play slow or take it easy, since even the fourth song ironically titled "As Reluctance Grows" that starts in a somewhat easy manner already 15-seconds into the track would break out in a grinding frenzy whose firing rate would easily put Kalashnikov to shame. However, if your mouth starts watering at the sound of such words as the Haunted or Dismember, then Deathbound is just what you need. Impressive (Troll)

5/5
DOC HOLLIDAY
Good Time Music
2003
MTM Music / CD-Maximum
southern rock

The setting sun paints the canyon landscape into bright orange colors, the wind brings the familiar aromas from the pigsty, another day of labor is over: and now its time to kick back, pop-open a bottle of Jack, and ring your guitar about the hard, but oh so sweet life of an American cowboy. To play the genuine southern rock one not only needs to knowingly combine the lightheartedness of country, the ever-drunken blues sadness, and the ardency of rock-n-roll, one has to be born and live here in the Great and Free South, one must breathe this air and drink this whiskey day in and day out. Only in this case will you be able to play these three chords so sincerely that one would get goose-bumps running down their spines and take their well-deserved place under the burning sun alongside the befamed likes of Creedence, ZZ Top, Lynard Skynard and - Doc Holliday. (Fireball)

4/5
DOGFACE
Unleashed
2000 / 2003
MTM Music / CD-Maximum
hard rock
One of numerous projects of legendary Swedish singer Mats Leven. Those who heard him in Yngwie Malmsteen and other bands can already imagine what the music is all about. Die-hard fans of Mats and Swedish scene in general better recall the extremely rare album of the band Treat of 1992 - that's how the Dogface album sounds like, extremely powerful and hard. Though the band has a keyboard player the main tools are guitar and vocals. Overall, the album is different; there are both up- and mid-tempo tracks on it. Still no ballads can be found, which gives the album a specific taste. Well, just try to name any current hard rock band that has no ballads on its albums. If you wish to listen to the pure uncompromising hard rock the album is number one in the way. (Dead Ripper)

4/5
GREEN CARNATION
Journey To the End Of the Night
2000 / 2003
Prophecy / CD-Maximum
doom / progressive
Having worked for some 10 years in the most extreme shop of Norwegian metal (Carpathian Forest, Emeperor, and Satyricon) Mr. Tchort has finally screwed up his courage for a bold and ambitious step, that is introducing the world to the darkness that dwells in his mind and showing them the way through the gloom to the truth and beauty. His debut work - bold and successful. What's best, you really cannot compare this record to anything else - nobody has ever wrote anything like that before or after Tchort: it is original, complex and at the same time devilishly well-designed, having been obviously composed by a smart head rather than a burning heart. Monumental material on the crossroads between doom, progressive, and dark metal that is neatly decorated but overloaded with melodic, instrumental and simply sonic innovations and effects, that build up a clear picture of eternal darkness and search. This one is for thinkers that is not for everyone. (Fireball)

5+/5
GREEN CARNATION
Journey To The End Of The Night
2000 / 2003
Prophecy / CD-Maximum
Art Rock, Dark/Opera Metal
Magnificent! Art with a capital A! I can't even begin to tell you how much pleasure it is to listen to the music, which is not polluted with the "background knowledge" of In Flames, Cradle of Filth, or Children of Bodom (an unfortunately frequent case these days), winds of fashion or any other junk. Giving a comprehensive description of this is pretty hard: ringing female vocals, clean and loud male voice, various choir and declamation combinations, the drumwork is mostly in the vein of dark metal, with occasional drops, where it would be replaced with acoustic guitar passages and keyboard parts. The material itself is mostly slow-tempo with ever-flexible rhythms that would give it a new out-of-this-world shapes. (St.Ded)

4/5
HARLAN CAGE
Forbidden Colors
1999 / 2003
MTM Music / CD-Maximum
melodic hard rock
Yet another album of this American hard rock band. And this time much better than its predecessors. Of course, hints of Giuffria and Journey can still be heard but there is lots of evidence that band members gained some serious experience in terms of recording and playing. Another interesting thing is that song titles perfectly reflect the style of music. For instance, "Can't Tame The Raven" is the half-ballad track while "Feel The Wheel" is the speedy number. Among other diamonds are "Late Night Escapades", "Before The Night Is Gone" and "Last Plane Out". Fans of melodic hard rock won't be disappointed while fans of the band will love the disc.(Dead Ripper)

3/5
HEAVENLY
Dust To Dust
2004
Sanctuary
power

This is already the third CD by this French combo lead by a guy with a not-so-French name of Ben Sotto and inspired by the completely un-French but rather Teutonic metal in the vein of Helloween. Normally those bands that choose their route in this fairway are very reluctant to make any detours and prefer loyalty to the heroes of their childhood over all other virtues. Well, I do understand that 70-something minutes of splendorous blade swinging in the name of positive metal glory is simply the result of their industriousness and wish to conform with the laws of the genre, but with such a poor melodic content like this one, it is highly unlikely that the boys will ever make it to the top of the musical Olympus. Possible solution: be more critical when selecting the songs for the album and follow the wonderful principle of Marxism-Leninism: "Better Less But Better." If that be the case the participation of maestros Ferdy Doernberg and Sascha Paeth will not be the only salespoint for your band. You did that earlier on, did you not? (Fireball)

3/5
KINGCROW
Insider
2003
Consytech
progressive rock
A newcomer from Italy, the debut album. Fans of Rhapsody and others - stop reading, it's not for you at all. Nothing close to power metal! The music is rough hard rock. Main problems are, first, the recording quality is extremely average and the whole album sound like a demo tape and second, no definite style. In general, the band can be considered to be hard rock-styled but every once in a while musicians start raising the tempo to the limit and sometimes fall into the progressive metal field. The singer is hard to be heard; his voice is totally lost in the mix of bass and drums. Due to such rapid tempo changes the main line of the album becomes unclear and in the end you can recall just one riff or one guitar passage. It is a nice experimental album but a total failure as a debut. (Dead Ripper)

5/5
KROKUS
Fire And Gasoline: Live!
2004
Warner Music Switzerland
hard rock
WOW! Do you wanna know how a live album should be recorded and published? Look at Krokus! While all the European bands publish live albums like crazy Swiss band Krokus decided to follow the trend and release a double live album. Each and every song is a masterpiece on its own. New tracks from the last year "Rock The Block" ideally fit into bombastic classics of the reunited band. Forget about AC/DC - the Australians are over forever! Most of the album was recorded at the annual Sweden Rock Festival while the rest were done in homeland Switzerland. Musicians play their best and singer Marc Storace is simply brilliant. Still the album is not really a double one; there is also a bonus DVD recorded at the Montreaux Jazz Festival. And that's when you can understand that for many years of ups and downs Krokus lost nothing of its professional, human and show skills. And the DVD itself has a small bonus in the form of some tracks recorded live in Wohlen, Switzerland. Of course, the latter is for die-hard fans but the recording quality is still awesome. If you are sick and tired of all those average live albums - get this one, it's totally worth the money! Unforgettable! (Dead Ripper)

5/5
LAST AUTUMN'S DREAM
Last Autumn's Dream
2004
Frontiers Records / CD-Maximum
hard rock
In principle the entire review of this album could be consisting of the line-up presentation: Ian Haugland, Mic Michaeli, John Leven - yes, right, exactly those "Europeans" - plus the sweet-voiced Mikael Erlandsson and Andy Malecek on the guitars. This is truly a Swedish dream-team, but alas, taking into account the Europe reunion, only of the second league - those guys are beyond L.A.D.'s competition level. The band's debut appears quite impressive for a debut, but then again I'd doubt that Erlandsson would have allowed his own child to be something other than that. The CD spins off with "Again and Again" - the strongest track on the album, in my own opinion. The sad "Talk to Me" or the driven "Blink of the Eye" are also unlikely to leave your heart unmoved. All of this sincerity and liveliness comes naturally largely thanks to the beautiful voice of Mikael Erlandsson and the wonderful guitar solos. A must for all Europe fans. ( )

4/5
MANDRAKE
Calm The Seas
2003
PROPHECY Productions / CD-Maximum
Gothic/Dark Metal
This one is quite illustrative of the inclinations and manners characteristic of many a German musician. Not being too complex compositionally, this one is spectacularly well-thought, 100%-smashing, and features an unusual capability of speculating on the romanticism and pathos of the listeners' souls. I mean take Rammstein, Modern Talking, Rage, or Crematory - to name a few. It is the last band in the list that Mandrake have obviously taken after. Having nothing novel whatsoever to offer the record still will become a surprisingly pleasing find for those who are tired of enjoying "Fly" and "Tears of Time". The drive of the powerful yet calm metal sound hits the locomotor, the tender and laconic melodies fill the heart with sad anticipation, and the tactfully exchanging male and female vocals shape the record into something completely impressionistic and charming. Four fists to this one.
(St.Ded)

5-/5
MY SHAMEFUL
Of All The Wrong Things
2003
FIREBOX RECORDS / CD-Maximum
Death Doom
Excellent coffin music this one, structurally somewhat in the vein of early Anathema postulates. I don't remember already who exactly has been scoffing off those Latin pasquinades - but one of them Memento Mori is implemented in an utterly astonishing way. A mammoth of slow rhythm, the chill of rare guitar licks, and the doom of the growling vocals are summoning thoughts of entirely cheerful fashion: on frailty, on vanity, and dead-lockness of all.. Recommended for those philosopher and obscurant types out there, other will either fall asleep, or sink into depression, or else remain in sacred ignorance of "how can one possibly listen to anything like that???" (St.Ded)

5/5
PANTHEIST
O Solitude
2003
FIREBOX RECORDS / CD-Maximum
Death Doom
The yashmak veil hid the crooked face Breasts are flat life is sad You are not my wife by the wrath of god I shall grind my knife cut you like a whore!!! Desperation, torment, grim and anger deep giganticThe slow and inevitable instrumental thunder, muffled growls, with pompous pauses and dim keyboard light: Othello delivers the sentence. He is no hurry, as the horror of punishment fills the hall. Death flung the doors open and steadily walks to the bed. Death produces a grinding stone and sparks pale and hollow flew down to the floor. Well in fact the lyrics on this one are much less philosophical: love, personality, being but good enough anyway. Astonishingly original and interesting record: all the 57 minutes of it leave no room for doubt in the bands magnificence and splendor - I mean this one would probably even beat My Dying Bride.
(St.Ded)

5/5
PERFECT WORLD
Perfect World
2003 / 2004
Frontiers / CD-Maximum
melodic hard rock
Another brand new project of restless Kelly Hansen, who once used to be the singer of Hurricane and Unruly Child. This time Kelly decided to break a new ground. The whole album consists of oldie cover-versions of various pop artists including Jennifer Paige, Amanda Marshall, Pink, Lynn Rimes, and others. And even if you never listened to pop music at all the track "Just Like A Pill" should ring a bell anyway. It worth mentioning that Kelly and his friends featuring famous Italian guitar player Alex de Rosso worked hard on the release. The result is the classic hard rock album with outstanding melodies and arrangements. Another proof to the fact that even an average pop track can be easily transformed into the hard rock genre by professional musicians.
(Dead Ripper)

5/5
PUSHKING
Darling
2004
"Zvuk"
AOR/hard rock
And finally the new album by this brilliant St. Pete combo. Pushking is rock music at its best, classiest, and highest. This is a band that one falls in love with once and for al. whatever Koha and friends do - be it Russian or English material - one may be certain of one thing - they aren't going to disappoint. Koha, the leader of the pack, is not only a fantastically talented individual, but he is also extremely charismatic. This voice you will recognize out of a thousand. The lyrics are another strong side of this act - they are courteous and somewhat mannered, but good-humored and a little mocking, but never banal. Songs like "Generation LSD", "The Circusman", "The Romantic", and "Phantom" are just absolute killers. A real treat for the older fans of the band is the Russified version of the classic "Cucaracha" and a shredding drum-solo therein. (Rag Doll)

2+/5
SACROSANCTUM
Fragments
2003
METAL AGE Productions / CD-Maximum
Das psychometalpoprehearsal
Remember the Norman crisis epoch? When everybody cited his revelation spoken off the roof of the Tower while being completely stoned What can I do?. Well, not being much into this competitor of good ole tobacco I still ponder the same question. How can one rate a piece of music which he cannot determine as sad or cheering, tragic or mocking, is the lyrics thoughtful or just off-the-wall? I mean this really something new or? Well, Id say that their lopsided English and periodical musical inurbanity makes it the latter. Then again if you view this as a collection of hot genetic experiments it may sound quite interesting (thats where theyve got the extra 1.5 points) .I mean I dont have a clue as to how you are going to link Therion, Coroner and Tic Tac Toe together inside your head, but I did just listen to it. (St.Ded)

5/5
SAYIT
Louder
2003 / 2004
MTM Music / CD-Maximum
melodic hard rock
I wonder is that really the Swedish name, Sayit. Sounds more like a pseudonym OK, this strange name is given to a guitar player of very nice music. In accordance with various biographies that's his third album. And what an album! The album title perfectly resembles its contents. Somehow it might compared with Sayit's co-label fellow Joe Lynn Turner in terms of both vocals and music. The whole sound is very powerful and the recording quality is just awesome. It's even quizzical how could a Swedish guitarist produce such catchy melodies - that's traditionally the weakest point of all musicians from Sweden. The best tracks on the release are "The Queen", "Longing For Someone To Hold", "My Lonely Heart" and "Waiting For My Love". Oh, and what do you think of the following line from the song "Come Please Me, Completely": "You're rocking more than AC/DC baby"? Highly recommended. (Dead Ripper)

4/5
SERENADES
The Age Of Purity
1997
ELEGY Music / CD-Maximum
Doom-Gothic
Majestic sadness filled my heart as midnight struck the clock - And bowing down my weary head into the Nile I fall :) Hee-hee! This CD brings us the aesthetics of a tired soul. Fatalism and submission, the tragedy of a broken flight, the substratum, that raised MY unbelievable DYING BRIDE, gave birth to yet another, no less optimistic, band: Serenades. Whatever they might say, but I am of the strong opinion that having a good blue, is equally nice as having a hell of a laugh. Slow and viscous melodies, withering voice, resounding and accurate beats: when you gotta go, you gotta go. To continue the comparison with the Brits, I would also like to point out the gothic inclination on "The Age of Purity" that is expressed with certain synthesizer passages and - let's face it - the Bride is heavier somewhat. The final of this dying goose is exactly what it should be - a swansong. :) (St.Ded)

4/5
SILENT EDGE
The Eyes of the Shadow
2003 / 2004
DVS Records / CD-Maximum
Power Metal

Yes indeed this metal is powerful but mostly stylistically. I may be that I just don't get a hard-on from this type of metal but this album is not what you call exactly inspiring. Then again, I can't say anything bad about it either. Good quality, good musicianship. Apparently there is a certain strive (occasionally a successful one) to diversity and innovation. A container of somewhat goody melodies. Lots of lyrics. The only thing I remember however is some acoustic guitar nonsense and a boring Arabic key-board solo. The vocals are pretty gifted too - quite close to Jeff Sctoot Soto in fact. Well, let's draw line and count up this one: (3999+2-11+6.55+28.19-13/12+29.91)7-666=4. Recommended to everyone who is into Axel Rudi Pell, pills, peels, etc. (St.Ded)

3-/5
SILEX
Legendary Beauty
2002 / 2004
INTERVENTION ARTS / CD-Maximum
Gothic Metal/Mainstream Rock

An intriguing introduction with a-la Classic violins and the noise of the ocean is the only bonus on this one. Although there is one other thing here It could have been a lot better had it not been for - pardon me French - phallucentrism - that is the "fantastic" and "amazing" male vocals. In order to get those upfront all the other instruments have been reduced into far background, sounding twice as quiet. These vocals have also obviously served as the basis for the weak compositional structure. But sad as it is - here's the statement - the guy sucks. Yes the proprietor of this "mesmerizing" voice does try to sound a bit easier and freer, probably even mimic the vocal wonders of Mme Galas, but the result is hardly impressive. It does not have the power, it does not have the bend, it does not have the taste - and once again it plain sucks. (St.Ded)

3/5
THE AWAKENING
The Ethereal Menace Project
1999 / 2004
INTERVENTION ARTS / CD-Maximum
Gothic/Industrial Rock
This is already the third release of this one-man-fits-all combo. I'm not sure about the spin, but this one has definitely been spoiled alright. Then again this is just an opinion of a guy who is not really much into this type of music. The megabrain of Anston Nyte (the dude) is still in for sophistication, daintihood, the ever-growing perfectionism of his own concepts, but so far it is only 1.999 and all those who got hooked on by the how should I put it sensitive cover artwork (i.e. the bare strap of a male belly appearing from under a tinseled skinny-fit shirt) will have to go through over an hour of psychedelic electronic hackwork: very second-hand beats, slim and weak decadence voice, and public restroom atmosphere. But - you can't get a butterfly without a caterpillar. (St.Ded)

4+/5
THE AWAKENING
The Fourth Seal Of Zeen
2000 / 2004
INTERVENTION ARTS / CD-Maximum
Gothic Rock
Tasteful music with sticky melodies and dance urges that are not rare. Mood-wise it is melancholic and bombastic. The whole album once again is done solely by Mr. Ashton Nyte, this serves as the basis for the fact that all instruments here are computerized but the rich musical content makes up for that. Guitars, drums, a myriad of electronic FX - all in all a full set of standard DJ tools, with occasional ambienistic pauses. A far-drawn analogy for me here would be probably Depeche Mode (only that this one is much-much grimmer). The whole picture is decorated by some pretty good vocals, that may slightly remind of some Rammstein-like exercises, even a little bit more interesting. (St.Ded)

4-/5
THEATRES DES VAMPIRES
Vampyrisme
2002 / 2004
MASTERPIECE DISTRIBUTION / CD-Maximum
Gothic/Black Metal
Over the past few decades literature-people and cinematographers did so much to popularize the image of the darkness-born blood-sucking creatures, that musicians exploiting the thematic like there is no tomorrow are getting one hell of a helping hand. A dark example would be the charming creations of Cradle of Filth who have already by far overpaid the "tribute" and would even make one hesitate who is popularizing whom here. As for TdV the Russian re-release of the Italians' debut is quite an interesting piece of work that has a charisma of its own but then again kind of disappoints with the timidity with which the musicians reveal their own creative personality. The guitar riffs are kind of pale and one cannot get rid of the impression that there is something else terribly important missing - maybe the thrill in the musical plot and lack of original compositional ideas. Then again there is a also a great lot of positive moments such as: multiple vocal types, quite impressive drum parts, curious phantasmagoric decorations, and overall balance in the material. (St.Ded)

4/5
TROLLHEIM'S GROTT
Bloodsoaked and Ill-fated
2003
Woodcut Records
troll black metal
The war goes on and an army of trolls armed to their teeth and mean to their bones continues their victorious march across the land covered in human corpses and gore. "We are here to dehumanize - Fuck mankind so full of nothingness!" - proclaims Spellgoth, and - I don't know why - but one starts to actually believe him, that the days of this world are ending, and not because the Blessing Fire did not light up in Jerusalem on the Easter Sunday, but simply because they - Trollheim's Grott - have decided so. And avalanche of electronic black metal fire in the best traditions of the Kovenant and And Oceans, that the band unleashes onto their listener is the power with which you - my dear homo sapiens - will have to reckon with. Well, have a nice day, as they usually in American action movies before pushing the red button on the so-called "nuclear briefcase".
(Troll)

5/5
U.D.O.
Thunderball
2004
AFM / CD-Maximum
heavy/power metal
After the second live album Udo Dirkschneider immediately entered the studio and almost half a year later launched the new album into public. The album can be doubtlessly considered a classic of the hard rock genre mixed with power metal, the second style prevailing. There are no experimental stuff of the CD like on the previous "Man And Machine"; the new album is the classic U.D.O. one. And though the first track reminds of Judas Priest and the third resembles speedy AC/DC riffs, tracks like "Fistful Of Anger", "Hell Bites Back" and "Blind Eyes" ideally reproduce the classic sound of U.D.O. itself. There are also two surprises on the album. First, the already legendary "Trainride In Russia (Poezd Po Rossii)" with extremely funny lyrics about the band's adventures in Russia and chorus sung in Russia. Second, two bonus tracks on the digipack, new track "Hardcore Lover" and European version of "Trainride In Russia (Poezd Po Rossii)". If you never heard U.D.O. - start from this one, you will love it! (Dead Ripper)

4/5
VARIOUS ARTISTS
Influences And Connections (Volume One: Mr. Big)
2004
Frontiers / CD-Maximum
hard rock
Those of you who don't know Mr. Big raise your hands! Nowadays the band is the ultimate classic, a legend of the American hard rock music of the 1990s. And finally "Frontiers Records" company decided to release a tribute album to the Americans. The result is outstanding to say the least. It's very interesting that for the first time you can hear the voices of three members of celebrated Mr. Big, who are drummer Pat Torpey, bassist Billy Sheehan, and guitarist Ritchie Kotzen. However, no traces of two former members of the band such as singer Eric Martin and extraordinary guitarist Paul Gilbert can found on the CD. Musicians who 'pay' the tribute are legends on their own - if you want to hear Glenn Hughes and Joe Lynn Turner singing on awesome totally hard rocking tracks, give them a try. But Doogie White's singing on "Wild World" is less than average. It's also a mystery how Yngwie Malmsteen turned out to play on this album for his music has nothing to do with Mr. Big. Still he is a true professional - you will immediately recognize his solo. Some of the tracks are great but four of five ones could be easily thrown out. (Dead Ripper)

4+/5
VENIN NOIR
Rainy Days Of October
2002 / 2004
HELLION Records / CD-Maximum
Power/Opera Metal, Hard Rock
A sound clear as a mountain spring, melodic guitars framed into crystal keyboards, soul-rending harmonies, and the vector aimed at Nightwish. What? You think that this is yet another Scandinavian bunch who are trying to match the talent of their famed compatriots? Nope, wrong answer. The strategic height is being stormed by Brazilians. Choosing a rating motivation is quite difficult though, since it could be both - bitching and moaning about the band's Nightwish-like direction, or, on the contrary, jumping with joy because of how skillfully they follow that direction. I do have to say that the vocals are quite monotonous here, although this is the result of their structure rather than lack of vocal skills. I mean seriously it is really amazing how the voice of Larissa Frade is similar to that of Tarja Turunen's. Yes, it is not so powerful and not as flexible, but the sound itself Anyways I am not the one to believe in coincidences, so the verdict is - add more of your own individuality, and the respects paid to you will grow two-fold. But the Finns should watch out for this one, should they record a weak album and they will have a hard time proving that their Wish is Nightier.
(St.Ded)

4/5
ZATMENIE
Hate
2004
Misteria Zvuka/JetNoise Records
thrash
What could have been the birth of a new Russian Metallica never happened, although the band had all the preconditions to become one: high-quality although a little outdated sound, pretty smart lyrics with a pretense for philosophy, aggression in the music with a pretense for cult-status, and especially the bright and memorable vocals of Pavel Mikheev. The 40 something minutes of this record are not likely to send you to sleep, but alongside the powerful likes of the speeding "Last Battle" and the tough "Prayer", there is a bunch of what they call fillers "The Road to Death" and "the Horseman". The sound itself is a just a tiny bit too thin for my liking, I mean this would of worked in the 80ies, but not in the new millennium. The artwork is not what one would call inspiring either - The Eye - is something that one would find in a dozen of other releases in all the possible genres and trends. The shape, the cut, and the color of The Eye could be different but Besides this green one looks way too friendly to adorn the cover of an album called "Hate". Four fists including the advance for the future and the hope that the band shall not stop in its development. (Debbie Boink)

 

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