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

Perpetual Twilight
You know sometimes I really start hating Hammerfall. Having released their debut in 1997 the aspiring followers of Helloween and Manowar have converted half of Sweden from the good ole' death metal to the more accessible and consequently twice as faceless power metal. I mean, its not even that they play it badly, but it is so much lacking in new ideas, that it almost automatically twitches your mouth into a bored yawn and your fingers start unconsciously searching for the FWD button. So is there really any sense in describing the contents of this CD? No. None whatsoever. But when you gotta, you gotta Well, as soon as you push 'play' you find yourself in a beautiful and magic world, where milk rivers run along sugar shores and neat candy-houses, mighty heroes singing in castrated voices battle against the fearsome (NOT!!!) dragons, and the yellow pancake-sun shines through the candy-floss clouds. How wonderful! Power-freaks only (Troll)

Live Bait for the Dead (2CD)
AbraCadaver/Snapper Music
supreme vampric live
I remember seeing a funny club flyer the other day from one of the local watering halls, specifically it read: "yes, we are posers." Well I couldn't think of any a better description for this record, although in the Cradle case I'd rather add: "No thank you, and piss off!" Indeed the great masters of Filth do not pretend to be true, but like they need it? And indeed most probably, this live CD went through some extensive after-processing and engineering, to make it sound right, but who cares? Most obviously Dani Davey & Co. are ripping us off again but how they do it with class! And finally, yes, the advocates of black metal ideology may as well continue spitting words of venom and knives of anger in the direction of COF for their fury does and always shall cause nothing but a condescending grin. However, let us turn to the album itself: CD #1 is a live recording made during a show in the glorious town of Nottingham on an Easter weekend of the 14th of April 2001. This 13-track compilation spans the entire six years of COF productive activity starting from 'The Principal of Evil Made Flesh' and through to 'Midian'. The sound quality might not be ideal but is definitely leaning to it, and the interjections that Vice-Count de Filth makes between the songs, like "What a fucking crap way to send an Easter weekend!" or "This next song will be from yet another album of ours, strangely enough" - once again, prove him to be not only an excellent singer and showman, but also a witty and fabulously brilliant person with a turbo-cynical sense of humor. CD #2 seemed less interesting to me, since I am not really a big lover of all sorts of DJ remixes and other so-called rarities, but here as well one may find a bunch of pretty goodies including the director's cut of the 'No Time to Cry' video, a bunch of downloadable screensavers and a cool Windows-toolbar. (Troll)

Historically it has happened so that due to me personal subjective musical preferences I do lash out at all sorts of meat music much less than any other genres. It's true - I repent. Yes, I absolutely adore meat, especially when it's well cooked and served. Which is the case with the Belgian Deformity. The have a phat and juicy sound, they know how to implement their ideas in music, they are driven, professional - so what else could you ask from a good release? Add to this the sincere love of the band for their job, which you can easily hear in every note played, and you get an album which is almost too good to be true. (Troll)

Killing the Dragon
hard'n Dio
Who is Dio and what do you expect of him? The answer to this question should be known even to the participants of a MacDonalds Sunday party. Who is he? - The cult rock-dude with the best voice in the Universe. What do you expect of him? Best thing is expect nothing, cuz over the past three decades he and his majestic court have come up with more masterpieces than could possibly fit into one stage-career. However let us not dwell upon the recent controversial works of the heavy metal Baptist. Yes, I personally (and not only me) am not really excited with the stuff the master has come up with over the past ten years, and the Magica album has put me into philosophical bluedom and depressive contemplations concerning the inevitable dawn of the generation of the Best. Nonetheless my hands were not shaking when I put the latest CD of the God (learn some Italian, ye ignorant!) into my player. The very first impressions were entirely positive - no dumb alternative straightforwardness which we heard in 1996 and not as gimpy and flat as in 2000. The new album has got what all the recent works by Ronnie Padavona were missing (with the exception of the totally cool "Inferno" live CD) - that is the overflowing spirit and guts we heard in the 70ies and 80ies. Finding a smart combination of simple riff-oriented hard-rock and his never-aging deep voice, Dio managed to revive the raging atmosphere of his brilliant solo albums. I will not lie to you the best songs of the new album, such as 'Guilty,' 'Scream,' and 'Throw Away Children' could hardly compete with the very average tracks off the man's 1980ies works, however looking at the thick swamp which has all of 'the olden days heroes' in it at the album, releasing an album which is downright 'classic' is already a victory. A small, but a meaningful one. (Fireball)

Low Frequency/CD-Maximum
dark metal/gothic rock
Strictly speaking the stylistic nationality of this Finnish act is extremely difficult to define, I mean if you could speak in terms of over-diversity, Embraze would be the case. However, the fact did not spoil the quality of the end product in any way. In each song you can feel faultless taste, forethought and compositional integrity, which makes the album suitable for both attentive listening and background playing. Having put together the apparently unmixable riffing and melodic parts, these Finns managed to achieve something, which very few bands have - that is record a pretty heavy album at a good pop level, in the sense that pretty much every song on 'Katharsis' could easily end up on the radio or TV and not look out of place there, despite al the growling vocals, distortion, and crunching rhythms. A rare case when gothic rock is actually pleasing to the ear. (Troll)

World in Your Eyes
I guess the younger part of our audience will muse in amazement and bewilderment seeing the name of Robert Fleischman, like "who in the hell is this guy?" Big mistake. The name of Robert Fleischman, my sons, should be pronounced with respect and preferably in theopathic whisper. The point is, that a long-long time ago in the end of 1970s (when some of you were still in plans) a band appeared in California under the name of Journey (yes, you might have heard your old-man mention it), which later became one of the most popular and commercially successful acts not only in the US, but all over the world. And during the first nine months of the band's existence Robert was their singer, then he departed, leaving behind a bunch of ready songs which he was kind enough to present to his former colleagues. These songs later appeared on the 'Infinity' album which became platinum propelling Journey into mega-stardom and making Fleishcman himself known as a hit-writer. After that Robert worked with more than one rock-star including ex-Kiss guitarist Vinnie Vincent and many others. Why am I telling you this? For you to rush to the store and buy this CD right now, that's why! Listen to some good quality music for once! (Troll)

Episode 1: A Human Into Dreams World

some call that opera...
On hearing the very first chords of this creation, I remembered this old joke: "What do you call a guy who likes to hang out with musicians? - a drummer!" And now try to imagine a rock opera which has a drummer as the main character and a bunch of stars to accompany him. Imagined? Oh, really?! No, you wouldn't be able to imagine anything even close to this big fat chunk of prog-rock, which was consumed in the sick and twisted mind of Daniel Gildenslow. The role of Genius - yes, the drummer - was given to Mark Boals, Gildenslow himself took over the second main character lead, the storyteller is Philip Boyle, with co-stars featuring the names of Lana Lane (Doorkeeper), Chris Boltendahl (Staitonmaster) and other more or less famous individuals. The short synopsis is as follows: it was Monday - a hard day for everyone - and our drummer, named Genius, was lying in his bed although it was 7AM already. He might have been hungover or stoned from the previous night but somehow he heard something strange in the sound of the alarm clock, and as he closed his eyes he sank into some sort of a hallucination. The hallucination was so realistic that Genius believed he was in a world of dreams and did not want to leave it. After that, my friend, you will have to listen through the long and boring saga of Genius as sung by all the other heroes. Ok. To hell with the parallel world, one could have said, let Genius hang out there for a couple of hours, meet some cool people and that's it, I mean I could live with that. But no, the paradoxes of existentialism have suddenly become a menace for the real world, and of course putting the whole story onto one CD was not enough. So, we had scarcely lived through the torture of one disk, when we are already put before the fact that this thing is to be continued in two parts Yes, a bloody trilogy! Well, I'd rather recommend this so-called opera to those who thought Sammet's 'Avantasia ' was crap. I mean check this shit out! (Debbie Boink)

In times Before the Light (reissue)
A black metal classic reissue
When you refer to something as classic this automatically makes any other references or, let alone, reviews completely useless and obsolete, which in turn makes the following text a pretty senseless piece of work, but whatever. I mean, really, seriously, no matter what I may write about this CD, my humble opinion is not likely to change anything, and should it really? Well, strictly speaking this album is not a reissue in the full 100% meaning of the word for there were way too many things that have been remade and rerecorded here. What Lex Icon and his friends actually did do, was rearrange their debut album and show the public how it could have sounded had the band recorded it in 2002 instead of 1995. Have to admit, that the result turned out to be pretty good and tasty - the classic black metal elements, that made the foundation for the initial version of 'In times Before the Light', have been diluted with every kind of sample and electronic FX, then glued together, stirred, mixed, mastered and voila! To make it short this is an excellent CD, which I could recommend to basically everyone, save for the most stubbornest of the true "penguins". (Troll)

Cold Blooded Murder
Morbid Records/CD-Maximum
Death Metal - with capital D.
Saying that the German metal scene is blood-red with all sorts of death metal formations would unfortunately be a huge exaggeration. However rare as they are German death metal bands usually appear to be damn-good if not excellent, - for instance, take the now defunct Morgoth or the funny band called Orth. Indeed the situation with German Death Metal has been already pretty much categorized by Vladimir Ulyanov-Lenin in his "better less but better" formula. And Obscenity here are a perfect example. Being relatively unknown in the CIS territory this band meanwhile just issued its 10th full-length (if you count the first two MC-albums) and in parallel celebrated its 10th anniversary. The date being in all respects round and jubilee Obscenity simply could not afford celebrating it with a bad album. Well, 'Cold Blooded Murder' has really turned out a jubilee release, on which the band has segregated everything they've learned in the past 10 years of playing: complex and interesting guitar riffs, loads of rhythm shifts and tempo changes, powerful and deep growling vocals and basically everything you need for a perfect death metal record. (Troll)

Stygian Crypt
lullaby woods
Once upon a time there lived a little girl, in the evenings she went to the woods, collected ferns and watched the moon. Sometime she would forget all about herself and spend the whole night there, returning home only early in the morning when the stars were fading away. She was also in love with the boy next-door. He also went to the woods, nobody knows what he was doing there, but the whole village heard howls all through the night. One day the girl went mad and the boy went to the woods and never returned. Since then the peasants started telling about a strange vision many of them have witnessed, they said that a midnight a little girl dressed in white and an albinos-wolf appeared on the far forest meadow. And they play there together until morning, when they hear the owl returning from its night-hunt Why am I telling you this? Oh, it's just looks like the guys from Radigost, who just released their new album through Stygian Crypt records, lived in that village. Musically the album is pretty good, it's not dull, the lyrics are cool too, however the production leaves much to be desired: the guitar sound is quite thin, there are only keyboards in the foreground (you know them dense keys which send shivers down your spine), the drum samples are way too on the plastic side. In other wwords it could have been better, but he who doest not risk, shalt not meet maniacs in the woods (Debbie Boink)

metal hard'n'heavy

Very even, very traditional and thus very boring material. I mean you cannot really get connected to it at the first spin. (Really al the first spins should be cancelled and replaced with third spins straight away, cuz otherwise, those who are not too tolerant might send such albums straight to the wastebasket). The music here is just like a bath filled with warm water: insipid and barely palpable, but not hazardous either. Thanks (snake)god, they have at least got a bunch of uptempo numbers here, so if you get fed up with all the masterpieces you got in your collection (yes, this may happen too), you may as well headbang to something which reminds you of a dozen of your idols and none of them in particular. Another bonus of the record is the singer whose voice brings reminiscences of the legendary John Lawton (Uriah Heep, Zar, Lucifer's Friend). It might not be good enough to give that company a face of its own, but at least it hides the weak impression that the guitarists make. After another couple of spins you'd discover a bunch of new tricks and cool melodic solutions here and there, but the mighty sea of humdrum devours them immediately, not giving a chance to start appreciating the good parts. The final factor in opinion-making here is the cover which looks as if it was made by a teenager who had started drinking and watching adult movies way too early, thus making his puberty a real nightmare. And no, he does not know how to draw either. (Fireball)

Songs of Silence - Live in Japan
Europwer live
Orient is a strange land, and when it comes to the heavy scene its even paradoxical. It is no major secret that the Japanese are extremely fond of neoclassic and power metal, but I could never have thought that it is that serious. No, really, the situation as of today is that pretty much each band playing in galloping triplets and high-pitched vocals has only got to open a distribution network in Nippon - and that'd be it. This simple truth did not escape the sharp eyes of the Arctica boys, or rather, their managers. The result is that just two albums into their career Sonata Arctica come up with a live CD recorded - where'd you think? - Righteez, at Shibuya Open Air in Tokyo. Which basically means that now we needn't worry about the financial side of the Finns' future anymore (like any of us did?!) But let us get to the subject. The first thing that hit\s the ears is the absolutely ass-kicking sound. It has to be said, that the album was mixed and mastered at Finnvox by Mesrs. Karmila and Jussilla respectively, which may tell you a thing or two about the objectivity of the 'live' sound on the record, but again, who cares. If nothing else the band is professional, or 4/5ths of it are. For some reason or other, but it has been resolved that the object of passion of all the languorous Jap-girls, pretty boy Kakko should not re-record the vocal parts for the live album in the studio, which left us a chance to enjoy all of his flaws, mistakes and squeaks, esp. on 'Respect the Wilderness' and 'Last Drop Falls'. To tell you the truth the latter of the two songs has been subjected to atrocious vocal harassment and thus fucked up beyond any recognition. At the same time, I still have to admit that this is basically the only drawback of this CD - the rest is practically perfect. (Troll)

Audio Maniofesto
As soon as I put this CD into my player I had a creepy feeling of something very-very familiar, a sort of a deja-vu which I really couldn't put me finger to. Finally I have decided to turn to Peaceville website for answers, after which everything has come to order. As it turned out two of the three band members used to be the mastermind of the now extinct Whores of Babylon (not to be mixed with Babylon Whores), which released two albums on Candlelight Records and then vanished into oblivion. Let us turn to Soundisciples though. The material featured on the album can hardly be defined stylistically, for here you may easily find echoes of the aforementioned Whores of Babylon, as well as of the far more famous nu-metallers Limp Bizkit , as well as Alice in Chains and GGFH plus a godzillion of other mainstream and underground bands. Nonetheless despite all the blurred genre properties this album is definitely worth checking out. Some might yet accuse SD of being too controversial, but once again, the fact, true as it is, does not make Audio Manifesto a bad record. (Troll)

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