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
ANTIMATTER
Lights Out
2003
PROPHECY Productions / CD-Maximum
inert fluctuating rock

The issues of development of a human personality with age, its maturing and transformation of its temperament both in general and within the context of heavy metal is still open. And while one may jump with joy at the creative endurance, non-conformism, and inventiveness of Kerry King and the Slayer-boys, who even in their forties, refuse to bend to social stereotypes, one would then run headfast into the conclusions on the rotten and renegade nature of the likes of Metallica. At the same time, when I hear the absolute harmony of the new Anathema or Patterson's project Animatter I kind of start wondering what's the whole point about breaking your vocal cords trying to tell the world how much of a bitch god is or how much fun it is to pitch a fork under the ribs of a passer-by and watch the results. The truth is out there somewhere, and its up to each of us to find his own. But the basics is - it's all about the quality. Calmness, dreaminess, thoughtfulness of the voice, casual bass-lines, choosy rhythms, and glittering keyboards - relaxation is not just about Pink Floyd, lads. (St. Ded)

3/5
ARCHETYPE
Dawning
2003
Lucretia / CD-Maximum
power metal

The cover of this album is designed in the best traditions of gothic rock school - a sad girl with flashing eyes on the sleazy background. But musically it's no gothic rock, it's power metal. Still its very strange version. Before glancing in the booklet I thought if the Europeans could have mixed so many styles. It turned out that the band originates from the USA and that leads to the understanding of style mixing. On one side pathetic lyrics on all tracks and some kind of drive remind you of the power metal but mid-temp tracks and ballads, the latter covering almost half of the album, reflect the heavy and groovy hard rock image. It's not an easy task to listen to such an album and you forget it upon hearing it just once. Still a couple of acoustic instrumental tracks give some hope for the group's bright future. (Dead Ripper)

3-/5
ARCH NEMESIS
Shadows In The Mirror
2002
EDGERUNNER RECORDS / CD-Maximum
Power Metal

When I checked upon the site of these Norwegian lads I only was interested in one thing: I need to know whether the helter-skelter that poured out of the speakers onto the floor in my room was something primeval. And fortunately it was. Otherwise the following passage worth of whining would have been positioned as a post-mortem to AN's work. The apotheosis of this material lies within those areas where the band - appealing to the title of the CD - summons shadows of Helloween, Judas Priest, Tito & Tarantula, and all of them other good bands - that is, I repeat, the best part of the material here. But once these dudes get into self-realization, you start feeling the icy grip of boredom close its fingers on yer neck, your soul sinks into yer testicles, and the only thought left in your brain flashes: "Hairy Mary, what - oh what - did I do to deserve this?!". To do the boys justice - the material they attempted at is quite complex, and when it goes down to the playing - it's quite okay. I'll say more - they do even have a couple (plus two fifths) of pretty cool songs, in which they squeezed some good vocal parts (although on the rest of the record it sounds more like the squeaking of a mosquito). No, I mean, if you like mosquitoes Ha, no wonder the band took the picture of themselves by a swamp! (St. Ded)

5+/5
AUTUMNBLAZE
DammerElberTragodie
1999 / 2003
PROPHECY Productions / CD-Maximum
Gothic Rock/Pagan Metal/Romance

The reasons as to why we review this record in 2003 while I 've been adoring its contents for over three years now, and it really was made in the past century - but that's beside the point - because the material contained herein is timeless really. The emotional aspect is overflowing with nostalgia, sensitivity, with a small addition of healthy metal breakdown. The rest of it is witty and impressionistic melodies, compositional plasticity, contrast in the vocals (singing vs. growling) - it's really perfect. And now - I'll hide myself behind the closet and whisper the regular comparison: "Katatonia meets Nick Cave meets Julio Iglesias Ouch! Aaaa!!! I was just kidding!!!" - WHAM!!! (St. Ded)

5/5
AXENSTAR
Far From Heaven
2003
Arise Records / CD-Maximum
power metal
Typical Finnish power-junk recorded by Swedes - and that's about it really. But for those of you who have not heard the debut record by this combo - here's the lowdown. What you are about to hear is the second album of this Swedish act released by Arise records, who specialize in power metal and melodic rock. If you were expecting anything new - you better go look somewhere else. What you are in for here is high-speed and high-quality dubbah-dubbah, with good vocals, solid guitar parts, simplistic texts and even more simplistic melodies. This one here is a bit more diverse than the debut has been, but is still way down the line from Stratovarius (R.I.P the old lineup) and Sonata Arctica. Those of you who still have a romantic side to them will positively dig the ballad of "Northern Sky", but Iit would also be safe to assume that the Helloween freaks out there are not likely to appreciate the cover of "Twilight of the Gods", that's something the Axenstar-boys should of taken much easier.. (Debbie Boink)

4-/5
BLAZING ETERNITY
A World To Drown In
2003
PROPHECY Productions / CD-Maximum
rock

Good work with good compositions. The central gimmick here is the broadband format. Having catchy choruses and instrumental licks, on the one hand, and not overdoing the now fashionable elements and heading for more traditional ideas, on the other, this one could well go onto MTV, join the centrist-oriented rock community, or even enter the house of black metal. The drawbacks are the monotony (that is unless they were trying to cover the clergy audience as well) and the lack in the spices of their own charisma. Honestly it'd be major hard to distinguish the band from many of its co-timers. (St. Ded)

4/5
THE BLUE SEASON
Cold
2003
PROPHECY Productions / CD-Maximum
gothic rock

(Another) magnificent example of Gothic Art. An organic piece of work with excellent taste, knowledge of traditions and performance: measured harmonies, ear-caressing solo guitars, expressive rhythms, well-felt compositional plot, and a flawless combination of restrained male vocals with beautiful female singing. The keyboard instrumental piece is a nice bonus to this already colorful record. An interesting detail: one of the songs here somehow reminded me of such an unlikely call as Cranberries. (St. Ded)

3-/5
BON JOVI
This Left Feels Right
2003
The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal
acoustic pop from aging rockers

Believe me, the discharge of this creative diarrhea has no logic about it other than simply extorting the hard-earned money from silly girlies. The CD poses absolutely no interest whatsoever for either the old-timer fans of Bon Jovi, nor for your average statistical listener who just wants to show respect to the former grandeur of the band. The syrupy sniveling to a piano accompaniment with completely tasteless arrangements makes this pseudo-acoustic junk totally unbearable. All the best smashes such as Bad Medicine, Lay Your Hands on Me, and Keep the Faith have been turned into boring-to-death popcorn, which the band tries to convince us is the way they see the old material these days. This is not a new view of the old material, folks, it's called hemeralopia. On top of it "Living on a Prayer" turned out as a duet of Jon himself and somebody called Olivia d'Abo (who just happens to be the wife of the producer - the ed.) Bloody awful. (Debbie Boink)

4/5
DREAMTIDE
Dreams For The Daring
2003
Frontiers / CD-Maximum
progressive hard rock

Like it or not but musicians from currently disbanded German melodic hard rock group Fair Warning are very extreme people. Even after the main band folded those people manage to shock the music society with their efforts. It seemed that the debut album of Dreamtide featuring former Fair Warning guitarist Helge Engelke and drummer C.C. Behrens brought the band as high as ever and nothing higher is even possible. Two years passed and the second release became a much more complicated and sometimes a simpler one. It is somehow good that Dreamtide turned their music in a bit simpler direction which is reflected in Fair Warning-styled "Dream Real", "Land Without Justice" and "Out There" but at the same time the band tries to incorporate some modern motives into its music. No, don't be afraid - there is no new metal or hip hop stuff. If any group can be considered to be classified as 'hard rock with progressive elements' Dreamtide is on top of the list. By the way, three final tracks, remixes, are very interesting ones having not so much to do with album versions. The album is highly recommended to all fans of quality hard rock. (Dead Ripper)

4+/5
EDGUY
King Of Fools
2004
Nuclear Blast / Irond
power metal
Tut-tut-tut, the enfant cheri of the public, fellow-musicians, and critics Toby Sammet is being naughty! In fact, although he's never been the quietest of the boy, however his new mini-CD might give one an idea that the small larks of this unruly child may turn into true hooliganism, which may also affect his achievement sheet! Parental advisory: loads of bad language (I mean even the young and heavily drinking talent called James Hetfield did not swear that much from stage back in the heyday) hardly help appreciating the new material any better. Talking of which - the first and already expected smashing shot "King of Fools", that all too obviously reminds of other mid-tempo openers such as "Tears of the Mandrake", followed by three filler-tracks, whose only purpose in this life is to show that, if these three, really not that bad tracks did not make it to the final release, then in March we are in for a real treat. This is closed off with a piano-accompanied bonus-story about the offspring of greedy music business-sharks and victim of Russian audio piracy. (Fireball)

4-/5
EERINESS
A Life Beyond The Shades Of Time
2003
CRAZY LIFE MUSIC / CD-Maximum
Dark/Gothic Metal

It's been a long time. Yes, it's been a long time since the last releases of such grandeurs as Samael and Crematory yes oh - where was I. Ah, exactly, the premiere by Eeriness. Canonic dark metal with driven guitars, prophetic growling vocals, and bombastic keyboard decorations. Pluses: excellent (enthusiastic handclaps, please) recording, true master roaring, ably drumwork, a certain number of quality melodic and compositional ideas. Shortcomings: gimpy and importunate female vocals (as if somebody has invited the duke's daughter to sing at a ball after the first chalice), awful clean male vocals (thanks Octopus - occasional), some really primitive keyboard solutions. When viewed in combination the conclusion, to cite a Russian classic, is as follows: "What is the main happening in my life?" - "To come" - "The main happening of your life is still to come" (St. Ded)

5/5
EFORCE
Evil Forces
2003
Season Of Mist / CD-Maximum
thrash metal

If you consider the album to be a power metal one judging by the band name and album title you think exactly the same way I do. And the first track can be surely classified as the good old power metal. But with the beginning of the second song you start to doubt why it sounds so heavy. And when the vocalist started to sing I immediately wanted to log into the Internet and write a letter directly to Schmier, leader and bassist of legendary German thrashers Destruction, and ask him just one thing, "What is your side project called Eforce is all about?" So if I didn't know that Destruction released a new album last year I could easily think that Shmier went to Canada, found some local guys and recorded an album with outtakes from the post-reunion Destruction era but decided to scale down his bass tracks a bit. The reason for such thoughts is plain - music and lyrics are pure Destruction-like. Let's not go into heavy details - if you're a fan of Destruction you should go and buy this album. I promise you won't regret it! (Dead Ripper)

4/5
FARMAKON
A Warm Glimpse
2003
SPV / Soyuz Music
death-jazz

Powerful. Impressive. I'd even say stunning. These guys managed to accomplish what they were aiming at. That is to panic-strike the unknowing and shock the self-proclaimed experts, by unleashing from the narrow, dark catacombs of their sick imagination this twofaced Werewolf-Frankenstein. Mutilated, crippled beyond any recognition through sickeningly realistic interpenetration the two polar styles of music death metal and jazz, as two helpless victims of crazy surgeons, were incested into a sole Siamese something, scaring, repulsing and attractive nonetheless. Forget Opeth with their paranoid strive towards Beauty, towards existing in Melody and Harmony in the unified sphere of Music, that knows no boundaries or styles! The boys from Farmakon have the vector of their young and wild energy directed the opposite way: slash into pieces, slice with one single cut of a scalpel, driven by some unknown and unnatural instinct of their own, and then turn the shapeless mass into clots of raw death energy that will rain upon you from this record in the flight of crazy jazz improvisation. . (Fireball)

3/5
FIREFLY
Automatic
2003
MTM Music / CD-Maximum
melodic hard rock

The debut album of the American group Firefly perfectly fit into the hard rock list of the German company "MTM Music". Musicians surely had some time for practice in earlier bands and managed to work carefully in the songwriting sphere. There are some similarities with Whitesnake and some with early Aerosmith stuff. At least the balladesque "If Your Lucky", powerful "Every Measure" and catchy "She'll Never Know" sound good enough. The only problem concerns the recording quality of the debut. When listening to this album you always think that it was either recorded in the worst American studio ever or the recording engineer damaged both ears before getting down to work. The sound is deafening and seems to come out of the cellar which is a major disappointment for the album. If Firefly works more on the quality issue it might break to a higher class from the absolute bottom. (Dead Ripper)

4-/5
FORGIVE-ME-NOT
Behind
2003
Soyuz
hardy gothic rock
I am still unsure whether this one is positioned as a new album or a mini-CD, since after half an hour (that is the actual length) one is left with an impression of unfinishedness and underspokenness. Those of you who already know what this band is about, you are definitely not going to find anything new here. Yes, the quality is there, but the soul and the drive are still missing. The same old pretense to gothic rock, same old faked grimnitude, same old partly aggressive male vocals. Nothing more. Oh, had I not looked inside the inlay I would of never imagined that "Escape" has a female singing in it, that's how deep and low her voice sounds. Of obvious failures here is the closing cover of Cinderella's "Gipsy Road". I mean they didn't even think it necessary to mention the name of the original performer in the booklet, let alone the names of actual composers. Which they really should of, since then it would be much easier to understand where these shrieks and edged guitars are coming from and how funny they sound when compared to the original performance by Tom Keifer and Co. A typical "storm in a teacup". (Debbie Boink)

4/5
HARLAN CAGE
Double Medication Tuesday
1998 / 2003
MTM Music / CD-Maximum
AOR

Does the name of Giuffria ring the bell to you? I mean the guy who worked with Angel in the USA in the 1970s and later went on to form recently reunited House Of Lords? All of that means that Harlan Cage is the pure Giuffria clone. Of course, there are less keyboards and more guitars but it doesn't affect the whole situation but brings Harlan Cage's music to new horizons. It's an absolute AOR effort, no heaviness is allowed. Which doesn't stop songs like mid-tempo "Solitary Dance", "Defend This Heart Of Mine", "As You Are" and fast "Turn Up The Radio" stay on your mind for a long time after hearing this album. It's hard to say if the band had it from the very beginning (this is the second album) or it was inherited through the years. Anyway, the album sounds great and never gets boring no matter how many times you listen to it. Recommended for fans of Foreigner and Journey. (Dead Ripper)

5/5
L.A.GUNS
Man In The Moon
2001
Spitfire Records
good ole' glam
Late as it is, but I finally laid my grip over the sixth studio release of the cult L.A. Guns. I was kind of half-reluctant to insert the CD into the player, remembering the terrifying experiments of "American Hardcore", however a careful study through the band-member-list inspired new hopes and was enough to at least clam myself down - the legendary L.A. Guns have finally gotten over their internal arguments and reunited in their "golden" lineup: Tracii Guns, Phil Lewis, and Steve Riley. And when my speakers started oozing mind-piercing solos and the voice of Phil, shattering and disturbing as it used to be, started singing about lost love, everything fell back into place. These guys are still in excellent shape, if they can yet come up with such excellent ballads as "Beautiful" or "Don't Call Me Crazy". The production was taken care of by none other than Gilby Clarke (Ex-Guns N'Roses) which was positively a right choice of producer. And in all, I mean, after listening to such releases, one is left with a solid impression that glam lives and will live, which is certainly a bonus. (Debbie Boink)

5/5
L.A.GUNS
Golden Bullets
2003
Mausoleum Records
good ole' glam
You know there're your usual "Best Of" compilations, which are actual for any time of day and year, and there are those that are hammered onto the wall of rock-n-roll fame with golden nails right after the release. I don't have a clue as to what and how long it took for this disk to be put together, but I will tell you this - there isn't one single "filler" in these 20 tracks. I mean, truly, they are the cream of the crop of L.A. Guns. "Sex Action", "Ballad of Janey", "Over the Edge", "Kiss My Love Goodbye", "Rip & Tear", etc., etc., etc. Everything you could of imagine in your wildest dreams collected in one bottle. What is even, is that unlike most of your "Greatest Hits" which are usually a translation of a band in distress, desperately trying to get the last juicy cut off their former glory, this one is coming from an actively touring combo, that is now preparing to release an album of covers, and in all feels quite well and good. The old-timers don't quit - and rightly so. (Debbie Boink)

5/5
MORBID ANGEL
Heretic
2003
Earache / Soyuz Music
death metal

I don't know about you, but to me Morbid Angel has become one of the few bands that completely redefined my understanding of music, since I first heard "Blessed Are the Sick" in 1991. To this day I remember being entirely wiped out by their dark energy, unique playing, and immense composing potential. They've also become on of the few bands to never become a disappointment. Even the somewhat obscure 1997-release, which initially confused me with its seeming excessive straightforwardness, as years went by, would open more and more perspectives and dimensions. That's why it was no surprise, that I awaited the release of "Heretic" with obvious anticipation and excitedness. And, boy, was I right. Complex, many-sided, technically perfect, this work is another explanation of why this band is considered to be the kings of Death Metal. Combining thickness, heaviness, and - inexplicably - almost ethereal lightness, "Heretic" is a thrilling journey into the dark and splendorous in its weird, out-of-this-earth beauty world of Lovecraftian grotesque in music. I could go on with endless complements and dithyrambs to this album forever, but quite honestly do not see much since in it. You simply gotta hear it. (Troll)

4/5
SALTATIO MORTIS
Das Zweite Gesicht
2002
Napalm Records / Irond
gothic folk

Hic Rohdus, his salta! - as the ancient put it. Which means that if somebody releases you under the label that cries "folk", you better demonstrate that very folk heritage of minstrels and troubadours. I mean you don't really expect us to blindly trust the Napalm Records press-releases that try to convince us of the fact that we're facing the new In Extremo. But nonetheless the wicked show-business bosses are not lying this time - the pseudo medieval material, generously spiced with bagpipes, harps and other olden gimmicks plus a good deal of electronic gothic, sound like a very positive experience. You'll start feeling like dancing already into the third number, which is "Heuchler". And although the band misses the balls that In Extremo's got, but I would blame them of being pop either. A rather easy to digest material for a non-demanding listener. (Debbie Boink)

5-/5
SPIHA
Egoreactor
2003
Low Frequency / CD-Maximum
gothic rock
For once Suomi has released something different from that gray faceless mass that is normally referred to as Finnish Metal. The world saw the release of the young and - or course - aspiring band Spiha, which is already quite known back in its homeland and is now about to storm the rest of the planet, and - I gotta say - they do have a lot to offer. What we're talking about are the screaming ballads of "If I Ever Let You Go" and "If I Fall", and a smasher of "Scratch", and a rocking number called "Altamont". Another major treat of the record is "Samurai of the Sound" that features a vocal contribution of Henry Lee Rock's old friends' Jyrki69 of 69 Eyes and Ville Tuomi of Suburban Tribe. So this release does have all the chances to projectile the band into their bright future while the band itself has a good chance of coming over to Russia already this year. The only minus of this CD I'd say is the rather cheapo-looking inlay, that contains the lyrics and amateur-camera photos of the band. (Debbie Boink)

4/5
MIKE TRAMP
More To Life Than This
2003
Ulftone Music / CD-Maximum
hard rock
That unruly Dane Mike Tramp has launched upon the world his third solo release, which is traditionally simple, but also tasteful. This is really a two-option choice - you'll either buy this disk because you enjoy this kind of style without extra clinquant and complexities, and because you already have Tramp's previous record, or it will simply leave you unmoved. You can't force someone to love you, and this is what Mike is not trying to do, persistently writing the music that he himself likes to listen to, which is not fashionable, but very true. With this one you are in for some 47 minutes of mid-to-slow numbers about life in general - love, hate, doubts, search for a meaning, etc., with an occasional bluesy or country harmony. An excellent release for relaxation. Oh yes, and make sure to check out the title track - a definite hit. (Debbie Boink)

4/5
THE TREAT
In Technicolor
2003
Rockular Recordings
melodic hard rock

This band seems to be a total newcomer in the world of hard rock music. At least no interactive or printed encyclopedia provides even a couple of words about the UK-based combo. Music-wise The Treat sounds like a cross between Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin and the more obscure glam rock likes of Jetboy. Sloppy and funny lyrics are surely taken from Steve Tyler and glamour-bands in general while the performance is obviously Led Zeppelin-ish. Most of the tracks sound brave and up-tempo but the lack of guitar attack and drum power make them sound like Poison (if it could have emerged in the 1970s) but nothing like KISS. At the same time such a bravery of sound and one hundred percent rock'n'roll attitude make The Treat look like no other hard rock band. If this sounds like you cup of whiskey - you may want to give this one a try. (Dead Ripper)

3+/5
TYR
How Far To Asgaard
2002
Tyr / Tutl /CD-Maximum
Viking Metal

Historically, slow rhythms in rock music have been either melancholic, or phlegmatic, with light and aerial or on the contrary dark and depressing accents. TYR, however, is nothing of that. The monotonous guitar rhythms follow along a steady drum-beat and accentuate the ringing, I'd even say anthem-type, vocals (somewhat in the key of mid-90ies Bathory). The picture is livened with solos and acoustic bit. A very unusual release. I mean, I really wouldn't want to tell the Danes how they should tribute their grand national past, so it is kind of hard for me to objectively judge that release. I did notice a piece of Classic here - but that one was used righteously, but with little sense. The booklet is pretty thick and contains many an exciting story about the past feats and battles and fates. I'd say it's rather interesting and educative, but, frankly, just a tiny bit too boring: three and a half maybe? It may also be that the salt will surface later? (St. Ded)

 

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