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


Though Plato is a friend to me, the truth is dearer or something. And the truth, my friends, is that quite often (if not always) an outgrossed mixing would zero every good beginning down to null. Sad, but true. Well, this one is exactly the case. I do understand that there are reasons to that and everything, but hell, it's just too bad I guess What really upsets me, is that the musical material represented by Meyson and Company on this CD is quite good - moreover, I must admit, I like it a lot better than the more successful likes of Dominions, Grief of Emeralds, Chasms, Hatespheres, Diabolicals and the other numerous clones of Drak Tranquility and In Flames. But all of the above-mentioned bands get quality recordings, master them at Finnvoxes and Studios Ones, and as a result look a lot better and more presentable. Well, whatever, too late to be sorry now. Let us hope that on the next album Artemesia will consider its previous mistakes, and spend some more time and effort on the mixing and mastering. (Troll)

White Legends
Canadian black

AAAAAARRRGHHHHH!!!! TRATATATATATATAAAAA!!!!! AAAAARGHHH!!!! FUUUUUUCK!!!!! AAAAARGHHH!!!! DEEEAAATHHHH!!!! EEEEEEVILLLLL!!!! AAAAA!!!! TRAAATATATATA!!!!!! Fucking A! :) Then again, you know what? Take you fucking skepticism and stick it where the sun never shines, me dear Troll, Mjollnir up yer arse! Wanna know why? Because despite the horrible recording quality and the apparent primitivism of the music, there's still that certain something about these Canadian lads well, sincerity, if nothing else. And no matter how little originality you may or may not find here, it still sounds quite good. Indeed, they may be way too much on the orthodox side, but then again, orthodoxy in black metal is quite usual, and not entirely wrong, my dear. True, this Ontario-based couple may well be a bit too naive, in many ways funny, but there is this primeval strength about them which one cannot but respect. (Troll)

Defending the Throne of Evil
Season of Mist/CD-Maximum
black metal

You know what the best thing about Carpathian Forest is? With this band there is really no telling whether they are serious about the whole deal, or not. You know that sort of a black metal Manowar thing. The latest effort of the mad Norsmen is basically a logical continuation of everything we have heard before. Radical mid-tempo black metal erected on rather simple riffs in the best traditions of the genre's founding fathers Celtic Frost and Venom, minimalistic keyboard arrangements, lyrics soaked in hatred towards the whole Xian religion and culture, grim and necro image - well, you know what these lads are best at. What is even better is that on the local market the CD went out in a super-duper kool glossy digipak with inverted crosses, barbwire, 6-inch spike and faced smeared in true corpse-paint all over the mutha. In short - with a defense like this one - the Throne of Evil can really be in peace! Carpathian Forest wants you dead! (Troll)

Park Of Reason
Masterpiece Distribution/CD-Maximum

Right, I guess he did not quite make it with the title, did he? This definitely is not park of reason, sounds more like Jungle of the Subconscious to me. Oh, by the way, let me introduce Mr. Paul Chain here - the founding father of the cult Italian formation Death SS who left it back in 1984, since even within the frames of such an avant-garde band he still felt himself pretty restrained. So here he is the Experimentalist, the Innovator and - I'd even say - the Anarchist in music. His new album is an example of self-expressional enuresis, an equally brave and unprecedented work, which stands way far from the traditional understanding of music. A flow of the emotional and the subconscious, but not a disjointed one, but rather merely controlled. Each piece (I cannot really refer to those as songs) is developing as if it follows some unusual but still existent logic. At the same time the question whether there will be a lot of people who would want to understand these newly established musical canons (which are entirely disconnected from the notion of melody) still hangs in the air. Most likely, this handful of listeners will be comprised of the highbrowed lovers of all things avant-garde, or else the omnivorous melomaniacs, whos bookshelves are creaking nastily buried under the tons of CDs. I'll admit, I really had a hard time trying to get to the album constantly breaking for a smoke or some other distraction of sorts. It was when I finally reached the completion of the record when I found the very last and the most complicated challenge, that was a composition called "Way of Chances" consisting of two entirely independent pieces (one of the being pretty much a song with vocals, while the other presented some sort of a sonic surrealism) which were playing together, each in its own channel for 15 minutes. Recommended as a universal medication for extremely hard cases of alcoholic and substance addictions. Too cult to be true. (Fireball)

Sign of Truth
AFM / CD-Maximum
melodic power

The moment you see the plump fizz of Herr Olaf Hayer on the CD inlay do not rush with conclusions regarding the contents of the album. He is not the main guy in this band, which is in fact lead by the ex-Synergy drummer Ronny Milianowicz and Nation's former guitarist Johhny Ohlin. This means that with this one you are not likely to hear any ultra-fast and super-technical passages in the vein of Luca Turilli. What you will hear - will be the standard, somewhat melodic, mid-weighted and not too pushy power metal with all the natural consequences. Despite the utter unoriginality, the musicians did manage to get the good songs right ('Time Will Tell', 'Pouring Rain', 'Holy War', 'Don't Forget'). Having skillfully mixed them together with the more mediocre numbers, at the output nozzle the guys got an entirely acceptable, solid album, the one which you may have expected from seasoned musicians of the second echelon (Nation, Treasure Land, Stormwind). Never making it to the first guild, the boys did quite well for their current league. Additional guest appearances by such masters as Tommy Newton and Tobias Sammet need not be introduced. So What they should have done though is thrown away half of the material shortening it down to the size of a mini-LP and get a fiver for that one, but as things are now it is only a three. (Fireball)

Century Media/FONO
swedish power

Good news from the Swedish metallic beau monde. The famous producer and sound-engineer Fredrik Nordstrom, who became a loving and caring father to the works of the creme de la creme of the Swedish steel-making shop (In Fames, Hammerfall, Dark Tranquillity, to name a few) has unexpectedly got round to trying his hand and talent in guitar playing and composition - in other words, forming a band of his own. And so it was written and so it was done, the studio session was obviously not a problem, and when it comes to talented musicians, the percentage of those per capita in Sweden is probably more than that of football fans in Brazil. The lineup was enforced by Greek guitarist Gus G and the legendary King Diamond drummer Snowy Shaw. Their first CD was gladly embraced by both the critics and fans and the "young" was invited to the world-famous Wacken Open Air. The second album is the same solid quality work in the best Swedish traditions, and while everything is pretty much clear with the sound (guess whose arse was seated behind the console during the mixing?), the musical material itself has turned out to be heaps better than one could of expected. The first half of the CD consists of powerful and aggressive numbers with grim melodies and battle-like choruses ("Break the Chains", "Evilized", "By My Side") without the unnecessary pathos and mawkishness. The second and the more commercialized part starts with the beautiful and romantic ballad of "Forevermore", followed by "Children of the Night", "Live a Lie", and "The End" the sound of which would send a sympathetic tear down the listeners cheek - behind the dense power-metal sound we could easily discern the melodic turns of the great amorists of Europe - the founding fathers of everything which is now known as Swedish Metal. Now that's what I call the bonds of time. (Fireball)

Dawn Of Forever
MTM Music/CD-Maximum
melodic hard rock

Germany is a very strange country! Here even those small club bands, who'd pay for recording out of their own pocket, still sound pretty damn well, and if - at that - they are good at writing music, they'd instantaneously sign a decent deal and continue living off their favorite trade without having to worry about a piece of bread, Ludwig copper, and Marshall amps. This, my friends, is only possible because this country does have a school and continuity, especially in melodic metal. With Faro here we have pretty much the same case. Everything is quite traditional: energetic (but not aggressive) fast numbers ("Living In Extremes", "I Am What I Am", "You're On the Run"), lyrical but not "snotty" ballads ("Coast To Coast", "Long Way Home"), which do not necessarily make 100% hits, but are still bright and easily memorable songs. On the whole the CD presents some very good quality material, framed into up to date and (imho) popish arrangements. The music does lack in guts and drive (I mean this is metal after all), however the charismatic and powerful vocals of the Sri-Lankan singer named Chity Somapala combined with top-class melodies makes this debut an event worth noticing. (Fireball)

Frontiers Records / CD-Maximum
soft rock
The obvious hints to some progressiveness and maybe even exceptionality of the band's music, rendered on their official site, are absolutely groundless. Facts: semi-acoustic music with clean guitar sound, calm and somewhat phlegmatic melodies, an abundance of instrumental pieces and the overall compositional load of the record (so far the only one in the band's roster), often also referred to as conceptualism - is not progressive quite yet. Moreover, the musical material of this act is quite traditional. Their melodies are those in the air, while their harmonies are beautiful but not new. The only thing which is original about Green is that they are from Italy, where this type of music is somewhat out of favor. Their style reminds more of the Brits, some post-Floyd contemplations of common man and the world around him, filled with no less common sounds, such as birds, clocks ticking, sea waves, etc. In short if you like Pink Floyd and still possess some tolerance you will like this album like I did. (Fireball)

The Early Years
Frontiers Records / CD-Maximum

One, two, three, four - go! Nice and smooth! Remember STYX, or early Def Leppard or Europe? This one is pretty much the same. Easy choruses, plastic drums, thin guitars, and - if you close your eyes, you'll definitely also see a bunch of sweet curly-haired dudes in spandex pants and short jackets. There was a time when the hearts of pretty maidens could only be won that way. Nostalgia. The arrangements and melodies seem outfashioned, but wait a second - when was this recorded? 1988! This demo which went out in a miserably small number of copies was once priced by the fans at as much as 955 US dollars! Now the material has been purged, re-mastered and released with two regular and one Japanese bonus for all the lovers of sugar-sweet hard rock. (Fireball)

Songs in the Key of Rock
Frontiers Records / CD-Maximum
hard rock

Way to go, Hughes, way to go! The title says it all just like the good old days. And what did he have to do? Nothing, aside from being born in Britain in 1952 and getting a position of staff bassist/singer in Deep Purple in 1973. That's it. This is not something you could forget and gamble or drink away. A 70ies message to the new millennium! Having closed down all of his funk, soul, and other silly (in the opinion of quite a few fans) experiments, Hughes turned back to the music which he once made, and which once made him. The basis is the almost-forgotten formula: the loud and proud guitar riffs and the never aging "voice of rock" cast inside of them. Yes, these are the echoes of DP's "Into the Fire" and You Fool No One" and Rainbow's "No Time To Lose" - the all-time classics, which in the thoughts of the die-hard-rock fans (whom the album is primarily is addressed to) are definitely worth looking up to. This is exactly why Hughes is obviously not afraid of any copycat accusations, and is willingly mixing the new stuff with the good ole stuff, which is like a 100 years old. Listen to the ending of the "Higher Places" - this is none other than late-era Beatles. There is one disadvantage to this record though - what Glenn has forgotten is that this kind of music cannot run for more than 40 minutes (the unspoken rule of the 70ies) - this one would have been a lot better without all of them "nothing-special" songs. (Fireball)

Regno Abyssos
Idolater Records
death metal
It's all very well and good, but I mean the recording quality or lack thereof. I do understand that this was recorded on a home computer, and that any demands are not applicable, but still I am of the strong opinion that the guy could have at least spent some more time on finding better drum samples. Basically the idea that was put into the work is quite clear, however the implementation leaves way too much to be desired. But alas, let us not focus our attention on this sad fact anymore, the record is done and out, so let's just forget about it. Musically the CD is a lot more interesting: beaten and torn rhythms in the key of late Death, quite complex compositional structuring, excellent vocals work, and the utterly stunning and brilliantly performed guitar parts. Again all of this goes against the poor sound. Truly, it is not just enough to perform the music well, you have to get the presentation right as well, and that's something Mr. Chavez has yet to accomplish. Well, let us hope that someday Idolater will get a chance in some Morrisound Studios or what not, and we will be able to appreciate his undoubted talent to its full extent. (Troll)

Under a Savage Sky
Cult Metal Classics/CD-Maximum
old school hard

Time stopped for Jack Starr way back 20 years ago, when he was forced to leave Virgin Steele, and started the life of a creative bachelor. I guess everyone pretty much knows the adventures the Virgin Steele-ship had to go through led by DeFace, while Jack decided to stay in the fairway of primitive heavy-rock and proceeded along this route through time and generations. In the beginning there was a formation with a modest name of Burning Starr, then out of its ruins rose the temple of ancient metal gods worshippers - Guardians of the Flames - an obvious reference to one of Virgin Steele's early hits. I am positive that every one of us have their first weather-beaten leather jacket hanging proudly somewhere in the back of their wardrobe. Neither fashion, nor moth has taken effect on it. You look at it and something warm rises within your heart. Something you won't really put on to go out anymore, but would never throw away either - this is where it all started. Same with this album - absolutely self-sufficient, profoundly old-fashioned, and "way too classic". The archaic sound here, by the way, does not cause any irritation - an unfortunate case with way too many artists who try to feed off the fan nostalgia. The mixing is quite professional, all of the instruments are exactly where they are supposed to be and Starr's sincere guitar is the main advantage here. Well, the mammoths of rock at their finest - this will always find its listener. (Fireball)

Storm OF Hateness
death metal

Well erm not really I don't like lashing out at the "young and aspiring" and try my best not to do that without reason, but I man everything should have its boundaries. And the poverty of musical ideas too. Moreover these particular boundaries must be kept locked, or else we gonna get something like this CD. In fact the monotony and primitivism of the guitar riffs on this one would make the likes of Korrozia Metalla and some early punks of the Gonads era go green with envy. Hell, compared to Possession, even the Exploited would sound like a bunch of Blackmores and Malmsteens. The saddest thing about the whole deal is that say the singer is really not that bad, but the music itself This is like some cheap American action flick - it's too boring to watch because you know way ahead what the next phrase and scene are going to sound and look like. (Troll)

Diary In Black
heavy power

So, which of you, folks, do not like Helloween? These living classics, the walking legend, the godfathers etc., etc. I mean, who would have enough nerve to object? Well, some people make excellent use out of this. Take Rawhead Rexx for instance, these guys have figured that there won't be too many people who'd accuse them of looking up to the best of the best of modern-day metal and so here we go with the band's second album "Diary in Black". The basis here is the 90ies model - for lack of a better word - Helloween of the Grapow-Derris period with juicy and massive sound, especially in the low-band, coupled with true Teutonic choirs (something which the aforementioned classics never exploited, I must notice). This already makes it traditional, rather than ripping-off. However the overall impression of the CD, due to the absence of real hits, is still not more than three out of five. And when you work in the format of rail-like iron straightforwardness, there is no going anywhere far if you don't have hits. This ain't no prog, nor grind, dude, where you got different priorities (Fireball)

1. Sign of the Times
2. Silent Scream
3. The Rule of Right
Lion Music/CD-Maximum
neo classic melodic metal

I am positive that very few of our respectable readers have ever heard the name, so it is my honor to introduce the man to the Russian melomaniac - everybody please welcome the Japanese genius-instrumentalist and composer Kelly Simmonz. After a decade of session career, Simmonz has finally come round to making a work of his own, and forming an essentially one-man band under the tag of Blind Faith, released in 1998 his critically acclaimed debut record called "Sign of Times". His next to works, namely "Silent Scream" and "Rule of Right" have also become quite popular with the local fans, and in 2002 Lion Music made all the three records available to the rest of the world. Now, let us turn our ears to catering our tastes with those musical sushi of the Samurai chef. The very first album shoots out with a whole salvo of compositions that impress with a variety of melodies and moods. The fast-paced "Eternal Flame", a melodic ballad called "Still", a monumental "King of the Castle", which combines hard riffing, thrash drive, m neo-classical passages, a virtuoso acoustic instrumental of "Solitude", the title-track "Blind-Faith" that comes in a strange clavier version - all of these numbers point to Simmonz's talent and more importantly his musical individuality. On the second album Kelly expands his style yet further, blatantly decorating it with sugar-sweet melodic likes of Take That ("Girl I'll Give My Love for You"), modern samples ("Time"), and Spanish guitar inserts. Simmonz is a daring experimentalist who at the same time never loses his sense of good taste. The compositional center of the record focuses on the epic and grandiose "Paradise Lost" which is an essence yet another remake of the famous "Kashmir" but a bloody good one. The third CD is a step forward in quality (this impression is growing even stronger when you hear the replayed numbers from the first album, such as "Still" and "King of the Castle" in the more pronounced and professional versions) and the continuation of stylistic self-development. The instrumental "Desperado" is a small masterpiece, considering the fact that Kelly is unlikely to be familiar with the works of our national pride - Mr. Victor Zinchuck - sounds too much familiar. The sound becomes much vaster, the arrangements - richer, but when it comes to originality this one subdues to its predecessors. The eternal dialectics of modern music: when you start gaining in the skill, funds, and number of fans, you ultimately lose in the brevity and naturalness of the early works, when you were still looking for your own SELF and the true creative spirit. I might be mistaken but it seems like the third album has a lot more predictability and a lot less search. While the English pronunciation of maestro Kelly has definitely improved quite a bit. Now to conclude on this Japanese trilogy. Not being an innovator, Kelly is good at combining guitar neo-classics with hard-rock, and the especially popular now in Japan melodic metal a-la Ten and Royal Hunt. As for me personally, I am not the one to kick the dead lion, however I cannot but notice that the musical ability and the undoubted potential of this talented Japanese is much better than the latest work of - yes, indeed, - Yngwie Malmsteen and a multitude of other famed Western masters. (Fireball)

Letter To God
MTM Music/CD-Maximum
melodic hard

Yet another comeback by yet more heroes of the 80ies. Well, maybe not exactly heroes but we definitely could call XYZ the loyal soldiers of the American hard-rock scene. Back in the day they were pulled out of the bars and watering halls onto the big scene by none other than Mr. Don Dokken himself, and their debut 1989 record now occupies a well-deserved place in the hall of fame of the LA melodic hard-n-heavy. So what do we have for 2003? The now grown, and slightly overlazed rockers, who'd rather talk about something else than chicks, and booze, and stuff. The heartfelt ballads (such as "Deny", "Am I Asking", and "Tell Me") are obviously better than the more upbeat stuff, the rock'n'roll drive has been practically zeroed, and the search for the essence of human existence in the lyrics is serious and profound. This also partly reminds of the more recent Gotthard works. All of this is no coincidence, this album really could not have turned out joyful or merry. While the CD was still in the making, the leader of the band and the author of the larger part of their material Terry Ilous buried his father and his son. Sad but true. (Fireball)


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