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

5/5
ARK STORM
Beginning Of The New Legend
2003 / 2004
NTS / CD-Maximum
neoclassical power metal
A new star is rising in the Japanese music sky. And what's great is that this star managed to reach the European sky as well. While the relatively brand new Japanese legend Concerto Moon shines brightly only in Japan, Ark Strong turned the wheel of fortune all the way and tried to get noticed outside of their homeland. What can we say about the music? Right from the very beginning of the 1980s heavy metal the Japanese audience gave its outmost respect to a Swedish guitar god. Almost a decade later they paid him off with all the due respect. However, local music styles and keyboard virtuoso from Denmark leading the band called Royal Hunt also got mixed in the musical storm. As a result you get an album full of mighty power metal with thundering keyboards and screaming guitars. The album is all about positive things and feelings, which is a huge step forward from an enormous camp of Yngwie followers. And the final word here is - such albums broaden the boundaries of metal music! (Dead Ripper)

5/5
AYREON
The Final Experiment
1995 / 2004
A. A. Lucassen / Irond
progressive metal
Let's make a stand here - the album can easily be called the one that in 1995 started the progressive metal movement in the way we are familiar with nowadays. The album is the concept one based on the story about blind minstrel Ayreon who lived in the VI century and told the story of the human civilization apocalypse back in the XX century. And though the story is capable to cause emotional outbursts from anyone the most striking moment of the album was not even the inclusion of various guest musicians from Golden Earring, Kingdom Come, Elegy and Gorefest but the music itself. It is just impossible to explain how the ex-member of pure hard rock band Vengeance happened to create an album mixing art rock, heavy metal, death metal and even acoustic parts. Moreover, all those genres are not thrown one against another but ideally fit into the fairytale story of the album. Throughout the whole album you get the impression of evidencing all of the events. That's how totally forgotten musician Arjen Anthony Lucassen became a legend overnight and the inventor of the progressive metal style of music. P.S. One thing to think about - do you agree that the beginning of "Listen To The Waves" reminds of the beginning of "She's Too Tough" from Def Leppard's "Retro Active" (1993)? (Dead Ripper)

4/5
AYREON
Actual Fantasy
1996 / 2004
A. A. Lucassen / Irond
progressive metal
After such a monumental output like "The Final Experiment" any musician could have folded for a while but not Arjen Anthony Lucassen. A year later he managed to release a brand new album called "Actual Fantasy". And once again he invited several musicians from other bands. But this time the album turned out to be less interesting and grandiose. The problem was also in the fact that most of guest musicians were from local Dutch bands like Wicked Sensation, Kayak and Finch. However, the disc cannot be considered to be that bad; it just takes more than one year to overcome a masterpiece like "The Final Experiment". In general, the album mixed rock, symphonic and psychedelic moments. And maybe some hard rock things like in songs "The Stranger From Within" and "Beyond The Last Horizon". The album is just a break before the next attack. P.S. The Russian edition includes two songs that originally came out only on the single "The Stranger From Within" and the Japanese version, in particular, "The Dawn Of Man" and "The Stranger From Within" (radio edit). (Dead Ripper)

5/5
AYREON
Into The Electric Castle
1998 / 2004
A. A. Lucassen / Irond
progressive metal

Two years after the average release "Actual Fantasy" Dutch progressive mastermind Arjen Anthony Lucassen entered the rock scene with a brand new rock opera. This time he decided to distance himself from global ecological problems and dive into the world of fantasy by generating a fairytale about adventures of three characters who found themselves in a strange time conditions with the only escape. They are to embark on a journey of finding an electric castle, from which the return to appropriate timing is possible for them all. Thus the double album tells this story. Traditionally the album is filled up with guests from Threshold, Kayak, Within Temptation and even an outstanding musician, Fish from Marillion. Musicians did their best; the album became a true successor of "The Final Experiment" although the majority of fans considered it to be even better. Again Arjen perfectly mixed hard rock, art rock, heavy metal and symphonic passages. The album established Arjen as the head of the progressive metal Olympus and resurrected the long-forgotten genre of rock operas among metal bands. (Dead Ripper)

5/5
AYREON
Universal Migrator I & 2
2000 / 2004
A. A. Lucassen / Irond
progressive metal
Two years gone again and the press got hold of the information that Arjen Anthony Lucassen is breeding a new masterpiece. But nobody could even think that such a magnum opus as "Into The Electric Castle" could be outperformed. It was! Arjen created a story about a character travelling through time and space. And not only into 5000 year B.C. but to the time when no living soul had an idea of the planet Earth. The album was thoughtfully divided into two separate parts. One turned out to be extremely psychedelic and atmospheric involving musicians from Tiamat, Kayak, Threshold, Rocket Scientists and Arena. The second one unified progressive and symphonic metal styles and featured guests from Iron Maiden, Helloween, Primal Fear, Symphony X, Rhapsody and Stratovarius. What's more interesting is that singers performed in styles that their bands are unlikely to ever dare to explore except maybe for Symphony X. And one more surprise - two songs on the first part feature female vocals. But do not imagine Doro or Sabina Classen of Holy Moses! This is the real female voice perfectly matching the musical style. Should we say that the album is highly recommended for all fans of heavy metal without exceptions? The pure masterpiece of all times. (Dead Ripper)

5/5
AYREON
The Human Education
2004
A. A. Lucassen / Irond
progressive metal
After the triumphant march of space-based Star One project and the following glorious mini-tour the Dutch progressive genius returned to his heavily missed Ayreon concept. Seems like this time Arjen decided to take a little break from space themes and decided to tell a story of a normal human being who lived an ordinary life until one day fell into coma under the pressure of various daily events. Of course, he finally gained consciousness and came back to norm. The number of guest musicians surely reduced from the times of "Universal Migrator" but those left did their best and helped create a new masterpiece. However, the album turned out to be more psychedelic and art rocking. We can possibly claim that this disc is the kind of "Actual Fantasy" but in the more developed and advanced form. Moreover, the album features several easy-to-remember tracks like "Day Sixteen: Loser" rather than 10-minute epics from previous releases. In short, the release once again proves that Arjen's talent is enough to satisfy listeners for many more years to come. P.S. Unfortunately, the Russian edition does not feature the DVD from the limited European pressing. (Dead Ripper)

3/5
BATTLEROAR
Battleroar
2003
Omicron Music
epic/battle metal
What is the securing factor of success in epic/battle metal? First and foremost it is a good-quality CD cover artwork. That, in particular, presupposes a good deal of broken swords, skulls, spears, or at least poleaxes. At that it must be requested from the artist in charge to depict the above-mentioned items as primitively as possible. Moreover it is considered especially true if you make the artwork yourself, no matter how clumsy it is going to look. The singer can sing well, but it is absolutely unnecessary for the listener to know that. On the CD the lead voice must sound unnatural and ridiculous. A juicy and thick sound is absolutely unacceptable. The drier and simpler the instruments sound the better. The clanking of the cymbals sounding like rusted cattle and the speaker-resonating basses are the raison detre for any true metal-warrior. Words such as "sword", "blood", "glory" and "death" must be included into the lyrics of each and every song, possibly at random. The CD-inlay shall contain photos of the band heroically posing with swords and suchlike. This last aspect is unfortunately something that these Greek gladiators are missing. But besides that the rest of the album could serve a perfect text book for all amateur battle-metallers out there. In all a funny CD in the vein of Sacred Steel with influences from Iron Maiden, Manilla Road and Omen. Could serve as a temporary local mood-raiser. (Leathermaniac)

4/5
BOWES & MORLEY
Mo's Barbeque
2004
Frontiers / CD-Maximum
melodic hard rock
Pretty slamming album of two outsiders and former members of the British legend Thunder. The two united forces to create a joint music venture and produced this impressing (second) album. Nowadays you always hear some melancholic sounds and lyrics in almost every hard rock album. Here the situation is totally different. Everything sounds simple and even pop at times. The two musicians are not shy around piano and acoustic guitar passages, by the way. However, the cover version of Stevie Wonder's "Living For The City" is not a top-notch track at all; original songs are a way better though belong to the same musical style. The album also has a strong bluesy feeling, which certainly puts it aside from the alma mater of two virtuosos. (Dead Ripper)

3-/5
BRITNY FOX
Springhead Motorshark
2003
Spitfire Records
hard rock
The eternal repeaters from Britny Fox, who spent the past two decades in the behemoth shadow of Cinderella without any hope of coming out of the dark, have once again strained their jaded forces and once again broke the winds with something which never went further from a flash in a frying pan. Their first pseudo-hit "Girlschool", released back in 1988, a pale simile of the Cinderella mega-kill machine, still remains a monument to meager secondary rock-n-roll, which has predetermined their place in the ranks of American legends for many years ahead: exactly one step behind. So what do we have here today? Well, not surprisingly, it is the same old scarcely touched with fashionable influences and generously cliched American hard rock, which badly misses a face of its own as well as something that the Americans themselves refer to as "balls". I mean, it is about the right riffs, and the required amount of heaviness, and a certain deal of ballads, still it just wouldnt work, no matter how hard you try! Balls are something which only impede a good dancer, as for a true rock-n-roller Sad, very sad! (Fireball)

2+/5
DISARMONIA MUNDI
Fragments Of D-Generation
2004
Scarlet Records / CD-Maximum
non-melodic melodic death
When I was listening to the first few songs off Italias Disarmonia Mundi latest opus, I somehow had the impression that I was listening to Squealer who had suddenly gotten up to playing something in the vein of Soilwork (by the way, the vocal parties on the CD are sung by Soilworks mouth Bjorn "Speed" Strid). Anticipating a nice and relaxing pastime I made myself comfortable and prepared to behold track #3. But as the song was proceeding my attention started somehow getting distracted from the raging sounds generously poured from the speakers. By track #5 I caught myself thinking that it has been a long while since I last heard the patriarchs of the melodic-death metal movement, namely Dark Tranquillity and In Flames. When track #7 came in, I was yawning full-swing and looking for something classic, and as Id gotten to track #9 I was astonished to find that the sonic-production apparatus is still occupied by the CD under review thus preventing me from inserting DTs Haven into the spinner. Then, leaving track #10 to the conscience of its creators, I finally got rid of the alien object in the player and sank into the charming atmosphere of Dark Tranquillity, which I strongly suggest you do too. (Leathermaniac)

4-/5
DRASTIQUE
Pleasureligion
2004
Masterpiece Distribution / CD-Maximum
dark doom / progressive
"Potent (laxative)": read my French-English dictionary and rightly so, I must say. I mean, if we speak figuratively, then this music does have a certain laxative effect to it. Although, not in the direct meaning of the word (which would better suit the advocates of gore-grind culture), but more on the emotional, mental level, purging your brains and turning your senses inside out. Hard to believe? Well, you listen to what Chris Buchman and his epileptic girlfriend did to the schlager of angelic early 90ies pop-songstress Sandra "Maria Magdalena": I mean an apocalypse of that magnitude would be the worst nightmare of such notorious figure as Billy Milano! By the way, this cover is probably the craziest song on the entire record. The rest of its mostly modest-tempo, but expressive numbers with ever-esoteric contents and variable shape, combining such styles as death, doom, and progressive If anyone out there is expecting to add black metal to the list, look some place else not on this CD. No matter how much youd want it. This music is about other orientation points and horizons.(Fireball)

3/5
ECLIPSE
Second To None
2004
Frontiers / CD-Maximum
melodic hard rock
The second album of Swedish newcomers. Originally the former drummer of Yngwie Malmsteen, who worked with maestro on the album with the band's title, was planned to join the guys but failed due to hearing problems. But Eclipse invited another Yngwie's partner in the form of keyboard player Mats Olausson. But all in vain! Well, musicians are good, melodies are catchy but the main problem here is the total absence of musical balance resulting in unstable rhythm and tracks backgrounds. The music always runs from punk to hard rock and somewhere else. Only "Second To None" and "Road To Forever" are more or less listenable on the whole album. Seems like the once-mighty Swedish scene totally lost its heroes, or not? What a shame! (Dead Ripper)

2/5
FALL OF EMPYREAN
Anhedonia
2002 / 2004
Fall Of Empyrean / CD-Maximum
underground doom
Albums like that are normally said to be 10 years late. In fact, the material presented on "Anhedonia" brings us back to 1993-1994 the era of doom metal prosperity. Had it not been for CD-Maximum, I am positive we would have never known of the existence of Fall Of Empyrean. In the meantime this band has been around since 1999 and is based in Phoenix, AZ. "Anhedonia" is the bands debut work (original release in 2002). Back in the day this self-produced EP was sent our to 25 different record-labels, but none of them showed any interest in releasing it. Today in 2004, much thanks to the efforts of CDM, the EP backed up with four extra tracks off the 2001 demo was released here in Russia. "Anhedonia" is in strict adherence to all the genre laws and contains your traditional doom survival tool-kit: piano intros, glottoral roar, viscous riffs, background keyboards, acoustic fragments and songs that a re 7+ minutes in length. A cult piece of music, which, due to its current rarity, could have found some response with the local listener, had it not been for one big fat but that is banal monotony and one-sidedness. Anything beyond track #3 is not recommended. (Leathermaniac)

3+/5
HEIMDALL
Hard As Iron
2003
Scarlet Records
heavy power
Heimdall is a sound middleweight of the large Apennine heavy-metal team, whose trophy-list numbers already four nice, but nothing-to-get-excited-about albums, which are hard, raw-sounding, mid-paced, and somewhat stomping, which betrays away their being influenced by the neighboring German athletes. Armor-crushing hits are not something the album can brag about, however the melodies and song-structuring are diverse and quite interesting, and one would not have an impression of listening to one and the same track for half an hour. As the CD crosses its second half it becomes even more interesting, and a undemanding listener would be prized with a total of three classy tracks, namely: "Cold", "The Empreror", and "Black Heaven", whose composition and arrangement would make one take a much closer look onto this work.(Fireball)

4/5
HEKATE
Ten Years Of Endurance
2003 / 2004
Prophecy Productions / CD-Maximum
atmospheric folk
A jubilee release to celebrate the 10th anniversary. Looks like the album is full of rare and unreleased tracks from the decade. The most surprising moment is that out of 15 songs only six feature vocal lines, the rest are pure (mostly) instrumentals. Notice that there is nothing on the album like innovative guitar passages or unstoppable drumming. This is the pure folk music thoroughly mixed with atmospheric psychedelic moments in the style of Pink Floyd. What is really interesting is that the band is not afraid of its native German language rapping and pronouncing the whole monologues in it. It will take you a while to get into such music. Have time for it? Try out! (Dead Ripper)

4/5
MADOG
Fairytales Of Darkness
2002 / 2004
Sound Riot / CD-Maximum
Heavy Speed Power
Welcome to todays "Bedtime Stories". Our todays program will be dedicated to Fairytales of Darkness. Our guides around this freak puppet show will be the somewhat goblin-looking but very friendly-natured characters of the Austrian Madog formation. Together with them we are going on a thrilling journey into the mysterious world of nightmares, strange transformations, and wonderful discoveries. What Madog do somehow reminded me of the underground heroes of German steel-rolling industry under the name of Reactor. Club-level heavy speed power, characteristic of raw sound, not-so-sound vocals, and simple, but easily recognizable melodies. At times youd think of Scanner or Blind Guardian. On the upside of the album are definitely the creative approach and a good cover-artwork. I mean just look at this demonic puppeteer on the cover and the red-gleaming eyes of killer-puppets. The song "The Hunter", in my opinion, is the diamond of this CD and could potentially claim the leading slots in the hit-parades. A sound work for all the lovers of Central European, and especially, German metal. (Leathermaniac)

5/5
MICHAEL MONROE
Nights Are So Long
1987 / 2004
Warner Finland
hard rock'n'roll
Due to the Finnish rise of popularity of Hanoi Rocks caused by the outstanding brand new release "Twelve Shots On The Rocks" the local office of "Warner Music" re-issued the rare debut solo album of Michael Monroe recorded right after the Hanoi Rocks split-up back in the mid-1980s. The album somehow reminds of the latest solo album of Michael since it consists of mostly covers of various bands like Heavy Metal Kids, Dead Boys, MC5, Johnny Thunders and several original tracks. Just imagine that such an album was recorded right after Michael's close friend Razzle died in the car crash and the band he had so much hopes for faded away! You cannot even sense the feeling of depression in music! Maybe only a bit of it in the song "Can't Go Home Again". The rest oh, just listen to "She's No Angel" or "Keep It Up" and you'll know what I mean. At the same time this is a pure rock'n'roll record that has nothing to do with heavy metal. And there's huge gap left by the lack of such drilling and up-tempo albums nowadaways. (Dead Ripper)

5/5
SHAKRA
Rising
2003 / 2004
Shakra / CD-Maximum
melodic hard rock
Another Swiss legend. Switzerland is mighty famous worldwide for breeding such original bands as Krokus and Gotthard. But a brand new generation is coming up. In fact Shakra is what Gotthard could have become if they had not altered their sound to a more mellow direction back in 1997. All songs of the album are powerful and can bring down any listener with their roaring energy and catchy riffs. Of course, every once in a while you hear Bon Jovi influences in the music but totally concentrating on the Americans classic period. Ballads of Shakra are awesome as well. For instance, "I Will Be There" could have easily fit into the wave of any radio station but to tell the truth up-tempo tracks turn out to be much stronger. And if you consider that this is their fourth album the high potential is obvious. A must for a hard rock fan to check out! (Dead Ripper)

3/5
SHIVA
Desert Dreams
2003 / 2004
MTM Music / CD-Maximum
hard rock
Several years gone and this talented Swedish duo once again hit the music scene with the brand new album. After an unbelievably strong debut release, in which the band managed to mix melodic lines of Europe with pop stylishness of Roxette, they had to deliver a grand statement. And failed to do it! The album is as average as it can be, critics silent. Well, some melodic lines are still here but the whole music started turning towards grunge-fueled hard rock, which is a major disappointment. The girl singer with absolutely unique and individual voice threw it through samples and spoiled even the already-dumped picture. A huge sign of trouble after the generous first album. (Dead Ripper)

5/5
SKYLARK
Wings
2004
Scarlet Records
melodic speed
The lovers of Italian metal scene know to well about the creative crisis the speedy-winged lark was living through the past several years. And of course all the more anticipating they were getting about the bands latest piece of work: would they get stuck for good, or would they have enough talent and strength to fly to the once conquered heights of sophisticated melodism and crystal-clear sound. And to pay due to Eddie Antonini and his band, they did find a way out with grace and sharpness worthy of all the praise in this world. Having got rid of everything that was excessive (talking of Michael Angelo here!): that is to say long and soulless passages, excessive strain, and yawn-rending composite structure that were the result of that, the bands music has all but reached the absolute of form and contents and appears renewed, fresh, and interesting once again, without losing the trademark Skylark features, such as melodism and virtuoso-play. The songs have become much more tender, lighter, and warmer, as if the past mask of steel inpenetratability was finally blessed with a natural human smile. A smile of he who has won the greatest struggles of all the struggle within. (Fireball)

5/5
TAKARA
Eternal Faith
1993/2002 / 2004
Lion Music / Irond
melodic hard rock
One of endless projects of former Yngwie Malmsteen singer Jeff Scott Soto. And probably the best one ever! In spite of the fact that most of the songs were originally demo recordings and were not planned for public release the album turned out to be a sensation. It's quite a rare thing to hear such heart-warming melodies from an American guitarist, this time Neal Grusky! Without any guitar virtuosity and obsession Neal delivers goods on his guitar that even a professional musician has troubles with. Keyboards played by Jeff and backing vocals perfectly match the melodic approach. Another rare peculiarity of the album is the awesome sound spreading, which probably depends on the studio where songs were recorded. Tracks like "Spotlight", "Don't Walk Away", "Just Like Yesterday", "Fallen Angel" and "Colors Fade" can easily reach the depth of the heart of any hard rock fan. The album can be the ultimate bible for music newcomers - the beauty of melodies is much more important that crazy speed and ideal knowledge of the guitar neck. (Dead Ripper)

5/5
TAKARA
Taste Of Heaven
1995/2002 / 2004
Lion Music / Irond
melodic hard rock
The second album involving former Yngwie Malmsteen shouter Jeff Scott Soto. This time musicians managed to get more involved with the recording quality and songs themselves and that's how the album turned out to be ten times stronger than the debut one. At the same time the awesome sound spreading and unrepeatable melodic approach remained the same. The album also includes some experimental moments like the keyboard intro to "Your Love" and a-cappella beginning of "December". Up-tempo songs are here as well in the form of the title track and "Save Me". You want a beautiful ballad? You got it with "Last Mistake"! But the outmost surprise comes in the end with two acoustic tracks "Your Love" (entitled "Again Your Love Is Mine") and "Restless Heart". And those acoustic versions are not worse than their electric originals. More! They are ten times better! Not every band is capable to deliver a follow-up like this. (Dead Ripper)

5/5
TAKARA
Blind In Paradise
1998/2002 / 2004
Lion Music / Irond
melodic hard rock
Third strike of the amazing American band. How do they do it? This time they had a new member in totally unknown but ace-in-the-hole keyboard player Eric Ragno who managed to make incredible changes in the music of Takara. The keyboard intro to the first track "Take You Down" is the pure masterpiece introducing a listener to the magic world of hard rock music. Moreover, this time Jeff Scott Soto did his best in terms of both vocals and lyrics. Backing and choir vocals improved even more and showed extreme progress from the times of previous two albums. Songs like "Fly 2 Your Arms", "Time Waits 4 No One", "Blind In Paradise" and "No Love's Enough" are total hard rock classics. The number of ballads increased as well - "Love Is Gone", "Say U'll Stay" and "Don't Wanna Be Alone". The last one even features the string instrument, the final part is played on the violin. Drop the cover-version of Van Halen "Dance The Night Away" and a-cappella "Always Be Mine" into the fold and you get the best album of Takara, in particular, and best melodic rock album ever! (Dead Ripper)

5/5
TAKARA
Eternity (The Best 93-98)
1999/2002 / 2004
Lion Music / Irond
melodic hard rock
If you never head this band this collection is the perfect start. It can easily be called the best collection of a rock artist ever. The compilation truly features the best tracks from three albums involving legendary singer Jeff Scott Soto. However, other musicians are just as good. You get amazing guitar passages and solos from guitarist Neal Grusky and charming keyboard works of Eric Ragno on tracks like "Take You Down", "Blind In Paradise" and "Say U'll Stay". Due to the fact that the compilation came out when it was very hard to get Takara albums anywhere it included a special present for fans in the form of two rare acoustic tracks "Restless Heart" and "Your Love" that originally came out only on the American release of "Taste Of Heaven". It's just a wonder that the L.A. scene stone dead in the 1990s managed to give the birth to this outstanding band that overcomes most of European melodic hard rock bands. The album can be recommended to all the people wishing to get an idea what melodic hard rock music is all about. But die-hard fans better keep their hands off the album - it features nothing special after the re-issue of all studio albums. (Dead Ripper)

5/5
U.D.O.
Animal
House Breaker / CD-Maximum
1987 / 2004
hard rock
The debut album of Udo Dirkschneider after he left Accept back in the 1980s. And even 20 years later the release is still the classic! Even the intro alone is enough to understand how the album could be ahead of its time - just imagine that at that time no heavy metal band released albums starting with mysterious spoken intro. Generally speaking, the album is much more up-tempo and catchy than a couple of releases done before the breakup took place. Still all of the songs were written by Udo and his former colleagues. Sources from those years say Udo's voice does not fit into ballads wrong! Listen to "In The Darkness". Speaking of up-tempos the album is loaded with them - "Animal House", "Go Back To Hell", "We Want It Loud", "Coming Home"Lyrics vary from serious ("They Want War") to hooking ("Hot Tonight"). And note that the song hailed on the album cover, "Lay Down The Law", is extremely average. The album was the total comeback of this unique and talented singer! (Dead Ripper)

5/5
U.D.O.
Mean Machine
1988 / 2004
Breaker / CD-Maximum
melodic hard rock
The second release of ex-Accept singer Udo Dirkschneider was a full-scale progress in comparison with the debut album. In fact, this is the very same music with unique singer, talented musicians and bombastic songs. And if on the album "Animal House" you could have easily found some elements of the singer's former band, this album marked the sound transition more to the typical German heavy metal in terms of both songwriting and melodies. The album starts with the powerful "Don't Look Back", which is the best opening point for the groundbreaking release. The title track, "Mean Machine" and "Lost Passion" are capable to surprise anyone with the perfect solidifying of melody and energy. It it's not enough for you listen to "Sweet Little Child" that Udo dedicated to his little daughter. And the final surprise comes up in the end with the track called "Still In Love With You". That's the one-minute long song starting far away and turning into the unbearable banging. A hell of the album after "Animal House"! (Dead Ripper)

5/5
U.D.O.
Faceless World
1990 / 2004
Breaker / CD-Maximum
melodic hard rock
The third solo album of Udo Dirkscheider's band. The music strangely turns out into something more melodic. But nothing like pop! It's just everything sounds more rock'n'roll, sometimes less fast but much more catchy and memorable than on the first two records. Songs like "Heart Of Gold", "System Of Life" and "Stranger" perfectly reflect those slight but visible changes. At the same time "Living On A Frontline" is the total copy of Accept "Living For Tonite". At the same time the album contains typical U.D.O. elements in songs, in particular, balladesque "Unspoken Words" and crazily up-tempoed "Can't Get Enough". Problematic lyrics also remained the same touching upon subjects like survival in the modern world, political corruption and teenage problems. The album is totally worth belonging to the collection of any German heavy metal fan. (Dead Ripper)

3/5
U.D.O.
Holy
1999 / 2004
Breaker / CD-Maximum
melodic power metal

The album marked the 2/5 change of the line-up and 1/5 of that change still remains unknown. It caused a lot of questions, on which Udo himself refuses to answer, "Who is that mysterious 'Guess Who' drummer?" Frankly speaking, it is maybe better not to know his name for he totally failed to fit into the band's style. The album is also pretty average with no special moments. Even the title track "Holy" that is still in heavy circulation at live shows brings nothing to the fold. Only speedy "Back Off" and a bit experimental "Cut Me Out" with piano intro and funny bass line are more or less interesting. The rest of the album does not differ much from a dozen of similar metal discs containing mid-tempo songs with non-memorable melodies and medium playing abilities of musicians. Probably the weakest U.D.O. album throughout the whole band history. (Dead Ripper)

4/5
VIA MISTICA
Testamentum (In Hora Mortis Nostre)
2003 / 2004
Metal Mind Productions / CD-Maximum
gothic metal with doom elements
The friendly Republic of Poland, as it is widely known, is quite proficient when it comes to heavy music and would frequently feed the world HM-market with all sorts of talented formations. Via Mistica have been around since 1998, but was not able to sign a record deal until as late as 2003 when it released its debut record, the one we are looking at right now. The bands music inclines towards metalized gothic, with a certain doom-aspect (much thanks to the growling vocals), and reminds one of such bands like Theatre Of Tragedy and The Sins Of The Beloved. From the very first chords the bands songs tune the listener to a romantic mood, drowning them in the atmosphere of harmony and melancholy. The charming effect is doubled by the cello parts performed by VM-s lead songstress. Inventive guitar-work, a not too complex but yet nice melody-line, and a kind of un-gothic heaviness leave a very positive impression. The material presented by Via Mistica is easily heard and even easier to remember. A solid piece of work. (Leathermaniac)

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