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
VII GATES
Fire, Walk With Me
2004
Sound Riot / CD-Maximum
power metal
A newcoming band from Sweden that possibly never heard about HammerFall though there are some elements from German-Swedish power metal on the album. Guitar player is heavily excited about progressive elements of Symphony X and sometimes he tries to play something only he can understand. As soon as those crazy parts stop music gets a way better. In general, two or three tracks can be easily thrown away from the CD and improve the content in a very real way. Another interesting thing is the relative lack of keyboards, which somehow "dries" the overall performance. It's still great that the singer doesn't try to copy somebody; he sings the way he can do it. Good enough for the debut album but worth working to develop a bit more original style. (Dead Ripper)

5/5
ANNIHILATOR
All For You
2004
AFM / CD-Maximum
thrash metal
Several years passed since the latest studio release of this Canadian thrash metal legend. Two members already left the band, singer Joe Comeau and longtime drummer Randy Black. Mr. Annihilator aka Jeff Waters managed to find a different singer whose name is Dave Padden. What is really different from Comeau is that Padden can easily sing high and low notes - listen to the title track and see for yourself. Moreover, the album is totally united since one songs flows into another. The disc perfectly mixes rough and speedy tracks with heavy mid-tempo ones. Many years after the release of "Set The World On Fire" Waters dared to perform country-styled "Holding On". And though he claims that "All For You" is as good as the blockbuster "Alice In Hell" this new album is a way better than the critically acclaimed debut. Long live to the Canadian thrash metal! (Dead Ripper)

5/5
AXE
Five
1997/2003
MTM Music / CD-Maximum
melodic hard rock
If you haven't heard this band before, and if the fact that these guys are considered to be the founding fathers of melodic metal, who have been doing this kind of music for over two decades now, has caught you by surprise, and if at that you were not taken aback by the review of their latest work written by honorable Mr. Dead Ripper, you can easily go ahead and buy "Five". The reunion of these vets that took place in 1997 has definitely worked and well too. The musicians, Americans by the way, have managed not to slide into the oversweeted American primitivism, and give their songs a somewhat British exquisiteness and melody, balancing on the thin ice of AOR and classic hard rock in the key of Deep Purple and U.F.O. (who in spite of being German are also representatives of British rock). I guess this is the best release of MTM Music, who are not trying to chase the first-rank stars. Besides, with a title like that - how would one possibly rate this album at any other mark? :) (Fireball)

3+/5
CITA
Act 1. Relapse Of Reason
1996/2003
MTM Music / CD-Maximum
melodic hard rock
This was the first but a very meaningful work of this band, whose title - for the sake of trivia - stands for Caught in the act. The CD is very professionally composed and recorded, thus allowing the band to ink a deal with a serious AOR-oriented MTM Music label and continue to cater all the lovers of sugar-melodic hard rock to their music, although under a different title (but this is for another review). I daresay, that during the work over the material in the studio the musicians were on several occasions visited by the omnipresent spirit of Jon Bon Jovi: I mean some of the moves and patterns are just way too similar - listen to the intro to "Through the Years", for example. Familiar, isn't it? That's right - "Livin' on a Prayer." Then again these things, I must say, are very occasional and I am yet far from screaming bloody ripoff. Besides, unlike the ego-sexo-centric of America's No.1 Rocker, CITA's material is much more peaceful and neutral. That's why it's called AOR. (Fireball)

4/5
DARKUA
Inner Wastelands
2004
Scarlet / CD-Maximum
gothic/dark metal
Various lingual finds - be it stylistic or phonetic - that are meant to represent mood, ideas, or entire concepts, flow like balm onto the tender linguistic soul of your truly. The name of the band that combines the "dark" stem and the exquisite flexion is probably the best description for their music. Using the classic "Beauty and the Beast" combination in the form of a slightly monotonous female voice and a deep convincing male growling, the musicians mould heavy riffs and lengthy lyrics into quite charming gothic melodies. What also make this album stand out of the crowd is the artwork - an embodiment of style and simplicity. The author of this small masterpiece can rightfully be considered a full-fledged member of the band - so well the visual imagery he creates (photographs, fonts, background) fits into the music. (Fireball)

5/5
DARE
Belief
2001 / 2004
MTM Music / CD-Maximum
AOR
A new album of the band from England. In the very beginning the group was highly acclaimed as the successor of Thin Lizzy due to the fact that Darren Wharton, singer and leader of the band, used to be with the legend for a while. The band used to play melodic hard rock mainly due to services of future Ten guitarist Vinny Burns. But now Darren fully let go of the hard rock genre and turned to pure AOR. And there's nothing bad about it since the guy is full of melodies so ballads and slow songs fit into his music much better than rough hard rock tracks from the debut album "Out Of The Silence" (1988). Currently Darren successfully experiments with blues, country and traditional melodies and perfectly mixes it all with classic AOR. These are rare exceptions nowadays when each hard rock album seems to sound almost like the next one and lots of musicians have no clue about melodies. Professionals will remain the same. (Dead Ripper)

5/5
DIONYSUS
Anima Mundi
2004
AFM / CD-Maximum
power metal
Get real - Olaf Hayer, the main singer from solo albums of Rhapsody mastermind Luca Turilli, is not the leader of the band, which was formed by ex-Nation musicians from Norway. Hayer is just a singer. Still you should not distance Dionysus music from the traditional power metal genre. The band seems to have a couple of moments that are not traditional in the sphere they work. First, melodies are simple and easy-to-remember. Try out "Divine" or "My Heart Is Crying" and see for yourself. Second, lyrics deal with relations with opposite sex, which is, again, rarely witnessed in power metal. The music itself has some typical Scandinavian moments, which are hard to describe. Professionals remain the same no matter what comes around. (Dead Ripper)

4/5
DREAMTALE
Ocean's Heart
2003
Spinefarm / Fono
melodic power metal
Another Finnish newcomer. The singer tries hard to copy ex-Stratovarius Timo Kotipelto. Probably that's the typical Finnish voice range. And the music is purely Italian power metal. Keyboards run as fast as they can all the way and the concept story of a fight with some dreadful creature pictured on the album cover is in the totally Italian way. The band also reminds a bit of Blind Guardian due to the absence of rhythms in lyrics in each second verse. If the keyboarder turned down his instrument a bit more silent in order to let the singer improve on his positions the album could be much better. The band still has things to work on. (Dead Ripper)

3/5
EMPIRE
Trading Souls
2003 / 2004
Lion Music / CD-Maximum
hard rock
Former guitar player of Vanize (featuring Peter Dirkschneider) Rolf Munkes is still restless and wild; he just released a new album of the all-start project. To tell the truth, apart from big names such as Tony Martin on vocals, Neil Murray on bass, Don Airey on keyboards and Anders Johansson on drums the album is nothing special. Well, in general, it is good since vocals, recording quality and musicians involved are brilliant. Sounds pretty close to Deep Purple mixed with Journey (and has nothing to do with Tony Martin days in Black Sabbath). Still the name alone is not enough. There is no standout point in the album that has traditional riffs and melodies. Usually you expect something more from professional musicians. For collectors only. (Dead Ripper)

4/5
ERIC MARTIN
Destroy All Monsters
2004
Frontiers Records / CD-Maximum
soft rock
Back in the times when Martin used to be a fulltime member of the now defunct Mr. Big they have always been an embodiment of the triumph of healthy romanticism over aggression and melodies over the drive. Which, in essence has been instrumental to their outrageous success with the female audience. His new solo-effort, fourth overall and the first one since the official breakup of Mr. Big, presents an entirely de-metalled Eric - both image- and music-wise. On "Destroy All Monsters" Martin appears as a wise and experienced romantic guru with a set of simply truths and life-stories (he even didn't miss out on the all-American collective image of little girl Janie, the one who is ugly on the outside and beautiful on the inside). The measured tempo with which the album unfolds also reminds of one other ex-hero of ex-teenage-girls - Joey Tempest. (Fireball)

3/5
GUILD OF AGES
One
1998/2003
MTM Music / CD-Maximum
melodic hard rock
Guild of Ages here is what CITA have grown into. That was due to the fact that all of a sudden a boys-band called "Caught in the Act" has appeared in the Netherlands, and the American combo could think of nothing better than changing their name to something less pompous, but still pretty trendy when it comes to acronyms - GOA. That - in essence - is the only change that has happened to the band. Same careful guitar drive (in order not to scare away all the "serious" fans) with keyboarding decorations, same orbed mid-paced and uniform compositions, same pleasing raspy vocals, overall - not better and not worse than any other AOR-band without much ambitions. Nothing to find fault with, cause the record is professional and fan-oriented. Fans will also be the only ones who will praise that though. (Fireball)

3+/5
GUILD OF AGES
Vox Dominatas
1999/2003
MTM Music / CD-Maximum
melodic hard rock
Unlike "One" this album sounds much more upbeat and - scary as it is - heavy! While staying within the scope of AOR or melodic hard rock (whichever you like better) the sound of the band has become much thicker, the guitar sound is a lot more pronounced while the bass has grown some phat on it. Well, that is not to say that the change is radical, but you can hear it quite easily. Besides the melodies have also gained some expressiveness, the riffs have built up some muscle, and the overall mood of the record has changed closer to what you call American hard-n-heavy in the vein of Van Halen and Firehouse. And - in my personal opinion - these changes are only for the better. As for the studio work - this one has never been a problem for the boys and their producer Bobby Barth of the cult Axe band. (Fireball)

4/5
HEADLINE
Duality
2002 / 2004
NTS / CD-Maximum
progressive power metal
Helloween fans, do you remember Headline? Yes, that French band that dared to perform the classic epic "Halloween" on the tribute album to the German metal legend. It is their album! Please, consider that this is the French band and that a girl sings the whole thing. Seems like she had satisfactory mark in English at school for the pronunciation and accept are very heavy. Oh, and she is the main lyrics writer; probably other musicians do not have a single English idea. OK, about music. The whole album sounds like a big musical experiment. Tempo changes in each songs with each minute - sometimes you hear keyboards, sometimes the guitar roams and sometimes drums pound out load. The total chaos is all the way through in the musical direction and the band failed to decide either it wanted to play progressive power metal or just power metal. The most interesting thing is that very accept that differs the album from similar ones. Worth listening at the least. (Dead Ripper)

5/5
JIMI JAMISON
Empires
2003 / 2004
Frontiers Records / CD-Maximum
AOR
Restless Jami Jamison released a solo album! You never heard that name? Shame on you! Jami is the singer and leader of American melodic hard rock legend Survivor and his name is sometimes added to the band's title. Yeah, you can never expect an average album from such a person. Sometimes it seems that there are people in hard rock who are totally insensitive to the change of time; no matter how many albums they released, no matter how many songs they wrote, the quality of their music is still the same. From the very first song the album catches your breath and holds it up to the very end of the CD. It is hard to tell what song is good or bad - all of them are just perfect including (!) three bonus tracks recorded live. Never let go of this album! (Dead Ripper)

4/5
JOHNNY LIMA
Made In California
2003 / 2004
Frontiers Records / CD-Maximum
melodic hard rock
The second album of the brand new guitarist from the USA. And a very nice one, by the way. While the whole American public goes crazy about Korm and Limp Bizkit Johnny Lima is resurrecting the classic hard rock music of the 1980s. And the Californian taste is perfectly felt in the vocal sphere for Lima sings very close to Jon Bon Jovi from the "Slippery When Wet" years. Melodies are a bit too greasy and glam-rocked a little. In particular, the song "Go On Go Away" is extremely melodic and is a full-scale hit. In an attempt to make the American sound somehow different Lima added a cover track of The Beatles, "Help!". And that very cover is more than enough to listen to the album at least once. (Dead Ripper)

5/5
KHARMA
Wonderland
2000 / 2004
MTM Music / CD-Maximum
melodic hard rock
This band has a long history full of controversy. Originally it was formed under a different name but almost with same musicians back in 1988 (!). But they failed at the time and went to other bands and projects. One of them, singer Goran Edman, was the most successful working with Yngwie Malmsteen, Glory, Brazen Abbot and a dozen of other projects. Finally in the year 2000 songs of the past were re-recorded, re-arranged and issued under the Kharma moniker. Musically the album is optimistic and powerful hard rock with awesome guitar and keyboard passages. A positive (or negative) thing on the album is the huge number of ballads and songs with piano on the background. The disc grabs your heart and holds it up to the very end. The best album among all the Edman works, the real singing is here. (Dead Ripper)

5/5
KOTIPELTO
Waiting For The Dawn
2002 / 2004
Century Media / Fono
melodic power metal
To all the fans of Stratovarius - don't expect something in the vein of the (former) alma mater from "small" Timo. Almost nothing is similar. Of course, there are no industrial or symphonic passages like on "big" Timo's second solo album; melodic power metal all the way. But there are many more keyboards than in the Stratovarius case while guitarists like Michael Romeo from Symphony X and local Sami Vertanen do not try to prove they are the fastest shredders around. That's why most of the songs are mid-tempo. Only "Knowledge And Wisdom" can be in a way compared to classic speedy power metal and that's not a surprise since Roland Grapow (then-Helloween) played on it. And the album cover with Egyptian drawings is not occasional since there are some of those elements throughout the whole CD. You better listen to it very carefully; the album deserves it. (Dead Ripper)

3/5
LAST TRIBE
The Uncrowned
2004
Frontiers records / CD-Maximum
soft metal
If you are Swedish it does not necessarily mean that you absolutely have to become a clone of In Flames or HammerFall. You could look up to somebody much more famous and popular, like - say - Yngwie or Europe. The Chief of the Last Tribe Magnus Karlsson though has decided not to copycat any of his famed compatriots carefully and systematically avoiding any parallels or borrowings for many years now, which is definitely a bonus. His melodies may not be the brightest, but they are not ripped off from anyone and thus have not yet become boring or outdated, plus they are delivered by a completely original and a very strong vocalist. Then again - being the strong side of Last Tribe - their being in the opposition to the rest of the Swedish rock school, has deprived them of the advantage of composing smashing hits and writing standard but memorable melodies. As a result the metal delivered by LT is more melodic in shape, than it is in contents. (Fireball)

3/5
SEVENTH KEY
The Raging Fire
2004
Frontiers Records / CD-Maximum
hard rock
If, judging by the name of the band, you've imagined that we are talking about yet another clone of Helloween here, then you missed the point. Everything is much more serious and mature. The ex-singer/bassist of the legendary Kansas Billy Greer persistently ignores coming of the new millennium and other suchlike trifles of life and continues to self-forgetfully declamate his intense and heavy (as it was seen 25 years ago) guitar rock. I must say it though that the sound on the album does not bother one with its old-fashionness, although the material on the record is nothing but what you would call "good ole'". Very standard, at times even cliched. As for the main hits on this one such as :You Cross the Line" and "Winds of War" those are done in the same key as they were done by the AOR-heroes of the 80ies, say, Kansas, for instance. (Fireball)

5/5
SHAMAN
RituAlive
2004
AFM / CD-Maximum
power metal
When Shaman led by legendary and unique singer Andre Matos decided not to rush things up with the production of the second album it was decided to release a live album in both CD and DVD formats. The idea is great but to play all the 10 songs from the debut album is a bit boring so there are some surprises. One of them was to invite Helloween singer Andi Deris, Edguy singer Tobias Sammet and a couple more good friends to Brazil for the actual live recording. That is how "Eagle Fly Free" of Helloween and "Sign Of The Cross" of Avantasia found their way into the set list. Talking about the performance quality it is as high as it can be. The live performance is not an inch worse than the studio work. Unfortunately, there are two small damages. In particular, Matos failed to sing "Here I Am" properly and got better voice as the concert progressed and bass solo of Helloween's Markus Grosskopf is more than needed on "Eagle Fly Free" since Marutti's one is not that good. The album also features a multimedia track, which is live video of Angra's classic "Carry On". The best possible! (Dead Ripper)

4/5
STYGMA IV
Hell Within
2003 / 2004
NTS / CD-Maximum
melodic power metal
It is not really clear what is the origin of this band. The record company is French but musicians names obviously have nothing to do with France. Possibly they are Germans. That's when everything gets clear. Stygma's music is the mix of Manowar, Helloween and Grave Digger. From Manowar there is power and melody, from Helloween there is speed and from Grave Digger there is crystallization like on "Tunes Of War" where ballads ideally went together with bombastic metal tracks. The album sounds like a one solid piece and is really pleasant to listen to. The only negative issue is the total lack of originality. The rest is great! Some people might consider the album to be too dark but it only contributes to the music field. Newcomers, see how it should be done. (Dead Ripper)

3+/5
THE AWAKENING
Roadside Heretics
2002/2004
Intervention Arts / CD-Maximum
Paranoid HIM

I don't know whether anyone has actually come up with an idea to "marry" H.I.M. and Marylyn Manson, but this was the first time that I actually heard the result of the implementation, of this quite simple and obvious idea. I mean, seriously, in our times, when even the most unlikely musical mutants would become unexpectedly popular and demanded, moulding the two main idols of the teenagers was simply asking for itself. And ask it did. Although not in Finland and not even in the USA. Ashton Nyte - a quick-witted guy from South Africa - has demonstrated that despite being head-walking antipodes these folks down there are quite knowledged when it comes to modern music and such. As a result what you get here is a sweet-looking full-lipped melancholic who would periodically break down in posing hysteria of convincing musical drive. The obvious electronic sound does not spoil the album at all but rather on the contrary fills it with all the latest achievement in the field of sonic industry. Add thick guitar sound that did not get lost against the background of this technology celebration. That's cool I say, especially for South Africa. (Fireball)

3/5
VERTIGO
Vertigo
2003 / 2004
Frontiers Records / CD-Maximum
melodic hard rock
There used to be quite an average band in the 1980s called Toto that recorded some albums and split up. Toto singer Joseph Williams went on to work with various projects. Vertigo is one of those attempts. But this time he found high class musicians including multi-instrumentalist Fabrizio V. Zee Grossi who worked with ex-Hurricane Kelly Hansen on the Perfect World album while guitarist Alex de Rosso used to play even in Dokken for quite a while. But the album is still weak. It looks like that - a good songs after an average one. Ballads and bombastic tracks are mixed up together with nothing special in them. Probably musicians had no time to play together that's why they fall either into rough tracks or melodic songs or pure pop wave. One more hard rock album in the "Frontiers Records" catalogue - no more. (Dead Ripper)

5/5
VIRTUOCITY
Northern Twilight Symphony
2004
Spinefarm / Fono
symphonic power metal
Well, the word 'symphony' on the album cover could be easily written in capital letters. Although the guitar player seems to be the band leader the keyboarder is heard more on the album - almost each songs starts with the keyboard intro. The guitar player tries to prove that he has great songwriting and performing skills instead of being a wannabe copy Yngwie Malmsteen. Even on the last instrumental track this guitar player does not attempt to overcome the speed of light, which is quite a sensation in the genre lately especially among newcoming bands. The singer is excellent as well, he somehow reminds of Roland Grapow from the latter's debut album. But this singer never screams and shouts; he sings and does it a very professional way. 13 tracks on the 50-minute long album do not spoil it at all for there is not a second when you get bored of the music and want to stop it. One of the best albums of the year. (Dead Ripper)

3+/5
WIZ
Shattered-Mind-Therapy
2004
Arise Records / CD-Maximum
heavy power
What makes the grim features of Wiz stand out of the crowd of all the other brave warriors and dragon-runners with spiritually inspired imbecilic faces who march so ardently across the Swedish metal scene, is their down-to-earhtness and intelligence. That is instead of all the dragon-sword bullshit, these boys concentrate on such acute topic as loneliness, relations with the outside world, love, and being apart. The musical component is a lot more standard though, that is to give you a brief idea the lineup features two members of a more famous power-metal combo Nostradameus. Although, if Nostradameus is a one-hundred percent batch factory (never mind how qualitative), then Wiz differs from the rest of the scene with a more raw and spiky sound and darker melody lines. Then again all the hits on "Shattered-Mind-Therapy" (and these would include "One Chapter…", "Understand", "Return of Atlantis") are your typical melodic Scandi-power. That's what I call school. (Fireball)

5/5
ZENO
Listen To The Light
1998 / 2004
MTM Music / CD-Maximum
melodic hard rock
Third and so far the final album of Zeno Roth, brother of former Scorpions axeman Uli Jon Roth. If you never heard Zeno his works can be easily compared to other German guys from Fair Warning, in particular, the "Go" album period. The whole album is full of heart-warming melodies, classical guitar passages and "the only" singer of Zeno, Michael Flexig, delivers the goods in both new tracks and three bonus tracks from the glorious past. The disc is highly recommended to all the fans of classic hard rock. Seems like brotherly relations are being reflected in music as well. (Dead Ripper)

 

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