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

666
ANUBI
Kai pilnacies akis uzmerks
2002
Mirtis Danza Ipnotica
jazz black

Yes, my little lovers of all things black and hellish screams, even such things are possible these days. Don't ask me though, how in hell the guys from Anubi have managed to get this rolling in their heads, for I don't know, and to tell you the truth - I don't want to know. One thing is for sure - this music is not something you can compose and play when you are completely sane. Imagine no, wrong try to imagine some avant-garde jazz played by the joined forces of Root and Dark Throne and produced by the tandem of Varg Vikernes and Diamanda Gallas. Yep, a highly explosive and completely unlistenable mixture, which by the same token is also terrifically interesting and captivating. And I mean with an absolutely horrible recording and mix quality, at that. What is in fact puzzling me, is how these boys from Lithuania would have sounded had one given them a professional engineer and a good studio. A friend of mine had a very good definition for bands which he particularly liked (and he had quite a taste in music), he called it - "music of the future". Well, guess what, he would have liked Anubi big fucking time! (Troll)

4/5
ARGILE
The Monotonous Moment of a Monologue
2002
Holy Records
death

The album starts off with a presumably frightening keyboard-spoken intro, followed by 30 something minutes of total madness combined of Swedish-Florida Death Metal, semi-avant-garde soloing, rough growling all interjected with heart-rending and tragic wails of climacteric 50-years-old maidens and an overall quite good and worthy music. Such conceptuality is normally written under two alternating circumstances: a) one has got completely nothing to do and wants to have some fun, or b) one has got completely nothing to do and wants to have some fun while being held at the funny farm. Oh, no there's yet a third variant, but in that case one has to be an out-and-out true-blackster. The Argile duet does not look anything like true-black at all, despite all the accurate corpse-paint and the mournfully-evil expression. Recording that at a madhouse does not seem likely either, due to the normally strict regime in such organizations. Which means, that this is most likely a joke. Or at least, I really want to believe that this is a joke NB: a free bonus in the form of a Dark Throne cover "In the Shadow of the Horns." (Troll)

5/5
ARJEN ANTHONY LUCASSEN'S STAR ONE
Space Metal
2002
Inside Out / SPV
progressive / heavy
After an intriguing but brief collaboration with a 14-year-old female singer in the framework of a side project called Ambeon, Arjen Anthony Lucassen, the mastermind of the legendary Ayreon, came up with yet another side project. Apparently this tactics allows the Maestro to try himself in different styles without bringing about comparisons with such Ayreon masterpieces as "The Final Experiment" and "Universal Migrator". Unlike Ambeon, which was created on the basis of Ayreon's mystic and ambient side, Star One is a total metal affair with heavy guitars, superb drumming by Ed Warby (Gorefest) and excellent singing of four prog metal stars - Russel Allen (Symphony X), Damian Wilson (Threshold), Dan Swano (just Dan Swano) and Floor Jensen (After Forever). Each of the singers can be heard in each song, which is also a novelty for on Ayreon releases a singer usually sings the entire song by himself or in a duet. The result is straigtforward heavy metal that sometimes mutates into prog metal, but the style is secondary here, the primary thing is that "Space Metal" contains more absolute hits than any other record involving Lucassen. Just check out "Set Your Controls", "Master Of Darkness" and "Perfect Survivor", or the closing track "Starchild", the most mellow song on the record and my favorite here. Fans of prog are likely to be disappointed with this release, but if you're a metalhead and wanna know who Arjen Lucassen is, begin your journey with "Space Metal". (Maniac)

5/5
CRADLE OF FILTH
No Time To Cry
2002
Abracadaver / Snapper Music
untrue black metal
For some strange reason being unable to review "Bitter Suites To Succubi" last year, we now strike back with a review of "No Time To Cry", a promo single distributed to notify the world on the arrival of a new Cradle Of Filth full-timer, this time a double CD set featuring live tracks and remixes. The single is entirely devoted to tracks of the latter category, bringing out unreleased mixes of "No Time To Cry" (a fantastic Sisters Of Mercy cover) and "Born In A Burial Gown", as well as a previously unheard track called "Deleted Scenes Of A Snuff Princess". What can I say, the first two tracks are CoF at their best - ultra-melodic, blood-chilling, unbelievably technical black metal (you may call it poser metal or whatever, anyway, everybody knows what I mean). And the third track is something strange, it is a wicked trip-hop/industrial instrumental with female moans of pleasure all over. I'm not really sure that Cradle Of Filth fans will be particularly happy with this well, song, but there's no way to deny that it suits the band's concept fine at the current stage. Shall you go and buy the full album? I if were you, I would listen at least a couple of live tracks, we all know that they may totally suck live. As to the remix part, this is a safe bet, 100 percent satisfaction guaranteed. (Maniac)

5/5
DANSE MACABRE
Eva
2002
Hammerheart / FONO
gothic metal and much more than that
The second album of this international combo with such an intriguing name turned out to be a rare success, even though even the band members find it difficult to determine their style, which is a weird combination of gothic rock (with obvious Sisters of Mercy influences), gothic metal, folk and even heavy and black metal. All right then, many musicians now occupy themselves with breaking the limits of styles, which doesn't prevent them from writing excellent music. It didn't prevent Danse Macabre from creating some really excellent songs either, their music catches your attention in a blink of an eye and holds you tight until the very last note (or breath?). The three-year wait wasn't in vain, as creation of masterpieces takes a lot of time and effort. And I didn't say "masterpieces" by chance - the album's cover alone is a true work of art. The beautiful Eva on the picture doesn't contrast with creepy skeletons of musicians, on the contrary, the artwork embodies Life and Death simultaneously. And the album title "Eva" is more than intriguing, as it means the first woman, the first mother, the origin of all good and evil By naming an album like this the band makes it clear that their work should be taken seriously. In generally, it's a very stylish release - a total harmony of form and content. It's a real "danse macabre", grim and hypnotising. And you will dance, even if it is your last dance (Lynx)

2/5
DEF LEPPARD
X
2002
Bludgeon Riffola/Mercury
aging Def Leppard
A black-and-white cover with the Roman figure X, which reminds me more of a cross The tension is growing Something deep inside tells me that the awkward cover hides an equally awkward content The feeling of uneasiness is still there The disc is in the CD player What happens next is beyond verbal description Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that the latest offering of this respected band is total crap, but after the last song ended I felt bitter and sad. Bitter because one of my favorite bands seems to be packing its guitars and moving closer to the fireplace under a warm plaid. And sad because the good ol' Leppard that released "Pyromania" and "Hysteria" is unlikely to ever come back. Apparently all the sugar that Joe Elliott and his boys wanted to be poured with in 1987 has melted and promises to destroy everything with heavy riffs like those of 1999 have remained promises. What we get in the end is quite boring mid-tempo songs about how beautiful a girl is and so on. Having found that track six has the intriguing title "Four Letter Word", I was back in high spirits again, but when it turned out that the mysterious politically-incorrect word is no more than banal "KISS", it was the final blow. After that I just couldn't enjoy the record and the rest of it produced an impression of basic and monotonous background music. I wonder, does anybody expect any strong emotions from a track called "Girl Like You"?! I still believe that "X" is not the end of this great band But the feelings of bitterness and sadness are still there (Big Daddy)

4/5
DIVERCIA
Modus Operandi
2002
Hammerheart / FONO
gothic power

"What in the hell is that?" - a surprised reader would ask, scratching the back of his head in bewilderment. Well, yes there is a thing like that now, thanks to the guys from the Finnish Divercia. I mean, it's always that way with the Finns, you never know. Once they sit quietly somewhere by the lake, and the next thing you know they come up with something completely out-of-the-blue - such as Gothic Power for that matter. At least, with all the good ill in the world, this is the only way I personally would describe whatever I heard on 'Modus Operandi.' Some might disagree with me, saying that the album has more of gothic than of anything else, and that striving for originality I start seeing it everywhere, but explain to me, where do you get these galloping major key guitars and the heroic fantasy keyboard parts from then? No, I don't know either, but I do know they have nothing to do with pure gothic, as any Tilo Wolf would tell you. Who cares, though, whatever you call them, these guys can play, and leave the rest to detail. (Troll)

4+/5
DOMINE
Stombringer Ruler (The Legend of the Power Supreme)
2002
Dragonheart/Art-Music
power metal
Once upon a time in the olden days a brave knight mounted his horse and into the battle he rode: gudda-gudda-gudda-gudda-gudda-gudda-gudda-gudda What is that? Did Kiske and Hansen return to Helloween? Or do I hear the previously unreleased material from the first 'Keeper?' Neither, it's just Domine - an intrepid euro-power metal band from the sunny Italy. I wouldn't say that this is something outstanding or striking, but its definitely fun. Everything is done in strict, almost religious accordance with all the thinkable and unthinkable genre canons: fire-expectorating dragons, black swords, steel-forged hearts, iron will, malefic magicians, love of the beautiful maidens, and of course, the bombastic zest over the whole thing. Euro-power in the most literate sense of the word. Aboslutely nothing new, but done with undoubted quality, easy to listen to, and that is why, I will this time withhold the sarcasm about the absurdity, pomposity, and grandiloquency, because, to tell you the truth - but keep this secret - with all my dislike of power metal, I did like this a bit too (Troll)

4+/5
DOWNFALL
My Last Prayer
2002
Low Frequency Records / CD-Maximum
non-traditional love metal
I spent a lot of time on this release listening to it and trying to analyse my impressions. It was clear from the first spin that "My Last Prayer" is unconventional, but it took me a while to formulate what's so unconventional about it. You see, it's love metal where comparisons with HIM are inevitable. At the same time, Downfall doesn't really sound much like HIM. First, they don't have keyboards. Second, they don't have ballads. But what's more important is that they are not syrupy at all. It's not that their music is extremely heavy, it's more like the mood is different. The pain, anger and aggression are still there, but as to depression, it's all in the lyrics, not in the music. As a result, the Finnish five-piece (which includes a bass player with the wonderful name of Dmitry Martynoff) sounds more like a cross between Sentenced of the "Down" days and faster tracks of Lake Of Tears ("Devil's Diner" or "Burn Fire Burn"). And if the record had contained at least one smash hit, I would have given it the highest rate. I'm really looking forward for Downfall's next album - after all, it took Charon two records to get to where they are today. P.S. In one of my recent reviews I said that in some genres differences between bands can only be noticed by experts or fans. This is also true for love metal. If you're not an expert or fan, you will be hearing HIM all the time on "My Last Prayer". (Maniac)

4-/5
DYING TEARS
Amnesia
2001
Thundering Association / CD-Maximum
gothic metal
Everything about this album - the band's name, its line-up with three women (a cellist, a singer and a keyboardist), front cover artwork and even photos in the booklet - suggests that you are up to at least one hour of unrelieved slow doom/death metal. You can imagine how surprised I was when upbeat gothic metal started coming out of my speakers. The French seven-piece has all traditional gothic metal elements in their music - the male growling, the soprano, infectious grooves, melodic guitar lines and a thin layer of keyboards. A mix of Tristania and Crematory would be a good description for "Amnesia". 45 minutes of such music work fine for me, and I suppose I will be spinning the album once in a while when I get tired of the above-mentioned bands and a few other acts that are very similar. But there's no way I'm going to rate the release higher - first, everything on "Amnesia" has been created some time ago and already copied a few (or rather many) times. Second, the female vocalist well, let me put it mildly, is just not up to the standards set by, for instance, Vibeke Stene or Liv Kristine. Moreover, her (and her male fellow's) accent is really terrible. "Amnesia" does have a few outstanding tracks (a wonderful ballad called "Bleed For Me" or "It's Coming" that is somewhat reminiscent of Nightwish), but there are too many claims to it, lack of individuality being the mildest. (Maniac)

3+/5
ECLIPSE
The Act of Degradation
2002
Blackend Records
black

I am under the strong impression that these guys are still not decided as to what they want to play really. Underground black metal is already too dull and monotonous, while should you add some melody and atmosphere, it will not be true anymore. As a result the Eclipse boys are tossing themselves around in a desperate attempt to combine one very long blast-beat with at least some kind of melody. Gotta pay them their due, sometimes this even works, and had it not been all about speed in itself, 'The Act of Degradation' would have been a much nicer and easier listening. Well, apparently niceness was not on the task-list, and that's why the rear end gives us a lot of chaos and confusion with an occasional glimpse of failed attempts to put the whole thing in order. Another drawback in my opinion is the complete absence of low-end in the mix, but that's the law of the genre and there is not much you can do against traditions. But, I mean, we'll see eventually Chances are this CD will find its listener, because after all it's really not that bad. (Troll)

4-/5
ENDLESS
Vital #1
2002
Redblack Production
gothic rock with x-tra weight

Hey that's pretty cool, enit? Apparently if Tom Angelripper of Sodom would (god forbid!) try to play gothic rock, it would have sounded something like Endless - lively, not too sad, but still pretty gothic. If you need a comparison, I'd say Pyogenesis, although those guys were a lot more complex and serious, while here you'd be able to finds elements of punk ('Sundown,' 'Vital #1'), grunge ('Where Do Dreams') and modern gothic-rock a-la To/Die/For ('Dune'). I wouldn't expect the CD to be embrace by the gothic crowd, but the fans of alternative will likely be pleased. Very good and not too mind-boggling background music, which, importantly enough, remains pretty interesting at a closer look as well. (Troll)

4-/5
ENID
Seelenspiegel
2002
Code666 / CD-Maximum
black metal
And stranger and stranger it goes, I thought to myself putting the CD out of my player. It's not infrequent these days that bands mix folk and black metal, but usually they place folk passages in between typical black metal songs, or mix folk melodies over all-out blasting fragments. Enid, a band from Austria, did something I have never heard before - they mixed dark folk and black metal fragments in each (!) song on the CD, except "Soulglass" and "Interlude", meditative pieces less than three minutes long. To get a picture of how it sounds, imagine some crazy DJ mixing consecutively a minute of Cradle of Filth and a minute of typical dark folk, say, Hekate or Hagalaz Runedance. An Enid track usually starts with a nice melody and clean male singing, and then suddenly bursts into black metal mayhem with screaming vocals, blast beats, etc. Of course, to mix so many pieces into something that can be called a song is not an easy task, and, being a young band, Enid do not always cope with it. More than once while listening to the record I felt that fragments are not connected with each other, which basically explains the rate marked in the beginning of the review. Still, Enid held a very interesting experiment, and some of the tracks, the above-mentioned "Soulglass" and hymn-like "And Soon Will Fall The Days" are just excellent. I would love to hear a continuation of this work. (Maniac)

4/5
EVERGREY
In Search Of Truth
2001
Inside Out / SPV
progressive metal

After Tilo Wolff decided to drop all bands except his own Lacrimosa from Hall Of Sermon Records, Swedish prog metallers Evergrey found a new home on Inside Out, Europe's major progressive label. This change wonderfully describes changes in the band's music. Their previous release "Solitude*Dominance*Tragedy" surprised the listener with a really gothic atmosphere wonderfully added to the progressive metal basis. "In Search Of Truth" showcases the band going in a different direction and abandoning all things gothic for the sake of an atmosphere of anxiety and uneasiness. Their music is still very dark, but it is now more alarming than solemn. Evergrey still have a long way to go to hysterics a la Pain Of Salvation, but they are following this path. I don't think that's the best thing to do, because "Solitude*Dominance*Tragedy" is by all means a more original record than "In Search Of Truth", but Evergrey still have a good sense of balance and are capable of writing excellent and catchy songs, which still singles them out from the horde of "music-for-the-sake-of-music" progressors. "The Masterplan", "Different Worlds" and "Misled" are undeniable hits. Ah, and fans of "Twin Peaks" and other mystic alien stories gotta love the record's concept. (Maniac)

 

5/5
FALCONER
Chapters From A Vale Forlorn
2002
Metal Blade / FONO
folk power
I was waiting for a new Falconer album with impatience because their self-titled debut had nearly blown me away. And guys didn't disappoint me this time - "Chapters From The Vale Forlorn" turned out to be a powerful, interesting and beautiful release. The band succeeded in what even more famous bands often fail at - after finding their own sound, they preserve and develop it, not losing themselves after the first record trying to jump at the latest bandwagon. Here is what I call Falconer's style - a very tasty mix of power metal, viking metal with obvious influences of Vintersorg and traditional Scandinavian melodies. Compared with its predecessor, "Chapters" sounds much more dynamic and self-assured, and the number of hits makes it clear that the band is on solid ground. And of course, a power-metal release cannot do without a ballad. This time Falconer came up with "Portals Of Light" - a sad, beautiful and even somewhat gothic tale of love and death. To complete the picture, "Chapters", just like the previous Falconer album, contains a folk song ("We Sold Our Homesteads"), but now with lyrics translated into English. So, five points again. And it's just their second record (Lynx)

2/5
FANGORN
Fangorn
2002
G.U.C.!
black death
Sad as it is, but the German black metal is largely a very sorry sight. It might be because of the more-or-less upbeat national character which does not allow the Right Worthy bourgeois, to become sufficiently grim and necro, or it might be that the German ear is simply not carved for black metal, I am really not certain. But fact is, an oppressive majority of bundes-black is absolutely unlistenable. Sadly, we have the same story with Fangorn. Everything went more or less well in the very beginning, and I was already starting to contemplate on how I should compliment such an exceptional talent, but then female vocals came in, and that was the end of whatever illusions I might have had. I haven't heard anything more ear-rending than that for several years now. Dull and absurd (Troll)

4+/5
KAAMOS
Khem
2002
Candlelight
brutal death
'At's mah man! Wackadde-wack - and the bloody hash of brain detail and skull fragments is decorating the walls. One look at this grim and evil quartet is enough to understand we are not in for any fun. Not trying to break their necks on the diversity, which would be simply redundant in this case, the Kaamos lads are doing whatever they are best at - that is smite, thresh, break and destroy stuff. The ultra-dense guitar buzz covers you like a flock of steroid-fed cannibal-bees, and a second later - the triumphant growl of the lead singer - you become the main dish at this gore-orgy. Damn right, this is brutal death metal in its most extreme and likeable incarnation. It probably is not the most original work in this genre that I love so, but with an all-out drive like that a band can be forgiven anything, even the lack of its own original ideas. As the Butcher of Diablo HellfireTM said: FRESH MEAT!!! (Troll)

3/5
KARNAK
Melodies of Sperm Composed
2002
Death Art
death avantgarde

Italians are known fir being very emotional and in very many ways unpredictable, and hence every once in a while they tend to rush into the mazes, where only a highly educated man would dare to trot without risking to break his neck. I have no idea as to what sort of higher and professional education the guys of Karnak have been treated to, but it took me about first 15 seconds of listening to their latest effort to figure out they had a serious mental problem. About 50 percent of the album is built around rhythm shifts a-la Atheist and Theory in Practice - which in itself is a solid evidence of a doubtless performer professionalism, but I am afraid that it is also going to become the key restraining-factor should you want to expose yourself to the timeless works of Karnak. Way too complicated, so much, that after about 10 minutes of playtime your brain-centers fail and require an immediate reboot. It is cool when a musician forces his listener to think, but it does not necessarily imply wrecking the brain of the son of a bitch. Everything needs to have a certain extent, and especially such experiments. For upgraded and advanced users only. (Troll)

3/5
LACUNA COIL
Comalies
2002
Century Media
gothic rock

Everything in this world develops and changes with the flow of the inexorable time. Even gothic rock does. There is a danger, in fact, that all of the bands will change in the same direction, but so far out of all the gothic releases I've heard lately (and those were extremely few and far between, he-he) Lacuna Coil have become the first ones to attempt diluting the hopeless gothic blue cheer with new (or rather NU) elements. Not to worry, my sad Goths, and don't let the horror pull out all of your red-dyed hair and tear all of your favorite PVC raggery into a million entrails. Miss Scabbia did not tie her beautiful black mane into them nasty dreadlocks nor did she start wearing Adidas baggy-trousers, bought at the local flea-market. No, moreover, even the male part of the band started dressing into the leather quilts, which have become so fashionable today. So everything is still fine with the image. Changes did occur in the musical part though, making it a bit more heavy and adding a slight touch of the nu-metal groove. The album is still rather boring and way too long, but after all it is still gothic rock (Troll)

4/5
LUNARIS
The Infinite
2002
Etilist/Earache
upgraded black

There was an old children poem about old ladies, who probably have a whole lot of toys, but the cunning grannies are hiding them somewhere, and only take them out when nobody watches. Well, looks like the buy of Spiral Architect, Borknagar, and Satyricon too had a bunch of pretty cool toys, which they did not want to show to their main bands. But, during their times off, when there was no one around, they would take out their treasures and play with them (hey, whatever you are thinking, pervert! I was talking about the music!) Well one day they just got together and decided to play, and that was the story of Lunaris. In its essence the band is basically melodic atmospheric black metal, but kind of re-cut, diluted with somewhat industrial elements, complex guitar solos, to the extent when by the end of the CD you start wondering whether this was black metal at all. A stunningly complex and non-standard work, which would require more than one or two spins to get there, but it is worth it. (Troll)

3/5
MARBLE ARCH
Another Sunday Bright
2002
Century Media
gothic rock to Brit-pop

Marble Arch first lit their star in the music skies back in 1994, when the four members formed a band called Evercry. Pretty soon the thought that this title was way too depressive, or way too trendy, and they figured they'd better change it - and that's how Marble Arch appeared. 'Another Sunday Bright' is their debut fullplay disk, which was preceded by two EPs which came out in 1995 and 1998 respectively. According to the press release the key inspiration source for the young musicians has always lied in the legacy of such bands as Candlemass and the Cure, which, as it turns out was enough to cause their intrepid brains create a pretty interesting Brit-pop work, maybe a bit one-sided, but well produced and played. I seriously doubt that Marble Arch would be gladly embraced by the majority of fans, for being way too on the light and pop side, but you may give it a try. (Troll)

3/5
MORIFADE
Imaginarium
2002
Hammerheart / FONO
choirboy metal

Should you look inside the CD inlay first you'd notice that the faces of this Swedish sextet are all intently romantic, not unpleasant, but not inspiring too much respect for their bearers either. Same goes for their music - correct, accurate, sleek, with the chords fitting each other like professionally glued wallpaper, the singer is industriously sustaining all the notes, not forgetting to put the right accents and to even add some rock-style harshness. Same goes for the rhythm section: the drum and bass guitar pounds are laid down with the unbelievable preciseness of bricks in a toy-house. With a scrupulousness, which would make watchmakers and librarians go black with envy, the guitarists are building tiny and once again accurate chain-links of solos and riffs, which are not exactly ripped off anyone, but you can't but feel you heard them before somewhere. But well, even that is not the main trouble. I mean, there is not that many notes, and busting your arse to come up with something new every time is rather pointless. But I mean still there is something wrong with Morifade being that clean and smooth, metal for momma's boys Mommetal, that is (Troll)

4+/5
MR. BIG
Actual Size
2001
Atlantic Records
hard rock

Mr. Big's music never really impressed me, even though this band did manage to come up with a few excellent songs ("Big Love", "To Be With You", "Dancing Right Into The Flame") and make some high-class cover versions ("Wild World"). When I learned that they were about to break up and that "Actual Size" was their farewell record, the news didn't upset me much. I feel totally different now, because now I know that this is Mr. Big's finest album ever. "Actual Size" is not graced by some particular hits, neither it can boast heartbreaking ballads. Instead, the record has that special something that you call "sincerery". Yes, you don't have to play black metal to lay the stress on sincerity in your music, in hard rock it is also possible. It seems to me that before breaking up the guys decided not to care about anything and just record the stuff they enjoy themselves. The result is a very soft, but very emotional record, unlike everything the band did before. My personal highlights are rockers "Shine" and "How Did I Give Myself Away" and ballads "Arrow" and "Deep Dark Secret". Hair metal fans are unlikely to enjoy the album, but fans of Counting Crows or Gotthard's last two records may be interested. I don't mean that Mr. Big are now closely related to the above-mentioned artists, but the mood is somewhat similar. (Maniac)

5/5
NAGLFAR
Ex Inferis
2002
New Hawen/Century Media
Meet Mr. True Black...

Norsk Arisk Black Metal - RRRRRAAAAAHHH!!! Or something Whatever they may say about true black being a dead end direction and as well as the impossibility of coming up with anything new and original in it, while albums like that keep coming out all speculations concerning the insolvency of the genre are to be treated as completely groundless mumbo-jumbo. Starting from the very first chords of the latest work by these honorary activists of Swedish coal industry, your chump as well as all the other architectural luxuries shall be effectively chopped off. The metal scene has not witnessed such intensity and aggression since the debut Slipknot came out. To hell with Marduk and Dark Funeral, when compared to Naglfar these alleged vets look like a bunch of black-velvet garmented choir boys with groomed neat haircuts and white starched collars. I kept wondering why the guys decided to record a mere 5-song mini LP, point is you wouldn't have survived through a sixth track. (Troll)

2/5
NO RETURN
Machinery
2002
Nuclear Blast
thrash/death
Well I don't really, but it just sounds dumb. Averagely similar thrash riffs sprayed along the constant drumming gallops and furnished with phat growl-some vocal work - and that's about it really. The solo guitarists do sound like a couple of maniacs, but I still can't figure out why would anyone want two of them, one would have been entirely sufficient for the job. Nor do I mange to understand the basic functions of the dude behind the keyboards, who has probably hit his keys a total of 10 times during the whole record, which feat won him a permanent place in the band with all of the obvious consequences. Is not our business though, apparently the band felt more comfortable that way. Music-wise this CD looks pretty dull and boring, while remaining competitive on the quality side. The album shuts with a free bonus of Death's 'Secret Face' cover, which turned out to be better and livelier than the rest of the record. But, this is just one song out of a dozen. (Troll)

5/5
NON-EXIST
Deus Deceptor
2002
New Hawen/Century Media
perfect death metal

I cannot say, whether it is virtually possible to create a perfect album in any genre, but what we do have in practice is a death metal record which is maximally close to an ideal. This project run by Johan Liiva (ex-Arch Enemy) and consisting of guitarist Johan Reynolds (Andromeda) and drummer Matte Modin (Dark Funeral, Defleshed) turned out to be an absolute quintessence of death metal, crystallized out of all things best ever created in the field. Tough, but also mysteriously melodic and heavy with a slight touch of pop, it turned out to be so many-sided and polyhedral, that you can almost feel being sucked into its whirlpool with each and every spin. Imagine the aggression and attack of Entombed and Fear Factory mould together with the complexity and fastidiousness of late Death and Carcass and the melodic parts which simply derive from out of anywhere: blues, progressive, or erm... brutal death. Not bad, eh? In any event imagining something like that is rather pointless, better just listen to it once. The album was recorded and mixed in the famous Abyss Studios by Tommy Tagtgren, who really meant it this time thus putting together and finally formatting the ideas that were born in the insane brains of the two Johans and Matte. Each song at Deus Deceptor is rather unique and interesting, however what I enjoyed most was 'A Halo Askew', 'Nowhere', 'Divided We Fall'. (Troll)

4/5
PRIMORDIAL
Storm Before Calm
2002
Hammerheart / FONO
doom-black

Notwithstanding their inborn musicality the Irish did not give the world that many bands really, though, as it often happens in such cases, the chosen few are really special. I mean take U2, Poison and Cruachan for that instance, which are the three completely different bands stylistically and musically, but they are all very special in their own kind of way. Primordial fits that category perfectly well too. Their latest - 'Storm Before Calm' - though being pretty unoriginal black metal in its basics - does have that 'certain something' ( S. Tyler) that instantly puts it above the rest. It maybe because of this internal anguish that you can almost feel physically, or the unusualness of guitar harmonies, which sound strangely sad, or yet because of the simple honesty , which you hear in every note, riff, and scream. Some may think this CD to be overly dull and boring, but believe me, as soon as you put out the lights, close your eyes and let yourself drift into these alien beckoning sounds, you will not want to come back. (Troll)

4/5
RAKOTH
Planeshift
2002 (reisuue)
Earache/Soyuz
fantasy dark/black metal
I'm sure that this Russian band will kill me for such stylistic categorization, but what can I do, those who have never heard Rakoth need to have at least a vague idea of the band's sound. OK, let's go a different way: imagine Summoning adding faster tempoes and a lot of clean vocals and you'll get the picture. Of course, the term "black metal" can hardly be applied to Rakoth, but there is an obvious black metal basis in their music on which all the symphonic, folk and heavy metal elements are mounted. "Planeshift" is not a new album, it was originally released by the Italian label Code666 in 1999, and the reissue only differs in cover and mastering. But since Code666 is far from a big label, its possibilities are limited and the potential audience of the band is much broader than that for which it was available before. The record literally shines with tons of excellent melodies, mostly played on the keyboards that constitute the backbone of the band's sound. Guitars are raw and relentless in fast pieces, and even the computer drums do not spoil the picture, though they are noticeable, alas. Probably "Planeshift" could have been even better if it had been a bit more intense, but that's my personal opinion and fans of meditative, yet aggressive music should be rushing to nearby stores to get this release. A very interesting CD, anyway. (Maniac)

4/5
ROTTING CHRIST
Genesis
2002
Century Media
black metal
Following the '2000 'Kronos' album, Rotting Christ had a pretty tough task of topping that really strong and integrated work. However the Greek god-haters would have been nowhere now had this task been completely beyond them. Genesis, their latest effort, may not be distinctly better than the 2000 release, but it is surely not weaker or less complex. Being a big melting pot of classic black metal elements and modern-day tricks Genesis has all the right to be regarded as one of the most interesting BM works this year. Here you would find both the primal energy of the musical underworld and the magnificent hand-picked (for lack of a better word ;) keyboard arrangements with a profound accent on choirs, and the powerful and memorable guitar riffs, as well as some industrial elements and even a touch of the world's best pyrofreaks the Rammstein. To me the only disadvantage of the 'Genesis' is that it may be a trifle too long and overly conceptual, but that's a matter of taste only. (Troll)

3/5
STRAMONIO
Mother Invention
2002
Frontiers / CD-Maximum
funk progressive metal

An album title such as "Mother Invention" is very ambitious. So what did this Italian five-piece invent on its second release? In general, not much, though among all progressive metal bands, Stramonio is distinguished for adding a solid doze of funk to their music, which still retains all the components and even the atmosphere of classic Dream Theater releases. Another surprise, though a very unpleasant one, is recording quality that is inadmissibly poor for a prog metal release. Actually, the bass is not heard at all when the guitar is distorted (i.e. most of the time), and the guitar sound is far from pleasant. I really wanna know what made a label as solid and tasteful as Frontiers Records stray from their glorious AOR field and venture into prog metal with this nonessential combo. Is it patriotic feelings (Frontiers is based in Italy, if you didn't know)? Or is it the final track "Someone Like Me", which is indeed very good. Whatever their reasons may be, I'm not really sure that you need to use them for buying this CD. For prog metal addicts only. (Maniac)

5-/5
TESTAMENT
First Strike Still Deadly
2002
Burnt Offerings / Spitfire
Bay Area thrash
Not unlike fellow Americans Iced Earth, the classic Bay Area thrashers are going back to the roots on "First Strike Still Deadly". But when John Shaffer & C release a deluxe five-CD box with remixed, remastered and repackages versions of their vintage material, Testament limit themselves to just one CD for which material from Testament's first two albums was re-recorded "with today's productions and help from some of our best past and present players," as the booklet says. What can I add to this - the songs were indeed given a new treatment, and though their structure is basically unchanged, the sound is totally different and much better than on the original versions (I must say that I never liked the sound on "The Legacy"). Another major change concerns the vocals that are generally much lower. On this album Chuck Billy finally managed to reach a balance between death metallish growling that he developed so well on 1997's "Demonic" album and traditional Bay Area high-pitched screams. Moreover, he's assisted on two tracks by Steve Souza (now with Exodus), the original singer in this band and author of lyrics for those particular songs. This, of course, is a major attraction for many fans have never heard Testament's demos with Steve on vocals (actually the band was called Legacy at that time). So, if you're new to Testament, "First Strike" is a definite must have, but if you know a thing or two about this band, bear in mind that most of the songs have been released with updated production on Testament's two live albums in the mid-1990s, and were performed even more energetically" (Maniac)

3/5
TIME MACHINE
Evil
2002
Lucretia records/CD-Maximum
italiano power
Yet another anthem of praise to Italian metal by Time Machine. Staying in the shade of their more renown colleagues, the Time Machine boys seem to be completely ignorant of the success of the others, the open speculation on Italian progressive metal, that has been literally blossoming for the past couple of years, or the attitude of the critics to the whole situation They simply continue forging their steel, and seriously, having been around for almost a decade with 5LPs out and the top-quality professional level the guys have reached by know, Time Machine may quite easily be referred to as one of the founding bands for the modern-day Italian metal. Which basically means that on the new album you will find every little element that composes the above notion: abundant keyboard-guitar harmonies, intensive and very emotional vocals, church choirs, and high-speed and melodic numbers. It's worth mentioning though, that these guy do know where common sense is, and that is why the keyboards do not cover 100% of the musical grounds, the vocals do not pitch up to ultrasonic, and the speed does not climb to supersonic. The lyrics rotate around the subject of the battle between good and evil, but no matter how unoriginal this theme is, it does not go to clinical idiocy with Time Machine. The CD-inlay design is also pretty smart and stylish with every song having a visual representation. As for the musical part of it, well, two classy songs ("Where's My Heaven," "Army of the Dead") per album is not really that bad, had the guys not gone the easy way and tried to invent something new. Cause I was under a serious impression that having come up with a pair of killer-songs and having put them into the very beginning of the album, the musicians could not have come up with anything better than to build another half-a-dozen songs around the same harmonies and complete the album with those. Cheated and mistreated. (Fireball)

3/5
UNLORD
Lord of Beneath
2002

Displeased Records/CD-Maximum
kinda black
This band first drew my attention back in 2000 upon the release of their pretty successful 'Gladiator' album, which nicely surprised me with its powerful energy and distinct musicianship skill. Since then, however, the big brown bear has gone sleeping twice in the haunted winter woods, but lo and behold I do not see any major progress in Unlord's creations. I mean if a trick worked once it does not necessarily mean it will work for the rest of your bloody life. You cannot build your whole career around drive alone, cause the drive has a tendency of wearing out with time. Blastbeats are cool but only in the case when you have something else attached to them. I did experiment with this CD putting it on random and normal modes in the player, and no, I did not notice any difference. All songs are so much alike I would not be surprised if the band themselves tend to forget which one is which. Sad (Troll)

4/5
ZONATA
Buried Alive
2002
Century Media
Power-thrash
Shifting from melodic power to a more progressive and complex power thrash did a world of good to this young and aspiring Swedish act. Having become much less commercially oriented the music on 'Buried Alive' turned out to be a lot more interesting and listenable than the band's earlier opuses, which, good as they were, were nothing special either and could not be described anything else than 'another Scandi-power'. From that point the new release is a lot more exciting and tasty. Diluting their material with the guts of Annihilator ('Buried Alive', Blade of the Reaper', 'Unleashed'), the monumentality of Italiano Power a-la Rhapsody ('Visions of Sorrow', 'The Mourner's Tale') and some nearly neo-classical guitar licks ('The Last Step', 'Buried Alive'), the Swedes came up with an album that detaches itself from the vast majority of other modern power metal releases by simply having a distinct recognizable face of its own. The only drawback for me were those sort of annoying vocal pitches, but at least there were no false note, which nowadays is already a bonus. (Troll)

3-/5
ZOOL
Zool
2002
Lucretia records/CD-Maximum
hard rock

Black Sabbath? Eternal Idol? Anyone? That's the one where the then still young and aspiring Tony Martin joined the legendary mastodons and could not make up his mind, on how he should sing - go with the stupid and try to sing like Tony Martin, or forget the risk and squeeze some Dio out of himself. Well, needles to say it was not the best Black Sabbath album ever. I mean, their sound and the melody on that one was way outdated even for the eighties, so what could you possibly expect from ZOOL, which contains material, that sounds like something that has not been accepted even for "Eternal Idol." It's not that it's total shit, but it's very unlikely to arouse any enthusiasm even with the most diehard fans of prehistoric heavy metal. The riff-oriented numbers ('Valley of the Witch', 'The Eye of the Beast') are obviously under-mixed and go way back into history: the sandy guitar crunch, a charm-deprived Tony Iommi, the wobbling bass and keyboards. This is so uninteresting, that I don't even want to know, whether this was due to the lack of finance or a clinical form of nostalgia. (Fireball)

(Lynx reviews translated by Maniac)

see review archives

Copyright MetalKings.com 2000 - 2017


All rights reserved. Any reproduction without written permission from MetalKings.com is prohibited
Send your requests to ragdoll@metalkings.com

updates |  review archive |  interviews |  gig reports |  aggressor |  dark princess |  contacts |  home |  sitemap

@Mail.ru