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Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Reviews: Sonata Arctica, Grand Magus, Delain, Hydrogyn

Sonata Arctica: Stones Grow Her Name (Nuclear Blast)

Finland's purveyors of melodic romantic metal return with their newest album and after the sonic experimentation that featured on both Unia and Days Of The Grays this album is more of a return to the what Sonata do so well. With tracks like Losing My Insanity and Only The Broken Heart Sonata use their signature keyboard heavy power metal sound backed by the blast beating drums with some superfast riffage and melodic soloing thrown in for good measure. There are also the bombastic ballads in the shape of Alone In Heaven. Tony Kakko's voice is still one of the best in the business and this is shown by I Have A Right which layers his vocals over a symphonic backing. There are however still some of the progressive and experimental elements with Wildfire Parts 2 And 3 (the continuation of the song Wildfire that appeared on their opus Reckoning Night) both clocking in at over 7 minutes and on the other end of the scale the ludicrously titled Shitload Of Money is more akin to AOR than anything else. This is a true return to aforementioned Reckoning Night era but also adds what the band has learned from their sonic experimentation. 7/10

Grand Magus: The Hunt (Nuclear Blast)

Is Grand Magus the heavy metal Rush? Well they are from snowy climes, they are a three piece that provide a big noise without adding any members live and they have reached their purple patch with their sixth album (Rush’s was Hemispheres fact fans). As I have already said The Hunt is their sixth album and it again is following the classic heavy metal sound that the band has been pioneering since Iron Will. This album immediately sets out its stall with the old school riffage of frontman JB and the rhythm heavy bass of Fox leading the way. From the relentless NWOBHM riffage of Starlight Slaughter the album doesn’t drop in quality for the next 8 tracks with Valhalla Rising, Silver Moon, and Iron Hand all being future classics. The band are heavy without resorting down tuning, JB's voice is sonorous and strong and fits their playing style excellently and his superb guitar playing can be witnessed at its best on the very Manowar sounding(and acoustically opened) title track. The band also add dashes of prog on this release mainly on the mainly acoustic and cello backed Son Of The Last Breath which is just as epic and proggy as Rush but still able to sound authentic in just six minutes. The whole classic sound is bolstered by the old school production which adds depth to proceedings. All in all a great traditional metal album from a band that are at their creative peak, now they just need a concept album! 9/10


Delain: We Are The Others (Roadrunner)

Dutch symphonic metallers Delain return with their third and most accomplished effort to-date. The album kicks off with the very heavy Mother Machine and what is immediately evident is that Charlotte Wessels' voice has become a monster she now has huge power and range meaning she can straddle both classical and pop. There is less of an in-your face orchestration than before with the lead guitars of Timo Somers taking more of a precedence, this means that the keyboards of Martijn Westerholt provide more electronic and background elements. One of the best tracks on the album is the defiant title track that was inspired by Sophie Lancaster and mixes the right amount of power with some large poppy hooks slight change away from the female-fronted symphonic metal pack. The heavy metal quotient is increased by Where Is The Blood which features the roar of Fear Factory's Burton C Bell and following track Generation Me. Big bombastic ballads come in the shape of I Want You and Are You Done With Me. This is Delain finally finding their sound which maybe more mainstream and heavier than many of the bands in the genre but is all the better for it. 8/10

Hydrogyn: Private Sessions (Music Buy Mail)

Kentucky rockers return with their fourth album. The band is still a foil for vocalist Julie Westlake and her guitarist husband Jeff with the rest of the band changing every album. Julie's voice is very good being both adept at heavy rocking and more pop-orientated in the ballads. She seems on very good form considering having a serious illness before the albums writing. Jeff has taken a back seat in the production for this album to concentrate on his writing and guitar playing. Production wise they have invested in a team, this shows as the album has a richer sound and is very similar in style their first album Bombshell. Also the concentration on guitar is also very evident as the guitar riffs and solos are as good as they were on the debut and the band have done some meddling with their sound on the modern metal edge of previous effort Judgement but they have definitely returned to their initial hard rock sound.  Forbidden Kind is a large orchestral ballad which shows Julie's great range and Scream has overtones of a hard rock Garbage mixing heaviness and pop sensibilities. This is a very good hard rock record and it is one of the best albums the band has released. 7/10

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Reviews: John Mayer, Blaze Bayley, Viking Skull, Headspace

John Mayer: Born and Raised (Colombia)

So the transformation is complete, the fresh faced All-American singer songwriter has all but disappeared and has been replaced by Neil Young (albeit with a smoother voice). Correction Neil Young in his Harvest years mixed with some Clapton, Allman brothers and nearly every Nashville based singer you can think of. That's right Mayer has finally become the country/blues player he has always threatened to be and to be honest he pulls it off well, his voice is still like silk on chocolate and his guitar playing is beautifully understated. Going back to the Neil Young references it's clear that even Mayer himself is aware of the change as he mentions Young's 1972 on the opening track Queen Of California and employs liberal use of the harmonica on Whiskey, Whiskey Whiskey which also features heavily on the brilliant title track which also has backing vocals of Young alumni (and 70's country rockers) David Crosby and Graham Nash. Mayer's writing has improved tenfold since his slightly naive early releases, the folky The Age Of Worry and Walt Graces Submarine Test, January 1967 are a testament to this, however some of the Mayer radio fodder is retained in Shadow Days and the very poppy Something Like Olivia. This is another probable number one album for Mayer (especially in the USA) however he does seem to be confused over whether he wants to be the next Young/Clapton or the first Mayer. 8/10

Blaze Bayley: King Of Metal (Blaze Bayley Recording)

The former Iron Maiden, former and current Wolfsbane singer (and all around good egg) Blaze Bayley returns with his latest solo album which follows on from the face crushing Promise & Terror which followed the more hard edged sound that Bayley has always favoured in his solo bands. However this album will divide opinion as it is one of two halves. The opening title track is a thrash riffage bluster that is promptly followed by a groove metal ballad called Dimebag which is a tribute to the guitar legend and although it is a good song it feels misplaced so early in the album, business is resumed on Black Country which is a homage to metal's birthplace and sounds like Sabbath the first half album then follows this traditional heavy fare until the truly God-Awful piano ballad One More Step which is so bad it sounds like a crap version of Meatloaf. Then the second half of the album has more than a modern Iron Maiden tinge to it with Fighter sounding like something off one of the last three Maiden albums as it is over 7 minutes and even features the gallop heavily. Business is then resumed with last two tracks before the acoustic Beginning ends the album (Ironic don't you think). Blaze has never had a brilliant voice but it always suited what he was singing over however this album is plagued by a bad track organisation, some horrible balladry and weak production. There are some good tracks but really if you want to know how good Blaze can be check out The Man Who Would Not Die. 6/10

Viking Skull: Cursed By The Sword (Transcend)

British metallers Viking Skull return with their third album proper and it's more of the same with rifftastic hard rock about drinking, fucking and rocking. With song titles like You Look Like I Need A Beer, My Bitch Talks To Much you know exactly what you are going to get. The guitar playing is tight and heavy as fucking lead; Roddy's voice is as rough as the morning after the night before. The best songs on the album are the title track, Five Fingers Of Steel, Pumped! (which has a hint of Long Live Rock & Roll) and the final slow burning Stoner Doom of final track Sleepwalk. It's not big and it's definitely not clever but any fan of heavy riffing, hard rocking rock will get a kick out of this. Put it on turn up the volume and rock out! 8/10

Headspace: I Am Anonymous (InsideOut)

This is a progressive metal album from a band I have never heard of (despite the fact they were formed in 2006). This is not good way to start a review but bear with me as I know this concept revolves around inner discovery so very deep. I have however heard of the lead singer Damian Wilson who was in Threshold and Arjen Lucassen's Star One. The Keyboards are provided by Ozzy man (and Rick's son) Adam Wakeman and he is the obvious focal point for many of the songs his keyboard runs add a melodic and technical overlay to the metallic backing. Wilson's voice is excellent throughout giving the album great light and shade. The rest of the band are relatively unknown (in the metal world) but are clearly technically gifted. The guitars are chunky, heavy and very tight. The drums of Richard Brook (various including Avril Lavigne, Roger Daltry and Adam’s dad Rick) are the basis of the time changes and the percussive back beat that work in conjunction with the bass of Lee Pomeroy (more commonly known as the bassist for Take That) provide a heavyweight rhythm section. The album itself is heavy with a very metal style; it has influences from the aforementioned Threshold as well as some Queensryche and even Nevermore at their most introspective. The 10 minute plus Fall Of America is an epic that ends with guitarist Pete Rinaldi (formally of Justin Hawkins Hot Leg) showing off his chops. Headspace are not afraid of long songs with the majority of the tracks being over 8 minutes except for the vocal/piano ballad Soldier that clocks in at just over three minutes. The longest track is the 15 minute Daddy Fucking Loves You which is a really epic track filled with time signature changes and some really great solos from Wakeman and Rinaldi. This is an accomplished album from two prog/metal veterans bolstered by a set of fine musicians and it is certainly one for fans of brilliant progressive metal. 9/10

Friday, 25 May 2012

Live & Dangerous: VIking Skull, The Mercy House, Lifer, 2 Sick Monkeys

Viking Skull, The Mercy House, Lifer, 2 Sick Monkeys (Bogiez Cardiff)

2 Sick Monkeys

This two piece punk band brings traditional punk noise using just a bass a drum kit and both of their voices. Drummer Fred Nus is the silent partner and provides the cleaner vocals but it is Bassist Pete Tower that is the vocal point as the man is completely mental, spouting funny offensive verbal diarrhoea between the songs and announcing that it was "Dave's birthday, so wish him happy Christmas". As for style well the songs were short, punchy, go-for-the-throat Punk that revolved around lyrics against the rich, the scum and c*nts all around the world. The band then introduced their cover of the most punk band ever (Green Day's American Idiot) and mixed it with a bit of Napalm Death before finishing with their own track lovingly titled Fuck Off! Great fun band with real energy well worth seeing again. 8/10

Lifer

Not to be confused with the American Nu-Metal band of the same name Lifer are a Welsh Groove Metal band that bring the crushing heaviness of Down and Sabbath and mixes in some Thrash. Despite this many of their songs sounded very samey and they relied on aggression rather than songs to hold attention. Well played but not really my cup of tea. 6/10

The Mercy House

A alt/grunge/stoner band The Mercy House are a well drilled, well-oiled machine that play very well with some excellent vocals and reverb drenched guitar playing in the style of Soundgarden. However they did seem to be a band out of place on this bill as a few of their tracks were slow, brooding affairs and the others were stomping alt rock, much of the crowd went out for a break as they played, which was bad form however they were very much on the wrong bill, despite being a good band in general. 7/10

Viking Skull

Riff heavy biker rock is what you get with Viking Skull and that is what their set was filled with. Picking tracks mainly from their last two albums and showcasing some from their new album they played with furore and bluster. Vocalist Roddy Stone roared through the opening with the one-two punch of Crank The Volume and Beers, Drugs And Bitches they immediately got the already partisan crowd onside. New track Five Fingers Of Steel was followed by the blistering Born In Hell (which still has a fantastic riff). The set ended with You Can't Kill Rock And Roll and the classic Skull Heaven. You know what you are going to get with Viking Skull and that is a beer fuelled good time, and that's exactly what they provided in spades. 8/10 

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Reviews: Slash, Joe Bonamassa, Firewind

Slash: Apocalyptic Love (Roadrunner)

Following on from his first solo album in 2010 the 'Cat In the Hat' returns with his second effort and this is a far more coherent offering mainly due to their being just one singer and style rather than the multiple on offer on his self-titled debut. That vocalist is Alter Bridge's Myles Kennedy, who co-wrote most of the album, and provides rhythm guitar. His magnificent voice is unmistakeable and he adds the much needed consistency to the album, as for Slash he is on top form backed by his backing band of Bren Fitz, on drums and piano and Todd Kerns who provides the bottom end and co-vocals on Hard & Fast. The album is heavier than many of his previous bands, there are the obvious nods to his past with the first four songs and many others having the sounds of G'N'R and Velvet Revolver, especially on Standing In The Sun which has more than a hint to Mr Brownstone and One Last Thrill which sees them re-visiting VR's Sucker Train Blues and lets Kennedy do his best Weiland impression backed by a speedy riff. There are the trademark 'Mountain-top' moments from the ballads with Not For Me and Far And Away providing these in spades. It's not all backward looking though as Anastasia proves with its acoustic opening sampling Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor before moving into the progressive appeggioed AOR rocker. Hard And Fast is punky ode to the road, Shots Fired finishes the album properly with a dark almost You Could Be Mine-esque rocker. The bonus tracks are the hard rocking Crazy Life and the talk box drenched Carolina. The production of Eric Valentine is warm because of the live/analogue way it was recorded. This album is for fans of all hard rock, Myles and the Mr Hudson. Flawless. 10/10

Joe Bonamassa: Driving Towards The Daylight (Provouge)

13 albums in 12 years is truly a feat for any man but Joe Bonamassa is no ordinary man. This album is another look back at Joey B's roots with the majority of tracks being blues covers from some blues legends and also other more outside bets like Bernie Marsden, Bill Withers and Tom Waits. The rest of the tracks are made up of Bonamassa originals the best of which are Dislocated Boy, Heavenly Soul and the ethereal title track, these are all harking back to Joe's first more blue based material whereas the covers are enhanced by the tricks Joe has learnt from his albums made with Kevin Shirley (who produces again). The covers are excellent his cover of the original bluesman Robert Johnson's Stones In My Passway is electrified and fizzing with energy, Howlin' Wolf's Who's Been Talking? is turned into the Zeppelin track it influenced. This is another fine album from Bonamssa, whose voice seems to get better and more rich and varied on every release and one showing more of what Joe did before he became the worldwide success he is today. 910

Firewind: Few Against Many (Century Media)

Since 2002 Firewind have slowly become one of the best metal bands around. It was 2006's Allegiance that really brought them to the masses. Since stabilising their main line up from that album on they have been increasing in confidence with every release. They have also been shedding their Power Metal tag and becoming more of a straight up metal band. The band has always been led by the astonishing guitar prowess Gus G (which is probably why Ozzy has made him his newest sideman) and on this album he excels himself, every track with the exception of the Apocalyptica backed ballad Edge Of A Dream he unleashes riff after furious riff and squealing superfast soloing. This album is far more mature than previous releases and hints at Judas Priest, Accept, Ozzy (on Losing My Mind) and even thrash bands like Megadeth and Metallica. Apollo's vocals are far more varied and powerful on this album; Katsionis' keys are understated and add an extra layer to the songs. The real revelation is new drummer Johan Nunez who is a powerhouse especially on the extremely aggressive Wall of Sound and also on Trivium sounding title track (which even has a breakdown!) The album blends Firewind's PM roots with head bashing metal ferocity of thrash and modern metal (perhaps due to Jason Suecof's involvement). This is Firewind's finest album so far and will definitely show why Ozzy brought Gus on board. 9/10

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Live & Dangerous: Seven Deadly, Fell On Black Days, Counterhold

Seven Deadly, Fell On Black Days, Counterhold: Bogiez Cardiff (11 May 2012)

Counterhold

Having already witnessed Counterhold seeing them again was a treat as they have improved tenfold since I last saw them. The Cwmbran metallers play an impressive display of modern metal filled with chunky riffage and great roaring vocals. After some great supports I look forward to seeing them move up the bill in future. 7/10

Fell On Black Days

FOBD had more of a thrash sound than the other to bands and while their set was good and drew the crowd nearer. they really didn't do it for me I'm afraid, although they did have their moments with the twin riffage and chain gun drumming causing an almighty noise throughout the small venue, they were also very well-rehearsed and executed, however it was just the vocals (or the acoustics surrounding them) that let them down slightly. 6/10

Seven Deadly

I had seen Panic Cell a few times as well as their final show at Sonisphere last year, however Seven Deadly are a completely new prospect mainly due to new vocalist Archie who brings a Rob Flynn vibe to the band. He sings strongly and roars like a beast over the more thrash/modern metal style that Seven Deadly have adapted to (expanding on the groove metal of Panic Cell). The band looked to be having the time of their lives with core members, Harj, Bobby T and Rob Hicks (the former PC members) all seeming far more relaxed than they were at the last PC show. New boys Dave Irving (guitar) and Archie Wilson (Vocals) also seem to have settled well. (Although Archie's pre-set trick is not funny!). They played the four tracks from their great E.P (soon to be reviewed) and a few others that will be awesome on the full length. All in all a great set from a band that are not a shadow of their former selves but a brand new snarling beast entirely. 8/10

Seven Deadly E.P link: https://www.facebook.com/sevendeadly1/app_396344093731663#!/sevendeadly1/app_396344093731663

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Reviews: Tenacious D, Accept, SkyHarbour

Tenacious D: The Rize Of The Fenix (Colombia)

Movie star/Comedian Jack Black and Classically trained guitarist/comedian Kyle Gass return with their third album and this time they have focussed on the mix of comedic rock songs with small skits in between them that were present on the first album. The opening title song is almost prog rock and tells of the D's rise from the critical fire. Their backing band is fantastic and the drums of Dave Grohl are still present and correct. Deth Starr is a rocking sex fuelled ditty which is as dirty as it is heavy; The Ballad Of Hollywood Jack And Rage Kage tells of the bands reconciliation after the Pick Of Destiny, the Latin flavoured Senorita is also great. However I think Roadie is the best track about a road crew since Motorhead's. This is not a grown up album, there are still cock jokes and general silliness aplenty but the music elevates it from a piss take to a full on comedy metal album. Black may have lost his film touch as of late but he can still make a brilliant noise with Gass as his sideman. More please! 8/10

Accept: Stalingrad (Nuclear Blast Records)

After coming back with a bang on 2010's storming Blood Of The Nations Accept return with their 13th studio album Stalingrad and they prove once more why they are 'the' Teutonic Metal band. Starting with the Pirate metal swashbuckle of Hung, Drawn And Quartered before following it up with the Sabaton-like Stalingrad (which also has the big backing vocals). The funny thing about these comparisons is that Accept are really not copying anyone they have been doing this before most of today’s bands were in school. they have lost none of their power and excitement. Mark Tornillo's vocals are excellent and while he will never be the legendary Udo however his rasp is perfect for Accept's heavy metal riot and what a riot it is. The album features all of Accept's hallmarks, heavy dual guitars from Wolf Hoffman and Herman Frank, machinegun drumming and balls thoroughly to the wall (witnessed on Flash To Bang Time). This is a fantastic album and it is equally as good Blood Of Nations which was a stormer and a true return to form. This is the continuation of that top level performance so if you want a classic metal noise this is the record to get now. 9/10

SkyHarbour: Blinding White Noise: Illusion & Chaos (Basick Records)

Keshav Dhar is a genius, he has managed to meld the modern sound of polyrhythmic playing and down tuned Djent with soaring guitar harmonies and technical but musical playing. He has drummer in Anup Sastry and a bassist in Nikhil Rufus and the album features guest vocals from ex-TesseracT man Dan Tompkins (who is most prevalent on the excellent Catharsis) and Indian vocalist Sunnieth Revankar. The album features some guest soloing from Amogh Symphony's Vishal J Singh and Marty Friedman (ex-Megadeth). The record is an absolute stormer with most of this attributed to Dhar's guitar skills. This is math metal at its musical best well worth checking out. 8/10

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Reviews: Storm Corrosion, Jack White, Huntress, Astra

Brief intro: I've been doing this for a year now. Thank you to everyone who reads comments on and discusses these posts. I set this up purely for my own sanity and to have many of you actually wanting to read it warms my cynical soul. I'll continue to write these reviews, as well as the Out Of The Beyond's, Live And Dangerous' and a may even do some Historicas soon.

Cheers everyone!

P.S (By the way if anyone wants me to review or give opinion on something they've bought that's not featured here then feel free to email, message or comment)

Storm Corrosion: S/T (Roadrunner)

So Hell has frozen over and the end of days is here as finally two of the best musicians in modern rock/metal have released their collaborative effort. Messer’s Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree) and Mikael Akerfeldt (Opeth) have released the final part of their album trilogy that also encompassed Wilson's solo album Grace For Drowning and Opeth's last record Heritage. But the clincher is whether it's any good and the only answer to that is a resounding 'Yes' but it has nothing to do with their other bands. This is a whole other side to the two men's psyche and one that looks to but doesn't tred on their other ventures. If anything it is more PT than Opeth with Wilson taking most of the vocals except on the opening track Drag Ropes which is a doom laden dreamscape which is followed by the epic orchestral title track that blends acoustic picking with woodwind instrumentation before turning into a dark voodoo percussive beast that fly’s into an almost painful crescendo and back to its beginning lilt. Hag is a trippy PT extra that comprises mainly bass, piano and Wilson's restrained vocals whereas the finale features the jazz drumming of PT alumni Gavin Harrison (who drums throughout). Happy is the complete opposite of its title and features Wilson's superb mixing and production skills to create a haunting effect. Lock Howl is an acoustic instrumental that becomes electronic in the middle 8 and the album ends with Ljudet Innan which is a 10 minute epic in the style of Echoes era Pink Floyd. This is not metal but it is very heavy, involving, thought provoking and suitably brilliant record from modern music's two most forward thinking musicians. 10/10

Jack White: Blunderbuss (Third Man Records/ XL Recordings)

So after hiding behind the dark blues/folk of The Dead Weather and the retro rock of The Racontuers, Jack White finally releases an album under his own name and after the White Stripes ended many wondered what this musical chameleon and modern day bluesman would come up with on a solo record well the answer is a White Stripes album in all but name (albeit with actual bass guitar). The album follows on from the sonic expansion featured on Get Behind Me Satan and Icky Thump. The album features a many musicians with a multitude of influences with White handling vocals, guitars, piano, bass and drums with others taking their places when White isn't. The opening bars of Missing Pieces and its electric piano is reminiscent of Dusty Springfield’s Son Of A Preacher man before Sixteen Saltines sweeps in with its White Stripe riffage and strangled cat guitar solo. Love Interruption is an acoustic soul track featuring the gravel laden backing vocals of Ruby Amanfu, however the majority of the album features Jack's new/old blues shtick with varying levels of authenticity Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy is a by-the-book blues number and one of the weaker tracks. White has also sprinkled the album with folk, soul and country. Only a track like Freedom At 21 throws a curveball with its analogue electronica backbeat (listen to it and you will see what I mean). This is a good album and one that brilliantly meets but not defies all expectations. 8/10

Huntress: Spell Eater (Napalm Records)

Fronted by former Playboy Model and opera singer Jill Janus (who is a pagan and insists on wearing very few clothes) Huntress were always going to cause a stir in the macho world of heavy metal however would the music match up to the image? Firstly the album starts up with the fierce and pummelling title track and the pace rarely lets up. The riffage of Blake Meahl and Ian Alden has a mix of thrash and black metal with an overall lashing of NWOBHM. The drums and bass are also technical and powerful providing a heavy backing. Janus' vocals are outstanding however they are quite an acquired taste as she mixes Dani Filth style growls/screams with King Diamond's soaring vocals. The lyrical content features the occult, death and paganism (but not necessarily in that order), the album is filled with good songs and the playing along with Janus' vocals are very professional however over the course of  11 tracks the relentless bulldozer riffage and hysterical screaming can wear a little thin. The best tracks on the album are Eight Of Swords, Snow Witch and the title track but the majority of the album has a similar vibe. The album is very good and the band are great however are they the saviours of true metal they are being touted as, well no, but they could be. 7/10

Astra: The Black Chord (Rise Above Records)

How do you follow up an album that is steeped in 70's prog drenched with ethereal vocals, long instrumental passages and lashings of Hammond and Moog? Well Astra have just multiplied everything by ten and made an album that is possibly 'more-prog' than its predecessor. Firstly this album has fewer tracks than its predecessor and is slightly shorter all round which means that it is more concise than their debut. The album opens with the instrumental Cocoon which is filled with all of their hallmarks and segues nicely into the 14 minute plus title track which features vocoadered vocals, huge repeating synths and features a stunning solo from guitarist Brian Ellis at the end. The psychadelia is ramped up in all aspects as well with Quake Meat having a Hawkwind vibe (and vibe is the appropriate word). This is a trippy, rocking prog album that will be best enjoyed with a kaleidoscope and possibly other things that I'm not allowed to advocate. 8/10

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Out Of The Beyond 19

Astra: The Weirding

Hailing from San Diego Astra peddle a very strict style of psychedelic/progressive rock that was born in the 1970's. They meld King Crimson, Pink Floyd, with Yes and then layer it with more mellotron and mini moog than Opeth could ever dream of. Both Richard Vaughan and Conor Riley handle vocals, guitars and the keyboards (of which there are lots folks) the vocals are very much in the style of Jon Anderson however it is the instrumentation that is at the forefront of the band they kick out the jams on the doom laden 15 minute title track and also on the 17 minute plus Ouroborous that snakes along as the central instrumental. All in all this is a long strange trip form a band that only have one card but they play it well. The production is a little tinny and quiet which means that Brian Ellis' guitar solos are not as powerful as they could be and the bass and drums are a little buried in the background. A good album from a band that stays true to their roots. 7/10

Kyrbgrinder: Cold War Technology

Formed by Johanne James the drummer of well-known British Prog-metallers Threshold, Kyrbgrinder are a power trio that delve into alternative metal with handfuls of funk metal thrown in for good measure. Johnanne handles the vocals and drums (both of which he does flawlessly) he is supported by guitarist Tommy Carris and bassist Alberto Flaibani. James' vocals have more than a hint of Benji Webbe about them and the tracks are all funky, groove laden Alternative rockers with opener Cynical World being a scorcher. The influences are multiple but you can hear heavy metal on People Of The Free World, Pearl Jam on I Wish I Could and also a tribute to the alternative band with their cover of Nirvana's Heart Shaped Box which is brilliantly different without changing too much of the original. This is different to Threshold in a good way and shows that all the myth's surrounding drummer/vocalists are wrong (just don't mention Phil Collins). 8/10 

Children Of Nova: Impossible Landscape

Muse. There we are if you like Muse then you will like Children Of Nova if not go to another review. Children Of Nova hail from San Diego and play Alternative/progressive rock music filled with atmospheric guitars and Matt Bellamyesque falsetto vocals from frontman Teo. The album kicks off with Erratic which is more of a poppy quality and even has some Radiohead influences, the title track sounds like 30 Seconds To Mars (albeit without the pretentious Jared Leto). The band are incredibly American sounding on the first half of the album however from Feel Alive the band morph into the aforementioned Devon rockers. The guitars are excellent and have clean resonance throughout the rhythm section hold their own also and the whole album is bolstered by clean production. The band are very talented and definitely deserve a listen because of that however they may need to find their own sound before they can really take off (that or kill off Muse.) 7/10