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Saturday, 9 February 2013

Reviews: Bullet For My Valentine, Stratovarius, Vandroya

Bullet For My Valentine: Temper Temper (RCA Records)

So Welsh metal boyos BFMV return with a new album and this one follows on from previous effort Fever, which tried to re-capture the aggressive heaviness but melodic almost poppy song writing of their debut The Poison. Temper Temper continues in this vibe merging the heavy metal riffage, with hard rock arrangements and the huge vocal hooks of Matt Tuck. More so than the previous effort this album is more in tune with their debut, witnessed by Tears Don't Fall (Part 2). As for the rest of the album it's the same big rock tracks with a melodic edge, the first too tracks are strong and heavy, the title track has a very fast staccato riffage but some dodgy lyrics, P.O.W is an emo arena ballad that will get everyone shouting along at gigs, before Dirty Little Secret brings together all of the metalcore hallmarks of a melodic clean verse before the thrashy screamed chorus. With these middle tracks the album does slump a little bit with a few of them just sounding a bit forced Leech especially is a bit crap, the slow building Dead To The World which features lots of mountain-top soloing (and a lyrical collaboration with Chris Jericho, so it's not exactly Shakespeare) picks up the pace a bit by injecting some classic metal head banging and again lots of soloing. The punky Riot and the thrashy Saints & Sinners manages to bring to mind the BFMV of old before Tears Don't Fall (Part 2) updates their classic sing-along. The band are all playing well and every song is well constructed and well performed, as I had no doubt it would be, the production too is very crisp and modern. The special edition features a few bonus tracks with Not Invincible being the best of the bunch and a live cover of Whole Lotta Rosie being the worst. I wanted to hate this album for a number of reasons but it is actually quite good. The fans will lap it up but it might not win over the 'serious' heavy metal crowd, but I doubt BFMV will care about that... 7/10

Stratovarius: Nemesis (Edel)

Finland's primary symphonic metal band are still surviving despite having no original members. Having seen a bit of career re-insurgence since 2010's Polaris their 13th album features more of the huge symphonic choirs and bouncy power metal mixed with sky shattering ballads, case in point the epic If The Story Is Over. Straight from the unstoppable riffage of Abandon you can see that the band are still firing on all cylinders with the interplay between guitarist Matias Kupiainen and keyboardist Jens Johansson being the key to the band’s sound, Johansson as the veteran tinkles the ivories with panache with his runs and solo's exciting and beguiling, his programming and orchestral elements are also integral and flesh out the band’s sound tenfold (see the euro pop of Halcyon Days). Kupiainen does has done his best since Polaris to forge his own guitar identity from that of founder and former member Timo Tolkki and has done so excellently giving a much harder edge to proceedings. The drums and bass of Rolf Pive (replacing long time member Jorg Michael) and Lauri Porra cannot be ignored either giving a driving back beat to the power metal merriment. As well as Johnasson the other veteran, singer Timo Kotipelto proves once again why he is one of the best vocalists in his genre, with a voice that sounds a strong now as it did in 1995. Polaris and Elysium both were Stratovarius' mature records and Nemesis is too. It's the sound of a band in their third decade a band that are still hungry to make the best albums they can and they are, much like it's two predecessors Nemesis is a mature symphonic power metal master class. 9/10

Vandroya: One (Inner Wound Music)

Vandroya are the latest symphonic/progressive metal band to come out of Brazil and they do what they do very well. The main reason for this is the superb voice of front woman (former Soulspell singer) Dasia Munhoz, her voice is a clear revelation and after the classical intro of All Becomes One swells into the blast beat drums and galloping riffage of opening track The Last Free Land Munhoz's voice immediately hits you in the throat as it's not the average operatic fodder you have with other female fronted bands, she has a strong melodic rock voice which reminds me of Marta Gabriel from Crystal Viper. She is the icing on a very nice metal cake, the sound of the band obviously have a lot in common with country mates Angra with a very progressive/power metal style of speed metal riffage, songs full of time changes and some very good riffs and solo's. The band are all highly skilled and the music is virtuosic ranging from the speedy power metal of Anthem (For The Sun) to big ballads like the haunting Why Should We Say Goodbye which shows off Dasia's voice to its fullest, there is also a duet with Seventh Seal's Leandro Cacoilo on Change The Tide. This is a very strong debut album that is full of strong prog/power metal anthems that will appeal to fans of Angra, Symphony X and even Kamelot. 8/10

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