Lucifer's Child: The Wiccan (Dark Essence Records)
Lucifer's Child hail from Athens Greece, they were formed by guitarist George Emmanuel who normally wields his axe in Greece's premier extreme music merchants Rotting Christ and Bassist Stathis Ridis who fields the bottom end in Greekl Gothic doomsters Nightfall. So with the band founders day job being in the more underground realms you will get a good idea what Lucifer's Child sound like (as if the band name didn't give it away), this is occult influenced, evil summoning black metal riffs with deathy vocals from new boy Mario Dupont who has a scream from the bowels of hell as witnessed on the propulsive A True Mayhem on which he growls like a demon while Emmanuel supplies down-tuned riff after down-tuned riff and Ridis and drummer Nick Vell apply a heavyweight rhythm section that brings the doom to Spirits Of Amenta and some thrash-like Behemoth blasting to He Who Punishes And Slays, in fact the band have a sound that is part Rotting Christ (obviously) and part Behemoth as they play the same kind of unrelenting blackened death metal with some orchestral filling on a few tracks, the best evidence for this comparison is the the track Lucifer's Child which is a huge fear laden track that has a that has keen guitar melody over the barrage of a rhythm section that chugs along, before the aptly named Doom is a track so slow that I was afraid it was going to go backwards. With ominous riffs, powerful bottom end and guttural vocals Lucifer's Child are good side-project that takes enough from their respective day jobs to win over long time fans but also adds enough influence from other bands that they stay fresh and interesting. If you like your metal with a side order of evil then Lucifer's Child will conjure up magic for you! 8/10
Sebastien: Dark Chambers Of Deja Vu (Pride And Joy Music)
I picked up Sebastien's debut album Tears Of White Roses from a second hand store, purely due to the awesome looking cover and that it had some huge guests on it; these included enchantress Amanda Somerville, former Firewind man Apollo Papathanasio, Temple Of Rock's Doogie White, Rhapsody Of Fire's Fabio Lione, Riot vocalist Mike DiMeo, Ex-Helloween and current Masterplan axeman Roland Grapow and guitarist Tore Moren. Although theses were the reasons I initially parted with my money the reason why I loved Sebastien, was that the album was filled with intelligent, tough, classy power metal with excellent symphonic elements giving the band a similar sound to Kamelot, Serenity, Sonata Arctica and Blind Guardian all rolled into one. The band are all great musicians with founder member vocalist/guitarist George Rain creating some superb power metal that allowed the guests to contribute and duet with Rain's voice, fleshing out the songs but not overshadow the songs. Tears Of White Roses became one of my most played albums, so I waited with growing anticipation as they announced they were working on the follow up.
So five years later Dark Chambers Of Deja Vu is that follow up and my god was it worth the wait, the songs are just as song, with a collection of darker themed song, Sebastien have stepped up their game from their debut meaning that this album whizzes past with some excellent power metal anthems that Rain and Andy Mons trading riffs and solos like the well versed tandem they are duelling with each other on the Kamelot flavoured Stranger At The Door, as well as each other they fight with keyboardist Victor Mazanek who has his fair share of solos too. In the engine room Cradle Of Filth's Martin Skaroupka's (replaced by Lucas R) drumming thunders like a storm in full flight, while Petri Skalainen's basslines gallop, rumble and rampage with the guitar riffs and finally on top of everything Rain shows off his potent vocals that have air of Jon Oliva about them, crooning with rasp that just fits the bands harder edged power metal. One thing that is noticeable is that the guests have been reduced on this record with only Roland Grapow returning from the debut, he adds his vocals to the thrashy My Deepest Winter.
As well as Grapow the band have recruited other guests including Sirenia's Ailyn Gimenez adding her haunting soprano to the wistful final track Last Dance At Rosslyn Chapel, while the chugging Lamb Of God features the (in my opinion underrated) vocals of Tony Martin Black Sabbath's longest serving vocalist, Circle II Circle and Savatage vocalist Zak Stevens on the symphonic The Ocean which is one of the heaviest tracks on the record. So the guest appearances have been reigned in but this is for the better as it let's Sebastien show off their talent on this great sophomore album that really is a masterclass of symphonic power metal. Don't leave it too late like I did, find this album now and discover Sebastien doing what they do so very well. 9/10
Violent Divine: Hyperactivity Disorder (Self Released)
Swedish hard rock with modern twist on Violent Divine's fourth album with influences drawn from the 80's hard rock of sleaze merchants Motley Crue on Restart My Heart (yes it is close to Crue's own song), gritty punk on Temple Of Love but also a bit of that decades Goth styling on Heartbroken but they also bring things right up to date on tracks like Incubus, For I Am Sin, Beautiful Disaster all having the same radio bothering metal crunch as Shinedown and Alter Bridge, this is most evident in the crooning vocals of Mike who is a dead ringer for Shinedown's Brent Smith vocally will adding some Myle Kennedy on Worms Beneath. Violent Divine are a clearly very experienced band with a lot of style shown on this record the guitar stab and shimmer, the bass rumbles and roll and the drums smash and bang with power and persistence, unlike a lot of the more modern bands I've mentioned the band are focussed on the faster more rocking songs than the heart tugging ballads that Shinedown have favoured recently, the pace rarely shows up with nearly every song supplying fast and furious metallic hard rock keeping the energy high and the attention piqued. At thirteen tracks this album could a be a slog but with the right mix of fast and slow all played with passion and style Hyperactivity Disorder which keeps up Violent Divine's faultless record for supplying great quality modern hard rock. 8/10