Burning Point: The Blaze (AFM Records)
Finland's Burning Point return with their seventh album of power metal goodness The Blaze which is also their first full original album with vocalist Nitte Valo (formerly of Battle Beast) with previous album Burning Point being a mix of new and re-recorded songs. You pretty much know what you are going to get with a power metal album so you have to judge an album's worth on songwriting and performances. Thankfully both are on top form. Burning Point play a more melodic brand of power metal with huge singalong choruses and hooks that will bore into your subconscious for weeks.
The standout star of the album is frontwoman Nitte Valo who absolutely dominates with her aggressively edged yet soaring vocals. There is also plenty of guitar wizardry on display throughout the album and the eighties sounding synths give this album an old school feel. Burning Point won't win any awards for originality with The Blaze but balls to originality when you get power metal at this level of greatness. Stand outs include Master Them All, Lost In Your Thoughts and The King Is Dead, Long Live The King. 8/10
Lucifer's Friend: Too Late To Hate (Cherry Red Records)
Among a stream of high profile comebacks and reunions another legendary band has returned and put out their first new album in a very long time except many rock and metal fans will have never heard of this band. Time for a bit of a history lesson...
Lucifer's Friend formed in Hamburg, Germany and released their debut album way back in 1970 playing an early form of heavy metal. They released another seven albums throughout the 70's and early 80's dabbling in other genres such as psychedelic rock, progressive rock, jazz fusion, funk rock and AOR before calling it quits in 1982. A couple of members released an album under the name Lucifer's Friend II in 1994 but this did not last until a proper reunion in 2014.
Too Late To Hate is the first proper Lucifer's Friend in 35 years. Three of the original members play on this album - vocalist John Lawton (who also sang for Uriah Heep - Ed), guitarist Peter Hesslein and bassist Dieter Horns and they are joined by keyboardist Jogi Wichmann and drummer Stephan Eggert. So after a 35 year between album gap is Too Late To Hate any good? Well Lucifer's Friend seem to pick up where they left off playing a mix of hard rock and AOR reminiscent of the early 80's albeit with a 21st century sounding production. You get a mix of straight up hard rockers such as opener Demolition Man (Thankfully not a Sting cover - Ed) and Tell Me Why to the bluesy This Time and the ballad-esque When Children Cry. Performance wise the band sound fantastic.
John Lawton's voice sounds fantastic for a guy aged 70 whilst Peter Hesslein belts out some fantastic guitar riffs carried by the impressive keyboard playing of Jogi Wichmann. After a 35 year wait 'Too Late To Hate' is an enjoyable album with some great catchy rocking tunes. Not a groundbreaking album by any means and will probably sound fairly dated to any younger rockers but classic rock fans will lap this up.7/10
Chronos: Pallid Reflection (Self Released)
Chronos are a four piece melodic death metal band hailing from Bath and Pallid Reflection is their debut album independently released on Bandcamp. Chronos are at the thrashier end of the melodic death metal spectrum but also add a progressive metal influence. The material on this album sounds like a cross between Scar Symmetry, At The Gates and Opeth especially on the tracks such as Emerald Soul and Shadow Of The Sun which sound very influenced by the Swedish prog metal masters. Other highlights include the aggressive opener Blood River and the Spanish guitar influenced Shiver.
The vocals of frontman James Rideout alternate between death metal growls and clean vocals slightly reminiscent of Christian Älvestam (ex-Scar Symmetry and Solution .45) and Mikael Akerfeldt (Opeth). The guitar playing is aggressive yet melodic with some great solos. The bass guitar and the drums provide a solid backbone to the songs. The main criticism of the album is the songs are generally far too long without enough interesting ideas to sustain the song length.
The main tracks that suffer from this are the bloated two parts of Thuribles Veil. Chronos also seem to lack their own distinct identity sometimes sounding all too alike the bands that influence them. That being said Pallid Reflection is a very strong debut album by a very talented band. 7/10