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Sunday, 21 May 2017

Reviews: Astral Doors, Ghost Bath, Bare Infinity (Reviews By Rich)

Astral Doors: Black Eyed Children (Metalville Records)

Swedish heavy/power metallers Astral Doors return with new album Black Eyed Children which is their eighth album and out on Metalville Records. Astral Doors have previously merged together traditional melodic heavy metal with power metal but with Black Eyed Children the power metal elements are scaled right back and almost completely absent with this being a very straight up melodic heavy metal record. This is an effective approach with songs such as God Is The Devil, Die On Stage and Slaves To Ourselves being impressive melodic metal anthems but the albums failing is that it is too straightforward in its approach and the songwriting generally is quite mediocre for a band of Astral Doors standing.

 One strength throughout the album are the vocals by powerhouse frontman Nils Patrik Johansson (also of Wuthering Heights and formerly a member of Civil War) whose soaring, melodic yet gravelly vocals never fail to impress during the duration of the record. Overall this is a disappointing release from Astral Doors where an attempt to write a more straightforward heavy metal album results in a rather dull and mediocre affair. A few highlights here and there but generally quite forgettable. 6/10

Ghost Bath: Starmourner (Nuclear Blast)

Starmourner is the third album by depressive black metallers Ghost Bath and their first release for Nuclear Blast Records. Ghost Bath are a very divisive band within the metal community from their early claims that they were based in China when it turned out the band are from North Dakota to the extremely polarising vocals from frontman Dennis Mikula. To their credit though they must be doing something right to get signed to a large label like Nuclear Blast. Personally I don't mind Ghost Bath and Starmourner isn't a bad album. It is unfortunately a very bloated one. The band continue where they left off on previous album Moonlover with a sound mixing atmospheric black metal with shoegaze elements albeit performed in major key resulting in a sound sitting somewhere between happiness and melancholy.

The band definitely need to learn to edit their songs as a good few on the album either overstay their welcome or just get nowhere and achieve nothing. There are songs though which do work well such as Ethereal, Celestial and Luminescence. The wailing screaming vocals by Dennis Mikula are easily the most disliked part of Ghost Bath's sound but on Starmourner they are placed quite low in the mix and as such don't drown out the rest of the band (unlike 'that' set at Bloodstock) managing at times to compliment the music. All in all Starmourner is a flawed album with an excessive running time and songs which drag on too long. When at its heights the album does stand out and impress but there are not enough of those moments throughout. 6/10

Bare Infinity: The Butterfly Raiser (Blackdown Music)

The Butterfly Raiser is the second full length album by Greek symphonic metallers Bare Infinity. This is also the first release with a new line up including vocalist Ida Elena who has replaced Angel Wolf-Black (who has gone on to front Wales' very own Triaxis). The music on The Butterfly Raiser is as standard for female fronted symphonic metal. Guitar riffs are standard chugging with the songs being carried mainly by the strong melodies from the keyboards including some folk and middle eastern style melodies and the impressive vocals of Ida Elena who goes for a more pop rock style similar to Charlotte Wessels from Delain rather than a classically trained or operatic approach.

It's all fantastically produced and sounds very pleasant to the ears but it's basically treading ground covered by many bands before albeit very well but it really offers nothing new. The material on the album isn't strong enough throughout to justify the hour plus running time though songs such as Race Of Destiny, Hear Me Out and the title track stand out more than others. If you are a fan of female fronted symphonic metal bands then there is something for you to enjoy with this album but this style has been done better and with more originality by many other bands within the genre. 6/10

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