Gods Of Silence: Neverland (Rock Of Angels Records)
Gods Of Silence are a melodic metal band based in a Basel, Switzerland, their musical influences are clearly audible from the off with Stratovarius, Sonata Arctica and even Edguy all equally comparable, heck I'd even go as far to say Unisonic who's Dennis Ward produced the album with his usually quality. The band are five piece with solitary guitarist meaning the bass playing is more like a rhythm guitar and the keys taking a prominent role still the band have a heaviness that is offset by their excellent melodies clean guitar solos and intricate keyboard patterns. As is only right for a band such as Gods Of Silence the quality rarely drop the orchestral Intro builds up the cinematic tension meaning Army Of Liars can kick things off with a chunky riff and drumbeat powering it but this like a lot of the record twists and turns with progressive elements creeping in here and there.
The orchestral elements continue throughout, Against The... is more AOR styled and lets Gilbi show off his vocals, they get heavier and proggier on the creeping Neverland, in fact they change styles regularly meaning the songs never repeat or grow stale from the classical touches of Full Moon (which is about Werewolfs) to the careening muscular melodies of the Iced Earth-esque Demons. Neverland is a very strong record from this Swiss metal band, for fans of progressive melodic metal it's a real treat. 8/10
Wraith: Revelation (Ice Rain Records)
Let's party like it's 1989! This was when Wraith's debut EP was released, they were hailed as the newest thing in UK melodic metal/hard rock, they had Lemmy singing back up vocals on that record and they were affiliated with both UFO and Waysted. However with many of hard rock bands facing the onslaught of grunge the band split in 1998, joining other projects or opening bars in Spain, guitarist Gregg Russell joining Tigertailz. There was demand for them to reform so reform they did for an album in 2007, since then the drummer they tapped for that release succumbed to cancer and the band stopped again.
Finally the latest chapter was written when they reformed for a one of concert in Nottingham which has led to this record, still led by Gregg and a very tight cast of musicians the band are back with an album of swaggering sleazy mid nineties hard rock, they have a touch of Motley Crue about them, mainly due to the vocals but also in their songwriting check out Under The Hammer which is the ideal track for sashaying in your leather pants and perm. The music is heavier than say acts like Little Angels, with distorted guitars the order of the day, but the band are unafraid of a ballad, Leaving Me Again is very Def Leppard-like and you'll either sing along or you'll want to stab needles in your ears, however they make up for it on No Respect which riffs like a bastard. There seems to be a lot of hype surrounding Wraith and their legacy but you're only as good as your last record and this is solid album. 7/10
Ward XVI: The Art Of Manipulation (Rock N Growl Records)
Preston act Ward XVI‘s debut album The Art Of Manipulation is a 12-track concept album telling the intraspective story of a female psychopath locked away in a high security asylum. As such it's an avant-garde theatrical record that mixes hard hitting metal with theatrical elements, think Alice Cooper and Wednesday 13 playing songs with Lordi and In This Moment and you're on the right track, layered instruments, hazy psychedelia are par for the course on Take My Hand which explodes into riff heavy thrash, this moves into the the bludgeoning title track and from here the songs become stranger, heavier and more intriguing, The Flight has a pumping synth that is reminiscent of the Mortal Kombat theme, while Crystal Ball is the music to the kind of carnival you'd read about in an R.L Stine book.
As with all concept pieces the songs tell a story with little interludes driving the narrative along, the band take the personalities of the characters with protagonist Psychoberrie on vocals, Lex Whittingham and Dr. Von Stottenstein playing guitar, Jake has drums, Min adds the keys/accordion and Beardy McStumble is the bassist, with all of them taking the roles in the storyline, it's great to hear how they all enter and are even dispatched within the concept. Ward XVI are taking their metal sound to the furthest reaches of it's capabilities, with bands such as Avatar and the aforementioned In This Moment all dabbling with the theatrical and the baroque it's great to hear a British band having the balls to attempt something different. By all accounts their live show is something else, well their recorded music ain't half bad either! 7/10