Terra Incognita: Fragments Of A Ruined Mind (Symmetric Records)
The second record from Terra Incognita is the debut release on Bob Katsionis' new record label, the record label is the natural realisation of his Sound Symmetry Studios and the Progressive Vision Group so he can handle all of his signed acts musical and visual needs. The multi-faceted Katsionis also seems to have a keen ear for bands as well, Terra Incognita are a band with straightforward heavy metal sound, it's both progressive and conceptual but has a tough sound that reminds me of Iced Earth, there is a twin axe attack, a ballsy bass sound, galloping drums and Billy Vass' vocals have Matt Barlow's rough but powerful style.
As I've said the record is conceptual with lyrics dealing with the lead character Strahd, it's a story of betrayal, love, loyalty, death and eternal damnation so yet again brings to mind Iced Earth. The songs are heavy and melodic, most are part thrash, part classic metal, they aren't averse to a ballad as Day Without Loss shows but mostly heavy metal wins the day. Bob's production is ideal and the band are very talented, for fans of tough but melodic power metal Fragments Of Ruined Mind is a formidable debut for the Symmetric Records label. 7/10
Sorrows Path: Touching Infinity (Pure Steel Records)
The Touching Infinity from Sorrows Path is the latest chapter in the Athenian band's evolution from traditional doom metal into a more epic style of metal that sits on the edge of power metal. With a hint of Candlemass to their music Sorrows Path open their fourth record with Fantasies Will Never Die which has heavy riffs from the outset, Kostas Salomidis and George Vichos' guitars take from Iommi school of riffage, it's big riffs throughout but suffers with the same problem the previous record had, at 10 tracks it does a get a little samey as thing progress and I'm still not totally won over by Angelos Ioannidis' voice. That's not to say that the band are terrible, in fact it's the opposite, I just find that it can be a little protracted at times meaning it can get a little monotonous. 6/10
Caelestia: Thanatopsis (EMP Label Group/SPV)
The second record from the Athens metal band continues with the style established on their debut it's symphonic extreme metal with a dual vocal assault that sees Nick Palyvos giving the guttural roars as Dimitra Vintsou soars with melodic classically trained virtuosity, check out a track such as Travel To Eternity and Underlife which both are the perfect examples of the polarity of their voices. Musically the band are your typical symphonic death metal with rampaging riffs, swathes of orchestral passages and even some traditional instrumentation on Dancing With The Demons.
Broad in scope and played with a technical ferocity Thanatopsis has moments of brilliance but also a few of the songs do drag a little staying to close to the middle of genre boundaries. The performances are all very good with the guitars, bass and drums bludgeoning you at every turn, this is extreme metal with vein of Epica running through it. Good stuff. 7/10
Chrysilia: Et In Arcadia Ego (Lion Music)
Et In Arcadia Ego translates to A Grand Journey To Arcadia and it's the full length debut album from Athens ban Chrysilia. I was astounded by this records' sound, the production is incredible and it's needed due to the records epic nature, cinematic and grandiose it's a debut album where the band have thrown everything into it. Equal parts Blind Guardian, Epica and Within Temptation the band are led by vocalist Chryso Stamatopoulou who has classically/jazz trained background but fell in love with heavy metal citing Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son as her favourite album, By The Gates Of Ypsus opens the record in thrusting style with a Maiden harmonic guitar solo, which is mightily impressive due to the band only having one guitarist in Teo Ross who is helped out by Bob Katsionis, who also produces, mixes, masters etc (are there any albums he isn't on).
As I've said the band have symphonic sound to them with John Matzakos keys and synths propelled by the riffs of Jim Ramses (bass) and Simon Kay (drums) who are at full pelt on the folky The Menalon Trail which brings to mind Turisas and Korpiklaani with it's galloping riffs like a longship (or in this case Trireme) rowing into battle, they slow down with Desperate Wings a heroic ballad that is driven by a lyre and the viola of Odysseas once again exhibiting their folk metal styling even more. Three tracks into the album and you're already breathless Arcadia brings some male vocals while the title track is stirring instrumental that is pure Hans Zimmer.
It's a record that deserves to be played through a huge set of speakers to really appreciate every facet of the orchestral mastery. as with Procol Harem much of the composition for this record was done by someone who is not part of the main band, Elias Pero is the executive producer, arranger and songwriter while also adding additional keys and soundscapes it's his creative spark that feeds the majestic music conjured by these virtuoso musicians. Et In Arcadia Ego is a great record for those that love stirring symphonic folk-influenced metal. 9/10