Prospekt: The Illuminated Sky (Sensory Records)
Oxford natives Prospekt's second album is a revelation. It's their first with singer Michael Morris and he really has an incredible voice, high and powerful he soars above the top quality progressive metal. The band sit in the American style of prog metal with Dream Theater and Symphony X the main references, there is also influences of Euro Prog/Power band such as Circus Maximus and Pagans Mind.
These are some of my favourite bands so naturally I will like this record however like is not the word I would to describe it, I love this record it's chock full of cinematic progressive metal, in fact 10 songs of it, complexity blends with simplicity and it is a wonderful thing. Lee Lulands guitar prowess is up there with Pertucci and Romeo technically brilliant but with passionate, classically trained expressionism.
You can't even hear the join when Greg Howe unleashes his six string fury on Alien Makers Of Discord. Lee is not the only member of the band with virtuosity as Phil Wicker and Blake Richardson play the chunky, heavy rhythms of modern prog, it's Rox Capriotti's keys provide the cinematic soundscapes and all together the band are simply stunning.
Just check out Cosmic Emissary, Titan, the powerful Akaibara and the epic finale of Where Masters Fall which features Dragonforce's Marc Hudson. The Illuminated Sky is a stunning album, before now Prospekt have never really come on my radar but mark my words I will be following this band closely from now on. A perfect progressive metal album. 10/10
Galderia: Return Of The Cosmic Men (Massacre Records)
Galderia play bouncy symphonic power metal, the type the Germans do perfectly, Galderia though are not German they come from France and have had a potted history only releasing their debut album in 2012 despite being around since 2009. Clearly they take their time as this is only their second record. Return Of The Cosmic Men is a galloping slice of power metal with the rapid fire riffs and orchestral synths of modern day Helloween or Blind Guardian with High Up In The Air, Shining Unity, Legions Of Light and the folky Celestial Harmony are the obvious examples.
They mix up their traditional power metal with more varied sounds on tracks such as the rockier Blue Aura, the electronic thump of Living Forevermore and the power balladry of Wake Up The World, what also sets them apart is that guitarists Seb Chabot, Tom Schmitt and bassist Bob Saliba all take it in turns behind the lead mic (Seb taking the majority) it's this vocal trio that really make this record interesting as they intertwine and give each song a different edge.
Away from the trio drummer J.C batters his kit and Julien embellishes it all with his soaring keys. It's evident that taking their time pays off for Galderia, Return Of The Cosmic Men is a top drawer power metal record up there with the best of the big German hitters, kudos to the men from Marseille for a great album. 8/10
Death Valley Knights: Valhalla Vintage (Self Released)
Dirty biker metal crew Death Valley Knights are an act steeped in British metal history (even though they were founded by a Texan), their sound is the sort of bass heavy leather clad metal favoured by Priest, Saxon and even Motorhead, with a debut under their belts this EP is their most recent release and it's very impressive, firstly it sounds huge, the production is colossal, as soon as the opening bars of the title track kick in your head starts nodding with the twin axe attack of Priest.
They aren't a one trick pony though it's not all Maiden/Priest/Saxon worship with Be The Grizzly having a progressive edge, Taste Of The Kill takes in 80's thrash and Shut Up And Drink is a party song written by Saxon on a boozy night out, as Jake Thorsten sings just like Biff. Death Valley Knights and Valhalla Vintage in particular is air guitar heaven, make sure they are tuned properly, crank up the volume, press play and enjoy! 8/10