Orion's Reign: Scores Of War (Pride & Joy Music)
Power metal to me isn't a guilty pleasure, it's a genuine pleasure some of my favourite bands are chest beating, sword wielding, dragon slaying metal warriors. So with further ado please welcome back to the arena Athens based cinematic power metal band Orion's Reign, ten years on from their first record they have returned with what could possibly be one of the power metal albums of the year. I'll say now it over-blown and it is epic, it features choirs, chants, guest vocalists, huge orchestrations and is wrapped in brilliant cover of fantasy art that sets it firmly in the Rhapsody mould. The pomp of Elder Blood kicks off the album with a marching stomp and flutes as the drums and impressive vocals of Brazilian singer Daniel Vasconcelos break the sound barrier with a scream heard around the world. His classic power metal style of melodic clean vocals suit the galloping metal brought by the rest of the band.
His Elder Blood progresses the orchestral elements swell as the rhythm section thunder like the Horses of the Æsir and solos slice and dice with the accuracy of war axes. Following the stomping opening the pace stays at warpspeed with the familiar tonsils of Tim 'Ripper' Owens duetting with Vasconcelos, the blast beats of Noel Kardaris keep coming with furious accuracy meaning that Together We March is another speedy number that once again explodes into yet more superior soloing from Michael Batistatos the band's lead guitarist and bass player. It's not all super speed madness though there are some fist pumping mid-paced metal anthems though The Gravewalker is one such track which uses the backing choirs to great effect giving it a heroic feel, as the traditional Greek folk sounds come through on An Adventure Song. The album is a rousing, grandiose record which will appeal to fans of Rhapsody, but also Sabaton and Kamelot, fleshed out by the wall of keys from Kirk Gazouleas (check out ballad Withering Heart) and guitarist George Thanasoglou who drives the riffage on Warrior's Pride.
As the album rounds out it's tales of battle, might and victory we get the neo-classical The Last Stand that features vocals from Mark Boals and a keyboard solo from Bob Katsionis as it closes out with the classic Manowar sound of Ride To War, this album has every style of muscular power metal I love and having listened to this album numerous times it gets better with every spin, glorious! 9/10
Humanity Zero: Proselytism (Satanath Records)
Fifth album from Athenian miseralists and it's a heavy load, nihilistic, slumbering doom metal that sits comfortably with our own My Dying Bride. Humanity Zero obviously are not the happiest of folks. Recorded just by three men because Humanity Zero is the creation of Dimons Night who plays all instruments with the exception of vocals and lead guitar. The are brutal with death screams which during songs such as the acoustic laced The Black Goat In The Woods With A Thousand Young sit at odds with the musical backing, until the organ-drenched riffs blast out of your speakers again, it's not all riffs either though these are intricate compositions that contain organs and acoustics but also orchestrations on The God Of Bloody Tongue. It's despairing and terrifying as the elongated songs creep along like a giant lizard through a city landscape, if heavy doom metal is your thing then crank the volume and let the fug envelop you. 7/10
Show Your Face: III (Straight From The Heart Records)
Evolving from the aggressive side of music Show Your Face are modern day extreme metal band that take their sound from Architects, Gojira and Lamb Of God, it's a record that's got massive breakdown grooves (Proud For Nothing), technical thrash riffs (Empty Thrones) and roaring vocals, they come from Karditsa right in the heart of Greece but their sound is a lot more American, bleeding aggression out of every pore the rage of frontman/bassist Huge echoes down the mic as he locks in for the thick bottom ends with drummer Vis. Having shared the stage with Sodom, Rotting Christ, Septic Flesh, Nightrage and Caliban they've had a lot of chances to hone this violent assault and it's got the precision of a sniper rifle. If you like your metal filled with bile that's ready to pit too then Show Your Face and get rowdy. 7/10
Spinball: Shadows (B-Otherside Records)
Nikos Karatzidis (vocals), Panagiotis Tsevrenis (guitar), Giannis Vrettakos (bass), Konstantinos Mavrantzas (keys), Pantelis Chandris (drums) make up Greek alt rockers Spinball, with former bassist Giannis Vrettakos still the bands lyricist. This album was released in 2015 originally so I'm not sure if this is re-release but we get what we get at this blog. It seems that Spinball have probably listened to too much Queens Of The Stone Age as their second album has the same psychedelic desert sound as Homme's main band. Now it's an ok album but like the weaker QOSTA records it's got one or two big hitters on it but the album itself is all a bit samey after a while. If you're planning a night in with some mind altering substances then Shadows is worth a spin. 6/10