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Monday 13 September 2021

Reviews: Anette Olzon, Ethereal Sin, Tuesday The Sky, Black Stone Machine (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Anette Olzon - Strong (Frontiers Music Srl)

Clearly Anette Olzon's experience of being in The Dark Element with guitarist Jani Liimatainen, was a good one as her new solo album Strong is a symphonic metal masterclass from the ex-Nightwish vocalist. It will of course be compared to her 2014 debut Shine, which was lighter and more introspective. Strong is neither of those things, it's a harder edged, with border musical scope along with a much higher level of toughness. Anette shows the quality of her voice throughout this album, she's a bloody brilliant singer, not just that but a bloody brilliant metal singer, no matter what Nightwish fans may think. She brings a poppier style of course but Olzon seems to have hit the nadir of her voice on this album, her range alone is worth the price of admission, check out Catcher Of My Dreams for evidence. 

Magnus Karlsson handles the bulk of the songwriting with Olzon, the Primal Fear guitarist/producer cranking out the riffs with Anders K├Âllerfors behind the kit. The addition of Johan Husgafvel's growling vocals adds another element to this record, mixing well with Olzon when a bit more aggression is needed, on Who Can Save Them especially. Parasite is a galloping heavy rocker, as is twitching opener Bye Bye Bye which reminds me of Delain, while Sad Lullaby is a ballad with some stirring strings and hint of Queen. It's one of the few slower songs on Strong as the majority of the album anthemic modern symphonic/melodic metal. With numerous bands doing this style of music, Anette's pedigree is far higher than most of them, her voice is brilliant and she has proved, to everyone, if she needed to, that she is a fantastic metal singer and Strong is an excellent metal record. 8/10   

Ethereal Sin - Time Of The Requiem Part 1 (King Records)

As soon as I saw Japanese symphonic black metal horde Ethereal Sin at HRH Metal a few years ago, I was mesmerized, it was either the best or the worst thing I had ever seen, but my God it was entertaining! The face painted, enrobed five piece play furiously fast black metal, singing of legends, paganism and fantasy but with swathes of orchestrations and a permanent violin player to bring some of the traditional sounds of their Japanese heritage. Based in the style of Dimmu Borgir but with more strings Time Of The Requiem Part 1 is their fifth full length album once again lead by the vicious vocal stylings of founding member Yama Darkblaze and they aren't going to mellow out on this one Beyond Love And Hate is a cacophonous beginning to the album shifting through several phases, almost as if to say "this is what we do!" as loudly as possible. 

Like A Garuda brings a more melodeath sound favoured by Children Of Bodom, with power metal style speed and synths, we stay here for Into The Misty Rain the drumming moving at lightspeed dragging everything else along with it. Once they get up to speed on Like A Garuda there's no stopping them, the battle metal sound coming again on Dash To Across The Sea And Sky as they have progressive/symphonic sounds that remind me of Wintersun. The cvlt members of the audience will probably dismiss Ethereal Sin as a 'black metal' band due to their extensive use of symphonic sounds but I enjoyed this record for what it is. 7/10

Tuesday The Sky - The Blurred Horizon (Metal Blade Records)

Started in 2017, Tuesday The Sky is Fates Warning/OSI guitarist Jim Matheos' solo project built around songs that wouldn't fit in any of his other projects. He returns with another record from this project again playing a mix of ambient and electronica, expressive guitar playing and synths projecting wide cinematic soundscapes as well as intricate post-rock shimmers. Unfortunately despite the present of Gavin Harrison on drums, this record for me is boring as all hell, it never really goes anywhere and while many may say, but you love when acts such as Steven Wilson move into ambient sounds, I will say yes I do but an entire album of this stuff is the reason I don't listen to bands like Sigur Ros. For me it's like the music that is played in coffee shops. I respect Jim Matheos, I do. But this album had me falling asleep. 3/10

Black Stone Machine - One With The Horde EP (Self Released)

Athenian grunge/stoner band released their debut full length in September last year, a year later they have followed it up with this three track piece of Southern rock influenced heavy riffing. The best track out of the three is Rickenbastard 4004 which is a rager of a track in the middle of the EP. Bookended by the dark, acoustic, country style of Bounty Hunter which follows it and preceded by the punchy Rebel Utopia. The EP features some help from Planet Of Zeus' Babis Papanikolaou and Vaggelis Karzis from Full House B.C but it's more of the Southern flavoured blues rocking from Black Stone Machine that made their debut a very good listen. You have to think this was a lockdown creation but it's a timely reminder of Black Stone Machine. 7/10

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