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Tuesday 14 March 2023

Reviews: Frozen Crown, Demons Down, Seventh Crystal, Decemberance (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Frozen Crown - Call Of The North (Scarlet Records)

Frozen Crown's fourth album in six years, sees the Italian band heading to the frozen Northlands with songs inspired by the shows Game Of Thrones and Vikings, the Norse mythology used throughout the power metal genre for years so it's well trodden path but Frozen Crown have managed to inject a bit of life into songs about Vikings and runes by adopting a similar musical style to Blind Guardian where the rampant speed metal riffs are offset with fireside folk, opener and title track along with Black Heart both reminding me of Blind Guardian. They have also used lots of cinematic orchestration and choirs, all three of these elements combining on the epic sounding One For All

The vocals of Giada 'Jade' Etro are powerful and soar well without relying on the soprano classically trained style that so many bands employ, her leads are offset by the gruffer voice of Federico Modelli, he shares guitar duties with Fabiola 'Sheena' Bellomo the duo shredding and soloing their way through the songs with a modern rougher style of riffs on In A Moment as well as the acoustics on tracks such as the beginning of Victorious. A track like In A Moment or Now Or Never also features the galloping rhythms of bassist Francesco 'Ikki' Zof and drummer Niso Tomasini. Power/speed/symphonic metal call it what you want but fans of bands like Battle Beast will find much to like on Call Of The North. 7/10

Demon's Down - I Stand (Frontiers Music Srl)

A Chilean, an Italian and some American veterans walk into a recording studio. No it's not the beginning of a terrible joke it's the line up of new band Demons Down. Fronted by the husky voice of former The Voice Chile and Sinners Blood singer James Robledo and the guitars of Italian gothic metal artists Francesco Savino (False Memories) Demons Down is a place where European and American hard rock meet. 

It's a talent and experience exchange really as these two up-and-comers are joined by veterans such as guitarist Jimi Bell (House Of Lords/Autograph), drummer Ken Mary (ex-HoL, Alice Cooper) and bassist Chuck Wright (Quiet Riot, ex-HoL). With these three members it's no wonder the band are described as sounding like early House Of Lords stripped of a lot of the modern trappings this is prime 80's/90's hard rock that was excellent but got overlooked in the wake of grunge. 

Songs like Down In A Hole feature lots of big keys from producer Alessandro Del Vecchio, while Book Of Love brings more keys and huge hooks. It's on Stranded In The Middle Of Nowhere that they have their rock chops while songs like To The Edge Of The World take things more towards a ballad. Melodic rock that's done with slickness and experience Demons Down could be a big hit for Frontiers. 8/10

Seventh Crystal - Wonderland (Frontiers Music Srl)

Having only been formed in 2021 Swedes Seventh Crystal return with their second full length record Wonderland, seeing them build on their debut with a much more defined identity the addition of a second guitarist and keyboardist to broadens their sonic horizon. Seventh Crystal are Scandinavian melodic rock/AOR with a huge nod to bands such as H.E.A.T with massive choruses, twinkling keyboards and bright layered guitars on tracks such as Someday or the rocking Rodeo

Kristian Fyhr's vocals brilliant here as the are throughout the record. The use of dual guitars are also used well on the title track while the modern sound comes through on Hollow, reminding you that Seventh Crystal are not a retro act, they play a type of melodic rock that is very much in now. Having evolved from their debut album, Wonderland is Seventh Crystal consolidating their sound to maximum impact. 7/10

Decemberance - Implosions (Razorbleed Productions)

This Athenian death doom band Decemberance have been around since 1994 which puts them as a contemporary to the Peaceville Three but if course in Greece not the UK. Their music is loud, long and cathartic this most recent studio album, their third overall, continues that trend with just 3 songs but a 70 minute runtime. 

The powerful metronomic beat of Yiannis Filippaios guides the 24 minute opener Scaffold, shifting into blast beats before going back to the slower doom crawl. Filippaios also writes the lyrics, dealing with the way Pressure and death deals with the human mind. His barked vocals telling tail of anguish and trauma. Chris Markopoulos and Sakis Vlachakis are the riff machines of the band, distorted and desolate as Aggelos Malisovas links with Filippaios to guide the monolithic pace. 

The album has some additional cello/piano from Iliana Koretsi and keys/samples from producer Manos Kousourlis which makes for more atmospheric elements on these audio journeys. If you're not a fan of long songs then I'd say stay away but these three songs are a great indicator of what Decemberance are all about. 7/10

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