Album Review – Immortal Guardian / Psychosomatic (2021)

What’s the best thing to do during this never-ending pandemic? This talented American group has the answer to that armed with their brand new album of breathtaking Progressive Power Metal.

After winning over new audiences with their acclaimed 2018 debut full-length album Age of Revolution and touring relentlessly alongside fellow shredders such as Marty Friedman, Powerglove and Exmortus, Austin, Texas’ own Progressive Power Metal entity Immortal Guardian is back in action in 2021 with their sophomore effort, entitled Psychosomatic, offering their fans more of what they like to call “Super Metal”. As a matter of fact, as the spread of COVID-19 and the subsequent pandemic began to ensue, each member of the band retreated to their respective hometowns; guitarist and keyboardist Gabriel Guardian (also known as Gabriel Guardiola) remained in Las Vegas, Nevada, in the United States, vocalist Carlos Zema (of bands like Outworld and Heaven’s Guardian) recorded his vocals from his home in Brazil, new drummer Justin Piedimonte stayed in Montreal, Canada, and new bassist Josh Lopez remained in the band’s native Texas. With shutdowns around the world being enforced, the band completely scrapped the originally planned record that they had been working on and were heavily inspired to write and create a new thematic record about their emotions surrounding current events, with the final result being at the same time epic, bold and of course very personal to each one of those four talented musicians.

The title-track Psychosomatic beings in an imposing manner led by the whimsical keys by Gabriel, gradually evolving into a feast of Progressive Metal showcasing the high-pitched screams by Carlos (and somewhat working as an extended intro to the rest of the album), and they put the pedal to the metal in the heavy and groovy Power Metal tune Read Between the Lines, with the bass jabs by Josh adding sheer heaviness to the overall result while Carlos continues to shine on vocals. Then it’s time to enjoy this eternal lockdown together with the guys form Immortal Guardian in the multi-layered, electrifying Lockdown, with Justin dictating the pace with his intricate beats while Gabriel kicks some serious ass with both his riffs and keys, whereas featuring guest guitars by Marcelo Barbosa (of Almah and Angra), Phobia is another thunderous dosage of their fusion of Progressive and Power Metal where Gabriel, Josh and Justin are in absolute sync with their sonic weapons. And more of their intricate sounds and magical passages are offered in the epic extravaganza titled Clocks, with the keys by Gabriel generating a beautiful ambience perfect for his own piercing guitar solos.

After the short atmospheric interlude Self-isolation, let’s keep banging our heads to the sound of the Heavy Metal hurricane titled Goodbye to Farewells, featuring guest vocals by Mary Zimmer (of Helion Prime), with all band members extracting tons of adrenaline from their instruments while Mary sounds utterly bestial with her harsh roars, showcasing a different side from her work with her main band. Then in Candlelight we’re treated to a pensive, melancholic intro where Josh adds his share of darkness through his bass, evolving into a more traditional hybrid of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock (albeit not as entertaining nor dynamic as the rest of the album, though, going on for too long), and more of their refined piano notes permeate the air in Find a Reason, a more gripping ballad than the previous song, sounding dense from start to finish and with Carlos passionately declaiming the song’s words while Justin pounds his drums flawlessly. Finally, Gabriel once again brings forward his deep passion for shredding in New Day Rising, a spot-on depiction of their Progressive Power Metal, offering many breaks, variations, complex passages and the usual speed and energy of Power Metal for the delight of admirers of the genre.

It’s quite easy to join the army of immortals spearheaded by Gabriel, Carlos, Josh and Justin, as their newborn spawn is available from an array of locations including the band’s own BandCamp and webstore, the M-Theory Audio webstore (in CD and limited purple LP format), the Plastic Head webstore (also in CD and limited purple LP format), or simply click HERE for all places where you can buy or stream the album. Also, let’s show our support to those talented metallers by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, by subscribing to their YouTube channel and by streaming more of their music on Spotify. Psychosomatic is undoubtedly the perfect example of how we should face the COVID-19 pandemic, turning our fears, anxiety and hopelessness into ass-kicking metal music like what Immortal Guardian were capable of doing (perhaps not in such majestic way, of course), showcasing once again the positive energy Heavy Metal can bring to us all even during the most difficult times of our lives. Stay home, stay safe, and rock on!

Best moments of the album: Lockdown, Phobia and Goodbye to Farewells.

Worst moments of the album: Candlelight.

Released in 2021 M-Theory Audio

Track listing
1. Psychosomatic 5:33
2. Read Between the Lines 6:01
3. Lockdown 4:12
4. Phobia 6:13
5. Clocks 5:12
6. Self-isolation 0:39
7. Goodbye to Farewells 5:50
8. Candlelight 5:24
9. Find a Reason 7:00
10. New Day Rising 5:56

Band members
Carlos Zema – vocals
Gabriel Guardian – guitars, keyboards
Josh Lopez – bass
Justin Piedimonte – drums

Guest musician
Mary Zimmer – harsh vocals on “Goodbye to Farewells”
Marcelo Barbosa – guitars on “Phobia”

Album Review – Winter’s Verge / The Ballad of James Tig (2020)

One of Cyprus’ most successful metal bands returns with their most ambitious project to date, telling the story of a man who lost his family at sea seeking revenge against a sea monster.

One of Cyprus’ most successful metal bands of all time, Nicosia-based Symphonic Power Metal act Winter’s Verge has been on a roll since their inception in 2005, having released so far four studio albums and three EP’s, and building a strong reputation as one of the most exciting live acts in Cyprus with a powerful blend of Epic, Melodic and Symphonic Metal. Currently comprised of George Charalambous on vocals, Deniel Pavlovsky and Savvas Parperi on the guitars, Miguel Trapezaris on bass, Stavry Michael on keyboards and Danny Koullis Georgiou Conway on drums, Winter’s Verge’s music is highly conceptual and takes place within a mythological realm called Tiberon, with all songs and lyrics allowing fans to explore the themes, characters and locations for their own interpretation. Now in 2020, after three years in the making, the band is ready to stun us all once again with The Ballad of James Tig, their fifth full-length opus and their most ambitious projects to date, telling the story of James Tig, a man who lost his family at sea when he was a young boy and had set his life-long dream to find the legendary Killagorak, a sea monster who he believes was what killed his family when he was very young, therefore seeking revenge.

With a concept and lyrics by renowned local author and playwright Frixos Masouras, featuring a classic artwork designed by George Vasiliou, mixed and produced by vocalist George Charalambous himself, mastered by George Eracleous at Oneirism Studios, and featuring guest vocalist Teodora Stoyanova Freya (known for her work with Bulgarian Viking Metal band Freija and with a metal project called Magic of the North) playing the part of Nina in the story, The Ballad of James Tig is not just another concept storyline, but a much bolder project by Winter’s Verge with a huge sounding scope and symphonic sound, cementing the band’s name as one of the most exciting and innovative metal bands from the entire Eastern Mediterranean region.

Get ready to embark on a musical voyage together with Winter’s Verge, beginning with the symphonic and serene opening aria It Begins, with George taking the lead with his soulful vocals while his bandmates embellish the airwaves with their respective instruments, whereas the keys by Stavry and all background orchestrations are soon joined by the pounding Power Metal drums by Danny in the heavier and faster A Thousand Souls, where the band’s guitar duo Deniel and Savvas are on fire with their riffs and solos, also presenting tons of breaks and variations to make things even more impactful. Sounding very theatrical from the very first second, Dead Reckoning is a lot more symphonic than metallic, which obviously means the focus is on its melody rather than its heaviness, while George does a great job once again on vocals, and featuring Teodora as a guest vocalist for the first time we have the charming and enfolding Timeless, with the delicate piano notes by Stavry adding an extra touch of finesse to this beautiful ballad by Winter’s Verge.

Killagorak (yes, the monster itself) is a two-minute imposing, epic interlude that will embrace you and prepare your senses for the breathtaking I Accept, starting in full force spearheaded by Danny and his intricate and powerful beats while Deniel and Savvas keep slashing their strings in great fashion, once again with Teodora and George making a dynamic vocal duo for our total delight. Then we have Blood on the Foam, a pirate-inspired Metal Opera where the Progressive Power Metal played by Winter’s Verge is flawlessly intertwined with pure symphonic passages, not to mention how thunderous the bass jabs by Miguel and the drums by Danny sound; and we’re treated to one final round of Teodora’s gorgeous, operatic vocals in The Sea, offering our ears eight minutes of dark passages, introspective vocals and crushing riffs. In the end, you’ll feel absolutely mesmerized by such detailed and thrilling song, before The Ballad of James Tig, a true ballad of the seas, closes the album on a high note, with its semi-acoustic guitars and tribal beats permeating the air and putting a climatic and melancholic conclusion to the story told by Winter’s Verge.

You can get in touch with such distinguished band on Facebook and subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their stylish music and official videos, but of course in order to show your utmost support to underground Symphonic Metal you should definitely purchase The Ballad of James Tig from your favorite retailer such as Nuclear Blast, Season of Mist, EMP, Apple Music and Amazon, as well as stream the album in full on Spotify as soon as it’s released in the coming weeks. It’s truly mesmerizing the way Winter’s Verge told the tale of James Tig in their new album, uniting music and storytelling in a compelling way and, above all that, providing us fans of heavy music a very good reason to sail the unruly waters of the mythological realm if Tiberon together with James Tig himself, and obviously with our six talented Cypriot metallers.

Best moments of the album: A Thousand Souls, I Accept and The Sea.

Worst moments of the album: Dead Reckoning.

Released in 2020 Pride & Joy Music

Track listing
1. It Begins 6:57
2. A Thousand Souls 4:57
3. Dead Reckoning 4:41
4. Timeless 6:57
5. Killagorak 2:11
6. I Accept 5:03
7. Blood on the Foam 6:06
8. The Sea 7:59
9. The Ballad of James Tig 4:07

Band members
George Charalambous – vocals
Deniel Pavlovsky – guitars
Savvas Parperi – guitars
Miguel Trapezaris – bass
Stavry Michael – keyboards
Danny Koullis Georgiou Conway – drums

Guest musician
Teodora Stoyanova Freya – female vocals on “Timeless”, “I Accept” and “The Sea”

Album Review – Manticora / To Live to Kill to Live (2020)

Let the Progressive Power and Thrash Metal by this Denmark-based unity mesmerize you during the 63 minutes of music found in the second part of their horror novel-inspired concept album.

Hvidovre, Denmark’s own Progressive Power/Thrash Metal unity Manticora is back in action in 2020 with their ninth full-length opus, entitled To Live to Kill to Live, the follow-up to the critically acclaimed To Kill to Live to Kill, released in 2018. This is the second part of a grandiose concept based on their 334-page horror novel (which by the way can be purchased HERE), mixed by Jacob Hansen (Primal Fear, U.D.O., Destruction) and featuring guest musicians form bands like Allegiance Reign, Defacing God and Withering Surface, all embraced by a comic book-inspired artwork by Danish artist David Troest. To Live to Kill to Live offers the listener 63 minutes of undisputed metal music, showcasing not only all the dexterity by frontman Lars F. Larsen, gutarists Kristian Larsen and Stefan Johansson, bassist Kasper Gram and drummer Lawrence Dinamarca, but also their creativity and precision in uniting Heavy Metal with a thrilling storytelling. “It all started out as a crazy and almost impossible idea… A book and two albums… I mean… come on? Today I’m so proud of the final result and I still can’t understand that we actually did it,” commented Kristian about the band’s newborn spawn, inviting us all to join them in this breathtaking adventure in the “Land of the Rising Sun”.

A cinematic intro ignites the 14-minute aria entitled Katana – The Moths and the Dragonflies/Katana – Mud, quickly exploding into modern and electrifying Heavy Metal where Lawrence is absolutely bestial on drums, sounding like a hybrid between the music by Trivium and Stratovarius, and with Kristian and Stefan delivering sheer stamina from their riffs and solos. Furthermore, the storyline progresses flawlessly together with the massive wall of sounds and all breaks and variations blasted by Manticora, building an instant connection with the Japanese-inspired bridge To Nanjing, bringing peace to our minds and soothing our souls before those Danish metallers explode our senses with the imposing The Farmer’s Tale, Pt. 3 – Eaten by the Beasts, where Kasper and Lawrence bring tons of groove and intricacy to the music while Lars keeps declaiming the song’s dark words in great fashion, not to mention the guitar duo’s wicked solos. Then it’s time for a Groove and Heavy Metal feast entitled Slaughter in the Desert Room, where both guitars and Kasper’s bass jabs generate a rumbling atmosphere perfect for Lars to fire more of his trademark vocals. In other words, this amazing song couldn’t have sounded bolder nor more epic than what it already is.

Following such insane composition, phantasmagorical keys give an extra touch of evil and darkness to Through the Eyes of the Killer – Filing Teeth, a true Metal Opera where Kristian and Stefan take the lead with their sinister guitars while Lawrence blasts sluggish, Doom Metal-inspired beats; followed by Katana – Death of the Meaning of Life, leaning towards classic Scandinavian Melodic Death and Power Metal and at the same time sounding as thunderous as it can be, with Lars giving a lesson in passion and feeling while his bandmates don’t stop crushing their instruments not even for a single second for our total delectation. And Tasered/Ice Cage is another explosion of modern-day Melodic Death Metal with both Kristian and Stefan kicking some serious ass with their strident, piercing guitar lines, always in absolute sync with Lawrence’s intricate beats.

Then serene, acoustic guitars intertwined with crisp riffs in a Dream Theater-ish style ignite the pleasant Goodbye Tina, keeping the album at a high level of adrenaline and with tons of harmony flowing from Lars’ vocal lines, before Manticora come ripping once again with Tasered/Removal, a heavy and rumbling tune where Kasper does a superb job with his metallic bass, being perfect for cracking your neck headbanging to their solid fusion of Groove and Power Metal; whereas the atmospheric instrumental bridge Stalin Strikes will expand your senses and gently flow into a Japanese-spoken narrative titled Ten Thousand Cold Nights, advancing the storyline into the closing tune Katana – Beheaded, sounding and feeling imposing and vibrant form the very first second, therefore putting a climatic end to the album with all band members being on fire, in special the band’s unstoppable guitar duo and the talented Lawrence, while Lars continues to give life to the story through his soaring vocals.

If you haven’t got in touch with the music by Manticora yet, go check what those Danish metallers are up to on Facebook and on Instagram, listen to more of their music (including the first part of the story released in 2018) on Spotify, and grab a copy of To Live to Kill to Live from their own BandCamp page, from the Sound Pollution webstore, from the ViciSolum Productions’ BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon. In summary, we must all admit Manticore have definitely outdone themselves in their new album, sounding tighter and even more melodic and incendiary than in their previous album, and concluding their epic Japanese saga on a high and utterly metallic note. After setting the bar so high with To Live to Kill to Live, what’s next for Manticora? Well, that’s something only time will tell, but until then we have a lot of high-end metal music to enjoy thanks to one of the best bands hailing from the Danish scene.

Best moments of the album: Katana – The Moths and the Dragonflies/Katana – Mud, Slaughter in the Desert Room and Katana – Death of the Meaning of Life.

Worst moments of the album: Goodbye Tina.

Released in 2020 ViciSolum Productions

Track listing
1. Katana – The Moths and the Dragonflies/Katana – Mud 14:40
2. To Nanjing 1:57
3. The Farmer’s Tale, Pt. 3 – Eaten by the Beasts 4:23
4. Slaughter in the Desert Room 6:11
5. Through the Eyes of the Killer – Filing Teeth 4:59
6. Katana – Death of the Meaning of Life 5:25
7. Tasered/Ice Cage 5:45
8. Goodbye Tina 5:54
9. Tasered/Removal 3:16
10. Stalin Strikes 2:36
11. Ten Thousand Cold Nights 0:51
12. Katana – Beheaded 7:26

Band members
Lars F. Larsen – vocals
Kristian Larsen – guitars
Stefan Johansson – guitars
Kasper Gram – bass
Lawrence Dinamarca – drums

Album Review – NovaReign / Legends (2018)

A fast, melodic and intricate album that perfectly represents the new age of Progressive Power Metal, telling stories in musical literature and speaking to a generation influenced by epic fantasy tales, comic books and video games.

Influenced by bands like Iron Maiden and Dream Theater, to Dragonforce and Angra, American metallers  NovaReign represent the new age of Progressive Power Metal, telling stories in musical literature and speaking to a generation influenced by epic fantasy tales, comic books and video games. Formed in 2010 in the city of Los Angeles, California, in the United States, NovaReign are not only inspired by the aforementioned classic metal acts, but they also incorporate elements from a multitude of non-metal styles such as Jazz, Funk and EDM (Electronic Dance Music) to their high-octane music, adding a little extra flavor to their already exciting compositions.

The band has been steadily and surely building a buzz and reputation for themselves in recent years, becoming a fixture with energy-abounding live shows filled with nonstop shredding guitar interplay and powerful traditional metal vocals, altogether culminating in the release of their debut full-length album this year, the nonstop metal attack titled Legends, an hour-plus of shred-tastic, over-the-top, epic power and progressive metal music. Not only that, the album art also transpires epicness, as explained by guitarist Danny Nobel. “The art was based off an idea I had pitched to have giant statues of god-like figures in an astral plain,” explains Danny. “Our bassist, Moises, took the idea and created the drawings you’ve seen so far. The characters are all based on warriors and mythical beings, which represent themes of courage, heroism, strength and virtue. These are characteristics and themes of the overall album. That along with a cosmic decor.”

The opening tune, titled Call On The Storm, brings forward progressiveness flowing from the very first second from the melodic guitar lines by Danny and his bandmate Balmore Lemus, gradually becoming a Power Metal feast led by the high-pitched vocals by frontman David Marquez. And the action doesn’t stop at all, with gripping solos and faster-than-a-bullet beats keeping the electricity at a really high level. Then get ready for 10 minutes of pure Melodic Heavy Metal in Mace Of A Fist, where Danny and Balmore are on fire with their Dragonforce-inspired riffs and solos while drummer Paul Contreras keeps blasting furious and precise beats, not to mention the second half of the song which is that type of sonic “masturbation” fans of Melodic and Progressive Metal truly love. And let’s say their “metal masturbation” goes on in another classic Power Metal extravaganza titled Beyond The Cold, presenting a galloping rhythm crafted by bassist Moises Gavez together with Paul, perfect for David to blast sheer epicness through his vocals and to Danny and Balmore to deliver some insane guitar solos.

The following song in Legends, the excellent Heavy Heart, reminds me of the sound by some of the best metal bands from Japan such as Moi Dix Mois, Versailles, Anthem and especially Saber Tiger and Loudness, being fast, intricate, electrifying and an absolute orgasm for fans of the genre. And have I mentioned their guitar solos are simply fantastic? Anyway, moving on with their sonic onrush, Skyline feels a lot less intense than its predecessors, but still presenting the band’s characteristic sonority. All band members are precise with their instruments, providing David all he needs to powerfully declaim the song’s lyrics, with the only issue being that the song goes on for too long with its almost 9 minutes of music.

The sound of rain and an acoustic guitar set the tone in the bridge To Wander The Stars, before NovaRegin return with another metallic, melodic and inspiring tune entitled The Builder. Led by the rhythmic drums by Paul, the song presents the band’s guitar duo simply slashing their strings mercilessly, therefore generating a piercing but very enjoyable sound in the end. In Black As The Dead Of Night we’re treated to a 9-minute onslaught of Power Metal with Danny and Belmore being two shredding and soloing machines, with the work done by Paul on drums being outstanding. Moreover, despite being as long as “Skyline”, it has a lot more flavor and punch, maintaining the energy flowing until the end. And lastly, the title-track Legends brings tons of progressiveness through the band’s intricate riffs and beats, as well as the awesome bass punches by Moises. Put differently, it’s a heavier and more melodic version of Dream Theater with hints of Iron Maiden, which means that if you’re a musician and into Power Metal, this song has everything you crave in heavy music.

In case you think my words are not detailed enough to describe the music by NovaReign, you can enjoy the band doing a really nice track by track breakdown on YouTube, and after enjoying such interesting video you should definitely go check what NovaReign are up to on Facebook, and purchase Legends through their official BandCamp page, through the M-Theory Audio webshop, on iTunes, on Amazon, and in other retailers like Target, Adipocere Records and DeepDiscount. And there you have the perfect (and very intricate and melodic) soundtrack for your most epic adventures, how about that?

Best moments of the album: Call On The Storm, Beyond The Cold, Heavy Heart and Black As The Dead Of Night.

Worst moments of the album: Skyline.

Released in 2018 M-Theory Audio

Track listing
1. Call On The Storm 6:58
2. Mace Of A Fist 10:10
3. Beyond The Cold 5:58
4. Heavy Heart 5:09
5. Skyline 8:56
6. To Wander The Stars 2:24
7. The Builder 5:22
8. Black As The Dead Of Night 8:44
9. Legends 9:25

Band members
David Marquez – vocals
Danny Nobel – guitars
Balmore Lemus – guitars
Moises Gavez – bass
Paul Contreras – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Amanda Somerville

I hide you, I find you, I catch your fall…  I’ll be there when the lights go out…

She has already been involved with so many distinct bands and projects it feels like she’s a 100-year old veteran in heavy music, when in fact she’s just about to turn 39 years old. I’m talking about the unstoppable American vocalist Amanda Somerville, our metal chick of the month who’s not only a singer and songwriter, but also a vocal coach, being known primarily for her work with several renowned European Symphonic Metal bands such as Edguy, Avantasia, Epica, Kamelot and After Forever, and having also produced two solos albums and two solo EP’s so far, as well as a wide range of more underground acts like Aina, Trillium and Exit Eden. also, there are countless albums and songs from other artists in the world of heavy music where you can find the stunning Amanda delivering her beautiful vocal notes, only proving how professional she is and how much other musicians admire her talent and skills as a vocalist. Having said that, are you ready to get delightfully “lost” in the world of Amanda Somerville?

Born on March 7, 1979 in Flushing, a city in Genesee County in the U.S. state of Michigan, Amanda Somerville, whose full name is Amanda Somerville-Scharf, attended Flushing Senior High School, graduating a full year early and winning a scholarship for graduating with high honors to the University of Michigan in Flint, Michigan, where she majored in psychology. In 1999 she moved from the United States to Wolfsburg, Germany, working mainly in Germany and in the Netherlands. Her voice has a wide range, but she has said herself that her tessitura is in the alto range, and if you have no idea of what that means you can take a quick look at this short and sweet explanatory video HERE. On August 19, 2013, she announced that she was engaged to be married to After Forever’s former guitarist Sander Gommans, and the pair were married in July 2014; less than one year after their marriage, on January 8, 2015, the couple announced they were expecting their first child, who was born on July 17, 2015 and named Lana Elise Gommans, and now in January the couple and little Lana were joined by the identical twins Anya Jayne and Juliet Marlies (and you can expect to hear more from Amanda and her new babies through her official blog).

Amanda has started singing from a very early age in her life, having grown up in a very musical family where music was a very basic and essential part of life. Furthermore, not only she had that influence and inspiration at home, but she mentioned she also had very good music mentors at elementary school, learning how to read music and play the piano at a rather young age. In addition, she said she has always dreamed about becoming a musician, and that’s all she ever wanted to do. For instance, throughout her life she has always performed in talent shows, competitions and concerts, hosting karaoke, singing in cover bands and jazz combos to earn money while she was in university, and even doing some appearances as a DJ. However, albeit being famous worldwide for her participation in several metal bands and projects, Amanda said that when she started her career she was a solo artist directed to the Pop Rock genre with some American folk elements. It was only when she decided to record a single with her bass player and drummer years ago that she met German guitarist, bassist and musical producer Sascha Paeth, who at that time was related to her bass player and owned a recording studio. Both Sascha and German keyboard player and musical producer Michael “Miro” Rodenberg were at the spot, helped them set up everything and listened to them performing, until they asked Amanda if she wanted to do something together with them, opening the doors of heavy music for our stunning diva. And regarding her education in music and arts in general, she said she never really studied music in a formal way, nor was she classically trained in singing. Amanda mentioned that it was her grandmother who taught her how to read music and gave her the basic foundation that she still uses for composing until today. Furthermore, as a vocal coach she was able to work with several distinguished musicians, always being open to learn from her students and to face new challenges they might bring her, therefore growing as a musician and as a person.

Trying to list every single band and project Amanda was or is still involved in Heavy Metal might be one of the toughest tasks one can try to accomplish, as she has already written and recorded with several renowned acts like the ones mentioned in the beginning of this essay about our gorgeous American vocalist, as well as her solos releases (which by the way were primarily soft and elegant Pop Rock with some Hard Rock, folk and soul music influences) and a rock opera, among other distinct endeavors. Let’s start with her solo career, with the releases of the albums In the Beginning There Was… (2000) and Windows (2008), and the EP’s Blue Nothing (2000) and Never Alone (2003), with her upcoming album Conformity Challenged to be announced soon. You can have a listen at her softer and more graceful side in songs like I Miss America and Puzzling Rapunzel, from her debut album, and Inner Whore and Sometimes, from Windows, but that’s the lightest music you’ll find in this tribute to Amanda, as from now on it’s going to be pure heavy music flowing through her veins and vocals.

Her first venture in metal was her collaboration with German multi-instrumentalist Robert Hunecke-Rizzo (Heavens Gate, Luca Turilli, Kamelot, Rhapsody of Fire), co-writing the rock opera Aina, a Symphonic and Progressive Heavy/Power Metal project featuring a number of guest appearances including Glenn Hughes, Michael Kiske and Candice Night, where the concept and lyrics were written by Amanda herself. There was only one album released under the project, the 2003 opus Days of Rising Doom (which you can listen in its entirety HERE), and don’t expect to see anything new from Aina in the short or even long-term. After Aina, she made a similar collaboration with her husband-to-be Sander Gommans, providing vocals and lyrical concept for HDK (the acronym for Hate Death Kill), a Melodic Death/Gothic Metal project with whom she released the albums System Overload, in 2009, and Serenades of the Netherworld, in 2014. Do you want to bang your head to the music by HDK? Try the songs System Overload and Mortal Zombie, one from each release by the project, and see if you like this more ferocious side of Amanda.

Perhaps her most remarkable project to date is her partnership with the iconic German vocalist Michael Kiske (Helloween, Unisonic) on a musical project entitled Kiske/Somerville, also featuring Primal Fear’s own Mat Sinner on bass and Magnus Karlsson on guitars (who by the way are the two main songwriters of the project), and Czech drummer Veronika Lukešová. In 2010, the project released their debut self-titled album, followed by another full-length release named City of Heroes, in 2015. From their debut installment, you can enjoy on YouTube songs such as Silence and If I Had A Wish, and from City of Heroes you should take a listen at Walk on Water.

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Another very interesting project by Amanda goes by the name of Trillium, a Symphonic Metal band formed in 2011 in the Netherlands (where she currently resides), featuring some of her longtime fellow musicians Sander Gommans, Sascha Paeth and Michael “Miro” Rodenberg, having released in 2011 the full-length album Alloy. She described the music by Trillium as “more like an expedition with my musical family to explore and celebrate the metamorphosis I’ve gone through as an artist over the past several years”, while the name of the band “symbolizes a trinity because things are always showing up in 3s in my environment and there are a number of triads occurring in this project, as well”. And she went on saying that “the name of the album, Alloy, is symbolic and metaphorical. An alloy is a substance composed of two or more metals, or of a metal or metals combined with a non-metal, intimately mixed. It also means standard; quality; fineness and is an admixture, as of good with evil. I’m a Pisces, so I’m all about duality and combining known elements – sometimes opposing each other – to create something different. Though I’ve been working myself further and further into the metal scene, I still always feel the need to add an extra element to make it shine, bling, stand out”. From Alloy, you should check the song Coward, and if you like what you hear you can enjoy the full album HERE.

In 2017, Amanda joined a new project entitled Exit Eden, featuring four female singers from the rock and metal scene from four different countries, those being Clémentine Delauney (Visions of Atlantis, Serenity) from France, Marina La Torraca (Highlight Kenosis, Phantom Elite) from Brazil, newcomer Anna Brunner from Germany, and obviously Amanda Somerville. The band was conceived with the plan “to show the world that almost every classic song can be transformed into a solid metal-rock song”, a concept similar to Finland’s Northern Kings, releasing in 2017 the album Rhapsodies In Black, comprised of 11 metallic versions for some of the biggest pop and rock classics like Rihanna’s Unfaithful, Depeche Mode’s A Question Of Time, Shontelle’s Impossible, Lady Gaga’s Paparazzi, Backstreet Boys’ Incomplete, and Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse Of The Heart, with the stunning Dutch goddess Simone Simons also appearing in two songs of the album, Madonna’s Frozen, Adele’s Skyfall.

Apart from all those bands and projects, Amanda has also been involved with several iconic acts either live or as a guest musician in some of their studio albums. For instance, in 2008, she toured America with Dutch Symphonic Metal icons Epica, while Simone Simons recovered from a staph infection; she was also one of the live guest vocalists for Tobias Sammet’s metal opera Avantasia world tours in 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2016, where she performed both backing vocals and lead vocals for a few songs; she was featured on Douglas R. Docker’s space metal opera Docker’s Guild in 2012 in a duet with Goran Edman on the debut album The Mystic Technocracy – Season 1: The Age of Ignorance, and again in 2016 in the Flash Gordon Suite on the album The Heisenberg Diaries – Book A: Sounds of Future Past; and also played the part of the “Queen of the Nile” in an album titled The Book of Gates, by a metal opera project from the Middle-East named EON, produced by Lebanese guitarist Amadeus Awad. And the list goes on and on with Amanda lending her beautiful voice to several interesting songs recorded by bands like After Forever, Edguy, Lunatica, Serenity, Wolfpakk, Shaman, DesDemon, Hollow Haze, Sebastien, Soulspell, and many, many others.

When asked about her experience working with several renowned artists such as Alice Cooper, Ian Gillan and Eric Martin due to her role in projects like Rock Meets Classic and Avantasia, Amanda answered that working with all those metal icons is always a pleasure for her, as she always enters a new situation or project with a very open mind and loves to be surprised by those artists, not to mention she also said most of them are amazing human beings. In addition, when asked which musician or artist she would love to work with in the future, Amanda mentioned some important names in music such as John Fogerty, the mastermind behind Creedence Clearwater Revival; Grace Slick, an American musician and former model, widely known in Rock N’ Roll history for her role in San Francisco’s burgeoning psychedelic music scene in the 60’s, being the voice of bands like Jefferson Airplane and Starship; and as a solo artist she would also love to work with Paul Simon and Tori Amos. As you can see although those musicians listed by Amanda are not your regular metal icons, they do have a huge influence on countless metal artists and bands from different styles, proving once again heavy music is not and can never be isolated from the rest of the world of music.

Regarding her inspirations for her music and lyrics and her full creative process, Amanda said she doesn’t really have a “normal process” as far as songwriting goes, with her songs beginning sometimes as a chorus or a verse, sometimes as just the lyrics with the body of the composition coming later, and sometimes the song will come to her from start to finish in its entirety. She complemented by saying that as a songwriter, the lyrics are of extreme importance to her, and that her songs are always very emotional because she doesn’t believe in writing or performing anything that can’t make people feel along with her. All her songs are personal-based, talking about human struggles and relationships, whether it was something she went through, a dream, or inspired by someone or something, and all being “little windows” into the innermost workings of Amanda Somerville.

Last but not least, apart from all her projects and adventures in music in general, Amanda still found some time in June 2014 to be part of a German television show named Keep Your Light Shining, which aired from the end of May to June 2014 by ProSieben, singing the song Addicted To You by Avicii (and you can also see her personal message about the show HERE). She said she accepted the challenge because she enjoys getting out of her comfort zone, pushing herself to her own limits. However, the show had to make some special arrangements for her due to her touring schedule and other details, as she was only able to join their third show. Many people asked her why she was doing that, because she didn’t need it, but she said she actually wanted to participate on the show as a new experience for her. Moreover, despite the final result not being very positive for her, she said she wasn’t sad or anything like that as in the end she was the only member with a career while some of the others went backstage and cried their hearts out. What’s next for Amanda Somerville? Now with the twins she will probably take some time off from all her endeavors in heavy music, but I’m sure it won’t take long for us metalheads to have the pleasure of listening to her beautiful voice once again accompanied by some flammable guitar riffs and headbanging beats in another ass-kicking song, band or project.

Amanda Somerville’s Official Facebook page
Amanda Somerville’s Official Twitter
Amanda Somerville’s Official Instagram
Amanda Somerville’s Official YouTube channel

“I’ve never really been able to force a song. I don’t believe in doing anything contrived, especially when it comes to songwriting. I think it’s a blasphemy to one’s art. Music is my emotional outlet and I let it take me wherever it leads.” – Amanda Somerville

Album Review – Avenford / New Beginning (2017)

A lecture in melodic, progressive and vigorous Power Metal by a band that has all it takes to be one of the greatest names in Power Metal within the next few years.

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avenford-new-beginningFormed in the summer of 2012 by guitarist Peter Szehoffner and lead singer and guitarist Arpie Gamson in Hungary, inspired by the music by Masterplan, Jorn Lande, Yngwie Malmsteen and Iron Maiden, among others, but currently residing in London, England, Power Metal quartet Avenford has been making a name for themselves in the world of heavy music since their inception, delivering first-class Heavy Metal for fans of melodic guitars, fast and rhythmic drums and epic high-pitched vocal lines. After releasing their debut album in 2014, titled Mortal Price, and after beginning to conquer Europe and the rest of the world with their music, it’s time for Avenford to strike us all again with their fresh new album New Beginning.

The list of guest musicians in New Beginning is quite extensive, each one adding their own share of adrenaline to the final result. We have Apollo Papathanasio (Spiritual Beggars, Firewind), Zoltan Marothy (Kiss Forever Band), Roland Grapow (Masterplan, Helloween), Zoltan Kiss (Iron Maidnem), Bodor Mate (Alestorm) and Piotr Sikora (Exlibis) lending their feeling and refined techniques to Avenford, contributing with Peter, Arpie, bassist Tom Longbottom and drummer Jivodar Dimitrov in crafting beautiful and exciting Heavy Metal perfect for hitting the road, for having a good time with your friends, or for simply relaxing and enjoying it by yourself.

The opening track Dead or Alive doesn’t waste a single second and comes ripping in a heavy and melodic way led by the guitars by Arpie and Peter, suddenly turning into a fast-paced metal feast with guest singer Apollo Papathanasio kicking some serious ass on vocals, resulting in Power Metal at its finest; whereas Back in Time is a Symphonic Power Metal composition with a strong focus on its electrified atmosphere and the fierce drumming by Jivodar, also featuring an amazing solo by guest guitarist Zoltán Maróthy. And progressiveness, intricacy and tons of feeling are the main ingredients in the fast-paced chant Assassin, where not only both guitarists are on fire, blasting beautiful riffs and solos, but the rumbling bass lines by Tom are also very effective and add a lot of groove to the music.

avenfordAlbeit slightly slower, Fury Road is still very progressive and heavy, with the one and only Roland Grapow doing what he does best, which is of course delivering awesomeness though his guitar solo, before the short and pleasant instrumental bridge Maze of Visions builds the ambience for the title-track New Beginning, a heavy power-ballad where Arpie has an amazing performance on vocals while the rest of the band sounds extremely cohesive and focused on delivering top-tier Power Metal to the masses. And in Overlord, a futuristic warlike intro explodes into Progressive Power Metal due to the accelerated beats by Jivodar, with both Arpie and Peter making the perfect dynamic duo on guitars. In other words, if you love high-octane Melodic Heavy Metal, this thrilling tune will definitely please your metallic ears.

With guest singer Zoltán Kiss giving a lesson in melodic vocals, Dark Angel presents the perfect combination of guitars and keyboards the likes of Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica, having all it takes to become a classic among fans of the genre. Besides, how not to get excited with the song’s amazing chorus? In Mask, we’re treated to more electricity and passion for heavy music from Avenford, a very traditional sonority led by the potent vocals by Arpie and the unstoppable drums by Jivodar, and featuring a great guitar solo by another guest Máté Bodor; while Return from the Land of Emeralds is the dream of every musician that loves complex and metallic Power Metal. All band members are in perfect sync in this instrumental feast, with Tom and Jivodar crafting the perfect atmosphere for all the song’s inspiring guitar solos. And my favorite track of the album, Unholy Game, featuring the sharp keyboards by guest musician Piotr Sikora, brings elements from old school Rock N’ Roll and Hard Rock that truly elevate the song’s electricity to a whole new level. No one can stand still to such amazing tune, with Arpie being absolutely fantastic on vocals.

In a nutshell, New Beginning is a lecture in melodic, progressive and vigorous Power Metal by a band that sounds like veterans of the genre, despite being on the road for less than a decade, and if you’re fond of this always galvanized genre of heavy music I highly recommend you go visit Avenford’s Facebook page and YouTube channel to get more details on this excellent band and their inspiring music. And of course if you want to add New Beginning to your distinct collection of Power Metal albums, you can find it at the Pride & Joy webshop, at Record Shop X, on iTunes or on Amazon. The name of the album might be New Beginning, but what we have is actually a solid continuation to the career of a band that has an immeasurable potential to become one of the greatest names in Power Metal within the next few years.

Best moments of the album: Dead or Alive, New Beginning, Dark Angel and Unholy Game.

Worst moments of the album: Back in Time.

Released in 2017 Pride & Joy Music

Track listing
1. Dead or Alive 4:22
2. Back in Time 3:50
3. Assassin 4:30
4. Fury Road 4:32
5. Maze of Visions 1:21
6. New Beginning 7:13
7. Overlord 5:41
8. Dark Angel 3:43
9. Mask 3:56
10. Return from the Land of Emeralds 5:49
11. Unholy Game 3:48

Band members
Arpie Gamson – vocals, guitar
Peter Szehoffner – guitar, backing vocals
Tom Longbottom – bass
Jivodar Dimitrov – drums

Guest musicians
Apollo Papathanasio – vocals on “Dead or Alive”
Zoltán Maróthy – lead guitars on “Back in Time”
Roland Grapow – lead guitars on “Fury Road”
Zoltán Kiss – vocals on “Dark Angel”
Máté Bodor – lead guitars on “Mask”
Piotr Sikora – keyboards on “Unholy Game”

Album Review – Majesty Of Revival / Dualism (2016)

One of the most important bands from the contemporary Ukrainian Metal scene returns with a full-bodied album that will definitely put you to dance, love, drink a beer and bang your head, if not all at the same time.

Rating4

full var 5If there’s one very special band that proudly raises the flag of Ukrainian Metal as high as the sun, always delivering amazing music to our ears with a high level of professionalism, commitment and dexterity, it’s Symphonic/Progressive Power Metal Majesty Of Revival, and in case you know nothing about them, I highly recommend you go after all their discography as it’s definitely worth a shot. And if you need more than just these few words to convince you of how good this band is, simply take a listen at their brand new album, entitled Dualism, and you’ll certainly get hooked on their melodious and electrifying music.

Formed in the fall of 2009 by lead singer and guitarist Dimitriy Pavlovskiy in Uzghorod, a city located in western Ukraine, at the border with Slovakia and near the border with Hungary, Majesty Of Revival have already built a respectable career not only in their home country but also in important markets such as Japan, despite all the lineup changes since their inception. After releasing their debut EP Meaning of Life (2011), the full-length albums Through Reality (2012) and Iron Gods (2012) and another EP named Netherworld (2014), the band took a break from the outside world to focus on the studio work to give birth to Dualism, experimenting with different sounds and styles in order to provide their fans a unique experience in heavy music.

An avalanche of groove and heaviness will hit you from the very first thunderous notes by bassist Tom Penzel in the opening track, titled Deadlock, where it’s interesting to note how Dimitriy can easily go from deep harsh growls to very melodic vocal lines, not to mention how progressive guitars and drums sound, helping to keep this 6-minute composition exciting in its entirety. More metallic and aggressive in spite of the smooth keyboards by Vladimir Yakubovskiy, Awaken brings forward a good balance between guttural vocals and piercing riffs with serene and progressive passages, an amazing tune that will certainly pump up the fans when played live; followed by the sensational and classy Van Halen-inspired Hard Rock chant Alive, with highlights to the precise drumming by Vasiliy Irzhak and to its lyrics about our struggles in life (“All the changes occur when you least expect / And you never know who’s in charge / They come after you, if you fight, then you shoot / Or then you escape – take the last parachute”).

In Inner Dimension the band gets back to brutal and complex Power Metal, with the song’s background keyboards creating an amazing aura nicely complemented by the blazing riffs by Dimitriy, reminding me of old school Dream Theater (especially the guitar solos and all tempo changes). Then we have one of the heaviest of all tracks and consequently one of my favorites, the powerful Darkest, showcasing hints of Pantera in its riffs, an epic vibe led by the nonstop beats by Vasiliy, and lyrics as dark as the music demands (“Darkest fears disappearing with fading dreams / Full of griefs, thru the field of blackhearts / Forgotten truth has been replaced by lies / That destroyed belief for us all”); and Failure, where Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal are beautifully united once again. The bass guitar by Tom Penzel sounds like a hammer so heavy it is, adding tons of groove to the musicality and, therefore, turning it into a recommended choice for some good headbanging.

mor2016The intro for the power ballad Days seems slightly inspired by Metallica’s classic “One”, suddenly turning into contemporary and progressive Heavy Metal with the symphonic elements in the background increasing the song’s liveliness as well as its soulful guitar solos, whereas Wolfheart feels like listening to Sonata Arctica, including the song’s name and lyrics (“You have the wolfheart / You should free it once / Through the whole pain you have to believe / Release your hopes from the darkest fears / Don’t deny thy destiny / You are the knight of your own life / Cherish thy braveness, honor and love / With the obeisance you have to fight – sword in your hands, high above / You have the wolfheart”). It’s a good composition with beautiful guitar lines and solos, but too smooth at times compared to the overall potency of the album. Tongue gets back to a Symphonic Power Metal vibe with modern elements of Alternative Metal added to it, all without losing its core essence and boosted the the harsh vocals by Dimitriy. In addition, pay good attention to the interesting battle between Dimitriy and Vladimir with their guitar and keyboard solos. And presenting a sonority similar to classic bands like Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica, the very traditional tune Perfection offers nonstop drums and epic vocal lines that will surely accelerate the beat of your heart.

When the band slows down the crazy rhythm of ther music, we’re treated to a medieval power ballad named When the Night Embrace, with the passionate vocal performance by Dimitriy being flawlessly supported by the song’s inspiring atmosphere, becoming a perfect choice for singing along with the band during their live performances. The Hard Rock riffs by Dimitriy and the epic keyboards by Vladimir complement each other in the kick-ass metal tune Serenity, tailored for banging our heads nonstop while Vasiliy keeps hitting his drums as heavy as possible, not to mention the spot-on hints of Industrial Metal added to the vocal lines. As we get close to the end of Dualism, Majesty Of Revival fire the title-track Dualism, more progressive than most tracks of the album due to all its tempo changes and intricate beats and riffs. However, heaviness is still present in the musicality thanks to the deep growls by Dimitriy, feeling almost like a Metal Opera so imposing it is. And the Dream Theater-inspired ballad Same Blood closes the album on a high note, in special due to the superb keyboards by Vladimir and the song’s melancholic and gentle rhythm.

The progressive and symphonic universe crafted by Majesty Of Revival can be better appreciated through their Facebook, VKontakte and YouTube, and the excellency of Dualism can be purchased through their BandCamp page (where you will find some interesting options including bonus tracks and combos with T-shirts), as well as on iTunes and on Amazon. Featuring a modern and fresh artwork by Tomi Fanta, which was probably inspired by the duality found in poker cards, Dualism will instantly put you to dance, love, drink a beer and bang your head, if not all at the same time. In other words, everything we search for in high-quality Heavy Metal music.

Best moments of the album: Awaken, Alive, Darkest, When the Night Embrace and Serenity.

Worst moments of the album: Wolfheart.

Released in 2016 Massive Sound Recordings

Track listing  
1. Deadlock 6:56
2. Awaken 6:14
3. Alive 4:13
4. Inner Dimension 6:14
5. Darkest 4:04
6. Failure 4:33
7. Days 6:00
8. Wolfheart 4:37
9. Tongue 5:26
10. Perfection 3:26
11. When the Night Embrace 4:56
12. Serenity 4:53
13. Dualism 5:06
14. Same Blood 4:50

Band members
Dimitriy Pavlovskiy – vocals, guitars
Tom Penzel – bass
Vladimir Yakubovskiy – keyboards
Vasiliy Irzhak – drums

Guest musicians
Marat Adiev – keyboards
Nelly Hanael – backing vocals
Ivan Kraynyay – bass
David Sánchez – harp, strings

Metal Chick of the Month – Daísa Munhoz

daisa01

How dare you look at me in the eye?

Time to fly back to South America, more specifically to the municipality of Bariri, São Paulo, Brazil, located about 300km from the city of São Paulo (and about 700km from the city of Rio de Janeiro), to talk about another Brazilian Heavy Metal diva, Daísa Munhoz, the beautiful and talented frontwoman of Brazilian Progressive Metal band Vandroya. If you’re simply fanatic for traditional Heavy Metal, I would say she might be the girl of your dreams.

Owner of a very powerful and melodic voice, Daísa started singing when she was only 9 years old, and at the age of fourteen she was already part of a “travelling band”. Our diva said that although she never actually took any singing lessons, she grew up surrounded by every kind of musicians, rehearsals and jam sessions every single day, as her parents are musicians too. That helped her a lot in terms of getting used to how the world of music works, and she learned a lot from every musician that was close to her, especially her mother. She also plays the piano, but “in a mediocre way” in her own words, mainly because she ends up using it more like a guide during her writing and composing process, or sometimes just as a distraction or to relax a little.  Daísa said she never really had any interest in specializing herself in the piano, nor the patience or discipline to do so.

It was when our Heavy Metal bombshell was around 18 or 19 years old that she founded Vandroya, having recorded so far with the band a 2-track demo entitled Within Shadows, in 2005, and more recently their first full-length album, One, in 2012 via Spiritual Beast Records and in 2013 via Inner Wound Recordings. And stay tuned, because the compositions for the next Vandroya album are 100% finished and the recording process will start really soon. By the way, Daísa explained the word “Vandroya” means nothing specifically: it was just a suggestion from a friend back in their early years, based on a character in Avantasia who is called Vandroy. The band just loved the way it sounded.

In addition, you can also see our diva in action in many other different bands and projects. She has been performing for years, including her one time all female band called Inlakesh, as well as a Led Zeppelin tribute band named Black Dog. Not only that, she recorded the vocals on track Song of Deliverance, from the 2013 album Exodus by Slovakian Progressive Power Metal band Signum Regis, as well as the vocals as “Judith” or “Judith, The Princess” in three different albums by Brazilian Melodic Power Metal band Soulspell (a Metal Opera project created by Brazilian drummer Heleno Vale): A Legacy of Honor (2008), The Labyrinth of Truths (2010) and Hollow’s Gathering (2012), winning the Best Female Vocalist award from Whiplash.net in 2010 for her work with Soulspell.

There are so many awesome songs with Daísa on vocals on YouTube you can spend hours and hours just listening and watching to our diva kicking ass, so in order for you to get a delicious taste of her unique voice and the mighty metal music played by Vandroya, my recommendations are the beautiful ballad Why Should We Say Goodbye, the Helloween-ish Power Metal tune The Last Free Land (which I’m pretty sure will inspire you so much you’ll buy Vandroya’s debut album after the first listen), the smooth acoustic version of No Oblivion For Eternity, a live performance of one of their first songs, Within Shadows, as well as their recent cover version for the song Heaven, by Canadian icon Bryan Adams.

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In regards to her main music influences, it’s important to say that Robert Plant is her biggest idol of all time, with the way he sings and moves having a huge impact on her onstage performance, which by the way is beyond superb. However, there are so many awesome artists and bands that it’s hard to name just a few. Sacred names such as Dio, Freddy Mercury, David Coverdale, Glenn Hughes, Russel Allen, Robert Plant, Tina Turner, Janis Joplin, Doro and Ann Wilson are among her biggest idols, being also highly influenced by Iron Maiden, of course, and many German metal bands, especially Helloween, with the unique voice of Michael Kiske leading her into the world of heavy music. Vandroya playing one of my top Helloween songs of all time, the classic March Of Time, is truly outstanding and an amazing tribute from Daísa and her band to the best Teutonic metal band of all time.

In one of her interviews, Daísa stated she has so many idols it’s very hard to choose just a few for a “dream tour”, but that she would truly love to be part of a festival only formed by female-fronted metal bands. It’s about time someone from the Metal Female Voices Fest invites her and the other members of Vandroya to be part of any future editions of the festival, don’t you think?

Lastly, although Daísa grew up listening to a lot of classic rock and hard rock bands, always being completely fanatic for Led Zeppelin, when asked about the top 5 Heavy Metal albums that changed her life, she listed the following ones: Pink Bubbles Go Ape (Helloween), Cowboys from Hell (Pantera), …And Justice for All (Metallica), The Number of the Beast (Iron Maiden) and Black Sabbath (Black Sabbath), I guess not necessarily in this order. Take a good look at this list and answer me if this is not enough awesomeness to consider Daísa a true badass metalhead!

Daísa Munhoz’s Official Facebook page
Vandroya’s Official Facebook page

“…I actually started to search for more female singers and I discovered a lot of amazing and brave warriors that faced this male-dominated market and won it. You know what? I just realized I know so many female singers I could write a book about their careers!” – Daísa Munhoz

Album Review – Viathyn / Cynosure (2014)

The new album by this outstanding indie Power Metal band from Calgary has everything we love in progressive metal music and more.

Rating4

Album Cover - Viathyn  - Cynosure - 2014There was a time when my playlist was pretty much composed in its entirety by the anthem-like songs and sing-along choruses of many Power Metal bands such as Gamma Ray, Stratovarius, Blind Guardian and Angra. Although years have gone by and my taste for heavy music has expanded considerably, listening to some thrilling Power Metal tunes always touches my heart no matter what, and seeing this genre of heavy music is alive and well in the hands of awesome indie groups, such as Progressive Power Metal band Viathyn, truly makes me hapy. By the way, the name of the band has no real definition in English, it’s just something the band members came up while playing off the word “Leviathan”.

After the EP Demagogue in 2008 and their first full-length album The Peregrine Way in 2010, this Calgary-based band returns with more of their powerful and progressive music in Cynosure, which according to guitarist Jacob Wright means “a focal point or an object that serves to guide”. Also, when explaining the meaning of the songs, which by the way are full of virtuosity and emotion, he mentioned each track focuses upon a character that is either affected by or acts as an agent of chaos, in order to express how small and insignificant our actions are within the grand scale of the universe and to show that we as humans should be humble and respectful to each other. In other words, Cynosure also has a good storyline to add even more value to its music, which is already excellent by itself.

Get ready for a metal journey with the opening track Ageless Stranger, which right after its “Hobbit-ish” intro turns into nonstop Power Metal with lots of progressiveness, riffs and drums à la Gamma Ray, and awesome guitar solos by Jacob Wright, followed by The Coachman, which sounds like a heavier version of Jethro Tull and Sonata Arctica, especially the vocal lines by Tomislav Crnkovic and the harmony found in the lyrics, with highlights to its great chorus (“And in the shades of nightfall, riding swift, he steers to your call / Step into the coach and find your broken oaths are inside / By sleight of hand and wake of fate, speak his name, he’ll be your guide”). I might be wrong, but is it some kind of tribute to Helloween on one of the last guitar solos and at the end of the song, sounding like a live version of “Future World”?

Viathyn Press Photo 2Edward Mordrake gets back to that breathtaking traditional Power Metal with its flawless instrumental, awesome guitar riffs and all rhythmic breaks. It’s definitely one of the best songs of the whole album, especially its second half which would put a big smile on Mr. Kai Hansen’s face. The heavy and symphonic  Shadows In Our Wake has a more badass attitude and it’s impossible not to get excited with the energy this track emanates, with highlights to its nice guitar duos and speed similar to Gamma Ray (but a little more progressive), followed by the superb Countess of Discordia: it has that Power Metal vibe we all love, with “Brothers Crnkovic” absolutely on fire and in total sync. Moreover, not only it has best lyrics of all songs (“Eris, the Countess of Discordia / Behold her kingdom of strife and chaos at your door / Mother to false oaths and daughter to the void / Her fortress stretches high up to the weeping moon”), but it’s impressive how despite being lengthy it’s not tiring at all (and I’m sure you’ll start tapping together with its double bass wherever you are).

Cynosure goes on with Time Will Take Us All, which has a more serene intro and slower rhythm, with part of its musicality inspired by British Progressive Rock and the addition of some guttural vocals in the background being its special element, and Three Sheets To The Wind, a song that takes Folk and Power Metal to the next level, making me want to start dancing and prancing with a mug of beer in my hand. The last two tracks of the album are Albedo, a psychedelic music voyage with interesting lyrics (“Panacea, cure all that ails me and fill my veins with life / Aqua Vitae, draw clarity to my eyes and post colour through my mind”), with highlights to the excellent job done on guitars, and finally the title-track Cynosure, as symphonic and metallic as possible in its almost 10 minutes of fast and complex riffs, guitar solos and drums. Some passages even remind me of Dragonforce, with Tomislav Crnkovic once again showcasing an excellent vocal performance boosted by the enjoyable song lyrics.

There are many places where you can listen to and purchase Viathyn’s Cynosure (SoundCloud, CD Baby, BandCamp, Big Cartel, iTunes, among others), an awesome album tailored for fans of progressive and powerful metal music. There’s no way you won’t feel really good listening to it, I can assure you.

Best moments of the album: The Coachman, Edward Mordrake and Countess of Discordia.

Worst moments of the album: Time Will Take Us All.

Released in 2014 Independent

Track listing
1. Ageless Stranger 7:13
2. The Coachman 5:41
3. Edward Mordrake 6:24
4. Shadows In Our Wake 7:02
5. Countess of Discordia 7:12
6. Time Will Take Us All 7:01
7. Three Sheets To The Wind 7:21
8. Albedo 6:48
9. Cynosure 9:35

Band members
Tomislav Crnkovic – vocals, guitar
Jacob Wright – guitar
Alex Kot – bass
Dave Crnkovic – drums