Wednesday, April 1, 2015

STRANGELET - First Bite (2015)

STRANGELET - First Bite (2015) full


There was a very interesting band coming from Germany during the mid-Nineties called Lanfear which their two first albums featured Stefan Zörner on lead vocals and keyboards. Stefan is back with his new band STRANGELET formed in four years ago, and their debut CD "First Bite".

Zörner has surrounded himself with a crew full of younger musicians that really bring a wide spectrum of influences to the mix, and that’s exactly what "First Bite" is: an amalgamation of a bunch of musical styles, running from the glorious '80s and '90s up to the sound of modern hard rock.
Stefan and the rest of the band wear their influences on their sleeves proudly – there’s a ton of great riffs, some amazing vocal hooks, melodic vintage keyboards and a general tightness to the band that feels right.

Tobias Eurich is a great new guitar talent, Jonas Kümmerle is awesome on the keys, and Finn Janetzky (bass) and Jessica Stuart (drums) are consistent rhythm players providing reliable pacing to the songs.
Stefan’s vocals are in great shape delivering classic hard rock raspy soulfulness. The lyrics on the album are good, if a bit irreverent at times (there's a couple of explicit), and fit the music well.

STRANGELET - First Bite (2015) inside

My favourite track on this album is "Tainted", a mega catchy rocker with impressive sounding keys and fantastic choir in refrain; "We are, we are… wild and free!”. This song has unbelievable memorable melody and energy just pouring out of every riff.
Opener "Privilege of Power" has solid straight guitars, clear rhythmic section and a fabulous guitar solo, followed by the stomping midtempo "Nothing" filled with gorgeous stadium melodic vocals in the style of Crazy Lixx.
The intro of "Pray To Break" comes very mythical turning into a kicking uptempo hard rocker. The Hammond sounding keyboards form the theme of the song, while the vocals come very stretched out on this one. A modern way of songwriting in here but one that fits to the mood of the music.

"Snakebite" is another favorite. The intro comes in very epic. A riff-ripper this one turns out to be a very straight go-along track with hypnotic Eighties keyboards once again. The end is very progressive and jammed along like. Reminds the most of '85 Deep Purple.
I adore the epic ballad "Stillborn", with gentle guitar, nice pumping bass, and despite a slow tune, owns an energetic refrain. Very enjoyable.
Another highlight in this vein is "All That's Left". 'My heart's broken' this one seems to scream. Very strong vocal performance by Stefan in a duet with guest Nicole Gessler surrounded by nice some keyboards.

STRANGELET - First Bite (2015) back

Very solid debut resulted this "First Bite", the debut CD from Strangelet.
It's mostly '80s / '90s hard rock mixing European and American influences, with a touch of hair metal / arena glam here and there (both songs even have the lovable cowbell). It's classic stuff, yet produced with a modern punch and all musicians are really good at their game.
"First Bite" was put on digital stores at the end of past year, but now you can order the physical CD directly from the band's website, only available there.
Very recommended.

01 - Privilege of Power (feat. Markus Ullrich)
02 - Nothing
03 - Tainted
04 - Pray To Break
05 - Stillborn
06 - Snakebite
07 - Hell And Back
08 - Touch the Sky (feat. Chris Aldinger)
09 - Catching Fire
10 - All That's Left (feat. Nicole Gessler)
11 - Hiding Star

Stefan Zörner - Vocals
Tobias Eurich - Guitars
Jonas Kümmerle - Keyboards
Finn Janetzky - Bass
Jessica Stuart - Drums
Markus Ullrich (Lanfear) - guest guitar
Nicole Gessler - guest vocals
Chris Aldinger (African Corpse) - guest vocals
Alex Noe - guest bass on 7



CHRIS THOMPSON - Jukebox The Ultimate Collection 1975-2015 (2015)

CHRIS THOMPSON - Jukebox The Ultimate Collection 1975-2015 (2015) front


Cherry Red Records / Esoteric finally have done justice to one of greatest vocalists in Rock history; CHRIS THOMPSON, releasing the double CD compilation "Jukebox The Ultimate Collection 1975-2015"
This is a much more comprehensive compilation than the older Voiceprint releases ‘Backtrack’ and ‘Timeline’, all remastered.

Long remembered as the frontman of Manfred Mann’s Earth Band (MMEB) during their most productive period, Thompson has also been part of AORsters Night (featured here on the blog), ventured into hard rock with Mike Slamer or Mads Eriksen, recorded excellent solo albums, and participate in countless sessions for Melodic Rock stars such as Toto, Brian May, Trevor Rabin, Bonnie Tyler, etc.

This latest foray through his back catalogue is enhanced by his own annotations, however the liner notes do lack comprehensive recording data, not least the featured musicians, although we know that Brian May appears on the ballad ‘A Shift In The Wind’ whilst Mavis Staples sings on the excellent ‘The Fire’, and Chris Spedding provides acoustic guitar for ‘Thunderchild’.
It would also have been helpful if the liner had indicated on which album these songs originally appeared.

There are several tracks included from his most recent solo album ‘Toys And Dishes’ whilst the “iconic” tunes are all present and correct, notably a rocked up ‘Mighty Quinn’ (a staple in the MMEB live set), ‘Runner’, ‘Blinded By The Light’ and ‘Davy’s On The Road Again’.
Amongst the highlights there is an excellent version of ‘Father Of Day’ (a MMEB song that pre-dated Thompson’s time in the band) and ‘Spirits In The Night’ which wasn't originally sung by Chris, ‘Cold Wind Blowing Across My Heart’ (when he fronted LA-based band Night), and ‘One Man Mission’ recorded with Mike Slamer in 2000.
Of course we have ‘Beat Of Love’ from his 1991 solo album of that name, whilst the track he recorded during a late-night session in 2002, ‘What World’, is another stand-out.

The inclusion of ‘You’re The Voice’ reminds us that Thompson co-wrote that massive hit for John Farnham in 1986 and must have kept his bank manager happy ever, since whilst ‘The Challenge’ (co-written with Harold ‘Axel F’ Faltermeyer) was a No.1 hit in Germany in 1989 and – again – very AOR.
Earlier, in 1979, Thompson had sung the theme to the film The Champ – the wonderful ‘If You Remember Me’ – one of my favorite songs of all time.

CHRIS THOMPSON - Jukebox The Ultimate Collection 1975-2015 (2015) booklet

At times, vocally, Thompson reminds of Chris Ousey (Heartland, Snakecharmer), he always has that soulful edge to his delivery. I wonder whether his more recent exile to Scandinavia and Germany where he frequently plays gigs has worked against him in terms of wider public perception since the late 1990′s after he had left MMEB.
Compare and contrast with Paul Carrack (with whom he also shares some vocal and stylistic similarities) who gigs solidly year on year in the UK.

Maybe this 2-CD set is Cherry Red’s first stab at making some sense of Thompson’s heritage and it would be good if it led to reissues of all his solo works, at very least.
I don’t think Chris has been best served by labels in the past – there’s been a fair amount of recycling and re-recording and shoddy packaging – and if this goes a little way to restoring his profile – and securing the listener’s re-appraisal – it will be a job well done, the definitive article.
Highly Recommended to all (to me, a must have).

CD 1 :
01 - Dark Side
02 - Love And Loneliness
03 - Father Of Day
04 - Hot Summer Night
05 - Million Dollar Wonder Hit
06 - Cold Wind Blowing Across My Heart
07 - Spirits In The Night
08 - Whole Lot To Give
09 - For You
10 - One Man Mission
11 - Martha's Madman
12 - You Angel You
13 - Eddie Wants To Rock
14 - Dream Away Little Girl
15 - Don't Stop
16 - The Fire

CD 2 :
01 - The Mighty Quinn
02 - The Challenge
03 - Runner - Live
04 - Redemption Song
05 - Land Of The Long White Cloud
06 - Blinded By The Light
07 - Angel
08 - Heart Of The Fire
09 - Don't Kill It Carol - Live
10 - If You Remember Me
11 - Millie Christine
12 - You're The Voice
13 - Davy's On The Road Again - Live
14 - Questions - Live
15 - Zu Leben
16 - Thunderchild
17 - What World
18 - We Are The Strong



Tuesday, March 31, 2015

THE DARKER MY HORIZON - Acquiesce (2015)

THE DARKER MY HORIZON - Acquiesce (2015) full


THE DARKER MY HORIZON may be a new band from UK, but the guys involved are not newcomers at all into the scene: vocalist/guitarist Paul Stead and Mark Stephenson (guitar) are former members of the now disbanded Sacred Heart, the very good act already presented at 0dayrox years ago.
Add to the line-up former Crimes Of Passion bassist Simon Fearn and experienced drummer Gavin Tester, and you have a combo of seasoned musicians here.
"Acquiesce" is the debut CD from The Darker My Horizon, a very welcomed band to the Melodic Hard Rock world.

One thing that is apparent with The Darker My Horizon is that although main songwriter Paul Stead has kept the melodic side of Sacred Heart, there is a distinctive edge to most to the songs on here.
Drawing their influences from modern arena bands like Hinder and classic hard rock artists such as Warrant or Bon Jovi, The Darker My Horizon bring you melody, power & catchy choruses.

THE DARKER MY HORIZON - Acquiesce (2015) inside

You can hear a modern approach on some tracks, like the get up and go riffery of "Can't Stop The Rain", but most the material here waters from early '90s melodic hard rock.
Just check the instant, straight ahead melodic rock of "Summer Time" (title says it all) with a wonderful uplifting chorus perfect for airplay. Or "OK", a fun rocker with some Waltham on its infectious chorus.
There is even some classic '80s party rock in the shape of "Perfect", think Warrant meets the rocking side of early Winger!
Seriously, Paul Stead's vocals will remind you several times the late Jani Lane (Warrant).

"Rest In Peace" is an interesting one, with a synth arrangement and a catchy beat underpinning the song and a high end vocal. May surprise some listeners but adds more variation to the album with its coolness. The instrumental part melds synths and a few guitar solos to great effect.
The harder edge of The Darker My Horizon shows on "Gasoline & Opium" (loving the Zakk Wylde approved riff on this one), the sharp riffs of "There’s Gotta Be" - where melody meets hard rock resulting in a powerful melodic hard rock tune.

Then "The Road" is a clever song, starting quietly with a bass, percussion and synth before the full band kicks on the chorus. One of the album’s guitar solo highlights on this song.
There are a couple of ballads, pick of them is "In The Dark", with a reflective lyric and where the piano adds to the overall feel of the song.

THE DARKER MY HORIZON - Acquiesce (2015) cd photo

After seeing the name The Darker My Horizon on the CD cover I was expecting a 'metallic' band from this new venture by Paul Stead / Mark Stephenson, instead on their debut "Acquiesce" I found a powerful, kicking Melodic Hard Rock album.
Taking inspiration from bands which made the genre big at their time but with a potent & vibrant modern production, "Acquiesce" results damn catchy and melodic, plenty of substance.
If acts like 7th Heaven, Waltham, Degreed, Find Me, the great Dion Bayman, etc - that is bands with a strong late '80s / early '90 influences but a modern sound - are your thing, then The Darker My Horizon are right up your alley.

01 - Closure
02 - Can't Stop the Rain
03 - Ok
04 - Summer Time
05 - Paradise
06 - There's Gotta Be
07 - I Can't Save You
08 - Such Is Life
09 - Perfect
10 - Gasoline & Opium
11 - The Road
12 - Afraid
13 - In the Dark
14 - Beware the Wolf
15 - Rest in Peace

Paul Stead - lead vocals, guitar
Mark Stephenson - guitars, keyboards, backing vocals
Simon Fearn - bass, backing vocals
Gavin Tester - drums, backing vocals

BUY IT !!product/prd12/2218563301


SCOTT WEILAND and the WILDABOUTS - Blaster (2015)

SCOTT WEILAND and the WILDABOUTS - Blaster (2015) full


Although blessed with a long and successful career fronting mega bands like Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver, it can seem that Scott Weiland's extra-curricular activities have somewhat overshadowed his musical contributions but it cannot be denied that there is a reason for his longevity and popularity (44 million albums sold so far).
2015, he is back with SCOTT WEILAND and the WILDABOUTS, and their debut CD "Blaster" released yesterday.

With a varied collection of solo efforts under his belt already, Weiland wanted a 'real band sound' and formed The Wildabouts, aiming to obtain, described by the man himself, a 'rocking... sexy... furry' output.
There is no doubt that "Blaster" stylistically fits into the works of Stone Temple Pilots but it has added fuzz and a dirty retro sound that conjures images of beautiful people in packed clubs getting hot and steamy.
I think 'glam' is the best word to paint Weiland & The Wildabouts sound: Stone Temple Pilots blended with a quite rocking retro glam style.

SCOTT WEILAND and the WILDABOUTS - Blaster (2015) inside

The funked up envelope filter riff of 'Modzilla' and 'Way She Moves' set the tone for "Blaster", dirty riffs coupled with sweet backing vocals and Weiland's unmistakable voice taking the reins.
'Amethyst' starts with a dreamy intro morphing into a driving rocker that features a cool echo-drenched guitar solo courtesy of Jeremy Brown. He and the other Wildabouts, bassist Tommy Black and drummer Danny Thompson keep things tight but free enough to put groove in these tunes, and producer Rick Parker (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club) captures the energy and emotion well.
In fact, The Wildabouts sound great, tight, and grand part the reason these songs sound so nicely.

The songwriting is pretty strong and even at its prettiest Weiland's pop nous keeps it on the right side of sweet for 'Blue Eyes' and only dips into the saccharin once on 'Beach Pop'.
The mentioned glam influence is present on the cover of T. Rex's '20th Century Boy', and the more modern sounding 'White Lightning', one of the best tracks on the album for me.

SCOTT WEILAND and the WILDABOUTS - Blaster (2015) back cover

As alluded to by the cover art of a retro boombox, "Blaster" is a record that rocks pretty good, combining STP melodies with a clear nod to Seventies glam. If you liked Scott Weiland 'sober' era, this one does not disappoints.

In a macabre twist of fate, "Blaster" will be remembered in years to come by a sad event: The Wildabouts' guitarist Jeremy Brown passed away yesterday - the day the band's debut album "Blaster" was released. R.I.P.

01 - Modzilla
02 - Way She Moves
03 - Hotel Rio
04 - Amethyst
05 - White Lightning
06 - Blue Eyes
07 - Bleed Out
08 - Youth Quake
09 - Beach Pop
10 - Parachute
11 - 20Th Century Boy
12 - Circles

Scott Weiland - vocals
Jeremy Brown - guitars (RIP)
Tommy Black - bass
Danny Thompson - drums



GLASS HAMMER - The Breaking Of The World (2015)

GLASS HAMMER - The Breaking Of The World (2015) full


American progressive scene may be little dwarfed these days, but there's a staple always carrying the flag for the genre at its maximum quality: GLASS HAMMER. Their new CD "The Breaking Of The World" released today, March 31, it's not only the band's best work of their career, but also their most progressive album thus far.

Commanded by co-founders Steve Babb and Fred Schendel and now with singer Carl Groves confirmed as frontman, "The Breaking Of The World" sees Glass Hammer stronger than ever.
Album number fifteen in their discography, this is not 'just another Glass Hammer album'. "The Breaking Of The World" is so progressive, that it probably goes beyond progressive rock. It’s not genre-less, but it is probably genre-creating or, at the very least, genre transformational.
Glass Hammer has never shunned or forsaken its loyalties, and one always hears a bit of their loves and admirations in their music; sometimes it’s Yes, sometimes Genesis, sometimes Kansas, and sometimes, ELP.
But, it's always, also, distinctively Glass Hammer, wonderfully Schendel and Babb.

It’s worth pondering the sheer amount of talent Babb and Schendel have gathered around Glass Hammer and their two-decade plus project. Of course, Babb is one of the best bassists alive, topping Chris Squire and equaling Geddy Lee, and Schendel can plays the keys as well and, frankly, far more tastefully than the standard bearer of prog, Wakeman.
Then, add in Aaron Raulston, one brilliant pounder of skins. And, with Raulston and Babb, you have the single best rhythm section alive. Guitarist Kamran Alan Shikoh plays with mighty innovation and verve. Groves gives everything he has in his singing, presenting melodies in a divine fashion.
For this new record, Babb and Schendel have also brought in Michele Lynn to contribute on vocals and Steve Unruh to play violin and flute. Each adds considerably to what is already an incredible album.

GLASS HAMMER - The Breaking Of The World (2015) inside

The album begins with a re-working of J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1931 poem, “Mythopoeia” surrounded by a very melodic music arrangement in classic Glass Hammer fashion, bright and even a little poppy, followed by “Third Floor”, which is equal parts serious intensity and playfully quirky prog.
“Babylon,” the third track, has a Neil Peart-quality in the lyrics, a righteous anger against those who wield a falsely righteous anger. Musically it's mysterious and with an incredible keyboard solo in the middle.
Melancholic and slow, “Sand” showcases Carl Groves' velvety vocals with pianos, various keyboards, lovely drums and a subtle guitar work.

“Bandwagon,” is the most traditionally progressive of the songs, on one of the more rocking; pounding, energetic, and hyper, it presents the perfect counterpoint to “Sand”.
“Haunted” is written by guitarist Shikoh, while Babb pens the lyrics. Babb, an accomplished and published poet, offers his best verse here. Musically, it's a progressive gem varied and captivating.
Penultimate track, “North Wind” is a lush composition driven by bass and keyboards, alternating uptempo / midtempo passages and the addition of female vocal parts, while “Nothing Everything” delivers pure classy prog with a terrific instrument interplay in a Yes style, but sounding million times better than anything Yes have produced in the last twenty years.

GLASS HAMMER - The Breaking Of The World (2015) back

Glass Hammer is one of these rare beast of a band that gets better and better with each release, but I think they have reached their climax with "The Breaking Of The World".
This album is very close to the 'progressive masterpiece' denomination, it's vital, melodic, complex yet never, never hard to digest or boring. The cover art is as gorgeous as the music, exquisitely produced by Schendel and Babb themselves
"The Breaking Of The World" is everything progressive rock should be, and more. A strong candidate for 'best prog of the year'.

01. Mythopoeia
02. Third Floor
03. Babylon
04. A Bird When it Sneezes
05. Sand
06. Bandwagon
07. Haunted
08. North Wind
09. Nothing, Everything

Steve Babb - bass, keyboards, backing vocals
Fred Schendel - keyboards, guitars, backing vocals
Carl Groves - lead vocals
Kamran Alan Shikoh - guitars, electric sitar
Aaron Raulston - drums
Susie Bogdanowicz - lead and backing vocals
Steve Unruh - violin, flute
Michele Lynn - backing vocals



Monday, March 30, 2015

VAN HALEN - 1984 (30th Anniversary Edition) Remastered 2015

VAN HALEN - 1984 (30th Anniversary Edition) Remastered 2015 full


As announced on occasion of VAN HALEN's post here about their first-ever live album to feature original singer David Lee Roth, Tokyo Dome In Concert, Van Halen's first six albums have been freshly Remastered directly from the Analog Master Recordings by Chris Bellman, cut straight from the quarter-inch tapes.
Tomorrow, March 31, Van Halen first self-titled and this, the ground-breaking "1984" will be available at stores.

Wow, you gotta listen this 2015 Remaster by Chris Bellman.
It's simply awesome, and blows out of the water the now outdated 2000's remaster.
"Panama" just... explodes out of your speakers!

VAN HALEN - 1984 (30th Anniversary Edition) Remastered 2015 booklet

"1984" was the band's biggest selling album, with over 12 million copies sold in the U.S. alone, spawning Van Halen's first and only No. 1 Billboard single, "Jump".
It also scored Top 15 hits "Panama" and "I'll Wait", plus the MTV classic "Hot For Teacher", and launched the band on its most ambitious tour, after being the highest-paid band ever for their 1983 US Festival performance. Creatively, the album was a major leap forward, with the band taking charge of all the music and dictating terms of the recording.
Well, just blah, blah, you already know the story.

VAN HALEN - 1984 (30th Anniversary Edition) Remastered 2015 back

Van Halen's "1984 (30th Anniversary Edition)" remastered 2015 is a must have.
It will be released on 180-gram vinyl too, but this CD edition just do the trick, you'll seriously re-discover this great album. The artwork features a complete reproduction of the original release, even the CD ink press.
ESSENTIAL in your collection.

01 - 1984
02 - Jump
03 - Panama
04 - Top Jimmy
05 - Drop Dead Legs
06 - Hot for Teacher
07 - I'll Wait
08 - Girl Gone Bad
09 - House of Pain

Eddie Van Halen - guitars, keyboards, backing vocals
David Lee Roth - lead vocals
Alex Van Halen - drums, percussion
Michael Anthony - bass guitar, backing vocals
Remastered by Chris Bellman 2015



THE GENTLE STORM - The Diary [Special Edition] (2015)

THE GENTLE STORM - The Diary [Special Edition] (2015) full


The Dutch pair of renowned composer / multi-instrumentalist Arjen Lucassen and vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen have worked together several times over the last fifteen years, but now both are fully involved into a fantastic project called THE GENTLE STORM, and "The Diary" is the fruit of their accomplished talents.

As you might expect from a Lucassen project, the album is conceptual and the music, grand and immense.
"The Diary" is a love story set in the 17th century, with Arjen Lucassen composing, arranging and playing the music while the story / lyrics all coming from Anneke Van Giersbergen - former Gathering vocalist and last seen on Devin Townsend’s excellent 'Z2' album.
But you can enjoy the tracks separately, as despite part of the tale, all are build as a 'song' around the 5 minute length.

THE GENTLE STORM - The Diary [Special Edition] (2015) inside

"The Diary" is also split into 2 CD's, where the 'Gentle' disc which sees all the songs done using primarily orchestral instruments, including a real double bass, piano, acoustic guitar and more.
Disc 2 is 'Storm', which are the same songs produced in a style much more akin to the most recent Ayreon record in tone: electric instruments, progressive, occasionally cresting into metal, all with different arrangements. Additionally, long term Ayreon drummer Ed Warby is involved, however even the symphonic rock / metal takes a different musical style than Ayreon / Star One albums.

THE GENTLE STORM - The Diary [Special Edition] (2015) back cover

Both versions are truly enjoyable, with 'Gentle' more recommended to traditional prog listeners, while the bombastic "Storm" to more 'rocking' aficionados.
Overall, ‘Gentle Disc’ has the ability to lift both the melodies and Van Geirsbergen's voice, while 'Storm' showcase Lucassen's genius on the instruments.
Highlights are many, although the ‘Storm’ version of "Heart Of Amsterdam" is simply superb and would be a hit single if there was any justice in the musical world.
Elsewhere the traditional feel of "Shores Of India" and the gentle version of "Endless Sea" are stand outs in this very strong album.

THE GENTLE STORM - The Diary [Special Edition] (2015) cd photo

Lucassen / Van Geirsbergen association in "The Gentle Storm" resulted in a great success.
The combination of Anneke’s terrific vocals ranging from rock&pop / metal to a progressive diva with Arjen's capacity to create always interesting, captivating arrangements, work like a charm in "The Diary".
With these two you know it will be worth your while having in your collection. A different musical diversion for both of them and the good news is a second album is promised.
You must listen both CD's, "Gentle" & "Storm", because both are completely different records, both embedded with Arjen Lucassen ubiquitous talents.
Highly Recommended.

CD1 - Gentle:
01 Endless Sea (gentle version)
02 Heart of Amsterdam (gentle version)
03 The Greatest Love (gentle version)
04 Shores of India (gentle version)
05 Cape of Storms (gentle version)
06 The Moment (gentle version)
07 The Storm (gentle version)
08 Eyes of Michiel (gentle version)
09 Brightest Light (gentle version)
10 New Horizons (gentle version)
11 Epilogue: The Final Entry (gentle version)

CD2 - Storm:
01 Endless Sea (storm version)
02 Heart of Amsterdam (storm version)
03 The Greatest Love (storm version)
04 Shores of India (storm version)
05 Cape of Storms (storm version)
06 The Moment (storm version)
07 The Storm (storm version)
08 Eyes of Michiel (storm version)
09 Brightest Light (storm version)
10 New Horizons (storm version)
11 Epilogue: The Final Entry (storm version)

Anneke van Giersbergen - lead vocals
Arjen Anthony Lucassen - guitars, keyboards, percussion, vocals, hammered dulcimer
additional musicians:
Ed Warby (Ayreon) - drums
Johan van Stratum (Stream of Passion) - bass
Hinse Mutter - double bass
Rob Snijders (Agua de Annique) - percussion
Joost van den Broek (Star One) - piano
Marcela Bovio (Stream of Passion) - background vocals
Timo Somers (Delain, Vengeance) - guitar solo on 2
Ben Mathot - violin
Maaike Peterse - cello
Jenneke de Jonge - French horn
Jeroen Goossens - wind instruments
Jack Pisters - sitar and coral
Michael Mills - Irish bouzouki
Remco Helbers - surbahar
Nathanael van Zuilen - tabla
"Epic Rock Choir" - choir



ILIUM - My Misanthropia (2015)

ILIUM - My Misanthropia (2015) full


Australian ILIUM are not the biggest name in the business but they have established quite a good reputation for themselves in the metal community since their formation in 1998 and through their entire discography.
I liked their previous album appeared four years ago with Mike DiMeo (Masterplan) at the mic, and now Ilium returns with their 6th offer “My Misanthropia” featuring a new vocalist, the excellent American Lance King (ex-Balance of Power, ex-Empire).
This is more than a small change as King is an exceptional singer with natural melodic expression and fine range.

Indeed, “My Misanthropia” marks a radical change in Ilium's musical approach; now their blend of melodic heavy and power metal with a strong emphasis on the guitar presence is 'clean' and pristine like never before. It's that kind of clinical, precise recording where every instrument come bright and audible.
Not only is the production level a huge step up, but they've matured immensely as musicians and of course the addition of Lance King's melodic pipes (he is truly great) allow more variety in their sound.

Each track on “My Misanthropia” is highly performed with true heavy sensation and pluralism, including all factors that guarantee maximum listening pleasure.
The album includes tracks could be described as metal anthems, like the dark and melancholic "The Hatchling", or “Orbiting A Sun Of Sadness” with its Scorpions-ish attitude.
"Yuletide Ebbs" is another exceptional full-throttle metal roar with some superbly inventive guitar work and the outstanding vocal prowess. The melodic solos on each song are a treat as well.

Thanks to the vocal style of Lance King - if you are new to him, think James La Brie with more power - and the busy instrumentation on tracks like the fast paced "Penny Black", the sublime "Godless Theocracies" and the vicious "Zenith To Zero" are quite similar to early Queensryche.
However the title track show a different-sounding delivery from Lance, more aggressive and less dramatic than his usual tradition, still happily ever present in songs like "Lingua Franca".

Killer riffing, blazing lead guitar solos, rock solid rhythms and beds of orchestral keyboards adorn many of these songs, with the closer "The Cryptozoologist" being one of the more adventurous of the lot, an action packed tune with plenty of guitar & keyboard exchanges, sounding like a head-on collision between Dream Theater and Dio.
All of the tracks contain memorable melodies to go along with their musical might, so it's a great combination from start to finish that ultimately results in a very enjoyable album.

ILIUM - My Misanthropia (2015) inside

“My Misanthropia” is a charming, integrated metal album combining strength with melody, which thanks to fine songwriting, skillful guitar work and Lance King's superb melodic vocals puts Ilium back into strong and entertaining melodic metal territory.
King sounds darn good as ever, notably because he has a natural knack at following the melody and rhythm of any song here.
The production is another advantage to the album. The clearness and snap of the instruments is essential to making the album as powerful as it can feel.
“My Misanthropia” is one of those albums that will appeal to people of all metal tastes. Anyone who's a fan of traditional riffs and classy, powerful yet clean vocals need to check this 'new' Ilium.
Very Recommended.

01 - My Misanthropia
02 - Quetzalcoatl
03 - Penny Black
04 - Linqua Franca
05 - Godless Theocracies
06 - The Hatchling
07 - Orbiting a Sun of Sadness
08 - Zenith to Zero
09 - Yuletide Ebbs
10 - The Cryptozoologist

Lance King - Lead Vocals
Jason Hodges - Guitars
Adam Smith - Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Drums



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