Tuesday, October 14, 2008

DEMONLORD - Helltrust

Source Of Deluge Records

Upholding a traditional power metal style, Demonlord drives through nine tracks of swashbuckling steel here on “Helltrust”. Using dark imagery to enhance their overall feel, the group combines melodic lead breaks with arena style sing-alongs to good results on “Quo Vadis?”

Much of the band’s sound can be directly linked to the eighties metal sound, with the addition of tuneful, European vocal lines and tight, sensible arrangements that are fairly ear-catching. “Ruins In The Dark” bears all of the hallmarks of a great metal track, including a scorching dual solo that is pulled off in a very tasteful manner and a modulating, chanted chorus.

While some of the album is standard power metal fare, with tracks such as “Overture To The End” and “Darkest Place” showing a strong Helloween influence in the band’s work, though Demonlord manages to take this influence and make it into something that is at least, partly its own. The guitar work on this record is certainly impressive throughout the album.

It's starkly obvious that the group has rehearsed a great deal, as they are profoundly tight while executing “Poisoned Souls”, a tune with a particularly proficient guitar rhythm. This release shows measured skill and experience and those factors are more than enough to make this record worth having.


Friday, October 10, 2008

APOCALYPTICA - Reflections

Nuclear Blast - 2005

Apocalyptica was a fascinating idea from the onset, the idea of performing thrash metal on cello is one of the most unique concepts to hit metal in the history of the genre.

The complexity of thrash does lend itself to classical music, with its swift tempos and scalar runs and when you incorporate the cello as an instrument into the equation, you are left with a product that is entertaining and most certainly, a deviation from the norm.

On “Reflections”, the trio melds thrash metal with classical chamber music and at times, industrial sounding beats. For the better part of the record, the cellos are in the foreground of the mix which makes for an interesting sound to say the least. Dave Lombardo (Fantomas, Slayer, Grip Inc.) makes his presence known at various points throughout the record, most notably on the stellar track “No Education”.

The three Finns are adept at creating awe inspiring harmonic arrangements that press the boundaries of what metal is considered to be with a tremendous amount of success. Apocalyptica enjoy a wide supporting cast on “Reflections”, but the spotlight shines squarely on the three maestros throughout the entire affair. There are seventeen pieces in total on the release, but when you listen to the record, the music really just blurs into one gigantic, magnificent song and the album is best taken in full when considering it for its artistic merit and relevance.

Highlights of the album however, include the soaring “Somewhere Around Nothing”, the edgy, pulsating “Resurrection” and the thrash paced “No Education”.

Having matured as performers and composers since the days of the “Plays Metallica By Four Cellos” record, the group has learned how to take this music and make it work in a frame that would be equally suitable in a moshpit or an elevator, if that is possible. Certainly their approach brings further credibility to the art form of thrash metal as a whole. It is easy to see a lot of University music instructors warming up to the genre when it is presented in such a fashion.

Truth be told, Eicca Toppinen, Perttu Kivilaakso and Paavo Lotjonen are expanding the horizons of several types of music at once with their compelling compositions and this is an album that should bring a great deal of pleasure to not only metal fans, but music lovers in general.


THE AERIUM - Song For The Dead King

Song For The Dead King
Black Lotus Records

"Song For The Dead King" is a melodic symphonic metal record that takes on a different sound than many of the female fronted acts that attempt this style.

The band's visually beautiful vocalist Veronika Sevostjanova is wonderfully talented. Her operatic voice is extremely disciplined and her technique leads to a majestic sound which is distinct and ear-catching.

This Russian quintet's dissimilarity to others leans heavily in their favor, as not only does the group manage to stir up compositions that have a sonance of their own, they perform these sophisticated methods with an admirable grace.

Musically, you will find structures ranging from Metallica type riffing to abstract orchestral arrangements. Andrey Grishin voices his keys in a manner that is reminiscent of several types of instruments, most notably violin.

Primarily, these accompaniments succeed because of Grishin's focus on the attack which he places upon the notes. On many occurrences, the listener will be duped into believing they are hearing the actual instrument as opposed to a MIDI generated effect and this is due to the keyboardist's fine sense of placement and the form of his envelopes.

Meanwhile, as Sevostjanova and Grishin are giving acts like Nightwish a lesson in the creation of epic harmony, Kirill Novikov provides the chugging axework that gives The Aerium it's distinctly metal edge.

A symmetry flows throughout this record that is impressive in the utmost. "Wanderer", embellished by its balance of soft vocal formations and chamber style keys combined with subtle symphonic hits placed in a matter which fosters a gentle emphasis might be one of the least metal cuts of the record, but it makes for an intensely dramatic interlude. Of the weightier material, "Queen Of Snows" stands out as the highlight piece, but each of this record’s songs is entertaining and worthwhile.

The Aerium is intellectually stimulating, captivating performers and are doubtlessly fascinating in its ubiquity. This is a great effort by some very talented musicians.