New Reviews 2003 Volume 1

Look for these updates about once every quarter.  I am still writing reviews, but on a much more limited basis.  My main creative energies are now focused on earning a masters degree.


ABORYM  Kali Yuga Bizarre  (9 tracks. 46:09).  WORLD WAR III

Italian band Aborym continues to gain notoriety for being one the mainstays of Mayhem session vocalist Atilla Csihar.  But they should be better remembered for their strange black metal. Of course, Csihar adds a distinctive element with his weird vocals, but it’s the music that makes this band distinctive.  Kali Yuga Bizarre is even better than their previous disc, Fire Walk With Us.  Present once again are the programmed drums and keyboards, but they sound perfectly suited for the music.  Especially good is the guitar work.  Some Dimmu Borgir or Old Man’s Child influence is detectable, I think; though track 3, “Hellraiser”, is pretty much a gothic tune showing the bands flexibility.  Also, “Tantra Bizarre” shows their experimental side with something of a black metal ebm/dance floor piece. And as usual, Aborym stoops to some Marduk-like blasphemy with “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus”.  Basically it has some preaching barked over the Bach classic, and then some experimental music.  My guess is that it is not “Vatican approved”!


AGALLOCH   The Mantle.  (9 tracks) THE END RECORDS.

From the time I first heard Agalloch I have been telling all my true metal friends about them.  You can agree that a lot of bands are good, even great, but with a band like Agalloch you feel like you have to compel others to hear them.  I find myself saying things like, “all you have to do is hear them and you’ll understand why I like them so much.”  But then I run into a bit of a worry: what if the debut album is the only good one? (I’m thinking Anathema here!).  What if the follow up is either boring repetition or an experimental diversion?  Will I be disappointed with the rest of the band’s work?  Well thankfully the answer is no.  The Mantle is similar in style to Pale Folklore without being repetitious.  The addition of J. William W. of The Nothing (bleak ambient electronic/industrial outfit) only enhances the overall melancholic experience.  I am pleased once again to recommend this exceptional band for all purveyors of truly artistic music.

          But how to describe this album?  Adjectives of emotion like dark, powerful, enthralling come to mind.  Musical categories?  Black metal, doom metal, progressive metal?  Bands like Avrigus, Kohllapse, Corvus Corax, and label mates, Green Carnation come to mind.  And while the press sheet’s description includes comparisons to experimental bands like Pink Floyd and Ulver, let’s not overlook the feel of epic power similar to the Asatru trilogy of Bathory (Blood, Fire Death; Hammerheart; and Twilight of the Gods) and Blood on Ice.  For me this kind of music is truly inspiring.  Keep it up!


ALLEGIANCE  Hymns of Blod  (14 tracks. 63:36).  MERCENARY/WWIII

I’m not sure, but it is my understanding that this is a “best of” album.  Allegiance is made up of members of Marduk (Bogge and Frerick).  Production is handled by Peter Tagtgren.  Reference is made in the promo sheet to three previous albums entitled, “Hymn Till Hangagud”, “Blodornsoffer”, and “Vrede”.  I assume these fourteen tracks are the best of those three albums.  The Swedish titles for these albums indicate Allegiance’s music is exclusively Viking while also having the trademark black metal sound.  And so I assume that Mercenary has put this compilation together for the American market.  Imagine a harsher Vintersorg.  Or better yet, Vintersorg and Marduk jamming together.  Also for fans of Borknagar.


ANTIMATTER      Saviour  (11 tracks.  52:05) BLACK MARK/THE END RECORDS.

A nebulous album like this is one is hard to categorize beyond calling it dark, moody, electronic, and experimental.  Perhaps I am just not familiar enough with this type of music to be able to describe it more accurately, but it borders on darkwave and industrial while maintaining elements of alternative. Like the post-modern framework that it exists in, there is a complexity of derivations here that identify it as art, if as nothing else.  Now if that sounds like a lot of babble, so be it.  Antimatter is mostly the work of Duncan Patterson and Michael Moss, but guest performers include Danny Cavenaugh, formerly a member of Anathema. It is too obscure and experimental to be alternative, but vocalist Michelle Richfield has a sultry voice like Gwen of No Doubt.  What else can I say?  It is haunting, emotional, and very intriguing.


ARWEN   Memories of a Dream   (11 tracks. 49:57).  ARISE RECORDS.

Almost every year a band emerges with an innovative sound to surprise and impress the metal world.  This year’s choice is Arwen from South America.  This band could win awards for being “Best New Band” as well as “Most Innovative Album”.  For one thing, you know a band is different when they have two vocalists, two guitarists, and two keyboardists.  Along with drums and bass, this band is not hurting for instrumentalists!  If Andrew Lloyd Weber were ever to compose a metal opera for Broadway, it may well sound like this.  The sound is obviously aimed at being theatrical, and along with Broadway, it also elicits comparisons to several of the rock operas of the 1970’s only with a modern metallic sound.  If you can imagine Styx or Jefferson Airplane with metal balls, you can begin to get a clue as to what I mean.  The band members are obviously passionate about their work and they have done a superb job of combining the rock opera vocals and musical structures with some classic metal guitars.  The result is one of the most unique and intriguing albums you will hear.  It is certainly one of the highlights of 2002/2003.


AXENSTAR  Perpetual Twilight  (9 tracks. 48:30).  ARISE RECORDS.Arise

Records’ commitment to becoming a serious metal label is similar to that of Limb Music Products.  Focusing largely on classic metal, prog-metal, and power metal, Arise has hit it off well.  This is very evident in Axenstar, a Swedish power metal band.  Those three words, “Swedish”, “power”, and “metal” should tell you all you need to know.  Axenstar’s formula consists of fast tempos with lots of double bass activity, high-octane guitar solos, and keyboards.  Fans of early Nocturnal Rites, Hammerfall and German bands like Helloween and Gamma Ray will love this CD.  What makes Axenstar distinctive is the dual vocals of brothers Thomas (guitar) and Magnus (keyboards) Erikson.  Together they sound like a Viking duet similar to Vintersorg.  This dual vocal delivery is a nice touch.  Perpetual Twilight is a solid release and serves to further build Arise Records’ credibility in the metal world.


CARPATHIAN FOREST  Strange Old Brew (12 tracks.  40:09).  WWIII/MERCENARY.

I am glad to finally get a chance to hear this band.  Carpathian Forest is one of those bands that get a lot of hype in the media, and now their album is no longer a pricey import.  Thanks to WWIII Music, you can now find this musical gem at your local music store.  Anyway, they are hyped as one of the bands that preserves the true spirit of black metal—just remember that guitarist Tchort is also the genius behind the smooth and dreamy Green Carnation!  In fact, at the bottom of the back cover of the CD is the appellation, “Misanthropic Black Metal.”  Well that is true in the same sense that Aura Noir preserves the spirit of early black/thrash metal.  What am I talking about?  I mean that like Aura Noir, Carpathian Forest are much more talented than the people they imitate, their music is better produced, and the sound is far more satisfying.  If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then I think Venom, Bathory, Celtic Frost, and Darkthrone ought to either be exuberant or jealous!  But underneath it all is a wicket sense of humor.  With titles like “The Suicide Song,” “The Good Old Enema Treatment,” and “He’s Turning Blue,” you know these guys are secretly laughing about it all.

My promo sheet on this band is lost somewhere, so I cannot remember who all is in the band.  But knowing that Tchort is in it is enough.  I recommend this album for fans of the early days of black metal and for those who just like good music.


CELESTY   Reign of Elements.  (9 tracks. 42:30).  ARISE RECORDS.

This group from Finland shares many common elements with their countrymen.  Imagine how Children of Bodom would sound with clean vocals and you get an idea of what Celesty sounds like.  Lightening fast guitars with plenty of crunch and great solo trade-offs between guitars and keyboards.  No wonder Arise is really pushing this band.  Celesty appeals to fans of clean, aggressive power/neo-classical metal with great solos.  Anyone who loves Children of Bodom, Warmen, Gamma Ray, and Iron Savior will really dig this band.  Excellent vocals, great instrumentals, tight playing . . . it’s all there.  Celesty are bound to become a favorite band of many a serious power metal fan.  While many such bands are excellent musicians, Celesty is a band that draws the listener back for repeated listens.


DECEMBER WOLVES  Blasterpiece Theatre.  (11 tracks). EARACHE.

I think brutal, sick, and comical describes this album pretty well.  December Wolves definitely represent the Earache Metal Ethic with their razor sharp but mega-heavy guitar sound and ferocious blast beats.  They also intend to offend all that is decent with songs like “Porn Again Christian.”  I saw the stills from the video and it was nasty.  I’m sure that this is the sort of entertainment that a lot of metal heads like for that very reason, but I think it is a waste of talent.  I think it is a mark of authenticity when a belief system is so consistently ridiculed and blasphemed as Christianity is.  Of course, those of you who are aware of who I am and what I do are not surprised by my comments.  Anyway, while the music is quite good, the message sucks.


DOMINION III   Life has Ended Here (7 tracks.  43:38).  NAPALM RECORDS

This is my second exposure to DIII, the first being The Hand and the Sword a couple of years back.  I have long enjoyed the juxtaposition of soft and harsh elements often found in dark ambient and electro-goth music, so this album is a welcome addition to my listening retinue.  Apparently other listeners of metal feel the same because there is everything out there from Mortiis and Theatre of Tragedy on the one side to Aborym and elements of recent Mayhem on the other.   Certainly DIII fit somewhere in between, like Circle of Dust, Argyle Park, or Anthropile.  Words like dark, understated, and intense come to mind. The harsh industrial male vocals are balanced by soft female on the other. I cannot say much more because I am not that knowledgeable of this genre.  Suffice it to say that DIII appeals to fans of dark electro-goth and are worth listening to if you like this sort of music.  I do.  I find it a welcome distraction.


FRETERNIA   A Nightmare Story (9 tracks.  49:55).  ARISE RECORDS.

Similar to Axenstar, Freternia are a Swedish power metal outfit.  Their use of melody in their choruses are especially reminiscent of Nocturnal Rites’ Tales of Mystery and Imagination album, though not as interesting.  All the expected elements are there:  guitars with flashy solos, high speed drumming, keyboards (including solos), etc.  Vocalist Pasi Humppi has a distinctively different voice.  It is very high pitched and shrill.  He sings with a bit of a gutteral growl, like a higher pitched Ronnie James Dio.  Not to my taste, actually.  As far as fulfilling the expectations of what a Swedish power metal band should sound like, Freternia are solid, but they do not cover any new ground.  For fans of Hammerfall.


IMMEMORIAL  Monologue (8 tracks. 38:38. 1 CD-Rom video. 12:11). CONQUER MUSIC.

Poland is the land of really angry metallers.  At least many of the bands I have heard from that country are extremely aggressive.  Along with a fine roster of other Polish bands like Hellborn and April Ethereal, Conquer Music has signed Immemorial.  Immemorial is a black/death metal band with excellent production.  But unlike some Polish black/death bands I’ve heard, Immemorial play with a great deal of diversity.  For one thing, they can play at a variety of speeds.  It is not all blindingly fast, but they mix up the tempos and show that a band in their genre can actually play riffs and solos at mid-pace and still sound brutal.  I was actually surprised to discover that the beastly vocals were actually done by a woman.  I shouldn’t be surprised as there are several deep guttural female vocalists these days (Shadow, Arch Enemy).  But I guess I was surprised because I would not have noticed it except for the fact that I read it somewhere.  I looked and sure enough, the singer is a girl.  She is, at least, more listenable than the other raw sounding female vocalists I’ve heard.  Then again, I may just be a chauvinist!  Also contained on the video is a video clip which is very well done. 


INCISION  Beneath the Folds of Flesh.  (9 tracks).  EARACHE.

I’m in a rush to finish this final update to my website before concentrating all my effort on graduate school.  I mention this only because I have misplaced the promo sheet for this release and do not remember where they come from, etc. (They look and sound Polish).  So bear this in mind.  Anyway, this is probably the first new death metal release I’ve heard in a while that qualifies as genuine grindcore, complete with gory title and lyrics!  could we be witnessing a pendulum swing back to the ultra-heavy?  It would seem so.  One might be tempted to lump this band in the same category as Decapitated, but Incision is much rawer sounding than Decapitated.  But perhaps they stand somewhere between Decapitated and groups like Impaler or Exhumed.  This album is definitely not for the weak!


LIGHT IS THE LANGUAGE    The Void Falls Silent (7 tracks).  GLADIATOR MUSIC.

It has been a while since I watched Pi (P) the movie, that oddball B-movie with a blend of Rabbinic Jewish mysticism, superstring theory, and cloak and dagger politics, but I feel like this band has encapsulated all that into the most intelligent, and most unusual hardcore/metal album you will ever hear.  Until recently I would not have thought of describing any hardcore band as thought provoking; to me the music was all about brutality.  But this band certainly changes all that.  But not only is this band mentally stimulating in terms of lyrics, but the guitar work of Donny and Brian (no last names) is not just breathtaking, it is also innovative.  No, make that brilliant!  Even the most skeptical of all non-hardcore metal fans would probably agree that Light is the Language is a band with a much broader appeal.


MASTERPLAN  Masterplan.  (11 tracks. 50:53).  PAINFUL LUST/THE END RECORDS

Power metal bands about these days and it is easy for me to get a promo CD like this and say, “oh, another power metal band . . .”  Nevertheless I try and give each disc a fair listen and this one rewarded me with multiple listens.  Featuring former members of Helloween (Roland Grapow, Uli Kusch), Iron Savior (Jan S. Eckert), session keyboardist Axel Mackenrott, and Ark vocalist Jorn Lande, Masterplan have quickly caught the ears of the industry and have even secured a spot on tour with Hammerfall.  Their collective backgrounds are noticeable in the music which they have combined with some very thought provoking lyrics.  The result is a very exciting but commercially viable disc.  Imagine a German version of White Snake.  Fans of Human Fortress should definitely check this band out.


MISTELTEIN  “Divine, Desecrate, Complete”  (10 tracks. 47:54). MERCENARY/WWIII.

I confess I didn’t expect much with the cover art and the title, but this album flat out kicked my ass!  Some of black metal’s heavier moments can be found here. Misteltein may well be Sweden’s big challenge to Dimmu Borgir and Old Man’s Child.  If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then Dimmu and OMC may need to worry because this brutal band has all the elements in order: killer riffs, harsh vocals, ethereal keyboards, and awesome production.  Notice especially “Where angels no more roam”. 


NAIL WITHIN  Nail Within (11 tracks + video. 36:36). LISTENABLE/THE END RECORDS.

Old school German style death thrash a la Kreator meets Gothenburg a la At The Gates via Israel in the form of Nail Within.  Not surprisingly, then, there are guest vocals on the album by none other than Mille Petrozza (Kreator) and Tomas Lindberg (At the Gates et al) and is produced by Harris Johns whose touch has been felt on other seminal albums like Pleasure to Kill (Kreator), Agent Orange (Sodom), and many others.  It is a recipe for success that these Israeli chefs have followed.  And I predict that fans of old school death/thrash will find this CD to be an answered prayer.  Available in the U.S. via The End Records.


NEMESIS   New Eden? (8 tracks. 53:39).  SENSORY RECORDS

It is always good to hear bands from Eastern Europe, especially progressive metal ones.  Bands like Archontes, Nordream, and Royal Hunt are just a few examples of great bands from the far side of Western civilization.  Nemesis are no exception.  They are a tight and repeatedly interesting band to listen to who hail from Hungary.  From one song to the next, while the sound is recognizably the same band, there is plenty of variety.  You get the feeling you are listening to a collection of songs rather than one long one.  Another plus on this album is that their lyrics make sense!  I say this because many bands from Eastern Europe, when they try to do English, make little to no sense.  Like many other prog-metal bands, Nemesis has the guitar/keyboard trade-off; they also have clean vocals.   Their use of melody and rhythm, dynamics, and multiple layers give Eden? the sound of professionalism lacking in many releases today.  Sensory is a very discriminating label in who they sign—and notice that they don’t bombard us with releases every year!  There is a reason for this:  they only want the best.  Nemesis is a great addition to their roster.


NIGHTINGALE  Alive Again:  The Breathing Shadow part IV.  (10 tracks.  49:23).  BLACK MARK/THE END RECORDS

It is not fair that Dan Swano has been blessed with so much talent.  I hadn’t heard Nightingale before this, but usually I associate Dan Swano with heavier stuff like Edge of Sanity, Katatonia, and Bloodbath.  I was not prepared for this album at all.  (Of course, I haven’t heard all of Swano’s stuff.  I admit I am a rookie here).  The music here is polished and very commercial progressive rock/metal.  It is also a great listen.  I’ve probably listened to this CD 30 times since receiving it.  I don’t know what better endorsement to give an album but to say that I listen to it frequently—especially when I have so many to listen to.  Swano’s voice is—shall I say it?—beautiful.  He has a smooth baritone that fits the music well.  Every song is a masterpiece.  The lyrics are heartfelt and genuine, not silly at all.  There is a bittersweet story involved and I would like to know more about it.  While this is metal for the lighter moments, it is substantive and will appeal to all who appreciate well-crafted music.  It is a masterpiece.


PARADISE LOST   Draconian Times.  (14 tracks).  KOCH ENT.

I first took a real interest in Paradise Lost when Gothic came out.  That album was a totally new experience for me.  It is high on my list of watershed albums along with Carcass’ Heartwork and Destruction’s Eternal Devastation.  But because the American market had sunk to the depths of the grunge debacle, Paradise Lost was not given their due.  So when Draconian Times came out as a follow up to Gothic, it had mediocre promotion and distribution here in the U.S.  It also didn’t help that the American company handling the Peaceville/Music For Nations bands was going under either.  Now with a resurging interest in REAL metal here in the U.S., and a fine company like Koch, great metallic masterpieces such as this one are getting a second chance at success.

The one word that describes a Paradise Lost album to me is “baptism”.  By this I mean what G.K. Chesterton called “a baptism of the imagination.”  But here perhaps the terminology should be a “baptism of the senses.”  One of the deepest impressions that an album like Draconian Times will leave on you is the sense of great power and emotion all channeled through guitars, drums, and vocals.  The lyrics are distinguishable and very thought provoking as well.  The overall sense is like I said, a baptism, a total immersion experience.

With Gothic Paradise Lost had moved away from death metal while retaining their unique use of melody.  This album continues that progression with some elements of gothic metal.  In fact, such bands as Love Like Blood certainly draw some inspiration from Paradise Lost.  This album bridges the gaps perfectly between death and gothic and certainly deserves the second chance it is getting.  What truly distinguishes it is that while gothic tends to be mediocre, Draconian Times is interesting and compelling through and through.  And while death metal tends to be monotonous, Draconian Times is quite musically engaging.  As an added bonus, this re-issue contains two bonus tracks from the DT recording sessions, the unreleased “Fear” and a cover of “How Soon is Now?” by the Smiths.  If ever curiosity prompted you to take a chance, now is the time to do it.


SKEPTICISM   The Process of Farmakon   (2 tracks.  18:28).  RED STREAM.

I have heard for a number of years that Skepticism is a great doom band.  Judging from these two songs I would have to agree that their music is very intriguing and a bit weird.  Now I know why they call it “funeral doom”.  The label makes sense.  And actually, it’s pretty cool, like a soundtrack for some B-movie (e.g., Carnival of Souls).  Anyway, I like it and recommend it to people with oddball tastes in bands like Long Winter’s Stare and the like. 


TIAMAT  Judas Christ  (13 tracks.  56:11). CENTURY MEDIA.

Let me say in advance that I’m going to be all over the place on this review.  This is THE Tiamat album with a “life affirming” type of message, that is, if you consider the atheistic form of existentialism to be life affirming.  Sartre would love this album, but in the end the lyrics wouldn’t give him more hope than his own philosophy did.

Musically, it is probably the most enjoyable album Johan Edlund has done since Clouds for me.  I know how critics tend to swoon for experimentation in the Pink Floyd mode, but for me such experimentation is rather boring.  Not to say that Tiamat has ever been boring, and not to say that there aren’t any Pink Floyd influences here, only on this album the band sounds more like a gothic metal band than just a gothic band.  In my opinion, it was the Lucyfire album that got Edlund and Co. on the right path for this album.  Overall, while the music is very gothic metal, it has a very straightforward, almost rock n’ roll style to it. It even has occasional shoegazer sounds in it.  And while the mood is very somber, it is not so gloomy and depressive as it may seem.  For instance, the song, “Vote for Love” is, like I said earlier, life affirming.  It is definitely a far cry from Sumerian Cry!  But the opening song is like just the right combination of Clouds and Wild Honey:  esoteric, dark, and philosophical all in one.  As Edlund says, “If Jesus was alive today, he would still see Judas as his brother.”  As a future Jesus scholar, I would have to agree wholeheartedly with that statement, but I am curious as to how Edlund arrived at that conclusion. 



There will always be heavy metal reverence in my heart for the voice of German power metal Udo Dirkschneider.  As a longtime fan of Accept who had the privilege of seeing them live on their 1985 Metal Heart Tour, the short man will always seem larger than life to me.  And his music since then has been consistently founded on the same principles of powerful dual guitars and Udo’s gritty voice.  You can here that coming through once again on this newest of his albums.  But there are two observations to be made here:  one is that this band exudes confidence from a long history of metallic performance.  Also, don’t forget that former Accept drummer, Stefan Kaufmann, plays guitar in this band.  The other observation, a little on the negative side, is that the formula is a bit predictable and nearly every song reminds me of Dogs on Leads.  But what can I say?  If he changed the formula people would complain about that?  Either way, you know what you are getting.  But there is one surprise here, a pleasant one at that.  I’m referring to the near-ballad duet with Doro Pesch entitled, “Dancing with an Angel.”


WINDS  Reflections of the I (16 tracks.  60:31) THE END RECORDS.

As I have listened and meditated upon this release for a long time now, I believe the best introductory line I can write about it goes something like this:  Some albums have an appeal that can go way beyond the genre they belong to.  The Reflection of the I by Winds is one such release.  Of course it has the expected heavy guitars, but aside from that, it has such a broad appeal that I cannot imagine any truly open-minded person not being impressed with this album.  True, lots of bands these days can combine heavy parts with mellow parts and also include piano and violin and clean vocals.  But his album is the textbook that the others should learn from.  This is not “like Therion” or “like” any other metal band, this is “like Beethoven” or “like Mozart.”  It is truly an inspired work of music, and I do not feel that I can write words commensurate with its beauty.  Suffice it to say that Winds would be a could touring partner for label mates, Sculpture.

It should also be noted that Winds belongs to a pool of musicians in Norway that makes up parts of other great bands like Arcturus, Ulver, Covenant/The Kovenant, and Mayhem.  That alone is recommendation enough.  Nevertheless, while the similarities are there, Winds has its own distinct flavor.

Finally, as you can imagine, with a title like, Reflections of the I, this album has the mood of existentialism.  I find existentialism very appealing, but only when it points us beyond ourselves.  Unfortunately, most existentialism, like that found here, only points one to his/her self, thus the title.  So lyrically this album is an journey of solipsism, and by now you know I cannot let a philosophical album pass without my own “two cents worth”!  Anyway, The Reflection of the I is bound to be one of the highlights of this year and will stay in my personal rotation while others get filed away.


WOLVERINE  The Window Purpose (10 tracks.  57:02) THE END RECORDS.

The Window Purpose is a dark spiritual journey, the search of a soul for purpose in a world of pain and shame.  This is one of those albums where you actually get out the lyrics and read them because the whole album is built around this story, and reading the story is essential to get a full appreciation of the music.  As far as I can tell, the story is about a boy who was abused physically and/or sexually.  It describes how a child in such circumstances becomes withdrawn from society and introspective.  There is a brief ray of light when the love of a woman comes into his life, but he is unable to reveal his dark secret to her.  Ultimately, the character commits suicide and slowly dies while a life support system keeps his body breathing.  The story ends with the dead man waiting in eternity for his one true love, the woman, to join him.  It is a tragic story that seeks to embody the hellish and tortured world of the abused, which it does very convincingly. 

The music that supports this social commentary is a very well planned and technical blend of Swedish progressive metal with power metal.  As the story line has emotional highs and lows, so the music also has moments of power, moments of melancholy, and moments of grace.  Comparisons have been made with Dream Theatre and Nevermore that I think are not too far off the mark.  But understand that this band has a distinctively Swedish sound.  And with that in mind, you do understand that it is a very well written, produced, and executed album.  It is a little different in sound from most of the albums handled by The End Records, but then again, the words “dark spiritual journey” could apply to just about any release on this cool label.


WUTHERING HEIGHTS   To Travel For Evermore  (9 tracks.  57:03).  SENSORY.

Purveyors of neo-classical metal who cannot get enough of a good thing will be pleased to discover Wuthering Heights.  This band immediately conjures images of Rhapsody—though not quite so bombastic, and minus the choirs—Stratovarius, Edenbridge, and Human Fortress.  For an emerging group they have a very classic sound.  Erik Ravn, for one, is a dazzling guitarist.  At times he reminds me of Luca Turilli, but he seems to be more interested in upholding the musical structure of the song rather than creating musical backdrops for soloing.  Nevertheless, he shreds.  Keyboardist Rune Brink is obviously as talented as Ravn, but again the emphasis is on the whole music, not on showing off.  The two make a great pair.  Vocalist Kristian Andren has a classic voice in the tradition of Klaus Meine (spelling?) of the Scorpions.  While this band doesn’t really cover any new ground in terms of metallic compositions, they are a top-notch operation.  In sum, those of you who are very picky about the music you buy will not be disappointed with what this band has to offer. Each song from intro to finish is calculated to mathematical and musical perfection.  You will be hard pressed to find any flaws.  The songs have real character and it sounds like they’ve been planning this album for a long time.




*For the latest information on the Christian death metal band DAEMONGRINDER, including ordering info for the 8 song debut CD, Inhuman Acts of Brutality ($10 U.S. / $12 Outside U.S.), check out the Official Daemongrinder website at:


Critique:  Two mp3’s available.  The drum machine hinders the quality of the recording a bit. 


* SORROWSTORM is a black metal band from Panama, the only one in this nation with Christian lyrics.  Sorrowstorm's CURSED FIRES OF GEHENNA song has made it to number 2 on the black metal Charts. Sure, it might last for a few days or even a week, but this has been a huge accomplishment for us. The ratings for this song are pretty high. Go to to download that song.  For more info:


Critique:  This is good stuff.  You can download a whole album worth of mp3’s here.  The music is excellent.  I was quite surprised since the band is practically unheard of and comes from an unlikely place.


* My name is Stefano.  I created a darkwave band in Italy called DORCHA.  If you wish to get more information on my band, please visit:


Critique:  Three mp3’s available.  Interesting darkwave with vocals.


*New album by HEARKEN.  Check it out on our page on our website .  Major credits cards accepted as well.  We are just starting the reviews since the Album is just off the press.  Also we have a new email address


No critique.


*Sermon of Hypocrisy (English Black Metal) has a new site and it's just gone live. If you wish to exchange links please email us back. Two songs from the new EP are available to download. Please tell us what you think in our deathbook.