The releases this time around brought me a lot of joy.  In particular, Aina, Udo, and the 20th Anniversary re-recorded Warriors of the Son by my teenage heroes, Saint! Also, don't miss my interview with SYBREED


AINA  “Days of Rising Doom:  The Metal Opera” (3 discs).  TRANSMISSION/THE END.

Rating:  10!

If in the past the word “opera” used been used in a rather casual manner by metal bands and/or projects without respect to what the word means.  The word has finally found a legitimate use in Aina.  Predominantly the brainchild of neo-classical metal gods Sasha Paeth and Miro, Aina possesses an enviable roster of metal greats and an unbelievable collection of songs.  The first time I heard this disc I was stuck in bad traffic in Atlanta—and I didn’t even care!  I wanted to be late for class because this album was simply blowing me away.  Simply put, I was awestruck.

          The songs on this album are superbly written and contain choirs of voices as well as real orchestration—we’ve come to expect this from Paeth and Miro.  But this is not like Rhapsody or Avantasia, it is way better.  Best of all, there is a tremendous amount of musical variety represented here.  There is even a song, “Silver Maiden,” which could have been written by Tim Rice for a Disney film.  That being said, this release does not lack metal balls.  There some songs here that flat out shred.  But, the listener will appreciate the depth and scope of these two metal visionaries in creating a multivalent metal masterpiece truly worthy of the word “opera”, story included.

The roster for this project is a mile long, but it includes members of Heaven’s Gate, Rhapsody, for starters.  Vocal guests include people like Thomas Youngblood from Kamelot, Olaf Heyer of Lord Byron and Luca Turilli, and Herbe from Seventh Avenue just to name a few.  It’s a veritable whose who of classic metal. 

Finally, the promo is only one disc.  There is a second disc of music and a DVD with the actual release.  You know what this means?  It means I will be buying another copy of it.  I love it.


ANNIHILATOR  “All For You” (10 tracks).  AFM/THE END RECORDS.

Rating:  6.5.

          I know Annihilator have been around for a while now, but I do not recall if I have ever heard them before.  What I appreciate about this album is that this band does not seem to care what the latest trend in metal is, they simply play thrash—a rare commodity today.  It’s like they are saying, we like 80’s metal and that’s what we are going to play.  I applaud them for that.  Songs like “Dr. Psycho” and “Demon Dance” have that hyperspeed riffing like old Exodus and Slayer.  But the funny thing is that they also seem to have a fondness for 80’s ballads too.  (Think Night Ranger here).  It is almost like listening to two different bands.  Compare “The Sound of Horror” with “Holding On” and you will see exactly what I mean.  Nevertheless, aside from predictable (occasionally cheesy) lyrics and the disconnect in styles, there is some solid metal here for the fan of 80’s metal.


ENSOPH  “Opus Dementiae: per speculum et in aenigmate“ (10 tracks).  CRUZ DEL SUR.

Rating:  8.

Think Samael mixed with Notre Dame, Circle of Dust, and To Die For, or if you are familiar with Maldorer, you can get an idea what this band is like.  It’s quite a mix of styles; quirky and way out in left field.  Obviously there are heavy guitars, but keyboards, programmed loops, female vocals, demonic Popeye vocals, synthesized vocals, fretless bass, flutes—you name it, they are all there.  Thus, it is a good example of Euro-cybermetal—part metal, and part electro-goth and dark ambient.  Their name comes from Medieval Jewish Mysticism.  Ensoph (really two words:  “ain” and “soph”), means something like, “the beyond”.  It would be hard to know if this band really knows much about Kabbala, but I suspect it is all just for atmosphere.  They also take a shot at Christianity with “White Lamb Seducer.”  Lots of other esoteric “traditions” are tapped here for lyrical inspiriration as well, like the Greek-inspired, “Sophia’s Fall” (a remake of a tune by Das Ich—talk about Freudian spirals!)  Otherwise, it is quite interesting musically, kind of captivating at times.   Also for fans of such diverse bands as Golden Dawn, Hollenthon, and Aborym.


ETERNAL FLIGHT  “Positive Rage”  (11 tracks).  CRUZ DEL SUR.

Rating:  7.

A lot of people will go nuts over this album.  Eternal Flight, a band formed out of the ashes of Dream Child (ex-Metal Blade), sound like the French version of Iron Maiden.  I expect they will be a great success among fans of NWOBHM, particularly the Maiden type.  It’s just that I find this kind of music a little too formulaic and commercial.  Also, while I believe vocalist Gerard Fois’s style will appeal to a lot of people, it gets on my nerves a bit.  Basically, then, what I am trying to do with this review is tell you that it isn’t my thing, but I believe a lot of other people will love it.


JORN  “Out to Every Nation”  (10 tracks + video clip).  AFM/THE END RECORDS.

Rating:  8.

Jorn Lande is one of those velvet-voiced singers who prefer aggressive music to pop stardom.  Fans of David Coverdale (you know, Whitesnake) and Glen Hughes will be pleased to get their hands on this fine disc.  I think his voice could also be described as Hagar-esque.  There’s lots of Deep Purple, Whitesnake, influence here, but with a decidedly Scandinavian vibe (always a good thing).  Each song is  carefully crafted around the vocals/lyrics, but there is no scrimping on the music.  Guitarist Jorn Viggo Lofstad flat out wails, drummer Stian Kristoffersen and bassist Magnus Rosen fill in the gaps with some solid work.  Keyboards are supplied by Ronny Tegner.  Had this album come out about 20 years ago, we’d be going to see these guys in a stadium.


LIFEEND  “Innerscars”  (9 tracks).  CRUZ DEL SUR.

Rating:  7.

When you first listen to this album, the mixture of elements will baffle you.  Just what exactly is this?  Death?  Prog?  Black?  It is really a tough call, but I always say that when a band is a complex mixture of styles, it ultimately has to be called progressive.  In this case:  progressive death metal.  But even this is confounding given the occasional flute, sax, programming—each of these elements are minor compared to Ensoph (above).  Then there is the fact that the vocalist is a female with quite a nice voice.  I think Lifeend are a cross between Lacuna Coil and Madder Mortem. They totally switch styles at times when you cannot expect it.  It has to grow on you—which is what I figure will happen to me.


NOVEMBER’S DOOM “To Welcome the Fade” + bonus disc.  Reissue from The End Records.

I am doing this review as a courtesy to my good friends at The End Records (translation:  I paid for this with my own money!).  You may recall that To Welcome the Fade originally appeared on Dark Symphonies.  Since then Nov’s Doom has moved over to The End and this re-issue is the first Nov’s Doom release for them.  What makes this disc special is that it comes with a bonus disc which contains the awesome “For Every Leaf that Falls” E.P. plus two live cuts and a video.  Best of all is the price if you order it directly from the label as I did.




SLAVEMACHINE  “Disfigured Consciousness”  (11 tracks).  REALITY ENTERTAINMENT.

Rating:  7.

Post-Metallica and post-Industrial, this band has a straight-edged sound which borders on both metal and nu-metal. Their bombastic groove-style will appeal more to younger fans than those of us with more “traditional” taste.  Nevertheless, they have the potential to catch the interest of older fans—and would really do so if their pseudo-thrashy riffs were sped up a bit!  There is almost something here for the Machinehead fan, but clearly the influence of nu-metal is present.  Even though it’s not my thing, and I will probably pass it on to my son (minus the artwork, which is inappropriate!), I will admit that the music is actually quite good.  Those readers who know the Canadian band Erace will appreciate this band’s style.


STINKING LIZAVETA  “Caught Between Worlds“ (16 tracks).  AT A LOSS

Rating:  7.5.

SL is an instrumental band with a real stoner-meets-fusion jazz sound.  Think Spaceboy without vocals, and lots of Hendrix influence.  There are no vocals on this disc, but they are not needed, the song titles alone are interesting and suggestive.  Such titles include, “I Denounce the Government”, “Someone’s Downstairs”, and “Prayer for the Living”.


UDO  “Thunderball”  (11 tracks).  AFM/THE END RECORDS.

Rating:  9.

Like most CD’s that come my way for review, it has already been reviewed by someone higher up the food chain.  I was intrigued but understandably skeptical when I read that one reviewer called it the “best Accept album since Russian Roulette.”  But this statement in itself is a hint that there is something different about Thunderball.  Udo Dirkschneider and company have consciously created something here of their glory days in Accept.  To me it’s a lot like Restless and Wild and Balls to the Wall but definitely better than Russian Roulette.  I would say that it has a more “classic” sound than Udo’s more recent albums.  And like the nostalgic sap that I am, I have been listening to it a lot.  The bottom line is, for those of you who love old Accept, don’t miss it.

DARKTHRONE "Sardonic Wrath"
JIGSORE TORTURE "World End Carnage"
SAINT "Warriors of the Son" 20th Anniversary

  You will be satisfied.