Tag Archives: power metal

Plains of Oblivion: Are Blackment the Start of the New Wave of Finnish Heavy Metal?

Blackment, in case you couldn’t guess by the title, are a melodic heavy metal band from Finland. I hadn’t heard of the band before but we got sent the album a week or two ago for review. It comes out today so we thought we’d let you know what we thought!

‘Apparatus’ opens heavy with a great synth behind it, giving the death metal an 80s edge. It then opens up into a fantastic thrash riff, already a highlight. It stays thrashy as the harsh vocals come in for the verse, before it suddenly changes pace into some proggy, jazzy rock. The chorus after is really catchy too thanks to some cleaner power metal vocals ringing through. This really has a bit of everything so far. A ripping, technical guitar solo or three follows the second chorus. It makes me in no way jealous of their talent at all… However surprisingly, the song fades out after this. One the one hand, it’s always fun to not know what’s coming. On the other hand, I feel like another big chorus could have really helped cement this track as a top tier opener.

‘Remnants Astray’ opens on a prog as fuck riff and I’m all for it. The synths are behind it to give it such a huge sound, too. The power metal is back the powerful clean vocals come in over the top of a great, epic riff. It stays heavy and interesting though, two things that I find are my two downfalls when it comes to power metal so this is excellent. The kinda harsh vocals return for the bridge after the second chorus, but they are still rather clean, like a Matt Heafy kind of sound. There’s more absolutely incredible guitar soloing afterwards, so good it would probably make Steve Vai jealous. We then get a final epic chorus to close up. This was utterly fantastic, I loved it. It very easily made our playlist.

‘Clouds’ is a slightly slower but in no way less epic riff. The clean vocals sound even bigger and more powerful here given that the riff is bigger and it’s all backed by some great strings and even some operatic backing. Also, the backing vocals for the chorus make it even catchy and again we get the kind of half-scream on the back of it. It’s still a harsh vocal but most not familiar with scream would probably still be able to understand what is being said. The best of both worlds, so to speak. It feels almost redundant at this point to say there was a good guitar solo in the track, but you’ll never guess what… there was! Another song that I cannot praise enough, this was phenomenal. Playlisted!

If I didn’t feel like a vastly inferior musician before, ‘Composure’ definitely made it clear. This is awesome riff after awesome riff and I love it. The Trivium-style vocals are back in full force for this track too, which is another huge positive for me. It honestly feels like ‘Ascendency’, which for anyone who knows that album is very high praise. Again there is nothing but praise I can give for this track. The third in a row to make the playlist. This album better chill out or I’mma get in trouble for it all making it to our Spotify!

The most recent single, ‘Northern Lights’, starts folky as hell. To carry on the feeling, a modern day Maiden riff comes in over the top of it all, sounding great. This whole track in fact is like a heavier Iron Maiden song, it’s great! The same could be said for the following track, ‘Grasp of Hel’, too. Both are great songs that somehow sound like power metal, NOWBH while also sounding modern and following the bands sound. You definitely know it’s Blackment when hearing the tracks.

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The title track brings the heaviness and progginess back with a huge but fantastically technical couple of riffs. Even when the guitars are doing stuff like this, the band add synths and strings and stuff to really pack out the sound. It makes it all sound huge. The pre and chorus are massively catchy too even as the vocal melody jumps all over the place. It’s so interesting and I couldn’t stop listening to it, skipping it back a couple of times at least. Some more awesome guitar soloing and even a jazzy as fuck bassline round out this AWESOME track. Playlisted, it’s amazing.

‘Desolation Fields’ brings back the blackened death metal for a slow intro that builds into a hugely heavy track. The heaviness continues through the final two tracks too, single ‘Maw of the Dread’ and album closer ‘The Ruins’. However, the band also blend it masterfully with their epic power metal side. All three tracks are fantastic and the latter is a great closer. In a time where most bands seem to follow the weird trend of putting the lightest track last, I’m glad this was still pretty heavy. Three great tracks that I’d just gush over the same points for if I didn’t clump them together. Great stuff!

Overall: this was MUCH better than I was expecting. Granted, I went into it with zero expectations, but they blew the roof off my mind. Everyone involved with this is a master of their craft, be it guitars, vocals, songwriting, even production, it’s all top notch. I’ve already listened to this a few times and I don’t think I’ll be stopping any time soon!

The Score: 9/10

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Kingdemonium: My New Favourite Power Metal Album?

German power metallers Hammer King are set to release their fifth studio album this week, Kingdemonium. We managed to get a sneak preview so read below to see what we thought of it!

The album starts off strong with ‘Invisible King’. An awesome power metal riff is backed up perfectly by some solid drumming. It drops down to drums and bass for the verse, the powerful, higher vocals fitting great over the top. The guitars come back in for the pre, harmonies adding perfectly to the vocals and it all having a huge, epic sound to it.

It then opens up even more in the chorus, it reminding me of Iron Maiden’s ‘Longest Day’ in that the pre is big enough to be a chorus on its own, but the chorus itself takes it to even huger heights. The call and response backing vocals in the chorus make it even catchier, too. We of course get a fantastic guitar solo because power metal, it also reminding me a lot of modern Maiden. The a double chorus takes us home. A simple, straight to the point, awesome rock song. Playlisted!

Another single, ‘Pariah is my Name’, is up next. After another fun, epic metal riff it boarders on thrash territory for a fast verse. It reminds me more of Sabaton when they speed up. The pre feels like it’s building to something huge again but instead it drops back a bit, hitting hard with a straight-forward chorus. It’s still catchy as anything thanks to the great vocal melody and heavy instrumentation. A great riff follows out the second chorus and again leads to a fantastic technical guitar solo. The short bridge leading into the final chorus was also awesome, adding in some chanted vocals that would go down a storm live. Hammer King are two for two so far, another great song playlisted!

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‘We Shall Rise’ opens on an extended, awesome harmonic guitar riff. It then heads into exactly what you’ expect from power metal, and it’s awesome. This is similar to the opening track in terms of structure, building more and more epicness throughout the track. The chorus is catchy as anything, especially with the ‘rise’ chants. Pointing out the awesome guitar solo feels redundant at this point but yep, there’s one here too! The rest of the track is again awesome power metalness through and through.

‘Live Long, Die Nasty’, alongside ‘Guardians of the Realm’, ‘Mark of the Beast’, ‘Other Kingdoms Fall’, ‘The Four Horsemen’, and the title track all follow similar formulas. Don’t get me wrong, they are all great songs. Songs that I’ll be listening to a lot still moving forward. They just all abide by the typical intro, (verse + chorus)x2, bridge/solo, chorus end, structure. Lumping them all together as they are all fantastic songs, especially the album closing track. It simply makes this review a nicer read so you aren’t reading the same thing over and over. All good songs, I’ve just already said what I’d want to say about them in previous paragraphs.

‘The 7th of the 7 Kings’ opens straight into vocals, a beautiful clean guitar behind them. The band wear their Maiden influence on their sleeve as this whole thing reminds me so much of Moonchild. And of course, for those who don’t know, go look up what album said song opens. It explodes into a HUGE metal riff after the opening verse before dropping back a bit again for more vocals. The drums and bass were a nice touch this time though, adding some dynamics and layers.

The epicness of course builds through a catchy-ass pre until an absolutely massive chorus comes in. Both sets of vocals, the lead and backing, are catchy as hell and make it all sound Homeric. The duelling lead guitars were fantastic, as were the operatic-style vocals in the background between the solos. Yes, solos. There is more than one and they’re all awesome. The outro is amazing too and I know I’m using the word too much but this whole track gives a new meaning to the word epic. Power metal done very right. Playlisted.

Finally we have the prog track of the album, the near 8-minute epic ‘Age of Urizen’. Opening on a short acoustic guitar riff it soon drops into a huge heavy one. It stays quick and heavy for the riff, again the backing vocals adding an epic edge to it with all the ‘oo’s and ‘oh’s. The chorus opens up into slower, effortlessly catchy vocals.

After a short bridge out of the second chorus we get an amazing duelling lead guitar line, the harmonies sounding excellent. The band do a good job of filling out the sound behind it too, a lot of bands leave it to the low bass and it sounds like a big empty gap, but here it filled out well. The soloing continues for a bit, making me not at all jealous of their talent. We then get another verse and chorus before a catchy-as outro takes us home in style. This didn’t feel like 7:30 at all. It followed the typical structure but gave everything such space to breath that it felt massive. Good stuff!

Overall: This was awesome! Being so up and down with power metal I didn’t expect to like this as much as I did, but I loved it. The band are all insanely good musicians and their songwriting is off the charts. I’m going to have to check out their older stuff now and hopefully they tour in the UK sometime soon!

The Score: 8/10

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New Music Mondays: Motionless in White, Kreator and More!

Another week stacked full of new music, this time primarily metal. Also, both myself and Charlotte are tackling this one together, as I had a crazy busy weekend. Without further ado, let’s get cracking!

Motionless In White: Scoring the End of the World

I was never really a fan of this band. Another that my friends all liked when we were growing up that I never really ‘got’. However, this was great! Leaning heavier into the industrial side of metal as opposed to their earlier metalcore stuff, it’s like a heavier, catchy Marylin Manson. ‘Meltdown’ is a great opener with some catchy hooks and melody and suitible heaviness, though the lyrics being about the last couple of years felt just a tad cringy. Tracks like ‘Sign of Life’ and ‘Cyberhex’ also draw on the bands nu-metal influences with the rapping, it sounding like a great mix of Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park.

However, the biggest highlight for me is ‘Werewolf’. It’s heavily influenced by 80s pop and synth but still maintains the heaviness the band are known for. And it fits the song title perfectly, it feels like a horror song. It’s amazing. Subsequent tracks ‘Porcelain’ and ‘Slaughterhouse’ are also fantastic. A surprisingly great album.

Charlotte: Motionless in White’s Scoring The End Of The World embodies man’s inhumanity and explores the struggles we’re facing today – everything from violence and leadership to inequality and global warming.

As an album with an important but heavy message, I think you can subconsciously expect the music to be pretty either too heavy or too soft but I think this album hits it just right and it’s definitely something I’ll listen to again.

8.5/10

Kreator: Hate Uber Alles

German thrash legends Kreator released their whopping 15th studio album last week. I have to admit that as much of a thrash head I am, I have slept on the German scene for years without really any reason to. This album very much shows me the error of my ways. It is a brutal assault of the senses from start to finish and touches on some pretty interesting topics lyrically. It reminds me a lot of Slayer’s best work. The band did a good job at picking the singles too, as all of them (alongside the opening track) are definite highlights of the album. The inclusion of sofia portanet on ‘Midnight Sun’ was a nice addition too, adding an almost symphonic metal element to the album. Another good album. 8/10

Wind Rose: Warfront

Charlotte: Wind Rose’s album Warfront took me by surprise. For an album written specifically for a video game, I wasn’t sure if it would engage me enough but I can’t deny the composition is fantastic.

I don’t think this is an album I could listen to on repeat, it’s not exactly written for car sing-alongs or festival crowd surfing, but it’s impressive all the same.

Joe: Italian ‘dwarf metallers’ Wind Rose have gained quite the following thanks to their Tolkein-inspired lyrics and getup. Their last album was fantastic (who can’t love ‘Diggy DiggyHole’?) and this one very much continues that same energy. Opener ‘Army of Stone’ is a great track and one of the singles, ‘Together we Rise’, is still enjoyable even though I’ve already been listening to it for a month to get on the hype train. Sometimes power metal takes itself far too seriously, and it’s nice that some bands can still have fun with it, too. 7.5/10

The Dream Syndicate: Ultraviolet Battle Hymns and True Confessions

Switching gears away from metal for just a se3cond, we get alt-rock pioneers The Dream Syndiate and their eighth studio album. It isn’t especially my thing, but it is enjoyable. It’s chilled out, punk-inspired soft rock, and it’s amazing background music. There’s not quite enough going on to keep my little ADHD brain interested fully, but it is far from boring. ‘Damian’ and ‘Every Time You Come Around’ were particular highlights for me. 6.5/10

Yatra: Born Into Chaos

This band are on their fourth album in four years. Even if you don’t like death/extreme metal, you’ve got to at least admire their work ethic. Heck, it’s a tiny bit heavy even for me, with the growls being a little hard to hear at times. However, the instrumentation was fantastic and off-set a the vocals a fair bit for me. The riffs were incredible, venturing into black and doom metal with ease and almost grace throughout the album. I wouldn’t go out of my way to listebn to it but I also wouldn’t turn it off if it came on! 5/10

Wolfsbane: Genius (Wolfgenius)

Poor Blaze Bayley. He gets such a bad rep from the metal community because he simply wasn’t Bruce Dickinson. Sure, his tenure in Maiden gave us X Factor, but it also gave us The Clansman, so it was not all bad. Blaze’s original band, Wolfsbane, reunited the band when he parted ways with Maiden and has put out some great music since then. Their new one is no different. Having a punk edge to the NWOBHM sound, not too dissimilar to Wildhearts, the album is a fun collection of catchy choruses and grungy guitar riffs. Tracks like the opener and ‘Rock the Boat’ stood out to me as some of the best on the album and give off a good idea of what the band are like for new listeners! 7/10

Check out our review of Iron Maiden’s latest album here.

Black Therapy: Onward

While it boarders black metal and regular readers know my feeling on said sub-genre, there is enough melody and death metal in here to keep me interested and enjoying it. It’s definitely not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but I again find myself drawn to the sick riffs and awesome drumming. Don’t get me wrong though, those deep growls are insane. ‘Blindness’ was a particularly great highlight, but the whole album is a pleasant surprise! 7/10

Megasnake: Charming

Charlotte: As a first time listener of Megasnake, I didn’t know what to expect. After listening to their latest release Charming, I’m left wondering why I haven’t heard of them before? I loved this album.

The style is right up my street – that classic rock sound combined with gritty and powerful vocals (reminiscent of Chris Robertson), and not to mention the quality of the album’s production is superb. 

I expect to see them hitting some major new wave of classic rock festivals in the UK next year. 7.5/10

And there we have it, another great week for rock music in the bag! Next week promises to be just as good, too, so make sure to keep an eye on our Facebook here for all of our content.

New Music Mondays: Billy Talent, Comeback Kid and More!

Another week, another round-up of the album releases and me giving you my opinion on them. A real mixed bag this week. A lot of punk, a splash of metal and even some country wiggling its way in too! Check out all the new music below!

Billy Talent: Crisis of Faith

Opening your first album back in six years on a nearly 6-minute, two-part track is a ballsy move, but ‘Forgiveness I + II’ is just the tip of the awesomness iceberg (but it’s a good tip, especially with that saxophone). From there the band rip into their awesome, balls-to-the-wall lead single ‘Reckless Paradise’ and equally great ‘I Beg to Differ’. I could sit here all day and go over all ten awesome tracks on the album, but instead I’ll just say CHECK THIS OUT. I can see this being up in contender for album of the year in 11 months time, it’s that good. 9/10

Comeback Kid: Heavy Steps

The hardcore punk icons returned with their seventh studio album this last week. I know of the band but they were always a little heavy for me back in my youth. Therefore, I have no real reference point with this compared to their older stuff, bar the odd song. It sounds pretty decent though. Unfortunately like most hardcore music, it does get a little repetitive towards the end. If you like that kind of music I’m sure you’d love it, but it got a little old for me around the 2/3rds mark. 6.5/10

Yard Act: The Overload

The Leeds-based post-punk band released their debut album on Friday. I’d never even heard of them before but I have to admit, I liked what I heard. The Overload is an entertaining, funny blend of early Arctic Monkeys and Blur. It’s an entire album of ‘Parklife’, but far angrier and politically charged. It’s lyrically fantastic and the instrumentation is good enough to carry the rest of the tracks through. Highlights include ‘Dead Horse’, ‘Rich’ and ‘Land of the Blind’. 8.5/10

Dollyrots: Down the Rabbit Hole

Strap in guys, it’s a long one. An hour and twelve minutes, 24 songs and two discs. Some would argue that is far too much pop-punk. I would agree, but the second disc is all covers, and it’s massively enjoyable. That’s not to take away from the first disc, it’s also enjoyable, but none are exactly ‘Ruby Soho’ or ‘Walking On Sunshine’. A good album, but it was definitely helped along bvy some kickass punk covers. 7.5/10

Battle Beast: Circus of Doom

A band that I seem to be seeing and hearing everywehre at the minute, Battle Beast returned with their sixth album this last week. The power metal sextet once again knock it out of the park, with epic instrumentation, soaring vocals and enough heaviness to keep even the most loyal metalhead happy. Tracks like the opener and ‘Master of Illusion’ are awesome and well worth checking out no matter what your music tastes. HOw is power metal not a bigger genre by now? 8/10

If you like this, check out our Powerwolf review!

Age of Apocalypse: Grim Wisdom

Doom/thrash metal band (not the fantastic X-Men storyline that Google brings up) return with their second album, Grim Wisdom. Short, sweet and straight to the point, the album is a 27-minute schooling on modern darker metal. It’s heavy, steady and sludgy, and everyone plays their parts perfectly. Highlights include ‘Valley of the Mystic’ and ”Ghost (Hart Island)’. 7.5/10

Walker Hayes: Country Stuff The Album

It has come to my attention that a lot of rock fans, much like myself, are also country fans, especially in the UK. So we figured we’d start covering a bit of that, too!

Walker Hayes has released a very steady stream of music, this being only his third album since debuting in 2011. However each album has been pretty good, and this one is no exception. For those who don’t know he’s the one who did ‘Facny Like’, a tune, even if it’s too popular for how many better country songs there are. ‘U Gurl’ and ‘Drinking Songs’ are also ggood. 7/10

And there we have it guys, another week down. This one was a strong one, with great releases across the board from metal to rock to country, and lots of it! I would recommend you check out all of it this week, not a single dud album. Tune in next week for a big one… Jethro Tull!

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Call of the Wild: Can the German power metallers POWERWOLF deliver another stellar album yet again?

Powerwolf has been around for a while now, releasing eight studio albums throughout their nearly 20-year career. In that time they have established themselves as one of the powerhouses of the genre and a must-see band live. Their latest album, Call of the Wild, is under our microscope today for New Music Monday. Having not listened to this band too much aside from their bigger songs, I have to say I’m pretty excited as I always need more power metal in my life!

‘Faster Than the Flame’ starts with some epic chanting and strings, immediately setting an awesome tone and feel to it. It then descends into the opening chorus, the vocals sounding powerful and great with some huge guitar chords and drums behind them. A quick verse riff follows afterwards – the drums’ double bass working overtime behind it. It drops down a little, some more chanted vocals in what I assume to be German, before that awesome catchy chorus comes back again. It’s already stuck in my head for the rest of the day and I’ve only heard it twice. We get a short bridge before a pretty great guitar solo, fast and technical for the first half before it slows down a little in the second part to match the rest of the instruments. It drops down again into another bridge with some catchy chants that build perfectly into a final chorus. This was a good song and a great start to an album, making the playlist!

The lead single of the album, ‘Beast of Gevaudan’, is up next. It opens on another build-up of chanting, this time it heads straight into a fantastic guitar and keys riff. The epicness definitely remaining from the previous song. Most of the instruments drop out for the verse, leaving just the powerful vocals and some basic drums. It builds up perfectly into the heaviness of another catchy chorus, though it wasn’t quite as good as the previous one. A lot was going on in it and even though there were more great backing vocals and harmonies, I think it was just a tad too wordy. We get an awesome breakdown after the second chorus with the strings and chanting coming back, easily signalling the pyro cue for live shows. The bridge between it and the solo sounds like it could have been ripped straight from a Maiden song, but that doesn’t take away its awesomeness. Another great solo leads to a dropped-down chorus, one that builds into a huge, epic final chorus. It was a good song overall, but I preferred the opener a fair bit more.

Another single ‘Dancing With the Dead’, is next. It opens on another epic power metal riff, the drums soon coming in to add the fast driving force behind it. It again drops down for the verse, mainly focusing on the vocals, strings, and keys. It builds well into the huge, heavier chorus – this one being a little simpler and catchier vocally. The second verse and chorus have a little more instrumentation to them, adding some great dynamics to the song. The more I hear the chorus, the more I fall in love with it, and it is going to be another track stuck in my head for days to come. The solo in this song is slower, re-treading the vocal melody for the most part, but it sounds awesome. If anything, it may be better than their crazy fast playing in the last two songs. It then heads into a final double chorus to end another fantastic song and one that rather easily made the playlist.

‘Varcolac’ opens on some more choir-style vocals and I have to admit it’s starting to wear a little thin on me already – not a good sign for a power metal album. Still though, the riff that proceeds it is pretty great. It’s a little steadier than I’m used to from the band so far. The verse maintains the same steady speed and riff, although they mention the song title so much in the lyrics that I was worried I’d gotten it confused and it was the chorus instead. I’m still a tad confused, but I think the higher, double-based parts are considered the choruses of the song. Either way, the chanting of Varcolac is catchier than any other part of the song so it may as well have been the chorus! A riff seems to come out of nowhere for a moment after the second chorus before it is quickly hidden by the vocals and epicness again, which was a little odd. It would have been nice to give the riff a little more time to breathe. We get a high bridge part again before it heads into a verse/chorus part again to finish it off. This was a good song, but man did the structure confuse me a little!

‘Alive or Undead’ starts slower than the others with a beautiful piano melody, but all I could think about was how much the choir at the start sounded like the Halo song. Karsten “Attila Dorn” Brill’s low vocals fit surprisingly well over the top of the piano, somehow adding even more beauty to the track. This song is a slow build; the strings and other accompaniment swells more and more as the vocals do and it takes over a minute and a half for it to finally break and the drums and guitars to come in. They only add to the epicness of it all – this feeling like a fantastic power metal power ballad… there must be an easier way of saying that! It all drops out again for a slow, brief guitar solo that builds up again for a huge final chorus and outro, even managing to squeeze another great guitar solo into it too. This was just the sort of change of pace this album needed after the first few tracks being a little similar and it worked perfectly, I loved it!

‘Blood for Blood’ opens with enough accordion that for a moment I thought I was listening to a Dropkick Murphys song. The heaviness is soon built in around it though as it turns into a power-folk-metal song, somehow. Unfortunately, outside of the interesting new instrumentation, there isn’t too much difference in this track that I haven’t already heard before on the album. Also, unfortunately, it is the same for the following track ‘Glaubenskraft’ and the album’s title track. ‘Call of the Wild’ has a damn catchy chorus, don’t get me wrong, but they are all fairly similar to the opening few tracks – enough for me not to have much to say about them!

The final three songs are again more of the same. I want to stress that it isn’t at all a bad thing; a band is going to have a distinct sound that they stick to, especially in such a niche sub-genre, it just means as a reviewer I have less to gush over. ‘Sermon of Swords’ has an awesome duelling solo and some fun chants, ‘Undress to Confess’ is silly, comedic brilliance that I wasn’t expecting to hear from an otherwise serious-sounding band and ‘Reverent of Rats’ is a pretty strong closer. However, outside of that, I can’t say much that I haven’t already said when talking about other songs. 

Overall: This was a damn enjoyable album packed full of great instrumentation, epic feeling, and some very catchy vocals. It is another review that has immediately made me want to check out more of their stuff, as well as see them live as it is the sort of music that would be even better to see in person with the whole stage show backing it. One of the best new release this year!

Score: 7.5/10

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