SONATA ARCTICA: Ecliptica – Revisited: 15th Anniversary Edition












Sonata Arctica from Kemi, Finland, started in 1996 as Tricky Beans, (briefly changed to Tricky Means) playing hard rock/pop music that later evolved into Stratovarius-inspired power metal.

Fast paced, clear lyrics makes for a very nice job of updating their debut album Ecliptica that came out in 1999. This one came out in 2014 and it shows they remain true to their sound and things do get better with age, such as this album. Even though some of the current band members have joined in the 2000s, for example; Elias Vilganen (guitars, backing vocals) (2007-present), Pasi Kauppinen (bass) (2013-present), Henrik Klingenberg (keyboard, keytar, backing vocals) (2002-present), you can’t tell that they aren’t the original members, they sound so good. They still have original members Tommy Portimo (drums) (1995-present), Tony Kakko (lead vocals, keyboards) (1995-present). The sound on this album is powerful, and in your face, but not in a bad sort of way. There aren’t enough tracks on this album, you just want to hear more, but it has the same track listing as the original, so listen to this, then the original…lol.

A great revamp that adds to the original songs, and makes you want to hear more from them. Grab a copy and enjoy it again, or for the first time.

Review by: Amy East

MINDCAGE: Our Own Devices: CD

This metal band from Gulf Breeze, FL plays a mix of progressive metal, and power metal with a lot of energy. These eight tracks show off a tight technically strong band with hooks galore.

Our Own Devices is a concept album with a dystopian/sci-fi storyline where technology has smothered the arts and creativity in the world, and a hero is born, a girl named Arabella Vash (voiced by Hydrogen’s Julie Westlake), and she becomes humanity’s one and only hope to return to a free-thinking, creative society…can she do it? Jeff Hignite sings with such a wide range and emotion, Dietrick Hardwick’s guitar playing is a virtuoso by the way he rips up and down the neck, and the bass playing of Brian Howell is tightly aligned with the drumming of Craig Nudo. The songs are all amazing and even though I can’t pick one that stands out, since I liked them all, because this is a concept album, I will suggest to listen to it from start to finish and enjoy the power and talent that this band just exudes. The production is sharp and crisp, with everyone being heard without distortion or interference from another player.

If you haven’t heard of these guys you must correct that oversight right away and get this album and play it loud and often. Most concept albums are overbearing and become pompous, but this is an album that puts a smile on your face and requires multiple listens for pure enjoyment.


Alpha Tiger - iDentity

ALPHA TIGER are a power metal quintet that hails from Germany and formed back in 2007 under the name SATIN BLACK, and then turned into ALPHA TIGER. They have already released a few albums before this and this sees them hitting the ground running.

After a short instrumental intro, the album starts full speed ahead with “Lady Liberty,” a powerful song with heavy guitars and a great hook, plus the outstanding vocals from singer Stephan Dietrich who hits highs that have to be heard to be believed. There is even a power ballad on here, “Closer Than Yesterday” which features beautiful keyboard playing and great vocals. One thing that really stands out is the skill the band shows on this album throughout. Peter Langforth and Alexander Backasch are amazing on guitar with great solos, David Schleif’s skill on the drums, Dirk Frei keeps the album solid with his mind-blowing bass, and of course Stephan Dietrich’s vocals on the album are amazing, with his sky-high vocal range. Other songs that really stood out were “We Won’t Take it Anymore,” “Identity,” “We Won’t Take it Anymore”, “Identity” (with a slightly melancholic chorus that really works to great effect), “Revolution in Progress” and “Scripted Reality,” but they all are really good.

This is the sound of a band that hungers for more, one that really loves what they are doing and is giving their all to their fans. They are looking for you to become a fan, and really, that should be easy with just one listen to the album.

ION VEIN: Self-titled: CD

After releasing two critically acclaimed albums with 1999’s Beyond Tomorrow and 2003’s Reigning Memories, and going through lineup changes has been the major reason why no new music hit the market for more than eight years. Now, after two digital E.P. releases, we now have the third full length album from the revamped quartet.

As six of these songs have appeared on those previous E.P.s, but now appearing as re-mixed/re-mastered versions, you might be thinking, why should I buy this release? You should because the album flows together, and the band simply kick ass on the new tracks. Ex-ENERTIA singer Scott Featherstone definitely has a more aggressive and grittier approach than the previous singer Russ Klimczak, which I think helps with the shorter, more hook oriented arrangements on this new album. Their power metal has gotten a bit heavier and has added a touch of more modern metal, but still retains everything that made earlier recordings a treat. Every song has power, thick bass, blistering guitar playing, killer drumming and the vocals that fit perfectly with the tighter, harder sound. Some of the highlights for me were, “Fools Parade,” “Enough,” “Face The Truth,” “Love/Hate,” “Anger Inside,” “The Will Of One,” and “Twist Of Fate.”

This album will get the power metal fans on board and with the heavier element, it should appeal to those who want more “heavy” in their metal. The band just keeps getting better and should be one of those groups that starts to garner more fans and attention and hit the higher echelon of metal bands.

TO THE PAIN: Self-titled: CD


Inside Tray

Getting together back in 2010 while trying to record some songs they wrote back in 1989, they decided to write and record some new songs. After nine months of writing and recording, they wrote 6 new songs and re-recorded an old song “Silent Horror”, and put together a new band. The band consists of John Intagliata (Vocals) and Steve Shaver (Lead Guitar) and joining them is Jeremy Lustig(Bass Guitar), Mark Trojanoski (Rhythm Guitar), and Jimmy Klimatas (Drums).

The seven songs on their debut album have great riffs and meaty solos, thick bass, pounding drums and clean vocals that get a little gruff at times and hit those highs too, plus some great gang vocals. The mix of power metal and thrash really works well and doesn’t get bogged down in either style, instead it takes from both and grows from it. You can hear the touches of the ’80s on the songs, but they manage to instill enough modernity in the songs to keep them sounding familiar, but fresh. The songs that stood out for me were “For the People, Buy the People”, “Silent Horror”, “Burn with Me”, “Fuel Injected Nightmare”, and “A Good Revolution”.

A very good debut that shows a lot of promise and talent from these guys. It’s very cool that they went and looked at their old songs and found something that still worked for them and integrate it into newer songs and have it fit perfectly. I wonder if they have more old songs to record soon for us?

GLORYFUL: The Warriors Code: CD

This heavy / power metal band from Gelsenkirchen, Germany was formed in 2010 and have released one E.P. before this debut album. These eleven songs are produced by legendary Swedish sound alchemist Dan Swanö.

You can hear the influences on this band as you listen to the album, IRON MAIDEN, ACCEPT, DIO, and MANOWAR, but they don’t just emulate those bands, they take those pieces and put them together in a familiar, but exciting way. This is an album with fast, solid riffs, great solos, catchy, melodic interludes and choruses that will have you raising the horns and shouting along with the band. The album has a real ’80s feel to it, but the great production keeps things from getting bogged down in the overproduced sound of that time. Johnny la Bomba‘s vocals aren’t super high-pitched or too low, instead they strike a nice balance that is a welcome change. The standouts for me were “Gloryful’s Tale”, my favorite song “Heavy Metal – More Than Meets The Eye”, “The Warrior’s Code”, “Breaking Destiny”, “Evil Oath”, and “Death of the First Earth”.

This is an album that keeps the classic heavy metal sound relevant in these days of “whatever metal” genres and makes me glad to hear bands doing this with power and skill. These guys should be proud of the excellent debut that they’ve put out and I can’t wait to hear what they will come out with next.

SANKTUARY: Something Fierce: CD

Something Fierce cover art

After releasing two previous EPs, and a move from Whitehorse, Yukon to Halifax, Nova Scotia, we finally get their debut album. Eight songs of epic, old school thrash that has a hint of MEGADETH, but still retains its own sound, power metal and NWOBHM.

Starting off with “Deadly Prey” an instrumental track, it has a NWOBHM feel to it and then jumping into “Heat Lightning” with some high-pitched vocals and a galloping beat giving the song a power metal feel. The songs are a head banger’s dream, lots of riffing, solos that kick ass, varied vocals, from growling to mid range to high-pitched, thundering drums and thick bass, plus choruses you can shout along with and melody. “Beyond The Wall” comes in near the end of the album to give us a nice mellow, instrumental track with showcases their ability to play more than straight ahead metal, it has a trippy, ’70s feel to it, then right back for the kick ass last song “Midnite Mass”. My favorite tracks were “Heat Lightning”, “Thrill of the Kill”, “Screeching for Vengeance” (nice nod towards JUDAS PRIEST in the title), and “Fire in the Sky”.

With the quality of the songs on here, the musical ability and the range of styles, there is something for almost every metal head out there. A great debut full length and a band that really stands out from the crowd. If this was released in metal’s glory days back in the early ’80s, this would be huge and all over the radio.