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.

DEADLANDS: Evilution: CD


Sacramento, California’s DEADLANDS was formed in the summer of 2010 by lead vocalist Brian O’Connor (CONSFEARACY, ex-VICIOUS RUMORS), lead guitarist Michael J. Gardner (THE COUNCIL), lead guitarist Kevin Rohr (SPECTRE), bassist Steve “Dedbass” Northam and drummer Danny Sablan (HATEFX, THE COUNCIL). They have just released their ten song debut full length CD on Massacre Records after playing festivals and opening for numerous bands.

Just playing this one time through, I was impressed by the aggressive guitar playing, the heavy riffs, the shredding and the aggressive singing by this band. There is some blazing guitar on the opening track “Pandemic Genocide.” Some songs that stood out were “Final  Solution,” “Shes On Fire” and “Legions Of The Damned”. The drums range from mid-paced to fast with some blast beats being used at times, but not too much, while the bass has a very strong and powerful sound with heaviness that you can feel and hear throughout the recording, the guitars range from mid-paced to speedy riffs that combine  thrash, groove and power metal together and are very melodic sounding at the same time. The vocals range from thrash style screams and growls, to clean singing vocals, the lyrics cover politics, patriotism and war, and the production has strong, powerful, heavy and professional sound where you can hear all of the band playing their hearts out.

A great debut album with their powerful mix of power metal and thrash that will get you to throw the horns and bang your head along with the blistering tracks on here. They also do a great cover of DIO’s “The Last In Line” as the last song on the album…go get it!


Answer With Metal cover art

ANSWER WITH METAL is a heavy / thrash / power metal band based out of Stouffville, ON. whose debut, self titled album is out now. Formed in 2008, the band strengthened it’s sound over the course of three demos, and signed to Spread the Metal Records.

This is a very impressive self-titled debut from ANSWER WITH METAL, with melodies and leads abound, ear-catching solos and soulful and operatic vocals. Coming in at over seven minutes long, first track “Killing God” starts off with a moody orchestral piece that seems to have an ominous touch to it, then the band kicks in with some heavy guitar, powerful drumming, thick bass and soaring vocals. “Writing in Stone” is a standout song with the high vocals by Dan Nielsen grabbing you, the driving force of the song, and the super catchy chorus, and “Generations” has pummeling drums, quick and tasty leads, the bass is rocking in a devastating groove with the drums, Nielsen’s vocals are melodic and it all combines into an awesome track, with a nice gentle break halfway through that sounds more ’70s rock at that point, then they go into harder rock and you just close your eyes and move your head to the grooves until they’re back full speed ahead again. Great pair of songs. “A Chance to Live Again” is a slower song, filled with emotional playing and singing that’s not a wimpy power ballad, but has energy in it, and the band really shows their skill in the playing of that song and the quiet intro to “The Anchor” which then becomes a crushing song bringing back the classic metal sound and feel from the early ’80s, “Two Wrongs (Don’t Make a Right)” brings back the operatic vocals, great leads, and the song is a nice chuggy metal tune, one that you can bang your head to without the fear of it falling off, and finally, “Lest He Forgets” is the final song and it continues the chugging metal with an impossible to resist melody.

Seven songs that will make you break out the denim and leather that is in the back of your closet, if you’re old enough to have it, and make you buy some if you don’t, put on the studded wrist bands, sew on some patches and bang your head old school! A great debut album boys, keep the metal flowing.

RAVEN LORD: Descent To The Underworld: CD

CD ArtWork - Descent To The Underworld

RAVEN LORD was founded in 2011 by vocalist Zvekan of KILLING MACHINE and includes guitarist George Karafotis of VERMILLION DAYS and OPERATION X, bassist Jamie Mallender of TONY MARTIN BAND, drummer Rich Smith of POWER QUEST, keyboardist Alessandro Duo of VOODOO HIGHWAY and lead guitarist Joe Stump of HOLY HELL and REIGN OF TERROR. RAVEN LORD’s debut CD release was produced by the band’s own Zvekan and mixed by Swedish producer Fredrik Nordström.

Descent to the Underworld contains 11 blistering tracks of neo classical influences with elements of power metal, and classic hard rock to create their own blend of heavy metal. Opening song “The Rebel” brings thunderous drums, ear-splitting guitar riffs, and vocals that sound flawless all together, “Atilla The Hun” has the Rob Halford singing down pat, and sounds like it came right out of the 1980s with the classic metal sound the band brings to the song. Guitarist Stump really shines with his playing throughout the album, tons of solos and riffs, Zvekan’s vocals are incredible with the highs that he hits and the melody in his voice, drummer Smith lays down a nice steady beat with a lot of great fills, guitarist Karafotis adds the right amount of melody with his playing, bassist Mallender creates a nice thick sound that gives the songs a nice touch of heaviness, and keyboardist Duo really adds a curtain of atmosphere to the songs. Some other songs that stood out to me were, “Settle the Score”, “Let the Show Go On”, “World of Steel”, “Revelation” and “Metal Knights”, but all of the songs are in-your-face metal with no ballads or weak tracks to be found.

This is an album that will make you whip your head around in a head banging frenzy if you love classic sounding, 1980s style power metal that has a modern touch. I’m going to get the neck massager out, my neck is starting to hurt a bit.