Power Theory – Force Of Will Review

Score8/10
GenreHeavy Power Metal
CountryUSA (Pennsylvania)
Runtime56:52
Release Date6 December 2019
Record LabelPure Steel

Brace for impact because US powerforce Power Theory have returned with their massive Force of Will. With backbreaking riffs and mighty vocals, this is the perfect album to piss off your neighbours with. Force of Will is the band’s fourth album, but it welcomes the destructive axemanship of Carlos Alvarez and Jim Rutherford‘s titanium pipes to the show for the first time.

The general tone here is darker than your usual US power metal, and the beefy, bass-heavy mixing is largely responsible. However, the energy level is consistent and high throughout most of the album, so it’s more of an aggressive darkness that fills the atmosphere rather than a dooming darkness. For reference, think along the lines of Iron Fire or a more refined Saxon. Most of the choruses are fairly victorious, though, and a lot of the solos are uplifting, so there’s a pretty good amount of contrast.

The album tends to lag a bit due to lack of variety after the absolutely killer ballad that is ‘Albion’, but if you’re listening more for the sick riffs and heaviness and less for the whole “album experience”, that isn’t a huge issue. The biggest single issue is in the closer, ‘The Hill I Die On’, which doesn’t really offer anything worthwhile, despite having a runtime of seven minutes. Regardless, Force of Will pulls no punches.

For straight, true, colossal heavy metal, Power Theory have your back. Force of Will lives up to the band’s already-high standards and is best listened to on your most thunderous speakers. If bands like Iron Fire and Accept are to your liking, you’ll love this.

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Crystal Eyes – Starbourne Traveler Review

Score9/10
GenreMelodic Heavy Metal
CountrySweden
Runtime44:20
Release Date6 December 2019
Record LabelMassacre

Of all the “crystal” bands to release an album this year (Crystal Sky, Crystal Viper, Crystal Ball, I think that’s it?), Sweden’s Crystal Eyes have topped the competition. Starbourne Traveler sees the melodic heavy metallers perform a wide array of styles in ten super-melodic tracks of anthemic true metal. With influences including Judas Priest, Accept, U.D.O., and Running Wild, you can expect one hell of a ride.

The album begins with its grittiest foot forward in metal-worshipping ‘Gods of Disorder’ and continues to expand from there. There are a few tracks that are primarily hard rock, such as ‘Paradise Powerlord’ and ‘Corridors of Time’, which tread closely to classic Van Halen in terms of riffage and melody. There’s also a hefty serving of catchy, 80s hair metal to enjoy, as well as some power metal drivers in ‘Extreme Paranoia’ and the piratey closer, ‘Rage on the Sea’. In terms of variety, Crystal Eyes have held nothing back, which is impressive considering that they retain a solid core sound throughout Starbourne Traveler‘s entirety.

If you’re looking for highlights, the axemanship is easily my favourite aspect of the album. The non-stop riffs, chugging rhythms, and tasteful solos are enough on their own to suck you into the album. Fortunately, everything else is pretty fucking solid, so there’s no need to cherry pick. Well, everything except for the ballad, ‘Empire of Saints’, which is kinda mopey and boring, but hey, the rest of the album is excellent.

Starbourne Traveler has no trouble in bringing the classic Crystal Eyes sound (in fact, the songs ‘Extreme Paranoia’ and ‘Rage on the Sea’ are rerecordings from the band’s debut, World of Black and Silver) with the clarity and weight of modern heavy metal. There’s something here for fans of old-school rock and metal as well as newer metalheads, so don’t miss the shiniest “crystal” of the year!

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Burning Shadows – Beneath The Ruins Review

Score7.5/10
GenreHeavy Metal
CountryUSA (Maryland)
Runtime16:08
Release Date6 December 2019
Record LabelRafchild

Marylandian (Marylandish? Marylandite? Fuck it, whatever.) heavy metal vets Burning Shadows have released four EPs and three full-lengths since their beginning in 2000. Their sound has been built on a beefy power-laden foundation and adorned with epic vocals and choruses. However, their latest effort, Beneath the Ruins, sees a change from their previous material, trading a lot of the power metal elements for more of a thrashy approach. Nevertheless, the riffs are still huge and crunchy and the band is solid, so the change of pace isn’t bad at all.

The most prominent way in which Beneath the Ruins separates itself from most other US heavy metal albums is with its production quality. Where bands like Visigoth and Haunt keep things “authentically” lo-fi, this album is full of contrast and sharpness, retaining a heavy metal feel musically rather than relying on poor mastering.

The EP begins with a strong-and-steady banger in ‘Blacken the Sky’. The energy level picks up more for ‘The Grey Company (Paths of the Dead)’, which also has the best chorus, and continues to rise into the final two tracks. The driving force behind these four tracks is the imposing massiveness of the rhythm section, but the solos and smaller details, such as some growled sections and other background guitar parts, keep the whole thing fresh and exciting. There are also three bonus tracks to enjoy (if you decide to purchase the album), of which two are live versions. The actual new bonus track, ‘The Shadow from the Steeple’, is my favourite on the entire EP. It’s dynamic and hearkens a to a more classic sound, and it’s an all-around blast.

If there’s one area Beneath the Ruins suffers, it’s in the vocal melodies. Tom Davy‘s throaty, bellowing vocals are great, but there’s not a whole lot of variability in the way the melodies are structured. In a live setting, for this king of music, that isn’t really a big deal, but it’s things like that that usually pull people in to listen to again regularly.

Beneath the Ruins is a worthwhile listen for anyone who likes darker, aggressive heavy metal. It has that pounding, chugging drive that Burning Shadows does so well and, despite not having the ammunition to blow any minds, you can still crank it to blow down the fucking walls.

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Rhodium – Sea Of The Dead Review

Score9/10
GenreHeavy/Power Metal
CountryGreece
Runtime44:08
Release Date3 December 2019
Record LabelSliptrick

Greek heavy/power warriors Rhodium released their debut just last year, but they’ve already thundered down with a new album. Fueled with all-new members (with the exception of guitarist/founder Loukas Antoniou) and a new record deal with Sliptrick Records, Sea of the Dead unleashes nine energetic, riff-heavy tracks that hide a few progressive surprises.

Sea of the Dead aligns stylistically with other Greek power metal bands such as Firewind and Diviner. It’s grittier, rawer, and more heavy metal-influenced than your usual Euro-power and it packs some seriously ferocious solos. However, one of the forces behind Rhodium’s individuality is the piercing and charismatic vocals of Mike Lee, who can fire everything from relentless power to careful emotion from his mighty pipes (peak performances coming in ‘Sisters of Fate’ and ‘Tapestry of Time’). In fact, the vocals are so versatile that they could be compared to bands like Running Wild and Iron Maiden at times.

As for the album itself, everything is fucking fantastic. It starts with a hard drive and sees its first change of pace in the third song, ‘First Light of Day’. After this, the album continues to diversify, delivering some more badass heavy metal hymns and dark moments, as well as two dynamic tracks that sit above the six-minute mark, and a ballad. However, the most unusual track by far is ‘Sisters of Fate’. It utilizes a lot of female choral vocals, which are unheard of in the rest of the album, and its chorus is like a mid-80s pump up anthem. It’s weird, it’s shrill, and it’s the best god damn song Sea of the Dead has to offer.

As far as favourites go, I covered some of it already. But, aside from the powerful vocals, elite guitarwork, and being blindsided by ‘Sisters of Fate’, I really enjoy the drum groves in ‘Tapestry in Time’, as well as the entirety of ‘Fight Back’, which is a no-bullshit banger with the single best solo on the album.

Front to back, Sea of the Dead is a killer ride. It’s always a gamble to release an album with a lineup that hasn’t made music together before, but Rhodium have defied the odds by releasing a record that’s fun, fresh, and ferociously addicting.

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Heavy Metal: Archon Angel Release Titular Track For ‘Fallen’

The new heavy/power metal project of vocalist Zak Stevens (Savatage, Circle II Circle), Archon Angel, have released the first single of their upcoming album, Fallen: a mid-paced titular track that gives a solid performance of melodic heavy metal.

Zak Stevens on the single:
“The title track accompanies the Archon on his journey in transitioning from a successful businessman, who leads a life of excess and egoism, to a superhero who will clean up the city and eventually, save the world from self destruction. In the song, he is reminiscing about his past and the family he left behind, while summoning the power that called him to save the world to “hear him.””

Zak on the music video:
“After an arduous search for the perfect city and videographer, we settled on Pittsburgh, PA for my scenes. The band was filmed in Genova, Italy, near the famous Porto Antico. In Pittsburgh, we shot atop Mt. Washington, overlooking downtown, much like the Archon would be doing as he pondered his future. The weather didn’t cooperate the first day as it was a rainy day. But one of the coolest moments occurred while filming the video….one of the locations was right across from Heinz Field during a Pittsburgh Steelers [football] game. At the apex of the song, the crowd erupted in cheering at the perfect time, and people who were watching us film were caught by surprise. It really contributed to my overall mindset during that portion of the song. I felt like they were cheering for the Archon and it mimicked a true live performance. I can’t wait to get out there and perform this song live with Archon Angel.”

You can catch Archon Angel’s Fallen on 14 February. The album will be released under Frontiers Music SRL.

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Heavy Metal: Ironflame Announce New Album

Ohio-based US heavy metal warriors Ironflame are soon to unleash their third album upon the metal world. Blood Red Victory is set to drop on 7 February under Divebomb Records. For a taste of what’s to come, check out the new single, ‘Seekers of the Blade’.

The studio version of Ironflame is done almost solely by multi-instrumentalist Andrew D’Cagna, but Blood Red Victory also features solos from Quinn Lukas and Jesse Scott, who are also part of the band’s live lineup.

01. Gates of Evermore
02. Honor Bound
03. Seekers of the Blade
04. Blood Red Cross
05. On Ashen Wings
06. Graves of Thunder
07. Grace and Valor
08. Night Queen
09. The Serpent and the Throne*
10. Horns Held High*

D’Cagna on the album’s themes:
“There is a recurring theme of victory in the lyrics for this album. Some songs have an air of chest-out confidence; others are about overcoming adversaries or even adversity itself. Most have been written from a ‘we/us’ perspective, which makes the listener feel like, ‘We’re in this together.'”

Don’t miss this February release, because it’s sure to scratch that traditional heavy metal itch.

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Top Ten Metal Albums Of November

2019 is just wrapping up but, while November was probably the most scarce month of the year so far on the metal front, there’s still plenty of new, high-quality albums to check out. From the daring to the digital, here’re ten of the strongest metal albums of November!

10. Metal De Facto – Imperium Romanum

Hailing from Finland, Metal De Facto have thundered down with their debut, Imperium Romanum. Despite the band’s origins, their overall sound comes close to your typical German power metal band, such as Iron Savior or Gamma Ray. There’s also a heavy dose of neoclassical influence which comes to a peak in the instrumental shred piece ‘Colosseum’. If gritty, fast-paced, hard-riffing power metal is your thing, Metal De Facto have you covered!

9. Magic Kingdom – MetAlmighty

This album kicks all sorts of fantasy ass. It rides forth with cheesy lyrics in a wide variety of dynamic tracks. The overall sound is grittier than a lot of modern power metal, which helps separate Magic Kingdom from the crowd (despite having one of the most unoriginal names in metal history). MetAlmighty may not be the best that Magic Kingdom’s ever put out, but it’s certainly worth giving a spin.

Full Review

8. IronThorn – Legends of the Ancient Rock

Italian hard rock/heavy metallers IronThorn have bested their debut album in Legends of the Ancient Rock, which is heavier, more versatile, and more riff-driven. While IronThorn formerly sat closer to the rock side than the metal side, the metalness here has been beefed way up, which is good for those of us who wanted a bit more aggression out of the band. There are a few great tracks, such as ‘Legends’, ‘The Call of Silence’, and ‘Werewolf’, that make the album worth listening to, but every track is still high-quality. Legends of the Ancient Rock is nothing groundbreaking, but it’s a damn solid album.

7. Celesti Alliance – Hybrid Generation

Finland’s latest melodic heavy metal addition comes from the brand new Celesti Alliance. After two EPs, these cultivators of classic steel are finally ready to smash onto the scene with their full-length debut. Pulling from a range of influences from late-80s heavy/power metal (Accept, Judas Priest) and modern heavy metal, Hybrid Generation is a super catchy album that’s generous with the riffs and heavy on the solos.

Full Review

6. Stormwarrior – Norsemen

Speed metal isn’t usually my go-to, but badass, expertly-done speed metal is one of my favourite things, especially when it’s badass speed metal with a power metal lining and viking themes. Fortunately, this is something Stormwarrior excell at, and their sixth album is as good as the rest. Between the destructive onslaught of non-stop tremolo picking and drums that never quit, Norsemen takes it to the next level by actually having quality melodies (and a very unusual vocal delivery for the genre) to guide its rampant intensity. This isn’t your typical speed metal album, and that’s a damn good thing.

5. Signum Regis – The Seal of a New World

After more than a decade of metal mastery, it seems like Slovakia’s Signum Regis are incapable of making a bad album. The mighty power metallers never fail to deliver an exciting, heroic adventure that swings the sword of sick riffs and their sixth album, The Seal of a New World, sees the band return to familiar lands. Between ultra-catchy melodies and jumpy energy, you won’t know what’s gonna be thrown at you next.

Full Review

4. Scarleth – Vortex

Melodic metallers Scarleth’s third album, Vortex, combines elements of heavy, power, symphonic, and gothic metal, synthpop, and even Middle Eastern and folk music. On top of that, the album is full of colourful rhythm section parts and some sick guitar solos. Seriously. They suddenly explode into existence and demand your attention with shredtastic, sweep-picked mystery. The result of this well-balance mixture is a memorable melodic metal album that’s sure to be a favourite among fans of the genre.

Full Review

3. Thunder and Lightning – Demonicorn

For whatever reason, Demonicorn was more elusive than a Japanese metal album upon its release. Maybe I just missed hearing about it, but I had no idea Thunder and Lightning had something new coming out until a week after it was released. I’m pretty fucking psyched that I caught it, though, because this is one god damn impressive work of power metal. The first thing that jumps out (and continues to jump until the album’s demise) is the incredible guitarwork. Between the huge tones, facemelting solos, and thrashy riffs, the guitars are the clear highlight of the album, but the mighty vocals and dynamic arrangements elevate the album into being a serious contender for any Album of the Year list.

2. The Dark Element – Songs the Night Sings

The Dark Element was formed in 2016 by former Nightwish vocalist Anette Olzon and former Sonata Arctica guitarist Jani Liimatainen. Their self-titled debut combined elements of symphonic metal and pop to deliver a strong, synth-heavy melodic metal album. While that debut was pretty good, their sophomore effort, Songs the Night Sings blows it out of the fucking water. The sound is fuller, the arrangements are more diverse, and everything else has gotten a serious upgrade.

Full Review

1. Wilderun – Veil of Imagination

Not many bands can pull off an exceptional atmospheric album so, when one does, it always gets me excited about it. One of the few (and latest) this year to accomplish such a feat are Boston’s Wilderun with their third album, Veil of Imagination. It expertly conjures deep feelings like wonder, determination, aggression, hate, fear, reflection, and everything in between. With rich orchestrations supporting it, Veil of Imagination is as colourful as its album cover would have you believe.

Full Review

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Celesti Alliance – Hybrid Generation Review

Score8/10
GenreMelodic Heavy Metal
CountryFinland
Runtime43:46
Release Date29 November 2019
Record LabelIndependent

Finland’s latest melodic heavy metal addition comes from the brand new Celesti Alliance. After two EPs, these cultivators of classic steel are finally ready to smash onto the scene with their full-length debut. Pulling from a range of influences from late-80s heavy/power metal (Accept, Judas Priest) and modern heavy metal, Hybrid Generation is a super catchy album that’s generous with the riffs and heavy on the solos.

I think the most accurate way to describe Celesti Alliance’s sound is as a slightly more exciting version of HammerFall. The vocals of Valtteri Heiskanen are pretty similar to Joacim Cans in terms of sound and style, and the songs are built in much the same way (especially ‘Louder Power’). Where things get a bit more colourful, though, is in the prevalent use of keyboards and vocal layers, as well as a dynamism that HammerFall always comes close to achieving but rarely does. As a result, Celesti Alliance end up with an album full of solid bangers while still delivering enough variability to stay exciting.

The only thing holding Hybrid Generation back is the fact that it more-or-less lacks any wowness. There’s some great soloing, with ‘Incomplete’ having my favourite, as well as some memorable riffs, but the album coasts along with the same level of power and proficiency the entire way through. It doesn’t make the album bad, especially when you combine the straight riffage with super beefy mixing, but it does keep the band from reaching their full potential.

But, if you dig the whole neo-80s style, you’ll dig Celesti Alliance. Hybrid Generation lays down enough steady drivers to please more oldschool fans and it explores enough highs and lows to round itself out. You won’t want to miss this killer offering of heavy metal worship.

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Heavy Metal: Rising Steel Sign Record Deal

With a sophomore album set for Spring 2020, French heavy metallers Rising Steel have signed a multi-record deal with Frontiers Music SRL.

Rising Steel on their upcoming album:
“We gave our best to keep our influences in this recording, keeping the true Heavy Metal spirit, but this time we tried our best to strengthen our metal sound with darker influences and go a bit beyond the classic boundaries of this style. This new album is a big step forward for the band, and signing with the Frontiers label is, for us, a true recognition. A dream-come-true story to be continued soon!”

Rising Steel’s style combines the likes of classic heavy metal, thrash metal, and hard rock. If you haven’t heard their stuff before, check out ‘Warlord’ from their 2015 EP.

The band has previously released one independent EP and one full-length album, Return of the Warlord, under Mighty Music in 2016.

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Heavy Metal: New Single From Running Wild

Pirate metal outfit Running Wild have released another single from their upcoming EP! ‘Ride on the Wild Side’ sees a more straightforward metal approach than the previous single, and it will be the closing track of Crossing the Blades.

Crossing the Blades will be released on 6 December via SPV/Steamhammer.

01. Crossing The Blades
02. Stargazed
03. Strutter
04. Ride On The Wild Side

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