Bioplan – Epipath & Ocular Review

Score9/10
GenreProgressive Metal (Synthwave Fusion)
CountrySweden
Runtime49:20
Release Date29 May 2020
Record LabelLayered Reality

The ever-busy multi-instrumentalist Andi Kravljaca (Aeon Zen, Thaurorod, Nibiru Ordeal) is back with another dose of nostalgia-laden shred madness in the second installment of Bioplan. Epipath & Ocular is functionally a double EP, featuring the previous EP’s (Ocular’s) tracklist, as well as five new tracks in the Epipath section. If you’re coming in never having heard of Bioplan before, expect to hear chunky djent and intense, glowing synthwave in equal measure. You can also expect to be blown away, because this shit is destructive.

I’m only gonna cover the new portion of the album, because I already wrote a review for Ocular last year, which you can read here if you’re so inclined. The biggest difference Epipath has from its predecessor is that it is way more synthy. There’s a lot more emphasis on atmosphere this time around, but there’s still no shortage to relentless neoclassical shredding or flying guitar melodies. Furthermore, the numerous background synth harmonies, melodies, and syncopated drumming are as on point as ever, so the album is an all-around blast.

The album begins with a very Flash Arnold opener in ‘Ingress’, which leans very far onto the more atmospheric side of things. There’s still a fair amount of shredding, but it’s nice to get something different right off the top. However, staying true to the core of Bioplan, the album continues into ‘Perspex Cassidy’, which offers more of that familiar Jeff-Beck-meets-Joe-Satriani-meets-modern-prog experience.

While the entire album features truly masterful guitarwork, highlights can be found in the entirety of ‘He’s a Transporter’ and my personal favourite song on the record, ‘Atomic Era Cocktails’ (which also has a mean fucking synth solo by Harri Koskela, a cool dubsteppy section, and a super trippy fade into the outro).

Another thing I noticed is the fact that the naming conventions for songs is entirely different this time around. Where Ocular had pretty generic modern prog titles like ‘Inclement’ and ‘Refractive’, Epipath has a little more fun with things (most of which I’ve already mentioned).

Anyway, fans of cheesy 80s synthwave, technical prog, or instrumental fusion with undoubtedly love Epipath & Ocular. It’s got all the flair, skill, and facemelting fuckery you could want, all wrapped up in a retro-yet-crystal-clear package.

If you want to be notified every time PowerThorn publishes a review or article, you can subscribe to the blog or go like the >>Facebook Page<<!
For all the same (but mostly memes), >>@PowerThorn<< on Instagram is exactly what you need.

Stay Metal \m/

Moonlight Prophecy – Heat Lightning Review

Score8/10
GenreProgressive Metal/Shred
CountryUSA
Runtime17:56
Release Date19 July 2019
Record LabelIndependent

I’m usually not a huge fan of one-man show albums (like Devin Townsend, for example). They always seem to have something missing from them. One of the most important elements of a successful band is the heart that each different member brings that, even through studio recordings, makes its way into the music so that you can sense a real connection and cohesion from the band. And more often than not, one-man projects lack this heart.

That being said, Moonlight Prophecy’s latest EP, Heat Lightning, is a damn fine piece of instrumental shred. It isn’t entirely a one-man show (as there is a bassist), but everything else is covered by multi-instrumentalist Lawrence Wallace. Its arrangements are lively, the drums are killer, and the shredding is, well, as shredded as Shreddies that have been in the bowl for too long. While there isn’t a whole lot of variety covered within its four tracks, but there’s enough variability to make it a really fun listen.

If there’s one area that Moonlight Prophecy suffers, it’s in the melody department. A lot of the space between solos is filled by repeated arpeggiations and the lead guitar doesn’t show a lot of restraint or tastefulness (which are he marks of an excellent shred album), except for the last half of ‘The Magic Carpet’, which shows both of these things very well.

And don’t even get me started on that fucking album artwork. God damn. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen worse; it looks like something an edgy 14-year-old would make on Microsoft Paint to promote his shitty YouTube channel. It’s so bad that it actually pains and amuses me all at once, so, while it has absolutely no bearing on the score, it should actually garner some bonus points, if anything.

Anyway, if you’re into five minutes of straight facemelting (or seventeen, if you tackle it all at once), this album kicks all sorts of ass. There are some really sick licks about a minute into ‘Oddities’ and ‘Heat Lightning’ carries some marks of late-2000s John 5. And ‘The Magic Carpet’ is just fucking insanity in its first half. Additionally, as I mentioned before, the drumming is right on par with the fury of the guitars, so there’s plenty to enjoy upon consecutive listens.

Any fan of guitar feature albums, and especially of Steve Vai and John 5, should give Heat Lightning a spin. Actually, make sure to check out some of Moonlight Prophecy’s older material, too, because this EP isn’t even the best.

If you want to be notified every time PowerThorn publishes a review or article, you can subscribe to the blog or go like the >>Facebook Page<<!
For all the same (but mostly memes), >>@PowerThorn<< on Instagram is exactly what you need.

Stay Metal \m/

Constantine – Aftermath Review

Score6/10
GenreVarious/Shred
CountryGreece
Runtime33:18
Release Date31 May 2019
Record LabelRockshots

If ever there was an album that I was full-out wrong about what to expect, it’d be Aftermath. The second solo album from Greek guitarist Constantine Kotzamanis, it initially appeared as though it was going to be another instrumental shred album, due to the first single, ‘Bushido’. Shortly after I heard it, though, I learned that it was actually going to be a feature album with various guest vocalists. That was no issue for me, though, because I knew that Constantine is more than just an excellent guitarist. I figured he’d write a cool, energetic album with tasteful guitar parts and everything would fall into place.

And that’s where I was wrong. Rather than a proggy metal album with sick grooves and powerful melodies at the forefront, we got a borderline alt-metal album that’s, in all honesty, pretty generic and straightforward. Despite working with the likes of ex-Firewind vocalist Apollo Papathanasio, Ralf Scheepers of Primal Fear, and Soilworks Bjorn Strid, Aftermath ends up being underwhelming and disappointing.

Aside from the phenomenal opener, ‘Bushido’, the guitars (and rhythm parts, for that matter) are actually quite tame. There are some fantastic solos, like the ones in ‘Hellfire Club’ and ‘Another Day’, and the band’s performances are okay, but there nothing that steals the show. The tracks are simplex and don’t have a whole lot of meat on them, and a couple were actually sappy to the point of annoying me.

Having been a fan of Constantine for some time, I feel as though he’s cheated himself in this one; by no means do I think he’s incapable of playing anything other than instrumentals, but I think the route he went with this album doesn’t complement his strengths in the slightest. Aftermath lacks the memorability, technical skill, and passion that Constantine displayed so easily in his debut.

Constantine – Press on Regardless (Rockshots)

If you want to be notified every time PowerThorn publishes a review or article, you can subscribe to the blog or go like the >>Facebook Page<<!
For all the same (but mostly memes), >>@PowerThorn<< on Instagram is exactly what you need.

Stay Metal \m/

Releases This Week (April Week 3)

On this Easter I have for you some worthwhile releases that are worth checking out (as usual, but this is special because it’s fucking Easter). Anyway, just scroll on past this and listen to some of the stuff below!

Singles

Brothers of Metal – Fire, Blood and Steel

We’ll start of with a music video for a song that’s been out for a few years from the much-beloved Brothers of Metal, who seem to have signed onto AFM from Nuclear Blast. I must’ve missed that. ‘Fire, Blood and Steel’ marks one of Brothers of Metal’s more epic tracks, which is pretty easy to tell from the title alone.

From my own speculation alone, I think it’s safe to say that we can expect a new album from these guys within a year, what with the recent label activity.

Brothers of Metal – Fire, Blood and Steel (AFM)

Constantine – Bushido

With Constantine’s second album on its way, the band have unleashed ‘Bushido’. The track will be well-received by any fan of shred in the vein of Steve Vai or Nita Strauss.

Aftermath will feature many guest musicians and will be available for your listening pleasure on 31 May.

Constantine – Bushido (Rockshots)

Accept – Life’s a Bitch

German heavy/power metal pioneers Accept have released a new track: ‘Life’s a Bitch’. It’s not great, and is closer to old school hard rock/heavy metal, but it deserve’s a place here solely because of the artist. Check it out; you might get more out of it than I did.

Accept – Life’s a Bitch (Nuclear Blast)

Majesty – Burn the Bridges

German heavy metallers (or, should I say, pop-power metallers) have released a new single to accompany the news of their upcoming ninth album, which will be released under Napalm Records. The album’s concept will be built around the setting of mankind striving for a better life in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Original, right?

As is their style, we can expect heavy, chorus-driven cheese when Legends arrives on 28 June!

Majesty – Burn the Bridges (Napalm)

Visionatica – The Pharaoh

Along with the announcement of their second album, symphonic metallers Visionatica have released ‘The Pharaoh’. Like the rest of the album is promised to be, the track is more vibrant than their older material.

Fans of Within Temptation’s old stuff and the symphonic/melodic/gothic realm of metal will surely get a kick out of Visionatica. Make sure to check out Enigma Fire when it comes out on 12 July!

Visionatica – The Pharaoh (Frontiers)

Albums and EPs

Atlas Pain – Tales of a Pathfinder

Set a course for fantastical, over-the-top brilliance, because Italian folk metallers Atlas Pain have prepared a world-capturing journey in their sophomore record, Tales of a Pathfinder. Like their first record, it contains a combination of folk melodies and themes on top of relentlessly energetic power metal beats. Additionally, the quartet remains unchanged from What the Oak Left, which allows for a more refined sound.

There is one word that describes this album perfectly: epic. It’s flooded with strings, synths, choirs, and sickeningly upbeat choruses. Topped off with chugging riffs and rough vocals, it’s quite the blood rusher. It is very straightforward, but if you’re looking for wondrous motivation, this is definitely for you.

If you want to see where I plagiarized this description, check out my review!

Atlas Pain – The Moving Empire (Scarlet)

Tillian – Lotus Graveyard

Ho. Ly. Fuck. This debut album from the female-fronted Tillian is nothing short of spectacular. Lotus Graveyard is a passionate, dramatic, and fluid piece of prog rock/metal, and there’s no doubt in my mind that it’ll amaze you.

Go read about all the other great things I had to say about it here!

Tillian – Black Holes

And don’t forget to see this week’s Sabaton History!

Sabaton History 011 – Saboteurs

If you want to be notified every time PowerThorn publishes a review or article, you can subscribe to the blog or go like the >>Facebook Page<<!
For all the same (but mostly memes), >>@PowerThorn<< on Instagram is exactly what you need.

Thanks for stopping by!

Stay Metal \m/

Shred Master Constantine Releases New Single

After nearly a decade, Constantine Kotzamanis will soon unveil the second installment of his solo career: Aftermath. The album will be available on 31 May via Rockshots Records.

Today, however, we have the fortune of enjoying the phenomenal shredding of Constantine’s new single!

Constantine – Bushido (Rockshots)

Here’s an excerpt from Rockshots to give an idea as to what to expect in the new album:
“Aftermath itself is a modern metal masterpiece with Constantine delivering his most soulful, technical, inspired performances and compositions with collaborations with some of the most prominent vocalists in the world of metal and rock, Bjorn Strid (Soilwork), Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear), Apollo Papathanasio (Firewind), Chris Clancy (Munity Within) and Schmier (Destruction)”

Go follow Constantine on Facebook!

If you want to be notified every time PowerThorn publishes a review or article, you can subscribe to the blog or go like the >>Facebook Page<<!
For all the same (but mostly memes), >>@PowerThorn<< on Instagram is exactly what you need.

Stay Metal \m/