Ivanhoe – Blood And Gold Review

Score8.5/10
GenreProgressive Metal
CountryGermany
Runtime38:33
Release Date20 March 2020
Record LabelMassacre

German prog veterans Ivanhoe have returned with another prog piece that hearkens back to the classic prog of the late 80s/early 90s. Blood and Gold is the band’s eighth full-length release in their thirty-five year career, but it holds true as one of their most essential releases ever. This compact, groove-driven style of prog will especially be a hit for fans of golden-age Queensryche and Fates Warning.

Blood and Gold does a lot of things right. First and foremost, the runtime is short and sweet (and the songs are all around the four-minute range); there’s no fat around the edges, it’s just no-bullshit prog with experimental, time-changey grooves and sick facemelters in a manageable space. As such, it’s perfect for prog fans who don’t have the attention span to be serious prog fans. Next in line are the drums, which are absolutely killer from the very first song, courtesy of the band’s brand new drummer, Bernd Heining. His fills are great and his beats are many, which is the crucial element in keeping the more laid-back tunes interesting (which is like two thirds of the album). It’s also worth mentioning that the mixing is perfect for an album like this. The guitars and drums sound closer to traditional metal than the colossal, crisp onslaught that most modern prog delivers. Don’t get me wrong, I live for clean and disgustingly heavy, but the softer, more lo-fi production quality has its place, too.

Outside of just comparing it to “early 90s prog”, the overall sound of the album is pretty melancholic, putting a greater emphasis on emotional hooks and guitar countermelodies than explosive riffs. There’s a serious level of technicality, though, most evident in the songs ‘Solace’ and ‘Perfect Tragedy’ (both of which are my favourite tracks), where the time changes are many and the rhythm section is on fucking point.

Between strong songwriting, great musicianship, and that classic feel, Blood and Gold is definitely worth checking out. Also, make sure to keep your ears open, because there’re a ton of little details in the album which I didn’t even touch on (like a sax solo in ‘Shadow Play’).

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Heavy Metal: Grave Digger Announce ‘Fields Of Blood’

After 40 years of ferocity, German heavy metal pioneers Grave Digger are soon to unleash their twentieth album.

Fields of Blood is the third and final installment of the band’s epic Highland story through Scottish history and promises driving riffs and epic choruses of traditional heavy metal.

Frontman Chris Boltendahl on the album:
“We did it again and put on the kilts… as we always have been fascinated by Scotland and its history. For a long time, we considered when the right time would be to return to the Highlands and delve into their legends and myths. Our 40th band anniversary seems to be the right occasion for this and so we take you on a trip for the third time… put on the kilts and pull out your swords and axes, follows us to Stirling and Culloden and experience Scottish history, up close, authentic and emotional. As William Wallace / Braveheart said: Yes, they may take our lives. But they never take away our freedom!”

01. The Clansman’s Journey
02. All for the Kingdom
03. Lions of the Sea
04. Freedom
05. The Heart of Scotland
06. Thousand Tears
07. Union of the Crown
08. My Final Fight
09. Gathering of the Clans
10. Barbarian
11. Fields of Blood
12. Requiem for the Fallen

Fields of Blood will be released on 29 May via Napalm Records. Keep your eyes open for the upcoming singles!

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Aereum – Tempest Of Time Review

Score9/10
GenreMeloDeath/Folk Metal (Pirate Metal)
CountryGermany
Runtime44:08
Release Date11 January 2020
Record LabelIndependent

Germany’s newest metal pirates have come ashore with a debut that is nothing short of impressive. Tempest of Time sees Aereum crash onto the metal scene with nine swashbuckling tracks that are worth their weight in cursed gold. If melodic and aggressive is your thing, this album is exactly what you need!

I’m not gonna lie; when I first heard the vocals, I wasn’t sold. I’m usually not a huge fan of high, throaty rough vocals, and this album has plenty. But, after about a minute and a half, they grew on me. They’re sharp and piercing like the wind and they sound pissed off enough to embody even a buccaneer’s teen years. It might be an acquired taste for some, but it probably won’t take long until you’re hooked on this album like I was.

Tempest of Time begins with solid shanty riffs and countermelodies in ‘Digital Warfare’, and continues to ebb and flow like the sea; each track offers its own variety of feels and grooves, from the colossally-heavy ‘Just Pirates’ to the easier, folky ‘Modular Cowboy’. It’s actually amazing how Aereum have managed to do the melodeath/folk thing so well. The driving force is the riff-heavy guitarwork, which do far more than your usual chord-chugging, and the solos are sure to melt some faces. The drums also go beyond your typical grooves, thrashing about like a vicious shark. The track with my favourite drumming would be ‘The Eye of Bastet’, which also happens to be my favourite track overall. Seriously, they barely sit still for four fucking bars. It’s awesome.

It’s only February, but I’m calling this as one of the pirate (and folk) highlights of the year. It’s dynamic, super heavy, and it has huge relistenability. Easily the best nautical album I’ve heard in a long time. Be sure to catch this one, lest ye walk the plank!

(These jokes doing anything for you?)

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Power Metal: Powerwolf Announce New Album

Heavy metal priests Powerwolf have are amassing a compilation album of unholy proportions. Best of the Blessed will contain sixteen of the band’s most beloved anthems, as well as fourteen live tracks.

Many of the studio tracks will be revamped versions, which means you can expect the best sound from old Powerwolf material.

CD 1 – Best Of The Blessed Tracklisting:
1. We Drink Your Blood (New Version 2020)
2. Army of the Night
3. Demons Are a Girl‘s Best Friend
4. Werewolves of Armenia (New Version 2020)
5. Saturday Satan (New Version 2020)
6. Amen & Attack
7. Where the Wild Wolves Have Gone
8. Resurrection by Erection (New Version 2020)
9. Sanctified with Dynamite (New Version 2020)
10. Kreuzfeuer
11. Armata Strigoi
12. Kiss of the Cobra King (New Version 2019)
13. Killers with the Cross 
14. Sacred & Wild
15. In Blood We Trust (New Version 2020)
16. Let There Be Night

CD 2 – The Live Sacrament (Wolfsnächte 2018):
1. Fire & Forgive
2. Incense & Iron
3. Amen & Attack
4. Demons Are a Girl’s Best Friend
5. Killers with the Cross
6. Armata Strigoi
7. Blessed & Possessed
8. Where The Wild Wolves Have Gone
9. Resurrection by Erection
10. Stossgebet
11. All We Need Is Blood
12. We Drink Your Blood
13. Werewolves of Armenia
14. Lupus Die

Earbook & LP Box ( The Live Bonus Sacrament ):
1. Sanctified with Dynamite
2. Army Of The Night
3. Coleus Sanctus
4. Let There Be Night

The first redone track from the album, ‘Kiss of the Cobra King’, has already been released!

Best of the Blessed will be released on 5 June 2020 via Napalm Records!

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Grendel’s Sÿster – Myrtle Wreath Review

Score8/10
GenreHeavy Metal
CountryGermany
Runtime50:34 (25:17 per language)
Release Date1 October 2019
Record LabelIndependent

One of Germany’s more unique metal bands, the female-fronted Grendel’s Syster, have released their second EP. Myrtle Wreath includes both an English and German version, which allows for a slightly different experience depending on which you listen to. But, at twenty-five minutes per version, the album is is short, sweet, and easily manageable in one sitting.

The most impressive aspect of Myrtle Wreath (and Grendel’s Syster in general) is its individuality. The medieval sound is steeped in a doomy atmosphere and topped off with folk influences. Apparent inspirations that come to mind include Tanith and Wytch Hazel, and even a hint of early Manowar. All of these different elements are combined into a strong, almost epic feel, but with a slightly foreboding air over it.

Another cool touch is the vocal and guitar layering. Incanted vocal lines paint visions of covens singing old folk tunes while the guitars float between slow, deliberate riffs and countermelodies. They fill out the sound without driving it too far away from its rawness the way keyboards or super refined production quality would.

In a word, Myrtle Wreath is different, and that alone makes it worth checking out. Fortunately, it has plenty more than just individuality going for it, so your curiosity will be well-founded and well-rewarded.

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Power Metal: Powerwolf Release 15th Anniversary Version Of ‘Kiss Of The Cobra King’

Germany’s Power metal priests Powerwolf have redone one of their most popular songs for their 15th Anniversary! ‘Kiss of the Cobra King’.

Guitarist Matthew Greywolf on the new track:
“To celebrate the packs 15th birthday, we decided to realize an idea that had been around for many years – it felt like now was the right time for it to be realized. As a birthday present to ourselves and all the legions of PW-maniacs out there, we have re-written the ‘Return in bloodred’-classic ‘Kiss Of The Cobra Kin’. This song has been one of our faves ever since and it was a fun experience to transform this song into how it would sound if it were a song written by Powerwolf in 2019.

In fact, it has become a totally new song and we absolutely love it. The writing and recording-session for this one was truly special to us, as there was no album context, no huge framework, just a loose idea and the freedom to let it happen. And since a special recording deserves a special visualization, we went all the way and shot an amazingly weird video-clip – enjoy!“

Also in celebration of fifteen years on the metal scene, Powerwolf have also come out with a board game, called Armata Strigoi. You can check it out here!

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Vanden Plas – The Ghost Xperiment – Awakening Review

Score7/10
GenreProgressive Metal
CountryGermany
Runtime46:36
Release Date11 October 2019
Record LabelFrontiers

Germany’s Vanden Plas is the only veteran band I can think of off the top of my head that’s had the exact same lineup since their beginning. For more than thirty years, the band’s five members have delivered great progressive metal albums without fail, all the while never getting sick enough of each other to split up. If that doesn’t scream musical commitment, then I don’t know what does. That’s a damn impressive feat in and of itself, so the fact that their ninth album, The Ghost Xperiment – Awakening, is yet another solid piece of prog is just icing.

Stylistically, The Ghost Xperiment treads pretty closely to the albums of bands like Fates Warning (and especially Arch/Matheos) and mid-Queensryche. As is common in prog, the album only consists of six songs, but each clocks in at close to ten minutes, so it actually feels a lot longer than its 46-minute runtime. There’re a few parts that could probably be condensed a bit, but the tracks are dynamic enough that it really isn’t necessary.

Everything about The Ghost Xperiment is really good; the melodies are strong, the riffs are great, and the grooves are heavy. The only real downside is that nothing really jumps out. Sure, there are a couple notable melodies throughout the album (such as in the closer, ‘the Ghost Xperiment’), but the album as a whole is pretty homogeneous. If I had to pick a highlight, it’d be the solos. They’re super sick, although, since the backing parts are pretty straightforward, they don’t deliver a huge impact.

For a band that’s been around for more than three decades, The Ghost Xperiment – Awakening is worlds more than I’d expect. However, for Vanden Plas, this album is exactly what I’d expect. The whole band is on point, the arrangements are genuine, and there’s enough energy and passion in the music that, while it doesn’t throw any showstoppers, the album delivers a commendable prog metal performance.

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Power Metal: Victorius Unleash The ‘Super Sonic Samurai’

German powerforce Victorius have released the first single to their upcoming album, Space Ninjas from Hell. ‘Super Sonic Samurai’ introduces (you guessed it!) the Super Sonic Samurai of the super space war that will take place in the new album.

Space Ninjas from Hell is the followup to 2018’s EP Dinosaur Warfare – Legend of the Power Saurus. Where Dinosaur Warfare saw a holy war between aliens and the mighty dinosaurs for Earth, Space Ninjas from Hell will see the Dinoforce pitted against, well, space ninjas that are, presumably, from Hell.

01. Tale Of The Sunbladers
02. Ninjas Unite
03. Super Sonic Samurai
04. Evil Wizard WuShu Master
05. Nippon Knights
06. Shuriken Showdown
07. Wasabi Warmachine
08. Wrath Of The Dragongod
09. Astral Assassin Shark Attack
10. Space Ninjas From Hell
11. Cosmic Space Commando Base
12. Shinobi Strike 3000
13. Dark Side Of The Sun (Japan bonus track)

Space Ninjas from Hell will be released on 17 January 2020.

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Dawn Of Destiny – The Beast Inside Review

Score8/10
GenreMelodic/Power Metal
CountryGermany
Runtime56:26
Release Date4 October 2019
Record LabelRam It Down

These days, it’s incredibly difficult to carve out your own distinct space in the metal world. Among the billion or so new bands that come out by the year, it’s simply a numbers game at this point; no matter what your sound is, chances are it’s been done before. Usually, anyway. So, when a band like Dawn of Destiny comes around with a new album, it’s enough to ignite my curiosity. To say that The Beast Inside is unique would be a bit of an understatement. Seriously. It’s so unique that I can’t directly compare its sound to another band or album. Not that I’ve heard every metal record ever (because, obviously, I haven’t), but I’ve listened to my fair share of melodic and power metal, so that should say something.

However, that doesn’t make their sound indescribable or anything of the sort. Most simply, The Beast Inside is a mashup of gothic, progressive, symphonic, and power metal. This fundamental mix is hardly groundbreaking, but the way in which Dawn of Destiny differs from any band I can think of is the way it twists this combination into unconventional songwriting and interesting melodies. The first track, ‘The Beast Inside a Beauty’ is a great example of this. Starting with a light music box melody, it brings the attitude of gothic and symphonic metal together with the driving energy of power metal. It’s also the perfect preview to the album’s overall sound and (although the next two tracks aren’t quite as good) it starts the album off on a high note.

So, yeah, it’s got a unique sound, but what about the musicians? I’m glad you asked! In short, this is a fucking talented group. Jen Faber brings a big, beefy guitar tone to his chugging riffs and, on drums, Philipp Bock goes beyond your basic time-keeping by keeping the grooves dynamic. And those guitar solos? Holy fuck. There are some serious gems, especially in ‘It’s My Fate’. The highlight, though, is Jeanette Scherff‘s strong vocal style. She sings far lower and with way more bravado than you usually hear in this kind of music, making the already-solid choruses even more memorable. Her voice is actually very similar to original Battle Beast and current Burning Point vocalist Nitte Valo. Tying the whole thing together are the keyboards, courtesy of Dirk Raczkiewicz, which fill out the background nicely.

Despite all the praise I have for The Beast Inside, it isn’t perfect. ‘Peace of Mind’ is pretty weak to the point where the album could easily do without it. But, other than the odd awkward verse melody and section, this is pretty much it for shortcomings, which isn’t bad at all, if you ask me.

All things considered, The Beast Inside is an awesome album. The songs range from energetic power metal to heavier, darker metal to unconventional-yet-melodic metal. Some songs are definitely stronger than others, with ‘Signs in the Sky’ and ‘If We Close Our Eyes’ being my favourites, but every track offers something different from the last, so make sure to give the whole album a spin!

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Mystic Prophecy Announce Eleventh Album

German heavy metal titans have a new album on the way. The album is entitled Metal Division and will be the band’s first album release under their new label, ROAR!. Mystic Prophecy were previously signed with Massacre Records, under which they released seven albums.

From the ROAR! press release:
Metal Division is definitely the band’s heaviest and best work to date and will elevate Mystic Prophecy where they belong: to the HEAVY METAL pantheon!

Metal Division will be released on 10 January of 2020.

Go follow Mystic prophecy on Facebook to catch new information about the album!

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