Diabulus In Musica – Argia

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Spanish symphonic metallers Diabulus In Musica are poised to unleash their third album Argia this week, a release which surprisingly, considering how easily it was for its predecessor The Wanderer to achieve the same aim, took its time to win over thoughts and passions. It is hard to pinpoint why the slow uptake on what is openly a grander evolution on the might of the previous album but the release certainly raised many questions before ultimately seducing doubts and winning the imagination. There are still elements which leave a few insecurities and as a lingering persuasiveness the band’s last full-length steals a march on its successor, but there is no undoubting the eager satisfaction and pleasure brewed by Argia.

Released via Napalm Records, Argia sees band founders, vocalist Zuberoa Aznárez (ex-Dragon Lord) and keyboardist Gorka Elso (ex-Dragon Lord, ex-Meridiam ) joined by the new addition of bassist Odei Ochoa, drummer David Carrica (Tierra Santa), and guitarist Alexey Kolygin (Allowance), all three joining the 2006 formed band last year. The quintet explores deeper and richer expansive symphonic landscapes and melodically coloured scenery than the previous album whilst not neglecting the voracious metallic savagery the band is equally as accomplished at uncaging upon the senses. The voice of Aznárez as expected seduces and enchants as she takes robust flight across the songs, the release confirming her place as one of metal’s finest female vocal provocateurs, whilst the keys of Elso equally enrich the canvas crafted by the band. With the guitar skills and bass predation as well as the rhythmic thrust of songs striking, Argia is a formidable encounter. True it took its time to convince with personal tastes still not totally enamoured at times but it is hard not to declare and recommend the album as another mighty slice of melodic exploration from Diabulus In Musica.

The album opens with the atmospheric beauty of Et Resurrexit (Libera Me), an initial dark ambience lit by the glorious celestial tones of 536_DIM_CMYKAznárez. Her vocal beacon tempers the emerging shadows and imposing haunted feel of the track, that darkness eventually held in check by the additional medieval bred strings, warm flutes caresses, and the melodically hued keys. The piece though is a conflict between light and dark, those grey clouds bearing ever nearer, eventually raising their dark battalions to march across the imagination to set up an appetite for the journey to come. Closed by the harmonies of a sky bred choir the track seamlessly evolves into the instantly rapacious From The Embers, riffs and rhythms a rampant charge from its first breath. It is charged and hungry metal which is given another surge of rabid energy and incendiary intensity by the soaring vocal harmonies and expressive keys. Once Aznárez begins the narrative, the track relaxes but still keeps its snarl through the rigid riffery and growling vocal squalls of Elso. The track challenges and thrills from start to finish, the band breeding all the potency which won full submission of the emotions in the last album into a stronger and decisively enterprising bait.

The following Inner Force steps in through an electronic metal like lure next, its welcome reminding of The Browning until the vocals seize the songs for their own, operatic essences and smouldering melodic croons from Aznárez merging for a vibrant and captivating soar through the enticing yet rugged heavens of the song. As so often with Diabulus In Musica, they immerse ears and thoughts in a radiantly inciting premise which cannot fail to spark visions and tales from within the listener’s imagination.

The vast climactic embrace of Furia de Libertad comes next, its sultry land and air a heated blaze of intrigue and adventure presented by Aznárez and guest vocalist Ailyn Giménez of Sirenia. The track sweeps up the senses in its robust canter and steamy ambience to again ignite a new adventure in the mind despite the lyrics being passed over in Spanish. Its pungent humidity is in many ways matched by Maitagarri though the song is washed by gentle melody crafted winds which refresh from within the thicker orchestral atmosphere erupting throughout. With a folk lilt to the gentle stroll within the more tempestuous intent, the song makes for the compelling fusion of power and tenderness which the band is persistently so good at conjuring and presenting.

From the brief, again folk spawned Sed Diabolus, the album reaches its pinnacle through firstly Spoilt Vampire and after the less impressing Eternal Breeze, the outstanding Mechanical Ethos. The first of the three antagonistically stalks the senses from its first snarl, guitars and drums brewing up a hunger driven rabidity which the keys spear with acidic scythes of temptation. The song’s predatory intent is held in rein by the leadership of Aznárez’s voice though it finds an eager protagonist through Elso’s growls to duel with her. It is an exceptional proposition which never relents in its carnivorous intensity and warlike oppression but still lights the ears with a resourceful endeavour of melodic invention. Its triumph is matched by the third of the trio, its body again merciless in its aggression and spellbinding in its imagination, that reference to The Browning nagging away again within the torrential waspish electronic groove of the song. Truth to say that when the band stand tall with their sinews and nostrils flaring violently whilst their melodic and vocal imagination entwines around the predation, the band has us drooling most and wishing for so much more. Between the pair the classically honed and atmospherically sculpted keys and vocal led Eternal Breeze feels lost between the threatening storms but to be fair it does stand majestically away from the ravenous pack if without sparking a fire in the emotions.

The dark Encounter at Chronos’ Maze which features Therion frontman Thomas Vikström comes next and struggles to make an impact. Musically the track is as immense as any other, imposing and dramatically irresistible but the vocals fail to match the sounds. Vikström somehow and very surprisingly outshines Aznárez who seems to go missing in the match strength wise but both are left floundering by the coarse roars of Elso.

Both the elegant Indigo and the rigorous Healing regain the album’s grip on the emotions, the first a bewitching summer flight of flute and keys crafted melodies aligned to tempting vocal harmonies whilst the second stomps and surges masterfully from its opening swipe to send thoughts once more into climactic and extensively broad dramatic adventures. Completed by the short instrumental Horizons, the piece offering an evocative view of the lands ventured, Argia is a riveting journey to embrace. It does not rival The Wanderer in many ways, it and personal preferences at odds from time to time, but Argia despite needing more time is a mouthwatering encounter proving Diabulus In Musica as one of the essentials within symphonic metal.

http://diabulusinmusica.com/

8/10

RingMaster 11/04/2014

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Delain -The Human Contradiction

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The release of The Human Contradiction cements a long held thought here that Dutch symphonic metallers Delain is one of if not the most exciting and refreshing band in the genre and melodic metal. The band’s fourth album is a spellbinding fire of seductive vocals, inescapable virulent hooks, and a carnivorous metallic enterprise which never dulls its impact and success no matter how many times the songs prey upon ears and passions. Their most ravenously inventive release so far, the nine track adventure shows a creatively bolder, broader, and potent Delain.

Their second release on Napalm Records, after last year’s more than decent Interlude, a release of new songs, covers, and live tracks, The Human Contradiction is a dramatic follow-up to their acclaimed and impressive third album We Are The Others of 2012. It takes the established power and imagination of the band into a new incendiary journey where every aspect from aggressive incitement to melodic painting and vocal conjuring creates a ricer canvas and palette for thoughts and emotions to paint vast evocative narratives with. Once again sculpted from the expansive songwriting of band founder and keyboardist Martijn Westerholt, singer Charlotte Wessels, and long-time musical partner Guus Eikens, the Fredrik Nordström and Henrik Udd mixed album with mastering by Grammy Award winner Ted Jensen, is arguably the band’s most complete work, bringing the darker tones and expression of their earlier albums with the sultry melodic grace and richness with was loudly hinted at on the last releases. It results in a confrontation which serenades and embraces the senses whilst chewing up the ground beneath them.

Looking at humanity’s ‘them and us syndrome’ and how it relates to those perceived as ‘different’; the ‘otherness’ first approached upon We 535_Delain_RGBAre The Others, and taking its title from the post-apocalypse trilogy Lilith’s Brood by Octavia E. Butlers, The Human Contradiction instantly engulfs imagination and passions with its opener. Here Come The Vultures is a quite sensational welcome into the album using a simple union of the constantly impressing voice of Wessels, soothing vocal harmonies, and a music box like enticement. It is an evocative coaxing which embraces thoughts as the keys of Westerholt adds some dramatic shading before the explosion of predatory riffs from guitarist Timo Somers, the dark hearted basslines of Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije, and the fearsome swings of drummer Sander Zoer. The track intimidates and excites instantly, smothering the senses in an intense and towering persuasion cored by the siren tones of Wessels. Not for the last time on the album there is something familiar to the proposition, a rewarding and powerful enchantment which captures an instant allegiance from mind and heart.

From the huge passions foraging exploits and ingenuity of its predecessor, Your Body Is A Battleground presents its own suspenseful and masterfully magnetic tale. Again a gentle invitation makes way for a climactic adventure within a heady cage of composing riffs and rapacious rhythms lit by glorious horns of melodic fire. As you would expect the band and album welcomes guest contributions and the second track sees the returning vocal force of Marco Hietala (Nightwish), his voice a caustic blaze alongside the temptress tones of Wessel as the track climbs all over the senses with another exhaustingly creative narrative. Fierce and elegant, the song takes the listener on a rigorous ride, danger and majesty washing every note and syllable.

The following Stardust steps from a shadowed rhythmic heartbeat with emotive vocals cupping ears in an expressive atmosphere which at first courts the passionate angst of the lyrical call before flaring up with torrid hues of fire bred melodies and invasive intensity. The song is toxic in its drama and passion drenched suasion, and quite irresistible as is its successor My Masquerade, a hypnotic fusion of dark realms and rock pop virulence which seduces and overwhelms at every turn. The shadows provided by the bass and the noir lit ambience of the keys crowd the senses as the mystique of the emerging tale strokes the imagination, again the merger of bordering of metallic hostility and heart enlivening harmonies artistic alchemy and the venue to soaring pop bred choruses, though they too are prowled by deep dwelling vocal tones.

Tell Me, Mechanist steps up next and takes little encouragement to begin savaging ears with an excellent furnace of djent inspired rhythmic antagonism and similarly destructive riffing though as always Wessels and keys keep a rein on it all to create a masterful and compelling balance. The grievous side of the song finds a protagonist in the guest guttural intrusions of George Oosthoek (Celestial Season-vocals, Doghouse Gallows-drums), another highly successful vocal confrontation and union with Wessel explored.

In many ways the latter end of the album takes longer to win over the passions then the first though it is more down to the incredible impact the first few songs make than any failing of tracks like Sing To Me and Army Of Dolls. The first of the two sees the excellent re-appearance of Hietala in the passionate melancholic waltz of the song whilst the second expands an electro theme to its expressive premise though it is soon immersed in a not exactly solemn but certainly a sobering raw exploration. The track again captivates with ease saving its finest enticement for the electronic /vocal stomp building to a quite exceptional exotic breath before its heated finale.

The album is completed by the bewitching Lullaby and its beauteous melodic grace within a raptorial aggression and The Tragedy Of The Commons which features Alissa White-Gluz (ex- The Agonist). The track has an epic feel to its imperious shadows and dark depths which both Wessel and White-Gluz bring alive stealing the show from the rest of the band. Though lacking the same strength of previous tracks it is a fine end to a new masterpiece from Delain. For personal tastes there are few as adept and skilled at recruiting an immediate hunger and connection with their ever fluid and drama clad sounds, or as mouth-wateringly inventive and unpredictable within symphonic metal. With the outstanding The Human Contradiction the band has taken it to another contagiously unique level, and you still feel they have only begun tapping into their full potential which is just exciting.

http://www.delain.nl/

9/10

RingMaster 04/04/2014

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Asa-Noir – The Fall Of The Idols

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    If you are looking for a real musical adventure then listening to The Fall Of The Idols, the new album from Finnish metallers Asa-Noir is high on the list of recommendations. Everything about the release is adventure, from its aural exploration and lyrical narrative through to its appetite inflaming flavouring and exhausting imagination. Band and album make a riveting and forcibly compelling endeavour with more distinct metal variants than flood warnings found in the UK right now. It is a glorious and seamless blending of textures and sounds into that extensive range of styles, a fusion which emerges as something mouth-wateringly invigorating, boldly exciting, and strikingly unique.

     The band found its seeds in the Finnish town of Hämeenlinna where guitarist Ville Oravala and drummer Ilkka Koivisto united their skills in 2004.Taking inspiration from the Norwegian black metal scene into their fascination with Norse mythology and Gothic horror fiction, Asa-Noir evolved and emerged with initially a heathen black metal encounter but as time passed and the band expanded, and from all accounts persistently changed, so did its sound. Now a sextet of vocalist Henri Asikainen, guitarist Kalle Hotti, bassist Antti Koivisto, and Toni Haapasaari on keys alongside Ville Oravala and Ilkka Koivisto, the magnetic metallers unleash The Fall Of The Idols, a record which given the chance will bring the band new and greater recognition you can only surmise as it seduces and voraciously toys with the passions.

     Released via WormHoleDeath Records, The Fall Of The Idols continues the band’s lyrical premise and artistic investigation based in the native European religion Asatru whilst infusing elements and visually stimulating aspects of the works of writers such as Poe and Lovecraft. Being our first meeting with Asa-Noir, how the new album differs from the band’s earlier sounds is impossible to reflect on but with a presence which can only be described as passion raising metal in all its melodically buoyant and aggressively hungry glory, The Fall Of The Idols is an enthralling and masterful provocateur which to be truthful we cannot get enough of.

     The opening instrumental Lokasenna gets it all off to a stunning start. It is an epically toned flight through an evocative and stirring desert like sultry landscape, sands of time and dusts of generations flying across thoughts whilst holding ominous and dangerous secrets. It is a rapturous start, a visually incendiary soundscape setting the listener up perfectly for the blazing tempest of the following title track. Immediately consuming the ears in a sea of symphonic and power metal rapaciousness with snarling riffs and reserved but intensive rhythms, the track takes little time in igniting thoughts and emotions. The vocals of Asikainen provide a grizzled texture to the melodically elegant keys and folkish warmth which emerges, his tones as gritty as sand but soaked in enticement rather than threat. It is a transfixing piece of malevolent but fully welcoming persuasion leaving an urgent hunger to delve even deeper into the album.

    The Cosmogonic Process follows with a more electronic and industrially honed opening, though guitars and bass are soon entwining the radiance with strict preying riffs. Not as instantly accessible as its predecessor and less intensively aggressive, the song unites dark shadows and melodic beauty in a tantalising flame of enterprise latched to dramatic textures created with open and incisive craft. There is so much going on in the song, with a similarly potent sparking of the imagination in tow, that you almost need to take a song one at a time to bask in and reflect on everything you have heard for full appreciation, but then again with a fully raging appetite from almost the first minute too impatient to wait you just have to move on and admit that to explore individual moments more that is what repeat listens are for.

    From the previous track which at times brings Canadian underground metallers The New Jacobin Club to mind, Asa-Noir open up Solitude In Silence with an orchestral piece which is again wholly cinematic though igniting a comparison to films like Love Story with its romantic air. It is just an early caress though as the track breaks into a muscular stride with an anthemically fuelled flame to its evolving melodic expedition. It once more creates a web of temptation which is impossible to resist or remove emotions and energy from, the embracing swagger and triumphant gait of the song aggressively spellbinding.

    The likes of the irrepressibly tantalising Hawthorns and the rich foreboding imaginative storm of Rise Of The Lokean continue the ever intensifying entangling of thoughts and emotions whilst Spirit Of The Unrest works its way almost insidiously into the passions with a symphonic, gothic, and slightly thrash blessed united suasion that feel like a gift with barbarous intent, a sonic Trojan Horse of sorts. Amidst these though lies the pinnacle of the album, the magnificent Naglfahr Lounge Music. It is festivity and anthem sculpted into an irresistible riling of the heart, and almost alone a reason why Asa-Noir should be sought out.

     Completed by the rigorously commanding and tempting Torn By Thorns and the closing portentous instrumental Drowning, it is impossible to validly offer anything up to temper the virtual lust we have for The Fall Of The Idols. People’s tastes and wants obviously vary but it is hard to imagine that fans of melodic metal however it comes, and the album probably employs it anyway, not finding a real feeling for and pleasure from this immense offering from Asa-Noir, a band turning metallic ‘theatrical drama’ into something to greedily devour.

https://www.facebook.com/asanoirband

10/10

RingMaster 04/02/2014

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Winter Storm – Within The Frozen Design

 

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    Listening to the potent and promise soaked Within The Frozen Design, you easily get the feeling that UK symphonic metallers Winter Storm are poised to move up into a more intensive limelight. Whether this, their second album is the spring board time will tell but it is hard not to expect on a near horizon to see the band making a big contribution at the fore of the genre. The twelve track release has issues which make you query if their time is quite yet but simultaneously provides an absorbing and skilful melodic embrace which only raises and stretches a keen appetite for the band and its expressive sound.

     From the West Midlands, the quintet has earned a strong reputation and loyal following with their dark melodic metal, a sound honed through gothic shadows and symphonic atmospheres. Formed in 2008, Winter Storm were soon gripping attention live, supporting the likes of Alestorm, Sirenia, Theatres Des Vampires, To Mera, and Sarah Jezebel Deva early on before going on to share stages with the likes of Delain, Die So Fluid, The Birthday Massacre, ReVamp, The Lotus and many more. Debut album Serenity In Darkness of 2010 drew critical acclaim its way as have numerous festival appearances over recent years to cement and increase the band’s stature within British melodic metal. Now the strongly anticipated self-released Within The Frozen Design brings 2014 into a sharp focus for the band and its fans, an album if not setting raging fires undoubtedly reaffirms the creative strength and impressive potential of Winter Storm.

     As the album title, and band name come to that, suggests the tracks frequent a chilled and icily haunting realm but one clad in WS-coverbeauty and a melodic artistry which only warms. From the opening scene and drama setting intro Cold Creation, the album is soon caging ears in a rhythmic probing and brooding intensity as Wasted Feelings opens its arms. Its initial riffs seem predatory with an attitude to match the punchy rhythms barracking the senses. Equally though there is a breeze of synth colour floating over and through the aggressive touch of the track, its melodic soothing eventually tempering the snarl of the song ready for the impressive tones of vocalist Hannah Fieldhouse. Her voice is rich and tempting but with a restraint which sets her pleasingly apart from many other female fronted genre bands. The track provides an unpredictable expanse of sound and twists which without being startling in their impact only seduce the fullest attention on and satisfaction with its feisty yet elegant narrative.

     The following Shadow Weaver like its predecessor makes a forceful and rapacious entrance; riffs and rhythms a cage of antagonistic intent wrapped in more keys sculpted temptation. Dark with a gothic ambience, the song again guided by great vocals flirts with and triggers the imagination as it ventures through a rugged landscape of heavy riffs and sonic enterprise. Pretty much like the album the song is a slowly persuasive encounter but one which proves its strength and quality through deliberate attention. The same can be said of the next up Symmetric Flow, a captivating wind of melodic vocals and endeavour within a sturdy and uncompromising heavy metal frame. Again the offering is not as instant to convince as you would maybe expect or like but unveils plenty to enthuse about upon closer attention. That is one of the ‘problems’ of the album, tracks do not leap out and grip preferring a slower seduction but this comes with a need to fully extend a concentrated focus on the album to reap it’s definitely existing  rewards. It is hard to be critical though even if listeners need patience when immersing in the album.

    Afraid To Speak steps up next, gently wrapping a sultry breeze of melodic enchantment around thoughts if again without sparking any major reaction; that power is left to its successor Beneath The Mystery. The track also springs from a reserved start to open up sinew driven riffing and heavily striking rhythms within the keys designed eighties sounding gothic weave which feels seeded in the likes of Sisters Of Mercy and Play Dead by. It is a fiery encounter yet one which does not erupt or stretch its attributes as far as you expect or would like, again an accusation you can make on Within The Frozen Design as a whole.

   After the brief but decent enough instrumental Broken World, the album undulates a little but keeps the listener enthused starting with the impressive Universal Design, a track offering another accomplished and magnetic web of gothic and symphonic metal with a bite and almost antagonistic breath. It provides sizeable bait for the senses to devour eagerly before the enjoyable if underwhelming Gatekeeper shows its class. It is sandwiched between the previous track and the equally thrilling Dark Awakening, the song a heavy footed shadowed drenched beast with radiant beauty casting ripe melodic tantalising. As elsewhere the guitar craft and imagination is an irresistible lure whilst the epic tone of the track is aggressively bewitching.

     Completed by the overlong but appealing instrumental Waves Of Misery and the final slice of gothic allurement of The Frozen Siren, the album is a pleasing and enticing encounter. The cloudy production at times does the release no favours, cloaking some of the piercing strengths of instruments and voice but Winter Storm and Within The Frozen Design emerge from it with strength and quality. As mentioned earlier the album does not ignite a fire in the passions but definitely provides company which only invites the fullest satisfaction.

www.winter-storm.com

7.5/10

RingMaster 22/01/2014

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Dissension – Of Time And Chronic Disease

Dissension Press Photo

If you are ever undecided which genre to grace your day with then veering over to the debut album from Canadian metallers Dissension could very well solve your indecision. Combining a core of thrash, black, and power metal with numerous other flavoursome essences from multiple metal bred aspects into a coherent and fluid rapacious adventure, the band is a striking proposition with a debut album in the shape of the thrilling storm Of Time And Chronic Disease which simply exhilarates and captivates. Certainly the release needs time to lay out its ultimately irresistible persuasion and imaginative narrative but the effort is rewarded with a thoroughly invigorating and scintillating fury of inventive rabidity and deeply satisfying enterprise.

Formed in 2007 as Set to Kill with a different sound to what evolved and rampages through the ear on their first album, the Montreal quintet of vocalist guitarist Nathan Afilalo, guitarist Matteo Conti, keyboardist Andrew Proppe, drummer Anthony Pulcini, and bassist Oli Aveline (since left to be replaced by Giancarlo Cininni), took little time waking up appetites and attention locally and beyond. Shows with the likes of Tyr, Threat Signal, and Cryptopsy and an appearance on the prestigious Heavy MTL stage in 2011 all enhanced and accelerated their brewing stature but you can only suspect that Of Time And Chronic Disease will lead Dissension to a loftier height of awareness and recognition worldwide such its impressive encounter.

Produced by Kevin Jardine of Uplift Productions, (Slaves on Dope, What Comes To Life, One) and mastered by Ryan Morey (Arcade Fire, Album Cover - Dissension - Of Time And Chronic DiseasePriestess, Half Moon Run), the album immediately tells you what it is all about with opener Thralls To The Crucified. The track opens with a sturdy thrash inspired regimented attack of riffs and rhythms, their restrained but firm stance opening up the senses for the evocative keys which lay a suggestive wash over the growing hunger. Opening into a scenic melodic and sonic landscape crafted by the excellent invention of guitars and keys, the vocals of Afilalo caustically growls and squalls over the enticing venture adding to the intimidation stalking the track through the bass of Aveline and the predatory beats of Pulcini. Never seemingly staying in one gait and certainly one style for longer than is needed to get the sonic point across, the track is a riveting expanse of ingenuity subsequently echoed across the whole album.

The following Graceless Death is a venomous charge of blackened metal with symphonic winds smouldering in the background whilst their frequent louder whispers make a fuller seduction from time to time. With an intensive twisted groove and a flight of predacious riffing the song steals the breath, soothes the violation, and steals it once again across its inventively startling length. As becomes apparent in all the songs, it is impossible to take everything in the first, second, arguably even the third and fourth listen but that just makes each confrontation a giving and ever evolving pleasure.

The likes of Blacksteel with its less demanding heavy metal breath, though the track soon menaces and threatens with muscular intensity and ravenous creativity, the magnetic merger of light and dark suasion Set To Kill, and the finely crafted Legacy continue the enthralling start. The last of the three opens with an elegant melodic descript before unleashing flames of technically expressive and compelling shadow drenched emprise, the track another which seamlessly bringing light and dark, melodies and savage intrusion into an absorbing and continually evolving provocative triumph.

Immense and enthralling from the start Of Time And Chronic Disease reaches another plateau with its title track, the first single from the album. From a potent and rich atmospheric soundscape impressively carved by riffs, drums, and bass, and coloured by as now expected precise and imaginative melodic hues from keys and guitars, the track slowly unveils its sinister serpentine like bestial intent, the vocals a dangerous portent against the excellent discord tainted piano. The track like the imagination is soon at the mercy of the malevolence at the heart of the song though once more the track is a thrilling scenic passage through the darkest corners alongside the brightest sonic torches.

Dissention and Apotheosis bring the album to a stimulating intensive close, both like all before exploring the darkest depths of human nature and its accompanying shadows. As mentioned the layers and creative depths of the songs and album are only really discovered over numerous engagements thus making it impossible to truly portray all that the album contains in written word but that the rewards are rich and plenty is all you really need to know. Of Time And Chronic Disease is an outstanding debut and declaration of an emerging force in Dissension which you sense could be inspiring many future bands as the likes of Children of Bodom, Dimmu Borgir, Darkthrone, Sepultura, Kalmah, Nile, and Amon Amarth inspired them.

https://www.facebook.com/DissensionMTL

9/10

RingMaster 11/09//2013

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Secrets Of Sin – Future Memories

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Making their world introduction with debut album Future Memories, German band Secrets Of Sin certainly gives food for thought with their imaginative and adventurous sound. The nine track release is not without flaws and is openly declares that there is plenty within the band to come out and improve upon, but quite simply the album is one rather appetising encounter that is full of promise and lies in the hands of the band ready to be built upon.

The band’s demo EP Fairytales of 2009 caught the imagination of their home underground press and fans, their merger of symphonic and melodic metal making a strong exciting persuasion but with Future Memories it is fair to say that Secrets Of Sin has leapt forward in their sound and invention. As mentioned the album declares the band as nowhere near being the finished article, if there is ever such a thing in music, but the quintet certainly has the ammunition and skill to become a strong and lingering presence in world metal.

Consisting of guitarist/vocalist Robert Mansk, guitarist Niklas Rach, drummer Michael Schier, keyboardist Philipp Eiperle, and newest Secrets Of Sin - Future Memories - Artworkmember vocalist Christina Groner, Secrets Of Sin take little time upon Future Memories in sparking good thoughts with opener Deus Ex Machina. The track is a brief industrialised dawning provoking rich ideas before merging into the initial electro stomp of Utopia. From here synths make a swirling beckon before the orchestral heights of the keys veined by thumping rhythms immerse the ear in epically toned persuasion. Into its galloping stride the song makes for a strong if unsurprising adventure though expectations are soon displaced by excitement as the wonderful voice and delivery of Groner lays their touch on the senses. She has a sirenesque quality which mesmerises even within the more demanding and caustic squalls of Mansk and the heavy boned sounds building up crescendos of melodic flame and intensity. Reverting to again more familiar essences for the latter symphonic pressing, the almost Nightwish meets The Browning like track is a potent and gripping start to the album with imagination and thoughts finding a steady and pleasing place within the less than unique but enterprising encounter.

Both Alive and Once Upon A Time continue the impressive start if certainly with the first not reaching the same heights set by its predecessor. With Mansk taking the vocal lead the song is a less dramatic and exploratory song but again a more than solid track with the guitars and keys painting a sonically sculpted melodic weave to satisfy the ear before passing over to its successor and its emotive and classically weaned beauty. An elegant ballad with Groner bringing further irresistible temptation to the guitar and string hued evocation, the song from a regular start brings in sun clad melodic flames and a sultry ambience which as it expands its horizons offers greater temptation to mark a step up for the release, a rise soon cemented by the blistering assault of Inside. A spiral of guitar sets things in motion before keys and rhythms stretch its touch and the metal reaped vocals of Mansk herald a heavier suasion. Another step up comes with Groner adding her presence to the continually hungry song, and it has to be said that with all respect to the rest of the band it is no coincidence that songs and the album find even greater potency and originality when the lady opens her lungs.

The two following songs Hope Dies Last and The Joker are arguably the least fluid and for many one suspects  will be the least successful in persuading their ardour but for invention and bringing something new in imagination to symphonic metal, they emerge as our favourite and the most exciting songs on the album. The first opens with a straightforward heavy/epic metal like lure before Groner and a great throaty bass sound start picking and teasing at the ear with mischief and adventure. It is an inspired moment leading to another successful union of the two vocalists alongside a wash of melodic heat which rises in temperature with skill and hunger. At times thoughts of Hammers of Misfortune rear their suggestion whilst at other twists and especially in its successor there is a definite Kontrust devilry at play. The second of the pair beckons with a brass lure before diving into another electro waltz blended into a techno metal like suasion. Soon the metallic intent takes over with Mansk opening the vocal narrative but things never settle into predictability as sound, vocals, and band leap persistently and scintillatingly from note to note and idea to idea. It completes easily the best part of the album for personal tastes and the area where you hope the band push and experiment more with in the future.

The extremely potent and stirring power ballad Shadows, the song a merger of tender light and heavier menacing dark with Groner and the keys in conflict and union with the intensive guitar and muscular rhythm storm, and the twelve minute epic presence of Civilisation stretch thoughts and the now truly lit passion for the release further. The second of the two does meander along with undulating success to be honest, losing some of the undoubted grip it forged early on though it is mainly down to its length you suspect, but musically and with the keys especially vibrant bringing a contagious embrace amongst a delicious wash of discord taunting throughout it is another great track.

Completed by firstly Puppet Play where the band and Groner flirt with alternative rock and the very decent closing ballad What I Am, Secrets Of Sin leaves a very healthy appetite and anticipation for their future offerings. With room for improvement but full of very enjoyable and enterprising imagination Future Memories is a great introduction to fresh adventure.

http://www.secretsofsin.de/

8/10

RingMaster 30/08/2013

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In Silentio Noctis – Disenchant The Hypocrites

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It has been three years since Finnish symphonic black metallers In Silentio Noctis impressed and drew acclaim from a great many with debut album Through Fragments of Christianity. It was a release with a distinct voice and striking presence bursting with equally vibrant promise, something which has been realised on the return of the band with their new EP. It has been three years since the previous record and now the Vantaa band equipped with a new line-up which features members of Rapture, Rain Paint, Carnal Demise and Spirit Disease, returns with a trio of tracks under the name Disenchant The Hypocrites which scream quality and imagination capturing grandeur.

Founded in 2006 by vocalist Armi Päivinen and guitarist Elias Vihma, In Silentio Noctis released the Symphonies of Death demo the following year to be followed in 2010 by the previously mentioned  Through Fragments of Christianity, the point the band began reaching an awareness outside of their locality. The band seemed to disappear after that release as another shift in personnel wrapped its disruption around the unit but now with guitarists Tuomas Leskinen and Samuli Reinikainen, bassist Aleksi Ahokas, and drummer Veikko Ringvall alongside Päivinen, their unique sonic stimulation is back to embrace the world through the potent source of the My Kingdom Music released Disenchant The Hypocrites.

Themed by a concept dealing with the hypocrisy of both God and his servants, the EP opens with the beckoning charms of Chapter I: TheIn Silentio Noctis cover Pit, an initial bridge of dramatic high walled temptation leading the senses into an expanse of formidable epic toned melodic scenery. Sonic fires burn fiercely within a rhythmic barrage, both providing a cage for thoughts and emotions to envisage and explore the melodic narrative vibrantly explaining its premise. Into an urgent stride, a folk bred burst of enticement breaking out thanks to and blessed by the guest craft of violinist Ville Koponen, the song feels the warmth and operatic might of Päivinen fill its air and heart, her tones and style evocative and at times sirenesque, which shows her immense presence as we admittedly do not always find an operatic spawned style of delivery an easy fit for personal metal tastes. The track continues to stretch and exploit the imagination with a blaze of inventive and richly hued enterprise from songwriting and its realisation.

The strong start switches up a gear with Chapter II: Of Deception, the dramatic heights and inquisitive quest being conjured continuing to engage and enthral as rigidly as the sounds colouring its passage through ear and thoughts. Each track has its own story to tell sonically and emotionally, this song combining melancholic strings with rapacious riffing and rhythmic subjugation to send the senses into a maelstrom of inventive provocation and symphonic mastery. As with the whole EP, the track needs numerous encounters to delve into and experience all of its rewards and corners but gives more to digest and enjoy with each meeting.

At this point the ride offered is at its most scintillating and firmly cemented by last track Chapter III: Haunted. With the keys of the other guest on the release Johannes Salo honing the atmosphere into a smouldering weave of calm yet forceful suggestion whilst the guitars vein and sear its tender wrap, the track is a spectacular flight through a tempestuous but stunning landscape of climatic beauty and a ravenous exposition of passion and incite.

Disenchant The Hypocrites is an outstanding release with the only minor issue one would suggest being the mix between music and the soaring harmonics of Päivinen, where at times she is almost swamped by the sounds, though as the promo was a digital file which does not help present the true clarity of things at times, it is not a major problem. The return of In Silentio Noctis will deservedly be devoured eagerly by fans whilst Disenchant The Hypocrites will recruit a great many more into their refreshing aural arms, all developing a greed as they wait for a new album.

www.insilentionoctis.com

8/10

RingMaster 09/08/2013

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Delain – Interlude

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Released via Napalm Records, Interlude the new album from Dutch symphonic metallers Delain is a vibrant mix of new songs, covers, special versions of popular band songs and live tracks. It is a release which we will admit raised some doubts before it had the chance to unleash its persuasion upon the ear but soon cast those uncertainties aside emerging as an impressive album which will please their most loyal fans and all newcomers.

The first release on their new label, Interlude is as it suggests, a creative aside or as they say on the promo sheet a thank you to 483_DELAINtheir supporters in the wait for a new full release but it is more than a mere stop-gap with the energetic and potent breath infusing old and new tunes The first two tracks on the album are new songs and immediately dispel also thoughts that maybe this is the end of a chapter for the band before a new direction and stance. They are prime Delain continuing their established and welcomed sound but equally do offer a fresh and pleasing voice to their creativity to date. Opener Breathe On Me is an instant warm whisper upon the ear before the grumbling bass adds its presence and the guitars shape the air with their coarse scrubs within the symphonic winds gently swaying across the senses. The voice of Charlotte Wessels is as exceptional as ever, her angelic tones the perfect balance to the fiery intensity and melodic weaves. It is an impressive and inviting start, its anthemic warmth and magnetic melodic temptation as irresistible as the sinewy frame and burning fires surrounding their grandeur, whilst not for the first time the bass of Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije leaves a greedy want within the passions.

The following Collars And Suits stands tall with an epic entrance of soaring scything syncs as well as tight manipulative guitar enticement from Timo Somers speared by the thumping commanding rhythms of Sander Zoer. Whilst not quite as contagious and tempting as its predecessor the track engages the passions skilfully and relentlessly, the harsher elements recruiting the passions for the melodic grace and vocal brilliance to toy with. The symphonic swerves of triumphant sounds grin as if in escape from a shadowed cage with the darker tones and corrosive lining beneath the protection for the glowing horizon they create. It is musically poetic and emotive, its presence inspiring numerous thoughts to go with the lyrical narrative.

Next up Are You Done With Me comes in a single mix version compared to its appearance on their recent album and is a strong and powerful companion to the previous songs but does not quite find their heights or rich lures. As one expects from Delain it is immensely emotive and gloriously melodic with a superbly honed intent. It makes way for a trio of cover songs starting with Such a Shame the Talk Talk track. To be honest its initial touch did not inspire great hopes but once the band stepped from the expressive yet gentle opening into an elevated  passion and energy the song took off with enthused satisfaction  in tow something the semi-acoustic version of The Cranberries song Cordell could not ignite. It is a more than decent song though which showcases the wonderful vice of Wessels in its varied glories and makes for easily pleasing company before the excellent take on Bronski Beat’s Smalltown Boy. Not a song to raise more than an eyebrow in its original guise, Delain treat it to their masterful caresses and formidable creative might, infusing it with more life and temptation than it probably deserves. They do not really change its face or body but with the keys of Martijn Westerholt as impressive as any element the band lights the heart it arguably lacks in the original.

A ballad version of We are the Others is another which is enjoyable in its company but does not light anything more than temporary pleasure though again it is hard to dismiss its craft and beauty. It is soon and easily forgotten once the live tracks come into view. It is the best part of the album with the stage offerings of Mother Machine, Get The Devil Out Of Me, and Not Enough especially standing out though all six of the songs show Delain as a mighty live proposition to rival or arguably exceed their studio work.

Also available in a limited edition digipack with a second DVD disc of videos, Interlude is a great proposition for all Delain fans new and old. There were doubts approaching it but all were dispelled with ease by release and band, an album to appease the appetite during the wait for their next full length outing.

http://www.delain.nl/

8/10

RingMaster 03/05/2013

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Serenity – War of Ages

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    Austrian Symphonic Metal band Serenity go from strength to strength and with the release of their new album War of Ages have sculpted a journey of epic emotions and subtle expanses which combine for a captivating and thrilling encounter. The fourth album from the band follows the acclaimed Death & Legacy with an equal melodic might and imagination plus an invention which stirs up the senses and appetite with impressive creativity. The release draws on and explores the lives of historical figures such as Henry VIII of England, Napoleon, and Alexander the Great, casting their personalities within a riveting wind of symphonic metal veined with the pulsating and hungry fire borne of other varied metal styles, the result an exciting journey which offers plenty for all melodic metal fans.

The album features the wonderful vocal caresses of Clémentine Delauney (ex- Whyzdom); a now permanent member of the band alongside the impressive tones of Georg Neuhaser, and no apologies will be made for saying her contribution is the best thing on what is a continually enthralling and pleasing release. Also impressive about the release is the restraint placed upon the still epically sounding breath of the songs, allowing the individual imaginative use of rich vibrant flavours melodically and muscular to find a potent presence with which to strength the invention and satisfaction.

The Napalm Records released album opens with Wings Of Madness, a track that instantly seduces attention with the kiss of vocal478_SERENITY elegance of Delauney alongside wonderful guitar coaxing. As the warmth of the vocal brilliance rises, the song opens up muscular arms to explore the air with striking rhythmic sinews employed by drummer Andreas Schipflinger and bassist Fabio D’Amore plus the driving riffs from Thomas Buchberger. It is a rousing charge with keys which wrap and enhance the stomping force with a melodic wash of beauty and emotive incitement. Into its creative stride the track does not exactly offer in many ways anything remarkably new but has an invention which interprets existing essences in to something fresh and inspiring.

The heightened melodic cascades to open up the following title track ensure the senses are fully awake and glowing from the invigorating entrance of the song. It initially crawls over the ear with a teasing mischief from vocals and guitar before blooming into a flowing sea of sonic whispers and melodic mastery, again cored by a metallic spine which challenges as potently as the keys and vocals eagerly seduce. It is a song which captures limbs and emotions bringing them in league with its romping energy and gait, one which also takes a tighter grip on the passions with each welcome of its open charms.

A major highlight of the album comes with Shining Oasis, a song which soaks its compelling narrative with full Eastern promise and sultry radiance. It is a delicious weave of magnetic intensity and sonic sunlight coated in melodies which evoke imagery and emotive responses, a song which shimmers in the heat of its imaginative flames of enterprise and beauty. Its successor For Freedom’s Sake suffers a little from its immense presence, the power ballad though finely crafted lacking the fire and dramatic intensity, though it is not exactly devoid of it neither. It is a strong song though and only pales because of the rest of the quality rampant across the album.

Tracks like The Matricide and Symphony For The Quiet continue the irresistible persuasion with contagious ease, the lyrical weaves as impressive as the songwriting and its engaging realisation. The first of the two is an excellent woven attack of djent whispering aggression and giant melodic splendour which feasts on and feeds the senses as well as the heart whilst the other is a riot of classical effulgence and driven hunger which equally leaves a full satisfaction in its wake. The greatest triumph of the album though is found in the mighty joy of Legacy Of Tudors, its opening period vocal inducement the invitation into a storming aural exploit of adventure and passion. There is a familiarity to the song especially in its urgent chorus which intrigues whilst ensuring the enjoyment runs deeper, and by its end the track is a lingering best friend for the passions, and the ultimate high point of the album.

War of Ages is a symphonic album which offers much more than other like genre releases, the craft and imagination of Serenity enabling a pleasure which works on many levels. A must investigate release of all melodic metal fans.

http://www.serenity-band.com/

8/10

RingMaster 04/04/2013

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Excalibur: Dusha

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     Emerging from the Russian underground scene, symphonic metal band Excalibur and their excellent new album Dusha make the most agreeable and powerful persuasion as to why they deserve a much wider and heavier recognition. The release is an inventive, dramatic, and beautiful sounding album which without opening up new avenues for the genre captures the imagination with craft, grace, and melodic temptation.

From the city of Oryol, Excalibur incorporates the rich essences of bands like Nightwish, Epica, and Within Temptation within their own warm enveloping voice. Formed in 2009, the quintet of vocalist Valerya Nikiforova, guitarist Vitaly Okoneshnikov, bassist Svyatoslav Bykovsky, drummer Andrey Nazarov, and Ksenya Aranchey on keys, has made a strong mark within the metal underground of their homeland through the In the Fate Hand’s EP and their debut self-titled album, both in 2011. Now with the release of Dusha, translated as Soul, the band is looking to push the envelope of awareness around them further afield, something the accomplished sounds and open grandeur of the release should find as no obstacle.

With each song sung in their native song it is hard to fully absorb the full strength and depth of songs, the lyrical inspiration we are6FHedJ4CvEk led to believe coming from inner feelings and experiences for a personal passion, but the emotive strength and descriptive quality of the music goes a long way in inspiring imagery and thoughts in the listener, their relation to the songs unimportant but wholly connected to the melodic warmth and stirring passion created by the band. The opening track Kadans Vremeni is a prime example, the portentous brewing whispers of the instrumental a haunting and striking sense of foreboding and suggested bedlam to leave emotions startled, unsure, and enthralled. There is a deep sinister breath to its presence which intimidates yet seduces as it makes way for the following Zhazhda Zhit’, a song with a core of sinewy riffs and testing rhythms wrapped in a heated and bewitching melodic expanse driven by the outstanding voice of Nikiforova, her tones as mesmeric and golden as the sounds surrounding her. With the keys adding their own distinct enchantment the song is a vibrant and captivating pleasure matched impressively across the whole release.

The likes of sonic temptress Doch ‘Vampira and the magnetic title track lead the senses and thoughts to the same dawning rapture instigated by the previous tracks whilst Zakroy Glaza and the excellent EVOE give and reap even greater rewards. The first of the pair has a fiery surface and intent to its almost operatic stance with the vocals for once adding a darker shade to the melodic flames whilst the second is a powerful instrumental which ignites a furnace of satisfaction. From an opening emotive piano touch the piece erupts into a reign of dramatic aural narrative sculpted by a hungry intensity, highly charged riffs, and colourful keys. The song is a canvas for weaves of imagery and emotions and with each immersion into its stunning richness inspires a new journey of thought each and every time.

Further highlights emerge in song such as the commanding Simfoniya Zabveniya and the slightly bruising muscular Labirint as well as a final triumph Kto Logo with a delicious snarling bass chewing at the senses to bring a darker edge to the sonic fire. There is no real weakness on the album though, each track a rewarding and thrilling companion to which returning is as easy as walking.

Whether Excalibur will have to embrace the English language to fulfil their already flourishing potential time will tell but with Dusha you sense the band will at some point find a much larger enthusiastic awareness.

8/10

RingMaster 06/03/2013

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