Max Pie – Eight Pieces -One World

251150 - Max Pie - Promo Photo

The first thing to say is do not let the quite uninspiring band name of Belgian metallers Max Pie put you off from investigating what is in the form of  their new album a rather thrilling and dramatic adventure and sound. Eight Pieces -One World is a captivating heavy metal release, an album bulging at the seams with muscular and almost carnivorous tracks soaked in fiery melodic invention and potently expressive passion. To be honest it came as a complete surprise but as the saying goes ‘do not judge a book by its cover’, or in this case the name, as you will miss out on one of the treats of the year.

Formed in 2005, Max Pie started off with a classic hard rock/ metal which was said to frequent the same well as of Deep Purple, and Whitesnake. Obviously over the years something riled up their hunger, invention, and attitude as proven by the new album, its tracks attacking and chewing on the senses with a destructive rabidity whilst infusing irresistible and captivating melodic metal bred flames. It is a scintillating mix which catches you by surprise and then force feeds some of the most contagious and riotously inspiring songs heard this year through to the heart.

Following their acclaimed debut Initial Process of last year, the Mausoleum Records released Eight Pieces – One World takesTITRE.EPS no time in tearing up the senses, the line-up of vocalist Tony Carlino, guitarist/keyboardist Damien Di Fresco, bassist Olivier Lemiere, and drummer Sylvain Godenne, initially laying a sonic wash on the ear as Cage Of Sins stakes its claim on the listener before with no thought of mercy unleashing a rhythmic and riff sculpted intensity. Immediately there is compelling temptation at work especially as once into its rapacious stride the music is joined by the excellent vocals of Carlino, his tones equally coarse and clean echoing the sound. References to Kamelot and Symphony X seem to come with the band and going by song and release you can easily add the likes of Fates Warning and Periphery, such the numerous textures and spices conjured.

The stunning start is soon matched firstly by I’m Sealed and then Earth’s Rules which is one of two songs featuring guest Simone Mularoni  of DGM and Empyrios on guitar. The first of the pair teases djent rhythmic manipulation, riffs churning up nerves and thoughts so that warm inviting vocals and melodic enterprise can dance over the victims with soothing invention. Across the constant snarl of bass and drums assisted by equally predatory riffs, the guitars weave a sonic narrative which twists and sculpts its distinct tale upon aggressive canvas. Its successor with keys seducing with elegance and almost emotive mischief starts off with another predatory inducement before opening up progressive/classic metal arms to reveal a lake of evocative warmth and fire sourced melodic fascination. Though neither quite rivals the opener, they leave an enflamed greed for their and the following unpredictable and now assumed glories, which without exception the rest of the album delivers.

From the excellent evocative sonically coloured power ballad I’m In Love, tracks like the carnivore Vendetta rampage and seize full control of the passions, its rabid grip of primal rhythms and treacherous riffs irresistible whilst being ridden by the paint box of absorbing synth hues and the again impressively delivered and varied vocals. It is not all about aggressive intensity at any point though as the magnificent The Side Of A Dime shows with its Middle Eastern seductive promise courting emotions and heart from within the tumultuous web of rhythms and riffing voracity. The best track on Eight Pieces -One World, the encounter is a blistering expanse of inventive and urgent cajoling which rewards submission with beautifully crafted melodic heat and passion driven splendour.

As both the engaging Addictions and the equally engrossing Don’t Tell Me Lies with its gothic breath and sinister wink of the sonic eye bear evidence of, the skill and imagination of each member and their individual aspect within songs impress on the passions with clarity whilst combining to offer further irrepressible bait emphasising that though classed as heavy metal, band and album have a presence which crosses the desires and appetite of multiple genres within metal. Eight Pieces -One World is an excellent treat; as said an unexpected and surprising one but a creative coup which will be drawing out a zealous ardour for a long time to come. Slip yourselves pass the name and discover one of the gems of the year so far.


RingMaster 28/06/2013

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Burn of Black – Danger EP


Italian metallers Burn of Black have a sound which you almost feel should not work but as their new EP Danger shows it does and with very enjoyable effect. Combining what is primarily a blend of alternative and gothic metal as well as thrash, heavy, and power metal, the release consists of songs which twist and thrive with multiple flavours. At times there is so much thrown in that it borders the outskirts of messy but the Cavarzere quintet fused it together with passion and skill to produce a release which is richly contagious.

Formed by guitarist Marco “Markwild” Piva, Burn of Black instantly brought the influences of various musical backgrounds and experiences of its members into play with the band adding and evolving additional flavours and sounds as line-ups changes occurred over subsequent years. Inspirations from the likes of Exodus, Testament, Nightwish, and Kamelot, to gothic and melodic death spiced the early sound and with further diversity riling up and expanding the music with each change of personnel, the result is a riot of multi-coloured enterprise which despite almost overloading its invention into a disorientating maelstrom, ignites potent hunger and a full enjoyment for its adventure.

With a line-up of vocalist Giacomo Cordioli, guitarist Alessandro Bassani, bassist Sylvia Fabbris, and drummer Alberto Lèmoni BURN-OF-BLACK_COVERalongside Piva sculpting its assault, the Inverse Records/Sweet Poison released Danger makes the strongest initial persuasion with Thrown Into The Chasm. The track is a mesmerising instrumental formed from dawning ambience, delicious acoustic lilted guitar embracing, and rising intensity of epic melodic breath. It is a dawn to the release which lures one in fully though the following Fears Driven To Insanity immediately avoids the expectations the previous piece sparks. The track unleashes short sharp scythes of sinew strapped riffs and equally imposing beats whilst the guitars bring their own abrasion to bear on an already eager ear. Into its stride with the bass and riffing as carnivorous as you could wish for, a trait of the whole release, the song whips up a furious energy mixed with great melodic vocals from Cordoli, his delivery set in classic airs and contrasting perfectly the aggressively carved presence in place. Twisting and shifting its stance with elements of nu, progressive, and post hardcore added to the blaze, and impressive sonic skill endeavour from Piva, the track is an enthralling and thrilling fire to bring the EP into full view.

The following Charon’s Rebellion gnaws on the bones and senses of the listener within seconds, the corrosive riffs coated in brutality and predatory intensity. Whilst they chew and subjugate the ear, the vocals calm the wounds with again great melodic persuasion whilst the emerging groove is as infectious as the harshness around it is intrusive. Once again the band merges diverse elements into a seamless understanding union which only intrigues and flips the switch of passion. To be honest going against what was said earlier slightly, the more a track and the release is ventured and embraced, clarity of thought and intent emerges and dispels the feel of closely missed chaos.

The title track lacks the dramatic power and presence of its predecessors, a classic metal flame making the biggest call within the still rapacious riffing and rhythmic bombardment. The song is impressively presented and constructed but fails to find the hook and grip of the others tracks, and arguably it’s less intense mesh of flavours is the cause of its weaker presence. There is no such comment applied to closer Slave In Chains. A mere breath between songs is all it takes for the release to raise another major snarl and vicious surge of riveting and caustic riffing accompanied by a groove which dances on the passions with wanton mischief flanked by a warm melodic breeze. Drummer Lèmoni has his most impressive moment whilst the bass of Fabbris prowls and threatens with bestial depth. It is an excellent track which like the song just before, does not infuse a vast amount of flavouring but this time hones it into a brawling exhilarating storm.

The Danger EP is a release which might split opinions though it is hard to imagine anyone not finding enough to offer up a positive outlook upon it, but for us it is a release which is adventurous and invigorating. In many ways there is nothing new going on but equally there are few bands creating a sound from so many varied and rich existing essences as enjoyably as Burn In Black do. The Danger EP just might be the start of something big.


RingMaster 17/05/2013

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Thy Majestie: ShiHuangDi

ShiHuangDi the new album from Italian veteran power metallers Thy Majestie, is one you have to feel let alone hear to appreciate its expansive presence and depths, so that means bringing it close to the senses and at full volume. To be honest that applies to all metal and rock music but with ShiHuangDi it really does open up the grandeur of the creativity and release. It is still an album which depending on your preference to the genre will satisfy in varying degrees but the quality and craft involved is unmistakable and impressive.

The fifth album from Thy Majestie is a concept album based on the life of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of a unified China in 221 BC. It is a towering presence of epic atmospheres and enveloping ambiences brought with a symphonic breath to the trademark giant power metal sound of the band. Following on from 2009 album Dawn, the eleven tracks continue in the style of previous acclaimed releases The Lasting Power (2000) and Hastings 1066 (2002). Since being formed in 1998 by Guiseppe Bondi (keyboards) and Claudio Diprima (drums) the band has lit up the genre with attention catching and impressively created releases and though ShiHuangDi may not arguably improve upon earlier albums it is easily on a par and delivers all the things which make the Palermo quintet so compulsive to so many. No one can deny the quality of the songwriting, music, and musicianship of the band with the current line-up of Diprima, guitarist Simone Campione, bassist Dario D’alessandro, Giuseppe Carrubba on keys, and newest member vocalist Alessio Taormina, continuing their renowned and now expected strength.

Released through Scarlet Records, ShiHuangDi opens with the stunning atmospheric instrumental Zhoongguo, a piece of music which wraps slowly around the senses and thoughts, its brewing soundscape a dramatic and enveloping emergence of vast emotions and ever expanding depths. If someone is still not ready to be taken on the epic journey of wonderfully realised old worlds after this track then nothing could draw them in, such its irresistible power and inciteful aural imagery.

The following Seven Reigns takes over to immediate addictive effect, its artillery driven riffs and warm weaves of keys the awakening to further attentive appetites. With orchestral surges to ignite the senses further as well as sky blistering vocals of the highest quality from Taormina and the combined operatic/symphonic harmonies alongside, the track rampages through the ear with precise power and giving thought. The guitar of Campione is masterful and that is underplaying his presence, whilst the rhythm of the song is a riotous ribcage to the song without ever over powering the invention within.

The mouth watering quality continues with more onslaughts of feisty beauty within Harbringer Of A New Dawn and the excellent Siblings of Tian. Both bruise with sheer muscle brought alongside care and welcoming heated arms of sonic mastery. The vocals soar higher across the skies of the songs with a blistering breath to match the burning solos with the keys bringing a melodic salve to the welcome smouldering left in their immense wake. The second of the pair also offers a wonderful jazz/folk whispering throughout its field of expressive sounds which only deepens the pleasure.

It has to be said on the surface some songs have a similar presence which only delving deeper puts in actual context, but if power metal is a genre which lights the passions it is not an issue as instantly one cuts deeper into a song anyway. Songs like Under The Same Sky with its triumphant rhythms and stunning opening female vocal flames, the emotive and stirring Farewell with again exceptional opening sky lighting female voices, and the magnetic Ephemeral with its charged riffing, all leave lasting satisfaction upon thoughts and emotions.

The first half of the album probably has the edge to be honest with its more unexpected elements and melodic ferocity, but overall with further songs like End Of The Days featuring Fabio Lione (Rhapsody of Fire, Vision Divine, Kamelot) to leave only breathless pleasure, ShiHuangDi is an album which will excite all power/classic metal fans. Thy Majestie have returned to again stand to the fore of epic melodic metal.

RingMaster 24/09/2012

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From The Depth – Back To Life

For someone who struggles to fully appreciate the attributes and assets of power metal it has to be said Back To Live form Italian band From The Depth is one fun and thoroughly engaging release. Only the recent album from Powerwolf has previously thrilled the senses and leapt with a firm welcome into the ears as does Back To Life, power metal as a whole as with classic rock pushed aside for much harder pummelling genres. It has to be admitted though that From The Depth are a band that even with its distinct genre flavoured and expected sounds has an extra flourish and almost majestic feel that lifts up even the naturally dark emotions.

From The Depth  formed in 2008 and with a few months and the release of their debut EP The Will To Be The Flame made a strong impression and mark in North Italy’s metal underground scene. This success led to  the band finding themselves in impressive and important venues around the country building up their fan base and strong positive impressions.  Rising Records signed the band in October 2010 soon followed by the worldwide distribution of their debut album. April this year saw the band start recording Back To Life with a brief interruption when chosen to take part in the “An Evening With Kamelot” event, sharing the stage with Kamelot, Sons Of Season and other special guests such as Simone Simmons and Fabio Lione. This month sees the release of  the album and the start of an emotional bond with undoubtedly a great many new power metal and melodic rock fans.

Immediately the album begins, the biggest positives on the album reveal themselves to ensure full attention and focus over the album’s full length. The first thing and the most impressive is the keyboards of  Davide “Fortress” Castro , the man is a maestro and without exception he enhances and lifts every track to heights they would not touch without his skilful and melodic imagination and ability. The opening instrumental  and title track even with a length briefly over a minute unveils his skill and mesmeric play. From the off and throughout the whole album he conjures up melodies and sweeping sounds that do nothing less than enrapture the senses.

The following eager rampant power metal anthemic ‘Live For Today’ brings forth the other great things that makes Back To Life an album that demands attention. Firstly there is the energetic and formidable drums of Cristiano Battini, instinctive and with an inner primitive hypnotic pull in the ear he leads songs supported by the deep resonating tones of bassist  Alessandro “Kara” Karabelas. Then there is the well written and presented melodic guitars of Alessandro Cattani, striking and never predictable they add extra biting texture against the keyboard sounds. Though Cattani does not often stray from classic and melodic rock familiarity he uses influences and flavours in an assured and varied way to give extra spice rather than repetition. Lastly there is the vocals of Raffaele “Raffo” Albanese, his clean and well balanced voice firmly in the hard/classic rock style but without indulging into the formula high pitched squeals and wails.

There is a slight inconsistency to the album but that is more down to personal taste with songs like the power ballads of ‘The Cruel Kindness’ and ‘Nenia’ plus the predictable and familiar rock sound of ‘You Just Have To Fly’ which plays quite flat in energy and vocally, not working as well as the other more impetuous and thrilling tracks. These moments are rare and soon forgotten by the catchy hooks and  melodic endeavours from the guitars and especially the keys plus the irrepressible rhythms as in the likes of ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’, ‘The Will to Be the Flame’, and ‘Nothing to You’ though everything is wiped away by the stunning instrumental ‘Lack of Emotion’, easily the best track on the album and one of the most emotively effective pieces of music found on any rock album this year.

From The Depth may not be the most flavoursome sound in theory to these ears but with Back To Life they have produced an album that enthuses and thrills even the hardest of rock hearts with magnetic power rock sounds.

RingMaster 28/11/2011 Registered & Protected


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