ARTLANTICA – ACROSS THE SEVEN SEAS

artlantica

Out now on SPV/Steamhammer

Artlantica are a new outfit from Artension members guitarist Roger Staffelbach and vocalist John West, along with keyboardist Mistheria, drummer John Macaluso and guests – Steve DiGiorgio [Bass], Dani Löble [Drums] and Chris Caffery [Guitars].   The observant amongst you will notice half the line-up is that from Staffelbach’s previous outfit Angel Of Eden who released the strong album  “The End Of Never” a few years ago.

Stylistically Artlantica straddle the same musical ground as Angel of Eden and Artension, on occasions to the point that some of the tracks do sound like blantant rewrites (Fight For The Light and Demon In My Mind particularly) , I’d also question why this wasn’t released under the Angel Of Eden moniker too.

Ultimately what we get on “Across The Seventh Seas” though is rather, dare I say it, “safe” melodic neo-classically tinted power metal.  Expect plenty of guitar chugging and appropriately timed synth hits from Maestro Mistheria and double bass hits. It all sounds meticulously constructed and therein lays the issue that it all comes across as too pre-planned and lacking in a spontaneous edge.

Granted, John West can still belt out a tune when he wants too and Staffelbach is as prestigious as ever on guitar but you do get the feeling the band are in their comfort zone a lot of the time with the material missing the energy and zeal of early Artension.

So overall a mixed bag of strong musical performances mixed with an average set of songs.  The production is powerful and all instruments are mixed well, but when its all said and done I really wanted to like this album, yet I feel somewhat disappointed by the end product.

Rating – 70%

WHITESNAKE – MADE IN JAPAN

whitesnake-made-in-japan

Out now on Frontiers

Another live offering from Whitesnake, and whilst there is no denying the strong recent studio output one does question the seemingly endless live releases of late (and with the prospect of more to come!).

So does “Made In Japan” offer up anything different than what’s come before? Aside from new cuts from the rather good ‘Forever More’ and dedicated solo spots one has to say no unless you count the acoustic versions and rehearsal tracks on disc 2.

Other than that this is rather dispensable, Coverdale’s vocals have certainly seen MUCH better days in the upper registers, and even the band downtuning cannot mask this fact.  The album also suffers from one clusterfuck of a bottom end mix, being overly distorted and bass heavy making this rather a piss-poor listen.  Did Elsie place mics in front the PA bass bins and record that one wonders?

Disc 2’s clearer sound only goes to highlight the poor sound on disc 1 and is by far more enjoyable.

As a long time Whitesnake fan I have to say I am rather disappointed. We’d suggest you look into Whitesnake axeman Doug Aldrich’s new Burning Rain album Epic Obsession instead.

Rating – 50%

OPPOSING MOTION – LAWS OF MOTION

lawsofmotion300

Out now on Lion Music

New to the Lion Music roster and a new name for us, Opposing Motion represent everything we’ve come to expect from Lion now .e.g progressive metal that’s well played and written.  “Laws Of Motion” ticks all the boxes and isn’t a million miles away in approach from label mates Seventh Wonder yet the band have enough of their own hallmarks to keep them sounding original.

Melody is high on the Opposing Motion list of traits with a strong leaning towards memorable melodic  vocal motifs from Ludovic Desa, yet these tend to remain at the more aggressive end of the spectrum.  The Deplanche brothers (David and Kevin) form a rock solid rhythm backdrop for guitarist Joe McGurk to lay down strong riffs and lead work over. This is definitely intelligent metal and you get the impression is all comes sickeningly easily for the band such is the confidence displayed in the material.

After several spins “Forever’s Edge” is the pick of the bunch song wise, yet the closing epic title track runs a close second.

Areas of improvement? The production is quite wet with a lot of reverb, something which does take away a little power and see some intricacies get lost in the mix but otherwise its all strong stuff and another good find by Lion Music.

Rating – 85%

BURNING RAIN – EPIC OBSESSION

burningrain

Out now on Frontiers

Burning Rain was always my favourite of Doug Aldrich‘s bands, with its high octane approach on both albums. After more than 10 years, Burning Rain is back with a brand new album.

Let me start off with the negative : it’s less intense than the first two. That doesn’t mean it’s a snoozefest like so many reunion albums turn out to be. It just lacks some of the mania of the older material.

And… that’s it as far as negatives are concerned. This is a great album with quite a big Zeppelin and Whitesnake influence. Doug’s killer guitar playing pervades every song and the band is tight as ever. The slightly more old school approach suits Keith St John’s voice very well.

No complaints about production either.

Highly recommended.

Rating – 90%
Review by Sancho, suffering from some pleasure burns.

ANVIL – HOPE IN HELL

anvil_hopeinhell

Released 27th May 2013 on SPV

“Anvil – The Movie” reinvigorated Anvil’s career both commercially and musically. Bigger budgets brought better production along with renewed inspiration.

New album “Hope In Hell” continues to benefit. The slow, pounding title track may be an odd choice for album opener, but things fall into place from second track “Eat Your Words” on, which hints at classics like “Motormouth”. From there on in, it’s typical Anvil fare : old school metal with plenty of manic drumming, manic guitars and Lips’ distinctive voice. “The Fight Is Never Won” sounds like another track off classic album “Forged In Fire”. Come to think of it, the entire album gives me the same chills I got when I heard FIF for the first time.

Production is up to snuff, crisp and open yet powerful.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Anvil, and their decline was painful for me to witness. It’s good to see them enjoying some much deserved popularity these days.

Their best album in many a year, no self respecting metalhead should be without.

Rating – 92%
Review by Sancho

UDO – STEELHAMMER

 

udo_steelhammer

Released 24th May 2013 on AFM Records

Writing an UDO review can be as easy as copy/pasting your last review, really.  Some albums have more of an Accept vibe, others are slightly more contemporary, but basically you know what to expect. Does their latest release break the pattern?

“Steelhammer” is a fairly safe release, with some keyboards thrown in for added flavour and some excellent guitar playing. Unfortunately, precious few of the songs manage to ignite the spark. After the strong opening salvo of the title track, things start going downhill. “Metal Machine” is as pedestrian as metal gets and they manage to follow it up with the even more groan-inducing “Basta Ya”… Fortunately there’s tracks like “Death Ride” to even things out a bit. The second half of the album is actually better than the first.

It doesn’t help that Udo’s voice is starting to show serious signs of wear (ballad “Heavy Rain” is painful), or that the guitars sound very synthetic.

Personally, I liked predecessor “Rev-Raptor” a lot better, as that one sounded far more inspired.

If you’re an UDO fan, chances are this album won’t disappoint. If you’re looking for an introduction to the band, you’d be better off checking some other releases first.

Rating – 78%
Review by Sancho