VARIOUS ARTISTS – EMBRACE THE SUN : THE LION MUSIC JAPAN BENEFIT PROJECT

Out now on Lion Music

In what has seems to be somewhat of a trend amongst record labels since the terrible earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011 here we have the first benefit album to be announced in the metal community from Lion Music.

Whilst it may not have been the first to be released when you delve into its 2CD contents you realise that perhaps more care and true feeling has gone into this release than many of its ilk.  For starters the vast majority of the material here was written specifically for this release which sees all label, publishing and artist royalties being donated to the Japan Red Cross.  This key difference to many other benefit albums (which you felt just culled together any old unreleased tracks from artists to get it out as quickly as possible), “Embrace The Sun” lends a higher quality of material, not to mention a more personalised and sincere sound to the music on offer.

With 28 of some of Lion best known names contributing there is a plenty to enjoy here across a wide spectrum of artists on the labels roster with tracks coming from Mattsson, Iron Mask, Anthriel, Dreyelands, Mastercastle, Overdrive and Section A amongst others.

Guitar fans are well catered for with tracks from Milan Polak, Jennifer Batten and Marco Sfogli not to mention the closing guitar jam track which sees contributions from notables such as  Francesco Fareri (Virtual Mind), Daniel Palmqvist (ex The Murder Of My Sweet), Simone Fiorletta (No Gravity), Dave Martone and Borislav Mitic.

Highlights are often and plentiful making this 28 track collection a real joy to listen to.  Personal favourites include  Milan Polak’s excellent “End Of Time” sees guest appearances from Kip Winger, Ron Thal, Pete Lesperance, and Harry Hess, whilst Dreyelands continue the excellent work heard on last years debut with new track “Life Is Worth The Pain”.  Mastercastle throw a trademark metal slant on the album with “Sakura” which has a great vocal performance from Giorgia Gueglio.   MindSplit serve up a tender ballad in “Guardian Angel” and this really strikes a chord of how the devastation seen in Japan has hit people worldwide.  Emir Hot contributes the epic “Fear Of The Storm” with orchestra and backing choirs adding depth to the track whilst Iron Mask see a successful outing with vocalist Carsten Schulz at the mic for “Sons of the Sun”.

The album also showcases some home-grown Japanese talent in new label signing, progressive rockers Early Cross whose melodic prog rock is a classy number, whilst the direct influence of the aftermath in Japan can be heard on Jennifer Batten’s track “Sakura Season” was written after her visit to the country in April 2011.  Despite highlighting these tracks there are moments of enjoyment in all tracks and congratulations go out to all involved.

Overall “Embrace The Sun” not only manages to hopefully make some good money to aid with the recovery in Japan but also serves as a strong compilation album full of great tracks, musicianship and comes highly recommended.

Do your bit and pick up the album now at http://www.lionmusic.com/cd/embracethesun.htm

Rating – 90%

 

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DREYELANDS – ROOMS OF REVELATION (ARCHIVE REVIEW)

Out Now  – Lion Music

Hungary might not be the first destination to spring to mind if you were to take a world cruise of progressive metal hotbeds, but with their debut ‘Rooms Of Revelation’, Dreyelands will instantly make you add the country on your must check out list and also give the genre’s big boys something serious to be worried about.

Freshly signed to Lion Music the band may just have found their ideal home as the band sound ideal for what the label promote – high quality melodic progressive metal.  Couple that with a stunning album cover and overall presentation from the band and this suggests a band that is concerned about all aspects of their presentation.

‘Rooms Of Revelation’ is home to 9 tracks (1 short intro and 8 “rooms”) the album is a concept piece which depicts a journey in a schizophrenic mind.  The rooms signify points in the mind of the main character as we learn about his past as does he.  However, it’s nothing to get bogged down with as the songs stand individually as well as any non concept album.

Musically the songs are powered by heavy guitar riffs and great lead work from András Ádám Horváth (a guitarist of considerable skill) fused with ultra melodic, memorable vocal themes from Nikola Mijic who possesses a superb strong clear voice with no accent to speak of.  To these ears he is like a more gritty Göran Edman and takes the band away from all the Russell Allen / James Labrie clones that litter the genre. Special mention also needs to go out to bassist Gergely Springer and drummer Omar Gassama who are a quite formidable rhythm section.  Keyboards on the album are handled by Zoltán Kas who has since left the band being replaced in a hired capacity by György Nagy (Age of Nemesis).

Sonically ‘Rooms Of Revelation’ is big, modern and natural with the band boasting of no triggers on the drums and live string arrangements  for which extra kudos must be given. 

Each of the main body of songs are highlights in their own right, whether it be the dark ‘Seek For Salvation’, the groove inflected ‘Can’t Hide Away’ (check promo video on side of review), the commercial and impossible catchy ‘Pretending’ with its glorious chorus and melodic hooks, and the firey riffery of ‘Fragments’ which again has enough hooks on to hang the coats section of H&M all make the first half of the album fly by  despite all clocking in over the 5 minute mark- always a good sign of quality

Things get darker hereon in with ‘Way To You’ being quite complex musically yet accessible vocally, the gentle piano led ballad ‘Blossoms Of Decay’ is a nice breather before the numerous facets of ‘Vain’ takes hold (some great riffs are contained within) and the glorious final track ‘Closing Grace’ which again which is sure to find favour with fans of Dream Theater, Seventh Wonder and the like plus I detect a little of the darkness of label mates Tomorrow’s Eve on the chorus.  A fine closer.

With ‘Rooms Of Revelation’ Dreyelands may well have delivered the prog metal album of 2010 and a serious contender for album of the year overall.  Given this is a debut offering suggests the band have a great future ahead and I sincerely hope all prog metal fans take a chance on this unknown band as they will be richly rewarded on all levels – simply awesome.
 
Hot Spots : Everything.
Rating : 98%

www.dreyelands.com