NIELS VEJLYT – STHENIC

Out now on Lion Music

Debut instrumental solo album from Danish guitarist and mastermind of Infinity Overture one Niels Vejlyt.  As is nearly always the norm for this sort of thing from Lion Music we get highly competent playing over listenable songs.

With a heavier edge than many of ilk, no doubt aided by Vejlyt’s penchant for 7 and 8 string guitars, this is a nice offering for anyone into similar works from the likes of Jeff Loomis or John Petrucci.  Tracks like “Die Today”, “Rain” and particularly “Samurai” are solid compositions with good melodies and a good sense of direction – no aimless fretboard wanking here.

In addition there are moments of lighter note such as the anthemic Vai-esque timbres of “Head’s Up” (the clue to the Vai influence being in the title perhaps?) and the piano/guitar balladry of “Kajsa” whilst closing number, the 9 minute “Winter” sums up the various moods of the album in one composition rather nicely.

With a better production than many heard of late and a nice mix from Tommy Hansen (Helloween) this is a very solid package indeed and a nice addition to any fan of guitar instrumentals collection – cool artwork too by Matthias Noren.

Rating – 84%

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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%

 

INFINITY OVERTURE – WELCOME TO INFINITY PT.1 (REVIEW)

Released January 21st 2011 on Lion Music

It’s often considered dangerous when a band sees fit to change musical styles.  That said, in the case of Danish metallers Infinity Overture that change is actually one that works. 

The band formerly delivered a debut in a symphonic metal vein on “Welcome To Infinity” (with Ian Parry on vocals) and a fine offering it was too, yet underneath there were progressive elements and some gothic overtones.    Band leader / guitarist Niels Vejlyt has seen fit to ring the changes bringing out these  “darker” elements further and also changing band personnel to better suit the new stripped back style.  So out is Ian Parry and in is newcomer female vocalist Kimmie Tenna Nielsen who is a superb find possessing a voice that is angelic yet powerful at the same time.  I am not normally one for female vocalists in metal but Niels has found a diamond here.

Musically the band deliver dark metal with lots of 7 string guitar and virtuosic solos but overall strong songs which are extremely well crafted.  Sonically the album is clean, clear and vibrant (mix by Sascha Paeth).  A couple of guest appearances from Fabio Lione (Rhapsody Of Fire) and Amanda Somerville add some further textures yet the band of Vejlyt, Nielsen, bassist Bernardo Fesch and drummer Jakob Vand hold a tight ship. 

Highlight come in the guise of opener “The Hunger”, “Secrets”, “Smoke & Mirrors” and the title track.  But my favourite track comes in the form of the melodic waters of “Angels” where Nielsen is quite superb and this is equalled by the soulful guitar solo from Vejlyt.  This track is worth the price of admission alone.

Overall “Welcome To Infinity pt.1” could be seen as a fresh start for the band in its own right and to these ears a direction much more to my liking.  The song writing is inspired, the performances top notch and its well packaged too.  Check it out.

Rating – 90%