Liv Sin – Burning Sermons

I was – and still am – a big fan of Sister Sin so for me it was a huge disappointment when they decided to call it quits back in 2015. However, I always saw Sister Sin as singer Liv Sin’s band. Unfair to the others, probably, especially as they were the main song writers. But Liv was without a doubt the focal point and the one that always was on their album covers. Also, Liv (Jagrell) Sin is one of the most intense and amazing front(wo)men I have ever had the pleasure watching on a stage. As a big fan of hers, I looked forward to her first solo outing. Follow Me came out in 2017 but unfortunately, the album was something of a disappointment for me. Yes, Liv sang as awesomely aggressive as usual but there was flaws in the material.

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Hammerfall – Dominion

What’s left to say about Swedish metal-preservers Hammerfall that hasn’t already been said? My relationship with the band is that I have never been as a fan and I even thought they were a dorky band when they began. That said, they have always stood up for Heavy Metal and no matter how much crap they have been given from the Metal community, they have never given in or apologized for their music or looks. They do have my respect for that. I have never hated them and I have always thought that the harsh words that has been vomited their way from rockers were never justified for – totally unfair, actually. Because love them or hate them, do give them the credit for standing up for Metal at a time when no one else did.

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Destruction – Born to Perish

In my late teens/early twenties – we’re talking 1987 – 1990 something – I started reading foreign Hard Rock magazines – and with foreign I mean non-swedish. My musical tastes back then was Hard Rock, Melodic Rock, AOR and Metal, nothing harder than Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Accept and such. Thrash and Speed Metal wasn’t even on my map. I even thought Metallica were nothing but noise. The fact that I read those mags back to back no matter if I liked the band in question or not – I still do that btw – is the fact that I have at least some knowledge about all those Thrash, Speed, Death and Black Metal bands, many of which I still almost haven’t heard a note of. But due to Metallica’s black album and the video for Slayer’s “Seasons In The Abyss” my musical taste started changing in the early 90’s, mixing up my original taste with bands such as Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Testament – although still leaving German Thrash acts such as Sodom, Kreator, Rage and Destruction on the way-side.

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Ardours – Last Place on Earth

Gothic, symphonic Metal with a female vocalist, is that something that sounds familiar to anyone? Personally, I have a hard time getting intrigued when I read about bands in that genre. Many are the bands that have come to my notice throughout the years and I have listened to most of the bands that has been recommended to me. Most of them are bands that necessarily aren’t pure crap but very few of them has remained in my musical consciousness. Some I have quite liked while listening but none of them has lasted. With Ardours we get yet another one and since Gothic, symphonic Metal apparently isn’t my thing at all, I took on this record with a bit of skepticism although I really tried my best to have an open mind. Because, you’ll never know, this album just might be the one that will change my mind.

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Sascha Paeth’s Masters Of Ceremony – Signs of Wings

Sascha Paeth. If you are at least a little well versed in Metal – and especially Power Metal – that name should ring at least a smaller kind of bell. With that I mean that even if you’re not overly familiar with the guy, something in you should go “I’m sure I have seen that name somewhere”. Sascha Paeth is mostly known from his production duties that includes acts such as Rhapsody, Angra, Kamelot, After Forever and Edguy but also as a guitarist with his own band Heaven’s Gate who released their debut album back in 1989. Today, Paeth is very much Tobias Sammet’s go-to guy in Avantasia where he has helped out with both production, engineering and mixing on all albums plus the fact that he’s that project’s guitar player, both in the studio (where he also contributes with keyboards and some bass) and live. As a guy not very big on European Power Metal, it was through Avantasia – which I love and do not consider Power Metal anymore – I got acquainted with Paeth’s name.

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Slipknot – We are Not Your Kind

What is there to write about Slipknot that hasn’t already been written? Also, it’s not like these Iowa natives needs an introduction – love them or hate them but you sure know who they are. What can be said though, it’s that it has now been five years since their last release, the great 5: The Gray Chapter, a title that held tribute to their then newly diseased bassist Paul Gray. That meant that that record was a tough job recording for the band and also add to injury the fact that original drummer Joey Jordison got the sack which meant two original members gone for that recording. Five years later their replacements, bassist Donnie Steele and drummer Jay Weinberg – son of E Street Band’s Max Weinberg –  has had a chance to get warm and become a part of the unit Slipknot which should mean that the new record must have been a more comfortable affair for the band. As a fan of the band’s two latest releases but not so much of their earlier stuff, I was intrigued to find out if the band would surprise me, in a good way, once again. That we would get an aggressive, hard and dark album was to me something that goes without saying!

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Narnia – From Darkness to Light

Christian Metal. I know that some metalheads have a problem listening to bands praising God and I can understand that the message isn’t really what people might want to hear when the go all in, listening to metal. But on the other hand, they have no problem listening to satanic metal and if we’re being honest, those are just two sides of the same coin. It’s religion and both sides want to spread their message to the people. Personally, I don’t give a crap as I’m not the least religious myself. God and Satan are both fictive characters made up by men, the way I see it but if you want to believe in either, whatever gets you through the night. Musically, I have no problem listening to both sides if I love the songs – and I’m a huge Stryper fan. I also dig Dimmu Borgir. So as long as you deliver the goods musically and bring me great records I’m fine with whatever – knock yourself out. And musically, please knock me out as well.

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Chaos Magic feat. Caterina Nix – Furyborn

Chaos Magic? Caterina Nix? As a huge music fan who loves to search out for new acts, am I supposed to heave heard of either? I’m wondering because before I got these review links, I hadn’t. The name of the band tells me that Chaos Magic are a project that, this time, features Nix as the vocalist but apparently, this is a band, not a project, a band that when it got started in 2015, contained former Stratovarius guitarist Timo Tolkki. Nix, born in Santiago, Chile, was discovered by Tolkki on one of his South American tours and with his help, Chaos Magic was put together. Nix has since then been one of the singers on Tolkki’s Avalon albums where their latest effort Return To Eden was the first time I heard her sing, when I was reviewing that record.

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Timo Tolkki’s Avalon – Return to Eden

Metal-operas and Power Metal seem to go hand in hand. There are quite a few of them out there, most of them fantasy based but truth be told, I can hardly remember what most of them are called, let alone any songs or members – I’m really not that interested in either Power Metal or Metal-opera. That said, contradictory enough, I’m a massive fan of both Avantasia and Ayreon. However, I don’t see those projects as Power Metal at all, to me, Avantasia are melodic Metal with Hard Rock, Melodic Rock and even AOR elements stuck in there. But sure, there are Power Metal waved in as well. Ayreon is way too progressive to be called Power Metal. They are Metal-operas, though but the way I see it, I love those projects because of the music, not the themes. In fact, I don’t even know what the Avantasia story is about. Another Metal-opera that has been talked about quite a lot in the last years is Avalon, created by former Stratovarious guitarist and song writer Timo Tolkki.

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Sweet Oblivion feat. Geoff Tate – Sweet Oblivion

Hands up everyone who has more or less given up the idea of getting a solid, classic prog-metal album from former Queensrÿche singer Geoff Tate. Mine is raised. Since getting the boot from Queensrÿche, Tate have been showering us with half-hearted and even really bad albums, his own Queensrÿche album Frequency Unknown (2013) being the lowest point. But the truth is, even Queensrÿche were an underwhelming band during the last 10+ years Tate was with them – and what’s worse, I noticed a clear reducing of his voice as far back as Sweden Rock 2003. But I must state that it could might as well been a bad day on the job. When he got the boot from Queensrÿche and a court decision made the other guys the owners of the name, Tate changed his band’s name to Operation: Mindcrime and released three albums with them with up and down qualities. I have always been a fan of Tate’s voice and I think it’s really a shame that he hasn’t made a killer record on his own. Yet.

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