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.
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.
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.
Jeff Scott Soto is an amazing singer. That’s a fact and really cannot be discussed. You can say his voice isn’t to your liking but no one can claim that he can’t sing. But just like any other musician – your skills as a musician do not have to mean that you’re a great songwriter. Vocalist wise, Jorn Lande comes to mind. When he works with seasoned and highly skilled song writers, he’s awesome but when he writes songs himself, it often falls flat. The same thing, more or less, applies to Jeff Scott Soto. Many are the projects that Jeff’s voice has bettered but his solo albums has always been somewhat uneven, albeit never bad. It became even worse when he in 2015 unveiled a Metal band under his own last name. I fully understand that a guy like JSS wants to do different things, his 2017 prog-metal project Sons Of Apollo that featured Mike Portnoy, Billy Sheehan, Derek Sherinian and Bumblefoot was an example of such a successful union.
“You have to hear Myrath!” Those words came from the mouth of my brother’s wife one evening of chilling out, devouring unhealthy snacks washed down with just as unhealthy beverages while having a movie-night at our place. I had never heard of the band so movie-night turned into YouTube night for like half an hour or so. Video after video by Myrath was played and I was completely floored. The next day I googled the band because I knew I had to get me something by them but I didn’t know where to start. I found out that Myrath had released five studio albums (six if you count the new one) albeit the 2005 debut Double Face was released under the X-Tazy moniker. I decided a compilation album would do the trick for starters so a copy of the double compilation album Merciless Times (2018) was ordered. And boy, was this band great or what? Hot damn!
Ah, Devin Townsend, the friendly and courteous Canadian evil genius, once very outspoken about the pros of using weed for creativity but now completely sober for years. I guess he found out that he was just as out there sober as stoned – and I mean that in the best possible way. My relationship with Townsend has been almost non-existent. Well, not entirely true – I did buy the underrated and at times brilliant Sex And Religion album by Steve Vai’s band Vai in 1993 where Townsend was the singer, but after that I have only read about the man and his escapades. Almost. I had heard songs here and there from his outfit Strapping Young Lad but nothing ever stuck with me so I never really bothered checking his stuff out. Now, Townsend has put out so many records with his different constellations that I really can’t be arsed to mention them all here. Besides it would take up too much space, so if you want to know, google the guy.
Only a month prior to the release of this record, former Battle Beast guitarist, founder and main-song writer Anton Kabanen released the new album From Hell With Love with his new outfit Beast In Black. It was a punch in the gut kind of album and just like its predecessor, Berserker, it kicked ass, sounding a lot like Battle Beast albeit with a male singer. Battle Beast’s first album without Kabanen, Bringer Of Pain (2017), was a substantial follow-up to 2015’s brilliant Unholy Savior and showed that Battle Beast didn’t have any problems to maintain their sound and to write great songs without Kapanen. However, Kabanen’s Beast In Black are breathing down Battle Beast’s neck with two albums just as good as his former band’s. When Battle Beast now are releasing their second album without Kapanen, they have a lot to prove. Was Bringer Of Pain just a lucky strike or will Battle Beast be one great album ahead of Beast In Black with this one?
Since the last ten years or so, In Flames has turned into one of Sweden’s biggest music exports and when such things happen there’s always a whole lot of talk of selling out and being commercial. Those accusations have been coming In Flames’ way ever since they decided to take their already melodic Death Metal further away from pure Death Metal and adding other influences into the mix. I can understand that a move like that rubs old fans the wrongs way but does that mean that In Flames are selling out? I don’t think they have done so. Commercial? Well, sure but on the other hand, if you sell a lot of records and sell out stadiums, you’re commercial. Genres are never commercial by themselves – if you sell you’re commercial no matter what kind of music you play. Personally, I don’t give a rat. Mostly because I’m not a Death Metal fan to begin with and to me, if a (former) Death Metal band becomes more melodic, thumbs up from me.
It looks like the world of Queensrÿche is never easy but on the other hand, it never gets dull either. The whole Geoff Tate debacle has been dwelled on enough by now but even when the band should be in a good place, things happen. First, drummer Scott Rockenfield took a paternity leave of absence to be at home with his newborn child which had the guys touring with a temporary replacement, Casey Grillo (Kamelot). When it was time to start writing for the new album, Scott wasn’t involved and when they didn’t hear from him whether he’d be back soon or not, the guys decided to record the album without him. As singer Todd LaTorre having a past as a drummer he took it upon himself to do the drum parts. If Scott will come back to the band at all or not remains to be seen.
So here we go with just another one of those all-star projects from Frontiers, right? Well, usually when Frontiers releases an all-star project it’s within the AOR or/and Melodic Rock genre but here’s a bonafide Heavy Metal project. Who are the dudes that has rounded up for this thing then? Well, we have Tim “Ripper” Owens (Judas Priest, Iced Earth, Yngwie Malmsteen) on vocals, Chris Caffery (Savatage, Dr Butcher, Trans-Siberian Orchestra) on guitar, Steve Di Giorgio (Testament, Death, Sebastian Bach, Obituary) on bass and drummer Mark Zonder (Fates Warning, Warlord) with Roy Z (Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford, Sebastian Bach) producing. Sounds interesting? Well, it does to me. What also differs this project is that it’s made solely by the members involved and of course Roy Z which means no involvement from the usual suspects that holds both song writing and producing duties at Frontiers normally. That aside, I think it’s time I get a good dose of Metal again – it was a long time since I found a new Metal act that could kick my ass right into next week!