The Alliance of the Kings: Ancient Bards

Rating: 85%

abardsIn 2010, Ancient Bards released their debut album “The Alliance of the Kings.” The band consisted of vocalist Sara Squadrani, keyboardist Daniele Mazza, guitarists Claudio Pietronik & Fabio Balducci, bassist Martino Garattoni and drummer Alessandro Carichini.

Musically, this album is packed full of epic material and with lots of meat. It’s full of Classical influences, choirs and symphony. It’s melodic, there’s harmony and contains some folk influences. This album is epic and full of adventure. It’s like the late 1990’s all over again when Symphonic Power Metal became popular. It has lots fast paced tempos from the double kick drums, guitar riffs, guitar leads, to the keyboards and bass lines. Structurally, the album has interludes, verses, bridges, choruses, outros and other cool fill ins. This album even has a folky ballad.

Vocally, Sara Squadrani is among the best of women vocalists in her genre. Her voice has plenty of range. Lyrically, this album has tons of well written epic songs that are excellently composed. This concept album tells the story of a sorcerer who is in search of a sword for ultimate power and those who are out to stop him.

Track listing:

1. “Prelude” 1:55
2. “The Birth of Evil” 5:31
3. “Four Magic Elements” 4:59
4. “Only the Brave” 6:15
5. “Frozen Mind” 7:24
6. “Nightfall in Icy Forest” 1:17
7. “Lode al Padre” 6:26
8. “Daltor the Dragonhunter” 8:42
9. “Farewell My Hero” 6:51
10. “Faithful to Destiny” 8:45


Demons of the AstroWaste: Unleash the Archers

Rating: 75%

unleashIn 2011, Unleash the Archers released their second album “Demons of the AstroWaste.” This Canadian heavy metal band features vocalist Brittney Hayes, vocalist and guitarist Brayden Dyczkowski, guitarist Mike Selman, bassist Zahk Hedstrom and drummer Scott Buchanan. This album is a concept album for a futuristic war taking place in space or on other planets.

Musically, this is a very epic masterpiece of heavy metal. The only draw back I have is some of the songs seem to drag on as they sometimes do in Power/Epic Metal, but I get the concept. This album also has a lot of tempo changes. Also, there seems to be a touch techno in some areas of the songs. I hear the death metal segments but, it seems that I hear some Progressive Metal in some of the songs.

The guitar riffs are very strong and the leads are amazing. Lot’s of harmonizing guitar work throughout the entire album. There is some really good bass lines and drumming. Vocally, Brittney sounds great. She has a way of harmonizing her vocals with the screaming of the guitars. She is also backed by not one, but two harsh/dirty vocalists which gives it that death metal sounds.

Track listing:

1. 00:00:01 00:45 instrumental
2. Dawn of Ages 04:47
3. Realm of Tomorrow 05:15
4. General of the Dark Army 07:39
5. Daughters of Winterstone 05:42
6. Battle in the Shadow (Of the Mountain) 06:12
7. Despair 05:36
8. The Outlander 04:30
9. City of Iron 04:26
10. The Fall of the Galactic Guard 06:51
11. Astral Annihilation 04:23
12. Ripping Through Time 06:18

Battle Beast: Battle Beast

Rating: 78%

battlebeastIn 2013,Battle Beast released their second album called “Battle Beast.” This album was the first to feature their new female singer Noora Louhimo, replacing Nitte Valo. The rest of the Finnish band consists of bassist Eero Sipilä, guitarists Juuso Soinio & Anton Kabanen, drummer Pyry Vikki, and keyboardist Janne Björkroth.

Upon first listening to this album, I must admit, it was good to hear heavy metal going back to it’s roots. There is a small amount of folk influence and experimentation to some of the songs. Battle Beast using some modern day techniques decided to add that to old school heavy metal. It put me in mind of listening to Dragon Force mixed with Dio and Judas Priest. The duel action of hard hitting guitars mixed with great vocal work, drumming and keyboards made a good combination for band’s sound. Lyrically, the band writes songs about war, robots and the future.

The music itself is good. Some of the songs are trashy and speedy. The tempos are fast with lots of hard crushing riffs. Lots of leads and harmonizing fill in leads like one would expect from old school metal. The bass lines are fantastic. There is some great drumming on this record. The keyboards, and I am not a fan of keyboards, are not overdone. They seem to harmonize with the music rather than drowning it out.

Vocally, Noora Louhimo is awesome. She is one hell of a great vocalist in this genre of metal. Her range is low and high. Her vocals are drenched in grit. She is a cross between Rob Halford, Ronnie James Dio and Bruce Dickinson.

Track listing:

1. “Let It Roar” 3:40
2. “Out of Control” 3:47
3. “Out on the Streets” 2:55
4. “Neuromancer” 4:04
5. “Raven” 2:52
6. “Into the Heart of Danger” 5:26
7. “Machine Revolution” 4:05
8. “Golden Age” 1:57
9. “Kingdom” 5:00
10. “Over the Top” 2:37
11. “Fight, Kill, Die” 2:44
12. “Black Ninja” 3:54
13. “Rain Man” 5:12

Captain Morgan’s Revenge: Alestorm

Rating: 80%

Alestorm_Captain_Morgans_Revenge.jpgIn 2008, Scotland’s Power/Folk Metal band Alestorm released their debut. The band was made of up of vocalist and keyboardist Christopher Bowes, drummer Ian Wilson, bassist Dani Evans and Gavin Harper on guitar.

Lyrically, Alestorm has a pirate theme on this album as well as future albums. I know, sounds corny right? Well, it’s not as bad as you think. The song compositions are fairly good. The song lyrics put me in mind of drinking, wenches, booty and 18th Century pirates and their ships. It’s history wrapped up in plastic just waiting to be cranked up.

Vocally, the songs are very strong and gritty. There’s a great deal of harmony on the chorus lines. Musically, it has some very impressive guitar riffs. It’s heavy with folk influences, speed metal and power metal. The leads are very impressive. The addition of the traditional tin whistles and jaw hard are a nicely added touch. Musicianship is not bad. Production, the album sounds good.

Track listing:

1. “Over the Seas” 3:55
2. “Captain Morgan’s Revenge” 6:42
3. “The Huntmaster” 4:59
4. “Nancy the Tavern Wench” 4:52
5. “Death Before the Mast”  3:11
6. “Terror on the High Seas”  3:51
7. “Set Sail and Conquer”  4:38
8. “Of Treasure”  2:58
9. “Wenches & Mead” 3:42
10. “Flower of Scotland” (The Corries cover) 2:37

The Killer Angels: The Civil War

Rating: 70%

civil-war-killer-angels-1024x1024.jpgCivil War is a Swedish Power Metal band featuring several ex-members of Sabaton including drummer Daniel Mullback, guitarists Oskar Montelius and Rikard Sundén and keyboardist Daniel Mÿhr. With the addition of Pizza on bass and vocalist Nils Patrik Johansson, the band was complete. In 2013, the band released their debut, “The Killer Angels.”

I got this album solely based upon it’s cover. I figured since of my history background, this album would be a perfect fit. Especially the song tracks like “Gettysburg.” I mean look at the cover, if that doesn’t tell you what the themes are going to be, then I don’t know what else to say. The band’s lyrical themes do surround history and war.

Musically, lots of riffs that are boarder line speed metal on some of the songs. The entire album is heavy. There seems to be a few filler s in the songs, but it’s not that noticeable. Lots of lead guitar and fill in leads. Great drum work and bass lines. Song strucutre wise, the album flows nicely. It’s not choppy at all. Production is decent. Vocally, Nils Patrik Johansson reminds me of Tony Martin’s vocal style in Black Sabbath. His vocals  can hit a wide range of notes including the high notes. There are very strong harmonizing chorus lines. The keyboard does find it’s place in the music itself. It’s not overwhelming at all. The music is nonstop action throughout the entire album.

Bottom line, you have a basic power metal band that made a good effort for their first full length. It’s an enjoyable record. I do like the history inspired lyrics. If you’re into power metal, then try this album out for size.

Track listing:

1. King of the Sun 05:27
2. First to Fight 04:19
3. Saint Patrick’s Day 05:11
4. Rome Is Falling 05:24
5. Sons of Avalon 04:11
6. I Will Rule the Universe 05:11
7. Lucifer’s Court 03:46
8. Brother Judas 04:16
9. My Own Worst Enemy 03:51
10. Gettysburg 05:05
11. Children of the Grave (Black Sabbath cover) 04:58

The Triumph of Steel: Manowar

Rating: 90%

Album_the_triumph_of_steelIn 1992, after a line up change, Manowar released it’s seventh album “The Triumph of Steel.” The album featured vocalist Eric Adams, Joey DeMaio on all sorts of bass guitars. Kenny Earl Edwards took over on drums replacing Scott Columbus and David Shankle on guitars replacing Ross the Boss.

When this album came out, I was completely blown away. The first song alone was almost thirty minutes long reciting the Homer’s epic story “The Iliad”,  “Achilles, Agony and Ecstasy in Eight Parts.” In fact, this song along helped me to pass 12th Grade English. Only if my English teacher saw me today after having written several articles about history in our area.

Getting back to the album,  musically, and composition wise, this was one of my favorite albums by Manowar. The album begins with the epic adventure made into a modern story. “Achilles, Agony and Ecstasy in Eight Parts” is in eight parts that are broken down into chapters about the famous Trojan War. Achilles’ good friend was killed by the warrior Hector and stripped of his armor. Achilles vowed revenged and fought Hector and killed him in a fight. He then dragged his body around behind his chariot. This eight part Sega is written so well by Joey DeMaio. Parts I, II, VI, V and VII are all portions of the Sega that have lyrics that modernize this story. All other parts are instrumentals that brings the story home.  The last song “Masters of the Wind” is more along lines of an acoustical ballad.” But the album itself comes out balls to the wall and doesn’t stop until the last track. “Metal Warriors”  is a song dedicated to their fans and those who don’t like heavy metal music, “Heavy metal or no metal at all whimps and posers I said leave the hall.”

Musically, all of the songs are composed based around the classic style of power metal. Yet, there is a progressiveness that one can hear in parts of the album. Yet, the final delivery of the album itself is a full scale attack and onslaught as it’s one of the fastest Manowar albums to date. The guitar work is really good. Lot’s of good riffs and many great leads throughout the entire album. The drums are excellent. Edwards jumped right in and took Manowar to a whole new level with his drums of doom.You’ll hear that in the drum solos on the first song. The bass throughout the entire album helps to give the sound a ballsy feel to it. Lots of tempo changes, great melodies and harmonies, especially, the vocals. Production and the final mix gives this album a great overall sound. The musicianship is truly amazing.  Now, the only downside to this album is that some of the songs have a rather long introduction, “Spirit Horse of the Cherokee” is one such song. But once the intro is finished and the music begins, it’s balls to the wall with it’s heavy sound.

Lyrically, there is a lot of history here that help to influence the band’s song writing compositions. The band has really matured during the 1990’s as compared to their sound, song writing and yet has managed to keep their lyrical themes intact since their debut. Adams vocal work is great and he sure can hit those high notes.

This is a bad ass album that is kicking. If you’re into power metal, but not like the power metal that is coming out, then give this album a try. You’ll know why they are the self proclaimed “God’s of Metal.” This album to me is one of the under rated Manowar albums, that many have forgotten and is waiting for someone to rediscover it.

Track listing:

1. “Achilles, Agony and Ecstasy in Eight Parts”
I. Hector Storms the Wall
II. The Death of Patroclus
III. Funeral March
IV. Armor of the Gods
V. Hector’s Final Hour
VI. Death Hector’s Reward
VII. The Desecration of Hector’s Body
A. Part 1
B. Part 2
VIII. The Glory of Achilles” 28:38
2. “Metal Warriors” 3:54
3. “Ride the Dragon” 4:33
4. “Spirit Horse of the Cherokee” 6:02
5. “Burning 5:10
6. “The Power of Thy Sword” 7:51
7. “The Demon’s Whip” 7:50
8. “Master of the Wind” 5:27

Hall of the Mountain King: Savatage

Rating: 85%

thCAUT9NMTReleased in 1987, Savatage’s “Hall of the Mountain King” was the album that introduced me to the band. Savatage is very talented band that features brothers Jon Oliva on vocals, piano and keyboards and Criss Oliva on guitars. Johnny Lee Middleton , the bass player is joined by Steve Wacholz on drums. “Hall of the Mountain King” is the band’s way of returning to Power Metal after the more Glam Metal approach from their previous two releases “Fight for the Rock” and “Power for the Night.”

“Hall of the Mountain King” is a record that is darker and heavier, comparable to the sound of their first LP and EP. The drop “D” tuning gives the music a harder punch, making the guitar sound more deeper allowing the harmony to be more noticeable in the song structure.

Musically, there are elements of a Classical music influence. You hear that in the song “Prelude to Madness.” The song structure is amazing, with some background noise that is noticeable. Good arrangements of content, tempos and they are equally balanced. There are plenty of good leads, great musicianship. Vocally, Jon’s raspy and powerful yells and screams are remarkable. Not only is Jon a great vocalists, but, he is alos a great composer and song writer.

This is album is a great record and an important record to Power Metal. This also marks a closure for the band as in 1990, they will become more of a concept writing records as operas which will be the demise of the band as Trans Siberian Orchestra (TSO) will take over the band’s indent.

Highlights on this record:

24 Hours Ago

Strange Wings

Prelude to Madness

Hall of the Mountain King

Track listing:

  1. 24 Hrs. Ago 04:56
  2. Beyond the Doors of the Dark 05:09
  3. Legions 04:51
  4. Strange Wings 03:46
  5. Prelude to Madness 03:14
  6. Hall of the Mountain King 05:33
  7. The Price You Pay 03:52
  8. White Witch 03:22
  9. Last Dawn 01:07
  10. Devastation 03:38