Reviews

The Duskfall - Where The Tree Stands Dead

APOSTASY REC. 2014

I follow The Duskfall from its very beginning and i feel quite exhausted to the news for a new release.

"Where The Tree Stands Dead" Is the fifth full length album of melodic death metal masters following 2007s Nuclear Blast’ s release "The Dying Wonders of the World".  

For the 5th time The Duskfall deliver us NWOSDM at its best. "Where The Tree Stands Dead" is a strong heavy album in the way of The Duskfall mastery full of catchy melodies without neglecting their death/thrash metal roots.

Lets say, The Duskfall would continue on where Gates Of Ishtar left off. Hope you remember Gates Of Ishtar. Gates Of Ishtar is the precursor of The Duskfall and the first band of mastermind Mikael Sandorf . Gates Of Ishtar had released 3 magnificent albums back at 90ies.

Back at today and the new piece of The Duskfall. "Where The Tree Stands Dead" shows its class from the first notes of the opening song “To the Pigs”  with the wild paranormal drum-working from the band's new drummer Fredrik Andersson. A song that  defines the borders of the band and paves the way to the next 10 tracks.

On that will follow hand predictable but very satisfying for any fan of the specific genre. Overall the album can satisfy every metal freak as the band show a willingness  to broaden their metal horizons. The band aims to melody but still creates very energetic death/thrash riffing.

On positive  the high performance of the new singer Magnus Klavborn. Truly Magnus has the talent to go the band even further.
It would be injustice to not be refered to the great guitar duo of Mikael Sandorf and newcomer Ronny Edlund. Both create endless riffs and intense still hot guitar solos.

To prevent gabbling . If you are a fan of NWOSDM The Duskfall and their NEW OPUS is another must for you. If not, still risk betting….the odds are on the bands side.

Hektor Lasop


   

Testament - Dark Roots of Earth

NUCLEAR BLAST 2012

Another band from my seemingly ancient childhood has emerged to drop yet another new album in my lap. Testament, a band that has been criminally undervalued for the likes of Megadeth, Anthrax and countless others I'm too kind to mention, issues Dark Roots of Earth with a thrash metal vengeance that will most likely lay waste to pretty much anything else the medium has to offer.  

To say that Testament hasn't had a misstep or two in nearly 30-years of heavy music isn't exactly truthful, but to absolutely claim that the band is still at the top of the game with this release is vastly understated.  All of the incidental perfections associated with the artifact known as thrash metal are present and accounted for, especially with the powerful opener, “Rise Up”.  Cliches aside, it's the perfect opener for an album by a band that is bent on showing up the youngin's vying for position in this crazy battlefield called heavy metal.

Another element immediately noticeable is the thick production that was literally screaming for a band like Testament to come and puff up the edges while retaining a sickening layer of sound that just covers you like a drenched blanket, immobilizing and enchanting you. Of this supposed “Big Four” Testament is sometimes seen as Oliver from the last season of the Brady Bunch: the cute little add-on at the end to round out the picture, but I'll tell you, in my opinion, Testament is the band out of all four that has the most to say in the tightest fashion in the modern day. This band has never forgotten its roots, never stultified its role in the movement, and has never given in to label pressure like some genre-jumping bands hoping for the momentary mall-metal crowd. When something as tempestuous as “True American Hate” starts burrowing into your brain you know what you're experiencing is the real deal, raw and reckless, not to mention integral and precise.

The music on this latest effort is a fascinating journey into the annals of thrash metal history, complete with disturbingly potent riffs and overpowering vocals the likes of which are often imitated and never accurately reproduced to any discernible degree. Chuck Billy is the whole package when it comes to his singing style; the heated and often elevated effort he issues with each and every song showcases that familiar bellowing we've all come to know and headbang to over all of these years. “A Day in the Death” is probably my favorite track in that it has elements of The New Order and Low that seem to mesh (to an agreeable front) that wondrous past with the modern era we so desperately hope to hang on to for fear of it going the way of the screamo era. I think it's safe to say that Testament won't be doing that anytime soon.

Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson provide the dual attack that is oh-so-familiar and provides us fans with the very template with which we build shrines and imaginary marble homages to these heroes from our past. The guitar tones are easily recognizable as Testament and the fluidity of “Throne of Thorns” is one of the best examples of a chugging, thrashing riff if ever there was one. Even in today's over-populated medium an aging rocker or two can muster up the strength to batter those fretboards so sweetly that its fan base salivates with every chord in ways Pavlov never thought viable.

For any naysayers out there claiming the oldsters are mucking up the works, Dark Roots of Earth defies the expectant rudiments and trappings of a genre lost to unfiltered degeneration and slaps the faces of the hesitant elite that will never understand the true power of this band. For all the years under its belt, Testament provides a swift kick to the face with the steel-toed boot of thrash metal, carrying inside it a long lineage of honor and respect.

We expect and accept nothing less.

DR. HMC

1.Rise Up     04:18       
2.Native Blood     05:21       
3.Dark Roots of Earth     05:45       
4.True American Hate     05:26       
5.A Day in the Death     05:38       
6.Cold Embrace     07:46       
7.Man Kills Mankind     05:05       
8.Throne of Thorns     07:05       
9.Last Stand for Independence     04:43


   

TIMO TOLKKI’S AVALON – The Land Of New Hope

Label: Frontiers Records
Release Date: May 21, 2013

I suppose if there were anything on this planet I could actually say was made better by the existence of ABBA, it would be that they helped inspire Timo Tolkki. Tolkki is a heavy metal legend best known for his work as a guitarist and songwriter in power metal giant, Stratovarius. Of course after ABBA, Tolkki later discovered guitarists such as Yngwie Malmsteen and Randy Rhoads, and ultimately developed into the virtuoso most power metal fans know him as today.

In 2008, Tolkki left Stratovarius after over 20 years with the band, and a lot of power metal fans craved for more of his music. He formed two projects, Revolution Renaissance and Symfonia, both have since disbanded. His latest project, Timo Tolkki’s Avalon is another supergroup in the mirror of his previously mentioned acts and others such as the who’s who of symphonic metal, Avantasia. Featuring high-profile names such as Russell Allen (Symphony X), Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica), Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation) and Michael Kiske (Unisonic, ex-Helloween) this is a promising future indeed for our beloved Timo.

The debut is a concept album that Tolkki hails as a Metal Opera. It is set in the year 2055, after the Earth is nearly destroyed by natural disasters, a group of people band together in search of The Land of New Hope, which you guessed it, is the title of the album. It starts off with an ever-epic track “Avalanche Anthem” with perfect orchestration, nicely paced drum work, and great vocal presence. Unfortunately, at times the chorus work gets repetitive and boring, and in true power metal fashion it is layered to high heaven. That being said, the music itself is quite memorable. “Enshrined in My Memory” should spark an interest for any Symfonia die-hards out there, as it is a straight copy of the melody from “Rhapsody in Black”. This track, sung entirely by Elize Ryd (Amaranthe), sounds like a true classic power metal song in every way, complete with a soaring guitar solo, and the drums are very traditional in the cymbal heavy rock n’ roll style.

The album features a full run of classic power metal sounds, to more modern tracks like “We Will Find a Way” featuring Rob Rock (Impellitteri) and Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica) who play off of each other perfectly. Unfortunately, the music seems like it’s just all been done before. Probably put out by Stratovarius themselves or even Cain’s Offering. Considering keyboards are provided on the album by Jens Johansson (Stratovarius) and Mikko Härkin (Cain’s Offering) all that seems to be missing is Timo Kotipelto.

“Magic of the Night” is a blend of something along the lines of techno and power metal, but features more gritty vocals from Rob Rock. Even the guitar solo seems more in your face and dirty than any other on the album. Anthem-like tracks such as “To the Edge of the Earth” and “A World Without Us” stand out on the album, especially thanks to the vocal presence of Russell Allen on the latter. Russell meets Rob is a recipe for perfection, nearly as good as Russell meets Jorn.

Timo Tolkki is a fabulous musician and deserves all of the credit in the world that he receives for his work. A great example of this is the album’s epic, “The Land of New Hope”, bringing our journey to its close. Michael Kiske’s piercing voice soars over distorted guitars ever so perfectly, and although the song runs long, the arrangement is just incredible. I couldn’t think of any other better way to end such an epic release. While it’s not a release to go down into the book of heavy metal for generations to come, it is still a powerful release of beautiful symphonic metal music. Tolkki gets to add another great project into his already impressive and beefy resume, and power metal fans everywhere get to hear musicians they love singing and playing all new tracks (for the most part anyway) orchestrated by the wonderful Sami Boman, who has been at this music thing since 1995. Rest assured, The Land of New Hope is definitely worth checking out.

Mattie Jensen

Guest Musicians:

Vocals: Russell Allen, Elize Ryd, Rob Rock, Tony Kakko, Sharon Den Adel, Michael Kiske and opera vocals by Magdalena Lee

Keyboards: Jens Johansson, Derek Sherinian, Mikko Härkin

Drums: Alex Holzwarth

Orchestration: Sami Boman

1.Avalanche Anthem    04:52      
2.A World Without Us    05:42      
3.Enshrined in My Memory    04:05    
4.In the Name of the Rose    04:26      
5.We Will Find a Way    04:24      
6.Shine    03:36      Show lyrics
7.The Magic of the Night    04:42      
8.To the Edge of the World    05:01      
9.I'll Sing You Home    05:01      
10.The Land of New Hope    08:53


   

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