Archive CD Reviews 

Dutch female fronted symphonic Metaler's Epica have made a number of statements regarding their latest release, asserting that it marks a new chapter in the evolution of the band's sound and implying that they have crafted a more modern sound than any of their past works. After combing through the CD more than a few times and consulting a few colleagues on the subject, I have decided that whatever modern traits they might hear themselves remain a mystery to the vast majority of their fan base. However, what The Quantum Enigma does deliver happens to quite honestly be the most prestigious and true to form musicianship of the band's impressive career.

 

Present is every majestic nuance that one might expect from these truly profound artists and more. Huge orchestration, passionate melodies, interspersed dark and gruff growling vocals courtesy of Mr. Mark Jansen and the dominant pristine operatic vocalizations of frontwoman Simone Simons. As with all of their releases their love of film score is prevalent throughout.

 

The album opens with an astonishing ode to this type of orchestration before shifting hard into the radically paced "The Second Stone". Following is a wonderful piece entitled "The Essence of Silence" that starts mellow but breaks into a startling thunder of death growls trailed by the brilliance and warmth of Simon's lavish voice. This is definitely a sure fire hit out of the gate. "Sense Without Sanity - The Impervious Code" is the first monumental task of the album and displays heartily the band's ability to wield story telling with ambitious harmonic discourse. The beauty and emotion found here is moving in ways that words cannot express. Small hints of Black Metal vocal traits are offered a few times but the overall feel of the songs is one of synergistic deftness. While the title may not reflect the content, the feel of standing under a downpour of stinging rain comes to mind with "Omen - The Goulish Malady" which serves up some rather melancholic gestures amid ardent textures of sacred praise. "Canvas of Life" paints a colorful picture dismissing the extreme heavy guitars for a moment and focuses more on the elegance of the classical music portion that Epica have established as their legacy. The final cut of the album is the glorious title track "The Quantum Enigma - Kingdom of Heaven Part 2" which reaches nearly ten minutes and solidifies the band once again as eponymous leaders of their class. Even flow guitar riffs, transcendent choral movements, spoken word segments, interludes, grunts, growls and larger-than-life composition are sure to leave the listener thoroughly satisfied and wanting for nothing.

 

It is a given that Epica are a band that are a massive compliment to the Metal genre as a whole and the truth is, they will be extremely hard pressed to top this album with any future endeavors for it is without a doubt perfect in every sense.

 

-Priest

The hard hitting 80's blues rock outfit from Sacramento California triumphantly known as Tesla, have once again unleashed an astonishing feat of musical intellect with their latest expression simply titled...Simplicity. Opting to steer clear of the majority rule of today's technologies and nuances they have chosen instead to rely whole heartedly on their skills as musicians and have hence crafted an album of genuine down home, feel good, and truly organic Rock N Roll the likes of which is quickly becoming a lost treasure in today's modern regiment of mediocrity.

 

Led by the unusually appealing yet distinctively unique and pinched off nasally vocal rasp of frontman Jeff Keith with master guitar wizard Frank Hannon and alongside Brian Wheat on bass,  Troy Luccketta on drums and Dave Rude on guitar, Tesla remain one of the most sought after bands from their era. Simplicity marks yet another stellar achievement on the band's part as they continue to remain true to their roots and set aside all bullshit when it comes to their ability to stand strong amid today's musical embarrassments. Taking us on a history trip through the last 40 years or so in how far technology has come and how much it has caused us to lose out is the albums first track "MP3".  The bands use of acoustic guitar to enhance their sound thanks to the talents of Mr. Hannon has always been one of my favorite aspects of this band and songs such as "So Divine" which speak to the pain of losing a loved one and "Honestly" which is a very somber medium rock ballad that brings home the struggles of everyday life are key components here. The bluesy side of the band shines brilliantly in "Cross My Heart" while a good amount of the CD is definitely of the hard rock nature as is evidenced by the sting of "Break of Dawn", the explosion of "Time Bomb", and build of "Rise and Fall".

 

Simplicity is without a doubt an album filled with nothing but hits in my humble and hopelessly biased opinion. I admit I find it difficult to believe that anyone could not be into this band as they are everything a Rock N Roll band should amount to and so much more. I pray that Tesla continue to release quality music like this for years to come. Knowing that they are out there doing what they do so well gives me great joy and hope for the future of music.

 

-Priest

When the U.S. Death Metal scene hit in the early 90's I was with all due respect NOT a fan even in the slightest. My tastes had at that point not been acquired for that particular blend of the hard and heavy. It wasn't until I heard Australia's Mortification that I actually began to expand my horizons. After many attempts to embrace the genre I finally determined that my interests in this area truly lie with the European faction whose influence of such legendary bands like Celtic Frost and, Venom paved the way for other Euro-Death Metal bands like Morgoth, Carcass and Pestilence. Ultimately the melodic Death Metal Movement of the late 90's would become king in my opinion. One additional band that managed to captivate my attention during that time though was Denmark's Illdisposed who's 1993 debut album Four Depressive Seasons, found its way into my player quite frequently.

 

Upon releasing their 11th studio effort With Lost Souls On Our Side, Illdisposed are just as brutally poignant to today's Metal landscape as they have been in years past. The momentous thunder of the all powerful riffing that they so elegantly display is prominent throughout, accompanied by divine installments of lead action which accent a more melodic sense and is euphorically felt  on such choice attractions as, "To Be Dealt With", and "Tugging At Your Heart"" as well as pummeling cuts like the album opener "Going Down" and "Light In The Dark". Creating a more doom oriented take on things we have the beginning leads of "The Way We Choose" while "No More Devil To Show" and "Life Equals Zero" are given an artistic brush of dimensionality, escaping the standard Death Metal formula without compromising the sonic assault one would expect from Illdisposed.  

   

I appreciate the distancing of Satanic references and gore that seem to dominate the genre and applaud the band for their more intellectual approach to the lyrical content. For all its worth, With Lost Souls On Our Side is an album thoroughly worthy of deference and is destined to go down in the annals of Death Metal history as the bands most renowned work to date.   

 

-Priest

France's number one Nightmare (pun intended), the veteran Power/Thrash Metal band who debuted on the scene during the mid 80's have returned with their ninth full-length studio release titled The Aftermath on AFM Records. Boasting eleven blistering cuts of pure adrenalized metal fury it's a sure bet that Metal fans will have their dreams plagued by the sonic storm contained within.

 

Not wasting any time at all the brief lead in of the album is abruptly transitioned into the pummeling riff of "Bringer of a No Man's Land". The first few songs of the album seems to be more geared toward the thrash oriented mentality of the band whereas songs such as "I Am Immortal" and "Invoking Demons" reflect the Power metal side of Nightmare. Vocalist Jo Amore is affluently on target with his stern delivery. The band superbly covers all ground with their impressive sound and The Aftermath is a very well balanced album in relation to the band's trademark sound. Those who favor the trashier sounds of the band, fear not, for the speed and aggression are evident throughout and stand in perfect contrast to the Power Metal portion they offer; just check out tracks like "Digital DNA", "Ghost in the Mirror", and "Alone in the Distance".

 

All in all, Nightmare have crafted yet another scorching release and it is easy to see that their years of commitment and honing their skills have in face paid off. The Aftermath is well worth the investment to any collector of Metal.

 

-Priest

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