Lacrimas Profundere – Antiadore

Lacrimas Profundere has a talent for producing lovely easy tunes that makes you feel lightheaded. Far from being an ingenious masterpiece, “Antiadore” is a straightforward collection of trendy gothic rock/metal, or goth n’roll, songs a la HIM. I always think that in a messy and complicated world there should always be space for those little rock songs that do not require to rack your brains in search for a deeper meaning.

“My Release In Pain” starts with a charming piano melody bringer of that exquisite Nordic melancholy that melts our hearts. The clean sore vocals remind of Ville Valo immediately and probably that’s why we absolutely love them. The main melody and the catchy chorus are just an array of sweet sad notes that deliver some genuine emotions.

“What I’m Not” brings the groovy desperation of romantic failures. There is a mid paced dark rock core sustained all the way through with minimalist polished guitar riffs and extremely somber vocals.

“All For Nothing” is a semi ballad with a recurring pleasant harmony. It’s all about the sadness, the end of love or the lack of a brighter future. Lacrimas Profundere sticks to that musical recipe that can never be wrong, therefore the band keeps it darkr and plays it safe with the usual soft rock guitar riffs.

The title track still holds that romantic melancholy even if the approach is harder and more dynamic in terms of guitar riffing and drumming. The chorus instead is not very satisfying as it sounds quite dull compared the main melody.

On “Abandon” the guitars have a metallic sound that delivers a heavier groove while the keyboards display a vintage music style. The whole atmosphere is still decadently romantic with intense vocals in bohemienne fashion.

“Head Held High” is definitely a pure tribute to Ville Valo’s legacy. This is a mellow somber ballad with dominant atmospheric layers of keyboards, cliché guitar solo and heartbreaking vocals.

On “My Chest” it’s all about tears and agony, so it is definitely an irresistible sad song. Love is cruel and there’s no hope, but those charming groovy riffs flowing so smoothly will make you feel much better. I cannot stop loving Rob Vitacca’s baritone style vocals that here are particularly cold and contagiously unhappy.

There is nothing extremely complicated or astonishingly unique, nevertheless “Antiadore” is one of those sweet guilty pleasures that you are doomed to love even if for a brief moment in life.

 

 

Sebastian Bach – ABachalypse Now

The amazing rock icon Sebastian Bach has many reasons to celebrate his musical resurrection. “ABachalypse Now” is a special token of appreciation for the multitude of Bach’s faithful fans all over the world. This is a massive CD/DVD package that includes live footage from three different concerts in 2012: Hellfest in Clisson, Club Nokia in Los Angeles and Graspop Metal Meeting in Dessel.

Obviously, this is a collectors’ item but it is always a great pleasure to watch and listen to Bach’s legendary live performances.

This release includes all the Skid Row’s beloved classics such as “Slave To The Grind”, “Big Guns”, “18 & Life”, “I Remember You” and “Youth Gone Wild”, as well as “TunnelVision” from the latest solo album.

Since Sebastian Bach is an absolutely passionate and entertaining performer, I would totally recommend “ABachalypse Now” to all the fans out there and especially to those who never had the pleasure to attend a Bach’s concert.

 

Visions Of Atlantis – Ethera

Considering that Visions Of Atlantis has been around since many years, I would expect a mature album at this point. The latest release “Ethera” unfortunately doesn’t bring a much necessary innovative songwriting. Every song is quite harmonious and listenable but this music recipe has been used and abused before by numerous other bands.

“The Ark’ is an easy simplistic song. There are all the smooth rock/metal riffs and the more alternative keyboards arrangements that you can expect by such a band.

On “Machinage” the vocals feel a bit forced and awkward in the attempt of providing a blast of energy to resurrect the dull rhythm.

“Vicious Circle” is a semi ballad with a monotone structure on which Maxi Nil’s vocals represent the only convincing moment. The other soft ballad “Cave Behind The Waterfall” has a more spontaneous feeling with an array of pleasant arpeggios but the songwriting is still very predictable. Even if Maxi Nil delivers a strong passionate performance, the song simply fails to be memorable.

“Tlaluc’s Grace” has a bit of power metal vibe in the guitar work that adds a dynamic energy. Yet, the vocal duet in the chorus lacks catchiness and harmony.  The same issue occurs on “Clerics Emotion” where the vocals create a deep contrast that just doesn’t fit the symphonic core.

On “Burden Of Divinity” the happy smooth and mellow guitar sound seems too dominant and ends up clashing with the safe mid pace tempo.

On “AEON 19th” Visions Of Atlantis manages to create a lovely dreamy atmosphere with sweet piano melodies, a touch of violin and thoughtful vocals. The songwriting remains a bit unoriginal as it resembles the style and structure of almost every female fronted band out there. Certainly, “Ethera” has a consistent music style but nothing really stands out and there is an evident lack of creativity throughout the album.

 

Tristania – Darkest White

I will never comprehend what turning point event has caused Tristania to change dramatically its music style and join the pool of cloned female fronted bands. The new album “Darkest White” is stripped of any gothic attitude, consistent musical direction and creative force. All that remains is your average redundant and monotonous collection of easy songs that will be forgotten tomorrow.

“Number” is a recycled memory of what Tristania used to be. The main heavy guitar riffs are a ghastly reminiscence of the iconic song “Libre”. The growls and the keyboards arrangements work nicely together but the female vocals have no place to fit in so they are somehow forced into the song’s structure.  It would have been better to just keep it instrumental.

The title track is another attempt to step back in time and for this reason it is inevitably the only strong moment of the album. The old style growls are fierce and add a nice empowering energy to the catchy guitar riffs.

There is hope for a brighter future on “Himmelfall” with that lovely slightly melancholic mood filled of vintage rocking guitars. The clean vocals are soothing and spontaneously layered on softer guitar melodies. Unfortunately, the weak female vocals are thrown in suddenly and randomly resulting in the disruption of the musical flow.

“Requiem” and “Diagnosis” have no musical quality as they revolve around repetitive monotone vocals, sloppy open chords and the absolute lack of catchy harmonies. Honestly, Tristania doesn’t even seem to make a real effort to write a fancy song.

“Scarling” will be remembered for that awkward moment in which the vocal duet chorus has no reason to exist but is forced on purpose inside the song in a “cut & paste” fashion.

Disturbingly that “oh so awkward moment” happens again. Hence, what seems to be the same chorus, almost note by note, is slammed inside “Night On Earth” in a quite clumsy manner.

“Arteries” starts with a more sincere and heavier approach but again the “oh so damn awkward” chorus doesn’t fit the main music style nor the mood, so it is forcefully encased in the song structure.  It feels like two completely separated songs are suddenly attached to each other without any gradual tempo or style changes.

At the end of the album a great sadness pervades my heart as I mourn the official loss of one of the most talented bands in the metal scene.

Atrocity – Okkult

Atrocity can be easily considered a cult band, therefore there is a huge fanbase eager to listen to the new release “Okkult”. Often, Atrocity has been praised for its musical innovations, but “Okkult” feels like a collection of many favorite metal styles with a supernatural and macabre conceptual theme.

“Pandæmonium” has an unexpected black/gothic metal style full of hellish drums and devilish guttural growls. The highly symphonic keyboards and the operatic ominous chorus create a dark vampiric atmosphere that immediately reminds of Cradle Of Filth’s work.

“March Of The Undying” continues to illustrate the twisted symphonic nature of this album. The vocals are maybe too raspy to incorporate the epic musical theme while the operatic chorus is a necessary accessory to define such concept.

“Haunted By Demons” kicks in with an eerie intro that rapidly gives way to a “happier” guitar driven theme. The gothic features just linger in the background as the focus shifts to some vintage thrash guitar work.

On “Murder Blood Assassination” the main core is nothing out of the ordinary as it is all about super fast predictable guitar riffs. The harmonious keyboards passages and the soft piano outro seem to fit awkwardly among all the traditional heavy metal riffing. Even the polished technical guitar solo gets somehow lost in this instrumental mixture.

“Necromancy Divine” proposes again the eerie intro followed by the brutally tight riffing.  Ghastly chanting and nasty venomous growls follow as expected. This track also features a fascinating breakdown that delivers the creepiness of vintage horror movies.

On “Satans Braut” the guitars carry a cold metallic sound but the rhythm has the modern Germanic catchiness of Rammstein. The tempo is slowed down with a rock attitude that makes this track absolutely radio friendly.

The most symphonic piece is probably “La Voisine”. The atmospheric theme here is more dominant than the brutal energetic guitar riffs. The keyboards arrangements are incredibly soothing yet gloomy, while the melodic death metal core flows quite naturally accompanied by exciting guitar solos.  Overall, the instrumental concoction is able to portray the sinister song’s concept.

“Okkult” revolves around very traditional guitar riffs that are certainly easy to remember but fail to bring a true creative vitality. At the same time, this album has a modern blackened mood that is definitely new for a band such as Atrocity.

 

 

Delain – Interlude

It seems that Delain has been acquiring a great deal of popularity since last year’s release “We Are The Others”. In order to please the ever-growing fanbase, Delain is releasing a compilation entitled “Interlude”.  Unfortunately there are only two brand new songs, so this mini album seems like a way to keep the audience’s interest as the band prepare to tour as main support for Within Temptation.

“Breathe On Me” is not different from any other Delain’s song. The chorus in particular is the same as the hit song “We Are The Others”. The song structure is extremely simplistic and you can barely hear the guitar work.

The other brand new song is entitled “Collars And Suits”. Here the lead guitar is actually distinguishable but the songwriting doesn’t show any deviation. The melodic piano breakdown followed by the obvious chorus is just too predictable to attract the attention of a wider fanbase.

If you’re a big fan you will easily appreciate the new piano driven ballad version of “We Are The Others” as well as the various live versions of some previous songs.

Spheric Universe Experience – The New Eve

On the latest album “The New Eve”, French progressive metal acolytes Spheric Universe Experience attempt to personalize and modernize some of the traditionally acclaimed progressive features. Since this seems to be an experimental release, it is reasonable to encounter some uneasy moments here and there.

“Shut Up” has too many predictable guitar riffs with a pompous sound and an awkward chorus. The main musical theme is a kind of hybrid made of classic metal elements with scattered touches of prog and electro.

The title track has a very modern approach but everything still revolves around this unclear electro/metal hybrid style that feels quite confusing at times. Despite the unnatural vibe, the slower breakdown delivers simple clean vocals and some interesting keyboards/guitar duet in true prog fashion.

“Escape” still holds the classic trademark of progressive metal with a particularly intense guitar work. Yet, the overall atmosphere lingers more towards a modern electro/alternative rock style. The vocals here are way too soft and polished to match the powerfully frenetic rhythm.

“The Day I Died” begins with an obvious sad mood, but it doesn’t last long as the electro beat Orgy style takes over. Despite the effort to smooth the edges and blend all the instruments harmoniously, the song clearly lacks a solid catchy tune.

“Self Abuse” has a more aggressive and frenetic rhythm. Guitars and keyboards work together to build a strong musical core that later gives way to some technical prog solos.

“My Heart On The Cross” is an electro semi ballad filled with synths and softly romantic vocals. The slow atmospheric chorus is stripped of the usual crunchy guitars and results more natural.

In the end, “The New Eve” is written and executed to attempt to conquer a wide audience outside of the strict metal scene but the songwriting doesn’t show a consistent maturity. This album is pervaded by a constant desire for a musical change; Spheric Universe Experience might eventually achieve a more personal distinct sound in the near future.

 

Stolen Babies – Naught

“Naught” by Stolen Babies will inevitably fall in the category of “avant-garde” music just because each and every song here does not showcase any particular music style. In reality, this album revolves around a randomly disorganized array of various musical themes that we all already stumbled upon at some point in our life. Therefore, since the abused elegant definition “avant-garde” refers to a truly active innovation, it would be safe to say that “Naught” doesn’t fit this description.

“Never Come Back” is all about alternative distorted guitars with a groovy grotesque attitude. There are some raspy screams and some hardcore moments that tend to be deliberately dissonant.

“Splatter” has a repetitive funky rhythm that could be considered catchy but not memorable. The accordion is a graceful touch but it ends up getting lost in the mix.

“Second Sleep” still dwells in the cabaret realm but has an icy dark atmosphere. This song seems to flow more naturally in terms of songwriting and execution. There is also a feeble ambiance feeling that effortlessly embraces the rock guitars.

“Behind The Days” is a polka style mini song that serves as intro for the chaotic “Mousefood”. Here Stolen Babies tries to get more aggressive with a faster and tighter rhythmic section. The main musical theme resembles a gloomy circus soundtrack but it gets buried by the instrumental ensemble that creates a lot of sonic confusion.

“Swimming Hole” brings a 1920’s cabaret attitude mixed with a polka dance rhythm and a vintage gramophone sound effect. The vocals have a theatrical/vaudeville delivery that reminds of Emilie Autumn.

It’s hard to take seriously “Birthday Song” with its perennial carnival cacophony, the sloppy ironic vocals and the overwhelming search for unusual interesting sounds.

“Grubbery (Burnt To A Crisp)” has a deliciously vintage sound fully developed through  a sequence of sentimental piano melodies. While the guitars and the vocals keep a creepy atmosphere, there is also a classical jazz rhythm.

Stolen Babies’ attempt to overcome the typical musical boundaries can be easily appreciated throughout the album. Yet, the songs included on “Naught” fail to achieve a musical consistency and often lack a much needed catchy attitude. You could consider “Naught” as a twisted source of temporary entertainment.

 

Kingcrow – In Crescendo

It’s often hard to keep track of all the prolific metal bands that populate the underground scene. Therefore, it is reasonable to think that few people will stumble on the newest Kingcrow’s release entitled “In Crescendo”. This is a quite straight forward album with a strong progressive attitude highly influenced by Dream Theater and other similar bands.

If this album frequently fails to deliver a unique songwriting, the outstanding execution tends to fill the gap.

“Right Before” is certainly a majestic opener full of lovely prog oriented guitar riffs but, in the end, we are all very familiar with this type of guitar work. Regardless, the melodic catchy side of this track will surely attract the listeners.

The next song is entitled “This Ain’t Another Love Song” but we know that metalheads are always drawn to romantic love songs. This track is extremely catchy and focuses on hyper melodic guitar arpeggios intertwined with blasting prog riffs and entertaining tempo variations.

“The Hatch” has a more atmospheric approach and an emotional dramatic vibe. The guitar work holds a particular intensity as it delightfully mixes multiple styles ranging from classic prog in Queensryche fashion to  rock acoustic rhymes.

“The Drowning Line” showcases another interesting musical concoction built around a very energetic rhythm. Between the wicked tight riffing, the keyboards amenities and the expected tempo changes, there is also space for a memorable chorus and a technically melodic guitar solo.

The title track has a darker mood but it still filled with uplifting attentive prog riffs and variegated keyboards arrangements. This lengthy song is certainly more complex and ambitious in terms of composition. At the same time, all the musical elements seem to fit nicely and build a reasonably natural flow. Obviously, in order to favor the technical showcase of Kingcrow’s progressive musicianship the main musical theme might get lost at times.

“In Crescendo” is a well developed collection of catchy songs that will easily make the band gain a wider audience worldwide.

 

Amorphis – Circle

On the new album “Circle”, Amorphis has decided to make everybody happy by delivering just what the fans expect to hear. This is not a gloomy enigmatic album as it includes many rather approachable or “commercial” songs. Certainly, all the tracks still hold the renowned Finnish folk attitude that gave Amorphis a great deal of recognition, but everything is reinterpreted in a softer key.  It seems that the band has chosen a safe musical pathway to please the new and younger acolytes.

“Shades Of Grey” has an extremely promising folk attitude that naturally blends with strong growls and blazing riffs. All the atmospheric harmonies are quite captivating, the chorus is absolutely addictive and the instrumental sections incorporate a wild dreamy mood.

“Mission” is a mellow song with obvious gothic rock roots. In terms of songwriting and sound, everything is structured in a rather simplistic fashion in order to achieve a radio friendly tune. Also, the piano melodies and the soft rhythm are extremely distant from the usual heavier and darker roots. Overall, the song’s style is very close to bands such as Him and To Die For.

“The Wanderer” doesn’t seem to be a memorable track as it follows exactly the musical style of “Mission”. Therefore, it almost feels like an unnecessary repetition even if the absolute catchiness embedded in the chorus and in the guitar work will certainly be appreciated by a certain audience.

Even if “Narrow Path” kicks in with flutes in an undeniably folk fashion, the rest of the song revolves around the same type of simple catchy chorus.

“Hopeless Days” relies on an assortment of fascinating darkly romantic melodies. Again, this song clearly deviates from Amorphis’ earlier releases. Every element is built to please the listener, but the only creative force can be found in the lead guitar work.

“Nightbird’s Song” brings back a more aggressive metal style. The soft atmospheric intro fades gracefully into a more obscure realm made of audacious growls and guitar riffs that could evoke a black metal mood. This song feels more mature and complete in terms of songwriting. The chorus is still catchy with rationally clean vocals and a slower safe rhythm. The true highlight is the soothing and peaceful instrumental breakdown where keyboards and flutes naturally embrace.

The blackened mood of “Enchanted By The Moon” is another pleasant moment. The guitar riffs and the predictable chorus are still on the mellow side, but the main verses hold a particularly gloomy beauty.

In the end, the musical quality of “Circle” is outstanding from a rational point of view, yet I feel that the naïve spontaneity of Amorphis’s earlier releases has completely disappeared and I truly miss it.