Kadavar – Abra Kadavar

We’ve seen it on the fashion runways and all over the music scene, so I guess that 70’s style is officially trendy again. The German act Kadavar certainly embraced full speed every musical aspect of 70’s classic rock and even the band’s image matches that particular music direction perfectly.
On the new album “Abra Kadavar” (lovely title by the way and maybe pun intended?) you will find all the magic nostalgia of the unforgettable golden days of true hard rock with that delicious hint of psychedelic mood.
“Come Back Life” holds no secrets and no digital special effect. Simple and well executed, this is a distorted guitar driven tune that never fails to build a fun groove with nostalgic Black Sabbath influences.
“Doomsday Machine” feels more like a time machine as its one and only duty is to efficiently take you back in time for a chance to jam in a smoky bar. The groove is always there and the rhythm is laid back without pretenses.
“Eye Of The Storm” is full of catchy guitar riffs that aim to create a good time rather than to deliver a perfect record that will sell out. Yet, you will start to notice that the vocals can be obnoxiously repetitive while the guitars take more chances to get wild in the last two minutes.
“Liquid Dream” not only manages to keep that overwhelmingly groovy maybe bluesy guitar riff but also provides all you need to trip out without regrets.
“Rhythm For Endless Minds” will make a difference. That’s how we like it here…filled with illusions…psychedelic all the way through with hints of Monster Magnet. Slower beat and electronically fueled atmosphere on which you must go experimental with the guitar sound. This is when you realize that the possibilities are endless.
“Abra Kadabra” is another lucky moment. Every instrument here concocts a wide array of psychedelic rock melodies that favor genuine tripping and courageously open the doors of imagination.
Undoubtedly, Kadavar stays true to its musical vision without any apparent effort but “Abra Kadavar” as a whole can be monotone at times.

Sirenia – Perils Of The Deep Blue

When it comes to a Sirenia’s new album it’s like playing with fire after being repeatedly burned in the past. You must remember the pain and that you shouldn’t do it anymore, but you always do it anyway. This time could be different because “Perils Of The Deep Blue” comes with unbreakable promises, maybe.
The album opens with the intro “Ducere Me In Lucem” and a Latin title always creates majestic expectations and endless illusions. Then again, if you stick to angelic vocals haunting you from far away and sweet melancholic piano melodies what could ever go wrong?
“Seven Widows Weep” has an undeniably powerful start with the “oh so lovely” operatic choir that here almost sounds evil and angry (this is a very good sign). The guitar’s sound is dirty and the growls are greedy, but Ailyn’s lead vocals still feel out of place. What a pity, especially considering that the keyboards arrangement is as exquisite as it can be.
“My Destiny Coming To Pass” has a classic pompous symphonic approach but the surprisingly violent guitar riffs deserve to be acknowledged while Ailyn’s super fragile and overwhelmingly optimistic delivery (full of echoes and unnatural reverb) is not impressive.
“Decadence” has a catchy and quick rhythm but the vocals are way too high for the melody tuning. Anyways, the blast of evil growls always brings hope while the lack of Gregorian chants makes this song particularly sad.
“Stille Kom Døden” holds the magic of a miracle with its blessed decadent tragic gothic attitude, lovely guitar leads and the genuine powerless feelings of tormented souls. Among the super sad melodies, Ailyn manages to match her vocals to the musical tapestry for the first time. And then the ominous choir helps Morten’s alluring growls to seal this impeccable moment.
“A Blizzard Is Storming” features some inspiring moments such as the darker melodic theme gothic-oriented emphasized by tight guitar riffs a bit on the heavy side and a harrowing solo.
Undoubtedly, “Perils Of The Deep Blue” shows a noticeable improvement in the songwriting and arrangement but, fearlessly, I will say again that Morten Veland does not need a pop style female singer to make Sirenia trendy and successful.

Gothminister – Utopia

Gothminister’s latest release “Utopia” is a quite complicated concept album. Giving it a quick listening it was extremely hard to realize what was beyond each and every song. First of all, I had no idea that mastermind Bjørn Alexander Brem actually has a “normal” day job rather than being just a talented freak. That being stated, “Utopia” is an album centered on the insane collision of reality and imagination.
“Someone Is After Me” turns on the traditional nightmarish mode full of monsters under the bed and freaky (possibly undead) stalkers. From a stylistic point of view, there are a lot of catchy heavy rock guitar riffs and the electro goth attitude is not as empowering as expected.
The titletrack has a slower darker rhythm with eerie backing vocals and baritone leads. This song is less guitar centered and rather emphasizes a goth mood that naturally flows into a radio friendly chorus.
“Horrorshow” is quite self explanatory. The dominant vibe is that playful creepiness of old cult horror movies with a hint of properly heavy industrial metal and, of course, a dancey groove chorus.
“Nightmare” has a majestic and powerful ensemble of groovy riffs and atmospheric keyboards. In terms of songwriting, the musical core is quite straightforward and leans towards gothic metal roots with the addition of the horror rock sensation.
“All Alone” feels almost like a traditional spooky lullaby with evil whisperings in the pitch black darkness. The lead guitar shows a mellow, almost ballad style, but the overall rhythm is still absolutely groovy while the vocals’ delivery suggests oppressed and scary feelings.
I remembered that Gothminister was much more entertaining and obnoxiously amusing than this, nevertheless“Utopia” shows enough consistent musical variety even if there are not outstandingly creative elements.

Alcest – Shelter

It cannot be denied that Alcest has worked very hard to gain a righteous role in music. The new album “Shelter” represents most likely the musical turning point that Neige & co. was meant to reach to become an established band.
While “Opale” is full of that spiritually uplifting mood that is part of Alcest’s musical legacy, the songwriting itself doesn’t strike as unique or particularly creative. The smooth guitar melodies layered on a poppy upbeat rhythm makes this song widely accessible yet not as strong as you would expect from a full length opener.
“La Nuit Marce Avec Moi” incarnates more what Alcest’s music means in the contemporary music scene. There are poetic and extremely delicate sentiments entwined in every guitar phrase and the vocals have that ethereal delivery that gently accompanies the listeners through the realm of dreams.
“Voix Sereines” focuses on a shimmery crystalline guitar sound that truly embodies the benign power of light. At the same time, there is an intoxicating taste for melancholy portrayed by an incredibly soft guitar distortion almost hidden, yet certainly palpable in the rhythm section.
“L’Enveil Des Muses” has the most captivating dreamy musical landscape. Every stylistic element that defines Alcest’s music is incorporated on this song filled with Neige’s softest vocals diving through delicate melodies.
“Away” is a desperately delicate ballad featuring Neil Halstead from Slowdive as lead singer. Everything is slowed down and the melodic guitars work harmoniously to create a painless world of pure serenity.
All over internet “Shelter” is defined as a “non-metal” album which makes you wonder if this is a flaw or a virtue. Anyways, Alcest delivers once again an inspiring peaceful dreamy album but, despite an obviously mature sound, “Shelter” seems to be missing the immediately addictive heterogeneous alchemy that made “Les Voyages De L’Ame” a mesmerizing masterpiece.

Chaostar – Anonima

Maybe not everybody knows that Christos Antoniou from Septicflesh is a multitalented musician with a Master’s Degree in concert music and an honorable classical background. With the band Chaostar, and the latest release entitled “Anonima”, Christos Antoniou fully satisfies his natural desire to explore the countless ever fascinating facets of classical music.
“Un Pensiero Per Il Destino” could be easily labeled as a classical operetta in which the main elements are the flawless soprano vocals in Italian (as in the traditional opera performances) and the delicately intricate composition where flutes and strings deliver epic undertones.
“Medea”, obviously inspired by Euripide’s unforgettable drama, presents an ominously dark atmosphere since the very beginning featuring a narration by David Vincent from Morbid Angel. The rest of the song could sound hostile to the average listener with its cathartic, often insane with so many elements mixed together, descent through a relentless haunting musical exploration ranging from classical to jazz and beyond.
On “Dilate The Time”, the delightfully familiar voice of Fernando Ribeiro from Moonspell gives you a sense of hope and a much needed break to breathe. From a musical point of view, there is a sort of comforting recurring melody with a straight forward classical approach that dwells in a controversial experiment.
“Les Reminiscences Extatique” feels like a bittersweet heartbreaking drama. The highlight here is the tragically spellbinding vocal performance by Androniki Skoula emotionally well supported by a cascade of elegantly classical orchestral backgrounds.
“L’Idee Fixe” is an extremely poetic piece with a soothing melodic theme. Yet, the second part of the song unfolds an ambiance obscurity that holds a Byzantine or simply archaic style.
“Misery’s King” has a cautious approach with a well defined melodic theme that can be easily accepted, maybe even loved, at the first listening. It feels almost like a ballad focusing on delightful arpeggios, melancholic keyboards and emotionally charged vocals.
It is obvious that “Anonima” is not suitable for an easy everyday listening with all the experimental orchestral arrangements that truly leave no space for catchy melodies widely accessible. Nevertheless, this is an absolutely stunning collection of classical soundscapes that courageously embraces multiple modern elements.

Monster Magnet – Milking The Stars: A Re-imagining Of Last Patrol

We can all agree on the fact that Monster Magnet’s “Last Patrol” has represented a tremendous come back, so why not re-imagining this album in an even more twisted fashion? Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Wyndorf’s eclectic mind is always working in mysterious and marvelous ways and the result is called “Milking The Stars: A Re-imagining Of Last Patrol”. As Dave Wyndorf himself has stated, the songs taken from “Last Patrol” on this album are reinterpreted in a weird old-school fashion as if they have been written in 1968. If that’s not enough for the greedy fans, the album contains also four brand new tracks and if you’re lucky to get your hands on the limited edition you’ll get two live bonus tracks.
“Let The Circus Burn” is your classic edgy psychedelic dream trip. This is an instrumental track that focuses on a truly vintage guitar sound in trippy acid rock fashion surrounded by a wide array of multichromatic effects. Due to the peculiar richness of details, this song will require multiple listening to fully grasp its inner beauty.
“Mindless Ones ‘68” is a powerful bombastic blast all the way through. Considering that this was hands down one of my favorite track on “Last Patrol”, I must admit that even this version doesn’t disappoint. The new key elements here, besides the more vintage and raw sound, is the addition of the organ arrangement that delivers an enchanting bitterness but still makes you want to jump and dance.
“No Paradise For Me” features a brilliant cathartic Wyndorf’s monologue full of hidden meaningful truths (as always, think about the cult song “Zodiac Lung”). The music is made of eerie hypnotic melodies full of magical reverb that concocts the uneasy feeling of being lost in the middle of a desert or in the outer space, if you prefer.
“Milking The Stars” starts with decadently romantic mood, almost tinged with a sinister vibe, with a slow enchanting rhythm. It’s just lovely how all those peaceful arpeggios increasingly flow into the familiar psychedelic tunnel, another good chance to space out with no return, which has become a trademark of the band’s music style.
“The Duke (Full On Drums ‘N Wah)” gains a great deal of readily appreciable hyper dynamicity with the addition of groovy drums and intensely attractive guitar tunes. Still, the main melody keeps the sexy and shimmering vintage stoner rock vibe of the original version.
In the end, there’s so much more than meets the eye as “Milking The Stars: A Re-imagining Of Last Patrol” is not only an elegantly crafted work of music but also an authentic showcase of the fervent avant-garde creativity behind Monster Magnet’s music pathway.

Leaves’ Eyes – Symphonies Of The Night

Leaves’ Eyes comes back to please once again the gigantic worldwide fanbase that has been conquered through years of constant hard work. The latest full length entitled “Symphonies Of The Night” is meant to make everybody happy as it holds the undisputable musical strength that comes with experience and maturity.
“Hell To The Heavens” is the audacious opening track that you would expect. In terms of musical direction here you get the infamous beauty & beast duet and the trademark rhythm of symphonic metal. This album gets also a bunch of bonus points for the lyrics concerning lots of fascinating historical and mythological themes.
“Maid Of Lorraine” is particularly interesting for the lyrical subject referring to an ancient prophecy. The main musical core gets a little heavier with steady guitar riffs but the true strength comes from the folk attitude that influences the keyboards and the vocal style.
Yet, “Galswintha” is the one song that emphasizes the band’s folk nature to the maximum with graceful flutes and acoustic arpeggios. Also, the band manages to make space for some groovier power metal guitar patterns.
The title track is a successful effort to combine harmoniously the grandeur of operatic vocals and the catchy vibe of an unpretentious gothic rock theme. Besides being flawlessly executed, this song has a strong chorus that you can’t get out of your mind.
“Saint Cecelia” is more than just a song as it revolves around one of the most majestic vocal performances in Liv Kristine’s career. Without any guitars or drums, you can fully appreciate and embrace Liv’s powerful yet elegantly frail voice, and obviously the sumptuous keyboards provide a deeply dramatic atmosphere that further enhances her notorious vocal skills.
In such a heterogeneous album, it’s obvious to feel a great deal of attraction for a more romantic/tragic tune like “Angel And The Ghost” which shines for another outstanding intense vocal performance by Liv Kristine. And if you find yourself stuck in that dramatic mood, you will fall in love with the absolutely elegant violins that surround Liv’s angelic voice on “Nightshade”.
Like the previous releases, “Symphonies Of The Night” will bring nothing but joy and delight to Liv Kristine’s faithful fans and might even conquer more hearts wandering out there.

Monster Magnet – Last Patrol

Monster Magnet’s latest release entitled “Last Patrol” is not just another stoner rock album. Maybe it’s the witty lyrics, the true passion for music or the “don’t give a damn about trendy stuff that sells” attitude that makes a real difference. Once again, Mr. Wyndorf & co. just go out there and jam like there’s no tomorrow, and you can always feel it.
As soon as you listen to the album opener “I Live Behind The Clouds” you start spacing out, irrationally perhaps, but you can’t help it. The melody is sweet and peaceful, a bit deceiving at first, the mood is sorrowful thanks to Wyndorf’s dirty lunatic vocals. Even when the drums kick in a certain feeling of impending perdition lingers on.
The titletrack shows that as much as every note feels spontaneously groovy, this is a bitter thoughtful song. It is fundamental to stress the perfection of the guitar sound rightfully dwelling in the dreamy realm of psychedelic rock (pay attention to some extra psychedelic magic lurking in the background). An impressive and super groovy guitar solo and a blissful rage in the vocals make this song a must have. Of course, the tempo changes, the emotionally trippy breakdown that melts into a wild jam (which seems to go on forever just like an auditory hallucination) and the top notch production must no be taken lightly.
Wyndorf takes the role of an ascetic storyteller on “Three Kingfishers”. You can hear classic Black Sabbath dark aura lingering on the acoustic melody. But, again, it’s the guitars building an unforgettable groove that violently pull you into a kaleidoscopic vortex.
“Mindless Ones” is an ensemble of fine stoner rock riffs and wasted rocker attitude. Besides the super-duper groove that induces dancing and screaming, the highlight here is Wyndorf’s performance all raspy and raw in classic Monster Magnet’s style. Savor every guitar solo because this type of lustful enthusiasm for music is becoming a rarity.
“The Duke (Of Supernature)” has a sexy rock ‘n roll attitude that makes you feel like smoking weed staring (and eventually spacing out once more) at the sunset. There’s also a bittersweet romantic mood in the round of acoustic arpeggios. And when dirty distortion kicks in all those guitars’ shreds keep on playing tricks on your mind.
Seriously, who could ever resist Mr. Dave Wyndorf’s power tripping charm? Do yourself a favor, set “Last Patrol” in loop, for good measure, and space out without regrets, you know that there’s nothing interesting going on out there anyways.

Paradise Lost – Tragic Illusion 25 (The Rarities)

It’s time to get all emotional and nostalgic because another great band is celebrating the 25th anniversary. Not many bands can achieve so much and Paradise Lost being pioneers of gothic metal can certainly brag about such an awesome career. “Tragic Illusion 25 (The Rarities)” is a compilation of previously released rare songs and a new one chosen to commemorate this important anniversary.
“Loneliness Remains” is definitely an iconic gothic metal track that recalls the early band’s realeses. Besides the doom attitude on the guitar riffs and solo, here you will find the heavily decadent sound of gothic and the obviously desperate gloomy atmosphere.
The cover of “Never Take Me Alive” by Spear Of Destiny has instead a different musical approach much closer to the modern sound of Paradise Lost. It’s an easy song that sounds like a semi ballad mainly with clean vocals and less gothic decadence.
“Last Regret” and “Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us” caught my attention right away because they’re both orchestra mixes. So, you definitely get what you expect as these great classic melodies are totally turned upside down and reinterpreted by a real full orchestra with all the instrumental variety and elegant execution.
“Cardinal Zero” comes as a reality check, bringing back the heavy gloom of typical Paradise Lost guitar riffs and of course that agonizing sadness that we all love and need.
If you crave for more somber feelings you will appreciate “Godless” filled with the slow ominous atmosphere of something tragic, and possibly very dark, coming right at you.
Another odd cover is “Missing” by Everything But The Girl which sounds way too hopeful with potential sunshine or something like that, nevertheless it’s all about cute easy melodies and playful experimentation.
The unforgettable classic newly recorded, “Gothic 2013” effortlessly maintains the same true gothic attitude and rainy day sadness but obviously the sound is less raw and more polished compared to the original.
“Tragic Illusion 25 (The Rarities)” is a sweet treat for the band’s strong fanbase but the newbies out there can certainly enjoy it as well.

The Vintage Caravan – Voyage

The first thing that inevitably comes to mind when you listen to The Vintage Caravan’s “Voyage” is that this album cannot be the work of three extremely young guys. It’s hard to believe, yet here we are tripping in awe with a bunch of songs that constantly show mature musicianship and bright ideas. In terms of genre, The Vintage Caravan relies on a psychedelic retro rock sound that delivers a romantic and exceptionally nostalgic taste for a long gone golden era of rock. But aren’t them too young to drown full speed inside the realm of nostalgia?
“Craving” is full of spontaneous energy with an addictive guitar riff. This opening track shows right away that The Vintage Caravan has perfectly developed a personal take on 70’s classic rock and an absolutely professional sound.
Listening to “Expand Your Mind” you fully comprehend that this trio can jam in style. The guitar solo here is absolutely stunning with groovy classical rock licks flying right through a psychedelic trip that will make you space out wherever you are. The rhythm here comes straight from the 70’s with a vengeance and the vocals reincarnate the true rocker’s delivery.
“M.A.R.S.W.A.T.T.” is another catchy tune that just brings you another blast of groovy guitar riffs and the bass line on the breakdown is just a wonderful treat.
“Cocaine Sally” could have been written and performed by a group of rockers pondering the meaning of life while recalling all those wasted years. The ensemble of bluesy rock riffs over a super fun rhythm is certainly a winning choice.
“Winterland” offers another side of the band’s musical pathway. This is an extremely melancholic song with an icy cold atmosphere attenuated by soothing smooth vocals and a sudden blast of amazing psychedelic distorted guitars.
If you fancy a true mind warping trip, then the final track “The Kings Voyage” is your cup of tea. Through what appears to be an endless array of style and tempo changes, this is a creative and challenging interpretation of the band’s musical inspiration.
In the end, besides the absolute realization that this Icelandic band’s name in more than appropriate as every stylistic detail on this album is purely vintage, we can’t deny that “Voyage” hits the spot if you’re hungry for whatever got lost while the hourglass was running out of sand.