Albums / Year

Albums 2020

Artist : Telergy

Album : Black Swallow

Release Date : 23-07-2020

Added : 22-09-2020

I had discovered the 'Telergy' project of 'Robert McClung' with his latest concept album 'Hypathia' and 2020 sees the release of a new studio recording to measure (I should say the excess) of the previous one since if you look at the guests for 'Black Swallow', once again, he surrounded himself with an impressive number of artists from different musical scenes (see below) and whose you have the list on his site with their respective projects here. This new baby, from a long gestation of five years tells the story of a great American hero, 'Eugene Ballard', the first African-American fighter pilot of the First World War and part of the funds raised by the Sales of the album will go to the 'Wounded Warrior Project' which is an association that supports veterans and service members who have been physically injured or have post-traumatic stress.

Musically, given the diversity of the guest artists, 'Robert McClung' has concocted a kind of work for us that goes far beyond a particular style with ten tracks almost all instrumental that contain multiple influences and with an integration of spoken passages between each musical composition to be able to follow the story. The long progressive development 'Georgia' which begins the album takes us on a progressive saga containing all kinds of ambience ranging from country to gospel through rock, hard rock, film music and jazz, all this with very accessible melodic lines and taking into account the diversity of genres, always keeping an overall homogeneity. Impossible to make the title by title so much there would be to say about each one but the great strength of each composition is to mix in a very intelligent way classical music with modern music with a surprising result at each time, the classical instruments and electrics are always used wisely. Of course, the longer titles like 'Infantry', 'Take The Sky' or 'All Blood Runs Reed' are more progressive in the approach with constructions in several drawers which open and reveal themselves one after the other, keeping the listener in suspense from beginning to end. Whether in the instrumental or sung parts accompanied by classical or electric instruments, there are beautiful people and the interpretations often provoke this so characteristic thrill like these choirs in the second part of 'Take to the Sky', very 'Floydiens '(album' Atom Heart Mother ') or this passage from 'Troy Donockley' in 'Infantry' which is followed by a touching part on the violin or this magnificent muffled jazzy atmosphere of 'Marcelle' or even this passage from saxophone in 'Spy' and I could quote quite a few more.

In summary, with this last baby of 'Robert McClung', we are far beyond a simple album release because we can simply speak of a timeless musical work that takes us on a wonderful journey and which shows all the talent of this very complete multi-instrumentalist and composer who brings together several musical worlds for the best and who is a bit of a mix between a 'Hanz Zimmer' and an 'Arjen Anthony Lucassen' (new album tocome soon). 'Black Swallow' is therefore recommended for audiences who like to mix styles that we use to put in opposition (but what nonsense !!) such as classical music and rock or metal music because, in this case , it is this mixture of genres that makes it an exceptional work fill with a great richness. Let’s also hope that ‘Robert McClung’ will one day have the offer us his concepts album into a real show as the two artists mentioned above regularly do...

Line Up / Musicians

Robert McClung (Vocal, Guitar, Bass, Keybords, Flute, Violin, Mandolin, Vocal, Percussions) + Guests : Acteurs : Bryan Hicks (William Bullard), Pete Peterson (Eugene Bullard), Champ Hollins (Eugene jeune), Rev. Robert Thompson (Eulogy preacher, Church goer), Nadine Thompson (Church goer), Emmanuel De Saint Méen (Nightclub MC), Jordan Hall (Attacker 1), Tim Clarck (Attacker 2), Durga McBroom (Marie-Madeleine Fourcade), Lorelei McBroom (Choirs), Lara Smiles (Choirs), Emily Lynn (Choirs), Stephanie Slabon (Choirs), Dustin Brayley (Choirs, Radio newscaster), Martyna Halas-Yates (Growls), Chris Bonito (Drums), Todd Sucherman (Drums), Tony Levin (Bass), Michael Manring (Bass), Steve Di Giorgio (Bass), Tony Dickinson (Bass), Mike LePond (Bass), Pete Trewavas (Bass), Dave Meros (Bass), Caith Threefires (Bass), Charles Cormier (Guitar), Vernon Reid (Guitar), Phil Keaggy (Guitar), Gary Wehrkamp (Guitar), Timo Somers (Guitar), Stephan Lill (Guitar), Andy LaRocque (Guitar), Jimi Bell (Guitar), Jeff Rapsis (Piano), Rachel Flowers (Piano), Jeremy Heussi (Keybords, Organ), Vikram Shankar (Keybords), Basil Bunelik (Accordion), Troy Donockley (Bagpipe), Magic Dick (Harmonica), Tina Guo (Cello), Adam Nunes (Cello), Tim Nunes (Violin), David Ragsdale (Violin), Mattan Klein (Flute), John Cardin (Trompette), Mitchel Bailey (Trombone), Gus Sebring (Cor Anglais), Tracy Crane (Cor Anglais), Chip Brindamour (Tuba), Edie Brindamour (Euphonium), Katrina Veno (Clarinette), Thomas Gimbel (Saxophone ténor), Nils Crusberg (Saxophone alto et ténor), Bryan Campbell (Saxophone bariton)

Artist : Dark Sarah

Album : Grim

Release Date : 17-07-2020

Added : 08-09-2020

We left 'Heidi Parviainen' in 2018 with the last chapter 'The Golden Moth' of the remarkable trilogy 'The Chronicles' and 2020 sees the release of a new story in the land of fairy tales and we therefore find ourself in this fantastic universe with a new heroine 'Luna' who will have to navigate in a mythical world filled with fantastic creatures with of course, in the role of the villain, 'Mörk', who will give her a hard time. Therefore, if you have followed the previous albums, we find ourselves in the same atmosphere and, musically, it is also the case because everything is done to offer us accessible symphonic metal with melodies that we tame immediately. / br>
And as often in this kind of concept album, the scene is set thanks to the symphonic title 'My Name is Luna' with its orchestral atmosphere of a fantastic world which presents the heroine 'Luna', then, 'The Chosen One' takes us, after an introduction with electronic keyboard sounds (reminiscent of Heidi's former band 'Amberian Dawn') in a catchy title with a heady first melody and energetic riffs of guitar, the singing of Heidi remarkably alternating the clear and lyrical registers. With 'Illuminate', which was the subject of a video here, we continue in this melodic and powerful atmosphere with a catchy chorus that is easily embedded in the head, then , 'Melancholia' (see video above) takes over with fairly quick verses which give way to a mid-tempo chorus with a nice calmer section in the 2nd part of the title. Then follows the beautiful ballad 'Iceheart', with intonations from the land of the rising sun, in which 'Heidi Parviainen' once again shows us her talent in calmer compositions and 'La Folie Verte' takes us on a theatrical title with remarkable symphonic instrumental arrangements and once again a very demonstrative interpretation of Heidi. As for 'The Wolf and the Maiden', it is still a potential hit with a beautiful vocal section brought by the duo 'Parviainen'/'Leppäluoto', then, 'The Hex' adds still a hit to the album with a new fairly classic chorus but so effective that won't never leave you. The end of the album is on the same level and offers us an epic 'All Ears!' (See video here) with a marked rhythm, 'The Devil's Peak' between ballad and mid -tempo, the magnificent 'Mörk' which, with more than 7 minutes, is undoubtedly the most original track of the album, mixing epic and theatrical atmospheres and endowed with beautiful melodic lines, and finally 'The Dark Throne' which closes the opus in a calmer atmosphere with a new beautiful and gentle performance by 'Heidi Parviainen' filled with emotion

In summary, this fourth album of 'Dark Sarah' confirms all the good that we thought of them with their previous offerings and the Finns are now an essential formation of so-called 'Cinematographic' metal, mixing symphonic, melodic , theatrical atmospheres and conveying fantastic stories which makes 'Grim' an opus to recommend not only to fans of symphonic metal but also to a wider audience of metal loving beautiful fairy tales and an accessible metal...

Line Up / Musicians

Heidi Parviainen (Vocal), Sami-Petri Salonen (Guitar), Erkka Korhonen (Guitar), Rude Rothstén (Bass), Thomas Tunkkari (Drums) + Guests : Juha-Pekka Leppäluoto (Vocal), Jasse Jatala (Vocal)

Artist : Kansas

Album : The Absence Of Presence

Release Date : 17-07-2020

Added : 09-09-2020

After the sumptuous live 'Leftoverture Live & Beyond' in 2017 which was a kind of time machine with the best of this formation in the 70s, it's a new album that the Americans of 'Kansas' offer us with 'The Absence Of Presence' which continues to remind us of the 'Kansas' of yesteryear with the melodic violin lines so characteristic of this formation and 'Ronnie Platt' on the vocals which is in the same register as 'Steve Walsh' who released a solo album, 'Black Butterfly' in 2017.

And from the first bars of 'The Absence of Presence', the violin of 'David Ragsdale' gives us a 'Kansas' sound followed by characteristic keyboard sounds and we tell ourselves that we are off to a good start with a long original development that unfolds a quiet mid-tempo with a beautiful harmonious melody reminiscent of the 'Kansas' touch with an irreproachable production, then 'Throwing Mountains' continues on this way all traced with a more rock sound but still in the style so characteristic of the Americans just like the following title 'Jets Overhead' with still melodic lines accompanied by the violin that make us go back to titles of 'Point Of Know Return'. After the instrumental 'Propulsion 1', filled with positive energy and with a great performance in the rhythm section of one of the 2 survivors of the time 'Steve Walsh', I named 'Phil Ehart', 'Memories Down the Line' takes us on a wonderful ballad in a style that could be a mix between early' Kansas' and 'Barclay James Harvest', then, 'Circus of Illusion' is certainly the most progressive track with originals arrangements which certainly make it the most distant title from the band's style, although the violin reminds us that we are in a 'Kansas' album. The rest of the album continues to rock us to the rhythm of timeless melodies fueling this nostalgia for the seventies with first the catchy 'Circus of Illusion' and 'Animals on the Roof' with its delicious chorus, then 'Never' takes us on board. for a magnificent melancholic ballad with a melody which is embedded immediately in your head, the opus ending with 'The Song The River Sang' composed and sung by the keyboardist 'Tom Brislin' with a catchy tempo and a light atmosphere s' moving away from the historical style of 'Kansas' and which has an instrumental finale in crescendo which ends abruptly and which may suggest an upcoming sequel for this album.

In summary, as you will understand, this new 'Kansas' is a total delight that takes us back a few decades, all this with a modern sound and an irreproachable production which destines 'The Absence Of Presence', beyond the imposing base of historical fans to a large audience because all these very accessible melodies have something timeless that goes beyond fashions and different musical trends...

Line Up / Musicians

Ronnie Platt (Vocal, Keybords), David Ragsdale (Guitar, Violin), Billy Greer (Bass), Rich Williams (Guitar), Tom Brislin (Keybords), Zak Rizvi (Guitar), Phil Ehart (Drums)

Artist : Lonely Robot

Album : Feelings Are Good

Release Date : 17-07-2020

Added : 18-09-2020

Not only, 'John Mitchell' take part in a good number of progressive rock projects (search for his name in mypromusic) but in addition, with 'Lonely Robot' he records albums with an impressive frequency because, after his trilogy with 'Please Come Home' in 2015, 'The Big Dream' in 2017 and 'Under Stars' in 2019, 2020 sees the release of 'Feelings Are Good'. In addition, this new baby is well supplied because he offers us an hour of music and John provides, in addition of singing, almost all the instruments except the rhythm section which is devoted to 'Graig Blundell'.

The eponymous track of the album sets the scene with electronic sounds and 'Into the Lo-Fi' which follows takes us on a light rhythm in a hopping style that can recall the end of the 70s with the formation of 'Sting',
'Police' with obviously a modern sound, then 'Spider' hardens the tone for a more rock track with magnificent changes of intensity and with very original melodic lines which upset traditional patterns. Change of atmosphere with 'Crystalline' which is a magnificent ballad, very sober, which puts us on a little cloud and which is taken up at the end of the album in orchestral version, the classical instruments certainly bringing more heat, then, 'Life Is a Sine Way' continues in this line of a sought-after progressive from the 70s close to 'Genesis', 'Graig Blundell' providing a rhythm section quite close to a certain 'Phil Collins' and has a very 'Floydian' beautiful final. With 'Armor For My Heart', the light and soothing pop rock style lulls us to the rhythm of a very beautiful swaying melody, then 'Suburbia' has a 'Supertramp' side but in much more progressive with an imaginative rhythm section that brings the little more that sublimates this title. The second break is brought by 'Silent Life', filled with emotion thanks to the soft voice of 'John Mitchell' which fills the whole space and thanks to the guitar solo, the title being resumed in orchestral version in the bonuses, then, 'Keeping People As Pets', after an introduction with electronic sounds, is more classic in its structure and less progressive, taking us back to the 90s with effects in the vocals and 'Army Of One' is, for my part, the most addicting track , alternating calm and interior storm very well rendered by the singing of John which transmits all kinds of emotions to us, the album ending with the short clean acoustic 'Grief Is The Price Of Love' with the beautiful and sweet voice of 'John Mitchell' which accompanies us one last time.

In summary, with this new album from the English 'Lonely Robot', 'John Mitchell' continues to offer us imaginative and refined progressive with, icing on the cake, an irreproachable production, which should appeal to all those who liked the first episodes in space and, beyond, all the amateurs of an accessible melodic progressive rock which is tasted even better, quietly, with headphones...

Line Up / Musicians

John Mitchell (Vocal, Guitar, Keybords, Bass), Lian Holmes (Keybords), Steve Vantsis (Bass), Graig Blundell (Drums)

Artist : Pretenders

Album : Hate for Sale

Release Date : 17-07-2020

Added : 19-09-2020

After 'Alone' released in 2016, the group 'Pretenders', always led by the talented 'Chrissie Hynde', who is slowly approaching 70 years (it's not good to mention the age of the ladies, but here we can’t do otherwise for the one who was, for a whole generation of the 80s, the symbol of the sexy rocker and who is worn like a charm 40 short years later!) returns to the forefront with 'Hate for Sale' which continues to enchant us with direct and effective titles and it feels good, these days, to have this type of music to put between our ears, the only objective being to enjoy listening to this style so characteristic of late seventies rock.

For this album the songwriting was done in collaboration between 'Chrissie Hynde' and her guitarist 'James Walbourne' and 'Dan Auerbach', with the production restarting the time machine, at the time of the first two albums and the band of friends, it's true, a little crazy but who had released two jewels at the time with compositions without frills but so timeless. So, for all those who have known this period and still have the 33rpm of the group's eponymous album or 'Learning to Crawl'from1983 but also for all fans of a direct and efficient rock, how to remain unmoved by listening to songs like the energetic 'Hate for Sale' which inevitably makes us force the decibels or 'Turf Accountant Daddy' which, for my part, gives me chills, so much we are close to the beginnings of the group, or 'I Didn' t Know When To Stop', short but incredibly effective with its few harmonica notes, or even 'Didn't Want To Be This Lonely' and its swaying rhythm typical of the late seventies, a bit like the title 'Don't Let Me Wrong' from the album 'Get Close'. And when the rhythm wants to be quieter, if you are insensitive to the mid-tempo 'The Buzz' and its addictive melody or to 'Lightning Man' and its reggae tempo or to the lively 'Maybe Love Is In NYC', this is that you are not cut out for this style of music. So, in that case, listen to the two ballads You Can’t Hurt a Fool ’and Crying In Public’, each with a special vibe but both showcasing Chrissie's sensitive voice. Note that you can also listen on their channel you tube magnificent covers of 'Bob Dylan' with beautiful videos like for example 'Standing In the Doorway'.

In summary, the 'Pretenders' are back for the better and continue their journey by offering us a new album in the great tradition of direct rock from the 80s and 'Hate for Sale' is at advise, not only to historical fans but to a much larger audience, and why not, to introduce to the youngest, this beautiful rocker who at 68 years old, still has incroyable energy that she knows so well how to transmit to her audience...

Line Up / Musicians

Chrissie Hynde (Vocal, Guitar, Harmonica), James Walbourne (Guitar), Nick Wilkinson (Bass), Martin Chambers (Drums)

Artist : Pinnacle Point

Album : Symphony of Mind

Release Date : 17-07-2020

Added : 20-09-2020

After 'Kansas' who have just released a new album 'The Absence Of Presence' the same day, it's the turn of the formation 'Pinnacle Point' (created a few years by American keyboardist and singer 'Jerome Mazza' who also released a solo album 'Outlaw Son' in 2018 and Danish guitarist 'Torben Enevoldsen'), to release their second album 'Symphony of Mind', their first opus 'Winds of Change' being released in 2017. I'm talking about 'Kansas' because, it is quite obvious, the influences of the Americans are felt in most of the titles, this being due, on the one hand to the singing of 'Jerome Mazza' which is close to the singing of 'Steve Walsh' (and moreover Jerome was invited to sing with the American on his album solo 'Black Butterfly' ) but also due also by violin accompaniments of 'Valeria Pozharitskaya'.

It is first of all a well-supplied album that ‘Pinnacle Point’ offers us, since we have at our disposal 1 hour and 6 minutes of listening in 12 compositions ranging between 3 to 7 minutes. The instrumental 'Ascent to the Point' launches the album which takes us back to the progressive of the 70s with characteristic keyboard tones and the violin which gives that first impression of being in the known register of 'Kansas' (isn't it a title with a nod to the' Point of Know Return'?), but, it is the singing of' Jerome Mazza 'which further accentuates this resemblance, the melodic lines and the symphonic atmosphere being particularly close also to the Americans one, the progressive side being slightly more pushed, the instrumental passages being a little more developed, then, the leading 'Weight of the World' is much closer to hard rock by keeping this vintage side with eighties choirs. 'Hero' returns to melodic symphonic rock with violin re-appearing of 'Valeria Pozharitskaya' and with 'Jerome Mazza' vocals so close to 'Steve Walsh', then, 'Never Surrender' is more in a classic AOR register close to 'Toto' or 'Asia' and 'In the Wake of Hope' is a kind of mix between beautiful instrumental parts à la 'Kansas' and sung parts of a melodic rock from the 70s close to 'Foreigner'. The second part of the album offers us the beautiful melody of 'Shadows of Peace' in a refined symphonic atmosphere which makes it for me one of the titles closest to 'Kansas' of the 70s, the ballad 'Beyond' which takes us in a quiet and serene journey, filled with emotion, then 'Nothing at All' continues in this melancholy register in the manner of the magnificent 'Nobody's Home' from the album 'Point of Know Return' of 1977 and 'Prodigal' is a little more contrasted between energy, brought by a catchier rhythm in certain places and melancholy, thanks to the accompaniment of the violin, tending towards an imaginative progressive all the more as the melodic lines are more contemporary. And it is with first of all the eponymous title of the album, a magnificent symphonic fresco à la 'Kansas' and then, 'Dangerous', remarkable progressive title alternating softness and energy that the album ends.

In summary, this latest album from 'Pinnacle Point' is in every way remarkable and takes us back to sophisticated and imaginative '70s symphonic and progressive rock with a clear parallel to' Kansas' and 'Symphony of Mind' is recommended for a fairly large audience who like symphonic rock, taking us back a few decades...

Line Up / Musicians

Jerome Mazza (Vocal, Choirs, Keybords), Torben Enevoldsen (Guitar, Keybords), Rich Ayala (Guitar, Choirs), Valeria Pozharitskaya (Violin), Mark Prator (Drums), Takeaki Itoh (Bass), Howard Helm (Keybords), John F Rodgers (Piano, Cordes)

Artist : Haken

Album : Virus

Release Date : 17-07-2020

Added : 21-09-2020

In the field of progressive metal, the English of 'Haken' have forged a good reputation and each new album is always a surprise to discover but, for this new opus, 'Virus', released during this year a little special with everything that we have known with the COVID-19, the title is ultimately only a pure coincidence with the health crisis and takes us back into the world of this band which, release after release, renews a little more the progressive musical landscape by exploring new horizons a bit like 'Leprous', 'Opeth' or 'Pain of Salvation' (new review to come).

The cover, very close to 'Vector' certainly shows that we are in the continuity of the previous recording and it starts strong, with 'Prostheric' which beats up severe from the introduction, then, we are embarked in a captivating atmosphere with a rhythm section of 'Ray Hearne' worthy of a certain 'Mike Portnoy' which prints an always very fluctuating rhythm, following the guitar riffs which gives everything its strength to this title. And after so much energy, the whole of the 2 tracks 'The Strain' / 'Canary Yellow', even if the first remains energetic at the level of the rhythm section, is more affordable at the melodic level and allows a few beneficial moments of recovery in the second part, all this probably being to prepare us kindly for the main course of the album. Indeed, the last 19 minutes are reserved for the suite 'Messiah Complex' which hooks from 'Ovory Tower' with its atmosphere close to 'Leprous' and which has one of the most accessible melodies of the album, then we find with 'A Glutton for Punishment' the 'Haken' which takes us on unbridled sound paths more difficult to tame but of an overflowing imagination, which we find again on the following titles with the short 'Marigold' which, cut in two, explodes in a contemporary surge in the second part and constitutes for me, the same counterpart between melodic and progressive metal that we have known between classical and contemporary music at the end of the second world war, 'The Sect' continuing in this style with a remarkable part sung almost a capella which rubs shoulders with powerful guitar riffs, the rhythm section still playing a preponderant role, often marking all times. The album ends with, first of all, the last chapter of this brilliant sequel, 'Ecobius Rex' with an epic and powerful finale and more accessible melodic lines and finally, the calm and stripped down 'Only Stars' which constitutes a magnificent end while relaxing after all these tensions and which comes at the right time to come back to reality, as if we were coming out of a waking dream.

In summary, this new 'Haken' shows once again all that overflowing imagination, making the English progressive metal pioneers and which will undoubtedly make 'Virus' an essential album in the discography of any lover of this style as were the first albums of 'Dream Theater' or 'Porcupine Tree', but the other side of the coin, which will necessarily be limited to an informed audience...

Line Up / Musicians

Charlie Griffiths (Guitar), Ross Jennings (Vocal), Richard Henshall (Guitar), Diego Tejeida (Keybords), Conner Green (Bass), Ray Hearne (Drums)

Artist : Fatal Fusion

Album : Dissonant Minds

Release Date : 10-07-2020

Added : 03-09-2020

Lovers of progressive 70s with long developments that are slowly tamed, listening after listening, you are in the right place with the last album of the Norwegians of 'Fatal Fusion', 'Dissonant Minds', which brings their discography to 4 studio recordings after 'Land of the Sun' in 2010 nominated for the Prog Awards, 'The Ancient Tales' in 2013 and 'Total Absence' in 2016.

Less long than its predecessors, it is nonetheless remarkable with only 4 titles but with 2 long developments which together total more than thirty minutes of listening. With 'Coming Forth by Day', we are embarked on a first very seventies progressive saga with multiple influences and atmospheres, ranging from keyboards close to 'ELP' to a Hispano-oriental acoustic melody, through a sweet melody close to 'BJH' and muscular in some places close to 'Deep Purple' ('Knut Erik Grøntvedt' having a voice of hard-rock bands singers) and with a final whose melodic lines settle permanently in the head and ends with a remarkable fade out leaving 'Knut Erik Grøntvedt' whispering lyrics accompanied by some piano notes. Follows 'Quo Vadimus', which, in less than eight minutes, contains different atmospheres with a rhythm that remains energetic throughout the title and with many changes of tempos, the Hammond organ twirling in the manner of the late 'Jon Lord', then, the ballad break is brought by the instrumental 'Beneath The Syndrom' in the form of a slow procession highlighting layers of keyboards and having an epic and baroque finale with percussions reminiscent of the bolero of 'Ravel'. And that's with the longest title, 'Broken Man pt. 2' (which is the second part of 'Broken Man' appearing in the 'Norwegians' debut album) that the album ends by offering us a new imaginative progressive fresco in several drawers exploring various and varied influences with melodic lines always accessible and with finale which give an irresistible desire, the last note passed, to press the play button again.

In summary, it is still a very beautiful album that the Norwegians of 'Fatal Fusion' offer us with everything that the amateur of long progressive developments likes to find in this kind of music, originality, imagination and beautiful melodic lines that we appropriate, little by little, listening after listening...

Line Up / Musicians

Knut Erik Grøntvedt (Vocal), Erlend Engebretsen (Keybords), Stig Selnes (Guitar), Lasse Lie (Bass), Audun Engebretsen (Drums)

Artist : Tokyo Motor Fist

Album : Lions

Release Date : 10-07-2020

Added : 04-09-2020

After 'Tokyo Motor Fist' dating from 2017, the Americans of 'Tokyo Motor Fist' are releasing a new album, 'Lions' in the continuity of the previous one with everything we want to find in a good melodic hard-rock straight out of the 80s/90s and listening to the first tracks, we actually find ourselves a few decades back with a certain group, 'Def Leppard' and simple but hyper effective melodies embellished superb choirs.

'Lions' therefore brings together all the ingredients to have a good time with heady melodies that never leave you, starting with a 'Youngblood' and its super effective chorus, then the backing vocals of 'Monster In Me' which adds a layer and the energetic 'Around Midnight' continues in this all traced way, just like 'Mean It' which brings us back to the melodies and backing vocals of 'Def Leppard'. The first ballad break arrives with the eponymous title of the album with the participation of the keyboardist 'Dennis Deyoung' from 'Styx' and who has just released a new solo album ’26 East, Vol. 1’ bringing a symphonic side, then, it is left with very good hard-rock, simple but so effective, with 'Decadence on 10th Street', and the rest of the album takes us through the remarkable mid-tempo 'Dream You Heart Out', reminiscent of 'Asia', the melodic AOR 'Blow Your Mind' to make an entire audience sing, a lively 'Sedona' on which we can’t help but stomp to mark the tempo, the luminous 'Look Into Me' with a new heady chorus, the album ending with the melodic jewel 'Winner Takes All' with a last chorus which stays etched in your head.

In summary, without surprise, the Americans of 'Tokyo Motor Fist' are releasing a new album filled with good melodic hard-rock to be consumed without moderation and accessible to a general public adept of this style which has been popularized in the 80s by formations like 'Def Leppard'...

Line Up / Musicians

Steve Brown (Vocal, Guitars), Ted Poley (Vocal), Greg Smith (Bass), Chuck Burgi (Drums) + Guests : Dennis Deyoung (Keybords, Chœurs), Mark Rivera (Saxophone)

Artist : Alizarin

Album : The Last Semblance

Release Date : 10-07-2020

Added : 05-09-2020

'Alizarin' is the project of the American 'Josh Kay' who released in 2018 a first fully instrumental studio recording and which evolves between rock and progressive metal with jazzy forays with the use of keyboards in all its forms which makes an original group and apart in the progressive musical landscape. With this new opus 'The Last Semblance', 'Josh Kay' adds his voice to all the titles which, to read some reviews, does not please everyone, and it is true that the great strength of this formation is the instrumental side which is still well put forward in 'The Last Semblance'.

8 tracks for nearly an hour of listening, this is the menu of this opus which begins with 'Elegy Simulacra' which borders on 8 minutes and already shows several facets, a fairly classic sung first part, then a jazzy interlude in which comes a 'Gilmourian' guitar. Follows 'Fathom' in a darker style in the form of a mid-tempo with a final highlighting the keyboards of 'Avelino Ramirez', then 'A Wreath of Temperance' opens in a disturbing atmosphere, then, hardens the tone with a more energetic part which contains here and there jazz sounds. Despite a clean acoustic introduction, 'Velvet Margin' exudes the same atmosphere as its predecessor but with more harmonious melodic lines and 'Heirloom' once again emphasizes the keyboards supported by some guitar riffs making it a more energetic track with a rather melodic refrain. With 'Zero Sum', which has a remarkable instrumental section, we are close to a progressive metal elaborated in the manner of formations like 'Porcupine Tree', then, 'Attenuation' is much more symphonic with keyboards that fill the whole space and the guitar which wants to be less energetic with soft arpeggios and it is with the powerful 'Ivory Silo', in a progressive metal with electronic sounds that the album ends by offering us a remarkable last instrumental section.

In summary, even if the melodic lines of 'Alizarin' are not necessarily very immediate, the fact remains that 'The Last Semblance' is a quality album that should appeal to an audience adept of an elaborate progressive that requires a few listening to appreciate it...

Line Up / Musicians

Josh Kay (Guitar, Vocal), Jon Damon (Drums), Terran Fernandez (Bass, Choirs), Avelino Ramirez (Keybords)

Artist : Shining Black

Album : Shining Black

Release Date : 10-07-2020

Added : 06-09-2020

'Shining Black' is a new formation born from the meeting of two seasoned artists of the metal world, the singer 'Mark Boals' ('Yngwie Malmsteen' , 'Royal Hunt', 'Iron Mask', 'Ring Of Fire') and guitarist 'Ölaf Thorsen' ('Labyrinth') who have always wanted to work together and so it's done with this first album of the name of the project. By the way, the rest of the line up is all part of 'Labyrinth', keyboardist 'Oleg Smirnoff', bassist 'Nik Mazzucconi' and drummer 'Matt Peruzzi', but it would be very reductive to limit 'Shining Black' to a pale copy of 'Labryrinth' because this new project is more focused on accessible melodic metal in a moderate style while remaining powerful, the keyboards playing an important role and the guitar riffs often being there to set the tempo.

It is this feeling that dominates from the opening title 'The House Of The Fallen Souls' with a first melody that immediately hooks and with a first beautiful vocal performance of 'Mark Boals' whose style goes perfectly with this kind of compositions. With 'Boogeyman', the tempos accelerates slightly but remains very measured with a new very classical but very effective melody and with a remarkable guitar solo by 'Ölaf Thorsen', then, 'My Life', with a faster tempo, continues in the same atmosphere as its predecessor. The first power ballad break is brought by a remarkable 'A Sad Song' with a quicker central part, then, the eponymous title of the project continues in a melodic mid-tempo reminiscent of the melodic lines of the 80s, just like 'Just Another Day 'which is in the same register with a heady chorus. The end of the album scrolls through unstoppable melodies with an energetic 'Where Are Your Gods', the catchy 'The Caroussel', the second ballad 'The Day We Said Goodbye' just as remarkable as the first and to add to the best metal ballads and finally a classic but nevertheless very effective 'The Fall'.

In summary, even if it does not revolutionize melodic metal, 'Shining Black' is a very pleasant album to listen to and the duo 'Mark Boals' / 'Ölaf Thorsen' offers us a new project which should be good welcomed by all lovers of a classic melodic metal which is born at the end of the 70s...

Line Up / Musicians

Mark Boals (Vocal), Ölaf Thorsen (Guitar), Oleg Smirnoff (Keybords), Nik Mazzucconi (Bass), Matt Peruzzi (Drums)

Artist : Choruscant

Album : A Christmas Carol

Release Date : 08-07-2020

Added : 17-09-2020

After the Polish 'Ryszard Kramarski' who in 2019 released an album on the tale 'A Christmas Carol' written by 'Charles Dickens' (see here ), it's now Italians from 'Choruscant' to offer us 'A Christmas Carol' which is their first studio recording. Born from the ashes of the formation 'Severed Garden' ('JoeleTurchi' and 'Leo Cornacchia' not part of it at the time), active between 2011 and 2015 which was a progressive project, it's only five years later than the Italians release their first album, after a long gestation, because some texts have already been written during the 'Severed Garden' period. In a theatrical, original and imaginative atmosphere, in 15 compositions which fit into each other with quite different durations between them (small interludes alongside long developments for a total duration of more than 1 hour and 20 minutes ), they tell us the story of 'Mr Scrooge' featuring a symphonic progressive close to musicals with very various influences from major progressive formations from the 70s to the present day.

We are greeted by street noises and the bells of Big Ben (remember 'Clock Strikes Ten' from 'Cheap Trick') which transform quite quickly into a symphonic instrumental introduction which introduces us to this story through an accessible orchestral atmosphere with a first guitar solo which brings the first sung title 'To Begin With', setting the scene for 'A Christmas Carol 'in a very expressive and burlesque way, then, the next composition 'Scrooge', takes up at the beginning this climate and turns into a progressive title with several drawers, mixing styles quite distant from each other (energetic progressive parts alongside atmospheres Christmas), but forming a very coherent whole and, with 'Marley (Seven Years Later)', the theatricality of the title and the incursions between contemporary music and jazz music is certainly harder to approach but make it one of the titles more originals of the album. It is with 'The Ghost of Christmas Past' that we hold the masterpiece of the album, over 22 minutes that take us on a journey into a universe in which multiple different atmospheres and feelings follow one another with multiple influences which makes it a composition of an incredible density which is revealed gradually and obviously requires several plays to appropriate it completely. The following 8 titles, put end to end, have about the same duration as 'The Ghost of Christmas Past', and it is with 'The Ghost of Christmas Present', in a catchy Christmas atmosphere that this sequel begins, leaving the place to 'The Torch' which is a short acoustic guitar/voice interlude, then 'Cratchit's Dwelling' reintroduces a refined and quiet progressive, followed by 'A Christmas Eve' which brings a folk touch with its marked rhythm and the use of violin accentuating an atmosphere close to 'Kansas'. Follows 'Ignorance and Want', slightly more rock, embellished by beautiful sections of electric guitar, the very short and expressive 'Midnight', then 'The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come' hardens the tone in a disturbing atmosphere punctuated by heavy guitar riffs and 'The Death of an Old Man' continue in a theatrical atmosphere unfolding the rest of the story, 'Joele Turchi' continuing to enchant us with his very expressive interpretation. It is with two long developments that the album ends, first of all, 'An Uncertain Future' which follows without transition the previous title by returning to a more serene atmosphere with a first part, a quiet piano/voice, followed by a more energetic symphonic passage, the tone hardening in the second part, and finally, 'The End of It' which closes the story with an introduction in the same folk theme as 'A Christmas Eve', then which unrolls a refined and melodic progressive, while keeping this remarkable demonstrative sense and which has an epic finale with very beautiful melodic lines which remain engraved in your head and recall the musical theme of the beginning.

In summary, the Italians of 'Choruscant' are releasing a quality concept album which offers us a progressive which dares to do things differently and which should appeal to an audience who like concept albums telling a story and who like to tame a progressive musical work , little by little, listen after listen...

Line Up / Musicians

Joele Turchi (Vocal), Giorgio Manca (Guitar), Ivan Di Sipio (Keybords), Davide Di Camillo (Bass), Leo Cornacchia (Drums)

Artist : Osta Love

Album : About Time

Release Date : 03-07-2020

Added : 02-09-2020

'Osta Love' is a German project created by a duo, the multi-instrumentalist and singer 'Tobias Geberth' and the drummer 'Leon Ackermann'. They released at the beginning of July a new album 'About Time', their previous opus, 'Good Morning Dystopia' dating from 2013 and 'The Isles Of Dogs' from 2015. Classified in progressive, this latest baby explores different styles ranging from pop to energetic rock with melodic lines that are quickly tamed.

The album begins smoothly with 'We Can Do It Again', a very beautiful popist melody close to the 'Beatles', then, 'Oscillating' brings a more progressive component with a more varied rhythm and keyboard sounds which can make think about 'Pink Floyd', and 'Desert Shufle' returns to a harmonious pop with some jazzy incursions. With 'Moth To A Flame', the muscular introduction gives way to a catchy melody in an art rock style close to 'David Bowie', and 'Nights Of Aphelion' is a very beautiful melancholy ballad which is followed by an another ballad, 'The Waters Of The Nils', but this time closer to the psychedelic of the 'Floyds' with 'Gilmourian' guitars sounds and a very nice acoustic instrumental section. Total change of register with 'Amethyst Deceiver' which begins with a funky rhythmic and which continues in an imaginative and very original progressive development in which several quite different parts follow one another by forming a very beautiful whole and which has a remarkable finale for any progressive amateur. The album ends, as it started, very smoothly, with the semi-acoustic 'About Time' and with, one last time, the vocals of 'Tobias Geberth' which gently rock us.

In summary, with this new album from the Germans of 'Osta Love', the 2020 summer still brought us beautiful compositions in a calm and refined progressive style, between pop and rock, and 'About Time' is recommended to an audience navigating between pop and rock and appreciating accessible melodic lines...

Line Up / Musicians

Tobias Geberth (Guitar, Vocal, Keybords, Bass), Leon Ackermann (Drums, drums, Percussions)

Artist : Acute Mind

Album : Under The Empty Sky

Release Date : 03-07-2020

Added : 16-09-2020

'Acute Mind' is a Polish formation which had released a first eponymous album of the group in 2010, then nothing at all until this new opus 'Under The Empty Sky' released in early July 2020. Tagged in progressive metal, they have a style approaching one of my favorite groups, 'Threshold' which, although tagged metal, for me, mixes rock and progressive metal which is also the same case for the Poles.

'Shine Of Your Soul' begins the album with an energetic first part and with an unbridled rhythm that alternates with calmer passages then, the second part has a remarkable instrumental section leading to the end, first sung, then ending with a beautiful guitar solo. With 'Clouded Eyes' we are closer to the progressive rock of a group like 'Arena', the guitar riffs being always present but without any aggressiveness and with melodic lines that are tamed very easily. It is with the introduction 'Daddy' that we return to the power of metal but always with these magnificent alternations between tension and relaxation, the small interlude with recordings of vocals leading to a very beautiful 'Floydienne' section, the continuation returning to the original theme and it is in this kind of title that the parallel with 'Threshold' is most appropriate. Without transition, 'Hope from the Heart' there is no longer any question of progressive metal because it is a remarkable ballad in the style of 'RPWL' which rises in crescendo in the second part to start, then the eponymous title of the album, quite short but very catchy, is more direct and unfolds beautiful melodic lines. It's yet another complete change of mood with 'It's Not Me', a composition that begins as a ballad with very beautiful orchestral arrangements of 'Michał Mierzejewski' and with a chorus that never let you go, and the second part, entirely instrumental , accelerates the rhythm and gives us a very nice guitar solo. We come back to a more classic style with 'I Need You' which moves away from the progressive and flirts with quiet pop, then, the rest of the album hardens again with first of all 'The Same Again' in a powerful progressive metal which can recall the style of the new supergroup 'Suns Of Apollo', then 'Kingdom' which tends towards an energetic industrial metal while keeping accessible melodic lines.

In summary, the Poles of Acute Mind 'are back on the front of the stage with a varied progressive album, alternating different styles that destines 'Under The Empty Sky' to a public loving formations like 'Threshold', 'Dream Theater' for the metal side or even 'Arena' for the rock side...

Line Up / Musicians

Marek Majewski (Guitar, Vocal), Arkadiusz Piskorek (Bass, Vocal), Paweł Ciuraj (Guitar), Artur Jasiński (Drums), Piotr Włodarczyk (Keybords) + Guest : Emilia Siepkowska (Violin), Kuba Kotynia (Guitar), Michał Mierzejewski (Orchestration)

Artist : Logos

Album : Sadako e le mille gru di carta

Release Date : 01-07-2020

Added : 15-09-2020

For a progressive music lover, the search for the album that he will be able to add to his essential collection is a perpetual quest and there, I must say that with the last album of the Italian group 'Logos', everything is gathered for to offer us a progressive jewel, with first of all, a very strong theme which, icing on the cake, was declined in different artistic forms (see their very beautiful web page here which presents the different facets of the project and explains the story that I let you discover and an excerpt from the awesome upcoming video above) and then, a musical accompaniment which is completely in adequacy with the theme and which touches you in the depths of yourself. So, ready to dive into this story filled with emotion, authenticity and originality?

First of all, these are 6 compositions for more than an hour of music with, as you can imagine, long progressive developments which provoke the intense pleasure of discovering, little by little, all their richness and which will remain etched in your memory forever. 'Origami in SOL' opens the album with a short instrumental that sets an intense symphonic setting with omnipresent keyboards, then 'Paesaggi di insonnia' is the first long composition, over 11 minutes, already showing all the talent of this formation with a labyrinth of influences, sounds and different tempos which is a pure gem of progressive at the end of which we have only one desire, to replay it to soak up it well and which offers us wonderful parts instrumental with keyboards that are the masters on board and with admirable saxophone accompaniments : we are already in 7th heaven with lots of little stars that gravitate around us ! In an album in this style of progressive, we would already be satisfied to have only one title like this, but it is only an appetizer because then comes 'Un lieto inquiertasi', with a first half of the same level that a certain group 'ELP' who were precursors in the 70s, rich and imaginative, then the second half takes us on a symphonic and refined progressive with a singing that arrives rather late and a heady melody that keeps us company until the end, bringing us back to the starting theme : the circle is complete. After these two titles, to rest from these two extraordinary compositions, we embark on a little cloud with a sweet ballad as the Italians know so well how to compose them in a style close to 'BJH' or to 'Procol Harum', and it is another long development which awaits us with 'Zaini di elio' which continues in a mostly instrumental progressive in which there is not the slightest second of boredom and which give a goosebumps in the finale for several minutes. We arrive at the end of the album, to no, I am told in the earpiece, excuse me, there would be yet another title ! not possible after so much quality, we would have the right to yet another composition, of more than 20 minutes I am told; I do not believe it and yet, it is the pure truth, the centerpiece is at the last position of this already so dense opus. The emotion is then at its peak with this serene introduction but so strong given the theme (making me shed a few tears) then, a new fresco develops with some oriental sounds and with a richness and originality in each section that any amateur of progressive music is looking for. Enough talk, the best is still I to let you discover this wonderful ‘Sadako e le mille gru di carta’ by yourself.

In short, for a group that started to make covers of 'Le Ormo' and 'Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso' (not bad as references), the student is now largely at the same level as the teachers and after three quality recordings over the past twenty years, this latter has reached new heights which, as you will have understood, in will certainly make for me the recording of the year in progressive and which should satisfy any lover of this style who likes to take his time to discover a concept album...

Line Up / Musicians

Luca Zerman (Vocal, Keybords), Alessandro Perbellini (Drums), Claudio Antolini (Keybords), Fabio Gaspari (Bass, Mandolin, Vocal) + Guests : Federica Zocatelli (Saxophone), Elisa Montaldo (Vocal), Simone Chiampan (Drums), Massimo Maoli (Guitar)

Artist : tRKproject

Album : Kay & Gerda

Release Date : 29-06-2020

Added : 30-08-2020

We left 'Ryszard Kramarski' with the excellent 'Mr Scrooge' released a little over a year ago and it is the turn of 'Kay & Gerda' from see the day. In the meantime a new 'Millenium' album has been released and if you are a fan of subtle and quiet progressive rock, you are in the right place because this new opus is full of poetry and delicacy that resemble to groups like 'Mostly Autumn' or 'Fleesh'.

The album declines in two versions with two different singers, first of all, honor to the ladies, the talented 'Karolina Leszko' who enchants us once again throughout this first part, the second being devolved to sieur 'David Lewandowski', young singer of the group 'Fizbers' who gives a second interpretation just as remarkable as the first, it is up to you to test both and choose the one that you prefer. The album opens with the magnificent 'The Shards Of Glass' which takes us directly onto a small cloud in a delicate and relaxing atmosphere with 'Floydian' keyboard layers and a melody that rocks us and never leaves us, then, 'Gerda's Song' continues in this harmonious atmosphere which, for my part, triggered me on several occasions this small characteristic thrill of an intense happiness with the version of Karolina. As for 'Garden Of Oblivion', it's still a soft and limpid composition reminiscent of 'Mostly Autumn', then, 'The Crow and The Castle', half instrumental adds sublime vocalizations of Karolina and ends on a remarkable solo guitar, and 'Little Robber Girl' is certainly the most energetic track with a very nice passage mixing in a beautiful way the vocals of Karolina and an acoustic guitar. The first part ends with, first of all, a melancholy 'Long Way North' with yet another magnificent catchy melody then with 'Snow Queen Palace' which takes us one last time on a wonderful journey filled with emotion and Karolina, in end of title, hands the baton beautifully to 'David Lewandowski'.

In summary, with this latest album, 'Ryszard Kramarski' continues to enchant us with endearing and delicate melodies that are sublimated by two remarkable performers and 'Kay & Gerda' should undoubtedly appeal to all fans of an harmonious and sensitive progressive in the line of formation like' Mostly Autumn '...

Line Up / Musicians

Ryszard Kramarski (Keybords, Guitar), Marcin Kruczek (Guitar), Grzegorz Fieber (Drums, Percussions), Krzysztof Wyrwa (Bass), Karolina Leszko (Vocal), David Lewandowski (Vocal)

Artist : Black Dime Cabaret

Album : Act I : Nefarious Schemes to Murder Lady Midnight

Release Date : 28-06-2020

Added : 31-08-2020

I'm writing this review knowing already that the Australians' first album of 'Black Dime Cabaret' will be their last because a fairly short post on their facebook, without too much explanation, written by 'Brandom Young', the group's instigator, explains to us that they separate after a year of existence (especially since their album was withdrawn from Spotify but I had the pleasure of listening to it before it was withdrawn and I put the You Tube link on the whole album). But let's not sulk our pleasure because the opus released at the end of June 2020, which was originally to be the first part of a triptych is very original and makes us discover a very particular and very endearing universe made of influences drawn from the world of the circus, the musette ball or even the cabaret, all this in a progressive style. It is a concept album that tells the story of the plague in France at the end of the 19th century.

In a classic atmosphere, the instrumental 'A Plague In France' sets an epic backdrop introducing 'The Clown and the Election' in a melodic progressive that alternates calm passages and more muscular parts in which we discover the delicate singing of 'Dayle Barnett' and the use of brass tones which accentuates the circus atmosphere, then, the eponymous title of the group takes us into a cabaret atmosphere with a bouncy rhythm and 'Autumn', which follows, is a beautiful semi-acoustic ballad, very endearing, with a remarkable contrast between the sounds of fanfare and the acoustic guitar. Follows 'Festival of Witches', its introduction of circus music gives way to a sung part with multiple changes of tempo and a wonderful dynamic close to tango, then, 'Ode to Lady Midnight' enchants us with its alternations between melancholic and cheerful passages, the finale being filled with great emotion. The second part of the album continues in this intoxicating atmosphere with 'The Great Manipulator' mixing a cabaret atmosphere with progressive rock, 'Death Waltz' in an original waltz tempo and a melody which, for me, does not necessarily reflect the title, then, 'Nefarious Schemes', very contrasted title, its strength being to mix feelings that would qualify as joyful melancholy, 'The Lynch Mob' which is undoubtedly the most energetic composition with guitar riffs and always this energy communicative, the album ending, first of all, with the short lullaby 'Sleep, Dear' then, 'Incantations' which can recall certain sounds of 'Renaissance' and which one last time takes us on an imaginative and very original title

In summary, this album from the Australians of 'Black Dime Cabaret' is filled with a real poetry that could be summed up in the atmosphere of clowns, at the same time joyful but often hiding a suffering filled with melancholy which makes these very endearing and original compositions which make 'Nefarious Schemes to Murder Lady Midnight' an opus that goes off the beaten track of traditional progressive rock...

Line Up / Musicians

Dayle Barnett (Vocal, Guitar), Brandon Young (Guitar), Joel Holdsworth (Drums), Cole Catania (Bass), Max Budich (Keybords)

Artist : Void Contact

Album : Form over Dysfunction

Release Date : 27-06-2020

Added : 01-09-2020

'Void Contact' is a band created at the end of the 80s by 'David McHenry' and 'Carter Scott' with two albums released in 1989 ('Age of Antiquity') and in 1991 ('Autonomy') and which after a long separation, met again in 2013 to continue the adventure. Two new opuses were released, 'Many Happy Returns' in 2015 and 'Secrets and Alibis' in 2018 and 'Form over Dysfunction' is therefore their third studio recording. In a pop style inherited from the 60s to the 80s, they offer us 10 compositions that could be a subtle mix between the 'Beatles', the 'Beach Boys', 'Supertramp' or even 'Billy Joël' or 'Chris de Burgh'.

From the start, we navigate through soft and refined pop compositions often semi-acoustic like 'Second Hand Love' and its westcoast atmosphere, 'Holiday' and its reggae rhythm, 'He Made His Bed' close to the sounds from 'Chris de Burgh' or the 'Beatlesian' 'Never Say Fail'. With 'All That She Sees', the use of strings recalls the moods of the orchestral versions of the project, 'The Gentle Storm' by 'Arjen Anthony Lucassen', then, the catchy 'Non-Committal Inspirations' has a heady melody to sing together in chorus and 'Let Me In' takes us into an exotic swaying rhythm, the album ending with 'I Don't Care' with very beautiful choirs reminiscent of the 'Beach Boys', 'Shame on You, Shame on Me' with another heady melody taking us back to the 70s and finally, the beautiful melancholy ballad 'Paralyzed', piano/voice, on which strings are grafted in a beautiful way that can recall the atmospheres of 'Peter Gabriel'.

In summary, this new album from the Americans of 'Void Contact' is very pleasant to listen to and brings us back to a pop of the 70s / 80s and 'Form over Dysfunction' is recommended to the general public because all the compositions are accessible at first listening...

Line Up / Musicians

David McHenry (Vocal, Keybords, Drums, Percussions), Carter Scott (Guitar, Keybords, Chœurs) + Guests : Mark Horwitz (Accordion, Piano), Daniel Lee (Violin), Studio Pros (Cello), Brittany Bandstra (Clarinette), Ray McHenry (Bass), Ryan West (Guitar), Alfonso (Piano)

Artist : Molitoth

Album : The Tribunal

Release Date : 26-06-2020

Added : 29-08-2020

'Molitoth' is the project of singer 'Kyle Brandt' of 'A Light Within' who has just released his first studio recording 'The Tribunal'. In a rather dark atmospheric progressive style with slow tempos, he offers us 11 compositions that marry keyboards with heavy guitar riffs, his aim being to focus 'The Tribunal' on meditative music.

After the short instrumental introduction 'Meditation (Transcendental)', 'Confessional Lock' unfolds a heavy and slow melody that can recall the moods of compositions like 'Sorrow' from 'Pink Floyd', then 'Interrogation Frames' takes the relay with an imposing bass which continues in this melancholy register. With 'The Departing', over 9 minutes, the slow and repetitive character brings a majestic side and the melody can recall formations like 'Airbag' or 'RPWL', the final offering very beautiful vocal arrangements and 'Self Reflection' continues in this atmosphere of quiet strength then 'Meditation (Guided)', a short instrumental, opens the second half of the album by introducing 'Verdict Scope' which takes us on a more energetic composition and more difficult to tame. Follows 'Send Me an Angel' which is a cover of the group 'Real Life' in a much more relaxed style and the end of the album scrolls 'Ackowledgement' and its rather linear swaying rhythm, then the third instrumental, in an experimental style, on a fairly monotonous theme with a whispered female voice, and finally 'Incarceration' which closes the album in a 'Floydian' atmosphere.

In summary, 'Kyle Brandt' releases an atmospheric album pleasant to listen to the headphones on the ears and 'The Tribunal' is recommended for an audience loving progressive rock made of calm and tranquil atmospheres conducive to relaxation and meditation...

Line Up / Musicians

Kyle Brandt (Vocal, Keybords, Guitar), Madelyn Robertson (Bass, Guitar, Keybords), Bryant Bridges Guitar), Taylor Talbott (Guitar), Matt Davis (Drums)

Artist : Professor Tip Top

Album : Tomorrow is Delayed

Release Date : 26-06-2020

Added : 26-08-2020

After the Spaniards of 'Glasswork', the month of June has spoiled us with progressive rock album releases because it is the turn of the Norwegians of 'Professor Tip Top' to come out a new album, 'Tomorrow is Delayed', after 'Life Is No Matter' in 2017 and 'Hybrid Hymns' in 2019. Everything is still implemented to offer us a very pleasant progressive rock inherited from the 70s in a psychedelic style.

From the first titles 'Erebus', 'In The Mirror' and 'Under Crystal Stars', we embark on peaceful melodies that can be listened to quietly on headphones, and the suite continues in this register with the beautiful soothing voice of 'Sonja Otto', magnificent performer of melodic lines straight out of the 70s and it's names like 'Barclay James Harvest' or 'Pink Floyd' that come to mind when listening to songs like 'The Ghost Within', 'Beneath the Silence' or even the progressive development reminiscent of the beginning of the 'Floyds' 'Objet Petit A' and we also have the right to a little more energy with 'Tomorrow is Delayed', the album ending in the sweetness with 'Earth' in which 'Sonjo Otto' cradles us one last time.

In summary, even if they take existing influences without bringing real novelties, the Norwegians of 'Professor Tip Top' are releasing a new album very pleasant to listen to and 'Tomorrow is Delayed' is recommended to a whole audience loving progressive music which is calm and filled with serenity, coming straight from an era which saw this style of music taking off...

Line Up / Musicians

Sonja Otto (Vocal, Keybords), Sam Fossbakk (Guitar, Keybords, Chœurs), Stein Høgseth (Bass), Charles Wise (Drums)

Artist : Mike LePond’s Silent Assassins

Album : Whore of Babylon

Release Date : 26-06-2020

Added : 27-08-2020

Casually, bassist 'Mike Lepond' is already on his third solo album with 'Whore of Babylon', especially as he is on all fronts, first of all being the bassist official of 'Symphony X' since 2000 but also with his other project 'DeadRisen' and if you search for 'Mike Lepond' on myprogmusic, you will see the projects in which he has participated for 3 years (and this is obviously not exhaustive).

Certainly, with this new album, it will not revolutionize the metal but it is precisely what makes the strength of this opus, the fact of concentrating on 10 titles of multiple influences which give the impression of listening a best of metal from the 80s/90s because for the fan of this time (of which I am part), 'Whore of Babylon' is a real feast. So we navigate between power metal with a powerful 'Ides of March' or with a huge 'Tell Tale Heart', speed metal with 'Dracul Son' or with the stunning 'Ironborn' or even melodic metal with folk accents with 'Night of The Long Knives' or with the catchy 'Avalon'. And how to miss 'Power Steel' which would blow up a whole stadium (by the way, hats off to the ensemble performance of Alan 'Tecchio' who knows how to adapt his voice to all styles) and to the opposite of the 'Champion' power ballad break, certainly agreed upon but so effective with this irresistible desire to swing to the rhythm of the chant (also beautiful vocal performance of 'Sarah Teets'), without forgetting the mid-tempo 'Whore of Babylon' which deploys its slow melody in a majestic way.

In summary, as you will understand, this latest baby of 'Mike Lepond' is a real success which should delight all amateurs of metal of the 80s/90s by offering them a concentrate of the best of this time with modern sound and arrangements...

Line Up / Musicians

Mike LePond (Bass, Guitar, Chœurs), Alan Tecchio (Vocal), Lance Barnewold (Guitar), Rod Rivera (Guitar), Sarah Teets (Flute, Vocal, Chœurs), Michael Romeo (Keybords), Mandolin (Drums), Michael Pinnella (Piano, Chœurs)

Artist : Nick D’Virgilio

Album : Invisible

Release Date : 26-06-2020

Added : 28-08-2020

When we see the impressive list of guests in the latest album 'Invisible' by drummer 'Nick D'Virgilio' (among others 'Tears for Fears', 'Spock's Beard', 'Big Big Train' or 'Steve Hackett' but also he did part of the adventure of the ‘Cirque du Soleil’ for 5 years), we tell ourselves that we are rubbing shoulders with the cream of global progressive rock. But this last opus is much larger than a set of progressive compositions because Nick mixes different influences in which he has been immersed for several decades which makes 'Invisible' a very accessible album.

After the short instrumental highlighting the instruments of the orchestra in a melancholy atmosphere, the title song of the album 'Invisible' is a magnificent ballad about people we never talk about but who bring as much as the others their stone to the building (what a beautiful coincidence with what we experienced at the beginning of the year), then, 'Turn Your Life Around' is one of the only really progressive titles which alternates instrumental and sung parts with the use of strings which bring us back to the atmospheres of the beginning of 'Electric Light Orchestra'. Without transition, 'I'm Gone' takes us on a funky rhythm with choirs from the time of the 'Bee Gees', then the cover of the rock 'Money (That's All I Want') of 'Barett Strong' which had been sung by the 'Beatles' at the beginning of the 60s is completely revisited with an improbable but magnificent meeting between the musics of the 'Cirque Du soleil' and a group of Gospel. Follows the short and very stripped-down ballad 'Waiting For No One' with a jazzy atmosphere, then we turn up the decibels with a lively 'Snake Oil Salesman' which would not have mismatched in a set list of 'Status Quo' and 'Where's The Passion' brings us back to a much more classic atmosphere with remarkable orchestral arrangements and an atmosphere close to the American variety of the 70s/80s. It's still a big gap as I like them with 'Mercy' which, after an atmospheric introduction, delivers us a powerful progressive metal that would not have denied 'Dream Theater' and, in this register, 'Nick D'Virgilio' shows all his talent in the rhythm section, then, 'Overcome' continues with a colossal instrumental introduction that leads to a calmer but epic track in a 'Queenest' style, and 'In The Bones' mixes rock power and jazz sounds with brass which fills the whole space. The end of the album offers us a rhythmic 'Wrong Place Wrong Time' with electronic effects and a vocal phrasing superimposed on the lead vocals, 'Not My Time To Say Goodbye' in a more progressive register with new brass accompaniment that recall the credits of American series, and finally 'I Know The Way' in a light popisante atmosphere close to the style of 'Elton John'.

In summary, this new solo album by 'Nick D'Virgilio' is a compendium of various influences that mix pop, rock, jazz and metal all this being sprinkled with progressive which destines 'Invisible' to a loving audience above all the diversity of genres...

Line Up / Musicians

Nick D'Virgilio (Vocal, Drums) + Guests : Beth Cohen (Choirs), Carl Verheyen (Guitar), Jem Godfrey (Keybords), Jonas Reingold (Bass), Jordan Rudess (Keybords, Piano), Kat Bowser (Choirs), Nathan Heironimus (Choirs), Paul Gilbert (Guitar), Randy Mcstine (Guitar), Rick Nielsen (Guitar), Sophia D'virgilio (Choirs), Tony Levin (Bass)

Artist : Feuerschwanz

Album : Das Elfte Gebot

Release Date : 26-06-2020

Added : 12-09-2020

Direction Germany with the last album of 'Feuerschwanz' which continue to distill us, since their last 2 albums 'Sex is Muss' in 2016 and 'Methämmer' in 2018, a power metal with folk accents and with heady melodies to ignite an entire stadium and it is not their last album 'Das Elfte' which will contradict me because on the 11 original tracks (the last 7 being covers of other metal formations), there are roughly, yes I count, 11 hits that should make you move to the rhythm of the music if you are sensitive to direct and effective melodies that are embedded immediately in your head and if you don't be put off by the German language. Ready for adventure ?

And it started with 'Meister der Minne' with a first heady chorus, then 'Metfest' adds a layer with an addictive catchy melody and without transition, it is the eponymous title of the album which tumbles with its folk tones brought by the violin of 'Stephanie Pracht' and this title reminds me of the well-oiled melodies of their compatriots 'Mono Inc.' who took the step to sing in English to open up to the international market and this energetic atmosphere is found in the following title 'Kampfzwerg' with a new chorus that will put you in shape for a whole day. After all this debauchery of positive energy, 'Im Bauch des Wals' arrives at the right time to rest for a few minutes (and yes, it tiresome to headbang so long past 50 years !) with a melody that we can already see taken up in chorus by all a public (do la-la-la if you don't know German !). No need to describe the following titles to you because it continues in the same way all traced and, it was the risk of such an album, without having repetitions of styles because each composition has its own personality, the only common point being that all have addictive melodies. And it is not over because the Germans then reward us with quite remarkable covers of different formations: 'Ding' from 'Seeed', 'Hier Kommt Alex' from 'Die Toten Hosen', 'Amen & Attack' from 'Powerwolf', 'I See Fire 'by Ed Sheeran', 'Gott Mit Uns' by 'Sabaton', 'Limit' by 'Deichkind', and finally 'Engel' by 'Rammstein'.

In summary, no need to draw you a picture, this new album from the Germans of 'Feuerschwanz' will not revolutionize power metal but this is not precisely what we are asking them because few groups are capable to release an album of this quality to make us have a great time listening to all these songs all equally effective from each other...

Line Up / Musicians

Hauptmann Feuerschwanz (Vocal), Stephanie Pracht « Johanna von der Vögelweide » (Violin, Vielle à roue), « Sir Lanzeflott » (batterie), Ben Metzner « Prinz R. Hodenherz III » (Guitar), Hans Platz « Hans der Aufrechte » (Guitar), Jarne Hodinsson (Bass)

Artist : Falconer

Album : From a Dying Ember

Release Date : 26-06-2020

Added : 14-09-2020

After 20 years of good and loyal service and a very busy discography, the Swedes of 'Falconer' bow out by offering us a last album 'From a Dying Ember' in this characteristic style of a metal fusing melodic, power and folk. On the menu of this opus, 11 new compositions which are not going to revolutionize the metal but which are very pleasant to listen to and which represent the trademark of the Swedes with melodic lines that we immediately appropriate in epic and powerful atmospheres.

The energetic 'Kings and Queen' opens the ball in a melodic mid-tempo which does not prevent 'Karsten Larsson' from throwing us a few sections of double pedal, then, 'Desert Dreams' and' Redeem and Repent' accelerate the pace with two classic but super effective melodies that fans will unfortunately no longer be able to resume in chorus in concert. With 'Bland Sump Och Dy', sung in Swedish, we embark on a sort of ritornello with a more marked folk component and accentuated by the accompaniment of a violin, then, 'Fool's Crusade' returns to a more classical melodic power with a remarkable vocal performance by 'Mathias Blad' which alternates his head and chest voice, and the short instrumental 'Garnets and a Gilded Rose' with traditional folk instruments brings a medieval atmosphere whose melodic lines resemble those of the following title , 'In Regal Attire' but this one is in a much more powerful style. It is with 'Rejoice The Adorned' that serenity settles in a magnificent ballad with a song filled with emotion which further highlights the singing of 'Mathias Blad', then, return to energy with a rapid 'Testify', very characteristic of style of the Swedish, and 'Thrust The Dagger Deep' unrolls a slow tempo with a marked rhythm, an original mix of power and vintage keyboard sounds and a short a capella section but nevertheless remarkable, the album ending with 'Rapture' which one last time enchants us with this mixture of power and folk, the melody remaining anchored in our head, the last note passed.

In summary, this latest Swedish album from 'Falconer' is still filled with good melodies that can be tamed on the spot with a mix between metal and folk quite characteristic of this formation and 'From a Dying Ember', beyond fans who will be delighted by this album but saddened to know that it is the last one, should also be well appreciated by a public loving an easy to access power metal...

Line Up / Musicians

Mathias Blad (Vocal), Stefan Weinerhall (Guitar, Keybords), Jimmy Hedlund (Guitar), Magnus Linhardt (Bass), Karsten Larsson (Drums)

Artist : Chris Antblad

Album : Age of Concord III

Release Date : 25-06-2020

Added : 07-09-2020

Always so discreet on the internet because it's not easy to find information on his latest album 'Age of Concord III' (Chris, if you listen to us, a little facebook page, that would be nice !), after 'Age Of Concord: On The Radio' which made me discover it in 2016, 'Chris Antblad' continues to offer us beautiful compositions accessible to the greatest number in a melodic and soft rock style in the lineage of singers like 'Chris De Burgh' or 'Brian Adams'. This new album, in fact, contains a lot of the singles he's released in the last 2 or so years (see his Spotify page).

We are therefore immersed in the melodic universe of the Swedish with melodic nuggets reminiscent of the atmospheres of the 80s/90s which are shared between catchy compositions like 'Unbroken' or 'The Last Day of Summer' in the great AOR tradition American, or the hopping 'Mr. Preacherman' and 'Words' or the pop 'I Played The Piano And She Danced' and 'I Prayed for Rain' but also ballads in which 'Chris Antblad excels like 'Lion' in a Westcoast atmosphere or the magnificent very stripped down titles 'A Painting' or 'Tattoos' or the magnificent 'My Heart's Forever Young' or 'When It Was Only You and Me' with beautiful melodies that give the impression that they have always been part of our life.

In summary, ‘Chris Antblad’ continues his way with timeless compositions that we immediately adopt which destines this third album of ‘Age of Concord’ to the general public...

Line Up / Musicians

Chris Antblad (Vocal, Tous les instruments)

Artist : Beyond The Black

Album : Hørizøns

Release Date : 19-06-2020

Added : 16-08-2020

Seeing the impressive number of reviews on the web regarding the last 'Beyond The Black', we realize how the progress of this group has been dazzling because we have the impression that 'Songs of Love and Death' is already far away but it only dates from 2015 and 2020 already sees the release of the fourth album' Hørizøns', which is to say the frequency of studio recordings by the Germans. And again, they did all that they can on the marketing level because in addition to the video 'Misery' visible above, we have the rights to three other videos 'Wounded Healer' , 'Human' and finally 'Golden Pariah'.

With this new album, everything is still done to offer us a modern and accessible symphonic metal with melodies that are easily embedded in your head, each could have been the subject of a single : it is with the eponymous title that the album begins in an energetic and melodic style which joins the Dutch of 'Within Temptation', then 'Misery' continues with a new hit with a new unstoppable melody and 'Wounded Healer' in a less marked tempo sees the participation of singer 'Elize Ryd' from 'Amaranthe' which makes this title a very beautiful duet with Jennifer (we want more !). The sequel continues to scroll through addictive melodies with the enticing 'Some Kind of Monster', again bringing us back to 'Within Temptation', then, the ballad 'Human' which is still a melodic nugget as the Germans have the secret, and ' Golden Pariahs' adds more modern electronic tones. After 6 tracks without any downtime, we attack the second part of the title album with 'Marching In' which again shows that the duets always bring a plus (as for the formation 'Visions of Atlantis') with in this case the participation of guitarist 'Chris Hermsdörfer', then, with 'You're Not Alone', I already see Jennifer involving the whole audience to make them take up the chorus in chorus. What more can we say, except that the last five compositions are on the same level as the rest with the mid-tempo 'Out of the Ashes', the fast 'Paralyzed' with its choirs which will certainly be chanted in concert, 'Coming Home' which borrows in a beautiful way, a little more rock than metal, the magnificent acoustic ballad 'Surrender' with the participation of the cellist 'Tina Guo' well known to the fans of 'Hanz Zimmer' and who was part of the adventure of the live at the 'Carnagie Hall' by 'Joe Bonamassa', the album ending with the enticing 'Welcome To My Wasteland'.

In summary, The Germans of 'Beyond The Black' are releasing yet another album, each composition of which could be the subject of a single and are now part of the leading group of symphonic metal groups: 'Hørizøns' will certainly participate yet to increase the fan base because all the compositions are very accessible for a large audience beyond metal fans...

Line Up / Musicians

Jennifer Haben (Vocal), Chris Hermsdörfer (Guitar), Tobias Lodes (Guitar), Stefan Herkenhoff (Bass), Kai Tschierschky (Drums) + Guests : Elize Ryd (Vocal), Tina Guo (Cello)

Artist : Airbag

Album : A Day at the Beach

Release Date : 19-06-2020

Added : 18-08-2020

2016 saw the release of 'Disconnected' which had not hit the headlines but was a continuation of what the Norwegians of 'Airbag' used to produce and, four years later, it was the turn of 'A Day at the Beach' to come out with only 6 titles but 4 of which exceeded 8 minutes.

It is with the 10 minutes of 'Machines and Men' that the album begins with already a nod to the rhythm and the sound effects of a certain 'Welcome to the Machine' from the 'Floyds' released 45 years ago (and yes that does not make us any younger) and whose repetitiveness of the theme is well in relation to that of the machines and the catchy rhythmic much than what we knew from 'Airbag', then, change of atmosphere with the first part of 'A Day at the Beach' which offers us a soaring and relaxing melody to listen to quietly with headphones (especially since the sound is really excellent). Follows 'Into The Unknow' which takes us on board for 10 minutes of atmospheric ambiance with the use of electronic sounds inherited from the 70s and which, after a break made of sound effects, ends with a beautiful 'Floydian' airy melody that rocks our meaning, then, again, change of style with 'Sunsets' which is much more rhythmic and which can recall the 'Blackfield' project of 'Steven Wilson'. The end of the album offers us, first of all the second part of 'A Day at the Beach' which is instrumental and which comes back to a fairly linear atmosphere, made of a soft crescendo to arrive on a 'Gilmourian' guitar solo, then finally 'Megalomaniac' which borders on 10 minutes closes 'A Day at the Beach' on a more melancholy note with a slow tempo which unrolls a new aerial melody then which increases in intensity in the middle of the title keeping the same common thread until a powerful explosion with a rhythm that accelerates to fall back as it had started.

In summary, the Norwegians of 'Airbag ', even if they do not revolutionize the genre, continue to offer us atmospheric compositions pleasant to listen to in a quiet place to relax after a hard day's work and 'A Day at the Beach' should undoubtedly appeal, beyond 'Airbag' fans, to an audience loving an aerial style with a predominant use of keyboards...

Line Up / Musicians

Bjørn Riis (Guitars, Bass, Keybords, Chœurs), Asle Tostrup (Vocal, Keybords), Anders Hovdan (Bass), Henrik Fossum (Drums)

Artist : AURIUM

Album : The Second Sun

Release Date : 19-06-2020

Added : 20-08-2020

‘AURIUM’ is a Serbian project led by singer ‘Milica Jovaov’ which dates from 2012, 2015 having seen the release of the debut album ’Still Life’. So it was 5 years after this first baby that the Serbs recorded their 2nd opus ‘The Second Sun’. In a symphonic metal style with an important use of orchestral arrangements, they offer us 11 tracks for 46 minutes which can recall the major formations of the genre like 'Delain', 'Within Temptation' or even 'Dark Sarah' (upcoming review of her latest album) but also, for my part, even more projects like 'Therion' or 'Imperial Age' due at fairly slow tempos.

All starts with 'Asylum', powerful in a moderate tempo with a first melody that is immediately tamed, then 'Leaden Skies' with its choirs has a 'Within Temptation' side from the 2000s with 'Milica Jovanov' which uses her clear and high-pitched voice in a beautiful way, and 'Curtain's Fall' sees Milica mixing the two clear and lyrical registers in an always very symphonic style. With 'Dead Landscapes' we are closer to the theatrical side of 'Therion', just like with 'Garbage Eater' but this time because of energetic electric guitar riffs, then, 'Timekeeper' reproduces the same pattern as its predecessor. It is with 'Phasiadinae' that we hold the longest title in several parts with very beautiful vocal arrangements, the operatic style being taken to its climax and reminiscent of the greatness of the Russians of the 'Imperial Age'. We still think of 'Therion', but more in the register of 'Beloved Antechrist' metal opera with 'Nodus Tollens' and 'Reminiscence', with its slow and rhythmic tempo and its backing vocals, returns to the heady melodies of 'Imperial Age' just like the mid-tempo 'The Silent Wake', the album ending with a catchy 'Son of the Morning Star' which flirts more with formations like 'Dark Sarah'.

In summary, the Serbs of AURIUM, continue to offer us a symphonic metal rich in influence with a front woman which is much more convincing in a lyrical song which, for me, makes 'The Second Sun' an album which will be more intended for fans of formations like 'Therion' but will also be able to make happy among all those who like symphonic metal in general...

Line Up / Musicians

Milica Jovanov (Vocal), Pavle Savić (Drums), Siniša Mladenović (Bass, Keybords), Slavoljub Pupić (Guitar)

Artist : Glasswork

Album : Metabolé

Release Date : 19-06-2020

Added : 22-08-2020

'Glasswork' is a Spanish progressive rock formation that has already released 2 albums, 'Knots' in 2015 and 'Fear and Trembling' in 2017, 'Metabolé' being their third studio recording. On the menu, sophisticated and rather calm progressive rock with beautiful melodic lines, the 11 titles being divided between 7 sung compositions between 4 and 7 minutes, 3 short instrumental and a long development which borders on 15 minutes.

'Blackspot' welcomes us in a cozy atmosphere with a catchy first melody, then, 'Tales from the Cave' slightly hardens the subject with a more marked rhythm and a refrain taking us back to the 70s, and, 'The Decision' which follows, brings very beautiful vocal harmonies. After the 2 instrumentals, first of all, the pastoral 'Barbarian Assimimation' with jazzy incursions, then, 'Zeirach' with sound effects that can recall the atmosphere of 'Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast' of the 'Floyds', 'A Song for Grace' is a soft ballad with folk accents, then, 'Solitude' takes us on board for a more sought-after composition with rich harmonics and tones of the beginning of the progressive and which gradually increases in power past half of the title with a magnificent passage with the setting in front from the saxophone of 'Jesús Sánchez'. The suite offers us 'For Everyone and for No One', progressive alternating 'Floydien' passages and other much powerfull ones, the short instrumental ‘Turmoil’ made of sound effects and the energetic 'One Dimensional Man' with oriental intonations and keyboards vintage from the 70s. But the centerpiece is undoubtedly the eponymous title of the album which alone is worth the purchase of this opus and which is a real masterpiece of inventiveness and we can hear influences from various seventies progressive artists like 'Emerson Lake & Palmer', 'Renaissance', 'Yes', 'Pink Floyd' or even 'Deep Purple' but which necessarily requires a few listening to get all the richness.

In summary, the Spaniards of 'Glasswork' are releasing an album of remarkable density with an exceptional final and 'Metabolé' is tailor-made for all those who love an inventive and rich progressive straight out from the 70s ...

Line Up / Musicians

Miguel Angel Rey (Vocal, Drums, Percussions), Fernando Domínguez (Bass, Chœurs), Jose Galvez (Guitar), Cezar Rodríguez (Keybords, Flute, Chœurs) + Guests : Laura Martinez (Vocal), Jesús Sánchez (Saxophone, Clarinette)

Artist : Kyros

Album : Celexa Dreams

Release Date : 19-06-2020

Added : 24-08-2020

'Kyros' is an English formation led by the young multi-instrumentalist 'Adam Warne' and which premiered in 2012 with a debut album in 2014 under the name 'Synaesthesia' which was also the band's name at the time. After a very good album 'Vox Humana' in 2016, 2020 sees the release of a new opus 'Celexa Dreams' which takes us back to their universe made of multiple influences ranging from the 80s to the present day between rock and progressive metal with developments that must generally be tamed in several plays.

And yet, it is with two very accessible tracks that the album begins, first of all 'In Motion' which plunges us into pop with keyboards with 80s sounds, then 'Rumor' continues in this light style with a kind of mix between the 'Bee Gees' and 'Foreigner'. Without transition, 'In Vantalblack' takes us on for 14 minutes of rich and inventive progressive with a title in multiple drawers in which follow one another accessible sections and others more sought after. After the instrumental interlude 'Ghosts Kids', 'Phosphene' offers a very beautiful melancholy stroll in the vein of 'RPWL', then, 'Technology Killed the Kids III' which echoes the first 2 parts present on the first 2 albums, returns, after an introduction full of sound effects, to a lighter but very progressive atmosphere, and 'Sentry', with keyboards full of electronic effects, unfolds a slow and beautiful melody. The end of the opus offers progressive metal with first, 'Two Frames of Panic' then 'UNO Attack' close to what 'Steven Wilson' could have done with 'Porcupine Tree' and the last track 'Her Song is Mine' ends the album gently with a last stroll quite offbeat from the rest in a symphonic atmosphere close to 'Alan Parsons'.

In summary, the English of 'Kyros' are releasing an album which, even if it contains accessible titles, requires several listenings to fully tame it which intends 'Celexa Dreams' to an audience that likes to vary styles progressive music...

Line Up / Musicians

Adam Warne (Vocal, Keybords), Robin Johnson (Drums, Percussions), Peter Episcopo (Bass, Vocal), Joey Frevola (Guitar)

Artist : Dreambleed

Album : We All Bleed Red

Release Date : 17-06-2020

Added : 14-08-2020

'Dreambleed' is a Greek band which was formed in 2009 by singer and keyboardist 'Manolis Papadopoulos' who is also the group's songwriter and songwriter and who released a debut album 'Beautifull Sickness' in 2014 in which 'Mark Jansen' from 'Epica' lent his extreme voice on the track 'Hopeless'. 2020 sees the release of a new studio recording 'We All Bleed Red' and we can see on their facebook that they have been influenced by formations like 'Within Temptation', 'Evanescence' or even 'Epica' which all have a female singer but we can say that Manolis has a talent for melodic compositions and that his vocal performances are all remarkable with that little extra that he has this talent of knowing how to transmit emotions like the female singers of bands mentioned above.

After the instrumental acoustic introduction 'I've Seen Better Days' with some notes of piano, 'Once Upon a Lie' introduces us to a first melodic title between energy and serenity, 'Manolis Papadopoulos' often using his head voice, then, 'We All Bleed Red' brings electronic sounds in more classic melodic lines, a bit as if 'Dreambleed' wanted to mix the 'Within Temptation' of the 2000s and that of the end of the 2010s with a much more sound industrial, which we also find on the following title 'Sonder'. The first break comes with the magnificent power ballad 'Like a Clown', very classic but with a melody that stays in your head, then it's the turn of another remarkable ballad 'Oceans of Tears' with its heady chorus, and the mid-tempo 'Damaged' which follows, returns to more classical symphonic metal which brings us back to the beginning of the 2000s. The suite shows us new hits with first of all the mid-tempo 'Dance Above the Rain' , then, an energetic 'Drama Queen' (which was the subject of a video above recorded during the confinement period), then 'Feel My Scars' with new electronic tones and with a heady new chorus, and finally the third ballad 'Stay With Me' which has nothing to envy to the first two, the album ending with the beautiful acoustic version of 'Oceans of Tears' and the magnificent orchestral version of 'Like a Clown'.
In summary, the Greeks of 'Dreambleed' release a magnificent album, well balanced between powerful and calmer tracks, mixing symphonic metal from the 2000s and from today by the addition of electronic sounds and 'We All Bleed Red 'is recommended for a fairly large audience loving a classical and melodic symphonic metal without any aggressiveness...

Line Up / Musicians

Manolis Papadopoulos (Vocal, Keybords), Kyriakos (Guitar), Mike (Guitar), Ridra (Bass), Marios (Drums)

Artist : Guppy Fish

Album : The Fall of Man

Release Date : 13-06-2020

Added : 11-09-2020

It is still in the direction of Greece that we are going with the first LP of 'Guppy Fish' (2014 having seen the release of an EP 'Constant Motion Of Vanity') but in a style quite different from that of 'John "Jargon" Kosmidis', because they offer us imaginative progressive rock that oscillates between tension and relaxation, going from calm moments to others much more energetic and powerful which, for me, gets closer to progressive metal formations like 'Porcupine Tree' or 'Opeth' or even 'Anathema' for the atmospheric side.

'The Fall of Man', after a calm introduction, continues in a heavy atmosphere with heavy guitar riffs and with a slow tempo, the vocals of 'Manos Tzanoudakis' increasing this feeling of heaviness, then,' Easily Played 'accelerates the tempo keeping this impression of powerful atmospheric with alternations in the melodic lines between the beginning, flirting with oriental tones and the powerful end much more melodious with a magnificent guitar solo and 'I Don't Like Your Face', past the atmospheric introduction, is in an energetic progressive rock style with a modern sound but with guitar riffs inherited from the 70s. With 'Exposed', the oriental introduction is beautiful and the continuation offers us a 'Blackfieldian' atmosphere with a heady melody that envelops us thanks to the aerial vocals and with a heavy and powerful final in which is grafted in a beautiful way the electric guitar of 'Kostas Kokkalos', then, 'Still Here', in its first part, is much more direct and less progressive with melodic lines immediately assimilable in a lively tempo led by the piano, but also has, in the 2nd part a remarkable instrumental section much more progressive with a powerful finish. The rest of the album offers us 10 minutes of calm, with first of all 'Neverending Flow', in a calm progressive unrolling a beautiful melody, 'Manos Tzanoudakis' knowing how to soften the vocal section perfectly for this kind of composition, then 'Justify' is a magnificent piano/voice ballad with a slow crescendo which gently brings the electric instruments to the end with some emphasis from the rhythm section to the highlights. It is with the suite 'Above The Sky', that the album ends, with a first part in a rich and sophisticated progressive atmosphere, not necessarily easily tamed at the first listening and mixing rock and metal, then a second part which begins in a calmer way but which alternates different atmospheres throughout the title which makes it a good summary of the opus.

In summary, the Greeks of 'Guppy Fish' offer us a magnificent, rich and imaginative album in a progressive style that requires taking your time to tame it and 'The Fall of Man' is recommended to an informed audience liking formations like 'Porcupine Tree', 'Opeth' or even 'Anathema'...

Line Up / Musicians

Manos Tzanoudakis (Vocal, Piano, Keybords), Kostas Kokkalos (Guitar, Chœurs), Xenofon Tsantilas (Bass), Vaggelis Kardamitsis (Drums) + Guest : Kostas Ntokos (Bass)

Artist : Vega

Album : Grit Your Teeth

Release Date : 12-06-2020

Added : 02-07-2020

As I did in late 2019 (see here), for a week, at the rate of 2 per day, I present to you a set of albums released for this first semester 2020 in melodic rock and hard-rock in addition to those already reviewed like for example ’Bonfire’, ’SteelCity’, ’Grand Design’ or still ’Xtasy’. The order of upload corresponds to the chronology of the album releases.

Melodic hard rock albums rock of the first semester 2020

And we end in beauty with the English of 'Vega' who after 'Only Human' in 2018 and like metronomes, release a new album in 2020, 'Grit Your Teeth'. We find the style of the previous opus with 11 small melodic jewels that take us back to the 80s with this time an energy even closer to ‘Def Leppard’. To consume without moderation...

Line Up / Musicians

Nick Workman (Vocal, Guitar), James Martin: Keybords, Marcus Thurston (Guitar), Mikey Kew (Guitar), Tom Martin (Bass), Martin Hutchinson (Drums)

Artist : House of Lords

Album : New World – New Eyes

Release Date : 12-06-2020

Added : 27-07-2020

It was more than thirty years since the eponymous first album of the group 'House of Lords' was released, then nothing until 2004, the year that saw the Americans continue their career and this new baby 'New World - New Eyes' which is the 9th opus of this period. Lovers of melodic hard-rock and sumptuous guitar solos, you've come to the right place because everything has been done for effective and accessible compositions to be consumed without moderation.

And, all starts with the eponymous track of the album, an energetic mid-tempo with seventies accents with a remarkable first solo of 'Jimi Bell' in the style of 'Ritchie Blackmore', then, 'Change (What's It Gonna Take)', after a progressive instrumental introduction which recalls that 'Mark Spiro' (well known in the profession for having collaborated with quite a few artists with, among others, 'Kansas', 'Cheap Trick' or 'Mr. Big') wrote most of the tracks, then ramped up in mid-tempo with chorus close to 'Def Leppard' style. It is with 'One More' that things accelerate and the style makes me think of 'Status Quo', then 'Perfectly (You And I)' is the only ballad of the album which brings us back to the 70s, with the added bonus of a solo by 'Jimi Bell' with accents of 'Hotel California' by 'Eagles'. After its first 4 quite remarkable titles, the continuation makes us scroll through unstoppable melodies with first of all the energetic 'The Both of Us', then 'Chemical Rush' in a melodic hard-rock with choirs still reminiscent of 'Def Leppard', 'We're All That We Got' which begins as a ballad but which is a mid-tempo in the tradition of 'Foreigner', a rhythmic 'Better off Broken' in which we can not help but mark the measure, a new mid-tempo '$ 5 Buck Of Gasoline' with its heady chorus, then 'The Chase' which reminds me of the atmosphere of the album 'If You Can't Stand the Heat' of 'Status Quo' from 1978, certainly because of the brass sounds, the album ending nicely with the enticing 'The Summit' which again highlights 'Jimi Bell' with a remarkable guitar solo.

In summary, the Americans of 'House of Lords' continue to take us back a few decades with a melodic hard rock that we immediately appropriate and 'New World - New Eyes' should appeal to every audience who love hard rock from the 70s and 80s...

Line Up / Musicians

James Christian (Vocal, Keybords), Jimi Bell (Guitar), Chris Tristram (Bass), B.J. Zampa (Drums)

Artist : Arabs In Aspic

Album : Madness and Magic

Release Date : 12-06-2020

Added : 29-07-2020

'Arabs In Aspic' is a Norwegian progressive rock band in the great tradition of groups from the 60s and 70s with 'King Crimson' in mind which was created in the late 90s and which is, with 'Madness and Magic', at his 6th studio recording, 2018 having seen the release of a live 'Live at Avantgarden'. They offer us 6 tracks for a fairly short duration of 46 minutes, long developments are generally present in this style of music.

The album opens with the very classic 'I Vow To Thee, My Screen' which unfurls in an atmospheric style a fairly repetitive melody but very pleasant to listen to which takes us back to the 70s with formations like 'Genesis' or 'Barclay James Harvest'. Without transition, it is with the two parts of 'Lullaby For Modern Kids' that we continue with first of all, a very original long progressive development which offers us very beautiful instrumental 'Floydian' passages and beautiful vocal harmonies here and there which are one of the strong points of this group, then, a short 2nd part which is a semi-acoustic with beautiful melodic lines. Change of style with 'High-Tech Parent' which takes us on a light and more rhythmic title which could be a mix between the vocal harmonies of 'Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young' and the ambiences of 'Santana', then the eponymous title of the album begins in a very calm way with arpeggios of guitar and a few layers of keyboards then takes up fullness slightly after 2 minutes for a soothing melody in which the vocals alternate several registers. It is with the masterpiece 'Heaven in Your Eye', of more than 16 minutes, that the album ends with an alternation between sung and instrumental parts which can only recall the years 60/70, the keyboards bringing this delicious vintage side with here and there, oriental tones but which, as often in great inventive and elaborate developments of this kind is not necessarily immediate and therefore requires several listenings to extract all the richness.

In summary, the Norwegians of 'Arabs In Aspic' continue to delight us with a progressive rock with sounds in the lineage of the groups of the 60s / 70s and 'Madness and Magic' is recommended to an audience loving the beginning of the progressive and is to be enjoyed quietly the headphones on the ears...

Line Up / Musicians

Jostein Smeby (Guitar, Vocal), Eskil Nyhus (Drums, Cymbales), Stig Jørgensen (Keybords, Vocal), Erik Paulsen (Bass, Vocal), Alessandro G. Elide (Percussions)

Artist : Moonlight Haze

Album : Lunaris

Release Date : 12-06-2020

Added : 31-07-2020

In 2019, I missed the release of 'De Rerum Natura', the first album of the Italian group 'Moonlight Haze' and it is therefore with 'Lunaris' that I discovered this combo led by the front woman 'Chiara Tricarico' (who is no stranger since she was the singer of 'Temperance' and who also has another project with the Italian formation 'Ravenword') and drummer and keyboardist 'Giulio Capone' ('Timo Tolkki's Avalon' and also ex 'Temperance' among others), album which comes out just a year after its predecessor, which it shows the capacity of this group to provide us with material to put us between the ears. A first listen shows an undeniable talent for direct and melodic titles which are tamed on the spot in a style mixing power metal and symphonic metal.

With 'Till the End', we are right on foot in a powerful and energetic symphonic metal with influences from formations like 'Delain', 'Visions Of Atlantis' or 'Xandria', then 'The Rabbit of the Moon' continues this momentum with a very 'Nightwishian' catchy melody, and 'Lunaris' drives home the point with a magnificent performance by 'Chiara Tricarico' who pays herself the luxury of recording both vocal registers. After this promising start, 'Under Your Spell' marks a power ballad break with melodic lines that would make people jealous of the profession, and it is left with 'Enigma', mixing symphonic and power with a new heady melody which is sung in Italian, brings, for my part, this warmer side, then 'Wish Upon a Scar' further increases the tempo for a fast track and 'The Dangerous Art Of Overthinking' offers us in an epic and symphonic atmosphere, magnificent variations of intensity and tempos that makes it one of my favorites. We continue with titles always at the same level, first of all a lively 'Without You', then the very beautiful ballad with folk accents 'Of Birth And Death' and finally 'Nameless City' between East and West which takes us on a admirable symphonic fresco in the atmospheres of 'Epica' with grandiose choirs, the album ending with the English version of Enigma'.

In summary, the Italians of 'Moonlight Haze' confirm with this 2nd album, a talent and an admirable potential which should place them rather quickly in the front pack of the formations of symphonic metal and 'Lunaris' can only please to all lovers of symphonic metal of the tenors of the genre...

Line Up / Musicians

Chiara Tricarico (Vocal), Giulio Capone (Drums, Keybords), Marco Falanga (Guitar), Alberto Melinato (Guitar), Alessandro Jacobi (Bass) + Guest : Fabio Polo (Violin)

Artist : Jupiter Hollow

Album : Bereavement

Release Date : 12-06-2020

Added : 06-08-2020

With 'Jupiter Hollow', we are fully in the music that I appreciate and it is the typical example that the tags that we want to stick to the artists do not mean much because this second album 'Bereavement 'Canadians' Grant MacKenzie and 'Kenny Parry' take us into a world of great differences by borrowing from different styles of music. You might as well warn you, it took me some time to fully appreciate these 9 compositions which take all their dimensions after sevrall listenings.

With 'L'Eau du Papineau' which begins the album, we are very close to an experimental style that brings us back somewhere in the universe of the beginning of 'Pink-Floyd' with their work on the sounds electronic and the acoustic side that can be found in albums like 'Atom Heart Mother' but with modern sounds, then, 'Scarden Valley' highlights a contemporary style with a very beautiful piano/voice duo before the participation of electric instruments which continue this track in a 'Floydienne' atmosphere and 'The Rosedale' is much more energetic with saturated guitar riffs and a repetitive melodic theme leading to a heady chorus and a remarkable performance of 'Kenny Parry' alternating sweetness and strength in his singing. It is with 'Kipling Forest' that the duo hardens the tone and we certainly have one of the hardest titles to tame but also the most contrasted and the most imaginative with multiple breaks in rhythm and intensity, then, 'The Mill' takes us into rich and inventive progressive metal with an unparalleled sound debauchery that contrasts fabulously with the 2 minutes of the serene atmosphere of the instrumental 'Mandating our Perception'. The album continues with the remarkable long development 'Sawbreaker' in which 'Kenny Parry' alternates clear vocals and growls and whose melodic lines merge between east and west and which one could undoubtedly qualify as modern progressive metal, reminiscent of the 'Porcupine Tree' project of 'Steven Wilson', then, 'Extensive Knowledge' which returns to a more calm atmosphere while keeping this contemporary side in the melodic lines, the acoustic guitar reinforcing this impression of quiet strength. The album ends with 12 minutes of an impressive 'Solar Gift' which explores multiple and varied sound regions with alternations between tension and relaxation with influences from groups like 'Opeth' or 'Pain Of Salvation'.
In summary, with this new album from the Canadians of 'Jupiter Hollow', we embark on an incredible and original journey with compositions that reinvent rock and progressive metal, but, on the flip side, 'Bereavement' risks to be limited to an informed public made up of researchers of new sounds and who like to appropriate an album little by little, listen after listen...

Line Up / Musicians

Grant MacKenzie (Guitar, Bass, Keybords), Kenny Parry (Vocal, Keybords, Drums)

Artist : Paralydium

Album : Worlds Beyond

Release Date : 12-06-2020

Added : 12-08-2020

After 'Mad Hatter', 'Paralydium' is still a new Swedish power metal formation which was created by guitarist 'John Berg' in 2015 and which immediately released a first EP 'The Paralydium Project'. After renaming the band to keep only 'Paralydium', 2020 sees the release of their first studio recording, 'Worlds Beyond' and it should be noted that drummer 'Georg Härnsten Egg' and bassist 'Jonathan Olsson' are also part of the melodic metal formation 'Dynazty'.

A first listen allows us to discover their universe made up of melodies that can be assimilated quite easily while keeping a certain musical research which brings a progressive side to the whole. After the instrumental introduction 'Enter Paralydium' which could be a music of a fantastic film, 'Within The Sphere' opens the debates in an energetic and direct style with a beautiful alternation between the sung parts (very good by the way by 'Mikael Selhin ') and the instrumental parts which bring a hint of progressive metal, then 'Synergy' continues with an introduction highlighting the keyboards of 'Mikael Blanc' and which is one of the two longest tracks of the album with some oriental intonations and Hispanic, the style being resolutely progressive and reminiscent of 'Sons of Apollo' but in a more accessible register. With ‘Finding The Paragon’, we continue in the power of a progressive metal pleasant to listen to with a remarkable guitar solo, then, 'Crystal Of Infinity’, more calm, has a melody that easily enters in your head. After the symphonic break 'Awakening', the leading 'The Source' embarks us on a progressive saga leaving a large place for the instrumental sections, then with 'Into Divinity', we continue to tack in a power metal much more progressive than the first tracks, the album ending with the long development 'Seeker Of The Light' which begins in a calm manner and which gains momentum by constantly changing tempo and intensity under the leadership of a remarkable rhythm section of 'Georg Härnsten Egg '.

In summary, the Swedes of 'Paralydium' are releasing a very pleasant first album to listen to in an accessible and melodic progressive metal which destines 'Worlds Beyond' for a public who loves a power metal leaving a good place for the instrumental parts...

Line Up / Musicians

Mikael Sehlin (Vocal), John Berg (Guitar), Mikael Blanc (Keybords), Jonathan Olsson (Bass), Georg Härnsten Egg (Drums)

Artist : Phil Vincent

Album : Today, Tomorrow, Yesterday

Release Date : 10-06-2020

Added : 02-08-2020

For almost 25 years, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and compositor 'Phil Vincent' have been releasing melodic rock albums with impressive frequency as his latest baby 'Today, Tomorrow, Yesterday' is his 22nd album and he has other more parallel projects including 'Tragik', but the American, despite an undeniable talent, has never known real world recognition. And yet, this new opus contains remarkable compositions in a classic melodic rock but very effective.

11 tracks for nearly 50 minutes of listening, here is the menu of this opus which offers us varied compositions which are divided between melodic rock AOR like the first part of 'Loss', 'Hole In My Heart' , 'Pictures', 'Flying High' or even 'Loser in the End' but also direct and effective energetic rock like 'When I'm Gone', 'Voices', 'The Real You', 'Feed Your Anger' or again 'Same Mistake', the album ending with the beautiful ballad 'Loss (part 2) One Day, We'll Meet Again'.

In summary, 'Phil Vincent' continues on its way by offering us a new album in the tradition of the previous ones and 'Today, Tomorrow, Yesterday' should appeal to all those who love melodic hard rock influenced by the major formations of the 70s / 80s...

Line Up / Musicians

Phil Vincent (Vocal, Tous les instruments) + Guests : Vince O’Regan (Guitar), Gav Cooper (Bass)

Artist : Mesmerising

Album : The Clutters Storyteller

Release Date : 06-06-2020

Added : 13-09-2020

We go to Italy with 'Mesmerising' which is the project of 'Davide Moscato' and who already has 2 albums to his active, 'The Golden Dawn of the Tramp' in 2012 and 'Mental Maze' in 2016 and which released a new opus 'The Clutters Storyteller' which he wrote after the death of his mother and to whom he pays tribute. In a melodic progressive style, 'The Clutters Storyteller' takes us back to the 70s with on the one hand the Mellotron and the Hammond of keyboardist 'Giovanni Pastorino' bringing the vintage side and on the other hand the Saxophone and Flute of 'Martin Grice' which brings a felted and airy side.

The first two tracks 'Feel…' and '… My Dream' form only one and welcome us in a quiet and melancholy first composition in the vein of formations like 'BJH' with very beautiful solos by 'Floydian' guitar, the high pitched vocals of 'Davide Moscato' reinforcing this delicate atmosphere, then, 'Ballad of a Creepy Night' is a beautiful mid-tempo to which are added remarkable accompaniments of the saxophone and the flute. We continue in this relaxing atmosphere with very beautiful melodies, first with the light 'Slave Your Shell' in a pop style, then, 'Underground', one of my favorites of the album, which brings a progressive side with remarkable instrumental sections and several changes of tempo throughout the title and a symphonic final in which the flute twirls deliciously, and as for 'Vortex', after a rhythmic part, the tempo mellows for a delicate section and has a finale in which the Saxophone of 'Martin Grice' strangely recalls the end of the first part 'Shine On Crazy Diamond' of the 'Floyds' in slightly faster. With 'False Reality', we let ourselves be lulled by a stripped piano/voice ballad filled with emotion, then, the short 'In a Different Dimension', in a cinematic symphonic style gives way to a new melodic jewel, 'The Man Who's Sleeping' tagged seventies with multiple changes of tempos and a very beautiful instrumental final, the album ending in serenity with the eponymous title of the album, a ballad which rocks us one last time with the sweet voice of 'Davide Moscato', the delicious accompaniment on the flute and very beautiful guitar and keyboards solos with a hidden ending made of sound effects.

In summary, this latest baby of ‘Davide Moscato’, filled with poetry and emotion, is a great success and ‘The Clutters Storyteller’ is recommended to a large audience who like an intimate and quiet progressive...

Line Up / Musicians

Davide Moscato (Vocal, Keybords) + Guests : Giovanni Pastorino (Keybords), Martin Grice (Saxophone, Flute), Simone 'Simonetto' Amodeo (Guitar), Fabio Zuffanti (Bass), Paolo Tixi (Drums)

Artist : The Opium Cartel

Album : Valor

Release Date : 05-06-2020

Added : 08-08-2020

'The Opium Cartel' is the project of multi-instrumentalist 'Jacob Holm Lupo' who is also the frontman of 'White Willow' and who releases his 3rd studio recording after 'Ardor' which already dates from 2013. His style is influenced by a refined pop of the 70s / 80s with some progressive passages which can make think of formations like 'Alan Parsons Project' or 'Jon & Vangelis', the voice of 'Silje Hubeloer', main performer, the rhythms used and the preponderant presence of the keyboards not being foreign to this feeling.

'In The Street' begins the album in a light and quiet atmosphere with a first melody that settles gently in the hollow of your ear and, from this title, we think of 'Jon & Vangelis', then, 'Slow Run' continues in this delicate atmosphere with a slow tempo which unrolls beautiful melodic lines, the soft voice of 'Silje Hubeloer' further reinforcing this feeling of fullness. Despite an introduction in a style quite similar to the previous titles, 'A Question of Re-Entry' takes us on an instrumental track with electronic sounds and voiceovers in the first part then the second part of the title increases in power with a 'Floydian' guitar solo to fall back into a few keyboard notes. With 'Nighwings', it's a return to the electronic sounds of the 80s with the vocals of the very young 'Ina A' who is none other than the daughter of 'Jacob Holm Lupo' and who gives a very nice vocal performance, then we find 'Silje Hubeloer' on vocals in a sweet ballad but also in 'Under Thunder', more rhythmic with a second beautiful instrumental part. The end of the album scrolls' The Curfew Bell 'which still recalls the sweetness of' Jon & Vangelis', 'A Maelstrom of Stars' with a distinguished guest, 'Bjørn Riis' 'from Airbag' (review to come from their last album) which brings a 'Floydian' side to this title and finally the cover of the hard-rock group 'Ratt', 'What's It Gonna Be' which is interpret in a style of the 80s and in an electronic atmosphere at the level of keyboards and rhythm section.

In summary, 'Jacob Holm Lupo' with his project 'The Opium Cartel' releases a new album very pleasant to listen to in a pop style tinged with progressive and embellished with electronic sounds and 'Valor' is recommended to an audience loving electronic sounds that take us back to the 80s...

Line Up / Musicians

Jacob Holm Lupo (Guitar, Keybords, Percussions) + Guests : Silje Hubeloer (Vocal), Ole Ovstedal (Guitar, Bass), Bjorn Riss (Guitar), Lars Fredrik Froislie (Drums), Ina A (Vocal), Leah Marcu (Vocal), Maria Grigoryeva (Violin), Ilia Skinbinsky (Saxophone), Alexander Stenerud (Vocal), Bjørn Riis (Guitar)

Artist : Rubber Tea

Album : Infusion

Release Date : 05-06-2020

Added : 10-08-2020

'Rubber Tea' is a new progressive rock project initiated three years ago by young and talented German musicians and singers and who are influenced by different currents with first of all the formations of the beginning of the progressive like 'King Crimson' ( you can listen to a cover of 'Moonchild' on you tube recorded during the confinement) but also they flesh out their compositions of jazzy ambient with the addition of brass instruments.

The album opens with the longest composition of the album, 'On Misty Mountains / Downstream' divided into two parts, a first sung in which we discover the soft and delicate vocals of 'Vanessa Gross' in a psychedelic atmosphere which can recall the beginnings of 'Barclay James Harvest' then a second instrumental part which is close to the 'Pink-Floyd' of the 'Meddle' and 'Atom Heart Mother' years. It is with 'In Weeping Wates' that the jazzy intonations brought by the vibraphone meet a progressive unrolling a quiet and peacefull melody, then 'The Traitor' continues in this serene atmosphere that one could qualify as progressive jazz and which reminds me in some places the Englishs of 'Renaissance'. The album continues with 'Plastic Dream' always in the sweetness with beautiful instrumental parts of keyboards, then, with 'Storm Glass', we are again full foot in the psychedelic with electronic effects in the vocals and 'The Droubt' returns to influences from the sixties with always the same references, the album ending with the instrumental 'American Dream' which one last time takes us in a 'Floydian' mood.

In summary, the Germans of 'Rubber Tea' show for a first album and very young members an impressive maturity and 'Infusion' is to advise to an audience loving a soft and quiet progressive which refers to the beginning of this style in the 60s/70s..

Line Up / Musicians

Vanessa Gross (Vocal, Saxophone, Flute, Percussions), Lennart Hinz (Keybords, Vocal), Jonas Roustai (Guitar), David Erzmann (Bass), Henri Pink (Drums), Maik Scheling (Guitar) + Guests : Christopher Olesch (Vibraphone), Alex Petratos (Congas, Güiro), Jakob Rubin (Saxophone), Kotenfreak Lasse (Trompette)

Artist : Jargon

Album : The Fading Thought

Release Date : 30-05-2020

Added : 10-09-2020

It was with a little delay that I discovered the first solo album of 'John "Jargon" Kosmidis' who is also the leader of the Greek progressive rock group 'Verbal Delirium', because 'The Fading Thought' was already released a few months ago. In a style mixing progressive rock and classical music, the term symphonic rock is well suited to this first baby of the Greek who makes us travel in a world made of orchestral and melodious sounds bathed in beautiful melancholic atmospheres.

From the start, the instrumental 'The Film' sets the tone in a classic atmosphere with only orchestral instruments which unroll a romantic melody, then, 'In Search Of The Invisible Thin Line', after a calm introduction to the piano, introduces the electric instruments always accompanied by the piano and strings in a progressive melodious atmosphere with a beautiful vocal performance of 'Jargon' which has a range that perfectly matches the refined atmosphere of the ensemble. After a new instrumental, the short 'Dance Of The Framed Words', more energetic, the eponymous title of the album, of more than 7 minutes, is a very beautiful symphonic progressive fresco full of sensitivity with several overlapping parts including a central part flirting between rock and jazz, then, a new subdued instrumental 'The Light', close to the atmosphere of the first title 'The Film' precedes a new progressive gem, 'Time Is Running Out', in a vintage atmosphere reminiscent of the beginning of the symphonic progressive with magnificent melodic lines and a 'Guilmourian' guitar solo. The third part of the opus offers us, first of all, 'How Can I' in a disturbing atmosphere with a remarkable vocal performance of 'Jargon' which reminds me of certain atmospheres that 'Alan Reed' gave off with 'Pallas', then, 'The Last Temptation' and 'Window To The World', without transition between the two titles, which embark us for a new admirable progressive development with an uneven tempo which brings all the poetry and the emotion to the whole which undulates between melancholic serenity and energy, always on the razor's edge and certainly with the most expressive vocal interpretation of the opus and a final that give goosebumps : simply dazzling !

In summary, 'Jargon' offers us a first album rich in emotion which, given its richness and its originality and this released emotional force, always between tensions and relaxations, requires some listenings to tame it well. ; "The Fading Thought" is recommended for audiences who like symphonic rock, mixing electric and orchestral instruments with easy-to-access melodic lines...

Line Up / Musicians

Jargon (Vocal, Keybords, Piano), Nikitas Kissonas (Guitar), Leonidas Petropoulos (Bass), Wil Bow (Drums), Kostas Karitzis (Violin), Stelios Papanastasis (Alto), Thodoris Mouzakitis (Violin), Aris Zervas (Cello) + Guest : Lupe (Chœurs)

Artist : Wild Souls

Album : Queen of My Heart

Release Date : 29-05-2020

Added : 02-07-2020

As I did in late 2019 (see here), for a week, at the rate of 2 per day, I present to you a set of albums released for this first semester 2020 in melodic rock and hard-rock in addition to those already reviewed like for example ’Bonfire’, ’SteelCity’, ’Grand Design’ or still ’Xtasy’. The order of upload corresponds to the chronology of the album releases.

Melodic hard rock albums rock of the first semester 2020

In melodic hard rock, we are not used to listen to bands from the Mediterranean basin but rather from Scandinavian countries; and yet, 'Wild Souls' is indeed a Greek band which is already releasing its 3rd studio album 'Queen of My Heart', the last 'Game of Love' dating from 2016 and which have all assets of the best Swedish or Finnish bands. They offer us a quality album with artists who each bring their stone to the edifice and the result is remarkable because the 12 compositions puts you in shape for a whole day in a classic hard-rock but with a formidable efficiency. As examples, we can cite the powerful melodic hits 'Nothing But Loving You', 'Ready to Rock' or 'Hold Me Tight' but they also have a talent for more AOR titles with ‘Love Ain’t No Lie’, 'Queen Of My Heart' or even 'Street Eagles'.

Line Up / Musicians

George Nikolaou (Vocal), Kostis Tsiligiris (Guitar), Thanos Kalantzopoulos (Guitar), Leyteris Naso (Bassd), Michael Saroglou (Drums)

Artist : Outside In

Album : Karmatrain

Release Date : 29-05-2020

Added : 25-07-2020

‘Outside In’ is a new project by artists from a country that doesn’t make the headlines in progressive rock, I named New Zealand, but who released their first admirable studio recording. Led by guitarist 'Jonnie Barnard', this first opus 'Karmatrain' is inspired by the philosophical novel 'Siddhartha' by 'Hermann Hesse' (each title being taken from a chapter of the roman) and 'Outside In' evolve in a calm and peaceful progressive rock mixing atmospheric and psychedelic which can make think of formations like 'Edenya', 'Realisea' or 'My Arrival' to name only albums that I reviewed recently.

The album begins with 'Let Me Go', a slow and calm semi-acoustic title in which we discover the delicate song of 'Mickey Brown' with very beautiful vocal arrangements, then, 'Blue Dragon' continues in this peaceful and restful atmosphere with a memorable chorus and the 2 compositions which follow 'Echos and Stepping Stones' and 'Bridges', more rhythmic, while remaining quite quiet, can recall the atmospheres that 'Sting' can put in some of his compositions. Following 'Morning Warning' which unfolds peacefully to the rhythm of a rhythm section marked with very beautiful melodic lines, then 'The Lake' continues in this lively atmosphere with some more supported guitar riffs and, as for 'The Garden of Light', the very slow tempo with a deep bass makes me think of the moods of the Norwegians of 'Gazpacho' or those of the formation 'Nosound'. The rest of the album continues in this atmosphere with a quiet 'Mushrooms' which offers us beautiful vocal harmonies, then with 'Ferryman' which alternates tensions and relaxation, then the most classic 'Pass on the Flag' with accents of variety international of the 80s reminiscent of 'Sade', the album ending first of all with , 'Om', more energetic while keeping a slow tempo and finally with the 8 minutes of 'I Am Not the One' which sums up well the album with variations of intensity recalling the atmospheres of the British of 'Anathema'.

In summary, New Zealanders from 'Outside In' are releasing a very promising first album which improves with listening and ‘Karmatrain’ is intended for an audience who likes a progressive rock mixing atmospheric and psychedelic...

Line Up / Musicians

Mikey Brown (Vocal), Jonnie Barnard (Guitar), Adam Tobeck (Drums), Elliott Seung Il Park (Bass), Joe Park (Guitar)

Artist : Souls of Tide

Album : Black Magic

Release Date : 22-05-2020

Added : 01-07-2020

As I did in late 2019 (see here), for a week, at the rate of 2 per day, I present to you a set of albums released for this first semester 2020 in melodic rock and hard-rock in addition to those already reviewed like for example ’Bonfire’, ’SteelCity’, ’Grand Design’ or still ’Xtasy’. The order of upload corresponds to the chronology of the album releases.

Melodic hard rock albums rock of the first semester 2020

'Souls of Tide' is a Norwegian hard rock band that released their 2nd album 'Black Magic', their first baby 'Join The Circus' from 2016. They evolve in a classic hard-rock that brings us back to the 70s with the pioneers of the genre like ‘Led Zeppelin‘, 'Deep Purple' or 'Uriah-Heep'.

Line Up / Musicians

Vegar Larsen (Vocal), Anders Langberg (Guitar), Ole Kristian Østby (Guitar), Øyvind Strõnen Johannesen (Bass), Tommy Kristiansen (Baterie), Kjetil Banken (Keybords)

Artist : FM

Album : Synchronized

Release Date : 22-05-2020

Added : 04-07-2020

To continue in melodic hard-rock, after the last ’Vega’, the British of ‘FM’ come back with a new baby ‘Synchronized’ which succeeds the magnificent ‘Atomic Generation’. It's without surprise that we find the melodic jewels they used to offer us in previous albums and all fans of accessible melodic rock from the 80s will once again be delighted by these 12 compositions.

And it starts strong with the eponymous title of the album which embarks us for an unstoppable melody in an FM style recalling all the big names of the 80s, then, 'Superstar' continues in this way in a flirting style with of international variety. With 'Best of Times', we get closer to the Westcoast style and I have the impression of hearing 'Eagles' a few decades ago and this feeling is repeated with the beautiful ballad 'Ghosts of You and I' and 'Angels Cried'. The rest of the album continues to rock us to the rhythm of melodies close to groups like 'Toto', 'Journey' or 'Survivor' like 'Broken' with its radiant choruses or as the catchy 'Change for the Better' or even like the energetic 'Hell or Hight Water' where you can't help but beat time. We can also note the title 'Pray' which begins as a gospel but which quickly turns into a remarkable rhythm and blues out of the general atmodphere of the opus and the album ends with a very good 'Ready for Me' which embark one last time on melodic rock of the 80s.

In summary, the English of 'FM' continues to do what they can do so well, melodies tailor-made for an audience that raised in the baby bottle of elegant and radiant rock from the 80s but also is intended for a fairly large audience because all the compositions are accessible at first listen...

Line Up / Musicians

Steve Overland (Vocal, Guitar), Merv Goldsworthy (Bass), Jem Davis (Keybords), Jim Kirkpatrick (Guitar), Pete Jupp (Drums)

Artist : Caligula’s Horse

Album : Rise Radiant

Release Date : 22-05-2020

Added : 06-07-2020

The Australians of 'Caligula's Horse' have become over the years an essential formation of progressive music as well as combos like 'Leprous' (see their last album here) or 'Pain of Salvation' (see their latest album here) and 'Rise Radiant' is already their 5th album since their first studio recording 'Moments from Ephemeral City' in 2011. After the very good 'In Contact' in 2017, this new opus, which borders on 60 minutes, demonstrates, if it were still necessary, a talent for progressive pieces that we are gradually appropriating and which, finally, thanks to a wealth and overflowing inventiveness, enter the list of albums that will forever remain in your memory with this style that keeps total creative freedom that allows them to evolve over the years.

The album begins with 'The Tempest' and 'Slow Violence' which are typical of a progressive metal alternating power and relaxation without ever being too technical because the melodic lines are easily assimilated, then, the first long development arrives with 'Salt' which evolves towards a less demonstrative progressive but which, for my part, conveys much more emotion and which can make think of 'Leprous' in the musical approach with this feeling of being constantly on the razor's edge, ready to implode. And it is in the direction taken in the title 'Salt' that the other titles will follow with first of all 'Resonate' while retaining which is far from the power of metal but which brings a real breath of fresh air to the album, then 'Oceanrise', even if it presents powerful passages, continues in this atmosphere alternating tensions and relaxation and 'Valkyrie' returns to a more direct style but still as imaginative. Then come the two major titles of the album : first the peaceful 'Autumn' which is a magnificent progressive ballad with atmospheric instrumental parts, then the long development 'The Ascent' of more than 10 minutes which is a bit a summary of these two directions taken in the album and which is at the peak of a metal which is constantly in opposition between overflowing energy and contained tension. The album ends with 2 covers, first, the remarkable 'Don't Give Up' of 'Pater Gabriel' which corresponds well to the direction taken by the group with an interpretation full of restraint and completely revisited, then, 'Message To My Girl' from 'K's Choice' also completely reappropriated.

In summary, this last album still shows an evolution among the Australians of 'Caligula's Horse' who offer us 2 different facets, the one we already knew, with a powerful, inventive and rich progressive metal but also another facet that we knew less, eyeing towards 'Leprous' and much more contained which will make this album, without a doubt, one of the best releases of 2020 in progressive metal and should reach a relatively informed public who likes big gaps in metal because 'Rise Radiant' necessarily requires a lot of listenings to extract all the substantial marrow...

Line Up / Musicians

Jim Grey (Vocal), Adrian Goleby (Guitar), Dale Prinsse (Bass), Sam Vallen (Guitar), Josh Griffin (Drums)

Artist : One Desire

Album : Midnight Empire

Release Date : 22-05-2020

Added : 07-07-2020

After the noticed first album 'One Desire' in 2017 thanks to its hit 'Hurt' wich count more than 3,600,000 listenings on Spotify, the Finns of 'One Desire' release a new album called 'Midnight Empire'. Inevitably this puts a lot of pressure but it is clear that this last baby is a condensed of unstoppable melodies to consume without moderation perhaps a notch above its predecessor and the Finns continue to ride the wave of formations of the great Nordic melodic hard-rock family like 'Eclipse', 'HEAT', 'WET'< / a> or 'Nordic Union'.

Of the 10 tracks on the album, there are about… 10 melodic jewels that we immediately appropriate by starting with an energetic 'Shadowman' with a first refrain that tickles your neurons and gives you a hell of a peach for all day, then, 'After You're Gone', more classic, brings us back to the 80s with heady choirs which give a mad desire to accompany them. Useless to make some title to title because I would not repeat the same thing 8 other times and I will simply quote the two quieter compositions in which they also excel, first of all the magnificent 'Through The Fire' which begins in ballad acoustic and which turns into a power ballad for a final acceleration with a remarkable guitar solo, then 'Rio' which also begins in ballad and which unfolds a beautiful melody in a style close to AOR and then 'Only When I Breathe 'which ends the album in peace with a last ballad overflowing with emotion.

In summary, as you will understand, no surprise for lovers of melodic hard-rock, you can go there with your eyes closed and taste this new Finnish baby of 'One Desire' without moderation because it's another melodic bomb which shows that they have, in two albums, taken a major place in the long list of melodic hard-rock bands of the moment (see Melodic hard rock albums rock of the first semester 2020)...

Line Up / Musicians

André Linman (Vocal, Guitar), Jimmy Westerlund (Vocal, Guitar), Jonas Kuhlberg (Bass), Ossi Sivula (Drums) + Guest : Dani Strömbäck (Keybords)

Artist : Mad Hatter

Album : Pieces of Reality

Release Date : 22-05-2020

Added : 21-07-2020

'Mad Hatter' is a Swedish formation (one more) which has only 3 years of existence and which releases its second album 'Pieces of Reality' after the eponymous album of the group 'Mad Hatter ' dating from 2018. Sweden is much better known for melodic hard rock bands and for changing, 'Mad Hatter' offers us a galloping power metal with catchy tempos recalling references in the style like 'Rhapsody Of Fire' but also other groups like 'Stratovarius'< / a>, 'Firewind' or 'Edguy'. On the inspiration side, it is still ‘Lewis Carroll’ who is in the spotlight with his ‘Alice in Wonderland’.

After the short introduction 'Fever Dreams' which sets a disturbing ambiance, 'Master of the Night' tumbles into a debauchery of power and alternates fast passages and a more sedate refrain with a super effective melody, then 'Queen of Hearts' adds a layer with beautiful male vocal harmonies, an unleashed rhythmic section and 'Petter Hjerpe' who, gives himself thoroughly in a powerful and fairly high pitched register. The following is in the same vein with a catchy ‘Rutledge Asylum’ and the impetuous ‘The Children from the Stars’ in which the double pedal is at the party. After so much energy, the second part of the album gives us compositions in the same style and, even if the title track of the album has a slower tempo, it is nonetheless powerful with an infallible melody , then the energetic 'The Valley' brings pleasant Spanish intonations and with 'Ignite', we come back to the most classic with a masterful guitar solo in the second part. The end of the album makes us scroll, 'Awake' with a melody in the second part which will certainly be taken up in chorus in live, the epic 'Collector of Souls', and finally a last firework with 'I'll Save the World' which closes the album in a galloping atmosphere.

In summary, the Swedes of 'Mad Hatter' release a fairly linear album but with super efficient compositions and 'Pieces of Reality' is intended for all lovers of power and unleashed speed metal with melodies that you integrate instantly...

Line Up / Musicians

Petter Hjerpe (Vocal, Guitar), Dennis Eriksson (Guitar), Magnus Skoog (Bass), Alfred Fridhagen (Drums)

Artist : Marhold

Album : A Homemade World

Release Date : 22-05-2020

Added : 23-07-2020

After 4 EPs since 2008, year of their formation, it was only 12 long years later that the Swiss of 'Marhold' decided to release a first LP of a fairly long format since the opus contains 56 minutes mixing rock and metal in a progressive style with a front woman who, in addition to offering us great vocal performances also plays violin which makes that this album is quite unique in this genre.

All starts with an instrumental title with some piano and violin notes which introduce the musical theme of the first track 'Homemade' which, after a powerful start, gives way to the violin and then to the singing of 'Alexandra Poraszka' in a progressive atmosphere with a title made of several drawers which alternate energetic and calm passages, then, 'Our Mind', which was the subject of a remarkable artistic video (see above) is more classic rock without real progressive component and 'Hymenoptera' deploys a catchy symphonic instrumental in which the violin twirls. In three titles, we already have a fairly extensive panel of this formation and what follows reserves us other surprises with 'Whirls In The Sky' and the instrumental 'Intervention' which are only one title with first , a mixture of rock and progressive hard-rock that reminds of formations like 'Halestorm' with an additional progressive component, then, the instrumental which changes of register by taking over the musical theme but in an exotic atmosphere and where the violin of 'Alexandra Poraszka' enchants us once again. The following continues in this melting pot between rock and metal with a powerful 'Icy Sun' with its heady refrain, the energetic 'Power of Nature' which flirts with industrial metal, 'Break Out' between ballad and mid-tempo, 'Trapped' and its slow tempo in a tormented atmosphere close to doom style, the magnificent ballad 'The Always Spinning Wheel', with a delicate first part, opposite to the previous titles, and which rises slightly in power for a very beautiful final , the album ending with the catchy 'World Crashing Down' with beautiful melodic lines that settle easily in our head.

In summary, this album of the Swiss of 'Marhold' shows all the talent of this formation which knew how to tame quite different styles which makes of 'A Homemade World' a very varied opus which should please a loving public mix rock, hard-rock and metal, all this sprinkled with a pinch of progressive...

Line Up / Musicians

Alexandra Poraszka (Vocal, Violin), Marc-Alain Gertsch (Guitar), Sarah Zaugg (Bass), Philip Feller (Drums)

Artist : Room Experience

Album : Another Time and Place

Release Date : 20-05-2020

Added : 01-07-2020

As I did in late 2019 (see here), for a week, at the rate of 2 per day, I present to you a set of albums released for this first semester 2020 in melodic rock and hard-rock in addition to those already reviewed like for example ’Bonfire’, ’SteelCity’, ’Grand Design’ or still ’Xtasy’. The order of upload corresponds to the chronology of the album releases.

Melodic hard rock albums rock of the first semester 2020

'Room Experience' is the project of the Italian 'Gianluca Firmo' created in 2014 and including the singer 'David Redman' (among others 'Pink Cream 69',) with a first album in 2015 ('Room Experience'. They deliver us with this new opus, an AOR which takes us back to the 80s and 90s with accessible melodies which gives the impression that they have always been part of our life. For the occasion, they invited some artists of the melodic hard-rock scene including the very famous 'Alessandro Del Vecchio' who recently released his last baby from the project 'Edge Of Forever'.

Line Up / Musicians

Gianluca Firmo (Vocal, Keybords), David Readman (Vocal), Steve De Biasi (Guitar), Davide Barbierai (Keybords), Pierpaolo Monti (Drums), Simon Dredo (Bass) + Guests : Sven Larsson (Guitar), Alessandro Del Vecchio (Keybords), Iván Gonzalez (Guitar), Lorenzo Foddai (Guitar), Marcello Spera (Choirs), Matteo Serra (Guitar), Stefano Zeni (Guitar)

Artist : Firewind

Album : Firewind

Release Date : 15-05-2020

Added : 20-06-2020

After a very good 'Immotals' in 2017 and a new change of line up because the new singer of the group is now 'Herbie Langhans' (who participated to the 'Avantasia' and 'Ayreon' projects), the 'Greeks' of 'Firewind', led by their guitarist 'Kostas Karamitroudis' (nicknamed 'Gus G.') released a new album under the name of the group, as if 'Gus G.' wanted to return to the essentials of heavy metal of the begining. And after a first listening, it is indeed this feeling which prevails and one could also suspect it due to the absence of keyboard player, the guitar of ‘Gus. G. taking a prominent place.

From the first title, 'Welcome to the Empire', after a remarkable introduction to the guitar of 'Gus G.', the Power machine starts up with an impressive firepower and 'Decour', which follows, is not outdone with 'Herbie Langhans' which provides a great performance in a powerful register and 'Gus G.' which continues to 'knitting' with his guitar. In the same vein we can cite, ‘Break Away’, ‘Perfect Stranger’ or ‘Kill The Pain’. In the same vein we can cite, ‘Break Away’, ‘Perfect Stranger’ or ‘Kill The Pain’. With 'Rising Fire', the tempo is a little slower but it's always the impression of power which prevails and makes me think of the English of 'Saxon', just like the title which follows 'Orbitual Sunrise' with a chorus that reminds me of 'Surrender' of 'Rainbow'. We can also cite the remarkable mid-tempo 'Overdrive' with its heady chorus, the hit 'Space Cowboy' and its introduction close to the Germans of 'Scorpions' and again the ballad 'Longing to Know You' with its classic chorus but so effective to add the best metal ballads.

In summary, this last baby of the Greeks of 'Firewind' is a real dynamite in bar and 'Gus G' gratifies us with powerful and effective compositions which are immediately tamed and returns to the origin of this formation which destines this album to an audience that likes a power metal that goes to the basics...

Line Up / Musicians

Kostas Karamitroudis "Gus G." (Guitar), Herbie Langhans (Vocal), Jo Nunez (Drums), Petros Christo (Bass)

Artist : Gathering of Kings

Album : Discovery

Release Date : 15-05-2020

Added : 21-06-2020

‘Victor Olsson’ put it back just over a year after the heady ‘First Mission’ with a new album, ‘Discovery’. Lovers of 80s melodies that run through your head during all day, you are in the right place because this last baby contains 11 melodic nuggets for... 12 tracks, simply because the 12th track is only a short atmospheric and instrumental introduction. So we find a good part of the small Swedish family who participated in the first chapter some new kids, the singer of 'Nocturnal Rites', 'Jonny Lindkvist', the keyboard player 'Mathias Kihlberg', or the flutist 'Mathias Kihlberg' but we can regret that 'Erik Martensson' is no longer part of the adventure.

After the instrumental introduction 'Starsleeper', let's go for more than 60 minutes of unstoppable melodies which immediately enter your head starting with 'Riders of the Light' and his first guitar solo which puts you in shape for a whole day, then, 'Heaven on the Run' continues on this path with a second guitar solo just as enjoyable. Each title deserves to be cited and I will take a few other examples with 'Highway to Paradise' which brings us back to the 80s with formations like 'Toto' or 'Alan Parsons Project, the magnificent ballad 'The One That Got Away' , the catchy and joyful 'Lorelei' with a new heady chorus or the energetic 'Revelation' that makes you stomp from start to finish.

In summary, no need to draw a picture, we are having a wonderful time listening to this last Swedish album from 'GOK' which confirms to us that this country is magic for this kind of music and 'Discovery' is to be advised to a very large public loving the beautiful melodies that give you energy for a whole day : to consume without moderation...

Line Up / Musicians

Victor Olsson (Vocal, Guitar, Keybords, Chœurs), Alexander Frisborg (Vocal), Apollo Papathanasio (Vocal), Efraim Larsson (Drums), Jonas Källsbäck (Drums), Jonny Lindkvist (Vocal), Rick Altzi (Vocal), Stefan Helleblad (Guitar), Tobias Jansson (Vocal) + Guests : Erik Wiss (Keybords), Henrik Sethsson (Choirs), Joel Selsfors (Keybords), Mathias Kihlberg (Flute), Nalle Påhlsson (Bass), Ron Dahlgren (Choirs), Theresia Svensson (Choirs)

Artist : Pattern-Seeking Animals

Album : Prehensile Tales

Release Date : 15-05-2020

Added : 22-06-2020

After a first album ‘Pattern-Seeking Animals’ less than a year ago, the Americans of ‘Pattern-Seeking Animals’ released a new album ‘Prehensile Tales’. The members or ex members of 'Spock's Beard' continue their adventure and 'Prehensile Tales' is roughly in the same format as its predecessor, almost an hour of listening, with the difference that it has only 6 tracks , against 9 for the first, but with longer titles which make think that the followers of progressive are going to feast.

At the first listen, it is indeed what we discover with 'Raining Hard In Heaven' which takes us on a first long development with sounds of keyboards typical of the 70s and beautiful instrumental parts which recall the melodic lines of 'Renaissance' (see their latest album here and the remarkable covers of 'Fleesh' here) and 'Here In My Autumn', which follows, is a very melodic composition which borders on 8 minutes with a light and pastoral atmosphere, the addition of the flute reinforcing this feeling. Then come the two shortest tracks of the album with first of all, 'Elegant Vampires', more conventional, which served as video promotion of the album (see above), and which has a melody which s 'installs easily in your head, and then, 'Why Don't We Run' with new simple but very effective melodic lines in Spanish intonations brought by the melody but also by the short instrumental section using a trumpet. It is with 'Lifeboat' that we hold the centerpiece of the album, a long title of more than 17 minutes in multi-drawers typical of a sought-after and inventive progressive that alternates different atmospheres and that captivates the listener from the first to the last note. Then 'Soon But Not Today', of 12 minutes, ends the albumin a new progressive saga with a rhythmic and light first part then a calmer second in an atmosphere of musical comedy and which takes scale for a magnificent finale which can only make one think of a certain group of the 60s et.

In summary, it did not take long for the Americans of 'Pattern-Seeking Animals' to release a remarkable new album in a rich and inventive progressive with magnificent melodic lines and 'Prehensile Tales' is typically the genre of album that should appeal to fans of progressive music through the ages who should add it to their ideal music collection...

Line Up / Musicians

John Boegehold (Keybords), Ted Leonard (Vocal, Guitar), Jimmy Keegan (Vocal, Drums), Dave Meros (Bass)

Artist : Ravenscry

Album : 100

Release Date : 15-05-2020

Added : 25-06-2020

I discovered the Italians of 'Ravenscry' with the album 'The Invisible' released in 2017 and 2020 sees the release of a new studio recording, simply called '100'. For this opus, we find this particular style of the group which borrows from different types if music between rock and metal with a front woman who brings a very personal touch. Note a change of line-up since the guitarist ‘Paul Raimondi’ is replaced by ‘Federico Schiavoni’.

11 compositions, this is the menu of this opus with durations below 5 minutes which suggests a fairly direct style compared to the last concept album. ‘Maybe’ starts with catchy melodic rock and a melody that fits easily in the head and electronic tones accompanying the riffs of electric guitars, then 'Binary' slightly hardens the tone with a heavier title and 'Giulia Stefani' shows all his talent to adapt her singing according to the intensity and 'The Gamer', which follows, approaches a melodic industrial metal and I would dare to make the comparison with the last 'Within Temptation'. Follows 'The Door Inside' which, with its heady melody makes it one of the hits of the album, then, 'The Entertainer' begins in a very calm way with some melancholic piano notes then suddenly takes power for a mid-tempo whose refrain remains engraved in your head. In the second part of the album, the melodic lines are less immediate but we can quote the catchy 'Leader' with a new very effective refrain, the mid-tempo 'Paper Boat' more retained and it is in this genre title that I find that 'Giulia Stefani' transmits the greatest emotion or even 'All My Faces' which can recall the ex band 'Stream of Passion'.

In summary, the Italians of 'Ravenscry' are releasing a quality album, confirming all the potential and originality they had already shown with the previous album with certainly more accessibility and, '100' is to recommend to an audience mixing rock and metal and loving the diversity of styles in these two genres...

Line Up / Musicians

Giulia Stefani (Vocal), Federico Schiavoni (Guitar), Mauro Paganelli (Guitar), Andrea "Fagio" Fagiuoli (Bass), Simon Carminati (Drums)

Artist : Sapphire Eyes

Album : Magic Moments

Release Date : 15-05-2020

Added : 29-06-2020

As I did in late 2019 (see here), for a week, at the rate of 2 per day, I present to you a set of albums released for this first semester 2020 in melodic rock and hard-rock in addition to those already reviewed like for example ’Bonfire’, ’SteelCity’, ’Grand Design’ or still ’Xtasy’. The order of upload corresponds to the chronology of the album releases.

Melodic hard rock albums rock of the first semester 2020

'Sapphire Eyes' is another Swedish group which has just released their 3rd studio recording 'Magic Moments' after 'Sapphire Eyes' in 2012 and 'Breath Of Eyes' in 2018. This new album is aptly named because we spend magical moments listening to these 11 compositions in an AOR style with unstoppable melodies that immediately get stuck in your head with a magnificent final ballad to add to the best melodic rock ballads. We can also note that the singer 'Annette Oleon' (see her last album here and her last collaboration with ‘Russell Allen’ here) who had already been invited on the previous opus is also part of that one in 'Bring Back The Night'.

Line Up / Musicians

Kimmo Blom (Vocal), Christer Engholm (Bass), Fredrik Eriksson (Drums), Emil Knabe (Guitar), Niclas Olsson (Keybords) + Guests : Anette Olzon (Vocal), Patrik Svärd (Guitar)

Artist : Captain Black Beard

Album : Sonic Forces

Release Date : 15-05-2020

Added : 30-06-2020

As I did in late 2019 (see here), for a week, at the rate of 2 per day, I present to you a set of albums released for this first semester 2020 in melodic rock and hard-rock in addition to those already reviewed like for example ’Bonfire’, ’SteelCity’, ’Grand Design’ or encore ’Xtasy’. The order of upload corresponds to the chronology of the album releases.

Melodic hard rock albums rock of the first semester 2020

And we continue with Sweden which offers us with 'Captain Black Beard' a new melodic rock album 'Sonic Forces' which is their 5th studio recording and they have now taken a cruising rhythm of one album every two years, 'It's a Mouthful' dating from 2016 and 'Struck by Lightning' from 2018. 10 tracks all as melodic as each other short enough for 41 minutes total, it is the menu of this album which embarks us in an AOR style recalling the formations of the 80s like 'Survivor', 'Journey' or even 'Foreigner'.

Line Up / Musicians

Martin Holsner (Vocal), Robert Majd (Bass), Christian Ek (Guitar), Vinnie Stromberg (Drums)

Artist : Stoneflower

Album : Finally

Release Date : 15-05-2020

Added : 30-06-2020

As I did in late 2019 (see here), for a week, at the rate of 2 per day, I present to you a set of albums released for this first semester 2020 in melodic rock and hard-rock in addition to those already reviewed like for example ’Bonfire’, ’SteelCity’, ’Grand Design’ or still ’Xtasy’. The order of upload corresponds to the chronology of the album releases.

Melodic hard rock albums rock of the first semester 2020

The Norwegians of 'StoneFlower' started their career some twenty years ago with a first album 'Crack a Little Smile' in 2003 and returned in 2014 for a second opus 'Destination Anywhere' . Their style is close to a classic AOR with influences from groups like ‘Toto’ or ‘Asia’. Some compositions are energetic like 'Gonna Let You Go' or 'The Devil Never Cries' but most are calm mid-tempos like 'What Can Be Done', 'Calling All Stations', 'Shivering Hands', 'Through the Fire' or 'How Does It Feel' and the ballads are not forgotten with 'Kaylee', close to westcoast genre or the last title 'Fall', which is a magnificent refined piano/voice title with a very beautiful guitar solo.

Line Up / Musicians

John M. Mazaki (Vocal), Svenn Huneide (Bass / Choirs), Tom Sennerud (Guitar, Keybords, Choirs), Geir Johnny Huneide (Drums) + Guests : Tommy Denander (Guitar), Bjørn Ole Rasch (Keybords), Gunnar Westlie (Guitar), Per Hillestad (Drums)

Artist : Asgard

Album : Ragnarrøkr

Release Date : 15-05-2020

Added : 09-07-2020

'Asgard' is an Italian formation created at the end of the 80s by the keyboardist 'Alberto Ambrosi' and which released 5 albums in a first period the last 'Drachenblut' dating from 2000, then nothing for 20 years, until this new opus 'Ragnarrøkr'. At first listen, we are struck by a very particular and very personal style not necessarily commun which mixes folk, progressive rock and metal with influences in Germanic culture.

It is a well-stocked opus which is offered to us since it contains 11 compositions for an hour of listening and, from the start, with the short 'Trance-Preparation' we already have a preview of this improbable mixture that ‘Alberto Ambrosi' masters completely with an alternation between folk sung parts and energetic progressive instrumental sections. With 'Rituals', it's a fusion of folk and metal with a melody that quickly tames, the flute and vocal harmonies further amplifying this traditional atmosphere, then, 'The Night of the Wild Boar' is much more progressive and gets closer to formations like 'Arena', the folk side being much less present and 'Visions' of more than 7 minutes, takes us into an epic atmosphere in a maze of varied sections in which it is good to get lost with a metal frame throughout the title. The rest of the album continues to surprise us (for my part, happily) with a short but energetic 'Kali-Yuga', the long progressive development 'Shaman' which is made up of various varied and imaginative parts which makes it the centerpiece of the album, 'Battle' which unfolds a quiet melody supported by a powerful bass in a baroque style and which intensifies at the end, 'DerTod', in a fairly classic but very effective folk sung in German and 'Danse Macabre' continues in this way, the album ending with, first of all, the short but remarkable 'Anrufung' with its beautiful male vocal harmonies supported by a slow tempo of drums in the first part and which accelerates the tempo in a second part and finally the 2nd long development of the album of more than 9 minutes unrolling a slow melody in a powerful and melodic progressive metal.

In summary, after long years of absence, 'Asgard' returns with a remarkable album in a unique style while remaining very accessible which should appeal to an audience who likes mixtures with in this case a imbrication of progressive, metal and folk all supported by easily assimilated melodies...

Line Up / Musicians

Alberto Ambrosi (Keybords, Flute), Franco Violo (Vocal), Paolo Scandolo (Bass), Andrea Gottoli (Guitar), Kikko Rebeschini (Drums)

Artist : Horisont

Album : Sudden Death

Release Date : 15-05-2020

Added : 08-07-2020

Horisont's case is quite difficult for all the chroniclers who want to stick labels at any cost to musical groups, just to put them in boxes. But, for me, that's a piece of luck, I am rather attracted by this kind of artists because generally, it is a sign of a certain talent to be able to navigate between different styles. In addition, the Swedes delight us every time with compositions accessible from the first listen and this new opus 'Sudden Death' is no exception to the rule and continues to take us back in time, a few decades ago.
The previous opus 'About Time' which dates from 2017 was rather focused hard-rock influenced by the tenors of the 70s and for this opus, they rake even wider since 'We start from the 60s until the end of the 80s with, and this is new, some progressive parts. 'Revolution' opens the album in a sixties atmosphere and I have the impression of hearing a fusion between the 'Beatles' and the 'Beach Boys' in the carefree atmosphere of that time, then 'Free Riding' continues in a hard-rock style close to 'Thin Lizzy' but in the middle of the title, leaves in a completely different direction for a rather offbeat instrumental part which brings a progressive side to restart again at the end as it had started. The following continues to offer us accessible melodies from the first listen with the energetic 'Pushin' the Line' and 'Into The Night', the latter eyeing towards 'Manfred Mann's' with 'Blinding By The Night' thanks to vigorous piano chords, then 'Standing Home' is calmer in a 70s rock style and 'Runaway' accelerates the tempo for a heady melody and a simple guitar solo but very efficient. We can also cite the peaceful 'Gråa Dagar' sung in Swedish, the atmospheric with 60s tones 'Breaking The Chain', the classic 'Hold On' with a new chorus reminding me 'Bruce Springsteen', 'Archeopteryx In Flight' which takes us on an 8-minute instrumental built in several parts bringing a progressive side and finally the last title 'White Light' which is typical of the 70s.

In summary, this last Swedish album from 'Horisont' is very pleasant to listen to and takes us back for a moment into the golden age of rock and hard-rock with very accessible compositions which intends it for 'Sudden Death' to a large audience who love the groups that I have been able to cite in this review...

Line Up / Musicians

Axel Söderberg (Vocal), Charlie Van Loo (Guitar), David Kalin (Guitar), Magnus Delborg (Bass), Pontus Jordan (Drums)

Artist : Fish On Friday

Album : Black Rain

Release Date : 15-05-2020

Added : 15-07-2020

I've been waiting for this new album from the English for 'Fish On Friday' for a while, whose remarkable last album 'Quiet Life' was from 2017 (and which I unfortunately discovered too late for a chronicle). The band with seasoned artists that are 'Frank Van Bogaert' and 'Nick Beggs' (bass player in various prestigious projects with among others 'The Mute Gods' , 'Steven Wilson', 'Steve Hackett', 'Lonely Robot' or 'Mariana Semkina') therefore released a new album called 'Black Rain'. From the first listen, we tell ourselves that we are holding an album which will undoubtedly be one of the best releases in 2020 in a delicate and refined progressive rock and, the 11 tracks take us on a journey in a progressive landscape influenced by the big names of the genre with in mind, of course, 'Steven Wilson' and his project 'Blackfield' but also other names which are dear to me like the Germans of 'RPWL' or the English of 'Big Big Train'.

From the start, with 'Life in Towns', we are lulled by the magnificent melody that takes us on a small cloud in a soft and melancholic atmosphere with remarkable vocal harmonies, then, with its 8 minutes, 'Murderous Highland Highway' continues in this way with alternations of tempos and intensity with 'Floydian' passages brought by the keyboards and a 'Wilsonian' melody. Follows the eponymous title of the album, shorter, but more energetic with influences of the 80s and it is the name of 'Barclay James Harvest' which comes to my mind, and 'Mad of the World' continues in this pop register with a melody that is instantly tamed. Sweetness is then there with 'Letting Go of You' which highlights the beautiful fragile and emotion-filled voice of 'Lula Beggs' and which offers us a superb final, and as for 'Angel of Mercy', the memorable melody and the atmosphere remind me the atmospheres of 'RPWL' and 'We've Come Undone' speeds up the tempo for a track in which 'Lula Beggs' shares the song with 'Frank Van Bogaert' in a magnificent duet. The end of the album contains four fairly short titles : first of all, the relaxing 'Morphine' which unfolds a relaxing melody, the luminous 'We Choose to be Happy', quite offbeat from the general melancholic atmosphere and which is, somehow, the 'Permanating' of 'Fish On Friday', 'Trapped in Heaven' with popaccents and finally the symphonic 'Diamonds' which closes this magnificent album with a last beautiful vocal performance of 'Frank Van Bogaert' accompanied by 'Lula Beggs'.

In summary, the English of 'Fish On Friday' offers us for this year 2020 a remarkable album which should remain in the memory of all those who love a soothing progressive and 'Black Rain' is to be tasted in a quiet place, the headphones on your ears, to relax from a difficult day...

Line Up / Musicians

Frank Van Bogaert (Keybords, Guitar, Vocal), Nick Beggs (Bass, Chapman Stick, Choirs), Marty Townsend (Guitar, Mandolin), Marcus Weymaere (Drums, Percussion) + Guests : Lula Beggs (Vocal), Théo Travis (Saxophone, Clarinette, Flute), Vocalal Kashala (Choirs), Nina Babet (Choirs)

Artist : Course Of Fate

Album : Mindweaver

Release Date : 15-05-2020

Added : 17-07-2020

After demos and an EP in 2013 (’Cognizance’), the Norwegians of ‘Course Of Fate’ issue after more than 15 years of existence, their first LP 15 ’Mindweaver’. In a progressive metal alternating powerful parts and others quieter, they offer us 8 titles with accessible melodic lines which are tamed from the first listening.

After the short introduction 'There Is Someone Watching' in a heavy atmosphere in which we discover the rather dark singing of 'Eivind Gunnesen', 'The Faceless Men Part 1' sets the scene for an energetic metal with pleasant melodic lines, then, 'Endgame' proposes a progressive style with different intensities and tempos changes between metal and rock and with sections of keyboards bringing an aeration to the whole and 'Utopia' with a calm first part in a 'Floydian' atmosphere, rises little by little in power ends up exploding in the 2nd part of the title with a grandiose finale. The second part of the album scrolls through the short acoustic 'The Walls Are Closing In', the energetic and epic 'Wolves' with magnificent vocal arrangements and beautiful instrumental sections, the superb crescendo ballad 'Drifting Away' which can be reminiscent of the 'Pink-Floyd' of the 'Gilmour' years (listen to the finale and the guitar solo), the album ending with the second part of 'The Faceless Men', the longest title of the album which sums up the style of the Norwegians beautifully, modulating the intensities and tempos with an epic final.

In summary, the Norwegians of 'Course of Fate' finally show all the talent that we had glimpsed in 2013 by offering us a progressive metal album at the height of the greatest which, like good wine, improves listening after listening and which is to be advised to an audience loving an imaginative and melodic progressive metal...

Line Up / Musicians

Eivind Gunnesen (Vocal), Kenneth Henriksen (Guitar), Marcus Lorentzen (Guitar), Carl Marius Saugstad (Keybords), Daniel Nygaard (Bass), Per-Morten Bergseth (Drums)


Album : ECLYPTIC : Wake of Shadows

Release Date : 15-05-2020

Added : 04-08-2020

In 3 years, the singer 'Fabienne Erni' has come a long way because, after being integrated into the 'Eluveitie' formation in 2017, the Swiss, who had to develop an end of study project at the music school of Zurich, worked on a concept around her musical interests, musicals and fantasy music and, with the help of her best friend 'Tamara Schön', 'ILLUMISHADE' was born with this debut album 'ECLYPTIC: Wake of Shadows' released in May 2020 and which is quite remarkable for a first studio recording. 'Jonas Wolf', guitarist of 'Eluveitie', 'Mirjam Schnedl' on keyboards, 'Yannick Urbanczik' on bass and 'Marc Friedrich' on drums complete the line-up and the writing of the lyrics has been entrusted to the Canadian 'Chrisy Berryman'.

First of all, it would be reductive to limit it to an nth symphonic metal project because this opus goes beyond a series of classic titles that can be found in most albums of this style and, through its 13 tracks, we navigate between different atmospheres starting with short instrumentals which are five in number and which, interspersed between the sung compositions, are divided between serenity and energy : first of all, the cinematic 'Passage Through the Clouds' introduces the album, then 'The Farewell Arcades' mixes the strength of guitar riffs with the softness of the strings, and 'Into the Maelstrom' brings an atmospheric side, then the epic 'Beyond the Obsidian Veil' unfolds an energy with abundant instrumental arrangements and finally, 'Glowing Tides' which ends the album calmly with some vocalizes from Fabienne. As for the sung compositions, they are divided more or less equally into 2 categories with first of all powerful and energetic titles with the short mid-tempo 'The Calling Winds' which makes us discover the vocal talent of 'Fabienne Erni' , then, 'Tales of Times' which hardens the tone with a catchy track sprinkled with growls of the singer of Eluveitie', 'Chrigel Glanzmann', who has been invied, and with 'Fabienne Erni's singing which in some places has the intonations of 'Charlotte Wesselz' of 'Delain'. The suite offers us a new energetic title 'Crystal Silence' with yet another memorable melody, then the ballad break arrives with a succession of two masterful titles, first of all the melancholic 'What Have I Become' with its simple melody but quite simply beautiful to add to the best metal ballads then 'Rise' which joins the previous one with another memorable melody. The other compositions are divided between 'Muse of Unknown Forces' which recalls certain atmospheres of 'Within Temptation', a new ballad 'Golden Lands', imbued with a beautiful emotion and finally the single 'World's End' placed at the end of the album with a last addictive melody and a remarkable last performance by 'Fabienne Erni'.

In summary, with this first album and like the Germans of 'MoonSun' , the Swiss of 'ILLUMISHADE', with a young front woman with a vocal talent undeniable, enter directly through the main door of the symphonic metal formations, bringing a little fresh air in this style with a perfect balance between energy and serenity which destines 'ECLYPTIC: Wake of Shadows' to a fairly large audience who like to navigate between rock and metal, whether melodic or symphonic...

Line Up / Musicians

Fabienne Erni (Vocal), Jonas Wolf (Guitar), Mirjam Schnedl (Keybords), Yannick Urbanczik (Bass), Marc Friedrich (Drums) + Guest : Chrigel Glanzmann (Vocal)

Artist : Lori Lewis

Album : Carmina Romanus

Release Date : 11-05-2020

Added : 19-07-2020

Like many people, I knew the soprano 'Lori Lewis' during the various tours of 'Therion' because she became the unavoidable singer of the Swedish 'Christofer Johnsson' (see the exceptional musical work 'Beloved Antichrist') and, at each concert, she did marvelous performances which always triggered me that little thrill so characteristic of intense pleasure. Therefore, she has always been attached to ‘Therion’ and, for my part, has long deserved to be recognized in her own name as a certain ‘Tarja’. So it's done with this first solo album 'Carmina Romanus' ('Roman songs' in Latin) which does not hit the headlines but which is a first studio recording which will certainly be a milestone in the career of the American and which is influenced by the sun and the planets in our solar system. Of course, 'Christopher Johnsson' is not far away and it was he who served as an intermediary with the composer 'Anton Andryushin', who had already composed all the songs for the album 'A New Day Begins' from his project 'Arcane Symphony' and 'Lori Lewis' put other lyrics on these 10 tracks.

It is with the energetic 'Sol Invictus' with reminiscences 'Therionesque' that the album begins with a first performance by Lori with a clear song and then perfectly mixing the two registers, then, 'Mercury' offers us a first heady melody which remains engraved in our head in a fast tempo, 'Thomas Vikström', singer of 'Therion' coming to flesh out the vocal section. The tone softens with avec 'Venus' which plays a slow melody to the delight of our ears, then ‘Tellus’ continues in melodic lines which are immediately tamed with Lori at the top of her art. The rest is just a succession of unstoppable melodies combining beautifully the energy of saturated guitar riffs and the divine song of Lori, with the powerful 'Mars', the aerial 'Luna', the fast 'Jupiter'or 'Saturn' inspired by classical music, the album ending with, first of all, the catchy 'Uranus' and finally the ultimate 'Neptun' with sumptuous vocalizations by Lori and which after the last note gives only one desire : to press the play button again to start a new listening.

In summary, as you will have understood, even if the compositions had already been written for another project, 'Lori Lewis' shows that they are entirely made for her, but would it not be simply because that she knows how to adapt to all styles and sublimate them. ‘Carmina Romanus’ is of course advised to all fans of ‘Therion’ but goes beyond and will certainly be welcomed by a much wider audience who like to mix a melodic metal with a singing alternating a clear and lyrical register...

Line Up / Musicians

Lori Lewis (Vocal), Anton Andryushin (Keybords), Kirill Romanyuk (Guitar), Dmitry Sletkov (Drums), Alexey Rybakov (Bass) + Guest : Thomas Vikström (Vocal), Anastasia Terekhova (Violin), Kristian Niemann (Guitar)

Artist : Axel Rudi Pell

Album : Sign of the Times

Release Date : 08-05-2020

Added : 10-06-2020

Beyond the Axel Rudi Pell fans, melodic metal fans should be happy because we don't count albums anymore and ‘Sign of the Times’ is the last of this long series. After, a fifth compilation of their ballads (see here) and a last album 'Knights Call' in 2018, the Germans come back with an album that the we could qualify as classic with melodies still as effective in a heavy register. We do not change a winning team because it is the same line up which officiates from several albums with always 'Johnny Gioeli' who also continues in parallel his project with 'Alessandro Del Vecchio', 'Hardline' with a last album released in 2019 (see here) and who also released an opus with 'Deen Castronovo' (see here).

Not surprisingly, after the short instrumental introduction in which Axel has fun on the guitar, we find our five lads with new unstoppable compositions whether in fast tempos like 'Gunfire', 'Bad Reputation', ' The End of the Line 'or' Waiting for Your Call 'or in powerful but more mid-tempo titles like 'Sign of the Times', 'Wings for Your Call' or 'Into the Fire' and, of course, without forget one of their specialties, beautiful ballads with this time only one but devilishly effective, 'As Blind As A Fool Can Be'. Also note ‘Living in a Dream’ with its reggae rhythm in the introduction which metallizes quickly enough for a new title close to ‘Rainbow’.

In summary, as you will have understood, 'Axel Rudy Pell' keep doing 'Axel Rudy Pell' and this for our greatest happiness, reminding us of the great hard rock and metal bands of the years 70 and 80 like 'Deep Purple' which will release a new album very soon...

Line Up / Musicians

Axel Rudi Pell (Guitar), Johnny Gioeli (Vocal), Ferdy Doernberg (Keybords), Volker Krawczak (Bass), Bobby Rondinelli (Drums)

Artist : Green Carnation

Album : Leaves of Yesteryear

Release Date : 08-05-2020

Added : 16-06-2020

'Green Carnation' is a Norwegian group between progressive rock and metal founded by 'Terje Vik Schei' (nicknamed 'Tchort') and which had a period of intense activity between 2000 and 2006 with 5 albums, the last 'The Acoustic Verses' being included completly in a beautiful DVD 'A Night Under The Dam' available on you tube. 2016 saw the reformation of the group with and, four years later, the release of a new album ‘Leaves of Yesteryear’.

First of all, it must be said that of the 5 tracks on the album, only 3 are original because 'My Dark Reflections of Life and Death' already appeared on their first album 'Journey To The End Of The Night' and 'Solitude' is a cover of 'Black Sabbath' from the album 'Master of Reality' released in 1971. The three unreleased tracks are therefore, in order, 'Leaves Of Yesteryear' which takes us on a first long development of 8 minutes, and we find all the ingredients for a rich and inventive progressive metal supported by accessible melodic lines from the first listening, then with 'Sentinels' which follows with an introduction which reminds me in a heavier style the atmosphere of 'Innuendo' of 'Queen', we alternate mid-tempo passages and a much more energetic refrain, and finally, 'Hounds' is certainly the most varied with very beautiful melodic lines and a succession of several parts which go from a peaceful rock style to a muscular metal, all these mixes offering a nice coherence to the whole. As for the cover ‘My Dark Reflections of Life and Death’, it was rewritten in another tone and re-recorded but I will not enter into a sterile comparison, each version of this long development gives me the same listening pleasure. Finally, the album ends with a cover of ‘Solitude’ from ‘Black Sabbath’, in a quiet atmosphere, the singing of ‘Kjetil Nordhus’ lending itself very well to the atmosphere created by this title.

In summary, the Norwegians of 'Green Carnation' timidly come back with only three unreleased tracks which are nevertheless remarkable which makes 'Leaves of Yesteryear' more of an EP but will allow, beyond the historical fans, to make to know this band to a wider audience and to some to discover or rediscover their discography (like for example this monument 'Light Of Day, Day Of Darkness' which is the only title of the album of 2001, but what title, since it lasts an hour !), and also I hope that they will not make us wait too long their next album...

Line Up / Musicians

Kjetil Nordhus (Vocal), Terje Vik Schei “Tchort” (Guitar), Stein Roger Sordal (Bass), Bjørn Harstad (Guitar), Kenneth Silden (Keybords), Jonathan Alejandro Perez (Drums)

Artist : Fleesh

Album : In The Mist of Time (A Renaissance Tribute)

Release Date : 08-05-2020

Added : 19-06-2020

For regulars of myprogmusic, you probably know that I appreciate the Brazilian group of 'Fleesh' with several chronicles already written for a year already with 'Live at Carioca Progfestival' at the end of 2019 , 'Versions I' in 2019 and 'Across The Sea' in 2019 and on the other hand that the 'Renaissance' band is also very dear to me for several decades (see chronicle of the very beautiful live 'A Symphonic Journey'). So when the duo 'Gabby Vessoni' / 'Celo Oliveira' released an album of 'Renaissance' covers, I'm necessarily fullfilled with this 'In The Mist of Time (A Renaissance Tribute)' which was also richly endowed with 20 tracks for almost 2 hours of listening.

The Brazilians embarked on the long career of the British with to start the start of 'Renaissance' with their first albums and the very beginning with the cover of 'Island' released already 51 years ago and which has not a wrinkle, then all the emblematic titles starting with 'Bound for Infinity' and 'Spare Some Love' from the album 'Prologue' of 1971, then 3 of the 5 compositions from the album 'Ashes Are Burning' with the long developments 'Can You Understand?' and 'Ashes are Burning'. All major albums are represented and we can quote the very beautiful versions of 'Day of the Dreamer', 'Ocean Gypsy', 'Things I Don’t Understand' or 'Trip to the Fair'. And, as usual, it's not pale copies of the originals but Gabby and Celo appropriate the compositions and brilliantly transform all these legendary titles into a version in which 'Gabby Vessoni' has her own vocal personality and moves us deeply as always.

In summary, this album of covers of the Brazilians of 'Fleesh' is a very beautiful tribute to the English of 'Renaissance' and allows us to immerse ourselves in these magnificent compositions which have accompanied us throughout decades between 1970s and 2000s and which should appeal not only to fans of 'Fleesh' and 'Renaissance' but to a large audience who like a sensitive, imaginative and poetry-filled progressive...

Line Up / Musicians

Gabby Vessoni (Vocal), Celo Oliveira (All Instruments)

Artist : Cryptex

Album : Once Upon a Time

Release Date : 08-05-2020

Added : 23-06-2020

'Cryptex' is a German trio which was formed in 2006 and released two studio recordings, 'Good Morning, How Did You Live?' in 2011 and 'Madeleine Effect' in 2015 and it was with this latest album 'Once Upon a Time' that I discovered them. They have a very personal style and if it had to be defined, I would say that they evolve between rock and metal with symphonic and progressive components, accessible melodic lines, very expressive atmospheres and remarkable vocal arrangements. For my part, I had to listen several times to get into their universe and to reveal all its richness and originality of each composition.

'Once Upon a Time' begins the album with a calm symphonic introduction which quickly gains momentum for a catchy track with remarkable choirs and an atmosphere reminiscent of the expressive side of 'Queen' or a group that I particularly like, 'Jono', then, we find again with 'Because The Reason Is You' this expressive and joyful side with a refrain which is immediately grafted in your head. Darker, 'Bloodmoon' is no less remarkable with a mixture of melodic rock and much heavier parts, then, 'Body Language', with very beautiful vocal arrangements gives the feeling of listening to a pop melody close to the 'Beatles' that we would have metallized in some places, and the mid-tempo 'Two Horned Crown' deploys a new heady melody. The following continues with compositions not exceeding 5 minutes and always with the same feeling of expressive power like in 'Haunted' or 'Reptiles' which mix tempos and intensities but the second part of the album also offers more classic titles, while being all remarkable like 'I Don't Know Why', much lighter in a jazzy style or like the beautiful ballad 'I See It In Your Eyes' close to the style of 'Queen' (with this beautiful whistled end) or even the melancholy instrumental comma 'A Mo(u)rning', the album ending with 'Closer', magnificent for a bonus, which takes us on for a progressive title containing several quite different parts while keeping the same melodic frame.

In summary, the Germans of 'Cryptex' release an album which requires several listenings to tame it well because, due to a very personal style, they jostle us in our musical habits by offering us a progressive coming out of the ordinary which ultimately turns out to be remarkable in all respects and 'Once Upon a Time' is recommended for lovers of rock and progressive metal who like to discover original artists outside the box...

Line Up / Musicians

Simon Moskon (Vocal, Keybords, Bass), Marc Andrejkovits (Guitar, Bass, Choirs), Andre Jean Henri Mertens (Guitar, Choirs) + Guest : Simon Schroder (Drums)

Artist : Lost Forever

Album : Unbreakable

Release Date : 08-05-2020

Added : 24-06-2020

'Lost Forever' is a Brazilian metal group mixing heavy, power and progressive and which already has more than 20 years of existence with several album releases including the last 'Rising' already dates from 2011, the last released 'Unbreakable' being their 3rd studio recording. From the first listen to the 8 compositions, we feel that they have reached a maturity that allows them to tackle several genres and even mix them while keeping a power metal frame.

And yet, the introduction of the first title 'Let It Go' suggests that the style has softened and it has an impression of AOR but the saturated guitars supported by a powerful sound quickly appear for a energetic title with melodic lines that we quickly appropriate, then 'Uncanny Symmetries' accelerates the tempo and the rhythm section is more energetic in a more agressive style and 'James Gamvao' shows another facet of his powerful singing, much more vigorous. With 'The Red Hour Curse', we are close to an epic progressive metal of 'Sons of Apollo' (see their latest album 'MMXX') in a mid-tempo offering a grandiose atmosphere with a singing that can remind 'Jeff Scott Soto', then it's another change of scenery with 'As One New Day' which is a magnificent inspired and heady power ballad and 'Dead of Winter' comes down to powerful progressive metal with a remarkable rhythm section that leads the dance and a masterful guitar solo. Follows 'Balance In Chaos', an instrumental title of more than 8 minutes (only a spoken passage in the middle of the title) which joins the imaginative style of the Americans of 'Sons of Apollo' with admirable breaks of rhythm and intensity, then the centerpiece of the album 'Another Faith' shows the evolution of this formation which gives us a title of more than 10 minutes with all the ingredients of a rich and inventive progressive metal without dead time, the album ending with 'Of Woe & Wonder' on a note alternating powerful parts and quieter ones brought by the presence of a piano.

In summary, this last Brazilian album of 'Lost Forever' is a very good surprise 2020 which demonstrates the talent of this group for varied and inventive compositions and 'Unbreakable' is to be recommended to all those who love mix progressive metal and power metal...

Line Up / Musicians

James Gamvao (Vocal), Fabbio Nunes (Guitar), Andre De Lemos (Bass), Rene Shulte (Drums)

Artist : DeVicious

Album : Phase Three

Release Date : 08-05-2020

Added : 29-06-2020

As I did in late 2019 (see here), for a week, at the rate of 2 per day, I present to you a set of albums released for this first semester 2020 in melodic rock and hard-rock in addition to those already reviewed like for example ’Bonfire’, ’SteelCity’, ’Grand Design’ or still ’Xtasy’. The order of upload corresponds to the chronology of the album releases.

Melodic hard rock albums rock of the first semester 2020

Melodic hard rock albums rock of the first semester 2020

It was only 2 years ago that the Germans from 'DeVicious' released their first album 'Never Say Never' and 'Phase Three', as its name suggests, is their third opus because 2019 saw the release of 'Reflections' which shows the impressive frequency of albums released by this group. With a new singer, the Italian ‘Antonio Calanna’, they offer us 12 melodic compositions in a powerful hard-rock style influenced by the 80s shared between energetic ('Firefly', 'Mysterious', ‘Rising from a Thunder’), mid-tempos ('Pouring-Rain', 'Burning Skies'), more AOR atmospheres ('Walk Through Fire', 'Calling My Name') and a nice acoustic ballad 'Bad Timing' piano/voice.

Line Up / Musicians

Antonio Calanna (Vocal), Radivoj Petrovic (Guitar), Alex Frey (Bass), Denis Kunz (Keybords), Lars Nippa (Drums)

Artist : Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate

Album : Nostalgia for Infinity

Release Date : 06-05-2020

Added : 12-06-2020

‘Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate’ is an English progressive rock band led by the duo ‘Malcom Galloway’/’Mark Gatland’ which was created in 2011 and which released its 5th album ‘Nostalgia For Infinity’. We had already had a sample of this opus with the EP 'Ark' released in 2019 with two titles but it is clear that this new baby is very rich for a duration of almost 70 minutes. ‘Nostalgia For Infinity’ is a concept album including 5 titles dedicated to ‘Redemption Ark’, a science fiction novel of the same name by Alastair Reynolds, which denounces the fragility of our civilization.

'Century Rain' begins the album in a good way with a long development of more than 9 minutes which takes up the title and the theme of the novel of 'Alastair Reynolds' on an imagined alternative from the 2nd world war; musically, I had the impress to listen to 'Jethro Tull' music which one would have embellished with magnificent progressive passages, the flute of 'Kathryn Thomas' being no stranger to this feeling and 'Twin Earth' continues on this path with a new title which gives pride of place to remarkable instrumental sections. Follows 'Ark' which we already knew with the EP and which is one of the centerpieces of the album and which in an atmospheric style between 'Vangelis' and 'Pink-Floyd' connects magnificent melancholic instrumental sections, then 'Nanobotoma' is more classic with a conventional structure in a more rock style while remaining quite soft with beautiful 'Floydian' guitar solos and 'Chasing Neon' is the 2nd title that we already knew, more lively in an atmosphere highlighting electronic sounds bringing us back to the 80s and 90s. With the sequel of the 'Redemption Ark', 'Glitterband' opens the ball with a fairly repetitive musical theme, this feeling being accentuated by the singing marked with' Malcom Galloway, then, 'Conjoiners' returns to a calm, restful and very 'Floydian' atmospheric instrumental and, after the remarkable short 'Scorpio', much more energetic with contemporary tones, 'Inhibitors' is a bit the 'On the Run' from 'Dark Side of the Moon' of the English of 'Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate' with electronic sounds of experimental music. We return to more conventional with the eponymous title of the album in which the bass leads the dance in the first part and which softens thanks to the flute in the 2nd half and whose melody remains anchored in the head. The end of the album gives us a new instrumental 'Voyager', still very 'Floydian', a sort of homage to the probe of the same name released from the heliosphere in 2012 and which now derives in the universe, then, 'Sixth Extinction' much more energetic and rhythmical on climate change.

In summary, the English of 'Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate' have released an endearing, varied and rich album and, taking into account the allusions I have made to the 'Floyds' throughout this chronicle , 'Nostalgia for Infinity' should undoubtedly please all those who love an inventive and sought-after progressive while remaining very accessible in terms of melodic lines...

Line Up / Musicians

Malcom Galloway (Vocal, Guitar, Keybords), Mark Gatland (Bass, Keybords, Guitar), Kathryn Thomas (Flute, Vocal)

Artist : George Henning

Album : Hillside

Release Date : 05-05-2020

Added : 13-07-2020

I don't usually stop at symphonic albums but in the case of 'Hillside', I was seduced by this unique style which emerges from this work written and composed by 'George Henning' and recorded in 2018 with the 'Macedonian Symphonic Orchestra'. We embark on a sumptuous journey which offers us magnificent melodies in a soothing orchestral atmosphere with vocal accompaniment by George whose voice can recall singers like ‘Cat Stevens’.

14 tracks quite short for a duration of about 50 minutes, here is the menu of this opus which begins with 'The Door' with energetic strings and a first heady melody which never leaves you, then, 'The Seventh String', in a slower tempo, is more melancholic in a pop style close to the 'Beatles' with a simple but very warm guitar solo, the orchestra supporting the whom in a beautiful way. Following the eponymous title of the album, very romantic and 'Smile' adds the tranquility of the piano in an ambience of the ballads of 'Billy Joel'. The rest is like this beginning with beautiful melodies that are encrusted in your head, and I will quote the titles that marked me the most with 'Nemo Skywlakin', 'Magic Bell', 'Secrets' or even 'A Life Devine' and, to make a comparison, the moods are not far from the symphonic version of Arjen Lucassen's, 'The Gentle Storm' project.

In summary, 'George Henning' released a remarkable album out of what we used to hear and somehow reconciles classical music with pop music by mixing them for the better and if you are a fan of symphonic music accompanied by an orchestra and integrating electric guitar and drums, you are at the right place because this 'Hillside' should undoubtedly please you...

Line Up / Musicians

George Hennig (Vocal, Guitar), Olivier Truan (Piano), Christoph Staudenmann (Drums), The Macedonian Symphonic Orchestra, Oleg Kondratenko (Chef d’orchestre)

Artist : Infinite Wisdom

Album : The Blue Room

Release Date : 04-05-2020

Added : 17-06-2020

'Infinite Wisdom' is a progressive rock band that started to release albums in 2012 with long developments exceeding 15 minutes with first 'A Word To The Wise' in 2012, then 'Awakening The Senses' in 2014 , and 2020 sees the release of a new album 'The Blue Room' with 9 compositions which all have influences drawn from the last 50 years of rock in general with first of all in the great formations of the 70s and 80s and this in a way varied because we can refer to names like 'Pink Floyd', 'Genesis', 'Barclay James Harvest' or 'Uriah-Heep' but also more recent progressive rock bands like 'Arena' or 'Pendragon'.

With the two instrumental 'The Blue Room' that open and close the album, we are in full swing in a peaceful and relaxing 'Floydian' atmosphere then, with 'The Healer', the tone is close to a melodic hard rock of the 70s with keyboard sounds of this era, and 'Autopilot', after an introduction to the very 'Elton John' piano, takes us on melodic lines like 'ELO' (last album 'From Out Of Nowhere') with a melody that already seems to have been heard. The suite continues in compositions with harmonious lines with 'Beautiful Soul' which could be a mixture of 'BJH' and 'Pendragon', then, 'Heartland' is divided between catchy sections and others quieter and a final which is very 'Waterian', and with 'This is England', it's one of my favorites from the album, a remarkable composition of almost 8 minutes which brings us back to the start of the progressive. And it is with compositions as remarkable as the English of 'Infinite Wisdom' offer us for the end of the album : first of all, an energetic 'No Good Will Come Of This' with tones of' Deep Purple ', then, the centerpiece of this opus, 'Born to be King' which takes us on a progressive saga, with oriental intonations and which reminds me at certain places the epic side of 'Therion' in the most powerful parts but which alternates with other much more peaceful sections with always harmonious melodic lines, and finally, the second part of 'The Blue Room', very short (too short for my taste) which concludes this magnificent album in an atmospheric way.

In summary, as you will have understood, even if 'Infinite Wisdom' doesn't do buzz on the web, 'The Blue Room' is by all accounts a remarkable album which takes us for almost an hour in varied and melodic compositions, which makes this opus for a fairly large audience who like a progressive accessible at first listen referring to multiple influences in rock from the last fifty years...

Line Up / Musicians

Mark (Vocal, Keybords), Paul (Guitar), Jon (Bass), Roger (Drums)

Artist : Lesoir

Album : Mosaic

Release Date : 01-05-2020

Added : 07-06-2020

Holland is a country rich in progressive artists whether in rock or metal and ‘Lesoir’ is now one of those known groups with already 4 albums since 2011 and 2020 sees the release of their 5th studio recording ‘Mosaic’. In a progressive rock mixing different influences, this album is a continuation of the previous ones with compositions offering beautiful melodic lines in fairly quiet rhythms which can remind in some places of formations like 'Mostly Autumn', 'Loonypark' or 'Fleesh' to name only formations with female singers because this formation offers remarkable vocal performances with 'Maartje Meessen' and 'Eleen Bartholomeus'.

The album begins with 'Mosaic' which is fairly representative of the style of this formation, a peaceful mid-tempo which intensifies on the final with a remarkable guitar solo and a first luminous vocal performance by Maartje then, 'Is This It' is more complex with changes in tempos and intensity which make it a title that you have to listen to several times to get all the instrumental and vocal richness. With 'Somebody Like You', the rhythm is more linear but we keep a certain dissonance at the vocal level which is a bit the trademark of 'Lesoir', then, 'The Geese' continues in this direction with a nice alternation between tension and relaxation, and 'Measure of Things' begins with an oriental song which slides gently towards a beautiful ballad which, little by little, gains momentum for a remarkable final much more intense with a magnificent guitar solo while remaining fairly simple. The suite scrolls the instrumental 'Dystopia' which mixes different styles with beautiful atmospheric 'Floydian' sections, the complex 'It's Never Quiet' consisting of several drawers with a majestic final crescendo, the short instrumental 'Mxi' not necessarily essential and finally, the remarkable 'Two Faces' which is almost 8 minutes and which is a good summary of the very personal style of 'Lesoir' with beautiful melodic lines which one quickly appropriates, admirable alternations between powerful part and others much quieter and a last remarkable vocal performance of 'Maartje Meessen'.

In summary, the Dutch of 'Lesoir' continue to enchant us in their very personal progressive universe and 'Mosaic' is an album filled with beautiful compositions which must be appropriated little by little and which should please a fairly large audience loving creative and refined progressive rock...

Line Up / Musicians

Maartje Meessen (Vocal, Keybords, Flute), Ingo Dassen (Guitar), Eleen Bartholomeus (Vocal, Guitar, Keybords, Percussions), Ruben Heijnsbroek (Bass), Bob van Heumen (Drums)

Artist : Mike Tramp

Album : Second Time Around

Release Date : 01-05-2020

Added : 11-07-2020

After a very good 'Stray from the Flock' a little more than a year ago, 'Mike Tramp' takes out of his cartons unpublished titles that he had dismissed from his previous opuses and it was worth it that he takes this trouble because listening to this new opus gave me as much happiness as any album from the Dane.

In his own style, always referring to his 80's idols, 'All of my Life' begins an album full of good surprises in a very 'Springsteenien' spirit (see his latest album ’Western Stars’) and 'The Road' which follows, continues in the same direction with a melody which touches immediately, and 'Anymore' brings a very successful first ballad break. With 'Come On', we have another example of a chorus that comes into your head with this 'come on' chanted several times and which can remind 'Bryan Adams' (see his latest album ’Shine A Light’) just like the title that follows 'Between Good and Bad', then, 'Lay Down Your Guns', with its chorus in the form of a repeated refrain that makes you want to accompany loudly the 'lalalalala...' and which can recall certain Breton songs is a magnificent ballad. The end of the album scrolls through an endearing 'Highway' which reverts to the style of 'Bruce Springsteen', the energetic and very effective 'No Tomorrow' and 'Back To You' and to finish smoothly another magnificent acoustic ballad in the great tradition of American song.

In summary, we can thank 'Mike Tramp' for releasing these old compositions, each as remarkable as the other, which makes 'Second Time Around' an album on the same level as all of its previous albums and accessible to the greatest number...

Line Up / Musicians

Mike Tramp (Vocal, Guitar, Piano), Claus Langeskov (Bass), Jay Boe (Keybords), Morten Hellborn (Drums) + Guests : Lars Rahbek Andresen (Piano), Marcus Nand (Guitar), Søren Andersen (Guitar)

Artist : Gabriels

Album : Fist Of The Seven Stars Act 3 : Nanto Chaos

Release Date : 30-04-2020

Added : 14-06-2020

'Gabriels' was created by the Italian 'Gabriele Gabriel Crisafulli', keyboardist with a classical training who participated in the adventure 'Aldaria' and who has already released five albums since 2010 the latest being 'Hokuto Brothers', act 2 of 'Fist of the Seven Stars' which is an ambitious project in 5 acts and which, for manga lovers, is the famous saga of 'Kenshiro' which was very successful in Italy thanks to the cartoons 'Ken the warrior'. 'Nanto Chaos' is therefore the 3rd chapter of this long story and to do this, Gabriele invited a large number of singers to interpret all the roles of this saga but also an impressive number of musicians to hold the sections of guitar, keyboards, bass and drums.

From the first two titles, we have a good overview of this varied opus, with on the one hand the energetic 'Three days of life' in a melodic hard-rock style of the 80s, and on the other hand , 'The Mark' which is a beautiful ballad with a refrain which remains engraved in the head. The sequel is like this beginning, accessible at first listen and divided between catchy compositions like ‘Treason Star’ which can be reminiscent of ‘Survivor’ or like ‘Rebirth By Three Days Of Life’, plus A.O.R. with electronic tones, or even like 'Confrontation' with its melodic lines that are integrated from the first listen but also remarkable mid-tempos with 'Fight for her love' and its simple but very effective chorus or 'Secret of Phoenix' and his magnificent solos of keyboards and guitar in the second part of the title or even the powerful 'Pyramid of Dictator' which closes the album. To all these titles, we can add the two other quieter moments 'Dying for your love' and 'Deathnight', two power ballads with for the first, a melody as the Italians know so well to do and the second, more melancholy and which is without a doubt the most moving title on the album.

In summary, 'Gabriele Gabriel Crisafulli' offers us a magnificent third part of his epic saga with varied and nevertheless very accessible compositions with a beautiful distribution at the vocal level and beautiful instrumental passages of keyboards and guitar which makes from 'Nanto Chaos' an album intended for a fairly large audience loving a harmonious metal and accessible to the first listen...

Line Up / Musicians

Gabriele Gabriel Crisafulli (Keybords, Piano, Vocal) + Guests : Wild Steel “Ken” (Vocal), Jo Lombardo “Rey” (Vocal), Tommy Johansson “Shu” (Vocal), Ivan Drake “Juda” (Vocal), Dario Grillo “Toky” (Vocal), Antonio Pecere “Raoul” (Vocal), Rachel Iron Lungs “Mamiya” (Vocal), David Akesson “Sauzer” (Vocal), Gabriels Soldati (Vocal), Andrew Spane (Guitar), Tommy Johansson (Guitar), Frank Caruso (Guitar), Stefano Filoramo (Guitar), Antonello Giliberto (Guitar), Tommy Vitaly (Guitar), Dario Beretta (Guitar), Angelo Mazzeo (Guitar), Luigi De Blasio (Guitar), Dino Fiorenza (Bass), Beto Vazquez (Bass), Adrian Hansen (Bass), Fabiano Andreacchio (Bass), Alberto Rigoni (Bass), Roberto Giovinazzo (Bass), Mike Vader (Drums), Mattia Stancioiu (Drums), Michele Sanna (Drums), Giovanni Maucieri (Drums), Simone Alberti (Drums), Brantley Rogers (Drums)

Artist : Victoria K

Album : Essentia

Release Date : 24-04-2020

Added : 27-05-2020

I'm taking you to the land of kangaroos with the group ‘Victoria K’, named after the singer who created this project in 2016 and who has just released her first album ‘Essentia’. This new combo is still added to the already long list of symphonic metal releases of March and April 2020 (see last chronicles in this style with 'Ad Infinitum', 'Fourth Circle', 'Ani Lo Projekt', 'Imperial Age', 'Fallen Arise', 'MoonSun' and of course the last 'Nightwish'). No surprise, 'Victoria K' is part of a classical symphonic metal and a good number of existing formations come to mind at first listen, but we can still emphasize, because it is not very common in this style (except for projects mounted from scratch like 'Exit Eden'), that the female gender prevails over the male gender for one voice, since, with 'Victoria K .' on the main vocals, 'Sheri Vengeance' on the extreme vocals and 'Julia Mammone' on the electric guitar these are in total 3 female artists for 2 male artists with 'Marty Kawaler' on bass and 'James Davies' on drums.

The album is relatively short (36 minutes) and has 10 titles between 3 and 4 minutes which suggests that we will go the heart of the matter and that's what we discover the first time we listen. It is with a powerful 'Freedom Unchanted' that 'Victoria K' opens the debates with a first mid-tempo title whose melodic lines are easily embedded in the head and which sees 'Sheri Vengeance' accompany with growls the powerful voice of 'Victoria K' and this association is also present on two other titles, 'Forsaken' and 'Matrix', which are not to be outdone on the melodic level. In the same powerful and energetic style, we can cite 'Surreal' with its oriental influences on the end of the title, 'Mist Filled Sky' with an impetuous rhythm section or even 'Lacuna' which was the subject of a single already a year ago and which reminds me of 'Stream of Passion', Dutch formation which unfortunately stopped in 2016, but we can also mention 'The Haunting' for its alternations between parts removed and others quieter and whose melodic lines bring us back to 'Within Temptation' especially that in the treble less supported, 'Victoria K' is more languorous, like can do 'Sharon del Adel'. And when the electric instruments are less vigorous, ‘Victoria K’ offers us beautiful power ballads with ‘Shroud of Solitude’ and ‘Humanity’, showing a soft side with remarkable interpretations.

In summary, we can only salute this new formation which already appears very mature for a first album, thanks to beautiful melodies, a singer with impeccable vocal technique and a remarkable production which destines 'Essentia' to all fans of symphonic metal and if affinities, why not to a wider audience because the whole is relatively accessible...

Line Up / Musicians

Victoria K (Vocal), Sheri Vengeance (Vocal), Julia Mammone (Guitar), Marty Kawaler (Bass), James Davies (Drums) + Gueste : Michalina Malisz (Vielle à roue)

Artist : Grandval

Album : Descendu sur Terre

Release Date : 24-04-2020

Added : 03-06-2020

'Grandval' is the project of the multi-instrumentalist, author and composer 'Henri Vaugrand' who released a first album 'A Ciel Ouvert…' 'Grandval' is the project of the multi-instrumentalist, author and composer 'Henri Vaugrand' who released a first album 'A Ciel Ouvert…' in 2016 and which after the sky, gets closer to the earth with 'Descendu sur Terre' and which offers us an imaginative and relatively sought-after progressive rock with texts in French in the great tradition of progressive rock groups and the one that comes to mind first is of course 'Ange' with this words wizard who is ‘Chistian Décamps’. To musically flesh out this new opus, he called on several guitarists including 'Jean-pierre Louveton' who has also just released a new album (see the chronicle here). >
It is with the instrumental 'Exondation' that the album begins in a 'Floydian' atmospheric introduction which accelerates the rhythm in the second part with keyboards and guitars which engage a ping-pong battle between them, then, the long development for almost 10 minutes, 'A new destiny', is representative of progressive French rock with all the ingredients you want to find there, between rich instrumental parts and tailor-made texts. After the comma ‘Puissances de l’infini’, the eponymous title of the album takes us on, first in voluptuous melodic lines with a delicate singing of Henri then accelerates the rhythm and alternates catchy parts and others more calm, and ‘Fractal et systémique’ changes from register for an exotic atmosphere then regains power in a rhythm and a guitar sound close to 'Carlos Santana'. The ballad break is brought with ‘Le chemin à l’envers’ which brings us back to 'Ange' intonations with, for me, one of the most beautiful melodies and one of the most beautiful texts from the album, then ‘Il existe une étoile’ continues the progressive journey in a 10-minute title with multi-drawers honoring 'John Wetton' ('King Crimson', 'Uriah Heep', 'Roxy Music', 'Asia') who died in 2017 ‘La meute est en place’ takes a completely different direction, mixing electronic and atmospheric sounds with tempo changes, then ‘Brûler dans les flammes de l’enfer’ returns to a more classic progressive inherited from the 70s while continuing to criticize 'Donald Trump' and this in a subtle way, without naming him directly. And to finish on a more positive note, it is with ‘La vie, pourtant, la vie’ that the adventure of 'Descendu sur Terre' ends in the form of a new long progressive development at the 'Decamps' sauce with a quiet first part and a much more lively second, the album ending with the cover 'La maison de Men-Tää' of the French progressive group 'Atoll' in which 'John Wetton' made a brief stint in 1981.

In summary, 'Henri Vaugrand' continues its path in its trilogy on the elements of nature and this second part is full of quality compositions that must, as always in this case, be appropriated by successive listenings which makes 'Descendu sur Terre' an album to recommend to all those who love progressive French style...

Line Up / Musicians

Henri Vaugrand (Vocal, Guitar, Bass, Keybords), Olivier Bonneau (Guitar, Keybords, Bass) + Guests : Christophe Chalancon (Guitar), Jean-baptiste Itier (Drums), Jean-pierre Louveton (Guitar, Mellotron), Kevin Serra (Guitar), Raffaele Spanetta (Guitar), Steph Honde (Guitar)

Artist : COMPASS

Album : Our Time on Earth

Release Date : 24-04-2020

Added : 05-06-2020

‘Steve Newman’ is known to have created the A.O.R. project 'NEWMAN' with a last opus just released in March 2020, 'Ignition' and, in 2017, he decided in parallel with' NEWMAN ' to leave in another musical direction and he therefore created a new project 'COMPASS' concretized by a first opus 'Our Time on Earth' which was born at the end of April 2020. He took with him the bassist 'Dave Bartlett' from 'NEWMAN' and 'Ben Green' and 'Toni Malush' complete the line up, respectively to the vocals and drums.

This new project allowed him to get out of the often limited durations of the A.O.R. by particularly expanding his writing with much denser titles with durations ranging from 5 to 10 minutes while retaining this talent for beautiful melodies that can be tamed immediately. 'Skies of Fire', nearly 9 minutes long, begins the album with a catchy title and a nice alternation between energetic sections and other quieter ones which bring a progressive side to the whole thanks in particular to more developed instrumental parts. In the same style, we can cite ‘Caught in a Frame’, ‘Neon’ or ‘Another Life Suicide’ which are a kind of mixture between melodic rock and progressive metal. In the same style, we can cite ‘Caught in a Frame’, ‘Neon’ or ‘Another Life Suicide’ which are a kind of mixture between melodic rock and progressive metal. But, it is with compositions that are the most distant from the A.O.R. that 'Steve Newman' surprises us the most, with, first of all the two parts of 'Our Time on Earth' which, while keeping an accessible melodic side, mix atmospheric and progressive parts, then, with 'The Preacher And The Pigeon Feeder', alternates sweet parts and others more energetic with a magnificent guitar solo in the middle of the title. As for 'A Warning From History', it is undoubtedly the most progressive of the album with remarkable instrumental passages and it is in this composition that we feel most the break in composition of Steve with 'NEWMAN'.

In summary, with this new project, 'Steve Newman' shows us that he has several strings to his bow : we knew his talent for unstoppable melodies in an 'AOR' style and we discover with this opus that it also has this ability to offer us richer and more complex compositions bringing a progressive side while keeping this sense of melody and 'Our Time on Earth' should please a fairly large audience navigating between melodic and progressive rock...

Line Up / Musicians

Steve Newman (Guitar, Keybords), Ben Green (Vocal), Dave Bartlett (Bass), Toni Lakush (Drums)

Artist : Superthousand

Album : #TRNSIT

Release Date : 24-04-2020

Added : 08-06-2020

‘Superthousand’ is a new German band which released two studio recordings, the EP ‘Universe | Revese’ in 2013 and ‘voyage.’ In 2016 and which has just released a new album ‘#TRNSIT’. They are part of an atmospheric progressive style with obvious influences from formations like ‘Pink-Floyd’ or like their compatriots from ‘RPWL’.

With the very short instrumental 'Silence Reprise' which refers to the last title of their album 'voyage.', 'Silence', we hear directly the references cited above and we feel a major evolution in production with a much more worked sound, 'World on Wire' confirming this feeling with a first composition unrolling a slow and beautiful melody with parts deploying an imposing amplitude of sound. The long development ‘Transit’ continues in this atmospheric atmosphere with a first part fairly agreed melodically, integrating in the second part a beautiful instrumental section close to the ‘Floyds’ and a sung final which returns to a calmer atmosphere. Follow the beautiful ballad 'Albatros' which reminds of 'RPWL', then 'Yet Untilted' is much more energetic thinking outside the box, and finally, 'Safe and Now' concludes this short opus with a 2nd long development which puts forward the singing of 'Dominik Mertens' and a catchy rhythm with remarkable breaks in intensity in the main theme and an imposing ending which ends abruptly.

In summary, the Germans from ‘Superthousand’ are releasing a quality album reminiscent of the big names in atmospheric progressive rock and ‘#TRNSIT’ should appeal to all those who like the references mentioned above...

Line Up / Musicians

Lars Dreier (Keybords, Guitar, Bass), Dominik Mertens (Vocal, Guitar), Markus Missbrandt (Drums, Djembé, Percussions)

Artist : Lunear

Album : Curve.Axis.Symmetry

Release Date : 23-04-2020

Added : 09-06-2020

‘Lunear’ is a French band that released a first album ’Many Miles Away’ in 2018 and I discover them with its successor ‘Curve.Axis.Symmetry’ which has just been released. Their style is between pop and rock with lyrics in English and this last baby is a concept album dedicated, I quote their site, « to a woman who cannot die. First, she thought it was a blessing: the dream of eternal life... But, nothing lasts forever, not even our earth...".

Musically, they offer us delicate and restful atmospheres with magnificent melodies which touch you immediately by mixing progressive influences with pop and to take an example in the progressive world, the style of 'Lunear' is similar what 'Steven Wilson' and 'Aviv Geffen' can do with their 'Blackfield' project. The instrumental 'Lemniscate', which symbolizes infinity, begins the album and serves as an introduction for 'First Death' which offers us a first beautiful melody which can recall the first pop groups of the 60s with in mind the 'Beatles', then 'Same Player. Shoot Again.’ continues in this warm atmosphere with guitars a little more supported and ‘Nothing Left to Do’ deploys harmonious melodic lines which immediately settles in your head. After the melancholy instrumental short 'A Passage of Time', 'The Rise and Fall of Earth', which closes the first part 'Before the Fall', continues in this peaceful and tranquil atmosphere then 'Earth's Population: 1' which foreshadows 'After The Fall' is more catchy with beautiful vocal harmonies and reminds me of 'Barclay James Harvest' while 'Earth End' reverts to a darker style with a slow tempo. The end of the album scrolls 'Adrift' with a slight crescendo in a waltz rhythm which gives us this impression of perpetual dance, the nonchalant 'From Its Sky' which echoes by its melody to 'Nothing Left to Do' but in a more refined version and which offers us a magnificent 'Floydian' guitar solo in the second half of the title, the ballad 'Forever' which is a bit of a summary of this story with a magnificent soothing melody ending with this strange sensation when we evoke the infinite, and finally, the short acoustic epilogue repeating the words of 'First Death' but in a much more stripped down style.

In summary, the French of 'Lunear' offers us a magnificent concept album with an original theme set to music in a remarkable way : 'Curve.Axis.Symmetry.' is to be enjoyed headphones on your ears and should please to an entire audience navigating between pop and rock and fans of peaceful atmospheres with beautiful melodies accessible at first listen...

Line Up / Musicians

Sébastien Bournier (Vocal, Drums), Paul J.No (Vocal, Keybords), Jean-Philippe Benadjer (Vocal, Guitar, Bass)

Artist : Realisea

Album : Mantelpeace

Release Date : 20-04-2020

Added : 24-05-2020

'Realisea' is the project of 'Brian de Graeve', guitarist, singer and songwriter of the Dutch neo-progressive group 'Silhouette' whose latest album 'The World Is Flat and Other Alterative Facts' dates from 2017, and 2020 finally sees the release of the first album under the name 'Realisea' after a long gestation of several years, Brian having created this project with his wife Marjolein in 2011 and in the family 'de Greave', they play music in family because their son 'Geoffrey de Graeve' is a bass player, 'Rob van Nieuwenhuijzen' and 'Christophe Rapenne' who complete the line up, respectively on drums and keyboards. Also note that this project appealed to many quite diverse guests, both at the vocal level and at an instrumental level, such as artists that I particularly like, 'Michel St-Père' and 'Jean Pageau' from 'Mystery' (see their latest album here).

Overall, their style is part of a peaceful and serene rock in the tradition of bands like 'Mostly Autumn', 'Mystery' or in the latest releases like 'MOON HALO' or 'Drowning Steps'. 'Las Vegas Lace' begins the album with the most energetic title and we discover the sweet voice of 'Marjolein de Graeve' with a melody which easily gets stuck in the head, then 'Deep Blue' in a more calm and light register reminds me of the sounds of 'Renaissance' and the 7 minutes of 'Riroda Roads' make it a magnificent semi-acoustic ballad interspersed two-thirds by a part sung by children. With 'Strong Enough', we stay in the atmosphere of the previous title and it is Brian who officiates at singing which allows to vary the vocal section, then, 'Leave Street' unrolls a beautiful melody in which 'Michel Saint Père' poses a beautiful guitar solo at the end of the title and 'Out of this World' is again a beautiful ballad with a very beautiful piano/voice duo on which the vocal arrangements are remarkable. The rest of the album continues with 'Your Part', more fast with a beautiful instrumental part in the second part of the title, more posed, then, 'Circles if Silence' with beautiful melodic lines and a magnificent vocal duo 'Marjolein by Graeve'/'Jean Pageau', and 'This Time' recalls 'Barclay James Harvest' period 'Ring Of Changes'. The album ends beautifully with the soft acoustic 'Liquid Domino' mixing the two beautiful voices of the couple 'de Graeve' and 'Our Stage', the longest and most progressive track on the album which sums up the whole in an atmosphere alternating acoustic and electric passages with an epic finish.

In summary, the Dutch of 'Realisea' are releasing a very beautiful album which can be enjoyed in a calm place, headphones on the ears, and if you like the atmospheres of a peaceful progressive rock, 'Mantelpeace' is without no doubt for you...

Line Up / Musicians

Brian de Graeve (Vocal, Guitar), Geoffrey de Graeve (Bass), Marjolein de Graeve (Vocal, Flute), Rob van Nieuwenhuijzen (Drums), Christophe Rapenne (Keybords) + Guests : Aldo Adema (Guitar), Rindert Bul (Guitar), Suzan van den Engel (Harp), Duncan de Graeve (Vocal), Mila Kamstra (Violin), Tamara van Coetsveld (Clarinette), Bart Laan (Guitar), Erik Laan (Keybords), Gert Otten (Cor), Jean Pageau (Vocal), Michel St-Père (Guitar), Simon Rogers (Guitar), Jos Uffing (Bass, Vocal), Sophie Zaaijer (Violin)

Artist : Kristoffer Gildenlöw

Album : Homebound

Release Date : 18-04-2020

Added : 15-06-2020

'Kristoffer Gildenlöw' is the former bassist of the progressive metal band 'Pain Of Salvation' (see their latest album 'In The Passing Light Of Day') and he also participates in the ‘Kayak’ project of which he is the bass player (last opus 'Live 2019' released recently and 'Seventeen' released in 2018) and which already has 2 solo studio recordings to his credit with the magnificent 'The Rain' in 2016 whose theme was Alzheimer's disease. His last baby 'Homebound' is completely acoustic and brings us back to the 80s and can remind some singers of the time like 'Cat Stevens' but also he has this charisma at the vocal and instrumental level which can make think of the atmospheres of the last 'Roger Waters'.

9 songs for a relatively short duration of 35 minutes, it is the menu of 'Homebound' which after the instrumental introduction 'Eternal' which plants a rather dark decor with the Cello of 'Maaike Peterse', starts with a remarkable 'Holy Ground' which highlights Kristoffer's vocal talent with a striking alternation between tension and relaxation, then, 'Like Father Like Son' is much lighter and it is in this kind of compositions and the calm parts that the parallel with 'Cat Stevens' is most blatant. The following continues in this voluptuous atmosphere with 'Infected' and its rhythm section leading the dance, then, 'Snow' takes us on a small cloud with vaporous keyboards and an admirable vocal performance by Kristoffer while restrained and who fills all space in the intense parts, and 'Our Home' comes back to a more playful title which can make one think of 'BJH' and with very beautiful choirs. With 'I Cried Today', with its lighter melody, the vocal arrangements are simply sublime, then the cover of 'Leonard Cohen', 'Chelsea Hotel # 2' is masterful and it is in this title that I find that 'Kristoffer Gildenlöw' approaches the ambiances of 'Roger Waters', and it is with 'You Need Not Stay (Away)' with his melancholic accompaniment on the piano that the album ends with a last sublime singing by Kristoffer.

In summary, as you will have understood, 'Kristoffer Gildenlöw' is releasing a masterful album and in large part due to its vocal performances which takes you into his universe that is always on the knife's edge and if you like atmospheres with constantly this feeling of swaying between tension and relaxation, 'Homebound' is undoubtedly made for you...

Line Up / Musicians

Kristoffer Gildenlöw (Vocal, Bass) + Guests : Dirk Bruinenberg (Drums), Jeroen Molenaar (Drums), Fredrik Hermansson (Piano), Marcel Singor (Guitar), Paul Coenradie (Guitar), Jan Willem Ketelaers (Choirs), Erna auf der Haar (Choirs), Maaike Peterse (Cello), Ola Sjönnerby (Cuivre)

Artist : Skintrade

Album : The Show Must Go On

Release Date : 17-04-2020

Added : 28-06-2020

As I did in late 2019 (see here), for a week, at the rate of 2 per day, I present to you a set of albums released for this first semester 2020 in melodic rock and hard-rock in addition to those already reviewed like for example ’Bonfire’, ’SteelCity’, ’Grand Design’ or still ’Xtasy’. The order of upload corresponds to the chronology of the album releases.

Melodic hard rock albums rock of the first semester 2020

We are still heading towards the Scandinavian countries with the Swedes of ‘Skintrade’ which gives us a new opus ‘The Show Must Go On’. This formation had a first period in the 90s with 2 albums 'Skintrade' in 1993 and 'Roach Powder' in 1995. Reformed in 2011, 'The Show Must Go On' is their 4th studio recording of this new period, 2012 having seen the release of 'Past And Present' in 2012 and 'Refuled' in 2014 and ‘Scarred for Life’ in 2015. In this last album, their style is influenced by hard-rock from the 70s with a modern sound and some compositions can make you think of atmospheres of 'Led Zeppelin' ('Chosen Ones', ‘Tower’ or 'Riverof Tears') and they alternate direct and powerful titles and others quieter like 'Show Must Go On' or 'Other Side'.

Line Up / Musicians

Matti Alfonzetti (Vocal, Guitar), Stefan Bergström (Guitar, Choirs), Håkan Calmroth (Bass), Hasse Sjölander (Drums, Choirs)

Artist : Eternal Wanderers

Album : Homeless Soul

Release Date : 16-04-2020

Added : 23-05-2020

'Eternal Wanderers' is a Russian formation formed by two sisters, Elena and Tatyana Kanevskaya and who already has more than 20 years of career with several albums to its credit and a first period with an electro-acoustic style and 'Floydian' influences from the period 'Ummaguma', and a second period evolving towards progressive rock with 3 studio recordings, 'The Door To A Parallel World' in 2008, 'SoFar and So Near' in 2011 and 'The Mystery Of The Cosmic Sorrow' in 2016. 'Homeless Soul' (see their page on this new opus here) is their 4th progressive rock album and after a first listen, the first feeling that comes out is that they mix two types of progressive : first, a fairly classic progressive rock inherited from the 70s with the singer 'Elena Kanevskaya' who delivers remarkable vocal performances and in these parts, the style makes me Don't think about the British from the ‘Renaissance’ (see their latest album here); then, they also offer us sections (see even whole titles) only instrumental which are in a modern and sought-after progressive style which brings back at certain times to the English of ‘ELP’.

It is with a magnificent vocal performance à capella by 'Elena Kanevskaya' that 'Eternal Wanderers' invites us to start the opus, then 'Eternal Wanderer' unrolls a very beautiful melody and it is in this kind of titles that the parallel with 'Renaissance' is quite obvious. In the same vein we can cite the psychedelic ‘Meteor’ with beautiful instrumental sections or the beautiful ballad ‘I Wanna Give My Life for You’. In parallel with these titles, the Russians offer compositions which alternate sung parts and other more elaborate instrumental which require several listening to integrate all the nooks and crannies : 'Transformations' is the first example with a fairly long first instrumental part , then a short part sung and finally, a final taking up the starting theme, then, 'The Cradle of a Hurricane' is entirely instrumental in 6 parts, sometimes serene, sometimes intense, describing the natural phenomena that are the hurricanes which I quote « are one of these phenomena that has mysticism and power, a cycle of life, born in the illusory calm waters of the ocean ». The rest of the album scrolls the ballad 'Chaos of Reason' which incorporates very beautiful contemporary passages in a psychedelic atmosphere and beautiful vocalizations of Elena in the second part (again this parallel with 'Renaissance'), the second instrumental 'In Search Of The Antiworld', alternating melancholic melodic lines with disturbing atmospheres, then the eponymous title of the album with sound effects and a tormented narration interspersed with sung sections, the album ending in an original way oriental atmosphere with 'Invested with Mystery', a title quite off the beaten track and a last beautiful vocal performance by 'Elena Kanevskaya' accompanied by the sitar of 'Dmitry Shtatnov'.

In summary, the Russians of Eternal Wanderers' release an album of remarkable originality which mixes different styles and which need to be tamed, little by little, over the listening and for this reason, 'Homeless Soul' will certainly limited to an informed public who likes to mix an inventive and sought-after progressive with symphonic and melodic atmospheres embellished with a very beautiful voice...

Line Up / Musicians

Elena Kanevskaya (Vocal, Keybords), Tatyana Kanevskaya (Guitar, Keybords, Choirs), Dmitry Shtatnov (Bass, Keybords, Citharre, Vocal, Choirs), Sergey Rogulya (Drums, Percussions) + Guests : Zhenya Kanevskiy (Voix), Kostya Shtatnov (Voix), Andy Didorenko (Violin)

Artist : Imperial Age

Album : Live in Wroclaw

Release Date : 10-04-2020

Added : 18-05-2020

During the confinement period, the Russians from 'Imperial Age' gave a live concert on you tube on April 25, 2020 and they also released an album from the concert given in Wroclaw in March 2018 which contains 6 tracks from their latest album 'The Legacy of Atlantis'. We are therefore immersed in the live atmosphere of a symphonic metal with epic songs sung by the two sopranos 'Jane Odintsova' and 'Anna Moiseeva' and the tenor 'Alexander Osipov' in a grandiose atmosphere as the Russians know to do so well.

The first 5 tracks are all taken from 'The Legacy of Atlantis' with first of all the two grandiose mid-tempos which are 'The Awakening' and 'The Legacy of Atlantis' which start the concert in an imposing and which triggers this characteristic little thrill at the start of the concert. Follows the fast and melodic ‘The Escape’ in the vein of ‘Rhapsody’ then a new mid-tempo ‘The Monastery’ with its chorus taken up in chorus by the three singers and ‘Domini Canes’ continues in this overheated and majestic atmosphere. The rest of the concert returns to older songs, first of all, the energetic 'Death Guard' with its refrain taken up and chanted by the public, then, what I consider their anthem, the magnificent power ballad 'Aryavarta', and finally to end in style an energetic 'Anthem of Valor' and the no less energetic 'And I Shall Find My Home'.

In summary, the Russians of 'Imperial Age' confirm that they take their full dimension in concert and this live, even if it remains short, highlights this grandiose atmosphere that they deploy what should please all their fans but also to all those who love an epic and majestic symphonic metal...

Line Up / Musicians

Alexander “Aor” Osipov (Vocal), Jane “Corn” Odintsova (Vocal), Anna “Kiara” Moiseeva (Vocal), Max Talion (Drums), Paul “Vredes” Maryashin (Guitar), Dmitry “Belf” Safronov (Bass)

Artist : Fallen Arise

Album : Enigma

Release Date : 10-04-2020

Added : 19-05-2020

The band 'Fallen Arise' returns to the front of the symphonic metal scene with a new album 'Enigma', after 5 long years of absence because their last studio recording 'Adeline' already dates from 2015. It must be said that the Greeks had, to say the least, some line-up changes and, apart from 'Gus Dibelas' which is at the origin of this training in 2009 , the rest of the group has totally changed and a new singer 'Fiona Creaby' (also member of ’Blood Red Soul’ with two albums released 'Symphony of a Memory' in 2017 and 'River of Melancholia' in 2019) arrived in 2016 as well as a new singer 'Vlasis Katsaounis' on extreme vocals, 'Spyros Vasilakis' now playing on guitar, 'Jason Ioakeim' on bass and 'Marios Karavasilis' on drums.

With this renewed line up, a the first listening, you have the feeling that a certain stability has finally been found and, even if the style has not changed and remains some melodic symphonic metal with fairly classic verses/choruses, we feel that a certain maturity has taken hold and this new album is like what we should expect from more famous bands like 'Xandria' (see their last album here) or 'Leaves' Eyes' (see their latest album here) to name just two that the Grecs have accompanied on their tours. After a grandiose introduction full of choruses as 'Epica' can do, 'Enigma' and 'Reborn' are two energetic and catchy tracks with fairly similar choruses that immediately get stuck in the head and we discover the clear and limpid singing of 'Fiona Creaby' who alternates with the interventions of growls of 'Vlasis Katsaounis' and this opposition works remarkably, then, 'Forsaken', calmer, recalls certain compositions of 'Within Temptation' especially since Fiona can recall the intonations of 'Sharon Den Adel'. The following continues to offer us unstoppable melodies whether with powerfull titles as in 'Embers' or in 'The Storm Inside' with a greater use of growls or in the energetic 'Released' with melodic lines still reminiscent of 'Within Temptation' first period, simple but very effective, or in quieter tracks and the second part of the album contains three with the mid-tempo 'Without Disguise' alternating slow verses with a more powerful chorus, the other mid- tempo 'Forever Winter' and the magnificent ballad 'Horizon' in which 'Fiona Creaby' shows real emotion and recalls the cover of 'Nighwish', 'Walking on the Air' interpreted by 'Tarja'.

In summary, the Greeks of 'Fallen Arise' confirm all the good that we thought of them with their previous album 'Adeline' and, even if the whole is quite similar to what a group like 'Within Temptation' have done in the early 2000s, 'Enigma' should appeal to fans of this style and will allow those who do not know this style to discover it because all the compositions are accessible at first listening...

Line Up / Musicians

Fiona Creaby (Vocal), Vlasis Katsaounis (Vocal), Gus Dibelas (Keybords), Spyros Vasilakis (Guitar), Jason Ioakeim (Bass), Marios Karavasilis (Drums)

Artist : Nightwish

Album : Human. :II: Nature

Release Date : 10-04-2020

Added : 20-05-2020

Fans were eagerly awaiting the release of the new 'Nightwish' after 5 long years and the latest record 'Endless Forms Most Beautiful' which had been seen the induction of 'Floor Jansen' as a new singer : it's done with 'Human. : II: Nature’ which should undoubtedly please the large fan base worldwide but which for me shows again and again that the Finns are pioneers and this new album is still the proof because the surprises are numerous. Given the richness and density of this opus, I will not do some title by title, the chronicles being multiple on the net (see the very good chronicle of 'United Rock Nations'), but I will focus it on the centerpiece of 'Nightwish', I named the keyboard player 'Tuomas Holopainen' who realize all of the group's compositions.

As a child, Classically trained, the Finn learned different instruments including the piano and the clarinet and joined a jazz group at 15 as a Saxophonist (by the way, a certain 'Tarja Turunen' was already part of the adventure, we know the rest). At around 17, he turned to metal and integrated various formations in an episodic way like ‘Darkwoods My Betrothed’ (Black metal), ‘Nattvindens Gråt’ (Gothic, Doom) and ‘Sethian’ (Progressive metal). Besides that, from 1996, in parallel with 'Nightwish', he continued to get involved in other projects like that of 'Timo Rautiainen' (Heavy metal) with the album 'Sarvivuori' or with the band 'For My Pain…' with the opus 'Fallen' or even more recently with the project 'Auri', with 'Troy Donockley' and a sublime album, quite distant from metal (see here) or his solo project 'The Life and Times of Scrooge' which is inspired by the author and cartoonist 'Don Rosa' which wrote and drew this story.

This rather heterogeneous course (and I certainly forget some other things) shows the scope of this composer touches on everything who puts all his talent for more than twenty years at the service of 'Nightwish' and, we feel that with this new album 'Human. : II: Nature', the fame of the group no longer being to be done in a very specific style, Tuomas has made the choice to make a kind of patchwork of all his influences and all his course while keeping a frame, if we can say, a 'Nightwishienne' frame, that is to say made of unstoppable melodies and epic atmospheres and here is in three points, what I will retain from this double album :
First of all, the first part which includes 9 tracks takes us into a multitude of sounds, melodic lines and different atmosphere but, for me, the novelty is the very progressive aspect of the compositions of Tuomas, orientation very little taken in the past with 'Nightwish' which undoubtedly risks destabilizing certain early fans but which gives a new dimension to the Finns, adding a string to their bow which justifies comparing them to progressive metal artists with in mind the great productions of the Dutchman 'Arjen Anthony Lucassen' (see his last live from 'Ayreon' 'Electric Castle Live And Other Tales' ).
Then, as he had done to highlight 'Tarja Turunen' in the early years of 'Nightswish', Tuomas succeeded in compositions which give a golden place to 'Floor Jansen' in all registers of the Dutch and this from the first title 'Music' and the first bars which highlight a crystal crystalline and light singing in a vocal section certainly not easy to sing and which shows in the chorus of the same title, the vocal power of this artist. I could cite quite a few other examples and to take another, I will mention the finale of 'Shoemaker' which also highlights the lyrical register of Floor in a magical moment filled with a beautiful emotion as suspended in time.
Finally, the second part 'All The Works Of Nature Which Adorn The Earth' is a large classical symphonic fresco which reminds us that Tuomas is an outstanding composer and who, far from metal and in these troubled times conducive to reflection, invites us in a magnificent journey to refocus on the essential things that the earth offers us, as if the composer had predicted the current crisis and wanted to make us realize that the most important thing is to take care of our planet before it's too late.

In summary, some will no doubt talk about the symphonic metal album of the year; for my part, I will not be as restrictive because the work of 'Tuomas Holopainen' on this album is impressive and all the interpretations are masterful, which goes far beyond a single style and which places it above the lot as a timeless work , quite simply, some 21st century Music. And I will finish with the last message from ’Ad Astra’, simple but so strong about our Earth that we must preserve at all costs : ‘That's here. That's home. That's us’...

Line Up / Musicians

Floor Jansen (Vocal), Tuomas Holopainen (Keybords), Marco Hietala (Vocal, Bass), Emppu Vuorinen (Guitar), Kai Hahto (Drums), Troy Donockley (Flute, Bagpipe) + invités : The London Session Orchestra, The Metro Voices Choir

Artist : Dool

Album : Summerland

Release Date : 10-04-2020

Added : 21-05-2020

‘Dool’ is a Dutch band that released their first album ’Here Now, There Then’ in 2017 and therefore released their second studio recording ‘Summerland’. Founded by singer and guitarist 'Ryanne van Dorst' who is also known as 'Elle Bandita' (see here), their universe is quite dark and refers to the pagan theme from Viking mythology but curiously, the musical atmospheres, even if the tempos are quite slow, give an impression of fullness which alternates with more intense moments and this atmosphere is similar to formations like the Swedes of 'Avatarium' who also released a new opus in 2020 (see here).

At the outset, with 'Sulfur And Starlight' and 'Wol Moon', the tone is set with a mid-tempo in which 'Ryanne van Dorst' reveals a melancholic vocal register which she hardens at certain times and which is particularly well adapted to the style, then, 'God Particle', with a calm orientalizing introduction, unrolls a heavy melody which increases and softens with the sung part and which ends with a beautiful instrumental part. The suite offers us 'Summerland' which is built on a slow tempo and which slightly accelerates the rhythm in the instrumental final in crescendo and falls back with some piano notes, then, 'A Glass Forest' recalls the beginning of the psychedelic in the 60s and 'The Well's Run Dry' accelerates the pace for one of the most energetic songs from the album. With 'Ode to the Future', in a pop style, the swaying tempo makes us stamp our feet, then 'Be Your Sins' continues in this lightness with a refrain which immediately enters the head and 'Dust & Shadow' in a doom sound style with a slow tempo that stretches over 8 minutes, ends the album in a very nice way on a more melancholic note.

In summary, this latest album of 'Dool' demonstrates the undeniable talent of this formation which, even if the dark side that we stick to them is mainly conveyed by the themes addressed, takes us on an original journey that transmits permanently this subtle duality between tension and relaxation, which for me constitutes the great strength of this 'Summerland'...

Line Up / Musicians

Ryanne van Dorst (Vocal, Guitar), Micha Haring (Drums), JB Van Der Wal (Bass), Reinier Vermeulen (Guitar), Nick Polak (Guitar)

Artist : Bonfire

Album : Fistful of Fire

Release Date : 03-04-2020

Added : 10-05-2020

With 'Bonfire', the same story has been repeated quite frequently for several years, because, after two good albums, 'Byte The Bullet' in 2017 and 'Temple of Lies' in 2018, it's the turn of 'Fistful of Fire' to see the light of day and when I reread my chronicle of 'Temple of Lies', I said to myself that I could make a copy and paste, just changing the name of the compositions. Indeed, apart from a slight change of line up with 'André Hilgers' which replaces 'Tim Breideband' on the drums, we take the same and start again with an equivalent result : Indeed, apart from a slight change of line up with 'André Hilgers' which replaces 'Tim Breideband' on the drums, we take the same artists and we start again with an equivalent result : good melodic hard-rock with titles that remain anchored in your head and, after the instrumental introduction 'The Joker' which prepares the ground, it begins with a catchy 'Gotta Get Away' with a refrain which will certainly be sung in choir in concert, then, what is follows shows compositions all equally powerful and melodic as the others and apart from the magnificent ballad 'When an Old Man Cries' which is included in an acoustic version at the end of the album and the 2 mid-tempos 'Warrior' and 'Fistful of Fire' a little less energetic and allowing well-deserved breaks, everything is done to offer us over-vitaminized compositions. We can also note the two double titles 'Breaking Out' with its instrumental introduction ‘Fire Etude’ in which ‘Frank Pane’ takes himself for a short time for ‘Eddie Van Halen’ and ‘The Surge’ which serves as a progressive ramp-up to explode in an un unbridled 'Gloryland'.

In summary, the Germans of 'Bonfire' are still releasing (but we are used to it now) an album filled with good energy that should appeal to all those who love a powerful and melodic hard rock always as effective...

Line Up / Musicians

Alexx Stahl (Vocal), Frank Pane (Guitar), Hans Ziller (Guitar), Ronnie Parkes (Bass), André Hilgers (Drums)

Artist : Dynazty

Album : The Dark Delight

Release Date : 03-04-2020

Added : 11-05-2020

They are still Swedes, 'Dynazty' not to mention them, who are releasing a new album of melodic metal after a very good 'Firesign' in 2018, 'The Dark Delight' being their 7th studio recording. They continue in their momentum to offer us a powerful metal and this last opus is a continuation of the previous one with melodic lines that give the impression of already heard and that they 'metalize' with explosive guitar riffs and with a singer 'Nils Molin' who gives it all.

From the very first tracks, we are in the bath with the energetic 'Presence of Mind', 'Paradise of the Architect', 'The Black' and 'From Sound of Silence' whose choruses immediately become embedded in your head, then, 'Hologram' offers a classic but very effective power ballad and the following continues with always effective melodies, 'Heartless Madness', with pop intonations, making me think of the atmospheres of the symphonic metal formation 'Amberian Dawn' (see last album here) and 'Waterfall' with a rhythm and melodic lines close to disco of the 80s. The following keeps this same melodic level with the catchy 'Threading the Needle' and his remarkable guitar solo, 'The Man And The Elements' and his festive folk intonations, 'Apex' with his wild rhythm, 'The Road to Redemption' and 'The Dark Delight' with their intonations mixing east and west and the bonus track, 'The Shoulder Devil', ending the album in an atmosphere of powerful symphonic metal like 'Amaranthe', formation in which 'Nils Molin' is one of the singers.

In summary, the Swedes continue their road and deliver us an album where each composition is a real melodic single and 'The Dark Delight' is to be advised to an audience loving a melodic hard-rock with effective and accessible compositions at first listen...

Line Up / Musicians

Nils Molin (Vocal), Rob Love Magnusson (Guitar), George Egg (Drums), Mikael Lavér (Guitar), Jonathan Olsson (Bass) + invité : Henrik Englund (Vocal)

Artist : Conception

Album : State of Deception

Release Date : 03-04-2020

Added : 13-05-2020

'Conception' is a Norwegian band which already has thirty years of existence and which released 4 albums in the 90s then returned to the front of the progressive metal scene in 2018 with an EP 'My Dark Symphony' and 2020 sees the release of a short album (about 33 minutes if you don't count' Feather Moves' which is a remastered title of a 2018 single including 3 titles) but which requires repeated listening to extract all the essential marrow.

After the short symphonic instrumental introduction 'in: Deception' which sets the scene in a disturbing atmosphere, 'Of Raven and Pigs' is based on a repetitive riff with a first part sung and an offbeat guitar solo which judiciously integrates into the tempo and a finish where crowd noises accentuate this feeling of flight forward. Then follows 'Waywardly Broken', a mid-tempo that alternates tension and relaxation with a beautiful vocal performance of 'Roy Khan' and a new guitar solo with 'Gilmourian' sounds (the tempo reminds me of 'Sorrow'), then, 'No Rewind' takes us on a fast and dense track because despite its short duration, several parts follow one another making it one of the most striking titles. With 'The Mansion' in which the singer of 'Amaranth', 'Elize Ryd' has been invited for the high parts, it is a magnificent ballad which allows a break and is certainly the most affordable title with a super melodic chorus, and 'By The Blues' comes back to a catchy and energetic composition, then 'Anybody Out There', with its slow and heavy rhythm, is for me, one of the flagship songs of the album which can recall the tempos of 'Leprous' (see their latest album here). It is with, first of all, the energetic 'She Dragoon' with its melody which easily enters your head, and then the resumption of 'Feather Moves' that the album ends on a more calm and melancholic note.

In summary, the Norwegians of ‘Conception’ come back with an album which improves, listening after listening with a real talent to mix different intensities and rhythms and State ‘of Deception’ should appeal to a whole public adept of a progressive metal which is original and sought...

Line Up / Musicians

Roy Khan (Vocal), Tore Østby (Guitar), Ingar Amlien (Bass), Arve Heimdal (Drums) + Guest : Elize Ryd (Vocal)

Artist : Ad Infinitum

Album : Chapter I – Monarchy

Release Date : 03-04-2020

Added : 14-05-2020

Decidedly, the Swiss 'Melissa Bonny' is currently in the spotlight because after her participation in the last album of ' Beneath My Sins' and the release in 2019 of 'Imploder' of the 'Rage of Light ' project, she created a new formation 'Ad Infinitum' and her first studio recording is called' Chapter I: Monarchy' which foreshadows that there will be a sequel and which makes us revise our history lessons with this first part at the time of the monarchy.

Musically, the listener is immersed in a classical symphonic metal with influences of major formations of this style but, even if the sound is much more modern, if you are nostalgic for the melodic lines of 'Within Temptation' of the end of the 90s and of the beginning of the 2000s, you should be delighted by this album with compositions like 'Infected Monarchy', 'See You In Hell', 'Fire And Ice', 'Revenge' or even 'Tell Me Why' which easily embed in your head. The other titles are just as melodic with 'Melissa Bonny' in certain places, alternating her clear song and her extreme voice without adding too much which means that the vocal change remains always judicious : we can quote the energetic 'Marching On Versailles', 'Maleficent' or 'I am The Storm' alternating fiery double pedal and much quieter passages or even the catchy and very 'Delaisian' 'Live Before You Die' or the fast 'Demons'. Note that the end of the album contains two very beautiful acoustics from 'See You In Hell' and 'Tell Me Why', the instrumental of 'Marching On Versailles' and 'See You In Hell' as well as a last title 'This is Halloween' which was released a while ago on you tube for Halloween 2019.

In summary, this new project initiated by 'Melissa Bonny' and endowed with flawless production shows that the Swiss completely masters her subject both in terms of writing and in terms of vocal and Chapter I – Monarch ' is recommended for all those who are fans of a symphonic metal accessible at first listen...

Line Up / Musicians

Melissa Bonny (Vocal), Niklas Müller (Drums), Jonas Asplind (Bass), Adrian Theßenvitz (Guitar)

Artist : MoonSun

Album : Escapalace

Release Date : 03-04-2020

Added : 22-05-2020

'MoonSun' is a German band which was created by singer 'Susanne Scherer' and multi-instrumentalist 'Thomas Kolbin' and who already has two studio recordings to her credit ('Silent Pieces' and 'Inner Clouds') and cover albums (here and here) and it is only with this new album 'Escapalace' that I discover them. I say 'only' because, after taking the time to listen to their previous productions, they were already of a very high quality with first of all 'Silent Pieces' in 2013 which was an original album in acoustics and' Inner Clouds 'in 2015 who saw the duo mature and their approach immediately made me think of the Brazilians of 'Fleesh' (see their latest album here). The comparison stops there because our German duo has always been attracted by symphonic metal and, even if we find in their cover albums quite varied styles including songs from the magnificent film 'Les Choristes' and the 'Hallehuia' from 'Leonard Cohen', also contain 'Nighwish' titles (see their latest album here) and the remarkable covers, among others, of 'Dead Boy's Poem', 'Nemo' or 'Sleeping Sun' but also 'My Immortal' from 'Evanescence' (see their latest album here).

It was then that in 2018, the duo decided to evolve towards symphonic metal with the release of an EP 'Rise And Shin' which saw 'Thomas Kolbin' swap his acoustic guitar for an electric guitar and 'Susanne Scherer' diversify her vocal register and get closer to a certain 'Tarja Turunen' (listen to 'Desire') and which also showed provisions for this style of music. And 2020 therefore sees the release of the first symphonic metal studio album and what an album !! From the first track to the last, each one is a potential single with melodies that immediately enter your head; so as not to make the title title, I will cite my favorites with the catchy 'Wanted and Wild' where everything is done to make us move in rhythm, or the mid-tempo 'Blind' which alternates in a masterful way calm and power and brings to mind the atmospheres of 'Tarja', 'Susanne Scherer' having the same charisma as the Finnish, or the magnificent ballad 'Scars' showing that Susanne knows how to modulate her voice, limpid and crystalline in the verses and powerful in the chorus or the symphonic 'Into The Fire' with its remarkable modulations between intense parts and others more moderate. Note that the duo has put online since 2019, a lot of remarkable videos on their you tube page (see here) and here are some titles form ‘Escapalace' :
- One By One.
- Wanted and Wild.
- Scars.
- Into The Fire.
- To the Sky and Back.
- Deep Within.
- Between the Flags.
- Hearing Your Scream.

In summary, in all of the symphonic metal releases this year, 'MoonSun' is without a doubt the most beautiful discovery for me and, for all lovers of symphonic metal who are fans of 'Tarja', you can go there with your eyes closed, you will not be disappointed...

Line Up / Musicians

Susanne Scherer (Vocal), Thomas Kolbin (Tous les instruments)

Artist : Miracle Flair

Album : Synchronism

Release Date : 03-04-2020

Added : 18-06-2020

'Miracle Fair' is a German-Swiss symphonic metal band led by a duo, singer 'Nicole Hartmann' and guitarist, author and composer 'Daniel Maurizi' who released a new album, 'Synchronism', in early April, bringing their discography since 2011 to three studio recordings 'Angels Cast Shadows' being the latest, released in 2016. With this last baby, they continue to ride the wave of a symphonic and melodic metal in the style of 'Delain', 'Xandria' and 'Within Temptation' but also other less known bands including the last one that I did a review, 'Victoria K' which refers to all those combos that have released an album since the beginning of 2020.

This is confirmed from the first titles 'The Untold', 'Synchronism' or 'What Remains', the tone is set for powerful and catchy compositions with melodic lines that we very easily appropriate and a clear song of 'Nicole Hartmann' who masters her subject from the first to the last note. The following continues in this style with often fast rhythms and guitar riffs of 'Daniel Maurizi' often in the foreground as in 'Torn Inside', 'Torture Myself' or in 'In Charge' and, apart from 'Lost in the Void 'and' Presence of Death 'which bring a certain variety inside each title with quieter passages and the bonus version of' In Love and Hate 'much lighter compared to the original (a little like 'Amberian Dawn'), the whole, even if all the compositions are of quality, remains substantially on the same scheme and may weary some in the long run.

In summary, this last baby of 'Miracle Fair' is a continuation of the previous ones and offers an energetic, symphonic and melodic metal in line with the major formations of this style and, even if despite each composition shows all the undeniable talent of this band, we can regret a lack of variety which could have been brought by the presence of one or two ballads and by more marked changes in intensity within the titles themselves...

Line Up / Musicians

Nicole Hartmann (Vocal), Daniel Maurizi (Guitar), Diego Rapacchietti (Drums), Emmi Lichtenhahn (Bass), Erik Damköhler (Keybords)

Artist : Edenya

Album : Silence

Release Date : 02-04-2020

Added : 26-05-2020

'Edenya' is a project which was created by the multi-instrumentalist, author and composer 'Marco' about ten years ago with an EP released in 2017 with a first Cameroonian singer 'Ida Rose' which was replaced after the release of the EP with a new singer 'Elena' and a new singer 'Rémi' which allowed 'Marco' to considerably develop his vocal section and 2020 sees the release of their first LP 'Silence'. Their style is part of a peaceful and melodic progressive rock and we can cite bands like 'Mostly Autumn' (see last album here ) or the new project 'Chasing The Monsoon' from ex 'Karnataka', 'Ian-Jones' or even the Brazilians from 'Fleesh'.

'Silence' contains 8 tracks for 50 minutes of music and for the beginning, with 'The Promise', the introduction made of guitar arpeggios reminds us of the ballads of 'Scorpions' and we discover the beautiful singing of 'Elena', delicate and harmonious, then, after halfway through, the title takes off in a beautiful instrumental section to fall back on the end with the starting theme. Follows 'Sabrina' which continues in this calm and dreamlike atmosphere, then, after the melancholic instrumental 'Broken Love', not necessarily essential for me because always repeating the same musical phrase, 'All They Want' is a melodic jewel and you can't help but think of 'Gabby Vessoni' from 'Fleesh' when you hear Elena's sweet voice filling the whole space. The following offers us the long title 'Will the Demons Win?' Which denounces the terrorist attacks and it is with a ballad and a very beautiful crescendo that 'Marco' decided to treat this subject, then 'Chaos' is the second instrumental , quite linear, with a more rock sound but which keeps a rather slow tempo and with 'Silence', we hold the longest title of the album and certainly the most progressive which takes us on a superb journey in the company of the singing of 'Elena' but which also gives pride of place to instrumental sections with remarkable alternations between energetic parts and others much quieter, then the album ends quietly on an acoustic note with 'Still Alive'.

In summary, with his project 'Edenya', 'Marco' shows us all his talent as an author and a composer in an album filled with airy and delicate atmospheres and 'Silence' should appeal to an audience who likes a progressive melodic and accessible at first listen...

Line Up / Musicians

Marco (Guitar, Keybords, Piano), Elena (Vocal, Choirs), Rémi (Vocal, Choirs)

Artist : JPL

Album : Sapiens Chapitre 1/3 : Exordium

Release Date : 02-04-2020

Added : 30-05-2020

'JPL' ('Jean-Pierre Louveton') is well known to French progressive rock public because, after 15 years with 'Nemo' and 9 studio albums, he continues to release albums and only a few are on spotify (including the 'Retrospections', the last release of which dates from 2018 - see here). 2020 therefore sees the release of a new album which is the first chapter of an ambitious work : 'Sapiens' or the history of man and this first section 'Exordium' is divided into 3 parts, 'Erectus' which is the advent of man on earth (the titles ‘Mastodontes’, ‘Homo sapiens’ and ‘Ecce homo’), 'Exitium' which is the period of his domination and then the destruction of his ecosystem (titles ‘A condition’ and ‘Le chaud et le froid’) and 'Exodus' which is the terrible observation that his planet is not viable anymore (the titles 'Planète A' and 'Alpha centuri').

Musically, 'Jean-Pierre Louveton' continues to do 'JPL' and we are therefore immersed in a progressive epic which gives pride of place to the instrumental sections which are always very full and always just as imaginative, and this, starting by ‘Mastodontes’, fully instrumental and whose symphonic introduction does not augur something for the much heavier suite with a welcome lull in the second part and a catchy finish which do of this title a remarkable introduction to the album, then, 'Homo sapiens' tumbles with melodic lines easy to memorize and refers to the French progressive rock groups with in mind 'Ange' (see their last album here) and 'Ecce Homo', fully instrumental, ends the first part of 'Erectus' and starts more calmly to gain momentum to finish with the theme of ‘Mastodontes’ : the circle is complete, man can then begin his disastrous drawing of damaging the planet. 'Exitium' begins with 'A condition', with a text which criticizes the headlong rush of man to conquer every corner of the planet and take power at all costs with a sung first part which leaves place in the second half of the title to a very beautiful guitar solo in crescendo and a short sung section and which has an instrumental finale which accelerates the rhythm, then, 'Le chaud et le froid' which is the longest title of the album contains a remarkable central instrumental part which is sandwiched by a beautiful melody on which Jean-Pierre poses words of acerbic criticism on the misdeeds of man with a remarkable end of title with the participation of a children's choir. And it is with the two titles of 'Exodus' that the album ends : first of all, 'Planète A' which begins with a fairly calm sung part, while continuing to denounce the men who have arrived at a inevitable end, then Jean-Pierre gratifies us with a remarkable guitar solo which is followed by a sung section taking more and more amplitude with organ tones bringing an imposing atmosphere which falls back with a few notes of keyboards; then it is the turn of 'Alpha centuri' which begins energetically with an instrumental section with a solo of keyboards alternating jazzy and rock accents of 'Guillaume Fontaine' and 'Jean-Pierre Louveton' follows with a guitar solo which gives way to the sung part with excessively pessimistic lyrics which proclaim that it is too late to save the earth and with a heady instrumental finale repeating the same musical sentence.

In summary, this first part of the announced trilogy of 'Jean-Pierre Louveteau' is a remarkable introduction which should appeal to any amateur and any progressive amateur who likes the alternation between the sung and instrumental parts and the relatively accessible melodies and we hope that Jean-Pierre will released soon the next chapter, especially if it is of the same quality as 'Exordium'...

Line Up / Musicians

Jean-Pierre Louveton (Vocal, Guitar, Bass), Jean Baptiste Itier (Drums) + Guests : Florent Ville (Drums), Guillaume Fontaine (Keybords), Marguerite Miallier (Vielle à roue), Stéphanie Vouillot (Piano)

Artist : NEWMAN

Album : Ignition

Release Date : 28-03-2020

Added : 28-06-2020

As I did in late 2019 (see here), for a week, at the rate of 2 per day, I present to you a set of albums released for this first semester 2020 in melodic rock and hard-rock in addition to those already reviewed like for example ’Bonfire’, ’SteelCity’, ’Grand Design’ or still ’Xtasy’. The order of upload corresponds to the chronology of the album releases.

Melodic hard rock albums rock of the first semester 2020

After a very good 'Aerial' in 2017, 'Steve Newman' who has also just released a new album 'Our Time on Earth' with his other project 'COMPASS' and who participated as a singer in the project 'Burn' with the album 'Ice Age' of 2018, released in late March 2020 the last studio recording of 'NEWMAN' which already brings his discography to a dozen albums since the release in 1997 of the eponymous first opus of the project 'NEWMAN'. And we are getting used to it, we find Steve's melodic compositions in a fairly classic AOR style but which demonstrates album after album all the talent of the Englishman who continues to enchant us year after year.

Line Up / Musicians

Steve Newman (Vocal, Guitar, Bass, Keybords), Rob McEwen (Drums) + Guests : Dave Bartlett (Vocal), Mark Thompson-Smith (Vocal)

Artist : Ayreon

Album : Electric Castle Live And Other Tales

Release Date : 27-03-2020

Added : 30-04-2020

As he did for 'Ayreon Universe', 'Arjen Anthony Lucassen' did it again with the 20th anniversary of 'Into The Electric Castle' and for the occasion, these are 4 concerts which took place in 2019 in Tilburg and which made a few thousand happy people but which were also the subject (for all the others) of multiple CD, DVD and Blu-Ray versions and which fully transcribe this exceptional live. Needless to say, the cast was at the height of the event with, first of all, 13 singers and especially 7 of the 11 artists who participated in the 1998 album and who resumed their role of the time ('Fish', 'Edwin Balogh', 'Anneke van Giersbergen', 'Arjen Anthony Lucassen', 'Edward Reekers', 'Damian Wilson' and 'George Oosthoek') and then, no less than 11 instrumentalists with the cream of progressive metal international.

So of course, it’s impossible to describe all of the titles because there are intense 2 hours and a half available to us with, in addition to the original version of 'Into The Electric Castle' which is taken over in full, additions from other Arjen productions with 'Shores of India' from the 'The Gentle Storm' project, 'Ashes' from the album 'Fate of a Dreamer' from the project 'Ambeon', 'Out in the Real World' from the album 'Embrace the Storm' from 'Stream of Passion', 'Twisted Coil' from the album 'On this Perfect Day' from the project 'The Guilt Machine', 'Kayleigh' sung by 'Fish' which is a cover of the album 'Misplaced Childhood' from 'Marillion', 'Pink Beatles in a Purple Zeppelin' from the album 'Lost in the New Real' by Arjen and finally 'Songs of the Ocean' from the album 'Space Metal' of the project 'Star One' which concludes in the most beautiful way the concert with all the artists.

In short, enough talk and make space for music, because the best is to enjoy this live as it deserves and, as I usually say in this kind of concert, run to buy the DVD or the blu-ray vecause 'Electric Castle Live And Other Tales' takes on its full dimension with video and allows you to communicate even more with artists (see examples of video on you tube: 'Garden of Emotions', 'Twisted Coil', 'Amazing Flight' and 'The Two Gates')...

Line Up / Musicians

Arjen Anthony Lucassen (Guitar), Marcel Singor (Guitar), Ferry Duijsens (Guitar), Ed Warby (Drums), Bob Wijtsma (Guitar), Johan van Stratum (Bass), Joost van den Broek (Keybords), Ben Mathot (Violin), Jurriaan Westerveld (Cello), Thijs van Leer (Flute), Robby Valentine (Piano), John de Lancie (Narrateur), Fish (Vocal), Simone Simons (Vocal), Damian Wilson (Vocal), Edwin Balogh (Vocal), Anneke van Giersbergen (Vocal), John Jaycee Cuijpers (Vocal), Arjen Anthony Lucassen (Vocal), Edward Reekers (Vocal), George Oosthoek (Vocal), Mark Jansen (Vocal), Marcela Bovio (Vocal, Choirs), Dianne van Giersbergen (Choirs), Jan Willem Ketelaers (Choirs), Robert Soeterboek (Vocal), Michael Mills (Vocal), Rutger Hauer - Voight Kampff

Artist : Enzo and the Glory Ensemble

Album : In The Name of the World Spirit

Release Date : 27-03-2020

Added : 02-05-2020

'Enzo Donnarumma' continues its path in the biblical album concept and 'In The Name of the Spirit' is therefore the third part closing the triptych because, after 'In the name of the Father' and 'In the name of the Son', it was only missing ‘In the name of the Holy Spirit' and it's done with this last album well filled because it’s more than 60 minutes music available to us. We are now used to the principle of the Italian who invites artists from the international scene, mixing styles and for 'In The Name of the World Spirit', we can quote the singer 'Kobi Farhi' from 'Orphaned Land', the singer 'Ralf Scheepers' from 'Primal Fear', multi-instrumentalist 'Gary Wehrkamp' and drummer 'Mark Zonder' (see their album here) or the singer 'Nicholas Leptos' of the band 'Arrayan Path' but also the choir 'Weza Meza Choir' from the Congo which expands remarkably the vocal section. In short, beautiful people to interpret this last part which takes us in a style that we could qualify as world music, between classical, rock and metal, the multiple influences of Enzo, between east and west being mixed very subtly with a great talent.

So, of course, as often in this case, it takes several listenings to penetrate all the corners of this dense and rich work which is full of sumptuous moments as much at the vocal level (with this casting, it is not no wonder !!) that on the instrumental level, each artist putting himself at the service of the work. The compositions are divided between energy and serenity and after, the short symphonic instrumental introduction 'Precariousness', 'Nothingness (It's Everyone's Fate)', the tone is given with a playful and melodic title with a nice alternation between vocal and instrumental sections, then 'The Bronze Age', introduced by a flute/acoustic guitar mixture in a country atmosphere, then shows another much more energetic face with a frantic rhythm and grandiose choruses. With 'Try To Put In Pit The Fear', the mixture of influences brings a freshness to this title and I have the impression to hear a cross between 'Johnny Clegg and Savuka', some traditional folk and oriental metal close to 'Orphaned Land', then, 'To Every Chest' completely changes of register with a ballad which could be from an American musical comedy with radiant choirs. Ethnic singings begin the next track 'Just In My Heart The Blame' which quickly hardens the tone with a heady melody and several changes of intensity and tempo and makes it a fairly complex and difficult to tame track and 'I' ll Add More' brings us back to a much quieter cartoon song vibe in the major 'Disney' productions. The following shows us other horizons with, first of all, 'My Pillory', and its orientalizing introduction which quickly turns into a frenzied title close to speed metal like 'Rhapsody', the ballad 'Last Sweep' with its zither begining which offers us a fairly classic but very effective melody, then 'Psalm 13 (Tell Me)', which is certainly the most progressive because it is filled with multiple corners and alternating two fairly distant styles, classic and metal, while mixing east and west. 'Echo' is then a rather short but grandiose title that can recall the great productions of 'Ayreon' (see 'Arjen Anthony Lucassen's last live here), and 'One Reason' is the last energetic track with a plethora of choirs and the album ends in a syrupy atmosphere with' The Silence Speaks For Us' and with a new nod to American musicals with an imposing finale.

In summary, with 'In The Name of the World Spirit', 'Enzo Donnarumma' closes his triptych very beautifully and takes us again into a maze of influences that take time to tame them but which , like any work of this density and variety, takes on its full dimension, little by little, listening after listening, which means it is intended for an informed audience who likes to mix genres that are quite far apart from each other...

Line Up / Musicians

Enzo Donnarumma (Vocal) + Guests : Philip Bynoe (Bass), Mark Zonder (Drums), Gary Wehrkamp (Guitar), Francesco Romeggini (Guitar), Derek Corzine (Guitar), David Brown (Keybords), Alessandro Battini (Keybords), Weza Meza Choir (Choirs), Marty Friedman (Vocal), Kobi Farhi (Vocal), Ralf Scheepers (Vocal), Brian Ashland (Vocal), Nicholas Leptos (Vocal), Amulyn Braught Corzine (Vocal), Maria Londino (Vocal), Mr. Jack (Vocal), Claudia Coticelli (Vocal), Clara People (Vocal)

Artist : Lilly Hiatt

Album : Walking Proof

Release Date : 27-03-2020

Added : 04-05-2020

After 'Trinity Lane' released in 2017, the American 'Lilly Hiatt' returns to a more classic style with her new album 'Walking Proof'. 11 songs for a fairly short total duration of 37 minutes, this is the menu of this new opus which takes us into its universe between country and rock in the purest American tradition. As usual, she recounts episodes from her life with for example this portrait of her sister 'Rae' or 'Some Kind of Drug', which she shares with her father and which is the experience she lived for having accompanied his sister on a mission to help the homeless in 'Nashville' but, unlike 'Trinity Lane' which was more a therapy and therefore much more introspective, 'Walking Proof' reflects a pleasure which is reflected in more light titles as 'Little Believer', 'Walking Proof', 'Never Play Guitar' or even 'Move' and the softer compositions are very likeable like 'Rae', 'Candy Lunch', 'Drawl' in which she forms a very beautiful duet with 'Amanda Shires' or 'Scream' which closes the album on a peaceful note as if she had now reached a certain serenity. In short, this last album of ‘Lilly Hiatt’ is filled with beautiful compositions accessible to the first listen and ‘Walking Proof’ is therefore to be advised to the general public and is to be consumed without moderation...

Line Up / Musicians

Lilly Hiatt (Vocal, Guitar), John Condt (Guitar), Robert Hudson (Bass, Mandolin), Kate Haldrup (Drums), Travis Goodwin (Keybords), Lincoln Parish (Guitar, Keybords) + Guests : Aaron Lee Tasjan (Vocal, Guitar), Amanda Shires (Vocal, Violin), Luke Schneider (Pedal Steel), John Hiatt

Artist : Son Of Man

Album : State Of Dystopia

Release Date : 27-03-2020

Added : 06-05-2020

It is with 'State Of Dystopia' that I discover the Welshmen of 'Son Of Man' who released an eponymous first album of the group's name in 2016 (see here) and who evolve in a fairly classic rock referring to the 70s/80s with a mix of genres that can range from international variety to muscular hard-rock. Note that 'George Jones' and 'Bob Richards' were part of the group 'Man' in the 2000s and that 'George Jones' is the son of the lead guitar of 'Man', 'Micky Jones'.

'Conscience' opens the ball with a catchy title reminiscent of the 70s and rhythms close to 'Led Zeppelin' or 'Deep Purple' with guitar riffs which makes you want to beat time, then , 'Feeding Time' continues in this energetic atmosphere while 'Bring Out The Best In Me' is much quieter and can recall westcoast tones with 'Eagles' choruses. With 'When It Fall Apart', it's a fairly classic blues / rock but super efficient and always very rhythmic, then, 'Auto Devotion' puts forward the guitar riffs close to 'AC/DC' tempos and, without transition, 'One With The Voice' returns to a more peaceful rock reminiscent of the 60s and 70s, just like 'Reign of Yesterday' which follows. The rest of the album scrolls through 'What The Man Said', a good blues/rock simple but very effective with remarkable vocal arrangements, then, 'March With The Drum' which is a song against war that could have been sung by artists from the pop/rock scene of the 60s, a lively 'New Beginning' with its electronic sounds of the seventies and finally 'Too Many Questions' which ends the album with a song with harmonious melodic lines.

In summary, the Welshmen of 'Son Of Man' offer us a remarkable album of classic rock influenced by the great currents of the 60s, 70s and 80s and 'State Of Dystopia' is a bit of a digest of different styles of pop/rock with a modern sound and should appeal to a fairly large audience because all the compositions are accessible at first listening thanks to simple but effective melodies...

Line Up / Musicians

George Jones (Guitar, Vocal), Bob Richards (Drums, Vocal), Glenn Quinn (Guitar, Bass, Vocal), Richie Galloni (Vocal), Marco James (Keybords, Vocal)

Artist : Buffalo Summer

Album : Desolation Blue

Release Date : 27-03-2020

Added : 12-05-2020

After 'Second Sun' in 2016 which allowed me to discover the Welsh of ‘Buffalo Summer’, 2020 saw the release of a new album 'Desolation Blue'. So we find this style of the 70s with influences to legendary groups like 'Led Zeppelin' ('The Power & The Greed'), 'Status Quo' ('Hit The Ground Running'), 'Cheap Trick' ('If Walls Could Speak') or 'Deep Purple' ('Untouchable') and we could also mention as a more recent group 'Blackberry Smoke' ('The Mirror', 'Last To Know' or 'The Bitter End') with rock tones mixed with country moods and 'When You Walk Away' and 'Deep Water' tracks that smell good an energetic hard rock (you know, the one you hear before a concert to heat up an entire audience). In a slightly calmer style, we can cite the blues/rock ‘Dark Valentine’, classic but hyper effective or the ballad ‘Pilot Light’ which ends the album quietly.

In summary, this latest ‘Buffalo Summer’ takes us back a few decades back with a varied album and effective compositions that should appeal to all lovers of classic and timeless hard-rock...

Line Up / Musicians

Andrew Hunt (Vocal), Jonny Williams (Guitar), Darren King (Bass), Gareth Hunt (Drums) + Guests : Peter Buck (Guitar), Kelby Ray Caldwell (Guitar Lap Steel), Emma Bryden (Violin), Barrett Martin (Vibraphone, Percussions, Organ)

Artist : From the Dust Returned

Album : A Seven Days Long Wait

Release Date : 27-03-2020

Added : 17-05-2020

'From the Dust Returned' is an Italian progressive metal group which was formed in 2015 on the initiative of guitarist and singer 'Alex De Angelis' with a first EP 'Homecoming' in 2017 and 2020 sees the release of their first studio recording in the form of an LP of 10 tracks for a total of 48 minutes. I quote their page ’Bancamp’ : « ‘A Seven Days Long Wait’, is a concept album about a journey of purification necessary to be reborn to new life. A seven days long wait to be able to embark on that journey in which all senses and all ties to past life will be lost. Forget everything about yourself to get back to the mother’s womb ».

Musically, they mix rock and progressive metal with forays into other styles and this album requires a few listenings to take advantage of every nook and cranny. After the sweet instrumental introduction 'Where It All Begin' with a piano playing some notes, 'Mother's Womb' welcomes us with an acoustic guitar and keyboard sounds close to 'RPWL' and takes us into sought-after progressive rock with different parts even incorporating a jazzy passage towards the end of the title, then, 'A Narrow Passage' hardens the tone for a title that mixes hard-rock from the 70s and modern sounds with a remarkable vocal performance of 'Alex De Angelis'. Follows the eponymous title of the album which begins in a serene atmosphere then which alternates the tempos and the intensities until an explosion on the end of the title and a final with an unleashed rhythmic section , then, after the short instrumental 'The Herald's Choice', 'Tears' brings us back to progressive rock in a disturbing atmosphere with a first part made up of a succession of strong and weak beats and a second much more energetic part to finish on a rather technical instrumental part with a piano in the style of 'Keith Emerson'. The following gives us the slow repetitive tempo of 'Porcelain Cup' with two ramps up on the whole track, then 'White Noise', which after an atmospheric introduction, deploys an elaborate progressive metal, the album ending, everything first, by the 7 minutes of 'The Undertow' which alternates serenity and energy and which is a good summary of the album, and then by the short instrumental 'The End of the Beginning' which echoes the first instrumental.

In summary, the Italians of 'From the Dust Returned' released an album to discover little by little, listening after listening and which, ultimately, turns out to be of high quality thanks to musicians of great talent and 'A Seven Days Long Wait' is intended for an audience who likes a sought-after progressive mixing different styles...

Line Up / Musicians

Alex De Angelis (Vocal, Guitar), Eddie Vagenius (Drums), Alessandro Finocchiaro (Bass), Emanuele Marchione (Guitar, Keybords)

Artist : Igorrr

Album : Spirituality and Distortion

Release Date : 27-03-2020

Added : 25-05-2020

In the French musical landscape, there is a formation which looks like an extraterrestrial, I named the project 'Igorrr' led by 'Gautier Serre' which upsets musical conventions by mixing styles as distant as the bal musette , black metal, baroque music or even oriental music. 2020 sees the release of a new album 'Spirituality and Distortion' and the least we can say is that our French has not lost his inventiveness and his talent as a composer to offer us once again compositions which for the common mortal would appear like hallucinogenic delirium after a good fricassee of fly agarics. For this new baby, he has surrounded himself with a good number of artists whether they are instrumentalists or singers (see list below)

From the first track 'Downgrade Desert', we embark on an oriental atmosphere with the oud of 'Mehdi Haddab', then, after a minute, change of scenery for heavy and powerful metal which alternates with vocalizations which gradually mingle with the power of metal, then, we pass without transition to 'Nervous Waltz' with its baroque introduction which quickly turns into a waltz of death metal and 'Very Noise' is a kind of crazy sound interlude that you have to listen with the video here. With 'Hollow Tree', the harpsichord of 'Benjamin Bardiaux' meets the lyric singing, all of this wrapped in an unbridled rhythm section then, 'Camel Dancefloor' returns to oriental influences with electronic sounds in a catchy rhythm, then, the violence of an electronic death metal is brought by 'Parpaing' with 'George Fisher' to growls before a 'bal musette' 'Musette Maximum' in which the accordion of 'Pierre Mussi' makes an improbable encounter with an unleashed rhythm section. We could almost speak then of a 'conventional' title with 'Himalaya Massive Ritual' which mixes Asian influences, lyricism and heavy metal because the fusion of genres is quite impressive as in 'Lost in Introspection' in which a more classic melody played by a piano, in some jazzy places, meets the lyric singing for a rather surprising new result. We are not at the end of our surprises, because it is still the meeting between an oriental song, electronic sounds and metal that awaits us with 'Overweight Poesy' and 'Paranoid Bulldozer Italiano' continues but this time with a small passage baroque in the middle of an unleashed rhythm section and it's the first time that I pity a drumset (the title alone is already a whole program, we wonder where Gautier is going to get it all !!) then, the introduction of 'Barocco Satani' makes us change galaxies with the use of ropes in a baroque atmosphere which is short-lived because we are quickly caught up by the patrol 'metal' and we alternate the two genres on the whole title (I would see well this title in video in the same genre as the 2CELLOS with the resumption of 'Thunderstruck' from 'AC/DC'). The end of the album gives us a magnificent 'Polyphonic Rust' with the alternation between the power of the electric instruments and the refinement of the singing which is quite striking, then, 'Kung-Fu Chèvre' (another title quite improbable !! ) which alone contains all the ingredients of a Prévert's inventory to make a crazy title between fluttering accordion, goat bleats, traditional a capella song, impetuous violins and hysterical drums.

In summary, what is certain is that the productions of 'Gautier Serre' cannot leave you indifferent : either you love it because you like originality and this total freedom to grind very distant musical styles and you get carried away by this incomparable result, or you either hate it because these big musical differences are not made for your ears (or you are simply not ready); for my part, even if I listen more generally to 'more conventional' music (and it is not at all derogatory), it is pleasant, from time to time, to be shaken by as much originality and it's the case for 'Spirituality and Distortion' which asked me time to tame it but which ultimately turned out to be a high quality album...

Line Up / Musicians

Gautier Serre (Guitar, Keybords), Erlend Caspersen (Bass), Martyn Clément (Guitar), Sylvain Bouvier (Drums), Laure Le Prunenec (Vocal) + Guests : George Fisher (Vocal), Jasmine Barra (Vocal), Laurent Lunoir (Vocal), Diego Delgadillo (Growls), Matt Lebofsky (Piano), Mehdi Haddab (Oud), Mike Leon (Bass), Pierre Lacasa (Vocal), Timba Harris (Violin), Pierre Mussi (Accordion), Fotini-Asineth Kokkala (Kanoun), Benjamin Bardiaux (Clavecin), Antony Miranda (Sitar, Percussions), Alexandre Peronny (Cello), Nils Cheville (Guitar), Benjamin Violet (Violin)

Artist : Arkado

Album : Never Say Never

Release Date : 27-03-2020

Added : 27-06-2020

As I did in late 2019 (see here), for a week, at the rate of 2 per day, I present to you a set of albums released for this first semester 2020 in melodic rock and hard-rock in addition to those already reviewed like for example ’Bonfire’, ’SteelCity’, ’Grand Design’ or still ’Xtasy’. The order of upload corresponds to the chronology of the album releases.

Melodic hard rock albums rock of the first semester 2020

'Arkado' is a Swedish band that was formed a long time ago in 1983 under the name 'BB2' and which ended up in concert in 2018 which made them want to make an album, 'Never Say Never' released in March 2020. They evolves in an AOR style in the great tradition of Scandinavian groups and in the 80s style with an important use of keyboards which are on the same level as electric guitars.

Line Up / Musicians

Mikael Skafar (Drums), Bernt Lundgren (Bass), Mikael Svensson (Keybords), Martin Kirschner (Guitar), Philip Lindstrand (Vocal), Mikey K Nilsson (Guitar)

Artist : Long Earth

Album : Once Around the Sun

Release Date : 23-03-2020

Added : 02-06-2020

It is with 'Once Around the Sun' that I discover the Scottish formation 'Long Earth' composed of talented artists with a first album 'The Source' released in 2017. Their influences are quite vast and varied and go from the 70s to nowadays in a rock style mixing energietic tracks and others quieter all this being judiciously positioned in the album.

Indeed, the first 5 tracks alternate energy and serenity : first of all 'We Own Tomorrow' takes us back to the 70s with an introduction close to 'Genesis', a fairly marked rhythm and a remarkable instrumental finale , then 'My Suit of Armor' is a beautiful stripped piano/voice and melancholic ballad which introduces the electric instruments and the drums in the last part and 'A Guy from Down the Road' is a long title whose first part is based on an energetic rhythm and a fairly linear bass which can remind some hard-rock bands of the 70s and which offers a second part much more progressive and almost entirely instrumental with a much quieter final and finally, 'What About Love' and 'The Man in the Mirror 'are more conventional pop songs with light and relaxing melodies. The rest of the album offers a set of 4 much more peaceful songs, each representing a season : 'Spring' offers us a light atmosphere which represents the happy awakening of spring and which reminds me of the ballads of 'Barclay James Harvest' , then 'Summer' begins in a progressive style and continues in the same atmosphere as the previous title with the singing of 'Martin Haggarty' and subtle keyboards which go very well with the beautiful calm and soothing melody and which ends with an atmospheric instrumental part after a hot summer day. As for the last two seasons, 'Autumn' begins with a melancholic symphonic part then keeps this feeling in the form of a beautiful calm and serene ballad and finally, 'Winter', the longest title of the album is a perfect summary of the whole but not necessarily in phase with the harshness of winter since it transports us with beautiful melodic lines, in a warm song with limpid and harmonious instrumental passages in a beautiful and soothing journey ending in a gentle decrescendo.

In summary, this new album from the Scots of 'Long Earth' shows all the talent of this formation which succeeds in mixing different styles to release an album very pleasant to listen to and 'Once Around the Sun' should please all those and those who like light and serene atmospheres between pop and rock with some more catchy and energetic compositions...

Line Up / Musicians

Martin Haggarty (Vocal), Mike Baxter (Keybords), Gordon Mackie (Bass), Ken Weir (Drums, Percussions, Vocal), Renaldo McKim (Guitar, Vocal)

Artist : Dizzy Mizz Lizzy

Album : Alter Echo

Release Date : 20-03-2020

Added : 16-04-2020

The Danes of 'Dizzy Mizz Lizzy' had been returned in 2016 with a new album 'Forward In Reverse' and its successor 'Alter Echo' was released in late March 2020, 2017 having seen the release of a live 'Livegasm!'. This new opus marks another evolution because, as much as 'Forward In Reverse' marked a return in a hard-rock direction, 'Alter Echo' is much more turned towards a style mixing rock and stoner with relatively slow tempos and heavier tones. but also, they offer us a suite of 5 titles which add a dose of progressive with a nice variety between each part.

Then, the album is made up of two parts, with, first of all, 5 classic titles: the instrumental 'The Ricochet', which rises slowly in fairly monotone tones serves as an introduction to 'In The Blood' which sets the scene for a heavy rock in a slow tempo with a simple melody but which easily fits in your head, then, 'Boy Doom' continues in this direction but with a more speed tempo and influences with sounds of the 70s. With 'The Middle', change of scenery for a magnificent semi-acoustic ballad rolling out a beautiful melody reminiscent of 'Barclay James Harvest', the guitar tones also bringing us back a few decades back with 'Led Zeppelin' and 'California Rain' ends the first part on a heavier note. Regarding the second part, 'Amelia', the 5 compositions are one and each brings something different alternating peaceful and vigorous atmospheres with a melodic theme that is kept throughout the title : 'Nothing They Do They Do Nothing' introduces this long development into serenity, the acoustic guitar beautifully accompanying the melancholic singing of 'Tim Christensen', then 'The Path Of Least Existence' hardens the tone and deploys an energetic hard-rock with a catchy melody and 'Lights Out' returns to a calmer climate in the form of a beautiful semi-acoustic ballad which drives to the powerful 'All Saints Are Sinners' which somehow serves as end for the previous title, and we let ourselves be carried away by this addictive chorus which is repeated several times before handing over to the instrumental 'Alter Echo' which ends this series remarkably, the acoustic guitar and strings ensemble bringing an intense emotion in the finale in which come vaporous voices.

In summary, the Danes of 'Dizzy Mizz Lizzy' offer us an original album showing us that they have more than one string to their bow and 'Alter Echo' contains a lot of different ingredients which intends it, beyond the historical fans, for an audience who likes a varied progressive while remaining easy to access thanks to beautiful simple but effective lines...

Line Up / Musicians

Tim Christensen (Guitar, Vocal), Martin Nielsen (Bass), Søren Friis (Drums)

Artist : Dylem

Album : Eye of the Storm

Release Date : 20-03-2020

Added : 18-04-2020

'Mélody Dylem', the Swiss singer from ‘Elfreya’ (see last album here), launched a new project in 2016 with 'Dylem' (see here) and 2020, pending a full album, sees the release of an EP, 'Eye of the Storm' which actually contains four titles (the instrumental 'Storm' serving as an introduction to 'Eye of the Storm'. Despite the very short duration of 20 minutes (normal for an EP), the 4 tracks are remarkable and accessible and should appeal to fans of symphonic metal. They are split between two energetic tracks with 'Eye of the Storm' and 'Can't Take Anymore' in which she invited the American guitarist 'Jennifer Batten' ('Mickael Jackson' and 'Jeff Becke') and two quieter compositions with first of all 'See You', in which Mélody shows all her talent in subdued atmospheres and finally the magnificent 'Far Beyond', much more typical of metal symphonic and which can make think of certain titles of Imperia '(see their last album here) like 'Spirit Chase' or 'Abyssum'.

In summary, this EP of the 'Swiss' of 'Dylem' presents four remarkable titles to make us wait until the release of a new album which I hope will arrive soon enough, and beyond the fans of the group, 'Eye of the Storm' is to be recommended to a fairly large audience which like symphonic metal...

Line Up / Musicians

Mélody Dylem (Vocal), Valery Veings (Guitar), Donovan (Keybords), Mimmo Pisino (Bass), Olivier Quinche (Drums) + Guests : Jennifer Batten (Guitar), Alain Hornung (Drums), Nicolas Concu (Bass), Matthieu Grillet (Guitar)

Artist : Beneath My Sins

Album : I Decide

Release Date : 20-03-2020

Added : 20-04-2020

I discovered the French of ‘Beneath My Sins’ in 2017 with the album ’Valkyries Of Modern Times’ and 2020 sees the release of a new album ‘I Decide’. Now, they have signed with the label 'Pride And Joy Music' which produces a lot of symphonic metal groups which will allow them to make themselves known and moreover, they invited artists from the symphonic metal scene with first of all, the bassist 'Fabio d'Amore' from 'Serenity' who also took care of the production of the album, the Swiss 'Melissa Bonny' (singer of 'Ad Infinitum' who have also just released a new album here), 'Niklas Müller' (drummer from 'Ad Infinitum'), 'Matteo Sisti' ( 'Eluveitie'), 'Michele Guaitoli' ('Temperance' and 'Visions Of Atlantis' ), 'Florent Charlet' ( '6:33'), 'Fabio Lethien Polo' ('Shadygrove' and 'Elvenking') and the Austrian guitarist 'Alrun Lunger' ('Dawn of Dreams').

The orchestral instrumental 'Crossroad' serves as an introduction to 'I Decide' which is one of the first single and which starts the album on an epic note with choirs and a marked rhythm, then, 'Try' we offers a beautiful contrasting duo between the growls of 'Melissa Bonny' and the aerial voice of 'Emma Elvaston', and 'Your Muse' is a more classic composition of symphonic metal alternating different tempos. With 'My Guardian Angel', we are carried away with a catchy rhythm in a folk atmosphere and a remarkable vocal performance by 'Emma Elvaston', and 'What You Feel' comes back to symphonic metal with a beautiful duet between 'Emma Elvaston' and 'Michele Guaitoli' which is reminiscent of the one the Italian provided with 'Clémentine Delaunay' in 'Visions Of Atlantis'. The rest of the album scrolls through an energetic and melodic 'Temptation', 'Despicable' and 'Kick Me Out', more symphonic and alternating powerful passages and others quieter, then, 'Unpredictible', with 'Maeo Sisti' and 'Fabio Lethien Polo' who bring a folk side with their instruments, 'Here With You' ending the album on a melodic note in a more classical symphonic style...

In summary, the French of 'Beneath My Sins' are releasing a quality album which should appeal to all fans of symphonic metal and may also allow others to discover this style because all the compositions have melodic lines that are immediately tamed...

Line Up / Musicians

Emma Elvaston (Vocal), Clément Botz (Guitar, Clarinette), Fabio D’amore (Bass), Leonardo Drago (Drums) + Guests : Melissa Bonny (Vocal), Niklas Müller (Vocal), Michele Guaitoli (Vocal), Florent Charlet (Vocal), Fabio Lethien Polo (Violin), Alrun Lunger (Guitar), Matteo Sisti (Flute)

Artist : Myrkur

Album : Folkesange

Release Date : 20-03-2020

Added : 21-04-2020

'Myrkur' is the project of the singer and multi-instrumentalist 'Amalie Bruun' who is known in the world of black metal but who has always been attracted by the folk of the Scandinavian countries, her two previous albums, although metal oriented, already containing influences from its roots. 'Folksange' presents another facet of this Danish artist and contains 12 tracks in the purest folk tradition with the use of traditional instruments and it suffices to compare the album cover with that of 'Maredidt', far apart from each other, but which each represents each the content well.

From the start, with 'Ella' (video above) we embark on a contemplative journey into a world of dreams and serenity and 'Fager som en Ros', which follows, is a catchy traditional Swedish song, then, 'Leaves of Yggdrasil' continues in this airy universe of sweetness just like 'Ramund' with its slightly more marked rhythm. Each title deserves to be cited because they all contain something magical and the whole is sublimated by the magnificent vocal performance of 'Amalie Bruun' which perpetuate the impression of fullness throughout the album.

In short, in these troubled times, 'Myrkur' offers us a real invitation to travel, and this without moving from home and in the most beautiful way that it is, in a world made of sweetness and serenity and 'Folksange', beyond fans of traditional music, should appeal to a relatively large audience because all the titles are very accessible...

Line Up / Musicians

Amalie Bruun (Vocal, Piano, Nyckelharpa, Lyra, Violin, Guitar, Tambourin)

Artist : SteelCity

Album : Mach II

Release Date : 20-03-2020

Added : 28-04-2020

This last opus scrolls through 11 tracks in the greatest melodic hard-rock tradition of the 80s and this from the first track 'Hearts on Fire' with a remarkable first vocal performance by the new singer 'Roy Cathey' and choirs close to 'Def Leppard', then the energetic and catchy titles follow each other like 'Dead Men' and its refrain which remains engraved in your head or 'Wasted Time' on which we cannot help beating time or even 'Give It Back' and its catchy rhythm. But the Americans also know how to vary the atmospheres with first of all 'Down to One', more AOR, introduced by the short instrumental on the piano 'Prayer for Love' and which recalls formations like 'Foreigner' (see their last live here) and then the mid-tempo 'Still Close to My Heart' with its heady melody.

In summary, 'SteelCity' is added to the already long list of melodic hard-rock bands and, even if they do not revolutionize the genre, release a quality album with effective compositions to be enjoyed without moderation...

Line Up / Musicians

Mike Floros (Guitar), Roy Cathey (Vocal), Jason Cornwell (Bass), BJ Zampa (Drums), Tony Stahl (Keybords)

Artist : Ani Lo Projekt

Album : A Time Called Forever

Release Date : 20-03-2020

Added : 16-05-2020

The Bulgarian singer 'Ani Lozanova' and the drummer 'Konstantin Dinev' started their musical adventure in 2002 with the 'Ani Lozanova Band' and, after the release of two albums in Bulgarian (the last of the singer's name dating from 2009 - see here), the two artists decided that it was time to turn to the international and it is the meeting with the metal singer 'Ian Parry' (see his last album with 'Crystal Tears' here) which allowed this radical change with the key a first album 'Miracle' in 2011 under the name of 'Ani Lo Projekt' in a style mixing hard-rock and symphonic metal. And it was only almost 8 years later that 'A Time Called Forever' was born with the participation of the multi-instrumentalist 'Jens Faber' ( 'Dawn of Destiny' ) who composed all the tracks on the album.

With this opus, we stay in the world of metal, mixing power, symphonic and melodic influences but, it is clear that the compositions were cut for the Bulgarian singer who stands out, unlike the vast majority of singers of this style, with a wide register ranging from a powerful bass to treble always well mastered and which gives this formation its own identity. The majority of the compositions have very accessible melodic lines and this from the first titles' Break My Chains' and 'A Time Called Forever', powerful and energetic in which 'Ani Lozanova' shows from the first notes her remarkable vocal talent, then 'Bleed' offers us an epic and melodic composition with a refrain that immediately sticks in the head and 'End up in Sorrow' is a mid-tempo which shows another facet of the singer with a rhythm close to certain compositions of 'Therion'. The following alternates different styles which makes this opus rich and varied : first of all, energy and power are there with titles like 'The Letter', 'My Misery' or 'Don't Leave' and their sustained rhythms and when the cadence wants to be more peaceful while keeping a certain intensity, titles like 'Cold Death' or 'Feel Inside' show another face with beautiful alternations between powerful parts and others quieter. But there is a register in which this formation also excels, it is the quieter compositions with the magnificent ballads 'Back to You' and 'Fly With Me' in which the duo 'Ani Lozanova'/'Michael Thionville' works wonderfully , and it is with the ballad 'Walk Alone' to be added in the best power ballads that the album ends on a note of emotion.

In summary, 'Ani Lo Projekt' returns to the forefront of the metal scene with a dense album filled with quality compositions that should appeal to a large enough audience of metal loving the symphonic, power or melodic atmospheres of this style, hoping that 'Ani Lozanova' and 'Konstantin Dinev' won't not make us wait too long for the next album and will continue, why not, to work with 'Jens Faber' who really did a remarkable job on this album...

Line Up / Musicians

Ani Lozanova (Vocal), Konstantin Dinev (Drums), Jens Faber (Guitar, Bass, Keybords, Vocal) + Guests : Eric Dow (Vocal), Michael Thionville (Vocal), Lachezar Stefanov (Vocal)

Artist : Into the Open

Album : Destination Eternity

Release Date : 20-03-2020

Added : 31-05-2020

'Into the Open' is a new project created by the duo 'Jan Willem Ketelaers' and 'Sander Heerings' who are progressive artists, Jan evolving with 'Knigh Area' and having participated in several projects ('Ayreon' and 'Magoria') and Sander with 'Wane of Summer' and 'The Dust Connection'. ‘Destination Eternity’ is a concept album I quote their site, « about the journey of a soul to its final destination. Like the painting of the cover “The Source” perfectly symbolizes the disaster at sea and the beautiful song written about it, it also symbolizes live and death and becoming a better soul along that journey ». Indeed, the painting of the cover has been done by ‘Vivi Hoffmanns’ who were inspired by the song 'Estonia' from 'Marillion' featured in their last album ’With Friends from the Orchestra’.

11 tracks for almost an hour of listening, it is the menu of 'Destination Eternity' which takes us on a progressive alternating energy and serenity which makes it a varied opus which is tamed quite easily, the melodic lines being accessible. The short instrumental 'Origins' starts the album in a 'Floydian' way in an atmospheric atmosphere, then 'Birth' is a rhythmic title with a catchy bass and a simple but effective melody and, in the same style, we can also quote 'Back to the Day', 'Eternity' and 'When the Crowd Is Gone'. Alternating with these energetic tracks, 'Destination Eternity' also offers us quieter tracks with the mid-tempo 'Once', quite powerful but with a certain melancholy, the short instrumental 'Nostalgia' which is aptly named, the magnificent ballad 'Purpose' with its melody which settles in your head without leaving it and 'Half Song' which ends the album on a stripped note with a piano/voice duo filled with a palpable emotion. But my two favorites are without context, first of all the longest title of the album 'Judgment Day' which takes us on a masterful progressive title, with a wonderful vocal performance of 'Jan Willem Ketelaers', instrumental sections varied embellished with beautiful keyboards and guitar solos and a magnificent final, more stripped down with remarkable vocalizations, and then, the melodic 'Ride the Wind' with a vocal duo which gives you goosebumps with 'Maria Catharina' which I discover in this title and who participated in the project 'Magoria' and who is the singer of 'Roby Valentine' but who also has videos of covers of 'Edenbridge' on 'You Tube' and we can also note the very beautiful instrumental part with a guitar solo by 'Marcel Coenen' who often takes part in projects 'Ayreon' by Arjen Lucassen '.

In summary, this new project 'Into the Open' is a real success with varied compositions in perfect balance between energy and serenity and 'Destination Eternity' is to be advised to an audience navigating between classic and progressive rock with accessible melodic lines...

Line Up / Musicians

Jan Willem Ketelaers (Vocal), Sander Heerings (Keybords), Robert Spaninks (Drums), Martijn Balsters (Guitar), Frank Strokap (Bass), Ronald Martens (Guitar) + Guests : Maria Catharina (Vocal), Marcel Coenen (Guitar), Kim de Beer (Violin)

Artist : Xiphea

Album : The Cave Of The Golden Rose

Release Date : 19-03-2020

Added : 05-05-2020

After 'Once Upon a Time' in 2016 and 'Everland' in 2018, the Germans from 'Xiphea' released an EP which continues in the register of fairy tales, since 'The Cave Of The Golden Rose' is a series of 5 TV movies released in Italy and adapted from the children's story 'Fanta-Ghirò'. So we find in this short opus the symphonic and melodic metal that we knew on previous albums with obvious influences from major bands of the genre.

The album is made up of 5 titles which forms only one by starting, as in all the tales by a : 'Once upon a time ...' which is a recitative which sets the stage of the history which consists of 4 parts : 'The Prophecy' begins with a long title of more than 10 minutes in a symphonic and epic atmosphere with a first instrumental part and, after 2 minutes, starts an energetic and catchy part in a fairly classic symphonic metal with a quieter cut in the middle of the title, the end of the title gaining momentum with some growls of 'Neil Meusel', finely dosed, in opposition to the beautiful clear voice of 'Sabine Meusel'. With part 2, 'A Truth Awakens', we continue in this metalico-symphonic mood modulating the intensities with melodic lines accessible at first listen and which are easily encrusted in our head, the final in decrescendo preparing the following title, 'Show Me Your Fear' which begins in serenity and which takes intensity and alternates calm parts and others much more muscular and it is with the melodic 'The Little Magic' with a heady refrain and a magnificent final with beautiful choirs that the album ends.

In summary, this short album of 'Xiphea' confirms the talent of the Germans and continue in the same way that they had started to trace in their previous albums, what means that 'The Cave Of The Golden Rose' should appeal to all lovers of an accessible and melodic symphonic metal...

Line Up / Musicians

Sabine Meusel (Vocal), Neil Meusel (Guitar, Vocal), Frank Curian (Bass), Michael Wolnitza (Guitar), Daniel Herzer (Drums)

Artist : The Unity

Album : Pride

Release Date : 17-03-2020

Added : 27-06-2020

As I did in late 2019 (see here), for a week, at the rate of 2 per day, I present to you a set of albums released for this first semester 2020 in melodic rock and hard-rock in addition to those already reviewed like for example ’Bonfire’, ’SteelCity’, ’Grand Design’ or still ’Xtasy’. The order of upload corresponds to the chronology of the album releases.

Melodic hard rock albums rock of the first semester 2020

'The Unity' is a German melodic hard-rock band which released its 3rd album 'Pride' after 'The Unity' in 2017 and 'Rise' in 2018. Overall, they offer us powerful and energetic compositions with a talent for accessible melodic lines.

Line Up / Musicians

Gianbattista Manenti (Vocal), Henjo Richter (Guitar), Stefan Ellerhorst (Guitar), Sascha Onnen (Keybords), Jogi Sweers (Bass), Michael Ehré (Drums)

Artist : Gotthard

Album : #13

Release Date : 13-03-2020

Added : 11-04-2020

After their live acoustic 'Defrosted 2' released in 2017 and around the same time as their compatriots 'Shakra' (see here) , the Swiss of 'Gotthard' released a new album soberly baptized '# 13' and it is still an opus filled with terribly effective and relatively varied compositions, mixing classic and powerful hard-rock with much less heavy tracks.
It starts strong with an energetic 'Bad News' (which has nothing to do with that of 'Moon Martin') in which our feet accompany the guitar riffs all by themselves, then, 'Every Time I Die' is in the same vein, and as for the catchy 'Missteria' (see video above), it was written in collaboration with 'Francis Rossi' of 'Status Quo' (see their last album here), the Englishman of 'Quo' having already co-written with 'Gotthard', 'Bye Bye Caroline' and with '10000 Faces', we are on board a rhythmic title with again an irresistible desire to beat the tempo and in this style, we can also mention the effective boogie / rock 'Save the Date' or 'No Time to Cry' with its catchy guitar riffs and its heady melody. The Swiss also know how to vary the atmosphere with, on the one hand, rock tracks like 'Another Last Time' or the superb blues/rock 'Man on a Mission' or a more classic 'NoTime To Cry' which takes us back to the 70s or the catchy 'Better Than Love' close to the sounds of 'Un autre monde' of the French band 'Telephone' or the rather surprising 'SOS' cover of ABBA of in a slow tempo and, on the other hand, always remarkable ballads like 'Marry You' or 'I Can Say I'm Sorry', with a nice acoustic recovery of this last title of the album.

In summary, the Swiss of ‘Gotthard’ are releasing a varied album for all tastes and this release 13 should undoubtedly please fans but also lovers of classic and effective hard-rock...

Line Up / Musicians

Nic Maeder (Vocal), Leo Leoni (Guitar), Freddy Scherer (Guitar), Marc Lynn (Bass), Alex Motta (Drums)

Artist : Fourth Circle

Album : Worlds

Release Date : 13-03-2020

Added : 15-05-2020

'Fourth Circle' is a French symphonic metal band that I discovered with their latest album 'Worlds' released in April 2020 but which already has almost 10 years of existence with two studio recordings 'Lifetimes' in 2013 and 'Elements' in 2016. With the same line up as for the previous opus, they offer us a symphonic metal in line with the major formations of the genre with names of 'Delain' and 'Within Temptation' that came to my mind because the singer 'Audrey Adornato' has intonations from 'Charlotte Wessels' or 'Sharon den Adel' from time to time.

With 14 compositions for more than an hour of listening, they have added to this opus a 21-minute audio book, judiciously declined in English and French which will certainly delight fans and which tells us about story of the spiritual search of a female character in an indefinite time and space that she discovers throughout history. Each composition is therefore in line with a chapter of the story, providing details in the narration. Musically, the whole is relatively epic and from the instrumental introduction 'Prologue', keyboards with large reinforcements of sampled orchestra instruments are omnipresent and the first titles 'Awake and Lost' and 'Worlds' offer us lines easy to access melodies. The rest is like this beginning, and, even if certain compositions remain in the same schemas (for example the refrain of 'Survive' resembles that of 'Worlds'), the whole is pleasant to listen with for example the energetic 'The Truth' or the powerful and melodic mid-tempo 'Nothing' and quieter breaks like 'Feeling' or the beautiful piano/voice ballad 'Who Am I?' allow to vary the moods and the two tracks that make only one 'Rising Tension' and 'Battle and Forgiveness' end the album on an epic and powerful note with remarkable instrumental arrangements.

In summary, the French of 'Fourth Circle' release an album full of good surprises and 'Worlds' is tailor-made for all fans of symphonic metal who appreciate formations like 'Delain', 'Within Temptation', 'Sirenia' or 'Xandria'...

Line Up / Musicians

Audrey Adornato (Vocal), Julien Blanchet (Drums), Maxime Boriolo (Guitar), Olivier Keller (Keybords), Cédric Noël (Bass)

Artist : Wishing Well

Album : Do or Die

Release Date : 13-03-2020

Added : 26-06-2020

As I did in late 2019 (see here), for a week, at the rate of 2 per day, I present to you a set of albums released for this first semester 2020 in melodic rock and hard-rock in addition to those already reviewed like for example ’Bonfire’, ’SteelCity’, ’Grand Design’ or still ’Xtasy’. The order of upload corresponds to the chronology of the album releases.

Melodic hard rock albums rock of the first semester 2020

Melodic hard rock albums rock of the first semester 2020

‘Wishing Well ’is a Finnish melodic hard rock band that has already released 2 albums, ’Chasing Rainbows’ in 2016 and ’Rat Race’. 2020 sees the release of their first album ‘Do or Die’.

Line Up / Musicians

Rafael Castillo (Vocal), Anssi Korkiakoski (Guitar), Juha Kivikanto (Drums), Arto Teppo (Keybords), Rick Becker (Bass)

Artist : Anubis

Album : Homeless

Release Date : 10-03-2020

Added : 14-04-2020

Direction Australia with the latest album 'Homeless' by Anubis' which after 'The Second Hand' in 2017, is their 6th studio recording, 2019 having seen the release of a very nice live show (see here). For this last opus, the style is still there with a rock mixing progressive and neo-progressive with obvious influences of 'Floyds' but, whereas they had accustomed us to long developments ('The Second Hand' containing 4 tracks of more than 7 minutes including 'Page of Stone' of almost 17 minutes), the compositions are this time much shorter, 'Reflective' being the only title exceeding 7 minutes which makes 'Homeless' their shortest album. The theme of ‘Homeless’ revolves around the fairly recurrent theme of modern man who is enclosed in a world full of technology and in which inequalities are becoming more and more important.

It is besides 'Reflective' which begins the album in this characteristic calm and airy style conducive to escape, then, with 'Entitled', the first impression is that the Australians evolve towards neo progressive and this title reminds me of the Germans of 'RPWL' (see their latest album here) who, after a bit the same journey, have forged their own style and 'White Ashes' continue in this way with always this vocal and instrumental quality which is the strength of 'Anubis' with in addition this capacity to offer us beautiful delicate and harmonious melodies which make us climb on a small cloud, the singing of 'Robert James Molding' being no stranger to this. The album continues in this subtle and airy atmosphere with a melancholic 'Home', 'Homeless' which is more removed with multiple tempo changes, 'The Tables Have Turned' which is built around a melody which remains anchored in your tête and the single 'Sirens' which was the subject of a video (see above). And it is in the softness and the serenity, with first of all 'In Shadows' and then 'Gone', in the same spirit but much more symphonic with the addition of strings, that the album ends beautifully.

In summary, although the titles are shorter than usual, ‘Anubis’ offers us a beautiful album while continuing to distill a peaceful neo-progressive rock which is enjoyed quietly after a hard day...

Line Up / Musicians

Robert James Moulding (Vocal, Guitar), David Eaton (Keybords), Steven Eaton (Drums), Douglas Skene (Guitar), Dean Bennison (Guitar), Anthony Stewart (Bass)

Artist : Forceland

Album : Driven Pace

Release Date : 09-03-2020

Added : 25-04-2020

We are not used to leaving Chile for progressive rock releases but 'Forceland' is a Chilean group created in 2018 by guitarist 'Richard Pilnik' and keyboard player 'Claudio Momberg' and who released their first studio recording 'Driver Pace'. 'Claudio Momberg' is not unknown because he worked with the crème de la crème of international progressive rock and released with his project 'Seti' 3 albums including the last 'Bold Travels' 2016.

12 tracks for almost an hour of listening, it's the menu of 'Driver Pace' which takes us on a multitude of progressive and neo-progressive influences and we feel that these artists have been bathed in this style for decades : the album begins with 'Survival Race' which is one of the most energetic titles and which brings us back between rock and hard-rock to a sort of patchwork of progressive from the 70s, then 'A Tender Species ', introduced by a piano/voice duo, is much calmer and well reflects the style of this formation with a melody that is easily embedded in your head. Despite the fairly short titles, each composition is relatively dense, alternating beautifully the parts sung by 'Alex Valper' which has a fairly high tessitura and instrumental sections always very inventive and sought after with remarkable keyboard solos from 'Claudio Momberg' and guitar solos from 'Richard Pilnik'. Not to make a title by title, I will quote 'Losing Faith' and its simple but very effective melody, 'Inner Enemy' which can recall certain sounds of 'Genesis', 'The Deceiver' and its influences mixing several decades of progressive or yet the last title 'The Path to Uncertainty', more melancholic and which makes think of the atmospheres of 'Marillion'.

In summary, for a first album, the Chileans of 'Forceland' are already showing a good maturity and 'Driven Pace' is full of nice surprises, which makes it suitable for all those who like a melodic progressive rock containing beautiful instrumental sections and which also does not require multiple listenings because all the compositions are very accessible...

Line Up / Musicians

Richard Pilnik (Guitar), Claudio Momberg (Keybords), Alex Valper (Vocal), Patricio Agurto (Drums), Jaime Ahumada (Bass)

Artist : Grand Design

Album : V

Release Date : 06-03-2020

Added : 02-04-2020

After 'Viva La Paradise' in 2018, The Swedes of 'Grand Design' return with a new album, soberly called 'V' and, as you would expect, they continue to distill us from good melodic hard-rock in the eighties close to 'Def Leppard', 'Pelle Saether' having the particular timbre reminiscent of 'Joe Elliott'.

11 tracks for 46 minutes of listening time, this is the menu of this fifth opus which begins with an energetic 'Right Away' (video above) in an atmosphere always euphoric like their elders, then, 'I Won't Cry Over U Tonite' continues on this dynamic and we could quote all the titles which are linked without any dead time and which offer us all hits in power which could all be the subject of single. To not mention them all, I will give you my favorites that are 'What Are U Waiting For' for its unstoppable melody, 'Gimme The Fire' for its heady refrain or even 'I Dunno Wut to Say' and even if there are no real ballads in this album, we console ourselves with the melodic 'Strandead (Trapped in a Heartbreak Zone)', the mid-tempo 'Walkin' the Wire' and the pop oriented 'Take Me to Yer Heaven' who are a little less energetic while keeping this incomparable melodic force.

In summary, it is still a total success for the Swedes of 'Grand Design' who continue to offer us unstoppable melodies which immediately hits their target and 'V' will undoubtedly be welcomed by all fans and all those who love a melodic and energetic hard-rock...

Line Up / Musicians

Pelle Saether (Vocal), Dennis Vestman (Guitar, Chœurs), Dan Svanbom (Guitar, Chœurs), Stefan Westerlund (Bass), Joakim Jonsson (Drums)

Artist : Harem Scarem

Album : Change the World

Release Date : 06-03-2020

Added : 04-04-2020

At the same time as the Swedes of 'Grand Design' (see here), and after 'United' in 2017, the Canadians of 'Harem Scarem' are back with a new album 'Change the World'. And it is true that if we remove all the Scandinavian hard-rock melodic bands, there is not much left in this style and 'Harem Scarem' is one of the exceptions that confirm the rule (there are others like the very good project 'Waiting From Monday' or 'Decarlo' or 'Revolution Saints' to name only albums reviewed since the start of the year), since Canadians have been releasing albums for 30 years now and this last album is already the 15th.

From the outset, there are 4 energetic and catchy compositions available to us with melodies that we immediately tame and that remain etched in our heads and brilliant guitar solos. After this energetic start, 'Mother of Invention' is the first break in the form of a beautiful ballad with a memorable chorus, then, 'No Man's Land' is a mid-tempo always as melodic and quieter, then 'In the Unknown', even if we have the impression of already heard, gives us an irresistible desire to take up the refrain. The rest of the album is on the same level with an over-vitaminized 'Riot in My Head', the 2nd ballad 'No Me Without You' that many melodic rock bands would envy, the catchy 'Fire & Gasoline' and the album ends with 'Swallowed By The Machine' which could very well have been the subject of a single.

In short, melodic hard-rock is doing well and the Canadians of 'Harem Scarem' prove it again with this magnificent 'Change the World' and taking into account the quality of the albums already released since the beginning of the year 2020 in this style, I wouldn't want to be the one to decide which will be album of the year...

Line Up / Musicians

Harry Hess (Vocal, Keybords), Pete Lesperance (Guitar), Mike Vassos (Bass), Creighton Doane (Drums), Darren Smith (Choirs)

Artist : Jonathan Wilson

Album : Dixie Blur

Release Date : 06-03-2020

Added : 05-04-2020

After 'Rare Birds' in 2018 which was a journey into pop tinged with progressive, 'Jonathan Wilson' returns with a new album, 'Dixie Blur', and this complete artist this time offers us compositions mixing his southern and country influences, and given the orientation of the album without any link with the previous one, the two country tracks he had released in 2019, 'So Alive' and 'Skinny Legs', were a glimpse of the atmosphere of the album but do not appear on 'Dixie Blur'.

And yet, he opens the album on three ballads, first of all 'Just For Love' which is a cover of the American psychedelic rock group 'Quicksilver Messenger Service' taken from the album 'Just For Love' released in 1970, then '69 Corvette' which do not really have a country style but, it is from 'New Home' which is also a ballad that the sounds integrate small gradually its country roots. The following scrolls through compositions typical of this American style such as the catchy ‘So Alive’ in which the violin mixes with the guitar, ‘In Heaven Making Love’ or ‘El Camino Real’. But it is in the quieter titles that 'Jonathan Wilson' takes us up the emotional cursor with remarkable titles like 'Oh Girl' and his remarkable psychedelic foray, 'Pirate' with his beautiful crescendo in the middle of the title, 'Enemies' close to the melodic lines of the Boss (see his latest album here), 'Fun for the Masses' which recalls the moods of 'Eagles' or even 'Riding The Blinds' with its acceleration in middle of the title to finish on the slow starting tempo, without forgetting 'Golden Apples' and 'Korean Tea', very classic but so effective.

In summary, this multi-faceted artist had delighted me with 'Rare Birds' and in another style, he offers us beautiful compositions to quietly taste, headphones on the ears, because 'Dixie Blur' brings up to date the great tradition of the American song for our greatest pleasure...

Line Up / Musicians

Jonathan Wilson (Vocal, Guitar, Keybords, Drums, Percussions, Mellotron, Vibraphone), Pat Sansone (Guitar, Bass, Mellotron, Choirs, Vibraphone) + Guests : Kenny Vaughan (Guitar), Mark O'Connor (Guitar, Violin), Russ Pahl (Guitar, Pedal Steel), Leslie Stevens (Choirs), Dennis Crouch (Bass, Cantabass), Jon Radford (Drums, Percussions), Jim Hoke (Saxophone, Harmonica, Flute, Clarinette), Joe Pisapia (Pedal Steel), Drew Erickson (Piano, Hammond)

Artist : Medea

Album : A Fate Symphony

Release Date : 06-03-2020

Added : 06-04-2020

After the 'Nothern Light' in 2017, 'Henry Meeuws' continues on its way with a new rock opera 'A Fate Symphony' which tells the story of 'Lucas' who wants to be treat of his epilepsy and who hangs contact with doctor 'Koháry', a mysterious Hungarian neuroscientist who claims to be able to cure him and make his life normal, but the doctor who is a Protestant has many other intentions, those to eradicate Catholicism. And for this opera, 'Henry Meeuws' did not skimp on the vocal section since it is 9 singers and the group 'Les Vocalettes' who lend their voices to this rock opera (see presentation on the site of 'Medea' here).

Musically speaking, we are always in a progressive style between rock and metal and the parallel with the productions of 'Arjen Lucassen', including 'Ayreon', is obvious (review to come from' Electric Castle Live And Other Tales' and last live 'Ayreon Universe'). 10 tracks for 1 hour of listening, needless to say that this kind of album requires a few repeated listenings and that it is essential to take it as a whole. We navigate between energetic and serene atmospheres and 'Seizures' which starts the album, is not necessarily the most accessible with many changes of tempo and intensity and a beautiful very theatrical performance of 'Bart Schwertmann' then, 'Traces of a Fate Symphony', first of all, unrolls a peaceful melody in the first part then increases in power with a much more progressive second part. 'To Change History' comes back to energetic progressive and 'Regression', much more symphonic, offers us first a melodious song part, then, a beautiful instrumental section with a magnificent guitar solo and, with 'Chest Without Books', progressive instrumental sections are more sought after and alternates beautifully with the parts sung in a lighter atmosphere. 'Hungarian Dance' is nothing more than a cover of Hungarian dance N ° 5 of 'Johannes Brahms' in an extravagant interpretation in which the electric guitar joins otht instruments and 'Blood Countess' is an energetic title with vocal performances remarkable which can make think of certain compositions of 'Ayreon', then, one also finds the influences of Arjen Lucassen in 'Nova Zembla (Third Time's A Charm)' which is for me the major title of the album on the melodic and progressive plans and with significant research in terms of vocal and instrumental arrangements. The energetic 'Orange's Brides' then, offers us a remarkable performance by the vocal group 'The Vocalettes' and it is with the long development 'Murderer Or Martyr', containing all the ingredients for a sought-after and inventive progressive that the opera finishes imposingly.

In summary, this rock opera by 'Henry Meeuws' is a total success which it is necessary to tame listen after listen and, even if the atmosphere is not as grand as the projects of 'Arjen Lucassen', 'A Fate Symphony' is recommended for all those who love the great productions of Ayreon'...

Line Up / Musicians

Henry Meeuws (Guitar, Keybords, Piano) + Guests : Bart Schwertmann (Vocal), John Jaycee Cuijpers (Vocal), Noor van de Voort (Vocal), Bas Dolmans (Vocal), Robbie van Stiphout (Vocal), Sandra Peeters (Vocal), Ernst Le Cocq d'Armandville (Vocal), Joss Mennen (Vocal), Jo de Boeck (Vocal), Josien Obers (Vocal), Babz Verhoeven (Vocal), Inge van Asseldonk (Vocal), Marloes Kooter (Vocal), Igor Koopmans (Drums), Iris Gilsing (Clarinette), Frank de Groot (Bass)

Artist : Khymera

Album : Master of Illusions

Release Date : 06-03-2020

Added : 07-04-2020

After 'The Grand Design' in 2015, the group 'Khymera', led by the American bassist and singer 'Dennis Ward', member of 'Pink Cream 69' and many other bands, released their 5th album 'Master of Illusions'. No surprise, it is in the direct line of the previous opus and this last baby sees the succession of hits of melodic hard-rock starting with 'Walk Away' which sets the tone with a title which transmits a good energy and with a first guitar solo that feels good, just like 'The First Time' which follows in the same style, then 'Master of Illusions' gives us a memorable chorus and the suite scrolls through titles as melodic as each other. When the rhythm calms down, the quality is always there with the mid-tempo 'Paradise' or the ballad 'Father to Son' and its theme filled with emotion or even 'After all this Time' or 'Just Let It Happen' in a more AOR style.

In short, if you liked the melodic hard-rock outings at the start of the year with 'Grand Design', 'Harem Scarem', 'HEAT', 'Waiting From Monday', 'Autumn's Child', 'Decarlo' or 'Revolution Saints', you should no doubt be won over by this latest album from 'Khymera'...

Line Up / Musicians

Dennis Ward (Vocal, Bass), Eric Ragno (Keybords), Michael Klein (Guitar), Pete Newdeck (Drums)

Artist : Xtasy

Album : Eye of the Storm

Release Date : 06-03-2020

Added : 09-04-2020

Decidedly, 2020 is a prolific year in melodic hard-rock with this time another new album from the Spanish group 'Xtasy' which I discover with their 3rd album 'Eye of the Storm' and which formed in 2011 with the meeting of the singer 'Silvia Idoate' and the guitarist 'Jorge Olloqui'. For this new opus, they called on 'Erik Martensson' who officiates in a lot of melodic hard-rock bands and whom they had crossed during the tours with 'Eclipse' and 'Ammunition' and the Swede co-wroted and also did the mixing and mastering.

And the result is there : catchy and melodic compositions throughout the album with, thing is not custom in this genre, a singer with remarkable vocal talent who has a voice that lends itself well to energetic compositions of the group by starting with an effective 'Die Young', then the catchy 'Play With Fire' takes over with a magnificent refrain, followed by 'Eye of the Storm' which continues with a heady melody. The rest is just like this beginning and I will quote 'Perfect Strangers' with a chorus that goes directly into your head or even the entraining 'Nowhere to Run' and the only criticism that we could make to them, is not to have included quieter titles to vary the moods but we can still quote 'Welcome to My World', 'Crashing Down' and 'Silent Heroes' which are closer to mid-tempo.

In summary, this new album by the Spanishs of 'Xtasy' makes you want to dive into the previous ones because the 11 compositions are all excellent and could all be the subject of single and it is still an album to recommend to an audience that likes melodic rock, catchy and accessible at first listening...

Line Up / Musicians

Silvia Idoate (Vocal), Jorge Olloqui (Guitar), Chema Herrero (Guitar), David Clavero (Bass), Gari Irazu (Drums)

Artist : Sari Schorr

Album : Live in Europe

Release Date : 06-03-2020

Added : 13-04-2020

It is with this live in Europe that I discover the American blues / rock singer 'Sari Shorr' who has already recorded 2 albums, 'A Force of Nature' in 2016 with the group 'Engine Room' led by the guitarist of 'Robert Plant', 'Innes Sibun' and 'Never Say Never' in 2018 and who was originally a chorister of 'Popa Chubby' (see his last live here ) and 'Joe Louis Walker' (see his last live here). While listening to this concert, I took a big slap and I placed her directly in the list of the best blues/rock singers with in mind 'Beth Hart' (see her last album here< / a>) or 'Layla Zoe' (see her last live here) or even 'Joanne Shaw Taylor' (last album here), the American showing like all these singers that it’s on stage that they take on their full dimension.

From the start, with 'The New Revolution', we embark on an energetic and direct blues/rock and a first vocal performance which already gives us goosebumps, then with the mid-tempo 'Demolition Man', it is yet another demonstration of this powerful, expressive voice that makes you capsize, with, as I had already said with the last live of 'Layla Zoe', this sense of sharing to highlight her musicians who, in this title, offer us, first with 'Steve Watts' on keyboards, then 'Ash Wilson', on guitar, two remarkable solos. The following continues with compositions from her 2 albums and each title deserves to be mentioned but I will also tell you about her other facet, because she's able to adapt by passing a real emotion in quieter titles like 'Turn the Radio On' or the latest title 'Ready for Love' which wonderfully ends this live.

In summary, this live of 'Sari Schorr' shows a complete and whole artist like the great blues/rock singers mentioned above and, for all those who love this style of music, 'Live in Europe' can only make you want to go see her in concert and taking into account the concert postponements due to the coronavirus, for those who would not yet had their place for the concerts of March 2020 in France, they are all postponed at the end of year (see here)...

Line Up / Musicians

Sari Schorr (Vocal), Mat Beable (Bass, Choirs), Roy Martin (Drums), Martin "Magic" Johnson (Guitar), Steve Wright (Guitar), Ash Wilson (Guitar, Choirs), Steve Watts (Keybords), Bob Fridzema (Keybords, Choirs)

Artist : Allen/Olzon

Album : Worlds Apart

Release Date : 06-03-2020

Added : 23-04-2020

The 'Frontiers' label is quite customary due to the fact that it offers associations of artists from the metal scene because after 'Russell Allen' and 'Jorne Lande' who have already released 4 albums ('The Battle (2005)', 'The Revenge (2007)', 'The Showdown (2010)' and 'The Great Design (2014)'), it's the turn of the duo composed of 'Anette Olzon' ('The Dark Element') and 'Russell Allen' ('Symphony X') to release a first studio recording and we also find as for 'Allen/Lande' (except for the album 'The Great Design'), the multi-instrumentalist 'Magnus Karlson' who took care of all the compositions and who occupies a special place in the world of melodic metal ('The Ferrymen', 'Place Vendome' or the duo 'Kiske/Sommerville' and the next album to be released in early May from his ‘Free Fall’ project ).

And after a first listening, we are swept away by a flood of powerful and melodic compositions as the Swede knows how to do so well and the choice of singles was certainly a real headache because each title could pretend to do the promotion of this album. We therefore navigate through energetic compositions between symphonic and melodic metal by varying the intensities : 'Never Die' which opens the album is powerful and grand and reflects the whole album well with remarkable symphonic arrangements, a melody that stays engraved in your head and a beautiful demonstration of Magnus a the guitar. We can also note that the album is divided into 3 parts and the titles are judiciously placed for a global homogeneity : first of all the five compositions in which Anette and Russel form a magnificent vocal duo ('Worlds Apart', 'What If I Live' , 'No Sign of Life', 'My Ennemy' and 'Who's Gonna Stop Me Now'). The strong point of these titles is of course for me the mixture of the two vocal registers with 'What If I Live', 'No Sign of Life' and 'Who's Gonna Stop Me Now' in which the choruses are a pure feast for the ears , the vocal harmonies being perfect. The other titles are therefore divided equally between 'Anette Olzon' and 'Russell Allen' : 'Never Die', 'Lost Soul' and 'Who You Really Are' for Russell and 'I'll Never Leave You', 'On More Chance' and 'Cold Inside' for Anette who in the last 2 titles mentioned, shows all her vocal talent in a calmer register.

In summary, this talented mixed duo 'Anette Olzon'/'Russell Allen' interpreting the melodic and very effective compositions of 'Magnus Karlsson' is a real success and 'Worlds Apart' will undoubtedly be appreciated by an audience navigating between symphonic metal and melodic metal...

Line Up / Musicians

Anette Olzon (Vocal), Russell Allen (Vocal), Magnus Karlsson (Guitar, Bass, Keybords), Anders Köllerfors (Drums)

Artist : The Night Flight Orchestra

Album : Aeromantic

Release Date : 28-02-2020

Added : 29-03-2020

We are now getting used to the Swedish album release of 'The Night Flight Orchestra' because, after 'Amber Galactic' in 2017 and 'Sometimes the World Ain't Enough' in 2018, here is the new one, 'Aeromantic', which is already the 5th album and which will continue to make people happy with fans of pop, rock, disco (and I forget certainly some) from the 70s and 80s : we don't change a winning team and the recipe that goes with it because the Swedes continue to offer us melodies that we immediately integrate with influences from groups or artists from these decades gone by.

And yet, listening to the first bars of the first track 'Servants of the Air', I told myself that they had slightly hardened the tone and that it flirted more with 'Deep Purple' than with l 'ELO' but this only lasted a few moments because from 'Divinyls', we find the lively AOR style that we knew and 'If Tonight's Our Only Chance' which follows is a bit of a mix between 'ABBA' and 'Alan Parsons Project' while 'This Boy's Last Summer' continues with an introduction close to 'Mamma Mia' and an catchy refrain on a catchy tempo. Follows 'Curves' which could be a mixture between 'Toto' and 'Elton John' and 'Transmissions' and 'Aeromantic' with their disco tones recalls the international variety of the eighties, then, 'Golden Swansdown' returns to the style of 'Elton John' especially since 'Björn Strid' has some intonations of the English as well in 'Taurus' which with its rapid rhythm can recall compositions like 'I'm Still Standing'. The end of the album continues in this way with a catchy 'Carmencita Seven', then after a completely offbeat final with Indian sounds, 'Sister Mercurial' continues without transition with melodic lines between 'ASIA' and 'Toto', then 'Dead Of Winter', after an epic introduction takes us one last time in the 80s with intonations of 'Survivor'.

In summary, no surprise with this new album by the Swedes of 'The Night Flight Orchestra', 'Aeromantic' continue to offer us accessible melodies in a happy and joyful atmosphere straight from the 80s which destines it , like its predecessors, to a very large audience...

Line Up / Musicians

Björn Strid (Vocal), Sharlee D' Angelo (Bass), David Andersson (Guitar), Richard Larsson (Keybords), Jonas Källsbäck (Drums), Sebastian Forslund (Guitar), Anna Brygård (Choirs), and Anna-Mia Bonde (Choirs)

Artist : Shakra

Album : Mad World

Release Date : 28-02-2020

Added : 30-03-2020

After ’Snakes & Ladders’ in 2017, the Swiss of melodic hard-rock band ‘Shakra’ continues their journey with a new album ‘Mad World’. Lovers of big sounds and saturated riffs with hellish tempos, you will be served with this last opus because powerful and energetic hits follow one after the other without real dead time.
And it starts a hundred an hour with 'Fireline' (video above) which sends us a rhythmic and powerful first track with a simple but super effective chorus, then, 'Too Much Is Not Enough' drives the point home with fierce riffs and if your whole body does not beat time, you are not made for this style of music. What follows continues in this riot of energy in catchy rhythm with 'A Roll of the Dice', 'Mad World' then 'When He Comes Around' calms the tempo but not the power for a title close to 'AC/DC' and it continues with an energetic 'Thousands Kings' and a rhythmical 'I Still Rock' which cannot leave indifferent. The end of the album is like the beginning, powerful compositions in which the guitars are unleashed and it is necessary to wait for the last title 'New Tomorrow' to have the ballad which closes the album on a calmer note.

In summary, 'Shakra' continues to do 'Shakra' and, even if they don't revolutionize the genre, they offer us again an album full of energy and simple but still very effective compositions which should undoubtedly delight their fans but also an audience who likes a direct and unadorned melodic hard-rock...

Line Up / Musicians

Mark Fox (Vocal), Thom Blunier (Guitar), Thomas Muster (Guitar), Dominik Pfister (Bass), Roger Tanner (Drums)

Artist : Audrey Horne

Album : Waiting for the Night

Release Date : 28-02-2020

Added : 31-03-2020

The concerts are often an opportunity to discover a formation in a particular moment and in the majority of cases, it is a real communication with the public : in the case of the Norwegians of 'Audrey Horne', it is indeed this exchange particular between the artists and the fans who transforms a simple concert into a real party and this last live demonstrates it again with an audience in madness from the beginning to the end taking in choruses all the titles for a set of one hour and twenty minutes.

And from the first track, after the public cheers, it starts strong with 'This Is War' which appears on the last album 'Blackout', then, 'Audrevolution', also taken from 'Blackout', continues this dynamic with a heady refrain and 'Youngblood' insists again in an atmosphere of madness. Besides, the last album 'Blackout' is well represented with 6 interpreted tracks including 'California' and then, there are these tracks which refer us to the guitar tones of 'Thin Lizzy' like 'Blackout' or 'Out of the City' or Audrey Horne's hits with 'Pretty Little Sunshine', 'Redemption Blues' and of course their anthem 'Waiting for the Night' chanted for the whole public, the ballad break not being forgotten with 'Sail Away'.

In short, 'Audrey Horne' released a live album of extraordinary energy, demonstrating that the Norwegians are made for the stage and 'Waiting for the Night' should please not only all fans of the group but also all those who love a melodic hard-rock in an intense and fiery atmosphere...

Line Up / Musicians

Torkjell "Toschie" Rød (Vocal), Arve "Ice Dale" Isdal (Guitar, Chœurs), Thomas Tofthagen (Guitar, Chœurs), Espen Lien (Bass, Chœurs), Kjetil Greve (Drums, Chœurs)

Artist : Shaft of Steel

Album : Steel Heartbreak

Release Date : 28-02-2020

Added : 26-06-2020

As I did in late 2019 (see here), for a week, at the rate of 2 per day, I present to you a set of albums released for this first semester 2020 in melodic rock and hard-rock in addition to those already reviewed like for example ’Bonfire’, ’SteelCity’, ’Grand Design’ or still ’Xtasy’. The order of upload corresponds to the chronology of the album releases.

Melodic hard rock albums rock of the first semester 2020

‘Shaft of Steel’ is an English melodic hard rock band created in 2004 and with a first EP in 2014. 2020 sees the release of their first album ‘Steel Heartbreak’.

Line Up / Musicians

Robert Fenning (Vocal), Alex Markham (Guitar, Choirs), Adam Carruthers (Guitar), Dominic Swords (Bass, Choirs), Chris Smurthwaite (Keybords), Michael Levy (Drums)

Artist : My Arrival

Album : Satur9 & Indigo

Release Date : 27-02-2020

Added : 27-04-2020

'My Arrival' is a new project initiated by former members of 'Sylvium', 'Richard de Geest' and 'Ben van Gastel' who released their first album 'Satur9 & Indigo'. They chose this time to self-produce with their own label but, although they explain their new direction taken musically on their 'Bandcamp' to compose shorter and more accessible titles that in their previous project, which is the case since the major developments have disappeared, we find (for our greatest happiness) the progressive style that we knew with 'Sylvium', that is to say a progressive rock made of calm and serene atmospheres which flow peacefully.

'Satur9 & Indigo' is a concept album on the misdeeds that Man has subjected our Earth to until it becomes unlivable and which, therefore, is forced to go in search of another planet to live on. From the introduction 'Intro (Ending Theme)', the atmospheric climate predominates with a significant use of keyboards, then, with 'Gone', we embark on a rhythmic mid-tempo while keeping this peaceful and 'Pale White Dot' is a little more energetic and reminds me of the Germans of 'RPWL'. Follows 'Strange Machine' which is a magnificent ballad which makes think of the atmospheres of the project 'Blackfield' of 'Steven Wilson' and 'Saturn & Indigo' is in the same style unrolling a slow tempo with beautiful melodic lines. The following continues in this peaceful style with again a similarity with 'RPWL' for 'Null Echo' and 'Come Undone' which continue to offer us a good moment of serenity and the end of the album scrolls through new melodic jewels with 'Full Dark Not Stars', 'Close You Eyes' and finally the instrumental outro 'Home' which cradle us one last time.

In summary, the Dutch from 'My Arrival' continue after 'Sylvium' to offer us a peaceful and relaxing progressive rock that should appeal to an audience who likes bands like 'RPWL', 'Sylvan', 'Cosmograf' or 'Blackfield'...

Line Up / Musicians

Richard de Geest (Vocal), Ben van Gastel (Guitar, Keybords), Fred Boks (Bass, Drums, Keybords)

Artist : Wishbone Ash

Album : Coat of Arms

Release Date : 26-02-2020

Added : 08-05-2020

You know the French saying: "The best soups are made in the old jars". Well, that's exactly what I said to myself when I listened to the last ‘Wishbone Ash’. Yes, you heard right, one of the formations which started its career almost fifty years ago already : it's sure, of the initial formation, there remains only 'Andy Powell', who, at 70 years, continues to maintain the tradition , the rest of the band having joined Andy much later ('Mark Abrahams' on the guitar replacing 'Muddy Manninen' in 2017, 'Bob Skeat' on bass being part of the adventure since 1997 and 'Joe Crabtree' at drums since 2007) but we can only salute this 23rd album of the English (the last 'Blue Horizon' dating from 2014) which, in these troubled times, brings us a little freshness of another time with festive and melodic rock compositions that do good.

From the start, with 'We Stand As One', we are already won over by this simple but super effective title which also includes a beautiful instrumental part in the second part of the title, then, with 'Coat of Arms', almost 8 minutes, we have an example of the progressive side of this formation (too little put forward for my taste at the time) which embarks us in a kind of blues/rock presenting different facets with instrumental sections which embroiders around the main theme. With 'Empty Man', the pop and country mix brings a lightness and 'Floreana' and 'It's Only You I See' are ballads like we don't do anymore but which smell good the 70s. As for titles like 'Drive', 'Too coll for AC', 'Back in the Day'or even 'When The Love Is Shared', we find the more rock side of the English with direct and effective compositions. The folk side returns in the ballad ‘Déjà-Vu’, and the album ends with the rhythmic ‘Personal Halloween’ in an atmosphere mixing blues, rock and funk.

In summary, like good wine, 'Wishbone Ash' improves with time and 'Coat of Arms' is, for me, one of the best albums of the English who continue their way without worrying about fashions and continue to do, for our greatest pleasure, what they have always done best : an effective and pleasant rock to listen to...

Line Up / Musicians

Andy Powell (Vocal, Guitar), Mark Abrahams (Guitar), Bob Skeat (Bass), Joe Crabtree (Drums)

Artist : Gabriel

Album : New Life

Release Date : 24-02-2020

Added : 29-05-2020

Reading the guests of the first album 'New Life' from Argentina 'Gabriel Agudo', it is a prestigious sample of artists from the progressive scene who parade with 'Steve Rothery', guitarist of 'Marillion' and leader of the 'Steve Rothery Band' ('Gabriel Agudo' is the singer) and names like 'Dave Kerzner' or 'Clive Nolan' but also classical artists with the conductor 'René Bosc' and the pianist 'Heiner Scob'. The album was already released a few months ago, but gradually revealed itself as and when listening, the 6 titles which compose it each having their own personality (actually 7 but the last one being the long version of the first ‘Free as a Bird’). Overall, the style is an inventive and sought-after progressive rock with long developments and the different projects of the guests mentioned above are a good benchmark for the listener to have a good idea of the atmospheres deployed.

'Free as a Bird' which begins the album is a magnificent, melancholic and introspective title in which Gabriel speaks of his mother who died of Alzheimer's disease and who has a heady refrain which can recall the melodic lines of the well known 'With Without You' from 'U2' in a much slower tempo, then, 'Karmatic' contains everything you want to find in a progressive title : an alternation between different atmospheres, a fair balance between the sung and instrumental parts and a musical research which embarks you on a journey filled with beautiful surprises successively recalling the atmospheres of formations like 'Arena', 'Marillion' or 'Genesis' to name just three and which offers us a magnificent classical piano performance of 'Heiner Scob'. With, 'Angel's Call', I have the impression of listening to 'Mystery', this title offering multiple parts and alternating aerial and intense atmospheres, and the eponymous title of the album re-embarks us for 9 minutes of incredible musical density, starting with a sustained rhythm with the keyboards of 'Clive Nolan' playing cat and mouse with the singing of 'Gabriel Agudo', then having an instrumental part in which keyboards and violins twirl happily and which falls back into the second part of the title in a gentle and serene way, with first the flute and the piano and then the guitar of 'Steve Rothery' which accompany Gabriel's singing to finish on a magnificent decrescendo. After the short piano interlude 'Awakening' by 'Heiner Scob', 'Shining Spark' is a more classic ballad but which, for me, offers the most beautiful vocal performance of 'Gabriel' in this album, filled with emotion at every moment, then, the nearly 18-minute long version of 'Free as a Bird' closes the album in a much more progressive structure in which the instrumental parts take a prominent place with an important place for the violin of 'Hélène Collerette' which increase the emotional cursor thanks to a wonderful interpretation and : simply beautiful.

In summary, 'Gabriel Agudo', well accompanied by a skewer of very good artists, released a first album of remarkable density that requires lingering if we want to get all the richness and, therefore, will be reserved for an audience of progressive music who takes their time to discover a work little by little, listening after listening...

Line Up / Musicians

Gabriel Agudo (Vocal, Guitar), René Bosc (Guitar, Keybords, Bass, Drums), Hélène Collerette (Violin) + Guests : Jan-Vincent Velazco (Drums), Dave Kerzner (Keybords), Heiner Scob (Piano), Fernando Perdomo (Guitar, Bass, Keybords, Drums), Clive Nolan (Keybords), Steve Rothery (Guitar), Christophe Lebled (Keybords), Sarah Brannens (Voix)

Artist : Layla Zoe

Album : Retrospectives Tour 2019

Release Date : 21-02-2020

Added : 23-03-2020

After the very beautiful live ‘Songs from the Road’ released in 2017, this is still a public recording offered by ‘Layla Zoe’ with ‘Retrospectives Tour 2019’. This time, it's an hour and 45 minutes of happiness with this great artist who proposes to us a completely different set from the previous live, only ‘Backstage Queen’ being performed in the two albums. We thus find this emotional force which she knows how to transmit in these unique moments by starting with a stripped down 'She Didn't Believe' from her last album ’Gemini’ which she shares with 'Krissy Matthews' in a real fusion between his voice and the electric guitar and it is impossible to remain indifferent to so much authenticity and generosity.
The set is divided between energetic compositions like 'Leave You For Good', 'Someday', 'Never Met a Man Like You' or even 'Ghost Train' in which she excels with her communicative energy and her magnificent groove and others quieter which are undoubtedly those in which Layla reveals her soul the most and gives us goosebumps like in 'Don't Wanna Hurt Nobody', 'Black Oil' or the last title 'I Shall Be Released' which ends the concert as it started, in a hushed atmosphere sweating a palpable emotion. But what also emerges from this opus, in addition to the wonderful performance of Layla on the whole concert, is that she never pulls the cover to her and that she leaves great freedom to the artists who accompany with memorable instrumental sections in the majority of tracks, whether it be 'Krissy Matthews' on guitar or 'Paul Jobson' on keyboards.

In summary, as you will have understood, 'Retrospectives Tour 2019' is yet another very emotional album which highlights a great lady of the blues as much by her vocals who cannot leave marble even the most insensitive people but also by her generosity to give the place they deserve to his musicians which makes it a magnificent album both vocally as well as instrumental...

Line Up / Musicians

Layla Zoe (Vocal, Harmonica), Krissy Matthews (Guitar, Choirs), Paul Jobson (Bass, Organ, Choirs), Frank Duindam (Drums, Choirs)

Artist : H.E.A.T

Album : H.E.A.T II

Release Date : 21-02-2020

Added : 24-03-2020

After the excellent 'Into The Great Unknown' released in 2017 and the live 'Live At The Sweden RockFestival' which followed in 2019, the Swedes of 'H.E.A.T' release a new album 'H.E.A.T II ’, with this II which shows the group’s revival since ‘Into The Great Unknown’ and that’s what they’re showing us with this latest opus.
And it starts very strong with 'Rock Your Body' which has the allure of the best of 'Def Leppard' and a rhythm of hell on which your feet begin to beat tempo alone, then 'Dangerous Ground' continues in the same vein, just like the melodic jewel 'Come Clean' which follows, with its unstoppable chorus and 'Victory' is not to be outdone with its incisive guitar riffs and its chanted choirs. With the mid-tempo ‘We Are Gods’, it's your head that can't help but beat time for a heavier composition, then ‘Adrenaline’ with its chorus sung by choirs continue in this way. And it is not the following titles that will weaken the overheated atmosphere of this opus, with 'One By One', 'Heaven Must Have Won An Angel' or 'Under the Gun' and 'Nothing to Say' is the only ballad in all this debauchery of power and positive energy to offer us a calmer moment also very successful.

In summary, if it still had to be proven, Scandinavian melodic hard-rock is doing very well with the 'Eclipse', 'Palace', 'Art Nation', 'Crazy Lixx' or 'Nordic Union' and the Swedes of 'H.E.A.T' adds an excellent album for 2020 which could undoubtedly claim the album of the year in this style, unless another Swedish group is even stronger which is always possible with our friends in Northern Europe...

Line Up / Musicians

Erik Grönwall (Vocal), Dave Dalone (Guitars), Jona Tee (Keybords), Jimmy Jay (Bass), Don Crash (Drums)

Artist : Hopescure

Album : Nostalgia, Pt. 1

Release Date : 21-02-2020

Added : 25-03-2020

‘Hopescure’ is a new Franco-Luxembourgish group which was created in 2016 and which has just released their first album ‘Nostalgia, Pt. 1’ which suggests that there will be a sequel. Tagged in progressive metal, it is not this restrictive qualifier that came to me during the first listenings because, apart from some energetic compositions in which the guitar riffs are more saturated, the influences are relatively diverse which makes it for me a progressive album in the broad sense and therefore, it is precisely this creativity and this originality of going to mix different influences to make it something new that has emerged.

The album begins with 'Liar', in a progressive rock style, which takes us on an mix between east and west with a remarkable first vocal performance of 'Andy Abrantes' and a fairly simple but very effective first melody , then 'Hate' hardens the tone for the most energetic title of the album between symphonic metal and industrial metal. Without transition, the next two titles go in a completely different direction, first the short 'Love, Pt. 1' which begins calmly with a piano/voice duo accompanied by a few layers of keyboards then which gains momentum in middle of title to fall back on the end, then, 'Reflection' begins in an atmospheric way and can recall formations like 'Klone' (see here) or 'Infringement' (see here) to cite only recent album releases, but we change the mood after two minutes with saturated guitars which prepare a chorus with beautiful melodic lines in which 'Andy Abrantes' uses its head voice and the suite alternates power and serenity in a remarkable way until the final in crescendo. With 'Transition', we hold an original musical piece, certainly less accessible, in which each artist brings his stone to the building to make it something unique, with multiple changes of melodic lines, tempos and intensity , then 'Pain' returns to a very peaceful atmosphere and unfolds a subtle melody alternating admirable female choirs and the sweet song of 'Andy Abrantes' with a catchy final in which 'Kevin Roy' offers us a very beautiful guitar solo. The end of the album scrolls 'Mislead' in a melodic progressive metal accessible with a beautiful central instrumental part, 'Anger', a title much more difficult to tame but certainly the most sought after and the most imaginative with a rather unbridled structure which is eyeing towards 'Dream Theater', and finally the very short 'Dreaming' which ends the album gently with a beautiful piano/voice duo.

In summary, this first album of 'Hopescure' is a very good surprise in the releases of progressive music 2020, mixing different styles and also accessible and least accessible which makes it an album to recommend to a audience open to different genres between rock and metal and looking for originality in the progressive...

Line Up / Musicians

Andy Abrantes (Vocal, Keybords), Kevin Roy (Guitar, Piano), Patrice Diasio (Bass), Alexandre Klein (Drums)

Artist : Drowning Steps

Album : The Echo of a Distant Past

Release Date : 21-02-2020

Added : 26-03-2020

Direction Brazil with the project ‘Drowning Steps’ which was initiated by singer and guitarist ‘Caio Claro’, then joined by keyboardist 'Tiago Pierucci' and who released a new album ‘The Echo of a Distant Past’. The total duration is quite short (38 minutes) with 6 compositions which are divided into 3 long development and 3 shorter titles but this does not in any way tarnish the quality of this opus and they evolve in a calm and delicate progressive atmosphere : to make a comparison, I will quote their compatriots from 'Fleesh' who evolve in a comparable style but also other formations like 'Blackfield' , 'Mostly Autumn', 'Mystery' or the new project 'Chasing The Monsoon'.

The album begins with the short instrumental 'The Source of Imagination' in a church organ atmosphere which quickly turns into a semi-acoustic ballad where layers of aerial keyboards and acoustic guitar rock us on a beautiful melody. Follows 'Gold Through My Eyes', which is my first crush and which is a beautiful progressive piece with a succession of different climates, sometimes melancholic, sometimes more energetic and perfect for an invitation to escape, then, with 'Where is my Life', we embarks on a new light and harmonious semi-acoustic composition which increases in power on the finale with vaporous keyboards on a simple but effective melody. Follows the 2nd long development 'The Inner Silence', starting in a few layers of keyboards and which transforms around 2.30 min into a funk rhythm of the 80s before returning to a slow peaceful tempo which continues on a piano/voice duo resuming some magnitude for an imposing crescendo which finally falls back with a few piano notes then the short guitar/voice acoustic title 'Affected' takes us once again on a small cloud and it is with 'The Echo of a Distant Past', long song of almost 10 minutes, that the album ends in beauty thanks to a typical title of an inventive and sought-after progressive which transports us between melancholy and energy in an atmospheric atmosphere which brings us back in certain parts in the 70s with a nod to 'Pink-Floyd' with melodic lines and tones of 'Wish You Where Here' between 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond' and 'Welcome to the Machine'.

In summary, the Brazilians of 'Drowning Steps' are releasing an album of very high quality (which I would have liked a little longer) and 'The Echo of a Distant Past' is to be recommended for the atmospheric style to an audience loving the groups mentioned above but also having bathed in the progressive of the 70s...

Line Up / Musicians

Caio Claro (Vocal, Guitar), Tiago Pierucci (Keybords, Organ, Piano) + Guests : Fabricio Mendonca (Drums), Henrique Oliveira (Guitar), Leonardo Goncalves (Bass), Leo Skinner (Bass), Vinicius Batista (Guitar)

Artist : Ozzy Osbourne

Album : Ordinary Man

Release Date : 21-02-2020

Added : 01-04-2020

At 71, we no longer expected an album from the 'Prince of Darkness' and yet 2020 sees the release of a new studio recording by 'Ozzy Osbourne', 'Ordinary Man', the last 'Scream' already dating from 2010. In the meantime there has been the reformation of 'Black Sabbath' with the album '13' released in 2013 and which had caused a lot of ink to flow at the time without actually making the unanimously, certainly because the critics expected much more from the English while, if this album had been released by a less known band, they would have been much more forgiving.

In short, the Englishman known for these extravagances as much in his private life as in his musical career, surprises us with this new baby who sees the participation of young rappers 'Post Malone' and 'Travis Scott', guitarist 'Andrew Watt' but also bassist 'Duff McKagan' and guitarist 'Slash' all two of 'Guns N 'Roses', drummer 'Chad Smith' of 'Red Hot Chili Peppers', guitarist 'Tom Morello' and even an appearance of 'Elton John' and suddenly, we tell ourselves that we have a beautiful assorted of intergenerational artists which automatically translates into a variety of compositions while preserving the very particular style of the Englishman. Indeed, from the start with 'Straight To Hell', the characteristic voice is there with an energetic and powerful title in a style reminiscent of 'Black Sabbath', then, in the same vein, we can also cite 'Goodbye', 'Eat Me' and 'Today Is The End' and even if 'Under The Graveyard' and 'All My Life' are lighter, they keep these reminiscences of the seventies. Besides these titles, we find other quieter compositions with for example the magnificent ballad in duet with 'Elton John', 'Ordinary Man' and with a beautiful guitar solo of 'Slash', then 'Scary Little Green Men' with a great guitar performance from 'Tom Morello' or the second ballad 'Holy For Tonight'. Also note the last 2 tracks, first of all the crazy 'It's A Raid' with 'Post Malone', between punk and rock, and 'Take What You Want' (also present in the last album of 'Post Malone'), in which the 2 rappers bring a touch of modernity quite distant from the universe of Ozzy.

In summary, without foreshadowing the future and given Ozzy's current state of health, 'Ordinary Man' could very well be the swan song for this emblematic artist who offers us compositions that characterize him if well and, even if he makes us believe that he is an ordinary person, he will have marked the 50 years of the hard-rock scene with 'Black Sabbath' and quite a few other artists, and will remain for hard-rock fans through the ages, beyond his extravagant escapades, an extraordinary artist...

Line Up / Musicians

Ozzy Osbourne (Vocal), Andrew Watt (Guitar), Duff McKagan (Bass), Chad Smith (Drums) + Guests : Elton John (Vocal, Piano), Post Malone (Vocal), Slash (Guitar), Tom Morello (Guitar), Travis Scott (Vocal)

Artist : Lazuli

Album : Le fantastique envol de Dieter Böhm

Release Date : 15-02-2020

Added : 03-04-2020

“This album is dedicated to all those who find the songs we throw into the sea…”: it is with this phrase that 'Dominique Leonetti' introduces the new album of the French of 'Lazuli' which, after 'Nos Ames Saoules' in 2016 and 'Season 8' in 2018, release a concept album 'The fantastic flight of Dieter Böhm' for their baby number 9 which consists of four acts.

First, at the musical level, we find the well-known French universe which is conducive to the blossoming of the texts of 'Dominique Leonetti', sometimes using a slow crescendo or sometimes alternating serenity and power : from the introduction, 'Sol' takes us into this rhythm so specific to the group in a slow procession which gradually takes off to relapse and regain strength on the final. Act I consists of the titles ‘Les Chansons sont des bouteilles à la mer’ and 'Mers lacrymales' in a rather melancholy atmosphere, then Act II starts with 'Dieter Böhm' which presents the hero of the story for slide very slowly towards 'Baume' which begins in a very refined way with a beautiful piano / voice duo and which offers us a refrain in which the voice of 'Dominique Leonetti' transforms to become airy and intense. Act III consists of 'Un visage lunaire' very typical of 'Lazuli' which takes us on an alternating intensity with a magnificent final guitar solo (we ask more !!), then Act IV takes relay for the instrumental 'L’envol', very evocative, which introduces 'L’homme Volant' which is the culmination of this story and which musically, offers us an energetic rhythm and a joyful melody translating the concretization of the project of 'Dieter Böhn'. And it is with 'In the hands of Dieter' that the story ends with a first atmospheric part which brings down all the energy of the previous title with simple but so strong words and a second instrumental part full of energy in which the Léode of 'Claude Leonetti' is unleashed and which falls down to finish on some magic guitar notes.

In summary, I found the bottle thrown into the sea by 'Lazuli', I opened it and I liked this simple story but so rich in emotion because 'The fantastic flight of Dieter Böhm' is quite simply a new highlight in the career of the French and it is absolutely necessary to listen to it as a whole to draw all the substantial marrow from it, listening title to title having no meaning...

Line Up / Musicians

Dominique Leonetti (Vocal, Guitar), Claude Leonetti (Léode), Gédéric Byar (Guitar), Vincent Barnavol (Drums, Percussions), Romain Thorel (Keybords)

Artist : Diabulus In Musica

Album : Euphonic Entropy

Release Date : 14-02-2020

Added : 10-03-2020

It was already three long years since the Spaniards of 'Diabulus In Musica' had not released an album, 'Dirge For The Archons' dating from 2016 and meanwhile the singer' Zuberoa Aznarez 'having released a solo album 'Beyond The Threshold'. It's done with this sumptuous new studio recording 'Euphonic Entropy' which has seen again an evolution in the compositions : we already knew that the Spaniards had made a good place next to the symphonic metal tenors with great choir reinforcement like 'Epica' or 'Therion' but 'Euphonic Entropy' goes even further than its predecessor with a much larger variety.

After the instrumental introduction 'A Lucid Chaos' which sets the scene in this style of music and with some vocalizations by Zuberoa, 'Race to Equilibrium' takes us on for a powerful and rhythmic first track filled with grandiose choirs and l 'we can not help thinking of 'Epica' especially since at the melodic lines, we are very close to the Dutch and with 'Nuevo Rumbo', the grandiose symphonic style is at its peak with beautiful choirs and, here and there, the growls of 'Gorka Elso'. It is with 'The Misfit's Swing' that we hold the first surprise of the album with a title straight out of the inter-war period and the swing era which was metalized for the occasion and Zuberoa shows (if it still had to be done) that she is comfortable in all styles. We find the style of Epica with 'In Quest Of Sense' and it is with the hit 'Otoi' with its heady melody that the style approaches this time metal-folk with the addition of a flute with Celtic sounds. 'Zuberoa Aznárez' then gives us a great performance in the magnificent ballad 'Blurred Dreams' with magnificent choirs, then 'On the Edge' still comes out of the classical patterns for a style close to industrial metal which corresponds to a current evolution of symphonic metal (see last review of 'Delain' here). With the majestic 'Our Last Gloomy Dance', which is my favorite of the album, classical music and metal come together for an epic and grandiose composition with a melody that is immediately embedded in the head and again a flawless performance in a lyrical register of 'Zuberoa Aznárez'. The end of the album offers us an energetic 'One Step Higher' with electronic sounds and a more classic but very effective refrain close to groups like 'Within Temptation', 'Blind Muse' which returns to the style of 'Epica' and finally , the instrumental 'In The Vortex' which calmly ends the opus in an atmosphere of opera music in which Zuberoa delights us one last time with his deep lyric voice and full of sensitivity.

In summary, the Spanish of 'Diabulus In Musica' are back in force on the front of the symphonic metal scene with an album that will certainly mark the year 2020 in this style and if you like bands like 'Epica' (see here), 'Xandria' (see here), 'Sirenia' (see here) or even 'Imperia' (see here), you should no doubt be seduced by 'Euphonic Entropy'...

Line Up / Musicians

Zuberoa Aznárez (Vocal), Gorka Elso (Keybords), Alexey Kolygin (Guitar), David Carrica (Drums)

Artist : Popa Chubby

Album : It’s A Mighty Hard Road

Release Date : 14-02-2020

Added : 11-03-2020

After 'The Catfish' in 2016 and 'Prime Cuts' in 2018, the American 'Popa Chubby' (real name 'Ted Horowitz'), for its 30 years of career, releases a new album 'It's A Mighty Hard Road'. As it has accustomed us for a few decades, the 15 tracks do not revolutionize blues/rock but are simply made to have a good time listening to this whole artist who wets the shirt for his audience (literally, watch the video above from 'It's A Mighty Hard Road'). So we sail in energetic blues/rock like in 'It's A Mighty Hard Road' or 'It Ain't Nothin' or in 'I'm The Beast From The East' and its boogie / rock rhythm or in 'Why You Wanna Bite My Bones' close to rockabilly but also in lighter titles like the 'Let Love Free The Day', 'The Best Is Yet To Come' or 'Gordito' and its Latin rhythm like 'Santana' or the jazzy 'Lost Again' and we can note the last two titles which are the only titles which are not from 'Popa Chubby' with first of all the cover 'I'd Rather Be Blind' of 'Leon Russel' and also the very successful cover of 'Kiss' of 'Prince' at the end of the album with a beautiful Harmonica solo.

In summary, one more for 'Popa Chubby' who, even if he has nothing more to prove, continues to delight us with his authentic blues/rock and this 'It's A Mighty Hard Road' with a beautiful variety of titles is recommended for a wide audience because the set is very accessible and to be consumed without moderation...

Line Up / Musicians

Ted Horowitz ‘Popa Chubby’ (Vocal, Guitar, Harmonica, Keybords, Drums), Brett Bass (Bass), V.d. King (Bass), Dave Keyes (Organ, Piano), Steve Holley (Drums), Don Castagno (Drums)

Artist : Seven Spires

Album : Emerald Seas

Release Date : 14-02-2020

Added : 13-03-2020

After a very promising 'Solveig' in 2017, released thanks to crowdfunding (see chronicle myprogmusic here), the Americans of 'Seven Spires' release their second studio recording and the least that the we can say is that the palette presented in 'Emerald Seas' is relatively wide because we navigate in all styles of metal and even some titles flirt with melodic rock or even classical music. And if we add to that that the singer 'Adrienne Cowan', in addition to being a keyboard player, is a bit of a Swiss knife of metal vocal that knows how to adapt to all styles and that the other members of the group are all musicians talented, we keep a group capable of great prowess because this 'Emerald Seas' is worth the detour for all those who love diversity in metal. Note that 'Adrienne Cowan' participated in the last tour of the project 'Avantasia' of 'Tobias Sammet' in 2019 for the release of 'Moonglow' which is generally a good calling card in the metal world because we know that Tobias knows how to surround himself with talented artists.

The album begins with the short 'Igne Defendit' which could be the introduction of a classic opera, but 'Ghost of Dream' which follows, takes up the theme a little more muscular and lets us discover a melody which borrows from Andalusian music with Oriental influences and 'Adrienne Cowan' offers us a register in clear song very wise until the last second which ends with some chords in which Adrienne sends us some very aggressive growls. With 'No Words Exchanged', the arrangements with strings juxtaposed with saturated guitar riffs work perfectly and it is a delicious mixture between a pop melody that they would have metalized and 'Every Crest' continues in a mixture between power metal and symphonic metal with a very expressive melody which recalls the style of American musicals. Without transition, 'Unmapped Darkness' is the melodic hit of the album whose chorus is immediately embedded in your head and, it is in this title that 'Adrienne Cowan' offers us the two vocal facets, first of all a Quite classic clear song and a song based on growls which they know how to dose very well without adding too much, then, 'Succomb' is another melodic gem in a fairly classic symphonic metal. It is with the following four titles that we have the biggest gap of the album with the two magnificent power ballads 'Silvery Moon' and 'Bury Me' which are sandwiched between the epic 'Drower of Worlds' and the energetic 'Fearless' in which Adrienne uses her extreme voice in a style combining symphonic and black metal. The end of the album scrolls through the very short serenade 'With Love from the Other Side' then 'The Trouble with Eternal Life', very contrasted with a very calm introduction, which continues with a frenzied rhythm in a fairly symphonic metal style classical and a new heady melody, then the instrumental 'Emerald Seas' which continues the theme of the previous title and ends the album as it had started in a classical symphonic atmosphere.

In summary, at the same time as the release of the last 'Diabulus In Musica' (see here) and the last 'Delain' (see here), the 2020 year has started beautifuly for symphonic metal and it is not this second album by the Americans of 'Seven Spires' that could say the opposite because 'Emerald Seas' is a total success which should please fans of symphonic metal who like styles as distant as classical music and symphonic black...

Line Up / Musicians

Adrienne Cowan – (Vocal, Keybords), Jack Kosto (Guitar), Peter Albert de Reyna (Bass), Chris Dovas (Drums)

Artist : Rick Miller

Album : Belief in the Machine

Release Date : 14-02-2020

Added : 14-03-2020

‘Rick Miller’ with the same artists by his side continues to release albums and, after ‘Delusional’ in 2018, ‘Belief in the Machine’ is his latest baby. So we find the universe of the Canadian with this ‘Floydian’ side and guitar tones approaching ‘David Gilmour’.

In this opus, only two compositions are long developments, first of all 'Correct to the Core' which begins the album and which takes us into a marked rhythm a bit like 'Another Brick in the Wall' and with a good alternation between vocal and instrumental parts and then, 'The Trial' which ends the album in a more psychedelic atmosphere with a central part containing electronic sounds which can recall 'Jean-Michel Jarre' and sung parts with beautiful melodic lines very easy to tame and a remarkable final guitar solo which is very 'Gilmourian'. The other compositions are shorter, between two and five minutes with first of all the 2 parts of 'That Inward Eye' which are very peaceful with the flute which accentuates this angelic side, then the eponymous title of the album takes up the theme precedent for a melancholic semi-acoustic song and 'The Land and the Sea', with its xylophone sounds takes us on a trip to exotic countries. As for 'The Need to Believe', the repetitive melody on the piano gives a feeling of fullness and can recall some very calm titles from 'Barclay James Harvest', then 'Prelude to the Trial' begins in a disturbing way with a cello and a few voices then, we embark on a track which can serve as relaxation music with little by little some notes of an electric guitar which comes to accompany the central theme. Follows 'Binary Breakdown' which also stages a cello, then a violin in a marked rhythm in which are added keyboards and an electric guitar which alternates with strings and ends in a few layers of keyboards and the last instrumental 'Media Gods Including The Awakening', after a psychedelic introduction reminiscent of the 70s, ends in a bucolic way with the soft sound of the flute accompanied by an acoustic guitar.

In summary, 'Rick Miller' continues in atmospheric atmospheres to invite us to travel in a peaceful and serene world and 'Belief in the Machine' is an accessible album which should appeal to all those who are attracted by a calm and restful rock...

Line Up / Musicians

Rick Miller (Vocal, Keybords, Guitar), Sarah Young (Flute), Barry Haggarty (Guitar), Kane Miller (Violin, Guitar), Mateusz Swoboda (Cello)

Artist : Blind Ego

Album : Preaching to the Choir

Release Date : 14-02-2020

Added : 15-03-2020

'Kalle Wallner' is a busy guitarist between 'RPWL' (last album here) and participation in the album of 'Yogi Lang' (see here) and after 'Liquid' released in 2016, the German released a new studio album 'Preaching to the Choir' with his group 'Blind Ego', 2017 having seen the release of a very nice live show (see here). With this formation 'Kalle Wallner' allows himself to get out of the neo-progressive rock of 'RPWL' and although some titles approach it, other compositions are a little more energetic and flirt with what one could call du energetic rock often at the limit of hard-rock.

It is also with the first title 'Massive' that we have a first glimpse of a rock with saturated guitar riffs and a rhythm marked with a first harmonious melody, then, the title track of the album continue in this power and energy with the song 'Scott Balaban' wrapped with electronic effects in the first half and a final which falls back with some spiritual choirs. With 'Burning Alive' we are more in rhythmic rock with choirs which can recall certain sounds of the 80s and 'Line in the Sand', after a muscular introduction, alternates powerful parts and others quieter and can recall certain rhythm of 'RPWL', then, 'Dark Paradise' brings a break in the form of a ballad with a very effective chorus. The rest of the album scrolls through a catchy 'In Exile' which flirts with a peaceful rock type AOR, the mid-tempo 'Heading for The Stars' in crescendo which unfolds a beautiful melody and which is closer to the neo-progressive of 'RPWL' with a nice instrumental part, then, 'Broken Land' continues in this style with a powerful bass line, and, finally, 'The Trial' ends the album in a nice way with a long development of almost 9 minutes which contains different parts, first a calm introduction with a repetitive theme, then, an energetic part with many changes of rhythm and intensity and finally a much quieter instrumental part until the final decrescendo.

In summary, the Germans from 'Blind Ego' continue their journey under the leadership of 'Kalle Wallner' and release a very good album without copying 'RPWL' and 'Preaching to the Choir' is to be advised to a audience loving progressive music with sophisticated arrangements who like to mix rock and hard-rock...

Line Up / Musicians

Kalle Wallner (Guitar), Scott Balaban (Vocal), Julian Kellner (Guitar), Sebastian Harnack (Bass), Michael Christoph (Drums)

Artist : Yes

Album : Live At Glastonbury Festival 2003

Release Date : 14-02-2020

Added : 16-03-2020

We can no longer count the live recordings of the group 'Yes' and 2020 finally sees the streaming release of the 'Live At Glastonbury Festival 2003' which was released on CD about a year ago, 2019 having also seen the release of the live from the 50th anniversary (see here). This set gives us the opportunity to hear 'Jon Anderson' singing again and listen to legendary tracks like 'Siberian Khatru' which started concerts in the 70s or the catchy 'Don't Kill The Whale' or even for amateurs of long progressive developments of the Englishs, a group of titles in the middle of the set with 'South Side Of The Sky', 'And You And I', 'Heart Of The Sunrise' and of course the emblematic 'Awaken' which borders on the twenty minutes with its magnificent vocal arrangements. In short, this new live of ‘Yes’ is of course intended first of all for fans of the first hour but may also be the possibility of discovering this legendary group with a very good production for the early 2000s...

Line Up / Musicians

Jon Anderson (Vocal, Guitar, Harp), Steve Howe (Vocal, Guitar, Mandolin), Rick Wakeman (Keybords), Chris Squire (Vocal, Bass), Alan White (Drums, Percussions)

Artist : Mariana Semkina

Album : Sleepwalking

Release Date : 14-02-2020

Added : 17-03-2020

'Marjana Semkina' (or Mariana) is a Russian singer who was known with 'Iamthemorning', the duet she formed with 'Gleb Kolyadin' (see the two chronicles here and here) and after participating in Gleb's first studio album in 2018 (see here), she released her first solo album in 2020 'Sleepwalking' with prestigious guests from the progressive world since we find the keyboardist of 'Dream Theater', 'Jordan Rudess' on the piano (see the last 'Dream Theater' here), drummer 'Craig Blundell' ('Lonely Robot', 'Steven Wilson', 'Kino' or 'Moonparticle') and the bass player 'Nick Beggs' (also 'Lonely Robot' and 'Steven Wilson' but also 'The Mutes Gods'). But the style is far from the progressive metal of ‘Dream Theater’ since we find the soft and airy voice of the Russian in 11 compositions that she has all written and composed. The set is an invitation to travel and apart from 'Turn Back Time' which is the most rock track and 'Skin', also a little more energetic, these are compositions which allow you to get away from it all in calm and serene and although the texts are relatively dark ('Marjana Semkina' wrote them during a difficult period for her), the whole is of a simple and delicate beauty and we can quote for example the very refined 'Lost at Sea' and 'Still Life'. On the instrumental level, remarkable arrangements involve acoustic instruments such as the piano or the guitar which are often accompanied by the strings of the 'St. Petersburg Orchestra "1703" which bring some melancholy as in 'Dark Matter', 'Am I Sleeping Or Am I Dead', 'Everything Burns' or even in 'Mermaid Song' but which also amplifies the gravity of the title as in 'Ars Longa Vita Brevis', 'Invisible' or even in 'How to Be Alone'.

In summary, 'Mariana Semkina' released a very beautiful album highlighting her captivating and airy voice even more than in her collaboration with 'Gleb Kolyadin' and 'Sleepwalking' is the kind of recording to quietly listen to headphones on your ears to share these poetic, delicate and emotion-filled moments...

Line Up / Musicians

Marjana Semkina (Vocal) + Guests : Craig Blundell (Drums), Jordan Rudess (Keybords), Nick Beggs (Bass), Vlad Avy (Guitar), Grigiory Losenkov (Piano), Svetlana Shumkova (Drums), St.Petersburg Orchestra "1703"

Artist : Waiting From Monday

Album : Waiting For Monday

Release Date : 14-02-2020

Added : 18-03-2020

‘Waiting From Monday’ is a new American melodic rock band created by singer ‘Rudy Cardenas’ and guitarist and singer ‘August Zadra’ who just released their first album under the name of the group. At the first listening, we find ourselves a few decades back in the splendid era of melodic rock where the 'Foreigner', 'Styx', 'Journey' or 'Asia' were at top of the bill and contrary to what do most melodic rock bands by favoring energetic and powerful atmospheres and include only one or two ballads in their albums, the compositions of 'Waiting For Monday' are divided into two parts, on the one hand, catchy compositions and another of ballads since there are five of the eleven titles, the twelfth title being a very nice cover in acoustics from 'Found You Now'. It all starts with the energies of the catchy melodies of 'Until the Dawn' and with the melodic jewel 'End of a Dream', then 'Shattered Lives' and 'Found You Now' are the first two ballads with melodies that immediately enter the head. The sequel alternates these two atmospheres, with the energetic titles 'Right In Front Of You', 'Inside Her Head', 'Make It Better' and 'One More Round', and the ballads 'Must Have Been', 'Love You Forever', 'Pick Your Lies' divided between slow verses and a more catchy refrain.

In summary, the Americans of 'Waiting From Monday' under the leadership of 'Rudy Cardenas' and 'August Zadra' released a remarkable, accessible and varied album which intends it for a large audience loving melodic rock bands 80s...

Line Up / Musicians

Rudy Cardenas (Vocal), August Zadra (Guitar, Vocal), Walter Ino (Keybords, Guitar, Vocal), Eric Baines (Bass), Joe Travers (Drums)

Artist : Psychotic Waltz

Album : The God-Shaped Void

Release Date : 14-02-2020

Added : 19-03-2020

This new album from 'Psychotic Waltz' takes us back to the late 80's when we started hearing progressive metal and the Americans, who started their career around the same time as 'Dream Theater', were part of this wave of precursors that took over the codes of progressive rock to incorporate metal elements. As a result, four albums were released between 1990 and 1996, a year which also saw the group's separation. Reformed in 2010 for concerts, it's almost 24 years after their last album ’Bleeding’ and with the same line up that ‘The God-Shaped Void’ was born.

Overall, even if the average duration of the tracks is around five minutes, the progressive side is limited, often falling into a classic verse / chorus scheme and the Americans decided to favor a heavy sound with compositions with relatively slow tempos. On the other hand, the melodic lines have been particularly worked so that the whole remains accessible and this from the first title 'Devils and Angels' in which the chorus easily enters the head and we can also mention the melodics 'Stranded', 'All the Bad Men', 'The Fallen', 'While the Spiders Spin' or 'Sisters of the Dawn'. We can also note titles 'Back to Black' or 'Pull then String' with more punchy rhythms and closer to modern progressive metal but also the use of acoustic guitar or flute allowing to vary the atmospheres as in 'The Fallen', 'While The Spiders Spin', 'In the Silence' or the quieter title 'Demystified'.

In summary, the Americans of 'Psychotic Waltz' return to the front of the progressive metal scene with a very good album and 'The God-Shaped Void' is intended to please an audience loving an accessible progressive and melodic metal combining sounds of the 90s with modern production...

Line Up / Musicians

Devon Graves (Vocal), Brian McAlpin (Guitar), Dan Rock (Guitar, Keybords), Ward Evans (Bass), Norman Leggio (Drums)

Artist : Mangala Vallis

Album : Voices

Release Date : 08-02-2020

Added : 22-03-2020

'Mangala Vallis' is an Italian progressive rock group which has already more than 20 years of existence with three albums to its credit, the last 'Microsolco' already dating from 2012. They evolve in a progressive style with influences drawn from the 70s / 80s and 2020s sees the release of a new album 'Voices'.
The album begins with 'The Center of Life' which deploys a fairly quiet style between pop and rock with fairly present keyboards, beautiful vocal arrangements and a remarkable first guitar solo, then, 'No Reason' continues in this atmosphere which can recall artists of the 70s like 'Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young' in terms of vocal harmonies but with a progressive side and a beautiful instrumental passage in the second part of the title which can bring back to some titles of 'Genesis' in the period of the beginning of the 70s. The album continues with the neo-progressive ballad 'Get it While You Can', mixing 70s influences with modern sounds, 'The Voice Inside' with beautiful melodic lines and remarkable new vocal arrangements, then , 'An End to an End' is a new ballad with beautiful choirs and a heady chorus, and 'Demon' is an energetic mid-tempo which draws on the progressive of the 80s and 9s 0 and we can see here and there influences reminiscent of formations like 'Genesis' or 'Marillion' then 'Sour' ends the album on a melancholic note with a last ballad in which 'Roberto Tiranti' offers us a magnificent full performance of emotion in a beautiful crescendo and with a very beautiful guitar solo.

In summary, the Italians from Mangala Vallis' come back with a quality album in a style between pop and rock tinged with progressive with beautiful vocal arrangements and 'Voices' should appeal to an audience who likes the melodic progressive of the years 70/80...

Line Up / Musicians

Gigi Cavalli Cocchi (Drums), Mirco Consolini (Guitar, Bass, Vocal), Roberto Tiranti (Bass, Vocal), Eugenio Cattini (Guitar), Enzo Cattini (Keybords)

Artist : Delain

Album : Apocalypse & Chill

Release Date : 07-02-2020

Added : 07-03-2020

For a few years now, the Dutch of 'Delain' have become an flagship group of symphonic metal and tours have followed one another with in particular guest 'Marco Hietala' of 'Nighwish' (see my last review of Delain here and Marco's studio album here). The last album 'Moonbathers' already dated from 2016 (see here) and the fans were impatient for this release : so, as not to make you languish, 'Apocalypse & Chill' is for me still a total success of this group which has distilled us for over 10 years now a pleasant symphonic metal with a talent to transform each show into a real party. First of all, this last opus is well filled with 13 tracks for a duration of a little less than an hour and for the begenning, with 'One Second', we are directly in the bath with a made in 'Delain,' powerful and catchy, then 'We Had Everything', with its electronic sounds and a rhythm approaching industrial metal (moreover in the last album 'Art Kills' was close to this style) continues in this joyful atmosphere. Without transition, ‘Chemical Redemption’ gives a adding layer with beautiful vocal arrangements and ‘Burning Bridges’ returns to ‘Delain’ already heard but still as effective. With 'Vengeance', the style flirts with that of 'Within Temptation' with an epic symphonic atmosphere that can be found in 'Legions of the Lost' and then, 'To Live is to Die' alternates energetic passages and others quieter while keeping catchy melodic lines with very beautiful choirs. We are already at the 6th composition of the album without having had any real dead time out and we tell ourselves that each of the titles could be played in concert and the second part of the album is not to be outdone by starting with a enticing 'Let's Dance' that the group has already already tested with happiness in live, then, 'Creatures' wants to be heavier and powerful thanks to a marked mid-tempo but what emerges from this title is for me the magnificent air performance from 'Charlotte Wessels' in opposition to the power of the title. After so much energy, ‘Ghost House Heart’ accompanies us on a beautiful semi-acoustic ballad with a beautiful trio of vocals/piano/violin. I pass on 'Master of Destiny', which was already present on 'Hunter's Moon' and 'Legions of the Lost' already mentioned above and the album ends with a new potential hit 'The Greatest Escape' and an instrumental 'Combustion 'which gives pride of place to the guitarist 'Timo Somers' who shows us all his talent with as a bonus a remarkable 'Floydian' introduction

In summary, as you will have understood, the Dutch of 'Delain' are still releasing an album with no real dead time and demonstrate that they know how to renew themselves by bringing diversity in their compositions by borrowing from different styles of metal and, therefore, with 'Apocalypse & Chill', they should further increase their fans base and become from now an essential group of the metal scene...

Line Up / Musicians

Charlotte Wessels (Vocal), Timo Somers (Guitar), Martijn Westerholt (Keybords), Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije (Bass), Joey Marin De Boer (Drums)

Artist : Operose

Album : Oceans of Starlight

Release Date : 07-02-2020

Added : 20-03-2020

After a first album in 2017 (see here), the British ‘Operose’ released a new album ‘Oceans of Starlight’. They evolve in a symphonic metal style and the singer 'Jennifer Coleman' is a mezzo-soprano who uses her lyric singing in all titles that can make think of 'Therion' group (see last album here) because Jennifer can recall 'Lori Lewis' but also 'Heidi Parviainen' from 'Dark Sarah' (see here).

These are 8 tracks for a duration of 44 minutes which are offered to us with a remarkable variety between energy and serenity with from the beginning, a fast and powerful 'Battle Swan' in which the powerful song of 'Jennifer Coleman' works wonders. With 'Oceans of Starlight' which remains in a energetic tempo, the parallel with 'Therion' is quite obvious not only on the vocal level but also in the rhythm and in the melodic lines, then, 'Lost Horizon' offers us a heady melody in an atmosphere still very close to 'Therion' but this time much quieter with a new flawless performance by Jennifer. And it is in an even more symphonic atmosphere that 'Operose' takes its full dimension with' This Life of Mine 'which unrolls a melody borrowed from the classic and which also offers a remarkable rhythmic section shifted and the following scrolls through 'Nothing Left' , a mid-tempo in the melodic lines of the metal opera 'Beloved Antechrist', the short instrumental 'Sleeping Tides' which gives us a break in the form of a concerto for piano with beautiful choirs before going back to the powerful and energetic 'Octavian' much more progressive with different changes of tempo and beautiful alternations between vocal and instrumental parts. It is with the 12 minutes of 'The Actium Suite' that the album ends in beauty with an instrumental based on melodic lines of metallic orchestral music and if you are fans of electric guitars with classic soarings of presto movements, you will be delighted with this composition (metal groups often make this kind of mixture like for example 'The Four Seasons' from the group 'Vivaldi Metal Project').

In summary, the English of 'Operose' released a remarkable album of symphonic metal with a tasty mix between classical music and metal and 'Oceans of Starlight 'is recommended for those who appreciate formations like 'Thérion' for the lyric song and the melodic lines and 'Roman Rouzine' (see here) for the instrumental side...

Line Up / Musicians

Jennifer Coleman (Vocal), Joe McGurk (Guitar), Mike Bridge (Bass), Steve Hauxwell (Drums)

Artist : Rope And Ladder

Album : Rope And Ladder

Release Date : 07-02-2020

Added : 21-03-2020

‘Rope And Ladder’ is a rock opera composed by multi-instrumentalist and singer ‘Jay Clark’ and written by drummer ‘Ryan Dolen’. The theme tells an epic story loaded with intrigue of war, love and betrayal. Overall, those who liked the two last reviews of rock operas, 'Jesus Christ the Exorcist' from 'Neal Morse' and the project 'Magoria' de 'Mark Bogert' should also join this album which brings together different styles ranging from symphonic rock to powerful rock with a few forays into the progressive and with melodies that tame quite quickly which makes it a very accessible opus.

After the instrumental 'Overture' which sets the scene with a peaceful and atmospheric symphonic atmosphere, the short 'Lost Cause' gives us a first glimpse of this opera which begins calmly with the beautiful voice of 'Leila Tunnell' and which rises quickly enough in power for a first heady melody on a slow tempo, then, 'Moonlight / Sunrise' takes up almost the same theme on the same tempo with a new crescendo which leads to a part with a powerful bass embellished with harmonious piano arpeggios and a remarkable vocal performance by 'Jay Clark'. With 'Corruption / A Call To Arms', after a calm introduction, the tempo flies away after a minute for a catchy part with an original instrumental section then the style becomes heavier and more powerful at the end, then, 'The Conspiracy' continues on a marked rhythm with a new melody which immediately enters the head and 'The Invasion' continues in this style with a heavier side, just like the short 'Price' which further accentuates the energetic side with a much more aggressive song. The rest of the album continues to offer us beautiful melodies pleasant to listen to and remarkable alternations between serenity and power as in 'Betrayed / Condemned', the album ending beautifully with the longest title, 'Dust' which, while keeping accessible melodic lines adds a few forays into the progressive.

In summary, with this rock opera, the Americans of ‘Rope And Ladder’ offer us a beautiful album, pleasant to listen to and which should appeal to an audience who likes symphonic, melodic rock with a touch of progressive...

Line Up / Musicians

Jay Clark (Guitar, Bass, Piano, Vocal), Ryan Dolen (Drums) + Guests : Josh Knowles (Violin), Leila Tunnell (Vocal), Russ Robar (Trompette), Christian Olsen (Organ), Thomas Cadrin (Guitar), Alex Lach, Chris Flaherty, Spencer Holland, Andy O'Laughlin, Nick Thompson, Thomas Cadrin, Ben Curran, Devin Mauch, Jay Clark et Ryan Dolen (Choirs)

Artist : Sedate Illusion

Album : Ungod Me

Release Date : 01-02-2020

Added : 06-03-2020

I discovered the Greeks of 'Sedate Illusion' in 2016 with their 5th album 'Glass Delusion' (the first 2 albums are not on Spotify but available on you tube here and here) and, at the time, they had made me a strong impression. 2020 therefore sees the release of ‘Ungod Me’ and they have further evolved from its predecessor by offering us an album with impeccable production worthy of the greatest progressive groups mixing rock and metal. This is a concept album that deals with criticism of religion in the broad sense of which its representatives claim to be above the law and from the outset, with the short spoken introduction, the theme is given.

'Perspective', which opens the album, is one of 4 tracks of more than 8 minutes that takes us on an inventive progressive style alternating power and calm like this beautiful passage in the 3rd minute with religious choirs mixed with electronic sounds in which comes to be grafted a beautiful guitar solo then which gains momentum for a powerful final with an accessible melodic frame in which 'Vangelis Kakarougkas', which has almost shown us his talent as a singer, shows us that of keyboardist. After this first remarkable title, 'Descending' continues on this solid path with a new composition of more than 8 minutes which continues to alternate contrasting atmospheres with melodic lines always accessible and a magnificent final in crescendo in which 'Vangelis Kakarougkas' always repeat the same sentence. Without transition the third title of more than 8 minutes 'Ellipsism' rolls out with always the same energy but then brings quieter passages with an acoustic guitar and the whole makes me think of a mixture between the two groups of 'Steven Wilson', 'Porpcupine Tree' and 'Blackfield' (see last album here). With the powerful 'Forever' that follows, we move away from the progressive and it is certainly the most accessible title of the album with a classic verse/chorus construction and a melody in the chorus that never leaves you, then, 'Rain' is also in this same register with two suberb solos of keyboards and guitar. With 'Reach The Sun', the last track of more than 8 minutes, the slow tempo of the beginning makes one think of 'Blackfield' and it is undoubtedly the most contrasted track with alternations between calm parts and others which explode in a heavy power with then frequent enough rhythm changes to finish on the heavy tempo of the beginning with a beautiful melody taken up in choruses and the last title 'Withered Roses' is a cover of the album '0545' of 2010 which already showed the undeniable talent of this group.

In summary, this last album of the Greeks of 'Sedate Illusion' confirms all the good point that I thought of them : 'Ungod Me' is a very good surprise for this beginning of 2020 and should reach a whole audience of metal fans of melodic and accessible progressive...

Line Up / Musicians

Vangelis Kakarougkas (Keybords, Vocal), Anastasios Kibizis (Guitar), Vangelis Glavinas (Bass), Antreas Alamanos (Drums)

Artist : Serenity

Album : The Last Knight

Release Date : 31-01-2020

Added : 22-02-2020

Just over two years after 'Lionheart' (see review here), we find the Austrians of 'Serenity', led by singer 'Georg Neuhauser' with a new album 'The Last Knight'. The recipe is now well established with an epic and symphonic metal style which was already in the previous opus at its climax and this time, it is the story of the Roman Emperor Maximilian I which is told in 'The Last Knight'.
After the symphonic instrumental introduction with its grandiose choruses containing all the ingredients of a film music of knights to conquer the grail, 'Invictus' sets the scene with a first refrain that never lets you go, then, 'Set The World on Fire' adds a layer with melodic lines which should be taken over by the whole audience in concert. And to drive the point home, ‘Keeper of the Knights’ and ‘Souls and Sins’ continue in this path and send us two new songs with simple but terribly effective melodic lines. Without transition, 'Kingdom My Kingdom Comes', on a title alternating different tempos, brings a certain variety and recalls certain titles of the first opus of ‘Serenity’ and ‘Queen of Avalon’ returns to the epic atmosphere with a new heady refrain. After so much energy, it is with ‘My Farewell’ that the well-deserved break arrives also showing the Austrians' talent for power ballads, admittedly commun, but which nonetheless remains very effective. The last titles return to the style of the beginning of the album, with first 'Down to Hell' and a new refrain which remains anchored, then, the powerful and fast 'Wings of Pride' and 'Call To Arms' with remarkable refrains and a catchy rhythm, and finally, the beautiful resumption in acoustics of 'Souls And Sins' with a beautiful accompaniment on acoustic guitar which completely transforms this title.

In summary, the Austrians of 'Serenity' continue the momentum of 'Lionheart' and 'The Last Knight' contains hymns which will undoubtedly be taken up in concert and which will make happy with their fans but also with an audience loving an epic and symphonic power metal...

Line Up / Musicians

Georg Neuhauser (Vocal), Fabio d'Amore (Guitar, Bass, Chœurs), Christian "Chris" Hermsdörfer (Guitar, Chœurs), Andreas Schipflinger (Drums, Chœurs) + Guest : Herbie Langhans (Vocal)

Artist : Amberian Dawn

Album : Looking for You

Release Date : 31-01-2020

Added : 23-02-2020

After a refreshing 'Darkness of Eternity' in 2017 (see here), the Finns of 'Amberian Dawn' led by the keyboardist player 'Tuomas Seppälä' release a new album 'Looking for You' which is already the 9th and their label of 'Abba Métal' has never been so appropriate.
Let's start with the compositions which could all have been written in the 70s so the melodies are close to those of the Swedes : 'United' opens the ball with keyboards which constitute the very basis of the melodic lines, the guitars being relegated to the background and in the solos, then, 'Eternal Fire Burning' continues with a catchy rhythm, followed by one of the hits from the album 'Looking for You' and 'Two Blades' with its choruses and melodic lines which seem familiar to us, continues in this well traced path. The other compositions also in the same style are ‘Go for a Ride’ and ‘Butterfly’ which is another melodic jewel and we say that, on this type of light and joyful compositions, the pupil is largely at the level of the master. In the ballad section, ‘Universe’ and the instrumental short ‘Au Revoir’ are also in the fabric of ’ABBA’ and bring us back to those of the Swedes; the only title that stands out is ‘Symphony Nr. 1 Part 3 - Awakening’ which is a symphonic and theatrical title in which the contribution of ‘Fabio Leone’ offers us a beautiful vocal duet with Päivi.

In summary, the Finns of 'Amberian Dawn' continue to claim loud and clear their 'ABBA metal' label and it is not the muscular cover of 'Lay All Your Love on Me' of the Swedes who can say opposite; the similarity does not end there since, if we withdraw the cover of 'ABBA' and the remastered bonus track 'Cherish My Memory' of 2014, out of the 9 remaining tracks of 'Looking for You', 8 are all light and catchy melodic jewelry which brings us back to the Swedish albums which were also well supplied with hits and it is a safe bet that, if they had participated at eurovision in the 70s, they would certainly have done as well as their eldests...

Line Up / Musicians

‘Capri’ Päivi Virkkunen (Vocal), Tuomas Seppälä (Keybords), Emil Pohjalainen (Guitar), Jukka Hoffren (Bass), Joonas Pykälä-aho (Drums) + Guest : Fabio Leone (Vocal)

Artist : Serious Black

Album : Suite 226

Release Date : 31-01-2020

Added : 25-02-2020

I had presented the light side of 'Serious Black' with 'First Light' which was an acoustic album containing compositions from their previous albums (see here) and 2020 saw the release of a new studio recording 'Suite 226'. So we find the Germans with their electric instruments which distill us a melodic power metal starting with an energetic 'Let Me Go' with a remarkable first vocal performance of 'Urban Breed' and a first chorus that never leaves you, then, 'When The Stars Are Right' continues in this power with a energetic rhythmic section. Follows ‘Solitude Etude’ with a new very effective chorus and ‘Fate of All Humanity’ changes its register because it is closer to AOR. As for 'Castiel', after an introduction which could make think of a ballad, the tempo then accelerates for a new catchy title and a new beautiful performance of 'Urban Breed' in a rather high register, and 'Heaven Shall Burn' continues with a more classical title and aggressive guitar riffs, then, 'Way Back Home', on a fast tempo is less powerful and closer to melodic rock, like the following title 'We Still Stand Tall'. The album ends with 'Come Home' which is a magnificent ballad and finally, my favorite of the album, 'Suite 226', which takes us for almost 9 minutes in a title in several parts, alternating energy and appeasement with a last admirable vocal performance by 'Urban Breed'.

In summary, the Germans from 'Serious Black' released a very successful melodic power metal album with compositions offering great diversity and 'Suite 226' is intended to please a fairly large audience who liked a powerful and melodic metal...

Line Up / Musicians

Urban Breed (Vocal), Dominik Sebastian (Guitar), Mario Lochert (Bass), Ramy Ali (Drums)

Artist : A Life Divided

Album : Echoes

Release Date : 31-01-2020

Added : 26-02-2020

The Germans of 'A Life Divided', whose last album 'Human' dates from 2015, released a new album 'Echoes' at the end of January 2020. We are still in New Waves influences of the 80s when electro took off and rock groups like 'Depeche Mode' were at the top of the bill. But, to these influences, they add an undeniable talent for effective and very accessible melodies and this on the whole album : 'Hello Emptiness' which begins is certainly one of the most tormented tracks of the album with a rhythm quite slow but from 'Dry Your Eyes', the chorus and the electronic arrangements take us back a few decades back on a more carefree note and 'Addiced' accelerates the rhythm for a catchy track that we immediately appropriate. The continuation continues in this way with electronic sounds with for example, 'Confronted' which has a little taste of 'Shout' from 'Tears for Fears' released in 1985 or 'Enemy' with its marked tempo typical of the 80s or even' Circles' and its addictive refrain made to be sung in unison by a whole audience.

In summary, this latest album from 'A Life Divided' is made to have a good time to the rhythm of catchy and light compositions with electronic sounds that take us back a few decades and, if you like bands like 'Depeche Mode', 'Duran Duran' or 'Tears for Fears' in the 80s, this album is for you definitely...

Line Up / Musicians

Erik Damköhler (Guitar, Keybords, Programmations), Jürgen Plangger (Vocal), Korl Fuhrmann (Drums), Mike Hofstätter (Guitar), Toby Egger (Bass), Tony Berger (Guitar)

Artist : Tinsley Ellis

Album : Ice Cream In Hell

Release Date : 31-01-2020

Added : 28-02-2020

After the very good ‘Winning Hand’ in 2018, ‘Tinsley Ellis’ continues on his way and released a new studio recording ‘Ice Cream In Hell’. We thus find a blues/rock in the purest American tradition with compositions in which the electric guitar of Tinsley takes an important part that it is in the solos which are well supplied but also in accompaniment of song as he knows so remarkably how to do it. Whether in a catchy style like 'Last One To Know' which recalls the late 'Joe Cocker' or the catchy boogie / rock 'Foolin' Yourself ', simple but so effective or even' Sit Tight Mama 'in the style of the King , but also in a much quieter and more intimate style like the classic 'Hole In My Heart' but very emotional or 'Ice Cream In Hell' with funky rhythm or the magnificent title ending the album 'You're Love's Like Heroin 'in which he shows an emotional power to his paroxysm whether in his singing but also in his guitar playing, he entertains us over the entire length of this 'Ice Cream In Hell' and spent the last notes of 'You' re Love's Like Heroin', we only have one desire, it's to press the play button again.
In short, as you will have understood, 'Tinsley Ellis' is one of those blues artists who perpetuate in the best way that it is a style which was at the origin of a lot of genres of music and 'Ice Cream In Hell' is intended not only for fans of authentic blues/rock but also for a large audience who will undoubtedly be touched by so much talent...

Line Up / Musicians

Tinsley Ellis (Guitar, Vocal), Kevin McKendree (Keybords, Guitar), Steve Mackey (Bass), Lynn Williams (Drums, Percussions), Jim Hoke (Saxophone), Quentin Ware (Trompette)

Artist : Autumn’s Child

Album : Autumn’s Child

Release Date : 31-01-2020

Added : 29-02-2020

I told myself that since 2019, we no longer had at the start of the year the new album of 'Last Autumn's Dream', 'Fourteen' having been released in early 2018 and 'Mikael Erlandsson' having decided to record a solo album 'Capricorn Six' in 2019, here is 2020 which sees the release of the same album… no, I'm told in the headset that despite a fairly similar cover, this is not a 7th solo album but, after the split of 'Last Autumn's Dream', a brand new project under the name of 'Autumn's Child'; well, the Swede has made a new child and the baby is doing well : exit 'Nalle Pählsson', 'Peter Söderström', 'Ulf Wahlberg' and 'Jamie Borger' and hello the new kids with 'Pontus Åkesson' on lead guitar , 'Claes Andreasson' playing acoustic guitar and additional keyboards and the joysticks of this first opus, 'Jona Tee' (HEAT) on keyboards, 'Hired Guns' on bass and 'Robban Bäck' on drums (Eclipse, WET). Given the pedigree of each artist, there is no need to make you languish : we are on the right foot in a melodic rock which has become a Scandinavian specialty with an impressive number of formations which gravitate in this style of music. But we must admit that 'Mikael Erlandsson' has this talent for composing melodic nuggets which are all remarkable both in energetic titles like the catchy 'Glory' with Hispanic intonations or 'Cryin for Love' and his chorus that enter directly into your head or even 'Face the Music' and 'You're Breaking My Heart Again' influenced by the 80s, but also in ballads and the album includes three magnificent 'Victory', 'Sayonare Eyes' and 'Heaven Knows Your Name' and an equally memorable mid-tempo, 'Everytime'.

In summary, it is still a beautiful album that we concocted 'Mikael Erlandsson' which is in the continuity of his old formation 'Last Autumn's Dream' and, therefore, 'Autumn's Child' should please a large audience loving an efficient and accessible melodic rock from the first listening...

Line Up / Musicians

Mikael Erlandsson (Vocal, Piano, Guitar), Claes Andreasson (Guitar, Keybords), Pontus Åkesson (Guitar), Jona Tee (Keybords), Robban Bäck (Drums), Hired Guns (Bass)

Artist : Ravenword

Album : Transcendence

Release Date : 31-01-2020

Added : 01-03-2020

'Ravenword' was formed 13 years ago by keyboardist 'Davide Scuteri' and after a first demo, it followed a long period of inactivity and 2016 saw the reformation of the Italian combo to finally lead to a first studio recording in early 2020 'Transcendence'. This first opus is inspired by the poem 'The Raven' ('The Raven') by Edgar Allen Poe 'who is an author who often returns in the influences of metal groups (see for example 'Aeternitas' and their album 'Tales of the Grotesque' released in 2018). After a first listening, I have the impression to return to the beginning of the symphonic metal at the end of the 90s, with a preponderant use of keyboards, the guitar riffs being relegated to the second plan but while keeping energy and power of this style.
From the first title 'Blue Roses', we discover in a catchy and accessible melody the singing of 'Chiara Tricarico' which is not an unknown since she already has several projects to her credit with among others 'Temperance' (see last albums in which she participated here and here) but also another project ‘Moonlight Haze’ and her register fits perfectly with the group's cheerful style. Follows ‘Life Is Your Hands’ which continues in this way with a new melody immediately assimilated and a nice alternation between sung and instrumental parts, then ‘No More’, with its catchy tempo also offers judicious tempo changes. ‘Lullaby of the Last Petal’, well placed after the fiery ‘No More’ is the first ballad break in which ‘Chiara Tricarico’ shows that she is also very comfortable in calmer moments. With 'Purity', one of my favorites from the album, I have the impression of returning to the melodic lines of the first 'Nightwish', at the end of the 90s, especially since in some parts, Chiara has intonations similar to what 'Tarja' was doing at the time and 'Rain of Stars' which follows is also in this style. The sequel continues to scroll through compositions all as melodic as each other, the catchy 'Queen of Darkness' with very beautiful vocal arrangements, the energetic 'What I Need' with some growls, a new beautiful ballad 'The Swan Song' then 'Dylan' and 'Crismon Lake', both near of 7 minutes, which are undoubtedly the two most sought-after and varied titles in the album and it is with the magnificent mid-tempo 'The Distance' with folk accents and a memorable ballad of almost 8 minutes which brings us back to the begining of 'Nightwish' that the album finishes.

In summary, the Italians of 'Ravenword' released an album of symphonic metal quite remarkable, varied and alternating beautifully energy and serenity, and, even if their style does not necessarily bring anything new to the genre, 'Transcendence' will undoubtedly be very well received by a whole public which follows symphonic metal since its beginnings in the course of the 90s...

Line Up / Musicians

Chiara Tricarico (Vocal), Davide Scuteri (Keybords), Cesare Ferrari (Guitar, Bass), Michele Olmi (Drums)

Artist : Moon Reverie

Album : Moon Reverie

Release Date : 31-01-2020

Added : 03-03-2020

'Moon Reverie' is the project of guitarist 'Luca Poma' who is well known and renowned in the world of metal and hard rock for having collaborated with artists like 'Uli Jon Roth' or 'Vinnie Moore' or 'Kee Marcello' (see chronicle here). He therefore released a first album under the name of his project and embarked for the occasion the singer ‘Luca Pozzi’, the keyboard player ‘Nicola Leonesio’ and the drummer ‘Manuel Togni’. The style of the Italian is neo-classical hard rock with multiple influences ranging from power metal to symphonic metal through melodic metal.

These are 12 tracks for over an hour of music available to us and after the short instrumental introduction where we already feel a nice fusion between the keyboards of 'Nicola Leonesio' and the guitar of 'Luca Poma', 'Forgiveness' starts strong with an energetic title in a power metal style dear to the Italians which offers us a first melodic refrain at desired, then, 'I Will Come For You' is a more hard-rock composition which brings us back to the 70s/80s with the keyboards which play an important role and which can make think of formations like 'Deep Purple' or 'Rainbow', and 'Say Forever' changes again register for a much more melodic rock title close to AOR style. After his first 3 tracks quite different from each other, 'Eyes' continues in an energetic hard-rock of the 80s with a remarkable performance on the song of 'Luca Pozzi' who has a powerful voice rather acute which goes perfectly with this genre of composition, then 'In My Heart' is the ballad that any melodic hard-rock group would have liked to compose and 'The Raven' comes back to power metal with a fast tempo and an unleashed guitar solo from 'Luca Poma'. We then find the 'First And Last' which, after the flamenco introduction to the classical guitar, brings us back to powerful and melodic hard-rock from the 80s, then 'On the Edge' continues in this register and we can’t keep from making a parallel with 'Rainbow' especially since the guitar solo of 'Luca Poma' is very close to what 'Ritchie Blackmore' could do at the time. With the ballad 'Far Above', we go back to the 70s with a nice mix between 'Deep Purple' and 'Led Zeppelin' and 'End of Times' is also in this vein with a folk side and melodic lines that could claim, this time, the new 'Ritchie Blackmore' with his companion 'Candice Night' (see here). And then there is this last instrumental track 'Moon Rêverie Suite' which is tailor-made for those nostalgic for keyboards/guitar battles which were one of the hard rock specialties of the 70s with groups like 'Deep Purple' and who puts forward 'Luca Poma' and 'Nicola Leonesio' in a superb melodic title and catchy with classic sounds mixing very beautiful acoustic and electric parts.

In summary, this magnificent album of 'Luca Poma' brings us back with a modern sound a few decades back to the time of the big hard-rock groups with very talented artists and 'Moon Reverie' is to be recommended to all those and those who like to mix metal and melodic hard-rock...

Line Up / Musicians

Luca Poma (Guitar, Bass, Choirs), Manuel Togni (Drums), Luca Pozzi (Vocal), Nicola Leonesio (Keybords, Choirs)

Artist : Leecher

Album : Deviant

Release Date : 31-01-2020

Added : 04-03-2020

After 'Sightless' in 2016, the Hungarians of 'Leecher' who evolve in a symphonic metal with cellos and drums as their only instruments like 'Apocalyptica' group (see their latest album here), release a new album ‘Deviant’, but unlike the Finns, they integrate a singer 'Anett Horváth' and their style is much more symphonic with tones close to classical music.

After the short and calm introduction 'Harvester of Calamity' in which 'Anett Horváth' rocks us with his soft voice, 'Infinite Greed' is an energetic first track with remarkable vocal arrangements both in terms of choirs and different voices and the cellos blend wonderfully well on the whole, then, 'One-Second Confusion', whose video is above, takes us on an effective and catchy melody. With the beginning of ‘Rainmaker’, the cellos accentuate the melancholic side, then the title gets bigger and then alternates in a nice way the calm and powerful parts. With the beginning of ‘Rainmaker’, the cellos accentuate the melancholic side, then the title is getting power and then alternates in a nice way the calm and powerful parts. The sequel scrolls 'How Close Is Too Far', in a more classic symphonic metal, 'Messenger of Fear' with its addictive chorus and its catchy rhythm in an epic atmosphere, the beautiful mid-tempo 'Architect of Fear' with a swaying rhythm , the energetic 'Get Over It' with a new heady chorus and 'Cassandra' is a beautiful melancholic ballad, this feeling being reinforced by the playing of cellos. The album ends with my two favorites from the album, first of all 'Lake of Contradiction' which is the title in which cellos bring the most modernity with frequent tempo changes and finally 'Celestial Alignment' which is a bit of a summary of the whole album and certainly the most varied title with very beautiful arrangements either vocally or instrumentally.

In summary, this second album by the Hungarians of 'Leecher' is a total success and their specificity of using only strings makes it a group apart because they bring out a symphonic metal out of the ordinary and 'Deviant' is to be recommended not only to fans of this style but also to an audience who likes the mix of classical music tones and the strength of metal...

Line Up / Musicians

Anett Horváth (Vocal), Barabás Bótyik (Cello), Ádám Nagy (Cello), Ábel Libisch (Conposings), Dávid Tamási (Drums), Miron Miron Kováts (Cello)

Artist : Bernard Allison

Album : Songs from the Road

Release Date : 31-01-2020

Added : 05-03-2020

We no longer present 'Bernard Allison' to blues-rock fans and the start of 2020 saw the release of a live 'Song from the Road' which is a very good way to get to know this artist who takes his full dimension in concert. In a fairly wide set list which goes from 'Times are Changing' of 1998 ('I Can't Get You out of My Mind') to 'Let It Go' of 2018 which is very well represented ('Night Train', 'Cruisin For A Bluesin', 'Same Ole Feeling', 'Backdoor Man' and 'You're Gonna Need Me'), he takes us for an hour and a quarter in his musical world accompanied by talented musicians and with impeccable production. So these are 13 tracks available to us and apart from the fabulous blues 'Let's Try It Again' of almost 10 minutes and 'You're Gonna Need Me' which are from his father 'Luther Allison', the 11 other titles are all from his compositions : we navigate between funky atmospheres like in 'Night Train' or 'Call Me Momma' or even 'Meet Me Half Way', blues/rock with 'Stay with Me Tonight' or 'I Can't Get You out of My Mind' or 'Feels Kinda Funny', sensual blues with 'You're Gonna Need Me' or 'Let's Try Again' and jazzy atmosphere with 'Cruisin for a Bluesin' : Impossible to remain frozen in front of the simple but very effective 'Something's Wrong' or in the guitar solo of 'Slide Master'. We can also note, in addition to the remarkable performance of 'Bernard Allison' whether on vocals or on guitar, the very beautiful saxophone solos of 'José James' in most titles and to take only one I will quote that of 'Let's Try Again' of almost 2 minutes.

In summary, this live of 'Bernard Allison' is a very beautiful moment of blues declined in all sauces and therefore should undoubtedly please all lovers of blues but is also recommended for all ears because 'Songs from the Road' perpetuates a timeless style which took its roots in the XIX century in the south of the United States...

Line Up / Musicians

Bernard Allison (Guitar, Vocal), George Moyé (Bass), Mario Dawson (Drums), José James (Saxophone, Percussions), Dylan Sulfer (Guitar)

Artist : Eternal Doubt

Album : Tales of Roland Tebute

Release Date : 31-01-2020

Added : 08-03-2020

'Eternal Doubt' is a new power metal band which comes from Italy and which was born from the ashes of two bands, 'Rising Sundown' and 'Utopy' with a first album called 'Tales of Roland Tebute'. But it would be reductive to limit them to this particular style because, after a first listening, they mix multiple influences going from symphonic metal to melodic rock with an important role of keyboards which form the melodic base.

It is with 'Twilight of the Northern Portal' that the album begins and from the introduction, the keyboards of 'Marco Fanton' set the tone on a catchy melody, the guitars coming in support to bring the power and we discover the singing of 'Marco Perazzolo' who makes a remarkable first performance and 'Luca Pegoraro' and 'Marco Fanton' with a magnificent exchange of guitar/keyboards, then 'Devil's Peak' continues in this melodic and catchy style and offers an epic passage narrated and quieter in the middle of the title and then a new masterful guitar solo. Follow the powerful 'Atomic Ballet' in a theatrical style with a magnificent vocal performance of 'Marco Perazzolo', then 'On My Shoulder' changes of register for a calmer and very melodic composition flirting with AOR and 'Following the North Star' takes us into a lively folk/metal atmosphere on a fast tempo then, with 'Make Me Believe', we have a clever mix between melodic rock and power metal. It’s with ‘Eternal. Doubt, Pt 1 'that the break comes with a magnificent ballad with a folk accent, then the short instrumental 'Reaching the Apocalypse', very cinematographic, serves as an introduction to 'Ourmageddon' worthy of the biggest power metal groups by embarking for a fast and epic melody. Change of scene with the last two titles which are one, with first of all 'Ulysses' Speech' and electronic sounds, a disturbing melody and altered voices serving as an introduction to 'Ode to Life' which end the album with a title that takes you far away from metal style and with a simple but hyper-effective melody that stays in your head.

In summary, the Italians of 'Eternal Doubt' release a very beautiful album, always very melodic and marrying quite different genres which destines it to an audience open to different styles going from rock to metal and integrating all kinds of influences...

Line Up / Musicians

Marco "Peppo" Perazzolo (Vocal, Choirs), Luca "Luke" Pegoraro (Guitar), Alberto "Manz" Manzardo (Guitar, Choirs), Marco "faent" Fanton (Keybords), Nicola "Berno" Bernardi (Bass, Guitar, Choirs), Elia "Elica" Sgaggero (Drums, Percussions, Choirs)

Artist : Neopera

Album : In Momeriam

Release Date : 31-01-2020

Added : 28-03-2020

'Neopera' is a new symphonic metal project which was created by artists of metal groups in 2011, the bassist 'Dirk Schlächter' of the group 'Avalanch', the guitarist 'Jörn Schubert' of 'Dark Age' and the drummer of 'Dark Age', 'André Schumann', with in 2014 their first album 'Destined Ways'. Their particularity is to have integrated two lyric singers, first of all, the soprano 'Nina Jiers' (which is very close to 'Tarja') and the baritone 'Thorsten Schuck' but with also a singer of Death, 'Mirko Gluschke' and, overall, their style is similar to what 'Therion' can do, the growls being more present than with our Swedish friends.

’In Memoriam’ is not actually a new album but contains two new songs and a second part made up of titles from the first album performed in public and in acoustics. Let's start with the two new titles, first of all 'Euphoria' which begins in a grandiose way and on a fast tempo with the growls of 'Mirko Gluschke', then it is with a melody which immediately enters the head that the lyric singing of Thorsten and Nina makes its appearance, then follows a very beautiful passage, quieter with magnificent choirs and finally, the final regains power with the melodic theme of the beginning. As for ‘Before We Fall’, after a symphonic introduction to ‘Within Temptation’, there are beautiful melodic lines in which the different vocal registers alternate with beautiful duets between the two lyric singers. Regarding the acoustic part, the compositions, all from the first album, highlight the three singers who use their clear or lyrical song for the occasion and we are quite far from the metal of the original opus, the 6 tracks distilling beautiful melodic lines, the accompaniments with a piano and with strings reinforcing this classic side and even if 'Remote' and 'Destined Ways' are a little more energetic, the general mood of the compositions remains quite calm like 'Last Pantomime', 'The Unspeakable' and 'Falling Water'.

In summary, the Germans of 'Neopera' are releasing a very good album which show the two facets of this symphonic metal formation and, while waiting for their next opus, 'In Momeriam' makes us wait and should please to an audience who likes to mix classic and metal and who appreciates lyrical singing...

Line Up / Musicians

Dirk Schlächter (Bass), Jörn Schubert (Guitar), André Schumann (Drums), Thorsten Schuck (Vocal), Nina Jiers (Vocal), Mirko Gluschke (Growls)

Artist : Zio

Album : Flower Torania

Release Date : 25-01-2020

Added : 19-02-2020

'Zio' is the project of drummer 'Jimmy Pallagrosi' (former drummer of 'Karnataka' - see here) who wrote and composed a concept album of progressive rock with prestigious singers who play the 4 characters of the story: we find 'Hayley Griffiths', the former singer of 'Karnataka' who should release an album in 2020 with the 'Hayley Griffiths Band', 'Heather Findlay' the former singer of 'Mostly Autumn' which continues a solo career (see last album here and the last live here),' That Joe Payne 'which was singer of the progressive rock group 'The Enid' and 'Franck Carducci' (see his latest album here). 'Flower Torania' is the story of Alan who has to face trials in three magic realms to be able to recover the Torania flower which will help a little girl names Belbi to smile again beacuse she was condemned to never smile again.
On the music side, it is a progressive opera with quite different atmospheres from each other and this inside the different titles which range from 2 minutes to 8 minutes each. For example, we go from a short melancholic piano/voice introduction ‘Ride Along’ to ‘X-Ray’ which develops a progressive rock alternating calm and energetic passages in which the vocal and instrumental arrangements are sought after and complex. It is in the middle of the opus that we have the 4 longest developments that all come out of the classic progressive schemas with multiple influences between pop, rock and metal and many changes of rhythm within each composition, each bringing great originality but necessarily requiring several listenings to draw fromthem all the richness.

In summary, 'Jimmy Pallagrosi' with talented artists releases an extraordinary progressive opera with multiple juxtaposed influences, which makes it an album quite apart and certainly reserved for an informed public because difficult to tame...

Line Up / Musicians

Jimmy Pallagrosi (Drums), Hayley Griffiths (Vocal), That Joe Payne (Vocal), Heather Findlay (Vocal), Franck Carducci (Vocal), Olivier Castan (Keybords), Lizzie Hayes (Bass), Marc Fascia (Guitar), Richard Henshall (Guitar), Alex Lofocco (Bass), Cagri Tozluoglu (Orchestration), Alfonso Alfano (Accordion)

Artist : Mono Inc.

Album : The Book of Fire

Release Date : 24-01-2020

Added : 09-02-2020

After 'Welcome to Hell' in 2018 (see here), the Germans of 'Mono Inc.' released early 2020 a new studio recording 'The Book of Fire', which is a concept album on the Inquisition, forbidden magic, heresy, persecution and death (what a program!). We thus find the simple and effective catchy melodies of our four Germans who continue to distill a good-natured rock in opposition with themes always quite black and it is not 'The Book of Fire' which will make us say the opposite: if you don't have an irresistible urge to move to the rhythm of titles like 'The Book of Fire', 'Louder Than Hell', 'Shining Light', 'Run for Your Life' or 'The Gods of Love', it's that you are not made for this kind of music. ‘Katha Mia’ is still a real drumming metronome, the deep vocals of ‘Martin Engler’ are still as striking and the mixing of different voices in the refrains is still as effective. Note also beautiful compositions much quieter like ‘Warriors’ or ‘Nemesis’ but also the final instrumental epic ‘What Have We Done’ in the same vein as what ‘Hanz Zimmer’ could do

In summary, the Germans of 'Mono Inc.' release a new album in the continuity of the previous opus and, even if the compositions remain quite similar to each other, they continue to offer us a catchy rock which is now their trademark...

Line Up / Musicians

Martin Engler (Vocal), Carl Fornia (Guitar, Vocal), Manuel Antoni (Bass, Vocal), Katha Mia (Drums, Vocal)

Artist : Temperance

Album : Viridian

Release Date : 24-01-2020

Added : 11-02-2020

'Michele Guaitoli' is a busy singer because between 'Visions of Atlantis' (see their latest album here) and the Italians of 'Temperance', album releases and concerts are multiplying and the last record of the Italians 'Viridian' has just appeared, the previous ‘Of Jupiter and Moons’ dating from 2018 (see here).
From the outset, with 'Mission Impossible' we are in the bath of a symphonic, melodic and catchy metal with a first refrain which immediately enters your head just like that of the following title 'I Am the Fire' and 'Start Another Round' continues in this way; the strong point of the Italians is a vocal section provided with ‘Alessia Scolleti’, ‘Michele Guaitoli’ and guitarist ‘Marco Pastorino’ which reinforces the duo which gives even more force in the choruses. With ‘My Demons Can’t Sleep’, it reminds me of certain melodic lines of ‘Visions Of Atlantis’ and ‘Let It Beat’ is still a melodic gem with a new heady chorus. After so much energy on the first half of the album, comes the mid-tempo 'Scent of Dye' which allows a first break, then, 'The Cult of Mystery' returns to a catchy rhythm and 'Nanook' continues in this energy with some folk influences and a quieter central part with a beautiful children's choir repeating the same melody. 'Gaia' is the second break, this time with a wonderful ride, as the Italians know so well how to do, then the album ends with the short 'Catch The Dream', a capella title close to gospel and quite remarkable, then with 'Lost in the Christmas Dream' which is a Christmas song shifted compared to the rest but which is very festive and which was released as a single at the beginning of December (see video above) like that rock or metal bands have already done (see 'It's Christmas Time' from 'Status Quo' or the album 'Christmas Christmas' of 'Cheap Trick'.

In summary, the Italians of 'Temperance' start well 2020 with this new album which should make some happy people in the world of symphonic metal and certainly beyond because it is filled with catchy melodies and very accessible...

Line Up / Musicians

Alessia Scolletti (Vocal), Michele Guaitoli (Vocal, Piano), Marco Pastorino (Guitar, Vocal), Luca Negro (Bass), Alfonso Mocerino (Drums)

Artist : Revolution Saints

Album : Rise

Release Date : 24-01-2020

Added : 12-02-2020

'Revolution Saints' is a group composed of artists from the melodic hard-rock scene with 'Deen Castronovo' ('Journey', 'Bad English', 'Gioeli - Castronovo') , Doug Aldrich ('Whitesnake', 'Dio') and 'Jack Blades' ('Night Ranger', 'Damn Yankees') who have already released 2 studio albums and the last 'Light In The Dark' dates from 2017 (see < a href=''>here); for this new opus 'Rise', they called on 'Alessandro Del Vecchio', which we no longer present (see the last album in which he participated here), for these talents of keyboardist but also for the production and consequently, taking into account the pedigree of the Italian, one suspects the result all the more that with the 3 artists quoted above, one holds the top of the pavement of melodic hard-rock. Therefore, no surprise, this is a sequel of unstoppable melodies which scroll one after the other and which are remarkably effective from the first listening. We navigate between energetic titles like 'When The Heartache Is Gone', 'Rise' or even 'Higher' and others, more AOR like 'Price The Pay', 'Coming Home' or 'Talk to Me' without forgetting the magnificent ballads 'Closer' and 'Eyes of the Child' .

In summary, even if they do not revolutionize the genre, the Americans of 'Revolution Saints' with the guest of mark, Italian 'Alessandro Del Vecchio', release an excellent album of melodic hard-rock, varied and accessible at the first listening and 'Rise' should delight all lovers of this style which has its roots in the early 80s...

Line Up / Musicians

Deen Castronovo (Drums, Vocal), Jack Blades (Bass, Vocal), Doug Aldrich (Guitar) + invités : Alessandro Del Vecchio (Keybords), Lunakaire (Vocal)

Artist : Decarlo

Album : Lightning Strikes Twice

Release Date : 24-01-2020

Added : 15-02-2020

‘Tommy Decarlo’ is none other than the singer and keyboardist of ‘Boston’ a melodic rock band from the 70s who didn’t release tons of albums but had a great reputation in the United States (see here). With his son guitarist and keyboard player, 'Brett Nelson' on bass and 'Dan Hitz' on drums, he offers us with 'Lightning Strikes Twice' a melodic rock album filled with accessible compositions at the first listening with a feeling of coming back to the 80s. with groups like 'Foreigner', 'Journey', 'Asia' and even 'Eagles' because some titles are westcoast typed as the first title of the album 'A Better Day' and its addictive chorus. Whether in energetic compositions like 'Rock'n'Soul', 'Stand Up' or 'Gotta Go', or AOR titles like 'You Are the Fire', 'Give Love a Try', 'There She Goes' or 'I Think I Fell in Love With You' or the 2 beautiful ballads 'Still in Love' and 'The One', we are seduced by these melodic lines which are tamed immediately.

In summary, the Americans of 'Decarlo' are releasing a very good melodic rock album which takes us back a few decades back and therefore, 'Lightning Strikes Twice' is to be recommended to all those who love the melodic rock of the 80s...

Line Up / Musicians

Tommy DeCarlo (Vocal, Keybords), Tommy DeCarlo Jr (Guitar, Keybords, Vocal), Dan Hitz (Drums), David Netta (Bass), Payton Velligan (Keybords, Guitar, Bass, Vocal), Christian Sturt (Drums)

Artist : Marco Hietala

Album : Pyre of the Black Heart

Release Date : 24-01-2020

Added : 16-02-2020

‘Marco Hietala’, well known in the field of symphonic metal since he is the bassist of ‘Nighwish’, is releasing an album under his own name ‘Pyre of the Black Heart’. Contrary to the style of 'Nightwish' and even if the electric instruments are de rigueur, the compositions are generally less energetic and the titles which remain powerful like 'Stones' and its intonations close to 'Nightwish' or 'Runner of the Railways' with its strong folk influences or 'Death March of Freedom' or even 'Star, sand and shadow' influenced by the 80s, are relatively far from metal but very pleasant to listen to with accessible melodies. As for the other compositions, they are much more intimate, starting with ‘The Voice Of My Father’ which is the first ballad of the album and which emphasizes father-son relationships. In the same vein, we can note the 3 tracks 'Dead God's Son', 'For You' and 'I Am the Way' with a finale that reminds me of the 'Gilmour' period of 'Pink Floyd' with 'High Hopes' (besides 'Nighwish had taken up this title in concert). And it is also with two ballads, 'I Dream' and 'Truth Shall Set You Free' with a magnificent vocal performance by Marco (we are not used to hearing him in this calm and serene register), that the album ends very nicely.

In summary, with this album, 'Marco Hietala' shows us a completely different face than that of the bassist of 'Nighwish', necessarily freer, which allows him, by going to tap into his influences and his origins, to offer us more intimate compositions which for my part have even more emotional force in his native language (see the Finnish version of 'Pyre of the Black Heart' here)...

Line Up / Musicians

Marco Hietala (Vocal, Bass), Tuomas Wäinölä (Guitar), Vili Ollila (Keybords), Anssi Nykänen (Drums)

Artist : Elegy of Madness

Album : Invisible World

Release Date : 24-01-2020

Added : 18-02-2020

After 'New Era' in 2017 (see here), the Italians of 'Elegant of Madness' return with a new album 'Invisible World' and they continue to distill a melodic and easy to access symphonic metal with fairly short titles between 3 and 4 minutes. They have evolved in arrangements with and choirs, 'Anja Irullo' is now much safer in her singing and this in all registers and 'Tony Tomasicchio' now participates in singing here and there with growls which can do think about the style of 'Leaves' Eyes' (see their latest EP here). From the first tracks, we embark on simple but effective melodies in which the guitar riffs are at the same level as the orchestral arrangements made by 'Luca Basile' and the cello of 'Larry Ozen Amati' allows to bring a fundation to the whole. To avoid making title by title, I will quote 'Apnoea' for its chorus that goes straight into your head, the epic 'Aegis of Light' with its changes of tempo and the alternation between the aerial song of Anja and the Tony's growls, 'Kore' for its folkloric side with the use of the flute, 'Fil Rouge' and its electronic effects bringing a certain modernity and the ballad 'Reborn' with a beautiful vocal performance by 'Anja Irullo'.

In summary, even if they do not revolutionize the genre, the Italians of 'Elegant of Madness' released a very good album of symphonic metal with accessible compositions thanks to simple but very effective melodies and 'Invisible World' should therefore appeal to all followers of this style...

Line Up / Musicians

Anja Irullo (Vocal), Tony Tomasicchio (Guitar, Growls), Marco Monno (Guitar), Luca Basile (Cello, Arrangement Orchestre), Larry Ozen Amati (Bass), Francesco Paolo Caputo (Drums)

Artist : Nektar

Album : The Other Side

Release Date : 24-01-2020

Added : 20-02-2020

It is still a legendary group which returns to the front of the scene, I named the English of ‘Nektar’ who started their career more than fifty years ago !! Despite the death of 'Roye Albrighton' in 2016, the 3 other historical members of the debut 'Derek "Mo" Moore', 'Ron Howden' and 'Mick Brockett' (who followed 'Nektar' as lighting manager) decide to continue the adventure with as result a recording gathering new compositions but also compositions which they emerged from their drawers and which had never been completed. Other band members are guitarist 'Ryche Chlanda' who was there in the late 1970s, bass player 'Randy Dembo' who joined 'Nektar' in 2005 and a new young 'Kendall Scott' on keyboards. Also note that former members of 'Nektar', guitarist 'Alex Hoffmeister' and keyboardist 'Klaus Henatsch' released an album under the name 'New Nektar' in 2018 (see here< / a>).
So we embark on a journey through time, and what a journey, because 66 minutes are available to us and 'I'm on fire', which opens the album and which was written by ' Derek "Mo" Moore 'in the late 70s, is a fantastic composition that brings us back to well-known tones from those years and we can hear multiple influences ranging from 'Emerson Lake & Palmer' to the 'Beatles' through 'Deep Purple' all this being mixed in a long progressive development. With 'Skywriter' which was originally in 1978 a song called 'Skypilot' and which had not been recorded, we remain in the influences of the 60s with the 4 boys in the wind and the sounds of organ reminiscent of 'Procol Harum', then, 'Love Is / The Other Side' is the master piece of almost 18 minutes which brings together two titles in a peaceful style with beautiful melodies and remarkable instrumental sections. Follows, 'Drifter' which is made up of several parts, first of all a sung section then a long instrumental section, all bringing us back to the psychedelic style of the 60s and 70s and we cannot help thinking of 'Pink-Floyd' from the late 60's, and 'Devil's Door' (which was played in the mid 70's but never recorded), after a calm introduction to the guitar (which is an old recording of 'Roye Albrighton') is a catchy and rhythmic title. The end of the album scrolls the short instrumental 'The Light Beyond', not necessarily essential, then 'Look Thru Me' which is a nice quiet semi-acoustic ballad and finally, 'Y Cant IB more like U' which brings us back to the time of the beginning of the progressive with a mix between the 'Beatles' in the song part and 'Genesis' for the instrumental part.

In summary, this new album of 'Nektar' marks in a beautiful way the return of the English, faithful to what they did in the 70s, and 'The Other Side' is recommended to all those who love the big groups that participated in the development of progressive rock already fifty years ago...

Line Up / Musicians

Derek "Mo" Moore (Bass, Vocal), Ron Howden (Drums, Vocal), Randy Dembo (Bass, Guitar), Ryche Chlanda (Guitar, Vocal), Kendall Scott (Keybords)

Artist : Michael Thompson Band

Album : High Times – Live In Italy

Release Date : 24-01-2020

Added : 21-02-2020

I presented you 'Michael Thompson Band' with their latest album 'Love & Beyond' and it's the turn of a live to see the light of day, 'High Times - Live In Italy'. At the line up level, we find the artists who participated in 'Love & Beyond', the two members of 'Unruly Child', 'Larry Antonino' on bass and 'Guy Allison' on keyboards (see here) as well as the singer 'Larry King' from 'Soleil Moon' (see here) and the drummer 'Sergio Gonzalez'. The set, of just over an hour, offers 9 tracks that are divided between refined melodic rock influenced by the 70s and 80s and formations like 'Foreigner' (see their last live here ). In addition, this live showcases even more the guitarist talent of 'Michael Thompson' which on most titles offers us magnificent solos (and especially which, for our greatest pleasure are much longer than in studio recordings) as on 'Give Love a Chance' or as in the last three titles, 'Starting Over', 'Wasteland' and 'More Then A Feeling', which are real fireworks. But we can also note remarkable performances of all the artists with a special mention for ‘Larry King’ for singing who shows that it is made for the stage.

In summary, just for the remarkable guitar solos of 'Michael Thompson' and the general atmosphere of the concert, this 'High Times - Live In Italy' is a real listening pleasure and brings us back to the atmosphere of the melodic rock concerts of the 70s and 80s with a modern production because the recording is also of very good quality...

Line Up / Musicians

Michael Thompson (Guitar), Larry King (Vocal), Larry Antonino (Bass, Vocal), Guy Allison (Keybords), Sergio Gonzalez (Drums)

Artist : Crimson Sun

Album : Fates

Release Date : 24-01-2020

Added : 24-02-2020

It is still in the Nordic countries that we go with the Finnish symphonic metal band 'Crimson Sun' which releases its second studio album 'Fates' after a first album already noticed in 2015 'Towards the Light'. It is a fairly short album with 10 tracks between 3 and 4 minutes and their style is influenced by the big names of this style with a majority of energetic and effective titles with catchy choruses with melodic lines that can remind 'Nightwish' ('The Prison'), 'Delain' ('The Best Within', 'Virtual Reality') or 'Within Temptation' ('We Are One'). And who says symphonic metal also says in 90% of the cases presence of a frontwoman, in this case ‘Sini Seppälä’ who shows on all compositions a flawless vocal talent, modulating her voice between the powerful and quieter sections. Overall, the keyboards are on the same level as the guitars and the orchestral and vocal arrangements are always remarkable. And like their elders, they also offer us quieter moments with the mid-tempo 'Overcome' and the last title 'The Last Day o, Earth', which is the longest title, oscillates between power and calm and finishes the album on a magnificent epic and powerful composition.

In summary, the Finns of 'Crimson Sun' release a symphonic metal album with energetic compositions and catchy melodies in the continuity of the first opus and 'Fates' is therefore to be recommended to all fans of this style and even beyond for a public that would like to discover symphonic metal through accessible compositions...

Line Up / Musicians

Sini Seppälä (Vocal), Joni Junnila (Guitar), Jukka Jauhiainen (Bass), Antti Rantavuo (Drums), Miikka Hujanen (Keybords)

Artist : Brothers of Metal

Album : Emblas Saga

Release Date : 20-01-2020

Added : 06-02-2020

It is still in the northern regions in this case Sweden that I take you but this time with 'Brothers of Metal' who have just released a 2nd studio album 'Emblas Saga' after a first success in 2017 with 'Prophecy of Ragnarök. Seen from the outside, we say that we are in line with power metal groups like 'Powerwolf', 'Gloryhammer' or their compatriots from 'Twilight Force', because they perform dressed as warriors and this is not necessarily false when you start listening to this opus with a narrative suggesting an epic side for what is to follow. But, very quickly, we get caught up in the game because, on the one hand, the melodic lines captivate immediately and, then, they offer us real diversity, each title having its own personality which avoids any feeling of monotony. First of all, we will remember the heady melodies that will certainly be resumed in concert and that we are surprised to whistle, with first of all that of 'One' which never leaves you, or that of the beautiful ballad 'Weaver of Fate' or those of 'Njord' and 'Brothers Unite' with their addictive chorus. Then, the vocal section with three completely different registers forms a rather remarkable mixture and ‘Powersnake’ with its folk side is the perfect example but we can also cite ‘Kaunaz Dagaz’ or ‘To the Skies and Beyond’. And finally, as I said above, the variety of titles and their judicious placement means that you never get bored and in this diversity I will quote my favorite from the album, 'Emblas Saga' which is a real progressive saga where all the ingredients that make the strength of this album are together : a magnificent vocal section, an admirable melody and a considerable epic force throughout the title.

In summary, this second Swedish installment of 'Brothers of Metal' is a real success and 'Emblas Saga' should be intended for a relatively large audience not necessarily a fan of power metal because the whole is very accessible thanks to simple but effective melodies...

Line Up / Musicians

Mats Nilsson (Vocal), Joakim Lindbäck Eriksson (Vocal), Ylva Eriksson (Vocal), Dawid Grahn (Guitar), Mikael Fehrm (Guitar), Pähr Nilsson (Guitar), Emil Wärmedal (Bass), Johan Johansson (Drums)

Artist : Antena White Opera

Album : Ouroboros

Release Date : 20-01-2020

Added : 13-02-2020

'Antenna White Opera' is a project created in 2015 by Italians 'Lorenzo Armagno' and 'Davide Piombino' with a first album in 2018 (see here) and 2020 sees the release of a 2nd studio recording 'Ouroboros' and the least we can say is that they do not make the buzz on the web while their album is quite remarkable and they deserve to be known. On the one hand, the compositions of 'Davide Piombino' who is an author, composer, singer and guitarist take us on a rich and inventive progressive mixing rock and metal with a gift for beautiful melodic lines and, on the other hand, they had the good idea to recruit a singer, the Sicilian 'Paola Criscione' who has a voice that fits perfectly into the group's compositions. In addition, the orchestral and arranging work of 'Lorenzo Armagno' is quite remarkable and, even if he doesn't use orchestral instruments, arrives via music production software at a completely stunning result. The album consists of songs sung and others completely instrumental: there are 6 songs sung ('Pile of Boulders', 'Descent', 'Life Expectancy', 'The Great Wall' , 'Infinite Labyrinth' and 'It Ends Like Everything Starts') and the atmospheres are quite varied, with always very nice vocal performances by Paola who has the talent to modulate her voice according to the style, sometimes powerful as in 'Pile of Boulders' and sometimes aerial as in 'Descent', which makes me think of the Brazilians of 'Fleesh' (see the different chronicles of myprogmusic here, here and here). Also note some vocal interventions of Davide, too little for my taste especially when Paola performs the second voice. As for the 3 instrumental tracks ('Obsidian', 'Ouroboros' with a recited passage and 'Carnage'), they develop a sought-after and inventive progressive between rock and metal but we can also note beautiful alternations between sung and instrumental parts in the first 6 titles mentioned above which also make them very beautiful progressive pieces and to illustrate the point, we can cite the longest title of the opus, 'Infinite Labyrinth'.

In summary, the 3 Italians of 'Antena White Opera' released a very promising album which already has all the qualities of progressive music mixing beautiful melodies and remarkable instrumental sections worthy of the best names in the genre which should , I hope, make them known fairly quickly in the progressive sphere...

Line Up / Musicians

Davide Piombino (Guitar), Lorenzo Armagno (Drums), Paola Criscione (Vocal)

Artist : Magnum

Album : The Serpent Rings

Release Date : 17-01-2020

Added : 07-02-2020

And one more for the English of 'Magnum' who released a new album in early 2020 with 'The Serpent Ring' (see the live released early 2019 here and the album 'Lost on the Road Eternity' released in 2018 here). We find the band to 'Bob Catley' and 'Tony Clarkin' who ensures all the compositions with 11 new titles and with a change of bassist, 'Al Barrow' having given way to 'Dennis Ward' who takes part in many projects (among others some recent chronicles of myprogmusic 'First Signal', 'Imperium' and 'Khymera'). They continue to offer us melodic hard-rock in a 70s style and, from the first title 'Where Are You Eden?', we find the paw of 'Tony Clarkin' with a symphonic component which highlights a first effective melody and we can quote in the same genre, 'Madman or Messiah', 'The Archway of Tears', 'Not Forgiven' or even 'House of Kings' (and its jazzy part in the middle) in which we can not help but tap your foot in rythmn. We can also note the beautiful mid-tempo of the title track of the album with an instrumental section which brings a superb touch of progressive, the magnificent power ballade 'The Great Unknown' and the beautiful melody of the last title 'Crimson On The White Sand'.

In summary, the English of 'Magnum' continue to offer us what they have always done best, good melodic hard-rock with foolproof choruses and if you like this style of the seventies, 'The Serpent Rings' should be consumed without moderation...

Line Up / Musicians

Bob Catley (Vocal), Tony Clarkin (Guitar), Rick Benton (Keybords), Dennis Ward (Bass), Lee Morris (Drums)

Artist : Elfika

Album : Secretum Secretorum

Release Date : 17-01-2020

Added : 08-02-2020

'Elfika' is a French group which was created in the early 2010s by the bassist and the songwriter of the group 'Manu P.' and who has just released their first LP containing 3 tracks from the first EP of 2014 which have been re-recorded and 5 new compositions. They are influenced by the big symphonic metal groups like 'Nighwish' or 'Epica' but it would be simplistic to assimilate them to a pale copy of the tenors of the genre because, although some titles are quite close to the standards of this style, they bring a real diversity in each composition with symphonic constructions dotted here and there with progressive.
After the instrumental introduction 'The Chamber Of Secrets' which already reveals a certain modernity in the orchestration, 'So Human' is a first energetic and melodic title in which we discover the frontwoman 'Laure Ali-Khodja' which offers us a remarkable performance alternating clear and lyrical singing and in which the vocal arrangements at the level of the choirs are admirable, then, with 'Angel', we continue in this register resulting with a new very effective melody and beautiful alternations between powerful parts and others quieter. Follows 'The Other' which begins in serenity with a slow tempo which gradually takes power to finish in an energetic rhythm while 'Broken Wings', on the contrary, starts in a lively tempo then, at around 3 minutes, becomes calm and serene, first with a sung part, then instrumental with a remarkable guitar solo and finally returns to the energetic theme of the beginning. It is with 'Dark Virgin' that we hold the flagship title of the album (and my favorite of the album), of almost 13 minutes which takes us on a symphonic-progressive saga with an introduction in which Laure resumes for a minute the beginning of the 'Ave Maria' of 'Gounod' and which gives way to a magnificent melody which offers us very beautiful choirs and which gives me the impression of hearing a mixture of 'A Fade to Gray' from the group 'Visage' from 1981 for the melody and from 'Spirit Chase' from the symphonic metal band 'Imperia' for the choirs (see here) and which presents beautiful alternations between calm and grandiose parts with a magnificent finish in which 'Laure Ali-Khodja' continues to enchant us. The album ends with two titles which already appeared in the first EP, more conventional but very effective, first of all, the energetic and enticing 'Inferno' then finally, the mid-tempo 'One Day' with a last melody that never leaves you (weird on Spotify the title is not in full, too bad !).

In summary, the French of 'Elfika' released a very good album of symphonic metal without copying the big groups of the genre because they bring their own personality by offering varied and accessible compositions which destines' Secretum Secretorum' to a audience loving symphonic metal with accessible melodies...

Line Up / Musicians

Laure Ali-Khodja (Vocal), Manu P. (Bass, Orchestrations) + Guests : Anthony Parker (Guitar), Axel Thomas (Drums)

Artist : Sons Of Apollo

Album : MMXX

Release Date : 17-01-2020

Added : 14-02-2020

After the remarkable 'Live With The Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony' in 2019 (see here), at the first listen, we are embarked on a progressive metal with heavy guitar riffs and an impressive richness on the instrumental level and remarkable vocal performances of 'Jeff Scott Soto' but how could it be otherwise with this skewer of artists with curiculum vitae as long as a month of Sundays. So for sure, like any progressive album, it takes a few listenings to get into each composition and "MMXX" is, for my part, in the continuity of "Psychotic Symphony".

From the introduction of 'Goodbye Divinity', it starts strong in an epic and powerful atmosphere then, 'Mike Portnoy' starts a rhythm section of which he has the secret for a fairly direct energetic title with 'Jeff Scott Soto' which is at the top of its form and with magnificent instrumental parts. Without transition, 'Wither to Black' continues in this debauchery of power with an effective hard-rock which can recall the 70's and some titles of 'Deep Purple', then, 'Asphyxiation' drives the point home with a syncopated rhythmic which accompanies us throughout the title. ‘Desolate July’ comes just in time for a quieter time with a beautiful melody that pays a poignant tribute to ‘David Z’, the bass player of Adrenaline Mob’, who died in a bus accident. With 'King of Delusion', one of my favorites of the album, the progressive palette of the group is at its peak with remarkable alternations between powerful parts and others quieter and a melody with contemporary sounds developed in all its progressive forms in the instrumental parts (magnificent piano parts from 'Derek Sherinian'). 'Fail to Ascend' is also remarkable in its very effective melodic construction and which joins at this level the first title 'Goodbye Divinity', then, 'Resurrection Day', meanwhile, is in the same vein as 'Wither to Black'. And it is with the 16 minutes of 'New World Today' that the album ends and which perfectly illustrates the music of 'Sons of Apollo', a progressive metal in several drawers with sought after instrumental sections in which we find influences multiple across the ages of progressive.

In summary, the Americans of 'Sons of Apollo' demonstrate that they are one of the flagship groups of an energetic progressive metal and 'MMXX' is the logical continuation of their first album but, taking into account the exceptional artists , I would have probably preferred more nuances inside the compositions which are mostly quite linear and direct if we except the two titles which I put forward in this album, 'King of Delusion' and of course the final saga 'New World Today'...

Line Up / Musicians

Jeff Scott Soto (Vocal), Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal (Guitar), Billy Sheehan (Bass), Derek Sherinian (Keybords), Mike Portnoy (Drums)

Artist : Darktribe

Album : Voici l’homme

Release Date : 17-01-2020

Added : 17-02-2020

It is with their 3rd album 'Here is the man' that I discover the French of 'Darktribe' who already have a decade of existence and a first album released in 2012, (’Mysteceti Victoria’). In a power metal style, they offer us a concept album inspired by the New Testament in the form of 10 very effective compositions with melodic lines that make ‘Here is the man’ a very accessible opus.
After the epic instrumental introduction in use in this kind of album, 'Prism of Memory' gives us a first addictive refrain on a catchy tempo which reminds me of certain metal formations like 'Visions of Atlantis' (see their last album here) or 'Serenity' (chronicle to come from the last album and album released in 2017 here) or even 'Kamelot' (see their last album here), then 'Here is the man' continues on this path with a new melody in which 'Anthony Agnello' alternates beautifully the English and French language in the chorus. With ‘A Silent Curse’, it’s another melodic gem with a beautiful instrumental section in the second part of the title and, ’Faith and Vision’ then ‘Back in Light’ put a layer again with two new simple but terribly effective choruses. The sequel scrolls the powerful mid-tempo 'Under the Three of Life', a catchy 'According to Darkness' with a remarkable guitar solo and a slower and heavier final tempo change in decrescendo, then the power ballade' The Hunger Theory 'which has nothing to envy of the best ballads of the genre, and finally, 'Symbolic Story' which concludes the album with certainly the most energetic composition.

In summary, the French of 'Darktribe' are releasing a power metal album that is pleasant to listen to with effective melodies and 'Here is the man' should appeal to an audience who likes accessible power metal that can be assimilable from the first listen...

Line Up / Musicians

Anthony Agnello (Vocal), Loïc Manuello (Guitar), Bruno Caprani (Bass), Julien Agnello (Drums)

Artist : MOON HALO

Album : Chroma

Release Date : 13-01-2020

Added : 27-03-2020

I come back to the new project 'MOON HALO' whose first album 'Chroma' was already released in early January 2020 because it brings together artists that I particularly like with the singer 'Mark Atkinson' from 'Riversea' and who takes part in different projects like 'Lee Abraham' or 'Drifing Sun', the keyboardist ‘Iain Jennings’ of 'Mostly Autumn', the bassist 'David Clements' also from 'Riversea' and drummer 'Alex Cromarty' who is participating in the 'Mantra Vega' project created by 'Heather Findlay' and also that of 'Dave Kezner'. With this beautiful skewer, we say that we are going to bathe in a calm and serene progressive rock but, despite some titles in the trend of the formations mentioned above, it is not quite the qualifier that came to me in mind listening to 'Chroma' !

With the first two titles 'The Web' and 'Seize the Day', we are not strictly speaking in the moods of 'Mostly Autumn' or 'Riversea' but rather in a return to rock with sounds electronics of the 80s and this is not unpleasant at all because we get caught up in the game with simple but very effective melodic lines and a chorus for 'The Web' which remains anchored in our head and another heady melody for 'Sixteen the Day '. In the same style, we can mention the catchy 'Parachute', 'What's Your Name' with an eighties pop atmosphere, the funky 'Let Me Out', 'Awoken' bringing us back to the international pop of the 80s or even 'Rise Up' with its disco rhythm. In contrast, we find compositions more in tune with the pedigree of the artists of 'MOON HALO', starting with the short atmospheric instrumental 'Chroma', the vintage ballad 'The Veil' with its long final solo which certainly cannot leave indifferent those who knew the 80s, then, 'Somebody Save Us' is also a beautiful ballad much more in the style of 'Riversea' with a 'Gilmourien' guitar solo then 'Seventh Heaven' is, this time, close to melancholy of 'Mostly Autumn' and 'Across the Great Divide' is more progressive in a style close to 'Blackfield' and finally, it is in the serenity of 'Don't Let It End Like This' that the album ends with some (too few) vocalizations by Olivia Sparnenn'.

In summary, it is certain, this new project 'MOON HALO' is intended for an audience open to different styles and offers only a few rare forays into the progressive which should, given the line up, to confuse some but, for me, 'Chroma' is an album like we don't do anymore, of a great freshness and a great spontaneity which were one of the peculiarities of the 80s and, I hope that, despite the different routes of the basic trio, we'll can pretend to the album number 2...

Line Up / Musicians

Marc Atkinson (Vocal), Iain Jennings (Keybords), David Clements (Bass), Alex Cromarty (Drums) + Guests : Martin Ledger (Guitar), Mikey Gibson (Guitar), Anne-Marie Helder (Chœurs), Janine Atkinson (Chœurs), Tammy Pawson (Chœurs), Olivia Sparnenn-Josh (Chœurs)

Artist : Apocalyptica

Album : Cell-O

Release Date : 10-01-2020

Added : 04-02-2020

Early 2020 saw the release of a new Apocalyptica album, ‘Cell-O’. The Finns made themselves known almost 25 years ago with instrumental covers of ‘Metallica’ in a rather surprising way with cellos as their only instruments. Since then, they have evolved to add drums and have called on singers to add a vocal section on certain compositions (see their latest album 'Shadowmaker').
With this last opus, after having made the music for the film 'Aquarela' (see here), they return to their beginning since 'Cell-O' is fully instrumental and from the first title, with 'Ashes of the Modern World', we are immersed in a progressive saga mixing contemporary and metal in multi-drawers which are gradually revealed in a tormented atmosphere but always with a vibrant intensity and which has a grandiose finish. Follows the eponymous title of the album which borders on 10 minutes and which develops melodic lines 'modernized' drawn from classical music while keeping a palpable tension which from time to time relaxes in a much quieter passage like in the final which starts from a few chords to run riot again until the end of the title. The following offers us 'Rise' which is much closer to the classic and which is a masterful crescendo in which the rhythm section gradually gains momentum, then, 'En route to Mayhem' continues in this way in the first part then presents a second part more unbridled with cello sounds close to guitar riffs, and, about 'Call My Name', the scheme is quite similar with an acceleration of the rhythm until the final releasing all the accumulated tension. It is with 'Fire & Ice' that we undoubtedly hold the most fascinating title of the album because it contains several very different parts from each other which refer to opposite styles but which ultimately, form a wonderful chemistry. The end of the album scrolls 'Scream For The Silent' with romantic melodic lines that merge with the energy of the drums and 'cello riffs', 'Catharsis' with its melody that keeps you in suspense all along of the title and finally, 'Beyond The Stars', which closes the album on classic melodic lines and accessible with always the same alternation between calm parts and others much more energetic.

In summary, the Finns of 'Apocalyptica' surprise us with this return to instrumental full of originality mixing for the best the musicality of the strings influenced by classical music and the energy of metal : therefore, 'Cell-O' is an album that requires several listenings to penetrate every nook and cranny which undoubtedly intends it for an informed public who like to mix romanticism of classical music and modernity of metal...

Line Up / Musicians

Eicca Toppinen (Cello), Paavo Lötjönen (Cello), Perttu Kivilaakso (Cello), Mikko Sirén (Drums)

Artist : Portread

Album : Decayeon

Release Date : 07-01-2020

Added : 10-02-2020

Portread’ is an Estonian symphonic metal band which has been created in 2013 and which releases its first studio album ‘Decayeon’. The least we can say is that they do not make the buzz on the internet while their first opus already shows a good maturity and they offer us beautiful varied melodies with a good sharing between energetic titles and others calmer which is not often the case for formations of this style which generally promote energy and power.
The first part of the album presents catchy and powerful titles like 'Welcome to the Human Race' which sets the scene with a powerful mid-tempo and an effective first melody, then, 'God of Robots' takes us in a catchy title in the style of 'Delain' (see here et new album released dew days ago here)) and 'Dark Net Amy' is a new melodic jewel with a refrain which immediately enters the head. Follows 'The Age of Decay' which continues on this path with melodic lines assimilable from the first listen and which give an irresistible desire to move in rhythm and even if 'Mortality' begins like a ballad in the first minute, the tempo then accelerates to offer us a new catchy refrain and a second part of the title coming out of the main theme bringing a touch of progressive. Change of scenery with 'Symbols of Man' which is a magnificent mid-tempo much calmer with a beautiful melody in which 'Anne Arrak' shows all her vocal talent, then 'Born in Secrecy' returns to a catchy and effective symphonic metal like are the first tracks of the album. With 'The End', we begin the last part of the album, much more posed, with a magnificent ballad which is, without question, to add to the best ballads of metal, then the short acoustic 'Not the Time to Die' continues in this calm and serene atmosphere and, 'Saint of Sorrow' is a melodic mid-tempo which accelerates the rhythm on the second part of the title, and finally, 'As the Life Fades' ends the album on a simple but very effective power ballad with a last beautiful vocal demonstration of 'Anne Arrak'.

In summary, Estonia is not necessarily the country that comes to mind when we talk about symphonic metal but we must admit that 'Portread' is a formation that has all the assets to succeed in being know and 'Decayeon' is an album filled with beautiful surprises which alternate energy and serenity in a beautiful way which should appeal to an audience who likes a melodic symphonic metal and formations like 'Xandria', 'Delain', 'Tarja', or 'The Dark Element' for to name only a few of the most notorious...

Line Up / Musicians

Anne Arrak (Vocal), Murx (Guitar), Mel (Drums), Vootele (Keybords), Tõnis (Bass), Ziel (Guitar)

Artist : Karfagen

Album : Birds of Passage

Release Date : 03-01-2020

Added : 03-02-2020

The frequency of release of 'Karfagen' albums is impressive because, after the remarkable 'Echoes From Within Dragon Island' at the beginning of 2019, it is the turn of 'Birds of Passage' see the light of day at the very beginning of 2020. As usual, 'Antony Kalugin' called on many artists from the progressive scene, and alongside electric instruments, we find the violinist 'Maria Baranovska', bassoonist 'Alexandr Pastuchov' and flautist 'Elena Kushniy' and the vocal section is provided, in addition to Antony himself, by 'Olha Rostovska' and 'Tim Sobolev'.
The album contains 5 titles but the first 2 titles which constitute the sequel ‘Birds of Passage’ are two long developments of 22 and 21 minutes respectively, the other 3 titles ranging from 3 to 5 minutes. Like the ‘Dragon Island Suite’, we embark on a journey made of a rich and complex progressive with multiple sections juxtaposed in a beautiful way where each instrument plays its role wonderfully and where everything flows peacefully. The instrumental sections take precedence over the sung parts but this in no way affects the quality of the ensemble because, for my part, I never had a feeling of weariness because, on the one hand, the melodic lines are always pleasant and, on the other hand, the whole offers a beautiful diversity. The rest of the album continues this beautiful and peaceful journey with 'Spring (Birds Delight)', then the instrumental 'Sunrise' continues in this serenity with the highlighting of the flute accompanied by some percussion and finally, 'Birds Short Introduction 'returns to the theme of the sequel and has the effect of giving this irresistible desire to replay the first two titles.

In summary, 'Antony Kalugin' continues to enchant us with long and rich progressive developments offering a peaceful and poetic atmosphere and, if you liked the previous album, you should also like 'Birds of Passage' because it is a continuation of 'Echoes From Within Dragon Island'...

Line Up / Musicians

Antony Kalugin (Keybords, Vocal, Percussions), Tim Sobolev (Vocal), Olha Rostovska (Vocal), Mathieu Spaeter (Guitar), Aleksandr Pavlov (Guitar), Maria Baranovska (Violin), Alexandr Pastuchov (Basson), Elena Kushniy (Flute), Konstantin Ionenko (Bass), Viktor Syrotin (Drums, Percussions)

Artist : Bad Radiator

Album : Bad Radiator V, BR V

Release Date : 01-01-2020

Added : 05-02-2020

The Swedes are known for having an impressive number of melodic hard-rock formations (among others, 'Art Nation', 'Eclipse' and 'Palace') and it was only with their last album which is the fifth that I discovered 'Bad Radiator', titled, quite simply, 'Bad Radiator V'. They offer us 10 varied and especially melodic compositions, accessible on the first listen, starting with 'Long Away From Home' which sets the tone with a catchy first melody which gives an irresistible urge to move, followed by 'Heart Attack' and 'Coming Home' which continue in the same style, as like 'Kake' and its addictive chorus. The second part of the album contains quieter tracks with the two mid-tempos 'Rock n Roll' and 'King of the Lonely' and the ballad 'Falling Leaves' which allow to vary the moods and 'I Can't Take It Anymore' reminds me of the 'Sorrow' atmosphere from the 'Floyds' in a slightly lighter style.

In short, without revolutionizing melodic hard-rock, the Swedes of ‘Bad Radiator’ offers us an album filled with accessible compositions to be consumed without moderation which destines this number five to a large audience...

Line Up / Musicians

Mikael Lundgren (Vocal, Keybords), Klas Bergvall (Guitar), Roger Hansson (Battterie), Jan Persson (Bass)