Saturday, November 17, 2007

Andy A. Sartori Interview

To be honest, when I first listened to the samples of the forthcoming solo album of guitarist Andy A. Sartori, I couldn’t believe my ears! Finally his first album “Dragon’s Fire” is available through itunes and it proved to be a real masterpiece Of Neo-classical Power Metal! I lost no time and I contacted Andy for a detailed interview, so you can read the rest…

Can we have some more info regarding the rest of the members of your Symphony project?
Sartori:
Well....the band consists of: Scott Board on the vocals (ex Cerebus), James Creed on the bass who's someone who's with me for years since my London times and on drums I have Dino Castano. Dino grew up in New Jersey but he's from Italy and he’s the only new member on this project at the moment.

Will the line-up of your first CD remain “untouched” for the next releases?
Sartori:
Well, as you know I'm a solo guitar player so I can't tell for how long these musicians will stay with me, what is something that happens to all solo guitar players anyway, but we all click together very well, so I hope we last together as long as possible!

9 splendid tracks of qualitative Neo-classical Power Metal are included in your debut CD and I must congratulate you for that. Can you focus in the lyrical content and tell us what your lyrics are about?
Sartori:
I think it's really hard to make many comments on my songs as I'm the composer, but all of them were composed by inspiration, they all came from riffs and ideas and I love them all!! About the lyrics… well, all of my lyrics are very positive, you won't find anything evil or negative on my songs or my lyrics at all. In a few ones I talk about personal experiences I had through my life just because I use some fantasy, but who doesn't write about kings, queens and dragons???
“Through The Eyes Of My Soul” is a classic one already, in my opinion! Which is your favorite song from the album?
Sartori:
In my opinion it's really hard to tell, like I said before I love all of them. Just think this: I don't compose songs just to finish albums or because I needed an extra song. All these songs were composed with inspiration and passion, so it's really hard to tell.

I must note however that the bad production of the songs posted in itunes is a major drawback of the album. Why they don’t have the proper sound? Do you plan to do something about it?
Sartori:
Well record labels are for me what I call "necessary evil" because without them if you compose original music and you want to be in the business, you're not going nowhere. So I expected something good and they gave something completed different, but it's being fixed now !!! I was in the studio redoing all the equalization, mixing and mastering of it!!! So very soon, they will release the new version what will be what it suppose to be...a proper album!!! And I can ensure all my fans that they won't be disappointed!!!

When do you plan to release “Dragon’s Fire” in CD format?
Sartori:
It depends on the label and I have no information at the moment about it! As more people will ask for the album in stores, the faster they will release it.

How difficult is for a virtuoso to survive in the current U.S. Metal scene? Does qualitative music is destined for extinction in the U.S.?
Sartori:
It's not that bad if you are in the right place! there's a lot of market here for anything really...that's why a lot o bands can still tour and survive, and like any other kind of metal I can truly say it's something that will never die, that's space for everybody, you just have to find yours!

Tell me about your musical influences that forced you to play this kind of music. Which bands also attract you nowadays?
Sartori:
Well, my mother is a classically trained piano player and my father always played the acoustic guitar so since I was a little kid I had always been into music, but I grew up listening to classical baroque music and metal and rock I found about it when I was about 10 and never gave up after that!!! my influences come from Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven and as guitar players I used to study many from Yngwie Malmsteen, Paul Gilbert, Kee Marcelo and the list goes. What I did was learn whatever I needed and from all of this, make my own style based on my influences, and I think that's pretty ok as often you don't copy anybody....

Is there any possibility of touring in order to promote your work?
Sartori:
Yes, the record company doesn't set tours but they have some booking agencies they work with so they can hook us up. There's nothing set yet.

You released your album through itunes. Do you think that digital downloading is the future which will help artists survive against the “slavery” of big record labels??
Sartori:
No, never!!!! Because like I said...record labels are necessary evil, but remember...necessary, so any band will always depend on them to go somewhere on their careers unless you make your own record label, I really don't think itunes is the future at all!!! Because from digital you have the songs but not the true album, so when you buy the album in a store you get the real thing with all the booklet, photos and etc....


What is your future plan regarding your project? Do you also plan to work on some other projects as well?
Sartori:
My plans are just to keep going, my next album is already predicted for September 2008, and at the moment I don't have any plans to do any different project at all!

Add anything you may want.
Sartori:
So I'd like to thank you once again for all the support and to all my fans around the world: thank you very much for all the love and support through all these years, you're the best!!!! God bless you all!!!
Dimitris Starakis

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Andy A. Sartori & Symphony – Dragon’s Fire review

Andy A. Sartori & Symphony – Dragon’s Fire (Digital Album)

When Andy decided to release "Dragon’s Fire" through iTunes, I downloaded the album with no hesitation. The three demo songs I reviewed some months ago really made anticipate for the full length album and now that I have it, I dare to say that this is one of the best albums I’ve listened to the last couple of years. Andy’s compositions are truly faultless on “Dragon’s Fire”! Having a gifted singer like Scott Board on the band’s marks (for those who don’t know, Scott sang on Cerebus’ “Too Late To Pray” album), the combination of brilliant guitar playing and triumphant, crystal clear vocals is what is needed for an album to become a classic one! It’s almost impossible to choose a favorite track in Dragon’s Fire: “Through The Eyes Of My Soul” has a riff that is inspirational, while the vocal lines makes want to listen to this pompous Metal Hymn again and again! “Evil Heart”, Dragon’s Fire” and “Devil In Disguise” are based on thunderous, pounding rhythm, while once again Scott delivers the message for starting the battle! “Battle In The Distant Lands” is once again triumphant epic opus with a Neo-classical riff that fits the song and a sing-along chorus! “From Hell To Heaven” showcases Andy’s abilities to compose more melodic-oriented songs and once again the result is astonishing! “Castle of Lost Souls” was once named “Desert Of Lost Souls” and is an instrumental based on Phrygian scales, while not neglecting a strongly Baroque influence, so you can understand that passion and inspiration here are quite high! I could write for hours and hours cosmetic words about this masterpiece that made me proud being a fan of this demanding genre of Metal music! Andy’s solos really sending each and every song to the next level and the most important thing is that he isn’t based on clichés in order to create a boring Power Metal album with intense Neo-classical melodies. Andy is truly one of the most inspirational guitarists and composers that I’ve listened in the underground scene!!
The digital version of "Dragon’s Fire" has only one drawback, and this isn’t the quality of the songs. I’m referring to the bad production that the songs have and it really destroys in songs like Through The Eyes Of My Soul” the grandiose feeling that the composer want to create. I’ve talked to Andy and he told that he will personally remaster the CD before its normal release, so the people will have soon in their hands a true state-of-the art! “Dragon’s Fire” is not only highly recommended, but its our duty to support gifted artists like Andy! Visit his mySpace profile: http://www.myspace.com/andysartori for all the latest updates concerning his next steps.
Dimitris Starakis

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Maestro – Diary Of A Vampire CD review

Maestro – Diary Of A Vampire CD (Independent Release)

Dany Milett is a rare singer by any means. Dany's vocal cords are very thin like a young boy and his larynx is smaller than a normal man. This has a result of producing some high pitched vocal lines, reaching also up to five octaves! His CD is more of a concept album, with songs based on lyrically on vampirism, was released in 2005 and reflects Danny’s passion for Power Metal with many Neo-classical elements. One bright example of my saying is “To My Mentors”; its melodic riff is ideal for the fans of this musical style and Dany’s voice is expressive, contributing the ideal atmosphere to this song. Dany is definitely gifted and reveals his abilities on the CD, but I have the opinion that he must control his falsetto, since there are times in a few songs in which he is exaggerating. On the other hand, when a gifted vocalist is releasing his debut solo CD, it obvious that he needs to showcase his abilities, by presenting a wide range of singing styles. His classical studies have also helped him to incorporate his classical oriented vocal attitude to his singing. As a songwriter, Dany does a fine job. Songs like the Heavy “Blood Hunt”, the brilliant “Burning Eternity” (my favourite track of the CD) and “Blood Bath” with the haunting riff really show his songwriting talent and his passion for quality Power Metal music. Each of the songs on “Diary Of A Vampire” showcases a riff that stuck in the listener’s mind, while the solos are enjoyable. I am pretty sure that Dany will be featured on many albums in the near future since his skills cannot be neglected. Remember his name, there’s surely a promising career for him. Check out Dany’s mySpace profiles: http://www.myspace.com/danymilett and http://www.myspace.com/lordcastrato
P.S.: I was later informed by Dany himself that Maestro Pero (guitarist) was the composer of the album "Diary Of A Vampire", so credit for the songwriting must go to him.
Dimitris Starakis

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ofsoski Interview

I always enjoy talking with multi-talented musicians, like Richard Ofsoski. His first solo CD "Later Than Never" was really promising as far as the future of this uprising artist, so I thought that he could share with us his opinion on several matters...






You got a courageous decision to release an album on your own. Why you decided that?
Ofsoski: Probably because in the past songs Ive written and recorded with other musicians never came out soundingthe way I wanted them to. I guess I'm a bad communicator haha, it's not their fault.Also I wanted an album that was just me so my children would be able to distinguish as being just their Dad. That's not to say I wont use other musicians on my next album because I probably will with the network of musician friends I now have. It is a hell of a lot of work doing it by yourself.

What were the impressions that you got from fans and press for your debut effort?
Ofsoski: It's been extroadinary really !! The album is not going to break any sales records being totally independent, but the feedback I've had has all been extremely positive .Initially I just wanted to do an album I could be proud of myself and if other people liked it then great. The great thing is my fanbase albeit small keep messaging wanting to know about what Im working on and how they cant wait for the next album which is extremely rewarding.I 'm starting to feel the pressure to finnish my next album haha and being a family guy it can be hard to find get enough time to do as much as you would like.

Which is your favorite track of the album and why?
Ofsoski: Probably 'Flame' although there are some others pretty close to it. I guess because it has all the elements I like in music.It has a nice majestic type classical sounding theme, heavy riffing, progressive elements, shred guitar and I dont seem to get tired of It. It takes me to a nice place.

Symphonic, Neo-classical, Baroque-ish Hard Rock and Metal are the best words in my opinion to define your musical style. Why you chose this particular style to express yourself?
Ofsoski: You're pretty much on the money there I think. I have been a fan of many styles of melodic style metal for years now andI guess that has rubbed off on my writing style. Also a big fan of classical style melody and mystic type themes and I think this style of music helps me to express my true self.

Which are you main musical influences?
Ofsoski: I listen to a lot of melodic metal which can cover a wide range. I grew up loving Yngwie Malmsteen, Dio, Judas Priest, Kiss, Metallica, Whitesnake etc. and also dig a lot of the newer stuff like Nightwish and Sonata Arctica. I also really love Bach and Vivaldi and I guess a lot of these styles have rubbed off on me.

How difficult is for a musician in Australia to find some “partners in crime” that share the same musical taste?
Ofsoski: It's growing rapidly of late, we are having so many bands announcing tours, so its hard to keep up. It was pretty dead about 5 years ago but the new generation has really warmed to it. I've met a lot of people recently who share similar tastes in music.

If you had only one opinion in you career what would that be: singer or guitarist?
Ofsoski: Guitarist !! I only sang because I'd form or join a band and get lumbered with the job because they could never find anyone. I don't mind singing now but used to hate it because I just wanted to concentrate on guitar. Things have changed now and I quite enjoy fitting all the different instuments together it can be a lot of fun. I really don't even practise the guitar anymore unless I'm putting a solo together.

Is it true that you have already new material for a new solo effort? Tell me how it sounds like..
Ofsoski: Yes, it's pretty much written. I'm just refining and experimenting with things at present. Theres a wide variety of styles and grooves incorporating all the music elements that I like and I think the songs are very stong, If they weren't, I would scrap them. I'll have a demo mix on my mySpace profile very soon.

You are also a member of the band Sedition. Why you joined them and which are the main differences between your solo band,in terms of sound? I've been friends Ofsoski: With Sinclair the guitarist for a number of years and I knew he was having trouble finding a new singerfor the band. he had started demo recordings for the new album so I offered to help him out singing on the demos untilhe could find someone permanent. He had never heard me sing before and really liked how my voice fitted into the music andasked me to join. I was a bit sceptical at first because I wouldnt be able to commit fully but its turned out ok and has been lots of fun performing live with the guys. Sedition is a bit different to my solo stuff, it has more of an old school thrashy style edge to it and a different songwriting of course.

Do you plan to include full-time members and do some touring as Ofsoski in the near future?Ofsoski: There will be other players on the next release. So far I'll be using Simon Polhil to do bass duties, he's a phenomenal player and great kid. Check out this link to a video of him playing http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.channel&ChannelID=111000312 .As far as playing live I'm starting to get asked this a lot so I may have to at some stage, especially if things keep going the way they are but it wont be until after the next album then we'll see what happens.

Dimitris Starakis

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Seasons Of The Wolf – Nocturnal Revelation CD review

Seasons Of The Wolf – Nocturnal Revelation CD (Earth Mother Music)

Seasons Of The Wolf was founded on 1988 and up to now the band established its name in the U.S. Underground scene by releasing 4 CD up to now. Their latest album, “Once In A Blue Moon” was released this summer and it’s starting to receive its first positive reviews. The band’s style remain unchanged as the deep blue sea: Obscure Heavy Metal, with haunting vocals that often remind me Udo Dirkschneider’s voice, while the whole atmosphere is haunting, eerie and totally obscure! The band also contributes some keyboard parts in their sound in order to make their sound more pompous and the result is clear in gloomy tunes like “Skulls”. SOTW’s music never followed the wave of a current trend, that’s why they kept a stable amount of fans. Some 70’s Hard Rock touches are reflected in their sound, but they have created an overall unique result, by making things heavier and quite more “metallic”. Their solid sound and the authenticity that characterizes their stuff in “Nocturnal Revelation” makes me predict that their new album is even better, since they seem to progress in each CD they release. I can’t wait to listen to their new album!! Check their mySpace profile: http://www.myspace.com/seasonsofthewolf Band’s web-site: sotwmetal.com
Dimitris Starakis

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Famous-X promo CD review

The Famous-X – promo CD

This Italian project features Highlord’s guitarist Sted and singer Andrea who wanted to try their abilities into Hard Rock / Melodic Metal fields. The project started in the summer of 2005 and recently a promo was created in order to help them search for a record contract. What I like in their style is that they are powerful and not mellow, by keeping their power and also contributing some memorable and melodic choruses along with great solos. The self-titled track and “Bullet Time” are pretty good samples of how Hard Rock / Melodic Metal should be performed and I am pretty sure that the rest of the tracks that the band have completed, will be on the same level of quality. I really need to listen to some more stuff from them and I believe that pretty soon the project will be under a proper label. Good luck to you guys, I’m sure you’ll have it! Band’s mySpace profile: http://www.myspace.com/afamousx
Dimitris Starakis

Faith Factor - 07/07/07 mini-CD review

Faith Factor – 07/07/07 mini-CD (Metallic Archangel Records)

From South New Jersey a new U.S. Metal sensation has risen! Faith Factor is a Christian Metal band who will take the world by storm. Their first EP titled “07/07/07” shows clearly that there’s a White Metal orientation in the band’s lyrical content. As for the music, galloping riffs and pompous rhythms combined with the wonderful and steel voice of Ski will definitely cause waves of enthusiasm in every U.S. Metal fan. For those who forgot or don’t know, Ski is the singer of another sensational U.S. band named Deadly Blessing in their first effort titled “Ascend From The Cauldron” and also on their comeback CD, entitled “An Eye To the Past”! He was also a member of the band Altered State. For those who are familiar with Ski’s voice will definitely go and buy his new effort without even reading the rest of this review! As for the Faith Factor EP, “Prayer Warriors” opens the CD and it’s a storming track with a galloping riff which leads you into pure metallic satisfaction! “The Angel And The Butterfly” is a brilliant Metal opus, which starts like a ballad and ends as a wonderful Power Metal Hymn! It’s needless to mention Ski’s monumental performance here! “Deceiver” reminded me at times the great legends of U.S. Metal Mystic Force and it is once again a furious U.S. Power Metal song which will delight each and everyone who digs this particular style! The band is really focusing in promoting their new CD and also plans to play some show in Europe next year, so prepare yourselves for some thundering live attack from Ski and his bandmates! Buy Or Die! Band’s mySpace profile: http://www.myspace.com/faithfactorrocks Band’s web-site: http://www.faithfactor.info/
Dimitris Starakis

Monday, August 13, 2007

Ofsoski – Later Than Never CD review

Ofsoski – Later Than Never CD (Independent)

When I first reviewed Ofsoski’s promo tracks, I then stated that the scene welcomed a creative multi-instrumentalist. When I listened to his debut album, I can now strongly support the opinion that Richard is indeed a gifted man! Ten tracks of Neo-classical / Symphonic Metal filled with well-crafted melodies and intense feelings rule the album which really is labeled as "high-quality". In my previous review, I expressed my admiration to the wonderful song titled “Flame”. Now, along with “Flame”, I was surprised from another hymn which will be greatly received from every Neo-classical Metal aficionado! “Quest” is definitely once again one of the greatest songs composed this year in the genre and believe me, you don’t have to be a wise man of music to compose it; what is needed is inspiration and passion for what you do. Well, Richard combines both. From the sharp and melodic riffs he composes to his harsh and melodic voice, it clear that he must form a band in order to perform his songs with an overall better sound and of course get the distribution and attention he deserves. “Later Than Never” is an album destined to establish Richard’s fame and I believe that his next step will feature full-time members in his band. Highly recommended release! Check Ofsoski's profile in order to find out how you can order the album: http://www.myspace.com/ofsoski
Dimitris Starakis

Friday, July 6, 2007

Max The Axe’s Blazing Star – Demo CD review

Max The Axe’s Blazing Star – Demo CD

Italy is quite famous for a bunch of delicate guitarists that appear on the country’s Metal scene. Aldo Giuntini, Dario Mollo and many more guitarists in some fine Italian bands always presented their fine work through their albums, solo or band-guided. Max The Axe is another guitarist who released his first demo with the valuable help of bassist Tomas Ticciati and vocalist Tomasso Lanese who also handles the production duties. The demo includes 4 tracks of Heavy / Neo-classical Metal, filled with pretty high-demanding guitar leads and quite nice vocals. The band’s musical identity remains mostly on the Heavy side, without being too “symphonic”, perhaps due to the lack of intense keyboard parts. So, fans that like a heavier edge on Neo-classical Metal will definitely appreciate their sound. The opening song “Blazing Star” is a typical double-bass opener with a great chorus and flashy leads, while “Love Criminal” is quite melodic with some interesting vocal lines. “Father Time”, as you can guess from its title, is a cover on Stratovarius song, while “Adagio” is the instrumental track based on Albinoni’s theme and it creates an atmosphere with the all-time classic melody. I really wish to listen to more songs from the band since this project from Florence can really achieve a lot more. Contact the band through their mySpace profile and found out how you can purchase their demo: http://www.myspace.com/maxblazingstar. Band’s web-site (written in Italian: http://blazingstar.interfree.it/ )
Dimitris Starakis

Monday, July 2, 2007

7th Reign – S/t CD Review

7th Reign – S/t CD (Independent)

When I first received the 7th Reign CD, I had a strange feeling that it will be a major highlight. And thankfully I was 100% right! The U.S. quartet was formed in 2005 by guitarist Marios Panayiotis (yes, he is a Greek!) and ex-Eidolon vocalist Brian Soulard. The man who helped these two musicians to meet was none other than Glen Drover (ex- Megadeth / Eidolon guitarist). The band, after completing its line-up, started rehearsing and at the same time composing the songs that would end in their debut CD. During the recording of their 1st album, Fuz Z, the bassist of 7th Reign left and it was time for a third Eidolon member to join in. Adrian Robichaud joined forces and the recordings were completed with the band feeling absolutely satisfied with the final result. The CD was officially released on March 2007 and it featured 8 brilliant songs. I am using the cosmetic word “brilliant”, because a fan of the U.S. Power metal scene can now find in the album everything he is longing to listen! Wonderful and powerful vocals, astonishing riffs and a solid rhythm section is what 7th Reign consists of. Marios has the ability of composing songs that are destined to become immediate classics such as the neck breaking “Defied” (the chorus is a fine example of what U.S. band can only offer!) or the 10 minute long Opus “Asylum”. He is also adding a Neo-classical atmosphere to the songs with his highly-demanding solos and riffs that are storming out of his Stratocaster, something which makes the sound of the band so special. In the closing track titled “Executioner”, Marios present also his marvellous abilities by composing an 8-minute long instrumental track, without having any dull moment in it! He is without doubt a virtuoso and a true leader of the band. 7th Reign, along with Mindwarp Chamber, Katagory V etc. continue the great tradition of the U.S. Power Metal bands and they are proud messengers of the great heritage that was established form bands like Oliver Magnum, Mystic Force, Lethal and many more. I am pretty sure that their talent will not be wasted and their debut will not stay unnoticed. 7th Reign can offer much more ground-breaking moments since this is only in their very first step. As for you fans, what are you waiting for? Order immediately a masterpiece of the U.S. Power Metal Scene! Visit the band’s web-site: http://www.7threign.com/ and their mySpace profile:
http://www.myspace.com/7threign
Dimitris Starakis

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Masa Fire Hoshino – Demo 2006 CD review

Masa Fire Hoshino – Demo 2006 CD

Japan has a great tradition when it comes to Melodic Metal. But. due to the fact that most bands sing in Japanese, their fame could not easily spread overseas. The great bands that emerged from the land of the rising sun are numerous to mention and thankfully we witness often new musicians appearing and adding some wonderful music to the country’s musical heritage. One of these promising musicians is Masaharu F. Hoshino, a guitarist who, after his graduation from the Guitar Institute Of Technology in Hollywood, started composing songs that ended up in his debut effort simply entitled “Demo 2006”. Masa didn’t include only instrumental tracks in this CD, but he also contributed mostly fine vocal songs, with the help of his friend Leo Loebenberg, who is also a student at the Vocal Institute Of Technology. Masa is a fan of Power Metal music and his passion is reflected on the songs he composes. “Engrave Your Names”, “At The Second Crossroads” and my favourite “Heavenwards” (yeap, the Neo-classical atmosphere here is quite intense, he, he!) are wonderful tracks with memorable riffs and fine vocal lines, something that proves that, apart from his excepted advanced guitar abilities, Masa is also a great composer, when it comes to Melodic Power Metal. There’s no way of listening to each song from Masa’s Demo and forgetting the basic riff and the main melody after each song is finished! Songs “Pop #001” and “Pop #002” are midi tunes in which Masa is trying to present a more melodic side of his songwriting. The song “Fire Ressurection” features some fine melodies and harmonies, but the death-like vocals are spoiling the whole result. I would love to listen to this song with “clean” vocals in it. As a conclusion, Masa Fire, who is currently searching for a band proves that he has a bright future ahead of him and I’m sure that we will witness his abilities in a proper band! Good Luck Masa! Check out his mySpace profile at: www.myspace.com/masafire and e-mail him at: flamesilently@yahoo.co.jp
Dimitris Starakis

Friday, June 22, 2007

Ioannis Anastassakis – Suspension Of Disbelief CD review

Ioannis Anastassakis – Suspension Of Disbelief CD (Wild Rose Angel Productions)

First of all, I am really flattered since an artist like Ioannis has sent out to me his CD for a review in my blog. For those who don’t know Ioannis, he’s a true virtuoso flamenco guitar player and his extraordinary abilities are clearly showcased in the already classic “Flamenco Live At Ioannina” CD which was released in 2001. Being a student of one of the greatest flamenco maestros, Juan Serrano, Ioannis’ talent could not stay hidden and soon the world and of course Greece discovered a true master of the six-string. At the same time, something that is also revealed in The “Flamenco Live..”, Ioannis couldn’t not hide his great passion for Metal music and he mentioned in his thanks list the numerous virtuosos of the genre such as Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Vinnie Moore, Michael Romeo, etc.! His brand new CD “Suspension Of Disbelief” reflects also the “electric” side of him, since this time, only 3 tracks of out a total of 11 (“Variations Of Malaguena”, “Dos Hermanos (Bulerias)”, “Flamenco Journal – At A glance”) are flamenco-oriented. I am definitely not a flamenco–expert but I cannot hold myself from showing my admiration to the passionate Spanish sound of Ioannis guitar! A demanding style like flamenco can only performed fluently by great maestros and definitely Ioannis is a member of the pack!
The “electric” side of Ioannis is simply surprising. The opening self-titled track of the CD mixes various styles such as jazzy/fusion and a little funk elements with melodic harmonies as Ioannis comments also in the booklet. A truly enjoyable track, but the second track of the CD left me speechless! “Caravan Of Despair Suite” is an 11 minute and 13 second long masterpiece, an unrepeatable anthem in modern instrumental Metal music! Full of passionate and Phrygian-inspired moments, with the female vocal melodies giving a mysterious tone from the very beginning, the song is a great example of how Neo-classical Metal should be sound! Imagine that Ioannis dedicated this state-of-the-art song to Yngwie J. Malmsteen, when at the same time other so-called “geniuses” guitarists have always fear in mentioning his name (another bright example such as Ioannis is the always amazing Michael Romeo!)! I could comment a song like “Caravan...” for days but simply, there are no words to give a comprehensive description of its greatness! Another wonderful, catchy and worthy to mention instrumental tracks is “The Forgotten Quest”, with a “sweet” main melody that easily becomes familiar to your ear. This could easily become a vocal song also! Along with the above mentioned songs, I must also highlight “The Final Jam”, a “guitar battle” featuring bright hopes and already established guitar players that Ioannis gathered especially for this song. Alex Flouros, Lakis Regazas, 15-year-old George Emmanouel, Marcel Coenen, Theodore Ziras, Constantine, Bob Katsionis and of course Ioannis contribute their solo performances and once again the result is splendid! “Suspension Of Disbelief” is an album not only destined for instrumental music aficionados but also for every listener that enjoys music as an art form! Visit Ioannis’ mySpace profile: http://www.myspace.com/ioannisanastassakis and don’t forget to check also his web-site (http://www.ioannis.org/) if you want further details for his teaching courses and also his instructional releases.
P.S.: I must also not forget to mention the highly detailed booklet that accompanies the CD and it features songs comments, bio info and an interview of Ioannis. This is how well-cared releases should be done!

Dimitris Starakis

Thursday, May 31, 2007

9/6/2007, Greek Metal Festival in Heraclion, Crete, Greece

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Gray Broderick – Mythic Realms CD review

Gray Broderick – Mythic Realms CD (Fossil Records)

Gray is not a novice in the U.S. Underground scene. While picking the guitar at the age of six, he studied hard to develop an advanced guitar technique and he is now considered one of the virtuosos of the Neo-Classical genre in the U.S. scene. While co-operating with many bands including Timejam, Mass Of Virtue, Amethyst, Allegiance, Nyxx, Metal in Action and Final Prophecy, among others. Gray also was constantly working on new musical ideas for his solo project, entitled Mythic Force. Under that name, he released several albums, including “Dark Legions”, “Metal Machine”, “Realms Of Fire”, “Sacred Vision”, “Serenity”, “Mythic Force I”, “Mythic Force II” and “Mythic Force III”. While many of his tracks were also put on mp3.com, “Mythic Realms” came out in 2000 and is once again a collection of Gray’s ideas which ended up as instrumental songs. Even from a flashy listening, it’s obvious that his deeply focused on executing Neo-classical Metal songs with catchy melodies and quite skilful playing. Another fact which I quite enjoyed is that Gray flirts with Phrygian scales and there’s a strong “ala turca” feeling in many of his songs. One bright example is “Dawn Of The Dragon”, a significantly wonderful track that makes known to people that there’s much hidden quality out there and also notifies that Virtuoso guitarists are not an endangered species any more. “Horizons Of Glory” is another grand opus with a Phrygian-based riff and quite baroque atmosphere, which reveals also Gary’s abilities to compose lengthy tracks with even a dull second. It hard to pick favourite songs from “Mythic Realms”, since it’s an album destined for Neo-classical Metal fans and people who enjoy music with vision, passion and skilled performances.
If someone thinks that Gray’s career is on the end of the line, then he‘s proven wrong, since he’s already preparing his brand new effort! Check his mySpace profile for further updates on his work progress: http://www.myspace.com/mythicforce . Check also his web-site: http://mythicforce.com/home.html
Dimitris Starakis

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Pandora’s Box – S/t CD review

Pandora’s Box – S/t CD (Independent)

Formed in 2002 by keyboardist Achilleas Mochloulis and guitarist Loukas Avgerinos, Pandoras Box managed to release their first CD 4 years later. While the band suffered from constant line-up changes, they remained is a stable musical style, which is quite lyrical and melodic, with guitars and keyboards mixing and creating a dreamy atmosphere. Passion is vividly reflected in their songs and they try to stay focused on that, instead of composing songs that are “dry” and uninspiring. In the CD, the listener can meet Melodic Power Metal songs like “Into Your Eyes” and “Last Time” but also more Progressive compositions like the instrumental series “White Saga” (the second part is quite impressive!). The band is also experimenting in “Fairy” by adding some folk elements in their music and due to the fact that Giorgo’s voice is quite sentimental, they surely add points to their abilities. One strong example is “Crimes Of Love”, an atmospheric melodic Metal anthem with pompous keyboard parts and acoustic guitars mixing with “electricity”. The result is wonderful and definitely that particular song is the band’s strongest hit. Pandora’s Box, along with Ragenheart represents the “New Wave Of Melodic Metal” in Greece, except that Pandora’s Box also include some Hard Rock and AOR elements to their sound. It’s so nice to meet a band with reflected passion in their songs and I really wish to remain faithful in their style because there are really good in what they do! The band now has a new vocalist and they are working on new material, so check their mySpace profile at: http://www.myspace.com/pandorasboxgreece
Dimitris Starakis

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Cauldron – Into The Cauldron review

Cauldron – Into The Cauldron mini-CD (Basement Metal)

From the ashes of the Canadian Thrash band Goat Horn, a powerful Metal trio has risen to conquer the Metal World! Cauldron is a Power/Speed Metal trio with high voltage songs and break-neck rhythms that will definitely spread their reputation rapidly. The band recently performed live in “Up The Hammers” festival in Athens and everyone was extremely satisfied after their concert. That means a lot. From the very first notes of “The Striker Strikes”, it’s obvious that the band is full of energy and passion for high-octane Metal. The song has furious speed breaks and its ideal for a concert opener! “Into The Cauldron” is not so fast, but its structure is based into NWOBHM forms (Jason Decay’s voice sounds also pretty “British”). “Restless” is way too melodic for fans of Speed Metal but I have to say that is the song that will definitely become one of the band’s strongest hits. I personally love its melodies! The track which stands last in order is “Torture’s Too Kind” which combines speed with galloping riffs. Once again the vocal lines are catchy, while Ian Killpatrick, the guitarist of the band, contributes some highlighted solos, due to its wonderful performance. He is indeed a musician to notice and, to be honest, you don’t meet easily so skillful players in this genre. I got a bang out of their debut and I am sure that you’ll do also. Visit the band’s mySpace profile: http://www.myspace.com/cauldronmetal and find out how you can obtain their mini-CD
Dimitris Starakis

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Gallows Tree – Two track Demo-CD review

Gallows Tree – Two track Demo-CD



Another Metal band appeared from Larissa, Greece, so once again my sayings are proven right about the city’s rich Metal heritage. Gallows Tree released their first demo during the fall of 2006, in order to express themselves through their favourite music. The opening song titled “Fallen Society” is dark, pompous and really atmospheric, while Damos Harharidis (who was decided to handle the vocals due to the absence of a singer) has a expressive voice which really fits the style of the band. Damos will finally be the band’s lead singer since Thomas from Black Winter is the new guitarist of the band. One thing that I didn’t like is the howling vocals which appear in the song in lead and backing vocal parts. I felt the same thing when I first listened to Adagio’s latest album and I really believe that the band should continue with “clean” vocals in their songs. The second song, “Free Again” is more melodic, with a nice riff and once again a mid-tempo rhythm. No howling vocals appear here this time and I think that the band really showcases its abilities it that particular song. The guys really know, even if they quite young, how to create a dark and heavy atmosphere and I think that this fact add points to their unique identity. I wish them good luck to their following steps since they’ve already started working on new material and I am sure it will be even superior to this one. Visit the band’s mySpace profile and ask them how you can purchase their demo: http://www.myspace.com/gallowstreeband
Dimitris Starakis

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

CHIBI RARI – “Ichimaime” Mini-CD review

CHIBI RARI – “Ichimaime” Mini-CD

Chibi Rari is a young and talented Power Metal band from the land of the rising sun. “Ichimaime” is their first effort and it features the female vocals of Akeno which definitely makes their sound different. Don’t expect any goth-type vocals here; Akeno’s voice is quite clean, deep and melodic and if you are familiar with the Japanese language then you’ll definitely like also her skills. I’m telling this because 99% of the lyrics are written in Japanese, something common for native Japanese bands. The opening track "比翼の眷族" and also "イシスの言霊" are Power/Speed Metal songs with strongly Neo-classical based riffs and they really go right with their style. But it’s not only speed the band’s greatest advantage. "いつか・・・" is quite melodic and sentimental at the same time. If you go through their songwriting, you can realize that Chibi Rari is a band which surely stands to reason in composing memorable and solid tracks in the future. The musicians are quite skillful (I really enjoyed Umihiko’s guitar solos) and since they’re young of age, the future belongs to them! I would only suggest them to start writing songs in English language, because they can surely spread their name outside the Japanese borders. Check their web-site and send them an e-mail to find out who you can obtain their debut: http://www.geocities.co.jp/MusicStar-Bass/6244/

Dimitris Starakis

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Matthew Mills "NeoClassical Rock Guitar Part 2" review

Matthew Mills - NeoClassical Rock Guitar Part 2 CD (Matt Mills Music)


When I hold in my hands a new Matthew Mills release, I feel like a child who’s got its favourite present! His brand new album is another fine example of how supersonic, flash - lightning and precise Neo-classical Metal should be executed! From the opening notes of “The Fury Of Speed” you can easily understand that the whole album is a feast of Virtuosity and high-demanding playing! Matthew is not only focusing on speed, but he also puts intense mid-tempo tracks, such as “Soul Cage” and “Dawn” which once again proves that now Neo-classical Metal player omits emotions from his playing! “Neoclassical At The Show” features also Matthew’s splendid acoustic guitar playing and the result once again is magical! It’s really hard to pick some certain tracks as favourites ones from the album you cannot do that with Matthew’s albums. Every track has a highlight and showcases the potential of this gifted guitarist! I only wish next time to find an appropriate drummer so that his tracks will include that pounding rhythm section they deserve! There are also some guests on the album such as Mike Orlando, who performs a guitar solo on the above mentioned "Soul Cage” and also Sean Baker, which contributes his skilful playing on "Castle Of Doom”. I used to believe and I still support my opinion that Matthew Mills hasn’t received yet the recognition he deserves. His abilities are beyond the mind of the average professional performer and the scene should soon realise that this “hidden ace” can offer a lot more. I wish also his CD with Forgotten Realm to be released soon because I have the feeling that we will blown away from the mix of Matthew’s furious guitar and David Fefolt’s ground-breaking vocals! I can’t wait. Check out Mill’s mySpace profile http://www.myspace.com/matthewmillsinstrumentalguitar and his web-site: http://www.mattmillsmusic.com/ for further info on how you can purchase his works, while I am going to listen to his new album again…and again…and again!!! Thank you Matthew!

Dimitris Starakis

Steve Shannon Interview

WHEN THE SKY'S THE LIMIT, THEN STEVE SHOWS THE WAY!

One of my latest discoveries was the amazing guitarist Steven Shannon. It's strange when you think that Neoclassical Metal has reached its limits and then suddenly a young man appears and blows away all predictable thoughts that you may have about the scene! Steve's playing is much more emotional that the average guitarists of the genre and he's preparing to show the world his virtuosity by releasing his debut CD. He was kind enough to answer my questions so check the opinion of someone that will definitely leave you speechless with his wonderful playing!


What strong wave of enthusiasm forced you to pick up the guitar and at what age?
I started to play guitar early… at the age of 8. My Mother played guitar and sang which in turn got me interested in the instrument. My love for the instrument really ignited 6 years later when I first heard the song “Black Star” by Yngwie Malmsteen… this song had a profound effect on me in a way that can not be put into words. All I can say is that after that moment… guitar became an obsession.

Which are you all-time favorite Musicians?

This is a hard question because there are so many great players. I’m inspired by, Bach, Handel, Beethoven, Mozart, Vivaldi, Rachmaninoff, Uli Jon Roth, Ritchie Blackmore, Randy Rhoads, Michael Schenker, Yngwie Malmsteen, Tony Macalpine, Vinnie Moore, James Byrd, George Lynch and many more.

Why you chose "Neoclassical Fusion"as you claim your style to express yourself?

My style is based on what I like and want to do. I like to fuse the intensity & aggression of Rock with Classical… the marriage of both styles intrigues me. In my opinion, as far as melody and structure of arrangement, Classical music is more superior because it is more intense and emotional.


Your playing is much more emotional and intense than that of the average Neoclassical guitarist. For the songs that I’ve listened to, you insisted on really strong sentimental melodies and you prefer to neglect speedy, double-bass songs. Why?
Thank you for the kind words Dimitris. I want to create music that people will remember. My solos are like little compositions because they’re totally spontaneous & improvised. That’s the way I do it. I think that as a musician you have to play from your heart and not necessarily what music theory suggests. I’ve known of musicians who will learn music parts off another artists CD recording and then assemble them into their own song… which is entirely different from what I’m doing. I think very much the same way a classical composer would think. I use the bass to play the root, then a melody line and blend those together with a fifth and sometimes an octave above. I write melody lines then write the verse chord progression with relative chords. I plan on incorporating some double bass songs into future recordings.

When do you plan to release your first CD. Can you tell us details about title, label and its contents?

I’m currently unsigned and producing this myself which in turn slows down the process when you lack capital so if there are any labels reading this interview and you’d like to contact me please do so at

http://www.myspace.com/steveshannon

I’m putting together my debut cd at George Bellas music studios… my goal is to get the project finished this year. Since the cd will be all instrumental I wanted to name the project something that would reflect this so I came up with “Where Words Fail… Music Speaks” as the title. I’m also collaborating with some well known musicians and will have some guest players on the cd. At this time I do not want to disclose who they are but fans of Neo-Classical will definitely know them.

Do you plan also to feature some vocal songs in your future releases?

Yes, I would like to do a cd with vocals and that is my goal for the next cd.

In one of our previous contacts, you said that success is not your main goal, but you want to bring your music to an audience that will appreciate it, musically-wise. Is that true?

Yes and No. Obviously I’d like to be able to sustain my living costs and focus solely on just being a musician because music is my true bliss. Unfortunately, I’m still a victim of being a wage slave so I work a corporate job which requires a lot of my focus. I guess what I want everyone to know is that I’m not writing my music with dollar signs in my eyes… it is truly being written from my heart. Every fiber of who I am as an individual is in this project and I really would enjoy being able to share my passion with the world. Having the right vehicle to share my music on this level such as strong label support and advertising would help me to reach this goal.

George Bellas used flattering words for your work. What do you think of him?

Getting together with George is a great story. I was in a guitar players contest and he was one of the judges. We happened to talk during one of the intermissions and seemed to hit it off real well. The rest is history. I’ve been studying with him for 3 years now and I can not begin to tell you how grateful I am to have this relationship. George really inspires me and has helped me tremendously with left & right hand techniques. When I came to George I had little guitar training… most of what I’ve learned has been from self study and experience. To this day I’m still unable to read music. I play from the heart and what I hear. I’m currently learning how to read and also starting to learn more about harmony & tonal music techniques. Besides being a mentor… he is a great human being and I feel blessed to have him in my life.


There’s a brand new wave of Neoclassical Metal coming from the States with artists like Matthew Mills, Chad Sloan, of course you and many more. In a country that’s so hard to promote a demanding musical style like yours, how do you explain your enthusiasm?

I really don’t think about all the negatives that as an artist in this genre we’re up against nationally. I prefer to focus on the positive aspects… such as how popular Neoclassical still is in other countries. All I know is that I’m writing & playing the music that I truly love and it’s coming from my heart... wherever it goes and how far is a matter of the unknown.

Do you plan any concerts or guitar clinics?

I would love the opportunity to do concerts worldwide but for me, getting signed is my first priority. As far as guitar clinics, I’d like to pick up some endorsements and do those as well.

What will the future be for Neoclassical Metal?

I think that Neo Classical Metal will be here in the future as long as there are listeners that enjoy brilliant arrangements and melodies based upon virtuosity & spectacular musicianship. I think before it becomes main stream like rap music or pop we’ll need to see artists of this genre receive more support & airplay. Imagine if they had a progressive metal American idol show someday… this would help bring the publics attention to this style of music.

Add anything you may want

Thank you for this interview and helping to support my vision of reaching out to a lot of people who probably wouldn’t hear me because of limited exposure and lack of advertising. Thanks also to all of you who read my interview and support this style of music because without your interest… the genre would be perhaps over.
I look forward to sharing my music with everyone in the near future and achieving my goal of playing worldwide. In the meantime, please visit my music site @ http://www.myspace.com/steveshannon
and let me know what you think.


Dimitris Starakis

Powervice, Crystal Tears, Ofsoski, Mythodea Project reviews

Powervice - Demo CD (Independent)
I must confess that I had a long time to receive such a blast with a demo release. But the Dutchmen POWERVICE really blew my mind! 3 songs full of powerful melodies and great Heavy Metal might will guarantee to make your ears bleed! If you like listening to original Heavy Metal with Maiden-ish influences and soaring vocals, then one word is enough: POWERVICE. Personally, I believe that the biggest "weapon" of the band is the voice of Rogier "Stocky" Stockbroeks, who really has a voice that can offer much to scene and give the push that the band needs. Since this demo is already sold-out, try to find it in local stores throughout the internet, but don;t feel bad if you can't get it. Powervice have just started recordings for their debut full-length album!! If I had to choose one songs from this demo, I would choose...two: "The End Is Coming" and "Nightstalker"! Let's hope that they'll finish it soon, so that we can have in our hands another great piece of Meat...errr...Metal I meant ..!!!
Visit their web-site : powervice.com
Their mySpace profile: http://www.myspace.com/powervice
Dimitris Starakis

Crystal Tears – Choirs Of Immortal CD
(Pure Steel Records)

After 4 years of "creative silence", Crystal Tears strike back (after three demo releases) with a CD that will definitely be one of my highlights of the year that's leaving in a few days! To be absolutely honest with you, when I opened the CD's booklet and realised that the vocals were handled by a female singer, and then I instantly thought that Crystal Tears went "operatic"! How fool I was! The band delivers pure Power/Speed Metal, influenced by the 80's U.S. Metal Scene but also they include some Maiden-ish traces, mostly in their mid-tempo songs. I need to comment Natasa Pandreia's vocals: Definitely one of the best female voices I ever listened to!!! Yes, yes, yes!!! You won't believe your ears!!! Maybe she is the European answer to the mighty Leather Leone (of Chastain fame) !!!! Natasa tears her throat apart in songs like "Nightmare Terror" (Speed Metal brainwasher!), while in the songs "When The Night Is Cold" and "Megas Alexandros" (Greeklish f?r "Alexander The Great", originally the song is credited as "??G?S ?????????S" she tried to me more sentimental, while still her soaring vocals are perfect! Another thing that I enjoyed in the CD is the pretty nice guitar parts of Dimitris Goutziamanis. Dimitris' style is quite melodic and powerful, while his arpeggio's are giving that "virtuoso" feel that I enjoy listening to. Last but not least, I would like to ask you to pay attention to the song "Rock Survivors", one of the greatest hymns ever written by a Greek band the last couple of years! A song destined to become a classic and will surely melt the brains of everyone that will attend a Crystal Tears' concert! No, you won't find any drawbacks on this release, so get a copy in order to enjoy pure Power/ Speed Metal…the Greek Way!!!
Band's web-site: http://www.crystal-tears.com/
Pure Steel Records Web-site: http://www.puresteel-records.com/
Dimitris Starakis

Ofsoski - Tracks from forthcoming album
OFSOSKI is the creation of Richard Ofsoski, a guitarist born in New Zealand that aims to show the world his way of creating music. The first track I ever listened from Ofsoski was the song "Flame" and to be honest with you, I sang its chorus for days! "Flame" has a cathy tune played in keyobards and an intense baroque atnosphere, making the song a true hit! "Haunted" is faster, keyboard -oriented and heavier, but it stills features the classical atmosphere, while Ofsoski's voice is once again leaving his mark. Richard also contributes the guitar parts, so I think that the scene welcomes a creative multi-instrumentalist! "Termination" is a a straight-edged track, with Richard' vocals combined with a female voice in the bridge lines and the result brings heaviness with melody together. Overall, the result from Ofsoski's forthcoming debut leaves me with the anticipation of getting it soon! This solo effort is destined to reach the stores in the beginning of 2007, so stay tuned for further news! Check Ofsoski's profile: http://www.myspace.com/ofsoski
P.S.: Richard Ofsoski also sings in the band named SEDITION, which was re-builted in 2005. The demo recordings are progressing and maybe the band will be ready soon for complete recordings. Check Sedition's profile: http://www.myspace.com/sedition2006
Dimitris Starakis

Christos Nikolaou - Mythodea project

It's pretty amazing when you see young musicians having ambitions and creative ideas! One of them is surely Christos Nikolaou, a guitarist from Greece who had the idea of creating a project named Mythodea. Being influenced by virtuoso guitarists such as Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Michael Romeo and Paul Gilbert, but adding his own expression on his compositions, Mythodea is a neo-classical metal project that will receive much attention when it will be completed. Having listened to 4 songs, I noticed a majestic and pompous atmosphere which includes the brilliant voice of Bill Axiotis (PHANTOM LORD, PERPETUAL, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, etc.)! Bill surely contributed some fine vocal lines and Christos' idea to include him in the line-up was succesful, since perfect vocals with flashy and emotional guitar solos is the key to a great effort! I must also note that the track "Echoes OF Eternity" is a 12-minute opus, featuring five singers (!), so it's really nice to listen to the voices combined with the inspiring music!
As I mentioned before, Mythodea is not completed yet, but I am really looking forward to see it (and listen to it) complete, since the ideas behind the songs are really refreshing!
Visit Christos Nikolaou profile and check the sound samples: http://www.myspace.com/christosnikolaou/
Dimitris Starakis

Final Stage, Steel Assassin, Legion reviews

Final Stage – Flight Of The Phoenix mini-CD (Independent)

Final Stage was originally named Ignite and started as a cover band, playing songs from the member's favourite bands. The band's recent line-up was completed in 2005 when founding members Brandon Wright (Guitar/Vocals) and Josh Kurkjian (Bass) included drummer TJ Dowhaniuk in the band, so Final Stage started to prepare the ground for their debut release. "Filight Of The Phoenix" came out in August and it featured 4 songs of Heavy Power Metal -the Canadian Way! The EP kicks off with the self-titled track which has a pounding rhythm and also reveals immediately the band's identity: Pure Heavy Metal, with razor sharp guitar parts and powerful vocals. Final Stage gives the listener the impression that their songs will be Metal blasts in a concert! The "live feeling" is quite vivid in the songs, which always keeps the listener's attention in top priority. "Heretic" comes next and is definitely the most "simplistic" song of the band. A riff that comes from the glorious NWOBHM days and forces anyone to start Headbangin', can best describe the song. "Open Your Eyes" starts with lots of melody but things get "speedier" when the first vocal lines appear! Maybe this is my personal favorite from the EP. The song has a nice, melodic refrain and once again makes me wonder how thunderous will be when performed live! "In The Night" is the final song and once again we are talking here about another piece of uncompromising Heavy Metal feeling! Final Stage created a well-cared debut EP and they have raised our expectations for an even better follow-up! I'm sure that the band has the potential to achieve it! You can order "Flight OF The Phoenix" form the band's web-site: http://www.finalstage.ca/ . Check also their profile and stop by to encourage the band by leaving a comment: http://www.myspace.com/finalstage
Dimitris Starakis

Steel Assassin – 3-song promo CD from"War of the Eight Saints"

This is a three-song appetizer from the forthcoming STEEL ASSASSIN album "War of the Eight Saints" and I am happy that these guys are back in the spotlight! The quintet from Boston (all hail to Boston Celtics!!!!!!) was formed in the late 70's and thankfully they are reformed after many years of "silence"! To be honest, I think that now they are stronger than ever! Their previous CD titled "From The Vaults" came out in 1998 and was a collection of the songs that were written from the band over their career, featuring singer Doni Escolas! The new promo CD features 3 songs ("Hawkwood", "Hill Of Crosses" and "Barabbas") of crunchy Heavy Metal with the harsh voice of newcomer John Falzone (former vocalist of Triphammer) that will satisfy every 80's Metal aficionado! Phil Grasso is also present here, a member also of MADD HUNTER, a well known U..S. band in the Underground Metal scene. So, the result is screaming guitars, fast-paced rhythms and a "vintage atmosphere" which proves that U.S. Metal is alive and kickin'! I am really waiting for the full-length album to have a better opinion, but, judging from these three songs, I'm pretty sure that STEEL ASSASSIN will appeal to any fan of the U.S. Underground Metal scene!
Band's Website: http://www.steelassassin.com/
Band's profile: http://www.myspace.com/steelassassin
Dimitris Starakis

Legion – Shadow Of The King CD (Independent)

On my visit to Japan last September, I visited Rock Stakk Records, my favourite record shop of my favourite friend, Mikitoshi! In there, Mikitoshi suggested me a great album as he said and he gave me the CD that I'm reviewing now. First of all, I was attracted by the cover, a wonderful painting by Jean Jacques Scherrer! But since I never judge a book by its cover, I tried to examine the music and the result was pretty amazing! Legion deliver 1st class melodic Power metal with brilliant riffs and really good vocals. The Adamo brothers handle the guitars and they did a great job, since the riffage is quite catchy, while the solos might be described as a heavier Rainbow approach! This is the style that I enjoy listening to! The CD includes well-crafted Power Metal songs like "Illusion" (marvelous Neo-classical riff, this is a hit for Metal parties!), "The Watcher" (mid-tempo hymn!) and the OPUS Stay Away (From The Night) (you'll stuck with it!) that will definitely make you want more from the band. Melodic metal tracks with a Hard Rock approach like "Deny Yourself", "Heart Of Stone" and "Medicine Man" are welcomed since the musicianship is well-cared. Mike Bunk's vocals reminded me of Doogie White's voice, so "Shadow Of The King" starts from where Rainbow's "Stranger In Us All" stopped, but continues with power, inspiration and passion for great compositions! No, this is not another clone-band, this is a band that produced an enjoyable CD and I'm sure that will attract many fans of Power metal are fed up by listening to the same repeated song in 100 CD's!
"Shadow Of The King" was originally released in 2005, but Majestic Rock brought it to light again this years by re-releasing it with a new cover and a remastered production! Legion are also planning now to tour for the promotion of the album, but I think that they must also start creating the follow-up to this wonderful debut!
Band's web-site: http://www.legion-music.com/Band's Myspace profile: http://www.myspace.com/legionnjusa
Dimitris Starakis

Dragonship, Lionsgate, Screaming Symphony reviews

Dragonship – Set The Sails Demo CD (Independent)

One of the most pleasant moments for me is when a debut demo causes waves of musical pleasure to my ears! That's what happened with the kick-off demo from Dragonship! Formed in 2004 from guitarists Cole and Lyon, Dragonship is a classy band already! 4 songs present the band's abilities and from the first notes of "Spill Their Blood", anyone who appreciates good Metal can have the time of his life! "Spill The Blood" is a song based on Neo-Classical metal structures, with double bass drums and pretty melodic solos. Guitarist Cole handles also the vocals and he's doing a fine job! His voice is clean and handles quite well the high scales. "Set The Sails" begins with a galloping riff and is another qualitative song from Dragonship. This time the band also shows its devotion to Epic / Power Metal and even this style is definitely out of fashion in current music industry, I'll stay with them all the way. "Predestined Fatality" also reflects some progressive elements, while "Green Hills, Blue Skies" reveal also some European Metal traces, with lyrics inspired by Nordic Mythology. No words left to say here, music is the champion, so I think that Dragonship deserve anyone's attention! You can order "Set The Sails" from the band's web-site : (http://www.dragonship.org/) and also feel free to check the band's mySpace profile: http://www.myspace.com/dragonship
Dimitris Starakis

Lionsgate – Promo Tracks from forthcoming CD

Nowadays, we witness lots of different trends rising from the States and unfortunately there not plenty of space for bands that are struggling for Metal that can resist every short-living tendency. But thank God, bands like Lionsgate are here to refuse and to resist these crappy situations! Chad Sloan, the guitarist who was announced best guitarist for 2003 by MP3.com, formed Lionsgate in 2003 and with the addition of singer Paul DeBellis, the band's line-up was stable enough to start creating their first try. Lionsgate's musical identity can be best described as Neo-classical Heavy Metal with powerful vocals and a thunderous atmosphere! Chad's riffs are surprisingly heavy, while Paul's vocals give the biggest amount of power to the music. I must also not forget to mention the powerful and solid drumming of Reg James, an necessary ingredient for every Metal band that wants a steady "time-keeper"! Songs appear on the promo that I hold in my hands leave me with great anticipation for Lionsgate's debut, which will come out on February! "Liar" is the band's speediest song, while "See you in Hell" comes with a wonderful acoustic change in the chorus. In "See you…" there's also a wonderful acoustic solo from Chad so virtuosity is once again plays the leading role! "Falling From Grace" could easily find place in a soundtrack of an Epic film such as "Braveheart" or "Conan The Barbarian", with some grandiose moments that will make you push the repeat button of your CD player! "Nikita Suite OP.3" is the instrumental track of the CD, and already has many fans over the internet. In that particular song, Chad shows his great appreciation for Baroque music, since the melodies coming out from his scalloped Stratocaster are just vividly emotional! I enjoyed all songs that the bands brought to light until now and I'm pretty sure that the debut CD from the band will struck the Metal world. So, don't say you haven't been warned! Visit Lionsgate profile: http://www.myspace.com/lionsgateband and keep an eye for the release date of the album!
P.S.: Chad is also ready to release his first instructional DVD on April titled "Axe To The Grindstone" through Fretfire Productions.
Dimitris Starakis

Screaming Symphony – Power Of Metal demo CD (Cosmic Balance)

A young and promising band from Japan is definitely Screaming Symphony, judging from this demo CD that I hold in my hands. 3 songs of pure Power/Speed Metal which in times brings to mind the early RAGE is the band's musical style and I have to say that they are really good musicians, while their compositions are quite interesting! Screaming Symphony mix quite well melody with power and result is satisfying and promising! The production of the demo CD is crystal clear, something which proves that this young band is really careful on their moves! I can't say much since these are only 3 songs but I'm sure that the band has also more tracks that will satisfy our needs!
Screaming Symphony – 3 song promo CD
I was lucky enough to attend a Screaming Symphony in Tokyo and I purchased this 3-track promo directly from the band's concert. This promo featured 3 brand new tracks in rough mix and probably all songs are destined to appear in the band's first full-length album. The style of the band remains unchanged: Speed Metal with strong RAGE influences combined with melodic choruses and harsh vocals. In this three-tracker appears also the band's best song to date: "Into Hell" is a wonderful Speed Metal song with catchy melodies and also the band's favorite live track, if I judge from their live performance!
Band's web-site: http://dr-k.vis.ne.jp/ss/
Dimitris Starakis

Icarus, Sapphyre, Megattack reviews

Icarus - Busca y Encontrarás Demo CD (Independent)

When I first listened to White Lion's song titled "El Salvador", I never expected that one day I'll review an album from a native band. To my big surprise, Icarus come from El Salvador and "Busca y Encontrarás" is their debut demo. The band was formed in 2000 and after 6 years they managed to release their first effort. Judging from the 5 tracks that appear in the demo, I think that the band deserves to be in the public eye. Power Metal with Progressive musical touches is met here, while the guitars and the melodic keyboard parts make the atmosphere bombastic at times. If I got it right, the band seems to have a White Metal destination since 2003 and the lyrics are completely sung in Spanish with Guillermo Esquivel's decent voice keeping the quality of this release. All tracks are pretty much on the same level, but a mentionable moment is definitely the song "Hijo" with the folk-influenced intro and the vocals handled by drummer Samuel Cardona. Icarus are not past masters in the Salvadorian Metal scene, but their debut is mature enough, so I think that pretty soon the band will be offered a record contract! I really wish to have a full length album from them soon! You can get info on how you can obtain their demo by visiting their profile at: http://www.myspace.com/icarus7 and don't forget to send them my greetings! Hola guys!
Dimitris Starakis

Sapphyre – Through The Motions Demo CD (Independent)
I knew nothing about Sapphyre until my good friend Theodosis Moiras (http://www.myspace.com/theodosismiras) from Secret Port Records informed me about their existence. The band was formed in 2004 and one year later they released their first demo CD "Through The Motions". I was happy to witness five pretty emotional Progressive Metal songs in the demo, something that was obvious since the lead vocals are handled by Leonidas Hatzimichalis. Leonidas is a well-known singer in the Greek Underground scene, having played with bands like Fata Morgana and Equal Vector and can be easily considered as Greece's answer to Ray Alder! His deep, emotional and "sweet" voice gives intensity to the songs, while the orchestrations are quite well-built. "Living The Dying" and "Flying (Away From Here)" seem to have been inspired by Fates Warning ("Inside Out" and "Perfect Symmetry" era), with wonderful melodies written by Dimitris Drisas and definitely are my top picks! There's also a cover version of Pavlo's Dog classic "Late November", with the result being satisfactory (everyone knows how hard is for someone to cover such high-pitched vocals!). If there's a knock on the band, it's the poor production, but don't neglect the fact that this is a demo release, so keep that in my mind. Check the band's profile (www.myspace.com/sapphyregr) and order also the demo from Secret Port's mail – order:
http://www.truemetal.org/secretport/main.php?act=mailorder
Dimitris Starakis


Megattack – Save The Nations CD (Raw Delivery Records)
Megattack is not a novice band. Many moons ago, back in 1986, the band released their debut LP titled Raw Delivery and they went under the spotlight by selling more than 500.000 copies. Everything was perfect for them, but unfortunately the band split up, ending pretty soon a career that could have been glorious. But since old habits die hard, the band returned to action after 19 years with an album that quite surprised me! First of all, many claim that "Hair Metal" is the best phrased to describe Megattack's music. Well, I am totally against that opinion. Megattack play Heavy Metal from the heart, with strong, catchy melodies and memorable choruses to fill the songs. They are raw at times and that happens mainly because of Rick Jackson's harsh and solid voice. I'm sure that songs like "Atomaton", "Save The Nations", "Watching You", "Where Do We Go Now" and "Earthshaker" will make any Metal fan pound hard! I am also pretty satisfied to witness a worth-mentioning guitar effort in the album, done by Megattack's axemen Jake Ozlo and Parrish Hultquist. "Save The Nations" took 19 years to bring the band's name on the front page again, but better late than ever! I'm sure that Megattack fill the bill of every one who like's Heavy Metal as it is really meant to be performed! Godspeed guys and please, don't let us wait for another 19 years to have a new album of yours! You can buy "Save The Nations by visiting Megattack's mySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/megattack
Dimitris Starakis

Ivory, Manimal, Kingscrossing reviews

Ivory – Promo CD (Independent)

IVORY is an Italian band that tries to make its first "official" step, since their debut album is almost ready. The band proved to be unlucky in the past, since in 2001, their debut CD received a last minute cancellation and it has never faced a release date. It's nice to see a project become a steady band again and that happened since band members from Attitude and Meridian decided to reform Ivory again. The band's style is quite complicated, involving many different styles, something that requires excellent performances from all musicians. Progressive, fusion, Hard Rock and also many Neo-classical Metal guitar parts complete the puzzle of Ivory's sound. I was really amazed by Salvatore Vecchio's superb guitar playing, since he has an absolutely clean and flashy way of performing his parts! To be honest, I think that his guitar parts need to be multiplied in the songs! The band managed to create groovy and well-executed songs, while their performance is really meeting any high expectation. Three songs, named "Atlantis Fall", "Time For Revenge" and "Symbols Of Pyramid" appear in the promo that I have in my hands and if I am allowed to predict something, I don't think that the band will remain unsigned for long! Their music is definitely not easy-listening, but really keeps the interest of the listener high. I think bands like Ivory deserve their voice to be heard! Visit the band's mySpace profile: www.myspace.com/ivorymetalband or their web-site at: http://www.ivory-band.com/
Dimitris Starakis


Manimal – Demo 2002, Human Nature Demo, Demo 2006 (Independent)

Manimal is a band hailing from Gothenburg, Sweden and released their first demo in 2002. The self-titled demo includes six Heavy/Power Metal songs with pretty good production. Manimal try to create songs that stuck in your mind with their memorable choruses, while their melodies are raised from the ashes of the U.S. underground Metal scene in the late 80's / early 90's! Another positive and worth mentioning fact is the voice of Samuel "Sam" Nyman. Being influenced by Rob Halford, Sam contributes a stable value in the band and he is surely a singer that will be attracted by the fans of this genre! The best song from their debut demo is undoubtedly "Ordinary Man" along with "Fly High", since they feature more complexity and also great musicianship. In 2005, Manimal released their second effort and totally blown me away! Having a much more "Progressive" attitude on their way of composing songs, but at the same time keeping their full powerful approach, the band left their mark on the songs. They tried and succeeded to do their level best by releasing a fine demo, full of wonderful songs. "Escape (once more)" is the band's ultimate track, an anthem that could have been easily released by Queensryche on their glorious days! I keep listening to this song again and again and I simply enjoy it the same every time!. "Human Nature" includes some eastern influences also, so anyone can understand that Manimal are not afraid of breaking the mould and create refreshing music that's quite impressive! I think that is a crime with a capital C leaving this band unsigned! No many bands can compose choruses and melodies like Manimal do. This is also quite clear on their latest Demo, simply entitled Demo 2006, featuring the songs "Spine Grinder" and "Shadows". The first has a haunting melody, with Sam trying to reach the borders of his voice, while "Shadows" starts with a modern groove and usually ends up being a wonderful track with melodic chorus and quite memorable moments! I'm not afraid to say that if a label releases their full-length debut, it will sell like hot cakes! So check this band! For more details on how to order or download their songs, visit their web-site: http://www.manimal.nu/ or their mySpace profile: http://www.myspace.com/manimalsweden
Dimitris Starakis
Kingscrossing – S/t CD (Independent)

Kingscrossing is the brainchild of guitarist Zak Grimm and was formed in 2002, when he moved to Las Vegas, right after he disbanded his previous project "Steele Life". Ex-Aftershock members, including singer Greg Williams, bass player Rob Shock and drummer D. Hying completed the band's line-up. They recorded their debut CD in 2005, but there's a big difference with the copy I'm holding now in my hands. The band decided to re-record the CD, since vocalist Greg Williams left on March 2006 and this incident led the band to try a new approach on the already performed songs. New singer named Michael Adams (ex Cyrus Zain) and also second guitarist Rich Pagan (ex Avatar, Spend, Original Sin) joined the band, so and this line-up the "new version" came out. Kingscrossing perform solid and really powerful Heavy / Power Metal, the American Way! Don't expect keyboards or any other additional sounds here, it's only pure sounding Metal here that rules! The self-titled track that opens the CD is their most melodic and hymn-like moment, while the rest of it includes mostly powerful, mid-tempo songs, with precise vocals and combined guitar leads from the two guitarists. In songs like "Powersource" the double guitar leads prove my previous sentence! I also enjoyed "Angels In The Night" (short but great riff!), "Stalker" (melody returns here, while power is never absent!) and "Rapid Fire". Kingscrossing's intention was to create an album with an atmosphere that can travel anyone back to the glorious 80's and I think that they couldn't have done it better! Check their profile in order to buy their CD: http://www.myspace.com/kingscrossing or visit their web-site: http://www.kingscrossing.us/
Dimitris Starakis