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 and his web-site: 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


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

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 @
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 :
Their mySpace profile:
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:
Pure Steel Records Web-site:
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:
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:
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:
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: . Check also their profile and stop by to encourage the band by leaving a comment:
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:
Band's profile:
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:'s Myspace profile:
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 : ( and also feel free to check the band's mySpace profile:
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, 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: 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:
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: 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 ( 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 ( and order also the demo from Secret Port's mail – order:
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:
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: or their web-site at:
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: or their mySpace profile:
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: or visit their web-site:
Dimitris Starakis

Untaymed, White Witch, WiszdomStone reviews

Untaymed – On The Prowl (Independent)

I was lucky enough to discover Untaymed through Rock Stakk Records and thanks to the band who was kind enough to send me their material, I listened to the band's debut CD, which came out in 1998. The U.S. band is yet unsigned but they're really active, by giving many concerts and building all those years a stable fame in the U.S. Underground scene. Untaymed opened for many famous acts such as: Judas Priest, Quiet Riot, Angel, Stephen Pearcy, Sebastian Bach, Ratt, WASP, Joey Belladonna, Lillian Axe, Vicious Rumors and Dokken. Their musical style has definitely two directions: Powerful Hard Rock, with catchy and melodic choruses, but also strong Power Metal with might and decent musicianship. Judging the "Hard Rock" side of the band, I should say that I enjoyed tracks like "Key 2 Your Heart" (once again, the chorus forces the listener to sing-along) and the emotional ballad "I'm not afraid". Untaymed really make a difference to their sound when things are getting "heavier"! "On The Prowl", the songs that kicks-off the CD is a double bass attacker with a speedy chorus, but my picks form the album are "Animal", "Flirtin '99", "Tear Down The Walls" (with a high-pitched chorus from Chris Jacobson!) and my favourite "Lite In The Storm" (magnificent song, imagine that the band claims that this is their classy moment!). The band was definitely in their glory when they composed these storming Power Metal tracks! Chris Jacobson has a voice that fits the music, while the guitars from Michael Vaught add power and precision to the band's sound. I think that the band starves for success and I really wish them well since they can achieve many things! I'm sure that they can go of their new album! Untaymed have also a variety of 3 more releases (ncluding their latest release), so check their web-site on how you can order their stuff. Band's mySpace profile:
Dimitris Starakis

White Witch – The Power CD (White Witch & Nightmare Records)

To be honest, when I listened to the song "The Game that I play" from the band's profile, I thought that I should be ready to deal with a Rock 'n' Roll band! But when the band was kind enough to send me their stuff, they gave me the chance to listen to their full-length work; there was 180 degree turn in my mind! White Witch is a band which delivers lessons of how vintage Hard Rock / Heavy Metal should be played! Without a polished sound on their marks and with songs FULL of energy passion and inspiration, they really managed to satisfy my needs! Their sound is a revival of the NWOBHM sound with great one-guitar leads but they have that secret to keep their sound fresh and always popular! "The Power" is their second CD and the opening title track of the album shows a decent sample from the band's potential. However, I love the mid-tempo melodic tracks of White Witch, so I keep listening to songs like the pompous "Cry Of The Bain Sidhe" (Great, great, great guys!), Marianne (a little faster than "Cry…" with the guitar intro that brought to my mind the main riff from "Stars"!) and the heaviest "25 Hours To Live" (This must be a storming song when is performed live, You'll love the energy that White Witch produces on this particular track!). I was really amazed from the opus of the band, the 7-minute-long "The Crutch". Once again, guitarist Doug Lehman manages to deliver some great melodic licks and haunting sounds at the same time, while Jeff Pittinger's voice makes the sound of the band truly unique! As a last note, I should add the cover of Alice Cooper's "No More Mr. Nice Guy" that the King Alice himself allowed the band to cover it! Overall, I strongly recommend to all fans of decent Hard Rock / Metal to check White Witch, since their efforts are true and honest! You definitely surprised me guys!!! White Witch is ready also to release their 3rd album this year, so watch out for alerts, concerning them: . Band's mySpace profile:
Dimitris Starakis

WiszdomStone – Demo EP (Independent)

When I first discovered WiszdomStone, I realised that heir name was well-spread over mySpace and they reputation was rising rapidly. When their first EP came out and I think that the Power/Progressive Metal has witnessed a sensational project! I'm using the word "project" because Ray and Brian (the drummer and the guitarist of the band), called 3 different singers to participate in this release, something that gives a multi-dimensional approach to the songs. "Eyes Open" and "Without Faith" featuring Mike Stone, the guitarist of Queensryche, on vocals and these two songs represent the harder side of the band. Mike has a voice close to Zachary Steven's and the style of WiszdomStone in the above mentioned tracks are really close to Savatage and Circle II Circle. "Without Faith" could be easily a Savatage classic, with pounding rhythm and pompous chorus. "Unforgiven" was the songs that spread the name of the band in mySpace and is quite catchy and melodic, while featuring Andre (The Raid) on vocals. The strongest part of the song is definitely the chorus, that you cannot stop singing it again and again! "The Blade" which is the last but not the east song on this EP is my favourite WiszdomStone tune! Jim Maher handles the vocals on this and from his first vocal lines I can trace a strong Claus Meine influence in his style! However, Jim is quite original and pretty intense while the song continues, while the piano makes the feelings flow. The song also has the most touching moment of the EP: It starts when the piano plays in the background and Jim starts to sing: "…I cast a lantern on the water, watched it sail out to sea…". If you haven't listened to that part, you are missing a rare magical moment! What I appreciate in this project is the fact that guys are keeping their noses to the grindstone and they want to achieve the maximum performance in their songs. They definitely are trying to reach for the sky, so I wish them good luck! Be sure that their music will not pass unnoticed and pretty soon a label will offer them much more convenient methods to work with! Check their profile: and be sure to visit their workshop profile (
Dimitris Starakis

Innosense, Frank Caruso, Rachel's Coven reviews

Innosense – Life Demo-CD

This Greek band released a two song demo and immediately showed the world that is ready to establish a qualitative name in the global Progressive Metal scene! The band was formed in Larisa, a town known in Greece for its great Metal heritage! Innosense are lucky enough to include in their marks a talented vocalist named Vasilis Georgiou. Vasilis is gifted with a warm, passionate and full of expression voice and he definitely fits to the atmosphere that both songs have. "On And On" enters with an acoustic melody and Vasilis' almost whispering vocals, while it upgrades in power with a melodic and catchy chorus. "The Fall" is again extremely passionate, melodic and complex at times with a bridge and a refrain which stayed in my mind for long! Vasilis' vocal intro reminds me a little bit of Roy Khan, so you know that an intense emotion is the main characteristic once again. The only complaint that I have is that Innosense released only two promising songs and left us starving for more wonderful musical moments from them! Guys don't be late! We wait for your follow-up! Contact Warcry Enterntaintment on how to obtain their debut demo: Band's mySpace profile:
Dimitris Starakis

Frank Caruso – Kaleidoscope CD (Independent)

Frank is a known name if you're familiar with the Italian Metal scene. Having released 7 albums with Arachnes, his reputation has grown due to his skillful playing and time has come to test his abilities in a solo album. "Kaleidoscope" is an album featuring only two vocals songs (sang by his brother, Enzo Caruzo), out of which one is a cover on Rainbow's classic "Kill The King". Frank is definitely a guitarist who contributes some memorable melodies with intense neo-classical atmosphere, something that is clear from songs like the wonderful Red Passion (a lot of eastern musical influences are included here). Frank's influences are coming form the 70's, especially from bands like Deep Purple(check out "Ice Of Fire") and end up to great guitar heroes like Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Tony Macalpine, Vinnie Moore, Joe Satriani and others as well. The positive thing is that Frank doesn't end to be a copying machine; he has some fresh ideas and the albums flows very easily for the listener. The songs are not intended for musicians only. Their structure refers to songs that could have easily included vocals, so don't hesitate to purchase it, if instrumental albums are not so easy-going for your ears. Apart from my favorite "Red Passion", I couldn't stop listening several times to songs like "Shadows", the emotional "Adagio", "Lobotomy". So, grab your car, enter the fast lane and explode your car's speakers with Frank's music! Check out his profile at: Arachnes web-site:
Dimitris Starakis

Rachel's Coven – S/t CD (Independent)

When it comes to the U.S. Underground scene, you must always be prepared for hidden treasures that are always coming forward and surprise us! Rachel's Coven is another brilliant U.S. Power Metal band that released a wonderful debut and I'm sure that this is only the beginning! Having a vocalist named Bill McKeen with a strong, powerful but at the same time melodic voice (sometimes he reminds me of Harry "The Tyrant" Conklin of JAG PANZER!) and guitarist Jason Corrick who is a real virtuoso, Rachels Coven really put their name on the map and they surely met our expectations! It's crystal clear for the opening song "Night Flyer" that the band can amaze every U.S. Power metal fan! Pounding rhythm parts, melodic riffs, neo-classical and crystal clear solos and of course a voice that adds greatness to the band's sounds is the picture that Rachel's Coven gives to the listener. Their debut CD has quite numerous highlights to choose as favorites: "Reign" has a wonderful opening riff and the atmosphere of the song is ultra heavy, with pounding riffage and wonderful vocals! "How Long" is the band's melodic moment, with a brilliant chorus and solos that makes the listener to catch his breath! "The Call" and "Never" are quite powerful, with the second one to have more groovy chorus, but always being extremely heavy!"Scarlet Night" is my personal favorite, since it's the band's Metal hymn! It's truly the most intense and pompous track of the album and its chorus is surely a killer!!! "Straight Between The Eyes" is another ace of the band and a true U.S. Power Metal celebration! Fans of Jag Panzer and of the U.S. scene, this is for you! I really hope that everything will go well for this talented band, since I think that this is only the beginning! The best is yet to come! Check Rachel's Coven mySpace profile and find out how you can order their CD:
Dimitris Starakis

Friday, April 27, 2007

Matthew Mills ( Forgotten Realm, M.O.S.) Interview


When it comes to Neoclassical Metal, I believe that Matthew Mills must be the most active guitarist out there! A member in 3 projects, teaching music and composing endlessly, he surely has much to offer to the scene! In the following interview, Matt talks about his past, his present as well as his future career. Let's see what he has to reveal...

What forced you to pick up the guitar and at what age?

I started to play guitar when I was 15 and I was completely blown away buy all the great metal albums and bands of the 80s. Metallica, Iron Maiden, Helloween. I really wanted to play guitar after hearing Yngwie Malmsteens instrumental tune Trilogy. I couldn't believe that is was guitar when I first heard it. That album totally changed my life and approach to guitar. The album from Vinnie Moore called Minds Eye was amazing the same way. Everything on the album was harmonized and some of the best melodies in Neoclassical guitar instrumental music.

Why you chose Neoclassical Metal to express yourself?

The love of Neoclassical and playing neoclassical is something that has always stuck with me through out the years. I feel like I have a spiritual connection to music I am able to express my feeling and emotions the best with this style of music. The music combines the power aspect of fast metal guitar with the beautiful melodies of Classical Music. The two seem to be a perfect fit!

Your first solo CD, simply titled "Matt Mills Project" was released in 2002. Looking back at it now, is there anything that you would like to change?

Well, when I listen to the album I find that there would be many things I would change because its a few years old now. I feel like my playing song writing has grown so much in the last few years. My new album that is soon to be released is some of my best writing and playing

In the same period, you form the band FORGOTTEN REALM. Why you chose not to focus only in instrumental music?

Well, when I started Forgotten Realm I always wanted a power metal band that was like Iron Maiden and Yngwie Malmsteen. I wanted to connect to a larger audience then just guitar fanatics but I seem to be known for My instrumental as of now.

Joe Hasselvander handles the drum kit in the band's first recordings. How did that happen?

Well, Joe was living in VA at the time and we thought he would be a great player for the band we parted ways because of certain members that were in the old incarnation of the band. He is a great guy and a great drummer. I hope to work with him again one day. Many false rumors were started about him and why he left the band but it had to do the older incarnation of Forgotten Realm. I consider the bands current line up to be the best and the true Forgotten Realm.

It took you three years to release the follow-up to your debut. Why it took you so long to release "Neoclassical Rock Guitar"?

Well, I really took a lot time away from the instrumental material because I was focused so much on Forgotten Realm. I eventually got around to recording the material when I felt like the older incarnation of Forgotten Realm was feeling restricting. I found that the instrumental material was such a free experience for me. I recorded and wrote the songs on Neoclassical rock guitar exactly the way I wanted them to be. I had the material just done in 2004 but I wasn't able to release it until early 2005. The album has been a collection of songs that are strong and moody and very catchy hooks with plenty of speed and over the top playing.

Joe Stump contributes his soloing in "Shattered Horizons". How that participation took place?

I took some guitar lessons from Joe and I always dreamed of playing with him on a song and the song that soloed on was just perfect for his style. I feel Joe Stump is one the best Guitar players in the world His phrasing and vibrato are perfect. We sent him the song and he recorded his solo parts and then he sent the tracks to us and we mixed it in. It turned out to be a really cool guitar battle between us!

In "NeoClassical…" you name a song as "Freedom Of The Artistic Mind". Tell us why.

"Freedom of the Artistic Mind" was a song that really has Mood and a feel that captures the essence of my style. The melody and Keyboard parts are very haunting to me. When I am able to compose a melody that really captures my true feelings towards love of music I feel that i have done my job as Musician and composer. The song has a lot memories attached to it that make me realize that music can be spiritual.

Which are the main differences between your debut and your second album?

Well, the main differences are that the second album was better produced and I used a lot of keyboards that really gave the album a lot of mood and atmosphere. I felt like the tempos on the second album are faster and the melodies are stronger on the second album. I am always trying to play and write the best I can through each song. I love both albums but Neoclassical Rock is a stronger and better written album to me. I hope that my fans will enjoy my third album and notice the growth of my style.

After the release of "NeoClassical…" we witness a collaboration with you and David Fefolt in FORGOTTEN REALM. Describe us the background that got you together.

I was searching on line for singers and I found David's email address and contact info. I thought he was one of the best singers in hard rock ever! I am so happy to be working with him on this album (Forgotten Realm) He has written such catchy melodies and deep lyrics he is truly amazing talent. His voice is so powerful and clear! At first when I meet Dave I was concerned that he might not want to sing on the Forgotten Realm stuff because he has worked more with hard rock bands than power metal bands. But really loves the material and its great to hear him in the power metal setting.

You have stated in the past in your web-site that LMP was ready to release the FORGOTTEN REALM CD. Why didn't that happen? Have you signed a deal with Sonic Age Records?

Well, the situation between LMP and Forgotten Realm was a big disaster mainly because of the tension and disagreements between members of the band. I lost control of the album the mixing mastering the drum sound every detail certain members felt that they wanted to make into something different. I was almost completely kicked out of my own band!! But luckily I got out with the songs that I WROTE and was able to have more control over the songs and writing. I almost lost the name of the band as well. But luckily I was able to keep the band name. Certain members of the old incarnation of the band had taken over a lot of the paper work regarding the record deal and many decisions regarding the studio for recording. LMP had to witness this tension so they didn't work with us anymore. I approached LMP a year later with a new line up we where almost signed with them again for a second time but they wanted to change our sound into something that was way different from the original vision of what we wanted. So Sonic Age Records came along and the have given us more Musical freedom. I had no problem signing with them. I learned a lot from the years with Forgotten Realm and the most important lesson I learned was never trust members of a band that take to much control everyone has a vision in a band and it all can work together.

Will the FORGOTTEN REALM CD feature any guests?

There will be a few guests. Reynold Butch Carlson has recorded two of the songs "Time" and "Forgotten Realm".

You are currently recording stuff with bassist Steve Sexton and Drummer Gary Oppert. Why you created the M.O.S. Project? Will it feature any vocal songs?

I was asked to play on there album back in the summer and its been a great experience so far they have really allowed me to play the way I wanted to on this album. It going to an album that mixes elements of Neoclassical and progressive metal. The M.O.S project will only be instrumental.

You are really active, while participating in two bands and having also your solo career. Aren't you afraid sometime of running out of ideas?

I am never afraid of running out of ideas. As long as I love the style of music I am playing the ideas will flow. I very happy to be busy with so many projects I love to play as much as I can.

You're also a guitar teacher. What the main idea that you try to advise your students?

I try to encourage my students to improvise and write there own songs. I try to make them have great technique theory and urge them to be creative. There is more to music than playing someone's else's music. a musician should be a great composer as well.

What's your opinion about the NeoClassical Metal scene nowadays and the future of the genre?

I think the Neoclassical scene is doing well because of players like Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Stump and George Bellas. I feel that the style has taken on many new elements like more progressive elements like ood meter things of that nature. The first generation of neoclassical players were focused on writing songs and incorporating a lot of new musical territory with all the techniques that were exploding in the 80s like sweep picking string skipping and tapping. I think that its similar now but the style has gotten faster and heavier!!

Have you ever thought of touring in order to promote your music?

I hope to set up a tour in the future I really do like to perform.

Which is your ultimate dream as a musician?

My ultimate dream as a musician is to keep playing and recording Forever!!

Add anything you may want.

Thank you for interviewing me and I hope that everyone can check out my new site and I hope to have my third album out in the early spring of 2007!

Dimitris Starakis

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