Sunday, 19 December 2010

Top 50 albums of the year.

So here it is again. My top 50 albums of the year in reverse order.

50. Fear Factory – Mechanize
Great come back album. Could be my fave FF of all time and Burton sounds the best he has ever done in my opinion.

49. Kiske & Somerville - st
Love anything Kiske does these days apart from his shitty solo albums. Great chemistry between the two for me although I have read this chemistry questioned by some but for me it's a delightful album.

48. First Signal – st
Harry Hess of Harem Scarem fame fronts a typical Frontiers melodic rock project. Works out just great for me.

47. Gamma Ray - To The Metal!
To be honest the Rays delivered just a solid melodic power metal album of the likes which Kai can probably write in his sleep. Helloween has you beat Kai I'm sorry to say. Still even an average GR album is enjoyable enough.

46. Iron Maiden - The Final Frontier
Almost included by default. I don't like the raw production much but some of these songs are very good and I'm sure will sound a 1000 times better live. The Talisman is almost worth the admission price alone.

45. Reckless Love - st
Super cleanly produced glammy AOR with cheese montor dial set to eleven. But when you have the tunes to back it up who can resist?

44. Overkill - Ironbound
I think this is the first Overkill album I have liked from start to finish. Possibly their finest hour. Never been a fan of Bobby Blitz's vocals which is probably why this isn't higher in my list cause the music wrecks necks no doubt about it.

43. Virgin Steele - The Black Light Bacchanalia
I count myself as a bit of a VS fanboy. I liked Visions of Eden song wise but the production was cheap. This time the production is much clearer and better but not perfect by any means. The songs are regular VS fare however as many have noted Mr. Defeis does tend to under sing a little, he doesn't really belt it out like in the old days. Maybe his voice is shot who knows. Anyway I enjoyed this album.

42. Halford - Made Of Metal
The love it or hate it Halford album. The only complaint I have is with the production which really is not up to standard for this day and age. The songs are very fun and melodic metal with Mr. H in very good form.

41. Bonded By Blood - Exiled To Earth
A top quality thrash metal throwback with only the vocals being a bit painful but the dude has left now so we will see how the next one turns out. Musically they are on the money!

40. Magic Kingdom - Symphony Of War
Dushan Petrossi's other band finally released and it was worth the wait. I am not quite sure if I like it as much as his other band Iron Mask but this album is top quality melodic neo-classical metal.

39. Helstar - Glory of Chaos
I didn't like their previous album but the new one hit it out of the park with me. Great thrashy power with sizzling vocals from the main man James Rivera.

38. Human Temple - Murder of Crows
Typical Finnish melodic rock merchants deliver wonderfully catchy songs in the main, with lush production and sweet vocals. If you like the style, you'll love Human Temple, it's that simple really.

37. ReinXeed - Majestic
I have liked all the ReinXeed releases so far to differing degrees but Majestic is far and away the best. Lightning fast, airy melodic speed metal, with swashbuckling keys and high as a kite vocals from main man Tommy. Some would call it cheesy as hell but I just call it a whole heap of happy!

36. Wuthering Heights - Salt
The last two WH have been magical and Salt is more of the same from the band. The vocal performance of Patrik Johansson is of course teh main draw for me. The music is so dazzling and melodic that it takes a few plays to fully cement itself in your brain but once it does your in for a hell of a ride!

35. Rhapsody of Fire - The Frozen Tears of Angels
Finally they are back and with two releases this year no less! I think Luca finally realised that Rhapsody of Fire is a heavy metal band first and foremost which is what makes this comeback so good. The band were lost in the Joey created dark abyss but now they are fully back on track. Oh to one day catch them live - tis but a dream of mine! Oh and Luca please make that Keeper 3 album you promised us many moons ago with Olaf Hayer doing his best Kiske impression - you owe it to us!

34. H.E.A.T - Freedom Rock
The kings of AOR currently deliver a strong follow up to the stand out debut. The singer Kenny has gone now but the new guy promises to be just as good. They are due to release an ep with him with some new songs and re-records of early songs with his new vocals. We will see how it turns out but Kenny is mighty big shoes to fill as he delivers a stellar performance on these tunes.

33. InnerWish - No Turning Back
These guys were missing for year and years but they came back with a huge band this year. This is a real solid melodic power metal album with plenty of balls and memorable songs with plenty of fat choruses to get stuck into. Nice one by the Greeks!

32. Edenbridge - Solitaire
Been loving Sabine and co since the Shine album now and Solitaire is yet another fantastic release. The production on this album is just incredible being heavy as lead and yet crystal clear. I love Sabine's style of singing and the songs are very good for the most part. I know some have claimed the album is 'boring' but I hear only the opposite so I'm very happy with this album.

31. Issa - Sign Of Angels
Another one of those manufactured Frontiers releases, but when the quality of songwriting is this good then who can bith? Issa is a gal going places make no mistake, she can really sing and looks the part. Whether she makes it in melodic rock music is open to question but she could be really quite big in Europe if they tone down the guitars for her. However for the sake of us rockers let's hope they don't do that and she comes back with another top quality follow up. I'm sure the Frontiers team have a follow up in mind, they are not stupid, they know when they have a hit on their hands.

30. Wicked Sensation - Crystallized
Another melodic rock come back gem, this time from our Deutsch friends. The production on this album is near enough flawless. The songs are memorable and the vocals are super clear. Again if you enjoy melodic rock/metal you can't go wrong with Wicked Sensation.

29. Grand Magus - Hammer Of The North
This is grand indeed. Pounding true heavy metal to be sung loud and proud from cliff tops with wind in your hair etc. These guys have moved away from the real doomy stuff and remind me a little bit of Amon Amarth musically speaking only of course with those chest beating pounding riffs and magical calls to Valhalla reflected in the pwoerful vocals. Epic!

28. Volbeat - Beyond Hell Above Heaven
Sure the wonder of Volbeat has worn off and they've been making similar albums for a while now but it seems there is a slight change in the air this time. The songs sound much more melodic than before not that they weren't melodic then, but it somehow sounds even catchier now. One of those bands that's quite hard to put down to be honest and almost a guilty pleasure though there's nothing to be guilty about in loving da 'beat!

27. Degreed - Life Love Loss
A melodic pop/rock debut full of wonderfully catchy material. They are very young and sound it on record, but they are also very professional and when you have a debut of this much quality, it really bodes well for the future.

26. Suicidal Angels - Dead Again
Old school thrash doesn't get any better than this for me. A rip roaring, short, sharp ride through Slayer infested waters, made for people who like to bang their heads - a lot!

25. Sinbreed - When Worlds Collide
Another top class German band this time at the heavy end of the power metal spectrum. Carrying the torch where bands like Running Wild and Grave Digger to a lesser extent have left it behind.

24. Firewind - Days of Defiance
Been a Gussy fanboy for years now. Firewind have slowly evolved from a straight up heavy power band to more of a melodic rock direction which suits me fine as I love both styles. However this album sees a toning down of the melodic elements and a return to more of a heavy power metal sound. I don't think it's as good as The Premonition but it's a really good album in it's own right. Apollo sounds totally amazing as always.

23. Masterplan - Time to be King
Yet another really great come back although I guess some people will have other views. I for one think Jorn needed to sing for Masterplan and they did the best they could do. The songs were there and the sound was really heavy. I've read complaints about the production but I don't hear any major flaws myself. A very enjoyable platter and any time Jorn sings I'm listening!

22. Vega - Kiss Of Life
Another debut from the UK this time and it's pretty much flawless as you would expect from a Frontiers release. The production is tip top as are the songs. I am not a huge huge fan of the vocals which can be a touch thin on occasion but that's such a minor complaint as song wise the album can hold it's head up high with the best of them.

21. Versailles - Jubilee
An acquired taste in power metal circles shall we say, but the band never ceases to amaze with their music skills. The vocals will always be a major stumbling block for most but I must admit I have got used to the warbling buzzard with time and the music is always enough of a draw, especially the sumptious production values and spectacular playing ability.

20. Dark Moor – Ancestral Romance
Massive fan of the last Dark Moor and I looked forward to this follow up with baited breath and at first I wasn't so sure but then after more plays I realised this is a wonderful release in it's own right. It's majestic, has many troughs and valleys and a crystal clear production. The symphonic elements and the ambition of the band is also pretty breath taking at times. This one needs plays galore but you will be rewarded in time.

19. Galneryus – Resurrection
With a new singer on board I wasn't sure how the new Galneryus will sound, but I shouldn't have worried cause it sounds bloody great! The music is always sweeping melodic power with top notch sonics and the new guy on the mic has a much mroe pleasant voice to listen to and sounds less 'Japanese' hehe!

18. Stone Sour - Audio Secrecy
A shock entry from this modern rock Slipknot spin off band. I hadn't liked a single song from the band before the little that I had heard of them, but when i first heard the single Say You'll Haunt Me, I was haunted alright! The vocals for Corey are really good, the guitars, rock and the songs stay in your head for days. Only the production was a touch muddy for my tastes. Songwise it had it all as far as modern rock goes.

17. Signum Regis - The Eyes of Power
A recent entry but what an album from a little known guy from Slovakia who does everything by himself and has Goran Edman and a couple of guests do the vocals. This album is just pure pleasure to listen to let me tell you. Melodic power metal with a slight melodic rock edge and also a shred angle all topped off with Goran's crystal clear vocals. For someone with my taste this really is a no brainer.

16. Allen Lande - The Showdown
Well we've been waiting for the third Allen lande instalment from the songwriting sword of Magnus Karlsson and it doesn't disappoint one jot. Sure it goes over tried and tested ground but when you can listen through without feeling the urge to hit the skip button then your in melodic heaven with two of the finest voices in rock at the helm to boot. I have never been a big Allen fan but always a huge Jorn fan but this album made me an Allen fan.

15. Accept - Blood Of The Nations
Holy Shit this is good! I am not a fan of Udo's vox but I know his place in Accept is almost sacrosanct according to some, but damn this guy does a tip top job. The production courtesy of Sneap is what you would expect of course, being massively heavy and in your face, but you still need the tunes and Accept have outdone themselves. I would say it's the best Accept album ever by far personally speaking, having no great allegiance to the early days with Udo. I will catch them on the UK tour in early 2011 you betcha!

14. Pretty Maids - Pandemonium
Another band that I've never had a love affair with in the past that really shocked with the quality of their album. This is melodic heavy metal at it's very best and make no mistake. I haven't been into Pretty Maids much in the past but if they ever make it over to our shores, I'll be there in a flash judging by this album.

13. Helloween - 7 Sinners
Gambling with the Devil was awesome and 7 Sinners follows suit. Andi Deris is now at the heart of everything great about modern day Helloween and belongs as the lead singer of the band. The quality in this album remains at a high standard all the way. The production is very heavy and perhaps could have been a touch clearer if I'm being extra picky. Songwise the band is in great form though I am not sure if I like the album as much as it's predecessor.

12. Aeon Zen – The Face Of The Unknown
This young boy really has some amazing chops and is a top class songwriter to boot. This album is not perfect from beginning to end especially vocally as too many different people sing with various levels of success including Rich Binks himself. It would be wise to find one singer next time. Musically almost flawless in my eyes.

11. Astral Doors - Requiem Of Time
The band that can do no wrong. Album after album sounds exactly the same. Do I care? The hell do I! They just have the knack for writing cool tunes and when you have one of the best rock singers in the world on the mic you can't really go far wrong in my eyes. Hopefully they are working on a follow up quickly as I know these guys work pretty fast.

10. Grand Illusion - Brand New World
Wonderfully produced Svensk melodc pomp rock comeback. These guys had some cool albums under their belts in the past but nothing that I would go gaga over, but the new album did send me over the top when I first heard it. Some of it has worn off over time but it deserves it's position due to the number of times I played it earlier on in the year. The production on this thing is literally a million dollars. A joyous listen.

09. Dream Evil - In The Night
The most fun heavy metal band out there. Some don't get it but I think most metal fans have a soft spot for da 'Evil in their hearts. In The Night was almost as good as United but maybe a touch below. That still gives it easy top ten status for me. They rock live too!

08. Axel Rudi Pell - The Crest
Love Axel's style and album after album he delivers the same high standard of melodic metal. The Crest is an all round solid record and with Johnny Gioeli in top form on the mic.

07. Rage - Strings to a web
Loved Carved in Stone the rpevious effort but I know many didn't but Strings to a Web is even better in my eyes. I love the guitar play from Viktor Smolski and Peavy is his usual "cool as hell frontman" self. The song writing is very good all round and the album is just a great ride. Love it to death!

06. Pathfinder - Beyond The Space Beyond The Time
Holy crap these guys have created one of the most spectacular symphonic power metal debuts of all time. These Poles have really honed their style to perfection. They've been around quite a while and have created quite a buzz here and there with the odd song, but the album as a whole is just a magnificent record in my eyes.

05. Treat - Coup De Grace
Great comeback time! I've said that a few times in this run down haven't I! Well this time it really is true. These Swedes have completely bowled me over with this release. The songs, the sound, the good time feel, everything is more or less perfect. The only thing which is slightly below what I would call perfect are the vocals which whilst very good are not technically perfect always but that's basically really splitting hairs as a criticism. Amazing album!

04. Alter Bridge - AB III
That three great albums in a row from these giants of US modern hard rock. Blackbird was just an amazing record but by the Gods of Rock they've actually managed to equal if not better it! The vocal performance from Myles Kennedy is truly a wonder for the ears. The songwriting is consistently strong as strong as an ox and it makes you wonder how they keep churning out these wonderfully strong melodies song after song. Perhaps the album that hits strongest on an emotional level this year.

03. Sabaton - Coat Of Arms
When I first heard Coat of Arms I was almost a touch disappointed. I thought it was quite a step down from The Art of War and whilst I still think that album is unbeatable, I have now grown to adore Coat of Arms almost just as much. The band just has this addictive sense of melody and free flowing melodic power metal that I find very hard to resist.

02. Seventh Wonder - The Great Escape
When I first heard this album my mouth was literally nailed to the floor. I thought damn these guys have gone and topped Mercy Falls which I thought was an impossible task. But heck, they've somehow managed it. The production on this record is phenomenal and cannot be bettered ever. This is how melodic metal should sound in my book. In general prog metal is not a genre which Iam a major fan of however with a band like Seventh Wonder the melodic quotient is set so high that it immediately grabs and never lets go. It's also one of those albums that reveals further charms the more you play it. The vocals are also one of the best in the business. His tone and melody is really pure aural ambrosia for the ears.

01. Instanzia - Ghost
So I arrive at the number one disk of the year for me and it to be honest it is a complete surprise. This disk has completey bowled me over. Imagine that some unknowns from Canada on their debut album deliver something so spectacularly good that it floors everything else I've heard this year. Ok this is very high praise indeed and perhaps a little over the top, but put the praise in context that this is their debut effort and most bands need time but these guys have immediately made their name. I'm sure many people won't probably hear them and ignore them as a noob band, but goddamn these boys have it all. Their songwriting skills are really something to be hold. There is not one weak moment in this album that I can hear. The choruses swirl around your head like a swarm of bees and embed themselves long after the songs have finished. The replaybility of this disk is just through the roof for me. The lead vocals could perhaps be a touch more powerful, hwoever this is nit picking in the extreme. The choir back ups are wonderful and pure sugar for the ears and even the lyrical matter intrigues me at times and normally I could care less about lyrics but I listen quite closely to the words this time. They even give Sabaton a run for their money with a lyrically sympathetic song about Field Marshall Rommell. I'm not sure about the accuracy of it and about Rommell being a "good guy" on the "dark side" but anyway the song itself is completely amazing. So well done guys you deserve my number one spot. There's not an original note to be heard here but with songs of this magnitude you just can't go wrong. Brilliant!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Top 40 death metal albums of 2010

Yes it's that time again. This year's death metal has been rather so so I must say. I always find albums to like though and I have found 40 worthy of my time though of course not everyone's!

40. Decimation - Anthems Of An Empyreal Dominion
Cool death metal with intricate riffing.

39. Diluvian – Epidemic
Tight and clinical tech death blastathon.

38. Made of Hate - Pathogen
Great riffed up melodeath with slightly raw production but tons of riffs to enjoy.

37. Revolting - The Terror Threshold
Old school death metal is king.

36. Heaving Earth - Diabolic Prophecies
Morbid Angel worship is king.

35. A Loathing Requiem - Psalms Of Misanthropy
Necrophagist worship is win but production is lose.

34. Synperium - Elemental Disharmony
Aussie staccato tech death but not quite as good as the best but solid nevertheless.

33. Ichor - Benthic Horizon
Brutality and death metal music with songs fixated with the sea.

32. The Absence - Enemy Unbound
Top quality melodic death metal a genre which I have slowly fallen out of love with but when it's done properly well who can resist.

31. Solerrain - Fighting The Illusion
Super dooper Bodom worship from the icy Russian wastes. Fast, melodic and well produced.

30. Cerberus - Redemption Of Demigod
Clinical and tight brutal death from our Chilean amigos. Comprende?

29. Overoth - Kingdom Of Shadows
Morbid Angel worship is king and then some as far as this band's concerned.

28. Fleshwrought – Dementia-Dyslexia
Well played tech death.

27. Sarcolytic - Thee Arcane Progeny
Super brutal and tight tech death.

26. Demiurg - Slakthus Gamleby
Classic old school death with Dan Swano and the man man Rogga Johannson

25. Inherit Disease - Visceral Transcendence
The most brutal album by far in my list. Not for the weak of will or heart. I know everyone hates it.

24. Sothoros - Flood The Stone
Again well played tech death with some melody as well.

23. Fleshrot – Traumatic_Reconfiguration
Standard cool death metal like Cannibal Corpse but faster.

22. Element - The Energy
Sci-fi tech death with clean sound. Like Detachment or Psyferia or bands of that ilk.

21. Atheist - Jupiter
I have very mixed views on this come back. The production sounds good but the arrangements sound very messy and disjointed to me. There's not much flow. I have never liked the vocals in Atheist and I continue to dislike them in fact I think he completely sucks as a "death metal growler singer or whatever". Having said that there are some amazing riffs on the album so all is not lost but for my ears this album could have been so much better if the songs were more catchy and focused.

20. Dawn Of Demise - A Force Unstoppable
Cool and heavy riffing death metal plain and simple.

19. Dark Tranquillity - We Are The Void
The kings of the genre gets darker and more blackened but still have class in spades.

18. Arsis - Starve for the Devil
Good solid melodic death metal with pristine production. I'll take them over Arch Enemy any day.

17. Zilla - Pragmatic Evolution
Melodic and tech death with slightly bad vocals but nice music. I'll get over the vox.

16. Entrails - Tales From The Morgue
Hahahaha! (that was supposed to be an evil laugh by the way!) Killer old school death with Sunlight guitar sound and all round catchy, deathly, ghostly, gravely, evilness.

15. Diskreet - Engage The Mechanicality
Brutal and tech death guys with much more tech sound than before with a cleaner production. Like it cerebral? Listen to Diskreet!

14. Flesh Consumed - Ecliptic Dimensions of Suffering
Brutal and tech death machine, very well played.

13. Hideous Deformity - Defoulment Of Human Purity
Really solid brutal tech death with great separation in the production and really solid all round.

12. Kalmah - 12 Gauge
The best melodeath album of the year with ease. Kalmah are real stalwarts of this genre now.

11. Severe Torture - Slaughtered
The European Corpse Worship Machine as I like to tag them. They know what the fuck they are doing and deliver brutality and hig precision level death metal.

10. Annotations Of An Autopsy - The Reign Of Darkness
Ex UK deathcore merchants leave that bullshit behind and deliver solid and heavy pounding death metal with strong Morbid Angel licks and slowish groove riffs.

09. King Of Asgard – Fi'mbulvintr
The new Amon Amarth so to speak.

08. Arkaik - Reflections Within Dissonance
Brutal and high quality tech death from this underground band. A brilliant and well played album with cool intuitive riffs.

07. Colonize the Rotting - Composing the Masticated
One of the best productions I have ever heard on a brutal death metal album. the sound is totally monstrously massive and yet crystal clear. The songs are short groovy and to the point with high precision level drums and riffing.

06. Aeon - Path Of Fire
Swedish uber satanists deliver their usual catchy death metal with stomps, grooves and cool vocals with lyrics which to me seem slightly tongue in cheek.

05. Stigmatized - Whispers of the Dead
German mob return after great first album and do not disappoint. The production is fabulous and there are some totally brilliant passages here. The vocals are a bit too mixed up and I wish they would stick with the Chuck/Tardy mix of the first album. Musically these guys can hold their head with the best that death metal has to offer.

04. Jack Slater - Extinction Aftermath
One more for our Deutsch friends in Jack Slater. Clean riffed heavy tech death with quality sound. What more can you ask for as a fan of death metal I say.

03. Decrepit Birth – Polarity
Not sure if Polarity is as good as the previous album but it sure as hell kicks ass in it's own right. These guys have the most amazing solos I've heard all year.

02. Soreption - Deterioration Of Minds
Wow what top quality Decapitated worship this is. If you like stop start clincal riffathons then this band is for you. The songs are very catchy to boot.

01. Son of Aurelius - The Farthest Reaches
This is just a stupendous album of death metal magic. Yes it has links to the deathcore scene and I will say that the vocals took a damn lot of getting used to from my perspective (and i still don't like them by the way), however the music in this band is just amazing to say the least. Free flowing not overly busy or brain damaging but with superb musicianship. I just love the flow and the melodies these guys use in their riffs. It all seems so effortless though I'm sure it's as complex as hell. I also like the fact that they don't try to be too brutal and just let the music flow so well so that it doesn't sound disjointed like in many death metal bands.

So that's it for death metal in 2010. Cannibal Corpse will release in 2011. Let's hope it rips face!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Taste of Chaos Tour @ Wembley Arena Live Report

Wasn’t planning on going to this tour by any means but when you can nab a ticket for half price you have to give it a go don’t you and the thing is I’ve wanted to see Disturbed for a good while now having become a fan from the Believe album onwards. Of course 3 other bands were on this bill as well, namely female fronted rockers Halestorm, glamsters Buckcherry and melodic nu-metallers Papa Roach.

Luckily the guy I got the ticket off had bought a seat that was perfectly situated to the right of the stage and close enough to see the stage clearly but without being able to see the whites of their eyes but with a great view. The venue is not really set out to be a music venue as the seats face the main floor and the stage is at one end so you end up swivelling in your seat a little towards the stage.

Anyway as I sat down Halestorm were just starting their second or third song. They sounded quite good and they have quite a feisty lady fronting them whose hair used to be blonde as I recall but it was dyed brunette this time. The band sounded fine and so did she. It wasn’t that exciting but it was a good enough warm up. The last song Get Off is their most famous and best tune and got the biggest response from the crowd.

A little word about the crowd actually. This audience was not one which I usually recognise as my fellow gig goers. I’d say the majority of the crowd would be classed as casual metal fans. In the sense that these were normal people who happened to like or heard some Disturbed or Papa roach and though it was cool. Of course there were a lot of youngsters at the show who obviously are only into nu-school or jump da fuck up metal and also a lot of what we call “Chavs” or what you Yanks would call “white trash” at the show. These bands just seem to attract this type of fan for some reason though of course Disturbed seem to attract all types of people who are transfixed by their unity under metal mantra.

Anyway it was time for Buckcherry. I know zilch about them aprt from seeing a few pics and interviews in rock mags and knowing that they are glammy. And glammy they were in spades! They sounded like AC/DC gone glam or sleazy. That All Night Long song got the crowd going which was filling up nicely by now. I’d guess the final attendance to be around 6-7000 or so. The seats weren’t full by any means but the floor was heavily packed. Back to Buckcherry and soon the very energetic frontman took his top off to reveal a lean multicoloured torso full of tatts and started doing his dancing madcap whirling dervish routine. Can’t say I will ever be a Buckcherry fan but they entertain no doubt.

Next up were Paparoach whose only song I know is of course Last Resort with the Maiden riff steal in it. It seems a lot of their songs have melodic metal motifs in them one other example being The Enemy and plenty of others too. Paparoach is one of those bands that the kids go apeshit for and I mean really fucking apeshit. There were huge pits breaking out all over the place and it was quite a sight watching a sea of kids being swept around the floor like a rowdy human sea or something. The front man for Paparoach whose name escapes me was very good at inciting a near enough riot during the the final song which was of course their number one anthem, Last Resort. Look I’m not rushing out to get Paparoach cds after this but you can’t deny they put on a spectacle of melodic nu-metal posturing and slam dancing which was a real sight to be hold from my vantage point. I’ll pass on the music though!

And finally at 9.45pm we arrived at Disturbed and my only real reason for being there. The stage set was much more interesting to look at with large video screens behind the band which sometimes show the band and other times videos of the song the band happen to be playing. The sound was very crisp although I noticed that the guitar was a bit low in the mix and didn’t sound as good as Paparoach’s did by far. However David Draiman’s voice was mixed stupendously loud compared with the other instruments and I think I know why. He has a lot of problems with his voice and I think he is mixed super loud so he doesn’t have to sing himself hoarse in order to be heard above the rest of the music.

The band is very tight once they hit their stride with their booming brand of powerful metal, which sounds very empowering so to speak. My fave songs were Prayer and Inside the Fire but the whole set was played tight and very well. The only this I would say is that Draiman sometimes changes vocal melodies very slightly when compared to the albums, which could be another problem that has arisen from his vocal problems. Not that it makes that much difference and it’s even quite cool to hear it in a different way sometimes. The vocal acrobatics that he does were done flawlessly and he seemed to be singing within himself and not busting his balls with emotion or anything, yet another sign of the vocal situation that he has.

The crowd response for them was not as huge and immense as it was for Paparoach but it was close. Multiple crazy pits were breaking out and of course the “unity in metal” that Draiman never ceases to go an about is quite cool to witness though possibly a little bit cheesy. They are a very powerful band and with the songs to back it up although I must admit I think I prefer them on record than live personally speaking.
The final song of the night is their anthem Down With The Sickness and finally saw the Wembley Arena floor going literally bananas with mega amounts of pits breaking out and a fitting end to the night it was.

The Game
Land of Confusion
The Animal
Inside the Fire
Another Way to Die
Ten Thousand Fists

Down with the Sickness

Monday, 6 December 2010

Helloween and Stratovarius Live Report

On a perishingly cold Sunday night the London power metal throngs gathered at the HMV Forum for two of the giants of the game to show us what they can do to warm us up. First of all, as I walked in the venue a third and unexpected band were on stage doing the actual warming up so to speak. I didn't have any idea about the presence of this band who were in fact Trick or Treat from Spain. I actually know these guys quite well and they are quite fun. I only caught 3 songs from the band and they sounded quite happy and fun but the singer had an extremely high voice with a rather thick Spanish accent which is a bit funny but power metal is supposed to be fun is it not? ToT were that indeed for three songs..

It is my first time in this venue and I found it to be a really nice place to hold a gig of this size. The upstairs was actually shut off completely as the attendance obviously did not warrant said opening. The crowd slowly built in anticipation for Stratovarius and finally at 8pm they took to the stage with an 800 or so crowd ready to welcome them to London once again. I must admit the sound was pretty excellent all night although I had trouble hearing Timo's vocals on occasion. It was rather strange to see only two long term Strato members on stage - namely Timo and Jens of course. However the new guitarist is really a top notch player and nailed his parts to perfection although he's not the most expressive guy facially.

Timo tried hard to get the crowd going and to begin with it was a bit of a struggle but slowly the crowd was warming to the task. Timo announced that Jorg Michael was ill and would rejoin the band in January but they had a very suitable replacement by the name of Alex something or other I forget what. Anyway the band is very tight indeed replacement drummer or not. I must admit I don't recognise quite a lot of the set list although I've heard them in the past, I'm just not enough of a Strato fanboy to be singing along to the tunes but there were plenty of people present who were obviously! My favourite song of the night was Speed of Light which was played lightning last and sounded very good indeed. Kiss of Judas was also a recognisable highlight. Winter Skies was also excellently played and sung. The song of the set however was the furiously catchy Hunting High and Low. The last song was Black Diamond of course one of theie most famous. I actually don't like this song much oddly enough but people loved it of course. At 9pm Stratovarius finally left the stage to long applause. They pleased me but I wasn't overly excited by them to be honest but like I said I am not a huge huge Strato fan or anything but I respect them as one of the power metal biggies in Europe. I sometimes wonder how Stratovarius would sound if they were a twin guitar band but that's for another day. The only thing I would repeat is that it's rather odd for the founder of the band to not be up there on stage with them not that I care or anything though. I guess it's better for the band that he's not though as the new album Elysium could be very special..hopefully!

  1. Phoenix
  2. Legions
  3. Darkest Hours
  4. The Kiss of Judas
  5. Against the Wind
  6. Winter Skies
  7. Speed of Light
  8. Deep Unknown
  9. Paradise
  10. Hunting High and Low
  11. Black Diamond
Finally at around 9.40pm Helloween took to the stage with a blisteringly heavy version of Are You Metal? blaring out of the speakers. The song sounded much better live than it does on record as well. The band looked and sounded on tip top form by all reckoning and this after just one song. The sound was crystal clear more or less instantly which I am not used to happening in London gigs, as normally it takes the sound guys a couple of songs to sort things out but this time there was no such problems.

Andi Deris was really into it in a rather big way I must say and got the crowd well pumped who were much more vociferous than they were for Stratovarius. Eagle Fly Free saw full crowd participation on the chorus and most of the song actually and Andi often turned the mic to the crowd and was met with loud singing. Andi's vocals were top notch all night and he nailed the highs even though he did make one funny quip before one song with rather too many high notes! He said something to the affect that he has his "predecessor to thank for that!" referring to Kiske of course.

I must admit I had seen recent helloween setlists which were personally speaking much better for me , featuring newer songs which are more in line with my personal taste. However what they did perform, they did with flawless abandon. Markus' bass playing was awesome to say the least and he sounded crystal clear in the sound mix which helped no end. I was hoping to hear World of Fantasy from the new album or If I Could Fly which I have seen on recent set lists as I said but it wasn't to be. The Keeper medley of their longest songs was rapturously received although I must admit that part dragged a touch for me although I should say I was probably alone in that respect in the whole crowd hehe!

The end of the set saw the band play songs that they obviously must play otherwise they'd be lynched probably! The songs being the usual suspects that you can see below in the set list. I beat a hasty retreat after the first encore and missed Dr. Stein but I've heard it enough now I think don't you? :-)

My overall feeling is that Helloween really are the grandfathers of this genre now and most bands look up to them as reaching the pinnacle of European power metal and although the set list did not quite meet with my expectations personally speaking, I can't deny that they are probably stronger as a band than they've ever been. The songs I did hear were executed flawlessly and with great enthusiasm by all on stage even Weiky who is not the happiest of fellows on stage at the best of times, looked to be having lots of fun. The funniest guy was definitely Markus though and he's actually a very talented bass player and I think people sometimes forget that. More new songs next time guys!

  1. Are You Metal?
  2. Eagle Fly Free
  3. March of Time
  4. Guitar Solo
  5. Where the Sinners Go
  6. Steel Tormentor
  7. Drum Solo
  8. I'm Alive
  9. Handful Of Pain
  10. Keeper/The King for A 1000 Years /Halloween Medley
  11. I Want Out
  1. Ride the Sky
  2. Future World
2nd Encore
  1. Dr. Stein