Well spring has arrived here in the UK and the live scene is starting to pick up again. Not to be left out, I pop out, and with my crew in tow, caught an upcoming act of some distinction, but first the CDs in my review case.
Altaria: Divine Invitation
This is a mid-priced release, which is very much as it stands so far for the band who at the end of 2006 lost their vocalist. They are now joined by ex-Terrorwheel man Marco Lupenero. This was following a great year where they toured with some of the best of the European metal scene including Doro and Eurovision winners Lordi. As it's a bit of a compilation, it could be said to be attractive to only those already in the know. For instance, new listeners might not give a toss about the seven demo tracks contained herein which don't really add much.
However, you might be interested to hear a member of Nightwish (on the first five tracks including "Fire and Ice") and Sonata Artica appear on various tracks of the CD. Overall it's proggy-tinged Euro power metal done well, if not anything terribly spectacular. If you want an introduction to the band for a low price, then have a listen. It will be interesting to see what this line-up will produce with their forthcoming album.
Bloodhound: Book of the Dead
This new band of melodic power metallers with Michael Bormann of Jaded Heart and Bonfire on vocals can't be all bad, it has to be said. Bormann's scratchy vocal style adds something different to this type of music. Normally this type of band either has a screamer or a grunter, but Michael has quite a deal of melody in his voice, no matter what he is singing. There are definite touches of Gamma Ray here and even a touch Iced Earth on tracks like "Into Eternity". There is even one of those wonderful galloping metal tracks in the form of "Turn to Stone". Oh yes, and there is a bit of pure Maiden on "Seven Angels".
Then again Bormann gets to return to his AOR roots with the epic power-ballad "Black Heart" which has shades of Jorn-led Masterplan. It's good to see the band is happy to let him loose occasionally. Bloodhound certainly have the chops, the musicianship and tracks to make it to the premier league of power metal. Now let's just hope they can keep a stable line-up. This lot is definitely ones to watch. Expect great things out of them.
Realm: Endless War & Suicidity
Progressive thrashers The Realm managed two releases before fizzling after their less impressive sophomore release. Endless War is considered a prog-metal classic by some and it's really not hard to see why. There is oodles of talent hiding in the thrashy tracks on both albums so it's no surprise a bonus track, included on the latter disc, is a King Crimson cover. Oh yes, and with titles like "Theseus And The Minotaur" you know it's obvious they aren't yer bog-standard head-down full-tilt nutters.
As with this set of releases from Roadrunner there are decent liner notes from Takis Kinis, guitarist for the band. I would seek out Endless War for your thrash metal collection if you'd like to hear something ahead of its time and quite impressive. Great band but the former is the more essential to the latter.
Thursday night saw yet another one of Tourdates showcases in London, this time in the heart of Camden at Bar Monsta. It was a several band line-up but we were all there to see the much talked about Circus.
Void produced a solid set with their drummer, think Tommy Lee but Welsh, mesmerizing the audience with his absolutely amazing drumming style. Next week I will bring you a review of their latest CD. The guys are talented live but are just missing that extra something to push 'em to the next level. Not quite sure what it is but I am sure they will find it.
The headliners were the precocious boys (yes, all under 18) of Circus. Now there has been a lot of buzz about these lads coming from various directions. My bandmate John got a copy of their demo while at another event a few weeks ago. The style of the band is a mix of Scissor Sisters if they did metal and were straight, Queen at their heaviest with a mix of Extreme at their funkiest, with a frontman who reminds you of either Prince while on guitar and Elton on piano. The band combines all this and adds a touch of power metal rifferama. He is very much a classic frontman who gives it his all, and a rather good singer as well.
They are as tight as a Scot's wallet and professional way beyond their years. Their bassist had only been with them for three weeks but it was hard to tell. The band have attracted some impressive people around them and have that special something that should take them all the way. Kim, Perry, and I all wished we had a record label that night as we would have signed them up on the spot. "Lady Margaret" has huge hit written all over it.
It you get a chance to see these Norwich lads, do everything you can to see them. Then you can tell all your friends you knew them before they were huge. They are the best unsigned band going in the UK right now… of that there is no doubt.
Well that is your lot for this week. I hope you have a good few days off and use the chance to head out and see some live music. As always, stay safe and rocking.