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Music Reviews: And One, Candlemass, Circus Maximus, Firewind, Mydra and Virgin Steele

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It was going to be heavy week until I decided to sneak in the first disc.

And One do their best to produce a German version of Depeche Mode. S.T.O.P is chock full of hard electronica of the type that that fills dance floors at rock and goth clubs. Tongue firmly in cheek methinks with this one. It might be an orgy of the cheesy and silliness, but damn this stuff is as catchy as stink.

Candlemass are no more as a recording band. However, they did leave a farewell note in the form of Psalms of the Dead. And what a note it is, doom mongers. Quite frankly this album will blow you away, no more so on the awesome song “Black is Time”. This is not cheery stuff but man is it ever potent and powerful. The album evokes all the best this band have ever offered and this is a fitting epitaph to their recording career. A must for any metal fan.

Circus Maximus do a very nice line in power progressive metal. They are Norwegian and their latest Nine is a tightly packed selection of what you have come to expect from the genre. There is a quite a touch of melodic metal on here as well and they nicely tread the line between the heavy and just plain hard rock. Another album that really rewards repeated listens, with its dynamic textured tracks.

Firewind are back with quite a good release by the name of Few Against Many. Have to admit it didn’t quite sink in the way it should have at first. But once it did I can see its copious merits. Ozzy’s guitarist Gus G sounds so much better at home with his proper band. His style suits this music so much better than with Ozzy. It is not all power metal as they invited Apocalyptica along for the impressive ballad “Edge of a Dream”. Might just be the best Firewind release to date.

Mydra peddled a good type of hard rock with their album Mydra in late-80s. While not exactly ground-breaking, this is decent enough to make for quite an enjoyable listen. They are German and as a result there is no questioning the quality of the musicianship. And hell how can you complain about a silly top-down track like “California”? Surprisingly this album from 88 stands the test of time quite well.

Virgin Steele are known for their epic concept albums and sweeping soundscapes have not always been so flamboyant and over the top. Life Among the Ruins is down and dirty hard rock that seemed to have seeped out of the late 80s (originally released in ’93). The lead singer, Paul Sabu, is doing his best  and that is a great thing. This is a Virgin Steele at its least challenging and most immediately fun. Later fans of the band might sneer at this but I enjoyed it start to finish.

A mixture of the old and the new which is always nice. Have a good one and stay safe.

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