• Def Leppard - The Story So Far - The Best of (2018)

    What do Johnny Cash, Gravity Kills, Sammy Hagar and Marilyn Manson have in common with Def Leppard? That's right, they have all covered Depeche's Mode ''Personal Jesus''. Def Leppard's version is actually one of the most decent cover versions because it sounds tight instrumentally but is delivered in a relaxed way vocally. This is also the only new song on the double-disc version of this compilation. There is another new song called ''We All Need Christmas'' which isn't as cheesy as the title suggests and actually an enjoyable song for this time of the year but that new track is only included on the triple vinyl version of this release which is a shame. Let's see how long the obnoxious vinyl trend keeps going.

    Most songs from this compilation come from Def Leppard's popular adult-oriented rock records from the eighties and nineties, namely Pyromania, Hysteria and Adrenalize. More recent records are also covered and even some songs that were exclusive to compilations like Vault have made it onto this release which is a nice addition for this output but somewhat disappointing for the fans that bought that other compilation decades ago. To my surprise, the songs from the band's latest self-titled record released three years ago don't only blend in well but are among the highlights of this record and have a stronger hard rock vibe than the at times exchangeable attempts at chart success in the past.

    The band's early years are almost completely ignored by this release which is a missed occasion to portray the band's numerous facets and evolution. Only the power ballad and first successful single ''Bringin' On the Heartbreak'' from the High 'n' Dry release is included here. The debut record On Through the Night and the band's first extended play from the late seventies are completely ignored.

    Fans of the band's heavier side can therefore completely ignore this release. If you like melodic rock music between danceable ballads and rhythmic mid-tempo tracks with a nostalgic vibe, you can buy this compilation that offers thirty-five tracks and more than two and a half hours of entertainment. This record is best played in between other compilations by similar artists like Bryan Adams and Bon Jovi. If you have a nostalgic family members who always wrongfully complains that music was so much better back in the eighties and who hasn't bought an album in years, you might have found the perfect Christmas gift here. For newcomers and occasional listeners, this record is passable but not essential. You might as well wait to get this release for a reduced price one year from here.

    Final rating: 70%

    Partager via Gmail Delicious Technorati Yahoo! Google Bookmarks Blogmarks Pin It

    votre commentaire
  • 小雨 / Mysterain - 破墨山谷 / After the End of the Valley (2016)

    I have been listening to Chinese metal for more than seven years now and one thing that amazes me in comparison to Western bands is that Chinese bands very rarely repeat themselves, often offer surprises and generally seem to be willing to try out something new. This also applies in the case of Mysterain that had released an intense symphonic metal record three years earlier and now comes around with an album that has much stronger folk influences and is overall calmer than the predecessor. Downtown Fall Border recalled bands like Xandria three years earlier while After the End of the Valley is closer to bands like Midnattsol.

    Keyboards are the dominant instruments that provide atmospheric, elegant and epic symphonic melodies on one side but also offer appeasing, inspiring and soothing folk sounds that distinguish so many Chinese metal bands and seem to underline the fact that many people living in gigantic cities are longing for a return to rural China. As a matter of fact, it's surprising that a quintet that lives in a big, busy and modern city like Guangzhou seems most inspired by elegiac classical music, traditional folk instruments and sounds of nature.

    Another convincing element are the versatile vocals. The singer seems to be classically trained and performs skillfully but her voice also expresses bright emotions. Her voice suited the elegant symphonic metal style perfectly three years ago but she also manages to make the new folk tales more atmospheric, enchanting and epic. She is definitely one of the most talented singers in symphonic and folk metal genres and reminds me a little bit of Seraphim's Quinn Weng. Since that band has been on hold for nearly a decade, it's great to get the chance to listen to Mysterain that has no serious competitors in its versatile, elegant and appeasing symphonic folk metal style right now.

    The guitar work is mostly inspired by neoclassical elements but isn't as domineering as it was three years earlier. A few more emotional solos, gripping riffs and progressive influences would have made this album even greater.

    The same could be said about the rhythm section that wasn't spectacular three years ago but still delivered the goods. Bass guitar, drums and percussive elements are little too laid back at times on this release.

    Every song on this album convinces with elegant atmosphere but if I had to point out a highlight, I would probably suggest listening to ''Wall'' that is a little bit heavier than most other songs and even features a few harsh male vocals but these elements contrast the dreamy female vocals and epic keyboard sounds perfectly in seven and a half most entertaining minutes.

    At the end of the day, you will thoroughly enjoy this appeasing, atmospheric and creative record if you like symphonic folk metal inspired by Chinese culture. It's only a matter of personal preference whether you prefer this enchanting release or the more bombastic predecessor. Even though I liked Downtown Fall Border a little bit better, I believe it's positive that the band didn't repeat itself and brook new ground with After the End of the Valley. The phenomenal keyboard work and the fascinating vocals alone are so excellent that you should give this unknown quintet a chance.

    Final rating: 80%

    Partager via Gmail Delicious Technorati Yahoo! Google Bookmarks Blogmarks Pin It

    votre commentaire
  • 迷魂殿 - 李有才的一天 (2018)

    Chinese one-man project Enchantenka releases its third record in its third year of existence. While the first album was a consistent blackened folk metal record, the sophomore effort was more like a black metal release with occasional folk passages. This third release and first extended play walks off the beaten path and can be described as ambient or neofolk record which is a genre that has become more and more popular in China over the past few years. This underlines the fact that many people who live in big cities are longing for a return to rural landscapes these days. 

    Black metal elements or vocals are nowhere to be found as the album rather presents four instrumental songs based upon atmospheric keyboard passages, authentic field recordings, atmospheric sound samples and minimalist rhythmic and percussive elements.The album feels like a continuous relaxed walk through a town as one hears conversations from what seem to be markets and restaurants. The record sounds much warmer than the cold cover artwork might suggest. It has a quite peaceful, natural and harmonious vibe and is a great short release to escape your everyday life and relax for fifteen inspiring minutes.

    Such a risky change of style might not appeal to fans of the first two releases but only proves the open-minded approach of this atmospheric one-man project and keeps me interested in discovering its next unpredictable steps. If you like ambient music, field recordings or neofolk, you should give this release a chance. Metal purists should stay away from this.

    Final rating: 70%

    Partager via Gmail Delicious Technorati Yahoo! Google Bookmarks Blogmarks Pin It

    votre commentaire
  • Гран-КуражЪ - Достучаться до небес (2017)

    Russian melodic heavy metal quintet Grand Courage is mainly known for the fact that its former vocalist Mikhail Zhitnyakov is now the lead singer of Russian heavy metal veterans Aria. He was replaced by similarly sounding singer Evgeny Kolchin who left the band shortly after the release of this extended play. The title and cover artwork refer to the German comedy-drama Knockin' on Heaven's Door which itself refers to the famous Bob Dylan song that was famously covered by Eric Clapton and Guns N' Roses. The movie tells the story of two terminally patients who steal a car to make their last dream come true and see the ocean for the first time in their lives.

    Grand Courage has always been a heavy metal band on the mellower side and this also applies to this record. The opening title song ''Достучаться до небес'' is probably the heaviest song but still comes around with massive electronic keyboard sounds, melodic vocals and relaxed percussive elements but the chorus has enough power to convince as best track on this release. ''Голос твой'' features a similar approach with mellow and powerful vocals, verses varying between fast and rhythmic sections and mellower passages and a strong chorus that should also please fans of European power metal.

    Despite its short length, the release features three ballads. ''Звёздные дожди'' convinces with strong melodic guitar work and simple but efficient piano melodies, ''Русская рулетка'' is an emotional pop rock ballad that could have been released thirty years ago while the closing ''Океан любви'' is much more atmospheric and has a very soothing, slow and dreamy approach.

    Personally, I would have liked to hear some heavier tracks like the first two songs and especially the creative opening title track and think three ballads on such a short extended play are too much. However, Grand Courage will appeal to fans of melodic rock bands like Bonfire. The band's mellow sound actually distinguishes it from many other contemporary Russian heavy metal bands. It's relaxing, refreshing and inspiring to listen to the band once in a while but its style gets slightly redundant and repetitive after a while. Let's hope that the band finds some more creativity in heaviness in the future with a new vocalist to take a step forward.

    Final rating: 70%

    Partager via Gmail Delicious Technorati Yahoo! Google Bookmarks Blogmarks Pin It

    votre commentaire
  • Skyforest - Harmony (2018)

    Skyforest's Harmony is an imaginative neofolk record that sounds much calmer, dreamier and mellower than the previous outputs. The stunning cover artwork represents the music so well that it's hard to believe that the man behind this project actually comes from a Moscovian suburb. 

    Soothing keyboard melodies based upon symphonic folk influences meet introspective and shy guitar play for a highly atmospheric musical structure with only minimal use of numerous simplistic rhythm instruments and very modest shifts in pace and power. Harsh vocals are very scarcely used just like occasional narrative elements and mysterious whispers but work quite efficiently in the right moments. The hypnotizing music is occasionally supported by appeasing clean male vocals that almost sound like an additional instrument. One track features peaceful female vocals that harmonize perfectly with the smooth music.

    This release doesn't have anything to with black or post metal except for the fifteen seconds of harsh vocals that can be found in the opening track. Skyforest's Harmony is however a wonderful ambient neofolk pearl that reminds of several artists signed by German label Prophecy Productions such as Dornenreich, Les Discrets and Syven. If you are looking for appeasing, imaginative and melodic music to take a break from your stressful everyday life, this album will open up to you and unfold like a blooming flower.

    Final rating: 90%

    Partager via Gmail Delicious Technorati Yahoo! Google Bookmarks Blogmarks Pin It

    votre commentaire


    Suivre le flux RSS des articles de cette rubrique
    Suivre le flux RSS des commentaires de cette rubrique