Reviews June/06

Astral Doors / Astralism / LM 155 CD


Astral Doors - The Swedes 3rd full length album! Tracklisting:EVP; Black Rain; London Caves; From Satan with Love; Fire in our House; Israel; Raiders of the Ark; Tears from a Titan; Oliver Twist; Vendetta; The Green Mile; In Rock we trust; Apocalypse revealed.

Astral Doors has been around since 2002 and with quite an impact. The Swedish 6-piece has a sound that reminds me in sound and attitude of the "real" reason for playinf heavy metal in the first place. The members of the band was brought together due to a passion for solid, unpretentious heavy metal and here in 2006 they are ready to release their third album "Astralism".
From the very first bombastic chords, it is evident that "Astralism" is ready to rock. Driving, distorted guitars, pummeling drums, a Hammond organ, and a vocalist who sounds like an incarnation of Ronnie James Dio (no offense, but Nils Patrik Johansson really is a deadringer for DIO), all kick the album into high gear. And from there it doesn't go wrong.
"Astralism" is made as an album for heavy metal enthusiasts. Dark, brooding lyrics dealing with the physical as well as the metaphysical fill the album. But rather than just revel in the darkness, the songs do have a lighter side, a sense of striving for a better world buried in the lyrics. This is very refreshing to hear, as it serves as an excellent balance.
Every song is a true metal tune - you can almos feel the denim, leather and the studs! There may be an occasional acoustic guitar here and there, but 99% is just begging for good ole stagediving and headbanging. The music is hard and heavy, but with an emphasis on melody. The presence of the Hammond is especially effective in uniting the melodic elements throughout each song - an hommage to Deep purple and Rainbow, I suppose.
Ther are several memorable tracks here - but I have to mention the outro: "Apocalypse Revealed" with its almos 8 minutes the closest the album gets to a real epic track, and this one is an ideal closing track. After taht you are satisfied! But also "Israel" effectively adds a multitude of voices, adding an emotional quality to the slower, dirge-like track. "Tears From a Titan" slowly warms you up with a Hammond intro before the songs really kicks in.
"Astralism" is a very strong release, and will surely appeal greatly to those who are fans of solid, powerful, classic heavy metal. The music is uncompromising, but nicely balances grit and anger with melody. The Hammond is very prominent in most of the tracks, I personally like that! It reminds me of the true roots of this genre. Fans of heavy metal owe it to themselves to check out Astral Doors and their brand of classic metal - all excellent delivered and played. .

Killer Sixgun / Killer Sixgun / self financed CD


KIller Sixgun - The project of Greece guitarist Lakis Ragazas! Tracklisting:Run (if you can); Highway of Love; Day One; Reach out; Stay with me; C Storm; The Jeckyl & Hyde jam; Stormcoming.

Killer Sixgun is the project of Greece born guitarist Lakis Ragazas, who has been playing his 6-string since he was 14 - i think litterally!! According to his own website he is influenced by the overwhelming expression and technique of guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix, Michael Schenker and Gary Moore it didn’t take long to give in to the magic of playing on stage. Though he had done some guitar lessons with Panos Tsakiroglou, one of the best guitar teachers in Greece, he must be considered as self taught, acquiring a Certificate in classical harmony.
He started playing with local cover bands, but soon he began working on original material. One of the most important acts in Greece he played with was power-heavy band Deceptor (1991), where his brother, Kosta played bass. They worked on some great songs and soon took the project in concert.
With a great professional background, working as a session musician, playing with numerous bands touring just about everywhere, he’s attained maximum live experience in excess of 1000 performances, including TV shows on local and satellite channels.
In 1996 he was nominated among 12 guitarists all over the world for a full year scholarship to attend the Atlanta Institute of Music which was in cooperation with Jason Becker. And that influence is obvious at some places - great melodic fret work. In 1997 he won a $5000 scholarship from Boston’s Berklee College of Music. From 1997 until 2005 he was a member of the band Long Live, one of the most significant hard rock bands in Greece opening for acts like Nazareth and Hughes/Turner Project.
For the last ten years he’s been working as a guitar teacher in various music schools of Thessaloniki and he has successfully made guitar instruction clinics around Greece. In recent guitar seminars he presented his new teaching approach called ‘’Electric Guitar; Advanced Techniques and Theory’’.
On the Killer Sixgun Project Lakis plays all instruments by himself - vocals on the two songs "Highway of Love" and "Reach out" is provided by John Jeff Touch, who is doing a really great job here! I'm impressed by the high quality of this Cd - it reminds me of Satrianis "Flying in a blue Dream" from time to time - but without the banjo;-)
All in all htis a great CD with a lot of potential - contact the man, and you will not be sorry knowing this great guitarist from day 1!

Edenbridge / The Grand Design / MAS PC 0502


Edenbridge - The Austrian epic melodic band with their 5th album! Tracklisting:Terra Nova; Flame of Passion; Evermore; The most beautiful Place; See you fading afar; on Top of the World; Taken away; The Grand Design; Empire of the Sun (Limited edition bonus track).

The Austrian band Edenbridge is a very special mixture of the roughness by a power metal band and the sweetness of the female vocalist Sabine Edelsbacher. The band features the talents of band founder Lanvall on guitars, Frank Binding on the bass and Roland Navratil on drums.
"The Grand Design" is the bands fifth studio album - but Edenbridge has since their debut in 2000 been in a leaque of their own they soon went on tour with major acts like Axxis, Angra and Pink Cream 69 - Dennis Ward from the before mentioned PC69 became the bands producer on the second album "arcana" from 2001 - and together with Robbie Valentine he doing the backing vocals on this one - great! But the biggest impact had the "Aphelion" album from 2003 it was followed by a European headlining tour alongside the band Sirenia - this move made the band a new base of fans from the more dark metal/gothic scene. Edenbridge filmed the tour and released a CD+DVD package called "A Livetime in Eden".
But also "Shine" from 2004 got the band a chance of a more broad breakthrough - on this new release the gothic elements are all well packed in a very melodic though powerful and tight concept. The genres represented on the album is very varied from the beautiful melodic opener to the powerful "Evermore" over the beautiful ballad "The most beautiful Place" - where Mrs. Edelsbacher is accomanied by a piano only... Sometimes she reminds me of Maggie Reilly in her melodic approach - but the powerful guitars and drumming is definitely not Mike Oldfield;)
If you want a unique musical experience and like the variety of the span from gothic to melodic rock to progressive to Gaelic/folk to ... sheer power - Edenbridge is worth a spin - very good! Epic metal with an excellent production and a fantastic musical approach - watch out for the single "For your eyes only" - which is not included on this album!

© Steen Elstrup Pejtersen 1999-2006