Selling The Aggression

Third album from this Dutch progressive band is a conceptual work.  This one has strong political leanings so it might bother some of you out there.  It basically deals with changes in the geopolitcal climate since the late 90s.  While the band's first album was squarely in the metal camp, the subsequent albums find them moving more and more into the prog rock arena but maintaining an underlying heaviness.  Plenty of keyboards featured throughout the mix in a way that complements the guitar driven heaviness.  For me the stand out is vocalist Dennis Binnekade.  He has a stunning voice and I noticed that this time around someone coached him on his pronuciation. Rock solid contemporary prog. Highly recommended.

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  • "It was the friendly split heard round the world: two bands – same logo, same history….huh? Two Rhapsody’s? Would they sound the same? What does Rhapsody even sound like without Luca? All those questions are now about to be answered as Rhapsody of Fire (RoF) will finally present the response album to the overwhelmingly cinematic masterpiece spewed by Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody (LTR) in 2012. In the interim, there is a new record company (AFM), the first North American Tour and a Hess in….a Hess out. The split with the former HolyHell guitarist has left Roberto De Micheli as the lone guitarist, which turns out to be the best move of all. Meanwhile, Fabio Lione has been the busiest and a singer for hire – guest starring on a multitude of releases, including a long stint with Brazil giants Angra – and permanently joining Hollow Haze on top of Vision Divine. Fans wondered, when would that long awaited response album from Alex Staropoli be heard? The time is now and “Dark Wings of Eternity” is upon us. Right, right….you want the verdict! Well this album will definitely distinguish the band from LTR, but at the same time all of the key RoF qualities remain.Is it a win? Absolutely! Alex Staropoli takes RoF in a more organic and metallic direction, which on the first listen may come across sounding “under produced” when compared to the grandiose “overly produced” previous albums. Successive listens unveil the beauty of “Dark Wings of Steel,” an album that favors drama over theatric, proving there really is room for two Rhapsodys without picking sides.Luca’s vision of Rhapsody is the cinematic grandiose direction – a grand production of sight and sound, dazzling and spectacular. Alex Staropoli has side stepped and stripped down Rhapsody of Fire just a bit towards a purer “heavy metal” direction. Fans might take that statement as a step backward, but keep in mind, having two bands that are exactly the same would be silly and certainly wouldn’t help either. The guitar sound is more prominent, darker, and little less speedy as in the past (save for two of the album’s tracks). The choirs and choruses that fans have come to expect remain intact, as well as those building and sweeping melodies, written to perfectly balance the strengths of Fabio’s voice. Clearly, this is Staropoli’s band and he makes his presence known in a huge way (more on that later), and Roberto’s work is absolutely brilliant and cannot go unnoticed! His riffs are engaging and his solos are masterful, in many ways exceeding Luca’s own (which Turilli would freely admit). Many people do not realize that Roberto was actually in Thundercross in 1993, the band that would change its name to the famous Rhapsody in 1995 (though he did not play on the “Land of Immortals” demo of 1994).For any true fan of the band, approaching “Dark Wings” brings a certain level of both excitement and concern, especially considering Luca’s absence, the band’s back catalog and history, and LTR's post-split opening salvo that only raised the bar. It is nearly impossible for any fan of these bands to simply turn off the past and not instantly begin with comparisons. By giving “Dark Wings of Eternity” room to fly and breathe, I guarantee with each successive spin any concerns will quickly fade. In the end, you will find that RoF really isn’t all that far from where it already was! As soon as "Vis Divina" (intro) and opening track “Rising From Tragic Flames” begin you will notice the hallmarks – choirs, speedy riffs, Fabio – are all there, but the sound, especially the drums, is more natural. Staropoli’s keyboard play is much more modern and flamboyant juxtaposed to De Micheli’s neoclassical style. When that choir bridges you to Fabio’s first verse, you quickly realize this is classic RoF.For purposes of keeping this review from becoming more like a novel, lets group the tracks into “quicker” and “slower.” History has proven that Rhapsody of Fire is more often than not associated with quicker tunes, which are the ones that tend to be prominent among the fans. “Rising From Tragic Flames” is akin to classics like “Unholy Warcry” as the choir and speed is strikingly similar. “Silver Lake of Tears” presents a fierce and angry Fabio on the verses, which will be just what many fans have been hoping for (and no…we aren’t talking “Reign of Terror” angry). The title track is slightly more mid-paced with a De Micheli riff that is just as lethal as the speed. The song has one of the coolest guitar vs. keyboard solo battles, something that happens in multiple tracks on the album. “A Tale Of Magic” is an up-tempo half-speed with one of the most memorable choruses on the release. It’s a challenge to pick and outright favorite, but for now the pendulum swings in favor of “Tears of Pain,” with its simple, though highly fetching, riff that just draws more anger from Fabio’s voice.As for the “slower” side, which encompasses ballads and mid-paced tracks, the crop includes the building layers of “Fly to Crystal Skies” - galloping into the chorus along the bass pedals of Alex Holzwarth and the stunning ballad “Custode Di Pace”- a song like so many other greats from RoF and another pedestal for Fabio. “Angel of Light” showcases Fabio’s current strengths - the upper mid vibrato – matched in perfection only by Alessandro Conti. The song sports another one of the best choruses, as well as a slow Manowar type gallop as the song progresses. One of the real standouts in this category is “My Sacrifice,” which rises like a mountain, each level progressively heavier, ranging from near ballad from the onset, to mid-paced bass centric while pausing on the bridge with a uniquely Italian acoustic flair before cascading into the chorus.As mentioned earlier, a word about Alex Staropoli. For starters, I’ll admit that I had my concerns about his “flying solo” as a writer and those concerns were dispelled by “Dark Wings.” His play is much more flamboyant and modern than on previous releases, including a number of keyboard solos that battle back and forth with Roberto’s guitar. It’s an exciting element that really enhances the album. If I had one stylistic gripe, it would be that the keyboards are so prominent in the mix that they suffocate the guitar riffs at times (examples include the opening riff to the title track and “A Tale Of Magic.”). In those heavier tunes, the riffs could easily drive the melody alone.In summary, “Dark Wings of Steel” is a well written and fantastic effort. It demands attentive and successive listens before its true beauty is revealed. Changes are both bold and subtle, especially the more organic sound. The mix meter tilts with Staropoli, which throttles the riffs at times, but the quality of play is superb. The song writing is top notch, leaning more dramatic and less theatrical to distinguish the band from LTR, and Fabio shines not only with his voice, but also in his role as lyric writer. Enough cannot be said about Roberto, who has taken over and stepped up in the absence of Luca. For me, this album is a testament to his play. “Dark Wings of Steel” will not replace the classics, but it will find its place among them. The future is bright for one of heavy metal’s veteran acts." - Metal Underground
    $15.00
  • What would you call a power trio that veers seamlessly between shredding peaks, jazzy moods, and fat funky grooves? Mörglbl of course! Often compared to Primus meeting Steve Vai, Mörglbl hits like a heavyweight jab and makes you laugh while you bleed! Mörglbl is the punch you don't see coming! Packaged in a limited edition digipak, "Jazz For The Deaf" is the fourth album from the world-renowned French jazz metal trio. This band with the unusual name is led by virtuoso guitarist Christophe Godin. Virtuoso bassist Ivan Rougny is complemented by the double bass of new drummer Aurelien Ouzoulias. With the release of "Jazz For The Deaf", Mörglbl has created an album with cross genre appeal. Fans of shred and fusion Gods like Allan Holdsworth, Steve Vai or Freak Kitchen's Mattias Eklundh will find much to sink their teeth into. After entertaining crowds around the world, Mörglbl performed at Nearfest in 2008. It was the first time in the 10 year history of the festival that an opening act received two encores. This amazing performance sparked a flurry of interest from other festivals, culminating with Mörglbl receiving an invitation to appear at Progday 2009 in Chapel HIll, NC on 9/5/09.
    $13.00
  • "Paul Kantner's debut solo album actually was credited to "Paul Kantner/Jefferson Starship," the first use of the "Starship" billing, predating the formation of the group with that name by four years. Kantner used it, extrapolating on the name of his current band, Jefferson Airplane, to refer to Blows's science fiction concept: A bunch of left-wing hippies closely resembling his San Francisco Bay Area compatriots hijack a government-built starship and head off to re-start the human race on another planet. Kantner had presaged this post-apocalyptic colonization idea on "Wooden Ships" on the last Airplane album, Volunteers, and here he expanded it out to album length with the help of members of The Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Crosby, Stills and Nash, plus assorted others, a shifting supergroup informally known as PERRO, The Planet Earth Rock And Roll Orchestra. (Kantner later would borrow that name for a subsequent solo album.) Blows actually was a little loose as concept albums go, seeming as concerned with the arrival of Kantner and Grace Slick's baby as with the departure of the starship. Kantner employed often dense instrumentation and complex arrangements, but there were enough hooks and harmonies to keep things interesting. Blows eventually went gold, and it was even nominated for a science fiction award usually reserved for novels." - All Music Guide
    $5.00
  • Double CD set contains the two great - but recently out of print - albums from the Seattle thrash band that morphed into Nevermore. Warrel Dane at his finest!
    $16.00
  • "Most bands will reach a creative peak at a certain point in their career after which they simply continue in a less interesting fashion before eventually calling it a day. Not so with Motorpsycho. After more than 20 years they continue to develop and to to challenge themselves artistically. On this epic, double concept album, easily their most ambitious yet, Motorpsycho has assembled the cream of classical and jazz musicians from world class ensembles established in Trondheim, their hometown. ”The Death Defying Unicorn” was first commisioned by Molde International Jazzfestival for their 50th anniversary in 2010 where it was performed on the main outdoor stage. This, however, has been partly re-arranged, refined and recorded from scratch at Propeller Studios in Oslo with Kåre Chr. Vestrheim once again co-producing as he did with ”Heavy Metal Fruit”. Ståle Storløkken (Supersilent, Elephant9, Humcrush, Terje Rypdal) is considered one of Norway´s top keyboardists but here he also comes into his full as a writer and not at least arranger of the two ensembles. His contributions to this album can not be stressed enough. Among the players in Trondheim Jazz Orchestra are wellknown names such as Kjetil Møster (Ultralyd), André Roligheten (Albatrosh) and Mathias Eick, not to forget star violinist Ola Kvernberg." Heavyweight cardboard gatefold sleeve and 180 gram pressing. Looks real sharp!FOREIGN CUSTOMERS PLEASE NOTE THAT DUE TO THE HEAVIER WEIGHT OF VINYL YOU WILL BE SUBJECT TO ADDITIONAL SHIPPING CHARGES.
    $30.00
  • Hail true metal fan!! Have I got an album for you... Storm Warrior is a new German band who's debut release is produced by Kai Hansen who also makes a guest appearance. Fans of Helloween and Running Wild will have a blast.
    $13.00
  • "Chapter 1, the debut album from Level 10 is the first collaboration between vocal powerhouse Russell Allen (Symphony X, Adrenaline Mob) and bassist/producer/writer Mat Sinner (Primal Fear, Voodoo Circle) Frontiers President, Serafino Perugino initiated the duo to team up for the creation of a new Metal project which could melt the more contemporary sound of Adrenaline Mob with the more traditional European Power Metal melody and aggression.Sinner enlisted his Primal Fear/Voodoo Circle bandmates Randy Black (on drums) and Alex Beyrodt (on guitar) and Roland Grapow (ex Helloween, MasterPlan, Serious Black) and Alessandro Del Vecchio (Hardline, Voodoo Circle) to complete the lineup on lead guitar and keyboards respectively. On the songwriting side – besides the band members – the album features the songwriting talents of Magnus Karlsson, Carsten Schulz, Ralf Scheepers, Johann Fiegl, Sander Gommans and Amanda Somerville.For those fans of Russell Allen who were expecting Symphony X, you will be slightly disappointed, aside from Allen’s trademark pipes, there is not much here resemble Symphony X’s brand of neo-classical prog metal. By the same token, those fans of Allen who fear the agro-vocals and Godsmack-esque brand of “modern heavy rock”, can breathe easy, as the music on Chapter One leans closer to Euro power metal than mainstream hard rock.The album opener, Cry No More kicks off with a vengeance, with a guitar riff that would sound at home on one of Voodoo Circle albums. Allen’s vocals are powerful during the verses and soar on the multi-harmony chorus. Del Vecchio adds a 70’s moog synth sound on the keys and Black pounds the drums mercilessly. There is a crunchy, heavy groove on the mid-tempo Soul of the Warrior, featuring stellar vocal work on the chorus and a catchy as hell chorus. The tempo picks up with an 80’s sounding rocker with a driving beat, heavy chugging guitar rhythms, and Allen sounding aggressive while still maintaining his trademark melodic voice. The chorus features another killer multi-harmony vocal and Beyrodt and Grapow get to flex their muscles during the harmony guitar solo.The album takes a more AOR tone on the heavy rock anthem One Way Street, which has a 70’s Bad Company meets Motley Crue’s Dr. Feelgood feel to it. Randy Black’s percussion skills are on center stage, showing why Black is one of the most versatile drummers in power metal today. The albums first single titled Blasphemy has the symphonic bombast of European power metal and Allen’s voice is at it’s most evil sounding during the vocals and shows off his upper register during the chorus.Last Man On Earth is another hard rock song with a great hook and sing-a-long chorus, which does get a little repetitive after a few listens but I guess that’s what why they call it a hook! Scream And Shout is another old school power mental anthem straight out of the 80’s with it’s, for lack of a better word, *shout* a-long chorus. The guitar harmonies and shredding solo section blend in perfectly and Black’s double bass drumming drives the song once again.Allen flexes his vocal muscles on the mid-tempo rock of Into The Wilderness, using his upper register as only he can. The song itself isn’t as memorable as some of the other material on the album save for the chorus, which has some fine harmony vocal work. The requisite piano power ballad All Is Gone is a fitting showcase for Russell Allen’s amazing vocal prowess, even though the song itself sounds like a combination of Symphony X’s When All Hope Is Lost and something off of one of the Allen/Lande albums, which is not surprising since Magnus Karlsson is one of the credited songwriters here.The crushing riff of Demonized brings the heavy power metal with Russell at his most sinister sounding. For those fans wanting to hear something heavy, this one is for you. Chugging guitar rhythms, aggressive vocals, pounding drums, and shredding solos, this one has it all, a headbangers delight! The groove-heavy Soul Is Enternal has a mid-tempo fist pumping rhythm with Allen using a more soulful vocal approach during the verses and letting loose during the chorus.The album closer Forevermore is a power metal classic filled with melody, a HUGE multi-vocal harmony chorus and superb vocals from Allen and guest Ralf Scheepers vocals are quite noticeable in the mix. This song is probably the closest to the sound of Primal Fear and tied with Cry No More for my favorite song on the album. In an age where so-called supergroups are becoming more prevalent, Level 10’s debut album finds itself in the upper echelon, even if its destiny is to be a one off studio project, only time will tell." - Lady Obscure
    $14.00
  • Out of print limited edition CD/DVD with bonus tracks."Dubbed as single-handedly reviving 80’s Bay Area thrash in the UK with the killer ‘Enter The Grave’ in 07, Evile attempt to up the ante with their sophomore, and boy do they succeed. ‘Infected Nations’ is a monster second helping of awesome bulldozing riffs, shredding solos and roaring vocals, an exquisite metallic frenzy which should be lapped up by anyone who knows anything about a decent thrash record. With their dystopical lyrical themes synonymous with the genre, Evile seem to have their formula perfected and leave you with the feeling they’re half the thickness of a matchstick away from a future thrash classic." - Rock Sound Magazine
    $6.00
  • Despite a fracture between Andy Powell and Martin Turner, Wishbone Ash carries on - now in two different iterations. I guess Andy Powell retained the rights to the pure Wishbone Ash name and he's helming the ship on this release. Its just what any Ash fan would want - blues driven prog from a twin axe attack. That's the Wishbone Ash signature sound and if you are a fan you won't be disappointed.
    $15.00
  • "After the breakup of Deep Purple in 1976, guitarist Tommy Bolin wasted little time beginning work on his second solo album, Private Eyes. While it was more of a conventional rock album than its predecessor, Teaser (which served primarily as a showcase for his guitar skills and contained several jazz/rock instrumentals), it was not as potent. The performances aren't as inspired as those on Teaser or even those on Bolin's lone album with Deep Purple, Come Taste the Band, although there a few highlights could be found. The nine-minute rocker "Post Toastee" merges a long jam section with lyrics concerning the dangers of drug addiction, while "Shake the Devil" is similar stylistically. But Bolin wasn't simply a hard-rocker; he was extremely talented with other kinds of music: the quiet, acoustic-based compositions "Hello, Again" and "Gypsy Soul," and the heartbroken ballad "Sweet Burgundy." With his solo career starting to take shape (after the album's release, he opened for some of rock's biggest names: Peter Frampton, Jeff Beck, Rush, ZZ Top, etc.), Bolin's life was tragically cut short at the end of the year due to a drug overdose in Miami, FL." - All Music Guide
    $5.00
  • The much anticipated second album from Delain is here and it does not disappoint! Its interesting to see how the band has evolved. Originally conceived by Within Temptation keyboardist Martijn Westerholt as a studio project, Delain has evolved into a full blown active band. The success of the debut Lucidity tipped Westerholt's hand and Delain became a REAL band. With Charlotte Wessels on vocals, Ronald Landa on guitar and grunt vocals, Sun Caged bassist Rob Vander Loo, and Sander Zoer on drums, Delain took the Netherlands by storm. Delain toured extensively, opening for many bands including sister band Within Temptation, and appeared at many festivals. Ultimately they became a headlining band. With that behind them they headed into the studio to create their sophomore work.April Rain is cut from similar cloth from Lucidity but different enough to hear the evolution mentioned above. Instead of the multiple guests that were featured on Lucidity, April Rain does benefit from the return of Nightwish bassist Marco Hietala who sings male vocals on two tracks, as well as world renowned cellist Maria Ahn.Martijin Westholt is clearly at the helm - the big symphonic sound is still in place. Those elements that he brought to Within Temptation are clearly evident. There is a difference though...perhaps because of Jacob Hansen's mix the sound is more focused and even grittier, crunchier (thank you Mr. Landa). Songs tend to be on the shorter side but they slam harder. Having been familar with Rob Van Der Loo's intense basswork with Sun Caged its great to see him bring that progressive element to the rhythm section. Charlotte Wessels is young but has developed into the perfect voice and face for Delain.The comparisons to Within Temptation will continue but its obvious that Delain has come up with their own sound that stands on its on.This is THE symphonic gothic metal album of 2009. Nothing will touch it. This is the North American digipak edition of April Rain - with the exclusive bonus track "Come Closer". BUY OR DIE.
    $14.00
  • Steven Wilson's second solo album features a variety of interesting prog luminaries including Steve Hackett, Robert Fripp, Tony Levin, Trey Gunn, Theo Travis, and Jordan Rudess. Proggier than his first solo album and frankly recent Porcupine Tree. Lots of Mellotron bliss on this one. Exemplary production wraps up the total package. This Blu-Ray edition contains the album in hi-resolution 5.1 and stereo mixes. It has 2 bonus tracks, demos, videos, and a lot more stuff.
    $17.00