X

SKU: SC 192-2
Label:
Scarlet Records
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"This is ROYAL HUNT’s tenth album already? It’s hard to believe, but when you think about it, the band released their first album all the way back in 1992. They should have chosen a better name than “X” though, especially since so many bands have done that before them.

This is the second album to feature former Yngwie Malmsteen singer Mark Boals. He did a fine job on their previous album and is one of several great singers that ROYAL HUNT has employed over the years. Their final album with D.C. Cooper, “Paradox,” was one of my favorite albums of all time. Their final album with John West, “Paper Blood,” was excellent as well. However, I hope Boals stays on for at least another album because this one is disappointing.

In the months before the album was released, main composer André Andersen stated in several interviews that the band was attempting a more 70s rock sound on this album, which excited me a bit because I love rock music from that era, despite this being different from ROYAL HUNT’s traditional melodic metal sound. However, the results were something more like an 80s rock sound.

The guitars are buried, aside from showing up a few times in admittedly solid solos. I admire Andersen’s restraint with the keyboards, but all of the instruments are so simplified that there’s not much to stand out besides Boals’ vocals. Boals does a fine job with the material he’s given, particularly on “End of the Line” and “The Well,” but unfortunately he cannot make this a magnificent album on his own. There are still a good amount of pleasurable songs, but nothing approaching the heights that I know this band is capable of.

“X” shows ROYAL HUNT breaking relatively new ground, but it sounds much different than advertised. There are still some fine moments, but overall this is somewhat disappointing. This is probably still worth hearing, it just won’t end up on my best of 2010 list any time soon." - Metal Temple

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  • "It has been an eventful year or so in the world of Haken. In September 2013, the sextet released what can only be described as a masterpiece of progressive music in the form of their third album, the magnificent ‘The Mountain’. This album received almost universal critical acclaim upon its release and even led to interest from the likes of Mike Portnoy (Flying Colors, Transatlantic) and Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess. In the case of the former, it led to an invitation to play the inaugural ‘Progressive Nation At Sea’, but thanks to both ringing endorsements, the door to the American market has opened more widely of late. And if that wasn’t enough, Haken recently received no less than three nominations in the Progressive Music Awards, quite an achievement for a band so relatively young.However, with the smooth, also comes the rough and almost immediately following the release of this ‘breakthrough’ album, bassist Tom MacLean announced his departure from Haken. An apparently amicable split, it was nevertheless a hurdle that had to be overcome at a point when the largest wave of the band’s career was about to be crested. An international audition invitation was extended and, following an extensive search, a young American by the name of Conner Green was assimilated into the Haken collective. Welcome sir!In many ways, ‘Restoration’ a three-track EP is as much a bedding-in of their new colleague as it is an opportunity to maintain the momentum created by ‘The Mountain’ whilst a new full-length album is brought to life. That said, to consider ‘Restoration’ a stop-gap is disingenuous in the extreme. It may only contain three tracks, but when the three tracks last well over half an hour and sound this good, who cares?The three compositions that make up this EP are very loosely based on tracks from the bands 2007/08 demo days, thoroughly re-envisioned, re-worked and re-produced in order to reflect the changing personnel and the experience gained since the demos were originally written. The result is, frankly, stunning.Whilst it took me a good many spins and many hours of effort to get fully submerged into the world of ‘The Mountain’, the music on ‘Restoration’ is much more immediate to these ears. No less complex and challenging of course, but for some reason, the music has ‘clicked’ much more quickly here.The EP opens up with ‘Darkest Light’, (Official video below) an energetic track that ably demonstrates the up-tempo and powerful side of Haken well. It’s an agile composition too that alters pace and timing signatures seemingly at will and pulls in influences from everyone from Dream Theater to Meshuggah. The latter is primarily due to the impressive combination of Ray Hearne’s powerful drumming, the chunky guitar tones courtesy of Charlie Griffiths and Richard Henshall and Green’s intricate bass work. Importantly however, the song is never derivative and contains everything you now expect from a band at the height of their powers. It’s a piece of music that oozes class but also offers that touch of playful cheekiness that has become synonymous with the Haken sound.‘Earthlings’ is a completely different proposition entirely. For my money, its closest reference point would be ‘Deathless’ from ‘Visions’ in so far as it is a much more introspective track with real atmosphere and a quiet, brooding intensity that is utterly beguiling. The melodies are much more immediate, much more pronounced and the whole thing builds beautifully and stubbornly towards a fulfilling climax that pushes all the right buttons.The undisputed star of the show however, is ‘Crystallised’. At over 19 minutes, it offers a return of the Haken ‘epic’, joining the likes of ‘Visions’ and ‘Celestial Elixir’ in an already formidable armoury. If anything, ‘Crystallised’ may be even better than the aforementioned, thereby easily taking its place among the very best that Haken has ever created.First and foremost, the sheer ambition is staggering. The composition begins unassumingly enough but quickly reveals a more grandiose underbelly thanks to some lush orchestral arrangements. From then on, the gloves well and truly come off and Haken take us on a wondrous journey full of twists and turns, light and shade, lengthy and dextrous instrumental segments and gorgeous melodies that stay with you long after the music has ended.There are echoes of those Gentle Giant influences and nods towards ‘Cockroach King’ et al in some of the a capella segments as well as hints of ‘Pareidolia’ at other times, thanks to that by now familiar delivery of vocalist Ross Jennings. Never once do the extended instrumental passages, led by the flamboyant keys of Diego Tejeida feel contrived or out of place; they are full of those classic progressive overindulgences, further reinforcing the importance of the likes of Yes, early Genesis and many others, but crucially, they fit in with the core of the composition and seamlessly segue from one to another perfectly.And then, everything comes together in what I can only describe as a stunningly epic finale, the kind where the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end and you find yourself grinning from ear to ear, enveloped in a musical utopia. The melodies are so uplifting and gorgeous that, coupled with the grandiose return of the orchestral embellishments, mere words find it hard to adequately express just how good it makes you feel.The bones of these songs may have been written many years ago in the band’s infancy. However, they have been brought back to life in the most brilliant way possible; taking everything that’s been good about the band in recent years and applying them to their early past to create something truly special. I only wish that ‘Restoration’ was six, seven or eight songs long. Mind you, if it were, I think I might have fainted from bliss before reaching the conclusion." - Man Of Much Metal blog
    $14.00
  • "Frontiers Records won't be wasting any time in early 2013, as the label has a host of upcoming releases sure to thrill lovers of melodic hard rock & heavy metal. The latest from Norwegian vocalist Jorn Lande and his band is called Symphonic, a collection of songs from throughout his career with added classical orchestrations. In some instances the songs were completely remixed to add even more room for the orchestrations, but what's cool about this collection is that none of the songs lose their bite, but have become even more majestic with the added elements.Now, for all you Jorn fans out there, no doubt you already own or have heard these songs before, so I'm not sure how much of an 'autobuy' Symphonic will be, but as someone who also fall into that category, this is most certainly a fun and intriguing listen. The orchestral arrangements were conducted by Lasse Jensen, and in some songs they play a large role, and on others simply complementary. Some of the heavier rockers, like "I Came to Rock", "Like Stone in Water", "Burn Your Flame", and "Man of the Dark" sound even more powerful and grandiose with the added symphonics. Basically, these are all great songs, but for those that like the sounds of acts like Kamelot or Nightwish, there will be even more appeal to these tunes now. The Masterplan classic "Time to Be King" (which Lande has now adopted as his own seeing as he is no longer part of that outfit once again) is given roaring new life here, and the cover of Dio's "Rock and Roll Children" is simply marvelous with the extra orchestral arrangements. Throw in a few lush ballady type pieces in "Black Morning", "The World I See", and "Behind the Clown" (which are tailor made for this project), complete with soaring arrangements and Lande's emotional delivery, and you have a very enjoyable reworking of some standout Jorn material. And, wait till you hear the Black Sabbath gem "Mob Rules" with the added orchestra...wow.In summary, Symphonic might not be essential to most, but for loyal Jorn fans it should prove to be a lot of fun." - Sea Of Tranquility
    $15.00
  • "This is the second expanded edition of this 1968 paean to psychedelia to have appeared in just 28 months -- it was preceded by a "Deluxe Edition" two-disc hybrid SACD/CD edition from Polydor's European division in the late winter of 2006; apparently, those in charge of the label either didn't think the U.S. could support that high-priced package, or that the Super-Audio CD market is purely a European and Japanese phenomenon. Whatever the reason, this edition has shown up here with no multi-channel SACD layer, but with the remastered CD sound from that hybrid release. In Search of the Lost Chord was originally the most poorly-served of all the Moodies' original albums on CD, with a late-'80s edition from Polydor that literally had a crack in the sound on one song. Since then successive remasterings have made it one of the group's more satisfying CDs, as the nuances and layers are brought out -- the original album was done in a spirit of experimentation that was unusual for a pop album, with the members very consciously seeking out the richest, most outre sounds that they could generate in the studio, piling on one exotic instrument after another, along with many layers of voices; they would get better and bolder at this process over the next two albums (until they realized, in 1969, that they'd painted themselves into a corner as far as actually performing their new material on-stage); but beneath the psychedelic sensibilities on numbers like "Voices in the Sky," "The Best Way to Travel," "Legend of a Mind" etc., as one listens to the cleanest, crispest mix the record has yet had on CD (and one should state here that the multi-channel SACD mix on the European Deluxe Edition does outdo it), in the layers of finely nuanced playing, one does get a real sense of five musicians reveling in their own skills (and perhaps a recently ingested controlled substance or two) and the freedom to take them as far as the moment will carry them. That experimental nature has always resided just below the surface of what was otherwise a very pretty and smooth exercise in pop music mysticism ("Visions of Paradise" is still one of the most profoundly beautiful records this reviewer has ever heard from the psychedelic era) -- but here it's a little more up front, amid the enhanced clarity, and one would like to think it could help this album hold and renew its audience for another 40 years. The sound is so good that it's almost a shame that anything was put on here after "Om," the original album closer, but it was obligatory in these times that there be bonus tracks -- and as there was less room here than on the Disc Two of the Deluxe Edition, some decisions had to be made about removing some extras. The released Mike Pinder-sung version and the alternate Justin Hayward-sung take of "A Simple Game" are present, bookending the bonus tracks, whilst the rest includes the Mellotron track for "The Word," the lost Hayward song "What Am I Doing Here," two BBC performances ("Dr. Livingston, I Presume," "Thinking Is the Best Way to Travel"), and extended, unfaded versions of "Om" etc. They would be certain to delight serious fans, except that it's hard to imagine too many of the latter not having already bought them on the Deluxe Edition of this album over the preceding two years. Still, they may open the door to the group's sound a little further for the casually curious." - Allmusic
    $20.00
  • It becomes a convenient crutch to describe every band emerging from Poland as sounding like Riverside.  In the case of Retrospective its actually true.  Lost In Perception comes 4 years after their debut Stolen Thoughts.  Granted this sophomore effort shows much more individuality.  Vocalist Jakub Rozsak doesn't sound anything like Mariusz Duda but the one thing they share in common is a great ability to sing with emotion.  You believe it.  There is a spacey vibe that does in fact sound like the earlier Riverside albums.  The good news is that while Retrospective isn't unique sounding, what they do they do extremely well.  This one is sneaking in at the end of 2012 as one of the better prog efforts we've heard in awhile. Highly recommended.
    $16.00
  • The DVD features the new video for lead track ‘Drive Home’ along with the video for ‘The Raven That Refused To Sing’, both directed by Jess Cope. It also includes four tracks recorded live in Frankfurt during the recent tour.  In addition, the DVD features audio recordings of two previously unreleased tracks, ‘The Birthday Party’ and an orchestral version of ‘The Raven That Refused To Sing’.‘The Birthday Party’ was recorded in the LA at the same sessions as the tracks that made up the album while the version of ‘The Raven That Refused To Sing’ is a new mix that strips the track back to just the orchestra and vocals. These tracks are also featured on the CD, along with the audio from the live tracks and an edit of ‘Drive Home’. The set is packaged in a ‘mini-LP’ sleeve pac.
    $16.00
  • Second album from this eclectic US prog band featuring the helium laced vocals of David Surkamp.
    $10.00
  • This is without question the most "prog" album The End has released on their label. Unexpect are a unique 7 piece ensemble from Quebec. It's somewhat hard to dissect this avant metal band but the closet comparison I can come up with is Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. Musicianship is insane - be it guitar, violin, keys, drums, or 9-string bass. The vocals are a predominantly clean mix of dual male/female harmonizing. It can be a cacophonous mix of shifting meters and then gorgeous melodies - all with the space of 30 seconds. A real grower of an album that really grabs your attention. Highly recommended.
    $10.00
  • NTSC Region 0 DVD of Sonata Arctica live in concert. Filmed at the Shibuya AX, Tokyo, Japan on February 5th, 2005. The DVD also features footage from the European 2004 tour and US tour of 2005. Comes with a bonus CD of the audio as well.
    $14.00
  • Excellent full length from this up and coming German band. Effloresce fits within the realm of progressive metal but not neatly. Effloresce is fronted by female vocalist Nicki Weber. She has a solid midrange voice. Curiously she also adds harsh black metal vocals in spots as an embellishment...and she also plays flute. Keyboards have a bit of an old school feel (I might even be hearing some Mellotron samples mixed in). In general there is a dark spirit to the music that touches on Opeth territory. Dan Swano mixed and mastered the album so I can understand that angle. The album is filled with epic tracks and while not really solo crazy there are lengthy instrumental passages that demonstrate these guys can certainly play. I'm definitely enjoying the prog rock aspects that keep turning up in unexpected places. Be forewarned, some of you may be turned off by Nicki's use of raspy vocals in spots but its not done in a heavy handed way.
    $15.00
  • What a great singer Ian Parry is. This guy simply doesn't get the recognition he deserves. He's the prototypical metal singer - great control and range. This is his fourth Consortium Project album. The lineup eschews the previous three's all-star approach. The core band is Ian Parry on vocals, plus Joshua Dutrieux on guitars as well as Ivar De Graaf on drums. There is an assortment of singers and musicians filling in the musical nooks and crannys. Dutrieux and De Graaf are the primary songwriters as well. Children Of Tomorrow is a futuristic concept album. The music is pure melodic metal/AOR. It has a real epic feel. Stick Parry's voice in front a choir and you can't help but get a big sound.
    $3.00
  • "'Hand. Cannot. Erase.' is the highly anticipated fourth studio album from Steven Wilson - four-time Grammy nominee and founder member of cult legends, Porcupine Tree.Hand. Cannot. Erase. follows the critical and commercial success of The Raven That Refused To Sing, released in February 2013, and a run of sold-out shows around the world including London's Royal Albert Hall. Steven will embark on an extensive 'An Evening With Steven Wilson' European tour in March & April 2015.Recorded at London's illustrious Air Studios, Hand. Cannot. Erase, reunited Steven with Guthrie Govan (guitar), Adam Holzman (keyboards), Nick Beggs (bass / stick), and Marco Minneman (drums), the spectacular band responsible for The Raven That Refused To Sing album and world tour.The album follows the critical and commercial success of 2013's 'The Raven That Refused To Sing' (Germany #3, UK# 28) and an international run of sold-out shows, including London's prestigious Royal Albert Hall.Joined by Guthrie Govan (guitar), Adam Holzman (keyboards), Nick Beggs (bass / stick), and Marco Minneman (drums) - all part of the world-class band that graced The Raven and the 2013/2014 world tours - Wilson recorded 'Hand. Cannot. Erase.' at the renowned Air Studios in London."
    $14.00
  • "The average underground metal fan seeing Crucified Barbara in the daily news feed probably made the same mistake I did in expecting this Scandinavian all-female rock band to be too upbeat and soft to hold my attention. That turned out to not be the case at all, as “In The Red” has the best of both worlds: an energetic rockin' vibe with more than enough of a metal edge. If you dig metal/rock crossovers like Doro or want a more serious and less humorously misogynistic Steel Panther, “In The Red” is absolutely the album for you.The album opens with the catchy “I Sell My Kids For Rock 'N Roll,” an anthem of rebellion against slowing down the rock just because of age, and then shifts into the slower but harder hitting “To Kill A Man,” which would make a great soundtrack to an “I Spit On Your Grave”-style revenge flick. Third track, “Electric Sky” then splits the difference, being catchy but still heavy.The album as a whole is incredibly cohesive, keeping up a solid and recognizable vibe while slightly altering the formula to switch between punk rock partying and darker themes. There's not much in the way of experimentation or a single stand-out track, but that's actually more of a good thing than you might think, as there's really no filler tracks either.“In The Red” is likely to hold the attention of extreme metal fans better than a good deal of the other rock hybrid groups. Granted it's not brutal or extreme, but so long as you don't head into it expecting Arch Enemy you'll be good to go. These tracks are definitely heavier than say Lita Ford's material, but much more rock focused and less on the extreme end than other all-female groups such as Astarte. This leads to both high powered guitar riffing on tracks like “Lunatic” alongside an old school Blue Oyster Cult feel on “Finders Keepers.”Refusing to give up the fist pumping fun of rock while playing heavy metal, Crucified Barbara's “In The Red” is a must-hear for fans of either genre.Highs: A great meshing of energetic rock with hard hitting metal with essentially no filler material.Lows: If you only dig extreme metal this won't have as much appeal, and there's not much in the way of experimentation or a single stand out track.Bottom line: Rock and metal rarely sound this good together - even if the less heavy end of music doesn't usually appeal to you, give this one a listen anyway." - Metal Underground
    $13.00
  • Fourth album from Believe, the Polish progressive rock band formed by Collage guitarist Mirek Gil. The album veers toward the atmospheric side, not unlike Riverside's quieter moments. I'm particularly fond of the violin work of Satomi. Her playing adds a refreshing texture to the mix and is an interesting counterpoint to Gil's fluid guitar lines. 
    $16.00
  • "Esoteric Recordings are proud to announce the release of a deluxe 2CD edition of The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown. The Psychedelic Rock classic burst forth in 1968, topping the albums charts on both sides of the Atlantic and spawning the hit single Fire. The rock world discovered the delights of rocks supreme showman Arthur Brown and his influence would be felt the following decade when Alice Cooper acknowledged his debt to Arthur’s genius. Produced by WHO manager Kit Lambert and Who guitarist Pete Townshend, this classic album has been re-mastered and expanded to a two disc edition by the inclusion of rare single tracks, a BBC Radio One session from April 1968, alternate Mono mixes from the album sessions, and a version of Nightmare from the 1968 film, The Committee . Lavishly packaged in a slipcase with an extensively illustrated booklet with new essay, this is the ultimate edition of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown."
    $20.00