The Heart Of The Matter (Digipak)

"Four years in the making, Norway's Triosphere returns with their third album, The Heart of the Matter. It was worth the wait. While reviewed previously on this site by another reviewer, this is my first experience with the band.

There's many things to like about Triosphere. Not the least of which, for a female-fronted band, is that vocalist and bassist Ida Haukland is a pure melodic metal singer, not swaying to the extremes of operatic or death vocals. Another significant element is simply their superb sense of songwriting. They have an arsenal of weapons to draw from whether an abundance of catchy riffs, a strong melody, vocal harmony, notable rock groove, or sizzling leads. I think, more than anything, the guitar structure, riffs and leads, are rather immense and attractive, propelling the album. You can't avoid the swell of riffs and leads within songs such as Steal Away The Light or As I Call, melodic and inspiring. But Triosphere wraps all these elements up in imaginative and entertaining arrangements, nearing progressive metal, that make for essential melodic metal listening.

While the entire album is a rich tapestry of melodic metal, a few songs deserve some attention thanks to some interesting passages within. One is Breathless, a steady sturdy number that has this interesting breakdown after the half way point. The riffs collapse for this light guitar work, almost fusion, over equally slight drums. Another terrific song follows in Departure. It has its share of riffs and some staccato drums, but once more, it's the latter guitar segue that grabs you. More emotive and lighter leads over subtle bass and drums. A third song of interest is the later Remedy with a smooth melody and enormous vocal harmony. But the kicker, once more, is the guitar breakdown in the latter half. Different than the previous songs, it's sharper and heavier, riff based yet fiery, and propelled by some intricate drumming. Finally, the entire swail of riffage is abandoned at the end of the album for the acoustic and gentle ballad Virgin Ground. A respite perhaps? All in all, Triosphere, with The Heart of the Matter, has turned out a rather terrific and enjoyable album of melodic heavy metal. Easily recommended." - Dangerdog

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  • "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
  • "Enslaved are back with their 13th studio album, In Times, marking their first album in three years. The gap between discs ties their longest since the span between Frost and Eld. A lot has changed since then as the band has been blending their fondness for ’70s progressive rock with lengthy black metal songs remaining at the core since the dawn of the new millennium.At first glance, six songs may not seem like much for a new album by the modern standard, but the Norwegians echo the sentiment of quality over quantity. Five of the six songs clock in between the eight and nine minute mark with the title track being the lone exception at nearly 11 minutes in length.The opening track “Thurisaz Dreaming” tricks the listener by fading in with a sound that seems to be setting the tone for a lengthy and progressive introduction. Instead, Enslaved go for the throat as Grutle Kjellson shreds his in a matter of seconds with shrieks that alleviate any doubts that the band has strayed far from their black metal foundation. As quickly as Grutle presents himself, he sits back resigned to his bass, content letting the soothing clean vocals take over for a bit as the band embark on another journey revering the sacred runes.With each passing album, keyboardist Herbrand Larsen has become a more integral part of the band utilizing his soothing clean vocals to contrast and compliment Grutle’s uncompromising rasp. This is true again on In Times as the duo continue to vie for center vocal spot, creating a playful atmosphere where the listener can feel fully absorbed by both the progressive and black metal facets of Enslaved.The best demonstration of this can be heard on the masterful “One Thousand Years of Rain.” A true conquest among the entirety of the band’s catalog, this song sees each member of the band contribute a performance that transcends their individual duties. This is also where Cato Bekkevold’s drumming starts to truly stand out as the kick drum anchors In Times, often stitching together the disharmony.“Nauthir Bleeding” continues the experiment of clean vocals intersecting with the blackened side of the band and vice versa with astonishing results. This ambidextrous-like quality rounds out their most progressive aspect, allowing them to excel and innovate in both genres independently.With successive listens it becomes quite evident that In Times is written to be listened to as a whole. Each song flows into the next so seamlessly that it can be easy to forget where one song ends and another begins. Certain songs will always stand out more than others, but that isn’t what this album is about. The ever-consistent Enslaved have churned out another album to cement their legendary status in a style the continue to call their own." - Loud Wire
    $12.00
  • "Abnormal Thoughts Patterns is a new technical metal trio that comes onto the scene equipped with twenty-plus years of experience. Featuring Mike Guy on drums and twins Jasun and Troy Tipton on guitar and bass respectively, ATP is perhaps better known as the musical backbone of underrated prog metal purveyors Zero Hour. Apt comparisons between the Californian three-piece and acts such as Death and Animals as Leaders have been made, but when Abnormal Thought Patterns are at their most frenetic, they also share Blotted Science's aptitude for conjuring up aural insect swarms. Some of this stuff is guaranteed to make listeners' heads spin.Manipulation Through Anesthesia is ATP's debut full-length release, and it gets off to an excellent start, extending on the saga of the very first tracks they wrote, "Velocity and Acceleration" parts 1-4. These songs, numbered from 5 to 8, flow together as one connected work, clearly taking place in the same universe and containing shared motifs. It's 13 minutes of some of the finest instrumental metal out there. The album then takes a left turn in the form of "Calculating Patterns", a pleasant, jazzy cooldown. It is the first of several mellow tunes that demonstrate Abnormal Thought Patterns' diversity."Harmonic Oscillators", the album's most challenging cut in more ways than one, is also worth a mention. Here, the guys in Abnormal Thought Patterns lose themselves in mathemathics for the first and only time on the album. It's the type of song to make aspiring musicians seethe with envy and set their instrument of choice on fire, being a technical tour de force full of mindboggling time signatures and incredibly dexterous playing. It's also, again with the maths, the only 7+-minute song on an album where the average one clocks in at 4 minutes, and without changing the formular around much. For many, this all-out assault will no doubt be considered the highlight of the album. For others, it'll be a bit too much of a good thing.Speaking of the formular, ATP seems to have carved out a more than solid niche for itself already. Though the notes-per-minute count is oftentimes off the charts on Manipulation Under Anesthesia, the majority of its content manages to stay quite musical. The main event of their faster songs tend to be a heavy, hypnotic, repeated guitar riff, assisted by the always-very-audible bass humming surprisingly melodic tunes while the drums keep everything in place, usually prioritizing cymbal and snare patterns over flashy tom fills. On that note, the album is in no way lacking in heaviness or rhythmic depth despite foregoing the use of double kick drums. Quite an unusual feat in the shred-based instrumental metal environment.For anyone familiar with Zero Hour, it should come as no surprise that ATP succeeds in shredding with style. But there's a lot more to them than that. Abnormal Thought Patterns keep an excellent balance between all three instruments (which are occasionally joined by some light synth accompaniment), making sure there's always something worthwhile happening on several fronts, and they're able to impress even when venturing out of their comfort zone. Manipulation Through Anesthesia does lose a bit of steam towards the end, but is nonetheless an impressive album and a very promising debut." - Metal Revolution
    $14.00
  • Special edition comes with two bonus tracks."German Power Metal titans' "Straight Out Of Hell" was indeed one of my most anticipated albums of 2013, and expectedly from a band like HELLOWEEN, it did not disappoint me. This album, contrarily to what its title suggests, is actually more optimistic than the previous ones. The opening track "Nabatea", a relatively long one, is an amazing Speed Metal masterpiece with a quite different lyrical theme than the rest of the tracks. "World of War" is another fast-paced song with a more serious undertone that reminded me of the classic “Eagles Fly Free" for some reason. It is one of the best tracks, in my opinion."Live Now" a relatively weak track and my least favorite, is followed by the bombastic "Far From The Stars", one of the most powerful and thrilling tracks. "Burning Sun" is actually my personal favorite. Michael Weikath got the idea of this one in the shower, and it turned out to be such a masterpiece, embellished by breathtakingly symphonic interludes, and of course, amazing vocal performance by Mr. Andi Deris. When I first heard "Waiting For The Thunder", nothing except "If I Could Fly" crossed my mind. "Hold Me In Your Arms" is a soft romantic ballad, totally expected at this point, right in the middle of the album."Wanna Be God" comes right after and it's in a way, HELLOWEEN's "We Will Rock You". I definitely loved it, and you'll find yourself singing along, right away, at the first time you listen to it. The title track is a very catchy one, but there’s nothing special about it. Still, you'll have the "Straight Out of Hell" line sung in chorus stuck in your head for a while. The biggest surprise was "Asshole" though. The track is surprisingly not as heavy as its title implies, not even aggressive. It is, however, another cheerful sing-along track. It's another powerful and highly ranked track for me. The symphonic elements in "Years" are just enchantingly well done. "Make Fire Catch The Flame" has a sort of cinematic intro and a perfect chorus with an awesome bombastic sound and a great velocity as in "Nabatea". "Churches Break Down" is no weaker than the previous tracks, with additional elements such as a brief use of organ and female vocals.The limited edition of album contains two additional bonus tracks: one is "Another Shot of Life" and it's not bad at all for a bonus track. The second is the Hammond version of "Burning Sun", a tribute to the late Jon Lord. The bottom line: "Straight Out of Hell" is a decent follow-up to the thirteen preceding great albums that made HELLOWEEN the pioneers of their genre. It put a smile on my face for days." - Metal Temple
    $14.00
  • 2CDs of the audio taken from Running Wild's final performance. Filmed at Wacken 2009. SHIVER ME TIMBERS!!
    $20.00
  • New studio album from the kings of doom and gloom features "semi-acoustic" interpretations of classic Anathema tunes plus a new track.
    $14.00
  • Only for true metal freaks (you know who you are). If Manowar is too wimpy for ya check 'em out.
    $13.00
  • Limited edition digipak of the new Evergrey album includes 2 booklets and one bonus track."Reformed and rejuvenated may best describe Evergrey 2.0 and their eighth studio album Glorious Collision After dissolving the band in the Spring of 2010, founder, guitarist, and vocalist Tom Englund immediately began recreating Evergrey, writing several songs with remaining keyboard player Rikard Zander. Englund then filled out the band with the incoming talent of Marcus Jidell (guitar), Hannes Van Dahl (drums) and Johan Niemann (bass).A cursory listen to Glorious Collision finds Evergrey revitalized and seeming to draw from a well of new sources. In the past, both lyrically and musically, Englund/Evergrey was almost uniformly heavy, bleak, and often discomforting. I don't think Englund has lost any of his somber, near depressive, edge, but musically Glorious Collision certainly has a more lively feel to it. Leave It Behind, You, and It Comes From Within find Evergrey drawing on a more classic melodic rock feel wrapped in pure heavy metal. Wrong brings back some of Evergrey/Englund's melancholy while sounding like a Swedish version of current, and commercial, modern hard rock. Others, like Frozen, thunder along with a well-paced and invigorating melodic power metal style. Generally, with the depth and variety of the arrangements, Evergrey hasn't lost it's progressive edge either. But I'm not ready to call this work pure progressive metal. Ultimately, when listening to Wrong, I'm Drowning Alone, or the wonderful To Fit the Mold, Glorious Collision has a sweeping near epic quality to it thanks to the aforementioned melodic rock character wrapped in some serious heavy metal.If Glorious Collision is the future of a re-emergent and revitalized Evergrey, then we are in for some grand days ahead. Glorious Collision is impressive: heavy, melodic, thick with groove, and quite entertaining. Maybe more bands should reboot." - dangerdog.com
    $15.00
  • Here is what Century Media has to say about it:"Once again Nevermore invite you into their world of desolate metal. On their sixth release, Nevermore blend elements of speed, power, progressive and even death metal to make for a unique listen. With the addition of Steve Smyth to the ranks, this band is prepared to deliver an impending wave of doom over the land. Comes with enhanced features for your computer.
    $8.00
  • "Machine Men is a group of young Finnish men (all in their early 20’s) playing traditional melodic heavy metal. The band formed in 1998, and after some demo activity, finally recorded their debut album, Scars & Wounds in 2002 on Dynamic Arts Records in Finland. Earlier this year, Machine Men signed a worldwide deal with Century Media Records. That brings us to the present, which sees Machine Men released their sophomore album, Elegies.Although they are from Finland, Machine Men have not followed the easy path of becoming another Stratovarius / Sonata Arctica clone. Instead, the band has chosen a more traditional metal flavor for its sound. A very obvious Iron Maiden influence flows through the entire album, yet the production gives the album a feeling more similar to Bruce Dickinson’s recent solo albums. Anthony, Machine Men’s lead vocalist sounds like Dickinson’s twin brother more than just a few times on this album. He doesn’t possess quite the range or power as the “Air-Raid Siren” himself, but Anthony is certainly an excellent vocalist that is perfect for this band. Just to make the Iron Maiden / Bruce Dickinson comparison more complete, I’ll point out that Machine Men (the band’s name) is also a song title from Dickinson’s Chemical Wedding album. That’s not all, check out the last track of Elegies. Yes, that version of Freak is a cover of the opening track of Accident of Birth!Well, after what you’ve read up to this point, you can surely guess that this album is not exactly original or groundbreaking. True. However, Elegies is an excellent album, proving that the band is great at what they do, and able to create songs that have a definite lasting value. Aside from the outstanding Dickinson vocal performance, strong guitar work is a key ingredient to the band’s music. Of course, the band loves to employ lots of dual leads and classy guitar solos. The rhythms forge ahead with a force and heaviness very similar to the heavier side of Accident of Birth. However, songs such as October and From Sunrise to Sunset see the band delve into slow and mid tempo territory, and they pull it off quite well. The guitar work is still crunchy and authoritative in both instances, which gives the songs a sense of urgency despite their slower approach. All around, the guitar sound is heavy, not sounding at all like a retro tribute to Iron Maiden. As I said earlier, the guitar sound is has a tone similar to Bruce Dickinson’s solo about, but technically executed in a way very similar to classic Iron Maiden. Having said that, Machine Men make no secret to hide their chief influences, yet they are able to add their own touch, and thus create an inspired and personal sounding album. Before I know it, 45 minutes is up, and the album comes to a close. That can only be considered a good thing, I suppose. Each of the songs is a keeper, no filler on this album at all. The guys add a nice, but not overpowering melodic quality to their music. A very nice balance is struck between heaviness, vocal prowess, and catchy, melodic parts. This all adds up to produce an album with lasting power that is sure to please. Although the Iron Maiden / Bruce Dickinson influence is inescapable, Machine Men are able to add just enough of their own touch to the music. Furthermore, the guys are just great songwriters.I hadn’t heard of this band before, but Elegies is enough for me to become a fan of Machine Men. This is the type of album that can easily stay in your listening rotation for weeks at a time and not get old. Obviously, fans of Iron Maiden and Bruce Dickinson’s solo work should check this album out. These guys certainly provide another dimension to the Finnish metal scene. As long as the guys keep coming up with quality songs and consistent albums such as Elegies, there’s no reason not to expect them to have a successful career." - Metal Reviews
    $4.00
  • Excellent debut from this Finnish occult rock band.  Led by the sultry voiced Jess, JATAOs go the 70s retro route in similar fashion to The Devil's Blood and Ceremony.  In fact there is a remarkable similarity to the first album from The Devil's Blood although Jess' voice isn't quite as operatic as Farida Lemouchi.  Keyboards are present (even hear some 'tron samples in the mix) but they aren't as prominent as used by The Devil's Blood.  Long guitar driven tracks have a mystical, almost psychedelic, vibe.  If you were told this had this been released on Vertigo 40 years ago you wouldn't even blink.  Highly recommended.
    $36.00
  • "Countdown To Revenge is album number five from Italian metallers Hollow Haze, a band who’ve been rattling out grandiose metal since 2003 but never getting the recognition they deserved. Mind you, gigs with German metal kings Accept certainly did them more good than harm, and this 11-track affair comes straight out of the box writhing like a metallic serpent, bolstered by the venomous vocals of Fabio Lione (Rhapsody Of Fire / Vision Divine).This is the first Hollow Haze platter to showcase the soaring talents of renowned frontman Lione, who replaces Alex Sonato, the singer on the band’s last two records, including the critically acclaimed Poison In Black (2012). For me, Lione is a marked improvement on Sonato, having a far greater and certainly more epic range for this style of powerful, majestic metal.This sort of metal can be an acquired taste due to its orchestral drama and polished feel. Hollow Haze, among numerous others (often European), are certainly one of the more adequate bands carving out this type of vast, melodic metal landscape. Any fan of hard-hitting metal should certainly give this record a spin as well, though.Firstly – and revisiting that vocal style – we’re hearing a set of lungs that combines the glorious heights of Ronnie James Dio and Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) with a more modern, epic range. These strengths are complimented by the clean orchestrations of Antarktica and the Wintermoon Orchestra which, rightly so, give the platter an icy, clinical feel as Nick Savio’s guitars chisel out those huge valleys of sound.Storming in after a brief orchestral intro (‘Room 212’), album opener ‘Watching In Silence’ adopts all the theatrical nuances one would expect from such heroic metal. Hollow Haze have always been an ambitious band, keen to tell their tales by way of lush arrangements and stately dynamics. The band keeps the drama going with the pacey ‘Still Alive’, a track which combines classical preparations with a thrashy drum and ominous guitar chug.Clearly Fabio Lione has found his fiery home with Hollow Haze, his voice slipping in without trace of any cracks as ‘No Rest For The Angels’ sweeps into the room, evoking images of grand halls and luxurious tapestries unfolding. It’s the sort of track that would need to be heard to be believed live; the solos are punchy, the drums racy and again the vocals soaring into the zenith – Lione aided by Rick Altzi (At Vance / Masterplan / ex-Thunderstone) – to create another vast landscape of sound.With this type of album, it’s always difficult to pick out a favourite track because there is always a conceptual feel about proceedings due to the textures and overlying drama. For instance, ‘Life Has No Meaning’ – one of the more melodically subtle tracks on the opus – is far removed from the pounding eight-minute title track, but both songs are testament to a band and its ability to create moods and sprawling pastures.There are certainly sceptics within the metal fraternity who would deem this sort of heavy metal as being over the top in its quest for atmosphere. I can see where they’d be coming from, but in small doses bands such as Hollow Haze need to be experienced. After all, how can one fault the reflective symphonies of ‘Il Tempo del Fuoco’ or the Helloween-styled power metal soar of ‘A Fading Angel’s Life’? It’s metal at its purest, metal which doesn’t rely on anything remotely evil or weighty to deliver its message.Hollow Haze may be stuck within hair metal pomp and goth-laced histrionics and theatre, but for some this is what makes metal such a tour de force. Hats off to mix-master Sascha Paeth (Avantasia) for giving Countdown To Revenge such a clean, yet furious sound, and let’s hope Hollow Haze keep hold of Fabio Lione – this guy has added an extra dimension to that already flourishing landscape." - Metal Forces Magazine
    $15.00
  • Outstanding second album from this instrumental five piece from Finland. Scarlet Thread eschews keyboards for a lineup that features dual guitars, violin, bass and drums. There are two guest flautists. The music has a nice relaxed feel with some great soloing from violinist Erja Lahtinen. I'm not sure which of the guitarists play leads but whoever it is he offers up some nice grit that contrasts with the smoothness of the violin and flute. Some of the quietier moments have a folk feel but when these guys ignite it is more reminiscent of an early Dregs jam. I can listen to this kind of prog all day. Highly recommended.
    $15.00
  • "Nightmare managed to release just two studio albums in the eighties before falling victim to "musical differences" and the band tore themselves apart at the tail end of the decade. The story could have ended there and the name of Nightmare might have vanished without trace but in 1999 the band resurfaced with original drummer Jo Amore emerging from the shadows of obscurity to front a new version of the old dream.Recruiting his brother David to takeover his vacated stool Jo set about rebuilding Nightmare's reputation brick by brick. Fifteen years on from that rebirth Nightmare are the pride of the French metal scene and 'The Aftermath' is a riveting fifty minutes of tricolour thunder!Combining elements from their traditional eighties roots with a modern drive and something of a theatrical stance they create some seriously epic soundscapes. 'Bringer Of A No Man's Land' and 'Forbidden Tribe' are first to shatter the peace with a brace of hammer blows that feel like Avantasia collided headfirst with some 'Painkiller' Priest. Vocally Jo negotiates a line between the snarling insanity of Dee Snider and a Jorn-esque genius. Their ambitious brand of power metal is grand and striking, 'Invoking Demons' a standout piece. Atmospheric build ups, electrically charged at every turn the tunes they've compiled for 'The Aftermath' are sharp and precise, each underpinned by David's hard hitting style, his beats exploding with the ferocity of Napoleonic cannons. Regimented rhythms march steadily throughout and provide a solid backbone to each metal moment.With 'Alone In The Distance' bringing a close to ten well crafted and skillfully executed songs I find myself wishing more bands would take a page out of Nightmare's book of dreams because 'The Aftermath' is exactly how a contemporary metal album should sound. It's clear and powerful but not once is it over polished with unnecessary production. Nightmare manage to retain a sharp cutting edge to their classic yet current metal sound and keep some fierce serrations perfectly placed along the way so that each track rips into your psyche leaving you bloodthirsty for more.As a new addition to Nightmare's long history 'The Aftermath' will surely be welcomed by old fans with open arms and I can imagine a few new fans being drawn in by this album and its charms too. It's stuff like this that ignites my passion about metal. Impressive stuff indeed." - Uber Rock
    $15.00