Zenith ($3 Special)

""It has happened to me twice here in 2009. You stumble upon a band that you have never heard of which totally blows you away. The first time was with the band Anima Mundi out of Cuba. Now, it has happened a second time.

From Germany comes the band AtmOsfear with their third release called Zenith. After hearing this one, I am now they have me on a mad search for their past two discs. I cannot believe that they have been ignored by the prog metal world if the past music is as good as this album. Any fan of groups such as Dream Theater, Symphony X or Evergrey whom they have shared a stage with, are in for a treat that is the equal of any of these bands.

The disc kind of lulls you in with the short instrumental intro titled "Beginnings". Aptly titled as this is only the start of what is about to fill your senses. The five remaining songs fill the remaining 70 minutes of music and it culminates in the almost 30 minute epic "Spiral Of Pain". Along the way you are treated to a group of five musicians that can hold their own with anyone you would like to name. Stephan Kruse on keyboards, vocalist Oliver Wulff, bassist Burkhart Heberle along with drummer Tim Schnabel and guitarist Boris Stepanow form one of the most dynamic group of musicians ever assembled. They seem to draw off each other and interweave their individual talents into one of the best musical offerings of 2009 or any year for that matter.

When music has the power to make you stop what you are doing and listen then you know you have something special. As the very metal opening to "Loss Of Hope" hit me I perked up the ears. When the vocals started, I knew this was no run of the mill offering. Then as the band swelled to their full magnitude, I was completely absorbed. Who are these guys? It is still amazing that music of this caliber can fly under the radar for this long. All you have to do is listen to the exchange between the keyboards and guitars during the extended instrumental section of this song and you will become a fan without a doubt. These guys are the real deal.

I have been trying to think of what I can tell you are the highlights of this disc. Well it could be the terrific instrumental piece "Reawakening" with its powerful piano that sets a mood that the guitar plays off of so well, or it may be the enthralling "Generations" which is a roller coaster ride of sound. Then there is the edgy "Scum Of Society" which shows that they are as powerful lyrically as they are musically. Of course all this is setting you up for the epic "Spiral Of Pain" where they take you on a 30 minute quest for musical perfection. They leave nothing on the table as this vast work captures all that we prog metal lovers dream of. Intoxicating from beginning to end this is a classic piece of art. Where Michelangelo used many different mediums to project his art, AtmOsfear similarly uses many different musical approaches to convey their message, melancholy when called for, melodic where needed, brooding and harsh as the story calls for and totally mesmerizing throughout.

This is a must have disc. For anyone who has a love of great music this is one that needs to be given a chance. You will not be disappointed." - Sea Of Tranquility

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  • Limited first edition digipak of live recordings culled from Firewind's 2012 European tour as well as their 10th anniversary gigs in Greece from December 2012.
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  • Limited edition digipak with three bonus tracks."What can we say about Liv Kristine, a beautiful Scandinavian enchantress, who has been one of the most prominent figures of gothic metal for the past 20 years and was a part of pioneering the beauty and the beast vocal style of singing? We first got to know her more than unique, angelic soprano when we met her as one of the front figures in a legendary gothic metal band Theatre Of Tragedy, but meanwhile she also set herself a solo career in 1998, with her romantic and beautifully gloomy debut Deus Ex Machina. She continued in a bit lighter manner, with following three releases Enter My Religion, Skintight and Libertine being slightly goth influenced pop-rock records, full of upbeat and catchy tunes, in which she still managed to radiate a crestfallen feel and evolve more and more vocally with each and every release. Now she presents us with her 5th full length album, which carries its title after a potent herb, which is known as one of the greatest weaknesses of vampires: Vervain.With Vervain, Liv Kristine decided to return to her roots and take us on a beautiful journey through dark rock with so many various influences; ranging from gothic metal, doom metal and even pop. Her first single, "Love Decay", which features Michelle Darkness from End Of Green on vocals, is a wonderful drive down the memory lane, as their duet and dreamy keyboards - especially at the very ending of the song - nostalgically take us more than a decade in the past - in the era of Theatre of Tragedy's marvelous creation Aégis. Their voices couldn't fit together more perfectly, as they create an amazing, emotional and heartbreaking atmosphere just by singing. It's not a coincidence Liv Kristine has collaborated with so many musicians, since she knows just how to entwine two different voices and voice colours to exist in perfect symbiosis.  Another duet, this time with the legendary vocalist Doro Pesch, is presented in a song "Stronghold Of Angels" and the very beginning of the song goes even further in the past, as its slow and doom-esque intro reminds of Theatre Of Tragedy's earliest works - the eponymous debut and Velvet Darkness They Fear. And you can imagine, with two strong vocalists such as Liv Kristine and Doro nothing can go wrong and Doro's powerful and slightly raspy voice again creates the ambivalent feel alongside Liv's crystalline soprano. "My Wilderness", "Vervain" and "Elucidation" are at the same time gracious and strong, slightly harsher songs, which will please the fans of Leaves Eyes. Their dense and rich song structure, alongside Liv's fierce vocals and guitars, which are flirting with alternative metal, certainly bring an unique ambiance to it, being at the same time romantically frail and glamorously dark. While "Lotus" is the fragile ballad and "Creeper" the power ballad of the album, "Two And A Heart" and "Oblivious" again present the colours of early Theatre Of Tragedy; "Oblivious" with doom oriented guitars and "Two And A Heart" with Liv's more than perfect vocal performance and additional piano tune, creating a doleful and sombre sound.It's more than enjoyable to once again hear Liv Kristine peering into the depths of gothic metal and including the typical romantic, yet saddened ambient into the songs, subsequently creating - well - a small theatre of tragedy inside each and every track.  All songs carry a very strong and dramatic structure; starting gently and building suspense to a peak of a story and then ending with a memorable crescendo, either by changing the tempo or adding more guitars; each and every track has a story of its own. While the rhythm section is gentler on Vervain, the guitars and keyboards alongside emotional, layered vocals create the core of the album. Ranging from upbeat and powerful melodies, through heartsore and gloomy tracks to fragile ballads, Vervain offers a wide array of highly captivating and intense sounds, evoking an extensive spectre of emotions and veils the whole album in a melancholic atmosphere, which will undoubtedly please the old and the new fans of Liv Kristine." - Terra Relicta
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