Thursday, August 31, 2006

Metal Is War !

Sacred Steel is another power metal band from Germany with a Manowar like vow of True Metal. And with "Bloodlust" this holds quite true. "Bloodlust" is a heavy dark metal album with loads of melody without the use of keyboards. The story behind this concept is vague in its complexity and reminds me of the lyrical styling of Absu. Something about Elder gods, sorcerers and magic, dark legions and the death of Tyrant King. Oops, I just spoiled the ending ... uhm , sorry... It's defiant, and battle hungry. However, concept story aside, this is a bludgeoning metal assault.

No intro here (well a mild acoustic bit) but the album just descends into the fast and melodic darkness that is "Stormhammer". The first vocals are a narrative style death metal. This death metal vocal intro starts us off on "The Oath Of Blood" as well. It's a nice touch and brings a brutalness to the songs. "Oath .." has a great thrash like riff and a sort Manowar-ish call to arms feel.

"Lust For Blood", "Metal Is War" and "Blood On My Steel" are all fine power metal songs. They are hooky with anthemic leanings and melody provided by guitars and vocals by Gerrit Mutz. "Sacred Warriors Of Steel" and the album closer "Throne Of Metal" both feature keyboards. The intro to "Sacred ..." has a church organ quality providing a dark touch to the song, but is quickly cut off by the melodic riffwork of rhythm guitars. "Throne Of Metal" 's keys are more of majestic male choral style often featured in Manowar songs. They are subtle here, but add a nice epicness to the ending of this album.

The stand out tracks for me are "Master Of Thy Fate" with its acoustic intro and melodic ballad like vocals. The song then moves into a defiant ,I'll do what I please, tone with mid paced riffing and a sing along chorus. It's a dark and passionate tune. However, in a unpredictable turn (I tend to prefer the melodic emotional tunes), my favourite track is "Dark Forces Lead Me To The Brimstone Gate". This is a dark, thrashy song which is fast and crushing. The drum work takes on a hammering feel and pound the heck out of you. And through the chorus's they incorporate some of the death metal vocals as a background so the regular vocals have a demonic feel. Very nice indeed.

This is the only Sacred Steel album I own, and probably the only one I will own, but it is fine piece of power metal and highly recommended. I should note that Gerrit Mutz's vocals take a bit of getting used to. They are not all wailing and screeching as often found in power metal, but more baritone-ish almost doom like. The accent is quite distinguishable, which is unusual, but once I was used to it, I can't imagine the album without it. They rather enhance the mood of the music and helps it stand out from other power metal outfits.

Well that's all (for now) on fantasy/sci-fi metal, my next post will be much different then what I've been dealing with lately .... maybe even a little shocking .... but mostly just different.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Watery Tarts handing Out Swords Is No Bases For A System Of Government.

Grave Digger is a German power metal band from Germany ... (cough,cough) who have helped carve a niche for power metal through the eighties. They have released a number of solid albums over the years and today I'll explore the 3rd album of a middle ages trilogy. I've included this album in my fantasy/sci-fi theme cause it's a concept album based on the Arthurian legend. Real? Fake? who knows, but it's a time tested story that still fascinates to this day and what better way to revisit the legend of Camelot than through power metal!

The album is "Excalibur" and of the 3, it is my favourite. The songs are memorable and catchy, and though it's a concept album the songs stand strong on their own. I've decided to review this album because like my trend seems to be, it's the first album I've bought of theirs (also the fantasy theme I've got going). "Excalibur" starts off with the standard concept album, orchestral intro "The Secrets Of Merlin" which is melodic and celticy. What I like about Grave Digger is that although they have the standard intro, they throw in guitars to give it the power metal feel. This lets us know that although the concept is mystical/magical ... fantasy(?) ... it's still a heavy metal album. The intro ends with a Dragon like roar which is suitable for the fist pounding 2nd track "Pendragon". This is fast melodic power metal with wailing solos and thrashy riffwork. The celticy/atmospheric bridge is a nice touch and keeps the legendary feel of the album.

"Excalibur", "The Round Table (Forever)", and "The Final War" as well are fine power metal tunes in the vein of "Pendragon". Fast and furious with touches of folky/celticness to keep the mood. "Tristan's Fate", "Lancelot" and "Mordred's Song" are also anthemic and fast with "Mordred ..." being a touch darker. These tracks are good, but are not AS memorable. The album's closer, "Avalon" has a nice acousticy melodic intro with a folk style chorus and sums the album up nicely.

The stand out tracks are numerous. "Morgan Le Fay" and "The Spell" are freakin' heavy and passionate. "Morgan..." starts off sweet, then gets crunchy with some wailing soloing, a dark edge as well. "The Spell" is mid paced, with a chunky chorus guitar work. Chris Boltendahl uses cleaner vocals here with his usually gruff styling (grindcore in intensity) for the chorus, a beautiful blend.

My favourite track (which is tough, "Morgan Le Fay" is a great song") is "Emerald Eyes". This is song is a ballad, but has crushing intensity with a heavy chorus. It's a song sung by Arthur on his deathbed of his love for Guinevere and of his forgiveness of all she has done. The song just reeks of emotion and is downright heart wrenching. Chris sings in his gruff style (as Arthur) over folk like orchestrations, the mix is stirring. You can feel the utter desperation in his voice as it breaks with each word he speaks. Absolutely brilliant. The chorus gets heavy with guitars and we are reminded that though Arthur is the legendary High King of Britain, he too was just a man, fragile.

I don't own a lot of Grave Digger's collection, but I feel this album is a career high. A wonderful blend of power metal, celtic stylings and a damned good story. I plan one fantasy style metal album before branching out to different stuff... up next is Sacred Steel's "Bloodlust" .... then .... well I think you'll be pleasantly surprised ...

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Death To False Metal!

Manowar is a band that have been around for over 25 years and have played the same music and style without ever getting dull or repetitive. It's like they mix the chords up a bit and change the lyrics, but for some reason it always sounds fresh. I don't know why, maybe it's cause I enjoy their brand of metal, who knows, but you know what you're going to get with each album and it will be well done. Manowar is also Synonymous with the term True Metal and I paraphrase on behalf of Joey DeMaio (bassist and key songwriter) 'True metal' is music that's true to the style of classic heavy metal. It's not diluted. It's not pussied out. It's not wimped out. It's played from the heart, 100 percent. And is definitely true for every single Manowar album that's ever been released.

The album I'll delve into today is "Triumph Of Steel". This is the bands 7th album, but my first to experience. I bought this solely for the 28+ minute epic "Achilles, Agony and Ecstacy in 8 parts". At the time of purchase I was into a lot of fantasy metal and this truly appealed to me and man is this album a killer! Before I get into the epic I'll talk about the rest of the album.

This could have been a very dull album solely thrown together simply to showcase "Achilles..." but is not the case. Manowar have included a number of great tracks. We have the standard death to posers song "Metal Warriors (Brothers Of Metal pt 2)" with unapologetic lyrics such as: Heavy Metal Or No Metal At All Wimps And Posers Leave The Hall Heavy Metal Or No Metal At All Wimps And Posers Go On Get Out Leave The Hall.Doesn't get much bolder than that. "Ride Of The Dragon" is fast and majestic with a little talking guitar effect to create some cool dragon noises. "Spirit Horse Of The Cherokee" is about the Cherokee Indians and the Trail of Tears stand off. It starts off with Indian narration, being translated in a song like whisper before we get assaulted with very tribal like rhythmic heavy metal. The bludgeoning bass and drums make Iron Maiden's Run To The Hills seem poppy (OK might not that much, but you get what I'm saying). And "Burning" is dark and atmospheric with whispered vocals during the versus then blasting us with pummeling metal similar to "Spirit Horse...". One of my favourite tracks is "The Power Of Thy Sword". It is epic and majestic with swords clashing throughout as part of the music. The song is fast and powerful and Eric Adam's vocals are brilliant. "Demons Whip" is another epic track that starts of dark and moody, then moves into some bonecrushing riffwork before crushing us with a blistering thrashy outro which is the fastest I've heard Manowar play. Then the album ends with the majestic orchestral ballad "Master Of The Wind". It's simple and powerful with good use of Timpany percussion and Eric Adam's vocals just shine. Now onto "Achilles, Agony and Ecstacy in eight parts".

The epicness begins with a very triumphant guitar anthem that signifies the start of something grand, a mighty fine intro. Then "Hector Storms The Wall" which begins the metal onslaught. It's fast and ferocious. "Death Hector's Reward" and "The Glory Of Achilles" both are brutally fast thrashy parts as well. The epic also includes orchestral ballads not unlike "Master Of The Wind" with the song parts "The Death of Patroclus" and "Hector's Final Hour" which have Eric wailing with powerful and passionate, majestic vocals which remind us that he is one of Metals greatest vocalists. The instrumental parts aren't bad, but "Armor of the Gods" which is a blistering drum solo does tend to drag. "Funeral March" is a beautiful guitar solo full of emotion, unfortunately the momentum is slightly lost with the drum solo that follows ("Armour..."). "The Desecration of Hector's Body, parts 1 & 2" is a fine example of Joey DeMaio's exemplary bass work with part 2 being almost electric guitar like.

Overall "Triumph Of Steel" is fine album, and my favourite of Manowar's. Every song is good and showcase's the bands fine musicianship. There is a passion and rawness on this album that doesn't seem to be on their later releases. Joey DeMaio has helped create and maintain a commendable loyalty to it's fans and their art, a band that is sincere. Eric Adams (The only other original member) is the vocal representation of that secure feeling a fan gets with every listen of a Manowar album.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Lion, The Witch And The Hethenesse.

I'd like to start this entry off with a rant. While doing some research and photo browsing I came across a review of this album. I say review, but really it was just some guy bitchin' about bands being creative and original. The reviewer (and I use the term loosely) Droneriot who contributes to Encyclopaedia Metallum (great site mind you) complained about bands mixing genres. Last I checked, that's how all music is created. We wouldn't have heavy metal if it weren't for heavier blues riffing. What's blistering solos but classical melodies. What's progressive metal but jazz and jam rock. Now I don't know what bands Droneriot is into, but I guarantee they are utilizing various musical influences not normally associated with metal. But if he wants to listen to Metallica clones and nothing else, then he is missing out on some damn good music. The other comment Drone made was in response to a critique. Someone had stated that reviews should only be made by people who like the band. And I do agree with Droneriot that that is not the purpose of reviews, I do feel the reviewer should be open-minded and at least like the genre. Drone should not be reviewing anything but standard unoriginal heavy metal. That's why you won't see me reviewing any hip hop or reggea or R&B. I don't like it and therefore cannot be openminded about it. I'm too biased. That's why my Wife isn't reviewing my CD's cause she does care for them. So Droneriot, if you by chance are reading this, you're not cut out for reviewing if you can't accept creativity and originality in music. There enough said.

Now on to Furthest Shore's "Chronicles Of Hethenesse Book 1: The Shadow Descends" (I'll just call it Chronicles from here on in). Furthest Shore is made up of various members of extreme metal bands (Darkwoods My Betrothed, Nattvind, and a little Nightwish) who have come together in tribute to the stylings of Quorthorn of Bathory fame. "Chronicles..." is gothic power metal with touches of doom and folk.

The album begins with an instrumental piece much like Rivendell (same label)majestic and orchestral with a folky feel. Then the pace is set by "Land Of The Free And Proud" which is a somber piece that is doom like with nice piano bits. The rest of the album essentially keeps this pace which is mid level power metal. Not a lot of variation in speed, but also not really necessary. The biggest critique I've read is that it is not epic enough, which is true, but these songs feel more accessible, radio friendly. The music is very atmospheric and almost hypnotic thanks to Emperor Nattasett's vocals which are a gothic-like baritone. They are like an instrument of themselves blended in with the whole composition. The Keyboards by Nightwish's Tuomas Holopainen are simple and effective especially on "Land Of The Free ...", "The Seven Arrive" and "The Blade".

R.Puukko's fine guitar work is exceptional here. Simplistic sounding riff work, with catchy hooks and blazing solos which want to feel out of place, but never do. There's a strong rock'n'roll sense present and can be seen on songs "Tower Of God", "Until The Bitter End" and most notably "The Prophecy" which lends itself to some Pink Floydianism's in the solo work. There is some fine acoustic guitar work here too as seen on "Guardian Of The Blade" and "The Prophecy" intro.

The stand out tracks here are "Tower Of God" and "The Blade". I can't decide which I like better. "Tower Of God" is dark and melodic with a catchy chorus as well as nice acoustic/electric guitar work. "The Blade" is dark also, but the keyboards bring a very eerie sound which is great as well as a haunting bridge. Both are superb, I can't choose.

"Chronicles Of Hethenesse Book 1: The Shadow Descends" is a concept album about a fantasy world and is atmospheric and epic as a whole. If all else, this is a fine start to a potential series ... Book 2,3,4 .... I guess we'll see.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Grond Vision Of Middle-Earth

Today's review is on a Slovakian (Bratislava) band called Orkrist. I've included this group as part of my fantasy/sci-fi theme because their second album touches on JRR Tolkiens Lord of the Rings. This is not a LOTR's based metal band, but tracks 3-9 are based on the LOTR works. "Grond" is their second and last outing as they have now split. I'd be interested in checking out their debut release, but I don't think it'll still be available....hmm .... ah well .... Orkrist play symphonic folk black metal (some may say doom, but I wouldn't) along the veins of Summoning with shout outs to Bal-Sagoth.

"Grond" begins with the Bal-Sagoth meets Summoning orchestral intro "For Lordaeron" which is majestic, yet peaceful accomplished by the folk elements. Then comes track 2 with yet more Orchestral intro work before we are blasted with Summoning inspired black metal. Keyboards play a large part in Orkrist, but I find that when accompanying the black metal parts it just enhances, not drown out the guitars or vocals. It really gives the music atmosphere and beautiful melodies. On songs "When The Autumn Comes", "Armageddon" as well as "Dreams Of Life Beyond My Shire Beloved" are good examples of use of female vocals. Lydia provides folk vocal stylings soprano like which adds more to the folk feel and provides a lovely contrast to the harsher black metal vocals. Think Visions Of Atlantis or later era Edenbridge.

The LOTR's part (tracks 3-9) start with the folky intro "Enter Middle-Earth" and then we get bombarded by "Glamdring" which is fast and majestic. This song along with "Dreams Of Life Beyond My Shire Beloved" and "Armageddon" continue in folk, black metal Summoning inspired style, but though the influence is strong they don't copy. Orkrist music does stand on its own. "The Ode: Fall Of Gil-Galad" is a folk song sung by Lydia with pub cheers and noises to add to the atmosphere. It's like a bard performing in a pub, nice touch.

"Shadowlord" has a dancy beat to it but the metalness makes it OK ... (cough,cough) ...

My favourite track was hard to pick. The album is quite strong and flows together as a river of music. And like trying to find the best part of a river, I've settled on the song "Rotten Veil Of Nakedness".I've picked this song cause it embraces all the elements that Orkrist incorporate into this album. It's a folky black metal song with choral Viking style choirs. It's (I think) the perfect mix of styles the band was going for. And the Flute/vocal/guitar melody for the versus' is nice and reminds me of Atrocity's "Cold Black Days" guitar/vocal treat.

Orkrist is a good band and brings together elements and styles and influences quite nicely so that nothing ever sounds like a clone or rip off, but blends into a unique sound. And this brings me to my next post. I'll be reviewing Furthest Shore's "Chronicles Of Hethenesse: Book 1 The Shadow Descends". As I was researching and finding photos, I came across a review of this album on a Metal Encyclopedia website. The review was bad, but not cause the album is, but cause the reviewer is. I'll rant about it in my next post.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Stairway To What ?!?! But This Is Metal!

Freedom Call is another side project featuring Daniel Zimmerman of Gamma Ray and a short stint with Iron Savior. Here he has joined with long time friend Chris Bay where the two have forged four studio albums and a live record. Gamma Ray was on hiatus, I assume, so Dan and Chris created a concept for a series of albums that tells the story of the fallen empire of Taragon. The first album is the story of a surviving peoples, where upon discovering a prophecy, begin an arduous journey to the stone staircase to the promiseland (Fairyland?). Sound cheesy? Well you're right! Damn cheesy. But I'm a sucker for this kind of cheese, as you'll see with a number of my fantasy based European power metal bands. But these guys play some damn good power metal.

"Stairway To Fairyland" is a great album. Despite the horrible title (Why couldn't they have called it "Stairway To The Promiseland" or "Fallen Empire" or something cooler than Fairyland! It's Metal for crying out loud!) but what can you do? I bought it fairy and all ... no regrets. If you want a great anthemic sing a long epic power metal album, than "Stairway To Fairyland" is for you.

The album starts off with the majestic "Over The Rainbow" which is crazily hooky and a damned fun song. This really gets you into the album. The keyboards have a church organ like feel which adds a spirituality to the album. The next song which has my favourite bridge is "Tears Falling". It's a hooky epic song with a wicked solo and a bridge that puts the heavy metal in fairyland. A chunky dark bit that brings some passion to the tune.

The rest of the album is your standard power metal style. "Shine On", "Tears Of Taragon" and "Fairyland" all are heavy melodic and epic. However, "Fairyland's" chorus is cringingly cheesy ... "Living in a failyland, Oasis of Light ..." (sigh ...) I don't know how Chris Bay can sing this while trying to be all metal. But it is a very catchy sing along song. And that's what so great about this album. It is terribly addictive. I couldn't listen to it enough when I got it. "Hymn To The Brave" is a heartfelt power ballad with a great solo riff that carries through the tune. And "Holy Knight" ends with a Conan the Barbarian like operatic choral choir which is fantastic.I would say the opening track "Over The Rainbow" is my favourite. It's epic, fun and powerful.

All in all, Freedom Call's "stairway To Fairyland" is a fine album from start to finish. It really gets you moving. They aren't doing anything new here, but what they are doing, they are doing it well. And though it's ridiculously cheesy, it's addictively cheesy. And I proud to climb this stairway to Fairyland!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Swiss Family ... Koppigen ...

Excelsis is Helvetic Folk Power Metal from Switzerland. I don't know what that means. What I do know is I like it. As I mentioned in my previous post, I discovered Excelsis via the bonus track on Iron Savior's "Unification" album. They won a battle of the bands contest hosted by RockHard during Iron Savior's Atlantis Falling Tour. I did my darnedess to find their album(s) only to find (at the time) no real website or any information. I sorta gave up for a number of years, until whence upon listening to "Unification" for the umpteenth time last year, I attempted to browse again and lo and behold, I stumbled upon their website (and after translating via google) I discovered they were still alive and 4 albums strong. The albums being independently produced due to a lack of a label. That's when I started getting giddy and at the same time stymed. How do I go about acquiring (all) these albums. I fired off an email to the bands management inquiring about the availability and price of all 4 albums. They were all still available for the low price of 50 euro's (about 20 bucks each Canadian and that is including shipping) That's cheaper per disc than what I usually spend in store for imports! So's I was like, alright! I sent off a money order and about 3 months later all 4 cd's were in my hand! Heck they continue to email updates to their tours, unfortunately they only play oversea's or else I'd sooooo be there.... Anywho ....

The album I'll be examining today is their 2nd release "Kurt Of Koppigen", this is the album that includes the track "Dragonslayer" featured as Iron Savior's bonus track. This is a concept album inspired by local author Jeremias Gotthelf (Albert Bitzius) who wrote realistic stories of Bernese village life (Area of Switzerland where the band is from). It must cool to be able to grow up around so much history. If I were to do a concept album of my hometown, it'd have to be about Alexander Graham Bell or Wayne Gretzky.

As with pretty much all of Excelsis's albums it starts with a spoken/narrative intro before we are served with "Before The Storm" which is a catchy melodic piece. The whole album jumps between melodic and folky to straight out power metal and the band blends them nicely. That brings me nicely to the title track "Kurt Of Koppigen" which is great example of the power folk metal Excelsis excels at.

We are also delivered some beautiful ballads such as "GrimHilde" and "Song Of Agnes". Both are folk like power ballads and are quite moving. They also are good at fun catchy anthemic songs like "Distant Sky Or The Wild Hunt" and "The Lost Chapter". These are hooky and memorable. Now if you take those last couple songs and add some epicness and powerful acappella male chorus's you'll end up with "Ambush In Langenthal" as well as the album closer "Baphomet's Oath Or Just A Dream". "Baphomet's ... " I would say is my favourite track as it is epic (over 10 min.) with some fine metal riffing making it dark and heavy as well as almost death metal like vocals. A very powerful tune. "Dragonslayer" is up there too as a fave track. It has a great guitar riff and atmospheric keyboards bringing the whole package together and with Munggu's (Mario Beyeler) vocals creates a mood of a time long past. But since "Dragonslayer" is my favourite track on Iron Savior's album, I'll give the title to "Baphomet's Oath ...".

Speaking of Munggu, his vocals are nice, but sometimes sound a bit muffled and strained. I think in part to poor production, but also in part to not much range. I find when he sings more gruffly and lower they are fantastic and unique (his accent is quite pronounced and adds some flavour). But that's just a little critique to a fine album. "Kurt Of Koppigen" as a whole feels like a soundtrack to a cool movie, sprawling and epic with a lot of moods. A fine example of great songwriting and musicianship, now if only they can get better distribution ....

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Iron Giants ... But I Wouldn't Call Them Maidens ...

Iron Savior is the brainchild of Piet Sielck who acquired the help of Kai Hanson of Helloween and Thomas Stauch of Blind Guardian to flesh out his idea. Iron Savior play standard power speed metal common in Europe. I note a huge Blind Guardian sound (Piet was their sound engineer and Stauch's new project Savage Circus is a Blind Guardian clone so his influence must be strong). I should note here that Thomas Stauch stepped down after their first album and Dan Zimmerman of Gamma Ray played drums on the release I'll be reviewing today. Thomas Nack also of Gamma Ray stepped for future releases. That said, I feel their is a Gamma Ray influence as well, though I have heard no Gamma Ray albums I can only assume there is.

The album I'll be reviewing today is "Unification". This is the first album I bought of Iron Savior's and I think it's safe to say it's my favourite. This is their second release and is a concept album. I believe "Iron Savior" itself is the concept and has been carried through a number of albums. Think of Voivod's "Lost Machine" concept and stretch it out over a few albums and that's the story behind Iron Savior. As I said these guys are power/speed metal and serve up a fine album of hooky anthemic songs, blistering solo work and sing a long chorus's. The songs feature melodic guitar leads throughout most songs (ala Blind Guardian style) and the drums have a powerful space age heaviness to them (think Metalium). Piet Sielck's vocals are gruff at times and wailing at others. A fine mix.

Though this album should be taken as a whole package, I found stand out songs like "Starborn" and "Forces Of Rage" with their darker edge by means of keyboards and such and "Captain's Log" is creepy in its mechanical orchestralness. And I love the flat out rockers like "Eye To Eye" and "Unchained". "Unchained" I say is the most sing a long song and is rebellious in its anthemic style. "Forevermore" is the power ballad track and it is majestic with a touch of Pink Floyd.

My favourite Iron Savior track on "Unification" has to be the album opener "Coming Home". It's a blistering assault, with head pounding drum work (almost industrial at times) and ends with a fist pounding outro and chant like vocals. It really sets the mood for the album. They also do a couple covers, an energetic hard hitting version of Black Sabbath's "Neon Knights" and an updated version of Helloween's "Gorgar" called "Gorgar '98" which is wickedly dark and heavy and features a badass snipit of Edvard Grieg's "Hall of The Mountain King". Makes me want to check out Helloween. I haven't yet, but I really want to. Iron Savior later albums are good, but they lack a little something, different from "Unification". I'll try and pin point it on future reviews of their follow up albums.

Now you may think it odd that I would be so specific with my favourite track mention. Well that's because my favourite track is actually by a band called Excelsis and is featured as a bonus track for winning a battle of the bands contest. The song is "Dragonslayer" off their "Kurt of Koppigen" album. That's coming up next ....

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Do Not Adjust Your Blog. We Are In Control Of The Fibre Optics Now ...

Voivod is a Canadian band out of Quebec who have been around for a long time. My first exposure was their "Nothingface" album (which I "borrowed" from my step-brother) but alas I can't remember what I thought of it. But that made me aware of them and when I saw they had a new album (new at the time) I checked it out. That album was "The Outer Limits". This album was not well received at all. I don't see why, it's great! It has very catchy and memorable songs far more than their last 2 albums featuring the return of original singer Denis Belanger (who departed after touring The Outer Limits). I think it's because Voivod mellowed out for this release. Got more progressive.

"The Outer Limits" takes off with driving hooks and catchy lyrics on "Fix My Heart" and continues to reel you in with "Moonbeam Rider". The styles on these tracks are more rock based with progressive elements and it really pulls the listener in. Each song feels like a soundtrack to a sci-fi film especially on tracks "Le Pont Noir" and Time Warp". Both tracks have a darker edge and create an unsettling atmosphere within the song. And Belanger's drone-like vocals on "Le Pont Noir" is a nice touch and enhances the mood.

Then there is the epic 18 minute song "Jack Luminous" which plays out with enough variety to not get boring but not so much as to make it sound like different songs. It's spacey with loads of fine guitar work and plenty O hooks to keep our toes tapping.

"Lost Machine" is the heaviest track here with mid paced thrash style riffing. It is also epic in its lyrical content about an enslaved human race. It's a sci-fi novel packaged as a 6 minute metal song.

The Album closes with 2 catchy hook laden songs "Wrong Way Street" and "We're Not Alone". Both are energetic and rhythmic while staying spacey and atmospheric.

I can't really say solidly if I have a favourite track on this album cause every song is great and compliments each other. But if I had to choose and I know you'll make me, then I would say it's their cover of Pink Floyd's "The Nile Song". It's passionate, powerful and anthemic in intensity. Great solo work as well.

Overall I think Voivod have done good with this album. Sure it may a step mellower, but it still has the signature Voivod sound. I love it and it's one of those albums that I itch to listen to. Like a science fiction novel, it's thought provoking, exciting and fun. It reaches into your deepest inner mind, to The Outer Limits...

... Please Stand By.