Within Temptation-Hydra ©2014 Nuclear Blast Records
The latest from Within Temptation is a stunner. The band never seem to hold to the recipe of writing music the same way each album. The bands core sound is there, but there is always a lot of new elements to each record. 'Hydra' is no exception. There are some decent collaborations vocally with this album and they work quite well. First spin through I felt the album was really good. Second listen it sunk in even deeper as an amazing piece of musical artistry. In my new rating system, this album receives my first 5 star rating. The band is continually doing amazing things. Don't change a thing, it works!
Silvertung-Devil's in the Details ©2013 Silvertung
Always fun catching up with new talent. Maryland's Silvertung have released up a decent and diverse record of rock 'n roll with attitude. Some of it's heavy, some of it's a bit more melodic and as a whole, it's a pretty fulfilling listen. The band are a bit more modern edged with some classic hard rock at the core. The delivery of about every song on this record is smooth. No real need to pass any tracks as well. It's all killer and no filler in my opinion. I believe this band deserves a shot at a much bigger stage. Not sure about physical copies, but this album can be had through iTunes and Amazon. Recommended!
Crystal Ball-Dawnbreaker ©2014 Massacre Records
Been quite some time since we heard from Swiss metallers Crystal Ball. The band's latest is a platter of great power metal with some melodic moments. The album was produced with the help of Stefan Kaufmann who metal fans will know as being from Accept. The album starts off decent and really picks up mid way through. Love tracks such as 'Back for Good' and 'Power Pack'. The album has been getting a decent amount of play time for me and is another reason why I feel this year has gotten off to a great start. We've reviewed 'em before but if you haven't heard them, you probably should!
Axel Rudi Pell-Into the Storm ©2014 Steamhammer Records
Axel Rudi Pell really has made a career for himself dating back to the early days with Steeler. One thing you can always count on with his music from record to record is sheer consistency. Musically, you know what to expect as a fan. The question always is 'Is it good, or really good'. He never disappoints and 'Into the Storm' is no exception. He balances intensity and finesse and always delves deep into story. The bonus material actually is some of my favorite stuff on this album. As mentioned, if you have heard anything by this band, you already know what you are getting. Good album!
Iced Earth-Plagues of Babylon ©2014 Century Media Records
This one took a few spins to figure out. My initial spin of this album sounded good, but felt like it was kind of dragging on. Maybe not a lot of diversity. After subsequent listens it started to fine tune for me. While I don't feel this is the bands best work, it feels pretty solid in its own right. The overall feel is a mid-tempo sound with occasional aggressive riffs. Stu Block is sounding solid with his second outing with the band. Couple of tracks that stood out to me were 'The End?' and 'The Culling'. It's a decent listen and keeps me feeling curious about where the band is heading with their next release.