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Other Recent Reviews
Ascension – Far Beyond the Stars
Author: UMUR
Rating: 80

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Eluveitie - Origins
Author: adg211288
Rating: 74

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Arkham Witch – Legions of the Deep
Author: UMUR
Rating: 80

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Dictated – The Deceived
Author: adg211288
Rating: 73

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Argus – Boldly Stride the Doomed
Author: UMUR
Rating: 80

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Arghoslent – Troops of Unfeigned Might
Author: UMUR
Rating: 45

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Septycal Gorge – Scourge of the Formless Breed
Author: adg211288
Rating: 79

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Arch Enemy - War Eternal
Author: 666Sharon666
Rating: 95

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Purson – The Circle and the Blue Door
Author: adg211288
Rating: 90

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Arghoslent - Galloping Through the Battle Ruins
Author: UMUR
Rating: 60

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Artillery – My Blood
Author: UMUR
Rating: 80

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Immortal - All Shall Fall
Author: 666Sharon666
Rating: 80

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Solace of Requiem – Casting Ruin
Author: adg211288
Rating: 62

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Armageddon – Armageddon
Author: UMUR
Rating: 70

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Artillery - When Death Comes
Author: UMUR
Rating: 85

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Immortal – Sons of Northern Darkness
Author: 666Sharon666
Rating: 100

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Mount Salem - Endless
Author: adg211288
Rating: 83

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Artificial Brain – Demo 2011
Author: UMUR
Rating: 50

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Artillery – By Inheritance
Author: UMUR
Rating: 90

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Immortal - Damned in Black
Author: 666Sharon666
Rating: 90

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See Older Reviews

Welcome
Welcome to Heavy Metal Haven, the open-minded heavy metal forums!

Recent Reviews
MindMazeBack From the Edge
Genre: Progressive Power Metal
Release Date: October 24th 2014
Label: Inner Wound Recordings
Author: adg211288

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Back From the Edge (2014) is the second full-length album by US metal act MindMaze. Having released their debut album Mask of Lies (2013) independently the band have moved up in the world and Back From the Edge is released through Inner Wound Recordings. The band have also added bassist Mike LePond to the line-up, a notable musician best known for none other than the mighty Symphony X among others. Additionally the band has garnered some high profile guest appearances such as Jens Johansson of Stratovarius adding a keyboard solo to Moment of Flight and Matt Johnsen of Pharaoh adding a guitar solo on The Machine Stops.

I'm going to take a little time out from my usual review structure to apologise to my readers, as I had made the promise to try and cover some other genres for a time after realising that a good majority of my current group of 2014 release reviews were for power metal albums. A follow-up to the excellent MindMaze debut Mask of Lies was always high on my personal hype list for the rest of this year, but I thought I'd be safe with my promise when a promo for the album came my way, as in my opinion Mask of Lies was mainly a traditional heavy metal album with power metal and progressive metal leanings, more so the latter than power metal. Turns out though that Back From the Edge is not a heavy metal album, but a progressive power metal album. So sorry readers, the promise is going briefly on hold.

Wait...I'm really not all that sorry about that, for in Back From the Edge MindMaze have produced an album that is possibly the best case of genre evolution I've ever heard, changing the band from a good heavy metal band to an excellent power metal band.

While there are some moments on Back From the Edge that are more like straight-forward power metal songs, such as the lead single Dreamwalker, the album is mostly made up a perfect blend of power and progressive metal ideas so while you'll be getting plenty of those speedy power metal riffs to propel the music along the guitar playing by Jeff Teets in particular has a tendency to veer off into more complex ideas, with the occasional use of keyboards adding another layer to the sound, though the band usually stick to a typical song structure, with most on the album clocking between the four and six minute marks.

At the other end of the spectrum though there are a couple of longer tracks, namely The Machine Stops and Onward (Destiny Calls II). The latter is obviously a follow-up to the closing track from Mask of Lies. It's these longer songs of course that really bring the progressive side of the music out, and Onward (Destiny Calls II) is especially impressive, even including some flute usage that gives the song a very slight folksy vibe. This is the most progressive song on the album and is probably the only one here that I'd call a progressive metal song over a power metal song and despite being the power metal maniac I am, it's also my favourite.

Back From the Edge is quickly impressive for the same reasons that made Mask of Lies such an great debut, but the difference is where Mask of Lies seemed a little unsure about what the band wanted to be, Back From the Edge is a focussed piece of work with strong musicianship all round, amazing energy, and powerful vocals by Sarah Teets. MindMaze have been a pretty unknown entity on the metal scene up until this point, but Back From the Edge is the album that sets out to change that, and will if there is any justice in the world.

I mentioned earlier about trying to leave off power metal reviews for a while because of the large amount I've done this year, but what I neglected to say is that only one of those albums was awarded a top tier score, and folk-power metal albums like that one (Elvenking) are nearly always more recognisable as folk metal releases so really Back From the Edge is the first power metal from 2014 that is a power metal album before it is something else (in this case progressive metal) that I've felt the need to go up to the top tier for. Back From the Edge is really everything fans of female voiced power metal could want, and I don't feel like I'm overhyping it by putting up a perfect score. Consider me blown away by the massive progress MindMaze has made in such a short time since their debut. 100/100

:star: :star: :star: :star: :star:


Comment.

Assorted HeapThe Experience of Horror
Genre: Death/Thrash Metal
Release Date: 1991
Label: 1MF Recordz
Author: UMUR

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"The Experience of Horror" is the debut full-length studio album by German death/thrash metal act Assorted Heap. The album was released through 1 MF in 1991. The original vinyl version only contained 6 tracks while the CD version featured 9 tracks. I´m not sure why because the vinyl version is definitely on the shorter side with it´s 27:20 minutes long playing time and even if they had added the CD bonus tracks to the vinyl version it would still only have lasted around 37 minutes. You can´t excuse that with loss of sound quality, which was sometimes the explanation back then with vinyl albums longer than 45 minutes.

The music on "The Experience of Horror" is US influenced death/thrash (or brutal thrash metal if you will). As far as I recall it´s not often I´ve heard music like this coming from a German act. There´s not a hint of teutonic thrash here. Instead the music is aggressive and at times brutal thrash metal played with great technical skill. Acts like Dark Angel, Devastation and early Invocator come to mind. The tracks are well written, energetic and powerful and while the sound production isn´t without flaws, "The Experience of Horror" still comes off as a quality death/thrash release. I guess some tracks could have been a little more memorable, like for example the title track is, but it´s not a major issue.

"The Experience of Horror" is a rather obscure release and probably not that easy to find, but if you are a fan of late eighties/early nineties death/thrash and you are able to find a copy, I´d recommend a purchase. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved. 70/100

:star: :star: :star: :halfstar:


Comment.

AsphyxThe Rack
Genre: Death Metal
Release Date: April 13th 1991
Label: Century Media Records
Author: UMUR

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"The Rack" is the debut full-length studio album by Dutch death metal act Asphyx. The album was released through Century Media Records in April 1991. After leaving Pestilence, bassist/vocalist Martin Van Drunen teamed up with guitarist Eric Daniels and drummer Bob Bagchus to form Asphyx. Apparently Martin Van Drunen didn´t agree with the rest of the guys in Pestilence about the more sophisticated death metal sound that they wanted to pursue as his interest was in filthy old school death metal.

...Asphyx more than fits that description and in fact "The Rack" is probably one of the most filthy and brutal old school death metal albums out there. Martin Van Drunen has a rather distinct vocal style. A kind of desperate sounding growl/howl and he pushes his voice to the full on this album and sometimes even beyond what I find pleasant to listen to. So beware that the vocals on "The Rack" might be an acquired taste. Asphyx play a filthy doomy death metal style with an organic and authentic almost sloppy touch. There are some crushingly brutal doomy riffs on the album, but the band play both mid- and faster paced parts too. A track like "The Sickening Dwell" has always stood out to me, but the album is generally consistent in quality. But that also means that the album doesn´t feature many highlight nor many lows.

The sound production is noisy, distorted and at times almost unbearable to my ears. Filthy, filthy stuff.

"The Rack" is a classic old school death metal album from the golden year of death metal 1991. It´s not a personal favourite of mine, mainly because of the extreme vocal delivery and the equally extreme production values (I´m simply not butch enough to enjoy this album all the way through), but it´s an original and distinct sounding death metal release and deserves recognition for that. a 3.5 star (70%) rating is warranted. 70/100

:star: :star: :star: :halfstar:


Comment.

AstarteDoomed Dark Years
Genre: Black Metal/Symphonic Black Metal
Release Date: 1998
Label: Black Lotus Records
Author: 666Sharon666

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Doomed Dark Years, the first full-length Astarte album, was released in 1998. As far as I know Astarte were one of the first (maybe even the first) all female black metal bands, originally forming under the name Lloth in 1995. Some tracks from Lloth’s demo Dancing in the Dark Lakes of Evil appear as bonus tracks on certain reissues of Doomed Dark Years. The version I have is an original 1998 pressing though.

Astarte's take on black metal varied a bit in their five album career (which sadly came to an end this year due to the death of band leader Tristessa). On Doomed Dark Years it's a mix of pretty standard early black metal ideas and some symphonic black metal. The atmosphere is raw and vocalist Kinthia can be hard to follow, but that's all things I'm sure black metal listens are used to and even look for depending on their point of view on so called 'true' black metal. While not revolutionary by today's standards and perhaps not even then in 1998 (aside from them being female, session drummer aside, which is completely irrelevant from a musical point of view), being four years after albums like In the Nightside Eclipse (Emperor) or De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (Mayhem), I've always found the Astarte debut to be quite the accomplished piece of work, featuring not only the raw riffs and blast beat drums but eerie symphonic melodies, acoustic guitars and even some piano. All in all, a more accomplished debut than many of the bigger black metal acts out of Norway, including my personal favourites Immortal. 90/100

:star: :star: :star: :star: :star:


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Album of the Month
MotorpsychoBehind the Sun
Genre: Psychedelic Rock/Hard Rock
Release Date: March 7th 2014
Label: Stickman Records/Rune Grammofon
Author: UMUR

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"Behind The Sun" is the 16th full-length studio album by Norwegian psychedelic rock/hard rock act Motorpsycho. The album was released through Stickman Records/Rune Grammofon in March 2014. "Behind The Sun" is available on CD, vinyl and as digital download. The CD and digital download versions of the album feature nine tracks, while the vinyl version features two instrumental bonus tracks. As an interesting gimmick the two vinyl bonus tracks are cut in parallel, which results in the needle randomly playing one of the two tracks, providing the listener with a suprise opening to the album upon each listen (the two tracks are placed as the first track(s) on side 1).

It hasn´t been much more than a year since the release of "Still Life With Eggplant (2013)", but Motorpsycho have as always kept busy and have among other things toured Europe. Prolific Swedish musician Reine Fiske (Landberk, Paatos, Elephant9...etc.) once again helps out on electric and acoustic guitars and mellotron. The latter instrument is heard on almost every track on the album. Other than the more regular rock instrumentation of guitars, bass and drums (and the mentioned mellotron), which are for the most part played by the three-piece band, Motorpsycho are also helped out by Thomas Henriksen who plays piano (on "The Magic & The Wonder"), Ole Henrik Moe who plays saw (on "Cloudwalker (A Darker Blue)") and viola (on "Ghost" and "Kvæstor") and Kari Rønnekleiv who plays violin (on "Ghost").

Stylistically the music on "Behind The Sun" pretty much continue down the same psychedelic rock/hard rock path which "Still Life With Eggplant (2013)" also followed. To an extent where I´ll dare call them sibling albums. The band are as always incredibly well playing and "Behind The Sun" is packed in a powerful, organic and warm sound production, which suits the music perfectly. "Behind The Sun" are among the most consistently great albums yet by Motorpsycho. There are zero filler material and no sections or tracks that don´t feel like they belong. The album also features a great overall flow and even though it´s around an hour long, it never feels like it overstays it´s welcome. In fact I feel a strong urge to put it on again right after the busy jamming track "Hell, Pt. 7: Victim of Rock" closes the album.

While the tracks on the album are both consistent in quality and style, Motorpsycho are not a one-trick pony by any means. The core of their music might be rooted in psychedelic rock/hard rock of the late sixties/early seventies, and references to artists like (early seventies) Pink Floyd, Wishbone Ash (in their early seventies prime), Jefferson Airplane and Cream are valid enough, but they successfully incorporate stylistic elements from their influences to their music to create their own unique style, even adding a progressive element now and again. Hard rocking riffs, acoustic sections, psychedelic effects, mellow vocals and harmonies and the occasional mellotron wave are some of the elements that make up the band´s sound on "Behind The Sun". Highlights include the 12:24 minutes long "Hell, Pt. 4-6: Traitor / The Tapestry / Swiss Cheese Mountain", the opening track "Cloudwalker (A Darker Blue)", the mellow "Ghost" and the above mentioned busy jamming track "Hell, Pt. 7: Victim of Rock", but as mentioned "Behind The Sun" is a very strong release throughout. A 4.5 star (90%) rating is deserved. 90/100

:star: :star: :star: :star: :halfstar:




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