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Other Recent Reviews
Shroud of Despondency – Tied to a Dying Animal
Author: adg211288
Rating: 82

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Atrocity – Todessehnsucht
Author: UMUR
Rating: 70

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Myrkur – Myrkur
Author: adg211288
Rating: 83

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Astarte - Demonized
Author: 666Sharon666
Rating: 95

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Darkspace - Dark Space III I
Author: ColdReverie
Rating: 97

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Burzum - The Ways of Yore
Author: ColdReverie
Rating: 38

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Atheist - Jupiter
Author: UMUR
Rating: 100

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Astarte - Sirens
Author: 666Sharon666
Rating: 85

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Psychotic Waltz – A Social Grace
Author: UMUR
Rating: 100

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Author: UMUR
Rating: 70

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Atheist – Unquestionable Presence: Live At Wacken
Author: UMUR
Rating: 75

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Astarte – Quod Superius Sicut Inferius
Author: 666Sharon666
Rating: 100

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Hammerfall - (r)Evolution
Author: DippoMagoo
Rating: 80

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Atrocity - Hallucinations
Author: UMUR
Rating: 90

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Atheretic – Adhesion, Aversion...
Author: UMUR
Rating: 60

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Atheist – Atheist - The Collection
Author: UMUR
Rating: 100

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Opeth – Pale Communion
Author: adg211288
Rating: 72

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Atheist - Beyond
Author: UMUR
Rating: 60

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Asphyx – Deathhammer
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Rating: 75

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Astarte - Rise From Within
Author: 666Sharon666
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Welcome
Welcome to Heavy Metal Haven, the open-minded heavy metal forums!

Recent Reviews
A.C.T.Circus Pandemonium
Genre: Progressive Rock/Metal
Release Date: March 5th 2014
Label: Marquee Avalon
Author: UMUR

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Circus Pandemonium is the 5th full-length studio album by Swedish progressive rock/metal act A.C.T. The album was released through Marquee Avalon in March 2014. It´s the first album release by the band since Silence (2006), so it´s been an 8 years long recording break, and I was beginning to wonder if they had disbanded without telling the world.

Thankfully that´s not the case and Circus Pandemonium sees A.C.T return doing what they do best: Playing melodic progressive rock/metal with great positive energy delivered with sublime technical skill. They have a distinct sound, that sets them apart from most other contemporary acts although their influences do shine through. When listening to A.C.T I´m first and foremost reminded of 70s art rock acts like Roxy Music, 10cc, Supertramp and especially Queen, but with an added progressive metal edge that reminds me of early Dream Theater.

While the music is played with great technical skill, the tracks are for the most part verse/chorus structured. The band almost always include surprises during the tracks though and while this isn´t the kind of progressive rock/metal music created to show off, there are still some pretty complex parts being played. The music for the most part sounds light-hearted and features great positive energy (sometimes to the point where I´m thinking I´m listening to a piece from a Broadway Musical), which make Circus Pandemonium quite the party to listen to. The instrumentation consists of bass, guitars, drums and keyboards, but it´s the high pitched vocals by Herman Saming that´s predominantly in focus. The addition of harmony and choir vocals are also an important ingredient of the band´s sound (the Queen reference is especially strong in that part of the music).

The material on Circus Pandemonium are generally quite clever and well written. A.C.T are very skilled composers and they pull off their adventurous ideas with ease. The combination of occasional heavy riffing and light-hearted (almost whimsical) musical ideas work wonders. Packed in a powerful and clear sound production Circus Pandemonium comes off as a high quality release on all parameters and a 4 star (80%) rating is deserved. 80/100

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


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PestilenceSpheres
Genre: Progressive/Technical Death Metal
Release Date: May 3rd 1993
Label: Roadrunner Records
Author: UMUR

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Spheres is the 4th full-length studio album by Dutch progressive death metal act Pestilence. The album was released through Roadrunner Records in May 1993. Spheres was the last album released by Pestilence before they disbanded in 1994. Pestilence had gained quite a positive reputation in death metal circles with their two previous albums Consuming Impulse (1989) and Testimony of the Ancients (1991), but they took a left-turn with Spheres that, at the time of release, didn´t go down well with neither fans nor critics. The generally bad reception of the album was a major contributor to the demise of the band.

It´s interesting how Spheres was received back then, because today it´s often referred to as one of the seminal technical/progressive death metal albums of the 90s. It´s an example of an album that was so ahead of it´s time, that it took years before people retrospectively started to hail it´s genius and groundbreaking nature.

Stylistically the music on Spheres is a technical form of death metal featuring, intelligible growling vocals, death/thrashy riffing, atmospheric spacey synth guitars (despite what it sounds like, no keyboards were used on this album), busy and quite adventurous bass playing and jazzy guitar solos. A very original combination of musical elements, that at times almost defies categorization. It´s progressive in the true sense of the word.

Spheres is a relatively short album featuring 11 tracks and a full playing time of 33:17 minutes, but as a consequence of the complex and rather challenging combination of ideas and sounds, it´s a perfect length for the album. Out of the 11 tracks on the album, 3 are shorter atmospheric interludes, so there are actually only 8 regular length tracks on the album. It´s an album with a great flow though and there isn´t a dull second here. All tracks are worth mentioning, but the atmospheric Personal Energy, which is placed right in the middle of the album, and the title track, which features multible solos and changes in mood, are among the highlights.

Spheres features a sound production, that suits the music but fans of the band´s earlier material shouldn´t expect a powerful death metal sound. This is a bit more sophisticated and relies less on raw power and more on atmosphere and attention to detail.

upon conclusion Spheres is strong album release by Pestilence and it should appeal to fans of artists like Atheist, Cynic, Sadist and Gorguts. It´s an album that divide the waters though and more conservative minded death metal fans that enjoyed the band´s earlier material because of it´s death metal brutality and edgy riffing, might not find much to like here. A 4.5 star (90%) rating is deserved. 90/100

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


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SailleEldritch
Genre: Melodic/Symphonic Black Metal
Release Date: November 10th 2014
Label: Code666 Records
Author: adg211288

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Eldritch (2014) is the third full-length album by Belgian black metal act Saille. The band has had a couple of line-up changes since their last album Ritu (2013) with Kevin De Leener replacing Gert Monden on drums and the departure of bassist Didier Vancampo, whose role is filled on Eldritch by guitarist Reinier Schenk, which is actually the role he held on the band's debut album Irreversible Decay (2011). For Eldritch Saille have drawn inspiration from both classic and modern horror literature.

If you've heard either of the previous two Saille records already then Eldritch is probably going to come across as Saille by numbers at this point. Depending on the point of view you want to take can be seen as both a good or a bad thing. It's good on one hand because Saille have always been a pretty impressive force on the black metal scene since Irreversible Decay dropped. Notably the band, whose music mixes melodic and symphonic black metal ideas, don't make liberal use of keyboards to create their symphony but feature actual instruments on their albums as well including cello, violin and trumpet and that's something that continues on Eldritch. They have real dedication to getting their sound just right and do it authentically to boot. But at the same time it could be argued that there hasn't been any significant growth for Saille as a band over the course of their first three albums and while I do consider their debut Irreversible Decay to be a black metal masterpiece I wouldn't say that they have nowhere they could take their music following setting the bar so high.

This is not to say that Eldritch is a significantly lesser effort from the band any more than Ritu was. I'm pretty sure if this was the first time I'd heard Saille then the album would have the same magic as Irreversible Decay did for me back in 2011. They're one of my personal favourite black metal acts by this point and Eldritch reinforces that opinion, but I have to grudgingly admit that it does feel somewhat safe for them. A masterfully crafted kind of safe yes, but safe all the same. Expectations are met but not exceeded. It would be nice to hear what Saille could conjure up if they were willing to step out of their comfort zone a little more than they have done so far in their career. That almost seems an outrageous expectation given that they have always been more than a cut above the standard for melodic black metal but particularly on Ritu and Eldritch I keep hearing these little bits of other ideas creeping in ranging from a folksy melody to a more complex progressive section. There's a lot that can be done using black metal as a base and there have always been times where the music has seemed that Saille wants to (and more to the point has the ability to) explore fresh ideas but for some reason stick to the tried and tested stuff. That's not say that Eldritch is a total carbon copy, if anything this is a more atmospheric sounding record than Ritu although the band never crosses into full on atmospheric black metal territory.

Despite the lack of growth demonstrated by the band it would be rather unfair I think to not still score Eldritch in the same tier (4.5 stars) as the group's previous album Ritu, as if anything I do actually enjoy this one a little more, although in a first for Saille the album took a few listens for me to really find an appreciation for. Despite the still unexplored potential Saille still show who're the kings of melodic black metal on Eldritch. 92/100

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


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Judas PriestRocka Rolla
Genre: Hard Rock
Release Date: September 6th 1974
Label: Gull
Author: 666Sharon666

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Judas Priest are one of the most legendary heavy metal bands to have ever existed and Rocka Rolla from 1974 is their debut album. They previously released a few demos in the years since their 1969 formation. The band line-up at this point consisted of Rob Halford (vocals), Glenn Tipton (guitars), K. K. Downing (guitars), Ian Hill (bass) and John Hinch (drums). Though the drummer position in the band would remain unstable until the arrival of Dave Holland in 1979 (though he would be replaced by Scott Travis in 1989, Holland was the first drummer to sped significant time in the band) the other members of the band have remained more or less staples of the Judas Priest line-up. Rob Halford had some years away from the band between 1992 – 2003 and K. K. Downing retired in 2011 but you’ll find at least three of these four core members on every Judas Priest album ever released. Just not necessarily the same three.

Known mostly as a traditional metal act, Judas Priest nevertheless have a few albums in their discography that can be considered oddities, being different to any other album they’ve released and Rocka Rolla is one of them. The reason for that is simple; the year is 1974 and Judas Priest are still finding the sound that they would become one of the pioneers of. Rocka Rolla is more of a hard rock release, one that’s still got some roots in the blues and only hints at the heavy metal sound that would have fully developed by the time of its follow-up Sad Wings of Destiny in 1976. I think opener One for the Road is the most metal orientated song. There’s some harmonica use in a couple of places (played by Halford), notably the title track and to be honest I’d also say parts of it are quite progressive influenced, another thing that sets it apart from later work.

Rocka Rolla is a good start for the band but doing a review for it in 2014 as I am, with the album just recently being forty years old, and it feels more important for historical reasons rather than one that can be considered a Judas Priest classic. But with that said I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Rocka Rolla and I would definitely take this one over a few of their later albums such as Turbo, Point of Entry or Demolition and it's essential for any Judas Priest fan looking for a glimpse as to where they came from. 75/100

: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

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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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