Review: Terra Atlantica – Age Of Steam

Pride & Joy Music (August 14th 2020)

Reviewer: David Pearce

Terra Atlantica are Tristan Harders on vocals, Nico Hauschildt on drums, bass player Julian Prüfer and lead guitarist Frederik Akkermann. To give depth to the concept album ‘Age of Steam‘ they invited Alex Hunzinger from Aeternitas, Oleg Rudych, the lead singer of Magistarium and Gabriel Tuxen  of Seven Thorns aboard and set sail for uncharted waters. Their new album ‘Age of Steam‘ continues the story of Atlantis from their debut album ‘A City Once Divine‘, as its growing influence concerns the British Empire in the 19th Century and plans are made to eliminate this would be rival for good.

Rebirth 1815‘ is a suitably bombastic start to this concept album as overblown narration competes with a soundtrack to a pirate film of the 1950s. This is followed by ‘Across the Sea of Time‘ which pounds out of the speaker with an Iron Maiden style guitar attack and lyrics that are reminiscent of one of their more fantastical tracks. It is an absolute blast to listen to as it builds to a crescendo with a dazzling guitar solo.

Mermaids Isle‘ is more of a melodic rock ballad in the style of Europe as the album really starts to get into its stride. ‘Age of Steam‘ is pure Rick Wakeman style prog rock with the keyboards being put through their paces and anchoring one of my favourite tracks on the album. ‘The Treachery of Mortheon‘ sounds like an offshoot of Wakeman’s King Arthur album and returns to the guitar and drums of heavy rock to great effect.

Forces of the Ocean Unite‘ once again delves into Prog Rock as it uses a powerful chanted vocal style to presage the battle to come. ‘Quest into the Sky‘ revisits the melodic rock style of ‘Mermaids Isle‘ as the album draws the listener further into the story and continues to capture the imagination, at the same time the sheer musical quality of Terra Atlantica blows you away.

Believe in the Dawn‘ is a gorgeous song, very reminiscent of Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven. Paradoxically, the restraint of the vocals and the music really gives the song its power and it is my favourite track on the album. ‘Gates of the Netherrealm‘ starts off with a Viking chant before developing into a soft rock track of real quality. ‘Rage of the Atlantic War‘ powers through your defences with its heavy metal guitar and a really fine lead vocal which oozes quality. The return of the Viking chant gives it another layer that tells you that we are reaching the climax of the quest.

Until the Morning Sun Appears‘ is the final track of a marvellous album which starts with a Roy Bittan style piano that sets up a melancholy finale. The wistful vocals at the start remind me of Wind of Change by The Scorpions, but soon the song gets faster and louder and it is fitting that this track gives the chance to all the musicians and vocalists to shine.

Like all really good concept albums, ‘Age of Steam‘ draws you into its world and gives you a clear narrative but never forgets the importance of great music. Terra Atlantica are clearly steeped in the history of the concept album and they have added another classic entry to the genre.

Review: Operus – Score Of Nightmares

Pride & Joy Music (June 19th 2020)

Reviewer: David Pearce

Operus are a six piece group from Canada who come from a range of backgrounds that encompass classical music, heavy rock and stage musicals. With that range of backgrounds and influences they promised to be a very different group from the ones I usually review. Their second album ‘Score of Nightmares’ is an album that took nearly a year to make.

The first track ‘Overture of Madness’ sounds like the theme for a fantasy film with a swelling military feel to the tune that ends with chanting in a Lord of the Rings style.

Phantasia’ sounds much more like a traditional rock track with a driving guitar, urgent drumming and a tune that just builds and builds. The singing is suitably operatic and the whole effect reminds me of an upper class Iron Maiden! It is like a show tune and a bombastic Queen song rolled into one.

Lost’ starts with a string section, unusually for a heavy rock track, but this gives way to a drum solo followed by a verse that is reminiscent of ‘Be Quick or Be Dead’.

Dance with Fire’ begins with a Roy Bittan style piano solo which is joined by strings and finally a vocal that barely rises above the music. Then it moves into a section that sounds like the ‘Bismillah’ part from Bohemian Rhapsody. By this stage it is clear that Operus will throw everything at the music including the kitchen sink, which is no doubt being played somewhere in the background!

Echoes’ is a classical piano piece that reminds us of the conservatory background of some of their members. ‘Where Falcons Fly’ returns to the heavy rock arena as they move once again into Iron Maiden territory. It is never clear where any of the tunes will go next which is what keeps them interesting. The group have so many styles and so many musical skill sets that they can literally go in any direction.

Nightmares’ has a spoken word intro that is pure Jim Steinmann and a vocal that sounds like a horde of Vikings in Valhalla! ‘Book of Shadows’ starts off sounding like Mussorgsky’s Night on a Bare Mountain, before moving into a heavy metal tour de force. It then builds into a soundscape of screaming guitars and thundering percussion.

The Mirror’ is a song that would fit nicely into a Rocky Horror style musical. As with everything else on this album the usual rules of good taste go out of the window and the effect is irresistible.

The penultimate track ‘Ruin’ turns the levels of bombast up to 11 as Operus build towards the final crescendo.

Final track ‘La Llorona’ is an epic that starts in the style of Queen before heading to the West End stage as it begins to resemble Europe style hair metal as sung by the cast of Les Miserables before giving way to a frantic guitar solo. Its clash of styles continues with the flamenco style guitar from ‘Innuendo’. The final section fittingly starts with another screaming guitar solo and an operatic vocal that just builds and builds until the record ends with a soft scream!

This is a completely off the wall album that includes all the most theatrical elements of Queen and Meatloaf but combines it with a mix of classical and rock musicians at the top of their game. It is utterly bonkers but just go with it and you’ll be carried along until you finish the album with a grin on your face.

Jet Jaguar have released a new video & single for the track ‘Blinding Lights‘.

Blinding Lights‘ is the second single and video from the new Jet Jaguar album ‘Endless Nights‘ (out: July 17, 2020) via Pride & Joy Music.

Jet Jaguar was formed in 2014 and hails from Cancun, a city located in the Mayan region of Mexico. The band’s name was inspired by the Jaguar, a sacred animal for the Mayan civilization and for the areas inhabited by the Mayans. In early 2016, their ‘Zero Hour‘ EP was released. The title track and their first Spanish song ‘Rompiendo el Acero‘ have become fan favorites. 2017 was a busy year for Jet Jaguar. This year saw them tour Mexico twice (for a total of 35 dates). The group also embarked on their first European tour across Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Poland, Hungary and Romania.

Jet Jaguar received worldwide recognition by being the first Hispanic-American band to ever win the Wacken Open Air Metal Battle in Germany in August 2017. In 2018 Jet Jaguar performed in Mexico City at the biggest metal festival in Latin America, ‘Corona Hell and Heaven‘, alongside acts such as Ozzy Osbourne, Deep Purple, the Scorpions, Judas Priest and Megadeth. They also performed at ‘Tecate Mexico Metal Fest‘ and had their first gig at the Lunario del Auditorio Nacional (Mexico City).

Jet Jaguar kicked off 2019 with performing at the biggest festival in Costa Rica ‘Grito Latino Fest‘. Currently, Jet Jaguar is planning the release of their debut album ‘Endless Nights‘, which will see the light on July 17th, 2020 on German Heavy Metal label Pride & Joy Music. Future plans include touring throughout Mexico, Europe and Latin America in support of the album.

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Pride & Joy Music is happy to announce the signing of French/ Swedish Metal group Season Of Dreams.

The group’s debut album ‘My Shelter‘ will be released on August 14th, 2020.

Track list:

1. Before The War

2. In The Rublle

3. We Are Soldiers

4. The Land Of Forgotten Dreams

5. Acid Pouring Rain

6. Monsters

7. My Shelter

8. Soldier Without Command

9. Angel Forever

10. United

11. Worlds Collide

12. Mr. Blacky

13. From Creation To Chaos

14. After The War

Season Of Dreams was founded by Jean-Michel Volz, the main composer in the band A Taste Of Freedom. He wanted to create a Heavy/Power band with Power Metal influences.

Volz was looking for a singer with powerful vocals and first asked his friend Pasi Humppi (FRETERNIA) but due to a busy schedule, Humppi was not able to provide the vocals and introduced Volz to Johannes Nyberg (ZONATA, vocals & keyboards).

A good chemistry was there from the beginning, and the duo started to write songs for their debut album ‘My Shelter‘. Nyberg’s brother John joined the project on some songs after listening to the first recordings. Four months later, the album was written, recorded, mixed and mastered. Jean-Michel Volz handled the music parts at the MindMirror Studios; the cover artwork was created by Stan W. Decker (RAGE, BLUE ÖYSTER CULT, MASTERPLAN).

Vocals: Johannes Nyberg (Tracks 2-13)
Rhythm guitars: Jean-Michel Volz (Tracks 1-13)
Solo Guitars: Jean-Michel Volz (Track 9)
Solo Guitars: John-Nyberg (Tracks 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,10,11,12)
Drums: Jean-Michel Volz (Tracks 1-13)
Bass: Jean-Michel Volz (Tracks 1-13)
Keys: Johannes Nyberg (on all tracks)
Keys: Jean-Michel Volz (Tracks 2-13)

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Review: Hartmann – 15 Pearls And Gems

Pride & Joy Music (April 17th 2020)

Reviewer: David Pearce

Hartmann are a band formed 15 years ago by Oliver Hartmann, a leading light in the German rock scene. As well as Hartmann, he has been the singer for rock band Avantasia and lead singer for Echoes, a Pink Floyd tribute band.

To celebrate their  15th anniversary, Hartmann , consisting of Oliver himself on vocals and guitar, guitarist Mario Reck, bass player Armin Donderer and drummer Markus Kullmann have released ‘15 Pearls and Gems‘. The first five tracks were written for the album, the next five are cover versions and the final five are live versions of favourite songs from their career.

Can’t Stop this Train‘ opens on a Quo style double guitar riff and draws the listener in immediately. Hartmann’s quality as a rock vocalist is clear immediately, with a deep, powerful voice that sails along on a sea of guitars instead of trying to battle through them. ‘Walking on a Thin Line‘ is a song with more than a hint of the Scorpions in places and a vocal that once again shows the quality of Hartmann’s growling bass and his mastery of a lead vocalist’s job.

How does it Feel?‘ is a simply gorgeous power ballad that will no doubt be accompanied by the lights from thousands of phones at any concert. ‘You Will Make It‘ heads into heavier rock territory with a Def Leppard style driving guitar and percussion that pushes the song along throughout. ‘Glow‘, the final original track, starts with a Bon Jovi style guitar riff that sets up a hair metal chorus that any of the original groups would have been proud of.

The five covers start with ‘When the Rain Begins to Fall‘, an 80’s track that achieved classic status in Germany, that features Ina Morgan from Hartmann’s other group Avantasia. Their duet is fantastic with their voices blending perfectly together and, although it is probably unfamiliar to most non German rock fans, it is clear why this Europe style song became so popular.

Street Café‘ is a song originally performed by Icehouse, and it allows Hartmann to show off their incredibly tight playing style as all four musicians hit their straps at the same time. It is a great track to listen to, and one of my favourites on the album. Next up is ‘I Go to Extremes‘ from Billy Joel’s Storm Front album. I love Billy Joel, I love the track and I love the cover which ramps up the volume and does it justice from the first note. It’s fantastic!

Uninvited‘ is a very unexpected choice for a cover as the original was by Alanis Morissette. In the event Hartmann makes it his own. It’s a very clever choice as it doesn’t invite comparison with the original and the second line ‘I am flattered by your fascination with me’ subtly flags up the approach that this quintet of songs is taking. ‘Fire and Water‘ goes back 50 years, believe it or not, for the final cover with a song originally recorded by Free, most famous in the UK for the song All Right Now. It completes an absolutely superb set of songs that see Hartmann add something to every one they tackle.

Finally, the five live tracks, all recorded at Colossaal Aschaffenburg start with ‘The Sun’s Still Rising‘. It is an 80’s style soft rock track that benefits from great guitar work and demonstrates how good Hartmann’s voice is live. What if I is a really good live track that gives the new listener a clear idea of why they have been so popular for so long. ‘Don’t Give up your Dream‘ is a call to arms for any group especially during the tough times, which musicians all over the world would no doubt echo at the moment. It’s my favourite of the live versions, beautifully written and played with real conviction.

Brothers‘ covers similar territory, lyrically to the similarly titled Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits and has a vocal of real sincerity and power that just makes the song fly. The final track ‘Out in the Cold‘ concludes a really superb album that is, as the title promised, ‘15 Pearls and Gems‘.

I have never come across Hartmann before, but now that I have I just want to find out what I have been missing.

Review: Secret Rule – Against

Pride & Joy Music (February 21st 2020)

Reviewer: Paul Saripo

Secret Rule hailing from Italy are set to release a fifth album entitled ‘Against‘ which is a powerful mix of deep metal electronica and riff centric energy.

Spira Mirabilis‘ is the grand prelude to the album which sets the scope and feel perfectly for the narrative.

As I listened to all the tracks on the album I found that I would come back to ‘Spira Mirabilis‘ as this seems to be quite pivotal in the journey of the ‘Against‘ story.

This is no ordinary concept album, I found its hypotheses a combination of human condition and that of the celestial, challenged on an unknown passage as cyber slaves.

The musical composition is the driving energy with a solid balance of synthesisers, low hung and deliciously heavy riffs, fast bass with percussion that beats out like artillery fire with intricate rhythm of Alex Beccati on drums keeping the time. ‘Shades Of Humanity‘ packs some weight with some influences from the electronica of Rammstein along the way. ‘Rise Again‘ is fast and energetic harmony’s.

Going Nowhere‘ has good vocal range and dexterity with convincing depth pitched alongside a massive backline of riffs of Andy Menario.

Digital Revolution‘ one of my favourite tracks from the album, the composition here is a showcase for the journey and opens the door to ‘Endless Promises‘, which is a fantastic track that jumps out and thrashes out rapid heavy riffs with synergy of music moving into ‘Purgatory‘ which by now your immersed with feeling of desperation held firm with bass strings and industrial synth, powerful vocal and growling riff.  Against brings with it a pounding heart beat bass lines of Michele Raspanti and indignant riffs.

Deep Solitude‘ demonstrates perfectly the incredible vocals of Angela Di Vincenzo who has a tremendous range and depth alongside yet more catchy hooks to have you moshing up. ‘Outsiders‘ another standout track from the album, this is a masterpiece of well engineered and executed sounds. The timing here is impeccable. ‘My Last Breath‘ embodies power of the story with musical intensity burning into the last track ‘Don’t Let Me Fade‘ which concludes the album with a build of emotion delivered into your imagination driven with a musical charge.

Review: Sign X – Like A Fire

Pride & Joy Music (December 6, 2019)

Reviewer: Paul Saripo

Fantastic album, comprising well written and executed musicianship with a polished production to suit.

Some catchy riff deliveries reminding me of Foreigner.

If you like melody, riffs, epic drums and powerful vocals this album will not disappoint and should be on everybody’s list of albums to buy and certainly a band I would like to go see live should an opportunity arise.

Storm’ opens with a signature piano melody leading to the full elements of percussion and fret work of guitar and menacing baselines with a punchy energetic vocal delivery.

Nothing is left out of this album, ‘Rain’ is a true anthem of a track, opening with an acoustic ballad on to a crescendo of power with hearty vocals and pleasing harmony’s throughout.

Free your Mind’ demonstrates the bands wordsmith-ability’s  and delivers a lyrical hook that will stay with you.

Crush‘ ’had me thinking of a west end musical score, not only in the presentation but in the message and feel of the song, credit to these guys on the composition of this triumphant piece and finding a suitable place that sits well on the Album.

Sign’ this reinforces the bands range of musical ability to write original music with a feel and nod over to the likes of Deep Purple on a tin of red bull.

Koda X’ a melody that closes the album with  tranquillity and reflection.

For me, this is one of the best albums I have had the privilege to listen to and review. Its released today and should be in everyone’s album collection.  I will be looking out for more  from Sign X, as these guys are simply genius.

 

Italian female fronted band SECRET RULE will release their new album ‘Against‘ on February 21st, 2020 via Pride & Joy Music.

Tracklisting:

  1. Spira Mirabilis
  2. Shades Of Humanity
  3. Rise Again
  4. Going Nowhere
  5. Digital Revolution
  6. Endless Promises
  7. Purgatory
  8. Against
  9. Deep Solitude
  10. Outsiders
  11. My Last Breath
  12. Don’t Let Me Fade

Against‘ now is their fifth studio album. In April 2020, the Italian Heavy Metal band will support Brazilian Melodic Death Metal SEMBLANT on their European tour at the following dates:

02.04.20 • NAMUR (BE) • BELVEDERE

03.04.20 • ROTTERDAM (NL) • Baroeg

04.04.20 • PARIS (FR) • La Boule Noire

05.04.20 • WEINHEIM (DE) • Café Central

06.04.20 • LONDON (UK) • The Underworld Camden

09.04.20 • LISBOA (PT) • RCA CLUB

10.04.20 • MADRID (ES) • Nazca Music Live

11.04.20 • BARCELONA (ES) • Razzmatazz 3

12.04.20 • LYON (FR) • ROCK N EAT official

14.04.20 • PRATTELN (CH) • Konzertfabrik Z7

15.04.20 • BERLIN (DE) • Musik & Frieden

16.04.20 • KRAKOW (PL) • Klub Zaścianek

17.04.20 • BRATISLAVA (SK) • Randal Club

18.04.20 • ROMA (IT) • Traffic Live

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Review: Bonfire – Live On Holy Ground Wacken 2018

Pride & Joy Music (June 14th 2019)
Reviewer: Grant Foster

Live albums, are they as relevant today as they were 40 years ago?

If You Want Blood, Live and Dangerous, Strangers In The Night. In the days before the internet, downloads, YouTube etc, they were a wonderful documentation of a band’s live show committed to vinyl. But even those illustrious releases aren’t entirely ‘live’.

Priest’s effort is well known as ‘Unleashed In The Studio’ for a reason! Listen to Whole Lotta Rosie from IYWB. Most of it is the studio version from the Let There Be Rock album version. And the ending? I’ve never heard it finished like that on any bootlegs from that era or since! So, how do you know what you are hearing on these ‘live’ albums, is in fact, just that?

This album recorded at Wacken 2018, sounds great. Full and muscular. Almost like a studio release. Ooops, there’s the cynic in me again. The playing and singing is full on. There’s no doubting the quality of this band ‘live’. I really don’t know what else to say. If you are a Bonfire fan, you’re gonna love this. If you’re a hard rock fan, it’s worth checking out. If you haven’t heard of the band, check out their ‘Fireworks’ album.

That’s the problem with live albums in the modern day, in my humble opinion. The songs become so over produced, that they are almost indistinguishable from the albums from which they originally came. And as anyone who has ever performed a live rock show knows, that’s very rarely the case. Now where’s my copy of AC/DC’s ‘Live From The Atlantic Studios?’ Now that’s a LIVE album!

German Hard Rock band Bonfire for a couple of decades has been one of the busiest touring bands and consistently also is a regular guest at numerous big European Metal festivals. On August 4th, 2018 the Ingolstadt based group once again set a highlight performance at the world’s biggest Heavy Metal festival: Wacken Open Air.

The show in Wacken was filmed and will now be released on June 14th, 2019 as DVD, as CD, as LP and digital under the name ‘Live On Holy Ground 2018‘. The main film offers a superb ‘best of’ journey through time and includes Bonfire‘s own classic hits like ‘Ready 4 Reaction‘, ‘Sweet Obsession‘ and ‘American Nights‘. The DVD version with ‘Praying 4 A Miracle‘ (radio edit), ‘Locomotive Breath‘ (radio edit), ‘Sweet Obsession‘ (2019) and ‘American Nights‘ (2019) shows four bonus video clips which are also included on the CD, LP and digital as audio files. The first pressing of all three physical formats is coming hand signed by the band!

Tracklist:

1.In the Beginning

2.Ready 4 Reaction

3.Never Mind

4.Don’t Touch The Light

5.American Nights

6.Give It A Try

7.Sword and Stone

8.SDI

9.Sweet Obsession

10.Champion

Bonus Tracks:

11.Praying 4 A Miracle

12.Locomotive Breath

13. American Nights (2019)

14. Sweet Obsession (2019)

Filmed & recorded live at Wacken Open Air on August 4th, 2018

Mix & Mastering: Tom Müller (Flatliner Studios)

Produced by: Hans Ziller

Additional Recordings by Rolf Munkes at Empire Studios

Virtual set extensions for American Nights by Andreas Resch @world-of-visions.de

Locomotive Breath – Byron Mansylla, AVMS

Artwork design: The Digital Dictators

DVD information: FSK12, Playing time: 60:09 min, Full screen: 4:3, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital, NTSC, Full HD, Region Code: 0

Line up:

Hans Ziller – Lead, Rhythm-Guitar, Backing Vocals

Alexx Stahl – Lead Vocals

Ronnie Parkes – Bass, Backing Vocals

Frank Pané- Lead, Rhythm-Guitar, Backing Vocals

André Hilgers – Drums, Percussion

Additional Musicians: Tim Breideband, Harry Reischmann – Drums; Paul Morris, Fredrik Bergh, Alessandro DelVecchio – Keyboards; Mike Gerhold & Alessandro DelVecchio – Backing Vocals

Official Website

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