Chad’s Heavy Music Reviews: Week of November 18, 2016

This week’s reviews include releases from Dark Sarah, Devilment, Disturbed, Freedom Call, Furia, Lamb Of God, Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons and Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow.  The ratings are on a 5 star scale.

Dark Sarah - The Puzzle
Inner Wound Recordings

Dark Sarah – The Puzzle (Inner Wound)

Genre: Symphonic Metal

The Puzzle is the second album from Finland’s Dark Sarah. The band was founded by Heidi Parvianen after her departure from Amberian Dawn a few years ago.

It’s another concept album following the character of Dark Sarah. The songs are cinematic with a lot of atmosphere, orchestration and dynamics. Those elements augment the songs rather than overpower or overshadow them, which is the case with many albums in the genre. Parvianen has a very expressive voice that can go from reserved to operatic in a heartbeat. Guests vocalists such as Delain’s Charlotte Wessels and Charon’s JP Leppaluto add even more diversity to the proceedings.

Rating: 3.5

Devilment - II: The Mephisto Waltzes
Nuclear Blast Records

Devilment – II: The Mephisto Waltzes (Nuclear Blast)

Genre: Gothic Metal

Dani Filth (Cradle Of Filth) and company return with their second Devilment album, II: The Mephisto Waltzes. While there certainly are similarities to Filth’s main band, Devilment have their own style.

The album is a bit more straightforward then their debut with the grooves front and center. Gothic and symphonic parts add depth and atmosphere. It’s a two pronged vocal attack, with Filth’s gruff growls and dark melodic singing augmented and contrasted by Lauren Francis’ more ethereal style. The album is more focused than their debut, and the songs are better.

Rating: 3.5

Disturbed - Live At Red Rocks
Reprise Records

Disturbed – Live At Red Rocks (Reprise)

Genre: Heavy Metal

After taking a hiatus for a few years, Disturbed returned with 2015’s Immortalized, which became their fifth straight number one album. They toured the world in support of the disc, and their August, 2016 show at Colorado’s iconic Red Rock amphitheater has been captured for posterity.

Live At Red Rocks contains 15 songs, including three from Immortalized (“The Vengeful One,” “The Light” and the Simon & Garfunkel cover “The Sound Of Silence”). The rest of the set spans their career, with songs such as “Ten Thousand Fists,” “Indestructible” and “Down With The Sickness.” David Draiman and company are in fine form and the crowd is enthusiastic. It has been awhile since Disturbed released a full-length live album, and this is a good collection of tracks old and new.

Rating: 4

Freedom Call - Master Of Light
SPV/Steamhammer Records

Freedom Call – Master Of Light (SPV)

Genre: Power Metal

German power metal veterans Freedom Call are back with their latest uplifting opus, Master Of Light.
Like their previous material, the songs are anthemic and melodic with polished arrangements.

Even though the lyrics can be cheesy in places, Chris Bay’s soaring voice and enthusiasm sells every word and you can’t help but sing along. From the opener “Metal Is For Everyone” to the infectious “Rock The Nation” to the acoustic ballad “Cradle Of Angels,” it’s a glorious collection of power metal goodness.

Rating: 3.5

Furia - Księżyc Milczy Luty
Pagan Records

Furia – Księżyc Milczy Luty (Pagan)

Genre: Black Metal

The Polish band Furia call their brand of black and folk metal “Nekrofolk,” an apt description. Księżyc Milczy Luty, which loosely translates to “Moon Silent Severe,” is their fifth full-length.

The songs are slow-developing, most with lengthy instrumental intros that evolve from mellow folk into intense black metal. Slower, groove-laden parts are also evident. The vocals from Nihil range from baritone croons to spoken word to growls to screams. Furia’s style is unique, and the intricate album sinks in a little deeper with each listen.

Rating: 3.5

Lamb Of God - The Duke
Epic Records

Lamb Of God – The Duke (Epic)

Genre: Groove Metal

Lamb Of God released the studio album Sturm und Drang last year, and follow it up with the five track EP The Duke. The title track was written in honor of a fan and friend of the band named Wayne Ford, who died of leukemia at the age of 33.

The song finds frontman Randy Blythe exploring his melodic side, with only a few growls. “Culling” is a more traditional Lamb Of God track, with beefy riffs and Blythe’s aggressive vocals. The rest of the EP is live tracks from Sturm und Drang. “Still Echoes” is from Rock am Ring, while “512” and “Engage The Fear Machine” were recorded at Bonnaroo. The music on the album is good, and even more importantly, it helps raise awareness about leukemia and the need for bone marrow donors.

Rating: 4

Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons - Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons
Motorhead Music

Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons – Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons (Motorhead)

Genre: Hard Rock

Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons is a family affair. The band includes legendary Motorhead guitarist Phil Campbell along with his sons Todd (guitar), Tyla (bass) and Dane (drums). The only non-Campbell in the group is vocalist Neil Starr.

The five song EP includes one track that’s very much Motorhead influenced (“No Turning Back”), but most of the record is more in the mainstream/hard rock vein. Starr’s voice is smooth and polished, giving the band an accessible sound. The band shows a lot of different sides, from anthemic rock to ’90s flavored grunge to the acoustic closer “Life In Space.”

Rating: 3

Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow - Memories In Rock: Live In Germany
Eagle Rock Entertainment

Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow – Memories In Rock: Live In Germany (Eagle Rock)

Genre: Hard Rock

After focusing on folk music for many years, Ritchie Blackmore reformed Rainbow to play three shows in June of this year. The lineup included vocalist Ronnie Romero (Lords Of Black), bassist Bob Nouveau (Blackmore’s Night), drummer David Keith (Blackmore’s Night) and keyboardist Jens Johansson (Straovarius) The two German shows are showcased on the Blu-ray/2CD collection Memories In Rock: Live In Germany.

The setlist includes Deep Purple classics such as “Highway Star” and “Smoke On The Water” along with Rainbow songs including “Man On The Silver Mountain” and “Since You’ve Been Gone.” It’s great to hear Blackmore playing those songs again after all these years. Romero had huge shoes to fill, singing songs originally done by the likes of Ronnie James Dio and Ian Gillen, but does an excellent job.

Rating: 3.5

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