SONIC HAVEN – Vagabond

Vocalist Herbie Langhans is one of those people who keeps himself more than busy. He spent most of the 90s and 00’s as frontman with power metal band Seventh Avenue, but after that band’s split, he found work as vocalist with a succession of other acts, eventually landing the job as frontman with melodic metallers Firewind. His performances on their self-titled 2020 release more than showed him to be a good fit for the band. With Sonic Haven – his new project for 2021 – he approaches a selection of power metal tunes, a whole world of trad 80s metal and, in one case, something that sounds like an overspill from his melodic rock band Radiant, to create the kind of debut that often feels like a culmination of all of the music he’s helped create so far. In trad metal terms, the best tunes certainly wouldn’t feel too out of place on one of Saxon’s later albums, but with a much bigger sound and a strong power metal undercurrent, ‘Vagabond’ isn’t just an easy trad metal rehash – there are times it feels larger than life.

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“Hey, you guys!”: Skeletoon return with Goonies themed concept album

Pirate metal doesn’t always work.   That never stopped power metallers Skeletoon giving the novelty subgenre of metal their best efforts and their debut album ‘The Curse of The Avenger’ was surprisingly enjoyable.  It really helped that the album featured some great playing to balance out the themes within the songs.  [Full review here.]

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BENEDICTUM – Obey

benedictumBenedictum’s third album ‘Dominion’ (released in 2010) presented a huge step forward for the US power metal outfit.  Their first release for Frontiers Records afforded the band a bigger budget than their previous and Benedictum seemed to relish this new beginning.  While the lyrics left much to be desired, musically it wasn’t a complete loss, including some impressive riffs throughout, bolstered by more than a few chunky drum parts.  ‘Dominion’ wasn’t an especially great record, but  by comparison, 2013’s ‘Obey’ is a crushing disappointment.

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A HERO FOR THE WORLD – A Hero For The World

AHFTWA Hero For The World is a hugely theatrical musical project in the Tobias Sammett/Avantasia tradition spearheaded by to Scandinavian musicians, Jonas Kaasgaard and David Sivelind.  Between them – and, naturally, with a helping hand from a few friends – they’ve created an eponymously titled epic is as big in intent as it is in name.  This particular project plows deep into the power metal/battle metal niche and presents ten tunes with a maximum old-school metallic intensity.

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