French Metal       V/A: Hors des sentiers battus
French Metal (release: November 5th, 2007)

In order to promote our favorite music once again, French Metal webzine produces its fifth compilation called Hors Des Sentiers Battus, a double CD with no less than 40 bands.
First of all, one important thing is that the only criterion to select the artists was the quality of the production. True, you can sometimes find interesting bands on this kind of project but with a poor quality sound which may ruin the rest of their career forever (and the sales of an uneven CD too) ! No trouble here, especially as there are many experienced bands, amongst which well known acts from our national scene, with several albums to their credit: ZUUL FX, LYZANXIA, NO RETURN, HYPNOSIS… to name but a few. But there's a handful of foreign bands "in competition" too (MNEMIC, IN-QUEST, SERGE and KINTRA).
And what about the other ones ? Well… a lot of good self-produced but well produced surprises, with previously unreleased or forthcoming album tracks. How far the age of the demo recorded in a garage and with a tape recorder is ! For you, youngest people: yeah, it did exist !
The first CD is mainly comprised of brutal Death Metal, Thrash and Industrial Metal stuff. But there's no trace of Black Metal. For that reason, MACHINA DEUS EX is like a UFO here with its atmospheric but also strong music.
On the other hand, the second CD is much more varied, with bands mixing Hardcore, Punk, Stoner, Metalcore or even Rap music, such as LEITUSS and its lively Rappel au désordre. Most of them cannot actually be classified. So much the better ! But there's absolutely no trace of Black Metal ! What's goin' on ? Do "legions of Satan" only make shitty productions ?
So, there's a huge choice on this double CD, with particular distinction to N*CEST's catchy Metalcore (besides the name), led by a female singer with a hoarse voice like SKEW SISKIN's Nina C. Alice but in a wider register.
A compilation is a good way to discover new talents, Hors Des Sentiers Battus is the ideal tool made for you... Sorry, I forgot: there's a hidden track (but easy to find) just for fun, a Metal remix of PINK's Get This Party Started. So, do it !...Laurent

Anticulture Records (release: November 5th, 2007)

And it starts with a rather cool instrumental (Waltz Of The Rebellion) but which gets agitated finally, not a waltz anyway. The second song begins like Thrash before the voice becomes really Death Metal and this until the end of the CD. But not "old school" Death Metal, judging by the very technical guitars parts you can find all along this album, even if it's bloody heavy in general, sounding kind of Hardcore sometimes and with some melodic passages too. No time to draw breath (or to fetch a hop flavor soda in the fridge) that it's already over, with only six tracks, and rather short on average. Yet, aren't Japanese ('cause they are) workaholics usually ?...Laurent

WINGER       Live
Frontiers Records (release: November 9th, 2007)

Four studio albums in eighteen years, vocalist/bassist Kip Winger and his mates are particularly thrifty. So what ? Better one great album every four or five years than two dispensable releases a year. Anyway, WINGER (the band) began their career in the midst of the American Hair Metal times with the likes of WARRANT, POISON, CINDERELLA, which means they played some kind of classical mid-eighties American Hard Rock. But self-titled Winger (1988) and In The Heart Of The Young (1990) both contained some hints of more original stuff to come with tracks like Rainbow In The Rose and the anthem Headed For A Heartbreak. The band chose to work out this aspect of their personality and the whole thing resulted in Pull (1993), which was their most original production at that time.
And then... WINGER got lost in the nineties, while musicians got involved in other projects: Kip Winger made a career with ALICE COOPER, guitarist Reb Beach joined DOKKEN and WHITESNAKE, and drummer Rod Morgenstein hit the skins with the DIXIE DREGS.
2006... thirteen years after Pull, the three original members reunited and recorded the most unexpected IV with guitarist John Roth. Another great release, which brought WINGER back to business at the very same point they had left the road in 1993.
It seems that the guys were quite happy with this rebirth, as they decided to take to the road again and are finally presenting us with this live album (which is also available on DVD). This 18 tracks double CD will delight both old and new fans, as we get a selection of 16 songs equally picked up in their four studio albums. Loosen Up, Easy Come Easy Go, Seventeen, Madalaine, You Are The Saint... will bring you back to the Hair Metal Age, while more sophisticated Blind Revolution Mad, Rainbow In The Rose, Generica, Junkyard Dog and, of course, Headed For A Heartbreak meet the stage without any problem.
One little regret, still, as the interpretation is quite excellent but lacks inventiveness, apart from the nice drums variations on the final riffs of Headed For A Heartbreak, which is much more convincing than the drum solo itself.
Oh, didn't I tell you ? Two tracks are devoted to the guitar and drums solos, just like in the good old times. Was it really necessary to keep this on the CD ? Make your own opinion !David

AXXIS       Doom Of Destiny
AFM Records (release: November 16th, 2007)

Watch out: they're back with their new album Doom Of Destiny, eleven tracks of pleasure. A pure joy, just listening to guest vocalist Lakonia, who floods our eardrums with her wonderful voice on a few songs. But lead singer Bernhard Weiß still has bad temper.
A new axeman has joined the band: Marco Wriedt, 22 years old and a great skilfulness with his instrument, replacing Guido Wehmeyer. But just after you've put the record in your player, please rush to the track Father, FatherJean-Luc

BLOODLIGHTS       Bloodlights
Mate In Germany (release: November 16th, 2007)

Coming out from nowhere, Norway, with hardly a few information (got to work this out at the promo office, guys !), BLOODLIGHTS is the new creature of ex-GLUECIFER’s Captain Poon after his band broke up in 2005. With a bunch of guys from nowhere too (err… three guys only: this ain’t medieval Metal with bagpipes and stuff !), Captain Poon is coming out with this first album which could be described as "Post-Punk Melodic Hard ’n Roll" (how d’you like this one ?). Oh, did I mention that this is really great too ?
Packed with rough, energetic and straightforward Rock ’n Roll with loud guitars and catchy choruses, this 12 songs album should delight fans of THE WILDHEARTS, FOO FIGHTERS and stuff. Hey, watch out, BLOODLIGHTS can’t be reduced to "another copy of X or Y" as the guys have their own personality. In my opinion, the closest reference to BLOODLIGHT’s musical world would be American band RUTH RUTH (I enjoyed their Laughing Gallery very much a long time ago: 1995), as Captain Poon’s singing sometimes reminds of Chris Kennedy’s. But now the sound is rather different, so…
Now come on, stop arguing ! Just go buy Bloodlights… if you can find it: it seems to be small label Mate In Germany’s third release only, and I’d never heard of this label before. These guys have a pretty good taste anyway and I can’t wait to see what’s coming next.David

CRYSTAL BALL       Secrets
AFM Records (release: November 16th, 2007)

A Swiss group which started as a cover-band named CHERRY PIE. Later, they composed their own songs and changed their name. Now, here they are with their sixth album yet, still in their own classic Hard Rock style. Listen to the track Secrets which gave the album a title.Jean-Luc

TARJA       My Winter Storm
Spinefarm Records (release: November 19th, 2007)

The first real solo album of Miss Turunen at last, of whom I've been a great fan for a long time. A lot of stuff here with 18 and even 21 tracks on the special edition of My Winter Storm, but you can already put four interludes aside. Phew !
Is it an answer to Bye Bye Beautiful from her former mates but also childhood friends ? I Walk Alone is the first song, which sets up the general atmosphere and it's a real beauty. One feels here the girl hurt by this sad sacking, especially if you take in consideration the album title and the fact that Tarja said she would leave them after this year's NIGHTWISH release. But it was just to make a good impression and nobody's fooled.
But let's get back to the subject with Lost Northern Star, heavier, with huge guitars, before quieter and symphonic The Reign (now I know who the queen is) on which she shows all her grace and talent. The others candidates might as well give up and go home ! Another passing reference with the interlude The Escape Of The Doll ? Maybe. But at this stage, everybody must admit that it's not a second-rate album, with all along majestic strings arrangements and also choir on Die Alive or Sing For Me (and they do it !). Anyway, our lovely Finn hasn't surrounded herself with clumsy musos for the occasion: Doug Wimbish (bass, LIVING COLOUR), Alex Scholpp (guitar, FARMER BOYS), Earl Harvin (drums, PET SHOP BOYS) and Torsten Stenzel (keyboards, MOBY). Then amazingly arrives a cover of Vincent Furnier's Poison (if you don't know who that guy is, please take your Metal bible out !) but quite pleasant however, followed by a couple of still tremendous songs (Our Great Divide, Damned And Divine). For those who would have fallen asleep (you rude boys !), a male scream wakes you up just before lively Ciaran's Well (you'd better dive into it straight to hell !) with the guitars coming back.
And the journey ends with still touching Minor Heaven and Calling Grace, except if you've got the special edition, in that case you can listen to three bonus tracks: Damned Vampires & Gothic Divine and two others versions of I Walk Alone. Great ! Well... the first one is a little longer version of Damned And Divine and on the other hand, I couldn't find the difference between the original and the new I Walk Alone. I had to analyze in detail both 317 times to discover the terrible truth: the "new" version is actually the same, but with the addition of the intro Ita, Missa Est. I hope it's clear for you but... what bonuses ! As a reward, take your bagpipes out for the final remix, with the help of IN EXTREMO's guys.
Sorry but I said about NIGHTWISH's last record that it's always the same with a thirteen tracks album, it's two or three too many... and... ahem... true, I've just listened to 21 fantastic songs here (even if some of them might sound similar) without realizing anything ! I think I've been bewitched by her captivating warm voice once again ! Call the exorcist on duty !!!
OK, let's be serious again. So, My Winter Storm is neither a pale imitation of NIGHTWISH (even if some tracks could easily appear on Dark Passion Play) nor a complete opera album. This little lack of coherence, by alternating both styles, might be its only fault.
What then ? Everybody knows she greatly has the capabilities to sing classical works in major opera houses (and she's trained to) but will she take the plunge one day ? Anyway, it would be funny to see long haired guys wearing jeans and leather jackets in the audience at La Scala in Milan or listen to Wishmaster as an encore just after Hamlet ! Otherwise, she may wait a couple of years, until Anette gets fired, to come back home. It's the latest fashion nowadays !
One could blame her for having caught a swelled head during the previous part of her career but for the present, among female singers on Metal planet, Tarja is definitely (and by far) the best...Laurent