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Artist
Zeromancer
Title
Bye-Bye Borderline
Format/Cat
CD TRI 467 CD
Label
Trisol
Style
Other Genres
Date of review
1st March 2013
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
7.5/10
This latest album from Zeromancer sees them abandoning the rather easily-digestible pop/rock leanings that have been the hallmark of their preceding releases & embracing a more aggressive & inventive but still easily accessible approach. They do, indeed, say bye-bye to the emo borderline they've straddled of late & reclaim their harder rock status with a full-blooded & powerful offering that sees them raising their game in a big way. The electronic backing that provides the backbone to a number of tracks, including the gutsy 'Weakness' &, to a lesser extent, 'LCYD', which offers some real emotional content in its combination of guitars & richly-textured synths & which also boasts a particularly good instrumental break, do bring to mind some of Project Pitchfork's latest works although, throughout, Alex Moklebust's vocals give the songs the Zeromancer treatment, combining with the interplay of guitars & synths so that the album delivers plenty to really get your teeth into. The opening 'Auf Wiedersehen, Boy' kicks proceedings off in a nicely no-nonsense mood before the album really hits its stride on the following title track with Alex's rasping but melodic vocals adding a real rock element, particularly on the superb chorus while, as the album progresses, the slower 'Manoeuvres' offers a full-on dramatic listening experience. Similarly, the towering guitars of 'Montreal' contribute towards the track's expansive & uplifting mood while, saving another highlight until the end, 'The Tortured Artist' closes proceedings in a most inspired manner as rhythms that could have come from the theme to a western movie provide the springboard for another full-sounding experience that is infectious & excellent & which sees the band playing to their strengths while expanding & broadening their musical horizons to just the right extent that it shouldn't prove too much to take for their existing fans. Who knows, it might gain them a few new ones into the bargain!


 

Artist
Samsas Traum
Title
Asen'ka-Ein Maerchen Fur Kinder Und Solche, Die Es Werden Wollen
Format/Cat
CD TRI 465 CD
Label
Trisol
Style
Symphonic Metal
Date of review
30th January 2013
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
8/10
The music of Samsas Traum has always maintained a progressive rock-like sensibility so it's fitting that Alexander Kaschte & Co's latest opus should tell a Brothers Grimm-like dark fairy tale (which you need a good level of German to appreciate!) & at 77 minutes, it's a pretty mighty offering that makes for an epic tale indeed. The cover art brings to mind the works of Maurice Sendak (of Where The Wild Things Are fame) & this sets the scene for the music within which, right from the opening seconds of 'Von Sieg Zu Sieg', evokes the story through the use of varying musical elements with strong symphonic metal stylings that are always at the heart of the music although they come more to the fore on the pacier, more straightforward tracks such as 'Igel Im Nebel' & the penultimate 'Schenk Mir Deine Flugel', both of which offer more bite-sized morsels in contrast to the lengthy numbers that make up most of the album, particularly the latter which breaks up the 15-minute epic that is 'Im Ursprung Der Schatten' & the closing 'Dein Herzschlag Flustert Meinen Namen', both of which are complex, varied & flowing numbers, covering many different moods that are evoked by mixing symphonic strings with massed melodic vocals embellished by some fine piano work & topped off with soaring metal guitars, with, in the former case, a male/female vocal duet. It's a potent musical cocktail that is used to good effect throughout & the high standards of musicianship on show allows the album to really fulfil its potential, taking the listener on a journey to an imaginary land with a varied palette of vocal styles, that range from the melodic to the, frankly, manic & an equally diverse assortment of musical moods that range from the pleasant 'Wie Ein Baer' with its lovely piano work & melodic vocals that soon builds up an uplifting head of steam through to the darkly forbidding 'Der Froschkoenig' where the mood is dark & forbidding (and if those shrieks & dirty laughs are what they sound like then the Frog King of the title is a dirty old devil, indeed!). Elsewhere, some funky rhythms add a dose of life to 'Ich, Dien Wolfsblut' although, as ever, those symphonic elements are never far away & again add the epic feel that is a staple of the album & which allow the band's progrock leanings come more to the fore during 'Heute Noch' where the wistfully lovely main theme is pretty much hijacked by a faster, almost freeform mid- section that sees the guitarists letting rip, firing off riffs & solos like cluster bombs before the track returns to its main theme for the climax. It is true that the two parts of the track don't quite seem to fit & the effect is, if not exactly jarring, likely to raise a few bemused eyebrows. However, the adventurous spirit that it shows is what this album is all about. It certainly is an epic release to be savoured &, in terms of scope, ambition, top-class musicianship & its all-round scale, it's worthy of true admiration


 

Artist
Mantus
Title
Woelfe
Format/Cat
CD TRI 462 CD
Label
Trisol
Style
Symphonic metal
Date of review
21st December 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
7
On this latest Mantus album, Martin Schindler has underlined the changes somewhat & incorporated some medieval facets to certain tracks that both emphasise &, in certain cases, sit alongside his well-established symphonic metal style. This is hinted at by the pipes that crop up at the climax of the short but dramatic instrumental opener 'Vertigo' (a track which had enough ideas to have been a fine full-length number) & is explored more fully later on during 'Durch Die Zeit' where the two styles are mixed most effectively, albeit with a lighter metal outlook that provides impetus as it builds from its harpsichord-led opening & proves to be one of the album's highlights. He does go the whole hog on 'Legenden' which is based around some effective lute sounds & again during the title track where some nice flute & harpsichord work evokes a more refined view of the past. Another important element in the album's success is the debut of vocalist Chiara Amberia, who replaces long-standing collaborator Tina & who proves to be an extremely talented vocalist, with a rich, clear voice that adds an extra dimension whenever she is heard, most notably during the powerful slices of metal that are 'Teufel' & 'Hoffnungslos Allein' while the manner in which she helps elevate the already uplifting 'Durch Die Zeit' into another stand-out track serves simply to underline her talent still further. Schindler's vocals come across as more variable in comparison, sounding somewhat over-wrought on 'In Den Krieg' although this is quickly forgotten once the track reaches its full potential with an excellent instrumental break that truly makes its mark as the piece speeds up to its dramatic conclusion where the choir sounds make for a truly epic ending. Another influence from the past comes in the lyrics of 'Baal' which were influenced by a poem from 1910 & the track itself is another powerful symphonic metal offering with a decidedly harder sound that compliments the mixed male & female vocals very well while the closing 'Trauermarsch' seems to be there just to emphasise the album's gothic credentials, taking its cue from Chopin's 'death march' (which most 'normal' folk would have us believe is the goths track of choice, of course!) it spins a mandala-like web as it progresses with some surprisingly cheerful moments, just to lighten the mood somewhat, providing another link to the past & proving how suited the Mantus style is to evoking such dramatic moods & images.


 

Artist
ROME
Title
Hell Money
Format/Cat
CD TRI 458 CD
Label
Trisol
Style
Gothic folk
Date of review
21st December 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
6
If there's one artist who can truly be called prolific, it's Jerome Reuter. This is the Luxembourg-based musician's fifth release in the past twelve months (if we count the …Herrschafts Freiheit releases as three separate albums) & it concentrates more on his folk side than the atmospheric soundscapes that are a vital staple of his work. That's not to say the latter are totally absent as 'Among The Wide Boys' & the opening 'Tangier Fix' both utilise effected & echoed voice & sound samples to form an impression of the subject matter, in this case Arabia, rather than explicitly stating it, as has long been his wont, although the guitar riffs that make their mark as the latter track progresses have a decidedly rocking feel to them & are a good deal more assertive than the somewhat fey moods that is his usual mode of expression. This carries over, to a lesser extent, to such tracks as 'Amsterdam-The Clearing' where some harder sounds give his distinctive & earnest folk-like style a tad more bite while 'Golden Boy' builds up a reasonable head of steam after initially setting a typically thoughtful tone although the nicely emotive 'Rough Magic' sounds not unlike some heavy metal band's token ballad, as does 'Tightrope Walker (Wild Mix)' which bears a slight resemblance to the beginning of Stairway To Heaven! Given that the album does sound more energetic than his usual output the relatively bright & breezy closer 'The Demon Me (Come Clean)' isn't the startling surprise it might otherwise have been although there is still room for more reflective ruminations during 'The Silver Coil' &, to a lesser extent 'Pornero', the rustic charms of which are contrasted to a degree by the mumbled vocals. Overall, though, this is among the more accessible of Reuter's output &, as such, might be a good place for newcomers to start before graduating to the heavier stuff.


 

Artist
Samsas Traum
Title
Unbeugsam-Unbrechenbar-Unsterblich
Format/Cat
2CD TRI 454 CD
Label
Trisol
Style
Symphonic Metal
Date of review
1st May 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
6/10
This double album brings you a mighty slice of the Samsas Traum live experience to your own front room. A couple of tracks from Vienna appear as bonus tracks to fill up disc two but the majority were recorded during the band's gig in Bochum in September 2011 so this is very much 'hot off the press, as it were &, if the crowd are anything to go by, it sounds like it was a top night out, too with everyone mucking in to enhance the fun. Indeed one track on the first disc is just the crowd singing away merrily while Kaschte's stage banter always goes down a treat as well & although your German has to be pretty hot to understand him his story about the letter he got is worth a chuckle & there's also a good pun on the name of the town where it was recorded which I won't spoil for you. This does a lot to make up for the loss of some (though far from all) the plushness that the studio versions have with a high standard of musicianship throughout from the backing band of drummer Michael Beck, guitarist Jochen Interthal & bassist Matthias Fischer. The one real surprise on here is the intro which is a recording of The Russian national anthem but this soon leads into 'Betet Fur Mich' which sets the scene for the rest of the album &, from here on in, it's a full-on symphonic metal cavalcade with such dramatic tracks as 'Ein Name In Kristall' with its fine synth work adding to the drama as well as the edgier 'Stromausfall In Herspital' & 'Endstation Eden', the latter two of which bring the first disc to a satisfying close, being hard to resist once they get into full flight as is the excellent 'All Die Toten Spiegel' which acts as a fine opener for the second disc & ensures the pace never slackens one iota while 'Ein Fetus Wie Du' sees the band seriously letting rip with unbridled abandon that makes for an almost punk-like offering; try head banging to this & you could well come a cropper!! All in all, this collects a lot of the band's best works in one place but the accent here is on bringing forth the full live atmosphere & it achieves this in no uncertain terms.


 

Artist
Scream Silence
Title
Scream Silence
Format/Cat
CD
Label
Out Of Line
Style
Soft Metal
Date of review
26th March 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
6/10
On the face of it, it seems Out Of Line have really widened their remit by signing this quintet as their music isn't so much the 'alternative rock' tag that's been applied to them elsewhere, more a kind of commercial soft rock. On the other hand, of course, this sort of music potentially has a much wider appeal than their usual output with an appeal that could stretch as far as middle-aged music fans who don't mind dipping their toes in rock waters once in a while & who could seriously begrudge them any extra sheckels that might bring their way? Having been around since 1998, they've also got some staying power & their expertise is producing rich-sounding tracks cannot be doubted, likewise their musicianship, which is maintained at a high level throughout. So if you like your rock unthreatening & easy on the ear you'll find a lot to love here with vocalist Hardy Fieting at times sounding as if he belongs in a boy band! It does have a slight exotic promise initially, thanks to the sitar sounds that crop up right at the beginning of the opening 'Wayfare' before it shows its true colours as an emotional albeit very polished metal offering while the mellotron-like sounds that underlay a couple of tracks add a certain atmosphere but even if 'New Flood' does feature some edgier guitar riffs, comparatively speaking, the album as a whole would fit into MTV's playlists quite nicely. This is particularly true of the MOR pop of 'Dreamers Court' which could almost be a Coldplay number with plenty of anthemic elements that should see a sea of arms being waved from side to side whenever it's played live while 'Surd' & 'Blushed' both have a similarly commercial sound that makes even the likes of Zeromancer sound like Slayer, although both are at least pretty lively with a slight underlying tension & a nicely full sound in the latter case, unlike 'Downside' which has all the right ingredients for a full-on symphonic metal experience but is so inoffensive all the power is leeched out of it & ends up being bland & forgettable in the extreme. Things do improve somewhat towards the end as some effective flute-like sounds give 'Solitude' an initially sultry feel while the sumptuous musical web ensures a nicely reflective mood that reflects the title before 'Cocoon' takes this one step further with a fine performance from Fieting that compliments the music's melancholic number, even if the acoustic guitar & flute combination does make it sound like a clean version of Stairway to Heaven with all the edges taken out!


 

Artist
ROME
Title
Die Aesthetik Der Herrschafts-freheit 1/2/3
Format/Cat
CD TRI 421/422/423 CD
Label
Trisol
Style
Ambient folk
Date of review
28th February 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
7/10
Not content to release one new album, Jerome Reuter has released these 3 albums simultaneously, like an instant trilogy. Quite why they were released in this form, rather than as one triple album, is unclear, especially when none of the albums seem to have any defining characteristic, rather, you get a triple helping of Reuter's mix of earnest folk-styled songs that & soundscapes comprised of looped old recordings (often with a martial/militaristic feel) & the odd more abstract number, hence this 3-in-1 review. It's fair to say, then, that if you've enjoyed any of his previous works then you'll enjoy any of these & if you're new to his music then any of these albums would act as a good introduction in their own right, the only real difference between these & his earlier works is that these sound a good deal more polished than has sometimes been the case although this does rob certain tracks of the intimacy that has been his hallmark in the past while the mood, for the most part is far less mournful than usual &, in the case of 'To Teach Obedience', 'Seeds Of Liberation'& the stand out track that is 'Dawn And The Darkest Hour' almost uplifting in mood. Even 'Petrograd Waltz', a title which, in many hands, would have given birth to a bombastic, heavy piece, builds from its earnest opening into a much brighter climax with a brass backing lightening the mood of the track's climax considerably while 'August Spies' & the Gallic-flavoured 'Years Of Abalone' make their mark with a richer sound that adds to the inherent haunting moods. Tracks such as 'Ballots And Bullets' do hark back towards his older works with a distinctly mournful mood that his vocals are perfectly capable of expressing although he does comes a cropper during the harder-sounding 'Sons Of Aeeth' where he sings out of his range & his limitations are exposed as a result; a pity as the harder rhythms & grittier music does see the artist trying for something just a little different &, were it not for this setback, it could well have been another stand-out piece. This does mean that his voice is definitely more suited to the more unassuming folky tracks which are a hallmark of these albums although I would hesitate to describe them as 'neofolk' due to the lack of abstract elements that contrast with the overall mood (although I'm no expert in these matters so I could be wrong!)That the whole things ends with the atmospheric sound pool that is 'A Cross Of Flowers' is another nice touch as it does feel like the closing credits to the whole project, the serene, flowing backdrop being given life by the voice samples that fade in time to be replaced by bells & percussive flourishes that could almost belong to a Christmas song, believe it or not, intimating that while mankind is sometimes his own worst enemy there can always be a brighter future; aah, I just love happy endings, don't you?


 

Artist
Mantus
Title
Suender
Format/Cat
CD TRI 447 CD
Label
Trisol
Style
Symphonic Metal
Date of review
28th February 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
7/10
If you're a band who's got designs on signing with Trisol I just want to say one thing; I hope you're prolific! Nearly all their artists seem to have been putting out a great many releases in a short period of time of late & the duo of Martin & Tina are a prime example of this as this is their third release in little over a year. Stylistically it doesn't deviate much from their brand of symphonic gothic metal interspersed with some beautiful piano-led pieces but the good news is that these nine tracks showcase some of their best work to date. The opening title track, for example, has everything you could ever expect from this duo as, after a deceptively quiet opening it launches into a powerful & intense metal workout that has real feeling & is what this duo are all about while, elsewhere 'Etikette Toetet' ups the tempo a good deal which, in combination with some blistering guitar riffs, makes for one action-packed number that is slightly reminiscent of The Sisters Of Mercy in contrast to 'Traumzauberwald'which builds from its harpsichord-led medieval-style opening into a full-blooded offering with a slower, though not ponderous pace that only adds to the sense of drama & sees the duo at their most pompous. As a rule Martin proves a competent if unexceptional vocalist but the real ace in the duo's hand is Tina's soulful voice that add an additionally emotive touch to 'Goldener Strand' while taking things onto new, even more emotive heights during 'Heut Nacht' as she harmonises with some stunningly beautiful piano work & this mood continues throughout, never being diluted, even when the (admittedly lighter) percussion & guitar comes in later (they have come a cropper in this respect at times in the past but not here) but rather adds to it as it heads towards its triumphant climax. Her achievements are put further into perspective by Martin's vocal performance on 'Das Alte Haus' which aims for a similarly emotive feel but his less expressive voice prevents this although the symphonic elements that crop up later do atone for this somewhat & it's certainly not a bad track anyway, just not as good as it could have been. The Black Heaven remix of the title track that ends the album seems to have been tacked on as an afterthought although its mix of metal & electronic elements makes for an intriguing & enjoyable listen so you can't really complain too much, can you?


 

Artist
Mantus
Title
Zeichen
Format/Cat
CD TRI 416 CD
Label
Trisol
Style
Symphonic Metal
Date of review
20th December 2011
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
6.5/10
Here's another dose of symphonic metal courtesy of Martin & Tina &, once again, it really is amazing that two people can make such a full-sounding epic album. It's probably safe to say that, if you enjoyed their previous offering Demut, or indeed most of the other symphonic metal bands, then you should get on with this new one just fine as, throughout, they pretty much stick to the tried & tested template that such bands do, mixing symphonic strings, piano & heavy metal guitars underpinned by some appropriately ponderous (but complimentary) percussion. It all sounds very pompous but enjoyable....up to a point, as it does get a bit samey by the time it finishes. That's not to say there aren't a number of highlights to be found here as 'Verbrannte Erde' scales some impressive dynamic heights while, contrastingly, 'Zwischenwelt' sets a nicely reflective mood, a mood that is taken many steps further by 'Die Stille Des Oceans' as, starting almost like a piece of chamber music with Martin's voice working well on the mood so created, it then establishes itself as a fine piece of moving, emotive metal while the duration of over 6 minutes means it has the chance to really make the most of the established mood & the riffs are consistently impressive, expanding still further on the musical possiblities. Likewise 'Staub' starts out as a genuinely beautiful piece of music, classical & a bit medieval with tuneful German lyrics, it's a lovely piece of music & while the heavy guitars that come in latterly are complimentary enough it would have been nice had this been left to its initial premise, it would have stood out much more, as would 'Traumerei' had the nicely atmospheric piano not suffered a similar fate, a fate that 'Echo' does avoid more successfully, as, while it again builds from its quiet beginnings with Tina's operatic vocals adding nicely to the sumptuous feel with the increasing percussion seemingly acting as a portent to what is to come, the choirs do soften the blow somewhat, making for a genuinely spine-tingling climax, leaving 'Der Schrei Des Schmetterlings' to up the medieval ante by means of some harpsichord-style riffs & another long track, 'Ein Anderer Mensch' to close the album in their established style.


 

Artist
Samsas Traum
Title
Anleitung Zum Totsein
Format/Cat
CD TRI 427 CD
Label
Trisol
Style
Symphonic Metal
Date of review
20th December 2011
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
7.5/10
Samsas Traum are one of those bands who are massive in Germany, regularly headlining at even the biggest festivals & playing to huge & enthusiastic crowds but who seem to have hardly any following here in the UK. That means that a hell of a lot of people are missing out as their music is among the very best of the current crop of symphonic metal bands & they easily stand out from most of them, partly through having a male vocalist in the shape of Alexander Kaschte, whose voice is versatile enough to change from the rich vocalisations of the action-packed 'Das Ist Liebe' to the manic-sounding voices that add a more offbeat mood to 'Im Zeichen Des Wurms', but even more so through their compositional complexity that, on tracks such as the closing 'Das Laecheln Eines Toten' sees them rivaling the best progrock bands, constantly bringing in new melodic facets whilst changing moods & tempi but always maintaining that all-important cohesion & constantly scaling new heights in terms of power, dynamics & good old-fashioned pomp, the latter facet even extending to the titles, several of which easily equal anything Yes could come up with!!. All of which is aided by some excellent musicianship throughout with the instrumental sections of 'Mein Versprechen' & the initially poppy-sounding 'A-wie Antarktika' benefitting from some superb guitar licks courtesy of Kaschte & Michael Beck. Add to this some medieval elements on the opening 'Was Danach Kommt: Spinnen' & the air of mystery that, thanks to the kind of strings, guitar & piano combination that are so beloved by so many similar bands, underpins 'Gott Hat Kein Gesicht' & you have an absorbing, dynamic release that is bound to have wide appeal; oh, and don't forget to check out the cover booklet art, either!


 

Artist
Schwarzer Engel
Title
Traueme Einer Nacht
Format/Cat
CD TRI 413 CD
Label
Trisol
Style
Symphonic Metal
Date of review
20th December 2011
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
6.5/10
It still tickles me that this particular Black Angel goes under the name of Dave Jason (I wonder if he deliberately doesn't call himself David to avoid any confusion with the famous British actor!!). I doubt it, actually, as it's hard to imagine Del Boy knocking out an album of symphonic metal like this. Yes, all you fans of Samsas Traum, etc will definitely want to give this, his second full-length release, a listen as, style-wise, it treads pretty similar ground with the usual quotient of epic strings, atmospheric piano & heavy guitars, epic strings & admittedly harder than usual drums which make this album a more punchy variant of the style; likewise Jason's vocals which are harsher than many such bands work, sounding not unlike Andrew Eldritch on the opening 'Ein Tiefster Nacht' & working well in combination with the more grinding guitar work on tracks such as 'Tanzende Schatten' & 'Halb Gott' as well as the surging action-packed numbers 'Lebendig Begraben' & 'Fieber Im Blut', the latter of which boasts an absolutely massive sound that is rendered all the more impressive by the quieter chorus that provide such a startling contrast. These contrasts are a hallmark of the album, the moods changing often enough to keep things interesting; that's not to say it does anything that hasn't been done before (albeit not necessarily better) although the more melancholic mood of 'In Zwei Geteilt' & the closing 'Wiegenlied (Totgeboren)' as well as 'Traum Einer Nacht', where the vocals seem especially relaxed, mean that it's not a one trick pony & fans of this style will no doubt find much to their liking here.


 

Artist
Weena Morloch
Title
Amok
Format/Cat
CD TRI 428 CD
Label
Trisol
Style
Metal/punk
Date of review
20th December 2011
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
6.5/10
If you only went by the cover of this, the third album from Alexander 'Samsas Traum' Kaschte's other project, you'd probably think that this is going to be some kind of Marilyn Manson-style industrial rock. The back cover, however, suggests something more punky & down to earth while the music gives you all this & much more as, while the opening "Die Nacht Der Stempfen Messer' kicks proceedings off in a manic punky, metal style with some electro colouring, pretty much as you'd expect, really, the album as a whole sees the band widening their compositional pallet to good effect with some mighty axe licks making for a Judas Priest-style fist-clenching rock-out during 'Wenn Ich Einmal Gross Bin' while the guitar noodling that graces the instrumental breaks of 'Einen Lenin Pro Tag' & 'Herz Und Faust' rival Thin Lizzy in their complexity & melodic prowess, perhaps not enough to convince your rock-loving dad to give it a spin (if he saw the cover he'd no doubt run a mile!!) but it's no bad thing to see the album taking some unexpected turns; likewise the Theremin-like synthwork that adds something a little different to 'Alarm'. Indeed, it's when they stick to the more traditional metal styles on 'Kaputt!" that they let themselves down, their strength undeniably being in this incorporation of more varied (albeit traditional) elements & even if the more traditional electro colouring that crops up on the pacey 'Disko-Vampir' was perhaps to be expected, given the title, the closing title track sees Kaschte really showing what he's capable of in the vocal department as his soaring voice compliments the plaintive piano & strings combination extremely well, closing the album on a most pleasing note.