Queensryche / Condition Human

Condition Hüman

Condition Hüman is the fifteenth studio album by American progressive heavy metal band Queensrÿche. It was released on October 2, 2015 through Century Media. It is the second studio album recorded with vocalist Todd La Torre, after Geoff Tate was fired from the band and gave up the rights to the name after a two-year lawsuit regarding the rights to the Queensrÿche brand was amicably settled.

The album’s first single, “Arrow of Time,” became available for streaming on July 20, 2015, the day the album’s title and release date were announced. It was recorded in early 2015 at Uberbeatz Studios in Washington and produced by Chris “Zeuss” Harris.

The Analysis—-

Arrow Of Time—-Everything about this opening track including the vocal reeks of classic Queensryche. It is amazing how much Todd sounds like Geoff Tate. The song is catchy as hell…reminds me of the classic sound the band started to develop around the Rage For Order time. The vocal is extraordinary….the music this band is making is just not much in demand anymore…it is glad to see bands still trying to keep this sound alive. This is a fantastic start.

Guardian—-I like the speedier guitar on the opening of this track…the guitar is very reminiscent of stuff off of Operation: Mindcrime and Rage…with vocal effects added in the backdrop. The double track vocal gives a nice full sound…and make no doubt…this dude can scream with the best of them. This is really nice. This has such a ‘classic’ Queensryche sound to it.

Hellfire—-Delivering the requisite ‘Hair Metal’ ballad, the band stays true to the recipe that cemented so many metal bands in history. This is such classic in sound…you will think you stepped back in time and listened to a ‘lost’ Queensryche record. I’m not sure if this is purposeful or not. Scott must get a lot of Tate comparisons…you can’t deny it. Even the vocal phrasing is the same…none the less…it is nice to see the band still plugging along. Really not a ballad s it progresses.

Toxic Remedy—-A nice huge guitar intro…..a landscape of sound followed by the trademark drums. The vocal at the onset of the song is a bit weak for me and uninspired…I love the double tracking though. It makes the song so large. The music is really the star of the show on this track for me. The band sounds better than ever.

Selfish Lives—-From the onset, this is like stepping back in time and listening to a track that would fit perfectly on Mindcrime. I wonder if some of these tracks were actually leftovers….the sound is perfect and the lyrics seem to cover the same subject manner. Add the vocal style and you feel like you have discovered old gems from a time long ago.

Eye9—-Beginning with a seldom heard awesome bass line, the song is a bit convoluted at the onset…but the muddled feel clears up as it progresses. The sharp guitar blasts give me a sense of energy. The vocal and the lyrics are pure Progressive Metal…this is a great track…no wonder it was released as a single…perhaps the highlight of the release.

Bulletproof—-Intricate guitar kicks off the track….the classic ballad sounds in full effect here. The vocal literally soars on the chorus…making this a huge addictive song. the guitar delivery delivers emotion and the drums…understated but very present are key to the feel of the song. This guy can really sing!

Hourglass—-Powerful and with a huge wall of sound from the very first note, the music dies away a bit to allow for the vocal. Again, the double track voice gives a fullness to the song. The chorus is huge..a sing a long chorus that does tend to stick with you a bit. This is classic in sound…but fresh enough to keep my attention.

Just Us—-In full ballad form for this track, the vocal is right in your face as the song begins. The gentle sounds of the band allow for the voice to be the star of the show. The lyrical content…a bit juvenile is classic required ballad material on every record. I could do without this…nothing really new here.

All There Was—-Great guitar effects and drums open up this track. There is an aggression and urgency to the music that catches me attention right at the onset. The vocal is pretty predictable…for me, the drums….really in the front of the mix, and the guitars keep the track interesting. I rather like this.

The Aftermath—-An odd little snippet that could have been a great song…..

Condition Human—-Ending the release less than aggressive, I would have preferred a huge galloping track that was designed to leave me hungry for more from this new entity of a classic band. Instead I am left with a feeling of relief that it is over. The saving grace for this track is the huge chorus…the guitars seem to float over my head. For me…it full form. this is a bit of a disappointing release.

*** out of 5

 

 

 

 

 

Borknagar / Winter Thrice

Winter Thrice

Borknagar is a progressive black metal band from Bergen, Norway, founded in 1995 by Øystein Garnes Brun. The band’s style combines black metal and folk metal with progressive and melodic elements. Borknagar’s lyrics often deal with philosophypaganismnature, and the cosmos.

Winter Thrice is the tenth studio album by the Norwegian band Borknagar.

The Analysis—-

The Rhymes Of The Mountain—-Epic in sound right from the onset, the vocal that emerges is amazing. The edge of the vocal is rough, but accessible enough to allow even the casual listener to become intrigued. The drums here are amazing. The vocal play…between the pleasant clean snaps and then the surprise guttural rants keeps me really interested. This is fantastic.

Winter Thrice—-I really love moody music….I mean you can almost feel the coldness as this track begins. I love the drums as usual…the vocal here reminds me of the clean vocals from Dimmu Borgir…..so high and clear. The guitars come and go….sharp blasts and then an almost acoustic sound as the song progresses. This is epic…. the song is huge…I can’t imagine this live! As usual the song takes a turn for the dark as the Death Metal quell enters midstream…..really nice.

Cold Runs The River—-Much more aggressive right from the onset, I love this song. The vocal is brutal…seeming to be driven to madder limits by the relentless drums. The clean vocal does emerge…but the star of the show on this track is the aggressive nature of the music. The instrumentation is so thick…it just seems to swell and swell…this is literally fantastic. My favorite track on this release.

Panorama—-Returning to a more orchestral intro, the epic swells of music are magnificent. I really don’t care for the opening vocals here…it all seems mechanical and uninspired. It is the music that makes this song so incredible. The keyboards are incredible…and the drums always steal the show with this band. This song really does get better as the song progresses.

When Chaos Calls—-A gentle keyboard opens up this track before pure musical mayhem ensues. The clean vocal has a nice demented delivery to it…the drums…so fuckin fast I have whiplash. This is moody in it’s own way…but the band begins to suffer from the ‘sameness syndrome’ after a bit on this release. Thank God for the Death Metal elements that emerge here and there to keep everything a little more interesting. Sometimes this bands music just sounds like on long continuous song.

Erodent—-At this point in the release,and I don’t want to sound hyper-critical, this just sounds all the same to me. The music is very very, to much, consistent. I wish I could get an entire track with just the eerie, maniacal death rattle vocal. The clean vocal rarely has any musical differentials…everything seems to be in the same note. I would like a soaring scream here and there.

Noctilucent—-Slow and measured from the very first note, this is an even track. The music is fairly sedate and reminds me of a very peaceful, cold dark night. The sounds from the keyboards are incredible..it’s amazing what you can produce with a good machine. This is nice. The vocal finally enters….delivering much the same as we have had thus far…nothing new…this would have been a great instrumental track…in my opinion.

Terminus—-YES…..brutal and aggressive right from the first note…this is what I needed from this band. The dirty vocal [if you will] is extraordinary and driving. Much to soon everything is interrupted by a slower pace and the clean vocal…but the mayhem returns. I am very thankful for the variance in the sound of the song. You never quite know what to expect…I like this a lot.

Bonus Track:

Dominate Winds—-Really offering very little new, you can definitely say this band is very consistent in sound. This track sounds like the first…third and 8th. The variance is so minimal…it leaves me empty. I need a little differential to keep my attention. this release for me…was a disappointment.

**3/4 out of 5

 

 

 

 

Cannibal Corpse / Red Before Black

 

Red Before Black [Explicit]

Cannibal Corpse is an American death metal band from Buffalo, New York. Formed in December 1988, the band has released thirteen studio albums, two box sets, four video albums, and two live albums. The band has had little radio or television exposure throughout its career, although a cult following began to build after the release of the 1991 album Butchered at Birth and 1992 album Tomb of the Mutilated. As of 2015, they achieved worldwide sales of two million units for combined sales of all their albums, making them the top-selling death metal band of all time.

Bassist Alex Webster came up with the name Cannibal Corpse. They have had several lineup changes since their inception, with bassist Alex Webster and drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz as the only constant members. The members of Cannibal Corpse were originally inspired by thrash metal bands like Slayer and Kreator and other death metal bands such as Morbid Angel and Death. The band’s album art (most often by Vincent Locke) and lyrics, drawing heavily on horror fiction and horror films, are highly controversial. At different times, several countries, such as Germany and Russia, have banned Cannibal Corpse from performing within their borders, or have banned the sale and display of original Cannibal Corpse album covers.

The Analysis—-

Only One Will Die—-There is never any guess work involved with the emergence of a new CC release. You can expect consistency and general mayhem…this is no exception. Although the grotesque lyrics seldom differ, the band remains as tight and practiced as ever. George delivers a blistering vocal that leaves me breathless…this is both consistent and incredible. The double tracked vocals at the end of the track are incredible….the break neck guitar delivery leaves you exhausted!

Red Before Black—-The intro of this song delivers a surprising melody line that is catchy as hell and remains underneath the noise for the entire song. One of the best CC songs in years, this is catchy almost and irresistible to my ears. I never tire of this band….brutal and accessible.

Code Of The Slashers—-Deeper in tone and almost plodding at the onset, this creates a whole mood all of its own from the first note. George delivers a belly growl that is slow paced and demented in tone. The entire track has an eerie and bloody feel to it…even when the track picks up speed at the second bar, the song still keeps it’s structure. This is really a bunch of talented guys…any one who thinks playing this type of music is easy is mistaken.

Shedding My Human Skin—-Again…a slower intro opens the track. The guitars are in perfect unison with each other…giving the song that classic heavy metal swing of the guitars back and forth with each other. George belies age and times with his consistent and incredible ability to growl from the depths of hell and then toss in a demented shriek here and there. This is actually catchy…the chorus is a proper thing here and you can actually make out some words!

Remaimed—-Intense and deep in tone, the vocal comes out of the dark in a slow growl that seems to grow with intensity as the drums egg him to keep up the pace. The song has actual movements…the pace slows to a crawl…then rips itself wide apart again in a fierce gallop. Just incredible….not disappointed one iota.

Firestorm Vengeance—-A perfectly blended shitstorm of noise and electric perfection with a healthy dose of demented Corpsegrinder. This is very reminiscent of Evisceration Plague….I can almost here the track playing over it….but it stands on it’s own very well. This is fantastic.

Heads Shoveled Off—-Kicking into full gear from the very first note, this leaves you no time to catch your breath. The music is so tight and well delivered….the vocal seems to glide right over the mayhem that is going on everywhere in the track. The drums are stellar…as always with this band….this is perfect to me.

Corpus Delecti—-Dense and layered with some nice breaks at a moments notice…how can you play so fast and brake solid and then magically pick back up again…this is a well honed science the band delivers. The classic CC guitar squeals are here…and the ever present drum onslaught is masterful.

Scavenger Consuming Death—–The lead off ‘single’ to this release, the sound of the song is unique to the other things on the album…although consistent with the sound of the band, I find this a little ‘cleaner’ and filled with soaring lead guitar interludes. The vocal is a bit lighter….the melody line underneath of it all irresistible. Midway through the song, the bass line that kicks in is just phenomenal.

In The Midst Of Ruin—-Classic CC guitar squeals ride throughout this track…bringing to mind classic tracks from the past. George burps and growls his way through the song…the bass line leading the song over blackened hills and hell fire storms of hate and gross imagery. This is everything I could possible ask for!

Destroyed Without A Trace—-With an almost funky little bass line underneath of the track, the mayhem is still firmly intact throughout the song. One of the weaker tracks on this release, it is the ‘chorus’ that saves it from trash.

Hideous Ichor—-Deep and intense dark music introduces the final track on the release. Delivered with finesse and practice, the classic onslaught follows with much as you would expect. This is well constructed…the back drop bass line almost becomes a curtain of noise behind the song. This is a fantastic track….I’m ready for more.

****out of 5

 

 

Dragonforce / Reaching Into Infinity [Special Edition]

Reaching into Infinity (Special Edition)

DragonForce are a British power metal band based in LondonEngland. Formed in 1999, the group are known for their long and fast guitar solosfantasy-themed lyrics, and electronic sounds in their music to add to their retro video game-influenced sound. DragonForce have released seven studio albums, two live albums, one compilation album, one live DVD and one demo.

Reaching into Infinity was released on May 19, 2017.

The Analysis—-

Reaching Into Infinity—-The classic intro teaser for every Dragonforce release, the guitars soar..accompanied by a marching drum sound that slowly and melodically introduces….

Ashes Of The Dawn—-The intro of the song dumps you right back into familiar territory with the band. The lightening fast guitars, the soaring chords…the keyboard that provide the progressive feel. The vocal is crystal clear and so damn pleasant. This is a fantastic track. I never get tired of this band.  The chorus of the song is incredible…threatening to live in your brain forever. This is classic and fantastic.

Judgement Day—-Building from the mist, at the onset this does not sound like a Metal track at all…..but it is not long before the speed and the classic Metal Mayhem evolves. The song is so damn fast…I can’t understand how the vocalist stays on track. The melody of the song is incredible…even with the barrage of instrumentation…the melody never disappears. One of my favorite tracks from this band thus far in their career. This is EPIC!

Astral Empire—-Giving you no time to collect yourself or catch your breath…again we are off and running at a break neck speed that seems humanly impossible. The melody line here is a bit more muddled…carried by the vocalist rather than Li….but it is still epic…with the chorus that sucks you in and live with you. This recipe the band had concocted in undeniable…..no other band like this on earth.

Curse Of Darkness—-Huge epic guitar chords and soaring keyboards introduce the track…a bit slower with a progressive marching feel that becomes ingratiated again in your soul. The smart and intelligent lyrics make the track even better. This is fantastic…the vocal literally soars over top of the music at times…with a beautifully constructed melody that makes you shiver with pleasure.

Silence—-A gentle guitar introduces the track…..a bit of darkness to the feel of the song. The ballad inspired track is fantastic…there are double tracked vocals….the chorus is literally huge! The slowed down tempo is a welcome change…song placement is everything. This is delivered with genuity and a flavor that pulls me in and makes me a die-hard fan all over again. The vocal is outstanding. I love this band!

Midnight Madness—-It still amazes me, after all of these years how a band can play so incredibly fast for such an extended amount of time. This vocal is incredible…..how the hell does he keep up the pace of the music. The lyrics are so intelligent and well constructed…every single track is a huge epic story. I love the intensity and genuity of this band. Even though the music is VERY consistent…I never seem to tire of the songs coming at you so fast. This is incredible!

War!—-A darker and more intense feel to the song from the onset, the guitars are not as bright until the second bar…and then the song opens up into a full fledged sonic assault. Even the vocal is delivered in an almost thrash manner…the song reminding me of early Metallica….but the melody and the chorus remains addictive and a reminder of the band you are listening to. The voice on this track is one of the best on this release…the notes this dude hits are freakin’ amazing. I stand and remain in awe!

Land Of Shattered Dreams—-Remaining incredibly consistent and awesome, this track suffers a bit….the sameness after this long becomes like one song…but the breaks in the music and the different melodies line manage to keep me from becoming to bored. This is nice……but suffers a tiny bit.

The Edge Of The World—-Wow….11 minutes…..who is this, Iron Maiden…lol. Beginning rather gentle, you just know that this will be an epic track. Indeed..it does not disappoint. The power chords are huge…the speed comes and goes n a nice ebb and flow. The track is so epic it is rather hard to explain. This is Progressive Music at it’s best. The mood shifts. the intensity, the lyrical content are all perfect landmarks of the band. The soaring voice…the exquisite guitars, the huge drums….I could never ask for more from one band….EVER!!! The real shock for me came with the guttural Death Metal vocal at the midpoint of the song…..this track gives you everything in one sitting…This was a HUGE surprise.

Our Final Stand—-Ending the proper release much as it started, the band delivers a consistent and magical closing track that leaves a great taste in your mouth and anxiously awaiting the next output from this incredible set of musicians. Exquisite!

Bonus Tracks—-

Hatred And Revenge—-Nothing shocking or surprising here…just more exquisite Metal from an excellent band that can deliver anything with a moments notice. This is epic…the chorus is just incredible….leaving me jubilant and exhausted with spent energy. This is just brilliant!

Evil Dead—-Bringing this incredible release to full rest, the soaring guitars and blistering musical delivery are classic reminders of the diversity of the band. The Thrash style delivery of the song is just incredible….sounding even better than the original. This band seems able to do anything…this is just fucking incredible…the energy…the delivery…the chord changes…the voice……I’m in love!!!

***** out of 5

 

 

 

Steelheart / Through Worlds Of Stardust

Through Worlds of Stardust

Steelheart is a rock band based in NorwalkConnecticutUnited States, formed in 1990.

The Analysis—-

Stream Line Savings—-With very little introduction to the song, you are greeted y that powerful, unmistakable shriek that has defined this band. The song has a slight dirty blues edge to it….a bit sludgy in the background. Not a favorite of mine…the instruments sound a bit muted…but that voice…damn. Has not aged a bit.

My Dirty Girl—-Much more powerful musically, that scream opens up the song accompanied by a chug-chug guitar that again leans a bit towards a bluesy feel. The sing a long chorus is classic Hair Metal in feel. The chorus is huge and addictive…full of power chords…great drums and all the elements that defined this genre. Fantastic.

Come Inside—-Really nice introduction to the song…the ass line is huge on this track. The vocal is again ‘dirty’ and full of a wanton southern rock feel. Then the bridge enters and transforms the song into a Modern Rock classic track. The lyrics are full of double entendres….and that fantastic bass line leads the entire track. A classic stripper song…lol.

My Word—-This song carries a much more Modern Rock feel to it rather than the throwback sound the band is known for. The chorus and bridge are huge…the chorus is easy to pick up n. The power chords and the marching bass line give it that current sound that helps to keep the band relevant. This is a nice surprise.

You Got Me Twisted—-With a nice gentle introduction, this is the classic pre-requisite ballad that every band needed on a release at the beginning of the band. I wish the vocal soared a bit more…but he seems comfortable in a vocal range that is not going to continue to tax his voice in a live setting. this is nice…catchy and well constructed.

Lips Of Rain—-Another gentle ballad style track that is almost acoustic in feel…..the piano is extraordinary. The layers of feelings…between the instrumentation and the vocal make for a huge emotional song. This is a beautiful track…even though it lacks that powerful soaring vocal. As the track reaches a climax….the vocal becomes stronger.

With Love We Live Again—-Falling into a it of a rut with all of the ballad inspired tracks stacked together in a row, the song placement certainly could have been better constructed. This gentle rolling track has a atmospheric sound to it that is endearing and full of quality but it is lost in deluge of love typed inspired songs. Not a throw away…but too full of consistency.

Got Me ‘Runnin—-Nice to have a bit of a more upbeat track after three ballads in a row!  This track again has a more Modern Rock feel…until the chorus kicks in…then you are transported back to the glory days of the band. The chorus is catchy and built around audience participation. I like this a lot..one of my favorites on this release…the feel is a nice mix of classic and an updated feel that fits the current climate.

My Freedom—-Returning….ONCE AGAIN! to ballad territory, I really don’t care for this track….just wishing that huge feel was more present than just on the chorus. The chorus…does contain an epic feel to it..thanks to the soaring guitars…but this falls short for me. Although we do get a classic shriek!!!

I’m So In Love With You—-Ending the release with perhaps the weakest track on the CD, this leaves me empty and uninspired. The stripped down feel of the song does not allow the band to shine…it all seems to be about the vocal…which is emotional…but a bit flat for me.

*** out of 5

 

 

 

Arch Enemy / Will To Power

Will To Power [Explicit]

Will to Power is the tenth studio album by Swedish melodic death metal band Arch Enemy, released on September 8, 2017 via Century Media Records. This is the first album to feature guitarist Jeff Loomis who joined the band in November 2014. It is also the first Arch Enemy album to feature clean singing as lead vocals

The Analysis—-

Set Flame To The Night—-Immediate and high tuned, this lends a surprisingly melodic sound that leads us directly into….

The Race—-Full brutality is unleashed….the music just covers your head with the speed and urgency. You notice a slight down tempo sound as compared to earlier releases from the band…but the vocal is as magnetic and powerful as ever….leading you to wonder how the hell this chick can sing like this. Incredible…..

Blood In The Water—–A bit watered down from what I expected from this release…as if the band has grown tired of all the brutality. The guitars are still sharp and dynamic….the drums are fantastic….but the urgency of the band seems to be lagging to me. There is a remarkable melody underneath everything that I love though.

The World Is Yours—-The guitars at the onset of this track are just magnificent….the soaring notes are exquisite. The drums pummel the way through the song…and rising above the gut vocal is an incredible soaring guitar that surprises me. This is nothing what I expected…but perhaps a new direction for the band.

The Eagle Flies Alone—-The lead off single and video for the release, the intro almost reminds me of a throwback to 80’s hair Metal style….so far, this release has failed to impress me….where is the power and the intensity? The voice is in great form….it just seems the writing is really suffering and missing. The chorus is a magnificent affair…but you can’t live off 45 seconds of a song….

Reason To Believe—-I’m not going to lie…..this was a fucking shock to my system….I don’t like this at all!!!! If I wanted an alternative Evanescence….I would have bought this….what the hell is going on….the good points of the track can never outweigh this travesty….you are not Epica…..

Murder Scene—-Huge intro……followed by a fuckin brilliant vocal….the guitars literally singe my hair…This is much more what I signed up for. What is going on with this band,,,,everything seems so inconsistent as far as the sound and the initial concept goes. This goes back to the good old days….perhaps the best track on the release.

First Day In Hell—-An odd and ‘progressive’ intro to this track leaves me shaking my head in wonderment and disappointment. This sounds like a hundred bands you can find online these days….the vocal enters and redeems the song a lot…but the music is so different for me…I’m really not putting this as something I would listen to on a regular basis. I’m upset…..

Saturine—-Where did the brutality go? This gentle sweet intro shit is ridiculous. Even when the guitars and vocals open up…I’m not even 75% convinced that the band even cares anymore. This is lacking vision….brutality,,,purpose and meaning. I can’t stand this release! If you thought all of these progressive sounds would propel you forward…..you took many steps back….

Dreams Of Retribution—-A bit better of a track for me……but this damn pervading ‘progressive’ sound keeps trying to creep in….what the hell happened to this band?

My Shadow And I—-All of this preposterous grandiosity is for the freakin birds….I find it very hard to even try to get through this disaster of a record…..who ever is making decisions for this band needs a firm shake. This is nice….for a few seconds…..but this is not the fans band….this is lackluster and uninspired.

A Fight I Must Win——Nice at certain moments……the voice sometimes gives me hope….but the swirls of nonsense in the background is ridiculous…..and the repetitive chorus……really…not enough words……horrible.

Cry Baby Attacked By Rats—-Nice and punky…..of course no one in the band wrote it…..the only track I would pay attention to twice.

* out of 5

 

 

 

 

Cradle Of Filth / Cryptoriana-The Seductiveness Of Decay [Bonus Tracks]

Cryptoriana - The Seductiveness of Decay

Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay is the twelfth studio album by the British extreme metal band Cradle of Filth. It was released on 22 September 2017 through Nuclear Blast Records.

Dani Filth said the album “is deeply infused with Victorian gothic horror and thus the title is a reflection of that. ‘Cryptoriana’ implies the Victorians’ infatuation with the supernatural, the grave and the ghoulish. And the subtitle, ‘The Seductiveness of Decay’, further cements this attraction to death and the glittering lengthy process of self-annihilation”.

The first promotional single, “Heartbreak and Séance”, premiered alongside an accompanying music video on 11 July 2017.

The second single, “You Will Know the Lion by His Claw”, premiered together with a lyric music video on 8 August 2017.

The third single, “Achingly Beautiful” was also released in conjunction with a lyric video on 15 September. Vocalist Dani Filth stated the single “has a very old-school Cradle vibe.” and compared it to the song “A Gothic Romance” from the album Dusk and Her Embrace.

The Analysis:

Exquisite Torments Await—-The one thing you can always count on with a new Cradle release is consistency. This begins much in the vein as you would expect…orchestrated and atmospheric…interrupted by a gut wrenching scream, then the growl of Dani Filth that wanders between squeal and bark. The remarkable chorus is fantastic….with what sounds like a choir of voices and orchestration. The drumming is fantastic….and the guitars soar as well as the vocal.

Heartbreak And Seance—-The intro for this track melds from the previous track…allowing for a cohesive transition. The simple fact that Filth can still scream like this is incredible. The song moves at a blistering speed…the words come at you fast and furious with a generous amount of evil spit included. Filth sounds incredible…..but the band on this outing sounds even fresher and more driven than ever.

Achingly Beautiful—-Teasing us with a gentle instrumentation at the onset, there is only 30 seconds before all hell breaks loose and we are off and running again….trying to keep up with Dani Filth and his blistering fast lyrics. The way the vocal changes tones is amazing….from screams to growls in a split second. The addition of trademark female vocals add a depth and fullness to the song. The rhythm section of this band is ON POINT!!!! The drums are just amazing. I am falling in love with the band all over again. The toy like piano and the orchestration with the conclave of voices add a nice break in the song and make it sound literally huge.

Wester Vespertine—-Beginning slow and overblown, the band enters…sounding a little muted to me like a huge wind is blowing over them. The bass guitar is literally huge on this track…..you can feel the chug chug chug in your temples. As usual, Filth never disappoints with his vocal. The nice overdubs add another sense of harmony to the entire thing. This is fantastic! The spoken female parts of the song give it a nice demonic edge…..Happy Halloween!!!!

The Seductiveness Of Decay—-With a deeper more plodding intro, you can only guess what will occur. The song builds and builds on the bass sound…slowly adding nice guitar leads and then the bullet fast blast of the bass line. Dani again…sings so damn fast…you wonder how he can fit so many words in a single bar of music. This is aggressive and made a bit uglier by the gutter vocal…the song lightens up here and there….nice breaks in the aggression…but then enters back into the fray of mayhem. I love this track…..at the midpoint…there is a rhythm and melody that is almost addictive. At times the bass line sounds straight out of the Steve Harris playbook!!!

Vengeful Spirit —-Ha…..fool me once and all that Cradle…..this pretty interlude is all a facade…lol. Dani almost whispers in the aggressive guitar attack that emerges….and then delivers line after line of scary storybook horror stories. The band sounds so incredible to me on this release…the female vocal adds depth and body to the song…taking you to an even higher level. This is the best Cradle in quite awhile.

You Will Know The Lion By His Claw—-No gentle introductions here, this track is pretty much off and running right from the get-go. The band sounds incredible….does all this orchestrated sound come from just a keyboard…the result is huge. Filth sounds demented on this track…urging you to do unworldly things….and you just dying to comply. The bass section again….just drives the track….giving it a groove underneath everything that sucks you in. I love this….Filth can scream like a Mother Fuc&er!!!!

Death And The Maiden—-Rounding out the proper release, this track begins much with the same atmosphere as the opening track. The orchestration that introduces the song is almost bordering on beautiful. The band kicks in with the most melodic delivery of anything thus far on the record. This is remarkably intricate and almost pretty at times…the music has all of these small nuances that catch my attention. The track gives you many moods…but the vocal….delivered in a matching word for word at times sucks you right in…this is remarkable…..a really top notch release.

Bonus Tracks—-

The Night At Catafalque Manor—-Organized mayhem from the very onset, the band pummels through the intro before the addition of another blistering vocal from Filth. This song sounds…to me….literally huge! Dani, at times on this track, literally sounds possessed…aided in the backdrop by the soaring oohs of the female vocalist. This is a magical moment…well worth paying for the bonus version of this release simply for this huge, monumental masterpiece of classic sounding Cradle. When Dani adds that classic spoken word interlude…it makes me want to re-listen to everything again!

Alison Hell—-Another acoustic and gentle interlude, the bursts of power eventually over ride the beauty and transport us back to Metal Heaven. Again….I listen to this and think of Iron Maiden again. This is fantastic…the mood changes throughout the song are damn near perfect…..giving you LOTS to pay attention to. This is fantastic…..Dani finally enters and delivers a true Metal vocal….sounding as good as he did when the band first began. This is a fantastic release!

****3/4 out of 5