[Metal/Heavy] Iron Maiden – Seventh Son of A Seventh Son (30th Anniversary)

Today marks the 30th anniversary release of “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” by Iron Maiden. This album has a special place in my heart, because this is the album that introduced me to Iron Maiden (via the song eponym to the album).
I still remember listening to this album as a friend of my brother came in and put that CD into the Hi-Fi system. It was some lovely tunes to my ears, allowing me to get over the stereotype of Eddie (as a teen) and indeed appreciate something different from the hard rock I used to listen while in middle school and discover the realm of The New Wave of British Heavy Metal, made of wonderful melodic riffs of Adrian Smith and Steve Harris and storytelling lyrics narrated by Bruce Dickinson.
It is also interesting to note that it was the introduction of keyboards into Iron Maiden and according to some excerpts in Wikipedia, Bruce attributed the decreased sales on the US Market on the presence of these keyboard elements. However, he also questioned and criticized some comments that the album was sounding as “European-style Iron Maiden”, arguing that there is no a European or American-style Iron Maiden. It is interesting because reading it today explains while there is such a rift in metal style between the US and Europe (with me having hard time to find decent band in the former, while having most of my collection coming from the latter).
It also support my opinion that US metal listeners have a fond for simple but brutal riffs (without keyboards), while European metal listeners have a certain attraction to complex instrumentations and the presence of keyboards.
The album is an 8 track album totaling about 40 minutes. We get into it very progressively with “Moonchild”, followed by “Infinite Dreams” and by “Can I play with Madness”. “Can I play with Madness” is one of the three tracks that got a release as a single and an official music video in the glory age of MTV (when MTV was about Music TV, just that).

But things start to get very serious with “The Evil Things Man Can Do”, one of my top 10 Iron Maiden songs. A song that want to make you raise your arm and yell “Up The Irons”

But the piece of resistance, the paroxysm in the album is only coming with the song “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” in which we get the most of the keyboard element and this was my first song that I ever listened from Iron Maiden.
After being introduced by the riffs of Adrian and the keyboards comes Bruce narrating about the story of the Seven Sons.
Here they stand brothers them allAll the sons divided they’d fallHere await the birth of the sonThe seventh, the heavenly, the chosen one.
Followed by the “Ooooooooooohhhhhhhh” of Bruce. Oh my, this is such a musical orgasm to listen, with all the goosebumps and the piloerections on my arms!
Here the birth from an unbroken line/ Born the healer the seventh, his time/ Unknowingly blessed and as his life unfolds/ Slowly unveiling the power he holds“.
All followed by the interlude guitar solo with Adrian and Steve that gives this depth and complexity, interrupted by Bruce monologue “Today is born the seventh one/Born of woman the seventh son/And he in turn of a seventh son/He has the power to heal/He has the gift of the second sight/He is the chosen one/So it shall be written/So it shall be done“. Listening to this beauty while you are 14 is priceless!
Things cool down with the seventh and eight tracks “The Prophecy” and “Only The Good Die Young”.
After 30 years, this is an album that still stand strong, and would definitely recommend as a primer for anyone that want to get into Iron Maiden. Up the Irons!

Advertisements

[Music/Metal] Iron Maiden Book @ Isleta Amphitheater (Albuquerque, NM – 06/27/2017)

I know, you may wonder why write down about a live concert two weeks after attending it? Well, sorry not sorry. A lots of writing have been thrown on my face: one paper in revision sent back to a journal, another paper submitted to another journal, a grant writing and some experiments. So, finally I was able to catch some breath and bring some of my feedback on the biggest concert I have even attended.Long time Iron Maiden fan (since I was a teenager in the early 90s), don’t ask me why and how it took me so long to attend one of their concert.
When I saw Iron Maiden came in Albuquerque, NM that was a big game changer. First, it was a drivable distance from where I live. I either have Albuquerque or Oklahoma City (4 hours each either West or East) or drive all the way to Dallas (5.5 hours). Second, I don’t know about other concert places, but tickets to attend the Iron Maiden concert was also more affordable than attending Metallica (that was negotiating about $100+ for a decent seat). One thing I have omitted that I got scooped on was the VIP parking. It cost you a $20 extra but honestly I think it worth the investment (I will explain later).
So here I was, quickly taking the road after work toward New Mexico. The good thing about entering the state is switching to Mountain Time, saving me one hour. The venue was at the Isleta Amphitheater, just near the airport. It is nicely located out of town to avoid the nuisance, but also well designed for a concert event. The thing I was not anticipating was the queue. A damn long queue, bumpers to bumpers.

IMG_0219

A good 2-miles at slow speed, with sellers selling you some bootleg tees along the road. Later on, Bruce announced we were about 15’000 fans up to the Hill to attend that event. Nice! But it was also a nice opportunity to enjoy the desert landscape of New Mexico. Albuquerque gives you the desert and the mountain skyline to enjoy. Neat!

 

Arrived at the parking spot, it took me another 30-40 minutes to finally reach the stage. I basically missed the whole Ghost performance but was not a big loss. I already saw them las October as the main act and second the recent turmoil with Tobias Forge and his former bandmates put me a bit into cold feet.
Of course, the ritual was at the march booth to grab an official Iron Maiden tee and find my place. I can tell, the Isleta venue is very well organized place, well designed. The only caveat? The parking! A good 20 minutes walk in, 20 minutes walk out. You don’t want to get stuck in traffic on the return thus you have to leave the event early. This is why I think investing $20 for the VIP parking worth its weight of pesos.
Iron Maiden like their stage and you can feel it by the details they put in the decoration.

The A/V was good, so even with a fairly-priced ticket you could enjoy the show. Sure the pit has its added value, but such as its price ticket. Bruce definitely knows how to pull the show. It was great! Bruce knows how to nurture the fans and likes it! I have captured some videos on my Phone (note to myself: invest in a iPhone with a bigger capacity next time!)

The only piece of criticism (that other people also mentioned) is that Iron Maiden played a good half of the show titles from the current album. Its an okay album but you know there are way much better songs in Maiden repertoire. There were some oldies played (Children of The Damned, Powerslave…..) and the classic “awesome” ones (Fear of The Dark, Iron Maiden, Number of the Beast…..) but you know feel a bit hunger. Bruce clearly stated once he is against playing classics in concert, leaving it to tribute bands. The complete setlist can be found here:

http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/iron-maiden/2017/isleta-amphitheatre-albuquerque-nm-13e4ddf9.html

I left by the beginning of the encore, in order to save being stuck in traffic but also I was exhausted from a long day. It was amazing to see how Iron Maiden transcend generations (like a Dad came with his teenage son and his 3-4 years old son. Seeing the little one brandishing his horns was cute!). I was amazed by the Latin-American fanbase that came in force, I don’t see that much Latin-American in my local gigs but I guess Mexican fans came in force and Latin folks know their metal very well.

IMG_0229

If you have a chance to attend an Iron Maiden concert in town, go on. Their metal is very accessible and it is impressive to see 40 years later the band has still the vigor and the charm live, reminding me why I loved Iron Maiden at the first place.

 

 

[Videogames/Metal] Brutal Legend – XB360 (80%)

Sometimes you never know what you can find in a Gamestop “dumpster” (you know the $5 or less /$20 or less games holding on some cardobard shelves). One was Brutal Legend. I had my eyes on when I have played once the demo downloaded from Xbox Live. I really liked it for two reasons:
Firstly,  it was a game heavily influenced by metal and there are very few that come in mind. I still remember the attempt of Motley Crue to cash on Crueball on Genesis (a pinball-based game, also used by Kiss in one of these PC budget games), Motorhead on Amiga/Atari ST (a beat-them up developed by Ocean somewhere in 1992) or Iron Maiden Ed Hunter featuring Eddie in a kind of “Operation Wolf” game.
Secondly,  for what seemed a cool storyline. The story features Eddie Riggs, a “roadie” setting up the stage for a rock band called Kabbage Boy, lets say Eddie is rightfully not fond of his performance. As Eddie sets stage, a element of the stage falls on directly aiming one of the band member. Eddie jumps to his rescue only to get crushed by the scenery element. Eddie wakes up in a complete strange world, directly taken from some of the best heavy metal album artworks. Here Eddie becomes an anti-hero fighting demons with his mighty axe and his guitar riffs.
After playing back-and-forth with the game during the last month, I finally finished it up tonight. There are the good, the very good and the very annoying part of the game.
The good thing about the game is its very high fidelity of the game towards the material it got inspired by. It is heavy metal at its finest with the contribution of kings of the genre   appearing as cameos such as Ozzy Osbourne (Black Sabbath/Ozzy Osbourne,appearing as the guardian of metal, the shop to go to upgrade your weapons and your car), Rob Halford (Judas Priest, posing as the Fire Baron), Lemmy Kilmister (Motorhead, the bass-playing Kill Master), Lita Ford (presented as Lita, one leader of the human resistance)……
The second good thing (if you ignore the annoying part) is this semi-open space allowing you to drive through the heavy metal hell, ramming through the wildlife and allowing you to complete some side quests and unlock some uniqueness (monuments, dragons…..) that will buildup your combat skills.
Then comes the very good part: the storyline and the damn good playlist. The storyline is simply awesome as you end up fighting hordes of glam/hair metal villains, with the stereotype of the hair metal bands that flourished in the 80s, followed by a dive into the depressive doom and gloom of gothic/doom metal genre (with some of the best enemies to fight, straight out of a Tim Burton mind) and finally a quick insight into industrial metal (at the very end). For most of these, you have a remarkable playlists of metal bands that perfectly match the missions: fighting off glam metal troops with Motley Crue “Dr. Feelgood”, only to escape the crumbling White Lion palace through the soundtrack of of the UK powermetal band Drangonforce “Through the Fire and The Flames”. Just playing this part of the game in which you are slaloming between dragons breaking bridges and blocking roads with that blowing in the background music worth its amount of pesos. It is not one, but over 100 songs in that playlist that you can play through driving in the metal Hell, something very similar to a GTA game. Some of the best and most versatile metal playlist I have ever heard into a video game: Dragonforce, Judas Priest, Motorhead, Scorpions, Motley Crue, Carcass, Dimmu Borgir, Accept, Megadeath…..
Just for that the game worth the purchase.
Now comes the very annoying part of the game: the simile-RTS game sequence. At some point in the game, you will be asked to play a sort of real-time strategy game (you know the type of Dune II, Command & Conquer, Warcraft…), in a very primitive form, using the metal as a source: The stage being your main base/barracks; the march store towers being the source of energy to harvest and troops from the basic headbangers grunt to the juggernaut unit capable to blast off towers. The idea is great, the put into practice? Meh…….it felt more than a pain than anything else as you have to go back and forth to get to the units. The other thing that also made me quit the game halfway is that mission in which you have to capture wild feral cats (looking as KISS-like panthers) by circling them with a circle of fire. The controls were just terrible and makes you really want to give up. As a sidenote, the presence of redudant sidequest (ambush enemies, defend your tower, race against the same foe) felt like a lot of deja-vu. You have to do them to gain skill points to upgrade your character but felt more a curfew than anything else (especially at a certain point of the game you have so much skill points accumulated but nowhere to redeem the upgrades).
In conclusion, if you love heavy metal and looking for a good game really doing a service  to the genre, grab a copy and play it. The game is far from perfect, there are much better adventure games and real RTS games to quench your thirst than this one. But in my opinion, this was the PERFECT metal game ever I have been playing so far and really wish someone decides to renew this experience.

[Metal/Powermetal] Seven Kingdoms – Decennium (90%)

Getting my hand on Seven Kingdoms latest album “Decennium” was kind of the wanderlust on betting on a band you don’t know much about and give a small helping hand with crowdfunding. The album was teasing me for the last few months (to be honest since January) and what I can tell it worth all that wait.
Seven Kingdoms is a FF Power Metal band from Florida, USA. Little I knew that once I pressed the “play” button on my iPod Classic that it would take me into a full-speed roller coaster through 14 tracks and lasting 72 minutes.
It is fast-paced, heavy riffs, fully pumped on energy making you to want to ride over a battle cat (armed with eye-lasers of course) and slash some demons and dragons with a legendary Bat’leth. But lets get back to the essential and go through the album.
It is a 72 minutes of damn good of power metal fueled by lyrics heavily inspired by heroic fantasy.
It starts with “Stargazer”, an engaging power metal melodics, transitioning into “Undying” (one of my favorite) and “In The Walls” into a perfect suite, giving little space to breath into your legendary battle. “The Tale Of Deathface Ginny” brings into  some of the best time of heavy metal from the 80s with its storytelling. “Castles in the Snow” continues into the heroic-fantasy, a good one but kind of feel a bit setback. Then comes one of the piece de resistance. “Kingslayer”, bringing the cannons of Navaronne, the Stalin’s Organ. That stuff that makes you get up from your chair, take a sword and rush to the battle.

You think you are done? Wait the call for the battle is still going one with “The Faceless Hero”. Things starts slowly to settle down with “Never-ending” bringing on some good heavy metal vibe but kind of setting the fervor on the back burner, just for this song.  “Hollow” brings you back in the heart of action and finishes with “Awakened from Nothing”, slowing on the pace but keeping on the powerful melodic ballads.

The rest of the album provides an alternative version of “In The Walls” that I found have this small extra-punch and “Undying” bringing you an extra-dose of adrenaline rush. Finally, we have  a remaster of “The Bloody Meadow” and “Stormborn”. I don’t know these titles as they maybe from previous releases but enough to make me dig in deeper into the troll cave and discover the previous albums.

As they are releasing the album, so are they also starting their US tour, if you have a chance to, check them out, they surely blow on stage.
My final word? Buy this album! This is my album of the month without hesitation. Take your cloak and run get this album.

[Metal/Heavy] Iron Maiden – Number of the Beast 35th Anniversary

Today marks the 35th anniversary of Iron Maiden’s “Number of the Beast” release. 35 years and this beast has not any inch of its stamina and elegance. A damn good album it was, certainly one of my favorite from Iron Maiden by its consistency and its engaging lyrics. It was an 40 minutes beautiful album spanned over 8 tracks.
It starts with “Invaders” telling the story of Viking invaders ready to raid, loot and set ablaze. A sort of setting the path to what we refers as “Viking Metal” nowadays. It is followed by “Children of The Damned”, playing on one of the melodics that give the Iron Maiden sound, with engaging lyrics and remarkable Bruce storytelling. The third track, “The Prisoner” is directly inspired by a 60’s British TV series called “The Prisoner” in which people are trapped in a prison island, strapped from their name and referred as Numbers, with Number 6 being the main character.
The fourth track “22 Acacia Avenue” gives on the energy of Bruce and Iron Maiden, a very pleasurable experience.
Then comes one of the masterpiece of the album “The Number of The Beast”, the fifth track of the album. Introduced by Vincent Price (a master writer in science-fiction and horror), it starts into a grandiose shredding going up crescendo until Bruce starts with his mythical “Yeaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!”. The archetypical Iron Maiden song, if you never heard about Iron Maiden before, this should be your first song to listen!

We continue in the apotheosis with the legendary “Run To The Hills” marking the sixth track. Damn if there is a top 10 Iron Maiden songs, this one should be in the top 5. You get into an exalting drumbeats and guitar melodics, with the story of Native Americans told by Bruce, witnessing the arrival of the European explorers and other conquistadors. Oh yeah, thats Iron Maiden baby!

“Gangland”, the seventh track is in my opinion one of the weakest track of the album, if not the weakest one. Its good but not much arousing to my ears. But this is not enough to eclipse the last track of the album “Hallowed by Thy Name”. This has to be in your top 5 Iron Maiden songs. If I have to pick one song from this all album this is the one I pick!
Great lyrics, great melodics, great everything!

[Metal] Metallica – Hardwired…To Self-Destruct (80%)

Metallica just released their tenth album “Hardwired…To Self-Destruct”. Depending on how you got into Metallica, it was a eight year hiatus since “Death Magnetic”….or 25 years since “Metallica” (aka the black album). If you grew up listening to Metallica, you surely have in mind  “Master of Puppets”, “Ride The Lightning” or “Kill’Em All”. You also have some rancor when the band decided to explore novel artistic directions after their black album, enough to classify Metallica as “before” or “after” such album.
I will be sincere: “Load”, “Reload”, “St.Anger” (certainly one of the most hated album) or “Death Magnetic” are simply not in my Metallica discography. The question you may ask if you have growing with the Metallica of the 90s is “why so much hate?”
For me, it is simple. Metallica sound had its own trademark that set the sound of the US metal back in the early 80s. Back in the days, UK metal bands were acting like a tsunami on every single continent with what we call the “New Wave of British Heavy Metal” (NWOBHM) with bands such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest or Ronnie James Dio. These bands were great by bringing  melodics (using two lead guitars and a bass) and the tell-tale lyrics from charismatic front singers (like Bruce Dickinson, Dio or Rob Halford. It was a clear distinctive sound, much more complex and captivating than the punk from the Sex Pistols or The Clash.
In the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, some bands were fueled by the rebellious attitude of punk but also considered the melodics are an important part. However, neither the punk nor the NWOBHM could fit their style. This is how bands like Motorhead, Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax blended into two genres: speed and thrash metal.
The distinctive feature of these bands is their fast drums pace, the aggressive guitar riffs and the incendiary lyrics. This was the staple of such bands with albums such as “Whiplash” or “Reign in Blood”. Listening to them would provide you with superpowers, fully pumped on adrenaline rush.
But Metallica was also something else, capable of remarkable guitar ballads thanks to the work of Kirk Hammett and late Cliff Burton. Listen to “One”, “Sanitarium”, “Orion” but also to complex songs such as “One”, “Master of Puppets” or “For Whom the Bell Tolls”.
By the time the band released “Metallica/the Black Album”, you could already hear the transition the band was but really was obvious with “Load”, as Lars drum sets were pitched to higher frequency and to different tempo pattern. Metallica soften up their style and by the same time infuriated their hardcore fans. This was also the time I kind of dropped from Metallica asI grew up from my teenage years. It was 1995. Grunge was dead with the suicide of Kurt Cobain and had an heavy toll on the classic heavy metal.
Now you either secluded into something more brutal (with bands such as Pantera setting up the death metal genre with “Vulgar Display of Power”) or more melancholic and slow-paced with the appearance of gothic and doom metal (with the pioneering work of Anathema, Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride). As I grew up from my teenage rebellious mind and entered college, I also transitioned from Metallica to gothic and doom.
So, after 20 years of waiting and several disappoint albums, the arrival of their last album was setting high expectations on Metallica: Will they purse on their post-black direction or will they re-discover their pre-black composition?
Luckily for me, Metallica being Metallica (they still sell 5000 copies of the black album each month!), I could grab their album as a physical copy (the 2CD version) straight from the nearest Best Buy. A bliss considering the anemic metal section in my local Best Buy.
What I can tell? It’s good, honestly. Sure it is not a natural child of a “Master of Puppets” but you are still faring way better that anything post-black. There are some very good songs and some okay songs.
Lets go through the 12-track album, note the average song is lasting 6-7 minutes. Sometimes it was a pleasure to keep listening, sometimes it was “okay now it is sounding repetitive”. A special for this review, Metallica has a video for EVERY SINGLE songs of the album on Youtube. An interesting twist considering the outrage of Lars Ulrich that costed Napster its final blow and created the P2P file sharing system.

First track: “Hardwired”. It sets the tone. We are in the thrash metal, baby! A very good primer for the rest of the album reminiscent of “Kill’Em All” and “Ride The Lightning”

The second track is “Atlas, Rise!”, that is less aggressive than “Hardwired” but reminiscent of something from “Metallica”. Nice track but I have heard better.

The third track is “Now That We’re Dead” that sounds okay but a bit hollow. Again, as “Atlas, Rise!”, sounds a soften Metallica.

As you feel a bit asleep with track 3 and 4, here comes “Moth Into Flames” that comes and raise up the bar, a damn good song with fast-paced drums and good guitars that is certainly a song you would not mind hearing in a  rock FM radio.

Then comes track number 5 “Dream No More”, thats is also okay, feeling something a bit something you would hear in any post-black album.

Track 6, last track of Disc 1: “Halo On Fire”. The metal song! My favorite of this disc, with nice guitar solos and slow-paced. Not thrash but sounds damn good.

There comes the Disc 2, that in my opinion contains the meat of the whole album and really excited much.
Here comes track 7, that starts with an air of “Mars, The Bringer of War” brining some good old metal sound (almost feel like in the tunes of Ghost) and discussing about post-traumatic stress disorder. The videoclip is awesome.

In track 8, Metallica is taking up a “black metal” paint on their clip but kind of in dissonance in the song. I would have appreciated something much heavier.

The track 9, named “Here Comes Revenge” is my most favorite track of the album by its song and by its videoclip. The video is simply insane.

Track 10, “Am I Savage” is nice, starting with Kirk Hamett solo guitar and getting crescendo.

Track 11, “Murder One”, is a special track. A whole hommage to Lemmy, in particular the video was absolutely fantastic.

Finally the album concludes on “Spit Out The Bone”, the “plat de resistance” and one favorite of the album. A fast-paced song straight from a “Kill’Em All” coupled with a damn gore video. This is the Metallica that I know: brutal!

My take? Dang it is good to listen to Metallica that not something that I have been picking from a pre-black album. 35 years later and Metallica show they can still kick some ass. Sure, we are not having another “Master of Puppets”, but for me it completely reset anything for the past 25 years.

[Metal] Happy 4th of July! My personal list of US metal bands to celebrate

Today marks the 6th anniversary that I celebrate 4th of July as a national holiday. A classical time that we take the opportunity to get blue-white-red cupcakes for the kids, turn on the charcoal on fire for grilling some patties for some good home-made burgers and spending time with family.
My exposure to the US was through the US culture, in the golden age of the 80s, when the US provided France with damn good TV series (Magnum PI, The A-Team, Diff’rent strokes, The Fall Guy, the Million Dollar Man….), a remarkable toyline (GI Joe, Transformers, Masters of Universe….) and also through music (mostly pop-music such as Michael Jackson or Madonna).
My entrance in the US metal scene was early on during my teenage years with Metallica blasting in my headphones. I got through them with “The Black Album” and later on went back into their discography. Surprisingly enough, I did not bought much into the US metal scene for different reasons. But maybe the first reason is probably the US metal style that greatly differs from the European metal style. What makes the European metal style unique is the certain complexity in the melodics and the lyrics, contrasting with the rough and brutal US metal style or the completely non-serious of the glam metal. Where in Europe you could almost sit and listen to the live performance, the US one is experienced by moshpits and wall of deaths.
Surprisingly, the symphonic/gothic metal scene in the US is fairly discrete and dwarf compared to the European counterparts. Where Nightwish could fill a Wembley Stadium, a local gig capable to handle 1000-persons is considered already impressed. I came with the conclusion that Americans like their metal like they like their cars: bold, heavy, crushing and not afraid of being aggressive. Imagine my face when I first landed in Texas and faced all these Dodge Ram 3500, Ford F-150 and Chevy Silverado pickup trucks roaming on the road and parking lots, me coming from a country in which a Renault Clio, a Peugeot 205 or any minicar was lauded for their frugality on gas and the ease to sneak into parallel parking.
However, if you sneak through broken paths, you can find that some bands surfing on Amy Lee’s seminal work with Evanescence opened the field for a small but motivated fanbase for gothic metal, symphonic metal and even melodic death metal.
Therefore my list may appear very limited and biased towards gothic/symphonic/melodic death metal and some of the US bands I have uncover during my few years in the US.
Although I highly praise the work of Metallica (San Franscisco-CA) and System of A Down (Los-Angeles), I will give priority to small bands.

Aria Flame (Detroit-MI):

Aria Flame is a gothic metal band from Detroit (Michigan) fronted by Aziza Poggi. The band has a very special sound that nicely blend with the voice of Aziza Poggi. No sugarcoating with sound engineering, the sound is raw and very mesmerizing, hard and soft in the same time. A very unique sound that make them unique and avoid to sound like a copycat of any European mastodons.
If I have an only wish, I wish I could see them live. They rarely tour and have mostly their live performance.
Their EP “A World of Silence” is available through iTunes. Sit down, listen and enjoy!

Destiny Beard (?-PA):

Destini Beard is a classical example of several of the US FFM I have encountered, that are the driving force of a band and also working alone. Destini Beard work is mostly recognized through her collaboration with Midnight Syndicate, providing a romantic gothic metal sound, straight from an Allan Edgar Poe or a H.P. Lovecraft novel. A magnificent voice supported by a monotonic piano and languishing tone, bringing this aura of mystery, dusty and haunted dreams.

Evanescence (Little Rock-AR):

Certainly the band that got me into FFM gothic and symphonic metal  bands. Before listening to Tarja, Sharon, Simone or Anneke, I listened to Amy.
Who does not know Evanescence? The band came in with a breaking ground first album “Fallen” that certainly created some ripple effects in the US Rock and Metal billboard and surely acted as a front door in the US (and probably in Europe too) to the Gothic and Symphonic Metal Wonderland to the mainstream music scene.
Got into Evanescence with their album “Fallen” that was good alternative metal/gothic rock with a fiery discussion whether Evanescence is belonging to metal or not (I consider it part of the metal genre, with really on the outer rim overlapping with the rock).
At the same I fell in love with Amy’s voice, I fell in love with my wife (for her Evanescence is the most metal band she will go into).
Not only talented with her voice, Amy is also a talented pianist. Certainly one of the best female metal artist from the US.

 

Exalt the Throne (Dallas/Fort Worth-TX):

Exalt The Throne is one of this band I have discovered purely by random during a gig. It was during a Epica concert as they played the opening act as a last-minute choice. I came, I listened and I was vindicated. The band is fronted by Courtney Johnson with a melodic death metal genre. This particular blend is very interesting because FFM with clean voices are in the Symphonic, whereas FFM playing in the death metal are usually growlers. This very nice blend of the bold and the beautiful is very refreshing and takes you by surprise.
The band just released their first album “Long Live the King” and will be reviewed later this month as a physical copy just came in last week. The album can also be purchased through iTunes.

 

FayTree (Atlanta-GA):

FayTree is a female-fronted melodic death metal band still in its infancy, with a single out and a EP in progress. Falls into the similar chords than The Agonist or Arch Enemy. I cannot really talk much about the band since it is still into its infancy but worth to keep in your bookmark. Their single “insulation from consciousness” worth to keep an eye on:

 

In This Moment (Los Angeles-CA):

In This Moment. If I have to define my relationship with the band, it would be “it’s complicated”. Fronted by the charismatic Maria Brinks, I really liked their first three albums that were very good and promising until the band started to part out with the original lineup, one album at the time and taking more a direction lining on what I call “FM Radio Metal”, something more accessible but also as tasty as a Tandoori chicken without the spices in it. This also translated into live performance made with Brinkettes posing on stage and a burlesque fashion-show.
I really hope that the band reconsider getting back to their roots. To give you an idea of how good they were, listen to “Beautiful Tragedy” from their freshman album “Beautiful Tragedy”.

 

Kamelot (Tampa-FL): 

Kamelot. Kamelot. Maybe what I call an UFO, as the first thing that comes in mind that Kamelot is a power metal band from Scandinavia. But a surprising trivia is Kamelot is a power metal band originating from Tampa (Florida). This is kind of the paradox of the US metal scene: Kamelot is highly popular abroad the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and below the Rio Grande  (they are big thing in Latin America, from Mexico down to Argentina and Chile) , yet mostly underexposed in the US territory. This is a band that has been touring for over twenty years and was iconized by the suave voice and romantic lyrics of Roy Khan. Certainly one of my best MFM US power metal band.


Mercy Isle (Detroit-MI):

Mercy Isle is gothic metal band, an off-shot formed by Cory Scheider, ex-guitarist from the former Ottoman Empire (fronted by Mary Zimmer) and keyboardist Joop de Rooji (sharing his time with Aria Flame) and fronted by Kassandra Novell. It is a fairly new band, with an EP “Storm” and an upcoming album “Undying Fire”.  Mercy Isle is an example on how crowdfunding campaign such as Indiegogo or Bandcamp can help small bands get a chance to produce and sell themselves.

Mary Zimmer (Madison-WI)

Mary Zimmer is a particular metal singer. She is very good at what she is doing but for some reasons, the bands she was fronted last for a couple of releases before breaking apart. Mary can growl and sing vocals, giving this brutality and elegance.
She has being doing a terrific job as a front singer with the Ottoman Empire/Luna Mortis (Wrathshot, Anemic World) and with The White Empress (The Ectastic and The Sorrow, Darkness Encroaching).
Most recently, Mary announced her departure from the White Empress and launched her solo career as Santa Marta, still under development as we are talking.
Mary brings the heavy, the brutality and fast tempo that are hallmarks of the US metal.
My only regret? I wish I discovered the band when I was postdoc-ing in MadCity and that I see Mary performing live.

 

Felt forgotten from that list? Well bring a link to a YT video or a Soundcloud stream and if I like it, you will make it in next year’s list.