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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews


Stronger Than Heaven

Review by Gary Hill

Here we have a new edition of an album from 1986. This includes four bonus live tracks. I had not heard this band before. Their version of metal at times doesn't seem all that unique, but there are moments where they really stand out from the pack of indie metal that was around at the time. This is a solid release that still holds up well.

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Track by Track Review
Rats in the Attic
The sounds of a thunder storm bring this in. Then witches incanting join, giving us "Stormwitch" for the introduction. That ends, and we're taken into some driving metal that is very reminiscent of Warlock musically. There is definitely a NWOBHM vibe at play.
More of a driving power metal concept is at play here. As strong as the opener was, this definitely elevates things. It' gets really crazed mid-track, and there is some particularly tasty guitar soloing beyond that.
Jonathan's Diary
Here we're back into less distinctive territory. This is another NWOBHM styled grind. It's energized and fairly fierce. This does work through a number of changes, make it quite a dynamic number.
Slave to Moonlight
Another driving metal tune, this has some classy sounds in place. I'd say that it somewhat seems to gel between the various sounds we've heard so far. I can definitely make out some early (pre-Dickinson) Iron Maiden vibes at play on the tune.
Stronger Than Heaven
A percussion and vocal mode starts this. The cut works out from there to more of a mainstream indie metal sound that's in keeping with the era in which this was released. This has a catchy chorus, and it really rocks. It is quite a dynamic tune, really.
Here we get a different type of stomper. I love the riffing on this thing. The cut has a smoother, more power metal angle to it.
Allies of the Dark
This is a fiercer version of metal. It's energized and driving. The instrumental section is so strong. It has an almost neo-classical vibe in some ways. This is another powerhouse tune. In fact, I'd say this is one of my favorites here.
Dorian Gray
Acoustic guitar brings this instrumental cut into being. There is a real medieval vibe  as they build on that. It's a minute-and-a-half or so before electric instruments join. They drive it out with a jam that still has plenty of that medieval vibe in place. This is the most "different" piece on the disc. It's also one of the best. It has a lot of melodic metal concepts in place. It also gets into some seriously driving stuff further down the road.
Bonustracks Live
Children of the Night (Live)

A melodic metal ballad vibe is in place on this number. The recording quality isn't great (particularly the audience sound high in the mix), but it's also not terrible. The cut drives out to more ferocious metal after a time, and this really rocks. The instrumental break takes it into some cool territory.

Buried Alive (Live)
This metal tune works well, but the recording quality leaves something to be desired. There is one point where a voice that sounds like it might be someone in the audience singing seems to overpower the whole band. The sound never seems to recover from there. That said, the instrumental section is on fire.
Long Boats on the Horizon (Live)
The sound is better here. I love this riff-driven metal stomper. It's very effective.
Beware the Demons (Live)
An intricate and intriguing epic style piece that starts on the mellower side and works outward from there, this stops before shifting to a full Maiden-like metal treatment.
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