Helloween is primarily known for their Keeper of the Seven Keys albums, which many define as the two most influential albums in the history of power metal. That being said, there is much dilution in their discography, especially in the years immediately following their magna opera. Recently, they’ve come out strong with The Dark Ride, Gambling With the Devil, and 7 Sinners. So in conclusion, there’s no way to predict the quality of a Helloween album nowadays.
I’d like to take a minute to brag about Riverside. I mean they’re essentially one of my favorite bands of all time (no exaggeration). There’s not a release in their catalog that I feel is less than great, and that includes LPs, EPs, and frontman Duda’s side projects (haven’t listened to many single releases or live albums by them). In my eyes, they have a 100% hit accuracy when it comes to their discography, and off the top of my head I cannot recall any other band for whom I would make the same statement (Devin… Physicist… So close…). But this is why there was such great internal anxiety when diving into this album blind. It was a leap of faith not knowing whether or not salvation awaited (FYI, it did).
On July 12, Fair to Midland released their latest album entitled Arrows and Anchors. The alternative metal force comes strong with this release, as quality is at a triumphant high. This is my first encounter with the band and, despite my nitpicking, I am quite impressed.
Bloodbound released their latest album on March 18. It was done so through AFM records and is named Unholy Cross. I have formerly stated in other reviews that bands of the heavy-power metal genre often fall into the trap of conformity; Unholy Cross is no exception. Fortunately for the band, the music is at a higher level than the average heavy-power metal record.
On May 10, heavy metallers Portrait released their sophomore album through Metal Blade Records. It is entitled Crimen Laesae Majestatis Divinae and features the new vocalist, Per Karlsson. For fans of the more classic style of heavy metal, this is a release to watch out for. I mean, look at the album art: very old-school. Despite the lack of spotlight garnered by Portrait, they are most certainly able to put out material that warrants more publicity.
Slightly over a year ago, I received debut demo material from a New Jersey band calling themselves Skyliner. Just recently, I got a hold of their latest EP entitled The Alchemist. Though I was quite pleased with the eponymous release, this one even further impressed me. Everything from the production to the music itself is a step up from what was already a quality product. If you thought Skyliner was good, be sure to check this one out!
Armod, which is the most recent album by Falconer, was released on June 3 through Metal Blade records. This is record is my first encounter with the band. I honestly was hoping for more than what was given due to the band’s reputation. Still, Armod is a good album and an enjoyable listen.
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