There's really two kinds of German metal out there. There's the traditional power metal; stuff like Primal Fear or Scorpions that just kicks your ass with rhythmic playing and powerful vocals. Then, there's the other variety that sounds like the metal version of a battle at a renaissance faire. Bands like Blind Guardian come to mind. This kind of music has an appeal, but you'd better be brilliant if you want to pull it off. For years, Sabaton has been on the cusp of that greatness. With CAROLUS REX, they fall far short of not only that standard, but their own standard of excellence as well.
INNER MONSTER OUT
When it comes to traditional metal fronted by women, there's really two bands to pay attention to and a whole litany of bands that want to do this, but are just missing something. The two bands that "get it" fully are Benedictum and Shadowside. While both are different musically and sonically, they both do one thing very much the same. Where most female fronted metal bands these days try to highlight the woman thing over the music (example: Hydrogyn, Nightwish), these two bands really just create metal and do not go out of their way to promote the womanly wiles of their lead singer. It works for both bands, in my eyes.
3 Inches Of Blood
LONG LIVE HEAVY METAL
I'll write a full review here in a second, but I can sum up this release in a single sentence. If you liked them before, get it. It's as simple as that.
LONG LIVE HEAVY METAL is another dose of traditional heavy metal with odd vocals that are one part King Diamond and one part Arch Enemy all rolled into one. While a completely different animal entirely, they are very much like Volbeat in that you will either love them or hate them based almost entirely on if you dig the vocals. LONG LIVE HEAVY METAL is everything that any fan of Mercyful Fate, Judas Priest or any band in between looks for musically, with those vocals being either the added bonus or the reason you skip them entirely. Cam Pipes is definitely a unique vocalist to say the least. His sound on throughout is EXACTLY the same as it was the day these guys first came to prominence. Songs like "4000 Torches" could have appeared on any one of their albums and no one would know that it was from a different era of the band.
A Sound Of Thunder
OUT OF THE DARKNESS
With each and every press release that comes down the pike with the term “female fronted metal band”, I find that title generally slides to the back of my “reviews” playlist. I won’t lie. What they are calling “female fronted metal” these days bores me. I hate Nightwish, and I hate the 2nd and 3rd tier bands spawned from Nightwish that much more. There’s a small handful of female fronted metal bands/acts that I truly like. Benedictum is probably the best. Doro is up there. I loved the first Otep album SEVAS TRA a lot. And yes, there’s the occasional tune from Arch Enemy that’s cool. That’s pretty much it. I’m sure there’s others that I have enjoyed from time to time, but not too many.
When it comes to power metal bands out there that a lot of people don't know but should, Mystic Prophecy jumps right to the top of the list. Their albums are consistently excellent, with their SATANIC CURSES being a tremendous effort that's still in steady rotation in my IPod almost 5 years after it was released. With every band though, when you set the bar extremely high, you have that moment where you fall back a little bit. Being fair here, I do really like RAVENLORD, but it's simply not as good as their past releases. It's solid, but probably the worst of their catalog.