January 2013

Xandria – Neverworld’s End
(Napalm Records - 2012)

Xandria are a German Symphonic/Operatic metal band, they were formed in 1997 by Marco Heubaum. Their current line up consists of: Manuella Kraller – Vocals; Marco Heubaum - Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards; Philip Restemeier - Guitar; Nils Middelhauve - Bass & Gerit Lamm - Drums.

Neverworld's End is the sixth offering from this band. Their debut album 'Kill The Sun' was released in 2003, closely followed in 2004 by their second album 'Ravenheart'. In 2005 they released their third album 'India', after that their next and fourth album took a few years to complete with 'Salomé-The Seventh Veil' being released in 2007. In 2008 they followed this up with their fifth album, a compilation album 'Now And Forever-Best Of Xandria'. Then four years later in 2012 they released their fifth and current album 'Neverworld's End'.

The first track 'A Prophecy Of Worlds To Fall' is the opening track of the album with a grandiose slice of Symphonic metal with all the characteristics you would expect from a band in this genre. A long classical intro, crunchy guitar riffs, fast paced bass line and speedy drumming with soaring operatic vocals and a long drawn out guitar solo half way through. Track 2 'Valentine' follows much in the same vein as the first track which is not surprising, although this track is very catchy but is also very drawn out. The third track 'Forevermore' is a bit slower with very harmonic and melodic vocals, complimented by the catchy guitar hooks, dark bass lines and Power metal drumming. The fourth track 'Euphoria' carries on the true Symphonic/Operatic metal style with a long intro leading to pretty much the same as the first two tracks. Very same old, same old.

Track 5 'Blood On My Hands' goes off in a very different direction with more emphasis on the vocals, rather than on the guitars, bass and drums. Its a very mellow track which shows off the undoubted talent of the band. The sixth track 'Soulcrusher' kicks off with a very typical Heavy Metal riff and this continues throughout the track, giving the track a lot less of a Power metal feel and a traditional Heavy Metal feel but this is soon spoiled by the soaring operatic vocals (very Tarja Turunen-ish). Track 7 'The Dream Is Still Alive' starts off with a very folkie type of intro, with very melodic vocals and harmonic backing vocals and is a ballad which makes a refreshing change and breaks up the album.

After the eighth track its all seems to go back to the mundane type of tracks that were earlier in the album and to be quite truthful I got quite bored with it after that track. All the songs on this album are over 5 minutes long as in true Symphonic/Metal tradition. Not having heard any of their previous albums I don't know whether this is the norm for Xandria in their musical progression. To me there are better bands out there that play this type of music (Nightwish), Xandria are just a poor substitute of them. Definitely for fans of Nightwish.

I like Nightwish but I found Xandria boring, long winded and unoriginal.


By Andy Turner

Net: http://www.xandria.de/ http://www.myspace.com/xandria
https://www.facebook.com/xandriaofficial http://www.last.fm/music/Xandria


X-Y - Flying
(Sliptrick Records - 2012)

X-Y are a French rock band with a name very similar to, er...another Feench rock band but a sound that could barely be more different.

Riviera-based fivesome X-Y fly in and fire melodic rock delights at you in droves. Difficult to accept English isn’ their main language, the lyrics and hooks are better than a great many British acts I’ve heard this annum to date. Fast, tittery retro-punk guitars add an old-school side door into their infectious brand of music, otherwise its purely current millenium fayre for the whole ride.

‘Flying’, ‘What we Like’, ‘letter To My Friends’, ‘Once Is Enough’, ‘Bl;acked Out’, ‘I MissYou’, ‘9 Lives’ and ‘Locked In Syndrome’ may not be the most original sounding produce to pass these ears but X-Y show it is still far from a crime to like great tunes such as these, regardless of what else clogs up your nightly playlist.

Tres excellents, monsieurs.


By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED F YOU LIKE: Linkin Park, Bush, Nickelback & Apes, Pigs & Spacemen.

NET: www.xyrock.net


Xander Demos - Guitarcadia
(S/R - 2012)

An unknown artist on guitar who presents us with 8 of his own numbers and 2 covers.

It's bright but at the same time the sound quality is tinny and very mushy for my liking. Well played all the same with knockouts including the opening instrumetal 'Right Angles' - think Satriani meets Malmsteen; the ferocious 'Under A Darkened Sky' or the exquisite title track 'Guitarcadia'. Then there's the nice rendition of Don Henley's 'Boys Of Summer' and the excellent 'Chase The Sun'. Just a bit baffled on the choice of Chris De Burgh's 'Lady In Red'.

Worth checking out.


By Glenn Milligan


X-CONTRACT – Darkest Dream
(Phillipa Records - 2012)

Unsure as to whether their name symbolises a past track record with recording deals, I can only say that if this had been the case, X-Contract would have been rubbing shoulders with some very shallow-minded labels.

Suspiciously familiar they may sound along the way, these super-talented young Danes, helmed by main duo Dennis Pedersen and Lars Klit keep their style and writing tight and true in all these twelve scintillating pieces of alternative rock noise. Steadily-held rhythms and haunting chords that swirl round your mind are what decent quality contemp’ metal should be about and thee boys don’t even consider daring to disappoint.

‘Building A Dream’, ‘The Pain’, ‘As The Fire Starts’, ‘Breakdown’, ‘Save Your Time’, ‘Insomnia’ and ‘Miles Away From Dreaming’ are megalithic portions of melodic grunge/metal fusion with injected passion and infallible awareness of structure and pacing. Choruses also impress at many a time whiles superb guitar variations plus guest vocal turn from Michael Fynne for ‘Attitude’ build this album up to the top brick, tasty solos from Lars setting the cement in hard. The result - thoroughly dynamic work, from yet another bright set of Nordic gems.

Do yourself and of course X-Contract a favour and treat yourself to a copy of this cruncher - we’d prefer not to see their name become a literal description any time soon.


By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Nickelback, Linkin Park & Bush.

NET: www.xcontract.dk www.Myspace.com/xcontract


XUFO - Vol. 1 The Live Files
(S/R - 2011)

There's a clue in the title - yep ex-members of UFO in the form of Lawrence Archer (Guitar/Backing Vocals); Clive Edwards (Drums) and Rocky Newton (Bass/Backing Vocals) with ex-MSG Vocalist Danny Peyronnel taking care of singing duties.

It sees them live in Europe in 2011 where the audience is enthralled with second to none renditions of MSG and UFO treasures that include the opening 'Let It Roll'; the hardly heard 'Highway Lady' and 'Natural Thing'.

Then their's faultless not to mention well known faves like 'Only You Can Rock Me'; 'Armed & Ready'; 'Love Deadly Love' and rock milestones like 'Rock Bottom' (with one hell of a solo from Lawrence) and 'Doctor, Doctor'.Everything about this band sounds amazing - the CD has got a beautiful mix as well.

Just as good if not better than UFO - hearing and seeing is believing.


By Glenn Milligan

January 2012

XPIRAI - Grave New World
(S/R - 2011)

From the country that grew Rotting Christ, another potential fast flowering crop enshrouds us almost as fast as the average triffid.

Greek fivesome Xpirai deal in healthily familiar but pleasant melodic metal, fast and smooth. Tassos, Nick and Dimitris performances on vocals, strings and keys respectively rival one anothers amidst an almightily tight team that give these five numbers a sweetly cleaned top, the solos and harmonies dissolving alongside one another for a well guided musical direction.

Accessibility is solidly ensured by their verse-chorus verse structures and less-than- pretentious variations in speed within each tune. Pleasing any Stratovarious fan within playing radius, ‘Grave New World’, ‘Regression’ and ‘Shatters In The Wind’ will make for a devastating show and I hope a full length album is what is being preluded with this little beauty currently spinning on my system.

Nice one!


By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Stratovarious, Gamma Ray & Iron Maiden.

NET: www.myspace.com/xpirai

March 2010
XIREN - Trip R
(S/R – 2009)

No relation to Dutch songstress Xoch, this Detroit act’s melodic rock sound is equally pleasant.
Chucking everything on rock’s poppier face into the pot, there is a tasty bowlful to pick at here with the leaning on AOR, alternative and funk.

The guitar mixture gives every tune its own floor to walk with sturdily arranged grooves and all round suss assaults on many numbers. Noticing that the quartet feed off widespread influential juices that include Led Zep, The Police and Porcupine Tree instead of most modern day two-hit tricks shows me as it will many how ‘Burn Your Love Down’, ‘I’m Here’, ‘Money Machine’, ‘Ship Of Fools (Big Enough)‘’Just Like Rain‘, ‘Something More’ and ‘The Mirage’’ run on total substance and welcome-ly less on the style-o-meter.

A band who deserve to be important, Xiren should be treated as already as they are in possession of one of the most healthily assembled structures Ive encountered in recent years and live totally by their own instincts to shape their craft.



By Dave Attrill

June 2009
XXX – Heaven, Hell Or Hollywood
(Perris Records – 2009)

How do you take a band from Gothenburg, Sweden with a name like that serious? – easy answer – you ain’t meant to - lol.

They come on as a band it's simply impossible not to like – kinda imagine a cheesey sleazy glam band that have elements of both 80’s and 70’s licks, riffage and passion – kinda Sex Pistols & Slade and then some … meets an updated Pretty Boy Floyd meets Robin Black.

Awesome version of Cheap Trick’s ‘I Want You To Want Me’ – very riotous and noisy with it – cool and full of energy too. Their own material totally stands up as good as this too. Especially the opener ‘Hello’ that sets the standard; the 70’s Kiss like coming complete with cowbell ‘So Fxxxing You’ with that female choral bit and tacky drum machine section; ‘We’re Gonna Rock’- not to mention party! And the balls out title track closer ‘Heaven, Hell Or Hollywood’ – big sounding vocals the way it used to be – excellent.

This band deserve to go places – Hollywood maybe?


By Glenn Milligan

Feb. 2004
X IS LOADED - Sampler from 'Raw Nerve' Album
(Music For Nations - 2004)

This new trend of mixing melodic rock with contemporary arrangements has proved a successful marketing vehicle in the last couple of years, especially since Nickelback's success.

Not restricted to the Artenzia label, MFN signings X is loaded impressed from the green light with a sound that while stays to the style, offers vague traces of AOR giants Harem Scarem and Von Groove's most recent material.

While only two of the six tracks are here in their fully durations, the minute-long excerpts of the other four maintain the already surprisingly high standard, and I should look forward to hearing that album when it arrives for more of the same. Very promising.


By Dave Attrill


XYZ - Letter to God
(Self-Released - 2003)

A band you may or may not remember from the early 90's who were of those who were part of the big hair days before the scene went t*ts up thanks to Grunge.

There's plenty of hard rock (like the title track, 'Letter to God') and a love for the 70's stompin' of Led Zeppelin (such as 'Rainy days' with it's Kashmir influence). The vocals from Terry Ilous are even Percyfied at times - they really do hold that atmospheric Robert Plant-like high, throaty wails not to mention the fully bloomed sh*t kickin' well-structured songs to add the golden coated icing to the cake (with good examples being 'What's on your mind' and 'United') making the best of old fit in with the best of 'em in this new millennium.

It's nice 'n' mixed and this album presents both electric and acoustic material banded together having that feel of artists like Skin (the band that featured Mike Gray ex-Jagged Edge) and the excellent but vanished without trace 'Kiss of the Gypsy' - oh and a tad bit of The Little Angels - check 'Inside Out (2003)' for a stab at this!!

Good to see XYZ back and are ready to tour soon.


By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

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