With this column we intend to give young, fresh, unsigned bands the opportunity to let their voices be heard. We will review demos or independent releases of unsigned bands looking for promotion.
Note to our readers: keep watching our giveaways as some of the albums reviewed here might show up there.

If you wish to submit us material to be featured here, contact Urban, who is the head of our A&R Department. His e-mail address is Urban "Wally" Wallström,


EPICRENEL: "The Crystal Throne"

Indie 2010
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
07 June 2010

Epicrenel is a new band featuring former and current members of bands such as Adagio, Adamantra and Olympos Mons. Melodic Power Metal is the name of the game, and as you might quess, the level of musicianship is high. The five songs on the CD all boast colourful arrangements and outstanding performances. I especially like the keyboard work of Risto Kupiainen and the vocals of Christian Palin, formely of Random Eyes and Adagio, not to mention a finalist in Finland's X-Factor.

The songs itself are solid power metal with influences from Helloween, Sonata Arctica and the likes, with a dose of progressive metal throw in. I quite like them all, yet maybe a slightly more straight-forward approach and stronger choruses would have elevated them to the premier league. While they're good, in an over-populated genre like power metal they'll have to be exceptionally good to make their mark. Considering that this is their first release, I have a feeling that it doesn't take long for them to reach that level. I hear a lot of potential.


COVENTHRALL: "Promo 2010"

Indie 2008
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
07 June 2010

A metal opera with a science fiction theme... I approached this CD with caution, half-expecting it to be something long-winded and pretentious, with insanely long instrumental parts. Shame on me for being prejudical, this space opera might be actually very good! I say "might be" because I only got a 4-track sampler, and I have no idea what the other songs are like. These four tracks make me anxious to hear more though.

The band behind this opera is called Coventhrall. Vocalist Sami Ilvonen is known for his work with bands like Maiden Hell, Trinity and Dr. Purple. TV watchers might remember him from X-Factor. He plays the main character of the opera, and he also wrote the story. The music is written by bassist Jukka Hoffren (also in Adamantra) and guitarist Toni Bite. Together they've created something that reminds me of Avantasia, and in my books that's a good thing. Powerful refrains, interesting arrangements and a lot of guest vocalists, including former Lullacry singer Tanya and Christian Palin of Random Eyes and Adagio.

This CD and the material on MySpace is apparently just a teaser for a full album, so let's get back to this when the full album is released. If the rest of the material is as good as these songs, the "indie" status should change soon.

MORP: "Morph EP"

Indie 2009
Review by Alan Holloway,
8th June 2009

I don’t usually like to review unsigned band’s EP’s, because if you make a habit of it you get a stupid amount of them thrust at you and it gets hard to get round to listening to them all. To this end, I like to pick and choose this sort of thing, usually after seeing a band live, and when I witnessed the force of nature that is Morph last week I just had to pick up their new 6 track.

For a self produced effort, the CD has a good, solid sound and decent design. It looks and sounds professional, which can be a tough job sometimes. Musically, it’s solid as a rock, full of monster riffs and some great hooks, broken up by the slower, atmospheric “Stanley” in the middle. Mark Pascall’s vocals stand up very well, which is impressive as poor vocals often let down self produced discs. With a full production behind him he’s gonna sound great. All six tracks show the huge potential that this band has, although they don’t convey how amazing they are as a live act. Still, this is certainly one of the best EP’s that you will find out there at the moment and comes highly recommended.



Indie 2008
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
24 February 2009

I reviewed this band's first single back in July 2007, and although their sound was rough around the edges, I remember being intrigued by it - symphonic metal with a violin player isn't something you come across every day. Now it's 2009, and the band has evolved into a rather decent prog metal group. What's more, they still have the violin player to add that distinct edge to their music, and their songwriting has improved a great deal. I don't hear a cross-over hit to rival the likes of Nightwish or Within Temptation, but I don't know whether the band's interested in appealing to the masses anyway.

The production's okay and the arrangements are colourful, but vocalist Anu's sometimes over-the-top, theatrical style tends to grate me a bit. Overall she does a good job, but every now and then she adds a bit too much character to her singing! That's merely my opinion, some might consider it refreshing and exciting. She surely isn't a Tarja- or Anette-wannabe... in fact her voice reminds me a bit of Leather, the vocalist who sang on some Chastain albums back in the day.

The opening track "The Open Space Of Imagination" gets my vote as the best track of the CD, and you can check it out on the band's website, link below.

BLACK BAY: "Black Bay" EP

BB 2009
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
28 January 2009

Black Bay is a relatively young and up-and-coming band from my homeland, Sweden. They've been recording a couple of previous demos in the past and are now slowly building up their fanbase and reputation as a very solid Thrash/Metal act. They have a remarkable strong riff-master duo in Mikael Westberg & Lars Westberg and are a rather inventive band with influences from the likes of Soilwork, Metallica, Faith No More.

They certainly make a lively and often thrashy racket, pinned down by power riffing in the old school of Mustaine, Hammet, etc. However, they're not totally stuck in the eighties as their six-track CD is a perfect display of both old and new. Nontheless, a tune like, "Above Reality", could just as easily have been leftover from any Faith No More album in the past.

Not to mention that some of the riffs are straight off the back catalogue of Metallica. Then again, you try and find a band without any of their influences showing on their sleeves. The vocals are mid-range and might suffer a bit on a couple of the tracks where the pitch is slightly too high (the chorus part of: Inside I Flee), but it's really no biggie, and ain't that typical of thrash anyhow. They have the engery, the power, the riffing, they probably just need to figure out if they're going to be 'thrash' or strickly 'metal'.
MySpace site


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Demo/indie reviews of 2008 are now in 2008 A&R Archive!
Demo/indie reviews of 2007 are now in 2007 A&R Archive!
Demo/indie reviews of 2006 are now in 2006 A&R Archive!
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