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Lane, Shawn (Shawn Lane Remembered Vol. 1 & 2)
Last Warning - From The Floor of The Well
Legacy - Stand And Conquer
Leger De Main - A Lasting Impression
Legion - Shadow of the King
Lemur Voice - Insight
Lion's Share - Fall from Grace
Listeria - Full of Fire
Locomotive Breath - Change of Track
Lord Bane - Age of Elegance
Lord of Mushrooms - 7 Deadly Songs


Shawn Lane Remembered Vol.1 & 2
Lion Music
(2004)

Sadly, well-respected genius guitar player, Shawn Lane, passed away in 2003. This news spread out all over the world, and many guitar freaks missed Shawn Lane. Lion Music is one of the very first to pay tribute to the spirit and soul of Shawn Lane. Lion Music has been constantly releasing musically interesting tribute albums like Jason Becker Tribute and Uli John Roth Tribute. Just in case, if you do not know about Shawn Lane and love excellet guitar music, you can not dismiss the giant like Shawn Lane. In his musical career, Shawn has released his albums and related works. There are a lot of highly original and great music by Shawn Lane, so if you are curious, go and get his music at local cd store or special online store carrying his albums.

Ok, back to the review of Shawn Lane Remembered Vol.1&2. Lion Music invited various guitarists and musicians who want to play from their heart and soul, and dedicated to Shawn Lane. What I was surprised is that most musicians do not play Shawn Lane's cover songs. I have no idea why very few covered late Shawn Lane's music note by note. One of the reasons is that it might have been super difficult to pull off Shawn's music or whatever. But on the other hand, most musicians and bands play their own original tracks has dedicated to Shawn Lane. There are definately respects and enthusiasm from all artists on both Vol.1 and 2. Many guitarists want to perform on this tribute album, so this one split up two as vol.1 and vol2. On the vol.1 cd, there are musicians performing like Alex Masi, Stephan Forte, George Bellas, Marcel Coenen (Sun Caged), Joop Wolters (Arabesque), Lars Eric Mattson (Vision), Mistheria, Patrick Carlson, Double Heart Project, Craig Erickson, Dave Martone, Charly Sahona, Goncalo Pereira , Rusty Cooley, Tony Smotherman, and Francesco Fareri. On the vol.2 cd, the guitarists, such as, Roger Staffelbach (Artension), Double Heart Project, Patrik Carlsson, Torben Enevoldsen, Mistheria, Jon Paget, Luis Moreno, Richard Daude, Rob Sbar, Marcos De Rost, Tom Kopyto, and lastly Alex Masi, are performing.

Personally, I prefer vol.1 a lot, but vol.2 is also very fine. Vol.1 is especially incredible to my ears. All guitar performance and musicianship is undoubtedly really superb and breathe-taking. The performance of Stephen Forte, Marcel Coenen, Joop Wolters, Dave Martone, Craig Erickson and Rusty Cooly are really interesting and superb. Each participant's music style is very varied, e.g., rock, hard fusion, prog metal, and neo-classical. However, they have done really smoothe and really well-executed. Comparing to vol.1, somehow my excitement feeling and emotions toned down a bit while listening to vol.2, but there have also different sparks and shining moments. These two albums must be interesting ones for guitar freaks.


Last Warning - From The Floor Of The Well
WMMS

Nowadays, there are tons of Italian Metal/Prog Metal/Symphonic Metal bands in the metal scene. Last Warning seems to be playing heavy music for a long time. Their style reminds me of CRIMSON GLORY and early QUEENSRYCHE. It is quite good mix of European/American Powerful Metal with some proggy moves. Their second album was more like Dream Theater-style prog metal. Their first album released from WMMS Label focused on more metallic side of 80s.

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Legacy - Stand and Conquer
Independent Release
(2003)

Legacy is an Ohio-based American powerful metal band. Stand and Conquer features lots of energetic and furious power metal in the school of quality HM like Vicious Rumors and Hades. In addition, their intensified power metal with intricacies and complex sections would appeal to the fans who like Archetype and Antithesis. Nowadays, melodic power metal and European type speed metal seem to dominate in the scene of metal world. On the other hand, we welcome the bands like Legacy are working hard to play insense metal music with the spirit of classic metal. Legacy states that they are progressive power metal band, however do not expect something like keyboard-oriented progressive power metal like European prog metal and some U.S. melodic prog power bands. Do not get overwhelmed or being misunderstood by the word progressive power metal. It depends on what you hear from their music, but I do not consider them in prog side. Rather I enjoyed their power metal energy and heavieness from Stand and Conquer. Stand and Conquer packs really heavy sound walls, intricate guitar playing and pounding rhythm sections. If you need to have heavy, power, intense, shred guitar solo, and speed in music, then Legacy's Stand and Conquer will provide something good for you.

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Leger De Main - A Lasting Impressions
Progman Records/PMM
(2005)

As you see that this website occasionally adds the review articles of the artists and bands from Progressive Music Management in the United States, because I strongly feel that U.S. east coast based label/management, PMM, constantly offers really intelligent and heavy prog rock sounds in recent years that appeal to my ears and prog metal listeners in general. I am quite happy to finally add the review articles of Leger De Main who have released two albums in 1990's.

Okay, now let's investigate A Lasting Impression from Leger De Main. This one is not a brand-new album, but is a re-issue cd including their first album "The Concept of Our Reality" and 2nd album "Second First Impression" with a couple of bonus tracks. I believe this is their beginning of their progressive rock career in public, but Leger De Main plays such a fantastic progressive rock music entirely. Esp., I really really love what they perform on the original "The Concept of Our Reality" side disc!!. There are tons of nice melodies and intricate instrumentations. Although there are a few really long-format tracks, all progressive rock/metal listeners are going to be satisfied with their solid performance and dramatic world. Definately, "The Concept of Our Reality" side appeals to the listeners who are into prog music in general.

The focal point of this band is undeniably the brothers of Chris Rodler on gutiars and Brent Rodler on drums with a female singer, Melissa Blair (nowadays, Melissa Rodler). It's a bit unusual to hear female-oriented technical prog rock , except for some bands, but they managed to maintain quite beautifully intense sounds and interwoven musical elements. If you are into Lana Lane and so on, The Concept of Our Reality offers really good things to your ears I think. I have nothing bad to say about the materials from "The Concept of Our Reality". Since I got this album, I have been totally into 1st cd side a lot.

On the other hand, I had a bit difficult moments to get into second side, mostly from original "Second First Impression". Well, how do I start saying?....Yeah, of course, Leger De Main's entire ensemble works are really great. There is no doubt about it. However, I could not get into the vocal melodies and some parts from "Second First Impression". I am so sorry to say that for the band, but I try to being very honest what I feel about "Second First..." side. Don't know why I felt that way, yet I believe probably the approach on this side is purposely different from their former side of A Lasting Impressions. It's more like dark and organized chaotic prog sounds they were into at that time. Instrumentally, they are always intense, so I really like complex prog parts again on this one. Maybe, melodies and arrangements are big differences between "The Concept of Our Reality" and "Second First Impression". Anyway, it took several more spins to digest "Second First.." side. I am still not sure I have digested second cd side, but gradually I get a new discovery and pleasure from each listening session.

Overall, Leger De Main has achieved really complex and beautifully dramatic prog sounds featuring a lead female vocal on their albums. Since they released the albums of Leger De Main in 1990's, PMM has been successfully releasing fascinatingly great new groups and projects. I with them all the best, and big thanks to the great works on Leger De Main. I think Leger De Main's music appeals to both prog rock and prog metal fans. Highly recommended.

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Legion - Shadow of the King
Independent Release
(2005)

This is my first time to check out the album performed by a New Jersey-based Heavy Metal band called Legion. Yeah, they are playing good time heavy metal with balls and chunks where it is at. :) I like ballsey and heavy sounds with nice melodic sensibilities they play on Shadow of the King. So far, I like "The Watcher", "Deny Yourself", and "Medicine Man". In fact, the music Legion plays is going to appeal to the fans of Riot, NWOBHM style, American Power Metal and true HM music. Catchy melodies and solid guitar-oriented performance that I could feel from their music. If you feel nostalgia from Rainbow, Dio, Black Sabbath, and early Yngwie Malmsteen's music with your each listen, then Legion's new album offers quite nice experience for you. I assume that it's quite hard job to survive in U.S. rock and metal scene nowadays, since alternative and modern Nu-Metal music are dominant in these days. However, I hope they are going to play and keep up their good job in east coast area of United States. Thanks for making a cd with great energy and sensibilities. Rock Hard, Legion. Recomended for the fans of die-hard traditional U.S. and European Metal with strong 80's spirits. What they play on Shadow of the King gives nice feelings toward hard rock and heavy metal listeners who have been fed up with 90s happy metal kind of music.
[website: http://www.legion-music.com/]

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Lemur Voice - Insight
Magna Carta

Although Lemur Voice was dropped from Magna Carta label, they offered some unique progressive metal materials on Insight. Insight has several songs and a few instrumental pieces. Esp, the songs like Deep Inside and Akasha Chronicles are the typical Lemur Voice materials which have odd-timing and melodic bombastic prog metal style music. I guess that guitar player can play technical lead performance on main songs and make crunchy agressive tones when he plays riffs. Keyboard player choose several melodic synth tones, and keyboards really swell and wail. Rhythm sections are really tight and often make odd-time beats pretty good. Overall, they sound pretty good and technically I have no problem to listen to their music. However, melodic lines on all music are sometims dragging and not enough to convince listeners who enjoy agressive progressive metal music, such as Dream Theater, Shadow Gallery, Zero Hour, and Savatage.
I know singer can handle his throat, but sometimes I think his singing melody lack of catchiness a bit. Overall, Gregor sings really great. Moreover, sometimes they tend to use complex patterns repetitiously. I tend to be bored on the songs like Alone Again, and Celestial Haze. However, their technical performance is pretty interesting and I assume that they are going to make better albums in the future. Too bad that Magna Carta dropped Lemur Voice. Mainly, their lyrics focus on human emotion and how to escape from discourgament and having hope. If you can enjoy the dark melancholic mood that Fates Warning sometimes offered on the album of A Pleasant Shade Of Grey or Pararelles, then you might enjoy the music of Lemur Voice. However, they are not copycat of Fates Warhing. Having said that, I want to give them 4.75  out of 5. **attention** well, some descprions I made a little bit might have been too critical, but no offence intended, actually I really love this album later. That is what I have felt at that time. This album is great totally!!

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Lion's Share - Fall from Grace
Bareknucle/Avex
(1999)

Fall from Grace seems to be focused on song-oriented approach than their previous releases. Until previous albums, they had played somewhat melodic metal with some proggy moves and elements included. On this album, their sound and approach tend to be closer to Black Sabbath's "Heaven And Hell" and "The Mob Rules" with their updated version. Probably, their musical direction starts drifting away from heavy prog metal side. Most tunes on Fall From Grace are mid-tempo types with nice keyboard sounds created by Kay Backlund. I guess that some Lion's Share fans miss earlier lite prog metal sounds that has shining moments and intricacies of what prog metal bands usually have. More stream-line sounds, but of course they performed tightly and cohesively in a good manner. In my case, I enjoy their solid performance that they combine heavy and powerful hard rocking energy with nice orchestrated synth works and string section. On the other hand, I miss some shining magic they had on previous works. Overall, this is another solid good work from Lion's Share.

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Listeria - Full of Fire
Lion Music
(2005)

Italian-based powerful metal band's first release from Lion Music. I think this might be the first time to check out sort of 80's oriented power metal sounds from Italians. To me, I recognize that Italy is the country where offers mostly prog metal, symphonic metal, and prog rock bands in general. Of course, there are tons of power metal and melodic rock bands as well. Strangely, probably this is my first encounter to hear Italian band playing fully American powerful metal style music like Listeria. Stylistically, Listeria reminds me of a bit of Armored Saint. Indeed, they are obviously good at performing solid and straight-forward energetic power metal unlike other Italian contemporaries. The music of Listeria definately appeals to the fans of American power metal music influenced by 80s. There are no decorations and frills, just performing really strong powerful metal entirely within 30 to 40 minutes. If they added more complexity and intricacies rather than just straight-forwardness, then I'd have enjoyed more. Overall, if you like strong-style powerful metal without keyboards and symphonic elements, then you would enjoy this one so much.

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Locomotive Breath - Change of Track
Lion Music
(2005)

3rd official full-length album from Swedish vetetan hard rockers. Although I have heard of their name on hard rock and metal magazines, this album is my first encounter to listen through entierly. From the beginning to the end, Locomotive Breath's music contains really strong rock grooves and catchy melodies with powerful ensembles. If my memory serves correctly, this band features a skilled guitarist and famous Scandinavian HR/HM commentator called Janne Stark. Along with Janne, the singer Mattias Osback brings melodic sensibilities into the songs with dynamic approach. Even though I had not had good chances to check out their music before, the band itself is very cohesive and really tight to perform all songs. As other Scandinavian band do, Locomotive Breath also put the emphasis and energy on their memorable song-oriented tracks over complexity and intricacies. Nevertheless, I have been really amazed and impressed by prog metal-esque "Gargleblaster" featuring the incredible guests like Hank Shermann, Mattias "IA" Eklundh, Tommy Denander, and Lars Eric Mattson. Overall, Locomotive Breath gives me a really good impressions and nice surprises through listening to "Change of Track". Uniquely, this band does not rely on keyboard sounds at all. There have had a minor member changes, but the new bassist Marcel Jacobs (ex. Yngwie Malmsteen/Talisman) fit the shoes of a predecessor to handle amazing jobs as well. Probably, Change of Track might have been considered as their best work, yet. Highly recommended for the fans of strong and powerful hard rock and metal music from Scandinavian areas. I wish Locomotive Breath to make and perform complex instrumental tunes like "Gargleblaster" more in the future. Amazing band, indeed.

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Lord Bane - Age of Elegance
Nordic Metal
(1994)

Lord Bane seems to be one of unknown progressive power metal bands from Denmark. Some people consider this album as one of prog metal hidden gems. Musically, Lord Bane plays orchestrated semi-complex metal in dak atmospheres. This is my first time to try Nordic Metal's metal band, overall they tried to make original sounding dark powerful metal. Lead singer seems to be good at singing high-tone vocals that are similar to Crimson Glory's Midnight and King Diamond. Instrumental sections remind me of a cross between Morgana Lefay, and Savatage, due to heavy guitar playing and powerful rhythmic sections. I do not read credit of keyboard player, but I assume that they use some keyboards with using violin and cello (I am not sure that these are real strings or orchestra samples) to create grey-ish atmosphere. They keep mid to up-tempos. They rarely speed up, but maintain steady pace. Lord Bane is not really keyboard-oriented prog metal band. Rather, they are kind of vocal/guitar oriented powerful metal with some proggy metal parts and some odd-time beats. The way they orchestrated and using symphonic sounds with metal sounds is unique. One of minor complaints about this album is the department of mixing and sound-production. The vocal parts are slightly behind, and drum parts are bit up-front (even though the snare and cymbals sound really good to my ears). Sound production is a bit weaker, so it lacks a bit of crisp sounds. Overall, what Lord Bane expressed on this album appeals to the fans of early progressive power metal bands like Crimson Glory, Heir Apparent, Queensryche, Fates Warning, and Savatage.

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Lord of Mushrooms - 7 Deadly Songs
Lion Music
(2005)

Fantastic 2nd album by young progressive rock/metal band from France. Probably, 7 Deadly Songs successfully put Lord of Mushroom in the map of progressive rock/metal scene. Their debut album has been already released from French progressive rock label, Musea Records, a few years ago. Although there was not a big buzz about their debut album, this new album contains lots of incredible instrumental works and tight guitar solos with nice keyboard works as well. Honestly, this band performs superbly, sometimes they go really intense with memorable chorus and catchy hooks. I think this band has been introduced as French band, but more precisely they are from Monte Carlo, Monaco I believe. Overall, this album would astonish all prog rock/metal listeners all around the world. I am quite happy to see that there are several quality French and French-related bands coming out in the scene of prog and prog metal scene. We definitely welcome a fairly newcomer like Lord of Mushrooms. They deserve the praises from prog community. One of most unique prog rock/metal albums in 2005. Highly recommended for all prog listeners and people who are open-minded to different kind of rock music. I have been impressed with these guys making and performing on 7 Deadly Songs. Nicely done and great job!!. Excellent!!

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