Reviews Round-Up March 2024Reviews Round-Up March 2024

• FIREWIND – ‘Stand United’
• MIDAS FALL – ‘Cold Waves Divide Us’
• RAGE – ‘Afterlifelines’
• ALTERIUM – ‘Of War And Flames’

March has seen a veritable plethora of really good releases – far too many to keep track of (which is no bad thing, actually) – so here’s a round-up of five of the best.


FIREWIND have a reputation for never disappointing, and ‘Stand United’ (AFM, 1 March) does nothing but enhance that standing. The band’s tenth studio album sees the band – Gus G (guitars), Herbie Langhans (vocals), Petros Christo (bass) and Jo Nunez (drums) – still brimming with ideas and effervescent with energy. One of the their strongest points is creating heavy yet hugely-accessible material, and ‘Stand United’ serves up ten such numbers with little fuss in just over forty-three minutes. Opener ‘Salvation Day’ and the more nuanced ‘The Power Lies With’ are perhaps the pick of the originals, while Gus G’s finger-knotting intro to the title track is worth the price of the album alone. Being no strangers to pop covers the penultimate track is their spin on The Romantics’ 1983 Billboard No.3 ‘Talking In Your Sleep’ which is guaranteed to put a smile on your face even on the dreariest of days.


photo by Tim Tronckoe

Video clips:
‘Destiny Is Calling’ -
‘Stand United’ -
‘Fallen Angel’ -


VICINTY come at things from the direction of old-school progressive metal, with an approach not unlike the early days of Dream Theater or Fates Warning. ‘VIII’ (Uprising Records, 8 March), you may be surprised to know, is their third full-length release, following in the footsteps of ‘Awakening’ (2013) and 2017’s ‘Recurrence’, so either there’s a deeper meaning at work (there are in fact eight tracks on the album) or the Norwegians need a lesson in Roman numerals. (I’m actually guessing it just stands for Vicinity III.) Whatever, ‘VIII’ is a truly remarkable album, derivative in places to be sure but elegantly written and performed, and when it soars it really soars. Featuring the recently-recruited Erling Malm on vocals, it kicks off – with some panache, it has to be said – with the twelve-minute ‘Promised Paradise’, a track with labyrinthine twists and turns which allows the musicians a shop window on their respective talents. Another epic, ‘Face the Rain’ wraps things up, while in the middle order ‘The Singularity’ is a punchy offering with more than a touch of belligerence about it.


pic by Daniel Almli & Steffen Normark

Video clips:
‘The Singularity’ -
‘Distance’ -
‘Purpose’ -


Maybe it’s me getting old, but I do get lost in the myriad of sub-genres. Tagged as alt/post/progressive rock, MIDAS FALL are a Scottish trio – all extremely talented songwriters and musicians – whose music creates soundscapes of almost limitless scope. ‘Cold Waves Divide Us’ (Monotreme Records, 8 March) is their fifth album and is set to capitalise on the buzz surrounding its predecessor ‘Evaporate’ which copped a wealth of glowing reviews back in 2018. With a sound that’s pretty much of melting pot of all things progressive, gothic and ethereal, and haunted by Elizabeth Heaton’s spectral vocals ‘Cold Waves Divide Us’ is at times both beautiful and bleak. Songs like ‘In This Avalanche’ and the title track have both an otherworldly, timeless quality and a new-born fragility which demand an attentive ear.


photo by Stephen Alexander

Video clips:
‘Monsters’ -
‘Cold Waves Divide Us’ -
‘I Am Wrong’ -


With forty-plus years on the clock and still going strong RAGE may be older and wiser but are no less heavy. ‘Afterlifelines’ (SPV, 29 March) is their twenty-fifth or so album (do you count ‘Prayers Of Steel’, recorded when they were still called Avenger?) and is an 87 minute double LP or CD, split into ‘Afterlife’ on one disc, followed by ‘Lifelines’ on t’other. It’s a rough concept piece, set in a dystopian future and dwelling on the mistakes humankind is making now (and their consequences). ‘Afterlife’ – it says in the sleeve notes – shows the “pure and thrashy” side of Rage, while ‘Lifelines’ is more considered and fully orchestrated. The pick of each aspect of the band for me are ‘Toxic Waves’ from the first clutch of songs and ‘One World’ from the second, but, hey!, it’s Rage. Their last few releases have been top quality, and, let’s be honest, it’s hard to go wrong with Peavy and Co.


photo by Oliver Bob

Video clips:
‘Under A Black Crown’ -
‘Dying To Live’ -
‘Cold Desire’ -


From old dogs to young pups... Off the blocks in a blaze of glory with the kick-arse ‘Drag Me To Hell’ come ALTERIUM, an Italian five-piece founded by former Kalidia members Nicoletta Rosellini (vocals), Paolo Campitelli (guitars) and Dario Gozzi (drums) and completed by Draconicon guitarist Alessandro Mammola and Altair bassist Luca Scalabrin. ‘Of War And Flames’ (AFM Records, 8 March) is a sterling debut, and unsurprisingly, given the band’s members, is in general a freewheeling and frenetic power metal offering. It’s quite a diverse album – a tad poppy at times – but these guys really know their stuff and Rosellini has a great voice as the ballad ‘Crystaline’ shows. ‘Crossroads Inn’ is a rather fun piece with a neck-breaking riff (and a rather silly video), and the title track is an excellent slow-burner. Nine originals are topped off with a cover-by-numbers take on Sabaton’s ‘Bismarck’.


Video clips:
‘Siren’s Call’ -
‘Crossroads Inn’ -
‘Drag Me To Hell’ -

© John Tucker March 2024