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REVIEW: THE HARPS – “Love Strikes Doves”

The astonishing event with music is that it can be entirely surprising when you least expect it. One day you find yourself headbanging to the sounds of symphonic black metal and the next you rhythmically stomp your feet and move your body to the elegant melodies of hard rock & blues tunes. In this case, that’s exactly what happened to me with The Harps and their album “Love Strikes Doves“. But, first things first.

The Harps were founded in 2012 by their charismatic front woman Andry Lagiou in Athens, Greece. At the time the band was performing Andry‘s original compositions and arrangements which led mainly to hard rock driven, ear-catching guitar riffs weaved together with some of the vocalist’s classical music influences. Fast forward to 2014 and The Harps enter a new era with Andry Lagiou meeting the band’s new members consisting of Christoforos Krokidis, Thanasis Tsaouselis and none other than Symphony X‘s Mike Lepond on bass guitar. Along with Stelios Pavlou the line up was complete and “Love Strikes Doves” was born.

Including nine (9) musical compositions, “Love Strikes Doves” is the band’s debut album and it is a first-rate, sensational phenomenon. The overall atmosphere of the record is full of beloved 60s-70s-80s vibe, practiced in a modern effect while keeping the familiarity of that era’s female fronted hard rock music. Whether this was calculated by The Harps or just developed along the recordings of the album I can’t tell, but the result is without question incredible. Andry‘s performance in the entire album is prodigious as she appears like a natural and relentless talent; her voice tends towards a clear, melodic tone while roaring of fury and need. She reminds a lot of a melodic Janis Joplin at her highest and most intense moments.

Love Strikes Doves” opens with “Lovecircle” which is honestly one of the best rock songs I have heard in a very long time. A perfect introduction to what’s following. Gentle and fanciful vocals blended with charming guitars and choral harmonies making for an illusory sensation into “Wireflame” for those who stand tall to face all difficulties. In “Wireflame” we are admitted to the terrific keyboard works embodied in this record which helps bring out the old aura and quality of “Love Strikes Doves“. “Vulnerably in Love” follows next with Andry leading this slow tempo tune along a cordial piano melody and guitar harmonies while the bass highlights the overall song. “Immortal Soldier” picks up the speed a little bit and just as all soldiers are thickening up their skin so does Andry, delivering one of the finest vocal performances filled with passion and rock ‘n’ roll screams. Next in line is “Walked on a Street” in which the guitar has the leading part with a riff testament to the sounds of the seventies and Andry being in top shape once again with her – almost – theatrical portrayal. “Bloody Sun” showcases Mike Lepond in quite a different approach playing together with the keyboards to create an absolute, psychedelic, influenced tune which is a covenant to the rock anthems of past decades. The keyboard sounds very similar to a synthesizer or some hammond/continental organ which enhances the entire mood and album altogether. The longest track on “Love Strikes Doves” follows next titled “Pink Palm Tree” and with almost 6 minutes of pure delight its nothing but an honorable approach to former legends of the scene. “Red Line” continues on the same pattern with Andry‘s presence being so powerful that manages to mark her signature vocals for others to follow. Finally the curtain falls with “Blue Lovecircle“, an unconditionally graceful ballad with wonderful piano parts, emotional vocals and keyboard/guitar solos; showcasing the musicianship of everyone participating in this record.

I really find myself ecstatic listening to “Love Strikes Doves” and I am pleasantly surprised by The Harps. They managed to deliver a truly exceptional album filled with sentiment, excitement and reflection of true rock ‘n’ roll charisma with a modern twist. Andry puts so much of herself and her emotions into her renditions of songs that you can’t help but be moved; “Love Strikes Doves” truly captures the essence of music and it is pure passion vocalized. I am afraid it would be hard for an exceptional album like this to find its rightful place in today’s inferior, mainstream/pop/rap/hip hop dominated scene but I am overjoyed to realize there are still genuine artists that make inspired, soulful music for the heart.

RATING: 9/10

Love Strikes Doves” – tracklist:
1. Lovecircle
2. Wireflame
3. Vulnerably in Love
4. Immortal Soldier
5. Walked on a Street
6. Bloody Sun
7. Pink Palm Tree
8. Red Line
9. Blue Lovecircle

The Harps is:
Andry Lagiou – Vocals
Mike Lepond – Bass
Christoforos Krokidis – Guitars
Thanasis Tsaouselis – Keyboards
Stelios Pavlou – Drums

Facebook: www.facebook.com/andryharps

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CELLAR DARLING Reveal Debut Album Artwork

After announcing the title of their debut album last week, Cellar Darling, the new band formed by ex-Eluveitie members Anna Murphy, Merlin Sutter and Ivo Henzi, now unveil the artwork for This Is The Sound.

The mesmerizing cover artwork, created by Christopher Ruef (graphic design) and Manuel Vargas Lépiz (photography) drags you right into Cellar Darling’s mystical world of apocalyptic tales, heavy riffs and a captivating voice, ready to break the chains of your imagination. The band also revealed the full track list of their upcoming album – an astounding 14 original songs amounting to a full hour of music.

The band states: “The figure of the cover lures you into our world of stories and eclectic music. It’s a preview of the remaining artwork, where each song has it’s own own visual representation and symbol.”

This Is The Sound will see the light of day on June 30th via Nuclear Blast.

Tracklisting:

“Avalanche”
“Black Moon”
“Challenge”
“Hullaballoo”
“Six Days”
“The Hermit”
“Water”
“Fire, Wind & Earth”
“Rebels”
“Under The Oak Tree…”
“…High Above These Crowns”
“Starcrusher”
“Hedonia”
“Redemption”

More details about their first studio tale will follow shortly and in the meantime you can watch a trailer from the recordings in the New Sound Studio of Pfäffikon:

The band filmed an entire little studio documentary that will soon be revealed bit by bit on Cellar Darling’s Facebook page and YouTube channel, so stay tuned.

After their split with Eluveitie, Anna Murphy, Ivo Henzi and Merlin Sutter quickly realized their musical journey was far from over. What quickly developed was a unique and fresh combination of grand and heavy riffs, powerful drumming and a unique voice along with the signature folky, earthy tones of the hurdy gurdy. This, combined with classical elements as well as inherited folk influences, led to the creation of something entirely new, setting Cellar Darling on the path of musical innovation.

Cellar Darling released their first single, “Challenge”, and a bonus song called “Fire, Wind & Earth” in September 2016. Listen below:

NARCOTIC DEATH confirmed to support FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE

Old school death metallers Narcotic Death have been recently announced to support Italian death metal masters Fleshgod Apocalypse at the Huddersfield Heavymetalfest. The event will take place at The Parish in Huddersfield on 12th October. Tickets are limited in availability and are priced at £20. The full line-up so far is as follows:

Fleshgod Apocalypse (Headliner)
Bound By Exile
Scordatura
Grieve
Narcotic Death

https://www.facebook.com/narcoticdeath
http://www.myspace.com/narcoticdeath616