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X FACTOR X: "X factor X" 8

Klytus Records 1999

Review by 01-04-15

X FACTOR X is a band from New Haven/Milford that started out as a cover band in 1993 but decided to work on their own material back in 1996. This is their first CD and I can hear influences from bands such as Van Halen, Extreme, T-Ride & Dream Theater and from melodic Hi-Tech Metal like Savatage & MacAlpine.

They´ve been opening up for Slaughter, Warrant, Lynch Mob, Great White and I must say that the sound on this CD is great! Maybe not so strange cuz it´s recorded by JEFF CANNATA that we all know from Arc Angel & solo stuff.

Guitarist John Bruno is a superb guitar bender who really knows how to use his axe. He provides some really flashy solos and complex riffing like on the song "The Scream". This is a great uptempo Melodic Metal song á la Extreme with a groove, not far from the great (and only album) from the band T-RIDE. The chorus is really catchy and vocalist Andre Vanchot sings like a God! The song "Lie" might be a little bit too brutal for this 'zine, with some crunching guitars and vocals like Pantera But thank God... it´s the only song that sucks. "Shadow" is a great midtempo song that sounds both like the Mid-80´s metal band Obsession & Prog Metal like Dream Theater. Now the track "B*A*M*F* (hmmm, can anyone guess what it means) is a superb song that could easily have been on EXTREME´s best album "Pornograffitti" cuz it rocks Big Time in a funky way. So fans of above mentioned artists make sure to check out this band at their site find out more about them and buy the CD!

X FEARS: "I´ll Be There For You" 6

Indie 2000
Review by 01-04-15

The GRAZ - boys (Austria) are back with a brand new single! We reviewed their last single "20th Century Man" a couple of weeks ago and I must say that this is a little step back. They´ve become a bit softer and it´s more POP than AOR this time, but it´s still very catchy with a good production and great vocals.

This CD was recorded in their own studio, Mureck and it´s actually their 4th single! They have also done 2 videos and they´ve had airplay on both radio and TV in Austria. Like I´ve said before... this is very smooth POP/Rock!

Now... "I´ll Be There For You" is a very catchy POP/Rock ballad that with some airplay could be hit! I started to hum-a-long to the chorus right away and it sounds almost like a softer POP version of Richard Marx or Brett Walker, the vocal harmonies are superb. "Where´s The Sun" is a nice POP/Rock song but not as good as "I´ll Be There For You". Let´s just hope that X-FEARS will release a full play CD in the future and maybe with a couple of real rockers on it? Don´t get me wrong... the ballads are great, but we all need a change of pace sometimes :-) Find out more about them at:

X-FEARS: "20th Century Man"

Indie 2000

Review by

X-FEARS is a band from Graz/Austria that plays some catchy POP/AOR a-la DEF LEPPARD, ULTRAVOX, NOUVEAUX & BEATLES with a 'big' production, much keyboards and really good background and lead vocals. This is really smooth and laid-back POP/AOR with a very clean sound that I really do like.

So don't expect any crunching guitars or screaming vocals on this 3-track CD! What you will get, is pretty good music that you can enjoy while driving your car down the rainy ? snowy ? boring ? highway. "20th Century man" is a nice semi rocker that sounds like a mix between Def Leppard & Ultravox maybe not as good, but still pretty catchy. "Together" is a good AOR/POP song with a catchy chorus and a bridge that sounds very much like QUEEN or EXTREME. Last track "Another world" is best of them all with a sound that reminds me of ULTRAVOX (again) but with some influences from BON JOVI! It´s a good semi ballad with some great harmony vocals. Find out more about X-FEARS at: you can also buy the single there.

X-TERRA: "Wolves" 6

Indie 2003
Review by 23 November 2003

The "Wolves" are howling outside your door and you simply can't take it anymore? What you need is a friendly dose of X-Terra and their terrific music which bare the testimony of the almighty one. Formed already back in 1985, X-Terra has spent the last eighteen years performing their brand of original hardrock/classic metal in venues in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey.

With four albums up to date and lots of experience under their belt, this power trio consisting of Bill Hunt (vocals/guitars), Anne Kachline (bass), and Bob Kackline (drums), have created a very solid album with various rock/metal influences.

The music is however rooted into the 80's scene and you'll find everything from (melodic) Thrash Metal to wimpy Sleaze/Glam here. The smashing "It Isn't Love" is straight from the textbook of Bret Michaels and Poison, while "Don't Curse The Darkness" is very similar to Barren Cross or even Annihilator is the 80's. They are both great examples of the diversety of the band and both songs had me up and dancing on the tables. "I've Had Enough" is great metal with powerful drumming and aggressive lyrics. Opener "Wake Up" reminded me of early Anthrax and the title track "Wolves", is a bit similar to Bride, during their "Kinetic faith" period. The excellent "Calm Before The Storm" and the power ballad "We All Need A Hand To Hold", are also worthy of some praise. Especially the latter goes straight to the heart with touching lyrics and catchy sing-a-long chorus. The production is not bad at all even if it's kind of raw in places. Hunt's voice is somewhere between Bret Michaels and Vince Neil and Anne Kachline helps out with nice backing vocals every now and then. You may have heard some of these songs before and there's some fillers included too. However, I would strongly recommend you all to check out soundclips at CDbaby (link below) as X-Terra rocks in the end.

XANDRIA: "Kill The Sun" 8

Drakkar 2003
Review by 1 August 2003

Oh crap... yet another boring Nightwish/Edenbridge wannabe band with some chick upfront. I'll have to admit those were my exact words and thoughts, when first reading through the following biography of Xandria. I'll also be the first to admit that I was dead wrong too!!

After listening to their "Kill The Sun" a dozen of times, I believe this to be something more and extra out of ordinary. This is one elegant and emotional album which catches the essence of goth/dramatic rock today. The angelic voice of their female singer Lisa, goes straight to the heart and she's no uptight "opera" lassie either. Thank God as I pretty much hate going through a whole album with those weird vocals.

This is rather more in the vein of Evanescence than anything else. Maybe even more melodic/poppy and not with as many "crunching" guitars either. You will obviously also find some similarities to the music of Nightwish and Edenbridge. They've already been climbing the charts in their homeland Germany and success waits around the corner. They haven't been around long enough perhaps and this is after all, only their debut after some two years together as a band. Something which you can tell by their strange approach to music in certain places. There are still things to work with here, and that's a good sign after all I guess. The closing track "Calyx Virago" is one weird tune... like the late 60's acts, whom invitied you for an acid trip while listening (yuk!). The first 5 tracks are almost magical though, the title track can actually be described as the female version of HIM, only with some celtic(?) influences. Magical was the word and Lisa sings like the little angel she is (puuuurrrrr!!!). Change that to mermaid perhaps as "Mermaids" is simply breathtaking. Like a lovely mixture of Evanscence and HIM, this song will have you gasping for air. Very dramatic, emotional, atmospheric, gothic, Pop-metal, with tons of melancholic, beautiful, melodies. A couple of really lame fillers wont stop this from being really good in the end.

XANDRIA: "Ravenheart" 8

Drakkar 2004
Review by Jorge Antonaya,
25 May 2004

Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Xandria, the new sensation of Gothic Metal! Well, not really, but anyway… Ravenheart is already the sophomore album by this German band, after last year’s debut Kill The Sun. The info sheet included with the promo copy claims that their music is somewhere in the middle of Gothic Metal and melodic rock. Well since I like both genres I thought I should give them a chance. What I found out was, however, slightly different of what I expected, but interesting nonetheless.

Ravenheart contains 12 tracks of, so to say, fat-free gothic metal, with lots of keyboards provided by band’s guitarist and songwriter Marco, and haunting vocals delivered by female singer Lisa. They could be described as a softer version of Within Temptation, with distant resemblances of other acts in the dark scene. Note I say dark and not Gothic; because not all the similarities come from that genre, but there are others that have in common a dark or melancholic feeling. The title track reminds me of a lighter version of Within Temptation’s Mother Earth, same bombastic keys, dreamy vocals, but with slowed down tempo and less power on the guitars. Unlike Sharon den Adel, Lisa’s voice doesn’t sound operatic, yet still lyrical and fairy-like. The Lioness is one of the best tracks of the album, with its poppy guitar arpeggios ala The Cure, whilst maintaining the momentum gained on the previous track. Good vocals and layered keyboards. Back To The River has a really mesmerizing chorus and Lisa’s voice sounds like a cool mix of Sharon den Adel and Amy Lee of Evanescence. Eversleeping is the first ballad of the album and it’s on a Tory Amos/Kate Bush mood. Fire Of The Universe is, by far, my fave track on the album, a keyboard driven modern rock song with bombastic guitar sound, synth drums loops and layered vocals to die for (not the band!). Killer song indeed! Some Like It Cold is another ballad with a doom feeling all over it, slight traces of The Gathering, and a strong resemblance on the voice to All About Eve’s (does anybody remember them?) Julianne Reagan. Answer has both gothic sounding keyboard ambient and a chorus that give the song an overall melancholy feeling. Curiously enough the harmonic patterns used here are quite common on the AOR/Melodic rock, so maybe the bio was not too out of focus. My Scarlet Name’s intro could have been in any The Lord Of The Rings soundtracks. It becomes an Evanescence-like song with some flamenco sounding guitar solo. Snow-White has the same kind of Arabian sound characteristic of early After Forever, but less bombastic and elaborated, and of course a completely different type of vocals. Black Flame is halfway between modern rock and Rammstein, but Lisa’s vocals (both lead and backing) turns it into a very interesting gothic rock tune ala Sisters Of Mercy. Too Close To Breathe is the last ballad of the album and here we have again the All About Eve spirit. This track goes in a passionate crescendo and works very well for my taste. Finally, Keep My Secret Well brings back the Within Temptation connection with crunchy guitars and ethereal vocals.

The album was recorded at Pleasure Park Studios in Belgium. Production and mix run by José Alvarez-Brill who did a remarkable work as the CD sounds great. After the first spins I was going to give the album a lower rating as both the guitars and the vocals sounded a bit too soft for my taste when it comes to Gothic rock, but the more I listen to this album the more I like it, so I’d better do the review now to prevent overrating ;-) Truly recommended if you like Within Temptation, All About Eve or Evanescence. Also recommended if you always wanted to give Gothic Metal a try but where a bit scared of too extreme sounds. Well, this album can be all that you want but extreme, in fact is closer to melodic rock sounds that you can think, so why not to give it a try?

XINEMA: "Differnet Ways" 7

Unicorn Records 2002

Review by 9 August 2002

"Different Ways" is the title of Unicorn Records latest CD release and it's also their first act to be signed outside of Canada. Yep, and it's a Swedish band of course... Xinema is a three piece prog/melodic rock band from my homeland, who are really standing with one leg in the AOR field and with the other in the progressive realm.

The history of band members: Mikael Askemur (leadvocals, bass, keyboards, guitars, programming), Sven Larsson (guitars) & Jonas Thurén (drums, lead & b-vocals) goes back to 1985. When they played and toured together in a band called Madrigal, that project split up in the early 90's (grunge strikes again?) and Xinema has existed in it's present form since March 1999.

It's very easy to fall in love with their music at first as opener "In The Scent Of The Night" is one of the better songs this year. They mix catchy melodies with tons of keys and the sound of mostly (early) Asia and Saga is very present here. This song would have been huge in the early 80's, track #2 "Over The Sea" is another winner with lovely keys and a catchy chorus. You know, I can tell your right away that if you've been searchin' for a Swedish 'Asia' (he!?) you simply can't go wrong here. However, the downside would be that many of the songs are in the same midtempo format, and it gets a bit boring at the end of the disc. Still, tracks like "Last Flower Of The Year", "Timing", "Maybe Time", "Across The Styx", "Blind Is The Light" are all candy for smooth, progressive AOR lovers. It woudn't hurt to include a couple of more uptempo tracks next time though. Well worth checking out, if you're into the above mentioned bands as everything is very professional done here.

XYZ: "Letter To God" 7

MTM Music 2003
Review by 5 April 2003

There's unfortunately a very sad story behind XYZ's comeback album "Letter To God". You know, one of those tragedy's you wish never would happen. The son of lead vocalist Terry Ilous, died late last year (while XYZ were still recording songs), and this album is dedicated to his memory. We at RockUnited wish to express our deepest and honest sympathys to Ilous and his family.

Not the merriest of review introductions perhaps and I'm not quite sure how to follow this up. Let's turn the page and see what kind of music the Dokken wannabe's, deliver this time. Yep! In the late 80's/early 90's, XYZ were heavily inspired by above mentioned outfit. They were actually 'discovered' by Don Dokken, who also produced their debut album back in the days. Ilous has since the split up, done a bit of this and that really. His 'Cage' project and the voiceover work for 'Rugrats', are just some of the things.

The comeback album is groovier than previous work and more in the style of Led Zeppelin than Dokken. You could almost name some of the songs to be 'grungy', even if I prefer to call it groovy 70's rock. New guitarist JK Northrup (King Kobra, Shortino, Solo) is responsible for co-writing many of the tracks. And original drummer Paul Monroe gets a helping hand from Vinnie Appice (Dio, Black Sabbath etc), on a couple of tracks. They've unfortunately done a "Whitesnake" here though. Meaning they've re-recorded two songs (What Keeps Me Loving You, Tell Me), originally taken from XYZ's debut album. I don't know about you, but I find this to be poor judgementship if anything. Who needs these re-recordings anyway? The first two tracks "What's On Your Mind" and "Letter To God" are very alike somehow. They are both, nice, groovy rockers, which I know some would even call 'grungy'. This is not grunge-rock like Nirvana though, there's no need to worry. However, it's a bit dark and moody rock and not really the slick 80's rock, like in the past. Lots of Led Zeppelin vibes are going on here for sure. It's not that far from Ilous 'Cage' project even if these songs are better. "Rainy Day" is very much like Led Zep though, complete with acoustic guitars and everything. The ballads are simply all great and especially "All I'm Asking", goes straight to the heart. Very sentimental with both piano, violin, and Ilous voice is almost magical here. Without a doubt, the ballad of the year so far!!! "Touch The Sky" and "Burn It Up" is more in the style of Whitesnake/Blue Murder than anything. Bottomline, I find "Letter To God" to be a bit too 'groovy' and there's a couple of really, horrible tracks included. The final verdict will have to be good/nice but still not quite there.