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An album should never be judged by its cover alone, although first impression are, of course, paramount in garnering attention for your band in the first instance, particularly in an oversaturated metal market where every man and his dog seem to be releasing music these days. In fact, it never ceases to amaze me just how many new albums within the rock/metal fraternity are released annually - literally thousands. So yes, striking cover art can make or break a band if they fail through other avenues such as word-of-mouth or a relentless marketing campaign. Unfortunately, Jaded Star - the new band formed by ex-Visions of Atlantis vocalist Maxi Nil and ex-Iced Earth sticksman Raphael Saini - seem to convey a very misleading image. Cover art, band name, and logo design strike of glam rock mediocrity... perhaps some kind of second-rate, hair-metal wannabes. That couldn't be further from the truth, and perhaps others will form a different first impression by the image they convey peripheral to the music, but I would've been turned off immediately had I not been sent this for review.

What we are actually dealing with here is a melodically rich, quasi-symphonic, and occasionally poppy, metal beast with some rock persuasions (from the harder end of the rock spectrum). And, even though it's fairly generic in style, everything works ever so well, with some masterful performances from the personnel involved. With the lineup completed by Babis Nikou on bass and guitarist Kosta Vreto, and some keyboards/synths arranged by the band and Angelo Vafeiades, each and every musician delivers a flawless performance in their execution of the material. Of note, Vreto's fretboard work is astounding... and even more astounding in light of the fact that he abandons conventional picking techniques with a plectrum in favour of playing the strings directly with his fingers. Riffs and his many solo spots are all incredible and, while not immediately noticeable that he's not using a plectrum, there is a very natural flow to his playing. Plectrums? Who needs 'em?! Way to go Kosta!

Maxi's vocal performance is also a highlight of 'Memories from the Future' - singing as she does with just the right balance of power and emotional expression over songs' heavier passages, and switching to a more angelic delivery over sporadic ambient moments. At times, her vocals, coupled with the music, bring to mind Sinergy, the late-90s/early-00s supergroup featuring Children of Bodom mainman Alexi Laiho alongside his then spouse, Kimberly Goss. This is rather emphatic on 'Wake Up', particularly through Maxi's vocal phrasing and delivery which sound very Goss-like. With the album produced by the lady herself and mixed and mastered by the more than capable hands of Fredrik Nordström, everything sounds rather fantastic. And while Jaded Star are obviously not out to reinvent the wheel, they're doing a damn fine job of keeping it turning.
Review by Mark Holmes
12th May 2015
1) The Mask
2) Wake Up
3) Keep on Fighting
4) Stars
5) Into the End of Time
6) Healing the Inner Child
7) You'll See
8) In Memory
9) Raining in Sao Paolo
10) Innocence
"...while Jaded Star are obviously not out to reinvent the wheel, they're doing a damn fine job of keeping it turning."