Various Artists -
Embrace The Sun

(CD 2011, 60:18/63:44, Lion Music LMC303)

The tracks:
  1- Mattsson: Mother
  2- Milan Polak: End Of Time
  3- Anthriel: Circle Of Life
  4- Airless: Second Change
  5- Dreyelands: Life Is Worth The Pain
  6- Ashent: Disappearance
  7- Mastercastle: Sakura
  8- Locomotive Breath: Rise Up
  9- Gronholm: Believe
10- Marco Sfogli: Stand Alone
11- Mindsplit: Guardian Angel
12- Missing Tide: Falling
13- Infinity Ouverture: Do You Care?
14- Jennifer Batten: Sakura Season
  1- Overdrive: New Beginning
  2- Emir Hot: Featuring The Storm
  3- Venturia: On The Brink
  4- Mistheria: Kibou
  5- Section A: Survive
  6- Status Minor: Drama
  7- Mastermind: Time Stands Still
  8- Tomorrow's Eve: Black Barren Lands
  9- Iron Mask: Sons Of The Sun
10- Astra: Voice From Within
11- Benny Jansson: Savior
12- Early Cross: Cairn
13- Winterlong: Failed Connection
14- The Lions: Embrace The Sun

Various Artists Website        Lion Music

Judging an album spread over two CDs holding twenty-eight songs from different artists, seems an almost impossible task,  but in a way Lion Music's Lars Eric Mattsson didn't make it too hard on me. Embrace The Sun is an album from which the revenues will be donated to the Japanese Red Cross in order to support those who lost so much after the earthquake and the tsunami in Japan. When the artists on the Lion Music-label were asked to donate a song, the response was overwhelming. The majority of the songs are brand-new and specially written for this compilation album.

Embrace The Sun can be roughly divided into three sections: hard rock and heavy metal bands, progressive rock bands and guitar heroes. All the artists provide us with a special song and the result is just excellent, that is, if you're an admirer of these bands or musicians. If you want to complete your music collection this album is a compulsory purchase. Bands like Ashent, Astra, Venturia and Iron Mask all presented their songs with a brand-new line-up. Milan Polak gathered some special guest musicians to perform on his contribution like top-notch instrumentalists Ron Thal (ex- Bumblefoot, now Guns And Roses) and Pete Lesperance (Harem Scarem) who play guitar alongside Polak, whilst Kip Winger (Winger) plays the bass and Dennis Leeflang (Bumblefoot) pounds the drums. The closing track of CD2 is of a guitar union named The Lions, that holds numerous guitar solos provided by some virtuoso guitarists like the aforementioned Milan Polak, Francesco Fareri, Daniel Palmqvist, Simone Fiorletta, Dave Martone, Boris Mitic, Franck Ribiere and Lars Eric Mattsson himself.

I heard some very strong compositions that immediately held my attention. Stand Alone by Marci Sfogli is a wonderful instrumental piece. Voice From Within by Astra is another pleasant surprise with a great singer. Venturia, also with new band members, made a very positive impression with On The Brink, but the song that perhaps impressed me most is Cairn by the Japanese prog rock band Early Cross, one of the new bands on the label; a nice way to complete the circle...

Apart from the fact that you support a good cause by buying this album, you'll get an inner view of the quality Lion Music holds. Different styles of music that in a way are related to each other and can easily be played by lovers of progressive rock, heavy metal or instrumental rock. I usually don't rate a compilation album, but with all the new compositions and the efforts the musicians and the label have put in it, I will donate four stars for this great initiative to support the Japanese victims.

**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)

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