Metal Bulletin Zine (est. 2006) is a metal music zine (Seattle region), online and on paper. 160 issues so far.
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Wednesday, November 4, 2015
Waken Eyes - Palisades [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO]
Below is the new video of traditional, melodic prog metal band Waken Eyes. Below you find the history of the band, as well as the review of the new album that Matt Spall, Man of Much Metal wrote.
Waken Eyes was started early 2013 by Tom Frelek after his old band had gone on hiatus. Tom was still playing in his own instrumental band but wanted to create a prog album that was heavy, melodic, cinematic and with vocals.
The inspiration for writing the album came from many different sources like: music, paintings and movies. Musically the inspiration came mainly from classical composers like Chopin, Mozart, Stravinsky and soundtrack composers like Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard, Danny Elfman and others. Tom’s inspiration, when it comes to guitar players are Joe Satriani, Paul Gilbert, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Al Di Meola, Michael Romeo, John Petrucci and B.B King.
When Tom finished writing all the demos for the album he already had musicians in mind to play on this record. Marco Minnemann was one of those guys he wanted to get after hearing him play on Paul Gilbert's spaceship one DVD. Hearing how amazingly talented Marco was struck him to send him an email with a few demos attached. He complimented the demos and agreed to play. He completely added so much life to the songs and Tom was almost in tears at one point! The rest is history!
After Marco recorded all the drums (in 3-4 days!) he sent upgraded demos to Mike Lepond of Symphony X as he’s an amazing musician. He recorded his parts fairly quickly. Needless to say Mike's playing was superb and brought the tracks to life!
As for vocals, Tom got Henrik Bath to sing on the album. Tom heard of Henrik and his band Darkwater from a good friend of his. Tom was instantly blown away by his vocal ability. He contacted Henrik and sent him the demos with Marco and Mikes' parts on them. The recording process started shortly after. The life that Henrik brought to this album is indescribable. There is so much passion and honesty in how Henrik sings. Tom had many “wow” moments when Henrik sent over his vocal takes.
The theme of the album is about being fearless and every song has something to do about fearlessness. The theme came from the struggles of everyday life that everyone deals with. How people, emotions, media, governments can enforce fear upon you to make you think a certain way to more or less control you. It's an album for those who struggle to stand up for themselves and can't let their voice be heard.
Certain songs have lyrical ideas about war, media, falling in and out of love, spirituality and faith, good and evil. To sum it up, it is an album about hope. Sounding dark at times but with hope at the end of the tunnel.
“Exodus” is a very impressive and diverse album that will surely appeal to fans of progressive metal, progrock and melodic metal. The album has a great mix of catchy melodies, challenging instrumental parts and epic cinematic movements that will surely capture the attention of the musical community. Everything comes together perfectly in the title track that ends the album with its 18 minutes long epic filled with melodies, progressive parts and a good dose of feeling.
Waken Eyes presents an impressive debut album with “Exodus”, don’t miss out!
REVIEW BY MATT SPALL
Artist: Waken Eyes
Album Title: Exodus
Label: Ulterium Records
Year Of Release: 2015
review by Matt Spall, Man of Much Metal
I don’t like the description ‘super group’; it conjures up too many negative connotations including the falsehood that the group of musicians themselves subscribe to the notion of being super or better than other bands. Occasionally, this might be the case but I find it a rarity. The other problem is that the minute a band is labelled as a super group, focus is removed from the most important thing; the music itself.
That said, if you’re a fan of the same kind of music as I am, the clientele involved in the Waken Eyes line-up is certain to get pulses racing and eyebrows more than a little raised. Formed by solo guitarist of note Tom Frelek, Waken Eyes soon took shape thanks to the additions of Darkwater’s Henrik Båth on vocals, Symphony X’s Mike LePond on bass and the prolific drummer Marco Minnemann who has appeared on several solo releases as well as alongside Steven Wilson, Ephel Duath and Joe Satriani to name just a few. As such it is difficult not to get sucked into the notion of a super group but I will refrain and instead judge ‘Exodus’, the debut from Waken Eyes on the basis of the musical output. And happily, on that score, the word ‘super’ can most definitely and legitimately be used.
Defined loosely as a melodic progressive metal band, Waken Eyes draw influences from across the rock and metal genres as well as from all corners of the musical world. These wide-ranging influences can be heard throughout an album which is definitely rich and multi-layered, with plenty of twists and turns. On a first listen, the compositions come across as deceptively simple, something that could potentially lead to the dismissal of Waken Eyes by those with short attention spans. Give ‘Exodus’ more time to unfold and the rewards are surprisingly gratifying.
The ten compositions are definitely melodic, with each containing a chorus, hook, vocal-line or bridge that will immediately grab the attention or infiltrate the subconscious in a quiet, insidious manner. The melody is generally quite understated however, as is the more ‘progressive’ element. We’re not talking polyrhythms, 15-minute instrumental passages where the musicians trade-off solos or showcase their technical abilities for the sake of it. There are instrumental passages here and there of course but these are more integrated within the songs, if that makes sense. As you’d expect, the execution is of a very high standard but the individual prowess of each musician never gets in the way of the composition. Instead, a sense of drama, complexity and ‘prog’ is created via the many layers of music, the exploration of light and shade and the injection of numerous, quite subtle different influences that all come together to create something extremely cohesive and focused. For that, the band deserves a lot of praise.
The album opens with ‘Cognition’, a four-minute instrumental composition that underlines the sense of the theatrical and the love of cinematic soundscapes. It begins quietly with a myriad of sampled sounds before a powerful drum beat joins with keys and synths as the track builds like a film score inexorably to a strong and dramatic conclusion via some rather luxurious lead guitar work from Frelek.
‘Aberration’ flows seamlessly from the opener and is a driving hard rock/metal track that’s not afraid to pull back and allow the bass of Mike LePond to dominate alongside a simple piano melody. The first notes from Båth are almost whispered but they build throughout the track. Synths are never far away, adding an atmospheric richness whenever necessary but the star of the show is the simple but oh-so effective lead guitar melody that takes centre stage throughout the first half of the track. The song then explodes into a dramatic finale again dominated but not overpowered by a virtuosic guitar solo, made all the more potent thanks to a great rhythm performance from Minnemann and LePond in particular.
Elsewhere, ‘Back To Life’ is a surprisingly emotive quasi-ballad that is book-ended by a spoken-word sample. In between, the track is complimented by a power metal-esque hook-laden chorus and an all-round execution from each member that screams quality. The vocals are particularly striking, as is the inclusion of an acoustic guitar which adds another dimension to the track and lends a slightly more mainstream edge, but in a positive manner. The piano that accompanies the spoken word intro/outro is simply beautiful; so rich and deep, it’s wonderful.
‘Palisades’ is another personal favourite. The intro is dramatic and the initial guitar and bass combo reminds me of Iron Maiden at their most introspective and broody. The synths join in to increase the atmosphere before the song explodes in pure unadulterated power metal worship. The guitar sings and is joined by some surprisingly strong head-back wailing from Båth. From there, the gears are shifted and a more straight-up hard rock vibe takes over complete with stomping rhythm and seductive swagger. Head nodding is compulsory, as is a touch of impromptu air guitar. This track is a great example of the subtle progressive nature of Waken Eyes’ music as almost imperceptibly, a myriad of different musical ideas are shoe-horned into four minutes of music without it ever feeling over done or messy; everything flows as it should, everything feels natural and before you know it, the track is at an end.
Each track more or less maintains this high quality. ‘Cornerstone’ is another ballad of sorts with a prominent acoustic guitar, emotional lead lines and another impassioned performance from Bath, who is joined by a female vocalist with whom he duets to nice effect. The instrumental composition ‘Still Life’ has an almost country rock vibe which I surprisingly rather like in spite of myself whilst ‘Arise’ sees Waken Eyes at their most extreme, with an occasional thrash metal edge to the choppy rhythm guitars and a harsher vocal delivery at times, albeit interspersed with quieter, more dreamlike sequences.
‘Exodus’ is then brought to a close via the 18 minute epic title track which pulls everything that Waken Eyes does well into one gloriously indulgent composition. The cinematic and theatrical elements are reprised in all their splendour, spoken-word samples make a return, the track ebbs and flows from all-out power to subtle, gentle restraint with ease and it is here that the band do indulge ever so slightly and showcase their considerable musical prowess. Nevertheless, the track remains cohesive and enjoyable throughout its many twists and turns and it’s a very strong conclusion to a highly commendable debut album, one that sees four musicians of note come together and create a soundtrack to match the hype and expectation that a collaboration of this nature is sure to bring with it. To be honest, this is a rarity but Messrs Frelek, LePond, Båth and Minnemann have delivered the goods. As such, ‘Exodus’ is certainly one of the melodic progressive highlights of the year. Who needs the term ‘super group’ when the music itself is super?
The Score Of Much Metal: 8.5
Waken Eyes - Palisades [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO]
Read more of Matt Spall’s reviews and interviews at: