Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Deep Purple; Spheron: classic prog and prog death metal

Deep Purple: "Now What?!"
It took a few listens to understand a bit of what goes on with Deep Purple in 2013.
I recommend that the listener give time to this album, much time, to let it do what it will. Listen to it, and then come back to it a few days later and listen to it more (or bits of it), and after a few weeks of doing that, the different parts of the album will start to assemble themselves in your mind. That's what happened to me; maybe it will be that way in your case, maybe not.
The album is progressive rock, classic rock, proto metal, metal and blues all rolled into the Deep Purple sound. The music is made by senior citizens; it is not a "rocking" album. Regardless of that, the singing sounds good as only Ian Gillan can, the production is clear, crisp, and lively. The keyboards are loud and upfront, the guitar is proggy, melodic and bluesy; and the rhythm section sounds jamming and vibing.
Deep Purple in 2013 is music for people with patience, and who listen to Deep Purple because they trust the musicianship of the band, given that Deep Purple is the personification of the living history of rock music.
It is midtempo, but the creativity is there, the songwriting, unique, and the talent, undeniable.
Personally, I wish it were more rocking. I don't have the total patience to listen to a complete album of old rock in a single sitting. However, I do appreciate that Deep Purple is not trying to prove that they "still got it like back in the day" nor is this a reunion of some sort, nor an attempt to replicate a previous sound/album, such as pandering to the audience or the market. It is the 2013 version of Deep Purple, senior citizens continuing on the legendary musical trajectory, doing their jams.
Recommended for fans of old prog rock, classic rock, proto metal, and just generally old rock. Recommended for listeners that check out all Deep Purple music, not just a specific time period, album or lineup.
Spheron (Germany): "Ecstasy of God"
This album also took a few listens to comprehend. The blasting barrage that is Spheron at first overwhelms with technicality, prowess and high volume.
After the impact of the blasting death metal wears off a little and the dust settles a bit, a better view of the music emerges.
The guttural vocals, the heaviness of the riffing and the blasting drumming are the foundation for the band's sound, but there is more to it than just that: the guitar soloing and the riffing are both melodic, skillful and catchy (but inside a whirlwind chaos and technicality, "melodic" in that particular context).
For instance, "Clasp the Thorns" shows quite a bit of dark melody, clean guitar sounds and finger-bending soloing. Once I listened to the song more carefully, I started to see the work and imagination that is involved in Spheron.
Cold, brutal, technical is the working thesis of Spheron, but with a balance with the songwriting that non-musicians can enjoy and understand: speed, melody and segments with various moods (not just blind speeding).
The band sounds experienced, not just enthusiastic, which they also do. This is their proper debut, with a 2008 demo and 2010 EP previously. It has taken them a while to get to this point, but it appears that with some time they were able to pause and reflect about what music to make.
Playing fast is fun, but they do have other important elements to their sound.
Spheron, unfortunately, uses that clinical, "perfect" production so dominant in "modern death metal," so the drums sound relatively plastic/electronic. Compared to the drum sound of the Deep Purple album, Spheron has too much a "perfect" drum sound (too much like: not the sound of real drums).
I wonder how this would sound with a more natural drum sound!
To end: Spheron has totally impressed me with their maturity in the songwriting. They sound wise beyond their years. Totally recommended for the listeners into technical/blasting death metal and perhaps more broadly, death metal and black metal with good guitar playing.

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