Saturday, October 26, 2019

review: Karyn Crisis' Gospel of the Witches

Karyn Crisis' Gospel of the Witches
Aural Music
25 October 2019
Sound: Karyn Crisis (vocalist for Crisis in the 1990s and 2000s; and Ephel Duath 2011-2014) and Davide Tiso (Howling Sycamore; Ephel Dual 1998-2014) return for a second album to follow up the 2015 debut. The main thing that potential customers need to know is that this is, compared to the vast majority of metal albums, a work that stands apart from the music that fits squarely within a particular genre. Overall, this is a melancholic, gothic, dark ambient progressive album. “Progressive,” of course, is not a specific genre, but more like varied ways of doing aesthetics. Expect not a genre, but more along the lines of a pretty unique listening experience.
Production: The production team went for a rather organic electric rock sound in which the instruments have room to breathe and to be heard. The overall production vibe, if anything, has more in common with 1970s progressive rock in the sense of freedom, but the sound is contemporary, not retro.
Instrumentation: Davide Tiso’s guitar work has always often on the progressive and avant-garde side of things, and it tends to go its independent way, shying away from fitting into a particular genre. On this album, that is still true, of course. For instance, this is not uptempo rock power chord music, but there’s a variety of moods, and in some spots, there are some harder-edged moments. For instance, songs 1, 5, 7 and 8 feature heaviness and extreme vocals. On the other hand, in some segments the guitar is a gentle breeze (song 9), a melodic metal vibe (song 2), and in general the guitar is remarkably accessible while maintaining an atmospheric, somber feel.
The second thing that must not be ignored is the unique drumming on the album. The drum sound is very warm to the ear. It looks like Karyn Crisis and Davide Tiso are on the same page with Fabian Vestod (Skinlab). The drums sound real, the cymbals also sound real (kind of noisy, in a good, nice, non-computerized way). Stylistically, what people call world music and tribal rhythm drumming seem to have a good part in how the beats come across. It’s not typical rock/metal drumming at all. Feel, mood, atmosphere, rhythm, and emotion, and heavy and lighter moments, are some of the most characteristic traits of the drumming.
Vocals: Karyn Crisis, as the vocalist for Crisis, had some of the most rabidly furious lyrics that you will ever hear (for evidence check out the 1994 album), and the thing about it is that it sounded real. It was really angry and was obscene because it was raging anger, like a temper tantrum put to music, like on the 1994 album. The screaming, hollering and singing was a compelling form of metal/hardcore at the time. Decades later, in what seems like lifetimes ago, the vocal style features a lot more singing, although there is a little bit of extreme vocals in a few selected spots. On this album, expect melancholic singing, some gentle crooning, but older fans familiar with Crisis will certainly notice that the singing voice has changed yet still sounds familiar in tone and personality. The singing sounds unmistakably like Karyn Crisis.
Songs: This album is song-focused. The only warning that people need to know is that the album requires a bit more patience than genre-specific music. For instance, if you know that an album is technical death metal or thrash, then the listener already knows what they are getting. This is not how this album works. Give it a few spins, and come back to it over the course of a week, but after that, the tunes will make a lot of sense as songs.
Lyrics: Repeated listens do not reveal any prominent profanities, if there are any (The band Crisis has some of most cursing ever, of course) (FYI: This reviewer does not have access to the new lyrics, so this is not a guarantee). This is a contrast with the old days when the music seemed appropriate for adults only. A Karyn Crisis album that metal soccer moms and dads can play in the minivan without worrying about the whole lot of cursing in the music?! That’s a nice contrast. The themes of the album, we could say, are spiritual in nature. The old political rage is still there, but it is expressed in a much more poetic, transformed way. No, there is no obvious ranting and raving as in the old Crisis days, rather love and enlightenment seem at the center of the lyrical themes.
Potential audience: Fans of melodic doom, gothic metal, progressive metal, ambient metal, and post-metal are just some of the people that, if they give the album the time to grow, may find it an interesting work.
Similar bands: While it is difficult to name similar bands, in metal music, here and there, there are bands and albums that have come at somewhat similar vibes. For instance, Tristania’s album Ashes (2005), does in some ways, have some general similarities, if we understand that it was a long time ago, and in a different style.
Assessment: Perhaps the best thing about the album is the balance between making a genre-free unique work and making the music comprehensible to the audience. The album is accessible, and song-centered, not an exercise in attempting to confuse the listener. That is good news, indeed.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Washington State band: NORTHERN BASTARD

These Washington State good fellas go by the name NORTHERN BASTARD. Believe it or not, they are threatening to make new music. Threat alert! Threat alert! On Bandcamp their most recent music is from 2013. Right now it is the year 2019. Let me think about it for a bit here. Let me grab my calculator and crunch the numbers. I'm punching in the calculations right now, and ... oh, man, my calculator just quit. Ok, well, let me try counting using my hands ... Ah, yes, 2013, that's more than two years if we take into account that today is 2019. So maybe Christmas is going to be all about the gift that keeps giving back: NORTHERN BASTARD. That's a name for winners, not whiners.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Washington State band: CYCLES OF THE DAMNED

CYCLES OF THE DAMNED is a new band in the Washington State, U.S., but the members used to be in Black Bone Exorcism, so this is in some important ways a continuation of that doomed heaviness. Having said, check it out: CYCLES OF THE DAMNED has a new album out this month of October, 2019. Fans of the sludgy heaviness will find something to investigate here. Sit back, take your time, this is going to be a long ride that die-hard doom fanatics will be interested in seeing to the end. Listen to the album A Time To Survive at the link below. Here is some official information about the band.
Seattle, Washington based trio CYCLES OF THE DAMNED successfully create a visceral experience sewn into intensely heavy and dark music. Showcasing a life experience in today's world with malicious guitar onslaughts, hypnotic primeval rhythms, and despondently somber interludes, CYCLES OF THE DAMNED create the necessary chaos to violently break through the human subtopia of mediocrity into a new world with fresh, open eyes.
Members Dave Krone (Guitars/Vocals), Mike Lee (Bass/Vocals), and Keith Greer (Percussion) evolved past their original formation as Black Bone Exorcism, leaping forth from those years of musical craft and now rise to a higher level of heavy music.
CYCLES OF THE DAMNED invite you into their realm to hear their debut release 'A TIME TO SURVIVE', coming on October 12th, from Incineration Ceremony Recordings, the brainchild label of the legendary Tad Doyle. The trio of COTD continue their consistent message of roaring riffs, demolishing drums and bass, and creatively disturbing ambient landscaping to defy the boundaries of our vision of dystopia.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

coming in November new music from WHAT WE DO IN SECRET

Facedown Records has announced that WHAT WE DO IN SECRET will have a new album on the 22 of November, 2019. To get an idea of the new music by the band, check out the track below. Also included below is some official information regarding the new album and the band. Fans of contemporary post-2000 American metal in the style of metalcore, scream/sing, and melodic/groove metal should be interested in what's going to be coming down the line in November from WHAT WE DO IN SECRET. This is just the beginning.
What We Do In Secret
Facedown Records
22 November 2019
Between the dichotomies of life – aggression and peace, darkness and light, love and chaos – sits a dissonant space where the truth exists, for those who have the courage to find it. Positioned right in the middle of that dissonance is What We Do In Secret, a Memphis metalcore band that has leveraged aggression to find peace, explored darkness to find light, and committed to love in a world drenched in chaos.
Since its inception in 2012, What We Do In Secret has collected stories and wrestled with them on stage through unyielding, expressive songwriting, a loud and raw sonic backdrop, and a wild live show. Without shying away from issues that have the potential to divide and polarize a room, WWDIS leaves their mark on every space they play, sealed and delivered with relentless jump kicks and stage dives that create community in motion. Every song, every riff, every show and every encounter is part of a conversation about what it means to be human and what it means to be loved.
What We Do In Secret follows their previous EP, The Migration, with a full-length studio album, Repose, set to release November 22, via Facedown Records. Unafraid of sonic evolution, the band has extracted melodic space from album to album, while still holding true to their hard-hitting, guitar-driven sound, passionate delivery and poetic lyricism. Their music is both grounded and visceral, both confident and pleading, and both finished and incomplete – answered in full only by the total surrender of art for life.
What We Do In Secret - "918"

in case you missed it: Demon Hunter music in 2019

This year Demon Hunter has two albums: WAR and PEACE on Solid State Records. Just in case you missed it, here are two official videos from Demon Hunter 2019. Below is the Facebook biography.
Demon Hunter is an American metal institution. For nearly two decades, Demon Hunter has weathered the changing tides of rock subculture, proving ever resistant to trends, and ever resilient, making music as determined and resolute as the men within the band.
In 2019 the band unveiled not one but two brand new full-length albums on the same day. War is filled with aggression and Peace doubles down on melody; both are dynamic and diverse standalone offerings. They are linked most prominently by release date and a plainspoken theme: “War in every breath / Peace in only death.” Demon Hunter’s ninth and tenth studio albums arrived just two years after Outlive, which debuted at #1 Independent, #2 Rock Music, #2 Hard Music, #8 Current Albums, and #25 on the Billboard 200 charts. “Raining Down” remained #1 at Christian Rock radio for over 9 weeks. Like Outlive (2017) and Extremist (2014), War and Peace were produced by the band’s own Jeremiah Scott and mixed by Zeuss (Rob Zombie, Queensrÿche, Hatebreed). Singer Ryan Clark, a Grammy nominated designer who has worked on album projects for Alice In Chains and Foo Fighters, once again spearheaded the look and feel.
As a headlining act, Demon Hunter helped introduce audiences to bands like August Burns Red. They’ve co-headlined with Red and toured as direct support for both In Flames and As I Lay Dying in the United States and parts of Canada. They’ve traveled to South America, Europe, and Australia, headlining major festivals and club shows alike.
Clark was on the cover of Revolver as part of their “Holy Alliance” feature in 2006, alongside the frontmen for Underoath, As I Lay Dying, and Norma Jean. He’s been invited to record guest vocals on songs released by Five Finger Death Punch and Anberlin, to name just a few.
Demon Hunter’s dedicated supporters and allies around the world wear the group’s symbol, lyrics, and album imagery on their shirts, denim vests, backpacks, and uniforms, and in many cases, on their skin. The band has engaged their fans in direct, authentic and personal terms for years, since long before such efforts were seen as “strategy.”
The group’s extended family around the world cherish Demon Hunter songs as personal anthems, instruments of empowerment, using them to mark chapters in their lives both good and bad, in celebration and in mourning, from weddings to funerals. Songs like “I Am a Stone,” “Not Ready to Die,” “Carry Me Down,” “Collapsing,” “LifeWar,” and “Fading Away” continue to resonate with fans, even as each successive album elicits ever more fervor from the band’s fierce, loyal supporters.
Ryan and his brother, former guitarist Don Clark, created Demon Hunter after the turn of the millennium, unleashing a self-titled first album backed by a still shadowy and enigmatic lineup in 2002, assembling a touring lineup that introduced Jonathan Dunn as bassist.
Summer of Darkness broke through in the metal, hardcore, and Christian rock scenes in 2004, with MTV2 rotation for “Not Ready to Die” and a spot on the Resident Evil: Apocalypse soundtrack helping push it past 100,000 in sales. Yogi was a fulltime member by the time they released The Triptych, which sold close to 150,000 copies in the U.S.; 2007’s Storm The Gates Of Hell crossed the 100,000 mark as well.
Judge toured on that record as lead guitarist, officially joining in 2009 with Live in Nashville. The World Is A Thorn (2010) debuted with first week sales of 14,000 as “Collapsing” became their highest charting song at metal and specialty radio. True Defiance (2012) broke into Billboard’s Top 40. Extremist was yet another milestone, with first week sales of over 18,000. It also produced the SiriusXM Octane hit “The Last One Alive.” That song and album cuts like “I Will Fail You,” “The Heart of a Graveyard,” and “Artificial Light” generated over 20 million streams.
Defying market trends and genre expectations, Outlive debuted to even stronger sales than its predecessors. Newer songs “Cold Winter Sun” and “Died in My Sleep” became live favorites, as the band performed at Chicago Open Air (with Ozzy Osbourne, KISS), Heavy Montreal (Marilyn Manson, Gojira, Trivium), and headlined festivals like Rock The Desert, Uprise Fest, and Germany’s Loud & Proud Fest.
War and Peace embody a stunning creative achievement, mining the depths of the band’s past, present, and future with unbridled ambition. “On My Side” and “Peace” saw the band back on SiriusXM. Spotify quickly placed both songs in several influential tastemaker playlists.
Demon Hunter’s musical identity is forged from diverse elements that coalesce into a singular electric charge, merging seemingly disparate sound with seamless agility: the energy of America’s thrash metal legends; the catchiness of Europe’s melodic death metal innovators; the gloomy atmospheric majesty of gothic rock; the song craft of dark romantic pop; and the fist-pumping aggression of Southern groove.
Demon Hunter’s body of work is born from unwavering commitment, uncompromising creative determination, and stark recognition of the reality of an often-cold world, tempered in defiant hope. It’s made up of smartly constructed, confessional lyrics; heady and catchy melody; monster riffs; bottom heavy grooves; the collision of meticulous production and urgent raw power; bold imagery and bolder themes.
Demon Hunter- "On My Side"
Demon Hunter - "The Negative"

Friday, October 18, 2019

This is Эпитафияb from Russia)

Check out Эпитафия (Epitaph in Russian) from Moscow, Russia. Here is some translated information about the band. Russian speakers will notice that the translation is not perfect! Anyway, check out the video and take it from there.
Russian Modern Metal Band, formed in 2000 in Moscow by bass player and sound producer Ivan Mikhailov - ex bass player gr. Black coffee
Russian rock band working in the genres Modern-Metal, Alternative, Hard Rock, formed in 2000 in Moscow by bass player and sound producer Ivan Mikhailov (ex. Bass player of the “Black Coffee” group), working with groups Kipelov, Master, the golden composition of the Cruise, etc.
Российский Modern Metal Band, образованный в 2000 году в Москве бас-гитаристом и саунд-продюсером Иваном Михайловым - ex бас-гитарист гр. Черный Кофе
Российская рок-группа, работающая в жанрах Modern-Metal, Alternative, Hard Rock, образованна в 2000-м году в Москве бас-гитаристом и саунд-продюсером Иваном Михайловым (ex. бас-гитаристом гр. “Черный Кофе”), работающим с группами Кипелов, Мастер, золотым составом Круиза и др.
Премьера! Эпитафия — Время (Официальное видео)

upcoming in November: SECOND TO SUN (RUSSIA)

On the 7th of November, 2019 SECOND TO SUN will have ready the new album "LEGACY." Go to the link below to hear two news and to watch a video for the album. Vladimir from the band has this to say: "I'm proud to present you our new album named "Legacy", which is even more aggressive and heavier than previous one, but it still retained melodic, hypnotic and cinematic qualities of its predecesor. "Legacy" is logically divided into three idealogical archs: one dedicated to social solitude, occult part, which is closely intertwined with actual historical events and traditional part of our music, which is based on culture of Finno-Ugric people. We see it as a trilogy unified by a sole idea, which was earlier described as social black metal (black metal about social decay and absurdism in society, about cognitive dissonances between the conceptions of personality in our society and meanings of life). All tracks are undoubtedly our legacy, which is the foundation for album's name. Brilliant artwork for both version of release, created by Denis "Forkas" Kostromitin, who also worked with such bands like Behemoth and Children of Bodom. We live in incredible time, when a band like our can exist without support from psychopatic musical industry and shortlived trends. Our music simply exists because there are people, who listen to it. Thank you for your attention and support."
Second to Sun
November 7th, 2019
1.Devil 05:39
2.Confessional of the Black Penitent 06:03
3.Pages for a Manuscript 10:33
4.Monster 05:05
5.No Need to Be Afraid Now 05:04
6.Once upon a Time in Russia 06:02
7.Raida 05:23
8.Me or Him 2020 03:54
9.Virgo Mitt 2020 04:07
total time 51:50

review: Secret Chapter

Secret Chapter
Chapter One
Crime Records
Sound: The Secret Chapter (Norway) debut album is traditional heavy metal with melodic, smooth singing.
Production: The overall sound quality is good and contemporary, in the sense that you hear the instruments and the singing. The only problem is the stiff, lifeless sound of the sampled drumming. In addition, because it does not sound like human drumming, you hear two things only, basically: the bass drum and the snare drum. The cymbals are barely there. In short, bring back the drummer.
Instrumentation: The bass guitar gives a nice bottom end to the album. There are keyboards (not power metal symphonic keyboards; but rather more in the style of classic rock) for background feeling. The riffs are classic-style, drawing from classic rock and traditional heavy metal inspirations. The soloing is also good, melodic and traditional.
Vocals: On some occasions, there is some high screaming, but it’s not a lot. In general, the singing is smooth and with some layering for that extra melodic feel. The soft keyboards and the smooth singing make the music very appealing for fans of classic rock/heavy rock/heavy metal and melodic hard rock. The band is more like 1980s Scorpions than the screaming metal of Judas Priest.
Songs: All the songs are meant to sound like fan favorites. The band sticks to uptempo, fun, concise songs. The quality of the songs is good and there is no sense of filler tracks.
Lyrics: Life, rock and roll, relationships and similar matters are the topics of the music. There are no obvious or prominent profanities, if there are any. They have some lyrics that are similar to sleaze rock, talking about sin city and love affairs, without trying to shock and be fake “edgy,” without the cheese/stupidity of the American bands from the 1980s.
Potential audience: Fans of traditional, melodic heavy metal should be the main demographic as the target audience.
Similar bands: The band is closer to Dio and Scorpions, than say the harder, more steeled sounds of Judas Priest and Accept.
Assessment: The album ends with a cover of the long-running Norwegian veterans TNT, “Everyone’s a Star,” a catchy song if there ever was one, featuring the immaculate high voice of Tony Harnell, when the American used to sing for TNT. The cover is a good example of Secret Chapter’s intended style of melodic heavy metal. Of course, it is almost impossible for any singer to match the young Tony Harnell’s flawless voice, but kudos to Secret Chapter for making the effort to run with the big boys. The album should be a fun, rocking discovery for fans. The good songwriting and the skills are convincing. The music is so good that anyone into traditional rock music would find something in it to like from the singing, the guitars and the accessible songs. With human drumming the songs would have more groove and spirit, but the problem of mechanical-like drumming is not specific to this band, as it is a generalized problem in rock and metal music. To sum up, the songs on the album show the attention and care that has gone in coming up with a classy, memorable and catchy album that with repeated listens becomes more difficult to abandon.

review: Xoth

Interdimensional Invocations
18 October 2019
1.Casting the Sigil 04:52
2.Mountain Machines 03:53
3.Back to the Jungle 05:06
4.Unseen Abductor 04:58
5.Haruspex 04:24
6.Plague Revival 20XX 05:27
7.The Ghost Hand of God 03:47
8.Melted Face of the Soul 06:43
total time 39:10
Washington State’s Xoth is made up of skilled and experienced musicians in extreme metal. In 2019 they follow up their 2014 EP and the 2016 album with a second full-length of their own brand of “space shred,” as they like to call their headbanging technical/progressive catchy recipe of thrash/death/black/heavy metal virtuosity.
The team of recording people and the band have something good going on. Xoth and team work to achieve clarity. The music often sounds like technical progressive melodic black thrash, if that makes sense, and there is a serious effort to let fans hear the instruments. For instance, for any metal musician or fan that has ever complained that they cannot hear the bass guitar in extreme metal, then listen to this album and find out for yourself. This is fast extreme metal, but there is some nasty, mean bass guitar all over this thing, and it's a thing of beauty. As for the drums, this publication cannot confirm if what we hear on the album is the real drums that the drummer played in the studio, or if it’s sampled drumming.
The best thing about Xoth’s instrumentation is that they have awesome skills, experience and talents and all those things, but it is not so show-off that you cannot follow it. It’s a happy medium in which these mad weirdo geniuses of metal are aware that most of us mortals have limited patience and intelligence. You can show off a little bit, but don’t get too crazy because there are other bands competing for your attention and if yours cannot hold my attention, I will find one that does. This band understands this dilemma very well. As a result, the band is happy and so are the listeners. Having said, just remember that Xoth is going to put on a clinic for how to play technical/progressive extreme metal and make it comprehensible for headbangers.
The vocalist is either Gollum ("My precious!") or Gollum's sibling. The vocals are black metal. There is death metal growling, too, but by far it is the black metal vocals that you will remember. As for the lyrics, this band has a fascination with ancient cataclysmic events, like volcanoes and earthquakes wiping out everything in sight, and ancient diseases destroying life on a massive scale and then that virus goes dormant under the icebergs only to reappear again when the ice melts and that disease once again wipes everything out. Alien machinery on other planets, alien machinery on this planet, giant octopuses travelling through space and time, and things like that are what this band writes about. It's both morbid, dorky, sciencey, science, and science fiction. Unfortunately, they shoot themselves in the foot by making their lyrics R and X rated, and they do curse, so you’ll have to consider that.
The best thing about Xoth is that they know how to rock out. They may be deranged metal scientists, but man, these nerds know to make music for a mosh pit!

review: Profane Order

Profane Order
Slave Morality
Sentient Ruin/Krucyator Productions/Les Fleurs du Mal Productions
October 18 2019
Sound: Canada’s Profane Order is socially irredeemable barbaric extreme metal made to sound as bestial as possible, with a shock rock approach that only the die-hard raw extreme metal audiences will be able to stomach.
Production: Clean, lean, and clinically perfect is the total opposite of the objective at hand here. To hear the music you will have to turn it up loud. When you do that, you will hear a barrage of fast, blasting metal coming your way.
Instrumentation: In a communication with this publication Profane Order’s Illusory has said about the drums: “As for the drums it’s all real. It’s a standard kit, two toms, hit hat, ride and two crashes. Most songs were done in one take while others 2-4 tries.”
Illusory, in addition, explained: “While profane order is a full band for the latest album is performed mostly by myself, illusory. Guitars, solos, drums, bass, vocals and keyboards were all performed by illusory. Second guitar tracks and half the solos were performed by our old guitarist T.G.”
Listeners should not expect to hear lots of keyboards, either. In some spots you might hear a little bit in the background, but that’s about it.
Vocals: The vocals are mostly a low-brutal savage growl. It is not a restrained nor monotonous kind of growl but rather aggressive/angry. The vocals have reverb on them for that caveman feel. There are some spots where the vocals have obviously been modified for that extra monstrous vibe.
Songs: Granted, things go at warp speed on this album, but you’d be surprised that, once you settle down to listen to this thing, the songs are chock full with the attitude of rock and roll. It’s not experimental tracks. There is a fun and crazy side to this extreme metal, expressed in simple savagery, speed and brutality.
Lyrics: If there is a religious agenda, that’s not clear here, but there is a joy in being contrarian to what society considers good values and morals. In a way, you could say, there is, above all, a huge misanthropic expression towards institutions.
Potential audience: Fanatics of what is nothing but bestial extreme metal (taking the speed and simplicity of the rawest punk and metal) should find a good time here.
Similar bands: Some bands that have specialized in this type barbarism are Blasphemy, Revenge, Black Witchery and others like those. This is the heritage of Motör-head/Venom, the very early sounds of bands like Sodom, Hellhammer, Mantas, Bathory, Sepultura, Sarcófago, and nowadays Profane Order takes all that extemity and pushes it as far as they can.
Assessment: The appeal of the music is limited by the shock rock nature of extreme metal and by the sheer velocity at which this is performed, but if extreme metal audiences listen with their ears (not their eyes), this music does make sense. You may not remember the songs immediately, not at first anyway, but this is all done with the best intentions of metal: songs to get you up from your seat and make you bang your head. Isn’t that rush of surging energy what you came here for?!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Washington State band: The Crüd Güns

The Crüd Güns will be the first to tell you that they are jackasses. They play jackass metal. They're addicts, registered offenders, have done time at the local county jail, and the police already know them by name when they see them turning tricks in the streets.
The Crüd Güns are a bunch metal punks, and the State of Washington is home to these malcontents. Vote for The Crüd Güns to be the official mascots of Washington State!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Washington State: Cascadian Lightfall

Check out Cascadian Lightfall from Washington State, USA.
"Cascadian Lightfall is a solo project of Halcyon. It functions as the companion to Last Redoubt. It aims to bring the vibe of Cascadia into musical form through ambient electronics and black metal."
Cascadian Lightfall October 14 at 5:20 AM ·
I was going to wait till Friday to publish this, but after a late night working on the mix, I figured I would start the day off with a surprise for all of you! Here is "Seven Crowns of Sunrise". the New Cascadian Lightfall album! It's much shorter, and more of a "metal" album than Astral Rains, but I think it's still very me. On a side note: while my music is "Name Your Price", I have a couple live dates this year performing my dungeon synth/dark ambient and it would mean a heck of a lot if you helped support me with a buck or two if you can spare it for this release, and feel free to share as you see appropriate. If times are tough, as always, feel free to enter 0.
I hope this starts Monday on a cool, positive note!
Best Regards,

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

review: Hot Breath

Hot Breath Hot Breath
The Sign Records
18 October 2019
Sound: The Swedish band Hot Breath plays classic-style, real-deal heavy rock, something like 1977-1979, with a constant, stubborn, persistent uptempo beat and the guitar is always functioning on the mode “big rock on.”
Production: Hot Breath wants the sound of genuine, honest electric heavy rock of the late 1970s, with real drums, big riffs and a whole big sweaty feel like an intense bar band that will play the pubs in Iowa, New York, London, Rio, Berlin or right in your neighborhood.
Instrumentation: Expect a vibrant energy of big rock and roll. Mosh, dance, bang your head or whatever you want to the big riffs and raucous solos. The rhythm section sounds great. You can hear the bass and the drums sound great and real. The band has confirmed to this publication: “All the drumming on the recordings are played live by a real human being.” There you go, straight from the horse’s mouth.
Vocals: The voice is good, and keep in mind that this is a young band and this is their debut. The singing is full of heavy rock attitude and a great energy. There is a bit of backing vocals, but it’s mostly one voice rocking out.
Songs: In 22 minutes the band delivers six rocking, catchy songs. The songs are concise and get to the rocking right away.
Lyrics: The lyrics are all about human problems and the attitude of a young indestructible rocker. These are a young person’s lyrics, the lyrics of a go-getter, basically. If there are any profanities, they are not prominent.
Potential audience: Metal fans and heavy rock fans that want the young energy of late 1970s big rock should find what they need here.
Similar bands: AC/DC 1977 Let There Be Rock; Motörhead’s Overkill (but only the uptempo songs; not the bluesy songs); The Ramones; Van Halen 1978; the rocking songs of The Runaways, Kiss (when they rocked; not the disco stuff), Scorpions 1977, U.F.O., and other bands from around this period, too many to mention here.
Assessment: This is a hot rocking debut for fans who want uptempo late 1970s classic, heavy, hard rock; punk and heavy metal, all before the 1980s. This debut keeps the music uptempo and rocking for the duration. It’s a fantastic start for them. Let’s hope they don’t wimp out nor slow down. We are not ready for this band to start giving us sappy ballads. Let there be rock, indeed.


This summer PIRATES IN BLACK sent in a copy of their debut. Below are three pictures for you to check it out. The band says: "The album will be officially released by NOV-29-2019 in Germany, Austria and Switzerland (physical), and worldwide (digital via the usual channels). It took us about a year to record and produce the album. Now we are more than happy with the result." Below you will find an interview with the band, just in case you have not seen it before.
interview: Pirates in Black
The old, classic ways are alive in the form of Pirates in Black (Germany). The band does not even care about what label people put on the music and they just call themselves heavy rock, as heavy metal was known in the early days before the craziness of the genres, subgenres and subsubgenres and that stuff. Pirates in Black for the old at heart, whether you are young or not so much a spring chicken. It does not matter, this is music you can understand easily because the purpose is to rock, and nothing else. Ahoy, mateys! All aboard!
Friends, who is Pirates in Black and how many recordings do you have?
Hi, my name is Falo Faltu and I am the founder (and the Captain) of the PIRATES IN BLACK. I’m the lead singer, play guitar, and wrote all of our songs so far. And I’m very pleased to answer your questions.
The PIRATES IN BLACK formed as a band in late 2016. That was the time when I thought the songs I had written and recorded back in those days should be played live. I asked my friend and drummer Hans Heringer (serving on board of our pirate ship as a Powder Monkey) to join the band. Hans used to play the drums for many years in the band UNIVERSE which you might now as a long time established melodic hard rock band from Germany. On bass we have the Gunner, Carl Clover. I used to play together with Carl back in the early 90’s in our band LYVE WYRE (some great kind of heavy hard rock, though we didn’t get far). And the other guitar is played by the Quartermaster, Accu Becher. In fact, Accu heard about the project, the PIRATES IN BLACK, quite incidentally, and asked me if he could join us. He was a well known guitar player in our local community, with great skills, and a long experience in various local bands. So I was more than happy about his request. And here we are: Four old school rockers, who payed their dues in many ways, with the passion for heavy rock music, and the strong urge to let the good times roll, again! We are Pirates! Ready for plundering. Stealing riffs wherever we can. Destroying them. And devastating the stages with all of our might. And – yes – we do not take it all too seriously! :-)
Back to your questions: The songs available on Bandcamp (and on our website are part of our first album “Pirates In Black” which is going to be released in May. The album will consist of 10 songs (and a bonus track).
How much experience do you have?
Yes. As I mentioned before all of us look back at a long history of playing in different bands. Some of them were (heavy) cover bands. Others played their own songs. All of our former bands played hard and heavy rock. Today Hans and I use to be members of a heavy cover band called BANDOXX. Accu plays guitar in another band of that kind, called MEDLEY CRUE. We all live in Germany in the region around Wuppertal, called Bergisches Land. The next bigger cities are Cologne, Dusseldorf and Dortmund.
Honestly, playing music in a band is not our main profession (although we would describe our musical skills as semi-professional). All four of us are self-employed which gives us the flexibility to play gigs, shows, and festivals whenever we are given the chance to. Until today we played shows in a circle of about 100 miles around Wuppertal. But this will change soon since we are already booked for a gig in Northern Germany. And we keep spreading the word for sure!
What is the inspiration for your band in 2019? For example, do you like the old Running Wild pirate-loving music? What about 1980s music like Ozzy, Accept, Faithful Breath, Scorpions and similar bands? What about 1970s?
Yes, we are grey headed bloody old bastards :-) Our musical roots go back to the 70’s and 80’s. I am very much inspired by Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath, but also by Zakk Wylde and his Black Label Society. AC/DC and Motörhead, of course. I love Whitesnake, especially when John Sykes played the guitar (and btw I give a sh*t on Steve Vai’s humpty dumpty fiddeling). And yes, Accept was also a great band from Germany. Did you know that Udo Dirkschneider, the former singer of Accept, was born in Wuppertal? Fun fact: We recorded the vocals of our album in the studio of Udo’s brother Peter Dirkschneider (also known as the singer of Vanize). He was also in charge for the mix of the songs.
Of course, we know Running Wild’s “Under The Jolly Roger”. But believe it or not, I only got aware of that song way after I founded the PIRATES IN BLACK. Anyhow, great (and funny!) song!
Have the German rock publications done any reviews of your music? Is there a market for your music in Germany? I mean, rock fans in Germany still love Scorpions, Judas Priest and Ozzy, right?
In fact, this one is our first serious interview. So you deserve all the credits to be the one who had the PIRATES IN BLACK beforehand of all the others :-) We are still at the very beginning. We are not signed by a label right now, but have to manage all of the PR stuff on our own. Which is fun but also very time consuming. We had some air plays recently, on rock stations like Pure Sound Radio, Metal Only, and Metal Devastation Radio. And we have been listed as a newcomer band on the website of Radio BOB, which is one of the two major rock radio stations in Germany. So I think we are on a good way, but there is still much more way to go.
I have the impression that most of the other newcomer bands are much more into metal, growling, playing faster, than we are. On the other hand those old school guys like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, KISS, even Saxon, and of course Ozzy, are undergoing a kind of revival today. If you take a look at Wacken (the biggest heavy metal festival in Germany) you will find that the kids still go crazy about classic heavy rock. So – back to the question – yes, I think there is still a niche (a market?) for classic heavy rock like we are celebrating it. To undermine this: We took part in a newcomer band contest last year (called the SPH Bandcontest) and made it to the region final (which will take place in September this year). So there must be definitely at least some interest in our kind of music.
“Words Are Loaded Guns” is the first song. It has a cool heavy big midtempo riff that is the basis of the song. The drumming is grooving and the guitar solo is a nice blues-based melodic segment. What is the story behind the song?
The title “Words Are Loaded Guns” is a citation of the French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre. For me, it means that people don’t need real guns, or any violence at all, to change the system they are living in, or at least to force the current leaders to resign. We had the so called “peaceful revolution” in Germany in 1989 where the people in the streets peacefully protested against the socialist system of the German Democratic Republic, and the system collapsed with not even one shot out of a gun. This is one aspect of it. The other thing about it is what we are experiencing with leaders today who try to cut the rights of the free press, calling them “fake news”, knowing, fearing, and using that in fact “Words are loaded guns”.
After the midpaced song “Words Are Loaded Guns”, you respond with a faster tune called “Pirates in Black”. When you all formed the band, what did you imagine that Pirates in Black would be as a sound? Pirates are outlaws. Do you feel like you are outlaws playing music that goes against the grain in Germany? I do not know what music is popular in Germany! I don’t know if Rammstein is big or if bands with growled vocals are popular.
Rammstein is big in Germany (although I think they are beyond their peak in terms of sound and songs). Growling is very popular in the German metal scene. But there are a bunch of other great bands in Germany, too. Listen to Twenty Dark Seven, for example. Great heavy rock straight into your face. Or The New Black. Great bands, no growling, just ROCK!
Are we outlaws? Well, in a certain way I think we are. We describe our sound as “Merciless. Lawless. Heavy. Rock.” And that is in fact how we mean it. We don’t care if anybody else does not like the groove, the style, the rhythm. We really give a sh*t about genres, especially into which genre we might – or might not – fit in. What really drives us is to play music we like, together with persons we like, in front of people, who have fun. We are wearing pirate costumes on stage. We are posting funny things on social media, speaking in a pirate way, arrrrrr!!!! Some so called “professional musicians” do not like that. But we have fun with it. And so have our fans. That’s the only thing that is important for us. I mean, if you go to a rock show, what do you expect? You want to be entertained! You want to have a great evening. You want to sing out loud! Bang your head! You want to see crazy people on stage who give everything! You don’t want to see our next door neighbor. You don’t want to go home later and think, “well, next time I’ll stay at home and watch TV instead of going to that pirate show again.”
In the end it is all about having fun, destroying our ears, pushing up the amps, and rock. Is there a business in it? We don’t know. With rules to be obeyed? We don’t care. We are pirates!!!! Harrrharrrharrr!!!
Is there one general theme in all the songs or are they separate stories? For instance, the song “All Alone” (a cool mitempo song that becomes a rocking uptempo tune). Are the lyrics based on personal experiences or is it a story about somebody else, not necessarily about you?
There is no general theme shared by all the songs. Not so far. To tell the truth, I really love those concept albums, for example Queensryche’s “Operation Mindcrime” or even “The Wall” from Pink Floyd. And (for me, personally) it would be great to set up something like this in the future. If this ever happens, I don’t know.
Concerning the songs of the PIRATES IN BLACK I can tell you that I like to sing about things that move me. “All alone” is a song about homeless people living in the streets. I have never experienced that on my own, although I used to play guitar as a street musician for a couple of a while. That’s not the same thing. But you get in contact, and you learn about those things, as long as you are open minded and keep your feet on the ground.
Is there anything in particular happening in Germany that has made you write lyrics about it?
I’m not so much focused on what is happening in Germany particularly. But of course I listen to the news. I keep myself informed. I am interested in politics and in all the other things happening in Germany, in Europe, all over the world. As I said before, I like to sing about things that move me. Our Song “Eternal Blood” for example is dealing with terror caused by religious fanaticism. Another song, “Omerta”, is a story about politicians who have their own hidden agenda and use their power only to become richer and richer, “raping your society”. But in the end we are not a political band. I’m convinced that most of our fans like us because of the music, not because of the lyrics – and we feel great with that. Otherwise we might have called us the “Bob Dylans” or so ... but wait a minute, maybe we should name our pirate ship “The Black Spirit of Joan Baez”? Harrrharrrharrr!!!!
Coming back to the music. Now your recording is finished, what do you think about the guitar sound on it? Are you pleased with how it sounds? It has a classic-style heavy metal guitar tone, but it is also chunky, heavy. It’s both classic-style but more modern. Do you feel like that is what you wanted?
YES!!!! That is exactly what we wanted it to sound like. A little tiny bit of Black Sabbath. A small amount of Zakk Wylde. On top a pinch of Judas Priest. Some plundering here. Some stealing there. There you have the pirate sound! :-)
More seriously we recorded the DI-signals of our guitars and sent them through a great ENGL-Plugin at Peter’s studio. A little bit of playing around with them knobs and there you go. Hail to the inventors of digital recording technology!!!!
Given that you love the classics, do you ever wonder if recording in the analog ways would be possible?
If you are speaking about using tape as a recording medium I would say no. Those times are gone. But in means of putting down the tunes live without (too much) overdubbing, well, as long as you go for just a few songs (three or four), that would be an interesting (though demanding) way to go at least as you are a (more) semi (than) professional band as we are. It is technically demanding but not too difficult. You would need good equipment, a good location, and a sound engineer who knows how the things are done. I’m sure that the result would be great as long as we would take our time until we nailed down the songs REALLY good! The main disadvantage would be the studio time you have to pay for. We do not expect to make very much money (if any) with our music. We just want to have fun. And we want to produce the best sound possible keeping in mind our limited financial capacities. So if Napalm Records told us tomorrow “There you go with 100.000 bucks you bloody Pirates! Go and make another record!” we would be more than happy to record it live. Since this will probably never ever happen we stick to our home recording tools, DI-signals, Midi-Drums, and save our money for pirate costumes, rum barrels, and guitar strings.
What is the current situation for touring? How can fans support your band directly?
We are really looking forward to do some more shows this year. We will be on stage in May in Haan which is quite near to Wuppertal. We will take part in the region final of the SPH Bandcontest in Bochum in September. There will be a show in Wilhelmshaven at the northern shore of Germany later this year. And there are still some more options for us. Plans for 2020 are to be part of some bigger open-air festivals in Germany or in surrounding countries in Europe.
Fans are welcome to support us by buying pirate shirts or songs via our website. It is also possible to buy our songs via Bandcamp. And once our album had been released we will offer our songs on iTunes and Amazon as well. But – of course – if you like our music and you are out for a digital download or a physical CD, we are more than happy if you choose our own website for that despite of one of the big players who are going to keep a substantial share for themselves.

EFFLUVIA brings back the Tacoma aroma

Return to Ponders Corner
16 November 2019
The aroma of Tacoma in Washington State is the extreme metal by the sickos who go by the name of Effluvia (don’t bother looking it up, you sicko). Let’s just say that in the past these malcontents have been in bands with truly horrendous names that are so sick, embarrassing, disgusting, and moronic that even G.G. Allin would have say, “Seriously, fellas, that name is cool and all, I love it cuz ya knows I sick, too, but dayum, y’all have gone and done the unthinkable and given y’all’selves the worst name ever, man!”
Anyway, friends who do not live here on western side of Washington State, let me explain something to y’all. Up here, in this northwesternmost corner of the continental United States we have the wonderful people of the city Tacoma (Yes, that one Tacoma, that Steve Miller Band immortalized in the famous black metal grindcore hit “Rock’n Me.”). Effluvia is undead in the City of Tacos (That it is called Taco-ma because tacos are very popular in the city is fake news information that I just invented right now.).
Alright, so, what was I talking about?!
Ah, yes, I remember now, I remember how it all started.
Effluvia is returning with a new recording on the 16th of November of 2019 A.D.
The album has 29 tracks. For real. Twenty nine, y’all! Anyway, this band is not appropriate for children, sensitive hearts, gentle lovers and lots of other people. This music is strictly for degenerates who are going to have their souls impaled again and again and again in the burning lake of fire. Listen to this album if you already know that you are a total degenerate, a registered offender, a convicted criminal, a person with no morals or a Seattle Seahawks fan.
The album begins with an introduction that will offend liberals, cockroaches, feminists, conservatives, antifas, anarquists, squirrels and all the inhabitants of Seattle and Tacoma, except for the members of Effluvia and their nine die-hard supporters in Tacoma.
“Ponders Corner” is next and this track is a grindcore love song dedicated to all people whose life work consists of criminal activity. Goodness, this is a brutal death metal and grind whirlwind of noise pollution rolling down the I-5. “Synchronized Killing” is the third song and this one brings a message of love, if by love you mean low-growl and yelling at full speed and then ending it as fast as it began. Next thing you, it’s “Body Parts in a Suitcase” and we’re going to need some heartburn medicine right about now. “Wake Up and Smell the Feces” is next and this song is a tribute to The Eagles’ “Hotel California” in the sense that it does not sound like that song at all. Help, I need somebody, help, not just anybody.
Ok, well, there are more anti-songs to tell you about, but there’s some Olympic curling that is about to begin and I don’t want to miss that. I’ll return to holler back at you about Effluvia.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Washington State band: IMPULSE NOISE

Impulse Noise is grind from Seattle. They have one recording on Bandcamp. Impulse Noise is sure to bring happiness, health and wealth to you and your loved ones this holiday season. It's never too early to celebrate Christmas, Halloween, Cinco de Mayo and National Grindcore Day by blasting some grind by way of Impulse Noise.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

review: Entrails

Rise of the Reaper
Metal Blade Records
11 October 2019
Sound: This Swedish band’s sixth album continues the sound since their debut album in 2010, which is dedicated lock, stock, barrel to giving fans classic-style Stockholm death metal in the perfect package signed, sealed and delivered with the adoration of loyal raving lunatic zealots, from the logo onwards.
Production: The sound quality is clear and contemporary. The style is from the old school, but the production is from the new school. The guitars, drums and vocals are easy to hear. There is some background effects/sounds in some songs for atmosphere. The bass guitar is not particularly prominent, but the album does not lack bottom end. The drums are rather loud, especially compared to the old early 1990s Swedish death metal albums. On the other hand, the drums do not like real, live drums but like sampled drumming, sadly.
Instrumentation: The band focuses more on delivering a contemporary production. The songs have big grooves. The guitar sound is awesome, but the riffs do not stand out as much as the production, unfortunately. There are some songs that have pretty good guitar solos and for some of them, you’ll definitely notice the soloing. As for the drumming, there’s not much to say because it’s difficult to know when it’s not clear that band has taken the time to have real human drumming on the album. Bring back the drummer!
Vocals: Besides some of the soloing, it is the vocals that stand out. The gruff, low growling is strong and some of it is intelligible. The gruff growling and this music are made for each other.
Songs: The music is predictable, yes, the band is a follower of the old school, yes, yes, but if you are a big, big fan of the style or you are new to death metal and you would like to hear a contemporary interpretation of classic-style Swedish death metal, these songs are a good illustration.
Lyrics: The band focuses on the normal topics of gruesome death, horror and things like that.
Potential audience: The fanatics of old Swedish death metal are hereby called to assemble at this ceremony of celebration.
Similar bands: Nihilist/Entombed; Carnage/Dismember, and the followers of that sound.
Assessment: When you listen to Entrails you are listening for a certain sound that you want, the sound of classic-style Swedish death metal that emerged in the late 1980s. You are listening for the production job, the old-school growling vocals and the guitar tone. When you listen to Entrails you are listening to a celebration of Nihilist/Entombed and Carnage/Dismember, and those other bands, and you are listening to celebrate the legacy of Sunlight Studios in Stockholm, Sweden and of the legacy of the producer Thomas Skogsberg. This is the music of the most gifted students and devotees of classic Swedish death metal. On the other hand, all these songs fall in line with that style. This band dare not do anything to rock the boat, step out of line, and go wandering into new territories. What you see is what you get, bang your head in 2019 like it is 1989.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

review: The Bleeding

The Bleeding
Morbid Prophecy
World War Now Records
18 October 2019
Sound: The Bleeding (U.K.) is moshing, thrash’em, bash’em with shredding and gremlin vocals and some blasting drumming.
Production: The music itself is inspired by the old school but the production is contemporary. Fans of intense, fast thrash should be pleased. The production could be a problem for some fans that absolutely demand real, live drums, and totally reject the drum programming/sampled drumming sound of the clicky drums of this album.
Instrumentation: This is no-holds barred moshing thrashing with the prototypical riffs fans like. It’s music by thrash fans for thrash maniacs. The bass guitar is quite audible in some segments. The riffs function on two modes only: “fast” and “faster.” Some of the soloing seems promising, but is underdeveloped or restrained in the shredding and the melodic aspects. This latter component could stand to be more elaborate. Overall, though, the skills are impressive.
Vocals: There is some lower growling in spots, but by far the dominant sensation is raspy, gremlin, evil cartoon witch vocals. It is a busy vocal approach, and sometimes the vocals seem to take up too much of the space. A bit less vocals would allow more of the music to be heard. The gremlin vocals themselves are way too gruesome and extreme for traditional thrash because The Bleeding is also fond of the more extreme genres.
Songs: Repeated listens have yielded chaos and speed. Unfortunately, repeated listens (some six listens at the very least, maybe closer to ten) have not revealed standout tracks. Lots of moshing thrashing, competent and solid thrash, but no songs that make you want to hear them the whole day long.
Lyrics: The lyrics focus on the sinister side of religion, as in the idea of focusing on religion as a manifestation of evil. Evil rites and evil oaths sworn to evil religions and their leaders.
Potential audience: This music is aimed at love-it-all thrash and headbanging extreme metal fans. Come to bang your head, stay to mosh.
Similar bands: Thrash bands that like to push the extremity by using brutal vocals and some blasting would share some fundamental similarities.
Assessment: This is a pretty good thrash album in 2019. It’s a headbanging good time for enthusiastic headbangers and moshers. The main weakness is that the album does not have songs that have a lasting impact. On the other hand, audiences looking for a fast and intense thrashing experience would find their match here.

review: Narrenwind

Ja, Dago
Pagan Records
24 September 2019
Sound: The Polish-language entity Narrenwind is on the avant-garde side of things, you could say, but it’s not so strange as to render the music as experimental or not song-centered. Despite what you might be told elsewhere, this is not a black metal album. The music is a type of folksy, trippy, melancholic, melodic execution that seems to have as much psychedelic rock as it does folk metal; and sure, there’s some black metal in there, too, on this eccentric album.
Production: There’s a certain DIY/homemade feel to the album, although the quality of the recording is completely within the standard of good do-it-yourself recordings. The bass guitar is not something that is very audible, but if you turn it up really loud, you hear a thumping in the background. The drumming does not seem like it is programmed; it sounds like a person doing the drumming, but this cannot be ascertained by this review.
Instrumentation: The rhythm section, especially the drumming, is good, and the guitar melodies are rather tasteful and have lots of catchy parts. There’s quite a bit of good slow soloing, a kind of bluesy and melodic style of soloing. There are also some other studio sounds that are probably studio magic made to fill out the sound for a fuller, more melodic and melancholic vibe.
Vocals: The vocals are rather eccentric and requires some test driving to hear for yourself. The vocals are sort of black metal but in a peculiar way. Sometimes it sounds like the vocalist is just trying out different techniques to see how it sounds. For instance, there’s a dramatic voice that seems like the vocalist is trying to sound like a giant, like you would find in an old Disney movie or old cartoons. Apparently, the album is about legends of the giants dwelling in ancient land that is today called Poland, so maybe there is some logic to this. Anyway, there is also some definite black metal in some of the vocals, too. In general, the vocals are pretty strange.
Songs: The songs stand alone well by themselves, and are not experimental pieces. At the very beginning, the music might make you think this is black metal, but by the third track you should start to really understand that this is a bit unique and different. The songs themselves have a personality or particular traits that you’ll remember after a couple of listens.
Lyrics: Apparently, the themes revolve around Polish legends. Some of the lyrics sound intelligible, but of course, not knowing any Polish words, this review is unable to help at all with the question of the lyrics.
Potential audience: Fans of folk metal and black metal would be two particular demographics that would be interested in this music.
Similar bands: If you like extreme metal music that is more concerned with vibes of mysticism and obscurantism, as opposed to speed and brutality, then this would be that type of album.
Assessment: In general, the album is for fans of eccentric folk-based extreme metal. Given that it is a peculiar album, mostly because of the strange vocals, it is a pretty unique work. It is not a big-budget production, and that may turn off some picky listeners. However, it is done well and the weirdness enhances the experience. Narrenwind is keeping Polish metal strange. Anyway, this ride is not too bumpy, but it is more like a trip to wonderland, or rather, a trip to the land of the giants.

review: Excalion

Scarlet Records
27 September 2019
Sound: Excalion is 1980s-loving contemporary melodic heavy/power metal with some classic/hard rock sensibilities.
Production: The album sounds like contemporary shiny European melodic metal, with a bit of that pop orientation, with a pretty good amount of studio magic and, unfortunately, a drum production that seems like drum programming/sampled drum sounds. It’s very doubtful that these are real, live drums due to the plastic, stale sound that is not dynamic, just oriented towards a simple beat.
Instrumentation: The keyboards are part of the sound, but they do not overwhelm the sound, although there are moments for the keyboards to shine. The riffs are very ear-friendly and this makes the songs fun and easy to absorb, and it all allows for the singing to be the focal point of the music.
Vocals: The singing is the centerpiece of the band. It is a high voice, like prototypical classic heavy metal, although there is a certain 1980s big rock feel, too, and it is not a big exaggeration to mention that there is a little bit of Journey’s style in the music and the singing. In fact, the singing is much closer to Journey than to the screaming banshee of Judas Priest.
Songs: This Finnish band is all about writing hits for their fans. Mission accomplished!
Lyrics: The album comes across as a band made up of adults. Therefore, love, friendship, relationships and feelings are the main topics. If there are any profanities, they are not obvious to hear. This reviewer has not noticed them. Potential audience: This album is for any person into adult contemporary metal full of melodies and good singing. Anyone who likes rock singing and catchy songs may find it interesting. It’s also metal that kids can listen to because it is memorable and the band is intelligent and keeps the music open to all audiences, regardless of politics, religion and things like that.
Similar bands: Bands that play melodic and catchy metal music without silly gimmicks would share similarities to this one. Your friends might call this music “parent metal,” “soccer mom metal,” and “dad metal.” Then again, your friends are a bunch of bums, anyway.
Assessment: It is important that the audience first hear the singing on the album because this is power metal and the voice is fundamental to the music, but the crooner voice can make or break an album. There is a bit of a Journey or Symphony X tone to the voice. It is a pleasant type of voice. There is no air raid siren or banshee super screaming and yelling. The band’s objective is singing that lots of people can enjoy, and they achieve that on the album. If in the United States radio stations played this type of music, a lot more people would like it, due to the commercial potential. The album shows a lot of good work within the field of contemporary melodic metal and heavy rock in general. Perhaps only metal people who are looking for music to be a mirror of their own personal demons of anger and hatred would object to this album, given that the band delivers feel-good music. Now, if only someone could convince them to bring back the drummer!

review: DragonForce

Extreme Power Metal
Metal Blade Records
27 September 2019
Sound: The long-running veterans continue their tradition of fun-loving fast melodic metal.
Production: The album features the contemporary production of a big use of studio magic to create music that sounds flawless. The band has shown that live they play this music, but it doesn’t sound as grandiose and full when it is live, but this is normal for most fancy production metal albums. This album should be a pleasant listening experience for fans of melodic, happy metal.
Instrumentation: Big guitar melodies, big keyboard melodies and big shredding is the brand of the band, as it always has been the case.
Vocals: The singing is high and melodic air raid siren. The tone of the voice is rather smooth, not gritty nor rough.
Songs: The songs are catchy and it seems like any of them could be a fan favorite.
Lyrics: The band likes lyrics about immortality, eternity, the future and heroic deeds.
Potential audience: Fans of fun-loving melodic metal styles across the board are the target audience.
Similar bands: Keyboard-friendly and shred-friend melodic bands with high singing generally share lots of similarities with this band.
Assessment: Members have come and gone, but the two guitarists Sam and Herman remain. The sound has changed over the years from fast, heroic shredding power metal to more of a fun-loving computer-gamey sound. They have reached a more party-oriented sound. However, big melodies and lots of guitars remain a fundamental aspect of their sound. They still write songs like they want the tracks to become fan favorites at concerts. In that sense, the mission of power metal is still at the center of the music. Often the music sounds like Beyoncé or Lady Gaga with shredding guitars. They are not afraid of being criticized for going over the top, for overachieving and for overdoing things in excess, and their new album’s title is a declaration to their fans that after 20 years and eight albums, they embrace the things that have endeared them to their fans. In fact, this new album even has a Céline Dion cover and frankly it just sounds like another DragonForce song on the album. DragonForce is a show, it’s always been a show, no apologies, and everyone is welcome to the show. Rock and roll all nite, and party every day.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Washington State band: Sölicitör

Sölicitör brings the thunder from the west. You come to see the show, come and get on your seat, hey, you wanna go crazy tonight for the crazy nights of Sölicitör! Seattle does not know what to do with them, but you will!

review: Cult of Luna

Cult of Luna
A Dawn to Fear
Metal Blade Records
20 September 2019
Sound: This is slow-motion heaviness with atmospheric moments and melodic guitar solos, and screamed-growled vocals.
Production: The recording sounds massively heavy. There’s lots of studio magic and layering. It is doubtful the band is playing everything that you hear. The drums seem like drum programming/sampled drum sounds, unfortunately.
Instrumentation: The music has a ton of slow passages and ambient segments. They don’t really do riffs, it’s more like slow grooves, and they have various sounds to fill out the atmosphere. Ultimately, there is one truly outstanding part of the instrumentation and that is the melodies. The band usually waits a long time into a song before revealing the guitar melodies, but they are there as a constant presence. The guitar melodies tend to be in the general style of progressive, bluesy, atmospheric, and post-metal, all done very well.
Vocals: Slow growling and some yelling is the backbone of the vocals. There are moments of soft whispered vocals. There is no melodic singing and no singing in general. The band may be known for experimentation, but the vocals on this album is one area where that is not the case. It is a rather one-dimensional vocal style, although it is done well.
Songs: The band’s approach is generally to do everything slow on the album when it comes to beginning the songs, and after several minutes of atmospheric or spacey segments they generally move into giving the listener the melodies. These are not so much regular rock/metal songs as they are long progressive passages and exercises in the art of slow heaviness contrasting with atmospheric segments.
Lyrics: Human problems and the human condition seem to be the lyrical topics.
Potential audience: The audiences that enjoy slow post-metal (non-riff; non-power chord heaviness) are the expected buying public.
Similar bands: It is common practice to cite Neurosis, Isis, Callisto as similar in some very general ways. The knowledgeable consumers already know that these bands do not sound alike, but they share a passion for expansive non-riff-oriented heaviness combined with light moments.
Assessment: Cult of Luna is asking, as they always do, listeners to have lots of patience. The band is saying that, given that they have been around for two decades, they expect their audience to understand that the album is going to take a long time to be absorbed. After those first youthful wild and crazy days of releasing five albums of 60-70 minutes only a couple of years apart (including some in consecutive years), the band is now settled into a much slower routine: 2008, 2013, 2016, 2019. This new album is almost 80 minutes. The consumer has to trust the band or trust the recommendation of friends that swear by Cult of Luna. This album is probably not appropriate for a professional athlete to listen to and it might not be a good idea for during your session of lifting weights at the gym, but it may be excellent for doing homework, doing dishes, decompressing, for yoga or generally passing out on the bus/taxi/train ride to school or work. If you are driving from Phoenix, Arizona all the way to Tacoma, this album might make you sleepy. Cult of Luna is basically music for relaxation, whatever form that takes for you. The album is super long, but they’re going to give you at least several years before they are coming around again asking you to listen.