Sunday, March 29, 2009
Crack The Skye differs greatly from previous albums in the sense that there’s little in the way of skull rattling metal but more daring prog. But don’t be fooled by this, it’s still the Mastodon we know and love, Sanders and Hinds vocals remain distinct and Brann Dailor’s drumming still kills.
Opener “Oblivion” simply fucking owns; there’s no polite way of putting it. The song immediately tells you that Crack The Skye is going to be something special. Follower “Divinations” is the punchy number with Sanders releasing a beautiful vocal delivery in the chorus. As for “Quintessence”, the guitars of the verses and Hinds’ vocals mesmerise while Sanders pummels with a thunderous “Letting go!!! Letting go!!!”
"The Czar", this near 11 minute beauty opens in sombre effect and shifts effortlessly to and from grooves and chugging riffs. The deep and throaty vocals of “Ghost of Karelia” with a fine drumming performance are a remarkable herald for the change that has taken place in the Mastodon mentality. Featuring Neurosis mastermind Scott Kelly, the title track melds his crushing lead vocals with the ominous croons of Sanders.
The closer “The Last Baron” is the crown jewel of Crack The Skye. Reaching the 13 minute mark exactly “The Last Baron” hits dizzying heights like any prog epic should but in a distinctly Mastodon-like way, fucking jaw dropping.
Crack The Skye clocks in at just over 50 minutes and it’s 50 minutes that couldn’t go by any faster. There’s no “hits" here, just a sprawling progressive oeuvre that can only be truly enjoyed and appreciated when listened to from start to finish.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5tCvMZXgGc&feature=channel
Read on Metal Hammer’s site that Gorgoroth’s Gaahl and King have formed a new band God Seed, taken from the Gorgoroth song from Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam. Looking forward to hearing new music from Gaahl and King.
Saw that U2 have added a third date at Croke Park in July which is insane. How many people is that they’ll have played to??? Not going myself though! Depeche Mode are coming in December.
The super group Chickenfoot have set June 8th for the release of their self titled debut album. The group consists of genius guitarist Joe Satriani, Chad Smith (RHCP), Michael Anthony formerly of Van Halen on bass and finally Sammy Hagar! Needless to say I’m interested in this one.
Also, Dream Theater and Opeth will tour Europe together in October with support from Big Elf and Unexpect. Here’s hoping they come to Ireland!
Finally I bought the new Mastodon album, Crack The Skye yesterday. A review will be up shortly.
Monday, March 23, 2009
First off, contrary to popular belief the name doesn’t come from the film, The Shining. The name refers to “the path to enlightenment” according to the band.
Quickly I’d like to say, I think little of the ethos of Shining, I just like their music.
Frontman Niklas “Kvarforth” Olsson’s lyrics throughout their back catalogue openly promote self harm. On stage Kvarfoth is notorious for cutting himself with razorblades to some extreme extents. Also he was known for physically abusing fans during shows.
However it wasn’t until 2004 that Shining began playing live. The band reformed after a break up with a new line-up with which it was possible to play live. In 2005 and 2007 they released the albums IV/ The Eerie Cold and V/ Halmstad, by far their best albums yet. Here, the best components of Shining were present where one could listen to the music and appreciate just that, the music and hopefully from that you could re-evaluate the previous works.
That said, in my opinion, the self mutilation onstage from Kvarforth for too long overshadowed the quality of the music they made. His antics came to a head in February 2007. During a show in their hometown, Kvarforth (as usual) cut himself, drank urine from a bottle and allegedly kicked a fan in the chest. Razorblades were also handed out to the crowd. The gig received much attention from mainstream media in
Of course a Shining show still retains its eccentricity; Kvarforth still cut himself, waltzed briefly with a girl at the front and shoved his hands down his pants several times. Regardless of the reputation his stage presence is impressive and demands the crowd’s attention.
Coming this year is their new album, their sixth effort, VI/ Klagopsalmer, translated as “hymns of lament”.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Tonight could be looked at as a bit of history, it’s Gojira first official headlining tour of Europe and their first headline show ever in Ireland. The meagre surroundings of Whelan’s are an appropriate setting for the chaos that Gojira will invoke.
First up however are Danish four piece Pilgrimz, if the awful use of a ‘z’ doesn’t turn you off then fair play. Their brand of hardcore leaves much to be desire, an average showing to say the least.
Followers The Eyes Of A Traitor though play with much more vigour. These British metalcore tech up and comers delight the few who have bothered to move towards the stage. This young band, all averaged around 18 years old, certainly impress particularly the skill of the guitarists.
But tonight isn’t about any support acts; it’s about the finest band to come out of France since… well… ever. Entering the quite frankly tiny stage, Gojira are greeted with an ardent response, the entire crowd has finally moved forward and the tapping notes of opener “Oroborus” hit. The show is a wall to wall frenzy.
The set is an overall crowd pleaser despite the absence of “Ocean Planet”.
Regardless of that it’s their renowned crushing heaviness that matters. The aptly titled “Heaviest Matter In The Universe” incites a riot and pummels all present. The whole floor is a tumult of flailing bodies, only taming slightly come “A Sight To Behold”.
The highlight of the night is by far “Flying Whales” which sets off one fucker of a pit. By closer “Vacuity” the band and crowd alike are exhausted but grateful for one hell of a show.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
There’s been no response from Maiden yet.
Trouble have entitled their new album The Dark Riff; brilliant title if I may say so.
Accessible? Yes. Progressive? Debateable. Sure, they’ve toured with Dream Theater and they’ve got a few prog qualities but Into Eternity aren’t progressive as far as expectations of what prog is now. However they are accessible, quite accessible actually. But not so in a “sell your soul to the devil of commercialism” sense. Into Eternity are scribes of catchy hook-laden music tinged with some technicality.
Earlier material like that on their self titled debut and second effort Dead Or Dreaming set the tone for the stride they’d hit on third release Buried In Oblivion. On display here was the technicality that guitarists Tim Roth would become known for. “Splintered Visions” opens with jaw-dropping guitar work and then blasts into a chugging riff. The vocals then hit with impressive range, all members contribute vocals of some kind to the band’s music creating an interesting multiplicity of voices. Meanwhile “Spiralling Into Depression” soars in its melody. It’s this melodic element of Into Eternity that would become one of their strongest. Meanwhile, “Black Sea Of Agony” throws impressive vocals and flawless guitar harmonies around effortlessly.
Come next release, The Scattering Of Ashes, Into Eternity changed vocal styles. Arguments were made that they were merely venturing into the metalcore with harsh growled verses and clean choruses essentially. But, whether or not the change in vocal arrangements was such a conscious decision doesn’t matter now. The fact is that it worked; The Scattering Of Ashes was to be their strongest album yet. Beautifully high notes are hit on the likes of “Severe Emotional Distress” and “Timeless Winter”. The striking vocal harmonies on the likes of “Paralyzed” mix perfectly with the numerous guitar duels and solos which soar throughout the record. Hooks are aplenty with the towering choruses of “Out” and “A Past Beyond Memory”. Despite The Scattering Of Ashes being a very easy to digest record, its musical prowess prevented any threat of a watered down debacle that it could have been.
Latest album The Incurable Tragedy is the band’s first concept record. The album saw little change in style, though tracks like “Time Immemorial” and “Diagnosis Terminal” rather easily please and the record remained a satisfying listen.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Avenged Sevenfold, but I don't care too much for them. However also supporting is:
Lamb Of God: What can I say about LOG that hasn't already been said. I saw them in February in the Academy and it was hands down one of the best gigs of my life. Seeing them infront of 40/50,000 people will be insane.
Mastodon: I've never seen them live and I can't wait. New material sounds incredible.
Thin Lizzy: It'll be a bit of nostalgia, in rememberance of Phil. They should put on a good show, not surprised that Metallica have these guys as their support...
Alice In Chains: Now, I've made it abundantly clear how I feel about this incarnation of Alice In Chains, but I'm staying optimistic. Like Thin Lizzy, it'll be nostalgic.
The Sword: I've heard very little from these guys. The only song I've heard is "Iron Swan" and it sounded decent.
Finally, Metallica themselves. Having seen them last year playing a greatest hits set I'm looking forward to hearing tracks from Death Magnetic live, overall I don't think I've been this excited about a gig since Rage.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
“Criminally underrated” said an article in Metal Hammer in July 2006, quite frankly it couldn’t be more true. Granted I’ve only really gotten into them in the last few months but I’m now true believer in the great Porcupine Tree.
Definitely part of the upper echelons of prog as far as fans are concerned anyway, Porcupine Tree have built an impressive reputation for themselves through the years. Despite being a band Steve Wilson is more or less the commander and the architect of their masterpieces. From my perception he’s proved he can write any kind of song he chooses, regardless of genre or fans’ expectations. Songs like “Deadwing” from the album of the same name shows that he can pen catchy riffs and hooks but also not compromise an inch of the band’s musical integrity. Meanwhile the delicate “Lazarus” sprawls in its beauty. Further proof can be seen on “Arriving Somewhere But Not Here”, my personal favourite track. It’s 12 minute plus of incalculable progressive ingenuity. It also features a guest solo from none other than Mikael Akerfeldt, which is all good.
I’m fully aware that I’m not running through the albums in chronological order like in previous blogs but this is the order I heard them.
In Absentia, their seventh studio album is, in my opinion, their oeuvre – a towering opus of prog. The Zeppelin-esque acoustic guitar work in “Trains” twinned with
Tracks like Sever from 1996’s Signify demonstrate
Latest album, 2007’s Fear Of A Blank Planet however received mixed reviews from fans and critics alike. But now it’s been described as a slightly lengthier grower taking much, much more than the traditional “multiple listens” to fully unravel itself.
Recommended album: In Absentia
Originally posted: 2nd March 09
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Finch made a very bold and daring decision when they made Say Hello To Sunshine. The album was a drastic departure from first release What It Is To Burn. Abandoned were the hook-laden radio tunes of its predecessor, Say Hello To Sunshine was a lesson in post-hardcore eccentricity.
Don’t allow the title and colourful artwork deceive you; Sunshine is a far darker and sinister affair than Burn. Much of the subject matter of Nate Barcalow’s lyrics refers to missing body parts and functions with the deeper meaning remaining cryptic. But despite these darker themes the melody they were known for still stayed in tact.
“Insomniatic Meat” is the perfect opener as at first it sounds like a typical Finch song in the first few seconds until the vocals kick in and Barcalow’s vocals immediately indicate the new sound afoot. Interesting lyrics here; “Tie me to a chair, subconsciously, surrendering”. Follower “Revelation Song” wastes no time in getting the ball rolling with instant vocals and a catchy riff. Its punchy chorus is both anthemic and clever. The breakdowns of fourth track “Ink” are mesmerising with all the hooks intact. “Fireflies” is a song with another hooky chorus complete with quite thought provoking lyrics – “They say silence in golden, loneliness never shined liked this”.
The only single released was “Bitemarks & Bloodstains”. The song was allegedly the first written and represents the change in styles. It’s somewhat apparent as Barcalow’s vocals remain recognisable from before but the song itself is, like I’ve made evident, different. The track’s gentle verses are accompanied by Barcalow’s placid voice. The lyrics are again insightful but also, as odd is it may sound unclear – “Meier may we be this way forever and tell me lover what will become of the others?” Then come the chorus they switch to the somewhat disturbing – “Now I’m stealing her body and taking it home”. Hearing this song before all others on the record would truly set the tone and vibe of Say Hello To Sunshine. The following “Casket Of Roderick Usher” is 1:50 of relentless, perhaps insane riffing and hardcore brutality. While closer “Dreams Of Psilocybin” is interesting in its spoken word verses while the chorus is thunderous.
Most European copies came with a bonus track, “Gak 2”; a thudding track with a hint of prog.
Despite the quality of the album it was largely a commercial failure and didn’t reach the same sales of What It Is To Burn. Many of the fan-base they’d built on the back of Burn were disappointed and more or less abandoned the band. Regardless they commenced very low key touring but their dissolution shortly followed. But in 2007 the band announced their reformation and released a self titled EP in 2008 where its sound nodded back to that of What It Is To Burn.
Brother Bleed Brother
A Piece Of Mind
Reduced To Teeth
A Man Alone
Bitemarks & Bloodstains
The Casket Of Roderick Usher
Dreams Of Psilocybin
Gak 2 (Bonus Track)
"Bitemarks & Bloodstains" Video
In two albums, Canadian tech-wizards Protest The Hero have set an impressive reputation for themselves in some circles but still remain in much obscurity as far as coverage is concerned.
First album Kezia, a concept record telling the story of a young woman named Kezia (who’s been sentenced to death) a prison guard and a priest and the characteristics of these characters represent traits in the band members. The full story is still shrouded in mystery.
But it isn’t the story which makes the album so impressive, it’s the extraordinary musicianship. Opener “No Stars Over Bethlehem” indicates this clearly as you are quite rapidly greeted with one neck rupturing fast riff. Roddy Walker’s vocals have been known to split opinion; many ignorant fucks labelling them “not metal enough”. However one can easily see the staggering range he has, “Divinity Within” being a prime example.
Special mention must be given to the guitarists Tim Millar, Luke Hoskin and bassist Arif Mirabdolbaghi. The fluidity and clarity of their playing is remarkable. This accompanied by the velocity of drummer Moe Carlson creates an astonishing symphony of technicality – just listen to “Blindfolds Aside”, “Heretics & Killers” or “Turn Soonest To The Sea” to name a few if you need proof.
After much touring, early last year PTH released their second album Fortress. A concept album of the sorts, Fortress didn’t stick rigidly to one story like that on Kezia. It tackled many varying themes from Irish mythology to Genghis Khan. First track “Bloodmeat”, again immediately opens with striking Dillinger/mathcore-esque playing. Musically they earn their stripes here while Walker’s vocals, again mounts over all else. The song continues into “The Dissentience”, another track where Walker’s voice soars.
Top to bottom Fortress is a jaw dropping affair, surpassing Kezia tenfold, whether it’s the thunderous “Sequoia Throne” and “Palms Read” or the impressive fret bothering of “Wretch”. Then, come closing tracks “Goddess Bound” and Goddess Gagged” Protest The Hero have proved their worth. Each member brings a different class of virtuosity to their song writing.
With only being two albums in, the future looks bright for Protest The Hero.
Recommended Album: Fortress
Definitely one of my favourite bands and my favourite prog metal band, they’re like the bastard child of Opeth and Dillinger Escape Plan. Throughout their earlier material they created music with not much emphasis on the progressive as they have now. But by 2nd release The Silent Circus BTBAM began, only began to realise their potential as songwriters and musicians. But earlier tracks like “Aspirations” did hint at their ability.
However on the Silent Circus there was a tad more diversity and it was the beginning of their nickname “jack of all trades metal”. Openers “Lost Perfection a) Coulrophobia” and “b) Anablephobia” showed the band’s penchant for melding brutality with some groove. Their most recognisable song, the soaring “Mordecai” is pummelling until the mellow breakdown and the heart stopping guitar solo. Then, following is the sombre and elegantly crafted “Reaction” and “(Shevanel Take 2)”, but this is merely calm before another thunderous storm. “Ad a Dglgmut” hits you like a locomotive.
BTBAM expanded on their sound on third album Alaska and made a daring move with The Anatomy Of; a covers album. On it they covered a truly mixed bag of tunes from Motley Crue’s “Kickstart My Heart” to Metallica’s “Blackened” to Pink Floyd’s “Us And Them”.
However it was in 2007 that Between The Buried And Me rather marvellously hit their stride on Colors. Opener “Foam Born a) The Back Track” is quite serene until the metal of BTBAM hits on “b) Decade Of Statues” with a towering chorus to boot. Next “Informal Gluttony” brings the didgeridoo into play, another track with a hooky but soft chorus. Follower “Sun Of Nothing” continues to portray what can only be described as extraordinary versatility on the band’s part.
A Metal Maniacs review for the album said “1 hour, 4 minutes and 9 seconds of jaw dropping musicianship”. By fuck it couldn’t be truer. The colossal 13 minute long “Ants Of The Sky” shows this and then some with guitarists Paul Waggoner and Dustie Waring earning their chops amongst the best of them. Meanwhile vocalist Tommy Rogers gives a stunning performance. The virtuosity continues on the punchy “Prequel To The Sequel”. The ferocity drops on “Viridian” but the intensity manages to be maintained, this short instrumental is just beautiful and is refreshing to hear a track of this nature be so bass driven, Dan Briggs is incredible. As for closer “White Walls”, if epic should ever be used to describe a song it’s this. It’s a 14 minute long journey into dazzling musicianship, Rogers hits notes he’s never hit before, the solos, the drums (here’s some praise for Blake Richardson) and bass soar above nearly any other attempt bands have made at something so grandiose. By the end of Colors you’re exhausted.
Colors – a relentless, at times punishing but yet gorgeously arranged masterpiece of progressive metal.
Not enough though, the band proved their talent on stage with Colors_Live, a CD/DVD release where they played the album in its entirety. Another bold, daring move.
Now a new album is scheduled for a release this year, needless to say expectations are high.
Recommended album: Colors
Originally posted: 9th February 09
The rightful kings, 36 Crazyfists. It’s heartbreaking at times to see that this band isn’t as successful as they should be. If this were a just world they’d be in the position of the likes of Avenged Sevenfold.
It can be argued that their music is conventional, but if there ever was a band to embody simple but effective it’s 36 Crazyfists. Take “Turn To Ashes” for example from second album Bitterness The Star. Here, the verses are more or less mellow with a very nice bass line and then the pre-chorus and chorus hits you like a ton of bricks. Lead single “Slit Wrist Theory” is the anthemic number with a chorus that painlessly lodges itself in your head.
They’re a band that has literally gotten better on every album. The quality of third and fourth albums A Snow Capped Romance and Rest Inside The Flames are proof. Just listen to the songs. “At The End Of August” and “Bloodwork” will stick with you like a virus with the same being said for “I’ll Go Until My Heart Stops” and the lovelorn “Felt Through A Phone Line”.
But now fifth album The Tide And Its Takers tops all this. Opener “The All Night Lights” at first pounds you to the ground and then has you singing along. The low then loud “The Back Harlow Road” would trigger a sing-along in anyone. “Only A Year Or So” is heart wrenching passion committed to audio. The contrasting male and female narratives on absence due to war accompanied by Brock Lindow’s most passionately charged vocals to date are wholly astounding. But by the following “Absent Are The Saints” you’re floored.
The catchy riffing of “When Distance Is The Closest Reminder” is a testament to guitarist Steve Holt’s ability. Finally the acoustic title track is just plain beautiful.
Soon justice will be served, hopefully.
*Their first album In The Skin was self financed and little is known about it or its availability.
Recommended album: The Tide And Its Takers
Vast, engrossing, captivating, absorbing, enthralling are just some the words that could be used to describe the music of instrumentalists Pelican. But those alone won’t even scratch the surface of the ingenuity they’ve created.
They combine what can be at times crushing heaviness, almost Mastodon-like with sweet and beautifully arranged melodies. They effortless create epic, grandiose songs which consume you and return you in a state of permanent awe. The title track off Australasia is a prime example of this, this ten minute plus epic’s use of repetition while still astounding you every time is well, astounding.
But latest album City Of Echoes truly is their oeuvre. Meticulously crafted riffs and jaw-dropping musicianship is in abundance. Opener “Bliss In Concrete” seems towering in its delivery but is merely a taster of what this album is about. The title track following this is further evidence as the intensity and general vastness builds.
Meanwhile the ability of acoustic track “Winds With Hands” to tug at your heartstrings is indescribably impressive. Furthermore “Far From Fields” builds to what can only be described as a heart-stopping climax. They’ve done with ease what some bands struggle to do and that’s incorporate multiple contrasting emotions into their music and that’s without any lyrics.
Pelican. Never has music sounded so huge.
Recommended album: City Of Echoes
I don’t know why but this band shouldn’t be that good. On paper they seem like another watered down product of metalcore. But listening to their latest album Controller I’ve been forced to eat my own words, hell it was no.5 on my albums of 2008!
To my surprise I found an album with so much more, complete with catchy riffs, pounding breakdowns and what I found most surprising, acoustic interludes. Songs like “Labyrinthian” were punishing in their delivery meanwhile “Reset” has its beautiful acoustic outro. But by last track “Homecoming” you’re floored.
I’m aware this week is more about an album than a band but I have listened to some of the earlier stuff. They’ve had a changed in vocalist, so some material is better than others in parts. Anyway, Misery Signals; check them out.
Recommended album: Controller
May I be narcissistic for a moment? To quote myself – “Riverside make mind numbingly beautiful music” Well, it’s damn true.
Three albums; Out Of Myself, Second Life Syndrome and Rapid Eye Movement, each magnificently crafted pieces of art. Start with second effort Second Life Syndrome, it's a masterpiece of prog, in my opinion – listening to songs like “Conceiving You” will only strengthen my argument.
Recommended album: Second Life Syndrome
After an untimely break-up and much anticipation the band reformed for a few shows and would eventually release new opus Traced in Air in 2008. Compared to Focus, Traced In Air was like night to day. The albums are quite different while still remaining very much Cynic. To use a cheesy line, the album really takes you on a journey. From opener “Nunc Fluens/The Space For This” to “Integral Birth” to closer “Nunc Stans” one shall be left retrieving their jaw from the floor.
Now back touring full time after a successful show at Wacken and tour with Opeth, Cynic return to the road with Meshuggah in the US in February. Now’s the best time to get into Cynic.
Recommended album: Traced In Air
For quite a while I was posting blogs on my another blog about music mostly but some other things as well. Most of my music blogs were an "underrated band/album... whatever" feature but now I just decided to post my blogs here from now on. Some will still be on my other page but most of them here. I going to post some of my previous blogs here and some older ones can be found on the old blog.
EDIT: That blog no longer exists. Weep.