Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Porcupine Tree - The Incident

Some bands will always remain an anomaly and the feeling of getting a new album will always feel like a treat, Porcupine Tree are one such band. The Incident is the band’s tenth studio offering, a double album, of which the first disc is an absorbing 55 minute concept spread across fourteen tracks, it’s a chaptered piece building to one song (similar to Between The Buried And Me’s Colors in how it’s structured).

The rousing instrumental opener “Occam’s Razor” sets the almost typical Porcupine Tree album tone, one of grandeur. Leading into “The Blind House”, the track unnervingly fires through a spine tingling chorus.

Experimentation is no stranger to Steven Wilson and Porcupine Tree and straying from the somewhat curvaceous melodies prior, “Drawing The Line” fearlessly dashes into a punchy rock vibe.

The title track then starts with haunting electronics, but oddly The Incident loses a tad bit of momentum here. However, following up, it’s quick to recoup its vitality in the subsequent pieces.

Across several interlude tracks like the acoustic amble “Your Unpleasant Family” and the flowing textures of “The Yellow Windows Of The Evening Train” serve as breathers between the irrefutable surges of frenetic experimentalism throughout.

“Time Flies” carelessly exudes confidence, from the instantly memorable acoustic guitars, Steven Wilson’s odd lyrics (“I was born in ’67, the year of Sergeant Pepper”), the twirling electronics and riffs through to the airy mid section. There’s not enough time to describe this song’s excellence.

But in quick fashion “Degree Zero Of Liberty” reverts back to the album’s intro and the manner then shifts with the somewhat funereal tones of the aesthetically stunning “Octane Twisted” through to “The Séance”, trading almost simplistic verses over astounding vocal harmonies. Its rise continues on the frenzied trade that is “Circle Of Manias” only to drastically switch for The Incident’s swan song.

“I Drive The Hearse” sways so softly with it’s emotive verses and enigmatic tales told by Wilson, elegantly, through his ever astonishing voice. With that The Incident is completed.

Unfortunately The Incident reaches such a staggering culmination on the first disc that disc two feels anti-climactic. That’s not say the material is in anyway weak, far from it. The softer compositions of “Flicker” and “Black Dahlia” are enticing as well as the eccentric “Bonnie The Cat”. Then, “Remember Me Lover” brings this expedition to a close, proper.

Overall though, The Incident is an awe-inspiring work of art, though it may not reach the same peaks of In Absentia and Lightbulb Sun. Regardless, Porcupine Tree have earned the right to take another bow in front of a stunned audience.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Rock And Roll Hall Fame Of Fame - A Crock?

The nominees for the 2010 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction have been announced. The list includes Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Stooges, Genesis, ABBA, Kiss and a handful more. The most unusual nominee is LL Cool J.

One of the biggest criticisms of the RnR HOF is similar to the Grammys. The nominees and inductees are decided by a committee, with virtually no input from the public. However, that’s not a slight on the Hall; many of their members so far absolutely deserve their place, Chuck Berry, Frank Zappa, Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath to name only a few (read the full list click HERE). Also, last year, much to the appraisal of the rock community Metallica took their place amongst these greats.

But look at some of the other names. Madonna has a place there. With all due respect Madonna, was inducted before Metallica and more so, Jeff Beck? Furthermore, before Genesis? It comes as a huge surprise that Genesis aren’t already in the Hall and have to contend with LL Cool J? Surely, I’m not the only person of this mind set.

There are five spots running and if justice prevails Genesis and Kiss will be inducted, for obvious reasons. And while RHCP have become painfully repetitive in recent years, their overall impact can’t be denied. They deserve their spot. These ears have never had time for The Stooges but it’s a near guarantee that they’ll be inducted, same for ABBA. The biggest surprise is still LL Cool J. Granted, the Hall has always recognised hip hop (Run DMC last year) but surely Public Enemy have made more waves than LL Cool J?

Additionally, there are several acts that aren’t in the Hall who thoroughly deserve recognition for their art. Pink Floyd are in, Genesis are nominated. So it’s puzzling that Rush and King Crimson remain unmentioned. Not only are they prog pioneers but sculptors of rock music in general. Going further, Gentle Giant and Van Der Graaf Generator. The Hall doesn’t entirely base the artist’s entry on sales; thankfully, longevity, consistency and influence are taken into account. So, where’s the love?

Iron Maiden; of any metal band still active during this generation, is there any band more deserving? The answer is no. They’re globally acclaimed and universally adored by fans of all ages and origins. Last year’s Somewhere Back In Time Tour’s hugeness should have spoken volumes to the committee about Maiden’s undying relevance. The same argument applies to Judas Priest, just on a slightly lesser scale.

Those are the most likely and deserving candidates now. But within the next few years who else should be inducted into the Hall of Fame? Recently, Dave Mustaine commented on the Hall, saying he’s going in one way or another. Is there a spot reserved in Cleveland (the site of the museum) for Megadeth? Yes, yes there is, at least there should be. There are no guarantees. Eventually this committee will have no choice but to consider and then possibly nominate Megadeth. If they actually get inducted, well, we’ll have to wait and see. A similar argument can be made for Slayer. But from this vantage point it’s unlikely but never say never. Meanwhile, there’s no reason to reject Motorhead but it’s improbable that the committee are itching to bring them in.

The primary requirement for induction is that 25 years must have elapsed from the band’s first album or single. That means in 2016 (a while yet, granted) Pearl Jam will eligible. Deserving in every sense of the word are one of the greatest and most passionate rock bands ever.

If you’re feeling particularly daring, Dream Theater are adequate for nomination in a few years. They can’t possibly be overlooked. The argument for this goes on and on. Time will tell if all these much deserving bands will be inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Dream Theater - Wither EP

Only last June Dream Theater released arguably their best album in ten years; Black Clouds & Silver Linings. Now, to follow it up and mark the release of the record’s second single “Wither” the band have landed us with this digital EP.

It’s not exactly must have material for most Dream Theater fans but if you’re a die hard completist then chances are you that you were sold by the time you finished reading the first paragraph of this review.

Four tracks in length Wither is merely a reminder of Dream Theater’s prog dominance. Firstly, the title track’s album version opens this digital only offering. An almost typical Dream Theater ballad it magnificently ascends to staggering heights.

What stands out most here is the piano version of the track. Still retaining its grandeur, it has a more stripped down sound, without the vocal harmonies of the album track, merely James LaBrie assuming all vocal duties. It highlights LaBrie’s sometimes overlooked abilities.

Finally a vocal take of John Petrucci on the track and Mike Portnoy on the thirteen minute long “The Best Of The Times” remain. Taken for what they are these two tracks are mediocre. For lead vocals the two have an average ability and serve as a reminder, again, as to why they mostly do backing vocals on DT’s albums.

Let’s keep this very short, like the EP. If you’re on a goal to complete the Dream Theater discography then this is a must. If you’re a leisurely listener then it most defin
itely is not, best stick with Black Clouds & Silver Linings.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Devin Townsend - Ki

The world needs people like Devin Townsend. After ceasing activity with the now sorely missed Strapping Young Lad in 2006, Townsend set out to record his ninth solo record Ziltoid The Omniscient. A concept album, it told the story of a coffee addicted alien from the planet of Ziltoidia 9 who travels to Earth in search of the perfect cup of coffee. It seemed the ever welcomed madness of Townsend had reached a new height. Unfortunately, soon after, Townsend decided to lay down his guitar, get sober and work on being a family man after the birth of his first son in 2006.

But of course like any musician, especially one as gifted as Devin Townsend, the thirst for playing can never be quenched. Refreshed and revitalised he set about writing new material under the pseudonym of The Devin Townsend Project; a four album concept each revelling in four different styles. Ki is the first instalment.

It’s much more in the vein of his 2001 masterpiece Terria as well as his two ambient records, DevLab and The Hummer. If you yearn for Strapping Young Lad brutality you won’t find it here. The gentle strolling of "A Monday" into "Coast" is indicative of the soft, relishing soundscape that is Ki.

Ki also sees a collaboration with singer Ché Dorval. Her striking vocals and at times gentle croons add several new dimensions to this material. While the likes of the "Disruptr" and "Gato" (where Dev revisits his sharp growl for ol’ times sake) dashes through various build ups with several different vocal styles, Dorval really shines on the latter.

"Terminal" is very Floyd esque and reminiscent of "Nobody’s Here" (Terria) and slowly grows till the listener is in a trance like state. Its swooning atmospherics only serve briefly as "Heaven Send" summons a lively drum beat and moves through vivacious vocal alterations.

Ki is a much more serious record than Ziltoid that’s for sure but "Trainfire" dabbles in some much needed fun, firing through lively leads and lyrics like “sexy seventeen year old”.

Returning to the textured and multi layered resonance, "Lady Helen" is the aural equivalence of a light afternoon breeze and its drift into the ethereal culmination of the title track is seamless.

Ki wondrously weaves intricate prog laden passages with an ever absorbing eccentricity that we always come to expect from Devin Townsend. The second album in the series, Addicted, lands in November supposedly portraying a more accessible, “dance-able”


Thursday, September 17, 2009

New Between The Buried And Me track

At long last, after much anticipation Between The Buried And Me have released a new track “Obfuscation” from their forthcoming new album The Great Misdirect.

Firstly, Between The Buried And Me’s musical proficiency is well and truly in tact, leaving you wondering is it illegal to be this talented? A clean and vivacious guitar lead opens proceeding and wasting no time “Obfuscation” tears down the walls when Tommy Rogers unmistakeable roar enters.

Glaring riffs provide for some incredible hooks and gusts through experimental sounds. Varying vocal styles occur in what could be construed as the chorus, and peculiarly enough “Obfuscation” is void of any clean singing.

Soon after a bass solo takes centre stage accompanied by strange electronically hindered chanting voices. But building above is a solo drenched in 70s vigour, the guitar leads then fall into some almost Eastern-like reverberation.

The “chorus” then returns for a gut wrenching climax replete with fret dazzling skill while Rogers vehemently scream his heart out. “Obfuscation” is a brisk 9 minutes and 15 seconds, one that suggests The Great Misdirect will be something very, very special.

You can listen to the track here now, simply enter your email address for Victory Records and the track is streamed free.

Alright The Captain - 123 EP

British/Irish math rock act Alright The Captain's debut EP 123. Click HERE

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Satriani & Coldplay: Dismissed

Late last year and into early this year guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani made claims that Coldplay had plagiarised his song “If I Could Fly” on their smash hit “Viva La Vida”. In retaliation to feeling his work was copied Satriani proceeded to take legal action against the mass unit shifters. "I felt like a dagger went right through my heart. It hurt so much," commented Satriani when asked about the band's song.

In response to the allegations Coldplay issued a statement reading; "If there are any similarities between our two pieces of music, they are entirely coincidental, and just as surprising to us as to him."

It has now been revealed that, despite court proceedings being kept tight lipped, the case has been dismissed.

So, it would seem that the legalities are over but the debate between fans certainly continues (watch the video below to judge yourself). It’s been a while since the situation has popped up in press. Time for my opinion. I agree with Satriani feeling that he was wronged. But cases like this are nigh on impossible to win unless the evidence is overwhelming and here it wasn’t. It’s one song, not a whole album or a large body of work. Satriani went with his gut and tackled this issue because he felt his art was disrespected, it’s admiral but was, in the end, fruitless.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

You sir are a wanker

I just had to chime in with my two cents on Kanye West being a right cunt at the MTV Video Music Awards last weekend. The gay fish struck again with his narcissistic ways when he interrupted the acceptance speech of 19 year country singer Taylor Swift. The newcomer impressively picked up the award for Best Female Video, beating the likes of Beyonce and Pink. West came on stage, somewhat forcefully (yeah, I said it) took the mic from Swift and proclaimed that Beyonce deserved the award, completely robbing Swift of her moment in the sun and giving people like myself more ammo to hate him with.

His egotistical actions and ramblings have really gotten my goat in the past and this took the biscuit. I don’t give a fuck how much of a Kanye fan you are, you can’t defend this. If you do, you’re a bigger douce then he is.


President Obama wasn't too pleased either...

Monday, September 14, 2009

New Katatonia track

At long last! Some new material from Katatonia. “Forsaker” is still very much in the vein of the band’s previous record The Great Cold Distance. It feels like a natural and healthy progression. Vocally, Jonas Renske is on top form as his ethereally gentle croon wavers over crushing double bass drumming and atmospheric riffs.

Presumably indicative of the new album, Night Is The New Day, “Forsaker” has set a grand tone. The album is released in November.

Megadeth - Endgame

Are you ready to have your fuckin' face torn off? Well, you should! Endgame, the new Megadeth album, has finally arrived and it will tear your face off, click HERE to find out why!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Distributor - Depth Of Perception

A solid debut from Wicklow prog metal outfit, Distributor. Click the cover below to read about Depth Of Perception.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Woeful cover versions pt.2

It’s been a while since I’ve bitched about dire covers. So, here’s pt.2 of Woeful Cover Versions!

Sign – Run To The Hills
(Iron Maiden)
In two seconds the song is immediately deemed terrible. As soon as that anaemic little voice comes in on this horrendously modified version of “Run To The Hills” you know this is going to be painful. Take my advice and just don’t even attempt to listen to it. It would make any Maiden fan hurl.

Avril Lavigne – Fuel
Thankfully, it was never recorded, only played live at MTV Icon: Metallica. I look at “Fuel” as a diamond in the rough, a great song from an overall dull period in the Metallica discography. So, for Avril Lavigne to desecrate it with her ghastly insipid voice was just disgusting, but the worst part is that Metallica liked it!

Gym Class Heroes – Laid To Rest
(Lamb Of God)
Ok, I’m just having a laugh with this one. It’s awful (and they only partially play it) and I hate Gym Class Heroes but even I think that this was funny:
“Laid To Rest” starts at 1.20

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Murdock return

One of Offaly’s finest, Murdock have completed their second album Vol. II: Strangers On The Shore. It’s set for a release on September 20th, with an album launch show in Tullamore:

Listen to two new tracks, “Manifesto Molesto” and “The War You Cannot Win” HERE or check out the video for the frankly awesome “Men In Suits… Running” right here:

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Song For Chi

As you probably know very well Deftones’ bassist Chi Cheng was involved in a horrific car accident last November.

Since then he has been in a coma but he remains stable. The band and his family have been raising funds for insurance, for his recovery. Fieldy from Korn has headed up the initiative of recording an instrumental track, “A Song For Chi” featuring an all star line up. The musicians on this track would have any fan salivating, if only it was under different circumstances.

The track features Fieldy, Munky, and Ray Luzier from Korn and also former guitarist Head. Rob Trujillo from Metallica, Adam D (KSE), Dave McClain from Machine Head, Jim Root and Sid Wilson from Slipknot, Wayne Lozinak (Hatebreed) to mention only a few.

Listen to brilliant track here, or avail of the free download at Also check and donate if you can.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

New tracks round up

Jesus, there’s plenty of new music landing. Here are two new tracks that caught my attention:

Hatebreed – In Ashes They Shall Reap
Fresh off the release of their covers album, For The Lions, earlier this year. The new Hatebreed record, self titled, is scheduled for release the 29th September. “In Ashes They Shall Reap” is the first track from the album to see the light of day.

It opens with some war cries from Jamey Jasta and it’s ready to incite chaos. There’s one thing that stands out about Hatebreed, they’ve successfully appealed to both metal and hardcore circles. Here, they retain their hardcore credentials but seem to have one foot more firmly in metal.

Vocally Jasta has experimented with some new tones. In interviews he’s mentioned “clean vocals” on the album, and of course the idea of big clean singing choruses is unlikely but the vocals differ here and it’s a welcome change.

Jesu – Deflated
Justin Broadrick is keeping busy this year, issuing the new Jesu release, the mind blowing Infinity and the split EP with Envy. Now, coming up this October is a new EP, Opiate Sun. Firstly, unlike much of Jesu’s previous output the vocals are far more audible amongst the cadenced noise. “Deflated” sounds much more (dare I say) commercial too and oddly upbeat. Is this the bastion for a drastic change in Broadrick’s work? Who knows, but one thing is certain, “Deflated” is stunning!