Monday, May 31, 2010

Anathema - We're Here Because We're Here

Since 1990, Anathema have, with solemnity, inescapably tugged on listeners’ heartstrings through deafening, ear shattering riffage and creating ethereal swooning reverie-like states. This assiduous and well preserved balance between the dark and soothing has resulted in Anathema being one of the most esteemed at their melancholic craft.

Earlier, more crushing material like that of The Silent Enigma has found itself over the years altered and experimented with. It all came to somewhat of a peak with 1998’s Alternative 4, a more laconic but still uncompromising record delving into progressive realms but retaining a slight salute to their sounds of yore. With a mass acclaimed follow up in Judgement the transfer to pastures new has seemed to pay off, considerably.

The venture into the 21st century then saw Anathema heed even more ambient musical landscapes, making the band in 2010 seem the day and the early-mid 90s the night, different yet still the same twenty four hour period. That transition has been an enthralling one to witness from the start and with seven years since a new studio output, the notions of new Anathema material is an excitable one, to say the least.

Opening We’re Here Because We’re Here is 'Thin Air', a gorgeous, heavily layered and multi faceted lesson in scaling atmospherics, which shifts dramatically into the frantic and entrancing 'Summer Night Horizon', an otherworldly highlight of the record.

More saintly balladry beckons with 'Dreaming Light' and 'Everything', the latter being a shimmering emotively inspirational trek across elegant vocal harmonies and piano led beauty. Meanwhile, the captivatingly evocative 'Angels Walk Among Us' marks somewhat of a change for the record, giving way to slow burning verses which flow gently like a crystalline river into 'A Simple Mistake'.

'Get Off, Get Out' ups the tempo, seething with angular riffs and staccato vocals, all of which are unavoidably reminiscent of Porcupine Tree. Closing two tracks, 'Universal' and the expected instrumental 'Hindsight', plunge the mood into some post rock territory utilising several orchestral synths. 'Hindsight' itself pulls the curtain down in miraculous fashion.

We’re Here Because We’re Here can only be described as a beautiful record, nothing less. It’s a breathtaking opus of wraithlike ambience and abstrusely emotive passages and pinnacles. Utterly engrossing.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

New In Case Of Fire tracks

This news is coming a little late so for that - apologies. Anyway, surely you all remember In Case Of Fire, who dropped their stunning debut last summer, Align The Planets? In fact, it was one of the finest debut records of the year and maybe even the decade, the hype that surrounded them was more than warranted. Not convinced? Click HERE. But now, they’re getting active again and penning a new album.

The single ‘Are You Ready?’ is going to be released on June 7th for free download and can be heard now on their myspace HERE. The track’s another hook laden gem which merely ups the ante for the new record. However that’s not all the band have released another track. This one, an early version of a song for the new effort entitled ‘Burn The Bridges’. This can be heard HERE.This even surpasses ‘Are You Ready’, being more abrasive and ruthless. The new album couldn’t come any sooner.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Pain Of Salvation - Road Salt One

Sweden’s Pain Of Salvation are back, back proper, after last year’s Linoleum EP the returning effort from 2007’s Scarsick record. Road Salt One, as its title would suggest, is the first part of a double album conceptual pairing. Pain Of Salvation have always been a band fearless to experiment and have genuinely shattered any pre-conceived notions of a comfort zone. They are one of the few entities in the rock and metal sphere that have actually taken drastic steps to change their sound, and as a result completely de-familiarise fans’ understanding. For some it’s a daring move, for others it’s foolhardy and too far. Tracks like the beat swamped 'Disco Queen' and the rap and hip hop obliterating 'Spitfall' both edify this musical ethos.

Road Salt One surprises in one sense, but it’s an expected surprise if you will. Its direction is that of an unavoidable and fluid 70s blues and prog vibe running confidently throughout, with a few hints of deviancy here and there. Opener, 'No Way' comes thudding through the speakers with an inimitable swagger, coolness and slight egoism.

But then 'Sisters'’ lonesome edge and dramatic passages make it Road Salt’s highlight. It’s exemplary of Daniel Gildenlöw’s staggering vocal abilities – an enthralling deviation. However, in its most abrasive moments Road Salt exalts many gritty riffs and rhymes. 'Linoleum' trades a massive riff with Gildenlöw’s raspy and resolute vocals. Meanwhile, the punchy 'Curiosity' pushes unabashed hooks in your face.

Then, 'Darkness Of Mine' exudes some near Jeff Buckley-like vocals. For the most part, Road Salt is packed with quirky, sexual lyrics – “semen stains wash out surprisingly easily” ('Sleeping Under The Stars').

'Road Salt', the title track, a song which POS actually entered for the Swedish Eurovision song, creates an ambient edge before closing track, 'Innocence'. To close it’s broody and party glum as it scales up gently to a wavering conclusion.

Like most Pain Of Salvation records, Road Salt One is overrun with ideas. As this is part one of the concept whether or not those ideas have fully unravelled themselves remains to be seen. Part one though offers up some remarkable moments and staggers in only a few.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Red Sparowes - The Fear Is Excruciating, But Therein Lies The Answer

The Fear Is Excruciating, But Therein Lies The Answer is Red Sparowes’ third record, the long over due follow up to 2006’s Every Red Heart Shines Toward The Red Sun. However they did a sate our appetites, somewhat, with the Aphorisms EP in 2008. But a new long player from the modern post rock soundscape masters was seemingly what the doctor ordered.
On this occasion, they’ve left out the track titles 40-odd words in length and opted for ones a little less tricky to recite. It makes recommending tracks easier, one must add. But while The Fear Is… is rife with several moments worth recommending, it doesn’t deliver as many it potentially could have.

In their previous releases Red Sparowes have always been about imagery and conjuring up wondrous aural vistas. With the aid of projections in their stage show they’ve managed this diligently. This third effort maintains this standard, but not really throwing any spanners in the work or adding some new spices to the mix.

However, the dreamy jaunt of 'Giving Birth To Imagined Saviors' yields some staggering, yet smooth ambience all building to that ever vital crescendo. 'In Every Mind' elegantly meanders until that avalanching sound comes crashing down on the proceedings.

'A Swarm' then swans in and out of mellow and distorted passages before smoothing out until its conclusion. But following a somewhat bluesy beginning, 'A Mutiny' unfortunately plods along into some unwelcome monotony.

'As Each End Looms And Subsides', closing the record, has a gloomy aura and introduces some more ambience as it progresses and shifts in and out of different timbres. It is a peak for the album but comes just a little too late to really salvage the record as a whole. The biggest downfall on The Fear Is Excruciating, But Therein Lies The Answer is that it whirrs around in a tedium. But it still offers up some marvellous moments, only sporadically throughout, mind.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pendulum featuring Steven Wilson and In Flames

On two tracks on their new album Immersion, Australian dance/rock bonders Pendulum have collaborated with Steven Wilson and In Flames, respectively.

‘The Fountain’, features vocals from Wilson and is a meandering frantic electronic-led hook machine. Its chorus is unavoidable and the track as a whole shifts in and out of varying moods.

In Flames appear on ‘Self Vs. Self’. The riffs wouldn’t have sounded out of place on last effort A Sense Of Purpose. The same can be said for Anders Fridén’s vocal lines, which blend rather well in harmonies with Rob Swire.

As mentioned, both tracks are extremely hook laden – an obvious focal point of Pendulum’s otherwise bland output.

Paul Gray passes away

Slipknot bass player Paul Gray has passed away, it comes with great sadness to report. He was found in his Des Moines, Iowa hotel room by a staff member. A cause of death is yet to be determined. However police have dismissed any suspicion of foul play. The investigation continues.

This marks another unfortunate, tragic and far too early death in the world of metal. You don’t need reminding that Paul Gray was an integral part in the 9 piece puzzle that is Slipknot – one of the biggest metal bands of the last decade and indeed of all time. Condolences go out to Gray’s family, friends and band mates.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Wormrot - Abuse

Devastating, relentless, with absolutely no let up. That’s a concise and very simple description of Singaporean grindcore outfit Wormrot’s debut record, Abuse. The title of the album itself is plainly indicative too of the music’s delivery and somewhat brashness – aurally abusive.

Equipped merely with a drummer, guitarist and frenzied vocalist, Wormrot unleash a deafening and bloodthirsty cacophonous barrage across the record’s 23 tracks, clocking in at just over 20 minutes. This is grindcore as it was more or less intended – zero bullshit, swift and furious.

From the first animalistic barbarisms of 'Lost Swines' and 'Exterminate', the energy reaches, instantaneously, a fever pitch with pummelling drumming, gritty riffs and throat corroding vocals.

While in essence all is a tad simplistic, not once does Abuse become disconcertingly repetitive. In its unforgiving nature holds your attention from the get go, something only the best band grind bands can do and do well. But a few spanners are thrown in the works. There’s an unholy 43 second re-working of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ 'Rich'. 'Fuck… I’m Drunk!' has what could almost be considered a ‘clean riff’ and 'Murder' comes bounding with catchy gang vocals.

Not since Nasum breathed new life into the genre twelve years ago with the groundbreaking Inhale / Exhale, and to a degree, Insect Warfare’s World Extermination (2007), has grindcore sounded so fresh, exciting and invigorating. Wormrot’s Abuse can purely be called a belter of neck wrecking proportions.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Isis break up

Post metal pioneers Isis have officially announced their plans to call the band a day. The band released the following statement regarding this split:

"ISIS has reached an end. It's hard to try to say it in any delicate way, and it is a truth that is best spoken plainly. This end isn't something that occurred over night and it hasn't been brought about by a single cataclysmic fracture in the band.

Simply put, ISIS has done everything we wanted to do, said everything we wanted to say. In the interest of preserving the love we have of this band, for each other, for the music made and for all the people who have continually supported us, it is time to bring it to a close.

In more immediate and practical terms the tour we are about to embark upon is indeed our last. We are hoping that these final live rituals can help us bring a close to the life of this band in a celebratory and reverent way, and also provide us with a chance to say goodbye to many of those that have supported us over the years.

After the tour we also plan to follow through with other projects set in motion some time ago - pursuing the completion of a final EP, compiling live audio and visual material for future releases, and generally doing whatever we can to make our music available for as long as there are people who wish to hear it.

Thanks again to any and all."

With releases like first album Celestial, the groundbreaking Oceanic and Panopticon, through to last year’s stunning Wavering Radiant, Isis consistently delivered crushing, innovative works that have gone heavily copied in their wake, but never matched. This news comes as extremely saddening to all fans, but we wish them the best in all their endeavours.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ronnie James Dio passes away

The legend, the man that could honestly be called metal incarnate – Ronnie James Dio has passed away after his battle with stomach cancer. His wife, Wendy issued the following statement:

“Today my heart is broken, Ronnie passed away at 7:45 a.m. [on Sunday] 16th May. Many, many friends and family were able to say their private goodbyes before he peacefully passed away.”

“Ronnie knew how much he was loved by all. We so appreciate the love and support that you have all given us. Please give us a few days of privacy to deal with this terrible loss.”

“Please know he loved you all and his music will live on forever.”

Metal has lost a truly great voice and a truly great man, that was loved by all. Through all divisive opinions and ramblings in the metal community, can you honestly think of a moment where Dio was unjustly lambasted? No, you can’t – he was that loved.

Dio became the legend that he is by fronting Rainbow, Black Sabbath, his solo career and up until his death, Heaven & Hell. He is the only man that can lay claim to singing on three bona fide classic albums with three classic bands – Rising, Heaven & Hell and Holy Diver.

Ronnie James Dio, you will be missed by every fan that stood in awe at the “little man with the big voice”; you gave us the devil horns too. So, with that we raise them in unison to you now. RIP.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

New Far track

After a ten years of inactivity, Californian post hardcore pioneers Far return this month with new record – At Night We Live. The premier of new track ‘Give Me A Reason’ can be heard HERE.

The track marks no major departures, but is overrun with enticing melodies and Jonah Matranga vocally on top form. ‘Give Me A Reason’ comes with a simple, infectious chorus – unsurprisingly of course.

Keep an eye out for At Night We Live.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Aether - Aether

Exciting new instrumental band from Dundalk, click HERE to read the review.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Joey Belladonna returns to Anthrax

After the usual internet rumours that plague stories like this, it’s now confirmed – Joey Belladonna has reunited with Anthrax, just in time for the historic Big 4 shows. The band was thrown into uncertainty last summer when new vocalist Dan Nelson abruptly left/was fired (nobody knows for sure). The band then played a show with the equally lauded John Bush. However, since then nothing about the state of Anthrax was elaborated on.

Scott Ian commented: “I am super-excited about this – Joey and I spent so many years of our lives together, we grew up together, we know each other so well, so it was like no time was lost.”

Rumours are still circulating as to whether or not Belladonna’s return to the band is a permanent one. There is also speculation that he will feature on the new Anthrax record, that was completed last year but with Nelson on vocals.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Deftones - Diamond Eyes

It’s said that in moments of grief and anguish that bring us together more than ever. In many respects it’s true, and with Deftones it’s more than true. In November 2008 bassist Chi Cheng was involved in a horrific car accident that left him in a coma, a coma that he is still in to this day. The band was, more or less, near completion of their new record at the time entitled Eros. With the tragedy all those plans were put on hold but after some months the band reconvened to play some shows with ex-Quicksand bassist Sergio Vega filling in. Before long talk of a new album sparked up again, Eros was scrapped (for now) and they started fresh. The fruit of their labour is this: Diamond Eyes.

The record leaked online a number of weeks before its release and in a frantic decision from both band and record label; the release date was brought forward. So, the truth is that the people have had plenty of time to digest this record.

Lead single, the (even more than) mass consumed by this stage, ‘Rocket Skates’ is urgently heavy and visceral but simultaneously ambient and soothing. Similarly, Diamond Eyes’ title track, and album opener, has an otherworldly wow factor, being ominously heavy only to surge through to a beautiful, epic and textured chorus. If anything it’s emblematic of Deftones as a whole, being dizzyingly sublime in its melody but completely and inescapably sharp when it needs to be.

From the primitive Deftones dawn on Adrenaline through their mystic, ethereal edge of White Pony, Chino Moreno has always utilised his voice as the band’s fifth instrument. Here, that continues. ‘976-Evil’ harks to soaring ambient numbers from yore - most notably ‘Digital Bath’ with its heady choruses.

But tracks like ‘Royal’ and ‘CMND/CTRL’ keep the abrasive aspects of Diamond Eyes at the level it needs to be. They’ll fill rock club dance floors soon. Meanwhile, ‘Sextape’ shifts things again. Similarly the imposing and swirling melodies of ‘Beauty School’ enthral with ease.

Diamond Eyes may not deliver in every aspect that its overwhelming hype and buzz promised, but the most important thing is that is does deliver. It’s a well deserved chin up, earned from wading through times of distress and uncertainty.


New Korn track

It’s an official one this time. Roadrunner Records are streaming Korn’s new single ‘Oildale (Leave Me Alone)’ and the track can be heard below. New album III: Remember Who You Are is released this summer.

This album also sees the return of producer Ross Robinson, who produced Korn’s first two albums and whose name quickly became synonymous with nu metal in the 90s.

Previous album Untitled marked another shift in Korn’s delivery, trimming down much of the heaviness in favour of near-prog influenced experimentation as well as some electronics. But with Robinson at the helm the old chunky, abrasive sound has returned on ‘Oildale (Leave Me Alone)’. Jonathan Davis has revisited his throaty vocals while Fieldy’s dirty slap bass is welcomed back.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Ocean - Heliocentric

Things have been rocky for Germany’s The Ocean, in their ten year history. But now in 2010 and with two concepts album scheduled for the year, the band have a steady line up, including a new vocalist in the overwhelmingly versatile Loïc Rossetti. It seems that guitarist and band leader Robin Staps’ vision is beginning to take a more solid, tangible shape.
Heliocentric is the follow to 2007’s elaborate Precambrian double album, a soaring piece of work that didn’t yield the positive results for the band that the music warranted. It was a victory, but a somewhat hollow and bitter one, as then The Ocean’s membership began to brittle off.

However, while members changed, the bold and meticulous nature hasn’t. This fourth effort is a concept record, beginning with heliocentricity, Galileo’s view that the earth revolves around the sun. From there it wades through various scientific discoveries with the album concluding on the tracks 'The Origin Of Species' and 'The Origin Of God', odes to Darwin and Richard Dawkins. This record will be followed by another by the year’s end – Anthropocentric, exhibiting some opposite ideas in concept. So to point out the agonisingly obvious, The Ocean are an ambitious collective.

An eerily calm intro in 'Shamayim' gives way to Heliocentric’s first track proper 'Firmament', a crushing and sprawling statement of intent for the record with Rossetti delivering sterling and harrowing vocals.

As whole the record is heaving with dynamic and textured melodies like that of 'Swallowed By The Earth' and devastating yet ornate and poignant passages that would tickle Isis’ and Mastodon’s sensibilities. All ten tracks with ease lay testament to this assiduous and rigorous blend.

Heliocentric includes a multitude of guest and sessions musicians bringing cellos, violins and trombones to its already vastly garnished palette. The album doesn’t for a moment fear its own experimentation delving into piano led balladry on 'Ptolemy Was Wrong'.

The Ocean have exceeded any expectation here with Heliocentric. After in-band turmoil and uncertainties about their future it’s genuinely exciting to see a record so exhilarating being slapped down on the table and demanding your attention.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Bullet For My Valentine - Fever

As far as contemporary British metal is concerned and the heavyweights within it, Bullet For My Valentine are one of the top guns. It’s a fact. Dislike them all you want and call them fags because of how they look, but the fact of the matter is that preferences aside, BFMV are one of the biggest young metal/alternative bands on the planet. Unlike, some of their counterparts in say a Funeral For A Friend or to an extent Lostprophets, they’ve made a massive dent Stateside, and their success over there looks to be only rising.

But with that said, Bullet still feel like a reasonably fresh act, even though debut record, The Poison was released way back in 2005. My, how time flies. That record was a solid one edifying barrel loads of potential and its subsequent touring schedule only strengthened those possibilities. But after a long slog of said touring, its follow up, Scream Aim Fire was an underwhelming and lacklustre affair. From its regurgitation of riffs from The Poison and overtly poppy manner, the album was just a sitting duck. But through that mire Bullet still excelled, success and sales wise and with some new momentum behind them, they didn’t take as long to follow it up with this – Fever.

Compared to its predecessor, Bullet must be commended for stepping up their game. But the bulk of this offering maintains one constant tone throughout. It’s not here to convert anyone necessarily, but will simultaneously continue their appeal to a vast, simplistic modern metal audience.

There’s an unavoidable presence of Killswitch Engage in the urgent opener and chorus of 'Your Betrayal'. Right through, the choruses are simple (i.e. the title track) and cohesive with Matt Tuck’s vocals, which he has most definitely expanded on, eschewing that identical vocal line that seemed to litter the last two records.

Songs like 'Begging For Mercy' have more and more of those chunky radio infiltrating, arena filling choruses. That said there are some inescapable cringe moments on Fever. It’s cluttered with clichéd metal song titles but that’s easy to look past but lyrics like “Can I die with you so we never get old?” are a little more difficulties to look away from. However, those are frivolous, far less important issues to be addressed on this record.

Fever’s production, for the most part is over polished and certainly far too glistening. In fact sunglasses should almost be released as an accompaniment for the record. Too much of that polishing emphasis is placed upon those catchiness-drenched riffs. Even though those hooks are Bullet’s focal point, here they stand unnecessarily high above all else and the bass is lost in the mix leaving the sound somewhat hollow and empty.

But closer, 'Pretty On The Outside' is a massive anthem destined for screaming fans in the mass crowds that inevitably await them. It’s by far Fever’s strongest moment amongst the rest which does anything but astonish. But despite its mediocrity hills of gold are visible in the distance.