Thursday, October 28, 2010
The latest album by My Silent Wake is the sonic equivalent of a pile driver slamming support beams into solid granite, slow powerful and consistent. Their recent effort is entitled Et Lux Perpetua, this group of doomsters from England is heavier than ever. Featuring vocals and guitars by Ian Arkley make no mistake that this record is one of the heaviest things this reviewer has heard this year.
With offerings here a bit shorter than some of MSW’s previous compositions, but don’t mistake for ‘compromise’ (you’re kidding right?). With more direct and tighter songs Et Lux Perpetua is directed right at those of us with a slightly shorter attention span, every song here clocks in between 5-7 minutes with one shorter than five and one slightly longer than seven.
The melodies continue to brood and explore the darker musical passages of music theory. Haunting chants appear throughout, but its Arkley’s vocal, which would tear plaster off the walls, that just is able to cut through the metal assault. Doom with some slight Prog type innovations, and I do me slight. My Silent Wake doesn’t attempt to redesign the wheel, but in their own way they make it their own.
Bleak Endless Winter appears here and again just like a blizzard brings carnage and leaves you smashed in its wake. Power rhythms and numbing riffage make this song a death blow if you’re not prepared. However the title track and opener delivers sonic punch that won’t be forgotten either.
Songs such as Graven Years, Death Becomes Us and Between Wake and Sleep will also the listener some solid headbanging entertainment. There are a few musical course changes here and there to offer a small and brief respite for you to catch your breath. You might want to do that quickly though, because the overkill of metal power will catch you off guard.
With solid production values, Et Lux Perpetua, offers atmosphere and strong metal sensibilities. The elements all seem to receive good separation and enhancement as needed. My Silent Wake has offered a solid platter of 8 doom inspired Opeth like songs that will fulfill even the most hardened metal head with glee.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Some of you hardcore metal heads out there might be wondering why I’m reviewing Leper. After all their Goth/Industrial sound is a far cry from what you usually find here at White Throne. Not too mention this isn’t usually my own favorite type of tunage.
With all that said, Leper’s Grrr release And Everybody Died is a gem. Having been released on Grrr Records the first thing you’ll know is that the production will be of higher quality. Grrr being the home of such stalwarts as the Glenn Kaiser Band, not to mention Resurrection Band itself.
I was very impressed with their performance at Up From the Ashes 3 in Temecula, California this past August. So much so that I spoke with their bass player and all around great guy Otto, who forwarded to me their album.
And Everybody Died doesn’t disappoint in the slightest from the beginning strands of Opening with its sample taken from Night of The Living Dead all the way through to Spielplatz (playground)which is a Rez cover by the way!; Leper have crafted an exceptional album of industrial gothic music. With influences from Pink Floyd, Mortal, The Cure, Sincerely Paul and Savior Machine this is a dark moody feast. Having recently toured with Grave Robber, Leper is the real deal.
To these ears the highlights on the song front would be Lyken (werewolf) with its extremely powerful and haunting melody, wrung out on the keyboards. This song demands to be played at maximum volume. From the subtle verses to the dominating musical bridges I must’ve played this song some 10 times in a row.
Following Lyken is the extremely catchy Ai Grija Ce Spui (watch what you say). Watch What You Say has a solid melody without sacrificing the element of darkness with layers of emotion and passion. The vocal sample taken from the 1976 film Logan’s Run was sheer brilliance and adds just the right ambience. This tri-fecta of genius concludes with Lins (Lick), more moody and industrialized gothic rhythms with a dark vocal performance by Skot Shaw.
The other compositions on And Everybody Died are memorable, yet those three just got under my skin and dug in deep. Lyrically, all is not necessarily a happy rainbow of life, but more often than not, explorations of the darker parts of human nature. Yet hope remains, but Leper refuse to put a simple gloss on things and say, “It’s gonna be ok.” It’s implied more directly than not, but the reality of life is discussed in a way that’s honest and thought provoking.
Leper is a two piece band with Skot Shaw and Otto providing the musical cacophony within. I realize this release came out in 2009, but it is of such quality that it deserves to be reviewed even a year after its initial release. If Industrial Gothic is your favorite style or even if it just intrigues you And Everybody Died should be an immediate purchase.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Rein Xeeds new album is entitled Majestic and that title fits perfectly. The previous material by Rein Xeed honestly didn’t do much for me; it felt a little too indulgent. The vocals were unbearably high and the songs seemed to focus more on speedy solos without a hooky melody to keep you interested in the song.
Majestic is Grand Epic Metal at its finest. There are melodies that flow and soar like eagles, with the superb guitar playing to accent the compositions. Tommy Johansson has crafted a well thought out release of metal gems. His pallet of musical colors is wide and expansive with an emphasis on broad swaths of rich vibrant tones and soothing nuances of fabulous subtlety.
Simple hooky chorus are not what you’ll find here, but arrangements that build on each other. The atmosphere is truly one of adventure amongst green mountains and rushing waters. With guitars that are distinctive but not used as a sledgehammer. The elements of melody brought to the forefront. The solos don’t fall into a ‘heard this before’ but are used to paint the tapestry of musical genius.
Clearly Rein Xeed with this their fourth release has stumbled upon or rather has crafted a sound that delivers the image they’ve crafted for themselves. Using stories to communicate to their audience suits this release just fine. According to the band bio “Big bombastic music with big lyrics with stories and legends that has been told for centuries with a heavenly hope.” I’d agree with that summation. My favourite song here is Never Lie, a wondrous composition with swirling elements of melody with the driving backbone of guitar and drums. The epic chorus’s and large production sound drive this amazing album.
The keyboard used is part of those subtle nuances that don’t over dominate or dictate how the songs are structured, but rather are used to fill in those background elements which add to the richness of the album. The rhythm section is stunning with solid drumming and bass playing with superior sound.
Perhaps the thing that stood out to me is that Johansson has controlled his vocal performance. Clearly he sings in the upper register but this time he doesn’t scrape the stratosphere as in the bonus track from 2007s The Light, When Will I Know I’m Free.
Majestic is melodic, epic, heavy power metal, with soaring vocals that complete a very mature album. This doesn’t sound like a band trying to be something that they’re not, or sound like a band trying to ‘find’ their sound. Rein Xeed have found their style, sound, calling and here’s to future music they’ll make.
Fans of 7Days, The Sacrificed should find this release appealing. It delivers on a grand scale musically; time will tell if Majestic will catch on in the metal community. However from where I sit there can be no mistake that Rein Xeed have offered up a very compelling album of classically influenced power metal that is the real thing. Here's to Liljegren Records and hoping to hear more releases from them! Miss it at your own risk.
Holy Blood are back with what I perceive is their best offering to date. Shining Sun is chock full of engaging folk inspired metal. The songs are catchy and melodic with both male and female vocals. It should be mentioned that this is almost a completely different Holy Blood lineup then the one who recorded their previous releases. Only vocalist Fedor Buzilevich remains and he has assembled a wonderful collection of musicians.
On previous releases I noticed some folk influences but at times I felt they were obscured by the more extreme elements brought to bear. That is not the case on Shining Sun. A much more polished and accessible sound is evident here. There are still elements of extreme metal, primarily the vocals which still carry a hint of black metal stylings. However that element is NOT the dominant genre here.
The strong element of non ‘metal’ instruments is fantastic. The block fluta, valinca and buzka are mixed in with lofty vocal harmonies and chants. At times operatic vocals used and bagpipes as well. However the metal is still there, but this album should appeal to anyone who enjoys folk metal, symphonic and operatic styles of metal. The melodies are wonderful. This is the type of music that creates a vision in one’s imagination that you want to revisit again and again.
On the production front the instruments are mixed well and some fantastic tones are recorded here. The melodic guitar parts add that crunch and drive but do take a bit of back seat to the vocal and the folk instruments. However that just makes this album more appealing, Holy Blood have really created a special album here.
I wasn’t 100% sure if this album would appeal to me, because Waves are Dancing really didn’t do it for me. However after listening to Shining Sun my interest is peaked to go revisit their previous albums, but I have a feeling they won’t do justice to this particular release.
Shining Sun is a masterpiece in the folk metal genre. What else can I say? The vocals are still in Ukrainian/Russian but they aren’t the distraction I thought they would be. The album has a great booklet with a complete English translation of all the lyrics. Holy Blood even included photos of the lineup that started the album and the one who finished it. If that wasn’t enough the video for the song Shining Sun is included on the CD as well.
A fantastic album of heavy metal goodness awaits anyone who wants a little variety with their metal. Not a mellowing but a different atmosphere. Holy Blood’s Shining Sun is an amazing release that deserves your attention. Enjoy!
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Temporary Insanity a salute to Deliverance is the latest release from Roxx Records. This particular album is, as the title suggests, a tribute release to the legendary metal act Deliverance. Produced in association with the Christian Metal Realm, Bill Bafford and Arttie Parker have brought together an assemblage of talent this is not often seen.
This particular release features such artists as Oil, Coriolis, Grave Robber, Grave Forsaken, The Sacrificed, Faith Factor, Stricken, Krig, Leper, Fasedown, Applehead, Ultimatum, Glenn Rogers, Roy Z, Josh Kramer and many more. All of the bands represented are participants in the online forum, The Christian Metal Realm. Each group was allowed to choose a song that meant something to them. Temporary Insanity has 27 such songs of inspiration.
The tracks come from throughout Jimmy Brown’s catalog of Deliverance material. No Time, Weapons of Our Warfare, Awake, Belltown, The Call, Words to the, River Disturbance, Learn is just some of the songs that are covered here. Stirring renditions all, powerful guitar driven, drum pounding versions that’ll please just about any metal head.
Jimmy Brown and Company has even given us three new recordings. Two of the new recordings are of older songs Flesh and Blood and In U; both songs have a new sheen and are worth their weight. The third recording is of an unreleased song entitled Hunger and Thirst. Hunger is a straight ahead metal tune along the lines of what was on their last studio album As Above So Below.
Some of the immediate stand out performances include, Krigs full death version of Weapons of Our Warfare, Grave Robbers swing version of Awake, Coriolis gave a stunning industrial version of What a Joke. Grave Forsaken showed why they’re a force to be reckoned with playing Bought by Blood. Strickens version of No Time and the combination of Fasedown and Ultimatum gave us screaming rendition of What a Joke. Not every performance is note worthy, but for one or two suspect tracks that leaves what??? 27-28 tracks which just shine like the sun.
The production at times is a little uneven due to the fact the tracks were recorded in various studios across the globe. Yet that doesn’t really deter the enjoyment of this disc at all, in a strange way it adds to community vibe. A nicely produced booklet is included with liner notes not just from Jimmy Brown, but members past and present as well as reminiscences by fellow musicians. An extremely classy insert that again just adds to quality of the project.
Jimmy Brown I’m sure had no idea 25 years ago that the art he would create would develop into a legacy that few artists can claim to have. Those who have been inspired by it are still coming out of the woodwork and those who’ve enjoyed his work through the years are proud to say that they’re old timers.
The first time I saw Deliverance was at the first H.I.S. Festival in Riverside California, June 1987. Glenn Rogers had just left the fold and Larry Farkas filled in that day on the lead guitar. It was 105 degrees outside this old movie theater where the show took place. I was there as part of the Soldier road crew, but also as a writer for White Throne. Hearing No Time was a treat then as it is now.
This collection is a fine tribute, even with the odd duplication of tracks. Artists both old and new who participated should hold their heads and chops high. Deliverance has earned its place in music history, or Divine Providence has placed them in a place of influence that shows no sign of waning anytime soon. Blessings to ya Jimmy.
Friday, October 8, 2010
Matt Hunt at Retroactive Records continues to find and put out rare and quality out of print hard rock and heavy metal with a Christian point of view. One of those bands is Messiah. You never heard of Messiah you say? Well you wouldn’t be alone in that, they were virtually unknown outside of a few isolated pockets in the Midwest in the early 80’s.
Yet over the years the few copies of their vinyl albums that made it out into circulation have continued to escalate in value, with some collectors paying up to $1000 for a copy! Simply amazing if you ask me, well Messiah’s debut album entitled The Final Warning is now available for the first time on CD. Retroactive will also be making a limited run of vinyl available as well.
The band also released an EP called Going Insane that will also be available from Retroactive. The Final Warning however is a solid slab of American Hard Rock/Metal taking a large slice from the Blue Oyster Cult (Buck Dharma inspired) playbook, with that slightly more mysterious and moody atmosphere aka Don’t Fear the Reaper, Astronomy or Shooting Shark.
With that in mind The Final Warning is surprising with some solid hooks and above average song writing. Who’s to Blame, Outta Control and despite its lackluster title, Heavenly Metal, all deliver the above average metal goods. The musical whimsy is strong and heavy (late 70’s early 80’s heavy) with a nice polish to it.
Over the years I had heard less then complimentary evaluations of this album. Yet I’ve found this a pretty enjoyable listen. The production is a bit dated but compared to many other releases from the same time era it’s very comparable.
Messiah’s The Final Warning has shown itself to be a surprise. It is even more surprising that this release wasn’t made more available back in the day. With that said this album is one to grab and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.