Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Reinxeeds latest album, entitled 1912, offers up another brisk melodic metal assault full of soaring melodies and technical guitar playing. It hasn’t even been a year since their last release so one must wonder if Tommy Johannson ever sleeps!
The entire release is based around the sailing and subsequent sinking of the Titanic. That great passenger ship of another time, the lyrical themes are sweeping and epic. They fit the grand sweeping melodies that carry the musical passages of 1912.
Musically 1912 carries on where their previous release ‘Majestic’ left off. However the strength of the melodies and hooks are stronger, growth as songwriters is the order of the day. The hooks for example in We Must Go Faster and The Final Hour are solid and show a deeper growth. With a more direct songwriting style Reinxeed is at it’s most effective.
You won’t find too much that is groundbreaking on this release, but if you’ve already played out your copy of Majestic, 1912 will fulfill your musical need rather nicely. Yet tunes such as the title track sneak up on you and dig in your consciousness deeply.
The production is crisp with a bright technical atmosphere. The vibe is there and it resonates through out the album.
This is a good album worthy of 7 axes.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Hguols are back with another musical adventure into the macabre. This release entitled Depiction Under the Obscure Delusion picks up where their previous releases left off, a palette of instrumental black metal through the use of a MIDI and other computerized devices.
The use of a MIDI might seem a bit odd but for the sound Hguols is shooting for, it fits their purposes just fine. This particular album moves through various moods and templates of tempo and style. Much of what has been heard on previous releases is found here. The tag line for Hguols has been THE bombastic black metal soundtrack, and that seems to fit the bill this time out as well.
However with only five tracks on this release, it lends itself to having much longer songs. Four out off the five clock in at over eight minutes. There were several times I wondered if I had missed the beginning of the next song. The melodies I found were a bit harder to follow due to the length of the tracks, and with that my attention span wandered.
This time it also seemed that the drums were mixed with so reverb that they got a bit lost in the over musical tapestry. I knew they were there, but they lacked definition and it seemed at times with so much reverb they overpowered other elements of the music.
Medieval organ, harpsichord, and choir type orchestrations provide a moody 1-2 punch throughout. My favorite track was the haunting The Inexorable Interlude, I often wondered if it could be used as soundtrack music to the 1922 German film classic Nosferatu.
If you enjoyed Hguols previous releases no doubt you’ll enjoy this one as well. It just left me a little flat this time out.
Crucible Divine has released their debut album entitled Commitment. Hailing from Oklahoma Crucible Divine is actually the brainchild of guitar player Raymond Christie. He invited several friends from previous bands to contribute to this release.
Clint Glazer from Eyewitness provides the vocals, Brandon Lopes from Broken Flesh offers his drumming skills, and Kevin Wale delivers on lead guitar and shares the rhythm guitar duties with Ray Christie. In addition Wale and Christie played the bass tracks throughout. Michele Laymon provides the lead vocal on the song Let You Reign, a female vocal which stands out in stark contrast to Glazer’s gritty delivery throughout the rest of the album.
Musically Crucible Divine is an amalgam of different styles. One moment they deliver a strong heavy metal song in Woe to You; yet they offer a melodic 80’s pop metal sound on tracks like Won’t Let Go and Commitment. As you move deeper into the album praise elements stand forth with songs such as Let You Reign and Tell Me. The latter is actually more of a Bon Jovi styled rock ballad circa 1988.
For myself, this sort of scatter shot approach of musical styles drives me crazy. It reminds of some of those early 80’s Rez Band albums where I didn’t know if they were a pop band, new wave band, blues band or rock band. In a similar vein Stryper adopted this style of 2-3 heavy songs, 2-3 poppy songs, 2 ballads ect. It is with much frustration that I would like maybe 30-40% of an album and ditch the rest.
The songs here aren’t bad songs, but they simply aren’t consistent in style. When I buy an album I would hope to hear a consistent style throughout. That’s a personal preference; it would be like hearing Stryper’s song All of Me and hoping the rest of the album is like that. What would you do when you came to More Than a Man or The Way?
A solid production template is evident with clean and crisp tones throughout. Plenty of separation and depth allows the instruments their own space in the mix.
I found most of the songs to be a bit more worthy than memorable. That has nothing to do with style but with strength. A good or great song sticks in the brain after the album is done. That was a factor I didn’t find here, strong effort but the payoff was a bit lacking.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
The Red Fist Revolution is upon us! This concept album put together by Ben Stewart (Conspiracy of Thought) takes elements of Muse, System of the Down and Nine Inch Nails and offers a solid release of hook laden modern hard rock/metal.
Entitled The Fall of Goliath, this is the story of a one man’s revolt against a worldwide government system. The concept is woven throughout the album’s 14 tracks. The included booklet gives you the complete lowdown on the intricate plot line. If Larry Norman were starting his musical career today this is the type of release he would have offered. Is Ben Stewart Christian rocks newest angry young man? Perhaps forceful enthusiasm is a better way to look at it.
Musically the songs are punchy and to the point. At times the groove forces one to start tapping their proverbial foot, modern guitar driven hard rock with keyboard and piano. 15 months of work have brought forth an album that goes beyond the safe bounds of the expected Christian artist. Songs such Working Class Automaton, Class War, Fall Goliath Fall and Down in the Valley deliver a thought provoking message of social conscience.
In a case where art mirrors life this album has many eerie parallels to what we have seen in the news in places like Egypt, Tunisia, and England. Whether you agree with the political statements, albeit within a story format, is irrelevant in one’s enjoyment of The Fall of Goliath.
The Fall of Goliath has strong production values. The palette of tones is strong with enough diversity within a strong continuity to provide a very enjoyable listening experience. This is an album that’ll give your ole woofers a workout.
This album rocks with a decidedly modern vibe and does it well. Youngside Records has really taken a step of faith and released an album that causes one to think, while rocking all the way. The Fall of Goliath might not be your normal musical faire but isn’t it good to mix it up once in a while.
Monday, August 1, 2011
The fifth release by Believer has descended upon us with great anticipation. Transhuman is their second release on Metal Blade and perhaps the two greatest questions that come with this release is exactly what musical direction will this release take and in conjunction with that, what lyrical direction will be offered to the listener.
Believer’s first three discs were technical thrash with symphonic elements that were stunning and original. Lyrically an upfront Christian worldview was presented without question. After 1993's Dimensions the band called it a day and moved on to other endeavors. However in 2009 a newly reformed Believer released their fourth album entitled Gabriel. This album wasn’t as nearly thrash inspired as previous material but moved in more progressive areas of musical exploration. That’s not to say it was a lightweight disc, not by any stretch but definitely more exploration was incorporated.
Lyrically things were a bit more obscure as well, leaving many fans wondering what exactly did Believer believe. This thought came by reading various interviews as well where it seemed that the band was distancing itself from its original spiritual roots. A more philosophical tone appeared in answer to various questions. A refutation of the past?
Well all of that being said Transhuman is now before us and one intriguing release it is. The trademark Believer, Kurt Bachman guitar tone is there in earnest and Joey Daub never sounded better on the drum kit. Electronic elements abound as well with great effect and motion. Perhaps the description I’ve read throughout the blogosphere that is adept, "take Tool, Voivod, NIN and Destruction" throw it into a blender and it comes out Believerized.
Transhuman is a heavy record of epic proportions with amazing elements of melody combined with a solid 1-2 punch. Bachman’s vocal is a stunning display of strength of depth as he expanded to a much more melody driven performance. Songs such as Lie Awake and Mindsteps benefited tremendously from this expansion of style. These bits of musical drama offer something more than the traditional bang yer head. Chorus arrangements that stick with you and make want to SING along! Strange these days I realize, but a welcome surprise!
Technical exploration is still evident in compositions such as G.U.T. and Clean Room. However these jaunts beyond the norm aren’t overly self indulgent and mind numbing. In fact the more direct approach pays off dividends. Overall a powerful album musically that joins the ranks of Cynic and Pestilence quite nicely.
Transhuman is a grower as far as listening time. One time through and several songs, Multiverse and Ego Machine for example just grab you with their combination of punch and drive. Entanglement is just that, its tendrils reach out and slither their way into your psyche, holding you down until the knock out blow is delivered. A rather large tapestry is woven here, and it’s most effective.
Lyrically this album deals with the issues of medical ethics in a world of advanced technology and how one affects the other. Undoubtedly great pains were taken in assembling the lyrical monographs used in this release. However one is left wondering what the reference point is? Is this simply a reflection of questions without conclusions?
After all if you bring this to the table there should be some sort of basis for the emotional reasoning brought by the lyrics. At times I’m just wondering without pigeonholing anyone, what does Believer believe in regards to the issues discussed?
Transhuman is undoubtedly one of the finest releases of 2011. Some may be hard pressed to hear the Believer of old in these compositions, you won’t find much. However what you will find is world class progressive extreme metal with the lyrical depth of Hemmingway. Don’t hesitate in obtaining this release, you won’t regret it.