Saturday, January 26, 2013
I’ve found out to my personal satisfaction about some really good bands that way, Messenger stands out immediately. Well Rizin is another indie I received recently; In Ruins is the title of their debut release. The band was formed in January of 2012 and this disc was released in December of 2012.
Their bio indicates that their influences range from 80’s metal to current metal sounds. On first listen I thought some of their stuff reminded me of Jacob’s Dream. Perhaps because of vocalist Dave Kruse, his range is similar to Chaz Bond. The band itself makes no bones about being a Christian Metal band with ministry as its primary objective.
The band is pretty heavy, make no mistake about it; they definitely lean toward a more traditional metal vein. However the songs suffer from muddy production. I’ve listened to this disc in my truck, on my computer and on my home stereo (yes I still have one of those!). After the fifth listen or so I got a bit more acclimated to the overall sound of the disc and was able to listen to it a bit more objectively.
Tracks like 6:12, In Ruins and This Present Darkness have some rather intriguing musical ideas. They all have great energy, which can be said for most of the material here. The recording process is also the most even sounding on those three tunes, in my opinion. I realize that I’m probably stirring up a hornets nest for reaction here, but this is NOT a knock against their ministry just an evaluation of the CD they released.
Sometimes it just sounds like there is so much going on that there isn’t enough separation. The double kick drums just get lost in several of the songs where they come into play. The production hampers the vocals the most, where I can’t tell if they’re flat, off key, or just awash in a vocal effect. Nightmares & Dreamscapes and Dying Peace are where this stands out the most.
I would bet in a live setting Rizin probably gives a strong performance. In my opinion I think they would’ve been better served to record six tracks and strengthen them production wise while continuing to fine tune their song writing skills. I’m gonna swing 6 axes this way as I bet Rizin is better then what I’m hearing on this disc. However I’m sure there will be many who will disagree with me, it wouldn’t be the first time.
You can order Rizin’s album In Ruins from many of the usual online shops.
Thursday, January 24, 2013
A song doesn’t have to be a three minute salvation tract in order to be ‘Christian’ does it? I think not; after all 1 Corinthians 13 is not known as the ‘salvation chapter’ is it. So to those whose view of what constitutes a Christian release is of a very narrow lyrical content probably won’t like this latest release from Boarders. R-Existence Deluxe Edition explores many different topics from a distinctly Christian point of view.
Exploring a wide array of subjects such as lying, standing against the world’s conventions, hatred, social injustice, Boarders opens a wide plethora of intellectual subjects that scream for self introspection. Not your usual fair lyrically, but Boarders seems to be a band willing to take risks. First off they originally released R-Existence as a free download over a year ago. A full complete metal album, free.
Musically R-Existence is a heavier release then their previous The World Hates Me. I was hard pressed to find any AC/DC influence on this album, having said that; the fact that this band used to be a Megadeth tribute band shouldn’t be a surprise after giving this album a spin. The influence of Megadeth is definitely there (think So Far So Good…. So What…. era), but Boarders makes it their own; not just a second rate rip off.
Whether its ripping through such bits of metal whimsy as Signs of Resistance or IV Reich (featuring Annihilator guitar Jeff Waters) or the pounding steel of The Agony of Lying, Boarders delivers a bit of thinking mans metal. I’m still surprised when I hear Lightbringer with its strong harmonies and quoted comments by Martin Luther King, unexpected but definitely a strong moment.
The songs are stronger and rock a bit harder with even higher quality musicianship. This CD release has a better sound quality then the free download, by far; richer sound with greater depth. Not to mention that this deluxe edition has five extra tracks. One instrumental, an acoustic version of the track Pure Gold with female vocals offered by Mariangela Scafati. This Time starts off sounding rather weak but the band delivers a powerful pseudo-ballad moment. Two demo’s from the band previous album are also included Deliver You Back to Hell and For What It’s Worth.
R-Existence is a solid slab of raging heavy metal. Thanks to Roxx Records you can grab this full album with some nice extras. If you want something with more intellectual acumen to go along with your screaming guitars R-Existence is without a doubt an album you must own.
Saturday, January 19, 2013
After a 7 year absence Rivera Bomma have returned with a brand new album entitled Infinite Journey of Souls. Retroactive Records is the purveyor of this ten track album which offers the listener an excursion into a journey of melodically progressive heavy metal, with a bent toward the commercial. Commercial in the sense of melody but not in 'softness,' just to make sure that is clear.
The songs themselves are for the most part immediately accessible. Not only are the accessible but they are MEMORABLE! An element that many songwriting seem to forget these days. The lead ‘single’ Empty Desire is a melodic masterpiece of metallic whimsy that just grabs you. It grabbed me, the guitar parts scream and it all just flows together, like a fine oil painting. The title track is a full heavy metal assault that twists and turns without losing steam, strap in and hold on. Johnny Bomma’s vocal is strong and powerful.
In Blood is a barnburner that drives full speed ahead, with such a tasty hook that I almost never saw it coming until it grabbed me. Nice song dynamics that really push this song over the top, clocking in at over 7 minutes this track is a journey but doesn’t feel at all like a 7 minute tune. Via Dolorosa is a cover of the old Sandi Patti tune, a power ballad that takes a right turn musically. This track is completely unexpected, a good rendition that is worthy of its place on this album.
Angels and Demons bring back the metal in a strong way. Horizons End takes the intensity back up a notch with Rod Rivera’s guitar histrionics shinning through out, a nice harmony with bass player Mike LePond is a solid plus. This track rocks make no mistake about it. The musicianship is of extremely high caliber that is worthy of international notice. LePond (Symphony X) offers the bass assault while Edward Faust pounds away on the drums.
Infinite Journey of Souls is a great album musically; I found myself air guitaring often and wanting to reply many of the tracks again and again. The melodies were infectious, yet the one thing that seems to hold the album back from being a classic is the production. The sound is so compressed; the instruments aren’t given space to breath and find their own home in the mix. The drums lack stereo separation, it’s almost like they’re in this center grove sonically that they need to break out of! Because of this the bass guitar and drums seem to be at the bottom of the valley, almost like the reverb button was on overdrive attempting a big sound that has swallowed up some of the stellar musicianship.
Infinite Journey of Souls is great album of melodically inspired heavy metal with strong progressive leanings. The songs are FAB and you can’t go wrong with Rivera’s guitar work. The production short comings shouldn’t prevent anyone from enjoying the songs themselves. 8 axes and here’s hoping we don’t have to weight so long for another release.
Friday, January 11, 2013
Golden Resurrection has returned with a barnburner of an album, entitled One Voice for the Kingdom. A much more up tempo release is in store for the listener as opposed to their previous album, Man with a
Mission. That opus
provided a much more commercial feel; it is quite clear that One Voice for the
Kingdom is a more straight ahead metal record with a stronger neoclassical
Tommy Reinxeed delivers again on the guitar; he is a tremendous player who has a keen sense of melody and nuance. He can also just plain shred when the song calls for it. Just listening to his playing during the two instrumentals will make a believer out of you, Heavenly Metal & Moore Lord are exceptional bits of guitar playing whimsy.
One of the things that really stood out to me is that the drums on this release are completely ‘natural,’ no effect triggers were used. A nice organic sound which reminds me that human beings made this music, not machines. Alfred Fridhagen takes over in the drumming department (he's only 19!) and his playing is tremendous, he solidifies a powerhouse rhythm section.
The songs are good, solid driving neoclassical heavy metal. Can’t Slow Down, One Voice for the Kingdom, Born For the Strangers are immediate standouts with their fast and furious tempos with stronger melodies. However this release did take me a few listens to get a handle on the hooks. That is perhaps the one thing that was the most glaring; the melodies didn’t necessarily jump out and dig in deep leaving me humming them when the album was over.
There isn’t a ‘bad’ track on the album yet it would seem to me that perhaps an outside producer to help bring out the best in each song. Someone to help make those melodies even stronger and perhaps a little more accessible. Not in the sense of a ‘hit single’ but just to help make things a bit more memorable, for many of the tracks are worthy.
Christian Liljegren continues to deliver exceptional vocal work in the vein of Dio with a touch of Halford thrown in. The lyrical message that Liljegren delivers is one of hope, without compromise or condemnation.
One Voice for the Kingdom is a natural progression from the last two albums, with its more upfront guitar work and slightly less polish in the production department. The keyboards have their place but don’t dominate as often as on Man With a Mission.
Golden Resurrection have again delivered a healthy dose of guitar driven neoclassic power metal. Leather and denim jackets need only apply; this type of music is designed with the proverbial air guitar in mind. I got mine! Where’s yours??
The one thing that prevents me from enjoying most black metal is that I miss the invitation. What I mean by that is the ability to get ‘inside’ the music, where it resonates within you and it touches a part of you. Most times it’s because I can’t get past the wall of sound, hence ‘the invitation.’ I fail to discern the melody (if it exists) or the lyrical content is obscured by the delivery.
Antestor’s (latin for ‘call to witness) newest album is entitled Omen, and the invitation is there for me in DROVES. Whether it’s the subtlety (yes there is subtlety) or the haunting melodies (yes there are many rather disturbing melodies) this release just has IT. I don’t own any other Antestor albums so I was rather suspect of what I might be in for. After all, I’ve heard nothing but the praises of prior releases but without the ability to obtain them short of selling my car I decided to pass on obtaining them.
So when Matt from Bombworks asked if I wanted to review I said “Sure. NO problem!” all the while crossing my fingers hoping that this would be a good album.
With a strength and boldness that few albums have hit me with, Omen is just phenomenal. Powerful and daunting, this album delivers on so many levels. Whether it’s the triple guitar attack of Bordevik, Stokstad and Buer; the sheer power of the rich lyrical content (faithfulness, personal forgiveness, betrayal, healing, and idols) or the rich production.
The axe attack is simply powerful, creating a threating yet not overpowering wall of sound. The melodies of tracks such as Remnants, along with the stellar dynamics and almost progressive quality just blew me away. All Towers Must Fall delivers a mesmerizing ode to the brevity of life, while moving through several dynamic musical interludes. Album opener Treacherous Domain set the tone for the music to be found within. When In Solitude starts I just wonder, “How can anyone play the guitar that fast?” However the speed of the rhythm parts just fascinates but the when the keyboards enter it takes everything to another level. Atmospherics can never be understated. Benighted delivers several riffs that just dominate along with textures that are totally unexpected. Antestor have dubbed their brand of music ‘sorrow metal.’
The production is solid with a drum sound that screams of investment and dedication. Too often the drums end up sounding as if someone is playing old pots and pans, that is far from the case here; rich and deep are the tones of the drums. The bass and six string guitars share space in the mix with plenty of power to entwine them both. The vocal sound is sheer brutality for the most part provided by Ronny Hansen, who delivery encompasses the meaning of the word extreme. However I was more than able to following along with the lyric sheet (that invitation again).
Omen is the album that fans of Antestor have been waiting for, complex, strong, dynamic and bombastic. Prepare yourself to be immersed in one of the most stirring albums of 2012/2013. Strong windmill action which leads one to give this release a huge endorsement. Bombworks Records has delivered a gem!
Saturday, January 5, 2013
Brutal Cross is a one man Extreme Metal extravaganza from Europe,
specifically. With a sound described as unblackened/death metal their Sanctus
Gladius Records release entitled, Symphony of Destruction, is anything but
This collection of 13 tracks seems to have a two fold purpose, first to inject the Light into a field of musical endeavor that is dominated by the darkness. Secondly to create a musical cacophony that should please anyone who wants their music intense and unabashedly extreme.
This is the second album by Brutal Cross, their first one was entitled Trilogy. One thing I noticed as I compared a few tracks from their first album to Symphony and it just seems to me that Symphony is not produced as well, a slightly rawer feel and depending on how important those elements are to you. However the sound quality is still acceptable but not as complete.
The music on this release is pure black metal with the musical elements that define that genre; Extreme vocals, atmosphere over melody, and rawness over polish. I was unable to hear a strong death metal influence here. From their Facebook page Brutal Cross, indicated several bands as likes which I’d infer also as influences, which includes fellow Polish unblack band Elggibor. Other bands mentioned are Crimson Moonlight, Pantokrator, Deuteronomium and Ultimatum.
If this sound like your cup of brew then snag yourself a copy of Brutal Cross’s, Symphony of Destruction. This might be a limited edition release so don’t hesitate but head over to the Sanctus store and grab one. A six axe review just because the production is slightly rawer, but the material is still acceptable.