Thursday, November 30, 2017

Review: Herman Martinez - Secret Doors, Hidden Stairs

It is my pleasure with this review to introduce you to Herman Martinez (Video Version of this review available on the bottom). 

Herman Martinez is an up and coming (though experienced in previous bands) musician to look out for with his newer solo project.
 He plays an ethereal form of rock that crosses into many styles and influences. One of his admitted influences is the ever evolving musical auteur Steven Wilson, whose venturing into prog, alternative, metal, and psychedelic space rock styles have inspired a legion of like minded musicians to push the boundaries.

 Herman Martinez is one of these people. I also hear some elements of shoegaze, Pink Floyd and related bands, as well as alternative/indie in Herman's new album, Secret Doors, Hidden Stairs (which appears to be his second release on Bandcamp). The surreal title and artwork is only a hint of what the music contains, because it definitely contains multitudes to paraphrase the famous poet Walt Whitman. 

I also hear some of modern Anathema (the non metal years) in this release. Some of it also could draw comparisons to the psychedelic folk artists of yesteryear.
 The album begins with Season Premiere, a slow but upbeat song that starts with a lilting guitar melody. The guitars are then supplemented with some otherworldly vocal harmonies and the song continues in this manner, along with some mellow piano added to the mix. The second song improves on the vocals and has a more acoustic feel. Herman has cited Alice in Chains as an influence, and I can hear it in the somewhat angular vocal harmonies that give it a chilling touch.

The third song Paracosm is more on the light side in a way, with its drifting acoustic guitars as the melodies are not as obtuse as some on the prior two.

The fourth song Pareidolia is an instrumental has an even bigger acoustic base and this does well to propel the song to a new height.

The song Magic Squares features some great interval changes that paint a great atmosphere to get lost into.

The next few songs continue much the same manner, with multilayered guitar melodies, occasional piano and effected guitars, as well as occasional odd timed rhythms that give the songs a slight progressive edge.

The Gardner actually gets somewhat heavy for awhile, though it is cut from the same cloth as the previous ones in the beginning. This may just be my favorite for it's range of emotions and for the vocal harmonies that completely clicked as well. In fact, what is interesting about the last quarter of the album or so is how there is much more heavy guitar used. John Travoltron's theme in particular has some fuzzed out mad psychedelia, which is refreshing to hear. It is another instrumental song as well.

Season Finale is the last song, and continues the theme of “Herman Goes Electric” at least for parts of the song (not that the earlier songs of the album didn't have electric guitar, but these songs have more hard rock bits than earlier parts of the album). The heavy parts reminded me a bit of King Crimson in a way. This is one of the strongest songs on the vocals as well on vocals, as the confident delivery takes the song to a higher level.

Lyrics to the album are what's expected by many of the titles and artwork, both surrealist and personal. 

One caveat I will give for readers of Mattowarrior's Metal madness is that is very little or no metal to be found here, other than the last few songs having a slightly heavier base, however, I found the music credible enough and relating to many metal band's side projects or mellower parts to qualify for inclusion of a review on here. I was reminded of a discussion I had with someone the other day about my liking of many progressive rock and AOR bands of the 70's and 80's. Essentially, the person asked me why there was a liking of such music when I'm known as “Mr Metal”, and while I understand their understanding of metal music is pretty nil, I still explained that much of the bands I like have a wide breadth of influences that range the spectrum, because that's a lot of what progressive metal is about. It's not necessarily the style metal or hard rock that they play on the radio, and this an important distinction that I needed to point out. Anyways, I digress.

Herman does not play metal, but I thought since his music shares a lot of influences that have also influenced me as a musician, and similarities with some of the more progressive parts of the metal idiom that I enjoy, I would make an exception for this review, especially since the other music blogs I operate do not have the traction nor history that this one does.

It's cool to be in the stage of discovering such a refreshing artist like Herman Martinez. Since I am a fan of his cited influences, I feel privileged to discover such acts in this time. If you want music that can take you to other dimensions and expresses a wide range of emotions, I can not recommend this album any more highly. Looking forward to see how this project develops.

You can check out Herman with the following links:

Video edition of this review: 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Review: Ravenscroft Single -The Chase w/ My Dearest One

Review: Ravenscroft- The Chase w/ My Dearest One (Single)

Ravenscroft describes themselves as "a seasoned foursome of musicians whose individual backgrounds and eclectic educations present handsomely delivered melodic alternative rock. With some of the greatest rock performers in their favored list of influences, Ravenscroft synthesizes the monumental sounds of blues/early roots rock, the psychedelic/ acid rock of the late 1960’s, the harder rock and metal impact of the 1970’s and the 1980’s, the 90’s grunge influence of Seattle." 

That may be a mouthful, but nevertheless, they deliver on this mix of sounds on their new single releases, "The Chase" and "My Dearest One". 

"The Chase" is the heavier of the two songs, featuring doomy and grungy guitars. "My Dearest One" is a heartfelt ballad featuring some very soulful vocals and guitar solos. If you miss the ballads of the early 90's by the likes of Guns and Roses and others, then that one is for you. I don't mean that as a complaint by the way, it is my favorite of the songs released, but then again, I've always been a sucker for power ballads (have even written a few myself!)

My Dearest One has a very infectious groove that will stay stuck in your head for days. It straddles the line between the 70's, 80's and modern time just as the band's description states. Overall, I dug both songs, but wanted to note that the band especially stands out because of the vocals, that being the band's secret weapon, Ralph Buso.

His gritty, whisky soaked voice could rival a Myles Kennedy in all their glory, and in this age of wussy clean vocals in the middle of extreme riffs after some extreme vocals (cough "Djent" cough), that usually sound like some bad Backstreet Boys/One Direction castaway meets some lousy pop punk band that plays at the local bar, they deliver! It's very refreshing to hear clean vocals done in a way that recalls vintage Chris Cornell, Rich Robinson, or even the underrated John Corabi in the music scene nowadays. 

Overall, Ravenscroft follow up on the hype in their proclamations. 
Let them continue to fly the banner of Rock!

You can check out Ravenscroft at the following places: 

Twitter: @ravenscroftofcl 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Review: Back To Eden- Twin Flame (Single)

Back to Eden is the solo project of Guitarist/Bassist/Songwriter Edan Hoy from Melbourne, Australia. In collaboration with vocalist Aliz, plus special guest musicians from all over the world; according to their press release, they play 'Old School' Hard Rock/Heavy Metal, similar to that of Metallica, Judas Priest and Dio.
Their new single, Twin Flame, has premiered and it is exactly what they describe it as, maybe with a little bit of Accept and other German sounds thrown in there. Reading the lyrics, now this is an interesting subject matter for a traditional/power metal song. It seems that they are talking about the idea of "Twin Flames" which is related to the ages old concept of "Soulmates" but a bit different and is often associated with a lot of the "New Age" movement. 
The production of Twin Flame is good, pretty much standard, but I would say that it could take a few more chances. That said, I am mixed on a lot of the modern methods of metal production, so it could just be the cynical snarky metal elitist in me that is coming through on that remark. It is clear and cutting and does well to propel the song forward. 
The vocals are clean but slightly gruff, probably why it it reminds me of some of the German bands as they often have this quality (which I like). The leads are good but not overbearing with shred like a lot of bands would do.
The chorus has the gang vocals that recall a lot of the anthemic songs of yesteryear as well.

Overall, Back to Eden remind me a lot of the late Nineties Power/Traditional metal resurgence that bands like Hammerfall or Nocturnal Rites were part of. Do we need more bands like this? Well with the glut of kids not even knowing the roots of metal coming up, and the overabundance of bands playing super downtuned sometimes indistinguishable sub sub sub genres like Djent/math/metalcore/post metal black metal whatever with a thousand breakdowns and tuned to drop Z and totally taking precedence over all that is considered metal, I would say a resounding YES! 

Having new traditional metal bands is never a bad thing to keep things in perspective, and also to kick a lot of metal ass. 

Check out the video to this song (and further links below to check out Back to Eden): 

You can check out Back to Eden by using the following links:

Gene Simmons Is Out Of Touch

Here's another video rant I went on, about Gene Simmons as well as other rock stars recent statements and career moves ("controversial" as always! :) ) 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Review: IDEK. EP by IDEK.

It's hard to stand out in an some would say, over-saturated market in music, especially within rock and metal nowadays. Bands need an edge to push them over the top as far as originality.

One such band to emerge that comes close is IDEK (I don't even know?)  a self professed "Experimental" metal band, hailing from the Netherlands. The band says they are mainly influenced by Dillinger Escape Plan, Mastodon, and Katy Perry (!).

 On their 2017 Self-Titled EP, they straddle the line between the Djent and Deathcore bands of today, but with plenty of things that stand out.

One thing is that some of  the clean vocal parts recall vintage Mike Patton at times, something I find refreshing in a a glut of pop punk and emo sounding vocals that populate and can smear otherwise musically invigorating subgenres like the aforementioned Djent (just look at the ruckus over the clean vocal parts on any thread discussing Periphery, for example).

Like the aforementioned bands, they also feature quirky samples and a sense of humor, something that is also refreshing from this sometimes overly serious genre.

Of course, they also feature the screamed extreme vocals that populate this style of music as well. I found the extreme style vocals to be neither bad nor great, I am openly critical of much of the modern approach to extreme vocals, being as I am a fan of classic Death, Death Doom, and Black Metal.

Overall, the extreme vocals were somewhere in the middle with me; I didn't find them to be overly annoying like a lot of the genre has to offer, nor did I find them tantalizingly great like classic David Vincent, to give an example. Then again, as I am not as into the modern approach to extreme vocals, this is to be expected.

IDEK has some cool jazz/swing parts in songs such as A Fools Gold. One thing that was a surpise with the band is how they eschew a lot of shred guitar solos. I was half expecting some sweep arpeggios or other wanky parts, though this can be both a  blessing and a curse some of the time.
Not every song needs a solo to be a great song, after all.
I think a few of the parts could be spiced up with at least some other parts or complementary riffs, even if solos aren't their thing.

The second half of the EP is more to my preferred taste (other than the first song and intro which I did like). The song, Haze, features a more classic metal influenced melody, as well as an epic melody and cool ride cymbal sounds.  Vanitas Vanitatum features a hip hop intro that then goes back to the sound of the earlier songs. Keyboards add to the atmosphere as well as more clean vocals.
The song freshens itself up with more screamed vocals but with an interesting background of dissonant riffs. I would say the more dissonant riffs are welcome, being as I have always liked bands who use them. It can be a great relief to the chugging that unfortunately floods the modern metal subgenres at times.

Ouroboros is probably the most adventurous song as far as the previously mentioned dissonance goes. Probably featuring the heaviest intro section on the EP in some ways I find this approach a lot more to my liking, it features some almost rockabilly riff parts mixed with more modern verses and singing). And lo and behold, a full guitar solo adds to what is likely the best song on the release. I would say all in all, if they continue in the more experimental direction, and find a way to balance the melody, the quirky parts with a willingness to experiment without falling within the constraints and cliches of their chosen metal subgenre, they should go far.

If you are interested in IDEK, by all means check out these links:

Soundcloud EP playlist:
Facebook page:

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Fall Of Danzig

As a long time fan, I posed the question- Is Danzig's career in decline? Is anything moving foward going to have the quality of performance, music, and production that was so evident in the past?

Watch this controversial video to find out!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017