Monday, January 15, 2018

Review: IDEK- Approaching Storms (Single)

IDEK is a band I covered on this very blog awhile back. I reviewed their last release, and the new single, Approaching Storms, is slated for release on February 2nd 2018.

What I did not expect from the band though, is how much they have progressed in such a short time. Their last release, was a good slab of modern metal with many influences, ranging from Djent to Dillinger Escape Plan. 

The upcoming single  "Approaching Storms", is in a way, a more streamlined approach, but in this case, it's a good thing in that the influences have congealed in a way that is accessible without being compromising.
To me, just this song alone blows away the previous release right out of the water.

 Rather than taking aspects of the various styles and mixing them with overtly commercial elements, it's more like they took the various elements and made a real fusion of them all, that by default, is more streamlined, but in an excellent way that is still challenging musically.

This is a difficult juggling act to do, as many bands do attempt streamlining their sound with disastrous results. 

But for every Motley Crue Theater of Pain, Megadeth's Risk or Morbid Angel's Illud Divinium Insanus, 
 (or hell, let's just throw Metallica's Black Album (as controversially that's a sacred cow in there as well while we're at it), there's also an Anathema Judgement, Amorphis Elegy, or Opeth Blackwater Park - albums that retain the innovation and musical challenge of albums past but mixing it with a refined sensibility
That is pure catchiness.

I was also taken aback by the eerie and almost chamber music like melody the song had, and the very effective vocal lines in the song. 

A few parts at least melodically, even reminded me a little bit of the underrated Canadian Metal act, Unexpect, or there may be a little bit of modern Ihsahn or Leprous in there too.

Don't worry though, for all the talk of melody, the heaviness is still intact, but it's combined with an infectious style that draws upon the more progressive aspects of modern metal.

Overall, the single shows a lot of promise, and I am looking forward to an upcoming longer release!
You can check out IDEK from the following links:

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Review: Scandic Tribe- Light at the End

Scandic Tribe are a new rock band from Norway,
according to them, the upcoming album, Light at the End is a concept one, and is slated to arrive on vinyl, which is great, in March of this year.
I dug the first song, Dusty Sunrise, which reminded me a bit of a lighter take on something that wouldn't sound out of place on Judas Priest's Point of Entry album, with a slight AOR touch as well.

The second song, Only Time Will Heal, is a more bouyant and funky song, that has some vocal harmonies that recall classic Kings X a little bit.

The third song (Fourth if you count the intro), Heaven, kind of reminded me of Dokken a little bit, and this was pretty cool.

Revolution of Confusion follows, and almost sounds like a modern version of something that would be on one of Deep Purple's Coverdale era albums, a slower, bluesy ride with a few moments of bombast thrown in.

On Life is Good, the album takes an unexpected turn. I wasn't really anticipating this, so it came as kind of a shock. The song has that 90's half ballad vibe that recalls some of the Jangle Pop/Jam Rock hits like those of Gin Blossoms or Counting Crows! Yes, it might be a weird comparison, but this actually continues in the latter half of the album. I am sure though, just to note, that because the band has overt 70's rock or (possibly) folk rock influences, that they share those with the aforementioned bands more than likely, rather than being (necessarily) influenced by the ones mentioned earlier.

The next song also continues the about face that this album has taken, but with a better vocal delivery than the prior one. Even if sometimes the vocals seem a bit overwrought on the mellower numbers, it works a lot better in this particular song.

Angel is an instrumental that has a bit of a mellow Hendrix vibe, a few of the previous songs have a bit of this, but on this track it's full on, intermixed with some 70's prog rock style volume swells that intermix with cool guitar harmonies.

My Sweet Baby Valentine continues in this vein as well, but to me is the weakest song on here, I don't think the vocal style works within the context of this song, and even though there are cool guitar parts as well as some strings, a more laid back vocal with more subtlety would have worked a lot better here. The slight neoclassical guitar solo bits are cool though

Heroes has that mellow vibe In the beginning but brings back the rock full on in it's second half. It's probably one of the best songs that has a triumphant vibe and lyrical vibe about it. I was reminded a bit of the band Ten (hard rock band) in the second half, and I enjoyed this quite a bit. The vocal delivery in the first half is exactly what was missing in some ways on the prior track.

Sad Time is a bit of a downer to end the album, it's another one in the style of the mellow tracks on here, and it doesn't stand out in the way the prior track did other than maybe a bit of a change of pace with a Saxophone part.

Overall, the band has potential, and unique qualities that make them stand out. The main contentions I have is that the band almost seems schizophrenic in a way, with the heavier, nearly metal tracks in the beginning and then going to a mellower style, this could confuse people in some ways, and could be better balanced in between these two styles.

The heavier tracks could use a few more solos (as the guitarist is definitely capable of) as well. My main criticism though is with the vocals. The vocalist has technique and style, but seems to be in “overdrive” throughout the whole thing. He does some terrific vocal harmonies and parts, but the caterwauling style used on the mellower tracks could be tamed to fit those songs better, while the heavy songs obviously fit this style perfectly.
The album's production is clean, and being assisted by the legendary Roy Z, is certainly something to note. 

You can get information on Scandic Tribe utilizing the following links:

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

How Geoff Tate Could Save His Career!

 A bit melodramatic perhaps, but it's true he has suffered some slings and arrows in recent years, but some of his work, including with Avantasia, contain hope that he can salvage his artistic integrity, and overcome the mediocrity of his recent career moves.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Review: The Silver Tongued Devilz- The Devil Made Me Do It.

The Silver Tongued Devilz, "STDz" for short (hopefully signifying they practice safe sex, lol) have just released their new album, The Devil Made Me Do It. They are a band that play a bluesy form of rock that is both sludgy and has a classic feel.
 Some of the crooning vocal lines on the first two songs  remind me of vintage Jim Morrison, but before you think that I am referencing someone Ian Astbury or Glenn Danzig, take note I am referring to the vocal melodies and not the actual timbre of the vocals.

There is a fuzzy guitar feel that would make any fan of post punk or even classic sludge metal satisfied.  A lot of their lyrics are sordid tales of sex and sleaze that should put the look of horror into the eyes of prudes and politically correct types everywhere.

The first two songs went by and I was taken aback by how left field the more atmospheric and melancholy song "All Over" was. I guess this is their take on the classic ballad trope of "love lost" with it's lyrics like "It's all over now, but the crying."

Speaking of the concept of "Mojo" the next song is called "Bad Mojo", and it's still somewhat in the more downbeat feel of the prior song in a minor key. "Big Ol Booty" picks up the pace a bit back to the feel of the first few songs, and takes us (thankfully) back to the sleaze again!

"Blown Smoke" sounds almost like a Southern Stoner Rock take on The Beatles "Come Together" though it doesn't really come off as secondhand (get it?).

3 songs in a somewhat similar vein close out the album and I must say they are just about as catchy. "Dead Eye's" is probably the best of these because it almost has an old school grunge feel to it, and interesting lyrics (about the zombie apocalypse perhaps?)

Overall, the band definitely shows promise, and with diverse influences (as their press kit states) from Johnny Cash to Foo Fighters, I personally hear everything from the classic Stoner Rock acts of yesteryear to maybe Queens of the Stone Age and beyond, and they may be someone you should check the progress of as time goes on.

If I had a criticism of the album, I would say that the band needs to find a balance between the moods they convey in the songs, because sometimes it's a roller coaster ride with the melancholy songs mixed with the more "sexy" songs. It doesn't exactly feel like two seperate bands though, because much of the presentation and the guitar tone (which is nasty, fuzzy, and direct) is the same, but finding an approach that unites these different sides into one may help. Then again, the blues itself is often both a celebration of the virtues of a woman for one song, and then the betrayal by one from another.

If you happen to find to find yourself interested in this up and coming band, you can check them out with the following links:

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: