Perahia - Something To Say, M
& K Records
Some will read the
name of the artist and think he's a new star in the firmament of the music world. However,
guitarist Joshua Perahia is a star who has been blinking in the sky since the early
eighties. With his band Joshua he released three records. He formed the band Jaguar and
later on M-Pire. It was M-Pire that released the last Perahia album, in 1995. It seemed
that since the star was dwindling. But he's back. The year 2001 marks the refocussing on
Joshua's widely acclaimed talent. His solo album was produced by Keith Olsen (Whitesnake,
Scorpions, Santana), guaranteeing a flawless effort. Besides Olsen this disc features an
all star cast. Besides two of his old M-pire buddies, Perahia is assisted by Jason
Scheff (Chicago), Alex Ligertwood (Santana) and Richard Baker. Lead vocalist on the album
is Jerry Gabriel. Musically this record offers great melodic rock/hard rock. It sounds
very eighties-like. But it's done with convidence, convincing the listener. Tracks like I
Can Feel Again, One Night Is Not Enough and the titletrack are powerful and catchy
rocksongs. Tears Of Joy sounds like a Bon Jovi classic. On the lighter side, The First And
The Last, is a soulful ballad with close harmony elements. And, of course, Perahia is a
top notch guitarist, playing with enough fingerspitzengefŘhl to send shivers over your
back. Something To Say is a perfect return for this veteran. Let it shine!
- Beauty For Ashes, Independent
The first full
length album from the British band Fire Fly is the logical step to take after the well
received Swings & Roundabouts EP. Their music can be described as atmospheric rock.
Just like on the EP this is evident on the new disc. There are heavy rock songs with
different moods and emotions. The keyboard component is responsible for the atmosphere.
The sounds created by the keyboards are sometimes mystifying or ethereal and in other
cases the keyboard is played in a piano fashion. Rather nice are the sounds of bells in
the 'straight ahead(ish) rock 'n roll' song A Moment Standing Still Forever. Bassist Mark
Broomhead's past in metalband Detritus relives partially in A Stolen Glimpse with some
metallic parts and harsh singing. The disc also has several mellow, modest tunes with
keyboards being the main ingredient. Lyrically you can find introspective texts, like in
Trying To Be Cool. It makes me wonder in how far these lyrics can be considered as
autobiographical material. On Beauty For Ashes Fire Fly further establishes their
remarkable sound. There are 14 songs with a total length of almost 69 minutes. You'll find
more beauty here than ashes.
- Hold Your Breath, Solid State
Their previous album
The Narrow Scope Of Things was the result of a progression the band was making. It sounded
like an identity crisis, as they combined two different kind of bands: Death metal and
emocore/postcore/heavy rock. Hold Your Breath is step two of this natural progression.
They no longer sound as if they're in an identity crisis. Here's the real Embodyment and I
welcome the musical clearness. They dedicated their efforts to what was obviously to come.
Here's the charming beauty of heavy guitars, fighting along with drums and bass, and on
top of it you can hear the soulful singing from Sean Corbray. The music is harsh, in a
way, but the melodic vocals almost have a soothing effect. No matter what song you listen
to: There's a balance between the heaviness and the friendliness. This balance is captured
rather nicely on Hold Your Breath. Some of the beautiful songs here are Set The Stage, the
aggressive Heaven In A Letter Bomb and Cruise Control. A really likable record.
- Matt Aragon, Tooth & Nail
Building A Better
Me, Dogwood's last record was an enjoyable effort. I still listen to it from time to time.
Energetic poppy punk. Power pop punk. Matt Aragon is in the same vein. First of all, Matt
Aragon is a real person who's described as 'our man in Amsterdam' and 'the super glue that
has held Dogwood together when we got tired'. Got tired? These guys must be joking! You
can't imagine it when you hear this band kicking one energetic song after another. There's
lots of explosive energy, and yet there are lots of melodies. Beautiful. But with only 33
minutes way too short. Play it at the loudest volume your neighbours will allow.
Machine - Legend III:I, Massacre
The Legend Trilogy
was once perceived as the unofficial soundtrack for the end of the world. Originally it
was supposed to be a project featuring three albums. Hence the trilogy. Somewhere in the
process it was decided to include a fourth piece so here is the third but not last part of
the Legend series. Each album in this series so far, has its own trademarks. The music is
gothic rock. But the first album was mainly an introductional album. The second featured
musical chaos and confusion. And this one brings back clear structures. But it's heavier
as the guitars are more prominent. And certain melodies that you've heard on the previous
album return. The emphasized guitars were played by Jeff Clayton and extra guitarist
Carljohann Grimmark (Narnia). Result is an album with a variety of songs. Sometimes heavy,
sometimes dark, threatening, sometimes mellow, tranquillizing your sinews. But it's always
full of melodies. There are 18 cuts on the album and several are real gems. If you know
the previous albums from the Legend series, then Legend III:I won't be the big surprise.
Nevertheless, this is already legendary.
Rickshaw - Crash Rickshaw, Tooth
& Nail Records
Crash Rickshaw is a
new name with familiarities. Two of the members are known for their contributions to
Project 86: Alex Albert and Steve Dial. They are accompanied by Joby Harris on guitar and
vocals. Also the music sounds vaguely familiar as if I have heard it all before. Maybe
it's just their ability to crank out these sounds that match perfectly with my musical
memory. I don't know. Fact is that Crash Rickshaw has an intriguing effect upon the
listener. There's a familiarity, music-wise, yet each song has its own individuality. From
different rhythms to different guitar sounds. The raspy voice of Joby sounds spacey,
giving the album its own trademark. The band's first effort sounds elaborate. It's
different and intriguing. The only problem I have with it, is the small orange printing in
the booklet. Hardly readable. Man, I need glasses!
- Manic Moonlight, Metal Blade Records
Over the years
King's X delivered albums with quality melodic rock. Musically they don't bring many
surprises anymore. Yet what surprises me on Manic Moonlight is the productional decision
to use loop programming. Many of the songs start with loops. This is the input of
guitarist Ty Tabor who took care of production again. The songs, like False Alarm and The
Other Side, sound exactly like what you might expect from this band as they are in the
unique King's X style: Great vocal melodies and hooks, harmonic vocals and melody driven
rock. A musical surprise is Static with a mellow start and loops giving the song its
drive. The second half brings in the heavy guitars. The lead vocals are handled by Doug
Pinnick alone this time. Lyrically you can find all sorts of contradicting phrases that
keep me puzzling, like: "I don't wanna do this anymore; I really wanna do it"
(Static). "I can't wait to see you smile; I can't wait to see you cry" (Jenna).
As you might expect, this is a quality rock product. Few surprises, but good.
Dying For Life, Massacre
This is the second
album of this band that was formed four years ago. They are another metal band from the
state of Ohio (like Jacobs Dream, Biogenesis, Gnashing Of Teeth). Musically they play bold
US metal. It's old school metal, rooted firmly in the eighties. This is what some call
true metal, to differentiate it from the load of new bands that are described as metal
too, but are not to be compared with bands from the old school. This band is undoubtedly a
representative of the old school movement, almost to a freakish extent. Their songs have a
variation of riffs, but with some elements returning to keep it at least memorable.
Sometimes it's a bit too much to me though, as they go from one riff to another. And some
of these songs are quite long. But as freakish as they are about the music, so freakish
they are about the quality. This is excellent stuff: Tight playing, blistering solos and a
good recording. Personally I would like a bit more compact songs, structured a bit more
understandably. Interestingly, this European release on Massacre Records has a bonus track
called Secret Fires. This is the only ballad on the album. Nice extra, showing a different
side of the band.
- Some Feelings (When You Try To Overcome), Independent
Screen is an
alternative rock band based in Alphen aan de Rijn, Holland. Two of their members had
experiences in metalbands (Salutary & Beneficial) but wanted to go in a different
direction. This was way back in 1997. The self produced album they placed into my hands is
their CD debut. Musically it's very easy for me to say they play alternative rock, so
let's describe it a little more. Their music seems to be a variation of quiet parts with
acoustic guitar picking, and heavier, grungy, parts. The acoustic parts often have all
sorts of pleasant sounds, being gentle and calm. As it comes to the heavier parts I
sometimes miss an aggressive tone to the distorted guitars to make them sound fierce.
Vocally you can hear a dreamy kind of lead vocals, in the vein of Starflyer 59. The five
songs are well constructed. To draw to a conclusion, Some Feelings is a good debut for
alto rockers Screen. Available through: D.J.JaspersFocks@12move.nl
Artists - Southern Extremities: Brazilian Metal Compilation, Rowe Productions
Extremities album introduces the music of three talented Brasilian bands, described as
evangelistic Christian heavy metal by Steve Rowe. The president of Rowe Productions seems
to be enthusiastic about the three bands as I may believe the booklet. The first band to
appear is V÷llig Heilig. Their music is basically melodic metal with good singing from
Helio D'Tarso and some nice lead guitar playing. The production of their four songs is
fair but lacks the power to convince. Stauros, the second band, is much more convincing
with their production. Their instrument playing is excellent and is a contributing factor
to the quality of these progressive metal songs. A song like Vital Blood really shines.
The last band on the disc is Light Hammer. They are the only band that hasn't have an
album out. So, these songs are the first on a CD ever. The first thing that I notice is
the length of each individual song. The shortest is almost seven minutes. Imagine songs
with a lot of melody, acoustic playing as well as electrified guitar picking, and
keyboards to create some atmosphere. And there are solos. Southern Extremities is a cool
project and the overall quality is good. It's a pity though that other talented Brazilian
bands are not part of this as Brazil has much more to offer.
The Mark Bleeds Through, Rowe
A keyboard tone
starts off the first song on this heavy metal album. The intro is enhanced greatly with
the addition of keyboards. It creates an atmosphere or darkness and gloom. Unfortunately
they play a minor role on the rest of the song and the rest of the album. However, this
does not mean that the album's a disappointment. On the contrary, here we have a very neat
piece of music. Biogenesis' music can be described as heavy metal. Yet there are various
influences, vocally and music-wise. For example, in Legal Murder I notice a slight black
metal influence (though this is definitely not black metal). Most of the music is heavy,
with plodding riffs, yet without the obvious speed. Only occasionally the speed goes up,
like in songs as Mental Violence and the thrashy Crystal Ball. A great song is I Am The
One. Vocally there are two types of singing. On one hand there are raw and deep screams.
On the other hand there's singing reminiscent of Eric Clayton of Saviour Machine. This
album is of surprising quality. The recording is done well, making the guitars sound heavy
while the rhythm section doesn't suffer under them. Rowe Productions may congratulate
themselves for signing this band.
- ... Of The Mind, Rowe
Psycoma is one of
the new bands on Rowe Productions. They recorded this album at the Hammer Of God Studios
in Mellbourne, Australia, as this band's from the same country. Musically I would like to
describe them as a thrash band, mixed with modern rock. To explain this: On one hand I
hear the kind of riffing that you might hear on a modern groovy thrash album. Yet there is
much melody and vocally it's much more in the modern rock vein. A ballad like Footsteps
could easily have been some sort of modern rock ballad, the ones a band like Third Day
does. The intro of This Killing Tree reminds me of Metallica, which is probably one of the
main sources of inspiration for this Australian band. There's also an influence from this
band vocally. Overall the recording is good and heavy, but a bit different musically
though. Give them a good listen first.
Souls - Under The Northern Sky, Little Rose Productions
The first time I got
acquainted with this band's music, was through their four songs on the split-EP with black
metal band Mordecai. Now the full length album with its ten songs is rotating in my CD
player, making me wonder how much progress the band's made. With the first assault on my
ears, I'm inclined to think the band moved on to black metal. Yet that's far from
accurate. The opening track Frostmind has the inhuman speed and nasty biting vocals you
can often hear black metal bands do. To do Immortal Souls more justice, I can describe
their music as the perfect blend of power metal mixed with the crispiness of black metal
and the grunting vocals of death metal (though they sometimes touch the hissing sound of
black metal). But it's all covered with a thick layer of melody. Basically the music has a
lot of energy and power. The added melody is created by lead guitar playing on top of the
riffing. The production of this album is solid and it's a shame this album (recorded in
winter 2000) took so long to see the light. A worthy progress from the split-EP days.
Power - Perfect Balance, Massacre Records
Here's the fourth
album from the American/English melodic metalband Balance Of Power. The music seems to
take a progressive metal approach with vocal harmonies in the choruses. The songs are
often lengthy and most of them are midtempo. One Voice is one of the songs with speedy
power metal elements yet the chorus is very catchy/poppy. The vocals are most of the time
high pitched. Keyboard are used on most of the songs too, though none of the band members
play keys. The instrument playing is splendid and the album contains well produced songs
that the melodic metal fans will love. My favorite song on the disc is probably One Voice
which kinda sticks in my head the best. The cover depicting a naked and winged girl (as an
angel) might raise a few eyebrows though. Apart from that this is a real classy album.
Strong - A Revolution Transmission, Solid State Records
The third full
length album from the guys of Stretch Arm Strong rotates in my CD-player. The band was
started back in 1993 and after eight years they prove to be standard-bearers for the
hardcore scene. Their music seems to be the perfect blend of emotion, melody and sheer
power. It's energetic hardcore with loud screaming vocals, gang vocals, and with a punk
rock attitude to it. A Revolution Transmission is a self produced masterpiece. It was
mixed by Ryan Greene who worked for bands like NOFX and Lagwagon too. The disc is also
enhanced which means you can find some extras when you put the disc into the CD Rom player
of your computer. There are explanations of all the lyrics, photos, wallpapers and some
video footage of their 2000 European tour and from the studio. However, I couldn't get the
video stuff working on my computer. So, this is a top notch album though it's hard to say
which songs are best as they all rock!
- Sombre Romantic, Massacre
acoustic guitars and classic like male singing characterizes the opening track on this
Australian album. It was a dark, heated atmosphere. The song is aptly titled Opera De
Romanci and song two is actually the second part called Embrace. With the second track the
electric guitars break loose like thunder on a hot and sultry summer night. The use of
keyboards in this part of the composition add to the clammy atmosphere. Virgin Black's
music reminds me of Saviour Machine, yet the guitars are heavier and the album offers more
variety. The wonderful cut Walk Without Limps has a dark, eerie sound. And Drink The
Midnight Hymn is a heavy rocking tune with a continuing flow of distorted guitar riffing.
And Sombre Romantic ends with an epic song: A Poet's Tears Of Porcelain. The music on this
disc is an interesting melting-pot of gothic with classic influences. And well produced
too. I'd also like to mention that I like the cover. It's beautiful!
Global Warning -
Promotional Release 2001, Independent
The new Global
Warning CD contains two songs. With the music of their previous CD in my mind, I'm
surprised while hearing the new songs. This is a different band! The sound is darker and
heavier. And it sounds like they have a different singer because the vocals are more raw,
sand paper quality. Their music can be described as heavy metal but it's not fast.
Sometimes the drummer could pick up the beat a bit as most of the stuff is the same speed.
But the band certainly made progress.
Your Face - The True Essence Of Life, Ugly Records
Music for the
Korn/Limp Bizkit generation. Space In Your Face is a hard music band from France, the last
place on earth where you would expect this sort of music to come from. I thought the
French people were still into chansons. However, this band proves that there's either hope
or that my presumptions are wrong. The music is groovy and has both rap like vocals as
screams. The riffs plod heavy but there are softer parts in the songs too. The True
Essence Of Life contains ten songs plus some instrumental tunes. Two songs are sung in
French and the rest is English. The quality of the disc is quite alright. Space In Your
Face knows how to play a song. Surprising to hear nu metal from France. It makes me wonder
if there are more of such bands...
Jeremiah's Grotto -
Through It All, Vindicated Records
Through It All is
the second album for Jeremiah's Grotto as a follow up to Exemplar, their 1999 debut. The
music on Through It All can be described as a mixture of energetic rock ala Foo Fighters,
and emo. It's music with a good sense of melody. There are ten songs here. Most of them
are good rock songs with vocals that are nice most of the time and there are occasional
screams, only to express a certain feeling better. It's quite a pleasant record to listen
to. The last two songs of the album are a bit different with more quiet moments and some
keyboards (in Better Things Undone). These two songs are really beautiful even though they
are not hard all the time. With Through It All this American band Jeremiah's Grotto
delivered something of both quality and beauty.
Aeon's Promise -
Welcome To The Soul Farm, Independent
Man! This is a
messed up CD with a potpourri of styles all performed by a guy called John Layne. Common
factor in all the songs is the classic rock and John's recognisable vocals. But the rock
is played with all sorts of flavors, like Jazz, folk and Latin. And few songs have heavier
elements (like Tying Up The Devil), but nothing is essentially hard music. This is laid
back music, rooted in the seventies and early eighties. A track like Sing A Song is rather
a tune to play as background music on a hot summer evening while sitting on a terrace. The
singing is modest, sometimes more in a spoken fashion. Lyrically John Layne gets
inspiration from his faith which is also clear only by reading song titles like I'll
Praise You and Jesus Saves. Welcome To The Soul Farm contains ten sons with a total of 44
minutes and some minutes. The music is nice but not entirely convincing.
Beautiful Mess - Falling On Deaf Ears, Sally Forth Records/Idol Entertainment
This Beautiful Mess
is the band previously known as Subatlantic Starfish, a band that released only a few
songs on samplers from Sally Forth Records. Musically they've grown significantly since
the first songs came out. Their music is dark emopop with beautiful soundscapes. There's a
retrospective sound to the songs and mostly they're tranquil, relaxed. Sometimes there are
postgrunge elements to make it a bit spicier. Especially the use of keyboards enhance the
songs enormously. This is clear in songs like Fly Anna Fly and Sola Gratia. Though the
songs are poppy in a way, this album is not an easy digest all the time. It needs a couple
of times of close listenings to appreciate it fully. But then you will discover this album
has a lot to offer. Great debut album!
Anchor - Pain Inside, Independent
Out of Finland comes
Anchor with this six song EP. Musically they offer groovy metal. The vocals vary from
clean singing (often with a wailing tone to it) to raw singing, but not screaming. The
title song is a good example of the band's sound. You can hear a variation of acoustic
parts and heavier stuff and some faster stuff. But most of their music isn't the speedy
kind of music. Quite an energetic start has Search. The music often has a depressive mood,
which is apparent in a song like Broken Day. The quality of the recording is good, though
not exceptional. Good for a first introduction.
Dust Eater Dogs -
Oil, Take Off Your Shoes Records
The first notes
coming out of my speakers are the plucking sounds of a banjo. You might think this is the
new 16 Horsepower album. Yet when the electric guitars join the banjo you will get a
different impression. This is the raw sound of the Finnish band Dust Eater Dogs. Their own
description of hardrock 'n roll is quite accurate as their music has a real rock 'n roll
feel though a bit raw. The opening song Millstone Grrrind is a good example of their
abilities. Great song with Benny's raw vocals. Oil contains nine tracks DeD wrote from
1996-2000, and a cover song. The band did Bride's Psychedelic Super Jesus and the liner
notes say that Oil was meant to be a cover album but only Bride survived the selection.
Anyway, Ded's rendition of this Bride classic is as good as the original. And it features
the singing of Mike Majalahti (of Hallowed) and J-Blast (Jacks Of All Trades). Production
is good and the package is neat. With other words, the Finnish people have another export
article to be proud of.
-Wisdom Call, Massacre Records
running through my veins," so singer Christian Liljegren points out on the opening
song of Wisdom Call's debut album. You can imagine that this song, Power From The Sky, is
just that: Energy running through your veins. You can sense the adrenaline rushing through
your veins. It's a fast song, energetic and heavy. Wisdom Call is Christian's side project
that he does besides singing for Narnia. For his side band he recruited the Narnia
drummer, two members of the Swedish band Stormwind and two other guys. Musically it's very
much like Narnia with Christian's vocals as a trademark. The next song, The Lost
Generation, is not as fast but still heavy. Those songs are definitely harder than many of
the Narnia songs but still in the same direction: Melodic power metal. Only the last few
songs on this disc are in a different direction. Wisdom Call also covered a song
originally from hard rock band Europe entitled Wings Of Tomorrow and did a fine job.
Quality wise this album is very solid. And, of course, it also has a ballad (Hold On To
The Truth). If you look for good Swedish melodic metal you can be sure to find it here.
Personally I would like to see them to pursue their own sound as most of this stuff could
be on a Narnia album as well, with the only difference coming from different musicians
playing the songs. But it's good stuff anyway.
Embraced - For The Incomplete, Clenchedfist Records
Soul Embraced is a
trio consisting of two members of Living Sacrifice (Lance Garvin & Rocky Gray) and
vocalist Chad Moore. The music on this record is what Living Sacrifice might have sounded
like today if they hadn't strayed away from their death metal path in the mid nineties.
Yes, Soul Embraced is death metal and sounding pretty good too. This disc contains 11
songs of which four are remastered versions that come from the independent EP the band
did, and the other seven are new songs. The booklet doesn't give the names of the four EP
tracks however, nor the name of the bassist. For The Incomplete is a neatly produced album
with grunts in the vein of Steve Rowe of Mortification in the days when he grunted. The
music is powerful and heavy but not full speed all the time though there are fast parts.
Like the intro to Ascend Into My Embrace that is like fast black metal. But when the intro
is over the song continues with midtempo death varied with faster parts. The four EP songs
are less influenced by modern styles so for old school fans they are worth to check out.
Overall I say this is an interesting album and that's why extreme metal fans have another
band to look out for, especially those who are disappointed with Living Sacrifice's
current musical direction. Good album.
Martyr/Betrayal - The Passing Of
Time, Black & White Records
In the eighties one
of the most promising Christian thrash bands was Martyr. This band released several demos
but never got a record deal. When original member David Prado left the band and took the
band name with him, the remaining members reformed and took up the name Betrayal and
eventually released CD's. The Passing Of Time is a recollection of the demo days. This CD
contains songs from almost all released demos except Death Is Dead (1987), but there are
three cuts from a never before released demo recorded towards the end of Martyr. Of
course, the quality of the recordings is not as high as you're probably used to as these
songs are demo recordings by the standards of the eighties and early nineties. But what
you can hear is some real great thrash tunes with speed and heavy metal mixed in. Some of
these songs were later on rerecorded by Betrayal for their first CD. One of them is
Escaping The Altar which is one of the true gems the band has ever made. I really wonder
why Martyr was never picked up by a label as this is great material. The Passing Of Time
contains also a live video of the song Frantic that was made out of footage of three or
more gigs of Martyr and Betrayal. It's not perfect as the audio and video are not quite
synchronic but it's just cool to see it as it's reflective of a time that I bear memories
with me too. For the old Betrayal and Martyr fans this is a real collectors item to
cherish. Not perfect in quality but relevant in history.
- Theater Of War, Metal Blade
The new Jacobs Dream
is a real treat for fans of heavy melodic metal with power metal leanings. While I listen
to this disc I can't help but be impressed by the neat arrangements that melt together
elements of power, melody and emotion. It's all well produced, heavy with the guitar
prominent in the mix. The craftsmanship is evident on Theater Of War, worked out in all
details. Result is a tasty bite. Great songs are Traces Of Grace and Black Souls (in the
veins of Steel Prophet). Impressive is the semi-ballad Sarah Williams with its gentle
strumming and heartfelt lyrics. The singing is excellent and it gets across the story of
the song: the sorrow and regret of someone who has killed someone else. Also great is the
instrumental tune De Machina Est Deo. One moment it's like a wild ride on the highway and
the other the ride continues at a calmer speed. This is not the kind of instrumental in
which the solo guitarist gets the chance to show his talent alone. This is rather a track
where the whole band cranks out. The quality of this disc is excellent. A real treat
Pineappleskunk, Metal Blade Records
This is the new solo
album of Doug Pinnick of King's X. Pineappleskunk is like the experience you can have when
you go to the attic of a house. All sorts of things are stored, some real precious and
beautiful and there's some junk. There's a huge variety of things and they bring back
memories. Well, the same goes for this record. You can hear all sorts of sounds, styles,
influences and things on it. The main part is the heavy melodic rock/metal Doug is
familiar for. One of the weird things is a track with answering machine excerpts. The
music on the disc is reminiscent of King's X mainly because Doug's singing is on it. It's
what you might expect from him. This doesn't take away that there are some beautiful songs
on this record. Really beautiful. There's also some junk. But I like looking around on the
- The Nature Of Depravity, Independent
Brutal. That's the
first word to come up in my brain when the first notes and beats are unleashed. Inversion
from California dishes up some real extreme death metal with blast beats and deep grunts.
The grunts sound like singer Ja´rus is breathing in while vocalizing rather than
breathing out. It's one thing to make extreme music but the challenge is to make it
digestible, not a pile of rubbish. While listening to The Nature Of Depravity I started
appreciating the musicianship and the result of the studio process. The songs come well
out of my speakers. And besides all the horrifying speeds, thundering beats and brutal
grunts there's room for some melody here and there. This is evident in songs like If Not
Emasculated (with black metal influences) and Independence. The drums are a bit far away
in the mix though. However, to the extreme metal fans this album can be recommended.
Excellent death metal, and there are 17 tracks (three of them are demo recordings) with a
total of almost a full hour.
The Cartwrights - Slow
And Steady, Penny Back Records
The Cartwrights is a
three piece pop punk band with three J's: Josh (Serra), Jordan (Wyatt) and Josh (Hunter).
Their music is reminiscent of The Huntingtons with a little Green Day. Singer Josh Serra
sounds a bit distant now and then and the recorded quality is not as what you would expect
from the aforementioned bands. The five songs on this EP are nice and fun. With the
competition going on in the pop punk business it's necessary to come up with something
strikingly wonderful to attract people's attentions but this EP can't be categorized as
that. It's nice though but nothing more. Good for a first acquaintance.
Form - Sinborn Conscience, Independent
Transfigural Form is
a new project of Todd Pope, known for his previous Eden In Ruins material. This tape
contains four songs. The tape starts with keyboards and some guitar work. It's only the
intro tune to the tape. The first real song is a speedy death metal track with Todd's dark
growls. The other songs are in the same old school vein. The guitar playing is quite good
with some excellent leads. The quality of this tape is very low budget and the drum
computer is awful. It's a pity because the music deserves better.
- Prayers Form A Yearning Heart, Nordic Mission
The CD cover sets
the standard for the music on this five song disc. You can see what seems to be a
carbonised fist bound by barbed wire. This makes clear that this isn't the next Britney
Spears album, just to name a pop artist. Stronghold is a Norwegian one man band.
Mastermind is Eirik Hellem B° who played most instruments on this album (guitars, bass,
drums) and he also did the vocals. Additional keyboards were done by Kjartan Vestvik.
Musically Stronghold is black metal mixed with dark and doom metal. The doom elements
remind me of Ashen Mortality but the production is shrill, giving it a winter-like feel.
The dark and black metal elements sound much like Antestor with the vocals being distant,
more growling than hissing/shrieking. The songwriting is good, though not really
progressive. The musicianship is fairly good and B° succeeds in creating a dark
atmosphere. The quality sound wise isn't fully satisfying though, but definitely not bad.
Gryp - Left Behind,
Left Behind is the
title track of a new EP by Gryp. There are five heavy alternative tunes on this album with
a passion for hardcore and nu metal. Vocal styles and guitar tones make me think of bands
like Korn, Limp Bizkit and Deftones. The vocals vary from passionate singing to harsh
screams. It's not rap style. Sometimes I can almost put my finger on an idea they picked
from another band. The combined result is intriguing at times yet not satisfying all the
way. Best cuts are Left Behind, Lessons Of Distance "Can't Explain" and Change
My Name. Production is pretty good.
- Throwing Myself, Solid State
sounds are the most striking aspect of this band. It has a dark overall sound. Luti-Kriss
is a metalcore band from Georgia, USA. Throwing Myself is their first Solid State Records
release. And quite an intense one too. The music is diverse in intensity, yet the dark
sound is like a sauce to spice it up and give it the same taste. The music is groovy but
without fast drum work. The vocals are most of the time heavily distorted, screaming, and
in a song like An Act Of Volition they make me think of Training For Utopia. Throwing
Myself was produced by Andre Wahl and this resulted in an excellent Solid State Records
debut. What bugs me a bit is the senseless use of silence. Track twelve is six minutes of
pure silence and the final track starts after 45 seconds. This doesn't make listening to
the entire album convenient. I wish bands would stop doing this.
- Stereo Girl, Tooth & Nail
Punkish pop ditties,
that's perhaps the best way for me to describe the songs of this New Jersey band. Compared
to their previous musical piece this disc is even more poppy and less punky. The punkish
twist is still clear in some of the songs (Just To Like You) but it's pushed further in
the back now. The focus is on the fragile vocal pop styled singing of Crissy Verhagen and
the rocking soundscapes of her band. The recorded quality is real good, making it
enjoyable for the punkpop fans. Notice that I say punkpop, not poppunk. Personally I have
to get used to the fragile singing but the songs are beautiful, like Standing On the Edge
Of The Night, 20 Years In The Making and Private Conversations. Element 101 succeeded in
making an album with beautiful songs and poppy hooks.
Brother - Lost At Sea, Tooth
& Nail Records
The new Craig's
Brother was recorded by Darren Grahn at the Greenhouse Studios in Canada. The result is on
the disc in my CD-player. Honestly, the only song of the band I knew before was Lonely
Girl from their Tooth & Nail debut which was a catchy poppunk tune. Lost At Sea is a
bit in that vein yet it's surprisingly pop oriented. The album starts with Glory, a rather
beautiful song with the melodic hooks the pop punk fan will like. The song also features a
children's choir. However, the booklet doesn't give any information about this. Nor about
the orchestrations in the marvellous song Back And Forth. Even if you're not into pop
punk, this album offers enough to check out. There are faster parts in songs, like in
Divorce, but also some pop oriented heavy rock songs. There's variety, though not too
much. I think the band made an enjoyable effort on this disc.
Troy - Troy, Independent
This is a special EP
release from the band formerly known as Sinical Glance. The name changed but the music is
still symphonic rock. What makes this record special is that it's a CD-R only available
for the really interested as the main focus of it is promotional use. So, it's quite
exclusive. The last song is an old recording taken from Sinical Glance's rock-opera Truth
Or Delusion: Song Of Mary. Now the main vocal duties are taken care of by female singer
Marrieke van Veelen. The other three songs were recorded live. And it's a perfect
recording in the sense that you'll get the perfect impression of the live sound of this
band and their musical achievements on stage. I saw them live twice in the last ten months
so I guess I know what I'm talking about. The music is fascinating, atmospheric, sometimes
a little heavy, but most of the time dreamy in a way. It's the sort of music to sit and
listen to. It could be heavier to my idea. Their instrumental capabilities are solid as
shown on this EP. What you'll hear is what you'll get. Besides, Marrieke has a beautiful
voice that fits the music well.
- Visi, THT Productions
I regret this, I
really do. What you can hear on this disc is the solo work of Jefray, guitarist of Kekal.
His work for Excision is an amalgam of several styles and influences. The first song has
an atmospheric feel with clear singing and it builds up quite nicely. In fact, I love this
song. The second song starts with that atmospheric feel too. Jeff isn't the world's best
singer but he has a distinctive voice that fits the music well. It almost has a poppy
sound. What do I regret about this disc then? The lack of a fat sound. I miss the sonic
quality to enjoy the tracks fully. It's regrettable as some of these songs are so
beautiful. Not that it is really bad though but not enough to satisfy me fully. Jeff
combines influences from eighties metal, gothic, industrial and even some black metal,
ambient and other styles. Sometimes the mix of styles works excellent, sometimes there are
flaws. But overall it's a worthy experiment. Regardless of the shortcomings in sonic
quality I will enjoy this disc.
Artists - Free Bee Two, Tooth
& Nail Records
Samplers are always
excellent opportunities to get to know some current releases. This one is no exception.
The second Free Bee compilation features seven bands with two songs each: Element 101, The
Dingees, Zao, Craig's Brother, Further Seems Forever, Luti-Kriss and the Deluxtone
Rockets. All are bands on Tooth & Nail and Solid State Records. It all rocks. The
first Free Bee contained more bands with one song each. This approach with fewer bands and
two songs each gives you a better idea of the latest releases of these bands. For the
sampler-freaks to check out!
- By God, Rugged Records
full-length is By God. Their music is a heavy mix of groovy metal and rap-like vocals.
It's not at all like rapcore. The foundation this band lays down is a metallic one. It's
groovy. And besides rapping there is also a lot of normal singing, like in Can't Breathe.
Disciple is also a band on a mission. Their lyrics are plain and there are even short
liner notes telling what each song's about. A cool thing is that this album contains an
extra disc to give to someone else. The extra disc has three songs from By God. The album
also ends with an acoustic piece and singer Kevin Young delivering the Christian message.
This is done quite emotively, American style, that doesn't appeal to me though. Sometimes
it happens that a band with such a mission neglects the musical vehicle for their message.
Not so with Disciple. That's evident on this album as the music is well produced, heavy
and in-your-face. And it has 19 songs with a total of more than 70 minutes. Cool!
The Awakening - Ethereal
Menace, Intervention Music
The Awakening is not
a new name in the music world. Ethereal Menace is his third CD. I say 'his' as The
Awakening is the work of one person: Ashton Nyte. Based in Johannesburg, South Africa, he
wrote the music on this disc and played most of the instruments himself. A fourth album is
already out in his home country. What you can hear on Ethereal Menace is gothic rock
music. It's not really heavy stuff. The first song (In Etherea) is guitar driven and
midtempo. The second (Naked) is slower and has a dark atmosphere created by keyboards.
Nyte's singing ranges from low and slow, almost whisper like, to midrange. The music of
the third song, Chains, is more uptempo. The songs are good and the singing fits this
style of music very well. It contributes to the dark atmosphere you can sense in those
songs. The guitars could be much heavier though to satisfy my taste. Nevertheless a very
interesting album with great songs.
Artists - Music For The Next Millennium, MCM Music
Though this album is
out since the last century, it only fell on my doormat a few weeks ago. It's interesting
enough to review it after all. Music For The Next Millennium starts with an introduction
talk of pastor Dave Hart of Sanctuary San Diego. There are five bands on the disc. Eva-O,
formerly of Christian Death, contributed two tunes from her Damnation album. The songs are
dark, gothic and mesmerizing. Rackets & Drapes comes next with two songs from
Candyland. Musically they combine thrash metal with some industrial influences. Two songs
from Narnia's Long Live The King record were put on this compilation too. They play
excellent melodic metal. Top notch. Wedding Party is the fourth band with atmospheric
music from their Anthems album. Saviour Machine is the only band with four songs. The
first is The Night, that dark piano song with the wailing vocals, lamented to coming doom.
The last two songs were recorded live at the Christmas Rock Night in Germany in 1998.
You'll get 14 minutes of live music. These recordings make this compilation extra worth
Minus SF - Minus SF,
Finland, Minus SF is a pro energy pop punk band with melodic singing and occasional
harmonic parts. It's not really speedy material but you can sense the energy the songs
display. The five tracks prove that this formation is capable of writing good songs and
play them rather nicely too. Better sonic quality is desirable, though the tracks come
across. It's not the quality you would expect from a Tooth & Nail release, sound-wise.
But considering the songs themselves, this band is ready to undertake something more
worthy their craft. The EP also contains a video track of the song New Colours. You can
view and experience it in three formats. One of them worked on my computer. What I saw was
a good representation of the band. Really cool.
Silence The Foe - When
Summer Turns To Sand, Independent
The titletrack that
begins this six song EP sounds rather pleasantly, calm, and builds up a bit. This is only
the prelude to five heavy hardcore songs. Silence The Foe was started only a year ago,
march 2000, and that surprises me, hearing their music. I guess the members have a past in
other bands as they sound too well experienced. Their music is raw, aggressive hardcore
with hoarse screams. It sometimes reminds me of early Training For Utopia. Other moments
are quite straight forward, raging rock. Tommy Akerholdt from Silver took care of the
production and this resulted in a very fine debut release.
Purgation - Realm Of The
About a year ago I
reviewed a record by Purge. Well, Purge changed its name into Purgation and this is their
new release. The disc contains four songs written by vocalist, guitarist and bassist
Ronnie Griffin. It's not fast stuff though you'll find some fast parts (like in the
titletrack). It's not really doom metal but most of the time you can hear dragging
rhythms, almost Tool like. Compared to the previous album I don't hear much progress. The
songwriting is good though the production could be more fat in sound