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Reviews 1998

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Michael Sweet - Truth, Michael Sweet Productions

I have a problem with this new (demo)CD of Michael Sweet. The disc starts off with the titlesong and it sounds nice but not special. The second song enters the hearingcanals easily too. But then comes Blue Bleeds Through. This is a great rock-song in which all colors you can think of are sung about. As a vocalist Michael is doing the job very well. With ease he changes from the normal vocal delivery to falsetto and back and that's great.On Truth you hear modern rock-songs with sometimes a vocal-style reminiscent of the poppier side of Stryper. Achilles Heel is a grungy rock song that you should play loud. Distracted starts off quietly but evolves into rock 'n roll with a delicious guitarlead. This is what I enjoy. The last song, Stone, is a super-sweet ballad with piano and orchestrations of Pete Vantine. It does remind me of a Stryper-ballad like All Of Me from To Hell With The Devil. Very soft and you've got to like it. I like it. For this album Michael Sweet assembled a team of people around him to make something beautiful. According to me he succeeded. The problem I have with this CD is that I can't get it out of my CD-player. I guess Truth will reign over my player for some time.

Orange-i - Hippotraffic, Sally Forth Records

Have you ever heard of the word Hippotraffic? Well, check out you dictionaries but I guess you'll have to add this word. If I may give you a description of the meaning of this word it is this: Hippotraffic is a feeling that fills your ears with an alternative sound that moves you like traffic. No, I'm kidding. It's pretty much a description of this album. Hippotraffic is just a fun title that originates from a phrase in a U2 song. That Irish band is named as one of their influences. I'd rather say The Cure because the songs have that seem dark feel. Orange-i brings atmospheric alternative rock. Just listen to Queen Of Narnia with an icy wind blowing, the rippling sound of guitars and mesmerizing vocals. This is a mellow tune but there's some heaviness here too with   haunting electric guitar-sounds like in The Wonderworking Power Of The Lamb. Lyrically this band has something to offer with poetical songs and more clear lyrics, like in Araki: "How clumsy of me to fall on my knees ,while you need a drink. Assay the first commandment of Christ: Love them as yourself. This is no hypocrite hippy-shake. That golden age was crap." The production of this album is great and the booklet is okay too. Hippotraffic is the first word they will add to the next edition dictionaries. Good stuff.

Morella's Forest - From Dayton With Love, Tooth & Nail Records

This quartet from Dayton was once described as noise-pop. I agree to that because it sounds poppy and    is from time to time noisy. Vocalist Sydney has an almost melancholically voice that controls the music of Morella's Forest. Her voice is almost like whispering though   she sometimes pulls her volume-knob (where that one might be). But you'll never hear her scream. One of the most beautiful songs on this album is Bounty Hunter with a guitarsolo and a prominent role for the keyboards. The band covered Kids In America of Kim Wilde too and it's nice. The CD end with a hidden track (hey, that's original!) complete with electronic hocus pocus. To my opinion Sydney might sing with more power but this is a nice disc though not special.

Embodyment - Embrace The Eternal, Solid State Records

"Tooth & Nail goes metal" seems to be the slogan nowadays. First they did Living Sacrifice. Then the hardcore puritans were saying that Zao were denying their hardcore roots by compromising with metal. And now there's Embodyment. This band is the embodyment of a kind of hybrid form of metal that's combined with other extreme music-styles. You hear a mix of death, grindcore and hardcore with a knife-tip blackmetal. Embodyment has a masters degree in succeeding on riff after the other which makes you sometimes wonder whether they're playing another song while they're just half way through one song. And that's also the biggest drawback. You hardly get a chance to enjoy one riff when the other takes it over soon. The frequent changes of speed are nice, though. From very slow to extremely fast. A good example of that  is Religious Infamy which is sung by Living Sacrifice vocalist Bruce Fitzhugh. At least this extreme quintet has talent but it needs some smoothing still. For fans of extreme music, here's a product to embrace.

Sculpture - Spiritual Matrix, independent release

It's quite some years ago that this Dutch deathmetal band had a release out. In 1993 they released their demo Death To Death and after some concerts and a tour, Sculpure was silent for some years. Hopefully, things will change with their debut-CD on which they worked for more than a year. Spiritual Matrix is an album with enough diversity to enjoy. You can hear some fast parts in songs as well as slowed down parts. Check out the fast intro to No Respect which reminds me of early Living Sacrifice. The song Scorning has a cool doomy kind of intro. In their songs, this band incorporate acoustic parts which add some atmosphere. And still it's a unity, music-wise. Only four songs do not fit in with the rest. They are songs that were on the Death To Death demo. The songs are remade but they sound almost similar to the originals. These old songs are a bit different in comparison to the new ones and especially the new ones I enjoy. Spiritual Matrix is an interesting album for any death metal fan, old style. The biggest drawback is that the sound quality isn't top notch. It doesn't shine as bright as I would like. It gives the album too much an underground-demo feel. Okay guys, go on like this but no more sabbaticals!    Available through the band and through Cross Rhythms USA

Various - Take Time To Listen Volume IV, 5 Minute Walk

When there would be a vote for the most refreshing record-company I would vote for 5 Minute Walk. They manage to organize tours that go hand in hand with charity-work. And beside that they provide great music too. The sampler starts with acoustic pop/rock from Sherri Youngward (two songs) from her latest album No More Good-byes followed by ska-formation The W's. On this sampler there's European stuff to. The Scottish The Electrics come up with folkrock from their album Livin' It Up When I Die. The Echoing Green follows with synthopop that hints back to the eighties. After TEG comes Five Iron Frenzy with Every New Day from Our Newest Album ever and song from the third release Quantity Is Job 1: Dandelions. The name Shekinatones made me expect a new ska-band but this is not true. These guys have roots in the eighties: "The Glam-rock revival is about to arise. We've got pyrotechnics and tight leather pants. We use lots of hairspray and big Peavy amps so we can...stop, drop, rock & roll." Besides these six names, this sampler has music from Justin McRoberts, Rivulets And Violets and Justin Dillon Stevens (former Dime Store Prophets member). Finally this message from the label itself: "All net profits from this Take Time To Listen Volume 4 CD will go to help the people in Valle Verde, Mexico  at the 5 Minute Walk House. In the last three years the Lord has blessed 5 Minute Walk enough to buy the land, build the house and feed 100+ kids everyday. Now we are moving forward to bring supplies, and a full-time doctor to the house to open up a medical clinic at the same location. By purchasing this CD, you have helped this ministry. Thank you very much!" 5 Minute Walk is a different label, you can see. Thank you very much indeed!

Tefilla - Grievous Anguish, Fear Dark

Like a bomb blowing a building away, thus would have been the result if this album would have been released on time on October 26th 1996. I have a biography which was spread at the Flevo Festival in Holland in 1996 in which this album announced as Scenes Beyond The Grave. Two years later, the album came out. Before me lies a very good metal-product. The first name that comes to my mind is Decision D. Tefilla is at least of the same quality level and musically it's in the same vein: Groovy Deathmetal and Techno Death, though without the Caribbean influences. The songs are long with lots of changes of speed. The vocalist does screaming death-grunt. There are seven songs here that are dished up as a tasty and spicy meal. Several influences you can hear of both Pantera as Tourniquet. The guitarlead in Exorators Chapel could have been on a Believer album and the intro to the titlesong reminds me of Betrayal. But Tefilla has a sound of their own. The best moment of the CD is in the song Horn Of Salvation when in the second part the lead guitar is given all space to shred. When the last sounds dim away I sigh. It's too bad the band doesn't exist anymore. Available trough Fear Dark and in the USA through Cross Rhythms Music

SinDizzy - He's Not Dead, Tim Gaines Music

This band has two Stryperanians in it. SinDizzy is not Stryper and you can hear that, though the band doesn't step back for solos that last longer than half a minute. He's Not Dead contains six songs that were recorded in 1996. The music is heavy and not so poppy as Stryper but still melodic. The record has also four songs that were written by Ox Fox in 1991 and recorded in 1992. These songs were meant for the Seventh Stryper CD which was never released. You can hear clear Stryper elements in these songs. It's not as good as a Stryper-album but this is of course only pre-production, demo-stuff. For die-hard Stryperfans this CD is a must-have. Available through the SinDizzy website.

Lightmare - The Fool, Treasure Hunt Records

Can you imagine? Lightmare was going to play in Holland and it was said that the concert would be in Amsterdam (about one and a half hour from my hometown Doorn)   between the 8th and 15th of august. Wow! That would be an opportunity to catch up with this German band of which I only had heard before but never had a chance to hear on CD or live.It would be great to get to know them, do an interview, etcetera. However, it was not known where exactly the band would play and when. So I contacted the band to find out more. I was told that I would be contacted as soon as they could tell more. At last it happened that I contacted them again to hear that concert had already taken place! But not in Amsterdam. No, they did a short gig on a seminar in ....Doorn, my hometown! That has won the Disappoinment Of The Year Award! Well, there are no hard feelings whatsoever. To make it up here's a CD from the  Lightmare guys! This is a 1997 studio-effort featuring 12 songs. Musically this is melodic metal, sometimes with symphonic leanings (Wasted Lives) and other times with power metal leanings (Rebellion). But always is there the melodic approach with thoughtful playing. Maybe this could be described as a cross between Narnia and German melodic metalbands. The production is good and I think this album will appeal to both the symphonic rock as the heavy metal audiences. Some songs would fit the symphonic category very well but it's just with a heavier edge than most of that stuff. The approach is a bit old school but that's okay. For people who are still/again into the melodic metal this might be the end of your treasure hunt. The good news is that the band has plans for a new studio-album plus a live-album (that would be great: If I listen to it and close my eyes and imagine that this is happening with me attending, it's just like them playing in Doorn after all!). Okay, no more kidding. To get this CD, check out the Lightmare website.

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