Sweet - Truth, Michael
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.
Hippotraffic, Sally Forth
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.
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.
- Embrace The Eternal, Solid
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.
- 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
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!
- 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
- 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.
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.