Archive for August, 2015

Appollonia ‘Dull Parade’

August 27, 2015

Formed in 2005, Appollonia have been steadily producing albums ever since.  The new release is scheduled for 2016.

On a Bed of Sulfur – Nice groovy riff and drum intro.  Liking the progression of the riffs.  Good vocal harmonising.  This has got a good beat, reminding me of some of the better-known grunge bands, combined.  Some audible stoner influences in there too.  My only criticism would be that it ends too rapidly, depriving us of more of that gravelly rhythmic sound, of which more could have been made.  Wanting to hear more by the end of the opener, though, is good news, as we know.

Strange Blooms – Yes!  Good, banging drum intro; well supported by a similar riff sound.  Unusual, very confident, accomplished vocal tone and style; difficult to describe, but again, reminds me of a similar sound, which eludes me, at present, but there’s a definite haunting quality.  Plenty of very nice, competent drum rolls.  Generally, the title fits it well.  One of those better heard than read about, to capture its’ true feel.

Lights Out – Knives – Out – A darker opening riff, aurally depicting the title well.  More light-hearted vocals in places, interweaving between light and shade.  Lots of high-pitched riffs and darker vocal harmonies.  The closing drum beats work well, emphasising the deep, sinister nature of the song.

Ammunitions Please – Much faster, furious drum and riff intro – ratcheting up the excitement factor.  This one’s got a good, rapid rhythm.  Again, the physicality of the instrumentals suits the song title well.  The vocals are actually fairly gentle, considering its themes.  Nice echoey fade out.

Everest – More melodic intro here, which is quite likeable.  Smooth and steady – moving easily into more of the same; an enjoyable listen, with a decent pitch.  Very grungy in flavour, with a slight stonerish vibe again.  Imagine a marginally heavier Pearl Jam.  Definitely very cohesive.  Insistent feel, with a slower pace.

Elizaberri – Similar sound to the preceding track.  An old-fashioned feel, in parts, reminiscent of travelling back in time.  Alternating tone, pace, pitch and form.  There’s a clear sense of experimentation throughout the album; especially on this track.  Liking the high-pitched riffs, which come into their own, creating a fresh, escapist sound just before the end.  Interesting.

To Study Lips – Greater emphasis on the vocals upon the intro here – quickly seguing from gentler solos to loud, powerful harmonies.  A different tack to the formats used in previous tracks.  Some sense of melancholia about this track.  Slowing down briefly, after the midsection, creating an atmosphere of calm and contemplation, before reverting back to the quicker pace, deepening the bass sound at the close.  Impressive use of various sounds and arrangements.

Anelace – A buzzy type of guitar intro here, with some lovely gentle strumming.  These vocals and lyrics are incredibly morose and more melancholic than before.  You definitely feel the intent and emotions behind them.  Just a very dark, sombre song, with much more lyrical and vocal emphasis.  Fairly short, but captures the mood well.

Welsh Rarebit – Hmm, a food title!  Most intriguing.  Opening with an even more downbeat sound, continuing with some very sad lyrics!  A more light-hearted chorus, returning to the serious verses.  Some nice smooth guitar tones here and there, holding that melting chocolate quality.  Generally, though, it’s a tad funereal.

Overall, it definitely gets marks for originality, versatility and creativity.  If you like the experimental vibe, with a multitude of styles and influences, then this is one for you.  This band/album knows all about capturing a mood.  However, it could do with livening up, in the listenability stakes.  Profound, contemplative and well constructed; but needs a strong injection of energy and life, as far as my own tastes are concerned.  More for the downbeat, downtrodden, defeated by life brigade. Starts off well, with more life initially, but ultimately, lives up to its title, especially in the last few tracks. Depressing, but certainly inventive.

7/10 *******

For fans of Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, The Smashing Pumpkins, Alice In Chains.

www.appollonia.fr

https://appollonia.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/Appollonia.band

https://twitter.com/Appollonia_band

https://youtu.be/UtYNkbADODM – Video for ‘Strange Blooms’

 

 

Thrashole ‘Blasphemy’ EP

August 18, 2015

Blasphemy – Ooh, a very different kind of intro on this!  A triangle, followed by various other light percussive instruments, before the characteristically metal riffs and heavy drums come into play.  Still continuing, though, with the unique emphasis on percussion, throughout, bringing in the heavy set vocals slightly later than is usual.  Some highly inventive riffs, containing lots of melody and speed/power angles, along with standard throw down doomy ones.  Long enough to be able to pay attention to it and generally, an extremely noticeable song, with far more instrumental than vocal emphasis.  A very original track, with a sound so individual that it’s certainly hard to pigeonhole.  This definitely stands out from the crowd.

Chain – Opening with a couple of hits on the cymbals, rapidly joined by a hard, heavy drum section, some very nice metal riffs and melodic vocals, combining solos with harmonies; it’s a more generic sound and style, holding a decent catchy tune.  Liking those scales!  Faster, faster, faster!  It has to be said that this track contains some great bass work, which is far more memorable than most.  Bringing out that nice gritty vocal quality towards the end and finishing on a very nicely placed speed riff and drum hit.  This is one for the metal aficionados.

Averice – The Boneyard – Most intriguing title.  A loud, explosive intro, evoking imagery of enemy fire being opened on you.  Maintaining that whole feel throughout; this is a classically steel feel, heavy metal song.  Just nice and loud; growing harder and darker until the end.  Few drummers hit the drums as hard as that; making that the standout factor in this track.

Solitary Confinement – A vast change here again, with the beautiful acoustic opening, gradually giving way to a more electric, amped up chorus, of significant power.  Closely followed on its heels, by a typical power/speed section, increasing the heaviness and holding a deep drum feel within it.  A good selection of sounds and a very much magnified sense of heaviness.

Overall – A particularly heavy piece of work, capturing great depth and an actual physical sense of ‘deepness’, within its performance.  It’s an EP requiring real focus and demonstrates clearly, the level of concentration inherent within its creation.  Each track has something unique and noticeable about it, which, in itself, makes the EP, collectively, far less forgettable than many.  It’s big advantage is that in utilising variety in the way that it does, it strays away from being samey and following traditional conventions.  The risk taker element is prominent here and is also cleverly executed, in a way which still makes it fun.

8/10 ********

www.facebook.com/thrasholeband

For fans of inventive heavy metal, directed away from the mainstream.

 

Critical Solution ‘Sleepwalker’

August 8, 2015

Introducing Norwegian horror thrash metal outfit ‘Critical Solution’.  Combining thrash metal with horror story lines and sounds never heard before, the band’s European tour of 2013 saw them supporting the likes of Marduk and Grave, taking the band to 13 countries, performing more than 20 shows.’Sleepwalker’ is their second full-length album, available soon.  Brand new single also coming soon.

The Curse – Creaking door, chilling riffs, horror movie lines of vague familiarity, with soundtrack of indeterminate, but definitely haunting noises, to make the mind boggle.  Laced with intrigue, compelling you to continue to the next track.

Sleepwalker – Title track, with the most banging intro!  Ramps up the excitement factor, with its heavy duty drumming, riffing and vocals.  Great harmonies, pulled off in one of the most difficult sub-genres to fit them into.  A very strong, united sound about this.  Catchy choruses, with more haunting, yet fun riffs, combining thrash, speed, doom and horror all in one go.  Genius.  Getting catchier towards the end with some distinctly Hetfieldesque vocals and solid beats and rhythms.  This works and you’ve got to love it for its excitability, if nothing else.

Welcome To Your Nightmare – Another banging opening, with a definite Testament flavour.  Loving the sound of the lyrics and the quickfire rapid pace.  Some very powerful variations in pace, in there too, alternating between sounds aswell.  Loving those riffs at the end.  Like shooting stars firing up into the sky.  Perfect ending.

Blood Stained Hands – Liking the seasoned way in which this is gradually opened, using various elements of percussion, joined in perfect time, by the riffs and vocals.  I particularly like the sound of the vocals in here.  Something grungy, yet heavy and gritty about them.  A definite standout factor.  Combining a mixture of vocal styles and sounds which produces a very tasty, memorable sound.  Imagine Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Metallica, Soundgarden, Pink Floyd and Down, in a room together and you’ll get some idea.  This whole track is like they’ve taken the cream of the rock and metal genres and combined them, to create something even better.  Not at all sure about the bleep of the life-support machine at the end…. it does seem like superfluous overkill in the face of what’s already gone before it.  You had it down right before, guys.  Don’t mess with perfection.

Murder In The Night – A slightly ghostly echoey trance like quality to the intro of this!  Followed by some very beautiful acoustic riffs, accompanied by the squeaky sound of an unknown element we left a few tracks back.  Ah now there are the kind of riffs I like!!!  Hard, heavy and unmistakable, in true metal spirit.  Quickly joined by equally heavy drumming not to be argued with.  Heavier and heavier till it thunders down on you.  Finishing with a return to the sinister soundscape of the mean city streets, late at night and a newsreel of events…  Very apt.

Evidence Of Things Unseen – Bang!  That’s the only way to describe that no-nonsense drumming intro!  Joined by the wail of ambulance and police sirens and ferociously heavy riffs and bass line, combined with some more Hetfieldesque vocals and the combo works well.  A very catchy quality to it.  Returning to the sinister overtones in the midsection, closely followed by even faster, harder riffs, with a lighter hand and a poundingly sexy feel to them and that’s how it ends.  Whichever song ended with the lyrics ‘that’s how the story ends’, must have been influenced by this track.

Lt Elliot – Oh this here is a very Sabbath-esque intro indeed.  That same heavy as hell, doom laden, dark and sinister bass line, with matching riffs, drumbeats, lyrics and vocal style.  In fact, it could almost be ‘Black Sabbath’.  Bloody hell, this really is like a modern-day Sab.  I can’t say I’ve ever heard any band of this era capture that level of sheer harder than hell sound and feel.  These guys have got it nailed.  If you like your music dark and floorboard shakingly heavy, then this is the band for you.

Dear Mother – In total contrast, the vibe changes completely, to a much softer, gentler feel initially, putting me in mind of ‘Laguna Sunrise’, before changing up a gear, to increase the heaviness again, becoming audibly more melodic and tuneful, till you just want to join in.  A long track this may be, but it certainly makes the most of every minute and you will want to listen!  I’m loving those melodic choruses and just as I was about to say they remind me of sailing songs, the lyrics mention sailors).  Had to stop writing to join in with that epic, EPIC, drum section!!!  I think my head’s going to fall off.  This damn track just gets catchier and catchier to the end.  Beautiful.  Beyond.  Belief.

Death Lament – Stirring, blistering opening riffs.  The drums and vocals join in and match the mood, pace, sound and feel brilliantly.  Expressive as fuck!  Just absolutely exploding with metal fury, fire and brimstone.  Love it.  One of those which is actually so hard to write about, cos you just have to join in with it, which, imo, says it all.  The light of metal lives here, in this song.

Back From The Grave – Very gentle acoustic and electric opening combined, which is true beauty in song.  Oh yes!  Soon overtaken by one of the most insistent, steel laden drum sections you’ve ever heard.  Those vocals are just strength itself.  Gorgeous fade out riffs.  Stunning.

Overall – Another life affirming masterpiece from Vlad Promotions.  Fire fuelled, energetic, rocketing with life and buzzing with some of the most unforgettable aspects of metal you will ever have the privilege to hear.  It says something about a band who can move so smoothly from sombre, doom filled darkness at one end, to fun, excited, light-hearted thrash and speed at the other, whilst combining them with horror elements of sinister intrigue.  This is amongst the most unique and memorable of the most unique and memorable standout albums of its time.  You need to hear this.

Favourite track – ‘Dear Mother’.

For utter ingenuity, flame filled riffs, stand alone, powerful, compelling vocals and lyrics and sheer doom laden, blackened heaviness beyond anything in the drums and bass lines and general mind blowing qualities, I simply have to give this 10/10. **********

For fans of Black Sabbath, Testament, Metallica, AIC, Pink Floyd, Gothic horror bands in general and Trivax in particular.

https://www.facebook.com/criticalsolution