Archive for September 2018

Dark Ocean Society – ‘Hymns For The Last Man’   1 comment

Solo project Dark Ocean Society, brainchild of Chris Tedor, is a prog metal band, with doom, sludge and post metal influences. This, the 4th album so far, entitled ‘Hymns For The Last Man’, is released on October 19th. Available for free, or a donation of your choice. ‘HFTLM’ was independently produced by Chris, at his home. Chris also performs bass, with Chicago doom metal band Hypnochron. They’ve played gigs with Pale Horseman, Faces Of The Bog, Snow Burial, etc.

Following up the 3rd Dark Ocean Society album, ‘HFTLM’ continues and further enhances material from album 3, intended as a contemplative focus on current society. In contrast to the individual concepts of album 3, ‘HFTLM’ aims to encapsulate society, as a whole. The notion of album 4, (‘HFTLM’), is based around the philosophies of Nietzsche and Aldous Huxley, of materialism and satisfaction with mundanity and shallow existence. Also with the present-day issues of resistance to change/improvement, in the face of significant social challenges. Though not designed with any political agenda in mind, ‘HFTLM’ attempts to present a study of society, through affecting music.

Based in Chicago, Chris Tedor’s musical career began after seeing Tool live, with a friend. (The journey to the gig was an adventure, in itself)! Initially taking bass lessons, from a jazz guitarist called John Zelisko, brother of promoter and radio presenter Danny Zelisko. John’s a formidable guitarist, bassist and drummer. After years of dedicated practice, Chris joined a band named Desert Earth, on vocals and bass. DE separated, after recording 3 tracks. Aaron Koppel was the next tutor to teach Chris. Dark Ocean Society was born at this point. The band’s title was influenced by Yakuza, to whom Chris wanted to pay homage and through his own fondness for the name. His ambition then, was to combine Pink Floyd with metal.

DOS’s debut solo album was entitled ‘Odyssey’. Chris wrote the riffs and Troy from DE contributed significantly to the rest. Chris also performed bass on Troy’s solo album, with Hypnochron, who’ve been playing live ever since. Oceans Of Titan was Chris’s next pursuit, this time, within the stoner genre, on bass and backing vocals. Composed of seasoned professionals, OOT played their debut 40 minute show, following just 3 rehearsals, of entirely original material. It imploded, due to individual commitments and personal difficulties. Not before recording an album, albeit without completed vocals and solo tracking’s, but it’s still deemed a source of pride.

Chris was able to meet his ambitions of mixing Pink Floyd with metal, on his 2nd solo album, ‘Outbound’, a concept, based on space travel. Self produced, the final track, ‘Ghosts Of Lo’ was written and recorded in one weekend. The 3rd DOS album, ‘The Abyss Stares With You’, was launched in 2017. A precursor to album 4, ‘HFTLM’, which presents the form of music Chris was aiming to create, in the beginning.

The Vast Void – Bloody Hell, that’s one hellishly explosive intro! You’d be forgiven for thinking this a death/black metal track, given those growls and cuttingly sharp instrumentals. If there’s one thing it is, it’s affecting. There are sung vocals aswell, set back in a distant formation, amongst the spacey, sci-fi accompaniments. It does incorporate melody, with a maths/tech aspect and there is a depth through which that Pink Floyd influence is audible. A fairly experimental sound, it does become increasingly proggy as it goes on. An urgency in his vocals floods the atmosphere, as it fades out on an ominous singular tone, of disconnection. Too complex to form an opinion, till more’s been heard.

The Last Man – Opening on a blade like rotor sound, a doom mood follows. (See what I did there?) I doubt it’s by accident that doom’s an anagram of mood. Something obliquely Cave-esque becomes apparent, in these vocals. Now the bass gets heavier and fuller, as the riff melody builds. Again, this is clearly the more doom led track, playing around with a narrative vocal. There’s darkness and light within this track, presenting the darker side through the bass and the lighter elements through the riffs. Some pleasant notes hitting the point of mood lift and tapping into it, to soar, as the leadened bass weighs it down. Almost ritualistic, in its hypnotic rhythms and sustain, those aspects may go down well with pagans and witchcraft practitioners. An abrupt, yet echoic end.

Interlusion – Tighter, synth and keyboard intro, with a mysterious essence. Moving into trance/techno arenas, a new aspect reveals itself. Some piercingly sharp pitches in there and possibly, a glockenspiel somewhere. It’s quite visually evocative, of clanging windchimes and winter landscapes. A lot briefer, but the polar opposite of the previous 2 tracks.

Space Cowboys – Heavy, crash of a stoner-ish intro and already, I like where it’s going. Even if those vocals don’t work for me. Relying on an echoic format, they are a bit flat and perhaps, the focus would do better, kept to the accompaniments. On their own, they do cut a good track, representing a real foray into stoner doom territory. Even fairly catchy, in places, the instrumentals are strong. Sludgy emphasis paints a sepia picture, as those vocal exhortations do their own thing, in an almost Lennon-esque way, on ‘I Am The Walrus’. Again, for such a laboured track, it ends quite abruptly, but the doom vibe’s definitely present.

Worship The Sun – Powerful drum blast opens. This is definitely more tuneful and melodic, from the off, with lots of good riffage. The vocals do seem to favour that distant, echoic quality. The synth creeps in again, around 3/4 in and it slides towards a sludgy end.

Spirit Traveler – Introing with a keyboard heavy phase, bringing in some light emphasis cymbal work. Synth reappearing, then it crashes down, in a floor hitting heaviness. Here, the vocals actually sound more confident. Well placed riffage adding the melody, it’s a much lighter track. The mood rises, palpably. Riffs composing most of the track, the rhythm’s faster and seems to flow easier. Again, it’s heavy bass work, continuing that physical emphasis of doom, sludge, stoner, psych combo. Yet still, the whole feel and sound of this closing track’s so much lighter. Ending with a shrill piccolo tone, it fades out, into the distance.

Overall – As an experimental album, it works quite well, with a good variety of inclusions, in instrumental, style and form terms. The vocals may not have won me over on this one, but for a self production, it’s a pretty decent outcome. It does need a bit more work on the audio values, but on the whole, ‘HFTLM’ is a successfully inventive album, with enough genre spins and varied forms to please many.

7/10 *******

For fans of psych, prog, trance, doom, sludge, stoner, dark, tech, maths, space, sci-fi, black, death metal and melo-death.

‘Hymns For The Last Man’ is available for free, or by self chosen donation, by download, via:

http://darkoceansociety.bandcamp.com/yum, using codes: uewx-bevw and l6hj-xugs

https://twitter.com/DarkOceanSociety

https://www.facebook.com/DarkOceanSociety/

Artwork by Chris’s sister Megan.

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Posted September 28, 2018 by jennytate in Uncategorized

PRIMAL – ‘Self Titled’   Leave a comment

PRIMAL is a pure and visceral sound, formed from the grassroots of metal. A 5 piece band, composed of high-profile performers, formerly from a number of well-known bands, including V8, (previously Zamarbide), Logos, Hirax, Heretic, Vengeance Rising, Deliverance, Steel Vengeance, Bloodlust, Deathriders, (Neil Turbin’s Anthrax).

In early 2015, PRIMAL began releasing material, comprising a demo of 2 singles – ‘Afflictions’ and ‘Someone Is Coming’, a debut album and a South American tour, in September 2016. Dave Watson, Rutless guitarist, stepped in early in the tour rehearsals, as a temporary substitute for Glenn Rogers, due to him having sustained a hand injury. This substitution continued for 2 tours.

During September 2016, 2 associated videos came to light, for the debut album’s intro track (‘Disorder’) and another track, ‘Wisdom’. These were produced by Sylvia Loren, (L Prod Director). The album was produced by Iggy Elisavetsky – Grammy award winner, producer and recording engineer, at D-Organisation Studios, Sherman Oaks, California.

PRIMAL’s debut is a 12 track, self titled album, of classic heavy metal, based around powerful melodies and rhythms. It features Rudy Sarzo, on bass, playing his own interpretation of V8 anthem, ‘Cautivos del Sistema’ (‘Captives In A System’).

Disorder – Jazzy upbeat drum vibe introing, with a snazzy, accomplished riff. I’m immediately struck by the unusual vocals. A noticeably unique sound, with a slightly sombre tone. One thing’s for sure, the accompaniments know exactly what they’re doing. Those are the hands of experience. A strangely melancholic track and probably all the more memorable for that.

The Gates – That’s more like it. A really traditional riff intro, though it does retain that downbeat vocal. A bit like a rockier Sting. It’s definitely a voice that stands out. Great riffs, played so loosely, yet so proficiently. It’s a very melodic number, even with that hard to identify thread of morosity. Skilled workmanship, well conveyed.

Wisdom – Banging instant intro there. There’s a very free, relaxed performance style here. The kind that comes from many years of honing and perfecting. Enjoying the song-craft in those riffs. Nice bit of wah wah, strategically positioned. Those vocals really are highly unusual. Hard to pinpoint the sound, but it’s just different and somehow, softer than your average metal vocals. Competently pushing the song forward, it rolls into a drum finale.

The King – Nice heavy intro, throwing in a slight stoner vibe, easing into it and demoing some confident, but laid-back riffs. Quite a narrative thread in here, capturing your attention and working it well with those riffs. There’s something about that voice and it just heads in a different direction to most metal vocals. A slight deathy aspect at the end.

On Burns The Fire – Powerful attack intro’s. Faster pace now. The melody picks up and invades the vocals. Good catchy beat. This is going to be the standout popular track. Decent bit of well played bass. Liking the upward inflections of the pitch, thrusting the track forwards. You’ll get into that chorus, whether you want to or not and probably find yourself air drumming your way to the end.

Demolition – Bang! That’s the way to make an intro surge! Still, those gentle vocals differentiate themselves from most others. Another catchy pace. Here is a sound which fits both hard rock and heavy metal criterion. Always a bonus. Immaculately timed cymbal work. Nicely done riff section. Just let it’s flow of magic wash over you).

Freedom – Now that’s one gorgeously performed steel string intro, with an inherent beauty within its tones. A multi-skilled band at work here. Those drum hits are perfection itself. Imagine a modern version of Whitesnake’s ‘Is This Love’ and you’re there. The answer to all your woes lies right here. A truly therapeutic and beautiful track. Speeding up at the end, combining classic rock with power metal. Just immense.

Cautivos del sistema – Banging, booming intro, flaring up into a wildly free and abandoned sound. Loving the colourful riff tones and audible enthusiasm. On it rocks, into the night, taking your mood up with it, as those riffs rattle your senses. It’s got a very continental sound to it and just a really lively buzz. Love it.

Nitro – Blaring into life again, with the seeds of metallic life energy. This album just gets better and better, as it goes on. Get the speed of those riffs. A very brief, but incredibly masterful grasp of this track takes hold and it just does something to you. Purely instrumental and addictive as hell!

Borderline – Ooh, got to love that ‘Trash’-esque intro! Alice Cooper, eat your heart out. Rolling forward, like a road roller, propelling a metal snowball forwards. Helicopter rotor blade riffs add even more emphasis, as it rolls into a ‘Sick’-esque chorus, Mckagan himself would be proud of. Some tasty vibrato in there, speeding up some more, as it reaches its cataclysmic end.

Afflictions (bonus track) – Banging into life, with a party mood, explosive and assertive. Such relatable lyrics and bound to be cathartic for many. It hit me immediately and it’s got a fabulous melody. Mixing up heavy and light arrangements and always consistently rhythmic and lyrically reassuring. That’s an ace and it’ll save a lot of people.

Someone Is Coming (bonus) – Bursting forth, with a no-nonsense verse, ably conveyed, vocally and instrumentally. Playing to a marching beat, it rocks along, so intuitively and engagingly. Clear vocals, cohesively connected accompaniments, in complete sync with each other. A really likeable tune, plausibly and lovingly delivered. Sinister as the lyrics may be, the music’s assuring and enjoyable.

Overall – Wow! Impacting and progressively thrilling. Okay, so the first couple of tracks may be a bit hit and miss, but stick with it and it’s honestly worth it. It just gets better and better, as the mood lifts and your own mood lifts with it. Track 5 onwards brings the magic, offering up a bridge to a higher plane. If you feel the connection, there’s a lot of magic and catharsis within this album. Ultimately, it rocks hard.

From a would-be 8/10, to a final 10/10. **********

For fans of Devilfire, Whitesnake, Alice Cooper, Danzig.

info@primalmetal.com
http://www.primalmetal.com
http://www.facebook.com/primalmetalband
http://www.reverbnation.com/primalmetalband
http://www.twitter.com/primalbeto

  

Posted September 26, 2018 by jennytate in Uncategorized

WANTED INC – ‘EMBARRASSMENT TO THE ESTABLISHMENT’   Leave a comment

Formed 2005, WANTED INC were originally known as THE WANTED. Their debut EP, ‘There Is No God’ was launched in 2008. In 2009, they released ‘The Scarcollector’, a melo-death album, to much acclaim and several gigs followed, playing alongside famous bands.

Line-up changes led to them renaming themselves as WANTED INC, whilst their material grew thrashier and more involved. As of the 2012 release of ‘Demons We Created’, at Aexxys Art Studio, WI’s popularity and positive feedback has soared. The ‘Demons’ era included a slot at BANG YOUR HEAD!!! Open Air 2013. 2014 saw the creation of EP, ‘King For A Day’.

Current album, ‘EMBARRASSMENT TO THE ESTABLISHMENT’, launched on 8th September 2018. An intricate prog thrash metal release, influenced by Testament, Megadeth, Agent Steel, Deathrow, Secrecy, Hades and Watchtower. As a live band, WI aims for as many stage appearances as possible, through which, they plan to prove their worth, as a modern thrash metal outfit.

Embarrassment To The Establishment – Unexpected acoustic intro, with a natural world background, before exploding into life, with a true thrash sound. Brief, but good start.

Fuel To The Fire – Continuing with that standard thrash sound, rapid speed riffs rule the day, growing relentlessly and remorselessly heavy. Frantic fury fuels this track and it’s definitely well titled. The riffs have free reign, to do as they please here and it has to be said, they really dominate the picture. It gives a strong impression of slightly prolonged improvisation. It’s clear they’re giving it all they’ve got, though a bit more variation wouldn’t hurt.

Grinder In Distress – Steel loaded heavy intro, with lots of guitar heavy involvement. Vocals often barely audible, though and the riffs seem to be the centre of everything. Not that there isn’t a great sound there and plenty of intricate riffage, but the vocals and drums are largely being drowned out. The cymbal action’s very evident, but there’s a general lack of cohesion.

Pancake Principle – Technical riffage intro’s. There’s a lot of slamming riffs going on and a better melody in here, but those vocals have got to come forward and turn up the volume. More melodic focus does alter the course of this track, which obviously benefits it, but the riffs are overpowering. Again, greater equality would bring a better rounded outcome to the song.

Displaced Settlement – Instantly, those riffs come in and yes, they definitely bring the melody to the track and though the vocals are slightly more audible now, the vocal microphone needs more gain and the collective volume needs better equalisation. Moving down to a heavier gear, the riffs continue providing the majority of the sound and though they’re undoubtedly proficient, it’s starting to sound like a solo guitarist. Everything just needs levelling out.

The Vance Kid – Opening with a very slight spoken vocal, it gets straight back into the riff central performance. The cymbals are sounding a tad tinny and overdone and it could do with more heavy drumming input. There’s no doubt the riffs are keeping the rhythm and in no small part, overcompensating for the lack of vocal accompaniments, but as impressive as that coruscating thrash riffage is, everything else needs to up its game. In parts, the vocals do reveal more of themselves, albeit very briefly, towards the end, but it’s nowhere near enough. There’s a significant imbalance going on, which needs rectifying.

Inherent Fatality – Faster now, the riffs speed in there and lurch towards a singular pace, as the vocals gain a slight advantage in volume, yet still insufficient. It’s getting there, vocally, but still a way to go. Liking the strong storm of drums, making its entrance, towards the end, though. That fits well. More than anything, the main message is the same – more vocal volume, more drumming and equal contributions for all.

A Human Criterion – Light drumming intro, quickly joined by riffs, which though skilled and capable, are repetitive and once more, drown out the vocals, struggling to be heard above them. As before, too much cymbal action and not enough drumming. A bit one-dimensional, in general terms.

Zombie Ragout – More of the same, but more drumming at the outset. Slight difference in vocals, adding in a few variations in style, although still too quiet to make much difference. Liking that one-off sharpened, Slayer-esque riff, just before the close, but have to say, it’s sounding a bit like the background music to a pinball tournament, in a near empty hall, with echoing acoustics and little else.

An Evening With Friends – Opening now with a gentle acoustic, momentarily, before blasting into life, with more thrash riffing. Backing style vocals cut a ghostly presence, in the shadows, as the riffs maintain a central role. They do provide a thrash bang, but they’re increasingly samey and do get a little wearing. Everything else is as if it’s a constant fade-out, in comparison. That manic closing laughter might work better, if more substance preceded it, but the whole track’s low in content.

Black Souls Matter – Much heavier intro. Doesn’t sound that different, though. I’m imagining a planetary clash in virtual space now. Good shrill note, punctuating the atmosphere, briefly, but there’s just too much of the same for any last-minute alterations to make the grade. Ending on a sound of a cricket, out for the kill, it’s misplaced and irrelevant.

Overall – Like one long riff solo, playing the same arrangements over and over again, while the rest of the band are MIA. It is thrashy, it is heavy and there is melody. However, it quickly becomes hopelessly repetitive, to the point of boring. The microphones urgently need checking and the virtual inaudibility of the vocals correcting. There’s a yawning gap between the levels of everything else, versus the riffs and improv can only go so far. As a source of background fodder, it’s adequate, but as anything more, it just doesn’t cut it.

7/10 tracks 1-4 ******* 6/10 tracks 5-11 ******

For fans of Bullriff Stampede, Dread, Come The Light.

http://www.wantedinc.de
http://www.facebook.com/Wantedinc

  

Posted September 24, 2018 by jennytate in Uncategorized

Ice Sword – ‘Dragon Magic’   Leave a comment

‘Dragon Magic’ is the new double album from Ice Sword. Recorded by Andy Lane and mastered by renowned producer Dan Randal, at Mammoth Sound, in the centre of ‘The Metal Zone’, ‘DM’ is a concept album, with artwork by Sam Ford and Bryan Buswell. A story now revealed in full, IS have thrown all their energy into this current release, with which they’re immensely pleased and excited for its response.

Birth Of A Legend – A very Dio-esque intro of a breeze of wind, only accompanied by a brief narration of a film-like story-line. Moving, gradually, into a heavily Celtic soundtrack, getting faster and faster, building a picture of pursuit, with a happy, upbeat tone and an inventive, orchestral sound closing. Intrigue injected and attention held. Positive start.

Abysmal Dreariness – Heavy concrete intro, with flashes of Celtic lightning and well paced mid beat rhythm. Catchy flavour to those vocals, telling a very visual story, in theatrical style. A building instrumental swells the images, as it surges towards the end.

Wizard’s Facade – Proper speed intro there, full on impact and now inserting slight thrash elements, verging on death metal, throwing it all together with power moods, racing on till the finish. A busy track, with lots of aspects cobbled together.

Dragon Clash – Opening with a soothing, folky acoustic section now, accompanied by a flute, then joined by the beautifully performed electric riffs. As a concept album, it’s doing its job well, given the natural tendency towards audiovisual storytelling formats. That Celtic thread’s always present, adding that extra spark of life and action. The vocals are definitely well-suited to the narrative angle and it makes a pleasant change to hear a concept album based around pure heavy metal, rather than prog, for instance. It does end very abruptly, though, which kills the ending.

Tormented Rebirth – Very heavy intro there, laying down the steel immediately. A sinister edge creeps into the lyrics and the pace picks up, as the vocal message strengthens. It’s a little brief and I can’t help but think that more could have been made of it. Lost potential there.

Dispatch The Human Plague – Nifty drum intro now, making good use of the cymbals and well supported by the heavy riffs. Once more, those dramatic vocals enter, creating visual imagery of a backdrop to the story. Still, it’s always melodically uplifting, in spite of the darker lyrics. A good strong beat infuses it with power, consistent throughout, climaxing at the end, with a fittingly solid structure.

Iniquitous Respite – Ace hardened metal intro, with battle-esque drums accompanying. Intriguing story told through the lyrics. This is possibly the strongest track yet. There’s a great catchy rhythm to it, galloping onwards, as the narrative unfolds. Closing on a powerful sound effect of oars moving through water, there’s definitely a standout quality to this track.

On The Precipice Of Rectification – Big, booming intro, blowing it up into a crowning achievement. Heavy on the riffs, pumping up the melody and though I’m a little unsure of some of those vocal line endings, it’s generally invested with light, energy and exuberance, which is unquestionably contagious. It’s just a really big sound, revealing itself well at the end, but again, the abrupt ending lets it down. Seems a waste, after such a great track. That needs some work.

A Foreboding Realisation – Dramatic crashing intro now, moving, quickly, into a darker arrangement. Lowering those vocals, very powerfully, the story’s narrative becomes more aggressively told. That’s where it also becomes more plausible, as the passion audibly increases. Those gorgeously melodic riffs really do bump it up so much more, increasing its catch. An ominous telling of dark and sinister motives adds to its substance, as a Bach-esque organ section follows. Changing gear, once more, to a fulsome riff section, depicting the characters in pursuit. The organ joins the other instruments, for a final blast of energy, driving it on, to the riff finale. That ending’s definitely more like it.

Crestfallen Reverie – Opening this time, with a slightly melancholic riff, the vocals are deeper and richer in tone, bringing a more infectious note with them. It’s a very apt depth for this point in the story. It then lifts, as a reflection of lifting spirits. Impeccable focus here, transporting you right into the story, whose visual evocations are increasingly accessible. I almost wish this was televised. The sound builds again, ending on another Celtic tone, but yet again, it’s just a tad too early in finishing. Just another moment or two would have done it.

Sanctimonious Enmity – Lovely mediaeval riff intro, with baroque elements, bursting into a full on metal attack. Speed taking over, with that galloping horse pace again. Impassioned vocals take you through the rest of the story, as the accompaniments grow in stature and the bass deepens, getting heavier and more frantic, along with the urgently executed riffs. The drums beat harder and harder, as the song moves towards its finale. A finale which is almost perfect, but just a tad messy, in places and could do with better riff cohesion – specifically, omitting that up-change in pitch, in the mid-section of the finale and its best bet would be to keep it as it began, consistently, with that initial purity of sound, without adding all the other jazz. The thunder and rain works well and is always a good bet, but just leave the finale as it started out. That arrangement worked perfectly.

Overall – On the whole, ‘Dragon Magic’ is a vastly enjoyable album, bringing a refreshing new slant on concept pieces. There’s lots of great musicianship and it’s evident a lot of effort’s gone into it. That deserves praise, in itself. However, the track endings really need some work, as many are too abrupt, which ruins the effect. There’s also a little too much going on at once and it might benefit from stripping some of the sounds back to a purer, more consistent form. A little improvement would benefit the vocal line endings, in places, too, as they’re just a bit overambitious and crammed in, detracting from the power and richness of his voice. Aside from those few points, it’s a very picturesque and colourful album, with a particular strength for visual accessibility, the Celtic influences are strong and add to its powerful atmosphere. Definitely a worthwhile and uplifting listen.

9/10 *********

For fans of Farseer, Taberah, Celtic Legacy, Crowning Glory, Voltax, White Wizzard, Argos, Tyr, Turisas, Falagar.

https://icesword.bandcamp.com

  

Posted September 23, 2018 by jennytate in Uncategorized

Emerald – ‘Requiem’   Leave a comment

Emerald is a 3 piece studio metal band, consisting of Jeff Melin, Duane Hollis and Will Jones. Formed in the 80’s, in Tucson, Arizona, Emerald has recently returned to the scene, following a long break. They regrouped in 2014 and have been busy working on various albums ever since. Their new album, ‘Requiem’, comprises 8 tracks of traditional metal, harking back to the early sounds, paying tribute to bands such as Black Sabbath, in their early days.

Already having amassed a considerable online presence, ‘Requiem’ is their 4th album, since reuniting and has received frequent acclaim and radio exposure, to secure them a strong international fan base.

The biggest strength inherent in Emerald’s music can be attributed to their firm stance on keeping the flame of the old school burning, by retaining the immortal sounds of metal titans, such as Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Accept and Iron Maiden. The new material reflects this and is a sound with which the entire metal community can identify. Emerald may be said to build a bridge connecting traditional and current metal and ‘Requiem’ should, of course, be played loud.

Endless War – Powerful groove intro’s, with a drum roll, riff and vocal characterising the southern rock sound. Immediately, an ease and laid-back vibe is audible, yet that Sabbath influence is still heard, within the southern blues drawl, coming through in the heavy, clanking tones and natural vocal touch. There’s even a slight Iommi-esque, tri-tone riff, just before the close. Making a good impression instantly, ‘EW’ has a very likeable feel about it, further enhanced by the easy mid pace, making it that much more accessible. Perfect chill-out material here.

Against The Wall – Oh yeah! Get that damn catchy intro riff! Now things are hotting up, with a faster pace and a frantic vocal. You’ll hear the lyrical urgency from the outset and if the buzz of that riff doesn’t get you, you’re already half dead. There’s a great sound to this, as it speeds along, urging you to follow. Who wouldn’t? Only a fool, that’s who. This here is standout track territory, from the off. Again, it combines old school Sab-esque quality with current rock sensibilities, tinged with southern groove and laced with melody throughout. A shining example of how to do metal right!

Eye To Eye – Opening gradually now, moving into a contemplative piano intro, before seguing, steadily, into a guitar section, in perfect sync, embracing you in its warmth. Well timed harmonies and relaxed drum rolls speak volumes about the comfortable familiarity of this band, in each other’s presence and it’s evident that’s the glue that holds the music together, as they spark off each other, in unison. Listen carefully and you’ll even hear very slight echoes of Cooper’s ‘Stolen Prayer’ in those vocals. Just a gorgeous track.

Inescapable – Lively drum roll intro’s. Building up the pace, yet then it comes down to a very classic doom rhythm. This one’ll appeal to fans of stoner/doom rock. It blends quite well with a concoction of genres and sounds, moving fluidly and easily, from one to another. It’s definitely a catchall sound. Building up the tempo and then bringing it crashing back down again, to float on the surface, where rock genres intermingle, there’s a special essence about Emerald, inviting you home.

Tir De Masse – Heavy, involving riff intro, striking and profound. Carrying echoes of everything from ‘Use Your Illusion’ era G’N’R’, to  Fury U.K.’s ‘Remainder’ (Way Of Life), through to Native American world music. A pure and beautiful instrumental, full of soul and definitely a must listen.

Out Of The Light – Wow! Dazzling, Queen-esque riff intro, moving with sheer electricity, into a versatile, enthralling piece, reflecting, in parts, Slayer, UFO, Malmsteen and back to a freely performed combo of all the best and most powerful aspects of modern metal. The surprise in every track so far reveals the range and variation of which Emerald are capable and it’s damned impressive.

Promised Land – A slower number now, opening with a riff, painting pictures of the very promised land to which it alludes. Here, there’s an echo of Jovi-esque style, with a Mid-western image, evoking cowboys and saloon bars, coupled with New Jersey imagery, all carried on a powerful riff, holding the whole song together and fading out, on a dust track of blues. Divine.

Without A Stone – Banging heavy drum intro. This is more typical of Ozzy’s ‘Perry Mason’, from his solo era. Well-placed experimentation with tone, melody and timbre, still sounding so natural and meant to be. Great bit of whammy vibrato, in there, as the drums roll so capably, with the touch of one practically born drumming. Interesting lyrics and held so well by those magnificent riffs, just throbbing with colour. All coming together, so seamlessly, at the end, there’s a sound reverberating through this track and indeed, this whole album, which just seems divinely ordained.

Overall – Some bands are just meant to be together. Emerald is one. Some albums are meant to happen. ‘Requiem’ is one. It’s a delight, from start to finish, never failing to feed your senses, reeling you in, from the word go. Intriguingly titled, far from reminding of requiems, it goes out of its way to reflect life, in all its glory. Deliciously evocative and sumptuously sensuous, ‘Requiem’ reveals all the best bits of metal, mixes them all together and presents them as one. This is what metal heaven would sound like, with all the classiest bands playing together. It’s what you’ve been waiting for. Check it out now and buy it on October 24th.

10/10 **********

For fans of Black Stone Cherry, Alice In Chains, Down, Electric Wizard, Over The Under, Bon Jovi, Corrosion Of Conformity, Black Sabbath, Hitwood, early G’N’R’, Fury UK, Line Of Fire, SOIL, Baleful Creed.

http://www.facebook.com/emeraldmetalusa

Released October 24th, 2018, available from then, via: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/emerald6, in addition to the majority of digital platforms.

Azura Records.

  

Posted September 22, 2018 by jennytate in Uncategorized

Illiterates – ‘Makeout Mountain’   Leave a comment

Raucous garage punk band Illiterates, from LA and Atlanta, have just released their debut EP, ‘Makeout Mountain’. A Matt McCalvin production (Gringo Star, Zoners, St Pe), via Baby Robot Records, ‘MM’ is a 12 track broad ranging album, covering everything from sparkly sentimental ballads, to furious R&R, enhanced by vocalist Steve Albertson’s dramatic vocals. Its themes are inspired by pertinent socio-political, quasi-religious and deeply personal issues affecting the band.

A particularly poignant track, ‘Owl Commander’, is a tribute to the memory of Megan Galbraith, Chicago band 8 Inch Betsy member and lifelong friend of Steve’s. The associated video was directed by filmmaker and New York Times photographer Raymond McCrea Jones.

Illiterates create their music intuitively, at full tilt, in a personal setting and are influenced by a diverse collection of bands and artists, including Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs and Slayer. A band with a refreshingly honest and forthright approach to band relations and the process by which their music is born, Illiterates came up with a set’s worth of lively tracks, within 3 rehearsals. Unusually, much of the album was completed on a rowdy weekend break on a North Georgia Alpaca farm.

White Privilege – Instant impact! A raw punk sound intro’s, with a brief spoken word section, before the rhythmic melody kicks in. A freshness and sincerity pervades this short, but powerful, message driven track. Sex Pistols fans, eat your heart out.

Ramones City – Cool, smoothly delivered riff intro, basic, but it’s enough and it’s got a good groove. A fun, evocative and straightforward track.

Owl Commander – Plucky riff intro, slight sense of Girlschool meets The Pretenders. Confident delivery, tight and upbeat, its skill is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Easy to visualise on ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’, though).

Makeout Mountain – Good bass line opens, breaking into an easy  R&R sound, bringing imaginative visuals with it. Liking the velvet warmth of those riffs. Chaos and order, at once, with a side serving of fairground backdrops. Pleasant listen.

Svengali B – Immediately bass heavy intro, runaway pace and easy riffs. Additional light keys, percussion and well-placed feedback. Even a slight trance/techno echo, combined with 90’s punk/indie/brit rock vocals, surprisingly workable. Imagine Elastica, Placebo and vague psychedelia, thrown together and you’re there.

Mayonnaise Elbow – Hard-hitting, yet light intro, straight in there, with no hesitation and no holds barred. Decent accessible pace, flowing well and again, it mixes old school and modern sounds. It just flies on its own. Dizzying, yet fun and uplifting.

Elementals – Drums introing now, with a few intentional and well fitting feedback squalls and squeaks. There’s clear enthusiasm in the vocals, casually, yet ably performed, with an effortless feel. Spoken sections, verging on sci-fi-esque. It does begin to tail off and lose its focus a tad, towards the end, but generally, it’s a lively sound.

My Enemy – Significant time delay, before it opens, but the racy, melody heavy pace is worth waiting for. Accompanied by a background of vague chaos on the streets, working well and adding that something. Ending on the sound of glass smashing/possible windchimes clanging together, for all we know, but it does the job.

Horton Heats A Who – No, I don’t get that title either, but hey ho. Very brief spoken intro, opening onto rapid-fire drumming, old school riffing, along the lines of surf music and high on melody. The higher pitch connects well with the surf sound and it’s a short lived, but beefed up affair.

Blood Bath And Beyonce – Smashing the intro riff out and this is more Blondie-esque, vocally. Even shorter and more of a basic rhythm and tempo, but it’s just got a very human, grassroots, down-to-earth sense about it.

Uncle Junior – Getting right into it, with another chaotic frenetic paced rhythm. Lyrically, it may appear disturbingly incongruent, with the relentlessly upbeat mood of the melody, in places, but the timbre and timing slots right into the unpredictable chaos of the subject material. Over in a flash of energy.

Xmas Carols In The Psych Ward – Again, it gets straight into the vibe, with effortlessly capable riffs. Slight variation in riffage, when the drums come in, to bridge the early sections. Seems that slightly more thought and time permeates these riffs and the lyrics become a bit more accessible, before adopting a hysterical edge, at the close.

Overall – Well one thing that can be said about ‘Makeout Mountain’ is that it lives up to its hype. It is unarguably, all the things it’s claimed to be. Eclectically thematic and diverse, exploring serious matters, in a light-hearted, earthy way. Lively and energetic, accessible and yet, thought-provoking. An ultimate mishmash of punky attitude, with social conscience and real humanity.

6/10 ******

For fans of The Sex Pistols, PIL, Placebo, The Pretenders, Elastica, Blondie, The Ramones.

Posted September 20, 2018 by jennytate in Uncategorized

THE 1984 DRAFT – ‘Makes Good Choices’   Leave a comment

From Drayton, Ohio, THE 1984 DRAFT are a band whose style combines American rock with 90’s punk and indie. Their current LP, ‘Makes Good Choices’ is about to be launched. Recorded by Pat Himes (Ryan Adams’ ‘Heartbreaker’). Joe Anderl, its main vocalist and songwriter has a 20 year history of supporting a significant range of globally renowned artists, both as a solo musician and with his band projects.

THE 1984 DRAFT launched their ‘Heisman Trophy Winner’ EP, through Gas Daddy Go! (Ex Guided By Voices drummer Don Thrasher’s boutique label), on November 6th, 2015. They also featured as one of 24 Ohio-based bands, on the 10th anniversary Aquabear Legion double vinyl competition, that same year.

Their EP, ‘Bo Jackson Up The Middle’, was released in 2014, through We Want Action. Both EP’s were produced at Popside Studio, with Micah Carli (ex-Hawthorne Heights guitarist). The latter production launched ahead of an NFL Network documentary, about the actual 1984 NFL Draft, featuring the band. Filmed in their native locality, on January 10th, 2014, broadcast on April 30th, 2014, on the NFL Network, following print and digital publications, in Sports Illustrated, The Omaha World Herald, New Noise Magazine, Ghettoblaster Magazine, etc.

THE 1984 DRAFT comprises: Joe  Anderl, (vocals, guitar), Justin Satinover, (drums), Eli Alban, (guitar), Chip Heck (bass).

Jan Kawolski – Very 90’s indie rock intro, much heavier on the instrumentals than the vocals. Pure riffing, lively, but samey and the vocals are barely audible and need bringing up. Short and sweet.

Lately – Deafening intro, very much in the same indie vein. A little tinny sounding and just a faint hint of group backing vocals. Hard to add any more, but so far, I’m not feeling it. Seems to be a carbon copy of the intro track.

Miss Ohio – This is better. More of a country blues rock emphasis and at least, some of the vocals are audible here. Unfortunately, though, not enough to count on and it just isn’t cutting it. The riffs are just too repetitive and though you can hear some enthusiasm here, it’s lacking substance.

Morrissey Of Mandy’s – Okay drum intro, keeping time well, but there’s a flat tone to the vocals and though there’s some variation in the riffs and they’re obviously eagerly played, nothing stands out and it’s missing that groove.

Honest – Slower pace now, with a more relaxed tone. Again, though, the vocals are distant (though it’s possible that it’s intended in part, for this track). Still, nothing grabs me and it just seems like an extension of the previous tracks. There’s general inconsistency in the audio quality of the individual components. The guitars are too loud, but the vocals are too low and the cymbals often tinny. Balance is required here, plus an injection of life.

Wedding – A better riff opening, initially, moving slightly further into the Brit rock area of the same 90’s era. This time, it’s got a swing to it, providing a bit of catch. Oasis fans might like this. Yet the vocals are still near inaudible, preventing any further assessment. Very brief and leaving an impression of incompletion. Shame, as this track had potential, if only more had been made of it.

Lutheran Heat – Improving slightly. Livelier riff intro’s, but yet again, it may as well be a guitar solo, since that’s really all that’s audible enough. Another wasted opportunity, over before it’s started.

Red Dress – Decent bit of intro riffage, plucky and now employing the quiet/loud dynamic. That makes a difference, when it bursts into life, with the louder sections, but the vocals disappear into the background again. The riffs would probably do a better job alone.

Megaphone – Early 60’s R&R drum intro, followed by some pleasant chords. As before, the vocals vanish into the autumn mists and the accompaniments are turned up way too loud, causing distortion. Hard to even make out any kind of real tune or melody, through the feedback. Ironically titled, really.

Lisbon Falls – Sounds as if this should have been ‘Wedding’, given the church organ intro! Even if it’s not the cheeriest of tunes. The riffs explode into action, in much the same way as before and actually, there’s almost a pleasant cohesion in the choir of voices joining the guitar, but the general sound’s too jarring, jolting and disjointed, to be able to glean much enjoyment from it. It’s evident the guitar’s overcompensating for the imbalance and though in itself, it could be a decent sound, it lacks effort and variety, letting itself down.

Overall – An unfortunate waste of potential, let down by bad production, imbalanced sound and general lack of energy and vitality, shown through repetitive, lacklustre performance, with no discernible variety or USP. Needs a great deal of improvement and much more professional sound production. Disappointing.

4/10 ****

For fans of country rock, bluegrass, blues rock and 90’s indie and Brit rock.

http://www.the1984draft.com
http://www.facebook.com/the1984draft
http://www.poptek.com

Posted September 19, 2018 by jennytate in Uncategorized