Category Archives: CD Reviews

Meshuggah

meshuggah i coverI (Special Edition) by Meshuggah (Nuclear Blast Records)

Ten years ago this past summer Meshuggah released the 21 minute epic I to commemorate the beginning of their friend Jason Popson’s Fractured Transmitter label. While fans are hungrily awaiting the next Meshuggah full length, we’ve got this re-release of I to sate us. As disjointed as the various parts may have been prior to mixing, they all sound of a single ear-melting piece. The band didn’t have to appeal to their present label, given release for one song to support Popson, the band still had the pressure to continue to impress their fans.  Every member an imaginative musician, I feels like classic Meshuggah: downtuned guitars and insane solos, harsh vocals, the percussion of three men in one, multiple rhythms and tempos and movements within songs among other elements. Turn it up loud and revel in the ambient guitar string plucking, followed by double-bass kicks, guitars locked into tight circles leading to a chugging and angry section, then a slow yet menacing guitar segment building to a futuristic “protecting the world from extinction” vibe that would make Geddy Lee smile.

Also included in this special edition is a live version of Bleed, taken from their 2012-13 tour.  The band play with such precision I wonder if they’ve been bionically augmented to be able to keep up their style of playing. Dancers To A Discordant System follows, also from the same tour and released last year as a free promotional release for Scion. Dancers is a slower song yet no less thrilling for it, the band playing variations of the same riff, the groups coming to an agreement at the halfway point then getting down to a truly godlike headbanging session for the ending, mountains crumpling at the power.  Pitch Black ties up the EP. Recorded in 2003 and previously released on the Scion download with Dancers, Pitch Black reveals a more accessible yet still brutal side of Meshuggah.  beginning with a downtuned guitar chug accompanied by tribal drum tattoo, mysterious guitars pluck in the shadows, Jens Kidman’s vocals a smoky and subtle chanting, a guitar solo crashes down, at first sounding like a hard jazz saxaphone.  Later, the quiet segment features a guitar part that is bluesy and played with soul. Then to bring it all to a destructive conclusion, the band combines performances from all the previous parts for one serious pit-stomping party.

(by Bret Miller)

LINKS
www.meshuggah.net
facebook

Share

SPC ECO

spc eco sirens coverSirens and Satellites by SPC ECO  (Saint Marie Records)

SPC ECO is the band created by former Curve architect Dean Garcia and Dean’s daughter Rose Berlin. Father and daughter have been making music together ever since Rose displayed singing talent as a baby.  As SPC ECO they make music for themselves, at their own pace, without label support.  Musically, at least on the new album Sirens and Satellites, this is like I imagined it would: a further evolution of the Curve sound (or I should say the Garcia Sound).  The overarching feel is fire and ice, with Rose’s vocals icy beauty and Garcia and friends offering the heat and sizzle from guitar textures, synths and usually midtempo percussion. Fallen Stars will bring chills up your spine upon hearing the swirling, grinding and wailing guitars against thrumming bass, Rose’s voice powerful yet restrained. Delusional Waste goes to the dancefloor with a techno bass and beat, Rose’s voice ice cold, yet still inviting. Hold You Up is one of the most delicate tracks on the album, simple bass, drums, synths and voice building to a quiet yet powerful end.  High On It is another dance track with pulsating beats, guitar echoes and Rose’s dancing ice queen vocals.

spc eco Rose-pop2-crop4-460x460Songs like Zombie and The Whole Day Long are as good as anything Garcia’s done in the past, Make Me Say is brutal and bloody guitar slashes and crunchy rhythm loops, Rose  purring and cooing like a mantis before taking off  your head.  Don’t Need Fear is a slow bass dub, guitar effects aiding Rose’s voice insinuating itself deep inside your psyche. Tweet Fields At Night opens pleasantly with sweet vocals and feathery synths, A trip-hop beat kicks in, joined by a uplifting guitar melodies to accompany those light synths, the loveliness of it all punctuated by a big swell of guitars and big drums, then taking the first part and dirtying it all  up with distorted guitars and bass, closing with the nostalgic refrain, leaving you with a sense of wonder.

Sirens and Satellites surprises on so many levels, from their genre-blurring compositions to their juxtaposition of light and dark, fast and slow and fire and ice, the invigorating, dark, emotional and beautiful songs on Sirens and Satellites will be enjoyed, dissected, danced to and be the inspiration for many for years to come.

(by Bret Miller)

LINKS:
Youtube channel
SPCECO.COM
Bandcamp
Facebook

Share

Information Society

Information Society - Hello World - Cover Art_hello world by Information Society (HAKATAK International / MVD)

I had to take a refresher course in early Information Society and quickly realized why I didn’t follow the band. They made pop music from all the latest technology that was being used by the likes of C&C Music Factory and the flash-in-the-pans of pop radio and MTV.  Their videos were kinetic and colorful and their singles were catchy.  Fast-forward 26 years and the main trio have returned with a quite solid and danceable album in _hello world.  Now I’m a fan!

Photo credit: Wil Foster / rockcandyphoto.com

Photo credit: Wil Foster / rockcandyphoto.com

There’s a techno dance party that you might want to go to, and if Arnold Schwarze-negger tells you to “Get your ass to Mars” you should listen. The Prize is all pumping beats, buzzing synths and popping bass, with Kurt Harland singing “I’m coming up from the ground with my eyes on the prize” like he’s trying to overcome some herculean challenge.  If the challenge is to get the listener to dance then they’ve succeeded.  Where Were You starts out all dark and industrial/gothic before adding a more bombastic chorus.  Get Back is high energy techno with skittering beats and James Cassidy’s pumping bass, Paul Robb’s keys putting some much needed emotion into backing Harland’s impassioned singing.  I imagine clubs all over the world with kids singing this song at the top of their lungs, floors slick with sweat.

Jonestown is a more traditional song structure and all the more accessible for it.  Anthemic with churning and funky bass and dramatic piano work, this should be a live favorite.  Dancing With Strangers shows the trio still have some weird in them, Harland rapping over  buzzy synths and banjo then singing over a looser beat for the chorus, making nonsense sounds like he’s chanting to the musical gods.

Speaking of musical gods, Devo’s own Gerald V. Casale joins Information Society for a spirited rendition of Beautiful World and the trio do Casale proud (“Hey hey!”). Above and Below slows down with dramatic and anguished vocals by Harland and tasteful piano from Robb, showing the band can do sexy too.  _Hello world comes to a close with Tomorrow the World, strings backing Harland’s up-front and powerful vocals, sounding for all the world like Dave Gahan, joined by electric guitar and clattering percussion.  This song proves the musical prowess of Robb, Cassidy and Harland off the dancefloor as well as on.

(Review by Bret Miller)

LINKS
informationsociety.us
facebook

Share

Midge Ure

midgeurefragile1Fragile by Midge Ure (Hypertension Music)

The vast and glorious career of Midge Ure features time spent in such notable bands as Visage, Ultravox and Thin Lizzy. The artist is also known for being the co-writer / producer of the Do They Know It’s Christmas? single for the Band Aid charity project with Bob Geldof in 1984.  Midge Ure also has a distinguished solo career, with Move Me being his last effort of original material released in 2001. Clearly demonstrating that all wonderful things are worth waiting for, Fragile by Midge Ure is an opulent masterwork whose sheer artistry should endear even the most hardened of music critic.

midgeure2Fragile commences with the exhilarating sounds of I Survived, a song of hope and perseverance that is wondrous to behold. Are We Connected then reverberates throughout your speakers like an exquisite dream. Let It Rise takes off into the stratosphere with its hypnotic passages – co-written by Christopher von Deylen from the electronica outfit Schiller.

The pulsating beats and vibrant vocals envelope the inspiring Become, a track that could be played all over the more adventurous radio airwaves. Star Crossed is a stunning composition, featuring breathtaking vocals rendering this poignant selection an absolute standout. Wire and Wood is a pensive instrumental showing Midge Ure at the very height of his creativity.

The onset of the haunting Dark, Dark Night then emerges, featuring the keyboards and programming of none other than special guest Moby. For All We Know conveys an explosive amount of emotions all within the realm of an ominous soundscape. Bridges is a second instrumental cut weaving an intriguing spell throughout. And then closing out the album is the tremendous title track Fragile, featuring Midge Ure’s heartfelt vocalist sweeping the listener towards a dazzling grand finale.

Fragile is a fragrant bouquet of goodness that should enrapture both ardent fans and those discovering the magic that is Midge Ure for the very first time.  Ten gorgeous tracks await all whom wish to endeavor upon the auditory journey, and it’s surely one that listeners will want to revisit time and again.

(Review by Ken Morton)

Midge Ure Official Homepage
Midge Ure on Facebook

Share

Twilightfall

energyofcover1The Energy of Soul by Twilightfall (Svarga Music)

Twilightfall is a melodic death metal collective based out of the Ukraine, featuring a former member of the notorious Nokturnal Mortum within their ranks. Guitarist / vocalist Wortherax played lead guitar on Nokturnal Mortum’s legendary Lunar Poetry and Twilightfall releases and has made appearances in noted Ukrainian bands such as Munruthel and Khors.  Fans of old school In Flames and Children Of Bodom will be thoroughly enraptured by the dynamic compositions Twlightfall has to bestow to the world. The Energy of Soul is the triumphant debut for Twilightfall – a stunning collection of songs that will envelope your senses with it’s heavy yet majestic reprieves.

The magnum opus rages into supersonic gear with the staggering title cut The Energy of Soul, demonstrating at once the supreme musicianship to found within the Twilightfall experience. Spirits of Ancestors is spiraling and mystical, weaving intrigue throughout the powerful European death metal soundscapes. A Mirror of Dreams and Reality continues the spellbinding odyssey followed by the epic sonic declarations to be discovered within Welcome To New Day.

twilightfallphoto1Your Chance will make the listener want to wave their fists in the air and jump into the nearest mosh pit. Go A Long Way To Each will haunt the senses with its gorgeous serenity merging into a sweeping wall of intensive sound. The grand finale then commences with the magnificent Storm leaving a lasting impression upon all heavy metal adventurers.

The musicians who present the Twilightfall manifesto include the aforementioned Wortherax on guitars and vocals, Aywar on guitars, Odalv on drums, and Freyr on bass. Svarga Music may also be counted upon to present the very best in extreme metal from the Ukraine, and with The Energy of Sound by Twilightfall, the label has issued a genre classic that many will wish to revisit throughout the grand and glorious metal ages ahead.

(Review by Ken Morton)

Twilightfall on Facebook

Share

Zgard

contemplation1Contemplation by Zgard (Svarga Music)

There’s black metal, there’s Pagan metal, there’s epic metal – and then there’s the grand and majestic tapestries of the mighty Zgard -combining the three influences, coming up with a masterwork that is absolutely stunning to behold.  Contemplation is the fourth magnum opus presented by Zgard from the mystical and troubled Ukraine, seven absolutely visionary tracks that will set your imagination in flight. Yaromisl is the mastermind behind Zgard, and the compositions he has bestowed upon the world at large present a thrilling auditory odyssey that you’ll want to revisit time and again.

After the freezing winds and haunting chants prepare you for the sonic perils ahead, Contemplation opens with the gigantic refrains of Highlands, enrapturing the listener with its sheer magnificence and vibrancy. It is then time to ring the Underworld Bells, a sweeping track that will transport you to the darkest of places with its absolutely cinematic refrains.

zgard2014_1The title track Contemplation is then unveiled, a staggering epic where spoken word and intensive vocals are mixed with a mesmerizing wall of sound. Wedge Of Cranes soars into the stratosphere with its captivating sense of intrigue, complete with thunderous guitars and assorted exotic instruments.

An ominous reprieve is then found within Silence, an instrumental piece demonstrating an ambient side to the Zgard experience. Incarnation Memory then places the metal into overdrive, where bombastic choirs, impassioned vocals, and even more folk instruments render this track a celebrated standout. And then closing out the spellbinding journey is Through The Forest, commanding and ambitious in scope, showing a true artist at the very height of his creative prowess.

One of the most exciting entities within the Ukrainian metal scene and beyond, Zgard is sure to fascinate music aficionados all across the world with the splendid Contemplation. An underground classic of epic proportions, Contemplation is sure to wind up on more than a few Top Ten lists when 2014 spins to its conclusion, It will be exciting to see what adventures Yaromisl and Zgard has in store for us all next…

(Review by Ken Morton)

Zgard on Facebook

Share

ACCU§ER

Who Dominates Who? 2014 cover art

Who Dominates Who? 2014 cover art

Who Dominates Who? (2014 version) by ACCU§ER (Red Shift Records)

The triumphant comeback for the mighty thrash metal collective ACCU§ER continues to rage on with an all-out vengeance. And now, we look to the days of the past – 25 years ago to be exact – the underground classic Who Dominates Who? was originally unleashed in 1989 – and remains highly regarded as crucial thrash metal. In modern day 2014, the German ACCU§ER has chosen to re-issue Who Dominates Who? on this significant anniversary – and not only did they remix the original recording – but they revisited each of the songs, presenting all new versions that are wondrous to behold. So we have both editions of Who Dominates Who? in one single package – rendering this one absolutely required listening for all thrash metal connoisseurs looking for a collectable they’ll want to replay time and again.

Who Dominates Who? 1989 cover art

Who Dominates Who? 1989 cover art

Two of ACCU§ER’s very best are featured on this special release – the relentless Master Of Disaster and the scathing Who Pulls The Wire? remain two of the most compelling tunes the genre has to offer, and in a remarkable contrast, both versions dazzle the senses with their vibrant intensity. Another grand standout is the driving Bastard, heading straight at the listener causing a sonic version of blunt force trauma. Comparing all 9 tracks both old and new is pretty exciting, resulting in an exhilarating auditory experience that is not to be missed!

accuser1The combustible new version of Who Dominates Who? has been newly recorded by the current line-up with producer Martin Buchwalter (Destruction, Suidakra, Perzonal War) at the helm. This is the chance for fans to get the songs with Frank Thoms on vocals, who was the guitarist on the original album. Included in the release is the old as well as new artwork, rendering this double CD a must have for thrash metal fans all across the world. Be sure to check into this, and the many other ACCU§ER releases, and get ready to bang your head into the realms of oblivion and beyond.

The 21 Century ACCU§ER assault force consists of Frank Thoms on vocals and guitar, Dennis Rybakowski on guitar, Frank Kimpelon bass, and Oliver Fechner on drums. Here’s hoping the mighty ACCU§ER make their way to their States one day!

(Review by Ken Morton)

ACCU§ER on Facebook

Share

Fallujah

fallujahcd2The Flesh Prevails by Fallujah (Unique Leader Records)

An absolutely staggering work of magnificent artistry and sheer ambition, The Flesh Prevails by Fallujah unleashes death metal at its most devastating. Atmospheric and enigmatic, The Flesh Prevails is an all-out epic – a grand assault to the senses that will leave the serious music aficionado wanting to experience a whole lot more. The follow-up to their well-received debut Harvest Wounds, The Flesh Prevails is a blistering triumph that should place Fallujah firmly within the ranks of the metal elite. The controlled instrumental chaos and scathing vocal attack are wondrous to behold, sending all nine of the tracks soaring into the stratosphere.

fallujah2014_2The fantastic journey commences with the dazzling Starlit Path, where an ominous overture explodes into a tirade of progressive madness and intrigue. Carved From Stone then slams through your psyche with its ferocious reprieves and unforgiving atmospherics. The Night Reveals is spiraling and technical, with searing vocals and superb musicianship from all sonic Fallujah travelers.

Title track The Flesh Prevails is mostly instrumental, derived from the most threatening of dreams, followed by the relentless pummeling of the mesmerizing Levitation. Alone With You serves as a diabolically sensual overture to the gorgeously lethal soundscapes of Allure. And then the final compositions Sapphire and Chemical Cave demonstrate a band at the very height of their creative prowess – a thunderous one-two punch of massive proportions that is nothing short of astounding.

Based out of the wildly diverse San Francisco music scene, the sonic jihad known as Fallujah consists of Alex Hofmann on vocals, Scott Carstairs on guitars, Brian James on guitars, Robert Morey on bass, and Andrew Baird on drums. Currently on the Summer Slaughter Tour supporting none other than Morbid Angel and Dying Fetus, Fallujah is destined to leave their mark on metalheads all across the country, and are imaginative enough to appeal to an even wider audience.   An exciting collective we are sure to hear a lot more in the months ahead, Fallujah and their compelling symphonies of the extreme are not to be missed!

(Review by Ken Morton)

Fallujah on Facebook

Share

War Of Ages

surpremechaos2Supreme Chaos by War Of Ages (Facedown Records)

It’s been ten years since their Independent debut Unite Us All was presented upon the world at large, and since that time, War Of Ages has certainly made a name for themselves within the Christian metal market and beyond. Their Self-Titled album was released on Strike First Records in 2005 – shortly thereafter, they graduated to Facedown, and together, band and label has left an indelible impression upon the music world. Supreme Chaos is the sixth magnum opus for War Of Ages, and is destined to be known as a defining moment in their already impressive discography. Featuring powerful lyrical content and vibrant anthem-like melodies that will make you want to shake your fists triumphantly in the air, Supreme Chaos showsWar Of Ages in their finest hour. Expect this one to break it on out in a celebrated way, especially if the ten songs contained within are indicative of the sweeping glories ahead.

warofages2014“I will stand by your side” is the opening proclamation of From Ashes, the inspiring first cut from Supreme Chaos – this track alone will make the listener want to take on the world while singing along to its striking reprieves. “We are the face of a generation broken” then cries out Lost In Apathy, whose potent lyrics and dynamic choruses render this one a standout. Doomsday shows a sweeping diversity that is sure to thrill listeners – an ambitious, melodic songs that soars deep into your senses.

Chaos Theory furthers the War Of Ages journey into the darkness of the human psyche, followed by the massively potent strains of the wondrous Lionheart. On Broken Wings absolutely ascends with its spiraling soundscapes and impassioned vocals, followed by the infinitely moving Amber Alert.

Renegade possesses towering guitar interludes that will dazzle the ears. “I gave her everything, swallowed in hate that I created,” is the stark confession to be found within Ecstacy. And then closing out Supreme Chaos is Still Small Voice, a thrashing testament to faith and conviction mixing in the very best of the old and new school War Of Ages.

Powerhouse performance are delivered tenfold from the metal brigade known as War Of Ages – amongst the ranking members are Leroy Hamp on vocals, Steve Brown on guitar, Jack Daniels on guitar, Elisha Mullins on bass, and Alex Hamp on drums. The visionary Supreme Chaos was recorded with Josh Barber at Covenant Studios (Norma Jean, EISM) and mixed by Will Putney (Impending Doom, For Today). Supreme Chaos is a landmark work that should reverberate through the hearts and minds of all metal connoisseurs looking for an inspirational adventure in sound.  Featuring the stellar artwork of the one and only Dave Quiggle.

(Review by Ken Morton)

War Of Ages on Facebook

Share

Crown The Empire

riserun1The Resistance: Rise of the Runaways by Crown The Empire (Rise Records)

In 2012, a little band by the name of Crown The Empire emerged from the depths of Texas. Releasing a widely successful debut album called The Fallout, they instantly toured the world supporting many large acts such as The Used, Motionless In White and Of Mice & Men as well as headlining the Ernie Ball Stage on Warped Tour 2013. Two years later they are back and stronger than ever with their sophomore release The Resistance: Rise of the Runaways.

cttewarpd1With thirteen tracks in length, this record will define what the 6-piece metalcore band is going to be in the future. From the sound of just the first two songs, it is obvious that The Resistance: Rise of the Runaways is going to take Crown The Empire directly to the top. As soon as the first song Call To Arms (Act I) starts you are instantly thrown into the intensity. Almost as if it picks up right where The Fallout leaves off. Track number 2 immediately dives into the extremely heavy, Initiation which features a style of vocals that is new to Crown The Empire and rest assured, it works very well for them. Initiation is also one of the two brand new songs they are playing at Warped Tour this summer. The second of the two is MNSTR, which is classic CTE to the very core. With heavy riffs and melodic choruses MNSTR will without a doubt be a hit.

Dual Vocalists Andy Leo and David Escamilla add uniqueness to the record that defines who they are in every way. These two together, portray the light and dark side of all thirteen songs with extreme success. The ripping guitar riffs and solos by Brandon Hoover and Bennett Vogelman bounce of one another in perfect unison. In the Rhythm section of the band on bass is Hayden Tree and Brent Taddie on Drums. Each of them bring up the low end of the band to form a sound that is heavy and rhythmic which makes them completely unstoppable.

Crown The Empire has been known to have a theatrical/end of the world feel to their music. In the first few songs you will feel entranced by the music and instantly connect to it. With the apocalyptic feel to it, the intensity almost never subsides. Also featured as the last song on the album is the third piece of the story of Johnny. Johnny’s Rebellion travels all the way back to the Limitless days and it will not disappoint. This band is truly something special and is much different than the norm. Split up into three acts, the album delivers something truly unique that will put Crown The Empire on the map for a long time.

(Review and Live Photo by Edward Brandon – Visit www.edwardbrandonphoto.zenfolio.com)

Crown The Empire on Facebook

Share