Mayhem / De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas

De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas

Mayhem is a Norwegian black metal band formed in 1984 in Oslo, regarded as one of the pioneers of the Norwegian black metal scene. Mayhem’s career has been highly controversial, primarily due to their violent stage performances, the 1991 suicide of vocalist Per Yngve Ohlin (“Dead”) and the 1993 murder of guitarist Øystein Aarseth (“Euronymous”) by former member Varg Vikernes(“Count Grishnackh”), of Burzum.

The group released a demo and an EP that were highly influential, and amassed a loyal following through sporadic and notorious live performances, attracting further attention through their ties to the string of Norwegian church burnings and the prominent incidents of violence surrounding them. They disbanded after Aarseth’s murder, shortly before the release of their debut album, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, regarded as a classic of the black metal genre. Surviving former members Jan Axel Blomberg (“Hellhammer”), Jørn Stubberud (“Necrobutcher”) and Sven Erik Kristiansen (“Maniac”) reformed two years later with Rune Eriksen (“Blasphemer”) replacing Aarseth. Attila Csihar and (Morten Iversen) Teloch have since replaced Kristiansen and Eriksen, respectively.

The band’s music strongly influenced the black metal genre and was instrumental in moving the global black metal scene away from the prevailing trend for speed metal. Their post-Aarseth material is characterised by increased experimentation. The 2007 album, Ordo Ad Chao, received the Spellemannprisen award for best metal Album.

De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is the first full-length studio album by the Norwegian black metal band Mayhem. Songwriting began in 1987, but due to the suicide of vocalist Per “Dead” Ohlin and the murder of guitarist Øystein “Euronymous” Aarseth, the album’s release was delayed until May 1994. De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is widely considered one of the most influential black metal albums of all time.

The Analysis—-

Funeral Fog—-Right out of the gate, let me assure you…if you are looking for shiny Black Metal with great production quality…this is NOT the release for you. This track…kicking off this landmark release…is a barrage of noise…darkness and deep muted sounds that come at you from all directions. This started the whole Norwegian scene and it still stands the test of time. There are some breaks in the music…the vocal is an evil cacophony of grunts, growls and incantations. This is incredible.Every note produced is evil!

Freezing Moon—-Sounding a bit less muted at the onset, there is a distinct melody line produced by Varg’s guitar. The song has a flow that differs a bit from the previous track…with a body of sound that is brighter and less noisy. There are downshifts in the bass delivery that keeps everything dark, and the drums are very present. When the guitar really hits high gear, the drums match the speed and you almost groove with the song. The vocal is eerily dark and full of venom…adding to the mystery of the band…almost making you think maybe you should not be listening to this….stellar! The song has actual musical movements….not just a wall of constant noise….this takes talent.The vocal at mid point clears up a bit….almost becoming clean and understandable….a journey in 6 minutes!

Cursed In Eternity—-Seeming to meld from the previous track, the first thing I notice about this track are the incredible drums….they seem to lead the entire pace of the song. The vocal is so much better to me on this song….sounding a bit clearer and even more evil. The heavy bass line keeps the evil elements very intact…and you somehow realize…with all of the controversy surrounding this band….that they too all of this shit very seriously. The intermittent high hats on the drums along with the cymbals are an incredible touch…the vocal just pure puke of fear and darkness. Fuckin’ brilliant.

Pagan Fears—-With a really nice rhythm line kicking off this track, you again find a certain groove to this track. The drums as usual lead the pace of the song….and I keep asking myself how the bass guitar can produce this much dark sound. The speed and delivery of this song is interrupted by a blistering lead ‘brighter’ guitar for a moment before you step back into hell. The vocal…..moved to the back of the mix and with a slight echo sounds mystic and scary. This is a chore sometimes to listen to….but it is worth every redundant note.

Life Eternal—-Much noisier and darker than the previous song, let’s talk about a wall of sound!!!! The Varg guitar plays and brightens things up a bit and gives the song an undeniable tempo that has not been in the last few compositions. The voice is a bit to muted for me…but that only adds to the evil flair of the whole damn thing. This remains one of my favorite tracks on this release…it has moods and movements and a less dark feel. And some actual singing…..lol

From The Dark Past—-Again, offering up a rhythmic groove to the song that moves more from noise into musicianship. The drums break and crash….break and crash….but the heavy foot pedal all the while smashing your forehead. This is static noise….dark and enigmatic…but with slight bright edges to the whole affair. The vocal enters and welcomes you to hell and fear…but the rhythm of the song never leaves….this is stellar!!! The musical ‘break’ at the 3 minute mark….takes you on a complete journey.

Buried By Time And Dust—-The shortest song on this release…at just 3 minutes is as you would expect….a frenzy of drums…guitars and hurried vocals that makes me think of early Venom. This is actually a pretty damn good song…the intensity never stops for a minute….and the drums…damn….they seem in-human. This will leave you on the floor in a heap of exhaustion!

De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas—-With a much crisper and brighter tone to the music, the vocal begins right at the onset of the song. The cymbals crash and gives the song a lighter tone…but the heavy never ceasing bass line keeps everything in check and slightly evil. The voice is incredible….some odd incantation singing adds to the scariness of the track….and the fog almost comes right out of the headphones to envelope you. This is a journey all of its own…..leaving an incredible taste in your mouth….at the time I was like…..what the fuck is this…..I still wonder sometimes.

****1/2 out of 5

 

Dead Or Alive / That’s The Way I Like It: The Best Of Dead Or Alive

That's The Way I Like It: The Best Of Dead Or Alive

Dead or Alive were an English pop band, formed in 1980 in Liverpool. The band found success in the 1980s and had seven Top 40 UK singles and three Top 30 UK albums. They were the first band to have a number one single under the production team of Stock Aitken Waterman. Dead or Alive, which at the peak of success featured a lineup consisting of Pete Burns (vocals), Mike Percy (bass), Steve Coy (drums) and Tim Lever (keyboards), have released seven studio albums and five compilation albums, and became popular in Japan.

Two of the band’s singles reached the U.S. Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100; “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” No. 11 in 1985, and “Brand New Lover” No. 15 in 1986. “You Spin Me Round” peaked at number one in 1985 in the UK, then charted again in 2003 and 2006 following Burns’ controversial appearance on the television reality show Celebrity Big Brother. The latter also became the first of two singles to top the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart.

The Analysis—-

You Spin Me Round [Like A Record]—-Steeped in the synth heavy sound of the 80’s dance floor, the thing most memorable for me about this song is Pete Burns himself. One never would expect the deep baritone and wonderful vibrato that comes from his voice box. This was a worldwide smash….played too often it grates on me now…..but you can never question the incredible power of that voice.

That’s The Way [I Like It]—-Taking an incredible chance at covering this K.C & The Sunshine Band track, the band and Burns hit this out of the ball park. By adding trademark sounds…the synth line, but keeping the integrity of the song intact, it allowed legion of fans to fall in love with this song all over again. Again….that voice is just incredible….and the track moves at a great pace.

Lover Come Back [To Me]—-Almost seeming to borrow a Moroder synth line, the song picks up speed as it goes along. Burns adds real live instruments to his songs…giving every track a much larger sound. The chorus is a huge affair with a melody that will settle in the front of your brain and live there for days on end. Pete delivers line after line of sentiments that we have all wanted to mutter to one who has left…this is classic 80’s synth pop that still plays incredibly well today.

In Too Deep—-A bit slower and steeped in the emerging piano based dance hits of the later 80’s, Burns delivers his idea of a love song I suppose. This has always been a favorite of mine…simply because of the double entendres of the message. This is more mellow…with female backing vocals and a big sound. Classic

My Heart Goes Bang [Get Me To The Doctor]—-Returning to full throttle synth speed, Burns and Co. delivers a wonderful track with a melody line that is fuckin contagious and irresistible. When Burns bellows  ‘Get Me To The Dr.’ with that baritone you appreciate his vocal talent as well as his image.I saw him sing this song hanging upside down on the edge of the stage and it was still as powerful and well delivered as it is her on CD. This is fantastic…one of the best Dead Or Alive songs in the vast catalog.

Brand New Lover [Edit]—-Another track that was overplayed….as if it was the only of two songs that deserved airplay. This is much in the same vein as ‘Record’….except I think the melody line is even more contagious. The galloping synth line…pushed to the very backbone of the mix allows the song to travel at an incredible speed. This is exceptional.

Something In My House [7″ Mix]—-With a nice Goth intro, the synth opens up to a static vocal from Burns that moves just as fast as he tap tap tap of the synth line. This song is incredibly fast…but Burns never lags not loses voice throughout the entire thing. There are actual great guitars on this track that shine through…this is fantastic…Burns delivering line after line of tongue in cheek lyrics. Fantastic!

Hooked On Love [La Vie En Rose Mix]—-With a fuller sound garnered by guitars and back ground singers, the standout as usual is the deep delivery from Burns. When he enters the chorus, the voice is so strong and rich it just sucks you in. Of course, the jaunty synth line is here…but the real instruments stand out as well…creating a landscape all of its own. This was a talented man that went far beyond image.

I’ll Save You All My Kisses [Remixed]—-The remix version here of this track is so much better than the original on the record. This has a bigger sound and feel…..although the vocal is almost hidden by the big crashing bass beat. The chorus is a quagmire of vocals that takes away from Burns….and that is the weak point of this track…just way too much going on at one time. Still a great song.

Turn Around And Count 2 Ten—-You know from the onset that this is a later recording from the band. The synth is still present but the sound is more musical and updated…without the huge galloping synth line not appearing until the chorus. This is a very tongue in cheek song that allows me a grin or two…but again…the melody line is just so contagious. Remarkable.

Come Home With Me Baby—-With a nice high synth line and crashes around your head, the style of the song is predictable but has a surprising Erasure style synth piano line that creates the backdrop of the song. Burns is overtly sexual [surprise] but the meaning of the song could go anywhere….depending on your state of mind. This is jaunty and fun….dance ready but not as fast as the earlier 80’s tracks.And an actual guitar solo!!!!

Misty Circles [7″ Version]—-I’m not sure about anyone else, but my actual 45 of You Spin Mr Round has this song as the flip side…how great is that? This has a very dark and goth feel to it….allowing Burns his deep vocal to really shine through. He can sing like you can’t believe…..this is vibrato at it’s finest….with a dark and eerie feel to it.

What I Want [Original 7″ Version]—-This is a song I am not to familiar with…the synth line reminding me of New Order. The pace of the song is brilliant…travelling along fast as light. The vocal is way to the back of the mix….and even the gang style chorus seems removed from the music…still a pretty fantastic song.

I’d Do Anything—-Right from the opening strains of this track, it never gelled with me too well. This takes away from the hook heavy tracks Burns was always capable of and infused all of these other voices that were not needed….ugh!

Lover Come Back To Me [Extended Mix]—-This is obviously built for DJ’s from the ground up…the intro slow to emerge with lots of breaks that allow for flow back and forth between versions. The song really kicks in and becomes itself after the first minute or so…but the vocal delivery is more airy and full of echoes and bass heavy beats. This is a huge mix…I love this version….really great.

My Heart Goes Bang [American ‘Wipe Out’ Mix]—-This is huge…..the bombastic bass beat almost blows the top of my head off at the onset. The synth lines that define the melody sweep under the bass beat though and the guitar plays over the top of it all making this entire thing a grand affair. This is superb…so much larger and more defined than the original. But you never lose that great vocal despite everything going on.

Something In My House [Mortevicar Mix]—-Jaunty and with more effects than the original, the voice is pushed to the back of the dance ready beats a bit….so many special effects going on at the same time. But the pace of the remix is still the same…travelling fast and never losing energy. The remixed synth is so friendly…I am in love all over again. This is a must have if you are a fan.

You Spin Me Round [Like A Record] [Murder Mix]—-Clocking in at 8 minutes, this just might be too much of a good thing…..this mix does not offer much new in the vein of a song that has been remixed hundreds of times…just more instrumental elements and effects that get old after the first few minutes. A nice 12″ though.

**** out of 5

New Order / Movement

Movement

New Order are an English rock band formed in 1980, currently comprising Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris, Gillian Gilbert, Phil Cunningham and Tom Chapman. The band was formed in 1980 by Sumner (vocals, guitars, keyboards and synthesisers), Morris (drums, electronic drums, keyboards and synthesisers) and Peter Hook (bass, backing vocals, keyboards and electronic drums), who were the remaining members of post-punk group Joy Division following the suicide of vocalist Ian Curtis – with the addition of Gilbert (keyboards, synthesisers and guitars).

By combining post-punk with an increasing influence from electronic dance music, New Order became one of the most critically acclaimed and influential bands of the 1980s.[2] Though the band’s early years were shadowed by the legacy and basic sound of Joy Division, their experience of the early 1980s New York City club scene increased their knowledge of dance music and helped them incorporate elements of that style into their work. The band’s 1983 hit “Blue Monday“, the best-selling 12-inch single of all time, is one example of how their sound became increasingly uptempo and electronic.[3]

New Order were the flagship band for Manchester-based independent record label Factory Records. Their unlabelled album sleeves and “non-image” (the band rarely gave interviews and were known for performing short concert sets with no encores) reflected the label’s aesthetic of doing whatever the relevant parties wanted to do, including an aversion to including singles as album tracks until 1984. Because of the band’s dance-rock genre it has a complex discography, with many well-known songs not featured on studio albums or released in a variety of mixes. Throughout their career, the band’s records were carefully art-directed by Mancunian designer Peter Saville.

The group disbanded in 1993 to work on individual projects, and reunited in 1998. In 2001, Cunningham (guitars, keyboards and synthesisers) replaced Gilbert, who took a sabbatical from the band because of family commitments. In 2007, Hook left the band over personal conflicts.[4] After Hook’s departure, Sumner, Cunningham, and Morris worked on Bad Lieutenant and the band reunited in 2011 without Hook, with Gilbert returning and Chapman replacing Hook on bass.[5] During the band’s career and in between lengthy breaks, band members have been involved in several solo projects, such as Sumner’s Electronic and Bad Lieutenant; Hook’s Monaco and Revenge and Gilbert and Morris’ The Other Two. Cunningham was previously a member of Marion and with Sumner, and Chapman was a member of Bad Lieutenant.

In September 2015, the band released their tenth studio album, Music Complete.

Movement is the debut studio album by the English rock band New Order, released in November 1981 on Factory Records. At the time of its release, the album was not particularly well received by critics or consumers, only peaking at number thirty on the UK Albums Chart. Subsequent critical reception for Movement have been very positive.

In 2008 the album was re-released in a Collector’s Edition with a bonus disc.

Slant Magazine listed the album at No. 42 on its list of “Best Albums of the 1980s” saying “Movement exists almost exactly in between Joy Division’s post-punk sound and the synth-pop style that would come to define New Order and influence pop music for decades”.

In 2015, after the release of their tenth album, Music Complete, the album was remastered and released in the US iTunes Store.

The Analysis—-

Dreams Never End—-At the onset of the track you can definitely hear the Joy Division overtones left over with the band. The synth is present but not as overt as in later material from the band. The ever present Hook bass is hear as well. Summer delivers a vocal very similar to Ian Curtis as he tries to find his way. This is a monumental track….a shape of the things to come. For me, still one of the best tracks the band has produced.

Truth—-Moving the synths in at the very onset of the track, the bass line gives the song a very dark feel. The Arabic type swirl of the song gives it a mystic and dis-embodied feel. Bernard delivers a vocal that is less than perfect…making it even more charming….he sings in that lower tone as he tries to mimic Curtis and find his own style. This is dark and haunting. Strange days indeed…..

Senses—-A bit more spirited with a jaunty synth line, the bass line still creates a dark landscape to the song. Despite the bass line, the jaunty synth gives us glimpses of the shape of things to come. Bernard manages a higher vocal that sounds more natural and relaxed and the sound effects that echo through the song make it friendlier to the ear. This is a nice cut between post-punk and the emerging synth heavy 80’s.

Chosen Time—-Removing the overt bass line makes for a much brighter track here….the sound seems clearer and less bogged down. The vocal is so distant in the mix though…pushed way behind the brighter synth line making it almost impossible to hear. This is not a bad track….brighter and more lively…but the production quality is lacking.

ICB—-Of course, the beginning of the track ushers back in the bass line we have become so familiar with. The synths and slight blips and beeps create an interesting landscape. The vocal sounds strained and uncomfortable as Summer still struggles to find his way, but I must say the production is much better. The music still seems at the very front of the mix…but you can still catch the lyrics….this is a great under-rated track.

The Him—-Deep and intense, copying musical lines from Dreams Never End, this is almost like part II of that song. The swirls give slight glimpses of light, but the bass line and tribal drums create a fairly dark atmosphere. Again, the vocal is almost muted and pushed to the back of the mix. The track moves so slow until the mid point when it erupts in a mass of speed that moves it to greater heights, slowing again at a moments notice. This is a schizophrenic song of movements and moods.

Doubts Even Here—-Wisps of brightness and swirls of atmosphere kick off this track, but the deep muted sound envelopes the mood rather quickly. The vocal moves at a snails pace as the bass line takes center stage and drags the song down into depths of despair. I know the band was struggling at this point…but the whole affair is rather depressing to me. This is not horrible…but it is a chore to get through.

Denial—-Ending the release with a brighter feel at the onset, you can actually hear the crisp guitar line over the usual bass heavy intro. Of course the voice is a bit removed, but the feel of the song is happier. The lyrics are not necessarily so…but the crisper tone of the song gives us fore-sight into what the band would sound like in the future.

***1/2 out of 5

 

Aaron Lewis / Sinner

Sinner

Aaron Lewis (born April 13, 1972) is an American musician and songwriter, who is the lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist, and founding member of the rock group Staind, with whom he has released seven studio albums. He has since ventured into country music with his debut solo EP Town Line, which was released on March 1, 2011 on Stroudavarious Records. Lewis’ first full-length solo release, The Road, was released by Blaster Records on November 13, 2012.

Sinner is the second solo studio album by Aaron Lewis from the American rock band Staind. It was released in September 16, 2016, through Dot Records, and produced by Buddy Cannon. The first single, “That Ain’t Country”, was released on June 17, 2016, which coincided with the album announcement.To support the album, Lewis is doing a series of concerts titled “The Sinner Tour”.

The Analysis—-

Sinner [w/ Willie Nelson]—-Hearing this release by Lewis made me wonder why he had not started singing and performing Country music a very long time ago. The music is everything you would expect…full of shit kicking riffs and slide guitars. The vocal is magnificent….delivering a down home style that is full of the current sound of Country music…this is brilliant. Willie sounds a bit weak voiced on this track…but maybe he was added to establish credibility. This is great.

That Ain’t Country —-With a laid back swagger to the music, this is classic Country right here. Lewis delivers a higher vocal that fits the music to a tee. This is like stepping back in time and listening to the old songs. The swagger is incredible and the fact that he can turn around and sing with Staind is beyond me…this is brilliant.

Whiskey And You—-Beginning with a lonely guitar and a slight twang to the whole affair, Lewis enters with his vocal and sounds like he stepped straight put of the classic sounds of the 70’s. The drawn out words and the slight twang to the words are magnificent. Lewis tells classic tales of lost love and liquor…this is phenomenal. A true Country singer right here. The female vocal that joins on the chorus fills everything out….this is wonderful!

Northern Redneck—-Returning to a more raucous and ‘new Country’ sound, Lewis sounds more like Toby Keith when he delivers this track. It makes me long for those old fashioned deep Virginia days. But I guess the message is that the Country is alive and well in the North…indeed with music like this…it is. This is fantastic.

Mama—-With the twang of lonely guitars and the slide adding fuel to the lonely fire Lewis delivers yet another stellar delivery. The phrasing and the deep octaves that occur on certain words help with the classic Country feel. This is a sad intense track that is full of wonderful memories and reminds you of the old records your parents used to play. I am truly amazed.The chorus is the best part of this song…..I listen to this over and over….

Sunday Every Saturday Night—-This track is fun…it has the classic elements of a brilliant Country song….the sway of the music…the twang of the guitar and the lyrics of too much drinkin’ and livin hard. This is workin; man’s country. When Lewis drops his voice to a deep baritone..it reminds me of Randy Travis….this is brilliant. Bars….jukeboxes…whiskey and women….who needs more?

Lost And Lonely—-Recorded in the same vein as the previous track, this is a nice fall back on the classic sound that appeals to me the most when it comes to Country music. This is brilliant….workin man’s Country that makes you appreciate Country living and had work and the loss of love. This has a whole story in a few minutes…one of the remarkable things about country music. You seem to live a whole life in just a few minutes…this is brilliant.

Story Of My Life—-A bit more jaunty and full of life, this still has the feel that leads the entire release. Lewis has that remarkable ability to drop his vocal just on certain words that adds to the feel and genuine sound There is nothing rock n’ roll about this release…this is pure Country…perhaps he is the next cross over star…watch out Darius Rucker…..Aaron is closing in.

Stuck In These Shoes—-Classic slide guitar twangs and laid back vocals that almost whine for attention bring this track to life. This is wonderful…the instruments seem more to the front of the song…allowing it an even more Nashville sound. Lewis delivers line after line of sadness and despair…but the music takes you somewhere remarkable. Really Nice!!!

I Lost It All—-The music is not as sad and forlorn as you would expect from the title of this song. This is classic though…Lewis delivers a tale of despair…loss and sadness but an underlying triumph is present through the jaunty guitar. This is wonderfully constructed….Lewis sings in a higher tone that sounds nothing like himself…this entire release has been a surprise to me.

Travellin’ Soldier—-This is confusing to me….this is not Aaron Lewis…nor does he appear on this song. Just some random lady singing a sad song about a Veteran…perhaps he is trying to give her a break…but this is odd on this release.

**** out of 5

 

 

Leonard Cohen / You Want It Darker

You Want It Darker

Leonard Norman Cohen, CC GOQ (21 September 1934 – 7 November 2016) was a Canadian singer, songwriter, poet and novelist. His work explored religion, politics, isolation, sexuality, and personal relationships.[3] Cohen was inducted into both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame as well as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was a Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation’s highest civilian honour. In 2011, Cohen received one of the Prince of Asturias Awards for literature and the ninth Glenn Gould Prize.

The critic Bruce Eder assessed Cohen’s overall career in popular music by asserting that “[he is] one of the most fascinating and enigmatic … singer/songwriters of the late ’60s … [and] has retained an audience across four decades of music-making…. Second only to Bob Dylan (and perhaps Paul Simon) [in terms of influence], he commands the attention of critics and younger musicians more firmly than any other musical figure from the 1960s who is still working at the outset of the 21st century.”[4]

The Academy of American Poets has commented more broadly on Cohen’s overall career in the arts, including his work as a poet, novelist, and songwriter, stating that “Cohen’s successful blending of poetry, fiction, and music is made most clear in Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs, published in 1993, which gathered more than 200 of Cohen’s poems … several novel excerpts, and almost 60 song lyrics… while it may seem to some that Leonard Cohen departed from the literary in pursuit of the musical, his fans continue to embrace him as a Renaissance man who straddles the elusive artistic borderlines.”[5]

Cohen’s first album was Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967) followed by Songs from a Room (1969) (featuring the often-recorded “Bird on the Wire“) and Songs of Love and Hate (1971). His 1977 record Death of a Ladies’ Man was co-written and produced by Phil Spector, which was a move away from Cohen’s previous minimalist sound. In 1979 Cohen returned with the more traditional Recent Songs, which blended his acoustic style with jazz and Oriental and Mediterranean influences. “Hallelujah” was first released on Cohen’s studio album Various Positions in 1984. I’m Your Man in 1988 marked Cohen’s turn to synthesized productions and remains his most popular album. In 1992 Cohen released its follow-up, The Future, which had dark lyrics and references to political and social unrest.

Cohen returned to music in 2001 with the release of Ten New Songs, which was a major hit in Canada and Europe. His eleventh album, Dear Heather, followed in 2004. After a successful string of tours between 2008 and 2010, Cohen released three albums in the final four years of his life: Old Ideas (2012), Popular Problems (2014) and You Want It Darker (2016), the last of which was released three weeks before his death.

The Analysis—-

You Want It Darker—-There has always been a stark, dark and poetic beauty to Cohen’s  music…it seems even more so today. This track is minimal as you would expect….the chorus coming to life with added vocals. The music is no fanfare…instead allowing the voice to be the star of the show. When Cohen says “I’m ready Lord” you feel sad.

Treaty—-A lone piano greets your ears at the onset of the song…that is all you really need when the voice enters. Cohen sings/talks his way through what seems almost like a death conversation. The song is intense…sad and full of lyrics that can be construed in so many ways. This is a beautiful release. Amazing…Cohen sounds so pure and fresh three weeks out from his death. We have lost a master.So many religious references here…..fantastic.

On The Level—-A beautiful and gentle piano opens the track….joined by a lone un obtrusive guitar that allows the voice to shine. The mix seems to push the voice to the very front of the song…joined by wonderful female vocals which help to make the song larger. The lyrics are poetic beauty….this is stark and dark…but seems so full of life also,

Leaving The Table—-This track begins with a slight Country flair to it…the string guitar sounding sad and twangy. The voice is so lonely and tells of sadness and regret. This is incredibly beautiful and written with regret and woe. I feel a sadness from this release that I have not gotten from previous Cohen releases….this is incredible beautiful foresight.

If I Didn’t Have Your Love—-A beautiful Church like organ ushers in the track to accompany the voice. Again, the country elements seem to shine through as Cohen recites his regretful poetry over a beautiful soundtrack that leaves me sad and wanting so much more. This is brilliant.

Travelling Light—-Spanish style guitars and a lone violin usher in this track that is full of background voices…promising a much bigger sounding song. But once the vocal enters, the effects fall away and Cohen subtlety says goodbye and warns us of impending doom. This is incredibly sad….making me wonder what the sessions for this recording must have been like…there is so much foreshadowing and meanings to the words.

It Seemed The Better Way—-Sounding like chanting monks at the onset of the song, the sad violin enters and takes over the pace of the song…and then falls away as the vocal poetry begins. Leonard sounds so removed and alone as he talks his way through the lone and empty atmosphere of this song. Of course…references to death take on a new meaning…but you have to wonder what was going on. Leonard says “I better hold my tongue”……perhaps it was best we didn’t know.

Steer Your Way—-Musically brighter at the onset, again the music dies away to allow the spotlight to shine on the poetry, the words, the voice. The stark music has slight interruptions of jaunty fiddle and slight Country overtones…but always falls away to not drown out the voice. This is beautiful….joined by some classic female vocals towards the center of the song…it never takes away from the stark beauty of the song.

String Reprise/Treaty—-Regretfully ending this release with a beautiful string overture of the track Treaty, this is beautiful…with movements you can feel in the music…as if it lends it’s very voice to the beauty of the song. This is priceless….I wish I had paid more attention to this when I got it. Sometimes I accumulate music so quickly I never give it the time it deserves until I post my opinions on this blog…I’m glad circumstances led me to explore this release further….I will turn to it many times in the future…..A wonderful release!

***** out of 5

 

Serpentine Dominion / Serpentine Dominion

Serpentine Dominion

Serpentine Dominion is an American death metal supergroup consisting of Killswitch Engage guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz, Cannibal Corpse vocalist George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher and former The Black Dahlia Murder drummer Shannon Lucas. They released their debut album on October 28, 2016.

The Analysis—-

Intro—-This intro is a surprise…a nice gentle acoustic guitar greets your ears and you are puzzled…like….what the f^%k……the sound is gentle and melodic…..until 50 seconds into the track…then you wake the hell up! The melody is still there….but the intensity and the speed almost masks it. No vocals….just incredible fast and brutally beautiful music. Melding right into…..

The Vengeance In Me—-The familiar vocal smacks you right upside the head like a steam engine. The music and the vocal is much more accessible than Cannibal…..you can actually catch what George is saying….but that does not make it any less brutal and genuine. There is an actual chorus that is accompanied by the entire band…this is accessible brutality…..fuckin’ brilliant.

Vanquished Unto Thee—-The music seems a bit deeper on this track…the guitar squeals are incredible and the opening growl from George is from the depths of hell. At times Fischer sings at a higher tone rather than screams and there are some brilliant, brilliant, brilliant clean vocals on the chorus. The song soars at times with a fantastic guitar lead….but manages to sound brutal as hell thanks to the vocal from George and the pummeling bass line.

Divide, Conquer, Burn & Destroy—-Brutal right out of the gate, the vocal seems even deeper than ever imagined at the onset. The lines come at you fast and surprisingly understandable. The overlays from George are superb….deep and powerful overlay-ed with his higher range. They give the song more depth…the music is incredible….the drums much more present on this song as are the lead guitars. This release is a triumph.

Sovereign Hate —-The music comes at you beautifully constructed from the darkness….slowed down and with undeniable melody. The drums seem to build and build and you can feel goosebumps all over as the song gets bigger and bigger. The break allows the brutal bass line and the vocal to enter. The lyrics are fantastic…..with overlay-ed vocals again and the words coming at you blistering fast. The breaks in the song add variance and allow you to really appreciate all of this talent. The clean vocal on the chorus is just fantastic! This is a must have. Think Fear Factory!

On The Brink Of Devastation—-A full on assault and return to vocal and musical brutality, this begins the minute you hit play. There are outstanding drums on this track as well…..with the vocals really the star of this show. This is just magnificent….more added clean vocals keep this band and release fresh and from suffering from monotony. This is superb.

Jagged Cross Legions—-Drums and bass……drums and bass…..make for an intense freakin’ adventure. When you add in the evil growls….screams and belly gut from George and this is a standout track. The clean vocal is again present on the chorus giving the song a melody that makes it really accessible. This is fantastic.

Prelude—-Light with another gentle guitar intro that mirrors the beginning of the release, this shows so much diversity in the band. The fact they all got together is just amazing. This is damn beautiful guitar work…with a slight hum that runs through the underbelly of the song…giving it a mystical feel. I’m just amazed….one of the best things this year.

This Endless War—-Ending this release…..after just 26 minutes, this track, right from the onset, has an epic feel. The guitars are brighter and the drums layed to the back of the mix for the first 25 seconds or so…..the vocal enters and puts your brain in a different place. The vocal is brutal…..sounding evil and manic. The clean vocal on the chorus in such sharp contrast with George bellowing in over them. There is nice speaker play on this track….the song moves from headphone to headphone. Just extraordinary!

***** out of 5

 

Devo / Freedom Of Choice

Freedom Of Choice

Freedom of Choice is the third studio album by the American new wave band Devo. It was originally released in May 1980, on the labels Warner Bros., and Virgin. The album was recorded between October 1979 and early 1980, at the Record Plant, in Hollywood, California. “Freedom of Choice” saw the band moving in more of an overt synthpop direction, even though guitars still played a prominent role. The album was co-produced by Robert Margouleff, notable for his synthesizer work in Tonto’s Expanding Head Bandand with Stevie Wonder. It contained Devo’s biggest hit song, “Whip It.”

According to the band’s commentary on the The Complete Truth About De-Evolution DVD, the lyrics of “Whip It” began as a tongue-in-cheek anthem for then-president Jimmy Carter. The lyrics were also inspired by Norman Vincent Peale‘s 1952 book The Power of Positive Thinking and the “can do philosophy” espoused within. Devo co-songwriter and bass guitarist Gerald Casale also told Songfacts that the lyrics were written by him “as an imitation of Thomas Pynchon‘s parodies in his book Gravity’s Rainbow.”

“Mr. B’s Ballroom” is a lyric re-written version of an earlier relationship-focused song called “Luv & Such,” which can be heard on the Rhino Entertainment two-disc rarities collection Recombo DNA. The lyric of “That’s Pep!” is based on an early 20th-century poem by Grace G. Bostwick.

The Analysis—-

Girl U Want—-The rudimentary yet full synths that begin this release are as familiar as day….because they define the sound of Devo. The guitars are present but not in the forward of the mix…..the vocal is the defining element of Devo. The melody line that runs underneath of the song is just brilliant. The jaunty and mechanical nature of the music defined the times and opened up the band to a whole new audience. This is classic.

It’s Not Right—-Sounding as if cut from the same cloth as the previous track, the swirls and layers of synths are incredible. The silly yet relevant lyrics are in true Devo fashion. There is something for everyone on this track. When Mark actually sings his voice is damn pleasant. I love this release. The mechanical sound somehow seems so warm….remarkable.

Whip It—-Undeniably, the song that put Devo on the map of millions of households, this has never been a favorite track of mine. The video only served to lead the band to further stardom and made them an MTV staple.If anything really saves this song it is the play between the band members….nice to hear every now and again….this is not about S&M…lol

Snowball—-Beginning with staccato synth lines, the song opens up with a nice yet rudimentary synth melody that is contagious as hell. The vocal…pushed to the back of the mix a bit is double layered and sounds larger because of it. The underlying melody shows the true talent of this band….probably one of the best albums they ever released.

Ton O’ Luv—-Bombastic and larger than the previous track, this adds not only sincere lyrics, but combines it in a fun jaunty style. Again, underneath everything is an undeniable melody line that sticks in your brain. The higher tones of the intermittent synth organ breaks up the song a bit…but the bass line is the star here.

Freedom Of Choice—-Pretty appropriate song with everything going on in the United States these days huh? One of the centerpieces of this release, this has a silly musical edge to it…but a rather serious message despite the sometime cartoon lyrics. The message of the song just seems very timely at the moment.

Gates Of Steel—-Perhaps my favorite Devo song ever…..I love the music in the track but the vocal is even better. The live version of this track is almost better than the recorded version…the visuals are outstanding. The tone of the vocal….a bit higher than usual pounds throughout the song. The music has a downward escalation that last the whole track…like you are going deeper and deeper down yet you stay in the same place. This is a truly fantastic song!

Cold War—-This is a return to full of fun mode….with a jaunty synth line that is full of blips and effects. It is as if at times the synth line stops all together and then a few moments later picks right back up like magic. The vocal is deeper and mechanical….it just reminds you of good times back when this band was just emerging on my College campus and everyone was like…..COOL!!!

Don’t You Know—-Noisier and reminding me a bit more of the earlier experimental music the band made…it is the production that keeps everything light and bright. The voice is fun…the underlying tune of the song is very familiar…but I can’t quite place it.

That’s Pep!—-The guitar and escalating beat of the song hit you right away as the song begins. The stripped down feel of the song is nice after all the heavier synth lines in previous songs. This is much more instrument based….the bass line is fantastic. This is a lot of fun.

Mr. B’s Ballroom—-Returning to the synth line but adding in some actual guitar lines that are a bit fuzzy, again remind me of earlier Devo. The voice…once again seems pushed back from the music…making it sound even more mechanical and robotic. This is not a throwaway track…..just has never been a favorite….although the chorus is damn contagious.

Planet Earth—-Ending the release jaunty and fun but with a bit of nice guitar, the lyrical content makes me giggle. This band….so funny…but so serious at the same time. This is a great closer…leaving you with a good taste in your mouth. Fun and full of classic 80’s swirls.

**** out of 5