Queensryche / Condition Human

Condition Hüman

Condition Hüman is the fifteenth studio album by American progressive heavy metal band Queensrÿche. It was released on October 2, 2015 through Century Media. It is the second studio album recorded with vocalist Todd La Torre, after Geoff Tate was fired from the band and gave up the rights to the name after a two-year lawsuit regarding the rights to the Queensrÿche brand was amicably settled.

The album’s first single, “Arrow of Time,” became available for streaming on July 20, 2015, the day the album’s title and release date were announced. It was recorded in early 2015 at Uberbeatz Studios in Washington and produced by Chris “Zeuss” Harris.

The Analysis—-

Arrow Of Time—-Everything about this opening track including the vocal reeks of classic Queensryche. It is amazing how much Todd sounds like Geoff Tate. The song is catchy as hell…reminds me of the classic sound the band started to develop around the Rage For Order time. The vocal is extraordinary….the music this band is making is just not much in demand anymore…it is glad to see bands still trying to keep this sound alive. This is a fantastic start.

Guardian—-I like the speedier guitar on the opening of this track…the guitar is very reminiscent of stuff off of Operation: Mindcrime and Rage…with vocal effects added in the backdrop. The double track vocal gives a nice full sound…and make no doubt…this dude can scream with the best of them. This is really nice. This has such a ‘classic’ Queensryche sound to it.

Hellfire—-Delivering the requisite ‘Hair Metal’ ballad, the band stays true to the recipe that cemented so many metal bands in history. This is such classic in sound…you will think you stepped back in time and listened to a ‘lost’ Queensryche record. I’m not sure if this is purposeful or not. Scott must get a lot of Tate comparisons…you can’t deny it. Even the vocal phrasing is the same…none the less…it is nice to see the band still plugging along. Really not a ballad s it progresses.

Toxic Remedy—-A nice huge guitar intro…..a landscape of sound followed by the trademark drums. The vocal at the onset of the song is a bit weak for me and uninspired…I love the double tracking though. It makes the song so large. The music is really the star of the show on this track for me. The band sounds better than ever.

Selfish Lives—-From the onset, this is like stepping back in time and listening to a track that would fit perfectly on Mindcrime. I wonder if some of these tracks were actually leftovers….the sound is perfect and the lyrics seem to cover the same subject manner. Add the vocal style and you feel like you have discovered old gems from a time long ago.

Eye9—-Beginning with a seldom heard awesome bass line, the song is a bit convoluted at the onset…but the muddled feel clears up as it progresses. The sharp guitar blasts give me a sense of energy. The vocal and the lyrics are pure Progressive Metal…this is a great track…no wonder it was released as a single…perhaps the highlight of the release.

Bulletproof—-Intricate guitar kicks off the track….the classic ballad sounds in full effect here. The vocal literally soars on the chorus…making this a huge addictive song. the guitar delivery delivers emotion and the drums…understated but very present are key to the feel of the song. This guy can really sing!

Hourglass—-Powerful and with a huge wall of sound from the very first note, the music dies away a bit to allow for the vocal. Again, the double track voice gives a fullness to the song. The chorus is huge..a sing a long chorus that does tend to stick with you a bit. This is classic in sound…but fresh enough to keep my attention.

Just Us—-In full ballad form for this track, the vocal is right in your face as the song begins. The gentle sounds of the band allow for the voice to be the star of the show. The lyrical content…a bit juvenile is classic required ballad material on every record. I could do without this…nothing really new here.

All There Was—-Great guitar effects and drums open up this track. There is an aggression and urgency to the music that catches me attention right at the onset. The vocal is pretty predictable…for me, the drums….really in the front of the mix, and the guitars keep the track interesting. I rather like this.

The Aftermath—-An odd little snippet that could have been a great song…..

Condition Human—-Ending the release less than aggressive, I would have preferred a huge galloping track that was designed to leave me hungry for more from this new entity of a classic band. Instead I am left with a feeling of relief that it is over. The saving grace for this track is the huge chorus…the guitars seem to float over my head. For me…it full form. this is a bit of a disappointing release.

*** out of 5

 

 

 

 

 

Pet Shop Boys / Release: Further Listening 2001-2004

 

Release: Further Listening 2001 - 2004 (2017 Remastered Version)

‘Release’, featuring Johnny Marr on guitar, entered the top ten in the UK album charts on its release in 2002. This remastered edition comes with two ‘Further listening’ albums of additional tracks, including unreleased songs ‘Motoring’, ‘The night is a time to explore who you are’, ‘Run, girl, run’ and ‘Reunion’, as well as previously-unreleased John Peel versions of ‘A powerful friend’ and ‘If looks could kill’ and a previously-unreleased cover version of Gilbert O’Sullivan’s ‘Alone again, naturally’ featuring Elton John.

The Analysis—-

Disc One:

Home And Dry—-It was obvious, from the first strains of this track, that this was release going in a somewhat different direction…but change is good for the soul right? The synths are very understated and the guitar playing is very present…something never really heard on a PSB release. It took me awhile to truly embrace this song…but the beautiful voice of Tennant made it easier. This has grown on me over the years.

I Get Along—-For me, this track was perfect from the very first listen. This was, for me, the Boys attempt to embrace the Oasis crowd so prevalent at the moment. This would have been a perfect song for that entity. There is a remarkable brightness to the piano synth line….accompanied by an underbelly of sadness that sucks you in. Neil delivers a wonderful vocal…where he actually sings his way through an entire song. The crescendo on the chorus is just fantastic.

 

Birthday Boy—-A somewhat quaint and touching track. I love the gentle swells of music and the present but understated guitar strums. Neil again delivers a stellar vocal…the man never seems to age…his voice as crisp and clear as the day I first heard him sing. The melody line that runs through the song brings a melancholy feel to the listener…it is very easy to lose yourself in the feeling. The closest they came, at the time, to a Christmas song. Marr delivers a wonderful soaring guitar solo to the song….

London—-For me, this is classic PSB. The vocal play…a slight vocoder delivery is fantastic. I love when Neil really lets his voice soar and sings in that perfect clear voice of his. The song begins subtle but then becomes more lively…helping the fans to feel more at home with the classic Lowe synth sound. I love this track.

E-Mail—-A track that shows it’s age a bit…at the time we were all just becoming so dependent on E-mail for everything. This was timely at the moment…but evolution has dated it. I suppose the sentiment of the song still holds true today. The synth is so understated and simple of this entire CD…but still manages to carry the trademark feel of the band. This is nice to hear again..it’s been awhile.

The Samurai In Autumn—-Right from the onset, the listener feels a bit more comfortable with this track…it has that remarkable Lowe sound to it that literally defines the sound…just as important as Tennant’s vocal. There is always that remarkable sad feeling that runs through the underbelly of every PSB composition. This is a beautifully constructed track…with odd ebbs and flows…but a damn addictive melody line.

Love Is A Catastrophe—-Dense and layered with an emotional melody line that takes place from the first notes. Neil sings with an almost dis-embodied voice at first…then seems to allow his pain to show through. The track has an incredibly lonely feel to it…making you fall right into the despair that is lyrically produced. I really love bands that make me FEEL something. This is brilliant!

Here—-Again, this has a more pleasant and upbeat synth line that is contagious and damn poppy! Tennant phrases his words with such clarity and emotion you truly feel his emotions. The chorus is breath-taking….staying in your head and allowing you to look back on what was a really under-appreciated release at the time. This is a brilliant track. It makes me feel happy.

The Night I Fell In Love—-A wonderfully controversial song at the time it was released, as you know this was an ode to Eminem…without actually coming out and saying so. Tennant delivers a vocal that is almost giddy with enthusiasm….truly speaking of how we all feel about meeting our heroes or whatever..lol. This goes a bit further…but the sentiment is remarkable…I love this memory.

You Choose—-Rounding out the proper release with a track that carries another load of emotional feeling and lyrics. Tennant seems to have been going through something…lol. I like that he is never shy about using the proper pronouns and pretending these intense emotional songs are about women….this is gentle..layered in emotion…but left me wanting something more synth heavy on this release. But it holds up well…after all this time.

Disc Two:

Between Two Islands—-Classic in sound, there is something about the Boys and the sound they have perfected. You can never be mistaken when you hear this band. The somewhat jaunty feel to the synth is really nice. The keyboard produced horns add a body to the song..the lyrical and vocal delivery is the same fare as the proper release….love….wanting love…losing love. This is brilliant.

Searching For The Face Of Jesus—-Sounding a bit more like material from the Release album, there is guitar here…perfectly blended with the synth line that comes and goes. Tennant delivers another higher pitched vocal that to me is remarkable to look back on…it can’t be easy to sing like that. But he is…MASTERFUL…as always.

 

Time On My Hands—-Already included on the Disco 3 release, it is nice to hear this again…simply because it is a huge track. The synth line, the bass…the tempo of the song. This is what the fans crave from this band. This has one of those rare vocal snips from Chris Lowe…and it is addictive as hell. This is a huge romp through Acid House inspired dance…this is a brilliant song. When Tennant adds his voice….it becomes even better!!!

Motoring/Demo—-For me, right from the onset, this is a noisy and somewhat unorganized track. The music that lies underneath the vocal is so erratic and distracting it is hard to pay attention to the lyrics. The chorus…addictive and melodic, saves the track from obscurity. Not a favorite…and that is saying something. This is a band that rarely makes a mis-step.

Love Life—-Fantastic….this has a throwback sound that brings a smile to my face no matter how hard I try to deter it. The music that Lowe supplies is so damn addictive. Tennant seems to float right on top of the synth line…and the back drop vocals gives the song a huge feel. The break in the middle of the song is brilliant….filling the dance-floor in my brain with beautiful boys and wild girls. Magnificent!

Transparent—-Bringing out the vocoder on the vocal again. for me it does work as well on this track. You can hear Sylvia in the backdrop providing a vocal. The music is static and a little erratic. Not a bad song…but the inspiration does not seem sincere.

Sexy Northerner—-Also included on Disco 3, this track is acceptable…at least compared to the previous song. I don’t really understand the British concept of Northerners and such….so this kind of goes over my head. The pace of the song is brilliant…and the magical break in the track makes it standout as it is really unexpected. This is fantastic.

The Night Is A Time To Explore Who You Are/Demo—-I really don’t think I have heard this track before…it has a feeling of unfamiliarity. The vocal is very odd…at the onset it sounds so filtered that you would not even guess it was Neil singing. When the proper vocal comes through, it is a nice melancholy feeling track that breeds an emotional response in my psyche. I like it…but would not pay a lot of attention to it usually.

Closer To Heaven/Slow Version—-A track from the Nightlife release, this has been floating around for a really long time…not sure the necessity of it being included here. I like this version…the subtle piano synths are addictive as hell. The vocal is brilliant…to me the entire Nightlife release was a damn masterpiece. Just not sure why this is on here…..

Run, Girl, Run/Demo—-This track sounds perfectly at home on this collection. The synth lines are familiar and the vocal from Neil is literally breathtaking. There is perfection in this band, and generally they never make a mis-step. This is a brilliant, melancholy, emotion layered track that suck me right in. Masterful!

I Didn’t Get Where I Am Today—-When I listen to this, I automatically think of The Beatles right from the onset…that guitar line is right out of the sound book. When the chorus breaks in…I promise you…you will be singing this song for days. it is a perfect recipe of PSB sounds and a throwback joyous feel of shiny pop mastery. This is brilliant!

 

Always—-Falling back into the more ambient feel of the Release mood B-sides, this is moody has has a lot of dark corners. Tennant delivers a sad and lonely vocal that lies on top of the Lowe synth line and wraps around you like a warm blanket. It is easy to get wrapped up in the emotion of these songs….the ability to transport emotion is remarkable.

Home And Dry/Ambient Mix—-This version of the song is less guitar based and much darker and moody in tone. I actually prefer this version over the original..it falls easily into the PSB catalog than the other. This has a lot of ‘air’ to it…it allows for more emotion and layers of feeling. This is brilliant.

Bright Young Things/Demo—-You can tell….from the very first strains of the song, that this was recorded during the proper sessions of Release. It carries a very familiar synth line…and a familiar emotional feel to the track. This is really nice…not sure that I have heard this…this is spectacular. I have often said…some of the B-sides this band produces are even better than the A-sides…how do you choose? This is wonderful.

Kazak—-This is much needed at this point! This song travels! The speed of the synth line is spectacular…making me want to jump up and lose control. This is brilliant…the energy is literally infectious. I love it. This is a Lowe masterpiece…he always delivers these odd romping tracks that Neil tries to wrap his vocal around…this needs nothing else….just the joyous romp through abandon!

A Powerful Friend/John Peel Version—-This as well…contains an infectious 80’s inspired synth line that fills me with joy and youthful abandon. Tennant delivers such a strong vocal….this is a fantastic surprise. I love the energy…the lyrics…well…we can all relate to that. This is brilliance!

If Looks Could Kill/John Peel Version—-I think this original is also included on Disco 3….but this is different enough to recapture my attention. The feel of the song is different than other versions I have heard before. I love the high vocal and the flowing and romping synth line that Lowe produces. This is wonderfully delivered. I love these guys.

Disc Three:

Try It [I’m In Love With A Married Man]—-ALSO taken from Disco 3….why did I buy it? This is a wonderful track…but I don’t need all of these copies of the same song. The sentiment is almost hilarious…but very relatable to anyone who has been in this position. Kudos to Neil for singing such a blatant track.

Here/PSB New Extended Mix—-Huge addictive synth lines…the kind of ‘remix’ that is a DJ’s wet dream, this has many opportunities to mix…remix….and bring everyone crashing back down in a sopping sweat filled pile. This is brilliant….I love the energy…I love that the melody line NEVER disappears….wish the vocal was more fore front. Mid track the classic vocal lines appear…I love that phrasing.

If Looks Could Kill—-I’m not going to say it again…yes this is a redux…fans already have this. Its pleasant enough…it fit perfectly in the hyper-kinetic energy of Disco 3…I would prefer something else besides redux music. I’m OK with it though…or not.

A Powerful Friend—-Huge swirls of atmosphere…..a wonderful vocal all come together out of the silence and tell a tale of something many of us can relate to. When the swirls of dark fog swirl around the song it just fills me with awe. The slight beat emerges from the dank feel…but never loses the feelings of disdain and helplessness…..this is brilliant!

Party Song—-Hyper-kinetic synth lines with a slight distortion added clear the way for Tennant to come out and invite you to the party. The way he sings/talks is phenomenal here. There are nice back tracks that fill out the track. This is fun and perfect as a filler song late at nite…I love this.

No Excuse/Demo—-i’m not so sure I’m too familiar with this track. This is dark at the onset…but seems to beg to open up as it progresses. Neil enters with a static vocal…it slowly takes shape as it develops. I like this…but this is really a bit odd for me. I like the chorus part of the song…but I would pass this up.

Blue On Blue—-With a intro synth line that sounds like Love To Love You Baby, this captured my attention right away…the familiar line comes and goes but drives the song. The vocal seems pushed to the back and comes across as ‘removed’ from the song…it is the music that is the star of this track….really great.

Jack And Jill Party/Demo—-This has a very familiar feel to it…at the onset it reminds me of If Looks Could Kill…..then it becomes a bit more static. I really dislike the vocal on this song….it is too high…removed from the front of the song and falls flat for me.

Baby/Demo—-Swirling around your head and filled with that classic trademark vocal from Neil, this is a perfect song. I love the Erasure style synth line…and how the beat and energy never drowns out the voice. This is wonderful…I’m smiling again.

Flamboyant/Original Demo—-Outside of the B-side Screaming, I believe this may be my favorite PSB track ever. Why this was never released as a proper single is beyond me. It has everything…an irresistible melody…a remarkable lyric and vocal…this for me is a pure masterpiece of music.

 

Miracles—-I enjoy this track…but it was really a mystery why this was released as a single instead of Flamboyant. I guess the content and the lyrics are more acceptable. The song…after numerous listens has become a nice part of my playlist..it does indeed contains that magical hook and synth line…the construction of a perfect pop song.

Flamboyant/7″ Mix—-There is little to add to what I consider one of the most perfect PSB songs ever recorded. There is a great musical line…a vocal that is beyond compare…lyrics full of irony and hilarity…and realism. This for me is a masterful song.

Numb/Demo—-A track that would find it’s perfect place on the Fundamental release, the demo version is as dark and magnificent as the version that landed on the album. This is a masterful song…allowing you to really feel everything that you might be feeling currently in your life. This can make me cry at the right time…or happy as well…that is the sign of a masterpiece.

In Private/featuring Elton John—-Perhaps one of the most brilliant pairings in pop music, this is a perfect storm of talent. The sentiment of the song is clear…the delivery is cataclysmic. These two phenomenal musical entities created a masterpiece I will never stop listening to. This is brilliant!

Alone Again, Naturally/ featuring Elton John—-Anyone who grew up in the 70’s can easily recognize this song….to consider these two artists tackling it is momentous. I love this version…the emotion…the feeling…the new fresh synth feeling from Lowe…this is a magical moment.

Reunion/Electro Mix—-Not really what I would call Electro, the song is still pleasant and addictive in delivery. I love the vocal…as always….Neil sounds masterful. I consider the music a slight bit downbeat…but it is addictive none the less. Really like having this.

Bright Young Things—-Really dense and intense in tone, I like the intricate synth lines that wrap around the vocal from Tennant. This is wonderfully delivered….the mood swings are subtle enough to provide interest that never ebbs. A favorite of mine…it has an epic feel.

We’re The Pet Shop Boys—-This song has been floating around for a bit…so it is not new and fresh for me….but I like the delivery here…the deep and dense feel of the synth is like the sun coming out in a storm…it develops right before your eyes. This is almost perfect…I love how Neil literally croons….magical.

It’s A Sin/Electro Mix—-I am surprised…I don’t recall ever hearing this version before! This is incredibly fresh and sounds updated…I love this. I love the swirls of music…the slight crashes and the escalating synth line…Brilliant.

*****out of 5

 

 

 

Loudwire.com 2016 Metal Album Of The Year—-Devin Townsend Project / Transcendence

Transcendence

Devin Garrett Townsend (born May 5, 1972) is a Canadian musician, songwriter and record producer. He was the founder, songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist in extreme metal band Strapping Young Lad from 1994 to 2007 and has an extensive career as a solo artist.

After performing in a number of heavy metal bands in high school, Townsend was discovered by a record label in 1993 and was asked to perform lead vocals on Steve Vai‘s album Sex & Religion. After recording and touring with Vai, Townsend was discouraged by what he found in the music industry, and vented his anger on the solo album Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing released under the pseudonym Strapping Young Lad. He soon assembled a band under the name, and released the critically acclaimed City in 1997. Since then, he has released three more studio albums with Strapping Young Lad, along with solo material released under his own independent record label, HevyDevy Records.

Townsend’s solo albums, a diverse mix of hard rock, progressive metal, ambient, and new-age, have featured a varying lineup of supporting musicians. In 2002 he formed the Devin Townsend Band, a dedicated lineup which recorded and toured for two of his solo releases. In 2007, he disbanded both Strapping Young Lad and the Devin Townsend Band, taking a break from touring to spend more time with his family. After a two-year hiatus, he began recording again, and soon announced the formation of the Devin Townsend Project. The project began with a series of four albums, released from 2009 to 2011, each written in a different style, and Townsend continues to record and tour under the new moniker.

Across all his bands and projects, Townsend has released twenty-three studio albums and three live albums. Townsend’s trademark production style, featuring a heavily multitracked wall of sound, has been compared to the styles of Phil Spector and Frank Zappa. His versatile vocal delivery ranges from screaming to an opera-esque singing, and his songwriting is similarly diverse. Townsend’s musical style is rooted in metal, and his albums are written to express different aspects of his personality.

Transcendence is the seventeenth studio album by Canadian musician Devin Townsend, and the seventh album in the Devin Townsend Project series. It was released on September 9, 2016 via HevyDevy Records.

The Analysis—-

Truth—-Brilliant and bright at the onset, this will actually be my first excursion with this band. The sound, for me is rather epic and filled with all the sounds that attract me to darker musical entities. I love this thus far…it is accessible…but enough out of the mainstream to keep me interested. This is so layered and textured I can only define it as beautiful right at the beginning…..this is incredible.

Stormbending—-With a bit more of a powerful punch to the music, the vocal enters and sucks me into a pleasant vortex I never want to climb out of. This is certainly different than Strapping Young Lad….this is experimental…progressive and damn articulate. I am in love….literally amazing!

Failure—-Again with a pleasant and accessible intro, this seems to cross all genre boundary lines. This is so easy to listen to…but still maintains a perfect mix or rock and experimentation to catch everyone’s attention. the vocal is exquisite….soaring and crashing and literally becoming one with the music. This is sublime….wonderful and damn addictive.

Secret Sciences—-Bright with a layered sound of instrumentation, the guitar and the vocal enters and almost takes me out of my body. The vocal is so damn pleasant and accessible….I just keep wondering why this band is not huge all over the world. I’m not even sure you could define this music as Metal……it IS very progressive and beautiful though.

Higher—-Stark and filled with beautiful acoustic guitar and melodies that threaten to make me weep like a little girl…I am just amazed that I have not invested more time with this band. The song becomes more powerful…but never loses the beauty and construction that started the entire thing off. This is just phenomenal…I sit here in awe….

Stars—-Almost seeming to be part of the previous song, the melody line is very familiar but still utterly addictive and filled with a beautiful resonance. This is a spectacular record…a true journey through the mind of what I think must be a musical genius. I can’t understand how this got past me…..I love this man.

Transcendence—-This trio of songs fit together like a glove in a gloved hand. Epic and beautiful….the songs are like a journey through space and time…I can find no fault with anything on this release…the movements are just incredible….I love this so much…..I can’t say enough good things about the epic nature of these compositions.

Offer Your Light—-A bit more aggressive musically,  this song is much faster and soars above my head with an incredible beauty. The vocal is so superb….I can’t get over the slight aggression but the subtle beauty of the whole thing…this is a journey….fantastic and littered with enough melodies to stick in your head for days.

From The Heart—-Again….the brightness of the music threatens to bring me to tears….I have not heard such incredible beauty and meticulous song construction in a very long time. This is a huge epic track….it feels so big and large to me…I love the power chords that hearken back to power metal days of the 80’s….a melody and chorus that inspires lighters in the air….and a vocal that is so accessible it should be on radio.

Transdermal Celebration—-Amazing…..this band can even take a Ween song and turn it into something full of beauty and pleasant feelings. I intend on buying everything I can get my hands on…..I fully encourage you to do the same…..a truly beautiful journey this one.

***** [!!!!!] out of 5

 

 

 

 

Loudwire.com 2015 Metal Album Of The Year—-Iron Maiden / Book Of Souls

The Book of Souls

The Book of Souls is the sixteenth studio album by English heavy metal band Iron Maiden, released on 4 September 2015. It is the band’s first studio double album, and therefore also their longest to date, with a total length of 92 minutes. Its launch and supporting tour were delayed to allow vocalist Bruce Dickinson time to recover from the removal of a cancerous tumor in early 2015.

Produced by long-time Iron Maiden collaborator Kevin Shirley, The Book of Souls was recorded at Guillaume Tell Studios, Paris from September to December 2014, which they had previously used for 2000’s Brave New World. The band wrote and immediately recorded many tracks in the studio, resulting in a spontaneous live feel. The album’s first release, “Speed of Light“, was issued as a music video on 14 August, and simultaneously as a digital download and CD single exclusive to Best Buy. In addition to being their longest studio record, it also contains the band’s longest song, “Empire of the Clouds“, at 18 minutes in length, which was also issued as a single for Record Store Day on 16 April 2016. While not a concept album, references to the soul and mortality are prominent, realized in the Maya-themed cover artwork, created by Mark Wilkinson.

The Analysis—-

Disc One:

If Eternity Should Fail—-Coming out of the darkness with an eerie hum, Dickinson emerges with a lone vocal that adds to the slow build and atmosphere of the track. I’m sure everyone had baited breath wondering how the voice would sound after the cancer battle…but it sounds better than ever. It isn’t long before the Harris bass line brings the song to life….the vocal line huge and bringing mysticism and power to the track. With a damn catchy chorus, this is classic Maiden.

Speed Of Light—-With no huge introduction this track, what you are greeted with is a huge banshee scream from Bruce that is incredible in power and volume. The musical power is incredible….the energy level very high. The prominent bass line takes a bit of a backseat on this track…allowing for a more straight forward metal track. At times, Dickinson seems to strain…but have no doubt…next to Rob Halford…..one of the best Metal singers in history. The drums are excellent on this track…as well as the barrage of guitars. This just has a HUGE sound.

The Great Unknown—-A full  return to the heavy bass line of Steve Harris, Dickinson enters with his vocal….wrapping around your brain with symbolism and mysticism. The track takes a bit to open up….slowly building with typical fanfare and anticipation. Finally the proper song commences but does not seem quit as epic as promised. I like this….it is Maiden after all…but not quite as huge as promised.The guitars are really nice on this track though….the twin attack…actually triple attack…..sounds huge.

The Red And The Black—-Seemingly to build off the previous track, the bass line that greets you is almost acoustic and Spanish in sound…for the first 20 seconds! The the galloping Maiden sound propels the song forward at a nice speed and level of anticipation. The lead from Gers is fantastic….can you say ‘glory days’? This is classic Maiden….the sound and the mood takes me back to the earlier releases.

When The River Runs Deep—-Higher in instrumental tone and straight forward right off the bat, Dickinson delivers a stellar vocal that is without fail. The mood of the track shifts and takes shape as it progresses…there are some nice double track vocals which are rare on their recordings. The ‘chorus’ has a musical downshift sound to it that makes the entire thing play a bit odd to me…but it is a welcome break…something different to provide variety.

The Book Of Souls—-Again with the Spanish flavor from the guitar intro? This track takes a bit to get going but when it does…I smile. The sound of the band is deeper and more plodding than normal. Dickinson delivers very dark lyrics….the words he writes are like a vivid picture book. The ‘chorus’is huge….offered with a catchy hook and a stellar vocal. This delivers as only a title track should. This is 100% classic Maiden! Well worth the wait.

Disc Two:

Death Or Glory—-At the onset,this track sounded a bit muddled to me…the clear and concise tones were drowned out by the deep bass tones of Harris. Dickinson delivers a vocal that lightens things up a bit and Adrian Smith adds backdrop vocals to make the song even larger. This is typical Maiden fare…..mayhem and battles and tales of adversity.

Shadows Of The Valley—-One of my favorite tracks on this release….I love the urgency of the music….it drives the song forward….line after line and word after word. The drums are incredible….I don’t think Maiden drum get enough credit…its all about Harris and Dickinson. This has nice mood shifts…the lyrics are perfect….the song has a dark edge….true Metal for me.When the band all sings together,it is a huge free for all!!!

Tears Of A Clown—-With a propulsive progressive intro, the song seems like is is dragged like a tugboat into itself. The excitement dies down a bit with the entrance of a remarkably clear vocal from Bruce. This is a nice break from the previous two tracks…this has a different sound to it…I love this song.

The Man Of Sorrows—-A soaring, almost beautiful lead guitar ushers in this track…..with the vocal following soon after…with clarity and sincerity. This is really nice…showcasing the recovered voice remarkably well. The ability to match the vocals with the music is a talent. When the song opens up a bit, it becomes even larger and darker…..even though Bruce is pushed to the back a bit…you can catch every word. The galloping Maiden sound returns and you have a full fledged classic track.

Empire Of The Clouds—-At over 18 minutes in length, this is practically a mini album in itself. This combines all of the great parts of this release and makes it into one huge song. A bit overblown but none the less epic, this is a nice ending to a superb release. Moody and full of many movements, this track plays much faster than you would imagine…despite all the musical interludes…there are few breaks…the song stands on its own two feel very well. This is moody and huge.

**** out of 5

Loudwire.com 2014 Metal Album Of The Year—-Behemoth / The Satanist

The Satanist

Behemoth is a Polish blackened death metal band from Gdańsk, formed in 1991. They are considered to have played an important role in establishing the Polish extreme metal underground.

Until the late 1990s, the band played a traditional black metal style with heathen lyrical content, but soon changed to that of occult and thelemic themes written by their lead vocalist Nergal and Krzysztof Azarewicz. With the 1999 release of Satanica, the band demonstrated their presence in the death metal scene, while retaining their own signature style characterized by the drum work of Inferno, multi-layered vocals and Middle-Eastern influences. Despite Behemoth having been labeled as death metal or thrash metal-influenced, Nergal has mentioned that he does not like the band to be labeled.

The Satanist is the tenth album by Polish extreme metal band Behemoth. The album was announced on 31 May 2013 and released on February 3, 2014 through Nuclear Blast and on February 4 in Poland via Metal Blade Records and Mystic Production, respectively. Release was preceded by digital download single “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel” and 12″ EP under the same title released on December 4, 2013.

The Analysis—-

Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel—-A favorite band of mine for a very long time, there is little in my eyes these guys go ever do wrong. Nergal came back from his leukemia battle sounding huge and more possessed than ever. The music is dark, dense and layered with sounds….the voice comes at you from the dark with natural…not forced…evil overtones. This is a huge epic release…..the intro song just sets you up for the incredible journey to follow.

Furor Divinus—-Right from the onset, the sound of this track is a bit muddier and dark. The drums are incredible….the rest of the instruments all seem to play to there own song which makes this sound layered, textured and almost like pure mayhem. Meanwhile the vocal slides over the top of everything with dark and evil overtones that make you feel as if you are going mad. Stellar in every way.

Messe Noire—-With loud and raucous odes to Satan, the vocal smacks you in the face from the very first note. After the first bar or so, the song takes off at a pace that literally leaves you breathless and shaking your head in amazement. This is so dark…it’s light and intense. I love this band. Nergal has never sounded more driven or possessed by his message.

Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer—-With an actual build up to the vocal, I find myself waiting with baited breath for the mayhem to commence. Once the drums kick in at hyper drive, the vocal is right there to tell you about the glories and redeeming powers of Lucifer. Driven through this dark tunnel your mind almost begs for light….but instead you drive deeper into the tunnel….just incredible.

Amen—-Incredibly fast drums and a bass line from hell smack yo in the face from the very first notes….with a slight downshift in the music, the vocal enters and then everything kicks back p again leaving you in a trail of black dust. The puked vocal is so intense I fear I could lose my mind….but the loss would be so magnificent at the hands of this band.

The Satanist—-A bleak and dark tone introduces this track…leaving you a bit confused by the calm nature of the whole thing….although the sound is huge and epic. The plodding feel of the music is offset by incredible drums and a static lead guitar line that still leaves the mind breathless. The vocal enters and sounds less driven than anything else on this release thus far…but the sound is monstrous anyways. The ‘chorus’ of the song has a brilliant melody line that runs through it…..I am always surprised by the brilliance.

Ben Sahar—-Incredibly dark in tone and layered with a bass line melody that makes you want to sway back and forth, the kick drum hits you right in the fuckin forehead. Nergal delivers his patented vocal that magically rides over all of the noise of the instruments and tells his tale of being Satan’s ally. Monstrous and incredible.

In The Absence Ov Light—-BAM!!!!! smacked right in the forehead at the first note, the melody line that is present in this song is incredible…you can pick it up despite everything that is going on around you from the different instruments and the sewer filled vocal of Nergal. The song has downshifts….a gentle almost acoustic guitar line allows for a spoken word verse in Polish that sounds even more evil than it would in English. This is freak in fantastic.

O Father O Satan O Sun!—-Loaded with a remarkable almost accessible melody line right from the first note, this is perhaps my favorite track on this release. The song has everything that made this entire release incredible….darkness…melody…evil…..drums…..a fantastic vocal….a great higher lead guitar line. this is an epic end to a fantastic release.

***** out of 5

 

 

Loudwire.com 2013 Metal Album Of The Year—-Gorguts / Colored Sands

 

Colored Sands

Gorguts is a Canadian technical death metal band from Sherbrooke, Quebec, formed in 1989. The band has been through many personnel changes since its inception, and its only constant member has been guitarist and vocalist Luc Lemay, who remains the primary creative force in the band. To date they have released five full-length albums and one EP. Their most recent release is the EP Pleiades’ Dust, released on May 13, 2016, which consists of a single 33-minute song about the House of Wisdom that once stood in Baghdad. Their latest full-length album Colored Sands was released in 2013 and was nominated for a Juno Award. Musically the band is known for its complex, musically dense form of technical death metal, and has become “one of the most advanced, experimental, and challenging groups in the entire genre.

Colored Sands is the fifth full-length album by technical death metal band Gorguts. It is Gorguts’ first studio album since 2001’s From Wisdom to Hate. The album features the band’s first recordings with guitarist Kevin Hufnagel and bassist Colin Marston, and the band’s only recordings with drummer John Longstreth. It is a concept album based on Tibet. The album was released digitally on August 6, 2013, and the release of the CD and vinyl versions on September 3, 2013.

The Analysis—-

Le Toit Du Monde—-Powerful and driving right from the very first chord, the band delivers a different type of Death Metal than you might expect. I find the sound of the band pretty experimental…but still technically sound in the genre. The vocal is so distorted it is hard to catch a single vowel…but the music is huge and powerful…..propelling you onward and then crashing you down with a slight pleasant interlude. remarkable.

An Ocean Of Wisdom—-Little in the way of introduction, the band manages to create a literal wall of sound that wraps around your head and threatens to snap your neck. The power and the venom that is produced is just incredible. I wish the vocal was a bit more moved to he front…it seems like the drums have the spotlight….but never the less…this is huge in sound…great with tempo changes and delivered with pure brilliance.

Forgotten Arrows—-Brilliant right from the onset…clear and bright high hats on the drums….soaring guitars and an actual melody you can sink your teeth into. the vocal is as usual it seems, pushed to the very back of the mix….but musically…this track is stellar. It has a huge epic feel without the typical orchestration and string effects…..brilliant.

Colored Sands—-An actual introduction ushers in this track…..clear guitars and the lack of heavy drums form the melody line of the song that raises it’s head throughout. The song takes a bit to get going…sounding plodding and Sabbath inspired…..this track is epic…..I find no fault here…this is brilliance.

The Battle Of Chamdo—-With a marching upbeat almost orchestrated intro to the song, you wonder immediately where this is all going to go. The instrumentation is fantastic…I love the jaunty feel of the song as it progresses….the swirls of strings…the melody that sounds like a classic movie soundtrack…..this is incredible…where did all this come from?

Enemies Of Compassion—-With a full and proper return to the brutality of the band, this tracks kicks you in the fuckin face from the first chord. The rhythm section of the band is incredible…the drums and the bass line are epic. There is so much sound here….my head wants to explode….instead I just sit back and smile.

Ember’s Voice—-Continuing in an almost identical vein, this sounds like a brilliant extension of the song that was previous with added breaks. The vocal enters with possibly the most violent and aggressive moment of the release so far. I literally want to jump up and punch something…I get such energy from the music. This makes me really feel…..I love this record!!!

Absconders—-Again powerful but with a nice structure to the melody line that runs underneath all of the mayhem. This is epic in sound….the wall of noise that is created just brings a huge smile to my face…the sharp bursts of guitars….the muted disgusting vocals add to the dirtiness of it all. This is so deep and dank…but somehow so bright and fantastic. The purest form of healthy aggression.

Reduced To Silence—-I almost hate to hear this release end…but of course you can listen again and again and again. This is explosive yet pleasant…giving a nice mix of everything of the album thus far but a nice slight tempo change to bring everything to a close. When the entire band really kicks in…so do your teeth….jaw and facial bones. This is fantastic!!!

***** out of 5

 

 

 

Loudwire.com 2012 Metal Album Of The Year—-Between The Buried And Me / The Parallax II: Future Sequence

The Parallax II: Future Sequence

The Parallax II: Future Sequence is the seventh studio album by American progressive metal band Between the Buried and Me, released on October 9, 2012. The album’s concept is the continuation of the band’s 2011 EP The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues. Paul Waggoner and Dustie Waring (guitars) described it as being their favorite release up to now, being mature, dynamic, and with various metal influences from 1970’s progressive rock, to jazz and fusion. It is their longest running studio album to date.

The Analysis—-

Goodbye To Everything—-Sweeping in with a beautiful short interlude full of harmonies and melodies leads us directly into….

Astral Bodies—-The magnificent and powerful guitar chords that open up the song are like a huge wall of perpetual notion. The strains of pure Progressive Metal are all over the melody line that runs through the song. This is airy, spacey and full of an underlying aggression supplied by the bass line. The drums hit hard….the guitars are magical short bursts…then the vocal smacks you in the head with aggression and brutality. A journey all in itself…bolstered by the intermittent prog rock and clean vocals. Magnificent!

Lay Your Ghosts To Rest—-With no proper introduction, this track kicks off with a brand new aggression that still carries a bit of a prog sound thanks to the higher tuned guitars. The drums and the crunching bass line keeps everything legitimate though. This has many movements…often reminding me of the things System Of A Down did with their music. The bright and clean vocals changes the landscape…then we dive back down again….just magnificent.

Autumn—-A bit of an odd intro, as the song takes shape very slowly…all part of the ‘concept’ I suppose. The odd effects and background static are annoying after a bit….and then we magically evolve into….

Extremophile Elite—-And we are returned to the proggish feel of earlier tracks as the music hits you from all angles. The dueling vocals are intense…screaming coming at your eardrums from all directions. This is huge…aggressive….dark…..but somehow magically shiny and fresh. I truly love the clean vocal interludes……such beauty and contrast.

Parallax—-Falling back into a melodic and beautiful acoustic guitar with a spoken word intro, this interlude serves to further whatever the concept revolving around this release is all about. We are then introduced to….

Telos—-I really hate the clear lack of song separation but I suppose that is the right of the band. This may very well be the most aggressive and hard hitting track on this release. The music and the vocal are unrelenting as you get hit over the head wave after wave of aggressive explosions. Clocking in at 10 minutes in length, I feel my attention dispersing to other things. There is a sameness that I can’t escape…..but wonderfully, at times when I find myself bored to tears there are nice chord changes that snap me back and make me pay attention again.

Bloom—-With one huge sweeping movement we are right into this track….the clean vocals coming at you in a staccato fashion that brings you back to the prog feel of earlier tracks and then burst wide open again with deep screaming from the other vocalist. There is so much going on…..I can’t imagine the genius it must take to construct and apply ideas like this.

Melting City—-Everything on this release melds together from one song to the other and leaves me confused sometimes as to where I am at with the whole experience. At the onset, this offers little new to the listening experience…all seeming like a long track…the clean vocals are well placed though…breaking up the monotony and offering much needed variance.

Silent Flight Parliament—-Kicking off with huge sweeping grandiose movements, the bass guitar literally crunches in the back drop of the song. The higher tuned guitars over lay and send the track soaring up into the stratosphere with clear and crisp sounds. The entrance of the vocal brings Roger Waters to my mind…..swirling with the story and then stomped on by the screams of brutal singing that steers most of this release…but this is mixed nicely with the play of clean vocals…a favorite track of mine.

Goodbye To Everything Reprise—-And then it is all delivered in a package full circle. I don’t hate this……but I won’t listen on a habitual level to this band.

*** out of 5