R.E.M / Part Lies Part Heart Part Truth Part Garbage 1982-2011

Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage: 1982-2011 [Explicit]

R.E.M. was an American rock band from Athens, Georgia, that was formed in 1980 by drummer Bill Berry, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist/backing vocalist Mike Mills, and lead vocalist Michael Stipe. One of the first alternative rock bands, R.E.M. was noted for Buck’s ringing, arpeggiated guitar style, Stipe’s particular vocal quality and obscure lyrics, and Mills’ melodic basslines and backing vocals. R.E.M. released its first single—”Radio Free Europe“—in 1981 on the independent record label Hib-Tone. The single was followed by the Chronic Town EP in 1982, the band’s first release on I.R.S. Records. In 1983, the group released its critically acclaimed debut album, Murmur, and built its reputation over the next few years through subsequent releases, constant touring, and the support of college radio. Following years of underground success, R.E.M. achieved a mainstream hit in 1987 with the single “The One I Love“. The group signed to Warner Bros. Records in 1988, and began to espouse political and environmental concerns while playing large arenas worldwide.

By the early 1990s, when alternative rock began to experience broad mainstream success, R.E.M. was viewed by subsequent acts such as Nirvana and Pavement as a pioneer of the genre. The band then released its two most commercially successful albums, Out of Time (1991) and Automatic for the People (1992), which veered from the band’s established sound and catapulted it to international fame. R.E.M.’s 1994 release, Monster, was a return to a more rock-oriented sound, but still continued its run of success. The band began its first tour in six years to support the album; the tour was marred by medical emergencies suffered by three of the band members.

In 1996, R.E.M. re-signed with Warner Bros. for a reported US$80 million, at the time the most expensive recording contract in history. Its 1996 release, New Adventures in Hi-Fi, though critically acclaimed, fared worse commercially than its predecessors. The following year, Bill Berry left the band, while Stipe, Buck, and Mills continued the group as a trio. Through some changes in musical style, the band continued its career into the next decade with mixed critical and commercial success, despite having sold more than 85 million records worldwide and becoming one of the world’s best-selling music artists of all time. In 2007, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in their first year of eligibility. R.E.M. disbanded amicably in September 2011, announcing the split on its website.

Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982–2011 is a 2011 greatest hits album from alternative rock band R.E.M. Intended as a coda on their career, this is the first compilation album that features their early work on independent record label I.R.S. Records in addition to their 10 studio releases through Warner Bros. Records. The double-disc retrospective was released through Warner Bros. on November 11, 2011, and was compiled by the band members. The existence of the compilation was revealed simultaneously with the group’s announcement that they were disbanding on September 21, 2011.

The Analysis—-

Disc One:

Gardening At Night—-Beginning with the trademark style of guitar twang the band was know for in the early days,  the vocal from Stipe enters displaying his unintelligible vocal style that always lest everyone guessing as to the true lyrics and meanings of the songs back in the burgeoning days of the band. The jaunty feel of the song is addictive and instantly recognizable….still filling me with a joy and reminder of the beginning of what we all called Alternative.

Radio Free Europe—-Perhaps recognized as the first proper release from the band, this was a landmark recording for me. I instantly fell in love with the band and the mystery that surrounded the meaning of the songs. The energy of these early recordings still manage to bring a smile to my face…instantly making me appreciate the genius of the band and at the same time mourn the passing of true legends. This is addictive…accessible and damn pleasant to listen to…..when Mills joins in on the chorus….the song is unstoppable.

 

Talk About The Passion—-Beginning with the unmistakable guitar sound that the band always managed to deliver, Stipe enters with a melancholy vocal that always seems to wrap itself around my very soul. here were times in my youth when I was sure the man was constructing these emotional masterpieces designed for my dark and needy moods. a true wonderful memory of youth, sadness, struggle and an underlying joy.

Sitting Still—-A song I was not really familiar with my title alone, it is one of those songs that when you hear the beginning chords you say….ah yes…that one. Again, there are times when Mills enters on the vocal and rounds out the sound of the song. I love the urgency, the pleading feel of the vocal and the remarkable jangly feel of the music.

So. Central Rain—-Tracks like this….from perhaps my favorite R.E.M. release, remind me of a care-free, employment free, alcohol filled summer of complete abandon and a deepening dive into everything Alternative and out of the mainstream. Stipe still delivered lyrics that were open to interpretation and implication and just left enough of the dial to appeal to the youth of the day. Fantastic.

[Don’t Go Back ToRockville—-full of Country inspired guitar strumming, the song opens up further upon the chorus  and becomes a frenzied romp that is even pertinent these days. I love the lazy drawl that Stipe manages to deliver throughout the entire song. There is a deep underlying tone to the song that is magical….and then Mills starts to sing with Michael on the chorus and the song becomes a masterpiece.

Driver 8—-Driving and seemingly filled with a bass driven aggression, Stipe again delivers a slurred type of vocal that seems to dissolve during what could be the most important lyric. Mills takes a bigger part on the vocal on this track and really serves as foreshadowing of how important his vocal would become later in the band. This is a driving, bass filled angst ridden journey that I still love.

Life And How To Live It—-This is a nice example of the slow but steady evolution of the sound of the band. Although much of the lyrical content is still a mystery. the sharpness and ability of the band seems to improve with every song on this compilation. These were the finest days of a classic and brilliant band.

Begin The Begin—-This release started for me a progression that the band continued until it’s demise. The music was brighter and filled with messages for the listener to grab a hold of. The lyrics were clearer and the music was filled with an aggressive delivery that seemed to help the message be conveyed to the listener. This was a brilliant track.

Fall On Me—-With an almost Alt-Country intro, the band introduces a addictive mellow sound that propels your mind to struggle with the lyrics, draw your own conclusions and fall in love with the blended vocals from Stipe and Mills. A truly shining moment from the kinds of Alternative.

Finest Worksong—-I love the propulsive feel of the guitar on this song. The riff sounds like it is always progressing but manages to stay in one place. Again we get remarkable blended vocals and a huge masculine bass line that still sounds incredible now. I really consider this one of my favorite tracks from the band.

 

It’s The End Of The World As We Know It—-Jaunty and fun right from the onset, the song travels at an amazing pace. The lyrics come at you so fast and furious….it is hard to keep track of all he doom that is being delivered. Another track that still stands the test of time remarkably well.

The One I Love—-One of the songs responsible for propelling this beloved Indie band to world wide success, The band stayed true to their sound and message…I guess the time was just right for the band to burst from the underground, so to speak. Laid back and gentle until the heavier chorus guitar line, Stipe sounds remarkably fresh and driven…sincere and positive in delivering his message.

Stand—-For me this has always been a track that has a slight silly side to it. The lyrics and clear and simple…the guitar is basic and understated. The chorus is addictive and will live in your brain for a long time. Addictive and fun.

Pop Song 89—-Another track that for me at least, has a slight Alt-Country feel to the under belly of the melody line. The crisp clarity of the vocals are a big change from the early days. The message is quasi-political and the melody line damn pleasant.

Get Up—-Aggressive with sharp burst of guitars and great drumming, the mixed vocal brings an automatic smile to my face. Sometimes I prefer the Mills vocal over Stipe. This is a fine progression in sound and direction.

Orange Crush—-Another landmark release for me, this was a nice throwback in sound to the earlier days of the band…the duel vocals…the jangly guitar and the vocal urgency. This was also a period when I think Mills started adding vocals even more to the band’s songs…giving the sound a pleasant fuller sound. Remarkable still today.

Losing My Religion—-Another track that really pushed the band and sales into the upper reaches of the universe. The track is pleasant enough but at this pint suffers from overplay. I don’t have complaints about the song, I’m just tired of it.

Country Feedback—-Bringing the Country leanings of the band into the front of the sound, I love the talk delivery of the vocal…..it tends to give the song a haunting feel that still manages to give me goosebumps. This is wonderful to hear again.

Shiny Happy People—-The joining of vocals from Stipe and Kate Pierson was pure genius. The blend is perfect and created a magical musical moment in history. The jangly feel of the music is true to the sound of the band….but the elements of Stipe, Mills and Pierson makes this a masterpiece.

The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight—-Never a true favorite of mine, I still love the basic elements of the song. The sound is true to form,,,Stipe sings with an urgency that is nice to hear….The range of vocal styles are great…the chorus falls flat for me though

*****

 

 

 

 

Roger Waters / Is This The Life We Really Want?

Is This The Life We Really Want? [Explicit]

George Roger Waters (born 6 September 1943) is an English singer, songwriter, bassist, and composer. In 1965, he co-founded the progressive rock band Pink Floyd with drummer Nick Mason, keyboardist Rick Wright, and guitarist, singer, and songwriter Syd Barrett. Waters initially served as the group’s bassist, but following the departure of Barrett in 1968, he also became their lyricist, co-lead vocalist, and conceptual leader.

Pink Floyd achieved international success with the concept albums The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, and The Wall. By the early 1980s, they had become one of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful groups in the history of popular music; by 2013, they had sold more than 250 million albums worldwide. Amid creative differences, Waters left in 1985 and began a legal dispute with the remaining members over their use of the band’s name and material. They settled out of court in 1987, and nearly eighteen years passed before he performed with them again.

Waters’ solo work includes the studio albums The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking, Radio K.A.O.S., Amused to Death, and Is This the Life We Really Want?. In 1990, he staged one of the largest and most extravagant rock concerts in history, The Wall – Live in Berlin, with an official attendance of 200,000. As a member of Pink Floyd, he was inducted into the U.S. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. In the same year he released Ça Ira, an opera in three acts translated from Étienne and Nadine Roda-Gils’ libretto about the French Revolution. Later that year, he reunited with Pink Floyd bandmates Mason, Wright and David Gilmour for the Live 8 global awareness event; it was the group’s first appearance with Waters since 1981. He has toured extensively as a solo act since 1999 and played The Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety for his world tour of 2006–2008. In 2010, he began The Wall Live and in 2011 Gilmour and Mason appeared with him during a performance of the double-album in London. As of 2013, the tour is the highest-grossing of all time by a solo artist.

Is This the Life We Really Want? (stylised as is this the life we really want?) is the fifth studio album by English rock musician and former Pink Floyd bassist and vocalist Roger Waters, released on 2 June 2017 by Columbia Records. It is his first studio album in nearly 25 years since Amused to Death (1992), as well as his first solo album in 12 years since Ça Ira (2005). On 20 April, the single “Smell the Roses” was released.

The Analysis—-

When We Were Young—-I approached this long awaited release with trepidation, optimism and wonder. The opening strains of this track….just bits of soundbites and effects reminds me of the wonderful Radio KAOS….the words from Waters portrays perhaps the feelings of million Americans……and then we move into….

Deja Vu—-The wonderful strains of Waters vocal and the familiar musical sounds belie the passage of time and put me right back in the center of the time I most cherished as a youth. Waters sounds like a young man as he sings and delivers line after biting line of fear….sadness and despair that belies the world we live in. This is magnificent…timely and incredibly rue. You go Roger!!!!

The Last Refugee—-Again with effects that are very Floyd in nature, the deep sound of the song transports you to the darkness and despair of many people in this day and age. Waters never fails to hone in on the pulse of the human race and repeat to everyone hat no one is truly saying. This is beautifully constructed and delivered in the voice of a much younger and driven man…..no disappointment here,

Picture That—-Delivered with venom and urgency, Waters reminds us what it means to truly care and be afraid of what we are facing and enduring. The sound is just classic….very Floyd, yet still pure in the waters feel as well. The effects that ride through the song are never a distraction…only adding to the intensity of the meaning and emergency of the song. Just magnificent.

Broken Bones—-So reminiscent of material from The Wall, what really amazes me is the classic and timeless quality of Waters and his voice…his song construction and his sentiment that seems to bite me to the bone. The huge swells of music and the anguished voice makes me sad and desperate to make a change. I love this release…this is pure perfection for me. Bullshit and Lies…….right Roger!

Is This The Life We Really Want?—-With a sickening Trump soundbite, there is little doubt about the density and despair of this record. The release as a whole…is a political statement we should be making…but instead a Brit is doing it? The message here is clear….the rich are feeding from all of those who are struggling and attempting to find the american Dream….because now…..the American Dream is a Nightmare.

Bird In A Gale—-Full of angry effects right from he start, the frantic tone of the music leads you on a trail of impending doom and desperation. The backdrop effects are convoluted at best but serve their purpose as it sets the tone for the world we live in.  Waters moans and pleads his way through the song…leaving you with a desperate and ghostly feel.

The Most Beautiful Girl—-With a beautiful sense of melody…..the strains of the piano usher in the track that is led off by a vocal that does indeed sound sad and a bit aged. The tone of the song leaves you feeling sad for the beautiful girl……maybe Melania…..

Smell The Roses—-I have listened t this lead off single over and over…but I can’t seem to get my mind wrapped around the feel of it. I don’t like the delivery…perhaps the too bluesy edge to it. I love the vocal…but the song is flat for me.

Wait For Her—-Gently introduced by the slow strumming of Waters and the ghostly piano, again…..another track that would fit perfectly on The Wall…the mood seems little different and not much improved. The sadness echoes through my brain and makes me want to steer clear of the news for a bit….life is desperate enough.

Oceans Apart/Part Of Me Died—-Retaining much of the melody line from the previous track, this sounds so full of sadness and despair…Waters delivering line after line of introspection and slight despair. I wallow in the dark feel of the record….it seems to fit my mood as well. This is masterful….wonderfully constructed…beautifully intricate….and magnificently dark.

*****out of 5

The Jesus And Mary Chain / Damage And Joy

Damage And Joy

The Jesus and Mary Chain are a Scottish alternative rock band formed in East Kilbride in 1983. The band revolves around the songwriting partnership of brothers Jim and William Reid. After signing to independent label Creation Records, they released their first single “Upside Down” in 1984. Their debut album Psychocandy was released to critical acclaim in 1985 on major label WEA. The band went on to release five more studio albums before disbanding in 1999.

Damage and Joy is the seventh studio album by Scottish alternative rock band The Jesus and Mary Chain. It was released on 24 March 2017 by ADA and Warner Music Group. It is the group’s first album in 19 years, and marks their first collaboration with producer Youth.

Some of the songs had appeared previously in a different form – “Song For A Secret” and “Amputation” had been released by Jim Reid – the latter as a solo single in 2007 under the title “Dead End Kids”, “Can’t Stop The Rock” was previously released by Jim and William Reid’s sister Linda under the stage name Sister Vanilla, and “The Two Of Us”, “Get On Home” and “Facing Up To The Facts” were previously released in a different form by Freeheat, a band which Jim Reid formed during the band’s hiatus, following the split after the release of the album Munki in 1998.

The Analysis—-

Amputation—-It seems almost impossible that at this point in my life I am privileged to be awarded the release of one more JAMC release. How wonderful to hear the conjoined sounds of the Reid Brothers coming together again…like they had never left me. This is not aggressive as many previous tracks…but the familiarity of it all is remarkable and distinctive. This is brilliant!

War On Peace—-Wonderfully brilliant from the very first strains of the song. This would have fir perfectly on the Stoned And Dethroned release…..you can almost hear Mazzy singing in the backdrop. This has an underlying fuzziness that is so comforting…and over the top the ageless Reid vocal. This is stark and quite simply beautiful. The end of the song is a triumph as the mayhem threatens you with sounds of days past….but remains remarkably in control.

All Things Pass—-Fuzzy and filled with a nice sense of static, the deep bass line sounds right off of an early New Order release. The melody line enters….masterful drums and that incredible voice follows. The pace of the song is so 80’s inspired and pleasant….I just want to wring my hands with sheer joy. This is a huge, addictive track…..I love this.

Always Sad—-Jingly and remarkable in the ability to sound both new and throwback at the same time. this is so addictive….it will urge you to replay over and over….the female vocal that joins in incredible…..and you will have this is your head for a long time after just one listen. This is straight out of the 90’s Lollapalooza era…….just fuckin; brilliant!!!!

Song For A Secret—-Again…..stepping right off the mood of Stoned And Dethroned, the female vocal sounds just like Mazzy…..making me want to dig that release from the crates for another grand listen. This is so fresh…..yet so retro and familiar…so new….but incredibly comfortable. This is just a truly fantastic record!!!

The Two Of Us—-With a nice feedback filled intro like the old days, the song erupts into an almost sunny feeling track that makes you smile inwardly with the sheer pleasure and pleasantness of the whole damn thing. the constant female vocal that runs through the songs adds so much more depth to the feel of the record. I love this as much as Stoned And Dethroned…this is a brilliant return.

Los Feliz [Blues And Greens]—-Lush and melancholy right from the onset, this track is stripped and bare. Reid enters with his vocal….sounding like a ghost whispering from the dark of feelings never expressed before. The slight jaunt to the guitar gives the song just the right needed touch of life……even riding over the sometimes sarcastic nature of the chorus……just fantastic…….like they were never gone.

Mood Rider—-Dense and layered with a sense of darkness at the onset, the guitar truly enters into the fray and lightens the track a bit. Reid slowly sings with a sadness and the fuzz in the underbelly gives this an almost staid funeral feel to the march of the music. This is just brilliant….my God I love this record!

Presidici [Et Chapaquiditch]—-Addictive and filled with a guitar jangle at the onset, the sunny feel of the song belies the rather dark lyrics that form the track. This is a petty ironic American story from a bunch of Scots….but it is filled with irony and almost gets a grin out of me. The music is so addictive and pleasant…this is so wonderful…..I freak in feel like I’m in heaven!!!

Get On Home—-Again, filled with a sound that is very 90’s Alternative music, you can tell that this has been kicked around for a time. The Reid Brothers seem to have found a sense of humor and a talent for irony….but this is still a great song…..stacks up perfectly with the catalog. Without a doubt……musically the noisiest song on the release thus far.

Facing Up To The Facts—-Magnificent in construction and delivery, the lyrics are fantastic……”I hate my brother and he hates me……that’s the way it’s supposed to be.” Just brilliant…..the Reid Brothers facing up to the facts!!!!

Simian Split—-The oddest musical introduction and the most disturbing lyrics of the record. I understand this is all about irony and sarcasm…..but some things you leave alone. This is my least favorite track on the record….but musically one of the most diverse and experimental.

Black And Blues—-Acoustic in nature and accompanied by a damn pleasant vocal…..again with the female vocal that adds and rounds out the sound so incredibly well. I am hopelessly in love with this record…I can’t describe the joy…elation and pleasure at hearing this……I will return easily over and over and over.

Can’t Stop The Rock—-Rounding out the release without ever losing integrity or grit, this will be a release I re-visit on a regular basis…..filled with memories…a fresh perspective and a vigor that sounds like it was never displaced by anger, I truly hope there is more still to come. A Brilliant Release!!!!

***** out of 5

 

 

 

Ryan Adams / Prisoner

Prisoner [Explicit]

Ryan Adams (born David Ryan Adams; November 5, 1974) is an American singer-songwriter, musician, record producer, and poet. He is best known for his prolific solo career, during which he has released fifteen albums, and as a former member of alternative country band Whiskeytown, with whom he recorded three studio albums.

In 2000, Adams left Whiskeytown and released his debut solo album, Heartbreaker, to critical acclaim. The album was nominated for the Shortlist Music Prize. The following year, his profile increased with the release of the UK certified-gold Gold, which included the hit single, “New York, New York“. During this time, Adams worked on several unreleased albums, which were consolidated into a third solo release, Demolition (2002). Working at a prolific rate, Adams released the classic rock-influenced Rock N Roll (2003), after a planned album, Love Is Hell, was rejected by his label Lost Highway. As a compromise, Love Is Hell was released as two EPs and eventually released in its full-length state in 2004.

After breaking his wrist during a live performance, Adams took a short-lived break, and formed The Cardinals, a backing band that would accompany him on four of his next studio albums. In 2009, following the release of Cardinology (2009), Adams disbanded The Cardinals and announced an extended break from music due to complications from Ménière’s disease. The following year, however, Adams resumed performing and released his Glyn Johns-produced thirteenth studio album, Ashes & Fire, in 2011. The album peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard 200. In September 2014, Adams released his fourteenth album, Ryan Adams, on his own PAX AM label, and formed a new backing band, The Shining, to support the release.

In 2015, Adams released 1989 a song-for-song cover of Taylor Swift‘s album of the same name, and worked on up to eighty songs for an album influenced by his divorce from his wife Mandy Moore. The release, Prisoner, was announced in late 2016.

Prisoner is the sixteenth studio album by American singer-songwriter Ryan Adams. It was released on February 17, 2017. The album is Adams’ first album of original material since his 2014 album, Ryan Adams, and was preceded by the singles “Do You Still Love Me?”, “To Be Without You”, and “Doomsday”.

The Analysis—-

Do You Still Love Me?—-From the very opening strains that greet you with this release, the melancholy almost bristles. Adams enters with a bit of an aggressive vocal that is almost in contrast with the mellow feel of the music underneath the slight bombast of the guitars and drums. The message is clear and fills me with a slight ache….incredible songwriting and delivery. I could totally hear Tom Petty singing this song!

Prisoner—-Jaunty and damn pleasant from the first note….the vocal is so distinctive…welcome and familiar. I smile with the irony of the lyrics and the gentle delivery that is somewhat surrounded by biting words. The Springsteen strains are unmistakable…..a damn good track.

Doomsday—-With the harmonica playing and the lazy guitar strumming, again you can understand the Bruce comparisons. This is a huge song…despite the lack of volume and energy. There is a really nice ghostly edge to the song. I love this….really need to investigate more of the albums he has released…..16 so far…..WOW!!!

Haunted House—-Really conjuring up a nice mix between Petty/Dylan and Springsteen, this has an incredible lonely and ghostly feel to the music and vocal. The overblown music of today should take notice that more is not necessarily better. The chorus of this track tends to live in your brain even after one simple listen. This is remarkable songwriting and musicianship.

Shiver & Shake—-Beautiful and stark…a nice ‘story song’ that sounds right off of Nebraska. The lyrics are so vivid…it is easy to put yourself right inside of the song. Adams delivers his finest vocal on this release so far on this track. Sadness and loneliness are easy to find here. It is impossible not to feel every word.

To Be Without You—-A bit more upbeat and country tinged, the vocal enters and puts you right back in the place Adams must have been when he recorded this set of songs. The track has a welcoming familiar sound to it….it is easy to imagine it playing constantly during the rough days we all have from time to time. This is exquisite music…delivered with mastery and emotion.

Anything I Say To You Now—-A bit more raucous and energetic, the guitar is more electric and filled with a nice energy. I like the melody line that runs through the bottom of the song. The vocal seems a little buried to me….the music …loud over the top of it. But still fantastic and intense.

Breakdown—-Returning to the acoustic feel of much of the record, the vocal is once again back in front of the mix and filled with angst and sadness as Adams almost pleads for help in stifling his overwhelming emotion. This is intensely personal and beautiful….you can’t escape the beautifully personal nature of this release.

Outbound Train—-Returning to full on Springsteen mode, this would fit perfectly on any of his releases. The comparison becomes tiresome…I know…but it is not just the music and/or vocal…it is the exquisite ability to tell a story in just over 3 minutes that is also a common denominator. Just a fantastic release…all the way through.

Broken Anyway—-Slight whispery music plays underneath the simple guitar chords that usher in the vocal. The song opens up wider with the onset of the chorus…leaving you wondering if this is the point when Adams finally accepted the defeat that a divorce brings. We are so much the better that he is willing to share such personal things with us.

Tightrope—-The slight echo that runs with the vocal over the scant and naked musical landscape paints a wintry picture of sadness and loneliness for me. Line after line of pain and angst makes you take pause and try to digest all of the hurt and the disdain for day to day life that you have to face despite whatever personal is happening in your life. This is intense….and damn beautiful.

We Disappear—-Wow……I  almost though I was listening to Petty again as this song opened up….closing out this release with a song that makes you wonder if the bad memories are slowly fading….and the idea of moving on is more possible…..I hope for more optimism in the future…..this will forever live with me as a great journey though. Thanks Ryan!!!

***** 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 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