Erasure / World Be Gone

World Be Gone

Erasure (/ˈrʒər/) are an English synthpop duo, consisting of singer and songwriter Andy Bell and songwriter and keyboardist Vince Clarke. They formed in London, and entered the music scene in 1985 with their debut single “Who Needs Love Like That“. Following the release of their fourth single “Sometimes“, the duo established itself on the UK Singles Chart and became one of the most successful artists of the late 1980s to mid-1990s.

From 1986 to 2007, Erasure achieved 24 consecutive Top 40 hits in the UK, while having three Top 20 hits in the US (on the Billboard Hot 100): “A Little Respect“, “Chains of Love“, and “Always“. By 2009, 34 of their 45 singles and EPs (of which 8 out of the 45 were not chart eligible in the UK) had made the UK Top 40, with 17 climbing into the Top 10. At the 1989 Brit Awards, Erasure won the Brit Award for Best British Group.

The duo are most popular in their native UK and mainland Europe (especially Germany, Denmark and Sweden) and also in South America (especially Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Peru). The band is also popular within the LGBT community, for whom the openly gay Bell has become a gay icon. To date, they have penned over 200 songs and have sold over 25 million albums worldwide.

World Be Gone is the seventeenth studio album by English synthpop duo Erasure. The album was released through Mute Records on 19 May 2017 in the UK, and 20 May 2017 in North America.

The Analysis—-

Love You To The Sky—-With a nice pulsating bass synth line to introduce the track, Bell enters with his vocal…finely tuned and filled with wonderful emotion. This is nice and upbeat…even though the lyrics and the constant repetition seem a bit tired. I love the wizardry of Clarke and his synth….a well practiced delivery here. I love the familiar sounds of Clarke and his machines.

Be Careful What You Wish For!—- With a slower introduction, swirling slow synth lines and a melancholy vocal, I am transported back to the Erasure CD. This is sedate….the vocal layered in delivery and stacked on top of a sedate slow tempo ed synth that makes the track dark and powerful. This is brilliant….the slight echoes….the in control vocal…..the instrumentation…..come together to create a perfect storm.

World Be Gone—-Continuing in the sedate synth delivery and heavy laden lyrics, the band seems very reflective and slightly melancholy on this release. Perhaps they also feel the weight of the world we live in these days. Andy Bell has not delivered such controlled and beautifully structured vocals on an Erasure release in quite sometime. This is brilliant!

A Bitter Parting—-Opening with a rather familiar Clarke synth line, the jaunty and speedy musical delivery is almost void on this release. This continues in the same sedate and reflective vein…wondering what each of these songs mean to the duo. The vocal is very upfront in the mix…the synth taking a back seat as the spotlight shines on the crafted and damn near perfect vocal of Bell.

Still It’s Not Over—-Deep an morose at the onset, the reverb from the dense sound in overwhelming. Bell delivers tales of lost lives and loves….making you wonder what has brought about all this introspection. He references Harvey Milk….The Castro…..the years of the plague. This is a brilliant track….sad and haunting. Just incredible. The melody line of this track is wonderful…..rather addictive despite the heaviness of the song.

Take Me Out Of Myself—-  With a slight higher synth tone, the pace of the song remains much as the majority of this release….dark and plodding. Bell delivers line after line of desperate words that make me inwardly sad. The control in his voice is amazing on this record…..you actually feel every word he sings…the voice overlays gives a nice texture to the song. Brilliant!

Sweet Summer Loving—-Brighter Yaz styled synth introduces the track….nice blips and beeps are dancing around on the song. the track is still slow and mellow…but the feel and the melody line gives me a happier feel….I can almost hear Alison sing this track. This is really nice…beautiful in construction and sentiment…a brighter spot to break things up a bit.

Oh What A World—-A huge hum through my headphones usher in this track…the deep bass is amazing. The vocal enters and for the first time in a long time I am very disappointed with the band. This is mundane and monotonous…..insane in lyrics and lacking a true energy.

Lousy Sum Of Nothing—-With a sight funeral introduction, the synth in more of a hum rather than fully constructed notes. Bell delivers line after line bemoaning the lack of humanity in the world today. The lack of optimism is rather wearing at this point…but it is Erasure…and it is new material. As a life long fan I appreciate the new direction and welcome the ensuing explanation that I am sure is to come.

Just A Little Love—-Ending the release on a refreshing bright and poppy note, the synth lines is faster and the vocal is delivered in a higher more jaunty style. The positive message of the track almost wipes away the dense feel of previous tracks. Bell sounds energized and happy hear and the synth line wraps right around his vocal. A nice ending.

**** 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

 

 

Depeche Mode / Spirit [Deluxe Edition]

Spirit [Explicit]

Depeche Mode /dˌpɛʃˈmd/ are an English electronic band that formed in 1980 in Basildon, Essex. The group consists of founders Dave Gahan (lead vocals, occasional songwriter since 2005), Martin Gore (guitar, keyboards, vocals, main songwriter since 1982), and Andy Fletcher (keyboards, bass guitar). Depeche Mode released their debut album Speak & Spell in 1981, bringing the band onto the British new wave scene. Original band member Vince Clarke (keyboards, guitar, main songwriter from 1980 to 1981), left the band after the release of the album, leaving the band as a trio to record A Broken Frame, released the following year. Gore took over the lead songwriting duties and, later in 1982, Alan Wilder (keyboards, drums, bass guitar, occasional songwriter) officially joined the band to fill Clarke’s spot, establishing a line up that would continue for the next 13 years. Depeche Mode have been a trio again since 1995, when Wilder left.

The band’s last albums of the 1980s, Black Celebration and Music for the Masses, established them as a dominant force on the mainstream electronic music scene. A highlight of this era was the band’s concert at the Pasadena Rose Bowl, where they drew a crowd in excess of 70,000 people. In the new decade, Depeche Mode released Violator, a mainstream success. The subsequent album, Songs of Faith and Devotion, and the supporting Devotional Tour exacerbated tensions within the band to the point where Alan Wilder quit in 1995, leading to intense media and fan speculation that the band would split. Now a trio once again, the band released Ultra in 1997, recorded at the height of Gahan’s near-fatal drug abuse, Gore’s alcoholism and seizures, and Fletcher’s depression. The release of Exciter confirmed Depeche Mode’s willingness to remain together, the subsequent, and very successful, Exciter Tour being their first tour in support of an original album in eight years since the Devotional Tour, although the band had toured in 1998 to support The Singles 86–98 compilation album.

Depeche Mode have had 50 songs in the UK Singles Chart and thirteen top 10 albums in the UK chart; they have sold over 100 million records worldwide.

Spirit is the fourteenth studio album by the English electronic music band Depeche Mode, released on 17 March 2017 through Columbia Records. It was preceded by the single “Where’s the Revolution“.  Spirit is the band’s second album released under Columbia. Depeche Mode recorded it with new producer James Ford.

The Analysis—-

Going Backwards—-With trepidation and excitement, I hit the play button on a long awaited release. The opening strains are very guitar based….little in the way of swirls and synths until the song progresses. Dave Gahan enters with his trademark baritone and gives the song a very bleak feel….aided by the darker than dark lyrics and general lack of optimism. The song speaks vividly to the current times wonderfully well….a nice beginning.

Where’s The Revolution?—-The first proper release from the album, this lead off single is not much brighter in terms of musical landscape or lyrical content. The familiar Depeche Mode synth sounds are here…the gentle ‘creaking’ found in many of their songs. Gahan spreads his words out in long wails……then the song opens up with a huge anthemic chorus that inspires and begs people to pay attention to the things going on around them. This is fantastic…..the train is coming…..get on board!!!

The Worst Crime—-Keyboard based with a gentle and sad vocal at the onset, the musical landscape sounds bleak and naked. The feeling of the song is so stark and lacking any defining synth line…instead the music produces a thick, dark and lonely fog for you to dig your way out of…..not a favorite track…the plodding goes on a bit to long.

Scum—-With a bit of a livelier synth line, Dave enters with a distorted almost Industrial style vocal that is run through a processor. the lyrical content on this entire release is very dark and intense. I wonder who this song could be directed to….this entire album has huge political overtones.

You Move—-Continuing in the same vein as the rest of this release, the strains of this song lack any real musical bright spots…the sound is very layered and dark. The chorus enters and the strains of the synth are a bit livelier…and Gahan has moved into the upper register of his voice….as the track continues it does have bright poppy moments….much needed at this point.

Cover Me—-Filled with a bleak edge to it at the onset, this is airy despite the dark feeling of the lyrics. The synth effects give off a gentle puff of fog as it enters the landscape of the song…Gahan sounds sad and tortured here. The song left me feeling sad and lonely…but somehow hopeful. Really nice.

Eternal—-This comes from the fog with an almost Church like synth line…Gahan sings almost in acapella fashion as the music is so stark and naked. The sadness and intensity of the lyrics and vocals leave me in a less than bright place in my own psyche…Not a favorite track…..a bit too intense.

Poison Heart—-I like this right from the onset…..although the music is full of plodding beats and mundane synth lines, the vocal…delivered at that higher tone gives the song a brighter feel. at some points in the song, the synth lines threaten to become a bit noisy…..how magical. A really great effort from the Kings Of Gloom!

So Much Love—-Jaunty and noisy, this is a nice surprise right out of the gate, Gahan almost struts with his vocal…I can see him now! This is a fantastic track…I predict this could be the second single. The synth lines are excellent…little blips and beeps appear from nowhere and what sounds like a female vocal on the chorus gives the song a nice body. This is a favorite…really great effort.

Poorman—-This has a nice intro sound that hearkens back to the earlier days of the band. Gahan enters again with a vocal that seem a bit manipulated as do the guitars that are heard. This speaks to poverty…the daily grind of street people and the battles they face on a regular basis. This is social awareness put to music. Brilliant.

No More [This Is The Last Time]—-Although this has a dark tone to it, the airy synth line and the big chorus line gives a remarkable life to the song…this is in contention as another single I think. Gahan sounds rested and in the best voice I have heard him in a very long time. This is a truly brilliant, classic Depeche Mode track,

Fail—-Rounding out the proper release with another stark and almost naked rack, Gahan sings in a pleasant croon that tries to belie the meaning and feel of the song. This is dark and leaves you a bit hopeless….question as you do everyday the meaning of our lives…where we have been and where we might end up, Sometimes the ‘croon’ on the vocal makes me think of classic Bowie.

Cover Me [Alt Out]—-A bit more jaunty and synth laden, this is nice. The blips and the beeps that ride over the top of the foggy synth line are really nice…gives the song a much fuller body than the original. with just wisps of the vocal on the song….this is a phenomenal instrumental journey….EXCELLENT!!!

Scum [Frenetic Mix]—-again, this track becomes much livelier in a remixed form. The synth lines like quick, sharp snaps of a whip at your backside. There are times where everything falls away and the song sounds completely naked…but over-all…I love the sound of this…stark yet powerful.

Poison Heart [Tripped Mix]—-Ominous and dense with toy piano sounds introduce the song….Gahan is back with a vocal on this remix,,,sounding even more manipulated and dense then ever. This is layered with coat after coat of the blackest paint you can find. Not a favorite track…but it is pretty true to form.

Fail [Cinematic Mix]—-Full of static and magnificent darkness, the song has these little slivers of light that magically shine through the trees in the deep woods…giving direction and hope. This is wonderfully thick with sound and reverb. A masterful remix.

So Much Love [Machine Mix]—-Again, a bit of a livelier introduction than the original…the song seems stuck on a never ending loop that takes forever to begin. slowly new sounds and wisps of vocal are introduced…but overall…the song is dense in effects and lacks a true brightness. I don’t hate this…but I would pass over it during a casual listen.

**** 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