Ghost / Prequelle

Prequelle

Ghost is a Swedish rock band that was formed in LinköpingSweden in 2006. In 2010, they released a 3-track demo followed by a 7″ vinyl titled “Elizabeth“, and later their debut full-length album Opus Eponymous. The Grammis-nominated album was widely praised and significantly increased their popularity. Their second album and major label debut Infestissumam was released in 2013, debuted at number one in Sweden, and won the Grammis Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Album. The band released their third studio album, Meliora, in 2015, to much critical acclaim and high record sales, reaching number one in their home country of Sweden, and number eight in the United States. Its lead single, “Cirice“, earned them the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance. The band released their fourth studio album, Prequelle, in 2018.

Ghost is easily recognizable owing greatly to its eccentric on-stage presence. Five of the group’s six members, its ‘Nameless Ghouls’,  wear virtually identical, face-concealing costumes. Prior to a 2017 lawsuit filed by former members of the band, lead singer Tobias Forge obscured his identity behind the character “Papa Emeritus”. The character, which consists of Forge in a prosthetic mask and makeup can be best described as a ‘demonic anti-pope’.  The Papa Emeritus Character has gone through four incarnations – I, II, III, and Nihil. As of the 2018 album Prequelle and subsequent world tour, Forge portrays a character known as “Cardinal Copia”, who is described as being unrelated to any of the Papa Emeritus characters and whose costume consists of either Cardinal vestments or a black tuxedo alongside a prosthetic mask with black eyemakeup and the multi-colored eyes which had been present in each Papa characte.

Prequelle is the fourth studio album by Swedish rock band Ghost. It was released on June 1, 2018 and produced by Tom Dalgety. The album’s first single, “Rats“, was released ahead of the album on April 13, and as of June, had peaked at number four on the BillboardMainstream Rock Songs chart. The album marked the band’s strongest selling debut to date, landing at number 3 on the Billboard 200, selling 66,000 copies in its first week, with 61,000 of those being “traditional” album sales.

The album’s theme focuses on Medieval times and the Black Death along with more modern themes.

The Analysis—-

Ashes—-Eerie from the onset, this is typical Ghost….turning a harmless nursery rhyme into something twisted and then morphing magically into…..

Rats—-This track…..full of contradictions…lyrically dark and eerie…but the sound is so accessible and listenable. Full of huge harmonies, powerful guitars and an unforgettable melody line, this will lay in tour head for days. The double tracked vocals really wrap the song into the most accessible track they have ever produced. This is phenomenal.

Faith—-A nice powerful soaring guitar intro, the chug chug of the bass line shows up right after the intro. Tobias enters with his accessible vocal….you can catch every word from this band and let it sink into your brain. This is again, full of perfect harmonies and a melody line that is contagious as hell. The middle break of the song is nice….keeping the ‘metal’ cred in tact. This is fantastic…the band has outdone itself with this release.

See The Light—-Such a gentle intro, you just sit back and question how you can possibly categorize this band in any genre. This just does not fit in perfectly anywhere!! There are perfect pop moments hear…as well as pure symphonic metal moments as well. Combine all of this with a pitch perfect vocal and you just sit back and shake your head in amazement. This is just about as perfect as it can get.

Miasma—-Dank, dark and full of an underlying eerie-ness, the intro to this is fantastic. The song kicks into a nice gear shortly after and has many of the metal elements I require from this band. The guitars produce a soaring melody that is infectious and electric. This is pure perfection. A great song placement as well…it ‘breaks’ up the album really well.

Dance Macabre—-Remarkable right from the onset, the track is heavily dipped in the sound of the 80’s while still managing to sound fresh and brand new. The lyrics….the singing….the melody and harmony is so damn addictive and accessible…..for me, one of the best things the band has ever done…this is a magical moment on this release.

Pro Memoria—-Swells of a slight symphonic movement opens the song….dense and layered with musical emotion…you feel like you stepped into a soundtrack. Then Tobias enters and utters Lucifer and you realize the slight hilarity of all the contradictions from this band. This is not a happy-go-lucky song….but the delivery is so damn pleasant you can’t help but to fall in love with the damn thing. Just incredible.

Witch Image—-Returning to a more predictable and familiar sound, the intro begins and falls away to allow for the vocal. the song leans on pop-rock elements at every turn. The harmonies and melody are exquisite…..sounding like an updated Pink Floyd. The magic is the voice and the contradiction of the lyrics….this is so dark….but so damn pleasant. I’m in a whirlwind.

Helevetesfonster—-Exquisite flutes open the track…in the back ground a slight deep rumble lies around. The melody line from the instrument is so damn magical…it lulls you into an almost trance like state. The drums enter…but never enter the beauty of the instrumentation. This is huge….masterful and delivered with an incredible finesse’. There are so many ‘prog’ like movements in this instrumental…..it’s like the glory days of the 70’s Prog movement.

Life Eternal—-Stripped down to almost bare bones, the only instrument at the onset is the gentle keyboard joined with the vocal. The track opens up a bit…but still remains a rather melancholic love song to princes or princesses of darkness. This is superb. I hate to see this all end so soon. A remarkable release.

**** out of 5

Nightwish / Decades

Decades

Nightwish is a symphonic metal band from KiteeFinland. The band was formed in 1996 by lead songwriter and keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen, guitarist Emppu Vuorinen, and former lead singer Tarja Turunen. The band soon picked up drummer Jukka Nevalainen, and then bassist Sami Vänskä after the release of their debut album, Angels Fall First (1997). In 2001, Vänskä was replaced by Marco Hietala, who also took over the male vocalist role previously filled by Holopainen or guest singers.

Although Nightwish have been prominent in their home country since Angels Fall First, they did not achieve worldwide fame until the release of the albums Oceanborn (1998), Wishmaster (2000) and Century Child (2002). Their 2004 album, Once, has sold more than one million copies and was the band’s breakthrough in the United States. Their biggest US hit single, “Wish I Had an Angel” (2004), received MTV airplay and was included on three US film soundtracks to promote their North American tour. The band produced three more singles and two music videos for Once, as well as a re-recording of “Sleeping Sun” for the “Best of Nightwish” compilation album, Highest Hopes (2005), before Turunen’s dismissal in October 2005. Her last performance with Nightwish was during a concert recorded for the live album/DVD End of an Era. After the concert, the other members informed Turunen with an open letter that she was no longer a member of Nightwish.

In May 2007, Nightwish announced Anette Olzon as Turunen’s replacement. That September, the band released their sixth album, Dark Passion Play, which has sold almost 2 million copies. The album’s lead single, “Amaranth“, became one of Nightwish’s most successful in Europe. The supporting tour, one of the band’s largest, started on October 6, 2007 and ended on September 19, 2009. The band released an EP/live album, Made in Hong Kong (And in Various Other Places), in March 2009 as a CD/DVD, and their seventh studio album, Imaginaerum, was released globally on various days in late 2011/early 2012.

On October 1, 2012, Nightwish announced that they had parted ways with Olzon and would be finishing the tour with ReVamp and former After Forever vocalist Floor JansenIn October 2013, Nightwish made Jansen and longtime session uillean pipes player Troy Donockley permanent members of the band, and they were featured in the acclaimed album Endless Forms Most Beautiful, released on March 27, 2015.

Nightwish is the third-best-selling band and musical entity in Finland with certified sales of nearly 900,000 certifiedcopies. The group is also the most successful Finnish band worldwide, selling more than 9 million records and receiving more than 60 gold and platinum awards, having released five Number 1 albums and thirteen Number 1 singles.

Decades is the seventh compilation album from Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish, and contains remastered versions of the original material. It was released on March 9, 2018, which is the same day that they began touring for the Decades: World Tour.

The Analysis—-

The Greatest Show On Earth—-Wow….what can you really say about this epic piece of music? Please note that this ‘song’ clocks in at a whopping 24 minutes in length and plays like a modern day symphony piece. This has complete movements and moods….as the music takes you through a complete set of emotions. The strings and the urgent pace of the underlying music is just fantastic. The song truly plays like a movie soundtrack to me. The vocal that finally erupts at about 6 minutes is not as you would expect if you are a follower of the band…although it does clear and becomes much more clear and epic as it continues. The song…once you get to the meat of the damn thing is addictive as hell. The nice mix between the clean and the rougher vocals keeps your attention. This is epic-ally brilliant.

Elan—-With a brilliant and immediately recognizable intro, the flute that begins the entire thing is just perfect. There is a wonderful mix of metal and beauty all mixed in here together. You would never think such a thing would work…but it does…and brilliantly well. The vocal wraps around your head…while the music gives you a huge energetic boost. This is masterful.

My Walden—-With a huge almost pop inspired intro, the guitars sing in an upward arc that sucks your brain in from the first note. The music settle to allow for the vocal….and then comes right back at you as the chorus smacks your forehead and settles in for a day or so. This recipe works so well…..Tarja was brilliant…..and continues to be so.
Storytime—-Airy and wonderfully constructed, the keyboard ushers in guitars and drums that take the song to a faster and bit heavier sound. The music stays strong despite the entrance of the ‘pretty’ vocal…..the song still comes across as muscular and driving. The voice just soars with a melody of the chorus that is instantly devoured. the strings are incredible…perfectly mixed with huge guitars to create a curtain that you have never seen hanging before…..just brilliant.
I Want My Tears Back—-With Tuomas offering the entrance vocal, the music has a slight bagpipe sound to it that is accessible and addictive. Sometimes the vocal is almost too pretty…..suffering at time like Kate Bush did on some of her recordings. The chorus is huge…full of muscular crashes and guitars and more vocals from Tuomas. This is brilliant when they combine the voices…something I wish they did more often in the early days.
Amaranth—-What can I say about this track that I have not already said. It has had a long life…and still stands the test of time for me. The vocal is so strong and well delivered…matched perfectly with the aggression of the guitars. The combination that this band managed to develop is just remarkable. This is a track that will always be a favorite of mine…especially when the vocal switch happens and the tracks takes on an even more meal direction…this is magical.
The Poet And The Pendulum—-Seeming to meld from the previous track, this is epic in scope and length…..at over 13 minutes long. The track is layered and full of movements that lull you into a dreamy state as you find it easy to become one with the song. This is remarkably well done. I love the swells of the strings…the urgency of the music….the epic soundtrack feel to the symphonic feel. This is brilliance on a piece of plastic to enjoy forever. I love this band.
Nemo—-Another instantly recognizable tracks that will live for a very long time. The voice is like no other…delivered with beauty and practice….the ability to wrap itself around aggression but still remain beautiful is simply amazing. Even though there is all this stuff happening in the backdrop of the song….the voice literally rides on top of everything and remains true…crystal clear and full of beauty. What a band!
Wish I Had An Angel—-Perhaps the most ‘famous’ Nightwish song, this never gets old or sounds aged. I literally love this track to death. This was my introduction to the band and I have never stopped collecting them since then This strikes a chord with me. It combines beauty and power magically well….and still plays like it is brand new to me. A perfect blend of vocals with Tuomas adding in a rougher edge to the song….allows it to become huge. This is brilliant.
Ghost Love Score—-Brilliant in scope…a nice jaunty and masterful intro full of bright strings and swells……matched by a muscular guitar delivery creates a perfect storm. The song takes a nice turn…becoming a bit more metal before falling away for the almost too sweet vocal. But the chorus…a band effort….escalates the song to new highs again. This is fabulous.
Slaying The Dreamer—-Much more Metal right at the onset, this is big and a bit boisterous for this entity. The vocal is even lacking that pretty edge…sounding a bit more aggressive and driving. This is fantastic….the moods come and go…..but you never lose the urgency of the song. This is really nice…I love the great guitars. Tuomas makes this a great freakin track
End Of All Hope—-Beginning like a huge epic symphony movement of voices and sounds, the guitars enter and turn the track into a literal masterpiece. Again, sometimes the voice is almost too pretty for the huge and muscular delivery from the band…but somehow, they always manage to settle things out in the aftermath and deliver a masterpiece of a song. This is a well oiled machine that never seems to fail.
10th Man Down—-Creaking ship sounds and atmosphere take you right into the heart of the song. The music builds slowly…giving you a sense of anticipation….and the entire thing becomes the rhythmic Metal kind of thing. I don’t really care for the vocal here….but it is passable. The chorus vocal is almost drowned out by the aggressive music…perhaps a production misstep…..but still great none the less.
The Kingsslayer —-A nice return to the epic and huge Nightwish sound, the guitars are literally blazing on this joint. There is an urgency and speed to the music that is perfect for me. Even the vocal comes at you as if in an emergency situation. This is a huge song….delivered with perfection and emotion that keeps you on the edge of your seat with energy. Wonderful.
Dead Boy’s Poem—-I hate to say it…but I have to…..there is nothing about this track that inspires or moves me. I’m not really even sure why it is on here…this is not a shining moment for the band…in mu opinion….I remain unmoved.
Gethsemane—-Blazing back with this keyboard heavy track, there is a perfect combination between the keys and the guitars….with the vocal soaring over your head. Again…there is a nice urgency and muscularity to the song….it is full of driving riffs and excellent drums. a perfect storm once again blows from the homeland.
Devil & The Deep Dark Ocean—-Large in sound and filled with driving drums that are just incredible. The male vocal that begins the entire thing is in such sharp contrast that it puts me off a bit. I’m really not into the evil sound of the vocal…it puts me off a bit…sounds more like German Industrial than my beloved band.
Sacrament Of Wilderness—-Here we have a ice return to the more familiar……upfront keyboards and incredible drums…..a huge guitar line that drives the song to new heights…..a vocal that literally soars above your head….it all comes together to create an epic composition….and there I go….in love once again.
Sleeping Sun—-Beautifully constructed and moody, I love this. The vocal is so well delivered…filling you with epic emotions. there is a nice double tracking on the voice that gives the song an even more full bodied sound. This is really nice…..the swells of music suck you into a daze that allows you to daydream and catch every single word at the same time.
Elevenpath—-Beginning a bit dark and mysterious, the song becomes epic with huge guitars and barely a string or oboe to be heard. The vocal…delivered in a deeper tone is really nice…this plays like some huge fairy tale that takes place in the deep forest……oh those foreigners….lol.
The Carpenter—-This takes a bit to get used to…but settles into your brain with remarkable ease. The blend of voices add a new dimension to the song….the low male vocal sounds like an Alternative band from the 90’s…the the chorus hits and everything opens up….this is perfect.
Nightwish [Demo]—-For a demo, it is apparent the vision of the band and of Toumas was clear….because of course he is the true leader of the band without any doubt. the stripped down feel is very nice and leaves me only wanting even more new materail from the band. This has been an epic journey for me….I remain…truly in love with this band.
*****out of 5

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

 

 

 

 

 

Borknagar / Winter Thrice

Winter Thrice

Borknagar is a progressive black metal band from Bergen, Norway, founded in 1995 by Øystein Garnes Brun. The band’s style combines black metal and folk metal with progressive and melodic elements. Borknagar’s lyrics often deal with philosophypaganismnature, and the cosmos.

Winter Thrice is the tenth studio album by the Norwegian band Borknagar.

The Analysis—-

The Rhymes Of The Mountain—-Epic in sound right from the onset, the vocal that emerges is amazing. The edge of the vocal is rough, but accessible enough to allow even the casual listener to become intrigued. The drums here are amazing. The vocal play…between the pleasant clean snaps and then the surprise guttural rants keeps me really interested. This is fantastic.

Winter Thrice—-I really love moody music….I mean you can almost feel the coldness as this track begins. I love the drums as usual…the vocal here reminds me of the clean vocals from Dimmu Borgir…..so high and clear. The guitars come and go….sharp blasts and then an almost acoustic sound as the song progresses. This is epic…. the song is huge…I can’t imagine this live! As usual the song takes a turn for the dark as the Death Metal quell enters midstream…..really nice.

Cold Runs The River—-Much more aggressive right from the onset, I love this song. The vocal is brutal…seeming to be driven to madder limits by the relentless drums. The clean vocal does emerge…but the star of the show on this track is the aggressive nature of the music. The instrumentation is so thick…it just seems to swell and swell…this is literally fantastic. My favorite track on this release.

Panorama—-Returning to a more orchestral intro, the epic swells of music are magnificent. I really don’t care for the opening vocals here…it all seems mechanical and uninspired. It is the music that makes this song so incredible. The keyboards are incredible…and the drums always steal the show with this band. This song really does get better as the song progresses.

When Chaos Calls—-A gentle keyboard opens up this track before pure musical mayhem ensues. The clean vocal has a nice demented delivery to it…the drums…so fuckin fast I have whiplash. This is moody in it’s own way…but the band begins to suffer from the ‘sameness syndrome’ after a bit on this release. Thank God for the Death Metal elements that emerge here and there to keep everything a little more interesting. Sometimes this bands music just sounds like on long continuous song.

Erodent—-At this point in the release,and I don’t want to sound hyper-critical, this just sounds all the same to me. The music is very very, to much, consistent. I wish I could get an entire track with just the eerie, maniacal death rattle vocal. The clean vocal rarely has any musical differentials…everything seems to be in the same note. I would like a soaring scream here and there.

Noctilucent—-Slow and measured from the very first note, this is an even track. The music is fairly sedate and reminds me of a very peaceful, cold dark night. The sounds from the keyboards are incredible..it’s amazing what you can produce with a good machine. This is nice. The vocal finally enters….delivering much the same as we have had thus far…nothing new…this would have been a great instrumental track…in my opinion.

Terminus—-YES…..brutal and aggressive right from the first note…this is what I needed from this band. The dirty vocal [if you will] is extraordinary and driving. Much to soon everything is interrupted by a slower pace and the clean vocal…but the mayhem returns. I am very thankful for the variance in the sound of the song. You never quite know what to expect…I like this a lot.

Bonus Track:

Dominate Winds—-Really offering very little new, you can definitely say this band is very consistent in sound. This track sounds like the first…third and 8th. The variance is so minimal…it leaves me empty. I need a little differential to keep my attention. this release for me…was a disappointment.

**3/4 out of 5

 

 

 

 

Dragonforce / Reaching Into Infinity [Special Edition]

Reaching into Infinity (Special Edition)

DragonForce are a British power metal band based in LondonEngland. Formed in 1999, the group are known for their long and fast guitar solosfantasy-themed lyrics, and electronic sounds in their music to add to their retro video game-influenced sound. DragonForce have released seven studio albums, two live albums, one compilation album, one live DVD and one demo.

Reaching into Infinity was released on May 19, 2017.

The Analysis—-

Reaching Into Infinity—-The classic intro teaser for every Dragonforce release, the guitars soar..accompanied by a marching drum sound that slowly and melodically introduces….

Ashes Of The Dawn—-The intro of the song dumps you right back into familiar territory with the band. The lightening fast guitars, the soaring chords…the keyboard that provide the progressive feel. The vocal is crystal clear and so damn pleasant. This is a fantastic track. I never get tired of this band.  The chorus of the song is incredible…threatening to live in your brain forever. This is classic and fantastic.

Judgement Day—-Building from the mist, at the onset this does not sound like a Metal track at all…..but it is not long before the speed and the classic Metal Mayhem evolves. The song is so damn fast…I can’t understand how the vocalist stays on track. The melody of the song is incredible…even with the barrage of instrumentation…the melody never disappears. One of my favorite tracks from this band thus far in their career. This is EPIC!

Astral Empire—-Giving you no time to collect yourself or catch your breath…again we are off and running at a break neck speed that seems humanly impossible. The melody line here is a bit more muddled…carried by the vocalist rather than Li….but it is still epic…with the chorus that sucks you in and live with you. This recipe the band had concocted in undeniable…..no other band like this on earth.

Curse Of Darkness—-Huge epic guitar chords and soaring keyboards introduce the track…a bit slower with a progressive marching feel that becomes ingratiated again in your soul. The smart and intelligent lyrics make the track even better. This is fantastic…the vocal literally soars over top of the music at times…with a beautifully constructed melody that makes you shiver with pleasure.

Silence—-A gentle guitar introduces the track…..a bit of darkness to the feel of the song. The ballad inspired track is fantastic…there are double tracked vocals….the chorus is literally huge! The slowed down tempo is a welcome change…song placement is everything. This is delivered with genuity and a flavor that pulls me in and makes me a die-hard fan all over again. The vocal is outstanding. I love this band!

Midnight Madness—-It still amazes me, after all of these years how a band can play so incredibly fast for such an extended amount of time. This vocal is incredible…..how the hell does he keep up the pace of the music. The lyrics are so intelligent and well constructed…every single track is a huge epic story. I love the intensity and genuity of this band. Even though the music is VERY consistent…I never seem to tire of the songs coming at you so fast. This is incredible!

War!—-A darker and more intense feel to the song from the onset, the guitars are not as bright until the second bar…and then the song opens up into a full fledged sonic assault. Even the vocal is delivered in an almost thrash manner…the song reminding me of early Metallica….but the melody and the chorus remains addictive and a reminder of the band you are listening to. The voice on this track is one of the best on this release…the notes this dude hits are freakin’ amazing. I stand and remain in awe!

Land Of Shattered Dreams—-Remaining incredibly consistent and awesome, this track suffers a bit….the sameness after this long becomes like one song…but the breaks in the music and the different melodies line manage to keep me from becoming to bored. This is nice……but suffers a tiny bit.

The Edge Of The World—-Wow….11 minutes…..who is this, Iron Maiden…lol. Beginning rather gentle, you just know that this will be an epic track. Indeed..it does not disappoint. The power chords are huge…the speed comes and goes n a nice ebb and flow. The track is so epic it is rather hard to explain. This is Progressive Music at it’s best. The mood shifts. the intensity, the lyrical content are all perfect landmarks of the band. The soaring voice…the exquisite guitars, the huge drums….I could never ask for more from one band….EVER!!! The real shock for me came with the guttural Death Metal vocal at the midpoint of the song…..this track gives you everything in one sitting…This was a HUGE surprise.

Our Final Stand—-Ending the proper release much as it started, the band delivers a consistent and magical closing track that leaves a great taste in your mouth and anxiously awaiting the next output from this incredible set of musicians. Exquisite!

Bonus Tracks—-

Hatred And Revenge—-Nothing shocking or surprising here…just more exquisite Metal from an excellent band that can deliver anything with a moments notice. This is epic…the chorus is just incredible….leaving me jubilant and exhausted with spent energy. This is just brilliant!

Evil Dead—-Bringing this incredible release to full rest, the soaring guitars and blistering musical delivery are classic reminders of the diversity of the band. The Thrash style delivery of the song is just incredible….sounding even better than the original. This band seems able to do anything…this is just fucking incredible…the energy…the delivery…the chord changes…the voice……I’m in love!!!

***** 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 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