Saturday, 30 May 2009

Frequency is gripping, tasteful and all the more memorable. Consistency is easily found on each number, with enough proggy up and downs that keep things moving.

There is no ethic to push the genre forward with radical forward-thinking on the album, but the twists and intricate musicianship displayed best on tracks “Frequency”, and “Life Support”, certainly add depth to the record. Rooted to a more dated, classic prog-rock approach, without attempting to break any ground raise an awareness of detracting ambition. IQ have played it very safe on Frequency, and even though each track has its marvelling moments, other passages are all too stale, with the cobwebs of archaic song writing being very present. Nicholls vocal work on Frequency is particularly impressive, adding an important dynamic to IQ’s music, that command and tether progressions together effortlessly.

Frequency is certainly not a just release geared toward the fan, as from the get-go, headbangers that make an acquaintance, will note a package evocative, solid and worthwhile.


Posted by Posted by Andy at 1:27 pm
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Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Comprised of everything Scandinavian, "Wearing A Martyr’s Crown" is made up of melodic guitars, belching vocals, double kicks, and its fair share of acoustic guitar passages. For the fan, the record may saturate for years to come, but for the neutral, Wearing A Martyr’s Crown sounds dangerously close to early Arch Enemy, Inflames and Children Of Bodom – actually it initially appears to be an arranged "Black Earth". In 1996, and still to this day many herald Black Earth as a Scandinavian masterpiece, and with partial reiterations in 2009 still happening, this point is further cemented. This also highlights the genres biggest problems. Much like London’s drum and bass scene, Scandinavian metal has never had the ability to progress from the late nineties, without becoming something entirely different. Herein lays Nightrage’s biggest problem. They sound specifically the same as their precursors.

However, there is credit were its due. As you would expect, song writing is solid with enough twists that’ll certainly retain attention spans. The performances are among some of the most mesmeric heard in years. Production values are kept suitably high, that help showcase their compositions clearly. It’s just such a pity that Wearing A Martyr’s Crown is just another addition to the obese genre, and almost a non-respective one at best. To add, you wouldn’t have been surprised to see Nightrage add the masterstroke to push the genre forward; which makes Wearing A Martyr’s Crown that more disappointing. Maybe we’ve been listening to cover bands for the past 13 years?


Posted by Posted by Andy at 12:24 am
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Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Initially, Inferno appears to have more in common with the pretentious IDM faithful than the metallic hardcore. The introduction to Pompa Magna, “bar / bar / bar minimizer,” is almost entirely electronic, that hints at what’s to come and glints at Inferno’s electronic capabilities. Newcomers to Inferno might find worth in noting that this introduction has little in common with the remaining numbers; except for the remainder having restrained synths, odd time signatures, noisy vocals and hectic song structures. The majority of the release combines all of the above, along with distorted guitars and energetic drum takes, that loosely reminisces, “Sonic Syndicate,” and “Dillinger Escape Plan”.

Inferno’s experimental backbone tailor the act to be an assault on the ear, rather than a group bolstered delivering on great song writing. What’s unfortunate on Pompa Magna, is Inferno’s lacklustre song writing with depth untouched and riff progressions non-cohesive. This quintet will throw themes familiar and mostly unfamiliar at you, but do so with little construction and cement. That’s not say that this isn’t a valiant effort; it’s just parried by other innovative artists too easily.


Posted by Posted by Andy at 12:32 pm
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Saturday, 16 May 2009

A New Constellation,” is a mish mash of many themes. The belching vocal, padded synth and progressive guitar are just at the heart of the experience. At times, there is a fusion psychedelics that formulate into a metal entry. Other times, Nahema will catch you off guard with a saxophone line breaking into a rock chorus. The genius of “A New Constellation,” is how such elements appear to blend with ease and elegance. The problems? The record has potential to be masterful, but it just isn’t.

With such depth musically, it’s easy to point out highlights on each track as so much riffing is present. “A New Constellation,” tends to stay very safe progressively, as it showcases a very conventional watered-down approach to prog song writing. And whilst this does point to a detracting ambition, Nahema’s more ‘simplified with different instrumentation’ philosophy appears very solid and albeit, very fresh. There are very memorable moments on the record and equally, there many worth forgetting. “A New Constellation,” is a much more than average release that will raise a few eyebrows, only to be brushed aside by others.

Posted by Posted by Andy at 12:07 am
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Thursday, 14 May 2009

If there’s one chip lying on the shoulders of emo rock/metal, it’s that the vocal and lyrical melodramatics often lack a dignity found in anything beyond the genre. Hand To Hand’s latest, “Design The End/Follow The Horizon” is a traditional emo-metal entry, that’s unfortunately not as deep or cryptic as the title states (unless you’re undergoing the similar harmonic stress as a pregnant woman). Nonetheless, some of the antics are plausible, if only for a brief moment, as they do showcase an ambition for a more mature approach to the genre, whilst not breaking any new ground.

The album consists of 10 tracks that are written in typical fashion. Production values are retained to a high commercial standard, which ultimately helps tether their song writing superior, compared to what’s available. You’ll also find the usual melodic vocal and guitar to be at the heart of the experience. This too, is were most of their problems are felt. With no sense of atmosphere to lend a hand, the aforementioned vocal and guitar need to capture the subjective themes expressed. Unfortunately with such immature lyrical values, and obvious clumsy guitar riffing, “Hand To Hand” fail to seduce. Furthermore, the albums commercial aesthetics help it become so repetitive, that there is no value in repeat play. A worthwhile miss, unless you’re a no-sensibilities fan.


Posted by Posted by Andy at 12:11 pm
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Saturday, 9 May 2009

"Planetary Duality" arrives, and the promotional sticker reads “For fans of Cynic, Meshuggah and Necrophagist” (not in that particular order). It’s unfair; if only too brief a glance at what’s really within the record. Sure, there’s a flirt with the vocal vocoder (like Cynic), the sweaty dexterous guitar riffing (like Necrophagist) and odd time signatures (like Meshuggah). However, we would be doing you a great disservice if we mentioned that, that’s about it. You’ll find when scratching the surface, the Faceless are pulling strings in such an organic way, that "Planetary Duality" feels unique even when all of it has been heard before. The album sets a benchmark for their German (if otherwise) counterparts, with a technical mastery that’ll easily make the competition blush.

"Planetary Duality" is a brisk affair with the entire record wrapping up in just over 30 minutes. That’s not to detract or defunct in anyway – it’s difficult to imagine such detail in technicality exceeding the 35 minute barrier. Straight off the bat, you’ll soon discover that the Faceless aren’t simply a technical distro using guitar hero histrionics to boast their blindingly talented musicianship (as you probably did discover listening to their previous, “Akeldama”); they also merit extremely detailed song writing that even the progressive diehard would applaud. And yet, there are about a thousand acts one could reference that are in this regurgitation. It’s how well all of these sophomore’s have been put together which make the Faceless very different, and albeit, very unique.

Posted by Posted by Andy at 9:34 pm
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Monday, 4 May 2009

There are no gimmicks, no ethic to evolve the genre, just a pure focus on old fashioned prog. Saga’s latest “The Human Condition”, is a generic entry spanning pop, rock, metal and neo progressive influence (Marillion and IQ). Containing such idiosyncrasies it’s clear, that straight of the mark "The Human Condition" is meant to appeal to their nostalgic fans than to the neutrals brain. And whilst this really does read dull on paper, things do move fast enough for the inane amount of depth to never sink in.

With vocalist and founding member “Michael Sadler” departing in late 07, “Rob Moratti” (Final Frontier) has taken responsibility of handling his vocal in the aptly but overdone symphonic power metal approach. The majority of the numbers being vocally lead is acumen to why those big shoes need filling, in the correct manner. The well executed vocal harmonies along with Moratti’s strong performance throughout the record confirm that Saga did find the right man; even if his voice is bound to the realm of clich├ęd – which suitably epitomises the album. Qualifying this to be a rock experience are the guitars being at the fore of the mix, with typical powerchord progressions and not so typical “Rush” played arrangements, along with the keys taking a backseat. It’s a solid, no frills approach underlining, that not much if anything has really changed since their heydays of the early 80’s. You can’t help but feel that this is for the worst, as "The Human Condition", sounds tired and ultimately showcases Saga to be an overly read story of the past. Thankfully, there are just enough memorable progressions to make the record worthwhile, even when it is incredibly stale.

With old commercial watermarks, “Guns N’ Roses”, “Marillion” and “Metallica” releasing records in the past 12 months, negativity has been hurled toward them on a basis of going backward within the very genres they helped innovate. Similar feelings bubble, surrounding Saga’s latest. Is this raw expression coming from the nostalgic purist, or a regurgitated commercial cash-in? This is a fun release, that’s intended for the dedicated fan – but nobody else.

Posted by Posted by Andy at 11:48 am
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