Category Archives: Reviews

Emanuele Bodo (band)

Album Review: Emanuele Bodo – Unsafe Places

The Italian guitarist and composer Emanıuele Bodo delivers a stunning guitar performance on his instrumental debut album “Unsafe Places”—an effort that sees the musician going as the album suggest to unsafe places, exploring fay beyond the progressive fusion genre. Although Bodo is most prominent on the record, the musician has gathered a full line-up featuring Carlo Ferri on bass, Davide Cristofoli on keyboards, and Mattia Garimanno on drums, who shine nothing less than the guitarist throughout the seven track release.

Emanuele Bodo - Unsafe Places

Even when Bodo is in the lead through various guitar solos, the rest of the band definitely are not shadow lurkers, but rather a constitutional part of “Unsafe Places.” I do like the fact that Bodo is keeping the album finely balanced between all instruments.

The jazz fusion / progressive metal combo is appealing and gets the juices flowing, especially when done as effectively as this. “Unsafe Places” is a surprisingly good debut by Emanuele Bodo, who obviously has what it takes in terms of chops and creativity. Let’s hope he keeps doing what he’s been doing.

Grab a copy of “Unsafe Places” from Bandcamp here, and follow Bodo on Facebook.

Whiteside's Daughter

Album Review: Whiteside’s Daughter – The Life You Save

Whiteside’s Daughter is a new name on the worldwide progressive rock scene. The trio based in Jackson, Mississippi have just released their debut, concept album The Life You Save about “James, the gay son of an Alabama Pentecostal preacher, who in high school rebels and falls in with John, his ex-Baptist atheist classmate and guitarist for a high school death metal band called Village Witch.”

The core trio featuring Stephen Poff on vocals, Brian Hughley on drums, and Steve Deaton on guitars, bass, keyboards and vocals, collaborated with a number of guest musicians to create blends elements of melancholy, the spirit of Scandinavian metal, Southern Rock and British progressive rock. All of this is true; throughout this record there is surely an omnipresent feeling of melancholy, which is mostly carried by the vocal harmonies and a variety of keyboards-related stuff.

The Life You Save is divided into two long suites (or Acts as the band refers to them). Each of these two acts includes interludes and full-fledged pieces of music that tell the story.

The main instrument on this record is the guitar, played masterfully by Deaton. The sound of guitar is well-rounded, the riffs are melodic and heavy, guitar solos are executed flawlessly. The interplay between guitars and vocals is another highlight. The term “virtuosity” has been a synonym for progressive rock for a while, but this release is focused on melody over the technicality.

With The Life You Save Whiteside’s Daughter hint that they have the knowledge and potential to make something good. At least, this record is far from being categorized as a “hobby album,” it surely needs to be listened and is not one of those “skip-over” releases. Give this album a chance and let the music speak to your heart, rather than your brain!

In The Fire

Review: In The Fire – Volatile Beings

So-called prolific artists, at least within the scope of heavy metal, tend to fall into the dime-a-dozen category, often releasing large bodies of work but with very little actual quality to be found within. This requires a lot of legwork and listening to mediocre-to-outright boring music just to find something worth its time. As with any rule, however, there are exceptions. And Philly’s blackened death metal savants In The Fire are a shining example of such an exception. There is a certain level of quality consistent throughout the band debut full-length release Volatile Beings that makes exploring it an engaging experience and not a chore in the slightest.

In The Fire - Volatile Beings

Without warning, “Feral” flings its serrated hooks from the darkness and drags its victim deep into its twisted world of terror. Instantly noticeable on this journey through hells unknown is the almost ridiculously modern production. Rather than relying on haphazard production to add character to the music, the production is domineered with sadomasochistic control. Sterility is often a negative term, but in this case it’s the sterility of a surgical scalpel, gleaming in the florescent lights of the morgue as the first cut glides through cold flesh, opening the abyss that pulls its prey into the guts. The tremolo riffs swirl around the churning, steady pacing of the drums in a doom-laden groove before opening up into all-out death metal fury. The leads aren’t so much leads as they are controlled noise, screeching and wailing their way over the seemingly bottomless maw of low end. Ryan Moll’s (vocals, guitars, bass, keys) obsession with control is apparent here as well, as on repeat listens it becomes quite evident that there is method to the racket; the cries of feedback are crafted into subtle yet memorable hooks.

The leads aren’t always as noisy, but they do play a large part in creating the atmosphere that is so key to Volatile Beings. On “The Devil in the Mirror” there are moments of haunting, spaced out arpeggios that lie beneath the thunderous riffing like shadows in the dark. There’s an almost epic feel at play here as In The Fire do indeed feel like it’s rising above the weak, feeble masses in a display of the complete and total power of an unearthly monstrosity. The rhythm section, completed with Patrick Battaglia on drums, bulges with might, locking into the groove like the inescapable constraint of an anaconda the size of an oil pipeline.

The onslaught doesn’t relent until the opening passage on “Into Battle” that ends with an unexpected, almost melodeath riff at the end, making for a refreshing take. The instrumental title track lurks its way in, building and pulsing before dropping into a lurking bit of doom as it coils before striking out with sinister precision. In The Fire layer on plenty of effects and production tricks that drip like virulent venom over the body of the beast, continuing its merciless assault of riffing. “Techno-Sociopathic De-Evolution” fully harnesses control of the melodic riffs, this time striking straight for the kill like a cunning predator who will not make the same mistake twice.

Needless to say, In The Fire’s Volatile Beings only strengthens the confidence to be had in the band’s ability to deliver. Ryan Moll simply understands extreme metal, and has a way of adapting the core of a style and distinctly making it his own. Not only does Volatile Beings shine as an instant highlight, but among the neverending slew of death metal at large as well.

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Endworld Halos album art

Review: Endworld Halos – S/T

One of the most gratifying aspects of exploring music is to be able to see how different bands, styles, and scenes interact with each other. Like a massive, breathing network, no band is an island, and every city is its own musical melting pot. Today, my gaze shifts to the city of Kuopio in Finland, home of a progressive rock trio Endworld Halos who have recently released their self-titled debut album.

It feels that Endworld Halos took time to produce an album that is well planned, well thought and well executed. “Endworld Halos” is an epic journey that is comprised of ten songs. Hearing the band place an emphasis on this kind of tried-and-tested longform composition is impressive. The band’s natural talents with writing, matched with the encyclopaedic interest in the genre make the least involving moments on the album a joy to behold.

While they never fully swing into prog territory, keeping their sights mixed on relatively conventional songwriting, the music is significantly flashier than the sort you’d usually expect in a purely melodic act. Endworld Halos boost their hooks with exotic instrumentation and plenty of dynamic changes. Even if the album aims to hit a lot of the same marks as conventional melodic rock, I seldom feel like I have their approach “figured out.” They take a conventional palette and harness it in a way that sounds unpredictable.

Endworld Halos offer some great songwriting—by the end of the first listen, I was impressed to realize several of the tracks already stood out in my memory. The opening, “Adjusting to Life” features great riffs. “Desperado Sundown,” one of the most crucial numbers on the album features such an amazing instrumentation that will definitely have the old school proggers give the band thumbs up; the band’s performance is impressive across the board. The music is intelligently arranged, giving some extra meat to the bones of the already-good songwriting.

“Endworld Halos” is a record that challenges and provokes. If anything, it’s that quality that makes the album among the best this band has ever done, and definitely one of the best efforts to be released in 2018.

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fayne-02

Review: Fayne – Journals

Hailing from Montreal, Fayne have been around since 2004. In the period from 204 until 2008 the band put out two EP releases, “You Took It All Away” (2004) and “Delivering the Final Blow” (2016), before they went on a hiatus in 2008. Five years later Fayne regrouped and in 2014 they launched their third EP “The Queen of Kings.” Last year Fayne returned with their debut full-length album entitled “Journals.”

Fayne play a brand of djent/progressive metal, combining ambient elements and delicately played clean layers over top of the stuttering and stabbing rhythms set in place by Meshuggah and SikTh. The difference is, the music feels much more lush and organic, setting themselves apart from the very mechanical sounding contemporaries who follow a similar formula. While the melodic djent thing isn’t new, Fayne manage to sound unique and fresh, thanks to the atmospheres and singing.

The vocal work, courtesy of Justin Furtado, on “Journals” is superb. The soaring vocal melodies and lyrics will definitely embed themselves in your memory. The screaming vocals are few and far between, but when they show up, they are in the right place.

Fayne - Journals

The guitar work is split between the dry and low polyrhythmic chugs and clean and melodic layering for ambiance. These two styles fit together in perfect harmony and create some wonderful soundscapes and textures. The bass is also very present in the mix, which is an added touch of brilliance. You can hear it slapping and popping along throughout the album, even taking a few moments here and there to be the focal point of the music from time to time. Listen to numbers like the opener “Grimspeak” or “Prototype”, and you’ll catch it. Oh, and the drumming is actually real, which is a nice change of pace for a genre that likes to program everything or play it through an electronic kit. This is one of the contributing factors for the EP not sounding like an overproduced machine.

As for the musical composition, “Journals” does feel like one song and flows through tracks logically when things take a change in pace or theme. Fayne can definitely demand the attention of the listener without having to drop a solo every few minutes. These guys know what they’re doing.

With the release of “Journals”, Fayne have moved out of the periphery (no pun intended) and into focus.

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CHINE_PROMO_2018_FINAL

Review: Chine – Like Vultures

Chine is a Swedish progressive death metal band with elements borrowed from Swedish death metal and progressive metal. They are about to launch their new EP entitled “Like Vultures” on March 2nd. Both musically, and lyrically “Like Vultures” has its dark side but never forgets to be melodic from the beginning to the end.

CHINE - Like Vultures

Singer Tintin Andersen has a great voice especially when it comes to clean vocals. A thick voice, ready to sing any kind of high pitched parts in a song. Which brings the release its power. Passages between growl and clean vocals are very well designed and executed. And more importantly they sound very tasty.

There are four tracks on the EP. Another highlight here are great and imaginative guitar solos. They are carrying the songs on a closer level to progressive metal and display the band’s influences, which range from old Opeth, Between The Buried And Me and Dark Tranquility.

It is hard to say that Chine bring something new to the scene, but without hesitation it can be said they brought a tasteful release, very well composed and executed. It highly satisfies the expectations from a listener.

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Acidiun

Album Review: Acidiun – The Coalescence

I was admittedly late to the Acidiun party, and it was by my own design. I found that the band’s overall sound is right in my wheel house of technical, tight, and aggressive deathcore. Upon the first listen I was sold, and I immediately devoured “The Coalescence” again. I was greeted by a band that seemed content making their own rules, traversing the slippery slope of sub genre alphabet soup and doing it with style. At times mind-numbingly complex, and at others focused on speed and aggression, they made metal that is forward thinking and diverse, while still being unapologetically heavy.

Acidiun - The Coalescence

The more I listened to this record, the more I enjoyed the sounds coming out of it. Make no mistake, the record is a slab of crushing deathcore/metalcore. Impeccably played and impeccably produced, it comes off as another notch on the rich scene. Sonically, the record is tight, fast and heavy with crunchy guitars that have heft and an overall crispness to the sound that allows the instruments to shine. The riffs are heavy, there are odd time bridges, feel changes and tasty leads that fly by in abundance. In short all of the boxes are checked.

Although nominally not a prog band, these guys are talented enough to do whatever they want. They have seemingly found a formula that is working for them for the time being, and only time will show where and how they deviate from it. I will be very curious to hear where they go with the next record, and whether or not they will stay this course they embarked upon.

So at the end of the day, “The Coalescence” is a solid outing from Acidiun. As a fan of metal, I can appreciate what they have done here. I just hope that more of that original mentality creeps its way into their next release.

Stay tuned with Acidiun via their Facebook page.

Diagoras

Review: Diagoras – Enigma

Progressive death metal is a genre that can be quite difficult to appreciate at times. It took me some time to get my head around some of its intricacies. I would now consider it to be one of my favourite sub-genres. Enter Diagoras, one such band hailing from Sweden, who have been active for over a year. Back in October last year they launched their debut EP titled “Enigma.” Straight off the bat it is clear that Diagoras have a bit more to them than some of the more generic progressive death metal bands around.

Diagoras - Enigma

The music is essentially a riff soup that is continually stopping, starting and changing tempo. There aren’t any direct comparisons to be made to other bands though there are plenty of influences including Hate Eternal, Immolation, Between the Buried and Me and Meshuggah. The sheer intensity of this release is something to behold. It has all the characteristics of a band that have been playing and recording together for years, although this is their first release ever. It is a credit to their musicianship and provides a glimpse and a hint towards what they may be able to achieve in the future.

Not only is “Enigma” extremely heavy, it is ultra technical also. There isn’t a moment where the entire band are resting on their laurels. While the guitars are shredding away, drummer is putting in one of the most spirited performances I have heard for some time. Though he isn’t the fastest drummer I have ever heard his choice of beats and fills is really interesting and creative. When it comes to production, everything is audible and certainly doesn’t lack the bite and the punch that would push the sound to the next level.

“Enigma” is out now and is available from Bandcamp.

Wroht_band

Review: Wroht – Worship Rot

With their debut album, Bay Area death metal quintet Wroht are only going to reach new heights for themselves and garner an ever-growing fan base due to the quality of this debut.

news-wroht-worshiprot

What stuns you upon a first listening of “Worship Rot is Wroht‘s great maturity in structuring a song, considering that this is their first full-length. In a year where we saw and are about to see tons of great death metal releases, these Americans have added a great value to the genre, all while keeping the flag flying high. Word of warning though as this is not for everybody and the weak. Only those who can withstand brutal, uncompromising, chaotic, and destructive and a horrific extreme metal need apply.

Across the record’s twelve tracks, Wroht show what they’re capable with controlled chaotic force and malignant intention. It’s cavernous, monstrous, claustrophobic, and downright nasty. Mixing together groove metal with straight-up death metal, while adding elements of crushing doom here and there, this is music that’s not for the unwary. Steeped in the aesthetics of black metal’s corrupted skin, while having a certain atonal death metal power, Wroht merge these two styles together seamlessly. The grim doom elements here are comparatively less-used, but enhance the music when they appear with further levels of darkness.

Grab “Worship Rot from Bandcamp here. For more info about Wroht you can follow them on Facebook.

Rainburn

In Focus: Rainburn – Insignify

Indian prog rockers, Rainburn, have taken on an ambitious project for their second ever release “Insignify,” tackling a concept that deals with “issues of existentialism, the significance of human life, narcissism, craving importance, insecurity, and the search for reason.

Rainburn - Insignify

Musically, while “classic prog” certainly fits, the album draws in elements from across the contemporary prog scene. Mainman Vats Iyengar’s versatile and engaging voice is ideal for this type of storytelling and there are catchy hooks galore across the album, from the refrain of “Merchant of Dreams” through the gentle harmonies of semi-ballad “Mirrors” to the riff-laden “Suicide Note.” The band can wig-out a bit too, as they prove towards the end of “Someone New” and “Elusive Light,” in the explosive choruses of the otherwise jazzy album closer “School of Atlantis.”

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