TMR

Tourniquet “Gazing at Medusa”

 Posted by on November 29, 2018 at 21:08  No Responses »
Nov 292018
 

The first 33 seconds of “Sinister Scherzo” convey for me what you can expect of Tourniquet’s “Gazing at Medusa”: virtuosity. The eerie, tremolo-picked melody, sits atop blackened drum blasts, interrupted by a lone flute that signals the first verse. Now in thrash metal country, Tim Owens’ off-kilter delivery voices the madness of a world that “dances tuned to a dark macabre beat.” While a scherzo in the classical sense is played in an upbeat, playful manner “Sinister Scherzo” leaves me with an uneasy chill.

The music of “Longing for Gondwanaland” calls up an image of a warhorse riding into battle. Gondwanaland – the supercontinent – a metaphor of unity that is in stark contrast to today’s reality. We have eschewed the oneness that Paul so aptly describes in Romans 12:4-5:

“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

If the melancholy slow march of doom metal is your thing, “Memento Mori” will be an early highlight on “Gazing at Medusa”. The riffs are crushing, and the lyrics remind us of our own mortality. Aaron Guerra and Chris Poland both supply lead melodies that wrench at your heart, while Ted Kirkpatrick keeps the procession moving forward. Continue reading »

Impellitteri “The Nature of the Beast”

 Posted by on November 10, 2018 at 19:08  No Responses »
Nov 102018
 

It’s no secret that I love power metal; Finnish veterans Stratovarius a firm favourite. And so, when the first few bars of “Hypocrisy”, the first song on Impellitteri’s new album “The Nature of the Beast”, rang out, I was enthralled. Add to this lyrics that paint the world in dark hues, and you’ve got something captivating. Chris Impellitteri is a lauded lead guitarist, and is recognised in the media as one of the fastest guitarists in the shred style. Him, Marty Friedman and Paul Gilbert; all in the same league. On this album, Rob Rock is our “master of ceremonies”, and man, can he wail! His falsetto is perfection. Listen to the refrain, “Run for your life…” and you’ll know what I mean. The rhythm machine is anchored by James Pulli on bass, and propelled ever forward by Jon Dette on drums. Phew! This album is unrelenting.

The first couple of songs introduce the villains: there is the devil, the movie star, the werewolf, and the Phantom of the Opera. “Wonderworld” presents the listener with a future dystopia, a surveillance state bent on controlling the minds of civilians: “Computers taking over for you… Dependence on the virtual machine.” It made me think of George Orwell’s terrifying future visions in his book, “1984”. At the “Gates of Hell” a war is waged to end all wars! Continue reading »

Dens – “No Small Tempest”

 Posted by on October 29, 2018 at 19:46  No Responses »
Oct 292018
 

My immediate impression of “Deadrise”, the first of four tracks on this EP, is that there is a yearning being expressed. When I consider the lyric, “I’ve thrown myself into the deep…” I recall the figure on the album cover suspended beneath the waves. While the storm rages above, he seems oddly at peace. This kind of rock music will get you thinking.

I like how the vocalist’s melodic voice contrasts with the rest of the instruments, and how Dens evoke both the storm and the calm in one song. How often are we indignant of God when he shows compassion to sinners? How quickly are we to call unfair when the godless continue to thrive?

It sounds like a big space opens up on (W)retched. The progression from slow arpeggio to guitars that trill and positively soar towards the end of the song is very well executed, and speaks to a band who know how to sonically translate emotions. I get the same from the Scottish band, Mogwai.

When I reflect on this poignant lyric: “Whatever my lot, You have taught me to say / “Even so, it is well with my soul”” I think of the many teachings about life in abundance. How, through Christ, we may live a full life. How, when we cast our burdens unto Him, we receive a peace that is not of this world. We are known to the Father, and because we accept that Jesus Christ died for our sins, our names are recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Continue reading »

Bride – “Snake Eyes”

 Posted by on September 26, 2018 at 21:26  No Responses »
Sep 262018
 

Fans of Bride have held out for a true return to form for some years now, as “Snakes in the Playground” is often touted as this hard rock outfit’s most potent album. Released on 21 August 2018, “Snake Eyes” does not disappoint. I picked out a fragment of “Psychedelic Super Jesus” in “Intro”, which plays like fractured memories – snippets of song fading in left, then right before an almighty yawp from frontman, Dale Thompson kicks off “Fake News”. It’s a bold track that oozes attitude.

I love the energy in “Famous When I’m Dead” – it is not short of cowbell, and races by quickly. Around the middle, Troy Thompson delivers a tasty solo while Dale stretches his vocals in an elongated growl. I heard it said that the drums in this recording sound muffled, but listen to “John The Baptist” – especially how the toms ring in your ears – and I think you’ll agree that the clarity is there. “Think I’ll Build a Bomb” is a rock n roller, the riffing supplying just the right amount of sleaze. It’s a provocative title that comments on how pervasive violence is these days. That breakdown sounds downright ominous – I’m unsure of the production technique used, but the treatment on the vocals and/or the harmony leaves you feeling like a deranged individual is sharing a terrible secret with you. Shivers.

I wonder what I would discover if I had to play “The Real Jesus”, followed by “Psychedelic Super Jesus” off “Snakes in the Playground”? What differing perspectives do these two songs present regarding Jesus Christ? The reason I’m thinking along these lines is because you may have heard the recurring “Jesus Christ is knocking on the door of your heart today…” at the start of both albums. It may point to a link. Continue reading »

Aug 302018
 

Sit back and put your feet up when you listen to “Fist of the Seven Stars – Act 2 (Hokuto Brothers)”. Gabriels, a composer and keyboardist from Italy, creates musical stories on a grand scale. Some of you may be familiar with his rock opera, Prophecy, dedicated to the victims of the September 11 attacks in the United States. He is also known as a seasoned session musician, having served as arranger and keyboardist on amongst others, the “Vivaldi Metal Project”. For this album, he again involves a large cast of talented performers to continue the story inspired by “Hokuto no Ken”, a Japanese anime by Tetsuo Hara and Buronson.

One thing is for sure, he makes the keyboards wail! When I listen to this album, and appreciate how sweeping a production this is, I cannot help but think of Finnish band, Dark Sarah. While Dark Sarah is more clearly symphonic in its brand of metal, both bands share what I would call an “old world grandeur”. This lavishness is evident for me in a track like “End of Cobra”. I truly enjoy the layered vocals, the massive synths and that guitar solo – out of this world! It’s like this production would be at home in both a stadium and in a theatre, with elaborate costumes and kick ass lighting design. Continue reading »