TMR

S91 “Along the Sacred Path”

 Posted by on March 21, 2019 at 20:13  No Responses »
Mar 212019
 

S91 is a Christian progressive metal band from Tuscany, and with the release of “Along the Sacred Path” continue documenting the history of humanity through the lens of Christian theology, a study started on “Behold the Mankind” (2016).

“Constantine the Great” starts in such a moody way. The bass guitar riff makes you sway, and the time signature points to prog rock complexity. This complexity remains when vocal duties change hands – at first manly and gruff, and then melodic and feminine. Along the Sacred Path makes for a gripping journey.

Just when you think you have the genre pinned down, the blistering guitar riff that opens “Saint Patrick” makes me think of speed metal à la Cacophony (Marty Friedman & Jason Becker). I like how the voice also gets a hardcore treatment that fits this song particularly well. You’ll have to hold on tight, because S91 change rhythmic tac often. Here now is a beautiful soaring keyboard that carries female vocals singing, “Oh my Lord, thanks my Lord”. Continue reading »

Rainforce “Rock and Roll” EP

 Posted by on March 13, 2019 at 18:49  No Responses »
Mar 132019
 

When the guitar chimes in and the kick reverberates in your ears you know you’re hearing sweet, sweet rock and roll music. “Rock and Roll” kicks off with Jordan Cutajar’s call to arm: “Let’s rock and roll!!” He’s got that Brian Johnson quality to his voice, and immediately lends credence to their brand of hard rock. The production is clear as crystal, and delivers a satisfying punch. I was immediately eager to hear more.

I love how Benjamin Mann rides the high hat in the verses on “In Good Hands”. The rhythm guitar, punctuated with the tick-tick-tick of tightly picked strings makes for a dynamic groove, and when the solo pops out it is tastefully executed. Andy La Morte, you have a new fan! The overall impression is that these musicians are like the master craftsman who distils the best broth from hand-picked ingredients. Continue reading »

Darkwater – “Human”

 Posted by on January 28, 2019 at 22:41  No Responses »
Jan 282019
 

Darkwater make such a strong impression with “A New Beginning” off their much-anticipated third album for Ulterium Records. There is a hint of unease woven into the piano melody, carried forward into the synthesizer lead that plays over distorted guitars and an urgent rhythm. I agree with Mike Portnoy’s assessment that progressive metal can at times be so self-indulgent that it’s more fun for the band than the audience. I think Darkwater strikes a fine balance between being technical, and being emotional with the music.

Rather than reaching backward to prog rock past, the tone is modern and there is a considered restraint in the way songs are performed. In “In Front Of You” Henrik Båth’s voice shines through, as well as how the guitars and synths share lead melodies. There is a moment where bass and drums share the spotlight, but not indulge in it, and further proof that the shared perspective is that the sum total is greater than the individual players.

What is it to be alive in 2019? One in 7.7 billion, or one of 7.7 billion? The crowning glory of Creation, or a mist that appears only briefly? Not only do the lyrics take a “bigger picture” view of life, but like in “Reflection Of A Mind”, the qualities of the soul are also examined. Life is a struggle for who we are: the lone voice that rises above the chorus. Continue reading »

Philadelphia – “Search & Destroy”

 Posted by on January 18, 2019 at 16:54  No Responses »
Jan 182019
 

You don’t often hear the theremin, least of all in rock and roll, and when the drums kick in I’m magically transported to the seventies, à la Deep Purple. Philadelphia do an excellent job of setting an ominous atmosphere, and I really like Brian Martini’s drum solo that propels us into the path of the speeding freight train called “Search & Destroy”. “Search & Destroy” first arrived in 1985, and will be re-released by Roxx Records on 25 January 2019. The limited edition vinyl run numbers only 500, and if you’re lucky you’ll be the owner of one of 150 gold vinyl LP’s. This cracker of an album was remastered by Rob Colwell of Bombworks Sound, and it screams to be turned loud.

Philadelphia paint a portrait of a kid down on his luck and in the streets in “Bobby’s Song”. They put a name to the face we so often ignore. It’s a pretty perfect ballad, and I’m crazy about that guitar tone! Brian Clark delivers an emotional performance in “Oh My Boy”, a song from father to son, and the instrumentation in the verse is suitably sparse. When the overdriven guitar finds the spotlight in the chorus, the father’s anguish is amplified tenfold. Phil Scholling’s melodic solo here is also my favourite on the album. Continue reading »

I.N.D (In Nomine Dei) – “Lucernarium” ep

 Posted by on January 10, 2019 at 22:53  No Responses »
Jan 102019
 

In Nomine Dei surprised me with their intensity on “Zly”, the first of four tracks on their 2017 EP, “Lucernarium”. The Polish song title “Zly” translates as “Evil”, and the core message is that the main character will not let evil distract her from God. While the start of the song suggests thrash metal, it becomes more midtempo once Alina start singing. While not as theatrical, Alina’s voice reminds me of Catherine Ringer (Les Rita Mitsouko). Alina also pushes her voice to a gravelly scream that suits the mood of the music.

“Prorok” (The Prophet) has a great hard rock groove, and the guitars have a no-nonsense, modern tone. The dual guitar attack also stands out in this one, like in the solo, where Michał and Patryk take turns to drive the melody ever higher. The lyrics “It’s Him, He’s coming / My Servant” points to Jesus Christ, and at that moment where He is baptised by John at the start of His ministry (Matthew 3:13-17).

While titled “Mrok” (The Dark), this song speaks of the fire of the Holy Spirit that burns within us. Listen to the opening few bars, and what Alina does there. Can I be bold and suggest that IND are tipping a hat to Rage Against The Machine? I love the layering of Alina’s voice when she sings “Amen”, and in the mix I hear a lower harmony accompanying her voice at times. It’s a subtle, but great production addition. IND don’t emulate RATM’s funk, which is a good choice in my opinion. Continue reading »