John Jackson

Oct 272020
 

Southern Indiana seems a long ways away from Europe, but Symphony of Heaven bring the death metal on The Ascension of Extinction (ep) that would fit right in with the likes of Antestor, Slechtvalk, and Behemoth.

From the opening fast riffs and driving rhythm of “You Shall Be As Gods”, the song literally grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me awake.  I was instantly reminded of the last Slechtvalk album I reviewed Where Wandering Shadows and Mists Collide back in 2016.  The main verses have that dark, heavy element that drives the song along with the deep shouted vocals keeping pace and the rhythm section adding an almost groove feel.  I like how the song has a bit of a more peaceful interlude before picking back up and shifting to a double bass driven pummeling to the end.  Production for the genre is great, guitars and drums easily distinguishable and the vocals clear…at least for the genre.

The title track, “The Ascension of Extinction”, is a bit more straightforward death metal at least in the beginning with the fast guitar riff and drums but then slows a bit with some female spoken words and some black metal sounding near shriek-like vocals breaking up the song and providing a nice contrast to the shouted, deeper death metal growls that fill the rest of the song.  Throughout, the guitars are heavy and the drums nicely punctuate the overall sound.

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Aug 202020
 

While many hope for new material from Saviour Machine, Eric Clayton has released what is in essence a solo album in A Thousand Scars, a gothic inspired view into his personal journey and struggles over the last years.

Any review of Eric Clayton material has to include the story of Saviour Machine, the legendary goth metal band formed in 1989 by Eric and his brother Jeff. Over the course of the band’s career, five studio albums were released, Saviour Machine I and II in 1993 and 1994 and then the Legend trilogy comprised of Legend I, II, and III:1 between 1997-2001. A self-described “unofficial soundtrack to the end of the world”, the Legend trilogy is four full-length CDs and over five hours of music, and yet the project remains unfinished. Saviour Machine is long and complicated story of label mismanagement, problems with business relationships of such a proportion that it would fill a book. Eric himself has dealt with personal and health issues over the years and became inactive in the music scene until be being drawn back in 2015, performing with Ayreon in Europe for a couple of weeks. This led to Eric and his brother Jeff covering David Bowie songs and soon other members of Saviour Machine were reaching out looking to collaborate on new material. After moving to Europe, Eric reached out to some Dutch friends to form a band he could play live with and the Nine was born followed by a string of festivals and club shows across Europe. In 2019 Eric Clayton and Nine began work on A Thousand Scars, produced by Devon Graves (Buddy Lackey, Psychotic Waltz).

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Reliance – “Running”

 Posted by on June 27, 2020 at 19:18  No Responses »
Jun 272020
 

Reliance make the most of their Thumper Punk Records debut, releasing a full length album filled with melodic punk anthems sure to get crowds moving and singing along.

Reliance from Prescott, Arizona looks to have fallen out of Sheep’s Gate Ministries and their skateshop started by Matthew Clark in 2000.  The band has released two albums, Crashing Down and Running following their signing to Thumper Punk Records.  Running was recorded and produced by Dave Klien at his studios in LA and mixed by the legendary Descendants drummer Bill Stevenson at the Blasting Room Co.

Honestly, the promo pictures are a great example of not judging a book by its cover as I was expecting something much closer to hardcore or metal versus the skate punk on this album.  In the big picture, I hear a lot of Pennywise, Bad Religion, and similar bands in the sound of Reliance and it’s very well done.  From a vocal perspective, Albert Padilla sounds a lot like Greg Graffin (Bad Religion) and Jim Lindberg (Pennywise) and musically the rest of the band fall right in line. 

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A Broken Line – “Rat Beach Live”

 Posted by on June 17, 2020 at 01:51  No Responses »
Jun 172020
 

Long Beach punk natives A Broken Line have released a live version of their sophomore album, Rat Beach, a collection of raw, infectious tracks that fit right in with what their predecessors were producing.

It’s not every day you get to review a studio and live version of the same album but here were are, thank you Covid-19 pandemic for making this possible.  The live version of Rat Beach was recorded at Di Piazza’s in Long Beach, California on January 3rd, 2020.  The album itself gets off to a bit of an odd start with the Intro being a bit of rap over a largely guitar jam reminding me oddly enough of Cypress Hill backed by Greg Ginn… As you may have guessed from the description so far, A Broken Line is not your typical straight ahead SoCal punk or hardcore band, as they bring elements in from ska and bit of a heavy garage/alternative sound as well.   Placebo opens up with a guitar riff that sounds much like one from Naked Raygun’s Jettison album and the song roars off from there at a frantic pace. From this driving opening track to the slower, heavier, almost like Sublime track “Garage Door” to the feedback-drenched and bass-highlighting “Ticking Away” with its drum/atmospheric interlude to even more feedback and driving rhythms in “Disconnect” to the Five Iron Frenzy like parts in “Pier”, the first five tracks cover a lot of ground and consistently present a loud, brash punk rock attitude.

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Secret Rule – “Against”

 Posted by on June 17, 2020 at 01:28  No Responses »
Jun 172020
 

On their fifth album, Secret Rule bring symphonic power metal from Italy in the vein of Delain and Nightwish.

Starting out in 2014, Italy’s Secret Rule has released six albums with Against being fifth and the recent Quarantine: The other side of us cover album coming out in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic.Since Transposed Emotions in 2015, the band has toured and shared the stage with the likes of  Xandria, Delain, Kobra & the Lotus, and Cellar Darling.  The band has also managed to bring in some high-level guest talent on albums including: Aylin (Sirenia), Stefan Helleblad (Within Temptation), Henrik Klingenberg (Sonata Arctica), Timo Somers (Delain), Sander Zoer (Delain, Leah), Henning Basse (Mayan, Firewind), which certainly adds to their credibility and potential as a band.

Against opens up with short keyboard-heavy intro and launches directly in to a groove-heavy power metal track immediately highlighting the vocals from Angel Di Vencenzo.  When a European band mentions influences like Nightwish and Delain, one does go into the listening experience with a certain set of preconceived notions and given those bands, strong female vocals are a given and Angela delivers.  As one would expect from power metal, production is clean and vocals are particularly distinct.

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