John Jackson

Evergrey – “The Atlantic”

 Posted by on December 23, 2018 at 19:13  No Responses »
Dec 232018
 

With their 11th album, Evergrey have released a masterpiece of dark, progressive power metal in The Atlantic, an album destined to be on year-end top 10 lists.

Originating in the midst of melodic death metal bands like At the Gates, and Dark Tranquility, the Swedish band Evergrey formed in 1995 and released their first album The Dark Discovery in 1998.  Being a productive band, in their 23 years together, the band has released now 11 albums including a live double cd with the Gothenburg Symphonic Orchestra, all the while enduring lineup changes and touring the globe. With the release of The Glorius Collision in 2011 guitarist Marcus Jidell and drummer Hannes van Dahl departed the band and were replaced by Henrik Danhage (guitar) and Jonas Ekdahl (drums).  This lineup has remained constant and produced  Hymns for the Broken (2014) and The Storm Within (2016).  Early 2019 will see the release of The Atlantic, which many are referring to as the third piece the trilogy combined with the other two albums from this iteration of the band.

To me, this album is what I had hoped The Storm Within was going to be when I first listened to it. Heavy and crushing while still providing an overall atmosphere that can best be described as from an epic tale.  Every performance, vocal, crushing riff, solo, pummeling drum rhythm, and beautiful atmospheric interlude on this album have been taken to a higher level.  This is a band in top form.  Even more amazing considering that the original recording was actually stolen from the band once completed, although that may have positively affected the final product. Continue reading »

Back Pocket Prophet – “To Overcome”

 Posted by on December 21, 2018 at 22:46  No Responses »
Dec 212018
 

English thrash/metal band Back Pocket Prophet are back from an extended hiatus releasing To Overcome as a follow up to 2011’s 1:4.

Back Pocket Prophet (BPP to fans) hail from Oxfordshire, UK and trace their roots back to 2007.  Following the Dead Men Walking ep, the band released their first full length in 2011, 1:4, and followed that up with tours throughout the UK, Switzerland and Germany.  As many bands endure, BPP has faced numerous challenges through lineup changes and are coming off an extended hiatus to release To Overcome.

To Overcome is like taking a step back in time. From the somewhat muddled opening riffs of “I’m Still Here”, it sounds to me as if the album was recorded more along the lines of a demo and quite a while ago.  The sound just feels old, hard to explain.  Dan Random’s vocals are mixed a bit loud overall in the mix and from lyrical content to delivery, this album has that dated feel to it.  Reminds me of  some of the lesser-known bands on the classic Tooth & Nail samplers Helpless Amongst Friends. Continue reading »

Dec 092018
 

Light Unseen have filled  their debut album Visions of Archetype and Apocalypse  with their brand of “deathgrind for the soul”, resulting in a grinding, pummeling listen for those so inclined.

Light Unseen began in 2016 as a one man project from Christian “Shun” Marthiljohni who decided that he wanted to step away from being the only Christian in a band and use his talents to praise the Lord through the heaviest of genres.  Shun later went on to hire Adrian Trevino on drums and the two man project released a demo in 2017, Eve of the Day of the Lord, which is also available from Nosral Recordings, a label quickly becoming the place to find Christian artists producing the heaviest of metal.  Visions of Archetype and Apocalypse  incorporates the three songs from the demo and adds six more, one of which features vocals from Matthew Plunkett of the death/grindcore band Abated Mass of Flesh.

Light Unseen waste no time jumping right into things on the album.  “Imago Dei”, one of the tracks from their demo opens things up and immediately bursts into a grinding fast riff punctuated by Adrian Trevino’s machine gun like drum work.  Vocals are a deeply growled and somewhat intelligible even for novices to the genre, which is a bit surprising as I was expecting nothing but pig squeals and the usual uninterpretable growling.  Presumably,  Shun Marthiljohni chose this approach so listeners could actually hear and understand the message in the music.  Much like a punk rock song, “Imago Dei” clocks in around a minute and half but manages to cram probably 3 minutes worth of music note in during that time. Continue reading »

BioGenesis – “Black Widow”

 Posted by on December 6, 2018 at 16:42  No Responses »
Dec 062018
 

Hybrid progressive/thrash/power metal band Biogenesis returns with a Black Widow, a limited release 5 song ep, that should  hold fans until their next full length is released.

For the last 17 years, Biogenesis as a band has come and gone, testing the patience of fans, many of whom were hooked after hearing their debut The Mark Bleed Through oh so many years ago.  While some consider that album a masterpiece, the band did not have that same lineup back together for an album until 2012’s The Rise, The Fall, The Rebirth.  That didn’t last long and the band went on hiatus for while until original guitarist James Riggs cam back and the Nealeigh’s were added on  keyboard, drums and bass to fill out the band lineup for the critically acclaimed  A Decadence Divine.

Bands that incorporate progressive elements into their sound do tend to redefine terms like ep.  Black Widow by Biogenesis is a 5 song ep but clocks in around 33 minutes, which is longer than some band’s full length albums.  There will only be around 200 physical copies of the ep released so those wanting one would be advised to get their preorders in quickly.  From a content standpoint, the band was looking for a way to reach their fans while working on their next full length, a follow up to 2017’s A Decadence Divine.  After a history of adding and losing members, this lineup appears largely unchanged from their last album and from a performance standpoint, that is a good thing as the musicianship is strong with the band.  Production quality is top notch, so the band definitely didn’t rush this out, listening to it one can hear the time spent making it sound perfect. Continue reading »

Helix – “A Helix Christmas”

 Posted by on October 31, 2018 at 21:10  No Responses »
Oct 312018
 

Getting an early start on the holiday season, legendary metal band Helix have released a compilation of all their Christmas classics along with two previously unreleased tracks as part of limited edition package.

At this point in time, to say that the Canadian metal band Helix has been around a while is a bit of an understatement as the band was formed around 44 years ago.  Sure lineups have changed etc, over that time but the current lineup has been around for a while as well.  The band is best known for their 1984 song “Rock You”.  As one might expect the band has toured with other legends in the metal scene including, Kiss, Aerosmith, Rush, Mötley Crüe, Alice Cooper, Whitesnake, Night Ranger, Heart, Quiet Riot, W.A.S.P., Ian Gillan and Motörhead among others.

Over the years the band had recorded and released a number of Christmas tracks including the album A Heavy Mental Christmas in 2008 which features many of the songs on this album and was at least released in Walmart stores in Canada.  This album features those tracks along with two previously unreleased tracks, which are are a brand new recording of the classic Christmas tune “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer and the track “All I Want For Christmas (Is The Leafs To Win The Cup)”, which was previously released as a limited edition 7” only prior which is now out of print. Continue reading »