Metalite – “Biomechanicals”

 Posted by on October 17, 2019 at 02:57  No Responses »
Oct 172019
 

Pop metal prodigies Metalite return with a new vocalist and a further refined sound on their second album, Biomechanicals.

Some music can instantly be placed when heard and Swedish pop songs fall into that category for me.  It was almost exactly 2 years ago I reviewed Heroes in Time, the debut from the Swedish band Metalite.  In the meantime, I’ve listened to a lot of music and as soon as I heard the first song on Biomechanicals the Swedish pop sensibilities became readily apparent.  For those who don’t know, the band is from Stockholm and been around since 2015.  Guitariste Edwin Premberg met vocalist Emma Bensing and the two began a collaboration with producer Jacob Hansen (Volbeat, Evergrey, Amaranthe) and the songs started to flow.  In the next year, the rest of the band was added and the band signed to Inner Wound Records.  This time around, the band has picked up Erica Ohlsson to handle the vocal duties while keeping everything else the same including producer Jacob Hansen and recording at Hansen Studios.

Given the band being a female-fronted pop metal band, one expects much of the emphasis to be on the vocals so after the departure of the excellent Emma Bensing, the obvious question is whether or not Erica Ohlsson can fill those large shoes.  As it turns out there is nothing to worry about in the vocal department, much like her predecessor, Erica’s vocals are perfectly suited for Swedish pop almost too perfectly, perhaps.  Think about any popular Swedish pop band’s vocals and Erica could fill in for any of them, her vocals are that good for that style.  To my ears though, Emma’s vocals were a bit darker in tone, making them more suited for the more aggressive sound on Heroes in Time that I favor.

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Astralium – “Land of Eternal Dreams”

 Posted by on October 16, 2019 at 03:46  No Responses »
Oct 162019
 

Astralium releases an impressive debut symphonic metal album in “Land of Eternal Dreams” and instantly becomes a band you have to hear.

Coming from Italy, Astralium has released their debut album but by no means is it their first experience as the band has been around since 2014 when the band was playing shows under the moniker Black Roses.  As most bands do, multiple personnel changes came into play and in 2017 the lineup solidified with the addition of a drummer in Salvo Grasso, who also can supply some great clean male vocals. With a solid lineup in place, work began on the debut album.  The album itself, as symphonic metal albums often are, is a concept piece, with this one about dreams and the astral universe and the fantasy world that lives in all of us. As if sixty minutes of complex symphonic arrangements wasn’t enough of a challenge, the album also features multiple special guests including: Tommy Johansson (Sabaton, Majestica) providing some vocals on “Rising Waves of the Ocean”, vocalist Jo Lombardo (Ancestral, ex-Metatrone) and guitarist Andrea Martongelli (Arthemis) on “Whisper in the Silence”, Adam Cook (A Hill To Die Upon)adding  growled vocals on “Seven Seas, Seven Winds” and some narration , and Davide Bruno (Metatrone, NefeshCore) adding growled vocals to “Hidden Conspiracy” and “A Dream’s Elegy.”  While all of this may seem like overkill and lead to a muddled, disconnected sound, the guest musicians add unique elements to the songs they are one and the strength of the compositions allows it work seamlessly.

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Lance King – “ReProgram”

 Posted by on October 5, 2019 at 18:54  No Responses »
Oct 052019
 

What would we become if allowed to grow into our own passions? Lance King raises this tantalising question right off the bat in his second solo album, “ReProgram” that was released on 29 March 2019. His concern for the death of a child’s creativity is underscored in the music. I hear the dread in the volleys of driving kick drum and plaintive keyboards, while the guitars point accusatory fingers at a dystopian status quo where conformity trumps originality.

King delivers a compelling performance in “Pointing Fingers”, and I can hear why his tenor has graced the likes of Pyramaze and Balance Of Power: liquid ease. I’m in love with Kim Oleson’s guitar work on “Stand Your Ground”. It is no doubt tempting to follow the vocalist ever upward into the song’s crescendo and then lose yourself in soloist heaven, but not Oleson. He plays with both feet firmly rooted in the ground. His modern tone suits King’s voice to a tee, and when he does solo it is technical and melodic at the same time – and with just the right amount of restraint. I’d also like to acknowledge how the keyboards were played in this song. Oleson and/or Fred Colombo played counterpoint to the rhythm guitar in a way that brings the sequencer to the fore. Not so much that it becomes a lead instrument but rather that it adds to the overall urgency of the track.

“Technology” celebrates how technological advancement puts the means of musical production into anyone’s hands and while this democratisation is to be admired, King also poses the question, “Where will it all end?” Made in an instant, and shared in an instant in a world that is media hungry. This critique of consumerism is akin to that found in Porcupine Tree’s “Fear Of A Blank Planet”. Continue reading »

Sep 252019
 

Comrades have been around for more than a decade, what started as a post-hardcore band in Virginia in 2008, have now shifted its base to Colorado. “For We Are Not Yet, We Are Only Becoming” is their sophomore album, which was released under the banner of Facedown Records and hit the stores on the 7th June 2019.  The band essentially comprises of the Husband-Wife duo Laura & Joe McElroy and John Gaskill (of Life In Your Way, Endeavor and Converyor fame). The band have had many ups and downs, they’ve toured quite extensively and list close to 50 tours. They list Beloved, As Cities Burn, The Fall of Troy, Red Sparrows, Russian Circles and Thrice as some of their influences.

On Social media they quoted “Our music is, like any art, an outward flowing of what is within us. It has always been influenced by our faith, and something we all feel strongly about is trying to reconcile the differences of well-intentioned people on both sides of that fence, and simply trying to be the example our faith has taught us to be. We hope that we can be a light, and give encouragement, hope, and provoke thought, no matter what your worldview or affiliation.” They list their music to be emotionally charged with powerful lyrics.

To be honest, this is the first time I’m listening to them, and I will try to keep an open mind and not be swayed with what is being said about this album. The first song on this album “Fault Lines” catches you with a beautiful melody which takes time to build up and Laura stuns you with her melodic voice. The screams didn’t quite fall in place, maybe I was expecting it to be matched with distortion for it to land and leave its impact. “Rest” manages to juggle the acoustic and distorted bits quite well, and Laura drives the song forward with her hypnotic voice which is accentuated by a soulful melody on the guitars. Continue reading »

The Weakening– “Chains of Plato”

 Posted by on September 23, 2019 at 16:21  No Responses »
Sep 232019
 

The Swedish death metal band “The Weakening” last year (2018) announced the re-release of their debut album “Chains of Plato” which first came out in 2012. The five-men gathered from bands like Divinefire, Crimson Moonlight, Exhale, Solution 45, Miseration and Renascent to work on an extraordinary record. This album was released in collaboration with Nordic Mission.  The band’s sound has guttural vocals, scathing screams tied well with groovy riffs muffled with charry distortion bringing about a hint of djent. The album utilizes electronica to add superior soundscapes that sets an ambient that’s carried forward from song to song. What’s more amazing is the idea that these songs have been written almost 6 years back and that they still possess the energy and remain relevant as of today.

So I pick up this record, rather late from its original release and re-release to see what do they have to offer.  The album opens up with “The Rise” which starts with a heavy and catchy riff driving the song forward, the blast beats although sporadic and intermittent will surprise you. I could hear a mix of guttural screams and aggressive high pitched vocal delivery which works well with a barrage of riffage that’s on the song. Next up, “Blood Fuels Destruction” utilizes the blast beats to quite an extent and has a melodic section on the vocals which adds sonic flavour to the song. The low-tuned guitar riffs fall nothing short of amazing and adds the djent when played in perfect synchronisation with double bass on the drums.

“Weakening Thoughts” uses Flanger and Phaser to blow your mind with maddening energy that’s brought forward in the heavy chugs that are strummed and the pounding that the drums receive. An interesting interlude breaks apart the song and adds a massive sludge dimension to the song, but let that not fool you because the song writing on it cleverly brings it back to the way it started. Continue reading »