For those unfamiliar with Soulspell and I suspect that may be many readers, Brazilian drummer Heleno Vale writes songs and then assembles and all-star cast of Brazilian and global performers to record the songs. For this fourth installment, the cast includes and number of signers with impressive careers including: Ralf Sheepers (Primal Fear, Gamma Ray), Tim “Ripper” Owens (Judas Priest, Iced Earth), Timo Kotipelto (Stratovarius), and Blaze Bayley (Iron Maiden), as well as Daisa Munhoz from Vandroya (which released one of my favorite albums so far this year). As a general rule, the Soulspell rock operas do follow a general musical theme of European power metal with some symphonic and progressive elements thrown in. Given the all-star cast and genre, one can expect blazing guitar solos throughout as well as an emphasis on the vocals. This is where some of challenge comes in listening to a project like this in that every song seems to have a different combination of singers and some of the combinations don’t work as well as others and as a result there can be a disconnected feel to the album since every song sounds different.
The Blessed (formerly Cradle of God) was formed in Novomoskovsk, Russia in 2012 and originally took its name from the book Cradle of God written by British author Llewelyn Powys in 1929. The album Remember was recorded using only live instruments and no keyboards and contains songs that date back to 2014 with “Children of God” and “Arise from the Dead” appearing on the band’s first ep released in January 2015. In June of that same year, the band changed its name to The Blessed and the full length album Remember was released in late 2016. Founder and singer Dmitry “Cross” Yusin tells of the lyrics being taken from the New Testament combined with personal reflections and set to melodic death metal in the hopes of showing listeners the consequences of their actions and how the real rebellion is to be against the things of this world.
“Children of God” kicks off the album and the opening guitars and drums sound more like this is going to be a grindcore album, but then some melody comes in for the main verse sections of the song it quickly becomes recognizable as melodic death metal. Drums do still play a big role in driving the song along with much of it filled with blast beats, but there is more to the song and it picks up a bit of a groove at one point. Vocals are mostly a gravelly, raspy growl with some clean choral backing vocals offering some contrast. Production quality is good with drums and bass more present than is typically the case, giving the songs a good punch.
There have been a few albums that can be filed under gimmick or affiliation that though its nice, it comes across cute rather than professional, a nice idea, but should have been left as that. Though every once in awhile it works and Song Kids is one of those projects that though cute, mildly gimmicky, has a sense of professionalism as well as being entertaining.
So Swedish sisters Filippa and Agnes Samuelsson from the duo Songkids are back with a new uptempo album for kids in all ages, titled Aldrig ensam (meaning is “Never alone”).
Since the debut release in 2015, the girls have had about twenty gigs in Sweden and Norway, they have participated in radio shows and on sponsoring galas and the anti-bullying song En riktig vän (A true friend) has been on heavy rotation on Swedish National Radio P4 and highlighted by anti-bullying organisation Friends.
With this experience behind, they have written new songs, along with their father, Jonatan (bass player for Narnia, and label manager for JONO and Adora). So this is where the bonuses come in, I have a huge respect for the band Narnia, and having an accomplished musician like Jonatan it does solidify and validate the music a lot, and does bare witness to its creditability as an album.
From Orange County, California comes the metal core band Of Mice & Men with their latest album Cold World. It’s a well-known band in the metal core scene, so I was pretty exited to review this album. I’m a big fan of metal core and I really like this band.
For those who do not know the band, the name is actually a reference to a book from John Steinbeck. There are two reasons why they choose the name, according to the band members. Austin Carlile said that the sentence ‘the well laid plans of mice and man often falter’ has a lot to do with Jaxin Hall’s (former band member and co-founder of the band) and his own life. They had plans for life, the plans failed and now they try to make the best out of it. The other reason comes from Jaxin Hall. He said that the main theme of the book is about the American Dream and being self-sufficient. They wanted to make the band their American Dream. Austin departed the band after this album, which he posted on Instagram. He left the band to focus on healing and moving on after settling in Costa Rica. Early 2017 he got a question about his future with the band. He made clear that he would not go back to the band. According to him, the other members would not let him write what he wanted on the next record. Enough about the band, lets talk about their music.
Originally hailing from Richmond, Virginia, Broadside has relocated to Los Angeles and seems to have taken the environment to heart. For Paradise, the band teamed up again with producer Kyle Black (New Found Glory, All Time Low), and has spent the last couple years since their debut, Old Bones (2015), relentlessly touring and gathering accolades. From being named “Musician of the Month” in April 2017 by Alternative Press to being named “Best International Newcomer” by Rock Sound, to having Paradise being named as “One of 2017’s Most Anticipated albums” by AP and gathering fans at Warped Tour in 2016, the band has certainly demonstrated the appeal of their sound to audiences and critics alike. The band traces their roots back to 2010 and released a 5 song ep in 2011 that was re-recorded and expanded in 2012 for an independent release before they recruited current lead vocalist Ollie Baxxter in 2013. Add in some touring and then signing to Victory Records and the band released their debut album Old Bones in 2015 which was followed up by the aforementioned Warped Tour and acclaim.