Jagged Doctrine – Eve of Destruction

 Posted by on September 25, 2023 at 13:27  No Responses »
Sep 252023

Jagged Doctrine is an industrial metal project that has reactivated after a 9-year hiatus to bring us their latest offering “Eve of Destruction” on Roxx Records. Formed in the late 90s as a collaboration between guitarist Rod Middleton and keyboardist Gary Baker, they have roots in industrial metal that has an experimental bend. Connecting the dots, this project has a truly independent spirit with a significant independently released discography staying true to their vision for JD. As such, I would say you should approach this project with and open mind. Besides this project, Rod and Gary have collaborated on various other musical projects including licensing tracks for MTV and composing a sound track for a book series.

“Eve of Destruction” continues the intermingling of electronica and heavy metal into a unique blend that is a throwback to the 90s with a slight tinge of avant-garde. Rod and Gary have recruited the inimitable talents of Dale Thompson (Bride) to take on the lead vocals for this album, while they focused on weaving the industrial complex underneath. There is a sizable guest list of musicians contributing to the recording, some of which are attached to the progressive metal band Perspective X IV which might or might not be working on new material.

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Silent Skies – “Dormant”

 Posted by on September 24, 2023 at 10:11  No Responses »
Sep 242023

This album is not typical for us although the musicians and/or the bands they hail from should be somewhat familiar. Tom Englund (Evergrey, Redemption) and Vikram Shankar (Redemption) are members of metal bands that have produced some quite good music within our usual wheelhouse. Silent Skies is going to be a stretch sonically for die-hard metal or hard rock fans out there. However, for the adventurous and open, this is a highly recommended release.

This is how Silent Skies began:

Everything began a few years back when Englund stumbled across one of Shankar’s piano renditions of an Evergrey song. “I instantly realized that he understood what Evergrey was all about,” Englund says. “I don’t think we would have ever worked together were it not for this.” Shankar has been an Evergrey fan ever since his high school days. “They are part of my musical DNA,” the artist from North Carolina states. “I listened to them for years and years. The way they made music influenced my way of writing and playing, too. When Tom and I are making music, I instantly know what he wants to say. We speak a common musical language. We both want to express that which touches us profoundly. Only then,” the pianist says, “music can truly move others.”

Silent Skies is hard to describe by genres. There is a clear nod to dreamy pop music, but it is much darker. Instrumental focus is on keyboards and synthesizers where piano plays a prominent position and often used as the main voice for melodies. Strings are another prominent voice that is used to great emotional effect, but beyond that, the underlying texture is a complex texture of keyboard voices working together, organically changing through the song. Clean, emotionally-laden vocals layer within the musical ecology set by the instruments to make a complete organic entity.

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Album Review: Wytch Hazel – “IV: Sacrament”

 Posted by on September 22, 2023 at 23:51  No Responses »
Sep 222023

I only recently have become familiar with Wytch Hazel and have become quite enamored with their unique sound, middle-ages imagery and inspiring message. Earlier this year, I went to visit my Mom before she passed away. The day after she passed away, I noticed that “IV: Sacrament” was released on Spotify and streamed it while doing funeral prep work in my hotel room. Needless to say this album is somewhat important to me personally, but as a good music reviewer, I’ll keep things as unbiased as possible.

WH is a British band formed in 2011 around the lead song-writer Colin Hendra. Inspired by the roots of metal more than the modern masters, they looked to the great wealth of inspiration around Britain in the 1970s. A few key influences they have cited include Thin Lizzy, Jethro Tull, and Iron Maiden. They have a folk feel that hearkens back to antiquated times of England with knights, castles, and medieval battles. Lyrically, they draw on that imagery particularly around the prevalent sense of Christendom during the middle ages. Although not marketed as a Christian band, there is no doubt that the Christian faith inspires the lyrics. After some lineup shuffles and demos/singles, WH landed their first album “Prelude” in 2016 with Bad Omens records. They then released a record every two years with “II: Sojourn” in 2018 and “III: Pentecost” in 2020. With a three year gap with “IV: Sacrament,” we get a sense that life or international pandemics may have impacted the timing for this one.

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Album Review: Minor Rockstar – Wasted (EP)

 Posted by on September 9, 2023 at 19:53  No Responses »
Sep 092023

Landon Cripe showed a talent for music at a young age. From age 9 to 14, he trained in classical piano winning a prestigious Bach Festival competition at the age of 12. But his axe changed to guitar after watching Marty McFly play guitar in “Back to the Future.” After a rough time in his teens, music was put on hold. After 15 years of heavy drug and alcohol abuse, Landon was admitted into a rehab facility in 2012 to begin the healing process. In 2015, Landon took to the studio to record a song on his own which garnered the attention of Ronnie Winter (Red Jumpsuit Apparatus) when he played the song for him in a chance meeting. Shortly thereafter Minor Rockstar was formed with Landon as the frontman.

I had a hard time piecing together the discography, in particular the years for the releases. Their first release was apparently a three song EP with the delicious title of “You Had Me At Bacon.” Spotify has this as a 2022 release with more songs than three including “Narcoleptic” which is on this release. I get the feeling that their discography is a sprinkling of singles and short releases which may have gotten patched together over time.

The album starts off with the song “Wasted” which has a strong alternative 90’s rock feel similar to Stone Temple Pilots or Pearl Jam. Clean guitars and bass with drums open with an unsettling chord progression. The lyrics bemoan living life wasted and how it is holding him back. The chorus has heavy guitars come through and intensify the singing then fade back into the clean guitar riff. It is delightfully simple.

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Neal Morse – The Dreamer, Joseph pt. 1

 Posted by on September 6, 2023 at 21:56  No Responses »
Sep 062023

Those into progressive rock should need no introduction to Neal Morse, but for the rest of us, some introduction would be helpful.  First off the presence of Steve Morse (Deep Purple) on many of Neal’s projects instantly made me curious being a longtime Deep Purple fan and then when you add in Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) also being involved in many of Neal’s projects, you start to get a picture of why the progressive rock tie exists and also the quality of people Neal can bring in. If we go back to 1992, Neal formed the prog rock band Spock’s Beard which went on to some acclaim followed by Transatlantic and after Neal’s conversion to Christianity, he formed several bands with Portnoy including Yellow Matter Custard, Flying Colors, and the Neal Morse Band.  Neal has released several concept albums about Christianity and Christian themes starting with Testimony (2003) and more recently, Jesus Christ the Exorcist (2019) and Sola Gratia (2020).  Prog rock aficionados will likely have also heard of Morsefest which started as a weekend festival at Neal’s local church in Tennessee and continued virtually through the Covid years and will be held live again this year.

For The Dreamer, Joseph pt. 1, Morse chose to cover the story of Joseph, who has quite the epic in the Bible (Genesis 37-50).  Joseph was the most beloved of Jacob’s sons and his jealous brothers sold him into slavery, where he ended up in Egypt but through remaining faithful to God gained the favor of his master only to be accused of attempted rape by his master’s wife after Joseph spurned her advances and ended up thrown into prison which is where Part 1 ends.  Part 2 will be released in 2024 and will conclude the story with Joseph gaining favor from Pharoah, essentially saving Egypt from starvation and also being reunited with his family when they come looking for food.  To create such an epic, Morse brought in a variety of vocalists for different parts such as Ted Leonard (Spock’s Beard), Matt Smith (Theocracy), and Jake Livgren (Kansas, Proto-kaw).  For some guitar help, Steve Morse and Eric Gillette join in on some tracks.

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