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Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Out Of The Beyond 13

Full Strike: We Will Rise (2002)

This is the only album from former (then current) Hammerfall guitarist Stefan Elmgren's side project Full Strike. The album is slightly different to the straight up trad metal sound of his day job as comes from more of a thrash/speed metal base. The backing band are all excellent with singer Niclas Johnsson being a highlight Elmgren's guitar playing is tight and precise throughout playing speed riffage and razor-sharp solos. The album is a good old school speed metal album that will appeal to Hammerfall fans. 6/10
  
Cans: Beyond The Gates (2004)

Continuing the link this is the only solo album from Hammerfall singer Joacim Cans. The album features of cavalcade of some of the best metal players backing the powerful tonsils of Mr Cans. The guitarists are Metal Mike Chlasciak (Halford and who co-writes with Cans) and Stefan Elmgren with the bass being provided by the hardest working man in metal Mat Sinner (Primal Fear, Sinner and again co-writes). The tracks are all of great quality yet they all have a familiar Hammerfall sound because of Cans' distinctive pipes. Best track on the album however is the title track which features a solo from Firewind's Gus G and was co-written by Firewind's former singer David Chastain. This is a great album that will not do anything for those who don't like Hammerfall but for those who do it is a real treat. 7/10

Brian May: Back To The Light & Another World

Back To The Light

This is the first solo album from legendary Queen guitarist Brian May and starts with instrumental The Dark which features the signature tone and kicks into the great title track which has an almost gospel feel. The album features a myriad of styles featuring rock, pop, funk and soul. May handles nearly all of the instrumentation with his vocals being excellent and his guitar playing still being (one of) the best in the world the drums which are handled by Cozy Powell (R.I.P). The album has strong tracks in the likes of Driven By You, Love Token and Too Much Love Will Kill You (which was also recorded by Queen). This album is excellent and you can really see the talent that made Queen great and also you can see that Dr May himself is still open to exploring new frontiers. 8/10

Another World

This is the follow up and is a little heavier and features more covers than its predecessor and features rocking The Guv'nor, China Belle, Business and the evil sounding Cyborg. The amount of covers could come from the fact that Cozy Powell died during the recording. The best of the covers comes from his cover of All The Way From Memphis which features the talents of Ian Hunter. This album is slightly weaker than Back To The Light but is bolstered by May's talent. Another good solo album from the cornerstone of Queen. 7/10

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Reviews: Lamb Of God, Beyond The Bridge, Failure To Follow

Lamb Of God: Resolution (Roadrunner/Epic)

Upon finally hitting the big-time with their previous album Wrath Virginian modern metal kings Lamb Of God have decided to look backward while going forward, the clean vocals are still in place but Randy Blythe can still growl like a demon and does on the majority of the tracks on this new release. The band themselves are saying the album has more in common with their earlier works they have maintained the experimentation that was present on Wrath. This is true but this album is one of two halves, the first half of the tracks pack the old school rage of As The Palaces Burn and Ashes Of The Wake they are a group of fast paced thrashers with blast-beats galore and razor-sharp riffing mixed with groove based hostility. The first second track Desolation has much in common with their previous big track Redneck. The second half of the album is all together more modern separated by the instrumental Barbarossa (the name of their recording studio) the tracks are still super-fast or groove based but has more of the clean singing and guitar solos that featured on Sacrament and Wrath. The final track King Me has a large orchestral backing and is very different to what has come before, a sure sign of a band comfortable with their past. All in all this is a great album that serves as a reminder of past glories and continues the current path that Lamb Of God is taking in a very organic way. 9/10       

Beyond The Bridge: The Old Man And The Spirit (Frontiers Records)

Hailing from Germany this is the debut album from Beyond The Bridge and has been in production since 2005 with the actual first recordings taking place in 2008. All of the band are classically trained musicians and this album is a concept album that deals with the "polarity of human sensuousness and superhuman awareness". Both of these are reflected respectively by the human character of the Old Man who is voiced by vocalist Herbie Langhans who has a rugged middle range and the supernatural Spirit voiced by his female co-vocalist Dilenya Mar who has not got the operatic vocals of contemporise but a very excellent pop/rock style. Both of them sing brilliantly and complement each other and the backing choir very well. The instrumentation is also top class with guitarist Peter Degenfeld and keyboardist Christopher Tarrow the main creative and instrumental force. The guitars are heavy and the keys are excellent but not over-bearing. The whole album flows excellently with all of the tracks featuring time signature changes and classical influences; it is also produced to high level with frequent Sascha Paeth collaborator Simon Oberender handling the production ensuring it is modern and crisp. Overall this is a great album that needs to be heard in one sitting as there are no 'individual' tracks like with most concept albums. The one weakness is that there are many other bands doing this and it will be hard to break out of the European melee. 8/10

Failure To Follow: Wasting Away E.P (Self released/ ITG Records)

Young British band Failure To Follow deal in raging hardcore with melodic touches. This is their first e.p (ever) and it packs in 5 hard hitting, venom spitting slices of prime hardcore with a sprinkling of heavy groove and technical guitar melodies. The band are all very proficient considering how long they have been a band (About 2 years). The guitar playing of Harry and Russell is speedy and technical with rundowns and shredding galore, this is anchored by the hard-hitting engine room of Lee and Ollie who rage with furious rumbling and blast beating coming from both respectively. Starting with the instrumental B.C.H.C the e.p kicks off with a heavy breakdown that roars into 'proper' opening track The Burn on which the band immediately kick off in head-smashing style. The vocals of Tom Williams snarl and roar throughout the album and are particularly great (as are the rest of the band) on No Vision, Strike Back and Wasting Away. The latter featuring some big gang vocals courtesy of the band. All in all this is a great debut e.p from a very young and talented band (these tracks will tracks and destroy live.) Top notch stuff, in a genre that can be a little samey Failure To Follow are a breath of fresh air. 8/10

Thursday, 19 January 2012

SOPA and PIPA

It's not often that I get political on this blog, I do try to keep it to music, however do the immense scale of this topic and the fact that it has to do with illegal downloading and the internet in general it means that what better place to oppose it than on the internet, because who knows we may not be able to soon. For those who don't know however all of you should, the SOPA and PIPA acts are two pieces of American legislation that are designed to stop piracy/illegal downloading and a whole host of other things that relate to regulation on the internet. However what they actually are a step towards internet control, they could in theory result in all user-generated content being deleted from the internet and unless you pay for copyright to material you want to use then it will be deleted, now many of you will know that YouTube have done this for a while with Universal Music being the biggest killjoys, however this has not stopped people as they have posted the same videos on other sites that are not as heavily funded and reliant on advertising revenue as YouTube. While I don't torrent, or illegally download (as most of you know) I don't really have a problem with it as yes it does hurt the smaller bands and people such as studio engineers and such but really who gives a shit if Mariah Carey can't afford another house. People have always found ways of sharing content that in most cases they have purchased with friends (how many people have made a mix tape/cd?). People want to discover things about bands or films or whatever and they have to use Wikipedia, imdb or other user-generated websites because usually the official information is poor at best. 

You may think this is an American only problem but if you consider that most of these companies are American based if they have to close because of the law or shutdown their operation that is shutdown on everyone's internet meaning that people in Japan can't see another Nyan Cat or men in offices won't able to settle the debate over Samuel L Jackson's first film. It will affect all of us not just the American's, also as they tend to be the frontrunners in this stuff it won't be long before our pussy-whipped yellow government follow suit, (and you can bet that they won't hold a referendum.) All in all this would lead to the last bastion of totally free speech is all but eradicated, yes there is some horrible shit on the net but there is also things of true beauty (much like in life) and it is all dependant on what you want to find rather than what you will find. 

There are only a few possible outcomes to this whole mess:

1. The bill fails (for now). This is the best outcome for all concerned
2. The bill passes. The companies affected cease to exist the internet becomes a lot more 'streamlined', other countries follow suit. We get one step closer to Orwell's nightmare.
3. The bill passes. The companies move they're business to Europe or Asia and we experience the Net-Bubble that the USA did because of our lack of regulation. This intern would lead to us not getting the regulation because of the money that can be made. Eventually the law is repealed in the USA as they are lagging behind the rest of the world because of an outmoded view. (This last one is farfetched I realise but it's the best of a bad situation)

All in all this would be a shambles from a country that claims and I quote:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

So go redress your grievances make your voice heard:


Cheers and Rock on!

Normal service will be resumed

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Out Of The Beyond 12

Ecliptica: Impetus

This power/traditional metal band from Austria have a unique prospect in that they feature both male and female vocalists, however unlike bands that have the harsh/ethereal model both vocalists have clean vocals with Thomas Tieber having a classic powerful metal voice and Elisabeth Fangmeyer having an almost pop croon. The album features the excellent backing of two guitarists in Markus Winkler and Bernhard Scholtz who also contributes vocals on the majestic Turn Away. The rhythm section of Florian Thur and Roman Klomar provide a muscular back beat. The tracks merge between heavy classic metal with some tracks having a progressive influences especially the final track Black Swan and other tracks have a sleazy hard rock vibe. Both vocalists perform well together with their voices meshing brilliantly. This is a great first album form a band that has a great future ahead of them, it remains to be seen whether the new female vocalists and guitarists can produce a second time after the loss of Fangmeyer and Scholtz. 7/10
 
Sons Of Seasons: Gods Of Vermin & Magnisphyricon

Gods of Vermin

Sons Of Seasons are a progressive/symphonic metal band formed by Kamelot keyboardist Oliver Palotai who handles both the keys and guitars on both albums. Gods Of Vermin is their debut and immediately sets about showing what the band are about. The opening title track features changing time signatures and massive symphonic hooks this is followed by the soaring Blind Man's Resolution. The vocals of long-time Metallium singer Henning Basse provides a powerful mid-range vocal on all the tracks which is supported by the classical vocals of Epica singer (Palotai's girlfriend, and cover model of the CD) Simone Simons and the growls, roars and barks of Epica/After Forever singer/guitarist Mark Jansen. All in all this entire album features top-quality prog/symphonic metal from a group of musicians who are well versed in this genre. 7/10

Magnisphyricon

This is the second album from SOS and features the added guitars of Pepe Pierez which means that this album has a heavier sound. Again the main vocals come from Henning Basse with help from Ms Simons this album is far more progressive than the first with the album split into 3 parts separated by the 3 instrumental title tracks that means this concept album has a very audible story coming through it. The tracks all seem to be far more accomplished that they were on the debut however there is not really much progression which will put some off but also means that the band have stuck to what they know best. This is another accomplished effort from a band that is more than just a side-project. 7/10

Volbeat: Beyond Hell/Above Heaven

Danish 'Elvis-metallers' released their newest album in 2010 and again it features barnstorming, Metal-billy. They are a mix of old-school rockabilly bands with a healthy dollop of Metallica thrown in for good measure. Frontman Michael Poulsen has a great Hetfield growl that easily moves into an Elvis croon. the album kicks off with the great The Mirror And The Ripper which is the continuation of Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood from their last album. The tracks range from boogie heavy rock of 16 Dollars to full on thrash with the riff-fest Evelyn featuring Napalm Death's Barney Greenway. This is another great album from a band that is raising their profile with every release and soon they will be headlining big shows in their own right. This release shows that they have progressed excellently and I for one can't wait for their next release. 8/10


Ecliptica: http://youtu.be/SORvq1w8nPc
Sons Of Seasons: http://youtu.be/hPGrI3BikkU & http://youtu.be/DJPMjBFkRUw
Volbeat: http://youtu.be/tR_-PAWM9es  

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Out Of The Beyond 11

Seven Tears: In Every Frozen Tear

Young Swedes Seven Tears released their debut album In Every Frozen Tear in 2007 and it is a heady mix of melodic and progressive metal. The band are all virtuosos considering their age and this technical ability is shown in the odd time signatures that are thrown in to highlight the progressive nature and adds flair to the main bulk of melodic even AOR tinged metal. The band has crunchy guitars and propulsive keys and the vocals of Zoran Djorem are clean and crisp. The production is superb and it is handled by the band themselves which shows how talented this young band are. This is an excellent album with songs like Twist Of Fate and Faded Memory sticking in your mind for days after. All I hope is that they get around to releasing another album soon. 8/10
 
Andre Matos: Time To Be Free

Time To Be Free is the debut solo album from Brazilian vocalist Andre Matos; he is a former member of the prog/power metallers Angra and Shaman. This solo album continues in this genre vein adding a liberal dose of symphonic and classical elements courtesy of Matos' classical piano playing. The album features the Mariutti brothers on guitar and bass respectively both of whom have come from Angra with Matos and are long time collaborators. The album is full of classically influenced power metal with tracks like Letting Go, Rio and Rescue all top notch rockers that are mixed with soaring ballads. The album is produced by power metal super extraordinaire Sascha Paeth and co-produced by Roy Z who is most notable as the producer guitarist of Rob Halfords solo projects as well as Bruce Dickinson's solo projects, Z also provides guitar on a few of the tracks on this album especially the track How Long (Unleashed Away) which I think is the best track on the album. The orchestral elements are also excellent and are provided by long time Paeth collaborator Miro Rodenberg. This is a solid album from a man who was still finding his feet as a solo artist and the myriad of influences shows this, it does however suffer from too many ballad syndrome. 7/10

Andre Matos: Mentalize

This is Mr Matos' second solo album and is a far better-rounded affair. He has finally found his niche and can let himself grow a little. Matos voice is excellent on both albums but on this he takes it up a gear. He reminds me of screamers like Dickinson but has a lot more in common with Michael Kiske of Helloween or Tobias Sammet from Edguy because of his accented delivery (no wonder he is featured on the Avantasia albums). This album also up's the rock levels with the guitars and keys packing more of punch and some tracks like Shift The Night Away having a very speed metal approach, there are still ballads but even these a brought to another level of pomposity and are all better for it. Again the album is produced by Paeth but this time co-produced by Matos himself which is probably why there is a more of personal touch to this record. This is another slice of great symphonic metal from an excellent vocalist. 8/10

Cain's Offering: Gather The Faithful

Cain's Offering is a band formed by former Sonata Arctica guitarist Jani Liimatainen after his departure from the band. The album shares all the same hallmarks as Sonata with the galloping bass and drums, the speedy guitar riffing all over-layed by layers of keys. However what makes this album just a little different is that it features the unmistakeable vocals of Timo Kotipelto of Stratovarius who lends his heartfelt and supremely powerful vocals to the album and is more than a match for Sonata's Tony Kakko. Jani's guitar playing is excellent throughout the album as is Mikko Harkin's keyboard playing (who also features on Symfonia's debut album, which is the newest project of former Stratovarius guitarist Timo Tolkki and features Andre Matos on vocals, see its all linked folks). The album is described as an album of 'love songs' however there are few ballads and the majority are rip roaring power metal filled with solos galore and Kotipelto's soaring vocals. Good album for any fans of the members involved anyone else may just see a traditional power metal band. 8/10

Seven Tears: http://youtu.be/W6AZeYgJaCY
Andre Matos: http://youtu.be/vHTX-Az9YX0 & http://youtu.be/-kyckVwGD1A
Cain's Offering: http://youtu.be/7f9alJoClaM