Blurred Vision: Organised Insanity (Self Released)
Blurred Vision are a three piece rock band with a progressive edge hailing from Canada, the band is made up of to Iranian brothers Sepp Osley on vocals and guitars, Sohl Osley on bass and their friend Ben Riley on drums. The band draw influences from many places but mostly you can hear Pink Floyd, The Beatles (especially in Sepp's vocals), Muse and Von Hertzen Bros, they play a progressive kind of music brimming with melody but also intricate and with a wide breadth of musicality provided by the three members and their fourth contributor Joel Lightman on keys. The band have a patron in Floyds founder Roger Waters and due to that it is the spirit of Floyd that looms the largest from the sax break on marching opener No More War and the dreamy Rollin' On which sounds a little too like Pigs (Three Different Ones). Unlike Floyd there are no long freakouts or solo sections the songs are concise and well written allowing for the most amount of experimentation without compromising the songs structure, melody (something they have a keen ear for) and message.
The band are very politically aware and active and this is reflected in their lyricsim (10% of their album proceeds go to the poverty charity WhyHunger) Arms Of Our World and Dear John being the two most evident, the latter being a paean to the departed Mr Lennon but also to the the legacy of peace he sought. The band however they aren't preachy using their music to inform rather than ear bash. Tonight has the chart bothering euphoria of Kings Of Leon while Long May You Run sees Sepp use his deep hushed voice to mirror Roger on this dreamy piece of music where he shows of his Gilmour-like solos as his brother and Ben Riley keep the pace with superb drumming, stirring basswork and contribute the backing ah's to make this one of the most Floydian tracks on the record. The album has a great sound to it with every nuance captured by Terry Brown's excellent production, many will know him as a the man that has produced Rush for many years and this experience shows as he makes this young band sound like they have been treading the boards for years. Promise is a modern sounding up tempo rocker that driven by a repetitive guitar and keyboard riff before exploding at the end, it is also one of the tracks that doesn't really have an influence to it, it is a song that sounds fresh and new. This is a top quality debut album that both draws from it's influences perfectly allowing them to shine through but also create their own sound around them. 9/10
Magic Kingdom: Savage Requiem (AFM)
Belgium guitar virtuoso Dushan Petrossi is now on his fourth Magic Kingdom as well as five albums with his other band Iron Mask. The man clearly has riffs and solos coming out of every pore and whereas Iron Mask is straight up neoclassical power metal about historical at all and war themes, Magic Kingdom focuses on the lives of Mickey & Co in Disneylan....no sorry that's not it (although that idea needs to happen). No the Magic Kingdom albums focus on fantasy themes played to a symphonic metal backing, since their last album in 2010 it's been all change in the Magic Kingdom camp with only long term bassist Vasiliy Molchanov still around since the bands inception (he is also the other founding member in Iron Mask) Petrossi has recruited Michael Brush behind the skins and a new voice in the shape of former Adagio and current Random Eyes vocalist Christian Palin. Palin's only album with Adagio Archangels In Black was one of their best and showed that Palin is equally adept with sky scraping highs and guttural lows, this stays him in good stead to join Magic Kingdom who added some guttural vocals for their previous effort (something that needed two vocalists). So back to Savage Requiem and what immediately strikes you is that when Petrossi has a formula he sticks to it, Magic Kingdom is symphonic metal at its purest and even though Iron Mask are similar there are enough differences in both bands to separate them. Petrossi is a hell of a guitarist, playing with style and flair contributing rocking riffs and fleet fingered solos that burn the fretboard, he also contributes the orchestral arrangements that make this album sound so big in scope, think Yngwie Malmsteen playing with Rhapsody and you wouldn't be far off Rivals Forever is a rampaging metal track on which Brush impresses on the drums, then without a beat it is followed by the slower fist in the air filled with orchestral power. Yes it's cheesy and things go a bit Spinal Tap on Ship Of Ghosts when Petrossi adds Beethoven's Ode To Joy to his solo section (all that's missing is playing it with a violin) but if you like your metal with a cinematic scope and more guitar wankery than you can shake a stick at then Magic Kingdom will be right up your street. 8/10
Chaos Divine: Colliding Skies (Firestarter)
Chaos Divine (not be associated with thrashers Divine Chaos) are modern progressive rock/metal band hailing from Perth Australia. I say modern as they will fall into the djent category along with Tesseract and Karnivool with palm muted, off kilter riffs, filled with groove but they also draw from influences as wide as Opeth, Devin and even Mastodon. Despite the elements of djent the band are so much more than a tag using bass heavy riffs from Michael Kruit in conjunction with clean flowing guitars from Simon Mitchell and Ryan Felton the band set about creating music with a wide scope and intense musicality, the songs spring from the record drawing you in with massive hooks backed by some technical drumming from Ben Mazzoral, an intricate weaving of guitars and David Anderton's sublime vocals, he serenades Badge Of Honour before tearing at the jugular on Painted With Grey which sees him move between roars and his normal vocal delivery. This album is made up of some great tracks such as the anthemic Soldiers, the dreamy Tides, the Muse meets Tool of Before The Dawn but it is difficult to pick out individual songs however as this album needs to be taken in as whole piece because of the musical breath to it. Chaos Divine are just that a perfect mix of metallic fury and melodic precision. 8/10