Temperance: Earth Embraces Us All (Scarlet Records)
Italian symphonic metal troupe Temperance are a pretty prolific band by modern standards, Earth Embraces Us All is their third record in as many years and by rights they should have made at least one mis-step by now, thankfully there is no sign of one on this record, in fact it builds upon the the two previous records and makes for a more mature, progressive listen with the songs a lot more complicated and featuring more musically intensive compositions than before. Much of this is due to the impressive keyboard/guitar dynamic that sets pulses racing from the first song A Thousand Places on a trajectory similar to Amaranthe with the keys pumping out pulsating dance vibes as the crunching metal riffs drive the songs hook.
What's interesting about this opening song is the vocal interplay between frontwoman Chiara Tricarico who has a powerful classically trained vocal but can adapt it to numerous styles as guitarist Marco Pastorino's gruffer pipes are the counterpoint much like fellow Italians Lacuna Coil. At The Edge Of Space and Unspoken Words keep the pace high, as Unspoken Words adds a folk element and the electronics cut through again on Empty Lines that has some excellent 8-bit sounding keys a cracking dual vocal chorus and Tricarico at her poppiest.
With the impressiveness of the vocals it can be easy to overlook the musicianship but gold stars all round to bassist Luca Negro and drummer Giulio Capone who not only blasts away with his expressive drumming but also provides the keys and finally as well as his vocals guitarist Marco adds rocking riffs and searing solos. Earth Embraces Us All has a modern sound and like I said it expands on the bands previous records by giving a more exploratory sound than before, see a song like Haze which is one of the most interesting songs on the record effortlessly blending the throbbing electronica with galloping metal. It's a great album that puts Temperance three out of three in terms of quality as this record is yet again filled with excellent, premium quality symphonic metal. 8/10
Palace Of The King: Valles Marineris (Listenable Records)
I gave Palace Of The King's last record White Bird/Burn The Sky a hefty 9/10 based on the quality of the bluesy retro psych rock that was featured on the record. The Aussie six piece tip their hat to the past masters while also fitting squarely in with the modern revivalists. The rumbling organs give way to guitar riffs on Let The Blood Run Free with two guitarists the band are a heavier prospect than many of their contemporaries. The opening salvo turns into a slinky bass driven middle section which has some blue-eyed soul to it this carries through to the funky Beyond The Valley on which Tim Henwood shows his vocals chops and the dual guitars of Leigh Maden and Matt Harrison build in conjunction with Sean Johnston's keys to a crescendo of power.
Palace Of The King have a spirit of Zeppelin flowing through them but drawing heavily from the Houses Of The Holy era when they experimented with more textures, witnessed on electric piano thumping soul Black Cloud which also has some gospel vocals over the top of a shaking percussion from Travis Dragani. Valles Marineris (Named after Latin name for Mars' Mariner Valley fact fans) eases off a little on the bluesy hard rock of it's predecessor instead adding different flavours to the band's sound with funk, soul, psych and more blues adding to the record's appeal.
They can still bring a heavy rock riff on We Are The Vampires which shows off Andrew Gilpin's bass playing to it's maximum as does the strutting, mind bending Sick As A Dog. On the heavy psych of Empire Of The Sun the band bring more big riffs as Henwood wails with his unique shamanic vocal phrasing. Yes you can say they sound like Zeppelin in places but they also have hints of Stevie Wonder and The Doors as well as having nods to contemporaries such as Scorpion Child and fellow Antipodeans Wolfmother. Is this record as good as it's predecessor? Yes of course it is, not as immediate or direct but it does open itself up after a few listens to be another stunning record! 9/10
(Hed) P.E: Forever! [Review By Paul]
I’ll be totally honest with this one. I’ve never got (Hed) P.E. Their fusion of gangsta rap and punk (G-punk) has never moved me in the slightest and their latest release, album number 11 Forever! is no different. There are moments: Opener Live is a cacophony of styles whilst the aggression of Pay Me combines Korn and Hatebreed with massive grinding riffs from new guitar man Gregzilla (that’s Greg Harrison to you and me) pique the interest.
The various vocal styles of main man and only original member Paulo Sergio "Jared" Gomes range from rapping to death growls and it probably adds to the difficulty in liking this. I just don’t like rapping. Closer is just an angry wall of noise, a mixture of Skindred and Limp Bizkit and Hurt does exactly that … to my aural senses. This contains the full range of Gomes’ delivery and I can imagine if you like this then it will get you very excited.
Maybe I’m not best placed to review this as I found it difficult to get through the whole album more than twice. I fully appreciate how (Hed) P.E. may well be revered in certain circles and the music certainly mixes up genres, with prime examples being One Of A Kind which sits fully in the reggae box before it aggressively explodes into life and the reggae lifeblood that pulses through Shadowridge and Together. (Hed) P.E are clearly a Marmite band and if you like this type of Marmite then I’m pretty sure it will appeal. Unfortunately it does little for me. 6/10