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Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Reviews: We Could Build An Empire, Moonshine Oversight, Reveal, Status Minor

We Could Build An Empire: In This Place (Mighty Music)

I’d seen others reviewing the second record from Swedish band We Could Build An Empire, the feedback was mostly positive so I decided to pick up a copy and see for myself. The record opens with The Great Escape a song that has a fuzzy riff and some desert psychedelia of Josh Homme and co, it’s a strutting start that gets you in the right frame of mind for the bands mildly progressive alternative rock sound, they build on a foundation of Alice In Chains (We Are All In This Together) add a smidgen of Peter Gabriel (On The Run), some Soundgarden (Worry Of The Heart) and remind me a lot of the more recent VHB material. Produced by Jens Lundgren the sound is glistenly clear. To really make this record a stand out, the band tried to make sure every song was diverse, trying to differentiate itself from the rest of the record.

Luckily Pontus Wallin (guitars), Marcus Pehrsson (bass, vocals) and Michael Olsson (drums) slot together like a well oiled set of cogs with even the more wild cacophonies such as the climax of Red III they are totally in sync. At only 8 songs the trio have a lot to do to make an impact with so few songs but they do it admirably, each song does really capture your attention for a different reason and they are all unlike the track that precedes it. Some are heavy riff rockers, some such as On The Run are more melodic progressive natured tracks with bit of Barrett era Floyd about them, The Rise And The Fall is a bit poppy while the title track has a shimmering guitar line and reverbed vocals on top of the progressive off time drumbeat. A interesting follow up record from this Swedish band one that takes risks that reap rewards. 8/10

Moonshine Oversight: Vanishing Lines (Self Released)

What images are conjured in your mind when you hear a band named Moonshine Oversight? For me I could hear the jangling of Southern style rock with smoky flavours and even some banjos. How wrong I was, this debut album is more in the alternative/progressive style of music favoured by Porcupine Tree and Tool. The band is made up of three Julien's; Pivi on guitar/vocals, Ventura on guitar, Sorel on drums and the four piece is rounded out by Florent Bazzano on bass, they combine to make the record a tough sounding, with technical erratic baselines, keening guitars on Beyond The Stars and massive drum fills.

The songs have melodies with an emotive sound betraying the progressive touches, it's also pretty heavy in places and at only 8 songs long it doesn't linger too long even on the more expansive tracks, the Tool influence is at it's best on Moonrakers and Sparkling Cut, they change the style with the haunting Southern style of Young Man which sees Julien Pivi in full voice, his soulful pipes a real defining feature. Vanishing Lines is a record that goes against the grain it's not what you think it would be, touches of Southern metal, alternative metal and big dollop of progressive mastery, for a debut it has a real maturity about it. 7/10

Reveal: Timeline (FC Metal)

Swiss, Swedish and Spanish heavy power metal Iced Earth with some Kamelot due to the keyboards but the riffs come thick and fast from founder member Tino Hevia who drives the speeding rhythms of Undercontrol, Reveal and Timeline. The wild double kicking of Dani Cabal and galloping bass from Jorge Ruiz mean the riffs on this record are tough and heavy, the melodic touches on Dark Angel and Blood And Sand come from the incendiary lead guitar of David Figue with the gleaming keys of Elena Pinto adding to the soundscapes.

He has recruited Swedish singer Rob Lundgraen he has some powerful pipes and uses them too good use throughout. Musically it’s the slightly thrashy style that mean the record has you banging your head as it continues through the tried and tested troupes of historical and fantasy fiction. Timeline is a pretty strong debut from Reveal they can craft a song with blood pumping riffs and big shout along choruses, I’d expect them to go down well to a partisan live crowd, if heavy power metal gets you excited then don’t conceal yourself from this band any longer. 7/10

Status Minor: Three Faces Of Antoine (Lion Music)

This third record by Finnish act Status Minor, is a very dark concept album, the lyrical content of the record is very mean and violent, low tuned riffs, gloomy passages of emotion but also melodic hints all make this progressive metal album sit in the Symphony X circle of influence. It’s been a six year gap between these albums but as founding member and guitarist Sami Saarinen put it he considers this the best Status Minor album so far. It’s hard to disagree as the songs bring the story of a couple with a secret to life, it even includes the legendary Slenderman, guitars and keys work together in unison much like they do on any Dream Theater or Shadow Gallery record.

The rhythm section is tight and expressive and the vocals have a certain duality to them as part of the story. It’s and aggressive record with long instrumental sections punctuated by spoken word pieces that drive the narrative, many of the songs are longer format but nothing more than you’d expect with this kind of music, the playing is scientific but never lacks creative flair, a couple of the songs could be enjoyed as standalone pieces but everything works so much better as part of the record itself. Three Faces Of Antoine is an album that requires repeated plays and the finale is truly haunting, the storytelling more than music made me want to listen to the end and as I did the story became clearer. Status Minor have successfully put a mystery to music and they have done it very well indeed. 8/10

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