The Room: Caught By The Machine (White Star Records) [Matt]
I've said before about my love of progressive rock and also about my love of White Star Records, one of the leading progressive rock labels in the country. The Room are their newest signing and they once again are band who have their own approach to the genre which sits so well with the more melodically inclined record label. The sextet hail from the Southeast of England and this third album has a typical Englishness to them, with influence such as Saga, Magnum, Marillion and It Bites (a band featuring White Star co-owner and this albums producer John Mitchell), there's a distinct pomp-pop style to the record with the songs all full of big hooks as the songs move between driving rockers such as Bodies On The Road, shimmering nuggets of AOR like Run and a bit of Reggatta de Blanc ala The Police for Broken.
These more straightforward songs are met with the more elongated progressive numbers such as the massively Marillion sounding Drowning In Sound which along with Clover, the Floydian Vanished and It's Not My Home make up the latter part of the record giving a feel of building to a crescendo as the soundscapes get more dense and dramatic. It's an album that has a cannae knack of mixing an upbeat musical palette with a nihilistic viewpoint of how the human race tries to make things better but ultimately fail, a statement dealt with mainly on the driving The Golden Ones. The Room are Martin Wilson -vocals, Steve Anderson - guitar, Eric Bouillette - guitar, Mark Dixon - keyboards, Chris York - drums and Andy Rowe - bass and Caught By The Machine is an album that should really be sought out if pop-driven prog rock is your bag, enter the room and get caught in the machine. 8/10
Crypt Trip: Haze County (Heavy Psych Sounds) [Matt]
Formed in Dallas in 2013 by guitarist/singer Ryan Lee, bassist Sam Bryant and drummer Cameron Martin. Apparently they were originally a purely psychedelic rock band but now they owe more than a debt to Greg and Duane, yes folks much like Canadian's The Sheepdogs, Crypt Trip have nailed the sound of The Allman Brothers with some additional pedal steel from Geoff Queen complimenting the harmonized guitar of Ryan Lee. However the buck doesn't stop there, this rocking three piece have really brought together some of the best sounds in the 'classic' rock gamut and unleashed them with some excellent musicianship. To Be Whole has some great guitar playing but also boasts expressive drumming and fleet fingered bass playing from Martin and Sam. It's the kind of rock n roll often overlooked by classic rock lovers, full of Southern grit and hangdog lyricism.
It's a winning formula repeated throughout the the record that reeks of those halcyon days of the late 60's-early 70's where the sun always shines and heavily mustachioed guys ride their choppers over dusty barren wastelands. Haze County does have a lot of psych touches to it the fast and loose Death After Life has some free form jams as the band lock in like the great trios such as Cream, Jimi Hendrix Experience and one of my personal favourites Grand Funk Railroad. Flashes of guitar brilliance meld with a rhythm section that propel tracks like Free Rain a song so imbued with the spirit of Farner, Brewer and Schacher that it needs to be played shirtless in front of 1,000's of screaming hippies, though when the pedal steel returns for Wordshot we're back with Duane and Dickie trade offs (and a little bit of Quo thrown in for balance).
16 Ounce Blues though is a misnomer as this is country track through and through and the start of a more mellow part to the record as the dreamy Pastures wafts into the closing freak out of Gotta Get Away that drenches the guitars in phaser and has freaking drum solo in the middle of it! (I'm not kidding). I'm a sucker for The Allman's and Grand Funk Railroad so this album has cheered me up no end, play this when the sun is shining and it'll guarantee good times, welcome to Haze County light em up and play it loud! 8/10
Eremit: Carrier Of Weight (Transcending Obscurity Records) [Paul S]
Eremit are a trio based in Germany, Carrier Of Weight is their first album. The first thing we should deal with is the number and length of the tracks on this album. The album only has 3 songs; no I haven’t got this confused with an EP, the album is one hour and nine minutes long, so these are very long songs. In fact the first song Dry Land is 23 minutes long, second track Froth Is Becoming is 11 minutes and final track Cocoon Of Soul is 33 minutes long. So, what do we get in our really long songs? Well, Dry Land has a long, slow build up before a quiet, clean riff comes in. After a couple of minutes of this an enormous riff and snarling vocals come crashing in. The heavy side of this band is as huge as anything metal has so far produced, it’s the same sort of hugeness that you get from Electric Wizard, Thou or now defunct British sludge act Lazarus Blackstar. After about 7 or 8 minutes of this the track goes back to the clean riff from the opening of the track. We get a couple of minutes of clean before the immense riff returns for the rest of the track, but for the last couple of minutes the riff slows down and by god this is heavy! Froth Is Becoming is a faster track than the track that came before it, the riff has more inertia and bounce.
Again there is a slower, cleaner part before a new slower and heavier riff comes in and pounds the listener till the end. In the last few months I have reviewed a load of albums that are shorter than the last song on this album! Cocoon Of Soul contains, in it’s 33 minutes, a slow introduction that goes into a soft, clean section, several massive riffs, some slow, some with a bit of pace, a couple of dissonant solos, a riff that reminds me of Celtic Frost’s song A Dying God Coming Into Human Flesh and for the last 4 minutes of the song a blasting, intense tremolo picked ending. I realise that some people reading this might be thinking that this is a small number of riffs for songs this long, and normally you would be right. However this is a band that manage to make this sort of repetition hypnotic and trance inducing, rather than tedious and boring. It’s the way the band subtly change how the riffs are played and add solos and other elements that stop it being boring, in fact if they put more riffs in it wouldn’t have this hypnotic quality that makes the album. I’ve really enjoyed this album, I am a sucker for a bit of trance inducing, if you are the same, check this out! 8/10
Dawn Of Existence: Pale Mythos (Deadbolt Records) [Rich]
Pale Mythos is the debut EP by melodic death metal two piece Dawn Of Existence. The band is made up of Votan who performs guitars, synths and drums and Astor who performs bass, vocals, guitars and synths. This EP is more of a showcase of the bands abilities with five different songs showcasing five varying styles though all rooted in European styled melodic death metal from the keyboard led epic style of Marble Garden and Mystic Serpent to the more death metal driven Skoda ‘14. This band definitely has potential but just need a more cohesive release to display their abilities. A further release where they stick to a tried and tested formula has the potential to be great indeed. 6/10