Find us on Facebook!

To keep updated like our page at:

Or on Twitter:

Or E-mail us at:

Thursday 3 February 2022

Reviews: Rolo Tomassi, Silent Skies, Lana Lane, Praying Mantis (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Rolo Tomassi – Where Myth Becomes Memory (MNRK)

At the end of their PR for this album there is one sentence that sums up everything you need to know “There is no band on Earth quite like Rolo Tomassi”, never has a truer word been spoken as the Brighton quintet have been I a league of their own since forming in 2005, playing what used to be called math metal these genre leaders have spawned many imitators but have always been one step ahead of the game when it comes to innovating. Shifting towards a style only really shared by Dillinger Escape Plan they can shift from frenzied wild eyed aggression to peaceful tranquillity at moment’s notice, switching between the two with head spinning frequency. 

After their previous release Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It in 2018, Where Myth Becomes Memory has become a very anticipated release essentially finishing the unintentional trilogy of albums that started with 2015’s Grievances, climaxing things in their own unique way of massive cinematics and apocalyptic destruction. For 17 years the genre originators are now the leaders and on the back of this record it’s going to take a lot to knock them off their perch, tracks such as the incredibly impressive Drip essentially creating new genres as it plays, building from a persistent single snare, into the a song that is brain melting, volatile and display a wealth of technical know how but also the ability to refine and recalibrate their assault to keep the listener (and journos like us) guessing. 

Chris Cayford’s impressive guitars can be sparse and echoed then rapidly shift into furious rage the next, the rhythm section of Nathan Fairweather (bass) and Al Potts (drums) leaning on jazz signatures heavily but doing so in primal hit it as hard as possible style, eagerly waiting for tracks such as Stumbling or Closer where the dreampop and shoegaze elements wrap around you created by the James Spence’s lush keys/piano. Of course there are also the incredible vocals of Eva Korman who can be a haunting on dreamscapes such as Almost Always or Stumbling to confrontational on the vicious Mutual Ruin or Labyrinthine which is probably the heaviest track, so often though it’s both. 

Where Myth Becomes Memory closes out with the beautiful The End Of Eternity, a spectral track that is a release full on release of emotion with a slow burning intensity. The album feels like as if it’s the releasing of all the emotions many of us have been feeling this year, a type of catharsis driven by frustration, worry and at times near madness, coming just as there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel, it’s brandishing hope and continuing Rolo Tomassi’s run of incredibly complex records that also have a broad appeal. A wonderful album., that will be more than just a memory. 9/10 

Silent Skies – Nectar (Napalm Records)

Sometimes metal can get a bit too much, so an album such as Nectar is needed to revitalise the soul and rest the ears. It of course helps that the vocalist here is Evergrey’s mastermind Tom S Englund, who, for the second time has teamed up with producer/keyboardist/pianist Vikram Shankar for a second album of atmospheric musical soundscapes, that will enchant and enthral from the stirring openings of Fallen From Heart to the closing title track. Richard Oliver gave the debut record a big thumbs up so would the sophomore collaboration be as successful. Well as a pressed play, the swell of strings, heartbeat like electronic beat, those rich, full vocals came in and I was hooked. 

The music and lyrics are matched perfectly, meaning that this is more than side project but two men who are trying hard to complement each other, Shankar stripping back to highlight the vocal, but then cranking up when Englund is in full Evergrey mode, the emotion ringing out of every syllable, the cinematic backing hooking you into an ethereal, poignant songwriting where the simplicity of the compositions is what makes them endearing. 

The occasional contributions of Leprous cello player Raphael Weinroth-Browne adds another dimension but the record is very much a showcase for VIkram and Tom, the latter reaching a level of soulful, performing he can’t in his more metal based day job. I bet money you could place songs such as Neverending on a mainstream radio station and listeners would assume it’s someone akin to Lewis Capaldi. 

The impassioned, yearning vocals and instrumental dexterity means that Nectar is a beautiful record to drop into your listening habits, perfect for late nights in front of the fire, the analogue strings, virtuoso piano and electronics all melding with that ever impressive voice, meaning you get lost in the duos musical vision on songs like the darker tinged Leaving. Nectar proves this to be more than a one off, the lushly composed, excellently performed record that is a break from blasbeats and screaming. 8/10

Lana Lane – Neptune Blue (Frontiers Music Srl)

Having released her last album in 2012, Lana Lane returns on the Frontiers label for her newest album Neptune Blue. Joined by her husband Erik Norlander who plays keys/bass and produces the album, this record is draws from the work Norlander has done with John Payne’s Asia with a prog/pomp soundscape. Joined by Jeff Kollman and Mark McCrite on guitars, Greg Ellis on drums and Payne himself on backing vocals. So with this band the comeback was on ready for Lana to return to stages and recording. 

Neptune Blue is a comeback album that does exactly what you’d want a record from this accomplished rock vocalist. Lane has been releasing music since the mid 90’s much of it lapped up by Japanese audiences (she was signed to Marquee/Avalon), having met Norlander she was dubbed “The Queen Of Symphonic Rock” and her back catalogue is littered with various genres and styles, but on this record they stick to the prog-pomp sound songs like Really Actually, the organ drenched Remember Me and the acoustic Come Lift Me Up

There are all manner of styles on this record (it is prog) but nothing goes off the rails into complete virtuosity, the songs are all written around Lane’s excellent soulful vocals, the grooving Bring It On Home an ideal comeback single, though Miss California comes close. Neptune Blue is a Lane re-establishing herself in the rock scene with another record of rock anthems that will appease her fandom. 7/10

Praying Mantis – Katharsis (Frontiers Music Srl)

On their 12th studio release Praying Mantis continue to forge ahead with the same melodic rock style they have been peddling for a long while now. Brothers Tino and Chris Troy still lead the band joined by long time guitarist Andy Burgess and most recent additions Hans In’t Zandt (drums) and Jaycee Cuijpers (vocals), both having been there since 2013. The brothers are the creative force of this long running act but the other members also get creative input so there is a decent mix of new and old. 

Opener Cry For The Nations sounds an awful lot like The Scorpions, with its anthemic chorus and general feel. It’s a long way from the NWOBHM that the band found themselves a part of back in the day, despite having formed in 1973. A victim of circumstances they never really hit the heady heights of some of the contemporaries however they were able to adapt their sound towards the melodic rock style you can hear on this 12th album without the intense media scrutiny that bands such as Def Leppard had for doing the same thing. 

So Katharsis is a melodic rock album, from front to back there is very little trace of their NWOBHM past, but then if you’ve been following the band you’ll know that this is where they sit now musically, big ballads and punchy rockers sit side by side, often one directly after the other. There’s a sense of nostalgia on Long Time Coming, Sacrifice features some heavy percussion while Wheels In Motion is saccharine 80’s cheese ala Journey. The same can be said for a lot of the ballads on this record, most of them slow and piano driven. 

If the melodic rock stylings of Praying Mantis have not driven you away yet then there’s lots more to like on Katharsis, however those who recognise the name, but may have not listened to the band for a while may feel a little confused when presented with this slice of AOR. 6/10

No comments:

Post a Comment