Archive for February, 2013

February 28, 2013

Album 0255: Dream Evil – In The Night

DreamEvil-InTheNight

Release Date: 2010
Genre: Power Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Immortal (04:38)
2. In The Night (03:15)
3. Bang Your Head (03:52)
4. See The Light (03:40)
5. Electric (03:50)
6. Frostbite (03:31)
7. On The Wind (03:45)
8. The Ballad (04:52)
9. In The Fires Of The Sun (04:41)
10. Mean Machine (04:05)
11. Kill, Burn, Be Evil (02:51)
12. The Unchosen One (03:37)
13. Good Nightmare (04:00)
14. The Return (03:32)

Total Length: 54:09

Immortal has a decent riff to kick things off, and the final fade out is kind of interesting. In The Night is fairly good. It really doesn’t strike me, but it’s not a bad song by any measure. Bang Your Head is much the same, it’s simply not remarkable at all. See The Light has some cool rhythms, so I wonder if there is something in the production or arrangement putting me off. Electric has a couple interesting vocal moments, but still doesn’t really measure up for me.

Frostbite is again more of the same. I really can’t be assed to say much specifically about this. On The Wind has some good rhythms in it as well, but still mostly uninteresting. The Ballad is entirely boring though. In The Fires Of The Sun has some neat guitar work, I suppose. Mean Machine has a decent chorus I guess. I don’t like that I can’t say much more about this. Just kind of at a bad point right now, and this boring crap isn’t helping.

Kill, Burn, Be Evil is pretty basic. The Unchosen One is far and away the best song on here, both because it does more than the other tracks, and also because it seems like a semi-sequel to a pretty good track from the band’s first album. Good Nightmare is once more very samey. The Return caps it off in an unspectacular manner. This is just plain boring, though not as offensive as that Axenstar album for example.

Final Rating: 5/10

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February 27, 2013

Album 0254: Windir – Sóknardalar

Windir-Soknardalr

Release Date: 1997
Genre: Black Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Sognariket Sine Krigarar (Warriors Of Sognariket) (05:37)
2. Det Som Var Haukareid (That Which was Haukareid) (05:41)
3. Mørket Sin Fyrste (Lord Of Darkness) (07:27)
4. Sognariket Si Herskarinne (Empress Of Sognariket) (04:17)
5. I Ei Krystallnatt (In A Crystal Night) (05:17)
6. Røvhaugane (The Røvhaugs) (05:36)
7. Likbør (08:12)
8. Sóknardalr (05:48)

Total Length: 47:54

Sognariket Sine Krigarar is a fairly good track. It really doesn’t strike me like I know this band can. The only part that I really liked was the riff about halfway through, the one accompanied by the whooping and hollering. Det Som Var Haukareid has some neat keyboards and clean vocals, but that’s about it. Mørket Sin Fyrste is good, my favorite thing is the odd mixture of vocals. It sounds like there is a female vocal in there but I can’t really tell, it just sounds good all together.

Sognariket Si Herskarinne has some cool usage of acoustic guitars. My memory may not be the best, but those don’t crop up too often with Windir from what I recall. I Ei Krystallnatt has some cool guitar stuff, the type of Windir I really like. Røvhaugane is similar as well. I do think the ending is odd, just mastered kind of poorly. Likbør is a bigger song. It’s very good, but again I have production qualms. While it is neat when the organ comes in near the end, it is very loud and disrupts the entire thing.

Sóknardalr is a nice instrumental to cap off this album. I really want to love this album, so I’m not sure what puts me off of it. The atmosphere is good at least. Maybe it is just that since I got into this band with their later albums, it’s harder to get into this rougher-sounding, slightly more stripped down sound. I hate that I can’t really enjoy this.

Final Rating: 6.5/10

February 21, 2013

Album 0253: Dark Tranquillity – Character

DarkTranquillity-Character

Release Date: 2005
Genre: Melodic Death Metal

Tracklisting:

1. The New Build (04:06)
2. Through Smudged Lenses (04:12)
3. Out Of Nothing (03:52)
4. The Endless Feed (04:44)
5. Lost To Apathy (04:37)
6. Mind Matters (03:30)
7. One Thought (04:07)
8. Dry Run (04:07)
9. Am I 1? (04:29)
10. Senses Tied (04:03)
11. My Negation (06:29)

Total Length: 48:15

The New Build starts off with a drum fill which is kind of a pet peeve of mine, but the song itself is pretty great. I love this band’s riff style (yes I realize that they are not unique in this respect) and the use of keyboards is neat as well. The vocals sound great, it’s a great texture if I can describe it as that. Through Smudged Lenses was actually one of my favorites from this album the first time I heard it. Now I realize that it’s a pretty basic but enjoyable track.

Out Of Nothing is great, especially during the bridge. The keyboards on it are neat and the vocals are fierce. The Endless Feed is a slight change of pace, it’s different enough and really cool. The breakdown in the middle is pretty cool, it’s a good song overall. Lost To Apathy is a pretty enormous song. It’s easy to hear why it got picked as a single. Mind Matters has a neat bridge in it, and the chorus sticks with me. One Thought could be considered more of the same at this point but it is still worth listening to.

Dry Run is a very cool song as well. This whole album is very consistent. I just can’t quite wrap my head around Am I 1? for some reason. It might be the samey thing popping up, but once the song is over I can’t remember much about it. Senses Tied kind of has the same issue, but it is a good track. The only song to really compare to track five is My Negation. It has a decent intro, and the transition into the main song is disorienting but great at the same time. The last couple minutes kind of meander but in a good way, ending with the main melody dwindling down. There are issues on this album, but overall it’s definitely solid and worth your time.

Final Rating: 8/10

February 20, 2013

Album 0252: Stolen Babies – Stolen Babies

Folder

Release Date: 2003
Genre: Avant-garde Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Mileage (03:46)
2. Showcase (03:32)
3. Hand It Over (03:07)
4. Idolesce (04:13)
5. Untitled (04:53)
6. The Sewn Line (03:36)

Total Length: 23:06

Mileage has a cool main riff to it, it reminds me of something but I can’t quite put my finger on it. The production quality feels a bit cheap, but this is kind of an expensive demo for them so that makes sense. Showcase is kind of boring, there isn’t too much going for it. There’s even a part halfway through where it feels like the song totally stops. Hand It Over has a cheesy yet nice intro, but unfortunately the song doesn’t capitalize on it and I’m left uninterested.

Idolesce is kind of a nice song. It has a good flow to it but still feels like a childish song in a way. Untitled is a collection of sounds and other odd things. Two things came to mind. The first is that I have heard this done better on other records. The second is that this is useless on an EP of this length and has no thematic purpose. The Sewn Line is a fairly neat song, but still doesn’t stick with me. It’s almost a wonder the band improved so much with their first album, so I wonder how much influence the producer had.

Final Rating: 6/10

February 19, 2013

Album 0251: Sonata Arctica – Ecliptica

Sonata_Arctica-Ecliptica-Frontal

Release Date: 1999
Genre: Power Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Blank File (04:06)
2. My Land (04:37)
3. 8th Commandment (03:42)
4. Replica (04:55)
5. Kingdom For A Heart (03:52)
6. Fullmoon (05:08)
7. Letter To Dana (06:01)
8. UnOpened (03:43)
9. Picturing The Past (03:37)
10. Destruction Preventer (07:45)
11. Mary-Lou (04:33)
12. Letter To Dana (Returned To Sender) (04:39)

Total Length: 56:37

Blank File is a fantastic track to kick off the album. It’s fast, melodic, and catchy. Surprisingly the lyrics even still kind of hold up today. My Land takes a bit of a slower pace but is still fun. I really like some of the melodies in it and the chorus is fairly good. 8th Commandment is almost a little too hectic but the vocal melodies are pretty cool. Replica is a very good song that I don’t pay enough attention to. At times I feel it might be a touch too long, but it’s really not a big complaint.

Kingdom For A Heart has always been one of my favorites from the band. It gets stuck in my head easily, and I like how Tony Kakko will make fun of his own phrasing on this song during live performances. Fullmoon is fun to listen to, but I never really think of it as being one of the band’s better songs. That probably made no sense, but basically it just doesn’t do a whole ton for me. Letter To Dana is a nice ballad. The lyrics can get kind of strange, but I like this song pretty well.

UnOpened is a fun basic power metal track. I love the harpsichord patch used throughout and the chorus is great. Picturing The Past has some really neat rhythms in it, it kind of bounces around. Destruction Preventer is the band’s first attempt at a larger song, and I’ve never really been able to get into it. I like the first half, but the second slows down and isn’t interesting to keep my interest. After a tiny bit of silence at the end of the track there is a nice callback to Letter To Dana.

Mary-Lou is a neat song. Again the lyrics may be odd but they are charming and the chorus stands out here. Letter To Dana (Returned To Sender) is a re-recording of the song from 2008. It mostly sticks to the slower pace of the opening instead of revving up, and I like the keyboards in this but I think I prefer the original version more. This is kind of a classic power metal album. There are a couple small hiccups in my view, but the energy on this album kind of overcomes that.

Final Rating: 8/10

February 18, 2013

Album 0250: The Dear Hunter – Act III: Life And Death

TheDearHunter-ActIIILifeAndDeath

Release Date: 2009
Genre: Progressive Rock

Tracklisting:

1. Writing On A Wall (01:39)
2. In cauda Venenum (05:29)
3. What It Means To Be Alone (04:50)
4. The Tank (04:39)
5. The Poison Woman (04:51)
6. The Thief (05:01)
7. Mustard Gas (04:13)
8. Saved (04:42)
9. He Said He Had A Story (03:39)
10. This Beautiful Life (04:05)
11. Go Get Your Gun (03:16)
12. Son (02:16)
13. Father (03:25)
14. Life And Death (05:46)
15. Writing On A Wall (A Capella) (01:40)
16. Untitled 1 (03:40)
17. Movement I (01:54)
18. Movement II (04:47)

Total Length: 01:09:54

Writing On A Wall is a very vocal heavy opening track, and it caught my ear the first time I heard it and I still love it. In Cauda Venenum is a ton of fun, reminding me right off the bat of Helloween’s reworking of Dr. Stein. This song completely alleviates all fears that the band may have lost anything between albums. What It Means To Be Alone is a pretty good song as well, doesn’t really come into its own for me until the end and then I wish it wasn’t over.

The Tank has a great opening, those strings are mesmerizing. The rest of the song kind of falls off a bit though. It’s not bad but not very interesting. The Poison Woman has a great chorus going for it at least. The Thief unfortunately continues the trend of slightly disappointing songs. The only thing I tend to remember is the transition at the end. Mustard Gas has a great intro, and the song stays pretty catchy throughout. I like the ending as well.

Saved is a beautiful song. It has such a nice presence and I always enjoy it. He Said He Had A Story is simply fantastic. The lyrics are great, the music is catchy, and everything works well together. This Beautiful Life doesn’t do too much for me until halfway through. The vocal line and break into the bridge is kind of amazing, and pretty much what I’ve always loved about this band’s music. Go Get Your Gun is a bunch of fun, I really like the song and its instrumentation.

Son and Father work hand in hand with each other. The first one draws back to the beginning of the album, and is great as well. The second part has thematic changes in the lyrics but the songs flow perfectly and is very calm and relaxing. Life And Death continues on from these two as well, and it’s a great end to the album. The lyrics about dancing stick with me incredibly well. Writing On A Wall (A Capella) is pretty much what it says, it’s lovely.

Untitled 1 seems like a demo of some sort. It’s pretty nice as a bonus track I guess. Movement I is a neat little instrumental version of some of the main melodies from the album. Movement II is some of the same as well. This album has a couple rough spots, especially in the first half, but in the end it’s still really enjoyable. There was no point where I felt entirely bored or straight out disliked what I was hearing, it was just slight disappointment compared to what I know the band is capable of.

Final Rating: 8/10

February 17, 2013

Album 0249: Dark Suns – Swanlike

DarkSuns-Swanlike

Release Date: 2002
Genre: Progressive Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Swanlike (11:25)
2. Infiltration (05:33)
3. The Sun Beyond Your Eden (08:42)
4. Virtuous Dilemma (04:46)
5. Inside Final Dreams (08:16)
6. The Neverending (05:36)
7. In Silent Harmony II (03:08)
8. Suffering (14:35)

Total Length: 01:02:00

Swanlike has a really nice opening. It doesn’t waste too much time getting going and I like when the vocals come in. The only thing I can really say I don’t enjoy are the harsh vocals. They are there for effect rather than because they sound great. If it was another voice doing them I might enjoy it more. Infiltration has the same issue but is fairly good otherwise. The Sun Beyond Your Eden is pretty good and gives off an Opeth vibe. I will admit to getting a little bored during this track though.

Virtuous Dilemma is nice as well. It’s mostly acoustic and a good change of tone. Inside Final Dreams has a strange intro but ends up being enjoyable. It also reminds me of Disillusion at parts. The Neverending is sadly kind of boring. It’s probably the most uniformly heavy track on here but it really doesn’t do much for me. In Silent Harmony II is a very nice instrumental track to cap off the bulk of the album. It’s calm and kind of heavenly.

Suffering is a bonus track, it’s a re-recording/reworking of one of the band’s demos. It’s a big track, and I think it works really well. The harsh vocals certainly sound better here than anywhere else on the album, and there is a bit of an avant garde flair to the song. In the end this is an above average album that I don’t quite find myself drawn to. There are good ideas marred by a tendency to be overly long.

Final Rating: 7/10

February 15, 2013

Album 0248: Stratovarius – Elements Pt. 2

Stratovarius_-_Elements_Pt_2_-_frontal

Release Date: 2003
Genre: Power Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Alpha & Omega (06:38)
2. I Walk To My Own Song (05:04)
3. I’m Still Alive (04:50)
4. Season Of Faith’s Perfection (06:09)
5. Awaken The Giant (06:37)
6. Know The Difference (05:39)
7. Luminous (04:49)
8. Dreamweaver (05:53)
9. Liberty (05:02)
10. Ride Like The Wind (04:49)
11. Alpha & Omega (demo) (06:36)
12. Vapaus (demo) (06:05)

Total Length: 01:08:11

Alpha & Omega is a strong song, the chorus is definitely the highlight. This album and the previous one were created at the same time, and they definitely feel like parts of a whole. I Walk To My Own Song is fairly good. It’s standard power metal, but again Strato falls into the trap of keeping the song going for too long. I’m Still Alive is better though. Pretty catchy and doesn’t overstay its welcome. Season Of Faith’s Perfection is a strange song, starting acoustically before getting heavy, and ending with some of the band’s most interesting keyboard stuff at the end. Pretty nice in all honesty.

Awaken The Giant is fairly good as well, but again I lose interest halfway through. The chorus is kind of nice though. Know The Difference is like the first couple tracks. Fast and fun, and that’s about it. Luminous is a really nice ballad track, I just love the synths on it. The mood they give off is a great. Dreamweaver is in a sense more of the same. The chorus is nice but the rest of the song doesn’t keep my interest up.

Liberty has a really bad start but ends up being an okay song. The demo of Alpha & Omega features some studio chatter for whatever reason, and the song itself is fine. Vapaus is the demo version of Liberty. It has the vocals in Finnish (I assume) instead of English and has some interesting things that aren’t as prominent in the final song, but still not completely sold on it. Pt. 2 just doesn’t grasp me as well as Pt. 1. I almost wonder if they had taken about 3-4 songs from this and gotten rid of maybe one or two tracks on Pt. 1 and could have had one amazing 80-minute album.

Edit (10/01/2013): I added the bonus track for Japan, a song called Ride Like The Wind which is a really fun, if basic, fast song. The chorus is catchy and you can’t help but bounce along to it.

Final Rating: 8/10

February 14, 2013

Album 0247: Stratovarius – Elements Pt. 1

Stratovarius-ElementsPart1

Release Date: 2003
Genre: Power Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Eagleheart (03:50)
2. Soul Of A Vagabond (07:22)
3. Find Your Own Voice (05:13)
4. Fantasia (09:56)
5. Learning To Fly (06:22)
6. Papillon (07:01)
7. Stratofortress (03:26)
8. Elements (12:01)
9. A Drop In The Ocean (06:50)
10. Into Deep Blue (05:41)
11. Run Away (04:52)
12. Eagleheart (demo) (03:30)
13. Soul Of A Vagabond (demo) (07:37)
14. Find Your Own Voice (demo) (04:44)

Total Length: 01:28:26

Eagleheart is a fantastic opening track. The main melody is nice and the chorus is great as well, but the thing that really keeps me coming back is the dual lead of synth and guitar after the chorus. It’s a small piece of the song overall but it is just so cool. Soul Of A Vagabond kind of has a generic opening riff, but the production values on this album really lift it up and make me love it once all this cool stuff is put behind it. The chorus works well and I kind of think that this is a song I wouldn’t normally like but the band just pulls it off really well.

Find Your Own Voice is more of a basic power metal track. It’s kind of nice but goes on a bit too long, and doesn’t have anything that really catches my eye. Fantasia is inspired by the Neverending Story films. The tone of the song matches that of at least the first movie which is pretty neat and well done. The orchestral elements are great, and though the song may drag a tiny bit in the middle, it still sounds good. Learning To Fly is a much better basic power metal track, highly enjoyable.

Papillon makes heavy use of a young boy’s vocals. It adds an ethereal quality, and is a very good song. Stratofortress is a neat instrumental. I was actually familiar with the opening for a long time for an odd reason, but the rest of the song is fun too. Elements is a big track for the band. I really like the choral vocals, it gets a tad repetitive after a while, but I do really enjoy the song. A Drop In The Ocean has some nice moments like the chorus, but the song kind of meanders on for a while without direction near the end. This is the normal ending point for the album, everything past this gets us into bonus material territory.

Into Deep Blue is fairly basic for the most part, but I really love the opening, especially when it comes back at the end and they put whistling over. That section makes the song for me. It sounds creepy and demented, kind of like the Wrong Turn 2 soundtrack. Run Away is a good, fun track and wouldn’t feel out of place on the actual album. The demos round out this album. Eagleheart loses a bit from the lowered production values, as does Soul Of A Vagabond. Maybe it seems shallow in a way to think like that, but it’s also a huge part of the experience. Find Your Own Voice still sounds cool as well. I was heartily surprised the first time I heard this album. Stratovarius had always seemed a middling band to me, never really reaching great heights, but they certainly did here.

Final Rating: 8.5/10

February 13, 2013

Album 0246: Murder By Death – Red Of Tooth And Claw

murder_by_death-red_of_tooth_claw

Release Date: 2008
Genre: Indie Rock

Tracklisting:

1. Comin’ Home (03:36)
2. Ball & Chain (03:02)
3. Rum Brave (03:06)
4. Fuego! (04:11)
5. Theme (For Ennio Morricone) (02:49)
6. A Second Opinion (03:19)
7. Steal Away (02:05)
8. Ash (03:33)
9. The Black Spot (03:21)
10. ’52 Ford (02:25)
11. Spring Break 1899 (05:56)

Total Length: 37:24

Comin’ Home is an astoundingly good song. It’s got all the fixings of modern indie rock with the added bonus of very distinctive vocals and a cool use of strings, especially cello. It’s an amazing first track. Ball & Chain is a great song as well, and its bridge is so insane that it pushes the song over the top. Rum Brave has a cool intro and the rest of the song holds up well also. Fuego! has some neat vocal moments but it otherwise definitely less interesting than the first few songs.

Theme (For Ennio Morricone) is sort of the band’s take on a western film soundtrack. I’m not too familiar with Morricone’s scores, but I appreciate the notion of this track. A Second Opinion is fairly good. It’s kind of boring but again I have to highlight the vocals. Steal Away is a return to form for me after the past few songs. Lots of cool rhythms in it, I really like it. Ash is great as well, I love the slight buildups and climaxes in it. As usual, the vocals really bring it all together.

The Black Spot has a nice chorus I suppose, but otherwise it’s forgettable. ’52 Ford has a bunch of cool things in it but kind of ends suddenly. Spring Break 1899 is very doo-wop, and remains a really interesting song. The two minute fade out/instrumental is forgiven being the end of the album. This is simply a great indie record, exploring things in a somewhat unique way. There are a few duds on here, but the fantastic songs make up for those pretty well.