Archive for September, 2013

September 28, 2013

Album 0358: maudlin of the Well – My Fruit PsychoBells… A Seed Combustible

MOTW-MFPASC

Release Date: 1999
Genre: Avant-garde/Progressive Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Ferocious Weights (07:36)
2. A Conception Pathetic (07:03)
3. Undine And Underwater Flowers (08:48)
4. The Ocean, The Kingdom, And The Temptation (11:22)
5. Pondering A Wall (06:22)
6. Catharsis Of Sal-Sleep And Dreaming Shrines (09:33)
7. Blight Of River-Systems (05:51)
8. Outro (02:01)
9. Beauty (08:39)
10. The Crystal Margin (03:23)

Total Length: 01:10:38

Ferocious Weights starts with a pretty heady intro, both heavy but with touches of oddity, like the horns that help push the mood. Female vocals are the first heard in this album, which kind of offset an ethereal quality to the darkness of the music. The song kind of climaxes most of the way through, and then we get a calm section to release the tension and head toward the next track. A Conception Pathetic starts out with some heaviness but quickly discards that in favor of a more psychedelic flavor, before heading back into land of riffs. This is probably one of the more accessible tracks on the album, but even that isn’t saying much honestly. I like the circus-y ending.

Undine And Underwater Flowers has a quieter intro, and it doesn’t do a whole lot for me. The song really grabs me a few minutes in when suddenly you’ve got woodwinds covering both ends of the stereo soundstage, and just that one little thing changes the dynamic quite a bit for me. The whole song keeps that pace which is nice but kind of tiring. The Ocean, The Kingdom, And The Temptation is a bigger track, but I feel it kind of meanders. I do enjoy the moments about halfway through when again, the woodwinds come on. I don’t know if it’s the pure sound of those instruments, the novelty of them in relation to the rest of the album, or how their usage is more innovative than what is done with the other instruments.

Pondering A Wall is immediately more engaging than the previous track, and a bit more crazy in general. The riffs are quite good, on par with some of the other metal acts at the time while employing odd traits like the flanged vocals. It also brings back some female vocals, and they only add to the strangeness, making this a pretty effective track. Catharsis Of Sea-Sleep And Dreaming Shrines is a big song that is very tough for me to get into. I like some of the things it does but it’s hard to wrap my mind around and I almost dislike it for that.

Blight Of River-Systems is much more palatable to me. It’s a more standard song but the use of fairly odd, sometimes macabre lyrics in a poppier setting is neat, and the song does to get to go nuts near the end. Outro is kind of useless to me, it’s just two minutes of indecipherable whispering. Fits the album, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. Beauty and the next track are probably from a demo by the band, though I have no idea which one. This song kind of treads some of the similar ground as the album while being less ‘out there’. I don’t particularly enjoy it, honestly. The Crystal Margin is a bit simpler and kind of reminds me of The Meads Of Asphodel. I find it to be a decent track. This album of course has some growing moments and won’t catch you on the first listen, but I also think it’s pretty near to reaching the peak of how much I’ll enjoy it.

Final Rating: 7.5/10

September 27, 2013

Album 0357: Moonsorrow – Viides Luku – Hävitetty

moonsorrow-viides_luku_havitetty

Release Date: 2007
Genre: Folk Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Jäästä Syntynyt/Varjojen Vita (Born Of Ice/Stream Of Shadows) (30:10)
2. Tuleen Ajettu Maa (A Land Driven Into The Fire) (26:19)

Total Length: 56:29

Note: The title translates to Chapter V – Ravaged.

Jäästä Syntynyt/Varjojen Vita begins with a lengthy intro, though that seems obvious from the track’s enormous length. The song builds up wonderfully to a sort of mini-climax, before slowing things back down. The song kind of gets to the heaviness first around six minutes, and doesn’t slow down for another ten after that. It’s just a wonderful mixture of the transcendental qualities of black metal that I love with this band’s heavy laden production and textures. The whole track is amazing for the entire length, and it only gets better the more times I hear it.

Tuleen Ajettu Maa opens in a familiar manner for the band, with what sounds like a few men sitting around a campfire. A chant begins and grows, until the song about explodes. This track is just as big and dense despite the four minute difference. The whole album is ridiculous to try and understand the first or even fifth time through. The compositions are so well done, never boring and always keeping you engrossed. It’s kind of unbelievable.

Final Rating: 9/10

September 26, 2013

Album 0356: The Phenomenauts – Pre-Entry

ThePhenomenauts-Preentry

Release Date: 2004
Genre: Rock/Punk

Tracklisting:

1. I Am Robot (02:59)
2. Rocket Roll (03:16)

Total Length: 6:14

This was a little teaser the band put out before their new album. These two tracks are live. I Am Robot is pretty fun, I like that you can still make out the upgright bass over the other instruments, and this really plays into the band’s aesthetic. I just really dig that the band plays old school type rock, but sings about the future. It’s such a fun dynamic. Rocket Roll is fairly fun too, but the best part is that it’s extremely hard to tell if they are saying the title or just ‘rock and roll.’ This is a neat little piece from the band, but I don’t find myself listening to it too much, if ever.

Final Rating: 6/10

September 25, 2013

Album 0355: James LaBrie – Static Impulse

JamesLaBrie-StaticImpulse

Release Date: 2010
Genre: Progressive Metal

Tracklisting:

1. One More Time (04:17)
2. Jekyll Or Hyde (03:47)
3. Mislead (04:19)
4. Euphoric (05:10)
5. Over The Edge (04:21)
6. I Need You (04:12)
7. Who You Think I Am (03:58)
8. I Tried (03:59)
9. Just Watch Me (04:19)
10. This Is War (04:30)
11. Superstar (03:33)
12. Coming Home (04:25)
13. Jekyll Or Hyde (demo) (03:49)
14. Coming Home (alternative mix) (04:24)

Total Length: 59:00

One More Time has an obnoxious first few bars, but past that the riffs are cool and harsh vocals are totally unexpected but welcome. James’ vocals come in on the chorus and it’s pretty great. The harsh vocals are from the drummer, and there’s also backing vocals by the keyboardist so there’s a wide range on here. The song is pretty well done, overall. Jekyll Or Hyde kind of has a shaky start, mostly because I don’t like processing on James’ vocals in the verse. The chorus sounds great, again mixing the vocals together.

Mislead is kind of basic, though really all the songs to this point have been. They are just plain enjoyable though, I can’t dislike them. Euphoric is just decent. I don’t really know what the song was getting at but I suppose it sounds kind of nice. Over The Edge has some really cool rhythms to it, they’re cool to hear. I Need You starts off sounding like a melodeath song, and the song is good again but nothing really special. None of it sticks with me.

Who You Think I Am is much the same. Just average and plain. I Tried is at least memorable in the chorus but that’s it. Just Watch Me has some cool instrumental bits in it though. This Is War is fairly good and heavy. Superstar is alright. Coming Home is probably the best song on here honestly, and it’s the ballad. I’m just a total sucker for it and it catches me in the gut. The demo of Jekyll Or Hyde has the keyboard player singing the lead. He’s not great but it’s kind of neat to hear, still. Coming Home is an allternate mix but I can’t really place the differences. Still a great song though. For me, this is just an average album. Nothing really sets it apart.

Final Rating: 6.5/10

September 22, 2013

Album 0354: Pink Floyd – The Division Bell

pink_floyd_the_division_bell_front

Release Date: 1994
Genre: Progressive Rock

Tracklisting:

1. Cluster One (05:57)
2. What Do You Want From me (04:22)
3. Poles Apart (07:04)
4. Marooned (05:30)
5. A Great Day For Freedom (04:17)
6. Wearing The Inside Out (06:49)
7. Take It Back (06:12)
8. Coming Back To Life (06:19)
9. Keep Talking (06:11)
10. Lost For Words (05:13)
11. High Hopes (08:34)

Total Length: 01:06:27

Cluster One is kind of a mess of an intro track. It’s meant to be highly atmospheric and I suppose build tension, but it just doesn’t work. The first couple minutes could have been discarded and would have made no difference, for example. The thing is that the band has done similar things, such as on Crazy Diamond, but there it eventually led up to a breaking point, it made it all worth it. This song does neither of these. I also don’t count the stronger opening of What Do You Want From Me as the realization of what the first track was building to. The song itself has some nice points in it, but overall the song annoys me for some unknown reason.

Poles Apart is a much better track, even though it goes on too long. The rhythms of the vocals and guitars are quite neat, and even the useless bridge/instrumental section has some neat moments with the carnival in the background. Marooned is a fairly nice instrumental, definitely one of the stronger tracks on the album. A Great Day For Freedom begins in a memorable way, referencing their album that had been made over a decade ago. After that though, the song doesn’t go anywhere for me and is a bit of a dud.

Wearing The Inside Out has an ungodly bad intro though. Who approved this porn music? Past that there’s a couple neat rhythms, but the song just isn’t for me. Take It Back is just kind of boring. There’s a piece of an interesting track here, but there was no restraint taken on this album it feels, they just kind of let things linger and go on because whatever. Coming Back To Life kind of has two intros. The first sucks, and the second feels like a retread of what happened earlier in the album. Once the song finally starts proper (like over two minutes in) it’s kind of fun but has the same issue as the last track in that it overstays its welcome.

Keep Talking has some neat ideas but kind of flounders on them. I’m just not fond of the Apple talk program thing, and the backing vocals are unbearably cheesy and distracting. It’s funny though, I almost wrote ‘talkbox’ in the previous sentence but forgot that there actually is a talkbox in the track. I’ll give it points just for using a talkbox in a song questioning why people won’t talk to each other. Lost For Words is just sort of boring outside of the random ‘fuck’ in the lyrics. High Hopes has some neat bells at the bit, but some of the lyrics are delivered poorly, like they were forced into something smaller than they should have been. That said, the solo section is quite good and the use of keys is great. In the end though, none of it holds up. There is not a single song that invites me back to this album and none of it is really memorable. It’s kind of pitiful, and I’ve tried to like this album for more than what it is.

Final Rating: 4.5/10

September 21, 2013

Album 0353: The Bruce Lee Band – The Bruce Lee Band

TheBruceLeeBand-st

Release Date: 1997
Genre: Ska/Punk

Tracklisting:

1. Superman (01:22)
2. Gerry Is Strong (01:55)
3. Calling For Me (02:00)
4. List (00:42)
5. Hongulmamotaya (02:16)
6. Standing Up For Justice (01:30)
7. Mr. Hanelei (02:23)
8. Proud (01:47)
9. Going Insane (02:11)
10. Song #3 (Part 2) (00:47)
11. Brother, Brother (01:37)
12. Loved By Ann B. Davis (01:51)
13. Konsomida (02:24)
14. She’s An Angel (02:04)
15. Don’t Sit Next To Me Just Because I’m Asian (17:59)

Total Length: 42:49

The Bruce Lee Band is more of a front, it’s Mike Park’s solo project but on the two releases thus far he had another band act as the backing band for him. On this album, it’s Less Than Jake so it’s all their instruments as well as some of the backing vocals. Superman starts off with a sample from the Superman cartoon, and plenty of other tracks on here start with a sample as well. The song itself is fun and quick and has some cool lyrics.

Gerry Is Strong is upbeat as well, it has some neat moments in it. You can hear Roger and Chris providing the backing vocals in this one which is neat. Calling For Me sounds like this really strange mixture of Less Than Jake and Skankin’ Pickle which entirely makes sense. It’s kind of cool to hear though. List is a tiny little track and not as interesting as the others so far. Hongulmamotaya seems to be entirely in Korean, though my lack of knowledge in the language can’t confirm that. I also really like the horn riff and the rhythm of the track.

Standing Up For Justice is the odd man out on this whole album as Chris takes over lead vocal duties. I’m surprised this song didn’t get handed around at any point in time as a ‘rare’ LTJ song. Really neat though. Mr. Hanelei has a bit more in common with Mike’s solo records, it’s acoustic driven and a really odd retelling of the Hawaii episodes of The Brady Bunch. Proud is mixed oddly but just fun to listen to.

Going Insane is fairly fun but not too special. Song #3 (Part 2) is only notable for it’s tiny length but otherwise does nothing for me. Brother, Brother is super fun and great. Loved By Ann B. Davis brings back The Brady Bunch references, and the song is a bit above average. Konsomida has a really neat riff, and also seems to be in Korean as well. This time though he got Chris and Roger to sing some as well, which is kind of surreal.

She’s An Angel is a cover of They Might Be Giants and it works really well in the chorus but the rest of the song feels off. Don’t Sit Next To Me Just Because I’m Asian is a funny song where Mike takes hold of a stereotype and messes with it. He does this some on his other solo albums as well. It’s another acoustic track and pretty fun. The song actually ends at about 2:20, followed by five minutes of silence. The bonus material is another nice acoustic song for two and a half minutes, five more minutes of silence, then the band covers the Gilligan’s Island theme, and that last one may as well be a lost Less Than Jake song. It’s exactly how they would cover it on their own time. The last couple minutes are some studio chatter and one final sample. The album has grown on me over time, and I kind of like it more each time. There are some strong moments in it and I’d love to hear Mike take another swing with some of these songs.

Final Rating: 7/10

September 20, 2013

Album 0352: Nazgul – Awaiting The Battle Ravens

Nazgul-Awaiting-The-Battle-Ravens

Release Date: 2003
Genre: Black Metal

Tracklisting:

1. At The Gates Of Samhain Night (00:59)
2. Land Of My Ancestors (04:41)
3. Born In Unbaptised Forest (06:06)
4. Awaiting The Battle Ravens (05:45)
5. Celtiberian Werewolf Warriors (05:48)
6. Wrath Of Taranis (02:09)
7. Under The Barbarian Swords (03:42)
8. …And The Snow Fall In The Forest (05:22)

Total Length: 34:33

At The Gates Of Samhain Night is one of the coolest intros to a black metal release ever. A guitar and bass driven little piece with slight percussion backing. Land Of My Ancestors has some cool riffs and the vocals work okay. I can’t say that there is anything terribly innovative here. Born In Unbaptised Forest has some neat moments that echo the intro, it at least adds some variety to the flow.

Awaiting The Battle Ravens has some neat rhythms but otherwise doesn’t do anything for me. Celtiberian Werewolf Warriors at least has a cool title, but the rest of it leaves much to be desired. Wrath Of Taranis is a good interlude though, very atmospheric and relaxing. Under The Barbarian Swords is a decent track. …And The Snow Fall In The Forest is pretty competent, but not enough to redeem everything. This album is just plain boring to me. I should not that this is the Nazgul from Spain, there is another Nazgul as well.

Final Rating: 5/10

September 19, 2013

Album 0351: Arjen Anthony Lucassen – Lost In The New Real

Arjen-Lost-in-the-New-Real

Release Date: 2012
Genre: Progressive Rock/Metal

Tracklisting:

DISC ONE

1. The New Real (06:24)
2. Pink Beatles In A Purple Zeppelin (03:36)
3. Parental Procreation Permit (05:03)
4. When I’m A Hundred Sixty-Four (02:31)
5. E-Police (04:07)
6. Don’t Switch Me Off (04:06)
7. Dr. Slumber’s Eternity Home (03:51)
8. Yellowstone Memorial Day (03:31)
9. Where Pigs Fly (03:47)
10. Lost In The New Real (10:19)

DISC TWO

1. Our Imperfect Race (06:27)
2. Welcome To The Machine (04:45)
3. So Is There No God? (04:41)
4. Veteran Of The Psychic Wars (04:34)
5. The Social Recluse (03:55)
6. The Battle Of Evermore (05:28)
7. The Space Hotel (03:49)
8. Some Other Time (03:21)
9. You Have Entered The Reality Zone (03:24)
10. I’m The Slime (02:53)

Total Length: 01:30:33

The New Real starts off the album in a pretty massive way. First, by having Rutger Hauer introduce the story of the album, something related to Ayreon but wholly its own thing. Arjen basically plays a guy woken up in the future and everything follows from that idea. The song has a great buildup and one really cool heavy part, to be expanded upon later. Basically a fantastic intro song for the album and for Arjen’s first solo project in a very long time.

Pink Beatles In A Purple Zeppelin references four of the biggest bands in its title alone, and the song is about whether or not there can be new music in the future. The lyrics are fun and the chorus in particular is totally catchy. Parental Procreation Permit is a great track as well, again the lyrics are interesting and the ending bit with random growled vocals is oddly amazing.

When I’m A Hundred Sixty-Four is another Beatles reference, and the song is upbeat and I like the Celtic feel. Very nice little track. E-Police is honestly a stronger track though, more driving and the lyrics are a bit better. Simply amazing track that gets stuck in my head. Don’t Switch Me Off is a bit of a change to a more downtrodden bit, and the song has some great moments and a good ending.

Dr. Slumber’s Eternity Home is unbelievably happy while presenting some darker lyrics. I really love this track. Yellowstone Memorial Day has a stupidly cheesy intro (thanks Arjen) but once it gets past that point the song is pretty good. Doesn’t quite hold up to some of the other tracks on here, but that’s fine. Where Pigs Fly kind of seems like another reference to a classic band, despite the idiom being around for a long time. I just really love this track, the music is happy and catchy and the lyrics are a fun twist on pop culture references, as if looking into an alternate dimension.

Lost In The New Real caps off the main album in a ridiculous way. The majority of the song honestly kind of treads some of the same ground as the first track, but it’s all worth it about eight minutes in when that powerful riff makes it return with a lot more oomph backing it and the song kind of explodes into something fantastic. The second disc is a mixture of covers by some of the bands mentioned throughout the album, as well as unused songs that, for whatever reason, Arjen didn’t feel fit in the main thoroughfare.

Our Imperfect Race has some neat moments but kind of feels like it tries to do too much in its length and just doesn’t catch me. Make no mistake though, this second disc may be ‘leftovers’ in a sense but they sound just as good as the regular album and songs even connect a bit, as the fadeout leads right into the next track. Welcome To The Machine is a Pink Floyd cover, and I can’t say I really like how the main riff sounds but otherwise Arjen’s take on the track is neat.

So Is There No God? has some good ideas as well, but I don’t really like the intro and the chorus is really weak. Basically the song overall just doesn’t do much for me. Veteran Of The Psychic Wars is a Blue Oyster Cult cover, and it’s simply amazing. The atmosphere is just oozing off the song, and the lyrics are fantastic. This song alone makes me wonder why I haven’t paid much attention to Blue Oyster Cult more.

The Social Recluse kind of hits close to home, but not in a really painful way. It’s more just commentary on the situation, presenting both good and bad parts. Really nice track. The Battle Of Evermore is a Led Zeppelin cover, and it keeps the mysticism that was in the original but I’m still not really big on the song. The Space Hotel doesn’t seem to have a point necessarily but I like what it does, it just sounds nice.

Some Other Time is a cover of The Alan Parsons Project, and it’s great. The song is smooth and calm, and the chorus with the use of synths is fantastic. You Have Entered The Reality Zone is a pretty nice track, I enjoy it a lot. The backing vocals aren’t so good though, it reminds me of something bad that I can’t quite put my finger on. I’m The Slime ends things with an amazing, fun Frank Zappa cover. Arjen kind of goes over the top even more than the original song was, and changes some of the lyrics to fit the modern time but it totally works. This song is incredible and I’m not sure how you could dislike it. This whole album is inviting and outstanding, I never hate listening through it.

Final Rating: 9/10

September 18, 2013

Album 0350: Devin Townsend – Infinity

DevinTownsend-Infinity

Release Date: 1998
Genre: Progressive Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Truth (03:59)
2. Christeen (03:41)
3. Bad Devil (04:53)
4. War (06:29)
5. Soul Driven Cadillac (05:15)
6. Ants (02:01)
7. Wild Colonial Boy (03:05)
8. Life Is All Dynamics (05:07)
9. Unity (06:58)
10. Noisy Pink Bubbles (05:21)
11. Sister (live acoustic) (02:16)
12. Hide Nowhere (live acoustic) (05:03)
13. Man (1996 demo) (05:12)

Total Length: 59:18

Truth starts off with some catchy guitars and cool riffs, before going into an insanely cool section where circus vocals kind of form the backing bit along with the guitar going down the scale. It’s simply amazing and the best part of the track. Christeen is more like a pop song done Devy style, it’s really fun and the chorus gets stuck in my head. Bad Devil kind of amps it up, with a bit of fun, Halloween flair to it. The organ and horns add a whole other dimension and it sounds like some joy is being had.

War is fairly good, but kind of a different beast. The song just kind of plods it on, though not necessarily in a bad way. It’s more like the song has a steady rhythm and kind of builds on that, until the odd ending. Enjoyable but strange. Soul Driven Cadillac is pretty similar. It’s not the best material Devin has but it’s fine, and again the ending is weird. Ants is absolutely nuts and kind of a pinnacle of how weird Devin can be when he lets loose. It’s fast and crazy and hard to keep up with.

Wild Colonial Boy again has a bit of that circus feel and is upbeat. I quite enjoy it, especially the little bits of percussion in the background. Life Is All Dynamics is a bigger song. Devin definitely does these better on later albums, but this is still an engaging track here. Unity has a fine intro, but it great once it gets going. The song gives off a nice atmosphere and is a fitting ‘end’ to the album, even though there’s one more track and then bonus songs.

Noisy Pink Bubbles is kind of odd and does whatever its wants, meandering along. There are some nice moments in it. Sister is a live track, done acoustically. The intro is kind of grating, but once the melody kicks in the song is really nice. There’s even a funny moment at the end, where Devin tells an audience member to shut up. Hide Nowhere is done in the same style, and it’s kind of loose but a nice change of pace from the original. Man is a demo track, it’s pretty cool and has some neat moments. This isn’t entirely one of my favorite Devy albums, but it’s got its own thing going on and some tracks that are absolutely memorable.

Final Rating: 8.5/10

September 17, 2013

Album 0349: Nightwish – Once

Nightwish-Once

Release Date: 2004
Genre: Power Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Dark Chest Of Wonders (04:29)
2. Wish I Had An Angel (04:06)
3. Nemo (04:36)
4. Planet Hell (04:39)
5. Creek Mary’s Blood (08:29)
6. The Siren (04:45)
7. Dead Gardens (04:28)
8. Romanticide (04:58)
9. Ghost Love Score (10:02)
10. Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan (Death Makes An Artist) (03:59)
11. Higher Than Hope (05:37)
12. White Night Fantasy (04:04)
13. Live To Tell The Tale (04:59)

Total Length: 01:09:11

Dark Chest Of Wonders is a beautiful opening song, making great use of the live orchestra that backs most of this album. Everything on this track works and it’s hard to hate it. Wish I Had An Angel is really good outside of the electronic elements, it personally just feels a bit much at some points. The mixture of vocals is cool though. Nemo seems kind of Stratovarius influenced with just drum and bass during some of the verses, but once the guitars do come in they kind of wash over and are not well defined at all. The song has some cool melodies but for my part doesn’t do too much with them. I don’t dislike the song, but it could have been much more.

Planet Hell however works way better. The intro is more compelling and the buildup to the verse is fantastic. The cheesy dual vocals come back and they’re frankly amazing. Creek Mary’s Blood is a song I’m torn on. I like what it does but it also feels like something they shouldn’t be doing. I guess it’s enjoyable but the song is a bit longer than it needs to be. The Siren has a nice intro, but that’s about it. The song doesn’t stick with me and is again probably a bit lengthy for what it does.

Dead Gardens has a really good chorus, I love the vocals in it. Pretty solid song. Romanticide is more of a ‘classic’ track that doesn’t try to be too much, and I like it well enough for that. Ghost Love Score is the big track on here, one of the band’s more famous pieces. It has some cool stuff going on and kind of goes all over the place, but I can’t entirely get into it. Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan is nice but doesn’t feel well defined to me.

Higher Than Hope is a fairly nice track that builds up to a good point, but it wouldn’t really work as the regular end to the album, I think. White Night Fantasy features a quite strange vocal line for the verse, and for that I give it credit because it sets itself apart. Live To Tell The Tale is straight cheesy power metal, like it sounds like the climax to Neverending Story type deal. The rest of the song doesn’t quite live up to its intro though. I enjoy listening through this album, but it didn’t change me like a great album should.

Final Rating: 7.5/10

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