July 16, 2014

Album 0458: Banco Del Mutuo Succorso – Darwin!

BancoDelMutuoSoccerso-Darwin

Release Date: 1972
Genre: Progressive Rock

Tracklisting:

1. L’Evoluzione (Evolution) (14:03)
2. La Conquista Della Posizione Eretta (The Conquest Of The Upright Stance) (08:43)
3. Danza Dei Grandi Rettili (Dance Of The Big Reptiles) (03:43)
4. Cento Mani E Cento Occhi (One Hundred Hands And One Hundred Eyes) (05:23)
5. 750.000 Anni Fa… L’amore? (750,000 Years Ago… Love?) (05:39)
6. Miserere Alla Storia (Have Mercy To History) (05:59)
7. Ed Ora Io Domando Tempo Al Tempo Ed Egli Mi Risponde… Non Ne Ho! (And Now I Ask Time For Time And He Answers Me… I Don’t Have Any!) (03:29)

Total Length: 46:59

L’Evoluzione starts off with a neat atmosphere that is a mesh of things going on at the time with a heavy dose of some special bit that just feels Italian. The vocals are great as well, and the arrangement is amazing. The song takes off about a third of the way through and it’s a ton of fun and sums up what is amazing about this band. There’s so many strange little elements going on and they are all great. Really amazing song to start off the album.

La Conquista Della Posizione Eretta starts off fantastically as well, and is just chock full of fun proggy stuff akin to Gentle Giant. Danza Dei Grandi Rettili is a somewhat jazzy instrumental piece. It’s fun, but pretty much all the other tracks outclass it. Cento Mani E Cento Occhi gets nuts pretty quickly and stays that way the whole time, including one of the heaviest moments I’ve ever heard in a prog album from this ear.

750.000 Anni Fa… L’amore? is really a showcase for the singer, and it doesn’t fail on that front one bit. Miserere Alla Storia is a second instrumental track, and just as crazy as the first. It’s always inventive and never dull to listen to. Ed Ora Io Domando Tempo Al Tempo Ed Egli Mi Risponde… Non Ne Ho! has a bit of a circus flair to it and it just really nice and pleasant, though kind of creepy as well. This album grew on me pretty quickly, and now a lot of it won’t get out of my head, especially the vocals.

Final Rating: 9/10

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July 14, 2014

Album 0457: Ensiferum – Victory Songs

Ensiferum-VictorySongs

Release Date: 2007
Genre: Folk Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Ad Victoriam (03:11)
2. Blood Is The Price Of Glory (05:17)
3. Deathbringer From The Sky (05:11)
4. Ahti (03:56)
5. One More Magic Potion (05:21)
6. Wanderer (06:33)
7. Raised By The Sword (06:11)
8. The New Dawn (03:42)
9. Victory Song (10:38)
10. Lady In Black (04:34)

Total Length: 54:34

Ad Victoriam is kind of standard as far as intro tracks for albums like this go, but it’s a solid one. It’s kind of down-key, like it’s trying to stay back and not be in your face, which is a good change of pace. Blood Is The Price Of Glory is a solid track, but I feel like it goes on too long and tries to do too much. The meat of the song is lost in all the fluff, there’s no single bit that I can hang on to when trying to think of it later.

Deathbringer From The Sky is much better in that regard, the opening sticks with you and the chorus is catchy as hell. This song is really the start of the album for me. Ahti has more in common with Finntroll or Korpiklaani than the Ensiferum of old, but I’m not really complaining. I love hearing interesting arrangements and instruments like in here, and the vocals work very, very well. One More Magic Potion is a lot of fun as well. It kind of loses itself at times, but I’m enjoying myself the whole time so all is well.

Wanderer has a great intro and the song builds very well. I admit the album turned me off at first. The lack of Jari and feeling the need to compare brought it down, but on its own it’s quite well done. Raised By The Sword is also pretty great, though I don’t think most of these songs need to be 6 minutes. The New Dawn is a fine song, but by this point in the album it feels kind of unnecessary.

Victory Song has a fairly long intro that honestly feels kind of useless. There are some cool riffs and bits in it, and the chorus is nice. Not one of the best ‘longer’ tracks I’ve heard, but done well enough. Lady In Black is a Uriah Heep cover, and surprisingly it fits their style pretty well. It seems like a simple song and they kind of overdo it, but it’s not bad at all. Kind of sums up this album: enjoyable to listen to but doesn’t beg me to play it again right after it’s done.

Final Rating: 7.5/10

June 27, 2014

Album 0456: Streetlight Manifesto – Somewhere In The Between

StreetlightManifesto-SomewhereInTheBetween_original

Release Date: 2007
Genre: Ska/Punk

Tracklisting:

1. We Will Fall Together (04:49)
2. Down, Down, Down To Mephisto’s Cafe (05:03)
3. Would You Be Impressed? (03:22)
4. One Foot On The Gas, One Foot In The Grave (05:28)
5. Watch It Crash (04:43)
6. Somewhere In The Between (03:43)
7. Forty Days (03:53)
8. The Blonde Lead The Blind (04:49)
9. The Receiving End Of It All (05:18)
10. What A Wicked Gang Are We (03:23)

Total Length: 44:31

We Will Fall Together has an amazing opening, and brilliant percussion throughout. The song just begs you to sing along, and it’s so much fun to. This song did a lot to allay fears people had after waiting so long for this album. Down, Down, Down To Mephisto’s Cafe is even more of an outlandish song, it keeps you guessing with its structure and I love it. The only thing that has ever seemed odd to me is the bit near the end of the song, it feels like a vocal gets cut off and like there’s supposed to be more to the song.

Would You Be Impressed? is very cool as well, I love the lyrics and how they interact with the ups and downs of the song. This one actually too me a bit of time to get, but I love it. One Foot On The Gas, One Foot In The Grave slows it down a bit with its intro, and is a pretty expansive song. It’s another one that didn’t click at first, but it is really brilliant and also begs you to sing along. Watch It Crash is not quite as good as the majority of tracks on here, but there is a lot to love about it.

Somewhere In The Between has some pop sensibilities but I absolutely adore the lyrics and the song is just too catchy and fun. Forty Days is fantastic as well. I love the atmosphere and the percussion in it, and getting a bonafide guitar solo is very cool. The Blonde Lead The Blind has somewhat simplistic lyrics, but the music behind it all is fun and upbeat. It does feel like they should be singing “we’re gonna make it after all” at one point but other than that it’s solid.

The Receiving End Of It All is the best song on here. It’s the closest one to the style from their first album, and the lyrics are top notch. This song should have absolutely been the one to close out the album, so much so that sometimes I think it actually is. What A Wicked Gang Are We is a great track, but not really fitting to end the album with. It’s lyrics are also much less cool compared to the previous track. This album really takes me back and was really influential to me at a time when I needed it. Simply amazing.

Final Rating: 9.5/10

June 26, 2014

Album 0455: Skyclad – Oui Avant-Garde Á Chance

Skyclad - Oui Avant-Garde A Chance

Release Date: 1996
Genre: Folk Metal/Rock

Tracklisting:

1. If I Die Laughing, It’ll Be An Act Of God (03:48)
2. Great Blow For A Day Job (04:20)
3. Constance Eternal (05:53)
4. Postcard From Planet Earth (05:11)
5. Jumping My Shadow (05:28)
6. Bombjour! (04:04)
7. History Lessens (The Final Examination) (04:20)
8. A Badtime Story (05:35)
9. Come On Eileen (03:56)
10. Master Race (04:08)
11. Bombed Out (Instru-Mental) (04:07)
12. Penny Dreadful (Full Shilling Mix) (03:11)

Total Length: 54:01

If I Die Laughing, It’ll Be An Act Of God is a high spirited, fast paced song that hits you strongly at the beginning of this album. The folk elements are obvious, as well as the hometown influences that are present. Great Blow For A Day Job has even more of a folk element, and is akin to a folk punk tune like Flogging Molly in terms of tone and lyrics. This band can get a little bit harder, though. Constance Eternal is a bit of a softer song, but it doesn’t really gel for me and goes on too long.

Postcard From Planet Earth is just overdone. I get it, but they don’t need to beat me over the head with it, and there is just too much annoyance here. The song just feels embarrassing now. Jumping My Shadow just keeps on with the softer tracks, and while it’s pleasant to listen to, it doesn’t feel quite right. I just don’t really like its placement here. Bombjour! tries to be more upbeat and fun, but it doesn’t connect with me. Maybe it’s just because I’m an American, who knows.

History Lessens (The Final Examination) is a little better and more interesting, but once again the lyrics are super on-the-nose and feels so simple and silly. A Badtime Story is thankfully a bit heavier, and has probably the best chorus on here. The song still goes on too long, and I feel like I could love this song a lot more if some things were different. Come On Eileen is a cover of the classic track, but it really, really does not fit this band. It’s also so British that is almost hurts, in a weird way.

Master Race is also a cover, and also really out there in front with its message. It really gets in the way, and makes me not want to listen to the song. Bombed Out (Instru-Mental) is as the title says, an instrumental and it’s a very fun one. Penny Dreadful is the best song on here to be honest. I first heard the cover of it, but it is brilliant and and I just love everything about it. If the album was more like this and the first two tracks, it would be a classic for me. Instead it’s just disappointing.

Final Rating: 6/10

June 14, 2014

Album 0454: Shpongle – Ineffable Mysteries From Shpongleland

Shpongle-IneffableMysteriesFromShpongleland

Release Date: 2009
Genre: Psychedelic/Electronic

Tracklisting:

1. Electroplasm (10:13)
2. Shpongolese Spoken Here (06:38)
3. Nothing Is Something Worth Doing (06:24)
4. Ineffable Mysteries (10:26)
5. I Am You (11:37)
6. Invisible Man In A Fluorescent Suit (08:54)
7. No Turn Unstoned (08:02)
8. Walking Backwards Through The Cosmic Mirror (08:13)

Total Length: 1:10:26

Electroplasm has both a heavier intro than I would ever have expected from this group and the melodies are a little more clear and accessible than they have been before. They are not dumbing it down by any means, the song sounds great and smart. I’m not too fond of the vocals over the end of the song though. Shpongolese Spoken Here goes nuts from the start and stays that way the whole way. It’s pretty cool overall, and one of the shorter tracks on here.

Nothing Is Something Worth Doing has almost a Caribbean vibe to it which lends a whole new flavor of sorts to this group’s repertoire. It makes the song really relaxing and enjoyable. Ineffable Mysteries has some cool bits with vocal samples, and it really makes the song. There’s also some cool bits with some horns doing cool deals. I Am You is a huge song, and while the first part doesn’t do much for me, once the main vocal line kicks in the song never really lets go. It builds up really well to a great ending.

Invisible Man In A Fluorescent Suit has a cool intro too, and I just really dig its groove. The only part I don’t like is the last couple minutes. It’s hard to explain, because even though I know drugs surround this music, having it so blatantly present like that annoys me. No Turn Unstoned is great to me. I’m sure some fans were turned off since it has a more standard use of vocals then what the group has done before. I really love it though, it works wonderfully. Walking Backwards Through The Cosmic Mirror isn’t as significant as the other tracks but it is still solid and does its job well. I can’t fully get into this album, but there is definitely some amazing material here.

Final Rating: 8/10

May 23, 2014

Album 0453: Coheed And Cambria – In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3

Coheed And Cambria - In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth 3

Release Date: 2003
Genre: Progressive/Alternative Rock

Tracklisting:

1. The Ring In Return (02:07)
2. In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3 (08:13)
3. Cuts Marked In The March Of Men (05:01)
4. Three Evils (Embodied In Love And Shadow) (05:09)
5. The Crowing (06:36)
6. Blood Red Summer (04:05)
7. The Camper Velourium I: Faint Of Hearts (05:21)
8. The Camper Velourium II: Backend Of Forever (05:23)
9. The Camper Velourium III: Al The Killer (04:15)
10. A Favor House Atlantic (03:55)
11. The Light & The Glass (09:39)
12. 21:13 (09:47)

Total Length: 01:09:30

The Ring In Return is a bit too plot-heavy intro for me, but the music is nice once it starts, referencing the band’s previous album. In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3 has an amazing intro that builds wonderfully, though I feel like there is pretty much always a disconnect between the band’s lyrics and the music. Claudio is writing this epic story (at least in his mind) and the music can only rarely approach the level he wants it to be at. This song is quite good, but that disconnect is obvious. I will also say that this song has an odd bit where like the song Master Of Puppets, it didn’t need to break and come back into itself. The gang vocal part also sounds weak and childish.

Cuts Marked In The March Of Men has some neat ideas, but I just really can’t connect with it. There’s just nothing to the song for me. Three Evils (Embodied In Love And Shadow) is a nice simple song with a non-simple title. The main riff is poppy and catchy and drives the song forward. It has a terrible ending though. The Crowing has some cool moments in it as well, but unfortunately it’s another song that doesn’t stick with me, it’s just kind of too busy and never hits me emotionally.

Blood Red Summer gets back on the right track thankfully with a pretty powerful chorus. The Camper Velourium is a trilogy of varying quality. Faint Of Hearts starts it off and is fairly solid, I can’t say anything too bad about it. Backend Of Forever has some cool guitar parts and a few neat vocal bits, but they still kind of fall flat at times. Al The Killer tries to be heavier I guess, but it does not work very well for me. To be frank, this band just feels weird to me. It never feels right.

A Favor House Atlantic is a shorter, more pop oriented song but for me it is entirely forgettable. They finally get around to doing something different with The Light & The Glass as they take a softer approach with a slow burn buildup. The song keeps going and gains more emotional traction until it reaches the end. I really enjoy the vocals and melodies throughout. The ending is also really nice, bringing back that theme from the opening track. 21:13 is a solid song as well, even if I don’t think it earns its length as well as the previous song. This album still bothers me and the overall tone is something I take issues with, but there are great moments on here.

Final Rating: 6/10

May 15, 2014

Album 0452: 3 – The End Is Begun

3-TheEndIsBegun

Release Date: 2007
Genre: Progressive Rock

Tracklisting:

1. The World Is Born Of Flame (03:25)
2. The End Is Begun (03:42)
3. Battle Cry (04:03)
4. All That Remains (03:54)
5. My Divided Falling (03:51)
6. Serpents In Disguise (03:25)
7. Been To The Future (04:21)
8. Bleeding Me Home (03:47)
9. Live Entertainment (03:28)
10. Diamond In The Crush (03:41)
11. Shadow Play (04:07)
12. These Iron Bones (04:10)
13. The Last Day (07:53)
14. See Emily Play (03:20)

Total Length: 57:07

The World Is Born Of Flame is pretty fantastic as both an opening track and its own song. It has some beautiful guitar work and some fairly epic melodies to it. It also leads very well into The End Is Begun which is almost even more epic, though it presents some issues that remain constant throughout the album. I feel that the vocals at certain times can be too high pitched, and this comes up again for sure. For this song in particular, I feel that the flamenco guitar bits certainly sound good, but the electric guitar could come in more.

Battle Cry is exactly the type of everything I strongly dislike. I hate that kind of guitar work, and the overall tone and feel of the track, it’s exactly the same feeling that turns me off of Karnivool. There are some decent ideas here, but for some reason it kind of makes my stomach churn. All That Remains still has a bit of that tone, but at least there are some parts in here I do like, such as the neo-classical section and the lyrics. My Divided Falling is fairly solid, it doesn’t turn me off quite as much, thankfully. There’s also a great heavier section with some nearly-harsh vocals and it’s very cool.

Serpents In Disguise isn’t as tasteful, and it has some failings, but it definitely has a catchy chorus that sticks with you. Been To The Future is a softer song, I suppose. It’s really entirely forgettable. Bleeding Me Home has a terrible intro, and never really redeems itself. Live Entertainment is quite boring, and I don’t understand it. Diamond In The Crush continues on that trend of being boring, it offers nothing and even though it focuses on the electric guitars, the riffs are boring.

Now, if this band did more songs like Shadow Play then I would listen to them a hell of a lot more. There is a folk element with some almost-creepy lyrics, and the heavy bits work well in conjunction with the rest of the song. These Iron Bones is really cool simply for the little bit that comes during the chorus that sounds like a playground chant. The Last Day is a longer song and works really well. These guys have some progressive elements and I wish they would let loose with them more often. See Emily Play is a cover of the really weird Pink Floyd classic. They don’t really nail the rhythm for me, but the texture is there. This whole album tries to get me to like it, but it’s hard to. I just really don’t like some of the decisions on it.

Final Rating: 6/10

May 3, 2014

Album 0451: Therion – Sitra Ahra

Therion - Sitra Ahra

Release Date: 2010
Genre: Progressive/Symphonic Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Introduction/Sitra Ahra (05:25)
2. Kings Of Edom (08:52)
3. Unguentum Sabbati (05:10)
4. Land Of Canaan (10:33)
5. Hellequin (05:18)
6. 2012: Return Of The Feathered Serpent (04:16)
7. Cú Chulainn (04:16)
8. Kali Yuga Part III: Autumn Of The Aeons (03:41)
9. The Shells Are Open (03:45)
10. Din (02:38)
11. Children Of The Stone: After The Inquisition (07:22)

Total Length: 01:01:16

The point where the Introduction turns into Sitra Ahra is somewhat unclear to me, unless the former is just really short. Either way, this is a very solid opening track that covers a lot of ground and forges a new direction for the band while still having the classic elements I enjoy from them. Kings Of Edom is fantastic as well, I just love everything about it. The band has really taken on a kind of avant-garde styling on this album. Not in the actual way the term means, just in how quickly things change in a single song and how variety abounds.

Unguentum Sabbati continues the trend of great tracks, it has a great pace and the vocals get stuck in my head, as well as that kind of dark riff the orchestra does. Land Of Canaan is amazing, and it goes through so much in its longer length. The part that kind of dropped my jaw the first time was oddly the harmonica bit. It’s just an instrument I would never have expected to be on a Therion album. Hellequin has some more suprises, like a huge variety of vocals and the band’s first use of somewhat odder black metal vocals. Great track all in all.

2012: Return Of The Feathered Serpent has some neat moments, but is the first track on here to fall short a bit. That’s not saying much bad about it, just that it doesn’t get on par with what came before it. Cú Chulainn kind of focuses on one hook and not much else, but that hook is pretty great. Kali Yuga Part III: Autumn Of The Aeons is not as big of a track as I would have expected, considering the songs that it is a sequel to, but I like it. The Shells Are Open is slower, and kind of provides a nice atmosphere.

Din continues on from the previous track, they are kind of two halves of a whole. This song is the opposite, it’s fast and aggressive, with some harsh vocals to compliment it. Children Of The Stone: After The Inquisition is ridiculously fantastic, I really can’t say enough good words about it. It just oozes something that makes me feel good, and the atmosphere is incredible. It’s something I wouldn’t have thought the band was capable of before I heard it. This album was kind of a shock at first, and took some getting used to, but man do I love it nowadays.

Final Rating: 8.5/10

April 14, 2014

Album 0450: Iron Maiden – Piece Of Mind

IronMaiden-PieceOfMind

Release Date: 1983
Genre: Heavy Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Where Eagles Dare (06:13)
2. Revelations (06:49)
3. Flight Of Icarus (03:50)
4. Die With Your Boots On (05:26)
5. The Trooper (04:12)
6. Still Life (04:56)
7. Quest For Fire (03:42)
8. Sun And Steel (03:27)
9. To Tame A Land (07:26)
10. I’ve Got The Fire (02:39)
11. Cross-Eyed Mary (03:54)

Total Length: 52:34

Where Eagles Dare is a tremendous start to the album, with some awesome riffs and rhythms. I can’t imagine hearing this when it first came out. Fantastic track. Revelations takes things at a slower pace, and has a lot of fantastic bits in it. I really like the section with the acoustic guitars, for instance. Flight Of Icarus has an amazing chorus that pushes the whole song along, because the verses surely don’t. Very solid track though.

Die With Your Boots On is a classic song, but in all honesty, it’s just cheesy and makes me laugh. I think there’s a fine song in here, but when those backing vocals come in during the chorus it just ruins everything the song was trying up to that point. The Trooper is amazing though, it’s one of the songs that best represents the band. It’s fun, upbeat, and catchy, while still providing a good range between melody and instrumental fire. Still Life starts with a strange backwards vocal deal, but the song has some elements/hints of the band adding more progressive elements to their songs. Very cool track.

Quest For Fire kind of does nothing for me. It’s a fine song, but it doesn’t really hold up compared to some of the others on here. Sun And Steel has some neat rhythms but is otherwise entirely forgettable. To Tame A Land is another track where they seem to be flexing some prog muscles, and while it’s not my favorite on here it’s still a hell of a song. It also ends the standard album on a good note.

I’ve Got The Fire was originally by Montrose, and under the title I Got The Fire. The song is decent but feels really lackluster on its own and as something the band would perform. Probably just because it’s a product of another time. Cross-Eyed Mary is a Jethro Tull track, and well more suited for the band. They put their own touch on it really well and it’s a lot of fun. The whole album is still odd to get into, just due to not being that into the band as well as odd little tics like the chorus in track four. Otherwise, it’s kind of a joyous metal album, which might sound odd to some.

Final Rating: 8/10

April 10, 2014

Album 0449: Yes – Close To The Edge

Yes-CloseToTheEdge

Release Date: 1972
Genre: Progressive Rock

Tracklisting:

1. Close To The Edge

    I. The Solid Time Of Change
    II. Total Mass Retain
    III. I Get Up, I Get Down
    IV. Seasons Of Man (18:43)

2. And You And I
    I. Cord Of Life
    II. Eclipse
    III. The Preacher, The Teacher
    IV. Apocalypse (10:09)

3. Siberian Khatru (09:01)
4. America (single edit) (04:13)
5. Total Mass Retain (03:21)
6. And You And I
    I. Cord Of Life
    II. Eclipse
    III. The Preacher, The Teacher
    IV. Apocalypse (alternative version) (10:18)

7. Siberia (studio run through) (09:20)

Total Length: 01:05:04

Close To The Edge is an epic song that begins and takes up a huge chunk of the album. The Solid Time Of Change begins this piece with some craziness, as all the instruments kind of go off and do their own thing until it all comes back down to earth. It brings us into the main theme of the track, and I quite like it. Total Mass Retain is a fun section of the track, and I’ll speak more on it later. I Get Up, I Get Down is probably the coolest and most progressive section. The song slows way down, and we get some neat atmosphere building. Things really come to a head when a huge church organ comes in. It sounds cacophonous at first, but the melody comes through and it’s quite gorgeous. Seasons Of Man ends this whole track well, and it makes for a great, epic song.

And You And I is by far my favorite song on here though. After a little bit of musing, Cord Of Life begins this track with a buildup to a fantastic melody. The section ends with the main phrase coming out, and it gets stuck in my head so easily. Eclipse is kind of out there, but it’s still fantastic. The Preacher, The Teacher continues being great, and has so many bits that stick with me. Apocalypse ends things well, and it makes for a song I won’t get tired of listening to for a very long time.

Siberian Khatru is kind of a jam song, though it’s highly structured. I haven’t fallen in love with it, at least in comparison to the reverence the song gets. It’s kind of a nuts song with a ton of cool stuff in it, but it hasn’t really gripped me. Doesn’t stop me from appreciating it. America is a cover that they did elsewhere, and this is actually the edited down version. The original was over ten minutes long, so this one I think loses a lot and until I found that out I couldn’t figure out why they would make the song like this.

Total Mass Retain is the section from the opening track edited and put out as a single, though rearranged a bit to have a new intro and uses some other bits from the rest of the track. It actually kind of holds up well on its own, though it’s for sure not my preferred way to listen to it. The alternative version of And You And I has a fair amount of differences, it’s kind of rougher and the keyboards are different. It’s not as polished as the final version, but the magic of the song is still there, frankly. Siberia is a run-through of the similarly titled song in the studio. It’s as rough as the track before it, but again still has all of the great qualities of the final version. I like this album more each time I hear it, more specifically referring to the main three tracks. It kind of breezes by and is a joy to listen to.

Final Rating: 8.5/10