REVIEWS - 7
These reviews have been published in Avant-Garde Metal online music magazine. Reviews here are reverese chronogically ordered with respect to their publication date.
THY CATAFALQUE rengeted
This is an excellent work to start followinng Thy Catafalque for those of you who are not familiar with the band and the musical path it leads. I find "Rengeted" (which means "a lot" in Hungarian) a sophisticated, deep and sensational work. Even if many other reviewers admired the black metal tunes buried in this album, what attracks my attention in it the multitude of the feelings it creates.
My by-far the most favorite song in this album, Trilobita, exemplifies my point quite perfectly. The song which played in my jukebox for hundred something many times in a week does not only show how enjoyable it is, but perhaps shows how compulsive I can get when it comes to avantgarde music. This album is full of such tunes that you my easily get obsessed about. Melodies, that remind me of Bregovic and Kustirica sound, like a fun gypsy wedding where people consume buckets of home made vodka. The wedding in question could be one where even I can shake my gorgeous butt with the Thy Catafalque tunes.
Loner Tamás Kátai, without his buddy János Juhász, wrote this album with his modest equipment in gothic Edinburgh where the city's dark skies have definitely been reflected into the overall concept of the album. Several guest vocals make the album an interesting melting pot of different traditions in metal, and thus a quite sophisticated experience for an avarage listener. Yet, if you are an avid avantgarde disciple, this album may give you hope, and raise your expectations for the muses that live on the banks of Danube.
BLOOD STAIN CHILD epsilon
Japanese bands still surprise me, and they surprise me deeply. My expedition in the Japanese metal territories has started quite recently, I must admit. My way leading to BSC is perhaps very similar. Discovering an unknown territory, I was a bit cautious, taking small steps at a time. On the other hand, I had heard great things about the scene over there: their energy, commitment, and eagerness to be experimental… What I’d heard definitely encouraged me to go deeper and deeper in the Japanese underworld music.
BSC is a schizophrenic band. It starts some songs as a brutal death metal band with quite strong vocals and melodic tunes, and some songs as a Karaoke band of 16 year olds with super-cheesy melodies. Nevertheless, the schizophrenia, in such cases, help them to recover their genuine style. Even if they sound like a relatively lame band for the first 30 seconds or so, they manage to present you some metallic tunes. Moreover, behold, they have the beauty and the beast combination of vocals, yet they manage to use it in a way that does not disgust you anymore when you listen to them crawling your up your mama drinking green tea.
For me, at least, the most “avant-garde” aspect of BSC is their cyber-ness. Granted, I am not much into this shit, but sometimes I have found myself enjoying it, and BSC makes me do it rather well.
The album starts with a quite energetic song with a familiar vocal style. The good thing is that the impetus they gain in the first song does not decrease during the rest of the album. Moreover, they get more and more, how to say it delicately, “experimental”. But, they do it in a repetitive fashion. The way they play with their synth in the songs is quite similar to each other. Frankly, it is not inconceivable to come up with different ways to play with some electronic toys in a metal song, but, BSC gets stuck with a trance tune which gets boring along the way.
Nevertheless, epsilon is quite above the average album, even for the folks who are deep not into this cybermetal manure.
THE DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT deconstruction
Perhaps, you might have been impressed by my earlier DTP review of “Addicted”. Perhaps, you think that the line up of this album makes this album great.
Let me be frank - the “only” thing that makes this album noticable is its line-up which looks like a parade of my favourite musicians. Vocalists, for instance, are as follows. Paul Kuhr (November's Doom), Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth), Ihsahn (ex-Emperor), Tommy Giles Rogers (Between the Buried and Me), Joe Duplantier (Gojira, ex-Cavalera Conspiracy), Paul Masvidal (ex-Death, Cynic), Greg Puciato (The Dillinger Escape Plan), Floor Jansen (ex-After Forever, ReVamp) and Oderus Urungus (Gwar). Isn’t it amazing? Sure, it is. But, you may ask, what else does this album have. Or let me put it this way: I don’t like movies where there is more than one celebrity. Why does this need to overkill the concept with “all these people”?
The songs are weirdly similar to each other, and the album, in general, is not as melodicly chaotic as the previous releases of DTP. On the other hand, if you are dogmatic or sentimental enough to keep following the bands that you’ve always been followed, well, then, your only cure is perhaps this album.
THE DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT ghost
The cool cover of the album tells is already. This is not metal, this should not be metal. Compared to its twin album “Deconstruction”, this is a fine rock album with guitar ballads that you can listen with your dear mama. I seriously don’t know what got into Townsend to write this - he is not even 40 yet. I am sorry ladies and gentlemen, here I present you the lamest album of DT.
To begin with, synts and fxs drive me crazy - the way he used them in a new age bullshit way drives me even more crazy. Granted, this album is meant to be the opposite of “Deconstruction” perhaps. Yet, it is our natural right to expect some musick, some energizing tunes, and some originality. To me, “Ghost” fails to provide them. Moreover, I just hope that the “Ghost” in the title, is not the holy one.
BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME the parallax: hypersleep dialogues
The very recent EP of BtBaM does not sound very different than their previous records. The reason for the release of this EP, it seems, is to celebrate their signing with Metal Blade.
I sometimes cannot help but think that sometimes metal bands and labels seem to assume that we, fans, are meat-heads, and cannot really tell what is a good album or not, and will buy/listen to anything our fave bands produce. Well… I first realized it when I broke my commitment to Megadeth. They were my childhood bands, and I simply admired everything they produced. But then, years later, when Mustaine went silly and declared himself as re-born Christian and started producing those weird albums, I felt that I just lost him. I am sure this is a very familiar feeling for most of you whether it is Megadeth or some other band.
I start to feel that a very similar destiny is also written for me and BtBaM. This happens all the time: your favorite band signs up with a major label, and suddenly something changes! I kept listening to this EP trying to deny that that would never happen to BtBaM, but I consistently and continuously failed to show that.
‘Parallax’ is still a representetive record for BtBaM. It is examplifies the melodic and avant-garde side of the band. Their enjoyable mixture of two opposite vocal styles, their psycho rythms and the fact that they write such long songs are still there. Nevertheless, if I was about to experience BtBaM, I wouldn’t start from this EP.
FORGOTTEN SILENCE KaBaAch
Forgotten Silence has a cute habit. Their last couple of albums and EPs are based on their travels. Their most recent one (as of today), for example, is mused by the British city of Brighton.
KaBaAch is a lyric album about historical Egypt. The story is the same: our guys travel to Egypt, visit all those pyramids etc., and get sort of impressed and write this album. The influence is not obvious, yet it is there. Lyrics and the cover of the album reflect it directly.
I will be frank - however experimental and avant-garde this album is, it still cannot exceed the level of expectations that were raised by their earlier work. After being spoiled by Senyaan, I could not help but expect much more from FS.
Album has some quite sophisticated songs such as Saqqara and As Suwais, and some whispers. Moreover, the album has significant amount of samples that they seem to record on the road. I may be mistaken, but, the songs like “Morning in Cairo” and the train sounds etc. simply make me think that this album as a musical travel log - which is pretty cool.
The album, as usual, opens with a quite Arabesque rhythm that chants “habibi” which means “lover” in Arabic. Then, the next song gives you the familiar metal tones which are the natural extension and continuation of the earlier FS works, thus it is nothing unusual or superbly original. Third song is a quite experimental one with smooth synths and whispers. Saqqara takes you back to the metalic roots with, yet again, cute female vocals. Another appealing song, Suwais, is a rather smooth jazzy rock with a beautiful female vocal, and sometimes sounds like an elegant dinner song - which is weird. In other words, the song is not involved or complex in terms of melody structure, so you don’t really need to pay full attention. It has its ups and downs with cute tunes and all if it is satisfying enough for your spoiled ears. This simply reflects the general spirit of the entire album.
Overall, jazzish metal of FS is quite satisfying if you can free yourself from high expectations and competitive desire of seeking the upmost originality.
THE DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT addicted
"Addicted” is one of those albums when a familiar metal guy decides go berserk, and makes an electronic-ish psychodelic album. When Townsend decided to go clean and start working on this project, I bet nobody guessed that this kind of an album can be the second part of his four-album project.
The album is not actually that weird, and if you are one of those clubbers who may dance to weird wave tunes, you may find it relatively easy to internalize. For the other folks, well, we need to work something out!
The Devin Townsend Project is a dare to show the entire world that Townsend is a multi-talented, inter-genre artist who can impress people with whatever he does. Well, frankly, he achieves his goal quite well.
The album opens with a guitarry song which smoothly introduces the very concept of the album. Screamy vocals of Townsend, mixed with some light female vocals backed up with psychedelic riffs welcomes you. Here, should I need to add that the female vocal belongs to Her Highness Anneke van Giersbergen! The very same song also gives you some hints about the pop-touches in the album: simple tunes, many repetitions, digestible rhythms etc.
Frankly, almost all my favorite songs in this album are those where Her Highness Anneke sang along with Townsend. "Bend It Like Bender” features some cute and pop melodies for which Her Highness is definitely a mistress. Her Highness’ touch clearly makes the album an easy-listening one, and gives it a fresh and lively face, and for a change, that can be rejuvenating.
The aforementioned touch of Her Highness makes the next song "supercrushed!” quite a great song. Well, you can always complain about how "poppy” that song is, and you’d be quite right. But, from a point of view that values originality and avant-gardism, I’d say that specifically this song shows a great promise. Nevertheless, the very same promise is not visible in the next song "hyperdrive!”. Even Her Highness vocals cannot make it an impressive piece of music. The song "In-Ah”, many reviewers would agree, totally sounds like a MTV-friendly piece of shit.
After all, the album is full of cheesy yet fun melodies backed up with talented guitar riffs and psychedelic rhythms and, needless to say, Her Highness superb vocals. The unique composition of all those elements makes "Addicted” a quite significant piece of music for all open minded metal folks with a piece of caution.
BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME the great misdirect
It’s tempting… I am about to use tons of metaphors and comparisons to describe BtBaM’s music. Yet, I won’t. I won’t be tempted to list the bands that BtBaM reminds me of, and I won’t compare them with the other quite known bands within the similar genres. I will follow a rather difficult path, and try to describe their music on my own.
The album has an overall progressive and jazzish tone in a non-annoying and non-pretentious sense. Cleverly arranged guitars keep reminding you that you are indeed listening to a metal act. A very well-done production, on the other hand, makes the album a rather appealing piece for those people who are not that into “regular” metal melodies that we all are grown up with.
The album opens with a soft and moody song which does not give you any hint at all about what to expect from the rest of the album. Most songs in the album are longer than nine minutes. This is, some of you may recognize, a familiar patter for BtBaM. Akin to the many other avant-garde bands (see, I was almost tempted to compare BtBaM with some other bands, but I didn’t), BtBaM conceptualize the song with several different compartments - a rather softy intro followed by a enjoyable crescendo, and then a quiet coda, and so on so forth. I personally like this pattern, treating the song as an independent unit by itself sounds like a good idea to me.
The third song, my favorite, of this album manifests this pattern very well, even with a mix of different vocal techniques. This definetely enriches the song, gives it a substantial power, and makes the listening experience a rather enjoyable one - the listener always keeps waiting for the next surprise within the same song. Furthermore, most importantly, BtBaM makes it very well. As opposed to many pretentious avant-garde bands (see, again, not tempted to compare them), BtBaM sets its own firm grounds. Especially, one of the codas of my favorite song even employs a funny tune that reminds us all of, wait for it, fun childhood memories.
People who are familiar with the development and improvement of BtBaM may immediately recognize this album as their most mature album. This can very well be true. Nevertheless, I’d jump to this conclusion when I hear their mid-2011 album! I feel that they will surprise us all over again!
THEATRES DES VAMPIRES moonlight waltz
When I was reviewing TdV’s previous album “Anima Noir”, I had concluded with the following: “Let’s cross our fingers that their new album (which was scheduled for January 2011) will not suffer from similar mistakes.”
However, it seems they have even gone beyond the cliches incorporating more synth and darkwave-ish tones to their music. I know, it is difficult to be original, keep the spirit and satisfy the needs of a picky reviewer who once raised his own expectations to a rather high level.
Moonlight Waltz is a cheesy and an uninteresting album witnessing TdV’s recent transition from a rather cool and energetic band to a erotic goth cliche. Sure, you will perhaps catch some nice melodies and riffs, and even some cool violon pieces. Yet, the whole package still does not seem very satisfying.
You can still give it a shot only if you are one of those teenagers who’d like to repeat themselves over and over and over and over…
SILENT STREAM OF GODLESS ELEGY návaz
Is it why I waited for five long miserable years? Since mid-90s, SSOGE has always been among my favorite bands. Their unique blend of folk and doom metal has always amazed me if not charmed. Their quite sophisticated instrumentation and female vocals added richness and uniqueness to their tunes, their strong background in metal music made their melodies hard and enjoyable, and finally the amazing Czech scene has nurtured them since the beginning. Yet, I cannot help but ask: Is it why I waited for five long miserable years?
This album is a milestone in SSOGE’s career. It remarks its transition from a metallic and doomy band to a mostly folkish repetitive band which sings in Slavic, and is dominated by not-so-interesting female vocals and disappointingly weakened guitars. Nevertheless, Navaz offers a few strong songs that are the reminiscent of the “good-old-days” (sigh). “Slava” is a fun and energetic song that will make you jump for like ten seconds, “Skryj hlavu do dlani”, on the other hand, will sound you like a classic SSOGE-song with a bit of nostalgia: cello with some guitar and violin on the background... My favorite “Dva stíny mám” starts with a quite powerful riff, and yet keeps interrupted by a totally weird string attacks.
Overall, I blame Season of Mist and Roland Grapow (ex-Helloween) for the disappointment. If you ever want to make your well-respected underground avant-garde band turn into a mainstream disaster, why not giving those guys a call?
THEATRES DES VAMPIRES anima noir
Is it still surprising that black metalish bands tend to go a bit avantgarde when they started get older? Is it still surprising that most female-fronted bands seriously sexually objectify their singer and try to attract idiot teenagers with boners to their shows? Is it still surprising that electronic/dark-wave touched black metal remains popular among the metalheads who are quite conservative?
Stereotypes exist because they help us save time, some say. However, while reading this review, I ask you to leave your possibly stereotypical opinions outside. Granted, TdV possesses all possible cliches that one can find in gothic/dark/black metallic circles. But, perhaps, they also make a killer music?
Anima Noir opens with a quite melodic song with significant dark-wave touches. The next song, “Unspoken Words” is a killer with loads of head-banging opportunities together with some cheesy darkish tunes. Skipping the Cult cover, the album takes an interlude with a “ballad” which was supposed to be emo and perhaps even touching. Yet, it sounds like even 14 year-old French girls can have difficulty shedding tears while listening to “From the deep” (oh man, look at the name!). After recovering from this song, you can get back to the spirit of occasional head-bangs and melodic black goth tunes of TdV. The remaining songs will ensure you that you will not miss a moment without the aforementioned spirit, and the album will close with yet another quite lame “ballad”!
The weakest part of TdV is its vocals. Sonya Scarlet can be a sexy gal, yet her voice cannot really race the other female vocals within the same genre (cf. Floor Jansen of (RIP) After Forever and ReVamp). No wonder, perhaps the band pushes her sexiness in front to cover her vocal insufficiencies. Let’s cross our fingers that their new album (which was scheduled for January 2011) will not suffer from similar mistakes.