Light of the Morning All Else Is Error
From what I know of this there are former members of Understand in this band. No real reason for saying that other than they released an album on Atlantic that I thought was disappointingly average compared to their live gigs. That band then seemingly disappeared, though they are still actually going. Oh, and to point out I guess that thereís history and pedigree to this lot.
And the first thing that hits you when the Cut And Stained starts, is how much heavier it all sounds. But it still manages to retain a sense of melody. Vocally it manages to stay on just the right side of gruff, in that it's shouted out, but you can make out the words (ooh, you old sounding bastard Dave), and it's not enough to start grating. Purify is up next, due to them following the numbering system that most people use. Atmospheric intro which gives way to the kind of riff Slayer could use, but yet is nothing like Slayer. Confused? Yeah, well it just means there's probably a better comparison to be made, but I've not thought of it. There's a nice vocal interplay going on here, with a spoken element in the back ground and the more shouted effort layered over the top. All Else Is Error for me further confirms the more metallic influence in this release. The chorus of "I should've seen it coming, I should've walked away" especially bearing the influence out. I'm actually enjoying this a lot, there's plenty of little things going on in the background. The effective twisting and use of effects on the voice, the nice little things going on with the guitar. It's contemporary, yet at the same time feels like it's maybe taking a step back to a few years ago, in that the infamous nu-metal isn't rearing it's head at all here. Smashed To Bits is up, and it's featuring the most hardcore vocal so far I guess. Nope, sorry, on the final track now, In Time, and this definitely has the most hardcore vocal. But it also has a spoken word simmering in the background. And musically it breaks down from sheer all out intensity that some bands feel the need to go for. 5 tracks, 20 minutes, and most important of all, leaves you wanting a taste more.
Another quality release on a label (Blackfish) that as far as I'm concerned is establising a fine reputation for itself, and in it's own way, trying to help blur the edges of the hardcore/metal scenes. At least that's my take on it, and as you know, the more that the edges on all scenes are blurred the better as far as I'm concerned.
Paradise Lost - Host
So how do you go about reviewing this then? Well, as I see it there are two possibilities. You can go with the "awww man, they've changed their style so much they must've sold out. They're not metal anymore." Alternatively you can take it for the album that it is and review it on that basis. But that's tricky. Whether the band wants it or not, they have a history, and as much as you must look to the future, history does play a part in things. So that all makes this a complicated motherfornicator to review. But there again, it has to be said I've often found myself bored by PL in the past. Songs that seemed to stretch past their best stretched by date. So, I need to go with this one on the album it is. And well, it's ok. See, it is kinda Depeche Mode like, and I was never a big Depeche Mode fan. I remember hearing their singles album years ago, and it bypassed me. But over the years I've openedup in terms of what I listen to and can accept more varied stuff, more technology, that rock can be mixed with outside influences and retain its credibility. Which all sounds like I'm avoiding the issue here. Which would be right. I don't know what I think of this. There are some really good moments in a non-rock sense, but even the rockiest moments aren't exactly rock. Damn, I used the word rock way too many times there.
But yeah, this is an extension of One Second. The guitars have drifted further into the background, the keyboards and samples are more dominant, and thereís a much greater, and ultimately much more effective use of strings such as the cello and all that. Nick is also singing now. The growl is gone. But does all that translate into good songs? Sometimes. And thereís a song such as Made The Same in which the bass rumbles along in a way that wouldíve been the standard in the past. Itís a welcome sound. Though the opening blast of So Much Is Lost, Nothing Sacred and In All Honesty show that when they get the new style right, they get it right in a very classy manner.
But the problem is that there feels like thereís a formula to the sound. Iím sure there is to every bands sound if you listen carefully, but here it seems to stand out. Thereís the keyboard intro, vocals, it builds, little break, couple of samples, and the end. Yeah, I know, exactly what Mr Holmes has said in interviews, that people will over analyse this thing. Well, I donít like to disappoint. At the end of the day, as with anything, itís all easy. You like it, or you donít. Or like me, you get splinters while sitting on the fence. Nurse ...
Hangnail - Ten Days Before Summer
Well, I'd almost been tempted into buying this at the Anathema gig, but decided I couldn't really afford to. Lucky really, cos a couple of weeks later this plopped itself through the letterbox onto the floor, punched it's way out of the jiffy bag and did a run and jump towards the CD player. But I'd not opened the door, so it just kind of went splat and looked at me with a pleading reflection asking to be placed in the player. So, taking pity I did. And this is what I found.
As the opener Overhang starts, I realise that this was the first track they played at the gig as well, not because it's stands out, but because of the line "I see the sunrise baby". It was something that struck me as cheesy, and made me think 80s metal. It still sounds cheesy, but I do think now that it's sung in a Chris Cornell type of way. It's backed by an insistent riff, and sounds good. The production suits it. The drums are crisp, but the guitars almost sound slightly muffled. But that's not a criticism. It's something I've heard in a few bands like that now, and it suits the style of music. Side/Slide keeps things going, a simple stopystarty sort of riff, that works. It shouldn't but it does. Not sure about singing about "on the mountainside" though, and the female vocalist slot has just kicked in. I'm in two minds, it's kind of good, but feels very cheesy. Monster Magnet succeed, but, well, I dunno. I remain to be convinced I guess. Keep On is going for that spartan acousticy easterny play the bongos sort of sound.
And 9 songs in 66 minutes means that it's stretching things out a little for the most part. Maybe a bit too much for me.
Not bad, but not sure it's going to crack it for people outside of this sphere of music. I think I'll only be reaching occasionally.
Arch Enemy - Burning Bridges Century Media
Iím surprised how much I enjoyed this. I shouldnít be. I mean, itís basically a full on metal album that could easily take you back a few years to when thrash was cutting edge. So you get 8 tracks like that, but itís so melodic at times. Theyíve gone for the balance, and for the most part, theyíve achieved that. I base that partly on the fact that I was already 3 songs into this before I realised any time had passed. It was that good. Opening track Immortal kind of has a more melodic element of Slayer going on there and just bounds away, driven gleefully by the double bass drum work of drummer Daniel and the twin guitars of the Amott brothers. Brings a feeling much like when The Haunted released their album last year. Itís dated, but it isnít. People who pronounced the death of thrash because it was becoming stale obviously just werenít coming up with the goods mucisally. Arch Enemy are. This is just a blast. The likes of Dead Inside, Pilgrim and Demonic Science just surge through, ending before you realise. It takes a couple of listens before you realise just how good this actually is. Course, if you never liked thrash, then you may not enjoy it, but if itís cos you never listened, well go on, treat yourself. Itís just so different to the new metal stuff itís wonderful. Twin guitars duel, bringing to mind the likes of the mighty Maiden. The likes of Silverwing are just so accessible. traditional yes, but if the songs are good, then whether itís new old, traditional, contemporary or cutting edge it doesnít matter. Good songs are good songs. Itís the album Metallica just donít seem to want to make any more.And if metal is making the comeback weíre being told, then this ought to be at the forefront. A surprisingly excellent album. Plus Iíd love to see how the pimprock fans would dance to this one!