Music Monday: Blessed by a Broken Heart, Feel the Power

Feel the Power, Blessed by a Broken Heart
Feel the Power, Blessed by a Broken Heart

When I saw the video for Blessed by a Broken Heart’s (hereafter BBABH) first single off of their latest album Feel the Power I was actually a little disappointed.  The band’s previous album, Pedal to the Metal, as a guilty pleasure of pop-metalcore with copious layers of 80s influenced glam metal keys; that album’s “Move Your Body” has been a mainstay on my workout playlist for years now.  That new single, “Forever” was enough a departure from that sound to leave me a little disappointed with that I heard.  I don’t know what changed between that first listen and now, but damn do I absolutely dig the hell out of Feel the Power.

Yes, Feel the Power is slight departure from Pedal to the Metal but that same level of smooth pop-influenced slickness has been polished to a near mirror sheen and the incongruity of the Pedal to the Metal’s metalcore growls toned down to an absolute minimum.  The result is an album full of slick riffs, big choruses, and copious amounts of high energy rock and roll.  While the harsh bark of metalcore’s bark-like vocals still pops up on several songs it fits slightly better absent of synth heavy tracks.  The faster tempo employed across the album and the crunchier riffs the speed each track along lend to a curious blend of a thrash and hair, with a slight lean towards hair, and I for one love it.  While Feel the Power plays up the hair metal vibe by including one ballad (“I’ve Got You”) it never veers into the self-indulgent seriousness that marks the worst hair metal of yesteryear.

Indeed if one word can define Feel the Power that word is fun.  This is an album that you toss of the car stereo and crank to 11 while cruising down the road with the windows down.  This isn’t the kind of music that will change lives but it is the kind of music that well definitely make your day more tolerable.  Every track is killer though several standout: “Deathwish,” “Shut Up and Rock,” “Love Nightmare,” the chorus-heavy “Forever,” the easy-to-sing with “Rockin’ All Night,” and “Skate or Die” stand out (if only slightly) from the rest of the pack.  Bottom line if you are into fun pop-influenced metal then Blessed by a Broken Heart’s Feel the Power is well worth your time.

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Music Monday: Speed of Darkness by Flogging Molly

Speed of Darkness by Flogging Molly
Speed of Darkness by Flogging Molly

Speed of Darkness
Flogging Molly
Borstal Beat Records, 2011

Speed of Darkness may be my favorite Flogging Molly album since Drunken Lullabies. Both Within a Mile of Home and Float are fantastic albums, no doubt, but something about Speed of Darkness really caught my attention. To be fair, and this might turn many Flogging Molly fans away from this album, is that there is a certain slickness to Speed of Darkness that really sets it apart from previous albums, or from Flogging Molly’slive show. It is a well produced album, not over produced, but well produced and absolutely polished to gleaming shine.

Continue reading “Music Monday: Speed of Darkness by Flogging Molly”

The Epic Return of Music Monday!

Beyond the Bridge (The Old Man and the Spirit)
Beyond the Bridge (The Old Man and the Spirit)

From the band’s website: The album ‘The Old Man and the Spirit’ deals with the polarity of human sensousness and superhuman awareness. The latter is embodied by the character of the Spirit. She is the personification of all wisdom and awareness that is unachievable to mankind, however, lacks of the ability to feel. Her opponent, the character of the Old Man, is presented as a bon vivant who has lived through all highs and lows of human sensation. Steadied by his old age, he searches for a sense, for a coherence, for the meaning of his life in the maelstrom of transciency.
As the story unfolds, the Spirit convinces the Old Man that there is no way for Man to overcome the limits of human perception. They can only be transgressed with the help of the Spirit’s wisdom. Aware of human curiosity, the Spirit offers to answer all of the Old Man’s questions – in exchange for his experiences and feelings. A high price, as they are inseperably connected to the Old Man’s memories.

Listen up folks.  Do you like progressive music?  Have you ever enjoyed the likes of Dreamtheater?  Spock’s Beard? or Porcupine Tree?  If you’ve answered yes to any or all of those questions then you should do yourself a favor and with all possible haste snag a copy of Beyond the Bridge’s debut album The Old Man and the Spirit.  Hard edged riffs, soaring vocals, intricate keys and complex melodies suffuse this concept album.  The tracks range from bombastic over the top operative numbers, groovy chunks to metal, and showtune influenced with a bit of an intimate feel.  Solid rock music blended with a taste of Andrew Lloyd Weber.

Beyond the Bridge, originally formed under a different name in 1999 before life got in the way, began reassembling in 2005.  A septet of professionally trained musicians, including at least one PhD. student, they began recording The Old Man and the Spirit in 2008.  The complete history of the band, and information on its various members, can be found here (and makes for some interesting reading).  The dual male and female vocals by Herbie Langhans and Dilenya Mar are clear and haunting beautiful the lyrics easily discernible as the somewhat ambiguous conversation between the titular old man and spirit unfolds over the course of the album. Peter Degenfeld-Schonbur is equally adept and straightforward riffing as he as at the high and might solo while dual keyboard work of Christopher Tarnow and Simon Oberender lend the a lush feel to the album.

The Old Man and the Spirit is one of the first albums in a long time to really get me excited.  Stand out tracks for me include the album opener “The Call,” the delicate “World of Wonders,” and the hectic “The Struggle.”  An all around phenomenal album that I highly highly recommend.

MTV is old.

So, today is MTV’s 30th birthday.  Though the network is no longer the “rebel” it claimed to be there are still some fond memories to be had.  Here are a handful of some of my favorite music videos from the past:

and now, pure cheesecake

A Year in Concerts: Part 2 (July-Dec)

July 16th, 2010/Trocadero Theatre/Philadelphia, PA

Swashbuckle, Augury, Death Angel and Soilwork

Three bands I really knew nothing about going in and one band that absolutely blew me away.  While Augury and Soilwork fall more properly under the death metal umbrella both Swashbuckle and Death Angel are rightly thrash bands.  While everyone did a great job this night the absolute standout of the even was veteran metallers Death Angel.  Just about every major thrash band from 90s was out on tour or putting out new albums in 2010 and Death Angel was amongst these luminaries.  The maturity of their act far eclipsed both up and coming bands Augury and Swashbuckle; while the raw energy of their act was infectious in a way that the brooding darkness of Soilwork’s traditional Swedish death metal could never be.

August 29, 2010/The Electric Factory/Philadelphia, PA

Apocalyptica and Dir En Grey

For those who don’t know who Apocalyptica is: shame on you!  These Finns took the cello and decided to turn it into a heavy metal beast.  While they debuted as foursome with an album of Metallica covers they have over the years moved towards original compositions and have paired down to three cellists plus a drummer.  They are also a band I’d been desperate to see live since I first heard about them and the weight was well worth it!  Dir en Grey on the other hand are a band I knew nothing about.  A Japanese progressive metal (I guess) band they play some pretty crazy music with a variety of influences.  Lead singer Kyu, a very tiny man, had a large box to stand on (seriously) and a big voice that is equally adept at clean vocals and metal growls.  Most impressive was Shinya’s drum set which featured a rather interesting placement for some of his equipment: They were use, but not frequently.  Dir En Grey put on a solid set and are an act I’d definitely consider seeing live again.  Apocalyptica though will probably go down as being one of my favorite live shows ever.  Founding member Eicca Toppinen was adept at handling MC duties, introducing band members and songs keeping the attention on the music more than anything else.  I did feel a little bad for newer member Perttu whose English isn’t nearly as good as Eicca’s and stuck have to talk to the audience for a bit.  The band played a great mix of stuff off their old albums, plus new material, plus some of their best covers (Master of Puppets and their arrangement of In the Hall of the Mountain King were the standouts there).  The guys play their instruments standing up, only sitting for one of the slower pieces.  The addition of drummer Mikko Siren really rounds out the band’s sound and I’m glad that drums have become a larger part of Apocalyptica’s music.  I’ll likely be reliving this show for years to come.

September 25, 2010/Susquehana Bank Center/Camden, NJ

Black Diamond Sky Tour: Mastodon/Deftones/Alice In Chains

Ferry troubles for a friend meant we missed a chunk of Mastodon’s set.  A sad fact but I have seen them live before (when the toured with Dethklok/Brandon Smalls).  Deftones is a band I had heard in bits in pieces for a long time now.  Their an interesting band putting out solid tunes that have parts I like but that as a whole never quite work perfectly for me.  I really ought to sit down with their most recent, Diamond Eyes, and give it another try.  Of course the main attraction here was Alice in Chains who were touring in support of their latest: Black Gives Way to BlueAIC are a band I grew up with but again a band that existed closer to the periphery of my youthful encounters with music.  There was always something about grunge that never sat well with me and AIC, more or less mislabeled as a grunge for most of their career, sort of fell by the wayside for me as a result.  Likewise, I haven’t talked about or listened to Black Gives Way to Blue as much as it deserves.  It is a phenomenal album that, whenever a track pops up in my shuffle, I am always pleasantly surprised by what I hear.  This is actually the second time I’ve seen AIC with this lineup (they toured with Velvet Revolver a couple years back) and I was once again impressed with vocalist William DuVall.  Layne Staley had a distinctive voice and while William’s certainly isn’t the same his own vocals are similar yet with a vitality and style that is all his own.  Of course it also helps that Jerry Cantrell has been a major creative force in the band handling the lion’s share of the writing and a fair amount of the singing as well.  Both Cantrell and DuVall has great stage presence and are animated performers who keep the audiences attention without distracting them from the music (the complete opposite of say Scott Weiland).

October 20, 2010/Best But Theatre/New York, New York

w00tstock 2.7 ft. Jonathan Coulton as Wil Wheaton, Paul and Storm, MC Frontalot, Adam Savage, Marian Call, and Drew Curtis

Another show I’ve been waiting to hit the east coast since it debuted in San Francisco in 2009.  The brainchild of blogger/actor Wil Wheaton, comedy musicians Paul and Storm, and Adam Savage of Mythbusters w00tstock is “3 hours of geeks and music.”  While Wil couldn’t make it to the New York show, internet superstar Jonathan Coulton did a fantastic job handling things.  In addition to stellar musical performances from there were talks/routines by Adam Savage who talked about his kids, Grant Imahara who talked about playing C3po for Lucasfilm marketing, and Fark.com founder Drew Curtis.  In between sets were short videos, some of the past and present viral videos that have made the rounds, as well as short videos with Wil Wheaton (Wil Wheaton Enjoys a Guiness being the best).  MC Frontalot, Paul and Storm, and Jonathan Coulton are all acts I’ve seen before and all were just as awesome as they were in the past (though this night’s version of “The Pirate’s Wife’s Lament” may have been the most hilarious).  I had no idea what to expect from Marian Call, and was pleasantly surprised by music both humorous and soulful (plus a typewriter played as a music).  Sci-fi Song’s John Anealio was spot on when he said:

As a vocalist, Marian has full command of her instrument. Never showy or over the top, her voice is both powerful and subtle, perfectly suited to express her unique point of view as a songwriter. Speaking of which, her songs are a sweet blend of folk storytelling and pop melodicism with bits of the Gershwin songbook thrown in for good measure.

In a year of great shows w00tstock stands out as one of the best.  If you’re a geek I’d recommend keeping an eye on w00tstock.net and jumping at the chance if it rolls into a town near you.

November 9, 2010/Western Union Center/Philadelphia, PA

The Wall 2010

I really should have written about this show right after it happened.  I also should have ignored the bold faced “No Cameras” printed on my ticket.  Believe it or not this was my first time hearing Pink Floyd’s The Wall in its entirety.  It was also one of the most ridiculously over-the-top amazing shows I’ve ever seen.  As in past live performances of The Wall as Roger Waters and the band performs the titular wall is slowly constructed between the band and the audiences.  Images, words, and film clips are projected onto said wall.  Giant inflatable puppets of a grotesque mother and grotesque teacher caper on stage.  At one point a flying pig flies out over the audience.  At the show’s end the wall comes tumbling down.  This was a pretty stunning show, the music was spot on and Roger Waters (at 67) is still a damned fine performer.  While Waters is winding up his North American tour those of you in the UK still might have a chance to catch it in 2011.  An amazing experience that fans of rock music should definitely look into.

December 3, 2010/Izod Center/East Rutherford, NJ

Halford/Ozzy Osbourne

When a friend asked me if I was in for seeing Ozzy live this year I hesitate.  You see I had caught Ozzy live at Ozzfest several years ago and was so disappointed by what I heard that me and my friends left barely two songs into Ozzy’s set.  I hesitated, but I said yes, and it’s a good thing I did.  I’m not overly familiar with Halford’s solo work, or really most of his career outside of Judas Priest’s British Steel and Screaming for Vengeance.  Which was unfortunate since he played mostly non-Priest material and I would have killed to have heard “United” or “Breaking the Law”.  It was still a good set, though there was a certain coldness to Halford’s stage presence that left the sensation that he wasn’t all there, and Halford’s voice is still impressive.

Ozzy’s set on the other hand was damned impressive.  Now sure, Ozzy isn’t anywhere as polished as he was in his past, but for a guy was turning 62 the night of this show and whose hard-living has not been kind to body or mind, he put on an energetic and completely fun show.  Sure while not every note was where it should be, and while more recent songs required liberal use of the teleprompter, the classic Ozzy tunes we all know and love were all about as perfect as they could be.    We even got several great Black Sabbath tunes including one of my personal favorite: “Faeries Wear Boots”.   Ozzy took a break while the band performed the Black Sabbath instrumental “Rat Salad” which served as an opportunity for new guitarist Gus G and new drummer Tommy Clufestos to show their metal.  Gus G is amazing, while he isn’t Randy Rhodes his style falls more closely to Randy than it does to Zak Wylde.  Clufestos was the bigger surprise, while maybe not on the level of the big prog-rock drummers, the man has some serious chops and was a welcome addition on the stage.  This show far exceeded my expectations and was a great way to celebrate Ozzy’s birthday!

 

So after a year of concerts what do I take away from it all?  I don’t really know.  Seeing music performed live is something completely different than hearing it off an album.  Not better and not worse but different.  I’ve found that while I can like a band on an album what really makes or a breaks a band for me, what leaves the most lasting impression, is my experience with a band at a live show.  It’s easy to write off the polish on album as production but seeing those same songs performed line, in many cases with touches and flourishes that are absent on a studio recording really elevates my opinion on a band.  Will I do this again next year?  Probably not.  I stuck to a pretty rigid schedule and was actively looking for a concert to attend every month; between that and arranging schedules to fit that goal (between two jobs) and it was actually a little exhausting.  Either way it was great experience and I definitely look forward to more concerts in the future (starting with MAGfest 2011).

A Year of Concerts: Part 1 (Jan-Jun)

Zombies during JoCo's RE: Your Brains

In December of last year I hastily decided that in 2010 I would attempt to attend at least 1 concert every month.  Why?  I could wax philosophical about music being a performance art but, truth is, I just like music.  Was it perhaps a bit fiscially irresponsible?  Arguable, but I had fun doing it.  So who did I see in the great year of 2010?

January 3t, 2010 / Trocadero Theatre / Philadelphia, PA:

Scale the Summit, Cynic, Devin Townsend and Between the Buried and Me.

This was an excellent show to start the year with the main act, Between the Buried and Me putting on such a solid, energetic performance that it was a show I was constatnly comparing later acts with.  With frequently indecipherable screaming of Between the Buried and Me can be off-putting to many (re: most) it takes nothing away from the phenomenal talent of the band members and drummer Blake Richardson is perhaps one of the best up and coming metal drummers (there was a supposed Mike Portnoy sighting at this show if that says anything).  In the progressive metal scene acts can vary widely in style and tones and in this show in particular was split 50/50 with both Scale the Summit and Cynic tends towards a more mellow style while Townsend and Between the Buried and Me tends towards a more aggressive style.   I only mention this because because the show was arranged as follows: Scale the Summit, Devin Townsend, Cynic, Between the Buried and Me.  Now Townsend frickin’ killed, he had the audience absolutely pumped and more-or-less bouncing off the walls (and each other ‘natch) when Cynic took the stage.  The unleashed agression of the audience was a bit of a tough nut for Cynic to crack and I don’t think they ever managed to win the crowd over completely, something that was not at all aided by their mid-set pause to have us do “metal yoga.”  It was a weird way to arrange the acts, one that I don’t think benefited the talents dudes in Cynic at all.  Between the Buried and Me absolutely destroyed their set.  In fact the mosh pit grew so large in the admittedly small Trocadero that me and my friend found ourselves wedged uncomfortably against the sound booth with a protective wall of  Event Staff between us and the pit.  It was a damned awesome show.

February 20, 2010/ Brighton Bar /Long Branch, NJ

East of the Wall EP Release Show w/ Rosetta, Fake Gimms, A Fucking Elephant, Restorations

With the February 26 Flogging Molly show sold out I was saved from breaking my New Years quest early when my friend Matt of A Fucking Elephant let me know that East of the Wall was playing an EP release show.  I ventured out into the frigid cold on the promise of good times with friends and a trip to Long Branch’s own Jr’s; all of which I got in spades.  As typical for shows at the Brighton Bar things ran late so I unfortunately missed most of East of the Wall’s set but I was impressed with the energy, enthusiasm and talent of the Fake Gimms (now Zombie Club America).  I’ll be honest I do love bar shows, I don’t know why but there is something kind of special about loud music, beer, and good friends.  Maybe it’s the beer.  Just kidding…kind of.

March 26 & 27, 2010/Hynes Convention Center/Boston, MA

PAX East 2010 Concerts: Metroid Metal, The Protomen, Anamanguchi, Video Game Orchestra, Paul and Storm, Jonathan Coulton, and MC Frontalot.

The Protomen w/ audience members

This was a pretty epic weekend and both Friday the 26th and Saturday the 27th were amazing nights.  Sure we were all exhausted from a full day of convetioning and not all of us would make it through the evening on our feet but there is a special kind of magic specific to PAX that is difficult to describe.  Some of the pre-show waits were long but they were never short of fun; I never thought the wave could elicit such simple childlike joy, but apparently it can.

Video Game Orchestra

While all the acts on these two nights were top notch I was particularly impressed by The Protomen and Video Game Orchestra. The Protomen take the bare story of Mega Man and add a bit of rock opera flare.  Which is both ridiculous and awesome.  Though it might lack the budget of of similar mainstream acts it has twice as much heart.  Video Game Orchestra was present with their chamber group  and creative director/arranger Shota Nakama quickly won over the audience with humor and charm.  This is a phenomenally talented group of musician who are professional and well homed as any symphony orchestra.  I desperately hope that one day I’ll a chance to see them again live (note: they are still working on their CD).

Coultron!

Jonathan Coulton’s set was particularly notable since it birthed Coultron, the gestalt of JoCo himself and members of Metroid Metal lend a bigger, fuller sound to JoCo’s tunes.  This combination was sucessful enough that JoCo has been working on an album with a full band and, if his set in March is anything to go by then it is most definitely something to look forward to.

April 7, 2010/Terminal 5/New York, New York

Opeth

Opeth (I only had my shitty cellphone camera)

When I talk about music, and any band or artist in particular it is best that you add a silent “They’re not Opeth but…” before any praise.  I’ve only seen Opeth once before, at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ; but when I heard they were doing a limited engagement tour to celebrate their 20th Anniversary I was damned exiceted.  The Evolution XX tour was only six shows and I jumped at the chance to grab tickets.  The band played the entirety of Blackwater Park during their first set then came out and played one song of each of their other albums in chronological order; with historical notes and introductions by front man Mikael Akerfeldt.  Opeth are a live act that are as impeccably precise and spot on as they are on their studio recordings.  I, quite frankly, love this band and this was an absolutely amazing show.  If you’re at all interested in the Black Metal scene, and are coming from more mainstream corners, I could think of few better places to start.

April 20, 2010/Starland Ballroom/Sayreville, NJ

River City Extension/Big D and the Kids Table/Flogging Molly

Flogging Molly

A rescheduled show due to snow earlier in the year meant I was able to grab tickets to see Flogging Molly; a band I’ve been waiting to see live ever since I first listened to Drunken Lullabies .  This is actually they only concert I remember actually posting about so for my thoughts on this show see here.

May 3, 2010/Championships Bar/Trenton, NJ

Swashbuckle/Blackguard

The gents of Swashbuckle

When I struggled to find shows it always helped to turn to people I know.  If you had told High School Me that Justin Greczyn, AKA Swashbuckle’s Commodore Nosebleed, was going to be the lead guitarist in pirate themed thrash metal band (signed to a major metal label no less!) I would have glanced at the somewhat scrawny red-headed kid across the lunch table (maybe playing Magic: the Gathering) and scoffed.  Of course the idea that there would even be a pirate metal sub-genre would just have likely have baffled my fragile young mind.  As always the “gentlemen” of Swashbuckle put on a furious, energetic, and typically lyrically indecipherable show that still managed to win over the audience at Championships.  Championships is a tiny little dive bar in Trenton that books local, and some not-so-local metal acts, its a neat little place with cheap beer and loud music…really really loud music.  The gentlemen (and lady) of Blackguard power a little more from the power metal side of things than Swashbuckle does and they have practiced the art of synchronized hair swinging to near perfection.

Blackguard amazing hair swinging!

While the intersection of pirate lovers and thrash metal fans isn’t necessarily a large one it is nice to know that they are a number of bands catering to that group.

June = NOTHING

It was June where my year long quest failed.  No specific reason I can remember.  The only two concerts I was interested in being Scorpions at the PNC Bank Center and Entombed at the Grammercy Theatre.  I made it to neither.  However, things picked up again in July.  Stayed tuned next week when I catalog the remainder of  2010!

Powerglove: Saturday Morning Apocalypse

So I found out that I somehow missed Powerglove’s new album Saturday Morning Apocalypse was released last Tuesday. For those that don’t know (I’m assuming that is many) Powerglove are a bunch of dudes in custom armor who play covers of video game music charged with power metal.  They are, in a word, awesome.  Sadly it seems that their two previous albums are currently unavailable, which is a shame, but I take solace in the fact that they are still touring and producing new tunes.

If the title wasn’t enough of a clue Saturday Morning Apocalypse is a CD loaded with power metal renditions of your favorite cartoons.   There are a number of missing tracks from cartoons that I would have liked to have heard, particularly G. I. Joe and a cover of “Under the Sea” the band mentioned in the news section of the website, but by and large these songs bring back fond memories of Saturday mornings (and in the case of “The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest” evenings) spent having fun.

The CD opens with perhaps the quintessential 90s cartoon:  X-Men.   An epic opener if ever there was one, the theme song from X-Men was already pretty metal so what the guys did here is pretty awesome and they didn’t have to stray too far from what already existed.  Next up is the theme to Pokemon, the original Pokemon, “Gotta Catch ’em All.”  The instrumental track is good but the album close is the vocal version featuring guest vocalist Tony Kakko of Sonata Arctica.  The track is pretty ridiculous and makes me wish that Kakko had lent his talents to the theme to Transformers that sits in the middle of the album.  Three Danny Elfman songs appear on the album.  The theme from Batman, This is Halloween, and The SimpsonsThe Simpsons in particular features some absolutely ridiculous guitar work that left me slack jawed though not nearly as much as the craziness that is the Inspector Gadget theme.  I was both surprised and pleased at the inclusion of the theme from The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest, a show I remember enjoying and a theme song that I’ve always thought kicked some major ass.

In truth I think that Metal Kombat for the Mortal Man was a stronger outing, the songs showing just a touch more originality and flair then on Saturday Morning Apocalypse.  Don’t get me wrong, Saturday Morning Apocalypse, is still 100% pure awesome but there is a more a straightforward approach to the arrangements then either Total Pwnage or Metal Kombat for the Mortal Man.   Regardless you can grab the CD for about $13 or the MP3 album for $7 over at amazon.com and if you’re a fan of cartoons (and grew up in the 90s) I highly recommend giving it a shot.  The band has been picked up by E1 Music so there will certainly be more to come in the future and hopefully they’ll find a way to reintroduce their older albums back into the market.

Review: Warp Riders by The Sword

Warp Riders / The Sword
Warp Riders / The Sword

Austin based metallers The Sword are one of my favorite bands of 21st Century.  Age of Winters and Gods of the Earth with their mythology and fantasy themed songs are some of the best, groove-heavy metal of this millennium.   Warp Riders, their 3rd studio album, released today and it blows both earlier efforts into tiny particles of space dust.  I won’t lie; I was excited about this album.  Excited to a degree where I was already starting to cope with my inevitable disappointment; no album could possibly live up to the album that existed in my head.  Well, turns out I was wrong about that.  Warp Riders is exactly as amazing I hoped it would be and then some.

This also marks one of the few specific instances  wherein I feel a little less strange about posingt a review of a metal album on a mostly science fiction and fantasy book blog.   Why is that?  Take a quick look at a  synopsis of the story told on Warp Riders (courtesy of the band’s official website):

Warp Riders tells the tale of Ereth, an archer banished from his tribe on the planet Acheron. A hardscrabble planet that has undergone a tidal lock, which has caused one side to be scorched by three suns, and the other enshrouded in perpetual darkness, it is the background for a tale of strife and fantasy, the battle between pure good and pure evil. ….The story of Warp Riders, entitled “The Night The Sky Cried Tears Of Fire” (written by Cronise), follows Ereth as he discovers a mysterious orb and meets the Chronomancer, a being beyond time and space who enlists him in a quest to restore the planet’s balance. Along the way he encounters strange warriors, mysterious witches, ancient androids, and a crew of space pirates with a vessel that will alter the course of history…  a vessel known as, The Sword.

The Sword manages to tell this story not only through the lyrical content of each song but through the music that drive each track as well.  Album opener Acheron/Unearthing the Orb starts off with a quiet synthesized introduction that evokes the science-fiction theme quite nicely right before the Unearthing the Orb section takes off with a furious crunch of guitar. Tres Brujas, released earlier this year as a single, and show some improvement on J. D. Cronises’ vocal skills; though he never strays far from his “barely sung” style.  There are no metal wails or power metal screeches here and Cronises’ vocal style suits the band’s sound perfectly.  Both Cronise and Kyle Shutt take ample opportunity to show off their guitar chops, more than in any other album and I found myself grinning on multiple occasions as one or the other burst into a solo.  Production on Warp Riders sounds a bit cleaner than on previous albums.  While the sonorous drone of the heavy distortion favored by the band is still present and accounted for Warp Riders sounds tighter than the band has ever sounded in the past.

Hands down I love this album from start to finish.  While I found that the galloping rythmn of Lawless Lands to be my particular favorite every song on this album is an absolute winner.  As of right now, with just over 3 months left in 2010, Warp Riders is my favorite album of the year and it will likely take something impossibly amazing to unseat it.  I have no real complaints except that the damn thing ended!  Thankfully I have a video trilogy to look forward to (Tres Brujas, Lawless Lands, Night City) as well!  You can check out The Sword on their website or  listen to some samples on their myspace.

A Quick Take on Steelwing

If I were browsing CDs in a store and came across Steelwing’s Lord of the Wasteland it would have been album I bought on cover art alone.

Steelwing: Lord of the Wasteland

I mean it has a robot vulture and a badass muscle car loaded with guns! It is ridiculous. It is awesome. It displays a sense of fun that the metal world doesn’t always show.  If you haven’t guessed this is something of a concept album, though not the sort of epic over-the-top ridiculous other bands will go for, but a wild ride full of foot-stomping, head-banging post-apocalyptic metal.  If it wasn’t obvious this 80s influenced band is part of the “New Wave of Traditional Metal” (NWOTHM) alongside groups like Enforcer, Holy Grail, White Wizzard, and others.  This is the kind of metal designed for summer days driving down the highway with the stereo cranked up to 11.  If you’re looking for fast, furious, epic metal with a large dose of fun Steelwing are the dudes for you!

Music Monday: With Sprinkles by Beefy

With Sprinkles by Beefy
With Sprinkles by Beefy

You should all know by now, if previous posts are anything to go by, that I am a fan of nerdcore.   I feel a little bad that I’ve yet to devote a full post to nerdcore rapper Beefy but, with last weeks release of his newest album With Sprinkles I’m about to change that.  Beefy’s previous album, Rolling Doubles is one of my favorite rap albums of all time.  Indeed, it still finds its way onto my iPod to this day.  So when I somehow missed the initial release of With Sprinkles last week I was certainly kicking myself.  With Sprinkles is a glorious explosion of nerdcore awesome feature guest stars, great hooks,  precision rhymes that leave you hungry for more.

Continue reading “Music Monday: With Sprinkles by Beefy”