With a title like this, it takes little imagination to figure out that this concerns album number two from the rock super group that is Black Country Communion. After all Glenn Hughes, Joe Bonamassa, Derek Sherinian and Jason Bonham all are respected musicians with an extensive career. And let us not forget producer Kevin Shirley, whose contribution we should not underestimate.
When reviewing the first album, I already said I wanted more. And more we got, as that third album is also already available. But this one delivers the goods for anyone who is into Led Zeppelin vibes, coupled with heavy blues infused rock. The Bonham grooves are at it again and they are powerful. The lead vocals are traded between Joe and Glenn and despite their obviously very different styles, they match. There are vintage moments, intimate parts, extended soloing, just about everything we need.
A track like Save Me would have made Page and Plant proud, and it still does not sound like a rip off. The moods presented are just great, and that orchestral riff is awesome.
It is tempting to repeat myself so I will make this short. This is another great collection of songs by a great band. Mandatory listen!
When I started this blog, now a little over 3 years ago, Magic Pie was among the first bands to get a feature here. So I am really happy to write about them again, as I believe this band is criminally underrated. But maybe that is just my misconception, and all you guys and girls already own this album?
Anyway, just in case some lines about why I like this band so much. Should you not be aware: this is a progressive rock band, and they frequently use the hammond organ (yummie!). Their songs will tick all the right boxes for any conservative member of the prog rock community and I still think they are a modern band and enrich their music with a lot of contemporary ideas. So you still have the epics, (A Life´s Work with 24 minutes and Tired with 15 minutes) the instrumental parts, solos, dynamics, and whatever we think necessary. But also fantastic vocal melodies, awesome harmonies, intricate arrangements and more exotic instruments like the flute. And all played with style and an awesome level of energy. And more musical ideas in one song than many can put in a whole album. And still without me ever getting a lost feeling.
So you bet I like this band and fully recommend them to all of you that are still reading. I mean, all the others already own this, or?
Singer Gary Cherone is probably best known for his work with the band Extreme. But besides a sadly very misunderstood album with Van Halen (III) he has been involved in many more things, a lot of which have found a home in my collection. Hurtsmile is one where his brother Mark is handling the guitars in. Yet in all honesty, many times during playback I was reminded of his times with Extreme. Especially the criminally underrated Waiting For The Punchline album and the Three Sides To Every Story record.
In my ears, this shares the groove with that big brother. And Mark turns out to be about as versatile as Nuno Bettencourt. Somewhat less of a shredder, but still a talented player. And Gary is, well just Gary. His voice is very familiar, as are his melodies. Also song wise I hear similarities.
And is that a bad thing? Well not for me actually, as I am quite allright with this type of rock. Maybe the references to the work of Extreme makes it more easy for me to get into this. It will not win them an originality contest, but for fans of Extreme or their brand of funked up rock with many clever arrangements, this is a pleasant find. Oh, and the Dylan impersonation in The Murder Of Daniel Faulkner is hilarious…
Recent years has seen Pendragon release albums in a regular time frame. As it has seen them do that with albums that could, or better, should, be considered progressive. 2011 release Passion is an example for this development.
If Pendragon in your mind is still that promising band with a neo-prog touch and some beautiful lyrical solos, you only see part of the picture. The title track for instance has some more modern touches to it. Both in riffage and vocals (sometimes those are processed to the extend you don´t even recognize Nick Barrett´s voice) and the keyboards (giving it a more Porcupine Tree like ambient feel). First epic Empathy also adds more modern almost emo like sounds to it. And I must say, as it turns out I think it works just great. Of course the more traditional parts are present as well. So in a way it is not progressive in the sense that something totally new is created. But more in the sense of adding new influences and make them work well with the sound of the band. And a lot of good things are still in place. Beautiful guitar solos, strong choruses (just check second epic This Green And Pleasant Land), dynamic songs and plenty of variety.
So another damn solid release of a band that refuses to stand still. In fact, I am inspired to go pick up the few releases I have missed over time (of which some are considered classics in the genre…). Great album.
Steven Wilson is a genius. There I said it! So expect a very biased review of this Grace For Drowning double disk. If you are one of those people ignorant of this man and his music, let me try to guide you a bit.
First should anyone into progressive rock and metal be familiar with his band Porcupine Tree. Awesome band, pick up their albums. Next is this: you try combining ambient piano and vocals (Grace For Drowning), classical guitar (Belle De Jour) with progressive workouts like Sectarian, combine elements from various genres and make them work (Index), write epics for breakfast (23 minutes of Raider II) and still come up with enough feel, groove and musical ideas to put about everything that sits high in today’s charts to shame. And if that is not enough, produce, write and perform with a lot of other people and still make everyone look good.
Okay, still don´t think I am being reasonable here? Then you have my permission to just go sit under a rock somewhere and miss out on this beautiful body of work. But never say I did not try to warn ya! Fabulous release (another one I might add). Awesomeness just got another name…
And here we are back with another Progressive Promotion Records release. And again one with Marek Arnold on board. Seven Steps To The Green Door is a 6 piece band that have put music to a story by Thoralf Koss. It is about people who lose their identity in the face of their fanatic belief in a divine authority. I received a promo, so can´t tell you much on the definitive edition, besides that it is a mediabook with 52 pages! Containing the story so you can really delve in.
Of course anyone that reads the above lines will already know we are once again heading into progressive rock / metal territory. And what I have found pretty special: often this type of albums is complex and you need several spins to connect to it. But not so with this one. Don´t know how they did it, but listening to this felt strangely familiar. And mind you, without it sounding like something you have heard before. Starting out in typical Marillion / Genesis style, and evolving from there. Utilizing anything that helps bring the story to life. So even aggressive vocals, instrumental muscles, dynamic arrangements, angelic female voices, whatever.
Another prove this Record company knows what it is doing and another proof that Marek Arnold is rapidly becoming a force to reckon with. A great writer, able to deliver diverse songs, without losing grip on quality. So you get it, another winner and class release in the genre!