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alternative rock

Semistereo, Trans Earth Injection, 2017

semistereo - trans earth injectionHoly Cow! Man, I just love how sometimes an album takes you by surprise and just blows you out of your socks. Yes dear readers, this album Trans Earth Injection from the Dutch band Semistereo did just that. And the best thing is, from the stunning artwork in the digipack, to the booklet, to the sound and most important the songs, everything is of the same high calibre.

And I have to be honest, until this dropped in my post box I had never heard of this band. And when you realise this is self produced and recorded around the globe, you become even more in awe of the result. Even when this turns out to be their third album already. Compared to the likes of Oceansize, Karnivool, Deftones and A Perfect Circle, the quintet managed to capture strong melodies, with atmosphere, depth as well as raw eruptions. So yeah alternative rock, but with a pinch of post rock and a tad of prog.

With 7 songs and over 50 minutes of playing time, this is a hammer that everyone serious about rock music should give a home. It is intense, it is powerful, it is mind blowing. And maybe even more. So no more chit chat, go out and buy the thing and immerse yourself in one of the best albums this year has yet seen!

Website

Everlost US, Live And Let Go, 2016

everlost-live-and-let-goEverlost or Everlost US are in essence a one man band as it is Jared Kay  who takes care of vocals, piano, guitar, bass and drums. The music compares to All Time Low, Yellowcard, Saosin or Set It Off. So slightly alternative or modern rock. With 7 songs and a play time of 24 minutes I think of it as an EP.

But truth be told, while listening I never thought about it not being a band, so Kay delivers a professional performance on all accounts. So fans of the bands mentioned before, can take a leap into this without fear. For all the others, this is dynamic music with enough melody and variation to keep you good company. Alas 24 minutes isn’t that much, I would prefer a full length actually. But I guess that only confirms the quality on offer here.

With an ambition to rise above his Orlando reputation, this is surely a good step into going global.

Website

Witchers, Self Titled, 2015

WitchersWitchers are an alternative rock band from Norwich UK, and this is their debut. As influences they cite The Mars Volta, Radiohead, Led Zeppelin, various prog rock bands and I think I want to add Muse (due to the timbre of singer Simon Yaxley). Phew, that are a lot of names to let sink in, so we’d better head on to the music.

And I must say, this has turned out to be a very pleasant acquaintance with the band. And for a first, this sounds remarkably confident and balanced. And while the alternative and prog influences are surely there, the band have succeeded in creating an album that is far from unnecessarily complicated or strange. It is actually pretty easy to digest, without being flat or predictable. No small accomplishment, even if I know little to nothing of the age and background of the band. The music manages to really capture you. It raises tension of a pleasant kind, it seduces and it surprises. Lot’s of things happening in the arrangements, but it is all about the song and the delivery, never about showing off.

So a lot of positive things to say about the band and the album, which makes it really easy to heartily recommend you go check them out!

Website

Slow Down Molasses, Burnt Black Cars, 2015

slow down molasses - burnt black carsThis is the first full length international release of these Canadians, after the success of their limited release of their 2012 title Walk Into The Sea. It draws upon a series of photos taken by the father of member Tyson McShane in the 1968 Paris riots. That was a chaotic and maybe wild eyed optimistic time and those sentiments we find on this disk also.

Operating as a kind of alternative rock band (the press sheet speaks of prairie post rock and psych rock) it is clear that both chaos and melody, as well as groove, are used to set the scene. Layered sounds build an intense feeling. Sometimes edgy and rough, sometimes almost clean and neat. The music is never really heavy, it is more a mix of eighties new wave (keyboards) with the fuzzed guitar sound of stoner rock.
All this makes for an interesting listen and an album that knows how to attract, and yet still grows with every listen. Which is a quality mark in this house! Also the fact there are both male and female lead vocals helps to create the bands rather unique sound.

Even if full length is open to debate, with an album clocking in at 36 minutes, I would rather have this than getting an  hour that does nothing for me. So I say job well done!

Website

Slug Comparison, Self Titled, 2014

slug comparisonFans of Opeth, Porcupine Tree or Katatonia please pay attention. Slug Comparison is the moniker under which Fen vocalist and guitarist Doug Harrison has released this self titled album. And it is a progressive alternative rock album with a dark edge to it. Which is why the artwork makes perfect sense.

What most caught my hear while listening to this is the voice of Harrison. His delivery is a perfect match for the moody music. That never is really heavy or technical, the emphasis is on melodies and melancholy. This is blending darkness and light and has no trouble holding your attention. Recorded over a 2 year period, Harrison keeps exploring and keeps growing, both as a vocalist and as a song writer. Several Fen mates help out on this album, so fans of their Trail Out Of Gloom album will want this.

Opener Bringer Of Doom is a nice way to get acquainted, and every song that follows just strengthens that familiar feeling. Short Of Hell has a great melody and some twisted sounds to throw you of the path. Which is a good thing. Evil Ways sees Doug experiment with his vocals and Long Live The Night is a multi layered epic where a choir and battlefield soundscapes add to the impact.
Interesting and spell binding…

Website

Ewian, Good Old Underground, 2014

ewian - good old undergroundA rather new international project has risen around Latvian born and German raised Ewian Christensen (vocals, piano, sounds). On this album he teams up with German guitar player Benjamin Lachance, English electronic singer songwriter Fifi Rong and American post rock artist James Hrabak. Good Old Underground is the first full length effort for this collective.

The first name that popped into my head while I was listening to this was Coldplay. Mainly because of the melancholic nature of most of the songs, especially the singing. Ewian use (more) guitars (it is a wall of sound) and colour their material in a more alternative way with for instance piano distortion and electronics. Another reference would be some new wave rock from the eighties. But without being able to pinpoint that to a specific band. The album just radiates a certain grandeur I associate with that time.

And what brings all this? Easy, a very enjoyable album that has flair, identity and good songs with light and dark. The melancholy is never far away but only serves to suck you into the album. It is never dull or sad, but instead vibrant and very alive. The contrast between the singing and the arrangements really make it all shine.  In short, I loved it! And with songs of around 3 to 4 minutes it is also suited for radio and more casual listeners.

Website

Fireflight, Now, 2012

fireflight - nowAs Fireflight are a band seldom heard of in my part of the world, I figured I bring them to your attention here. I understand earlier albums are more in a (progressive) hard rock vein, but Now is mainly an alternative rock type of album. Think of somewhere between Biffy Clyro, Red, Muse and Skillet. With female vocals (and male sometimes).

So yes, the guitars are heavy and the alternative touches stem from the use of keyboards and sequencers and the trading of lead and harmony vocals. Lead singer Dawn Michele has a very pleasant voice and is able to carry the tunes with ease. Because the dynamics in a track like Escape, it is not hard to imagine this band rocking hard to extended songs. Since this is my first encounter with Fireflight, I have no preconceived idea of what to expect. I like this. It has balls, it has melodies and a ballad type song like He Weeps is plain beautiful.

So I for one am surely trying to track down older material. And as it seems a new album is in the works, there is more to look forward to. Oh, and finally a band that puts all their web presence on the back cover. Man, don´t ask how many keep you in the dark about that…

Website

Skillet, Rise, 2013

Skillet - RiseAnd here we have another première. For me that is, as Skillet already have a bunch of records out. This quartet has a not so common configuration for a band, 2 ladies and 2 gents. And don´t be shy, they sound nothing like ABBA 🙂 . In fact, all of them play an instrument and with a female and a male singer amongst them, variety is key.

Labelled as alternative rock because of the programming that is often present, this could easily be a modern rock outfit. The guitars are present but never overpower the song or the singing. All in all it is actually very melodic, with lot´s of light and dark in the arrangements. The singing is very good, especially when both voices combine or interact. Very powerful.
Music like this should easily find a home on the radio so more people would become aware of them. Or maybe they are, as I never listen to radio. Sometimes I got to think of Gothic, because of the orchestral sounding additions, violins and so on. But I am a sucker for that, as I feel it combines with metallic guitars big time. Anyway, a great album, and a reason to go looking for some other albums by them. Oh, some refer to this as a Christian band but don´t let that turn you away, they are simply bigger than that!

Website

T.A.G., Swallow Your Modesty, 2011

t.a.g. - swallow your modestySo, this is the first CD from T.A.G., formerly The Alter Glow? That maybe the case, but I am sure that under the name V-Male they already released an album in 2004 (called W.H.A.T.) So not starters at all. Also a very experienced live crew, with gigs all over Europe. That is obvious from every aspect: the sound (courtesy of famed producer Oscar Holleman), promotion by Rock Inc. , to the artwork, songs, arrangements and instrument handling. They look and sound comfortable.

Still, it took me a couple of spins to get into the album. Maybe because I have been on a progressive run lately, and this is quite a different animal. They claim to be influenced by the likes of P.O.D., Foo Fighters, Alter Bridge, 30 Seconds To Mars and Fall Out Boy. Well, no happy punk rock, a little rap metal (Guano Apes?), some alternative touches (which reminded me more of Rage Against The Machine´s Tom Morello actually). Metal for sure. And female singer Sandra has a pleasant voice and creates nice and interesting harmonies all around.

From the biography I understand they claim to have a unique and individual sound. And while I do think they are a very competent band with all the tools to deliver their music well, I think their claim at being unique is a bit off the mark. And you know what, I don´t even think that is a problem, as I am confident that anyone into the mentioned bands, will find something to his liking within this band. No doubt on quality here, so check them out.

Website