Touchstone, Discordant Dreams, 2007

touchstone - discordant dreamsProgressive / symphonic rock the British are famous for. Big selling point are the duo lead vocals of Kim Seviour and Rob Cuttingham (also keyboards).
When 2 voices sing together almost continuously, there is always a risk that the end result is neither fish nor meat.  Making it all to smooth often. I must confess that was my first impression here also. But as is often the case, repeated plays adjusts your hearing to the sound the band really has.

And it is no denying that this is a very nice record. Nothing too heavy of course, but still it rocks where it needs to. The songs have a lot of atmosphere. It is highly melodic and holds a lot of variation within the songs. Maybe due to the involvement of John Mitchell, but it resembles Arena (The Visitor era) at times. But that is not a bad reference in my opinion.

Only thing I am not too keen on (and we hear it in a lot of recordings alas) is the sound of the drums, especially the snare. When the snare has a constant sound (which no drummer in real life has), I feel it becomes to mechanical. I wished more drummers and engineers would record the actual snare sound, this making the drums sound more organic. But let´s face it, this still is a very enjoyable album! I am curious how their next album will sound… More on that later.

Personal play tips: Discordant Dreams, See The Light, Being Hannah.

Website

Several Shorts 3

scott mosher - infernoScott Mosher, Inferno, 2004

Talking about mixing different styles… What we have here is a mix of progressive rock and ambient. The good thing is, it actually sounds very refreshing. Just the vocals need some more work I think. Definitely one for the daring and open minded.

green carnation - acoustic verses

Green Carnation, Acoustic Verses, 2005

In my previous post about this band I talked about their great progressive metal. But as the album title already suggests, this is a different beast. But what passion and beauty, what pure and intimate music. Essential for all those special moments. Very classy!

world stage - the day america criedWorld Stage, The Day America Cried, 2001

Dedicated to the victims and families of the 9-11 disaster, and put together by Jim Peterik, I guess most by now will know what to expect.
The tracks are emotional but alas basic. Emphasis on vocals, with mostly piano backing. Some drums and guitar, but not much. Mostly slow paced. A pity it rocks so little.

Joe Bonamassa, The Ballad Of John Henry, 2009

joe bonamassa - the ballad of john henryLike probably a lot of people I had heard of Joe Bonamassa before, but as I am not the greatest blues lover in the world, I always hesitated to buy one of his records. But a while back I heard the opening track of this one and was very impressed. So the waiting days are over, I had to have this.

And indeed, that opening title track is a monster. A fierce slow riff on  a pounding beat. Great stuff I can listen to all day. Next is a cover of a song most of us will know from British singer Sam Brown, Stop!. This gets the blues treatment here and, despite not being as good as the the opener, is still an enjoyable ditty. So onwards the level of interest keeps changing. But I reckon in time I will appreciate the blues workouts a little more…  I am glad to have this and am sure that people who like their blues a little rockier, or their rock a little bluesier, will appreciate this.

By the way, just after releasing a new album, talk is that Joe is participating in a new super group called Black Country Communion, together with Glenn Hughes, Derek Sherinian and Jason Bonham. One to watch out for!

Personal play tips: The Ballad Of John Henry, Story Of A Quarryman, Happier Times.

Website

Platitude, Nine, 2004

platitude - nineMaybe you have that also sometimes; there is so much going on in a record, you kinda get lost listening to it.
This is what happened to me when I started playing this disk. These 7 musicians (2 keyboard players and 2 guitar players!) fire away constantly making this a hard album to get into.

But after several spins it grows on ya. After all this is melodic metal with a lot of progressive twists. Despite all the notes fired at the listeners, this is a very enjoyable affair once you get used to it. And from that point on you start hearing the melodies. Without doubt a very competent band, that maybe should consider the adagio less is more. But then again, there is a market for this I am sure. And understand me well, these guys know what they are doing!

So for all you tech freaks out there, pick this one up. If you prefer more instant melodic music, this may be a little heavy weight. I think this will continue to grow on me.

Personal play tips (subject to change): Dark Mind, Catch 22, Supernova.

Website

Riverside, Anno Domini High Definition, 2009

Riverside - Anno DominiDon´t know about you, but when I read about a band who gets seriously hyped I almost always get suspicious. But then again, if you don´t give them a try, you will never know, right?

So when the opportunity presented itself, I bought Anno Domini High Definition by Polish band Riverside. So the first question to answer is, is it any good?

I can honestly say I think it is. Especially music wise this is a very convincing album that speaks loudly of its qualities. This is somewhere between symphonic rock and progressive metal, with some unexpected twists added. Think of brass (really! and it works) and some more modern sounds (sequences). It rocks where it needs to, the guys know what they are doing, know how to write a good tune, can lock into a groove and how to spice it all up with clever arrangements.

The only 2 things I feel leave room for improvement are the lead vocals and the length of the album. I think 44 minutes is rather short and as far as the vocals go, they are in no way bad, but fairly clean. I would love to hear Jorn Lande or Steve Hogarth doing this. I know, 2 very different types, but both are able to add an extra dimension to a song.

That said, these remarks are obviously minor. This is top notch without doubt. If you haven´t checked them out yet, do it, you will not be disappointed!

Personal play tips: hey there are 5 songs on this record…

Website

Beardfish, Destined Solitaire, 2009

beardfish - destined solitaireLooking back on my posts I noticed a lot of symphonic and progressive albums. Must be a phase I am in. Naah not really, I love that stuff.

So another one of those is this band with the quirky name Beardfish. Likely a concious effort to resemble Spocks Beard? This I sometimes noticed in the songs, though they are surely not a copycat. The start of the album is very promising, with a lot of Hammond organ. Reminded me of another great band from the same part of the world I reviewed earlier: Magic Pie. But as the album progressed (pun intended) the differences became more clearer.

It is obvious that these guys are very competent. They add a slight jazz feel to their songs. Not only on chord progressions and moods, but also through their choice of weapons. Harpsichord anyone?
The music is at times mainly instrumental with a lot going on, and at times it is melodic with typical symphonic use of organ, mellotron etc.. As a whole this is less rock as the earlier mentioned Magic Pie. Nevertheless, this is convincing material. And according to the “law of symphonics”, they do not shy away from creating lengthy material…

Only criticism I have is the use of certain words. We have a saying that translates to something like ” they don´t need to do that”.  Meaning they have enough quality to show for and don´t need to shock the listeners. Now is shock a too big word, but I hope you get my point. But maybe I get it after reading the lyrics.

Personal play tips: Awaken The Sleeping, Destined Solitaire, The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Off.

Website

Silent Lapse, Birthright, 2009

silent lapse - birthrightRecently I read a news item somewhere that these guys where offering their album for free. So I visited their website and asked for it.

I got it pretty quick, and recently started playing it. Before hand you always wonder with a stunt like this, will it be worth the while. And to cut a long story short, it is! Though this band may not have reached the top in the prog metal field, I think this is a quality release and any serious fan should get him or herself acquainted to this band. It is simply an offer you can´t refuse! I won´t elaborate on that as this is up for grabs. Figure it out yourself. I will just repeat that you won´t be disappointed… Support them!

Personal play tips: just play it already!

Website

Several Shorts 2

port mahadia - echoes in timePort Mahadia, Echoes in Time, 2007

Despite the cast of known characters (David Ragsdale and Damian Wilson to name a few), I am sorry to say it did not convince me like I expected. Maybe my expectations just were to high, or I should give it a few more spins. It´s not bad mind you, but it just didn´t stick.  Some really good progressive ideas though, so time will tell.

soil - scars

Soil, Scars, 2001

Holy smoke, these guys take no prisoners. Labelled as nu metal, but I totally like their songs. The band show a lot of attitude. It grooves and kicks ass from start to finish. This just plainly rocks hard, yet stays melodic.
Highly recommended for any rock lover.

Hinder - Extreme BehaviourHinder, Extreme Behavior, 2005

This band got labelled as post grunge alternative, but to me that is just wrong. This is (hard)rock with a modern twist. The album shows depth in the song writing department, so don´t let the parental advisory sticker tell you otherwise. Very diverse, great and hard rocking record. And still enough light and dark to keep it interested. My only complaint is it´s length. A few songs more would be nice gentlemen…

Green Carnation, The Quiet Offspring, 2005

green carnation - the quiet offspringJust recently I discovered this band, and so far every new addition to my collection has proved a pleasant experience. So how will this one fare?

The album starts off with the title track, and already they take no prisoners. Very convincing delivery and great use of light and dark. The singer may not have the greatest reach, or be able to put a little rough edge on his voice, he still hits all the notes. And he´s supported by a lot of backing vocals without it all sounding too smooth.

I especially like the guitars and keyboard parts. Together they create a lot of dynamics, thus making this a fresh sounding album.  Hey, and a band that puts an organ to great use really can´t go wrong or ? 😉 The band is also not afraid to use subtle arrangements with piano and vocal. Of course a heavy guitar riff is never far away, after all this still is metal. Production wise they are not afraid to use more modern influences (processed drums / loops). And the best thing about that is they do it seemingly effortless. To conclude, give this a chance, I promise you won´t be disappointed!

Personal play tips: The Quiet Offspring, A Place For Me, The Everlasting Moment.

Website no longer active (ALAS!)

Roger Daltrey, Under A Raging Moon, 1985

Roger Daltrey - Under A Raging MoonTogether with the McVicar record (bought it for the utterly fantastic songs Without Your Love and McVicar) I got this one. Just because I read somewhere it was a really rocking record.

And is it? In a eighties AOR kinda way, yes it is. Songs are penned by several legends in the genre (including Who band mate Pete Townsend) and played by some big studio names. And with all that class writing and playing, together with Roger´s still forceful voice you can´t really go wrong now can you? And adventurous in places as well. The title track being a prime example of that (more drums anyone?).

So it actually proved a pleasant listen. Maybe a little light for my normal taste (at the time that is) but nevertheless worthwhile. It seems there is a 2008 reissue, but this is the original I bought second hand.

Personal play tips: After The Fire, Fallen Angel, Under A Raging Moon.

Website