Morpheus Rising, Let The Sleeper Awake, 2011

Morpheus Rising - Let The Sleeper AwakeSeems this year so far has brought me a lot of new discoveries. The latest being  UK band Morpheus Rising with their Let The Sleeper Awake album. Kinda funny to name yourself after the Greek God of dreams, and then let the sleeper wake up… Ah well, I am sure they know what they are up to.
The band is formatted as a classic metal quintet (vocals, bass, drums and 2 x guitar) and that is exactly what first song Daylight confirms. High energy, dual lead guitar attacks, the works. Singer Si Wright has a warm and pleasant voice, but is not your typical metal screamer. His tone is darker and deeper, more like a 80´s new wave singer. Next track Lord Of The North continues that adrenaline pump, but here it seems keyboards are added. Low in the mix, but there is something cooking all right. The chorus is a big winner! The dual leads are again put to good use and deliver many a bridge that holds your attention. And much to my surprise Wright pulls off some screams as well. More metal than I figured 😉

As the album develops, the impression of the style of the band evolves as well. Due to the colours added with keyboards, I sometimes got a different vibe from this album. More progressive if you will, but I would like to bring that new wave connection up again. I really like the overall effect, bringing the band an identity of their own.
To sum it up, a very interesting melodic metal release that is very well worth hunting down. Excellent!

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Konchordat, The New Crusade, 2011

konchordat - the new crusadeAhhh, sometimes this life is just great! Like when you get to listen to a new artist and they just tick all the right boxes. The artist in case of course being Konchordat, with their recent album The New Crusade. New artist you should not take literally, this is not the band´s first album, I just never heard of them before.

The music from this duo (Stuart Martin on voice, guitars and keyboards, and Steve Cork on bass, Moog Taurus and keyboards, with Liam Green guesting on drums), to me is like Threshold as being played by early Marillion. So a less metal version if you like. But they are no copycats, and the voice of Stuart resembles none of Threshold lead vocalists what so ever. I just thought of those bands while listening to this. Must be the grandiose themes, the keen use of catchy choruses, or the instrumental breaks….
The album has 6 tracks, clocking in between 4:34 and 14:29, giving us a total of over 55 minutes of damn good progressive rock. Ever track here has a vibrancy and energy that hold your attention with ease. Some fine melodies all around and all the variety and musicianship one could hope for with this type of music.

So it is really easy I think, all people into Threshold, early Marillion, or with a love of quality progressive rock, head on over to their site and buy the thing!

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D´AccorD, Helike, 2011

d´accord - helikeAfter the excellent received début, the Norwegians of D´Accord wasted little time and now they are back with successor Helike. Consisting of two parts (no doubt that in the old days this would have been side 1 and 2 of the LP…)  Helike turns out a concept album probably dealing with Greek mythology. I am not quite sure, did not receive any info on that. There are lyrics for 10 tracks in the booklet, so don´t worry they keep firing the same old song and dance at ya.

If anything, this album is a logical progression of their first album. Mastermind Daniel Maage sings with more self confidence I feel and the band still don´t shy away from wearing their influences on their sleeve. Yet I feel they have become less apparent on this disk, so that is a good development.
We still get progressive rock, firmly rooted in seventies traditions. Played on authentic instruments (Hammond, piano, flute, drums, bass and guitar) and several guest musicians bring even more original sounds like trumpet, trombone, tuba and saxophone. Lot´s of light and shade, playing with dynamics is a true forte of the band. Another strength is their melancholy. There are several chilling instrumental pieces on this disk (let alone vocally) that really get you. Compliments to the gents! So little doubt here that the aficionados will love this!

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Black Stone Cherry, Between The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea, 2011

black stone cherry - between the devil & the deep blue seaHoly Cow! I don´t know on what diet these guys have been on, but it sure did them some serious good. I liked the first record but never got the next one (that is, if I am not mistaken). This baby is kicking some serious ass though! Like The Black Crowes on steroids or Alter Bridge if you like.

So the boys have upped their game and delivered a monster of an album. Great songs, with melodies that you will whistle for days. Intense delivery from all parties involved here. I am having trouble finding the right words to describe what impact this album has. Heavy yet catchy, in your face yet full of emotion. It actually seems pretty pointless to delve into this much further. This is a must buy for anyone into quality hard rock. Firmly rooted in the seventies, with a modern sound that still breathes and chock full of irresistible  hooks. The hammer!

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Better Tomorrow, Homeiswhereyourheartis, 2011

better tomorrow - homeiswhereyourheartisThis German trio deliver a perfect sounding album that will please all people who are into bands like Linkin Park, 30 Seconds To Mars, and so on. So if you associate that with style elements like clean and screaming vocals, heavy use of dynamics, harmonized backing vocals, synthesisers that add colour to the arrangements and most of all melodies that nest themselves in your brain immediately, you are right.

I believe this is their first effort and to my ears it is of international quality, really on par with the best of them. The production matches the hype, this is just plain awesome. I don`t know how they pulled this off, they must have label support for this. But that don´t matter, if the result is this, I am not complaining. Nice touch is the addition of real instruments like violin.

Maybe the band need to develop a more unique identity, but I am quite confident that will progress over time. That is, if they get the chance to play live, and grow as a unit. For now, anyone into the mentioned names, or in rock music with alternative touches, head on over to their website and acquaint yourself!

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FeedForward, Upstream, 2011

feedforward - upstreamThis is the second album by this Dutch band, and the first with new singer Patrice. Female singers in a metal band often cause people to think of them as another Gothic band. Especially when they also originate from the Netherlands 😉
But rest assured, this truly is a progressive metal band. Or a progressive rock band with more heavy guitars, depending on how you look at it. Because one thing is for sure, these guys and girls are in it for the song, and not to showcase their technical abilities. Which is not saying they are no capable musicians!

So Patrice has a rather nice singing voice with absolutely no resemblance of any opera kind of thing. Also not really raw, or even with a small hint of an edge, but still a warm and pleasant voice to listen to. A little like Lana Lane if you will. All is again looking and sounding good, so over to the music.

The band have written 9 songs for us that clock in at almost 59 minutes and lasting between 3 to 12 minutes. Like I said, the songs are important and in that department the band delivers. They use a lot of dynamics and variety in their arrangements and offer an album that will appeal to people into metal and rock, that like the more progressive side of things, but are looking for craftsmanship and melodies as well. Safe buy!

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2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.