Red Mourning, Under Punishment’s Tree, 2018

red mourning - under punishment's treeIt was tempting to repeat what I said when I wrote about their 2014 album Where Stone And Water Meet. But that would not do the band justice. Yes, this album is still a mix of hardcore screams, heavy riffs, beautiful vocal melodies that open up the whole sound, ferocious drumming and all in all a massive amount of energy.

If anything, their vibrant mix of blues, heavy metal, hardcore and groove, seems to have matured even more. Even someone like me, who typically does not like screaming vocals, can fall for the combination at work here. I can understand why a lot of what is going on is still not aimed at the faint of heart, but listeners who enjoy a band that dares to cross boundaries, will find lots to their liking here. For instance, take a listen to Calls Of Pan and you will know immediately what I am talking about. When the vocal melodies and harmonies kick in, this band produces a power that is impossible to resist. And then the screaming serves a purpose too, like dark serves light.

I can only applaud the band for delivering another unique set of songs, where blues harp and slide guitar sit beside hard hitting metal and still make sense.

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Maverick, Firebird, 2018

maverick - firebirdOriginally released by this Aussie band in 2017, this version concerns the Bad Reputation release from 02-2018.  The band is a quartet consisting of Craig Jovanovic on vocals and guitar, Nick Dudman on drums, Mark De Vattimo on guitars and vocals and Simon Hallett on bass and vocals. Their musical influences are said to be Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Humble Pie and Mountain.

But while listening to this, the name that popped up in my head the most was The Black Crowes, even when that is mostly due to the vocal delivery being somewhat similar to Chris Robinson. Anyway, if balls to the wall rock is what you are after, these guys have the right attitude and the chops to pull it off. Does that make them special? No not really, at least not in my book. This is vibrant and I have no doubts that they will rock every stage and take their crowds by storm. But most of the songs sound a bit as by the numbers. Solid, well done, but nothing really stands out.
That is, until the closing part of the album. I found I really fall for The Road and Tonight We Die, the last 2 of the 8 on offer. These do hit home for me. So I hit repeat and just listen again. And slowly but surely the album becomes more of a friend. Track 3 Obsession is also rather good. As is that riff in Black Voodoo.

So, as is so often the case, it is a grower. Play it often and see what it does for you!

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Ghostly Beard, Inward, 2018

ghostly beard - inwardWell, not sure if I can add anything to what has already been said about Ghostly Beard. But of course I am still trying just that 🙂
Because there is a lot to like about the music of Patrick Talbot, the bearded one himself. After the Infinite EP, with it’s magnificent prog leanings, came first full length Invisible, which proved a treat with it’s sophisticated, sometimes fusion like approach. And in what seems only a few months after, we are now treated with the third release, titled Inward. Seems the guy loves words that start with I.

And to be clear, I love the music of this man. Not because he is the best singer in the world. He isn’t but can deliver his tunes with an inspiring honesty and clever use of backing vocals. Also not because he is an awesome instrumentalist who seems to handle every instrument with an ease that could make people jealous. He does not play to impress, he shines because he serves the song in the best possible way.
No, it is because of the feel good nature of his songs!

Yes, on this album some tracks are melancholic, but they do not make me sad at all. Ever since getting the album I have been listening I don’t know how many times, and the album always picks me up. From the slow burning How Does It Feel, (great chorus and heartfelt guitar solo) to the full on happy Going Away, every song enchants me.

In his words this album defines his style as an artist. To me the only thing that is important is that I hope he releases many more songs. Treat yourself and pick this up!

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Eden Seed, Age Of Creation, 2018

eden seed - age of creationWhen bass player Matheus Manente sent me the new album of this band, I of course wanted to listen. I quite liked his solo album from some time ago. Well, this is something different in a couple of ways….

First the fact that their guitarist is female. Not so special maybe, except that she appears to be the first Muslim metal guitarist that appears only in the traditional clothing, the niqab, leaving only her eyes visible.  Not that it matters to me actually, this blog is about music first and foremost!
Also in the trash metal genre sometimes the singing mostly consists of angry growling. And alas in most of the songs here that is also the case. And even when it takes some getting used to, I cannot say it is done bad. It just a matter of taste.

So now on to the music. Opening track Return shows the type of riffing you’d expect from a trash band. Some nice guitar work in it, so guitarist Gisele Rocha knows what she is doing. The production from Manente is crisp so the overall sound isn’t drowning out anything.  As I said, the singing in the first couple of tracks is not really my thing, but I cannot deny the band are able to create an impact. What is also a good thing is they added electronica to parts of the music. Creates a different feel and it actually contributes rather than distracts.

Combine that to the pretty varied songs (and actual singing in songs like Disturbing The Silence, Peace Be With You or Rocking All Night Long (reminds me a bit of Ozzy music wise, with Lemmy  on vocals) and it becomes clear that the band have potential.  If any of the references interests you, go check them and be your own judge.

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Marenna, Livin’ No Regrets, 2018

marenna - livin no regretsAfter releasing an EP in 2015 and a full length in 2017, Brazilian band Marenna, built around singer Rod Marenna, decided it was about time the world got to know their stage presence.

The way I look at it, if you decide to do a live album, do it right. So raw and in your face, and no studio overdubs. And I am happy to say Marenna did just that. Recorded in their home town of Caxias do Sul in 2016, if anything, this is a fitting testament of a band on fire.
After a short intro, we are treated with a fierce rendition of You Need To Believe. And talking of fierce, the energy the band put into their performance is noticeable throughout the album. And yes, here and there small things appear that prove this is natural and as is. But what the album proves most of all is that the output of the band is a delicacy for anyone into melodic rock and AOR. I know Brazil is most known for bands on the heavier side of the rock spectrum, but melodic rock is also very much alive in that part of the world.

So if this is the genre for you, than treat yourself to the likes of Never Surrender, Reason To Live or whatever song on the album, you will not regret it!

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The Stranger, Self Titled, 2018

The Stranger - The StrangerAlas I have not received any info on who the Stranger is. All I know is that he or she (probably he) is from Burbank California and wrote all the melodies and handled the drums and synths on this release. Tim Lawrence added guitars and bass and mixed and mastered the album. Or maybe it is an extended EP, with 8 tracks clocking in at  35 minutes.

Anyway, what we have here is a modern metal album. The modern aspect being that part of the singing is of the aggressive type. A bit metalcore or screamo I think (sorry, you should know by now that genre tagging isn’t my forte). But don’t let that prevent you from listening in, overall this is a melodic metal album with some progressive accents and 2 piano pieces too!
Opening is the track Enough, high energy drumming with keyboards adding light to the dark riffs on guitar. Good introduction! While You Can continues in the same vein. Scarlet Moon is one of the longer tracks (almost 5 minutes) with again a by now familiar synth sound. Track 5 is called The Difference and is just piano and voice. Actually nice to have a break here, after 4 full on songs. The piano sound is rich and full but with the right dynamics to support the emotional vocal delivery. From the last 3 songs the first 2 are again heavy yet melodic and closer Ghost is another piano and voice song.

Overall a nice effort to welcome The Stranger into the world of music. For me a little more variation in synth sounds would be good, and I think the lead voice is good enough to have a little more presence in the mix.

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Emil & The Ecstatics, Rise Again, 2018

emil & the ecstatics - rise againDon’t know about you, but I am not really into blues. I can enjoy it when it gets infused with a healthy dose of rock, but often I find the musical vocabulary pretty limited.

And now Emil & The Ecstatics have landed their new album Rise Again on my desk. It is their fourth, but obviously the first I have been listening to. Going through it a couple of times I noticed a bit of similarity in the singing to Robert Cray. Not bad for a white guy me thinks. Also the guitar sound is not unlike that of Cray. At least to my limited knowledge! Then again, using a strat must be pretty common ha ha.
Another thing worth writing about is the regular use of the hammond organ. Being a big fan of the sound of that, it actually makes it more easy for me to get into the album. This edition has the 8 regular tracks plus 3 bonus ones, with 2 of those being live tracks.

Ultimately, even when this genre isn’t something I will listen to often, I think this is done well. The playing is of course there, the songs have enough variation to hold my attention throughout, even when not all ideas sound very original to my ears.

Overall pretty awesome for some Swedish dudes to pull this thing off and sound like the real deal.

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Umphrey’s McGee, It’s Not Us, 2018

umphrey's mcgee - it's not usNow here is another band that in my humble opinion should be a lot bigger. A big lot bigger! And it seems the band thought so too, because this album sees them in their probably most focused and accessible appearance yet.

Now, those words might also scare some of their older fans away, but that would be a mistake.  Even when especially the first 4 songs sound tailor made for the unaware public, this band is just too damn good to sell out. So do not worry, their songwriting and playing abilities are still strong and prominent throughout.
Actually, I quite like they chose a couple of highly catchy songs to open the album with. You immediately feel at home listening to this. So when their usual more quirky nature shows its face in songs like Maybe Someday or Remind Me, they impress me even more. And still the melodies and feel here are of the highest calibre! The way Remind Me moves through several rock genres is mindblowing and a testament of just how good this band is. Even when you are not a mellotron or guitar fan, I dare you to not like this… And just when you think they have gone completely mad, they tear you up with the aching beauty of You And You Alone.

For me this is an album with an undisputable quality. Classy music from class musicians. Don’t remain ignorant, put this on your buy list and give it a few spins. I guarantee a satisfactory experience. And if not, consider yourself lost 🙂

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Claudio Delgift, One Life Many Roads, 2018

claudio delgift - one life many roadsClaudio Delgift is a musician from Argentina, who is also known as “C” or Delgift. His main instrument is the guitar (which he masters) but you can also find him on other instruments as well as vocals. I know of at least 3 albums, but am not sure about his total discography so far.

One Life Many Roads is his current album and I think this can be categorized as progressive rock, even when some songs or parts lean on blues. Opening with the 10+ minute Diamond Heart, his prowess on the guitar can be heard throughout the song. Not only electric, but also on acoustic.  Vortex is the first time we hear him sing. Now his voice may not be everyone’s taste, but it is honest and authentic.  And fair is fair, the song still impresses through his playing skills. Not that he is a very fast shredder by the way. Delgift is more about moods and feel. Highlighted in for instance track 3, Song For You. Great melodies and hooks. Life Element is a song where that bluesy feel prevails. The guitar is used in many ways, to riff, to play melodies, chords and solos, maybe influenced by Jimi Hendrix. Nice groove too! On Rogue’s Day Out I am strangely reminded of Robert Plant during his days when Robbie Blunt was his guitar player. There are 4 more songs to enjoy, including a wonderful acoustic workout called The Marketplace.

So when you love stellar playing and variety, this is an album to check!

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Cellar Dwellers, Junkyard Chronicles part 3, 2018

cellar dwellers - junkyard chronicles part 3And…the Cellar Dwellers are back with EP 3 in a series of 4. And as was to be expected, EP 3 of the Junkyard Chronicles is another batch of 5 songs highlighting the bands roots in punk, psychedelic and classic rock.

Opening with the venomous Don’t Know Dick, the first statement is bold and ballsy. Next track, Dear Johnny, with Michel Janssen on guest vocals, is an uptempo rocker with alas a sad ending for Johnny… Lost is a song with a great haunting guitar line throughout the song. It is a slow burner, and for me easy one of the highlights.  Next up is Pussy, which you can listen to below. And yes, it is fun and energetic.
The release closes with Nightmare, which is another prime example of the power in the band. And another song with great guitar work.

Expect part 4 towards the end of the year.

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