Krakow, Minus, 2018

krakow - minusWell well, this is something different! Krakow exists for 13 years and have worked a year on the creation of this, their pinnacle achievement. For me it is my first time hearing them and the sound of the band still puzzles me. So I understand why the press sheet talks of heavy, subtle, melodic, groovy, sluggish and mostly about dense. Because it IS a wall of sound…

On first impressions I guess I am reminded somewhat of the goth from earlier Sisters Of Mercy albums, or something similar. I suck at names from Eighties bands… This because there are a lot of effects used throughout and the vocals are not on top of the music, but more a part of it. Okay, when those vocals get really harsh, I am glad they are a bit low. But since the band use lots of dynamics nothing really gets in the way.
The diversity in both vocal delivery as well as musical arrangements is big. And yet somehow they keep you on your toes, never knowing what to expect next.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not disqualifying them! It is merely an observation. And of course, being a sucker for bands that dare to be different, I admire what the band have produced here.

Not an album to play in the background, this is one to explore! Pretty sure you will dig it too if you really dig in.

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Sick N Beautiful, Element Of Sex, 2018

sick n beautiful - element of sexApparently what we are dealing with here is the biggest rock band on this side of Alpha Centauri… But loaded with creatures that enjoy listening to the likes of Rob Zombie, Halestorm and Alice Cooper, to give you some references. After their emergency landing in Rome in 2013, the quintet formed this band and now unleash their next instalment of groove metal to the innocent inhabitants of our little place in the universe.

Well, crazy talk and staged pictures in full costumes aren’t what this blog is about, it is the music that counts here. And I must admit, the album sounds powerful, with singer Herma delivering all sorts of vocals and pulling them all off too. The band is more melodic than you might think, yet infuse large doses of energy into their songs. So Megalomaniacal features some additional low gravelly voices, where All Wanna Go To Heaven is an upbeat party which even features harmony vocals. Because of the use of sequencers, songs like Hellawake or Hexxx have a very modern industrial metal feel and again, the band convince with a very tight performance.

While I do not care much for strong imagery or the use of (the element of) sex to sell an album, the band do deliver a strong set of songs, and that is what counts. So how ever you want to look at it, if this type of music is your thing, you could do much much worse.

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The Soul Exchange, Edge Of Sanity, 2018

the soul exchange - edge of sanityThe boys from The Soul Exchange sure like to keep busy. Ever since coming on my radar in 2016, they keep writing and releasing new music. So this is already release 4, and the third with fabulous singer (and keyboardist) Daniel John in their ranks. Not that I want to short sell the band of course, after all they provide much of the canvas and songs for John to shine on. Another big role is for producer and co-writer and arranger Magnus Ljunqvist.

But on to the album now; 9 regular songs and a bonus track for those lucky enough and a total playing time of 51 minutes. John is now the sole lyricist, with the Von Bell’s, John and Ljunqvist writing the songs. Lyrically the album explores the darker side of the human psyche. Tailor made for Daniel’s emotive delivery.
The songs are, as before, a winning combination of classic hard rock with some contemporary metal infused, with emphasis on melody and vocal harmonies. The album sounds big, think Metallica’s black album is a reference. And should modern radio still be playing rock, a lot of songs on here would fit seamlessly in, as they impact already on first listen.

And since the album still gets better with every play, it is safe to say the band have created another winner. Personally I hope the band break in Europe, so we will get a chance at seeing them live. Very very solid, and surely an album to check out!

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Souls Of Deaf, Fortune Favors The Bold, 2018

Souls Of Deaf - Fortune Favors The BoldWell, since the stats on my blog tell me that this is review 1000 (98 classics and 902 regular), it makes me very happy that fate has it that this concerns the debut album from Souls Of Deaf! Do I hear you think Souls Of Deaf? Yes SoD are a new band from the (South of) the Netherlands, so chances are you have not yet met them.

Which is a shame because for me this is easy one of the highlights in the year so far. And not because founder Sander Stappers is a close friend. That would be cheap. No, I love this album because he managed to write 10 songs that offer a fresh take on hard rock and metal from the heydays, modernised it, and stayed far away from standard formulaic songs. And still the tracks have power, sound logical and show a diversity that is remarkable for a new band.
The latter may be due to the fact that all the guys involved are no new kids on the heavy block but seasoned musicians, often active in several bands.

I am not gonna talk you through the album, this is one to discover for yourself. And mind you, I said diverse, so don’t go judging it on 1 or 2 songs or some quick sampling. No, this is an album to dig into, listen from start to finish and hit repeat. Only after a couple of spins you will understand the magic at work. The clear and heavy sound of the CD (thanks to Erwin Hermsen from Toneshed) will make enjoying it even more easy.

An amalgam of Guns ‘n Roses, to Rush to Dream Theater to Motörhead to Ozzy, this delivers a kick in the face that will leave you wanting more!

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Sunroad, Wing Seven, 2017

sunroad - wing sevenSo while we are talking about Fred Mika, I might as well tell you about the latest effort from Sunroad as well (thanks Fred for sending it to me!). Obviously already album number seven for this band and when you listen to it, it is crystal clear they are an experienced outfit.

The band play a mix of hard rock and metal with slight progressive overtones. Singer André Adonis has a bit of a raw edge to his voice, but nowhere near as sharp as one Axl R. And because of the added vocal harmonies, it stays melodic. Guitarist Netto Mello is an absolute find who combines flashy shredding with melodic phrasing. Listen to the instrumental Day By Day and be amazed. The band is rounded out by bass player Akasio Angels and of course Fred on drums.
That the band know how to write classy tunes is clear from the start. Destiny Shadows and White Eclipse waste no time in introducing a band on fire. In The Sand has also been released with a video on YouTube and combines a firm riff with all the qualities the band has to offer.
They also not shy away from a surprise like Tempo (What Is Ever), which is a full a capello intro to Whatever. Skies Eyes on the other hand is a ballad typed song with acoustic guitar and keyboards in the intro, after which the band takes over.

This is a band that many would enjoy, they deserve a much bigger audience. I include the In The Sand video to help spread the word 🙂
Also, Rock Company has limited quantities available.

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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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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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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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Weapons Of Anew, The Collision Of Love And Hate, 2017

weapons of anew - collisionOn to something different now. In respect to my previous post that is. Weapons Of Anew are a new modern metal band who have managed to capture 8 songs under the productional and engineering skills of James Murphy. Not bad gents! They are an experienced 5 piece in the classic mould; voice, bass, drums and 2 guitars.

While listening to this I was wondering for a while where the singing (especially when there were harmonies added) reminded me of. Anyone remember Grenouer? Of course this is more guitar heavy (do not think there was a keyboard anywhere near the sessions) but this also has that slight alternative touch to it. And I must say, the songs are powerful and melodic. Even the sometimes brutal screaming did not bother me all as the band managed to keep it functional.
Yes, from first track Killshot to closer Undone, the band deliver an energetic bunch of songs that are filled to the brim with killer riffs, breaks and flashing solos. Seems they were not out to take prisoners as they fire on all cylinders from the go. And the good part is, I never felt overpowered by a wall of sound. The songs still have room to breathe. Part of that I contribute to the singing, which, as I already mentioned, is for the larger part very melodic. The other reason will be that there is enough variation in approach and arrangements.

Since this release is a 34 minute work, I hope it gathers them enough attention and sales to justify a longer album, would not mind hearing more at all. Congrats!

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Zeroscape, Finish Dem, 2017

zeroscape - finish demYou should never judge a book by the cover but I must confess I was having questions when I read the press sheet accompanying this release. Most prominent genres, but not limited to, are reggae, metal and rap. All because this Canadian band, formed in 2001, believes that all music styles could “melt”.

And truth be told, melting a lot of styles they surely do. Does it all work? Mhm, difficult question. I always try to approach every album with an open mind, but these guys really ask a lot. Though in all honesty, that might be because I rarely enjoy reggae or rap, or even metalcore. And when a song like The Funeral borrows heavily from a famous Survivor song, you ain’t helping your case with me.

Yes I applaud the effort and agree that combining style elements from various genres is possible and can lead to exciting music. But I guess you have to like those elements to be able to enjoy the result. So bits and pieces of this work for me, and others just don’t. But don’t let that stop you from giving it a try if you are curious. I do think these guys enjoy what they do and sound convincing doing it.

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