Mob Rules, Radical Peace, 2009

Mob Rules - Radical PeaceThis German band gets labelled as Power Metal. That combination often leads to the conception of happy metal with galloping beats with double kick, simplistic lyrics, etc.. Hey not judging here!

But this album (actually the first I bought, but it appears to be their sixth full length album if I counted right) would not be done justice by referring to it that way. No, this has a lot more to offer. I even think the label is not correct. It is metal al right,  but the depth of the songs and lyrical content borders heavily into more progressive territory. The fact they they have 6 songs on it which tie together as one epic of over 18 minutes, only adds to that.

But they kept the sense of melody Power Metal is loved for and shy away from long instrumental passages in which they only exhibit their technical skills. Which does not mean they are not capable musicians. Those passages are used here to create the atmosphere they need in order to strengthen the lyrical content.
So this leaves us with an album of powerful songs, full of melody, atmosphere and feel. It rocks and it moves. It kicks ass, or sometimes just sets a mood. All in all a very pleasant surprise and a reason to check out their other material as well. Hope there is more Hammond on those too 😉

Personal play tips: The Oswald File (track 5-10).

Website

Shadow´s Mignon, Midnight Sky Masquerade, 2008

shadows mignon - midnight sky masqueradeShadow´s Mignon is another project of German musician Henning Pauly (who lives in the USA). If that name doesn´t ring a bell, then I know you are not familiar with his work, be it solo, or under the name of Chain of Frameshift to name a few.
I reckon him as a very talented guy, who writes really interesting music, always has great singers (James LaBrie, Michael Sadler amongst others), has humour, and can shred like the best (guitar being his main instrument, but he does a lot of other things as well).

Owning a lot of his work, I couldn´t resist buying this as well. And though I believe this is a conscious effort to write in a more standard metal kind of style, I felt a bit disappointed after hearing it. I am sorry to say I think it is no where near his best work to date.

That said, I do think this is a quality metal album. Confused? Well you might have guessed I rate his work very highly. And this is something much less spectacular, but still, in it´s style, it is done well. Though I feel that singer Juan Roos is not totally in place here, I am sure that anyone who likes his CD´s melodic and , ehrm, metal, will find this to his or her liking. I just am more fond of Henning doing his “normal” stuff, which is more progressive of nature. But it might be a good start when you want to check out the guy!

Personal play tips: take your pick…

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

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!)

Junk Farm, Didn´t Come To Dance, 2009

junk farm - didn´t come to danceThis is the second album from German trio Junk Farm. Released some 2 years after their debut , I was curious to find out how the band had developed.

First thing I noticed was the dropping of the “fusion trio from hell” monicker. And indeed, little fusion work outs this time. Alas, I really liked those on the debut. Music Police is the sole exception.
But what has stayed is the humor (see cover and song titles like Stalker, Lost By A Love Song  and Eurovision Song-incest), the ferocious grooves, the organ, the melodic singing with strong harmony vocals and the great guitar riffing and soloing.
New are the synthesiser solo´s here and there. At least in my humble opinion.  Nice touch with the acoustic guitar in song Where Are We Going To and the closing track as well.

So as a whole this album sounds more coherent as the debut, but I miss those fusion tracks a little. Nevertheless, if you like your music rocking, with melody and groove, check this band out. They are excellent!

Personal play tips: Didn´t Come To Dance, Still Not Dead, 10 Out Of 1, etc. .

Website

Junk Farm, Ugly Little Thing, 2007

junk farm - ugly little thingThis self proclaimed “fusion trio from hell” released this debut in 2007. Well I don´t know about the devil, but this is a tasty album for sure.

Built on drums, keys and guitars, but with vocals, this is a very accomplished band with a lot of humor. It takes guts to come up with this band name and CD title, but also the lyrics reflect this. But they don´t use humor to hide the fact that they are incapable, no way. What we have here is a band full of excellent ideas and the skills to rock, groove, shred, whatever.

Some tracks are mainly fusion on a rocky edge, others border more in crossover territory between metal and fusion. But melodies all around! Same goes to organ and solo´s. I suspect 6 stringer (and singer) Benjamin Schippritt grew up on metal and ranks Steve Vai among his influences. Due to the use of organ (Berthold Fehmer) and because of the grooves (courtesy of Michael Sticken) I think they like Niacin as well. But don´t get me wrong, I found this lot having their own sound and I totally enjoy this. And though German, very NOT your typical German Power Metal band. My compliments!

Personal play tips: An Eye For An Eye, Master-Sync, Strange Behaviour.

Website

Derek Sherinian, Molecular Heinosity, 2009

derek sherinian - molucar heinosityThis guy I found out about during his stay in Dream Theater. Live I thought he was a very funny dude, so when he released solo material, I was kinda curious what it would be like. Especially because of some of his friends joing in. In this case, guys like Zakk Wylde, Rusty Cooley, Virgil Donati, or Tony Franklin. His regular bassplayer is Rob Mules. Somehow reminds me of a famous Black Sabbath record…

Anyway, to the music. For people who heard his earlier material: you know what to expect! For those who haven´t: this is very classy, very clever, at times very complex material. Mostly instrumental, it´s a  kind of a metal approach to fusion. Having said that, I always find myself enjoying his records because of the quality of all the players involved. And somehow there is always enough groove and melody at hand to be able to connect to the songs. So at one hand I can understand when people say the records are not very different from each other. On the other hand, this is all done with such pleasure and dedication, it is always a joy to hear.

Personal play tips: Antartica, Primal Eleven, So Far Gone.

Website