Monday, December 31, 2012

JMSL-Elle M'aime review

Another unexpected 2012 gem, by 19-year old California artist Jay-Miss-Elle, otherwise known as JMSL, "Elle M'aime" is an interesting listen that excites the senses. 

Not only is the cover art for "Elle M'aime" fantastic, but the music is unbelievably mature.  Like so many other great records released this year, this music is difficult to categorize.  The best one can possibly do in most instances would be to call this a creative amalgam of avant-garde trip-hop, chillwave, and electronic ambient music.  Even that does not begin to describe what graces listeners' ears with this album.

"Elle M'aime" is a diverse listen that covers plenty of space and many different styles of music, but is mostly rooted in electronica.  The 13 track invoke numerous emotions, from lighthearted electro-pop, to dreary, down tempo chillwave that carries a certain vibe of trip-hop.  This is something you must hear to get a proper feel for what the music is like, and it takes several tracks to understand at that.

Each track is sparsely populated with trip-hop beats set across a canvas of emotional and atmospheric experimental ambiance.  JMSL's vocals are an electronically distorted array of interesting pop singing, carefully modified with exceptional digital effects that are at the same time out-of-this world and strikingly down to earth.  Though it is mostly impossible to understand the lyrics, the style of singing and vocal effects manage to convey the emotion behind the words succinctly. 

As I mentioned before, this was an unexpected discovery in a genre I rarely stray into.  It was also rewarding, keeping me interested throughout.  You really have to hear this record.  "Elle M'aime" is on offer as a name-your-price download from the JMSL bandcamp page, which also supplies us with the complete album stream.  Be sure to listen to a few tracks.  If you should feel inclined, please donate a few bucks to her cause, as she is a promising young artist who will hopefully offer many future releases to enjoy.  As always, thanks for reading and enjoy!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Sea Oleena-Sleeplessness (2011)

Whether or not music contains lyrics, it is as much a medium of artistic expression as literature, dance, or sculpture.  It is my opinion that artists should try new ideas and to push the limits of genre classification.  The harder it is to classify a certain artist, the more artistic that artist tends to be.

Sea Oleena (otherwise known as Charlotte Oleena) has released two LPs that are, in my opinion, as a whole greater than the sum of their parts.  What you hear is ambient distortion, cool electronic production and silken, bluesy vocals that serve as the staples of the music. 

Oleena, of Montreal, calls herself an ambient blues musician, and while these two styles would seem to clash, creating a disjointed listening experience, the two mesh much better than one could imagine.  The music she writes and performs is about organic visual perception as much as it is an outward expression of inward emotion. 

Contrary to most ambient music, "Sleeplessness" contains both memorable and recognizable melodies that manage to shine clear through a misty wash of electronic reverb.  As the term suggests, the ambient portion of the music supplies the beautiful, sparse atmospherics, while Oleena's gloomy vocals provide a spark of blues-oriented rhythm and a simple melody.  Even on a casual first listen, the music is difficult not to sing along to.  In its own way it is catchy, but at the same time honest and soulful.

The textures present in this music are varied and deep.  The visuals are breathtaking and the emotions true and serene.  In many ways this is an incredibly unique listen.  It stays in the head of the listener for hours after the short seven tracks have faded to silence, leaving one comtemplative and restless.  It is this quality of all else that makes this record a standout.

While this album is not patently new, it was a recent new discovery for me.  Sea Oleena is a criminally underrated artist that deserves support.  Through her bandcamp page, she is offering both "Sleeplessness" and her 2010 self-titled debut as name-your-price downloads.  There is no minimum, but if you have the means, please donate a few bucks to help keep her producing new music. 

If you like music with no boundaries, you will love both of Oleena's albums.  I enjoyed both of them very much and can whole-heartedly recommend them to you.  Check out the full stream of "Sleeplessness" courtesy of the Sea Oleena bandcamp page below.  As always, thanks for reading and enjoy!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

If These Trees Could Talk-Red Forest review

Greetings, readers and listeners!  We hope you have enjoyed the holiday, whether it be Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever other holiday you chose to commemorate.  If you don't celebrate any such holiday, then happy antipathy month!

Now that we're back from our mini vacation, it is time to review some more albums that I missed in 2012.  Today's color is from If These Trees Could Talk.  This is a newer Ohio band that is a promising talent in the post-rock genre.

"Red Forest" is in some ways a deviation on the standard post rock sound in that it fuses elements from both ambient and metal to create a unique sound that cannot be justly described by simply name-dropping other bands.  In some ways, "Red Forest" is similar to later works from Godspeed You! Black Emperor and in other ways comparable to Monochromie and Ana Never. 

With these release, ITTCT incorporate heavy low-end bass, off-kilter drum patters, and distorted, driving riffs into the usual looped and stretched guitar melodies and delicate atmospheric electronics.  This is a defining trait of this band.  Drawing influences from Pelican, ITTCT bring a brilliant wave of progressive metal riffing to the front of the mix.  This effect is neither drowned by nor overpowering to the post rock elements, which plays a fascinating role in defining the sound and emotion this band expresses. 

Throughout its nine tracks, "Red Forest" varies in both tempo and approach.  This content is what makes this album such a rewarding listen.  Don't ignore this album if you dislike metal, but also give it a listen if your musical tastes are not in tune with post rock.  This album is a non genre-specific listening experience and can be enjoyable to listeners who follow a variety of musical styles.  Check this album out via the full stream, courtesy of If These Trees Could Talk's bandcamp page.  Thanks for listening and enjoy!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Icarus the Owl-Love Always, Leviathan review

There comes a time in every music blogger's life when an album comes across that is difficult to review.  It is not necessarily that the words don't seem to flow like you want them to or even that the music is so diverse that it is difficult to describe sometimes.  Sometimes you really want to review an album and you really want to write a favorable review, but there is something blocking you from it.

Icarus the Owl is a young band from Portland, Oregon and has crafted an interesting, yet flawed album in "Love Always, Leviathan."  Musically, this disc toes the line between modern math rock and standard pop-punk.  Neither of these genres truly interest me because there are too many bands in these scenes that are mediocre at best.  Even the heavyweights such as newer Green Day are producing content heavy in radio-friendly vibes but sorely lacking in style.  Some bands add little to the genre, others add virtually nothing.

That said, I did find this album to be interesting enough to listen all the way through.  The cover art is what really reeled me in, but like a riptide between two gnarly waves, I found myself drawn away from what the real intent of the music seems to be.

Most of the tracks on this disc are standard-fare love songs set to a fast punk beat.  This style of math rock riffing combined with the usual punkish breakdowns give the album a decent amount of flair. The vocals, however satisfying in overall tone, at equally disappointing in that they are too one-dimensional to satiate most desires for melodic singing.  Yes, this is also a staple in modern pop-punk, but I find this style to be less than appealing. 

One thing this album does have going for it is a diverse array of tempos, beats, and guitar leads that propel listeners quickly through the thankfully short run-time.  The album's 12 tracks rarely overstay their welcome, although the last two tracks average seven minutes between the two of them.  This is very long for this style of music, but these tracks do offer a slightly wider palette of tastes and are somewhat more progressive than the rest of the tracks.

The one thing that I don't like is the vocals.  If the singer used more than one octave range and varied the delivery more often and perhaps even incorporated some screams, the disc would feel fuller and much more satisfying. 

All in all, "Love Always, Leviathan" is an above average album that should appeal to fans of Bowling for Soup and some of the latter works of Blink-182.  Listen to the full album stream below from Icarus the Owl's bandcamp page.  As always, thanks for reading and enjoy!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Celldweller-Wish Upon a Blackstar review

Also from the 'somehow we missed this' vat, Celldweller's new album is upon us.  We have mentioned this band here several times because many consider them to be the gold standard of electronic/synth rock. 

When you think Celldweller, think Blue Stahli.  Think I Will Never be the Same.  All of these artists share one thing in common--a propensity for thick, chunky, and groovy electronic rock tunes.  When listening to this album I almost thought it was too good for its own...good. 

Both undeniably glitchy and impossibly catchy, this album creates a fine balance between melancholic wandering, danceable grooves and fun electronic beats.  Not unlike the aforementioned bands, Celldweller uses distorted buzzing guitars in tandem with Reznor-esque singing with sparse screams. 

The one complaint I have with "Wish Upon a Blackstar" is that I feel it overstays its welcome by about 20 minutes.  The relentlessly catchy and singable tunes need a breather occasionally, but this album clocks in with a heft 16 tracks.  Some bands try so hard to create catchy tunes that they lose sight of the real purpose behind the music. 

This is a good album, but not in the same atmosphere as the latest I Will Never be the Same disc.  This music is fun to listen to but much like an amusement park, one can only take so much of it before they are ready for something else.  If you are in the mood for some poppy, dancy, groovy electronic synth rock music, then this album should fill the niche.  Don't take this disc too seriously or it will wear on you.  Just have fun with it.

Enjoy the full album stream via Celldweller's soundcloud page below.  As always, thanks for reading!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Skyharbor-Blinding White Noise review

Anyone who reads our blog on a regular basis probably knows that as a general rule, I don't do djent metal.  This is much less a rule than a guideline, so there are bound to be some exceptions.  Skyharbor's latest album is such an exception.

Here is why I am making an exception for this album: This disc is less djenty and 'core' than 99% of the scene bands in existence.  If you are unsure what a 'scene band' is, let me try to explain it in layman's terms.  A 'scene band' is a band whose music conforms rigidly to a set of stylistic standards within a certain sub genre, or 'scene'. 

While this album is certainly a metal album, it does not fall back on the metalcore crutch that many djent bands do and in fact includes syncopated djent riffs as merely a backing to the rest of the music, which in retrospect hardly sounds metal at all. 

The full title of this album is "Blinding White Noise: Illusion & Chaos".  It is essentially a two-part album where most of the tracks come with the Illusion prefix and the final three carrying the Chaos prefix.  The Illusion tracks are exceptional progressive-styled rock tunes that drift on auras of grandeur line thin, wispy clouds scooting across the sky.  Vocals on these tracks are surprisingly melodic, using vocal effects to stretch some notes.  These tracks are obviously meant to take on an illusory tone.

Conversely, the final three tracks, the Chaos tracks, are more up-front metal approaches, mixing in fewer of the stretched vocals and introducing screamed vocals for the first time.  These harsher vocals are carried out tastefully and do not invade the overall atmospheric content of the album as a whole, only further enhancing that atmospheric qualities. 

This is an album I somehow missed this year.  I certainly listened to fewer metal releases in 2012, and this one didn't even register until it showed up on a year-end best album list over at The NewReview.  The album cover alone convinced me to check it out, and I liked what I heard.  If you are into progressive metal and hard rock, you will enjoy this disc.  Listen to the full album stream from the Basick Records bandcamp page below.  This is a very good album.  To get a full taste of what this record has to offer, at least listen to one Illusion song and one Chaos song.  As always, thanks for reading and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

More new music: Soilwork and Honeyslide

New music two days in a row?  The interweb has suddenly become a busy place for new music.  Today we have two more excellent items we are excited about. 

First Soilwork is streaming a new track from their upcoming double album "The Living Infinite".  This track sounds like classic Soilwork, combining massive chugging riffs, complex drum patterns, including blast beats, and Bjorn 'Speed' Strid's powerful dual vocals.  This is a really heavy track.  It shows a lot of promise for this band.  Soilwork formed in the mid-1990s and has released nine studio albums including "The Living Infinite".  Their sound began to change and adapt with the release of "Stabbing the Drama" and more so on "Sworn to a Great Divide".  Their latest album, "The Panic Broadcast", was billed as a return to form and was their best album in years.  From what I've heard so far, the new record will be even better than the last.  I'm a fan of Soilwork, so I'll be checking this out when it is released.  Strid's switches back and forth from impressive clean vocals to snarling higher-register screams that are typical of the melodeath genre.  Check out the following track and then get yourself a neck brace to wear for the next two days.

I have been listening to Honeyslide's latest EP for the last fifteen minutes and have not been particularly impressed.  This record sounds like average old-school shoegaze choked with fuzzy guitar reverb.  However, this band just released a brand new single at soundcloud, and  it is anything but average.  Instead it is very different than their EP.  The new track is more harmonious, the reverb is cleaner and better-executed, and the track is soaked with sensational electronic ambiance.  This is worlds better than their EP.  When and if this British group releases a new album, one can hope that the entire disc is a reflection of the new track rather than the EP.  Listen to the new track below and you can see what I mean.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Monday, December 17, 2012

A boatload of new music, some free

Once in a while, we miss some interesting new music, letting it just pass us by, so occasionally we have to make some time to catch up on stuff we missed.  Today we have a lot of stuff like this to share with you. 

First, Above the Earth has a new self-titled EP out.  The cover art is at first enticing, then not all that interesting, then just plain bad.  Thankfully, this doesn't speak to the quality of the music.  Above the Earth is a difficult band to describe, as they blend elements of shoegaze, instrumental, progressive rock, and post-rock into an interesting fusion of excellent sounds.  This band features a guitarist from the Russian extreme metal band Kartikeya.  If you listen close enough, you can hear the tendencies of metal through spiralling guitar leads and solos that permeate several of the tracks.  This EP also features lovely female vocals.  Give the EP a listen below.

There is also a new track out from The Chromatics.  If you are not familiar with their work, you need to stop what you are doing right now and check them out.  One of their songs was used on the great ambient soundtrack to Drive.  This is dream-pop meets electronica that emits plenty of good vibes and singable melodies.  The new track is a cover of a Joy Division track.  You can listen to this track below.  Hit the link to the soundcloud page to download this track for free!

Third, a band called Magnets have released a new EP.  The band describes their music as heavy shoegaze, and this is a fitting title.  Classic shoegaze tendencies collide with heavy, crunchy, distorted riffs.  This is a different take on the shoegaze/metalgaze sub genre and it is plenty impressive.  The vocals are as vast as the oceans, leaving little to be desired.  Check out the stream from Magnets' bandcamp page below.

Last but not least, I have to give a mention to a new track from Gems.  Rarely do I describe pop music as great, but I was amazed by what I heard the first time I listened to this track.  Pop music is simply not my specialty, but I recognize good tunes when I hear them.  This track, entitled, All I Ever, is fantastic.  It is generally straight-up pop with some subtle dream-pop atmospherics thrown in, but with outstanding vocals.  The track is available for free download from Gems' soundcloud page, which you can link to from the player below.  Take a listen to this track and get it now!  Thanks for reading and enjoy!!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Snow Patrol-Fallen Empires (2011)

It is that time of year again, readers.  Tis the season when we sit drinking hot cocoa by the fire waiting for a mythical jolly man in a red suit to come and hope for something Jesus Christ never intended to on his birthday.  Oh, how life would be different if Christmas was still in April. 

It is no secret that I hate snow.  In that light, it is a good thing I live in a climate where it doesn't snow often and usually melts with a day or two.  I detest snow, but there is a band I enjoy called Snow Patrol.  I have just recently gotten a chance to listen to this Scottish band's latest album, released in 2011.  In short, this was a gem I wish I'd discovered a long time ago.

"Fallen Empires" signals a slight change in sound for the band, but they retain their alternative and indie rock roots while reaching toward a more radio-friendly style of sound by incorporating pop hooks with their exceptional melodies. 

The performance on the first half of this album is simply stunning.  The songs are catchy, hooky, and easy to sing to, repeating standard rock melodies through different lyrical lines.  Along with the pop rock choruses, the band also uses alternative instrumentation that involves the use of strings and looped electronic melodies.  Few bands can pull this off as easily as Snow Patrol can which makes "Fallen Empires" a very enjoyable listen. 

Though the second half of the 14-track disc lags with melodies that repeat way too often, there are a few notable ballad-styled gems, such as New York and Symphony. The real standout tracks, however I feel are the title track and a catchy little number entitled This isn't Everything You Are. 

If you like mainstream modern rock with alternative and indie vibes, you will enjoy this disc.  It is a great listen, even for someone like me (who normally steers decidedly away from mainstream musical genres).  Those standout tracks I noted above are embedded below.  Enjoy them and thanks so much for reading.  No go make some flowsnake snowflake doilies.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Rising Shadows-Finis Gloriae Mundi (2010)

Today we are reaching all the way back to 2010.  That was a particularly good year for music as numerous bands put out great new albums.  Somehow lost in the shuffle was an obscure Swedish band called Rising Shadows.

I was fond of this band's previous release, "Found in the Cold".  That was a surprising discovery for me, as I wasn't certain what the genre had in store, let alone the band.  I had been toying around some with this genre before discovering Rising Shadows, but with the genre in question, you really do have to listen to a few songs to get a feel for whether or not you will like it. 

What kind of music exactly does Rising Shadows record?  The easy answer would be neoclassical darkwave, but of course it is never that easy to describe a band.  Rising Shadows performs contemporary music that successfully blends the use of classical instrumentation with more modern approaches to Western classical music.

In addition to the varied instruments, vocals are a minimal mesh of Enya-like singing and alto arias.  This is a welcome addition to the music of Rising Shadows, but one that causes some concern.  These vocals are good, but not great.  When overused, they can become repetitive and boring.  Luckily, these vocals are minimal and less-pronounced. 

It is notable that Rising Shadows, as well as many other bands from this genre, employ the use of archaic percussion, which presents a medieval quality of sound when used in conjunction with the vocals.  This is where the music gets really interesting.  It is very understated and very different than most film scores, not to mention conventional neoclassical music. 

The result of all this innovation and rehashing of ancient techniques is an enjoyable listen that can also serve as a reprieve between listening to classical and more popular styles of music.  Neoclassical darkwave is a genre few bands dare to delve into because it is so risky.  To pull this off, a band has to have a love for music that goes far deeper than simply scanning the radio dial to discover new sounds. 

Rising Shadows is, in my opinion, one of the best neoclassical darkwave bands in existence.  Their melodies are easy to listen to but not so catchy that you find yourself humming it while working.  Indeed it is music you really have to listen to.  In that regard, you are in luck because we have the full stream via Rising Shadows' bandcampe page below.  This is a free download, so if you like it you have nothing to lose.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Insomnium-One for Sorrow review

Having a diverse collection of metal music in one's collection allows for differing moods and differing tastes.  By its nature, metal music is a diverse genre and is growing ever more diversified.  New bands toy with new sounds, sometimes to varying effects.  Some bands find their niche sound and stick with it.

Finnish band Insomnium are of the latter category.  This band has been around for a long time and have released many good albums.  "Across the Dark" was an eye-opener, and "One for Sorrow" continues in this vein. 

Stylistically, this album is doom metal at heart, using many different keyboard and guitar based melodies to create a sorrowful, melancholic sound that is just as angry as it is sad.  The band overlays this tendency with vicious growling vocals almost continuously, leaving little room for clean vocals.  When these clean vocals appear, they are incredibly tasteful while retaining their metal edge. 

"One for Sorrow" begins and ends with complex melodies and mid-tempo rhythms.  These tempos vary throughout the album without the usual associated extreme highs and lows, that dominate so much doom metal.  Even through the sorrow, Insomnium manage to create catchy grooves and beautiful melodies often enough to capture interest throughout the disc.  As expected, keyboards are a large part of the Insomnium sound, as are the low, growling vocals.  This music is easy to listen to for fans of metal.  It should appeal to fans of doom, melodic death metal, and progressive metal. 

Many bands compare to Insomnium, but Insomnium pioneered the perfect blend between chunky melodeath and over-the-top doom.  This record is very balanced and instantly catchy.  Give it a listen and you may be impressed.  If you are a fan of Insomnium or Be'lakor, pick this album up.  Having somewhat outgrown the melodeath genre, I was at first skeptical regarding whether I would like this new disc.  Now that I have listened to it in its entirety, I feel that it is very much worth recommending.  Thanks for listening and, as always, enjoy!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Free Downloads from Endless Melancholy and Blue Stahli

Here at ThinkMuzik, we love sharing brand new free music with our readers.  Call it a gift to our loyal fans, but there is little music better than free music. 

Today's first item is from Endless Melancholy, a solo musical project from the Ukraine.  This beautiful music is from the exceptionally talented fingers of Oleksii Sakevych.  Sakevych is not only talented, but is also self-taught.  This is incredibly impressive for an artist with no formal musical training.  Endless Melancholy, as the name implies, is a down tempo instrumental ambient project, from which the music is played mostly on keyboards with some slight atmospheric ambient nuances to add just the right amount of taste.  Drawing the line between instrumental post-rock and down tempo ambient music is a feat many artists have attempted, but where few have succeeded with such masterful results.  This music is sad and dreary, but oddly uplifting the way a single ray of light in a dark room can lift spirits and enrich outlooks.  For ambient music, this album is surprisingly not all that challenging a listen.  All it takes to enjoy it is an open mind and a willingness to take chances.  The last part of that statement is an easy undertaking, because Sakevych is offering his new album, "Before, After" as a name-your-price download from the Endless Melancholy bandcamp page, which is also where we are getting our full album stream from.  Check it out below.  If you feel inclined and don't hate PayPal, please donate a few bucks.  It will be worth it.

Our second item is a brilliant new single from Blue Stahli.  It is called Atom Smasher, and is downloadable from Soundcloud for absolutely free.  This single is classic Blue Stahli, as electronically distorted guitars clash with punchy samples at an alarming rate.  Blue Stahli is also affiliated the electronic rock project Celldweller.  Contrary to most Blue Stahli tunes, this new track is entirely free of vocals.  Sadly, it is criminally short, clocking in a just over two minutes.  Call it a teaser for a new album, which it sounds like will be entitled "Antisleep Vol. 3".  Check out the new track below!  Thanks for listening and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pulsar Wind Nebula-Sewn Dystopias (2011)

It takes a special kind of musical taste to enjoy ambient music.  It is a style of music that is varied and often misunderstood.  Ambient music splits into two major sub genres called electronic and drone.  It can be a difficult genre to get into due to the almost exclusive down-tempo nature of the music. 

Without giving you the lecture on the ins and outs of ambient music (I am certainly no expert), let me briefly talk about the music of Pulsar Wind Nebula.  This artists has perhaps the coolest name in all of ambient electronica.  I'm a huge space nut, so I geek out when a band or artist chooses to name themselves after something spacey.  Now I need to go read up on exactly what a Pulsar Wind Nebula is. 

This artist does not stray much from what the name implies.  The music is slow, spaced-out and introspective.  It incorporates lush instrumentals along with beautiful melodies and atmospheres.  This album uses odd time signatures with some super funky electronic beats and samples to create an out-of-this-world aura.  The melodies are surprisingly simple and easy to indulge, bringing to mind some post-rock qualities.

Somewhere lost in the mix are sparse, low register spoken-word vocals and understated strings that at times remind one of film music.  Upon Listening to "Sewn Dystopias" for the first time, I was reminded of some of the spooky undertones present in Mist Glider's latest effort. 

This was an impressive listening experience, but I feel a word of warning has to accompany this review.  This, like most ambient music, can be physically tiring on the senses due to the relaxing calm the music induces.  It is also quiet, so it doesn't make good driving music.  I found it to be really good, but ease in and out of it and listen in moderation.  This album helps in that it is quite short for a down tempo album.  Information on this band's origins are sparse, but going off the artist's bandcamp page (which provides us with our stream below) you will see that this artists is from Izmir, Turkey.  This makes the first artists in my library from Turkey. 

Another good thing about this album: It is available as a name-your-price download from bandcamp.  Just enter any dollar amount (including 0 if you so choose) and you can download it instantly.  Pulsar Wind Nebula also has another album there entitled "2", which is also available via the 'name your price' option. 

I recommend June, Miss You, and Wind Chill Factor as standout tracks on this disc.  You can check out the entire album stream below.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Top 12 albums of 2012 Numbers 3-1

The best three albums of the year.  We have made it, ladies and gentlemen.  The year 2012 in music has been a good one, jammed with great release after great release.  The last thing I want to do by picking favorites is to make some artists we have talked about here feel left out or inadequate.  It has been a difficult task to pick just 12 albums, so after the music, I'm going to write a special 'honorable mention' section to note all the artists who have crafted brilliant music that didn't quite make our top 12 list.  At any rate, these bands should feel honored.  So, without further ado, the top three albums released in 2012 are as follows:

3. Lacuna Coil-Dark Adrenaline.  We have raved about this band more than once here in the past.  This was a strong inclusion due to the impeccable vocal nature of this band.  Switching back and forth from male to female vocals like a duet can be difficult and most bands do not attempt this.  Lacuna Coil not only attempt, but deliver in spades.  The music is dark, but uplifting.  Most term them as a gothic metal group, but this band continuously pumps out high-voltage hard rock tunes that are remarkably well-produced.  Not many music embeds are available for this release, so we have included the band's official music video for Trip the Darkness.  It is incredibly catchy and has excellent riffs and keys that should make many metal fans feel right at home.  Even if you are not a metal lover, you might enjoy "Dark Adrenaline"

2. Hammock-Departure Songs.  Double albums for some reason rarely make end of year lists in general.  Hammock is a delightful exception to this unwritten rule.  This Nashville post-rock band has released several good albums, but "Departure Songs" is their best effort yet.  Stretched out melodies intertwine with atmospheric ambiance and warm textures of dreamy pop.  If you listen to only one post-rock album all year, make it "Departure Songs".  This album delivers tons of amazing melodies and even insert gorgeous pop-like vocals on some songs. Below is one such track.  If you like post-rock, you will certainly enjoy Hammock's best release to date.

1. [Insert drummroll here] Syqem-Reflections of Elephants.  No one saw this coming.  This album came as a surprise.  Progressive Metal may be hit-or-miss with many fans, but for me, this was a huge hit.  A blog I read posted about this amazing album, and from the first couple riffs and vocal lines I was hooked.  Mostly clean vocals are the highlight of this disc, but it includes so much more than good vocals.  Atmospheric harmonies sneak around behind a tapestry of humongous metal riffs and flourishes of electronic sounds that are not based on samples.  This band may be somewhat similar to Deadlock, but without the typical metal screaming.  "Reflections of Elephants" is an exceedingly fun listen and is definitely worthy of its number one ranking.  Check out the track below, which provides just a glimpse of the jaw-dropping music on display.

The year 2012 also marked plenty of other excellent albums and EPs by various artists.  In no particular order, here they are:
Be'lakor, Epica, Tamaryn, The Luna Sequence, I Will Never be the Same, Ulrich Schnauss & Mark Peters, Delain, 2:54, Monochromie, Bloody Knives, Barren Earth, Drowner, The Agonist, Devin Townsend Project, Joy Wants Eternity, Craft Spells, Inner Trip, Airiel, Gojira, Xandria, Abigail, Causemos, Arundel, Asidefromaday, Beliefs, Cloud, Decortica, Dysrhytmia, Endless Melancholy, FPRF, Glass Vaults, Handlingnoise, Hans Zimmer, Hazy Mountains, Helios, Insomnium, Jack Trammell, Kevin Hufnagel, the Mark Lanegan Band, Mile End, Black Marble, Matchbox Twenty, Mist Glider, Moonshine Blues, Nick Efremov, A Place of Owls, Pulsar Wind Nebula, SkyPilot, Spc-Eco, Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek, & Reinhold Heil, the Townhouses.

Thank you so much for reading and enjoy these wonderful selections!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Top 12 Albums of 2012 Numbers 6-4

Part three of my four-part series on what I feel were the 12 best albums released in 2012 is today's post.  Many great full-length albums were released this year, which made choosing only 12 for this list a chore.  It has been an exceptionally fun chore so far.  If you have been following this series, you will know that I have detailed seven remarkable albums already.  We have three more for your listening pleasure today.

6. Mono-For my Parents.  This Japanese post-rock group flies under the radar for the most part, even amongst post-rock circles.  With "For my Parents" they have released an instant classic.  This album straddles the line between post-rock ambiance and orchestra in a way few other bands can manage.  From start to finish, this album certainly sounds like it could be a film soundtrack, all while retaining classic post-rock atmospheres and complex, looping melodies.  Mono is in my opinion one of the best post-rock bands in the world.  "For my Parents" is as good as it gets.  It doesn't get stale with repeated listens and sticks with the listener long after the exceptional play-length has run its course.  This is simply an album you have to hear.  Check out the track below.

5. Anathema-Weather Systems.  Progressive rock is truly a wide world of unusual-sounding music that follows few standards as far as song construction and melody goes.  Anathema has been around for a lot longer than one might think, having started out in metal with their first release.  "Weather Systems" shows a lighter tone, flush with dreamy melodies, atmospheres, and progressive brilliance.  Most tracks are light progressive rock wrapped around introspective pianos and soulful acoustic plucking.  The vocals are astounding, providing an even deeper layer of beautiful melody and emotion.  You don't have to be a fan of progressive music to enjoy this release.  That is the beauty of it.  This music should appeal to a wide and diverse range of musical tastes.  It was difficult to decide on the right track to share with you, but I have chosen this one.  Listen to it below.

4. Silversun Pickups-Neck of the Woods.  This was a highly anticipated release that was a very rewarding listen.  Upon listening to the first track, any and all concerns over the quality of the music were swiftly washed away.  "Neck of the Woods" is an alternative masterpiece, condensing head-nodding rhythms and subtle atmospheric nuances into a well-rounded indie-alternative rock sound.  It is unfair how often this band is compared to Smashing Pumpkins.  This is mostly due to the vocal work, which sounds better and better each time you listen to it, whereas Billy Corgan's vocals became nasally annoying far too often.  Most tracks begin with slower tempos and build toward a climax while incorporating acoustic passages and profound shoegazing moments.  Silversun Pickups is a difficult band to classify under any single genre, and that is what makes the music so remarkable.  This is an outstanding, hooky alternative release that is as memorable as any other.  Since we have already shown you the fantastic lead single, Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings), here is another standout track.  Thank you for reading and enjoy!!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Free downloads from Skypilot and Arundel

Today's post is a randomness and a free music post.  To explain how this happened, let me start by saying I had never heard of either of these artists.  I was looking for Snow Patrol on bandcamp, and no I did not find a page pertaining to them.  What I found instead was a new EP by an Australian indie rock outfit called Skypilot.  The cover art was interesting and I had time, so I decided to listen to a couple of tracks. 

Skypilot crafts a similar sound to Snow Patrol with a more subtle approach to atmospheres and catchy melodies.  If you are familiar with the music of Snow Patrol, this requires no further explanation.  Skypilot adds atmospheric production and some electronic nuances to their indie rock sound, but stays shy of full-blown electronica sounds.  Much of the music is guitar and drum driven, owing to the somewhat more mainstream style of sound the band produces.  I still count myself in the 'interested' category to this band, as well as Snow Patrol.  I have not heard everything they have done, but if Skypilot's debut EP is indicative of how they will sound, I will definitely be looking for their next release.  Check out the full stream from the Skypilot bandcamp page below.  This is a 'name your price' download with no minimum.  Skypilot asks you to donate $7.00 or so if you can, but it is not mandatory. 

After browsing Skypilot's page, I discovered that Skypilot's singer is involved in another project called Arundel.  Arundel does not really deliver a similar product to Skypilot.  Their new EP is a very diverse and eclectic listening experience.  The cover art for this EP was the first thing that caught my eye.  Arundel's sound ranges, depending on what track you are listening to, from simple harmonic ambiance to funky indie pop, to groovy nu-jazz and trip hop.  This is an interesting listen, because the first track does not prepare you for what the second track will bring, nor does the third track pose any similarities to the second.  Some of these tracks are duet-styled pop and soul singing that is exceptionally well-rounded.  It is something you have to hear to believe.  Arundel also hopes you will donate some cash to their dream of making it big, but they are totally fine should you decide not to offer a small donation.  PayPal and I hate each other, so I was not able to contribute.  Check out the bandcamp stream of Arundel's new EP below.

Tomorrow I will be back to my top 12 albums of 2012 with three more fantastic releases in numbers 6-4.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Top 12 Albums of 2012 Numbers 9-7

We continue today with our series on the best albums released in 2012, regardless of genre.  The rules are simple: That I select what I feel are the 12 best full-length albums released in 2012.  Yesterday we featured the outstanding new works from Sybreed, Between the Buried and Me, and Katatonia.  Today is an even more eclectic mix.

9. Two Steps from Hell-SkyWorld.  This was a close one.  In the preliminaries, the latest album from Ulrich Schnauss & Mark Peters was in this slot, but upon hearing the brand new public album by Two Steps from Hell, I was compelled to move them into this slot instead and reward Ulrich Schnauss and Mark Peters an honorable mention.  "SkyWorld" is a 22-track epic orchestral masterpiece chock-full of orchestral and choral ensembles including electronic samples and percussion sections.  This is trailer music, in that it sounds just like something you would hear in a movie trailer or a film soundtrack.  In short, if you are a fan of film scores, you will definitely dig this new album.  Check out another track from "SkyWorld" below.  We have previously raved about this album before, so check our older posts for a full review.

8. Dead Can Dance-Anastasis.  I have never really paid much attention to world music, but this one shook me to wake me up to the world of world music.  This Australian duo began writing intriguing new wave and world music in the 10980s.  "Anastasis" is their first album in over 16 years, so it was long in the making and hugely anticipated.  It lived up to the hype by combining eastern and African drum and percussion sections with orchestral synths and fantastic male vocals.  This is a difficult album to beat for any producer of world music and should be a standard in the genre for years to come.  Take a listen to the track below and enjoy!

8. Alcest-Les Voyages De L'Ame.  I have always been a big follower of metal.  I believed Alcest to be an average black metal band before I gave their sound a chance with their newest release, which came out earlier this year.  This French band showcase an impressive range of sound, melding mind-bending atmospheres and looping live instruments atop metal and post rock drumming and clear, stretching vocal lines.  Many consider this band to be a "blackened shoegaze" or "metalgaze" band, but this terminology doesn't quite describe the mood and energy present in this release.  In reality there is very little metal to be heard in this album and plenty of introspective shoegazing to go around.  Enjoy an amazing track from the newest Alcest album below.  As always, thanks for reading!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Coheed and Cambria-The Aftermath: Ascension

Today we have a guest post for you, courtesy of our friend and fellow blogger, Marin Sabin.  Visit his blog at and find some great metal music.

Hello all,
Today’s album review is the latest effort by Coheed & Cambria titled The Aftermath: Ascension which was released on October 9, 2012. In case you are not aware on this wonderful band, here is some background from a previous blog I wrote on the band

            Coheed and Cambria is an American band from Nyack, New York that formed in 1995. They are truly one of the great contemporary bands that consistently release great music. One problem: Coheed and Cambria doesn't quite fit into any one genre, they could be included in heavy metal, progressive rock, post rock, and alternative rock. Their sound is like if Rush met Pink Floyd, and then mated with Iron Maiden. The driving forces behind the band are lead singer and guitarist Claudio Sanchez and lead guitarist Travis Stever. All of their albums are concepts based on an original tale called The Armory Wars with each album progressing the story further. Their album, Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume 1: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness is one of the best albums that I have ever heard.

Their latest album follows the story line of the Armory Wars, and is their best album since Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume 1: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness. This latest release may be in the running for best album of the year. From the beginning to end, there isn’t a more complete album with the highlight of the album being “The Key Entity Extraction, I-IV” and “Mothers of Men.”

I would highly recommend that everybody go out and purchase this album. You will not be disappointed.

Here are a few of the tracks that I enjoy from the album.

First, "Key Entity Extraction II: Holly Wood the Cracked" 

Second, “ Key Entity Extraction III: Vic the Butcher”

Finally, “Mothers of Men”

I hope that you have enjoyed my guest spot,

Marty Sabin

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Top 12 albums of 2012: Numbers 12-10

Picking the top albums of any year can be a tricky business, especially when you don't ascribe to any one genre of music.  Literally thousands of new albums are released every year, and from such a large pool, every list will be very different.  The following few posts will be my picks for the top 12 albums of 2012.  I will pick the very best of each full-length album I have heard (in my opinion) and briefly review it here, as well as embed players of a select song from each album.  This is a fun activity both to write about and to read about.  So, without further ado, here are numbers 12 through 10 on my end-of-year list.

12. Sybreed-God is an Automaton.  Sybreed has, over the years, crafted a unique sound the embodies elements from both extreme metal and new wave music.  This new genre is dubbed 'deathwave'.  Vocals switch between uplifting and soaring clean vocals to vicious screams amid chugging metal riffing, blast beats, and near constant synths to give the music a powerful, epic vibe.  Sybreed has released three full-length albums, and this is their best effort yet.  The music sounds dark and is extremely riveting.  The eye-catching cover art was created by Seth Siro Anton of Septicflesh, who has a distinctive style.  Check out the track I have selected below.  This illustrates what Sybreed is all about in my opinion.

11. Between the Buried and Me-The Parallax II:Future Sequence.  This full-length album is a follow-up to the band's previous EP, "The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogs".  This disc is a progressive behemoth that is flush with energy and emotion.  From face-ripping roars to melodic cleans, the vocals are as good as any progressive metal band.  The energy of the music is powerful progressive metal with death-like leanings and peaceful melodic passages.  Upon listening to the song below, you should understand why this album made my year-end list.  It was highly anticipated from the get-go and did not disappoint.

10. Katatonia-Dead end Kings.  Katatonia has roots in mostly solemn, doom metal.  The new dist presents these elements of doom and mixes them with more refined progressive rock tendencies.  This album is fantastic from start to finish and does not contain a single poor track,  Each song is rich with melancholic melody and strong baritone vocals unlike any other band.  This Swedish band knows how to make high-grade music that toes the line between genres.  The track below is indicative of the entire record's sound.  You will be hooked. 

Thanks for reading, everyone and stay tuned for part two of my list coming tomorrow!

Monday, December 3, 2012

New tunes from Jessica Bailiff and Mutiny Within

Today's new music post is going to cover two completely different artists, both of which just happen to have new material either already released or in the pipeline. 

When one thinks of solo shoegaze artists, he or she needs only to reference Jessica Bailiff.  Bailiff released her new album "At the Down-Turned Jagged Rim of the Sky" a few months ago.  This release not only caught her fans by surprise, but her record label as well.  Bailiff has a low, melancholic voice on this song, which helps to define the music as hers, as opposed to Tamaryn.  This song is similar in style to Tamaryn in that it incorporates looping reverb passages throughout its lower tempo.  It is pretty repetitive, but this does not have a chance to get old, as the song is less than four minutes long.  This is an interesting track to say the least, and the cover art is outstanding!  Check out Take Me to the Sun (So Warm, So Ready) below.

Mutiny Within is, at first glance, nothing more than another American metalcore outfit, but this label is ingenuous at best.  Atypical of most metalcore in that it uses mostly clean vocals with a few accentual screams, this is a good track that shows decent growth from the band's previous releases.  Mutiny Within has a new record called "Synchronicity" coming soon, and this track debuted just the other day at The NewReview.  While the NewReview page has apparently been taken down, the soundcloud link still exists.  Unfortunately this track does not have an embed option.  To listen to the new track, Embers, go here.  Sorry for the brief nature of this post.  We will return with more substance tomorrow.  Until then, thanks for reading, and as always, enjoy!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Dysrhythmia-Test of Submission review

Recent and current college students will know what it is like to cram for an important exam only to stumble upon material they have not previously studied for.  No matter how much you try to absorb this material, it feels strange and foreign, and you hope it doesn't actually show up on the test.

Dysrhythmia's most recent album is a similar test for listeners.  Indeed it takes an unusually varied and advanced musical taste to appreciate the work of Dysrhythmia.  It is challenging music to listen to, perhaps more challenging than spelling the band's name.

This is a Philadelphia-based instrumental metal band with the ever-talented Kevin Hufnagel at the helm.  Hufnagel self-releases experimental and ambient solo albums occasionally, and much of the work on those discs is riveting guitar-based music.  Hufnagel is also a guitarist for technical death metal group Gorguts. 

Dysrhythmia plays an uncommon style of instrumental music that is influenced by guitar jazz-fusion and technical math metal.  They notes so numerous into their average six-minute track, that it is difficult to get a handle on any certain melody or pattern.  To many, this playing style will sound like pure noise.  To the more trained and refined ears, the music sounds like a a sonic wash of textures and emotions somehow impossible to put into words.  This is the beauty of music in general, and
Dysrhythmia captures that essence in spades.

Throughout this eight-track album, both the tension behind the riffing and drumming changes to dictate the shifting tempo of the music.  With this style of metal, vocals are an unnecessary albatross to the progression of the music, only serving to hamper the feeling it displays.  This band is similar to Animals as Leaders, but with a less prevalent leaning towards jazz-fusion passages.  The focus of this music is obviously Hufnagel's guitar wizardly, complete with otherworldly leads and furious shredding alongside complex metal drumming. 

The purpose of the drumming and the shredding is not to produce rhythm, but to shun it.  In this regard, the band's name is a perfect reflection on the style of music they play. 

I was neither impressed nor disappointed in this disc.  It was a good listen that will certainly earn it a regular place in the rotation, but not something I would listen to over and over again.  If you are in the market for an unusual listening experience bordering between metal insanity and jazz-fusion textures, then there is a good chance you will like this disc.  If you are a fan of Animals as Leaders, check this out.  We've got the full album stream via soundcloud here for you today.  Sorry that we could not find an embed.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Luna Sequence-This is Bloodlust review

It is no secret by now that we dig electronic music here at ThinkMuzik.  Many artists and bands shun electronica music for the fact that an artist doesn't need to know how to play an instrument to succeed at making electronic music.  This is sad because, especially in this computer era, electronic instruments and devices can be used to make extraordinary music.  The melodies produced this way simply cannot be matched by any live instrument.  In that regard, live instruments are no better than computers, and vice-versa. 

Citing major influences Celldweller and Blue Stahli, American artist The Luna Sequence produce electronic, synth-laden rock-based music that is nothing short of breathtaking.  The Luna Sequence uses live drums and the occasional computer-modified guitar chord, but offsets that with samples, melodic keyboard synths, and switchboard tinkering.  The sound achieved through this process is much like the aforementioned Blue Stahli, but lighter, more dynamic, and vocal-free.  The tempo of the music is sometimes strong like a rock anthem and sometimes slower, similar to electronic ambient music. 

I have raved about this band here before.  The Luna Sequence is, in my opinion, one of the best electronica artists around.  The production quality is astounding, as every note and every sample can be heard clearly.  This music is also varied in that a casual listener can listen to the disc back to front three times straight and not get bored with it. As a matter of fact, each time I listen to it, the sound impresses me more and more.  This is hard to do.

Even if you are not a true fan of electronica music, The Luna Sequence offers something many can enjoy.  Fans of modern rock, symphonic/synth rock, metal, and pop could conceivably become fans.  "This is Bloodlust" is that good an album.  Check out the full album stream via The Luna Sequence's bandcamp page below.  Thanks for listening and, as always, enjoy!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Amorphis-The Beginning of Times (2011)

Today I am looking at an album that I gave a lukewarm reception to immediately upon its release.  This album is the latest by Finnish band Amorphis. 

Amorphis formed in 1990 and has since slowly changed sound style.  I was a big fan of the band from their previous releases, "Eclipse" and "Skyforger".  When I first heard back in 2011 that Amorphis would be releasing a new album, I was excited.  After I heard the first track released my excitement was dimmed.  I still have not purchased their latest record, "The Beginning of Times," but decided today that I would give it the closer look it deserves.

Often compared to Opeth, Amorphis plays strongly melodic metal leaning to the progressive end of the spectrum.  The sound is chunky and somewhat rooted in Finnish folklore, with driving lead guitars dueling ahead of the heavy riffing.  This style is indicative of much of Amorphis' latest work.  What really defines this band, however, is the vocal work of Tomi Joutsen.  Joutsen performs all of the band's vocals, flawlessly shifting from uplifting clean singing to guttural roars.  Few metal vocalists can pull off this feat as well as Joutsen. 

The two songs I have heard from "The Beginning of Times" contrast.  You I Need focuses on more somber, reflective material, whereas My Enemy starts off with deep growls before shifting into the glorious cleans.  Both songs are progressive and memorably melodic.  This is a disc I may add to my ever-growing list of albums to purchase.  It somehow slipped through the cracks in 2011, but Amorphis is still perhaps one of the best metal bands to ever originate from Finland, and this is a country that churns out high numbers of metal bands per capita

If you are into metal with progressive and melodic roots, you may want to check out Amorphis if you have not yet.  Here are the two tracks I have heard.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Free Downloads from Handlingnoise and FPRF

You've heard the saying that the best things in life are free.  If you have not--well, you just did.  There is no downside to downloading albums that come with a price tag of free.  And we like to unearth these gems just for you.  Once in a while we find free stuff we just have to share.  Call it one of our irregular features here at ThinkMuzik. 

We'll start with the new self-titled debut from Finland's Handlingnoise.  This is an eclectic styled band that produces ambient post-rock music flush with noise and occasionally pounding percussion.  Post-rock is a genre of music that can be played numerous ways.  In this regard, it can be much like contemporary music as far as composition construction goes.  Handlingnoise blends beautiful and harmonious post-rock ambiance with startling noise and heavy percussion.  It is a delight to listen to.  The best thing about it, of course, is that it is downloadable for free from Handlingnoise's bandcamp page.  It is a name-your-price download, so if you should choose to toss a few bucks the band's way, they would greatly appreciate it.  I would have done so, but PayPal and I do not get along.  Check out a new the album below!

Our second item of pricelessness comes from FPRF.  This is a four-piece musical project out of Russia.  They perform progressive rock tunes with a strong leaning towards post-rock, shoegaze, and electronics.  The compositions form a delicate balance between these styles of music.  This combination works exceptionally well, never creating obvious transition points that turn off listeners.  It is exciting to find new bands not afraid to take chances on the music they are passionate about.  There is no doubt about the passion behind FPRF's music.  To download this album for free, go this website and click the highlighted 'free' link in the text.  This is a safe download, so don't hesitate.  Check out the full stream of the album via FPRF's bandcamp page below.  Thank you for listening and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hazy Mountains-Breeze review

Not all electronic music is created equally.  The first thing a casual listener should understand is that there are several different styles of electronica music, ranging from shoegaze to downtempo chillwave jazz, to house, dubstep, EDM, and so on.  These sub genre tags are somewhat *hazy at best, so it is important to listen to a producer or artist before buying so that you know what you are going to get.  That is one of the great things about blogs.

German producer Julian Prott, also known as Hazy Mountains, has just released a new full-length album entitled "Breeze".  This effort is a follow up to the EP "Lapiz Lazuli".  It is an excellent listen, showing massive improvement from the aforementioned EP.  This is not to say that "Lapiz Lazuli" was bad--in fact I found it impressive.  "Breeze" presents a fuller sound with harmonized samples and electronic noise against an ambient backdrop of atmospheric reverb. 

Distorted and sometimes layered female vocals find their way into the mix from time to time, yet are brief enough to allow the music itself to breathe.  "Breeze" also shows a strong progression toward a more chillwave-oriented sound with low-tuned grooves and consistent drum beats.  Behind the noise, beats and samples lies a well-rounded ambient disc that is packed with more atmosphere than many post rock artists dare to incorporate.  This sound is much more layered, deeper, and more interesting than "Lapiz Lazuli".

If you are in the market for ambient downtempo electronica, picking up this disc is essential.  This is an excellent listen worth of the five Euro download price (via bandcamp, which uses a PayPal setup).  The entire album is streamed below, courtesy of the Hazy Mountains bandcamp page.  Thank you for reading and enjoy!

Monday, November 26, 2012

In Flames-Sounds of a Playground Fading (2011)

In Flames is one of those metal bands that has all but completely abandoned their extreme metal roots, opting instead for a more polished, mainstream sound.  This has been done to varying results, and gradually.  Over their 23-year history and 10 solid studio albums, one thing In Flames hasn't done is create the same album twice.  Since "Reroute to Remain" especially, the band has slowly adapted their sound to a more alternative metal approach rather than the harsh screams and chunky death metal riffing that defined their earlier records.

"A Sense of Purpose" was, by most accounts, and utter disappointment where the band fails to deliver anything of significant substance.  It was this record that caused me to stray from the In Flames bandwagon when before I was a staunch supporter of the band.  I am fond of several of this band's latter albums, so I am not one of those who will only listen to the band's earlier albums.  As a matter of fact, I much prefer the newer records.

This change of sound has both polarized long-time fans of the band and earned them numerous new followers. 

Where "A Sense of Purpose" failed, "Sounds of a Playground Fading" excels.  I never did purchase this latest album, but it is on the list.  This album sounds as fresh as is possible for a band that has been churning out metal records since their debut album in 1991. 

This album shows the band progressing nicely.  This record knows what it is and does not try to stray to unfamiliar regions just to appease the older fan base.  This is very much an alternative metal album that is much more mainstream than its predecessors.  I have not listened to the entire disc, so I cannot give a perspective on the album as a whole.  What I have heard, however, is two tracks worth hearing.  When these tracks begin, you know you are listening to In Flames.  However this album is a digression from their latest records.  Instead of showing a slight return to roots, the band have grown further towards the mainstream spectrum.  Instead of disappointment, this album delivers a a more passionate approach to metal, which makes it a more rewarding listening experience.  I have heard three songs from the "Sounds of a Playground Fading" are both quality productions that should earn the band even more followers. 

If you are fan of In Flames, old style or new, it will be worth your while to check this album out.  Below are two tracks, Deliver Us and Where the Dead Ships Dwell.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Brand X Music and Jack Trammell

Good afternoon, readers.  Today's post is going to be similar to our randomness posts where we take new music we have not heard before and give it a quick review.  Today I am going to review two artists whom I have heard before, in a sense.

I first discovered Brand X Music and Jack Trammell when I was listening to Two Steps from Hell and other similar music.  Both of these artists produce epic trailer music.

Let's start with Brand X.  I first noticed the cover of this artists' new public album on Amazon and decided that, based on how much I was digging Two Steps from Hell, I might enjoy Brand X.  I was right.  Brand X is indeed similar, but differs in small ways.  Most compositions on this album, "The Best of Brand X Music", are short epic pieces ranging from sullen and serene emotions to loud, complex and heavy pieces incorporating drums and highly distorted electric guitar.  This diversity shows on the album's first track and carries on throughout a spectacular landscape covering 23 tracks.  The production quality is exceptional and the compositional competency of the writers is breathtaking.  Take a chance on Brand X below.

Continuing on the similar vein of trailer music, we'll take a look at Jack Trammell's new disc, "Pillars of Creation".  The album cover seems to convey a dark, spacey feel to the music, which I think fits accurately.  Similar to Brand X in style, Trammell uses powerful string melodies mixed with distorted electric guitars and drums to bring a hard rock and metal feel to the music, all while maintaining the epic grandeur that defines trailer music as a genre.  Trammell uses vocals sparingly to highlight the contours of the complex melodies and punchy rock rhythms.  Check out the following track from a TV spot for Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2.  Below.  Thank you for reading and enjoy!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Griseus-Aquilus reveiw

Rarely do I find music I find interesting enough to share at No Clean Singing.  I still like that website for the off chance that I will find some entertaining metal, but those moments are growing fewer and further between.  Those of you who know me (or if you haven't guessed yet) know that I'm not fond of 'generic' music at all.  By 'generic' I do not mean that it sounds just like someone else or even dozens of other acts.  What I mean by 'generic' is that it simply conforms too much to the standards of the genre which they choose to perform.  These guidelines get to be much too rigid for too many bands.  And while NCS does cover a wide range of metal, most of it of the extreme category, too much of it is dull and uninteresting in my opinion.

Griseus is a one-man Aussie alternative metal act by Howard "Waldorf" Rosenqvist.  The genre they most associate with is darkened neoclassical folk, whatever that is. 

When I first saw the album cover for "Aquilus", I shrugged, thinking that this was just another black metal band.  Still, I read the review.  And when I did, I was interested enough to listen.  Dabbling equally in post-romanticism, folksy acoustical moments, and atmospheric extreme metal, Griseus manages to convey many different emotions in several styles of music that mesh surprisingly well.

This disc is not your standard fare for symphonic metal.  Most pieces are long, orchestral works with wailing electric guitars and loudly shrieked vocals, which creates a dark and unusually harmonic sound.  This is an album you must hear to believe.  There is no operatic singing, and the metal aspect is less pronounced than you might expect.  This is both a disturbing and memorably beautiful listening experience.  If you do not like extreme vocals at all, there is a chance you won't like this.  However, the vocals are mostly highlights rather than constant roars and shredding howls. 

This record is very unlike anything I have heard.  This project is nothing like SepticFlesh or Mechina or Epica.  It is a beautiful work that stands on its own.  Even if you do not normally listen to music you have never heard before, this might be worth your while. 

For your listening pleasure, the entire album stream, courtesy of Griseus' bandcame page, is below.  Enjoy and let us know what you think.  As always, thanks for reading!