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!