Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Two straight metal album reviews. I know, we don't like metal that much here, but it so happened that three bands we do like released new albums on the same day. And there is a bunch more metal in the pipeline, though most of it won't be released for a while.
Today's review is the third most anticipated music release from March 5, 2013: The new album from Germany's Neaera. Like Soilwork yesterday, Neaera is a band with their own established identity, however much less known than Soilwork. This band actually plays a somewhat similar style of metal to Soilwork, but nastier and more extreme.
Neaera's forte is a bruising gallop of chugging riffs, pummelling drums, and guitar leads swirling beneath the surface. Neaera are certainly masters of crafting songs that make listeners want to throw up their horns and bang their heads. The riffs and drums are punchy and create an impressive and crunchy groove that makes heads spin. Bubbling beneath the considerably heavy surface in most songs are snaky guitar leads that lend atmosphere and melody to the meat. Most bands resort to keyboards to achieve this end, but Neaera is different from the rest.
What sets this band apart is the vocal style. One second the singer emits throat-shredding shrieks, while the next he bursts forth with impressive belows that fall somewhere below the bass register. He switches back and forth from these styles effortlessly while also mixing in higher-range old school metal screams. Very rarely does this band give in to using clean singing, and even when they do, its is more like an Iron Maiden-esque array of falsetto singing. On "Ours is the Storm" this style of singing appears on just one track.
From start to finish this is a very heavy record. There are no interludes or preludes or intros or outros or lead-in tracks or filler material. Just thirteen pummelling melodeath tracks that are easy to nod your head to. On this disc, Neaera offer nothing flashy--nothing that calls attention to itself. Like Soilwork's new album, the band sees little need to bring anything new to the table besides a bunch of killer tracks. That said, "Ours is the Storm" is a good album, just not a great one. If you are in the mood for some insane headbanging metal, you can't go wrong here. Check out a couple of the tracks below. Enjoy!
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
If you have been following us regularly, you might have noticed the couple of times in the last few months we have posted brand new songs from this Swedish metal band.
Soilwork has put together an impressive career spanning now nine full-length albums since 1995. Over the years, the band's style has morphed and changed but this is still one of the most consistent Swedish metal bands of the era (meaning late 1980s-1990s Swedish melodeath). Though the band has adapted styles a little bit by incorporating further and more varied use of clean-sung vocals, Soilwork is still very much an extreme metal band.
"The Living Infinite," released today, most certainly carries the mark of a Soilwork album. The band's previous albums, "Sworn to a Great Divide" and "The Panic Broadcast" were seen as slight letdowns for hardcore Soilwork fans. Instead of offering a 'return to form' Soilwork include bits of style spanning their entire discography. Bjorn "Speed" Strid's vocals are much improved this time around, showing better range with both clean singing and extreme vocals.
As on "The Panic Broadcast," the metallic riffs are fast, thick, and smooth. Soilwork's drumming has never been tighter, and many of the tracks here scorch us with blistering leads and solos, which have been largely missing over the last few albums.
With "The Living Infinite," Soilwork doesn't break any new ground, but they don't have to. By now their sound is well-established and their practice well-polished. With that being said, there are no mind-blowing moments. The album is content with what it does and does it well.
Not much more can be said of this album. It is as good an album as Soilwork has ever released. It doesn't break any new ground. Instead, the consistency on display is notable. If you are in the mood for some torrential extreme metal with memorable melodies (ah, alliteration attack), you need to check this album out. One thing to note is that this is a double album. The CD version contains two discs and 20 tracks. Feast on a few of the released tracks below. As always, thanks for reading and ejoy!
Sunday, March 3, 2013
This past week I received an interesting email from Hidden Vibes, a small record label of out Kiev, Ukraine. This email was touting their latest release, a piano-based instrumental record from A Veil of Water.
"Reminder" is A Veil of Water's first release. Hailing from Norway, this is a one-man musical project by Rune Tralvik. Originally revolving around a solo piano and then evolving to more, this artist is an impressive self-taught musician and player of multiple instruments.
From the very first track it is evident that "Reminder" will be mostly a modern classical piano masterwork, and thus it truly is. Without sacrificing tone, clarity, and melody, this artist weaves post-rock and ambient flavors to create a deep and moving listening experience.
In the past I have raved about artists such as Heinali and Endless Melancholy. A Veil of water manages to match them both. I have high respect for people who can play musical instruments, and more so when they can play multiple instruments. I have also noted more than once that there is no such thing as bad classical music, and that is a mantra I naturally extend to film music, trailer music, and neoclassical studio projects.
In listening to "Reminder," we are presented with numerous melodic textures, each carrying their own weight and contributing greatly to the whole. This is a classic album to which listeners just have to sit back and relax. This music is beautiful and provocative. For using the piano as the centerpiece,
Tralvik creates deep and energetic pieces as well as slow, melancholic burners, each of which carve a comfortable niche in the lucky listener and remain memorable for days on end.
If you enjoy tasteful piano and instrumental music, you will absolutely love A Veil of Water. "Reminder" is available for purchase at the artist's bandcamp page, from whom we owe thanks for the full album stream. Thanks for reading and, as always, enjoy!