Saturday, 31 December 2011

Machine Head - Unto The Locust [2011]

Before the year comes to an end and the combat boots are changed to dancing shoes, I shall sing yet another hymn to you. A song about the album that shook my world in December and keeps me thrilled till tonight.
I can't say how come I listened to Unto The Locust, since I never liked thrash metal much. Maybe it was fate, maybe it's because I kept coming across it everywhere in Internet? But since I don't fancy philosophical speeches, let's allow music to speak.

I Am Hell (Sonata in C#) opens in a ceremonial, old-church-fashioned way almost like in Septic Flesh. But there's a hell in the title and it soon becomes touchable as the guitars and drums ride a devilish gallop, hurried by growls.
I am hell to thee
Down here all shall suffer with me

Well said, all will suffer from neckaches after that much headbanging.

The guitar introduction of Be Still And Know keeps the fire of sacral atmosphere. Further though they slightly distort, float with choired vocals and fly in bridges. What a power! What a melody! In the heaviness of this tale there is a lot of energizing optimism.

Locust was chose a promo single and I admit it was a damn right decision. It has absolutely everything that good metal song needs – fast solos, catchy chorus, good lyrics, amazing melody all song long and even an emotional bridge (some more famous metal bands would make a 5-minutes ballad out of it:P) Ay, que rico!

The beginning of This Is The End makes you think 'aha, now they'll slow down and get melancholic!' One awesome riff hurries another, and the dissonances in the chorus are like an ironic laughter on my first imagination of song.

Yet each metal album MUST have a song that's more melancholic than others. Darkness Within presents that point of view, changing growls for wonderful clean vocals and pressure hidden in acoustic and almost acoustic riffs. Yes, the sound explodes in chorus and following solos, but the general idea of a song is much calmer – the limited version of album contains acoustic bonus, as well as covers of The Sentinel (Judas Priest) and Witch Hunt (Rush). The strong point of Darkness are beautiful lyrics.
So pray to music build a shrine
Listen in these desperate times
Fill your heart with every note
Cherish it and cast afloat
Because god is in these clef and tone
Salvation is found alone
Haunted by its melody
Music it will set you free
Let it set you free

Pearls Before The Swine
– is it a sad reflection after a concert? For sure it's a sad, dark tune with broken rhythms, quiet distortions and loud neckbreakers.

Who We Are? Children singing, adults screaming, raging drums or guitars mixed with cellos? Recently I heard an opinion that metal is much more popular among people from smaller towns and villages, among those who are bored with their everyday's reality and lies of modern world. The part -
We are the other American dream
Whose characters fight for their lives
And they scream

-seem to perfectly summarize the better part of metalheads' world – people who are not afraid to stand up for themselves and their opinions. And there's something about this song that wakes the fire burning deep inside my heart and makes me wanna scream, yes, scream, what I really think.

What do I think now? Be courageous and keep changing the world in the damn 2012, remember:
We are the young
And young at heart
The strong and the brave that are destined to start
We are the change
The world needs to see
Look in our eyes and see our belief !

Monday, 26 December 2011

Fever Ray - Fever Ray [2009]

Women are said to have a lot of dark secrets and live in their irrational, imaginary world. We like to present ourselves as reasonable, powerful and optimistic creatures though;) Yet when Karin Dreijer Andersson from The Knife began writing her solo album, she managed to mix both these natures and create the most female album since ages.

If I Had a Heart is indeed a dark, mysterious duo with a trembling bass and almost flat melody that completes the hypnotising atmosphere of the song. Do women have hearts? And if they don’t, is it because they are naturally black-natured or were their hearts stabbed to death?

What’s the favourite saying of every little girl? When I Grow Up, I want to be...!  our singer mentions a number of careers and seems a busy, dedicated person, yet she explains that part of her is still waiting for something/someone special to love her back. I’m addicted to the way this music fills me with energy, its electronic, dynamic melody immediately reminds me of how good it was to be a kid, trusting in a wonderful, dreamed future...

Dry and Dusty on the opposite seems a bit fearful, it’s a tune drowning in melancholy and slight jealousy of every good moment. The only burst of emotion:

Work as I’ve been told
In return I get money
Small feet in the hall
And I long for every moment

is definitely enough though.

Seven is a much happier memoir, a picture of real female friendship (that indeed exists, I tell you!) and inspiration. It also has calm, but electrifying music with the loops that seem to sparkle like J.M. Jarre’s songs. One of my favorites.

I have to admit that even though I love Fever’s lyrics, for a long time Triangle Walks meant to me just one of the best rhythms in the world. Fantastic use of oriental drums and loops + croaking vocals = purr, purr, purr as Sheldon Cooper would say... And there really is something about this song that makes me think of legendary Pass This On by The Knife and song’s episode in Les Amours Imaginaires. Perfect for the end of a party.

Concrete Walls and its heavy, swinging loop would be better for a hangover though. It’s the most instrument-based song on the album and has entrancing, dark atmosphere.

Now’s The Only Time I Know is a heart-breaking Carpe Diem. For the first time in this album, Fever loses her Swedish harshness in her voice and becomes really delicate and romantic, you’d wish to say – like 19th centuries ladies. Subtle music gives a modern breath though, so we don’t drown in victorian sadness entirely.

La Donna Mobile as Italians say, and women don’t like to show their weaknesses anymore as I say. After a little breakdown, we must show our determination. And just as complex, dynamic music in I’m Not Done motivates to fight...

So, I lost my head a while ago
But you seem to have done no better

We set fire in the snow
It ain’t over I’m not done

Some do magic
some do harm
I’m holding on holding on
I’m holding on to a straw

But there comes a time for the best song of the album. As we once agreed with a fellow night traveler – Keep The Streets Empty For Me – is perfect for lonely trips in the dark city, no matter what you did before. The simple music eases the pain in legs and heart and slowly softening voice of Fever begs for company in singing, murmuring or both. It is also a thrilling story of desire, anger, regret, hope and all that storm that goes on in our female minds so often.

is more of an afterword, an entrancing tune, full of musical cookies, with much smaller emotional impact than its predecessor though.

To me, the phenomenon is that even though pop and electronic music usually bores me really soon, I've been loving Fever Ray for more than a year now... The catchy, but not boring sound and amazing lyrics speaking of both – most usual and most extraordinary things – made a real masterpiece!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Insomnium - One For Sorrow [2011]

Do you still remember April’s pretty days and that amazing single of Insomnium? We used to excite about little bit as it set the level so high, that One For Sorrow grew to be one of the most awaited albums. But so did a couple of others, that disappointed horribly – shall I even mention Hericrap? My nerves were in pieces as October came and it wasn’t at all due to studies’ begin. Did they manage the pressure???? Well, I’ll figure out for you.

Insomnium got us used to little introductions that help to focus all attention on them (doing 10things at a time may bring you to leaving unprofessional traces in professional works (silly comments in codes for example:P:P) or forgetting that your tomorrow’s dinner is yet on cooker... sec!) Well, Inertia is a really nice intro with a motive that will appear  in latter parts of album. To be honest, after hearing the album a couple of times I get excited about this part immediately (mhm, reminds of favourite song!).

Through the Shadows is a classic Insomnium medley original mainly because of extra vocals – sounding like metal version of gospel rock support. It’s a frapping song, as it’s really catchy, but making me question their seriousness on HOW catchy they want to sound. The song seems to lack balance a bit, yet it’s a piece of good fun.

Song of the Blackest Bird is however a declaration – it’s still us kids! – low-voiced whispers, melancholic bridges and this overwhelming power they are so unique to provide! Nothing new, but that’s what we love in them.

Ha, but don’t you think they don’t change! Only One Who Waits begins almost trashy and keeps high pace with minor exceptions – that synth use really made me think of Amorphis – yet it’s drums that are biggest hero in here.  If their concerts rock this much, shame on them for avoiding me!

A promo single – Unsung – is a furious song of frustrated, to-be-forgotten artist. A usual, epic composition with especially beautiful bridge
Only the frail words
Written in the stone
Retell my name anymore

How do we love this voice!
After madly growled Every Hour Wounds comes a calm, acoustic Decoherence – a cold stream between cracking rocks xd

It seems to me, that despite their energy, Insomnium must be very lazy guys, since they always make great songs with word ‘lay’ in titles. I loved Lay Of The Autumn, and I love Lay The Ghost To Rest – its melody, growls, drums and lyrics. For a moment I associate ‘lay’ with other words than ‘I’d love to lay down and sleep, just for a while’. Poor us, tired students.

But they make me Regain The Fire and my spirit screams with them
Destined to find my own way
To create the path to follow
And the scars of tomorrow
Will make you bleed only today

And the rain keeps falling
Pouring down from the sky
Washing footmarks from the mire
Leaving no trace behind

Oh, and that beautiful guitar combo in the end<3 Wake up, the best part of the album has began!

One For Sorrow is the highlight of the album. It’s growled, but  quite calm. The lyric is heartbreaking, two lines of vocals in verses blend into perfect harmony, subtly strengthened by deep, low  drums, even the simplicity of guitars seems a huge advantage. In one word – a masterpiece. Song I can listen to hundred times with getting bored. Thank you, Insomnium!

A bit unfortunately, the album doesn’t hang on this last, highly emotional notes, but remind of April’s single – Weather the Storm. My opinion hasn’t changed and you can find it in earlier post. I could only say I wish they put it somewhere before title song;)

How should I value this album then? They don’t bring revolution, yet I really like it. It’s hard to compare it with their earlier, pretty mature works (it's not as flawless as Across the Dark and has hardly as good songs as Last Statement) but none should feel ashamed, Insomnium is one of the few bands that may use mostly old tricks and a couple of new melodies and make a really solid thing that will make all of us headbang.. I’m in for it, rock on!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Kwoon - The Guillotine Show [2011]

There won’t be much blabling today as the modest author is surrounded with lots of issues, not even closely connected to music. But a tiny, stubborn albumito forces its way through science books and demands attention. Well, how could one resist this temptation? Especially for you – The Guillotine Show of Kwoon – or the main suspect in the case ‘how come J. got an F from physics?

The execution is opened with church bells – did you pray well, my dear reader? be sorry for your sins and ask God for mercy as you walk your last steps. When we think of death it’s always a bit surrealistic and therefore the scary-cabaret-light flow of our song perfectly catches the atmosphere. A show after all, isn’t it? Are you scared..? I’m terrified, but with the spicy noise and sweet vocals and the way they combine.

Wark could be a first encounter in the afterworld. Ethereal, peaceful melody and beautiful lyrics
Hello, my friend, let’s go and forget
but also a bit of an emotional, post-rockish instrumental clash. If you ever get a chance – and I bet you shall, they do lots of tours now – you should hear that break live. Quite a hypnotising experience, guess myself kept staggering for a good week willing to forget everything but that tune...

Like an answer to shaky walk comes The Last Trip Of A Drunken Man – a cute, cute song I’m gonna sing to my kids someday:)) Kwoon has a luck to have 2-3 really good guitarist that make little wonders and a charming Mr Drummer (greetings from my bf!) who plays lovely effects on this one.

Emily Was a Queen so she got an enthusiastic support from the band. Though to me it’s a bit weird to sing ‘I feel down, so down’ while making such a merry noise, oh I love how Sandy’s leading his voice and Yoann has a really nice bassline pulsating with drums so nicely, that my heart will never slow too much down.

But getting to the guillotine isn’t a nice experience. Even if you accept your fate and step onto landing yourself, there stays some sadness. But be a Bird, my love, find a tree, heal your wounds and sing all your hope, despair and regret aloud. This song is a tear jerker, but it’s so mindblowingly beautiful! No other words from me!

The EP contains also acoustic version of I Lived On The Moon – the best hit of band so far (if you haven’t heard it yet, google video, NOW!) – it’s not better than original and I dare to say I like Wark equally and Bird incomparably more, still, nice accent, guys! See you again next year, as you promised! With a full album this time;)

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Gojira - The Link [2003]

Ashamed I must confess that for a long time (way too long!) Gojira meant to me one of the Guitarist’ cards with best virtuosos of that instrument (and quite a hottie in that case) + a few songs I quite enjoyed. The rest seemed too technical and boring to my ‘sophisticated and progressive taste’:P Yet this spring when I decided to clean my hard drive, Gojira ‘accidentally’played itself showing quite a different image of themselves...

Dry, thick drum rises and in The Link with powerful guitar creates an original song with a catchy riff, irregular, trancing rhythm and lovely out-of-tune chorus. What else is linked in this piece? a declaration of independence with will to build, create things and ‘being there’ for other people. And how could you expect such a declaration not to be screamed?!

Death of Me was caused by jumping elephants in the intro and a mad argument between Duplantier brothers (oh pity their mother if they did argue like this in childhood!). Yet in the later part everything gets more polite – repetitive drum and riff and growl-recitation (did you know growls can be polite?). Connected is a small interlude made of tiny wooden drums that have great power of shaking my arms...

But we’re not playing games here! Remembrance shall show it – since the very beginning – raw guitar, regular drum and a threatening scream of Joe’s. From the half everything slows, guitars get lower and drums more intense. Accompanied by the sounds out of this world we come into Torii, an unearthly beautiful and peaceful bridge ( a delicate, caressing guitar reminding a bit of Opeth’s acoustics...) What story could such a wonderful music tell? When you can’t find light in your life, search in your memories, past is something you can yet control.

The curtain of water falls with Torii and we’re on the Wild West! Indians musically (and rhythmically at most!) picture stupid White Faces attacking great Red Skins. So, there is a march (technical, regular part) and a chaos of war (another argument). Let’s scalp those lame badasses!

What if the only to cut away from evil is to drown it? Duplantiers repeat 'I Embrace The World' as a kind of mantra, that unites them with nature. And I have to say I get very fond of ground&grass when those exotic, mad sounds rise my body.

Yet Inward Movement brings the euphoria to an end. Everything is freezing in sadness:
Slow inside I take my time
will come and fill the empty space
my wound I'll nurse I'll understand
my pain one day will disappear

If Lars von Trier enjoyed metal, I’d recommend him using guitar outro of the song to prom his new Melancholia. You can literally feel how the music becomes roots and mug that forbid you to run.

But Gojira doesn’t want you to die, they just want you to *think*. That’s why Over the Flows talks about examining your heart and finding proper solutions. So the music is a beautiful solution – shadow of drums and a simple, anxious guitar line.

He who learns must suffer
and even in our sleep
pain falls drop by drop
upon the heart

Against our will
wisdom comes

And as it comes, all our world is shaking! The trembling, cold guitar line brings to my mind music with which Pegasus kept informing me ‘you’re time is running out, expect game over’

The anxiety reaches its top at Dawn – all the earth forces break lose. Guitars weep, squeak, scream, tremble and the drums swing from mad fury to sad march. Pure, well-organised chaos (and as you know – entropia always wins). So how could it end? in no other way than birds’ singing.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Jeff Buckley - Grace [1994]

Few men prayed love and music with such a dedication as Jeff Buckley. And few managed to get as much love with just one album. Few listeners didn’t fall in love with Grace and THAT voice – and it has fans between both pop and metal musicians, young and old people... Ladies and gentlemen, musical masterpiece of love!

I'm lying in my bed, the blanket is warm
This body will never be safe from harm
Still feel your hair, black ribbons of coal
Touch my skin to keep me whole

Dreamingly whispered spells of love fill Mojo Pin with love from their first notes. But this song is in fact a struggle with oneself – from ‘my love, give me more’ to ‘don’t wanna weep for you, don’t wanna know’. And it perfectly shows how capricious a heart can be. So does the music swing between shy arpeggios and intense rides.

Title song is an astonishing combination of simple acoustic guitar parts, dry drums and strings. And as Jeff sings ‘Wait in the fire’ it really seems that this song burns marks on your ears. Marks reminding you to come back to this tune. Singing gets much braver in this song and together with distorted parts of synthesizer it really blows my head off.

Last Goodbye drops on peacefully – cute, fat bass riff, simplified background and slowly growing voice shows how wide and deep it is. Shouldn’t all splits be that happy in sound? Even though it’s a little bitter:
Kiss me, please kiss me
But kiss me out of desire, babe, and not consolation
Jeff’s goodbye is full of peaceful regret not anger.

Lilac Wine is harder tune to me. The cover of James Shelton however greatly prepared, can’t charm me as much as Jeff’s original songs. Lullaby-like, with 80s singing manners and hardly any music apart from vocals. Yet it’s one of the best lyrics and a really good song after a couple of listens.

So Real(ly) thrilled I am each time I listen to nr 5! Amazingly suiting guitars and crawling vocals (not to mention lowly whispered bridge!) easily make one of the rock masterpieces. Again Jeff shows how much he can do with his voice still being more passionate than all modern singers taken together. He’s shaken and mysterious while he wonders but clear in his scream ‘Oh it was so real!’

Since I come from poor generation that was raped in the youth with Shrek’s Fiona’s Hallelujah obsession, I never could enjoy song in original L. Cohen version without instant image of green ogres swimming in the mug. Yes, that sucked. But when I heard Jeff’s remake a few times I began to appreciate beauty of this song. Hoarse voice of young man that spends way too much time kissing and whispering love spells, ascetic guitar (and well, a couple of views of live performances) and green horror disconnected from the music;)

Lover, You Should've Come Over is a song about unability to keep a relationship despite much love.
Yes I, I feel too young to hold on
And I'm much too old to break free and run
Too deaf dumb and blind to see the damage I've done
Sweet lover you, should've come over
Oh love well I'm waiting for you.

Music is a lovely, well-learned homework (to do: listen to some good classic rock, e.g. Dire Straits, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin) with a bluesy vocal melody. Yummy!

Corpus Christi Carol as a remake of old english carol shows more elegiac, spiritual intrests. Oh happy thee if thoust church has singers like Jeff!

But our boy was obviously a rock soul with some punky ideas, so Eternal Life is a thrilling, rocking tune with magnifying  guitar (those cracks!<3) and passionate, aggressive struggle with microphone. I could really love hard rock if it was a bit more like this. A curious fact – someone told Jeff that he can’t sing louder than violin. Well he tried, check result in last minute.

Yet it’s a magnifying Dream Brother that sticks to our hearts most. Sad, very sensual song with a beautiful lyric and amazing musical background (lovely combination of acoustic guitars, harp + hypnotising drums). Last note hanging in the air won’t make you forget it...

... but if you enjoyed that romance, check bonus disc from Legacy Edition as it holds equally amazing songs with an opening perfect Forget Her (that almost made it to standard edition) that shall tear you apart.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

The Jezabels - Dark Storm [2010]

Modern indie bands tend to sound very similar. So do female singers. But one aussie band stole my heart and not only because cute vocalist with her sweet lyrics wakes my inner lesbian;)

The Jezabels probably won't break Arctic Monkeys or Florence's fashion, but surely they’re one of the more interesting indie rock bands on the market. Charismatic leader with big vocal possibilities (from ethereal Emiliana Torrini-like melodies to more aggressive rock cries – I dare to say – more interesting than recently famous Adele’s...), nice emotional music and not bad kind of lyrics... Style and three eps achieved in less than 4 years.

Last year’s EP shows also more mature and complex ideas when it comes to music. Dark Storm begins with vibrating riff but soon Hayley starts singing and it becomes really spacey in the background even though separate parts of piano and guitars don’t sound very ambitious. But isn’t indie all about simple fun? The bridges between verses seem just fine, and chorus:
I took it to the dog,
Took it to the plants,
Took it to the beach,
I took it to the shark...
I found tenderness

is an example of really enchanting, catchy, very rhythmical singing. In fact the big part of melody is easily rememberable and nicely sticks to ear:)

Mace Spray on the other hand is a more serious business. Powerful classic piano part, resonating guitar, lots of nice riffs and a bit of speaking in verses. The vocal melody goes very ascetically at the beginning but suddenly bursts to the beating of the drums. Pure energy, pure beauty.

But she loves me
more than anyone who wouldn’t speak like that
she keeps mace spray
for you can’t rely on the common man

//Dunno if the vocalist has a girlfriend who had bad guys issues and can't trust men now, but I can start carrying mace spray if she’d sing this to me every evening;)

If there is supposed to be film genre ‘cinema of the road’, I’d classify Sahara Mahala as ‘the music of the road’. Hot, African sun, classic drum-line and that lovely soprano singing yet again about love!(in the desert) Mhm, and lovely piano in the end!

A Little Piece is probably the least catchy song from the album. Dreamy, with some post-rockish background at first it flows through many corridors. This song is a strong grower, maybe a little sophisticated at some higher vocal parts, but nethertheless charming. And to all girls, when you get jealous, remember, tell your loves:
All you need, honestly,
A little piece of cherry pie,
Hot from the oven.
On your knees, face me:
Cherry pie, baby!

She's So Hard – two words: That. Piano. And that passionate, bitter, especially in lyrics song-line. Again Hayley almost speaks a feministic, anti-love manifesto. Yet there is something about her voice that disagrees with ‘I’m so hard’ declaration. But don’t we all ladies pretend to be harder than we are?;) Softly subbed by drums and beautiful piano EP finishes in a really delicate, peaceful way.

Click ‘delete’ on your collection of ‘must try’ popular indie music and get yourself The Jezabels that will at least expand a bit your idea on indie and female vocal possibilities! Or try one of the videos and *see* how good they are;)

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Porcupine Tree - Lightbulb Sun [2000]

There are albums that suit certain times of year, and indeed, I can’t imagine summer without Porcupine Tree’s Lightbulb Sun. That lovely album, written before the most successful creations of group, but already less psychedelic-experimental, is like made especially for bicycle travels in late afternoons. So get your bike out of the cellar and put on your sunglasses! We’ve got to cycle before September fades into cloudy, red October.

Lightbulb Sun opened the world for Porcupine Tree, rising some attention and encouraging them to make slightly simpler music. It may not astonish with originality, but it perfectly manages to refresh some old methods and give a look on how Pink Floyd could look like if they continued their line till today.

The sun is a light bulb (Lightbulb Sun) and every illness must pass cured by such optimistic music and lyrics:
My head beats a better way
Tomorrow a better day
When I'm asleep the smoke fills me
I feel the heat 
My illness leaves me
The song is based on very simple guitar-piano combo and seemingly not much happens – slightly more intensive chorus, yet the thrilling happiness shines through the bulb and make you cycle a bit faster:)

But as a true progman Steven can’t keep up to one feeling, moreover, as your condition isn’t really good yet, legs ache as you roll up. How Is Your Life Today? is a little sad piano waltz talking about abandoned man. Peculiar singing makes me think of great Ô Paradis lyric “Estoy extinguido o simplemente lejos de ti” – yes, Steven seems a bit extended while missing someone.

Four Chords That Made A Million is a reflection over music market. And it is somehow very catchy pop-rock with screaming Stevie and typical for popular music bridge. Whoa, stop cycling so fast! You’re gonna get yourself under one of those huge trucks!

Back to melancholic love relations Shesmovedon makes one of my favourite songs ever – simple but enchanting guitar line in verses, constant rhythm, good lyric and an amazing vocal performance from Steven and backing Chris Maitland that together remind a bit unforgettable Rick Wright (don’t kill me PF and PT fans, I really think so, and that’s a compliment!) Oh, and long, impressive guitar solo! My bike always stops in amazement. Check if yours does.

Last Chance To Evacuate Planet Earth Before It Is Recycled is a two parted composition with lots of instrumental news. The first part – Winding Shot (Summer 1981) is a bit bluesy with its acoustic guitar and banjo mix (fretless bass as well! love you Colin!). It’s also a dreamy love song when it comes to lyrics. But the harp’s part symbolizes break between songs and the second part titled as the song itself. Now it’s a Pink Floyd - straight from times like Echoes or Atom Heart Mother - jamming with again splendid bass, mellotron and electric pianos. Plus speak on the proper topic. Massive.

The Rest Will Flow – and you got through hardest part of road, now it’s a pure pleasure. Lovely, light tune with acoustic, vibrating guitar and Hammond Organ.
Then out of darkness I found I could still feel
Something good
Out of the woods
Good times started for you, again!

Hatesong is second longest composition on the album with a really ironic lyric:
This is a hate song just meant for you
I thought that I'd write it down while I still could
I hope when you hear this you'll want to sue
but quite a cheerful sound. Let me just say it. That BASS. If you meet a person who can’t hear basses in good songs, tie them to a chair and make them listen. Simple, repetitive riff adds a whole new spicy atmosphere to the song. As Mr Barbieri plays with synthesizers and its percussion, Steven takes over mellotron and plays with guitars (around 4th minute I always watch around cause it seems like Formula 1 is trying to take over my bike...) And that long, progressive, pulsating instrumental outro... yummy!

Where We Would Be is a dreamy reflection over the past and what didn’t happen. Nice lyrics, lovely acoustic atmosphere and fuzzy chorus. Hm, don’t you love the wind blowing your hair as you cycle?

Then comes Russia On Ice or a 13-minuted masterpiece. Perfect group work, and atmosphere that has hardly any resemblances. From delicate piano intro, through rising, low, bass-concentrated first part to dreamy yet strong chorus and guitars that would really well suit Mr Gilmour. Wonderfully sang and beautiful themselves lyrics, The Minerva (string) Quartet and additional violins and cellos... Hammond, Rhodes and Insects (!) and Colin’s show on guimbri  in the middle of psychedelic instrumental part two... Even Chris Maitland shows off a bit more of his drum skills, though it doesn’t reach the level of some Gavin’s tricks.

Damn it! In all that emotion bike got lost somewhere. It’s getting dark, so we shall get home, even on foot. That makes us Feel So Low. Saddish, almost suicidal song despite calm voice tone. Cello mixes with Hammond and acoustic guitar. Yes, longing doesn’t pass for eternity, we’ll gonna miss again. And lucky, who never felt like:
So see how long I can last
You can pretend that I don't exist for you
And I can laugh about it now
But I hated every minute
I was waiting for your email
And each day that you forgot to call

Just made me feel so low
So low

Above all... This disc makes the most cloudy summer shine and puts a blanket on every heart:) for collectors: go for reissue from kscope, it’s one of the best mediabooks I’ve had in my hands + all lyrics, also on 5.1 disc, great bonus songs and lots of beautiful photos. Enjoy!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

In Vain - Mantra [2010]

Did you ever wonder what would real American metal sound like? By ‘real’ I mean metal relying on blues, country or Indian music? I might be wrong, but seems like Norwegians from In Vain found a way to help us imagine it. It seems to me, that this might be one of the most underestimated bands in the world. 7 years, two amazing records and very few concerts and fans... Well, why don’t you try to appreciate their latest masterpiece - Mantra - one of the best metal releases of 2010?

Opening Captivating Solitude begins with peaceful, deep low riff that soon gets surrounded by a powerful mass of drums, intense guitars, cellos and above all – horrifying scream.  But, but. In Vain is famous for its five vocalists, so soon we also get wonderful deep singing and fat, fast solo broken by repeating clean parts again.

Mannefall opens with a bit stonin’ guitar and a mixture of growls and screams. Atmosphere gets pretty thick as they speak in Norwegian and backing vocals add a really devilish black feeling. Ok, so stonin’ black metal you say and wonder where that’s gonna lead. Oh, did we hear some change? the guitars get slightly more delicate and another vocalist mourns with a bit Indian spirit. The drummer shows off a little bit, but hey, if we’re into Wild West, shouldn’t we be proud?

Ain’t No Lovin’ with its acoustic guitar and bluesy sang lyrics:
Now I'm sitting here with
My guitar in my hand
Ain't no lovin'
No more lovin'

leaves no doubt for inspiration.

It painlessly passes to On The Banks Of The Mississippi and after short stoning intro we are welcomed by a choir telling us sad story of an old man. You could always forget it’s a metal band if not the heavy drum in the background and screamed&growled ‘chorus’. Again there is some cello plus a couple of violins hiding behind drum&guitars. Wonderful guitar solo (very simple, but lovingly anxious) and a bit Gojira-like drums strengthening it, bursts out in the concluding, beautiful and optimistic verse.

Dark Prophets, Black Hearts first show us some stunning guitar trips but soon gets into fact verses-slower chorus game. The chorus has also an interesting form of a hymn sang by them all, which gives more power to lyrics, calling us
To liberate
This world from
Greed and sickness

The following part of the song with slow drum and a number of delicate acoustic and tuned down guitars give an impression that the call might have been heard and the world is a better place. Around 7th minute the guitar gets so heavenly, that Eric Clapton shall indeed give his tears to heaven. But the outro still warns – you must care for your peace.

Wayakin (The Guardian Spirit of the Nez Perce) – shall I even say anything more? An old Indian telling a story, mourning cry and a riding melody accompanied by warriors’ screams. A group’s prayer to Wayakin with a metal background, occasional screams and instrumental parts that make me lose control. If Indians sang that powerful songs fighting Europeans, their opponents wouldn’t dare to attack. But again it slows down. Old style guitar solo changing to cello solo and old man’s explanation:
We look to the bear, the owl and the eagle as our brothers
To teach us how to live
They talk to us, we listen
The bear tells us of our strength
The owl of our wisdom
And the eagle of our freedom
It is time for us to remember

Last cries and we’re in the Circle of Agony. It’s a mad, a bit pessimistic tune complaining over the state of mankind with lots of growls, screams and yells and broken, thick riffs. Yet around 6th minute cello and acoustic guitar come to voice and give another heavenly melody.

Sombre Fall, Burdened Winter is probably my favourite. Simple piano interludes with jazzy guitar and intense sang parts. After the longest dreamy calm part cut guitar introduces us to saxophone solo – a passage to the choir-screamed a bit hardcore (but broken by melodic, quite clean guitar) part with one of the most awesome lyrics ever. A peaceful guitar-piano outro leaves us with 2minuted silent reflection.
And at last finishing hidden (or not) Wayphearing Stranger calms you down with tearing, a bit country farewell. Oh God, that deep, low voice and 70’s like female vocals! Even metalheads shouldn’t object!

The lucky possessors of deluxe version shall also find on their albums bonus In Remembrance with mad Gojira-like guitars-drums combo, sludgy riffs and trancing, ‘boiling water’ chorus – as I would describe it. Alarm- psychedelic guitar solo? Mad growls? Saxophone Lynch-atmosphered interlude? Acoustic passage like Opeth? Or maybe ticking drums? Screaming in silence? You wouldn’t guess, they have it all! Well, this song is a pure fun for every metalhead;) Let’s bang our heads!

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Ghost Brigade - Until Fear No Longer Defines Us [2011]

The successor of one of the finest metal albums. Great challenge for its writers and a cause of anxious waiting for the fans. All summer, Ghost Brigade kept knocking to our ears – showing a single, announcing a video made by Fursy Teyssier – another fresh hot name in this industry - and at last, freely streaming new baby. They are just 6 years old and already did 3 albums. But I guess that we all wondered ‘will they be able to beat Isolation Songs? or at least keep that level?’ Let’s figure out.

The biggest surprise comes immediately – after thick&heavy Isolation Songs that brought to think of them as doom or even sludge metal, the opening In The Woods - an acoustic, clean-sung ballad - shocks with its fraility. Luckily, GB proves that they don’t need guitar effects to bring up a beautiful riffs and melody. As they explained – the story is ‘a memory’ of meeting the man who made a cemetery in the woods as a ‘home for broken dreams’.

Clawmaster was made a first single and it seems to be the most old-style song. There is a deep musical background with keys and distorted guitars + growl-clean singing combo we loved so much. The lyrics at first reminded me of last Insomnium song, especially the parts like:
I was your slave with no name
You defiled my body
But you couldn't destroy my soul
but in general, they speak of breaking the ties and gaining the liberty (of mind). The roles change, and our hero is now at command.

Chamber is one of the softer, easy-rock songs with a very catchy, nice melody. The combination of slow guitars and peaceful drum in verses gives a nice, trance feeling. But since it talks about sick, dying relationship there is a bitter drop of sadness in it, rising as the chorus drives heavier guitarilly.
If you want to disappear please follow me.

Traces of Liberty have a great, rare sludgy riff and vibrating background. Good, heavy old-styled song with a completely growled story of the darrrrkest side. 
Divine Act of Lunacy kind of follows this dark way – simple, low, stoning riff, but clean vocals and more noticeable drums. The lyrics apply to the album title and the whole song can be summarized in its powerful chorus:
Marching through fire without water
Cleanse yourself for tomorrow
Fear is forbidden

Grain is a dark, realistic love song with a bit of Katatonia’s spirit. Slightly distorted guitars, shy versus and again raging, brave chorus. Nice song with great chances to become (not only) teenage metal-girls favourite (;

Breakwater is a complex, long composition. It begins as a classic doom song, but soon – crack! – breaks into a floating, acoustic ballad – crack! don’t get used to it, we’re back to classic Ghost Brigade recipe – crack! crack! and a powerful outro-solo. Moreover, this song has one of the most beautiful lyrics from the album, talking about finding a courage to begin a new life – a fearless, free life.

Cult of Decay seems to be quite a new thing for this band. The guitar’s technique reminds electronic loop + it’s a simple, one line melody, in contrary to usual diverse harmonies and guitar talks. Moreover, there is an obvious, growled bridge and outro. The lyric is another dark story of broken human’s relationship/faith in world.
Torn is a pure fury – mixing sludgy, speedy riffs with more delicate, enchanting solo leading to a slowdown. A story of anger, that seems to fade though, and give place to a bit resigned sadness.

Ending Soulcarvers is a masterpiece itself. Sad slow melody enters as if the army of those who lost the battle. But as they say:
Rebirth through failure
Just like so many times before

The chorus breaks in rage again, but it’s the lines in between that seem to carry their most important message. The finishing solo, concluded by the cry “Soulcarvers” is simply eargasmic and heartbreaking.

At first I wanted to say that it’s a catchy, easier in listening album, that shall be good to encourage new listeners or to get to some great scandinavian metal radio... I wanted to say it's a solid music, although it simply can't outshine my love for Isolation Songs... But now, all I can say – don’t take that melody out of my head:

Let the undone come to life
And feel the love engraved
To the undivided presence of hope and innocence


Thursday, 11 August 2011

VAST - April [2007]

As the summer reaches its maximal sunshining and hottness limits, I wouldn’t be myself if I gave up on lovely, lazy records and so images of peaceful countryside changing by the train-window reminded me of great VAST (Visual Audio Sensory Theater) that found me in August 2010.

This horribly unappreciated American band committed a couple of really good rock albums – mixing industrial and folk influences with good old rock&roll and acoustic beauty. I could easily write an ode to Nude or self-titled Visual Audio Sensory Theater, but let me take a more interesting in its diversity road, and lead you to the April.

Our trip begins on a lonely street in the middle of night. Suddenly a girl offers to pick you up, one leads to another and out of nothing you find yourself “lost inside and urban maze”. But the poor girl’s devotion can’t change the fact that your lips must say You’re Too Young for me. What’s left then? take a guitar and play it slowly to at least give her a touching farewell.

Yet it seems she stuck in your heart, but know you sing in some club. Quite a success achieved, there is a cute violinist, a drummer and another guitarist that helps you out. But nothing can change the fact that you keep wondering: did she ever needed Dedicate (A Place For Me)?

At last you found a peace of mind and understood that Everything Passing By is not coming back... You experience new love and in angelic mood change the guitar for piano. Ah, right, you didn’t lost the band, the extra guitar, violin and drummer still support you. Oh, yes, you’re happy and like poor Faust cry ‘let me stay here forever’.

You felt so confident, that now dare to say Sunday I’ll Be Gone! Your love’s disability to make a decision makes you confused – be closer than the stars or go away on Sunday? Well, you ask her in shrinking voice and nervous drummer binds on one rhythm and guitar climbs up the notes...

Ok, a couple of drinks and you’re a reagge rocker – do you remember how that saxophonist got after you? oh, and a new bassman? wow, you say, it’s all because I’m a Frog, a now I’m a song. Oh, psychedello small bridge? Yeah, we lost the troops.

But after the great high fun must come a melancholic hangover. Once again you sit at the piano and with loveliest, lowest voice you apologize lost lover. The violinist forgave you from the first notes and makes sweet, encouraging eyes to your beloved. Oh my love, gotta say I did as well, now I’d also give everything just for One More Day with you...

Yet your girl is a badass. So, she betrays her new guy for you and once you showed her A Tatoo of Your(her) Name across your soul and gave her a lovely rock&roll, she wants you to get rid of him (he’s a beater)... Too bad that it gets you straight to court and as she claims you’re crazy you claim ‘I’m gonna get this thing removed when I can’. Nothing helps, you scream as you get your 100,000years and r&r gets really mad.

So, imprisoned you become friends with half-african half-latino dude and seduce guard-girls with your cute ‘Is It Me you’re looking for?’ and rumba rhythms. Of course you managed to smuggle violinist.
One got you out of jail, but in your pride you discover that you feel like ‘I’m Too Good’ so together with your mates reaggeing wonder and decide you to break the ties.

Foolish man. You had no idea she was a witch. Sitting in the corner of your room, the guitar seems to be your only armour as you whisper scared to death ‘She Visits Me when I’m asleep’. But your friend violinist once again saves you, taking her big friend cellist and giving the armour triple power.

Seems it’s all fine now! The big cellist stays, supported by that cool bassist and your soul makes a big talk how ‘I Am A Vampire! (...) I’m a wolfman! (...) I’m a mummy!’ Nice to hear you’re doing so well, ex and future criminal!:P

Finally, you found someone perfect, calmed down and ready to settle down, MAN! you BEG her in ethereal voice Take Me With You! yet not too much pressure, you’re calm and she’s a hell of a guitarist. I bet she smiles at that final drum. Yes, she takes you.

The trip’s finished but the wheels still seem to go round. So play again, or get Nude!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The National - High Violet [2010]

The National since the beginning was constantly aiming to join the best rock bands of the world and achieved quite a success both in popularity and music quality, but it wasn’t until High Violet that this measure became really fair.  Ladies and gentlemen – a perfect album?

High Violet  as the most mature work of this American group didn’t bring a revolution, but defined band’s style once again, showing how they focus on simplicity and atmosphere. And those are definitely two things that this album has. Less guitars, more strings, the base – vocals+drum+bass – well, this time it worked pretty amazing!

It’s a terrible love and I’m walking with spiders.. sings Matt and you can hear exactly what he means – hairy, buzzing spider-guitar-sound, stepping drum and a little depressed melody. But as the song grows and becomes thicker in guitar-drum line, you get an impression that those spiders are actually helping to endure terrible love..

And so Sorrow is still a little melancholic, but also gives a fresh air of optimism – light, thick drums and lovely background built of piano, strings and bass combination.  Add some girly choir to Matt’s voice and it seems to be a perfect song for a rainy, but pretty day.

Anyone’s Ghost has a very characteristic drum line, made even more noticeable by well adjusted rhythm guitars. The melody and lyrics are also very catchy + simple, so it surely is one of the easiest songs to remember from this album.

Little Faith is so far the most complex composition – the intro puts a pressure on changing guitar techniques – brushing and simple strummin. Unlike before, the drums are slightly in the back, but once again, the bass line adds depth to the sung parts. Thanks to the strings the song gets a slightly ‘epic’ effect, but in a nice, pleasant way.

The fatherhood brings joy, but also anxiety. It’s the second feeling that created Afraid of Everyone. It’s indeed a slightly scared, shy song with a beautiful, sad vocal-line. Instrumental part also gives real chills – from fragile guitar at the beginning, through murmured middle parts to finishing culmination with a drum-solo, buzzing guitar and tearing scream of Matts.

But afraid to drown everyone in sorrow, The National takes another turn into the Bloodbuzz Ohio where sunshine makes the journey more pleasant – the orchestral parts and thick, explosive drums make a real impression of driving towards the sunset. Moreover, the charming melody takes your heart and makes you smile and sing to yourself that you should go to…

Lemonworld, where you will lose your breath. It’s a land of a catchy melody, bonking drum and again, one of the easier songs, but unfortunately to me after a number of first excited listens it became a little boring…
Runaway on the contrary is fitting less to the current The National style. You can hear the instruments taking a more important role than just ‘making the background’. Also vocals are a bit harder to murmur.

Coming next - Conversation 16  takes all prizes – nice drums, stunning low sound (cello?), great lyrics and melody + some nice guitars appearing here and there.  And even outbreak in the end! My favorite, must be added to the hall of great rock songs=)

England has a real English atmosphere, at least the one you expect after stereotypes – pathos, sophistication but nethertheless nice tune with wind instruments and  an addictive outro.
Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks is again fulfilled with instrumental tricks, seems to include most of orchestra and has a vibe of lullaby-waltz, but I guess- brings a proper end to this album.

So, is it masterpiece? Surely one of the best soft/indie rock albums of last years . Decide yourself and enjoy!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

A Backward Glance On A Travel Road - A Backward Glance On A Travel Road [2011]

Almost all my life I hated everything French and even when that hatred got less hating, I couldn’t find anything good from that country. But suddenly, since last spring I feel bombarded with great French things that try to drag me to the noir, pardon – dark – side. Sacrebleu! After discovering A Backward Glance On A Travel Road I don’t think I can resist much more!

These four Frenchmen just released their début staying mainly in neofolk borders, but at the same time pushing them a little further. What are their inspirations? Horror? Old church music? Flamenco? Nostalgic southern songs? I could try and keep guessing, but the important thing is that once again I was proved that (bad) old France didn’t die yet and can give us something really worth trying. So do!

Regular Barbary begins the album with a great passion. Amazing parts of acoustic guitar, switchfrom melancholic, classic passages to a dancing fury. Add some canteen piano, distorted speech and at last lovely male vocal and female screams, and with few other minor surprises, you get an amazing song.

Falling is a darker tune, filled with very delicate guitar&strings and a dialogue between moaning woman and reminding choir. The atmosphere gets really elegiac and subdued with drum in proper places. I was falling... into enchantment!

But every good band knows that they have to surprise their listener with changes. Johnny Got His Gun is introduced by slow, shy guitar growing to eventually burst and culminate the pressure during a short speech. In its simplicity, Johnny has a lot of dark power that can shake you really well.

In Absentia is a two parted, long composition with more classic usage of instruments. Of course it is still about acoustic guitars, charming voices and a some distortion, but there are also drums and a lot of nicely innocent (but so enriching) strings. Although the second part is maybe a bit more fragile and neofolkish with its one, characteristic riff and a little opera-performance.

Hier Régnant Désert has a form of a music argument – first you hear one idea – mad guitar trip, but as it’s disliked by our talker-interpreter, he proposes another, more dreamy one with a spectacular guitar combination (harmonics!<3). To me – both ideas are lovely!

Heat is much different from the rest of the album – least neofolk I’d say and definitely the most catchy one. And it’s also my favourite – a great instrumental base with stunning bridges, heart-breaking vocals and a really nice lyric. But surely they know it’s such a treasure, cause it’s Heat that is a first video (beautiful and really interesting, I couldn’t decide at first whether I liked guys' beards or story more;))

Approximativement Moi gives old piano, moaning, undecided strings and a ghostly voice. You can think of a horror or an old French cathedral (although those don’t have much singing nowadays I heard). I think of a perfect epilogue to that album. Now, can we please play that again?