Monday, December 30, 2013

Agony Face - CLX Stormy Quibblings

Inside the dark and cavernous cave, lies an unexpected quintet from Milan that play extreme sounds of Progressive and Death Metal that will soon knock your socks off with some crazy philosophic ideas that is surreal. Agony Face (Salt Merchants in which is their nickname) have been around for about nine years now and their music is a touch of growling vocals, rapid fire drumming that sounds like a machine gun going off with bullets ricocheting, heavy guitar riffs, and a lot of aggression that is brutal, forceful, and strong to get the heads banging. The band considers; Davide Guarinoni on Lead Vocals, Mirko Montrasio on Bass, Alessandro Bassi on Drums, and guitarists Riccardo Ricotti and Alessandro Uberti.

Their third album, CLX Stormy Quibblings, is one of those albums that have the touch of three genres. And it has the views with these extreme and disturbing concepts and it’s almost like walking into the mind of an insane person and seeing what kind of suffering he or she has been done into them and making themselves their own worst enemy. Vocalist Davide Guarinoni shows a lot of energy in his monster-like vocals that as I’ve mention before with a growling and snarling sound as if the beast has been unleashed out of its cage to reign chaos and terror in the town by creating pandemonium.

Duo guitarists Riccardo Ricotti and Alessandro Uberti have a touch of the classical/flamenco and heavy sounds by surpassing Kirk Hammett, Dave Murray, Dimebag Darrell, and Ottmar Liebert rolled up into one, but they carry the Prog-Death-Metal flavor to the core like no other and a little help from the powder keg explosion of drummer, Alessandro Bassi who is like a jet engine going for take-off to keep the fast-tempos and rapid changes from his drum kit to get the juice electrified with a lot of high voltage.

At times it goes through the sounds of Nocturnus, Cynic, Morbid Angel, and the Dillinger Escape Plan, but then goes into some layered and calming lines on some of the compositions to give the band a chance to relax before going back into the pummeling driven mode, and going into some of the futuristic voyages as well and it shows that Agony Face can do different variations on their sound to capture and grab it and making sure it doesn’t fall off the cliff. I have listened to CLX Stormy Quibblings about three times now and while I’m not crazy about the Death Metal sound, I think this is an amazing band that really can take it to a whole new level.

For me, this is an explosive, challenging, and vigorous album I’ve listened to from beginning, middle, and right into the very end. So if you are ready to be challenged for the sound and brutal force of Agony Face, be prepared and expect the unexpected for a roller-coaster ride you’ll never forget.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Dragonhammer - The X Experiment

Dragonhammer have been around since their formation in 1999 originally as a trio and they have released along with a demo, two albums and their new album released this year is a concept album called, The X Experiment. The setting of the story takes place during after the post-apocalyptic nuclear world where all hell has broken loose.  And the music itself is a touch of the Prog-Rock sound, but the sound of Power Metal comes kicking the door down. And the sounds of Metallica, Blind Guardian, Hammerfall, and Iron Maiden are evidential in their music that shows that they have done their homework very well.

At times, I get the feeling that it is almost a Sci-Fi Metal Opera of a dystopian futuristic world gone wrong and the music is epic, mind-blowing, appealing, and energetic.  The band considers; Max Aguzzi on Lead Vocals and Guitar, Gar Amodio on Bass Guitar, Giulio Cattivera on Keyboards, and Giuseppe De Paolo on Guitars. And featuring special guests: Roberto Tiranti and Titta Tani doing vocals on two of the tracks on the album, Francesco Fareri on Guitar, David Folchitto on the Drums, and the Female Vocals done by Marinella Pichierri and Lara Bertoli.  

And the result of the concept is theatrical, vivid, and gripping as the band go for a ride you’ll never forget on five centerpieces. For example, The End of the World has a sing-along kick to it with a lot of heavy guitar rhythms and riffs, and moog-like solo done by Cattivera as he challenges the sounds of Keith Emerson and Jens Johansson as the drums have a militant rapid patterns to keep the tempo going and it shows how the group can take these ideas into unbelievable results.

Escape is a dramatic keyboard-organ-piano driven beat that starts off for the first few minutes that at times is a tribute to Jon Lord and then goes back into the classical mode from the keyboard as the guitar and drums go rapidly to get that vibe before it mellows down as the vocals come in to set the vibes going as the increase level goes up thanks to the solo and drums come kicking in full gear near the last two minutes of the song that is raw and eruptive.

Elsewhere, Seek in the Ice and the title track, in which its almost straight out of a short story from Philip K. Dick, has a lot of ominous overtones because of the structures of the storyline in which the atmosphere is a nightmarish view on what has happened after the nuclear disaster and the sound is almost like an epic film score on those two tracks, have a riveting and mesmeric value on the instruments.  And then, there’s Follow Your Star.

It begins with a lullaby gone wrong on the keyboards before the percussion and bass comes in while the rhythm set on the acoustic guitar opens up with a folky crisp. However it has a classical and symphonic beauty to it and not to mention the vocals done by Pichierri and Bertoli that really sends shivers down my spine when I listen to this piece and at times along with the second track, it is soon going to be a sing-along song that will soon get the headbangers using their lighters and singing to the words. 

I have listened to The X Experiment about eight times already and I have to say it is a captivating and fascinating album from start to finish. And while this is my introduction to Dragonhammer’s music, I might explore some of their work in the future and if you love the idea of storytelling, concept albums, and Power Metal, this is right in your alley to get your seat buckled to a journey you’ll never ever forget. The most important thing, after a nine-year hiatus, they are back and its an impressive album they have released this year.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Ilvcia - In The Nature of Reason

Coming from a Post-Progressive and Post-Rock sound, this quintet launched back three years ago in their hometown in Barcelona. Ilvcia have released their debut album this year called In the Nature of Reason. The band recorded the entire album themselves and it’s very much a story-telling album throughout their compositions along with a suite and from beginning to end, it seems they have something up their sleeves.

The band considers; Santiago Arderiu on Drums/Percussion, Ricard Rius on Bass/Backing Vocals, Victor Gil on Guitar, Gerard Marrugat on Guitar/Vocals, and Guillem Laborda on Keyboards. The moment I’ve put my headphones on, I knew I was about to experience something that Ilvcia were about to walk into the light. And throughout the arranging and compositions, I could tell they want to stay true to their roots of the two genres by making sure they carry the sound and the concept they bring to the table.

The title of the album comes through their origins and the inspirations. There are only six tracks on the album and it shows it is almost like going on a spiritual journey to find out who the real person is behind themselves. Opener, The Safe, featuring a soaring flying sound along with an atmospheric chord progression on the keyboards, the band go into a relax yet layered melodic lines between guitar and bass. It has a touch of early Floyd meets Yes with a vitalizing feel. There are some excellent riffs, calming vocals, balladry finale, classical guitar lines, and mellotron’s soaring with a psychedelic twist.

One of the most touching pieces that has a haunting and lament structured value on the debut is, Universe of Fields. It is deep, militant, moving, and passionate as Laborda creates these darker elements on his instrument while Gil goes into some heavier passages on his Guitar to give it that strength and poignant beauties. Then, we come to the 3-part suite, Baghdad, with a lot of various backgrounds that just takes it to a different level.

From the Middle-Eastern, Flamenco styles of Ottmar Liebert, and Classical backgrounds (The Gates) to the symphonic flourishing adventure that Guillem Laborda and Victor Gil do together that has some spacey technique in their rhythm and the vocalizations as well setting the uplifting thrust  (The Market) and into Laborda’s moment to shine as he goes through a touch of Major and Minor progressions on the Piano as if it’s going through a Leslie Speaker before the Synths come in to set through the starry skies as the band come in with a Post-Rock Psych finale. (The Suburbs)

The closer, Sir T. Waever, is back into the glorious days of the ‘70s Prog sounds of Genesis Lamb Lies Down on Broadway-era featuring some wonderful synthesizer exercise and excellent rhythm / lead guitar work out and Arderiu’s drumming to keep the tempo flowing and calm. And it shows that while In the Nature of Reason may be their debut album, it’ll show that while they have a long way to go, it is an enjoyable album that Ilvcia have released this year.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Fungus - The Face of Evil

Since their formation launched eleven years ago in their hometown in Genoa, in which it’s the sixth largest city in Italy, Fungus has released three albums from 2004 to 2010. And they have this influential sound of Psychedelic and Heavy Progressive Music they have in their background that inspired the Fungus’ roots to bring the genre alive. Their new album, The Face of Evil, which is released under the Bloodrock Records label (which is a distribution under Black Widow Records), is a fine gem they have released this year and it’s a knockout.

The band considers; Alejandro J. Blissett on Guitar, Carlo Barreca on Bass, Claudio Ferreri on Keyboards, Dorian Deminstrel on Lead Vocals, and Cajo on Drums.  The opening title track begins with this ambient / atmospheric keyboard, fretless bass line and layered guitar rhythm to set the curtains to go up as it heads into the outer limits of the solar system for the first few minutes before the energy starts to kick into a hard space rock adventure with a lot of powerful vocals, heavy organ and piano work as it rises up into unexpected moments.

Gentle Season has this wonderful touch of the Acid Folk sound resembling Rush’s Hemispheres-era in the style of The Trees and not to mention an earlier sound of Pink Floyd thanks to Blissett’s sliding guitar sound as he pays homage to David Gilmour as the swarming keyboards that Ferrer comes in with a mourning style on the chords as The Great Deceit goes into the Symphonic Emotional Rock treatment. Lukewarm guitar melodies along with the uplifting structures, it carries a touch of the late ‘60s/early ‘70s vibe into the composition as Blissett’s goes up a notch while Dorian screams his heart out and you can tell he can go into soft and hard roads with his vocals to give it that mighty touch.

The Key of the Garden is another folky-psych touch that has this wonderful combination between Love’s Forever Changes and the Rolling Stones Child of the Moon as Rain goes back into the elevating momentum from the previous tracks before Ferreri does this stop-and-go workout on the organ as Cajo helps him out by doing some exhilarating drum work as more of the guitar lines help the group out to make sure the band is in a perfect and excellent mood.

Share Your Suicide Part III has a spooky and haunting atmospheric delay between Carlo’s bass, Guitar, and the sound of the Theremin and Keyboards sets the tension on your personal demons and how far can you go to stop them before taking your life while Angel With No Pain & Better Than Jesus carries the touches of Bigelf with a lot of Synth, Organ and Guitar driven forces. Meanwhile, Requiem, in which it has a walking Guitar/Bass line with a spacey feel, carries the spirit of Eloy and a Saucerful of Secrets-era of Pink Floyd.

It has a dooming beat and then goes into the frenzy structures for a quick second and all of a sudden its headed straight into the cosmos a rumbling force before relaxing and back into light speed that is surprising and calmed for the last few minutes. Then, it becomes a swirling beat between Psychedelic, Surf, and Garage Music through the instruments adding a sudden piano concerto, militant drum patterns, and the haywire effects starting to kick in along with a jazzy flute solo to combine the watery drops inside the cavernous cave on The Sun.

The closing, Bkk, has a nice Crimson and Mahavishnu Orchestra-sque short second finale that closes the album off into heading home with the Curtains dropped. This is a very interesting band and The Face of Evil, is an exceptionally good album. I might plan to check out their other material sometime in the future, but I guess they really got something up their sleeves to carry the genre into different voyages on where they will take their music next. So far, this will get the rocket ships ready for lift-off!

Monday, December 16, 2013

R-Evolution Band - The Dark Side of the Wall

Since their formation back in 2010, from the mind of Jazz composer and instrumentalist Vittorio Sabelli, R-Evolution Band released two albums, (One Way and Versus) and then, they decided to do something that was crazy and peculiar. By re-working and re-telling the story of Pink Floyd’s 1979 epic masterpiece, The Wall by making it insane, weird, and chaotic. And it’s a crazy combination of Avant-Jazz, Hard Rock, Psychedelic Blues, Swing, Ambient / Atmospheric, and Classical at the same time. Alongside Vittorio Sabelli, the band considers on this album; Marcello Malatesta on keyboards, Gabriele Tardiolo on Guitar, Bouzouki, and Lap Steel, Graziano Brufani on Bass, and Dreste Sbarra on Drums.

It’s complex, difficult, and interesting at times. Not to mention seven centerpieces to get you ready and have your seat-buckled for the adventures of the avant-sounds of R-Evolution Band. Their take on Mother, has this sliding wah-wah guitar blues in the styles of Ry Cooder featuring a heartbeat and Ilaria Bucci’s voice resembling Merry Clayton as if she’s singing in a church to give a mourning that sends chill down your spine before it goes into this stop-and-go atmospheric bebop jazz sound between Vittorio’s woodwind solo and Sbarra’s drum keeping the patterns for a moody walk into the streets in the evening. 

Then, all of a sudden on Requiem: Funeral of Queen Mary II (Don’t Leave Me Now) has a spoken-word related sound before going into the operatic vision for a quick second on the lyrics and the gothic church organ as it plays the classical Purcell piece while Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2) goes into the sneering hard fast-driven Black Metal with growling vocals done by Angel C. Malak. Meanwhile, Hey You (Intermede) becomes this electronic upbeat tempo with a lot of driven patterns, along with the violin going into the middle-eastern sounds of Egypt and the woodwind done by Vittorio setting the scenery into a whole new level and paying tribute to Olivier Messiaen. You get the idea, they take the sound of the Floyd’s work into uncharted territories.

Nobody is done in the style composer Ennio Morricone. It has that symphonic structured beauty as if he had done the score for Terry Gilliam’s 1985 Sci-Fi classic, Brazil as the militant dancing upbeat fanfare on Bring the Boys Back Home, segues into a soft-gentle electronic jazz waltz in ¾ time signature featuring the synth and beautiful vocals and guitar lines on Comfortably Numb. And then they pay homage to the Physical Graffiti-era of Led Zeppelin and Rick Wakeman that has been rolled up into one with some heavy riffs and wonderful moog solo’s on Another Rock in the Wall.

And they do something very wacky and interesting. They do their take of The Trial into a 1930’s and early 1940’s swinging Jazz sound before the growling nightmarish experimental tension comes into full swing for The Wall to collapse as each of the instruments go into a chaotic climatic finale with a big crescendo that is mind-boggling and unexpected.

I have listened to R-Evolution Band’s The Dark Side of the Wall about four times already and It’s very interesting and difficult to listen to from start to finish. It’s not an easy album to listen, however they got something up their sleeve and its okay. Not good, but okay. So if you are ready to go into the world of Vittorio Sabelli and the R-Evolution Band, remember to set the controls for the heart of the Dark Side of the Wall.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sonata Islands - Sonata Islands Meets Mahler

Now, on my blog site, I do reviews on; Progressive Rock, Jazz Rock, Doom and Symphonic Metal. But this album has completely taken me by surprise that stretches into the world of both Jazz and Classical music that has suddenly rolled up into one. With a twist of the two genres along with Rock in Opposition and Avant-Garde, you know something strange and twisted is about to happen at the right time to get you ready for an Ensemble line-up.

I first became aware of Sonata Islands last year on an episode from Sid Smith’s Podcasts from the Yellow Room after hearing one of their tracks from the Altrock Chamber Quartet in which Emilio Galante founded, where they did an homage to the RIO genre called, Brachilogia 7 and it took me by surprise of hearing this. Hearing this bizarre surroundings of the string quartet, flute, and woodwind going through this resemblance of Frank Zappa and Ron Geesin, was something that had my eyes wide open and knowing this would take me into unexplored specialties.

And now they are going into the world of the late romantic period of Austrian composer, Gustav Mahler. He was controversial, a visionary, a creator, and an autocrat along with the forces that would come with it. He wrote 10 symphonies back from 1884 to 1910 in four major chords and six minors as well along with Lieder und Gesange, Das Klagende Lied, Ruckert Lieder, and Kindertotenlieder to name a few. And for Sonata Islands to challenge the music of Mahler, is a challenge and a big leap for them to walk on the tightrope on the composer’s arranging and composition that are demanding and intense. In this one, they take on Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth).

Now while I’m not crazy about Gustav Mahler’s work, this album is complex and compelling from what Sonata Islands has unleashed from beginning, middle, and right into the very end. The Ensemble considers; Giovanni Faizone on Trumpet, Emilio Galante on Flute and Piccolo, Achille Succi on Woodwind and Sax, Simone Zanchini on Accordion, Stefano Senni on Double Bass, Francesco Cusa on Drums, and Tommaso Lonardi on voice.

Kind of Earth starts with this ominous sound between Accordion, Alto Sax, and Piccolo as if you are walking alone in the lonely nights in the streets of Paris as it goes into the ¾ Jazz-Waltz while they go into various tempos as Achille Succi challenges Mel Collins and Lol Coxhill while the dramatic tension between Stefano Senni and Francesco Cusa goes into a climatic banging and crash as Senni creates this insane bass solo. And then, it goes back into the Waltzy dance with some different changes in the tempo as Succi just wails it out and then heads back into the darkness to close it off.

Von Der Schonheit is very much in the styles of the Rock in Opposition feel as if they are traveling back in time that begins with a joyous walk into the park done by Zanchini, Galante, Senni, and Cusa as if the setting is very relaxing and calm for the first two minutes before going into a chaotic mode with stop-and-go mode in different time signatures. It has this weird combination of Magma and Samla Mammas Manna while the opener, Das Trinklied, is very sensational and vibrant as the Ensemble just have a grand old time taking the sounds of both Avant-Jazz and Classical Music that just completely took me by surprise.

Non Mahler goes from different variations. From the insane, off the wall and free jazz experimentations for the first four minutes into a late ‘30s/’40s sound of the swing-era for a couple of seconds, the dualistic between Faizone’s homage to Miles Davis on the Trumpet and Achille’s insane solo on the sax and they would come up with some wonderful melody to get the rhythm of the beat going into the Brazilian bossa nova sound to close it out for a wonderful dance into the sunset.

The twisted Around Mahler, is back into the difficult time changes with some wonderful bass solo that is Senni is doing this in the style of Charles Mingus and Jimmy Garrison as a tribute to the two Jazz bassists before they go into this jaw-dropping tribute to the Bitches Brew-era while the ensemble gives Francesco Cusa a chance to shine as he goes into town on the drums by doing this crazy and brilliant drum solo. He is over the place and doesn’t stop a beat when hits the patterns as the band go into a frenzy as a finale.

Commiato, which closes the album off, has a mourning middle-eastern introduction before the woodwinds go into a frantic screeching noise from low to high as if they reached the highest note between Galante and Succi and they just go through various melodies. And then it goes from the trumpet and accordion solo done in the bluesy style before Zanchini’s Accordion going up the spiral staircase to go up as reaches and stops to take a break and then reaching the highest crescendo up to the top of the flights of stairs.

And then, it’s a trip to different parts of Italy as you walk through various monuments for the last three minutes as Tommaso Londari’s narration sets the tone for a wonderful trip into the dream and laid-back adventure that is a calming and relaxing end. I have listened to Sonata Islands Meets Mahler about nine times now and I just can’t put into words, but it’s one of the most mind-blowing, stimulating albums I’ve listened to. It’s accomplishes the music of both Jazz, Avant-Garde music, and Classical that is rolled up into one.

So if you are ready to travel into the world of Sonata Islands, be prepared and fasten your seat belts, because it’s going to be a journey you will never expect.