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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Love, Poetry and Revolution: A Journey Through the British Psychedelic and Underground Scenes 1966-1972

For me, I always have a love of the underground scene of the Psychedelic sounds from the late ‘60s. Whether it’s the Nuggets box set between volumes 1 and 2, it is a trip through the lanes on what, how, and why the bands were ahead of their times and never got any recognition they deserve. That and this 3-CD set released on the Grapefruit label which is a part of the Cherry Red Records family entitled; Love, Poetry, & Revolution: A Journey through the British Psychedelic and Underground Scenes 1966-1972.

There are 66 tracks on here from various bands and artists that cover through the sounds of the pop, psychedelic, and folk sounds of that time period that will make you take note on the obscure gems that are hidden treasures lost on the mountains of Sierra Madre. In the box set, there is a 35-page booklet with liner notes and histories of the scene done by David Wells and there a photos, records and promos of the groups.

Wells himself did an excellent job on the compilation and he deserves a pat on the back for this amazing set released back in 2013. Not to mention the highlights on the set that had my eyes just wide open and taken me to raise the bars up. Songs like the blistering psychedelic-pop mod sound of Deep Feeling which featured the late Jim Capaldi of Traffic on Drums, erupting into an ominous LSD trip of fascinating proportions of Pretty Colours.

There’s also the demo version of Blossom Toes’ I’ll Be Late for Tea which has a whimsical vibration as The Shame which featured Greg Lake on vocals doing Janis Ian’s Don’t Go ‘Way Little Girl sees them doing their take of The Move’s music in the style of Roy Wood and Ace Kefford’s sound. Meanwhile, The Alan Bown going into a fantasy mode through the early sounds of Prog-Rock of a haunting mode of Story Book with Brass and Mellotron while The Flies go into a ballad of a cold and harder edge to kill time for a Winter Afternoon.

And then, you go into a proto-punk momentum with Mick Farren and the Deviants for a harmonica-driven garage rock nugget for You’ve Got to Hold On. It has an early resemblance of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band’s Midnight Moses that has energy and power to it to get into a freak-out mode in the dance floor. There’s also the folk-side on here that shows more than just the Psychedelic, Progressive, and Underground garage rock sounds.

The folk-rock with a psych twist from Principal Edwards Magic Theatre with a stirring nightmare for the Lament for the Earth. The lyrics have a post-apocalyptic dystopian atmosphere and carry a touch of East of Eden while the ascending gentle swarming acoustic yet evocative touch of the Butterfly by The Fox and Beau’s Creation is eerie and menacing yet creepy.

You feel that you are inside the mind of a madman being locked up inside the sanitarium of how this person got inside and telling the stories of how he got there in the first place. There are some amazing tracks on this 3-CD set from Grapefruit Records have released two years ago and they have done a job well done capturing the obscure gems that have finally been released from the hidden gems. I can’t wait to hear of more and what will the label will come up next.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

IO Earth - New World

It’s been a good while since I’ve heard some excellent music from the sounds of IO Earth. After hearing their first two albums (their sole self-titled debut and Moments), which I’ve championed back in 2011 and 2012, I always thought to myself, “what am I to expect next for them?” This year, they are back in the action with new members that include Linda Odinsen on Lead Vocals, Jez King on Violin and Mandolin, and Christian Jerromes on Drums and Percussion.

Their third album entitled, New World released this year, is the soundtrack inside your mind. It’s a cross between symphonic metal, jazz, and epic film scores that will rock your earphones to see where the band takes the listener into higher levels in which they have never seen before. It gives IO Earth a chance to create and move forward in the future, and they nailed it perfectly.

Dave Cureton’s guitar is still in action through the heavier and melodic atmospheres that punches through an eruptive volcano ready to burst at any second. Which is evidential on the track, Colours before the dystopian atmospheric future comes into hand followed by the thumping bass lines from Christian Nokes as if he’s challenging the sounds of Tool’s Justin Chancellor. Not to mention the four highlights throughout the album that will make you take note of IO Earth having a nice hot and spicy tabasco burrito to share with the audience.

Now before I get into the highlights, I really was blown away by the sound of the vocals of Linda Odinsen. Her vocal arrangements are beautiful and shines like a bright diamond. And each time she sings, it’s almost as if she is right behind you and nailing it not just because it is mesmerizing, but it is done in an enthralling tone. The epic yet dramatic tones are in the style of early Within Temptation of Journey to Discovery.

The sound carries the touch of the New-Wave Pop sounds of the ‘80s followed by the Hard Rock atmosphere done by the rhythms of Dave Cureton and the thumping percussions from Christian Jerromes. Not to mention the orchestral touches to go with the flow. And Linda’s voice reminded me of Sharon Den Adel at times and she nails it each time the rhythm section follows her and seeing where she wants to go into the different road sections.

The electronic waltz-ballad featuring acoustic and electric guitar, ascends in beautifully on Fade to Grey. There is the string quartet and background and lead vocalizations followed by a sax solo from Luke Shingler. It has a Floyd-sque sound that resembles the essence of the Wish You Were Here-era and Cureton brings in front of his guitar playing to the heavens whenever he goes up and up towards the gates.

One of my favorite tracks on the album is the breathtaking improvisation of The Rising. It just sends chills down my spine that the band go through an emotional rhythm as Cureton and Shingler come into picture as both of them create some wonderful momentum. It’s sad, touching, and hits your heart in a way of the spiritual touch that carries the orchestral fire.

The New World Suite is as I’ve mentioned the soundtrack inside your head. You can imagine this being used in a fantasy/science-fiction animated superheroine movie that imagine it during the opening and ending credits and IO Earth carrying the epic scores to a "T." Strings, militant drum beats, sax, vocals, its everything there! From symphonic, jazz, and haunting melodies, the orchestral rhythm is right inside their hearts and minds when it comes to the beats and measures.

I really enjoyed IO Earth’s New World. This isn’t just a Progressive/Symphonic Metal album, this is another magnum opus that the group have brought this year's 2015 to the table. So another hats off to them for a job well done to see and hear where the band will go into the next side of the door to see which roads will take them. As Marvel's Stan "The Man" Lee would say, "Excelsior!"

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Throne of Molok - Beat of Apocalypse

Throne of Molok are a quartet from Palmero, Italy that have a touch of the Industrial vibe that will send shivers down the spines like there is no tomorrow. It’s a combination between Thrash, Death, and Cyber Metal with an extreme attitude that will give you a huge electrical shock and make you take cover on what is to come and what to expect of a band that is blistering and volcanic for the future of years and years in the 22nd century.

Their third album entitled, Beat of Apocalypse released on the Beyond Productions label is the soundtrack for the end of the world and the music is like a powder keg ready to go off at any moment. And the explosion is eruptive and in your face! They have been around since forming in 2004. And with three albums and one demo released along with various line-up changes, this is a group that will get the heads banging at the right moment for a dangerous adventure.

There are ten tracks (two of which are bonus tracks) on here and it is fast-driven, energetic, electronic, and an astonishing punch. As I’ve mentioned about the drums in previous reviews on some of the Metal bands, the drums are in the sounds of a rapid-fire machine gun reigning bullets to attack that go for about 500 beats per minute. Not to mention both the guitars and the synths followed by the pounding metallic bass coming at you with a full knockout drilling galore!

What I like about their third album, alongside the extreme and technical metallic balls-to-the-wall unexpected momentum, it has an aggressive throttle that carry the spirit of Pantera as if they were from the future and creating music for that time frame in the dystopian society that will have jaw-dropping momentum. And the insanity and perfection flows in well like a spark ready to ignite for a gigantic inferno at the right rhythm for the fireball to hit.

This is my fourth listen to Throne of Molok’s Beat of Apocalypse. And I have to admit, while I’m not crazy about their work, this is an eruptive piece of work that the group have unleashed for the attack to begin. So if you are ready for a dosage of Black, Technical, and Speed Metal, then it is time to get your seat buckled on a dangerous roller-coaster ride for the music of the Throne of Molok. Just be warned when you put this bad boy on and turned it up at maximum volume!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Landmarq - Roadskil: Live in the Netherlands

Neo-Progressive Rock band Landmarq have been around since their formation back in 1990. And with various line-up changes, they are for me, brilliant, symphonic, and touching. This is my first time listening to their music and this CD/DVD set of their performance in the Netherlands entitled Roadskill, it shows you that you can close your eyes and imagine yourself being at the performance being blown away at each composition they nail in the history of their music for 25 years.

Now for me, I have a soft-spot for the Neo-Prog genre. Bands such as Marillion (Fish-era), Solstice, Pallas, and Magenta to name a few. And for me, I’ve adore the music of Landmarq since listening to the live album. When you watch and listen to the performance on both CD and DVD, it’s almost that you as a listener, and a watcher, have front-row seats to experience the band at its finest at the De Boerdij on Zoetermeer, Holland back in 2013.

Songs like the breathtaking piece, Personal Universe is an ascending experience as Uwe D’rose’s guitar fly’s into the skies through the essence of Steve Hackett and Mike Varty’s keyboard gives it a melodic and symphonic structure as they head into the resemblance of Genesis’ Wind & Wuthering-era and Derek & The Dominoes Bell Bottom Blues. Tracy Hitchings is smooth and relaxing to follow in the footsteps of Kate Bush and you can imagine the audience being in awe of the song and moved into tears of the piece.

The 14-minute Thunderstruck is a gripping yet jazzier masterpiece. It starts off with the first four minutes with a Yes meets ELP sound with a mid-tempo rhythm thanks to the pummeling drumbeats by Daniel Martin and swirling improvisation by Mike. And then it changes into Bluesy-Jazz sound in the essence almost of a cross between Monk and Nina Simone before Varty goes into Canterbury town for a brief second and then goes back in there in the styles of Caravan, Egg, and Hatfield and the North.

It is an unexpected twist, but it works very well for Mike’s inspirations of the Prog sounds with a big touch. Not to mention the ambient sounds in the forest before Uwe comes back in with his instrument to give the climatic end to a roaring cheer and applause. Landmarq also show their softer side to find hope of survival and those who are in the war or have disappeared to give a signal of a prayer.

The song, Prayer (Coming Home) carries the similarities of ABBA as Tracy’s vocals sparkles beautifully and Mike’s grand piano sound, gives it an emotional beauty and the audiences I can imagine holding their lighters up as Tracy nails it at the right exact moment. And Landmarq have achieved the goal in the Netherlands.

Now for Uwe D’rose, his Guitar playing is brilliant, mesmerizing, and spellbinding. I love what he does as if he is a painter as he chooses the right colors to see where the flow of the brush goes into. And with Entertaining Angels, his improvisations goes into a whole new area in the styles of David Gilmour from the sounds of Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell sessions and the essence of Touchstone.

I have to say after listening about two times and watching the DVD, it is perhaps an excellent live performance that they have unleashed this year. And while I’m new to Landmarq’s music, I’m impressed and in awe of what I’ve watched and listened from beginning, middle, and into the very end. This is their crowning fulfillment.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Fierce and the Dead - Magnet

It’s been two years since we’ve heard new music from one of the most mind-blowing instrumental group, The Fierce and the Dead. They are for me, powerful, exaggerating, and eruptive to give you the ultimate unexpected momentum with a dosage of shock treatment. This year, they have released their new EP from the Bad Elephant Music label entitled, Magnet. They have been around for five years now and there is absolutely no stop sign for them to see where they will go next into.

There are six tracks on the new EP which include three new compositions that will make you embark on the jump for hyper-speed of a sonic-post-rock adventure into unbelievable results. It is mesmerizing, melodic, compelling, and irresistible. Matt Stevens’ guitar just hits you in the stomach whenever he would come up with heavy and melodic moments that would send the gods more rain and thunder with electrical vibes to have a stunning surprise.

The earth-shattering Palm Trees creates the mood between good and evil with a dystopian atmosphere creating calm and ominous sinister tones to see where the band would go into. At first it starts off with a joyful melody in the styles of Knifeworld before it ascends up into the clouds with a soaring sound before it transforms into a cavernous sound from Kevin Feazy’s fuzztone bass and then ending in a disturbing climatic crescendo.

Throttle, driven, and with a mid-fast tempo, the opener, Magnet in your Face is a post-punk adventure between rhythm and lead from Steve Cleaton and Matt as they go into a punching rhythm/lead section to see where they would go into while the essence resembling the touches of Tangerine Dream and Vangelis gives it a landscaping ambient/atmosphere before heading into the electronic drumbeat into the future for Part 6 (The Eighth Circuit).

It is almost as if The Fierce and the Dead were making an alternate soundtrack to Blade Runner for this composition and it works out well. The re-recording of Flint which originally appeared on their debut album, If It Carries on Like This We Are Moving to Morcambe back in 2011, is very spacey and has a catchy rhythm thanks to the drumming techniques of Stuart Marshall as he takes center stage throughout the piece.

The other two tracks (Let’s Start a Cult and Spooky Action) are recorded live during their rehearsals. And you can tell that listening to these compositions, they are having a blast as it’s a Punk-Prog-Math Rock adventure to go into those stop-and-go sections and punch it down perfectly! And not to mention their homage to The Stranglers in the last track is a real treat for the first minute before the relaxing section and going off into the heavens to close it off into the late ‘70s Post-Punk sound.

Complex, powerful, and fascinating, The Fierce and the Dead are back in action again. And they will be playing at the Arctangent festival with the Dillinger Escape Plan, Deerhoof, Emma Ruth Rundle, and 65daysofstatic to name a few on August 20th to the 22nd of this year. So it is going to be in the big leagues now for the group. Magnet is a welcoming EP for the group and I was on the edge of my seat from start to finish.

And if they have a lot more coming up, I hope they have a lot of magic tricks in their sleeves to see what they will do next. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Jethro Tull - A Passion Play: An Extended Performance

In 1973, Jethro Tull released in which it is considered perhaps one of the most controversial albums during that time period. After their satirical approach of the concept album in the Monty Python-sque way with their fifth album Thick as a Brick, the band took the concept storyline a step further in telling the story about living in the afterlife with A Passion Play. With the essence of saxophone, unexpected changes, flute, organ, keyboards, and heavy guitars, they knew they had step into the firing line.

That and this 2-CD/2-DVD set released last year under the helm by Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson who tweaked it up for a new stereo mix. And listening to this again, again, and again, I was completely blown away of what has been brought to the table. Originally, when A Passion Play was released, the critics slammed it including Tull supporter and writer, Chris Welch who famously wrote the bad review in a two-page spread for the Melody Maker at the time Tull was performing at London’s Empire Pool in Wembley for two nights to promote the album, entitled “Crime of Passion”.

The DVD features the short film that was in the tour of The Story of the Hare Who Lost his Spectacles told by bassist Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond in his homage to Eric Idle. And it also features both the original 1973 mix, the 5.1 mix, and the intro and the outro film of the ballerina portrayed by Jane Colthorpe who would later be one of Benny Hill’s Love Machine.

The origin story behind the Passion Play concept started out at the Chateau D’Heriouville in which they recorded the sessions for their follow to TAAB. But it didn’t go according to plan due to food poisoning, technical problems, dormitories, and not to mention bed bugs to go with it. You can imagine the atmosphere wasn’t a pleasant experience during in which it is now known entitled the Chateau D’isaster which it is on the second disc.

After parts of the sessions were recorded at the Chateau, they left Paris and headed back to London at Morgan Studios and started back from the drawing board in which the Passion Play album was recorded. The set features an 80-page booklet that talks about the history of the album, Steven Wilson’s thoughts on the remixing of the project, and the Tour as well.

What I love what Steven Wilson does is to make it almost very much a director’s cut of how Jethro Tull took to make the music of pushing the envelope a step further. You have the dramatic heavy guitar and organ section between Martin Barre and John Evan’s organ on the disastrous incident at the theater with No Rehearsal and the ascending beauty of No Sailor while Ian Anderson’s haunting acoustic guitar lines fill the echoing halls of Ronnie trip to meet Lucifer in Hell for The Foot of our Stairs which features an unreleased 50-second lyrics that was taken out, now in its glory.

The evidence in the pudding of the dramatic proof of what damages that Pilgrim did for the Critique Oblique while the video showing his life of the different time changes for the Memory Bank gives it more on what is happening to him. It’s very much like a movie inside your mind. The only two tracks that were a part of the Chateau sessions would later be on their seventh album, War Child features the dazzling versions of Only Solitaire and Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day are spot on wonderful.

This is a brilliant set that I was really excited for because for me, I’m a huge fan of A Passion Play. Yes, it’s dividing a line in the sand between Tull fans to accept it or not, yes it’s self-indulgent, pretentious, and mad, but I will defend this album until the day I die. Ian shows he has an amazing sense of humor and the return to a rush along the Fulham road in the ever house of the Passion Play, is here in all of its glory.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Apneica - Pulsazioni...Conversione

Carrying the essence of early Opeth, Katatonia, and Neurosis, this quintet originally started out as a solo project by guitarist Alessandro Seghene in which it was self-released four years ago. The music itself is Dark, Atmospheric, Gothic, and the touches of the Post-Doom Metal genre. Apneica are carry the power of the music and their debut EP entitled, Pulsazioni…Conversione released on the Club Inferno label which is a part of the My Kingdom Music family.

There are four compositions on the album and each track is hypnotic, scary, and intense. Each of the tracks clock in between 5, 6, and 7 minutes long with its combination between melodic and sinister elements from the instruments to create an evocative ambience to see where the band heads into. There is the cleaning guitar/vocal lines in the Post-Rock and then transforming into a shattering force of a death growl rumble in the metallic punch that comes out of nowhere.

It’s almost to be prepare something unexpected on what Apneica will do next and it is almost both clean and fierce at the same time. And what they do is not a bad combination, but nailing it each time throughout the four compositions that is on the EP. The dooming and black metal followed by the Post genre sounds flow in an interesting way that is scary, calm, and heavy.

And what Apneica do in the rhythm section, is to not make it just scary, scary, and not just shoegazing music, but having the surroundings of a dream with melodious potential matters. This is my 3rd time listening to Apneica’s EP. And even though I’m not sold and not crazy about it, they have something in them. All in all, this is a very interesting and solid sound on the four compositions. And it is a formidable brilliance I have listened to. 

So, as I've mentioned before in my introduction, if love the Gothic, Doom, and the Post-Rock sounds, then check out Apneica's Pulsazioni...Conversione.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Procol Harum - Shine On Brightly

By 1968, Procol Harum were already hitting the charts with songs like A Whiter Shade of Pale and Homburg. They didn’t want to be known as just one-hit wonders, but move into something more grandiose and almost a masterpiece to give it a real surprise. That and the release of their second album entitled Shine On Brightly released on Christmas 1968, was a landmark, an epic proportion, and the birth of Progressive Rock. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was the little flower seed, Procol Harum’s follow up was the bursting galore of its magnum opus.

This 3-CD Set which includes both the Stereo and the unreleased Mono version, followed by the unreleased material and BBC Sessions they did for Top Gear, is reissued by the good people from Esoteric Recordings, is a gem of a kind. In the set, there is a poster that includes lyrics from the album, three postcards of replica artwork from the San Francisco International Pop Festival, and two from Detroit’s Grande Ballroom. There is also a 23-page booklet which features interviews with the band about the making of the album and the liner notes done by Procol expert, Henry Scott-Irvine.

The bursting of ascending chords between Matthew Fisher’s Organ and Robin Trower’s guitar for the title track, is a killer. Matthew really brings the heavenly sounds from his Hammond for the heavens in the midsection that is a flying up into the sky momentum and it’s one of the best pieces along with the Italian version which is a bonus track on disc one that Brooker nails it in the language.

The kicking opener of Quite Rightly So, which in a strange way is psalm rock at its best as the lyrics tell about a lost letter to the United States as the mysterious yet catchy melody in which they do a take of Khachaturian’s The Sabre Dance at the very end for a fast and quirky finale on Skip Softly (My Moonbeams). Then, Procol Harum get down to the Blues Rock sound from Robin’s guitar for a clapping rhythm in the essence of a Gospel sing-along for Wish Me Well.

The danger on everything being fiction goes back into ascending beauty with emotions of seeing the original Batman movie starring Adam West and Burt Ward and flying into the skies as Robin is just hammering it down as BJ Thomas helps out through in what he will come up with next for Rambling On. The mournful Magdalene (My Regal Zonophone) is very much like a funeral song as BJ does a militant feel in the style of the Salvation Army on the snare drum as Brooker sings gentle before going to the Mellotron in a Horn section at the very end section for background vocalizations .

Then, we have come to the 17-minute epic of all epics, In Held ‘Twas In I. This is where I mentioned before, the birth of Progressive Rock was born and where they gave birth to their magnum opus of a dystopian tale. The droning psychedelic spoken-word done by Gary of the tale of the Dalai Lama for the Glimpses of Nirvana before the band reach a dramatic ascending lift and Keith Reid coming on the doubting Thomas that will send shivers down your spine.

The tolling bells and heading off into the circus to watch the performers do their tricks in honor of King Jimi (Hendrix) on ‘Twas Teatime at the Circus. You could tell the band had a great time on this track being the audience applauding, cheering for the performers before the sound of a Nuclear weapon going off. In comes Matthew Fisher’s vocals of dealing with someone going insane during In the Autumn of my Madness.

In the piece, we are almost inside the mind of a person going into a deep dark depression and going nuts in an asylum as Matthew sings “For the milk has finally curdled/and I’ve nothing to say/When all my thoughts are spoken (save my last departing birds)/ Bring all my friends unto me and I’ll strangle them with words.” The effects of a car horn and ambulance sirens going off and the instruments going into a climatic haywire as shouts and screams in the person, makes you know something terrible is about to happen

The nightmarish and the struggle of finding peace on Look to your Soul starts with a dooming terror of the band followed by Robin’s guitar melody that have a tempo between sinister and goose bumping atmosphere. Dealing with the damage that this person does on the incidents that have happened, that the choice of living amongst the dead is the only option to stop hurting everybody.

The Grand Finale is the signal of hope and giving a second chance in life. The sound of the choral vocals and starting a new chapter in heaven, is a perfect send-off and a powerful closing melody from the band in an orchestral touch. It would also give the group to go into the symphonic route which would later be used in A Salty Dog which would be their third album.

I’m very proud in what Mark Powell has done with this. For me, being a Procol Harum fan, this was a crowning achievement in what Esoteric Recordings have done to have it at the right correct speed and its top notch at its best. This is a highly recommend 3-CD set for any fan in the realms of PH or Prog fan to sink their teeth into. And if you want proof, just ask Pete Townshend about where the inspirations for his 1969 classic rock opera Tommy came from.

Ligro - Dictionary 3

It’s been three years since we heard some amazing and brilliant sounds from the music of Ligro. One of the most mind-blowing trios from Indonesia that are carrying the powers of Jazz Fusion and Prog after the release of their 2012 second album, Dictionary 2. This year they are back again with their follow up entitled, Dictionary 3 released on the MoonJune label and it’s a knockout release for 2015.  

With the release of their third album, the trio go into a deeper yet darker cavernous place that just send a shiver down my spine. It is a visual environment that works between the throttle and going on the ledge to see what is going to happen next on which direction they will go into. Guitarist Agam Hamzah shines brightly through his guitar improvisations. He isn’t just a regular guitarist, but he nails it each time he goes through the frets, it’s mind-blowing and raw.

And on the 14-minute opener, Bilker 4, Agam takes up a notch followed by guest pianist Ade Irawan, who goes through some amazing Jazz-like bebop reminiscences of Thelonious Monk and Oscar Peterson. It is a jaw-dropping moment between himself and Ade as drummer Gusti Hendi and bassist Adi Dharmawan help along to see where they are going into next.

Pentagonal Krisis is a 15-minute adventure. It starts off with a slow introduction before Hamzah moves into some ominous and darker twists while Gusti creates the tension on his kit to set the mood and atmosphere. Then, it builds up and up to let the nightmare begin. Think Amon Duul II’s Phallus Dei-era and King Crimson’s Starless and Bible Black & Larks’ Tongues in Aspic-era having a nice BBQ and creating suspense and terror of experimental jazz rock like no other!

Tragic Hero begins with Adi’s sinister bass line as Gusti and Agam go through the improv in the Crimson mode before ascending into a punching yet thunderous roar from Agam’s rhythm to reach the climatic storm. Hamzah really goes into town in the Mahavishnu Orchestra styles with a vengeance as the knives come out ready for attack mode but then he calms and does McLaughlin and Fripp-sque improvisations as Adi follows him on the Bass funk-jazz mode.

Now when I first heard The 20th Century Collaseu, my gut reaction was at first, this will give the trio a chance to take a break from the intense and cavernous pieces, but I was wrong. They come back into the action after a quiet movement for the first two minutes. It’s menacing, threatening and the “Wow!” moment has clicked my ears with a real jolt!

Gusti is really heading into town in a NASCAR sort of way as he takes his drums out for a fast-driven spin at 800 miles per hour whilst Hamzah is in the lead going for a dangerous yet savage guitar playing as the two of them along with Adi are in for the ride to know what is happening. This is a track that you really, really, really need to play this at Maximum Volume!

The closer, Lonely Planet is finally giving Ligro, a chance to relax after the thunderstorms have cleared. It’s laid-back with a melodic chill. Not to mention Agam’s bluesy twist through his solo and Gusti’s percussion that almost resembles the finale to Black Sabbath’s Planet Caravan. But then the last 2-minutes of the track they close it off with an unexpected leap out-of-your-seat moment of the Metallic crunch! And that, for me, is a brilliant way to end the album on a high note!

Dictionary 3 is a chilling, powerful return for Ligro to give the goods and they brought it to the table with a dosage of intensity of Metal, Jazz, and Prog into a yummy hot and spicy Tabasco Burrito. Leonardo Pavkovic is almost very much, a Sherlock Holmes of finding amazing bands for MoonJune Records and the label never disappoints me when it comes to a group like Ligro.

So if you are ready for an intense journey into caves of metallic hard jazz-rock adventure, play this up to 11!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Lucifer's Friend - Awakening

This 2-CD set considers a welcoming return to one of the most often overlooked bands in the history of Progressive Rock. Lucifer’s Friend are a Hard/Prog Rock band that formed in Hamburg in 1969 and they are perhaps one of the most cult following groups that released their mind-blowing self-titled debut album and were often pioneers of early Heavy Metal in the time period with the essence of Deep Purple and Iron Maiden thrown in, thanks to the voice of John Lawton.

Lawton’s voice captures the essence of Lucifer’s Friend’s music as I could imagine people like the late great Ronnie James Dio of Rainbow/Black Sabbath and Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden looked up to him. He carries the sounds of Ian Gillian and David Coverdale both the in the Purple sound and he nails it through the high-ranging voices that he brings to give it a real jolt!

They went on to release six albums before John jumped ship to join up with Uriah Heep and the band called it a day in 1982. Twenty years later, they are back and are going to headline the Sweden Rock Festival. And I can imagine the fans flying or going there to witness the return of one of the most mind-blowing bands that will make their jaws-drop at the right moment.

Songs like the driven eruptive yet blistering adventure for the Ride the Sky, kicks things off into high gear. Blaring guitars, roaring Organs, and an explosive French horn section done by Peter Hecht and not to mention his touch of Jon Lord’s homage on the instrument, it is a killer! In the Time of Job is raw and a riding adventure that resembles the glory days of Atomic Rooster while they show their softer side on Burning Ships.

On this track, they have a lukewarm acoustic upbeat tempo as John calms his voice so that he along with Peter Hesslein lay down the calm momentum as the horn of the ships sound off for another trip down by the ocean and watch the boats go off into exploration. But then they moved away from the Prog Rock sound, into more of a Hard Rock sound which is evidential in the sounds of Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow on Fugitive.

You have to love Dieter Horns bass starting off with a pumping introduction as he goes into an enthralling sound as he takes center stage to go not just into a Metal sound, but a touch of Jazz on his instrument to give it a score for the suspect on the run from the police. But even though they carry the hard rock sound, there’s also the Album Orientated Rock sound which they did extremely well on the piano thumping and ‘80s rocking punch that could have been an FM favorite in the resemblance of the Scorpions for Fire and Rain and heading out into the highway with heavy guitar rhythms and riffs on Hey Driver.

The second disc features new tracks including the symphonic and futuristic orchestral for Pray and the heavy moog done by Yugi Wichman and guitars followed by Stephan Eggart’s drumming is elevated on Riding High. There’s also the thunderous and majestic sounds between rhythm and lead guitar, drums, and keyboards that is soon going to be a sing-along fan favorite for Did You Ever as they close it off in the styles of a sliding bluesy twist on the crossroads to continue for This Road.

While this is my introduction into the music of Lucifer’s Friend, I was on the edge of my seat almost head-banging to each track and just couldn’t get enough of their music. Even the original albums might be either out of print or hard to find, this is a perfect introduction for the band’s music in my opinion. This is an amazing compilation and welcoming return for a group that could have given Led Zeppelin and UFO a big run for their money.

Opposite Day - Space Race Taste Part 2

For me, this is going to be the “Holy Crap!” momentum when I first heard it. Opposite Day are a trio from Austin, Texas and they have been around for 14 years and this was a revelation when I listened to their music on their website and knowing right away I was completely jaw dropped the moment I listened to it. Math, Prog, Pop, Punk, and Alternative, it is everything in the gigantic pudding for them.

The group have done alternate soundtrack scores for the original 1982 Disney cult classic Tron and covering Madonna’s glory years in the ‘80s. Not to mention the intense signatures and rhythmic patterns that will make you say “What was that?! What did they just do all of a sudden?!” The trio considers; Sam Arnold on Lead Vocals, Guitar, Greg Yancey on Bass Guitar and Vocals, and Pat Kennedy on Drums, Octopad, and Percussion.

Their new album entitled Space Race Taste Part 2 is a balls to the wall knockout experience. It’s a mixture between Knifeworld, Frank Zappa, Mr. Bungle, Cardiacs, and Faith No More into a big yet gigantic hot and spicy tabasco burrito that will make your mouth on fire for more. Futuristic, mind-blowing, captivating, and in your face, Opposite Day brought the four elements into an energetic yet unexpected glory.

I could tell Sam is following in the footsteps of Tim Smith, Adrian Belew, and Mike Patton as if they are watching him and being in awe and knowing that he has accomplished very well to bring the powers and the glory of Opposite Day’s inspirations. Not only Sam’s guitar playing is phenomenal and playing both in rhythm and lead, but Greg’s bass, and Pat’s drumming give it the jump to light speed and seeing where the Falcon is going to take them next into the solar systems they would leap into.

Yet the unexpected momentum are well-written and the capabilities are vital and dynamic. But with ascending beauty. This is so far, my tenth time listening to Opposite Day’s Space Race Taste Part 2. And I’m completely hooked after enjoying another ride on their amazing Millennium Falcon in which I bet Han Solo gave it to them and see where the music and fantastic voyages they would go into would surprise a lot of the up-and-coming bands to see how they did it.

The torches for the bands along with Zappa and Mr. Bungle have now been carried in Sam’s, Greg’s and Pat’s to make sure the flaming fire will keep going to see where the journey will take them into next. So if you like me, love twisted signatures, math-prog-punk-pop, and almost a dosage of MoeTar to go with it, and the true essence of the concept storyline on a travelling adventure to see what the other planets taste like, then enjoy the ride of Opposite Day’s music. You won’t be disappointed!  

The Magik Way - Curve Sternum

Since forming nineteen years ago in the cold winters of Italy, The Magik Way’s music is a darker and very ominous surrounding ritual of the occult music with an experimental twist. Carrying the essence of Ulver, Devil Doll, and Jacula, This year, they have released their new album released on the Sad Sun Music label entitled, Curve Sternum.

It’s been years and a while since they released any new material since 2013’s Materia Occulta 1997-1999 which was early releases of their work back in the late ‘90s. And now with the return of The Magik Way to rein in more of the occult sound, it seems like it’s a welcoming unexpected momentum of the band to bring in more of what is about to come here.

Folk, Avant-Garde, and Dark Experimental music, it’s everything on this album. Including spoken in a snarling and clean way that is presented throughout the entire compositions. Since I’ve mentioned about the Folk genre, it is a dark Folk-Experimental Metal album that will send shivers down your spine for the instruments to come in to get the goosebumps ready for the right spot.

The clock ticking melody along with the minor acoustic guitar introduction and bass sets the tension for the rhythm that is almost inside the mind of an insane person for I Corpi Peasanti. The droning-clicking tapping sounds from the keyboards and the rumbling, which is evidential on La Mano Raccogile, starts off with a folk-like tradition for the first two minutes and then the drums come kicking in followed by operatic vocals in a stop-and-go surrealism.

The chanting of Yod-He-Vau-He, has an dooming droning surrealism following the basslines, double-tracking vocals, acoustic rhythm guitars, and the sound of a clank that you can imagine them working with Pierre Henry over this piece that would give the classical composers a real shock surprise while L’orroe begins with a bass that resembles the essence of Tool’s music from the touches of Lateralus and Undertow.

The guitar parts are in a waltz-like structure and perhaps one of the most powerful pieces that is on here and then it builds up and up to a climatic finale and then it calms down for the finale for the bass to give it a haunting end. The Magik Way’s music, I will admit, and their new album, Curve Sternum is not easy to listen to from start to finish.

I’m not really crazy about the album, however it would be really neat to see where they would go next for the next roads that will take them into. Am I crazy about them? Not really, but, this is a interesting yet gripping material that The Magik Way have brought on here.