Friday, September 30
Wednesday, September 28
"Healing whispers of the angels bring the sunrise again..."
Thus sayeth the wise Edu Falaschi in the first few minutes of Angra's momentous return to form after parting ways with previous members Andre Matos, Ricardo Confessori (destined to return for 2010's "Aqua"), and Luis Mariutti. Just as many fans were left wondering what was to become of the band, "Rebirth" dropped jaws worldwide while baptizing the new lineup in a whole new high-octane style of power-prog that offered more punch and complexity than the band's previous efforts.
While the Brazilians previously established themselves as one of the premier metal acts in their home country with great records like "Holy Land" and "Angels Cry", the intensity of "Rebirth" left them alone at the top of the heap in their chosen genre. Not only did the band rebound quickly from losing half its members, but managed to write its strongest material yet. While the prelude/opening song combination has always been a strong point for Angra, "In Excelsis" and "Nova Era" take this strength to new heights, and the combination is one of my very favorites at the beginning of an album. Also known for blending tempos and incorporating native Brazilian elements and conventional symphonic sounds, "Rebirth" brings these sounds to the forefront, in addition to emphasizing the band's guitar work like never before.
Need evidence of the maturity of the band's composition? Look no further than the sublimely epic "Acid Rain", the breathtaking "Running Alone", or the superb blend of indigenously inspired melodies and power metal speed of "Unholy Wars". Even at their softer moments, the ballad "Heroes Of Sand" and the moderate title track, Angra has never to this day written more infectious and accessible material. The dual fire-spitting guitar attack of Loureiro and Bittencourt, always been a cornerstone, has manifested here in the fastest, most impressive example of their work together. From this point forward, it more or less became expected from them on every album.
"Rebirth" stands alone amongst Angra's catalog as being the one true example of pure high-speed melodic power metal that the band has produced. While highly technical, it doesn't have the pronounced progressive flair of the group's later albums, while simultaneously featuring much more bombast and dramatics than earlier efforts like "Holy Land" and "Fireworks". Along with the mighty "Temple Of Shadows", this is generally considered to be the band's finest work, and for good enough reason.
A couple of listens through will have any fan of fine progressive power on their knees, weeping and blubbering for mercy. Though it's a happy, religious-tuned, and rip-roaring power metal adventure, most metal fans will find something to appreciate on "Rebirth" (which is perhaps one of the most apt album titles I've ever come across). Some might call “Rebirth” the album that Angra produced before they "focused their energy" and created the epic “Temple Of Shadows”, but I think that this work was instrumental in phasing the band from one era to another, and what better way to do it than fill it with the galloping power metal that appears occasionally on albums across the rest of their career?
Angra is clearly pleased with this effort, and so overwhelmingly am I. As Edu stated for the band, it’s “time to fly”.
The Protagonist's Rating: 4.75 out of 5
Dagg’s rating: 4.75/5
Tuesday, September 27
The Writ of the Sword
“The Writ of the Sword” is the sophomore album by Finnish metal band Crimfall. This band really made a bit of a splash in the scene with their debut “As the Path Unfolds…” which, from what I heard was mostly worthy of its praise. However, Crimfall seems to have fallen victim to the dreaded curse of the second album.
For one to label this band with a genre is rather difficult, as they cross many boundary lines. They use the dual vocalist system, switching between clean, folksy female vocals and harsh growls and screams, which are fairly common of folk metal. The performances of both vocalists are amiable, even if there are some vocal lines that aren’t all that great and some of the high pitched growls are weak.
Apart from the vocals, there are quite a few violin passages which add to the folk feeling. There are a few symphonic elements, however they’re far between and don’t add much to the overall sound. Choirs and chants are more common and more effective.
There are a couple of acoustic guitar passages that are rather compelling, but apart from that, the guitar is mostly uninteresting and boring. There is a real lack of entertaining riffs, and the few solos that there are, are very simplistic, emotionless and quite frankly a waste of time. Having some obvious melodic death metal influences didn’t help their cause, as they tended to take weaker aspects that tend to appear in the genre. There are some great drum moments on this however, which makes up for the lack of inspirational guitar playing.
Despite having very talented musicians, the lack of inspiration in the majority of the song writing really holds this album back. Being a young band however, they do have potential to make something of themselves yet.
Claus’ Rating 2.25 /5
Monday, September 26
I'm going to assume that most of you know a bit about Opeth. Whether you like them or not, you have to admit their importance as one of the most influential metal bands of the last twenty years. Since the release of the groundbreaking "Orchid" in 1995, they have constantly pushed their unique brand of progressive death metal in ever new and surprising directions, freely adding hints of folk, jazz, progressive rock, and whatever else mastermind Mikael Åkerfeldt wants to play. Within this paradigm, they have carved out their own very specialized niche in the world of metal. However, Opeth has never been known to shy away from experimentaion (see 2003's mellowed-out "Damnation"), and their latest offering, "Heritage," marks another rather dramatic shift in their sound.
Thursday, September 22
Wednesday, September 21
SpaceKev's Rating: 3.75 out of 5
Tuesday, September 20
Monday, September 19
Dagg's rating: 4/5
Friday, September 16
Thursday, September 15
Wednesday, September 14
Tuesday, September 13
Ночь оденет тебе свой венец (Night Shall Crown Ye)
Артания (Artania) is a symphonic black metal band from Voronezh, Russia, and this is their debut album. While many people stray from more mainstream symphonic black metal bands such as Dimmu Borgir or Cradle of Filth, this appeals to both fans of the aforementioned bands, and general metal lovers.
This album tends to avoid many of the pitfalls of typical black metal, such as pointless tremolo riffs, but also lacks a genuine spark of creativity. There are some decent, heavy riffs, but they are fairly typical, and rarely ever take attention. There is, however, a guitar solo on San-Grinyol (Theatre Of Death) that is actually very good, which is a nice change for black metal. Acoustic guitars pop up from time to time, and add another dimension to music, which is needed. The drums however, tend to take up much attention, as the double bass is very prominent and powerful. Vocals take much of the spotlight here, a trend that seems to follow the genre, showcasing a mid-pitched growl or scream, which is very well done. This is countered with more operatic female vocals, however they also border on very aggressive, which is a different take on a genre trait such as this. Keys are audible, however they don’t show up very often, and symphonic elements are also somewhat scarce.
The only place where this album lacks is song writing. Apart from a few passages here and there, nothing is particularly catchy or amazing. While this is good in the sense that production is solid, the individual performances are well played, and they complement each other, but there seems to be this lack of imaginative spark, which would really make the whole album fantastic. I understand that this is a young band, and first albums aren’t always that great, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and wait to see what they have in store.
While there is nothing really wrong with this album, it just doesn’t seem to be able to stand up to bands like Tvangeste, Bal-Sagoth, or any of the genre stalwarts of the last 20 or so years. This is a first album, and I expect that this band will continue to experiment and find themselves an original sound that may take them places. A good listen for fans of symphonic black metal, but otherwise, it may be a mediocre first recording.
Claus’ Rating 3/5
Thursday, September 8
The Battle of God
Wednesday, September 7
Dagg’s rating: 3.75/5
Tuesday, September 6
Blackness and White Light
Even though this band name could make one think of this as a gory death metal band, this is actually in a heavy/doom/gothic metal vein. Rusty is actually one Austrian dude, who taught himself multiple instruments in his quest for making music. This is a very DIY album, which isn’t in the black metal genre, which is quite rare. Except for the drums and female vocals, all guitars, bass, keys, and vocals were performed by Rusty.
This album is hard to classify, as I haven’t really heard anything quite like it before. Just from the production, I can tell that this was either a DIY album, or a decently produced black metal one. He has sighted Bathory as an influence, so that may be where the production stems from. However, the music is very diverse, with acoustic guitars making the occasional appearance, as well as keys and some atypical percussion. The guitars are well played, keys are effective and drumming is pretty good. Overall, all instruments are written and played with emotion and a decent degree of skill.
However, this album isn’t without its flaws. The vocals on here range from not very good to just terrible. The female vocals on Amok are just terrible. However, the vocal lines are quite well written, if a good singer were behind them, it would have made the whole album much more enjoyable. Apart from that, there are no real flaws, just a lack of amazing content. None of this really sticks in your head, and it doesn’t have the “wow factor” that can warrant a great score. This is a very personal album, and I think that the only person out there that can truly appreciate this fully would be its creator. There are no tracks that clearly rise above the others, they all have their moments of disinterest, but they have their good moments too, and overall, this is a positive experience.
Although having some flaws, Rusty Pacemaker has created a decently enjoyable album that is an extremely emotional soundscape that may not be for all. However, I believe that the only opinion that truly counts for this album is Rusty’s.
Claus’ Rating 2.75/5