When you hear the word ‘Symphonic’ tied to anything in the progressive metal or rock communities your automatic preconceived notion is something over the top. Other general notions are it is heavy laden with choirs and backed by a orchestra of sorts. While most of those qualities do exist for the majority of ‘Symphonic’ music it is not really the situtaion with Canada’s Evereal. It would appear that the members of Evereal have taken a more basic and modest simplicity in their approach with their self titled debut album. You could say ‘Less is much more’ with their self titled debut.
Since this is a new band on the global music scene here is a brief biography courtesy of the bands official website, Facebook and ArtistEcard profile.
Evereal started as a studio project born of the writing process. Evereal was created by Guitarist Stephen Roberts in 2011. The concept was to recruit musicians to write and record music with emphasis on groove and melodic content utilizing symphonic qualities, The band went through several roster changes over those first couple years, then along came keyboardist David Bevis and singer Stephanie Neufeld. It was now the Evereal project began to take shape. They quickly recruited Drummer Rob Queen and Bassist Gord Esau to solidify the lineup. The group now finds themselves working towards the end goal of creating music of complexity, while retaining groove within the layers of symphonic sound. The end result is Evereal. The band launched a successful kickstarter campaign that saw the band raise $10,000 towards completion of their debut album. This was followed by a worldwide distribution and promotion deal with 7Hard records Germany (part of the 7US media group). The CD is scheduled for release in January 2017.
I believe it was this ‘Grass Roots’ spirit of self financing and fan financing the album that led the band to the appropriate mindset to keep the album in its most modest, simple and humble for. This also allowed the band to have some product by which they could perform on stage in a live setting and perhaps be invited to tour or participate in the global progressive rock/metal or other festivals. Now let me get to some highlights off every track on Evereal’s self titled debut.
Psycho opens up with a very strange spoken word section that is working in tandem with a very abstract guitar chord progression. Then there is some thunderous rhythm section until the vocal comes in. The vocal on the main verse and chorus is very ethereal in nature. This is a straight away modern progressive metal track otherwise. It definitely sets the rest of the album up for a listening journey.
Frost Sign begins with a very beautiful piano before being accompanied by the lead guitar and a full chord progression passage. The vocals remain on point both crystal clear and on perfect pitch. This track is a very rhythm section based track where everything from the vocal to stringed section follow the lead of the rhythm narrative. It even does so when the guitar solo comes in. Stephanie Neufeld – Vocals, sounds like a beautiful hybrid of Liv Kristine meets Sharon Den Adel of Within Temptation.
Caution starts out with a spoken word section. Lyrically this song is loaded with a great deal of social and political commentary. The instrument narrative goes in and out from a down tempo with symphonic atmosphere’s. The harder portions are very rhythm section based driving th track. Both the atmospheric and heavier instrument portions run in a good tight harmony with one another. The guitar solo’s are heavily atmospheric laden as well.
Sinful opens up with a lush isolated piano passage almost ballad like. The track progressively builds towards the heavier elements of the song. There are some nice breaks between heavy and symphonic atmospheres that allow the track to breath for the listener. The bass serves both as a melodic and percussive instrument as well. This track is well executed in the album arrangement as a collective and in the perfect spot.
Veil starts out with some nasty verbal manipulation effects before exploding into a thunderous rhythm section. The down tuned bass and guitar give the track a lot of attitude that sometimes lacks in progressive metal. It is down right crunchy, whereas some modern progressive metal relies more on tales of fantasy and escape. This track does not do that and the attitude is a welcomed change. This reminds me a lot of a progressive version of Lacuna Coil.
Wish opens up with a nice isolated guitar that is met in harmony with the vocal. For a band only relying on five members, this track sounds like it was done with both a heavy orchestra and symphonic choir. David Bevis – Keyboards & Orchestration, really knows the true meaning of minimal effort, maximum distribution. This track gives me the audio appearance that I am sitting in a concert theater listening to its acoustics flow in and out of that hall.
Darkness begins with a keyboard passage in harmony with the lead guitar. The chord progressions develop a passage where the band can begin to build from. This track continues the bands simple symphonic spirit. By time you get to this track you begin to notice that objective. The symphonic orchestration and effects really do give this song a depth of darkness. The addition of the male death growls lend a heavy handed attitude as well.
Anger opens up with a very beautiful Arabic/Middle Eastern Oriental scale. This is met with a thunderous rhythm section. It is almost like listening to a Myrath with a female vocalist. That Arabic scale really carries the backbone of the song. This also goes towards the band executing well with what they have to work with. The band even experiments with various vocal echoes on top that symphonic and Arabic elements.
Scars starts out with a wide open guitar shred. This track is very up tempo almost taking on chord progressions heard in neo-classical power metal. The track drops for a break and lays the vocals over a beautiful keyboard atmosphere. It is simplicity the band really creates a very complex arrangement on this song. Even some light thrash metal elements come into play on this one.
For a band that crowdfunded this album and had very little to work with in way of equipment and production costs, Evereal certainly made a very powerful first statement as a band. This is a band that really knows how to execute quite well with very little. Evereal is a more Euro flavoured metal with a North American sensibility. All its members did a great job for a debut album. This will certainly be a tool to help them get their feet further in the door of the Symphonic Progressive Metal community. I will give this a 4.5/5.
Towards my preparation in writing the retrospective of this ‘Classic Masterpiece’, I struggled with the fact of where to start. After all Deep Purple’s Machine Head is the band’s sixth album and third album under the classic ‘Mark 2‘ lineup that would cement their place in both rock n roll history and heavy metal history. I even debated whether to even write it at all giving into to my own delusions that this album has been over explained through the last 45 years. However the more I thought about it the more I felt that it still needed to be revisited due to its concrete significance in the history of recorded music in general. Therefore pull up a cup of coffee, cuppa tea or even a pint of ale because you are about to embark on a journey, a retrospective that is Deep Purple’s Machine Head.
Though not without its moments, 1971’s Fireball described something of a non-descript holding pattern for Deep Purple. Not a bad album as such it was, artistically at least, a curious underachiever compared to 1970’s In Rock. What they needed was something with as much impact and which delivered them new standards to ensure their upwards path. With not a lot of spare change in the pocket as far as new material went, the recording session was a fraught affair. Yet out of such adversity, Purple dug deep into their reserves producing their strongest and most consistent set.
The band at this time decided a change of scenery was in order and decided to go to Montreux, Switzerland, and record through out the entire month of December in 1971. The band’s main reasons for a relocation to Switzerland was basically economical. The band could avoid paying some serious recording taxes as none existed in Switzerland much like they had back in England. They were also seeking solace as a band for creative reasons. Third and final reason they relocated there to to having no distractions that home would of provided.
The name Machine Head was inspired simply by the adjustment knobs and the head they rested on with Roger Glover’s bass. All the head at the top of the neck with the knobs has always been a simple machine. Thus the name Machine Head stuck. Released in 1972, Machine Headbecome the benchmark against which everything that followed would be judged against. In the canon of heavy rock this is an album replete with classic tracks. Concise in nature, killer punches are only ever a minute away no matter which song you play. Vocalist Ian Gillan excels himself on “Highway Star,” and “Never Before”, the latter an excellent single, released ahead of the album covering both pop, rock and some righteously funky turnarounds. Blackmore dominates the album turning in some of his most understated and reflective playing on “When A Blind Man Cries” (the b-side to the single and not included on the original album) and of course, “Smoke On The Water.”
Deep Purple’s Machine Head would go on to be consider a prototype album for the origins of a new yet unidentified genre of heavier edged rock. The title would ultimately come to be known as Heavy Metal. Machine Head would also go on to give many current progressive metal bands some very fluent inspiration as well. Bands like Dream Theater, Iron Maiden, Dimmu Borgir and Arjen Luccassen with (Ayreon & Star One)to name a few, would all take elements away from Deep Purple and Machine Head decades later. Now without any further delay let’s either go down memory lane for those of you that were there or be introduced to one of the top 10 classic hard rock albums in Deep Purple’s Machine Head.
This song is about a man and his love for his high-powered car, which he says can out-race every other car. This was written by Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Ian Paice, Jon Lord, and Roger Glover. It may have been inspired by Steppenwolf’s “Born To Be Wild,” and along with “Radar Love” is one of the most famous driving songs in rock.
According to Roger Glover, they wrote this song on their tour bus on the way to a gig at the Portsmouth Guildhall (in the UK), on September 13, 1971, where they debuted the song. They wrote it because they were getting sick of their opening number, “Speed King,” and “Highway Star” became the new opener for their shows. The song evolved through live performances, and was recorded for the Machine Head album in December 1971.
Many people consider this the first “Speed Metal” song, a division of Heavy Metal and a genre later popularized by bands such as Venom, Motorhead and Metallica.
The guitar solo in this song was ranked #19 in the List of 100 Greatest Guitar Solos by Guitar World magazine. This has been featured in several episodes of That ’70s Show.
Maybe I’m A Leo
Roger Glover says:
“I wrote the riff to “Maybe I’m a Leo” after hearing John Lennon’s “How Do You Sleep?”. I liked the idea that the riff didn’t start on the down beat, like 99% of riffs do. Most of the songs on Machine Head were from the first take, or not long after.”
Singer Ian Gillan is a Leo (born 19 August), the only group member at the time with that astrological sign.
The song was rarely played by the band live, but three live recordings of it have been released on albums, Deep Purple in Concert, recorded in 1972, Live at the Olympia ’96, and Live at Montreux 2011.
The SACD version of Machine Head has an alternative guitar solo on “Maybe I’m a Leo”.
Pictures Of Home
According to Classic Rock Magazine Review:
“Pictures of Home” is Deep Purple at their most poignant, a driving rhythm topped by sweeping vocals pushing out deep lyrical motifs, all accented by the distinct, distorted Hammond organ of John Lord. Glover even gets a short bass solo in the middle section before Blackmore warms for lift-off before a surprising false stop and comeback makes the song all the more interesting”.
Ritchie Blackmore says that he was inspired by a short wave radio channel, “probably from Bulgaria or Turkey” when writing the main riff. Ian Gillan’s lyrics were a result of studio paranoia and home sickness.
It is the only song from Machine Head that was not performed live during Deep Purple’s 1972 tour
A song by Deep Purple, which appears as the fourth song on their 1972 album Machine Head. It was also released as a single and reached #35 in the UK. A promo video was made for the song in 1972. The single version of the song is an edit of the album version and lasts 3:30.
The guitar riff in Peter Frampton’s “Do You Feel Like We Do” bears a strong resemblance to this song. “Never Before” has rarely been performed live. The only live recording of this song appears on Deep Purple in Concert, which was recorded at the time of the single release, a week or so before Machine Head was released.
Deep Purple performed “Never Before” on tour in 2004, when they played the whole Machine Headalbum.
Smoke On The Water
This song took inspiration from a fire in the Casino at Montreux, Switzerland on December 4, 1971. The band was going to record their Machine Head album there right after a Frank Zappa concert, but someone fired a flare gun at the ceiling during Frank Zappa’s show, which set the place on fire. Deep Purple was in the audience for the show, and lead singer Ian Gillan recalls two flares being shot by someone sitting behind him which landed in the top corner of the building and quickly set it ablaze. Zappa stopped the show and helped ensure an orderly exit. Deep Purple watched the blaze from a nearby restaurant, and when the fire died down, a layer of smoke had covered Lake Geneva, which the casino overlooked. This image gave bass player Roger Glover the idea for a song title: “Smoke On The Water,” and Gillan wrote the lyric about their saga recording the Machine Headalbum.
The band was relocated to the Grand Hotel in Montreux, where they recorded the album using the Rolling Stones mobile studio. They needed one more song, so they put together “Smoke On The Water”using Gillan’s lyric and riff the guitarist Ritchie Blackmore came up with. The result was a song telling the story of these strange events just days after they happened – the recording sessions took place from December 6-21. Frank Zappa, who is mentioned in the lyrics, lost all his equipment in the fire. He then broke his leg a few days later when a fan pulled him into the crowd at a show in England. This prompted Ian Gillan to say “Break a leg, Frank,” into the microphone after recording this for a BBC special in 1972. Deep Purple bass player Roger Glover had some doubts about the title: he knew it was great but was reluctant to use it because it sounded like a drug song. Ritchie Blackmore has an affinity for renaissance music, which he writes and performs in his duo Blackmore’s Night. He says that he first took an interest in the form in 1971 when he saw a BBC program called Wives of Henry VIII, and that there is indeed a trace of Renaissance in “Smoke On The Water.” “The riff is done in fourths and fifths – a medieval modal scale,” he explained on MySpace Music. “It makes it appear more dark and foreboding. Not like today’s pop music thirds.”
The band did not think this would be a hit and rarely played it live. It took off when they released it as a US single over a year after the album came out. Talking about the song’s merits as live material, Roger Glover said in Metal Hammer, “I think ‘Smoke On The Water’ is the biggest song that Purple will ever have and there’s always a pressure to play it, and it’s not the greatest live song, it’s a good song but you sorta plod through it. The excitement comes from the audience. And there’s always the apprehension that Ritchie (Blackmore) isn’t gonna want to do it, ’cause he’s probably fed up with doing it.”
When we spoke with Steve Morse, who became Deep Purple’s guitarist in 1994, he talked about performing this song live. “On a tune that I didn’t write like ‘Smoke On The Water,’ I try to tread a line between homage and respect and originality,” he said. “So, say, on the solo, I take it a out a little bit and do it my way for a little bit, and then bring it back to more like the original, and wrap it up with a lick that everybody would recognize. That’s about as much as I can suggest somebody do because there’s ingrained memories of the song in peoples’ minds.”
“Funky Claude,” as in the lyrics “Funky Claude was running in and out pulling kids out the ground,” is Claude Nobs, a man who helped rescue some people in the fire and found another hotel for the band to stay. He is the co-founder of the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival.
Nobs explained to Gibson.com how this song arose out of the ashes: “Deep Purple were watching the whole fire from their hotel window, and they said, ‘Oh my God, look what happened. Poor Claude and there’s no casino anymore!’ They were supposed to do a live gig [at the casino] and record the new album there. Finally I found a place in a little abandoned hotel next to my house and we made a temporary studio for them. One day they were coming up for dinner at my house and they said, ‘Claude we did a little surprise for you, but it’s not going to be on the album. It’s a tune called “Smoke On The Water.'” So I listened to it. I said, ‘You’re crazy. It’s going to be a huge thing.’ Now there’s no guitar player in the world who doesn’t know [he hums the riff]. They said, ‘Oh if you believe so we’ll put it on the album.’ It’s actually the very precise description of the fire in the casino, of Frank Zappa getting the kids out of the casino, and every detail in the song is true. It’s what really happened. In the middle of the song, it says ‘Funky Claude was getting people out of the building,’ and actually when I meet a lot of rock musicians, they still say, ‘Oh here comes Funky Claude.'”
The B-side of the single was another version of the song, recorded live in Japan.
In 1989, Former members Ritchie Blackmore and Ian Gillan released a new version of this with Robert Plant, Brian May, and Bruce Dickinson, Alex Lifeson. They called the project “Rock Aid Armenia,” with proceeds going to victims of the Armenian earthquake. I have included a video of the extended cut specifically done for charity at the time.
Homer is heard crooning to this song in an a episode of The Simpsons in which he uses medicinal marijuana.
Pat Boone covered this on In a Metal Mood. On the album, he performed heavy metal songs with string instruments, pianos, etc., but in this case kept the famous guitar riff and even allowed the guitarist a solo. Otherwise, it’s a very jazzy cover.
The famous guitar riff is performed in the 2003 Jack Black film School Of Rock.
On June 3, 2007 in Kansas City, Kansas, 1,721 guitarists gathered to play this song together and break the record for most guitarists playing at one time. The entire song was played, though only the one lead guitar played the solo. Guitarists from as far as Scotland came out for the event. The event was organized by radio station KYYS.
It’s hard to compete with outsourcing, however, and the record was beaten on October 26, 2007 when 1,730 guitarists gathered in Shillong, India to perform “Knocking On Heaven’s Door.”
This was used in commercials for Dodge trucks. The song plays on a jukebox that a guy is eyeing in an antique store. His wife gets her way and they take home a piece of furniture instead – the point being the large payload capacity of the truck.
According to an interview with Ian Gillian on VH1’s Classic Albums: Machine Head, the band did not have much money when recording this album and were renting a recording studio. They stayed past when they were supposed to get out. As they were recording this song, the police were knocking on the door of the studio to kick them out.
In a 2008 survey of students from music schools across London, this topped a poll to find the best ever guitar riff. Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” came second and Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” third.
According to the London Times newspaper, Ritchie Blackmore was embarrassed to present this song to his fellow members of Deep Purple because it was such a Neanderthal tune for a guitarist of his caliber to come up with.
The lyrics, “Swiss time was running out” meant that their visas were going to expire soon. They wrote the songs and recorded them in a matter of weeks.
Many beginners try to play this when they pick up a guitar, and they usually play it wrong. Here’s how: Use the open G and D strings as the starting point and you pluck the strings with a finger each, not a pick. Lots of people play this from the 5th fret of the A and D string, which is wrong. Smoke On The Water ranks up there with icons like Stairway To Heaven LedZeppelin, Freebird, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Dream On Aerosmith and even Tom Sawyer Rush. .
Fender.com asked Ritchie Blackmore how he came up with the song’s famous riff. He replied:
“Ian Paice (Deep Purple drummer) and I often used to jam, just the two of us. It was a natural riff to play at the time. It was the first thing that came into my head during that jam.”
Most definitely not to be confused with the Irving Berlin standard of the same name, this album track is actually quite an uptempo number. Although basically a blues based ego trip for lead guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and keyboard wizard Jon Lord, vocalist Ian Gillan also chips in on harmonica.
The song’s most noticeable feature is its riff, the words are largely superfluous:
You’re lazy, just stay in bed, You’re lazy, just stay in bed, You don’t want no money, You don’t want no bread.
Etc. “Lazy” was co-written by all five members of Deep Purple Mark II (ie Blackmore, Gillan, Glover, Lord and Paice); group compositions being a trademark of this particular line up.
The studio version runs to 7 minutes 23 seconds and was recorded for the Machine Head sessions at Montreaux, Switzerland in December 1971. Being a track that lends readily to improvisation – as well as the aforementioned ego tripping – on stage it would often be spun out for considerably longer. A quarter of a century after it was released, Ritchie Blackmore’s “Lazy” guitar solo was voted number 75 of all time by a readers’ poll for Guitar World magazine.
It is the seventh and final track on the Machine Head album. Its lyrics talk of space travel and it showcases the vocal abilities of singer Ian Gillan and powerful drumming of Ian Paice.
The intro was featured on the TV show WKRP in Cincinnati on the episode “The Airplane Show” (later issues of the episode replaced this track with generic music). The song is featured as a downloadable track for the Rock Band series of music video games as of 30 December 2008.The song appeared in the film Lords of Dogtown, the documentary Warren Miller’s Dynasty and video game Guitar Hero: Van Halen.
The 1997 remix of the song was featured in the first episode of Ash vs Evil Dead.
Several cover versions of Space Truckin’ would be done over the years. These are the most notable cover versions throughout the last 45 years.
Dream Theater covered this and the whole Made in Japan album.
Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s Star One covered the song during their 2002 European tour, as seen on the Live on Earth DVD.
American thrash metal band Overkill included a cover of the song on their 1999 album Coverkill.
Serbian hard rock band Cactus Jack released a cover on their 2003 Deep Purple Tribute album.
American industrial metal band Ministry include their version of the song in the all-covers album Cover Up. Tesla’s version is the first track on their album Real to Reel.
American thrash metal band Vengeance Rising covered the song on their 1990 album Once Dead.,
William Shatner covered the song on his album Seeking Major Tom.
Iron Maiden’s cover of this song appeared on the tribute album Re-Machined: A Tribute to Deep Purple’s Machine Head, which was released in September 2012.
Kraus covered this song in 2011.
Original Extended Live Performance by Deep Purple on Made In Japan.
As I said at the top of this retrospective it was a debate whether I was still going to do this here at Power Of Prog as planned. On this day in 1972 Deep Purple unleashed a tempest and monster with Machine Head. As a matter of fact and I will end this here, Machine Head went immediately to No. 1 in the U.K. and remained on the charts for weeks, aided by singles including “Never Before,” “Lazy”and “Highway Star.” Machine Headwas more of a slow burn in the United States, partially because “Smoke on the Water” wasn’t released as a single until May 1973. The song became Purple’s most successful U.S. single (hitting No. 4 on Billboard, as did 1968’s “Hush”) and pushed its parent album to No. 7. In all, Machine Head spent more than two years on the American charts, as Deep Purple become hard rock heavyweights known around the world. Four and a half decades later, it remains the band’s biggest album.
Last year as I was in research mode for my first review of The Mute Gods Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me, I can vividly remember reading where Nick Beggs was approached by somebody at InsideOut Music to finally do a project for himself. I can also remember how well written, produced and arranged that entire album was. I had given it a 5/5 and read many other reviews that gave high or perfect scores. Keep in mind this was a debut for this new progressive rock outfit that was rounded out by Roger King – Lonely Robot/Steve Hackett and world class drummer Marco Minnemann.
Now in 2017 The Mute Gods have returned in a rather quick fashion and now have their sophomore album Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth. The band did something very few bands do in this industry and they certainly avoided the ‘Sophomore Jinx’. Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earthsees The Mute Gods return with a heavier, darker with a more melancholic personality about it. Nick Beggs as a songwriter continues to tackle various subjects through the social commentary of the lyrics. Whether you agree or disagree with his world views and social commentary, it still makes for some very thought provoking subject matter that serves as half the anchor for Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth as I will highlight during this review. Now a break down and a few highlights from The Mute Gods Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth.
Saltaio Mortis is a dark symphonic opening instrumental that opens up the album. It opens it up in much a way as a film score would open up the first sequence in a film. It is truly dark and bleak and really helps develop the appropriate tone for the musical vision on the album. The instrumental is arranged much like a orchestra would be.
Animal Army opens up with a minimalist guitar riff to set the tone that the album has views it will advocate whether politically or artistically or a little of both. From there a very powerful rhythm section anchored between the drums and bass take this track into a brooding chord progression. The vocal harmonies really play well off the rhythmic backbone of the track. It also conveys the lyrical content quite well. The bass and orchestral section make for a very original progression.
We Can’t Carry On begins with some heavy up tempo rhythm progressions that allow the darkness of the song to set the table and mood. It does so appropriately due to the heavy political commentary involved in the track. The dark brooding instrumental aesthetic lends excellent emotion to the anger apocalyptic scenario Nick Beggs paints throughout this track. Nick also establishes himself as a prolific vocal frontman on this one. This is a very thought provoking track that we all can find ourselves thinking about. The bleak chord progressions throughout also do a beautiful job making this a potential anthem going forward.
The Dumbing of the Stupid is a very up tempo almost acid jazz in nature. The vocals are through a distorted filter giving the listener the effect that somebody is giving a wake up call to action through a megaphone. The bass and drum rhythm section is borderline semi Gothic in nature without losing any of the deliberate progressive elements. This track has a nasty gritty guitar solo on it to match the rhythm progression established on the track. The guitar solo’s along with the keyboards run in beautiful harmony with the bass/drum rhythm section. This is one of the more down tuned tracks on the album that also carries some harder rock elements through it.
Early Warning opens up with a semi electric guitar with a deep bass line line. The vocals are wonderfully isolated over this allowing the lyrics to breathe and story be told. This track also has some bell and chime effects laced through the chord progressions. Everything is very subtle on this. This track allows the listener to digest the song easily. Content wise this is one of the lighter songs on this album.
Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth begins with a very up tempo rhythm section and a slight neo progressive element filtered through the keyboards. Nick Beggs is very experimental on the vocals and not afraid to be pigeonholed into any one vocal style. This is kind of a rare track progressively speaking that it has a verse/bridge/chorus progression through it. The guitar solo’s are lush and thick lending further depth and maturity to the stringed section. The drums really play off the neo progressive effects being delivered through the keyboards as much as they are in time with the bass and stick progressions. The video for this explores some very abstract and odd concepts. It is a reflection of the social commentary Nick Beggs has.
Window Onto the Sun starts off with various keyboard effects along with brilliant work on the bass to give the opening chord progression great depth and character. Do not let the up tempo deceive you this is a very dark track that really questions religion. Their is a nice backing vocal pumped through the keyboard in perfect harmony with the lead vocal. Nick Beggs has pumped the Chapman Stick through a bass processor tho give the rhythm progression a different dimension and depth for verb.
Lament opens up with a very deep brooding bass line giving the track a immediate sense of darkness. The guitar perfectly compliments this chord progression allowing bleakness to breathe through to the listener. The drums come in very subtly on this as well. This is the second instrumental on the album.
The Singing Fish Of Batticaloa opens up with a water like effect. The neo progressive keyboard passage adds some brief light to a otherwise intentionally dark album. This track is a very traditional progressive rock track. It has some really nice keyboards and deep lush bass/drum rhythm section. This is one of the more upbeat tracks on the album. Perhaps it was intentionally light on the listener to allow them to absorb the album or begin to. The keyboard even displays some very old school vintage Hammond organ elements in a few spots. The guitar solo is played acoustically giving the listener a reminder this is a intentionally dark album as a whole without taking away the uplifting elements of the track. This has some very melancholic elements towards the end.
The Andromeda Strain opens up with a heavy bass/drum rhythm section line. This is soon accented with various ethereal keyboard parts and ethereal lead guitar parts bringing both stringed section and rhythm sections in perfect balance. This is the third and final instrumental track on the album that is like a introduction track to the final track on the album Stranger Than Fiction.
Stranger Than Fiction takes on almost a ballad vibe with various piano and guitar portions. The rhythm section allows for the dark aesthetic to remain as it has through the rest of whole album up to this point. Lyrically this questions many aspects of life. The vocals harmonies a lush, full and warm to perfectly accompany the dark subject matter and instrumental progressions.
As I see it The Mute Gods are truly working towards something they can and will perhaps in the future put live on a stage maybe in a mini tour or something that will be possible for a visual document like a BluRay or DVD. I do know there is a third album in the early stages. With Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth, The Mute Gods have come into their own as a actual band rather than a so called ‘Supergroup’. This album is another addition to another progressive legacy in the works. The writing on this was very thought provoking. I give The Mute Gods Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth a 5/5 for further mature development as a band.
Track Listing – Original 1982 Pressing Invaders Children Of The Damned The Prisoner 22 Acacia Avenue The Number Of The Beast Run To The Hills Gangland Hallowed Be Thy Name
Towards the middle to the end of the 1970’s it appeared that heavy metal music was on its last legs and headed to a early grave. With the over saturation of disco music in the United States and the rise of punk rock devouring the globe like a plague bands from the First Wave Of Heavy Metal or FWOHM were on their way out. Black Sabbath had finally gave Ozzy Osbourne his walking papers, the death of John Bohnam had all but ended Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple had imploded and Alice Cooper and others had all ran their course up to that point. Even Kiss had lost a lot of followers after they compromised and conformed to the pop culture of the day and released the heavily disco laden and much hated Dynasty with its song ‘I Was Made For Loving You’. The global Heavy Metal scene had seemed to be on ice and the Heavy Metal Community had become fractured and conflicted. However not for long.
Across the Atlantic Ocean in the United Kingdom in the epicenter of punk there would be a hidden ground swell of talent ready to shake the global community to its core and become the saviours of the heavy metal genre. This would be known as the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal or NWOBHM. Some would even argue and maybe rightfully so that this movement of heavy metal music was the true ground zero for the heavy metal genre. The class of NWOBHM would not only be a large on bt a serious game changer in the history of heavy metal. Bands like Motorhead, Witchfinder General, Angelwitch, Samson, Quartz, Tygers Of Pan Tang, Diamonhead, Def Leppard, Girlschool, Saxon, Raven and Iron Maiden to name a few would breathe new life into the Heavy Metal community worldwide. However it would be Iron Maiden that would carry the standard for the next 40+ years. Iron Maiden would also be perhaps ‘The ONLY Band’ that the entire heavy metal community no matter the 26 to 30 sub genres that 95% of all the people could really agree upon and Number Of The Beasthelped solidify this fact.
Begun by Steve Harris in 1975 and enduring multiple lineup changes over the course of the next 5 years, Iron Maiden would release their self titled debut in 1980 Iron Maiden with Steve Harris – Bass , Dave Murray – Guitars , Paul Di’Anno – Vocals , Clive Burr – Drums and Dennis Stratton – Guitars. Their debut would be followed up with Killers is 1981 with the line up of Steve Harris – Bass , Dave Murray – Guitars , Paul Di’Anno – Vocals , Clive Burr – Drums and Adrian Smith – Guitars.Iron Maiden hit the road just as soon as their first album arrived in record stores; beginning in the UK before criss-crossing Europe in support of Kiss, and it was there that Dennis Stratton began distancing himself from his bandmates and even choosing to ride with the crew between gigs. This attitude simply would not fly with Harris and Maiden manager Rod Smallwood, who promptly fired Stratton at tour’s end and called upon an old mate of Dave Murray’s named Adrian Smith, who had recently given up on his own band, Urchin, and was ready to hop a ride on the Iron Maiden juggernaut and silence any doubters with his work on the band’s excellent sophomore album, ‘Killers.’
Iron Maiden’s membership troubles weren’t over yet, oh no! Now it was singer Paul Di’Anno’s turn to rock the group’s tightly run ship, as his once casual drug and alcohol use had grown increasingly at odds with Harris and Smallwood’s regimented schedule and tall professional expectations. So after mutually agreeing it would be in everyone’s best interest to go their separate ways, Maiden moved quickly to poach a promising young singer named Bruce Dickinson from their N.W.O.B.H.M. rivals Samson, and his powerful voice (along with Adrian Smith’s first songwriting) would indeed contribute to the breakthrough success of 1982’s ‘The Number of the Beast.’ The line up now would be as follows, Steve Harris – Bass , Dave Murray – Guitars , Bruce Dickinson – Vocals , Clive Burr – Drums and Adrian Smith – Guitars.
Number Of The Beast is the only album to feature songwriting by drummer Clive Burr. This is one of several reasons why the album was so different from previous ones other than the obvious change in lead singer. It was the first album with writing by Adrian Smith (see below track listing for details), and the first to feature writing by the ‘new’ Steve Harris (his older style had been written for different musicians, and in a different time) – the entire writing system was different. However, it is one of the few albums not to feature a Dave Murray song, and the first album not to feature an instrumental. It was widely panned by mainstream media upon its release, including Rolling Stone, who claimed that it “blusters along aimlessly, proving again that bad music is hell.”
It was also panned by social conservatives, especially in America. Due to its title, Iron Maiden was called a “Satanic band” in the US. Their Beast on the Road tour was marred by boycotts and protests. However, it was well received by Iron Maiden fans and is considered to be one of their best albums. All Music Guide, in its official review of the album -written by Steve Huey-, stated: “The Number of the Beast is quite simply one of the best heavy metal albums ever released”. The album was ranked number 17 on Guitar World’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Albums of All Time. In 2000 Q magazine placed the album at number 100 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever, and a year later the same magazine named it as one of the 50 Heaviest Albums Of All Time. In 2006, Q magazine placed the album at #40 in its list of “40 Best Albums of the ’80s”.[ The BBC made a documentary of this album in their Classic Albums series.
The album was also the centre of controversy, particularly in America, due to the lyrics of the title track and the cover art depicting Satan being controlled by Eddie. This cover art was originally intended for an earlier single, “Purgatory”, but the band felt the cover was too high of caliber for just a single and a less complex image was used for the single instead. The title track, “Number of the Beast”, was said not be a satanic song but was actually instead inspired by bass player Steve Harris’s nightmare about being trapped in Hell, triggered after watching Damien: Omen II. The album’s cover art has been parodied several times – by crossover thrash band Stormtroopers of Death for the cover art of their 1999 album Bigger Than the Devil, and on a T-shirt by underground New York Hip Hop Label Uncle Howie Records. Streetwear brand Diamond Supply Co. parodied the album cover for a shirt in their line. Nick Tershay, founder of Diamond is reported as having had to pay $50,000 due to the parody being too close to the original art work. The original 1982 artwork includes a light blue sky in the background; this was a mistake by the printers of the album cover, and was later rectified and became black when the album was remastered for compact disc in 1998.While the title track was thought by many to mean that Iron Maiden were Satanists, in fact the song was inspired by a nightmare bassist Steve Harris had, triggered by watching the film Damien: Omen II late at night. While he was quite scared of the Satanic images he saw in his nightmare, he also felt them amusing, and after that, he obtained the idea for the song, and also for the title of the album.
“Children of the Damned” is based on the films Village of the Damned and Children of the Damned, which in turn were adapted from the novel The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham. On a recent “Bruce Dickinson Rock Show” on BBC Radio 6, Dickinson told Ronnie James Dio that Children of the Damned was inspired by Black Sabbath’s “Children of the Sea”.
“The Prisoner” was inspired by the British TV show of the same name, and features dialogue from its title sequence. Rod Smallwood had to telephone Patrick McGoohan to ask permission to use the dialogue for the song. According to witnesses the usually calm Smallwood was completely star struck during the conversation. McGoohan was reported to have said “What did you say the name was? Iron Maiden? Do it.” Iron Maiden later made another song based on the series, “Back in the Village” from Powerslave.
“22 Acacia Avenue” is the second song in the “Charlotte the Harlot” saga.
The title track opens with a spoken introduction which draws heavily from the King James Version of Revelation 13:18, and is apparently inspired by Tam o’ Shanter by Robert Burns. Barry Clayton is the name of the actor who speaks those opening lines on the album.
On October 24, 2002, progressive metal outfit Dream Theater played the original album in its entirety at La Mutualite in Paris, France. The performance was recorded and has been released through the band’s YtseJam Records label.
“Run To The Hills” was covered on the all-star tribute album Numbers From The Beast, featuring vocalist Robin McAuley, guitarists Michael Schenker and Pete Fletcher, bassist Tony Franklin, and drummer Brian Tichy. The version slightly varied from the original, in terms of guitars, when Schenker added small solos.
“Hallowed Be Thy Name” & “The Number Of The Beast” was covered by Iced Earth on their album, Tribute To The Gods. Machine Head also covered it on the Maiden Heaven: A Tribute To Iron Maiden tribute album released by Kerrang! magazine in 2008. It was also covered by Cradle of Filth.
The album has also been used in several video games – “Run To The Hills” is featured on SSX On Tour as the opening theme, and a cover version is a track in Rock Band in which it is the only song on the disk listed as an ‘Impossible’ song for all the instruments. In addition, the master tracks of the songs “The Number of the Beast”, “Run to the Hills” and “Hallowed Be Thy Name” (the latter being a live recording found on Flight 666) were made downloadable to Rock Band as part of a 12 pack on June 8, 2009, and “The Prisoner” was made downloadable as part of the “Maiden Epics” pack on May 22, 2012. In Guitar Hero III, the hit song “The Number of the Beast” was featured. “The Number of the Beast” and “Run to the Hills” were also made downloadable to Rocksmith 2014 on November 5, 2013.
Now I want to take a journey through Iron Maiden’s Number Of The Beast with some highlights from each track where relevant to the album. This will be a literary attempt at a ‘Classic Albums’ series in a more verbal aspect.
‘Invaders’ is the opening track on Iron Maiden’s third studio album ‘The Number of the Beast’, released in March 1982. The reception of this song was fairly mixed, as many reviewers thought that this was one of the weaker tracks on the otherwise excellent album, and it was a poor decision to use as the opener. On the other hand, others have felt that this song has been overly criticized, saying that Invaders kicks things off to a great start with a fast pace and its collection of riffs. Some also think that while the pace and mood of the song are not to their liking, or they perhaps consider it dull, the epic tone of the lyrics about Norse warfare was approved of. Whatever the fans and reviews might say, Steve Harris himself, the writer of the song and the band’s bassist, has stated that the track was not good enough, commenting that it
“could have been replaced with something a bit better, only we didn’t have anything else to replace it with at the time. We had just enough time to do what we did, and that was it.”
Children Of The Damned
This dark and compelling track is inspired by the 1963 film of the same name, which is about six children with psychic abilities who are forced to battle for their survival against an inferior human race. The song describes the death of the last of the children, as he steps out to face the humans which are intent on destroying him by burning him at the stake. It is a deep and thought-provoking film, worthy of the song which it inspired…
A musical adaptation of the old BBC television series, The Prisoner. The song begins with Patrick McGoohan’s opening narration from the show.
Rod Smallwood, the band manager, was very nervous about calling Patrick McGoohan to get permission to use the quote. After bolstering up the courage to call McGoohan, he explained the proposition uncomfortably. McGoohan thought for a moment, than asked, “What was the band’s name again?” Rod, who was downright scared at this point, told him again. “A rock band, you say?” McGoohan continued thoughtfully. Suddenly, he commanded “Do it!” sharply before hanging up. The band cracked up at this afterwards.
The band got the opening narration from The Prisoner tapes owned by metal DJ Tommy Vance.
“Adrian took the solo on this one and it’s one of his favorites. It’s a very strong live number, although we don’t play it on the set now.”
22 Acacia Avenue
This is the second song in the Charlotte the Harlot saga – the first is “Charlotte the Harlot,” the third is “Hooks In You” and the fourth is “From Here To Eternity.” Charlotte is a hooker you can meet on 22 Acacia Avenue, and this song describes her life on the job. >>
On the cover of the album Somewhere in Time, the band’s mascot Eddie is standing on “Acacia Avenue.” In one of the windows, you can see Charlotte.
The Number Of The Beast
This song was influenced by the 1978 movie Damien: Omen II, which is about a 13-year-old Antichrist. It was written by Iron Maiden bass player Steve Harris, who explained: “Basically, this song is about a dream. It’s not about devil worship.”
Before the music starts, this opens with an a cappella quote from The Book of Revelation. The band wanted the horror film actor Vincent Price to read this intro, but he wanted more money than they were willing to pay (a year later, Price lent his voice to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”). The quote was read by an unknown thespian actor who had no interest in the band.
The number of the beast, according to Revelation 13:18 (the quoted scripture), is 666. Interestingly, 6+6+6 is 18, the number of the verse. Elsewhere in that chapter, it is stated that no man will be able to buy or sell without a mark on the right hand or forehead with the number of the beast on it. This has lead to religious zealots “finding” 666 in practically everything.
The cover art for the album depicted Iron Maiden’s mascot Eddie and a devil in vicious combat in Hell. The cover art for single depicted Eddie with a sinister grin on his face holding the devil’s head (See also: “Run to the Hills”).
During the recording of the album, there were rumors floating about that supernatural occurrences had been going on in the studio, such as lights flipping on and off, strange noises, visions of Satan, etc. This was used as evidence that Satan and the Antichrist had a hand in making this. In a concert at New York’s Palladium on June 29, 1982 (which is heavily bootlegged), Bruce Dickinson said:
“Just want to say to all the people who play records backwards and burn albums out in the streets, they can go and get… stick their heads up their arse or something like that, ’cause… we ain’t interested.”
On the cover art, just right of the devil’s ankle, is artist Derek Riggs’ signature: the unique symbol which contains his initials.
The tour accompanying the album’s release was called “The Beast on the Road.”
Lead singer Bruce Dickinson said of this song:
“We can play with conviction every night, because we totally believe in the music we’re performing.” This quote, along with the line “666, the one for you and me”
The Number of the Beast album surprisingly came top of a survey by music retailer HMV to find the UK public’s favourite British album during the Queen’s 60 years on the throne. The poll attracted almost 55,000 votes in the month preceding the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee via Facebook, including presumably a fair number of Maiden fans. An HMV spokesman commented: “The power of social media means there are one or two surprises.”
As he explained on the BBC Classic Albums series, Bruce Dickinson’s high-pitched scream at the end of the intro was a result of producer Martin Birch forcing the band to replay the intro several times. Dickinson became so fed up with the constant repeats that he emitted the scream out of frustration, and it fit so well that the band decided to keep it.
Run To The Hills
About the European arrival to the “New World,” told from the perspective of both the oppressed Cree and the invading Anglo-Saxon soldiers. The first verse (“White man came across the sea, he brought us pain and misery”) is from the point of view of the Natives. The second verse (“Chasing the redskins back to their holes, fighting them at their own game”) is from the white man’s eyes, and the last verse (“Selling them whiskey and taking their gold, enslaving the young and destroying the old”) is an impartial third-person narration.
Released as a single on February 12, 1982. The B-side was “Total Eclipse” and was the first single that featured Bruce Dickinson’s “air-raid siren” vocals. On December 2nd, 1985, a version of this recorded live was released as a single, with a live recording of “Phantom of the Opera” as the B-side.
The cover art for the single featured a Native American with an axe wrestling a devil in Hell. Considering the lyrics, this caused some controversy, as many interpreted this to mean the band was suggesting that the imperialistic whites were devils.
In 2002, this was re-released as a single to help promote a tour the band organized to raise money for former drummer Clive Burr, who suffered from Multiple Sclerosis.
This was Iron Maiden’s first Top 10 hit in the UK.
The single’s cover art had the same setting as the cover art for the album The Number of the Beast. They were both set in Hell, with a red humanoid devil and spiraling gray clouds against the night sky. Both were designed by Derek Riggs, who does most Maiden cover art.
The 1982 single charted at #7. The 1985 single (recorded live) charted at #26.
“I wanted to try and get the feeling of galloping horses. But when you play this one, be careful not to let it run away with you.”
The official biography of Iron Maiden, written by Mick Wall, is titled Run to the Hills.
This song was “covered” by Metallica on their 1986 mini-EP Garage Days Re-Revisited. At the very end of the last track, they fade out to the introduction of this song, and quite off key, as well. This was their nod to Iron Maiden, who were one of their New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) inspirations.
This is a rarity among the Iron Maiden library. This track is one of the more polarizing tracks on Number Of The Beast. It has been both well received by the critics and fans or totally slammed as a so called filler on the Number Of The Beast.“Gangland” is, along with “Invaders”, the song that gets classified as fillers by most people. I kind of disagree with that, but this one is still looked upon as a filler. A quite jazzy drum beat gives way to a very simplistic but catchy and quite heavy riff. The only thing wrong with this song is that it’s slightly repetitive and not quite up to par with the rest. I will leave this up to the casual fan or the die hard fan to come to their personal conclusions about Gangland.
Hallowed Be Thy Name
This song is about a man who is on death row and about to be executed, it is from the perspective of that man.
This song has been covered by Iced Earth and Cradle of Filth.
The live version of this song off of A Real Dead One was released as a single in 1993 after Bruce Dickinson announced he was leaving the band. The single’s cover shows Eddie as Satan stabbing Bruce to death with a triton. Killing the departing vocalist in album art was an idea that was also used on the cover of Maiden Japan in 1981 (with Eddie holding Paul Di’Anno’s severed head), as well as in the video of Bruce’s farewell concert with the band, “Raising Hell,” where horror illusionist Simon Drake appears to impale Bruce to death in an iron maiden torture device.
The 9th and final song on Iron Maiden’s hugely successful 3rd album “The Number of the Beast” (1982) At 7:12 it is the longest song on the album, as there are 2 long periods of instrumentals. The song starts off quite slowly, and increases the tempo as the story it tells progresses. It describes a man’s thoughts as he is sent to the gallows, the feelings of terror, confusion and realization to the fact that he really is afraid of death, contrary to his belief. The vocals end as the man is executed, followed by a long instrumental section, at the end of which are the man’s last words “Hallowed Be Thy Name”Truly an all time classic heavy metal song, from an all time classic heavy metal album, by an all time classic heavy metal band.
In a year that would of been Clive Burr’s 60th birthday I really wanted to cover this album as a retrospective. If Heavy Metal as a genre had seemed without a identity or struggling up to this point in history than all that struggle was over. From this pivotal album heavy metal music would not only fracture into several sub genres but also tell the mainstream we are hear to stay whether you like it or not. With little MTV play and almost no radio play Iron Maiden’s Number of The Beast certainly went on to solidify metal. It would also become one of heavy metal’s most successful and influential albums over its now near 50 year history.
I can remember a time in the early to middle 1980’s where some very quality heavy metal bands were coming out of the New England area of the United States. Much of the bands were coming from Connecticut area. My first introduction to bands out of this area was Liege Lord in 1983. Soon after that I would discover Steel Prophet and Obsession. But in 1984 it was legendary progressive metal Fates Warning that would really put the Connecticut/New England metal scene on the global map. These bands would all share into some success throughout the rest of the 1980’s until the Seattle bands in the Pacific Northwest would alter the musical landscape for a few years to come.
While record labels and promoters were having their honeymoon with plaid clad lumberjack Grunge whores, heavy metal would suffer for a while and music that once sold out arena’s was reduced back to the nightclub scenes it seemed to of come out of just a decade before. However as many know heavy metal is extremely resilient and has proven so in its almost 50 year history. It is so resilient in fact that those bands I mentioned would recruit another generation of bands. Crossing Rubicon would be one of those bands. Here is a brief biography from their official Crossing Rubicon Facebook Page.
Crossing Rubicon began as a two-man project involving Scotty Anarchy and Pete Ahern (Red China Blue). The band enlisted our current drummer Brandi Hood shortly thereafter. Zach Lambert came on board and the group’s second guitarist. Brandi’s long-time rhythmic accomplice Jeff Diablo joined in the spring of 2010 as the groups bassist to round out the lineup. Pete stepped away from the band in the summer of 2010. Rob Dolan (ex-Dirty Blonde, ex-Hot Mess) joined to fill the lead role through four very successful shows including opening slots for In This Moment, Nonpoint, Pop Evil, and Rev Theory. In March 2011, the groups current guitarist Matt Douglas took over as the group’s permanent lead guitarist. Success continued as the band landed opening slots for Motley Crue, Bret Michaels, and Tantric. Bassist Jeff Miles stepped away from the band in late 2013 to be replaced by the groups current bassist, Steven Riccio. Crossing Rubicon’s music is often described as a throwback to metal of the 80’s and early 90’s, as band such as Queensryche, Alice In Chains, Metallica, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden, while having a modern rock sound.
It would be that very sound that the band would employ to forge their debut album No Less Than Everything. The band not only applies vintage heavy metal forged from the golden lineage of heavy metal but also advance the evolution of power progressive metal with very modern and relevant elements. Their music is written in such a way that it is ‘Generation Transcending’ as to not be pigeonholed to any particular generational or age demographic. They certainly have a keen and intricate sense of allow all the hallmarks of pure and true heavy metal to come through everything they write and record. Now I will proceed to do a track by track analysis and point out some highlights from every track on Crossing Rubicon’s No Less Than Everything.
Tomorrow Never Comes is a straight away guitar charged frenzy. This frenzy is backed by a very quick and precise charging rhythm section. The vocals are a hybrid of Michael Kiske meets Jon Oliva. There is almost a slight thrash metal aesthetic throughout this track. The backing vocals have some attitude behind them as well. The guitar solo’s are well balanced.
Unhinged opens up with a more tuned rhythmic section both with the bass/drum and rhythm guitar. It is a bit more distorted than the previous track however the intro serves a purpose to set up the first verse and bridge narrative. The female backing vocals add some depth to this track as well. This track just continues to build layer upon layers on heavy rhythm sections within the chord progressions.
Never Again begins with a blistering rhythmic section based around the drums. From there it is a total blister fest between chord progressions and time signatures forming some brutal passages. The heavy blast beats of the bass drums really ground and anchor this track. The guitar solo really stands out as a shred fest among this heavily rhythm based track.
The Fallen begins as a semi atmospheric ballad with a isolated guitar bass and vocal before taking off into a blistering frenzy. This track goes from more of a ballad into a anthem style track. The vocals are very warm and really play off the backbone of the rhythm section. The guitar chord progressions are a bit warmer in this song as well. The lead portion of the guitar goes into a multiple solo style progression telling almost a instrumental story narrative. The backing vocals are very spot on as well. This track ends almost like a Savatage style track.
Bittersweet Day opens up with a very groove laden rhythm section with some really intricate rhythm guitar work in perfect harmony with the bass/drum rhythm section. This track is a very gritty yet fluid track allowing the vocals to come through very crystal clear allowing the track to both breathe and tell the story of the song. The guitar solo’s remind me a lot of a Kai Hansen (Helloween era) meets Savatage’s Cris Oliva. This is one of those songs that can hold its own in any decade over the last 30 years.
Cut Deep reminds me of one of those old school hard rock tracks that may of surfaced in the late 1980’s early 1990’s. There is a certain Alice In Chains influence happening in this track with the multiple vocal harmonies. This takes nothing away from the beautiful quality of the track. I hear some KingsX and even Galactic Cowboy odd metal influence in this one. The vocals harmonies are the true highlight on Cut Deep.
Whos Gonna Save You opens up with a serious blistering rhythm section. This is beautifully followed up with some nasty yet brutal lead vocals with some blistering and brooding backing vocal harmonies. The lyrical content is spot on in harmony with the instrumental throughout the entire track. The writing was deliberately brutal on this song. Even the rhythm section and guitars are brutal with some serious teeth behind them. This is just one serious beast of a track.
Violet Carson opens up with a vocal chant like there may be a occult thing going on here. The vocal chants are layered with beautiful harmony. Soon the track takes a very dark and brutal brooding chord progression. This song really reminds me of a Mercyful Fate meets Narnia vibe in a very odd yet tasteful way. The rhythm section throughout goes in and out between a progressive and power metal time signature. Once again the guitar solos are very spot on in time and register. There is a very wicked and beautiful spoken word section in the middle of the track to help enhance the narrative of the story. The vocal chants harmonies are the true anchor on this one.
Reason To Beg opens up with a very traditional heavy metal chord progression. The rhythm section reminds me a lot of gritty sleaze rock in the vein of Dirty Looks meets Ugly Kid Joe with slight progressive power metal elements. The lyrical content is rather brutal as well.
Do We Not Bleed is one of those tracks that could of been very radio friendly in the 1980’s or early 1990’s. It is a very well written straight away heavy metal track that carries all the hallmarks of verse/bridge/chorus with a well executed guitar solo within it that is carry by a strong bass/drum rhythm section. This is a song that could also be easily adapted to video form.
Im Here is a straight up guitar and vocal oriented track. With that said it is greatly anchored by a killer rhythm section with some serious emotion within the lyrical construct. It is a very fast up tempo track that will appeal to both metal purists and progressive metal purists. The chord progressions within the guitar solos are very heavily progressive influenced along with the vocal harmonies. The vocals really hit some high points on the register.
Return To Atlantis opens up with a very unusual but welcomed ocean crashing on the shore effect. Then the track takes on a very pure progressive metal chord progression allowing the rhythm section and lyrical story to breathe while the listener digests what they are listening to. This track is really focused on the harmony between vocals and instrumental portions developing a special emotion for the audience to really absorb this. The guitar solos are arranged and executed to the point as to not take away from the obvious story narrative the band is trying to convey to their target audience.
Crossing Rubicon are definitely one of those bands that really take a little bit of influence from all eras of heavy metal and hard rock and balance them with ease. They also blend all these various forms of metal and hard rock without it sounding stale or dated. They definitely have created a sound that will not pigeonhole them into where they can play and who they can share a live bill with. It is also noted that No Less Than Everything is a ‘debut’ album. If this is a debut album I can not wait for what they will do next. They definitely have the talent and ability to created various levels to heavy metal and hard rock. For a well thought of and well written ‘debut’ I give this a 4.5/5 for the insightful effort.
My gateway into neo progressive rock music was Marillion’s Misplaced Childhood in 1985. It was a bit difficult for me due to the fact I was a solid metal purist at the time. However the music never left me and the seed was sown towards future neo progressive music in the future. Throughout the years neo progressive music and bands would come across my path. By 1999 I had discovered California neo progressive rocker’s Enchant when I bought A Blueprint Of The World – 1993 and Wounded – 1996. From that point all my defenses concerning neo progressive rock and metal had been totally removed.
Soon after I had discovered bands such as IQ, Pendragon, Spock’s Beard, Jadis, Pallas and Arena to name a few. These bands all have a common thread that easily allows the neo progressive title to be bestowed upon them. This common thread is experimental symphonic prog. It requires particular programming of synth’s along with guitars and rely more on a heavy lush stringed section. It is a very rare occasion when the neo progressive element meets a heavier almost metal element. It also takes a very talented and exceptional band to be able to blend these elements just right. Fortunately Dutch band Knight Area has been able to manage just that. Their 2017 release Heaven And Beyond displays this at work.
On Knight Area’s Heaven And Beyond there is a sonic buffet of various styles in play. Various styles not only include the obvious neo progressive staple but also go on to include hard rock, heavy metal and even AOR at certain points. This album is easily accessible to those various audio pallets. My appeal to Knight Area really took off after Peter Vinnk – Bass (Star One and Ayreon) alumni joined the band. I had always been a fan of his intricate and expansive bass work. This work is magnified on Knight Area’s Heaven And Beyond. Now I would like to explore some highlights of Knight Area’s Heaven And Beyond track by track.
Unbroken opens up with the keyboard transcribing a horned section almost from the 16 th century. Soon it goes into a pure progressive hard rock slightly metal chord progression with a great isolated guitar solo. The track fades down and soon come out of left field with a really gritty and crunchy rhythm based guitar signature. That is followed by a thunderous another thunderous rhythmic section between the bass, drum and rhythm portion on the guitar. Mark Smit – Vocals then comes in with some powerful, clear and angelic style vocals to carry the atmosphere of the track. This is a very guitar driven track from top to bottom with various breaks and time signatures.
Tree Of Life opens with a beautiful piano passage before being met with a straight away progressive hard rock passage. The rhythmic section really sets the table on this track quite nice. The guitar almost sounds like a 7 string guitar at times allowing more depth within the track. The vocal work is just as much a instrument as it is a narrative piece within the composition. The guitar solo’s really allow for a heavier listening experience. This is easily one of the tracks that can open up a live set list delivering depth to their intended audience. The Hammond Organ style towards the end gives the track a vintage progressive rock presence.
Memories starts out with a lush piano ballad with a deep warmth within the vocals. Although it is very progressive it displays some light AOR elements. The track soon takes off like a hard rock power ballad however without sounding cheesy. The guitars really lend a lot of atmospheric depth and layers to the stringed section. The vocals harmonies are spot on with the instrumental portions to the composition. They are almost like a mini choir in nature. This is definitely one of the more guitar driven tracks on the album.
Dreamworld begins with a beautiful piano intro before taking on a very heavily symphonic rooted chord progression. It is as if the band are taking a symphony orchestra mindset and transcribing it to the available instruments at their disposal. This track as big thunderous rhythm sections matched wonderfully with big stringed sections. The vocals really blend all the sum of the parts of this track beautifully. The band really start to form a very distinct sound on Dreamworld.
The Reaper opens up with a very dark brooding bass passage with some seriously warm yet dark vocals along with a open atmosphere on the keyboards. The vocals are arranged with such thought and care in their isolation. This track takes on a very some very misty eerie instrumental elements allowing the isolated vocals to get a beautiful to be told in its fullness. In its gloomy atmosphere the track still allows a little light in to breathe.
Box Of Toys opens with a powerful guitar solo from the top. Soon it goes into a break with a great rhythm section to allow the vocal to breathe and tell the story. This track reminds me a lot of early GTR or Asia compositions. There is a great violin in this as well. The harmonies are very Yes in nature.
Starlight blasts open into a progressive frenzy with the rhythm section. This is a very straight away progressive hard rock track with intelligent vocal harmonies playing in perfect range with the stringed section of keys and lead guitar. Starlight borders on the fringe of a progressive metal track at times throughout the track.
Heaven And Beyond opens up with a beautiful harmony between the piano, guitar and vocal. This combination allows the listener to settle in the track. The opening is almost ballad like before the drums come in and turn it into more of a power ballad. This is definitely one of those songs I see their fan base singing back to them during live performances on tour. Its very nature is unifying. The guitar solo’s are a complete treat on this one as well. There are some really tight beautiful vocal harmonies towards the end.
Saviour Of Sinners opens up with a straight away prog metal delight with some neo progressive elements sprinkled in. The band really has a great talent in mixing the vocals to be isolated within the instrumental where they can be clearly heard and the story told. The rhythm section is spot on leading both the vocal harmony and the stringed section serving as a anchor for the entire track. Time signatures are definitely present all over this song.
Eternal Light the ethereal opening guitar solo on this track matches the title quite perfectly. It appears this was recorded live as is in studio along with a beautiful and perfectly complimentary keyboard in tandem harmony. The emotion in this track will take the listener for a emotional ride. It is the only instrumental on Heaven And Beyond.
Twins of Sins opens up in a almost unconventional classic rock format. It opens up much like 1980’s progressive rock when bands like Asia, Yes , etc took on more AOR elements. However the further this goes the more the track takes on a more modern neo progressive metal track with catchy time signatures and complex chord progressions to match the intricate bass and vocals. This track also serves as a great uplifting track to close out the album.
To my surprise Knight Area’s Heaven And Beyond was a very unconventionally guitar oriented neo progressive album. Sometimes the term neo progressive means it is more keyboard based however this album was not that. Heaven And Beyond is going to surprise some people in the progressive rock and metal communities since there is a little bit of everything for the progressive pallet. I would not be surprised to find this album in the Top 5 or even #1 of the Album Of 2017 lists when they come out at the end of the year. This is a very good album and gets a 5/5 for the variety of many progressive elements.