Odd Logic | Effigy | Album Review February 2017

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Odd Logic | Effigy

 

Label : Offseason Records
Release Year : 2017
Country : USA
Genre : Progressive Metal

 

Band Members

Sean Thompson – Vocals/Guitar/Keyboards
Mike Lee – Bass
Pete Hanson – Drums

 

Contact Links 

Odd Logic Official Facebook Page

Odd Logic Official CD Baby Profile

Odd Logic Official Bandcamp Store

Odd Logic Official Reverbnation Profile

 

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– Writer’s Note –

To say I was 100% familiar with Odd Logic would be false. I have heard much about them throughout the years by word of mouth from other friends. To prepare for this review I had to go back a listen to their previous material. You can say it was a true crash course. The following review will be written as if I have stumbled upon a new band.

Three man bands are no stranger to the community of progressive rock/metal. Many in fact are some of the most influential throughout the history of progressive rock. RUSH, ELP (Emerson,Lake & Palmer), Italian prog rockers Latte e Miele and at some points King Crimson, and Neu of ‘Krautrock’ or German Progressive Rock all to name a few. These three man bands or ‘trios’ would have maximum distribution in sound considering their numbers. Trio’s a lot of the time have to use one man to compensate for the appearance of two maybe three. This means it truly requires talent of both the craft of musicianship and the trade of performance to take it to a audience. This is very evident in the USA based band Odd Logic.

Odd Logic are the brainchild of Tacoma, Washington resident Sean Thompson. After leaving his original band MINE in 2002, he sought out to build a much more ‘progressive’ sounding band. This was even if he had to call in his ‘guest’ percussionist and bassist alter ego’s. Soon after later releases including Legends Of Monta: Part I – 2006, Legends Of Monta: Part II – 2009, Odd Logic would become a complete band with Pete Hanson – Drums and Mike Lee – Bass. Now as we enter into 2017 the band has returned with a greatly and highly improved project in Effigy.

Just as early progressive metal pioneers of the Pacific Northwest of Seattle Washington in Queensryche released the very pivotal Operation Mindcrime almost 30 years prior. So too Odd Logic now have ‘that-pivotal’ recording in their library with Effigy. Odd Logic’s Effigy has a grand spectrum of many dimensions that fall into the progressive rock and metal banner. Effigy has classic progressive hard rock influences such as Kansas, neo progressive influences of Marillion and Enchant to progressive metal influences such as King’s X Dream Theater, Symphony X, Opeth.

The further into Effigy the listener gets the more all the above mentioned influences begin to really stand out with great clarity. Odd Logic is also one of those bands that do a great job wearing their influences on their sleeve without it appearing they are trying to mock or imitate their influences which sometime’s happens in the progressive rock/metal world. Now let’s go into Odd Logic’s Effigy with some highlights of the well balanced musicianship that lies within each and every track.

 

Effigy the title track and the epic of the album, opens up very much in the vein of Fish era Marillion meets Wounded to Juggling 9 Dropping 10 era Enchant using quality neo progressive elements and time signatures. For the first 5 to 7 and a half minutes of the 17:29 the band executes in and out time chord progressions matched by very intricate time signatures to give the track various dimensions as to keep the listener’s long term attentions spans. Parts of Effigy even show shades of Sieges Even and Subsignal. The band gives the appearance of many shorter tracks within this epic. The listener has absolutely no time to get board. The band are always changing things up.

At the 8:30 mark of Effigy a wonderful and classic Hammond Organ comes into play to carry the track further into the bands objective for this track. The guitar solo’s have this big ethereal sound to blend into the various dimensions of the synths. The various sum of the parts of the instruments fulfill the purpose both in isolation and harmony. The various time signatures give different pictures on the tapestry and the theater of the mind of the listener. Effigy is certainly non stop time signatures and non stop chord progression change up’s on all levels of the audio senses.

Master Of The Moor starts off with a thunderous passage heavily based in the bass/drum rhythm section. The track gets progressively heavier and heavier going forward. There is a very fluid yet wicked underlying Hammond Organ section giving this track some heavy soundscapes and darker dimensions. The guitar has some serious rhythm based distortion while keeping in step with the intended purpose of the composition structure. The double blast beats also add much depth in Master Of The Moor. About the 4:15 mark the band uses a very abstract yet very easy vibe on the vocal harmony.

 

Mercenary explodes in the intro with a very Opeth Deliverance to Ghost Reveries era style passage. The band make excellent usage of the death growls in harmony with the instrumental portions. The death vocals interchange with various clean vocals on various different vocal scales. The track breaks and goes back into a cleaner vocal oriented track utilizing various vocal harmonies with both lead and background vocals trading off.

 

The Yearning the shortest track on the album still packs the same progressive punch as any other song on Effigy. This one opens up with a beautiful acoustical passage that is soon joined in harmony with the lead vocal. The vocal isolation allows for the vocal to tell a story. Soon backing vocals come in and it lowers the discriminatory defenses the listener may have. If there is a ballad on the album The Yearning is definitely it.

Witch Runner opens up with a more straight away conventional progressive hard rock intro. The neo progressive element in the intro continues to show the bands depth and progress. As I listen to this song in particular much more, I start to see the band forming their own sound off the many influences within the progressive rock/metal communities. Sean Thompson has a very strong Ted Leonard of Enchant vocal style working. The song takes on a much more melodic progressive metal approach at the 3:15 mark. The Opeth style death growls return on this track and on the instrumental portion of the song it takes a very blistering narrative. The band keeps its core objective in multiple time signatures and chord progressions on Witch Runner.

Iron Skyline starts off with a killer full on progressive metal passage before taking a break and and allowing the vocal to be isolated as to tell a story. The isolated vocal also gives the appearance of an ethereal register. Now the band are doing a incredible job coming together as a unit. Iron Skyline in all its complex time signatures can also be performed live as a three piece. The band never make the mistake and record something they can never play live. They execute their individual talents and allow breathing room for all the sum of the parts to really come together in harmony. This even holds true with the continual interchanges within the various time signatures and changes as a result. The track continues with some of the best guitar solo’s I have heard in some time. The band truly displays its very guitar oriented narratives.

Memories Of Light opens with a beautiful acoustical guitar passage along with a vocal chant that is practically a bit haunting. Soon that drops off and the drums take center to carry in a full instrumental and harmonic passage. The song soon takes on a anthem style about it. This track has a lot of personality that it gives the appearance that every instrument takes the lead at various points throughout the song. The guitar solo is as if the band wrote some jazz influenced passage and transcribed it to the guitar. At the 5:20 mark the track takes on some very interesting vocal harmonies.

Maiden Child opens up with some very wicked and deliberate rhythmic progressions. This opens up with some serious distorted grit with some power behind it. There are multiple levels in this one that leads in and out of various time progressions giving the song many faces and atmospheres. As a matter of fact this is the most atmospheric track on the album. The time signatures actually dictate the atmospheric narrative on Maiden Child. The guitar solo’s blend in nicely with the heavily lush atmospheres. This track allows the listener to become enveloped in it on many levels. The track is truly anchored by the Hammond Organ styled synth blended with the rhythm section. This track gets heavier and heavier the further you go into it. The vocal melodies really rest in harmony with the Hammond Organ styled synth. There is a fade out effect on the outro before fading back in briefly for the finish.

After going through the bands earlier efforts in my preparation for this review, I see a band that continues to grow. I also see a band that continues to improve in all areas of album making. Whether it is in the writing, recording, mixing, engineering or mastering Odd Logic improve more and more on every album and every song. I feel Effigy is the first album that gives the band a quality set list for live shows. Just on the improvements and effort to detail alone I am giving Odd Logic’s Effigy a 4/5.

 

 

 

Melodic Revolution Records Feature Album January/February 2017 | Alex Grata & Anton Darusso|Brothers In Arms

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Melodic Revolution Records Feature Album January/February 2017
Alex Grata & Anton Darusso|Brothers In Arms

Label: Melodic Revolution Records
Release Year: 2017
Country: Multinational
Genre: Hard Rock/Progressive/Rock/Melodic Rock

 

Band Members

Alex Grata: Vocals and Assorted Instruments
Anton Darusso: Vocals and Assorted Instruments
Jason Jenkins: Guitar Solo on 2
Dmitry 4Vergov: Guitar Solo on 4, 10, 11
Dmitry Turin: Guitar Solo on 1, 4, 6, 11
Toledo: Rapper 6, 8
Olga Larina: Backing Vocals 6
Marco Vinicio Castro Pinagel: Arrangement, Programing Guitars 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11
Roman Zaslavsky: Arrangement, Programing 8, 12
Girls-Band: Assorted Vocals 10 Sixth Sense 2

 

Tracklist

1) Nothing to Hide – 3:58
2) Blind – 2:13
3) It’s Time for Love – 4:56
4) Drops of Compassion – 3:21
5) Frozen Tears – 4:52
6) So Many Ways to Go – 4:05
7) When the Music’s Over – 4:02
8) Super Hero – 3:18
9) Keep the Fire Burning – 3:40
10) Angel Like You – 3:23

Contact Links 

Alex Grats & Anton Durasso’s Brothers In Arms Official Melodic Revolution Records Profile

Alex Grats & Anton Durasso’s Brothers In Arms Official Facebook Page

Melodic Revolution Records Official Website

Melodic Revolution Records Official Webstore

Melodic Revolution Records Webstore Official Brothers In Arms Profile

 

Alex Grata & Anton Darusso press photo

Media Contact
Alex Grata: alexgrata@gmail.com
Album Art by Ed Unitsky: www.facebook.com/Ed.Unitsky.fanpage
© 2017 Alex Grata & Anton Darusso

Melodic Revolution Records has a never ending mission to be totally distinctive and to stand out among their peers and contemporaries in the music industry. They are willing to sign and bands and give them a chance where some other labels would pass on. It seems that every time I do a Melodic Revolution Records feature on Power of Prog here that I come across a band that continues to hold true with Brothers In Arms. This is a rather new musical venture founded by Alex Grata out of Russia and Anton Darusso out of San Jose, Costa Rica.

This truly is a international flavour within the structure of a two man outfit plus friends. Alex Grata and Anton Darusso take their respective local and international musical influences and create some of the most original melodic hard rock, melodic heavy metal that I have heard in some time. Brothers In Arms is like a mixture of Whitesnake meets Angra with a little bit of The Police and Eddie Grant.

The only thing I can see as formulaic on Brothers In Arms is opening up with a few rocker tracks in Nothing To Hide and Blind to the ballad of the third song It’s Time For Love. Out side of being formulaic in that manner, Alex & Anton go into areas of writing, mixing, recording and mastering the album as a collective that changes the traditional hard rock discourse. They allowed themselves such depth and expanse where they could not exactly be pigeonholed into one sound to the next.
On top of straight ahead traditional melodic progressive metal, hard rock, there are so very obvious progressive elements in Brothers In Arms. When I say progressive I mean more towards progressive elements utilized by bands like Deep Purple’s Mark 2 & 3, Rush’s Fly By Night through Moving Pictures era and some Glenn Hughes through the years. Now I will go into some highlights of Alex Grata & Anton Durasso’s Brothers In Arms.

Nothing to Hide starts out with a two tone harmonic with a piano followed by a thunderous intro. Both the rhythm section and a wall of vocals immediately demand the listeners attention. There is a lot of chord bending here also. The vocals are very Glenn Hughes in nature with a bit more bass in the voice. The harmonies come off very clean as well. There is also a nice spoken word narrative going on.

( Anton Durasso – Time For Love )

Blind opens up as a straight away 1970’s atmosphere with the driving riffs and vocals. It is catchy enough for radio, yet has a sensibility that also appeals to the listener that has a more non radio indie audio pallet. Blind also has infectious solo’s.

It’s Time for Love is one of the ballads from Brothers in Arms. It opens up with a passage that has a lush piano/synth backbone. This is one of those traditional ballads that you can share with your significant other or as reflection of a past relationship. Like most ballads this is a huge vocal harmony based track. Towards the last half it takes a nice break where the vocals are more isolated where the listener can digest the song.

Drops of Compassion starts off almost in the vibe of a AOR style track. AOR meaning something from Toto or even Jim Peterik. It soons takes a more of a driving hard rock approach thereafter. Once again Alex Grata and Anton Durasso establish Brothers In Arms as a very vocal oriented project. There are even elements of Reggae within the vocals on this one. The heavy guitar solos and deep rhythmic sections continue on this one.

Frozen Tears is another ballad on the album that opens up with a beautiful piano passage. This is also perfectly complimented by by a isolated harmony in the vocals. Soon the track picks up and turns into a more rock/ballad with heavier guitars and deep bass on rhythm sections. There are parts in the vocal structure that hint at light power elements like Angra from Brazil. The guitar solo is absolutely beautiful. If the band are to ever play live I see Frozen Tears as a setlist fixture.

So Many Ways to Go opens up with a very deep Reggae style track much in the vein of a Bob Marley And The Whalers meets Eddie Grant with a hint of Toto, Africa era. This is another track that has potential in finding a un compromised niche audience. Some of the guitar solo’s remind me of Neil Schon of Journey.

When the Music’s Over starts off with a slight Beatles 1960’s style isolated vocals. This track hits the listener on many levels. It is also the more progressive rock oriented track with multiple changes within the track. It is those multiple changes that keep the listener continually involved. The passages kind of even go as far as to change in full genres between the verse chorus passage.

Super Hero begins with a very nasty melodic metal guitar style. It will take the traditional hard rock audience a little bit of time to absorb the funk element in the track. This is as if Earth Wind and Fire were to include a melodic metal element in their compositions

Keep the Fire Burning is the third and final ballad on the album. It is very traditional hard rock on the instrumental portion. However, it is also very modern with the vocal harmonies. With the vocal harmony it is very very experimental. The vocal ranges are much like the higher register of a David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes from Deep Purple’s Mark 3 era.

Angel Like You is not really a ballad. It is once again the guys really experimenting and taking hard melodic rock to different levels. The addition of the female vocal reminds me heavily of Robin Beck or even a Sass Jordan. The male vocal is being pumped with a slightly filtered register. This is a full confirmation of the guys goal of giving the world a very vocal oriented hard rock, melodic metal album.

Although I really do not see a heavy progressive side to Brothers In Arms it still represents all other claims of hard rock, melodic metal. Brothers In Arms is another step into the evolution and possibility of where hard rock or melodic metal can go. This album was not just thrown together either. It was very well thought out and written over time. Alex Grata & Anton Durasso also have something to influence and perhaps recruit future generations of musicians with experimentation . This album gets a 4/5 for its experimental nature.

 

The Doors | The Doors 1967 | 50th Anniversary Retrospective

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The Doors | The Doors 1967
50th Anniversary Retrospective

Label: Elektra Records
Release Year: 1967
Country: USA
Genre: Dark/Psychedelic Rock/Blues/Folk Rock

 

Band Members

Jim Morrison- Vocals
Ray Manzarek- Bass Organ/Keyboards/Hammond Organ
Robby Krieger- Guitar
John Densmore- Drums

 

Contact Links

The Doors Official Website

The Doors Official Facebook Page

The Doors Official Twitter

The Doors Official YouTube Channel

Elektra Records Official Website

The Doors Official Elektra Records Legacy Profile

Elektra Records Official YouTube Channel

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The year is 1967, the first successful heart transplant happens in South Africa, the first ever bank ATM machine comes on to the landscape, the Monterey Pop Music & Arts Festival takes place in Monterey California, the first ever Super Bowl played between the Green Bay Packers vs Kansas City Chiefs plays and the Six Day War In Israel occurs. Meanwhile the USA is involved in the nations first ever televised war in Vietnam.
The war in Vietnam would ultimately lead to the infamous ‘Flower Power’ peace movement birthed in San Francisco California, the United Kingdom would begin to export some that would later be known as Progressive Rock and the United States was still being over run with music of peace from home and longer form progressive music from both the United Kingdom and Germany with ‘Krautrock’. However in the world of music and pop culture that all was about to change.

It was 1965 and two film students from UCLA Jim Morrison and Ray Manzerek would be on a collision course with melodic destiny. On the streets and in the underground of 1965 Los Angeles, Jim Morrison would develop a cult like following as a poet. Though he’d never intended to be a singer, Morrison was invited to join Manzarek’s group Rick and the Ravens on the strength of his poetry. Robby Krieger andJohn Densmore, who’d played together in the band Psychedelic Rangers, were recruited soon thereafter; though several bassists auditioned of the new collective, none could furnish the bottom end as effectively as Manzarek’s left hand. Taking their name from Aldous Huxley’s psychotropic monograph The Doors of Perception, the band signed to Elektra Records following a now-legendary gig at the Whisky-a-Go-Go on the Sunset Strip. Later The Doors of Perception would be shorten to just The Doors.

In 1967 The Doors would release their self titled debut on a Elektra Records and it is that very self titled debut that is the subject of this very ‘retrospective piece’. It is always good to do these retrospectives because it allows for those who were there to reflect in a pool of nostalgia, a possible introduction to the band and album of the generations that would come after and finally to pass the stories down along the lines of posterity. In this particular retrospective I will share some fun song facts I researched for this and to introduce a newer generation to the very fabric of origins of the music we love . This album in a very backhanded way was my gateway into progressive rock and I will explain that later on in this piece.

As far as the dark content and imagery The Doors painted on their debut, it was a total rebellion to the ‘Flower Power’ movement of the day. The Doors were not feeling all the peace and love many of their contemporaries were. The Doors lyrically and instrumentally walked down the darker and less travel road. Their collective mindset deliberately took the road less traveled back in that day and time. The fact they were taking the much darker approach in the music also certainly allowed for the band to not only be as distinctive as night and day among their peers but would garner the attention of watchdog groups set up by both governments and some religious organizations of the day.

A lot of the lyrical content of the album was influenced by the very childhood of Jim Morrison. Constantly challenging censorship and conventional wisdom, Jim Morrison’s lyrics delved into primal issues of sex, violence, freedom and the spirit. He outraged authority figures, braved intimidation and arrest, and followed the road of excess (as one of his muses, the poet William Blake, famously put it) toward the palace of wisdom. Ray Manzarek was the architect of The Doors’ intoxicating keyboard sound. Manzarek’s evocative playing fused rock, jazz, blues, bossa nova and an array of other styles into something utterly, dazzlingly new.

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Drummer John Densmore was far more than merely the rhythmic engine of The Doors. Strongly influenced by jazz skinsmen like Elvin Jones and the supple grooves of the Brazilian wave, he brought a highly evolved sense of dynamics, structure and musicality to his beats. Inexorably drawn to music from childhood, Los Angeles-born Densmore honed his sense of dynamics playing with his high school marching band. In the mid-’60s he joined guitarist Robby Krieger in a band called Psychedelic Rangers; shortly thereafter they hooked up with keyboardist Ray Manzarek and Morrison, and an explosive chapter in the development of rock ‘n’ roll began. A raft of paradigm-shifting recordings and epochal live performances would follow. With a flair for wicked bottleneck slide, exploratory solos and gutbucket grooves, guitarist Robby Krieger brought a stinging, sinuous intensity to the sound of The Doors. But he was also a key songwriter in the band and penned some of their biggest hits – notably their mesmerizing #1 hit, “Light My Fire.” Before picking up the guitar at age 17, the L.A. native studied trumpet and piano. The inspiration for switching to guitar came not from rock ‘n’ roll, but Spanish flamenco music. His first guitar hero, however, was jazz legend Wes Montgomery. After Morrison’s death in 1971, Krieger, Manzarek and Densmore carried on as a trio. They released two more albums as the Doors before calling it quits in 1973, though they did reconvene a few years later to create music for poetry Morrison had recorded shortly before his death, released as the 1978 album An American Prayer.

Now some highlights and song facts track by track on the self titled 1967 debut of The Doors, The Doors.

Break On Through (To The Other Side) takes off with some seriously blues laden rock riffs laid down by Robby Kreiger who sets the table for the listener. In this urgent song, Jim Morrison looks to shake things up, a common theme in his songwriting. In 1966, he said: “I like ideas about the breaking away or overthrowing of established order. I am interested in anything about revolt, disorder, chaos, especially activity that seems to have no meaning.” This was the first song on The Doors first album, and also their first single. It got some airplay on Los Angeles radio stations after their friends and fans kept requesting it.
The original line in the chorus was “She gets high,” but their producer Paul Rothchild thought that would limit the song’s airplay potential, and convinced the group to leave it out. Instead, “high” was edited out, making it sound like, “she get uuggh,” but the “high” line can be heard in live versions. You can also hear the song as intended in the 1999 reissue of the album, which was overseen by their original engineer Bruce Botnick. He also replaced Jim Morrison’s “f–k”s on “The End.” These edits went over about as well as the digital revisions to Star Wars.

Soul Kitchen perhaps a highly under rated and hidden anthem for The Doors is a tribute to a soul food restaurant Jim Morrison ate at on Venice Beach called Olivia’s. Morrison often stayed too late at Olivia’s, where he liked the food because it reminded him of home and warmed his “soul.” They often kicked him out so they can close, thus lines like: “let me sleep all night, in your soul kitchen.”
“Soul Kitchen” as a restaurant title, would have of course referred to “soul food.” That’s a traditional kind of cuisine popular with African Americans of the mid-20th century, named in harmony with other “soul” affectations. Soul food usually revolved around ham (cuts like hog’s feet and hog jowls), beans, okra, hushpuppies, cornbread, collard greens, and other one-offs of standard American fair. The idea is to that the food is both economical and very filling. People in colder climates (from any culture) may also find soul food comforting in the heart of winter, since you’re going to burn all those calories shoveling snow anyway.
According to the Greil Marcus book The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years, “Soul Kitchen” was The Doors’ own “Gloria,” comparing the steady climb toward a looming chorus. It also quotes Paul Williams’ May 1967 article in Crawdaddy! opining that it was more comparable to “Blowin’ in the Wind,” in that both songs have a message, but the message of “Soul Kitchen” is of course “learn to forget.”
Meanwhile, John Densmore’s book Riders on the Storm: My Life with Jim Morrison and the Doors declares that the title restaurant Olivia’s was a “small soul food restaurant at the corner of Ocean Park and Main.” The author describes a meal there with Morrison, commenting that the restaurant “belonged in Biloxi, Mississippi” and resembled “an Amtrak dining car that got stranded on the beach” and was packed with UCLA film students. Another famous diner was Linda Ronstadt.

The Crystal Ship is clearly a ethereal based track revolving around suggestive imagery and content on a lyrical basis. This song came from poetry written in Jim Morrison’s notebooks. He wrote it after splitting up with his girlfriend, Mary Werbelow, in the summer of 1965. While the “Crystal Ship” is sometimes thought to represent drugs, Ken Rafferty from The Annotated Lyrics makes this case:
This song has nothing to do with drugs and everything about Jim Morrison’s heavy relationship with his first love, Mary Werbelow. As a poet, he did nothing more than use transparent images for his relation to the past. He (Jim Morrison) hasn’t let go of her as evidenced in the first line, “Before you slip into unconsciousness, I’d like to have another kiss.” That means the protagonist had already left her in the physical realm, but has not left her subconsciously. The thought of her still burdens him and he just wants another kiss to somehow make it feel better.
“Another flashing chance at bliss, another kiss.” Again, he cannot seem to let go of their love, their relationship, and how much she meant to him.
“The days are bright and filled with pain.” He’s moved on and is now doing very well as a singer/songwriter in a rock band in L.A., but he still has feelings for her and this song is his testament to her that he still has feelings for her.
“The time you ran was too insane.” Jim was one to mock even his girlfriends- he would tease others, but mostly, he was testing them. This line very well could be a reference to a time he felt bad about verbally teasing her- knowing that it upset her.
“The streets are fields that never die, deliver me from reasons why, you’d rather cry, I’d rather fly.” A simple line that confirms the end of the relationship and that the protagonist is willing to move on. The streets are fields are his memories, and because they are vague memories now, they also present a reason why he can forget.
And that last stanza confirms his growing popularity as a lead singer for a rock band with an ever-growing popularity. The beauty of it though is how he is saying to her that no matter how big he becomes, he will still think of her, and even call her, when he gets the chance.

Twentieth Century Fox is perhaps the most humourous tongue cheek song on the entire album. It is definitely something much lighter on the audio pallet in the midst of an album dealing with so much dark yet brooding material. This song is about a fashionable, but unfeeling woman. The title is a play on words – it’s the name of a popular movie studio, but Jim Morrison’s lyrics refer to a girl – “fox” was a popular term for a pretty girl at the time. The movie studio is used to represent the woman in the song, who is glamorous, but artificial.
The studio, 20th Century Fox, is one of the Big Six studios. Fox Film Corporation was founded in 1915, while Twentieth Century Pictures was founded in 1933. They merged in 1935 and became “The Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation.”
Producer Paul Rothchild had the band walk on wooden planks during the chorus to get the pounding effect.
In 2002, original Doors Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek joined former Police drummer Stewart Copeland and former Cult singer Ian Astbury to form a new group which they called “21st Century Doors,” the name being a takeoff on this song. They were going to start touring in 2002, but had to postpone until 2003 when Copeland broke his arm while biking. Krieger and Manzarek replaced him with drummer Ty Dennis, and Copeland filed a lawsuit claiming they broke an oral agreement to keep him as their drummer. The band was also sued by original drummer John Densmore, and by Jim Morrison’s parents, who felt they were misappropriating the Doors name. Krieger and Manzarek eventually changed the name to “Riders On The Storm.”

Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar) is another song off the album with more of a pop sensibility. This is a cover of a German opera song written in 1929 by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht. It was used in a controversial 1930 German operetta called The Rise And Fall Of The City Of Mahogany.
The themes of materialism, despair, and illicit pleasures from the operetta this was taken from would be revisited often by The Doors. The song took on a more literal meaning over the years as Jim Morrison’s drug and alcohol problems became public knowledge. The Doors got the idea for this from an album of German songs their keyboard player, Ray Manzarek, had. In 2000, the surviving members of the Doors taped a VH1 Storytellers episode with guest vocalists filling in for Morrison. Ian Astbury sang on this track, and in 2002 joined Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger when they toured as The Doors of the 21st Century. He fronted their group, which changed names after a lawsuit filed by original drummer John Densmore, until 2007, doing about 150 shows.

Light My Fire next to ‘The End’ is probably the most controversial and dubious song on the album. It would chart on Billboard in America at #1 and the United Kingdom at #7. It would also be one of the contemporary rock songs of its time to the present day to have airplay of its original format at 7:14.
Most of the song was written by Doors guitarist Robby Krieger, who wanted to write about one of the elements: fire, air, earth, and water. A fan of the Rolling Stones song “Play With Fire,” he decided to go hot. Krieger came up with the melody and wrote most of the lyrics, which are about leaving inhibitions behind in flames of passion.
At first, the song had a folk flavor, but it ignited when Jim Morrison wrote the second verse (“our love become a funeral pyre…”) and Ray Manzarek came up with the famous organ intro. Drummer John Densmore also contributed, coming up with the rhythm. Like all Doors songs of this era, the band shared composer credits.
This became The Doors’ signature song. Included on their first album, it was a huge hit and launched them to stardom. Before it was released, The Doors were an underground band popular in the Los Angeles area, but “Light My Fire” got the attention of a mass audience.
On the album, which was released in January 1967, the song runs 6:50. The group’s first single, “Break On Through (To The Other Side),” reached just #126 in America. “Light My Fire” was deemed too long for airplay, but radio stations (especially in Los Angeles) got requests for the song from listeners who heard it off the album. Their label, Elektra Records decided to release a shorter version so they had producer Paul Rothchild do an edit. By chopping out the guitar solos, he whittled it down to 2:52.

This version was released as a single in April, and the song took off, giving The Doors their first big hit.

To many fans, the single edit was an abomination, and many DJs played the album version once the song took off. The producers of The Ed Sullivan Show asked the band to change the line “Girl we couldn’t get much higher” for their appearance in 1967. Morrison said he would, but sung it anyway. Afterwards, he told Sullivan that he was nervous and simply forgot to change the line. This didn’t fly, and The Doors were never invited back.

 

Back Door Man spoke of a issue becoming a epidemic of the day, that being infidelity or adultery. It was easy to see why considering all the ‘Free Love’ propaganda going about in the culture. A Willie Dixon blues song from 1961, this has been covered by John Hammond Jr. and Howlin’ Wolf, among others. The Doors decided to cover this after their guitarist Robby Krieger heard John Hammond Jr.’s version.
A “Back Door Man” is a guy who has relations with a woman while her husband has been out slaving away to provide for her. The usual guilty perpetrator if a wife was caught cheating was a regular tradesman caller (Ice Man, Insurance Salesman etc.). He would then run out the back door as the husband entered the front door. The “Back Door Man” theme has been taken up in several Soul and Blues songs, including “Back Door Santa” by Clarence Carter.
At a show at Winterland in San Francisco, The Doors stopped in the middle of this when their taped performance came on The Jonathan Winters Show. They watched the segment from a TV on stage, picked up their instruments, and finished the song. The Doors played a lot of Blues songs in their early days when they were playing clubs, but this is the only one they recorded until 2 years later, when they did “Crawling King Snake” on LA Woman.
The Doors performed this at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970. The Doors didn’t play well, as Morrison was worried about his trial resulting from a Miami concert where he was accused of exposing himself to the crowd. Morrison was convicted of indecent exposure, but died while the case was under appeal. In 2010, the governor of Florida granted Morrison a posthumous pardon after a fan requested a review of the case.

I Looked At You was a very pop kind of track at the time. It was a song that could certainly hang with anything The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Mama’ And Papa’s and even The Monkees had put out at that point. But even in what at first sounds like a sunny pop tune, Jim Morrison managed to weave some disturbing thoughts. While the song catalogs an exchange of lover’s looks, smiles and words like any other love song might do, the driving message here is that the lovers can’t turn back, and “it’s too late”. Maybe it’s simply too late for the lovers not to be deeply in love, but the edginess and weariness in Morrison’s vocals suggest a more sinister subtext. Not exactly “Happy Together”.

End Of The Night is a deeply and heavily psychedelic folk rock track. It also is as deeply disturbing on a lyrical front as the emotion conveys through the instrumental portion of the track. This is definitely a song that takes on another life once the lyrics marry with the instrumental. This is a “confession” of Jim Morrison’s aims in life. To the end of the night was his aim through many ways of speeding up death, a kind of death through hallucinations and visions into other worlds (drugs). He was trying to get somewhere nobody had ever been before, a place of complete peace.
The title and some of the lyrics were inspired by the 1932 French novel Journey To The End Of The Night by Louis-Ferdinand Celine.

The lyrics:

Realms of bliss, realms of light
Some are born to sweet delight
Some are born to sweet delight
Some are born to the endless night

Are taken almost verbatim from the poem Auguries Of Innocence by William Blake, which includes the passage:

Every morn and every night
Some are born to sweet delight
Some are born to sweet delight
Some are born to endless night

 

Take It As It Comes Just as George Harrison of The Beatles had developed a friendship with his spiritual leader Ravi Shankar, so had Jim Morrison with The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1917-2008. “Maharishi”. This song is about accepting what life gives you at your own pace. It was dedicated to the Maharishi, a teacher of transcendental meditation, after Jim Morrison attended one of his lectures. The full name of this particular Maharishi is Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1917-2008. “Maharishi” itself is just a title meaning “enlightened, spiritual one.” Yogi had a good sense of humor and as he often laughed in TV interviews, he was nicknamed “the giggling guru.” While his teachings, the practice of transcendental meditation, were usually associated with Hindu or Buddhist religions, Yogi was out to advocate meditation itself as a spiritual practice and alternative medicine, based on his interpretation of the ancient Vedic science.
The Maharishi is famous for leading a meditation camp in 1967 attended by The Beatles, Donovan, and Mia Farrow. John Lennon wrote “Sexy Sadie” about The Maharishi.

 

The End
– Journey To The Center Of The Progressive Universe #1-

It was the summer of 1979 and my parents had been in the middle of a nasty divorce. I would eventually end up leaving Ohio and go to California with my dad and new step mother. My dad had just changed out the old 8 track player for a new state of the art cassette player. On our way to California he put in the first cassette at it was the very album I have been talking about in this retrospective, The Doors The Doors.
I remember how utterly scary this was to a 7 year old child at the time. The utter darkness to it. The 11:00 + minutes left me in bewilderment. It really scared the hell out of me but left me in total awe and intrigue. Never before had I ever heard a song that long up till that time. This would give me such a total void into long form music that demanded to be filled. It was in fact off this track that I learned of Yes’s Close To The Edge, Jethro Tull’s Thick As A Brick, Genesis’ Suppers Ready and even RUSH’s 2112. Much like Dorothy in the Land Of OZ this started my journey into progressive rock/metal. I went through the wormhole and down that yellow brick road and have never returned since.

The End (Revisited) “The End” is death, although the song also deals with Jim Morrison’s parents – it contains Oedipal themes of loving the mother and killing the father. Morrison was always vague as to the meaning, explaining: “It could be almost anything you want it to be.”
The Doors developed this song during live performances at the Whisky a Go Go, a Los Angeles club where they were the house band in 1966. They had to play two sets a night, so they were forced to extend their songs in order to fill the sets. This gave them a chance to experiment with their songs.

“The End” began as Jim Morrison’s farewell to Mary Werbelow, his girlfriend who followed him from Florida to Los Angeles. It developed into an 11-minute epic.

On August 21, 1966, Jim Morrison didn’t show up for The Doors gig at the Whisky a Go Go. After playing the first set without him, the band retrieved Morrison from his apartment, where he had been tripping on acid. They always played “The End” as the last song, but Morrison decided to play it early in the set, and the band went along. When they got to the part where he could do a spoken improvisation, he started talking about a killer, and said, “Father, I want to kill you. Mother, I want to f–k you!” The crowd went nuts, but the band was fired right after the show. The Doors had recently signed a record deal and they had established a large following, so getting fired from the Whisky was not a crushing blow.
Morrison sang this live as “F–k the mother,” rather than “Screw the mother.” At the time, the band couldn’t cross what their engineer Bruce Botnick called “the f–k barrier,” so they sanitized the lyric on the album. When Botnick remixed the album for a 1999 reissue, however, he put Morrison’s “f–k”s back in, which is how the song was intended.

This was famously used in the movie Apocalypse Now over scenes from the Vietnam War. Director Francis Ford Coppola had it remixed to include the line “F–k the mother.”

 

Make no mistake The Doors The Doors goes down as one of the strongest debut albums in rock history. It is one of the original fusion albums perfectly mixing rock, blues, psychedelic, jazz and even folk elements. This is also one of the most experimental debut rock albums in history yielding the 7+ minute Light My Fire and the 11+ minute The End, something unheard of for a American band at the time. This self titled debut instantly cemented the band’s legacy as one we still talk about 50 years later. The Doors The Doors is one of those rock albums and debuts that continually transcends time and generations.

 

MindAhead | Reflections 2016

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MindAhead | Reflections  2016 

 

Label: Revalve Records
Release Year: 2016
Country: Italy
Genre: Progressive Avant Garde/ Melodic Death Metal

 

Band Members

Frank Novelli – Male Vocals/Grunts
Kyo Calati – Female Vocals/ Clean
Nicola D’Alessio – Guitars
Guido “Shiboh” Scibetta – Guitars
Matteo Prandini – Bass
Matteo Ferrigno – Drums

 

Contact Links 

MindAhead Official Facebook Page

MindAhead Official Twitter

MindAhead Official YouTube Channel

MindAhead Official Revalve Records Profile

Revalve Records Official Website Store

Revalve Records Official YouTube Channel

 

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Avante garde : an intelligentsia that develops new or experimental concepts especially in the arts.

– Merriam Webster Dictionary – 2016

 

I have always looked at avant garde arts, sciences and music as deliberate conceptual ideas that are presented to the desired audience as concepts of purpose. Various elements and portions of avant garde are placed there within the arts, science and music they are intended for. The respective artists within the avant garde community have always applied there ideas to either obtain a desired effect or to innovate a change in the conventional wisdom of what is or is not acceptable.

All the above mentioned narrative applies to Italy’s MindAhead. It has certainly been quite a while since I heard a band so organic with its elements. According to the Official MindAhead Facebook page they explain themselves this way,

“The idea is to merge different aspects, sometimes opposite ones, of the human feeling, gathering them in a variegated personal music proposal, that plunge its roots in musical influences that go from seventies progressive rock to the death metal.”

This is the total truth and nothing but. I would like to think they are a cross between Opeth meets Epica meets Between The Buried And Me meets Delain. The ‘Beauty/Beast Metal’ element of clean sweet ethereal female vocals married to the more abrasive male death metal grunts is probably the most contemporary element to this album. The rest is a organic innovation. The true innovative element is the classical chamber like musical elements laced throughout the album from the first track Reflection to the last track Memories.

The more I have listened to it the better the journey. It is definitely for an acquired audio pallet. This is also not one of those over the top productions that seems compressed nor forced. As I mentioned above every chord progression and passage is there deliberately and has a purpose compared to certain passages and chord progressions other bands use just as a filler which there is many. In MindAhead’s Reflections we also have very vintage progressive elements that hearkened towards the 1970’s with some Pink Floyd to Yes style time signatures.

Now I will proceed to go into depth on MindAhead’s Reflections. This will be a track by track analysis

Reflection is a instrumental track to open the album. It is as if the music is playing in a chamber or open concert hall. It contains elements from both chamber music and early to middle 1970’s Pink Floyd in its atmospheric nature.

Remain Intact picks up with where Reflection left off. Marching to the backbone of double blast beats in the rhythm section and strong male grunts married with a sweet clean female vocal it is more progressive than symphonic. That is something rarely found with the Beauty & Beast elements of metal. Think later more progressive After Forever with more metalcore vocal elements in the grunts. There is a very intricate outro loaded with various time signature progressions.

Mind Control starts off with some dark ambient like atmosphere with a dark piano passage. Soon this track explodes with heavy rhythmic based double blast beats and the female male vocal dynamic. This is a track where the male vocal is not always rest in the grunt or growl narrative but also takes on a cleaner vocal as well. The track drops off at the end and sets up for a seamless transition to On The Dead Snow.

Video Courtesy of ( Revalve Records Official YouTube Channel )

On The Dead Snow fades in with a smooth seamless transition from where Mind Control leaves off. It soon explodes in a full sonic blast. It is a all out audio assault throughout this track. The rhythm section is like a full military assault of blast beats and tuned down bass. The guitar is not always a rhythmic instrument but also a lead stringed instrument. The middle of the track takes on layers and layers of melody and vocal harmony. This is a rare time where the male grunts are very understandable. The middle also serves as a breed ground of various progressive time signatures and off guitar solos. Towards the end the track has some elements of a ballad before the track picks up once again.

Video Courtesy of ( Revalve Records Official YouTube Channel )

Amigdala is the true epic on the album. It opens up with a very Pink Floyd atmospheric passage of great expanse and minimal elements. The bass and drum rhythmic sections kicks in to carry the atmosphere into towards the vocal narrative. This is a true 1970’s inspired progressive track that it continues to build layer upon layer of atmospheres. The vocal work of Kyo Calati has a soulful quality about it. The male grunts are more of a instrumental compliment for the cleaner more ethereal female vocal. The grunts span from death metal, to light grindcore and even have elements of black metal screams. There is such a heavy atmospheric aesthetic that the band allows for the track to breathe and not to lean some much on compression. The guitar solo’s are almost like that of David Gilmore meets Steve Howe of Yes. This track shows the mature depths that MindAhead have as a young band.

Emerald Green Eyes picks up where Amigdala left off with a heavy atmospheric opener before the track takes on a full assault once again with heavy blast beats and male death growls that serve the two fold purpose of a instrument and a harmonic vocal along with the female vocal. This track also takes on light industrial elements with the guitar and bass. At the 3:15 mark the track takes on a very prog rock vibe in the solo.

The Mask Through The Looking Glass (Part 1) starts out with almost a 16th century acoustical element. Soon it is layer with violins and keyboards to form a beautiful instrumental track. The Mask Through The Looking Glass (Part 1) serves as the perfect instrumental intro for The Mask Through The Looking Glass (Part 2).

The Mask Through The Looking Glass (Part 2) opens up with a surprising yet, blistering intro due to how The Mask Through The Looking Glass (Part 1) left off. This track also reminds me a lot of the NWOBHM or New Wave Of British Heavy Metal with the galloping guitar and bass rhythms. The female vocal really lights this one up very well. The entire rhythm section is some of the best I have heard in 10 years on this track. For a track that is only 6:31 this is full of time signatures and insane guitar solos.

Farewell opens up with a very clean and beautiful acoustic guitar intro. It continues to build layers upon layers in the stringed section with the percussive elements of drum and bass subtly coming into the track. The band allows much breathing room for the listener to become immersed in this track. If there had to be a ballad on the album, Farewell would fall into that category. Although it has a heavy ballad element about it, Farewell still maintains the progressive objective and integrity the band has displayed throughout the album.

Three Sides Of A Dangerous Mind opens up with a beautiful acoustic track before taking on a heavy charging assault with brutal double blast beats, the bass serving a two fold purpose of both a stringed and percussive element towards the rhythm section. This track is bound together with a beautiful atmosphere from start to finish. The atmospheric element helps the guitar solos, rhythm section and vocals stand out in a way that every member of the band can be fully heard and understood. This track also bring the album together as a great avant garde metal concept.

Memories is the third instrumental track on the album that closes the album just as cohesive as the opening track Reflection did. It helps the listeners audio senses digest the entire album they just heard as well.

 

MindAhead are a band of innovation in metal. They are on the vanguard of where avant garde and progressive metal is going into the future. I believe Reflections is opening up another door of true ideas and standards for this kind of experimental metal. They continue Italy’s rich under rated progressive rock and metal tradition. They have a very distinctive and unique sound that will stand out among the current metal landscape. MindAhead’s Reflections is one of the absolute strongest debut albums over the last 25 years. I am giving MindAhead’s Reflections a perfect 5/5.

Video Courtesy Of MindAhead Official YouTube Channel )

 

Words Of Farewell | A Quiet World | Album Review 2016

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Words Of Farewell | A Quiet World | 2016

 

Label : AMF Records/Germany
Release Year: 2016
Country: Germany
Genre: Progressive Melodic Death Metal

 

Band Members

Alexander Otto – Vocals & Lyrics
Erik Gaßmus – Lead & Rhythm Guitar
Robin Dirks – Lead & Rhythm Guitar
Konstantin Voßhoff – Bass
Tristan Wegner – Drums
Leo Wichmann – Keyboards & Ambient

Contact Links 

Words Of Farewell Official Website

Words Of Farewell Official Facebook Page

Words Of Farewell Official Twitter

Words Of Farewell Offiicial YouTube Channel

AFM Records Official Website

AFM Records Official YouTube Channel

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My first gateway into Melodic Death Metal came in 1995 at the expense of a damn good band called Dark Tranquility. They had been at the head of a new pioneering metal movement out of Sweden called Swedish Extreme Thrash Metal or Swedish Melodic Death Metal depending on who in this industry you ask. Anyway I remember the reoccurring power metal almost doom metal aesthetic it had going through it on the instrumental portion of the music. That would be met with a wall of almost blackened death folk metal vocal that ran side by side with the expert musicianship in the instrumental narrative.

Bands from Sweden such as Dark Tranqulity, Amon Amarth, At The Gates, Children Of Bodom, In Flames, etc… were all part of that Gothenburg Sweden sound that was taking the world in the first half of the decade of the 1990’s . Meanwhile you had the old guard of Grindcore metal in the United Kingdom in the form of Carcass, and later Norwegian Black Metal pioneers Enslaved starting to get more and more progressive in later years on later releases. It just seemed that once the Florida Death Metal scene with bands such as DEATH, Obituary, Morbid Angel, etc … gave birth to the genre as a whole many other parts of the world were placing their flavour and unique individual sounds on it thus making more melodic journeys with the sub genre.

The same can be said for Germany. Many of us who have been listened to progressive rock and progressive heavy metal along with death metal know that once it gets to Germany that it takes on a whole other sound and dichotomy that makes it uniquely German. Bands like the Scorpions, Accept, Helloween, Gamma Ray, Blind Guardian, etc … all have had one of the strongholds on metal particularly in power metal. Now marry the progressive, power and melodic death metal all into a well even balance with a German sound and it gives you a band like Words Of Farewell.

Taking every element from the Swedish Melodic Death Metal, the American Death Metal, the Power Metal of Germany with a taste American Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Symphony X , Fates Warning, etc.. sound that is Words Of Farewell. In just about 10 years time Words Of Farewell have been able to take many forms of metal and blend them to a sound so distinct and unique you can tell it is Words Of Farewell and not another band out there. The music itself may be an acquired audio pallet however with the proper objectivity a traditional metal listener could absorb the beautiful audio assault provided by Words of Farewell.

Their most recent release from AFM Records titled A Quiet World, is a true tour de force and adventure into more and more melodic layers of melodic death metal. This is also one of the more progressive albums I have heard out of this particular genre or lot of music. With A Quiet World, Words Of Farewell also go into the realms of symphonic metal as well. In doing my research to prepare for this review I wen out and got a lot of the band’s earlier albums to listen in contrast to the current album A Quiet World. Where some bands may change their sound and call it ‘evolving’ Words of Farewell have truly evolved in their unique sound without losing any of the quality of the sound from album to album. The band has maintained and even improved on their sound to produce the best possible product possible to their fan base and future fan bases to come.

Let us look at some highlights off the individual tracks of Words Of Farewell A Quiet World.

My Share Of Loneliness explodes right away with a progressive frenzy of various time signatures and chord progressions that seem more rooted in progressive metal. The chord progression also resemble a light industrial passage that has been very popular in Germany for the last 30+ years. The vocal tracking takes a spoken word element about to enhance the narrative of the lyrical content. The vocals are also tracked with such fullness and brilliance that it gives the illusion of many vocalists involved in reality there is only one.

Gaia Demise begins with a balanced keyboard and heavily drum induced rhythmic section. Soon the vocals begin to play off the drum backbone and follow the rhythmic progressions. The vocal also carries the the track in its initial minute and is as much a instrument as it is a vocal telling a story. There is a wicked hesitation in the rhythm guitar narrative.

Gallows Frame begins with a very eerie atmospheric passage before changing gears into a heavily rhythm based chord progression. The vocals once again play a wonderful part in serving both as a narrative vocal and instrumental. The keyboard is also tuned to play a piano style synth giving the stringed section as much atmosphere as the guitar plays to the drum/bass rhythmic section. This track has a very brooding rhythmic section that generates a further heaviness to the song.

Limit Cycle starts out as a semi film soundtrack style in the guitar passage. Soon the drums come in with subtle beats. There is a steady progression towards a heavier chord progressive passage. The keyboards once again serve a a technical instrument and a piano passage. The vocal is more spoken word until about the 2:00 mark. Then the track takes a wicked step steady progression using both the drum and keyboard narratives as a backbone to the rest of the track. The band really establishes the vocal narrative both as a melodic and a spoken word narrative on this track. The vocal almost leans towards a alight black metal echo as well.

Zero Temperance begins with atmospheric synths combined with grity distorted rhythm sections joined by the stringed portion of the guitar playing as a rhythmic instrument. The vocals remain brutal. The drums have many signatures and time progressions. The band thoroughly maintains the vocal order playing more off the explosive rhythm sections over the stringed sections.

Momentary Life begins with a very on off time signature almost dabbling into Djent. The time signatures are all over the place on this while still remaining on point to the bands primary sound aesthetic. The band clearly has a cohesive vision throughout A Quiet World and this particular track serves as a affirmation to that main objective. There is even some clean vocals serving as echoes off the main grunts.

Oversoul starts with a thick synth atmosphere. That is soon met with a explosive rhythm section that remains a anchor for the atmosphere. The vocals on this one really assault the listeners senses almost in a surround sound register. Although they are grunts and growls the vocals are really thick in harmony. About the 2:35 mark the drums go into a insane blast beat with the vocals playing into a brief spoken word narrative. Much like the rest of the album the guitar solos are very front and center on this as well.

The Farthest Reach begins with a almost Symphonic metal progression with heavy multi stringed guitars and basses. This track is also very heavily industrial in its nature, almost in the vein of a progressive Rammstein. This track also has a heavy oriental middle eastern element within it as well.

This Shadow My Likeness is the epic on the album clocking in at 10:45. It begins with a actual rare piano passage. It is borderline baroque meets progressive metal. The guitar solos rest heavily more on the progressive metal side to enhance the melodic experience. This is one of those typical epics that have a lengthy build up throughout the track. At the 2:55 mark the track is finally joined with vocals. The frame up of this track does not depend on a solid full 10:45 assault. There are some nice breaks for the listener to digest what the audio pallet is being delivered. There is a heavy spoken word element throughout this track as well. The guitar solos show hints of a classical influence as well. There is a nice conclusion to this epic as well. There is a spoken word element that concludes the story at the end.

I believe Words Of Farewell have taken all their influences and forged their own distinct metal sound. They have clearly placed Germany on the map for Progressive Melodic Death Metal. They have not really replaced all the Melodic Death Metal that was pioneered in Scandinavian countries they have enhanced it and taken it into another direction of posterity and evolution. I do not do this lightly but I am giving Words Of Farewell’s A Quiet World a strong 5/5.

Rik Emmett (Triumph) And RESolution9 | RES9 (2016)

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Rik Emmett (Triumph) & RESolution9 | RES9 (2016)

Label: Rockit Records/Mascot Label Group

Release Year: 2016

Country: Canada

Genre: Classic Rock/Blues/AOR

 

Band Members

Rik Emmet – Lead Guitars/Vocals

Dave Dunlop – Guitars

Paul Delong – Drums

Steve Stingley – Bass

 

Guest Musicians

James Labrie – Dream Theater – Vocals

Alex Lifeson RUSH – Guitars

 

Track Listing 

Stand Still

Human Race – (Alex Lifeson)

I Sing  – (James LaBrie)

My Cathedral

The Ghost of Shadow Town

When You Were My Baby

Sweet Tooth

Heads Up

Rest of My Life

End of the Line (Alex Lifeson & Jame LaBrie)

Grand Parade (Gil Moore & Mike Levine) (Bonus Track)

 

Contact Links

Rik Emmett Official Website

Rik Emmett Official Facebook Page

Rik Emmett Official Twitter

Rik Emmett Official YouTube Channel

Rik Emmett Official Mascot Group Label Profile

Mascot Label Group Official Website

 

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I can still remember my first introduction to Triumph. It was at the US Festival at Devore California in 1983. My main listening at that time was the NWOBHM bands like Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Saxon, Diamond Head and even some Ozzy Osbourne. So when I discovered I was going out to the US Festival with my parents to the Rock & Metal Day I had this preconceived idea that was going to watch and even listen to old geezer music. To my shock and surprise it was one of the very best concerts I have been to.

 This was Day #2 and the following played on the bill that day. Judas Priest , Mötley Crüe, Ozzy Osbourne , Quiet Riot, Scorpions, Triumph, Van Halen. The one  thing all this bands and artists had in common was in the vocals. The vocals on all this acts were up in the high rent district with towering soprano like styles. Besides Rob Halford in Judas Priest which was obvious of his insane range at the time, another one really stuck out at me. That being Triumph’s Rik Emmett. It was almost mandatory to have a vocal style like that in those days with this music.

Coming out of the same area about the same time as their contemporaries RUSH, Triumph would forge another path for Toronto, Ontario Canadian AOR/Arena Rock. What RUSH did to the progressive hard rock, Triumph would do for a new upcoming sub genre called Melodic Metal/AOR. Rik Emmett’s towering vocal style would also become both a mainstay on FM radio and the new medium of the day MTV. Like RUSH, Zebra and ZZ Top who were all three men outfits, Triumph would also find some satisfactory success on MTV. Songs like Lay It On The Line, Magic Power, Follow Your Heart and Fight The Good guaranteed that Triumph was much more than just the flavour of the month at the time. They were mainstays throughout the majority of the latter 1970’s through to the middle to latter part of the 1980’s.

Fast forward now to 2016. I am still discovering new depths and different sides to Rik Emmett. He returns with a powerful, knity grity style of stripped down almost blues hard rock AOR with Rik Emmett  & RESolution9 – RES9. If you think for a moment this is just another Triumph style big arena rock/AOR/Melodic Metal sound you are in for somewhat of a shock, but a good shock nevertheless. Rik Emmett explores many sounds and depths of guitar oriented rock with this new album.  Rik Emmett has also tapped into the rich Canadian rock pedigree to enlist the likes of Dream Theater’s James Labrie, RUSH’s Alex Lifeson, Dave Dunlop , etc … for Rik Emmett  & RESolution9 – RES9.

On Rik Emmett  & RESolution9 – RES9, we see Rik Emmett really strip down to bare bones straight up bluesy AOR rock. It is also amazing to see how he employed two people more known for their prog rock prowess in Alex Lifeson and James Labrie on a very fundamental straight away blues rock and how their individual talents totally fall in line with great precision on both time and range. Now a little breakdown of Rik Emmett  & RESolution9 – RES9.

 

Stand Still begins with a very straight forward stripped down blues chord progression.  It is almost that Texas southern fried rock made better known by ZZ Top. Lyrically it tells the story of all sorts of characters. The rhythm section is partially blues with light jazz elements you would find in a Zydeco joint in New Orleans. The guitar solo’s are nasty in nostalgia yet with a wonderful modern elemental sound. This track is the perfect setup for the bluesy buffet ahead.

Human Race (feat. Alex Lifeson) begins with a very familiar opening passage on guitar by Alex Lifeson. This is the very sound a riff playing we have come to know Alex in RUSH. This time it is acclimated more towards a bluesy passage more than a progressive one. Rik has totally built a Toronto Ontario, bloodline throughout this album and it starts on this track.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gT1_GyBoBkc]

Video Courtesy of (Mascot Label Group Official YouTube Channel)

I Sing (feat: James Labrie) Lyrically this is a classic tale of the life of a working musician going in and out of the trials and tribulations of life. James Labrie comes in quite subtly on vocals and takes over in certain parts. Both Rik and James do a great job playing of the rhythm section. Particularly the drum/bass rhythm section. This track also features another side to James Labrie many do not see in Dream Theater, that being a ‘Classic Rock Vocalist’.

My Cathedral is a very introspective track of people making proclamations of what faith and life mean. Is it God, music, whatever people find peace of mind and spirit in. This is really has some American southern fried roots in the chord progressions. Rik allows both the lyrical and instrumental narrative to carry this track into the middle and more experimental tracks of the album.

The Ghost Of Shadow Town starts off with thunderous drums to set the rhythmic tone with a almost steel guitar vibe.  The guitar solos throughout this track add more of a accent to the rhythm section narrative. Rik also employs more of a semi spoken word semi melodic vocal to tell the story.

When You Were My Baby starts out much in a Southern Texas Stevie Ray Vaughn style guitar passage. There are some nice isolated elements throughout to showcase both the instrumental and lyrical portions of the song. This is almost sounds like he and his band did this one live in studio and went back and did vocals later. The guitar solos are organically nasty and fluently blues.

Sweet Tooth is a little love ballad that is done in a 2:12 time frame. Kind of short and sweet , no pun intended. It is almost has a later 1960’s blues soul vibe about it.  The lyrical content is how the individual listener receives it.

Heads Up starts out with with a straight away rock passage. This track is probably the closest the traditional Triumph fan will enjoy. This is probably the most AOR track on the album in its anthemic nature.

Rest Of My Life begins with a smooth acoustic guitar passage along with a very harmonic vocal melody. Rik cuts in with a solo vocal isolation in the middle of the beautiful vocal harmony. This track has very rolling guitar oriented rock chord progressions. A lot of Rik Emmett’s vocal register over the last 40 years really flourishes in this one.

End Of The Line (feat: Alex Lifeson & James Labrie) displays the full Canadian rock element over the last half a century.  Rik has written towards the strengths of both Alex Lifeson & James Labrie while maintaining the original blues objective he has for the album.  This track is very heavy on the Classic Rock and AOR elements. This is the essential song that is very appropriate for both sub genres. There is a beautiful nastiness in the guitar passages throughout the track. The solos are big and so are the rhythmic elements. The solo’s are huge and you can hear both Rik Emmett’s signature style and Alex Lifeson’s signature style within the context of the main narrative.

 

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NJUS7737GM]

Video Courtesy of (Mascot Label Group Official YouTube Channel)

Grand Parade (feat: Gil Moore & Mike Levine) {Bonus Track} sees Rik Emmett reunited with his Triumph band mates. This is a very subtle track. The guitars and vocal harmonies progress towards an apex where the the track takes some subtle drops and begins to build in between passages. It also does not depend on the verse/bridge/chorus format in the lyrical narrative.

I will say this  about Rik Emmett  & RESolution9  RES9, this was a very unexpected gift to music in 2016. In a year plagued by many losses in the music world this is one of those albums that brings home what traditional ‘classic rock’ and AOR are about. It also continues to solidify Rik Emmett’s legacy as one of the best Canadian songwriters and musicians of our time.This album also has confirmed in me the maturity and appreciation for music outside my heavy metal and folk rock and progressive rock/metal roots.  Rik Emmett  & RESolution9  RES9 gets a 4.75/5 .

Making Of Rik Emmett  & RESolution9  RES9 Video

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rkwInU5HPc]

Video Courtesy of (Mascot Label Group Official YouTube Channel)

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