Imagine you could send your latest favorite rock record on a journey through time and into the past – what would it sound like? That’s exactly what A Life Divided had in mind when creating their new album “Echoes”.
“It was during the 80s when we first came into contact with music. At that time I bought my first Adidas Allround sneakers, let my hair grow and played the songs of my metal heroes on guitar”, recalls vocalist Jürgen Plangger. Songwriter and producer Erik Damköhler was more of a synth-wave fan back then. “That’s how we came up with the idea of mixing our A Life Divided-style with the typical synth-sounds of the 80s. ‘Echoes’ as a result was something completely new: 13 songs that combine our dark alternative rock with the zeitgeist of the 80s.”
After German radio hits like “Feel”, “Space” and “Heart on Fire”, an award for the best newcomer from one of the biggest radio stations in Germany, tours with Apocalyptica, Eisbrecher, Unheilig, and Oomph as well as sold-out headliner club tours, it is without a doubt that A Life Divided and their blend of rock music with electronic elements are known across all scenes. The band currently consists of vocalist and songwriter Jürgen Plangger (also guitarist for Eisbrecher), guitarist Tony Berger (ex-Lacrimas Profundere) and bass player Tobias Egger as well as songwriter Erik Damköhler.
The songs on the new album “Echoes” revolve around the theme of finiteness and the echo that is left from all of us. “Finiteness is threatening when we love and live, but it can also be comforting when we grieve, experience hurt or have been disappointed. But there is always an echo, a quiet reminder, of what was.” – Jürgen Plangger (A Life Divided) “Echoes” will be released on January 31st via AFM Records.
Tracklisting: 01. Hello Emptiness 02. Dry Your Eyes 03. Addicted 04. Confronted 05. Enemy 06. Rock ’N’ Roll Star 07. Far 08. Anybody Out There 09. Push 10. Servant 11. The Ordinary 12. Circles 13. Forevermore (Digipak Bonus)
Borealis will be supporting Seven Kingdoms for the first half of their headlining tour!
11/2: Margate, FL @ O’Malley’s
11/3: Orlando, FL @ The Haven
11/5: Raleigh, NC @ Pour House
11/6: Richmond, VA @ Capital Alehouse
11/7: Brooklyn, NY @ The Kingsland
11/8: Providence, RI @ Alchemy
11/9: Quebec City, QC @ L’Anti
11/10: Toronto, ON @ Coalition
Young Canadian melodic metallers BOREALIS are returned with their fourth studio album called “The Offering”. Although Canada might not be the first country one would think of when it comes to high-class melodic metal BOREALIS once again prove their potential with strong melodies, tasteful instrumentations and their very own blend of modern metal riffs, classic power metal and progressive elements.
Despite being a fairly young band Borealis already has quite an impressive history. After self-releasing their debut album in 2008 the five-piece opened for several metal greats (a.o. Kamelot, Epica, and Sonata Arctica) in Canada. With 2011’s “Fall From Grace” the well-received follow up Borealis were able to attract even more attention which led to invitations from festivals in the US (f. ex. ProgPower, Atlanta), Europe (f. ex. PPM fest, Belgium) and a North America tour with mighty Saxon, making the band known to a bigger scene audience. The release of Purgatory (2015) and a tour supporting Evergrey throughout North America marked a preliminary climax for the band’s discography so far.
2017 saw the re-recording of Borealis debut album “World Of Silence” and “Fall From Grace” in revised and fresh sounding editions, released by current label AFM Records.
“The Offering” now marks the return of the five Canadians with an album full of new material. But it is also a premiere for the band in a different way. As singer Matt Marinelli explains “The Offering” describes a story concept resulting from an interest in cults sparked by his fascination for horror movies. “The album follows the creation, rise and ultimate demise of a cult who practices human, more specifically child sacrifice. They believe this method of belief, sacrifice, and devotion will bring an end to the suffering of humanity, as well as bring back the innocence of mankind that was lost to greed and industrialism. However, due to their lack of respect to powers greater than themselves, they unwittingly create a deity out of the sacrificed kid, whom ultimately delivers punishment due to their injustice. The men in the cult are too self-consumed with their righteous quest, they’ve completely overlooked the fact that children are the true key to restoring and preserving lost innocence.”
Underlined by this story concept the album again delivers forceful, sometimes progressive metal riffs which are accompanied by epic melodies and Matt Marinelli’s expressive voice which elegantly guides through the twelve songs. The dense atmosphere BOREALIS are creating with this mixture adds a depth to “The Offering” which only a few others can achieve and which will amaze fans of bands like Evergrey, Kamelot or Nocturnal Rites.
“The Offering” was produced and mixed again by the band’s Drummer Sean Dowell, who was also responsible for mastering this time.
01. The Fire Between Us
02. Sign Of No Return
03. The Offering
05. The Second Son
06. The Devil’s Hand
07. Into The Light
08. Scarlet Angel
09. The Awakening
10. The Path
11. Forever Lost
12. The Ghosts Of Innocence
Matt Marinelli (Vocals & Guitars)
Ken Fobert (Guitars)
Trevor Mcbride (Bass)
Sean Werlick (Keyboards)
Sean Dowell (Drums)
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.
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