Season Of Tears is a entity that is a total ‘Melodic Freak Of Nature’. Haling form Rennes France, the band is a well balanced blend of Septicflesh, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Epica and Delain. Formed in late 2013 every member of the band has a deep rich heritage of all being multi instrumentalists individually. The band’s melodic intensity is met perfectly with its brooding dark themes lyrically in a harmoniously dark beautiful cacophony of progressive melodic symphonic death metal.
Now in 2017 Season Of Tears unleash one of the strongest debut albums I have heard in the last 20 years with Homines Novi. The album Homines Novi (literally “New Men”, the term “men” referring here to the whole human kind) is based on reflections and stories about the evolution and the future, how what people do now will affect all our lives and how what happened to people will affect their own future. It has a strong connection with transhumanism and technological evolution’s, but also with nature, ecology and life experiences.
Homines Novi has a lite dystopian-horror theme running through it that paints a grim picture of a dystopian society. There are 11 songs on the album plus the main song called ‘The Protocole Of Evolution’ TPOE that spans a entire 17:19 of the album and is multi tracked over five songs. It is this song that is the full anchor of Homines Novi. ‘The Protocole Of Evolution’ comes in the tradition of multi tracked songs like After Forever’s and Epica’sThe Embrace That Smothers that happened over After Forever’s Prison Of Desire album and was finished on Epica’s Design Your Universe due to Mark Jansen’s (ex After Forever, Epica) departure from After Forever to form Epica. Homines Novi also has a very strong avant-garde element that it has some very unorthodox and unusual surprises on it that I will highlight as this review goes forward.
Desynchronization starts out with a very wicked science fiction like spoken word as if it were part of a dystopian utopia. It is met by sound effects of machinery before the deep thunder tuned down bass comes in and it takes off with a more symphonic death metal chord progression. There is a dynamic exchange of vocals throughout the initial frenzy of melodic brutality. There is also a great backing vocal passage going on much in the vein of a cyber-choir. These exchanges going in and out between the lead clean female vocal and the fullness within the masculine death growls. It gives this track a particular duet quality. This entire track sounds like a machine scene directly out of a Terminator film. This song transitions smoothly into the following song Desecrated.
Desecrated starts out with a deep hellish bass/drum rhythm section. The rhythm section has some heavy industrial elements. The chord progressions form a passage that practically stalks the mind and senses of the listener. This song is definitely for those who favor rhythm sections over stringed sections. The keyboards come in a create a balancing atmosphere that allow the listener to settle in for the melodic assault that awaits them. Once again the female clean vocal comes in to carry the track until it is met with a clean male vocal and male death growl. The level of brutality certainly caters to the more death metal minded audience. This track is relentless from the first note to final note. The death growls play very well off the double blast beats in the rhythm section. There is a break where there is a violin section along side a beautiful acoustic guitar melody.
The Second Cemetery explodes out of the gate with heavy double blast beats, a bass that is more of a percussive instrument and some over the top symphonic vocal harmonies that all tie together in one beautiful harmonious balance. The assault finally gives way to more symphonic passages that are compounded with almost thrash metal style riffs. The grit and crunchy chord progressions are in perfect harmony with the death growls. There seems to be a pattern forming thematically on the album in that the band meets the instrumental intensity in perfect time to the vocal and lyrical intensity. There is also a rare clean male vocal that carries the track briefly. There are also various breaks where the clean female vocals are really a anchor along with the various guitar solo’s that seem to be a dark horse element on the album. This is a very melodic track overall.
‘The Protocole Of Evolution Suite’ is a multi tracked 17:19 epic that gives Homines Novi a conceptual album appearance. It spans the next five tracks on the album. This is the more progressive portion of the album. There are various elements of anything between Epica to Frank Zappa in their diverse nature.
TPOE Part I – Firewind starts off with a heavy drumline section that is met with a vicious tuned down rhythm section that breaks and soon gets atmospheric. During the atmospheric section that is brief it sets up for the opening verse that will be reprises at the end of the epic on TPOE Part V – A New Dawn. This has some heavy harmony parts to it that allow the listener to get settled in for the melodic adventure over the next five tracks. There are some very wicked rhythm chord progressions and time signatures in this as well.
TPOE Part II – Far From Home transitions seamlessly off of TPOE Part I – Firewind into a almost blackened death metal low fi guitar riff. The riffs continue in a all out melodic assault. The death growls and clean vocals play perfectly in time with the viciousness of the bass/drum rhythm section. This is a straight away all out assault overall. The vocals are increasingly sung with a stronger conviction and this track demonstrates that. The guitar solo’s get stronger as the album progresses and this track also demonstrates that.
TPOE Part III – Homines Novi takes a turn towards more special sound effects. It sounds like machinery at work developing something in a lab somewhere. Soon it takes on a soundtrack score style giving it a very suspenseful sound and appearance. This is met with symphonic keyboard atmospheres. Maintaining the seamlessly continuity of the TPOE Suite, this track seamlessly transitions into the next track, TPOE Part IV – Wanderland.
TPOE Part IV – Wanderland smoothly picks up where TPOE Part III – Homines Novi. This time the seamless transition comes in form of a classical theater style male operatic voice met with a unorthodox accordion. This is where the TPOE Suitegets a more Frank Zappa style avant-garde experimental element about it. This element is not traditionally found nor native to the Progressive Symphonic Death Metal genre. It demonstrates the bands ability to think outside the box and not be pigeonholed into cliches. This protion also takes on a very heavy stage play 1920’s to 1940’s Broadway Musical element. The metal elements are gradually worked into this track. The accordion really adds another level of unorthodox atmospheres to the album. This track seamlessly transitions smoothly into the final track of the TPOE Suite, TPOE Part V – A New Dawn.
TPOE Part V – A New Dawn picks up smoothly where TPOE Part IV – Wanderland however with sheer metal brutality. The opening chord progressions are straight up progressive death metal. The riffs come right after the senses of the listener. This is one melodic assault right after another melodic assault. The dual vocals come in and out between the clean beauty of the female vocals and the beastly male death growls. The clean male vocals are a further hook by which the band keep the attention of the listener. Towards the end there is a reprisal of the first track in the TPOE Suite from the first track TPOE Part I – Firewind . Such reprisal gives the TPOE Suite a proper closure.
Damaged Process starts off with a very dark bleak opening with a strong thunderous rhythm section in perfect harmony with the beauty & beast elements of clean vocals and death growls. The instrumental half of the song is heavily avant-garde in nature. There is some notes that play off a abstract narrative in the instrumental that give the entire song a level of exquisite experimentation. The track even takes on some symphonic black metal style low fi guitar riffs.
Exalt starts out with a heavy symphonic metal element with keyboard atmospheres blended perfectly into the background of the stringed sections. The rhythm section comes in and adds depth and layers into the instrumental compositions. This also takes on some very heavy progressive metal elements ie .. various chord progressions and time signatures that play off one another. The Beauty & Beast metal element remains here. There are some theatrical elements and breaks that add another layer into the track. The theatrical elements remind me of some of the earlier 20th Century circus elements.
Restrained starts off with a sick relentless thunderous rhythm section. The bass is used again as a percussive instrument that runs perfectly alongside the double blast beats. Soon symphonic atmospheres of various keyboards and guitars add layers into the composition. Both stringed and rhythm sections are met with a clean male vocal with warmth and grace. The female vocal comes in and the death growls underneath all create a form of controlled chaos throughout the track. This is the final song on the album and the band uses the duration perfectly to tie all the elements used into one smooth finale.
Season Of Tears Homines Novi is certainly not for everybody. However if you are into Symphonic Death Metal with industrial and progressive elements this album could be for you. It may take a few spins to really get into it. Season Of Tears as a band come into their debut sounding like a band that has been in the business at least 10 to 15 years. Homines Novi is certainly one of the strongest debut albums of this style of music I have heard in 20 years. The album is well written and produced. Season Of Tears have a album they can certainly put on the stage live as well. A band like Season Of Tears guarantees that this style of metal will never go extinct. I am giving Season Of Tears Homines Novi a 5/5.
Schooltree | Heterotopia A Metaphysical/Paranormal Rock Opera – Album Review August 2017
Label: Independent/Unsigned Release Year: 2017 Country: USA Genre: Paranormal/Progressive Rock
Band Members – Current
Lainey Schooltree – Lead Vocals/Keyboards/Creator Tom Collins – Drums Peter Danilchuk – Synth’s/Organ Ryan Schartzel – Bass Sam Crawford – Lead & Rhythm Guitar’s
Band Members – Album Recording Personnel
Lainey Schootree – Vocals/Pianos/Synths Brendan Burns – Guitar’s Derek Van Wormer – Bass Tom/Tod/Tad Collins – Drums Peter Danilchuk – Organs/Synths Peter Moore – Nylon Guitar/Additional Vocals/Keyboards/Programming
CD 1 Overture Rocksinger The Big Slide Cat Centipede The Abyss Radio Walk You Through Edge of a Dream The Leitmaiden The Legend of Enantiodromia Specter Lyfe
CD 2 Dead Girl Turning into the Strange The Edge Annihilate Power of the Ghost You and I Into Tomorrow The River Bottom of the River Enantiodromia Awakens Zombie Connection Keep Your Head Day of the Rogue Utopia
* Writers Note* I want to apologize to Lainey Schooltree for this review taking so very long. It was not intentional. Hopefully the review below will validate me.
Ever since the middle 1990’s the Urban Fantasygenre has taken the literary world by storm. Novels such as The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare,Twilight Trilogy by Stephanie Myer, Nightworld/Vampire Diaries by L. J. Smith, Vampire Academy/Frostbite by Rachel Meade, etc .. Most of the very successful Urban Fantasynovels go on to become either ‘Television Series’ or ‘Hollywood Blockbusters’. Now the Urban Fantasy genre has grown tentacles into the world of the traditional progressive rock opera.
Lainey Schooltree becomes one of the very many successful women to shatter the typical ‘male stereotype’ and create her own ‘Urban Fantasy’, however this is set to the traditional progressive rock opera. Her new project Schooltree Heterotopia is a melodic adventure of absolute paranormal and metaphysical proportions. Most progressive rock or metal opera’s have dealt with subjects as science fiction, world history, comatose people, or people with disabilities, end of the world scenario’s , etc .. Schooltree’s Heterotopia deals with the classic cliche or subject “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.”
Schooltree’s Heterotopia comes in the tradition of The Who’s Tommy & Quadrophenia,Meatloaf’s Bat Out Of Hell Trilogy on the Rock Opera end. On the conceptual end it comes in the tradition of Yes’ Tales From Topographic Oceans, Pain Of Salvation’s BE & In The Passing Light Of Day with some psychedelic structures reminiscent of The Doors and Jefferson Airplane.
There are six distinct and very different characters involved in the story and visual Lainey Schooltree has painted on this exquisite tapestry. There is the Greek Chorus – Narrator, Suzi – Our Hero, Zombuzi – Zombie Suzi, Metanoia, Shadows and Enantiodromia. Much like the ‘Urban Fantasy’ novels and films, these characters also have their own significance within Schooltree’s Heterotopia. The landscape of the project is well over 100 minutes and two CD’s worth of music that totally and completely seamlessly transition beautifully from track to track.
CD 1 – ACT 1
Overture opens up the album almost in the way a soundtrack or score would open a movie and/or film. It leaves a lot to the imagination and increases the anticipation opening up the epic opera. This is also a track loaded with various symphonic and progressive rock elements. The keyboard and guitar stringed section also adds a layer of distinct orchestration that gives the project a very unique sound.
Rocksinger & The Big Slide displays a very dark side of the main character Suzi. Lainey Schooltree really does a great job both lyrically and instrumentally showing the listener the true desperation Suzi has reached as to how far she will go to obtain her dream. Lainey Schooltree being the only vocalist on the album also allows for depths of various emotions to come forward in the narrative of the story.
Much like Alice In Wonderland,Lainey Schooltree incorporates a centipede like creature in this modern day urban fantasy, paranormal rock opera, however it is a Cat Centipede. The instrumental half of this track certainly lends a great picture on the screen of the theater of the mind. The band does a great job here building towards a climax, a transition. They do this through the incorporation of various progressive and psychedelic elements. Suzi the main character follows this abnormal creature into The Abyss.
With The Abyss the band utilize very heavy psychedelic elements in the intro leading in. The blend of vocals and psychedelic elements certainly create a otherworldly and strange journey into the progressive psychedelic harmonies. The drums also lend a firm melodic and rhythmic melody as well.
Radio starts off exactly like the title suggests. There is a heavy effect of a actual radio tuning in and out. When the vocals kick in the story narrative holds fast to the objective of storytelling. Lainey Schooltree’s vocals and the instrumental in radio are almost within the alternative rock parameters. The vocal harmonies and instrumental harmonies together remind me a lot of Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries meets Christina Booth of Magenta. Radio is one of two very well written transitional tracks the next being Walk You Through.
Walk You Through is more of a straight up rock song. The vocal harmonies certainly allow the rhythm section to be front and center playing off of one another. This track is very guitar driven and bass/drum rhythm section driven. Both of those elements allow for the psychedelic style vocals to serve as a beacon of light in Walk You Through.
Edge of a Dream starts out with a deep piano stringed section that serves as a melancholic melody. It is this melancholic approach that conveys the correct emotion of Suzi now Zombie Suzi to have a heavy dose of the blues since she is now exiled out on the streets from her home. The alternative to our main character Suzi, now as Zombie-Suzi faces her first real conundrum when she encounters Metanoia ‘The Leitmaiden’. Metanoia informs her that the longer she stays in ‘TheGarden of The Architype’ the more at risk she is in returning home and securing her human earthly form again. Lainey Schooltree depicts this perfectly with layers upon layers of psychedelic elements. This is met with various keyboard progressions blended beautifully with psychedelic vocal passages.
These atmospheres would continue through the rest of Act 1 or CD 1. The Legend Of Enantiodromia & Spectre Lyfe continue the psychedelia vibe. The psychedelic elements are that of more of a 1960’s style blended beautifully with 1990’s alternative rock elements. This is very rare in progressive rock and allows the entire story to really rest in the metaphysical and paranormal word Lainey Schooltree is conveying both melodically and harmoniously. Think Grace Slick Jefferson Airplane meets Delores O’Riordan meets Yes & Genesis. The vocals are warm and the instrumental portion allows the vocals and story to breathe through eloquently. The guitar solo’s shine through as well.
CD 2 – Act 2
The second half of this double conceptual metaphysical/paranormal rock opera starts off with a epiphany or transition if you will. This is where Zombie-Suzi has her first confrontation with three ghosts who taunt the hell out of her for her ‘ghostly’ condition. Ghosts who speak a curse over her to be dead thus the title of Dead Girl becomes appropriate here. Dead Girl opens up with a deep smooth rhythm section that is closely accompanied by the vocals that lyrically come out of the narrative of the three ghosts who taunt Zombie-Suzy.
Metanoia once again reaches out to Suzy- Spectre and lets her know that there is a way to adapt to her new condition. She teaches Suzy that she can bend her new condition and shape it by her will. She teaches Suzy that she can use all this strange to her advantage thus the title of the next track, Turning Into The Strange.Lainey Schooletree once again uses heavy psychedelic elements vocally and lyrically that are met with some very fluent hard rock elements in and out of the chord progressions. The band does very good work lyrically and instrumentally to articulate the story in such a matter.
Perplexed by her ‘Ghostly‘ self, Suzi begins to really take inventory on her path and progress in life both in her physical human form and her supernatural ‘Ghostly’ form. Initially unsure where she is going and even how to get there, Suzi once again is visited by what seems to be her only friend now Metanoia. After Metanoia weighs both the pros and cons of her ‘Ghostly’ form, Suzi finally gets a moment of clarity as to what path and how she must progress forward. This is all covered over the period duration of the songs The Edge Annihilate and Power Of The Ghost. It is during these two songs Suzi has some real introspection of her life. The instrumental and lyrical approach nails this down very well.
You & I sees Suzi in a confrontation with her Zombie body over taking a trip down by the river. This is only further irritated by the returning ‘Cat Centipede’ from the beginning of the journey who Suzi barely recognizes anymore. Against her better judgement Suzi follows the ‘Cat Centipede’ down to the river where trouble awaits Into Tomorrow. The instrumental portion remains on point with all the heavy psychedelic effects to portray Suzi into a otherworldly situation. The psychedelic element is now met with a thick and heavy neo progressive element as well.
The River & Bottom Of The River sees Suzi seduced by a sirens song to the river’s edge. Suzi knows full well to keep her resolve intact to be reunited with her physical earthly form she must jump all the way into the river. It has to be deliberate or else Suzi will fall into the river’s abyss and drown. These tracks are once again very heavy on the atmospheric effects of keyboards. Those effects serve as a heavy paranormal aesthetic throughout both of the tracks. The vocals are very heavy on the psychedelic elements as well. This allows a paranormal vibe to breathe here.
Beyond the “wall,” Suzi finds and awakens Enantiodromia, and asks her to take her fair hand and make her whole again. But awakened Enantiodromia is changed from her former self; looking around at the darkness arisen during her slumber, she is the black-handed reaper now, bringing balance to the land once more, now by using her black hand to annihilate that which does not belong in this world, and attempts to begin with Suzi. Suzi pleads with her to stop, explaining she is only half of what she’s supposed to be, telling Enantiodromia of her quest though endless night outside of time to wake her. “I am not a shadow, just a girl; an exiled soul in the wrong world.” Enantiodromia tells her that she’s been in this world too long and is no longer just a girl; she cannot return her home. But as repayment for awakening Enantiodromia, she allows Suzi the chance to go back to take control of her zombie body, and return as one to her, at which point she’ll take them both together to the next place. (Enantiodromia Awakens). That is achieved instrumentally through the staple psychedelic atmospheres both instrumentally and vocally.
Zombie Connection, Keep Your Head, Day Of The Rogue all see Suzi able to control her earthly body, zombie body all with her mind there is a reconciliation of sorts going on here even if it is not what Suzi imagined. The piano classically driven instrumental section really allow the lyrical side to breathe through so the listener can easily learn Suzi’s fate as she goes out in a ‘Blaze Of Glory’.
Utopia sees Suzi having achieved mastery in both worlds, Suzi is able to use her mind to grow her body from her head like a seed in the air downward to the ground. NeoSuzi glimpses what utopia could be for the first time, as something that can never be possessed, but experienced. The instrumental section beautifully wraps this story all up in a very coherent matter for the listener.
I did enjoy this journey. In a world of another dimension we can all find ourselves yearning and craving acceptance willing to do everything including mortgaging our own soul to obtain our ultimate goal. Suzi is a reminder of the absolute lengths we will go through to attempt our own Utopia. Lainey Schooltree certainly articulated this story beautifully on both lyrical and instrumental fronts.
Where some people usually enlist multiple vocalists to play parts of various characters and even multiple musicians, Lainey Schooltree enlisted a specific core both in studio and with a active band situation, thus to two different lineups in the rider of this review. Lainey Schooltree created a product that can be easily adapted to the live stage within reason. When listening to Schooltree’s Heterotopia think more The Who’s Tommy or Meatloaf’s Bat Out Of Hell trilogy as far as Rock Opera’s are concerned. I can not wait for Lainey Schooltree’s next adventure for us. After much deliberation I have given Schooltree’s Heterotopia a strong 5/5.
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.