Posts Tagged ‘rock’

Pale Communion was released August 25th, 2014 via Roadrunner Records.  Genre: Progressive Rock

Pale Communion was released August 25th, 2014 via Roadrunner Records.
Genre: Progressive Rock

It has been 3 years since Opeth’s departure from the death metal landscape broke the hearts of thousands of fans, but the preeminent prog professionals are back with their 11th ‘observation’, Pale Communion. The band’s 2011 effort Heritage signaled a “new” direction in the band’s musical focus and send shockwaves throughout their seemingly loyal fan base. Pale Communion is in no way their mea culpa; rather it is an expansion on the sound that has arguably been at the base of every Opeth album since the days of Orchid albeit masked by death metal chaos.

Almost by design, the band introduces newcomer Joakim Svalberg (keyboardist) accompanied by drummer Martin Axenrot in the groove-drenched intro of album opener ‘Eternal Rains Will Come’. This band knows how to create a rollercoaster of dynamics throughout the course of a song and, in large, an album. Eternal Rains, as does the album itself, possesses a short but effective build-drop-lull-build-sustain-evolved-drop formula that has been an integral part of tracks since Watershed. Most tracks on this album follow suite with the exception of the track number two, ‘Cusp of Eternity’. A foot stomping riff immediately establishes a groove and holds serve as Mikael Akerfeldt croons effortlessly above the rhythm guitars.

The album is a sonic treat for the ears. Mix engineer and Porcupine Tree main-man Steven Wilson has refined and improved on his aural vision from Heritage. The drums across the album bite and punch through the mix with pristine quality but retain a level of intimacy that helps bolster space creating effects such as reverb and delay. Wilson’s flashy use of those effects introduce an insane amount of dimension to the listening experience that came up flatter in this album’s predecessor. The heart of the album, led by the 10-minute mammoth ‘Moon Above, Sun Below’, bounces from quite and serene to spacious but melodically dense and culminates in an infectious band-jam instrumental, ‘Goblin’.

Before turn of the corner to the homestretch of the album, ‘River’ seemingly provides the furthest departure from the trademark Opeth song to date. Up until the halfway point, the song is by far the least complex of the bunch and seems to be tailor made for that “lighter in the air” moment at the venue. It is only at around the 4-minute mark that Opeth’s ear twisting returns and reminds listeners of just how talented this group is. The refrain of Voice of Treason boasts one of the best vocal performances only to be outdone by the tracks climax and close which leads directly to album closer Faith In Others.

From start to finish the album is a testament front man Mikael Akerfeldt’s growth and maturation as a songwriter as well as a straightforward hat tip to his influences. Beyond the singular contributions from Akerfeldt, Opeth as a whole steps their game up. Bassist Martin Mendez is active throughout the album while simultaneously remaining glued to the pocket created and maintained by the spot on drum patterns of Martin Axenrot. Every track clocks in at 8 minutes or less with the exception of one or two, making each of them a manageable listening experience lengthwise. One of the very few minuses of this album are some of the busy vocal lines and crowded rhythms in Akerfeldts vocal cadence from time to time, but that’s just nit picking at this point isn’t it?

Album Picks: Cusp of Eternity, Moon above Sun Below, Voice of Treason

Album Skips: None

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Surprise, a list! Who doesn’t love to list things they love and present them to the public? I’m sure the good people on Facebook land and beyond have seen the “10 Best Stuffs to Stuff” list, the “Top 5 Best Stuffs” and so on. So allow me introduce you to my pretentious little exhibition. Below are 4 albums I enjoy listening to from jump to splat. Yes you read that right, only 4…because fuck lists in which the total number of items are divisible by 5 and/or 10. Also, don’t try to look for a pattern here. This list is in no particular order, and has very little rhyme or reason attached to it.

Ihsahn's 'After' was released January 26th, 2010 via Candlelight Records Genre: Progressive Black Metal

Ihsahn’s ‘After” was released January 26th, 2010 via Candlelight Records
Genre: Progressive Black Metal

First off is After by Ihsahn. If you’re a Black Metal enthusiast, you know this name and the gr1m fr0stbitten cache of epicness that accompanies it and you can skip the next sentence. Ihsahn, as the front man for Black Metal band Emperor, helped pioneer the genre and shape it throughout its satanic birth and infancy. This album was the thematic end to a conceptual trilogy that began with ‘Adversary’ and ‘angL’. After is big sonically, and what I mean by that is that there is a lot of space that you can just feel at times. Sure, Jens Bogren (Mix/Mastering Engineer) added weight where previous album ‘angl’ lacked it, but combined with Ihsahn’s superb riffing and “guitar orchestration”, combined with his knack for always writing the quintessential ‘complete song’, no track on this album is a skipper. As far as I’m concerned it can go down as one as the best metal albums of all time, and can easily top multiple albums across a multitude of extreme metal sub-genres.

Enya's 'A Day Without Rain' was released November 21st, 2000 via Reprise. Genre: New Age

Enya’s ‘A Day Without Rain’ was released November 21st, 2000 via Reprise.
Genre: New Age

Next up is A Day Without Rain by Enya. No, let me stop you here, Sail Away, Sail Away is not on this album, and it isn’t even the actual name of the song. This album is magnificent as that song was. If you are not into New Age music, you may not know what I’m babbling on about…pfft, there aren’t even any guitars on this record, or breakdowns for that matter. Good point, believe me, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that Enya had put together an almost flawless body of work again. In the United States along ADWR went 7x platinum, that’s 7,000,000 copies! It helps that ‘Only Time’ was played repeatedly in the wake of the September 11th attacks. Enya effortlessly navigates chord progressions that were arranged seemingly with a patented technique that dates back to the 1980’s. Enya’s works have garnered international praise and accolades, to which I say…no shit.

Daylight Dies' 'Dismantling Devotion' was released March 7th, 2006 via Candlelight Records Genre: Doom Metal

Daylight Dies’ ‘Dismantling Devotion’ was released March 7th, 2006 via Candlelight Records
Genre: Doom Metal

Replace the stringed instruments with guitars, 80% of the singing with guttural death growls, make the lyrical themes darker and you get Daylight Dies’ 2006 effort ‘Dismantling Devotion. No, I did not mean Killswitch Engage, I mean the North Carolina Doom Metal group Daylight Dies. From top to bottom, there is enough meat here to feed every starving organism on the planet. Hyperbole aside, for a sophomore effort DD took no prisoners with these songs. There is emotion, intensity, and aggression within each song. The melodic content from song to song is rich and ripe with purpose behind the brutal death metal vocals of front man Nathan Ellis. I first ran into this band listening to a My Dying Bride station on Last FM. This band’s strength lays in their composition. Once you get past the slower pace inherent in the Doom Metal genre, you will be able to appreciate this record.

Doomtree independently  released this self titled album July 29th, 2008 Genre: Hip Hop

Doomtree independently released this self titled album July 29th, 2008
Genre: Hip Hop

Last, but surely not least, Doomtree’s self titled effort from 2008, Doomtree. I know what you were thinking, but this is not a metal band…sorry. Doomtree is a hip-hop group from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Before you go and dismiss these guys, give this album a listen…and I mean really listen. From top to bottom this album, features thought provoking, and introspective lyrics that come across as genuine as all hell. The instrumentals are raw, and gritty but create a 90’s feel that suites Doomtree’s aura. The rappers that make up this group pride themselves on their individuality, and this group of songs captures that thought process completely.

'The Eight Deaths of Delphinium Gardener' was released independently September 10th, 2013.

‘The Eight Deaths of Delphinium Gardener’ was released independently September 10th, 2013.

Elitists would probably agree that they just don’t make music like they used to, especially in the Progressive Rock arena. Some would say that today’s prog elite is more in to showing off their skill as opposed to using their skill to make good music. Long gone are the days when music possessed the intimacy, the humility, and the raw genuine passion for making music inspired by something else. Fret not; Sigmund Blue is here to fill in the void, no DeLorean required.

Sigmund began as a project between two members but took to full band status with the addition of another member in 1999. Each member recorded their parts separately as the three live in different regions of the United States. Un-phased by such unfortunate circumstances, the trio presented The Eight Deaths of Delphinium Gardener (Eight Deaths) in September of 2013. Eight Deaths is a 1970’s inspired concept album that chronicles the many trials and tribulations encountered by protagonist Delphinium Gardener.

The album opens in spectacular fashion with ‘Overture’, a piano friendly introduction with remarkably familiar melodic trappings. Immediately the goal of the album becomes clear with this “curtains up” instrumental. It is as much of a proclamation of arrival as it is a solid introduction. The melodies that dance throughout the latter stages of the track serve as a perfect lead-in to the track that succeeds it, Charcuterie of Babylon. From then on, Eight Deaths stays the course with a chill-out easy going vibe that serves to put the listener in a state where focusing on the story becomes a natural reflex.

Eight Deaths shakes things up with ‘Can’t Stay’, presenting the first deviation from what the album had previously established as a norm. This is by no means a bad mark on the report card, as the band does well transitioning be a more rock based feel to a song that contains more bounce and pop. After that diversion, the album returns to business as usual until ‘Go Now’. This track is by far the emotional powerhouse of the album. The vocals carry the weight of the songs part in the story with incredible ease and packs enough power to move the listener to tears.

From that point out the journey is much more rocky but the sonic cohesiveness heard earlier in the album remains consistent. The exiting tracks at this point of the album serve as a build up to a climax that sees a rather calm and soothing end melodically. ‘Pod’s Lament’ serves as evidence of this with gusto as there is a stark ramp up in energy. This track sees the band shed the prog rock element for an all out balls to the wall sprint to the finish. It makes the transition to the aptly named album closer ‘Epilogue’ all the more interesting.

The members of SIgmund Blue recorded their parts separately, relying 100% on technology to complete their projects.

The members of SIgmund Blue recorded their parts separately, relying 100% on technology to complete their projects.

The biggest hurdle for this album to overcome, aside from some slightly creepy dialogue in ‘The Meeting’, is the time investment. At 18 tracks and just over an hour and five minutes, there may not be enough meat for the average listener to chew on. Big moments tend to fall flat due to the context of the era that influences the production, but if appreciated properly within said context, it makes for an even bigger set of musical events. Eight Deaths is far out in a good way and all in all, the entire album achieved what it set out to do. Fans of Queen and the Beatles may have something to latch on to here.

Album Picks: Here It Is, Can’t Stay, Go Now, Carbon Copy
Album Skips: The Meeting

Rating: 4 out of 5

Do you like the feeling of electronic music but don’t like its repetative movements intended for drug fueled dancing? Do you like rock but wish it focused less on being loud and more on soundscapes? Then push play on these bands. You won’t be disappointed.



Žagar This Hungarian Psychedelic/Jazz/Atmospheric/Rock/Awesome band is one to keep an eye on. They always have something going on. Their style is the perfect hybrid of the electronic feel and drive with the beauty of rock and jazz melodies and analog production. The band has a long list of filmography credits and you can really hear it. Wait until the horns come in at around 2 mins. Forget goosebumps. It’s all about the nipple hardening.


Indigo Sun They are my most recent find and my most favorite at the moment. They’re a jazz fusion band disguised behind electronic productions. Definitely worth checking out.





Stateless Such a wonderfully emotional song. Builds up just enough to lock you in. This London based band started out as your generic rock band but they embraced the idea of adding more electronic elements after meeting DJ Kidkanevil at a hip hop show in Leeds. They have two albums out right now on Spotify.


The best part of this Swedish four-piece group, Wintergatan, is that they aren’t electronic at all. There are no samples. Instead they play a range of homemade and unorthodox instruments along with some more conventional ones to create a foreign yet familiarized sound. The lead here is the accordion and oh boy has one never sounded better.
Their popular track Sommarfågel was featured as our Song of the Day back in July.


Jaga Jazzist has been around since the 90’s but have been the forefront of the new age of jazz. These Norwegians take jazz whole heartedly and incorporate every genre and instrument they can come up with. Every song is a new experience. They’re not for everyone but if you enjoy driving beats and head spinning melodies they might be for you.


Incubus okay so they’ve been around for a while and for all intents and purposes, they suck now. Since the line-up changes and their increasingly mainstream standings they haven’t been the same.
If you’re looking for a rocking band that throws in ample amounts of electronic sections they’re a good band to start with. Their earlier work; eg. their first album: Fungus Among Us, is my favorite which resembled the beginning of funk metal but they’ve toned down and tuned out since that work of perfection.



You can check out these bands and some of their other songs on this nifty little playlist I created for all you. I know, I’m awesome, but keep it in your pants you perverts.

I’ve found country music that I not only tolerate but even like? What is this madness?

At best, when dabbling in country and bluegrass I found things I didn’t hate. I thought it would be impossible to find something in the genre worth listening to without clawing at my ears.

I found the compromise, it would seem. The punch brothers are not just plain country. Tonedeth doesn’t mention anything “plain”. This song is a fantastic example of this. It’s got a funk/R&B groove that’s both forward and sexy. The lack of a percussion section, or drummer to be specific, makes them stand out from any genre they seem to dabble in.

The album is a brilliant mixture of bluegrass, rock, indie, and classical; all while being beautifully executed. Go listen to these guys. I know I will be for the next few weeks. This track is off of the album of the same name released in 2012 on Nonesuch Records and produced by veteran Jacquire King (Tom Waits, Norah Jones, Of Monsters and Men, Kings of Leon…)

 

If you know of any other artists similar to these guys or want to lead me in the right direction to more country worth digging into I would sure appreciate your comments.

Stateless is great genre hybrid of electronic/rock/and hip-hop. Similar to our our boy Childish Gambino  in this respect but with a bigger focus on melody in the alternative rock landscape.

This song starts off quiet with a warm accordion to bring you to their trip-hop hook with a great vocal harmony that makes the song increasingly huge. It fades off as a transition to the remainder of the album, leaving you wanting more.

It’s sort of dark, thought provoking, but warm and inviting. Go check out the rest of the tracks on Matilda. It’s a fitting meditative or workout album. Both energetic and pensive.

The four piece hails from foggy London town and are for fans of Dredg, Portishead, and Awolnation.

Head over to Spin.com to hear the new track from A Perfect Circle, just released today.

I’m on my third listen and I’m seriously impressed. It’s a reminder of both the dark industrial and the alternative-pop side of APC.

The build up allows Maynard James Keenan to enter and take hold of your trance. Guiding you to the point where the drums come in and drops you off for the rest of the ride. It’s mixed in the same vain as the previous albums which is great. There aren’t any surprises on this song but it’s exactly what us fans wanted for almost a decade long hiatus.

It doesn’t seem likely that we will be seeing too much more of APC, they are releasing a compilation of their biggest hits, titled: Three-Sixty, featuring this one original. It is scheduled for release in mid-November of this year. But I can’t see how they are able to release a greatest hits compilation when they only have 3 full albums released… Oh well, that’s the music business for you.

As far as a new original album goes we better not hold our breath, what we can do though is wait patiently for the new Tool album to drop sometime next year.

I was introduced to these guys earlier this year. Watching the music video and listening to the intro it’s easy to throw them in a category and forget about them. Starting off with weird images of the guys getting covered in highly viscous paints with a simple yet eerie guitar line, you almost expect Marilyn Manson coming on screen. Luckily for us, he doesn’t.

After the ultra heavy wobbly bass comes in the song takes a bit of a left turn and get’s pretty funky. Closer to how the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s were funky but definitely funky none-the-less. His voice is shrill, more of a punk or hard-rock singer but it fits well with that funk-metal sound. For fans of earlier Incubus, Alien Ant Farm, Primus, and And the Traveler.

The Austrian band has been around since about 2008 and got significant recognition when they participated in the international Live Awards. They didn’t come in first but they were top three in their region of Vienna and the three piece received awards for best singer, bassist, and drummer.

Their entire album Creation’s Finest, released in 2012, is available for streaming on Spotify.

And the traveler bandIn a world of mediocrity and trite songwriting three men take it upon themselves to peel back the paradigms of rock and spit on the corpses… Okay. Enough of the dramatics.

It’s time to get serious. And, And The Traveler is seriously good.

Max Johl – Guitar / Lead Vocals
Donald Perdomo – Drums / vocals
Josh Goldberg – Chapman / vocals
These lovely locals hold their main base in Yonkers, NY. See? I keep telling people there is good music in Westchester County…

Upon first listen you’re likely to assume they’re the usual 4-5 piece band doing some awesome rock tunes. Well this is where it gets interesting. They are a in fact a three piece; but instead of a boring ol’ guitar or bass dynamic they mix it up with Josh Goldberg playing the artfully obscure chapman stick. Made famous by the great Tony Levin of King Crimson. The chapman generally appears to be one of those instruments that is usually isolated as the “solo-performance” instrument rather than having use in a full band. Even in Crimson tunes, where Levin can be heard on the stick, it seems that the rest of the band is accompanying him rather than in support of. And The Traveler’s use of the stick in their music is leaps ahead of many modern rock bands and adds an entirely unique quality to their arrangements.

Josh was just recently featured on the Chapman Stick website as a featured artist. He also records and posts videos on his own personal page entitled Stick Science in which he gives playing tips, solo performances, playthroughs, and answers frequently asked questions.

They are inherently a “rock” band with many songs you could easily hear on a radio station. That doesn’t make them bland to me. It only fascinates as I delve into and peel back the layers. Which for a three piece, is quite expansive. The first track on their album The Road, The Reason is Steps. It’s an upbeat tune that starts big and enters some ethereal expanses. It’s very much similar to Dear Hunter, minus some hokey dramatics.

You can stream the entire album on Spotify,

..as well as on their bandcamp

The guys were nice enough to send me the full double disc album complete with an artwork book illustrated to stories that their songs unfold when I bought it off of their bandcamp page.

Pulling influence not just from many genres but from many decades. You can easily hear classical influence round up with modern rock and jazz.

They’ve got the technicality of King Crimson and Dream theater, the dynamics of the Dear Hunter and the Mars Volta, and the diversity and unique song-writing like the Rx Bandits and Primus.

I could go on for hours about the diversity of this band. The diversity of those they emulate is drastic enough. But they aren’t some simply copy/paste group of artists. Their music is totally unique and stands on their own among any progressive band out right now.

Their album is mixed so well for the band that they are. It’s sparse enough to hear all of the intricacies but big enough to fool you into thinking this is a full sized rock band. Chapman sticks have the issue of “blending” but the guys at Schroendinger’s Box Studios performed wonders and made it work.

Many cases with two disc albums, I find myself picking a favorite side. With this… I cannot. Part II is far from a B side, and is diverse enough to hold it’s own as a distinct album. My favorite track being the first one on this side, called Spiderclass. Such a raw sounding that builds up, sounding similar to Primus, a tightrope love affair between rock, jazz, and avant garde.

The band documented much of the recording process in little video shorts hosted on youtube featured on their website’s media page.

Be sure to pick this bad boy up and give it a strong listen. That’s an order.

cover

and the traveler 1

and the traveler 2

Free music, can’t get enough of the stuff? Well you’re in luck my friends, because below you’ll find links to some really awesome sounding music, courtesy of Last.fm. Just click the pictures below for a free download of a random track from the artist’s album. Enjoy!

Pierce the Veil's 'Selfish Machines' was released January 10, 2012 via Equa Vision Records Genre: Metalcore/ Post-Hardcore

Pierce the Veil’s ‘Selfish Machines’ was released January 10, 2012 via Equa Vision Records
Genre: Metalcore/ Post-Hardcore

Sabaton's 'Carolus Rex' was released May 12th, 2012 via Nuclear Blast Records Genre: Power Metal/ Folk Metal

Sabaton’s ‘Carolus Rex’ was released May 12th, 2012 via Nuclear Blast Records
Genre: Power Metal/ Folk Metal

The Glitch Mob's 'We Can Make The World Stop' EP was  self-released July 12th, 2011 Genre: EDM/ Dub-Step

The Glitch Mob’s ‘We Can Make The World Stop’ EP was self-released July 12th, 2011
Genre: EDM/ Dub-Step

Best Coast's 'The Only Place' was released June 24th, 2013 via Deckdisc Genre: Indie Rock

Best Coast’s ‘The Only Place’ was released June 24th, 2013 via Deckdisc
Genre: Indie Rock