Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Little Update

Right now I am working on buying a house which has greatly decreased the amount of time I have had to devote to listening to music.  Unfortunately packing has also taken a lot of time away as well.  I have been able to do a little bit occasionally.  I know I have a lot of stuff to catch up on.  It's become a bit daunting.  But I will catch up at some point.  Thanks for your patience.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

FMA Reviews: Azure Emote: The Gravity of Impermanence

Originally reviewed here.
What a weird album. I am not even really sure how to classify this band. I suppose the best way would be to compare them to a group like Hollenthon, Septicflesh, Sigh, or the oddball projects of Dan Swanö. In other words, they seem to have influences from a wide variety of metal styles, such as black, death, and industrial. Never has the term avant-garde been more fitting than when listening to this album from Azure Emote.

This is Azure Emote's second album and it has gained them a fair amount of interest. I have been in a little bit of a metal black hole in the last few months due to an extremely busy work schedule and even I have heard some hype about this release. Azure Emote is the new band of former Monstrosity frontman Mike Hrubovcak. But it definitely does not follow in the footsteps of Monstrosity. Monstrosity was a fairly paint-by-numbers death metal band. As previously stated, this is anything but formulaic. The songs do not follow any traditional song structure and the music is widely varied, crushing and intense one minute, slow and dissonant the next, and allows with a number of sonic surprises.

Azure Emote is at their best when they are pushing the boundaries of extreme metal. Utilizing synthesizers, strings, saxophones, and all kinds of other weird and eclectic instrumentation (harmonica, really?), Azure Emote never settle on anything that can be considered traditional metal structure and instrumentation. These moments are frequent and lend a schizophrenic feel to the overall listening experience. There are still obvious metal riffs, but those seem somewhat lackluster when not accompanied by some off-the-wall instrument or sample.

The only real complaint I have about this album is that the band sometimes does too much. There is a lack of cohesion to a lot of the moments and the whole thing feels like a collection of disparate parts rather than one impressive whole. It can be a little off-putting at times.

Azure Emote is certainly unpredictable and have a lot of talent, but at times they just appear to be weird for weirdness's sake. That can be problematic and often prevents any real connection with the listener.

FMA Reviews: Lord: Digital Lies

Originally reviewed here.
First things first, the awful title. This is the kind of title you would have expected in the 1990's when that newfangled internet showed up, but now it just seems outdated. That, added to the cover that looks like something out of a cheap SyFy channel movie is not really the best way to make a first impression.

I will admit I was a little surprised by the sound. I probably shouldn't be anymore, but I was a little surprised by the upbeat power metal. I was expecting something darker. But this is not the "flower" metal style made popular by bands like Sonata Arctica, Rhapsody, or anyone like that. This is the more extreme form of power metal which found its roots in groups like Jag Panzer in the United States. Lord is the new band of Lord Tim (pretty sure that's a Monty Python reference), who previously headed Dungeon in Australia. I was never really familiar with Dungeon other than hearing the name occasionally, but they had a decent track record.

Lord's sound is typical of modern power metal bands. There are some aggressive riffs and some very impressive vocals. The band focuses on crafting memorable songs with catchy choruses and hooks. It is not something unusual for this genre but it has become increasingly unusual in other metal genres. What results is a fun, high-paced and energetic album that actually sticks in the memory. This reminds me a lot of Dream Evil, the sound is very similar, light-hearted power metal with strong vocals that does not descend into the dreaded "flower" metal sound.

For the most part, the songs are pretty well-written and stay away from the standard "swords and sorcery" lyrical themes that a lot of power metal bands gravitate towards. There are still some cheesy moments, the song "2D Person in a 3D World" is really awful. The gang vocals and ridiculous lyrics certainly do not help. But that is the one bad song in the bunch. The rest are solid songs without any real high highs but no low lows either.

This is a pretty solid release. It does not really do anything we have not heard before in power metal but it does not descend to the cheesiness that so much of the genre does.