Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Metal Briefs: Odds and Ends

I am working on emptying out my email of stuff that has been sent.  I assure everyone that I did take the time to listen to each submission in their entirety.  I am not writing full reviews for most of this stuff because I want to make sure that I get stuff out, but I think I was able to be succinct and effective in these short reviews.

I had no idea that metalcore bands were still forming.  Fear Control lists their influences as Trivium, Lamb of God, and Bullet for My Valentine.  Yep, that pretty much sums this up.  They are decent at what they do, but I am just beyond being interested in this type of metal.  I would have loved this about ten years ago.  Some of the riffs are fairly impressive, in particular the opening riff to "Chains".

Fear Control Bandcamp.

I find multi-instrumentalists fascinating.  People who can write and arrange complex music and then play most, if not all, of the music in the recording is incredibly interesting.  I guess some people are just more musically-gifted than I am (I can play the saxophone and piano, but have done neither in a very long time).  Graeme Swallow is one such multi-instrumentalist.  He wrote and arranged all of the songs on this album, only handing over vocal duties and the occasional solo to other individuals.  The sound is often power/progressive metal (think Symphony X and Kamelot) with some elements of orchestration and a strong feeling of theatricality.  But it is a hugely varied album as a whole as many other songs lack metal or rock influences entirely and are much more classically-based.  The music is actually very infectious and I found myself enjoying this album with repeated listens.  There is a lot going on and the musicianship is really incredible.  The guest vocalists are all extraordinarily talented.  There is definitely some Christian themes present but they are not overwhelming so it is not a problem, and the musicianship really is incredible.

Graeme Swallow Soundcloud.

Holy shit, calm down on the synthesizers a little bit guys.  Hammerforce are about what you would expect they would be when I tell you they play power metal and are from Europe.  Yep, "flower metal" here.  That being said, I do like the sound when it is played well.  Yes there are a ton of synthesizers in this album, but they complement the music a lot better than I thought they would when I first heard them introduced.  Musically, Hammerforce bear a strong similarity to Sonata Arctica circa Silence and I really liked that sound so I found myself enjoying this one quite a bit.  It's fast and fun and melodic all at the same time without becoming completely cheesy.  That's probably about the best I can say for a "flower metal" band with tons of synthesizers.

Hammerforce Bandcamp.

Whenever a band has success there are inevitably going to be some imitators popping up, bands that play a similar sound.  This is nothing new and it really is not that bad of a thing.  Meshuggah is a very popular band in the extreme metal scene so of course there will be bands that play a similar style of music.  Atonal riffs that provide the rhythm of the song, complex drum patterns, and vocals that are a mix between a shout and a growl.  That is what Kinetik sounds like on this release.  They produce a powerful wall of sound with some interesting rhythmic riffing.  It is an interesting listen while it is playing, but it is quickly forgotten when it is not.  Not a bad album, just not terribly memorable.

Kinetik Bandcamp.

Thornwill is a Hungarian traditional metal band.  I think the only Hungarian bands I have previously heard were black metal bands, so this is a little different.  This is actually a fairly impressive album for a country that is seemingly isolated from the rest of the metal scene.  It reminds me a little bit of Primal Fear.  It is faster-paced with some dynamic lead vocals and some impressive riffwork.  The songs are infectious and fun.  This is a little bit of a longer album, but it never feels like it is dragging.  A fairly impressive slice of traditional metal.

Thornwill Soundcloud.

Apparently I was just sent the single for "Run to You" which is off of this Italian band's 2013 album Beyond the Sea.  So that is all I am going to review then.  Tothem is a gothic metal band from Italy with a female singer, so immediately I was expecting something similar to Lacuna Coil.  That is not quite what this is.  The most notable difference is the emphasis on the metal.  Unlike their countrymen who have become much more of a pop/metal Evanescence clone, Tothem utilizes real metal riffs.  The vocals of singer Roslen Bondi are impressive, though she does have a tendency to be a little too operatic.  I hope this band stays true to this sound on the rest of their material.

Tothem Soundcloud.

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