Thursday, 24 January 2013

DMJGH 23: Trespass - The Works

Still there in the early eighties. With the reduced stream of interesting new CD's I have been surfing, finding and buying lately quite a bit of metal history.  Guided by the book Suzie smiled the NWOBHM and internet sites for viewing or listening I did fill up some gaps in my ncollection. Most interesting is the number of songs I did recognize or could actually sing along, without knowing I knew that band and song. Biggest surpise was learning that the old DPRP Radio/Stroud FM tune came from Demon's The Plague.

Next to the recently described Shiva album (which I definitely did not know 30 years ago) I enjoyed a lot re-listening albums of Praying Mantis, Angel Witch and my favorite new old NWOBHM album Trespass - The Works. The opening song is their Classic "One of these Days". Apart from their other single "Bright Lights" the song that came back to memory immediately. The Works is a collection of 16 songs and I must say all are very good. Some factors are a constant: Songs are all about the song, Lyrics are short and often repeated and guitar solo's are plenty. The range goes from mostly mid-tempo NWOBHM to some faster songs (Stormchild) and ballads( Point of no Return). I actually was after their anthology which is a double CD with all recordings, but could not find that one. After listening to The Works almost constantly over the past weeks I am now searching for The Works II, which should complete my Trespass collection.. I always considered Stampede my favorite NWOBHM -era band, but Trespass are as good.

Mentioning the internet, it is surprising how little there can be found on this band. Hardly any reviews, no own website, and some sky high priced singles on E-bay. This makes you think that they no longer exist, until the line-up of Headbangers Open Air suddenly includes them. When scrolling the web I do read there is a NWOBHM revival going on. This is very welcome indeed, with albums like these showing why metal and hardrock boomed 1979-1983.

Last tip on NWOBHM live (although unfortunately without Trespass): The new 3-day Belgian R-Mine Metal Fest, shall have on the last day a NWOBHM program with Hell, Tygers of Pan Tang, Savage, Demon and Cloven Hoof. Still waiting for headliners on the more Power metal day, but this seems to become a history leason I would not like to miss.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Heretic - A Time Of Crisis

American Heavy Metal. It came some years after the NWOBHM and brought us some great music as well. One of the bands I got on LP at the time was Heretic. Later known when vocalist Mike Howe moved to Metal Church (And closed the Dynamo Open Air 91 festival with an extremely enjoyable show) But Heretic's Breaking Point also was a great album, so when I ran into yet another comeback and saw they released a new album in 2012 an order was placed swift.

It is interesting to see how several music forms stand the test of time so well. Early 70's prog rock, early 80's NWOBHM might sound dated in a way, but at the same time still very good and the quality remain. American Metal was the more Power/Speed driven direction when already faster subgenres were developing and Thrash Metal was even bigger at the time.

This album in general moves on heavy mid tempo speed and is full of guitar solo's as we love and which were not mandatory within some later arriving subgenres. The album touches political views, bangs along nice and holds some traditional hymns like Raise Your Fist. Main difference with their debut album is that vocalist Mike Howe is no longer around and Julian Mendez takes the honors. Unfortunately I have to conclude that Mike Howe in his eighties form would have lifted this album up a notch. JM is not necessarily bad, but he lacks somewhat on the power front. I always liked the high pitched screams which many US metal bands had plenty off, they are absent here. The Scream during their band anthem Heretic is there, but still not deafening enough. By the way this remains probably their best song, fast and furious.

Now I am looking for nostalgic metal festivals on a pleasant scale I do know this band along many great 80's bands shall be at the Headbangers Open Air festival this July. I feel I need to go and this CD only got me more interested since I don't want to turn my back, on the Heretic!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

DMJGH 22: Disillusion - Back to the Times of Splendour

Over the years I have discoverd many great bands during Progpower (and Headway) On the other hand, since worktrips made me miss quite some days at the same festival. One of the bands I would have loved to see performing an album live would be the above mentioned band and CD.

Like many of my favorite albums this one is hard to classify. They are many times called progressive Death metal, but there is so much more to them. You can hardly call the Tool-like vocals and heavy bass death metal. At the same time grunting is a minority on the vocal front. Several effects are popping up through the CD hinting already to their very different second album (Gloria), but these six songs ranging from almost 5 to 17 minutes just cross too many boundaries to describe. At the time of purchasing in 2004 I considered this to be an alternative for Opeths epic works. Now I actually hear this is even more challenging. Their second album Gloria was made up of much shorter songs, with some industrial sounds distracted me a bit from playing this classic release frequently. Those not patiently enough to listen to a full album (hallo IPod generation) should at least listen to the 14 minute title song, a violin, a semi grunt, a beautiful melody, very uptempo and full of breaks, some distorted vocals, a catchy chorus, some great riffing, an acoustical intermezzo slowly getting louder, a solo and not one boring second during these 14 minutes.

Resuming: Everyone with a minor interest in heavy music should give this album a chance. Surfing the internet I did not see any recent updates on them playing shows, but with today's music scene making it impossible for all smaller bands to live by music this should not mean they shall not reaapear and surprise me. With the current trend from bands playing classic albums from start to finish I have a candidate on my wish-list.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

The top 15 of 2012

I decided this year to go for a list of all styles in one go. This gives me the chance to keep more CD's out. There are the ones I have not heard enough or at all (Speaking to Stones, The Moor, Heretic and Mystery), the ones that just did not make it (Gojira, Ihsahn, A Liquid Landscape, Stealing Axion, the Contortionist) or even did not impress enough (Rush). New discoveries that were nice are Flying Colors and Rak to me, but one band stands out on not making the list this year. The reason is that their CD is not available on CD. I heard it through bandcamp and grooveshark, but still did not pay them to download it. Shattered Skies: one of the great discoveries of 2012 thanks to Progpower, but bringing  no or not enough CD's costs them a potential top three spot.

15. In Mourning - The Weight of Oceans
After blasting last years Progpower with their classic Monolith material, the new one is almost as good. Even if compared with the old Opeth I do like this still. After all my favorite Opeth album remains Still Life. They almost came playing live fairly close to home together with amongst others Myrath. Than the place went bust and the show was cancelled.

14. Riversea - Out of an Ancient World
Easy listening prog rock. Some very good songs although overweighing on ballads a great CD.

13. Threshold - March of Progress
A solid performance by Threshold yet again. Damian Wilson back on vocals is very welcome and the songs are typically Threshold. I must admit though that I like Threshold live (even) more than on CD.

12. Big Big Train - The English Electric part 1
This band put out another great album. While not as good as the previous two releases to me, but storytelling prog from the highest level. Similiar to Riversea style very quiet, but very good for listening, reading along and dreaming away.

11. OSI - Fire Make Thunder
Dark atmospheric music for the moody days. One of this year's disappointments to me was Storm Corrosion (two of such talents should have done better) while OSI came back stronger than expected. Kevin Moore is not the worlds greatest vocalist, but his dark murmles add nice to the not too happy music.

10. Lillian Axe - The Day Before Tomorrow
Just as a rule Lillian Axe always make my top ten. The only band I know in the Melodic Rock scene, that after coming back already released 4 top level albums just as strong as their history. Maybe not their best album ever, but great songs and yet another new vocalist performing at standard high level.

9. Dark Empire - From Refuge to Ruin
I don't know how many albums they released before, but this was the first time I heard some of their music. American Metal, mixed with epic songs and occasional grunts. The title song on the other hand is a pure prog rock classic. Diverse, heavy and impressive an album that deserves a listen

8. It Bites - Map of the Past
I am not sure but John Mitchell might just have released this CD in 2012 (probably I am wrong knowing his normal rhythm). Since he usually only releases very good CD's this one is not different. No "This is England" this time, but with concept style a great album.

7. Alarum - Natural Causes
Surpisingly strong return of this Ausie Jazz-thrash outfit. And in "For New Creation" they do have probably the catchiest song of 2012 on their album.
Come to think of it forgot to bring the T-shirt of continents collide, while being on my second continent.

6. Marillion - Sounds that can't be Made
After some more listens this album grew on me and I am pleased to see that Marillion came back with a top ten album (Anoraknophobia was the last sure one, Marbles maybe). Some very good songs on this album and Ok H makes them softer and softer, but with songs like Lucky man, the Sky above the rain I can live with that.

5. Alan Reed - First in a Field of One
I saw him live last year and found him still with a great voice, but too acoustic and too little rock. Still no heavy rocking here, but this CD is spot on. Great songs, great voice and a celtic Fish-like vibe that makes it one of the more pleasant surprises of the year.

4. The Haarp Machine - Disclosure
Sitar djent aggresive bulldozering, with good clean vocals inbetween. They open the door for me to a whole lot of these modern djent bands, Curious to see if they are so tight live. Curious planning live detail for 2013. 3 March they play Holland with Monument and two others. Within 50 km that same day I can also go to Threshold or Devon Graves (Psychotic Waltz) solo. Who plans these dates?

3. Linear Sphere - Manvantara
While I thought they silently disappeared after their long ago released debut album, they are back with the most enthiusiastic opening riff heard in a long time. Six songs telling a complicated story over even more complicated music and I love it.

2. Galahad - Battle Scars / Beyond the Realms of Euphoria
A double hit by Galahad the different prog band. Battle Scars being my favorite for the heavier balance I do appreciate both albums and you just got to have respect for a band obviously making music they like, without being worried about upsetting listeners with a very wide range of influences.

1. Headspace - I Am Anonymous
What a beautiful album and how well played live as well. Some very good musicians here at work and songs that stay in the head for a long time. Damian Wilson even more impressive than on the Threshold CD showing he might be the voice of progmetal nowadays.  

So after reading back I can only conclude my taste is very British indeed. Probably since many of the American or Scandinavian progmetal bands had no new album in 2012.  On the live front the UK also seems tempting with Y-prog, HRH Prog/AOR or Celebr8. I did learn my lessons the hard way though with this year's last minute cancelling of the Fused festival and afraid to buy tickets up front for either one of them.

If 2013 can only be as good as 2012 on the CD and live front I am pretty sure we have a happy New Year.