Thursday, 26 May 2011
Technically the second album of this group then, Isolated firstly shows an increased melodic side than II's Of Winter Born, with perhaps an Unearth like influence upon the band now. There is an obvious shift from the more brutal death metal offerings of their début and at times it is almost like listening to a different band, which is not a criticism nor a compliment as such, just an observation.
Some things have not changed however. Front man Andy Wardole still gives an impressively brutal vocal performance, and the rest of the band can certainly play that is undeniable. It has to be said however that there is nothing new here whatsoever. This is very much familiar melodic death metal which we have heard a lot of before and of which there is an abundance of, and done a lot more memorably by others. This is not to say that this album or band should be discarded at all however, Isolated is an enjoyable listen none the less and songs such as first single Earthbound, Unaltered and Clones will have you headbanging away. The Soulless are undeniably a good band and have the capability to make a fantastic album someday, this however is not it.
Listen to: Unaltered, Earthbound, Revelation
Friday, 20 May 2011
This is the second album since the departure of masterful vocalist Christian Älvestam and his replacement with growler Roberth Karlsson and clean singer Lars Palmqvist. Now whilst these vocalist's début album, Dark Matter Dimensions, was not quite as powerful as previous efforts with Christian and that it may have appeared that they could not fill his shoes even together, The Unseen Empire puts this to bed with a joint vocal performance that certainly matches and quite possibly surpasses even Christian's best. Roberth's growls may not be quite as formidable as Christian's, the linking between the two vocalist's is most impressive, such as on Seers Of The Eschaton which shows how much their chemistry has improved since DMD. It isn't just the improvement of the vocalists that deserves mention as the ever astounding guitarists Per and Jonas have written some of their most catchy hooks to date and still have enough shred to give Alex Lahlio and the lads a run for their money.
What The Unseen Empire doesn't have, unlike Dark Matter Dimensions is an instant anthem that stands above the rest of the album such as DMD's The Iconoclast. This is simply because TUE's songs are all of such a high and consistent quality that no single song stands out much further than the rest, although at a push it would probably have to be either The Anomaly or Illuminoid Dream Sequence. Fans of the band may have noticed that Scar Symmetry have also not lost their trait of naming songs with terms and words you will only understand if you are a either a leading scientist or Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory sitcom.
The Unseen Empire is another impressive album from this incredibly consistent and yet spectacular of bands, and further proves that these guys should be mentioned in the same breath as their peers Soilwork and even Children of Bodom. Finally a message to Scar Symmetry themselves. PLEASE come to the UK soon! I'll bake you a cake!
Listen to: The Anomaly, Illuminoid Dream Sequence, Alpha And Omega
Monday, 16 May 2011
I wanted to write up a memorial piece for Dio, his status as one of the true greats fully deserves one. Of course I am not claiming to be one of the only ones to do so as there are other great memorials from much better writers, and fans are showing their love for Dio whenever they put on his music and show that our thoughts are with him. Also I cannot give the perfect memorial as I have never met the man, nor have I managed to see him live, whether fronting his own solo work or Heaven and Hell (I nearly got the chance to see him live on his last announced greatest hits solo tour, but fate would change this). I can however give a tribute from the music he has created, music that is mostly timeless and perfect. This is a tribute to the great Ronnie James Dio from a fan.
I wouldn't even dare claim that his loss last year was as major for me as it was for others. Someone who has not him even once, let alone has had him as a part of his life cannot do so, especially when he has left loved ones such as his wife Wendy (who of course thoughts are with on what must be a tough day for her), family, band mates, peers, even journalists and further; who pretty much always speak about as one of the nicest, respectful and genuine people you could ever meet. Ronnie James Dio has affected my life in another way however, as he would have done to all his fans even if they, like me, had not met him, and that is through his music.
I still remember first hearing his incredible voice, on the truly timeless Rainbow In The Dark. Interestingly this for a long was my favourite Dio song, but is also a song that when first recorded Ronnie himself was supposed to have hated and nearly destroyed the tapes of until convinced otherwise. Now it is one of his most well known and beloved songs.
This of course is just ONE of his truly great songs. The amount of truly great pieces of music that Dio has made in fact is simply staggering. Famous for singing on 3 definite classic albums (and with three different bands) in Rainbow's Rising, Black Sabbath's Heaven and Hell, and his own Dio's Holy Diver, these three albums are all different, yet are all true classics and all showcase his truly phenomenal voice. In addition you cannot forget the likes of The Mob Rules (Black Sabbath), The Last In Line (Dio) and 2009's The Devil You Know (Heaven and Hell). Not to mention that he is responsible for that universal symbol of metalheads across the globe, the Devil Horns hand gesture.
Ronnie's death last year was a great loss for several reasons. Obviously the voice behind these classics was gone, but also the fact that The Devil You Know proved that Ronnie James Dio's voice was still as magnificent as ever, and with Heaven and Hell for sure there was the possibility that even more great music could happen. He was taken away long before he was finished.
My thoughts today are with those who are still mourning his loss. We are lucky that he has left a truly great legacy of classic albums, the Stand Up and Shout charity, and for those who knew him, have experienced him live, or even just enjoyed his music with great memories. All we can do now, is to play his music loud for years to come (which it will be, people will be discovering Dio's music in years and years to come), raise the horns again and again, and remember the great one. Ronnie James Dio, gone but sure as hell not forgotten, Rest In Peace.
Friday, 13 May 2011
Definitely the weak link in the Korn back catalogue, here Korn took a risk at experimentation which sadly failed. Insecurities in the band, with the departure of David Silveria and no replacement, may have contributed to the albums weakness but also this album just isn't great at all.
The opening foursome of songs lull in to a false sense of security by being quite decent. Not as great as previous output, but Starting Over, Bitch We Got A Problem, Evolution and Hold On actually make you think that this album might be worthwhile. Unfortunately it ends there.
The band seems to have taken an experimentation towards more mellow sounds sometimes, and by no means a wrong move as such, here it doesn't work and in reality we want full aggression from Korn. Also sometimes there is a distinct lack of rage and hunger it would appear which causes much of the album to lack that edge, and other than those four mentioned songs and perhaps Innocent Bystander, all the rest of the album is completely forgettable. It is a good job that III emerged because it would be a worry if Korn continued at this pace.
Listen to: Starting Over, Bitch We Got A Problem, Hold On
So here we are, another day another post. Well goodbye Wolfpack! until next time kiddies :)
Thursday, 5 May 2011
RATM havn't recorded since 2000's patchy covers album Renegades, but since this have disbanded, reunited again in 2007, headlined numerous festivals across the globe, including 2008's Reading and Leed's festivals and 2010's Download festival, and even had a UK Christmas number one in 2009, not bad accolades.
These are truly worthwhile accolades, and most importantly they show how important they still are to fans of this form of music, being one of this genre's greatest bands of the 1990's, with much to say and not being afraid to say it all, not being afraid to take action concerning the major issues of the time, and a long the way making 3 truly excellent albums and being very influential in the forming of the much popular for the time Nu-Metal genre period, and they still have a major fanbase and a huge demand for their live show 11 years after their last recording, and more so than their last original recording.
With all this in mind, the fact that they still have no concrete plans to record a new album, for me, is just not good enough. This has not been billed as simply a reunion tour or shows (Faith No More split again recently but at least they were announced under a reunion tour and it didn't seem likely that new material would appear), this seems more as proper return, and the touring has been going for 4 years. Currently, with no original material seemingly on the horizon, and with the likes of Tom Morello still making original music with side projects, the RATM tours are now seeming to be just a trip down memory lane and nothing more.
If anyone has seen RATM play in the last few years (for me, Download 2010, on my birthday, epic!!) you will know that they are on seriously good form live, with such a chemistry between them now that back in their volatile period before their split may not have been, they are playing seriously well and appear to be in some of the best form of their careers, so a new album from them would be more than welcome, and could easily match their previous material from an almost flawless back catalogue (The Renegades covers album doesn't completely work, but there is no faulting Evil Empire, The Battle For Los Angeles and of course their self titled début), so why the hell is it not happening.
With them in seriously great form, and yet no plans it seems to record, it seems that RATM do not have plans to necessarily stop touring either. In which case this would make RATM nothing more than a nostalgia act at the moment, and the fans who have stuck with them in this whole time deserve to see their heroes prove that they can still back up their reputation with more stellar material, not just the same sets over and over again. Rage are undoubtedly one of the greatest bands in the metal genre, they are an incredible live band, have an amazing back catalogue and more importantly are in excellent condition and are proving with side projects that they still have creativity flowing. So please prove to your fans that you do still have it, don't just rest on your reputation and your back catalogue, prove that you still have a real place in the music scene, and teach some of the new kids a lesson in how to kick serious arse!