Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lacuna Coil "Broken Crown Halo" Review

   If you’re an existing fan of Lacuna Coil you know how each album is its own creature. There’s a musical diversity with their discography that can appeal to a lot of listeners while there’s that element that cannot be placed in a genre because it is simply the soul of the band itself. With their seventh release in their twenty year run I wasn't sure what to expect. With ‘Dark Adrenaline’ the band went darker, harder and in my personal opinion set the bar incredibly high for themselves. They created an album that was a testament to their past as well as what could be.

   ‘Broken Crown Halo’ surges past any expectations I could have even dreamed of and takes the band to a whole new level. The opening track and personal testament of the band “Nothing Stands in Our Way” begins with Andrea’s long absent harsh vocals in that in one word kick off the song. It’s a kick-your-teeth-in refusal to bow down to life’s problems ode and a hell of a way to open an album.  It’s also amazing to hear performed live (so hop to it and get tickets if they’re in your area)!

   What follows up next is “Zombies” which is absolutely relentless. Andrea is an unstoppable force with some of the tightest work he’s ever done with clean and harsh vocals. Cristina sounds epic with a solid chorus and the guitar solo is pretty killer as well. It’s a song that’s very connected into our way of life, where society is at and where our place is found in this day and age.

   ‘Hostages to the Light’ takes thing down a little bit and has a very cinematic vibe and presence to it that foreshadows hope in uncertainty. There’s a very ‘Comalies’ like style to the song that really catches me.  I swear ‘Victims’ could be something a modern day Paradise Lost came up with. It measures how chaotic things in our present day are and paints a picture of a darkening world. There’s a line of rebellion against what the world around is turning people into. Andi’s vocal opening of the chorus “we will not stand in line victims that that fall in vein” is full of some serious defiance.

   Much could be said about ‘Die & Rise’ and all of it in praise of the song. It seems much influenced by a horror movie theme and packs quite the punch. Cristina’s rocking some of their native Italian in the bridge too which in my book is always a huge plus.  They performed the song live at both the Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock Tour shows I attended and it was just killer! “I Forgive (But I Won’t Forget Your Name)” is very much a confrontation of someone who’s caused some serious hurt. One thing I have to say about this whole album is that it’s so emotionally raw. The members of the band have clearly been through some serious rough patches to come out with something like this. It’s beautiful, painful, honest and quite phenomenal.

   ‘Cybersleep’ caught me completely off guard. I remember reading the track listing when it was first released and raising an eyebrow. The song is something very unique and takes the listener on a journey through something totally new, dramatic and cinematic. There’s some vocal distortion in song that just adds just the right tweak to bookend the song from start to finish.

   “We’re falling down into a grave when all the trust has gone away. Now take this life and pull the trigger, stop my pain” is just a sliver of the lyrics to the song that paint the darkness of “Infection” on the wall for all to see. “I Burn in You” opens with something that has almost an Asian movie zen garden flavor to it. It’s got some great vocal work from both Cristina and Andi both and climbs above the horizon into something pretty amazing. It’s the perfect blend of the ‘Unleashed Memories’ era and the ‘Dark Adrenaline’’ sound. It’s one of my personal favorites on the album and I’m really hoping we get a music video out of it.

   Following up is another personal favorite ‘In the End I Feel Alive.’ It opens with this almost annoying sound and then blossoms into something extreme. It’s a crash, burn and rise kind of song that’s laced and nicely layered with some serious keyboard and bass work.

   Sadly, I've reached the album finale with ‘One Cold Day.’ It’s a slow piece that once again reminds me of the beginning albums that launched Lacuna Coil into where they are today. Cristina’s vocals are beautiful and the song really puts her up front and center. It’s a fine closing to such a fantastic album.

   Without a doubt, ‘Broken Crown Halo’ takes us to the darkest place Lacuna Coil has journeyed. There are old and new elements that connect with us die-hard fans as well as something that’s sure to create a whole new web to catch a whole new spectrum of listeners. The band’s very much put an angry, emotional and personal album out there full of some of the most intense work they've ever created. It’s by far in my personal opinion the best work the band has done to date and I cannot wait to see them perform more of these songs live!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Chelsea Wolfe "Pain is Beauty" album review

    Pain is Beauty is another testament to the talent of singer/songwriter Chelsea Wolfe's limitless potential. With her fourth official release listeners are given bits of last year’s Unknown Rooms, mixed in with pieces of 2011’s Apokolypsis with more unique and raw sound integrated into the cauldron to make quite the interesting brew of music.

   The album opens up with "Feral Love" to which the title fits the song perfectly.Wolfe's voice has this beautiful yet ominous feel to it that is both addicting and almost unsettling. There's this almost primitive constriction with the repetitive that drives the song into the listener's head.  Accompanying the almost macabre feel are the laced in synth and sound distortions;  tweaked just right to give the song a truly unusual and powerful feel.

"We Hit a Wall" is something in the vein of "Moses" from Apokolypsis. It is expansive in its sound with a bass cord that sticks with a particular flavor while drums echo in.There's also some string sounds hiding in the mix  The vocals have this particular sound like they could have been recorded in an asylum room with a high ceiling, and though are a lighter feeling sound than the previous song still have a particular weight to them. 

 "House of Metal" has a particular tune to it as you work past the intro. The music sans vocals paints a picture of a worn down circus that has this edge of caution about it. Changing things up,“The Warden” is a lighter track with an electronica style to it.  “Destruction Makes The World Burn Brighter” seems like it could feel at home in an 60s setting. Think Woodstock love through an apocalyptic filter.

"Sick" builds a dyscrasian sound castle in your head that seems to bend the equilibrium of reality around everything. "Kings" has this droning note that builds through the song's progression. It's layered and like the tide to the shore changes with every wave of sound that comes gliding in."Reins" glides in on a chilly hushed note and again brings that very ebb and flow balance until a minute and a half into the song. From there the beat picks up and has this almost sense of panic to it.The overlaying and underlying vocals mesh to perfection while the guitar builds towards a conclusion. "Lone" begins as this acoustic airily vocal piece that winds up to a thicker corded sound. It's short at just over two and a half minutes but surly fantastic and in my opinion is the perfect ending of a fantastic record.

Beauty is Pain is a twelve song masterpiece carved into the silence. Wolfe's hazy vocals, uncompromising talent and musical experimentation are at their very best to date here.  It's the kind of album that will  not sink in with a single listen due to its depth and creativity and should be savored many times. It's beautiful, haunting and extremely powerful; there's no question that Chelsea Wolfe isn't afraid to think outside of the musical box. If you want music with the impact of a great novel this is where to find it.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

In This Moment - "Blood"

   In This Moment returns with their fourth full-length offering, titled “Blood.” After hitting the scene especially hard with their debut in 2007 the band has rocked the music world an album at a time; each album a new progression. They began with the primal sounding “Beautiful Tragedy” and evolved into the hard yet almost at times ethereal “The Dream.” The next step (and one of my favorite albums of all time) is 2010’s “A Star-Crossed Wasteland,” an album that had a hard bite and some serious depth to it. It’s no surprise that “Blood” is something different for the band, bringing with it more of a metal groove on most of the tracks then that extra harsh metalcore sound usually associated with most of the band’s work.

   The album creeps in with like a fog swallowing up a carnival at midnight with the short introductory track “Rise With Me.” Maria sounds haunting and will give you goose bumps while leading you into the dark. Following up is the album’s first single “Blood,” one of the hardest song son the album and surely the catchiest.  It has this element of industrial to it and some distortion with the chorus that adds just the right edge.  If you haven’t checked out the music video I suggest you get with the program and check it out!
   “Adrenalize” has to be my personal favorite track on the album. Maria’s ethereal opening line of “come a little bit closer” coaxes the listener into the first verse and keeps you there until the chorus attacks with a fighting beat to it that demands attention.  Next up is “Whore” which is this strange metalcore-popish track that screams radio friendly single.
    “Scarlet” is another stand out track that pleases the ears and containing a mellower flavor. It’s a masterpiece that has this tragic love and hate star-crossed feeling to it.  
“Comanche” is an all on assault with Maria screaming “Come on, get up, let me hear your war cry!” There’s some serious firepower in the song and it hits with the gentleness of a sledgehammer.

  All in all the record is strong and a good testament to In This Moment’s abilities.  They’ve shown that there is no fear of experimentation and progression. “Blood” isn’t another replica of their past albums but something of a hybrid with new flavors to try. The musicianship from founding member and lead guitarist Chris and new members Travis (bass), Tom (drums) and Randy (rhythm guitar) is outstanding and the great quality we’ve come to expect from the band. Do yourselves a favor and go to your local independent record store and pick this album up on August 14th. It’s well worth the money and one hell of a ride!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Interview with Miri Milman from System Divide

My interview with the lovely Miri Milman from the metal band System Divide! ()_o \m/

Ty: What was it like growing up in Israel? 
Miri: Growing up here was great although when you are a kid you don’t really know life outside of your home. I did experience a war as a kid (the Gulf War) but rather than that I pretty much had a normal life here. I started doing music at a very early age so that’s basically what I did my whole life…

Ty: Speaking of your homeland, do people recognize you as a musician or do you have a certain degree of anonymity?

Miri: I think it all depends on what you intend on doing as a musician, if you try to get a job in the opera house or play in a band for a tv program or so then they will be surely asking for a degree because they hire people who truly know music and do it for a living. As for me, I don’t have a musical degree but I did study a few years of vocal training with several teachers and I had a few years of piano studies. I would have loved to have a musical degree but honestly I just don’t have the time to go to school and combine it with my touring life and family life.

Ty:Music projects both past and present that you've done have inspired people. Are there any bands that you especially enjoy or that inspire you and stimulate your creativity?
Miri: Through the years I got to know a lot of different bands, artists and musical genres and some of them truly influenced me as a person and as a musician.
Every period of time some other band/artist influenced me differently, depending on my mood of course. I think the main artists that engraved their signature in my soul were:
(in a chronological order)
Danny Elfman (the composer of Edward Scissorhands the movie) for his amazing creations in the movie that taught me how beautiful melody can take you other places in your head and stays with you forever. Beethoven for teaching me that music is timeless. James Hetfield because of his outstanding energy on stage I got into Metal music. Anneke Van Giersbergen (The Gathering) inspired me to sing in Metal bands and that metal is not only for men.
Christina Scabia (Lacuna Coil) inspired me that a woman can be beautiful but still kick ass on stage. Dolce Pontes - a Portuguese artist that inspired me the most and I never imagined that one can control all the vocals techniques in the world and makes it sound so easy!
Opeth for teaching me that Metal music doesn’t have to follow only one genre.
Beyonce – perhaps one of the few people that actually deserve all the fame and prize winning, she is without a doubt a gifted human being.

Ty: Your song "More than a Memory" is fantastic! Any chance you'll be putting out more solo stuff in the near future?
Miri: Well thank you very much sir! I’m actually working on a solo project these days, I still don’t know how it will sound like or what direction I will chose but I’m really digging out a lot from the darkest corners of my soul and putting together a very personal project that will discuss some private issues of my life. 

Ty: And speaking of new material, I hear System Divide's working on some ideas. How's that going?

Miri: We’re actually working on a new album as well these days, we got some solid ideas so far but we rather take our time and put out something that we will be absolutely complete with.

Ty: Working with your husband, does the writing and creativity process bring you guys closer together?
Miri: Hahaha, tricky question! Working with your partner is mostly a great thing, you get to share something you love doing with a person you love but again it depends on the current mood, some days things go smooth and we really enjoy it when our ideas flow together and some other days we have some conflicts but only because we’re very passionate with the ideas we have and we both try to voices our opinions, I think it’s normal just like every other issue we deal with J  
Ty: I really respect that you rely solely on your talent rather then run around half naked trying to sell yourself instead of the music. What advice would you give to others just starting in the music industry as far as image goes?

Miri: Thanks a lot, I grew up with an actual love for music and performing and I'm also kind of an old fashion type of gal, I don't feel comfortable or think it's necessary to get naked in order to make people listen to you. If you have a talent if you truly have the voice just use it and people will listen, there are still a lot of people out there that appreciate artists for their talent and not only for their good body features. It's true that a lot of people nowadays buy music with their eyes and not with their ears but this is just another phase of the music evolution.
My personal advice is just BE YOURSELF! Don’t try to imitate other artists, don’t do something that you’re not comfortable with, just go with what feels right for you!

Ty: One more and I'll leave you be. What are some of the pros and cons of working with all guys in System Divide?

Miri: The pros would be definitely the chance of working with professional musicians who breathe music their entire lives, also the privilege of doing music with my husband - that is the greatest pro for me!
The main con will be the distance, not be able to meet the band practice, having single shows or even just to hang out whenever we feel like, Every move we make cost a lot of money so we only meet them just before we go on tour then we have a few days of practice and off we go!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lacuna Coil - "Dark Adrenaline"

    Italian gothic metalers Lacuna Coil return with their sixth full-length album, “Dark Adrenaline.” The band promised something new and harder then previous releases and has indeed kept to their word. Having been a fan of the band since their 1998 release “In a Reverie,” I always wait with high anticipation for anything the Italian grown band puts out. True to form each album is a new definition of who they are and this is no different. The songs are for the majority harder and more in your face then previous releases. Dual vocalists Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro play off one another extremely well, never missing a beat. There’s great musicianship and some awesome riffs and solos that add an extra boost of octane. 

   This is one of those albums where if I could I would go on about for hours, it’s just that well done. This hour finds me especially favoring “My Spirit;” a darker and slower paced track that’s infused with new sound as well as a taste of their old style found on the album “Unleashed Memories.” Happily I can inform you it includes lyrics in their native tongue. The faster paced “I Don’t Believe in Tomorrow” lyrically gives the listener the impression of a breach of trust. Andi’s chorus sounds fantastic and adds a powerful blow with “I want to say it now, cuz I don’t believe in tomorrow. This storm is raging now, because I lost my faith in you.”
   The beautiful siren that is Cristina explores a new side to how she handles vocals in “Intoxicated.” The verses have her drawing out the lyrics and it really adds a lot of depth to the song.  ‘Soul Inmate” is a well-woven together piece that has plenty of their history as well as their present sound woven into it.
   Having proven that they can take one of the best songs out there and add their spin on it with Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence” the band chose to do another cover. They’ve added their unique style to R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion.” Cristina handles the verses like a pro and the emotion in her voice is really something.. Andi covers the chorus and sounds phenomenal. It’s amazing how so many bands can cover this song and leave it dead in the water, but this goes right up there with the original for me.

   Fans of older material the band recorded will find “Dark Adrenaline” a harder form than their previous releases. There are a few songs with some of the rock flavoring, but as a whole it is a metal album. It may very well catch up with their (as well as their label’s) best selling “Comalies” in due time.  Lacuna Coil is back my friends, and harder then ever! Be sure to catch them on the GiganTour with Megadeath early 2

Anneke van Giersbergen - "Everything is Changing"

   Anneke van Giersbergen, the former lead singer of the Dutch progressive/alternative rock band The Gathering puts forth a wonderful solo album with “Everything is Changing.” Infusing her warm vocal styling with mostly upbeat rock sound and electronica, Anneke provides expansion to her sound.  There’s a clear progression from her musical melancholy roots and it really plays to her strengths.
   Opening the album is “Feel Alive,” a track that could easily fall into the pop genre. It’s upbeat and infections with its high tempo beat and piano work entwined with Anneke’s beautiful voice. “Take Me Home is more of a rock song opens with a piano and then leaps into faster paced vocals with a little bit of an electronic whine to give the song a boost.  It has all the elements to be a single off of the album and the energy to be a radio hit. With more of a darker rock melody to it is “Hope, Pray, Dance, Play.” It’s got some more aggressive guitar then the rest of the album that really adds an under layer of strength.  “Hope for me, pray for me one day I’ll be fine Dance with me, play with me I’ll never fall behind” offers up a steady chorus that adds to the meat of the song.
    “Everything is Changing” easily defies a single genre classification with its many diverse songs. It is in my opinion one of her best pieces of work and well worth looking into. The album proves easily that she can stand alone and make great music!

Ani DiFranco - “¿Which Side Are You On?”

   Singer/songwriter Ani DiFranco’s first studio album in more than three years “¿Which Side Are You On?” is here.  Known for her music as well as her poetry and feminist activism, Difranco has always been outspoken.  Her contemporary folk style is ever evolving and her career, spanning over twenty years long seems to be unstoppable.  The album takes a snapshot of DiFranco’s experiences as well as captures her clearly stated opinions of where the country stands politically. It leans far to the left, which might make some look the other way
   Title track “¿Which Side Are You On?” has a steady marching beat with horns and vocals lending their support to the political left, as well as the current Occupy Movement. With a line ''come on people of privilege... it's time to join the fight” she’s clearly reaching out and trying to make a statement. "Promiscuity" is a witty wordplay piece that shows her colorful adventures as a folk singer. “J” is well put together with sturdy strumming guitar and loops.  “Hearse” paints imagery with poetry of the happy time progressive life of a couple all the way to death and beyond.
   Chalk full of funky folk and contemporary rock the album is good effort.  However it does perhaps leave something to be desired in comparison to her previous works.  If you get past the over political tones of the album or lean to the far left you’ll have an appreciation for the album. If you dive deep into the right side of the fence then perhaps this isn’t for you.