Sunday, March 26, 2006

Interview: Morgan Lander of Kittie

The girls of heavy metal outfit Kittie have endured more than their share of adversity over their 10-year career, including some less-than-amicable lineup changes and legal battles with their former label. Through it all, the band has persevered and is set to embark on a nationwide tour in support of their digitally released EP Never Again. I was very fortunate to have frontwoman Morgan Lander take time out of her busy schedule to give me a call and answer a few questions.

[HMM] I'd just like to thank you for taking the time to give me a call.
[Morgan] Hey, no problem.

So your tour is about to kick off. How does it feel to be finally getting back on the road?
I'm so excited. It's been way too long. We're just really, really happy to be able to continue to do this and to finally play for our fans again and let them hear some new stuff and obviously some old favorites. We've just been around our hometown too long and it's starting to wear on me [laughs].

What have you guys been doing in your off time?
We've actually had a lot go on. Everything from parting ways with our record label to parting ways with some members and that sort of thing, but mostly we've been just writing. We have a full album completely written and we're doing a lot of demoing and that sort of thing as well, really refining the songs. I don't know, it was kinda like this past year has been an opportunity for us to really do a lot of soul searching in terms of where we'd like to take this band musically, and how we would be able to possibly redefine our sound and define it even more. You know what I mean?

Kittie

Oh yeah, absolutely. Just listening to the EP that you've got out there now I hear a lot of differences. Especially with "Breathe", it's very different from the other two.
Definitely, definitely. And with the EP, those were some of the first songs that we had actually written and recorded and with that I think we just really wanted to cover the entire spectrum of what Kittie is about. So you have "Never Again", which is a really really heavy all screaming song and you have "This Too Shall Pass", which is a mixture of the two. And then you have "Breathe", which is still very heavy but it also incorporates a lot of melody, and we just kind of chose those three because they cover all of the spectrum of what the band is about and that sort of thing. But I definitely think that "Breathe" is kind of where we possibly could be heading in terms of blending really really heavy, brutal music with melody. I think it's something that is kind of interesting. Why not mix the best of both worlds in this band? Because I think sometimes we're confused, ya know? We have really really strong metal roots and we we really want to just be a balls out metal band sometimes, and sometimes we want to explore the more melodic side of things. I think a song like "Breathe", and a lot more of the songs we've been writing, kind of mash those two together and I think it's kind of neat.

Yeah. That's exactly what I was going to ask you. The formula on "Breathe" was just amazing, and I was going to ask if that was a direction that you were looking at heading. I'm glad to hear that it sounds like it's going to be more involved in your music.
Yeah definitely. To me it just seems like we've finally just really, really focused our writing and just really refined our sound and have finally been able to really blend both worlds together and yeah, it's definitely where we're headed. I mean, that's not to say there's still not gonna be some screaming. Sometimes there's certain subjects and certain songs that really lend to it, but I think it's interesting because it's new territory for us and it's something that's a little different than what's out there, ya know?

Absolutely. Now are these same three songs going to be on the album when it comes out?
I think that's really something that I guess is yet to be decided. We have a lot of really great songs and I think what we'll probably just have to do is when we finally have the opportunity to record them, we'll record all of them and choose the best ones. I'd like to think that a song like "Breathe" probably would make it onto the album, but who knows? Other songs may turn out better or whatever, but I think that if those songs do end up on the album they may incorporate a few changes just to keep things interesting. We'll do a little bit of different stuff on them and change them around.

How did Trish and Tara come to be part of Kittie?
Actually, we met Tara the last time we were in Detroit at one of our shows. That was the first time that I'd met her, but she actually played in a local band for quite a few years and our management as well as myself was aware of her and her talent and that sort of thing. We've also known Trish for quite a few years as well. She's played in local bands and kind of has the same circle of friends that Mercedes and I do. When it came time to finding the right people we didn't really have to look very far. It was actually rather refreshing to know that there's people that have really really great talent and great drive and really see eye to eye with Mercedes and I that were just in our backyard, ya know? It's great. That's the first time we've had local girls in the band since the original lineup and it just makes things really really great for practicing as well as really getting to know people. In the past we've had American people in the band and it was always kind of a pain to have them fly up, sometimes across the country, for practice and that sort of thing. It was more a work relationship because outside of touring and practicing we all kind of went back to our respective countries and cities, so we didn't really get any time to build a relationship beyond the music and the work of it. I think that's the beauty of having these two girls in the band. We live really close and we can hang out and get to know each other outside of the band. It helps to build a tighter unit, I think.

It definitely gives you a better sense of cohesion.
Oh absolutely. Things are working out really well. We can practice every day, and we have been and it's just really helped improve the live show. We are able to throw more ideas back and forth and talk about things 'cause we're jammin' every day and so things have really evolved and come along. With the new songs as well as with some of the older fan favorites and that sort of thing, we've been able to put like a new, interesting spin on it. But yeah, they're great girls and I'm really really happy.

It sounds like they've already just jumped into the songwriting process and are really contributing.
Actually, all the songs that have been written for the album were just Mercedes and I because it was just the two of us for so long. With Tara, she's a really really great guitar player. We've never had solos or that sort of thing in our songs before and we've kind of let her really show off some of her talent in terms of that. With some of the older songs it's adding solos to them and solos to the new songs as well, so in that department definitely. We let their talent shine, but all of the songs have already been written. It helps to improve things and make things more well-rounded. You can only have so much of a song when it's just a drummer and a guitar player/singer writing, ya know? So I think everybody adds their personality.

That's awesome. What is Tara's style? This is the first time we've heard her on Never Again - at least for me, anyway. How would you compare her style to some of the other guitarists of the genre?
I don't know. I think her roots are definitely guitar-wise and musically in sort of a different place than say someone like myself - growing up with a lot more extreme metal and that sort of thing. She comes from a background where she does a lot of jazz and blues runs and that sort of thing, but she actually really really compliments the music really well. It adds another dimension, another element. She's really great; she's really talented with ideas and the whole solo thing is really really cool so I think it's just gonna, like I said, add another dimension to the band. Something that we've never had before and it's only going to improve on things.

Absolutely. From what I've heard so far of Never Again you've got a formula nailed.
Oh absolutely, and it's only gonna get better. That was just our first time really jumping into things with having her do a solo on the recording.

How has reception of the EP been so far?
It's been great. It really has been. It was kind of an interesting decision to just release something online, but I think it was really important to get back in touch with our fans and just let people know that we haven't gone anywhere, that we haven't broken up or anything like that. People are really really digging the new stuff, more so than even some of our past albums so I've heard. I just can't wait to show everybody what else we have up our sleeve 'cause that's just the tip of the iceberg, really.

I've heard you say that in the past that the Canadian metal scene really hasn't treated you all that well...
Well I wouldn't say even necessarily just the metal scene, just the industry in Canada in general.

Really? Do you think that's improved any with this new release?
I really don't know. I mean, we haven't really kept too much in touch with the Canadian industry and that sort of thing. That's not to say that the fans aren't there, because they definitely are. It doesn't matter where you live or what language you speak, music is something that everybody can understand. But it's always been the United States that's really embraced us. We kind of felt in the beginning that we had to go to the States to be taken seriously and get a record deal and be able to tour and that sort of thing. It's kind of unfortunate, but a lot of Canadian industry people kind of just wrote us off as a bunch of little girls. Obviously through the years we've grown up and spent a lot of time becoming a better band.

Yeah, I definitely think that attitude is not gonna fly anymore.
Oh definitely not. Especially when we're able to release our next full-length album, I think people are gonna...it's gonna be like a completely new band.

Morgan Lander
Do you have any kind of estimate on when that album might be coming out?
Well, we're actually still in the process of looking for a home for Kittie. So we're doing a lot of keeping in contact with different people and that sort of thing. The entire album is written. It's ready to go, so all it's really gonna take is finding the appropriate place for the band to do their thing. I'm hoping by the end of this year or possibly the beginning of the next year we'll have a full-length for the fans. That's not to say that you're not going to be hearing from us. We're gonna be doing this tour for the next couple months and hopefully hooking some stuff up for the summer. If you come out to a show, you'll get to hear some new stuff as well to try to keep things interesting and new and fresh.

I'll definitely be there on the 7th in Flint...
Excellent. Well, I hope you enjoy the show. It should be a good one.

I'm sure I will. Now the last time you played here in Michigan was a pre-Superbowl party, right?
Yes.

How was that experience for you?
Oh it was amazing. It was amazing. Tons and tons of people. It was a smaller room but everybody really came out to just have a good time. It was kind of a crazy party. They were having like dollar draft beer so everybody ended up getting really drunk and rowdy and crazy, and of course we got to play and we debuted a few new songs and that sort of thing. Detroit's always been a really really great market for us. The kids there are just so into the band and so into metal and they just want to have a good time. It's Detroit Rock City - everybody likes to get a little crazy there.

Absolutely. We're always looking forward to you guys coming around and can't wait for it.
Great!

Another thing I noticed that you in particular did in the downtime was your duet with Maurizio Iacono of Kataklysm.
Yeah! That was a great opportunity. Those guys are amazing.

How did that all come together and how was it working with them?
It's kinda funny. It was actually Maurizio that had gotten in touch with our manager and just said "Hey, we're interested in having Morgan do something on the new album", and right away I was like "Of course!". I mean, Kataklysm is a great Death metal band but also a Canadian band, which made it easier for me to go and do the recording. Mercedes and I went to Montreal last summer and I did the vocal tracks with J.F., who does the recording and producing on the album. I think he's done quite a few of their albums, actually. He's got a cool little home studio and so I just went in and did that. They were really cool, really down to earth people and really just kind of let me do my thing - which was awesome - and let me put my own little flair on it. I know that they were very, very into it and very adamant about it - that it was gonna be really really amazing. I think there was a lot of their fans who were kind of skeptical about it because they're obviously very different musically from Kittie. I know that I actually had read an interview where he said that their label was even kind of a little apprehensive about it. But you know, hey, I brought it! I think a lot of people still have the wrong idea about this band. They hear Kittie and the first thing they think about is "Brackish" and the first album, and a bunch of underage teenage girls. It's like, we've been in this biz for 10 years now. You'd think that something would improve, and it definitely has. We're light years away from that band, and like I said, I just think that people conjure up the wrong idea when they hear the name. I think it's about damn time that we get to change their minds!

Yeah, I'm thinkin' you're doing just that!
[laughs] Well, you know, I try. I mean, with the whole Kataklysm thing, I think that definitely opened up a lot of people's eyes and ears to the band and what we're now capable of doing. I've read a lot of really great reviews about the entire album, obviously because Kataklysm is a great band. But I think a lot of people were really impressed with the duet, and I think it's really cool.

Anything like that in the future for you?
I'd love to do more stuff like that. As a vocalist, I'm pretty versatile - I can sing and scream. So bring it on!

Well, I don't want to run too much over time here, so do you have any departing words?
Definitely check out the Never Again EP, it's online now. If you check out the iTunes version you get an extra bonus track, which is pretty cool. We're hitting the road starting March 31st and we'll probably be on tour until the beginning of June, so check your local concert listings and Kittie will be coming to a town near you. Check out kittierocks.com for all the latest Kittie info and of course our MySpace, which is the big thing now. It's myspace.com/officialkittie, and leave us a message. We run both the web site and the MySpace, so we try to be as down to earth as possible and keep in touch with our fans and let 'em know what's going on.

Great! Well, thanks again for the time and I will look forward to seeing the show.
Excellent! See ya at the Machine Shop. Thank you.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Review: Antiquus - Ramayana (2005)

Antiquus [ Website | MySpace ]
Ramayana
(2005)
self-released

From the western shores of Canada - Vancouver, to be precise - rises a new star in the North American power metal scene. Antiquus, formed in 2002, have unleashed an eyebrow-raising debut album that has made quite a global splash, earning them a record deal with Italian label Cruz Del Sur. A huge part of the band's success has to do with their style of unadulterated power metal, lashing together powerful bass lines and twin guitar harmonies with raw, "true" metal vocals and no-frills drum work.

Being a student of mythology, and having a familiarity with the Hindu epic Ramayana, I was mightily intrigued upon hearing of a band putting such a grandiose tale to a metal soundtrack. Often have The Eddas, The Odyssey, and other great Western myths been given a heavy metal makeover, but as far as I know this is the first example of Hindu mythology being given the treatment. The first four tracks on Ramayana in fact have nothing to due with the epic story, and are actually the weakest of the 10 songs on the album. "Empire Rising" and "Changeling" are fairly standard power metal in the style of Jag Panzer and Iced Earth, though they do serve as a decent introduction to the musical direction of Antiquus. Frontman Jesse White has a strong, raw voice with plenty of grit that I find to be similar to Harry Conklin's (Jag Panzer) with just a dash of Bruce Dickinson. While he can hit a decent high note, he stays away from the wailing and falsettos that permeate the power metal genre. Also key to Antiquus' sound is the twin guitar fury of Trevor Leonard and Geoff Way (both of whom have departed since the release of the album). Bolstered by Scott Unger's conspicuous bass, the two axemen lay down some very tight riffs throughout the album as well as offering up some intricate solos and well-placed hooks. "Tanlin Bridge" features a heavier style to the riffs, incorporating a bit of Slayer-influenced thrashiness into the mix, while "Battle of Eylau" embarks on an epic (that is, lengthy) account of the Napoleonic battle. The latter track opens with more than two minutes of battlefield sound effects set to subdued, slightly ominous riffs and bass lines. While I commend Scott and Jesse for attempting to create a sweeping tale of historic significance, the song ultimately comes across as tedious and tired.

While the first four tracks of Ramayana are good, but really only average in terms of the genre, the final six tracks find Antiquus at their best and make this an album worthwhile to metal fans looking for fresh blood in the scene. "Ayodha" is a short intro featuring the sitar to set the appropriate mood for the subject material that follows. The epic begins in earnest with "A Beautiful Stag", the track opening with an acoustic guitar passage that deftly conveys the tranquility of the Indian forests. Jesse, along with increasingly intense riffs, enhances the mystical significance of Sita's encounter with the magical stag. "The Hunt", one of my favorite tracks, follows with crushing riffs and complex leads. The pace is quickened on this weighty track as a fair amount of solos are unleashed. My favorite song is the simian-inspired "Hanuman". Here the band captures the spirit of the monkey hero perfectly through their use of groovy riffs and unrestrained leads. The remaining two tracks are on par with the rest of the band's retelling of the Ramayana, providing a satisfying ending to the album.

Ramayana is a good, aggressive power metal album. Without the final six tracks, however, this disc could easily have slipped into obscurity as one of many "good" debuts. The six-part epic is an ambitious undertaking for a young band, but Antiquus succeeds in creating an interesting listening experience that grows with each listen. Incorporating elements of power, thrash, and prog metal this album should appeal to a wide range of tastes.



Track Listing
1 Empire Rising 4:27
2 Changeling 5:34
3 Tanlin Bridge 5:30
4 Battle of Eylau 11:13
Ramayana - An Epic in Six Parts
5 Part I - Ayodha 1:06
6 Part II - A Beautiful Stag 6:02
7 Part III - The Hunt 4:08
8 Part IV - Hanuman 4:11
9 Part V - Sri Lanka 5:52
10 Part VI - He Who Makes the Universe Scream! 10:56


Purchase Ramayana from these fine e-Tailers:

   

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Review: Fashion Bomb - Devils To Some, Angels To Others (2006)

Fashion Bomb [ Website ]
Devils To Some, Angels To Others
(2006)
self-released

Let me start by explaining why Fashion Bomb's debut album Devils to Some, Angels to Others has been awarded my first-ever "no rating". I need to explain right away, here at the beginning of the review, to dispell any misunderstandings that may arise from looking no further than the score. The music is not the issue here. Plain and simple, it's a poor promotional campaign. To be able to review and rate an album, a reviewer needs the full album to do so. Fashion Bomb instead saw fit to send an excerpt of 4 songs and expected an album review based on those four songs. Doing so would be akin to writing a book review after reading only the first and last chapters, or reviewing a movie after seeing only the trailer. An album review based upon less than 30% of the material would be a sham and a disservice to those who read it. Guys, the samplers are great for generating label interest and seeking radio ariplay, but for album reviews you need to be completely forthcoming.

Alright, off the soap box and on to the music. Chicago's Fashion Bomb is an electro-industrial quintet possessing quite a number of similarities to Nine Inch Nails, White Zombie, and Marilyn Manson. Lyrically inquisitive and anti-establishment, their music blends robust electronic ambiance with driving guitars and intense rhythms. Whereas "SS" is a pretty straightforward industrial metal track, "Low" comes across as my favorite selection because of the melodious chorus and the attention given to guitar solos and leads. A mid-tempo track, it still packs punch while maintaining accessiblity. Frontman Val contrasts more vocal melodies on "Christ Puncher" with enraged shouts and angered backing vocals from the rest of the band.

Based on what I've heard on this album sampler, I have to say that the songs presented are above average listens and that Fashion Bomb is skilled at putting together vocal and guitar hooks. What I can't say is whether or not the other 10 songs on Devils to Some, Angels to Others can compare. One final irritation: the album contains a cover of Mötley Crüe's "Looks That Kill" (one of my favorite Crüe tunes of all time) but it was, of course, left off the sampler. Bummer.


Track Listing
1SS
2Nothing
3Low
4Avarice
5Rant
6God Drug
7The Line
8Ascend This Day
9Drugpool
10Skin
11Over It
12Christ Puncher
13Mold
14Looks That Kill



Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Review: Crimson Tears - Gothika (2005)

Crimson Tears [ Website | MySpace | Facebook ]
Gothika
(2005)
self-released

In 2003, Crimson Tears' founder Dave Miller set out to form a symphonic metal band that captured the commercial appeal of bands such as Nightwish and After Forever. The four tracks on Gothika, the band's debut demo, are solidly in the realm of the symphonic/Gothic metal genre and serve as proof that Dave's goal is well within his reach. Fans who devour all this particular genre has to offer will be more than happy to discover what Crimson Tears  has to offer, while those who expect every up-and-coming band to offer some sort of refinement or transformation of existing style will most likely find little to like.

For those familiar with the aforementioned bands, you know exactly what to expect on Gothika - atmospheric metal bolstered by symphonic arrangements with sweeping keyboards, thick guitar riffs, and of course semi-operatic female vocals. In the case of the latter element, vocal coach Gina Oldham was recruited for the role of frontwoman. While I intend no disrespect for Gina whatsoever, she is not of the same caliber as Tarja Turunen or Floor Jansen. She does, however, possess a strong voice with considerable range that adds a unique flavor to the music of Crimson Tears. Having said that, I found her to be strongest while being in mid-range and less effective at either end. At the low end, such as on the title track, she sounds a bit out of place with the music while on the high end her voice loses some impact and tends to sound too wispy and thin. In her middle range she delivers just the right combination of power and mystique to heighten the effect of the music. The majority of the first track features Gina in her comfort zone, and combined with the lush piano and keyboard atmosphere from Marcus Chapman as well as Miller's precise riffs and snappy leads the song is definitely a highlight of the demo.

The seconds track, "My Plea", doesn't measure up to what the band has already displayed with "Eternity". Gina's voice is thinned by too much time spent in her upper range, leaving the song without an effective vocal punch. Dave noodles out a decent solo, but the majority of the riffs are average and repetitious. The title track, on the other hand, sees Crimson Tears back at their best. Dave's main riff reminds me a lot of an '80s power ballad from bands like Skid Row and Warrant, but he backs it up with an occasional crunch that dispels any comparison to a hair metal anthem. Gina dips a bit too low now and then, but she's mostly right where she needs to be. Marcus' keys provide a huge backdrop for the rest of the band to lay down a very solid mid-paced composition. Wrapping up the demo is "Gardens of Sorrow", an expansive song that is primarily mid-paced with very a very strong guitar presence. While full effect is given to the keyboards, Miller delivers some fine alternating riffs and sparkling leads, including his best solo of the demo in the latter moments of the song. The band essentially pulls out all the stops on this track, displaying a clear aptitude for creating exactly the kind of metal they've set their sights upon.

Is Gothika another example of Nightwish worship? Yes, it is. Having said that, the band has never denied their wish to emulate their influences and capture the sound that has made bands like Nightwish so successful. Crimson Tears is seeking their goal openly and honestly, which is much more than can be said about some outfits. So for those of you who can't get enough of Gothic-inspired symphonic metal, this band is right up your alley.


Track Listing
1 Eternity 4:47
2 My Plea 4:54
3 Gothika 6:07
4 Gardens of Sorrow 6:10



Search eBay for Gothika:

Saturday, January 7, 2006

Review: Scarecrown - 'Til The Last Breath (2005)

Scarecrown [ MySpace ]
'Til The Last Breath
(2005)
self-released

A short distance north of Venice is the small Italian town of San Polo Di Piave, home to the band Scarecrown. Fronted by the engaging Antonella, a quick assumption would lead one to believe that Scarecrown is yet another Nightwish clone or possibly even one of the many Gothic metal acts to emerge from Europe lately. Neither comparison applies to this Italian foursome, however. Instead, the band opts for a modern metal sound on their debut demo 'Til The Last Breath that is similar to Godsmack or Sevendust, though with a slightly darker ambiance about their sound.

Antonella is a capable frontwoman for this band's style, with a seductive voice that she rarely takes to operatic ranges. When she does, particularly on occasion during the leadoff track "Pathos X", she's obviously leaving her comfort zone and struggles with the higher notes. This makes for only a minor complaint since the forays into her upper range are infrequent. Instead, Antonella delivers the lyrics in a powerful, mid-range voice that blends superbly with the heavy mood of the album. There are short bouts of harsh male vocals to compliment Antonella, with a bit of a Gothic croak on "Pathos X" and a few Deathish growls during the choruses of "Suddenly".

Co-founder Andrea "The Ogre" lays down a series of modern, mid-paced riffs throughout the album that are deep, chunky, and dark. Very much in the contemporary style that is a favorite of "rock radio" these days, they lend a familiar feel to the 5 tracks on 'Til The Last Breath. "Suddenly", my favorite track of the demo, marks a change in mood for the darker and sees Andrea increasing the weight and impact of his riffs. Lending extra doominess to the crushing, groove-infused riffs are the heavy bass lines from Simone. Taking a page from the heavy doom of bands like Candlemass and Cathedral, the strangely titled "Playin' With a Swindler" is also a gloomy highlight of the disc.

Scarecrown doesn't offer anything innovative on 'Til The Last Breath, but they show a skill for creating memorable music with big, catchy riffs and well-placed time changes. I feel that their best work comes with the last two songs on the album, rather than the contemporary sound they achieve on the first three. A talented band, whichever direction they choose to pursue.





Track Listing
1Pathos X3:49
2The Valley of Unrest2:41
3Witch's Heart Fable2:55
4Suddenly5:13
5Playin' With a Swindler4:17



Search eBay for 'Til The Last Breath:

Monday, January 2, 2006

Review: Deep Purple - Rapture of the Deep (2005)

Deep Purple [ Website | MySpace ]
Rapture of the Deep
(2005)

Deep Purple  need no introduction, having been an integral force in the formation of the hard rock scene of the '70s and oft cited as an influence of rock and metal bands ever since. For those of you unfamiliar with the work of Deep Purple, wipe the snot from your nose and go listen to your Slipknot CDs 'cause you clearly don't have a true appreciation for heavy music.

Rapture Of The Deep is Deep Purple's 18th studio album to date and features a core lineup of Ian Gillan (vocals), Roger Glover (bass), Ian Paice (drums), and Steve Morse on guitar. Paice has of course been with the band from the start, with Gillan and Glover coming aboard in 1970 and Steve Morse (formerly of Dixie Dregs and Kansas) joining in 1995. New to the ranks for this album is keyboardist Don Airey, who has had himself quite a storied career with the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath, and Rainbow (among others). Jon Lord's retirement opened the door for speculation to circulate regarding the future of Deep Purple's music, what with Lord's Hammond organ so thoroughly a part of the band's recognizable sound. I won't go so far as to say Airey makes Lord's departure a non-event, but Don has certainly filled the void and not only provides the organ we're all accustomed to, but adds a flair all his own and further enlivens the new album.

If you're a Deep Purple fan, you will love Rapture Of The Deep. The band makes no attempt to "update" their sound or venture into uncharted territory through pointless experimentation. Instead, Gillan & Co. rely their organ-heavy, hook-laden formula that has earned them success over the past two decades. Do not make the mistake of assuming the album sounds dated, however. While the 11 tracks of Rapture Of The Deep could have been at home in the late '70s or early '80s, they have a contemporary and mature undercurrent to them which reminds the listener that this is a legendary band making music that is, above all else, ageless. The album starts with the bluesy rocker "Money Talks", having a deep groove and a catchy chorus. Gillan is in top form, his distinctive voice soaring above the music in a carefree manner that seems at the same time both detached from the song and firmly rooted to the music. The first song to really grab my attention is "Girls Like That", with a hot little riff to begin the tune played over a building organ backdrop. The song is fast-paced, as far as Deep Purple songs go, with driving organ/bass breakdowns and an infectious chorus. Steve Morse's guitar is a strong force in making this song a highlight of the album, proving yet again that he's a more than capable replacement of Ritchie Blackmore.

Another highlight for me was the Eastern flavored title track, which features some spacey keyboard licks from Airey and deep, thumping bass lines from Mr. Glover. Steve's lengthy solo is one of the best on the album, as it dips and soars before being chased by a solo from Airey, only to return a verse later for another go. This mid-paced track has a quality to it that makes you want to just lay back and listen, giving yourself to the music and letting it enshroud you with a sonic weave. Definitely a favorite. The next track, the ballad "Clearly Quite Absurd", is just as moving as the title track though at a much slower pace. Steve's wistful licks and leads lend a dreamlike quality to the song, while Don's ethereal keys and piano passages provide a soft backdrop for Gillan's heartfelt delivery. The overall song structure is simple, but the subtleties make it as powerful as it is - the prize in the pudding, as it were. Following the ballad, "Don't Let Go" has a bit of that '70s funk to it along with memorable choruses and a fuzzy solo from Morse. Not having as much of an impact as the previous two songs, this track nevertheless has the appeal to make it on rock radio. Yet another interesting track is "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye", with a bit of a Swing beat from Paice that gives the song some get up and go. Morse lets go with another quality solo, once again followed up by a flourish from Airey. The album closes with the moody "Before Time Began". Morse strums the mellow licks as Gillan breathes the lyrics to a soft beat from Paice. While not as captivating as the other highlights of Rapture Of The Deep, the song nevertheless is one of the better tunes to be heard on the album.

Deep Purple fans, and fans of classic rock in general, will find Rapture Of The Deep to be an enjoyable album. The nostalgia is there, but the band refuses to succumb to the repetitiveness that has doomed many other outfits with similarly long histories.





Track Listing
1 Money Talks 5:32
2 Girls Like That 4:02
3 Wrong Man 4:53
4 Rapture Of The Deep 5:55
5 Clearly Quite Absurd 5:25
6 Don't Let Go 4:33
7 Back To Back 4:04
8 Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye 4:19
9 MTV 4:56
10 Junkyard Blues 5:33
11 Before Time Began 6:30



Purchase Rapture of the Deep at these fine e-Tailers: