Friday, July 29, 2011

Video: Silent Stream of Godless Elegy - Skryj hlavu do dlaní

Czech folk metallers Silent Stream of Godless Elegy have posted a video for "Skryj hlavu do dlaní", which appears on the band's latest release Návaz.

For more info: Website | MySpace | Facebook

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Video: Dark Heavens - Heavy Drinkin

Bay Area rockers Dark Heavens have posted a video for the son "Heavy Drinkin", which is off the band's recently released debut EP.

For more info: Website | MySpace | Facebook

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Review: Stream of Passion - Darker Days (2011)

Stream of Passion [ Website | MySpace | Facebook ]
Darker Days

Stream of Passion : Darker Days
Originally constructed as somewhat of a spin-off of the Arjen Anthony Lucassen-led Ayreon project, Stream of Passion has solidified into a progressively leaning symphonic metal band in its own right. Fronted by the charismatic Marcela Bovio, Stream of Passion fits in firmly beside leaders of the style such as Nightwish and Epica, with grandiose compositions and captivating vocal performances. Darker Days, the band's third album, is flawlessly executed from end to end but lacks significant staying power.

To be fair, genre fans will devour Darker Days as if it were a sparkly vampire or a shirtless werewolf. The album contains everything that style aficionados demand: bombastic arrangements; complex instrumentation; crystalline vocals; lush melodies. Lacking, however, is a certain je ne sais pas that thrusts the album, or any one track for that matter, into a permanent place within memory. There are moments where Darker Days begins to gain a little bit of distinction, such as the meaty riffs and enrapturing vocal harmonies (an absolute highpoint of the album) of "Reborn" as well as the crunchy riffs of "Collide", but for the most part the songs tend to blur into one another and pass by largely unnoticed.

Perhaps one of the more underrated female singers in the world of metal, Mexican-born Bovio does more than her fair share to propel Darker Days forward, often snatching drifting attention spans back with a well-placed high note or a heartfelt lyric delivered in her native language. Most of Stream of Passion's songs are crafted to Bovio's strengths, allowing her voice to carry far and above the symphonic interplay of the guitars and keys. "Spark" is one of two ballads ("Nadie Lo Ve" being the other) where Bovio is free to give her most passionate performances, but her delivery on each and every track is fully convincing and genuine.

Occasionally an aspect of Darker Days will set the album apart from the throngs of other symphonic, and slightly Gothic, albums on the market, such as the frequent "ballroom" vibe created by the waltz-like melodies, but despite these strengths there's nothing that actually elevates it to memorable levels.

Track Listing
4The Scarlet Mask3:43
6Our Cause4:44
7Darker Days4:33
9This Moment3:56
11The Mirror3:36
12Nadie Lo Ve3:05
13The World Is Ours3:50
Total Runtime53:58

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Review: Draconian - A Rose for the Apocalypse (2011)

Draconian [ Website | MySpace | Facebook ]
A Rose for the Apocalypse

Sweden's Draconian is a band whose style is firmly entrenched in the Gothic doom/death sound pioneered by such luminaries as Theatre of Tragedy, The Gathering, and Paradise Lost. Somber riffs, deliberate pacing, and enticingly depressive keyboard accents are the core ingredients with which the band creates their dark and melancholic music. Though some may scoff at yet another outfit championing a style that arguably peaked a decade ago, A Rose for the Apocalypse - Draconian's fifth full-length album - will not only enrapture doom/death aficionados (and there are still some around, myself among them) but will also win over fans of more contemporary doom.

The album is, above all else, a fine example of Gothic doom/death in the traditional sense. Tracks such as "The Drowning Age" and "End of the Rope" are built upon familiar, chugging riff patterns while the requisite melancholy violin and cello can be heard on "The Last Hour of Ancient Sunlight" and "Dead World Assembly". The vocal team of Anders Jacobsson and Lisa Johansson work the "Beauty and the Beast" style to perfection, each delivering a powerful performance enhanced only by the ideal way they compliment one another. Gruff and gritty, Jacobsson nevertheless enunciates the lyrics quite well and occasionally ventures into clean, spoken word passages that add a just touch more darkness to the overall mood. Johansson's talent is right on par with genre notables Liv Kristine and Anneke van Giersbergen, lending an ethereal yet saddened element to the band's sound. Though she delivers at a high level throughout A Rose for the Apocalypse, "Elysian Night" is the track where her performance - nicely effected - leaves the most lasting impression and is definitely an album highlight (and also features a verse from Keats' Ode to a Nightmare).

For fans of a more immediate sound, Draconian offers plenty of modern rock-oriented riffs on tracks such as "Deadlight" and "A Phantom Dissonance". Not as impactful as the more traditional songs on the album, they are nevertheless well-written and executed and serve nicely as a means of broadening the appeal of A Rose for the Apocalypse.

Draconian has served up yet another album that fans of the Gothic doom/death style, be they rabid or merely casual, should strive to add to their collections. From the enrapturing groove of "End of the Rope" to the hopelessness of "Wall of Sighs", A Rose for the Apocalypse is a worthy addition to the genre.

Track Listing
1The Drowning Age7:20
2The Last Hour of Ancient Sunlight5:28
3End of the Rope6:35
4Elysian Night7:53
6Dead World Assembly5:53
7A Phantom Dissonance5:40
8The Quiet Storm6:38
9The Death of Hours7:50
10Wall of Sighs5:15
Total Runtime1:05:06

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Friday, July 1, 2011

Review: Obey - Bad Ass (2011)

Obey MySpace ]
Bad Ass

Obey : Bad Ass
The founding members of Obey, Juha Wuorinen and Kalle Suhonen, are veterans of the Finnish metal scene, having cut their teeth in the Gothic doom outfit The Lust I Seek. With their new project, which also includes Mikko Toivola on bass and Jyri Puntala behind the kit, the Finns seek to combine the harshest elements of their former style with a fairly straightforward rock sound. The band's latest promotional release, Bad Ass, is an energetic three-song sampling of the vision that Wuorinen and Suhonen are working toward.

Just twelve minutes long, Bad Ass nevertheless delivers big on groove. Prominent bass lines accompany some snazzy licks and crashing drum fills to establish a strong core of punk-influenced rock. Hints of modern metal, heard through down-tuned riffs and accentuated by Wuorinen's yells, lend a contemporary quality Obey's traditionally inspired sound. "Dying Little Sunshine", with some tasty Southern rock riffs, galloping bass, and soulful leads is a highlight of this little EP - though in truth each track is heavy on the catchiness.

Although pure rock fans will unquestionably be drawn to Obey's musical style, some of them might be put off by Wuorinen's unconventional vocals. Nary a cleanly sung note is to be heard, with Wuorinen relying entirely on a gravelly howl. Having heard Wuorinen's attempts at cleaner vocalizations with The Lust I Seek, I feel that the style he chooses on Bad Ass is clearly much more suited to his abilities and results in a more convincing, comfortable performance.

If a mash-up of groove-oriented rock and brutal vocals isn't too far outside of your comfort zone, give Bad Ass a listen and keep an eye on what the future might hold for Obey.

Track Listing
1That Shit Suites You3:03
2Die For Nothing4:22
3Dying Little Sunshine4:56
Total Runtime12:21

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