Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Video: Alice Cooper - I'll Bite Your Face Off

Detroit-born shock rock legend Alice Cooper has released a video for "I'll Bite Your Face Off", a song set to appear on his highly anticipated Welcome 2 My Nightmare album. Set to hit the streets on September 13th, the album is a sequel to The Coop's multi-platinum 1975 release Welcome to My Nightmare.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Review: Falloch - Where Distant Spirits Remain (2011)

Falloch [ Website | Facebook | MySpace ]
Where Distant Spirits Remain

Falloch - Where Distant Spirits Remain
Haunting beauty. Uplifting melancholy. Organic etherealness. Such contradictory descriptions seem nonsensical, unless you've just listened to Falloch's debut album Where Distant Spirits Remain. The Scottish duo of Andy Marshall and Scott McLean have captured the essence of bands like Agalloch, Anathema, Primordial, and Sentenced and have emitted a seven-track experience of disarming flutes, unassuming vocals, misty post-metal riffs, and unavoidable emotional investment.

Giving an account of Where Distant Spirits Remain is much like describing a lush valley enveloped by a morning fog, or a crystal-clear mountain stream as it meanders by before plummeting in a cascade of mist and sound. To create such a lush atmosphere, Marshall and McLean rely heavily on post-rock aesthetics to enhance their largely muted riffs. Copious amounts of cymbal crash fuse together with the plucky guitars and mournful synth to build a diaphanous veil through which the vocals emerge, almost hesitantly, only to be chased away by bursts of sonic aggression. Indeed, Where Distant Spirits Remain is not all mood and melody, though the greater proportion of it certainly is. The tremolo riffs and blast beats that drive the latter moments of "We Are Gathering Dust", the Anathema-like atmospheric riffs and harsh vocals of "Beyond Embers and the Earth", and the blackened shrieks that haunt "Where We Believe" are typical of how Falloch's metal influences creep to the surface, disturbing the placid waters not unlike a deliberately cast stone.

I've listened to this album repeatedly, often back-to-back, for several days now and have yet to tire of the journey it takes me on. The acoustic Spanish guitar and mystical female vocals heard on "Where We Believe", the saddened Celtic flute on "Beyond Embers and the Earth", and the mesmerizing Native American flute on the instrumental "Horizons" are examples of how Marshall and McLean effortlessly combine a plethora of unique elements together to produce a listening experience that is truly engaging. To attempt to dissect Where Distant Spirits Remain in order to highlight a track or two would be futile, for the album is absolutely greater than the sum of its parts. Cliché perhaps, but no less true.

Fans who enjoy the more moody, atmospheric side of metal presented by bands like Agalloch, Fen, and the like will unquestionably enjoy Where Distant Spirits Remain. This album is a no-brainer purchase and, I'm ready to declare right now, one of my Top Ten for 2011.

Track Listing
1We Are Gathering Dust9:13
2Ebyond Embers and the Earth8:38
4Where We Believe10:47
5The Carrying Light6:33
6To Walk Amongst the Dead10:57
Total Runtime54:12

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Review: Cassandra Syndrome - Satire X (2011)

Cassandra Syndrome [ Website | MySpace | Facebook ]
Satire X

Cassandra Syndrome - Satire X
Ready for a little lesson in Greek mythology? Cassandra, as we all should know, was a daughter of King Priam of Troy whose beauty caught the attention of Apollo. Being the amorous dude that he was, Apollo bestowed upon Cassandra the gift of prophecy. Tragically for Cassandra, however, she refused to "entertain" good ol' Apollo so he placed upon her a curse such that no one would ever believe her predictions. Doomed to foresee a future that she could not alter or influence was our girl Cassandra. Adopting as their moniker the term that has come to be applied to this tragic figure's state of powerlessness, Maryland's Cassandra Syndrome offer up Satire X, a sophomore album of Americanized symphonic metal that has a stark social commentary for a lyrical base.

Continuing in the same vein as the band's debut album Of Patriots and Tyrants, Satire X consists of two distinct and powerful forces. Frontwoman Irene Jericho's soprano is gripping as she swoops and soars throughout her considerable range, effortlessly nailing high notes (don't miss the crazy-long note at the end of "Poison Rain") and altering the cadence of her delivery to fit the mood of the material. Without a doubt, Irene is one of metal's most consistently potent - if underexposed - singers.

Cassandra Syndrome
The second core element to Cassandra Syndrome's sound is an unpolished, gritty guitar tone. Except for a creepy, horror-movie-influenced piano lullaby melody on "Shackles", Satire X is devoid of the keyboard-heavy compositions oft favored by European symphonic metal bands (ala Nightwish and Epica). Instead, atmosphere is created through the deliberate riffing of Chris Kackley and Jen Tonon, the latter a newcomer since the band's debut. Precise but rarely flashy, Kackley and Tonon work well together as they craft riffs that are alternatively ominous ("No More Peace Forever") and groovy ("Poison Rain"). Kackley occasionally ventures beyond his normally restrained style to add a bit of flair now and then, such as the distorted solo that gives an old-school doom flavor to "The Magus" and the wild noodling on "The Priestess". The two six-stringers really come together on "Posion Rain", the album's standout track, delivering a healthy dose of groove and riffs brimming with infectious energy.

The major criticism I had of Cassandra Syndrome's first album was the lack of cohesion between Irene's vocals and the band's overall musical style, and sadly I have to say that the same holds true on Satire X. I get what the band is trying to do, but Irene's voice is simply too explosive to be confined to the raw style of metal the band is dishing out. The bombast of bands like Nightwish works so well with operatic singers of Tarja Turunen's caliber because it's a perfect marriage of styles, a fact that Cassandra Syndrome may have to acknowledge. I like the band's message, their musical style, and Irene's vocal presence, but the disparity between the latter two keep Satire X from firing on all cylinders. Even so, fans of operatic metal singers should turn their attention to Cassandra Syndrome and give Satire X a try.

Track Listing
1No More Peace Forever4:41
2Hell On Earth4:07
3The Fool4:19
4The Magus3:37
6Posion Rain5:34
7The Priestess4:14
8What You Wanted5:48
9The Iron Cross4:25
Total Runtime46:42

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