Musicality Unlimited

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Release Friday: Louise Lemón, Kamelot

I heard that some people adjust their musical preferences to the weather, so they would listen to darker music in the winter and happy and optimistic music in the summer. Well, I am not one of those people. Two years ago, I used to blast Swallow The Sun all summer long (which is, if you aren’t familiar with the band, a death doom metal band).
This Friday, as the sun is shining, I will be discussing two very different records that only have one single thing in common: both are dark in their own way. But apart from that, these releases are from quite different genres. There is one very well-known and loved band and one up and coming artist, so there’s pretty much something for everyone here today. Look at me, being efficient AND expanding my horizons on music! My non-metal friends will surely be proud.
In case you missed the last Release Friday, you can find it here.

A couple of months ago, I stumbled upon Amalie Bruun’s hauntingly beautiful and exciting project Myrkur and remained entranced, or rather obsessed, ever since. Then, I heard about this new death-gospel artist called Louise Lemón who is often compared to Chelsea Wolfe – a name I read on the track “Funeral” by Myrkur. Long story short, I listened to Louise Lemón, then to Chelsea Wolfe, then again to Louise Lemón, and concluded that her debut “Purge” was definitely worth a mention here.
The three aforementioned artists have a lot in common: all three are some kind of singer-songwriters and they also play similar music. With Myrkur being the folk black metal queen of the three and Chelsea Wolfe playing a blend of atmospheric gothic rock and neofolk, Louise Lemón sounds like Chelsea Wolfe’s soulful and more optimistic twin sister. She even worked with producer Randall Dunn, who also happens to have produced Myrkur and Chelsea Wolfe albums. Her interpretation of death gospel is very intriguing and dark in such a different way than rock or metal. Louise Lemón created an unbelievably expressive record that is gloomy, ethereal and lyrical at the same time – truly to die for. Favorite tracks: “Thirst”, which is such a perfect blend of gospel and gloomy atmospheric music; the folky and tense track called “Shipwreck”  and the dreamy “Only Meet Me At Night”.

I was all aflutter when I read that the all-mighty Kamelot will play in my adoptive home Mannheim for the first time ever, mind you the metal scene here is pretty much non-existent. I knew that I will be going to their show in October regardless of how much or how little I like the new album “The Shadow Theory“. To be honest, the first two singles off the new album didn’t sound very promising to me. “Phantom Divine (Shadow Empire)” sounded very much like run-of-the-mine Kamelot material, and “RavenLight” lacks a natural flow of any sort. Now, I must say that those tracks do make sense when listening to “The Shadow Theory” from beginning to end. So based on these two songs, I thought that the new record would sound just like any other Kamelot album (even though one can surely identify some recurring themes in music and lyrics), but I was surprised to hear some new elements: the children’s choir and the usage of uilleann pipes (strong Nightwish vibes!) on the track “Burns To Embrace” as well as some more progressive parts as heard in “The Proud And The Broken”. The only thing that didn’t change after listening to the record was my opinion about the choice of guest singers this time around. I will say it, I am downright annoyed by Jennifer Haben of Beyond The Black, and I’m not a huge fan of Once Human, even though their frontwoman Lauren Hart seems to be pretty badass. Then again, you can’t have Elize Ryd on every record, I get that.
Without going too much into detail here, as that usually tends to ruin any record for me, I can conclude that “The Shadow Theory” is worth your time and attention if you are into cinematic melodic power metal. You will definitely find some enjoyable moments here. And go see Kamelot live if you can – I certainly will.

Review: Light The Torch – “Revival”

Release date: March 30, 2018
Rating: average (3)

Line-up:
Howard Jones – vocals
Francesco Artusato – guitar
Ryan Wombacher – bass
Mike Sciulara – drums

Fun fact: At our graduation ceremony, everyone had to assemble a PowerPoint slide with pictures of them with family and friends, which then was displayed on a big screen during the handover of the graduation diploma. We could also pick a song to be played during the handover. Me and a friend were the only ones to pick metal songs, and I chose Light The Torch’s “My Own” (formerly Devil You Know) because the lyrics and the message of the song speak to me so much. I consider this band to be one of my favorite bands, that’s what I’m saying. And as with all favorite bands, a new release means a lot of excitement and high expectations in equal measure.

Great melodies are truly the focal point of “Revival”, while the previous album “They Bleed Red” was considerably heavier. Vocals of course play a big part in that. Howard Jones, the frontman of Light The Torch and my spirit animal, has always been an incredible vocalist, yet his vocals stand out on “Revival” because they don’t sound as if Jones tried to fit them into an already existing pattern – namely harsh vocals in the verses and cleans in the chorus – but seems to have let loose. Jones’ harsh vocals only appear where it’s truly appropriate now and he doesn’t use them just for the sake of heaviness, but rather to convey a certain emotion. Combined with his lyrics, his vocal performance on “Revival” is probably the most genuine I have ever heard. Knowing that, it is no surprise that the strongest tracks on the new record are simultaneously the ones with massive and catchy choruses, like the singles “Die Alone” and “The Safety Of Disbelief”. “The God I Deserve” is surely another crowd-pleaser, as Jones truly put his heart and soul into the vocals. Additionally, Light The Torch once again shine equally with heavy and faster-paced tracks like “Calm Before The Storm” and “The Sound Of Violence” and more alternative songs such as “The Great Divide” and “Judas Convention”. They even sneaked in some keyboards, as heard in “Virus”.
Light The Torch, at least so far, have never undergone enormous shifts in style. They are one of the few bands nowadays that actually keep releasing quality material without changing very much. And while “Revival” definitely contains quality material, the band’s third record exhibits similar mistakes to the last one. For example, there are some tracks around the middle of the record that just don’t stand out: I would have forgotten about tracks like “The Bitter End” or “Lost In The Fire” if I hadn’t specifically looked out for them. The bottom line is that not every song on this album is as stellar as it could have been. For instance, nearly every track on Light The Torch’s debut record “The Beauty Of Destruction” is brilliant. It’s a little bit disappointing that it hasn’t been the case with the last two albums.

In my opinion, making the vocals such a big part of the record was a step into the right direction for Light The Torch. Of course, the music has to be solid instrumentally as well, which is ensured with guitarist and main songwriter Francesco Artusato and new drummer Mike Sciulara, who apparently finished all drum recordings in less than 14 hours with only one to two takes for every song. However, with Howard Jones being so popular in the metal scene, giving him a place to shine will automatically please the fans (and my little inner fan girl as well).
In conclusion, “Revival” is a pretty solid record, and very close to being outstanding.

Tracks:
01. Die Alone
02. The God I Deserve
03. Calm Before The Storm
04. Raise The Dead
05. The Safety Of Disbelief
06. Virus
07. The Great Divide
08. The Bitter End
09. Lost In The Fire
10. The Sound Of Violence
11. Pull My Heart Out
12. Judas Convention

New tracks worth checking out: March 2018

I’ve been really inconsistent with posting new episodes of this series, I know. But to be fair, there wasn’t anything to write about from November to February because I was listening to the exact same five songs on shuffle and picked another five songs once I got bored with the old ones, all that while living in the university library and being snowed under with books on calculus and other (not so) pleasant things. It was a terrible time for music discovery.
Now, while still feeling guilty for not pottering at microeconomics, I have more free time on my hands that I will devote to the newest tracks released in March, as is right and proper. This may not be a rational decision, as studying would probably be more beneficial in the long run, but in the long run, we are all dead. (Sorry, fellow economists! I just had to do it!)
I discovered many new bands this month, so for the most part, I won’t be able to give you much information besides why I love a certain track. See this as an opportunity to discover new music with me. I hope you’ll enjoy the trip!

This month started off very strongly with Shinedown’s new single “DEVIL” off their upcoming album “ATTENTION ATTENTION”. Besides the fact that all these titles written in all caps are literally screaming at me (which is probably the point here, actually), I love what I’ve been hearing up until now. Shinedown are known for their catchy music and smartly written lyrics. Only the latter actually applies to “DEVIL”, but a great song doesn’t have to be catchy. Shinedown’s new single has the right punch and rhythm to it and that’s exactly what makes “DEVIL” quite addictive.

I remember hearing about Alkaloid in 2015 or something when I was covered in new releases over at powerofmetal.dk. I never got around listening to their stuff, but I refuse to miss another great release, so I started checking out their newest tracks. I shouldn’t have done so while sitting in the library, though, as it was quite hard to hide my amazement. In all honesty, I have no idea what “Kernel Panic” is, and I will not attempt to explain what’s going on there. Crossover metal surely is a thing now.

Speaking of crossover: Zeal & Ardor is an act that has increasingly been getting attention since their 2017 debut release “Devil Is Fine”, which combines blues, soul and gospel with heavy metal in the most creative way. I couldn’t be more excited about this great discovery.  Zeal & Ardor are now back with a new single called “Gravedigger’s Chant“. You’ve got to love the raw and unedited sound of this track and the epic gospel influences that break it up. Be ready to be surprised.

If there is one vocalist in metal that speaks to me on a higher level, it’s Howard Jones, ex-Killswitch Engage and now frontman of groove metal/metalcore band Light The Torch (formerly Devil You Know). That man has one of the most powerful voices in metal. And to top it all, virtuoso Francesco Artusato is serving some of his strongest riffs in this band. I was a fan right from the beginning and now, their last single “The Safety Of Disbelief” makes my heart leap for joy. A full review of the new record is soon to follow.

Another awesome frontman is Amorphis’ Tomi Joutsen. To be honest, I have never been listening to Amorphis even though I have always suspected that they sound great. I did check out their most recent single “The Bee“, though, as I have been listening to Hallatar’s “No Stars Upon The Bridge” regularly since its release and was utterly impressed by Joutsen’s vigorous vocal delivery on that record. “The Bee” is definitely a standout track and I am looking forward to discovering more of Amorphis’ music, including the upcoming record.

Shockpowder is an alternative rock/metal band with post-rock and shoegaze influences. Their music reminds me a lot of Alcest, but their style also contains some grungy elements. All in all, they are playing music that is right up my alley and I loved their new single “Lucid” right away. The song is mellow and dreamy in the beginning until layers of distorted guitars gradually take over. I’m very eager to listen to new stuff from these guys, and you should check out their music instantly!

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