Musicality Unlimited

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New tracks worth checking out: October 2017

Yes, I am aware of the fact that we are already halfway through November. University once again sabotaged my plans to post this on time. But it won’t stop me from sharing some of the best tracks released in October now. Better late than never!
It is safe to say that my attempt on making this a monthly series that goes online at the beginning of the month has failed. I am, however, determined to bring you my favorite new tracks at the end of every month from now on, mostly for the sake of diversion. There is such a thing as too many album reviews in my book!
October was quite full of new metalcore and modern metal releases – at least this is my impression. Ergo, you should definitely check out the bands and respective songs below if you are searching for new music from this category.
Without further ado, enjoy the following tracks.

Good Tiger – Blueshift
This is a very interesting track. Good Tiger in general are an interesting band I am willing to devote myself more to. “Bueshift” is a fairly new track off their upcoming second album “We Will All Be Gone” and clearly quite different from anything I have ever heard. Just listen for yourself.

Helloween – Pumpkins United
Helloween was one of the very first bands I started listening to as a teenager when I got into heavy music. I used to listen to Helloween every time I went for a run because their music really pushed me. Since then, a lot has changed: I haven’t been listening to Helloween a very much and I also gave up running. But now, as I am listening to this amazing new track, it feels as if I am beamed back in time. “Pumpkins United” is the perfect song to rise your energy levels, and I need a lot of that right now.

Attila – Three 6
Attila, one of the most successful metalcore bands at the moment, released a brand new song on Halloween 2017. There is no information on a new album yet, though. However, “Three 6” is a track that pleased many Atilla fans, and I do enjoy it a lot, as well. From time to time, everyone needs a little kick of energy, and that’s exactly what Attila are delivering with this track.

Polaris – Lucid
I have become a lot more open-minded when it comes to modern metal music. Polaris is a band I probably wouldn’t have checked out a couple of years ago, but little did I know that I would have missed out on some superb music! Polaris offer some of the angriest and simultaneously some of the most soothing vocals I’ve ever heard. The track “Lucid” combines everything I love in a metal song: Energetic, technical music, dynamic structure and powerful vocals, harsh or clean (in this case, we get both!).

Crystal Lake – Apollo
Another quite unique metalcore band – Crystal Lake are from Japan and I think that people outside the metalcore scene have never heard of this band before. On the same note as the aforementioned track “Lucid” by Polaris, “Apollo” feels like a fresh breeze of air. While being heavier, it still contains sprinklings of melody. Now who says modern metal is just bullshit! They clearly haven’t heard of Polaris or Crystal Lake.

Review: Epica – The Solace System (EP)

Release date: September 1, 2017
Rating: average (3)

Line-up:
Simone Simons – vocals
Mark Jansen – guitar, vocals
Isaac Delahaye – guitar
Rob van der Loo – bass
Coen Janssen – keyboard
Ariën van Weesenbeek – drums

Epica, to me, is the best example of a band that steadily climbed towards success. Nightwish may be the better known band in the genre, but Epica make up for that with hard work – they seem to have been working harder than their Finnish counterpart have for the past five years. Just look at how well they have been developing. They aren’t just another symphonic metal band anymore; Epica have become a symphonic metal powerhouse with all the bells and whistles. Not only do they collaborate with highly acclaimed orchestras and choirs for their very well-frequented shows and studio albums, they also release well-produced videos and have one of the biggest metal labels at their side since ten years.

Epica have even been working so hard that they wrote enough material for their latest full length record “The Holographic Principle” to release an EP called “The Solace System” with the songs that didn’t make it to the album, and this EP is more than overdue to be reviewed. So my first question here is: Why would a band do that? If the material isn’t good enough to make it to a full length album, then it probably isn’t good enough for an EP either. Yes, that is a harsh statement, but these days, I don’t believe that any band can afford releasing mediocre material when everybody knows they can do better. (In this case, though, I do have to add that there are a couple of tracks on “The Holographic Principle” that sound like garbage.) Also, if Mark Jansen and co. are so eager to put out all the material they have been writing, I’d rather have a new Mayan album, as I always liked their quasi Epica-side project more.
Of course, this EP doesn’t sound bad: Take tracks like “Architect Of Light” and “Decoded Poetry” or the heart-warming ballad “Immortal Melancholy” (Epica are great at ballads in general) – beautiful tracks that could have easily made it to “The Holographic Principle” in my opinion. But the rest, and even the aforementioned tracks, sounds so typical of Epica it’s almost ironic. This doesn’t have to be a negative point – if that’s what you want, be my guest. For me, it’s just not enough.
Also, what in the name of God is Simone doing on this EP? Her voice lacks any kind of warmth and emotion. Yes, everyone who knows me also knows that I had a hard time getting used to her vocals until I finally had to admit that she does a pretty good job – sometimes at least. Most of the time, her vocals sound like charivari to me. Additionally, beginning with the last full-length record “The Holographic Principle”, her voice has increasingly been sounding way too autotuned and quite bland most of the time. I much preferred the vocals in Epica ten years ago – just listen to “The Divine Conspiracy” and you will understand what I am talking about. Back then, Simons’ long notes had power and grip to them. Now she is doing … whatever she is doing. I am not attempting to understand what that exactly is, but she is definitely struggling.

The main problem, however, is that Epica are getting predictable: Choirs, epic melodies, heavy riffs and confusing vocals, we know the drill by now. The purpose of this EP probably wasn’t pushing boundaries, I will admit that, so for what this is, it’s solid. I just can’t help but think that Epica have released much better material before. “The Solace System” is average – not more and not less.

Tracks:
01. The Solace System
02. Fight Your Demons
03. Architect Of Light
04. Wheel Of Destiny
05. Immortal Melancholy
06. Decoded Poetry

Gems of last year: annisokay – “Devil May Care”

My first encounter with annisokay goes back a couple of years. When I got to know them, they were just about to release their second album “Enigmatic Smile” and nobody really knew about them except people who listen to this specific genre… and reviewers. At the time, I was working for powerofmetal.dk and was constantly in need for new music. Now, annisokay is Saxony-Anhalt’s most successful rock act, and rightfully so.

I remember liking annisokay more than I intended to. I kept listening, and last year, they released their third record “Devil May Care” and toured extensively to support it. I then went to see annisokay live twice this year, chatted with Christoph and Norbert, the founding members of the band, and discoverd a band I will probably love for a very long time. Unlike many bands I got to know as a reviewer, annisokay is one of the very few acts that still excite me to this day.
I really can’t explain my fascination for this band. They don’t play the most innovative, technically challenging music. Their lyrics aren’t very poetic. But what I can tell for sure is that these guys know what they are doing. They know how great songwriting works, and somehow, they know how to write highly addictive songs. I am constantly finding myself listening to their music on repeat – particularly tracks from their latest record “Devil May Care”. “Loud” and “Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down” are songs that really give me energy for the day ahead, and “Blind Lane” is a track that goes right into the heart, as well as “Smile” and “Hourglass”.
The fact that the vocals in annisokay really are the best aspect about this band is quite unusual for a metalcore band. This is something I noticed right away: Harsh vocalist Dave Grunewald does a more than decent job, but I do have a little soft spot for Christoph Wieczorek’s cristal clear, high vocals. He is a very powerful singer who carries loads of emotion in his vocals. Once again, I can’t actually explain why his performance fascinates me so much – you will probably have to listen for yourself.
Now, everybody who knows me a little better will say that it makes perfect sense that I like this band. Their music has about the right amount of cheesiness and heartache-curing properties for me to fall for it. However, let me tell you that my best friend – who wholeheartedly loves thrash metal, punk and hardcore – enjoys annisokay, too. This proves that they are able to write music that is addictive and enjoyable for people outside the melodic hardcore genre.

I don’t believe in guilty pleasures, and this site is proof for that. If I like something, I will tell everyone about it. And I am not afraid to say that “Devil May Care” – a melodic hardcore/metalcore record with electronic influences – is among my top favorite releases of 2016.


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