Musicality Unlimited

Your destination for all things music

Category: Metal Detector (Page 1 of 2)

6 albums you might have missed in 2017

Who doesn’t know the struggle? As soon as one year is over, we start stumbling upon all the great records we have missed in the previous year. Or, we had every intention to check out a certain album, but fail to do so. I am definitely guilty as charged, but as always, I did my homework and will present to you the records I missed to check out in 2017, so this is basically a special edition of the series “Gems of last year”. Be sure to check out everything that sounds appealing to you, as there are some true gems to be found here.

Neck Of The Woods – “The Passenger”
Neck Of The Woods are known to play an intriguing mix of progressive metal, thrash metal, death metal and metalcore. Despite this mix fitting well into the metal music of the present, their debut “The Passenger” nearly sounds “old school” in the sense that it reminds me of Between The Buried And Me, Opeth and Darkest Hour. You just have to love how smart their songs are and how well these guys play. Additionally, Neck Of The Woods’ music will please extreme metal fans and prog lovers alike. Just do yourself a favor and check out “The Passenger”!

Horror Dance Squad – “Leap”
Horror Dance Squad are playing a strange kind of music, but strange in all the good ways. Despite, or rather, thanks to their unique mix of dance and metalcore in the style of Bring Me The Horizon, they have managed to create an equally interesting and addictive record called “Leap”. It’s that type of music that will get you out of bed and going ten out of ten times. I get that you wouldn’t want to listen to this kind of stuff the whole day every day, but a couple of tracks of “Leap” have definitely made it to my “Conquer The World” playlist on Spotify. Make sure to check out Horror Dance Squad in case you’re in need for the right kick out of bed in the morning. Because, you know, motivation is just a myth.

Polaris – “The Mortal Coil”
I can’t say anything negative about this Polaris nor their latest record. “The Mortal Coil” is consistent from beginning to end and it sounds like a heavier Wovenwar with tech metal influences. The vocals in this band are truly among the best in the genre (seriously, don’t miss out on those delightful clean vocals!). Polaris have released one hell of a massive album with “The Mortal Coil” and I’m almost ashamed that I didn’t check it out earlier. It’s addictive, it’s heavy and it’s beautiful: basically the perfect mix of brutal and cheesy. The video below depicts just that, actually. Aggressive music and falling rose petals? Sign me up. Metalcore release of the year!

Ordo Ignis Dei – “Bibliomystikon”
Ordo Ignis Dei is once again one of those bands you can’t put a label on. The band name and the title of their first record “Bibliomystikon” suggest that this is pure black metal, so the surprise is even bigger when you start listening and you get to hear jazz, prog and dark ambient music with black metal influences as well as clean vocals. I have never heard such an intriguing mix, but it turns out to be very well-made. You might not like jazz, just like myself, but “Bibliomystikon” is still very much worth giving a listen, as this is one of the most original releases of 2017. I’m very curious to hear what Ordo Ignis Dei come up with in the future.

 

Cyhra – “Letters To Myself”
Jake E left Amaranthe last year, but continues to delight us with his beautiful voice and lyrics as a member of the brand new band Cyhra. It always seemed as if he got the short end of the stick in Amaranthe, so I’m very glad to hear him presenting his abilities as a vocalist in Cyhra. The modern hard rock/metal band is consisting of other renowned metal musicians from bands like In Flames, Shining, and Rhapsody. I wouldn’t say that their debut record “Letters To Myself” is a game changer, but there are definitely some memorable moments to be found here, and I’m always down to listening to Jake E’s voice. This album is definitely a great listen for all Amaranthe or Dreamland fans out there.

Caligula’s Horse – “In Contact”
Once again, I am attracted to a band because of the singer. I’m getting really predictable. This whole post could have also been called “Great vocals you might have missed in 2017″…
Alright, back to business. Caligula’s Horse was probably one of my favorite bands two years ago. Nowadays, I still enjoy their music, I just don’t understand my obsession with them anymore, nor my obsession with prog rock in general. That’s the main reason why I didn’t check out their latest release until recently. However, “In Contact” is, like the album art, a very colorful record that definitely deserves a mention here. Not much has changed compared to the predecessor “Bloom”: Caligula’s Horse have found their formula for success and only make slight alterations or add new elements here and there. “In Contact” is just one step further for a band that definitely knows what they’re doing.


P.S.: I skipped the annual favorites post this time around. The main issue is that I don’t have a lot of releases to talk about. In case you’re curious, though, I do have some favorites posts from summer 2017:

2017’s most impressive releases so far – Part 1
2017’s most impressive releases so far – Part 2

Honorable mentions (reviews):
The Contortionist – “Clairvoyant”
Dreamgrave – “Monuments” (EP)

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

Review: Arch Enemy – “Will To Power”

Release date: September 8, 2017
Rating: average (3)

Line-up:

Alissa White-Gluz – vocals
Michael Amott – guitars
Jeff Loomis – guitars
Sharlee D’Angelo – bass
Daniel Erlandsson – drums

How do you introduce a band like Arch Enemy? It’s actually really easy: You don’t have to. They are on nearly every rock and metal magazine cover right now. If you haven’t heard of this band to this day, please allow me one question: Have you been living under a rock for the last three years?

Arch Enemy are truly known and loved for what they do. Their new album Will To Power has been really successful so far, but the release of this record hasn’t turned the world upside down. Alright, sarcasm aside: I won’t complain about a more than solid new record by Arch Enemy just because they haven’t drastically changed since their last record. No one is expecting any kind of major shift in style from this band. At this point, I am happy if their songs stay consistently high-quality.
So as I mentioned, the essence of Arch Enemy stays the same and probably will for the years to come – however, adding different elements into their music allows them to move with the times and to offer their loyal fans new and exciting music without changing their style completely. And that’s exactly what they intended with Will To Power. I will, though, complain about the fact that this album could have turned out better than it actually did.
The intro “Set Flame To The Night” sounds pretty mediocre to me. The next song, “The Race”, a quite fast and straight-forward song, seems to be doing the job as the first “real” track on the record, not more and not less. “Blood In The Water” just isn’t memorable. It is quite likely that you will forget this song very quickly, as it is way too packed with quite unimpressive riffs and unnecessary guitar tootling.
From this point on, the record starts to become enjoyable. “The World Is Yours” is the first track on this record that finally stands out. It isn’t nearly as catchy as “War Eternal” was, but it is really solid, quite dynamic for an Arch Enemy track and the bass sounds really cool. Next up is “The Eagle Flies Alone”, aka “You Will Know My Name 2.0”. I mean, the song is really good. I assume that at least one medium paced, epic track is part of every Arch Enemy record now. But the interesting thing about Will To Power is that they decided to put another slower, “ballad”-like song right after an already relatively slow track like “The Eagle Flies Alone” – it’s called “Reason To Believe”, and this really is the kind of song that gives you strength and hope. I really enjoy it. It is definitely something completely different for Arch Enemy, but oh, is it splendid! Thank God Alissa got to use her full vocal spectrum on this album, particularly on this track and also on some other songs to come. It seems that she has a lot more saying in the songwriting process now, as some melodies and singing styles are very reminiscent of older The Agonist material, which makes absolute sense. I have been a fan of The Agonist with White-Gluz, so I really don’t mind hearing some parallels to her old band. On the same note, Arch Enemy’s frontwoman is starting to form a personality of her own and, luckily, is not trying to copy her predecessor Angela Gossow. People can say whatever they want about Alissa White-Gluz, but thanks to her talent and hard work, she has risen to the very top of the metal scene, and rightfully so.
The album continues with “Murder Scene”, a quite classically structured heavy metal song that also sounds quite personal if you listen to the lyrics. “First Day In Hell” and “Dreams Of Retribution” are surprisingly dark, but well-done. In general, the following tracks stand out in comparison with other Arch Enemy tracks in the sense that they are less epic and more straight-forward and higher-paced, which is nice to hear for a change. “My Shadow And I” highlights my last point, as well as the cover “City Baby Attacked By Rats” originally performed by GBH. “A Fight I Must Win”, technically the last track off Will To Power, on the contrary, sounds like a classic Arch Enemy song again. The lyrics sound kind of unspectacular, but that’s nothing new about Arch Enemy either. I also see what they did with the violins at the end, which I find really unnecessary. Write an epic guitar riff, Amott. God damn it, it’s your final track!

Despite this record being solid, I can’t change the fact that to me, it is “only” solid. I can’t rate it as “outstanding” as it isn’t to me. What is presented on Will To Power is the least you would expect from Arch Enemy. I think it’s great that they are experimenting a little bit with different sounds, but I’m missing true hits on this record other than “Reason To Believe” and “The World Is Yours”. Fans will like it. But Will To Power will most definitely not blow anyone away who knows what Arch Enemy are capable of.

Tracks:
01. Set Flame To The Night
02. The Race
03. Blood In The Water
04. The World Is Yours
05. The Eagle Flies Alone
06. Reason To Believe
07. Murder Scene
08. First Day In Hell
09. Saturnine
10. Dreams Of Retribution
11. My Shadow And I
12. A Fight I Must Win
13. City Baby Attacked By Rats

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén