Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Omega Experiment - S/T (2012)

Whenever I miss a album from last year that is "Best of the year list" quality I get freaking pissed. I start smashing walls and starts swearing here and there. Ok I may have over exaggerated my reaction there but I do that in my mind whenever this happens to me. That is exactly what happened inside my head when I first heard the self-titled debut from The Omega Experiment. They impressed me with their highly experimental progressive sound that reminds me of Devin Townsend, a resemblance that have been somewhat of a curse to the band. Most of the metal community has ignored this band only for the similarities with the Canadian mad man. I only see that resemblance as an upside since there are very few acts in the world that even comes close to making this style of music. I can, however, agree on that the vocals can be distracting since they are also very similar to Devin's style.

Anyhow, the music in "The Omega Experiment" is heavy but still uplifting and epic. And the musicality is sometimes not perfect but still really impressive for a band that is relatively new. It is especially the keyboards that is impressing the most when they drift of into infinity and beyond.

The spectacle begins with the happy tune "Gift" that could easily be a theme song for the track Rainbow Road in Mario Kart. It is uplifting but it also have that special outer space touch. But this track is probably not for those of you who wants heavier stuff. No you should instead check out the following giant "Stimilus", a track that is a progressive metal fans wet dream. Epic intro? Check! Tempo shifting? Check! Crazy ass parts where the band goes ape shit? Surprisingly, hell yeah check!!! "Stimulus" is a ten minute ride that makes sure that no one gets out bored or unsatisfied.

The outer space feeling continues through the easily accessible "Motion" and the calm and soothing "Tranquility" until we get blasted with the clearly hardest song on the album, which is "Furor". Here we get crazy blast beats and scary keyboard notes thrown at us in high speeds while the singer Dan Wieten puts on his most aggressive voice. It is an aggressive assault and I should be terrified but just cannot stop smiling every time this song goes through my speakers. Cause in all that anger we have a small light of hope which just increases the awesomeness this song is sending out. I am not sure if the mastermind Devin Townsend himself could have done "Furor" better, this is probably as perfect as a song can be.

The remaining songs on this album are pretty pale compared to "Furor" but they still have their moments. I Like the heavy "Karma" for its attitude and its speed and also "Terminus" has its moments with a sound that is very similar to the sound you find in the Devin Townsend Project album "Epicloud". The last song "Paramount" is not my favourite from the album but it is a uplifting and fitting ending on one of the best debut albums in the 21st century.

As I said in the beginning of this review, this album would have easily made it into my best of 2012 list if I discovered it at that time. It may not have made it into the top five but it definitely would have deserved a top ten spot. But I am still happy that I have experienced this fantastic progressive album. This band has a really bright future ahead of themselves.

Songs Worthy of Recognition: Furor, Stimulus, Karma, Motion

Rating: 9/10 Gifts

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Stratovarius - Nemesis (2013)

Ever since the guitarist and the main song writer Timo Tolkki left the band in 2008 has Stratovarius gotten some what of a revival. "Polaris" showed a new side of the band that was new and exciting and even thoug the follow up album, "Elysium", was some what of a dissapointment I still had a good feeling about "Nemesis". I knew that if the band could fit the pieces that they have gathered the last five years together they would create an album that probably could be one of the bands best albums.

I was a little surprised to find that "Nemesis" is different from its two predecessors. Instead of stable progressive power metal with a lot of epicness we get a more traditional Stratovarius album with more straight forward, symphonic power metal. The epicness is not completely gone but it does not take as much space as it did on "Polaris" and "Elysium".

The first half of the album is more or less just speed. It is classic power metal a la Stratovarius at its best. The only times the speed is in the background on the first six songs are the heavy "Stand My Ground" and the semi-heavy-epic "Out of The Fog". But if we once again focus on the songs that has speed in their veins I would like to put forward the single "Unbreakable". "Unbreakable" has several small pieces that makes this song a fantastic experience from the epic quire in the build up to the "falling rain" (come up with a better name to describe that sound yourself) in the background on the chorus that gives this song a more apocalyptic feel, a feeling that follows through in most of the songs on "Nemesis". One of these songs are "Halcyon Days" with its magnificent chorus and futuristic sound effects.

The second half of the album is more like the Stratovarius we have learned to know in the past five years. A little more progressive approach. One perfect example is the mellow "Castles In The Air" that is a great craftsmanship of a song and is groovy enough to make your head rock back and forth. Definitely the kind of song you want Stratovarius to make in this genre. Another good progressive tune from "Nemesis" is "One Must Fall" that has a great amount of heaviness to cooperate with the progressive part so the song does not sound either sloppy or overworked. Also, great work on the vocal harmonies on the chorus so the song gains an extra level of strength. The only real ballad in "Nemesis" is "If The Story Is Over", a ballad that gives the album some good variation but it is not one of the bands better ballads. It is decent but not overwhelmingly great.

You could say that "Nemesis" is tying up the bonds between the old and the new Stratovarius. On one side we have classic symphonic power metal and on the other we have more delicate and progressive tunes. No matter what I love it. Stratovarius is bringing out the best out of their pre- and post Timo Tolkki periods and makes probably one of the best European power metal album in the last ten years. There are a few songs that fall between the cracks but overall this is a album that proves that Stratovarius still got some punch in themselves.

Songs worthy of recognition: Unbreakable, Stand My Ground, Halcyon Days, One Must Fall

Rating: 8,5/10 Fantasies

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Best of Dream Theater

So now that I am done with reviewing the whole Dream Theater discography I thought that it would be fun to look back and see what is the highlights of these album. Here is the best of Dream Theater.

Best albums

3. Black Clouds & Silver Linings

This album has only six songs but these songs creates an album out of epic proportions. The mix between heaviness and epicness is fantastic and with the fact that none of the six songs is boring or bad is making "Black Clouds & Silver Linings" an magnificent album.

2. Awake

Out of all the albums Dream Theater has released there is no album that has the same fine class as "Awake". A delicate album with great diversity and outstanding musicality. From the symphonic "Caught In A Web" to the hard and edgy "Lie" is showing that "Awake" is a world class album.

1. Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory

Not only is this the best album in this discography, this is one of the best concept albums ever made. "Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory" has a wide variety of songs and it is also telling an exciting and intriguing story. A mgnificent album that is the definite highlight of Dream Theater's carrier.

Worst album

Falling Into Infinity

Technically is "Falling Into Infinity" the least good album since Dream Theater has not done any album that I dislike. But the reason this album is at the bottom is the record companies fault. They wanted the band to write more commercially attractive material so they could earn as much money as possible. This is the result of the oppression, an uninspiring album that still has some exciting intentions.

Best songs

5. Bridges In The Sky - A Dramatic Turn of Events

The only song in "A Dramatic Turn of Events" that was not a safe gamble. So much beauty going into this song so you can almost drown in it.

4. Home - Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory

Probably the most epic song the band has ever created and the chorus is like a gift from god. Would have been higher up this list if it was not for a long boring middle part.

3. Constant Motion - Systematic Chaos

For a heavy metal freak like me, "Constant Motion" is a blessing. This is without a doubt the fastest song the band has ever created and together with the thrilling guitar/keyboard solo we got ourselves a great song.

2. Pull Me Under - Images And Words

The bands only real "hit" is clearly a masterpiece. The great interaction between the instruments and the epic chorus is just candy for your ears. Would have wanted a longer solo but I could care less, "Pull Me Under" is perfect in its own way.

1. A Nightmare To Remember - Black Clouds & Silver Linings

If you ever would make a roller coaster ride from a particular song then this would be a great candidate. "A Nightmare To Remember" is shifting its tempo fast and it does it multiple times. Together with a great story about a car accident and some heavy riffing we got a song that is almost perfect despite its length of 16 minutes.

Best album cover

Awake



Beauty at its best and look at all the details. The city in the background, the clock in the moon, the spider and its web and of course, the band crest. Also, the guy who came up with making the mirror coloured and the rest black and white is a genius.

Total discography verdict

Quality: 8/10
There is no doubt that Dream Theater's low point is very high but they have yet to come out with a perfect album. Very close to a 9.

Band chemistry: 9/10
5 line-up changes in 28 years is impressive and the new members is getting at least two albums before they leave. But only two original band members left is dropping the rating one point.

Creativity: 9/10
No one can complain against Dream theater that they are boring. They can write all sorts of songs in several different styles from heavy to epic.

Musicality: 10/10
Dream Theater has some of the best musicians in the industry and they are not afraid to show it off with their complex rhythms and perfect timing.

Lyrics: 8/10
Sometimes the lyrics can be a little to direct but Dream Theater certainly knows how to tell a story through music.

Album rating summary
When Dream And Day Unite: 8,5/10
Images And Words: 9/10
Awake: 9/10
Falling Into Infinity: 6,5/10
Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory: 9,5/10
Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence: 7/10
Train of Thought: 8,5/10
Octavarium: 7/10
Systematic Chaos: 6,5/10
Black Clouds & Silver Linings: 9/10
A Dramatic Turn of Events: 7/10
S/T: 7,5/10
The Astonishing: 8/10

Average rating: 7,923076923076923/10

Give me your thoughts. Which album/song by Dream Theater is your personal favourite and is the band worthy of its status as one of the best bands in progressive metal? And do not forget to vote for which bands discography I should do next (the poll is on the right side below the description).

Monday, February 18, 2013

Dream Theater - A Dramatic Turn of Events (2011)

To say that a lot happened to Dream Theater after the release of "Black Clouds & Silver Linings" is an understatment. The drummer Mike Portnoy thought that the band should take a much needed break, an idea that the rest of the band did not agree on. So without going further into details, Mike left the band who instantly started the search for a drummer who would be able to take over the giant kit that Mike left behind. The spot eventually went, not surprisingly, to another Mike. Mike Mangini has previously worked with Annihilator, Steve Vai and the solo project of James LaBrie so he had good connection with the band from the start. But the big question was still standing, would he be able to handle the pressure and be a solid part in the Dream Theater sound?

During Dream Theater's carrier we have seen many sides of the band. From heavy to epic, commercially attractive to progressive. But on "A Dramatic Turn of Events" is the band taking the safe route by making a mix of ballads, heavy songs and epic mastodons. Maybe the reason for this safe approach is because the band wanted to make it as easy as possible for Mike Mangini to slide in to the band before he starts contributing to the song writing process. Well I do not care are as long as the album sounds good in my ears, which it does.

The single "On The Back of Angels" opens up this album like a technical version of "Pull Me Under". A great song where Mangini directly is showing what he is made of with several difficult fills and edgy beats (listen especially closely around 3:30. The speed Mike is showing is ridiculous). A perfect choice for a single. The commercialism continues on "Build Me Up, Break Me Down". Even though I enjoyed this song I feel that the chorus is a little too mainstream and the musicality is not at top. Such a shame since this song had good potential.

We have a total of four songs that have a length of 10 minutes or longer on this album. Out of the four there is two songs that really stands out and raises the quality of this album to a much higher level. "Lost Not Forgotten" is a good mix between the heavy and the melodic Dream Theater. A thrilling ride where the band is showing of most of their register. But the real top of this album is "Bridges In The Sky" that is very similar to "Lost Not Forgotten" but the chorus here is one of the most beautiful choruses the band has ever made and the technicality is just pure awesomeness. Just the music you would want to hear if you was riding actual bridges up on the sky. The other two mastodons are not the worst I have heard from the band, they are actually great as well but compared to "Bridges In The Sky" and "Lost not Forgotten", "Outcry" and "Break All Illusions" is easily left in the shadows. But they are still worth checking out if you are a Dream theater fan.

We also have three ballads in "A Dramatic Turn of Events" but sadly, they do not cut it for me this time. Out of the three I would say that "This Is The Life" is bringing out the most emotions and has the best musical structure while "Beneath The Surface" is close behind and "Far From Heaven" is just plain boring.

So to answer the question I asked in the begginging, yes, Mike Mangini is a great replacement for Mike Portnoy. His technical skills and perfect timing are just what Dream Theater wants so they can keep doing what the have done for over twenty years. As far as "A Dramatic Turn of Events" goes, it is an unstable album where the long songs rule and the ballads fail. It is far from their worst album but this album is a clear evidence that the band took the safe way to ease it up for their new drummer as much as possible. But for the next album, I expect that Mangini gets in to the writing process and that the band at least tries to write more exciting material. So welcome to the band Mike Mangini. May you have several fun years with one of the best bands in the progressive metal scene.

Songs worthy of recognition: Bridges In The Sky, Lost Not Forgotten, On The Backs of Angels

Rating: 7/10 Outcries

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Hero For The World - S/T (2013)

Now here is something you do not see or hear every day. A symphonic power metal band that consist of two members that both comes from Sweden but now lives in the Philippines. Talk about some unique stuff here. Anyhow, A Hero For The World consist of Jacob Kaasgaard (vocals and keyboard) and David Sivelind (guitar and bass). And with a little help from drummer Andy Gentile and guest appearances from female vocalist Louiebeth Aratan, Jacob and David has created the self titled debut for their band. As stated before, this band plays symphonic power metal so prepare yourselves for a assault of speed, powerful singing and some sweet guitar licks.

The first thing that catches my attention is the wide variety the band is showing in this album. There is a mix of speed, calm and great instrumentation in this album that is very appealing. Much of the material (especially the faster songs) reminds me a lot of Edguy but this still feels fresh and new. Only instant complaint I have on the bands performance is that Jacob sometimes can not fully control the really high notes  with his vocals but it is a small flaw since he is doing a great job through out the album.

When it comes to the individual songs, I am as impressed as I was with the instrumentation and the professional production. Jacob knows how to make a song different and give it a own special touch to it but also keeping most of the choruses memorable. But the inexperience is showing here and there, especially in "Alive" where the chorus is just too annoying for me. The overall experience however is better than I expected. Some songs that really made an impression on me was the fast and determined "We Are Forever", the exciting and innovative "Heaven's Eyes" and also  the epic "Free Forever" that also have a little of a celtic touch in it. Even "End of Time" has it great moments even though I do not approve of the long, boring intro but that makes up by a powerful chorus.

In the end of the album, the band is trying to expand its wings a little extra when the three last songs together makes the title track. "Over Land And Sea" opens the title track but it only works as a little warm up before "A Quest For The Brave" really kicks of this ending with a story of epic proportions. But I am missing the needed musicality that would make the song even more epic and really rise it up to the skies. Luckily, that musicality is found in the third part, "One Hope of Light", and thank god for that since that part is ten minutes long. A good way too end the title track and the album.

I have listened to a lot of debuts in my days but I think the debut by A Hero For the World is one of the more impressive ones so far. Jacob and David has proven themselves as two great musiscians and together they create a force that is sure to be recond with. There are some flaws here and there but those mistake will easily be gone when the band gets a little flesh on their bones. This album will not be available for the world until the 29th of March but when it is released I highly suggest that you buy this album if you are a fan of symphonic power metal. This band has a bright future.

Songs worthy of recognition: Heaven's Eyes, We Are Forever, One Hope of Light

Rating: 9/10

Website: www.aherofortheworld.com
YouTube: www.youtube.com/aherofortheworld
Reverbnation: www.reverbnation.com/aherofortheworld
Facebook: www.facebook.com/aherofortheworld
Twitter: www.twitter.com/ahftw

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dream Theater - Black Clouds & Silver Linings (2009)

For a normal band, six songs is not nearly an album, it is closer to an EP. But for a band like Dream Theater, six songs can easily lead to a full-length album that is well over one hour. This was a clear sign that "Black Clouds & Silver Linings" would be one of the bands most progressive albums to date with a total of four songs that reach beyond the ten minute mark. So yeah, this is easily not an album for those faint hearted nor an album for those who have no patient. This is an ultimate Dream Theater album for the ultimate Dream Theater fan.

Let us start talking about the two song that is under ten minutes long. The songs are "A Rite of Passage" and "Wither" and both of them made it as singles. "A Rite of Passage" is probably the closest thing the band has ever come to repeating their only super hit "Pull Me Under". The structure is similar and the choruses are both singalong friendly. But when it comes to epicness I feel that "A Rite of Passage" is falling behind "Pull Me Under". Still a great song though. The other single, "Wither", is a beautiful ballad that in the same time has a level of epic no previous Dream Theater ballad has ever reached. The power in the chorus makes the song really grand but at the same time also fragile in a very good way. One of the bands best ballads in their carrier.

So the "short" songs hold a high standard but what about the longer songs? Fortunately, they do not drag down the album into the dirt. The opener "A Nightmare To Remember" is a song about a car crash John Petrucci was involved in as a child. A great song that throws you between hope and despair, darkness and light, horrible memories and a man without a face. So yeah, "A Nightmare To Remember" is just like a thrilling rollercoaster where the excitement never seem to end. Never seen the likes of a more versatile song. Then we also have "The Shattered Fortress" which is the last song in Mike Portnoy's twelve-step suite about the AA and that song includes both familiar themes and musical parts from previous songs in the suite. For instance, the part around 8:30 comes from "The Root of All Evil". It is a sprawling song but it is a worthy finally of the suite. "The Best of Times" is also written by Portnoy, about his father who died from cancer. Now I do not want to be disrespectful to neither Mike, his father or this song but "The Best of Times" is the weakest song in "Black Clouds & Silver Linings" because it is hard to remember anything from it. It is bland all through. But I am still sure that Mike's father would be proud if he heard this piece before he died.

The last song is "The Count of Tuscany", the longest song in the album with a length of 19:19 and is about an encounter that John Petrucci had in, you guessed it, Tuscany, Italy. Is it just me but is that not a weird topic to sing about? No matter what, this song ends "Black Clouds & Silver Linings" in the same way "A Nightmare To Remember" started the album, in an exciting epic that is some of the bands finest moments ever. I know, the lyrics is a little to direct but that has very little matter when the music is so well composed and perfectly executed. Just magnificent.

In the end, "Black Clouds & Silver Linings" is the hardest album since "Train of Thought" and with the extra approach towards the progressive part we have ourselves the best album since "Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory". But with the few amount of songs I surprisingly get an urge for wanting more from the band even though the play time is well over one hour. Well screw it, this is a fantastic album that should make the mouths of every progressive metal fan very wet.

Songs worthy of recognition: A Nightmare To Remember, The Count of Tuscany, Wither

Rating: 9/10 Shattered Fortresses

Monday, February 11, 2013

Bullet For My Valentine - Temper Temper (2013)

I have followed Bullet For My Valentine since the start but I have never as low expectations as I had before the bands fourth full-length album "Temper Temper". After two great releases in "The Poison" and "Scream Aim Fire" came a complete ship wreck called "Fever" that made me loose almost all self respect for the band. Three years has gone since "Fever" and I have laid that chapter behind me now but the big question is if the band has done the same? Have they gone back to their heavy, catchy and easily liked music instead of creating more shameful shit songs?

"Temper Temper" is the bands fourth album and the title comes from the inner struggles the band has had in the time between this release and "Fever". But these struggles seems to have a good effect on the band since this album is a big step forward from "Fever". In "Temper Temper", Bullet For My Valentine is going back to their roots and then inserts a more aggressive approach in several of the tracks. Hell, we even hear a couple of screams from Matthew Tuck which is a segment I warmly welcome back. And it is on the more aggressive songs where the band is really shining. Songs like "Breaking Point", "Not Invincible" and "Saints & Sinners" takes me back down memory lane to a time where Bullet For My Valentine rocked and was nothing like any other band at the time.

Another track that is very noticeable is of course "Tears Don't Fall (Part 2)". Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you, the band has made a follow up to their most successful song in their carrier. Just like Metallica's "The unforgiven" series, "Tears Don't Fall (Part 2)" is very much alike the original but I feel that the similarities between the tracks is way too much. The song is not bad but it feels like a complete rip off from its predecessor which you off course cannot stop thinking about. Ruins the whole listening experience for you. But as previously stated, it is still a good song.

"Tears Don't Fall (Part 2)" is not the only song that reminds you of the good old days. "P.O.W" reminds me of  a mix between "All These Things I Hate (Revolve Around Me)" and a 30 Seconds To Mars song (note, 30 Seconds To Mars is only a band i liked in my early music listening carrier, I despise them now) and "Dirty Little Secret" is sounding like a metalized version of All-American Rejects song with the same name (another band I listened to in my youth but not anymore) and a speed up and more complex version of the intro riff in "Your Betrayal". Ah, those were the days.

There is, however, still some weaknesses that the band has not been able to erase since their last album. For instance, the title track could have been one of the best songs this year with its great riff and aggressive approach but the chorus is lame and has none of the intensity that the rest of the song has. And "Riot" is one of the most repetitive songs I have heard in many years (that chorus is just a big sign of laziness). Otherwise is the standard at a even and good height. There is no real song that I would throw in the dumpster but there is also no song that would be worthy of a throne of its own. The lack of a real super hit like "Tears Don't Fall", "4 Words (To Choke Upon)" and "Scream Aim Fire" is putting "Temper Temper" behind the two big albums but "Temper Temper" is without a doubt a step in the right direction.

Even though "Temper Temper" did not blow me away I am still relieved that the welsh men did not make the same mistake twice. But this album is rough around the edges and definitely not in the same class as "The Poison" or "Scream Aim Fire". But with some better choruses and a little more originality this album could have been one of my new favourites. So yeah, Bullet For My Valentine is here by back with new strength. Let us hope that this power will last a little longer than two consecutive albums.

Songs worthy of recognition: Breaking Point, Dirty Little Secret, Saints & Sinners

Rating: 6,5/10 Leeches

Friday, February 8, 2013

Crashdiet - The Savage Playground (2013)

For those of you who lives outside of Sweden, you probably did not know that sleaze/glam rock has been pretty popular amongst the Swedish crowd in later years. Bands like The Poodles, Crazy Lixx and Dynazty has made the genre one of the most desired genres in mainstream rock. Hell, even the veterans in Europe has been given a lift in this new wave of sleaze/glam rock. Another band that has gained some recognition in later years in this genre is Crashdiet. So what separates Crashdiet from the rest of the bands? Well, since they are a glam metal band then there is very little that is different from any other band in the same genre but I feel that Crashdiet has an admirable passion and a little heavier approach than the others. So if you are going to listen to one band in the sleaze metal genre then I would clearly suggest Crashdiet.

"The Savage Playground" is the bands fourth offering and it is their best up to date (according to the band itself). Well I am not sure if I should agree on that statement. "The Savage Playground" has without a doubt better production than its three predecessors but the song material is not the strongest the band has collected into a full-length piece. "Change The World" is a typical album opener with a decent speed but not good enough to be the top of the bunch. A song that puts the bar at the exactly right height for the coming songs. The following song, "Cocaine Cowboys" (which is also the first single from the album), is a bad mix of country and Wolfmother with an acceptable and catchy chorus but it is not a song that deserves to be a single. Then we have "Anarchy" that may be the shortest song on the album but what it lacks on length it makes up on speed, good back up vocals and attitude. Definitely wished that this song was longer. Other songs that is good enough to stand up on their own are "Sin City" that has an edgy and cool riff that lifts the song to new heights together with the heart pounding chorus, "Snakes In Paradise" with its laid back sound that is surprisingly effective and "Garden of Babylon" with its progressive touch and oriental feeling.

Even though "The Savage Playground" is a little rough at the edges, the evenness is very notable here and that is not a surprise. "The Savage Playground" is the first Crashdiet album that does not have a new singer which has given the band more stability, which is given a wanted effect on the bands interaction. But it is not all and well on this album. I find the lack of catchy choruses pretty unusual for this band and songs like "Excited" and "Drinkin Without You" brings the bands dignity down a step. So even if Crashdiet has found a harmony that is important for their future carrier there is still much for them to work on if they want to get bigger than they are now.

"The Savage Playground" is a good album and it is keeping the sleaze genre on top in Sweden but I feel like the band is for some reason holding back. This album is missing an instant hit and the avarage quality of the songs could have been higher. So Crashdiet is not living up to their full potential but they are clearly going to please their fans with this album.

Songs worthy of recognition: Anarchy, Garden of Babylon, Sin City

Rating: 7/10 Damaged Kids

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos (2007)

If you have to believe the metal heads that have done a review of this album in Metal archives, "Systematic Chaos" is the worst of the albums in the bands entire discography with a average rating of 72% (best album in the same site is "Awake" that has the rating 93%). That statistics is nothing that really surprise me since "Systematic Chaos" is more "modern" metal than progressive or heavy and the commercialism over the album is about as high as it was on "Falling Into Infinity". A couple of proofs of the increased commercial approach on this record is that this was the first album from Dream Theater released by Roadrunner Records (a band that in present days have contracts with Nickelback, Stone Sour and Avenged Sevenfold) and the band made its first music video in over ten years (the video was for an edited version of "Constant Motion"). But I am not going to talk more on how others thought of "Systematic Chaos", this is what I thought about this album.

Starting off "Systematic Chaos" is the first part of the song "In The Presence of Enemies", a piece that in its entirety is 25 minutes long but is split into two songs with the lengths 9 and 16 minutes. The total song is a progressive masterpiece with heavy, fast, slow and melodic parts in each and every corner. It is an exciting song that has a easy to follow flow and has a ability to get a good grip at the listener. Even though this is as close to a perfect song as you can get I still feel that Dream Theater should not have made it into two parts and definitely not put the parts as the first and last song on "Systematic Chaos".

After the first part of the second longest song ever created by the band we have "Forsaken". This is probably the most commercially appealing song the band has made in over a decade and it is no wonder that this song was released as a single (even though it was not the first single from this album). If it was not for the beautiful musicality I would probably just shrug this song of me and move on. The chorus is not lifting the way I want it to and the overall song is not impressive. But it is the production and the musicality that makes this song better than it should have been. Well it will do. The first single from this album is "Constant Motion". A pretty odd choice for a first single since it is a song that is not typical Dream Theater. But this is my favourite song in this album because it has a great speed and beat that actually fits the band like a glove. Then we also have the dark and epic chorus that is getting accompanied with a simple but oh so effective guitar riff pattern. But the absolute best part of the song is the guitar and keyboard solo where the complete madness kicks in and your head is going into overdrive. So "Constant Motion" is a very welcome irregularity in Dream Theaters song catalog.

Otherwise from the three previously mentioned songs, there is nothing really impressive on "Systematic Chaos". Sure, "The Dark Eternal Night" has its great moments and "The Ministry of Lost Souls" is not a horrible 15 minute song but the remaining songs on this record is either boring or a song that the band has previously done better. The only really interesting is that several great artists such as Joe Satriani, Corey Taylor, Mikael Åkerfeldt, Steve Vai and more is lending a couple of words on the song "Repentance" (which is a part of Mike Portnoy's Twelve-step Suite, a collection of songs about Mike's struggles with alcohol). And another thing, the mix between modern rock a la Muse and a disco intro (from the song "Prophets of War") is admirable but not something I would want the band to keep doing. So yeah, the second half of "Systematic Chaos" is more or less fillers.

So is my view on "Systematic Chaos" the same as it was on Metal Archives? No, I do not think this album is the worst that the band has released but it is certainly no among the top of the discography. The gap between high and low is unusually big which in turn leads to an uneven album. But "Systematic Chaos" has it moments and with a little luck this album could have been a future classic but it also could have been a total ship wreck.

Songs worthy of recognition: Constant Motion, In The Presence of Enemies

Rating: 6,5/10 Dark Eternal Nights

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Hatebreed - The Divinity of Purpose (2013)

One of my goals during 2013 is to listen to more extreme heavy metal. Maybe no the darkest of death  and black metal but metal that includes heavier riffs, harscher vocals and more gruesome lyrics and attitude. But as the old saying goes, you have to learn to crawl before you can walk. So to start off this goal I have listened to the latest album by American heavy weights Hatebreed. "The Divinity of Purpose" is the bands sixth full-length album, the first one since the 2009 self-titled release, and includes 11 hard hitting songs that makes sure to leave you speechless after listening (or as James Jasta said, "all pit, no shit"). And no, I have not listened to any of their previous material so if you want a review by a guy who know the bands discography as the back of his hands then you are at the completely wrong place.

Anyone still there? Good, let us talk about "The Divinity of Purpose" now. Just as I thought the album was heavy and at the edge to extreme but I was surprised about the grooviness that some of the songs delivers. The drum beats and the slightly camouflaged guitars are creating a catchy groove that also has a sharp edge. The band has chose to bet on short songs that variates from 2:30-3:30, a strategy that is, for me, well appreciated.

There is not much variation on "The Divinity of Purpose" but that does not mean that every song is the same. The first song on the album, which is also the first single, "Put It To The Torch" is fast with a hard but determined groove while the following song, "Honor Never Dies", is slower so the lyrics can stand out by it self (a strategy that does not work so well since the overall lyrics on the album is somewhat boring) and then added with a sweet guitar lick during the chorus. Those two types of songs are recurring on the entire album and of the two I would say that the faster songs is the songs that works the best on this record.

Other songs that catches my attention is "Own Your World" that has an addictive chorus, "Dead Man Breathing" with its irresistible groove and fantastic chorus that builds up in a perfect way and "Nothing Scars Me" with its awesome attitude and raw strength. But even though the overall standard on this album is high I find the play time of 38 minutes a little too short for my taste. The album rushes through to quickly for me to completely enjoy it and that is not the only weakness the short plat time is giving. After already a couple of listening sessions I find the album a little more dull. the excitement leaves pretty fast and is instead replaced by a big meh. So the durability on "The Divinity of Purpose" is not very great.

So even if I absolutely enjoyed "The Divinity of Purpose" I still feel that one or two songs more could have been fit in. This album is way too short for me to enjoy it full out. But there is no doubt that this album is a must listen for every fans in metal. This record is an assault that takes no prisoners and goes all in against its listeners. But as stated before, it would not have hurt the band to put in an additional one or two songs.

Songs worthy of recognition: Nothing Scars Me, Dead Man Breathing, Put It To The Torch

Rating: 7,5/10 Bitter Truths

Friday, February 1, 2013

Damned Pilots - Spaced Out EP (2012)

Now I do not normally review EP's but if a band wants me to review it I am more than happy to do so. And if you are wondering why it is so it is because I feel that EP's is just an excuse for being lazy in the song creating process. I can understand that newcomers like Italian quartet Damned Pilots would release an EP so they can give a taste to future fans and record companies of what to come. But it is completely useless that a already famous and well established band would release an EP since they have the resources to release a full-length album, something that would make the fans much happier than a short EP. Sorry for going out of subject but I had to get it out of my system.

Anyhow, Damned Pilots comes from Italy and consists of Don Nutz on drums, Johnny Angel on guitar, Pino Space on bass and Ote on vocals and guitar. So how would I describe the bands sound? Well, they have a solid mix of doom and groove metal which reminds me a lot of The Sword, a band that I only liked sporadically. Damned Pilots first offering to the world is the 6 songs long EP "Spaced Out".

After a quick opener called "Believe Me Now" (originally made by Electric Light Orchestra), which only works as a complaining intro, Damned Pilots gives us "My Word", a groovy song that may not have extraordinary works on either of the instruments but is still a solid song that keeps my head rocking back and forth. It also has a calm but  good solo that works surprisingly well with the rest of the song. Also love the roughness on Ote's vocals this particular track. The following song, "Make My Day", is more melodic but still keeps a groovy rhythm that is keeping my interest where it should be. Unfortunately I feel that this song does not have enough strength to be one of the best on "Spaced Out" but it is certainly not the worst of the material. That award goes to the song that comes next, which is "Believin' In". It is the calmest song on the EP and sadly also the song that has the same effects as a sleeping pill. Whisperings, some acoustic guitars and slow motion mode on. I swear that I nodded of a couple of times when listening to this song.

After waking up from my nap time I get thrown in to the cover of the W.A.S.P song "Sleeping In The Fire" (that title fits more on the previous song). Compared to the original version I would say that the band did a great work here. Damned Pilots really made this song their own with a darker touch and the musicianship here is some of the best on the entire EP, especially the guitar solo. I definitely thinks that this version is worthy a small recognition but as always, you simply can not beat the original song. The EP ends with a more or less useless track called "The Masonic Rite of Ynnoc O". I mean what is the meaning with this song? It is only some simple guitar riffs and some strange background sound. I simply do not get it so I will just let it be.

I personally think that a band potential can only be evaluated correctly through a full-length album but after hearing "Spaced Out" I definitely thinks that Damned Pilots may be up for something interesting. There are not many established bands in this genre and if the band can keep it up on the song writing there is a chance that they could make it in the music industry. "Spaced Out" is a valid effort that could have been better without the sleeping pill and the useless outro but the potential is there and I for one is excited of seeing where this potential may end up.

Songs worthy of recognition: My Word, Sleeping In The Fire

Rating: 7/10 Masonic Rites

Bandcamp: http://damnedpilots.bandcamp.com/album/spaced-out
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Damned-Pilots/177425625676655
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/damnedpilots?feature=watch