Posts Tagged ‘album’

Cloudkicker – Fade

Posted: August 9, 2012 by Fredrik Schjerve in Uncategorized
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This release is just the first in a quadrology of reviews I will write, based on a feature at Metalreview.com, which recommended these four albums, each suffering from lack of publicity. Even though I might reach just a few people, I have at least tried to spread knowledge about the quality these records possess.

Cloudkicker has often been lumped in with the current Djent-scene, despite the fact that the band (or the artist, Cloudkicker consists of one sole member) is not playing djent by any means. At least not anymore. Ben Sharp, the mastermind behind the sonic venture called Cloudkicker, has got a habit of hanging his musical style between every record. So though he has played Djent-related music before, he now produces music in an entirely different manner.

The up-to-date Cloudkicker conjures a melodic, post-rock influenced, though only in the slightest matter, amalgam of pure songcraft and catchy ideas. Clear hooks and sonic imagery is the new mixture’s selling point, as Fade is equal parts catchy and cunning. “From The Balcony” unleash the accessibility straight away, with a bass-underlined harmony which evolves into a large hook. The record is immensely smooth-sounding and as relaxing as an album can be while still achieving the term of “metal”. The song is an early highlight, containing both huge riffs and acoustic, chordal interplay. While being relatively straigh-forward and captivating, Fade is also a interplay of interesting ideas and explorative songwriting, making the record a listen I can’t imagine any music fan would deny a great one.

The Focus” enters next, boasting massive drums and a happy summertime-style riffing, before album centerpiece, “Seattle” gets set to impress with its ten minutes running time. A moody intro soon kicks into a polyrythmic layering of rythm, lead and feedback-like melody. The resulting mixture is a true instrumental victory, and you don’t realise until the part ends, that you have been listening to the same riff for three minutes. The work laid down during the ten minutes feels like the melodic side of djent, stripped of its complexity and heaviness, polished and perfected to the extent of a near revelatory product. After the melodic epiphany reaches its end, we get a stream of descending acoustic notes, which is the part of which the sonic imagery enters. The traffic-like notes evokes a time lapse-shot of Seattle city shifting between day and night in a flutter of blinking lights and colours. Unfortunately, the aftermath comes across as a bit tame in comparison, but the last minutes are saved by the recurring clean melody, which enters near the end.

The rest of the album varies between gentle, atmospheric mastery (Garage Show), sonic imagery of a shuttle searching for an alien source (Cloud-hidden, Whereabouts Unknown), a slight misstep (Making Will Mad), and the album’s subtle masterpiece, “Our Crazy Night”. To form a comclusion, Fade is a masterful achievement from a man that has managed to create magic before, and surely will do so yet again soon. There was not a single moment during the CD that I didn’t enjoy myself, and considering you can download it for free legally at Cloudkickers bandcamp page, there is no reason that you shouldn’t enjoy yourself either. You need a lot of talent to do a stylistic 180 degree-turn without messing things up, and though he has come close to doing that earlier (Let Yourself Be Huge), Ben Sharp has managed to do it merit-fully on Fade. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Recommended Tracks: From The Balcony, Seattle, Our Crazy Night

8.5/ 10

Fredrik Schjerve

Anticipation and preconceptions can fool you. Same can be said about influence from sources you trust wholeheartedly. My relationship with Samothrace was non-existing before information of their new record hit my radar from web-pages I follow like a blindfolded sheep. The reviews of their new opus, “Reverence To Stone” was far from deriving. The comments and reviews were all praising this record, and as a lover of long-length songs, I squealed with joy when I found out the CD consisted of two songs, together reaching the length of 35 minutes. But anticipation and preconceptions can fool you.

Samothrace’s brand of contrast-heavy, melodic funeral doom is a force to be reckoned with. They have a solid talent for writing powerful chord-progressions, tasteful melodies and engaging bursts of post-rock dynamics-gone-doom. The first track, “When We Emerged” starts of acoustic, boasting a improvised feel to the plucking, before settling in a melodic pattern. That pattern is continued when the band, plus loads of distortion kicks into a solid groove, to breathtaking results. To this point, the high hopes were all answered with fierce compositional prowess, and the following 30 minutes seemed to be a joyful ride.

A surfy guitar entered, layering an additional sense of grandiosity, and it all swirled into a short lead before the power was cut once more. The silent strumming built on my interest for what would happen next, and when the silence ended, I was amazed. The following verse hit like a truck, with all its doomy, funereal heaviness, and a shrieking vocal desperation filled all my needs for what a funeral record should be. Following the crushing snail-bulldozer was a catchy chord-progression, and everything sounded the way I was told, but after nine minutes of really solid experimental doom, a bland sequence hit the speaker. Unfortunately, the last five minutes tested my patience with anonymous, nearly useless parts of half-baked ideas, and my fuel was heavily burned out on trying to understand the greatness I was promised by the first nine minutes of the song.

With my fan-boyism severely reduced, I hit the play button, starting of the second stroll, “A Horse Of Our Own”. Despite a promising and hard-hitting intro, a non-contributing and lacking solo further lets down the potential of the band, and after five minutes of manageable material, another dragging, acoustic/ solo-part destroys the momentum. I must say, the solos of Samothrace are really a hit and miss-thing, some times striking a golden ore, but most of the time creating a way for the attention to escape the forcefield of the listenable parts of the compositions. Considering the second track was the longer one of the two, I was brutally struck down when I found out that half of the song was made of the kind I stated above.

The acoustic soloing is just so hypnotisingly confusing. With the band showing so much potential when it comes to making actual riffs and and immense soundscapes, why do they feel the need to poison the songs with such life-draining mediocrity? I see how people might actually enjoy these parts, but being a guitarist myself, I can just hear that there is nothing really solid about the soloing. The parts drags, adding nothing to the overall brew, and though some might disagree, I find that the sleepy pondering totally hammers down the listening experience, damaging the quality of the record badly.

So my anticipation and preconceptions were proved wrong after several listens, and trust me, I listened to this record countless times, trying to figure out why you people regard it so highly. Before I put forth the score, let me just say that the parts that really work, REALLY work, and that an album featuring all the right Samothrace-elements might be a stunning list-topper if it ever surfaces. The first track is filled with exciting quality despite the eventless last five minutes, but the second track is a mixture of uninspiring and plain boring parts, sprinkled with a few moments of unbeatable glory. It hurts to have to take away so many points from a record that contains plenty of wonderful moments, but because of the many parts I just didn’t enjoy listening to at all, I unfortunately have to. Please prove me wrong next time, Samothrace.

                  Recommended Track: When We Emerged

                  6.0/ 10.0

                  Fredrik Schjerve

 

Baroness – Yellow & Green

Posted: August 3, 2012 by Fredrik Schjerve in Reviews
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In the last couple of months, this particular album has received so much negative responses on the net that it is starting to look like the previously widely accepted band Baroness is entering a phase of instant-Bring Me The Horizon-syndrome. The cries and loud screeches of internet-hate are probably not a big surprise, as that situation largely tends to happen whenever a band makes a shift from metal to experimental indie. But as the baroness-business makes it ways to other territories, we can only conclude with the fact that Baroness indeed is it’s own monster, and that it is mainly up to the band themselves what they want to do with their sound. Weep all you want, fellow metal fans, but Baroness have left us, seemingly for good.

                 On the other side, they have not left great music behind. They have taken it in their arms, and brought it into another realm, which might sound worse than the double album really is, the realm of indie and southern rock. There are so many different styles of musical writing on this platter, that it comes across like a giant mess through the first listens, but really just add a nice variation a double LP need when you enter your fourth plough-through. The punchy single, “Take My Bones Away”, with the albums nearly sole heavy riff and powerful vocal lines, the sneaky indie groove of “Little Thing”, the Franz Ferdinand worship titled “Sea Lungs”, and even a folk verse/ atmospheric piece, “Twinkler”. This CD is as diverse as Devin Townsends back catalogue (ok, not entirely), and the shifts in styles are really justified by the quality of the material.

                The double LP is split up in two different parts, the Yellow album, and the Green one. They are both accompanied by their own, separate intro-tracks, which both are indicators on just how great Baroness’ stylistic change has been. The Yellow theme is just a piece of meandering, serene melodies and silent harmonies, and really shows that even dead-simple songs can have their quality when Baroness writes them. The following songs are stock full of sparkling sonic adventures and catchy melodies, even the feat of crafty dynamics is possessed by the band, which they often use to underline a certain melody. Examples on dynamic truckloads are found in the third song, “March To The Sea”, the chorus of which sports an anthemic vocal shout, and swirling Mastodon-inspired guitarnotes. The sprawling salute of harmonies that occur during the bridge brings the song to a new level, before it ends on the surf-like bass the song initially began with.

               Highlights of the first side contain the two longer songs, “Eula” and “Back Where I Belong”. The former spray out a streak of the albums best chord progressions, the mood shifting with every change of chords, and thereafter flow into a very Queen-ish solo. It should be noted that only the first half of the song is worthy of the Highlight title, the second half wandering into anonymous parts, and thereby ending with little fanfare. “Eula” fares better, with its stark vocal lines, and Baroness signature-dynamics.

              Then follows the Green theme and another set of songs. The Green theme is ultimately the better theme, the quality brought forth by a memorable melody, and the victorious march of wah-guitars. The Green album is by far the most experimental one, and is really the the most interesting one of the dual records. “Board Up The House” is a streak of great ideas and positive vibes, and is followed by the beautiful riff-sequence of “Mtns. (The Crown & Anchor)”. Afterwards follows one of the albums missteps, the pondering balladry of “Foolsong”. There is really so much to talk about on this record that I must try to hinder myself from deriving the review of quality by explaining every piece of music there is, but you get the point, This record contains so much of everything that most bands will never achieve that rate of exploration throughout their whole career.

              Unfortunately, there is to be found a strange downside to this album. It seems to me like most of the songs start of with great parts and excellent stylistic control, but run out of the creative flow some place throughout the end. “Take My Bones Away”s momentum is drastically hindered by its creators choice to moderate the guitars on the last chorus, which is also done on the last chorus of “Cocainium”. Its a disturbing and ill-fitting thing to do when the refrains are so well constructed to begin with. It also can’t be helped that, though everything is fresh and interesting, the attention span of the regular musical fanatic will start to burst about halfway into the Green album. Then take the couple of sub-par songs, “Foolsong” and “Collapse”, and it’s no perfect record.

               Still I consider this double LP a great feat from a respected band, whose stylistic change should be well justified by the time they release their next album of rock-infused indie (unless they are going to take a 180 degree turn again). This record is not for everyone, and the majority of metalheads will only shake their head in disapproval by bewildering tunes such as “Psalms Alive”. But guys, ever since the shift from dirty sludge to controlled heavy rock on the Red Album, to the shift from heavy rock to souther twang on the Blue Record, Baroness has been strolling this way ever since the beginning. Take it or leave it, for the open-minded listener, Yellow & Green can prove an exhilarating listen bound the be replayed during the next couple of years. Roll on Baroness, I will be waiting for the Purple Cassette to be written.

8.0 / 10

Fredrik Schjerve




Enter Metal Penguin

Posted: August 2, 2012 by Fredrik Schjerve in Features
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Hey guys, and welcome to the first post of the new reviewers site, ThyMetal Penguin at WordPress.com. Fredrik Schjerve (that’s me) and Alexander Fossen Lange will try to write quality reviews of quality and non-quality records that mainly sticks to the genre-tag of heavy metal, but it might happen that we find the urge to write a couple of non-metal reviews once in a while. the records will always be closely related to the metal universe, so don’t fear a full length review of the newest chart-topper by Lana del Rey or Kanye West. Hope some of you stay along for the ride, and hopefully, whoever comes across this site may feel free to recommend us to your neighbouring metalheads (if there is anything to recommend, that is). first review will hopefully surface tomorrow, and it is by a metal band-gone-non-metal, so that might be interesting for some of you more open-minded buggers out there. A last notice for the visitors; always keep in mind that I and Alex are two relatively open minded guys ourselves, so don’t be surprised to see a couple of non-meat and potatoes metal releases getting a great score. Stay put, we will emerge.

Fredrik Schjerve