Posts Tagged ‘progressive’

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

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Gojira – L’enfant Sauvage

Posted: August 4, 2012 by Fredrik Schjerve in Reviews
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Is there really any other band right now that has experienced such a stratospheric rise to prominence that Gojira has? Add another detail; that has risen to success, and deserved it wholeheartedly? I think such a band would be hard to find, cause in todays world of music, new trends arrive and cease by the blink of an eye, and a steadfast band like Gojira is indeed a rare entity to come across.

After one magnificent album (Terra Incognita), a lacklustre one (The Link), and two classics (From Mars To Sirius and The Way Of All Flesh), Gojira was left in a rather uncomfortable situation. How do one follow such stellar outputs like FMTS and TWOAF? It seems like gojira has made a stable conclusion, concerning the positive reviews L’enfant Sauvage has garnered all over the musical network. But as the dust and anticipation has settled, and the record have sunk its way into my cerebral core, I am left with a disturbing thought. L’enfant is in many ways, gruefully disappointing.

I know that most people certainly do not follow that statement, but I know that there is a lot of people who does too. Gojira and their progressive take on death metal has always made a steady bit of progress during their career, but on this record, it seems like they have reached the end of that philosophy. The signature Gojira-sound has been altered slightly, but apart from some added bombast, it sounds processed.

The record is so unmistakably Gojira that I start to wonder if there is a danger of getting… say, too much Gojira. The record is basically littered with the standard harmonic “whale”-sweeps and natural harmonics that after the first couple of songs, you really don’t want to hear a single harmonic again. To put it straight, it feels like: whenever Gojira runs out of ideas, they utilize a few harmonics and whale-sweeps. Reference point: the outro of “Liquid Fire”.

The record starts out with a couple of rollercoaster-rides. “Explosia”, “L’enfant Sauvage”, “The Axe” and “Liquid Fire” have all got their moments of glory, but also their moments of shame. The title track sports a new-found, grand soundscape inducted in the admirable verses and bridges of the song, but also puts forth a fast-paced section painstakingly alike earlier Gojira-material towards the end. “The Axe”s simplistic assaultery and wonderful chorus achieve a certain facepalm-factor when the clean guitar, which actually fits rather well, moderates in a useless way by moving the last note a half step up half of the time. Its just one of the little things that makes you really awry. Same problem about “Liquid Fire”, the magnificent verse and anthemical midsection falters due to a bluster of harmonic abuse.

While interlude “The Wild Healer” proves a neat treat, there are both really good songs, and really bad songs on the album too, evening the score out further. “Planned Obsolescence”s simple intro is justified by the genius drum-fueled rampage following the verse, and there is really just a dash of Gojira-magic veiling the song in quality. Same can be said about the unique and gripping “Born In Winter”, its lofty, tapped riff-sequences coming across as inventive and blistering. But then we’ve got the downers. The horribly naive “Mouth Of Kala”, showcasing THE most average intro riff I have witnessed in a long time, and “The Gift Of Guilt”, being submissively under the standards of the mighty mammoth-group Gojira.

But looking backwards in the end, it really isn’t a bad record. Its not a “transcendental manual to understand life and the universe” as Metal Hammer UK tried to proclaim, yet, it is not a terrible album by any means. The downsides to the record are slightly weighed up for by the good material, and the CD ends up being a good CD by itself, but a solid let down considering it’s written by Gojira. I just hope that this pattern is a repeat of the event of “The Link”, which was a lacking release followed by a stone-cold classic. It is not unrealistic by any means, so we await in excitement, waiting for the story to unfold. The best of luck to you, merry frenchmen.

Recommended tracks: Planned Obsolescence, Born In Winter

                  7.0/ 10.0

                  Fredrik Schjerve

A second opinion by a guest contributor :

The leap from underground to elite is no easy task, yet Gojira’s attempt on french revolution is well adjusted. It was already in the cards since the release of “From Mars to Sirius”, we could already then get the feel that something majestic was on the way.

With L’Enfant Sauvage Gojira seems to get the attention they deserve. They have adapted a more mainstream appeal, as have they made their instrumental complexity more edible for the regular listener. Allthough it’s a rock solid record I can’t help but getting a feel that something is missing. It might be the hypnotic guitar riffing that was on “The Way of All Flesh”, or the progressive tendencies which were a lot more notable on the previous albums. “L’Enfant Sauvage” is a well-produced and well-written record, but unfortunately it does seem to lack a bit of the Gojira-esque atmosphere that were so much appreciated on the previous albums.

                7.0/ 10.0

                    Martin Sollien

Ihsahn – Eremita

Posted: August 4, 2012 by pacsack in Reviews
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After Ihsahn started up with his solo project, his music has just become more and more experimental and unique. However, while his two first solo-albums was based on a tricky twist of progressive extreme metal, it was ‘After’ from 2010 which really brought his music up unto a whole new level. Saxophone-melodies and riffs played on 8 string-guitars was just some of the elements which made it hard to even compare it to something else we had heard before.

Now his fourth album – ‘Eremita’ – has finally arrived. While elements of the unique and avant-garde-ish style of ‘After’ is maintained, elements from his earlier works is more essential than last time. On the opening-track ‘Arrival’ this is noticable already; a catchy progression of chords as the main riff and a melodic chorus sung by Leprous-vocalist Einar Solberg builds the main-fundament of the song, while the pre-chorus and bridge hails from the desolated and minimalistic atmospheres of ‘After’. Further out on the record most people will certainly notice there’s a bit of everything from what Ihsahn has made the last years; while the crazy verse from ‘The Paranoid’ immediately reminded me of ‘After’s ‘A Grave Inversed’, the verse riff on ‘Something Out There’ brings back memories from Emperor-songs like ‘Thus Spake the Nightspirit’ and ‘Ye Entrancemperium’, and so on.

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The record starts out very well, with the already mentioned ‘Arrival’, followed by the three tracks that in my opinion are the very best on this record. With lots of energy, amazing song-structure and epic chorus-sections ‘The Paranoid’ stands out as the technical marvel on the record, and the dual vocals from Ihsahn and his buddy Devin Townsend makes ‘Introspection’ dangerously addictive. ‘The Eagle and the Snake’ however, is the progressive masterpiece of the record with its wide diversity; an amazing utilization of Jørgen Munkeby’s saxophone is accompanied by both the screeching and crooning vocals of Ihsahn, in addition to a solo by Jeff Loomis.

With a frequently used saxophone and a upside-down image of Friedrich Nietzche himself, many will think that ‘Eremita’ is a very ambitious album. It certainly is, but unfortunately it’s a little too ambitious for its own good, and it’s one of the main reasons the album is somehow stagnating on its second half. For example, while the verses on ‘Catharsis’ have a cool tune, they’re unnecessarily long, and after hearing it a few times the urge for just jumping to the awesome chorus grew bigger and bigger.

After the pretty cool ‘Something Out There’ we have come to what I like to call the rather dissapointing trinity of the album, which is the three last songs of the album. The orchestral interlude ‘Grief’ just feels extremely boring, imposed and unnecessary, and feels first and foremost like an extension of the first 11 seconds of ‘Nymphetamine’ by Cradle of Filth. And that does’t really fit in here. ‘The Grave’, however, is just a song i don’t get. An intro verse with an almost ridicously dramatic atmosphere, is followed by a very long kind of free-jazz section with angry vocals in the background. The saxophone-playing and the drum fills which characterize this part are amazing, but it’s simply not utilized good enough, and it ends up being a potentially amazing song instead of an amazing song.

In the end, we have ‘Departure’: a seven minute long song which at least should have been a couple of minutes longer. The variation is namely huge, so huge that it becomes to much in the end. Mighty horns in the beginning, hectic black metal-verses, a jazzy section, a calm bridge characterized by the beautiful voice of Ihsahn’s wife, an epic outro, and so on; while the song in fact is pretty amazing itself, it probably sound like a much longer song from what I have been writing, and it should be. And it’s these things that prevents ‘Eremita’ from being such a good record ‘After’ was. It seems like Ihsahn wants to do a bit more than what he is capable of, but while these last paragraphs indicates a mediocre score, the album is still pretty amazing in its entirety. The songwriting itself is impressive, the material is stunningly original, and Ihsahn proceeds to maintain a place up there with composers like Devin Townsend and Fredrik Thordendal.

8.0/10

Recommened tracks: The Paranoid, Introspection, The Eagle and the Snake