Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The Grand Minnows - Friday Lights

Release Date: 17th January 2014
Genre: Soft rock, pop rock, Indie rock.
Record Label: Unsigned
Number of Tracks: 3

Overall Rating: 7.7/10

As a metalhead, I always find it refreshing to hear something different. When I first listened to The Grand Minnows I felt calm. I didn't want to mosh, headbang or get a skull tattooed on my fist. I just wanted to listen to the music and enjoy the moment. Now to some, this might be hard to do, but tune into this Swedish/American Indie Rock band's 2nd EP and you will see exactly what I mean.

The members of The Grand Minnows have all been in established bands before and their experience in this 3 track EP is evident throughout these tracks. They are simple, but effective. They get you contemplating, wondering. It's thoughtful music, very calming and very mature. If you are a regular metalhead, then you might turn your nose at something like this, but having these 3 tracks on your iPod is recommended. It will change your day and slow things down. Give them a listen, you will not regret it. Tell me if you agree with me in the comments.

Currently organising the production of a music video, and more tracks expected in May/June time. 

You can hear this album on their Bandcamp, and I recommend that you do as well as keep up to date with their latest stuff on their FaceBook

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Fallen Fate - Into The Black

Release Date: 30th January 2014
Genre: Melodic modern death metal.
Record Label: Unsigned
Number of Tracks: 10
Sounds Like: As I Lay Dying, Caliban, Insomnium.

Overall Rating: 7.2/10

British metal has developed since the 80's thrash metal that changed the genre forever. Epitomising this evolution is Fallen Fate, who are releasing their brand new album on January 30th, titled Into the Black. 

Combining thrash, death metal and hardcore punk in a mix of dark melodic riffs and punishing aggression, Fallen Fate have created an interesting and engaging concept album with a story familiar to that of the new wave of demonic horror movies such as The Devil Inside and The Possession. This album is different to their 2011 release The Virus has Spread, in that it is a lot darker vocally and musically, but they have kept the melodic heaviness and speed which has seen them on the Bloodstock and Download stage.

The highlight and standout of this 10 track album, is the theme. It is a story about Vespa who is possessed by a demonic presence which takes over, killing her and her family. Vocalist and guitarist Lee Skinner, explains the concept of the album, "The drive behind the concept is to empower the listener to decide whether she was possessed by the devil, as she has no saviour in her life, or if she was possessed by God, punishing her for her lack of faith". As a listener, it clawed me into the music making an interesting and stand out album. However, such a heavy theme could distract the listener from the music, as it is easy to get lost in trying to decipher or understand the theme making it difficult to enjoy the music, almost like reading The Da Vinci code.

The album musically is monotonous. It is hard to believe that there are 10 tracks on this album as they all seem to cleverly merge into one. There are no distinctive breaks except for track 9, The Demise which would be considered more of an interlude or intro to the longer final track. The vocals are continuously screamed, which to be honest are done and recorded to a high standard but they very rarely offer a melody and are largely toneless. The only differing vocal tones come as backing vocals in tack 3 Until the Final Hour and track 6 I welcome the Dead which add to the spine tingling eerie atmosphere.

A side from the vocals, the album is musically good. The riffs are somewhat complex,  reminiscent of Ember to Inferno, the riff in track 7 Rituals is a key highlight. These riffs mix almost too well with the solos which are engaging and emotive and offers the listener time to think about the concept. Another highlight being the 2 part guitar duel on Until the Final Hour. The gothic tones and occasional church atmosphere add to the theme and are suitable for the tracks they are in. 

Into the Black is a heavy going hard to listen to album. It is dark, and although the idea behind the theme is fresh, the album struggles to narrate the story behind it. There is no explosive moment, the concept is really the only engaging aspect of the album and although the music is good, there is nothing engrossing about it.

The album is officially released on January 30th and can be pre-ordered here. Follow them on FaceBookYouTube and Twitter


Monday, 13 January 2014

Songs of the Week!

Songs of the Week is back and we have been asking the Facebook following what songs have caught their attention this week. Old or new, and regardless of genre we want to know what you're listening too and we will share it with the masses. 

So headphones in, volume up and have a listen to anything on this list which you haven't heard before. If you have a particular track you have been enjoying recently, then comment either on here or on our Facebook.

Pantera - Walk
Adequately named Pantera album, Vulgar Display of Power featured a riff which many would consider riff of the century. It was off the song Walk . It has been covered by many bands including Avenged Sevenfold, Trivium, Seether, Operator and Disturbed to name a few. The message behind the song was described by frontman Phil Anselmo as "Take your fucking attitude and take a fuckin' walk with that. Keep that shit away from me". Either way, there's no denying the songs presence in the metal hall of fame. The song most requested by our Facebookers this week.

Kinetik - Acres of Space
Recently receiving our highest rating for an album for their new full length Heavier Elements album (9.7), Technical Groove Metallers Kinetik are mindbogglingly good. The album is "A sublime mixture of brutish riffs and vast-open sounds woven together by some very technical and proficient playing providing both complexity and excellence in abundance" as stated on our review. This track inparticular starts with a killer bass riff and oozes groove and style.    

The Beatles - Something
What's your favorite Beatles song? Thats perhaps a discussion for another day, but comments are always welcome. The Beatles attempted to buy a Greek Island called Euboea which was coincidentally in the shape of a guitar. Lennon had wanted escape from screaming fans so discussed the idea with the rest of the band. They never did it though, as they broke up before a deal could be done. Anyway, this song of the week came from Mani Shankar Singh from our Facebook. The song is from the 1969 album Abbey Road.

Andy James - Second Wave
Fresh out of melodic heavy metal band Sacred Mother Tongue, Andy James is setting up his very own unique guitar academy. He has released a set of solo tracks which are brilliant. His rhythm riffing and his emotive solo lead parts are exquisite. The track below is my favorite of the lot. It isn't just a shred fest, but a well composed, emotive track. He also featured on as one of MMAR's guitarists to look out for in 2014.

Richard Cheese - Last Resort (Papa Roach Cover)
Random song to finish off on, but if you have ever heard of Richard Cheese then you know what to expect when he covers alternative songs with piano. If you haven't heard of him then check this video out off his 2000 album Lounge Against the Machine.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Kinetik - Heavier Elements

Release Date: April 2013
Genre: Technical Groove Metal
Label: Unsigned
Number of Tracks: 12
Sounds Like: Meshuggah
Key Tracks: Static Motion, Obsolete Zero, Closer than Contact, Acres of Space, On Starless Nights
Favorite Track: Acres of Space

Overall Rating: 9.7/10

Kinetik are a 4-piece tech metal band hailing from California. They released their first full-length feature Heavier Elements earlier this year, and it is an uncompromising combination of complex rhythms, massive riffs and a sound that is guttural and yet spacious. The sheer rhythmic power of Heavier Elements grabs your attention, but it's a combination of the musicianship and that huge sound that really keeps you listening right till the end of the album.

The sound of this album is thick and tight and yet vast and spatial, like a tempest in space. It's diverse and dynamically variant, writhing and fluid, and it gives the impression that the music is almost alive, feral even. It incorporates a good mix of stylistic choices, the use of synthesiser sounds goes a long way to illicit that spatiality that was mentioned earlier, and there is a Jazzier hint within the structure which really sets off the rhythmic groove of the album.

Heavier Elements is not an easy album to listen to if you're looking for something light and frothy and to be honest I suspect this is rather the point, but if you give it the time and attention that it deserves then it is something really, face meltingly excellent.

Key tracks on this album are :

Static Motion:
The opener for the album, it really sets you up for the experience and really comes out of the blue, starting off with essentially a huge dynamic shift, within the opening moments it punches you in the face with everything that is great about this album.

Obsolete Zero:
Arguably more technical than Static Motion, although that is debatable. This track lifts into a great section which highlights some of the more melodic side to Kinetik and it shows a little of the diversity that encompasses the whole album.

Closer than Contact:
This track is just brutal. It's like being beaten around the head by a giant metal fist, that is not to say that it is not excellent – It really is, and it is a really heavy moment on the album.

Acres of Space:
Honestly, this is my favourite track on the album. Opening with a killer bass riff, it shows a real tightness and technicality, even beyond what you would expect for a band like Kinetik. It just oozes groove and style. It provides a needed break from the heavier sections of the album, it does however beef up towards the end before falling back into that excellent bass groove.

On Starless Nights:
The closer, this track almost feels like a twin to Static Motion, albeit somewhat up-tempo, it's a genuine gem with which to top of the album, rounding everything good about the previous tracks and winding it to a satisfying and complete close.

In conclusion, Kinetik's Heavier Elements is a sublime mixture of brutish riffs and vast-open sounds woven together by some very technical and proficient playing, providing both complexity and excellence in abundence. As earlier said, it's not necessarily the most easily accessible album, if you're looking for something light and bubbly, this is probably not your album, but if you appreciate the subtleties and complexities of music, I absolutely could not recommend Heavier Elements any more. If you happen to be from around San Francisco, I would also recommend trying to get to see Kinetik live.

Check out Kinetik's  Bandcamp to buy the album and their Facebook to keep updated!

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Guitarists to look out for in 2014!

So 2013 is behind us and we can yet again reflect and the vast array of heavy metal, acoustic jazz blues guitarists that flutter the music world.

This is a list of guitarists that are either still makes waves from 2013, or that are releasing or touring in 2014. Have a good read, and comment below your constructive thoughts! 

Keith Merrow / Jeff Loomis: What happens when 2 monstrous super shredders come together and create an album with bigger consequences than Anakin Skywalker becoming a jedi? They form a band called Conquering Dystopia and tour America. The album is in the final stages of production and their first gig is on the 25th January at the Schecter Guitar NAMM party in California. This was a self funded album, so credit to the fans for making this happen, but guitarists and music fans are in anticipation for whats to come. The video is a clip from just a jam session with both of them, this is a sample of things to come from their album.

Andy James - Recently departed from Sacred Mother Tongue after releasing a cracking album, monster of the fretboard Andy James is setting up an online interactive guitar academy this year where he is teaching everything from beginner to advanced lessons suited to each individual. There are free lessons, interviews, skype calls and chances to meet him in person. As a solo artist, he also has "Several exciting new album releases and live tours also scheduled for 2014". A genuine down to earth musician, as well his hellish music skills. This video is one off his guitar academy.

Eric Calderone - With his unique blend of metal riffage with family favorite tv shows, movies and games such as Dr Who, Indiana Jones and Skyrim, he has gained an extraordinary following and sponsors. He releases a new video on youtube every week or 2 and they are consistently baffling. Always interesting to see what he does next next and never a disappointment. 

John Gomm - The sensational unique raw talent of Jon Gomm went viral in 2012 after the single "Passionflower" was discovered by critics and celebrities. His sound consists of, acoustic guitar both rhythm and lead, singing and using the guitar as a drum all at the same time. In some songs, he even uses the tuning nuts to create a unique sound. His new album, released November 2013 is his "Best work yet". His tour dates in 2014 are worth keeping an eye on, as seeing him live would be mind-blowing. The video below is the opener off his new album.

Eric Johnson: Instrumental rock solo guitarist Eric Johnson will be touring America in March with his Experience Hendrix Tour. Releasing "Up Close; Another Look" last year he continues to expand his artistry with compelling and enriching results. Keep an eye on his tour dates ext year and see if you can experience the uniqueness.

Andy McKee - Acoustic guitarist extraordinaire Andy McKee is releasing "The most creative and interesting thing hes done" with new EP at the end of January including a piano piece. McKee also hope to tour across the world hitting America, Europe, South America, India and Australasia. He is hoping to do more instructional videos next year to help us all out! Check out this video he released on New Years Day updating his happenings in 2014

Becky Langan - The young, talented solo acoustic artist Becky Langan has been building her fan base since 2010, playing intimate gigs at quaint venues in the UK. Hoping to release more singles over 2014 with a view to an album written by 2015. Subscribe to her YouTube channel to keep up to date with these releases.

So there's you're lot! A great bunch of guitarists/musicians hoping to inspire and entertain us next year. If you know of any more that you want to mention, that's what the comment section is for!