Friday, June 30, 2006

I Got To Take Me On A Temporary Vacation ....

Ah loyal readers, I never got me Symphony X post done yet, and now I go on vacation, away from all of life's technilogical amenyties (well atleast the internet) so I won't be posting for about a week. I know I know , what's the difference yaya ... so till then!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Quit Playing Games With My Mind

I discovered Eternity X while surfing around on the internet for Dream Theatre information. I browsed through their webpage and decided that I liked them. They offered a free sampler cassette, so I ordered one (all free! no shipping or anything.) and I loved it. It featured a 2 sided medley of songs off their albums and though people often said if you like Dream Theatre you'll like Eternity X (the conection of how I found them), there really is no other similarities between the groups. Eternity X is progressive, but not as heavy as D.T. that's not to say they weren't heavy at all, they just have a more hard rock sound, like Savatage or Blind Guardian.

"Mind Games" is a great album, but not my favourite. This, however, is the first album I bought of theirs at the ole' Big HMV. And I couldn't get enough of it. The album begins with the blistering opener "Firestorm" which is mid-paced and heavy and then leads into the title track which I would say is my favourite song. "Mind Games" starts with a beautiful acoustic intro and Keith Sudano's vocals are passionate. The song then kicks in with some great riff work and beautiful melodies. It has a great variety of emotions. "The Saviour and the Disease", "Viper II" are great fast progressive heavy tunes with "Viper II" being the heaviest track on the album.

"Endless Journey" and "Eternity" are gloomy and give the listener a very disoriented feel of one in search for something and they don't know what it is. "Faith" is an acousticy rock tune with a very uplifting feel and a great solo. "Crawl Before you Walk" has a fantastic riff for the chorus and a very improvised feel. The song "Despair" says it all in it's title. This is a close second for my favourite. It is piano driven with vocals that sing like a bow sweeping across my heartstrings. Such a powerfully emotional song. The album ends with the flat out heavy metal tune "Switchblade" which feels out of place in its simplicity, but man what a killer tune!

I would like to bring special mention to the song "Eulogy". It's an acoustic song played on the acoustic guitar (which is used throughout the album) given to the band by a female roady (and hardcore fan) who had passed away. The lyrics are written from her perspective as she looks down from Heaven in hopes to help those grieving for her. It is a beautiful tune and Keith's vocals just cry out with passion which feel more powerful knowing the story behind the song. It was truly written from the heart and performed with the kind of love that carries beyond death. It's absolutely amazing.

"Mind Games" is a fine album and Eternity X has a great sense for melody and song structure. They know how to bring the right feel to their music. They are one of my favourite bands, and I've just discovered that Keith Sudano is getting a new line-up together and will be releasing a new album hopefully in the fall! YYYAAAAAA!!!!!

Coming up next in my "X" theme is Symphony X, now here is a Dream Theatre clone. But they are good. I'll going on vacation in a couple of days, but I hope to have another post before I do ... We'll see.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Xtreme Luv!

Exousia is a Mexican Christian Extreme metal band, with progressive tendencies. I first discovered them whilst browsing Christian metal sites and found the album "Welcome to the Kingdom of Light" on Kazaa. Well all but the one song that got me to download their album in the first place. "Bebed Mi Sangra" (Drink My Blood) I had heard a sample of it and I loved it and then could not find a complete version of it. I was upset. Oh sure the rest of the album is good, but I REALLY liked this song. After waiting patiently, my favourite source for Hard hitting Christian music Blastbeats received more copies and I bought it. I don't know much about the band, but they makes good progressive extreme music with a spiritual message as bold as Mortification.

The production of "Welcome..." is a little thin, but it's mixed well enough and the guitars feel thick on tracks like "Extreme Love" and "Puede's Confiar" the later being the heaviest song on the album. Songs like "Yo Creo En Dios" and "Covenant" are fast and have a Believer feel to them.
"Salvation" is lyrically passionate and both this track and the Title track are musically uplifting with nice mixes of piano and guitars.

The 2 stand out tracks are "Bebed Mi Sangra" and "Extreme Love". I'm sure you loyal readers guessed that. Now your probably thinking " these are ballad like and slow?!? What's up with that?" Well sure, I like the rest of the album with it's heavy progressiveness, but there is something about these 2 songs that stirs a lot of emotions. For starters "Bebed Mi Sangra" is a piano driven song with hauntingly chilling soprano vocals sung in Spanish. A guitar kicks in part way through using power chords to enhance hopeful upliftingness of the song. Absolutely brilliant. The band Deborah also has this song on their demo EP, I don't know if this was a joint effort or not , but it is a great song and should appear wherever possible.

My favourite song is "Extreme Love" because it is both a great extreme metal tune as well as emotionally stirring and uplifting. The song is a mix of piano, acoustic and electric guitars. The piano is very melodic and with the acoustic accompaniment makes for a very sweet feel. The electric guitar kicks in with a powerfully uplifting riff that carries through the song. The chorus's is what I love most about the song. To the music of piano and acoustic guitar there is a duet of soprano female and death metal vocals that is beautiful in it's contrast and something I hadn't heard yet. It's unsettling and heartfelt all at once. The song is epic in feel and passionate in its praise for Jesus. Exousia is a fine band and I'll be reviewing another of their albums later on.

Up next I'll featuring some "X" bands. Let's see if you can guess which ones!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I'm Just Tired Of Fighting For You ...

I thought for this entry I would feature Tomorrow's Rescue' song "Leaving The Ring". The reasons are: I don't think T.R. ever had an album released (let me know if they did, I think they're great.) and that it is a wicked tune! I've only heard about 4 or 5 songs by the band and in my opinion "Leaving The Ring" is clearly their best track. I discovered this band while searching for Travail band information (I can't remember if one of Travail's members started the group or joined) and downloaded 3 tracks from, "Leaving The Ring" was one of them.

This is a great song. What else can I say?
The song starts off with an unsettling guitar riff that carries through the verses, adding little touches of hope (melody). The singer whose name eludes me and who I think has left the band now (correct me if I'm wrong) has a wonderful anguish in his voice, a kind of desperation that enhances the content of the lyrics. As the song leads into the chorus, a second vocal track bursts in screaming "I'm just Tired ..." and then overlaps in the regular vocals with "... Fighting for you ...". It's truly a heart wrenching moment where the protagonist has reached their breaking point and has just thrown in the towel.

At this point I should comment about the beautiful metaphor Tomorrow's Rescue uses for this song. "Leaving The Ring" is about a person who is struggling with a relationship that's falling apart and is torn emotionally. They love the other still, but can't keep living with the way things are. The song makes no reference to boxing, which is brilliant. The title says it all.

The chorus crescendo's with melody and then the song all but repeats itself, with minor lyrical changes. "Leaving The Ring" builds the anguish, tension and heart ache with its repetitiveness. The bridge of the song, which I compare to the protagonist finally accepting the relationship is over, slows down its pace musically while the vocalist cries out in pain which contrasts to the melodic guitarwork. Then it erupts in a fury of emotion, of a person torn between love and feeling foolish.

If you ever get a chance to hear this song, do it. It is phenomenal. You just don't get passionate songs like this that often. Speaking of passionate songs, up next I'll be reviewing Exousia's "Welcome To The Kingdom of Light" album. If you remember in a previous post about Tourniquet I mentioned Exousia's "Extreme Love" song and the passion wrought in it. But what I didn't mention was "Bebed Mi Sangra". But you have to wait to hear what I gots to say about that.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

An Image Is Worth A Thousand Words ...

Dream Theater is my favourite band. There I said it. And that's not easy since I already said that Savatage was. Seriously though, Dream Theater is up there in my list of all time fave's. When one hears of Progressive Metal, it will inevitably link to Dream Theater. They may not be the pioneer, but their influence is unmistakable in such acts as Symphony X and Pagan Mind to name just a couple. Today I'll talk about "Images and Words" Dream Theater's 2nd album and first with new vocalist James Labrie.

I bought this album for the song "Pull Me Under" which I caught on Much Music's Power Hour (I miss power hour) and it was my first experience into the world of Progressive Metal. After one spin in the old cassette player, I didn't listen to it again for like a year. I don't know why. I love "Pull Me Under" but I think I was daunted by the off timed epic-ness of the album. I found the tape again and decided that since I bought the dang thing, I should give it another shot. And it grew on me. So much that I'd eagerly anticipate new albums (up to 2 years at times!) and read up in all kinds of magazines about the band. Sure some will say that an album should hook you in right away and that's good, but there's something about listening to an album and discovering new and exciting bits that perhaps you didn't notice at first; Little nuances that let you experience the album for the "first time" with each repeated listen.

Images and Words opens with "Pull Me Under" which is one of my favourite tracks. "Pull..." has a catchy and killer heavy riff that just makes you wanna bang your head. The Keyboards add a very nice freaky feel and the song ends suddenly which gives the track an appropriate feeling of being pulled under. Nice touch. The signature Dream Theater sound is very prominent on the songs "Take The Time" and "Under A Glass Moon". And things are slowed down with progressive metal ballads (?) like "Another Day" with it's intricate melodies, great solo and a touch of Saxophone, though James Labrie's vocals feel a little strained on this track. "Waiting For Sleep" is a lovely piano driven piece, but my favourite ballad is "Surrounded". This song has a great intro with piano and strings and labries vocals shine out on this track. John Petrucci's guitarwork is phenomenal in the sense that he plays to the song and not to excess, though he let's loose with a beautiful solo. "Surrounded" plays out like a picture, very visually stimulating.

The 2 stand-out tracks for me are "Learning To Live" and "Metropolis pt.1 - The Miracle and The Sleeper". "Learning..." is the longest song on the album, clocking in at over 11 minutes, but it never gets boring. This song feels like a lesson in life as you listen, with dark elements and upbeat parts that all blend together to reminds us that life is worth living. At the 7:10 minute mark Petrucci blasts us with a heart wrenching yet uplifting guitar riff/solo that almost brings me to tears every time I here it, but I don't cry cause I'm a man and men don't cry, so let's say it makes my eyes water like there's something in it ... let's leave it at that.

My favourite track, if I had to choose, would be "Metropolis Pt.1 ... " simply because I consider it to be the most diverse track and also that it is a fine example of a progressive metal song that's both technically proficient and emotionally moving. The song has a doomy hopefulness to it that gives us an uneasy feeling before it bursts into a chaotic mind bending instrumental that Dream theater is famous for and would become there trademark feature. It's heavy yet doesn't compromise melody, thanks in part to Labries beautiful vocals. Metropolis part II would become album of its own (and a fantastic one at that! reviewed later).

I read somewhere once that if Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Wagner and I don't know (insert another famous composer here) were alive today , they would be Dream Theater an I believe that to be a very accurate statement. The musicianship of all the members is phenomenal. Kevin Moore and John Petrucci's simultaneous guitar/ keyboard solo's are awe inspiring. Mike Portnoy's drum work is staggering and Labries vocals soar. As with most bassists John Myung's guitar work goes unnoticed on the album (at least to the untrained bass ear) but watching him live you can see he's not just poses or a background player.

Though this is not my favourite Dream Theater album, I consider it a must have for any metal head whether you like Progressive or not.

Up next will be a post that's a little different, but something I'll probably throw in the blog every once and a while. Stay tuned!

Friday, June 09, 2006

System Of The Down ... I mean System Is Down

Hi Loyal readers!

I apologize for the lack of posts, but I just need more time! The blogger system is being a little wonky and I'm having trouble uploading images, so patience my little padawans and I'll post for you soon ... I just don't want a subpar posting, only top quality from me thank you ...

... Hopefully soon ...

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Tardiness is a flavour I could do without ....

It's now been a week without a post and I apologize. I've been on vacation and have too busy. I have not stopped listening to my music or even stopped buying new music, I just haven't made review notes and such, so bare with a couple more days, and I'll be back on track. Till then, check my two new links! Carl is a loyal reader and one of the first (Thanx Carl!) His record collection is more up your alley Nole's and Middletoe, and is quite insightful. Cross Metal is one I've just discovered (and by discovered I mean Lex left me a comment and I check his blog out) and is about Christian Metal, though more on updates of bands and music old and new. It's very informative.

And as always there is Useless Men. I'm a contributor on this blog (I'm One Useless Brother!)along with 5 others and the daily posts (sans weekends) are always funny. I may be contributor, but I'm also a loyal reader!

Be back soon!