Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Soundtrack For Hallowe’en …

Dee Snider (of Twisted Sister fame) has developed the first official (self proclaimed) Soundtrack for Hallowe’en. In an interview on the official Van Helsing’s Curse website he said that he saw a Trans-Siberian Orchestra show and really liked it. TSO have done 3 Christmas concept albums using new material and transposing traditional Christmas carols into a theatrical masterpiece of rock opera. Dee Snider decided that Hallowe’en needed that kind of treatment and so was born Van Helsing’s Curse. The style is very much like Trans-Siberian Orchestra, but darker and more sinister. The theatrics and majestic sound is there as well as some TSO musicians (Al Pitrelli and Mark Wood to name a couple).

Van Helsing’s Curse is a concept album about the war of good verses evil, if I were to simplify it. My interpretation is that at the core of the story, evil will always be around and will always be combated by good, an eternal war. The story is narrated by Dee Snider himself who brings a very menacing tone and a darkness that I found unrecognizable from the Dee I remember who fronted Twisted Sister. Who knew he had a great voice for evil … or how ignorant am I not to realize that. There are no lyrics except for the story, but there is some fine choral chanting and soprano solos that enhance the brooding sinister ness of the album. “Oculus Infernum” borderlines cheesy, but it doesn’t quite breach it. The music is quite dark and heavy and well … just plain good.

The album begins with “Patience (Intro)” which sets the mood with Dee’s evil narrative and spooky underscore. Then we are welcomed into “Tubular Hell” which is freakin’ heavy and dark. We get haunting orchestrations and eerie chanting and the deep bells chiming, I love those deep bells. There is also a solo piece of Edvard Grieg’s “In The Hall Of The Mountain King”.

“All Fall Down” continues the evil heaviness with a sweetly sinister violin solo by Mark Wood and his electric violin. Mark continues to shine on “Let Me Prey” which is melodic leading into the heaviest cover of Carl Orff’s “O Fortuna” I heard since TSO began playing it live at their concerts. Incredible.

“The Child” is a heavy bass-pounding piece with brooding chants and touches of Holst’s “Mars, Bringer Of War”. It features a nice sax solo and I think Kenny G’s darker side…?

“The Tortured Soul” is doom laden metal with more ambient touches and dark orchestral version of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”. This is clearly the sweetest piece on the album. “Revenge” is very soundtrack-like and the most like Tran-Siberian Orchestra, and “War” essentially is Holst’s “Mars, Bringer of War” … very dark.

One stand out track is “Let The Pain Begin” which does some fine work with Black Sabbath’s “Black Sabbath”. They do a heavy instrumental that would make Sabbath proud as well as a dark orchestral version with Mark Wood’s signature violin and soprano vocals singing the melody line. It’s really well done. “Oculus Infernum” ends with Dee Snider’s narrative wrap up and evil ambient underscore on “The Curse”. A fine package of Halloween spookiness. If I had to choose, I’d pick “Let Me Prey” as my favourite…I just love “O Fortuna”, but “Let The Pain Begin” is a very close second. Coming up, I’ll be transitioning from Halloween into metal that’s just as dark, but further from the cheese line.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Rocky Horror Picture Show ... Without The Transvestite ...

Continuing with my Halloween theme, today I'll be featuring Iced Earth who have been known for incorporating horror themes throughout their career, but now have an album as a tribute in itself to Halloween.

Iced Earth is a metal band that needs no introduction. At least in my opinion, but I've come to realize that there are a lot of great metal bands out there and some I've never even heard of, so with that.... Iced Earth is Florida based metal band who, despite early comparisons to Iron Maiden (but then who wasn't ...) forged their own sound and distinct brand of traditional metal. Not quite thrash, but not quite power metal either. What they are is a solid heavy metal band with a thick heavy sound.

First off I'd like to comment on 2 covers that Iced Earth have done. "The Ripper" which is about Jack the Ripper is a Judas Priest cover and is a pretty faithful version. Iced Earth's signature thick heavy sound is here and Matthew Barlow's operatic baritone wails fits nicely with their cover. The other is Iron Maiden's "Transylvania" which is featured on "Horror Show" is a blistering instrumental that musically transports you through the dark mysteries that surround this historical region of Romania. Maiden's tune is expert and Iced Earth do a faithful rendition with their brand of added thickness. Now on to the rest of "The Horror Show".

The album starts off with "Wolf" which is about ... you guessed it ... werewolves/wolfman and doesn't waste much time before hitting us with a wicked galloping riff and blasting drums. And here we are treated to Barlow's baritonic wail of vocals which go from smooth almost Bowie like, but deeper, baritone to your standard power metal wailing. He does have a good sense of timing and a diverse vocal range.

"Damien" is an epic song based on The Omen and is clearly the darkest most sinister song on the album and one of my favourites. It starts with dark operatic choral vocals and orchestration (much like Burnt Offerings "Dante's Inferno") which gets transitioned by a sinister acoustic bridge into a dark and killer guitar riff which ties this 9 min + epic together. Barlow shines here and the operatic/guitar mix outro is very nice.

"Jack" is the first Iced Earth song I heard. I got a sampler CD free with my purchase of either Tad Morose, or Onward, or maybe both, either way Iced Earth's "Jack" was the first song on there and I loved it. The song is about Jack The Ripper and is a sinisterly fast piece of pummalling guitars and drums. The dark bridge is a nice touch and Barlow shows some real passion and emotion on this song.

"The Ghost Of Freedom" is a power ballad which isn't too bad, but is kinda forgettable. I'm not sure of the story behind it either. It's my least favourite track. Don't get me wrong, though, it's not a bad song, but it feels a little out of place here.

Then we are treated with the ethnic flavoured "Im-Ho-Tep (The Pharoah's Curse)" which is ... yup, Mummy's and it show's Iced Earth's flare for capturing cultural styles while keeping their sound. It's a crunchy heavy song.

"Jeckyl And Hyde" is a fast song with acoustic intro, but has the distinction of Barlow doing a dual vocal attack of both signature baritone and metal wail each representing a personality. All this over some nice military style drum work. They create a very passionate song and some fine guitar work.

"Dragon's Child" is , I'm pretty sure, about the creature from the black lagoon, and is crunchy power metal song. It doesn't really stand out much, but it is a descent track.

We are then brought back to life with "Frankenstein" which has a killer riff and is dark and sinister. This is, I would say, my favourite song. It is catchy and memorable and heavy. Barlow sings in a narrative style vocal technique whilst interjecting his wail as needed and brings across a real sense of the self righteousness that surely Dr. Frankenstein felt while playing god. A real passionate tune.

"Dracula" is a sinisterly romantic metal song, but it ain't no ballad! It starts with a melodic acoustic intro and hypnotic vocalings. Then we get snapped out of our trance with some sweet shrieking metal wails and some fine fast riffing. It's a catchy song and features an almost operatic chorus.

The last track is another epic song about the Phantom of the Opera. Again it starts with an acoustic intro (a signature style of Iced Earth)but then becomes a theatrical power metal song with dual vocals of Matthew Barlow and Yunhui Percifield as Christine. "The Phantom Opera Ghost" is a majestic song full of passion and Barlow really shows his talents here. The bridge is nice and the solo is underscored with some earth shaking drum beats. A fine way to end this album.

Iced Earth is a great band and I should note Jon Schaffer (Key songwriter and only member who has stayed with the band throughout its run)has a great sense for riff structure and songwriting. But I'll admit the new vocalist Tim Owens is just not as good as Matthew Barlow (who left to do law enforcement administration?!? after this album) But Schaffer is the keeper of the strong unique Iced Earth sound. They have thrash-like intensity with the technical precision of power metal. This is my favourite Iced Earth album and is a real treat for any fan of horror or metal. Up next and just in time for Halloween. The self proclaimed Soundtrack for Halloween ... Van Helsing's Curse ...

BOO ....

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Music You Can Sink Your Teeth Into ...

Well Halloween is almost upon us and I thought I'd celebrate the holiday by reviewing a few Halloween related albums. I only have a few albums and no, one of them is not the Halloween soundtrack (though that would be highly appropriate). Mind you the Halloween theme is one of the coolest and most recognizable themes. No, today I'll be starting the holiday theme with Francis Ford Coppola's "Bram Stoker's Dracula" soundtrack.

The music for the film was composed by Wojciech Kilar who also composed music for 2002's "The Pianist" and 1999's "The Ninth Gate" with Johnny Depp. He mostly composes for foreign films. There are few soundtracks that can enhance a film, yet stand alone as an album of original music. "Conan The Barbarian" and "Dragonheart" are 2 other soundtracks that are great works of music. "Bram Stoker's Dracula" starts us off with "Dracula: The Beginning" which gives a sampling of the dark and brooding, sinister and chilling music of the movie. It starts off slow and brooding, then introduces shrieking horns and melodic cellos. The song ends with haunting choral vocals and soprano solo's which lead into "Vampire Hunters". This song drives us with galloping style strings and deep choral chanting. A very sinister and evil song who's melody is carried through on "The Storm" and "The Hunters Prelude".

There is also a musical jewelry box feel to some of the music like "Lucy's Party", "The Brides" and as well as bits in "The Storm". These are sweetly sinister tunes. Lovely but slightly off-kilter. We also have the love theme that carries through from "Mina's Photo", "Love Remembered", "Mina/Dracula" and "Love Eternal". All these songs have sinister undertones. They are sweet and melodic with lovely use of harp, violins and cellos, but still chill with a haunting eeriness. "Mina/Dracula" is the one song that kinda sounds cliche.

"The Hunt Builds" is a transitional reprise of "Vampire Hunters" while "The Green Mist" is an eerie, chilling transitional piece. "The Ring Of Fire" is an ambient evil song with sounds of gorging and fighting and sinister laughing intermixed with brooding accompaniment. The movie portion of the soundtrack ends with "Ascension" which is sweetly angelic A cappella choral vocals. Then we end with "End Credits" which reprises most of the themes throughout the album. The music here goes from dark and brooding to sweetly sinister and upliftingly melodic that is slightly askew. It is a very evil sounding album which makes for great Halloween music.
The final track on the album is Annie Lennox's "Love Song For A Vampire" which is a powerfully uplifting song. It uses breathy keyboards and a variety of percussions to accompany Annie's distinct and strong vocals. The songs builds with a new agey style to a majestic climax then breaks and eases out. A very passionate tune, and seeing as vampires tend to be passionate creatures, very appropriate tune. The song would be great as its own single, but works well for this soundtrack. I plan on featuring Annie Lennox at some point. I don't own any albums, but she is such a powerful singer.

I don't remember much of the film, but I can pick out the music when used in different movie trailers. So, if you're having any Halloween parties, give this album a spin. Coming up next I'll be reviewing Iced Earth's "Horror Show".

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Secular Music With Christian Tendencies ...

I thought I would end this run of Christian music reviews with Evanescence. They have made it perfectly clear that they are NOT a Christian band, but their songs, however, do feature spiritual themes. I thought at first that this was kind of tacky and alienating, but being labeled a Christian band simply because you deal with faith and spirituality in a positive way can be very career limiting in today's music scene. Frankly, that is a shame. Especially when some Christian bands lyrics are so vague it's hard to even tell anymore. Suicidal Tendencies and Soulfly can be quite bold with positive spiritual themes, but no one would ever call them Christian bands. It had to be tough to make such a decision especially one that shouldn't even matter. There are no Athiest metal bands out there, they're just called metal bands. Your personal beliefs shouldn't matter, and they certainly shouldn't get you labeled.

I first discovered Evanescence on some Christian music review sites and downloaded a few tracks on Kazaa and liked what I heard. I was completely unaware of the whole controversy and actually bought the album at the big HMV, thinking it wasn't readily available at many stores. How ignorant was I, I could have saved myself about $4 at Futureshop. They bloody well went triple platinum with "Fallen" .... which is what I'll be reviewing now.

"Fallen" starts off with the powerful "Going Under" which, I'll just say now, is my favourite song. Surprisingly this was like the 3rd or 4th single, but since "Bring Me To Life" was featured in Daredevil it got first dibs. "Going Under" I feel is a far superior tune. It has a cool, hooky riff with their signature piano/heavy guitar riff mix which gives the music a very gothic feel. The chorus is powerful and very catchy and Amy Lee's vocals are haunting and shine with emotional stirrings that we'll be treated to throughout this album.

The music on "Fallen" is power pop metal with gothic/industrial hints added for flavour. "Bring Me To Life", "Haunted" and Imaginary" are heavy, haunting tunes with spooky keyboards and gothic feel. Some industrial stylings here add some spookiness. "Everybody's Fool", "My Last Breath" and "Whisper" all feature catchy riff work and some angelic style keyboards, with the album closer "Whisper" being slighty more darker and ending in full orchestration. I think "My Last Breath" would have made a better more memorable closer, but "Whisper" is more majestic.

Other than my album favourite "Going Under", the other 2 notable tracks are "Tourniquet" and "My Immortal". "Tourniquet" which I think most people are unaware of is a cover of Christian death metal band Soul Embraced's "My Tourniquet". The song introduced to the band by Soul Embraced's (now Evanescence) drummer Rocky Gray. Evanescence version is more gothic and obviously not as heavy, but a very faithful rendition all the same and very haunting thanks to Amy Lee's vocals. The band also added a second verse and really made it their own. "My Immortal" is a piano driven piece that is a very haunting song both chilling and heartfelt. Loads of passion. The band also recorded a "full band" version with added guitars and drums, and though its cool, the bare bones original is far more passionate and heartfelt.

Evanescence have put together a fine catchy album with "Fallen" in which even the filler songs are good. After a couple of years of turmoil they have finally released their follow-up album "The Open Door". But with the departure of major songwriter Ben Moody and label problems is it a move forward from their debut? Well this jury is still out, but will review at a later date. First thoughts though ... no it's not, but I need some more time. Coming up I'll be removing a few Halloween flavoured albums. Sooooo .... Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

If Pantera Were A Christian Band ...

Fasedown are a Christian Metalcore band who play some pretty brutal metal. There is a definite Pantera influence as well as some Living Sacrifice. But despite those influences, Fasedown manage to keep their sound original. Unlike say Eternal Decision who damn near mimicked Metallica before switching to Godsmack. Mind you they had a couple killer tunes. Today, however, I'll be reviewing Fasedown's self-titled debut. Featuring members from Deliverance, The Crucified and The Blamed all who wanted to move in a new more modern metal direction, or so it would seem because Fasedown is nothing like any of the ex bands these members were from. What we have here is a brutal metal treat that is furious and bone crushingly heavy.

"Fasedown" is heavy freakin' metalcore, no fancy solos here, just flat out brutality. Right from the crushing opener "Abolished" to the fast and furious album closer "Time". "Abolished" has some funky bass work and "Time" is Sepultura-like and almost death metal at times. "Seven" is the stand out Pantera influenced song and it's a killer tune.

The bone crushing songs are "Hypocrite", the funky and fast "Broken" and the flat out headbanger "Genetic Rage". "Prelude" is an acoustic/clean electric Slayer-like picker which is a beautiful lead into the heavy and dark "Chapter Six" which one of my favourites. "Memoirs Of A Modern Judas" is heavy and dark while almost black metal in intensity, a wicked tune.

Although this album is entirely fantastic, I'll pick "The Almighty" as my favourite track. It has a cool intro and some pummeling riffwork. And there's no doubt that this song is a shout out to God Almighty as it ends with heavy riffing repetitive lyrics ~Praise You, Praise You!~. The other song I wanted to make special mention of is "Genocide: 1915". This song is about the Armenian Genocide by the Turk's. I won't go on about the controversy surrounding this, but it was only after reading an article on Orlando Bloom in Reader's Digest that I realized what this song was about. He's doing a film about this particular topic. I only downloaded this album off iTunes so never had a CD jacket or anything to reference. It's a heavy dark tune, even more so now that I know the subject matter.

Fasedown have put out a brutally heavy album with very catchy songs. They are openly Christian and it comes out it the songs, but I never get the feeling it's preachy. I highly recommend this for any listeners of Thrashy metalcore. Well up next is ... I don't know ... I have a couple options so I'll surprise ya's!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

An Apple A Day ....

Greg Minier the guitarist from The Crucified recorded a couple of side projects while working with The Crucified. One was called Minier which from what I've heard is a thrash album in which he performs all the instruments (I've never heard it, I think it is pretty rare) and a project called Applehead which he as well performs all the instruments, but this time he brought in some guest musicians. The only album released "Meaning" I'll be reviewing here. I should state that I only have a downloaded version of the album off of Kazaa, but like the Minier project, this album is a hard one to find.

Applehead is quite different than The Crucified. The music here is more of a dirty rock. Some say there are doom influences, but I find there's not enough to really group it as that. Maybe I just don't know enough doom music. "Meaning" kicks off with a very hooky riff and mid-paced rocker that is "Revolutionary". It's catchy and groovy with some nice solo work. "Crutch", "SOT" and "Revelation" are all hooky groove laden dirty rock tunes.

The doom influences as far as I can tell come out on "Six Feet Under" which is almost thrash like in chunkiness and "Eyes Of A Foolish Man". Other styles present are the bluesy ballads, such as "Thoughts" and the title track "Meaning" which are smooth, sweet and melodic. tAnd the power metal stylings of "Monkey On My Back" and the Iced Earth influenced mellow rocker "Intermittent You" which closes out the album.

The stand out tracks here are the instrumental "Revelation" which is melodic and features some uplifting guitar work. My favourite song is "Crutch" which as I said is a catchy rock song, but it also has a melodic moving bridge and an inspiring guitar solo accompanied by rhythm acoustic guitar and organ. It's really quite nice.

I wouldn't call Greg Minier a virtuoso or anything, but he does craft some pretty catchy songs here. I think I prefer his punky/thrashier side though. This album is spiritual, but that is not the focus which leads me to think that perhaps he wanted to take The Crucified in another direction and may be impart what lead to their disbanding. But that's just my thoughts. Coming up next ... if Pantera were a Christian band...?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

They Are Directed Youth

The Crucified were a punk/thrash hybrid band similar to "Crossover" era DRI. Their earlier demos were more punk. "The Crucified" their self titled debut album is where the thrash elements come out more. More accurately though they sound like early Suicidal Tendencies mixed with early Deliverance (the Christian thrash band).

The album starts off with slow chunkiness on "The Pit" before the S.T. style blistering chorus breaks in. This sets the stage for albums style. Slow, fast, fast, slow. It doesn't have a lot of variation, but it's a good and solid punky thrash album. It's got heavy crunchy guitar riffing, blistering solos and freakin' fast thrash.

With "Unity", "A Guy In A Suit and the Pope", "Rise" and "One Demon To Another" you're treated to fine fast thrashy songs complete with wailing solos and crisp, charged vocals by Mark Saloman. Guitarist Greg Minier may not be breaking new ground here, but he throws together some excellent riffs and catchy hooks. Greg's playing is better defined on his side project Applehead (which is more like doom rock and will be reviewed here later). The punk influence comes out on songs "Your Image" and "Confidence" with the later having an almost Anthem rock feel.

The stand out tracks here are "Getting A Grip On Things" which is groove laden. "Hellcorn" and "The Insult Circus" which have a darker edge to them and a call and answer vocal styling. The album closer sums up the bands purpose with a punk like shout out of ~United, united in Christ (repeated)~ which is what the bands goal was, to glorify God. My favourite song I would say is "Your Image" which is a punky thrash tune with groove influences. The song itself isn't much different from most other tracks but I like the subject of the lyrics which are about ego and image centric. Of people more concerned about what people think of them that they would push aside their own beliefs ~You turned your back on God, to be a crowd pleaser~ The lyric comes out crisp and clear, it just hangs in the air with you a while before you focus back onto the song.

Ironically, the band broke up and album or so later due to spiritual differences in relation to the bands future. "The Crucified" is a good album, and I love their early punk work, but the band really came together on "The Pillars Of Humanity" album, which unfortunately I only have about 2/3 of by downloading ... ya I know ... but it's hard to find .... ah well, coming are a couple more spiritual based bands before I get into the Halloween spirit.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Put Your Knee In The Dirt ...

Focused are one of the other early spirit-filled hardcore bands on tooth and nail records, another pioneer of sorts for Christian hardcore music scene. Though I find Unashamed a rawer and more aggressive hardcore band, I like Focused more. They incorporate a lot of groove and more of a thrash sound with their riff work. The vocals are gruff and punk like, but more legible and very fitting for the heavy riffing.

If I may quote the opening and title track ~You've made yourself your God and now God will make you a vessel of wrath. Wipe the tears from our eyes, erase the fear from your heart put your knee in the dirt and bow to the God that holds your blood red destiny in the palm of his awesome hands.
Pretty heavy stuff spoken with conviction accompanied only by some wind and ambient sounds and pretty much establishes the focus of the album. The music kicks in with "Forever" which is a mid-paced groove laden thrashy tune. It's a passionately dark tune and pulls you right into the album. It's one of the stand out tracks. The album is considered hardcore, but the music features an number of acoustic bridges/interludes which is not that common to hardcore and adds a lot of melody. I feel this is more of a thrash metal album.. "Forever" is a fine example as is "Falling Down" and "Perfect Will".

This becomes more apparent on songs like "Forward", "Behold" and "Strain" which adds a little eerie guitar riffing for atmosphere, but these tracks are solid headbanging thrash tunes. Things get sped up with "Walk Beside Me" and "Blinded" along with various tempo changes. Not a lot of variant here and what separates this from the thrash metal category is the lack of solos. Just flat heavy metal riff work to pound your fist and bang your head to. The albums closing track "absence" is a dark angry tune with mid-paced heaviness and vocal repetition of ~The Knowledge of God~ which kind of wraps up what they have been saying throughout the album. Many things change in your life, but faith in God you keep with you always.

The 2 stand out tracks here are "Perfect Will" and "Blinded". "Perfect Will" (my favourite)is a dark aggressive tune with a touch of Suicidal Tendencies in the opening. I love this song because it's powerful and heartfelt. The lyrics are stirring and for me represent my own way of life. ~I will no longer conform to the patterns of this world~ is a bold statement and as someone who does not conform, but walks to his own tune, it speaks volumes. You can be strong in faith and not be weak of mind. ~Lord you are my Healer, Provider, Redeemer~ I am imperfect and I look to God for peace and guidance. The passion of this song is immense and I find solace in it.

Though "Blinded" is not my favourite track, it is the song I find myself humming to cause it's stuck in my head. This is the fastest song on the album and is groove-laden and thrashy. It is also technically rapcore. Halfway through the song, it breaks down into one killer guitar riff and then the vocalist breaks out a gruff rap styling verse which then passes off to another member who passes off to a third party before bringing the song back into some mid-paced heavy outro. It's very catchy and reminiscent of the Beastie Boys. I'm not adverse to rapcore as long as it's driven by some killer guitar work.

Focused have put out a heavy memorable album here and as their name states are focused on their job. To spread the word of God. They are directed youth ... as are The Crucified who are coming up next.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Angry Feel Good Music

Unashamed are one of the forerunners of spirit-filled hardcore music. They play flat out brutal and heavy music with a strong Christian message. Today I'll be reviewing Unashamed's second release "Silence". The album title is a little misleading since "Silence" is nothing but. It is one of the noisiest crunchiest albums I own. Unlike some of the other early Christian hardcore like NIV and Focused, Unashamed sound rawer and dirtier. The music is noisy and almost sloppy in sound. It's simple and loud and heavy. No fancy solos here or moody emotional interludes, but one heck of a lot of passion!

"Silence" gets us started with "Gain" a mid paced crunchy song which then leads into the more chaotic sounding "Neverend". The music is mostly mid-paced riffing with a noisier distortion giving the album a rougher chaotic edge. To go through each song would be repetitive, so I'll group them. "Renewal" and "Substance Abuse" are both mid-paced and heavy. "Sustain" (which is featured on their first album as well) along with the epic "Stand" have a darker edge with touches of eerie melody. The rest of the songs are flat out hardcore! "Break The Chain", "Whose To Blame" and "I Surrender" mix things up with faster riffing mixed with crushing heaviness. "I Surrender" has a spoken intro which sounds a lot like Kory Clarke of Warrior Soul. It is passionate and lyrically bold. As the bands name states, these guys are Unashamed of their Christian roots and are unapologetic about it. Take it or leave, these guys aren't backing down which I feel is what hardcore music is all about. Stand strong to your beliefs and not giving in to social pressure.

My Favourite track is "Blessed Redeemer". This has a killer riff and is brutally heavy. A real fist pounder! And it just exudes passion!

Of all the Christian hardcore bands I feel Unashamed by definition epitomize Angry Feel Good Music. It's raw and brutal and Jeff's vocals are gruff and passionate. It sounds so angst ridden, but the lyrics are so up-lifting. It makes for a rather interesting listening experience. Up next, I'll review a close runner-up in Focused's "Bow"