Sunday, November 25, 2007

He Is The One That Scores ...

On Blink-182's debut release on Cargo Records the band hones in the melodic punk sound they would become famous for. "Cheshire Cat" sees the re-recording of some of the better songs from "Buddha" as well as some new songs. Though the quality still sound mildly muddled, it is largely improved.

The toilety humour is ever-present with songs like "Does My Breath Smell", "Ben Wah Balls" and "Depends" but song quality isn't ignored for the jokes. These are fun melodic and hooky. "Just About Done" is a throw away goofy, noisy song predating modern scream-core with a heavier riff. A one off.

Of the re-recordings "Rebecca & Romeo", "Fentoozler" and "Strings" all receive better production while retaining the catchiness and melody. "Strings" however, is a great song except for the damned chorus. It just sounds stupid.

"Wasting Time", "M&M's" and "Peggy Sue" are new songs that punkiliciously catchy and harmonic with great melodies and memorable. The sound is moving towards what would become distinctly Blink-182.

My Favorite songs and the ones that best represent the future Blink sound is the re-recorded version of "Carousel" that opens this album as well with its vamped up guitar/bass intro and edgier sound. Uber melodic and memorable and as I said in the previous post, one of the bands best songs. The track I skip to most though is "Touchdown Boy". The riff work here would become signature on the bands next album "Dude Ranch" and the lyrics are playfully relevant and relatible. A great chorus and very catchy.

"Cheshire Cat" is a huge improvement to the bands sound and significant in the bands future success. However, I still feel this album seems a little too juvenile to the point it seems forced. This would be remedied on "Dude Ranch" with a better balance of toilet humour and heartfelt lyrics as well as a rawer, punkier sound.

That's coming up next Sunday.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Smiling Buddha

For the next several posts I'll be reviewing and discussing the modern pop punk band Blink 182 and their side projects/current projects. I got into Blink 182 right after their release of "Dude Ranch" during college and I have to admit, I've been hooked ever since.

Blink 182, like Green Day play punk sans the political strife and hardcore attitude. Or as I see it. The tend(ed) to stick to teen angst issues, girls and general potty humour.

That's not to say their music was not relevant, if fact I think the reason I enjoyed them so much was their frank honesty and realistic themes. They had fun, but their lyrics were poetic, narrative and personal.

It also helps that they wrote ridiculously catchy punk songs with loads of melody. All this played and performed with conviction and passion.

I'm not going to spend much time on the early albums, but here it goes. Blink's first official record company release (Filter) is "Buddha". This album has poor production quality, though I image far better then "Flyswatter" which was produced in drummers Scott Raynor's basement.

This release is essentially for big fans (my copy was free so I don't mind holding onto it) however, it is relevant in that it has early versions of songs like "Carousel", "Fentoozler" and "Strings" plus more that would be redone for the "Cheshire Cat" release. It also displays, albeit raw, the songwriting talents of Mark Hoppus and Tom Delonge.

For the most part "Buddha" is forgettable and the stand out tracks are those that got re-recorded. This version of "Carousel" is bare-bones and unique in its own right (and one of the bands best songs) "Fentoozler" and "Romeo & Rebecca" are catchy and hint at the Blink 182 style the would become more prominent on later releases. "Time" has a Clash-like ska feel that makes me think the band was still juggling with their sound.

"Buddha" is by no means a terrible album, but unless you are a huge fan, it really is not worth the money. It's not one I tend to listen to since the good songs are done better on "Cheshire Cat".

That's coming up next ...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

That Which Is Breathing Tends To Die

Paramaecium's 4th and last album (sigh) is a gothy doom metal opus and Paramaecium's best since "Exhumed Of The Earth".

Once again, Andrew Tompkins returns with a new line-up for a final outing and puts his all into this outstanding album. "Echoes From The Ground" is another concept album about a man whose questioning his faith in God and in doing so travels overseas to the Holy Land in search of spiritual confirmation. The lyrics are bold, reflective and thought-provoking which enhances the doom somberness.

That's one thing I've always liked about Paramaecium. You can feel the passion of their spirituality boldly in their lyrics, but they are reflective and thought-provoking without being preachy and turn or burn.

"Echoes From The Ground" starts off with a haunting lone violin that pierces the soul and opens you up for the oncoming doom/death assault. "Night Fears Mourning" kicks in with a crushing riff version of the violin melody with an up-lifting and hopeful turn.

"The Chosen Land" also uses violin solo melodies intermixed with the sludgy guitars and death metal vocals. It's rhythmic with some cool drum work. "I" is more gothy with clean male whispers and vocals creating a dark and haunting tune.

"They Tend To Die" is bleak and dark slow crunchy doom song with some female vocals. "My Failing Heart" is hauntingly hooky with a nice mix of death metal vocals and soprano reminiscent of Exousia's "Extreme Love". It's uber catchy to the point of almost poppy. But Not.
"Over The Sea" and the album closer "Echoes" are pretty straight forward doom/death metal tunes. Sludgy and slow.

"Over The Sea" is a little more gothic whereas "Echoes" is a little more eerie with it's use of clean male vocals, violin and female vocals.

Overall, this is a well balanced album with a good mix of vocal stylings. At times I found the death metal vocals monotonous on "Within The Ancient Forest" which I felt was remedied on "A Time To Mourn" and carried through here on "Echoes From The Ground"

It's a shame that the band will no longer be spewing forth slow crushing death/doom dirges, but "Echoes ...." is one Heavenly way to go out.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

They Always Rely Too Much On Me, But They Don't Realize, It's Not Up To Me.

Paramaecium's third outing (not including their "Repentance" EP which I don't have, but would love to get) is a return to the heavy doom dirges as heard on their first album "Exhumed Of The Earth". "A Time To Mourn" however is more accessible with shorter songs and sing a long choruses. The doom is still strong and the melancholy thick with more influence on clean vocals over the death metal style of the earlier albums.

"A Time To Mourn" begins with "A Moment" which like any given moment in life, feels like a snap shot of a song. No real beginning and no real end. I find it fitting that the same melody is used for the album closer "Unceasing". Both songs are melodic and uplifting with angelic female vocals and moving guitars building and fading out without ever feeling complete. ~Life is a moment ... Unceasing~.

And from this moment we fade out to the thrash-like doom tune "I'm Not To Blame". This has a killer riff and is heavy and driving, but also has Paramaecium's doom influences such as the female vocals and clean male vocals. Perhaps its thrash master Ian Arkley's influence, but the solo is nice and the song pummels. This is my favourite song on the album, followed by the epic "Live For The Day" which is the longest song at over 9 minutes, but never lags. The riffs are thrashiliously doomy and the mix of clean male and female vocals with Andrew's death growl create a darkly bleak, but not surprisingly uplifting due to the nice solo work in the middle and towards the end. A doom/death masterpiece. This would be my favourite, but "I'm Not To Blame" is such a killer tune.

Paramaecium's signature sound is still strong on the darker songs like "My Thoughts" which sludges through crushing riffs and death metal vocals. As well as "Betrayed Again" with it's sombre use of flute and violin melodies to accompany the dark and bleak riffs. This song only uses clean male vocals and that enhances the bitter undertones.

"Even The Walls" has the doomy feel of "Betrayed Again" with more of sinister feel and more emphasis on death metal vocals. However, it is more melodically moving and sing a long-ish. "Enter In Time" has a haunting intro before kicking in with a very hooky chorus. The haunting-ness is not lost, but blends nicely with the hooks.

This album is one my favourites and I think that's due to the song writing prowess of Andrew Tompkins doom style and Ian Arkley's thrash roots and frankly the fun drum work of Mark Orr. It all comes together in a very enjoyable doom metal album. A fine listen.

Up next is Paramaecium's last album "Echoes Of The Ground" which caps this bands solid career.