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Music and DVD Reviews: Asia, Black Light Burns, Castle, Earthen Grave, Ihsahn, and Pink Floyd

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This week we have a mixed bag of disc reviews and a DVD documentary.

Asia are back with an album called XXX which marks their 30th anniversary. As you might expect, the reinvigorated supergroup have produced another competent set of prog pop. The highlight of this release has to be the song “Judas,” which hints at their first few albums. Incidentally it is the most up-tempo track on here. Very much a better album than their last post-reunion release. A bit of a grower, but rewarding just the same.

Wes Borland’s Black Light Burns is back with their album The Moment You Realize You’re Going to Fall and it is just as odd as you might expect from him. This is a very odd mixture of metal and electronica which takes a while to get used to. However, a bit of persistence is rewarded with quite an aural adventure. Not for everyone but good for the curious.

Imagine if Joan Jett fronted a metal band instead of her hard rock troupe. That is pretty much what Castle sounds like on their release Blacklands, with a touch of doom and gloom for good measure. This is great stuff that gets under you skin and stays there. Initially it didn’t do much for me, but after a few listens and I got it. They call themselves “witch thrash” and I can sort of see it.

Speaking of witches there is always the great track “Burning a Sinner” from Earthen Grave on their debut album. Earthen Grave is a great collection of violin-infused doom metal that has a Scandinavian tinge about it, despite being from an American band. Songs are at times as beautiful as they are mournful, just check out “Blood Drunk”. A rewarding record for the patient and aural observant. You might call it doom prog.

Ihsahn is back with a new album Eremita and it is the extreme progressive metal you have come to expect from this guy. Needless to say fans will eat this up as they do all his recordings. As with anything in this genre you have to be in the right mood to get into it. That said, it’s not as easy to get into as his last effort.

Pink Floyd has yet another documentary released about the band. This one is titled The Story of Wish You Were Here, which is not surprisingly about the making of the album of the same name. Despite Pink Floyd’s story being told and retold, this DVD is very interesting. That is probably because all members of the band appear on it. Bonus features are well worth it and are quite intriguing, with further interviews with the surviving members of the band.

In full this is 90 minutes of well-produced information about one of the band’s best known albums and the follow-up to Dark Side of the Moon. A must for any Floyd fan and an interesting insight into a highly influential group.

On that note it is time to wish you a safe & rocking week.

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