Another week has flown by and the pile grows larger still. Unlike last week’s power metal smorgasbord, this week is more of a mixed bag.
Emerson, Lake & Palmer: Pictures at An Exhibition: Special Edition
Last weekend saw ELP re-unite for the first time in a very long time to play a major metal/hard rock/prog festival in London. This DVD could not be more timely for those wondering what the hell everyone is going on about. Emerson, Lake & Palmer to the excess of the psychedelic era, added their own dashes of virtuosity and took it to the limit. When punk arrived on the rock scene back in the 1970s, it was bands like ELP they were reacting to.
Watching this DVD will clearly demonstrate why teenagers wanted to rebel against this sort of rock and roll. It’s pompous, overblown, and pretentious wavering between the ridiculous and the sublime. There is no doubting these guys have the chops to excel at whatever they do. This is just where virtuosity quite often teeters on the unlistenable. Think Steve Vai taken to the nth degree.
The bonus material consists of a performance on the Belgian show “Pop Show” and it takes a lot to believe the music was ever considered pop. The main disc is fourteen tracks of utter brilliance, total bollocks, or something in between depending on your point of view. Fans of the band will no doubt relish this release, if you have never heard ELP this is hardly the place to start.
Suicidal Angels: Sanctify the Darkness
This is a bunch of young, thrash upstarts on their second full length album. They hail from Greece and purport to pump out thrash in the old traditional way, not the “updated” version as peddled by many of the members of the new age of this kind of music. If you like the brain-dead, head-down metal of bands like Tankard, Kreator, and Napalm Death; these guys are for you.
To me the band tilt more toward the Germanic type of thrash and the English variety. Very little vocals and straight ahead drive. The production on this effort is quite crisp and everything comes across as tight. If any complaint can be made about the band is that it’s a tad one dimensional at times. Little in terms of variety or originality.
This band is like quite a few Greek bands making it to the international stage. There is talent to behold, but the songwriting is just not there yet. With a touch more originality these guys can just arise over the “average” thrash band tag. I am sure they are great live, but on record it’s pleasing if a bit shallow.
Overmaster: Madness of War
Despite the name, this is neither death nor black metal, but some rather good Italian sourced, melodic power-metal. What? You thought I would write a column without some power metal sprinkled in? Yeah right. While this release might not set the world alight, it’s a competent enough affair that does satisfy, especially after repeated listens.
There is a level of virtuosity of guitars and keyboards that can be quite enticing. The only weakness, if a minor one, at that is that rather mundane vocals. It’s possible it’s the mix, that favours the guitars, but the vocals seem rather flat and uninspired. Songwriting is decent and there is some variety on here to keep things interesting. It’s a very Italian feel to all of that avoids the more marching elements of the much of the German power metal that obviously inspired the band. There is far more flair than exists on many a Germanic power metal release.
The band which features a couple out of the band White Skull have clearly produced a much better than average debut album. Given a bit of a chance it will certainly satisfy a melodic, metal itch in a satisfying way. Yet another new bunch on the radar to keep you eye on.
This is a Polish band that produces a fine line in progressive metal. This is more towards the Opeth spectrum rather than the Dream Theater variety. It’s clever without being po-faced and dull and has all those wonderful breaks and changes you would expect from a good band of the genre. “Glassy Essence” almost has a Marillion vibe to it at times. What most helps this band is that the vocalist actually can sing.
As you would expect from this sort of band, the sounds are epic in scale and create vistas in the mind. Like any good album in the genre, it takes a few listens to really sink in and take hold. I rather doubt that anyone who likes progressive metal will dislike this album. The band has obviously done their bit in getting right rather than quick. What is most intriguing is that rather than release some long-winded CD, it clocks in at under fifty minutes. Because of its brevity, which is after all the soul of wit, it much easier to give the listens to really appreciate its majesty.
If you are looking for insta-love then this might not be the release for you. However some time invested in it will produce satisfaction you will appreciate. Quality progressive metal from Poland is here. Check this out before they go huge.
That is your lot for the week. Stay tuned next week for some more frock metal as well as another healthy touch of sleaze. Stay safe and rocking as always.