A weekend in DC at a conference was a bit of mixed blessing. It allowed me plenty of time getting there and back to listen to some review music, but made it hard to write a column. I apologize for this tardy column.
Brainstorm: Memorial Roots
A bunch of German power-metallers that release solid material. This hits all the right markers of quality for the genre. It's melodic, meticulously played, and well performed. What is lacking a bit is that extra bit that takes it from decent to great. It's almost hard to quantify what is missing from this release. Much of it seems contrived and by the numbers.
This is the type of release where you find yourself listening to it for a couple of times and then moving on to something else. It’s a temporary satisfaction that doesn’t stand the test of time. It is, however, the perfect stop gap until the next release by a band such as Gamma Ray. “Cross the Line” comes across as something you would expect from Judas Priest. There are Iron Maidenisms on here as well.
If anything this release doesn’t sound particularly Germanic, it lacks that certain oomph quality that bands like Helloween seem to retain. Ultimately, if you are a fan, I suspect this will keep you happy. If you like as much power metal as you can handle, then it might be a good choice. Here’s hoping they manage a great album next time round.
Mob Rules: Radical Peace
This lot are from Germany and have been around for quite a while, fifteen years in fact. And unlike what the name might suggest to some metal-heads they have nothing to do with Black Sabbath or doom metal. They are purveyors of melodic power metal and on this release, at least, do it very well. There is a certain progressive metal element that seeps into the music on this CD and gone are some of the power metal by numbers of their previous output.
Its very much a case of a band that has hit its stride and come into its own. Even thought I made a point that this band have nothing to do with the original Black Sabbath sound, they do at times sound a bit like the Tony Martin vocals era of Sabbath (which many Sabbath fans discount completely). The Mob Rules do go for a “big sound” where ever they can manage, especially on songs like “Children of the Flames”.
This is a great release and a good addition to the pantheon of melodic power-metal. The band seem to be willing to try new things and expand the sometimes limiting pallet of power metal. If you were unimpressed with this band before, this might just be the release to get you interested. Certainly the best of their career and not a bad stab at power metal album of the year.
Dark Age: Acedia
Dark Age are a melodic death metal band (with rough and clean vocals) when they are not being power metal. In a way you never know what you are going to get with each song which actually makes things interesting. There is a modern sound in there as well, there are even a few hints of something akin to rap. The heavy reliance on keyboards might be a bit much for some at times as well. There are even some industrial touches that remind of Depeche Mode and even Marilyn Manson.
That said it's not an unpleasant album by any means. Sometimes it seems a bit of a hodge podge of sounds. There is a feeling that the band does not necessarily know what exactly they want to do with their band. There are probably people who would like the varied nature of this release.
This release Is neither great nor dire, but somewhere in between which is really hard to determine its likability. It's definitely a release that’ll take some time to get to grips with and liking, it might heavily depend on the mood you are in. I would urge caution for all but the most open-minded of listeners.
Nostradameus: Illusion’s Parade
Another release of power metal, with a catchy name that doesn’t’ exactly excite the listener. It's not, as is often the case with this sort of release, that it's bad per se, but that it's just nothing special. It's as if the song-writing is limited by the name of the band and they have nothing really left to say. The playing is great and tight as you would expect, but there is just something missing in the tracks.
This Swedish band sound a bit as if they are in a transition looking to move on to something else musically. This is a hold pattern while they figure it out. As I said it's not bad, definitely above average from the genre but just not that good. It rather goes in one ear and out the other. There is nothing on here that really stands out that much and grabs you.
Power metal is supposed to be "raise your fist in the arm" anthemic. It’s a genre of music that lifts you up and carries you along with it. None of that vibe appears on this release. “The Mariner” has some jolly roger-esque type tomfoolery that puts a smile on your face. You could do a lot worse than this record but you certainly could do a lot better. Let's hope the band figure out what they want to do and come back with something a bit more together.
A Concert by the Park
Take of bunch of formal dressed music fans of various ages and stick them in a park next to a large lake in Surrey. Add music talent like Ringo Starr, Chris Barder, The Drifters, Paul Carrack, Eric Clapton, Roger Taylor, Mike Rutherford and Gary Brooker on stage. What do you have? In this case, a gloriously posh blu-ray with music to fit all sorts of the middle of the road tastes. It's not just classical concerts people dress up for in London town.
It's all quite civilized and won’t drive anyone out of the room if they have any musical interest whatsoever. Well maybe Roger Taylor’s attempt at singing rather than the drums undermines the quality of the show. He even made Ringo “not that great a voice” Starr sound quite good. Really Taylor singing Queen songs just did not work at all. His “new” song for Africa was pretty dire if well meaning.
It would surprise no one that the best stuff is the music featuring Eric Clapton singing. “Cocaine”” and “Lay Down Sally”. The group attempt at Genesis’ “I can’t Dance” was a bit of fun as well. Overall this is a very mixed bag, as these sort of concerts quite often are, but this blu-ray will suit nicely when next you are looking for something to watch over some good wine and cheese.
Well that is your lot for this week. I hope some of it finds with your approval. As always keep safe and rocking.