Welcome to another week’s collection of reviews. Last week, I was spurred to do a good clean out of the overflow as the pile was getting ridiculous. If you are a fan of my harsher reviews there are a couple of those for your reading pleasure. We shall see if I manage anything else from that collection this week.
The 69 Eyes: Back in Blood
Imagine Motley Crue at their best, doing goth metal instead of Hollywood glam, and you would be close to this lot. They are Finnish near-do-well goth, trash-vampire glamsters who know how to combine just enough of their fave genres to sound fresh, but recognizable. It's sort of catchy, upbeat, goth hard rock. That probably sounds a bit of a contradiction, but it's true.
This is heavy rock when all the goths want to dance to something upbeat at their local club. It is truly catchy as stink. They drop influences into their tracks, there is a touch of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” in “Night Watch”. You know, enough to evoke the tune, but not enough to be considered a copy. The title track to this release evokes hard rock anthems of the past. It speaks this lots penchant for taking the piss out of the whole Hollywood scene of the 80s. One of their previous albums contained a track mocking the obsession with uber-thin blondes on the strip.
The 69 Eyes don’t produce bad albums. They have mastered the act of genre skimming to come up with something that is cool, gothy and catchy all at the same time. This is the type of music you wish your fave hot goth chick would like.
Submission: Code of Conspiracy
This lot are a bunch from Denmark and produce some heavy tunes in the mode of Fear Factory and others of that ilk. Not the most original stuff in the world, it has to be said, but that doesn't mean it does not have its merit. Songwriting on this release show an attempt to distinguish themselves from their influences and the rest of the pack. And we all like to see a band making an effort to improve themselves from album to album.
What is interesting is they got a new vocalist who is more thrashy than death metally in the throat department. Instead of the grunt and groan, it's balls out, thrashtastic, yelling metal. Now a cynic (not the band) would suggest this might be an effort to tap into the whole new wave of thrash trend that is exciting so many journalists and fans alike. At least the guy is not some metal-core wannabe.
There are some moments of decent metal on this release but overall it's an album that shows the band developing its sound. Maybe with a bit of continuity in its line-up they might come up some special next time around. Keep an ear for this lot in future.
Vision Divine: 9 Degrees West of the Moon
This lot was formed in 1998 as a solo project of Carlo Andrea Magnani but it has turned into a full-time band. Fans of power metal will very much welcome the fact this is an on-going concern instead of an occasional outlet for its members. This is strong, keyboard-sprinkled, very melodic, power metal from Italy. It's great that Italy based Frontiers picked up this lot to add to their constantly growing collection of quality melodic heavy and not-so-heavy rock.
Now they are not necessarily breaking great swathes of new progressively influenced power metal, but that does not mean this is a quality release. There is enough originality and quality of song-writing to raise the release above the bog-standard power-metal release. Made up of the afore-mentioned Magnani and the crème of Italian metal musicians this is clearly a class act.
What it brings to mind at times is “Pull Me Under” era Dream Theater, without being a clone of that band (as so many other bands tend to be). There is something distinctly Italian about this sound. Methinks VD would be perfect coming out of the stereo system of your favorite Italian exotic as you drive through the streets of your choice of Italian city.
Pathosray: Sunless Skies
Progressive metal firmly in the Dream Theater school of musicality. Instead of hailing from the US, this lot hail from Italy. Not that you could tell mind you. This is quality stuff that is great helped by the quality vocals from Marco Sandron. The man has enough range to match the rest of the music, backing vocals are well done as well. They have clearly made an effort to create progressive music that has appeal to non-musos.
Needless to say the playing on here is of top quality. The songs are huge in nature and while complicated never venture into pretentiousness or pomposity. Songs like “Aurora” truly show why this lot has something special about them. Epic in scope, but accessible in a clear way, if it were to have some lady in flowing frock singing, it could be a rival for the likes of Nightwish et al.
The band combines progressive with symphonic metal in a way that makes it both accessible and quite easy to listen to over long periods. The only thing that confuses me is that I detect no “pathos” in the lyrics. Then again I could be wrong. I enjoyed this release and was pleased to discover yet another great progressive/symphonic release for this year. Definitely worth seeking, if you are a fan of such things.
Moonstone Project: Rebel on the Run
This is one of those albums I really liked from the first listen. It's melodic with a touch of funk mixed in with some atmospheric keyboards about the place. It's clever hard rock that seems to work well in any era. The first track “Sinner Sinner” reminds me of Glenn Hughes when he does his funk thang, but doesn't take it too far. Then again that should not be too shocking since Glenn Hughes is along for the ride. He even sings the Beatlesque “Closer than You Think”. There is a clear 70s vibe lurking on this release.
Matt Filippini, who's the main man behind MP, is clearly having some fun doing music that at times is not unlike the material he made in his stint with Deep Purple. Then again this project has got all kinds of talent like Ian Paice, Graham Bonnet, Kelly Keeling, James Christian, and even Carmine Appice, it's not a surprise they all rub off on him at one time or other. And as you would expect this is a quality release.
Moonstone Project is yet another outlet for the talented Fillippini and one that lets his more experimental side flow through. I mean what is there not to like about “From Another Time” with its good time vibe and oodles of luscious organ. You could do worse for a summer CD than this release.
Well that is your varied lot. I hope you all take an opportunity to head out and check out some live music. As always stay safe and see you next week.