A bit more reliable this week, I am writing this exactly a week after the last one appeared. A great collection of old and new in this week’s round-up.
Circle of Fate: Back to Life
Female fronted modern metal that comes across as both slick and equally listenable. There is no Amy Lee-esque wobbling or an attempt to out metal-core the lads with this release. This is quite simply driving metal that is done with lots of feeling and ability. It will strike no one listening as a surprise that they have been kicking around for 10 years, originating from Chicago.
Michele Caruso certainly has the chops and the looks to get her into the big-leagues of female-fronted metal. The great thing about this band is the fact that they know how to deliver in spades. Considering I really never heard of them before I got this in the post, its quite a pleasant surprise to find they are this good.
From the opening track “Sanctity” to the bitchy “Its All About You” that finished off the album this is reliable consistent metal. I would not be surprised in the slightest if this release takes the band to the next level of their career. Surely on the basis of this release, they deserve any breaks they get. If you are into good metal delivered well, then check this lot out soonest, you will be glad you did.
Machines of Grace: Machines of Grace
A quality metal tinged hard rock release from a band fronted by former Savatage/Circle II Circle singer Zak Stevens. They hail themselves as a Boston band wishing to evoke their forebears in rock, not that its necessary with the impressive pedigree of the members of this band. Interestingly I would say that the band is aptly named as on this release they prove that they can both headbang on tracks like “Psychotic” as well as be graceful on songs like “This Time.”
You would expect the band to have a certain cache built-in because of the level of the members previous bands. Thankfully don’t simple rely on pedigree to drive interest in the band, preferring to prove they deserve you interest on the merit of the music. Zak and Jeff (drums) have been playing together for quite a few years in various bands, so there is an in-built tightness that exists.
This is quite a good release that is well worth seeking whether or not you know their previous bands or not. Quality metal-tinged hard rock like this does not come around that often and consistently. Highly recommended for your lead-in to autumn music purchases.
Theatre of Tragedy: Forever is the World
I first heard about this lot of gothic metal purveyors via my source for Scandinavian darkness, my Norwegian mate Birger. This release just continues the path they set for themselves with the excellent “Storm” as they stride across the goth metal landscape like the titans they are. As with much of the quality goth metal coming out of that part of the world, the band use female & male voices to great effect.
Nell and Raymond weave their voices into an amalgam that gives the songs a great deal of depth. ToT do this better than almost every band in the genre. In a world of faux goth metal bands that think a bit of eye-liner and detuned guitars is all you need, ToT show up every so often to show us all how its really done.
Stand-out track(s) you ask? I won’t bother sullying this release by picking favourites if you like the genre than this an essential purchase that you will enjoy star to finish. It’s a pity I have to move on and review other tracks to be honest. ToT are one of the few bands that consistently has done their best to move the goth metal genre ahead. They have raised the bar yet again with this possibly their finest album to date.
Gary Moore: Essential Montreux
This is a five CD set capturing Gary Moore, in all his guises, playing his guts out for the notoriously tough Montreux crowd. Starting as far back as 1990 this CD set covers one appearance per disc. The last one was recorded in 2001 with Moore is his full “blues” mode glory. Yes, you get several versions of several songs on these sets, but that is to be expected with live recordings.
This is over 6 hours of Gary Moore doing what he does best, that is 60 tracks in total. Much of this stuff has never been released, so its good to see it all in one place rather than being released piece-meal. Albert Collins is along for the ride on the 1990 session. Needless to say if you are a fan or a follower of Moore’s long career then this is a feast for your ears. These tracks are crisp and clear delivering all that you would expect from the great guitarist.
A colour booklet is included in this set that details some of the highlights of his career. Not very often do the titles of these sort of releases live up to the contents. If you are a blues or Moore fan then I can see no reason not to get this collection.
Beatallica: Masterful Mystery Tour
Some probably think that this lot have carried their joke of combining the Beatles and Metallica a bit too far. You might possibly think that, and I admit to have that suspicion, but then the release another one that gives me a good smirk. They do seem to have a knack of making the gag keep worki by tweaking the formula every so often with each release.
Of course with an opening song called “Battery of Jamyz & Yoko” you know you are in for a treat. The title track is quite simple a stroke of comedy gold with its pastiche of “Magical Mystery Tour” as seen through the drunken lens of Metaliica as opposed to shedloads of LSD. Possibly another reference to Yoko, the much loathed destroyer of the Beatles, is the song “I want to choke your band”. This is even more apt by the recent revelation from Lennon’s writings that he felt that the rest of the Beatles truly loathed her.
As a proper music fan I am not supposed to like this sort of release, but with the level of cleverness on show here its hard to resist its charms. Will this be a regularly listen for anyone? Probably not one can assume, but just imagine how annoyed your po-faced Beatle-fan friend will be when you slap this on your deck of death.
On that fab-four-tastic note its time for me to close Word again for this column. I hope you are enjoying the end of your summer, and avoid any hurricanes kicking around. Keep rocking and check out live music if you get the chance.