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Music Reviews: Del Rey, James LeBrie, City of Fire, Infernaeon, Antogonist, Wolfshare

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This stuff might be proggy in nature, but it is for the most part heavy too. A nice bunch of releases from some cool bands.

CD reviews

Del Rey: Immemorial

This bunch are supposedly “post-rockers”, whatever that is supposed to mean. To me they come across as some damn good heavy melodic progressive metallers. Sure there is other stuff tossed in there, for good measure, but experimental prog works as a classification rather nicely. Arguing over what to call this music is almost irrelevant considering how good it is.

Its epic and expansive in style with anything from Middle Eastern to South Asian musical textures making an appearance. While a lot of this sort of kitchen sink music is hard to handle and work to listen to, Del Rey do a good job at making it approachable. There is enough here that the au fait with this sort of thing will enjoy it, but others new to the band will find enough to please them.

The band have suffered some odd times with their van stolen twice and retrieved. They also managed to get all their gear stolen from their rehearsal space. Yet the band continued to complete their unusual vision of music. Anyway if you have an open mind to music have a listen, you might just enjoy what you hear.

James LeBrie: Static Impulse

Yes, its that James LeBrie of Dream Theater and a whole bunch of other projects in prog frame of music. The best known of which is Mullmuzzer, a band with a daft name, but some great output. This is LeBrie’s exploration of modern metal and for the most part it leaves me a bit cold. While LeBrie has the voice to counter the “rough” vocals, its just not what prog fans probably want to hear. The screamo/rough vocals are handled by drummer Peter Wildeor. Be warned this is not a progressive or progressive metal album, it’s a modern metal album with a few progressive cues tossed in for good measure. When first listening to this album the screaming does take you by surprise, and not always a pleasant one at that.

This is one of those indulgence albums that has some high points but for the most part is a musician messing about with something he is curious about.. Dream Theater fans will find very little on here that will be to their liking. That said there are some decent tracks, there is “Who You Think I Am” which channels teen/metal-head angst in a rather satisfying way. Of course there is a great power ballad to end the whole thing in the form of “Coming Home” which some might consider twee, but this rocker enjoys.

It’s a definite mixed bag and probably only really relevant to those who want to have everything the guy has ever done. That said with repeated listens some of the tracks begin to shine. He was clever enough to make sure this was not overly indulgent and just a modern metal album in its entirety. I am sure that LeBrie is just having a good time with this release and could give a toss what we critics think. Just be forewarned it is not what you might be expecting.

City of Fire: City of Fire

Burton C Bell has a new old band to front. After getting together for a reunion gig in 2008 Fear Factory bassist Byron Stroud and founding member of Caustic Thought, found himself wanting to form new band from what he was hearing on stage. City of Fire is very much a straight ahead metal band that has elements which are almost European in scope. Its not much like the in your face sense of Fear Factory. For one thing this band is far more melodic than FF.

That said Bell’s vocals are distinctive, but he does make sure to get in touch with his sensitive melodic voices often on this release. Quite a bit of this album has an almost hard rock catchiness quality to it. The track called “A Memory” is basically some quite nice progressive metal that could be a found on a whole myriad of good releases of the genre. This whole CD feels like Bell and Stroud stretching their metal wings into areas not normally in their comfort zone. There is clear sense of humor about best exemplified by the track “Coitus Interruptus” . “Dark Tides” on the other hand reminds the listener of Opeth.

This is a solid release from a band packed with some quality musicians. Let’s hope its more than just a one album wonder.

Infernaeon: Genesis to Nemesis

First stand-out on this release is a cover of Metallica’s “Creeping Death” done in a far more deathy style than merely thrash. Oderus Urungus of GWAR appears on the track for an extra bit of fun. The has been turned into the death metal outing always was meant to be. This lot produce a hybrid of trad Floridian black metal and the more melodic Scandinavian variety, or at least that is what they like to think.

Its an amalgam that mostly works and shows a bit of an interesting take on the normal death metal fare. Its extreme metal at its best and most intriguing. The band is all new save for Brian Warner who was formerly a member of Monstrosity. In its history the band have shared a stage with the extreme metal elite like Deicide and Malevolent Creation.

This is death metal as you expect it to be, but done well. There is enough variety on this release to keep all the tracks from sounding samey, as soon often happens on this sort of release. That said some more use of keyboards might have helped in the mix. We shall see where the next release takes them.

Antagonist: World in Decline

Two unrelated guys both named Garcia from Southern California producing a melodic brand of metal core. Actually they are probably more technical metal now than they are part of the metal core crowd of bands. There is more skill there than just the constant plod with shouting that sums up most metal core bands. A new line-up might have helped their transition to a more mature brand of metal.

The band do have a modern vibe about them, but there are also some cracking solos on tracks like “Sasha Grey”. The solo for that song would put a smile on the face of even the most cynical of old school thrash fan. There seems to be a clear influence on the new wave of thrash on this release, which is not a bad thing at all. This can only broaden the band’s potential fan base. Its not a case of bandwagon jumping, just a bit of transition to some more complex than their earlier fare.

In a seething pool of modern metal and metal core, Antagonist have enough to rise about the crowded average. This is album with quite a bit going for it that deserves the attention of metal heads with a varied taste.

Wolfshare: When Above

This is pretty much a one man band led by Frenchman Kadhaas. In fact he plays all the instruments, but this time is joined by Samigina. As you would expect with something French its avant garde, experimental and rather odd. Then again if you have been trolling through a pile of black metal, this sort of thing can be a welcome break. Continually threading that thin line between genius and madness while avoiding the cul de sac of absolute shite, its an interesting maelstrom.

There is something epic and endearing about tracks like “ex Nihilo” in its 7 minute grandeur. All but the first track on this release are over 6 minutes and that is so that band can guide you on the weird and wonderful journey they have planned for you. As with much of the avant garde you have no bloody idea where you have been at the end of it, but the trip is rather interesting nonetheless.

Much of this one man band type black metal is self-indulgent tripe, this release is the exception to that rule. There is quite enough to sink your teeth into, if you have the time and the patience. Batshit nuts to most, there is something for musical curious hidden in each of these tracks.

That is your lot this week. As always stay safe and rocking, no matter where you end up in your travels.

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