Lee McKinney – In The Light Of Knowledge – Album Review

Artist: Lee McKinney

Album Title: In The Light Of Knowledge

Label: Sumerian Records

Date of Release: 24 September 2021

I don’t even know where to start with this review as there is so much to say. However, maybe I should begin with the revelation that I know next to nothing about Born Of Osiris. This is entirely relevant because Lee McKinney is the guitarist for that entity, a band that has been in operation since around 2003, releasing eight albums in that time. And I know nothing about them, except that I quickly discarded them at the beginning because they were described as a metalcore band. Those that know me, will know that I have a hard time with most genres that have the word ‘core’ associated with them. And, nearly twenty years ago, I’ll freely admit to being less open-minded than I am now.

Listening to a few songs off the latest record as context for this review, I will admit that I might have made a mistake because if ‘Angel Or Alien’ is anything to go by, Born Of Osiris have the ability to pen a catchy tune that’s also heavy, tight, and technical.

The next matter of relevance requires my soapbox. Having located it, and perched up high, I can begin. I have lived through grunge and survived. I have lived through ‘nu-metal’ and survived. I have also lived through the age of ‘solos aren’t cool anymore’ and survived. So I will sure as hell not be beaten by the latest worrying trend in heavy music circles, the obsession with brass and the saxophone which, although technically a woodwind instrument, belongs in the ‘urgh’ pile alongside trumpets and horns. I fully appreciate that, to some, this is an incredibly unpopular opinion, but I stand by it. Personal taste leads me to declare that I have yet to hear any sax or trumpet solo that sounds anywhere near as good as a guitar. There are a very few bands that can get away with it, but these are rare exceptions that prove my rule.

Why am I blathering on about this? It’s because I’m faced, once again, with an album by a musician that I regrettably know very little about and who, like many around him, want to embellish their music with a saxophone at points. Immediately three percentage points off the final score for the latter, but thanks to the former, it gives me a chance to further broaden my horizons which is a pleasant trade-off.

The three percentage points off for the use of a sax is not as arbitrary as it might sound on this occasion because what ‘In The Light Of Knowledge’ demonstrates is that Lee McKinney is an incredibly talented guitarist. He can make the instrument sing, as he proves within songs on this new record. So, given that, why not let his guitar do all the talking? Why let a sax into his vision? The answer is simple and were it not for the fact that I am so militant in my views, I’d recognise it more graciously. The sax gives the music a different texture, a different flavour, and more variety, something that instrumental music can often need in order to succeed.

The first time we hear the sax is within the title track and, admittedly, it is used very sparingly and, dare I say it, in a sensitive and positive way. See, there’s personal growth right there! Move away from my obsessional issues and this is a stunning composition, where McKinney’s lead guitar licks and melodies are so light, breezy, and beautiful. They are also relentless, barely stopping for the entire duration of the song. The tone is similar to that which he uses within Born Of Osiris material, but put to a more delicate, less heavy backdrop and it sounds even more delightful and effervescent to these ears. Gentle swathes of synths and piano notes add to the soundscape, as does sharp drumming and a bass that’s so rich and warm that it makes me tingle.

If anything though, there are even better tracks to be heard, including the utterly magnificent opener, ‘Crystal Song’. Oh my word, the lead melodies produced my the magical fingers of McKinney are breathtaking; immediately memorable, hummable, and they plant a great big grin on my face. It’s like happy pop metal, thanks to more delicate synth and piano melodies juxtaposed by the sparing use of djent-like chugging heavy notes. This song hits me right in the feels.

Speaking of feels, the same can easily be said of the equally mesmerising ‘Highmountain’. Beginning with more pronounced electronic sounds, it isn’t long before a driving drum beat is joined by McKinney to allow an initially repetitive lick resolve into ultra-melodic territory, the kind that makes me melt. Allowing himself to play around more loosely with less structured solos, McKinney shows that he is a master in technique and feel, whilst creating a song that has the power to move me. In a way, it has the unspoken qualities of a ballad and it’s quite beautiful.

The great thing about this record, however, is that there is variety to be heard. The album may only last for what feels like a fleeting 28 minutes, but it’s nevertheless an interesting ride. ‘The Reason’ sees McKinney letting loose his considerable skills with an acoustic guitar atop a much more ethereal, and dreamlike composition. Or how about ‘Vituvian Park’ which doesn’t even feature a guitar for the first third of the song and when it does enter, it accents the soothing minimalist, electronic sounds with real subtlety until the final sequence where we are treated to really chunky stop-start riffs, a cool distorted lead line, and a haunting sax.

At the other end of the spectrum, there’s a song like ‘Stormrage’. The opening is a chaotic flurry of insane technique, where dampened notes collide with heavy djent and technical death metal overtones. But even then, there’s room for a gorgeous melody to enter whilst the chug continues in the background. The sax is most prominent within this heavier, meatier track and whilst I’d have preferred it to not be there at all, especially within the rather discordant closing moments, but I have got used to it and made my peace with its inclusion. It’s just too good a song to hold that against it for to long.

And that’s really the story for this entire record. It is just so good, that you can forgive just about anything. ‘In The Light Of Knowledge’ is one of those albums that hits you right out of the gate and then continues to hit you. Time and time again I have listened to the whole record over the past few days and even though it was an instant saccharine hit of modern melodic instrumental from the first listen, I am not even close to becoming bored of it. In fact, the more I listen, the more I take it to my heart. Yes, I enjoy some of the most brutal, dark, and morbid music that the underground can produce. But occasionally, we all need to be reminded that there is a time and place for melodic beauty and a sense of playful fun. The fact that Lee McKinney has some insane technical ability, as well as a demonstrable flair for songwriting only adds to the enjoyment I derive from this release. Sax or no sax, ‘In The Light Of Knowledge’ is special and I hope as many people as humanly possible hear it and join me in half an hour of sheer unadulterated melodic magic.  

The Score of Much Metal: 91%

Check out my other 2022 reviews here:

Descent – Order Of Chaos

Aethereus – Leiden

Toundra – Hex

Ilium – Quantum Evolution Event EP

Power Paladin – With The Magic Of Windfyre Steel

Necrophagous – In Chaos Ascend

Infected Rain – Ecdysis

Wilderun – Epigone

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2021 reviews

2020 reviews

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

Andy Gillion – Neverafter – Album Review

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Artist: Andy Gillion

Album Title: Neverafter

Label: Independent Release

Date of Release: 15 November 2019

My awareness of Andy Gillion began when the guitarist and songwriter joined the ranks of Mors Principium Est in 2011. The Englishman, now based in Australia, became an integral member of the Finnish melodic death metal outfit, with the most recent outings garnering some praise from yours truly. I even awarded ‘Embers Of A Dying World’ a coveted spot in my 2017 end-of-year ‘best of’ list. Who needs the Grammys eh?!

Since connecting with Mr Gillion on social media, I have become acutely aware of his talents with the guitar but also that he is a talented songwriter of video game music amongst other things. Oh and the guy has a great sense of humour – if you doubt this, I urge you to check out his ‘sock of doom’ video, which had me in stitches for hours.

All of this is largely irrelevant to this review except that it helps to explain my mindset leading to hearing ‘Neverafter’ for the first time. Would I end up listening to some serious melodic death metal, a video game score, or would this be a more tongue-in-cheek release, with his mischievous side emerging through the record?

The answer is that ‘Neverafter’ is 100% serious and professional but from a musical standpoint, it is a blend of many things, some of which I was expecting and others I was perhaps not. However, the final product is really rather good and something of which Andy Gillion should be rightfully proud. From a selfish point of view, I am very pleased that Gillion’s music was apparently rejected for a horror film; I can’t stand horror and it was out of this rejection and the music created for that, that ‘Neverafter’ was born. For me, it’s a win-win!

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The biggest compliment I believe that I can pay Andy Gillion is to say that he has a very distinctive and surprisingly unique playing style. I was always an admirer of his playing within Mors Principium Est, but I wasn’t necessarily expecting to listen to ‘Neverafter’ and say, ‘I recognise this technique’ or ‘I recognise that style’. And yet that’s exactly what has happened here. Guitarists are ten a penny these days, with undeniable shredding abilities at every turn. But, in the case of Gillion, he offers something more than just fast solos, wild runs and impressive lead breaks; he delivers musicality to supplement his technical proficiency. The song writing prowess that the guy has in spades helps to improve his six-string playing immeasurably, as does his ability to turn a solo into the sound of liquid gold. And this is the record that hammers this latter point home.

‘Neverafter’ is an album that borrows from every corner of Gillion’s influences and inspiration. As such, this record is atmospheric, multi-faceted, layered and highly engaging. I normally deride instrumental records for being boring and one-dimensional but ‘Neverafter’ feels like it is a story. One minute, we’re listening to sharp riffs and fast licks, the next we’re taken down a more dreamlike path where the mood softens and the dramatic, often cinematic symphonics increase to great effect. ‘Becoming The Nightmare’ is a prime example of this as it follows through on all this as well as offering a neoclassical bent at times too.

But, whilst this is in no way a melodic death metal album, there are shades and echoes of Gillion’s work with Mors Principium Est littered throughout ‘Neverafter’, with the exceptional ‘Black Lotus’ being one of the more pronounced examples. So despite the lack of vocals, it should appeal to fans of extreme metal too.

The quality continues with ‘Skyless’, one of my favourite tracks on the entire album. The fact that it features the talents of guest guitarist Jeff Loomis (ex-Nevermore, Arch Enemy) is just the icing on the cake. To me though, despite the powerful drumming, driving rhythms and tinkling, atmospheric symphonics, it is the strength of the melodies that shines through the most. The composition, demonstrating Gillions skills in this area, is full of light and shade, twisting and turning throughout, but we are never more than a few seconds from a beautiful melody, be it as the result of an emotive lead break or central lead line.

Having said that, there are no end to the excellent and striking melodies on ‘Neverafter’. For example, there’s the mid-section to the generally more abrasive ‘Aria’ which is so delicate and stunningly beautiful. I’m also a sucker for the incredibly delightful ‘Hiraeth’, which dials down the pace and allows the melodies and ethereal atmosphere to shine through. It is within this song that the gorgeous touch, feel and delicacy of Andy Gillion’s playing is brought right to the fore. I could happily listen to this song even if it was triple the length, it’s that good.

To be honest, the more I listen to this entire album, the better it gets and I could easily wax lyrical about any of the eleven tracks here. Andy Gillion has created a quite magical instrumental metal record that keeps my attention throughout, tells a story in three vivid dimensions, and keeps me coming back for frequent repeated listens. Not at all shabby for someone who doesn’t really like instrumental albums! Kudos, Andy, very nicely done indeed.

The Score of Much Metal: 91%

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

Album of the Year 2018 – EPs and Compilations

We’re nearly at that time of year, when I undertake my mammoth top 30 countdown of the best albums released during 2018. However, given my self-imposed rules, the top 30 is only allowed to feature full-length releases containing original material. That means there’s no room for EPs and ‘best of’ records.

However, 2018 has seen some great short-players and one notable compilation, so I thought it was only fair to round up the very best of these so that I get one last chance to bring these great releases to your attention.

So, in no particular order (except perhaps the first record in this list), here goes:

39182311_10156666317408629_2423303222228680704_nAnathema
‘Internal Landscapes’

I’m not sure what can be said here that hasn’t been said before. Anathema are one of the finest bands ever to come from the shores of the UK. For me, they are the best band to emerge from Liverpool, without a shadow of doubt. This compilation, a summary of their decade with Kscope, demonstrates so eloquently just how special Anathema truly are. And what’s more, they could have chosen an entirely different track list and, bar one or two songs, it would be almost as strong. That says something about the quality of Anathema’s music, doesn’t it?

“Anathema prove once again that they really are one of the most important and special bands on the planet right now. For the impact that Anathema have had on my life and the sheer strength their music has given me in good times and bad, what other score could I possibly give this release?”

Yup, I gave it the full 10 out of 10…and I stick by that score wholeheartedly.

Read the full review here.

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‘A Funeral For The Virtuous’

What a killer disc – it may only be an EP but it has completely rekindled my love of cinematic, symphonic metal. Everything about it is right – the melodies, the pomp, the playing, the heaviness, the atmosphere. I love this disc to the point where I seriously considered breaking the rules and adding it to my full top 30!

“This is, for my tastes, the perfect blend of nostalgia, modern originality, pompous bombast, depth, emotion and gorgeous, sublime melody. I simply cannot wait to hear what comes next because it threatens to be very special indeed.”

Read the full review here.

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‘Swarm’

If you’re after an uncomplicated and relatively straightforward dose of thrash-infused death metal, this could be the EP for you. It might only contain five short tracks, but it is enough to make an impact and a favourable one at that.

“it is hard to argue with the music when it is just so energetic, bruising and so full of no-nonsense groove. ‘From Beyond’ kicks off with a slightly looser feel but soon injects more irresistible head banging fodder, delivered with apparent ease, as if it is woven into the quartet’s DNA.”

Read the full review here.

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‘Nochnoy Dozor’

I was massively impressed by this debut EP from Greek metal band Nochnoy Dozor thanks to the variety on offer and the ambitious intent of these musicians. The blend of styles are compelling, especially the juxtaposition between minimalism and full-on intense heavy metal.

“Alongside heavy metal elements such as distorted guitars, bold drumming and rumbling bass, there are elements of ambient, pop, dark rock and doom all interwoven into the six tracks that make up this EP.”

“I genuinely enjoy the music on offer on ‘Nochnoy Dozor’ because it is relatively unique, melodic and well put together. I’d love to hear a full album from Nochnoy Dozor but for the time being, this debut EP is more than enough to get heads turning and announce their arrival in the metal world. I have a good feeling about the future for this properly interesting band.”

Read the full review here.

39223325_2067533839946416_2238392076838371328_nSamskaras
‘Lithification’

In a year where I truly fell in love with the whole ‘tech/prog/death’ subgenre, the duo who go by the name ‘Samskaras’ produced a great short-player to only heighten my admiration of this kind of heavy, complex music. Aggression, brutality and a certain amount of experimentation collided to create four really powerful tracks on this impressive EP.

“what you will find is that the ubiquitous blast beats, gruff vocals and scything riffs lay a very foundation upon which many other elements are laid…I have listened to ‘Lithification’ upwards of seven times in a very short space of time and it has yet to lose its appeal. At less than 20 minutes, it serves as an excellent window into the world of Samskaras…”

Read the full review here.

406185Fauna Timbre
‘Altering Echoes’

When I happened upon Fauna Timbre, I was so ahead of the curve that I couldn’t find a track online to embed into my review. I was not aware of any other reviews for this debut EP either – maybe I was the first? The thing was, I was so impressed by this offering, that I had to bring it to as wide an audience as possible, as quickly as possible.

“The quiet, tentative and sombre melody that introduces the opening song, ‘Heart Murmurs’ is testament to the dark melancholy tone of the music. Sjøli’s vocals have a Jonas Renkse quality about them in so far as he is able to convey emotion through a simple, uncomplicated delivery that’s also surprisingly mellifluous. His voice travels over a terrain that’s quite stark and minimalist, where the guitars offer a dirty, fuzzed-up sound, the rhythms are intelligent but not overdone.”

“Music like this is too good to remain an unknown quantity for too long.”

Read the full review here.

774251Cast The Stone
‘Empyrean Atrophy’

After a 13-year absence, Cast The Stone returned in 2018 with a brand new EP, comprised of five new compositions. With a cast that can boast links with the likes of Misery Index, Cattle Decapitation, Scour and Conflux, you’d expect the end product to be of a high standard. And so it has proved here.

“‘Empyrean Atrophy’ sees the quartet blending American death metal, with the generally more organic and melodic Swedish version, whilst injecting a touch of black metal for good measure. And the resulting blackened death metal is really rather intoxicating, too.”

“Right from the off, the thing I like most about the final product here is that the music is both so brutal and dirty and yet it also feels warm, inviting and incredibly immediate. Even on a first listen, I was smitten before the opening track, ‘As The Dead Lie’ was complete.”

Read the full review here.

Unanimated_-_Annihilation_EP_-_CoverUnanimated
‘Annihilation’

After a hiatus of nearly a decade, Unanimated returned in 2018 with a brand new EP, ‘Annihilation’. Often thought of as one of the originators of that Swedish death/black sound that the likes of Dissection made famous, this was an important release for many lovers of underground music. And the slightly more blackened result did not disappoint, even if the length of the release may have done. But you can’t be to churlish when there’s apparently a full-length release on the horizon for some time in 2019.

“‘Annihilation’ has done everything that the band will have hoped it would – it has reminded me and the wider extreme metal world that Unanimated are back. More than that, it has signalled loud and clear that the band have not missed a beat in their near-decade absence.”

Read the full review here.

26994232_1800119626666171_750785614662238684_nDivine Realm
‘Nordicity’

Here was another new name for me in 2018, having conspired to completely miss this Canadian instrumental metal band’s debut EP and follow-up 2016 full-length. No such mistakes this time round as Divine Realm managed to catch my ear and then capture my imagination with music that demonstrated a wonderful vibrancy and that ‘joie-de-vivre’ that is often lacking these days.

“Blending classic progressive metal with elements of djent, extreme metal, post-rock and tech metal, with a vague hint of metalcore for good measure, the final product is a multi-faceted, complex and ambitious endeavour. And it works.”

“…the music might be complex, multi-layered and ambitious in its execution, but crucially, the songs are just that – songs. And they contain within them some wonderful melodic intent, not to mention a great structure and plenty of variety to keep the interest piqued.”

Read the full review here.

Morgan Wick – The Ascent – Album Review

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Artist: Morgan Wick

Album Title: The Ascent

Label: Independent Release

Date Of Release: 1 December 2017

A little over 12 months ago, I was presented with ‘Atrament’, the sophomore release from Seattle’s A Sense of Gravity. I was thoroughly impressed with the record too. In fact, as I wrote within that review, it forced me to reassess my thoughts and opinions on the whole tech/djent genre. I had become a little tired and uninterested in this kind of music but ‘Atrament’ made me sit up and take notice.

Fast forward a year and I now have in my possession a promo copy of ‘The Ascent’, the debut album from A Sense Of Gravity guitarist Morgan Wick. Given the positive impression that A Sense of Gravity made on me, I felt it was only right and proper to see what one of the sextet had to offer under his own moniker.

‘The Ascent’ is referred to as a ‘progressive metal’ album and, while that is correct, it will come as almost no surprise that the record is heavily cloaked in the kind of tech metal/djent sounds that sit at the heart of A Sense of Gravity. That said there are many differences too. Not least, ‘The Ascent’ is an instrumental album, meaning that there’s even more space for the instruments to shine, principally the guitars. In fact, overall, there is a greater feeling of space throughout the record.

‘Escape Velocity’ is a cracking way to start off this album. It fully deserves its ‘progressive’ tag as it pulls together many different ideas, sounds and textures into one cohesive composition that never seems to sit still. The transitions are smooth and nicely executed and so the shifts between heavier and softer material never feels jarring; the quieter, more introspective moments carry with them quite strong jazz/fusion overtones but they also allow Wick to demonstrate his lead skills with the guitar, executing several lengthy and vibrant solos throughout the piece. In contrast, the heavier sections are pulled along by urgent yet precise drumming and chunky, down-tuned riffs. The biggest compliment I can pay this opening track is that I didn’t find myself missing the vocals too much.

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Within seconds of ‘Solar Storm’ entering the fray, I am heavily reminded of recent output from Haken, albeit when they are at their more playful; the melodies, the guitar tones and the general carefree yet heavy vibe – they all call to mind the UK prog metal band. To these ears, this isn’t a bad thing at all. Those worried about ‘clone’ issues should content themselves with the fact that Wick does manage to inject his own personality and execution into the track and again, the six-string dexterity and execution will have your mouth wide open for sure. As such, I enjoy what I hear. If anything, it is better than the opener, particularly when the lead guitar line sings above an irresistibly groove riff or when the song descends into Meshuggah-heavy territory just after the half-way mark.

‘Gravity Well’ grabs the attention with yet more incredible guitar playing, unusual time signatures, stop-start riffs and one of the most infectious lead guitar lines I’ve heard in the last few weeks. The gentle acoustic guitar intro to ‘The Fall’ is a beautiful change of pace. My only comment would be that I wish it was longer. Nevertheless, it does return later in the song, more expansively but equally crisp and precise in execution.

This precision I have spoken about never manages to turn ‘The Ascent’ into a cold, technical exercise and I think this is one of the reasons why it works so well. Wick manages to deliver some incredibly complicated music whilst imbuing it with warmth and enough accessibility to ensure each track is considered a song rather than just a piece of music.

In properly prog style, ‘The Ascent’ ultimately closes with the title track that extends beyond the 15-minute mark. The introduction is genuinely moody and atmospheric, quite cinematic and almost sci-fi in tone, and it’s not until the third minute that it finally gives way to some heavier, more metallic instrumentation. When things do get heavier, it results in some of the most extreme material on the disc, including a brief venture into thrash and death metal territories, further accentuating the opposite ends of the spectrum with which Wick is clearly equally as comfortable and adept. Some of the passages of music really run wild in terms of their technicality but in and amongst the myriad of fluctuating ideas, a melody isn’t far away to bring the listener back on track. It’s a clever skill but one that Wick clearly possesses.

All-in-all, I’d say that ‘The Ascent is a triumph for Morgan Wick. On balance, I probably prefer his work with A Sense of Gravity but that has more to do with my preference for music with vocals. If however, you like instrumental music with a lovely blend of technicality and just enough melody, you could do a lot worse than check this record out.

The Score Of Much Metal: 8.25

If you’ve enjoyed this review, you can check out my others from previous years and for 2017 right here:

2015 reviews
2016 reviews

Aetherian – The Untamed Wilderness
Buried Realm – The Ichor Carcinoma
Almanac – Kingslayer
Von Hertzen Brothers – War Is Over
Witchery – I Am Legion
Cloak – To Venomous Depths
Elvenking – Secrets of the Magick Grimoire
Moonspell – 1755
Cannibal Corpse – Red Before Black
Communic – Where Echoes Gather
Impureza – La Caida De Tonatiuh
Auđn – Farvegir Fyrndar
Beast In Black – Berserker
Serenity – Lionheart
Sorcerer – The Crowning of the Fire King
Daydream XI – The Circus of the Tattered and Torn
CyHra – Letters To Myself
Devoid – Cup of Tears
Ne Obliviscaris – Urn
Sons Of Apollo – Psychotic Symphony
Enslaved – E
Samael – Hegemony
Vuur – In This Moment We Are Free – Cities
Power Quest – Sixth Dimension
Iris Divine – The Static And The Noise
Daniel Cavanagh – Monochrome
White Moth Black Butterfly – Atone
Jag Panzer – The Deviant Chord
Vulture Industries – Stranger Times
Anubis Gate – Covered In Black
Protean Collective – Collapse
Cradle Of Filth – Cryproriana – The Seductiveness of Decay
TDW & Dreamwalkers Inc. – The Antithetic Affiliation
Caligula’s Horse – In Contact
Nocturnal Rites – Phoenix
Arch Enemy – Will To Power
Threshold – Legends Of The Shires
H.E.A.T – Into The Great Unknown
Dyscarnate – With All Their Might
Subterranean Masquerade – Vagabond
Adagio – Life
Paradise Lost – Medusa
The Haunted – Strength In Numbers
Serious Black – Magic
Leprous – Malina
The Lurking Fear – Out of the Voiceless Grave
Prospekt – The Illuminated Sky
Wintersun – The Forest Seasons
Witherfall – Nocturnes And Requiems
Tuesday The Sky – Drift
Anthriel – Transcendence
Decapitated – Anticult
Cosmograf – The Hay-Man Dreams
Orden Ogan – Gunmen
Iced Earth – Incorruptible
Anathema – The Optimist
Solstafir – Berdreyminn
Dream Evil – Six
Avatarium – Hurricanes And Halos
Ayreon – The Source
Until Rain – Inure
MindMaze – Resolve
God Dethroned – The World Ablaze
Bjorn Riis – Forever Comes To An End
Voyager – Ghost Mile
Big Big Train – Grimspound
Lonely Robot – The Big Dream
Firespawn – The Reprobate
Ancient Ascendant
Pyramaze – Contingent
Shores Of Null – Black Drapes For Tomorrow
Asira – Efference
Hologram Earth – Black Cell Program
Damnations Day – A World Awakens
Memoriam – For The Fallen
Pallbearer – Heartless
Sleepmakeswaves – Made of Breath Only
Ghost Ship Octavius – Ghost Ship Octavius
Vangough – Warpaint
Telepathy – Tempest
Obituary – Obituary
Fen – Winter
Havok – Conformicide
Wolfheart – Tyhjyys
Svart Crown – Abreaction
Nova Collective – The Further Side
Immolation – Atonement
The Mute Gods – Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth
Ex Deo – The Immortal Wars
Pyogenesis – A Kingdom To Disappear
My Soliloquy – Engines of Gravity
Nailed To Obscurity – King Delusion
Helion Prime – Helion Prime
Battle Beast – Bringer Of Pain
Persefone – Aathma
Soen – Lykaia
Exquirla – Para Quienes Aun Viven
Odd Logic – Effigy
Mors Principium Est – Embers Of A Dying World
Firewind – Immortals
Slyde – Back Again EP
Sepultura – Machine Messiah
Deserted Fear – Dead Shores Rising
Kreator – Gods Of Violence
Borealis – World of Silence MMXVII
Pain of Salvation – In The Passing Light of Day

Arcade Messiah – III – Album Review

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Artist: Arcade Messiah

Album Title: III

Label: Stereohead Records

Date Of Release: 25 November 2016

Prolific is a word often misused in music circles. If a band releases an album every two or three years then they can sometimes be given the ‘prolific’ tag. In which case, what descriptor can be given to a solo artist that releases three new albums in three consecutive years? The artist in question is John Bassett, he of KingBathMat fame and a familiar name to this Blog, having reviewed each of the two previous albums, the imaginatively-titled ‘I’ and ‘II’ released in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

Then add to the mix the fact that Mr Bassett does everything himself in relation to an album. And by everything, I mean it – the hideously talented chap plays every instrument that features under the Arcade Messiah moniker; drums, guitars, bass, keys…you name it. He also twiddles the knobs in terms of producing the record. And, if that wasn’t enough, over the past year, he has thrown in a complete family relocation to Sligo, Ireland. In terms of productivity and drive then, Bassett puts most of us to shame.

So, here we are in 2016, with ‘III’ just about upon us.

The first thing to mention about ‘III’, is the artwork. The cover is very striking and quite different from the previous two, in that it is an intricate drawing that seems to depict either the human over-industrialisation of the world or makes a comment about how the entire world is now one giant man-made conurbation, pulled together under one identity due to greater technological connectivity. Or maybe it’s neither of these things. Either way, the packaging is bold and enticing, a real draw if like me, you’re a sucker for good artwork. It’s like a magnetic pull.

Musically, I must be honest and say that there are very few surprises to the core approach of Arcade Messiah on ‘III’. It is in no way a blatant repeat of what’s gone before, but if you’re a fan of the Arcade Messiah already, you’ll not be left disappointed or disoriented with ‘III’. It is more of a honing of the sound, a more refined and confident outing than its two predecessors and it hits hard.

Heavy riffs, strong rhythms and walls of sound are the cornerstones of the output, sprinkled with liberal amounts of post-rock, stoner rock, subtle progressive rock/metal tendencies and more ambient sounds and textures.

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As you may already be realising, ‘III’ is a very intense ride, one that feels like it is an assault on your senses from every conceivable angle. I’m also genuinely surprised how heavy the output is, in much the same way as I was with the previous two albums. For some reason, I always do a double-take when I hear the album for the first time but in a positive way.

I’ve gone on record many times to profess my usual apathy towards instrumental albums. However, as is the increasingly strong trend, Arcade Messiah is the exception that proves the rule. Once again my attention is fully kept throughout, meaning that the album offers enough variety and delivers something which more than sufficiently fires my enthusiasm. Once or twice may have been a fluke but given it’s the same story with album number three, I can only conclude that Bassett is a very adept song writer, able to convey much using a medium that can, on occasion, be restrictive and inhibiting. After all, a good vocalist can be worth their weight in gold.

Speaking of singers, the one stand-out difference with ‘III’ is the inclusion of some vocals this time around. It isn’t often and it’s not for any protracted length of time. However, Bassett’s voice does make an appearance on an Arcade Messiah album for what I believe is the first time.

Opening track, the aurally huge ‘Revolver’ contains a smattering of lyrics and the song is made all the more interesting and nuanced because of it. It’s another layer to add to an already multi-layered track where the guitars bludgeon with an immensely powerful riff, where the rhythms swirl and roil to great effect and where there’s just enough melody to seep through the otherwise impenetrable wall of sound to get a hook or two into your consciousness. In fact, for all its bruising power, it is the more subtle lead guitar embellishments that give ‘Revolver’ that little bit of extra magic.

If anything, ‘Citadel’ is even more brutal on the ears. Right from the off, a down-tuned and sludgy doom riff crawls along with the finesse of a drugged rhino whilst around it, the layers are built up cleverly to create a truly dense and almost daunting listen. Again the melodies are sparingly used and subtle but nevertheless beguiling after repeated spins. The shift in dynamics at the mid-point is a masterstroke, allowing a brief respite and the chance for a more minimalist, post-rock soundscape to be explored where the bass is truly king.

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Sitting at the centre of this impressive six-track album is ‘Deliverance’, the longest track on the record. I love the moody, almost cinematic intro where beauty and restraint take the place of the more in-your-face elements. The tones and textures created are wonderful, at once both bold and refined. Naturally, the composition doesn’t spend its entire 10-minute length exploring the same landscape; it builds, albeit slowly and majestically, to finally explode at the mid-way point with another giant riff and an outpouring of pent up exuberance. The pace changes tack noticeably, speeding up and slowing down to add to the drama and tension alongside the competing heavier and quieter passages that litter this ambitious, most progressively-structured piece of music. The voice of Bassett returns as well but is nothing more than another interesting ingredient, being highly sampled and almost buried within the music as it is.

‘Life Clock’ further removes the foot from the monstrous riff pedal, instead exploring much more introspective and gentle realms. And yet, I feel no real respite from the intensity as this remains a thought-provoking and densely-layered track that has a brutally heavy sting in the tail.

By contrast, ‘Black Tree’ is a doom metal-influenced work that contains arguably the heaviest and best riff on the entire album. It is so heavy, it makes me smile in spite of myself. And yet, the heaviness is interspersed and accented by moments of relative quiet that are really gorgeous and melodically-infused, something that’s carried into the more extreme movements within the composition really cleverly.

It is then left to ‘Sanctuary’ to close ‘III’ which it does in a slightly surprising manner. To my ears, the central melody is more pronounced as it steers its way through a much more relaxed and atmospheric post-rock aural landscape, ultimately conveying a sense of positivity and optimism that is all the more conspicuous given what has come before. And yet the moods explored within this vaguely wistful piece are entirely in keeping with the album as a whole.

And there you have it. ‘III’ is, for possibly the third year in a row, the best instrumental album of the year. It is bold, challenging, confrontational, and hugely rewarding; it’s a credit to the Arcade Messiah name. In fact, it is quite possibly my favourite release to ever feature the incredible talents of John Bassett. Yes, it is that good.

The Score Of Much Metal: 8.75

If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out my others via my reviews pages or by clicking the links right here:

A Sense Of Gravity – Atrament
Devilment – Devilment II: The Mephisto Waltzes
Maschine – Naturalis
Brutai – Born
False Coda – Secrets and Sins
Pretty Maids – Kingmaker
In Flames – Battles
The Neal Morse Band – The Similitude Of A Dream
Memoreve – Insignia
Enbound – The Blackened Heart
Blind Ego – Liquid
Dark Tranquillity – Atoma
Hammerfall – Built To Last
Testament – Brotherhood Of The Snake
Crippled Black Phoenix – Bronze
Riverside – Eye Of The Soundscape
Hanging Garden – Hereafter
Theocracy – Ghost Ship
Arkona – Lunaris
Oddland – Origin
Sonata Arctica – The Ninth Hour
Edensong – Years In The Garden of Years
Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep Of Reason
Alcest – Kodama
Opeth – Sorceress
Negura Bunget – ZI
Epica – The Holographic Principle
Amaranthe – Maximalism
Eye Of Solitude – Cenotaph
Seven Impale – Contrapasso
DGM – The Passage
Pressure Points – False Lights
In The Woods – Pure
Devin Townsend – Transcendence
The Pineapple Thief – Your Wilderness
Evergrey – The Storm Within
Dream The Electric Sleep – Beneath The Dark Wide Sky
Periphery – ‘Periphery III: Select Difficulty’
Karmakanic – Dot
Novena – Secondary Genesis
Witherscape – The Northern Sanctuary
Eric Gillette – The Great Unknown
Tilt – Hinterland
Cosmograf – The Unreasonable Silence
Fates Warning – Theories Of Flight
Wolverine – Machina Viva
Be’lakor – Vessels
Lacuna Coil – Delirium
Big Big Train – Folklore
Airbag – Disconnected
Katatonia – The Fall Of Hearts
Frost* – Falling Satellites
Glorior Belli – Sundown (The Flock That Welcomes)
Habu – Infinite
Grand Magus ‘Sword Songs’
Messenger – Threnodies
Svoid – Storming Voices Of Inner Devotion
Fallujah – Dreamless
In Mourning – Afterglow
Haken – Affinity
Long Distance Calling – Trips
October Tide – Winged Waltz
Odd Logic – Penny For Your Thoughts
Iron Mountain – Unum
Knifeworld – Bottled Out Of Eden
Novembre – Ursa
Beholder – Reflections
Neverworld – Dreamsnatcher
Universal Mind Project – The Jaguar Priest
Thunderstone – Apocalypse Again
InnerWish – Innerwish
Mob Rules – Tales From Beyond
Ghost Bath – Moonlover
Spiritual Beggars – Sunrise To Sundown
Oceans Of Slumber – Winter
Rikard Zander – I Can Do Without Love
Redemption – The Art Of Loss
Headspace – All That You Fear Is Gone
Chris Quirarte – Mending Broken Bridges
Sunburst – Fragments Of Creation
Inglorious – Inglorious
Omnium Gatherum – Grey Heavens
Structural Disorder – Distance
Votum – Ktonik
Fleshgod Apocalypse – King
Rikard Sjoblom – The Unbendable Sleep
Textures – Phenotype
Serenity – Codex Atlanticus
Borknagar – Winter Thrice
The Mute Gods – Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me
Brainstorm – Scary Creatures
Arcade Messiah – II
Phantasma – The Deviant Hearts
Rendezvous Point – Solar Storm
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld II
Antimatter – The Judas Table
Bauda – Sporelights
Waken Eyes – Exodus
Earthside – A Dream In Static
Caligula’s Horse – Bloom
Teramaze – Her Halo
Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud
Spock’s Beard – The Oblivion Particle
Agent Fresco – Destrier
Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction
Between The Buried And Me – Coma Ecliptic
Cradle Of Filth – Hammer Of The Witches
Disarmonia Mundi – Cold Inferno
District 97 – In Vaults
Progoctopus – Transcendence
Big Big Train – Wassail
NightMare World – In The Fullness Of Time
Helloween – My God-Given Right
Triaxis – Zero Hour
Isurus – Logocharya
Arcturus – Arcturian
Kamelot – Haven
Native Construct – Quiet World
Sigh – Graveward
Pantommind – Searching For Eternity
Subterranean Masquerade – The Great Bazaar
Klone – Here Comes The Sun
The Gentle Storm – The Diary
Melechesh – Enki
Enslaved – In Times
Keep Of Kalessin – Epistemology
Lonely Robot – Please Come Home
The Neal Morse Band – The Grand Experiment
Zero Stroke – As The Colours Seep
AudioPlastik – In The Head Of A Maniac
Revolution Saints – Revolution Saints
Mors Principium Est – Dawn of The 5th Era
Arcade Messiah – Arcade Messiah
Triosphere – The Heart Of The Matter
Neonfly – Strangers In Paradise
Knight Area – Hyperdrive
Haken – Restoration
James LaBrie – Impermanent Resonance
Mercenary – Through Our Darkest Days
A.C.T. – Circus Pandemonium
Xerath – III
Big Big Train – English Electric (Part 1)
Thought Chamber – Psykerion
Marcus Jidell – Pictures From A Time Traveller
H.E.A.T – Tearing Down The Walls
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld

Live gig review: Earthside, Toska, Brutai, Voices from the Fuselage – Camden Barfly 10/04/16

Credit: Ray Hearne / Haken
Credit: Ray Hearne / Haken

The following gig review comes with an apology for the quality of the photos – I’m no photographer and so, coupled with a poorly-equipped camera and a level of entertainment that meant I didn’t want to ruin my enjoyment by staring through a lens all night, they are not the best. In fact, if there was an award for ‘worst ever gig photography’, I’d surely be in the running! But hopefully, the words make up for it.

And with that, on to the review…

The chance to attend the debut UK show, an exclusive show no less on these fair shores from US metal band Earthside was just too good an opportunity to miss. I had to be there. And so it was that I set out from Suffolk and headed to ‘the big smoke’, to the Camden Barfly, on a Sunday afternoon to witness what I hoped would be a great evening’s entertainment.

This wish became ever more fervent as I found myself snarled up in heavy traffic as my Sat Nav sadistically took me within a few hundred yards of White Hart Lane, the home Tottenham Hotspur, on a day when they were due to play Manchester United in the Premier League. As a Spurs fan, I couldn’t moan too much but when added to the difficulty I had in parking my car, I arrived in Camden seriously regretting my decision not to get the Underground train from the outskirts of the city. Never mind, Spurs won and I finally located a free parking spot within walking distance of the venue.

Things only got better from there too. After meeting Lulu of Incendia Music for the first time and a quick drink in the bar, I headed upstairs to hear a little of the soundcheck but not before being greeted by with a warm hug from a beaming Frank Sacramone, keyboardist with Earthside.

My next task was to interview the lads from Brutai, so it was up to the dressing rooms next for me. I say ‘dressing rooms’ but to be honest, I have been in a lot more salubrious surroundings in my time. Bare floor boards, tatty walls, minimal furniture that had clearly seen better days and grimy windows made up the setting for my first journalistic task for the day.

Somewhat unbelievably given the number of gigs I’ve attended over the years in the capital, this was my first visit to this particular venue but I rather liked the experience. I missed the first song of openers Voices From the Fuselage but upon entering the small and intimate Barfly venue, I was immediately struck by the sounds coming from the stage.

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Voices From The Fuselage

In Ashe O’Hara, Voices From The Fuselage are blessed with a very talented singer, able to hit those high notes and add a demonstrable amount of emotion into his performance. Behind him, the music was powerful, muscular and well performed, not to mention subtle and melodic too when the need arose. The whole thing reminded me a little of the likes of TesseracT. Untried by me before this evening, these guys now need some further exploration as soon as possible.

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Brutai

Next up, a return to the dressing rooms to interview Earthside and before I knew it, the floor started to shake to signal to us all that Brutai were just starting their set. I’d heard a little of Brutai prior to the gig and I was very interested to see how the band would come across on stage. The answer was ‘very well indeed’.

I would have preferred a better defined mix in order to allow more clarity for the guitar solos and the keyboards but aside from this, Brutai put on a great show that only served to heighten my excitement for the forthcoming debut full-length. I have likened their output to a blend of Soilwork, Voyager, metalcore and pop and I think, on balance, as a brief reference point, I’d stick with this description. On stage though, coupled with a high energy, professional delivery, they certainly offer a lot more in the live arena and justifiably won over the decent-sized crowd, many of whom had not heard of them before this evening.

Brutai
Bruta

Normally, I get very bored during the set changeovers but on this particular evening, it was a lot of fun. Chatting with friends in the audience and then enjoying a long conversation with Mr Ray Hearne, drummer with Haken, it seemed like no time at all had passed before Earthside took to the stage.

Oh. My. Word. It is not often these days that I go to a live show and am absolutely blown away but tonight was one of these rare occasions. Knowing how technical, multi-layered and ambitious the music on Earthside’s debut album, ‘A Dream In Static’ is, I was intrigued to find out how the quartet would be able to pull it off. But pull it off they did and then some.

Tight as a drum, the music was performed almost flawlessly from start to finish, with the kind of intensity that I’ve rarely witnessed. But more than that, alongside the steely determination, there was a genuine sense of enjoyment from the band. Guitarist Jamie van Dyck constantly had a smile on his face and you simply had to see keyboardist Frank Sacramone in action to believe it. Air drumming, expansive arm gestures, singing along, alternating between keytar, standard synths and a guitar; he was a bundle of energy and a real joy to watch. At one point, he even stopped the music to admit that the experience had brought him to tears, something that you could clearly see was true even half-way back in the crowd.

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Earthside

In terms of the voices, Earthside employed the interesting and unusual tactic of projecting the vocals of the guest singers on a giant screen at the back of the stage. As such, you got to hear Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid (Soilwork) in all his glory on the emotionally-charged ‘Crater’, my personal favourite track. Then there was an ‘appearance’ by vocalist Daniel Tompkins (TesseracT) on ‘A Dream In Static’ as well as Lajon Witherspoon on the epic and visually stunning ‘Mob Mentality’. It isn’t an approach to suit everyone. Yes the interludes between songs was a little protracted and minimised spontaneity and yes, in years to come it would be amazing to have these guests on stage with Earthside. But for now, for this particular performance, it did the job very well indeed.

And what’s more, the crowd lapped it up. A quick glance at those around me witnessed many that were full-on headbanging, several mouths were wide open and the remainder either were appreciatively nodding along or wrapt and ensconced in what they were witnessing. At the end of each song, the response was effusive and by the close of the set, the crowd roared their approval to almost disbelieving looks from the band. It was a crackling atmosphere and Earthside were worth every ounce of it.

toska
Toska

Brighton’s Toska followed albeit with a significantly truncated set and a slightly thinner crowd, mainly due to the inadequacies of public transport at weekends in this country. Nevertheless, those that remained were treated to some instrumental technical metal of a very high quality. Led by the imposing Rabea Massaad on guitar, the trio introduced a faint air of psychedelia and a little sludge to their repertoire meaning that Toska rounded off the impressive bill very handsomely indeed.

If I’m honest though, for all the strengths of the other bands, this night belonged to Earthside. They were incredible and the electricity between the audience and the band was something special to be a part of. After the show, Frank admitted to me that in terms of atmosphere and the feeling he got, it was a 10/10 show for him. He did qualify the statement to say that technically he could improve but overall, from such a perfectionist, this was quite the statement. I just hope that other parts of the UK and indeed the world get to witness this band. They are this good after only their 25th show? Wow. They are, quite simply, a force to be reckoned with.

Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 1

So, here we are. I’ve made it. One month and over 30,000 words later, my ‘Album Of The Year 2015’ Top 30 countdown comes to an end. It has been challenging, tiring and occasionally frustrating but well worth the effort. I have enjoyed the banter, the more serious conversations, the arguments and the positive comments that this series has created. But best of all are the comments from people who say that they have discovered or re-discovered a particular band thanks to one of my posts. This is exactly why I do this.

People ask me why I don’t just write a simple list and put it out there on the Internet. It would be simpler I admit but then, those that know me know that this isn’t the Man Of Much Metal’s way. And it certainly isn’t the Blog Of Much Metal way either. Each and every band that features in this list has spent months creating great music for us all to enjoy. Therefore, the least I can do is spend a decent amount of time giving credit where it’s due and explaining why I feel so passionately about these albums. Giving something back to the music that has given me so much is what I and this blog is all about.

If you’ve stuck with me throughout this series, I offer one last heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you. If you’re new and like what you read here, be sure to spread the word and check out the other 29 albums in my list via the links at the end of this post.

But enough of all that. Let’s get down to business. Ladies, gentlemen and children of all ages and of discerning taste, I give you my gold medal choice for 2015, the best album of a strong year for the music I love…

Number 1

earthside coverEarthside
‘A Dream In Static
Independent Release

I thought long and hard before awarding this album the title of ‘best album of 2015’. I mean, could I really award the title to a debut album from an unsigned band? But then I came to my senses, severely chastised myself and here we are.

Earthside, from New Haven, Connecticut, are comprised of drummer Ben Shanbrom, keyboardist Frank Sacramone, guitarist Jamie van Dyck and bassist Ryan Griffin. And together, they have put together a stunning album that is an utter delight and one that arguably breathes new life into the genre of heavy metal. Not content to plough one narrow musical furrow, instead the quartet have made it their mission to explore numerous different styles across the rock/metal spectrum and beyond all the while managing to keep the end product cohesive and, above all, enjoyable. You could call Earthside’s music progressive metal, djent, cinematic and symphonic or experimental…personally, I just call it damn good music.

Earthside have proved with this release that you can be ambitious, challenging to yourself, challenging to the listener and yet manage to emerge from the other side triumphant. There isn’t a moment on ‘A Dream In Static’ that is messy or clunky or even ill-advised. It all fits perfectly in spite of the myriad of influences at play and what’s more, the end product is absorbing, memorable and extremely addictive.

Photo Credit: Ian Christmann http://ianchristmann.com/
Photo Credit: Ian Christmann http://ianchristmann.com/

One of the elements of Earthside’s success is undoubtedly the unwillingness to rush the end product and to compromise in any real way. As I discovered when I interviewed Ben Shanbrom prior to the album’s release, Earthside have been around for a number of years, working away in the background to hone their craft and perfect their music away from prying ears and the lure of the limelight. In this day and age, it is all too easy to produce music, put it out on the internet and wait for the world to love you or loathe you. Very little thought often goes into the detail; the detail of learning to play your chosen instrument properly for example. And, even for those who are wizards at playing, the detail of honing song writing skills and having a clear vision for the band can be overlooked. This isn’t the case with Earthside – they’ve seemingly thought of everything. The result is ‘A Dream In Static’.

I knew from the moment that I heard ‘The Closest I’ve Come’ that something special was brewing. I had to wait what seemed an inordinately long time before I was finally able to hear the album in it’s entirety but believe me, it was worth the wait. In fact, for those of you familiar with my presence on social media, this choice won’t be the biggest surprise of your lives. I have waxed lyrical about the record over the past few months and I don’t see any reason for that stance to change any time soon.

If you’re after a really detailed look into the individual songs on ‘A Dream In Static’, please check out the review that I wrote for it around the time of it’s release. In addition, for more background about the band, check out my 2-part interview. Links to all three are as follows:

‘A Dream In Static’ Album review
Earthside Interview – Part 1
Earthside Interview – Part 2

For now, for this post, I’ll try to keep things brief. Note the word ‘try’ in that last sentence.

The album kicks off in stunning fashion with ‘The Closest I’ve Come’. In keeping with much of the album, it is an instrumental track but it oozes class and keeps things interesting by frequently altering the tempo, toying with differing levels of complexity and adding an urgent sense of drama via an inspired use of light and shade. One minute it’s heavy, the next it’s quiet and gentle. And, at the 1:30 mark, it explodes with the most gloriously epic melody you’re likely to hear for a while. Spine-tingling stuff indeed.

The title track follows and, featuring TesseracT’s Daniel Tomkins on vocals, it is equally as good as the opener. It is a groovy, djent-heavy beast that features more sumptuous melodies that are impossible to resist. ‘Mob Mentality’ which features Sevendust’s Lajon Witherspoon behind the microphone also boasts the talents of the Moscow Studio Symphony Orchestra and if you’re looking for a complex and moody film score-like feel to it, this is the song you’ve been dreaming of. Gargantuan and bruising, yet precise and subtle, it is a composition that has to be heard to be believed.

‘Entering The Light’ is the shortest track on the album but is also one of the most striking given its demonstrable urgency and the inspired inclusion of a hammered dulcimer courtesy of Max ZT to provide the song’s central melody. Then there are other compositions like ‘Crater’ featuring Soilwork’s Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid, one of my all-time favourite metal vocalists, ‘The Undergrounding’ with its Meshuggah-like chugging riffs and ‘Contemplation Of The Beautiful’ which is an epic track full of highs and lows that ends with the mother of all crescendos, enhanced by an emotional and committed performance from the final guest vocalist, Eric Zirlinger (Face The King, ex-Seer). Hell, who am I trying to kid, every single track on ‘A Dream In Static’ is a killer and deserving of all the praise that is bestowed upon them.

Going back to my opening paragraph, it belatedly occurs to me that one of the reasons why this record is so exciting is absolutely because this is Earthside’s debut album. Prior to this album, the name ‘Earthside’ was known only to a select few but, given the staggering quality of ‘A Dream In Static’, it is a name that is being talked about more and more with each passing day. Enlisting the services of a full orchestra, convincing the likes of Daniel Tomkins and Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid to participate and then to be able to have the whole thing mixed by David Castillo (Katatonia, Opeth) means that Earthside must be doing something right.

The mind boggles at what on Earth the band will deliver next time out. However, that’s for another day. For now, let us revel in the sounds, the textures, the emotions and the atmospheres of ‘A Dream In Static’.

In closing, I’d like to quote my original review, as the sentiment remains as true now as it did then: ‘‘A Dream In Static’ is not perfect but it is very close. It is one of the most intense, challenging and ambitious recordings I have heard in a very long time. I’m not a gifted musician, so I prefer to reflect on how albums make me feel; Earthside’s music elates me, excites me and delivers something new on each and every listen. On that basis alone, mark my words, Earthside are going to be huge. A band of this talent, dedication and focus that has produced something as jaw-dropping as ‘A Dream In Static’ as a mere introduction to the metal world cannot possibly be anything else. And you know what? They thoroughly and unequivocally deserve everything coming their way. Bravo gents, bravo.

Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 2
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 3
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 4
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 5
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 6
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 7
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 8
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 9
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 10
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 11
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 12
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 13
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 14
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 15
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 16
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 17
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 18
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 19
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 20
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 21
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 22
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 23
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 24
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 25
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 26
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 27
Album of the Year 2015 – Number 28
Album of the Year 2015 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2015 – Number 30

And from previous years:

Album of the Year 2014
Album of the Year 2013
Album of the Year 2012

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