Do you like traditional Heavy Metal with the cheese turned up to life threatening proportions? Then may I recommend Dream Evil. These Judas Priest loving Swedes were formed in 1999 by metal producer Fredrik Nordstrom, who has worked with Bring Me The Horizon, Architects and Opeth amongst others. New album Six, released on Century Media, is funnily enough their sixth album and continues their corny, solo-laden Heavy Metal. Continue reading
If it’s true that a week is a long time in politics, a decade in the music industry must surely be the equivalent of a myriad lifetimes. Consider the amount of change; whether in terms of styles, tribes, technological advances, listening modes, business models, there is little doubt that life in the music industry has moved on significantly even in the last few years. Throw in life changes, marriages, kids, divorces and you can begin to see why it has taken Californian Prog band Enchant just over a decade to get a new record together.
The Great Divide (InsideOut) is a return to the musical fray for a band who, having been prolific during the 1990s, faded at the turn of the century and now find themselves betwixt and between being “underground prog legends” and “mates of Steve Rothery”. Having lived with their eighth studio release for a few weeks I suspect that this record will delight and infuriate in equal measure. Those of you familiar with their particular brand of progressive rock (for this is rock, albeit a keyboard drenched version of it) will be pretty happy, all things being told; for new listeners, I suspect that it’s going to sound, well, a bit dated, really.
This is a clean sounding and deeply polite record and in actual fact, it’s not that proggy. More, it’s not dissimilar to some of the late 80s melodic rock that the likes of Mr Mister used to put out. There are some nice harmonies, particularly on the title track and ‘All Mixed Up’ but the lyrics are, in the nicest possible way, straight out of “101 Good Uses for a Cliché” and anyone who pens “Round and round and round it goes, and where it stops, no one knows” needs, metaphorically, a good kicking. Oh, gentlemen, this is lyric writing for second-graders.
Part of me feels somewhat guilty for not liking this record more than I do – it’s got all the leitmotifs that I generally warm to; riffs, keyboard solos, big harmonies, (you know the drill) – but I can’t get excited by any of this at all. Part of the problem is I can see the joins. The Great Divide is really well put together and nicely produced; it feels immediately warm and comfortable. It’s not unassuming or apologetic. There are plenty of proggy flourishes but it is the sum of its parts and nothing more and you can more or less see the joins and the musical narrative is fairly well telegraphed. This doesn’t mean that The Great Divide is indulgent, but it fails to rise above the merely adequate or the pleasant enough to be truly memorable and, after nearly a decade out of the limelight that can only count as a disappointing return.
File under close, but, definitely, no cigar.
So, there you were, thinking that Eastern European Black Metal is just a load of one-man bedroom acts who own too many Burzum and Summoning albums, love to stand in the snow in animal furs and think that it’s their national prerogative to play a flute, regardless of skill. Well, you’d be right to an extent. For while Drudkh and Negura Bunget have made a name for themselves by actually branching out from their microscopic scenes and making good use of traditional instrumentation, you will always get acts like Zgard who are content to sticking to what they know. Thankfully, they happen to know a fair old bit, which is why Contemplation (Svarga) may well surprise you.
This sixty-two minute odyssey into Ukrainian forests may be one that listeners have taken before accompanied by the two big name artists mentioned above, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of pretty sights to be seen along the way as the aptly named ‘Through the Forest’ proves with its rushing tremolo guitars, soaring melodies, mystical keyboards and subtle choral vocals. There’s echoes of revered artists such as Kroda reverberating through the trees and you soon get the impression that mainman Yaromisl has plenty more to show you, which he does with the crowd pleasing jig-along that pops up during ‘Highlands’ and the quirky polka mischief that opens ‘Incarnation Memory.’
It wouldn’t be an Eastern European BM album without an instrumental piece however and we get just that with the haunting and thoughtful ‘Silence’, which knocks the socks off the latest effort from Herr Vikernes. Not forgetting of course the frequent wind and rain sound effects to remind you just how cold it is behind the old iron curtain and you have everything you need and nothing you wouldn’t expect. Clichéd? Perhaps, but it’s a cliché with plenty of mileage left in it and while the forest is still this beautiful, it’s one that’s worth taking a stroll into.