Back with their third full-length release, Californian act Witherfall return with prog guns blazing on Curse of Autumn (Century Media). Formed in 2013 by former White Wizzard frontman Joseph Michael, former White Wizzard and former Iced Earth guitarist Jake Dreyer, and the incredibly talented, but former, er… Justin Timberlake bassist Anthony Crawford, the band has produced another seriously heavy record that delivers riffs, hooks, and dazzling technicality.Continue reading →
You would think that strenuous touring schedules with both Steven Wilson and Steve Hackettwould take up enough of one’s time, but somehow Nick Beggs manages to juggle this with studio session work and other projects with the likes of Lifesigns and Lonely Robot, as well as being a general hero of contemporary prog rock. Still not familiar with the notion of a well deserved rest, Beggs has also started up new band The Mute Gods with fellow busy bodies Marco Minnemanand Roger King, in which his pop and prog backgrounds seem to come head to head.
Debut album Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me (InsideOut Music) certainly shows both sides in abundance, but does so with neither watering itself down or by proving daunting and inaccessible. Far from a massive prog odyssey, DNTYHFM is melodious and song based; strikingly immediate and catchy on the face of it. The opening title track proves an archetype of this, particularly with its easy to follow vocal lines which seem to hide its 7 plus minute duration; whilst sultry ballad ‘Nightschool For Idiots’ wouldn’t seem out-of-place on more straight forward rock acts’ repertoires.
Scratching past its poppy exterior however reveals deeper layers, from drawn out passages, heavy guitar tones, quirky wordplay and subject matter and near psychedelic synths, showcasing the many sides of its personnel but still sounding fluid. The only real drawback here is a lack of consistency, where the strength of its best songs only detract further from lesser counterparts like the weaker ‘Your Dark Ideas’ and ‘Mavro Capelo’ which prove more forgettable.
Aside from small discrepancies however, DNTYHFM is a solid and at times sumptuous début, albeit from a cast of seasoned and experienced personnel with fingers in many pies. Not a perfect album, but one that should be on the radars of anyone who likes catchy rock with a little more depth to jump in to.
Celebration is a word that conjures a lot to your mind when you hear it or read it. On Marco Minnemann’s (The Aristocrats, Joe Satriani, Steven Wilson, LMR) new solo album Celebration (Lazy Bones Recordings), it is Marco clearly doing the celebrating. Not only are these 17 tracks (plus one bonus cut) a great example of Marco’s world-class drumming talents, he plays all of the instruments, provides vocals, co-produced the album, and even mixed and mastered some of it too. The music is also a great reason to get amped, as it displays the many shades of his taste in music, and has something for fans of his entire body of work from his career.
Thirty seconds into the lead track ‘Miami’, and immediately you can tell this album is going to be a next level effort. Crushing guitar riffs, spastic drums, soaring melodies, this is not too far from his work with Levin/Minnemann/Rudess. There is also some funky, odd free Jazz moments that sneak in here and there; be it an odd horn vamp or dramatic Rhodes piano flourish. The title-track is next and is a straight up heavy rock song, with tripped out lyrics and a vocals from Marco. He has sung lead before, but really finds his voice on this album. Continuing the heaviness, ‘It Always Seems’ at least has DNA essence in the monster riffs in common with a few early Helmet songs, before veering into a breezy alt-rock chorus. Marco has no issues going chameleon from one movement to the next, picking up whatever mood inspires him.
Tracks such as ‘How Can I Help You’ and ‘Print Club’ are more of the angular, frenetic prog rock one expects from Marco, but there are some astounding departures stylistically too. ‘The Greatest Gift in Life’ is a lovely pure pop song that would be a big radio hit if given the chance. ‘Everyone Loves A Rainbow’ is a somber piano piece that comes two versions, each with English or Spanish spoken word piece over it. Meanwhile ‘Amina’s Birthday’ is another Jazzy, epic track. ‘Better Place’ puts the exclamation point on the release with more heavy licks and smashing beats.
Turning in the heaviest, yet most diverse album of his career, it’s great to hear what one of the hardest working guys in music will come up with next.
Marco Minnemann, photo courtesy of Lazy Bones Recordings