Alcest – Les Voyages De L’Ame (2012)

The french seem to be on ‘baffle the world’ mode ! First with Uneven Structure (Progressive , Djent) and now with Alcest , France has indeed given us music to savor.

Alcest’s music can be defined as ‘spiritual’ and ‘straight from the heart’. Right from the first track to the last , the music seamlessly flows through channels of gently built emotions and takes you into a journey of your own life. The serene ambient moments remind you of your happy place and hard hitting transitions get you in terms with your own dark side.Bands like Alcest are one of the few who dare to represent their own feelings through musical instruments without any self-imposed rigidity of genre or fan-base.

If you hear the opening track ‘Autre Temps’ , the guitar infused ambience is naturally created. You realize that the band does not force themselves to fit into a genre or push to achieve a sound. This attribute is probably their biggest strength apart from their musical genius. Every song is a testimony to how these guys connect with you on a personal level without even taking any effort to do so.

Tracks like ‘La Ou Naissent Les Couleurs Nouvelles’ and ‘Les Voyages De L’Ame   ‘ are benchmarks when it comes to Post-Black Metal. The piercing yet calm vocals grip tight with the blast beats of the drums and give you an experience which is impossible to put into words.Progressive fans will love the ‘Les Voyages De L’Ame’ which showcases brilliant progressive song writing and ethereal moments.’Beings of Light’ has the quintessential  Black Metal machine-gun drums laced brilliantly with distant growls .The foreclosing track ‘Havens’ is a dark passage to the finale ‘Summers Glory’ , which culminates in a high pitched vocal extravaganza and you just refuse to accept the end of the album.

On a personal note (though i don’t usually get personal in reviews) – Alcests latest offering came out when i was experiencing a rebellious but liberating phase in my life and the album was just the companion i needed. The album pulls you in on a roller coaster ride to all human emotions and grips you to the seat. One of the few albums i heard which actually shuts you off from a buzzing world around you only to take you to another celestial place altogether .

Conclusively ,striking artwork , top-notch production value and start of the year release makes this album easily one of the most loved albums of this year. So also the entire album is in french. Im not french nor do i understand the language but i could call the album my own and fit in all the emotions i myself experienced while listening to it and so can you.

 

Rating – 9.5 /10

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Interview : Paul Ortiz (Chimp Spanner)

The English Djentleman!
Paul Antonio Ortiz or the brain behind the popular and critically acclaimed solo musical project – Chimp Spanner – is a guitar virtuoso from Colchester ,UK .
Paul rose to fame with his self-produced album Imperium Vorago (2004) and At The Dream’s Edge (2009) which inspired guitarists and musicians all over the globe . With his unique ‘Djent’ guitar tone and brilliantly progressive song-writing , Paul  isn’t just a musician who stands out in the crowd but also  fuses elements of electronica with metal to create songs which are not just musically gorgeous but also appealing to metalheads and non-metalheads alike.
He is currently signed with Basick records and will soon be releasing his Ep – All Roads Lead Here (2012).
Lets have a chat!

Hey Paul! How is the worlds most musically talented ‘chimp’ doing?
Haha not bad thanks! I got back late last night from a long weekend in Moscow, so I’m kind of tired and kind of sick from the cold. But I’ve a head full of ideas and a bit of time to get them realised now, so I’m feeling good.

You just returned from your Russian Tour – how was the entire experience? 
-Well it was just one show, although we also just completed a full European tour with Cynic as well. In both cases it was great to really experience the world outside of our tiny little island! Moscow in particular just felt so different to the UK. It might’ve been the -17 degree weather, or the abundance of massive woolly hats. But yeah it was a really memorable trip, and now I just wonder…how far from home will we be next time?

You hail from UK which has given us musical geniuses – how did your culture/country influence your music making?
– Well most of my early musical influence came from my parents; my mum is English and my dad is American. So certainly when I was growing up I was raised more on Latin music, jazz, funk, soul, etc. than any of the louder, more raucous stuff coming out of England at the time. My mum did introduce me to a lot of classical music, though. So I think that’s where my sense of drama comes from. But really the only thing that’s English about me is my reserve and my love of tea!

You were part of the Monuments line-up for sometime – how was that experience ? any anecdotes you would like to share?
– It was cool! A great way to cut my teeth on stage too, because there were no expectations of me reproducing MY music. I could just have a lot more fun with it. We were crammed in a van for 20 days or so so the whole thing was just a crazy surreal experience. We had a lot of fun though – I broke myself a fair few times haha.

You have self produced both your albums which got critical as well as popular acclaim – Given a choice between being a Producer and a Musician, what would you chose and why?
– I don’t really look at them as two separate things. I mix/produce while I write, so I couldn’t really choose one over the other. I know – that’s kind of a cheat answer 😉

Your fans call it ‘Djent’ critics call it ‘Progressive Metal’ – how would you define your playing style?
-It’s Progressive Djent haha. No I don’t really know what it is. I’m not sure at what point something starts or stops being progressive. Is it the marriage of guitars and keyboards? Pop music has that. Is it odd time signatures? I guess my goal when I started Chimp Spanner was to just write music; music that just so happened to have some of the textures and timbres associated with metal, but that people could enjoy whether or not they liked heavy music.

Which bands/artists  have been a huge influence on you and your music?
– I think, like most people in this scene, Meshuggah really changed my world (musically). It’s like all the restrictions and limitations I imposed on myself prior to hearing them were lifted, and now anything goes! I love the production of Devin Townsend also, so that’s been a big influence on me. When I was in high school I was listening to a lot of Deftones, and thinking back on it they were the first band that really introduced me to dark, moody electronic ambience in metal music. Plus the countless musicians I grew up listening to…just google “70’s fusion guitarists” and that’ll do ya!

Composing for your favourite game is every musicians dream – any tips/tricks for the musicians looking forward to this venture?
– Ahh now this is a slight misconception – I would LOVE to write for games, but it hasn’t happened yet. I have done the odd piece of music for various jobs but nothing really major yet. So if anyone needs tips/tricks, it’s me! It’s my ultimate goal though, and one I would like to put more focus on this year.

If not a musician what would you have been?why?
– I think I would’ve ended up doing something creative. I love drawing, designing, making things in 3D, writing. So there are a few careers I could’ve pursued if not music. And who knows, I still might when I’m older!

Finally, a message to all your fans and budding musicians? 
– To my fans, just a massive THANK YOU! In the last year or so I’ve done way more than I ever thought I could, both as a musician and as a person, and I owe so much of it to everyone who has supported me and my music. To budding musicians…be patient, and enjoy some of the best times in your career when it’s just you, your ideas, and your instrument. Whatever happens will happen :]

Facebook Page – http://www.facebook.com/paulortiz12
Band Page –  http://www.facebook.com/chimpspanner

Blackheart – Anti-Corruption EP (2012)

The musical talent from the northern part of India is undeniable. The bands that north has given birth to are one of the countries finest – critically as well as on the scale of popularity.

Blackheart is one such band which hails from this musically blessed region. The 5-piece  death-core band look pretty promising with their hard hitting EP ( driven by a social cause).
The most important aspect of any EP/LP is its album-art. Countless number of albums have been subjected to market swings due to inadequate or hyped album art which results in the artists gain or loss.

Blackheart has a very ‘in your face’ cover work which is very impressive.
The three-song EP has its moments but lacks in production value. Snare sounds and bass-pedal sounds are hardly distinguishable . No matter how good your material is, production value always has the upper hand in any albums success.

Speaking about the tracks – the track which stands out is ‘Death by poison’. Catchy groove and hard hitting vocals pack the punch which the band intends to. The section of the song which has the phrase ‘Oh My god! fuck them all’ proves that cliche can also hit you at the sweet spot. The other two tracks ‘Do not panic’ and ‘A Silent Vive’ are quite similar on the level of band tightness and musical aggression.

The weakpoints would generally circle around the lyrics- the content is just revolving around the chorus and its repetation makes the lyrics very passable. The lack of a stand-out solo and monotonous guitar chugging could also be a weak spot for a person with a good ear for music.
The band is tight – and sync well with some groovy transitions in the songs . Vocals and Drums stand out distinctively. The rudiments are/patterns/fills are nicely fitted in the songs and the drummer is a powerhouse when it comes to climaxes in the song. Vocals , guttural and heavy , are very promising and give out a very ‘Kreator-ish’ feel which would appeal to thrash and Core fans

Bottomline – A great effort with a good message , Blackheart does have the potential to come in the top league of  Indian Bands from the north and even from India in the near future.

Rating 7/10

Interview : Elliot Coleman (TesseracT)

Elliot Coleman – the name that is now on the minds of every TesseracT fan as their new smashing and versatile lead singer. After the exit of Dan Tompkins (ex-vocalist), the responsibility of leading a critically acclaimed band fell on Elliot’s shoulders which he pulled off effortlessly!

With just a month of talks and ‘sample – exchange’ while auditioning for Tesseract, Elliot managed to grab attention at concerts all over with his soulful voice and instant blending with the band.

While juggling between his studio sessions and playing console games, Elliot managed to find time to answer some questions in his own unique style!

 

 

What was that defining moment which made you realize that singing was your ultimate calling?

– I’d been singing for years but it was only after encouragement from my pals Jake Bowen and Misha Mansoor did I decided to pursue it as a main focus. Up in till then I was a guitarist for 12 years.


TesseracT – how did it all happen?

– Sitting on my couch in my underwear, got a message from Amos telling me Dan was leaving and if I was interested in auditioning. I told him “sure”. 😀

 

A talented American with a group of equally talented Brits – blend of different cultures and influences – how does it all manifest in the studio ?

 To be honest, we’ve yet to work together in the studio, you’ll have to ask me again in a few months  😉

 

Neophobia (fear of new things) gripped many of the Tesseract fans because of Dan Tompkins’s (ex-vocalist , TesseracT) exit – how did you deal with the mixed reactions of the fans ?

– I enjoy making fun of people, but to be honest it doesn’t really bother me. I sound nothing like Dan and have a completely different style of singing that some people might not enjoy. Can’t blame them, if you fell in love with “One” then you fell in love with Dan, and thats completely understandable, he’s a wonderful vocalist. I’m sure once we finish our next album, with my own writing, people will come around.

 

What elements will you be bringing in Tesseract since you have pop/R&B influences ? Any plans/ideas which you would love to leak out ?

– hmmm….I think technically Dan was more on the pop side. I come from a more R&B/Jazz background. I’d love to incorporate that into the next album. I still haven’t made up my mind about whether or not I’m even going to do any screaming on the next album.

 

With the new haircut and tons of fans – any good/bad/weird fan experience ?

– I usually keep to myself on tour, so I avoid all of the weirdos. 😀

 

Tell us a little about your other endeavours ( Zelliack , OMNOM(Of Man Not Of Machine)

– Zelliack is a wonder soul/R&B project I have with my former Sky Eats Airplane bandmate, and very close friend, Zack Ordway. OMNOM is (was?) a project I have with another close friend of mine, Misha Mansoor of Periphery. OMNOM was actually some of the first stuff I ever sang on.

 

We have seen a lot of Bro-mance between you and Periphery in their videos – any collaborations expected in the future ?
– I sang on their debut album. If I can find a cool spot for Spencer ( Vocalist – Periphery) , I’ll put him on the next TesseracT album.

 

If not the Vocalist for TesseracT – Elliot Coleman would be?

– Tattoo artist. Even though I have no idea how to do that.

 

Bands that you would be stoked singing for ?

– The Strokes or Phoenix

 

And finally , any message/advice/sermon to budding singers out there ?

– Don’t drink, don’t smoke, you’ll do fine 🙂

Friend For A Foe – Source Of Isolation (2011)

I discovered this band while browsing through the many children-bands who Meshuggah fathered. Keeping a mindset that this would be yet another band trying to get itself to “forcefully lower the tone” and chug-chug djent-djent.
Within the first few minutes of the album I was amazed at the sheer grip of this band. Though the production seems a little on the downside the band manages to rip your brain at certain places.
Most bands,new or mature, always struggle to find “that sound” but If this band is going to stick to THIS sound its definitely going to go places.
Being the debut LP – it is a very good effort.
The songwriting is similar to Textures which has alternating growls and gorgeous clean patches but thing that made me sit up and give it a listen was the guitarwork.
Superb riffs which scale extreme speed and drop down to 2-3 instant pedel-shifting change of tones.
Electronic sounds which lace the album are very much a good thing because no matter what people call them (fake sounds etc) they always add a feel and groove to the whole arrangement.
Songs like ‘Formulaic Transition’ which is a instrumental number have the most smooth yet tight transitions between the various moods the song has to offer.
The tracks are nicely placed between thunderous ‘Idle Hands’ and ‘Vultaggio’ followed by the instantly catchy ‘Formulaic Transition’ ,closing the album with ‘Niacin’ and ‘Fallout’
Artwork – Very very unique and sends out a much deeper message than the obvious ‘Friend for a foe’ – showing a drowining hand which pleads for help.
With the range of bands touching the Djent/Prog-djent genre its difficult even on the bands to give something unique.
FFAF have done it pretty well with choruses which last long enough to tingle you and breakdowns short enough to leave you hungry for more.

Rating – 8/10

Lamb Of God – Resolution (2012)

Probably the only torch-bearers of the “new wave of American Heavy Metal” ,Lamb Of God(LOG) have managed to create a new passage with this new release.
Despite the feel being similar to Wrath,the song writing is much heavier and relies more on melodic choruses and more “old-school” guitar magic.LOG also goes more “Thrashy” with this release and has some brilliant orchestral backgrounds for few of the songs which make it a complete new-yet-old eargasm.USP if you ask ? – Randy’s bone shattering vocals.
With him the album sounds their heaviest work till date (excluding Burn The Priest)
The album kicks off with a painful but heavy intro and proceeds straight into a “in-your-face”kinda track – DESOLATION.
GHOST WALKING (superb acoustic riff) and GUILTY are for hardcore LOG fans, nothing unique musically but quite the punch from their previous albums.
For the people like me ( tastes gone haywire because of recent tech metal bands) – the REAL album starts after THE UNDERTOW.
Superb song structuring and mean drum-fills by Chris Adler pace up the album to infinity.
LOG have pepped up their feel by being more thrashy as well as groovy- which makes them even more tasty!
THE NUMBER SIX, INSURRECTION and TERMINALLY UNIQUE are tracks which tell you the calibre of the band,technically.
Guitars swing ridiculously and pedel-presses are bad-ass, specially in INSURRECTION.
TO THE END marks the perfect foreclosure with aggressive but groovy and flowing choruses.
The closing track KING ME is what is the highlight and probably the most versatile track in the album. Comprising of the aforementioned orchestral arrangements and female backing vocals , it literally dilates your pupils.
Randy Blythe (Vocalist) is one member who stands out in this album.
Delivering his most melodic choruses and rage-driven growls at the same time.
The surprise element is the small patch of a song which has his clean vocals!
I wont be more of a spoilt-sport and leave the anxiety to work its magic when you hear every song.
A great start to the new year – this album definitly is going to gather more lambs to slaughter before their metal gods!
RATING : 9/10

Cynic – Carbon Based Anatomy (Progressive ,Fusion, Groove Metal)

Cynic started off as a band with fusion elements and “robotic” processor based vocals. Their wagon got momentum with their first LP “Traced in air” which was nothing short of brilliance. Fusing elements of Jazz ,metal and blending beautiful tonal atmospherics Cynic is a band which comes along once a decade. “One album wonders” have made way into the market and still do almost everyday but with their new EP – Carbon Based Anatomy – Cynic just reached the new checkpoint in their musical journey.The EP is short. 20 minutes is all you get.The album fuses elements from India – Tabla ,shlok(hymn) and some odd timed sitar work. If this is the first record you will be hearing from Cynic i urge you to do so on a noise canceling headset. Jaw dropping interludes at the most unexpected places is their specialty.The much appreciated (also ridiculed at the same time) robotic vocals snug in perfectly in every song. The way these guys stick to their tight song writing and detail to each passage in the song is commendable.The songs are NOTHING like their first album. They managed to change their “Sound” and yet sound amazing!
“Carbon based anatomy” the 2nd track of the album – has the most downright melodic outbursts supported by drums sounding like gunshots. A feast to the ears and you get depressed when it ends in just 20 mins ( with 3 interludes).
“Box up my bones” has the Cynic complexity to it and “Elves Beam Out” gets you bouncing to the most synth-prog-metal fusion you would hear in recent times.
Progressive metal/music certainly has its best year with the slew of releases and Cynic just added a gorgeous Ep to the list.Ive never thanked the internet so much – and thanked possibly my existence – their album and now their EP is the best thing to have fallen on my humble ears.

Carbon based Anatomy : –

Keshav Dhar – India’s First Djentleman !

Keshav Dhar probably also knows how to MAKE an instrument by now.He does everything that is ever related to conceptualizing and materializing music.
He plays the guitar,produces music and also has his solo project – Hydrojent.
Probably India’s first band to have Maximum Djent Twang!

Keshav Dhar got the fame (much deserved) when he released two of the most progressive, ambient and layered tracks iv heard in recent times. Best part being- from an indian artist!
Hold your breath when i say – vocals – Dan Tompkins ( ex- TesseracT) and guitars Marty Friedman -( ex Megadeth) !The lineup for these two tracks ,with the featuring artists , itself made me anxious .

And what i head was more than music! Keshav makes way for a unique “sound” thats not only ambient and soothing but also heavy and djenty.

Dan’s vocals are perfectly suited and Marty rolls up his sleeve big time to create something not usually in his style of playing.The two tracks – Celestial and Catharsis are definitely a big add on  in the increasingly popular subgenre of  progressive metal .

To experience the awesomeness check this out!

1.Celestial
2.Catharsis
both featuring Dan Tompkins (ex- TesseracT) and Marty Friedman(ex- Megadeth)

 

Alter Ego

Thank you for all the support – i request you to join me on the blogger website too

http://www.metalmyreligion.blogspot.com

Uneven Structure – Februus (Djent,Math,Progressive Metal)


Apart from their mouthwatering cuisine and romantic hotspots , the french have yet again offered us – Uneven Structure.

They came out with their EP in 2009 – time when the Djent scene was picking up pace – and it wasnt untill  a year later that their efforts got the credit(globally) it deserved. These guys have been on my ipod for almost a year now and their musical brilliance still baffles me.

Two words to describe this album – Heavily Ambient
Right from the first track “Awaken” to the aptly named “Finale” you are made to bow down before this pagan-god themed album. The echoing screams and the crystal clear vocals blend in effortlessly into each track.
The beauty of Februus is that even when the songs reach their climax in terms of heaviness – the atmosphere created is nothing short of serene.
“Frost” – my pick from the album- has its atmospheric passages which make you feel you are actually coming in terms to something that is beyond words and celestial . The influence of Tesseract is quite audible but the dark ambient passages which throw a bright light of maximum “djenty twang” is something that is signature Uneven Structure.

With the saturation of bands trying to go over-board with Djent guitar tone – Uneven structure preserves their progression from their EP and add up brilliant atmospherics and insane drum rudiments to their debut LP.
Fans of ANY sub-genre of metal can seamlessly fit into their style of music as it caters to ears that crave for melody as well as musical complexity and brutality.

This album is a sure winner in the slew of releases of the similar genre (as of yet – we still have Vildhjarta to surprise us)  and marks the beginning of a band which knows exactly HOW to harness the power of Djent .

Recommended Tracks
1.Frost

…and the whole album!

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