Ok. So after splurging my last paycheck on an absolute tonne of stuff, from concert tickets to Blu-Rays of concerts (with a crap load of albums and graphic novels in there somewhere too), I’ve instituted the second “Don’t buy anything” month here on the blog, so as not to run out of money and get evicted from my house and have to build a nest out of 2nd-hand CDs from Zoverstocks and start eating Batman comics for sustenance.
I say second, because if the title of the post didn’t already give it a way, this is an ongoing series. In the summer I became inspired by the awesome Heavy Metal Overload blog and decided that if I’m going to go easy on my spending, I should make it easier on myself by occupying the time I would normally spend shopping by blogging about my abstinence and what temptations almost cause me to break it. You can read how the first month turned out here. (…Or, if you don’t particularly care about how a 25 year old nerd doesn’t spend his money, and are just killing time online, you can read about the construction of Sock-Animals here.)
I’m nineteen days into the month and have now failed in my challenge. As you probably remember I went to see Queensryche play live this week and bought a tour shirt. Damn. I avoided buying one for Bodom and Napalm Death when I saw them despite loving them and them deserving it, but Queensryche were just to brilliant for my resolve to hold.
Due to this failure I have decided to impose a forfeit. I’m adding an extra five days on to the end of the challenge.
Back to the formula then. What is tempting me to break my vow of no-non-essential-purchases this time?
Well. I’ve recently been exploring Insomnium on youtube after seeing them and being totally won over by them when they supported Children Of Bodom. I had never heard of them before but now am very keen on getting to know them. Their music is very much in the European Melodeath mould, but there’s just something so tasteful and free-of-the-bad-parts that really excites me. Their sound, attitude, musicianship and lack of cheese are all massive plusses and how good they were live has really made me want to become a fan.
I think I’d pick up their newest album first since I’ve never heard anyone talk about them and don’t have any knowledge over which album is “the classic” and which is “the disappointment” like you usually do with bands.
I know its a bit counterproductive to plan purchases during the no-purchase challenge, but I’m definitely going to get at least one Insomnium record off the back of that performance, as with what happened when I saw Rise To Remain and Amon Amarth supporting bands I liked.
The other thing that has me curious and ready to make a purchase is the band Pissing Razors. I think I may have heard the name in passing, once, in about 2002, and assumed they were a Nu Metal band of no particular renown or importance.
I can’t even remember how anymore, but I heard on of their songs on Youtube last week and it was a brilliant mixture of the sort of things that Lamb Of God and Devildriver drop into their Metalcore that makes people call them Groove Metal.
Yes. At last. I found a Groove Metal band. I wanted the genre to exist so much, I’ve talked about it in many First Impressions, such as with Black Label Society and Prong. The albums always fell short of what I wanted though.
When I listen to these guys however, its like somebody said. “The only albums that have ever existed are Cowboys From Hell, Vulgar Display, Demanufacture, Chas AD, Burn My Eyes and The More Things Change. Now go make an album.”
They have the best formula for my brain. None of the songs I heard lit my world on fire to be honest, but I want an album or two to find out more about them.
Otherwise right now I am good. Comics aren’t tempting me too much nor are videogames right now. I can’t think of a music Blu Ray that I can’t wait until the end of the challenge for and I’ve got enough movies and television shows at the moment to keep me calm. Music is the main threat at the minute.
So. Onto the other bit of the article then; Listening to stuff to distract me from wanting to buy stuff:
Now I know that usually I write about an album that I’ve had a while and overlooked, but Protest The Hero have just put up their new album for streaming and I’m low on time so I’m blogging and checking it out simultaneously. Efficient ey?
The first song, the opener and lead single “Clarity” seems quite similar to the style found on the Scurrilous album; they’ve toned down the wackiness and heaviness and concentrated on making things easier to take. There’s still a lot of what makes them “them” in there too though. I think it will be a grower and getting to know the lyrics will make it more memorable.
I love the break when they bring in the female vocals (same singer as on the last three albums) and drop the little Floydy guitar lick.
You can’t really tell their drummer has changed at all. Its not ridiculous to imagine that its Chris Adler from Lamb Of God, but at the same time I wouldn’t have guessed it was him if nobody told me first.
The next song, ‘Drumhead Trial’ is quicker, more frantic and sounds a bit Dragonforce-esque vauguely, while not loosing the Coheed similarity that makes me like the band. Man I just love Roddy’s voice so much. I hope he’s this good when I see them live in February. There’s a brilliant quiet bit with a snare roll going underneath, that sounds like a mixture of Morning View era Incubus and Motely Crue’s ‘Kickstart My Heart’ before going into a great trade off between male and female vocals over music that reminds me of Kezia.
‘Tilting Against Windmills’ is up next. It opens with a riff that sounds like the boss level in a SNES game. Its main riff reminds me of the songs on Scurrilous about touring. When he actually sings the titular lyric the music is reminiscent of ‘Dunzel.’ I love how he delivers the line “…an ignorant prick!”
The next song has a little cinematic intro before heading into what is essentially a guitar solo at this point. ‘Without Prejudice’ its called. Its music is the most original so far. Its very enjoyable indeed. I can see myself getting addicted to it on multiple listens. The way the parts transition from one to another is great. The fast bits are exciting and the chorus is catchy as hell. I like the bit with the tons of drum fills in a row. The bass solo and Dream Theater sounding bit in which it fits is very interesting, its cool. They haven’t did anything like this before but it sounds totally like them. There’s a sample then and it dramatically cuts to the next song.
‘Yellow Teeth’ follows with some punky energy. Its got a mix of tempos and some stupidly-good guitar parts. Some of it is a bit closer to Kezia than Fortress too, although the vocals are very much in the Scurrilous mould. There’s so much character and creativity in his inflections, delivery and range. There’s a brilliant mid section that sounds like the emotional bit in a Mudvayne song. Maybe ‘Rain Sun Gone’ or ‘We The People.’
Those last two songs were great. Lets hope it keeps it up.
‘Plato’s Tripartite’ comes up next. Its different than their previous work, but the vocal’s and drums are especially fun. Its interesting, because in a way this is a bit more commercial than everything else apart from ‘Clarity’ and yet its so unique and un-radio that it probably wouldn’t become a single. There’s a great mid-section that actually evokes a sort of Anathema vibe. Its got that sourt of mournful beauty to it. Then it goes into a brilliant tech section in a weird time sig and shows of how great as players the musicians are. I love their guitar players so much. They play things that just tickle every single part of my brain and hit every preference I’ve got hard. It cuts to an acoustic bit. I loved the acoustic parts on the debut. The way the vocals are layered over eachother is fantastic. Now that’s how you end a song!
‘A Life Embossed’ starts off with a bit of techy stuff and a lot of heaviness and savagery. It’s a return to the Fortress style. Its cool, its tight as hell and yet it has that loose cannon, anything could happen feel. The death vocals sound like a guest appearance, I wonder who is singing them? This song is great. Some of the parts are so chunky and satisfying. You can really pump your fist to this.
At the end, there’s a part that actually reminds me of At The Drive In and My Dying Bride at the same time (seriously, weird mixture!) it’s the bit where he says ‘you should look up the facts.’ I can hear the faint whiff of The Cry Of Mankind and Arcaresenal in there.
‘Mist’ is a bit more pop-punky. This could be a single. The vocal melody on ‘I Don’t Think I Would Give A Damn’ would sell people CDs when I grew up. The lyrics are interesting and seem to be about being in a band. Some jerk unhelpful-ed my Amazon review of Scurrilous just because he doesn’t like personal lyrics. He’d hate this. There’s a brilliant summery Coheedy bit towards the end that reminds me of the ‘No Woman Is A Whore’ bit from ‘Turn Soonest To The Sea.’ The guitar part is magical. It sounds like a sequence in a film where people fall in love. But one of those tasteful films like Sunshine Cleaning or Little Miss Sunshine or Jeff Who Lives At Home.
‘Underbite’ opens up with some beautiful acoustics and pianos and a part that sounds like Anathema’s new album as played by Steve Howe and Jeff Waters. Its wonderful.
Then it kicks in to the best thing on the album so far. A brilliant (more personal lyrics) dialogue on being in a rock band. Its heavy, energetic, emotional and the vocals have more character than your average band have on a whole album. This is brilliant. The music is beyond impressive but it still grabs you at a gut level. This is why I love the band so much. There’s some great bits in there. The bit with the backing vocals singing “its bullshit” is amazing. The hardcore influenced bit that ends the song (and sounds like it has a guest singer) is also fantastic.
‘Animal Bones’ is another heavy, techy, frantic and savage number for the Fortress-inclined crowd. At the beginning at least. They drop some stuff that sounds like Scurrilous later into it. This album is great at balancing everything the band have tried so far. That, and keeping it good without sounding like they’re just repeating themselves. I’m glad I preordered it instead of waiting until after my challenge had ended to pick it up.
‘Skies’ opens with a cool quiet bit that sounds fresh and new. Then it bangs into a heavy fast bit, and has a emotional chorus with frantic sweepy spidery guitars. The bit with the on/off little guitar solos absolutely captivates me. The lyrics are really interesting too. These guys really have the whole package covered. Umph, virtuosity, intelligence, fun, heaviness, lightness, speed and slow bits, and dynamic song structures all in one, topped of with a fuckload of character and a unique easily identifiable sound where you could always tell it was them. Goodness me, but I do love this band.
Overall; that was a very good new album. I hope it does well for them.
Next up to do some under-listened album re-listening as originally designed. This time I’m going to listen to Misplaced Childhood by the British NeoProg band Marillion.
I fell in love with Marillion’s Fish era a few years back (I have all of the Fish era albums on my wall as posters)
I listened to them obsessively for a while, and still listen to highlights regularly enough. I think all of their records (even the B-sides compilation) are fantastic. The first two songs on their debut are two of the best songs that anyone’s ever written as far as I’m concerned.
That being said, I’ve always found their third album a bit harder to listen to that the others. I don’t think I’ve given it the same amount of attention as I’ve given the others or as it deserves. Nominally, its one single song, like there’s a famous quote where the band had only been on stage a short time and said, we’ve only got one more song for you, and the crowd were shocked, but then they revealed that the song was ‘Misplaced Childhood.’
I don’t tend to think of it as one single song to be honest, I think that it feels more like individual tracks so I’m going to write about it that way, so each time I say ‘song’ you can substitute it for ‘section’ if that idea really upsets you.
I don’t know exactly why I don’t listen to it as much as the others. It may be the least heavy, or the most commercial or the theatricality may be the most embarrassing in the company of non-insiders. I’m not sure. I’ll spin it again now and see what happens.
The album starts with ‘Pseudo Silk Kimono.’ It’s the best track on the album. Its one of the best Marillion songs. Its one of my favourite songs period. It almost unbalances the album how much better it is than the rest of it.
That transitions into ‘Kayleigh,’ the big single. The pop-charts crossover. The one people who don’t like prog know. It opens up with a brilliant floydy little lick, then it transitions into a brilliant unique sparkly verse. The drum work is so fantastic. I love the way the kickdrum works. The vocals are sublime. Its absolutely fantastic.
Then the chorus bangs in. It’s a bit uncomfortable against my tastes. Its so 1980s pop music. The fact that its also good saves it, but it makes me recoil a bit every time. Then the Pearl Jam sounding guitar solo comes in and saves it. It really is a fantastic, emotional and powerful sounding song, its just that chorus that’s a bit dated and saccharine. The bass when it transitions back into that great intro verse is great. “By the waaaaaaay. Please Excuse me. So sorry.”
I’d love to cover this song and just change the keys in the chorus into heavy chugs. Then it’d be fantastic.
The song fades into ‘Lavender.’ Its also a tiny bit on the saccharine side, but the heavy drums save it. I also wish he didn’t say ‘dilly dilly’ but that’s just personal preference. The actual musicianship, performance and clarity of mixing are top notch.
‘Bitter Suite’ starts with a menacing synth line and some drum solo style goings on. It reminds me of Genesis’ first two albums without Gabriel. It starts to sound a bit Blade Runner when he starts talking about a spider. I like the bit where he starts singing in French, its sort of a reprise of lavender but for some reason it sounds a lot better.
‘Heart Of Lothian’ is next. Its one of the better songs. Its bouncy, got interesting drums, has a heavyish intro and sounds very Genesis influenced. The vocals have a lot of character about them.
‘Waterhole (Expresso Bongo)’ is one of the most unique and creative songs on here. Its got great tribal drums, a weird King Crimson style pattern musical theme and harsh vocals. Its one of the faster and more energetic numbers. Its hard to really describe. Its like a lot of toys coming alive when their owner is asleep and having a race
‘Lords Of The Backstage’ is an interesting bouncy, odd time-sig piece. I think Dream Theater used something very similar on one of the songs on Images And Words somewhere. Its rather short. Its got great drum fills on the double kicks and hi-hat. Almost Metal sounding in a way. Very Portnoy in fact. Very Fear Of A Blank Planet too. ‘Anesthetize’ in particular.
‘Blind Curve’ is an intense, multi-part, almost ten-minute affair that mixes styles from before in a sort of Animals era Pink Floyd sort of cold mechanical feel and lots of big build-ups. The bit in the middle where he keeps saying ‘Childhood’ over and over reminds me of Maynard James Keenan. Not in voice, but I could see him dancing jaggedly to it. It ends reprising Heart Of Lothian with a lot of umph.
‘Childhood’s End?’ opens up kind of like Coheed’s ‘Away We Go’ through a Duran Duran filter. I never noticed the fun skipping feeling to the drums before. I love this song once it picks up speed and energy. I had forgotten about this to be perfectly honest. Its quite a strong number. If I make a Marillion playlist again I’ll be sure to include it.
‘White Feather’ reminds me a bit of a more intense Saw Doctors crossed with Korpiklani. I guess there must be some Scottish folk influence in this one. It reminds me of levels with ports, pirates and seagulls in videogames. It’s a fun song, but it would be even cooler if they ended it by reprising ‘Pseudo Silk Kimono.’ That would give the album a more cyclical feel and help it seem like one big song more than it does currently. Maybe they considered it but didn’t want to be accused of copying Thick As A Brick, who knows?
Overall, I responed really well to that. The best in ages in fact. I still like the other albums better but that’s nothing to do with this one, it just because they are even more magical.
I’ve also listened to Dozer’s third album. Which is all good, all the time but which I overlook accidentally because their fourth one is so especially good. ‘Rising’ is one of the best stoner genre songs ever written. I heard someone on the Metal Hammer Podcast say they were “a bit of a joke” once. I aint laughing. This is some serious stuff right here. Check out ‘Feelgood Formula’ ‘Crimson Highway’ or ‘Spirit Fury Fire.’
Anyway. I should probably wrap things up here. I’m feeling dizzy and the computer screen is hurting my eyes.
See you soon.