Delain – Moonbathers (Review)

DelainDelain are a symphonic metal band from The Netherlands and this is their fifth album.

Delain are one of those bands that I feel I should have heard a long time ago, but Moonbathers is actually my first encounter with the band’s material.

Within Temptation and Nightwish are the obvious reference points for a band like this, and Continue reading

Between the Buried and Me – Coma Ecliptic (Review)

BTBAMBetween the Buried and Me are a progressive Extreme Metal band from the US. This is their eighth album.

If you haven’t encountered Between the Buried and Me before then you’re in for a treat. They’re one of the best examples of a band individualising what they do, and what they do is progressive Extreme Technical Metal. It’s a bit of a mouthful but it’s hard to describe this band in simple terms. Over the course of their career they’ve pretty much done it all, and over time they’re only getting more ambitious with their releases.

As with anything like this though, it’s not for everyone. If you favour music that has traditional song structures and predictable layouts, then move quietly along. If, however, you like the idea of listening to a band that can effortlessly combine the type of stuff you’d hear from bands like Queen, Deicide, Dream Theatre and The Dillinger Escape Plan, while simultaneously remaining entirely their own entity, then make sure you check this out.

This latest album is as ambitious and grandiose as always, more so in many respects. Piano and keyboards probably feature even more heavily than previously and add to the progressive structures in innumerable ways.

The singer uses both clean vocals and growls, although there seems to be a trend developing now that shows him using his clean vocals more and more. This is reflected in the music too, as the band use blast beats more sparingly than they used too as well. It may be less extreme than some of their other work, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s any more accessible for the average listener. After all, there are more ways to be extreme than just playing fast.

The music is flawlessly delivered and the level of musicianship on Coma Ecliptic is staggeringly high; this is a band who know how to work their instruments. The compositions are long and involved, as usual, although the average track length is slightly shorter than some of their previous work.

Eschewing anything close to standard song structures, Between the Buried and Me are all about the song sections and how these holistically fit together. There’s a lot to take in over these 69 minutes and the album certainly requires multiple spins to give up its secrets.

All of the songs have their own personality, as you would imagine, and it’s easy to differentiate between them. They’ve always been a highly textured and nuanced band, and this only seems to be becoming more pronounced over time.

Anyone into challenging music that successfully mixes progressive music with extremity, heaviness and quirkiness should definitely check this out.

Effa Lente – The Effa Lente Configuration- Parts 1-4 (Review)

Effa LenteEffa Lente is a one-man Irish project that plays Instrumental Progressive Rock. This is his first release.

Apparently inspired by watching a Quentin Tarantino film, this is noticeably cinematic music that has a lot of different moods and themes throughout its 45 minute playing time

Did I mention that it’s just one 45 minute track? Well it is.

Various moods, emotions and feelings play out during this extended playing time and the impression is very much one of a Progressive Rock film score.

It’s as if Steven Wilson, Anathema, Opeth, Queen, King Crimson, Glorie and The Monroe Transfer all got together to score a film. It’s a very impressive listen that manages to fully engage and hold the attention despite not having any vocals to act as a focal point.

The music jumps around all over the place in a seemingly natural way, rather akin to how the different scenes in a film move from one to the next. It never seems jarring and almost has a narrative feel to it as different themes are taken, explored and then left until we meet up with them again at a later point for either a resolution or a cliffhanger.

70s moods and contemporary Rock sounds merge together in a cinematic melange that is very impressive. Considering this is the brains behind the outfit’s first attempt at doing something of this nature it’s a huge success.

Not just a listen, but an experience.

Kouzin Bedlam – Longing for the Incomplete (Review)

Kouzin BedlamKouzin Bedlam are a Finnish Heavy Metal band and this is their début album.

This is expressive Heavy Metal that’s enhanced with keyboards as well as some Progressive Metal and Power Metal streaks.

Their sound is a very enticing one that mixes elements of bands like Queensrÿche, Iron Maiden, Kamelot and Queen. It’s very listenable and has instant character and appeal.

Longing for the Incomplete is a very strong collection of songs. The band know how to play and everything comes off silky smooth and ultra-polished, but with the important accolade of not losing the band any of their life or colour.

The music is textured, rich and involving. There are lots of hooks and bucketloads of catchiness. The songs have memorable melodies and tunes as well as many interesting ideas and a great deal of variety.

All in all these songs are ridiculously good! In some ways it’s hard to believe that this is a just a début album as the level of songwriting here is stellar.

The singer has a great voice that’s capable of dealing with anything that’s required of it. Pretty much any style is within his range and his performance on this album is staggeringly good.

When this style of Metal is done well it takes me back to when I was getting into music for the first time and everything seemed so exciting and new. Kouzin Bedlam fill me with the same kind of feeling; not so much because of nostalgia, but just because of how damn good this is!

This puts me in mind of Trinity Road by All Seeing Eyes; Kouzin Bedlam don’t particularly sound like All Seeing Eyes, but the comparison is apt as both bands have recently released a pure blinder of an album. Had I listened to this album earlier then it definitely would have featured in my 2014 end of year list.

What a great album by a great band. Essential listening.