Archive for December, 2008

h1

[Recommendation] Hello Madness – Light and Life After Dusk

December 14, 2008

hellomadness

Alejandro Millán, ex member of Stream Of Passion and Elfonía released his debut solo album on popular bittorent site Demonoid on the 21st of November 2008. Along with Alejando, there is Pablo González-Sarre on bass and Enrique González on drums. Alejando does the vocals, piano, keyboards and concertina.

The news article mentioned it was a blend of progressive and alternative rock with influences from Porcupine Tree, Muse, Keane and Coldplay. This drew my attention as I am a huge Porcupine Tree fan and 90% of my library is a mix of those two genres. On the other hand I was thinking to myself this is going to be a mess of different sounds mashed together. Keane and Coldplay I strongly dislike and Muse are just above average at best. It was at this point I got it, it’s free so why not!

This album certainly would appeal to fans of neo-prog with it’s dark beat and slow tempo along with the depressive lyrics. “I long for you, I die for you” Really I feel it is Blackfield meets Keane. To me it is not as progressive as bands such as Porcupine Tree or Marillion but you can constantly hear the influence.

So in conclusion this is a great mix, creating a real emotional piece of music.

Sample: Destiny is too late download

Written by Oliver Sayers

Advertisements
h1

[Review] The Slip – Nine Inch Nails

December 4, 2008

The Slip

Only a couple of months after the debut of Ghosts I-IV, Nine Inch Nails released yet another album. On May the 5th, The Slip was made available for download which was absolutely free. It’s posted on their official website (nin.com) as being a generous gesture to their continuous supporting fans. It’s pretty clear that Trent is taking advantage of the freedom he has, now not being tied to a record label in the industry he pretty much despises. Both Ghosts I-IV and The Slip are self indulgent experiments, being completely different from anything else you’ve ever heard produced by Trent and co.

The intro was far from exciting and to be honest was quite simply dull, which then suddenly blasts into the first song “1,000,000”. The drumming couldn’t be more unimaginative throughout the entire album, which has to be my first major critical comment. Think back to their older material, specifically that of which Jerome Dillon performs in; with frenetic, pounding bass lines and intense speed, in other words an angry man on speed. There is absolutely no comparison what so ever. Not only that but as with the rest of the album they have succeeded in being as loud as possible, which doesn’t always make good music. The first track is only the beginning of the disappointment to come from this album.

The faster tracks on the album are so incredibly loud that it actually works well with Trent’s lyrical release. On the other hand it does sound a little too distorted. The layering of sounds and construction of the songs sound quite messy but still surprisingly accomplishes in being rhythmical. The mixture of banging guitar riffs and modified electronic noises created with the synthesizer somewhat inspires a tension in the listener. This is distinctive during the first half of the album, the track in particular “Letting You.”

The second half of the album is in a way beautifully depressing, especially in the track “Lights In The Sky” which is a mournful piano piece with Trent’s vocals. “Corona Radiata” would be better suited on the Ghosts I-IV album along with “The Four Of Us Are Dying.” The final track on the album may sound familiar to you as it is the one of the instrumentals from Ghosts (which can be found on the special edition dvd) with added vocals.

I personally am a big fan Nine Inch Nails and Trent Reznor. Nevertheless, I thought this album was an immense disappointment. To be honest I don’t prefer any track over others. It’s not an album to hate, but certainly nothing to enthuse over. Seeing as it was free though it’s not one you can really slate all that much. I wouldn’t recommend this album; luckily though you wouldn’t be wasting your money anyway.

As a conclusion I believe Nine Inch Nails are attempting to do something different, too different, and not succeeding very well. However, with individual downloads surpassing 1.4 million I guess the response was alright. The Slip was a sub-standard album which all the fans had high hopes for, can it be forgiven? The last decent thing produced was the Year Zero album. After 20 years have the band reached the final stand? Is there still hope? With recent rumours of the former Lostprophets drummer joining the band in 2009 confirmed who knows. But I won’t be getting my hopes up anymore, I’ll remember, love and enjoy the best of Nine Inch Nails.

[C] Nothing but disappointment throughout the album. A perilous experiment, one which shouldn’t have been risked nor rushed.

Written by Lauren Smith

h1

[Review] The Dark Third – Pure Reason Revolution

December 3, 2008

Pure_Reason_Revolution_-_The_Dark_Third

I will assume you have not heard of Pure Reason Revolution before. They are a 4-piece Progressive Rock band formed in 2003 at the University of Westminster but originally formed in Reading, Berkshire under the name The Sunset Sound. Their sound is comparable to the likes of Porcupine Tree, Marillion and Pink Floyd. The credits for this album were; Chloë Alper, Jon Courtney, Andrew Courtney, James Dobson, Gregory Kong and Jamie Willcox. Two members, Dobson and Andrew Courtney left in November 2006 with Jong leaving in  early 2005 so I am not very certain on how much work he did for this.

They have released various singles and EPs but today I am reviewing, their debut album The Dark Third which was released on April the 10th 2006 by Holograph (Sony BMG) later to be dropped due to low record sales and they are now with Superball Music recording their latest. But do not let Sony’s miss judgement colour your opinion of this great band. The album title is referring to the ‘dark third’; this is the third of our lives we spend asleep and dreaming.

As a summary they are well known and loved, rightfully so for their fantastic vocal harmonising. I have not been blessed with this impressive sound in any other way similar to this album, with four vocalists all extremely talented this really does set them apart as I said. This is what got me it hooked in the first place, I was listening to my last.fm recommendations radio and all of a sudden, bam. Goshen’s Remains came on and I knew these guys were incredible.

Aeropause, a great opening track in my opinion. This is where PRR get to show us their great instrumental work by creating a relaxing, calm and psychedelic starter which is obviously why I mentioned Pink Floyd earlier. Nothing exactly stands out here, quite like a Floyd track does with sudden outbreaks of great keyboard solo’s or guitar but still nevertheless a great modern take on psychedelic music with PRR’s common electro flavour. This is really the only track with a true psychedelic sound. PRR do however keep bringing it back. Goshen’s Remains, right from the very beginning the guitar carries you into this special place, a soothing place. The outstanding vocal harmonies begin and it is like heaven. This track shows off their more heavier grunge sound later on, which I adore and suits them very well.

You might be thinking to yourselves in doubt at this point as to how all these different genres can be mixed so beautifully, it is similar to that of Fair to Midland. It just works! Some albums I find myself really disliking sudden changes in sound and often say to myself “this isn’t needed, keep to X sound.” As I said they have an electro sound to them which I bring up now as they layer it on top perfectly. It is not traditional electronic music however, it is more electronic pops and farts, space age beats added in to their classic sound.

Although they are heavily reliant on their vocal harmonising in which the guys harmonise with Chloë and sing the back up, Apprentice of the Universe does not feature Chloë on vocals for the first couple of minutes which brings a nice change to the table.

Their darker sound, comparable to the likes of Marillion and Porcupine Tree as I said above is most prominent for the first minute or so of Nimos & Tambos and for me was a great surprise, I am a huge fan of the neo-prog subgenre and they do not disappoint in this field. The drum work is also fantastic on this song, simple rhythms to complex patterns, Andrew can do it all.

As a conclusion then, a remarkable debut that really shows me that this band is going places. I do think instrumentally there is room for improvement, or more epicness. You know, let them break out into an amazing solo or two. Really though I am nitpicking, the sound they create would not exactly need this. I just feel it could be one way for them to progress and bring in a wider audience. I personally would like to hear some more electronic work as well to bring them even further apart from anything else I have heard.

[B+] A different sound to most Prog Rock album’s that shouldn’t disappoint. Dark and upbeat. Powerful, yet calm.

Written by Oliver Sayers

h1

[Review] Patrick Wolf – Lycanthropy

December 3, 2008

lycanthropy

Okay, since no one has really touched on the subject of this album on the internet, I thought I may as well. With Patrick Wolf being talented with many instruments and being so young when creating this album, it’s quite easy to imagine it’s going to be a large clash of sounds. In many respects it is a clash of sounds, but with the edges smoothed to help blend in all these different instruments and sounds.

While Prelude may not be the most exciting opening I’ve ever heard for an album, it quickly decends into Wolf Song which harbours many of Wolf’s folk influences. With Patrick’s nice and soothing (yet camp!) vocals emerging, it’s already safe to assume you’re in the hands of a man who knows how to write a song. From the pounding drums to the hand claps to guitar, it just shines with positive energy. This is one of the corners of music that Wolf covers, with many more corners to go.

Bloodbeat is the first taste of his electro side in his music, with the precussion and synths on full attack, it’s a nice change. The song goes through a range of emotions, with haunting vocals echoing in the chorus and Patrick’s voice singing over the top gives a weird twist to the song.

To The Lighthouse is a great song and combines the best of the previous two songs, with folk and electro both on the cards, the folktronica quickly assembles itself. While this song does feel similar, it’s a refreshing mix of everything great so far. With a lack of sight of anything string based for a while, it’s no suprise Pigeon Song emerges from the shadows with a sound which later largely dictate the sound of Wind In The Wires, soothing but no one my favourites on the album.

Don’t Say No is yet again a trip to the folktronica section, on a seperate I think the blyrics are somewhat something that have always sat in my head and something I doubt I will ever forget.

“I used to say just follow your heart
But my heart always led me in circles
And I used to say just follow your dreams
But my dreams always led me to murder”

While I think it’s quite obvious that Wolf has never murdered anyone, I do feel they do corrospond strongly to real life events which may have effected, possibly regreting things he has done in life?

The Childcatcher is a song I can’t stand, quite a depressing song, yet again the lyrics are somewhat quite notable. With such a strong emphasis on Patrick’s vocals and lyrics, I feel they are horrible, yet something you won’t forget. Personally I try to avoid this song and I advise you too as well, but the electro bits are really cool. So it could be worth checking out if you can get past the vocals. This song is followed by Demolition which I have to admit is very good, but feels more ambient and instrumental rather than a full blown song. It’s good and a song that shines out to me on the album, even if at first it appears gloomy, there’s not enough in this song to write that much about it apart from the vocals not being as powerful as always, but still good, I guess.

London and Paris would personally be my favourite tracks of the album, London starting off with chilling sustained notes from the voices of women before a cool drum beat drops into the back, quite an awesome opening to the song. Quickly it turns into more material that sounds like Wind In The Wires, with strings appearing and the cool drums quikly reappearing. It makes a good combination, I recommend this song above all the others, worth checking out in every respect. Paris is quite a misleading song, as it starts off with violins(?) and quickly goes into probably what I consider the heaviest electro beat off the album so far. This song is also worth checking out.

Now we reach a small decline in the album with Peter Pan being too basic and short compared to the rest of the album and A Boy Like Me having probably the worst electronic sounds on the album by a long way and I just found Lycanthropy boring. I personally advise you to check these songs out yourself to judge, but I am not a fan of any of those.

Epilogue is a short and a sweet song that really feels like it could have been something more and replaced the last three tracks. With some interesting ‘glitchy’ effects in the song it really gives something unique to it, it’s worth checking out.

Now if only more artists were willing to cross genres to this extent. This album was followed by Wind In The Wires, which you get deja vu slightly from this album with some of it’s string-based and acoustic tracks. That was then followed by The Magic Position which was a return to the genre-crossing.

[B+] Brilliant album that engrosses you all the way, through the melodic and wonderful, to dark and weird.

Written by Christopher Kenrick

h1

[Recommendation] Traced In Air

December 1, 2008

Traced In Air cover

After their breakup in 94′ Cynic are back to bring us a new album on the french label ‘Seasons of Mist’ released on the 17th of November 2008, now broken down into four members consisting of three original members, Paul Masvidal, Sean Malone and Sean Reinert with the new additon of guitarist and singer Tymon Kruidenier. I myself am new to the band so cannot comment on their original sound.

This album is a mix of two things I love, it packs aggressive metal yet perfectly mixed in with an ambient sound comparable to the likes of pg.lost. The sheer epicness shines throughout this release and sends a shiver down your spine. Opening up with dark other-world-ly sounds accompanied by a dominant, gradually building drumbeat leading into a fantastic opening riff.

Around a minute into The Space for This you are hit with an almost explosive experience as the music switches from the ambient sound it opens with into the incredible technical metal of this superb 4-way. The album continues on in this fashion of switching between the different sounds, continuously surprising you with the great variation of soft and heavy as I mentioned previously.

I do not want to go into much detail of each track but if you like, technical and highly experimental metal then this should definitely be one to check out for yourself.

For fans of:

  • Opeth
  • Between the Buried and Me
  • Pain of Salvation

Sample: The Space For This download

Written by Oliver Sayers

h1

Our opening review – Phantom on the Horizon

December 1, 2008

phantomonthehorizon1

Well. Welcome to Interstellar Sounds, where a bunch of us review music. To open this site up, I’m going to post my most recent and relevant review: Phantom on the Horizon; the latest release by The Fall of Troy. This is a concept album by those overly-talented-kids.

Before you read this, I am assuming you have heard the Ghostship EP. If you haven’t, go do it, it’s brilliant.

Wow, how long have we been waiting for this now? 4 years or something? And it’s finally here. Many of you, especially you Fall of Troy fan boys, must be wondering how this measures up to the Ghostship EP and their previous release, Manipulator. Well, I question you back… what are you expecting?
Their self-titled album, the Ghosthip EP and Doppelganger all have this sense of ‘rawness’ to it, which is one of the main reasons why they grew a fan base in the first place. To people who listened to the Ghostship EP, let me put it like this: more vocals, better instruments and a sense of The Mars Volta looms about it as some points (Deloused era, naturally).

The problem The Fall of Troy has is that it’s fans are (in my eyes) one of two people, the people who love them for the previously mentioned rawness and their live performances, then there are those who have been waiting for this band to create an album that truly fills their artistic imagination. This album reaches the limits of their imagination like never before, with brilliant production and effects.

Chapter I: Introverting Dimensions starts playing in a similar yet alternative fashion to the EP, some new eerie sounds are playing the bass line from the original while Andrew is tapping along and Thom and Frank come in. It continues to remain pretty similar, but with Thom’s new vocals and a number of extra production elements, such as Thom dubbing new lines over his own voice in the chorus and a number of new effects are used to achieve that ‘creepy ghost ship’ sound they were aiming for.
One of the things that will probably split the opinion on this song is that Thom doesn’t scream as much, it seems he’s singing a lot more on this record and he’s a lot better too, especially with Frank backing him up on vocals. Franks vocals are quite different to Thom’s, but they mix for a treat when they’re singing together, if you want to hear Frank’s vocals on their own, check out ‘…Of Stalwart Fads’, his own band.

In terms of the band’s performance on this album, I think it’s the top of their game. Andrew has really improved in my opinion; his beat has become appropriately quicker in some sections and has rewritten some sections quite drastically, but for the best. Thom still has his impressive guitar skills, but more importantly, his vocals work has really, really improved and the fact that Frank can harmonise with Thom so beautifully purely amplifies the fact that they are both great vocalists. Frank’s bass playing is sadly a bit drowned out, but his technique gives it this subtle roar which really works.

Now I should mention Chapter IV: Enter the Black Demon and Chapter V: The Walls Bled Lust, which are probably the more famous tracks off of this album. Yet again on Chapter IV and V, you’ll notice the main differences is Thom’s voice and Frank’s voice taking almost complete dominance over the rest of these songs, as pretty much the rest of the song remains unchanged, which is great, as instrumentally, these songs have been top-notch since they were written. The best way to look at it is that these old songs have returned with a new ‘paintjob’, they’ve dressed these songs up with brand-new spanking production and effects.

I also noticed that, lyrically, they songs remain unchanged too, with Thom screaming that they’re being threatened by some enemies on their ship (Part I).
‘Shoot to kill, but they just won’t die!’
The bow starts to tip, out of the corner of my eye.’
It also has the conversations with the demon remaining on there (Part V).
Black Demon – ‘God’s not a goldmine, God’s on the inside, selling everybody on the frontlines out.
Did you think your were right side in, maybe inside out?
Reaching for, the gun, to load and persuade you, to stay…’

The lyrics naturally work together to tell a story, it’s worth checking them out (hopefully the physical copy will have a lyric booklet).

Trying to piece this concept together is interesting, but I the lyrics gave me the impression that they’re sailing on their ship, then they’re attacked by a demon ghost ship that destroys the boat and somehow gets into Thom’s head, tormenting him in some weird universe before sending him back into the water and for him to manage to get to the shore and save himself. This is purely my own interpretation though and I haven’t got to make out the lyrics to Chapter III.
Chapter II: A Strange Conversation, this wasn’t even featured on the popular demo; I believe this was just a cheap little single they did. So how has it been improved/butchered you may ask? Well, yet again, it’s very similar to before, but one section has been a bit modified and there appears to be a presence of a female vocalist in this song at one point (as well as Chapter III), it’s either that or Erak has gone Bixler-Zavala on us, which is fine, either way [Turns out it is likely to be Ryan Donnelly from Schoolyard Heroes, a band that is friends with The Fall of Troy, so no suprise there]. Due to the previous recording sounding pretty horrible, it’s nice to see this song in the form that it imagined to be. To me, the verses are pretty epic and amazing; resulting in this being one of the best Fall of Troy songs to exists.

The interludes are better than I imagined, this is where some comparisons to The Mars Volta’s Deloused in the Comatorium can kick in a bit, as I’m sure many people who have heard The Mars Volta have noted how in the middle of some songs they go into some quiet freestyle interludes. Well, they draw from that, but to give a sense of ‘calm after the storm’ as they small instrumentals are incredibly beautiful.

Last, but not least I would like to mention Chapter III: Nostalgic Mannerisms… this song fits the rest of the album like a glove, while also contrasting by having the least amount of heavy parts. I don’t want to spoil this song too much for everyone who hasn’t listened to this yet, but there are some pretty experimental parts in this sea of interludes that start at roughly half-way through the song. I was not disappointed.

My conclusion is that this album was not a let down in a slightest, providing you were hoping for The Fall of Troy to try and progress and improve upon the sound of the EP and the band themselves. I think they were waiting for a time that would allow them to fully accomplish their vision that they had of this album and with a new bassist, good production and having released the previously mediocre Manipulator, they obviously felt it was time to kick things into artistic overdrive. If you wanted the Ghostship EP exactly the same as before (but with two new tracks), then you are out of luck, my friend.

A masterpiece.

Pros:
– Thom’s vocals are much improved and Frank’s are good too.
– The core of the songs remain relatively unchanged.
– The new production and effects help this album come alive
– Nostalgic memories to those have heard the Ghostship EP.
– I believe this could really influence other post-hardcore and punk acts to expand on their sound.
– A lot better than the awful Manipulator.

Cons:
– Their much adored energy and ‘rawness’ aren’t anywhere near as visible as on previous releases.
– Less screaming. Although I prefer it that way.
– Despite the fact I enjoyed Thom’s singing, it’s become quite obvious it’s a very selective thing.

All I can do is urge you to listen to it as a whole, with no disruptions and try to enjoy the music. If you don’t, you don’t… If you do, then that’s brilliant.
[A] Innovative. Powerful. Hopefully influentual.

Written by Christopher Kenrick