Archive for June 1, 2008

If you’ve visited in the last 24 hours, you’ll have noticed that I posted 3 new album reviews almost right away: the new Kataklysm, Ihsahn, and Shannon. Unfortunately, a computer issue crept up and I had a spotty connection all week so I had to cram everything into one day. Things have been fixed and everything will hopefully return to normal so I should have a few things coming this week…..

At the top of the review list I have the new W.A.S.P. and Michael Schenker albums that I have been promising to write up but haven’t and the new Dokken record that is getting a fair amount of airplay. I’ve also been listening to the new Night Ranger album that comes out in July and the new Moonspell and Headhunter albums that are being released June 10th…..I wouldn’t mind getting a couple of these done by the weekend so everyone knows what they might be buying in the next few weeks but only if there’s time.

Some notable releases this week include the Man Raze debut, SURREAL, with Phil Collen (Def Leppard/Girl), Simon Laffy (Girl), Paul Crook (Sex Pistols) and the new Journey record, REVELATION, that is going to be a controversial album with the Steve Perry fanatics taking aim. The new Disturbed album hits stores also on Tuesday but I’m not sure if that’s on my list especially when I didn’t go out and buy the new Royal Hunt album last Tuesday! I’ve been spinning that Man Raze album and I’ve been on a Def Lep kick lately so that review is a definite.

So here’s what’s coming:

  • Man Raze – Surreal review
  • Journey – Revelation review (by the weekend)
  • Dokken – Lightning Strikes Again review
  • MSG – In The Midst Of Beauty review ( this WILL get done!)
  • W.A.S.P. – Dominator review
  • Current playlist
  • Metal Mixtape
  • any news that comes along

I have two projects that are ongoing: the first is making that database of my collection…..it’s not going well, I’m only about 300 albums in. The second is answering some questions that were sent to me for an interview, more on that later. I am also going to hit a Metal shop that I forgot about in Providence but I’m not sure what day that will happen. I normally don’t hit it because the selection is spotty but a search for a certain album has made this a mandatory stop this week and I’ve heard from a few people that the shop is doing well. I might take the digital camera with me so I can add some pictures to the hunt!

Rock on!

Steve

Shannon - Angel In Disguise (2008)

Shannon – Angel In Disguise (2008, Artist Service)

  1. Do You Know?
  2. Hungry For Love
  3. No More Lies
  4. Keep On Rolling
  5. No Better Times
  6. On And On
  7. Love In Your Eyes
  8. Long Gone
  9. Winter Night
  10. Coming Back To You
  11. Hang On
  12. Change Your Heart
  13. Road Of Desire

Band Lineup:
Olivier Del Valle – vocals
Patrice Louis – guitars
Nicolas Fixy – bass
Benjamin Bergerolle – drums
Thierry Dagnicourt – keyboards

Additional Musicians:
Renuad Hantson – duet (6) and background vocals (3)
Gianni Pontillo – background vocals (5)
Ben Venet – background vocals (1,2 & 5)
Bruno Levesque – background vocals (1,2 & 5)
Jens Walkenhorst – background vocals (1,2 & 5)
Ben Sotto – background vocals (9)
Joel “JoeHell” Jusmet – background vocals (7 & 8)

Produced by: Shannon

Total Time = 57:49

Shannon official website
Shannon MySpace page
Artist Service

French melodic rockers Shannon released ANGEL IN DISGUISE, their second proper album and third release, earlier in the year and here I am getting around to it now. Bad move on my part because I wasted a few good months of listening pleasure with this solid Hard Rock album. Shannon plays Melodic Hard Rock that is influenced by the late ’80s/early ’90s U.S. scene but there is also a Euro-Metal influence running through the record that makes it heavier.

I was hooked right away by the opening track ‘Do You Know?’ and I instantly knew that I would enjoy the whole record. The guitar is central to the sound with the keyboards enhancing the sound rather than overwhelming it and there is some cool double bass drumming. Olivier Del Valle’s vocals are soaring and I immeadiately compare him to Axe’s Bob Harris, Klaus Meine, Ted poley (Danger Danger), and Krokus’ Marc Storace. An interesting mix of vocal styles, the Meine and Storace comparison coming from an accent standpoint (Del Valle’s French accent is prominent but not distracting) especially when they used their higher register. One of the thing that a melodic band must do is have a solid opening number, ‘Do You Know?’ is just that, but what is even harder is to take it up a notch on the second song to solidify the listener. ‘Hungry For Love’ is another catchy, melodic Metal song with more heavy guitarwork and a thumping bassline that gets the foot tapping. Listen to those big multi-tracked background vocals, that’s what’s missing from some of the more popular bands’ releases lately, they give the song that larger than life feel.

‘No More Lies’ and ‘Keep On Rolling’ are more of the same driving Hard Rock, very similar to the first two songs, but ‘No Better Times’ has an opening guitar that has a tone that sounds like Krokus, who sound like AC/DC. It’s more of a boogie woogie feel with keyboards but not as straight forward as early Krokus but more along THE BLITZ/CHANGE OF ADDRESS era. ‘On And On’ is a keyboard laden power ballad that channels pure AOR pomp along the likes of Journey and includes a vocal contribution from Renaud Hantson of Furious Zoo. ‘Love In Your Eyes’ continues the ’80s Hard Rock feast as does ‘Long Gone’, a song that sounds like it came straight from Axe’s FIVE album from 1997. ‘Long Gone’ has an excellent guitar solo and soaring vocals to go along with the melodic hooks that are all over the album. ‘Winter Night’ is a Euro Power Metal song with a solid riff and a big chorus and ‘Coming Back To You’ slows down to a little to a heavy ’80s groove. ‘Hang On’ has the big guitar and drum sound and Del Valle hits all the highs while ‘Change Your Heart’ and ‘Road Of Desire’ continue the melodic anthemic rock. ‘Road Of Desire’ sticking out for it’s exotic tone and it’s AOR sound that reminds of Asia with the keyboards to an extent.

Bottom Line:
It’s very rare to find a melodic Metal album that is full of great songs, usually there is one or two songs that are plain filler. Shannon has succeeded in creating an album with 13 heavy melodic tracks that are musically filled with talented performers. The band is obviously tight and performs extremely well, the result of the band’s 10 year tenure on the scene. Production is excellent, everything is crystal clear and balanced well in the mix. I really can’t find anything wrong with the record but I am surprised that only one proper ballad (‘On And On’) is included. I would have bet that there would be 2, even maybe 3, ballads on the album because the kind of music Shannon plays makes great power ballads. I think the band might have decided to stay heavy to compete with all the heavier bands in the European market but that’s just a small complaint. I’m not normally a ballad kind of guy but I wouldn’t mind hearing Shannon do another. This is such a good release that any fan of Melodic Hard Rock/metal should check this album out, highly recommended.

Favorite songs: ‘Do You Know?’, ‘Hungry For Love’, ‘No More Lies’, ‘Long Gone’, ‘Winter Night’

Ihsahn – angL (2008, Candlelight USA)

  1. Misanthrope
  2. Scarab
  3. Unhealer
  4. Emancipation
  5. Malediction
  6. Alchemist
  7. Elevator
  8. Threnody
  9. Monolith

Ihsahn

Musicians:
Ihsahn – Vocals & Guitars
Asgeir Mickelson – Drums
Lars Norberg – Bass
Mikeal Akerfeldt (Opeth) – guest vocals on ‘Unhealer’

Producer: Ihsahn

Total Time = 47:24

Ihsahn official website
Ihsahn MySpace page
Candlelight Records USA

Following the success of his first solo album, THE ADVERSARY, former Emperor guitarist/vocalist Ihsahn is back again with his second solo outing, angL. Emperor is a Black Metal legend and Ihsahn’s THE ADVERSARY (2006) was a Black Metal record within the same formula but with a little more experimetation using progressive elements. On angL, Ihsahn continues the experimentation using a myriad of styles and textures to create a unique wall of sound.

Opening track ‘Misanthrope’ is a song that sounds most like Emperor with frantic riffing and bullet drumming. There are keyboards that add a symphonic element to the song but the vocal keeps things sounding…..evil. The opening riff of ‘Scarab’ is heavy but then leads to a laid back groove made heavy by that creepy growl. It’s almost a tale of two songs: a heavy cruncher that leads into a melodic symphonic rock song. After the solo break 3 minutes in, there is a piano interlude with the cleanest vocal style I’ve ever heard Ihsahn use…..he can growl, scream, and actually sing. Opeth’s Mikeal Akerfeldt guests on the mic on ‘Unhealer’ and does an awesome job blending his clean style with his growl to Ihsahn’s higher pitched growl. I hate to describe this song as being one of the “quieter” songs of the record but I would classify it as a ballad. The song gets heavier with the chorus when the vocals get more gruff and the drums announce their presence. So many different styles used on this song (Death, Symphonic, Progressive) and so many different variations of the instruments. ‘Unhealer’ is one of my favorites on this album and one of my favorite songs so far this year.

‘Emancipation’ opens with another catchy riff added to the vocals to give the song a Gothic/Folk Metal sound. The backing vocals are especially striking when added to the Black Metal/clean vocal style…..everything is a wall of sound. ‘Malediction’ returns to the Black roots of Emperor with more symphonic elements enhancing the sound while ‘Alchemist’ is a hybrid of Prog and Gothic Metal. When I hear the opening riff of ‘Elevator’ I picture something descending…..maybe an elevator? Seriously, ‘Elevator’ is another song that weaves different styles and textures together to create this unique blend of sound. Parts of the song are slow and ballad like and others are driven by the double bass drumming. Piercing guitars, swirling keyboards, haunting clean vocals and screams…..it’s all here. ‘Elevator’ seemlessly moves into ‘Threnody’ with an acoustic guitar and what I can only describe as a beautiful vocal. Ihsahn really branches out with the vocals and I’m kind of surprised at the strength of his singing. During the quieter moments of ‘Threnody’, the acoustics are joined by quiet percussion and piano giving the song a ’70s feel but the track picks up in the middle and becomes more progressive leading back to the quiet side for the end. ‘Monolith’ starts quietly but then drives into Emperor territory again. I would pair this song with ‘Malediction’ as both sound more liek Ihsahn’s Emperor roots than anything else on the album.

Bottom Line:
Honestly, I expected to hear more Emperor so I kind of sat on this album for a couple weeks because I’m not big into the Black Metal scene. Once I actually sat down and gave angL a serious listen, I was taken aback by the multiple styles that Ihsahn uses. I have THE ADVERSARY so I dug that out and gave that a listen as well to see if I had missed something because what I expected from angL is certainly not what I got. There are Black Metal elements and Emperor influences all over the album (‘Monolith’ & ‘Misanthrope’) but it’s the blend of Prog, Gothic/Folk, and Power Metal to the Black that makes angL more accessible. The power and blast is still present, especially in the drums and growling vocal but the acoustics, keyboards, and orchestrations add a layer of sound that makes the album stand out. I enjoyed this album a lot, especially on the headphones! This is one of the best releases I’ve heard this year.

Favorite songs: ‘Scarab’, ‘Unhealer’, ‘Emancipation’, ‘Threnody’, ‘Monolith’