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Issue 57 - March 10, 2003

Discussion in 'Songs To Watch' started by Demonspell, Mar 10, 2003.

  1. Demonspell

    Demonspell cheating the polygraph

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    DEMONSPELL’S SONGS TO WATCH
    The recommendation list of strategic influence.
    Issue 57 – “All of this madness makes sense…”
    Written March 9, 2003
    www.mp3.com/stations/songstowatch - no new additions since the last issue.


    Greetings, devoted readers! Here you will find close to fifty bands from all corners of the progressive and metal universe…

    A.C.T. – Manipulator, Torn By A Phrase: The highly acclaimed Swedish prog act returns with Last Epic, a concept album about a destructive relationship, which may not seem to fit their often playful sound, but it does work on both of these songs, especially the former’s addictive chorus. Drums provided by Thomas Lejon of Andromeda.

    Alchemy X – More Real Than Real, A Kiss Before Dying: New Jersey based progressive metal act with a Queensryche-like sound. Frontman Bob Mitchell is a veteran of 80s thrash, but there is no evidence of his past here, especially on the largely acoustic former track. Both songs available at www.mp3.com

    Anomaly – Seasons, Ensnared: Another entry in the career paths of technical metal’s most famed rhythm section, Seans Malone and Reinert. This 1998 album is by far the most conventional product they have appeared on, but the playing is still impressive, especially the bass on the latter track.

    Arabesque – Captured, Heal Me: Dutch technical metal act featuring dual female vocalists, last year’s The Union was a surprising delight, and the latter ballad and the eight-minute former track, featuring a memorable chorus and a frantic instrumental section, are among its highlights.

    Area 54 – In My Blood, Cancer Of The Mind: This is not a Gothenburg act, but this British band, a favorite of this site’s webmaster, does a good job of approaching that sound on the latter track, with a lot of help from guest vocalist Tomas Lindgren. The former track is more traditional metal, with a heavily Maiden-inspired instrumental section…

    Atraphine – Crying Outward, Dark Sky pt. 1: Another band who I became aware of through an email asking about placement on my station. This NY-area act is a promising female fronted progressive metal act, and the lengthy former track shows they have a good amount of talent. Both songs available at www.mp3.com

    Autumn – Floating Towards Distress, When Lust Evokes The Curse: Female vocalists seem to grow like dandelions (or should I say mandylions) in the Netherlands, and this band, who has opened concerts for After Forever in their native country, and their sound has a similar atmosphere to that band…

    Chain – Conspiracy, The Planet Is Fine: One of the first signings on the newly formed Progrock Records label (an offshoot of the online radio station of the same name), this band makes for a very interesting listen, as here they balance tricky arrangements with heavier sections, and the latter track has a great chorus that offsets the song’s ironic sentiment.

    Chrome Shift – Ripples In Time I, In My Own Dream: Danish band whose debut album Ripples In Time has received a buzz in prog metal circles strong enough to make them one of the first bands confirmed for this year’s Progpower Europe. The former track is a delicate midtempo offering, while the latter track, available at www.metalexpress.no, showcases the band’s instrumental abilities.

    Dark Aether Project – Embers, The Gentle Art Of Firewalking: Blatimore based prog project whose material consists both of minimalist instrumentals and haunting pieces with female vocals, as evidenced by the nine-minute former track. Samples available at official site.

    Dimension F3H – Reaping The World Winds, In A Dreamlike State Of Mind: One of the more bizarre side projects I’ve heard of lately, featuring members of bands as seemingly opposite as Pagan’s Mind and the recently disbanded Limbonic Art. Both of these tracks are progressive metal of the aggressive variety, with many surprises. Samples available at www.metalexpress.no and their graphic-intensive website.

    Ephel Duath – The Greyness Grows, Beneath The Smooth Veil Of Shadows: Avant garde extreme metal that makes my job very difficult, as this band is exceedingly hard to describe in one or two sentences. Suffice it to say that both tracks are full of gut-wrenching vocals and instrumental mayhem. Former track available at www.mp3.com, new album The Painter’s Palette coming soon.

    Event – Into The Fray, Won’t Come Loose: One of Inside Out’s recent releases, but this is definitely not typical of the label, as this comes across as more mainstream rock with slight progressive elements, and to me at least is only momentarily interesting…well, the former track is anchored by a strong bassline and the latter has a weirdly persistent chorus, but that’s about all to recommend here.

    Exhibition – The Sign Of Tomorrow, Dark Horizon: This is a band formed from the ashes of Eternity X (fans may recognize the intended reference to an unreleased album there), but this bears little resemblance to their darkly theatrical prog metal, here heading in a more power metal direction, although some prog elements are still present and the band are definitely capable players. Both songs available at www.mp3.com

    R. Sean Faust – Midnight Express, Life’s Trivial Moments: Self-described “keyboard masseur” who has gone through several unsigned bands and pays the bills by appearing in the DT cover band Erotomania. His skills are apparent on the former instrumental, and the mostly acoustic latter track shows off the diversity of his projects. Both songs available at www.mp3.com

    Fleurety – I Saw Claws, Vortex: Norwegian avant-garde act whose sole full-length release (these songs are from an ep called Last Minute Lies) featured input from several past and present members of Arcturus. That should give you an idea of what these songs are like, heavy on hallucinogenic atmosphere and bizarre arrangements…

    Frantic Bleep – Fluctuadmission, To Bleep Or Not To Bleep…: Norwegian technical metal act memorably described by one UM forum member as “Spiral Architect on crack”. That phrase only hints at the strangeness of these songs, featuring incredibly dense and unconventional arrangements. Both songs available at their homepage.

    Galahad – Democracy, Karma For One: British progressive rock act who has releases several albums to strong reviews, most recently last year’s Year Zero, which includes the nine-minute former track, consisting mostly of dissonant instrumental sections interspersed with some calm interludes. The latter track has a memorable chorus and insightful lyrics.

    Gracepoint – Attrition, Science Of Discontent: Another promising unsigned act brought to my attention by the dedicated staff at Seismic Radio, this band plays aggressive, riff-heavy power metal, at times reminiscent of Nevermore. They can also show technical prowess, as evidenced by the latter instrumental title track. Both songs available at www.mp3.com

    Katatonia – Ghost Of The Sun, Criminals: The much-anticipated Viva Emptiness has began to circulate and cause debate among fans over the effect the increased heaviness has had on their sound. The incorporation of that element of aggression is jarring on these tracks, but underneath it their guitar tone and sense of emotional resonance is still largely intact…

    Lacrimosa – Vankina, Flamme Im Wind: This veteran German gothic metal act has attained a cult following over their releases, at least five to date, most recent being Der Morgen Danach, from which the classically inflected former track, available at www.nuclearblast.de, hails. The longer latter track features some great acoustic work.

    Lanfear – Stigmatized, Fortune Lies Within: German progressive metal act whose Zero Poems album was one of the more unconventional albums in that genre in recent memory, and also one of the most unjustly ignored. These tracks from their new release The Art Effect feature some devastating riffs and well-placed keyboards. Samples available at official site.

    Madder Mortem – Jigsaw, Necropolit: This band has gained many rave reviews for their latest album Deadlands, and has secured an opening slot on Opeth’s European tour. This sounds somewhat like a darker and more progressive version of Lacuna Coil without the male vocals, and frontwoman Agnete Kirkevaag delivers a frighteningly intense performance on the former track, available at www.digitalmetal.com

    Man In Space – Technophobe, Bright Purple Spacecraft: Progressive rock act with strong cosmic leanings (as if the band name and song titles didn’t make that abundantly clear) who delivers the expected goods, namely intriguing instrumental flights of fancy and unusual vocal arrangements. Plus the album title is wonderful: How To Potty Train A Supernova.

    Manifold Object – A Grand Trance, Hypnosis Irrelevance: Finnish progressive metal act whose mini-album Mirrorlike is one of the more interesting debuts to cross my path in the last few months, as they combine melodic progressive passages with some moments of technical reckless abandon, reminding me of Pain Of Salvation at times. Both songs available at www.mp3.com

    Memory Garden – Carnage Carnival, A Long Grey Day: Swedish melodic doom act who has gained some strong reviews for their releases, and on the latter track from their Mirage album they show some elements of riff-dominated power metal, similar to the late and lamented Lefay. The band has posted excerpts of new demos on their website, on which both songs mentioned here are available.

    Mourning Beloveth – All Hope Is Pleading, The Words That Crawled: Irish doom metal act whose sound here evokes the most punishing aspects of early My Dying Bride, which should be enough to recommend this to any doom fanatic that may be reading this. The eleven-minute latter track is total despair, and can be found on www.mp3.com

    Nicodemus – Something In The Walls, Within The Glow Of Embers: This act has signed a distribution deal with the always intriguing Dark Symphonies, and these songs from their album Supernatural Omnibus are typical of the label: dark, intricately arranged passages crossed with moments of delicate beauty and focused aggression. Former track available at www.mp3.com

    Opus Atlantica – Judas Call, Endless Slaughter: Side project of Andromeda’s Johan Reinholdz and several Flower Kings personnel that bears little if any resemblance to either band, here going for melodic power metal that seems comes across for the most part as being awkward and more than a little cheesy. Former track available at www.theendrecords.com, if you must.

    OSI – Dirt From A Holy Place, When You’re Ready: Perhaps the only Dream Theater side project that manages to break completely from the confines of the prog behemoth, the former track being an expertly performed and highly atmospheric instrumental, while the latter’s fragile vocal and deceptively lilting pace prove Kevin Moore’s talent for writing subversive material.

    Oxygene 8: Larry’s Lullaby, Mocha Butterfly: How’s this for an odd rhythm section: former Primus drummer Tim Alexander and a female Chapman stick player? Only in prog, folks. Seriously, this is quality material, the latter instrumental reminding me of Porcupine Tree and the former being a percussive-led tribute to a lost brother. Both songs available at official site.

    Poisonblack – Love Infernal, Glow Of The Flames: Side project of Sentenced vocalist Ville Laihala, although fans may be surprised to learn that he does not sing on it, but instead plays guitar. Despite his claims that he considers the band to be a separate entity, this doesn’t deviate too far from his main gig…former track available at www.centurymedia.com

    The Provenance – Climbing Ideals, World Of Hurt: In the band’s own words, their recent Still At Arms Length is “the darkest imaginable album we could supply our listeners with”. A bold statement by any measure, but here this avant garde extreme act live up to this claim with some startling passages and eerie arrangements. Samples available at official site.

    Root – Mirror Of The Soul, The Festival Of Destruction: Doom metal act from the Czech Republic who has received some enthusiastic reviews for their releases, both of these songs contain some devastating riffs and some ambitious arrangements. Both songs available at www.mp3.com

    Scholomance – Liars…, Absence/Contorted Porcelain-Faced Bitch: Avant garde extreme that exemplifies The End’s commitment to promoting material that steps outside genre-defined boundaries, here being alternately symphonic and abrasive, both songs are carefully crafted excursions into multifaceted darkness. Former song available at www.mp3.com

    Second Sufis – Abrasion, Peak Overpressure: This instrumental duo’s most recent release is called Infectious Substance, which is ironic as it clearly lacks hooks, at least in the traditional sense…instead, this is pure atmosphere reminiscent of Robert Fripp’s soundscape experiments, at times having a highly aquatic feel. Samples available at official site.

    Shadowland – I Judas, Mad As A Hatter: British prog bands seem to have a tangled web of connections, this one being a side project led by Clive Nolan of Arena (a companion EP for Contagion, featuring four non-album tracks, is planned) and Threshold guitarist Karl Groom, who both contribute some solid work on both tracks, and the former could have held its own on…not Critical Mass, Wounded Land maybe?

    Shaman – Swing On The Waves, Have No Mental Strength: Not the band formed as a result of the split before Angra’s rebirth. This is a strange folk-metal hybrid, featuring chanted vocals and exotic instrumentation, which works surpisingly well on the lengthy latter track, in which the metal elements are incorporated to powerful effect.

     
  2. Demonspell

    Demonspell cheating the polygraph

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    continued...

    Sleepytime Gorilla Museum – Powerless, Sleepytime: Bizarre avant-garde prog whose theatrical performances and surreal music earned them a right to perform before an unsuspecting audience at this year’s Nearfest. One imagines how the veteran proggers will respond to the bloodcurdling screams on the former track. The latter track begins as a lullaby but slowly escalates into something resembling a small child’s nightmare…


    Soilwork - Rejection Role, Overload: Approximately a year after Natural Born Chaos, the Speed merchants return with Figure Number Five, which on the former opening track, continues in much the same vein as its predecessor. The latter track is as good as anything on that album, and finds keyboardist Sven Karlsson in a more prominent role, and also contains a great chorus and solo.

    Time Requiem – Milagro’s Charm, Visions Of New Dawn: This band is led by keyboardist Richard Andersson, formerly of Adagio and Majestic, two bands who have received frequent criticism for sounding too much like Symphony X. True to form, this album is more or less a diluted version of SX, with most of the flash and little of the subtlety.

    Devin Townsend Band – Suicide, Away: Less than two months after Strapping Young Lad’s new one, Devin engages the other side (one other side would be more accurate) of his music with the follow-up to Terria, recorded with an entirely new lineup. The vocals on the latter are mixed down, which adds counterpoint to its soaring musical backdrop. The former, which you have probably all heard on mp3.com by now, is one of his strongests songs to date, featuring a great solo, stunning atmosphere, and soul-purging screams.


    Twisted Motivations – Red Shift, Marjan: The complex and dark progressive metal on these tracks, especially the epic latter track, is highly impressive for an independent release, but I was surprised to learn that one person does everything on the recording except vocals. And the “band” is being generous by selling it for five dollars on their website.
    Within Another – Conflict With Reason, Written In Water: New York based band who has received a buzz in metal circles with their demo EP. Both of these tracks are on the border between power and progressive metal with a dark feel, and the former track contains echoes of Nevermore. Both songs available at www.mp3.com

    Woods Of Ypres – Crossing The 45th Parallel, A Meeting Place In Time: This Canadian black metal act has received some good press for their demo against The Seasons, and on these tracks, create raw black metal that occasionally reaches out into doom and melodic death territory. Former song available at www.mp3.com
     

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