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Issue 8 - July 25, 2001

Discussion in 'Songs To Watch' started by Mark, Sep 21, 2001.

  1. Mark

    Mark Not blessed, or merciful

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    A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S EDITION

    Greetings devoted readers! Working full time has not affected the frequency at which I’ve been able to find and select artists to feature as I thought it might have done, and I have continued to expand my listening horizons. No specials this week, but I am in the brainstorming process and hope to have one by next week. I’ll definitely do another instrumental spotlight in the near future. In response to the reader comment on the www.ultimatemetal.com page: I guess a “normal” POS album just means sounding more like the first two albums than Perfect Element! And now, the songs…

    Jag Panzer – 'Choir Of Tears', 'All Things Renewed': Mark, you fucking rule. Infinite thanks for acknowledging your fans on the Internet in the Mechanized Warfare booklet. These songs are among the best in the band’s long history, the former possessing the band’s excellent martial drumming and melodic guitar leads and a great doubled vocal, while the latter alternates seamlessly between beautiful acoustic and aggressive sections.

    Dark Tranquility – 'Crimson Winds', 'Away Delight Away': Beginning with their first releases, this band has set the standards for songwriting excellence in the Gothenburg scene. The recent Skydancer/Of Chaos And Eternal Night reissue is definitely not to be missed. Excellent Maiden-styled leads throughout, and vocals by Anders Friden, whom you all know from In Flames.

    Katatonia – 'Cold Ways', 'I Break': Another great, highly emotional and original, Swedish band that despite getting numerous strong reviews, is still fairly underrated. I credit this band with opening my eyes to the doom movement I had previously written off. These songs hail from perhaps their best album, Discouraged Ones. Both songs at available at www.mp3.com

    Vanden Plas – 'The Soul Survives', 'We’re Not God': Excellent progressive metal from Germany that is, to quote an unrelated interview at http://www.metal-observer.de, demanding yet accessible. The nine-minute former song, included on both their debut Colour Temple, and live album, features great keyboards and a memorable chorus, while the latter is among their heavier songs.

    Angel Dust – 'Nightmare', 'Centuries': Century Media has put out a number of great reissues lately, and among the best is this band’s excellent comeback Border Of Reality… great album cover! The former track showcases keyboardist Stephen Banx’s contributions, while the latter is a more power metal sounding song with a few surprises. A must own for those who love Bleed and Enlighten The Darkness.

    Conception – 'The Last Sunset', 'Among The Gods': Influential Norwegian progressive metal act that has become as well known for their vocalists work in Kamelot and their guitarist’s work in Ark as their own albums. Right from the start they were a band set on breaking new boundaries, as the astonishing latter track, a 11-minute epic that established Tore Ostby’s gift on acoustic guitar, shows.

    Vintersorg – 'Algol', 'Odemarken’s Son': Another enigmatic Norwegian act, this time a one-man project specializing in atmospheric metal with a strong black metal influence. Both of these songs showcase this man’s talent for creating intelligent and captivating compositions. Readers beware: The latter song is sung in his native tongue.

    Pain Of Salvation: 'Revival', 'People Passing By': Their debut album, 1997’s Entropia, immediately established this Swedish progressive act as a band devoted to standing apart from all others in the genre. The album is a bit heavier (see the former) than the two that followed, but still maintains the same emotional pull. The latter song, clocking in at 9:06, features some ferocious bass playing.

    Geoff Tate – 'Somebody To Love': A man that needs absolutely no introduction. Why am I featuring him? Because this is a rare track available only at Ryche's official site, a cover of the Queen song featuring a faithful and commanding vocal performance.

    Steel Prophet – 'Passage Of Time (Amber Leaves)': Although I think Messiah is a great album and Book Of The Dead almost as good, their earlier work does nothing for me. This song, available at www.mp3.com, is an exception however. It is a slower song, but a well-crafted one and it includes a lengthy and stunning solo. Better than the power ballads on the aforementioned albums.

    Fates Warning – 'Outside Looking In', 'Face The Fear': Another legendary progressive metal act that is undoubtedly familiar to all of my readers. I include these songs not only out of respect for a band that has gone far beyond their origins, but because they hail from the highly underrated Inside Out album, in my opinion their strongest of the 90s. And as an up yours to the Arch-only fans!

    Aghora – 'Kali Yuga', 'Existence': A project led by one of metal’s most gifted and innovative thinkers, Sean Malone of Cynic and Gordian Knot. The fusion of extreme metal intensity and progressive mysticism that defined the former is especially present here. Features female vocals that work surprisingly well.

    Nostradamus – 'Pieces Of A Dream', 'Desecration': A rock opera conceived by classically trained musician Nikolo Kotzev and featuring vocals by numerous AOR veterans. The former song features some great acoustic parts and is highly emotional. Not as good as some of the reviews I’ve read, but I’ve always been fascinated by the Prophecies, am a sucker for concept albums, and admire musicians with marginal careers aspiring for something more creative.

    Enchant – 'Hostile World', 'Fade To Grey': One of my favorite progressive rock acts, again demanding but accessible and featuring superb musicianship and intelligent songwriting throughout. I was pleasantly surprised to see the band’s second release Wounded on the local shelves and it is a great album. The latter song is especially powerful and has more metallic sections than usual.

    Ark – 'Mother Love', 'Singers At The World’s Dawn': One of my readers has stated that Burn The Sun is one of the best albums he has ever heard. In my opinion, their debut is even better. Both songs do much to define their sound, which owes equally to progressive rock and traditional hard rock/metal. The former features a raging performance from drummer John Macaluso, while the latter features an unexpected pause that is followed by a great solo.

    Royal Hunt – 'Lies', 'Faces Of War': Another band that works in the same area between progressive metal and AOR, but with far less innovation. And their backing vocals are downright annoying. But they are excellent musicians, and these songs from their latest release Fear are extremely good, the former featuring a great chorus.

    Nordream – 'Piercing Time Memories', 'A Heaven In Hell’s Despair': I’ve featured bands from nearly everywhere in this column, but I believe this is the first Russian act I’ve heard, courtesy of Progged Radio. They play heavy progressive metal that reminds me of Symphony X at times. The latter song is a long and impressive instrumental.

    Porcupine Tree – 'Lightbulb Sun', 'Last Chance To Evacuate Planet Earth Before It Is Recycled': Great title, right? An enigmatic British progressive rock act that is quickly becoming one of my favorites outside of metal, discovered through Steven Wilson’s participation on Blackwater Park. The former title track on their latest is a highly emotional composition, while the latter is a more experimental and instrumentally based song.

    Nightingale – 'The Dream Reader', 'Nightfall Overture': Multi-instrumentalist Dan Swano has become one of metal’s most respected individualists, and has fully embraced his progressive rock influences through this project and his solo album. These songs are from 1995’s The Breathing Shadow. The former has a hypnotic keyboard signature, while the lengthy latter song showcases this visionary’s unque talents.

    So ends this chapter. This edition has been brought to you by the letters N and P. Thanks for the positive response for the new releases special, and I look forward to spotlighting those albums in the future. There will be more extreme material next week, I promise…
     

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