Saturday, August 11, 2012

Rick's Discoveries Volume XXV

Want to know what the key to true happiness is? New music. So here's some stuff to check out. Go. Be happy.

Sinew - Pilots of a New Sky

Progressive alternative rock has been a genre with some stellar bands cropping up in the last few years, as well as seeing stalwarts releasing superb efforts of their own. Sinew, on their sophomore effort, channel some of the best there is in the genre. They would fit right at home between listening toPorcupine Tree, Karnivool, Oceansize, and Junius. And if you even think about questioning Sinew's prog cred, just listen to the 13+ minute epic "The Descent to the Heart of Mount Sadhana."

Oddland - The Treachery of Senses

I'm surprised that there haven't been more progressive metal bands that try to marry some of the currently trendy metal styles (ie: djent, tech-death, etc.) with more classically accepted prog metal stylings (read: sounding like Dream Theater). Oddland take a stab at doing the new meets old sound by planting themselves firmly in the traditional prog metal realm while adding some slightly mechanical, TesseracT-ish guitar tones, some Opeth-like melodic sections, and even the occasional Leprous-like non-metal musical diversion. But don't be fooled by the name-dropping of those bands; Oddland is still very much a traditional prog metal band… they're just trying to evolve the sound a bit, and it definitely works!

3 Pill Morning - Black Tie Love Affair

Radio-rock is not usually my forte. There are some decent bands in the genre, but it feels like for every 10 Years I find there are about a hundred versions of Shinedown I have to wade through. 3 Pill Morning are one of the few decent bands to rise above the usual radio-rock fare. They have 10 Years' pacing, the occasional Chevelle tonality, and the chorus creating ability of Thousand Foot Krutch. This leads to an instantly listenable album, even if it's been done before.

Headspace - I Am Anonymous

Headspace is probably best described as a proggy prog rock band with some heavy prog metal influences. Yeah, if you haven't guessed, the name of the game here is… prog. You've got lengthy tracks, solos, multiple movements within songs, hints of pretentiousness… it's all here. So if you enjoy bands likeDream Theater, Porcupine Tree, Ayreon, or Fates Warning you should feel right at home listening to I Am Anonymous. It'll satiate any prog lover's appetite.

Endevor - 296 Above Parallels

How do I classify this album? It's definitely leans in a post-hardcore direction, but it's also filled with some pretty meaty riffs throughout… not a song (other than the intro) clocks in under 5 minutes… there are pieces of sludge metal influence to be found… but there's also some Junius-esque prog rock elements. And then you have the well placed piano and keyboards throughout. It's like you tossed together Hands, TesseracT, Emarosa, Junius, andCaspian into a salad bowl, tossed heavily, and had it for dinner… the ingredients are very diverse, but the combination simply can't be beat.

Bend the Sky - Origins

Australia, you are simply the country for good music nowadays. Bend the Sky will wow you with their mastery of symphonic & progressive styled instrumental metal. The key to a good symphonic metal album (in my mind) is well placed, accentuating, appropriate keyboard usage while the key to progressive metal is fluid movements throughout songs and a strong sense of being able to create necessarily complicated soundscapes. Bend the Sky does both of these things supremely well. It's like you mixed Dream Theater, Katatonia, TesseracT, and Within Temptation together, but kept vocals out of the mix. It's lovely.

It's pretty much a given that we'll never get old Minus the Bear back. That doesn't mean their influence can't still be felt in other bands, such as Mutiny on the Bounty. Whereas MtB have changed their focus to hone in on catchy songwriting, MotB feel solely focused on showing how technical they can be in the math/indie/post-hardcore realm. This isn't a bad thing at all, but it can leave you exhausted at times as you try to digest everything the band is doing. Thankfully, they toss in a few breaks, allowing you to catch your breath for the next intricate salvo of guitar and bass noodlery.

Violet - The Brightside

I'll admit right away that at times Violet try to stretch themselves a little too far, but I'd rather see a band pushing themselves than playing it safe. OnThe Brightside you'll no doubt pick up some Dance Gavin Dance influences, most notably in the combination of the clean vocals (which are very Johnny Craig-lite) and harsh vocals (which are slightly better than Jon Mess). There are some musical flourishes that are very DGD-ish as well, but you also have some more standard post-hardcore approaches to be found. I think these guys can really take off if they iron out some of their vocal issues (both vocalists really try to stretch their ranges too far).

BT - If the Stars Are Eternal so Are You and I

With all of my recent infatuations with dubstep and related styles of electronic music, I've sometimes forgotten about some of the artists that originally got me into electronic music. BT was one of those artists. He's slowly evolved throughout his career from doing more straight forward trance to soundtracks to ambient. With this album I think BT is at his strongest, creating sprawling audible landscapes, texturing his ambient style with some glitch and mellow dubstep elements. He demonstrates here he knows how to craft fully realized compositions that completely utilize their run times (4 of the 7 tracks on this album are 11 minutes long or longer). Epic ambience has never been a term I thought I'd use until I heard this album.

Lorn - Ask the Dust

As soon as you flip this album on, you'll instantly feel way cooler than you actually are. It'll feel like the world is moving in slow motion while you smugly take everything in; you're above it all and you know it. This album feels custom-crafted for slo-mo cinematic scenes. There's a deep low end that anchors everything, while pieces of downtempo dubstep litter the IDM landscape created. There's even a faint trip-hop vibe to some songs. Just go listen to this already and bask in your newfound awesomeness.

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