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Kingcrimsonprog "Kingcrimsonprog" (England)

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The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side of Hell, Vol. 2 (Deluxe)
The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side of Hell, Vol. 2 (Deluxe)
Offered by Music-Shop
Price: £19.44

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Five Finger Death Punch - The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell Vol. 2, 19 Nov. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
2013's The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell Vol. 2 is the fifth full-length studio album by the American Metal band Five Finger Death Punch. It was produced by Kevin Churko (who you may remember produced and played bass on their third album, American Capitalist) and is the second part of a two-album set; following up Vol.1, which was released a couple of months earlier.

There's no clear and easy way to describe this album within the context of their discography; its not clearly better or worse, its not clearly faster or slower, its not clearly more experimental or more simplistic and there isn't even a noticeable shift in the number of loud or soft bits compared to previous albums. Its more of the same thing that the band have always done. If you don't mind that, then you'll get a lot out of this record. If not, then it may not be the record for you.

Sometimes you'll notice a lyrical idea, or a guitar part that is reminiscent of one of their old songs, which may cause a few raised eyebrows, but for the most part, the band manage to write things you haven't heard before in a formula you've heard a hundred times already... rather clever really.

If you like big meaty riffs, guitar solos and plenty of rhythmic double kick patterns being mixed with radio friendly choruses, power ballads and plenty of crowd-ready parts designed to be chanted along with, that's all still as present on this album as on any of their previous efforts. Basically; Everything you could like about American Capitalist is also represented well here.

Highlights include the brief instrumental `The Agony Of Regret' and its accompanying piano-led ballad `Cold' (which apparently is a remake of a song by Moody's old band Black Blood Orchestra) as well as the punchy `Weight Beneath My Sin' and `Matter Of Time' which see the band mixing in types of riffs you aren't used to in with their usual sound.

As with the previous album having an unusual cover (`Momma Said Knock You Out') this album ends with a version of `House Of The Rising Sun' which sounds exactly like you'd expect based on their cover of `Bad Company' and is quite good fun.

All things considered; this album is an absolutely solid, well-made and consistent album with a big, clear production job and a lot of guitar solos. I really enjoy it on its own merits and there are some very enjoyable songs here. I don't think it would ever become my favourite album of theirs, but its not a disappointment by any means.

It may gain some complaints over `staleness' or `riff recycling' from longer-time listeners, but if this was your first Five Finger Death Punch album there's no reason that you wouldn't love it. The only problems I can find with the album are that the formula has been well established by this stage. Its worth remembering that if they changed their style drastically though, people would complain about that too.

Overall; `Volume 2 is a very good record and if you like the band, but aren't sick of them yet, then I recommend that you try it out.

**** The special edition comes with a Live DVD version of the "Purgatory:Tales From The Pit" Live CD that accompanied the previous album's special edition. It's a very welcome extra, although not good enough to be released as a stand-alone feature. I can understand why they kept it as a bonus feature.

There are editing, DVD-authoring and sound & picture-quality standards for a Live DVD that this doesn't meet, and on some tracks the visuals for an outdoor show are played over the audio for an indoor show, making it feel more like a music video than a live concert, but as an extra, not having to be judged on the same standards as a an official concert release, it is worth a watch. Its enjoyable watching the band's big budget stage show and confident live performance. My advice is that if you see the special version for a reasonable price and don't own the album yet then pick it up, but don't buy two copies just to get this. ****


Volition
Volition
Offered by DVDMAX-UK
Price: £11.60

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Protest The Hero - Volition, 8 Nov. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Volition (Audio CD)
Volition is the fourth full-length studio album by the Canadian band Protest The Hero. It was released in 2013 through Razor & Tie, and was produced by Cameron McLellan. Due to the departure of longtime drummer Moe Carlson, the drums on the album were handled by Lamb Of God's Chirs Adler. He actually really suits the band and if you hadn't been told you mightn't realize the drummer had changed, although that being said, on some songs if you pay attention you can definitely tell that its Adler playing.

On the band's previous record, the track 'Dunsel' had some pretty scathing lyrics about the music industry, and it seems that the band have followed through, as this album was funded by the band's fans through a crowd-sourcing campaign on Indiegogo. Luckily relying on donations has not resulted in any noticeable dip in recording, mixing or packaging quality and the record was made well with no cut corners. Musically the band are just as strong as ever and there is similarly no dip at all.

If you haven't heard the band before and don't know what to expect, words won't really do it justice. The band flits wildly between genres and subgenres at great speed and don't fit neatly into any one category for too long. There are moments that will remind you of Math, Technical and Progressive styles due to the virtuosity, complexity or sheer speed, that are then interspersed with gloriously catchy radio-friendly moments, spiced with a few harsh death vocals, augmented by occasional riffs that remind you a little of At The Gates and many other things besides. You really just have to hear it to understand it.

The intro to `Skies' sounds almost like Animals As Leaders, Scale The Summit or the post-millennial King Crimson works. There are moments on `Mist' that briefly sound almost like pop-punk for a few seconds and there are heavy pounding metallic sections on tracks like `Drumhead Trial,' `A Life Embossed' and `Yellow Teeth.' Its not just like they just sit around and pilfer other band's styles however, Protest The Hero have a very unique and clearly recognizable style of their own. Its just difficult to describe succinctly and without comparisons.

With this album, as with the previous one, the band have concentrated hard on songwriting and making things more `instant' and easily-digestible, without compromising anything in terms of virtuosity or heaviness. This record is a distillation and continuation of everything that has come before, with new and exciting approaches to the core Protest The Hero style and it does a great job of grabbing your attention right from the get-go. They never betray who they are, they just somehow manage to write new, memorable, stand-out songs in that same great style. It's a testament to the skill and talent of the band that they can do something so stylistically identifiable without becoming stale or repeating themselves.

On top of that more `instant' feel, the album still manages to be a massive grower that really rewards repeat listening. Not that repeat listening is a chore, I can scarcely help myself from listening to it twice in a row at times. The music, performance and vocal deliveries on this album are frequently absolutely captivating. (The sections containing the following phrases are particularly memorable to me: "And if the sun burst above at the end of the world I don't think I would give a damn," "Cough, gasp and splutter," "A White Straight Male with two blue eyes," "When you should look up the facts" and "And your obligatory contribution to the community").

Some fans preferred the more abstract and conceptual lyrics that the band displayed on 2008's Fortress album, but I absolutely love their more personal or observational side as well. They handle both styles really well in my opinion. The band have a knack for phrasing things uniquely and avoiding the same old clichés that everybody else uses. The lyrics to "Underbite" for example are incredibly entertaining, dealing with bands who do the whole rockstar-persona schtick. The lyrics to "Mist" are a tribute to the band's homeland which almost make me want to be Canadian and "Tilting Against Windmills" deals with prejudice and bigotry in an interesting way.

Overall; Volition is yet another phenomenal record from the band with thousands of hidden depths and magical subtleties. The more you listen to it the more it will give you. It is strong on every level and there are no weak tracks. It is an absolutely excellent addition to the band's discography and there are some absolute gems to be found on it. I recommend this album wholeheartedly to existing fans and suggest anyone curious about the band should give it a shot as well. If you do try it and end up liking this album be sure to pick up the rest of the band's exceptionally consistent and high quality studio output too.


Swedish Empire Live [Blu-ray] [2013] [Region Free]
Swedish Empire Live [Blu-ray] [2013] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Sabaton

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sabaton - Swedish Empire Live Blu Ray, 2 Nov. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Swedish Empire Live is the first concert Blu Ray by the Swedish Power Metal band Sabaton.

The main show was shot at Poland's Woodstock festival in 2012. The scale of the gig is pretty incredible. The audience is bigger than half-a-million people! In fact, during the show frontman Joakim postulates that if the audience were a city, it would be the 2nd-biggest city in Sweden. Naturally, when the crowd chant along with the band its pretty special.

The stage, screens, light-show and pyro are all suitably impressive to match the occasion. Its not a theatrical affair admittedly, but it is definitely visually impressive. There are plenty of fireworks on stage and a tasteful but grand lighting set up that help the concert to feel massive. When they float a gigantic flag out over thousands of audience members at one point it looks pretty incredible.

The band are not intimidated by the occasion, and fill the space well with big gestures, confident stage banter and excellent stage presence all around, you get a real sense of personality on display as they smile, joke or gratefully thank the crowd throughout. The new members Chris Rörland, Thobbe Englund and Robban Bäck all fit like a glove and act as if they've always been there. Longtime members Joakim Brodén and Par Sundström are absolutely commanding and really dominate the crowd, keeping their energy levels and enthusiasm sky high throughout the whole two-hour main feature (although that length includes credits and some brief interview footage before and after the fantastic uninterrupted main concert). Its so great to see the band having fun, being showmen and rocking out hard, all in one show. They really hammer the material and make the songs sound huge.

With a brilliant performance, a brilliant setting, an enthusiastic crowd and an expansive setlist, the only thing that could let this down would be the technical side of things. Luckily, the camera work, editing, sound recording and mixing are all flawless. I own a lot of concert films, and this is definitely one of the better ones that I have seen. The directing is tasteful, the cuts aren't too quick, the sound is clear, bombastic and powerful, and without effort you instantly can hear everything you'd want at the level you'd want it at. Bottom line, it both looks and sounds great.

The main feature is available in PCM stereo or DTS HD Master Audio (which is 5.1) and you can choose English, German or polish subtitles, which comes in handy for the interviews.

If this release contained only the main feature and nothing else it would still be an absolute must-buy, but just to make it even better, its absolutely crammed full of extras. It is available in several different formats (Vinyl etc.), editions (Earbook with bonus CDs and DVDs) and through exclusivity deals (eg. Specific version exclusive to Amazon) but for the purposes of describing the extras and packaging, this review will concentrate on the normal Two-Disc Blu Ray version.

There's a brief charity documentary, and then three addition live shows. The first is a 16-track mixture of material from Gothenburg, Oberhausen and London, and the second two are the Gothenburg and Oberhausen gigs in full, at 17 and 13 tracks respectively. If you want the full London gig, it is available on the more expansive editions.

There is a fair bit of crossover in the tracklists among these extra concerts, and they don't have selectable sound options or as clear a picture as the main feature, but considering that they are extras, and that the band themselves are so good live, this isn't too much of a problem. They are all still well made and enjoyable in their own right, and each are in different sized venues, have unique stage banter and track-orders, and fit the pyro and lighting rigs in different ways, so its pretty interesting to have these extras even just to play "spot the difference." There are English subtitles available for all the bonus live shows.

The Two-Disc Blu Ray version comes in a DVD-sized Digipak case (as in its taller than a normal Blu Ray case) with a Card Slipcase over the top of that. It has a yellow spine and comes with a booklet containing credits, photos and linear notes.

Overall; This is an absolutely fantastic, expertly crafted product with lots to explore, and the main feature is absolutely stellar. I am highly impressed with it and I would highly recommend it not just to fans of the band, or even just fans of the genre, but to any fan of concert films. This is a master class in how to do it right.


Last Patrol
Last Patrol
Price: £15.76

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Monster Magnet - Last Patrol, 2 Nov. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Last Patrol (Audio CD)
Last Patrol is the ninth full-length studio album by the legendary Red Bank New Jersey based Stoner Rock (and so, so much more) band Monster Magnet. It was released in October 2013 through Napalm Records and was produced by frontman Dave Wyndorf himself alongside Phil Caivano.

It is the band's first full-length album since Superjudge not to feature long time guitarist Ed Mundell, although long time fans will have noticed his absence from the past three year's worth of live dates. To be fair, Dave has done such a fantastic job of maintaining the signature Monster Magnet sound, vibe and attitude that this potentially critical loss is actually well compensated for. If you like what the band have done in the past this certainly won't send you running away in disgust.

The album doesn't really have a snappy elevator pitch like "the band's doomiest album," "the band's catchiest songs to date" or "the band's most experimental release yet" but there's clearly a reason why it's garnering so much positive attention from fans and critics alike. Give it a listen or twelve and let it get underneath your skin, there's a lot going on here and repeat listens allow it to fully reveal all of its many charms.

The songs are mostly long, hypnotic and trippy numbers that focus on repeating one riff (acoustic or electric) over and over again on a rolling wave of sound effects or solos, building and building up teasing the listener with their constant threats of flat-out exploding. This isn't so much a collection of easily digestible radio singles but rather a more considered and slow-burning affair. Most of it could be described as laid back or chilled, although its not an distortion-free affair by any means either, so don't fear that it doesn't pick up the pace every now and again for variety.

Its very much what you'd want from Monster Magnet to balance out the more immediate previous three albums. A bit of a nod back to their earlier days, without lapsing into falt out nostalgia-farming. You can still very much hear the 70s and particularly 60s rock influences, you still have Dave's absolutely phenomenal vocals, lyrics and undeniable charisma, and you still have virtuosic lead guitar work only now you get it all amidst the drawn-out, slower and trippier side of the band's many-sided skillset, like it was on the first three albums, but with a bit of the new days left in too for good measure.

It's the kind of album that will have you nodding in agreement rather than jumping around, but its none the worse for it. If you took the three most trippy songs from Mastermind and extrapolated them into a whole album, then mixed in a bit of Dopes To Infinity's relationship between the hard bits and the light bits, you'd have something vaguely approaching the style of Last Patrol.

Highlights include the lively `End Of Time,' (which mixes a Mastermind style bounce with that Hawkwind-influenced Superjudge style) the dynamic single `The Duke (Of Supernature)' which is fabulously entertaining on repeat listens, and the Magnetized Donovan cover `Three King Fishers' which is pretty captivating all around.

Overall; Last Patrol is yet another high quality album from the undeniably unique and interesting band, and it definitely deserves a place in your collection. It's a bit of a grower, so give it a fair chance and time to sink in, but in general, if you like the band you should be pretty happy with this release. If you can, try and the special edition version as the two bonus tracks are really enjoyable, not throwaway afterthoughts but rather genuinely cracking Magnet songs that just didn't fit the album's tone.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 16, 2014 3:56 AM GMT


Whole (Exclusive European Digipack)
Whole (Exclusive European Digipack)
Price: £15.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Soil - Whole, 29 Oct. 2013
In the August of 2013, the American Hard Rock/Metal band Soil released their sixth full-length studio album, which is entitled Whole. The album sees the return of original singer Ryan McCombs after his six year stint as the singer of Drowning Pool and follows up the band's recent live reunion album Re-Live-ing The Scars.

It isn't a complete reunion of the early line-up as guitarist Shaun Glass is missing and drummer Tom Schofield's place is taken up by the capable drummer Will Hunt (although he is not the band's new drummer and for live shows Soil will be playing with Mitch Gabel). Despite this change, the band are fairly able to recreate the sound that made them famous.

At first I was skeptical that the album could be good, so long after the scene from which the band came from had died, and after line-up changes and reports of a tinny production job, but I was actually fairly impressed on my first listen and have grown to really appreciate the record over time since then. It's a very good record for this type of music, and if you can overlook your distrust or cynicism you may be very pleasantly surprised.

The album lasts about 37 minutes, the songs are all brief, succinct and don't overstay their welcome. There is nothing progressive or virtuosic on display and it isn't dense, challenging or punishingly heavy. For certain more dedicated fans of the genre this may make the album sound boring, but it should increase its appeal to a wider audience.

All of the material is easily-digestible Hard Rock with a Metal flavour and for the most part sounds like material from the band's previous efforts Scars and Redefine (particularly `Amalgamation'). There are some modern updates (as bizarre as it might sound there are the faintest, faintest hints of Devildriver and Bring Me The Horizon hidden in there when you don't expect) and the production is a bit thinner, yet heavier, than those albums so it isn't an exact recreation of the old days, but it still sounds close enough that if you were a fan when they first broke you should be happy with this new collection of similar sounding and similar quality music.

Highlights include `Wake Up,' which sounds like their early work and has that sort of Black Label Society/Alice In Chains tinge to their commercial radio metal core, as well as `Psychopath,' (which is the one that sounds like it might be loosely influenced by BMTH's `Chelsea Smile') and the album closer `One Love' which provides a change of pace and a bit of variety to the record. That being said, if I'm listening to music on random or shuffle and anything off of this record comes on, it usually brings a small smile to my face.

If you aren't familiar with Soil, or a fan of the band already, then this might not be an album that you can enjoy much these days, but for existing fans it is a pleasant surprise and a completely solid addition to your existing collection. If you like the band you should get it, and if you used to like the band but had sort of forgotten about them in the last few years then now is a good time to check them out again.


Scurrilous
Scurrilous
Price: £8.92

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Protest The Hero - Scurrilous, 29 Sept. 2013
This review is from: Scurrilous (Audio CD)
Scurrilous is the third full-length studio album by the Canadian band Protest The Hero, it was produced by Julius Butty and released in 2011.

Protest The Hero's incredible artistic strength lies in three main fields:
1. The incredibly precise, technical and virtuosic playing of complex material that's both impressively written and bafflingly structured, without ever feeling gimmicky.
2. Really unique and characterful lyrics that actually have something to say, but manage to stay entertaining with a colurful mixture of insight and clever phrasing.
3. Larger-than-life "moments" that elevate songs beyond the sum of their parts and cause you to really smile.

Scurrilous delivers on all three fronts and not only contains the trademark style-in-the-mixture-of-styles style that you would expect from the band, but manages to elevate and refine the band's songwriting skills as well, leaving a satisfying and entertaining album on a gut level and one that you can listen to time and again to study the jarring tempo changes and all the neat little touches its so jam packed with.

Now; Protest The Hero are one of the only bands going who can convincingly go from sounding like Dream Theater to Carcass to Fallout Boy in the space of a single verse without sounding contrived or cheesy. Sometimes its almost like listening to what Coheed And Cambria would sound like if they had a sudden desire to get closer to the spirit of both Sikth and Dillenger Escape Plan, and yet also early In Flames, without loosing any of their summery catchiness or ear for good melodies.

Despite the band's signature sound being a mixture of numerous Rock and Metal subgenres blended together at incredible speeds; on this album they reign it in a bit (well, by their standards) and manage to really nail down and solidify the elements which make them such a great and exciting band. This more solid approach is melded with a new, more honest and personal lyrical approach to great success. Songs on the subject of cancer, suicide, the music industry, life on tour and the aftermath of making amateur sex tapes are dealt with using clever and inventive language, a brilliant fusion of musical expression and the lyrical message, and some damn memorable hooks.

By and large Scurrilous is neither as poppy as the more memorable moments on Kezia, or as furious and metallic as the heaviest moments on Fortress, but it seems to have absolutely perfected the band's middle-ground. The band concentrated on songwriting, creating some of their most memorable and sing-along tracks to date.

Highlights include the furiously catchy `Sex Tapes,' the diverse `C'est La Vie' and the venomous `Dunsel.'

Overall; The band have always excelled at creating "moments" and this album is jam packed with them. When "the trains were fifteen minutes late" bit, the "I don't mean this in a hateful way, but when the people you love start walking away" bit, the `I hope she knows how much I respect her' bit or the "Here's looking at you, kid, it was going to leak eventually" bit kick in, they just captivate you, stick in your head for days and beg for repeat listens. If you like the band, you need to pick up this album. If you are new to the band pick up both this and their astounding debut Kezia at the same time, and just listen to them over and over again. Its really unlikely that you'll be disappointed.


Hammerfall: Gates Of Dalhalla [Blu-ray]
Hammerfall: Gates Of Dalhalla [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Hammerfall
Price: £25.20

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hammerfall - Gates Of Dalhalla Blu-Ray, 28 Sept. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Gates Of Dalhalla is a live concert recording by the Swedish Power Metal band Hammerfall, recorded with the Cans/Dronjak/Norgren/Larsson/Johansson line-up and released on Nuclear Blast in 2012. I got the basic Blu-Ray version although its also available in other editions such as on DVD with a two CD set of the audio from the concert.

This is an example of a really good concert movie. No interruptions, no crazy special effects, no overenthusiastic editor making it too busy for you to concentrate, just absolutely superb audiovisual quality and a considered, musician-friendly editing job where you actually get to see the instruments being played. The camera work and picture quality are great, the sound and mix are exemplary and overall its definitely of the better looking and sounding concert Blu-Rays that I've seen so far.

The stage and concert-grounds themselves are beautiful and interesting looking, and there's a tasteful and effective light show, a big Hammerfall logo banner and some fireworks.

There's a brief and tasteful drum solo that doesn't drag on too long, there's guest appearances on a few songs (Stefan Elmgren, Mikael Stanne, Jesper Stromblad, Roger Pontare, Momo Jord & Crucified Barbara) and extra musicians (Team Cans) but without robbing either the spotlight or the momentum. There's a mixture of old material and newer material without making the setlist feel muddled.

Most importantly of all, the band absolutely nail it. Its an energetic, crystal clear and big performance from each and every member. The drums are pounded, the vocals are impressive and the guitar solos are flawless. Joacim's onstage banter is even rather amusing. The whole atmosphere is one of class and perfection, without losing that crucial feeling of urgency.

Its just over two hours of absolutely top-quality Metal; lovingly played, lovingly recorded and lovingly produced, with a career spanning setlist and an interesting setting.

The setlist is as follows: `Patient Zero,' `Heeding The Call,' `Any Means Necessary,' `B.Y.H,' `Riders Of The Storm,' `Let's Get It On,' `Crimson Thunder,' `Renegade,' `Blood Bound,' `Last Man Standing,' `Fury Of The Wild,' `Drum Solo,' `Always Will Be,' `Dia De Los Muertos,' `Steel Meets Steel,' `Threshold,' `The Dragon Lies Bleeding,' `Let The Hammer Fall,' `Nar Vindarna Viskar Mitt Namn,' `Something For The Ages,' `The Templar Flame,' `Oh Fortuna,' `Glory To The Brave,' `One More Time,' `Hammerfall,' `Hearts On Fire.'

This version comes in a slim Blu-Ray case, with a booklet containing credits, photos and a list of tourdates. There is also a bonus `Behind The Scenes' which lasts around nine minutes. The Blu Ray specs are as follows: Screen - 1080p, Sound - PCM Stereo, Region - All, Running time - 151 minutes.

Overall; if you like the band this is an absolute must-have purchase. If you like Power Metal in general you should definitely try it out as it's a fantastic product and a good introduction to the band, and if you just like concert movies in general, its worth checking out to see one that's just absolutely nailed on all accounts.


Universal [Blu-ray] [2013] [Region A & B] [NTSC]
Universal [Blu-ray] [2013] [Region A & B] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Anathema
Price: £12.99

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anathema - Universal Blu Ray, 24 Sept. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Universal is a concert recording by the British band Anathema, released in 2013 on K Scope records. The concert was shot in support of the band's Weather Systems album at the Ancient Theatre of Phillipopolis, Bulgaria on the 22nd of September featuring the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra. The concert was shot while the band were in support of their Weather Systems album from 2012 and their setlist draws heavily from both it, and the previous two full-length studio albums We're Here Because We're Here and A Natural Disaster.

The performance is of a very high quality, delivering equally well on the energetic sections of songs, and the shimmering, beautiful quiet sections. The astounding vocal trio of Vincent Cavanagh, Daniel Cavanagh and Lee Douglas, both blend and then contrast their vocal styles to great effect, the rest of the musicians deliver everything with both precision and passion and the Orchestra provide colour and texture, really filling out the sound.

The mixing job is pretty much perfect and all the instruments are arguably balanced as well as they would be on a studio album, with only the added humanity felt in the vocal and drumming performances giving away that it's a live affair.

The visuals are great, with a tasteful stage show in the beautiful ancient theatre, a subtle light show and the Orchestra to draw your eye when the band aren't moving much. The camera work and editing is slow and musician-friendly, letting you get a good look at what people are playing rather than zooming frantically from one shot to another every second.

The track listing for the main show is as follows: `Untouchable Parts 1&2,' `Thin Air,' `Dreaming Light,' `Lightning Song,' `The Storm Before The Calm,' `Everything,' `A Simple Mistake,' `The Beginning And The End,' `Universal,' `Closer,' `A Natural Disaster,' `Deep,' `One Last Goodbye,' `Flying,' `Fragile Dreams,' `Panic,' `Emotional Winter/Wings Of God,' `Internal Landscapes' `Fragile Dreams (Reprise)'

The bonus feature included is a set of five tracks taken from the stripped down, A Night At The Union Chapel concert, the track listing for which is as follows: `Kingdom' `Thin Air' `Angels Walk Among Us' `A Natural Disaster' `Fragile Dreams.' This feature is similarly well recorded, mixed and edited and no simple throw-away. There are some tracks repeated from the main feature, but their alternative, more unplugged (not completely, but close) style makes it worth having both versions.

The Blu-Ray comes in a slim case with a booklet full of photos and the credits. The visuals are NTSC. The main menu only features play and track selection options, and there are no alternative audio (or subtitle) options which may upset some viewers, however I personally was incredibly happy with the audio provided as standard. There are other editions available, for example on Burning Shed with more extensive features, such as a CD of the audio, but as a cheap and simple version of the main concert, this edition certainly delivers it.

Overall, I'm very satisfied with this well made and well performed, good looking and good sounding Blu-Ray Anathema concert, and as long as you like the band and don't have an issue with the lack of audio options, or the setlist, then I highly recommend picking up a copy.


Kezia
Kezia

5.0 out of 5 stars Protest The Hero - Kezia, 13 Sept. 2013
This review is from: Kezia (Audio CD)
Kezia is the debut full-length studio album by the Canadian band Protest The Hero. It was released in 2005 on Underground Operations. The record is a concept album which tells the story of a woman called Kezia's death from three different perspectives on one level, but serves as a political statement or social commentary on another level.

The band have been described as many different things, such as Mathcore, Metalcore and Progressive Metal. They certainly mix elements of all three. It may sound a little clichéd, but its almost like a band playing a medley of different sections from dozens of different songs by all sorts of artists, like At The Gates, Children Of Bodom, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Dream Theater, Sikth, Dillenger Escape Plan, Gallows, Parkway Drive, Coheed & Cambria, Fair To Midland, Funeral For A Friend and Panic At The Disco all at once. There's even a brief moment that calls Queensryche to mind. Its not they they specifically rip off any one of the individual artists mentioned, but just that they try so many things there'll be bits here and there that's a bit reminiscent of someone else.

It's a very eclectic mix of influences. They can sometimes switch from one to another at the drop of a hat, and some of the songs are filled with so many different parts in different styles that it could almost be viewed as overwhelming. Rather than sounding muddled, confused, or cheesy, they somehow manage to pull off this mixture with an absolute flair and perfection. The song structures seem as though they should be obnoxiously bizzare but somehow they mysteriously manage to feel natural. Initially the sheer scale of the diversity and virtuosity may feel pretentious or ostentatious, but upon numerous repeat listens I've definitely come to believe that there isn't anything cynical at work here. It feels like a labour of love and not merely an exercise in wackiness.

There's just such a brilliant spark of creativity, every single section in this gigantic puzzle of a record is brilliant in and of itself, and each one perfectly compliments the next, and indeed the next few along. Every song is a well thought out and surprising journey that flutters between styles, tempos, time-sigs and vocal styles in a way that somehow flows smoothly. There's no too-cheesy ballads or momentum-breaking intros to skip either. There aren't any out-of-place comedy vocals and nothing to take you out of the listening experience.

Its difficult to choose highlights because every track is packed with countless memorable riffs, fun drum beats, inventive lyrics and sing-along vocal lines. If I had to choose a favourite however, it would probably be `Heretics & Killers.'

Overall; I highly recommend Kezia. It's a super-technical yet super-melodic mixture of impressive virtuosity and catchy hooks with enough talent and interesting parts to fill up ten albums by less brilliant bands. It really rewards repeat listening and every spin will uncover a new little gem you never noticed before. If you have even the slightest interest in the band this is an absolute must-have.


The Epigenesis
The Epigenesis
Price: £7.94

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Melechesh - The Epigenesis, 13 Sept. 2013
This review is from: The Epigenesis (Audio CD)
The Epigenesis is the fifth full-length studio album by the unique Metal band from Jerusalem, Melechesh. It was released in 2010 through Nuclear Blast.

Its always a bit difficult to describe the unique and interesting style in which Melechesh play. On this album in particular they have shed quite a few of the remaining Black Metal passages from their sound and presented an album that is distinctly Melechesh. In a lot of ways it may be their least extreme and most blast-free record to date, with a greater emphasis on instrumental passages and grooves as well as an absolutely top notch production job and mix. The songs largely revolve around big fat grooves and adventurous song structuring but give way to blistering Thrash passages now and again to keep the energy levels up.

In the past I've heard the band called all sorts of things online and in print, from Black Metal, to Technical Thrash, to Groove Metal, to Melodic Death Metal, to Folk Metal, to Progressive Metal. No one label really suits the band as they can mix all of those things in an album and often in a single song. On this album in particular they've really blended everything down into one, and used that to inform the whole song writing process. Its less of a bit of Prog here and a bit of Thrash here, a bit of Black over there. Now, they just write Melechesh-sounding music all the way through, and luckily it really, really works.

As usual, they have a heck of a lot of technical sections in odd time signatures but they are not afraid to just slam away with some powerful Thrash for a while either. They incorporate Folk influences from their own culture, but that's not really "the point" of the songs either. They lapse into slow, heavy grooves and apply pinch harmonics certainly, but its only ever one string to their multifaceted bow, and while the vocals can be reminiscent of Black Metal at times, the riffs aren't really oppressive or icy sounding.

Lyrically, as usual, the band have their unique selling point in the form of singing about interesting historical and fictional things from their own culture (Sumerian/ Assyrian/ Mesopotamian folklore). It gives the listener an interesting perspective, and variety from all the usual gore or biblical stuff.

Don't worry too much about "what" they play however. Whatever it is, they play it brilliantly. Melechesh are just a really unique, incredibly interesting and talented band, that come out with some very enjoyable music that covers a lot of ground within the Metal spectrum and this album in particular is a culmination of all the experimentation and improvements that the band have developed over their career. It is a potential-filler. It's a promise-fulfiller. It is the refinement and perfection of over a decade of brilliant ideas. It is a straight-up masterpiece that just gets better with each listen.

The Epigenesis, like each album the band have released to date, expands the band's horizons and without loosing their core sound, improving with each new record into their collage of different Metallic styles. There are more of the band's trademark evil-sounding folk moments and sound effects (in this case `When halos Of Candles Collide' and `Greater Chain Of Being). Like the two records which preceded it, The Epigenesis is an incredibly instant album, that grabs your attention right away but that has so many great little touches and hidden depths that you can listen to it over and over again and like it more every single time. If you are already a fan of the band this will doubtlessly delight you and if you aren't yet it will surely make you one.

Highlights include the groovy opener `Ghouls Of Nineveh,' the ridiculously catchy and bouncy `Sacred Geometry' (that riff is massive!) and the rolling, hypnotic, album-closing Title Track. That being said its an absolutely rock solid album all the way through, and nothing's worth skipping at all (unless the quiet Eastern numbers aren't your cup of tea). Basically; if you want creative memorable riffs, powerful technical drumming and a distinct flavour that separates it from the crowd, this is something should consider trying.

Overall; Melechesch are a superb and talented band with a hell of a lot to offer. If you like Extreme Metal they'll feel like a breath of fresh air and if you don't they are still somehow strangely accessible and manage to write such catchy and enjoyable music that it never feels too dense or challenging. The Epigensis is definitely one of the finest records that the band have released to date. I highly recommend you give it a try if the band appeals to you at all.


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