Embrace the Dawn
Release date: November 23, 2017
Some folks prefer straightforward music every time and there is a call for that in metal. Many bands remain true to one genre. But others boast a buffet, a tasting menu, a superb mixture of high-powered perfection. Technical Melodic Death Metal could be the placement for Embrace the Dawn as they achieve such an impressive selection and this is a must have album. This unsigned band has brought together an assortment of songs that won't let down the most demanding audiences. Two years after their first Promo EP their first full length album The Effigist is more than suitable to inaugurate these men to success. Joined by the bands founder, Aussie Ben Tinker on guitar, Embrace the Dawn have enlisted a highly diverse selection of members Denis Landry (Canada) bass, Kevin Talley (USA) drums, and Roger Isaksen (Norway) on vocals.
The Effigist has plenty of technical, thrash, and symphonic metal components.
“Cold Black Hole” starts with a sudden distant industrial voice and haunted by Tinker's solid high pierced riff you will rapidly fall in love with the vocal work. It is catchy, spans all octaves of the throat and authorizes the guitar work to shine. The double bassed Talley gives your ears such a solid workout, and the production is amazing.
“Putrefaction of God” will move you for a few seconds slowly and melancholy and suddenly break out. Isaksen tortures the listener while painting a lyrical picture that is unnerving and drenching with sound. I felt like it is the band presenting itself to the Gods of metal and the listener is sprayed by the works capacity.
“Cerebral Sanitation” is perfect. It has a solid intro moves swiftly into Isaksen punishing your intellect with viscous riffs coupling the act and again it happens this wonderful chorus, symphonic chorus that will not leave your skull. Best song on the album and if they can get the air play, it will get them a sweet deal for another LP!
“The Tide” dazzles with grainy raw guitar and man you start to recognize the creation that went into the composition of this album. I find this piece mirrors the movement of a nighttime tide frightening yet personal.
The Effigist is really a gem. If you love hard work great production melodic tastes and catchy movements purchase this album.
Reviewed by JP1340
Sweet & Lynch
Unified is the second album from the project featuring Stryper frontman Michael Sweet and ex-Dokken virtuoso and Lynch Mob namesake George Lynch. Much like their debut, this album covers a lot of ground, with very little of it being like either Dokken or Stryper. A hefty bit of it would not be out of place on a Lynch Mob album though in my opinion. The songs here are heavy, often dark, mildly progressive, and bluesy throughout.
Let me start by saying that Lynch’s playing and Sweet’s vocals are both outstanding here. Both guys are giants of natural talent. That said, I didn’t think that they gelled well on their debut and, while it’s slightly better here, I still think that their individual styles clash so much here that the songs just don’t flow very well.
The band are at their best when they are at their most straightforward. The opening tune, “Promised Land,” kicks everything off in a great fashion. It’s fast-paced, aggressive, and explosive in all the best ways. It’s the kind of rockin’ tune that you’d certainly expect when you hear either of these names mentioned. “Make Your Mark” is another solid moment, offering something heavier yet still melodic and soaring. “Bridge of Broken Lies” is dark and bluesy and really showcases the potential this album has in my opinion. Lynch’s solo here is heartbreaking and powerful, showing how much better he has gotten with age. . It’s something different for both Sweet and Lynch.
Unfortunately, there are many songs here that have excellent moments but never really go anywhere. “Walk” is the best example in my opinion. I wish I had a better way to describe it but, honestly, it sounds like a clusterfuck. It starts off fair to midland (I don’t dig the fast-paced, kinda goofy vocals) and then it tries to get all experimental in a Queen sort of way. It just falls totally flat and comes off cheesy as hell from the lyrics to the music. Lynch’s guitar work is the only remote saving grace. “Find Your Way” just sort of stumbles through it’s four minute and twenty-three seconds. Every time it starts to come together, Sweet & Lynch switch gears and take it another direction. It’s hard to latch on to. The album’s closer, “Live To Die” is another one that has excellent guitar work but Sweet’s vocal effects and high-pitched pieces just aren’t for me at all.
I’m a big fan of both Stryper and Lynch Mob and I’m stoked to see that these guys like each other well enough to have made a couple of albums together, but Unified just doesn’t feel that way to me. I enjoy the bluesy swagger of a lot of the songs but Sweet isn’t a bluesy singer and he sounds out of place on most of this album. I really wanted to love this, but I just can’t find much that makes me want to come back repeatedly in the way that classic albums do. Maybe you’ll dig it more?
Reviewed by mark1340
Babylon A.D. are one of those bands that came along just a minute too late. While experiencing moderate success, their initial major label releases came just as Grunge was getting ready to take over the industry. Alongside other excellent bands (like Tyketto, Badlands, and Bang Tango) Babylon A.D. never got to the next level, despite their obvious talent.
After 17 years, the band, featuring all of the original members, have returned with Revelation Highway. And what a return it is! While older, wiser, and more experienced musicians, the band do not miss a single step while churning out the bluesy, slightly Glammy, Hard Rock that have kept them in our memories all these years.
“She Likes to Give It” is the best example of everything I love about this band. It’s bluesy but completely rockin’ with strong, gravely vocals and a heapin’ helpin’ of sleazy lyrics. Folks, there just ain’t enough of this anymore! The anthemic Hard Rock style guitars and driving rhythm section of “Crash and Burn” will get your head bobbing right off of the bat. You can practically feel your hair grow throughout the song! The straightforward feel of “I’m No Good For You” is another highlight. It features wailing lead guitars and a catchy chorus with a great solo about three-fourths of the way through the song. “Don’t Tell Me Tonight” is a big anthem rocker as well and a perfect way to end this album.
Overall, Babylon A.D. return with their best effort to date. If you missed out on these guys over the years, then check out Revelation Highway. It’s modern sounding and fresh, yet it manages to embody everything we all miss about the late eighties/early nineties music scene. If you are a fan of bands like Y & T, Tyketto, Lynch Mob, and Tesla then you need to own Revelation Highway.
Reviewed by mark1340
Man Woman Life Death Infinity
The Church are icons of the independent underground. They began their career as part of the 80’s New Wave movement, but have evolved the style over the years, helping to open the genre far beyond its poppy box. Man Woman Life Death Infinity is their 26th album and it shows. The album is a brilliant piece of melancholy that is solid evidence that the band have continually been an influence on everyone from U2 and Depeche Mode to The Flaming Lips to Kamikaze Girls.
What I love most about this album is its sort of “unified diversity.” The band cover a lot of ground here, but all of it is seen through the same filter which makes it tremendously cohesive in both sound and mood. An example of this would be “Dark Waltz.” While it’s got the familiar melancholy, ambient mood to it, it’s practically a Bob Dylan song. The phrasing of the verses and the bluesy (albeit slow) guitar work remind me a lot of Dylan’s brooding Time Out of Mind album. Meanwhile, “Another Century,” has a poppier feel with a catchy as hell chorus, yet neither seem out of place here.
Other highlights include the crisp, clear sound of “Something Out There Is Wrong,” which offers a bit of psychedelia that harkens back to the bands early works (think David Bowie, early Pink Floyd, and Syd Barrett’s solo work). “For King Knife” even takes it a step further by featuring more story-oriented lyrics and lots of cool guitar effects. “Undersea” offers a Gothier feel, without drowning you in it, and is hands-down my personal favorite track on the record.
While The Church albums can vary greatly from release to release, this one is as solid as they come. It’s spectacular from start to finish and it’s fairly short run time helps keep you focused and attentive on the ride through the outer limits. This band’s influence on music is undeniable and if you haven’t ever explored their storied catalog, then this is a surprisingly great place to start. Who would have thought that a band’s 26th album would be their arguable masterpiece?
Reviewed by mark1340
The Deviant Chord
Born in Colorado in the early eighties, Jag Panzer was the product of the NWOBHM and are considered one of the original Power Metal bands in the United States. They have been through many changes throughout the decades but, despite that, they have remained one of the most consistent sounding bands in the entire realm of Metal music. Their grand return, The Deviant Chord, is a monster of a record and it comes on the smoldering heels of what fans had assumed was the end of the band. Much like Iced Earth, U.D.O., and Iron Maiden, Jag Panzer just doesn’t seem to age.
The Deviant Chord picks up right where 2011’s The Scourge of Light left off. It kicks off with “Born of the Flame,” a dual guitar anthem that is steeped in the bands NWOBHM influences. Admittedly, the song takes a verse to get going but by the time you hit the end of the first chorus it’s a steamroller of lead guitars and harmonic background vocals. The band keep it up with songs like “Fire of Our Spirit” and “Far Beyond All Fear,” both of which are anthemic Power Metal fanfare, just the way Jag Panzer fans like it!
The band wisely keep the album from getting stale with a couple of tracks that break from the norm. The heavy, stuttering metal music and soaring, almost operatic, vocals of the title track are a good example of this. Unlike the band’s more uptempo numbers, this one is an epic journey that swells musically in the middle. It’s laden with haunting vocals, Dickinson style howling choruses, and well….deviant sounding chords! “Long Awaited Kiss” is another such moment, landing somewhere between power ballad and medieval sounding fanfare. The lead guitar work on this song is absolutely fantastic, perfectly balancing skill and emotion.
Overall, this is another great album from Jag Panzer. This band has never really risen to the upper echelon of Metal bands and it’s a crying shame. For those in the know, The Deviant Chord is the real deal and you are definitely gonna dig it. If you enjoy NWOBHM and Power Metal bands and you haven’t checked out Jag Panzer then this is a good place to start, they are still at the top of their game.
Reviewed by mark1340