So that’s a little of what’s been going on.  Unlike what I said before I won’t be reviewing the System’s Officer record because I wanted to have a little fun with a metal album and I’ll show you what I mean later. I wanted to choose a fairly mainstream band that most people paying attention to the metal scene would know. As fate would have it… As I Lay Dying was releasing their Powerless Rise album. Now… this is about as mainstream as I’ll ever get on this page. I know they are on an “Indie” label, but this band has been around since ’01 and is five full-length releases into their career, although with a few line up changes. I wanted to have the review up before or just as the album came out on May 11th but just couldn’t get around to it, plus I wanted to do something a little special.

Cover art... click it for their myspace.

I remember listening to the Shadows Are Security album in the years after high school when I was getting into standard metal stuff like Lamb Of God, Children Of Bodom etc, and didn’t think too much of them even then. I even remember them playing at Club Denim (back when it was club denim) the same night I tried to promote a show, (back when I  tried to promote) which didn’t work out well for my attendance. Even then the pop choruses tended to bother me, but the fact that they could be unbelievably heavy, I could not deny. So having grown out of almost all strait up stuff like that, I listened to the new album with hopes that they had grown in all ways, but still maintained their previously established heaviness.

My first listen I was actually pretty satisfied with a lot of things. The speed parts are damn heavy with great layering of multiple vocal styles around the main growl. The first song has a really great old school speed part halfway through and the rhythm is actually a little bit on the different side. But the beefs that I will begin to have with the record start to become apparent almost immediately. The first two riffs go back and forth like a pendulum, leading perfectly into the solo, leading perfectly into the breakdown, which leads perfectly into the repeat of the original metal-core riff. This track is called Beyond Our Suffering… Now, I’ve already had a few rants on how pissed I get when metal bands try as hard as they can to be as cliché-metal as they can in their band and song names, so I won’t even start.

Anyway, the album moves on to ANOTHER song that’s in-between two and five minutes long called, Anodyne Sea. It’s in this song that you can really start to hear a distinct positive of the album and an area that the band has clearly worked on. Of course I’m talkin’ ‘bout the solo. It’s not just the riffing or the shreds or the sweeps either, which can only ever follow the harmonic structure supplied by the rhythm and bass guitars (Unless you’re Muhammed Suicmez… then you just do what you feel like). They impress me on many occasions with the quality of the solos, but never seem to break out of the classic metal-core song structure, tone, or feel. Although, if there is an exception to that it comes in the third song, which is aptly titled: Without Conclusion. The reason it stands out is because it’s the only time on the album where they incorporate blast beats with any efficiency, if at all. This small part at the beginning flat out SHREDS! Yet you only get about 9 seconds of it in the whole song! I know I rag on bands for doing the same thing over and over, but why do that part for 9 seconds and the same metal-core part with the snare on the ¼ note for more than half the album.

live - click it for tour dates

Now I promise I won’t make you read me talk about every song so the last one I’m going to talk about specifically is called Parallels. This album doesn’t have a title track (thank christ) but it seems the one that most fits the bill, is Parells indeed.  Reason the first: Traditional production methods have the main single or title track at positions one, three or four. Reason the second: This song has the most cliché metal intro of all time. I actually laughed out loud when I heard it. Reason the third: It has the standard heavy metal riff into catchy metal chorus. Reason the fourth: That pattern repeats followed by the bridge and the solo (which is pretty slick in the sweeping department) Reason the fifth: The chorus is the catchiest on the album and the producer new it, as he chose to repeat the progression at least 20 times. This song just seems manufactured to be some bastardized version of “epic” so that the fans have a song title to yell out at shows. This is the last song I’m going to talk about in full.

The rest of the album is more or less more of the same. There are some things worth mentioning though, like an insanely heavy riff just after two minutes into the last song, (unfortunately it goes into a breakdown I’ve heard all too many times) or the incredibly slick tapping transition in The Plague. The fact that they didn’t incorporate too many of the lame hardcore breakdowns is one that I completely welcome. It’s like they replaced half the cliché breakdowns they’d normally have, with a couple of nice old school shredding parts like the beginning of Without Conclusion and towards the end of CondemnedUpside Down Kingdom is probably the worst song on the album and gives new meaning to phrase “album filler”. Anything else specific you can hear for yourself I’m sure.

So I’m, going to take this opportunity to so have a little fun with this album. If you’ve read this blog or talked to me in person you probably know that my biggest beef with metal music these days is that too much of what’s going on is too interchangeable and boring. So I decided to test my theory. What I did was bring every track from Powerless Rise into Protools and try to edit a new song out of parts from all the others. Now this might be a harsh thing to do to a band, but it’s not a direct rip on As I Lay Dying, but rather all bands that tend to write like this. Obviously some edits you can hear and aren’t as smooth as a song would be. I actually prefer this Frankenstein song over the real songs because the slight changes in feel and tempo make them sound much more technical. There are 16 edits in all, using every song, even if for only two seconds.

What can I say about the production? Well like I said before, the vocal layering is really well done. He sounds really deep at points (end of The Only Constant Is Change) or high and full of presence like in most transitions leading up to a fast part. The guitars sound up the industry standard of “heavy,” as do the drums. Not that the industry standard really floats my boat, but it’s not something I could complain about. I really enjoy how the bass was often mixed clean, even during some more intense parts. When the guitars have that much gain in the tone, sometimes adding more elsewhere on the track takes any resemblance of tonic stricture away. Indeed, sometimes that is the goal, (Meshuggah) but not all the time.
As a whole it’s really hard to find a part on this album that is not in strait four timing. It’s also impossible to find a song on this album that doesn’t have at least one repeating progression that uses strait sixteen’s on the kick. When you have an album with eleven short songs, that have nothing to do with each other, yet all still incorporate the same musical style, structure, feel, idea, and purpose, it starts to become very tiresome. That in a nutshell was how I felt after listening to it the first time and indeed how I feel after listening to it all a few times.

Anyway… sorry for the delay on this review. I’ve had a bunch of other stuff on the go and couldn’t bring myself to sit down and write a review. Especially after still getting shit from Baptized and Odium fans. Hopefully it won’t be as long for the next review from me. The next review in general should be from a different distributor and should be the first ever film review. So look forward to that.

for our glorious dead..

Hill of yage


This week I’ve been listening to: SLEDGEHAMMER!

Dear god this band is amazing! A tech/prog metal band with no guitar player! check them out!

http://www.myspace.com/sledgehammermonsterrock

This week I’ve been watching:

Going through The Pacific for the 3rd time. So much intensity and power.

Just realized this character's name is "Sledgehammer"... weird

IS HILL DEAD!!?!?!?!?

January 26, 2010

Hello peoples! it’s been a while so i thought I’d say what’s up!

So that’s what’s goin on! I’d also like to talk a bit about the best albums of 2009 as I haven’t posted since the new year. So I’ll give you 4 albums. I’m not going to rank them, and I’m not going to say they are any worse or better than any other particular album, they are just 4 from last year that I think deserve mentioning.

#1 is Between The Buried And Me’s “The Great Misdirect”. I know I said that I wouldn’t compare albums, but this is the exception. They have proven once again that they are the greatest and most complete band since Pink Floyd. This album once again takes them in a new direction but not straying too far from the “Colors” vibe and tone. In fact I would say that the two albums are the most like each other of any of their albums and at first I thought maybe it was too similar. But after listening to it everyday since it came out, I’ve found that the guitar tones are incredibly similar at some points on the album but the similarities really stop there. This is the first album where there are discernible structure in some songs as well as a full acoustic song (and not an emo one like on The Silent Circus) as well as an obvious attempt to show their blues and classic rock influences. All in all they are the best… have been since Alaska and will be for the foreseeable future. This is not something that can be argued or discussed… this is fact. They are by far the most complete band without going into the obscurities of jazz-fusion… which when you look at it BTBAM is exactly that.

#2 Is the newest from Converge called “Axe To Fall.” This was an album that I tried writing a review for but couldn’t come up with enough of a review to really do one. Basically this album pummels you from beginning to end with a couple of mellow spots to breathe. The 3rd track which is the title track is just so crazy and forward driving it’s hard to take in all of the mayhem at once. A Quick note for all the pussy hardcore bands out there… THIS IS HARDCORE! The album is a bit too strait forward to rank it up there with the absolute best of the best. But, they play around with a lot of cool poly-rhythms and show they are masters of their instruments. It also has some of the best vocal layering around. Props to the engineer! This is one that you want to buy if you love hard shit but don’t want to spend months of your life trying to figure out exactly what the hell BTBAM is doing, or can’t get into the sporadic nature of Dillinger.

#3 Is from one of the most epic bands ever… Russian Circles. This one might not have made it on to this list had I not already done a review on the newest Mono album, praising it’s beauty enough for one man. But I don’t want to take anything away from this album as it is indeed mind blowing in every way. In typical Circle’s fashion they are huge, heavy, and epic without making a fuss about it. This album has some of the best bass tones ever. That is because they make it sound huge but rarely with a lot of drive and mostly amp tone. PROPS TO THE ENGINEER! If any band proves you don’t need lyrics to be heavy… its this one. But how can that be if the guitars are floating so nicely and aren’t even that dirty most of the time? The answer is simple. It’s how the songs grow and how the guitars are layered with each other and with the strings. It’s the attitude you feel in the bass when it comes in perfectly with the drive of the drums. It’s because this band knows how to grow a song from the dirt up, build tension, and then release the tension with pummeling bass and drum grooves. They are one of a few bands changing the definition of heavy right before our eyes and it gives me goose-bumps just to think about it.

#4 Will be an odd pick for most people but Clint Mansell’s soundtrack for “Moon” truly deserves to be mentioned with the best albums of last year. As most people know I have a passion for movie soundtracks. I feel it’s a different and sometimes much more difficult skill to write music to an image and try and capture someone else’s feelings rather than your own. I’ve been a fan of Mansell’s since watching the movie “Requiem For A Dream” and then “Pi” shortly there after. He also wrote the music for “The Fountain” which was performed by “Mogwai.” So his resume is very impressive and has made him a bit of a hero of mine. Anyway, he out-did himself once again with the soundtrack for “Moon” (which is also one of the best sci-fi movies ever… go watch it now!). There are so many musical ideas, sounds, and textures going on at most points of the album it can be hard to wrap your brain around. But there are also incredibly basic hypnotic sections that can send you into a trance with reverb-saturated grand piano. Anyone who is interested in synth based music or any music with a ton of electronic textures needs to check this album out immediately!

So thats it! Check back for a full review in a couple of weeks time! In the meantime… DON’T SETTLE FOR ANYTHING LESS THAN PURE ART…

hill of yage

Dancing With Intensity

August 19, 2009

 

One of a couple different pieces of album art - click to download it for free

One of a couple different pieces of album art - click to download it for free

 

Hello all. As you may or may not have noticed it has been a massively long time since I’ve posted. It is %100 my fault, but I wanted to do something a bit special for this post. I have decided to do an interview along with the review this time. The album I decided to talk about is the one I said I might at the end of the last review. The band is called “Dancing With Paris” from Toronto. Paris, referring to the name of a stripper and not the city… if you were wondering. The EP is called “There’s Something In The Water” which is a short, 7 track, 19 minute disc. This EP was released %100 digital, without pressing even 1 copy. Which is not completely unheard of, but different for sure. Unlike usual, I’m going to jump right into the album including some quotes from the interview and I will include the interview in full at the end.

The first track is a short intro called “Sand Castles” which is an ambient creepy bit coming to an end at 42 seconds. This track is purely a lead in to the best and most powerful song on the EP called “Bled Dry.” The song starts out extremely powerful and has a bit of a math influenced rhythm, dropping a beat through the first phrase and adding one in the second (or something to that effect). Right off the bat you can hear their main vibe of the record which is the big powerful low end of the 8 string guitar. “The 8 string 7 string 5 string combo was a new edition to the writing process when we wrote this EP. When we did the early demos, that was a 7 string 6 string 4 string combo,”  says James Manning from DWP. The song goes from this powerful vibe right into the strait up pop/hardcore groove with catchy vocals. Those that know me know I’m not a fan of these sections in most music or ever. That is true on this record as well. It’s not something I can be down with. But at the same time they don’t abuse like most hardcore bands. They have it in there to be more relatable, more accessible to the average music listener. So I have no issue at all with this vibe and influence being brought into the mix. My issue with these sections is that the melody that is used in almost every song, is the same broken melody that has been used at nauseam since bands like Alexisonfire came on the scene. In this song the pop-hardcore vibe doesn’t last long though, as they go into one of the my favourite breakdowns probably ever. It’s pretty basic but it is just so crazy and intense. The 16th note breakdown that comes in at about 55 seconds, really kicks your head off your shoudlers, and is pretty random as it separates the two structured, more pop influenced sections. James had this to say about the breakdown, “Bled dry breakdown is absolutely rediculous. I don’t even know what to say about it, hence why there were no vocals thrown in there. it stands out on it’s own and is absolutely brutal.”  The song finishes with a great “b” chorus with more open heavy guitars and growl under the singing. Overall, a great track.

Moving on to the middle section of the EP, we come to the 3rd track called “Orange Country.” This song has a bit of a weird electronic vibe at the beginning under the low heavy 8 string guitar. In a lot of ways I find this to be the weakest track on the album as they don’t really leave the slow quarter note triplet vibe the entire song save for the slow drawn out breakdown which is definitely pretty heavy. They make up for it though, with a short track called “(Boardwalk)”. This track is such an excellent, ambient, instrumental break from the rest of the album which moves seamlessly into the 5th track called “Hardwalk (Of Champions).” The transition is so seamless that at first listen you don’t even know the vibe has changed until they add the big bend on the 8 string. The section at the beginning of this track is one of my favourites on the album, as it has great play between the two guitars, especially in the panning. The riff has a bit of a cool rhythmical idea and the two guitars are thrown back and forth, front and back and all around. When that is used creatively with the way the riff is, it makes for a great section. The rest of the track has the token vibe of the album, with the heavy guitars and catchy vocals. 

Live - click it for their myspace

Live - click it for their myspace

 

The album ends with a couple of cool tracks. Track 6 is “Titanic” with starts with a pure intense vocal bit “This is a sinking ship!” Which leaves me to say to myself… “hmmm sounds about right”. The main riff of the song is pretty basic but has a great little riff in the back which changes to a great ambient riff in the background as the song progresses. One thing I came to notice in the band is that whenever the low end power part of any song is starting to become a bit tiresome I can usually hear the cool ambient riff in the background. That is no different in this song. This makes the strait breakdowns, when the ambience is dropped out, much more powerful. The last track is the title track of the album and other than “Bled Dry” is probably the strongest song on the EP. It’s the longest song, at just over 4 minutes and really incorporates all the ideas they were trying to get across on the EP. Therefore, my complaints about this song are the same as on the rest of the record. The pop parts are a bit of a “been there done that” vibe, and the heavy guitars abuse that quarter not triplet that is so hard for any metal based band to stay away from. Especially from 3 mins till the end that vibe is a bit tiresome.

Let’s talk about the musicians shall we! Nothing individually really blew me away. The vocals have great intensity in both the high scream and the heavy growl. His singing, although is not my style, gets the job done. But, I would need to see them live (which I plan on doing) to know the true quality of his singing voice. The guitars really don’t do anything complicated on the record. But they do throw some really cool rhythms at you and there are a couple of fancy riffs in there that show some mastering of the instrument. That being said, the vibe and the overall musical philosophy doesn’t really lend itself well to the crazy solo’s anyway. Although, I would still like to hear the odd section with some diddly, but that might just be me. The bass is hard to comment on because there is so much low end to begin with and he is almost always just shadowing the 8 string. This is about all you could do in this band I’m sure. The drums are also hard to comment on because it’s such a breakdown driven band he doesn’t really have the opportunity to do a lot. But what he does is tight and he’s got some cool transition fills in there. In the future it would be cool to see the drums take a bit more of a polyrhymical approach like he does a bit on the snare in “(Boardwalk)”. 

Production on this record really is second to none. DWP used the same guy that is currently working on our record, Shawn Lefebvre. He didn’t do anything overly experimental with the production, but it sounds absolutely massive! You can hold this record up to pretty much anyone in the business and the production will compare. This opinion is incredibly biased though, so I will not say anything else. I do want to talk about the album art for a bit. Seeing as it’s all digital they made a cover for every song in Itunes. Which I think is just incredibly cool! The art is amazing and you should check out what James said about it in the interview. 

Overall, I really enjoy the EP. It’s not the most unique album out there but it puts almost every hardcore band out there to shame. The issues I have with it I already stated so I won’t talk about it again. In the future I would like to see DWP mess around with their melodies a bit more in the choruses. The band that does the catchy melody the best is Isis. If they incorporated the kind of vocal vibes on the “Wavering Radiant” album for example, they could bring their catchy sections to a whole new level. I feel they are moving well towards the vibe I’d like to see them take in their heavy sections as they incorporate some cool math type parts and they already listen to Meshuggah. So if they take any lessons away from them at all I will be pleased. So, ya decent record especially for their first release. I strongly recommend going to get it. IT’S FREE, and clicking the first picture at the top takes you right to the download link. You are literally 2 clicks away and 3 minutes away from getting the record. So there is no excuse with this one. 

Promo - click it for their myspace

Promo - click it for their myspace

 

Anyway, Thats it for the review but the interview is really cool and I couldn’t have been more happy with the answers. So here it is. Sorry for the cliche ones but they have to be asked and I got them out of the way first.

1. How/Who came up with the band name? Any Good stories behind it? Any significance? 

James: The dancing with Paris name came from a story about Terrence and me and our buddy dan at a strip club. There was this gorgeous stripper named Paris and Terrence fell in love LOL. Well not really, but he had to have a lap dance from her. (He) couldn’t get her so we went back another night. (He) still didn’t get her because she was fighting with I guess her boyfriend? Anyways, one night a few weeks later we decided to go back, he was gonna get this fuckin lap-dance! We get there walk out and the strip club had been turned into a furniture store. Terrence never got the lap dance so Dancing With Paris was born as a name out of that story.

2. I can hear the Meshuggah influence, but what other artists have shaped the musical philosophy and writing of Dancing With Paris?

James: This EP embodies every tiny influence we have in it. I think it draws on every artist. Obviously Meshuggah, but also Holly Springs, A Day To Remember Vanna, Fall Out Boy, Straight Reads The Line, classic Alexisonfire, Dredg, Deftones, Refused, Glassjaw you can probably find spice girls and lady gaga in there jk. But seriously there’s a lot more, that’s just the obvious.

3. You guys obviously abuse that 8 string vibe in the heavier sections. Do both guitarists use it? What make/model(s) are you guys rockin? Was that a tool you guys used when the band was formed? If not, was it a conscious decision as a band to go to that vibe? or did one of the guitar players just see a deal at Steve’s one day one a sick 8 string?

James: The 8 string 7 string 5 string combo was a new edition to the writing process when we wrote this EP. When we did the early demos that was a 7 string 6 string 4 string combo. Wilson is always at the bottom of more strings tune down. He plays an 8 string Ibanez, I can’t remember the model. Brad plays a 7 string Ibanez and Frieday plays a 5 string Ernie ball bass man I believe. I forget that kinda stuff all the time. Either way Wilson’s 8 is tuned to F# and there is a rumour of his interest in a 9 string LOL.

4. You guys are on Twitter, which is obviously becoming insanely popular. Have you found that it’s helps with any aspects of growing your band and your brand in general?

James: Twitter is a funny thing. I have my own, I use the band’s myspace, and I love facebook. But with Twitter if one person is always doing it you don’t need to. in our case Wilson does most of it. from what I’ve seen though, it has it’s many uses. Quick updates, quick news, and alot of ppl use Twitter. i use it for other bands that I like and it gives me all the updates i need. I know Twitter helps spread the word.

5. We’ve seen the benefits of doing the free download as we had over 100 downloads of the torrent as soon as we put it up, almost surpassing all of our Itunes sales. You guys released the “There’s Something In The Water EP” completely digital and completely free right off of the bat. What benefits have you guys seen from that? What other measures have you guys taken as a band to stay financially viable?  

James: Free downloading is amazing. I’m a broke motherfucker so I can admit I download. Although if I had money I would still buy CD’s because I love them. I love opening a fresh cd and listening to music through my technique stereo at home. It’s old but the sound quality is awesome. So what? Well here’s the advantage. ppl don’t know us? Well get aquanted and don’t pay a cent. We don’t make money on CDs but who does anymore. If ppl download our EP love it come out to a show party and buy merch. We still make money. and they got free music to love. Here’s why. People now have the option to pick what they listen to. You have two bands you’ve heard are awesome, one album is free and the other one you have to pay for. You haven’t got money and u have never heard there music. You’re gonna download that freebe. We can be that freebe. Who’s gonna spend money on a band they’ve never heard before? I always download then buy. it’s like an HMV listening booth in ur home. But also we may eventually press and sell hard copies for the peeps that want them. There are ppl who have asked me when were gonna do that.

6. You guys are all from Toronto. What is it like trying to break into the incredibly tough Canadian music industry in the most crowded market? 

James: Being from toronto is awesome, but there are problems. Too much going on. Always big bands coming through and awesome shows going on like Blink and Fall Out Boy just played here. The problem with that is bands coming up in a city like this do shows and can’t draw or struggle to draw new ppl because we have the bands that everyone wants to see. So ppl go to that instead or ppl go to clubs or anything. There’s just so much going on. When you go outside of Toronto, smaller towns don’t have that, but the bands like ours come to those small towns and everyone goes to the shows cause that is the main thing going on in that small town. On top of all that there is an endless variety of bands of various genres trying to make it in this vast city. Especially hardcore, or metal styles of music, it’s really hard.

7. Being from Guelph I have found that the city and the music coming from here has influenced my writing and my musical philosophy in general. What (if any) influence has the Toronto music scene had on Dancing With Paris?

James: Now on the bright side, Toronto has alot of interesting characters. I grew up in scarborough which is the absolute east side of Toronto. I’ve met alot of interesting people which lyrically I crafted those ppl/themes into our songs on the EP. It’s such a big place and you can always find something to do whether it’s a bush party or a house party, I still tend to wind up swigging 40’s somewhere. Also, though I think growing up here shapes who you are. If it wasn’t for this place I wouldn’t be who I am doing what I am doing now. Where you grow up is a part of you always and forever will influence ur life. Of course I can’t speak for the whole band because two members live in aurora and one moved here from Milton. Dunno if Toronto affects them.

8. I LOVE the album art. It’s one of my favourite attributes of the EP. Who did the art? Who came up with the concept? and who’s Idea was it to do the dual cover for itunes?

James: The album art was done by Wilson. He has a line out called Willi-Lines which he does all online from their website. He painted everything then Piers our manager photoshoped it all together to make it what you see when you download it and throw it onto your iPod touch or iPhone or whatever media device it’ll show up on. I love it it’s awesome. the idea to have different art was Wilson and Piers I think.

9. You guys worked with Shawn Lefebvre on this record. Where did you record with him? Describe your experience working with him and how much (if any) influence he had on the tracks, other than the mix of course. 

James: Shawn Lefebvre! Awesome to work with. Knew how to handle all of us. Did way more then just mix, record, master. As soon as we finished writing Shawn was in there with us doing pre-production, re-structuring the songs to make them flow better making them tighter. Once that was done we headed out to Drive Studios in woodbridge to record drum tracks. We spent the whole day there. The rest of the EP was done at Shawn’s studio in the west end of Toronto. Shawn was also fully emersed in production as well. He edited all my lyrics to make sure they made sense and threw in some lines as well. Over all experience was absolutely awesome. Definitely wanna work with him again in the future and I recommend him to anyone who’s serious.

10. DUDES! What it is with that RIDICULOUS breakdown in “Bled Dry”? So simple but so crazy!

James: Bled dry breakdown is absolutely rediculous. I don’t even know what to say about it hence why there were no vocals thrown in there. it stands out on it’s own and is absolutely brutal.

So that’s it for the interview. I’d like to thank James and the band as a whole for agreeing to do the interview. It’s definitely something I’m going to try more often. Thanks again guys! 

That’s it for me! Until next time… keep saying no to kitsch!

Hill Of Yage

This Week I’ve been listening to: The Doors (thanks a lot sweetheart) 

This Week I’ve been watching: British Office and Peep Show (lovin the BBC)