Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Spock's Beard - "The Oblivion Particle"

Spock's Beard - The Oblivion Particle
2015, Inside Out

1. Tides of Time
2. Minion
3. Hell's Not Enough
4. Bennett Built a Time Machine
5. Get Out While You Can
6. A Better Way to Fly
7. The Center Line
8. To Be Free Again
9. Disappear
Bonus Track:
10. Iron Man

The You Tube robot plopped the "Bennett Built a Time Machine" lyric video in my feed awhile back. I was instantly hooked. I love that song. In fact, it's probably one of my favorite progressive songs of all time. No I'm not lying. The rest of the album is good too. I like how the band mixes plenty of progressive virtuoso playing with good hooks and melodies. This is especially apparent on songs like "The Center Line" and "Disappear." The latter is another song I love to death. I'm not sure if this is a concept album or not because the liner notes feature a story about "Bennett"...as in... the one who built the time machine, but the other songs don't seem to make reference to it, so I don't know. It's a good album and I may have to get into more Spock's Beard in the future.

Useless Fact: Um... Neal Morse was in this band? Yeah, I know everyone knows that but I don't know the band well enough for a really good fact.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Lifesavers - "Heaven High"

Lifesavers - Heaven High
2014, Retroactive

1. Heaven High
2. All Fall Down
3. Bark Bite
4. Offed My Head
5. I Love It When
6. Dog Days of an Indian Summer
7. Oh Baby
8. Stereo Radio
9. Ocean View Lane
10. Last Spring

I've never been a huge Lifesavers-type person. My most vivid memory of them is seeing Poplife around the Christian bookstores back in the day. Recently, Michael Knott was on the Frontline Rewind podcast and he played "Heaven High" and I quite enjoyed it, so I decided to check out the album proper. It's pretty good. I guess you would kind of call it surf/pop/punk... I guess. It's pretty light and fun and while I don't come back to it over and over again it's a satisfying listen nonetheless. It's also pretty short at under a half an hour. I burn through the whole thing on the way to and from work.

Useless Fact: The picture on the cover is of St. Clare of Assisi. Her story helped influence the album.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Worldview - "The Chosen Few"

Worldview - The Chosen Few
2015, M24

1. Mortality
2. Illusion of Love
3. Back in Time
4. The Mirror
5. Why?
6. Prisoner of Pain
7. Two Wonders
8. Walk Through Fire
9. The Chosen Few
10. The Last Cry

I put off buying Worldview for quite a while after it came out. I listened to the few songs available and, despite the talent, was that impressed. However, a little bit later I started checking out the album as a whole and discovered I really did like it after all. Worldview is a project of former Deliverance/Recon guitarist George Ochoa and former Sacred Warrior vocalist Rey Perra. It sounds exactly how you might expect. It's metal that's a throwback to the heyday of Christian metal - though the modern production helps fill out the sound. It's really nice to hear Rey Perra singing again. I still don't know why he wasn't on the last Sacred Warrior album. His inclusion really makes Worldview sound a lot more like Sacred Warrior than Waiting in Darkness did. The band puts together some distinctly 80's sounding hooks in songs like "Back in Time" and "Walk Through Fire." This is not a bad thing. There are also some eastern musical influences tracks like "Mortality" and "The Last Cry." Basically, if you're a fan of late 80's/early 90's Christian metal (like I am) then Worldview is right up your alley. If not you can still enjoy Rey Perra's pipes which still sound good after all these years and Ochoa's guitar which is also stellar. So I guess you have no excuse but to buy it.

Useless Fact: Originally Rick Macias, who was the keyboardist for Sacred Warrior was supposed to be involved but tragically passed away before the project got off the ground.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Projects and Plans

Hey everyone! As you might have noticed reviews have slowed down a bit. My goal used to be to do five per month. I'm going to have to slow that down to three. Mostly because the disposable income isn't there for me to just buy CDs with. I know... I'm sad too. There's at least three albums coming out soon that I'll be reviewing: the Leigh Nash solo country album, the new Coheed & Cambria, and the new Queensryche. On deck are Worldview, Lifesavers, and Spock's Beard.

Another reason the blog has slowed down is because I've been working on more Let's Plays. For the uninitiated, a "Let's Play" is a series of videos where someone plays a game and makes commentary as he goes. Visit my You Tube channel - like, comment, and subscribe! I'll be doing this for at least a year, maybe more. Right now I've been posting videos of Monster Part and Vice Project Doom. Watch and enjoy!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Symphony X - "Underworld"

Symphony X - Underworld
2015, Nuclear Blast

1. Overture
2. Nevermore
3. Underworld
4. Without You
5. Kiss of Fire
6. Charon
7. To Hell and Back
8. In My Darkest Hour
9. Run With the Devil
10. Swan Song
11. Legend

So yeah... remember when I bought Iconoclast twice a couple years ago? I've slowly become a Symphony X die-hard - so much so that I pre-ordered Underworld to make sure I'd have it whether or not we had money in the house. Is it the non-stop metal freight train the last album was? No, it's not, but that's okay. This disc is a little more progressive than the last. They've backed off a little on the throttle and let in more of the progressive elements that have been part of the band's sound. There's a little bit more of The Odyssey in here than on Iconoclast. However, they've kept a lot of the "fist in the air" metal from that album, only backing it off enough to let some more melody seep into the songs. What you have is an album that is at once very heavy and progressive, but a times dang near commercial with its hooks. So far, every listen has been a treat and it only gets better with subsequent listens. Underworld will almost certainly make it on my picks of the year list.

Useless Fact: The theme for this album, not surprisingly, is hell. Specifically Dante's vision of it but also it includes the general concept of an underworld as seen in Greek myths.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Freedom of Soul - "Caught in a Land of Time"

Freedom of Soul - Caught in a Land of Time
1991, BAI

1. Freedom of Soul
2. Caught in a Land of Time
3. Runnin'
4. A Touch of Soul
5. Cookin' Bacon
6. Blue Sky Lies
7. Acknowledgements
8. It's On You
9. This Is Love
10. Can't Hold Back
11. Cartoon Goes to Texas
12. Skin Deep
13. January 15
14. Y Don't You Want 2 Play Me
15. Serious Lyrics

So I was listening to Mark Solomon's podcast, like you do, and one of his guests was the main man behind Freedom of Soul. Freedom of Soul was one of those rap groups in the same circle as S.F.C., Dynamic Twins, etc. For some reason I never listened to them. I have no reason for this other than I just didn't ever pick up one of their albums. After listening to the podcast, however, I decided to check them out. It's pretty good stuff. Definitely in line with that group of performers. You hear a lot of Super C and the Twins in the background doing various things. I don't think it's quite as distinctive as some of the other groups of the time, but that might just be me. There are also a couple of skits ("Cookin' Bacon" being my favorite). Even Ben Redeemed, who - if you'll remember - appeared on S.F.C.'s A Saved Man (In the Jungle) as a jackass D.J. makes an appearance. He's a little bit more sympathetic here though and it's actually the performers that kind of come off as whiny... to me anyway.

Useless Fact: Rene Vasquez (the main rapper for the group) spoke on the podcast about how he used to just listen to Gene Eugene talk about things and set things up because Rene would learn so much that way. Rene said that you couldn't really ask Gene a question and get a good answer, you just had to listen and watch while he was doing his thing.

I still kind of miss Gene.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Atomic Opera - "Gospel Cola"

Atomic Opera - Gospel Cola
2000, Metal Blade

1. Jesus Junk
2. October
3. WinterLand
4. Reiah Discerns the Times
5. Malediction
6. My Head
7. Silence
8. Muse
9. Love is as Strong as Death
10. The Circle is Closed
11. Stop My Heart
12. Doxology

I've not heard good things about Atomic Opera's albums after For Madmen Only. Sometimes that doesn't matter and I end up really liking those albums. However, in this case, I have to say...Gospel Cola is... okay. Just okay. It's not terrible but it's not nearly as beautiful and addicting as the debut. One of the problems is that while the guitars are still chunky, they're now kicked to the back of the mix. The guitars was one of my favorite aspects so it's disappointing to see them given the short end of the stick. The other problem is the songs themselves... they're... okay. I like "Jesus Junk," "October," and "My Head" but the rest of them are just alright. Not wonderful, not crap just there. Oh well.

Useless Fact: "Jesus Junk" talks about all the stupid Christian products the Church thinks up to make money. The song mentions Testamints - which I called out as stupid as well when they came out. There's also quotes at the end of the lyrics from "Bad Buddha" which vaguely remind me of the quotes from Wild Sylas Tomkin back in the day.