Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Galactic Cowboys - "At the End of the Day"

Galactic Cowboys - At the End of the Day
1998, Metal Blade

1. Nothing to Say
2. Ants
3. Just Like Me
4. a. Where Do I Say?
5. b. Bright Horizons
6. c. Puppet Show
7. d. Mr. Magnet
8. e. Never Understand
9. f. Ranch On Mars, Part 2 (Set Me Free)
10. g. How Does it Feel?
11. Young Man's Dream
12. Shine
13. The Shape
14. It's Not Over
15. Through
16. At the End of the Day

So what should I find in my CD collection but Galactic Cowboy's At the End of the Day! I didn't even know I still HAD a copy of this album. I found it looking for something different to listen to. Unfortunately, after putting it on my ipod and giving it a spin I found out why I forgot about it. It's not that great. The things I always loved about the Cowboys were a) Ben Huggins' vocals b) great harmonies and c) cool thrash riffs. By this time though Ben was singing lead on fewer and fewer of the songs and the cool metal stuff had fallen by the wayside (for the most part). As a result I don't think their later albums were as original or distinctive as the Sam Taylor era (and Machine Fish) albums and that includes this one. There are a few cool tunes on here, like "Nothing to Say" and "Young Man's Dream" but most of it just slides off my brain like slime on a wall. Sam Taylor may have been a total jackalope, but he did know how to produce a great record.

Useless Fact: Tracks 4-10 are called "The Machine Fish Suite" and detail the band's feelings about their experiences in the music business.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Mustard Seeds - "Red"

The Mustard Seeds - Red
1998, Radio Mafia

1. Sylvia Beams
2. Coming Up Roses
3. Can't Take Me Down
4. Dying
5. Farewell To Andre
6. I'm Okay
7. Alabama Sings
8. Queen of Misery
9. Way of the World
10. Blind
11. Quicksand (Acoustic)

If it ain't broke, don't fix it - just be more awesome. That's probably the thinking that went into making Red. It's exactly what I expect from the album between the self-titled and III. While it's mostly similar to the debut in terms of sound and style you can hear a little bit of the commercial sounds that were present in III. This is not a bad thing. Oh, and I LOVE the acoustic version of "Quicksand." I hope someday the boys do an acoustic "de-plumed" type album because that would be awesome. Honestly, I don't think these guys could make a bad album if they tried. I will say that this disc needs some remastering as it sounds to me like the vocals are pushed back in the mix - a shame for sure. Also, the cover art doesn't do much for me. Minor complaints though, The Mustard Seeds remain one of my new favorite bands and their albums are definitely the top picks for this year.

Useless Fact: There are actually two versions of this album. One with the cover I have and another that has a butterfly on the cover. I think that cover looks better than the one I have. It also has a different end track, called "Hollywood."

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Behold the Kingdom - "The Eyes of the Wicked Will Fail"

Behold the Kingdom - The Eyes of the Wicked Will Fail
2011, Rottweiler

1. We Are Zion (Prayer of the Messiah)
2. Restoration
3. Sown in Dishonor
4. Living Hope
5. El Shaddai
6. The Suffering Servant
7. Cut You Down
8. Prideful Demise
9. Fall of the Philistines
10. The Valley of Elah

I got an email by the head of Rottweiler records want to know if I reviewed CDs. He gave me a digital copy of Behold the Kingdom's The Eyes of the Wicked Will Fail. I'm always nervous when people want to give me CDs to review. The albums on this website are usually things I know I like or have something to say about. I really hate to have to give a bad review for something that somebody's trying to promote. Luckily, I don't have to do that here - but not for the reason you think.

I've never been a fan of deathcore/metalcore. That's what Behold the Kingdom is: hard, heavy, brutal deathcore. I'm still not really a fan so I can't give this album the fair review it deserves. I like the thick, heavy guitars and I do appreciate the bold Christian stance the band takes. However, all the "core" trappings are there, namely disjointed song structure. I NEED to have some coherent structure in my music. It's one of the reason why I don't like bands like Dream Theater that are big on technical wankery but low on hooks. It just seems like "core" bands just bash through a song and don't leave me anything to hang on to. I think my problem is that I'm old. I'm an old man and I just need some good old fashioned verse/chorus/bridge like gramma used to make. Now I realize there are lots of people out there who love this style. If so, you'll probably be amazed at just how heavy Behold the Kingdom is. So yeah - if you're into "core"-type music (or insanely heavy music in general) definitely check these guys out.

Useless Fact: I think these guys are from Ft. Wayne - along with one of my top favorite bands, Grave Robber.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Harmony - "Chapter II: Aftermath"

Harmony - Chapter II: Aftermath
2008, Ulterium/Nightmare

1. Prevail
2. Aftermath
3. Rain
4. Don't Turn Away
5. Kingdom
6. Silently We Fade
7. Inner Peace
8. Weak
9. I Run
10. Hollow Faces
11. End of My Road

I've been selling some of my old video game strategy guides lately and that allowed me to scrape together enough money to buy some new music. Harmony is a band I've heard samples of for awhile now and I've really enjoyed them. I'm pleased to report the album itself is absolutely killer. Harmony play a style of progressive euro-power metal not unlike bands like Balance of Power. I think what struck me first about this band is the vocalist. He reminds me a little of Lance King (from Balance of Power - surprise, surprise) and Stryper's own Michael Sweet. It's been awhile since I've heard vocals of this type executed so well. The other thing I like about this disc is that the keyboards are shoved into the background. Sometimes in this particular genre the keyboards are too "up front." They overpower the riffs rob the songs of their heaviness. Not here, though. Here the keys are just what they should be - garnish. They add a little atmospheric gothic flair to the music allowing the album to showcase its awesome, heavy riffage. Also, hooks galore here. Really good catchy hooks that keep me coming back. In fact, I can't think of anything negative about this disc. It's a great way to kick off the start of the fall season!

Useless Fact: While the album title is "Chapter II," I don't think the bands albums follow any kind of story. That and I don't really know enough about this band to provide a really interesting fact.