Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Amon Amarth - "Deceiver of the Gods"

Amon Amarth - Deceiver of the Gods
2013, Metal Blade

1. Deceiver of the Gods
2. As Loke Falls
3. Father of the Wolf
4. Shape Shifter
5. Under Siege
6. Blood Eagle
7. We Shall Destroy
8. Hel
9. Coming of the Tide
10. Warriors of the North

Hey kids! Did you like the movie Thor? Would you like to hear an album about it? Actually, that's not really fair. Amon Amarth have been doing death metal about Norse gods for years before the movie. I heard one of their better known songs, "Cry of the Black Bird," a long time ago but it never did anything for me. So motivated me to buy this? Um... I blame the cover. It's cool. Also, it was cheap and I didn't have money to buy any of the new Daniel Amos stuff. As luck would have it, I quite enjoy Deceiver of the Gods. It's got growly vocals aplenty but it also has a lot of melody and NWOBHM sensibility. It makes the songs a lot more interesting as they're not all about blast beats and downtuned noise. In fact, quite a few of these songs are catchy indeed. As I understand it this album marks an evolution of the band's sound. I'm not sure how long time fans would react, but I love this stuff.

Useless Fact: Amon Amarth comes from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. It's the Sindarin (his made up elf language) word for Mount Doom.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Music Musings: Concerts and Such

Despite the fact that I love music, I don't actually like concerts that much. I agree with Uvulapie when he wrote, "I don't really care for live music (too uncontrolled and often disappoints compared to a carefully crafted studio album)." I think we actually are brothers somehow. Anyway, I don't like concerts for much the same reason. It's way too loud and, being an introvert, I don't really like being jostled around by people I don't know. I'd rather watch a concert on television or maybe a coffee house. I prefer unplugged shows like VH1's Storytellers where you get up close and personal.

There's also another kind of weird reason that's going to sound really religious. I think concerts, in essence, are worship services for the artist. Think about it: the band is up on stage - your entire being is focused on just how awesome and wonderful that band is. Is that not worship? Now I'm not saying you can't go to concerts or anything. But for me they have that dynamic. That's why I prefer smaller shows. They feel more relational. Instead of basking in the artists glory, they're sharing their hearts and fellow-shipping with us. Again, it's just a personal thing for me. 

Now I'm going to totally copy Uvulapie and see if I can list all the concerts I've been to. Keep in mind that my town did not have a music scene at all so Kingdom Bound was the mainstay of my concert experience. Though, as I've said before, my mom and aunt drove us all around God's green earth to go to concerts too.

Kingdom Bound 1990
- Carman
- Sacred Warrior

Kingdom Bound 1991
- Whitecross
- Petra

Kingdom Bound 1992
- Bride
- The Choir
- Rachel Rachel
- Scary Cats
- Sacred Warrior
- Novella

Kingdom Bound 1993

I don't remember actually going to any concerts this year. I did catch the end of Bloodgood's final show. Had I been a wiser lad I probably would have been at that show. This is the year they moved the alternative/metal stage. They also used the brand new Performing Arts center for the big concerts.

Kingdom Bound 1994
- The Lost Dogs
- The 77's
- Dakoda Motor Mo.
- Sixpence None the Richer
- Phil Keaggy

Kingdom Bound 1995
- Bride
- Johnny Q Public
- Supertones

Kingdom Bound 1996

I  think MxPx was scheduled to play but got rained out. My memory's a bit muddled for the 95/96 era. 

Let's see, now for regular concerts:

1990 - Michael Peace - some church near our town
1990 - Some band called Fortress
1991 - Whitecross and Sardonyx - In The Kingdom tour (some school in Pennsylvania)
1991 - Holy Soldier - Last Train tour (A different school in Pennsylvania)
1991 - Seraiah - Seraiah tour (Same school as Holy Soldier)
1991 - Michael Peace (At our church)
1992 - Carman - Addicted to Jesus tour (War Memorial - Rochester, NY)
1992 - Michael Peace (at Southside High School in my hometown) My cousin and some friends for youth group opened up for him under the name C.F.C.
1992 - Ray Boltz - Moments for the Heart?? (Don't remember where)
1993 - Carman - The Standard tour (War Memorial - Rochester, NY)
1993 - Newsboys at Eastern Nazarene College (Didn't actually watch the concert, I hung out outside and talked to people.
1994- Newsboys (I didn't actually watch the concert either, I chilled outside with my girlfriend at the time)
???? - Mark Lowry (Clemens Center in my very own hometown!)
???? - Alvin Slaughter (Faith Temple in Rochester, NY)
2005 - Emery - The Question tour (The Social in Orlando, FL) Gym Class Heroes opened up for this one or the Flyleaf concert. My wife and I go to see them before they blew up on the radio.
2006- Flyleaf - Debut album tour (The Social in Orlando, FL)

That's all I can think of for now. I'll update it as I remember stuff.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Vanden Plas - "Beyond Daylight"

Vanden Plas - Beyond Daylight
2004, Inside Out

1. Night Walker
2. Cold Wind
3. Scarlet Flower Fields
4. Healing Tree
5. End of All Days
6. Free the Fire
7. Can You Hear Me?
8. Phoenix
9. Beyond Daylight

Beyond Daylight is the kind of album I was hoping The Seraphic Clockwork would be. Since it's before the phenomenal Christ 0, the band isn't so focused on Broadway trappings but riffs and songs. As a result it's a fun listen - full of hooks with just enough of that theatricality to make it interesting. A couple songs, "Healing Tree" and "Can You Hear Me?", are... dare I say, radio friendly. Imagine my surprise. The story is sort of abstract. It's about an oracle who can influence events or something. I didn't even know there was a concept while I was listening. Some might point out that the band (at this point in their career) is copying Dream Theater's template, and they are to some extent. But who cares? As long as the music is good I'm there.

Useless Fact: Oh, I guess the oracle's name is Killroy Murdoch

The Flower Kings - "The Rainmaker"

The Flower Kings - The Rainmaker
2001, Inside Out

1. Last Minute on Earth
2. World Without a Heart
3. Road to Sanctuary
4. The Rainmaker
5. City of Angels
6. Elaine
7. Thru the Walls
8. Sword of God
9. Blessing of a Smile
10. Red Alert
11. Serious Dreamers

I had no idea what to expect when I started listening to The Flower Kings. I'd heard of them before but never given them a listen. Most of the reviews of this disc say it's one of their weaker ones. Figures, I'd love it. It's good progressive rock but whereas most of the progressive stuff I usually listen to is rooted in metal, this is more rooted in 70's prog-rock bands like Yes, Genesis, and Pink Floyd. Of course there's the crazy virtuoso playing, but there's also a good sense of melody too. The vocalist definitely has a bit of a Roger Waters sound to him. Some of the softer guitar parts almost sound like the music they use to play on the Weather Channel when the local forecast popped up. Oh... that's a good thing. I always liked that guitar stuff, oddly enough. "City of God" is particularly 70's-ish, but again, in a good way. A way that makes me vaguely nostalgic. The Rainmaker is definitely a solid progressive rock album and I'm looking forward to diving into some of their other stuff.

Useless Fact: I don't really know this band well enough to tell you anything interesting.