Friday, 26 October 2012

two very quick reviews.....

Blueneck have released an instrumental album, Epilogue, as a soundtrack to a film that doesn't exist !
It is exactly that - a backdrop to put your own visuals to.... Lots of piano and shimmering guitar but you do miss the vocals of the earlier albums. Whilst it worth a listen you won't return to it again and again like the Fallen Host album

(and I think it was probably a film like Aliens they had in mind......)


Biggest disappointment of the year so far is the new Placebo EP - 5 tracks and only one is in any way memorable. The lead of song B3 could well be an outtake from the Battle For The Sun album, and the rest appear to be filler with the exception of I.K.W.Y.L. This is the standout track with a nippy little guitar riff and lyrics straight out of the New Model Army songbook of vengeance. One of their best songs since Nancy Boy

I approach the forthcoming album with caution

What is it with French music - You wait ages and suddenly they're producing bands all over the place (Delusion Squared, Gojira) and now Alcest

Apparently they used to be a black metal band but the album Le Voyage de L'ame shows very little of that heritage. By the sound of it they may have travelled a similar path to Opeth. A lot of the track are long with plenty of instrumental passages. Vocals appear to be in both English and French but are part of the sound rather than standing out for you to dissect the lyrics.

Là où naissent les Couleurs Nouvelles is the one track to feature growled vocals in the background and Faiseurs de Mondes includes some brutal drumming to keep the whole thing interesting.

There are also a lot of Pink Floyd influence with some beautiful chiming guitar lines especially on the extended outro of the album closer Summer's Glory.

This is an eclectic album but one of my favourites so far of the year. Music to immerse yourself in

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Two of the albums I've most been looking forward to this year and neither disappoints...

Firstly the Smoke Fairies have returned with Blood Speaks, their second album.
This album still retains what the press call a "spook folk" feel but with a harder edge than before. Some tracks such as Awake have that ethereal feel they perfected on the debut album but the more guitar driven Feel It Coming Near show their sound palette is still expanding. The harmonies are reserved more for the choruses and it interesting to hear both girls voices to the fore in different places

The outstanding track is The Three Of Us featuring some raw slide guitar and one of the best lyrics they have yet written. The title track Blood Speaks starts at a much more sedate pace over skittering drums before building to a glorious crescendo showing off the harmony vocals to full effect.

An album that shows no shortage of ideas after a stellar debut and still driving forward to further recognition


Secondly Marillion have returned with their 17th (!) studio album, Sounds That Can't be Made and it's a stunning release. Not as sprawling or as unfocused as the last couple of releases, it appears having the stop gap acoustic album was a good idea to allow the creativity more time to flow

I had worries that the band was becoming a vehicle for the singer Steve Hogarth but this is a fully functioning band production. Highlights are many and very few negatives.

The opener Gaza rocks harder than anything since possibly This Strange Engine. It's a complex 17 minutes complete with political lyrics and imagery and some searing guitar soloing from Steve Rothery. It's a bit of a shame that Hogarth feels the need to apologise in the sleevenotes for the lyrics - Stand by your words and defend what you sing
The return of Rothery's guitar is really welcome and can be heard to good effect on the title track and Lucky Man.
The Sky above the Rain is a poignant album closer with soaring peaks of music built around the lyric of a disintegrating relationship.
Album highlight for me is the lengthy Montreal which is just a series of diary entries which somehow ends up as a fascinating set of images of a trip to Canada with the whole band contributing some immense musicianship.

This is simply Marillion's best album since Marbles - a consistent set of brilliant songs