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Old 04-07-2008, 01:09 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Reviews, outdated now.
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Old 04-07-2008, 03:30 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Obscure Tuesday (I'm aware it's still monday): Leaf Hound: Growers of Mushroom (1971)



Track Listing:
1. Freelance Fiend (3:10)
2. Sad Road to the Sea (4:16)
3. Drowned My Life in Fear (3:00)
4. Work My Body (8:11)
5. Stray (3:48)
6. With a Minute to Go (4:18)
7. Growers of Mushroom (2:17)
8. Stagnant Pool (3:58)
9. Sawdust Ceasar (4:30)
10. It's Going to Get Better (Single B-Side) (3:05)
11. Hip Shaker (3:32)
12. Too Many Rock'n'Roll Times (3:56)

The Album starts of with a bang, a sharp repetitive and overall memorable riff kicks it off, reminiscent of Black Sabbath's debut sped up a few measures. Freelance Fiend set the album up to be a true great. The solos cut a harsh rift through the music that perfectly complements Peter French's vocals that rock, roll and soar throughout the album while still remaining gritty and unpolished. This grittyness is reflected throughout the album with the exception of the drums that place a nice juxtaposition to the rest of the album. The twin guitar work of Mick Halls and Derek Brooks can sometimes be reminiscent of Wishbone Ash, if a bit more edgy and quite a bit less technical. Nevertheless the guitars lack no soul and this truly makes the album a must have for any aspiring guitarist.

The albums first three songs reflect a Zeppelin-esque hard to soft rock transitions with Sad Road to the Sea being far more reflective and sombre, without losing any of it's harsh guitar solos providing a huge basis for the whole album. Growers of Mushroom starts to reach it's full potential as it approaches an early climax with the incredible psychedelic/stoner track Work My Body which lends a very progressive feel to the album. The eight minute epic is short in comparison to a lot of epic tracks from other albums, but it nevertheless has all the hallmarks of a progressive great. Work My Body builds on a guitar solo that progresses throughout the song increasing and decreasing the tempo, sending even the sober mind into a mild stupor. Paralells can be drawn between this and Dazed and Confused but that can be misinterpreted so it's worth only a small mention. The lyrics are some of the strongest on the album while cliche heavy it still works incredibly well with the song. The guitar work simply can't be overlooked and neither can the recurring themes and psychedelic riffs throughout. The song quickly changes in a very progressive manner, synths/hammond taking over from the guitars as they blister through a solo that's simply faded out.

As the fift track Stray begins some of the weaknesses of the album become apparent, all the songs do tend to sound very similar, harsh critics would see this as a huge let down, however there is some variation and as they say, why fix something that aint broken. As an album it does have a very distinctive sound that can be quite easily identified however it is very of its time, of course that's not to say it hasn't aged well, I wouldn't be reviewing it if it hadn't. However, an album like this would simply not be made today, not even by a band of the era, the sound is unmistakably 70's and everything about it is set in the era. What Leaf Hound has done is take something done before, alter it with great effect and perfect it; the result is something entirely different but still very similar.

The ballad With a Minute to Go is an obvious attempt at commercialism however I find it well recieved and quite effective with it's placement in the album, set quite rightfully in between two climaxes. The solo seems the most appropriate to the song, being a lot more in tune with the song, again very Zeppelin-esque vocal style (not pitch), the song draws huge paralells with Ramble On at times. This brings the album to what I believe is the finest moment in the 48 minute long journey, with very spaced out lyrics, the title track simply embodies the drug addled imagry the album conveys. With lyrics such as "nothing was out of places except the floor" and "my life was a beetle that ran down the wall". The song can become uncomfortably intense if listened to twice in a row within the album setting, yet it's not very musically intense. Stagnant pool provides some more excelent guitar passages and a return to the harsh hard rock vocals absent in the title track, providing a highly effective contrast. As the album progresses towards the end four songs we get the reissue songs, with the exception of Hip shaker which was on the original album, however appears nearer the end here.

This is not to say the final few songs are no brilliant, however they may seem a bit out of place in the album setting, the same principle sound is apparant however there are some slight changes in production and guitar work. Sawdust Ceasar provides one of the most psychedelic pieces with a very simple short recurring riff mesmerizing the listener while a drawn out guitar solo distracts you from your slipping mental state. If you truly listen to this album you'll find it as unsettling as music can get without building huge soundscapes and haunting lyrics. The psychedelia is achieved in an incredibly simple way, and that underlines the effectiveness of it. It's Going to Get Better is the second song of the album to feature a far more clean style of vocals in a ballad setting. The song has a sad yet uplifting undertone, it's very layered and ambient which provides yet another contrast to the harsh style of the rest of the songs, if there ever was one for the girls, this is it.

Hip Shaker is unmistakenly from the original recordings, and would fit in better earlier in the album, however poor production really does harm this song and probably led to it's placement at the back. I'm very pleased it's not the last song of the album, because an album of such quality should end on a high, and if there ever was a high, Too Many Rock'n'Roll Times perfectly embodies it. An incredibly sharp 70's riff suprisingly released in 2005 provides a hard rocking, brilliant end to the album.

Unmistakenly set in the 70's this album has aged incredibly well throughout the years and interest in the album throughout reflects this. Noted as one of the most collectible Vinyl LP's ever, it's no wonder considering the quality and excelence of musicianship throughout and newer tracks certainly don't fail to shine either.

If this was a perfect world and I could rate based on pure personal preference I would give this a 10/10 however it's not, and some obvious weaknesses means I can't give this anything more than 8.5/10, nevertheless a brilliant score for a brilliant album. This is a must have for any hard rock/70's fan or guitar player. Fans of Led Zeppelin, Captain Beyond, Free, Foghat, Atomic Rooster and Iron Butterfly will love this.

8.5/10
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Old 04-07-2008, 04:05 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Even I loved this album and I hate Led Zeppelin.
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Old 04-08-2008, 07:18 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Brilliant, I have heard alot about this stoner-rock classic, will check it out
They ****ing knew how to entice you with the artwork back then aswell, you'd buy this stuff from a record fair just on the basis of a cool name and a trippy cover
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Old 04-08-2008, 12:18 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Excellent review. All I have to do is hear it now!
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Old 04-08-2008, 04:25 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Obscure Tuesday (second review): Mountain Ash Band: The Hermit (1975)



Tracklisting:
1. Birth (Narration) (0:59)
2. Birth (4:06)
3. Journey (Narration) (1:23)
4. Journey (7:51)
5. Stone on Stone (Narration) (1:17)
6. Stone on Stone (2:43)
7. A Long Winter (Narration) (1:07)
8. A Long Winter (5:04)
9. Who Knows (Narration) (1:11)
10. Who Knows (4:07)
11. I'll Sing For My Supper (Narration) (1:39)
12. I'll Sing For My Supper (2:29)
13. The Outcast (Narration) (1:17)
14. Rebirth (5:08)
15. Leading Lady and November (5:09)
16. The Patient's Song (3:45)

This is a truly epic and sad tale of a bastard, Job Senior. Starting generally with a narration of story followed by a song expanding the tale, a myriad of musicians and vocalists contribute to the album. Birth sets the scene for a poor bastard however it starts off quite promising for young Joeb. Before I start fully reviewing it, some things have to be said about the album, the sound quality is quite poor for 1975 since the only surfaced rip is from an early Vinyl pressing. Also this album can only be enjoyed truly as a single package, to which you must devote your full attention to the music and lyrics, it's a very lyrically heavy album considering the strong concept of this hermit's life.

Starting quite upbeat, Birth sets the scene for a promising new life, the instruments complement the song well. During the narration there is a nice instrumental passages running in the background. Journey's narration tells of a lonely childhood, and an eventuall descent into the bottle, the song continues the quite upbeat theme as the vocalist sets off on his journey with hope for fortune, honour and fame. The vocals at times can be grating if you're not wanting to commit to the album and the theme may seem corny, so this is definitely not something for a casual listener, which unfortunately may have to count against it. However the instrumentals are enough to keep the background music listeners. And the whole concept theme would of course be very popular with proggers.

Journey gives an interesting insight into Joebs descent to alcoholism featuring a long fiddle passage from Geoff Bowen, after the passage the vocals seem disheartened as Job has realised what he has become. This is incredibly powerful in how it's done, some male/female "harmonies" that bring a very intense ending to the song, I find this to be the first truly strong point of the album. The narration aspects are a truly great bit of the album, it provides a great base onto which the songs can be performed and have a truly great impact. Stone on Stone is a new life for Job, who lists his jobs and then eventually as a dry stone waller. Stone on Stone beams of pride and the performance is truly great, however it is instrumentally a weak point in the albym, providing not atmosphere for the vocals.

A Long Winter has Job becoming an old man of 60, sick and losing his strength, he marries an 80 year old widow, this is an incredibly touching bit of the album as it chronicles the final years of his wife, and the love that they share. This is what firstly sets this album above all other folk albums of the era, obscure or not, the atmospheric potential of the acoustic instruments is finally realised, as is the vocal talent. This album is hard to listen to all the way through for the unusual reason that you might have to get tissues to help your crying. The tale is told in a truly passionate and real way and that has to be the biggest upside.

As a whole the album has very few drawbacks for someone expecting a good folk album that they won't have heard. However, on a lyrical/story point of the album it is practically flawless. Who Knows tells of Job's final descent into a true hermit, with his estate possessions illegaly taken off him after his wife's death. This continues the sad and emotional themes of the latter parts of the album.

As far as the concept of the album is concerned it is more a choice selection of the most important parts of Job's life, yet these highlights still manage to paint an incredibly good picture of the subject. The final true chapter of the story is I'll Sing For My Supper, this provides a final closure on Job's last years as an entertainer, who can sing in perfect pitch in four voices. I'll Sing provides a lovely upbeat final ending song to the story before the final narration the Outcast.

The final three songs provide closure for the rest of the album, an a sombre lush ending.

The Hermit is a true forgotten gem, however that is a bit of an understatement, Mountain Ash Band never got much reckognition for the album at all and it's a small miracle that the album surived so many years before finally emerging on the internet. The album has some drawbacks relating to accessibility and it can be very hard to get into for the casual listener. Overall there is no true spectacular instrumental passages, nothing will make you go "wow" here, however each instrument contributes effectively to the song and some incredible passages and atmospheres can be found throughout the album. It is by all rights the telling of a story and the score should reflect that.

The story is powerful and the vocals play their part well. This has been an incredibly hard album to review because of the manner of how it plays out and how the combined effort is just so much more important than the single bits. For an imperfect album it does a lot, and for that reason it deserves a strong 8/10.

8.0/10
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Old 04-08-2008, 08:45 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Bravo. This is a part of my catalog that is surely lacking.
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Old 04-08-2008, 10:25 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Sounds like a really time-consuming album...Perhaps you could send another round of PM's?
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Old 04-09-2008, 07:58 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Eiliff: Eiliff (1971)



Tracklist:
1. Byrd-Night Of The Seventh Day (5:05)
2. Gammeloni (6:43)
3. Uzzek Of Rigel IV (10:53)
4. Suite (20:38)

Starting off in true prog fashion with unusual instruments and generally spacey themes Eiliff sets the scene for yet another underlooked prog epic. Vocals aren't exactly brilliant so we'll thank our lucky stars they're only on very briefly in one track, that being said they're better than a lot of the sh!te around today. Byrd-Night starts the album off in an incredibly off-hand whimsical fashion and this generally will reflect the theme throughout the album. Lovely lush soundscapes are created by various instruments and effects, however they're build up only to be torn down again in a nearly frustrating circle that eventually hightens the enjoyment of the clean pieces. Psychedelic synth solos built on very repetitive short riffs seem to set the tune for a nice trip into the prog underworld. If you lose focus for just a few seconds you may forget that it's actually music you're listening to, that can be a good or a bad thing depending on how you feel about it.

Gammeloni is a lovely energetic piece that is quite reminiscent of a lot of Frank Zappa's pre-70's instrumental work. With a continuing shifting focus on one or two instruments with a lot of different solos the music entices you without managing to build to a true climax. This being said most passages are incredibly satisying nevertheless and I can only see them getting more enjoyable with every listen. The production on the drums is very good however I would like to hear the bass a bit clearer because there's some lovely work there. The sax solo on Gammeloni can also draw some paralells to King Crimson's Lizard which in my book is certainly a huge bonus to any fusion album. Now after being teased for a good 5 minutes (10 if you count Byrd-Night) you get a proper climax as the guitar solo kicks in, it's short but oh so sweet.

Oh dear the vocals have returned, not to worry it's not as bad as I'm making it out to be, but for a band generally referred to as instrumental it's got quite a bit of singing in it. Nevertheless this is immediately redeemed by some wonderful bass and guitar work. As you'll have noticed in the tracklisting the songs get progressively longer and at an average of over 10 minutes per track this isn't really something for last.fm whores or people with small attention spans. That's not to say Eiliff don't get straight to the point. A huge bonus about these songs are they don't mess about too much, the songs are this long because that's how long they need to be, not because the band wanted to create long songs. Uzzek of Rigel IV is a truly spacey journey into psychedelic/fusion soundscapes without becoming overly ambient (if at all) the band achieves some lovely melodies and catchy passages. The guitar work is instantly satisfying while some of the other instruments take awhile to fully appreciate.

If I were to change anything about this album it would certainly be to add more guitar solos like the one on the middle of Uzzek, as long as it may be already it's simply too good to end. Then again a fundamental drawback of the LP was the length restrictions on the album itself. A huge credit to the album is that despite the average song length it really doesn't ever become boring or tedius, you'll always be wanting more when it's over. And when you do come back to it, probably right after the first listen it will be oh so much more satisfying than the first, many of the hidden melodies will become apparant and as you start to become more familiar, it will becme even better. Never one for traditional endings the 6-7 ish minute long guitar solo in Uzzek ends sharply with a simple fading out leaving you wondering where the **** your time just dissapeared but also wanting a more bombastic end to the song. However this can't really be a weakness considering it sets you up perfectly for the album's epic appropriately entitled Suite.

Starting with a very In The Court style riff oozing with all sorts of influences Suite is instantly satisfying, more upbeat than the rest of the album it's attack after attack of brilliant solos and passages. Despite all these brilliant pieces, surpisingly the whole is still more than the sum of its parts and that's another great attribute. For progheads this album will be a true gem as you can play "spot the influence" on a lot of the riffs and solos however it never ever comes across as ripping off anything. The album does sound very much like you would expect from a prog/fusion album however it's still incredibly fresh and original for anyone who hasn't heard it and it never comes off as stale. Having aged a lot better than a lot of the fusion work of the time will certainly count very postively towards it's score. The epic Suite has some delightful passages leading towards the middle, with a lot of more eastern melodies becoming apparant and even moreso with the introduction of the sitar towards the middle of the song.

When I hear a sitar played by a modern rock band I normally frown with distaste however this is done beautifully, I know most people wouldn't regard a 1971 release to be modern but then again I'm not most people. In this case the sitar is used beautifully and to great effect within the song as it has been beautifully built up and introduced. The latter stages of Suite tend to be even more upbeat and it works beautiful with some lovely hammond work and driving bass lines and it all proves incredibly entertaining. The drumwork can tend to be overlooked however it certainly does deserve a mention as it perfectly keeps everything together and provides some incredible introduction and backing to a lot of the album. The melodies contained in this album can't but help to put a smile on my face and it's certainly a welcome change from a lot of the clinical work of other prog artists.

Eiliff does everything a prog/fusion fan wants and more, there's some lovely melodies, some great instrumental work and undeniably some very satisfying music as a whole. It's hard putting a score to it, because it's better than The Hermit, however I enjoy the hermit a lot more, in a more perfect world I'd be able to give them a lot higher ratings but I wouldn't be comfortable with fudging the scores. Eiliff deserves a good score, and my rating will reflect that. And like the album, let's go out with a bang. This is a must have!

8.3/10
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Old 04-11-2008, 09:01 AM   #10 (permalink)
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New Release: Trinacria: Travel Now Journey Infinitely (2008)



1. Turn-away (9:13)
2. The silence (7:40)
3. Make no mistake (6:20)
4. Endless roads (9:59)
5. Breach (4:36)
6. Travel now journey infinitely (9:22)

Touted as noise metal this collaboration between members of Enslaved, Fe-Mail and Emmerhoff starts off with a slow, haunting track with a very slow developing metal riff. Turn-Away has a certain epic feel about it however there's something truly lacking, it doesn't have the confidence of Enslaved and lacks any true power, nevertheless it's still quite enjoyable for what it is. The vocals are incredible, half death half black they really redeem the song much the same way as the lovely sounding guitars. The repetitive riffs and whispering really does build the song up increasing intensity with each chord. The song however remains quite simple despite all the input and I feel this could be it's downfall. While I'm not a fan of the overproduced certain metal albums like this could certainly do with a lot more production, by the end of the song however this is fully utilised and it turns out to be quite a powerful opener, by no means perfect, but certainly powerful.

Most metal fans will find this boring, but some doom metal fans will approve of the slow tempo, personally I find this release very refreshing as it's something I've certainly never heard before. The opening track however is very reminiscent of parts of Goblin's masterpiece Suspiria. The second track The Silence is unfortunately not silent however false advertising aside it is a lot worse than the first. Tinny badly recorded drums and an overload of noise music with an uninspirational riff makes the track seem incredibly disjointed, noise fans will however probably like this track the best. It half redeems itself towards the middle of the song, an early climax proves itself to be more intense than any moment in the first song. And some lovely guitars complement the clean whispered vocals after the climax. Some nice, if unoriginal riffs start filling the song and it's incredibly satisfying, the harsh vocals are about as grim and frostbitten as you can get. However everytime you get the metal elements you will get the strong urge to turn it off and go listen to enslaved instead.

Metalheads will eventually get incredibly frustrated feeling it needs to be a lot heavier. Make No Mistake is aptly titled, we'll certainly not make the mistake of thinking this is another enslaved album... however hard it tries. The song includes some of the fastests passages in the album and it is quite refreshing after the rather slow start, it's also quite heavy while never getting truly to black metal standards. The drums start to really grate at points by now and I just can't see why, enslaved's drum work is usually some of the best out there. Make no mistake is one of the more all out metal songs on the album, however it's not entirely free from the noise element, always working overtime in the background. All that being said the crescendo is incredibly satisfying.

I'm reviewing this on my second listen for various reasons, while a lot of metal of this sort takes awhile to get into, once I did get properly into it I would be unfairly biased. Reviewing such albums while they are still fresh in your mind is generally the best way. Endless Roads follows the pattern used by the early tracks of a slow building song working on quite repetitive patterns. The vocals are some of the best I've heard in awhile and it is a huge strongpoint to the album. Of course if you don't like harsh vocals, I would advise you to stay away. Endless roads is very representitive of the album, slow building but eventually satisfying. Parts of me would call this album incredibly fresh but other parts would say I've heard it all before, yet it still manages to remain incredibly intense and evoke feelings of great discomfort at times.

The guitarist in me knows it's a very simple riff but it also feels that the intro to Breach is amazing, the guitars sound sharp and it's just a lovely sound. All deviations are appropriate and welcome and the atmosphere built around them is outstanding, certainly a highpoint to the album. A lot of opinions on Travel Now Journey Infinetly as a whole have tended to feel that it can be boring at times, this is something I truly cannot agree with, even during the slow building noise bits I've never been bored, there's always something new and that is also quite a big plus to the album. Again the vocals shine and the black metal fan in me rejoices.

The title track sets itself up well and provides an appropriately strong end to the album. The female vocals are a truly great addition, while used simply as an instruments they provide huge contrast to the harsh metal vocals and add a strong element of unmistakable beauty to the song. By the last few minutes the whole album as a whole has had a profound effect on my mental state, and I'm beginning to feel very loopy. The strength of the music is unmistakably rewarding and the score should reflect that. I will be hard pressed to give this anything over 7, while that might not sound too high my system of rating is quite a bit different to others. A standard good album will be getting on average about a 5-6. Anything over 5-6 every point is worth quite a lot. And the albums I have reviewed so far, that given any other standard would be getting 9.5-10/10 reflect that.

Solid album, has some obvious drawbacks, I'd rather listen to Enslaved, but despite all this, it's incredibly deserving of...

6.9/10
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