Review: Guamskyy – Seven Parallels

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Over the last few years, instrumental releases within the progressive rock/metal genre have been on the rise, and like with everything else, the quality of the releases vary from hit-and-miss to some absolutely amazing gems. Guamskyy, based in Houston, Texas, is a project of Christian San Agustin, a composer and guitarist who has been releasing music for a few years. Seven Parallels is a full-length debut by Guamsky. Scheduled for the December 20th release, it can be said that this album is definitely one of the latest releases to find its place in the AOTY lists for 2016.

Well composed, arranged and wonderfully performed, Seven Parallels is an ambitious piece of largely instrumental prog metal, with more than enough epic ideas to keep a listener engaged and attentive. Suffice to say, there is more than enough of a variety to keep the music from sounding stale or rehashed. Although Agustin’s true calling lies in melody-driven progressive metal guitar, the stylistic curveballs here are fully-realized and sound great. “All In Spite,” the album’s opener, is an excellent example of Agustin’s skill as a multi-faceted composer. And this skill just keeps on improving throughout the nine-track release. “Shellfish” features a guest performance by guitarist Dean Murphy, who performs an engaging solo, adding yet another layer to the already multilayered piece. Song structures seem arranged to cater to a string of individually satisfying moments, as opposed to the ideas all contributing to the overall whole of a composition. Even in the most ambitious progressive rock/metal moments, I tend to look for some of the same qualities found in conventionally good songwriting.

Obviously, much of the spotlight here is placed on Agustin’s prodigious grasp of the electric guitar. Although the album’s djenty side doesn’t stand any bit above what we’ve already heard from that corner of prog metal, Agustin makes himself out to be an absolutely brilliant fusion guitarist, possibly one of the best I’ve heard in recent years. “Hyper Beam” might be my favourite track on the album for this very reason; Agustin’s marriage of keen instrumental wandering and tight melodic passages is gorgeous.

Seven Parallels is an album packed with instrumental inventiveness and technical proficiency. Christian San Agustin excels here both as a composer and musician.

Pre-order ‘Seven Parallels’ on Bandcamp here.

Orchestral Galahad

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Re-released today: Galahad’s orchestral version.

Here’s hoping I’m only one of millions who download this rather–not surprisingly–excellent version of “Empires Never Last,” recorded with a full orchestra.  Very nice.  Very nice, indeed.  These guys never cease to surprise and delight me.

https://galahad1.bandcamp.com/track/empires-never-last-orchestral-version

Muse’s B-Sides and Rarities – A Must Have For Any Muse Fan

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Muse, B-Sides and Rarities2012

Tracks: Disc 1: 1. Coma 2. Jimmy Kane 3. Agitated 4. Twin 5. Host 6. Forced In 7. Do We Need This 8. Pink Ego Box 9. Con-Science 10. Ashamed 11. Yes Please 12. Recess 13. Sober (The Saint Remix) 14. Nishe 15. Nature I 16. Execution Commentary 17. Map Of Your Head 18. Piano Thing 19. Sunburn (Timo Maas Sunstroke Remix) 20. New Born (Paul Oakenfold Perfecto Remix) Disc 2: 1. Shrinking Universe 2. Spiral Static 3. Hyper Chondriac Music 4. Screenager (Live) 5. The Gallery 6. Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want 7. Futurism 8. Shine 9. Cant Take My Eyes Off You 10. Dead Star 11. In Your World 12. The Groove 13. Eternally Missed 14. Fury 15. Crying Shame 16. Easily 17. Glorious 18. Neutron Star Collision (Love Is Forever) 19. Prague 20. Resistance (Tiesto Remix)

81s4ggwbo6l-_sx425_Muse is such a brilliant band that it is hard to imagine them creating anything that isn’t wonderful. Even the controversial (for die-hard fans, at least) The 2nd Law has grown on me – after all, it is a concept album. It should come as no surprise, then, that an album of rare songs and B-sides from Muse is excellent. I didn’t even know this collection of songs existed until our loving founder shared them with us last week. After listening to them, I’m amazed at the sheer number of songs – 40 of them across two discs. What’s even more amazing is the number of songs here that I had never even heard before.

While there are a few remixes, such as “Sober,” “Sunburn” (both originally from Showbiz), “New Born” (Origin of Symmetry), and “Resistance,” as well as a live version of “Screenager,” the vast majority of these songs are rarely heard tunes that never featured on an official album. The first disc largely reminded me of their earlier, more progressive sound, as found on Origin of Symmetry. There are a few others that don’t strike me as being like Muse at all, particularly a few of the remixes. They have a bit of a Dubstep sound that grates on me – I really hate the contemporary party scene and the music that accompanies it. I’m not sure why they decided to have these songs remixed like this, but it is only a few selections from this whole album.

“Neutron Star Collision (Love is Forever)” is definitely my favorite song from the album. It has all the makings of some of the strongest songs in the band’s catalog. Sadly, this song was made for one of those dog-crap awful Twilight movies. The less said about that the better – it is still a great song.

Many of the other songs strike me as being worthy of inclusion on albums such as Origin of Symmetry, Absolution, and Black Holes and Revelations. These songs aren’t as politically motivated as their more widely regarded work, but I believe they stand well with songs like “Hyper Music,” “Falling Away with You,” “Blackout,” “Butterflies and Hurricanes,” and many other overlooked Muse songs. “Piano Thing” (track 18 from disc 1) finds Matt Bellamy at his absolute best on the piano. I wish the band would include interludes like this in their music a lot more than they do. His piano work takes their music to a whole other level.

So, who should check out this collection of B-Sides and Rarities? Certainly any big fan of Muse and definitely fans of their Origin of Symmetry sound. If you can’t tell, that’s my favorite album by them, and it is probably why I find this collection of songs so appealing. I’m amazed that even the songs that few people hear by this band are of such a high quality. This collection could easily stand up against other similar bands’ best albums.