Album Review: The Earth and I – The Candleman

The Earth and I

New Yorkers The Earth and I are a new name on the progressive metal scene, and The Candleman is their debut album. This seven-track release really injects a breath of fresh air into the genre, mostly due to clean vocals of charismatic singer Kendyle Wolven. Mixing female vocals with prog metal / djent is not a new thing, but The Earth and I rise above other contemporary acts.

The Candleman

After a one-minute instrumental and atmospheric intro “The Lake Under the Desert,” The Candleman continues with “CGMTC (Life in the Sunset Zone)” which leaves a gashing mark on your ears. Very refreshing, the energy is genuinely vivid. Lots of double bass, djent riffing, excellent vocals; the group could not have chosen a perfect track to begin this ravenous journey. “Little Frames” brings very carnivourous riffage, unforgiving vocals, backed by a Periphery ambience. Overall, a bolstering chapter in the album. A personal favorite, “And Now for a Slight Departure,” is a wonderful melodic tune carried with Wolven’s voice. A thunderous foundation lures the listener deeper into an unholy light. Keeping things true and prog, this is about as direct as the album gets.

The Candleman promises to bring forth a dark and discarnate attitude. With extremely well executed instrumentals that push the adrenaline factor into the senses, the album will capture and ensnare the listener and bring them down to ecstatic sinister bliss. While that is said and done, more solos could have been implemented, but this is just personal preference. Once you set foot into The Candleman it will be virtually impossible to leave/escape. Consider yourself warned.

The Candleman is out now; get it from Bandcamp.

Avenged Sevenfold Cover “Wish You Were Here”

This is a pretty remarkable cover of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.” I presume Avenged Sevenfold chose to do this as a tribute to their late drummer, Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan. It seems the band move ever closer to progressive rock – Prog magazine even did a spread on them earlier this year.

Hunted

Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and the remaining doom metal bells and whistles are obvious. But, Khemmis goes further, and shapes a melody built on mystical and sorrowful passages. Every aspect, including the distressing vocals is tailored to accentuate these very qualities.

Doom metal is a constrained and a well explored area populated with numerous Scandinavian and North American greats. In the past 30-40 years, they have managed to excavate all the darkest corners in this genre. But, Khemmis, quite confidently introduce sharp magical qualities to these stagnant waters. With an equally engaging Artwork, Hunted makes a compelling case for a brand new variant of old school doom.

By Benjamin Hutcherson (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

What’s The Buzz About General Fuzz?

As I’ve gotten older, I find myself enjoying instrumental/ambient/space music more and more. These chaotic and ever-accelerating times lend themselves to a musical genre that encourages reflection and relaxation.

In earlier posts, I brought to our faithful readers’ attention the wonderful music of Kevin Keller and CFCF. In this one, I want to showcase another outstanding artist working in the “Downtempo” realm of music: General Fuzz. The musical brainchild of composer James Kirsch, General Fuzz has released 7 albums, and you can download them all for free (yes, FREE. He explains the motives behind his generosity here) at his website. I started at the beginning with 2002’s eponymous General Fuzz album, and I’m slowly working my way through to his latest, 2014’s Oughta See. The problem is, every album is such a beautiful gem of contemplative melodies that I can’t leave one for the next. However, if your curiosity is piqued and don’t know where to start, let me suggest checking out Kirsch’s 2008 masterpiece, Soulful Filling. Here’s my favorite track from that collection:

Kirsch’s music is carefully constructed to seduce the listener with perfectly arranged musical miniatures that avoid being saccharine. In other words, I was immediately attracted to his music, I have listened to it repeatedly, and I have yet to tire of it. I keep finding new and delightful details in each hearing. Here’s how he explains it in his own words:

Unless your music is simple and poppy, or incredibly accessible, most people won’t be able to make sense of it on first listen, and consequently not return for a second listen. I can not approach my own music with fresh ears – I’m intimate with every second of it. It’s great to have someone who’s not a huge music fan listen to my music before I release it to gauge how most people will receive it. It has previously helped shape the ordering of  tracks on an album. Accessible music will always be more popular than complex music.

I’ve learned that it often takes many listens for people to start really enjoying my music. My favorite story is of a co-worker who’s cd player broke with my cd in it, so they had to listen to it all day on repeat. The next day he told me never to stop writing music.

James Kirsch is attempting something courageous in these days of a collapsing music industry: he is producing extraordinary music and giving it away – trusting that those who “get it” and enjoy it will respond with donations. I hope his experiment is successful – we need more composers of his caliber thriving in today’s music scene.