Album Review: Parliament Owls – A Span Is All That We Can Boast

Parliament Owls, a quintet from Canada, have quite a challenge as with any new band playing this stylistically demanding music. They either need to add something exciting and original to the genre, or be so bloody good at delivering captivating rock (that visits quite a few genres) in its conventional form that they stand head and shoulders above the oceans of ordinariness that surround them. While they will not win any awards for innovation, the debut full-length release “A Span Is All That We Can Boast” does in fact rise most convincingly from the latter category, and has enough variation in its six tracks to keep interest levels high.

A Span Is All That We Can Boast

Beginning with “Cocobolo,” Parliament Owls expertly marry the math rock histrionics of The Dillinger Escape Plan to the noise rock sensibilities of Melvins. The band doesn’t joke about with long intros, and like to get on with the business at hand, with only one track clocking at almost seven minutes. This makes for a more urgent and also provides a much more organic feel to the band’s playing.

In addition to The Dillinger Escape Plan and Melvins you can undoubtedly hear the massive influence of Cult of Luna, Mono, Mastodon, Between the Buried and Me, all the major names, but Parliament Owls somehow manage to put a unique stamp on this rather derivative framework.

Parliament Owls have risen far above the sum of their influences, and delivered a very fine rock album. Check it out!

Follow Parliament Owls on Facebook.

Interview: ENCELADUS

Enceladus

Texas-based progressive metallers Enceladus have launched their second album titled “Arrival” a few days ago. In the interview below they tell us about this new release, but also about the metal scene, favorite records, and more.

Hey guys. How are you doing?

Hey there, we’re doing fantastic, thanks for having us!

You have just launched a new album entitled “Arrival.” How do you feel about the release?

Pretty stoked! Releasing music is always fun. I think a sophomore album release is quite a milestone, showing the world that we have a lot more to offer! We added a few new elements to this album, so were excited to see how it’s received.

Enceladus - Arrival

How much of a challenge was to put these songs together?

There wasn’t much of a challenge putting the songs together. Some come together easier than others, however. For instance, Universal Century was written in about an hour. We record the songs in our own time, so we’ve had enough time to let the songs breathe a bit before recording them.

What other artists similar to your genre that are coming from Texas are you friends with?

There are a number of good bands in a similar style coming out of Texas. We know some of the guys in Immortal Guardian, Aeternal Requiem, and Jessikill. I met them all in San Antonio actually. Its good to know there are bands getting that style of metal out there.

What is your opinion about the current metal scene?

The metal scene is great because I always feel like I’m in good company at a show or just talking about music. I feel there should be a wider audience and it should just be bigger overall though. Lets see some shows where just as many people come out for live bands as people do for computers! The more metalheads the better. [laughs] Id like to see more melodic power/prog metal bands coming out of the states as well.

Can you tell me something about your influences?

Any artist that dares to be different and step outside the box is an influence. Innovators inspire more than emulators for sure.

Enceladus (band)

What are you listening to these days?

Quite a few things such as classical, Jrock, video game/cinema compositions, and prog bands. We’ve been jamming some Circus Maximus. In between that there’s some chill groovy stuff to get ‘down’ to as well. 😉

Your 5 favourite records of all the time?

Thats too hard for some of us, but here is a selection at the moment:

1) Angel of Salvation by Galneryus

2) The Divine Wings of Tragedy by Symphony X

3) Destiny by Stratovarius

4) Temple of Shadows by Angra

5) Blue Blood by X Japan

Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear you use to record “Arrival”?

Sure. Its been a pretty simple process. We use Cubase 8 for our DAW / ESP LTD Bass/ ESP LTD and PRS S2 Guitars, then Focusrite Scarlett’s as the recording interfaces.

What can we expect from Enceladus in the near future?

Definitely keep on a lookout! You can expect a style that is constantly evolving and never stagnant. We have enough ideas in the works for a third album and beyond already. Some epic stuff, some chill stuff, and most of all more METAL!

“Arrival” is available from Bandcamp.

Belarusian Progressive Metalcore Act THORNYWAY Launch Kickstarter Campaign

Thornyway

Hailing from Belarus capital Minsk, THORNYWAY is a progressive metalcore four-piece emerged in 2010 whose debut full-length album “Absolution” was launched back in 2014. Almost four years later, the band is ready to unleash their sophomore effort entitled “Awaken,” but they ask your help in achieving their goals with this ambitious project. A Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign was recently launched where THORNYWAY try to raise $5,000 for mixing the album at the Anthropocide Mixing & Mastering Studio.

Speaking about this new material, the band commented: “Awaken’ is expression of our attitude towards Human Nature: Striving, Faith, Love, Forgiveness. The album reflects the events taking place in the modern world. Each listener will find in it something close for themselves. ‘Awaken’ is a logical follow-up to our first album, ‘Absolution,’ which was released in 2014.

All songs on “Awaken” are recorded, and the album is to be delivered to the mixing and mastering studio for further treatment. You can head over to THORNYWAY’s Bandcamp profile to hear their first album which also gives a small hint what can be expected from “Awaken.”

Visit the Kickstarter crowdfunding page and help the band in reaching their goal by contributing and receiving fine perks in return. A video where the band talks about the campaign can be seen below.

THORNYWAY on-line:

Facebook
Bandcamp
Instagram

Review: Heyoka’s Mirror – Loss of Contact with Reality

Heyoka's Mirror - Loss of Contact with Reality

Hailing from Calgary, Alberta in Canada, a progressive metal trio Heyoka’s Mirror has earlier this month launched their debut EP “Loss of Contact with Reality,” available as a name-your-price download and CD from Bandcamp.

“Loss of Contact with Reality” places Heyoka’s Mirror to the art-metal vanguard, but the three-song EP does find the band on surer footing from which to make their next leap forward. The last track in particular, “Chronovisor,” gets surprisingly good mileage from an unlikely source: melodic metal, maybe the least reputable of metal subgenres. It’s the metal niche that has least renounced the campy excesses of new-wave Brit metal a la Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, but it’s also the most melodic, its tell signs being clean-sung harmonies and dramatic synths that tend to blast out from behind the guitars. It turns out the style makes a good segue between the sections of “Chronovisor” that are rooted in math rock and those that are rooted in thrash metal, and the effectiveness with which Heyoka’s Mirror employs those soaring melodies suggests they may yet develop their own mutant pop sensibility.The first two songs are dynamic; they’re also wildly uneven, with very cool ideas alternating, often in rapid succession.

More than anything else, Heyoka’s Mirror is dependent on their ability to generate momentum here, by virtue of which they can keep listeners engaged in these unwieldy but ultimately rewarding compositions. By that standard, “Loss of Contact with Reality” is a success, though its true significance will be determined by how the band capitalizes on that momentum when they come up with their forthcoming full-length.

Death – The Sound of Perseverance

Whether it’s songs like “Cosmic Sea” or “Trapped In A Corner”, Death always traversed a unique musical terrain. Deriving from intricate thrash structures, they took Celtic Frost like blueprint to unprecedented heights – made it more threatening and bleak. But, instead of the more gruesome death metal attributes like blast beats, atonality and deeper growls — Death emphasized coherent structural progression and melody.

‘The Sound of Perseverance’ (1998) is a genuinely dazzling confluence of these early influences and more. It’s well-tailored to quickly envelop a progressive metal disciple or a death metal-head. The record straddles this beautifully complex ground between progressive musical sensibilities and sheer sonic savagery of extreme metal. At the margins of these two demanding genres, Death successfully crafts this exquisite bridge from a Dream Theater to a Morbid Angel. This overall immersive experience can be elegantly summarized in Chuck Schuldiner’s own lyrics: “touch, taste, breathe, consumed”.

DeathSOP-1998.jpg

Widely varying transitions are graceful and numerous. Baffling how an At The Gates like guitar imprint runs into a razor steel Priestly guitars, finally exploding into an Obituary like mid-paced chugging. The good old signature riff-drum pattern of Death is also omnipresent. ‘The Sound of Perseverance’ acknowledges the progressive side to Death, and does that without significant deviations from their death metal roots. Essentially the same old harsh melodic guitar tones, screaming vocals and scathing leads interleaved with intricate passages — but now restructured into a progressive death symphony.

While firmly grounded in thrash roots, over the years, Death pursued a guided musical trajectory of progressive refinement. Emphasizing that crucial New Wave of British Heavy Metal artistry and sophistication – it’s essentially Iron Maiden’s melody reconciled with Hellhammer like brutal force. This constant duality in Death’s composition was always shifting in a progressive direction. So, for the longtime fans, ‘The Sound of Perseverance’ must have been a lot like the very last song from the record – “Open my eyes wide to see a moment of clarity”.

By A Sniper (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Review: Emperor Guillotine – Emperor Guillotine

Emperor Guillotine

Dallas’s Doom Metal upstarts EMPEROR GUILLOTINE have landed firmly within the Metal scene as one of the “newest modern” instrumental bands carrying the torch of the blueprint that BLACK SABBATH created over 40 years ago. In particular, SABBATH‘s first three albums are all over the project’s full-length debut release. From the song structures, the occasional synth noodling and the demonic Blues you cannot mistake the influence.

The project was formed by multi-instrumentalist and sole band member, Ben Randolph. A digital only release, it wets the appetite of every doom metal fan and the excitement for what comes next.

One of the biggest highlights of the record is definitely its production. It is obvious that EMPEROR GUILLOTINE reaching for a retro feel and are heavily influenced by Rodger Bain and his early BLACK SABBATH productions. Randolph achieves it in a very good way. One of the issues with bands going for this type of sound is that usually the bass is mixed too loud and dominates the material. In this case, the bass is audible but it still gives way for the guitar and drums. The guitar has enough gain, it’s powerful and greasy—just as it should be.

The songwriting is as strong; there is plenty here to celebrate. “Sailor on the Seas of Fate,” “Sea of Dust,” “The Oak and the Ram,” “Witch Mountain,” “The Bastille,” and “The Unearthly” are heavy, pounding numbers that represent this release. “Ursa Minor” is a beautiful acoustic piece that connects the “sides.” Its melody is haunting and recalls the atmosphere of 1960s inspired acoustic, folk records.

“Emperor Guillotine” is an excellent introductory release from Randolph. My hope is that the next releases will embrace more of different styles such as folk rock and progressive rock. On their next release they need to instill the confidence that they don’t need to rely so heavily on imitating BLACK SABBATH. Do yourself a favor and check this album out out.

EMPEROR GUILLOTINE is on Facebook.

In Mourning – Afterglow – Album Review

Artist: In Mourning Album Title: Afterglow Label: Agonia Records Date Of Release: 20 May 2016 In Mourning is a name that that have flitted around the very edges of my consciousness for a few years now. ‘Afterglow’ however, takes the Swedish quintet out of my personal periphery and re-positions them at the very forefront of […]

https://manofmuchmetal.wordpress.com/2016/04/22/in-mourning-afterglow-album-review/

Novembre – Ursa – Album Review

Artist: Novembre Album Title: Ursa Label: Peaceville Records Date Of Release: 1 April 2016 This album has proved to be one of the most difficult to write during 2016 so far. And the reason for this is the simple fact that this album has had me torn in two for such a long time. However, […]

https://manofmuchmetal.wordpress.com/2016/03/31/novembre-ursa-album-review/

InnerWish – InnerWish – Album Review

Artist: InnerWish Album Title: InnerWish Label: Ulterium Records Date Of Release: 18 March 2016 I’m going to begin this review by stating that I know nothing of InnerWish. Or at least, I didn’t until I decided to give this album a try having been sent the promo. I mean, it would be rude not to […]

https://manofmuchmetal.wordpress.com/2016/03/12/innerwish-innerwish-album-review/