Saturday, October 3, 2015

Electric Red - Celestial Wizardry ~ Magical Astronomy (2015)

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Touhou metal is far enough off the beaten path, but should you desire to venture outside of metal norms, Electric Red has you covered with its Celestial Wizardry ~ Magical Astronomy EP, a 25-minute epic built around eight arrangements. At first, the music can seem overwhelming, but there's no denying that it has an otherworldliness to it as it cycles between power/progressive metal and softer passages. The trick up the one-man project's sleeve is that, as songwriting breathes and flows freely, repetition is kept to a minimum. A winding adventure is a better way to put it.

More or less, the sheer volume of ideas is Electric Red's strength, as is, generally, how the music is arranged. It's nearly impossible to tell where the song would divide into eight arrangements, so the track plays seamlessly from start to finish. Just as Electric Red intended, the EP is a sprawling, complex arrangement in its entirety--and, at the very least, takes five listens to sink in. There's always a new piece to discover under the layers upon layers of sound, and only near the middle does the chunky progressiveness manifest itself when the guitars split into multi-note riffs and drums provide muscular backing. A real treat, too, is listening to the synths take over the leading melody from the rest of the music--they complete the progressive package with their liquid-like tone and add a dash of genre familiarity to the track.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Unlucky Morpheus - Vampir (2015)

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With Light Bringer's dissolution, Fuki Tenge needed an outlet to channel her creative energy into full time. And what a choice she made: Unlucky Morpheus, a group that started by rearranging Touhou tunes, only to later compose completely original music. The act's 2015 release, Vampir, is the second installment in their renaissance writing original music, but like its predecessor, the record is a massive entry in the power metal field and an important one at that. What makes it important is simple: the music is well written while combining elements of metal and classical music. Power metal is indeed the dominating sound, but bits and pieces of death metal, melodic death metal, and classical music also surface in the mix.

Because of the mix of styles, Unlucky Morpheus has often been described as neoclassical power metal, most notably with their first original album, Affected. Affected came to fruition in 2014, while Vampir came a year later, bearing uncanny similarities and production aesthetics. Both are comparable and unmistakably Unlucky Morpheus, so it's not unreasonable to surmise that the music was conceived in the same writing sessions.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Iron Maiden - The Book of Souls (2015)

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When Iron Maiden unveiled The Book of Souls' first single, "Speed of Light," in August, disappointment set in faster than the (get ready for it) fucking speed of light. The song felt tired and lazy; the riffs generic and the writing completely typical of contemporary Iron Maiden rockers. Feelings of "where is the metallic guitar playing?" set in, making this reviewer curious about the direction the band intended to go in for the rest of the album.

Upon the record's release earlier this month, first listens weren't particularly promising. The Book of Souls was no Brave New World or Dance of Death. It didn't even match A Matter of Life and Death, which was a step back from those two, and it fell at the feet of The Final Frontier, which was a collection of music lacking writing prowess and attentiveness.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Demetori - 愧人贖悪 ~ Evil People as the True Object of Salvation ~ (2015)

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In late 2013, Demetori quietly released Le Grimoire De Reve, an album fans claimed was a vast improvement over Begierde Des Zauberer and, more importantly, a return to form. I, however, personally found the record a step behind Begierde Des Zauberer, though it was classical Demetori, but still praised the band for playing it safe. For 2015, the two-piece has done very much the same with Evil People as the True Subject of Salvation, but the quality is step above Le Grimoire De Reve, with their always-improving chops and knack for melody being the main driving force behind each song.

What elevates Evil People as the True Subject of Salvation above Le Grimoire De Reve is a question to consider when making your way through the record. Stylistically, the album is Demetori through and through--there are no surprises and the two-piece sticks to the same writing process in place since their inception. Where differences become apparent, however, is in the arrangement process. Although I'm wholly ignorant of Touhou, the video game series Demetori compositions are based upon, I can tell many of these tracks are similar to songs the two-piece has arranged across previous albums. Nevertheless, the difference is that attention to detail is higher, with stickier melodies and a balance of rhythmic aerobatics from Kyuhouji's drumming. Tracks like "Counter-Clock World" are absolutely punishing in how they pummel you with a combination of galloping riffs and speedy percussion, while "Grief of Ressentiment" sits at the opposite of the spectrum with a slower, though emotionally crushing, tempos and instrumentation. And, for what it lacks in English proficiency, "Flow My Tears, the Said" makes up for the shortcoming by being the most memorable of the record and a career slam dunk for Demetori.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

New Vreid Track Streaming: "Haust"

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Happy September 1st, mothers. To celebrate, one of my favorite groups, Vreid, has dropped a new track for us to sink our teeth into. Word on the street says that it steps back to Windir days and moves away from the rocking melodicsim Vreid has been known for in recent years. I don't necessarily disagree, but I think it subscribes to a combo of both, which makes Vreid, well, Vreid.

Either way, it's killer, and I expect another year-topping album from these Norwegians. I had the pleasure of being on the guest list for one of their shows a few years ago, and they're truly a class act, who write captivating, immersive music.

Can't wait for this one. Too bad I'm not on the promo list.