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Mindpatrol – Vulture City


I figured I’d end the year the way I started it: with a review of a local band. There is, to my knowledge, no band in Luxembourg that is as productive as Mindpatrol, since they are about to release their third full length in more or less five years. They stick to their concept album approach and this time around they are taking us to Vulture City, a drug infested dystopian setting! Are you ready to take the trip with me?

I realize that I’m sounding like a broken record here, since I said the exact same thing last time around, but the sextet continues to evolve in remarkable ways. Their sound has become a little more concise, settling comfortably in, what I would consider, progressive death metal and the band seems to know exactly what works, and what doesn’t. The result is a fifty-one minute journey that is jam-packed with memorable riffs and impressive drum patterns. Fun fact: this is the first time that the drums were actually recorded and not created on the computer…and can definitely be heard and felt!

The other factor where Mindpatrol really stand out, to me, is their songwriting, which I would rank among the best in the country. It is one of my main critiques I have with local bands especially, since most of them are fairly solid musicians, but the songs rarely have that extra little something that makes them stand out. While not every single one of these ten songs has “hit potential”, the vast majority is truly well-written and has a nice flow to it. Solos complement the riffs superbly, a good example being toward the end of He, Summoned By The Needle, and small, almost hidden, details like subtle licks every now and then really add a ton of depth. The ensemble is rounded off by a truly massive production quality, that makes every note shine even more!

On the predecessor, one major selling point was the fact that the weakest part of the debut album, the clean vocals, was completely scrapped and replaced by shouted vocals. Ironically enough, I am happy to say that the cleans have found their way back into the fold. Having taken the negative comments to heart, the vocalist decided to completely start from scratch and improve his technique to bring a fresh wind to the mix…and it worked! While he won’t be singing acapella at weddings quite yet, it is a real joy to hear the vast improvement and makes me excited for what is yet to come. I won’t spoil any of the story, but I would consider it the most original and risqué one to date.

What can I say? Vulture City is a major step forward for Mindpatrol and I am convinced that it will appeal to a fairly wide audience, if given the right exposure. To get an idea of what I mean, just check out the brilliantly filmed and edited music video to Her Dire Sacrifice below, and I dare you to not hum that intro along after you’re done listening to the song. The band is putting on a really cool release show this Saturday, December 9th, at Kulturfabrik in Esch, so make sure to swing your behind over there and in the meantime visit their Facebook page for more info.

At this point I’d like to thank you for another year of El Gore and you’ll read me again in a few weeks with my annual Top Ten!

Icarus The Owl – Rearm Circuits


As the year is coming to an end, the window for good albums to be released is also slowly closing. Luckily my, hands down, favorite label at the moment decided to slate one last release from their catalogue in 2017: Icarus The Owl’s fifth full length, Rearm Circuits, is being released on December 1st and I had the privilege to dive into it ahead of time. You can read my thoughts below.

It won’t come as a surprise that the Blue Swan Records-signed quartet plays post-hardcore, but I might put you in disbelief if I tell you that they are wandering a fine line between that genre and radio pop. Did I just hear an eyeroll? Don’t, and bear with me for a second here. The beauty about ITO’s blend of styles is that they manage to create a soundscape that sounds very real and honest, since everything is played on instruments, but their knack for melodies and super catchy hooks is just beyond this world.

However, technique and intricacy is not sacrificed for said catchiness: every instrument shines and especially the guitars are a tapping extravaganza on one hand and a perfect mix of riffing and chord progressions on the other hand. That doesn’t mean that the drums don’t offer a solid foundation, because they absolutely do! There are some songs among these twelve songs where the drum patterns and fills stand out more, but in general they serve the song, rather than showing off.

The one thing that really ties these forty-seven minutes together, beside the stellar songwriting, are the vocals, which add another layer of melody to the mix. I remember when I first discovered the band, I had a few initial difficulties to get past the singer’s voice, since it has a slightly nasal and whiny quality to it, but it grows on you really quickly. I also really dig his lyricism, which has a very, for lack of a better word, dramatic and grand feel to it, with analogies and images all throughout.

To sum things up: Rearm Circuits is a phenomenal entry into both Icarus The Owl’s and Blue Swan Records catalogue, and, for me, it blows its predecessor out of the water. You should check out the song below to give you a good idea of what awaits you, and also has a super cool music video! More info can be found on the band’s Facebook page and I hope you’ll have as much fun with this one as I did!

Tardis – Machines Are Talking Behind Your Back


“Indie rock with heart” – that is the tagline of today’s band, and I couldn’t agree more. In a genre that seems to spawn so many new bands on a regular basis, it’s difficult to stand out, but at least for me Tardis managed to do just that with their debut album Machines Are Talking Behind Your Back. Read on if you want to know how they did it.

The quartet is comprised of members of various French rock bands, Sliver, Brainwashed and Victis to be precise, who decided that they wanted a change of pace and a different platform to express their creativity. After releasing an initial one-man-recorded demo in mid 2016 and playing several gigs in and around France, the band entered the studio to track these twelve songs. The result is a record that is filled to the brim with goodness, where every note struck and every chord strummed has a sense of purpose.

While the music of a band is, or should be, always the core upon which you should decide your affinity towards them, Tardis deserve a standing ovation for one other very important thing: presentation. The name of the Frenchies might ring a bell for some, since it’s the time machine in Doctor Who, and it comes as no surprise that a lot of the social media presence is just as geeky and chock full of nods to old TV show and movies. The same goes for the album artwork, which is crafted with a ton of love and a blast to look for small details.

The other thing that differentiates the band from the majority of the other indie rockers, is the fact that they chose to attack socio-political issues such as the recent migrant crisis and the desensitization of people under the constant influence of technology. One of my favorite lines is “Do you miss your brain? Do you miss your heart?”, since it hits the zeitgeist of today’s society right on the head. There are many other brilliant lines and witty track titles throughout the forty-five minutes that I will leave unspoken for you to explore.

All in all, Machines Are Talking Behind Your Back is a charming first entry into the catalogue of a band with a ton of potential, and I’m sure that Tardis could appeal to a fairly wide audience if they get the chance. The album is available on Bandcamp as of now and there will be an official release party on November 24th at the Irish Pub in Metz. So be sure to check out the music below and head to Facebook if you want to keep up with their progress. Also, those who buy the album might even find a teaser of what’s to come if they keep their eyes peeled and are a bit crafty. Enjoy!

Versus You – Birthday Boys


If I had to name one thing that I like the most about reviewing records, it is the fact that I am occasionally “forced” to listen to genres that I don’t dabble into on a regular basis. I am using the quotation marks, because it is my own decision which albums I review, and which I don’t, but I try to cover the majority of the national releases either way. Now, today’s candidate is definitely not out of my comfort zone, but in listening to Versus You‘s new EP Birthday Boys, and researching it a bit, I realized that there is a great deal of punk rock history that I am totally unaware of.

Immediately upon listening to the opening track, you are welcomed by a very different-sounding band than what you may be used to from the previous record, Moving On. In hindsight the title might as well have been an ominous foreshadowing of what was to come, but I don’t think it was intentional. Generally-speaking, the speed and intensity of the band’s entire sound has been dialed down from eleven to a comfortable six. While I have to admit that on my first listen I wasn’t quite sold on this decision, it ended up making sense on the second go.

These five tracks are, to me, an ode to the past: the band’s inspirations, as well as the experiences they went through individually and as a group. The result is a melancholic musical journey, which does, at times, allow a few glimpses of the brighter future ahead. In a way, it marks the end of an era and the opening of new paths.

To be frank, there is not much more that I could tell you about these seventeen minutes, because they need to be experienced. In order to do that, you can move your bums to Sang an Klang this Saturday, November 11th, where Versus You will be hosting a fairly massive release party. You can find more information about that and the upcoming releases on their Facebook page, so don’t be shy!

I The Mighty – Where The Mind Wants To Go/Where You Let It Go

I would consider myself to be someone follows a lot of bands in the post-hardcore scene and thus is usually up-to-date with the evolution of the genre and the tendencies that it’s taken in the past few years. One such direction is that many bands have changed their sound into something, for lack of a better word, more radio-friendly; a fact that I don’t mind since a good record does not necessarily need screams, or mosh parts. While some listeners absolutely despise change and subsequently claim that the bands have sold out, I’d like to argue that it all lies in the execution. While I don’t like to Gossip, there is definitely a recent entry in the catalog of bands that I listen to, where the new style has failed quite spectacularly. But enough opening monologue: today I have the pleasure of writing about I The Mighty‘s new record Where The Mind Wants To Go/Where You Let It Go, which does it right!

Upon the first listen, it is undeniably obvious that the quartet has taken a step back and fine-tuned their sound into a tamer version of their former selves. However, the trademark ITM sound is still there: well thought-out rhythmic patterns brought to life by energetic performances and painted over with the distinctive vocals. I feel like the main aspect that was altered is the guitar sound, which is mostly void of distortion and fast-paced riffing; opting instead for chords and a cleaner sound. But fret not! There are some “old-school” sounding gems that can be found among these forty-nine minutes…and they are true bangers!

Where the Californians definitely stand out are the two most important features in music, to me: coherent and captivating songwriting, as well as intelligent lyrics or themes. A fact that many bands tend to forget when they change their sound. There is one song, called Sleepwalker, that stood out to me immediately due to it checking both those boxes and, on top of that, being catchy right off the bat! Another aspect where WTMWTG gets bonus points, is the order of the individual eleven songs, which is the perfect simulation of a roller-coaster. Just when you think you’ve heard all the record has to offer, it hits you with another looping!

As mentioned previously, lyrics are an extremely important factor when it comes to my personal enjoyment of music and, to no surprise, this third full-length is filled to the brim with memorable lines and clever analogies, which make every new listening a joy. The vocal performance itself is also as top-notch as was to be expected, albeit with fewer screams, but therefore a special gem in the form of a guest appearance by Dance Gavin Dance‘s Tilian Pearson on Silver Tongues, which can be found below.

All in all, Where The Mind Wants To Go/Where You Let It Go is not only a worthy follow-up to its predecessor, but also a very well-executed transition toward appealing to a larger audience. I am convinced that I The Mighty have bright days ahead of them, and I can’t wait to hear the general reaction to this record! In the meantime, you can head to their Facebook page and keep up with their doings until this Friday, October 20th, when the record is released!

Five Of The Eyes – The Venus Transit

Five Of The Eyes - The Venus Transit
I really got into post-hardcore about four years ago, and ever since I’ve kept discovering new, and sometimes old, bands. Yet, every now and then, I stop and wonder if this genre can ever stagnate and become boring to me and despite some people claiming that the downfall is already underway, I find it hard to believe that I will ever be over-saturated by this genre, especially when I come across bands like Five Of The Eyes. Their debut album The Venus Transit really caught me by surprise when I was granted early access and I hope that the following words can entice you to give it a listen as well.

Now, technically, they are considered progressive rock but I found so many post-hardcore elements in the Portlanders’ sound that I will approach them as such. My first impulse was to call their style psychedelic post-hardcore, because at times I could have sworn I was listening to a modern approach to Deep Purple or the likes, mainly due to the vocalist having a similar timbre…but more on that later. I would say that 5OTE‘s music is best characterized by the words grandeur and theatrics: every note seems to build up to a great finale in each of the nine songs.

The drums undergo numerous temporal and rhythmic changes all throughout the record and serve as a perfect foundation for the guitars to unfold their entire glory of both dreamy melodies and ferocious riffs that hit you with a highly eclectic tone. In general, the forty-two minutes have this really natural and old school sound to them that enhance the experience even further, because every strum and every hit come at you in biting clarity.

On top of that, there’s the wide range of the singer who, as mentioned above, at times channels his inner Ian Gillan and really works those pipes to their extreme, though luckily not quite as high-pitched. His performance also deserves praise because he really makes every line come across as heartfelt and, coupled with a great feel for melodic singing, delivers a solid result.

All in all, exploring The Venus Transit was definitely a surprise for me and if you are into bands like Artifex Pereo or Eidola, you will have a blast with Five Of The Eyes! So be sure to give their debut a listen when it drops on Friday, September 30th, and in the meantime listen to the song below to get a first impression. Also, if you want to keep up to date with their progress, head over to their Facebook page…I know I will.

Retrace My Fragments – Tidal Lock

Retrace My Fragments - Tidal Lock
Three years have passed since the local progressive death metal heroes in Retrace My Fragments have released their skull-shattering full-length Ethereal Flux and it began to be quiet around the quintet for a while. It wasn’t until recently that they announced their return with a small EP in order to whet the appetite for new adventures to come. However, Tidal Lock is much more than just an amuse-bouche: it is a transition.

The reason for said transition is the, amicable, departure of their vocalist after more than ten years as the frontman. After several try-outs and careful consideration, the guys decided to continue as an instrumental four-piece; a choice I wholeheartedly welcome! While the Luxembourgish metal scene has a few very talented instru-bands already, I am convinced that RMF has a fairly distinct sound that will nicely fit between the existing and established formations without singers.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, back to the EP: in a way the sixteen minutes sound nothing like the band’s previous material, but on the other hand they feel very much like what we’ve grown to love about the band. The song structures are on the same crazy level as before, with frequent tempo changes and numerous riffs being thrown at you in rapid succession, whereas the content is “simpler”. The technicality takes a step back in favor of the almighty beast that is groove, and it works…for the most part.

There is no doubt in my mind that large portions of these three songs were written with a vocal melody in mind and were later on changed into an instrumental arrangement, which is absolutely understandable and legit. But I am also convinced that they do not represent the final form of the new Retrace My Fragments, and that future endeavors will have that extra little something that will make people fall in love with their sound all over again.

If you want to see the band one last time as a quintet, I advise you to move your sweet cheeks over to Rockhal this Friday, where the band will hold a release party for Tidal Lock which will at the same time be the farewell for their singer. In the meantime, you can check their Facebook page for more info!

Adventurer – Sacred Grove

Adventurer - Sacred Grove
Every now and then, an album comes along that fans are anticipating and hyping up for so long that it’s almost impossible that the final product will live up to the expectations. A bit more than three years have elapsed since Adventurer released their self-titled EP, subsequently signed to Blue Swan Records and talks of a full-length began circulating. Other than a small taste of the good stuff on a split EP in May 2016, the fans were sitting on blue balls, until the band finally dropped a new single in late August 2017…and the internet pretty much exploded. Therefore it is now time to find out whether Sacred Grove satisfies the adventurous craving, or not!

For those that are unfamiliar with the trio, I think the best way to explain their sound would be to say that they take the best elements of The Fall Of Troy, add in a few sprinkles of pop punk and fuse them together into a perfect concoction: a riff-fest from start to finish with frequent tempo changes, intricate drum patterns and a bass that actually adds depth to the songs, as well as super melodic vocals that are ideal sing-along material and, of course, fierce screams.

I, like so many other post-hardcore aficionados, was completely enamored with the Michiganders’ debut and their overall sound, since it was so matured already, that I kept asking myself how they wanted to change or improve on subsequent releases and I must say that I don’t notice a vast change on these ten songs when compared to the previous ones. But, it’s fairly simple: why change a winning team? Everything that returning listeners liked before is still here, and new listeners will have a slightly more polished first experience. Win-win, in my book.

Perhaps this is just the case for me, but I found that the EP works best when enjoyed in its entirety, and such is the case with Sacred Grove as well: some of the songs don’t do anything for me if I don’t listen to the surrounding ones. Now, unless I am completely mistaken, this isn’t a concept album per se, but the band’s lyrical focus has always, and hopefully will always be, heartache and mostly failed relationships, so I would recommend adopting a similar approach and looking at these thirty-seven minutes as one complete, pardon the pun, adventure.

All in all, I think that Sacred Grove doesn’t have to hide behind its predecessor and even outshines it in moments. While I wish there had been one or two more songs, I’ll definitely take short and sweet over long and boring! Make sure to check out the album when it drops on Friday, September 8th, and in the meantime go listen to the song below or head over Adventurer‘s Facebook page to keep up with the news!

Blanket Hill – Trenches Of Reality

Blanket Hill - Trenches Of Reality
Today’s review is a bit different than usual, because I’m writing about a local band where I purposefully ignored the release of their debut EP and didn’t cover it on this website…that’s how much I hated it. Two years have since passed and I’m delighted to say that Blanket Hill have fixed everything that I disliked about their debut on their sophomore release called Trenches Of Reality…well almost everything. But more on that in a bit.

In 2014, the quintet rose from the ashes of the hardcore youngsters Order Of The Oceans and underwent several line-up changes before settling on the constellation as it is today. The musical style has also been slightly altered, taking a more traditional old school route, akin to the NYC hardcore and throwing in thrash metal elements for good measure. While it is not them reinventing the wheel, they definitely know how to pull it off convincingly!

The six songs, one of which is an instrumental intro, flow nicely into each other and before you know it, you’re done with Trenches Of Reality…but contrary to the predecessor, it never feels like you’re listening to the same song over and over. The groove-laden riffs and the occasional short solo bring enough variation to the table to avoid that. This was hands down my biggest gripe with Kaizen, so I’m glad that it is no longer an issue, despite there still being some room for improvement.

The vocal situation is still very similar to what we previously heard: not quite my cup of tea, because it’s too much Sprechgesang and fairly monotonous, but since it’s almost a staple in hardcore, I can’t really say anything bad against it. It just isn’t for me. To spice things up. there is one guest appearance by Andrew Wilson of Revulsion that, sorry to say, does nothing for me either.

Reading through what I just wrote, it might seem that I hate the nineteen minutes that are ToR, but consider that I’ve never been a huge fan of the genre to begin with and that I see a lot of potential in the songwriting. So, please, do yourself a favor and listen to the song below to see for yourself whether Blanket Hill is your jam or not, and if they are, make sure to swing by Food For Your Senses in Luxembourg this weekend, where they will perform and release their latest endeavor to the public. More info on that can be found on their Facebook page, enjoy!

Eidola – To Speak, To Listen

Eidola - To Speak, To Listen
Two years ago, I discovered a band through a song off their back then unreleased second full-length and was so impressed that I blindly ordered their debut and pre-ordered the sophomore. My expectations were not met, but completely exceeded by Degeneraterra and it stayed on repeat for quite a while, which is why I was beyond excited when Eidola announced that they were already going to release a follow-up to it in 2017. Fast forward a little while to when I was granted early access to To Speak, To Listen and try imagining my amazement when I first listened to the phenomenal, albeit short, opener The Abstract Of A Planet In Resolve.

Basically, the quintet took everything I loved about the previous album and turned the dial to the max, despite it already being at eleven. Eidola is, to me, all about complexity, melody and diversity, all wrapped into truly solid songwriting and embellished with a really powerful sound. I can say without a doubt that all those boxes have been ticked on my checklist, and I can’t even begin to explain how they’ve improved, but I’ll try: every single instrument is bringing their A-game, with the drumming probably being my favorite element this time around, the levels of groove and crazy footwork along with the innumerable tiny accents and fills just blew me away every single time I’ve put these twelve songs on. And that has been close to three digits…don’t judge me.

The melodic aspect comes in the form of, what I feel, way catchier choruses and individual parts than on the predecessor. The musical diversity is more or less at the same level, but even more tightly woven together by the songwriting: in spite of there being many changes in tempo, intensiveness and general vibe during the different tracks, it never once feels awkward or forced, a feat that really allows you to dive into the experience. This is even further facilitated by the glass-clean production which allows you to distinguish every single note of each and every instrument without any great effort. To give you an idea: I am a long-standing sufferer of the “I can’t hear the bass guitar”-syndrome, but I feel like the bass on TSTL and I get along just fine.

Obviously, I can’t finish this review without at least dropping a few lines about the vocals: you are still treated to a wonderful mix of screams and cleans, but I feel like they have both gained in prowess and fierceness. Especially the clean vocals have even further expanded their range, most notably in the upper register, and the screams are more predominantly represented during the fifty-two minutes than what you are previously used to. Lyrically, Eidola still wander on a fairly esoteric level, with mature topics and well-written lines, which is not always the best sing along material, but sometimes it’s better -not- To Speak, and just To Listen. Thank you, I’m here all week.

What can I say? The guys from Utah have recorded a masterpiece and I can’t wait to finally be able to show it to my friends and talk about it on June 2nd, when To Speak, To Listen is officially released. There is not a single doubt in my mind that Eidola is the next Blue Swan Records band to make the jump to a bigger label! Until then, support the band, buy their music and go see their shows…or at least like them on Facebook and jam the song below. Infinite love!