Author Archives: Yannick

Anamanaguchi – Endless Fantasy

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Last week has been a big week for “electronic” music, at least in my book. Daft Punk pre-streamed their new album and Anamanaguchi released their new Endless Fantasy. While I was slightly underwhelmed by the former, the latter entirely blew me away…but let me introduce you to the band first. Anamanaguchi are an American quartet that are unarguably among the biggest of the chiptune genre. For those of you that are not familiar with this type of music: it’s basically music that is created with old consoles like the Nintendo Entertainment System or the Game Boy. What differentiates these guys from the mass however is that they are, what they like to call themselves, a regular band with a NES as a singer.

The main reason why their music fascinates me as much as it does is because it raises strong nostalgic feelings in me. I am completely thrown back into my childhood of playing Nintendo or Super Nintendo and having the greatest time ever with the bits and bytes. But I am convinced that even people that do not have similar memories will be able to enjoy this record. Simply because it’s amazingly well composed and the “danceability” is extremely high, even for pillars of salt when it comes to dancing like myself.

Compared to the predecessor EP Dawn Metropolis this one is a full-length album which clocks in at just under eighty minutes (!) with a total of twenty-two songs…something very rare in today’s “fast food mindset” when it comes to album lengths. Another addition is that on a handful of songs they include, partially auto-tuned and modified, vocals; which I was skeptical towards at first. But the outcome is just so well-fitting that I’m partially sad that they’re not used on more tracks.

There is not much I can add, to be honest. You either dig this style or you don’t, it’s pretty difficult to be impartial since it’s very special and unique. I sincerely hope you give it a go and find out for yourself! More info can be found on the band’s Facebook page and you can take the “do I like chiptune?” test by watching the video below!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vc3JWo2iiGc]

The Convois – Ocean’s Tale

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Have you ever gone to a small gig to maybe watch some of your friends play, but aside from them you didn’t know any other band that was set to appear that night? Well, exactly that happened to me last Saturday when I went to Soul Kitchen in Luxembourg for the Locals Fest 3. As I entered the venue I was surprised by a band that completely blew me away in the course of their set: The Convois! Despite a rather small crowd the band gave their everything and delivered a stunning performance. It was clear to me that I wanted to write about their music and so I asked them for their debut album Ocean’s Tale!

The band plays a very melodic type of hardcore that should be appealing to both newcomers to the genre as well as veterans. The ten songs feature some pretty intricate guitar work that shouldn’t bore you any time soon. The same can be said for the drums, which have some pretty nifty fills here and there. Instrumentally speaking there is simply nothing negative that can be said, to be honest.

The main thing that struck me however are definitely the vocals. I have to preface this by saying that when they played live they had a female singer, along their front man, which immediately peaked my interest because it’s a rather rare, but very refreshing, sight. While she had a rather prominent role in their live set, she only features on a couple of songs on the album…while it takes away a bit of the diversity of the songs it doesn’t hurt them at all. This is due to the fact that the lead singer has immensely good clean vocals and even better screams.

To sum it up, I’d say that these thirty-two minutes won’t let you down but if you want to experience The Convois the best way you can, you should head to one of their gigs. You can find a list of them on their Facebook page, and if you need convincing, listen to the song below!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdXwpX4YbGs]

LIGHTS – Siberia Acoustic

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Today I want to explore a very different aspect of my musical spectrum…and I want to take you on a journey to Siberia. More precisely Siberia Acoustic, which is the second of its kind by Canadian artist LIGHTS. As with her first synthpop album The Listening, where she released a five track EP simply called Acoustic a few months later, she does it again this time around with her second electronic album Siberia. The acoustic version of it features ten tracks (of the original fifteen) which are all performed by guitars, pianos and string instruments (cello I believe).

It certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but the whole thing has such a dreamy atmosphere that I immediately fell in love with the vibe of it. It’s just something you can either listen to on the side without paying much attention to it and still be pleasantly entertained, or you can actually pay attention to the brilliant instrumentation and enjoy it even more. Especially if you know the original songs, you will appreciate it even more, trust me.

One thing that no one can deny however is that the girl can sing! While I like her slightly auto-tuned vocals on the “regular” albums, because they add to the feel, I much prefer her untouched vocals. But apparently her own voice wasn’t enough, so she recruited help from three artists: Owl City on Cactus In The Valley, Max Kerman on Siberia and last but not least Coeur de Pirate on Peace Sign. I for one wasn’t convinced at all by the guest vocalists on my first listen-through…but I slowly warmed up to them and now I actually like them a lot, especially the latter.

LIGHTS is one of the few pop artists that I deeply respect and enjoy, and I hope you will give her a chance too…you might dig it! Listen to the song below and check out her Facebook page if you want to know more about her music. This review also serves the purpose of urging you to always keep an open ear and mind when it comes to music…simply because it’s a genre you generally don’t like, doesn’t mean you might not like some of it.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uneToG4PYgg]

Golden Tanks – R.D.H.B.

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Ever heard of the band Every Time I Die? Like them? Read on then, because Golden Tanks will be right up your alley! The four guys from Reading recently released their EP R.D.H.B., which demonstrates hardcore punk at its best!

The guitars relentlessly throw riff after riff at you and leave you almost no chance to breathe, while the drums batter down everything in their way. The symbiosis between the two instruments is at an excellent level and it never sounds off when the faster parts kick in during the five tracks.

The thing that strikes me the most during the fourteen minutes though is definitely the vocalist, who sounds very similar to Keith Buckly of ETID in certain passages with his pitch-changing screams, with his flawlessly executed performance.

In conclusion I’d say that Golden Tanks do not reinvent the wheel but they keep it spinning at an extremely fast pace. And I’m positive that they will not be forgotten very quickly, if they keep up the same level! You can find more info on their Facebook page and to make things even better: you can download the entire EP for free on their Bandcamp below! Enjoy!

Scarred – Gaia/Medea

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I am very stoked about today’s review, because I have the great privilege to give you an online world premiere of one of the, if not the, most anticipated Luxembourgish metal records in recent times. As you have guessed by the cover, I’m talking about Scarred‘s new album Gaia/Medea. Let me just spoil one thing before I begin: it was very much worth the four year wait! So let’s start, shall we?

First things first: it’s a very thematic album, with the first and the last song building the general concept, so you’ll be able to enjoy a steady progression throughout the ten songs. Without giving away too much, it deals with the end of the world in all of its forms. In comparison to the predecessor New Filth Order, the lyrics are a lot more mature and you can definitely notice a vast improvement.

The guitars are on a whole new level as well, both sound- and technique-wise. Whereas they were already super well executed on album number one, this one puts it all to shame. The amount of ingenuity of the riffs, licks and especially solos is just overwhelming and you will not believe your ears, especially on your first listen-through.

I could almost copy-paste the paragraph about the guitars when it comes to the drums, but that would be a bit boring. The drums are still as much “in your face” as you’re used to, with the addition of an uncountable amount of fills in the most unexpected passages. The sound fits the ensemble perfectly, yet manages to stand out among the sound barrage.

The vocals, which in my opinion were kind of monotonous on NFO, have reached new heights and display a great variation in tone, speed and feature harmonies almost throughout all of the songs…something I dig a lot, personally, since it adds a completely new dimension to these sixty-two minutes.

Next up is something I usually don’t do, but since this is one of my personal highlights this year, I will do a song-by-song breakdown of the album. Don’t worry, it won’t be too long!

The opener, Gaia, starts off with an atmospheric intro before unleashing hell on your eardrums. Coupled with a rather melodic chorus, it’s the perfect prelude to what awaits you.

Next up is Cinder, which I predict to be the new headbang anthem at upcoming Scarred shows. This groove-laden masterpiece features one of my favorite riffs on the entire album, as well as one of the sing-along-friendliest choruses you will find. The drums stand out as well, since they’re filled with nasty little fills left and right. Trust me when I tell you that you won’t be able to restrain yourself from bopping your head to this one.

The Great Pan(dem)ic starts in a rather progressive vain, proceeds to simply go balls to the walls with almost no chance for breath and finishes you off with a groove invasion.

The next song, Psychogenesis, is the first one to show a very different side of the record. Even though the following statement isn’t exactly correct, it feels to me like a black metal song in some spots, with the chorus describing that feeling the best.

Low is probably the most straight-forward song, and there’s not much I can say about it except that the last minute is purely eargasmic, definitely listen to that one carefully.

Mosaic is the guitar-geek song, no doubt about that one. Riff after riff, solo after solo, lick after lick…there’s no end to this one’s potential for bloody fingers of people who want to play along.

Next comes Idiosyncrasy, the metal-duet featuring Boerdi of Kraton and Dreadnought. The guy’s become such an omnipresent figure in the Luxembourgish metal scene that I would have almost been pissed if they got someone else instead of him. The song starts off with a really crushing riff, that is among the heaviest of the record, and transcends into a more progressive vibe about half-way through and ends with a fading-in intro of the next song.

Said intro is just too much for me to put into words. Essentially it’s nothing super complicated but the guitar (yes) tone they achieved here is just so uplifting and the perfect preface to easily my favorite song on the record: The Knot. I won’t go too much into this one since I want you to make up your own mind about it and tell me if you share my enthusiasm. If you don’t, then there’s at least the phenomenal guest-solo of Atilla Vörös, of Nevermore, for you to enjoy.

The ninth song, Empire Of Dirt, is also part of the straight-forward camp but it features a lot of groove in several parts as well as super-fast solos.

The final song, Medea, is almost twelve minutes in length…yet not boring. There’s so much variation, starting with an almost “happy” part then going into sheer heaviness before ending with an instrumental reprise of the first notes of the album. Also noteworthy: this one wins the lyric trophy for its purely epic story.

This sums up my review of Gaia/Medea, and to keep things short I’ll just say: if you don’t have this masterpiece on your shelf when it comes out…you’re missing out big time. In my opinion, the Luxembourgish quintet has managed to put every local metal record that has been released in the past decade to shame. …I might be exaggerating slightly, but decide for yourself once you’ve heard it. You can keep up with the band’s future plans on their Facebook page and listen to the exclusive new song below. And most of all: do not miss the release party of the album, which will happen on June 1st at the Kulturfabrik in Esch!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5F9eGUBemY8]

Volbeat – Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies

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The year 2013 marks the year of the release of the fifth album Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies by Danish rockers Volbeat. Some people hate the band, some love them…one thing that can’t be argued about is that they constantly deliver amazing live performances. I myself had the chance of seeing them in both a festival and a club surrounding and I can guarantee that you will not be able to stand around still at one of their shows. But that isn’t what this review is about, so let’s get started.

I like to call Volbeat “the AC/DC of heavy metal”, since their sound never changes much but they never release a bad album per se. Repetitive? Sure, sometimes. But never bad. This record does not break that pattern and especially if this is your first time with the band, you will appreciate their rockabilly-metal fusion quite a lot.

For returning listeners I can definitely say that you will not have many “aha” moments, but you will notice a change in their guitar parts. This is due to the recruitment of a new guitarist, ex-Anthrax Rob Caggiano, who brings a new take on their usual riffs to the mix. The other thing you will notice is that there are (even) more songs that are quite clearly aimed towards crowd involvement at shows. Obviously this means that the band intends to get more radio play out of this album, but I for one don’t mind that too much since it still sounds like Volbeat.

This goes for the drums and the vocals as well, not much has changed here…which is meant in a good way. As on the predecessor, there are two guest vocalists again: King Diamond on Room 24 and Sarah Blackwood on Lonesome Rider. Especially the former song stands out quite a lot on the album since it features several guitar solos and the vocals just kick as, but what did you expect?

To be frank: the fourteen songs, which clock in at just under an hour, are nothing revolutionary but every fan of the band should at least give this record a listen or two. For newcomers this is as good as any previous release to get started. Check out the band’s Facebook page for possible tour dates and listen to the song below, which by the way is the softest one on the record.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlF3OY-FenY]

Trash Monday LXV

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Just read the title of the artist (you may or may not replace the R in that word by a U) and the song title, and you’ll know what awaits you. I don’t think I have to comment on any “qualities” of the video below.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPvNOGSZevM]

Stone Sour – House Of Gold & Bones Part 2

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Stone Sour are back, almost exactly six months after the release of the first part of their double concept album, to deliver House Of Gold & Bones Part 2! But first, it’s time for a bit of a personal aspect: since early February I’ve been anxiously following the band’s news section in order to clench my thirst for new stuff. When they finally released a stream of the full album one week prior to the official release date, I immediately jumped on it and I only closed my mouth again when the fifty-one minutes were over.

The album starts off with the vocals and an atmospheric piano melody, while slowly introducing the other instruments, only to culminate in a heavy outburst with deep screams and crushing riffs towards the end of the first song. If you’ve listened to Part 1 you’ll already notice a difference here, since the whole thing has a by far more epic vibe to it. Generally speaking, the record also has a far more technical grandeur and even catchier choruses…you can easily notice that the band has definitely found its perfect musical mix here.

Said mix ranges from super rhythmic drum parts and melodic guitar playing to simply balls to the wall passages that will satisfy even the fiercest metalheads amongst the Stone Sour fans. Just listen to the bridge on the song Peckinpah and you will understand what I mean…still gives me shivers. All instruments are, as on the predecessor, spot on when it comes to production and song-writing; no note too much or too less.

On the vocal side, I’d go as far and say that it’s probably the band’s strongest output…simply because it seems that Corey’s voice seems to ripen as time passes. Lyrically, the twelve tracks continue the story of the Human and his, spoiler, journey to the eponymous building. The thing that definitely sells this album for me, however, are the last three songs which not only deliver a fitting end to the tale but each contain a reprise of three melodies from Part 1. You might think it’s a lack of creativity but I personally love it, since it nicely rounds off the entire musical journey.

As with my first review, this one’s not much different: it’s not very objective at all and you might strongly disagree with every single word, but it’s pretty safe to say that, for me, this album already has a spot in my Top 5 of 2013. I strongly urge you to give it a chance, but I’d advise that you listen to HOGAB Part 1 first in order to enjoy the complete thing. Visit the band’s Facebook page and listen to the song below.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwkGatmflbw]

Killswitch Engage – Disarm The Descent

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Before I start with today’s review I’d like to warn you that April marks the release of new records by several “mainstream” bands…so be prepared to read about those, since I love writing about records that I’ve been waiting for for quite some time. The first one of those is Killswitch Engage‘s new album Disarm The Descent, so here we go.

Their new album marks the return of their first singer Jesse Leach after a bit more than ten years of absence following the release of the phenomenal Alive Or Just Breathing. Just right off the bat: I won’t go into the eternal “Team Jesse vs Team Howard” debate, since I enjoy both their contributions to KSE. But I will say that this record by far surpasses the band’s last, self-titled, output with Howard Jones.

Musically DTD is very reminiscent of AOJB with a bit of influences from Jesse’s side-project Times Of Grace which clearly shine through. However, it does feel like their heaviest output to date since, except the typically extremely melodic choruses, you barely get a chance to catch your breath between the walls of fast-paced riffs, crushing drum beats and angry, heartfelt screams that come your way almost non-stop.

I have to say that the main gravitas on these twelve tracks, to me, are the vocals and the accompanying lyrics. While trying to keep to what I said in the second paragraph, I won’t expand too much on it but I’m a huge fan of Leach’s vocal performance in general, since his screams are super raw and you just “buy” what he’s singing. The fact that he’s vastly improved since his first output with the band just makes it even better.

To sum things up I’d say that this is definitely an amazing comeback and if you are, like me, an avid listener of the band’s debut album, you will immediately feel at home when you put on this record. Is it their best record? I wouldn’t say so…but it’s totally worth the forty-one minutes of your time and almost guaranteed to entertain for far longer than that. Check out the band’s Facebook page for further info and listen to the song below!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoga4cROMvE]

Weakonstruction – 18 Minute Revolution

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After missing Weakonstruction at Rock de Stéier, I felt like I had to make it up to the guys so I bought their CD, for only 2 bucks, and decided to give it a go. So here you are: it’s time for an 18 Minute Revolution.

First things first: the guys play traditional punk, with no compromises. While it’s not the most technical genre there is, the music certainly manages to capture your attention with the simple but effective melodies. The instruments are well played and well produced, but there is no real highlight, like solos, which aren’t necessary but it could have spiced things up a little.

The clean vocals are generally quite enjoyable but the shouts could sometimes be a bit more powerful, the will is there anyhow. I should note that backing vocals are provided by Eric Rosenfeld of Versus You on a couple of the seven tracks. There is one song that particularly stands out to me though, the fourth one: Dicke Bertha, which is an ode to a, I hope, fictional groupie of the voluptuous kind with quite funny lyrics.

That pretty much sums it up, I’m sorry for not being able to provide you with more insight but I have to admit that punk isn’t exactly the genre I feel completely at home, so I’d recommend that you simply give these guys a listen and see if you like it. If not, go check out one of their shows, as I’m pretty sure that the live experience beats the CD experience. I’ll leave you with three things: first of all, Weakonstruction are releasing their new album Reinventing Ourselves this year, secondly you can check out their Facebook page to keep up with the band and last but not least, go check out their pretty amazing video below!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQOIeGpEwCM]