Everwaiting Serenade – No Harbor

Ten years. Unless you speak of the earth itself, that’s a long time. Even more so if a band reaches that milestone in its existence, since in today’s music industry that’s becoming more and more rare, with many formations splitting up after a record already.  Which is why I am delighted to write a review about Everwaiting Serenade, who are celebrating that achievement with the release of their new record No Harbor on October 17th!

I must admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of their previous record All Rise, which dates back to 2011, since it didn’t have any real musical highlight to me…but a creative break of four years has definitely remedied that and has helped the quintet (re)define their style! While the metalcore elements have taken a step back, and made way for a more hardcore-orientated sound, they are still found in the essence of the ten songs in the form of melodic riffing and the genre-typical breakdowns.

EWS have always been fond of chugging rhythms and that hasn’t changed either but, especially due to the truly massive production, it’s very well-blended with the various instruments, allowing a clear distinction of the other things going on in a song. Sadly, my only gripe with these thirty-six minutes stems from said chugging though. I’ve said it numerous times in conversations, but I don’t recall ever bringing it up in a review: Luxembourg has tons of amazing musicians, but very few good songwriters. While the songs all have a clear structure and even some truly memorable parts, I was constantly waiting for the massive hook or chorus to come and hit me in the face.

However, this doesn’t mean that No Harbor is your standard uninspired hardcore release either, quite the contrary actually. Especially since the vocals contribute a lot to the variety, since there are numerous sing-along parts in the form of crowd chants and catchy one-liners. While the vocalist has refrained from any vocal style other than screaming, I feel that he has vastly improved and it elevates the ensemble to a new level.

All in all, I’d say that Everwaiting Serenade have managed to capture that which makes them a local force to be reckoned with: raw energy! It might just be personal preference but I’m more than confident that if they iron out the above-mentioned part, they will be here for at least another ten years. Either way, I’m excited to follow their future and if you want to do the same, be sure to head over to Facebook and watch their new video for the title track of No Harbor! Last but not least: Melusina is the place to be on October 17th if you want to experience them live and get your hands on the record!
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_sxsNJ0NX8]

Mindpatrol – The Marble Fall

Imagine this: you start a musical project with your good friend, you write, record, produce and release it all by yourself in complete DIY fashion and it is met with with mixed to negative reviews. What do you do? I’ll tell you what you should do: dust yourself off, recruit some more like-minded individuals, start rehearsing as a band, play live shows and start writing the next record! That is exactly what Mindpatrol did after the release of Downfall Theatre in 2013, which is why I have the great pleasure of writing about their upcoming output, The Marble Fall!

Back when I reviewed their debut album, I praised them for covering a broad spectrum in their music, and I also mentioned the well thought-through songwriting…boy, was I a fool. Because even though they have narrowed their range down to what I would call progressive power-death metal, the songwriting during these twelve tracks is riddled with so many catchy hooks, riffs and melodies that I don’t even want to start counting. It’s clear that the omission of certain elements from the predecessor has greatly improved the sextet’s sound!

At the core of The Marble Fall is an epic story that is, admittedly, very similar to the biblical downfall of man, but with a new twist to it. In order to do this opus, that is recounted in sixty-two minutes, justice, Mindpatrol has incorporated some rather classical instruments such as trumpets, violins and organs, which gives the entirety a much more majestic vibe, without being cheesy though.

Despite already praising the improved songwriting, I can’t help but highlight the fact that the vocals have also further improved. Mainly because the clean vocals, which were the main caveat on DT, have been completely scratched and replaced with shouted singing. Furthermore, I feel like the growls and screams have also gained in strength, and especially the screeches are almost like the cries of the undead. Add to that a much better sense for vocal melodies and you’ve got a very promising vocalist! Hell, even his accent has become much more bareable…still not quite disappeared though.

In closing, I must say that the evolution that Mindpatrol have undergone in two years is quite remarkable…and a little bird tells me that they have not even reached their final form yet. Be sure to check out The Marble Fall when it’s released digitally on October 16th and, if you like what you hear, move your ass to the Schungfabrik in Differdange on October 30th for the release show of the record! In the meantime, watch the band’s music video below and head to their Facebook page to keep up with what else they have planned.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=744OEfNJRfE]

Cristobal And The Sea – Sugar Now

I am really glad to be back on El Gore to talk about a debut album that I, as a huge fan of the London-based quartet, had been eagerly awaiting: Sugar Now by Cristobal and the Sea! I’m obsessed with their experimental approach to folk with Mediterranean influences, and this release has been a definite musical highlight of my year.

I know comparisons are tricky, but it’s less the musical similarity that makes me point it out and more the general vibe and feeling I got from the record – I was immediately struck by how much it reminds me of Fleet Foxes‘ spectacular Helplessness Blues. The folk element is way more pronounced than in much of their previous work, which was dunked in trippy reverb, delayed guitars, some auto tune and other spacey effects. It’s less crammed, more subdued, very organic, fairly stripped down yet still big-sounding, and somehow feels close to nature. The particular way the band melds their haunting chants and vocal harmonies, flute playing, Latin riffs and at times borderline bizarre melodies creates a mystical atmosphere and invites you to get lost in a panorama of colourful sounds.

Pretty much every piece of media I’ve read about Cristobal and the Sea makes mention of the members’ different European backgrounds. With reason, as this cultural variety definitely spills over into the album, most evidently in the form of parts sung in Portuguese, French and Spanish (the two singers’ and bass player’s respective native languages). The lyrics themselves – sometimes abstract, other times more concrete philosophical musings – support the instrumentals in painting vivid pictures.

There are upbeat moments, but there’s also an ever-present profundity, perhaps even slight melancholy, hanging over the album. Honestly, if I had to sum it up succinctly and in less descriptive terms, I’d just call it beautiful. You can feel the passion and emotional honesty of the musicians shining through. It’s a truly refreshing spin on indie folk music that will be a delight to everyone who digs the warm sounds of Latin America and the Iberian peninsula.

The band is active on Facebook and other social media platforms, and Sugar Now, which will be out on the 2nd, can be pre-ordered here, as well as on iTunes and Amazon.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vc87JzsT52o]

Idle Class – Of Glass And Paper

It’s been a little over a year since I first discovered today’s band at all-day punk show here in Luxembourg, and after reviewing a split EP they were on in October, I’m excited to say that Idle Class are back with a full-length entitled Of Glass And Paper, that is going to be released on September 25th!

What can I say? Everything that has attracted me to the quintet’s sound at first, is back with a vengeance! The essence is still very much punk rock, along with the dreaminess and melodic finesse that made them stand out to me, except that this time the joy isn’t over after two songs. As a matter of fact, the eleven songs allow the Germans to develop a much deeper-felt experience and thereby ensures the need to re-listen to the album over and over again.

The songwriting is nice and tight and is jam-packed with tons of sing-along-worthy passages as well as a healthy dose of heaviness and even a dash melancholy, rounding off the forty minute package quite well. Musically, I found a couple of riffs to really stand out through their intricacy, but in general there’s not many “look what I can play” moments…which I totally appreciate, since the songs as as a whole are more important to these guys than comparing penis sizes…then again, what happens on the tour van, stays on the tour van.

Vocally, you are treated to clean singing and shouting, as well as a moderate amount of screams for good measure, providing a very fitting performance to the music. But, my only minor nitpick also lies in this department: the singer’s accent seems slightly forced at times, which made me raise an eyebrow every now and then…but it’s not relevant enough to distract from the ensemble. So no “points” deducted there.

All in all, Idle Class have managed to confirm my love at first listen for them with their new outing, and I can only recommend OGAP to every fan of the genre, since it’s quite a hidden gem! Be sure to check out the song below and head over to the band’s Facebook page for more infos and even a full stream!
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nE92Jw-lx90]

Bring Me The Horizon – That’s The Spirit

Evolution is not only a necessity in biology, without which we’d still walk on all fours, but also very important in music. While it is necessary for a band to find their sound, they will, at one point or another, begin to release the same blend over and over until their music grows stale. Thankfully, Bring Me The Horizon have never had that problem, since they’ve strayed further from their deathcore origins with every single record. Their new output That’s The Spirit, however, marks their biggest leap in terms of change.

While it was hinted at on the predecessor, Sempiternal, the quintet no longer identifies enough with their early releases to continue in the same vain. This time around they’ve implemented so many pop and indie elements that I’d go as far as to say that they’ve invented a new genre: pop metal. And it works! It works damn well!

Aggressive riffs are nowhere to be found on these eleven songs, since they’ve made way for more atmospheric and melodic string work. The drums, while still complex enough to remain interesting, have also been dialed back a lot…allowing keyboards and various synthesizers and samples to shine. In tandem with top notch songwriting, this new configuration definitely delivers on every level.

The vocals, while still retaining some trademark aspects, have also been toned down and no longer feature growls or screeches, only clean vocals and occasional “mild” screams. As far as I know this is mostly due to the fact that singer Oli Sykes no longer feels at ease with the more aggressive singing styles, partly because he can’t pull them off as well as before but also because it doesn’t resonate with his state of mind anymore. While this is probably the biggest setback for “can you play that one song” fans…it’s a major selling point for me for these forty-five minutes. Coupled with the typical tongue-in-cheek lyrics, dealing with the darker aspects of life this time around, the overall performance might be the band’s best to date.

All in all, BMTH took a massive step that will most likely drive away their “hardcore fans”, but at the same time attract a whole new crowd of people. I, for one, welcome the change with open arms because there is no doubt in my mind that it was the right thing to do. Artists need to follow their inspiration and not remain stuck in a specific genre, just because they used to play that particular one. If you’re intrigued, be sure to watch the video below and head over to the band’s Facebook page…That’s The Spirit, by the way, is available since September 11th.


Kali Uchis – Por Vida

Kali Uchis is an exciting Colombian artist raised in the USA who has been around since 2012 when her first mixtape dropped, but has only moved into the spotlight in 2014 following the release of the first single off her first LP Por Vida. The album came out in February this year and since discovering it a bit late I haven’t been able to free myself from its spell.

Kali’s musical style is an interesting mix of influences that I haven’t heard in this form before. Her voice is all sultry and soulful and is backed by a sound that can be best described as an experimental cross between vintage bubblegum pop and R&B combined with some serious hiphop vibes (not least because she’s had really cool and well-known support coming from hiphop backgrounds for this album, such as Tyler the Creator and BADBADNOTGOOD). She also flirts with reggae elements, most notably in Know What I Want, and her Latin American roots definitely take hold in her music. It’s all over the place but blends in together so nicely!

Lyrically, Kali’s moments of sass are irresistible: “Fuck me over, I’ll fuck you worse and take off to Japan”. She also has a knack for analogies, which is evident in Melting, Lottery and Loner, the slower numbers on this record.

In rough outlines, Por Vida is composed of saccharine love ballads, smooth hang out jams and bouncy late night tunes to feel like a million bucks to. While still decidedly making up an accessible pop album, every single one of the 9 tracks is unique and strays from the usual boring recycled mainstream pop formula. I sure love a well-crafted pop record – definitely don’t miss this artist if you feel the same! Find her on Facebook and stream the album on Soundcloud.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Srfe453YePI]

Slaves – Routine Breathing

Wow! Talk about being productive! It’s been a little over a year since Slaves have released their debut, but they already have a follow-up which came out on August 21st, titled Routine Breathing. Productivity doesn’t always equal quality though, so let’s see what the guys have come up with!

First off, I find that the songwriting has greatly improved, with each track being memorable than the last one, even though I found this album to be more of a grower than a shower, so to speak. While a few catchy parts stood out to me on my first listen, it wasn’t until my fifth or so round that I was able to actively differentiate between the various songs…but the investment was well worth the while. Because the substance of the fifteen songs is quite enormous.

Whereas the instruments on Through Art We Are Equals were more of a backdrop to Jonny’s singing, they all play their own role this time around but still don’t overshadow the, arguably, core of the band. Several riffs really impressed me when I first heard them, and now I always look forward to the part they kick in. The same goes for the drumming, which is still played rather purposefully, instead of showing off…but it simply delivers more strongly than on the predecessor.

As I mentioned above, the main reason, I think, we all listen to Slaves in the first place is found behind the mic…and fuck me running if it isn’t an amazing reason for us fans to enjoy album number two. The performance Jonny puts forth on these fifty-one minutes is beyond astounding and, even though I said that last time already, is the strongest in his career thus far. The sheer emotion and power that can be felt in every note is what firmly cements his place at the top of all the singers out there, in my book.

However, same as last time around, the band must have felt that even a strong voice can need some back-up, which is why they got several guest singers to perform on four tracks: Garret Rapp of The Color Morale, Spencer Chamberlain of Underoath, Kyle Lucas and Tilian Pearson of Dance Gavin Dance. Especially the latter delivers such a heartwarming performance on the song Winter Everywhere that I seriously hope that in due time there will be another co-lab of these two former and current DGD singers.

All in all, Routine Breathing is anything but what its name suggests…because I’ve been heavy breathing the entire time. The Californians outdid themselves on the whole line, and have without even a second of doubt delivered an album that is a worthy contender in my top five. But don’t just take my word for it! Check out the song below, and if you like what you hear, head over to the band’s Facebook page to get information about where you can buy the record!
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-H-uUweM0M]

Adoptees – Adopt These

After a whole month of downtime, to recharge the batteries, it truly feels good to be back. And what better way to restart the machine than with a brand new local release? Adoptees, a Luxembourgish punk rock quartet, is actually releasing their (very) long-awaited debut full length, Adopt These, today at noon and I’m very excited to share my thoughts with you, just a couple of hours ahead of time.

But first, a quick back story: the record was actually recorded, mixed and mastered in 2012..but like a good wine, the guys waited before they made it available to the public. When I first learned this little information, I was a bit worried that maybe the twelve songs would sound a bit “old”, but I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that age has not done anything to diminish the quality and enjoyability of the music, quite the contrary.

Musically-speaking, Adoptees is very old-school punk with a healthy dash of melody thrown in for good measure and together with relatively straight-forward, yet super catchy, songwriting, the twenty-nine minutes are bound to amaze from beginning to end. During the approximately twenty times I listened to the album in its entirety, there were numerous parts that got stuck in my head and I absolutely have to praise the recognizability of the individual tracks. The majority of the songs are balls-to-the-walls punk rock that many of us grew up with, whether actively or passively, and no instrument takes any prisoners.

In case you shouldn’t recognize the voice when listening to the song below, let me tell you that Adoptees is fronted by Eric Rosenfeld, of Versus You and Communicaution, making this his third active band to my knowledge. While the former is more pop punk oriented and the latter more of a singer-songwriter deal…Adoptees is, for me, a release for his angrier side, especially on the instrumental side. Lyrically, there are also quite a number of angry songs, but I found that they all left a somewhat positive aftertaste in my…ears, I guess? Even the one or the other serenade finds its way into the mix, which adds quite a bit to the diversity factor.

All in all, Adopt These has everything that a timeless album needs: lots of musical ingenuity, tons of catchy parts and an overall great production. The three year waiting period might have seemed like forever to fans of the band, but it’s safe to say that the wait was well worth the while. So, be sure to show Adoptees some love on Facebook, listen to the song below and head over to their Bandcamp around noon to grab the record! Smell you next week!
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gejHR8T53pc]

Plaguewielder – Chambers Of Death

Even though the metal scene in Luxembourg is a presence that cannot be underestimated these days, there are some genres that are very scarcely represented. Doom metal is certainly one of them because, unless I am mistaken, there is only a single band that chose to invest their talent in it. That formation is called Plaguewielder and the guys are about to release their first album, which goes by the name Chambers Of Death.

Now, if you look at the amount of tracks, you could assume that it’s just an EP, but I must remind you that it’s doom metal we’re talking about here: forty-nine minutes of music await you! I have to add that three out of the five tracks are new versions of the songs that were on their debut EP, but since we haven’t gotten around to reviewing that on here in the past, it was a wholly fresh experience for me. Due to the low amount of songs, I’m going to do something I rarely do, but which I think is justified in this case: a song by song breakdown.

Existence Is Our Exile starts off with black metalesque screams of pure desperation, present on the entire record, before kicking it off with a powerful outburst which follows that same emotion. The soundscape is enriched by minor use of string instruments which fit the mood perfectly and give the song that extra something. About halfway through, the synthesized piano kicks in and, without really breaking the feeling of despair, drives the song into a completely different direction before reverting back to the main part to close the song.

The second song, Drowned, which remains largely unchanged from its former glory except for a handful of added vocals, is the slowest song on the album and the most basic one out of the bunch. While it’s nowhere near anything I would consider bad, it doesn’t have any of those surprise moments which I love so much on the other tracks.

The new version of Casket Of Dying Flesh follows, which takes a while to build up an atmosphere before the organ kicks in. Baring in mind that I hadn’t given the EP a listen before, this really took me by surprise since it fits so nicely into the concept of the song that I couldn’t imagine it without it. The melody of the organ just has this looney bin feel to it, which complements the lyrics so well…in case you’ve read them.

I’ll be straight-forward here: Father Suicide, the second new song, is by far my favorite on the album. The first half of the song is an almost post-rock-worthy barrage of fast-paced riffing and drumming, which conveys, to me at least, this feeling of total freedom but yet of deep sadness. The synthesized piano is the omnipresent instrument throughout the seven minutes and helps guide the song into its heavier part in the second half, which is on the heavier spectrum of the band’s sound.

The closing track, The Funeral March, is the longest song and at the same time a perfect way to close the Chambers Of Death. Its gloomy vibe is carried all throughout the almost fourteen minutes and even when the song picks up the pace, the depressing mood is not lifted, quite the contrary: it has this goosebump-inducing quality to it until the very last seconds.

That’s about it. Plaguewielder is a very promising band with loads of potential to be quite prominent in the scene, and definitely not simply because they are the only ones in their musical field. While I think it would have been welcomed by their fans if there had been more new material, I think the guys did the right thing by spicing up their old material, since it sounds so much more powerful now. Generally speaking, the production is just what it should be: clean but not artificial sounding in any way whatsoever. Be sure to visit the band’s Facebook page and do yourself a favor by giving Chambers Of Death a listen when it drops on August 25th and get sucked into (your) doom!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Edi1eYhUhaI]