Tag Archives: Canada

The Agonist – The Eye Of Providence

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The remaining band members of The Agonist seem a bit lost without Alissa White-Gluz. At least that’s what I thought when I heard their new album The Eye Of Providence for the first time. I have to admit, that there are some interesting riffs on the new album, the pounding drums are fine as well and the new singer Vicky Psarakis definitely knows how to cast her magic spell on you with her brilliant voice. But somehow it’s not only the vocals that have changed… It seems as if the whole line up is different on this record.

Let me explain what I mean: As mentioned in the beginning, there are indeed some really cool riffs on The Eye Of Providence (e.g. Gates Of Horn And Ivory, Faceless Messenger, Perpetual Notion, Follow The Crossed Line). However, I do feel quite a lack of innovation throughout the whole album. The riffs are often quite boring, repetitive and even pop-like. And many times, the guitars only sound like some sort of background noise, especially during Vicky’s choruses. Maybe they did that on purpose in order to be able to show off her awesome voice…

Apart from the riffs themselves, the structure of the songs is quite different on the new The Agonist album. Compared to the previous albums, the song structures have been simplified as well. The Agonist have become a bit less progressive and are now sticking a bit more to the typical verse-bridge-chorus structure. Since this is a matter of taste, I’m not going to comment on whether that is a positive or a negative change.

Another thing that has changed is the sound of the band as a whole. Not only has the percentage of the clean vocals been upped a lot, also the guitars sound a bit more polished. I haven’t checked out the old stuff especially for the purpose of this review, but I think I remember the guitar sound to be a bit more aggressive and tuned down a bit more.

I tip my hat to Vicky though. She truly has an amazing voice and can easily poison your heart with her soulful clean vocals. She also does know how to scream and growl but Vicky’s unclean vocals can’t compare to Alissa’s, which might just be the reason why there’s more clean vocals on this new The Agonist album. This will probably also disappoint one or the other fan.

All in all I can’t say that The Eye Of Providence is a bad album! It can actually get you going at some points. However, the points that I mentioned in the article will probably disappoint old school fans. But maybe they changed with the goal to attract a new audience… It’s clear that this album is definitely more suitable for the masses.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urcLhku0I7Y]

This review was written by our Freelancer David from The Metal Diplomat!

Tanya Tagaq – Animism

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I’ll be honest: today’s album is probably the weirdest shit I’ve ever listened to…but it’s good shit. Tanya Tagaq specializes in throat singing, a technique I had never ever heard of before this, which in itself is quite, for lack of a better word, special…but if you add eery and repetitive instrumentation to it, it reaches a whole new level of weird. After having a remarkable success in Canada, her album Animism is seeing a European release on January 26th…so let’s see what’s so special about it.

At the risk of sounding like an utter racist and offending an entire culture, let me say this: if I had to describe the Inuit throat singing, which is the core of these forty-nine minutes, I would compare it to a mixture of sounds that someone who suffers from severe lung cancer, coupled with extreme psychological disorders, while under the influence of strong narcotics, would emit. And I absolutely love it. In the process of discovering the album, I’ve looked into the technique a bit and it requires extreme skill as well as absolute mastery of one’s vocal chords, which I deeply respect and admire.

While the throat singing is definitely the major element of these eleven tracks, the instrumental backdrop is genuinely intriguing as well. It is comprised of several “classic” instruments, as well as electronic beats and while, or maybe because, it is fairly monotonous, it sucks you in and keeps you glued to your seat. Her regular singing is worth mentioning too, since it adds another layer to this multifaceted record.

While this review did turn out to be quite short, I honestly can’t tell you much more…because it’s really terribly difficult to describe what the listener of Animism is going through. Nevertheless, it’s one hell of a freaky “am I on acid or is this real?”-musical trip, provided you immerse yourself completely in what it has to offer. Be sure to visit her Facebook page and give the song below a listen, but be aware that it’s nowhere near the level of mind-boggling that can be experienced if you listen to the entire album!
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0o5StBRPOI0]

LIGHTS – Little Machines

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Let’s get one thing out of the way before we start: I don’t like pop. Generally-speaking, the pop industry is filled with one-hit-wonders that perform songs they had no input in and desperately try to appeal to the masses…just not my cup of tea. There is, however, one exception that goes by the name of LIGHTS. The talented Canadian singer has just released her third full length called Little Machines and proves yet again that pop can be highly enjoyable, diverse and, for the most part, self-written.

Three years after her second record, during which she got married and became a proud mother, the young singer has further evolved her trademark synthesized sound and reduced the dubstep elements that were predominant on Siberia. The genuine-feeling drive and the dreamy vibe that, to me, made her music so agreeable in the past is still present and, frankly speaking, it feels good to have new material.

The eleven song record opens with the song Portal which achieves a feeling of full immersion due to its hypnotic rhythm and softly sung vocals. And after that you are greeted by mostly upbeat songs that will not let you off the hook until the album is over. I do have to admit that on the instrumental side there are less passages that will be imprinted in your memory from the get-go, as was the case on the predecessors. But then again, I believe that the aim was not to necessarily create “hit material” but rather an authentic listening experience.

Truth be told, my personal selling factor about LIGHTS‘ music has and will always be her brilliant voice. Despite the usage of slight vocal effects and minimal pitch correction, they sound real and heartfelt…and if you’ve ever checked out her acoustic material, you know that the girl can sing just as perfectly without any computer help. On her previous records, I was always able to identify with most of the lyrics in one way or another and this is still the case, even though it’s not as strong as in the past. However, I dare you to find lines as cleverly written as during these thirty-eight minutes on any other pop record.

There is not much more I can tell you other than: even if you’re not a big fan of pop, or actually have a strong aversion to it, Little Machines is worth checking out because it’s not your run off the mill pop record. Watch the video to get an idea of what her music is all about and head over to Facebook for more information. And, even though I’ve said it before: always give music a chance, even if it’s not your home turf, because you never know what can touch you.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFl7DhdGGzo]

Each Other – Being Elastic

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Ladies and gentlemen, today I bring you unconventionally charming indie rock by Each Other all the way from Montreal! I’ve only recently discovered their 1-and-a-half-year-old Heavily Spaced and have been listening to the small collection relentlessly for the past weeks. Upon further research, I found out that the guys released a LP entitled Being Elastic in March this year, and naturally came straight to my cosy lil’ El Gore music corner to write about it.

The first thing that hit me while listening to Each Other is how much they remind me of Women, another art/experimental rock band from Canada that struck a nerve with me in a really unique way a few years back. Something about wonky guitars and unhinged, progressive, outlandish musical structures instantly captures my attention and rarely lessens its grip on me over time.

The raw and garage-y vibe of Being Elastic is certainly conjured up, at least in part, by the fact that the Canadian trio recorded it to tape in their home-built studio during breaks between touring; they also just seem to have a penchant for it, as this exact characteristic in combination with the off-kilter nature of the songs is their unmistakable trademark. However, the tracks on Being Elastic seem to have a longer attention span than Each Other‘s previous tunes, which are filled with an exciting sense of urgency. There are still moments of nervous upheaval on this record, but it makes for a more level-headed ensemble. It releases its energy in bursts, with attention to detail, rather than coming at you like a full-on explosion of sound.

There’s also a distinct element of pop skilfully incorporated into the sonic whirlwind that is this album. Its cheery undertones make it appropriately summery to listen to while driving with windows down, but it at no point degenerates into a fluffy cliché — another testament to Each Other‘s creative prowess.

So, fans of adventurous, distorted, jangly, healthily and artfully fucked-up pop/rock: do not miss this band. You can stream Being Elastic for free on Soundcloud, Bandcamp and Spotify, and pay the band a visit on Facebook if you like!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBe6D8QnMeA]

Cauldron – Chained to the Nite

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When I was a little child there was one record, my former all-time favourite, which made me imagine that my playroom was an oversized drum kit. So just before joining my mother and father for the weekly Saturday evening game show, I took the Playmobil pirate ship’s mast and circus tent’s middle pole and drummed through my room like a maniac who forgot to take his Ritalin. Later on I switched to the air guitar and played amazing imaginary gigs in my room every Saturday night.

Why do I tell you this? Because, every time I listen to Cauldron‘s Chained to the Nite, I become this professional air guitar player from my oh so precious childhood again.

Cauldron, formed out of the ashes of Goat Horn, is part of the New Wave Of Traditional Heavy Metal scene and released their debut full-length album in 2009. It quickly became one of my favourite heavy metal records, simply because there is not even one mediocre song on it. The melodies go right into your auditory canal, even after the first listen, and make you tap your foot to every single song. The three-piece Canadian band certainly didn’t invent anything new but they are hungry, loud and, most importantly of all, genuine without taking themselves too seriously.

All in all, Chained to the Nite has everything some 80s metal bands used to dream of back in the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal years. As I already said, the melodies are catchy and Ian Chains provides one classic staccato metal riff after the other. Together with the clean and kind of unique vocals, old-school solos and polished, crystal clear production, Cauldron delivers an effective traditional heavy metal record which I can’t stop listening to.

If you’re into the metal revival movement, you shouldn’t pass up this brilliant record filled with fast, aggressive and slow earworms!

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

Trash Monday LXXXVII

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“Although the Nail lineup consists of veterans of internationally successful recording/touring acts, the group is currently unsigned and remains independently managed. NAIL official website is www.nailband.com” (source:nailband.com)

Can somebody please tell me why this amazing Canadian progressive heavy rock/metal band is still unsigned??

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOWmgtqOqhw&feature=youtu.be]

Counterparts – The Difference Between Hell And Home

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If you had asked me a few months ago to recommend you a melodic hardcore band I would have had to tell you that I really don’t know any good ones; maybe I would have told you that Close Your Eyes might be something for you…but today I can confidently tell you that Counterparts are the band that you must absolutely check out. Specifically their new record The Difference Between Hell And Home.

To cut to the chase: the five Canadians have even further improved their musical prowess in comparison to the predecessor The Current Will Carry Us. Every single and drumbeat sounds just right and contributes to making the entirety of the eleven songs a beautiful masterpiece. Which results in the fact that both the heavy and melodic parts go hand in hand as if they were best friends, so to speak, without following the good old “melodic-breakdown-heavy” formula. The production is, I would say, the most balanced one out of their three endeavors thus far: every instrument is clearly audible and well accentuated.

The main selling point, to me, for Counterparts are their very strong lyrics…this has always been the case and it didn’t change on this album. Writing about them wouldn’t do them justice, so I strongly urge you to give them a thorough listen, or preferably read them in the booklet. At least to me they feature a lot of topics that I can personally identify with, whether that is good or not is not for me to tell.

To wrap it up: if you have never really given the genre a chance because you were unsure where to start…look no further. TDBHAH is hands-down as close as it gets to being a perfect representation of this type of music. But, as I said above, you only get the full experience if you pay attention to the message as well. For more info you can visit the band’s Facebook page and get an impression by watching the video below. To quote the people from South Park: blame Canada…for good music in this case.

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

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]

Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!

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Postrock is dead! Deal with it. The only thing that sucks more is to revive a defunct post hardcore band from the late 90’s and play at Loolapallooza or Rock Am Ring.

Honestly, I really don’t know where to start here. Godspeed You! Black Emperor are one of my all-time favourite postrock bands and they have been on an indefinite hiatus since 2002. With Yanqui U.X.O. (released in 2002) , they disappointed their fans and did not meet the expectations after they set the bar to an unattainable height with their legendary record Lift your skinny fists like antennas to heaven, so going on hiatus or disbanding would have been the logical consequence, as GY!BE achieved everything there was to achieve and said everything there was to say, as a monumental political band.

Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! is not that bad, though. The first song Mladic contains every known ingredient in GY!BE’s songwriting but lacks any big surprises. It starts with wiry samples of a radio conversation, gets over to what I call uninspired riff rocking hence the rhythm and aggressiveness and ends in an epical orchestral climax in best GY!BE manner. As far as I recall Mladic used to be Albanian and We drift like worried fire used to be Gamelan, 2 songs from their live repertoire back in the past.

There’s not much to add to Their Helicopters Sing and Strung Like Lights At Thee Printemps Erable. 2 tormenting interludes between 2 tracks that last for 20 minutes is nothing new here.

We drift like worried fire is my personal highlight. It’s got the melancholia I know from older songs like Sleep from Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven and a lot of variation. It’s chaos and control in every single aspect though the only thing missing is the big bang, the moment that gives you shivers down your spine. We drift like worried fire is a good GY!BE song, don’t get me wrong, Godspeed You! Black Emperor dominate the loud / quiet game unlike any other band but the song is too cranky to arouse deep emotions.

All in all, Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! is an okay record, not the best but also not the worst. It saddens me to see one of my all time favourite bands coming back, trying to give a sign of life even though their momentum and zenith has been over 10 years ago and post rock has been over used for longer than Michael Jackson’s demise, especially when both main tracks are re-interpretations from former live tracks. Next!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wP6-wlhviKw]

Razor – Shotgun Justice

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Easily one of the best thrash metal albums ever unleashed upon mankind. The sheer speed and hatred gives Reign in Blood a run for its money, but first things first….

When it comes to Razor you can do no wrong, pick whatever album you can find and your butt will be handed to you. Sadly half of their discography is impossible to find and cost me a fortune on eBay. Shotgun Justice was my introduction to the band and is my favorite. This is easily one of the most aggressive records ever, the lyrics might be tongue-in-cheek, but the band actually has the balls to address certain issues other bands would be scared to acknowledge. Stabbed in the Back instantly comes to mind, a song where the band calls out on all the sellouts and posers changing their sound to appeal to mainstream audiences.

Listen to Violence Condoned to get an idea on how the band was dealt with by promoters or how about American Luck showcasing how being Canadian penalized the band in more than one way?

Razor releasing an aggressive album did not come as a surprise, after all, all their albums are aggressive and fast, but the band was in turmoil. Label problems and the vocalist leaving along with the scene changing, not to mention the problems that being an underground band brings along, didn’t help matters. At a time when every band (minus Slayer) either broke up or changed its sound Razor come along with their fastest record ever.

So you have Razor more pissed off than ever dealing out, and that is a perfect starting point for a thrash metal record. Each riff sounds like a…well a razor shredding its way in one ear, out the other.

Bob Reid spits out the lyrics in a fitting manner while Rob Mills closes every gap with his drums.

Much like Slayer, Razor are punk gone metal, meaning they have the chops to actually sound menacing unlike most sloppy punk bands out there doing their bubblegum pop, but I digress…

Heck, even the linernotes are pissed off and full of warnings and threats. Every time I listen to the album I can’t help but grin like an undertaker, it just has all those elements that aggressive music needs to have and so many great moments, every song is awesome or just so freaking fast.

Brass Knuckles deserves a mention for the awesome break, before all hell breaks loose.

The Pugilist has just one of those riffs (that can be found allover the album) before the song ends in total chaos.

Miami has a weird title and even weirder lyrics. Totally hilarious and it just hands out riff after riff, at high velocity I might add.

The album is impossible to get on Cd, unless you wanna pay as much as I did, or you happen to come across one of the Russian bootlegs. However it has been re-released on vinyl, twice, in the last couple years. It seems as though the first vinyl re-release is hard to find (guess I was lucky) but the Highroller Records re-release is allover eBay, albeit with an ugly modified cover.

Let me finish this review with my favorite lyric

“All the bands I used to like are going down the drain
What the hell has happened here, have they gone insane?
I used to think that heavy bands ignored the current trends
But once you’ve been in Rolling Stone you learn about your friends”

and a quick fix
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdUPozwAaa4]