Capsule Slew Two: More Reviews of Randomly Selected Metal(ish) Albums

So as you will recall from part one, I went through a phase where I randomly selected albums that looked metal-ish from the bins at my local library. This is part two of that experiment. It occurred in the fall of 2010. Yes, it has taken me more than a year to post this.

Within TemptationSilent force: passable, light symphonic rock with some Celtic flavor. Lead vocalist seems a bit too thin and warbley for the high parts. She should stick to the fast tempo songs because her voice sounds pretty good when she’s angry. Best track = “It’s the Fear.” The album also serves as a reminder that many metal lyricists need to work on using concrete imagery and/or building a real narrative flow. Continue reading

Brief reactions to a slew of metal(ish) albums

It’s partially Susan M’s influence, but mostly the fact that Greg and Jim at Sound Opinions turned me on to Torche’s Meanderthal, but now whenever I go to my local library I hit the CD bins and grab three or four discs that look like they are by metal bands based on the name of the band, the name of the album and album tracks and the cover art. It’s amusing to me (but probably not surprising) how most of the time my assessment is right on. But anyway, the result has been that over the past nine months (and mainly the past four) I have received a random education in 21st century metal (with some not-exactly-in-genre intruders because of the random element)  and the beginning of a personal set of likes and dislikes. Here is a list of capsule reactions to the albums in order of listen.

Torche — Meanderthal (2008): This is the album that started me on the journey. Love the vocalist here. Exactly what I want out of a metal/hard rock album. Pretty decent lyrics. Solid songs up and down the track list. It simply rocks. Standout track is “Grenades.”

Thrice — The Alchemy Index Voumes I&II , fire and water (2007): Fire is better than water. This is epic, ambitious, pretentious stuff, but  it has its moments. Hard rock with prog elements (I don’t know what else to call it) and a bit of rap rock/thrash in places (sorta). Quiet/loud, slow/fast. Stand out track is on disc 1 Fire — “Burn the Fleet.”

The Sword — Gods of Earth (2008): With song titles like “Fire Lances of the Ancient Hyperzephyrians” and “The Frost Giant’s Daughter,” this is your typical D&D-tinged metal band. But I kinda like it. Some of the riffs seem derivative and some of the song structures don’t bring much to the table. But on the longer songs, in particular the aforementioned “The Frost Giant’s Daughter” and the 7-minute long instrumental “The White Sea” you get some interesting structure and movement and some surprising or at least interesting moments. Continue reading

Symphony X’s “Paradise Lost”: A word list

The other day I was flipping through the CD section at my local library (which I often do) and ran across an album called “Paradise Lost” by a band named Symphony X. The cover looked like it was inspired by a fantasy novel so I knew I had to check it out. I was not disappointed — when I popped the disc into my car’s CD player, out poured symphonic heavy metal. Turns out that Symphony X is a prog metal band. And yes, “Paradise Lost” was inspired by the epic Milton poem of the same name.

As I listened to the first couple of songs, I was struck by the word choice of the lyrics. Very fantasy novel. Very D&D. So for your enjoyment, I have created a selected word list for the album. I can make no claims to thoroughness as I did this rather quickly (luckily, there was a lyric sheet). Please also note that many of the concrete nouns are used in combination with other nouns and/or adjectives that might make them more figurative. Continue reading

Give Up (a short story inspired by the Postal Service album)

On the morning of Dec. 4, 2007, I listened to the Postal Service album “Give Up” for the first time. I was on the commuter bus and for some reason the combination of music and movement always spurs creative activity in my head. I had, of course, already heard the first two singles (which are also the first two tracks) from the album before. In fact, I had been obsessively listening to “The District Sleeps Tonight” for several months. As I worked through the tracks I had never heard before, I got this weird feeling that the album was science fiction. And by the time I got to “Brand New Colony” I was convinced. And then I got this image stuck in my head that turned into the phrase “Up in the Aerie, the Poet’s lover.” I dismissed it, but it returned. I thought it a bit precious, but then more started showing up. And then I got this idea. Why not write a cycle of connected short short stories based on each track on the album? I wrote a few notes on my PDA (a hand-me-down from my boss that I mainly use for calendar and tasks) and a few more when I got to work. Continue reading

Music stuff still stuck in my head from 2007

1. The lyrics from “All My Friends” by LCD Soundsystem
2. The shouts and strings on “No Cars Go” by Arcade Fire
3. The harmonies on “Falling Slowly” by The Swell Season
4. The drumming on “Pink Thoughts” by Moving Units
5. The bass line from “Two Kinds” by Film School
6. The rhymes on “Paper Planes” by M.I.A.
7. The pipe-organ on “Intervention” by Arcade Fire
8. The synths on “Knife (Covered by CSS)” by Grizzly Bear and CSS
9. The clapping on “It Started With a Mixx” by Los Campesinos
10. The intro and piano on “Sherry and Her Butterfly Net” by the The Most Serene Republic
11. The cover version of “Ceremony” by Radiohead
12. The vocal performance on “1-2-3-4” by Feist

I have to give credit to The Current’s Song of the Day for introducing me to many of the songs above.

Notice there’s no guitar work listed above. Nothing stuck. I’m willing to go back and find a guitar line that will stick in my head. Any suggestions?

NOTE: The song links go to everything from YouTube! to Last.fm to wherever I could get a good version of the work. The links to the bands go to their Web sites. I’d recommend The Most Serene Republic’s Web site in particular because they stream all their songs. Good stuff.

Current obsessions

I am one of those people who tends to develop mini-obsessions. For a few weeks or months, I’ll order the same type of thing in every restaurant I go to; listen to the same song or songs over and over; read the same genre/style of books. Anybody else do that? Maybe not. But whatever — I’m now going to subject you to my list of current obsessions. Feel free to share your own, make fun of mine, etc. Continue reading