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metal music reviews (new releases)

MUSHROOMHEAD The Righteous & the Butterfly

Album · 2014 · Alternative Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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Kingcrimsonprog
The Righteous & The Butterfly, from 2014, is the Cleveland Ohio Heavy Metal band Mushroomhead’s seventh full-length studio album, and their fifth album since coming to international attention with their breakthrough XX compilation album, a decade and a half ago.

Twenty years since forming the band, Mushroomhead show no decline in quality or consistency, as the ever-underrated and misjudged band continue perfecting their unique musical vision regardless of changes in the musical landscape or the band’s line-up over the years. People in-the-know have justifiably formed a dedicated cult audience for the X-faced band. For this review I won’t waste time trying to convince skeptics of the band’s value, but will instead focus towards those who already like Mushroomhead.

Prior to this record there was quite a big line-up shift, but you can hardly tell as the band barely miss a beat.In fact, this album is probably the most that the band have ever sounded alike between two studio albums, so if you liked their previous album, 2010’s excellent Beautiful Stories For Ugly Children, then this will undoubtedly be to your tastes. The similar mixture of creepy Faith No More atmosphere, simplistic catchy Pantera riffs, fat grooves, speedy double-kick sections, sparing use of female vocals and clean piano, and an increasing distance from anything Industrial that all characterized their previous album is here as well, in more or less the same ratio, to an equally high standard. There’s also an increasing amount of lead guitar and a lot less rapping than back in the early days.

Don’t feel like the lack of radical stylistic departure signals stagnation though, because that is far from the case. The quality of the material here is unquestionably high. The melodic vocals are getting even more talented. The songwriting is as memorable as ever. The production is crisp, clean and satisfyingly beefy. Its yet another very strong album of the band doing what they do best, what more could you ask for?

The album is full of fun, bouncy, bangers like “Out Of My Mind,” “Our Apologies,” and “This Cold Reign” balanced by meaty mid paced groove like “How Many Times,” “We Are The Truth” and “Worlds Collide.” The variety comes from the slower moments like “Portraits Of The Poor,” “Childlike” and “Graveyard De Jour.” Perhaps the best track is “For Your Pleasure” that combines all those aspects as it builds from slow piano to metallic groove to speedy headbanger with passionate vocals.

There are some surprises too, such as an unexpected novelty cover song of British Pop singer Adele’s “Rumour Has It” and then there’s “Son Of 7” and the aforementioned “Worlds Collide” which have sections that feel strangely reminiscent of fellow Cleveland Ohio Metal band Chimaira.

Overall; if you are into this band then you should pick this album up for sure. Everything the band do well is done well yet again, and a new set of strong, enjoyable and memorable tracks are presented here, equaling anything else in the discography so far. There’s plenty here that would stand up to the best of anything else in the live setlist. The band are on fire and just keep the quality coming. Credit where credit is due, these are some talented guys who know how to write catchy, interesting tunes. If you are a lapsed fan, this could be a great album to pick up and find out what you’ve been missing out on lately.

BLIND GUARDIAN Beyond the Red Mirror

Album · 2015 · Power Metal
Cover art 4.65 | 6 ratings
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Uncle Worm
"Beyond the Red Mirror" is the debut full-length studio album by US power/heavy metal act Blind Guardian. The album was released through Roadrune Records in January 2015 (US release). The album saw a European release through Goremind Records in February 2015. It´s not often you come across an American band, which sounds as European as these guys, but somehow Blind Guardian has tapped into the European extreme power metal vein on this debut album.

This could actually be called a thrash metal album too though (and to some degree a death metal ditto because of the lyrics and how the vocals are performed), as it features razor sharp riffing, loads of tremolo picking, and furious aggression. I read other reviews saying these guys include symphonic elements to their sound, but I hear none. In fact this album is closer to extreme metal than to power/heavy metal. When Frederik Ehmke growls and spits out his anger at the world, there´s no doubt he means it. The other guys in the band also deliver well, but especially Hansi Kürsch on the bass isn´t audible at all. What is that guy doing in the band? Oh well... I guess there is a job out there for all of us.

There´s a special Earbook version of the album on the market, which features a bonus track titled "Doom". I love a track with a name like that. It signals darkness and badass attitude, which is something Blind Guardian is the epitome of. It just doesn´t get much more raw and extreme than this. The rest of the material is slightly sub par to the "Doom" track, but hey it´s still pretty great.

The album features a pretty lo-fi sound production, which compliments the rawness of the music well. No need for a professional and polished production for music like this. This is cvlt beyond cvlt. So upon conclusion this is a damn good album by Blind Guardian. Actually what I would call a masterpiece. To think this is a debut album is incredible, and I expect great things from these young guys (and girls. Two of the members are hot looking chicks) in the future. There can be only one rating for such a great album and that´s of course 5 stars. Unfortunately MMA doesn´t allow a 6th star, because otherwise I would have given it. Buy, buy, buy. I can´t recommend it enough.

RISHLOO Living As Ghosts With Buildings As Teeth

Album · 2015 · Progressive Metal
Cover art 4.48 | 3 ratings
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Kingcrimsonprog
Living As Ghosts With Buildings As Teeth is the crowd-funded reunion album from the incredible Seattle Progressive band Rishloo. Its their fourth full-length album overall and sees the band back together now that singer Andrew Mailloux has returned to the fold and the other bandmembers changed their separate crowd-funded new instrumental band The Ghost Apparatus back into Rishloo. Its been an interesting wait as a fan, but I won’t bury the lead… that wait was well worth it!

Consisting of just eight tracks with no intros, outros or hidden bonuses, this is the bands most succinct and concise offering to date, but you can file that under fat-free and lean rather than skimping on extras.

Stylistically; if you haven’t heard the band before, they are often compared to bands like Tool, A Perfect Circle, Coheed & Cambria, The Mars Volta, Porcupine Tree, Soen, Dredg, Fair To Midland, Jurojin, Cog, Karnivool, Circe, The Mayan Factor and others. No single comparison there really does justice to what you can actually expect, but if you understand the sort of common theme between all of those bands you can at least expect the right ballpark. On top of that, Rishloo are also constantly developing and evolving, and no two of their albums sound that much alike because they progress and change over time (while always retaining a certain core identity where you can still tell its them straight away) so even their own catalogue doesn’t necessarily train you for what to expect here. This album is stylistically a million miles from their 2004 debut Terras Fames, but in a way that makes sense and feels logical.

In that spirit, Living As Ghosts With Buildings As Teeth is no simple retreading of their back catalogue, nor any attempt to sound like someone else. On this album Rishloo sound like nobody but Rishloo. Even the previous Tool comparisons bounce limply off this album like wooden arrows off a tank. Hints is all you get, the rest is new. This record sees the band mix things up even more and explore different sounds, textures and combinations. Drew tries out new voices and styles he hasn’t used before, such as the deranged sounding heavy vocals in the middle of ‘Winslow.’ There are guitar styles a past fan wouldn’t expect. Things that only came up once on a previous album are given more time.

The rhythms are more disjointed and jarring. There’s even more playing in uncommon time signatures and switching between tempos; opener ‘The Great Rain Beatle’ is particularly jagged, its unhinged and yet hypnotic like some psychedelic nightmare and makes Mars Volta comparisons more understandable… its like the most jagged parts of ‘Scissorlips’ made into an entire song. So too is the jazzier single ‘Landmines’ in its heavier sections. Although that being said, towards the end from the guitar solo onwards that kicks into some beautiful, straightforward head-banging energy.

There are also more hints of classic ‘70s Progressive Rock here than there have been on previous albums, to the point where (deep and hidden) you get feelings of almost Tales Of Topographic Oceans era Yes sounds at some stages (such as the middle of ‘Dark Charade’), and the intro to ‘Salutations’ reminds me a little of Pink Floyd’s ‘Hey You’ and ‘Don’t Leave Me Now’ updated through some Radiohead and Deftones filters. There’s also five-second bursts of King Crimson influence all over the place in spidery Fripp-esque guitar runs crammed in there every now and again by the underrated Dave Gillet. None of it is overt though, its subtle, bubbling under the surface. Hints.

Its difficult to pick album highlights in such a well-crafted, concise and consistent body of work; ‘Dark Charade’ for example has THAT riff, and afterwards kicks off into an exciting build-up that feels like the sequel to ‘Downhill’ off of the previous record and ‘Dead Rope Machine’ is just so unique, its like every song has its own identity and something completely singular to offer. Gun-to-my-head I’d have to recommend that you check out ‘Winslow’ (which people who followed the whole Ghost Apparatus period might recognize) and ‘Just A Ride’ as your tester-songs to see whether or not you’d like the album. Jesse’s drums on those two are particularly excellent. ‘Just A Ride’ is the absolute perfect ending to this roller-coaster of an album and features the defining lyrics of this whole saga. That said, the whole thing works so well as a single journey that I almost feel bad picking favourites.

There are some things you can always count on Rishloo for; Firstly – interesting, poetic, provocative, intriguing lyrics. Secondly – powerful, emotional, evocative vocal performances. There’s also always interesting, spiraling, unexpected music that will defy initial expectations but feel ‘right’ once you’re used to it. Furthermore you can count on a certain arty air of mystique and most of all, quality songwriting depth that means you never get sick of the tracks, they just get better and better with each listen. Considering all these aspects, this new album is no exception to the rule, no misstep and no weak one in the set. This album has it all; whimsy, brooding, passion, intensity, subtlety, power, aggression, chilled out moments, virtuosic moments and scaled-back serve-the-song-not-the-player moments. Its got a strong sense of diversity yet feels like one cohesive whole throughout and a single journey (or ‘ride’) from start to glorious finish.

If you are a fan of the band then you unquestionably need this satisfying grower of an album. That may be a bit of a redundant sentiment but it’s the absolute truth; I know that if you are an existing fan of the band then you probably crowd funded The Ghost Apparatus or pre-ordered the record already and got rewarded with early access downloads, so recommending it to you seems like preaching to the choir… but if you haven’t checked out the band yet, or were waiting for the reviews then by all means please do give this a chance. This album is just as good as their previous work and if you give it enough spins to reveal its subtleties and hidden depths you will be greatly rewarded.

Oh, and if you enjoy it make sure to go back and check out the rest of their records too!

ENSLAVED In Times

Album · 2015 · Black Metal
Cover art 3.75 | 2 ratings
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Nightfly
Not being much of a fan of Black Metal I didn’t pay a lot of attention to Enslaved’s earlier albums, the earliest one in my collection being 2004’s Isa. As good an album as that is, to my ears they have got better and better on each subsequent release as the prog quotient has increased to the highpoint of 2012’s Riitiir. In Times has a similar lush production to Riitiir but with just 6 tracks they have upped the prog elements even more.

Despite the prog elements Enslaved have still managed to not lose sight of their black metal roots as opener Thurisaz Dreaming certainly demonstrates coming straight in with frantic blastbeats and bassist Grutle Kjellson rasping black metal vocal style. Like the entire album the vocals alternate between Kjellson and keyboard player Herbrand Larsen’s cleaner vocal style which has improved greatly over recent releases.

While there are lighter moments extreme metal fans will be pleased to know that In Times contains some of the most brutal music I’ve heard from Enslaved, the dynamics of the songs giving the heavier sections even greater impact. The rich production does the music justice, so much better than the thin weedy sound of much black metal, the brutal riffing complimented by the lush keyboard textures. The songs twist and turn through numerous inventive changes keeping it all fresh and captivating, the eleven minute title track being particularly effective.

Fans of extreme prog metal are going to snap this one up and the bar has been set for prog metal album of the year. In Times is a stunning album that will reward with repeated listens, quite possibly their best yet. Perhaps it’s now time for me to start investigating those earlier Enslaved albums.

THE GENTLE STORM The Diary

Album · 2015 · Symphonic Metal
Cover art 4.50 | 2 ratings
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adg211288
The Diary (2015) is the debut full-length album by Dutch duo The Gentle Storm. The Gentle Storm is the new project of Ayreon mastermind Arjen Anthony Lucassen and is a collaboration with singer Anneke van Giersbergen (ex-The Gathering, Agua de Annique). Anneke has also appeared on the Ayreon albums Into the Electric Castle (1998) and 01011001 (2008) so the two aren't exactly strangers to working together. The Diary, as usual for a Lucassen release, is a double album. The big difference this time is that, as a musician evidently willing to keep trying new things, The Diary is actually two different versions of the same set of eleven songs.

Similarly to how the Ayreon albums The Dream Sequencer (2000) and Flight of the Migrator showcase a soft and a heavy side of Arjen's music, The Diary features both a Gentle album and a Storm album to do much the same thing. The Gentle album is based around folk music while the Storm album features more familiar metal territory, although more in a symphonic metal vein than Lucassen's usual progressive metal fare.

I've actually been wanting hear what Lucassen could come up with using a folk based context, so I've actually found myself more interested in The Diary's Gentle version at first despite being a fan of metal first and foremost. The band have taken their influences for this version mainly from Celtic and Asian folk music. Anneke's voice is a perfect fit for this style; absolutely beautiful. It's pretty much everything I could have wanted from a folk album by Arjen Lucassen. The Storm version of the album really gives it a run for its money though. You've still got the folk element in there but the epic symphonic arrangements prove equally strong and suited to Anneke's singing. The riffs turn towards power metal a couple of times in this version, first in Cape of Storms and then again and more notably in The Storm. The album's Storm version isn't 100% heavy though, The Moment on this version for example is also largely light though still a different arrangement to the actual Gentle version. It's normal for symphonic metal albums to include something like this, but in this case it does rather defeat the purpose of the exercise in my opinion.

I've come up with the following as my personal preference for a merged version of the album, though this was hard to do as there are a couple of tracks like Heart of Amsterdam, Shores of India and The Storm where it could have gone either way and my final choices were based on the narrowest of margins, such as the (Gentle) Heart of Amsterdam's top notch folk melodies or (Storm) The Storm's use of power metal riffs.

Endless Sea (Storm) Heart of Amsterdam (Gentle) The Greatest Love (Storm) Shores of India (Storm) Cape of Storms (Storm) The Moment (Gentle) The Storm (Storm) Eyes Of Michiel (Gentle) Brightest Light (Storm) New Horizon (Gentle) Epilogue: The Final Entry (Gentle)

So as you can see my split is roughly even between both versions. This isn't to say that although I've made a clear choice between each version of the songs, other than those three more difficult decisions mentioned above, that the other is an inherently lesser version of course, though I will probably always question the so called Storm version of The Moment so not being that heavy until the closing moments (no pun intended). They're both excellent albums and that's what makes it difficult to choose between them. On one hand the folk album is something I wanted to hear from Arjen Lucassen but on the other the metal album is him doing what he does best in a slightly new way. Of course Anneke sounds excellent on both so the final call really comes down to the music and it's quality.

I honestly really can't choose. I'm pretty clear on which I prefer when regarding Ayreon's The Dream Sequencer and Flight of the Migrator, it's the first one every time, but a decision regarding The Diary is not so clear cut. But hey good news, you get both for the price of one, so The Diary is a win-win debut from The Gentle Storm. I'm going to go with 4.5 stars; it doesn't quite stand up to Arjen's best work, but this is an excellent collaboration with an amazing vocalist and I think fans of either of them are going to love it as much as I do.

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PAX Pax

Album · 1970 · Proto-Metal
Cover art 2.51 | 3 ratings
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voila_la_scorie
Pax is the band project of guitarist Enrique “Pico” Ego Auirre Pajuelo of Peru. He originally played in a band called Los Shain’s in the 1960’s and later formed Los Nuevos Shain’s as he wanted to record heavier music which was not what Los Shain’s had been doing. Though music from Europe and the U.S. was not easy to come by, it seems Pico had a good ear to the ground as Los Nuevos Shain’s sole album of 1969 included a cover of an early version of Black Sabbath’s “Wicked World”. Soon after, Pico and members changed the band’s name to Pax, which is peace in Spanish.

As Pax, the band recorded a single in 1969, “Firefly” b/w “Resurrection of the Sun”. They followed this up with their sole album of the 70’s, “May God and Your Will Land You and Your Soul Miles Away from Evil”. Yes, I know. Long title. Heavily influenced by Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck and the Yardbirds, Blind Faith, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and other bands who were part of the “creative force of the 70’s”, Pax tried to write music that reflected their influences. Around 1973 they recorded some cover songs including “Smoke on the Water”, “Radar Love” (by Golden Earring), “Dark Rose” (by Brainbox), “Mr. Skin” (by Spirit), and “Exorcism” (by Billy Cobham). Rock was not in favour with the military government and by 1974 Pico had to let Pax fold. He revived it again in the 80’s and once more in the 00’s. The band is still said to be active today.

The version of the album I have includes the entire debut plus the first single and b-side as well as the covers from c.1973. These were previously released on an album entitled “Dark Rose” which apparently included most of the debut’s songs. So this is a pretty complete set of songs to get from what I can see.

The album indeed reflects the band’s and Pico’s various influences. The single “Firefly” and the debut’s opening track “A Storyless Junkie” are very Sabbath influenced which is pretty surprising since they were recorded in ’69 and ’70 respectively. The guitar is heavy, the riffs doomy, and the solos very Iommi inspired. “Pig Pen Boogie” is likely the heaviest song tone for tonne, even though it starts off sounding like a blues boogie rock song. It’s just too ridiculously heavy to be one. Other tracks that fit the proto-metal and heavy psychedelic bill are “Deep Death”, which doesn’t begin so menacingly but features a simple but doom-laden part that crops up in three places, and the obviously Hendrix inspired “Sittin’ on My Head”.

Other songs from the album include the good-time piano and guitar rock and roll number “Rock an’ Ball”, the acoustic hippie track “Green Paper (Toilet)”, The Beatles to Led Zeppelin inspired acoustic / electric number “For Celia” and the short but very silly “Shake Your Ass”. “Firefly”’s b-side “Resurrection of the Sun” is like a slow and heavy Uriah Heep number with a drenching of Hammond organ.

Up to here, the music is quite good and really rocking in places but the sound quality is rather muddy. The heavy guitar and drums are behind the higher tones like vocals and high hat, and the bass sounds either really loud in the mix or hard to notice. Recording quality aside, this is pretty darn good proto-metal. The lyrics are in English and there’s no discernable Spanish accent. They have a nice rough edge to them that suits the musical style.

The bonus tracks have a much better sound quality, and though songs like “Smoke of the Water” and “Radar Love” have nothing new brought to them, they are very good covers. “Exorcist” and “Dark Rose” feature some very heavy and funky music with some blazing even shredding guitar solos.

This is a remarkable amalgamation of proto-metal influences. If the recording quality were only better on the tracks from ’69 and ’70 we’d really have a fantastic bit of work to discuss. However, if you don’t mind the low-fi quality then this is still worth hearing. I think it’s pretty incredible that heavy metal took on so quickly in a country that seems very unlikely to have been able to support it at the time. Searching for “Pax may god and your will” on Google brought up only about 12 hits and most of them are in Spanish. But there’s a translation to English of a more recent interview with Pico at Blogspot’s “psychedelicbaby” and the web site “The Day After the Sabbath” has a feature on Peruvian rock from the 60’s and 70’s which mentions and features music by Los Nuevos Shain’s and Pax.

KREATOR Endless Pain

Album · 1985 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 3.05 | 16 ratings
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siLLy puPPy
KREATOR emerged from Essen, German in 1982 but was known as Tormentor until 1985 and are cited as being influential along with other early German thrash bands like Destruction, Sodom and Tankard in pioneering death metal with several early elements that later separated the two into subgenres. The debut album ENDLESS PAIN came out in the mid-80s and was clearly inspired by acts such as Venom but there is still a lot of traditional metal making its way into the mix as well such as the Judas Priest sounding “Storm Of The Beast.” ENDLESS PAIN also has the honor of being seen as a pivotal album for black metal bands as well for on this album guitarist Mille Petrozza and drummer Jürgen Reil share vocal duties and although they can sound like classic thrash vocalists most of the time, there are tracks like “Total Death,” “Flag Of Hate” and “Bone Breaker” that sound more like the shrieks and screams that the second wave of black metal would utilize for the darkening effect of the atmosphere, therefore ENDLESS PAIN has two honorable mentions for its influential qualities.

KREATOR is a band i got into late in their game and pretty came to this debut after hearing the much better ones that follow. Sometimes when i delve into the origins of a band i find i actually really like the less popular early ones better for they can be more experimental and bold in their approach. ENDLESS PAIN is bold in its approach and was probably quite the shocking aggressive fury for its time but at this point KREATOR were still getting their feet wet as a band and although the energy level is on full fire, the creativity flame is still in need of some kindling. While i don’t find this debut release to be awful despite the poor quality production even on the remastered versions, i don’t find it to be in the top league of thrash metal albums outdone by KREATOR themselves starting with their second release “Pleasure To Kill.” Nevertheless i do like to periodically listen to this one for it has a distinct proto sound to it that intrigues me.

RISHLOO Feathergun

Album · 2009 · Alternative Metal
Cover art 5.00 | 1 rating
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Kingcrimsonprog
Rishloo are a fantastic and utterly underrated modern progressive band from Seattle. They mix pounding rhythmic buildups and vocally led alternative rock styles with progressive attitudes, effects laden guitar sections and virtuosic musical displays, all in a concise and grand manner coupled with particularly intelligent and evocative lyrics.

The band are perhaps most famous for Tool and A Perfect Circle comparisons, but there is a lot more to the band than simply homage to the unique and oft imitated talents of Maynard James Keenan, Adam Jones, Justin Chancellor and Danny Carey (although if you listen carefully, it is easy to pick up on just that; for each member and their specific tones and styles, especially because Rishloo feature rhythmic and emotive vocals that use of lot of long sustained shouts over musical transitions.)

While Rishloo write artistic and creative music suited to fans of progressive rock, the music falls more on the commercial and listenable alternative rock end of the prog spectrum than on the dense, challenging and difficult end. There aren’t twenty-minute songs played at 30bpm full of drills, grotesque film samples and dissonant organs; just intelligent and interesting music written and performed by very talented individuals.

I would urge anyone who is a fan of bands talented and focused like Dredg, Amplifier, The Mars Volta, Coheed And Cambria or The Dear Hunter to try out Rishloo and see if they suit you, chances are you will not be disappointed.

Feather Gun is the band’s third full length studio album and sees an evolution and honing of the band’s sound, moving away (apart from on the brilliant opener ‘Scissorlips’) from easy Tool comparisons and further into a sound that is wholly Rishloo. Additionally, for a band who aren’t particularly well known the production job and performances are absolutely sublime, the album sounds amazing and is a genuine delight to listen to.

For the most part the songs are shorter and lighter than on their second album Eidolon, but still more adventurous, powerful and progressive than on their debut album Terras Fames. Highlights include the faster ‘Systematomatic,’ the cinematic ‘River Of Glass,’ and the excellent mixture of light and shade that is ‘Turning Sheep Into Goats.’ That being said however, the two longer tracks, ‘Downhill’ and ‘Weevil Bride’ are two of the most interesting and intense moments in the band’s entire career and I’d highly recommend that if you have never heard the band but suspect you might like them, you at least try those two songs.

This is the sort of album you can utterly lose yourself in, the sort of album that you don’t listen to absently, you really engage with it, willing it on through its many evocative twists and turns like when it bursts from a serene soft section into distortion and screaming or equally when it is driving forward with real momentum and then suddenly sours and stops almost as if the song were a film and the director chose this point for the main character to suddenly die totally shocking the audience as it cuts to his funeral and taking the story in an unexpected direction. You listen to the songs over and over again and understand or interpret them differently multiple times, discovering new favourite parts on almost every single listen, and sometimes being genuinely taken aback by the sheer emotive weight of the lyric-and-vocal-delivery combo.

In summary; Feather Gun is a brilliant record from a truly underrated band that fans of other modern progressive artists should really explore. All of their albums so far have been strong and Feather Gun is no exception, if you have any interest in Rishloo pick up a copy, you will not be anywhere close to disappointed.

RISHLOO Eidolon

Album · 2007 · Alternative Metal
Cover art 4.50 | 1 rating
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Kingcrimsonprog
Rishloo are an exciting and hugely impressive modern progressive band from Seattle, USA. Their sound is a very powerful and mixes soft haunting sections of what could be described as poetic beauty, with harsh and heavy build ups, unusual patterns and complex instrumental sections.

The band can often get compared to Tool because of the similarities in the vocal department, and indeed if you do enjoy Maynard James Keenan’s voice and vocal patterns then Rishloo are definitely a proposition you should explore. Musically; there are some very clear and audible influences from Lateralus era Tool as well, especially on this album, but the band aren’t simply a Tool rip off.

Their sound comes with more light and sweet moments and travels into other territories, perhaps like A Perfect Circle and even certain less obvious parts of Coheed And Cambria’s sound. The best way to explain it is that each musician plays and uses tones and equipment similar to Tool, but the songwriting is quite different.

For example, the track ‘Alchemy Alice,’ has some very Maynard-esque vocals when the song gets loud and heavy towards the end, but the track ‘Freaks & Animals,’ is unlike anything Tool would ever write, in the same way that Mastodon and Neurosis share very audible and direct similarities but go about songwriting is utterly different ways.

When you get past who they do or don’t sound like however, this is an utterly superb album, tracks like ‘Eidolon Alpha,’ and ‘Disco Biscuit,’ are dynamic and powerful examples of superb musicianship and extreme talent. From occasional touches of piano, to effects laden bass-guitar and disjointed hi-hat triplet lead beats and odd time signatures, Rishloo provide a brilliant listening experience.

Eidolon is the second studio album from Rishloo, and sees the band getting more direct and focused, with more frequent heavy moments and songwriting which is more memorable and professional than their previous works whilst still retaining musical complexity. Put simply; it is a fantastic record, absolutely fantastic!

This is one of the most instantly enjoyable records I have heard in the last few years, and got put on repeat pretty much from the time I discovered it. If you like Progressive music, especially modern progressive music then I strongly urge you to give Rishloo a listen.

RISHLOO Terras Fames

Album · 2004 · Alternative Metal
Cover art 3.50 | 1 rating
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Kingcrimsonprog
Rishloo are a modern progressive band from Seattle who frequently draw comparisons with bands like Tool and A Perfect Circle for vocal similarities and Dredg, Amplifier, The Mars Volta, Coheed And Cambria or The Dear Hunter basically just by virtue of them playing modern progressive music without sounding too much like any of the 1970s Prog bands.

Terras Frames is the band’s debut full length studio album, released in 2004, and obviously being the debut of a relatively unknown band doesn’t have the most amazing production job in the world, at least compared to their later work or the releases of bigger, richer bands.

Compared to the two releases which would follow it, Terra Fames is a lot more restrained and normal sounding both in terms of progressive moments and metal sounding moments; the band don’t use as complicated structures or as many guitar effects or experimental tracks and generally write comparatively quite straight forward music throughout.

The album also doesn’t flirt with heavy moments and screaming in the same way as those that followed it as a general rule, and while there are a few big moments such as on ‘Seven Rings Left,’ they don’t have the same explosive power and ferocity as the biggest moments on their later work have.

Despite the fact that their later work took things much farther, and are some of the genuinely best and most exciting records out there, that does not in anyway mean that Terras Fames is in any way even approaching being a bad record. Tracks like the powerful ‘The Water Is Fine,’ with its impressive drumming, as well as the fabulous ‘Illumination,’ and the album closer ‘Fames,’ are well worth the time of any listener and illustrate the vast potential of the band even at this early stage in their career.

The band’s very strong talent shines through on Terra Fames and the lyrics are just as perfectly formed and impressive as on all their later work. The record is very pleasant to play from beginning to end and nothing on it seems particularly weak or out of place, there are lots of interesting musical ideas on offer and impressive musicianship throughout. Anything from this record would sound great on a compilation or live set amongst their later work as importantly it all still feels like Rishloo.

Overall; Terras Fames is something you should definitely pick up once you are a fan of Rishloo, perhaps not the best choice for your first Rishloo album, but still absolutely worth trying. The only criticism one could fairly level at the record at all is that the albums that would follow are better, but that is more of a compliment in favor of those records rather than a problem with Terra Fames.

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