It’s been a curious week, as I have received not one but two promotional CDs! These days the promotional efforts of artists and labels center around digital delivery and the flood of links to download material is endless, way too much for anyone to handle. I totally understand that it’s way cheaper to use digital services, especially considering the ever-growing shipping costs. But then again, the physical product will surely get a bit more attention than a link among dozen others.
The first album came all the way from the States, and it’s called ”Inland Empire” by ECHO US. It’s a one-man project by Ethan Matthews, apart from bass guitars on one track he’s played and sung everything on the album.
I’m a not a major progressive rock fan, but I’m enjoying this album more than initially thought I would. It’s immaculately produced and played, and the overall vibe of it is relaxing and soothing. There are some very enjoyable melodic compositions here, and while this can be filed under ”prog”, I wouldn’t say it’s difficult or too complicated for anyone to enjoy. Sure, some of the songs are a bit weird and chant-like, but even in those songs there’s something strangely appealing. https://www.facebook.com/echous.net/
ANCIENT FLAME are from Finland, and they also sent me a CD to check out. ”Blood Stained The Barren Land” is their debut album, and they describe it as ”traditional melodic heavy metal with some oriental influences.” The band has two very capable vocalists in Petteri Urmas and Kirsimarja Alonen, with voices that compliment each other quite nicely. Their music is somewhere between Black Sabbath and Nightwish, and at times their songs reminded me of the Christian Metal band HB, musically that is. The oriental themes here and there add a little spice to the songs and go well with the lyrical themes about Sumer and Babylonia etc.
The fact the album opens and closes with heavy and pounding songs might explain why the overall feel of it is rather heavy and gloomy. There are uptempo songs on it, but the slower ones seem to dominate. I guess this a recommendation to some, as this certainly isn’t ”happy metal” with sing-along choruses! Not that it should be, I just enjoy my metal a bit more melodic, one might even say ”cheesy”. ”Blood Stained The Barren Land” is one for the True Metal fans.
COLD DROP from Denmark have their debut album on the way, to be released in February on Lions Pride Music. They contacted me and asked politely whether I could check it out. Well, they caught me at a good time and I promised to do that… They play no-frills hard rock, think Gotthard, AC/DC with a melodic twist, Tyketto… Good vocals, solid playing and production. My favourite songs are the mid-tempo ”Broke My Heart” and the opener ”Sweet Lucille”. The band does not get any extra credit for song titles though - they’ve got both ”Looking For Love” and ”Hold On” on the album! :)
Back in the AOR land, there’s been a few new things I want to write about. REVOLUTION SAINTS has gone through some line-up changes, and now Dean Castronovo is joined bu Joel Hoekstra on guitars and Jeff Pilson on bass. The first single from this ”2.0” version is out, and it’s called ”Eagle Flight”. I think the song is good and Castronovo’s great vocals are always a joy to listen to. Still, I hope there are even better songs on the forthcoming album.
KHYMERA is back. I’ve been a fan of this project since the second album, when Dennis Ward became the vocalist. New album ”Hold Your Ground” is due early next year, and I can’t wait. The first single ”Firestarter” is very promising.
One of the potential albums of the year 2022 is the debut from Swedish band REMEDY. The release date is Dec 16 so it’ll probably make a bigger impact only next year though. So far they’ve released two songs, ”I Want To Have It All” and ”Scream In Silence”. I’ve heard one additional track which is easily as good as the other two, so I have really high hopes for the album, titled ”Something That Your Eyes Won’t See”.
Moving away from AOR, there’s been a major new metal single, the talk of the town… yes, I’m talking about ”Lux Aeterna” by METALLICA. I just had my first listen, and… the bass drum sound is very intruding! The song itself is fast-paced and energetic, not bad. Not that memorable though.