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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: The Unbroken “Human Crown”

Brooklyn, New York-based band The Unbroken is a group that draws inspiration from several different eras of Heavy Metal while throwing in a little amount of melody to create a Heavy Metal sound that feels different than much of what is currently out there right now. The Brooklyn, New York outfit consists of: Chester on Lead Vocals and Guitar, Mark on Lead Guitar, Jeff on Bass, and Tamas on Drums. Together, the members of the band are creating music that is as good as anything on a major record label right now. The band is currently promoting their newly-released five-song EP entitled Human Crown.

Human Crown from The Unbroken begins with the track “Stuck in the Way”. As the track begins, the band launches into a Heavy Metal sound that draws inspiration from the likes of Pantera. The blistering guitars at the beginning of the song combine with the bass and drums to create music that seems to have a driving feel to it. That driving feel to the music gives the track plenty of energy. While the one guitar provides the energy, another guitar adds some nice harmony to the background of the song, giving the track depth. And when Chester adds his vocals to the track, a rather strong track is created. As the song continues, a refrain changes the feel of the music as Chester’s vocals add a little more melody to the track. The driving feel to the track changes a little later in the track as the song slows down. What results in the later moments of the song is a Heavy Metal sound that draws inspiration from the Heavy Metal of the late eighties/early nineties. At just over four minutes, “Stuck in the Way” is a very busy track with a lot of changes and a lot of energy. As the first track of the EP, the track sets the bar rather high, making the listener want to hear more.

The Unbroken slow their new release down with the next track called “Suffering in Silence”. And while the track does have a slower pace than the previous song, it’s only because of the driving nature of “Stuck in the Way”. This is not to say that “Suffering in Silence” is a slow track or one that lacks energy. Far from it. This track simply has a more moderate pace to the music. And like the later parts of the previous song, this track appears to draw inspiration from Heavy Metal from the eighties and/or early nineties. Part of the reason for that reference is because of the music itself produced by the band, part of that is because of the production quality on the track as the sound of the instruments have a timeless feel to them. The drums, in particular, give off a certain eighties vibe in the way they sound. “Suffering in Silence” is easily the track for those looking for Old School Heavy Metal.

One of the more melodic moments of the Human Crown release from The Unbroken happens on the title track of the EP. The track also features one of the slower paces of the five tracks included on the release. It is on the song that the guitar work from Chester and Mark truly shine as the two guitarists create music with lots of melody and harmony, creating a track with plenty of depth. Where the previous two songs were all about the energy of the music, it is with this song that the musicianship of the band members is truly shown off. The band has chosen to slow things down to allow for the instruments to speak for themselves. At least for the first two minutes of the song. After those first two minutes, the energy and pace of the music picks up. But the band maintains the melodic nature of the music while stepping up that energy. Guitarist and lead vocalist Chester is also featured as he adds a vocal delivery that contains a slightly stronger melodic delivery on those vocals. With the melodic nature of “Human Crown,” it is rather easy to see why this song was chosen to be the title track of the EP.

With the next track entitled “I Never Forget,” The Unbroken brings their music back to a much more energetic musical delivery, producing another Heavy Metal track with a brutal nature to its music. In fact, with this track, the musicians create one track that features one of the telltale signs of pure Heavy Metal- screeching guitars. When the previous songs had the energy, this song features those screeching guitars, as well as also containing pummeling drums from Tamas who adds plenty of energy to the track. For this song, the energetic music is matched up well with Chester’s powerful vocals. The guitar solo from Mark late in the song adds even more energy to the track.

The quartet known as The Unbroken brings their Human Crown release to a close with the track called “Nothing Left to Sell”. Much like with the title track of the release, the track of “Nothing Left to Sell” features a stronger melodic feel to the music. But unlike that particular song, this track contains a strong, driving feel to the music. It’s that balance in the melody and the energy that helps give the track its personality. While not as brutal as the previous track of “I Never Forget,” the energy level of the song creates one of the best moments on the new EP from The Unbroken.

Human Crown from The Unbroken is everything that a fan of Heavy Metal should be looking for. The strong guitars, deep bass, pummeling drums as well as strong musical deliveries and even some melodic moments add up to a five-track EP with plenty of things to satisfy fans of Heavy Metal. In fact, this is one of the strongest Metal releases I’ve heard in a long time. And it’s welcome, in my opinion.  

For more information, check out The Unbroken’s PR firm of Whiplash PR & Management by clicking on the logo for the company.

 

 

 

For a taste of the music from The Unbroken, check out their video to the song “Suffering in Silence”. 

To check out the Human Crown EP from The Unbroken, click on the album cover below: 

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Seven Against Thebes “Art of Deception”

Seven Against Thebes (also referred to as 7AT) is a 4 piece Hard Rock band from the Pacific Northwest. More specifically, the band makes its home in Seattle, Washington. Seven Against Thebes consists of band members: Rusty Hoyle (vocals), Cyrus Rhodes (guitars), Bruce Burgess (drums), Mr. Black (bass). 
This band of musicians takes their name from the play entitled Seven Against Thebes, a play which featured seven captains who were given the duty of attacking the gates of the city of Thebes in an effort to bring the city down.

The band, which takes its name from this play, creates their music by blending together styles of Rock and Roll to produce a sound that would fall into the Progressive Rock genre. Combining influences from bands such as Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden and Tool, the band incorporates other influences as well to help add even more depth to their music. Having already released a self-titled release and an EP entitled Equilibrium, Seven Against Thebes now returns with a new thirteen-track album entitled Art of Deception.

The album of Art of Deception from Seven Against Thebes begins with the track “MMXXII”. This track is strictly instrumental and features very strong guitar playing on the part of Cyrus Rhodes. The results of the blending of two separate guitar riffs in the song create a sound that is almost as strong as any Heavy Metal playing.

Once the instrumental track of “MMXXII” comes to an end, the track segues into the second track of “’Til Death Do Us Part”. The track segues out of a track with only the sound of a guitar into a track that begins with the sound of the pounding of the drums by drummer Bruce Burgess. When the rest of the band joins in, the song takes on a rather energetic pace. The guitars on the track bring to mind the double axe attack style of playing from bands like Metallica which gives the track an almost Heavy Metal-like feel. “’Til Death Do Us Part” is a strong track and kicks off the Art of Deception with plenty of energy. 

With the track “Killing Time,” the band takes a more Modern Rock approach to their music. The song falls more into an Alternative Rock feel than the Progressive Rock approach that is found on both “’Til Death Do Us Part” and the next track on the release, “Collision Course”. “Killing Time” features a musical delivery as well as a vocal delivery by singer Rusty Hoyle that takes the band’s music back almost thirty years. You could easily imagine the song being played on Alternative Rock stations in the nineties. If you were a fan of music back then, “Killing Time” will satisfy your craving for that style.

One of the more unusual tracks on the album of Art of Deception from Seven Against Thebes is the track “Mastervision”. The track begins with the bass guitar from Mr. Black. With this track, the instrument takes on a different feel as it sounds as if it has been fed through a distortion pedal. That distortion of the bass gives the track a slight Industrial feel. That Industrial feel to the music helps add to the Alternative Rock feel to the music. The track features a slightly slow pace to the music; although, the track still contains a driving feel to the music. While the music at the beginning of the track does contain a slightly different feel than most of the other tracks on the release, that sound leads into one of the most interesting moments on the release.

Yet another track that falls into the “unusual” category would be the very next song entitled “Ashes 2 Ashes”. First, the track features the sound of white noise in the background that adds texture to the track from the very beginning of the song. Aside from that white noise, one of the most unusual features of the song is the use of the bass as the main instrument of the track. And while it is the bass that runs through the entire song that the listener focuses on, the bass is also used sparingly, with a much lower note count than one would expect for a lead instrument. The minimalistic use of the bass creates a style that keeps the listener awaiting the next note as the guitar on the track does one thing- it gives the track texture. The track comes across as a song that feels like a laidback Industrial Rock song.

The title track of the album comes very late in the tracklist. Much like the track “’Til Death Do Us Part” from early in the release, “Art of Deception” is another track that contains a musical approach that brings to mind the Speed Metal style that has been such a staple in the musical delivery of Metallica. “Art of Deception” contains the same type of sound that the early stuff from Metallica had.

“Art of Deception” segues into the last track of the release called “Yama” much the way the album’s very first track of “MMXXII” segued into the song “’Til Death Do Us Part” to begin the release. The beginning seconds of the track feature an over-amplified and over-reverbed echo. That echo leads into a song that features a sound that feels like a combination of The Cure and Nine Inch Nails. The track’s Industrial feel of the music and the lyrical content truly give off the impression that the band was heavily influenced by Trent Reznor. In fact, the final line of “I’d Rather Die Upon My Feet Than Live Upon My Knees” definitely has the dark feel of Reznor’s lyrics.

Art of Deception from Seven Against Thebes is a track that contains many different musical styles and directions within its songs. For those music listeners who find themselves wishing for music that bring back the sound of early Alternative Rock, Heavy Metal, and even Industrial Rock, this release is just for you.     

 

While the band Seven Against Thebes is somewhat a mystery of sorts as very little information exists, you can find their profile on Spotify and on Sonicbids

To purchase a copy of Art of Deception from Seven Against Thebes, click on the album cover below:

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Live Rock and Roll Reviews and Suggestions

In Concert: Lower 13

The Cleveland Music Festival just finished up for 2011. During the festival sixty-five Rock and/or Heavy Metal bands were given the chance to perform for the festivalgoers in attendance. It was during the festival that I was able to check out a band that I was actually going to be writing about. That band was Lower 13.

Lower 13 is a Heavy Metal band that makes its home in Parma, Ohio (a suburb of Cleveland). The band is made up of Patrick Capretta on guitar/vocals, Sean Balog on bass/vocals and Eric Kruger on drums. This trio of young musicians creates a heavy metal sound that is in the classic style of bands like Metallica (no Rap-Metal here). It is this classic Heavy Metal style that helped push Lower 13 into the final rounds of the High School Rock-Off here in Greater Cleveland several times, so it seems that their music really does register with
people who hear it. That was very apparent on Saturday Night’s performance
during the 2011 Cleveland Music Festival.

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Features

Nothing Says ‘Love’ Like a Band Reunion

Nothing makes you wish you could win the lottery, or unexpectedly come into money some other way, like one of your favourite bands reuniting for a show. One of the ones you thought you’d perhaps never get to see live, or never again if you’d already seen them.

There is certainly a benefit of a band reuniting without putting out a new (often disappointing) release. No questioning whether or not to go to the show, worried you’ll have to endure a bunch of shitty new songs in order to hear a few of your old favourites. In addition, there are the likes of Billy Corgan  – expecting fans to be so devoted they won’t ask for the old songs that changed their lives, and reprimanding them when they do. It doesn’t seem like a fair approach somehow, even if the artist cringes at the angsty, earlier chapter of their career.

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Features

Voodoo Johnson perservere and hit the road with Europe

We all know that nothing comes easy in this world. In the music business, this is exaggerated and taken to the extreme on many occasions for so many bands. The most recent example of this that I have come across is the recent situation that Voodoo Johnson have encountered.

Late in August of last year, the band released their debut album, “10,000 Horses” (and these stallions are all pure thoroughbred heavyweight beasts).  The album was produced by Romesh Dodangoda (Motorhead, Lost Prophets, Bullet for a Valentine and many more) and is an excellent piece of kick-ass, solid rock. There are eleven tracks (actually, ten plus one bonus track!) and each of these justifies the need for the entire rock world to take a listen and prepare for the voodoo that these boys do.

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Live Rock and Roll Reviews and Suggestions

CD and Show Review: Joe Satriani “Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards”

This guitar virtuoso has been gracing our ears since 1987 with his pioneering guitar work, which is executed and produced with so much finesse. During the space of a few short years, after he began to work under his own name, Joe rapidly gained recognition as an internationally renowned guitar God. Nowadays, just about every rock fan knows just how influential Joe has been in helping to shape modern rock.

If you have read Aaron’s interview with Joe , here on The Rock and Roll Report, then you will be aware of the release of Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards earlier this month (October 5).  This is a great album and such a natural progression for this guitar orchestrator. Eleven great songs that say so much about Joe’s natural talent.

Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards differs just a little from Joe’s previous thirteen releases. This is due to the fact that Chickenfoot is now the outlet for Joe’s hard rocking side. This album rocks so well in so many ways while also exploring many musical avenues. This album was recorded in Skywalker Sound, the studio that Chickenfoot also use, and the result from this is a colossal live feel on the album. Produced and recorded by Mike Fraser (AC/DC, Metallica), Joe is joined once again by veteran Satriani drummer Jeff Campitelli, alongside newcomers Mike Keneally (keyboards – Frank Zappa, Steve Vai) and Allen Whitman (bass guitar – Mermen).

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Artists and Bands

Billy Gibbons, Jeff Beck and Jimmie Vaughan perform at Goodwood Festival of Speed 2010

Jeff, Billy, JimmieReport and photographs by Dawn Irwin/Video by Eddie Eustace

The Festival of Speed at Goodwood is renowned as the world’s largest celebration of motoring culture. With its idyllic setting in the immaculate grounds of Goodwood House, deep within the Sussex countryside, its exclusive Members Club, picnic hampers and champagne, it is also the most quintessentially British event on the motorsport calendar. For 2010, the theme was Viva Veloce! – The Passion for Speed, with two significant motor sport and automotive anniversaries also being commemorated. Namely, Alfa Romeo’s centenary and Formula 1’s 60th birthday with a momentous gathering of cars and drivers that have shaped the history of motor sport’s most glamorous series. Reigning World Champion Jenson Button, 2008 Champion Lewis Hamilton, and title contender and epitome of “Aussie Grit” Mark Webber demonstrated their skills and thrilled the crowd on the challenging white-knuckle 1.16 mile Hill Climb.

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Artists and Bands

Whiskey Six on their blues/rock fusion sound, live performances, and drinkin’ whiskey (of course)

Born from the mating of down-country blues and modern rock, Arizona quartet Whiskey Six delivers a hybrid sound that is truly unique and that resonates with fans from both genres. The band’s self-titled EP combines classic blues riffs, striking vocals, and great guitar work, so it’s no wonder it has received positive reviews and radio play from local and national media.

Chris, Mongo, Raf and Matt balance the act of staying current, while appreciating the true roots of rock music. In an era of over-the-top productions and lyrics with little meaning, Whiskey Six play the music they like and stand firmly behind what they do. Here, the band talks to us about the roots of their original sound, what fans can expect from their live shows, and more.

Q: Since it’s no secret why Whiskey Six is the name of the band, but there are now four members, can we expect a name change in the near or distant future?

A: Over a year ago, the band was just Chris, Mongo, and Raf – six testicles. It was a great name. Then Matt came along and well, we spent a lot of money on the logo, so we’re not changing the name. Unless someone wants to lose a pair, we’re keeping the name as is!

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Reviews and Suggestions

Wonderful-Lee Done!

Michael Lee – Face Forward
Self-released

Rarely do artists come along with fully-formed personalities, having boundless talent, their own sound and a complete vision of who they are, what they want to do, and how to present their talent to whoever they think is their target audience. An artist like Prince comes to mind in this respect, and though there has to be others, his is the obvious name one would recall as embodying this type of artist. While Lee does not have the hard funk sound Prince has long since settled into, Lee does compare to Prince in many ways. For one, Lee seems to have a vision for his sound. Mixing jazz, prog, and rock the same way Prince mixes soul and rock, Lee has fashioned a hybrid that no one could call totally original, but one Lee is able to use and manipulate to fashion his own sound. As Prince is able to take the R&B of James Brown and the guitar stylings of Jimi Hendrix and add a little of his own personality and come up with something new yet familiar, Lee is able to take his influences, throw a little of his own sensibilities in there and come up with something unique yet still recognizable. While not groundbreaking, Lee’s talents are quite formidable and his mastery of stringed instruments of all types and well as keyboards and percussion show Lee to be a musical prodigy capable of doing anything he wants in the music world. Also like Prince, Lee has found his own sound. Most likely due to Lee being a self-taught musician (also like Prince) Lee has his own idiosyncrasies and his own way of achieving his sound which makes it his own. He is also able to own it, not in the same way Prince flamboyantly owns his persona, but one can sense Lee’s comfort within himself as his confidence permeates the CD but doesn’t engulf it. This is a musician who labored over this album until everything was right, and once you listen, you’ll know that Lee knew it.

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Features Live Rock and Roll

Rock and Roll Photo Essay: Metallica!

Metallica-coverMetallica
Air Canada Centre
Toronto, Ontario
October 26, 2009

Seems to me the last batch of bands I’ve seen have been a then and now type of comparison that I’ve quite enjoyed studying. Seriously, out of the last dozen bands or so, most of them have I’ve seen way back when and then waited at least 10 years to see them again. Motorhead, Kiss, Helix, Headpins, GWAR, Stone Temple Pilots, Our Lady Peace… there’s probably a few more but I think you’ve heard enough already. Well you have to hear about one more. One of my all time favourite top notch acts of all time, Metallica.

Back in 85, my cousin dropped a couple albums on me and said I must try these out. They were “Kill em All” and “Ride the Lightning”. 3 notes into “Hit the Lights” and I knew I had just found the band of all bands. The most awesome sounding heavy metal unit that combined great lyrics with some totally original riffing, instrumentals and leads that would bring any musician to their knees.