Weend’ô – You Need To Know Yourself

Weend'ô You Need to Know Yourself album cover

 

Weend’O are a French prog rock band who’s biography describes them as a subtle mix of rock, between Pink Floyd’s ambient references and Tool’s modern riffs, with the harmonised and uncluttered arrangements influenced by singer Anneke Van Giersbergen (ex The Gathering).

This is their first album which was released back in November 2012. The band consists of Laetitia (vocals & keyboards), Terence (guitar) , Maxime (bass) and Nathanael (drums).

I didn’t hear too much Pink Floyd going on and having had limited exposure to Tool, I initially struggled to think who the band reminded me of. More modern progressive bands like Porcupine Tree and Anathema were two that came to the fore, but Weend’O add in more of a mainstream rock element to their sound than either of those two with the guitar more in focus. Taking the vocals into account, I showed my age by thinking of a progressive version of Judie Tzuke. However, the answer to who these guys and girl sounded like was to be found in the biography that mentioned "The Gathering".

While the band describe themselves as progressive and do venture off into a couple of near 10 min tracks (Betrayal and Deadline), the other songs are around 5 or 6 mins and are mainstream with slight progressive overtones. The songs are melodic and if I say pleasant listen, then I mean it in a good sense. Whilst the overall sound isn’t heavy, the guys do like to rock out quite a bit in a subtle way with the guitarist earning his money with plenty of activity. On "The Soulmate" vocalist, Laetitia, gets to be the star on an slower ballad.

The version of the album I’m reviewing has radio edits of 3 of the songs included – 2 at the start and 1 at the end. They make the album overly long and I prefer the longer full versions of the songs anyway.

However, that minor point about the bonus tracks aside, Weend’O have created a respectable debut.

Trevor Sewell – Calling Your Name

Trevor turned solo in 2011 after many years of playing sessions and touring with other artists. He recently won a number of awards in the States and the latest news is that he has been nominated for a British Blues Award 2012 for the track “Hate Me For A Reason”.

First off, I guess I should say that the blues element of my album collection doesn’t extend much beyond the late and definitely great Stevie Ray Vaughan. I guess there is an overall bluesy feel to ACDC’s music, but that is veering off subject. However, it does highlight that when it comes to blues rock, my preference is to have the emphasis on the rock. With the scene set, let’s take delve into the more mainstream blues of this album………

Opener “Where The Wild Ones Go” is a lively start with a little bit of a swagger to the music and a more than a hint of SRV. And from SRV, we move onto a smoother sound (“Hate Me For A Reason”) that makes me think of Robert Cray, who I seem to remember be interested in around the same time as SRV, but I never got around to buying any of his albums. On the vocals front there is a Joe Cocker thing going on. Title track, “Calling Your Name”, is a slightly slower number with a brass section and for me it sounds a little like Eric Clapton musically, but still with Joe on vocals.

So quite a few name checks so far and that correctly gives you the impression that this album contains plenty of variety. Things take a little turn off the main blues track when “Condemned” emulates Dire Straits. A couple of tracks, “No Future ’round Here” and “Don’t Need Nobody”, seem like they could have come out of a Blues Brothers movie. Despite the fact that I am fan of the movie, these are probably my least favourite tracks.

The longest number is “Hundred Years”, a tribute to Robert Johnston, which is delta blues played on an electric guitar. Maybe it is because they are in the style most familiar to me, but the tracks which really excel here are the ones that evoke the spirit of SRV – tracks such as the aforementioned opener, plus “Gone Too Soon” and “Lost Something”.

I get the feeling that Trevor is very relaxed and confident playing this music which is reflected in the seemly effortless vibe to the album, an attribute which is rare and fairly hard to achieve. This is an album that is easy to listen to and enjoy when you are in the mood for some Blues.

 

All Too Human – Juggernaut

All Too Human was formed by Maurice Taylor (bass) and Chris Lucci (drums) who had been in a band called Muzix together. The guys were then joined by Clint Wilson on guitars. For this album they have drafted in Gordon Tittsworth (Images of Eden) on vocals. Their first album was a Rush/Queensryche affair in 1998. By the time they issued their second album in 2002 the sound had shifted more towards Dream Theater. For this album the style has changed again with the emphasis on a more modern approach with shorter songs.

Over all the songs I detected a bit of a groove going on that made me think of King’s X. That might be due to the chore of the band being the bass player and the drummer. That groove is going on in the background with some fairly heavy modern riffing dominating the foreground. It kept me listening where I may have switching off during the heavier moments.

The songs that worked best for me were when the band’s earlier influences surfaced and more of a sense of melody make it’s way to fore. ‘Thorn In My Side’ starts off with a Rush vibe before heading off into Dream Theater territory. One of the longer tracks, ‘Cut Me’, caught my attention despite having some reasonably heavy riffing in places it also had a Rush meets King’s X feel. I think this is one of those albums you have to tune yourself into as my impression of the album gets more positive as it progresses with the latter tacks ‘Insurgent’ and ‘Catharsis’ fairing the best of the more modern sounding tracks. There is a lot of Rush and Dream Theater in the final instrumental ‘Arrythmia’ and that is probably the track I enjoy the most which gives a huge clue that my musical tastes a bit dated.

The mixture of the old and the new kept me more interested than I normally am in modern sounding metal. The album has a bit of a groove to it, which takes a few listens to get into and I don’t necessarily get in sync with it on every listen, but definitely an album that held more interest for me than I expected after my initial listen.

www.alltoohuman.net

 

Blood In Venice – Let The Drama Begin

The three members of Blood In Venice first got together in a Muse tribute band called, not surprisingly, “Muse The Tribute”. The band consists of Italians Matt (singer) and Alex (drums) together with Danish guitarist Guf. The band progressed to writing their own material and selected the name Blood In Venice for it’s poetic charm. This initial set of recordings, entitled “Let The Drama Begin”, was started in Oct 2011 and released in Feb this year. In fact, since I received this EP, the band have went on to create another called “The Dancefloor Assassin” which they are currently promoting.

The EP starts off with “The Apocpolypse Show” which is a slice of pop rock with a decent chorus. Pumping bass and synth propel along both “Day After Day” and “The Same Tuxedo”. On “The Same Tuxedo” I noticed that there a little bit of Queen going on in the vocal department which reminds me of chart topper Mika. That Queen feel creeps in again on “Breathe”. Can’t say that I am that familar with Muse, so I can’t really tell how much of their infleunce is coming through in the modern backbone of the tracks. “Wonderful” is a slower track that lacks a hook to keep the listening engaged. Final track, “Crush A Butterfly” is a spikely track with the vocals well down the mix apart from when they go really high pitched and float on top of the music.

Viewing the website it seems that the band have a very stylised view of how they want to portray themselves. I found this pleasant listening, but suspect it may be of more interest if your tastes in music are more current than mine.

 

Zeroking – Kings of Self Destruction

KOSD coverart

Zeroking hail from Huntington, West Virginia. They got together in 2005 and released an EP called "Sweet Sale Of Excess’ in 2006. The band started recording this album in 2009 and have released a few tracks over the past while to promote the album.

The band describe their sound as a mixture of Motley Crue and GnR meets Buckcherry and Hinder. They have shared the stage with bands such as Anthrax, Jackyl, Black Stone Cherry and Airbourne.

The opening tracking, "Dead Rock Star", has a rawness and aggression to it that unfortunately extends to the lyrics which contain, in my opinion, completely unnecessary use of explicit language. OK, unnecessary for me, but it fits in the whole rock star sleazy party theme to the majority of lyrics, nothing thought provoking going on here.

I have the first Buckcherry album, but it has been so long since I listened to it that I can’t remember what they sound like. Hinder are a possible reference point, but for me that means Nickelback must be in the mix somewhere as well. So from a melodic rock perspective, are there any more classic influences. Well, a bit of Aerosmith on "Forget Vegas", a bit Skynyrd on Southern Lady, "Girls Of California" has a GnR swagger to it and closing track "Leaving Los Angeles" has some old retro cheese added to the mix. Overall, the album sounds good when cranked up as the band convey a sense of energy and vitality to their music. It is a solid performance. That is a bit of surprising statement as I had the impression that my reaction was a bit more positive than that but I think maybe the bonus tracks, which are OK by the way, just gave me too much music to digest while sitting down to write the review and that a shorter blast of this might have fared better.

Antoine Fafard – Solus Operandi

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The bass player from Spaced Out steps out on his own. Antoine plays fretless bass and classical guitar on the album. The style of the album is jazz fusion. However, fear not, because we are talking relaxed acoustic guitar driven music rather than a discordant, intense and claustrophobic noise-fest. From my own collection Al Di Meola is the closest I can think off, but when he is in his acoustic mood and not racing across Arabian deserts.

Looking back over notes I made on each track it seems that the album grew on me, with the later tracks receiving the most positive comments. With 17 tracks on offer there is plenty of music to listen to.

This is the sort of music with which to sit down with a good book, a glass of Irish Whiskey and to then total chill out.

Joe Matera – Slave To The Fingers (EP)

JM_Slave_front

Opening track, "Cruise Control", is a bright and breezy rocky AOR/hard rock instrumental that seems to perfectly conjure up images of cruising down some American highway with the top down in a convertible. This same theme and style is maintained on the majority of tracks on the album, with "Out of the Blue" making a bid to be a little different by adopting a slightly more 80s hard rock vibe.

The tracks are relatively short and the style of the music is such that this is very accessible EP of guitar instrumental.

Jellyfiche – Symbiose

 

This French Canadian progressive outfit are new name to me. However, the band was formed in 2005 and issued their debut album in 2008.

The opening track is a gentle piano driven ballad that echoes Marillion at their most gentle. Being true to their French Canadian roots the vocals are sung in French. As the album progresses it becomes clear that the band have a variety of influences that date back to the heyday of prog rock with King Crimson, Pink Floyd and Yes as potential reference points. However, the band keep their sound fresh by having also incorporated some more modern ambient sounds.

After the gentle introduction of the first couple of tracks, the third track has a Police style new wave/funk vibe going on which is a bit of a shock. On the 4th track, Trahison, we get a fusion of Marillion and King Crimson. The next track, Au nom d’Apo Calypso, displays a bit more urgency with rock organ that perhaps echoes 70s bands like Purple, but the vocals remind me of hippy guys The Enid. On the next couple of tracks the band tip their hat towards Pink Floyd, possibly Saga, but with a more modern drum sound. The penultimate track, Dualite, is an almost 10 min epic that mixes 70 style Pink Floyd and King Crimson. The band show their truly progressive intent on the discordant final track, L’Autre Monde, which has an Arabic feel to it.

This proved an interesting listen and will appeal to those who like retro prog.

More info: www.unicornrecords.com

Emblema – Keep Out From Me

 

emblema - keep out from me

 

Emblema are a bunch of Italians that show promise of a some tracks, but totally alienate me on others. In a recent interview the band cited influences such as Placebo, Muse and Jet, which is all a little modern and indicates why a retro kind of guy like me struggled to connect with some of the tracks. The vocals and the lyrics both contain hints that English is not the band’s native language, which rather than detract from the music, adds an element of charm to the overall ambience.

Opening track, "Break The Cover", plus "Justified" and "Cut Them Entirely" have an 80s new wave feel to them. Killing Joke is the band that springs to my mind. This sound grows on me as the album progresses as "Cut Them Entirely" has the album finishing on a positive note for me. In fact the collection of tracks on here is varied and a little quirky. At one point I began to wonder if the songs had been written over a long period of time during which the band had been experimenting to find their own sound. Now I’m inclined to think that the band has a wide variety of influences and this is simply reflected in the music.

For me the quirkiness takes a turn for the worse on "Keep Out From Here" which reminds me of the extremely annoying "Park Life" by Blur. The following track, "Days Off" is a blast of alternative melodic pop rock.

My most positive reaction is to tracks such as "Thrashing Smashing" and "A Step Ahead" on which the band seem to display more maturity. These tracks have more layers and hold the listeners interest throughout. For me there is hints of Porcupine Tree going on here.

Overall, my reaction to album is positive. I think maybe the album will be of more interest to those with a alt-pop rather than a purely rock outlook.

More info at www.emblema.name.

Private Angel – Nailed

PrivatAngel_cover

Sometimes you just want some noise. Enter Private Angel. They play melodic traditional metal and fit the bill nicely.

When I put in the words "traditional metal" you probably guessed that they guys aren’t trying to push the boundaries, but are content doing what they do well. They certainly have plenty of experience under their belt as the band has been around for quite a while. These guys have known each other for 25 years and on this, their third album, they are all comfortable with each other and indeed with the music they are creating.

The opening track, "Human Wreck", is an up-tempo one which does what it needs to. Accept are the obvious reference point for this track. I guess they are useful overall. I heard plenty of other influences throughout the album all put into the mix with the underlying Accept sound. "Nailed" mixes in Manowar, "Last Chance" Led Zep (mainly the drums), "Shine On" UFO/Scorpions, "Tramp Stamp Boogie" GnR, "My Haunt" & "Valiant Song" Bon Jovi and Blackfoot on "Private Shelter". On "Kush" the band fuse Eastern sounds on this slow chugging track where the call to bring the troops back home is the obvious modern theme amidst all the retro rocking.

This album is all about friends getting together to play the sort of music that they love. It is straightforward, maybe a bit basic in places, but when your ears want a bit of trad metal they fit the bill perfectly.

www.private-angel.de , www.private-angel.com