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.

Red Tide Rising – The Rising

The Rising Album Cover

Red Tide Rising are:

Matthew Whiteman – Lead vocals
Andrew Whiteman – Guitars
Sean Verity – Bass
Matt Guerin – Drums, Percussion

The band have released a couple of singles prior to recording this album and previewed this album with 3 singles to show the different intensities of the band. They are a young bunch of guys with some members still in their teens. The album was recorded in 2013 with the help of Mike McAree (In This Moment’s engineer) and Jeff Kanan (Kelly Clarkson, Madonna, Staind, Rick Rubin and others).

I have to admit that I didn’t read any of the blurb about the band prior to listening to the album for first time and with the sort of prog rock cover, I was expecting something quite different from the modern post-grunge alt rock meets prog metal that I heard. OK, regular readers will have guessed by now that these guys have their work cut out to impress me with this type of music.

After the doomy opening of piano led instrumental "Rising Tides" we’re off into the land of modern alt rock meets alt metal where to my ears songs tend of merge together into a sonic barrage with individual songs having little to differentiate them. Apart from "Scars" about half way through, nothing really sticks in my head until we get the title track at the end of the album which seems to a more mature composition, despite the unnecessary swearing. Earlier in their career, a portion of the proceeds from their first single release, "Finding Home", was donated to a suicide prevention organisation, so they aren’t singing about ‘partying all night long’.

I guess what I’m saying is that if you are into bands like "In This Moment" or "Five Finger Death Punch", then this will be of interest, but melodic rock fans who favour retro hard rock should approach with caution. OK to dip into for a couple of songs occasionally.

Huis – Despite Guardian Angels

UNCR5088

 

Huis is started life in 2009 after Pascal Lapierre (keyboards) and Michel Joncas (bass & keyboards) had visited Holland. They named the project "Huis" which means "house" in Dutch and "home doors" in French. Gradually the other members – Sylvain Descôteaux (vocals), Michel St-Père (guitars) and William Régnier (drums) – were added to this French Canadian Progressive Rock band.

I haven’t written any reviews in a long time and it is therefore quite ironic I should pick a release from Canadian Prog Rock label Unicorn Records to kick start the Mood Swings website revival. Some of Unicorn’s releases in the past have proved to be a challenging listen as they venture off into the depths of jazz fusion or get a little too progressive for my tastes.

Thankfully "Despite Guardian Angels" is a relatively straightforward progressive rock release with a traditional neo-progressive or even symphonic feel. For me this evokes acts such as Marillion, IQ, Pendragon and Pallas. I’m sure there are other more recent examples. In fact, inspired by listening to these guys, I have also been listening to Sound Of Contact, featuring Simon Collins, who have a traditional progressive vibe.

Overall the sound is quite keyboard driven, but the guitar work, in which I detected a distinct David Gilmour sound, also manages to make itself heard. Sometimes the objective of progressive rock can be to simply highlight the skills of musicians with over indulgent playing and highly complex arrangements. In the case of Huis it seems the guys are team players, with the objective to create progressive music that is very listenable, even, for example, the two instrumental pieces, Oude Kirk 1 & 2.

The songs are consistently good, making it difficult to pick out highlights. For me, the mid album tracks seems to be the most rewarding – "Light & Bridges" featuring some good synth work, "Little Anne" which reminds me of Stationary Traveller era Camel and "If By Morning" which has a melody line that reminds me of the opening to Dream Theater’s "Pull Me Under". Maybe I just prefer longer tracks when listening to progressive rock.

This has been a pleasant re-introduction to the world of reviewing for me.

More info: www.huisband.com, www.unicorndigital.com