As KGLT's Director of Loud Rock, I now receive a steady stream of new loud rock releases. It's exciting to have a supply of brand new music to review for the station, and I want to start sharing bands and albums with the rest of you. Here's my first installment, reviewing new material from four exciting bands.
As a big fan of heroic metal, just a few seconds into Icarus Witch's latest release, "Rise", and I was hooked. Lots of melodic singing, lots of guitar and full of energy; I feel right at home throughout the album. "Rise" stands out to me in that it captures the triumph of heroic metal but remains raw and real (in Tolkien terms, think "more Gimli, less Legolas"). There are definitely technical elements to the album, particularly in some of the guitar work, but Icarus Witch remains far afield from the polish and structure of symphonic metal. As I listened through the album, I was reminded of Riot, Pink Cream 69 and a recent favorite, Lillian Axe's "The Days Before Tomorrow". That's not in any way meant to suggest that Icarus Witch derives from any of those bands; it's more that they capture a similar balance between melody and technique while establishing their own unique rawness and character. "The End" and "Break The Cycle" jumped out at me and "(We Are) The New Revolution" is a classic anthem in all respects.
I'm really excited for Baroness' upcoming July 17th release, the "Yellow & Green" album. If the two pre-release singles, "March to Sea" and "Take My Bones Away", are any indication, this will be a powerful, well-crafted album, the kind we may look back on in years to come as the band's break out moment. Baroness combines raw energy and dark tonality to create haunting and intense songs. While their overall effect is raw, they layer dirty and clean guitars to create spacious arrangements, punctuated by vivid but realistic vocal harmonies. While listening to "March to Sea" I was impressed by the dynamic variation over the course of the song. Unlike much of the smash-limited, wall of destruction metal these days, Baroness is refreshing because of their willingness to paint a full and varied picture. Check out the two singles and get ready for the full release on the 17th!
Paradise Lost delivers yet another unique and masterful step in their fascinating evolutionary journey. "Tragic Idol" satisfies my love for gothic metal, and fits well in my collection next to the Charon, Sentenced and Poisonblack albums, while delivering an impact reminiscent of Metallica and Systematic. The songs on "Tragic Idol" are dark and mysterious, spacious and yet powerful. The album is gripping much like an intense action drama and worth every minute of its 10 songs. If you enjoy music that balances raw power riding on a layer of intricate texture and aggressive guitar, you should give a listen to "Tragic Idol". If you're short on time, the defiance of "Crucify", the despair of "Honesty In Death" and the deep moodiness of the song, "Tragic Idol" will do a great job of capturing the overall character of the album, whetting you're appetite for a full listen when time allows.
Each time I listen to "Orkan", Vintersorg's latest album, I'm more intrigued. Their Viking/folk influences come through clearly on "Orkan" as do brief flashes of black metal. What intrigues me though, is the delicate balance they maintain throughout the album, with an ongoing sense of community and folk quality, yet an overall sense of detail in the arrangement and sonic textures. Fueled by complex, intricate and rough-edged guitars, Vintersorg balances that with a steady dose of keyboards, giving their songs an intense but open feel throughout. Their songs are propelled by sections of steady single-note guitars and big chunky chord harmonies. Their music is both dark and upbeat; for me, it brings the Beowulf saga to mind in both intensity and mood. I've included "Istid" in my last two KGLT playlists, but I recommend listening to "Polarnatten" and "Norrrskenssyner" to get a full overview of Vintersorg's latest release.