Saturday, October 30, 2010

Various Artists: Dinastía Inmortal, Cuarto Acto (2009)

There is a thing about compilations: They exist since the beginning of records but unfortunately they are too often used as a dumping ground for various reasons with songs not matching each other. Rarely, you find compilations that make a sense of their own. Dinastía Inmortal, Cuarto Acto is such a release. It is the forth release (hence Cuarto Acto) of the Mexican label Dinastía Inmortal delivering a compilation of their Gothic Metal bands.
It takes off with the well known band Anabantha ("La Persecución y la Cruz") and continues with one hit after another. What I like is that all songs is that they are all sung in Spanish a language which surprisingly seems to be very suitable for Gothic Metal. Other highlights include "Santa Maldad" of Arcadia and "Sangre por perdon" of Valle de la Muerte. Those 9 songs perfectly matching together make you return to this record over and over again.
It is beautiful to see how the Internet helps with the distribution of content. How difficult would it have it been to find and to listen to a Mexican Gothic Metal underground release 15 years ago in Europe? Impossible I would say. We live in great times...

Preview | Buy! | Myspace

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Portal 7: Demo 21 / Cápsula Mar (2004)

This is why I like the Internet so much: You find artists and songs you would never have found otherwise. This especially true for demos. In 2004 I found some catchy songs of a Gothic Metal band from Uruguay Portal 7. Though the sound is pretty much demo-type they showed some great ideas ranging from Gothic to more experimental metal.

Track listing:
  1. 21 (3:31)
  2. Portal (4:17)
  3. Cápsula Mar (2:49)
  4. Ashes to Ashes (3:40)
  5. Anymore (live) (3:46)
Unfortunately, the band disappeared around the same time and we will probably never see those ideas realized on a regular record :( but who knows the myspace profile is still active!

Preview | Only Demo | Myspace

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Saeko: Above Heaven - Below Heaven (2004)

Saeko (pronounced Siko in English) is a fascinating artist who is originally from Japan. At the turn of the millennium she decided to relocate to Europe in order to pursue a career as a Metal singer. The 2004 release of "Above Heaven - Below Heaven" realized that goal and brought an outstanding album to us.
This album is actually one of the reasons why I listen to to Power Metal music. Other bands of this genre like Helloween or Hammerfall never interested me - they produced well crafted music but for me these lacked an essential ingredient: Feeling. And this is where Saeko comes in: She combines brilliant vocals with power, feeling and aggression together with great guitar solos and original riffs and outstanding melodies. The album pushes from one song to another with an enormous amount of energy ("Nature Of Mortality") complimented by excellent ballads ("On The Way To Eternity"). Saeko's second album "Life" (2006) is a worthy successor and a recommendation as well. Unfortunately, she does not perform any longer - hopefully we'll see here one day back on stage again!

Preview | Buy! | Website (highly recommended)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Månegarm: Urminnes Hävd - The Forest Sessions (2006)

I listen to a lot of Rock and Metal music but both Viking and Black Metal are usually not my genres of music. Månegarm's usual releases therefore never interested me with the exception of Urminnes Hävd (The Forest Sessions). It is a purely folk music EP with all songs sung in Swedish with high, clear female and male vocals. Instruments beeing used are violins, acoustic guitars, cow-drums and the djembe and the dense atmosphere is complemented by the sounds of birds, campfires and timber being cut.
The beauty of this acoustic album lies in its vivid power of tranfering you right into a Scandinavian forest making you dream and enjoying the surrounding nature. Where Månegarm's regular metal releases are average at best Urminnes Hävd shines with highlights such as "Döden" or "Vaggvisa". If I were them I'd drop the black metal and master greater tasks...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Harold Budd / Ruben Garcia / Daniel Lentz: Music For 3 Pianos (1992)

This is definitely one of my favorite, timeless, ambient classics. 18 years after its release it still sounds like it was recorded just yesterday. Basically, this peace of music contains of 6 sketches of piano music distilled into 22 minutes of beautiful music. Though I would say that this is ambient music all sounds are produced merely by Pianos and so it is essentially comparable to its genre founder Ambient 1: Music For Airports by Brian Eno. The trio Budd / Garcia / Lentz explores the space between music and silence and to such an extend how of the highest order, in which the echoes and silences mean as much as the notes themselves.

‘Pulse, Pause, Repeat’ opens the record with a mood of melancholic reflection, and by the time ‘Music for 3 Pianos’ comes to a close with the quiet but triumphant ‘La Casa Bruja’ you realise that for its short duration you have been drawn into another world. This is Budd’s (and his companions) true strength, to remove you from everyday life and make music which belongs someplace else. Amazing music.

Preview | Buy! | discogs

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Ghost Hill: Embrace the Chasm (2010)

Here comes one of my favorites so far of 2010: Ghosthill is a young band from Kaliningrad, Russia playing symphonic power metal. Traditionally, this genre of music is not considered to be very modern or inventive but on this venture musical arrangements are absolutely superb. Instrumental skills are stunning with great guitars solos, uplifting keyboards and the vibrating voice of singer Mira. It is surprising to see how the band managed to get old fashioned keyboards sounds ("The Mist") transfered into a very modern context. The same goes for the Autotune (or Cheer) effect on the singers voice ("Silent Night"). The band took some risks here but the results are very rewarding.
One might argue that the singer's English language abilities are not the best ones but I think it contributes actually to the charm of this enjoyable listen. In fact, I would have liked to hear songs in Russian as well because I often prefer the artist's mother tongue over English - maybe that is something that we will see in the future. I deeply wish the band all the success in the future! Go buy the album!

You can also find most of the band's songs at youtube.

Preview | Buy! | Myspace | Facebook | discogs