• Genre: Psychedelic / Experimental / Progressive Rock
    Label: Self-production
    Playing time: 61:15
    Band homepage: -

    Tracklist:

    1. The Packeys
    2. Common Man
    3. Satellite
    4. Like Snow
    5. Kill the Popstar
    6. Miles to Go
    7. The Wizard
    8. Bad Dying

     

    Proximity Butterfly - Arcana

    PROXIMITY BUTTERFLY is a diversified Psychedelic Rock band from Chengdu in the beautiful province of Sichuan that has been formed one decade ago by musicians from the People’s Republic of China, the United States of America and Canada. The band’s first regular record entitled “Arcana” came out in 2006 and is a more than promising debut album.

     

    For one hour, the diversified band offers eight surprising songs that include influences from very different Rock and Metal bands of the seventies such as BLACK SABBATH, BLUE ÖYSTER CULT, LED ZEPPELIN and PINK FLOYD. The band also has a slightly modern touch reminding me of the experimental works by JANE’S ADDICTION, RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, SIGUR ROS or THE MARS VOLTA. Even fans of the last releases of MGMT or MUSE should try this album out because PROXIMITY BUTTERFLY are the most stunning Experimental Rock band from their country along with RAINBOW DANGER CLUB from Shanghai.

     

    The band offers a quite unique blend of genres. The powerful male vocals give this band a charismatic identity. They have an angry tone but also a more laid back psychedelic style at some points. The diversified and hypnotizing guitar sounds have a very experimental approach but feel never overlong or confusing in my opinion. Even the more complex epics including exotic instrumental passages or Jazz parts on here have their catchy passages and clear guiding lines. Let’s mention that the bass sound on here is quite good which comes as a positive surprise because bassist Heather Judson didn’t even play this instrument when the band was established three years prior to this release. This shows that these free artists on here have some natural talent and they already use it very well. The drum play is very energizing and adds a special touch to the sound because it is sometimes more Metal than Rock orientated in my opinion. Progressive Metal fans should dig the powerhouse drumming and the straighter vocals.

     

    It’s hard to point out any highlights because all songs work well and need some time to grow but I immediately liked the opening “The Packeys” because it mixes the catchier parts with the heavily experimental side of the band. The vivid “Kill The Popstar” is probably the song with the biggest single potential on here and feels refreshing between many sophisticated epics. “Like Snow” has some laid back passages with appeasing high pitched vocals and is one of the calmer tracks on here. “Satellite” is on the other side a completely crazy Psychedelic Rock trip that would have been a worldwide hit if had been released in the seventies. It's some sort of a modern "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" by IRON BUTTERFLY or even better. This song is beyond music because it creates pictures with sound and is a disturbing but beautiful experience to go through.

     

    All those who care for Psychedelic or Progressive Rock or original Rock music in general, can’t get around this release. The People’s Republic of China has a constantly growing impressive Experimental Rock scene that is at least as relevant as the contemporary scenes in the United Kingdom or the United States of America. Check out this album on the band’s last.fm presence and enjoy your crazy ride through influences from five decades of experimental Rock music.

     

    (Online November 13, 2013)

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  •  

    Genre: Heavy Metal
    Label: Massacre Records
    Playing time: 59:27
    Band homepage: Rebellion

    Tracklist:

    1. Rest In Peace
    2. Ala Germanica
    3. Prince Of The Chreuscer
    4. Dusk Awaiting Dawn
    5. Breeding Hate
    6. The Seeress Tower
    7. Varus
    8. The Tribes United
    9. Ghost Of Freedom
    10. Furor Teutonicus
    11. Vae Victis
    12. Requiem
    Rebellion - Arminius: Furor Teutonicus

    After the big bang at the end of the year 2010 when three out of five members left Teutonic Power Metal band REBELLION, I was eager to hear what the band’s sixth album “Arminius: Furor Teutonicus” would sound like.

    In fact, nothing has changed at all. The new album is another historical concept album and features grounded mid- to up-tempo tracks with crunchy riffs and powerful, rough and unique vocals. The rhythm section with drums and especially bass guitar could sound better and add some more dynamics to the sound in my opinion.

    Some tracks like the album highlight and diversified opener “Rest In Peace” or the atmospheric “Dusk Awaiting Dawn” have a rather epic touch while others are rather simple bangers such as the predictable single “Ala Germanica” or the more aggressive “Prince Of The Cheruscer” that varies between traditional or true Heavy Metal trademarks and a few almost Groove Metal orientated riffs. The album closes with the more or less necessary ballad “Requiem” but I guess you would have figured that out on your own.

    This album should please to any REBELLION fan and is a quite solid continuation of the band’s typical trademarks. Some may see in this a sign of constancy and quality, others might find the new output too predictable and repetitive. I feel a little bit torn between both points of view. While the record is energizing and has a couple of immediately appealing tracks, I miss a truly outstanding song or a new experimental element that would add a fresh note to the band concept eleven years after its formation.

    Fans should get this record that I see on one level with “Born A Rebel” and “Miklagard – The History Of The Vikings – Volume II” but below the excellence of “Shakespeare’s MacBeth – A Tragedy In Steel”, “Sagas Of Iceland – The History Of The Vikings – Volume I” and “Arise: From Ginnungagap To Ragnarök – The History Of The Vikings – Volume III”. Occasional fans should rather go for a different record of the band or pick the excellent last GRAVE DIGGER release “Clash Of The Gods”. 

    (Online November 6, 2013)

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  • Genre: Thrash Metal
    Label: Blackened Recordings
    Playing time: 101:22
    Band homepage: Metallica

    Tracklist:

    CD 1:

     

    1. The Ecstasy of Gold (ENNIO MORRICONE Sample)
    2. Creeping Death
    3. For Whom the Bell Tolls
    4. Fuel
    5. Ride the Lightning
    6. One
    7. The Memory Remains
    8. Wherever I May Roam

     

     

    CD 2:

     

    1. Cyanide
    2. ...And Justice for All
    3. Master of Puppets
    4. Battery
    5. Nothing Else Matters
    6. Enter Sandman
    7. Hit the Lights
    8. Orion (Live In Studio Recording)

     

    Metallica - Through the Never

    After Thrash Metal milestones such as “Kill’em All”, “Ride The Lightning” and “Master Of Puppets”, more progressive outputs with a few Groove Metal tendencies as on “…And Justice For All”, a commercially flavoured and highly successful record with “Metallica”, experimental Southern Rock records as on “Load” and “ReLoad”, a passionate outburst of aggression on “St. Anger”, a return to the Thrash Metal roots with a modern touch as on “Death Magnetic” and an experimental minimalist concept album with LOU REED entitled “Lulu”, the world’s most famous metal band METALLICA tries out something new again. This time, it’s a movie entitled “Through the Never” where a weird plot is connected to the lyrics of several famous METALLICA tracks.

     

    This record is the soundtrack of this film and was recorded live in the Canadian cities of Edmonton and Vancouver in August 2012. The funny thing with this band is that they didn’t release any live records for many years apart of the “S&M” project where the band was accompanied by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra conducted by Michael Kamen. But during the last four years, the band released eight live records on DVD or CD. This here is number nine. Even though most of the records are great, one really doesn’t need all of these outputs. Some people claim that “Through the Never” is the best among these live releases. I think this is not true. I found “Orgullo, Pasion Y Gloria - Tres Noches En La Ciudad de Mexico" more passionate and the set lists of the two “Six Feet Down Under” definitely more appealing.

     

    This doesn’t mean that this record is bad. It’s an energetic and unpolished live document. Nothing seems to have been changed on this record. You still hear a rather weird bass guitar and electric guitar sound in the beginning of “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, the micro problems in the middle of “Ride the Lightning” and the sudden sound problems at the end of “Enter Sandman”. While all of this sounds authentic, I’m asking myself why the band didn’t chose better versions of these songs as they had played two nights in Edmonton and even three nights in Vancouver where they could have picked the best version of each song.

     

    On the other side, you get blown away by the powerful opener “Creeping Death” where the crowd already goes insane. The live rendition of “The Memory Remains” is by far the best version of this song as it convinces with a more direct, emotional and honest approach. The moving guitar introduction makes even a predictable and used ballad like “Nothing Else Matters” sound fresh. In addition to this, a few of my favorite METALLICA songs such as “One” or “Wherever I May Roam” are also included in excellent renditions on here. The band really did a great job.

     

    The only thing I really didn’t need is the weird live in studio rerecording of “Orion” that doesn’t equal the original. On the other side, I would like to hear such an edgy sound on the next regular studio record instead of the overproduced loudness war on “Death Magnetic”. I might also add that the set list of the Canadian shows included a few amazing tracks that didn’t make it on the final record without any particular reason such as “Sad But True”, “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” or “Seek And Destroy”. It’s also sad that the band didn’t include a song from each record they have made as “St. Anger” and “Lulu” are missing and despite their negative reputation, both are part of the METALLICA history.

     

    In the end, one doesn’t really need a new METALLICA live record or this movie. The previous live outputs from all around the world were at least as good as the performances on here. I prefer to sit at home and get blown away by the “Live Shit: Binge and Purge” release or the already legendary “The Big Four: Live from Sofia, Bulgaria” output where I even get some additional great performances by ANTHRAX, MEGADETH and SLAYER. This record is only for truly faithful fans, those who have been there in Edmonton or Vancouver when METALLICA played there, enthusiastic teenagers discovering the Metal scene as a popcorn event and die hard completionists.

     

    (Online November 4, 2013)

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  • November 5, 2013 in Reviews

    Alien AvengeAlien Avenge - 第五太陽紀 / Tonatiuh (2010)

    Reviewed by Sebastian Kluth

    Alien Avenge is a strange Taiwanese band labeled as melodic death metal. The band is surely innovative, but is quite hard to digest. The band has so many different faces that it’s hard to get what the six musicians are actually trying to accomplish on their first record, Tonatiuh, which performed surprisingly well in Asia, and even got some attention from European countries thanks to the recommendation and participation of Chthonic’s bassist Doris Yeh.

     

    To begin with, we have short and not very appealing instrumentals on this record, such as the disharmonic and almost random piano interlude “81025”. This interlude sounds like a missed attempt at creating a bastardized UneXpect and X Japan instrumental hybrid. I really can’t make any sense of a song like this. On the other hand, the band also comes around with one rather promising instrumental, “Ice”, featuring acoustic guitars and progressive keyboard sounds. This is the kind of music I would expect to hear on a new Opeth release, for example. Why are these instrumentals here? I have no clue, because they don’t have anything to do with, and don’t fit in with the rest of the record. They rather slow the record down instead of adding a well integrated new dimension to it. Maybe these songs were just quickly made to stretch and fill the record with more music, or maybe they’re here on purpose to mix us up just like the rest of this album. Maybe I just don’t get it.

    Other than that, we’ve got a few brutal, fast-paced modern extreme metal songs that are influenced by bands such as Children Of Bodom, In Flames, and Soilwork, but also some harder stuff like Nevermore in the more atmospheric moments. Some tracks have an apocalyptic touch, such as “Revenge War” or “Melting”, featuring Chthonic’s bassist Doris Yeh, who performs some piercing screams on this song. Both tracks convince with their well-suited keyboard parts, gripping riffs, and well performed melodic guitar solos. The latter track even has a few slightly progressive transitions and is among the best pieces on here.

    Other tracks like “Torment” or “Hung War” are much more straightforward, and yet way too chaotic for me. The vocals in these tracks are somewhere between death and black metal styles, and could appeal to those who liked the last Sigh record, for example, or some songs made by Absu.

    There’s also an epic track called “Intrusion Collapse”, that approaches the ten minute mark. This is somewhat of a highlight amongst this record’s weirdness. The track starts promisingly, with epic keyboard sounds that make you expect a power metal track, but the song shifts to a melodic black metal anthem in the key of Chthonic or Dimmu Borgir, before it suddenly gets a clear death metal touch again. The mixture doesn’t work all too badly once you get used to it. But just before the five minute mark, the song seems to be over, and we get a few seconds of silence before a rather calm and atmospheric interlude leads us into an equally strange second part of the same track. These parts are clearly jazz influenced. At this point, I’m not surprised by anything anymore. Once you start to enjoy the calmer mood with atmospheric keyboards and great guitar melodies, the madness kicks off again and we get some blistering extreme metal. The entire track represents the record very well. The song is promising and has its moments. The technical abilities of the band are quite good, but I feel that nothing fits together well at all. Even after multiple spins, this song and record remain completely inaccessible to me, which doesn’t happen quite often with my preference for the experimental. I had less headaches watching David Lynch’s entire “Dumbland” series than listening to this record.

    In the end, this record is a truly confusing output. From addicting genre tracks to overwhelmingly chaotic songs, you get a whole bunch of more or less gripping variations of the melodic death metal genre. Short instrumentals and overlong tracks make this record very hard to digest. The album feels too ambitious, directionless, and totally overwhelming. Even the lyrics vary from Chinese to English from song to song without any apparent reason. The tracks don’t really fit together, and this record has no clear guiding line apart from its genre categorization. Even the songs themselves have parts that don’t fit together. We get sudden breaks in some tracks, and one thinks for sure that a new song has started, but according to the track labels, it’s still the same song, but has completely changed.

    Yes, this band has got some talent and they surely have loads of ideas, but they don’t manage to put them into consistent song writing. That’s why this record is rather frustrating and quite hard to sit through. I can only recommend this album to chaotic and destructive minds and die hard extreme metal fans that look to try out everything from this genre.

    2.25 // 5

     

     

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  • November 6, 2013 in Reviews

    Dalriada 2012Dalriada - Napisten Hava (2012)

    Reviewed by Sebastian Kluth

    The six members of Hungary’s Dalriada are back with their patented brand of violin and flute-laden folk metal. On this record, the band also invited a number of gifted guest musicians who play bagpipes, cello, doublebass, kobza, and viola, as well as additional acoustic guitars, flutes, and violins. The band offers up different talented vocalists performing quite different styles, from clean female leads over male throat singing to a few harsh vocals. The female vocals are the most dominating, and to my surprise, the singer doesn’t only look good, but also has a grounded and powerful voice rather than coming across as another overwhelming symphonic metal diva. The vocals are all performed in Hungarian, and I’m positively surprised by how epic, graceful, melodic, and powerful this language sounds.

     

    The approach and style of this band is comparable to acts such as Arkona and Haggard, but I prefer the Hungarian band over its Russian and German colleagues. Fans of folk metal bands such as Ensiferum, Elvenking, or Eluveitie should also give this excellent band a fair try. The joyful folk parts and imaginative compositions even remind me of the great Mike Oldfield. Despite these different influences, all of Dalriada’s records manage to have a clear focus without forgetting a few well-integrated surprises. Their latest effort,Napisten Hava, is undoubtedly one of the band’s strongest outputs. The only shame here is that I haven’t discovered this brilliant band sooner.

    After a short, traditional violin introduction that reminds me of bands such as Bodh’aktan, Fiddler’s Green, Les Cowboys Fringants, Les Bâtards Du Nord, Naio Ssaion, or Rondo Veneziano, the band kicks its latest record off with the epic “A Dudas”, which includes a truly catchy chorus led by powerful female vocals and excellent chorals. These moments almost feel like a truly touching Christmas carol. The really great things about this song are the folk elements. The fast violin parts just make me want to dance, and the bagpipes add a lot of powerful volume and majestic atmosphere to the track. The throat singing is well performed and adds another fresh note. Despite all of these influences, the song is led by strong guitar riffs and melodies, and also has a few faster sections with powerful drums.

    The band doesn’t stop there. “Tünderkert” includes even better violin melodies, and is probably the best folk metal song with violins that I have ever heard. The lead vocals here are pure magic, and the supporting choirs in the chorus don’t feel overwhelming, and add the right epic touch to another excellent song. “Napom, Fenyes Napom” convinces with harmonious acoustic guitar passages and joyful male and female vocals that give the song a comfortable but exciting campfire atmosphere. “Napisten Hava” presents us strong flute melodies and a guitar solo that would make Dragonforce’s Herman Li blush. The beautiful “Julianus Utja” includes great piano melodies, powerful guitar, and fine keyboard solos. The vocal performance of this song is also one of the record’s strongest, from my point of view. “Hunyadi Es Kapisztran Nandorfehervari Diadalarol (Saltarello)” includes a strong combination of male and female vocals, enchanting flute tones, and a cinematic feeling that could be drawn right out of a fantasy film. “Borivok Eneke” is probably the fastest song on the record, and invites to dance with its vivid violin sounds while female and male vocals collaborate very well together. “A Juhaszlegeny Balladaja” is probably the darkest and most epic song on the record. The record’s most metal orientated track also has a cinematic feeling and offers fewer folk elements than usual. The band keeps these for the acoustic outro that closes the circle, and reminds us of the opening introduction.

    In the end, Dalriada offers us one of the strongest folk metal releases ever written, and includes only killer material. After a few spins, this record has already become one of my top ten records of the past three years. The song writing is diversified and inspired, but never too ambitious or progressive. The vocal performances are powerful and grounded, and I could listen to them for hours and hours. The riffs and solos on the record keep it metal, and the folk sections are performed with passion and harmonize very well with the rest. The only reason to not give this album a perfect rating is that I could see Dalriada doing even better in the future. Only time will tell. Fans of all aforementioned bands and the genre itself simply can’t get around this release right now. Discover and enjoy!

    4.75 // 5

     

     

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