Swedish progressive metal quintet Evergrey might have released its greatest output yet with its eleventh studio album in twenty-four years of existence. The gorgeous cover artwork represents the adventurous soundscapes on The Atlantic perfectly as it offers lights and shades through stormy compositions.
The record starts impressively with the epic progressive metal masterpiece ''A Silent Arc'' with its strong melancholic undercurrents that carry it successfully through almost eight stormy minutes of atmospheric entertainment.
The band cleverly puts its most accessible song on the record next in form of the emotional ''Weightless'' that convinces with heartfelt lyrics and vocals. The song is a great introduction to the band, excellent representation of this album and should become a fan favourite during the upcoming concert series.
Evergrey calms things down with sorrowful ballad ''All I Have'' that impresses with haunting piano sounds and heavy bass vibes that give it a slightly bleak and menacing tone despite the reduced musicianship.
The band enters oppressive soundscapes with ''A Secret Atlantis'', a most creative track with sinister radio play passages, industrial metal riffs and a desperate guitar solo. Only the ever-soothing vocals offer some relief during this wild ride.
The band somehow keeps the brilliant momentum of the first part alive in an equally convincing second half. One particularly outstanding song is industrial metal monster ''Currents'' with its vibrant electronic sounds and melodic vocals in an otherwise sinister tune with powerful drumming, longing guitar sounds and scarcely used mysterious keyboard sounds that blend in perfectly.
If you appreciate bass guitar sounds as much as I do, give ''Departure'' a try because the instrument positively domineers this elegiac yet efficient songs where the simple musicianship serves as brooding background for most versatile and soulful vocals.
Even the conclusion of the record is excellent with bleak and sinister album closer ''This Ocean''. It features particularly cold riffs, powerful drums and again impressive bass sounds. Epic keyboard sounds become more and more important and lead to an uneasy finale that almost ends the release on an unexpectedly thought-provoking cliffhanger. Other bands would take ten minutes to build up such a dramatic atmosphere but Evergrey accomplishes the same thing in four and a half consistent minutes.
I usually don't describe as many songs from a single record, so you might have figured out that Evergrey's The Atlantic is a particularly strong album filled with gloomy emotions, astonishing musicianship and powerful vocals singing inspired lyrics. As soon as the epic voyage is over, you will feel like starting it all over again despite the fresh waves hitting your face. Fans of clever heavy, power and progressive metal should all give this record a spin. What we have here might already be album of the year material. It's too early to tell at this point but Evergrey's The Atlantic underlines that the metal scene is still impressively vibrant, profound and creative these days.
Final rating: 96%
This release has the term pretentiousness written all over it. We get a Latin band name and album title. The cover artwork seems to be taken from a painting. The song titles have a poetic touch. The song lengths are challenging and opening an album with a track hitting the fourteen-minute mark is something one would rather expect from a veteran progressive metal band. This release is a one-man project by Horace Rosenqvist who calls himself Waldorf and who quite simply recorded everything. This record reeks of a loner putting together obscure soundscapes in his parents' basement like in the not-so-good old Myspace days.
However, Aquilus' Griseus is actually a very solid album that deserves some of the praise it has gotten over the past few years. The record has an epic sound based upon elegant symphonic keyboard passages that would make this album a perfect video game soundtrack. The occasional acoustic guitars also blend in with relaxed melodies. The choirs are scarcely used which makes them very efficient.
These uplifting symphonic neofolk passages are contrasted by melodic black metal elements. This release offers a few cold guitar riffs that add some grit to keep the long tracks together. The harsh vocals sound quite unusual, being almost breathed or whispered at times. They lack power in my opinion but certainly have a quite unique style. Even people who usually despise black metal vocals could appreciate them in the context of this release because they aren't overused and always contribute cleverly to the atmosphere.
Despite the massive song lengths and a total running time just below eighty minutes, the record grabs you with its mysterious atmosphere right from the start and manages to keep things imaginative until the very end. One shouldn't listen to this album while being tired though because the calm passages will soon make you fall asleep but if you actively listen to this record with your headphones on, it will take you on a wondrous voyage.
In the end, Aquilus' Griseus isn't the masterpiece some people claim it to be but it is an elegant mixture of symphonic neofolk and epic melodic black metal that is perhaps best compared to Summoning but certainly has its very own style. It might be one of the most imaginative metal records of the decade. I couldn't listen to this release quite regularly because of its massive length and at times sleep-inducing vibes but it certainly is a creative discovery I like to come back to from time to time.
Final rating: 80%
Saw 3D is the seventh installment in the psychological horror franchise about philosophical serial killer John Kramer alias Jigsaw. It was initially planned to conclude the series with two films but after poor box office results for the predecessor, the two scripts were scrammed into one for this movie. The franchise also jumped on the bandwagon and released this feature with three-dimensional effects. The premise of the movie was quite worrisome in my opinion. Two scripts scrammed into one have rarely led to solid movies. Films with three-dimensional effects often focus on visual elements and neglect the plot which would be terrible for such a clever horror series as Saw. The announcement that this would definitely be the final part of the series also rose expectations in order to properly connect and conclude all seven films which would seem quite ambitious to say the least.
Even though Saw 3D is clearly the worst of the first seven films, it's still better than anticipated. The plot is rushed and leaves a few questions unanswered instead of properly concluding the franchise. The main twist is also highly predictable and makes for the weakest script of the series. The three-dimensional effects aren't particularly spectacular which isn't a bad thing since they aren't overused and don't reduce the movie to sinister eye candy. I could however imagine viewers paying an additional three or four dollars for wearing uncomfortable glasses for ninety minutes feeling cheated.
The movie revolves around a pretentious self-help guru who has published an autobiography about his survival of Jigsaw's deadly game. He also organizes support groups for other survivors and appears on television to increase sales figures. However, the whole story is made up and he has never been kidnapped by Jigsaw and his spiritual successors. Obviously, he is going to be kidnapped soon enough and has to prove whether he is as resilient as described in his own book in order to save those who have benefited from his ruthless scam.
While this side story is interesting enough, the main plot that attempts sometimes more and sometimes less convincingly to connect this movie to its six predecessors is even more intriguing. Detective Mark Hoffman is being hunted down like game after blowing his cover but he still seeks revenge for what Jigsaw's ex-wife Jill Hunt did to him. She seeks the protection of the police that is coming continuously closer to capturing the rogue detective. However, the antagonist still has some cards up his sleeve. Nobody however predicts the involvement of a third spiritual successor of the serial killer who decides to intervene to keep Jigsaw's heritage alive.
Despite being the weakest installment in the franchise up to that point and offering a rather unsatisfactory resolution, Saw 3D should still appeal to fans of the franchise as a good average movie. Still, it might have been the right decision to pull the plug at that point before slowly destroying the reputation of an incredibly consistent horror franchise up to that moment. Obviously, greed has brought the franchise back seven years later with a reboot entitled Jigsaw, making it the eighth entry in the franchise. Another sequel is already being planned at this point. Personally, I don't believe it's necessary to make this franchise a never-ending story. Moderation is the key and seven entries are already more than enough in my book.
After a solid but overall less convincing fifth installment, the sixth entry in the psychological horror franchise is a step in the right direction without reaching the quality of the first four movies. The film has a strong moral side as the test subject is a ruthless insurance executive this time around who decides upon life and death by applying or refusing a policy. Rather than facing deadly traps himself, he encounters colleagues in such traps and must decide who is going to live and who is going to die until he will be judged himself at the end of his ordeal.
The side story is already quite intriguing and unpredictable but the main plot is even stronger and follows the events of the previous installments. Detective Mark Hoffman tries to provide evidence to incriminate deceased Agent Peter Strahm with his own crimes but gets caught up in a web of lies that he soon can't control anymore. He is trying to keep John Kramer's sinister legacy going while distracting his colleagues and superiors long enough to find a way out of his difficult situation. However, John Kramer's ex-wife Jill Tuck also becomes an increasingly important pawn in a deadly game of chess between the police forces and the successors of the philosophical serial killer.
The movie convinces with a bleak atmosphere reminding of a film noir atmosphere from start to finish. The plot is clever, intense and unpredictable. The traps are creative and seem less grisly than usual. The movie ends with a dramatic showdown recalling the franchise's greatest installments. It's obviously difficult to surprise audiences with a sixth installment as some ideas have been used before but this movie is certainly great for what it is.
Those who expected a steady decline of the franchise after a slightly weaker predecessor, will be surprised by this movie's resilient quality. It once again underlines the franchise's success despite negative reviews by so-called experts around the world. Those experts can watch three-hour long sentimental dramas and nominate them for ten Academy Awards. Fans of the franchise will rather watch ninety- minute long surprising, intense and brutal psychological thrillers like this one. Quality doesn't always need to be intellectual. I would watch Saw VI over any Terrence Malick flick in a heartbeat. You should give it a try to as you might get positively surprised.
Suivre le flux RSS des articles
Suivre le flux RSS des commentaires