FLAVAROOM: THE CROATIAN TIGRESS

425455_397317286951594_1707773970_nMusic review by PJ Cornell.

Syndicated from the Asterisked Music Journal.

Assessment: 9.5 out of 10.

Bottom line up front: I love a good blues band. This is an exceptional blues-fusion band. The harmonic language is complex. The rhythm section is delightfully sophisticated. The vocals and solos are assertive, powerful, polished — rhythmically and harmonically complex, yet perfectly accessible and expressive. The feel is aggressively beautiful and dripping with class.

Highlights: These songs are subtly chromatic, and the harmonic textures are surprisingly varied, yet cogent — perfectly integrated with the rhythmic language. The vocalist is a virtuoso. These people are pros. I challenge you to try to listen to their songs and not get up and dance. I predict you will fail. Their hooks are beyond excellent. Their melodies tend to transition suddenly and seamlessly from being notey and dense to being smooth, simple, and plaintive. Their songs are complex while sounding simple, and the performance is flawless. Their best song, in my opinion, is Walking Down the Stream. Opens with a classic hook in the rhythm guitar, complemented with a sparse, laconic piano hook and warm bass hook. The genius of the melody is that it is assertively on beat — but sounds off beat against the jungle of hooks below it.

Criticisms: The only criticism I have of these guys, is that their sound builds on top of paths that have been explored before. I cannot think of any band that does it better, but they aren’t the first to do it. Don’t let that cause you to overlook them, though. This is some of the best blues I’ve heard in quite a while.

Conclusion: Amazing band with a gorgeous, complex sound. Listening to them is like eating Godiva in a hot tub. Utterly indulgent.

REST IN PAIN: THE POST-HARDCORE BADASSES FROM INDONESIA

1354239410_977a3f33775a61e81810b4ea81c968c1Article by PJ Cornell.

Syndicated from the Asterisked Music Journal.

Assessment: 8.7 out of 10.

Bottom line up front: These guys are proof that metal can save the world.  This act would fly anywhere where metal reigns.  This an Indonesian band that would be right at home at the Longview, TX metal scene.  Great screams.  Great clean vocals.  Great instrumental textures. Soaring melodies.

Highlights: This is balls-to-the-wall metal.  These guys bring it.  Saint and Sinner is a delightfully confrontational little tune.  It starts off with a bare drum solo that comes across as a war drum.  This transitions to a section with powerful riffs, with a chorus featuring well-blended clean vocals and screams.  The song culminates with a dissonant riff, that, while simple, is played in such a way that it washes over the listener like a shroud of flame.

Criticisms: Overall, these guys are legit.  The only real criticism I have is about the way these guys present themselves.  They call themselves emo.  I feel this is not accurate.  These guys are much too hardcore to be described that way.  Also, their English isn’t all that great — I don’t think anyone will mind, though.  They bring the metal.  That’s what counts.

Conclusion: I think these guys will find themselves welcome wherever metal is played.  I wish them the very best.

ASCENDERE: METAL — SHIVA STYLE

292265_354946391214168_271990769509731_955633_739138811_nArticle by PJ Cornell.

Syndicated from the Asterisked Music Journal.

Assessment: 8.5 out of 10.

Bottom line up front: Metal is alive and well in the Indian subcontinent, and one of the better representatives of the rising Hindu (I’m assuming) Metal Horde is the band, Ascendere. With their blindingly fast and precise riffs, guitar solos dripping with chromatic flames, brutal screams, and crackling drums, these guys are a force to be reckoned with. Their single, Worthless is a fine specimen of reptilian metal brutality.

Highlights: These guys have everything hardcore metal heads are looking for in a band — driving riffs at breakneck speeds, powerful growls (focused mainly on the mids), an impressive drum performance, and great guitar solos; all set in a brutal quasi-octatonic pitch set.

Criticisms: Ascendere has demonstrated mastery of the genre. However, they have not yet added anything new. Of course the band was only formed in 2011, and they already have a very clean, sophisticated, and powerful brand of speed metal. It is not difficult to imagine that in the coming years, they may yet break new ground in the genre.

Bottom line: These guys stand out among their peers in terms of ability, although they do not yet stand out in terms of originality. That may yet come.

WITH THESE WORDS: BEAUTY DISMAYED (SINGLE)

th_guitarArticle by PJ Cornell.

Syndicated from The Asterisked Music Journal.

Assessment: 8 out of 10.

Bottom line up front: This is the only song this band has published so far (as of 18 February 2013).  However, this little gem of a song shows great promise for the band, and I look forward to hearing more.

Highlights: This song has two things going for it.  Firstly, the rhythms, in conjunction with diatonic quartal harmonic accents are very ear-catching.  Secondly, the singer’s thin, pretty voice is perfectly complemented by the sparse, acoustic instrumental ensemble (piano and violin).  The piano riff (which is really a full fledged tune which is repeated over and over) is just complex enough to stay interesting throughout the entire song.  The countermelody in the violin is expertly done.  I particularly enjoyed the double stop sections.

Criticisms: The song is a tad repetitive, although not so much that it is actually unpleasant.  Also, I’d like to hear a little more range out of the singer.

Conclusion: Well done, guys!  This is a solid piece, overall.  It sounds like a cross between a Motet, an Art Song, and Acoustic Pop.  It’s a very pleasant brew of sonic textures, with engaging polyphonic trajectory and rhythmic language.  I look forward to hearing more from you in the future.