Album Review: Under the Fragmented Sky by Lunatic Soul

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Mariusz Duda’s (also known for Riverside) solo project “Lunatic Soul” joins a fairly distinguished musical cohort this time around with its new release “Under the Fragmented Sky” which provides a blueprint for ambient-tinged prog-rock brimming with dark atmospherics more or less akin to a secret lovechild of Opeth and Radiohead. “He Av En” is the introductory instrumental that shapeshifts between somnolent strokes of a lullaby to murkier clouds of paranoia pretty much like the second track “Trials” which is heavily studded with Radioheadish motifs transitioning between a dream and a nightmare adding a whole new dimension to Lunatic Soul’s musical dialect. “Sorrow” is a sullen acoustic interlude which implores emotive lyrics and soulful vocals before it underpins that peculiar Opeth-fueled divinity in “Under the Fragmented Sky” known to anthems ringing inside the walls of an abandoned cathedral overspread with foliage. “Shadows” lasts for a 4-minute uninterrupted loop of dark ambient tones as the trademark melancholy sets in to deliver the psychological impasse in “Rinsing the Night” which can serve as a promising original soundtrack for a Lynchian horror.

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“The Art of Repairing” is an experiment gone right, layered with mutant club music, a futuristic appeal and a digital wind of eeriness it ends up sounding a tad bit cult which is definitely a plus. “Untamed” is the perfect album closer with wavering strings and tranquil pianos that potentially anesthetizes your senses to rejoice in the melodic transience of a melancholic reverie. Suffice to say, “Under the Fragmented Sky” definitely ups Lunatic Soul’s game and reassures Duda’s understanding of various musical art forms.

Album rating: 4.5/5.

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Album Review: The Dusk In Us by Converge

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The prophets of guttural vocal assault, hammering drumbeats and torrents of dissonance, Converge” released their latest studio album “The Dusk In Us” a couple of months back. My first listen proved to be quite gratifying as I was bent upon recalling the time of my life I spent obsessing over these metalcore titans. The harrowing themes of worldly horrors, political bestiality and firearm violence are delivered with saw-toothed musical arrangements and a cutthroat aggression which is no different a ritual known to their previous releases. The only marked difference would be the cultivation of a creative ground to address more grave issues other than fist-fighting depression or personal anguish. The front-man Jacob Bannon’s newly embraced fatherhood serves as the emotional catalyst to perpetrate this heavily orchestrated protest as he acknowledges his sole reason to fight back and exist.

“As a single teardrop fell,
And was swallowed by the sea.
You outshined the best there was,
Rewrote who I could be.
When I held you for the first time,
I knew I had to survive.”

“A Single Tear” by Converge

The uncontained vitriol seeps through the lyrics for the next forty minutes representing everything it antagonizes. “Eye of the Quarrel” signifies an artist’s struggle to stay true to his own set of laws and subscribe to the DIY ethics exclusive to his personal lexicon. The resistance against the infestation of the mind by conformity is fueled by chaotic counter-rhythms and crisp blast beats as the album proceeds. The deconstructed guitar licks in “Under Duress” interplay with the anarchic composition as Bannon grinds his vocal cords with merciless growls instilling a certain intellectual value to the song. “Akhripov Calm” is about Vasili Akhripov, a Russian naval officer and his sense of maturity which pacified a Soviet nuclear strike. Bannon deep down aspires to achieve that level of mental composure and inner calm in the quest to not let his bad energies spread like an epidemic. I absolutely find it inspirational how Bannon has managed to pen down his most intimate battles and raging emotions with the least bit of wordplay on songs like “I Can Tell You About Pain” and “Thousands of Miles Between Us” which is beautiful in itself. The angst moulded into something more meaningful with bludgeoning drums & oscillating guitars only helps the intended sensitivity to flourish. The melodic desperation in “The Dusk In Us” augments the memory of “Wretched World” on 2009’s “Axe to Fall”, both having enigmatic songcrafts and decipherable verses that quiver the marrow of the soul. The “preciously violent, beautifully abhorrent” stabs of noise accelerated to warp-speed ferocity in “Wildlife”, “Murk & Marrow”, “Broken by Light” and “Cannibals” do total justice to the overflowing verbal bile enthusing about fearless confrontation and individual autonomy.

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The laid-back sonic turbulence in “Trigger” saturated with an offbeat groove, symmetrical drumming and a vocal snarl dexterously fills the experimental void in the record. The last track “Reptilian” has a blackened melody most suited to the original album art which amplifies into a more corrosive tune under a veil of atonal guitars and blazing drums owing a nod to everything Converge virtually and artistically stand for.

“The Dusk In Us” lasts for thirteen straightedge hardcore anthems jarred with violent jabs of cynicism and emphatic uproars. It’s a perfect comeback after a five year hiatus as these metalcore architects storm straight out of the depths of oblivion and make a point.

“Futile wars for fruitless words,
Written by shadow kings.
Their shrapnel seeds the desert fields,
And sprouts this fear we see.
Devils do not need a hell in order to exist.”

“Reptilian” by Converge

Album Rating: 4.5/5.

Album Review: What Happens Next by Joe Satriani

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The relentless gyrations of electric guitar explode into a supernova of blues rock galore every time a Joe Satriani album drops in. The guitar evangelist is simply terrific when it comes to showcasing the endless aesthetics experimenting solely with its instrumental sensibility. This time around, he has recruited powerhouse performers like Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple/ Black Country Communion) and drummer Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers) to mix an album that’s poised with Hendrixian majesty to soar high into the eclectic realms of instrumental rock.

It kicks off with pistoning drumbeats and manically sped-up guitars in “Energy” navigating it towards the bombastic stomps of bass & drums and a rave-driven electric lead masquerading as hard-hitting rock numbers “Catbot” and “Thunder High on the Mountain”. “Cherry Blossom” is evocative of a nostalgic drive through your memory lane as the soft, feminine and thunderously paced guitar counterpoints interweave the outfit of a sonic mirage with tender drum pounding reminiscent of fiery Latin music. While “Smooth Soul” might sound like a restaurant-friendly song, knee-deep in the ocean of memoirs backed by sensational guitar chords which humbly plays in the background whilst adding to the general feel-good vibe, “Headrush” and “Looper” are meticulously exacted with bass-beat dynamization and kinetic excursions of electric guitar. “What Happens Next” is a traditional blues rock tune with a modern twist as it summons the intricate balance of silky leads and stalwart drums & bassline. The hazy and devious melody of “Super Funky Badass” definitely sprints it towards the direction of funk & soul modulation. “Invisible” and “Forever & Ever” are pumped up with improvisational take on the progressive exertions and sweet symphonies hand in hand allowing the maestro’s musical decorum to thrive generously. To be fair, the guitar virtuoso knows how to respect and embrace the various ethos of rock n’ roll authoritatively without uttering a single word.

Album Rating: 4/5.

Album Review: 3218 by Isidor

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An artist’s novelty is only authenticated when he intends on reviving the original sound of synthwave that has been integral to Sci-Fi movies, video games and cartoons dating back to the 80’s. “Isidor” being one of the artists hailing all the way from Serbia released their album “3218” only lately that juggles around with the extravagant 80’s synthwave, new retrowave and electronic beats. It fires off with “Star Sheriff” composed around the synth-driven angst and quirkiness reminiscent of yesteryears. The retro-styled chords and metropolitan synthesizers bounce on the trampoline of minimalism and nostalgia, incessantly. The dramatic filler “Secrets of the Universe” is a thematic interlude amidst the speedy tunes and the ongoing frenzy which puts the soaring hypnosis to rest for a while. The luxurious electronica and oddball slaps of synthesizers invested into “Touch the Sky”, “Apollo” and “Grid Surfer” forces a connection to synthwave monoliths like Electric Youth, Anoraak and Kavisnky. The buoyant melody of “Stardust” is mindlessly driven into a directionless oblivion uninhibited by the blaring synths. “Timeline” is definitely a highlight for me in this record that savors the trademark groove of the 80’s and slithering guitars. The ruthless assault of ambient synthesizers and dynamic bass condenses into a sonic aura that’s glutted with intergalactic elusiveness and luster. “The Last Geisha” swivels around booming acoustics and thick electronic conjunctures that manifests into a repetitive melody which manages to keep you hooked regardless. While the overall monotony might not reward an untrained ear as much, the record still has a cohesive arrangement and explosive soundscapes that the fans of the genre would definitely find appealing. “3128” pretty much feels like a propulsive journey through the fluorescent clouds of cosmic dust with a flashy and flamboyant soundtrack sketching the adventurous ascent into the fabric of infinity.

Album Rating: 3/5.

Album Review: Modern Addiction by Tender

London based electro-pop duo “Tender” have produced multiple EPs before their first full-length studio album “Modern Addiction” released on 1st September which gave an insight into their artistic capability as the partisans of modern electronic music interspersed with synth-driven pop swagger. Their music is highly contemporary in essence which is generously seasoned with a libidinous mood and promiscuous dance-beats. Let’s just say, there couldn’t have been a better name designated to Tender.

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While all the tracks are immersed in the lukewarm substance of  volatile electronics and crooning vocals, the improvisations done in each track bring about the instrumental euphoria that’s transient yet self-sustaining. The album opener “Illuminate” is a wise choice for an introductory track and summons the relaxing elements of music that it is traditionally expected to offer. “Nadir” begins with chiming notes of percussion rendering it plain ecstatic. It later nurtures into a perky symphony laid out to embrace the contrasting lovelorn lyrics. “Hypnotized” has a bittersweet melody with repetitive jangling percussions and soft synths signifying the repletion of self-worth with a main chorus “You don’t define me” and going against the crowd in the process. “Crawl” and “Erode” sound most suggestive of all tracks and are melodically well-schemed to do justice to their aphrodisiac tendency. “Silence” serves as a meek interlude before the albums swerves to the poppy and upbeat tempo of “Machine”. The flamboyance it radiates will definitely get you on your feet to rejoice the electronic spunk of dance music which is also fairly detectable on the second last track “Powder”. “Sickness”, “Blame” and “Vow” feature spiraling synths and beats against the backdrop of chill-wave aesthetics of electro-pop. The wailing vocal tone in “Vow” dictates the oriental somberness and indecent coveting the record unabashedly spews. The last track “Trouble” is precisely warm in texture and minimalistic drumbeats provoke a sense of tranquility especially contributed by the ambient guitar licks and Tender’s signature smooth vocals.

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“Modern Addiction” is an ornate mix of rhythmic blues, synth-wave and danceable electronica. Even if it’s not too far from formula-based music, it worked out splendidly. The wavering motifs of uptempo and downtempo sonic variations came forth as blissfully romantic, calm-inducing and seductive. The lightweight melodies with strokes of organic guitars and house-styled beats is tad bit in the vein of Röyksopp. While the duo intended on playing a little too safe with the overall experimentation and the abstract array of instruments, still their modern take on electro-pop reveries is fresh and unfamiliarly emotive. It’s your perfect chill-out music. However, it would be truly amazing if they explore more themes layered with the genre-induced trance and its stimulating allure in their future releases.

Album Rating: 3.5/5.

Album Review: Medusa by Paradise Lost

When you’re in for a debate about gothic metal and gothic doom in particular, Paradise Lost unquestionably stands out as the patron saint of the aforesaid genres. Their entire anthology has not a single bad record even though their electronic experimentation with gothic aesthetics labelled them as sell-outs by manic metal fans for once. The “return to their roots” banter is losing its appeal since the band already showcased their impeccable death-doom inspired prodigy on 2015’s “The Plague Within” after they got sidetracked with the “commercial glint”. This year they’re back again with their new album “Medusa” which is in sync with the prevailing melancholy of their last release.

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The introductory anthem “Fearless Sky” idolizes the turbid, dark atmosphere it’s composed in resonance with. It’s somewhat exhaustive for an opener and breeds monotony being repetitive with the riffwork. “Gods of Ancient” and “From the Gallows” sound more propellant and pick up pace midway to deliver the inherently darker melodies they wholeheartedly celebrate. “The Longest Winter” is finally where I got the hang of this dreary ensemble with my generous attention. It’s crafted around a sludgy instrumental setup which for a change features Nick Holmes’ clean, crestfallen vocals alternating with the sinister growls on the other tracks. The pounding drums saturated with the oppressive marrow of doom is what I always loved about Paradise Lost and this record is also in accordance with that integral component. “Medusa” is fairly more captivating than the preceding tracks mainly because of the frosty lead guitars and the fragmentary keyboards which render it more dismal and wretched in essence.

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“No Passage for the Dead” and “Until the Grave” are your traditional goth-doom oriented odes with a deliberate arrangement of heavy and downtrodden guitars, drums and nefarious roaring which fuels the overwhelming darkness. “Blood and Chaos” is my favorite song on this entire record. It’s powerful, energetic yet highly in key with the hovering antipathy. The lead melody is ritually raw and overpowering which this record somewhat lacked initially. “Frozen Illusion” strongly suggests a trail back to its cataclysmic lineage and hits a chord with the gruesome, old-school death-doom worship of their classic release “Gothic”. “Shrines” and “Symbolic Virtue” are the finishing tracks. While the former track still explores their inventiveness within the restricted constraints of metal and gothic-doom to be specific, the latter tracks is a bit dull and thrown in without delivering the intended impact.

“Medusa” is a convincing emblem of well-arranged heavy music and is in harmony with the enslaved darkside. Their progression is strategically headed in the direction it ought to. The sullen-paced musical ordeals and explosive moments plagued with agony and suffering are reciprocally orchestrated with the intention of revisiting the inbred emotional penchant and ultra-heavy, memorable tunes accustomed to the mighty Paradise Lost.

Album Rating: 3.5/5.