Reviews, interviews, articles, and other blather about music from the mind of Yugoboy

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

InAeona - Force Rise the Sun

Force Rise the Sun

                The opening riffs of InAeona’s Force Rise the Sun promise an electronics-laden meditative collection.  The opening riffs lie.  Force Rise the Sun builds to a crescendo of guitar, bass, synth and vocals that carry the listener much farther than a digital koan ever could.
                InAeona’s sound is being described as post-metal, post-prog and various other terms and phrases that fail to really indicate the driving force and unique sounds coming from the trio of Boston-based musicians.  There’s definitely some power metal as well as some industrial elements being pushed out, but always in support of beautiful tunes and soaring vocals by Bridge (the band has chosen the one-named artist trope for their official bio at Prosthetic Records).  Female-fronted metal bands are nothing new, but they are becoming significantly less rare these days, and InAeona demonstrate why this trend is going to continue into the foreseeable future.
                With Dave on bass and James on drums, Bridge’s guitars and vocals drive some really enjoyable tracks of the sort that can occasionally be faulted for encouraging risky driving – loud, driving, enveloping and relentless.  While each song is a unique experience, they also possess a pattern that repeats itself.  Every tune opens with industrial and musical elements starting slow and building to the point where Bridge starts her singing.  During the vocals, the song retains a very metal and manic pace that feels like it never stops building and growing.  The song then concludes with a coda that reverses the intro helping to go from pulsing and throbbing back to a slower, calmer place.

                That each song fits this template doesn’t mean the album is repetitive or boring.  This couldn’t be further from the experience you’ll have.  It means each track exists as a unique experience for the listener to get lost in.  Force Rise the Sun is assuredly a place you will want to get lost in.  How long you stay lost is up to you, but the experience will not disappoint.

Haybaby - Sleepy Kids

Sleepy Kids

                Performing the type of female-vocals-driven alternative music that catches the ear and demonstrates solid musical acumen that ensures they stay busy performing live frequently, Haybaby’s Sleepy Kids delivers a sonic experience at once familiar, yet with a touch of the personalization that keeps them from fading into the crowd.  The six song EP reviewed here has since been flushed out into a full album of tunes that, if these six are any indication, are definitely worth a few listens and certainly worth checking them out if they perform at a venue near you.
                According to the various reports I found while Googling the band, they get frequent bookings in and around their native New York City (Brooklyn specifically), and manage to remain pretty busy in that crowded scene.  Sleepy Kids certainly proves they deserve all the attention they get.
                “Old Friends” opens the sextet of tracks with Leslie Hong plucking out a solitary guitar beat before accompanying herself with haunting vocals for the verses.  During the choruses bassist Sam Yields maintains the beat, while Hong goes full One Eyed Doll with the guitar and shrill vocals.  Recent addition Jeremy Duvall on drums performs well in support of the two front people.
                “New Friends” follows with both verses and chorus meeting on between “Old Friend”’s extremes.  This track stays solidly in the alternative sound space created by those who’ve gone before with their distorted guitars and flat-yet-urgent vocals.
                Haybaby relies less on distorted riffs to disguise a lack of creativity than do many alternative bands.  The third track “Sharks” backs up the melancholically cheerful vocals with nice string and drum work, never resorting to chords and burying the song under a layer of fuzz.  This is just solid alternative music, never quite getting to radio-friendly, but always enjoyable.  “Pizza Party” continues this style, but keying down the verve and urgency for the verse elements of the tune, and making the instruments do the full load of the chorus ramp-up in tempo and tone.  I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a song where the chorus is vocals-less, but it really works for “Pizza Party.”
                The collection is rounded out with “Her” and “Elevator Song.”  “Her” continues the stylistic excellence of the EP, while “Elevator Song” allows Duvall space to shine and break out a bit from beat support and become a unique element in the Haybaby mix.

                Haybaby’s Sleepy Kids delivers everything good and sublime that female-fronted alternative bands can offer.  It’s never so unique and different that it’s off-putting, but it keeps its own sound and demonstrates why we continue to seek out new music and new artists.  We’ll never be lacking for a soundtrack to our lives if we keep finding audio treats like Haybaby.

First Ghost - Real Eyes

Real Eyes

The intersection of Power Punk Alley and Alternative Boulevard is haunted.  At first blush First Ghost sounds like you’ve heard them before.  Vocalist Ryan Sweet brings the standard slightly flat singing that signals that First Ghost is “Alternative,” yet the first four tracks of Real Eyes – “Rain,” “Shaking,” “Westdel Bourne,” and “Someone Else” allow guitarist Sweet and bassist/drummer Anton DeLost to shred with less distortion than many recent alternative releases.  The clarity of the sound, powered by DeLost’s drumming gives Real Eyes a more punk ethos.
                “Someone Else,” the EP’s fifth track opens quite a bit slower than the first four, but patience rewards the listener with a rise to the harder punkier sound First Ghost should become known for.  The title track closes out the collection opening with a more classic guitar riff reminiscent of “La Bamba,” but once Sweet opens his mouth, First Ghost moves into more established alternative territory.  “Real Eyes” is the EP’s most musically adventurous and enjoyable track, simply for the range it demonstrates and the risks the band takes.  This is the track I’d distribute as the single.

                The only place London, Ontario-based First Ghost seemingly refuses to take risks are in the lyrics department.  All six tunes despair of love and broken relationships and people.  The lack of lyrical maturity nestled inside the musical excellence of the EP disappoints a  bit, but if you listen for the music alone, you’ll not be disappointed.  First Ghost’s Real Eyes EP fits comfortably in the alternative camp without getting lost and smothered by sound-alikes.  Their just-unique-enough sound keeps them from stale same-ness and is definitely worth your time Amazon/iTunes credits.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Murder in Rue Morgue - Death's Divide EP

Murder in Rue Morgue
Death's Divide EP

                Auburn, NY-based Murder in Rue Morgue celebrates the release of their new EP Death's Divide.  With name and EP titles like that, is there any question that this will be anything but a monster metal mix?  From the opening notes of "Atom Smasher," the foursome establishes the sound and fury that mark the tone of the EP; sounding as if a NWOBHM band fell into bed with a mid-90s thrash band.
                Danile Ouimette and CJ Carr's guitars in "Atom Smasher" cleanly and forcefully chew into the tune, while at least two different vocalists contribute.  One, the screamer, lashes out the verses, while a shout/singer belts out the chorus.  All four of the  guys in MRM work the vocals at different times in this collection, something I've only seen with one other band: the speed-death metal act Mutilation Rites.  For that band, distinguishing between the vocalists was tough due to the thorough growling all of them exhibited (I still say their warm-up sounded like cats working out hairballs more than singers flexing their vocal chords).  MRM exhibit an altogether more creative use of their vocal talents, allowing each vocalist to sing, shout, scream or growl as their skills and the songs' needs present themselves.
                The disc's title track comes second and carries a very (surprisingly) catchy chorus amid all the guitars.  This track also moves the guitars away from the NWOBHM sound on "Atom Smasher" by drizzling distortion all over the lead and rhythm.  The performance style remains relatively NWOBHM-ish, but the distortion allows MRM to claim their own corner of the metal uiniverse and stand apart from cover acts and style artists.
                "Comatose," following "Death's Divide," eases back on the distortion and jams out a killer thrash tune, easy enough to bang one's head to; guitars and Josh Haines' drums and screaming and shouting making this track some fun noise.  "Amongst the Lies" opens the second half as nearly straight-up thrash, featuring lots of rhythm guitar and the quartet's signature growly verses and sung chorus.  The solos on this track carry the tune into a second tier of excellence.  They've been really good up to this point, but for this track, they really act almost as a third vocal track. 
                John Wolff's bass opening to "Burn Me Up" sets a terrific tone introduces yet another mosh-fest of crunchy guitars, pounding rhythm and vocals that will fuel the pit better than any other tune on this EP.  "Empire" closes out the sextet of tracks, keeping the energy high, not backing down on the sonic assault that makes this EP almost a half-hour of heavy metal heaven.