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

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Mod Sun - Look Up

                Every once in a while I check out a hip-hop album to see what the state of the art is, hoping against hope that the genre has produced a new sound, a novel voice, or a good album of any kind.  When I finally cranked open this album, not knowing what to expect, I discovered that my most recent opportunity to poke my head in the door had arrived.
                I guess people who enjoy this sort of thing will enjoy this record too.  It features a rapping white guy whose lyrics and delivery are pretty standard for the industry.  I suppose he should get some credit for not being a beat track and rhyming dictionary; there are original musical elements here, including some guitar, and the delivery isn't just a staccato recitation of boastful poetry.
                The singer enjoys the full panoply of what auto-tune has to offer, combining that sound with various musical elements to create his tunes.  From the passages that don't sound like he leaned on digital trickery, he's got a nice enough voice and really didn't need the autotune as often as it was deployed.  His rap delivery will stand on par with pretty much anyone else I've heard, and he tries different styles out at various times to create music as much as he's creating message music.

                While I won't myself be hanging onto this collection, it's more from not being a fan of the music, and that he hasn't created anything that I'm enjoying.  If you enjoy hiphop and rap, this will likely be as enjoyable as anything else you've heard.  As for me... I'm going back to the Hamilton Soundtrack; it's all the hiphop I need.

Tempel - The Moon Lit Our Path

                "Carvings in the Door," an eight and a half minute guitar-drenched instrumental journey through the sturm-und-drang-iest territory imaginable, alternates between doom and speed metal during its long passage.  It's a perfect introduction to The Moon Lit Our Path and completely prepares you for the next forty-five minutes.
                Churning out guitars and keyboards like a predator, Ryan Wenzel and his drummer/partner Rich Corle put the "heavy" in heavy metal.  These five tunes all clock in at epic lengths, generally in the eight to twelve minute range, feeding and abusing every metal-guzzling cell in your brain.  If more black and death metal bands followed this approach and left the incoherent vocals behind, focusing solely on the music, the world would be a better place.
                Each track, while sounding quite similar, features its own little moments of uniqueness and awesome moments of originality.  The speed metal portions of "Carvings..." do not appear again, while three-fourths of the way through the twelve minute saga that is "Descending Into The Labyrinth" the electric axe attack mellows for several minutes while an acoustic guitar is allowed time to paint its own pastoral idyll, before the song descends back into the crunch and grind.

                Without being assaulted or distracted by vocals and lyrics, there's not  much else to say except "Buy This Album!"  If you enjoy metal in any of its modern iterations, this is beyond cool.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Royal Thunder - Crooked Doors

Royal Thunder
Crooked Doors

". . . Three . . . Two . . . One . . . Hit it!"  The explosion destroyed the building that used to house a classic rock radio station.  The dust and flame and detritus took quite awhile to settle, but when the air cleared, lying on top of the mound of rubble was a single black disc, about twelve inches across, and grooved with tunes.  "Hey!" the foreman of the demolition crew called over to his men as they cleaned, "You ever hear of 'Royal Thunder'?"  The hard hats all nodded a "No" and went back to cleaning the remains."  Later that evening, the foreman pulled out this record and threw it on his turntable.  What came out of the speakers astounded him, and when he called up the station's manager at their new location, the two of them worked out the magic that had to have happened.  Somehow, in the violence and movement and disruption of the demolition, a number of records from the 197s, 80s and 90s somehow met up, traded parts and became this awesome pastiche of classic rock, early metal, 80s metal and rock and a few bits from the 60s to become this miraculous singularity.  Royal Thunder became.
Living in the same oeuvre as Acid King, Valkyrie, The Grape and The Grain, and Queens of the Stone Age, Royal Thunder's Crooked Doors is a tour de force of what might best be termed neo-retro hard rock.  Each one of these bands sounds unique, exercises great musical skill, and writes music that feels at once throwback and exciting.  Saying that Cooked Doors could have been released in 1979, 1989, or 1999 in no way diminishes the excellence of this record.  Classic rock stations still proliferate for a reason.
Based on what I found at Bandcamp, my review copy's track listing differs from the final release order - figured I get that out of the way to explain any confusion.
Most of the tunes feature straight-up driving rock and roll differing from the afore-referenced groups by virtue of bassist/vocalist Miny Parsons' oh-so Janis Joplin-esque voice.  Josh Williams and Will Fiore on guitars turn out some monster riffs, and Evan Diprima's pace-setting drums all work so well together it's quite obvious these guys have history.  Founded in 2007, nine years of practice and performing will do that to a quartet.  Tunes like "Ear on the Fool" and "Forget You," "Floor" and "The Line" prominently feature the classic sound that inspired the opening paragraph of this review; all guitar solos, heavy rhythm, driving drums and effort-laden vocals.
However, the band does know how to develop other tempos and sounds, most notably on "The Bear I & II," a pair of tracks featuring a much quieter sound.  In no way a power ballad, they certainly demonstrate range.  My preference lies on the harder end of the spectrum, but "The Bear I & II" sure are pretty.  It appears, based on Bandcamp, that the final track list has "The Bear" pair ending the collection of eleven tracks, a wise choice, in my opinion, as "II" can cause drowsiness in overworked listeners.
Ultimately, the station manager and the demolition foreman decided not to keep this bit of audio magic to themselves and, gloriously, we get to enjoy Royal Thunder knocking down our walls and making Crooked Doors happen in our own worlds.