Title: “Live At Cadogan Hall”
Label: Eagle Records
Release Date: 3/29/2011
Genre: Acoustic Rock
I’m not going to lie to the readers and say that my two decade appreciation for Marillion music has been one of nothing but bliss because that would be wrong. Yes I began my journey with the band as a Fish fan but I also embraced the amazing vocal register and talents of Steve Hogarth when he replaced him in 1989. That being said I have ridden the roller coaster of musical output that the band has given us since H began his tenure. I loved what he brought to the band in the beginning but questioned a lot of the experimentation that was done on the whole as the later years came to pass. It seemed as though Marillion were opting to be the band that confused my musical palette the most or were actively choosing to vex those fans who wanted to clearly define what they were “all about” in terms of sound. To better explain what I mean let me say that while I loved “Marbles” when it came out, I was less than pleased with “Somewhere Else” and found myself bored to tears with their acoustic reworking on “Less Is More”. Oddly enough this “Live At Cadogan Hall” was filmed during the 2009 “Less Is More” tour which I did not manage to attend when it came through town and that fact alone had me curious. I was intrigued based on not enjoying “Somewhere Else” but loving their “Somewhere Over London” live film which brought that tour to your living room. Clearly Marillion seemed able to recapture ones interest with the solid live show if they somehow missed you on the studio recording.
Continue reading “Live At Cadogan Hall” by Marillion
Artist: Within Temptation
Title: “Acoustic Night”
Label: Roadrunner Records
Release Date: 11/24/2009
Genre: Gothic Rock
I’ve happily been a fan of Within Temptation since I first saw their video for “Mother Earth” on an internet music service once run by Yahoo.com and I have kept following them ever since that time. With this being the case I felt that I was able to offer some solid insight into the band’s releases a little better than a more casual observer. If you are just joining us about this wonderful band then I suggest hitting their Wikipedia page to get some more background for I’ve not the time to recant history in this album review, but once you’ve done that by all means please pick up where you left off. As many know, the band plays a thunderous brand of Symphonic Gothic Metal and is fronted by the soaring vocal powers of Sharon den Adel and with albums like “Mother Earth” and “Shining Force” has made tens of thousands of fans around the world who follow them with incredible levels of passion and loyalty. This is easy to find being the case when you realize just how good so many of their tunes are. The latest album is entitled “An Acoustic Night At The Theatre” and this finds the band joining the ranks of the countless groups who have already slowed things down a little bit in terms of tempo in order to deliver a set of their greatest tunes in the acoustic sense. Admittedly this works better for some bands than it does for others and I am happy to report that Within Temptation is able to do this with apparent ease. Let’s look deeper into the album shall we?
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Title: “Less Is More”
Label: Eagle Records
Release Date: 10/28/2009
Genre: Progressive Rock
Simply put “Less Is More” amounts to Marillion coming off as an Easy Listening artist since its content finds the band taking a number of their tunes and minimizing them to the bare bones by not only slowing them down, reworking the melodies and delivering them acoustically as well. Based on this, it becomes an album that only a few choice fans of the group will be interested in giving a listen to. Before I continue on I must declare to the world that I am a long time Marillion fan and have been supporting them for a couple of decades now but lately their releases are making it harder and harder for me to do this based on how much distance they keep putting between the legacy listener and their own musical adventuring. The band originally formed in 1979 and had had singer Steve Hogarth at the helm since 1988. Over these past thirty years they have slowly morphed from an intensely lyrically visual Prog-Rock band into something more like Atmospheric Experimental Rock and as result lose fans from the past while making some new ones that would not have liked the old stuff anyways. Hearing these compositions acoustically is “nice” at best for me, but this is based on my wanting to be set straight by the group once again after the ill-received “Happiness Is The Road” double album that they last gave us. That release lost me, and I had hoped that its follow up would get back on track like they showed us could be done with “Marbles”. They followed that release with “Somewhere Else” which was uhm…..let’s move on shall we.
Continue reading “Less Is More” by Marillion
Label: Trouble, Inc.
Release Date: 2008
Genre: Acoustic Doom
Fans of the legendary Doom Metal band Trouble will really enjoy some of the latest releases that come to us from under the bands own power and the first of these would be their “Unplugged” release. The thirty minute collection of six songs brings you to a different side of the Doom band’s sound because while acoustic in design there is still a trademark bit of darkness apparent on the album. It’s not often that one hears a crushing Doom outfit doing their thing with acoustic guitar, piano and minimal drums but yet Trouble manages to make this work out very well. They start out with a new number called “7:00am” which is a pleasant track that has a smooth groove to it. Singer Eric Wagner’s signature voice works well within this context of singing and he keeps it very mellow and understated for much of the album. “Rain” sounded excellent and was quite the somber track that while playing the listener can almost envision a slow and steady storm taking place during as the band performs. Drummer Jeff Olson delivers some tasty piano during this one as well and it is perhaps my second favorite from the CD. “Smile” was another new one and this was very upbeat and perhaps just a little too much so considering we are dealing with a Doom band but in the end it worked out well for them and shows that not all things need to be dismal. “Flowers” and “Requiem” are more acoustic re-workings of their older tracks as is the CD’s closing tune and while I liked them, I had to say that this was the one I was the most curious about. “Misery” is rather interesting when being done in this fashion and while slightly mellower than the original it still packs quite the punch. Trouble acolytes will remember this one as being called “The Misery Shows” on the album that was simply titled “Trouble”. Hopefully you readers have that one in your collection somewhere as over the years it has proven to be very difficult to find.
Continue reading “Unplugged” by Trouble
Label: Virgin Records
Release Date: 3/6/2007
Genre: Hard Rock
If you have listened to Korn in the past then you know full well the level of angst-ridden Nu Metal that they are capable of. Now captured in the ever-popular unplugged format that MTV launched we find the band changing things up a little bit as they present an entirely different sound to their established tunes. I admit that I was unsure how this would actually work because Korn music is on the aggressive and angry side for the most part. However with the unplugged versions we find singer Jonathan Davis keeping himself a little more sedate and calmer than many of his fans ever would expect him. His pitch does raise up as needed for the choruses of songs like “Falling Away From Me” and “Freak On A Leash” of course but primarily he keeps his vocals very understated. As far as concerts like this go there are some surprises to be found for the listener and the first such instance comes in the presence of Amy Lee, lead singer of Evanescence, who helps out with “FOAL”. I don’t know how she became involved in this performance and wondered if it was primarily because of her popularity with her main band as opposed to any other reason. She does add some nice high notes to the track just the same. Can an Evanescence Unplugged be far behind I am left wondering. The next surprise is their cover of the Radiohead classic “Creep” which Davis dedicates to all the kids and adults who had ever been picked on in life. They do a good job of it but I always prefer the original to any other presentation when it comes to this song as no one seems to capture it as good as Radiohead did.
Continue reading “MTV Unplugged” by Korn