Label: Independent Artist
Release Date: 7/25/2008
Genre: Progressive Experimental Metal
Hung’s newest CD “Progeny” is one that immediately draws you into their musical web from the moment that the album begins to play. To me this was based on the overall depth of the dark melodies that start it off and their clear understanding about the progressive side of things as well. It opens with the title track which was a slower number and despite this it held an essence of sorrow thanks to Lyris Hung’s singing violin which manifests itself very tastefully all around. The vocals of Dmitry Kostitsyn are largely growling ones yet he manages to slide in some clean lines as well which add to the songs drama. There are a number of calm interludes that seemed to focus on the bass playing of Sam Roon and of course when placed all together I found it very satisfying and a band that was as intriguing as they were talented. The track ran for some ten minutes but it was not a boring span and instead one that found me eager to continue into the release. “Desert Of Sad” came up second and was what I considered the head banger of the album since it was a lot more driving than the opening track. This one has a couple of points where you feel the urge to get more into it. As an EP there are only five tracks delivered and while this was the case it seemed that after the opener that my favorite number fell to “Sediment Of War” and this was based on the really “live” sound it had to it.
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Artist: Ambient Death
Title: “Time Eclipse”
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Melodic Death/Progressive Metal
Rating: Very Good
Growing up Metal in an area like Brooklyn, NY cannot always be easy for a fan of the stuff these days as the diversity of the region often finds either Pop drivel or Rap are the musical forms that hold sway on mainstream outlets and offer little interest to those who crave the sound of something far heavier. Fortunately being underground is the seed upon which Metal’s enormous tree had been planted and there are bands of all genre aspects hungry to have you hear what they can do. One such band is Brooklyn’s own Ambient Death, and I admit that the name first intrigued me based on my initial perceptions of this very same genre. It’s not often that one finds a group using the same nom de guerre as a musical style after all so when the chance came to absorb what they were all about I looked forward to the chance. The unsigned group is led and was founded by guitarist/vocalist/guitar synth Lucas Klepacki and their EP “Time Eclipse” features five tracks (six if you count the hidden number). The EP is an equal a mix of instrumental interlude or setup pieces and full on vocal tracks giving the listener three of each type. It all begins with “Flash”, a keyboard heavy intro ala Van Halen’s “1984” that definitely takes you on a journey of its own before “Manhunt” begins. Interestingly enough the band is NOT your conventional Death or Thrash fest and seems to owe a lot more of their vibe to the likes of Iron Maiden and even some Progressive acts of note based on the overall musical ability that they are presenting the listener.
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Release Date: 11/27/2007
Genre: Melodic Power Metal
Rating: Good/Very Good
Straight out of New Jersey comes Ethereality, a band of young musicians who show that all of those Power and Melodic Metal bands who visited us from Europe over the years have clearly planted seeds that are growing into interesting bands here in the States. “Renaissance” is the bands four song EP and it presents their wares rather well, and based on the professional production and presentation it can hardly be labeled as a “demo”. Fronted by Rick Leben (vocals and lead guitar), the guys all show an appreciation of the Progressive side as well as they often indulge into long musical forays on the presented tunes. Leben himself is in possession of an excellent high vocal register that called to my mind the talented Tony Harnell (formerly of TNT). His guitar playing is also spot on and works well for the songs they included but I did have one minor critique about that and it’s in the overall length of most of these tracks. With the exception of “Tabula Rasa”, a smooth almost acoustic driven track with glass breaking screams, every song passes the seven minute mark. While this might be suitable for a band like Dream Theater or Symphony X it is hardly necessary for a group that is looking to first win you over and have you remember them do it. For instance, “I Cant Dream (With My Brother )” is a fine tune that is very energetic from beginning to end but could have lost almost two minutes of its closing movement and been your quick introduction to the way this band does things. Instead, it continues on and you are left saying “hmmm, why is this part still going”. I would have left the choice of lengthy number be their epic closer of “Renaissance” because be aware when all of your songs are long, every one becomes your epic and hence makes you rather predictable as a band.
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Artist: Dark Empire
Title: “Distant Tides”
Label: Independent (Unsigned)
Release Date: 4/25/2006
Genre: Power Metal
When I received the Dark Empire CD “Distant Tides” I felt the presence of Persuader/Savage Circus singer Jens Carlsson would definitely add some level of promise to the music that I would hear on this release. The vocal powerhouse being coupled with guitar virtuoso Matt Moliti finds the two leading the charge into Power Metal glory bringing to mind similarities of the existing giants Blind Guardian and Gamma Ray. The 6 song CD is loaded with stellar tracks and as you listen you will come to agree that without a doubt this band has the potential to stand alongside the notables in the genre. Opener “We Will Never Die” showcase Jens vocal prowess very well, and if you have heard his previous recordings in Persuader and Savage Circus there is no denying the dead on similarities he has to the Blind Guardian front man Hansi. The music is different from theirs of course but the almost spot on sound of the voices might cause confusion to some listeners who catch this in the middle or tail end of the track. I enjoyed “The Alchemist” as well and feel the vivid imagery used in the lyrics does the job you expect of music like this; bringing you to other worlds and times. Moliti also shines on the keyboards during “The Final Vision” which is an instrumental that touches upon the Progressive Metal genre very well.
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Title: “All The Splendor And Rot”
Label: Independent Release (Unsigned)
Release Date: 2004
Genre: Hardcore/Thrash Metal
Rating: Very Good
Bringing a hefty dose of Hardcore inspired Metal to the table comes Slugnut straight out of North Carolina. The interesting thing about them right off the bat is the fact that their lead vocalist is also their drummer Jason Wheeler. You normally find this sort of thing in a Power or Melodic band but seldom in a group that so focuses on brutal thrashings. Wheeler does fine in the role and until I perused the CD booklet and promo sheet I would have thought him a singer on his own while another drummer slammed the kit. Keith Fairweather and Nate Harriss handle the guitars and bass and I think for those fans that like stuff like old school Hardcore of DRI and the thrashings of Pro-Pain will enjoy the stuff that Slugnut does. The guys do a good job in this area. I liked the recording, as it was professionally delivered but in some cases there is a level of similarity in the basic structure of the songs. I find that this is the case that this genre gets the most as the emphasis aims at what the singer is screaming and the consistent riff to stomp to more than overall diversity in the playing. I give credit to Wheeler for mixing up the drumming a little bit more than one often finds in this type of music. The 14 song CD rates a very good and is worth looking into if you like Hardcore inspired Metal along the lines of Hatebreed and a group that offers respect to the old school then this is a band you will like. I leaned towards “Revoked”, “Aggressive Front” and “Livid” the most myself.
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