Review: SONATA ARCTICA – ‘Talviyö’ [Album Stream]

I love Finland’s SONATA ARCTICA.  There, I’ve said it.  Do not expect an unbiased review of their tenth studio album, ‘Talviyö’.  However, do expect a mind-blown exercise in foaming at the mouth excitement.

It is always an event when SA release a new record.  Their 2016 release (‘The Ninth Hour’) was my favorite album of that year and ‘Talviyö’ is reaching out to me with those neverending harmonies that take the band above the average power metal combo.

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Review: BLACKTOP MOJO – ‘Under The Sun’ [Album Stream Review]

Blacktop Mojo are a Texas band with lashings of attitude. The band had some of their roots in country music, but decided to go with a more rock edge.  They have a great sense of melody and power, mixing it to outstanding effect on their third album, ‘Under The Sun’.

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Review: PALE GREY LORE – ‘Eschatology’ [Album Stream]

According to their promo materials, Columbus Ohio’s Pale Grey Lorecreate focused, hook-driven heavy rock and roll that loses no edge for its focus on songwriting. Melodic vocals and subtle harmonies echo alongside the molten groove of the guitar, bass and drums, taking a time-tested formula and proving it indeed to be timeless.

Pale Grey Lore began as a collaboration between brothers Michael (guitar, vocals) and Adam Miller (drums), with Donovan Johnson (bass) joining up in the summer of 2014. Xander Roseberry (guitar, backing vocals) was added to the lineup in the winter of 2016.

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State Of The Art: Delaware’s BASTION’S WAKE [Album Stream]

*This is part of our State Of The Art series, showcasing bands every Monday from the featured state. This month’s state is Delaware.*

This is a change of pace from my usual metal fare, but Delaware’s Bastion’s Wake are an enigmatic power/symphonic band that piqued my interest with the fantasy artwork of their first album, ‘Sea Creatures and Sky Pirates’. Continue reading

Review: WOLVES AT THE GATE – ‘Eclipse’ [Album Stream]

Cedarville, Ohio is the birthplace of Wolves At The Gate. The five piece post-hardcore band have been known to balance the beauty of melody with the barbaric bite of riffs so heavy they make gravity seems weak.  ‘Eclipse’ is their fourth full length outing and is a thoughtful slice of melodic Metalcore.  I must confess, I had never heard any of their catalogue before ‘Eclipse’, but was pleasantly surprised by quality of musicianship, the strength of the songs and the production.

Vocalist/guitarist Stephen Cobucci says of the album: “We named the record ‘Eclipse’ because of how well it encapsulated the relationship the light and the dark can have. An eclipse tells you that it’s dark,but it takes truth and faith to know that the sun is still shining. All of this revolves around my walk of faith in believing the truths of the gospel message, seeking to help others find hope and peace in the love of God, as well as how to come to grips with various social/political/personal issues.

Alongside Cobucci is Ben Summers(bass), Abishai Collingsworth(drums), Nick Detty(vocals), and the band’s newest member Joey Alarcon(who co-produced with Cobucci).

The album ‘Eclipse’ follows the development path of other metalcore bands, with more clean singing and a studious dedication to melody.  This is none better demonstrated than by final song “Blessings & Curses.”  This pushes toward pop music, but with more power.

The music washes over you in waves of adrenaline and (weirdly) stillness.  It pushes you into a widescreen version of reality, where everything is epic but slowed down.  The sound makes you reflect and there is a sombre mood to the art.  Peaceful waters are moved to areas of sonic perfection, only to be brought back to life by banging songs such as my favorite, “Counterfeit” – there is nothing counterfeit about this band!  They know how to bring emotion to the boil and let it simmer on a flame of pure metal.

Epic songs?  There are more than a few on this banger.  The title track demonstrates this perfectly.  Cobucci sings like some angel and the tune is filled out with keyboards and harmonies.

Kicking songs? “Evil Are The Kings” is a great stomper, with a more old-school metalcore vibe and nice use of growling vocals.

The whole record brims with intent to be tuneful, thoughtful and emotional whilst retaining some brutal riffing.  Check it out.

State Of The Art: Mississippi’s CLAWHAMMER [Album Stream]

*This is part of our State Of The Art series, showcasing bands every Monday from the featured state. This month’s state is Mississippi.*

Clawhammer is a hard rock/heavy metal band from Mississippi formed by Paul Hill and Paul Craig.  The outfit is rounded out by Stephen McNeer on rhythm guitar, Pete Lindsey on drums and Brad Litton on bass.  Normally, there would be more detail about the group, but I can’t find any!  However, I can speak to the music and it really is classic metal, forged from the steel of the South and the artistic ethic of the doom/goth scene. Continue reading

State Of The Art: Oklahoma’s OUTSIDE THE SHADOWS [Album Stream]

*This is part of our State Of The Art series, showcasing bands every Monday from the featured state. This month’s state is Oklahoma.*

Outside the Shadows was formed originally as a Praise and Worship band, but that band split up and in 2013.

They sweated blood and released the first album ‘Forgiveness’ in October of 2013. They then released their second album ‘Ignite’ in October 2015. They have played with some amazing bands such as Screaming for Silence, Sons of Texas, Sleep Signals, and so many more!

The band name means to shine a light from the outside into the darkness and share Jesus with every individual possible. Outside The Shadows is made up of Preston Bell (vocals/guitar), Randy Stroud(drums)and Sam Krempl (bass/vocals).

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State Of The Art: STORIES THROUGH STORMS [Album Stream]

Photo Credit: MDKC Photography

*This is part of our State Of The Art series, showcasing bands every Monday from the featured state. This month’s state is Kansas.*

The clouds clear after a devastating hurricane has hit.  Life has changed beyond recognition.  You are left with with vivid recollectionsAssuming that this scenario is played out, the band Stories Through Storms from Kansas City has a vivid name and certainly are lodged in my brain as being a band telling stories in the storm of Metalcore.  They bring the thunder, the power and the freshness that follows.  On the melodic end of Metalcore, they are very welcome.

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State Of The Art: New Mexico’s AURORA UNDER WATER [Album Stream]

Photo courtesy of Papa Joe Photography

*This is part of our State Of The Art series, showcasing bands every Monday from the featured state. This month’s state is New Mexico.*

Aurora Under Water is a mixture of Metalcore, Ska, Punk, and Reggae that formed in Las Cruces, New Mexico in March of 2017. The band doesn’t look to have a solidified sound, but to just create what they like.  It is a potent mixture, with a fresh edge in a croweded market.  The talented musicians in the group are vocalist Mark Dragone, lead guitarist Andrew Adonis, rhythm guitarist/clean vocalist Chris Greeno, drummer James Puff and bassist Ryan Lauterbach.

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Interview with HEART OF JORDAN’s Elijah White

heart-of-jordan-band

Heart Of Jordan (Photo: Scott V Photography)

From Michigan, HEART OF JORDAN are a new band and they blew the doors off the Metalcore scene with their self-titled debut, which was released last year.  The band are made up of Preston Mailand on vocals, Eric TenEyck on guitar, Elijah White on guitar, Daniel Ray Fell Jr. on bass and Andrew Everett on drums.  I rated their debut as one of my top ten albums of 2018 and they have received praise from many rock journalists with their melodic take on the genre.  I was therefore excited to interview guitarist Elijah White, who is one of the most personable musicians I have had the pleasure of communicating with.

As the group were only formed in 2017, I was anxious to let Elijah explain how the band came together.

Heart of Jordan began its formation in early 2017 with Eric TenEyck (Guitar), and Andrew Everett (Drums). Andrew was filling in on drum duties for Eric’s now defunct band. After the band dissolved, Eric and Andrew decided to carry on with a new project. Preston Mailand (Vocals) was called in by Andrew and soon joined the fold after returning to Michigan from a stint in Florida playing in a small handful of gulf coast bands.

Preston and Eric combined some song ideas to create the beginning framework for the first four Heart of Jordan songs: “Enslaved”, “Deny”, “No Escape” and “Throne Alone.” Soon after, Eric reached out to me to fill out guitars. Eric and I have known one another since the early 2000’s, playing in bands together. I had been out of the scene for a while, focusing on work and family.

After a few jam sessions as a foursome, it became clear that something special was there. We currently have Alfonso Civile on full time bass duties.

I asked Elijah who was the driving force behind Heart Of Jordan‘s inception.

The concept for the name “Heart of Jordan” was introduced by Preston Mailand, during the bands first months, prior to me coming on board. Musically, Eric, Preston, and I all contributed near equally to the ideas that became the songs that you hear on the album.

I was interested in Elijah came to be a guitarist and his  influences.

Since I can remember, I’ve always gravitated toward music of all genres. Melodies are constantly playing in my head from wake to sleep. My mother bought me my first guitar at age twelve. I spent hours upon hours in my bedroom playing along to bands like Metallica, Slayer, Alice in Chains, Helmet, Soundgarden, etc. I’ve had a guitar in my hand ever since.

Leading on from finding out how he started playing guitar, I asked who Elijah rated amongst current guitarists.

Man, that’s a tough one. There are so many shredders and riffers today. Some of my favorites today are: Adam Dutkiewicz, Michael Padget, Brent Hinds, Tosin Abasi, Benjamin Weinman, and Stephen Carpenter.”

I wondered if there was a specific set of themes the band wanted to explore.

Preston writes almost all of the lyrics. During the recording of the album, some of those lyrics changed to fit new song structures, while still holding the same themes and ideas. Our primary theme on the album is the universal struggle of the human condition.

Having explored Elijah’s influences, I asked him whether there were any specific influences that came through on the debut album.

We hear quite often that we have a Killswitch Engage sound to us. There are also some 80’s metal, grunge, nu metal, and hard rock elements that push through on most of the material.

The songs on the album seem very well structured.  I asked Elijah about how the band wrote songs, whether they jam together or send files to each other.

Primarily, we send files to each other. We also try to capture ideas during rehearsal as they arise.

The band’s fanbase seem to be growing rapidly with over 45,000 streams on Spotify.  I was therefore interested in what the group had planned for 2019.

We plan on releasing at least one new single and two new music videos. We currently have a mini tour set up with our Michigan comrades in Heartsick. As well, we are are performing at Rocklahoma at the Darkside Stage. Aside form that, we are making plans for more regional touring and direct support shows for touring national acts.”

Following this up, I wondered if there was a dream tour Elijah would like to go out on and where would he would like to tour in the world.

Our album is doing really well on Spotify in Europe. That would be a first choice for me, strategically. I also think it would be pretty awesome to tour South America.

I asked him about his favorite gig to date and the reasons why.

I think I can speak for the band when I say that our most recent hometown show is our favorite show to date. Nothing beats a hometown show.

Finally, I wrapped up by asking whether the band have set any goals for themselves or whether it all happen organically.

Although we tend to be pretty spontaneous and aren’t the best with organizational skills, most of our current success has come from setting goals and general timelines to achieve those goals. It also helps to have an album that people really like!

With that, I wished Elijah and the band all the best for the future.  If you haven’t checked out Heart Of Jordan yet, you really should.  The band are the heartbeat of a new musical generation.