Critical Update #5

All of you who have stayed with me over the years will notice that I recently have been more consistent in my writing.  I think anyone would go through a slump when the constant barrage of CD’s gets overwhelming.  Well … I’m over it!   Be sure and check out my interview with Oystein G. Brun of Borknagar this time as well.


AGE OF SILENCE “Acceleration” (10 tracks).  THE END RECORDS.

Rating:  9.

This CD is not going to be a hard sell.  Just knowing that the band is composed of Andy Winter (Winds) on keys, Hellhammer on drums (need I list his resume?), Lazare (Borknagar, Solefald) doing vocals, and Eikind (Khold) on guitars is enough for most of us.  There is also a guitarist named Kobbergaard whose picture looks hauntingly familiar … Anyway, the term “supergroup” seems appropriate here.  Anyone who enjoys listening to the other bands these guys are in will want to purchase it as soon as it comes out.

For the most part Age of Silence sounds a bit like their respective bands, as if they have taken the best parts of Arcturus and Borknagar in particular, with some occasional high speed runs reminiscent of Blasphemer era Mayhem, all balanced out with Andy Winter’s versatile keyboard work and Lazare’s smooth (Vintersorg-like) vocals.  The result is that they sound to me like a sort of intense Norwegian metal version of the Moody Blues (remember Long Distance Travelor?).  These guys know how to make ethereal metal that has a real bite.  In my opinion, this CD is destined to be one of this year’s favorites among metal’s elitists everywhere.





GUEST REVIEW by a friend of mine named evans, one of the two “Metal Twins”!

Well ladies and gentleman, here we have another progressive rock outfit with enough musicianship to form at least a dozen run-of-the-mill rock bands. These guys are at the top of their game and certainly rank in the upper echelons of the genre.  Quite simply, each musician (ranging from band members of none other than Flower Kings, Transatlantic and Time Requiem) is stunning in his own right.  That being said, should KarmakanicWheel of Life be placed at the top of your wish list?  It depends entirely on what you are looking for.  The songwriting is catchy, technical, and features an amazing list of 11 guest musicians!  This album is littered with the sounds of bands past that likely influenced the core members.  Names that come to mind upon listening: Yes, King Crimson and ELP amongst others.  Now, I’m a big fan of each of these Prog patriarchs, but in a genre that seems to have trouble producing cutting edge original sounds as of late, and instead picks and chooses the sounds of yesteryear coupled with modern rock elements, I’d prefer to keep an ear out for something a bit more original.  Don’t get me wrong, if you are looking for another 70’s/contemporary Prog Rock album that will literally rattle your brain with it’s odd timing and extended song lengths then pick this up now!  But if you are on the hunt for the latest, greatest and freshest thing currently going down on the scene, I don’t feel you will find it in Karmakanic’sWheel of Life.


Score - 8/10


[end of guest review.  Thanks, Evans!]


LILITU  “The Delores Lesion”  (8 tracks).  THE END RECORDS.

Rating:  7.

          By the time a band makes their big label debut, as Lilitu has with “The Delores Lesion”, they have already spent a considerable amount of time busting their chops in the local club scene, as well as cutting demos.  Lilitu has been doing just this here in the Southeastern United States for some time.  Over the years their sound has morphed quite a bit from earthy progressive death metal, to something of a nearly Gothenburg sound, kind of like In Flames, but with a darker sound like Dark Tranquility.  So, what appears on this disc is quite different from what one might have expected from their earlier material.  What seems constant in all these years of evolution is the bands air of intensity and emotion.  But they have really tightened up and focused their energy on this album, and now the time is right for The End Records to sign them.  I expect that The Delores Lesion will be well-received here in the U.S. because of the rather straight-forward style; that is, intense death metal with recognizable song structures, melody, and variety like the Gothenburg scene is so well known for.  On the other hand, I liked the old Lilitu better.

          As an FYI, the form of their name, Lilitu, is Assyrian, not Hebrew.  People who are familiar with stories of Lilith from Rabbinic Judaism may have wondered at the spelling.  In Assyrian lore Lilitu is a wind spirit that no doubt was assimilated into Rabbinic mythology and confused or amalgamated with the Hebrew word for night, layla.  Thus we get the night creature of popular stories.  Interested persons should consult Jewish Magic and Superstition by Joshua Trachtenberg.


ORPHANED LAND  “Mabool” with Bonus Disc.  CENTURY MEDIA.

Rating:  9.

I reviewed Mabool a few updates back, so there is no need to redo that.  If you have not heard this album, you have cheated yourself out of a wonderful experience.  Anyhoo, the reason I am writing this here is because I bought the jeweled version because it comes with a bonus disc with an acoustic concert recorded live in Israel.  It contains songs from their previous albums, one of which is a medley.  It also has a cover of Paradise Lost’s “Mercy”.  Later I bought another copy of it for a professor of mine who happens to be a Rabbi.  Hopefully the acoustic parts on the album and the “unplugged” concert will give him some joy, even if the heavy parts may be a bit much for him to take.  Needless to say, I believe in the band this much and I hope they do really well with this album.


SHEPHERD  “The Coldest Day” (8 tracks).  EXILE ON MAINSTREAM

Rating:  6.5.

Apparently I don’t come out of the cave often enough.  Here is a doom band with a second album that has already split-up and I am only now learning of them.  Doom is such a broad term these days as that category has been stretched quite far by various bands.  Shepherd are, in my view, doom rock, not metal, with lots of 1960’s/1970’s influence.  There’s a little Zepplin and Hendrix in them, and a bow here and there to Black Sabbath.  But mostly they remind me of Meteorcity bands like Blind Dog, Solarized, Eternal Elysium and such.  You can also tell that these guys hang out with Sunn 0))).  Tracks 1-7 are named “Monday”, “Tuesday,” etc. with song number 8 being called “Doomsday”.  Track 6, Saturday, sounds like a grungy, doomy “Louie, Louie” if that gives you an idea of what to expect.


STEEL ATTACK  “Enslaved”  (9 tracks).  ARISE RECORDS.

Rating:  9.5.

          Steel Attack’s “Enslaved” is quite possibly the most exciting album to be released yet by Arise Records.  The band has a new vocalist and a renewed sense of purpose.  It is like they went into the studio, set their amps on “11” and said, “let’s kick some booty!”   The guitar heroics of Johan Jalonen and John Allan are breathtaking.  The rhythm section of Mike Steel on drums and Anden Andersson on bass are solid.  And Ronny Hemlin, whose vocal style could be described as Dio-esque, compliments the band really well.  Beyond the fact that this CD is quite a stirring disc musically, the lyrics give us plenty of philosophical and theological material to think about, rather than lyrics about fantasy battles and mythological creatures.  Fans ranging from Nocturnal Rites to Into Eternity will dig this band.


TIME MACHINE  “Reviviscence:  Liber Secundus” (12 tracks).  LAZER’S EDGE.

Rating:  8.

          This is high class prog.-metal.  It has a real bite too.  These guys have a whole back catalog of albums, some of which are a series as this one is.  Reviviscence is part two (“Liber Secundus”, or, Book Two) of an epic detailing good versus evil.  Book One, or rather, “Liber Primus” was appropriately entitled, “Evil”.  As expected, the members of this band play a full range of instruments (including sitar) and play them well.  My opinion is that they possess similarities to Stratovarius, Savatage, and maybe Dream Theatre.  Fans of this type of prog-rock/metal will love this album and say that it is one of the greatest.  I personally respect the music, but am not as into it as much as the whole Dream Theatre/Fates Warning crowd.


Links and Info


1.  Gary Lenaire (former Tourniquet guitarist) has formed a new band:  CRIPPLE NEED CANE   CNC has a heavy, progressive sound that grooves.  The debut release is scheduled for February, 2005.  Music samples can be heard at:


2.  Reunited San Francisco Bay Area thrashers HEATHEN have made their entire "Breaking the Silence" (1987) and "Victims of Deception" (1989) albums available for free download in the media section via their new official web site  HEATHEN new CD, "Recovered" OUT NOW!


3.  DEDICATION - "REFLECTIONS OF TIME" CD OOUT NOW !!  Italian Underground Symphony Records have finaly released "Reflections Of Time", the debut album from swedens new promising heavy metal heros DEDICATION.  The album features 10 tracks - including a HEAVY LOAD cover - of traditional heavy metal with killer vocals. Available as a digipack-CD, limited LP coming later in the fall.

Check with your local dealer or order it directly through the bands website (see url below).


A MP3 track from the album: