Ola Englund- Master Of The Universe

Let me get all the stereotypes out of the way for you.  I was a latecomer in regards to Ola Englund and The Haunted years ago, I wasn’t there from the beginning of his band.  He’s a phenomenal guitarist who’s highly underrated and more diverse than people want to give him credit for.  Yeah he can play some cool melodic leads and some quicker stuff, but man…..the guy has always been a riffer.  And yeah, his first solo album isn’t what you’d expect…..point number 2.  He isn’t that flashy guitarist who is doing his darnedest to rip off Michael Angelo Batio.  England wrote SONGS, not guitar clinics.  Some people shy away from guitarist adventures, because they actually can be shred-a-thons and not focus on songs as a whole. That’s where one of his strengths come into play….his riffing and songwriting, not overdoing guitar leads ON EVERY PART.

Here’s my third point…..it’s not obscenely heavy, believe it or not.  It’s actually a big nod to progressive music even classic prog rock from the 70’s and years gone by.  There’s even some brass and piano on some of his songs! No, you’re not getting an instrumental death metal offering it’s actually extremely versed.  Again I’ll hammer home the point he’s more diverse than most people think he is.  It’s a truly unique display of music that is his own, and has a broad sound that is far from sounding like he’s imitating anyone.  There’s even some slight moments of jazz here and there, as well.  It’s a truly great experience. Ola is himself, and boy does it ever show in this unique album.

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Let’s not forget the fact he’s a successful Youtuber in this modern age, and not only makes informative videos with a stellar side of comedy…..but also has his own guitar company Solar Guitars.  This man is a modern day Renaissance Man in regards to music….not only writing and playing, but making videos AND a guitar company.  Oh, and he PRODUCED this album too. Again….the versatility of Englund shines as bright as it ever has right now.  He puts his heart and soul into his music, and it was put on huge display for his first solo album.  The album is absolutely crammed to with melodic sections, clean guitar parts and stellar drumming as well.  The occasional keyboard parts and specifically the sultry sweet saxophone in “Solar Part 2” is a ridiculously beautiful and moody addition to a well rounded album.

“Master Of The Universe” is such a cool album that goes against these stereotypes you’d expect from a metalhead in a successful band, and shows sides you don’t really see in The Haunted.  If you want to try something new, give Ola’s debut a serious look. The album officially will be released on March 24th, so get your preorder in and dive into the deep creative mind of Ola Englund.

Here’s one of the epics, incase you weren’t convinced.

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Try Something New Thursday 3-14-19

Hello people! If you haven’t checked out our past editions of this weekly column you can do so right here.  We’re gonna be jumping around today with all kinds of sounds and  genres, so fasten your seatbelt! Enjoy the tunes were dropping on you earthlings! Or at least try to, for our sake….okay?

INNER URGE

Start this Thursday evening off with something light, melodic and atmospheric.  The Indiana 4 piece (and bigger live) instrumental jazz/fusion/ambient band has meshed together so many sounds you can’t really staple them to something musically.  These guys have layered their songs so nicely with the biggest and also most subtle arrangements possible you’ll be pleased ear to ear.  I dig this band because of their expansive sound and willing to experiment outside of jazz and fusion.  There’s funk, xylophone, bongos, horns and brass, synth, violin and a ton more different instruments that are involved in Inner Urge.  Want some more? They also have some weird sections from classic prog artists like King Crimson and band mastermind Robert Fripp, and some psychedelic sections too.  They’re just a really, really diverse band with a really cool sound.  Check out their latest album below.

DISTRICT 97

Chicago’s funky melodic progressive rockers District 97 have been promoting a live album recently. I caught these guys opening up a few years ago for Pain Of Salvation who they went on tour with.  Their vocalist Leslie is an absolute monster on the microphone, with a great range and energetic personality.  Some sweet guitar work and rhythms are a huge staple for the band as well.  It’s an expansive and more diverse sound than some prog bands, considering there’s more than keyboards to it.  There’s all sorts of strings (cello shows itself here and there), some brass and tambourine as well.  They caught my attention with their wildly appealing and broad set, showing the experimental world they’re not a one trick pony.  Check out a few of their songs below and keep up with their success.  They even played on Cruise To The Edge a few years ago! And they even covered a King Crimson song at one point too, which is pretty sweet.  Check ’em out!

 

 

 

SPECTRUM OF DELUSION

Time for the heavy shit! A sweet surprise from the Netherlands Spectrum Of Delusion brings a tastier take to technical death metal.  The fretless bass is an absolute staple to the band’s sound like Beyond Creation. The band’s guitar work is beyond phenomenal, and vocalist Douwe is a legitimate beast fronting the group.  Check out their album “Esoteric Entity” below and tell me you’re not convinced of their talents.  I DARE YOU TO LISTEN!

TORTOISE FOREST

Today’s local highlight features an instrumental progressive/fusion/jam band from Buffalo.  These guys released their dynamic debut album in January that I absolutely love and you all should too.  Their sweet guitar work is extremely versed, wild and entertaining.  Lots of cool duals and great rhythms, and even some tasty bass licks.  These guys rip hard, and if you want to listen to something different they’re a definitely great option.  Break your old habits and TRY SOMETHING NEW, EH???? Check out the full length below, then buy it so the tortoises can keep living in their forest okay?

 

XENOSIS

You think I’d let you all go that easily? Here’s another heavier band to wake you guys up, incase you thought we went soft this week.  Xenosis made my 2018 best of list for obvious reasons and should listen to them right now.  The guys bring a progressive death metal sound that’s a bit more unique than others in the genre.  While there’s a lot of cool guitar licks and fun rhythms, their wild sound doesn’t give up too much in the groove department.  There’s lots of headbanging rhythms that’ll make you want to start a pit at your desk at work. Check out their under rated album “Devour And Birth” below, and then make your way backwards in their library to their two previous releases.

Serpents Andrew Mikhail March 2019 Interview

I asked Serpents about a few things, and their upcoming album “Temet Nosce”.  Listen to the single from their upcoming album “The Sunset And The Silhouette” right here. Check out this detailed interview!
TMR: What factors led to the birth of Serpents? 
 I’d like to start this interview in true “Andrew Mikhail fashion” by quoting Plato’s famous line, “Necessity is the mother of invention”; and at that certain time in my life, I had nothing but necessity. I was harboring many mixed emotions then, and yet, at the same time…hours and hours of music. In my heart and soul, it was all meant to stay within; but after speaking with a close friend back in 2010, I was convinced that this needed to be unleashed unto the world…for my own spiritual well-being as well ha.  The fact that anyone else wanted to play that music with me, or simply listen to it; was unexpected…but an added bonus in the end. For that, I am always grateful.

TMR: Explain your upcoming album. Who did you record with? What’s the theme and lyrical motivation?
In a nutshell, this is the third album I’ve created under the Serpents name; and it’s the final installment of a “trilogy” of sorts, as the previous albums had an overall theme to them lyrically and conceptually that all tied together in a “grand sense”. This one though? There are about 6 parallel story-lines simultaneously intertwining within “Temet Nosce”, that I purposefully leave to the listener to uncover; but like the previous albums, there is a huge part of myself and my story hidden within the lyrics. However, at times, it’s a bit more obvious; I mean hell, the album title is Latin for “Know Thyself” ha. As far as the behind the scenes credits go, the album was written, recorded, and produced by myself pretty much; with the exception of some additional help by credited friends. Later on in the process though, I had sought out the help of Logan Mader (Gojira, Five Finger Death Punch, DevilDriver) for mixing, mastering, and additional production duties. Being a huge Soulfly fan, and a fan of his production work, I can proudly say that it has been a really cool experience working with him on this album; and from the feedback so far…the people really love it too.
TMR: Your sound is so unique. Tell us what bands and artists influenced it? 
There really is no specific band or artist that directly influences my lyrics or music, as my musical tastes span all across the globe. Specifically, there are obvious ones that many can throw on the table for conversation’s sake; like: Behemoth, Dimmu Borgir, Opeth, Devin Townsend, etc. but even as I type this, I’m checking out the latest Katy Perry single!  I mean, the list could go on for days ha. However, from growing up in a household that would have traditional Assyrian music to bands like Ministry blaring in the house; we fast forward to today, where I listen to all different kinds of music no matter what. Every day and every night, it doesn’t matter, I try to stumble across a new band, genre, or artist at least twice a week just to keep things fresh for me artistically and even production wise. These things definitely factor into our sound, but I’d also say my curiosity for finding the “perfect” song keeps me yearning for more as a listener and creator. It’s a happy yet never-ending pursuit.
TMR: Any new bands you discovered recently you wanna share?
Again, it really depends on the genre, but there are a few up-and-coming groups that I feel are going to do great things for their respective genres. Some favorites in my regular rotation as of late, include: Warforged, The Zenith Passage, Painless, DRAEMINGS, Thieves, and more more more.
TMR: Andrew- tell us about the split with Oceano. Do you feel that Serpents is like an artistic rebirth of yourself?
It depends on the day you ask ha. However, looking back, my general understanding of the situation is that we were kids at the time. Plain and simple. There’s really no need to go over details anymore, as it’s been quite some time now. Some grudges had died shortly after, and some still live on; that’s life, and that’s alright. All I can say when looking in the mirror, is that I tried my best and I leave it at that. Not to mention, the band that I had left in 2010, has transformed into something completely different; and that’s great. I’m a fan of what they have done since then; which even solidifies the feelings of it being a “past life” of sorts when looking back. Like the world does after one dies, it has moved on with or without me; and that is the reality. In addition to, I’ve personally been through a lot since the departure; and that journey really set the precedent of Serpents, and my ongoing rebirth as an artist and human being. My days in Oceano are from a past version of myself that is thankfully well-documented and often nostalgic to look back on; but I have “died a thousand deaths” since then. As each album passes, Serpents is a personification and/or manifestation of “the eternal return.” A never-ending cyclical process, yet, a glimpse into times as I see fit; over and over and over again. Within each album, that very idea is plastered all over the imagery, the lyrical themes, the merch, everything; you just have to be able to see it.
TMR: What’s your favorite song you’ve written in Serpents?
That’s a tough question, as I try to never write a song that I don’t enjoy! However, to avoid being cliche by saying anything off the new album; I will say “The Shadow of Timelessness” is a favorite lyrically, and “The Virtuous Remliel” would have to be one of the favorites musically. Both are pretty “deep cuts” in contrast to what our listeners usually enjoy ha. Go figure.
TMR: What is your favorite thing about music? What qualities of it attracted you?
Qualities aren’t really important to me, as I approach music like one would approach a painting; I want the whole picture all at once. I want to skim over, investigate, pick apart, interpret, and even be hypnotized by it. That is my attraction to music. If it is forced or has no substance, then I don’t care for it; plain and simple. Any good song of substance and heart has the ability to take you to another world; that is the truth. If you let it…it even can be a lethargic or euphoric “possession” of sorts. THAT is my favorite thing about music. People everywhere, including myself, are yearning for escape, truth, fantasy, and more; daily. Music gives them that power, and when I am dead and rotting…I am more than happy to have been one of the few to hand over the keys.
 
TMR: How did everyone get started as musicians?
The stories vary, but overall, we all started out young. Like many others before us, we were loners filled with a passion for music; and yet, we were fortunate enough to be bonded by our peers through metal music. The way it should always be. Some say that “it takes a village to raise a child,” and that is what metal used to be; a community that raised us all up–together. I’m not sure how things are now, so I can’t speak on that confidently; hence the “used to be”…put your pitchforks down, friends ha.
TMR: Any shows in the near future?
We are setting the release date for “Temet Nosce” as I type this, along with booking select dates to support the album release and bring in the “new” era of Serpents once and for all. So, look out for those if you will.

Dying Awkward Angel releases “Isaih 53:7” Music Video

Death Metal outfit Dying Awkward Angel have just released a new music video for “Isiah 53:7” from their 2018 release “Absence Of Light”.  This groovy death metal band is from Italy and bring a good product aboard.  It’s very heavy, and also sorta melodic….although not the glorified Swedish 1990’s melodic death metal style. The intense music video encompasses what Dying Awkward Angel brings to the table……no nonsense straightforward death metal to your ears! Check out the video below and don’t forget to score a copy of “Absence Of Light”!

The State of the Scene Address 2019

At first I was going into this with a grimace on my face, ready to bitch about literally everything, but I’m actually pretty stoked with how full the shows calendar is right now. And it’s super cool to see new faces every time I venture out. And some old ones I haven’t seen in a while too. Needless to say, I’m super content, sans a few things (most of which will not be touched on here).

Dying Fetus was incredible to see. Sure, the band was dope, but it was awesome to see Mohawk Place sold out on a Sunday.
Consider the Source was equally outstanding. Though Dave and I stuck out like sore thumbs amongst the indie/ prog/ rock/ hippies? crowd, it was sweet to be surrounded by no one we knew for a change. A couple friendly faces were nice, though.
And, of course, it was killer to see a full house for a local band’s cd release show. The love is real, and it’s beautiful.

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Like that, but darker! 

I’ve heard some stellar news come from a few sleeping giants, and should those words come to fruiting, we have quite a few things to be stoked for. But I won’t yap about those in here, you’ll just have to ask around *wink*.  Of course, you don’t have to believe me. And I won’t tell you what happened the last time someone didn’t believe me. But things didn’t end well for them. So maybe it’s safe if you do..

Ohhh and I love seeing all these bands play out! YES! Go play other cities! Roadtrips are great! Go meet new people! Play with new bands! Make new friends! I support you and your ex Buffalo excursions. If you ever need help, we’re always here to help.
That being said, this brings me to… The one thing I will bitch about is this: Some of y’all need to take a god damn break from live shows. I swear, there’s like three bands whose logos I see on fuckin waaaaaay too many fliers for shows in the 716. You guys are way too old and have been doing this shit for way too long for me to have to explain this “oversaturation” thing.
But alas, ye, I have not come to complain without offering solutions. The solutions are: take a break from shows for a while, OR land gigs outside Buffalo, OR be prepared to churn out new music regularly before your sets get redundant. Or like, I dunno. Kick someone out and replace them with someone no one would’ve guessed. /shrug. Or at least a new cover everyone can sing to (it won’t be as great as this cover, though).

If you have the slightest inkling that I’m talking about you, I probably am.
Thanks for reading everybody, see you at the next one!

Frank Gambale- Salve

If you’ve been with us for a while or see our description you’d see we do more than prog, tech metal and instrumental music…..I’ll admit I’ve bitten off a lot and generally get a lot of that submitted, let alone through e-mail mailing lists and I apologize….but this job isn’t easy.  I’ve done a few jazz and fusion articles, but haven’t tried hard ENOUGH.  So today, I’m going to try to change that…….and hopefully stick with it.  I love the genres, it’s originality and insane talents that come with it.  One big talent is the mighty jazz guitarist Frank Gambale  who released this stellar album last year that went off my radar.  So many releases, so much music…..only so much time.  I heard it in full a couple months ago, and put it back on today.

There’s lots of great jazz guitarists and some that also cross into the wild world of fusion. Older players like Gamble influenced lots of the progressive subgeneres (there’s a billion).  You have a lot of classic players like Holdsworth, McLaughlin and Al Di Meola  that broke all sorts of genre barriers catapulting these insane compositions.  Gamble though, is a more straightforward player who’s very melodic.  Fusion brings the whackiest ideas and compositions out of many artists, but that’s one reason I’ve dug his music….Frank is a straight up jazz player with lots of melody and feel.  He’s such a clean player he’s envied a lot of his fellow guitarists to the point they may want to chop his fingers off.  That’s a joke, nobody sure as heck would want that to happen.

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“Salve” is a wonderful album with a lot of distinct guitar playing.  Gambale puts a lot of soul, heart and effort into his music.  He is a master of emotion when it comes to music, for sure.  2018’s release sure shows (in my humble opinion at least) Gambale still has it musically, and sure as heck isn’t declining by any means.  He had a female vocalist on some of these songs which adds a great texture in my opinion.  This genre innovator keeps putting out great music influencing a countless number of guitarists with every breathtaking performance and album.

His straightforward songwriting is a lot more accessible and easier to digest than some of the wild fusion guitar players.  There’s a lot of wild compositions out there that are totally whacky and out of the ordinary, but Gambale takes a simpler jazzy approach.  His style is a much needed change in the jazz and it’s multiple subgenres when you want something different.  “Salve” offers lots of cool synthesizer layers too, and some vocal harmonies here and there.  Soulmine is a newer adventure of his with these vocalists singing over his music.  I was initially interested in his tunes, and glad I stumbled across this new venture.  It’s just one more great piece of art to the legacy he began building in the 1980’s.

 

Yoni The Bassist- The Flow Of Emotions

WOW.  Do you spoiled punks ever have quite the treat coming your way.  Yoni The Bassist has an extremely wild song they released last year in 2018.  He has an incredible talent that we totally support here at TMR.  He has an album coming out titled “Positively In Silence” and this wild song “The Flow Of Emotions” is well everything that song title says.  It’s absolutely amazing what you can do with just a bass…..we have a band in a similar vein here in Buffalo IshKabibble.  He had Ignacio JD drum for him on this song, and is there ever some serious groove.  There’s some great tapping melodies, and a great backing rhythm he provides in this insane song.  There’s a lot of great instrumental bands, and Yoni has something seriously special here.  This sort of stuff is an artistic trip that your average band can’t necessarily provide.  Lots of the same styles of music have been rehashed countless times, and artists like Yoni are pushing the genre labeling fad into a sound truly unique into his own.  Check out the song below and stay updated on when his album will drop, I’m sure it will be equally as impressive.

 

 

Ambrose release new song “Curtains”

Tennessee instrumental progressive band Ambrose have dropped a melodic fun song titled “Curtains”.   They’re not the wildly heavy type of band that’ll woo you with their loud sound, but moreso the laid back Chon/Animals As Leaders west coast type vibe.  It’s a very tasteful and melodic song, with all sorts of cool chord progressions and rhythms.  Ambrose is now a band I’m going to want to keep a close eye on.  Working in this sort of field though is pretty tough with all the bands we come across, but dang I’m going to try my hardest.  These guys have a fresh sound that can win over people who aren’t appalled with instrumental bands. Give Ambrose a shot if you want something new that is different than what you usually listen to.  Check out the song below and if you live in the area be sure to catch the guys at a show!

Ashen Horde releases “Parity Lost” from upcoming album

Black Metal duo Ashen Horde have released another stellar single from their upcoming album “Fallen Cathedrals” titled “Parity Lost”.  We’ve already experienced the insanity of “Profound Darkness”, and now get ANOTHER single to sink our teeth into! This track is slightly longer at over 7 and a half minutes, and is equally as explorable than “Profound Darkness”.  The choruses are just as melodic, and the verses have a huge black metal influence musically and vocally.  I actually can’t decide what track I like more, but heck it’s going to be on one album so what’s the big deal?

I’m picky about black metal influenced bands, especially vocally…..and sometimes the production.  I can dig some garage sounding albums or EP’S, I think its a nice change from the produced sound if that raw and underproduced sound actually fits the band.  In this case however, the production is stellar and with their more expansive sound they NEEDED a good production job.  The mix is pretty good with Steve’s vocals as well, that’s the problem I have sometimes with mixes.  Sometimes they’re too present that they drown out the other instruments and vocalists (if there’s any others).  It’s up loud enough to where it sits perfectly in the song.  Great music is even better with a stellar production, and this catapults their sound to even greater realms.  Enjoy “Parity Lost” and don’t forget the album drops March 22nd! Cheers!

 

Sludgehammer release single “No Control”

Sludgehammer have released the single “No Control” from their upcoming sophomore effort “Antechamber” due out April 12th.  The band mixes groove metal and death metal to an interesting peak to where either sound doesn’t dominate too much.  The guitar riffs are extra groovy, with a nice melodic guitar lead smacked in the middle of this rager.  The band has only been around for a handful of years, so if you haven’t heard of them check out this track I’m sure you’ll be convinced. 2014 had an EP “Organ Harvester”, and 2016 had their first full length “The Fallen Sun”.  “Antechamber” will be their third effort and 2nd full length.  Listen to the song below and get your preorders in!