Kingpin Album of the Conceptual Genre, Kalisia’s Cybion

Most recently I came across this album, an album with such epic and stupendous soundscapes that I could barely catch my breath, my heart racing at the very first track. Not something I was expecting in a first listen from a French band, all this whilst sitting in the calm of the Delhi Metro. All of a sudden the passing lamps in the subway seemed to pass by in sync with the drum beats; you know how these things happen.

Kalisia is a French band that took 8 years to complete this album. The band consists of Brett Caldas-Lima (guitar + vox), Laurent Pouget (Keys), Thibaut Gerad (Bass, and an awesome one at that!)Bruno Michel (guitar) and Elodie Buchonnet ( vocals, flute, saxophone, some talent huh?). Cybion is a concept album revolving around the story of a Universe way ahead in the future with men in search of eternity and living far away from their home planet. The first idea that popped to my head when I read a gist somewhere was this naïve notion of star trek nerd-like fantasy. How wrong could I be? Brett Caldas-Lima undertook the monumental task of actually inventing a language takings tit bits from English, French, Sanskrit, Latin and even our beloved Quenya. I was stumped when I learnt of this. It shows the amount of detailing and intricacy displayed in the album.

About the tracks themselves, I have a version where the album consists of four tracks:

  • Revelation
  • Elevation
  • Regression
  • Extinction

I believe these to be an amalgamation of some 20 tracks originally released on the discs and vinyl. This is a 1 hour 10 minutes fest of continuous sci-fi epos. The music shift gears from one genre to another so many times one gets lost in this web of never ending orchestral symphonies and weaved-in blast beats, heavy riffs, pinches of jazz, deep bass of the electro-trance sounds, the whole lot. Vocals also vary from deep guttarls to clean high female vox associated with gothic music.

A special credit is deserved for the person handling the keyboard. The entire album gets its end-of-the-world urgency from the various do’s of the keyboard.

The range of genre’s displayed is truly a trip down memory lane, when hearing the album in leisure and in no pressure from having to critique it. One goes from song to song, note to note, and realises the sound and recognizes it to be their favourites from an era long. It is quite an experience.

The overall doom-like atmosphere that is prevalent in the album is reminiscent of an earlier Dimmu Borgir or Septic Flesh. But here and there you get riffage styles matching those of Megadeth, Opeth, Lacuna Coil, Riverside; the entire spectrum of metal in other words.

This is obviously due to the number of guest artists in this album. Angela Gossow, Paul Masvidal, Arjen Lucassen, Tom Mclean, Andy Sneap (producer), etc have all come together and contributed to what I think redefines conceptual or experimental albums. One of the best contributions to my collection, I am grateful to Kalisia.

If I could compare this with The Quantum Hack Code, I think our Indian counterpart needs to realise the competition. Amogh Symphony still has some way to go before they’d come near these French metallers.

As for cons, this album can get a tad bit too epic. There is a certain sense of relief when I pull my headphones out. They should’ve written some light music to give ear drums some peace. Quite a small issue but you’ll realise what I’m talking about once you hear this out. And the other that, since these guys came out with an album of these proportions it seems rightly a fool’s hope to expect anything just as dramatic and masterful as Cybion soon, if at all ever.

Here’s an interview that could inform you more about the band: Interview at Metalstorm. Cheers!

For sheer epical music an 9/10.

à la belle étoile, Amesoeurs

With the impeding tensions regarding the end of quite a tumultuous era of my academic life, I tend to listen to a range of folky acoustic tracks. My latest find in these waters is Amesoeurs. Technically they’re not “folky acoustic” at all, but the temperament they provide is pleasing nonetheless.

Amesoeurs was a French getup and their music is categorized as being post-punk (wiki). I don’t know what that means. They’re a lot like Alcest (another French group) and their music is quite interesting. I have their only album (Self-titled) which has mix good ambient moods and groovy riffs.

The album kicks off with an instrumental “Gas in Veins” followed by another fifty minutes of atmospheric riffage and the beguiling voice of Audrey Sylvain (clean) and Neige (harsh). (I preferred the former) The beguilement could also be resulting from the French, a language known to beguile. Either way, it is a beautiful mix of elements which have contributed to making one of the better albums that I have come across in the past few months.

The album is characteristic with the feature of being so subliminal due to the similar tones used, excessive merging of layers and basic chord structures. Lyrics blend in well with the colour of the entire album.

Tracks like “Faux Semblants” and “Les Ruches Malades” quite literally liven the mood up with their quick step beats and empyreal music (structure wise), but then one actually delves into what she sings and one realises one’s own naivety and the entire paradoxical scenario that was forged for the listener. The first half of the album is quite an adventure; the second half begins with “I XIII V XIX XV V XXI XVIII XIX – IX XIX – IV V I IV” which is this straight out black metal track, something out of a commercial Scandinavian band. It stands out like an off-note in an opera. And yet the rude awakening to reality is just as brutal as reality itself, quite fitting. “Video Girl” plunges one back into the familiar vertigo.

This album has shown every aspect of this band and its diversity. It was a sad day when Amesoeurs split, for they had just about everything right.

This album gets an easy 8.5/10 from me.

Cheers!

Rain Without End. Like a wave.

I was in the mood for some slow/sludge/doom like genre today. And October Tide is the best remedy for this sudden obsession. It was sad that the band did not continue for long (I have heard it is reformed with a new line up, but I haven’t really checked, so) otherwise this band has the potential to put me in a beautiful state of monotone, I love it.

So here is reviewed their first album Rain Without End. The brainchild of Jonas Renkse, the famous persona from Katatonia and member of the Bloodbath super group, this band showcases exactly how diverse one man could be. The soundscape of this album is a million shades depressing than Katatonia and more than just a tad less extreme than Bloodbath. A very audible bass line with acoustic tones supplement to the effort of the creation of this state of nothingness. A nice lightheaded buzz is retained, probably an echo of the patch used in a majority of the tracks.

The vocals have a quality of being dead depressing and hollow, like the voice out of the depths of an ancient oak. Not overly exerted, not too stretched, just the right amount of it to keep you interested and buzzed. A slight monotony makes this album, something I thought was not possible.

The guitars and the bass envelop the drum’s fickle rhythm pattern, creating the ultimate soundscape. Unpredictable, clear and an audible bass line did it for me. As I write Sightless’s mind blowing intro struck me, so different from its precedent. And now it has come back to its frequency, a shift in soundscapes so smooth and yet so strikingly different amazes and impresses me.

I had always considered Die Verbannten Kinder Evas as the kinds that I would consider Doom but this album has opened a whole new wave of music that I could listen to when I require nothing more than a doobie and solitude.

One can see that Katatonia could be heading this way, specially due to some familiar sounds in tracks likeLosing Tomorrow and others. This albums is a like watching a certain scat viral video, it takes time to build up, all nice and mellow, but when it does hit, it leaves a lasting impression.

This album is a beautiful production and I’m looking forward to reviewing their more recent works. Let’s hope they indeed have reformed, because I won’t give Rain Without End a score less than 8/10.

Don’t judge it’s title. New Moon it is.

So this band popped up on my music recommendations list on last.fm. Judging on its similarities to Insomnium and Ghost Brigade (according to the site), I decided I’d give it a try. I acquired their latest album (not so late), New Moon, 2009. The title got me thinking of vampires and bad actors, I don’t know, I must have had some bad dream :D. A little background research on the band made me realise it’s been in the circles for a fairly long time with quite a strong fan base. Anyhow I started my day with “These Woods Breathe Evil” (coincidence? I was hoping at that time not :D).

Having heard the album in its entirety and having heard this band for the first time I could very easily relate to the not-so-happy-about-this-band crowd. The album has all the makings of successful studio hit and yet it lacked the punch during its intro as well as the outro, nothing that would’ve left me still grooving to the beat I heard or air drumming like a nut. No, it clearly did not leave me wanting to hear more. I sense that this is one of those grow-on-you types of album. Cutting things short, if you’ve been a fan, you’ll like them because you do. One could relate this to Amon Amarth’s Surtur Rising. Yet there are instances where this album does prove itself to be far more progressive and occult than Surtur. One’s who never liked this band have no reason to start liking it again. As for someone who’s looking for something new read on.

The music itself was quite refreshing, seeing as I have been indulging in a lot of jazz recently. The tracks are well layered, the song-writing highly impressive. It was not like what I was thought it’d be, a fancy catchy riff with vocals merging into the backdrop of the soundscape created by the guitars.

No these vocals were good. Some of the clean parts had very striking resemblance to Katatonia’s Night is the New Day. Dashes of death riffs with keys  interlacing created quite an doom-like atmosphere. And then there are tracks that really reflect their Finnish roots (metal-wise), good old blackened death riffs with deep growls. Contrary to this sombre image, there are places where Mikko takes clean vocals with acoustic backing showcasing the mastery of minimalism that is so distinctive of doom metal.

I would also further go on to say that this album seems progressive in a lot of places, something towards which I’m highly biased to. Had they only composed this one bombastic intro or this orphic end to the album, I would’ve most probably be raving about this album. I’d be looking forward to something new from them nonetheless.

For shitty extremes a 6/10.

Cheers!

Blood Magic and Necromancy at it’s best! Belphegor people! \m/

Blood Magick Necromance has got to be one of the finest works I’ve heard coming from the entire black metal brutality/ambience category this year. I never rated Belphegor in my top bands no matter what they released. I never went beyond “It’s ok” whenever asked for an opinion. But man have they impressed me with this album.

Black metal the way it should be with hints of a baseline melody dressed in blast beats and aural orchestration, Blood Magick Necromance is just the kind of album you should listen and bow down to. The first track is a breath of fresh air (well not literally but you get the point), blast beats already setting in that backdrop of carnage. This track’s intro itself got me rethinking my prejudice against this band.

Subsequent tracks are only substantiation to this prognostication of mine. Well produced, layered and crafted with the experience and know-how, the album is just plain awesome. Rise to Fall and Fall to Rise and Sado Messiah would be my favourites with most of the other tracks not far behind. Why the hell could this skill not be reflected in their earlier productions? They have portrayed the potency that could easily get them the recognition that they lacked. (or maybe they didn’t, either way this is the better of productions till now)

A minute or two into the Rise to Fall…  and you would realise exactly how well-crafted this track is. Layers or typical Belphegor-esque riffs meshed with rhythmic powerful beats make up most of this album. I sit in awe thinking about how these guys managed to pull this album off so well with what I felt are minor changes to their soundscapes. What I do notice halfway through Angeli Mortis De Profundis is this is not one of those album with solid album selling tracks and otherwise trashy mixes and productions filling the spaces. No fucking way! Impaled Upon the Tongue of Sathan got me back on my feet, raw blackened energy splitting my speakers in two.

One more aspect that I love about this album is the way it has successfully blended true forms of both black and death, with all the brutality and iniquity and yet have these pieces of mellow pieces. However odd it may sound, the melodic opuses weave the tracks magnificently, taking this entire experience to a higher more potent state of beguilement. Considering the big names these guys compete against ( Behemoth, Necrophobic,Gorgoroth), they’ve set quite a bar. And one that challenges the current trends followed by these bands as well as upcoming black metallers (European and Indian alike).

This album has been on a loop in my library for the past week, while the much raved about “Consider This” and a brand new find “Mahayuga” have been sitting idle. Belphegor finally got their place in my playlist. I could only recommend this album strongly. GET IT!

I can’t think of one negation for this album and yet my ego refuses a straight ten.

8.5/10 ought to keep the masses happy.

Cheers!

 

Amorphis’s Beginning of Times

Amorphis comes under the category of one of those bands which sound just a powerful on stage and equally soothing on pair of earphones midway a long journey. So I happened to learn while listening to this album recently. After doing my bit of research and reading many other views on The Beginning of Times, I listed my sets of pro and cons.

Firstly, this album is a continuation on the story that the Skyforger started. The production sounds very similar and that would be a good thing, seeing the popularity that album got. Considered as one of their best ventures, Skyforger had music both melodic as well as potent. It was the peak of Amorphis’s transition from their more folk-esque/death sound to a more progressive melo tracks. This album I feel has done no more to contribute to that transition. With this album I believe we have reached the soundscape that Amorphis would operate and experiment with (tiny bits with the latter).

Shades of their former musical preferences are visible with the work on the keyboards. Vocals are beautiful when clean and the growls though unexpected, are welcome still. They are at just the right temperature with the setting of the songs. I wouldn’t comment on other parts of the production majorly because of their similarity with Skyforger.

Another aspect that really strikes a listener is the sheer number of tracks. 13 tracks, laid out well and in an order which almost makes this album gapless. Only if I am actually listening to the tracks individually (analysis mode :D), am I capable of differentiating. Else they beguile me, leave me in this state of perpetual day dreams involving distant wars and hymns that being sung about them (most Nordic bands of this genre leave this essence in me).

What I did not like about this album was not its lack of progress, for even though I am a fan of their earlier ventures I do like what the band has grown into. No, what this album lacked was that potency and that thrill. It does grow on you, but man does that take a long time. Thankfully, their music is awing enough for me to listen to over and over again; else I generally leave albums like these in my library, there for me to discover them later.

I was impressed but not to the point which was being so hyped about on the internet, hence for slight disappointment there I would give this album a 7/10.

Cheers!