tirsdag 7. april 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: Future Now - Utopia Awaits


FUTURE NOW (England)
"Utopia Awaits"
(Independent)
Release date: June 24th 2019
Genre: Progressive metal, melodic heavy metal

Links:
Facebook
BandCamp
Instagram
YouTube
Spotify

FUTURE NOW began taking shape as far back as in 2009, when guitarist Jaz Hunter auditioned for Flesh That Burns, the band that drummer Charlie Mckenzie-Stewart was in at the time. They were two souls that wanted to explore and play the same kind of music, and spent the following decade writing music together. Eventually, Riko Burrows heard the material that they had written, and offered to add his voice to the recordings that were released on the band's debut album "Utopia Awaits" in June last year.

Although performing as a three piece on the album with Burrows seemingly appearing as a session member, FUTURE NOW has later on expanded into a full band in quintet form and are ready to embark on live work as well as writing material together.

In addition to its own independent release, "Utopia Awaits" was released as the soundtrack to a book with the same title. The album consists of an intro and thirteen individual tracks, and clocks in at over eightyone minutes. Far too long to this writer's personal taste, but we'll give it a go.

The album goes in many sudden directions in terms of variety, tempo, time signatures and texture. Musicianship and instrumentation is of course impeccable and precise, but the intensity becomes a bit overwhelming at times, which makes an album at this length quite a challenge.

To conclude, this listener has no difficulty acknowledging the creative and performing talents that have produced this album. There are pieces and arrangements on here that are pure brilliance. The album was produced by the band themselves, and the sound and production is right for their genre.

As a whole, "Utopia Awaits" is not among the easiest ones to get into, but for the trained ear I have no doubts that FUTURE NOW's intensity and technical flair is met with a heartfelt welcome.

★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Tracklist:
1. Remnants
2. Creation Of Man*
3. Dying Universe
4. From Legend To Myth
5. Pillars Of Creation, Pt 1*
6. Born Into The Underworld
7. Wisdom Of Harmony
8. Past Present Future
9. Pillars Of Destruction, Pt 2
10. Stand As One (Foreign Lands)
11. Utopia Awaits
12. Time And Time Again
13. Sky Racers
14. World's Apart

*Added to the Subterranean Noise - 2019 playlist on Spotify.

LINE UP:
Jaz Hunter - guitars
Charlie Mckenzie-Stewart - drums
Riko Burrows - vocals

lørdag 4. april 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate - Nostalgia For Infinity


HATS OFF GENTLEMEN IT'S ADEQUATE (England)
"Nostalgia For Infinity"
(Glass Castle Recordings)
Release date: May 6th 2020
Genre: Progressive rock, electronic rock, experimental rock, neo-progressive rock

Links:
Facebook
BandCamp
Spotify
YouTube
Website

HATS OFF GENTLEMEN IT'S ADEQUATE provided one of the most memorable releases that were featured on SUBTERRANEAN NOISE last year, when they launched the three track single/EP "Ark". It consisted of two original tracks that served as teasers to their upcoming album, plus a curious, but interesting take on the old Irish traditional folk song "She Moved Through the Fair".

These three tracks were this writer's very first introduction to these Londoners and their music. Every song has its own colors, textures and expression, which in turn just proved to this new listener that HATS OFF GENTLEMEN IT'S ADEQUATE are not a band that dwell within the comforts of just one genre. Having enjoyed progressive rock for a number of years already, this new aquaintance very soon turned into a dear friend that I looked forward to meeting again.

You can read the "Ark" review here.

In essence, HATS OFF GENTLEMEN IT'S ADEQUATE are a duo that consists of multi-instrumentalists and producers Malcolm Galloway and Mark Gatland, with occasional appearances from Kathryn Thomas on vocals and flute. Since their full length debut "Invisible" came out in early 2012, the band's discography now counts four albums and two singles, and the fifth full length "Nostalgia For Infinity" is due for release in early May.

The album's nine minute opener bears the title "Century Rain", the first of seven tracks on the album that are inspired by sci-fi novelist Alistair Reynolds. It starts off rather delicately with soaring keyboards and a flute, as is not really uncommon in progressive rock, and develops from just a simple electric piano melody into a track that is loaded with a nineties' era Jethro Tull feel. Galloway's voice is perhaps not the band's strongest feature, but he very often reminds me of Ian Anderson and his vocal delivery. As with Anderson, Galloway's vocals sometimes sound a bit insecure and hesitating, especially on the louder parts, but the genius is that it fits!

Production- and soundwise I am tempted to mention The Flower Kings as a reference. No polished production, but an organic and natural sound that makes it seem like you're standing in the middle of the room where the band is playing. Even expressionwise as well, but in my ears HATS OFF GENTLEMEN IT'S ADEQUATE lean more towards the poppier side of prog than the Swedes.

"Twin Earth" is another track that continues in the same musical, as well as thematical direction as "Century Rain". Both tracks are based around the "Century Rain" novel by the aforementioned Alistair Reynolds, which to put it short is (as explained by the band) "a story about saving mysterious copies of the world, the underlying theme is our ability to dehumanise each other despite second chances to avoid the mistakes of history". A fascinating concept, to say the least!

"Ark" is, as mentioned earlier, the single cut that was presented back in September last year. A close to twelve minute long instrumental about the Ark Royal, a British aircraft carrier that played a significant role in the defeat of the Nazis in the Second World War.

Another interesting feature about this British duo, is their ability to create equally interesting storylines for their lyrics. "Nanobotoma" tells the story about a leukemia-ridden scientist who creates medical self-replicating nanobots. They are supposed to identify and destroy cancer cells, but the protagonist loses control of them, and they soon develop into a mechanical cancer instead. Musically it does not stray too far from the well-trodden path that the album's initial two tracks created, as it at times operates within a neo-progressive landscape.

After four tracks that showcase the organic sound of HATS OFF GENTLEMEN IT'S ADEQUATE it is time for something a bit different. "Chasing Neon" was already the B-side for their "Ark" single, so this is by no means an unfamiliar track, but in an album setting it becomes an even bigger contrast than what was the case on the single.
The track is constructed around an arpeggiated riff, with a variety of background sounds and textures. A curious instrumental with a bit of a retro science fiction feel.

The latter half of the album largely consists of the "Redemption Ark Suite", a five part set of songs that are based on Reynolds' Revelation Space novels. "Glitterband" and the album's title track bookend the suite, and the middle three are instrumentals.
As if "Chasing Neon" was a turning point on the album, "Glitterband" features more electronic elements and rhythm programming than the first four tracks. Personally I prefer the band's music when it is not as dominated by electronics as it is on these tracks, though I recognise what it adds to the story that they tell.
The title track takes the band back to where I feel they sound best, and concludes the almost 22 minute long suite.

"Voyager" is another instrumental, a calm piece of music that winds the album down as it nears conclusion, and "Sixth Extinction" with its heavier guitars and fast rhythms is the exact opposite that rounds off "Nostalgia For Infinity".

It should be well known for any HATS OFF GENTLEMEN IT'S ADEQUATE listener that this band is a lot about sonic exploration, textural music and variation. Their fifth album is no exception, and if you like the sound of The Flower Kings, the energy of 90's Jethro Tull and maybe even a bit of electronic experimentations...well, you get the idea.

★★★★★★★★☆☆

Tracklist:
1. Century Rain*
2. Twin Earth
3. Ark
4)  Nanobotoma
5)  Chasing Neon*

Redemption Ark Suite
6)  Glitterband
7)  Conjoiners
8)  Scorpio
9)  Inhibitors
10) Nostalgia For Infinity

11) Voyager
12) Sixth Extinction

*Added to the Subterranean Noise - 2020 playlist on Spotify.

LINE UP:
Malcolm Galloway - vocals, guitar, keyboards/synths and programming
Mark Gatland - bass guitar, additional guitars, keyboards/synths and  Chapman Stick.
Kathryn Thomas - flute, vocals

lørdag 21. mars 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: Psalmtanic - Psalmtanic Verses


PSALMTANIC (Norway)
"Psalmtanic Verses"
(Daarlig Selskap)
Release date: March 31st 2020
Genre: Black metal, death metal, progressive metal, post metal

Links:
Facebook
BandCamp
Spotify

Bergen is located on the south-western coast of Norway, and is the country's second largest city. Most Norwegians think of rain and lousy weather whenever they hear the name, but any dedicated metalhead that walks this globe knows that Bergen has spawned numerous bands that evolved into greats within the genre. Immortal, Borknagar and Enslaved all had their beginnings here, as well as Audrey Horne, Taake and Wardruna, just to mention a few.

In addition to their musical endeavours in the progressive metal quintet Nautilus, Eirik Ramsøy and Matt Weigand have formed their own nucleus of a band, with the intention to further ideas that most likely would not fit into Nautilus' way of artistry. Under the name PSALMTANIC, they have solidified their collective musical visions on four tracks that make up their debut album "Psalmtanic Verses", due for release on March 31st.

According to the band themselves, the album's concept is "to take the most grim and dreary bits from The Book of Psalms and dress them up as metal". Fittingly enough for a bible oriented theme, these four compositions are all rooted within the blacker realms of heavy metal, but also branch out into diverse other subgenres such as progressive and death metal.

To begin with, "Stille! Stille! Jesus Lider" ("Silence! Silence! Jesus Suffers!") starts off as a traditional black metal affair with fast chords and blastbeats. That is, until the harsh vocals mark their presence, and the guitars and drums turn this pitch black picture into a progressive sonic landscape filled with clear, sparkling details. The drum sound is perfect, and the guitars are never excessively distorted, which allows every note to be heard.

Contrasts are many on "Psalmtanic Verses" and appear quickly. Just a minute into the opening track a collage of delayed clean guitars create an atmosphere that would seem unthinkable during the blasting intro, and it already becomes evident that despite the blackened nature of the music, this is going to be a varied and colorful album with a lot of things happening.

"In the Bleak Midwinter" continues the atmospheric element in a way that Coldplay and U2 find favorable, and mixed with cold, genuine Norwegian grimness it becomes the world's blackest pop song.

The atmospheric element becomes a recurring feature on PSALMTANIC's debut. The ten minute long "Jeg Går i Fare Hvor jeg Går" ("I Go in Danger Wheverer I Go") is no exception, with more delayed clean guitars and a slightly chaotic (structurally, of course) drum pattern in a wet, roomy ambience. The verse section is more traditional and yet again a glorious contrast to the almost hypnotizing middle section that also showcases the duo's progressive abilities with a slightly more technical approach.

"Naglet til et Kors på Jorden" ("Nailed to a Cross on Earth") was released as a single already in April last year, and it is another ten minute journey that serves as conclusion to PSALMTANIC's debut album.

What is most impressive about PSALMTANIC is their ability to create little musical journeys that cause at least this listener to find himself lost in dreamlike soundscapes, and at the same time retain presence enough to notice every little detail.

Good music is the kind that gets the listener emotionally involved. I could go on and on, but what's the point?

★★★★★★★★★★

Tracklist:
1. Stille! Stille! Jesus Lider!
2. In the Bleak Midwinter
3. Jeg Går i Fare Hvor Jeg Går
4. Naglet til et Kors på Jorden*

*Added to the Subterranean Noise - 2020 playlist on Spotify.

LINE UP:
Eirik Ramsøy - guitars, bass and vocals
Matt Weigand - guitars, drums, keyboards and backing vocals

torsdag 19. mars 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: Eulogy - Memento Mori


EULOGY (Wales)
"Memento Mori"
(One Eyed Toad Records)
Release date: February 21st 2020
Genre: Hard rock, heavy rock

Links:
Facebook
Instagram
Website
YouTube
Twitter
BandCamp

Heavy rock is probably not the first thing that comes to mind whenever Wales is mentioned, unless you're a die hard Budgie fan, of course. Cardiff based EULOGY is a power trio formed in early 2017, and released their three track debut EP "Back to Life" already in December the same year. After their debut, EULOGY have been streamed no less than 200.000 times on Spotify, which itself should be an indication of success, and they spent 2018 on stages within and beyond the Welsh borders. A new track, "Blood Red Skies" was released in November 2019 as a teaser from their then upcoming sophomore EP "Memento Mori", which has now been out for almost a month on One Eyed Toad Records.

After their success with "Back to Life", the lads in EULOGY wanted to explore a darker and heavier sound on their next release. Whereas the debut had a melodic, energetic and feelgood vibe, the four tracks on "Memento Mori" sure are darker around the edges. Mike Williams' guitars are heavier and more fierce, have quite an amount of low-end, and with Neil Thomas providing the even deeper frequencies with his bass he creates an almost impenetrable wall of powerchord oriented riffs.

The opening track "Cross to Bare" introduces the darker side of EULOGY. In terms of composition it is a fairly straight forward tune, but the genre in which this Welsh power trio operates there has never been focus on anything else but energy and power, something this track suffers no shortage from. Thomas' vocals have a raw Blackie Lawness-ish feel that to this listener fits really well.

"You'll Die Alone" is another track that was released as a single, and with its emphasis on melody and vast quantities of catchy hooks it is what many would probably call a perfect choice for a single. The lyrical theme on "Corvid" is based around the final moments before death, just before the soul's departure of the soul. Tempowise it is faster and balances on the edge between heavy rock and metal.

"Blood Red Skies" was mentioned further up in the article, and also contains the ingredients that make up a natural choice for a single. The riffs are once again more melodic than on the non-single tracks, and the song sounds overall a bit 80's inspired.

EULOGY have been set for touring throughout 2020 to support their most recent release, so if you get the chance to catch them somewhere along their trek across Great Britain, be sure to pay them a visit.

★★★★★★★★☆☆

Tracklist:
1. Cross To Bare*
2. You'll Die Alone
3. Corvid
4. Blood Red Skies*

*Added to the Subterranean Noise - 2020 playlist on Spotify.

LINE UP:
Neil Thomas - bass and vocals
Mike Williams - guitars
Darran Goodwin - drums

mandag 16. mars 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: Silent Agreement - From the Amusement Park



SILENT AGREEMENT (Germany)
"From the Amusement Park"
(Independent)
Release date: February 16th 2020
Genre: Hard rock, stoner rock, grunge rock

Links:
Facebook
BandCamp
Instagram
Spotify

SILENT AGREEMENT are a foursome of musicians that since their live debut in 2018 have made quite an impact on their local hard rock scene in Germany. Their performances have given the band a reputation of being a very energetic live act, and after having achieved this highly valued merit the band entered the studio to record the EP that we're having a closer look at today.

Very little information was given to me about the band themselves, apart from links and production info, but we'll focus on the main feature itself; the music.

SILENT AGREEMENT's first addition to their discography is an EP that sounds like the band has found a lot of inspiration from their genre's 70's era. Albeit their expression is a dirty and unpolished one, "From the Amusement Park" has received a modern and powerful production treatment.

The three tracks on the band's first studio effort are loaded with riffs that often prove that less is more. For instance, the riff that is the basis of the opening track "Solid" is far from the most innovative of riffs, but serves in all its simplicity as a powerful momentum that gives the track a heavy, almost stoner-like drive. Simple, but effective.

"Dream World" and "Judas" are more upbeat than the opening track, and the introductory riff on the former is a treat you don't want to miss. The chorus is one that stays in the back of your head long after you played it, and the instrumental middle section is a curious little anti climax in a song like this. "Judas" has a bit of a funky approach that comes as a bit of a surprise, but nevertheless an interesting feature on a track that concludes the nearly twelve minutes of music on SILENT AGREEMENT's debut EP.

★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Tracklist:
1. Solid*
2. Dream World*
3. Judas

*Added to the Subterranean Noise - 2020 playlist on Spotify.

Line up:
Roman Erken - vocals
Michael Enders - guitar
Lukas Krenzer - bass
Ben Mathe - drums

fredag 6. mars 2020

DEMO REVIEW: BS Bone - Inside Insanity


BS BONE (Italy)
"Inside Insanity"
(Independent)
Release date: October 31st 2019
Genre: Hard rock, stoner rock, punk rock, grunge rock

Links:
Facebook
Instagram
YouTube
Spotify

From the Molise region in southern Italy comes a three piece ensemble that has played together since 2017. The nucleus of what was to later become BS BONE took shape after Vyper (bass/vocals) and Steve Grind (guitar) decided they wanted to blast the dust from their amps, and started working on riffs with the intention of creating new, original material.

Eventually, BS BONE became a reality after the addition of drummer Leo, and the band recorded a four track demo during the summer of 2019. This very demo is today's subject for review here on the Subterranean Noise blog, so let's have a look, shall we?

"I Don't Give a Fuck" is the welcoming title of the opening track, and it starts off nicely with a riff that has a raw, dirty and catchy Motörheadish drive. The rhythm section joins the game with an almost funky, midtempo groove that immediately sends this listener's thoughts back to Rage Against the Machine in their early days. A good, consistent choice for an opening track, and it holds nothing back on showing the attitude that these three Italian dudes have.

"99 Lions in a Cage" takes the band in a slightly different direction. The guitars seem very inspired by Queens of the Stone Age, Foo Fighters and even Iron Maiden. More melodic than the opener, but an interesting track that proves that BS BONE in terms of style certainly appear quite versatile.

This writer's personal favorite is "Dysfunctional Souls", a furious little bastard of a track that brings the band back into their punky raw mode, making "99 Lions in a Cage" seem like a ballad in comparison. A suitable reference could be Suicidal Tendencies, and their "Join the Army" album from 1987.

The demo concludes with the slightly heavier "Rant", filled to the brink with powerful riffs and pounding drums. A wah-wah seasoned chorus riff gives this closing track a Black Sabbath/Kyuss type of vibe, thus making it a worthy ending of BS BONE's first introduction.

The only thing I am struggling with are the vocals. They very quickly get rather tiresome, and (for this writer's personal taste) put quite a damper on the material overall. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to hearing how these songs, and hopefully many more, will sound in a cleaner production. That being said, "Inside Insanity" sounds fairly decent for a demo. It was recorded and produced by the band themselves, and I would say they did a good job shaping it into the product it became.

★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

Tracklist:
1. I Don't Give a Fuck
2. 99 Lions in a Cage*
3. Dysfunctional Souls*
4. Rant

*Added to the Subterranean Noise - 2019 playlist on Spotify.

LINE UP:
Vyper - bass and lead vocals
Steve Grind - guitars
Leo - drums and backing vocals

tirsdag 11. februar 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: Battering Ram - Battering Ram


BATTERING RAM (Sweden)
"Battering Ram"
(Independent)
Release date: January 24th 2020
Genre: Hard rock, modern heavy rock

Links:
Facebook
Instagram
Spotify
YouTube
Website

BATTERING RAM is a Swedish four piece constellation that wholeheartedly fulfill the promise that their band name makes. That being said, I am sure it's already apparent what we're having to do with here, but let's have a closer look anyway, shall we?

Formed in late 2017, the band consists of Johan, Jonas, Jocke and Tony, who have made it their collective mission to create rock music that makes you feel good. As the name clearly indicates their art is of the hard hitting kind, and the nine tracks that make up their self titled debut are all melodic and powerful hard rock anthems with a punch that makes a fist to the face feel like a goddamn cottonball.

BATTERING RAM at times sound like a hybrid of Mustasch, Anvil, Anthrax and Volbeat with a dash of Mötley Crue and Poison. In other words, it has all the ingredients that make you want to move. It's difficult to pick favorites, but "Taking My Time", the groovy "Stronger Forever" and "Chase the Fire" are just a few selections from this 41 minute bulldozer of a hard rock album.

"Battering Ram" is far from being a complex record, and very often that's exactly what the doctor ordered. The production on the album is fairly loud, but then again, that's the only way to play it!

Now, do yourself a favor and check out BATTERING RAM while I go and crack a beer.

★★★★★★★★★★

Tracklist:
1. Taking the Time*
2. The Sign
3. Stronger Forever
4. I Will Come Alone
5. Chase the Fire*
6. Scared For My Life
7. Coming My Way
8. Wanted Man
9. Cut In Two

*Added to the Subterranean Noise - 2020 playlist on Spotify.

LINE UP:
Johan Hallström - vocals
Jonas Edmark - guitar
Jocke Ståhl - bass
Tony Trust - drums

ALBUM REVIEW: Future Now - Utopia Awaits

FUTURE NOW (England) "Utopia Awaits" (Independent) Release date: June 24th 2019 Genre: Progressive metal, melodic heavy met...