REVIEW: Atreyu – Long Live

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Hiatus. Is there any more potentially chilling term in all of music history? Well maybe ‘orchestral project’ or ‘unplugged.’ The lads from Atreyu have been off the album/tour cycle for four years and it’s been even longer since they last released an album (Congregation of the Damned was 2009). They dipped their toes back in the water with the Knotfest, South By So What?! and Aftershock festivals, but Long Live is the first real opportunity to hear who Atreyu are today.  Read More …

REVIEW: The Aristocrats’ Culture Clash Live! & Tres Caballeros

It’s been intriguing to watch The Aristocrats (Guthrie Govan, Bryan Beller and Marco Minnemann) grow. I was lucky enough to be at their very first performance, before they even had a band name or Aristocrats-specific material. And since then they’ve played countless gigs (actually Bryan Beller could probably name them all – he seems great at stuff like that) and inspired musicians all over the world to push their abilities to new levels. And I guess that’s the big caveat for The Aristocrats: it’s pretty much ‘musician music.’ I know of one or two non-musicians who listen to them but for the most part this is a band that seems best appreciated by those who are trained to take in the nuances of what The Aristocrats are putting out there. This year there have been two new Aristocrats releases, the live album Culture Clash Live! and the new studio record, Tres CaballerosRead More …

REVIEW: Tony MacAlpine – Concrete Gardens

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We all know Tony MacAlpine can play – a careers’ worth of flawlessly dazzling performances has seen to that, whether solo, with Planet X, Steve Vai, CAB, and PSMS with Mike Portnoy, Billy Sheehan and Derek Sherinian. But what makes Concrete Gardens stand so uniquely among MacAlpine’s catalog is that he’s managed to create an album that he flits in and out of modern progressive metal styles (yes, there’s even a certain djentiness to some of the tracks) without sounding like he’s trying to mimic the current crop of acts like Periphery and Scale The Summit, while also infusing his compositions with enough melody and song craft to keep non-guitar players happy. Read More …

REVIEW: The Smashing Pumpkins – Monuments to an Elegy

Monuments to an Elegy

Billy Corgan is one of those ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ musicians. The legacy forged by those 90s The Smashing Pumpkins albums is an imposing presence, and Corgan’s lifelong challenge is to make new music in the knowledge that a large number of folks who made the band successful back in the day no longer seek out new music. They’re happy listening to the hits and catching that nostalgia wave. Read More …

REVIEW: Mastodon – Once More ‘Round The Sun

Mastodon Once More Round The SunIf I may be indulged with an overwrought metaphor, being a Mastodon fan is kind of like driving along the coast and gazing out the window: the view in the near field keeps changing – buildings, beach, cliffs – but the view out to the horizon remains more or less the same, give or take a few clouds or whatever. Whatever Mastodon does, it has a certain emotional, ragged-yet-anthemic quality which is always there, but sometimes the more up-front aspects are expressed in a psychedelic, unpredictable way and sometimes the attitude is more blatant and direct. Thus far Crack The Skye is the epitome of the more abstract approach, while The Hunter went for directness, especially in terms of groove. Now Once More ‘Round The Sun further refines the latter approach, but this time the melody is cranked up to 10. A great example is the chorus of “The Motherload.” It’s practically arena rock – albeit a rather skewed, dark take on arena rock. “High Road” does a great job of building upon the sound established on The Hunter, while “Chimes At Midnight” returns to some of the more moody-then-chaotic moments of Crack The Skye but without quite the same level of sophistication. Read More …

CD REVIEW: James LaBrie – Impermanent Resonance

Impermanent ResonanceI quite liked James LaBrie’s early solo albums – the ones released under the name Mullmuzzler. And Elements of Persuasion, the first to be released under his own name, was pretty solid too. But for me, LaBrie’s voice as a solo artist really came into its own on 2009’s Static Impulse. That album was progressive, aggressive and expressive – a blend of melody and heaviness, with healthy lashings of the Gothenberg sound, the stellar guitar work of Marco Sfogli and the death-growl vocals of drummer Pete Wildoer (Darkane). Now on Impermanent Resonance, LaBrie and his core band – Wildoer, Sfogli, bass player Ray Riendeau and right-hand-man Matt Guillory (keys, background vocals, co-songwriting) – aim to take that sound further, aided by occasional songwriting contributions from guitarist Pete Wilchers (ex-Soilwork).  Read More …

REVIEW: Queensryche – Frequency Unknown

Queensryche_with_Geoff_Tate_-_Frequency_UnknownFrequency Unknown is a missed opportunity.

It’s a missed opportunity because despite all the controversy over joining and departing band members, shoddy mixes, official contests to post the most extreme hate video and of course that provocative album cover, there a few songs on here that are so good that they transcend all that stuff, if you let them do so, and they would have been utterly killer if performed by the Queensryche line-up that existed a year and a half ago. These songs – Life Without You, In The Hands Of God and to a slightly lesser degree Cold – show Geoff Tate making the most of his talents (which include dramatic vocal delivery and a confessional lyrical style) while staying relatively faithful to the established Queensryche style, at least as it existed on later recordings. (It’s interesting to note that Cold and In The Hands Of God were co-written with Lukas Rossi from Rockstar: Supernova).  Read More …

CD REVIEW: Rush – Clockwork Angels


The release of a new Rush album is always cause for celebration among Our People. Progressive, melodic, virtuosic, energetic, verbose, thoughtful – Rush is music for those of us who like to ponder, think, analyse, and discuss as well as rock out. And Clockwork Angels gives fans more fodder for discussion and immersion than any Rush release to date. It’s their first concept release since side one of Hemispheres and it goes all out, with an accompanying novel to be released later this year. It tells a tale of a steampunk world, oppressive leadership, a surreal carnival, flying ocean liners dashed by deceptive lights on the horizon – it’s almost like a Terry Gilliam film has been teased into a musical rather than visual narrative. And it matters: when you take the lyrical and thematic content on board, Clockwork Angels is an immersive experience. And yet that’s not the reason why this is being called the best Rush album since Moving Pictures by so many fans. The reason is, it’s simply good music. Thought Vapor Trails and Test For Echo sounded urgent and energetic? They’re almost naps compared to the power of Clockwork Angels.

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