Monthly Archives: February 2014
Album Review: Akkord – ‘Akkord’

UnknownMancunian duo Synkro and Indigo are behind lo-fi house and techno act Akkord. The theme running through this surprisingly good release is that of intense, booming basslines and stripped down four-to-the-flour beats which at times really do pick up leaving you practically begging for more.

Sequentially the album is almost flawless beginning to end and is best enjoyed that way, given many of the songs melt into each other. This is not an techno-bagner, instead it’s a beautifully crafted and very technically accomplished formula which sees songs ranging from full on techno on ‘3DOS’, to floaty the dub-esque ‘Conveyor’ and even a hint of glitch hop on ‘Hex AD’.

I honestly felt that this album would run out of steam towards the half-way point given that Akkord seem to religiously stick to their well thought-out techniques, but at no point did it sound tired or repetitive for that matter. Just when you feel monotony is about to set in the duo throw in some much needed twists and turns in the form of a drum and bass break, a pause or moody passage. This is the first release for Synkro and Indigo as Akkord which shows much promise. We can only hope for a follow up and perhaps some remixes?

Here’s what I think is the standout track of this album album ‘3DOS’.

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Album Review: Van Canto – ‘Dawn Of The Brave’

Power metal is a strange fruit. I was around 12 years old when I heard Helloween’s ‘Keeper of the Seven Keys’ (parts I and II) and flabbergasted comes to mind when I think back to my first reaction. The late 80’s and early 90’s truly defined and shaped the sound of Power Metal, but towards the late 90’s and early 2000’s something changed. No longer was it about story telling or composing incredible melodies, no, it was more about outdoing the competition in technical ability. It all became too sanitised, far too much guitar twiddling, with lyrics, composition and to a great extent originality taking the back seat – I lost interest.

Dawn Of The Brave - FrontFast forward a decade or so and sadly not much has changed.T he Power Metal landscape is still littered with pompous bands racing at 100 miles per hour, drowning their composition with the shrieks. wails and a guitar cacophony. As much as I try to get back into the genre, it all seems too formulaic, too predictable, too… perfect.

So imagine my surprise when I stumbled across Van Canto’s ‘Dawn of the Brave’.

“Acapella Power Metal” is how Van Canto was the description of their genre and the main reason why I thought I’d part with the 7 odd pounds to download this from iTunes. I must admit I’d not heard of Van Canto before and can only attribute this to my general avoidance of all that is “power” metal. ‘Dawn of the Brave’ is the 5th album from this German six-piece band made up of five singers and one drummer – that’s right, no twin guitars, no bass, no lead no rhythm, just the sheer vocal ability of four men and one woman. The result is staggering, so much so, I actually purchased their entire back catalogue based on the viewing of one YouTube video. At times I couldn’t actually believe there were no guitars and while I’m sure these guys apply some very clever (knob twiddling) production techniques to achieve this polished result, it never feels too clinical.

‘Dawn of the Brave’ features the staple of Power Metal themes of fantasy and takes it a step further by incorporating comic book heroes, a recurring theme with many of their albums and the main reason for the somewhat bonkers looking cover. According to sources, the band actually recruited some two hundred backing vocalists for the making of parts of the album, most of who were actual Van Canto fans.

The band certainly displays an impressive amount of reverence and close connection with its fan-base. ‘Van Cantians For Van Cantians’ is a scheme employed by the band’s fanclub and which aims to get fans from countries where the band doesn’t perform, e.g. anywhere outside Germany, to enjoy a show. Effectively it’s a lottery concept, with fans winning anything from t-shirts to signed memorabilia and presumably some very lucky fans might actually win and see the band perform live. Whether it works or not, hats off to these guys for their entrepreneurial spirit.

‘Dawn of the Brave’ is released on February 7th and is available for download via iTunes, while the digipack version can be purchased through Amazon and the band’s website Napalm Records.

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Album Review: Torr Marrock – ‘Destroy The Soul’

Tor Marrock is a three-piece band based in Aberystwythe, Wales. They formed in 2004 and fall under the dark, gothic, death, black concept metal umbrella. Previously, the band released a demo, “The Death of Summer”, in 2006 and their debut full length album, “A Gothic Romance”, in 2007. After a six year break, the band returns with their sophomore full length “Destroy the Soul”.

Tor Marrock

As a huge Type O Negative fan I must admit to being a little lost since the demise of Pete Steele and pretty much the disbandment of the band. Sal Abruscato is doing wonders with “A Pale Horse Named Death” but their sophomore album paled by comparison.

If you’re a fan of early Paradise Lost and Tiamat releases this may certainly be of interest to you. It’s a refreshing sound which manages to stray clear of much of the cliched formulas associated with the whole gothic genre.

I’m including a full length song below to showcase the album which can be downloaded from iTunes but you can also buy the physical CD from CD Baby.

This is “The Harbouring of Suicidal Thoughts” taken of this brilliant album “Destroy The Soul”.

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