Sunday, 18 May 2014

Best of 2013 (part 3) - Caladan Brood - Echoes of Battle

     If you read my last review you might have noticed me name drop Caladan Brood and recommend this album to anyone who was bored of Summoning releasing the same album ad nauseam.  Personally speaking, I love Summoning and don`t want them to progress and Summoning never have to progress because there are so many other bands that have taken their sound and built on it, Caladan Brood is one of those bands.  I feel kind of bad for comparing Caladan Brood to Summoning because Caladan Brood are a brand new band that has only released one album while Summoning are veterans who have been in the genre since the early 90`s.  I suppose if you don`t want to get compared to Summoning, you should probably not sound like Summoning.

     So far I have mentioned Summoning in literally every sentence of this review, the influence is painfully obvious to anyone who would listen to Echoes of Battle but lets get one thing strait; Caladan Brood are not a rip off band.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, they are heavily influenced by Summoning but rather than copying another band`s sound they use it as a foundation to build there own, in much the same way Norwegian Black Metal bands built off of Bathory`s first few albums.  There are a few key differences between Caladan Brood`s approach to music as opposed to Summoning`s.  Caladan Brood has a much more rock based drum programming, which gives them a more typically ``metal`` sound.  The clean vocals are also different, they remind me a lot of the Canadian band; Woods of Ypres.  To be totally fair, the similarity could be a complete coincidence but that should give anyone a good idea of what they sound like.  The biggest difference between Summoning and Caladan Brood is the guitar solos.  Caladan Brood really know how to shred and it`s awesome!

    Oh!  I almost forgot, there are songs on this album!  They are really good, well composed although sometimes they can feel too long (not much of an issue.)  The lyrics are all about Steven Erikson`s Malazan series, which I am currently reading.  To be totally honest, the only reason I bothered listening to this band is the Malazan based lyrics.  It is undeniably cool to imagine the soldiers of the Malazan Empire marching across wastelands, fighting endless battles and dying for a cause that they don`t even understand while listening to the song: Book of the Fallen.  A Voice Born of Stone and Dust is another highlight, I cannot help but imagine undead warriors sworn to commit genocide for thousands of years.  This is a really cool album and you should probably listen to it.  The Summoning influence is pretty obvious but I personally believe that it will dwindle as the band progresses and finds there own sound.

Curt's review: 80%

Monday, 6 January 2014

Best of 2013 (part 2) Summoning - Old Mornings Dawn

     I don't know if you noticed, but metalheads are probably the most fickle people on the planet.  They claim to love metal, but hate how it's not 'oldskewl' anymore.  They love black metal, but only the early nineties stuff.  They are pissed off that their favorite 'oldskewl' band isn't releasing their best album over and over and when they do release the same album over and over the band gets criticized for not retaining their original sound, or worse yet, selling out!

     I also don't know if you've noticed or not but Summoning hasn't released a new album since Dol Guldur and I wouldn't want them to.  Yeah, there are a few aesthetic differences between albums, but the same repetition based songwriting remains consistent, with layers of counter melodic synth leads to keep it interesting.  It's basically a perfect formula; despite that every Summoning song is basically exactly the same there is still varying degrees of quality per track.  It seems like every summoning album has two or three brilliant, breath taking tracks (usually the first and the last) and the rest of the album seems like leftover variations of those two or three songs.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy every album from start to finish, but sometimes I feel as if they are using filler to satisfy a previously decided album length.  This album breaks that mold, by only having consistent quality tracks that can all be differentiated on first listen.  I would honestly consider this to be the best Summoning album to date, probably because of the seven years they spent working on it.

    Summoning are also one of the few bands that have pioneered a sound that was totally unique from anything else in the metal world at the time.  Like every other pioneer they have a long list of copycat bands that have expanded Summoning's sound, leaving the band in a unique position where they don't have to evolve.  If you want to hear a new take on the Summoning formula, you should probably just listen to; Caladan Brood, Rivendell, Avathar, Nazg├╗l, or one of the other countless bands that have built on this style and stop whining about listening to the same album over and over.  

     I mentioned early that every each Summoning album has minor aesthetic differences.  On this album we see much shorter songs than on Oath Bound, which renders a very positive result.  None of the tracks on this album feel like they are drawn out or rushed.  The production is much better than anything to date, but that is to be expected as the production quality has been steadily increasing since their debut.  They still have songs that stand out more than the rest of the album; the title track, and Earthshine.  Earthshine has got some really cool vocals, almost like a raspy singing rather than totally screaming or trying to sound like a orc, pretty cool.  Neither of these songs are quite as magical as Land of the Dead, or Long Lost to Where no Pathway Goes but they are still excellent tracks and better than anything you can write.  (Yeah, I went there.)  The only real drawback to this album I can think of would be the guitar tone; it's barely audible and when it does come through it kinda just sounds like fuzz.  To be perfectly fair, I can't blame them too much on this one because it is hard to find a perfect guitar tone that meshes flawlessly with synthesizers while still sounding distinct and full.

     If you don't like Summoning, you won’t like this album.  If you liked their previous work you will also like this.  If you used to like their previous work but have gotten bored of it and want to hear something fresh, you won't find it here. This is a good album that doesn't strive to be anything other than what it is and I am happy Summoning stayed within the confines of what they are good at.  If you are still sad that this is just 'Dol Guldur Version 5.0' you should probably just get a copy of Echos of Battle and be done with it.

Curt's review: 90%