Music Review: BELIEVER – Transhuman

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believer - transhumanBELIEVER
Transhuman
Metal Blade
2011

Two years after the release of Believer’s comeback album Gabriel, the band released the followup Transhuman. There was much speculation as to if Transhuman would be a return to their progressive thrash roots. It wasn’t, but this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Going into this, I rather figured that Transhuman would follow down the path started with Gabriel. Believer was always about musical progression over style; I would have been surprised if they had released something like their first three releases.

First, I’d like to point out that the album cover art is fantastic. The eerie model and negative space seem perfectly fitting for the music contained inside. And speaking of the music (flawless segway, there), I have to say that, generally speaking, Transhuman is probably the darkest album I’ve heard coming from these guys. While there are some spots where the classic sounding Believer comes through, like on “Clean Room” and “Ego Machine”, for the most part the songs on this album are more mid-paced, incorporating more of the dark industrial flavors here with the progressive style. Don’t get me wrong, there are some really good guitar riffs on the songs, along with some good melodies and musical textures. “Lie Awake” starts off the album that way, giving an idea of the journey you’re going to be taking with this release. “GUT”, “Multiverse”, “End Of Infinity” and “Transfiguration” continue with the dark progressive metal style; “Currents” is more of an ambient, dark EBM spacy instrumental that has a good guitar riff; “Traveler” continues with the dark, mid-paced progressive route, while “Being No One” features a good thrashy riff and a solid hook, while retaining the dark progressive quality, while “Entanglement” and “Mindsteps” end the album like it began: dark, moody and epic sounding.

Overall, Transhuman is an album that requires more than just a couple of spins for everything to really kick in. But, I’ve found that it really does prove itself to be a good quality album, just not in the classic Believer vein. Transhuman is more cerebral, both musically and lyrically, and while it may not be the band’s masterpiece, it’s definitely worth more than just a couple of cursory listens. Recommended.

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Music Review: GALACTIC COWBOYS – Long Way Back To The Moon

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galactic cowboys - long way back to the moonGALACTIC COWBOYS
Long Way Back To The Moon
Music Theory Recordings
2017

Seventeen years. That’s how long it’s been since we were graced with a Galactic Cowboys album. And really, the understanding was that the band broke up after their last studio release, Let It Go, and thus no further album was to b expected. But, here we are, and not only do we have a brand spanking new Galactic Cowboys album, but it’s also from the original lineup that recorded Galactic Cowboys and Space In Your Face. So, after all of these years, how does Long Way Back To The Moon hold up?

Short answer to that: pretty darn fantastic.

Oh, man, I got to tell you, when the opening chords of the lead-in song “In The Clouds” started, that unique tingly feeling you get whenever you’re listening to a genuine Galactic Cowboys album hit me, and I could stop grinning until the final song ended an hour later. You know what I mean. At least, I hope you do. Because it’s rather hard to describe using words and such. Ironic, no?

Anyway, the music on Long Way Back To The Moon finds the band not even skipping a beat, like it hasn’t even been that long between the last release. Meaning, we get the quality signature style of crunchy heavy metal and rock riffs and hooks paired with the mesmerizing Beatles-esque harmony and tongue-in-cheek sense of humor in the lyrics that the band is known for. I would say that Long Way Back To The Moon has much in common with Machine Fish, as the songs are quite heavy in the execution throughout the album, including the ones that my be considered their slower cuts. Songs like “Internal Masquerade”, “Next Joke”, “Zombies”, “Hate Me”, “Losing Ourselves” and “Agenda” have some heavy, driving riffs and hooks going, and the more mid-paced songs like “In the Clouds”, “Drama”, and the title track “Long Way Back To The Moon” don’t loose that heavy edge, giving things a darker tone. “Blood In My Eyes” kind of veers into Nu Metal territory with the riff, but it’s still a good, heavy cut. After the album proper, though, there are two bonus tracks that came with my purchase, “Believing The Hype” and “Say Goodbye To Utopia”, both being rather heavy, the former also leaning towards a Nu Metal riff, while the later a bit more upbeat yet still heavy with a slower mid-point.

Though I wasn’t expecting another release from the band, I’m not complaining. As a matter of fact, overall, I found Long Way Back To The Moon a rather enjoyable and satisfying release, seeing the band in top form. The only real strike against it is the production seems a bit…I don’t know, a scosh on the muddled side? Minor quibble, though. Go out and purchase this thing post-haste.

NECRO SHOCK RADIO – May 6, 2017

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MAY 6, 2017

Finally, after taking two weeks off to deal with a massive sinus cold infection, Uncle NecRo is back to continue the weekly dispelling of the Brutal Music Therapy we all crave…

Featuring cuts from:

Music Review: ILLUMINANDI – Demos I & II

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ILLUMINANDI - Demo 1 ILLUMINANDI - Demo 2
ILLUMINANDI
Demos I / Demos II
Independent
2001 / 2002

Illuminandi is a Polish metal band. What kind of metal, it’s hard to say. You see, they have a style that mixes the European power metal style with classical violin and cello instruments throughout, resulting in a hybrid that works very well. Visions of Believer’s Dimensions done with a more power metal stance come to play.

Demo I / Demo II, in case you haven’t realized, is a CD comprised of their first two demos. The first demo is four songs long- “…I O Tym Drugim…”, “Nie Lekaj Sie”, “Kielch” and “Alleluja”. Translated to English, the titles are “…And About The Other…”, “Don’t Be Afraid”, “The Cup”, and “Hallelujah”, respectively. While the sound quality is definitely demo-quality (meaning, kind of low, which is usually expected for independent DIY releases), the music comes through nicely. The band sure does a nice job, playing tightly and mixing the metal and classical styles evenly. The vocals are generally clean sung, with both male and female singers (“Alleluja” is entirely female vocals, which sound great). The lyrics are all in Polish, but after reading the English translations I can assure you that they are quite Biblically based. On Demo II, the band has improved a lot, with better sound quality and more melody in their songs. The vocals have improved as well, and the entire band couldn’t be tighter. Well, they could, but it’s not an issue here. They’s tight, y’all. There’s only three songs here, though- “Kto Mnie Wyzwoli…?”, “The Light” and “…Wiec My…”. “The Light” is the only English song here; the other two are translated “Who Will Save Me…?” and “…So We…”, respectively. “The Light” involves a choir, which is a great addition. “…Wiec My…” is absolutely heavy, with double bass drumming and grunts with the clean vocals adding a death metal flavor to the song.

I would highly recommend anyone who’s a collector of Christian metal (or just metal, period) to look into Illuminandi.

Music Review: BELIEVER – Gabriel

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BELIEVER - Gabriel

BELIEVER
Gabriel
Metal Blade
2009

Over 15 years after releasing their last album, then disbanding leaving a gaping hole in the hearts of progressive thrash fans everywhere, the seemingly impossible, much more improbable happened: Believer regrouped, and recorded a new album. Understand, after all of those Believer-less years, it was like getting rain after a 15 year drought. And no, I don’t think I’m exaggerating a bit.

Now on the Metal Blade label (very fitting, methinks), Believer’s long-awaited Gabriel finds the band still in top form, retaining their signature sound with the progressing forward like they always did on each album. Heavy, mathematically technical riffs that’ll blow your mind, time changes, touches of experimental elements, and Kurt Bachman’s vocals that, while sounding a bit different after these years, still retains the unique snarl we know and love. For the most part, Gabriel is the worthy follow-up to 1993’s Dimensions we’ve been waiting for.

And by “for the most part”, I mean that the last four cuts on this album (“Nonsense Mediated Decay”, “Circus”, “Coordinates” and “Freedom”*) suddenly veer off into pure avant-garde territory. Not really metal, the only way I can describe these songs are weird and experimental. Usually I just skip them entirely, but their interesting curiosities. Overall, though, great technical and progressive thrash metal slab for the first nine tracks, then four tracks of skipable weirdness. Welcome back, Believer.

(* = the last three tracks appear as hidden tracks on the physical CD, it seems; I bought my copy as an MP3 download from Amazon, which lists the tracks as such – Uncle NecRo)

Music Review: ANTITHESIS – Dying For Life

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Metalcovers2003
ANTITHESIS
Dying For Life
Nightmare Records
2001

The only other time I heard Antithesis before was their cut on the Massive Frequency Overload compilation some years back, and I wasn’t that taken. So, you could probably understand my hesitation with listening to this full-length at first. Well, glad I did, otherwise I would have missed out on some great thrash-influenced progressive metal. There were many comparisons that popped into my mind while listening, the first of which was, of course, Tourniquet. But, I’ve got to say that Antithesis seems a bit more like Decision D than Tourniquet, in that there’s more classic power metal along with thrash and progressive metal going on here. The singer’s voice conjures up images of Rob Rock, which means that bands like early Angelica and Impellitteri, not to mention Iron Maiden come into play. The lyrics deal a lot with Christians living in the real world, making Dying For Life more of a life application study than evangelical. Bottom line: this is a great metal CD.

NECRO SHOCK RADIO – “On The Cover”

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“On The Cover” Special!

…in this special Therapy Session, Uncle NecRo goes a bit batty and plays a bunch of covers by a bunch of bands! Wackiness doth ensue!

featuring: Crimson Thorn, Deliverance, DigHayZoose, Frost Like Ashes, Galactic Cowboys, Mordecai, One Bad Pig, Place Of Skulls, Step Cousin, Stryper, Tourniquet, and Ultimatum…

CLICK HERE to download

CLICK HERE to stream

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