In Case You Missed It: Stéphan Forté – The Shadows Compendium

Stéphan FortéThe Shadows Compendium (Listenable Records, 28 February 2012)

Ugh, I can’t believe it’s only Wednesday. Last week, with the holiday and me adding on a vacation day, I only actually worked three days… which I think has now totally spoiled me, because I keep feeling like the workweek should be just about over. This sucks. I spent most of the past couple days listening to some ultra-heavy monolithic death metal, which is usually great for settling the nerves and calming me down. Right now it isn’t really doing it for me, though, and I’m afraid the next person that bothers me is going to end up with a pretty nasty punch to the throat unless I find a better way to chill out. Considering the fact that the majority of the time, I deal with the pain-in-the-ass people over the phone or by e-mail, the whole punching thing might be a bit awkward, but believe me, I’d find a way.

So that brings us to the subject of this review, since I was looking for something totally different to listen to. How about some guitar-driven instrumental metal? Probably not something you’d expect me to gravitate towards, especially since I’ve discussed some of my thoughts on the genre previously, and how it can really rub me the wrong way unless it’s done just right. I was a bit skeptical too, at first, especially when I saw this album cover (see above) and noticed how much this guy looks like a French Steve Vai with a bunch of eyeliner. But then I decided, what the hell, I can be open-minded and at least check out a song or two, then move on to something else.

Well, I’m glad I did give this album a chance, because honestly I was pretty impressed by the quality, and — if I can say this without having it sound like a backhanded compliment — I was surprised by the overall lack of pretension and pomposity that one normally expects from solo guitarists (e.g. Yngwie, etc.).
 

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In Case You Missed It: Visions – Home

VisionsHome (Basick Records, 18 July 2011).

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Dear Reader, I have a confession to make.

I know this has the potential to forever diminish your opinion of me as a music critic, as a metalhead, and perhaps even as a person, but it’s something I need to get off my chest. 

Here goes… I’m just not that into Dillinger Escape Plan.  I never have been, and to be honest, I fail to understand why this band is held in such universally high regard by critics and fans alike, just as I fail to understand the majority of the music they make.

I accept that there are surely listeners out there who thrive on such frenetic chaos and see a complex beautiful sense of order in what appears to be only random madness to my simple ears.  But on the other hand, I expect that there must be some like-minded souls out there, nodding in agreement as they read these words, but afraid to ever speak publicly for fear that (like in the case of the Emperor’s New Clothes) they would be ridiculed by the others who DO get it (or at least who claim to).

Anyway, the reason this discussion is sort of relevant stems from my decision to listen to Peterbourian band Visions‘ debut LP Home, which was released earlier this year.  Since they are a relatively new band (formed in 2009), and given that this is their first album, I didn’t really know what to expect beyond what is written in the official press release and some other advertisements I’ve seen.

First, we have the fact that they had been signed by UK label Basick Records (and the fact that the album itself was mixed and mastered by members of labelmates Monuments and Chimp Spanner), which sort of hints at some proggy/techy/melodic-y leanings.  But at the same, I kept seeing that infamous marketing phrase “for fans of…” and in every case, it seems to include Dillinger Escape Plan.

Well, if any of that made me feel apprehensive at all, I decided to plow ahead anyway (or I guess I should say “plough ahead” since we’re talking about a British band here), and let me just say, I’m really glad that I did.

Keep reading after the jump for some more in-depth analysis, plus your chance to listen to some of the songs (including one available for free download)…

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