Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, Unsung Heroes

Soen – Imperial

It’s the kind of metal I like.

Soen is a Swedish progressive metal supergroup consisting of various extreme metal musicians. Their debut album “Cognitive” came out in 2012.

It was like hearing Tool and I was all in.

“Tellurian” came out in 2014 but their rise really started with “Lykaia” in 2017 and “Lotus” in 2019. And in 2021, we have “Imperial”.

And while the debut sounded a lot like Tool, this one is more metal and hard rock with some progressive grooves and textures.

And the band has been stable in the line-up. Founding members Joel Ekelöf (vocals) and Martin Lopez (drums) are still there along with Lars Enok Åhlund (keyboards and guitar), Cody Ford (lead guitar) and new bassist Oleksii “Zlatoyar” Kobel.

Lumerian

How good is the Intro riff?

And the Chorus, so melodic and haunting.

In the middle, the band introduces its main dynamic, which is heard throughout the album, in which they quieten down the song and rebuild it.

Deceiver

It’s almost Disturbed like from the “Believe” album in the Intro.

Monarch

That Intro riff. So heavy and intricate.

Listen to it.

A Pink Floyd Pre-Chorus gives way to an anthemic Chorus.

Illusion

A Pink Floyd like cut. Think “Sorrow”.

And the solos. Wow.

Antagonist

Another head banging killer metal riff kicks it off.

The Chorus. Wow.

From the 3.50 mark it goes into a mellow interlude with an emotive solo. Then the vocals come in and I get emotional.

And it becomes quiet. And once you hear the words “fire up your guns”, the music crashes back in.

Modesty

The Chorus is so haunting.

From 2.10 a Maiden like harmony riff plays while a shred-a-licious and emotive lead is played over it.

The last 40 seconds are excellent.

Dissident

The Tool like track on the album but with a heavy dose of metal and hard rock.

Listen to the Chorus riff when they sing “we are one”.

At 2.50 it quietness down. A piano plays and the vocals come in. Then the drums and everything else comes in as they build it up slowly.

By 4.36 it’s back to a being a metal tour de force.

Fortune

Dio and the Sabbath “Heaven And Hell” version would be proud. The groove and feel is as doomy as the influences.

That Chorus is haunting, with the violins and emotive vocal melody.

I like the lead break. Almost bluesy and the phrasing is excellent.

At the 3.20 mark, a sing-a-long ohhh and ahs happen. This section happens again for the outro but this time the guitars are in harmony.

The only thing left to do is to listen to it again.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

2001 – Part 1.1: Evergrey – In Search Of Truth

It’s time to start a new year in review.

And I normally have about six to ten records on a post but in this case it had to be one album as it’s one of my favorite Evergrey albums.

So Part 1 is broken up into 1.1 and 1.2.

“In Search of Truth” is the third studio album and first concept album by Evergrey. It is the first album to feature guitarist Henrik Danhage and bassist Michael Håkansson, as well as the only one to feature keyboardist Sven Karlsson. Founder and mainstay, Tom Englund is on vocals and guitars with the very underrated Patrick Carlsson on drums.

Produced by Andy LaRocque, who had produced all the band’s previous albums up to now.

The album deals with alien abductions, based on the allegedly factual account of alien abduction victim Whitley Strieber’s book “Communion”.

The album cover was created by Swedish graphic designer Mattias Norén, who I once contacted for a possible album cover for an album I was involved in, before I decided to go with Brazilian artist, Gustavo Sazes.

An alien abduction story can be sort of blah, but Englund is the master at showcasing his personal side in the lyrics. So what we hear lyrically is how the main character struggles to understand what is happening and how scared and confused they are.

“The Masterplan”

Less than 5 minutes and what an opener. One of my favourite songs from Everygrey. Make sure you check out the live version on “A Night To Remember”. They do a Maiden “Running Free” singalong after the lead section which is perfect.

And the music video clip, with people painted to blend in the walls is unsettling as their eyes open, as the main character is being watched at all times.

“I have decided to keep this tape recorder with me at all times. Just so that I maybe one day can explain all the strange things happening to me. The lack of sleep…the loss of time. But most of all, the sensation of never being lonely…always being watched…”

And then the 7/8 syncopated intro blasts off.

Then that Chorus. The constant double kick, the power chords and the vocal melody which sings;

We are all a part off, forced to live within, a conspiracy for ages, the masterplan

The next time the second chorus rolls around, there is a little melodic lead before it. It’s a “why not” moment, to break up the verse and chorus structure.

The instrumental section in the interlude, the lead break and how they come out of this interlude and back into the Chorus. A masterpiece.

Make sure you check out Henrik Danhage’s outro lead break.

“Rulers Of The Mind”

It has another memorable intro.

The stomping drumming in the verses reminds me of “Kashmir”.

There is this orchestral choir happening over one of the lead breaks, which is unsettling.

And how good is the Chorus vocal melody and we had to live through an intro, two verses and a solo before we got to it. And then there is silence and a piano line. And slowly, it rebuilds up.

Make sure to check out the lead break at the 3.50 mark. Then at 4.21 those orchestral choirs come back in. They are cinematic and desperate. And the last 50 seconds, the Chorus reappears.

At 6 minutes long it didn’t get boring and I press repeat.

“Watching The Skies”

It feels like a Malmsteen or Dream Theater cut with the keyboard solo. And the double kick drumming from Patrick Carlsson is relentless, fast when it needs to be and syncopated when it needs to be.

Check out the section from 4.05 and the excellent lead break kicks in at 4.45.

“State Of Paralysis”

It has a haunting piano riff to kick it off and Englund is in theatre mode as he plays a fearful and confused abductee.

“They’re coming, they’re coming”

Englund keeps repeating those words.

“The Encounter”

“State of Paralysis” and “The Encounter” are basically the same song split into two different tracks. This one is progressive. Like Dream Theater “Awake” style of album.

Make sure you check out the guitar solo at the 3 minute mark and there is this ten second guitar melody that plays between 3.50 and 4.00.

And those same words, “they’re coming” keep reappearing.

“Mark Of The Triangle”

This is probably Evergrey at its progressive best, with tempo changes and technical playing. But still accessible.

The start alone has the bass locking in with the kick drum while the synth plays chords and the guitars play a lead.

This morphs into the guitars syncopating, with double kick drumming and the keyboard playing a melodic lead.

And it quietens down to the verse, which is just bass, piano and drums with a vocal melody.

At 1.30 the trademark Evergrey syncopated riff kicks in. It’s their style.

The whole guitar solo section from 3.55. Listen to the piano riff that kicks it off. All the pop songs from Max Martin use it. It’s a Sweden thing.

At the 5 minute mark the synths become dominant and its cinematic.

“Dark Waters”

The symphonic choir is haunting.

At 2.44 there is a different symphonic choir for a few seconds that reminds me of “Suite Sister Mary” from Queensryche. Which isn’t surprising as Queensryche is listed as an influence.

And the last three minutes of the song is epic, reminding me of songs like “The Aftermath” and “The Storm Within” from their recent albums.

“Different World’s”

How good is the piano intro?

And then Englund sings, with all his emotion.

The piano takes centre stage again at the 50 second mark with another iconic riff.

Then it goes back to the piano intro and an acoustic guitar with more vocals.

At 3.26, it’s the tape narrative again about, “oh god, it’s happening again”. The piano is haunting and at the 4 minute the guitar solo begins with big bends.

“Misled”

The album closer. It starts off with a piano riff and then the band cranks in.

Listen to the ahh choir before the Chorus and then there is a blast beat section of furious double kick before the Chorus kicks in.

Each verse has a different riff but within the same chord structure. Its creative and a progressive way of thinking.

At 2.59, it’s the style of Evergrey that they have carried to this day, syncopated staccato guitar riffs with a keyboard melody over the top.

The whole guitar solo section and coming out of it needs to be heard.

And then its silence, with a taped piano riff playing and Englund singing, “I’m crawling back to sleep” before the whole band kicks in.

I have to mention again that Tom Englund is a very underrated vocalist. Each song bears his emotion and soul. You hear anger, sadness, hope, fear and happiness. His voice is strong, ballsy, unique to him and it avoids sounding like a Geoff Tate or Ray Adler or Bruce Dickinson or David Coverdale copycat which a lot of artists started doing to get a break in the market. And throughout this album, his voice moves between strong and bold to panic, crying and whimpering in “Different Worlds” as he narrates, “Oh, god, it’s happening again / I don’t wanna be here / I wanna go home”.

This was also Evergrey’s first release on German label, “Inside Out”, a move up to a bigger label from their previous independent label. For the label, Inside Out, 2001 was a big year as they released “Burn the Sun” from Ark, “Terria” from Devin Townsend and “In Search Of Truth” from Evergrey, all seen as defining albums in the progressive metal genre.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

June 2020 – Part 3

Palimpsest
Protest The Hero

The cover of the raging bull with the American flag draped over a horn, tattered and torn, really got my attention. It’s a great piece of art.

I had to Google what “Palimpsest” meant. And it means, “a manuscript or piece of writing material on which later writing has been superimposed on the erased earlier writing.” Another definition which breaks it down is, “something reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of its earlier form.”

Protest The Hero can play their instruments. Their music moves between technical metal with textures from a lot of different genres. So they really earn the “progressive metal” title.

A Metal Injection review said, “the bands Queensryche meets Between The Buried And Me approach makes albums like 2013’s “Volition” indispensable amalgamations of conceptual grandiosity and technicality”.

And if you want a killer review of the album that I agree with, then the metal injection one is it. This album will be streamed for a while.

Landing In Heaven
Free Spirits Rising

About landing in a place in the afterlife and not knowing you are there.

And the best bit is when it changes half way through to a massive 2 plus minute outro section.

I guess “until it’s time to meet again, I’ll be here waiting”. There is an instrumental version of the song as well.

Press repeat.

Beyond Your Limits
Long Distance Calling

There album dropped recently and I’ve added all of it to my July playlist. From Germany, I am a fan of their instrumental rock grooves and I am hearing some vocals on this album.

The last three minutes.

The moods that deconstructs and reconstructs the song. Brilliant.

Then that last 30 seconds with that emotive lead break.

So I press repeat to listen again.

Back To Life
H.E.A.T

From the bands website: “In the new world order, we find ourselves in a position where we can’t go on tour, we feel we have a duty to bring some vibe to the summer of 2020. So kick back, grab a drink, make your backyard a festival area and let us bring you back to life.

And that’s exactly what I did, in the winter of 2020, Australian style.

Blood From Above
Stryper

From the upcoming “Even The Devil Believes” album, which will surely get the clergy into a mess. Its classic Stryper. Here is a review from a blog that I follow which I totally agree with.

Cradle Rock
Joe Bonamassa

When Bonamassa rocks out like he does on this one, I’m all in.

And the title hooked me in straight away because it reminded me of “And The Cradle Will Rock”. There is even a small section in the lead break, that brings back memories of Van Halen.

After A Few
Another Lost Year

I feel a bit tipsy after a few and I’m ready for a party, but in this song, they take it too far and make it way too hard to move on, after a few drinks.

A great listen.

Dangerous
Seether

That bass riff to kick off the song sounds dangerous as we are told to take off the blinders that cover our eyes.

Hot Damn
White Flame

That funky groove. Hot Damn.

Dead Elysium
Vanishing Point

From Melbourne, Australia and one of the best progressive metal bands out there.

It’s been six plus years since they released the excellent “Distant Is The Sun” and in between they have had their setbacks in getting this album done, especially around vocalist Silvio Massaro and his throat infections and respiratory illnesses.

If you like bands like Evergrey, then there is no way you can’t like Vanishing Point. Guitarist Chris Porcianko is an excellent song writer, creating intricate and syncopated riffs. And the dude can shred and be emotive as well.

This is the title track of album number 6.

The haunting piano kicks it off, and then that syncopated riff comes in, which reminds me of “The Masterplan” and “A Touch Of Blessing” blended together.

And I was all in.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Survival

For those that don’t know, TesseracT is a British progressive metal band formed in 2007.

All up they have released four full-length albums, one live album and three EPs. And they are building their audience, city by city, stream by stream, show by show, release by release.

The thing about TesseracT is the labelling.

A band called Meshuggah and Sikth came out many years ago and someone labelled their form of progressive music as djent. Seriously what the hell is djent or math core or math metal.

Who comes up with this rubbish?

Nikki Sixx said on Twitter once that all labels are from record label marketing.

Anyway, TesseracT started off as a metal act, with progressive time changes and feels and vocals with ranged between aggressive and melodic.

Then by the time they got to “Altered State” in 2012, it was like a different band. The music was more textured, subdued and melancholic. The progressive time changes were still there, but so were the clean tone vocals this time around, courtesy of new vocalist Ashe O’Hara, who left and old vocalist, Dan Tompkins came back.

Which brings us to “Polaris”. It was listed as sixth in my 2015 list.

“Survival” was the first track released to streaming services. It got a lot of press on the metal sites.

And if you want an introduction into the album, then “Survival” is the song. It’s got a bendy off-time single note riff with a catchy rock chorus.

Musicians never have “overnight” success. We all know that news stories like these headlines but behind every headline like that, there are artists who have worked tirelessly for a long time and committed to many days apart from their to families so they could exist as a band.

This is what “Survival” is about.

Ten years of hope have passed, you felt alone
And pictured life a little differently

Ten years trying to build a music career and you are still in the same apartment or house from where you started. And your loved ones are there, supporting you and giving you advice and hope.

And people say that life has just begun
When you’re not a part of me I feel dead inside

It’s not your “standard touring life” or “trying to make it in music” song like “Turn The Page” or “Wanted Dead Or Alive” or “Home Sweet Home”.

It’s a bit more intellectual because post Napster, there was no record label whisking you away from your family with millions of dollars. There never was.

But people believed their was.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

The World Of Prog And Metal Will Be Changed Forever By The End Of October.

The world of Progressive Metal and Heavy Metal will be changed forever by the end of October. It wont be my mammoth sales or by charting in the top 10. That is old school. It will be years later, that the greatness of Trivium and Protest The Hero will be hailed.

We live in a blockbuster world and these two releases “Volition” from Protest The Hero and “Vengeance Falls” from Trivium are two such blockbusters.

The two songs from Protest The Hero released so far are killer. They have that WOW factor. The first one “Clarity” I have already spoken about in my 40 word review.

The second one, “DrumHead Trail” has got this Maiden gallop vibe I am hearing. The drumming on the whole album is by Chris Adler from Lamb Of God.

You can really hear that metal edge that Adler brings to the table, especially around the double kick sections of the first two songs. It is also super progressive. What an excellent job. To be honest I really thought that Dream Theater would be entering territory like this with their self-titled release on at least one song.

Protest The Hero deliver insanity like prog in 5 minutes. I really can’t wait for the fan funded version to hit my mailbox. Hearing the two songs so far from Protest The Hero, it sure looks like a huge stamp for Prog as well.

I’ll tell you one thing, it’s not mainstream and it’s never going to be embraced by everybody, however Protest The Hero have created a niche.

Plus there is still Trivium’s new one to come, which sounds like it will be a huge stamp for Metal.

From what I have heard, I have no issues out laying the money.

“No Way To Heal” is the new song doing the rounds. It follows on nicely from “Brave This Storm” and “Strife.”

“I’m running on empty / I’m chasing a dead dream / I’m all out of time / Clutching the will, only to feel / No Way to Heal!!!”

Trivium working with Dave Draiman was the best thing to have happened to them. Next in line, they should work with Kevin Churko.

Also, for any young kid that is getting into metal and progressive music for the first time, these two releases are perfect introductions. For the hardcore fans, these two releases will satisfy. For the casual metal fan, they will bite at these two new releases.

Life is long and artists need to have perserverance for that delayed gratification.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Shifting Thoughts with Evergrey, Dream Theater and Five Finger Death Punch – Are Corporate Deals the New Music Business?

The internet is flush with information about artists needing to do what is valuable to them. However what is valuable to them doesn’t always mean that it is valuable to everyone else.

So artists are always going back to square one. This is when artists will start to compromise their artistic vision and produce cookie cutter crap. However what an artist should be doing is to keep on writing. In the end, that valuable song will be written and it will translate to your audience. This is when the thing that you love to do, translates to an audience that loves what you do.

Evergrey is a Swedish progressive metal band. They are eight albums in so far. Their first album The Dark Discovery came out in 1998 and the most recent one Glorious Collision came out in 2011. The mainstay of the band is guitarist/vocalist Tom Englund, who also functions as the main songwriter in the band. Around him, band members come and go, with the most recent change happening in 2010.

Englund is remaining true to his artistic vision. He is not compromising on it and he is not changing his vision to chase any current trends. Drummer Jonas Ekdahl and guitarist Henrik Danhage left Evergrey in 2010 to form a metal core outfit called Death Destruction with the lead singer from another Swedish band called Dead By April. Chasing trends.

It all comes down to what the artist wants to achieve from their career. Englund is all about the art and to me it seems like he is happy with the level of success he has. Would he like to be bigger? I am sure the answer would be YES to that, however would he complain about his lot in life. I think not. Englund is doing the thing that he loves to do and he has found an audience that loves what he does.

Bands like Coheed and Cambria, Digital Summer and Protest The Hero all get it.

Digital Summer is all fan funded. They have been around since 2006. They have toured strategically since inception as all the band members hold down full time jobs. They are three albums and one EP in so far and based on their business model, they will be around for a long time.

Protest The Hero is also fan funded. Their recent Indiegogo campaign more than tripled their goal (and YES I am one of those fans that donated). They have even rewarded the super fans that have shared the contribution link and gotten other people to contribute with additional perks.

Coheed and Cambria are a very fan centric band. The way they have packaged The Afterman releases with the digital downloads available on the day of release, along with demos and back stories of each song, as well as an 80 odd page hard cover book is just brilliant. They did it their way and with a price that was just right.

Dream Theater is one band that is sitting on the fringe here. They are still doing it the old way as they know their fan base will lap up the new self-titled album. Their recent co-promotion with mainstream entity USA Today to launch their new single The Enemy Within is just another corporate deal in the same vein as Jay Z partnering with Samsung.

USA Today offer a certain amount of dollars so that they are the exclusive and first on line website to premier the new song. By doing this, Dream Theater, their label, their manager and whoever else has a stake in the band will get paid up front and USA Today will get traffic to their website which they can then use to get a higher ad revenue from their advertisers’.

Before all the DT Forum Elitists start jumping up in arms and start calling me an idiot, every band is entitled to earn money in any way they see fit. This is no different to Dire Straits and Phillips teaming up in the Eighties, to push the new CD format onto consumers. If that what Dream Theater’s business model needs them to do, good on them. In the end the fans will decide the fate of the band, as they have done for every band that came before and that will come after.

Five Finger Death Punch did something similar were they teamed/partnered with Loudwire to produce a track by track webisode series. The Five Finger Death Punch co-promotion was super cool as it focused on delivering back stories to each of the songs. As a fan, it is those little extra details that I really like. That could be the reason why Five Finger Death Punch have reached Gold status with each album release. Those little things, like a track by track webisode.

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