The line-up which is known to me as the classic line up had vocalist Midnight, guitarist Jon Drenning and Ben Jackson, bassist Jeff Lords and drummer Dana Burnell.
They never broke out big in North America, with Asia and Europe being their main market. Their presence in Europe was probably due to Roadrunner Europe being their label and they got behind the band, booking them to play shows in major markets like Germany, France, UK, Holland, Belgium and Sweden.
Their overnight European success was 5 years in the making.
The masquerade mask angle along with hard rock perms and teased hair and leather vests was strange to begin with, but I understood their message, that the music should lead the way, not how they looked but by the third album the masks ceased to be and hard rock abs were on display in photo shoots.
The self-titled debut came out in 1986 but I didn’t hear it until 89, after I purchased “Transcendence” and I went back and got the debut.
Also by 1989, a lot of the bands I liked started to change or were past their heyday.
Scorpion’s didn’t really amuse me with “Savage Amusement” in 87, UFO still powdered their noses and had no recording contract, Queensryche went hard rock (which was a good thing) but I also liked their metal style and I was seeking bands like that, Iron Maiden lost an important band member and went even more streamlined with “No Prayer For The Dying” and Black Sabbath was still trying to replenish their worth and value after the “Born Again” debacle while Dio was starting to lose his star power from 5 years before.
So I went looking elsewhere for my unique metal fix and Crimson Glory filled the void.
And I like to play the guitar, so any album that makes me pick up the guitar to learn the songs gets my attention, and this is what the Crimson Glory albums do.
There is a countdown. Then a chromatic moving arpeggio/lick in harmony.
And the speed kicks in.
The fastest song on the album, relentless like “Screaming For Vengeance” and that ball tearing falsetto from Midnight rattled my windows. A mixture between King Diamond and Rob Halford on this.
The lead breaks are Judas Priest like.
“Queen of the Masquerade”
It’s more hard rock than heavy metal with the “I Love Rock N Roll” chords in the verses and some serious shred.
The intro gets me with the harmony leads.
At the 2.00 mark, there is this guitar riff which moves up chromatically, reminding me of how “The Call Of Ktulu” does the same thing. Mustaine actually used that chromatic movement for “In My Darkest Hour” and then he took his “The Call Of Ktulu” riff and made it “Hangar 18”.
Check out the harmony solo’s on this.
Along with “Valhalla”, it’s a two punch combo knockout.
The intro is a mix of acoustic guitars, symphonic voices, violins and Midnight’s unique voice which sounds like Geoff Tate from “The Warning” album.
This then leads in to one of the best metal tracks I have heard with harmony guitars and galloping riffs.
Check out the riff at 2.23, done in harmony. It goes for about 10 seconds, a brief change between verses.
The lead break from 3.11. It’s guitar hero worthy but guitarists Jon Drenning and Ben Jackson are virtually unknown to the masses as Crimson Glory didn’t really cross over like Queensryche in the U.S market.
It starts off with a Midnight wail, harmony guitars and then a Deep Purple “Stormbringer” like riff in the verses.
Make sure you check out the Chorus, which has a combination of harmony guitars and an AOR rock chorus.
But it’s the harmony lead lick that comes after the Chorus that really gets me hooked.
Plus the outro lead break. Check it out. It as good as Jake E Lee’s “Bark At The Moon” outro.
A haunting acoustic piece, built on two chords and Midnight’s gloomy and mournful vocals.
From 3.10, distorted guitars crash in with reverbed drums and after 30 seconds it fades out to how it started.
“Heart Of Steel”
It starts off with acoustic guitars and harmony leads.
It reminds me of 70’s Scorpions with Uli Jon Roth on guitars, with a nod to the song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. And it’s probably their most catchiest.
I like the way Midnight sings “Heart of steeeeeeeeeee-eeeeeeeeeeee-eeeeeeeeeeel” with an increase in pitch as he holds steel.
Check out the little harmony lead at around the 4.10 mark. And the last 15 seconds is that good, the only thing you can do is press repeat.
At 5 minutes long it doesn’t get boring.
Especially the guitar playing and those harmony leads.
“Angels of War”
It’s very reminiscent of Iron Maiden.
There is a lot of great guitar playing but the little section from 3.25 is excellent.
And my favourite is when the bass and drums kick in at 3.55, then the harmony guitars start and then the Chorus vocal. A perfect minute to end the song.
It’s not on the vinyl version that I have. But it’s on Spotify.
Like other songs, it is a mixture of acoustic guitars in the verses with an anthemic chorus full of distorted chords. It feels like Dio vocally, but musically, it’s more in the spirit of the 70’s.
The section from 3.45 is brief but so good.
And then the lead breaks start.
“Dream Dancer can fly away / wings of fire she burns the nightshade”
And like that, the 1986 part 2 series comes to an end as I fly away to 1976.
There first EP released in 2007 is also called Dead Letter Circus. Hence why I put 2018 in the title of this LP.
Dead Letter Circus is a well loved prog rock band. To me their music is hard to describe as the songs are all in the 3 to 5 minute range, something that bands listed as prog don’t really do. They don’t have a million notes per minute sections either. It’s all music and vocals. And awesome drumming.
The band is Kim Benzie on vocals, Clint Vincent and Luke Palmer on guitars, Stewart Hill on bass, and Luke Williams on drums.
The Armour You Own
The bass and drums set the groove and the guitar locks in with em. It’s familiar and I like it, in the same way AC/DC play it safe within their blues rock style, DLC do the same in their prog alternative rock style.
You will reach You will fall down Every time you fail you will change
It’s how we learn.
At 2.50 it quietens down before it builds up again. You need to hear it, to feel it.
The Real You
Hey you there Show me the real you Here in the physical Because I see right through
Social media allows us to portray an image that is fake. Take a photo from above your head and suddenly you look slim and with deep fake photos and videos doing the rounds, no one can tell what is real anymore.
People need to get back to what was real. F
ace to face communication. And we can’t even do that in 2021 because of social distancing and lockdowns.
Another song with a familiar sound from the earlier albums.
You alone the reason The architect of all this time Now you own this life Build it Fill it
It starts with you and no one else. Don’t blame others. It’s your life, own it and if something is not right, you have the power to change it.
It starts with you.
Running Out Of Time
How good is the Intro?
It’s an anthem. This is the band at their best.
Hoping maybe one day everything you want will fall into your hands You don’t need to try
Life doesn’t work that way. Being a good student and then getting a job to pay bills and a mortgage will not give you what you want. You need to seize it.
We Own the Light
After four rockers, this one is almost ballad like.
No one else can understand my headspace I’ve been slipping from my happiness This whole time
We can only fake it for so long before we hit the wall. And we are not alone. So many others experience the same.
The vocal melodies are memorable and hooky. This song just needs to be listened to, so it can be fully understood. one of my favorites.
Ladders For Leaders
Another song that lives in ballad like territory. It percolates and simmers.
Somehow they defeated us with no one even bleeding No resistance or debate They just covered our eyes Villains created, become ladders for leaders To keep us from asking who’s holding the strings coming from their backs
A brilliant verse.
We like to be comfortable and that means we like to have a stable income to get us through life. And for a lot of us, stability is good and we are happy building someone else’s dream while we believe we are building ours.
But for a small percentage of us, stability is not what we desire and we change the world.
This song would not be our of place on their debut album “This Is The Warning” released in 2010.
Yeah if you and I and them trade places Make our stand in generation Let the truth collide
Say It Won’t Be Long
This is the best track on the album and it’s deep in the album order.
The way it percolates and builds towards the end, it needs to be listened to.
Now I feel my confidence is growing My sense of self worth is unfolding I am now fearless facing forward So I start crawling
The mental awakening when you stop pretending to be someone else.
I love the grooves and riffs on this one.
I know I’m chasing something I can find home in Think of all that I’ve been through Every scar that I’ve grown through There is nothing to fear now I am ready for change now To find my soul in it
What a great message to end the album with.
Lay back, crank it and have the lyric sheet or the lyrics via the net in front of you.
Apart from the great listening experience it also changed the way I played and wrote songs. After this album, I was okay with jamming on a groove instead of soloing.
This album joined albums like “Tribute”, “Powerslave”, “Somewhere In Time”, “Appetite For Destruction”, “Slave To The Grind”, “The Great Radio Controversy”, “And Justice For All”, “Metallica Black Album”, “5150”, “Hysteria”, “Wicked Sensation”, “No More Tears” and “Images And Words” as my “Bible” albums. These “Bible” albums are albums that I devoured, learning the riffs and the licks.
Tool is Maynard James Keenan on vocals, Adam Jones on guitar, Justin Chancellor on bass and Danny Carey on drums. Production is handled by David Bottrill.
The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. It went to No. 1 in Australia. In the U.S its certified as 3x Platinum and in Australia it’s also certified as Platinum. People were listening and unable to turn it off. Even on streaming services, the song “Schism” has only been on Spotify just under two years and it’s at 49.3 million streams, And it’s a 8 minute song.
The album is a product of the members being at the peak of their creativity and a four year label dispute.
At the time the band was critical of file sharing, so as part of the marketing for the album, they announced a different album title and a bogus 12 song track list, with stupid titles like “Encephatalis” and “Coeliacus”. Of course, the unregulated Wild West of file sharing sites, were flooded with bogus files bearing the titles’ names. It wasn’t until a month later that the band revealed the real album name and that the name “Systema Encéphale” and the track list had been a bunch of bullshit.
CD’s can pack 79 minutes of music and Tool gave em a few seconds back. Because at 78 minutes and 51 seconds long, it’s got every groove and landscape packed in across the 13 tracks. And to think that they kept editing the album at the mastering stage to get it under 79 minutes.
The whine of a machine starting up and it all comes crashing in, the toms are syncopated with the guitar riff and the bass is unique, taking the lead here to outline a different melody.
Once the vocals kick in with “Wear the grudge like a crown of negativity / Calculate what we will or will not tolerate”, they syncopate with the guitar riff. Maynard is telling ya, don’t let your grudges hold you back.
At 1.22, the song changes. It takes you into uncharted territory. The previous landscape is gone, in the rear-view mirror. And we are into the verse.
Clutch it like a cornerstone Otherwise, it all comes down Terrified of being wrong Ultimatum prison cell
You can’t imagine your life without the grudge you might have against the person who wronged you, the scarlet letterman. And what if your grudge isn’t justified and you have been wrong the whole time. You don’t want to be in that position, so you keep holding onto the grudge.
The song changes again after the bridge, with the vocal melody of “Choose to let this go”. The riff is heavy, Sabbath like heavy.
Give away the stone Let the waters kiss and transmutate These leaden grudges into gold
Let the burden go, it’s okay. Don’t let your hate and prejudices define you anymore.
The song then percolates and builds from 6.25 as the intro riff returns. Then there is silence and just the bass. And then an explosion of music from the 7 minute mark as Maynard belts out a scream that he carries for 24 seconds.
Studio trickery. Maybe.
The last 30 seconds is how you end a song. Listen to it. You will not be disappointed.
A creeping guitar riff starts the song off. At the Sydney concert I watched, Maynard did say the song is about the vampires that you come across in your life, who try to get you down.
But I’m still right here Giving blood, keeping faith And I’m still right here
Wait it out Gonna wait it out Be patient (wait it out)
The vampires could be anything. The education system, society, the corporations, the government, a friend, a lover, a family member. Be patient. Everyone comes undone eventually.
8 power chords are played on the bass, then silence for a few seconds, before the iconic bass riff starts the song. Justin Chancellor announces himself as a bass hero.
I know the pieces fit cause I watched them tumble down No fault, none to blame, it doesn’t mean I don’t desire To point the finger, blame the other, watch the temple topple over To bring the pieces back together, rediscover communication
Once upon a time, all religions were the right one, than, they fell apart. The pieces are now corrupt, moulded shadows of the once great temple. This song says if the pieces don’t communicate with each other than we are doomed.
They are two tracks on the album. But they exist as one as the last note of “Parabol” flows into “Parabola”
The three minutes of “Parabol” feels like I’m in the vast plains of the Middle East, looking at the night sky.
The Pre Chorus and Chorus of “Parabola” echo Maynard’s work with A Perfect Circle.
This body holding me, reminding me that I am not alone in This body makes me feel eternal All this pain is an illusion
Live in the now people. It’s easier said than done. I know people who can’t let go of the past. It consumes them to the stage of insanity. They feel wronged. But all this pain a person feels focusing on the past is an illusion. It’s not real, it manifests in the brain. The pain that you think you are experiencing will pass.
At 2.04 it changes from being a standard hard rock song into a typical Tool song.
At 3.58 the bass takes over for a brief moment before the band kicks in, setting up the finale, the last 2 minutes.
At 4.40, a Black Sabbath fuzzed out riff kicks in. it plays while the drums play like a ceremonial fill.
Ticks And Leeches
A drum pattern kicks off the song. The bass kicks in, with a riff that is played along with the bass drum. It’s weird and off putting. Then the guitars kick in with some repeating single notes, the bass gets busier and so do the drums. By the 50 second mark, the double kick is frantic.
And then it changes for the verses.
Maynard’s melody is bordering on the periphery like a chainsaw.
Hope this is what you wanted Hope this is what you had in mind Cause this is what you’re getting I hope you’re choking I hope you choke on this
How good is that that Pre Chorus and Chorus riff, when Maynard is singing the melody of “hope this is what you wanted” and “I hope your choking”.
At 3.24 it changes into a clean tone guitar riff that keeps repeating forever. It percolates up to the 5.58 minute mark, before it explodes for the final 2 minutes.
Got nothing left to give to you
Every person with a dream or a goal has ticks and leeches waiting to suck em dry. Even good old Mother Nature will have nothing left to give us except floods, droughts and fire, for the humans are parasites here, sucking the wealth of resources dry for profit.
Then the massive ending from 7.20. The double kick drums are relentless, that Pre Chorus/Chorus riff kicks in and Maynard starts with his “is this what you wanted” melody.
The epic title track at 9 minutes and 22 seconds long.
The clean guitar riff is basic and it keeps repeating. Then the bass comes in and the drums, an explosion of poly rhythms and exploration.
How good is the main riff from 1.15? It’s a metal tour de force.
At 4.50, it’s just the bass, playing a triplet of notes with a brief pause.
And the intro guitar kicks in again.
And it keeps building.
Then at 7.17, the best part of the song kicks in. The drums play a simple beat, while the guitar is staccato like and the bass is doing something different, highlighting the vocal melody with a choice selection of notes.
It needs to be heard to be understood.
Reaching out to embrace the random. Reaching out to embrace whatever may come.
A song in which the “spirit” lives outside the norms but the person is still human and divine at the same time. They touch on these kind of themes with “Forty Six & 2” from the “Aenima” album.
Listen to it and read the lyrics. It’s like a complex novel coming to life.
Disposition/Reflection/Triad/Faaip De Oiad
The final tracks are part of a large suite but separate tracks on the album.
“Disposition” is like a tribal drum groove with a clean tone guitar riff. It only goes for about 3 minutes and 20 seconds.
It carries into “Reflection” which is the centrepiece at 11 minutes. It has a drum groove that evokes the Middle East, another iconic bass line, synths and an exotic guitar and vocal line.
So crucify the ego, before it’s far too late To leave behind this place so negative and blind and cynical And you will come to find that we are all one mind Capable of all that’s imagined and all conceivable Just let the light touch you And let the words spill through And let them pass right through Bringing out our hope and reason
It’s an incredible Tool song.
How good is the line “capable of all that’s imagined and conceivable”?
It’s the same mantra put forward by the self-development industry. You know the one, the 10,000 hours, showing grit, emotional intelligence, a growth mindset, resilience and creating a culture in which people feel safe to express their thoughts and everything will turn out okay.
From 8.28 it really kicks into a groove. Watching it live, is a memorable experience.
A 6 minute conclusion as the vast plains of the Middle East are back.
“Faaip de Oiad” is Enochian for “The Voice of God”. Now if you’re wondering what Enochian is, I also had to look it up when I came across it years ago. It’s basically an occult language that two spiritualists from England came up with, who claim angels divined this language to them.
As for the song, it’s just abstract noise and nothing worth talking about.
I was introduced to Tool in 1998. My best man burnt me the “Aenima” CD. I immediately got it. It was exactly what I was looking for. I didn’t want the album to end.
This album has sustained 20 years. It’s not something you play a track from and then forget about, it’s something you go deeper into. It’s a journey.
They covered so much ground with this album and “Aenima”, that they next two albums that came after in “10,000 Days” and “Fear Inoculum” got stigmatised as sounding like “Aenima” and “Lateralus”.
And progressive rock/metal is meant to be dead. But Tool doesn’t fit into that category. It’s a little bit of metal, a little bit of rock, a little bit of progressive in its time changes and song structures and in its lyrics, they push different boundaries and messages. And Tool doesn’t care what the labels want or what the charts like. They push their own envelope, catering to their own needs first and taking their listeners with them.
Most of Tool’s songs since the “Aenima” album, are over seven minutes long. Their most recent album “Fear Inoculum” has every song over ten minutes. From a streaming point of view, this is a bad idea, as one Tool song from start to finish equates to three to four pop songs. And in an hour, you will hear a 15 minute Tool song 4 times whereas a 3 minute pop song will be heard 20 times.
So when you see a Tool song in the multi-millions, just think of the time invested listening to these songs.
If you hate Tool, then keep ignoring em. If you are into hip-hop only, ignore em. If you like your 3 to 4 minute pop fix, ignore em. But if you are a rocker and you liked how bands used to experiment with a song or two on an album, then you need to check out Tool.
And like Tool, I couldn’t edit this post any shorter. It is what it is, because it is.
The thing with blogs and posts is that you try and write something different and creative. Like this post, titled “Dollars And Cents”. At the time I was reading a book on innovations and Charles Goodyear inspired me.
Everyone today knows “Charles Goodyear” as the inventor of vulcanised rubber. But what they don’t know is that he spent his whole life on struggle street, in and out of prison because of his money problems and six of his twelve children died because he couldn’t support them.
And when he perfected his vulcanised rubber, he couldn’t take out a patent because another scientist called Thomas Hancock took out a patent eight weeks earlier. You see, Hancock had gotten a hold of a sample of Goodyear’s final product and reverse engineered it.
Goodyear tried the courts, however the judge couldn’t understand how Hancock could have reverse engineered the invention and awarded all rights and royalties to Hancock.
It wasn’t until his journals were read by others that the following was found: “Life should not be estimated exclusively by the standard of dollars and cents.”
The Goodyear name would be recognised many years later. His achievements are world-changing but he never got paid for it while he was alive.
And the post combined F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ken Kesey, Dream Theater, Metallica and others.
These days, every town has thousands of bands who are recording themselves and releasing their music. And there are artists who have “made it” who are also releasing music. And they all want to be paid for it. Because their hard work and time spent is worth something. It’s all dollars and cents until you have that iconic hit. Only then you will be paid. When the music listening public decides it’s worthy.
Once upon a time my Release Radar playlist was pretty spot. Check out my love for The Night Flight Orchestra, Rise Against, Hell Or Highwater, Adrenaline Mob and Harem Scarem.
And when I was thinking about innovations, I thought about the cassette.
The Cassette tape allowed me to make demo after demo, mix tape after mix tape and it allowed me to copy a lot of albums from people who either had the original album or had a copy of the album from someone else who either had the original or had a copy.
For me it is was a game changer.
The record labels screamed loud and hard to their politician friends to pass new laws and stop this new sharing culture. Remember their headline, “Home taping is killing music.” A more accurate and truthful headline would be, “Home Taping is Spreading Music to the Masses” or “Home Taping Is Spreading Music And This Leads To Increased Sales Later On”.
In the Year 2000, the mainstream was ruled by Nu-Metal bands and progressive music was really at opposite ends of the spectrum.
On one side, you had the Dream Theater style of progressive music. This involved a lot of time changes, with the focus on high-octane technical musical workouts and each song exhibited a smorgasbord of riffs.
On the other side of the progressive music spectrum, you had the Tool style of progressive music. This involved time changes, but the focus was on groove and atmospherics, with each song building on a unique riff or bass line or drum pattern. Tool always stood by their brand and never wavered from it.
In between you had Porcupine Tree, merging Tool like aggression with Pink Floyd like atmospherics and on the extreme end you had Meshuggah with their focus on groovy, technical polyrhythms.
The missing link is Fates Warning. Fates Warning released an album called “Disconnected” which merged the Tool and Porcupine Tree progressive elements with the Dream Theater progressive elements and put them through the Fates Warning blender. It’s a fusion of all the best progressive elements at the time into a cohesive piece of work that can be listened to over and over again from start to finish.
Making something technical sound simple to the ear is progressive music to me.
Metallica did it with each album up to “…And Justice For All”.
Rush did it with each album until they reset their career with “Signals”.
Dream Theater nailed it with “Images And Words”.
Fates Warning nailed it with “Disconnected”.
And back in 2013, I was writing that if an artist wants to make money from streaming music, then they should stay independent and don’t sign to a label.
Or if they sign to make sure they own their copyrights. Streaming pays pretty good, provided people are listening. And the more people who embrace streaming, the greater the pool of money to divide.
Remember when AC/DC refused to have their music on iTunes and even streaming services? Now they’re on all of them.
And remember that each release is competing with the history of music
8 Years Ago (2013)
I was watching Eurovision and I came across Eythor Ingi from Iceland. He sang a ballad called “I Am Alive”. The song is average, however his voice, his look and his name stuck in my head.
So I went to YouTube. He was in a Deep Purple cover band and he covers “Child In Time”. If you want to separate the vocalists from the wannabe’s, “Child In Time” is the song.
I just rechecked on him and he’s still doing music in his native language. I would like to hear an English speaking album as well.
And did anyone hear the new (at the time) Five Finger Death Punch song, “Lift Me Up” and how similar the vocal line in the verse is to “The Ultimate Sin” from Ozzy. A perfect example of taking something from the past to make something new.
And they create because they want to create. And at the time System Of A Down had three quarters of the band ready to do another album. But vocalist Serj Tankian was not interested.
“Kingmaker” from Megadeth was just released. The first thing that grabbed my attention was the “Children of The Grave” influence in the verses.
Finally, the Richie Sambora saga was ongoing and some serious scalping was happening in Australia, as tickets to the first Jovi shows in Australia were still available to be purchased but the shows are marketed as sold out and second shows are up for sale.
The first copy I gave to the drummer from a band I was in, along with “The Dirt” hardcover book and the “Rush In Rio” DVD. But when we had an argument, he wouldn’t return the items. So I repurchased “The Dirt” but this time in paperback, and this DVD. The Rush DVD price was extravagant when I was looking for it and I haven’t relooked since.
Now, live albums have been known to have a lot of studio overdubs or in some cases, total re-recording of some of the tracks in the studio. From what I can hear, nothing feels fixed or redone in a studio on this. So what you get, is a band that can deliver live, the chaos they create in the studio. If anything, I believe the guitars are tuned down ½ a step as Claudio’s voice was strained during this period. But man, he still delivers.
Coming into this release, Coheed and Cambria had released three studio albums, in “The Second Stage Turbine Blade”, “In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth” and “Good Apollo”. For the hardcore Coheed fans, yes, I’ve abbreviated the names of the album titles.
It’s the only live release with the original line up of Claudio Sanchez on vocals/guitars, Travis Stever on guitar and backing vocals, Michael Todd on bass and backing vocals and Josh Eppard on drums and backing vocals. Michael Petrak does additional percussion and Dave “Wavis” Parker is performing keyboards, backing vocals, some extra guitar and samples.
In a perfect world, the audio of this concert would be available on Spotify, but it isn’t. YouTube has the live concert footage and some of the YouTube users have created just the audio.
“In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3”
A perfect opener. It’s just a bit faster than the studio recording, but hey, that’s why I love the live show. And the crowd gets involved with the who-oh-oh chant towards the end.
“Ten Speed (Of God’s Blood and Burial)”
This version is electrifying. Again, a bit sped up than the studio, but I feel the energy smack me in the face.
“Blood Red Summer”
It follows the poppy rock vibes of “Ten Speed” perfectly.
This version is a metal beast and this live version is my go to track for it. As mentioned previously, its downtuned a little bit more from the studio cut and it sounds menacing.
After the two pop rock songs in “Ten Speed” and “Blood Red Summer” the placement of this is perfect to get the live concert back into progressive and metal like territory.
One of the best ballads from Coheed and Cambria, and live, you just hear the clean tone electric guitar, Claudio’s voice and the crowd singling along with him. It’s chilling, emotive and perfect.
From the debut album, the intensity of the song grabs my attention quickly. Hearing it played alongside songs from two of my favourite albums, works perfectly. The middle subdued section offers a calm before the song picks up again. With so much musical movements, nothing is lost and missed.
“A Favor House Atlantic”
It’s faster. When I watched the band live, this song is sing-a-long. You can’t make out the audiences here and you sort of lose the power of when Claudio drops out and the crowd sings. But the energy is still there. “Bye, bye, beautiful” alright.
The pop punk energy comes through. I wanted a bigger impact for the “wishing well, will you marry me” part but not all songs can be winners.
I don’t think this song worked well live.
The best cut and I like the sped up vibe of the song. And even though its quicker, the intensity of the vocals is still there. I would have loved to be able to hear the crowd cheering the who-oh-oh at the end.
“The Willing Well IV: The Final Cut”
At 14 minutes long, its eight minutes longer than the CD version and the jam aspect vibe they bring to this track is brilliant.
When there jamming the middle section lead break, they play this lead break that I swear comes from “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son” lead break.
And when they come out of the jam back into the normal song, its powerful and beautiful. The crash cymbals are smashing, the guitars are screaming and all hell is breaking loose as they finish off the concert.
In the end, “The Last Supper” leaves you wanting more of the Coheed and Cambria supper.
I was waiting for my CD to come in before I did this post.
The debut album was released in 2002, but the story goes back to 1995 when Claudio Sanchez and Travis Stever had a band called “Toxic Parents” which then became “Beautiful Loser”.
Three months later, Stever left and the remaining members renamed the band, “Shabutie”.
Michael Todd was recruited in 1996 and would remain the bassist until his arrest for break and enter circa 2010/11.
As Shabütie, the band released their first studio demo “Plan to Take Over the World” in 1999 and “The Penelope EP” in 1999, shortly after which Stever rejoined the band.
The original drummer left in 1999 and Josh Eppard was the replacement. He would be the drummer on the first three Coheed albums and while he was out of the band between 2006 and 2011 he returned for “The Afterman” albums and is still the drummer at this point in time.
The band went on to release another EP called “Delirium Trigger” in 2000 and several songs that appeared on it, were based on a series of science fiction comics written by Claudio Sanchez called “The Bag.On.Line Adventures”, which were later renamed “The Amory Wars”.
This science fiction story was Sanchez’s side project. Eventually, the band would rename themselves as Coheed and Cambria, after two of the story’s protagonists.
In a nutshell, and spoiler alert, Coheed and Cambria are dead by the end of it. Coheed by now had already killed off his children except Claudio and Cambria had to kill Coheed as he unleashed a virus and then unable to live without Coheed, she killed herself. In the process her energy/sacrifice then saved the dying star that Coheed was trying to destroy. Their son Claudio, is left to pick up the pieces.
A lot of pieces of the puzzle are put into place, and backstory’s are told. The fan wiki page does a great job detailing it.
“Second Stage Turbine Blade”
It’s a minute of ambient noise and an ominous sombre piano riff.
The feel of this song in the first minute feels like a Pink Floyd/U2 jam mash up. It is raw and gritty as it grooves its way to the exploding of distorted guitars at the 1.14 mark.
“Devil In Jersey City”
It’s got that pop punk feel, almost happy like but the subject matter is disturbing involving a bashing and a rape by the gang called “Jersey City Devils” on the daughter of Coheed and Cambria and her partner.
This moves into “Everything Evil,” which is arguably the most proggy track on the album. The ending of the song has that piano riff which becomes the first song on subsequent albums
The heaviest song on the album.
“Hearshot Kid Disaster”
It has a funky riff.
A pop song which is 3.30 long. Coincidence.
“Junesong Provision” Heavy guitar and impressive vocals and lyrics make up this noteworthy song.
The bass is excellent and the riffs are rooted in hard rock. Claudio’s vocals are the most confident on this one and it shows.
“God Send Conspirator” A clean guitar riff starts the song off, which sounds like an indie song. The bass grooves and funks it’s way throughout.
“Sound Awake” was released in 2009 and it peaked at Number 2 on the Australian Charts.
Karnivool is an Australian progressive band formed in Perth, Western Australia in 1997, with an interesting set list of Nirvana and Carcass songs.
The group currently consists of Ian Kenny on vocals, Drew Goddard and Mark Hosking on guitar, Jon Stockman on bass, and Steve Judd on drums.
The last album they did was “Asymmetry” released in 2013. Vocalist, Ian Kenny is also the lead singer in the highly successful pop rock act, “Birds Of Tokyo” which started off as a side project for him and I’m pretty sure it is now his main project as the Gold and Platinum and Multi-Platinum certifications mount up for em.
So, after touring in the US on the “Themata” album, Karnivool returned to Australia in 2008 and entered the studio to write their follow-up. While writing the album, they still toured around Australia, testing out some of the new songs in the live arena.
While “Themata” was written mostly by guitarist Drew Goodard, “Sound Awake” was much more of a collaborative effort from everyone.
“Simple Boy” and Goliath” show an influence from The Mars Volta and pack a one two punch to kick off the album.
“New Day” at 8 minutes long, is a must listen, with its melodic vocals and progressive structures and how it just keeps building. If you want to hear how Birds Of Tokyo sound then this is the bastard child of their sound. It even has a Live feel.
“Set Fire To The Hive” is a nod to Soundgarden’s “Badmotorfinger” days, a bit of modern “System Of A Down” and their Alternative Rock style from the first album.
“Umbra” has a catchy hook to start the song. The ending is excellent, stick around for it.
“All I Know” has an odd riff and a Tool like rhythm.
“The Caudal Lure” is the most progressive track, moving between time signatures and feels.
“Illumine” is a metal cut.
And the last two tracks are the piece d resistance with guitarists Drew Goddard and Mark Hosking shining.
“Deadman” just keeps building up and the song ends around 10 minutes, with some ambient noise and then a re-recorded version of “Change (Part 1)”, starts. But when this song was on “Themata” it built and when we expected it to blast off, it ended. Now we finally hear what comes after the build-up.
“Change (Part 2)” has all the best things of Sabbath, Tool, Radiohead and hard rock.
Musically, Tool, Porcupine Tree and early Muse come to mind. There’s some Deftones and Radiohead there. There’s an Alternative Rock vibe from the debut that’s still there. It’s catchy, has heaps of melody because Ian Kenny is one of Australia’s best singers. The rhythm section of Judd and Stockman is excellent, creative and full of ideas to change it up. And Goddard and Hosking make a wonderful twin guitar outfit.
Released in 2005, Claudio Sanchez, Travis Stever, Michael Todd and Josh Eppard are back for “Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness”, putting in a serious challenge to Meatloaf on the length of album titles.
I call it “Good Apollo IV”.
“Keeping The Blade”/”Always And Never”
It starts off with violins and an ominous piano riff. After about 90 seconds, a piece of music which is familiar appears.
Then an acoustic guitar riff starts for “Always And Never”, while Sanchez sings a haunting vocal melody. But these tracks are a set up for what is about to come.
This is the big one, at 73.7 million streams on Spotify.
That intro. Listen to it.
Then the Kashmir like feel and riff comes in which ends up being the main riff. Listen to it.
That outro. With the Kashmir riff, the lead break and the whoa, oh chants. Listen to it.
And when the song ends, listen to it again.
“Ten Speed (of God’s Blood & Burial)”
It’s a major key rock song with a funky bass groove. Songs like these keep popping up on their albums and most reviewers call em EMO songs, which never made sense to me. They are just great rock songs.
“Crossing the Frame”
It continues the major key pop rock vibe of “Ten Speed”.
“Apollo I: The Writing Writer”
After some synths, the riff which kicks off the song is excellent, based on palm muted arpeggios and single notes, with a progressive bass groove.
And the major key Chorus, so catchy and poppy.
The song moves between these progressive verses and poppy choruses, never losing my interest.
“Once Upon Your Dead Body”
The song continues some of those major key pop vibes from earlier songs.
At 12.2 million streams on Spotify, the song is another star from the album.
It’s a ballad, but with no cliches. And seriously the hook is around the words “Kill anyone for you“.
Take that, pop singles with 15 writers.
“The Suffering” is the next high point after “Welcome Home” and at 22 million Spotify streams, it’s also one of the big songs from the album.
The most catchiest, especially the vocal line, “listen well, will you marry me and are you well in the suffering” which sounds like the hook from Three Evils’s, “pull the trigger and the nightmare stops“.
And we like it.
“The Lying Lies & Dirty Secrets of Miss Erica Court”
Nothing really connected with me on this one.
“Mother May I”
It’s probably the best Police song written in the 2000’s, that Sting, Copeland and Summers didn’t write.
The final 4 songs are part of a suite called “The Willing Well”.
“The Willing Well I: Fuel for the Feeding End”
Not one of their best.
“The Willing Well II: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness”
At the 3.15 mark there is this section with whoa oh oh backing vocals that reminds me of Maiden. Musically it’s got all these other little Maiden sections.
“The Willing Well III: Apollo II: The Telling Truth”
The guitar and bass both play unique progressions and it works so good together, all held tight by the unorthodox drumming of Josh Eppard.
“The Willing Well IV: The Final Cut”
“The Final Cut” closes it nicely, more slower, doomy even. There’s a church organ in the background and the guitars sound like they came from the 70s.
And that wah drenched solo needs to be heard. After it goes into a Gilmour like clean tone solo, which again needs to be heard.
Vocally Sanchez is in the zone.
Press repeat on this one as well.
And now for the story, if you’re interested. Plot spoiler warning.
It takes place in the real world of “The Writer”, the person writing the story and it mixes up the reality of The Writer with the fictional story and I’m not a fan of stories that are written like this.
But in the process of the two stories being told, the sci-fi story progresses as the mental health of The Writer regresses. And I will do my best to summarise what it’s all about.
So from the story point of view, Claudio works out that the Keywork is powered by the energy of enslaved souls who want to be set free, and the only way to free them is by destroying Heaven’s Fence.
From The Writer’s point of view, he wants to do bad things to his cheating ex, Erica Court and his mental health deteriorates even further.
Back to the story, a rebel strike team has disabled a generator on a planet, which allows a rebel spaceship to land.
Claudio realises he’s “The Crowing” which is sort of like “The Chosen One” to bring peace to the galaxy.
But the bad guys in the story, Wilhelm (aka The Emperor) and his General (aka Darth Vader) have a trap waiting.
Back to The Writer, he has become like Caligula, and is now talking to his bike called “Ten Speed” (Caligula spoke to his horse and made the horse a Senator). Ten Speed tells the Writer not to murder his ex, but to exact his vengeance metaphorically by killing Ambellina, who represents Erica’s good side in the story, and is the love interest for Claudio, which will in turn cause Claudio to accept his destiny as the Crowing and destroy the Keywork.
Back to the story, Claudio and Ambellina arrive at a meeting place, the Willing Well, in which they can see the Writer’s argument with Ten Speed take place.
The Writer eventually uses the Willing Well to pass into his own story. The Writer explains to Claudio he must kill Ambellina for his own peace of mind, so that the story may have an ending. Claudio refuses and The Writer (who has God like powers in his own story) kills Ambellina, and walks off into the distance with his bicycle, Ten Speed, leaving Claudio with the message “all worlds from here must burn,” implying that it is the Crowing’s duty to destroy the Keywork.
And the next album “No World For Tomorrow” is set up.
My blogger pal Deke over at Thunder Bay had a cool Northern Hemisphere Summertime Series between July and August.
Each week, he wrote about albums he spun during the summer.
Well, the real Earth summer is between December, January and February in the Southern Hemisphere.
So the good act that Thunder Bay is, boarded a Qantas plane, landed in Sydney, survived 14 days quarantine in a Sydney hotel and is finally here to present the “Thunder Bay Down Under Summertime Series”.
Vanishing Point are from Melbourne, Australia.
“Dead Elysium” came out in 2020. Six years since they released the excellent “Distant Is The Sun” and during that period they had their setbacks in getting this album done, especially around vocalist Silvio Massaro and his throat infections and respiratory illnesses.
And before “Distant Is The Sun” there was “The Fourth Season” which came out in 2007.
The thing with Vanishing Point is that they write the music that makes them happy. With Silvio Massaro behind the mic and Chris Porcianko on guitars, they act as the mainstays and the main writers within the band, which actually came to my attention in 1997 with their debut album “In Thought”.
And while Massaro was on vocals for the debut, Porcianko wasn’t.
The guitars on the debut were handled by Andrew Whitehead and founder Tom Vucur. Porcianko joined the band after the debut album was done and never left. Vucur left during the writing of “Distant To The Sun”, which meant they had to restart the writing process again as they couldn’t use his riffs.
And in 2020, they dropped “Dead Elysium”.
Guitarist Chris Porcianko doesn’t get the recognition but he is an excellent song writer, and guitarist, creating intricate and syncopated riffs. And the dude can shred and be emotive as well.
The haunting piano kicks off “Dead Elysium” and then that syncopated riff comes in, which reminds me of “The Masterplan” and “A Touch Of Blessing” from Evergrey blended together.
And I was all in.
“Count Your Days” starts off with crunching guitars and an octave lead which gels with the symphonic elements.
Then the singing starts.
The day when I waved goodbye I remember it well
Those momentous days of saying goodbye to someone are engraved in our minds. One chapter ends and a new one begins, for better or worse. And it’s hard to say goodbye to something, because of fear. The fear of the unknown, the fear of other people’s opinions or the sadness that comes with saying goodbye.
Once the Chorus kicks in, it takes the track into AOR territory.
I took a look inside and I felt the great divide In a world I fear that’s giving in to lies
The world was always giving in to lies. People believe what they read from the various newspapers and books. Reading critically is not easy, because it means you need to take another opposing view in mind, plus invest time to read widely. And people don’t want to take in a view that opposes their current beliefs.
And that melodic harmony lead break in the Outro.
How good is it?
The emotions it evokes, just makes me press repeat.
On YouTube, the video clip its shortened, so make sure you get the 6 minute plus version, so you can hear this lead break repeated endlessly before it fades out.
“Salvus” has this major key vibe in the intro, which hooks me in.
A few distorted chords, the orchestral synths and then a guitar lead.
Just before the minute mark, it all becomes quiet, just a vocal melody and some choir synths.
Staring at the edge Reaching out to the world Feels like I’m alone
The way this section comes in, I felt like I was alone, at the edge of the world. The movie “City Of Angels” comes to mind, how the character played by Nicholas Cage, stands at the beach, at sunrise, listening to some choral symphony being played in the atmosphere.
Then the drums and bass come in, no guitar as yet, because when they do come in again at the 1.38 mark for the pre-chorus, they are effective.
You don’t have to change the world I will keep you safe
With all that is happening in the world, it’s hard to even feel safe.
Bring our dark to light
While the title track could have come from an Evergrey album, it’s tracks like “The Fall”, which provide the variation.
Just listen to the Chorus.
I should of seen the signs
Foresight is a wonderful thing but in real time we aren’t the best at seeing the subtle signs.
I can make believe or I can take the fall
How I would love to escape sometimes instead of facing reality.
Throughout my life I’ve been knocked on my arse so many times by people and by society in general, that once I’ve fallen the only way up, is to stand again.
Sometimes with broken bones.
I won’t give up, give in
It’s repeated in the outro, like a mantra, a new awakening and a new awareness.
For single song releases, Rise Against dropped “Broken Dreams, Inc.”.
They contributed the song to the “Dark Nights: Death Metal” Soundtrack, DC’s new Batman comic-book series. Another creative way to release songs with comic book culture.
The song deals with levelling the playing field for everyone to have a chance at achieving the American dream.
When we owe more than we’re worth And they’re changing the locks on the doors
The banking industry got wealthy from selling debt.
How’s that for a career?
When the factories are automated Broken dreams incorporated
Stryper released the Metal with “Even The Devil Believes”. Michael Sweet works hard, writing and recording new music via his many different projects but the project which is his bread and butter is Stryper.
It’s a return to their “Soldiers Under Command” sound from the 80’s and it showcases the influence of Judas Priest to their music.
Seether released “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum”. The title translates from Latin to, ‘If you want peace, prepare for war’.
Bad Juju from Melbourne, Australia released the excellent “You’re Not Alone” album.
Landfall from Brazil is a melodic rock band signed to Frontiers and this album was a big surprise. It brings back that feel-good 80’s vibe with the window down, driving 100km on the highway and the wind licking my face on my way to the city with hopes and dreams.
10 Years released “Violent Allies”, produced by Howard Benson.
Benson also produced the “Feeding The Wolves” album back in 2010. That album is a favourite of mine, but there is a portion of the fanbase that hates what Benson’s generic pop production did to 10 Years. But that’s the production I like.
And the album which reigned supreme for me in September is “Dead Elysium” from Vanishing Point.