The Quireboys—This is Rock ‘n’ Roll (2001)

The Quireboys—This is Rock 'n' Roll (2001)

The Quireboys—This is Rock ‘n’ Roll (2001)

Details

Produced by The Quireboys and C J Eiriksson for Quireboys Productions. Engineered and mixed by C J Eiriksson. Recorded at EMG Studio, North Hollywood, California. Mixed at EMG Studio and 4th Street Recordings, Santa Monica, California. Mastered by Stephen Marcusson at Marcusson Mastering, Los Angeles, California.

Band

  • Spike (aka Jonathan Gray)—Vocals
  • Guy Griffin—Guitar
  • Luke Bonssendorfer—Guitar
  • Nigel Moog—Bass
  • Martin Henderson—Drums and percussion

Tracks

  1. This is rock ‘n’ roll
  2. Show me what you got
  3. Searching
  4. Six degrees
  5. C’mon
  6. Seven days
  7. Taken for a ride
  8. Coldharbour lane
  9. Turn away
  10. To be
  11. Enough for one lifetime
  12. It’s alright
  13. Never let me go

Review

The Quireboys were never a band that I listened to when I was younger. Their debut album A Bit of What You Fancy (1990) was released during my first year at university when I was heavily into thrash and getting into many of the early bands that laid the grounds for a lot of the music I listen to now: Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, etc.

Judging by this, The Quireboys’ fourth studio album, they sound to me very much to be the UK’s equivalent of America’s The Black Crowes but sung by Rod Stewart. And to be honest, that kind of rocky, gravelly voice, while it sells well, isn’t really something that I personally enjoy.

The songs are well written, the musicianship seems solid… I’m just not a fan. I wasn’t then, and I’m not now having given them a good go. I find Rod Stewart’s voice particularly annoying and I’m sorry to say that I can’t hear much beyond Spike’s voice on this release.

Conclusion

I know there are people who love this style of music, who love Spike’s voice. I love The Black Crowes, so the blues rock style is definitely on my radar. But this just isn’t for me, sorry. I did try. Again.

Review score: 50%

Koreisch—This decaying schizophrenic Christ complex (1999)

Koreisch—This decaying schizophrenic Christ complex (1999)

Koreisch—This decaying schizophrenic Christ complex (1999)

Details

Recorded in the year of your Lord MCMXCIX [1999] in Sheffield, north England. Calculated Risk products. Catalogue number: Risk #3.

Band

  • Koreisch — Lyrics, music, noise, tape hiss, backward programming, experimentation and improvisation

Tracks

  1. Justification by faith
  2. Forced attrition
  3. Submerged Tao fixation
  4. A premonition of life’s erosion
  5. 1 inch stab wound
  6. Caress this violation
  7. Eclectic powder burn
  8. Preordained incarceration
  9. The Kevorkian solution
  10. Evolution through pessimism
  11. Archaicathodemission
  12. 4,000 years of suppressed dissection
  13. Bleed like Christ
  14. The eating of food sacrificed to idols

Review

Encyclopaedia Metallum classifies Koreisch as “doom metal/grindcore”. But not in the traditional sense are they. While this album contains elements that lean in the direction of doom and grindcore, it is predominantly an experimental album.

I think I have only one other CD in my collection that comes close to the experimentation that permeates this release and that’s Faith No More / Fantômas / Tomahawk front man Mike Patton’s 1996 album Adult themes for voice.

My four year old, Isaac describes the music as “naughty music”. He said while cowering in the corner of the room, through hands protecting his face. “Put it off! It’s horrible!” he exclaimed.

To be fair, I did play him perhaps one of the creepiest tracks on the album “The Kervokian solution” which sounds like a series of Jurassic Park dinosaurs break through a plate glass window while a motorbike purrs in the background, only to discover themselves in a choir rehearsal.

The album is a hotchpotch of noise, hiss, screams and shouting, blasts and riffs. It’s more art than music, at times it feels like it’s almost verging on therapy.

Conclusion

The compact disc itself has a white label with a black ink scribble. This seems to be also a perfect analogy for the music it contains.

It’s certainly not an easy listen, and as much as I appreciate what they’ve done I’m not sure I would choose to listen to this terribly often.

Review score: 50%

 

Immortal Sense—Call it Anything (2010)

Immortal Sense—Call it Anything (2010)

Immortal Sense—Call it Anything (2010)

Details

In their home country of Japan the band are know as Enema but are promoted as Immortal Sense internationally.

Produced by Immortal Sense. Recorded at Yellow Knife Studios. Mixed by Takeshi Amada. Mastered by Yoshio Miyamoto. Released on Rising Records, 2010.

Band

The album sleeve notes are in Japanese, so according to Last.fm this is the line-up. Apologies if it’s wrong.

  • Katsuya Nakaoka — Vocals
  • Masatoshi Kurosawa — Guitar
  • Michiaki Ueno — Guitar
  • Taisei Mikame — Bass
  • Tomoyuki Yamaguchi — Drums

Tracks

  1. Boukoku no Sanbika (亡国の賛美歌)
  2. Immortal sense
  3. Self projection
  4. Dual
  5. Loop
  6. Low down
  7. Soutai no Rensa (相対の連鎖)
  8. Sepenbanka (千変挽歌)
  9. War to myself
  10. Requiem for doom

Review

You know how Iron Maiden’s The Final Frontier (2010) opens with “Satellite 15… the final frontier” which sounds absolutely nothing like the rest of the album? Well, that’s what this album is like.

Opening track “Boukoku no Sanbika” (亡国の賛美歌) is a 9 minutes 49 seconds epic that opens with a gentle exercise in arpeggios and delay. Brian May hasn’t gone unnoticed in the land of the rising sun. The song might have an almost indie feel to it, if it wasn’t already overflowing with elements of progressive and death metal. In my opinion it is by far the best song on the album. More of that please.

The rest of the album is a cheerful jaunt through various extreme metal and NWOBHM influences. The guitar tone is splendid: warm valve amps pushed to overdrive. It would be interesting to hear the songs sung rather than gruffly half-shouted. This could be a whole different beast with a Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) or Kai Hansen (Helloween).

Conclusion

To my ears, and taste, the vocals let this album down. The songs deserve more than being coughed through. But there you have it: it’s their band and not mine.

I’ll be satisfied with the opening track and leave it at that. I’d give that track an imaginative 85%. The rest of the album will have to make do with as less shiny:

Review score: 50%

Haken—Aquarius (2010)

Haken—Aquarius (2010)

Haken—Aquarius (2010)

Details

Music by Richard Henshall, lyrics by Ross Jennings, arrangements by Haken. Drums recorded at Monster Trax Studios by Misha Nikolic. Additional instruments recorded at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama by Loz Anslow. Mixed by Christian Moos at Spacelab Studios. Mastered by Eroc at Eroc’s Mastering Ranch. Artwork and design by Dennis Sibeijn.

Band

  • Richard Henshall—Guitar, keyboards
  • Diego Tejeida—Keyboards
  • Thomas MacLean—Bass
  • Charles Griffiths—Guitar
  • Ross Jennings—Vocals
  • Raymond Hearne—Drums

Tracks

  1. The point of no return
  2. Streams
  3. Aquarium
  4. Eternal rain
  5. Drowning in the flood
  6. Sun
  7. Celestial elixir

Review

I don’t usually read reviews of albums that I’m listening to for this project. But after my first listen through to this album by UK prog-meisters Haken I really wanted to know what others made of it. It seems that people either love it or hate:

Contrast this review:

“The greatest debut album I may have ever heard, Aquarius by Haken would be one of the greatest releases of the year standing alone. Taken in context, it is one of the most promising releases I have heard in an incredibly long time.”

Sputnik Music

with this one:

“Some asshole took a fat shit in my aquarium […] any point on this album is a perfect time to stop listening […] Aquarius is not an album worth anyone’s sweet time. It’s a piece of shit that’s just as pretentious as it is bloated.

Encyclopedia Metallum

And actually that was one of the more positive reviews. Wilytank there gave it a generous 18%. Another reviewer, Empyreal, gave the album 0%. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. I’ve never seen an album score 0 before. He summed up the review with “disgusting and deceitful” describing the music as

“fluffed up, prissy progressive rock in the Yes/Gentle Giant style with bloops and bleeps and little keyboard noises everywhere beyond a heavy layer of orchestrations and the God-awful vocals, which I’ll get back to later.”

Encyclopedia Metallum

I didn’t find any reviews which said it was alright. A gap in the review market, I feel. So here goes.

Let’s just get one thing out of the way first: this isn’t a metal album. A few heavy riffs a metal band does not make. It’s definitely prog rock. It reminds me in part of Dream Theater at their most pretentious and self-indulgent. It reminds me of Steve Vai… at his most pretentious and self-indulgent. It has elements of… well, any virtuoso musician at their… well, you can probably guess by now.

I quite liked it to be honest. Not on my first listen through, mind you, but as I became familiar with the songs they grew on me, for the most part. There are some songs which I still cringe at while listening to it.

Take the opening track “The point of no return”, for example, which at 6’03” takes a left turn into some kind of 2/4 circus-cum-seaside theme tune. What was that all about?! I’m into a lot of experimental music but that just seems unnecessarily indulgent and to my ear doesn’t really add anything to the song.

The final track, “Celestial elixir”, is another example. All of a sudden it morphs into some kind of 1920s Charleston-like song. As though someone accidentally changed the TV channel for a moment.

It’s annoying! It’s like you’re watching the latest Judge Dredd movie when all of a sudden Mr Darcy suddenly walks into the scene. No! Just don’t do it.

The quality of playing is exceptional, the mix is smooth and well balanced. But it didn’t really set me on fire. It became background music very quickly for me: pleasant enough but nothing really to pay too much attention to.

You know what it reminds me of? The soundtrack to a made-for-TV American movie. I am sitting here listening to track five, “Drowning in the flood” and can imagine the credits rolling up the screen at this point.

Conclusion

Parts of the album was recorded at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama—it sounds like an album for musos who enjoy their progressive rock pretentiously morphing in and out of genres and providing a beautifully played soundtrack to the next 73 minutes.

Yeah… it was alright.

Review score: 50%

Video

Here’s the whole album kindly uploaded to YouTube by someone who doesn’t understand copyright law.