Odds and Ends – May 6, 2019

TEE odds and ends logo

Odds and Ends is a segment where I do brief reviews of albums I either didn’t prioritize for longer-form reviews, or ones for which I don’t have that much to say.

boltBand: Boltzmann Brain | Album: Spacesquid Brain | Genre: Krautrock, Noise rock | Bandcamp

I wanted to like this album a lot more than I did, largely because of its super-cool album art. However, the dissonance is simply too much for me on this release, and the songs often feel unfocused and meandering. If the band were to tone down some of the more shrieking noises, this would be enjoyable, jammy krautrock. I’m sure the dissonance is intentional, but it more often than not comes off as amateurish, rather than daring and deliberate.

Score: 51/100

yoreBand: Branch of Yore | Album: Kingdom of the First Time | Genre: Progressive rock | Bandcamp

This is a nice, gentle album. Lush synths are the primary instrument on this release, and the vocals are sung delicately and treated with ample reverb. That approach gives this whole release a floating feeling. While I wouldn’t call this album particularly jazzy, many of the keyboard tones are reminiscent of jazz acts. By the end of the album, it does begin to sound a bit same-y, but it’s a nice release overall.

Score: 75/100 Continue reading “Odds and Ends – May 6, 2019”

Album Review: Syrinx – Embrace the Dark – Seek the Light

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Band: Syrinx | Album: Embrace the Dark – Seek the Light | Year: 2019 | Genre: Heavy/Traditional metal, Progressive rock

From: Vancouver, Canada | Label: Church Recordings

For fans of: Queensrÿche, Rush, Fates Warning, Iron Maiden

Buy: BandcampAmazon

Optically, it may be weird to use genre labels including both the words “traditional” and “progressive” to describe the same band. But truth be told, many progressive rock acts do little to progress rock, and traditional metal provides a broad enough template to allow a lot of innovation. Syrinx take their base sound from the realm of bands like Judas Priest and Black Sabbath. But they add the structural complexity and ambition of early prog-metal bands like Queensrÿche alongside aesthetic flashes of some ‘70s prog giants like Yes and Rush. Embrace the Dark – Seek the Light is full of fun and energetic riffs, but there’s a healthy dose of rhythmic weirdness and structural abstractness.

After opening with a short, swirling instrumental, Syrinx dive right into a shining example of their hybrid sound. “Time out of Place” is carried on the back of a tight, anxious riff during the verses, and the chorus features a cascading synth line that could have featured on a classic Rush album. The ensuing “Devil’s Soldier” opens with a soberer tone, but it doesn’t take long to launch into a more aggressive timbre. While one of the less-proggy tracks on the album, it’s engaging, and the vocals, a hoarse semi-shriek, are especially striking. Continue reading “Album Review: Syrinx – Embrace the Dark – Seek the Light”

Album Review: Dream Theater – Distance over Time

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Band: Dream Theater | Album: Distance over Time | Genre: Progressive metal | Year:  2019

From: Long Island, USA | Label: Sony Music

For fans of: You know if you like Dream Theater or not.

Buy: Many options

I must be some sort of masochist. Every other year or so, Dream Theater put out an album, and I self-flagellate by listening to and thoroughly disliking it. The last time Dream Theater put out a good album was in 2004, with Octavarium, and even that was spotty at moments. I’m pretty sure I’m still traumatized from just how bad their last album, 2016’s The Astonishing, was.

Nonetheless, Dream Theater are one of the founders of progressive metal and one of the giants of the contemporary scene. From the early ‘90s into the early ‘00s they put out a string of fantastic records, including two of the most vaunted albums in all of progressive metal. So, it’s with a sense of obligation that I subject myself to every new release from this band, knowing it will likely be uneven and masturbatory to the extreme. Continue reading “Album Review: Dream Theater – Distance over Time”