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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Thursday....


Ken Bonfield - "American Baroque: Steel String Surprise"

ba•roque(adj.)- use of complex forms, bold ornamentation, and the juxtaposition of contrasting elements often conveying a sense of drama, movement, and tension.

I do not like to use the whole definition because I don’t feel that the baroque period ended in the 17th century nor do I feel that Ken Bonfield’s music is characterized by grotesqueness in any sense of the word. Hell, I could cut that definition down even more when I try to explain Ken’s style because it’s not all drama, movement and tension. Actually, uplifting and soulful would be two great words to add. But I do feel that the title American Baroque: Steel String Suprise not only provides an insight to this genre but also the work that is presented on this CD, an offering of songs and versions of pre-released songs that might have not seen the light of day if he decided to dock his “Ship” at port for good.

With the presentation of a record deal from Loud Dust Recordings at the right time in the retrospect of his accomplishments, we have a CD that is full of tunes that represent a span of seven years, tunes that will not only move you but show his ability to stay “organic” in this modern world. This CD, which will be released later this summer, has 17 tracks, 4 solo pieces- close to an hour of music, and includes a new solo rendtion of "Steel String Surprise" that was recorded at Thomas Eaton's studio in Newburyport, MA. The album also features live, in-studio recordings with Joe Ebel, Michael Manring, and Ty Burhoe.

The CD opens with “Renaissance," which is a perfect example of Ken’s signature style, sound and his God-given talent. It’s a great introduction and prepares the listener for a beautiful journey into the real Americana that isn’t defined by fashion or trends. Before you know it, you reach track eight aptly titled “Floating” and rightly so because it is definitely an audio translation of such an event. With such an entrancing string section and Michael Manring on bass, it is almost upsetting that this song is only 3 minutes long (more like 2:33) but fortunately for you listeners, the next track is one of my all-time favorites and is a stunning piece of work. Actually, I prefer the version from his album Homecoming but this version is amazing and is way more involved. I’m surprised no one has asked to use it in a movie.

Anyways, speaking of movies there are two tracks on this CD which will catch you off guard. “Angela’s Ashes” which is influenced from the novel but was a great movie and “Centerline” which is inspired by a scene from Pulp Fiction. Yup, Pulp Fiction and again, my favorite version of this song was released on Homecoming. “Angela’s Ashes” is a soft tune that reflects struggle and is, truly, the first depressing song I have heard from Mr. Bonfield but it is refreshing and shows the depth and progress that he has made as an artist of the guitar. “Centerline” is a wonderful track full of invigorating movements that creates the foundation for some beautiful duets and some really nice solos. Honestly, I think this song far exceeds in brilliance than any content from the movie Pulp Fiction but that’s my opinion and I like Pulp Fiction. So, No offense, Mr. Tarantino…ok?

It’s always with CDs like these that they are over before you had time to listen. So, the album ends with track seventeen, “Dancing with Shadows” which is a brilliant emotional closing to this journey. This song exudes such grace and brings about wonderment. The music makes you think about life, love and hope. It encompasses passion, touches the soul and rejuvenates the heart and mind.

It’s hard for me to do any justice to the brilliant musicianship and in-depth songwriting by using mere words. But I will say this: these songs are a compilation of “lost” tracks, to me they are a well-rounded overview of Ken Bonfield’s career up to this point. Let us hope, with the penning of that new deal with Loud Dust Recordings, we will be graced with some new works soon.

www.kenbonfield.com
www.louddust.com

Monday, July 10, 2006

Monday....


Tommy Emmanuel - "Live at Her Majesty's Theatre"

What can one say to explain in vivid detail what you would see watching Tommy Emmanuel perform live in concert? Well, having the wonderful opportunity to view Live at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Ballarat Australia — Emmanuel’s latest DVD to be released on July 11 — I can say that he is a lively character who wears his passion on his sleeve.

The playlist for this concert provides an ample overview of his finest songs, including material from Endless Road and some new tracks from his upcoming CD, Mystery. In between songs, Tommy discusses his music as well as his life, which makes for an intimate setting. While his work is proof that he is a virtuoso with the ability to fuse a plethora of styles into his compositions, he showcases that talent with the greatest of ease all the while having some serious fun. Favored Nations Acoustic, which is co-owned by Mr. Steve Vai, did a wonderful job capturing that essence for the cover of this DVD. This show was recorded in November of 2005 at Her Majesty’s Theatre — which has been in continuous use since 1875 — because of its precise acoustics, which they take advantage of to fully utilize the 5.1 DTS Surround Sound Audio. The Director, Mark Bayly, used multiple cameras and presents the footage in the Widescreen Format so you feel like you are actually there. The menus have a nice design to them, aren't overloaded with demanding graphics and include some audio clips to entice the viewer. The DVD also includes some extras but you will have to purchase this fine product in order to find out what they are. The high point on this DVD for me is when Emmanuel plays “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. Now, as a bonafide Metal Head who dabbles in folk, jazz, classical and other timeless genres, I thought I already heard the only justice that could’ve been done to this song outside the original. That was the version done by Mr. Chris Impellitteri on the impeccable Stand in Line CD. Granted, there was no singing, but I have to mention that Graham Bonnet (of Rainbow fame) did vocals for that CD including a remake of “Since You’ve Been Gone”.

Anyway, Tommy Emmanuel’s interpretation is absolutely beautiful! His harp-style harmonics are phenomenal and I truly feel that this version could be used in any remake of The Wizard of Oz. Overall, this DVD is quite the chronicle of great songs for those who have been loyal fans and for those who have just learned of this brilliant musician.

But moreover, who could say it any better than the man himself? “I think it showcases my entire musical life; you really get to see my different influences coming together quite nicely. And, being back in Australia made for a truly inspired evening.”

Be sure to check out: www.tommyemmanuel.com for the latest news, tour dates and a complete discography.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Friday....


CD Review: Will Ackerman - Pure Will Ackerman

A CD, A rich body of work spanning at least a decade, An auditory glimpse into the world of a master musician who pioneered an outlet and discovered such talents as George Winston, Michael Hedges and Michael Manring with his label Windham Hill Records. “Pure Will Ackerman” is the palette of emotion and musicianship that will add color to your music collection. Its timeless beauty is a rare find in genres other than Classical and Jazz.


Yet, this release is inspired by those elements. Yet, this thoughtfully organized compilation aspires above those elements with such tracks like “Driving”, “Climbing in Geometry” and “Ventana”. There are moments on this album where you will feel like you are listening to the soundtrack of life, exuberant and soulful are the passages. Organic spirituality can be felt on tracks like “Walk with Me” and “Briars above the Well” but do not mistaken Mr. Ackerman’s vision as New Age. These songs don’t speak of a better life or of a different world. They speak to you about this life, this world. There is beauty in the Here and Now. These aspects come from the varying influences of Folk and other worldly music which lends the strength and compassion to each of these songs so that they are human. Not to mention the solo pieces like “Processional” and “The Bricklayer’s Beautiful Daughter” which highlight these human moments and showcase Mr. Ackerman’s ability to soar through a song on his own.


While the liner notes and track listing show “Murray’s Song” as a bonus track, and I can agree because it hasn’t been released before, “Hawk Circle” is a poignant masterpiece indulging us with the intimate chemistry of George Winston, Michael Hedges and Will Ackerman. Unfortunately, the passing of Mr. Hedges leaves me yearning at what an album dedicated to this trio would sound like. If you don’t let the CD progress to the bonus track, “Hawk Circle” makes for a powerful ending. An ending to an audio journey that leaves you gracious and at a better understanding of what “Pure” really is.


Though this CD maybe an accurate archive of Will Ackerman’s talent on the acoustic guitar, it is also a testament to his songwriting skills and the ability to incorporate such talented musicians while letting them shine.

Mr. Ackerman completely sold off Windham Hill in 1996 to live in Windham County, Vermont where he still works on music and building. He will even perform a “House Concert” in an intimate setting if you contact him. For more information and to experience a nicely designed website, visit:

http://www.williamackerman.com

Monday, June 19, 2006

Monday....

What a weekend!! The World Cup playoffs have been exciting.... Wait, Do I really give a shit about Soccer? NO!!! Fuck that shit!!

On to some real news......

Defiance,one of the biggest underground thrash influences from The Bay Area, is releasing a new album and DVD this year but it looks like it will be closer to Christmas.

*excerpt form their Myspace page:"In March of 2006, Defiance signed with Corporate Punishment Records. They are currently working towards completing a full length CD and DVD, with the addition of Mark Hernandez on drums, replacing James Raymond."

The current line up is:
Doug Harrington - Guitars
Jim Adams - Guitars
Steev Esquivel - Vocals
Mike Kaufmann - Bass
Mark Hernandez (Vio-lence,Torque)- Drums

*Official reaction from Ascension: "CAN'T FUCKING WAIT!!!"

Non-published and hard-to-find,"Void Terra Firma" & "Beyond Recognition" are available for free download(Mp3 @ 214kbps) from their website (http://www.defiance1.com/home.html)
Thank You Guys... (FUCK YOU RIAA)
*S U P P O R T_ T H I S_ B A N D*



Displeased Records (http://www.displeasedrecords.com/) is in the works of re-releasing one of the most crucial thrash CDs in Metal History.... That's right, ATROPHY - Socialized Hate. They are also releasing "Violent by Nature" but I was never a huge fan of that release (No Offense guys) Their hasn't been any official word about the release date but I am gonna keep checking their website and I am also gonna contact them via email..... I'll keep ya posted!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Wednesday....

*!HOLY SHIT!* Almost a whole year since I bothered to do any kind of a write up on my own Blog. Well, since my last post, I have been caught up in a ton of "real" life shit. (Who doesn't?)

Music is still the fore front in my mind and it's always present in my ramblings(reviews) on Blogcritics.org. Ofcourse, I still love downloading almost all the media I can get my hands on and thanks to the Bittorrent community, I sometimes get my hands on shite that hasn't even been released yet. I know... I'm a fucking criminal! Well, who isn't? Fuck, Puff Daddy..P-Diddy...Pee,Did He?...Started it! No one is any more poor because of this technology and most of the times if the stuff is worth it, I'll run out an buy it.

Anyways, the Mp3 format (even @ 320Kbps) or the so-called FLAC lossless format sucks if you truly love music. I mean it's alright if you pump that shite through your iPod/Rio/RadioShack,etc.. but as soon as you bless your home system with it then you hear the injustice!! For all you computer nerds, when I say home system I don't mean the Labtec 5.1,No highs-No Lows-it must be Bose shitty computer speaker setup that you blew most of your Circuit City paycheck on. So, for us Music enthusiasts we will pay the 11-16 bucks on the crap we really like, Don't worry Ms.Spears, no one will ruin your kingdumb!! FUCKERS!!

Well, here's a rundown of the current music/audio orgy that has taken over my Mp3 player:
IronChrist - Getting the Most out of your Extiction(Nirvana who?)
ARSIS - A Diamond for Disease
SYL- The New Black
Necrophagist - Epitaph
Neuraxis - Trilateral Progression
Spiritual Architect - A Sceptics Universe
Death - Symbolic(Fucking Classic!)
Mr. Bungle - Travolta(?)-Self titled(?)
Ken Bonfield - Some new work that isn't even mastered yet!! (Thanks Ken!!)
Note: I will be doing an extensive write up on his material and possibly an interview with him as well. If ya want to hear what folk music is like without folk influences, check Mr. Bonfield out!

Recent & Not so recent Movies that are worth seeing(?):

16 Blocks
Metal-A Headbangers Journey
Chicken Little
Serenity
Derailed
Cyber War(not to bad)
GodThumb,Thumbwars(Fucking Brilliance packed into 60mins.)
Karas
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence


That's all for today!!

Asta Lasagna, Dontgetanyonya....*psst*.... FUCKERS!!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Thursday....


Neuraxis - "Trilateral Progression"

As with any Technical Death Metal band, one can always make reference back to the pioneering work that bands like Atheist, Death, and Cynic unleashed on the Metal community. These bands focused on multiple influences, including Jazz and Progressive Metal, to bring forth a new sound for the Death Metal genre. Believe me, few bands have “pulled it off” the way the
aforementioned bands have done to the extent they are actually acknowledged in Metal history. Granted those bands are the forefathers of Death Metal, I have thoroughly enjoyed the Death Metal scene, especially from Canada, since Death’s last release.

Neuraxis, from Canada (who could’ve guessed, right?), comes right along after three previous works to enlighten the world with their technical masterpiece,"Trilateral Progression", which was released in 2005. Granted, I can’t say that they surpassed such acts like Kataklysm, Cryptopsy, or Quo Vadis in the brutal sense, but they have incorporated those crucial influences with such an addicting melody that once you listen to the whole CD, you will go back for more.
Ian Campbell is one of the few vocalists in this genre who has a truly unique sound and often reminds me of a US pioneer by the name Billy Milano of S.O.D. fame. But, Mr. Campbell can reach such impressive lows that I want to check for effects pedals if and when I get to see them live. (Just Kidding)
This album is amazing from start to finish and never lets up. The songs don’t come across as negative in the sense of “Death” metal. They are quite upbeat and sustain a theme about the systems of mankind, intelligence, and a quest for moral achievement. Though, these are just my interpretations after pondering the lyrics to the 10 tracks of blistering blast beats and furious riffing that would lead many to think otherwise.
Actually, if you never read the lyrics you would miss out on the Shuldiner-esque style of deep thought that utilizes the dictionary far beyond what your average stereotypical “Metal head” could understand. Thus, the term “Forward.Thinking.Metal” comes to mind and that is why the label the band is signed to has it as their motto.
Which leads me to the technical precision of this album, because fine musicianship awakes the thinking process and makes you want to submerse yourself deeper into the realm of all that is Neuraxis. You have Robin Milley (guitar),Yan Thiel (bass) and Tommy McKinnon (drums); upon the second track which is understandably titled “Clarity” these guys make you realize their motive is clear.
To create a wave of audio annihilation with accurate timing that penetrates your ears and cues you in on what kind of force there is to be reckoned with. With moments that roll in right around the 4:00 mark on songs like “Shatter the Wisdom,” you realize these guys are a powerhouse and can explode with the greatest of ease even after you think it’s going to end.
The strong points on the album are the two songs I mentioned, which you can download from either the band’s website or the record label’s website. As for the third track, “A Curative Struggle”, you will have to purchase the album to hear it. It is totally unrelenting and once again showcases the band’s ability to lay down a massive audio attack.
This is one CD I highly suggest you add to your collection as the band will probably be perceived, in due time, as pioneers of the Death Metal scene in this decade.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Wednesday.....

S.Y.L. - "The New Black"

Strapping Young Lad didn't need a four-year hiatus to re-introduce themselves to the Metal World. Actually, it hasn't even been a year since their release of one of the most amazing and crucial CDs to own in The Metal Universe, so aptly titled ALIEN. (This is something you could be called if you don’t own that one by now.) On July 11th 2006, The Lads launch their audio assault once again. It's entitled The New Black, but this time it’s deemed "a stunningly well-defined and more diverse effort that is soon to be a landmark in the epic pantheon of Heavy Metal." Ha! We’ll soon see about that!
One could ask, as I have, “What does the album title mean?” Well, for a metal enthusiast like myself, I automatically think of The Black Album from Metallica. Considering that Metallica changed their sound drastically with the mentality of turning over a new leaf, which in turn led them to major success, that album was easier to listen to and probably more accessible, though I thought it sucked. So, with that being said, I feel that this album is a turn towards accessibility and a shot at getting noticed on a larger scale.
Well, Mr. Metal Enthusiast, what about the CD review? Oops, I almost forgot! I am now done with my speculations about the ulterior motives of a sick band that only deserves to get the cash for the product that they produce and it was fucking quick might I add!!
First off, like most people, I found out about the new album via their website and noticed that they had posted a new song in the MP3 format. That new song is called "You Suck" and it was in true SYL fashion with the full-on audio barrage of Mr. Devin Townsend’s vocal cords and pick, Mr. Gene Hoglan on his favorite Pearl kit, Byron Stroud on bass and Jed Simon on the axe. This happens to be my new favorite song especially with the part of the chorus that rants, "Even your fucking girlfriend sucks,” (group replies) ”Hell yeah, she fucking sucks!”
There are some major strong points on this release where the above quote is within merit, like "Far Beyond Metal", "Hope," and "The New Black," even so that I fudge myself with mere envy at the grooves that these vicious musicians lay down. But, with tracks like "Fucker" and "Monument", I really questioned the direction of this album because those songs, while they are still material that only SYL can produce, are rather weak. Granted I really haven’t sat down and read the lyrics; "Fucker" is a funny tune and sounds like an attack on the Zombie-esque style of metal that made its way into strip joints and music history.
"Monument" pisses me off because the rhythm sounds like a rip-off of a shitty Marilyn Manson track. Other than those two songs, I am pretty happy with the CD and can honestly say that I would love to embrace these works live. And that’s where we come to the worst part for this here Herald.
In support of the new CD, Strapping Young Lad will be performing their might and wisdom on the second stage at Ozzfest. (Author’s Note:*UUUGGHHH* I mean, COME ON!! This is the epitome of all shitty power/nu-metal shows and for a band like SYL to even acknowledge this atrocity is Blasphemy. This could be viewed as an act of audio subterfuge and can only bring to light their ulterior motive which is to make the transition from Heavy Metal Gods to Mainstream Peasants!!)
You can check out the new MP3 as well as tour dates and other linger-ficken' good stuff at (yup,you guessed it!) the group's website.