Reviews roundup – Last Autumn’s Dream vs. Kouzin Bedlam cs. Premortal Breath vs. Mercury X vs. The Mercy Alliance
LAST AUTUMN’S DREAM
Off to Sweden now for the eleventh (natch) album from Last Autumn’s Dream, who were formed in 2002 by vocalist and keyboardist Mikael Erlandsson guitarist Andy Malecek from Fair Warning, who linked up with bassist John Levén, drummer Ian Haugland and keyboardist Mic Michaeli, from the the band Europe.
These days it’s only Mikael Erlandsson who is flying the flag since the departure last year of long term collaborator Andy Malecek, but he’s never strayed from his melodic rock style and this is another good one. It’s got a harder edge than a lot of it’s competitors, but you’re never too far from a good melody or a big chorus, so it’s still very definitely big AOR on songs like ‘Go, Go, Go’, ‘Delirious’ and the best of the power ballads, ‘Made Of Stone’.
Erlandsson is a really strong vocalist, and it’s a shame he’s not better known, but at least some of us have the pleasure of listening. To be fair, if you’ve got the ten previous albums, there’s nothing here you haven’t heard before, but that doesn’t stop it being a great album, and one that AOR fans and Scandi rock fans should be snapping up sharpish.
Longing For The Incomplete
From Sweden to Finland for some prog metal, and the debut album from Kouzin Bedlam.
They’ve been on the go since 2008, so they’ve had plenty of time to prepare of this. Just so you can prepare yourselves, here’s what the band say. “Kouzin Bedlam is not just a band; it is a philosophy, it is a family; it is psychology and spirituality expressed in a musical extravaganza with surprising depths. C.G. Jung uncovered the archetypes dwelling in our collective unconscious. Our image of a great mother, the devil, God, the trickster and the hero all sit deep inside our minds. And then there is Kouzin Bedlam – the unknown twin, the uncivilized ”I”, we all try to ignore.”
So, wow. And you won’t be surprised to learn that there is a great deal of widdle involved in this album. But, along, with some mighty powerful riffs, you can almost forget what was said above, and lose yourself in their complex world. There’s some power metal in their mix as well, so when you get hit over the head with ‘Psychonaut’ or ‘Shadows In The Dark’, it can be fairly brutal.
As a debut, it does its job, and fans of bands like Pain Of Salvation could find a happy home here.
And they look like such nice boys. But the oddly named Premortal Breath are nothing of the sort, as they take some eighties thrash and some modern metal, and set out to kick your ass.
In fact, if it wasn’t for the fact that I was so old, my arse may well have been theirs, but I predate thrash metal, so can take it hard. There’s is definitely rooted in the Bay Area sound, but the Mannheim, Germany outfit, have enough tricks of their own to make for a good listen.
Frankly, there is no need for ‘Fuck My Brain’, but when they clobber you with ‘Pain’ and, wait for it, Priest fans, ‘Pleasure’, then it’s a proper metal thrashing mad offering. The end up with one of the album highlights, the very unpleasant sounding ‘Bloody Baby Shower’, which is almost prog metal in places. Lamb Of God fans should check this out.
And it’s back to the world of prog metal with Martin Björklund, Jonas Vedin, Alfonso Flores and Denis Diaz aka Mercury X.
And it’s an interesting one, with their conflicting musical backgrounds making for some confusing and conflicting moments. With Martin having been a student of violin and folk music, Denis studying classical percussion, and Alfonso rooted in rock, they’ve brought a lot of different influences to the show.
When it works, as it does on ‘Falling’, ‘I’m Ready’ and a couple of others, then you can sense that they have the talent to move onto bigger things. But it’s a crowded world out there in ProgMetaLand, so they’ll need to up their game if they want to play with the big boys.
THE MERCY ALLIANCE
Some Kind Of Beautiful Story
Beverly Martel Music
And after a fairly metal day, we’ll sign off with The Mercy Alliance, a US indie rock band.
It’s actually the seventhish album by singer / songwriter Joe Rathbone, with the preceeding “Waking Up the Sun” billed to The Mercy Alliance featuring Joe Rathbone, but the name stands alone now, and whereas that record had guitar work by the late Steve Bishop, who worked with the equally late Ronnie Montrose, drumming by ex Counting Crow Steve Bowman, bass from John Kessler who started as a member of the original Mountain Stage band and producer David Henry (Josh Rouse, Kelly Joe Phelps, Jars of Clay etc), this sees a returning Steve Bowman alonside bassist Brad Jones.
I assume that’s not the noted jazz man, as this is very much eighties college rock, with the likes of REM and their ilk writ large. And that’s before they got famous, so there is a degree of shoe gazing going on, although apparently that’s back in style, despite the best efforts of people who know better. I mean, Christ on a bike, Ride have reformed!
So, this may be the sound of now, even if it is about 30 years out of date. Sometimes, they get a bit more up to date, and go for an Editors type thing, but wherever they are, it’s so NME, it hurts. I did like ‘All For The Love Of You’, but that may be due to the waterboarding I’d endured elsewhere.