Reviews roundup – Stahlmann vs. Echotest vs. Descendants of Cain vs. The Reverend Shawn Amos
Blimey! Two industrial metal albums in one week. It must really be a thing over there in the Germanic heartlands.
This time it’s Stahlmann dishing out the beats. They’re more on the electro KMFDM side of things rather than the bludgeoning Rammstein wing and if you like an almighty racket going off in your head then you’ll find this a place of pleasure.
They’ve been on the go for ages and usually end up in the German album charts with their latest outbursts and I see no reason for this not doing the same. Granted I’ve no idea what they’re singing about as my O Grade German didn’t encompass the world of industrial metal. Mainly because it hadn’t been invented way back then. However, Stahlmann do sound very angry about absolutely everything.
AS they run though “Nichts Spricht Wahre Liebe Frei”, “Judas” and the title track you can sense that sometime soon a small country will be looking nervously over their shoulder at the rage emanating from this record. For sure they’re not doing anything new but they’re doing it very well.
From Two Balconies
EchoTest came to life in 2011 when Marco Machera and Julie Slick met at band camp. Yes, really. Since then they’ve released a couple of experimental meets fusion meets prog instrumental albums and now it’s time for number three.
However this time around seven of the ten tracks have vocals which should help their name get better known out there as we do like the singing. The basic duo are augmented by variety of guests with drummer Pat Mastoletto, guitarist Tim Motzer, ocalists Mike Visser and Ali Wadsworth, and violinist Sarah Anderson all adding some well judged performances.
Readers of the small print will be delighted to see that the artwork was done by Derek Riggs (Iron Maiden) but this is a long way from “Flight of Icarus”. Instead we’re in a world where modern alt-rock clashes with classic prog and psych with a few nods to King Crimson and their ilk.
It’s certainly an interesting experience with the likes of “The Mystical Connected Us” and “Sense Of Urgency” the highlights of the set. At times you start thinking of Van der Graaf, then you get annoyed at some modern licks before a Hawkwind swoosh brings you right back home. It’s definitely something that prog fans with broad palates should be listening to.
DESCENDANTS OF CAIN
Conversations With Mirrors
And it’s another goth rock album! As with the above industrial album it’s only a week or so since I was playing the new record by MW Wild and now Descendants of Cain are offering up their take on the genre.
They released a few albums in the early part of the 21st century before band leader Darryl Kruger decided to take a break to release a solo EP. But now he’s put the band back together, man, and come up with ‘Conversations WIth Mirrors”.
It’s on the lighter side of goth so a world away from goth metal and sees a swather of melancholy songs most of which seem to be about death and loss. Cheers! The songs are well arranged and produced with a nice use of sampled strings turning up in just the right places. There are a handful of songs which are straight out of the top drawer with the ballad “Lost To The Noise”, “A Thousand Years” and “Defiance” instant repeat plays.
Not everything is as good as those but if you’re looking for something on the introverted side then give this a bash.
THE REVEREND SHAWN AMOS
Time for some blues and the Reverend Shawn Amos wants you to know that he loves you. Oh, yes.
Turns out that Shawn Amos has got some form in the music biz what with having been an an A&R executive at Rhino Entertainment and vice president of A&R at the Shout! Factory. He’s also found the time to make his own music and this is album number five.
It’s a heady mix of classic blues, vintage r’n’b and a hint of soul which has been ably produced by two-time Grammy-nominated American saxophonist Mindi Abai. Add in a guest appearance from the Blind Boys of Alabama and some great songs and you’re left with a mighty fine brew.
It’s mainly original material with a couple of covers including a sprightly run through of “Bright Lights Big City”, a song so overplayed that it becomes meaningless. But the Rev puts the life right back into it. His own songs are melodic and memorable and the whole album has a warmth to it that invites you in to become its new best friends.
With some great musicians along for the ride and with his own vocals and moothie holding the show together this turned into one of my favourite blues album of the year so far.