Reviews roundup – Dark Avenger vs. Wingfield Reuter Sirkis vs. Backtrack Blues Band vs. Blank Display vs. Simian Ghost
The Beloved Bones: Hell
Aiiieeee! It’s heavy metal time. And who better to do that than the Brazilian power metal band Dark Avenger.
They were originally around in the nineties before taking an extended break but got back together in 2009. They’ve been busy since then bringing their own take on power metal to the masses. Well, maybe not masses, but that’s not the fault of the music which is mighty fine indeed. No, it’s probably down to their location and a series of indie labels. Because if fans of the genre actually got to hear it then they would be in for a treat.
They add a touch of prog metal to their basic sound which would make fans of Symphony X very happy bunnies and in Mário Linhares they’ve got a vocalist who can pull off all the notes in all the right places. Something that lets down many a musically good genre release. There are some great arrangements and atmospherics which lift already good songs like ‘Parasite’ and ‘Purple Letter’ to a higher place.
Given the right breaks there is no reason that Dark Avenger couldn’t make it to at least the Championship level of modern power meets prog metal bands. A good one.
WINGFIELD REUTER SIRKIS
The latest installment of a mega session from 2016 which sees Messrs Wingfield, Reuter and Sirkis following on from “The Stone House” in fine fashion.
That’s guitarist Mark Wingfield on guitar, touch guitarist Markus Reuter (a guitar playing technique where a string is fretted and set into vibration as part of a single motion of being pushed onto the fretboard) and drummer Asaf Sirkis. I was expecting a full on jazz fusion odyssey so was pleasantly surprised to find this leans more towards the prog / art-rock side of things. It’s rhythmically intense and all the better for it.
As you would expect it’s improvised from start to finish and will certainly appeal to those who are looking for something a wee bit different. The opening ‘Zinc’ fair blows away the cobwebs and shows that the musicians are firing off into some very interesting territory. Best of all was the 14 minutes spent in the company of ‘Ghost Light’, probably the proggiest track on offer. It throws up new things every time you hear it, and you will want to hear it. A lot.
The guitarists weave in and out of each other in a manner that seems almost telepathic, and some of the solos are otherworldly, but it’s the drums that hold everything together and drive the music along. Different, interesting and an experiment worth taking part in.
BACKTRACK BLUES BAND
Make My Home In Florida
As the name would suggest the Backtrack Blues Band are a blues band and, yes, they do hail from Florida.
They’re well known in that part of the world as they’ve been on the go since 1980, so that’s nearly forty years of blues picking experience. Which means they’re no slouches at knocking out some Chicago styled sounds. It’s a mix of originals and covers with singer and moothie player Sonny Charles writing half the songs with the rest coming from such luminaries as BB King, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Walter Spriggs and T-Bone Walker. So he’s set himself up in good company there. And for the most part carries it off. It’s a live set (which comes with an accompanying DVD) and musically it’s a rare treat.
For sure, the vocals sometimes don’t match the quality of the playing but it’s the driving harmonica that really pushes the Backtrack Blues Band along. Well they are named after a Little Walter track so it’s just as well! The rest of the band have been playing together for aeons and guitarist / co-vocalist Kid Royal, Little Johnny Walter on rhythm guitar, Joe Bencomo on drums and Stick Davis on bass have that easy synchronicity that only comes through a lot of practice. The band say there are no overdubs or studio edits and that it’s “an honest and authentic live recording”. The bonus DVD might only be watched the once but the music will keep you coming back for a fix of fifties styled Chicago sounds.
Love, Hate And All Between
We’re off to Australia now for some pop/punk. Although if I hadn’t told you that you’d be thinking they were pop punkers with surfboards who really want to be Green Day. Before they disappeared up their own arses.
There is also the commercial side of Offspring at play as well, and if this were twenty years ago, then you’d be hearing a couple of these tunes on the radio, and they’d only be one good video away from some level of MTV fame. It’s not all retro, though, and they do bring some alt-rock influences to bear on the likes of ‘King of Nowhere Town’ and ‘Dearest Dead and Broken’.
Thomas Winters: Lead Vocals, Guitar, Cameron Mills: Bass Guitar and Lachlan Winters: Drums/Percussion, Vocals – for it is they – certainly know their way around a catchy melody which, in places, took me back to the days when the Wildhearts were a thing. It’s certainly worth a listen if you’re yearning for the days hen it was “All Killer No Filler”.
Heist or Hit
Some modern Swedish alt-pop to round things off today. And it’s from Simian Ghost, the band that started life as a solo recording project by Swedish songwriter Sebastian Arnström.
They’re a fully fledged band now and this time around have pulled in Thomas Hedlund of Phoenix to help out on the production side. Which makes sense as they’re not a million miles away from each other in musical ideology. Their strongest point is the harmonies which are well thought out and performed as they set about filling a space somewhere between Love, The Flaming Lips and solo Brian Wilson.
The best songs have wisely been punted out as singles and if the above has made you keen to investigate further then you’ll want to listen to ‘When You’re Ready’ and ‘Fun’ first. If you get them, then you’ll get this.
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton