Reviews roundup – Crown Of Glory ~ Fudge ~ Legacy Pilots ~ Star Period Star ~ Voodoo Six
CROWN OF GLORY
Aye, aye! Swiss power metal time.
The problem with power metal is that there are too many bands out there who do it competently. I’m not interested in competent. Be fab or be gash. Nothing in-between.
Fortunately for all of us, Crown Of Glory are more fab than anything else. I’ve never heard of them but turns out they’re well known on the Swiss metal scene although this is their first album since 2014. And it’s full of things you want from a power metal album. Vocally, they do veer away from the screaming, with a more chesty style. But it suits the music well. There are plenty of chunky riffs and piercing solos as well as some really good, almost orchestral keyboards.
That would be for nothing if the songs weren’t up to much. But they are. Oddly, the one song I didn’t take too was the opening “Emergency” but once the riff to “Something” kicked in I was sold. That also benefits from guest vocals courtesy of former Burning Witches singer Seraina Telli. Although I prefer to think of her as Seraina Telli. from Dead Venus. If you haven’t heard their ‘Bird Of Paradise’ release then sort yourself out. Anyway, back to “Something”. It’s so Kamelot that it hurts. But in a good, I have a safe word way.
Vocalist Hene Muther, guitarists Markus Muther and Hungi Berglas, Oli Schumacher on keyboards, drummer Lukas Soland and Jonas Lüscher on bass do a grand job throughout and there’s half a sozen songs here that will go on instant repeat. They manage to pull off that neat trick of being heavy and melodic at the same time which isn’t easy. They even have a party anthem which isn’t something you can say of many bands working in this genre but “Let’s Have A Blast” should get festival crowds jumping. Assuming that we ever see a festival happen every again.
A couple of songs midway through just kind of drift by but pound for pound this is a real good one.
Dust To Come
That’s a shocker of a band name by the way. Not as bad as Fudge Tunnel but still.
Anyway, =fudge= say they’re pioneers of synth-metal. Quite a claim for a genre that’s been around for a couple of decades more than they have. But fly high, fall far.
They’ve been around since 2012 although this is their debut album following on from a couple of EPs. Chris Techritz and Maximilian Amberger are the original members although they seem to be going by the names Prophet and Patron these days. The rest of the band comprise Cyborg, Beast and Soldier since you ask. Soundwise they seem to have ended up in a Mushroomhead meets GWAR with a synth vibe. Which, despite the words I’ve just written is actually quite an enjoyable place.
Thematically and lyrically it’s a world of horror. Satan certainly gets a lot of shout outs on “The Summoning”. They’re certainly ambitious in their outlook with some excellent booklet art and a (limited edition) comic book which presumably sets out the concept behind this concept album. Apart from pain, screaming, blood and anguish I didn’t quite pick up on what the actual concept was.
Musically, there is some excellent guitar work in here while the vocals edge more towards a more thrash metal approach. There are a couple of tunes which are interchangeable but I enjoyed the anger and vitriol that spits out the speakers. When they get a wee bit adventurous as they do on the title track and “Confession” things sound particularly good. I still wouldn’t listen to it in a darkened room, though. Scary.
Frank Us is the chap behind Legacy Pilots. Turns out he was noticing, with dismay, the number of prog musicians who were dying and as he’s getting on a bit himself thought he’d better get his finger out and make that prog album he’d always wanted to. It’s one thing producing jingles but does it satisfy the soul. That was “Con Brio” which featured a host of prog legends. And how he’s back with another record..
And it’s a good one. He’s also brought in some top flight musicians to realise his songs so there are appearances from Jordan Rudess ( Dream Theater ), Todd Suchermann ( Styx ), Pete Trewavas ( Marillion , Transatlantic ), Marco Minnemann (Steven Wilson , The Aristocrats ) , Steve Morse (Deep Purple / Flying Colors) and John Mitchell (Lonely Robot) among others.
Musically, it’s very melodic with some fabulous keyboard work. It’s the keys that hold the music together while the assorted guitarists get room to sprinkle some fairy dust over the top. Herr Us handles some vocals but Jake Livgren (presumably the nephew) sings on a couple of songs including the melodic gem that is “Dreamers” where he harmonises with John Mitchell. The vocals of Us are more workmanlike and Floydian in tone but still work well. But we’re really here for the music and that is quite delicious.
I was particularly taken with the centre staged “Fear Part One – Proximity And Distance” and “Fear Part Two – Hope And Failure” which are just marvellous pieces of progressive rock. They’ve also got a darker tinge than most of the other songs which are bright by comparison. Regardless, this comes highly recommended to anyone with a penchant for late seventies styled melodic prog rock.
STAR PERIOD STAR
Daylight Spending Time
Long time fans of Star Period Star will be delighted to know that this record sees them returning to the use of wobbletones.
That should enough of a sentence to encourage fans of linear sounds to head off, whistling, hands in pockets, nothing to see here.
The braver of you will be reckoning that after surviving a Grateful Dead concert in Edinburgh back in the day, you can handle anything. Thankfully for those of us still in therapy post GD, this is an enjoyable if extremely challenging listening experience. I’d also like to point out that Star Period Star are not a jam band, rather an experimental, prog like, space-ish rock combo and that wobbletones are, deep breath, radical guitar tunings where the lower strings are tuned so low that they not only create micro-tonal chords, but the notes bend or wobble as they are played. So now you know.
They’ve been around for a long time. The nineties in fact. But this is only their fourth album proper and sees the current lineup of Pat Hamilton (no relation) – keyboards, guitars, percussion; Patrick Hussey – drums; Greg Stark – bass; and Dan Sweigert – vocals, guitars, keyboards, percussion, tape recorders, toys aided and abetted by Bob Drake (Thinking Plague/5uu’s) on vocals, Mike Hagedorn (Lovely Little Girls/Cheer-Accident) on trombones and long-time collaborator Ron Jagielnik on guitars. The one thing you really have to admire about them is the fact that no heed is paid to anyone who isn’t the band. There’s no thoughts of radio play or pandering to folk like me. This is the music they want to hear and if you happen to like it as well. Bonus.
If they resemble anything, it’s second generation King Crimson. I didn’t recognise many noises but I recognised those ones. They chop and change between short bursts of music and longer, deeper vibes with the latter being the best (obvs). The title track and the closing “Wine and Telescopes” are tunes that you will get lost in and are all the better for it. It’s out on groovy, smoky vinyl as well so if you’re looking to impress a young lady / gentleman of your acquaintance and your etchings are out of date, that’s the format to go for.
One for those whose ears are open to anything. Cheers to Mick Magic over at M&E for pointing this my way.
They’ve been on the go for a while now, have Voodoo Six, without breaking through to the big time. If anything they’re probably known best for being one of the former bands of current Judas Priest guitarist Richie Faulkner. Either that or their ex-vocalist being the grandson of Brucie Forsyth.
Which is a shame because they were and are very good. Amazingly, this is their sixth album and if you like your rock heavy, dark and melodic then this is a very good place to be. The songs are uniformly good with some excellent musicianship on show. Granted, a lot of the songs do follow the same mid-tempo format but that doesn’t detract from their power.
Nik-Taylor Stoakes is on to his second record with them now and his voice really lifts the songs. Add in some cracking solos and it’s a bit of a hidden treat. ‘Lost’, ‘Inherit My Shadow’ and ‘Last To Know’ are real winners. Even the legally obligatory ballad, Never Beyond Repair’ works. Maybe it’s because they’re not metal enough for the heavy crowd and too heavy for the modern rock crowd. Something is holding them back but it’s certainly not the music. A good one.
PS – this review was previously published in February 2020 but the Chinese bat pox fake pandemia saw the release pushed back to October 16th, 2020.
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton