Reviews roundup ~ Kaamos Warriors ~ Babel Trio ~ Greg Sover Band ~ Stone Vibe ~ Deafcon5
I first encountered Kaamos Warriors when “Ikuisen Talven Sarastus” arrived. They’ve expanded from a duo to a trio since then with Mikko Ojala (vocals, guitars, drums, keyboards) and Jani Moilanen (guitars, acoustic guitars, solo guitars) being joined by Jyri Moilanen (bass).
Back then I thoroughly enjoyed their take on black metal which always seemed to have a melody lurking in the depths and I’m pleased to report that very little has changed in the last couple of years. For this is another excellent release. If anything there are a few extra folk influences hither and thither while the harsh vocals work particularly well on the strongest tracks which number ‘Tuli’, ‘the title track and the closing ‘Elävän tulen liekki’ which headed off into almost Dimmu Borgir symphonic realms. I think they translate as Fire, Curse and the Flame of a Living Fire. So I’m guessing that lyrically, things are still bleak.
The keyboards are more upfront here and that really makes the music stand out even more than before. The opening number ‘Askeleet’ was also another surprise with some uncredited, possibly synthesised vocal harmonies pitched behind the wall of sound. It’s dark, bleak, brutal yet oddly hypnotic. A real good one.
Labyrinth of Thoughts
If you’ve been in the market for some Greek stoner doom based on traditional Cretan folk music then this is the place for you.
Granted, that might be a niche market but fans of the slightly wider stoner / doom genre will find a lot hear to get their bongs banging. First things first. If you think the guitar sound is a wee bit on the unique side that’s because it’s not a guitar. Turns out that Dimitris Sideris favours an electric lute as a lead instrument. Yes, really. Michael Avlonitis is on bass and the mononomenclatured Trikalero is on drums with the aforementioned Sideris taking care of vocals as well. Although it’s all Greek to me (tch-boom, thank you, I’m here all week). Yes, don’t be fooled by song titles like ‘Wings Of Stray’, ‘Guillotine’ and ‘Black Sea’. One look at the lyric inner lets you know that they’re singing in their native tongue. Assuming your ears hadn’t already twigged.
Musically there is some splendid stuff going on here. For sure, fans of fuzzy psychedelic stoner doom will feel at home but the melody lines are a whole other thing as that’s where the flavour of their native land kicks in. Bear in mind, this was a country that stretched across to Asia Minor and all points in-between as well as the mantinades of Crete. So there are rhythms here which aren’t native to the West and certainly not in the Frozen North I hail from. So you’re going to hear something that you don’t hear everyday. And that’s a good thing. Well, it’s a good thing if it’s a good thing and this is a Good Thing.
Some of it one paced but when they stretch out on the lengthier numbers like ‘Lady Spring’ and the fantastic ‘Black Sea’ that you can find yourself being fully drawn into their world. At times they being in some more prog metal influences but, in the main, this is a stoners delight.
GREG SOVER BAND
Grounded Soul Records
It’s probably a couple of years since I heard “Jubilee”, the previous release from Mr Sover. I could look it up but that would involve actually doing something. I do recall it being an improvement on the preceding “Songs of a Renegade”, as it stuck more to a blues-rock format.
That’s continued on this new mini album / maxi EP which sees four new tunes alongside a cover version of Cream’s ‘Politician’. Not one of my favourite tunes (or bands) but he gives it a good go. On his own songs it’s the guitar work that grabs your attention the most. There is some great work going on there with the resonator guitar on ‘Feelin’ Sumthin’ a real treat. That’s my favourite song as well as it builds into a splendid blues shuffle. It’s really good.
I’m not going to pretend that Mr Sover is the best blues vocalist you’re ever going to here but within his limits he does a fine job. The rest of the band put in a good shift as well with guitarist Allen James, bassist Garry Lee and drummer Tom Walling providing a solid backing for him to riff off. The folk blues of ‘It’s Never Too Late’ is another highlight as the Greg Sover Band put out their best release to date.
To Spain for some seventies classic rock inspired tunes from Stone Vibe. Which you would probably have guessed from the name. I mean it’s a name that reeks of patchouli oil. If only Crispian Mills had been unfamiliar with Kulasekhara, then I’m sure he’d have snapped that one up.
It’s sort of their debut album although they did put out a mini album a few years back. Does seven tracks qualify as an album. Probably not unless you’re songs are all In-A-Gadda long. So we’ll go with debut. Originally formed by guitarists Alex Pouget and Albert Ramos they’ve now got a rhythm section of Victor Corbi (bass) and David Rodriguez (drums) with Pouget also taking on lead vocals. And this is rather good.
They’ve pulled off the trick of managing to sound very modern as well as very old fashioned at the same time. Which is clever. There are a few bands out there like Rival Sons and Monster Truck who pull off a similar trick but it’s not an easy one to get right. They even manage to throw in a good few Sabbath riffs along the way with the opening ‘In The Name’ the most obvious but take a listen to some of the swirling riffs on the likes of ‘Until The Last Breath’ and ‘Lies’ and it’s pure “Sabotage”. That’s a good thing by the way. It certainly helps that they’re not slavishly copying things as the melodies and vocals are very modern rock. But it’s a combination that works well.
It’s well produced and arranged and there’s is definitely a talent that should be appreciated widely. A damn shame this had to emerge into a barren, dystopian world where we can’t gather in a muddy field to appreciate this in its natural habitat. A definite keeper.
Dr Music Records
Some German prog metal now with the third album from Deafcon5. And, prog fans rejoice, it’s a concept album! Yaaaass!
The concept is, deep breath, emotion. In particular the emotions defined by American psychologists Carroll Izard and Paul Ekman who posited that humans have seven basic emotions: surprise, sadness, contempt, fear, disgust, anger and joy. Of course that was then. Ekman has subsequently reduced that to six while Robert Plutchik reckoned there were eight. But regardless of scholarly differences there is a nugget of truth there.
Which brings us back to this release And in case you’re wondering why there are eight tracks on the album, the closing ‘The Journey’ looks back at all seven emotions. Thing is, as a concepy, it’s a pretty loose one which means the band can pretty much go anywhere they want to. So I struggled to work out what was what. Apart from the obvious. I’m no a complete numpty. So I knew what ‘Surprise’ was about. Elsewhere, I’m not so sure. Lyrics would have helped. Or some brackets after song titles like ‘My Unwanted Bride’ and ‘White House Madness’ with an emotion attached! The former, incidentally, is the absolute standout song here where the band give full vent to their Queensryche / Symphony X leanings. I also enjoyed the clean / dirty vocal contrasts on ‘Ruthless’ where they even mage to go a bit jazz odyssey.
Musically, the band are outstanding. As you need to be if this is your chosen genre. It’s got a great production and there are some splendid arrangements. But I’ll need to spend some time with my headphones to work out what the hell was going on!