Review of ‘Anthem’ by Symfinity


Review by Ryan Murray | February 19, 2021 | Official Facebook

Symfinity, while listed as a symphonic metal band, also have a lot of progressive metal and even some folk/ren faire vibes. This New York City based band is a must see and must hear group! Their website states they have been described as a mix between Jethro Tull and Nightwish, and I completely agree with that. They have a very progressive sound and they pack an even bigger punch live!

In 2018, they opened for Tarja’s return to NYC at The Gramercy. My wife and I had the pleasure of seeing Symfinity play from the front row. While I only had the chance to wave “hi” from a far before the show, I’ve kept in contact with the band ever since and can tell you they are the real deal. Not only are they all super talented, but they are genuinely kind and humble people. During the show, the energy they put out to the crowd is so palpable. Symfinity is the type of band that you can feel the heart behind the music. 

Releasing their album “Anthem” March 2020, Symfinity poured so much of themselves into this 12 track album, and it shows. The band did all of the album by themselves, including the recording, mixing and mastering. Also, the band recorded all of the instruments heard throughout the album live! 

Anthem
This opening track starts out with strings and winds but at :16 seconds when the guitars come in, this honestly gives me a Nirvana vibe. I also love the epic strings/drum part at :48.

The lyrics are limited on this track, but I think it fits perfectly! 

Overall, this song is really arranged well. I really enjoy the live symphonic elements that blend in perfectly with the band. 

“As we search for guiding anthems, aiming at the stars”

To me, this is speaking of our lives. As we seek those things that guide us to our next chapter, that we should always aim high. 

Flipside 
Flipside! Absolutely loved hearing this song played live at the Gramercy! So much energy behind this song. 

This song starts out with a strong symphonic sound with drums holding the groove. Absolutely love the distorted guitars starting at :19.

I also love the dynamics and emotion on this track, both musically and lyrically. 

“Head in the stars, I was fighting all your wars 
Losing grip, you cling and you trip; I’m leaving you behind”

I really love the meaning behind this song. For me, this track talks about moving past friendships that held us back. When others try to hold us back, we need to break free from them and not let them get in the way of our goals and success. Not only that, but also some of those people try to ride the wave of our success.

Dynamite
This track starts out with some heart-pulsing drums and Seann’s vocals. Then Averi “Metalwinds” comes in along with strings and distorted guitars.

The band instruments are blending really well with the symphonic instruments and really compliment each other well. 

Seann’s range is heard really well on this track. 

My favorite part of this track is from 2:53 to the end!

This song, for me, is about all of those backstabbers that we have to deal with throughout our lives. The ones that act so nice to our faces, but then show their real selves when they talk badly about us and try to destroy us with their lies. We need to break free from these people and get away from their destruction. 

“I can handle more than you think. I’m not a prisoner of your destruction.”

The Way I Run From You
This track is a lot of fun and sounds great! It’s probably one of my favorites from the album! The first verse opens with a light intro on keys and flute. When the first verse comes in, strings are added. Seann’s vocals are very light and soft throughout this song, but it shows a lot of depth and emotion! 

Drums come in during the second verse for a bit of a heavier feel along with a stronger symphonic feel. This verse may come as a surprise after hearing the intro and first verse, and the intensity continues building throughout the remainder of the track! 

For me, this song is about escaping the grasps of those that try to hold us back, whether in a personal relationship, toxic family or friends, toxic work environments, and other similar circumstances.

There’s a part of this song that really sticks out to me, both melodically and in lyrical content –

“Never gonna hear you say 
Never gonna find a way 
All I wanna to do right now is 
Run away from you 
All the things you put me through 
So glad that I withdrew 
Don’t you wanna see the way 
I run from you?”

Not only do I love the melody here, but lyrically I relate to this in a strong way. I was stuck in a toxic work environment for many years. This person would constantly stab me in the back by saying one thing to me and another behind my back. They would lie about me behind my back and try to change the perception others had of me. Even though most were smart enough to not believe her lies, it was still painful. This was someone I had known since I was younger, so it made it even more painful. I finally had to withdraw from that environment and it was for the best!

Halfway
This track opens with a beautiful string intro along with vocals a few seconds in. Even though this is a bit of a slower track, the emotions and depth that this song has are very evident.

This song also reaches me on a personal level. For me, this song is about not being happy with where we are in life, feeling as though we haven’t tried as hard as we could to better ourselves, and the anger and resentment we feel within ourselves because we don’t push ourselves farther.

Supernatural
This track is a bit more up beat! It opens with a hard riff, drums flute a mind a strong symphonic backing. Melodically, at times this one reminds me of earlier Lacuna Coil. (Comalies)

This is another song that showcases Seann’s range! 

This song, for me, is about those people and those things that we allow to hold us prisoner and to keep us back from being better than we are. 

Too many times in life we give people and things the authority to hold us prisoner in a cage of fear and regret. This can only happen if we let it, but too many times that’s exactly what we do. 

“Your cold stare is just a reflection 
Of how I feel inside 
The keeper isn’t you; it’s me 
That’s what I find…”

Something Nothing Everything
This track also opens with just strings, but is soon followed by light guitar and vocals. Avery gently sneaks in on the flute just moments before guitars and drums really pick it up.

The vocals stay down more on this track, gently pulling the listener in further and further. There is so much emotion even with the gentler vocals.

This track, for me, is about missed opportunities in relationships. (Not necessarily romantic ones). So many times in life we find ourselves missing out on opportunities because we were distracted by everything going on around us.  

Notion
Guitars start this track out with a sound reminiscent of Creed’s “What If”. This track brings it back lyrically to the chorus of “Flipside” with a very different feel.

At :52 the atmosphere completely changes with winds taking over the lead. 

Days Into Hope
This instrumental track starts out with very emotional and dramatic strings. The melody to this track is really quite beautiful!

At :33, keys take over and are really quite beautiful! This track builds consistently all the way through.

Without Someone
This track opens with a banger of a riff with hard drums. When the vocals come in right after the intro, the guitars and strings take over. 

The vocal melody as well as the musical melody are really catchy.

Finale I: Angel of My Life
The final two tracks broken into two finales. This track is very light and airy all throughout, including vocals. This song is really quite beautiful musically and melodically! 

Lyrically, I can relate to this song all too well. To me, I take this song to be about that moment that someone comes into our lives who completely changes us. I’ve had some weird relationships in the past. Some who wouldn’t stand up for our relationship when it really mattered, others who couldn’t respect my personal beliefs and faith. 

When I met my now wife, that completely changed. She truly is the angel of my life. She helps me to see the best in me when I don’t. She has helped me to believe in true love, seeing past all my faults and building me up to someone better. There will never be any words I can say to thank her for who she is.

Finale II: Sweet and Sour
You couldn’t ask for a more epic track for the final track of this album! This track holds nothing back and is definitely another favorite of mine! I absolutely love the dynamics this track has. Rapid double bass pedals fill the air at :43 seconds in. 

Instrumentally, this track has moments that remind me of Dream Theatre’s “Pull Me Under”.

Verdict
Overall, I have to give this album a 4.9 out of 5! Everything from the vocals, instrumentation, arrangements and song writing is just perfect. What I really enjoy about this band is that I relate to so much of the meaning behind their material, and feel that many will relate as well. If you haven’t heard this band yet, please give “Anthem” a listen, you won’t regret it! I truly can’t wait to be able to see this band live again after the pandemic clears up!

Review of ‘A Funeral of Innocence’ by Ligeia Wept


Review by Ryan Murray | October 21, 2020

Ligeia Wept is a band that is hard to place into any one specific genre. Hailing from Melbourne Australia, this band stretches across genres that include goth, symphonic death/doom metal and melodic metal.

Their press release states that they were formed by Alister in 2006. Over the years, they have seen their share of numerous lineup changes, having gone on complete hiatus from 2009 to 2012. In 2019, everything fell together.

Their debut opus “A Funeral of Innocence” just released this year, and it was worth the wait! The music throughout this work ranges from dirge like works with cavernous growls, to melodic, doom and gloom with angelic soprano vocals. Everything from the guitars, bass, percussion, vocals and orchestrations is perfectly placed, drawing the listener in deeper and deeper.

Both lyrically and melodically, this album draws so many emotions from loss and sadness to a “cannibalistic apocalypse”.  

Her Name In Countless Years Lies Buried

This opening track is simply breathtaking! The string arrangements are just perfect. And the angelic vocal harmonies absolutely gave me chills. Belonging in a score for the newest Netflix release “The Haunting of Bly Manor”, this piece of orchestration needs to be heard all around the world. Simply beautiful.

She Arose Unto a Dying Kiss

At 12:16 long, this dirge like track opens up with a low droning atmosphere with eerie keys. As the intro progresses, percussion is slowly added with tasteful and very tight fills, slowly becoming more and more involved. The strings become really entrancing and add so much to the atmosphere. 

As the song builds, we hear angelic soprano vocals which sit beautifully above the atmosphere being created.  

Deep growls encompass this track throughout as well. 

A Hallowed Suffering Rode Upon the Ninth

Surrounded by beautiful yet haunting strings, this track opens up with some narration. At :42 seconds in, keys and drums come in along with some guttural growls followed by beautifully angelic, yet haunting soprano vocals.

The balance between the growls and soprano vocals is just right. Neither of which are overbearing. Guitars and strings are balanced so well throughout this track, and they really compliment each other.

While this track is obviously slower, it gives me a “The Forest Whispers My Name” vibe from Cradle of Filth’s 95’ release “V Empire”.

Empty into Void Spiritus Mundi

This has got to be my favorite track! As we drift more into the voids of the Earth, we find ourselves surrounded in darkness. This track opens with enchanted and very haunting vocals, and an overall eerie atmosphere that’s created by pads, strings and a droning synth. 

As this track progresses, even though there isn’t any hard drums or distorted guitar riffs, you feel as though you’re going deeper and deeper into darkness.

“Long gone from your home
Whispers slowly beckon us
And I won’t cry your name”

For me, this song is about the darkness that is created by our self isolation. In the current times we’re in, it’s easier than ever to isolate and drown in our own darkness. We become our own worst enemy when we dwell in isolation and the regret of our inaction of breaking free from this darkness.

A Savage Winter Wrought of an Unclean Garden

Another dirge like track starting off right away with distorted guitars. This track is filled with guttural growls and beautiful soprano vocals reminiscent of Tarja Turunen’s early solo career. 

I absolutely love the harmonizing, yet distorted guitars throughout.

At 7:22, everyone pulls back and we’re left with just keys for a bit, but the distorted guitars and drums kick back in shortly after, followed by some more deep growls.

Towards the end of the track, there is narration in French. 

Blood and Shadows did Bequeath Thee Pleasures Vast

The closing track is the longest one on this awesome release! The first 2:05 is just the intro, and the arrangement is absolutely beautiful, yet rather eerie.

The serenity of this amazing intro is abruptly shattered at 2:05 with a black metal sound, including pulse pounding drums, fast tremolo picking on guitar and some serious growls. 

This track will leave you with an array of emotions. It’s got amazing soprano vocals that sit above the madness below, and the vocals for perfectly with each other!

The outro to this track is simply beautiful. Between the strings and keys, and eventually a drum pattern, this outro leaves you wanting more. And I love how the song ends unresolved! 

I could also see this intro and the outro as a part of the score for Netflix’s “Haunting of Bly Manor”!  I absolutely love it.

Verdict

Overall, I’d have to give this album a 4.5 out of 5! I absolutely loved it! The arrangements overall are amazing. I absolutely love how the strings add so much to the atmosphere. I love the soprano vocals, both from Marianne and Emily (session vocals). The strings and the vocals of Marianne and Emily complimented each other incredibly well. 

If you haven’t heard this incredible work yet, I highly recommend you give “A Funeral of Innocence” a listen! You can check them out on Bandcamp and can purchase their album on Digipak CD through Bandcamp at https://ligeiawept.bandcamp.com/releases 

Review of Finntroll’s ‘Vredesvävd’


Review by Ryan Murray | September 15, 2020

Folk metal band Finntroll, from Helsinki Finland, is releasing “Vredesvävd”, their first studio album in seven years via Century Media Records on Friday, September 18th!

With a career spanning over two decades, Finntroll has managed to sell over 50,000 albums in the US alone and has gained over 7 million streams of their entire catalog! 

Finntroll blends folk metal with black metal, but with their own twist it creates a unique sound! This album has something for everyone! It’s got the very recognizable sound that Finntroll is known for, and to me, definitely has a matured sound as well! Both old and potential new fans alike will find much to like within this album.

Everything on this album has been well thought out and executed. The balance of instruments and vocals is spot on. The intricacies between the melodies and vocals makes for no easy feat. Everything from the heart pounding drums, blast beats, melodic and heavy guitars, and tongue twisting lyrics, to the pulled back strings and choir-like backing vocals, this album takes twists and turns all throughout and leaves you wanting more after every track. For me, the keyboards and symphonic parts really build the emotions throughout the whole album. 

This album is a defining moment not only for Finntroll, but for folk metal as a whole. Finntroll has substantially raised the bar with this latest work and have very possibly started a new era of folk metal! 

Väktaren

This epic, symphonic and choir driven intro gives a small glimpse of what’s to come. This opening track easily sets the tone and amps you up for what’s to come.

Att Döda Med En Sten

Starting with a more folky sound with strings, this track quickly breaks out into a brutal assault of the senses! With blast beats, lots of double bass, heavy but melodic guitars and strings throughout, this track shows how versatile the whole band is. The drums are tight, and the melodies will hook you in for more. The main melody is driven with backing strings and this adds even more to the track.

Ormfolk  

The first single from this album! While there are definitely some strings throughout, this song is mostly driven by heart pounding drums and melodic, yet distorted heavy guitars! There are moments within this track that kind of emit some hardcore/punk vibes. I love how even at the faster tempos, the band stays locked in with each other! There is a blend of black metal vocals and some more hardcore like vocals on this track.

Grenars Väg

This song is probably one of my favorites from the album. It’s an awesome blend of metal and folk, and honestly just straight up fun. The beats and melodies are catchy. This song feels like The Dropkick Murphys married into black metal and this was the result of that union. This track would be amazing live as well! 

Forsen

The second single off the album starts off in your face with guitars and drums, and is definitely another favorite off of the album! The riffs are definitely another favorite of mine, with random breaks into short lasting folky sections throughout. The double bass in this song is tight! More vocal acrobats throughout this track with tongue-twisting lyrics. During the heavier parts of this track this song gives me vibes of Cradle of Filth from the “Midian” era.

Vid Häxans Härd

While we start off this track with an acoustic feel, that atmosphere is quickly changed by aggressive drums and guitars. This song is pretty aggressive all the way though, and I love the strings backing up the aggressiveness and making it even more full.

Myren

This track has got a thrash feel to it, along with definite folk influences. The vocals are fast, aggressive and in rapid-fire succession. Even if I spoke any Swedish, not sure I could keep up with it!

Stjärnors Mjöd

This track is another favorite for me and reminds me of Dimmu Borgir’s “Progenies of the Great Apocalypse”. From the guitar riffs, strings and choir-like atmosphere, to the pulse pounding tight drum fills, this song will likely be a fan favorite during live shows! 

Mask

Another in your face aggressive track, but this one starts off with a lighter and happier atmosphere for the first eight seconds before I envision a wall of death colliding! I love the skank beats throughout this one, and really love the guitars at 1:24! 

Ylaren

This song is completely different than I was expecting for an album closer! It’s just a bit lighter than I expected musically, but is still heavy with emotion. This track definitely feels a bit more experimental. I absolutely love the time changes this track is laced with. We start out by switching between what sounds like 9/8 and 6/8 then into a straight 4/4 time signature later on. Absolutely loved this as a final track!

Verdict

Overall, I’d have to give this album a 4.5 out of 5.0! In all honesty, I’ve never really been a huge fan of folk metal, but this album has changed my mind! In preparation for writing this review, I listened to not only some older works from Finntroll, but some other bands in the folk metal genre. This new work from Finntroll not only breaks down barriers for those who may not like folk metal, but it feels like a fresh new step forward for the genre as a whole. “Vredesvävd” has substantially raised the bar and has changed the face of folk metal for years to come! 

“Vredesvävd” releases this Friday, September 18th on all platforms, so be sure to check it out!

Review of Oceans of Slumber’s self-titled album


Review by Ryan Murray | September 1, 2020 | Official Facebook

Progressive metal band Oceans of Slumber, from Houston, Texas are releasing their self titled album “Oceans of Slumber” this Friday, September 4th 2020! 

This band has a unique sound that I absolutely love! While there is definitely a progressive metal feel to it, there are some elements of death metal, straight up hard rock and a melodic ballad feel at times as well. This is not your average, run of the mill progressive metal album, so get ready for some surprises!

Their press release states that “Oceans of Slumber” is a work that takes us on a journey to the inner struggles we all face, as well as the societal struggles we all face. There are cycles that hold us down and tear us apart, some that even give us anguish. The release also states that at some point we need to stop running from the pain and the truth that is brought about by these struggles. We can find peace in the light of this reflection. 

I had the awesome privilege of listening to this album in full prior to its release, and I can say that it’s an amazing journey! The power, emotion, rawness and strength gets a hold of you. Musically and vocally, this band is really well balanced! Everything from the band being really tight musically, to the blend and balance of the mastering/mixing, this album is set to go far with this lineup! 

My thoughts on the album are below.

The Soundtrack to My Last Day

This opening track is powerful. It starts out with just an electric guitar riff, but is quickly joined by pulse pounding drums and more distortion. And I absolutely love the time signature in parts of this song! The 7 feel really makes this song unique! There’s some heavy growling vocals as well with some pretty hard grooves.

While there are some really heavy parts on this track, the light and pulled back sections are beautiful and add such emotion.

Cammie’s vocals throughout most of the song are light and beautiful, but full of emotion. However, the power of her voice is shown at 5:39!

“Here I stand! 
The greatest hope
The great equalizer 
The queen of the lost”


There is one line that REALLY stood out to me. 
“In death, we are all equal”

This is such a powerful statement. To me, death is described as the “great equalizer” in this song. With so much division and hatred going on in this world currently, we need to see that we are all human. We need to be a voice for those who can’t speak and for those who are being silenced. We need to view those around us, no matter what color their skin is, no matter what their sexual orientation is and no matter what their beliefs are as equals.

Pray for Fire

This song brings it down a notch with an acoustic feel to start. When Cammie comes in at :36, she starts out light and airy, but slowly builds and builds throughout the song. The song gets a bit heavier as it progresses. Absolutely love the atmosphere that’s created on this track! Also, the drum fills are tight! 

The emotion and power behind this song really hit you hard. Just read the lyrics and listen through it, you’ll see what I mean. 

To me, this song is about praying for hate, inequality and racism to burn and to come to an end by any means necessary. With all of the hatred, racism and bigotry all over the world, it’s so easy to feel like you’re among thorns everywhere, and because of that, the climb to equality is a never ending up hill battle. This song is a cry to burn all of this to the ground.

“Dying and alone
My roots are buried deep
But here among the thorns
The climb is much too steep”

A Return To The Earth Below

This track starts out with kind of an eerie synth atmosphere. The vocals start off with a lot of power right from the first lyric and don’t stop all the way through the track. They only continue to grow. Even in moments when they are pulled back, the emotion is still just as powerful. 

The drums on this track are insanely good, especially in the beginning. Dobber really smoothly sits in the pocket, even during some pretty complicated fills. 

This song, to me, is about the inner struggles that we all face. At one point in our lives, we all face the fear that we aren’t good enough. We feel defeated by everything and everyone. We feel a hopelessness that eats at us to our core. We spend our whole lives running away from ourselves and allowing these lies to consume us. Instead of running into the darkness, we need to stand in the light. If we look inwards and face our fears head on, we can actually find an inner peace.

“I have spent my whole life running 
And I have tried, I have tried to flee from myself 
I could never, no I could never weather the storm 
That was rising, rising, rising from within me 
It doesn’t matter the time in between
Darkness carved its mark in me
Carved its mark in everything
But I’m done, I’m done running, 
I stand in the rain
Here I stand
Purge my fear, and make my claim”

Imperfect Divinity

This epic instrumental track, for me, really nails it. Starting out lightly, this track quickly builds in both volume and emotion. The dynamics really make this track even more powerful and meaningful.

Close your eyes while listening to this one. After just finishing a song about the inner struggles we face and the peace that comes from facing those struggles instead of running from them, this song, to me, encapsulates that victory of finding inner peace. Even if only for a moment in time before the world starts kicking us down again. 

The Adorned Fathomless Creation

It’s time to pick it up again with this track, which immediately starts with a punch to the gut. With growls and distorted guitars, this song hits hard right off the bat. 

From blast beats to Cammie’s vocals getting soulful at times, this track has an awesome mix of heart pounding metal and a more laid back almost soulful feel. Overall though, this one is aggressive to its core! 

To The Sea

This track starts out with bells tolling, then a lightly distorted guitar comes in with an amazing solo which actually lasts awhile and sounds amazing!  

Cammie’s vocals are once again really powerful throughout this track.

This song, to me, is about the battle against time. The calling of the bells, to me, is like a timer on our lives. A timer that is counting down until our last breath. Once we die, the ground ‘holds us’ and becomes ‘an ocean of slumber’ in which we’ll sleep forever. We need to spend our time wisely while still alive. We need to spend time doing things that are of importance and will make lasting change.

“The ground, it holds you in
An ocean of slumber
Forever you’ll sleep
But I’m there too, dreading 
The longing of those days gone by”

The Colors of Grace

This track has a more laid back sound, but the vocals are still just as powerful! This track also has an old school Lacuna Coil feel! Don’t let this more acoustic-like track fool you! It’s still really powerful, especially with the male clean vocals that harmonize throughout certain parts! 

This song is honestly one of my favorites. 

To me, this song talks about the power depression and a lack of self worth can have over us. Everyone faces the sting of regret and failure, some more than others. 

During my junior and senior years in high school, I faced a really bad depression. In my senior year, it got so bad I stopped going to school for over a month before I could make myself go back. After I left school after my senior year was complete, things got a little easier, but still had this weight of depression pulling me down. In 2008, I became a Christian and my life has changed so much. I bring this up because, while we all have something or someone that we find peace in, my peace is found in God and the grace that He provides me. It’s because of my faith that I have found true peace and true joy. 

“Holding on to everything you say
Cause’ your words they paint a picture of me
A beautiful one of what I could be
If I’d simply learn to shake away the blame
You save me from myself
You save me from myself“

I Mourn These Yellowed Leaves

Starting with just keys, followed by drums and distorted guitars, Cammie comes in nice and strong. Heavier distortion kicks in at about 2:17 and is met with some heavy growls at 2:26! I really like how Cammie comes in with the growls at 3:21.

I really like this song and had to listen to it a few times in a row because it kept drawing me back.

This song, for me, is about the seasons we go through in life. We all have our highs and we all have our lows. During those lows, it’s really easy to feel like falling wet fall leaves. Countless leaves fall from trees and coat the ground and eventually completely dry up and die. At our lowest, we feel like we can’t make it anymore. We feel as useless as leaves covering the ground. 

But for me, that’s not the end. Fall is actually my favorite season. One reason is that even though leaves die and fall, they grow back again. In our lowest moments, we have the opportunity to face our low point head on and to grow back better than we were before. There’s so much we can learn in these moments and in these seasons.

“The fires lit, night is now drawing in
We’ve settled down to try and warm ourselves
Everything’s dying now, only to be reborn again
But now we must wait, the seasons can’t be rushed”

Momentaria (September)

Another beautiful instrumental. This one is mostly just keys and strings. The strings from 2:50 and on are simply amazing. Go ahead and close your eyes and listen to this track beginning to end. 

Total Failure Apparatus

This track opens with strings creating an ominous atmosphere, but is then met with growls and distorted guitars. This song has a lot of death metal elements with fast trigger blast beats and in your face guitars and growling, but also has some really nice pulled back sections as well. 

For me, this song is about those dark and lonely paths we sometimes find our selves on. Sometimes, the right road to take is the hardest one to travel. You run into obstacles everywhere you go and get knocked down at every turn. When you’re on the right path, you have to persevere because getting knocked down will happen frequently, especially when fighting for what’s right. 

The Red Flower

This track is pulled way back. An almost dirge-like track is filled with many references to infertility and possibly even the “unwanted seedlings” of rape?

This track is steeped in emotion and heartbreak that is palpable even just at the surface. The more you listen, the more you feel the anguish. 

Wolfmoon 

The final track and a Type o Negative cover! Musically, not too much was changed, but I really like the crunchy distorted guitars in the OoS version! It’s got a more heavy and full sound! Cammie’s vocals sound amazing as well, and I really like her interpretation of the lyrical melody!

Verdict

I have to give this album a 4.9 out of 5! Though Oceans of Slumber is a progressive metal band, they are so much more than that as well! This album doesn’t fit into any one specific genre. It really blurs the lines of genres quite nicely! “Oceans of Slumber” is without a doubt a must hear masterpiece that doesn’t follow most genre-defining rules! 

“Oceans of Slumber” is out this Friday, September 4th 2020, don’t miss it! 

Review of ‘Doom II’ by Witnesses


Review by Ryan Murray | July 25, 2020 | Official Facebook

Witnesses, a genre-defying Doom Metal band out of New York, NY, that was formed in 2016, released their 6 track album “Doom II” as a self release on May 31st, 2020.

In their press release, it’s stated that this album is about a plague that is born at sea, which makes it to land, to a village that hopes its story will not be forgotten.

This album is simply a masterpiece! From beginning to end, I absolutely love the story it tells. The instrumentation is perfect, and really carries a story of its own! The vocals are filled with emotions of both pain and hope.

To me, this album reminds us that even in the darkest of times, we need to have hope and try to survive even the hardest of plagues.

On This Black Ocean
This album opens up out on the dark ocean. Drums and guitars start off this dirge like track, followed by just bass and vocals. This track is more down tempo, but that doesn’t take away from the power behind the vocals, instrumentation and emotion. 

To me, while this song is about the beginnings of a plague at sea, it can also refer to the plague of a life without hope. When we go through life without hope, we very easily become “another blind ship in the fog”. 

“Alas, another blind ship in the fog
Starboard – it’s too late
There’s no one living

On that vessel
A mirage of life
Was all it was
A trick born of hope
On this black ocean”

I Hope Their Prayers Aren’t Answered
This 11-minute plus track opens up with more of a black metal sound, with heart pounding drums and a lot of speed/tremolo picking on the guitars. After about a minute, the atmosphere completely changes into more of a dirge like feel, which is where it stays for the remainder of the track.

At 3:12, all instruments pull back and we get just keys with a very low and eerie chord progression.

At 4:40, there’s a really interesting section, both instrumentally and vocally. I almost feel as though I’m listening to jazz-like acoustic guitars during this, and it’s a nice atmosphere with the vocals. And the vocal range is really shown as well.

At 7:01, the drums and guitars starts picking up again to bring back that dirge like atmosphere.

The music ends at 9:17, but is followed by sounds of a creaking empty ship with low growling like winds blowing in the background.

“Now they throw themselves
Men overboard
Women overboard
Children overboard”

This track was hard to listen to while reading the lyrics. Such sadness and hurt throughout. With the global pandemic happening right now, there are a lot of correlations lyrically. I think of the many lives of men, women and children that have been effected. I’ve read stories of adults and teens who have taken their own lives due to the isolation of quarantines. A good friend of mine was going through a separation during this whole thing and unable to find work, so he took his on life.

Doom II
The plague makes its way to land! This track starts with just a cymbal, low keys and some occasional drums. Then the vocals come in with strings, which really add to the atmosphere, and I really enjoy the stings throughout this track.

The guitars come in strong at 2:12, but at 3:12 everything pulls back into a lighter, almost soft jazz like acoustic atmosphere. This only lasts a moment until the distorted guitars follow back in.

There’s also a really nice guitar solo at 6:42 which goes through to the end. 

“They brought all the dead into town
The dead want to be found

But none’s more selfish than a dead man
Who wants to be remembered
After three days
The wails in the night began
A murder here
A murder there
We called it doom
We knew it was too late”

For me, this song can refer to the plague of hatred as well. Hatred kills and spreads like a plague.

Worse With Time
This track kinda reminds me a bit of Tool. It opens with synth pads, which create this somber atmosphere, soon to be met by distorted power chords.

Lyrically, this song is kind of a continuation of the previous track. Plagues, no matter what kind, get worse with time. What we do with our time is so important because time is fleeting. Before we know it, we’ll be at our end. What will we have to show for it? Will we be remembered for succumbing to the plague without a fight, or for standing up and fighting against it until the very end?

“Everything I once knew
Everyone I once knew
Is fading away
Like we were never here
We sent a rider with our history
But there was pursuit
And we lost sight at the horizon“

Who Were You Before All This
This track opens with synth pads and keys for about 1:15, then vocals come in along with distorted guitars and drums. We also get a blast beat about half way through this track!

This track, to me, is about how when it comes to the end, we’re all the same. Mothers, fathers, rich bankers, poor farmers, smiths and the like. When we get to the end, is it going to matter how rich we were? Or is it going to be about what we did with our time and did we stand up to the plagues in our lives? Right before your end, who were you?

“Take this father
Then take this banker
The farmer and the rich
They pile up all the same

Catch fire
And sweeten the air
‘Tis them
Who lost humanity”

An Ending
The final track! This track opens right away with distorted, dirge like guitars. From 2:44-4:44, everything pulls way back creating a very light atmosphere. I really like the vocals here during this pulled back section.

Will the plague be our ending? Or will we rise up to defeat the plague?

“And these are my last words
Spoken from another place
Between two worlds
In a deep dark void
There’s nothing left for me
To see, hear, or feel
Nothing here begins again“

Verdict
This album is amazing! Truly a masterpiece! The vocals are simply amazing with very nice range and emotion throughout. The instrumentation is just perfect.

To me, while this album is about a plague out on the sea, that plague symbolizes so much in real life. Hatred, anger, resentment, selfishness, racism, a lack of hope and so much more. We can rise above these plagues, and that’s why to me personally, this album is just as much about hope as it is about the plagues.

I give this album a 4.9 out of 5!

If you haven’t heard “Doom II” by Witnesses yet, you’re missing out! Please give it a listen!

Review of ‘Darkness’ by Stitched Up Heart


Review by Joshua Becker | June 30, 2020

Stitched Up Heart is a rock band originating from Los Angeles, California, and founded by Alecia “Mixi” Demner. Their latest album “Darkness” was released on Friday, March 13th, 2020.

Upon listening to the album, it seems be a nice mix of rock, and some industrial metal elements, with the electronic sounds in the background. Even though the band is labeled “rock”, it seems like they may have experimented with some industrial metal, given the heavy presence of electronic sounds throughout the tracks.

Another thing I am noticing about the album, is it kind of reminds me a bit of Paramore, and has a bit of a punk rock element to it as well. Lyrically, a lot of the lyrics from the album are very dark, and suggest a struggle, whether internal or external.

I get the feeling “Mixi” may have went through some very dark times during the song-writer process that inspired the somber lyrics. The first three tracks of the album, I get the sense of an inner struggle “Mixi” is doing what she can to face.

When we get to “Warrior”, it sounds like she has finally started to piece things together, and even build up the strength to know her worth and fight the good fight.

“I’m a warrior, and I know what I’m fighting for”. This line reiterates what I mentioned earlier: she has found her strength and knows how to use it.

In “Dead Roses” there is a line of the song “you can’t break a heart that’s already broken”.

This tells the listener “Mixi” has been through some shit, and it’s almost as if she’s saying “you can’t hurt me anymore, I have been down more than you can imagine, and what you are doing, or trying to do won’t make any difference to me.”

The next track “Crooked Halo” is very harrowing, with lyrics like

“I saw you making eyes, you don’t want none of this
I’m a one way ticket to a sinking ship
You can march to the beat of my awful symphony”

Why does it seem like “Mixi” is suggesting that she is a disaster and you should avoid her or you’ll regret it the rest of your days?  There seems to be a lot of deep pain being reflected in this track, and it is extremely disheartening.

Finishing off the album, we get to “My Demon”.
This would have to be the darkest most metal-sounding track on the album.
One of the lines in the song really speaks to the vibe of the whole album.

“I become one with my demon
Let the beast outside of my mind
I become one with my demon
My dark side keeps me alive”

Suggesting to me that through her journey (the album), “Mixi” has fought with herself, and fought with others, and she has become one with her demon (possibly herself and her experiences).

In terms of an overall, this was a very interesting listen, and it definitely stands out from a lot of other rock/metal albums I have listened to before.

I want to give this album a 5/5.

The composition and lyrics are very dark, and very telling of pain, of emotion, of anguish, so many multi-faceted emotions throughout. The production sounds great, the mixing and mastering sound very professional, and you don’t have any tracks where the singing gets washed out by the instruments, or vice-versa.

I am very impressed; great work!