Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Gamut is moving!!!

And now for a MAJOR announcement for The Gamut - the show is moving!  Not only is The Gamut moving to Wednesday nights, but it's also moving to Sanctus Gladius Radio!  That's right - The Gamut is to have a new home after 3 years of broadcasting on Blabber Jesus/Untombed Radio!  Thanks to BJR/Untombed for the years of fun and music, but it's time to make the move!  The show will stay in the 9 PM EST to midnight slot, but will now be on Wednesday evenings!  Not only that, but The Gamut is getting a new logo!  More to come, and an official announcement of when the show starts up again will be forthcoming - stay tuned!!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Dalit - Dalit (2009)

Very few bands can truly embrace both real melodic sensibility and oppressive atmosphere and heaviness at the same time.  Usually, a fair degree of either element is sacrificed in favor of the other.  Bands that are oppressively dark and heavy usually focus less on the melodic side of things, while bands focusing on melody usually lose some of the aggression or heavier atmosphere in the process.  When a band can combine both elements successfully, the results can be quite a treat.  That's not to say that the combination must represent the pinnacle of melodicism while also representing the pinnacle of oppressive atmosphere and heaviness.  That would be too much to ask, even for masters of the craft.  But certainly striking a balance between the two elements while both still being present and evident in the mix is an achievement unto itself.

Dalit accomplish this balance with their eponymous debut.  The band plays a melodic form of extreme doom metal, much in the same vein as early material by doom stalwarts My Dying Bride, or at times like the heavier material of My Silent Wake from the UK.  Dalit are not mere clones, however: their style is familiar, but the band has their own take on the doom metal atmosphere and heaviness.  It's difficult to label specifically, other than to say it follows the conventions of other doom bands that go for a sound less influenced by traditional doom bands like St. Vitus and Candlemass, and more influenced by the gothic doom sounds of early Paradise Lost.  Either way, Dalit creates a solid atmosphere peppered with melodic lines and interesting things going on, even within the somewhat purposefully minimalist constructs of doom metal.

What is easy to pin-point is that the band is already adept at making highly listenable yet heavy doom metal.  Guitars ring out here with style, crunching with low-end heaviness when they need to, and singing forth in glorious high notes and harmonic resonance at other times.  The layered guitar sounds work well, with underlying riffs powering the songs while melodic lines are played atop that base to great effect.  In several spots there are also clean guitar sounds that complement the distorted guitar sound well.  Bass guitar rumbles nicely underneath - not flashy, but competent and on-point.  Drum work is mixed interestingly here: bass drum sounds thump underneath and cymbals crash and ring nicely, though a bit low in the mix at times.  Snare sounds good, though not too punchy.  Vocals sit in the mix at a nice spot - not too loud to overpower the instrumentation, but not so low in the mix that they can't be heard or understood.  Vocalizations are generally in the "death growl" space, though there are a few clean female vocals here and there which sound great.  They're not the over-done sub-standard female gothic vocals either; they have a bit more personality  than you might think.  There are a couple spoken word voice samples used on the album as well, which is a nice touch.  "Silent Genocide" also includes a distorted vocal sound which also sounds cool over the music.

I took this CD with me on a business trip out of town and literally spun the thing constantly the entire week.  I would guess I probably listened to the CD all the way through while in and out of the car some 30-40 times during the course of that week.  I never got tired of it, either as background music, or as something I was intently listening to.  I have since plugged it into my car stereo or at the office for listens on repeat and it works well as music that can be easily engaged in, but also serves as excellent background music.  This is a nice touch as well, because some music demands 100% of your attention, and some is content to play as a soundtrack to your life.  This falls somewhere in between and is quite capable of being in either space.

What's not to like?  At first blush, I was disappointed that this wasn't more crushingly heavy.  I wanted something to pummel me over the head like Paramaecium's debut "Exhumed From the Earth" did.  But then that was an entirely different animal - a doomy death metal band versus this straight up heavier doom metal.  Having softened on that initial viewpoint, my main concerns now are that the drums are mixed a bit too low.  Given that the album is released on Endtime Productions via Sam Durling (mastermind of percussive industrial entity Mental Destruction) to mix the drums that low is a bit of a mystery, considering the bread and butter of his own former project was percussion.  In some ways I wish the album, though it works well as just under 40 minutes.  At that length, this is just screaming for a vinyl issue.  There was supposed to have been a Dalit 7" release, but to my knowledge it has never materialized.  This would be a treat to own and hear on vinyl, as the overall warmth of the album (curious, given it's chosen genre) would benefit nicely from this format.  As it stands, it's available in 2 CD flavors: the standard jewel case version, and a digipak with alternate artwork.  If you're a fan of deathy doom metal, this is an album you likely already know about or have in your collection.  If not, this probably isn't the best place to start, but you can certainly do a lot worse than Dalit, and this fine debut shows the band already skilled enough to make their mark.  Recommended.


My Modern 7 Inch vinyl collection

Here's a smattering of different 7" record releases that I own - enjoy!

My Facedown Records vinyl collection

Here's what I have so far from Facedown Records pressed to vinyl!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Artist Spotlight - Mad At The World

It may seem old-fashioned or even kind of goofy now, but the expression "mad at the world" was at one point a perfectly reasonable thing to say when you were frustrated.  Nowadays it's all f-bombs and histrionics, with everyone scrambling to outdo everyone else's expressions of frustration and anguish.  But you don't have to scream at the top of your lungs to be heard, nor do you need to pepper lyrics with expletives to get the attention of those who might benefit from your stated position and/or message.  It helps sometimes, but taking the high road is usually the best way of communicating these things to your audience, because in the long run, the short-lived attention getting techniques may only serve to later alienate the audience as they age, so the impact you may have once had will be lost.  Avoiding these kinds of pitfalls will ensure a more lasting, positive impact on the crowd who may be listening to you.

Such is the case with Mad At The World, who came out in the late 1980's with a new sound (for "Christian music" anyway), a bit of a fresh perspective, and a decidedly intelligent lyrical bent that expressed the disenfranchisement and detachment some people felt with the world at large, in a way that would have both immediate impact, as well as leaving a lasting impression.  In the years that followed, MATW (as they shall heretofore be known) changed their game (more than once) and took on dark subject matter from a vantage point of exposing those things and shining upon them with truth and light so as to warn listeners of societal and spiritual pitfalls, as well as being frank about things that some folks weren't entirely comfortable being frank about.  It is this blatant honesty and vulnerability that made MATW so endearing to listeners, and why so many years later they are still held in such high regard.  The fact that their music (regardless of what genre they were taking on) is great certainly helps as well.

MATW started out in 1987 when Roger Rose began composing music and recorded a demo tape that landed in the hands of a Frontline Records executive.  Roger's tape was impressive enough to garner him a record deal, and he then set out recording the eponymous debut album with younger brother Randy, and guitarist/bassist Mike Pendleton in tow on several tracks.  Initially, the style was a very Depeche Mode-esque synth/dance pop with a melancholy bent and a very serious lyrical direction.  This was not to be bubble gum pop music, but real thoughtful pop with weight and meaning to it.  The debut was released in 1987 to critical acclaim among the CCM press, and fans of the synthpop style ate it up.  The 2nd release, "Flowers in the Rain", saw the group incorporating more traditional instrumentation beyond the synthpop base they started out with, so there were more drums and guitar on the record, as well as more rock-oriented songs and arrangements than before.  Indeed, the last track on the album "Dancing On Your Grave" (with the first lead vocal by Randy Rose) signaled the coming change to a more hard rock direction.

The 3rd release, 1990's "Seasons of Love", showed the band shifting entirely toward an alternative/hard rock style, complete with an acoustic ballad, several hard rocking tracks, and more blues-influenced arrangements.  This album also included 2 tracks with Randy on vocals, giving him more opportunities to show his talent as not only the band's drummer, but also as a vocalist with a decidedly grittier approach than Roger's more smooth vocal sound.  The 4th album, "Boomerang" (1991) took the hard rock sound full-on, sporting even harder tracks and more straight-ahead rock arrangements than ever before.  This album included more tracks with Randy on vocals, and the band's most controversial track, "Isn't Sex a Wonderful Thing?", which posed the question that if God created sex, shouldn't it be a wonderful thing?  Unfortunately, as the lyrics explore, it's not always wonderful when used out of the context of a marriage relationship, as the examples of misuse of sex provided by the song will attest to.  1992 saw the band's 5th album "Through the Forest", often considered the best by fans of the group.  This saw a continuation of the alternative hard rock sound from the previous 2 albums, but had an overall darker tone with punchier songs and arrangements, as well as material that was a bit more exploratory in nature with other stylistic elements included for great effect.  One particular highlight was "M.A.T.W. (Reprise)" which was a driving hard rock remake of the band's eponymous track from the debut album.  The final track on the album, "If I Can Dream" is a cover  of an Elvis song, and a stylistic departure from the rest of the material, signalling another change in direction.  Also departing were Mike Pendleton and guitarist Brent Gordon.

"The Ferris Wheel", released in 1993, saw the band moving away from the hard rock of the previous 3 releases into a more alternative pop-rock (or power-pop) direction, concentrating less on muscular guitar-driven songs and more on pop and rock arrangements, with a decidedly less "tough" sound, reminiscent of mid-period Beatles music in many respects.  While Randy continued to explore a heavier hard rock/metal sound in his band Rose, he was lock-step in MATW with more mellow tunes on this disc as well that he wrote and sang.  Randy also brought in 2 members of his solo band, Ben Jacobs on guitar and Mike Link on bass to round out the line-up.  Coming some 2 years after that was the band's final studio album, "The Dreamland Cafe", which featured an even greater emphasis on Beatlesque power-pop than before, as well as tinges of light psychedelia.  Some of the material, according to interviews, was played entirely by Roger Rose.    Though this was the last studio album the band recorded, they remained active in some fashion until 1998 when they officially called it quits.  Randy continued making solo music for a time (under the new Mothership moniker), and Roger disappeared from the music industry limelight.  1998 also saw the release of "World History", a somewhat uneven compilation album of tracks from the band's 1st 6 albums - curiously, their final album is not represented on the release at all.  Also curious is that the compilation steers toward the more mellow side of the band, though a couple harder rock tracks are included, rather than exploring all facets of the band's sound.

The band's impact is difficult to quantify, because they were a small fish in a small pond, in the sense that they didn't sell a lot of albums, and were probably more critical darlings than a band with a large fanbase.  Still, their influence can be heard throughout popular Christian music over the following decade and then some.  Synthpop duo House Of Wires covered the song "Mad At The World" on their 2nd album "Monogamy", and many bands from a number of genres have expressed both respect for and love of the music of MATW.  Some other bands respect what MATW accomplished musically and lyrically, even if they aren't necessarily fans of MATW's music.  Either way, Roger and Randy Rose (and the other various members of MATW through the years) have made an impact on the rock music world with their songs and their hearts worn decidedly on their sleeves.  I salute MATW for their creative approach, their lack of fear in changing things up when they felt called to do so, and for the wealth of great music they have released.

Monolith - Monolith (2010)

It's a sad thing when talent goes under the radar due to lack of exposure or an over-crowded art scene.  All too often, talented musicians go unnoticed because the ones that hog the limelight, though often talented themselves, are taking up too much of the public consciousness.  It's not the popular artist's fault most of the time, because that's just how things work out based on promotion, and being in the right place at the right time.  At least in current times, with the advent of the Internet for self-promotion and distribution, it's possible to overcome that in small measures.  I'm hopeful that Monolith seizes the opportunity to do so, because there's a definite talent at work here.

Monolith is a 3-piece band based out of Ontario, Canada.  They play a highly melodic, symphonic style of extreme metal.  While this kind of thing isn't new by any means, the way the band executes their particular brand of symphonic extreme metal is interesting and highly listenable.  Some bands of this style get bogged down in overblown arrangements, lack of songwriting ability, or too heavy a slant in one direction or another (in terms of how they balance the elements of their style).  Monolith suffers from none of these shortcomings, and their debut shows they not only have great command of the style, but the songwriting is quite adept, showing maturity in melodic sensibility, arrangement, and balancing the heaviness required for this style with the catchiness one might expect from a band far less heavy in sound.  The 12 tracks contained herein represent a very strong debut album that puts the band in a very good spot to get their name out there among the bigger names in the industry.

At its core, the Monolith sound is constructed of melodic death metal, but it's really so much more than that.  Indeed, there are times here when their sound barely meets the requirements of said style, while other times they embrace those aesthetics and capture that sound more completely.  The symphonic elements put the band above and beyond many in the "melodeath" camp by giving such a layered feel to the material that many melodic death metal bands simply can't match in terms of sheer melodicism and "fullness" of the sound.  The bands use of dynamics is also strong here, knowing when to fully pummel the listener with heaviness and aural intensity, and when to pull back to sparser riffs and arrangements to let the songs "breathe" a bit, giving the listener a more varied experience.  This maturity in songwriting is at once surprising and refreshing, given the short list of recognizable bands these guys have been in.

Guitar work here by Colin Parrish is excellent, with chunky riffing, melodic solo work, dual-guitar leads sprinkled throughout, and plenty of catchy melodic lines.  While Colin isn't the finest guitarist in the scene, he does a good job of showcasing his talent for melodicism and his knack for driving riffs that help propel the songs forward.  Drumming by Colin Nafziger is quite good, with mostly sub-blastbeat drumming and some interesting fills and things going on here and there.  Double-bass work isn't flashy, but is appropriate for the songs, and his sense of implementing drum fills and rhythms that fit into the songs is on display here.  Bass by Mike Gallant is also strong, with a bit more presence in the mix besides just being backbeat.  Bass guitar isn't as instantly audible as in some less "dense" metal, but he does a good job of providing the necessary "weight" underneath the guitar, and complementing the songs while not showboating.  Colinl Parrish also provides all the keyboard work and symphonic elements.  These bits contrast each other nicely by having very overt, obvious keyboard sounds alongside synthesized-yet-realistic symphonic elements.  This contrast works well most of the time and provides an interesting element more bands should consider exploring.  Vocal work is two-fold here: bassist Mike Gallant provides all the "harsh" vocals, while guitarist Colin Parrish provides the cleanly sung melodic vocals.  Unlike Christian Ã„lvestam (Miseration, ex-Scar Symmetry), Colin's clean vocals aren't the passion-filled wails one might expect, but are a carefully honed "effected" vocal that employs an interesting "tunnel" effect while smoothing out the sound.  It's not an autotune vocal sound, but it does have a very mechanical feel to it.  Colin also double-tracks the clean vocals at time to great effect.  Nothing I say can accurately describe the music, however.  I'd recommend listening to samples via the band's Myspace page to truly get an idea of what they're doing.

The only real knocks I have about the album are that Colin's clean vocals can get a touch monotonous, even though his highly stylized approach works well for the music.  Also, the drums have plenty of power behind them, but they sound 100% triggered.  Nothing wrong with that per se, but I would love to hear what Mr. Nafziger could do with a totally acoustic kit in the studio and what that might produce.  I'd also like to hear Parrish flex his guitar muscle a bit more and increase the complexity of his solos a touch and do more of that in general, though not to the point where it interrupts the tasteful flow of the songs.  I think the band strikes a good balance between metal aggression and melodic flair, and I think given more time, their catchy songwriting could develop even further to make an album that will do more than fly under the radar like this excellent CD has.

Some may be unaware of the rough road this album has had getting out into the music world.  The band had recorded this material in 2009 and I actually had an advance digital copy to use for my radio show, and I interviewed Colin Parrish at that time to get the skinny on the band.  At that time they were freshly signed w/ Bombworks Records and working toward a CD release.  Unfortunately that deal fell through and it never materialized, so the band released the CD independently.  I applaud them for their determination to do so, because the album not only sounds fantastic (excellent production!), but the complete CD package is also nice with easy to read lyrics and a nice booklet.  If you're not a digital-only person and you like having the physical product in hand like I do, this is one to have to show the quality of what an indie release can be.  All in all, this is a high quality metal release that should please fans of melodic death metal, metalcore, possibly deathcore fans (those of more melodic persuasion), and "extreme metal" fans in general should get a kick out of this.  Highly recommended.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Omar Domkus - Shades Of a Shadow (2010)

I'm a rock and roll kinda guy.  Don't get me wrong, I love music in all its various forms, and appreciate nearly every time of musical expression.  But one look at my cassette, vinyl, and CD collection will tell you that my musical interests lie primarily in the form of rock, hard rock, punk and all forms of heavy metal.  That said, I do consider myself to have fairly broad taste in music, and I enjoy diversions from "rock music" often.  Most frequently this is in the form of either electronic music or what is classified (often erroneously) as "new age", i.e. Mannheim Steamroller or Checkfield.  Sometimes, however, other diversions strike me just as much and I end up enjoying them immensely.  Such is the case with Omar Domkus' "Shades of a Shadow" album.

For those of my readers also of the rock persuasion, the name Omar Domkus might sound familiar, and it should.  He was the bassist for the once prominent goth-punk powerhouse Scaterd Few, alongside brother Ramald Domkus, now christened simply Allan Aguirre.  Scaterd Few's debut "Sin Disease" had a HUGE impact upon its release, at least in circles of such familiarity.  I myself own an original CD copy of said album and enjoy it a lot.  Subsequent albums were quality, if not missing that visceral feeling and energy that the debut possessed.  If you're expecting anything near the punk rock assault of Scaterd Few, you'll be sorely disappointed.  Open your mind, however, and you're in for a real treat.

"Shades of a Shadow" is by all accounts a bass guitar album.  Not in the sense that it's nothing but bass guitar, but as a bassist (fretless, at that), Omar propels and dominates the album as necessary.  There is plenty of other varied instrumentation on here, from "world music" styled drum work to ambient keyboards, jazz horns, layered guitar, acoustic guitar, and so on.  But by and large, Omar's bass work is what defines this CD at the "base" level (sorry, pun intended).  And that's a good thing from where I sit, because bass guitar is often the forgotten element on rock and metal records, the back-seat driver who rarely gets a word in edge-wise, content usually to plunk along with the drums to help propel the music.  But here, Omar gets to showcase his talent for melody, his playing ability, his songwriting skill, and his overall command of the instrument.

The thing that strikes me (in a good way) immediately about this CD is its diversity.  The opening track is an unassuming ambient piece, dominated by dreamy keyboard sounds, while "Tianenman Square" is a full-on female-vocal alternative music piece with a lush harmony and guitar sound.  "Little Man" is an almost folk-like acoustic guitar number that sounds like a New York City street jam, and "Baroque" is an interesting diversion into muted horn work and interesting minor key bass/drum interplay while "Rejoice in the Dance" is a cool lounge jazz number.  Most of the rest of the material follows a bit more common thread, being bass driven songs lightly flavored in a "world music" kind of vibe, but probably not fitting 100% into that mold or description.  These tracks are interspersed with vocal work (by Omar), while some remain totally instrumental.  This variety of material and the way the album flows from track to track is part of the success of the release - Omar has enough variety here to keep things fresh, and the tracks that deviate from the common formula are sprinkled into the track order perfectly to break up the monotony (so to speak) and add a little spice to the proceedings.  He couldn't have chosen the track order any more perfectly if he tried.

The instrumental work here is great - Omar's bass is, of course, in top form, with a lot of chording and interesting things going on, as well as plenty of sliding up and down the neck to accentuate that aspect of playing fretless bass.  Drum work is tasteful and well done, with the appropriate amount of drive when needed, as well as being sparse when the song calls for it.  Guitar work in various forms all sounds good, especially on the aforementioned "Tianenman Square".  Horns come off nicely with that classic muted sound, and in spots are either piercing or calming, effectively evoking the right flavor.  Keyboard work is also good, though less present after the first few tracks, though it is generally also tasteful and well done.  Omar as a vocalist is better than I expected - he sings well, on-key, and has the right kind of voice for this type of project.  It's a very "real" sounding voice, with no unnecessary inflection or bravado.  It's just a man singing from the heart, and that's refreshing.

This kind of album is hard for me to "rate" accurately, because this is not the kind of music I listen to frequently.  I must say, however, that after Omar sent me this CD I took it on a work trip with me.  I was out of town for a whole week on business, and about half-way through the 8 1/2 hour drive to my destination I popped this CD in and started listening to it.  I only took the CD out of the player once during the week to play a couple other CDs during a long drive on a busy evening during a major snowfall.  Otherwise, I listened to this CD basically all week long in the car.  In total, I probably spun it well over 20 times during that span, and I wasn't tired of it.  I occasionally get the melody for "Tianenman Square", "Little Man", "Aishes Chayil" or "Looking Darkly Through a Mirror" stuck in my head, and I still pull this CD out nearly a year later and play it semi-frequently when I am in a mellow mood.  To me, that speaks to the quality of the overall package.

I must conclude this review with an apology to Mr. Domkus for my tardiness in writing this review.  I had hoped to write the review during that week of being away, which was my initial reason for spinning it so many times.  However, with the frequent listens and my inexperience with this style of music I held off until I could put my thoughts into words more eloquently.  While I'm not sure I have done that, I feel confident that I have at least said good things about the release.  There are some tracks here that are probably "filler" in the classic sense, because there are a few slightly redundant melodic lines throughout, but overall this is a strong release.  Take my rating below with a grain of salt and understand that it's more a personal barometer for me than a true rating of its quality.  I enjoy this CD and I think anyone who enjoys mellow stylings and appreciates the bass guitar would enjoy listening to this disc.  Recommended.


Theocracy - As The World Bleeds (2011)

Heavy metal fans can be a persnickety bunch, often being overly sensitive about genre boundaries or what category a particular band or album fits into.  If there's too much influence or sound borrowed from an outside style, or too many "unmetal" elements injected into the style, it often becomes the death knell for a band trying to gain crossover appeal between metal fans and rock fans in general.  Metal bands often have to walk a slippery slope between artistic integrity and pleasing their fanbase.  Steer too far away from your metal roots and you're branded a traitor.  Don't inject enough "freshness" into your sound or music and after a couple albums you run the risk of being a "stale, washed up has-been" in the metal scene.

Thankfully, Theocracy doesn't have to deal with either question.  They are a metal band through to their very core, as their 3 albums will attest to.  And each album has been a different experience from the others, offering different elements and feeling while retaining the same basic metal constructs that fans have come to expect.  With this, their 3rd album release, we get a further development of the Theocracy sound.  For the genre-specific out there, this band falls squarely in the "Progressive Power Metal" category, but to tag them merely as such does this band a grave injustice.  Theocracy have to be heard to be believed, and their music transcends the basic category it falls into because of just how well it's written, performed, and just executed overall.

In a bit of turnabout from 2008's "Mirror of Souls", "As the World Bleeds" sees the band beginning the proceedings with the longest song of the album, the epic opener "I AM".  This song perfectly encapsulates everything this band is about: it's brimming with catchy melodies, contains both quiet moments and driving metal, is passionate and anthemic, and takes the listener on a journey while listening.  As you listen through the rest of the album, you get much of the same in varying degrees - not every song is nearly as epic as the opening track, but the variety the album presents in tempo, melodic feel, heaviness, etc. is part of what keeps Theocracy albums so captivating from beginning to end.  The songwriting is also a big part of what makes this record such a winner.  In this regard, "As the World Bleeds" is quite possibly their strongest record.  "Mirror of Souls" had a lot of heavy-hitter tracks which really showed what the band could do, but a couple of the tracks were a touch less memorable after multiple listens. I have spun this CD numerous times so far and have not tired of the material at all.  While some songs tend to blend together a touch more than those on "Mirror of Souls", the overall strength of the album as a whole outweighs this minor shortcoming.

As expected, the instrumentation on this album is fantastic.  With Matt Smith moving full-on into the role of vocalist, one might expect this album to sound a lot different than previous Theocracy releases in terms of style and presentation, but it really is consistent with what has come before in terms of songwriting approach and quality.  Guitars still ring through the speakers with sufficient crunch and authority, and solo work is as good here as it has been.  In some ways, the guitar solo work is a step up from the previous album as there is more of it here and it is more varied an interesting.  Bass guitar adds nice weight underneath and while not being overly flashy, is well played and a good compliment.  Drum work is as good as ever with on-point double bass work and the right balance of speed and precision with dynamics and range when called for.  Keyboards sound great here, encompassing a number of different sounds and adding plenty of texture to the overall presentation.  Matt Smith's vocals are in fine form here, as strong as he was on "Mirror of Souls" and perhaps even a half-notch above that album in terms of his overall vocal use.  He really pushes himself here both in terms of the use of his upper range, as well as his overall versatility and dynamic range.

What more needs to be said?  This is a strong contender for me for "Metal Album Of The Year" if such an award existed in my little world.  The year isn't over yet, and there is at least one other hotly anticipated album I haven't heard yet that could rival this for sheer quality and presentation, but either way, Theocracy delivers again in spades with this release.  If you are one of the few who didn't get into "Mirror of Souls" because of the epic 22-minute suite at the end, give this album a fair shake.  I think you'll find the consistency of songwriting and quality of material to be welcome, and the immaculate performances here are some of the best you'll hear in metal music this year.  If you're in any way a fan (casual or hardcore) of progressive rock and/or metal, you won't want to miss this one.  Essential.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Modern Vinyl Releases From My Collection

I define "modern" vinyl as anything post-1991, since that's the year that US-based record companies really dropped out of the mainstream vinyl market and started focusing almost solely on cassettes and CDs.  Vinyl never left completely, but it stopped being available en masse at every corner music store.  Records covered here:

  • Luscious Jackson - In Search of Manny EP
  • Circle One - Patterns of Force re-issue
  • Grave Robber - Be Afraid
  • Grave Robber - Inner Sanctum
  • Grave Robber - Exhumed
  • Theocracy - Mirror of Souls picture disc
  • My Silent Wake - A Garland of Tears black/red special edition

Tourniquet Vinyl Re-Issues!

Just a few thoughts on the recent re-issues of the 1st 2 Tourniquet albums by Vinyl Remains:

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Gamut is taking a short Christmas season break!

The Gamut will be taking a short break during the Christmas season.  With Christmas Day and New Year's Day both falling on Sundays, plus work commitments and family Christmas celebrations, I'm just swamped during the month of December!  The Gamut will return in January with a renewed sense of purpose and hopefully more surprises in store for all of you!  I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!