Instrumentality

Good day all,

As I sit here and listen to the EPs of the band Vasquez I can’t help but be astonished of their ability to make what is basically noise and turn it into an outstanding display of musicianship and music. As I listen to these songs I try to isolate certain sounds so I can understand what they would sound like alone. In a particular song Vasquez drummer Jon Adams hits the cymbal in a constant strike that by itself sounds like noise. The type of noise that my 4-year-old son makes on his drum set. But together with the music of Ciaran Mckenna and Sean Quinn a remarkable and beautiful song is created. This type of talent floors me!

I think I am also a little more impressed by how instrumental bands create music more than bands who use singers. One reason is it seems when you are using a singer and are writing a song you are telling a story and the lyrics can be created before the music or vice versa, or they can both be created together but an instrumental band has to be able to tell the story without the words, only the music. Maybe instrumental bands write the lyrics only to discard them after they have a firm grip on the story and use their ability to let it flow from the instruments in a coherent form. I don’t know, maybe someone can tell me.

I also think that writing an instrumental piece as a bridge or segway for an album with songs that have vocals is different from an instrumental album. Like I said an instrumental song could be an intro, outro, bridge to a story that the band is telling and that non-vocal song fits the mood. However, an instrumental band has to be able to tell the story with their music alone and that to me seems like a daunting task. I can barely keep two coherent thoughts together writing this post let alone a whole album of songs that work so well together without any words. 

I personally do not listen to a lot of instrumental only music, I am someone who needs lyrics so that I can follow and understand what and artist or group is telling me but I have found that I get lost in Vasquez’s music and sometimes can’t pull myself out. I have had similar experiences with bands in my past that seem to make more instrumental music than vocal, but it seems that a majority of these artists were solo artists and it was their personal vision they where sharing with the instrumental songs. Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Johnson, Kenny Wayne Shepherd to name just a few. When these guys play an instrumental song it gets my attention, and yes I do realize that they are all guitar virtuosos as well, not many drummer led instrumental bands.

But I guess the thing is that if you can make me care and understand what you are doing with a song and make me feel as if I am part of the song,  you are doing what you set out to do. Vasquez did that to me today and the other artists I have mentioned have done it to me in the past. It seems a unique thing to create an extraordinary song without lyrics that makes people feel something that they wouldn’t ordinarily feel. I know that this is a majority of classical music but I am talking about our favorite genres here, to me it is important to give those who create great stories without words a bit of my attention and gratitude. If you don’t listen to instrumental metal or hard rock you should really give it a try! I think like me that you will be mighty impressed with what you here and how the story is told.

Know I have to look into this whole Black Metal Instrumental thing…

Until Later, Peace!

Lurch

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Friday Four Pack 02-22-13

Good day all,

It is once again that time for the Friday Four Pack! Sorry about last week but computer issues impacted my ability to not only get the post written but to actually post it in a reasonable time. But it is OK because I am back and I have some leftovers from last week. So it is not like you missed anything. As always, I hope you enjoy today’s installment of the ALL MIGHTY FRIDAY FOUR PACK!

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Mothership:  Mothership

True story: I was sitting in my house last week listening to this new album from Mothership and I thought to myself “Self, this band would be a great compliment to Gypsyhawk on a tour.” And what happened next? I know you won’t believe this, but I checked out my Twitter timeline and there it was, a Tweet from Gypsyhawk announcing their upcoming tour, and who is the support for this tour? Mothership! I swear on a stack of bibles (both holy and unholy if necessary) that this is a true story.

 But outside of my amazing prognostication let’s talk about Mothership and their fun and reasonably strong new album. This self titled musical fare is a fun stoner album that allows the band to really work within their southern rock roots and that is one of the better things about this album. They allow that influence from southern rock’s past to help lead and guide this album without depending directly on that influence. There is enough originality and individuality within the songs and the band that this isn’t a bunch of left over songs from Lynyrd Skynyrd but some fun and rocking songs that allow for the band to showcase some originality and songwriting strength. If I have one issue with this album is that they sometimes get to far into jam band mode and the result is a bit sloppy but not enough to not recommend this album to fans of Gypsyhawk and the stoner/trad metal set.

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Suffocation: Pinnacle of Bedlam

A fact I have not hidden in past reviews is that I am not the biggest fan of death metal yet when something comes out that is absolutely worthy of praise I am not afraid to pile it on. That is what we have with the new Suffocation album; this is a solid death metal album to the highest level and at this time the best death metal album so far this year, yes, I know it is only February. The biggest thing that I like about this album is how incredible the musicianship is for this type of music. This is not technical death metal but plain old, old-school death metal in the vein that would make Chuck Schuldiner proud.

The guitars on this album are non-stop but the solos are taught and to the point with some various timing changes that make for a more interesting listen. Another reason I have never been a big fan of death metal is because of the vocals, I like to know what a vocalist is singing about and I also like to sing along but in death metal that is hard to find. Frank Mullen’s vocals, both understandable and greatly enunciated allow me to be more a part of the music without having to dig for the lyrics to understand what I am hearing. Suffocation has been one of the best bands in this regard in death metal, Aeon being a band that has taken a similar approach. I can honestly say that I would recommend this album to all of my death metal friends, although they don’t need me to tell them about Suffocation, as well as those who have even an inkling of interest into death metal. This is the band that you start with and more than likely you will be spoiled. Plus the album cover is sick cool! 

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Manilla Road: Mysterium

The 16th album from this band is a bit of an enigma to me. I really want to like it and the mix of NWOBHM, speed metal, traditional American metal is right up my alley but there is something about this album that doesn’t stick with me. The songwriting is strong but I think that the vocals are solid but to me, and to me alone, I just don’t feel that they fit with the music as much as they have in the past. This album musically is also a bit of a bore, it doesn’t seem to go anywhere outside of the scope of the individual genre that each song seems to fit into. As far as I can tell with my listens, these are just rehashes of old and used up riffs, melodies, and solos. The ballad “The Battle of Bonchester Bridge” starts off as a Judas Priest Stained Class intro into a Skid Row I’ll Remember you/18 and Life solo and guitar fills. Normally a good thing, but in this case a bit out of place for the subject matter of this album. This band has not made it very far out of the underground of metal and I am sure that they are happy being the masters of that domain, and this release is not going to do them any favors in the mainstream like other releases of theirs have in the past. The songs on this album go from being strong speed metal songs to boring ballads to forgettable thrashers. I have no problem with using the past to create a great old-school traditional metal album but in this case it seems that instead of enhancing what has already been mastered in the past they just copied an pasted  to create an average album, which is a shame because I was really excited for this release.

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Vasquez:  EP426

I am not the biggest fan of the instrumental album as I find that I need vocals in my music to help me stay focused on what I am listening to at the time. If a band opens or closes an album with an instrumental intro or outro I tend to zone out and miss the purpose. However, I was recently introduced to an amazing trio of musicians that make up the band Vasquez and their latest EP EP426. I was a little hesitant to put this album in the four pack as it is usually reserved for the heavier bands but I think it fits well as they have a very heavy prog-rock feel to them in the style of Rush. But as this may be an influence Vasquez has a sound that is distinctively theirs and their ability to make the sounds they make is one of the better features of this EP. For a three-piece the mountain of sound that they produce is very impressive and the songs are some of the finest I have heard in some time. The talent of this band shines through with each and every song and the production is just rough enough that the polish is faded enough not to be a clone. There is a garage type feel to what these guys do and that makes this instrumental EP that much more interesting and focused, which in turn allowed me to be focused. This is not a hard rockin’, heavy metal release but more of a superb break from the sonic metal beating from a band that has the talent to do great things. Check out their new EP here: http://vasquez.bandcamp.com/album/ep426

Enjoy everyone!

Until later, Peace!

Lurch