Bringing Heavy Music to MTB, pt. 3: Anup Sastry, Vilarum, and Failgiver

5 Sep

Welcome back to “Bringing Heavy Music on MTB”! This column features new (and not so new) heavy bands/artists (Hardcore, Metal, etc.) that you should check out! I promise to do more regular updates, and I apologize that I let this slip through the cracks. Anyway, this time I am featuring Anup Sastry, Vilarum, and Failgiver!

 

Anup Sastry

Mr. Sastry is a drummer and currently plays for Intervals, Jeff Loomis, and Skyharbor. I feel that his rhythmic expertise has led to some interesting work on his solo albums. His latest solo album, Titan, is a tasty load of riffage and interesting polyrhythms. I also recommend, in particular, his work on Ghost (another of his solo albums) and with the band Intervals! 

Find his work at https://anupsastry.bandcamp.com/ . Also, check out Intervals at https://intervalsmusic.bandcamp.com/ .

 

Vilarum

Vilarum is a band I discovered through Ultimate-Guitar.com’s Recordings Subforum. With excellent use of vocal samples, a barking vocal delivery reminiscent of early Slayer, and pounding Thrash riffs…Stalingrad is excellent. I am a big Thrash fan. This album satisfies all the parts of what I love about Thrash!

Vilarum can be streamed and downloaded at https://vilarum.bandcamp.com/ .

 

Failgiver

Hailing from Edmonton, Alberta, Failgiver’s chaotic hardcore should satisfy fans of Converge, early Norma Jean, and Botch. They mix interesting rhythms with somewhat melodic parts, resulting in a gripping hardcore record. An admirable thing is that all proceeds from downloads of their digital album go  to the Pride Centre of Edmonton. (It’s pay what you wish.)

Download Failgiver at https://failgiverca.bandcamp.com/ .

Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

13 Feb

mellon-collie

After the release of their highly successful album and groundbreaking album Siamese Dream, the Smashing Pumpkins were on a roll musically, and decided that rehashing the same album wouldn’t cut it, and decided to expand their sound even more. Not only would the album feature a wider array of styles, but would be a monster sized double album with 28 tracks. After another string of hits, this album became another commercial success, being awarded with the Diamond Certification of 10 million copies shipped. Though technically it really only sold 5 million, as the RIAA counts both discs individually, a bit unfair. The success of this album gave us some more songs that are considered not only classic Smashing Pumpkins songs, but also considered classic rock, with some songs still considered radio staples. “Bullet with Butterfly Wings”, “1979”, and “Tonight Tonight” are still heard on today’s radio.

Even though Mellon Collie is a solid album with many great songs, it does have the problem many double albums have. It’s really long. With 28 tracks and two hours worth of music, to sit through its entirety is definitely reserved for someone who either has the patience, or for really long car rides. So it’s best that one listens to each disc separately. The album does have a focus on having a wide arrange of styles, and you can tell just by listening to the first three tracks that this album shows diversity. The first track, the title track, is a solo piano instrumental, then moves into the “Tonight Tonight” which features a string orchestra, and Jellybelly is an alternative metal track. There are a few songs that are psychedelic and dreamy, reminiscent of their Siamese Dream era, so coming from Siamese Dream, it won’t scare you away. There are also a couple songs that have aspects of electronic rock seeping in, with electronic drums, but the one that really shows the electronic aspect is their famous hit 1979.

Even though the album does focus on a variety of sounds, a good portion of the album does tend to fall under the typical 90’s style heavy alternative rock/alternative metal. Thanks to these types of songs, it causes the confusion for others that make them think the Pumpkins are a grunge band, especially with the Bullet With Butterfly Wings having the similar dynamic changes like Nirvana. Also with these songs, it does add some stability to the album, as sometimes having too much diversity can detract listeners, and feel either disjointed, or chaotic. It definitely tries to find a balance between being a heavily disjointed album, and from having all the songs sound too similar, as that can also be a drag for listeners.

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is definitely a monstrous album, and is definitely not short-changed in content. With its diversity, there is guarantee to find a track that will appeal to you. Though with its 28 songs and two hour run time, listening to its entirety is definitely not for the feint of heart.

rating 5/5

Sad Day for Puppets – Pale Silver & Shiny Gold

11 Nov

Sad Day for Puppets is a female fronted Swedish Indie quintet whose sound is based around the mixture of Indie rock and Shoegaze; with some songs leaning more towards one side or the other. Some have even labeled the band as part of the Nu Gaze movement, which is a Shoegaze revival movement, but whether or not it should be considered a separate genre is likely for debate. Released in 2010, this is their sophomore effort.

Unlike some other Shoegaze bands, Sad Day for Puppets don’t bury the vocals under the miasma of fuzz, so vocalist Anna Elkund can be heard very clearly.  Even though they’re a Swedish band, all of their songs are in English, so there’s no language barrier to break through. Also Elkund’s accent is a little thick, but the lyrics are fairly easy to understand. Also many of the songs have more of a traditional pop song structure, with a lot of focus on melody. So unlike some of their contemporaries, their songs get to the point. They skip out on noisy instrumental sections and many times stick to the simple verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge structures. So their songs aren’t exactly as chaotic as My Bloody Valentine, or Astrobrite. Closest to chaos might be their song “Such a Waste.”

Despite the gloomy looking album cover, the overall feeling of the album feels pretty bright and musically upbeat, but the lyrics at times may not be exactly happy. The songs have a variety of dynamics and sounds, so they differ from some of the more traditional shoegaze bands by not focusing on max fuzz in all of their songs. The song “Beads” consists of just vocals and a fingerpicked guitar with some keyboards and woodwinds for atmosphere, and “First Time” consists a slightly distorted guitar with atmospheric sounds. Some of their fuzz focused songs aren’t so fuzzed out, so you can easily hear the guitar melodies within it. So it adds a bit more to the soundscape instead of just focusing on a wall of sound on every single song.

Sad Day for Puppets may not be as “pure” of a sound that other Shoegaze bands, and would serve as a great band to introduce someone into the genre, but that’s not to say they’re a bad band. Their sound of pop melodies mixed with noisy fuzz guitar with Elkund’s vocals are a nice addition to anyone’s library, especially for someone looking for some more female lead music. Though at 37 minutes and at 10 tracks, this might be a bit too short for some people’s likings, but it is also missing any filler material, so consider that a plus.

You can stream the album for free off of their Bandcamp page: http://saddayforpuppets.bandcamp.com/album/pale-silver-shiny-gold

Rating: 5/5

The Replacements – All Shook Down

7 Nov

Just by looking at the cover, All Shook Down looks a bit dreary and it’s easy to see why. It’s the final album from The Replacements, and the cover seems to fit the mood of a band on its last legs. Especially considering that this was actually supposed to be vocalist Paul Westerberg’s first solo album. With its numerous session musicians with only a few tracks featuring the full band, it seems to lack the energy of most of their previous albums. While it lacks infamous anthems like “Left of the Dial”, “Unsatisfied”, and “Here Comes a Regular”, that’s not to say it doesn’t have solid tracks.

Paul Westerberg was more or less a voice of a generation for many college rock fans, and even inspired much of the boom in alternative rock in the 90’s, it seems that along with his audience, Westerberg was growing up. As a 30 year old man, it seems like he knew he was getting too old, and probably too tired to be singing about adolescent angst. This is pretty evident as their albums were progressively getting more mellowed out, almost like he shook out much of the anger he’s had before.

Despite being one of their more mellow albums, it still features typical Westerberg lyrical tropes, like his heart on a sleeve feelings that are largely self depreciating, and misfits trying to find a place Most of the tracks are very acoustic guitar driven, with roughly 3 out of the 4 tracks without them are fully electric with the other one being a piano driven track, with its appropriately titled “the Last”, with its multiple meanings, and strategically being placed as the last track on the last Replacements album. Even the lyrics can almost be interpreted towards being about the listener, especially with the final line: “It’s gotta last for always” is a great final nail in the coffin for a band with such a large legacy.

While definitely not as ambitious or as memorable as albums like Let it Be or Tim, it’s definitely a decent album. So while it won’t cater to fans of their rougher, it does cater to those who are fans of adult alternative rock. With bands like The Wallflowers, and Train, especially with the latter drawing influence from Westerberg’s music. Though in shear honesty, it’s not their best album, but it’s definitely not their worst.

rating 4/5

Bringing Heavy Music to MTB, pt. 2: Matt Harnett

16 Oct

Welcome back to “Bringing Heavy Music on MTB”! This column features new (and not so new) heavy bands/artists (Hardcore, Metal, etc.) that you should check out! This month’s artist is Matt Harnett, who is a metal guitarist from Knoxville, TN, USA.

Matt's Logo

Brief History:

Matt began this project in mid-2012. He says he has always been a fan of both instrumental guitar (Joe Satriani, Steve Vai) music and progressive metal (Periphery, Dream Theater) and that he really tries to capture elements of both genres in his music — “As well as any other genre I happen to be influenced by any particular day”. However, for the most part, Matt’s music is progressive metal, with major atmospheric elements throughout all his tracks.

Albums/EPs:

“Enigma” by Matt Harnett

Available for name your price at bandcamp.com.

What I like about his music:
I greatly enjoy that Matt uses clean/ambient guitar parts to add more depth to his music. The fact that it’s not just similar to standard “djent-y” ambient parts in the background — actually adding something to the forefront of the songs — is excellent. The song dynamics range from “balls to the wall” heavy riffage to slow melodic lead parts, all of which enhances the ebb and flow of each song. What’s great is that, since there’s no vocals, the lead guitar often takes the place of vocals in an interesting way.

— Contact rocklikeafool at http://musictalkboard.icyboards.net/member.php?action=profile&uid=29.