SONG SHORT-REVIEW: Photona - Daisies (song review) |self-released, Alabaster Inlay Tiger Panels, 2017| 5/5
Photona is a trio from Portland, Oregon, consisting of musicians performing under their artistic monikers: Tone (vocals, lyrics), XavierX (drums, sounds), and Bentley (synth, programming, bass). One of Photona's new songs, 'Daisies' is clearly inspired by 1980s new wave, cold wave, punk, goth, and electronic music, and is offered as a free download for the next 3 years.
A groovy, pleasant bass line and mid-tempo drum beats open the song, in which this arrangement acts as a solid spine until the very end of the composition. It is then followed by spacey synths, reminiscent of 70s electronic music - though of a much cleaner, more modern quality. Tone's voice comes in a bit later, and dominates over the arrangements thanks to its warm, mature timbre. It doesn't matter whether you already are a fan of Nico or Siouxie Sioux (the closest voice references here), you will admire Tone's distinct, well trained, and fully utilised voice.
The song could be a story-telling canto by a tired warrioress who fought but hadn't received enough support, and is now singing from the top of a mountain about what she had acknowledged, and what should be done. She had understood the background of separation amongst people, and it's on your TV too – showing gruesome results of brainwashing methods employed by organized religions, specifically Catholicism and Islam, which turned human beings into heartless zombies. Murder taking place on many layers, not just the physical body, but also its original energy.
Fortunately, there are still heart-driven rebels out there who see through the veil, and who offer to restore the original peaceful vibration within us. Therefore, in this song, Tone wants to (metaphorically speaking) plant daisies - a symbolic representation of the heart (its simplicity and happiness) - as a cure against joy-blocking distortions anchored in human brains. These plants also propagate quickly through spreading more seeds around.
'Daisies' - a potential hit to be aired on many radio stations - offers catchy arrangements, which make the track memorable, yet relaxing. The song should give you a taste of Photona's music before Alabaster Inlay Tiger Panels (their new album) comes out in February 2017.
| Bandcamp free track
(Reviewer: Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Industrial Rock & Metal Encyclopedia, January 11th, 2017. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)
SONG MINI-REVIEW: Hendrik Jan Vermeulen - Brüder (song review) |self-released, Krieg, 2016| 5/5
Dutch musician Hendrik Jan Vermeulen established Krieg 1916 project in memory of his great-uncle (Bernhard Kronauer) who fought and died as a soldier of the Imperial German Army during WWI. If you visit Krieg's website
, you'll learn a lot more about the background story illustrated with authentic photos. Moreover, there are other European musicians, poets, technicians, and designers involved in this project, listed on the website as well.
Krieg's self-titled album (the vinyl & CD were released 100 years after Vermeulen's great-uncle's death), contains 17 songs, all performed in German. One of them is "Brüder" (German for "Brothers"), a dedication to all brothers-in-arms, with no diversification whether they are allies, or enemies. According to H.J. Vermeulen, this track wasn't written to praise mass-murder, but to remind people about the importance of living in peace, achieved through a self-balance and mutual tolerance.
It's a short, solid composition written for string instruments, drums and vocals. The melancholic mood comes from the guitar, though rhythmic bass and drums lines prevent listeners from extensive mourning. Lyrics (written by the German soldier and poet Heinrich Lersch) are performed by Heiko Schmidt. This male singer and actor from Cologne owns an extremely intriguing voice timbre which resembles a female alto.
Since the song is dedicated to soldiers, its ending part - which is suddenly cut may - suggest that the singer was (symbolically!) silenced through violence while performing. An absence of gun or explosion SFX is a real relief here. Instead, a soloing guitar (partially reminiscent of Brian May’s work for Queen) and drums skilfully mimic these in parts of the song.
"Brüder" is melodious and instantly memorable, but it could definitely benefit from being illustrated by a fitting video.
| CD Baby
(Reviewer: Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, December 7th, 2016. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)
EP SHORT-REVIEW: Super Monaco - Super Monaco EP |self-released, 2016| 5/5
1. Overtime, 2. Sabine, 3. Killer, 4. Self Control, 5. Let’s Dream Tomorrow
Coming across the 80's pop-rock & melodic rock genres (defined by the sound of Def Leppard, Starship, RATT, LA Guns, Whitesnake or Van Halen, to name a few) is always an unforgettable experience, and many music fans have been captured by this specific, heart-warming, joyful vibe. These characteristics have been gradually replaced with technically advanced but emotionally artificial, shallow, and whiny themes of the 90s and 00s music. A listener may ask: 'Why don't they make such heart-driven melodies anymore
?' Well, pay attention, as some still do!
Super Monaco is a musical project from Edinburgh, UK founded by Benjamin Moore and his brother, Rob. Ben was born more than a decade after his favourite bands' bestsellers were first played on MTV. Both the guitar player and the singer respectively 'hacked' the sound of groups mentioned earlier and using the same kinds of instruments, brought this enjoyable vibe back. Their debut, self-titled EP offers five equally entertaining songs letting their listeners go with the flow.
The opener, "Overtime" is a lively pulsing amalgam of both joy and melody expressed with guitars, drums and vocals put to the forefront. Groovy arrangements are perfectly placed within a composition, which is neither too short nor too long. Bands of the genre loved calling their songs with female names (like Starship's "Sara"), thus next comes "Sabine" with a fitting love theme. It's a great song for an 80s retro party thanks to its dancey rhythm. Rob's vocals are high enough to resemble voices of the 80s pop-rock singers and keep the mood emotional, yet far from... hysteria, as he sings a memorable chorus: "I’ll hang tough, see it through / I’ll keep on running if you want me to / I’m in touch, keep me Sabine on the edge
"Killer" brings a bouncy rhythm and slightly rebellious lyrics helping listeners visualise a matching video for the song. Guitar riffs, clearly 80s synths, slightly dumb (yet so loveable) electronic drum beats, and elegant guitar soloing at the end of the track combine into a phoenix rising from the ashes. The follower - "Self Control" (not a cover of Laura Branigan's song) - offers a totally captive pre-chorus bit almost forcing a sing-along. The rhythm guitar adds its rhythm to the one dictated by the drums, thus the song feels doubly dynamic, yet is not overwhelming, thanks to its medium tempo. “Self Control” steals your attention through five minutes of music built upon your heart's energy and a bit of math for good measure.
Finally, "Let's Dream Tomorrow" carries a hot'n'cold, romantic'n'sexy, night-time vibe. It is the slowest of all the songs on the EP, the vocals are going into high places, and the bass is exposed more than in the previous tracks. Your imagination may bring forth many vivid images (or memories) - from driving along a wet, neon-glimmering street at night, to cuddling in a bedroom. The song lyrics however speak of something else – enslavement of the physical or mental kind. Undoubtedly, it's THE song to be used in a movie, thus Super Monaco should definitely explore available licensing opportunities.
Die hard fans of 80s music might argue that it's not a problem to copy somebody else's style and sound. My answer to this is: try borrowing from masterpieces while keeping the same quality, emotional charge; try writing matching lyrics and bringing your own life into them. The skill on display here is surely deserving a round of applause, so hopefully the circle of Super Monaco's fans shall at least triple by mid-2017, encouraging them to make another wonderful album. One would also wish that the duo perform their songs live, and… well, jump like Eddie Van Halen! ;)
(Reviewer: Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, December 7th, 2016. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)
SONG MINI-REVIEW: Shadows & Mirrors - In The Dark (song review) |Nub Country Records, ARIA, 2016| 5/5
Here's an American one-man band established by Brian Diamond. He takes great care to ensure that anything authored under the name of Shadows & Mirrors is of professional quality, including catchy song writing, mastering, mixing, production, album artworks, music videos, and the official website's design.
'In The Dark' is the fifth track on debut album (titled ARIA
), deeply embedded in the genres of electronic, dance, and industrial. These genres are well defined and usually contain dynamic beats, haunting synths, distorted vocals, a dancey rhythm, memorable lyrics, and occasionally guitar riffs - and this song ticks all these boxes. In addition, it is enriched by equally rhythmic and intelligent lyrics, with a small reference to the late David Bowie.
This track clocks over seven minutes - almost like an extended version of a single. The composition isn't complex, allowing all components to swiftly flow, with coiling arrangements hypnotizing listeners at first play. Unquestionably, such a groovy vibe, and the frequently repeating chorus create an instantly memorable hit song.
On the more technical side of things, the project’s sound has been additionally mastered by Barry Grint at Alchemy Studios in London (who previously worked with Madonna, Gary Numan, Radiohead, David Bowie, and many other artists), so if you are an electronic music fan, you’ll definitely welcome this song into your personal playlist. DJs looking for fresh dance music, whether for airplay or a party should get in touch with this artist ASAP.
(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, November 28th, 2016. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)
SONG MINI-REVIEW: Artphixia - An Artificial Heaven (song review) |self-released, Cerebral, 2016| 4/5
UK-based Andy S. Crofts (under his Dark User moniker; synths, backing vocals and production) and an American musician Jacob Fry (known as Mordeous; vocals) teamed up to explore more complex, experimental/industrial music. Both artists want their listeners participating in their efforts by tuning into the atmosphere and getting hijacked into a world painted with their sound. Here we have something a bit scary however, as the track was influenced by John Carpenter's sci-fi horror movies and H.R. Giger's art. If you're ready for that explosive cocktail, let's peep inside.
The song presents three distinctive attributes here – tightly packed beats, distorted, or even tormented vocals (almost like an orc from a fantasy movie) and cold, highly pitched, vital synths. The dark but non-aggressive scenery continues until the 3rd minute of the track's length, when your ears are drilled by the first installment of industrial/metal guitars replacing the synths.
The arrangements, vocals, and the mood are accented well here, but the overall flow of the composition seems a bit static, perhaps due to the excess of beats. Approaching this track needs a proper understanding - the song's pressuring mood may be perceived as quite draining, so you probably won't enjoy listening to it during a beautiful, sunny day, but play 'An Artificial Heaven' again when it's cold, dark, windy, and snowy outdoors - then it should resonate with your soul much better.
(Reviewer: Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, November 28th, 2016. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)
DMK - FITH (Fire In The Hole) (song review) |self-released, Condemned, 2015| 5/5
Darice M. Kannon, a writer and musician, had an interesting concept of merging both of her interests. She wrote a book titled Condemned
and illustrated the emotions of the book's characters through songs, gathered on an album with the same title.
'FITH (Fire In The Hole)' is one of these songs, and if you are a picky listener who looks for more than just dynamic, clubbing tracks, but also crystal-clear yet edgy female vocals, then you won't be disappointed. Darice brings both focused energy and a true lioness' claw into the composition – there's a bit of guitars mixed with sweetness, so her song doesn't sound too aggressive.
When it comes to genres, we can hear a modern mix of electronic pop (with super hooky, beat-driven arrangements and an instantly memorable chorus), but also vocal techniques borrowed from jazz and soul music. The track sounds attractive and very well produced. In addition, 'FITH' is over 3 minutes long which makes it a perfect match for radio play, TV ads and movies, possibly targeted at young adults thanks to its emotional, tempting and rebellious tone.
Finally, as mentioned above, Darice’s memorable voice is the cherry on top here, comparable with other famous female singers popular amongst Generation Y. Whether you're "just" a music fan or you work in the music industry, here is a song to make your day!
Related topics: DMK
(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, August 15th, 2016. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)
EP MINI-REVIEW: Heartlay - Remedy EP |self-released, 2015| 4/5
1. Bring You Down, 2. Consequence, 3. The Battle, 4. Through The Window, 5. Black Walls
Heartlay is a French industrial/alt-metal band formed by Aaron Sadrin (vocals/composing) in 2014. He was later joined by Johan Laë on guitar, Flo Lemonnier on bass, Loïs Arnaldi on drums. This collaboration resulted last year in the Remedy
EP - their second release, mastered by Brett Caldas-Lima (Tower Studio; best known for his work with Septicflesh, Kalisia, Cynic and Devin Townsend among others).
The tracklist here is pleasant for an ear, especially if you like rhythmic, well balanced, heavy guitar driven music with hooky melodies. The opener titled 'Bring You Down' begins with chunky and vibrating guitar riffs followed by vocals marked with a quite high and cold timbre. Bass lines sound juicy and drum beats are deep enough. A keyboard arrangement that appears in the first song becomes an acoustic leitmotif for the next track, 'Consequence'. Here, changes of tempo are somewhat characteristic, alongside its noisy, rhythmic, guitar driven atmosphere and a very accented bass guitar.
'The Battle' is the most aggressive song on Remedy
, underlined with a distinctive bass line, well matched drums, lazy-sounding vocals and tiny keyboard sounds. Leading vocals are additionally accompanied by a background growl sometime - these give the song claws. The following 'Through The Window' is also kept in vein of modern industrial and alt-metal music, but opens with a vibrating straight-forward cannonade written for bass, guitars, and drums. Arrangements remain heavy and dynamic but sweetness and melody appear at times as well.
All compositions are skilfully linked together on this EP, so the ending part of 'Through The Window' prepares listeners for the 'Black Walls'. It isn't entirely instrumental, as you would expect after hearing the songs' beginning, but is very atmospheric. Darkness and light mix here slowly - gloomy ambiance and industrial steam-like beats represent the former, while gentle piano chords (which had been already introduced in the previous track) become the leitmotif now, and speak for the 'light'. Equally soft vocals appear only at the end of the track.
All four guitar driven songs have a lot of hit potential. Fans of modern industrial rock and alt-metal will be definitely happy with this EP since it makes a good match with discographies of the likes of Lluther
, Nine Inch Nails
, In Virgo
, The Dreaming, and even Rammstein at some point. Undoubtedly, the musicians perform as a collective here, but you'll soon realize that drums are emphasized the most. Therefore, while listening make sure you tune down the bass on your speakers to avoid having higher tones being overridden.
(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, January 5th, 2016. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)