16 May, 2016

Merrin - Mr. Dominant

Merrin – Mr. Dominant (song review) |self-released, 2016| 5/5 rock, pop, funk

Merrin are a band from Wellington, New Zealand. Judging by their newest single's vibe, the quartet is aiming to gain attention worldwide, presenting a potential hit - something the music industry is always on the lookout for.
The song's low, energizing groove and excellent vocals should agitate listeners already from the very beginning. The arrangements placed swiftly within a solid body holding the entire composition, clearly shared between verses and choruses, make for a really catchy and powerful song. Any chart topper needs to have some repetitions to remain memorable, but in this case there’s not a single second of boredom here.

'Mr. Dominant' begins with vocals that are followed by drums (Richard Maxwell Jr), guitar (Karl Wootton) and bass (Lisa Tagaloa). The rhythm is bouncy making the track instantly memorable, yet it ends on a perfect, popular note with all instruments bringing the rhythm to a gentle stop. Melodically, 'Mr. Dominant' fuses rock, pop, funk and metal vibes thanks to edgy guitar riffs, the overall structure, and the catchy groove. Riffs and drums are less dense, unlike when utilized in purely metal tracks, so the song may find its way to various listeners, not bound to any specific genre. Every instrument, including the voice, has accurate placement, and everything is timed flawlessly. Even if the song may sound spontaneous at first, there's quite a lot of math hiding underneath.

The timbre of the vocals is very interesting, since they sound quite 'androgynous' - the voice could belong to either a woman or a young man, and it’s hard to say before you have a look at the band’s line-up. It's rebellious, confident, and distinctive - it can tap into higher notes easily but it mostly keeps a lower, almost masculine tone somewhere in the middle. Its range intrigues as well. To satisfy your curiosity, the person behind the voice - Charlie Phillips - is female. Being gifted with a voice like this, she should expect many opportunities in the music industry (and beyond, e.g. voice acting in movies or games) sooner or later. It seems that singing comes effortlessly to her - on top of that, her voice is easily recognizable.

Lyrically, 'Mr. Dominant' refers to the act of seduction of an alpha-male man, so called 'the old electric masculine' driven by own ego and thus, always wanting to be in control. How could a female be in control of such a guy, then? Using her sexiest attributes, according to the song writer.

Overall, the song is great for any kind of media placement, and will surely stir the physical energy of listeners, whether it is aired on worldwide radio or included on a personal playlist. The song's recognizable fragments may be a good match for a TV advertisement as well. Guano Apes, Nico, Living Colour, Deftones, and Rage Against the Machine - you could probably name these if you really need a sonic reference, but make sure to check out other songs by Merrin, streamed on their social profiles.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, May 12th, 2016. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)

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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine

04 May, 2016

Interview with Gilbert Engle - painter and musician

Interview with Gilbert Engle*

I would say it has become much easier to create very high quality works since hundreds of years ago. The potential options are unlimited. As mentioned, the problem is that there are way too many people who want to be artists and musicians. There is just no way to fund everybody.

*Gilbert Engle has been composing music for over 30 years and creating art for 25+ years. With over 600 music compositions, 50 albums, 200 visual works and 80 paintings completed so far, he has always had a small, but dedicated fan base. As he has found the time and backing to devote full time to his passions, Gilbert has built the portal to provide free access to most of his completed and upcoming works and to share his passion with a global audience.

Interview by Fabryka Music Magazine

Gianluca John Attanasio - Silent Roads

Gianluca John Attanasio - Silent Roads |House of Clouds Records, 2016| 4/5 blues rock

1. King Money, 2. Black Forest, 3. In The Club, 4. I Lost My Angel, 5. God Save Every Soldier, 6. Baby Up Baby Down, 7. Sacred Flight, 8. The Life Will Continue, 9. Living In My Blues, 10. Miss Dog, 11. In The Morning, 12. Silent Roads, 13. Time Is Over

The new album of Gianluca John Attanasio took 3 years to compose during his travels between Rome, London, New York, and Los Angeles. Not only did he write music for independent cinema, theatre, and the dance scene, but also composed, arranged, and produced music during the last 15 years. This is clearly audible to careful listeners experiencing any of the tracks present on Silent Roads.

Thirteen brand new tracks offer a blend of many genres - blues, psychedelic rock, rock ballad, or even hip hop. All are united by the lead singer's confident and somewhat raspy voice.
'King Money' brings a typical blues feel and expressive, well trained vocals. Both arrangements and composition keep the classic tone here and, therefore, will be loved by the sound purists. The rocking vibe provided by the bass and drums is additionally contrasted with the higher-reaching harmonica. 'In The Club' is also a track that fans of The Blues Brothers may dig from the very beginning - the odd (but fitting) addition being psychedelic organs. The chorus is extremely memorable thanks to various repetitions and the overall melody. 'Black Forest' is kept in the same vein - swinging sounds just as easy to remember. Vocals, synths, and bass are accented mostly at the beginning, while the guitar and drums take over a bit later, collaborating nicely when the chorus appears. Skillfully written arrangements allow for vocals to be either highlighted by instruments or shine on their own.

Attanasio's admiration for The Doors is obvious in two of the thirteen tracks. 'Baby Up Baby Down' shows it through the use of a synth (perhaps even the famous Moog) and improvisation-like arrangements, perfectly placed within the song. Even if the singer's voice is rougher than Jim Morrison's, it matches the guitar driven musical explorations, from blues to metal. 'Silent Roads' carries the subtle, magical vibe of the iconic 'Riders on the Storm', bringing along a hefty dose of synths. There's a lot of motion in the background and the vocals are matched with these arrangements very well.

As for the ballads on the album, 'I Lost My Angel' is a track suitable for a slow, romantic dance for two, thanks to its melancholic vibe carried by guitar, bass and drums. The other half of the song includes a slightly vibrating guitar solo and a subdued synth. 'Living In My Blues' is kept in a homogenous mood, though its tone is more swinging than that of 'I Lost My Angel', with the guitars accented more strongly at times. Vocals appear frequently and are on par with all the other instruments. It's highly recommended you listen to this one with your eyes closed.
'God Save Every Soldier', as the title suggests, is a tribute to those who have been sent to fight for peace. The song includes a really surprising melody change - with the unexpected arrangement sounding more electronic, including a minimal dose of deep techno bass and a slightly faster beat. It makes the track sound less epic, though the overall mood is peaceful.

Move over, synthesizers - it's time for the piano. 'Sacred Flight' brings piano arrangements with the accompanying lyrics delivered by Attanasio's down-tuned voice, sounding more intimately than in other songs. When it comes to the atmosphere here, hope and drama keep interlacing. The piano arrangements continue in 'Time Is Over', but the style is that of a pop/rock ballad - similar to something you would hear on a Foreigner or Elton John record. The romantic atmosphere is expressed with additional samples of rainfall and subdued thunder, mostly in spots where the vocals take a break. Furthermore, it's easy to imagine 'Time Is Over' being performed by an all-stars crowd at a fundraising concert, bringing back the spirit of the 80's and Bob Geldof's & Midge Ure's Live Aid.

While the piano took over for 'Sacred Flight', guitars get to rule across 'In The Morning'. Instrumentally, it's still kept in an acoustic mood, but it's more rock-oriented, akin to Eric Clapton's music, with the vocals recalling those of Billy Joel. 'The Life Will Continue' has a warm vibe, but the accenting bass and drums take it into rock territory, with a high-pitched guitar soloing in the background, letting the synths and Attanasio's voice be more expressive. The song's production is a bit different, perhaps due to some additional ambiance surrounding vocals and guitar, as if they were recorded live on stage, and later mixed and mastered.

At the opposite end of the musical spectrum presented on the album we have 'Miss Dog', offering a complete change of instrumentation, mood, and style. It contains a lot of skillful borrowings from hip hop and modern pop music, utilizing a faster, danceable tempo and somewhat graded vocals. The lyrics are quite ironic though, referring to the idea of how the hip hop scene uses sex and women as their major song-writing inspirations. 'Miss Dog' may become a steady hit on air if offered to the right broadcasters.

Clearly, Gianluca John Attanasio recorded the album with a lot of moodiness in mind, rather than expressive dynamics. There are clearly emotions at play here, but performed rather retrospectively, with reflection trumping reaction. The native Italian has a very good American English accent additionally increasing the music's warm vibration.

Lyrically, Silent Roads touches many topics - from an inner journey into the self, discovering emotions, learning from karmic (romantic or erotic) relationships, a dash of loneliness, but also expressing support for soldiers. Since the album is a trip into the blues rock of the 1960's, it's highly recommendable for listeners of all ages who prefer well developed, unhurried tracks coming from the heart.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, April 26th, 2016. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)

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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine

20 April, 2016

Heretics in the Lab – Exit

Heretics in the Lab – Exit |self-released, 2016| 5/5 industrial metal

1. Death, 2. Atrocity, 3. Precious, 4. Forever, 5. Special, 6. Sorry, 7. Rise, 8. Away

When you listen to an album that begins with a mix of looped, agitating sounds of hammering and machines, supported by quick and heavy guitars, then you’ll recognize the genre straight away. Indeed, Exit is a direct trip into the mainstream industrial metal music of the 1990s, just as fans memorized its best characteristics back then, with a distinctive sound that created a whole subculture.

Heretics in the Lab (the original spelling is hERETICS iN tHE lAB) is a one man band from Virginia, US formed in 2004. Thomas Morgan, who uses "h3" as his artistic moniker, is a self-taught passionate who does everything literally from A to Z. Both recorded songs and music video singles that promote various tracks from the band's discography come from him. Obviously, additional live musicians are hired for live shows, but the entire studio work is done entirely by h3.

The newest album brings eight, highly (and equally) energizing songs. If you, the 90's industrial rivethead, had lost hope for the arrival of any flooring albums by once recognizable industrial rock and metal artist such as Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails or Powerman 5000, then Heretics in the Lab will make your dreams come true, in lieu of these bigger names. People new to the genre can find the album entertaining as well, thanks to its dynamical, aggressive vibe.

Let's look into the tracks in detail now. 'Death' is the intro to the album, with a plainly industrial theme mentioned before. It is also enriched by sampled speech. The track sounds mighty thanks to a skillful blend of briefly scratched, predatory guitar riffs and drums laid only in places where the composition requires and allows that.

Sonically, the introduction's foretaste shouldn’t mislead you, since 'Atrocity' begins with a closely packed, pulsing sound of some device, of possibly a medical purpose. Medical references – nurses, syringes, hospital, blood, scars, drips, patches, and bandages are often utilized in modern but not less mainstream industrial music, thus you've got a bit of a refresher here. The high beat is then empowered by a deeper drumbeat and the listeners are taken into a twister of all kinds of overlapping sounds. These are still kept under rigid control by the overall composition, which can be witnessed in the song's very end when the wall of sound is slowly cleaned and pulled down, leaving only the buzzing guitar to accompany you on your way to the next track.

The industrial opening of 'Precious' sounds very haunting. The song is accompanied by a promotional music video single (check out the band's YouTube), full of rapidly firing, thought-provoking images - long-time industrial music fans should be familiar with such visuals. Since they are matched with the song's aggressive theme and rhythm very well, I don’t think many viewers can complain. The sound effects and memorable vocal lines combined with raspy guitars will guide careful listeners back to ”the best of NIN” and act as a strong reminder of the vibe known from the now legendary Broken and The Downward Spiral albums.

'Forever' brings a lot of clicking electronica in the beginning, but then lashes out with metal through slow and heavy guitar riffs. Surprisingly, vocals are kept rather high and peaceful here. After hearing the intro, metal fans would obviously expect growling, expressive screams or other emotional explosions found within the verses. This changes a bit when the chorus comes, the vocals however are mixed with a voice effect that makes the song's overall vibe mechanical. When accompanied with spoken rather than sung lyrics (similarly to many other songs on this album), the track becomes a good reminder of Manson's mortuary, somber, tormented music, not deprived of memorable dynamics either.

'Special' is a potential hit with its clearly and rhythmically spoken lyrics, dynamic bass, drums, and noisy guitars - as well as highlighted moments of anger. It’s very memorable and will definitely work well during live performances. After that, 'Sorry' arrives with a bit more of synths, making it sound like an 8-bit game music memorabilia at times. Aside of distorted vocals, edgy vibes and a slightly 'outer-space' atmosphere (through the aforementioned synths), you'll also come across a sweet electro-pop melody appearing in choruses.

'Rise' is a track partially different from the others. Not only is it entirely instrumental, but also driven by a distinctive, graded, simple and recurring bassline. This, blended with a melancholic piano gives the song a flavour of NIN, Primus, and Joy Division smelted together. Listeners would perhaps expect more of that theme to be extended further, since the melody and mood progress in an intriguing direction.

The grand finale of the album titled 'Away' is a lovely tribute to NIN with its typical setting within arrangements made for lyrics and shortly outlined guitars, as well as a groovy, haunting background including synth and drums. Everything in 'Away' is pure synergy spiced up with matching vocal expressions and yet, it's skillfully connected with 'Death', the album's opener. This is an excellent potential hit that deserves either a music video single or serving as a soundtrack to a short movie.

Overall, Exit is a pleasant and engaging listening experience. All tracks are pretty short but it's almost required for catchy and potentially popular songs to stay under the five minute mark nowadays. In addition, many of these tracks could make a good match with s/f and adventure movies (think of the Marvel series or David Lynch's weirdness). Special attention should be paid to the vocal work of h3, who perfectly catches up with any tempo changes present throughout the album. Industrial metal and rock music fans are highly advised to get this album and support h3's endeavours – you won't be disappointed.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, April 18th, 2016. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)

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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine