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31 March, 2014

Ferni - Blame

Ferni - Blame (song review) |Gradation Music, Afterburn EP, 2013| 5/5

"Blame" is a rock ballad written, performed, and recorded by Ferni Lopez - a singer and multi-instrumentalist from Houston, Texas. He’s a veteran of writing and playing music inspired by alternative, folk rock, and blues genres, as well as the founder of Brother Sol and Of Love And Justice bands. The song comes from his solo EP Afterburn, released in December 2013.

Rock ballads usually stick to the theme of "it could have been better" and lyrically refer to topics such as unsuccessful relationships, loss, loneliness, misunderstandings, unresolved problems, unrealistic desires etc., supported by melodious, nostalgic tunes. "Blame" firmly fits into that framework.

The track opening will immediately pull your attention into the mood thanks to deep, pensive bass tones with additional cymbals. A slow beat of a hand-held drum and a melancholic guitar come into play shortly afterwards. Highly expressive vocals are specifically what a song with a lullaby-like tempo definitely needs to make the contrasting sounds harmonious and well-matched. Indeed, Ferni’s slightly raspy voice fits in perfectly here. He can definitely sing and adjust his voice to across several ranges very well. The chorus sounds memorable and is exactly what a highly listenable radio or movie song requires.
The final part includes a careful and gentle, high-pitched guitar solo that melts into the whole track without stealing the focus, thanks to the harmoniously layered bass and drums tracks.

The arrangements and the composition have been put together skillfully. Needless to say, it’s quite surprising that one man can perform a song fit for an entire four-piece band, but Ferni's the living proof for this. His music bears inspiration from artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, R.E.M., The Who, Mumford & Sons, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers or Led Zeppelin. Therefore, if you like a nostalgic, guitar-driven vibe, you should enjoy "Blame".

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, March 31st, 2014. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)
This review on Fabryka Magazine: http://industrialrock.net/php-files_en/articles.php?article_id=530

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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine

28 March, 2014

BROBST - Life Of Gypsies

BROBST - Life Of Gypsies (song review) |self-released, 2014| 4/5

This highly melodic track carries a lot of hit potential, since it’s instantly memorable. This is possible thanks to a balanced apportionment between inspiration drawn from both Depeche Mode as well as dark wave and electronic rock styles.

Probably, most of the people will first hear and then react to the rhythm. The dynamics in "Life Of Gypsies" are just accurate. The rhythm doesn't resemble a raging cannon, which would certainly kill the melody. Instead, subtle arrangements repeat and rock rhythm guitars along with a solo guitar spice them up with an edgy flavor. Guitars are played softly, without showing off and they embed well within the overall vibe. The string instruments also help the listener’s mind to drift a bit into a different direction than that created by the beat.

All electronic additions are of high quality and were placed in well chosen spots. Previously mentioned similarities to Depeche Mode's yearning tunes ring especially true. In addition, the melodies of verses and choruses support each other perfectly. As a result, the overall composition sounds harmonious.

BROBST may consider working a bit on his voice, however. The song seems to be written for confident, emotional vocals and it'd be really great to hear a slightly more vigorous performance. Some of the chorus parts require a prolonged, highly pitched voice, and here BROBST unquestionably delivers. In other moments, like during the opening verse where he sings with a lower voice, its melodic line comes across as a bit too wary and unstable. Other than that, the whispering does fit in these arrangements and the overall mood very well.

Finally, it should me mentioned that BROBST was the winner of the People's Choice Award (Atlantis Music Conference, Atlanta, Georgia) in 2007. Thanks to his success, he performed on stage the same night as Queens of the Stone Age.

"Life Of Gypsies" will be included on the tracklist of BROBST's full album, which is set to appear in July 2014. The release follows the Angel Dust EP (2013) which can be purchased in various on-line music stores.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, March 26th, 2014. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński



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04 March, 2014

The 88's - The 88's EP

The 88's - The 88's EP |self-released, 2013| 5/5

1. Get Me Through, 2. Addiction, 3. Time Was Right, 4. You Gotta Give A Damn, 5. For You, I'll Sing My Song, 6. Pride

The 88s trio which has been playing together since 2009 has an international line-up. The members make music in China, Portugal, France and the US. Joe Mahone brings the hard rock/metal drive through excellent drumming, Pheel Duarte feeds the songs with dynamic vocals, while Luis Coelho enriches The 88's music with Latin guitar influences.

The eponymous EP is their second release (the first one was out in 2011). The tracklist opens with a wavy guitar solo and gives you a foretaste of what to expect. "Get Me Through" has a melodic yet heavy mix, ensuring that you're listening to the work of experienced musicians who know how to skillfully borrow from a few different genres. They utilize Latin music, blues, hard rock and modern metal structures as well. They undoubtedly worked this one out and avoided predictable arrangements.

"Addiction" begins with a heavy and rhythmic mix written for the drums, guitar and vocals. However, this passionate track has also a surprising acoustic side, based on soft melodic arrangements. A professionally played guitar solo influenced by classic rock, as well as guitar parts draw inspiration from Latin music. As an interesting aside you should note that the song is bilingual (English & French).

The 88's seem to be inspired by music of Metallica, Foo Fighters, and System of A Down. "Time Was Right" is a goof proof of this. It’s a heavy track built upon balanced arrangements, neither leaving empty spaces, nor invading your ears with arrogant intensity. The structure is diversified enough to keep your mind engaged, but also repetitive enough to stick to your memory.

A swinging mix of guitars, drums and bass begins "You Gotta Give A Damn", an example of a popular alt-rock theme, which easily fits into prime time airplay. The song is short, melodic, dynamic and instantly memorable. It has spots filled with guitar solos and intensified drumming, with very suitable vocals.

If you like Soundgarden or Nirvana, or just enjoy the grungier vibes, "For You, I'll Sing My Song" is, precisely, for you. The track includes also an interesting part performed by Pier, a guest musician utilizing a Chinese instrument called Erhu. She appears midway through the song and brings more of a world music feel. When it comes to vocals for the track, Pheel Duarte proves clearly that he can adjust his voice to different styles of music.

Now, it's time for a decorative jewel. "Pride" is a huge finish, definitely enriching the whole EP with a big, nostalgic theme. You can clearly imagine the lone guitarist performing on a stage. When he's focused on the instrument, locked in an invisible bubble of the sound, the entire world seems to disappear. There are only three things that matter here: him, the guitar and the music these two make in the limelight. You've heard that same, never changing tune from Santana, Clapton, Led Zeppelin or Queen and you'll hear it again, this time performed by Luis Coelho and The 88's. It's also a great movie track.

All the songs on the tracklists have a definite flow connecting them - whether it’s their rhythm or mood, or the technical skill behind them. Thus, the end of "Pride" interlocks with "Get Me Through" very well and you can listen to the entire EP on repeat.

The album is worth having and the band deserves your support. Their official website and social profiles should give you more insight into The 88's next move.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, March 4th, 2014. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)

This review on Fabryka Magazine: http://industrialrock.net/php-files_en/articles.php?article_id=526
 


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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine

19 February, 2014

In_zekT - Artifex

In_zekT - Artifex |self-released, 2013| 5/5

01. Strain Reactor, 02. ARTIFEX, 03. Sub-Humanist, 04. Overman, 05. Dialling the North Code, 06. Ionize, 07. Termination Sequence, 08. No Fate But What We Make, 09. This is Not an Exit, 10. [0]

Norwegian metal is best known for its straight-forward, merciless sound. It's no different here. This is one terrific album that takes what's best in industrial/cyber metal (raw anger, repetitions, sampling, SFX) and djent (atonal, down-tuned, stretched, syncopated guitar riffs) to a new level, creating a fresh, yet to be named genre.

In_zekT was founded in Norway in 2002. They started with a slightly different line-up, and their music initially sounded differently, too. A chance to meet Ministry's founder Al Jourgensen in 2003 had resulted in having Luc Van Acker (his mate from Revolting Cocks) produce In_zekT's debut release back then. Also Chris Vrenna (Tweaker) was involved in mixing one of the band's albums. Artifex however, begins a new, more extreme chapter in the band's career with two musicians in the line-up: Peter Vindel (lead vocals, guitars, synth, programming, sampling) and Kjetil Ottersen (vocals, guitars, synth, programming, sampling).

The first song leaves no space for guessing how the new chapter is being developed. "Strain Reactor" is a deeply guitar driven track, but the riffs are distorted by various effects and modifications making them sound industrial. Also vocals, delivered by guest vocalist Secthdamon, are slightly altered. The arrangements change and build up a solid, tight composition without overwhelming the listener.

"Artifex" starts with alarming, howling sirens. Then, electrifying guitar riffs along with drums and distorted vocals jump to the fore. The density of riffs, but also the combo of drumbeats and synths resemble motifs better known from newer Ministry and older Nine Inch Nails songs (the latter is specifically audible in the final part). The arrangements vary throughout the track, and the composition method makes it possible to avoid excessive repetitions. The bands operates with anger, tension, turmoil and silence very well.

"Sub-Humanist" erupts with no pause between the tracks. In fact, the rhythm keeps pumping so dynamically, that you'll probably begin headbanging right away. There are elements of thrash metal and a very little bit of electro, stimulated with modified, screamed vocals as well. The whole set is energizing and memorable, therefore I personally vote for "Sub-Humanist" as the best song on Artifex - at least when speaking of its 'metal' flavour.

After such a big dose of aggression, you may think that the musicians reached their limits and the next track can't be performed even more fiercely. Wrong. Each following song seems to sound angrier. "Overman" takes you on the first excursion into the world of dark tunes on this album - only at the beginning though, because wicked ferocity quickly breaks through the cinematic atmosphere. Buzzing, feedbacky, noisy industrial effects are sampled into the song, matching the other arrangements perfectly. Technically, some themes were gently borrowed from Fear Factory, but spiced up with In_zekT's own flavour.

Possibly to avoid a further escalation of mad energy, "Dialling the North Code" suddenly appears in a strangely fitting place on the tracklist. It's a dark ambient soundscape partly kept in vein of Mark Morgan's music (think of soundtracks to such classical video games as Fallout or Planescape: Torment). The cinematic, cold mood is enriched with deep thumping drones and undoubtedly reflects a story - one your mind may create when inspired by these dark sounds. Test your imagination. It's also an excellent track for a science-fiction movie or an artistic installation.

After the dour break, buzzing guitars make a return. "Ionize" begins with a shattered wave of mechanical drumbeats (there is no human drummer present in the band) followed by distorted vocals, guitars and minimally present synths. The beginning of the song sounds rather monotonous, regardless of its expressive fury. However, the track grows in time thanks to tempo changes, arrangement placements and guitars that occupy increasingly more space within the composition. There are powerful riffs in the middle of the song, while its ending is marked with significant fade out and silence.

Now, it's time for the apogee. A composition of "Termination Sequence" is long, for a reason. At first, it reflects what's labeled as cyber metal or futuristic metal thanks to specific sound effects mixed into the guitar driven arrangements (with a guest solo by Archaon) and a fiery performance. It then falls into an intriguing abyss of dark ambient soundscapes - drones, tiny buzzing, haunting passages, motifs of ocean and outer space, etc. - the mood changes drastically. The musicians deserve a standing ovation for the way they morph the end of the dark ambient part with the arrangement that follows, seamlessly leading through industrial tunes into metal again. The band accumulates all the features present in previous songs - diversified arrangements, a murky atmosphere and an explosive blast in the darkness. Not many metal artists can do it skillfully but In-zekT prove themselves. "Termination Sequence" is the other best track on the album, in terms of its overall value.

"No Fate But What We Make" begins with a healthy heartbeat, followed by sampling and altered, piercing guitar riffs as heard in some djent compositions. Vocals are slightly modified with distortions and SFX. The overall dynamics resembles a thunderstorm, yet changes throughout the track, including ambient passages. The middle of the song is melodic and memorable, with soft and gentle vocals. Yet another excellent conjunction between this and the return of guitars calls for respecting the musicians' skills.

The final two compositions, "This is Not an Exit" and "[0]" include a fair share of electronic and experimental sounds with additional samples provided by Vegard Dølerud. Guitars and metal arrangements appear throughout both compositions.

"[0]" is a noisy limbo, as experienced by someone attached to a rotary drill digging a corridor in a coal mine. The noise however slowly loses its dirty, confusing power to gain a dark ambient atmosphere in the end. It's a 22-minute long composition (that's how professional noise composers do it - check out i.e. the maestro known as Merzbow) - it may sound tiresome for most, but fans of experimental music should appreciate it.

In_zekT's artistic need for expression forged into Artifex resulted in a powerful, yelling blast and cold furious sounds penetrating deep enough to re-program your DNA - all that to make you remember their songs for a long time. Artifex keeps a perfect balance. The trick here is that both passionate and dark sounds build up a contrast which makes arrangements/songs emphasize one another. Moreover, this creates an acceptable tension, a method commonly used in classical music compositions.

This release is available in both digital and physical formats (digipack). Don't steal it, buy it. Support the band, because they turn their brainstorming into innovative music, successfully. The high quality of mastering and production (done by Peter and Kjetil with an additional engineering of Ronny Furuseth Kaasa) should help the album climb high in alternative music rankings.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Magazine, February 18th, 2014. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)



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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine

07 February, 2014

Dead of Day - Sick and Twisted

Dead of Day - Sick and Twisted (song review) |self-released, single, 2014| 4/5 metal

Dead of Day is a British one man metal project formed by musician/songwriter Rikki Siddle in late 2012. Inspired by music of bands such as Machine Head, Pantera, Killswitch Engage or Metallica, he released Walk in the Shadows EP in 2013.
Wrapped with heavy arrangements and angry moods, "Sick and Twisted" is his brand new single. Its beginning is exemplary of the exact sound that develops throughout the whole composition. Some bands prefer to utilize the so called 'wall of sound' (played in unison or individually), usually in the third part of a song - just before the end. Instead, Dead of Day uses a heavy mix of downtuned bass, chunky guitar riffs and dense drum beats in the first part of the track.

The arrangements smartly repeat and there are similarities to what we've heard so far on older Metallica albums. Guitar riffs entwine with bass and drums quite often within the song, weaving a stitched pattern. This type of composition keeps listeners energized and ready for headbanging.

The lyrics express disappointment being mislead by someone’s false self-presentation, perhaps due to a friend’s betrayal: "You're not the person you portrayed / Routine life your masquerade", "Your moral compass is corrupt / Shouts for forgiveness are unjust / The thoughts of what you could have done / Sick and Twisted pass the gun".
Rik doesn’t sing here - he rhythmically utters the lyrics with a haunting, hateful voice. This vocal method is quite characteristic of metal and hardcore music, yet well matched to Dead of Day's sound.

"Sick and Twisted" could definitely benefit from a better mastering and production process. It’s understandable that an artist in this genre would want his music to be rough, grainy and noisy. Yet even a reliable 'garage quality' tune can be cleaned from unnecessary noise, then polished to keep the original sound, with much improved quality. Such mastering services are usually pretty expensive, but there are many on-line & print resources that allow for a bit of sound engineering DIY.

Regardless of that, "Sick and Twisted" does sound catchy in its own heavy way, thanks to a lively dialogue between choruses and responsive guitars. They fit in the groovy background created by bass and drums very well. It's also nice to hear the riffs cut abruptly at the end of the track, where one would expect one more repetition.

According to Rik, his main focus has been on songwriting and recording, but he hopes to hear other bands record and perform his songs as well. Whether it’s about licensing, writing or performing music together or just being a passive listener, you should visit his website to give his other work a spin.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, February 6th, 2014. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)




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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine