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23 June, 2015

Cerakai - Only You Know

Cerakai - Only You Know (song review) |Gracie Productions, Within Your Realm EP, 2015| 4/5 electronic lounge

Cerakai is a UK based producer and musician with over 10 years of musical experience. Despite playing in a UK band before, he traveled to Sydney, Australia, where he launched a solo project. This probably lets him get more control over writing and managing own content for further development.

Fans of mellow lounge music will definitely enjoy this well balanced song at its “just about right” length. "Only You Know" includes arrangements written for several instruments. The graded, organic bass lines sound moody and velvety. The synth is high-pitched, cold and at times resonating. The occasional guitar riff vibrates nicely and pins into the arrangement like a needle. The beats are quick and dry. On top of all this, there are also delicate male vocals reciting the lyrics. The voice is matched well to the subtle yet groovy atmosphere.

The composition is simple and based on sweet repeating arrangements. Nevertheless, it sounds 'multidimensional' thanks to the vibration of each sound - the bass brings a lot of warmth, countered by the coldness of the synth. Both always oscillate, catching your attention in their opposing ways. Therefore, the human brain's hemispheres seem to be equally involved in processing these sounds - their math (through the timing of repetitions) and harmony (overall mood) together.
However, the track undoubtedly needs a matching intro and outro, that would help emphasize the body of the content better and 'zap' it into a shapely form. Without these, the song has no frame and opens with the same synth-bass arrangements which continuously repeat to the very end.

Finally, what makes the most for an electronic song’s potential is its audible charm and power, but also repetitions that get you hooked. In case of "Only You Know", we can't talk of any overwhelming sonic impact, but the pleasing repetitions are definitely here. Despite the song's gentle vibe (definitely not meant for headbanging), it has a chance to catch on with the right crowd, thanks to memorable fragments in which a sampled female voice repeats "you know". So, a short part of this track could potentially be successfully used as an advertisement jingle.

Cerakai provides music for movies and TV shows as well. Within Your Realm EP which was released in May 2015 is also available in US. It has aired on BBC Radio as well.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, June 22nd, 2015. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)


Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine

17 June, 2015

Ronan Le Barbare album review

Ronan Le Barbare - Ronan Le Barbare |self-released, 2015| 4/5 instrumental metal

1. Intro, 2. A Furor Normanorum, 3. Ascension Of The Black Insane Heart, 4. Tamdin, 5. In Utero, 6. The Barbarian, 7. Thulsa Doom, 8. Aromael, 9. Amen (Sepultura Cover)

Ronan Le Barbare is a solo project by French guitarist Ronan LeBouc. He has been making music for the last 17 years and the self-tilted album is his debut. Judging by the title, the musician has been touched and inspired by iconic 80's movies about a mighty warrior - Conan The Barbarian - which illustrated such aspects of human nature as brutality, spirituality, honor, vengeance, and sadness.

The album brings a collection of professionally arranged and performed instrumental songs which were mixed and mastered by Ronan's friend Vonig Le Mee. The highly poetic, spiritually moving "Intro" opens the tracklist with light guitar leitmotifs as well as an intriguing synth part. It is then followed by a series of chunky guitar riffs synced very well with drums, which all announce the arrival of "A Furor Normanorum". Technically, this 8+ minutes long track consists of two parts. The first is dynamic and metal-orientated and provides catchy arrangements (loud rhythm guitars vs soloing, background voice samples and slightly intrusive drums). The second is built upon repetitive, heavy guitar parts and sounds less rhythmic, yet captures the essence of human pain and suffering. It's finished with a murky, buzzing, electronic effect.

The introduction to "Ascension Of The Black Insane Heart" is a large quote taken from American Psycho movie where the protagonist, Patrick Bateman was confessing about his inner drama. The song keeps the tension, expressed through altered, extended, and sometime heavier guitar riffs, whereas a woman's lamentation and her insane laughter are the cherry on the pie of the overall atmosphere of this track. The arrangements are quite repetitive and tightly fill in this lengthy suite.

"Tamdin" begins innocently with an almost Victorian or even New Age set of passages. These then become enriched and develop into an epic guitar-driven arrangement. A Tibetan-like invocation comes in surprisingly, lowering the tone of the track and preparing the listener for a heavier ride. The drums, bass, and guitar that follow collaborate nicely, bringing a progressive metal vibe that sounds very vital thanks to a multitude of changes. The heavier part could definitely make a dynamic soundtrack for an action video game. Gloomy voices return to decrease the tempo and lead to an ending where two guitar arrangements (one gradual, the other stretched) collaborate together nicely, building up the mysterious atmosphere.

If you like melodious gothic moods, then the opening of "In Utero" should please you with its 'windy' mood and subtle, positive guitar arrangements. There's a feel of loneliness and isolation here, which slightly warms up until the spirited progressive rock riffs show up. Next, a very well written and performed, and also instantly memorable part of the composition starts. The listeners might vividly imagine a lone guitar virtuoso performing on a high cliff, with a grey sky as background, but also thunder and lightning approaching behind his silhouette. This lengthy composition gives some space for more 'exotic' instruments and ambient sounds such as ocean waves, which it ends with.

Now, in the name of aforementioned Conan, here comes "The Barbarian", with the most memorable Q&A quote from the movie ('Conan! What is best in life?') in the beginning, and the heaviest metal arrangements presented on this album. The rhythm guitars are layered and sound dirty, with shredding bringing us into higher tones. The drum parts are packed tightly and put on the top along with the bass lines. Tuned down, mighty guitar riffs come up next, reminiscent of Ministry's dense industrial metal vibe and enriched with similarly sampled quotes. Ideal for headbanging. Then the chase slows down again and the focus changes to cold melodic guitar riffs, supported by a slightly chaotic background. Both gradually fade away into the end of the song.

"Thulsa Doom" is another sonic trip into the heavy metal lands, with a dramatic performance by James Earl Jones, also sampled from the first Conan movie. Vibrating guitar riffs keep the sound up and spacey, while interestingly altered rhythm guitars attack from the other side like a swarm of angry hornets. The drums are very well matched, and don't steal attention from the initial guitar-driven dynamics. It's the best track of the whole album in my opinion, thanks to lively arrangements and equally interesting sonic backgrounds. It seems as if they make both of your brain’s hemispheres engaged into processing the incoming sound waves. Ronan openly and successfully shows a full spectrum of both playing and songwriting skills here.

You'll need some rest after the exposure to such a heavy cannonade. The eighth track on the album brings acoustic, subtle arrangements written for both guitar and synths. Moreover, it is the song which Ronan wrote for his daughter. Guitar riffs flow in steadily like ocean waves, later shaped into rock arrangements. A modulated sound of bells ends the track giving it a spiritual, ambient vibe.

The album’s closing track is the only one with actual vocals. Ronan chose to cover Sepultura's "Amen" with his very well matched, partly-growled voice that comes very close to the original. When the original song's overall tune is harsher, and more 'underground' thanks to a strongly accented bass, Ronan's version sounds much cleaner & spacey. Yet, his guitar riffs sound heavier and more modern than Sepultura’s. The song features an opera-like singer's voice, though Sepultura's original sounds more exotic, with the classical vibe playing that part here.

Ronan LeBouc seems to enjoy changing arrangements and may not settle down for making a track with just one mood, one arrangement, and all those repetitions that usually appear in popular song structures. The entire debut presents a cross-section of Ronan's best compositions so far, rather than being a concept album, but the music has lots to say to careful listeners. His songwriting and instrumental talents definitely are in their prime for another release, which could cover an original story narrated with several integrated chapters.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Magazine, June 15th, 2015. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)





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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine

05 June, 2015

Tengger Cavalry - Horseman

Tengger Cavalry - Horseman (song review) |Metal Hell Rec., Blood Sacrifice Shaman, 2015| 4/5 Mongolian folk metal

While browsing through a long list of metal bands, a listener may find out there are very few internationally recognized China-based groups in the genre. Here however comes an innovative and powerful Chinese quartet presenting traditional Mongolian music mixed with heavy metal guitars. The band members call it ‘Mongolian folk metal’, which is definitely an interesting addition to the already wide spectrum of metal music subgenres. Tengger Cavalry was established in 2010 as a solo project of Mongolian music, film & game music composer Nature Ganganbaigal. He formed the full band with Xin Wang, Kai Ding and Wei Wang later in 2012, and has released four albums in both Europe and United States up to date.

"Horseman" is Tengger Cavalry's newest track and was released on their Blood Sacrifice Shaman album (released as a limited demo version in 2010). The song title refers to a Mongolian nomadic man, one of those who are historically known for their excellent horse-riding skills (as well as hunting with falcons and eagles, as you might have watched in many movies). Fast horse-riding means an accelerated tempo and therefore, the band showcased that in this track.

The song begins with a surprising intro that would work well for an electronic composition, but leaves no doubt what is to come when it is followed by a straightforward guitar cannonade soon after. The track is entirely instrumental but it could sound mighty with growling vocals as well. The arrangements include the aforementioned traditional Mongolian tunes, skillfully combined with heavy, dirty metal guitars. The composition allows for giving space to both - at first you'll hear the folk vibe, then fast-paced drums, bass and guitars, then finally a complete mixture of them all.
The sound is heavy and vibrating but also soft and dreamy at times. Thus, it is a straight call to action that a bit later invites you to take a break. Listeners may imagine a furry horseman resting in front of a tent, next to a bonfire, eating fried meat and relishing the view of the place he was born in and belongs to - a vast grassland overlooked by the snowy mountains in the distance. Such a landscape may look boring to some foreigners, but it means freedom, survival, and a direct contact with nature for any native. After the rest, you can see him continue his mounted exploration of the land.

Is this kind of music inspiring? Definitely, as much as Norwegian metal drives listeners to dig into the Norse mythology to study about Valhalla, Fenrir or Yggrasil. In fact, Tengger is the name of the sky god of the Mongolian land. Moreover, if you're a fan of metal music looking to branch out, then this track may encourage you to not only start listening to Mongolian and more Asian ethnic music, but also researching and supporting the growing metal music scene over there.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Magazine, June 5th, 2015. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)





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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine

06 May, 2015

Interview with In Virgo

NINa: An album that offers catchy, smartly arranged and composed tracks, with many potential hits, almost calls for a tour to check out how people react to your music. I've heard you'd like to perform for soldiers, just like Filter did in Iraq a few years ago. Would you be interested in playing shows for the U.S. Army only or perhaps other allied military forces as well?

Chris Hodges (vocals): Performing for the wounded warriors at Camp Pendleton was one of the highlights of my musical career. It was a special moment, because a lot of them had just landed back in the states from Iraq, and they were so excited and welcoming to us. I got to meet some very brave soldiers who lost their limbs only two weeks prior, but the energy and passion they brought to the show with them was unforgettable. I have so much respect for our military; I'd do a tour for them any day, any time, any location.

Chris Egert (guitar/synth/programming): It would be a real honor to do a gig like that. It’s refreshing to play to people outside of the “scene” who are so enthusiastic and receptive to the music, and a show like that would certainly carry more gravitas and meaning than some stupid bar on the Sunset Strip! My little brother is actually part of the National Guard and getting ready to deploy overseas again this fall, so this kind of opportunity would really resonate with me as well.

April 6th, 2015, full interview at: http://industrialrock.net/php-files_en/articles.php?article_id=555

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Interviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine

In Virgo - In Virgo

In Virgo - In Virgo |self-released, 2015| 5/5 industrial rock, alt-rock, metalcore

1. Set Me Free, 2. The Light At the End, 3. The Chosen, 4. Lost All Of You, 5. The Poison, 6. Breaking Apart, 7. Public Enemy, 8. Bully The Few, 9. Revolution, 10. Colors, 11. Exposed, 12. Part Of Me

It's quite common in the music industry to find a guitar-driven album holding between one and four hit songs. In Virgo's release however may be a breakthrough in that category, since almost every of the 12 tracks present here has the potential to be a hit.
Chris Egert (guitar/synth/programming) has already proved his songwriting skills through making catchy music for his past project Replica. He then joined an electro/rock band September Mourning a few years later. The singer, Emily Lazar worked together with Chris, and also a little with Chris Vrenna (Nine Inch Nails) and Dave "Rave" Ogilvie (Skinny Puppy), leading to the Melancholia album released in Europe in 2012. While we’re talking collaborations, In Virgo's tunes are enriched with clear and metal-orientated voice of Chris Hodges, who definitely sounds fitting.

"Set Me Free" opens the tracklist with a gentle piano arrangement which is then joined by a dynamic fusion of edgy guitars, drums and metalcore vocals. There are guitar rock solos, the bass sounds thick, and every tune fits into the place perfectly. The lyrics here, and in other compositions on the album, refer to breaking from restrictions - and that can mean a break-up, a suicide attempt, opposing bullying, but also awakening to something new or an emotional detox.

"The Light At the End" brings a buzz of dynamics thanks to a tight mix of the guitar-bass-drums combo and rebellious, slightly raspy vocals. The track sounds catchy from the beginning to the very end and the choruses are going to etch themselves in your memory pretty easily. Such attributes make it a smashing hit to be performed live in front of a bigger audience.

The pace slows with the arrival of "The Chosen". The song's mood feels a bit darker than in the first two compositions. A bit more light shines through the choruses, however. As the song’s lyrics develop, a line of standing out vocals casts a feel of courage as indeed, anybody feeling as a 'chosen one' would be expected to express. Amazingly well written arrangements make this track a must-listen. Fans of Filter will dig "The Chosen" right away.

"Lost All Of You" begins with the sound of an unplugged guitar and catchy choirs, as if to avoid a repetition of intro techniques. It then develops into an alt-rock composition by bringing broad, uplifting choruses. My guess is that it was written to flow with sounds of many new and liked bands of the aforementioned genre. Yet there's no copycatting - it’s just In Virgo's original song writing enriched with the by now ‘usual’ edgy guitars. A lively and gentle guitar tune finishes the song, making its end a smooth match with the song's beginning, inviting to a looped listening.

A different vibe is utilized for "The Poison", which is kept in the vein of drum'n'bass thanks to phat and bubbly synths. There are, however, softer vocals used on the top of all the electronica. These can speak for Hodges' talent - his voice sounds at times rebelling, then velvety - and always adjusted to any song's mood. Since "The Poison" is one of tracks bringing slower tempo to the album, you can catch a breath before the high energy returns.

"Breaking Apart" will definitely please Filter’s fans, but they will not be the only ones enjoying it. Aside from bringing a familiar groove and melody, the song is vibrant to the point of spawning images of a fast-pace music video accompanying the track in your head. It has moments of drama, followed by the release of all the gathered-up tension. The drums and bass collaborate nicely here, keeping the dynamics steady. The vocals also comfortably appear as planned along all the instrumental parts, making the whole composition of "Breaking Apart" a prime example of great songwriting. Listeners who prefer heavier tunes get an exciting wall of sound, spiced up with aggressive vocals near the end of the song. Big applause to Chris Egert for the spreading of a harmonious mix of both electronic and guitar driven arrangements.

Next, we have "Public Enemy" with its vibrating, graded guitar riffs and a rebellious, marching vibe. The song moves from aggressive to melodic (and back again), especially in choruses. Through this track, In Virgo proves that a balanced composition needs to keep vocals at bay when there's a good moment to bring up instrumental parts only (and vice versa). Yet another great live show song.

As the title implies, "Bully The Few" touches on the very hot and relevant topic of bullying and speaks about breaking away from your enemies to honor your personal human freedom. It brings an equal portion of synths and guitars along with aggressive vocals and powerful dynamics. Yet again, In Virgo gives you a lesson in how to end a track properly.

"Revolution" comes with a slower tempo than its predecessors, but remains energetic thanks to the edgy guitar riffs. Its overall tune is softer, gives a hopeful feel, and could swap the vocals for female ones. Yet another track on the album good enough to be supported by a music video, as it brings a lively set of images to your mind while listening. While the synths put more 'air' and build up a space within the tune, the guitars, bass, and drums keep the entire composition properly grounded.

"Colors", on the other hand, is opened very lightly, with electronic samples. An effusion of guitar riffs follow next bringing a completely different 'color' to the palette of available sounds, including both brighter and darker shades. The riffs here sound dirty at times, while the drums are exposed. The song's mood is positive and uplifting though, with wide-open straightforward and repeating vocal parts make it a highly memorable hit song.

The theme of "Exposed" refers to dropping a mask without fear and living one's life in peace with the authentic self. The composition begins with a delicate tone which is then surrounded by a groovy, interlaced line built upon bass, drums, and guitars. Again, Chris Hodges presents his full voice range and you should be able to tell by now that he's a talented and definitely well trained singer. In addition, tiny choral elements in the background bring an “easy listening” feel to the track.

The album finishes on the peaceful note with yet another mild song. "Part of Me" offers a blend of modern rock sounds and therefore is a perfect track to be aired on the radio. The vocals and guitars are strongly accented but not pushy at all. They both flow smoothly, supported by matching drums and bass lines. "Part of Me" also calls for providing a suitable video for promotional purposes. Finally, if you listen closely to the lyrics, you may find traces of romantic poetry expressed through lines such as "I traded a photograph for sand and blue sky / It fades when the light falls short of your eyes when you cry".

Every composition on this album recalls a full circle - an entirely complete piece of art with extremely well written arrangements and compositions, professionally mixed, mastered, and produced. The tracklist order is set to gradually shift the listeners’ mood and attention for the ultimate listening experience. Fans of industrial rock, alt-rock, metalcore and those in love with Dope, Filter, the 90s Nine Inch Nails or even Celldweller will not be disappointed - but by no means should the audience for this album be limited to those groups. All the tracks could easily find their way to TV, movies or ads through licensing. They are equally promising for powerful live performances or intimate private listening sessions. The LA-based duo distribute their debut album in tune with a revolutionary new business model - you can either download music files for free or buy them. This should guarantee the In Virgo album reaches as many listeners as possible. Make sure you give it a try as soon as you finish reading this.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, April 9th, 2015. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)





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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine

02 May, 2015

Nick Kane - At The End Of His Line

Nick Kane - At The End Of His Line (song review) |single, 2015| 4/5 blues

Nick Kane is a blues and rock guitarist who doesn't shy away from making music rooted in guitar driven genres such as glam, punk and rockabilly but also collaborating with North American & European bands. He has been exposed to classical music thanks to his father - an opera singer who seemingly let Nick get on the music scene faster than other musical peers - he was already performing live by age 17. After spending the 70s and 80s on making music and touring with various bands, he then joined The Mavericks - a famous country act in 1993 and recorded his first solo album six years later.

'At The End Of His Line' is Nick's brand new single which offers a lively swinging rhythm. The contrabass nicely cooperates with well matched drums, inciting listeners to get up and dance with their partner, just like in the 60s. The guitar sounds gentle and adds an equally entertaining flavor to the composition with a welcomed exposure in the middle of the song. The non-complex and classic arrangements are also very well written, with every tone carefully placed at the right spot. These instrumental parts are enriched with memorable, low male vocals that are properly bouncy, just as old school rock'n'roll music taught us throughout the years.

The well adjusted instrumental arrangements are matched with an epigram-esque, witty but not overly positive lyrics. A short tragicomedy telling the story of a fisherman who fell in love with a girl, but sadly she was more attracted to his best friend Sam. He then caught the two flirting, or perhaps even having sex in his own truck, down by the lake where he was fishing often. Judging by the context, the jealous fisherman might have pushed the car into the water - the couple drown but he continued fishing peacefully. The listeners may enjoy a hidden, humorous yet erotic suggestion of why Sam might have felt so very self-confident: "he like to talk and brag about his own fishing pole, how it was longer, longer and stronger" and "he was casting his bait into the girl with a curl but truth be told she had to know about a pole".

How can you enjoy the song other than just listening to it on your personal audio? Its length and vibe are perfect for radio play, so DJs should contact Nick's management as soon as possible. 'At The End Of His Line' will also sound great if played as background music in pubs or restaurants and certainly during live performances. Avid drivers will enjoy the track as well, since it brings non-distracting dynamics. It could also be licensed for a movie or advertisement thanks to its specific vintage feel.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, April 22nd, 2015. http://industrialrock.net)

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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine