Monday, March 30, 2009

Scale The Summit – Carving Desert Canyons CD review

Scale The Summit – Carving Desert Canyons CD (Prosthetic Records)

I remember when I purchased the band’s debut, “Monument” from Nightmare Records and I was surprised when I witnessed that all songs were instrumental ones! Scale The Summit are quite popular and this is a pleasant outcome, since their style will definitely encourage artists to express their creativity without sticking to the typical clichés (music with vocals). “Carving Desert Canyons” is their brand new second album and features 8 songs, all in the instrumental vein. I could categorize them as Progressive Metal, but they balance at times with Fusion and even some minor Lounge atmosphere (guitar-lounge suits better I think!), so the word “Experimental” that appears on their mySpace profile is the most suitable for their musical identity. “Sargasso Sea” is my pick from their CD, but the whole creation spins smoothly and quests the listener to pay attention to unpredicted mood through the songs. Complex music and wonderful riffing from founding members Chris Letchford and Travis Levrier, which contribute their style to the band’s trademark, with endless arpeggios, power chords and impressive talent! This particular musical style can and must attract many fans, since it helps the scene to breathe and grow endlessly! All four musicians are young of age and truly talented, full of energy so the future belongs to them! Let’s all support this prosperous four-piece band and wish them to remain faithful to their innovative style. Never forget that music is food for the mind and Scale The Summit can feed you well! The band tours currently in the US in order to promote the CD and I really wish them to visit Europe in order to present their work overseas! Band’s website: band’s mySpace profile:
Dimitris Starakis

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Max The Axe's Blazing Star interview

Max The Axe's Blazing Star second demo proved how a newcomer band can progress and create some fabulous music. Max, the talented 29-year-old Italian guitarist was kind enough and really fast when he send his reply to my questions. Enjoy the interview of a multi-talented musician!!

When you decided to form this project and why?

Honestly,I've always had a dream about giving life to a project or a band, about writing 2005, many things changed in my life, and the only wise thing to do was starting from the very beginning. Bad times make you realize what you really want. So I focused my goals, than started composing songs like "Blazing Star" and "Love Criminal", as well as "Still Holding On" and "Winds of Conquest". Only the first two tracks were included in our first demo, if you remember.

Your passion for Neoclassical Metal is obvious. What forced you to follow this qualitative genre?

I'm not here to be a sort of rip-off or somebody else's clone. I've always loved music from Rainbow, Europe, Queen, Deep Purple, Scorpions, Black Sabbath, and of course the absolute genius of Hendrix and Yngwie. Those artists are simply over the top, it would be a foolish game tryin' to clone them. Anyway, affinities with the music I love is quite obvious and natural. I listen to a lot of Baroque and Neoclassical Music as well. I'm here to play by the heart, not to keep following others' the next cd I'd like to include some blues tunes, since Stevie Ray Vaughan is another real genius for me, or some "atmosphere" as David Gilmour used to. Blazing Star change their skin every single day, eheheheh!

Italy has a lot of talented guitar players. Name me your favorites.
You could not believe in what I'm about to say, but I'm not involved at all in Italian music & guitar scene. I live in my own world, I hold on to Yngwie, Blackmore, Hendrix, Vaughan, and tons of other great heroes from the past, in Italy we have gifted guitarists like Giacomo Castellano which are mostly famous as session-men or tutors, but not as songwriters. I love Claudio Simonetti, he's a real keyboard ninja!!!!

Alessio Vanni is your singer. How did you decide to include him in the recordings?

We were searching for a vocalist which could remind us of Joey Tempest, Mark Boals, David Byron....and here it is!!!!!!! I think we've chosen the best around.

Tell me also about your collaboration with contrabassist Michelangelo Zorzit

He's a dear friend, and he's very professional. I asked him to come in my studio with his contrabass, and I let him listen to the backing track of "Still Holding On". He recorded some takes and I choose the best one. I think he did a great work, that contrabass part is really inspired, I think it perfectly fits with the chords....especially with the Major variation on the pre-chorus! What do you think about?
One of my favorite tracks on your 2nd demo is "Ice & Stone". Which are your favorite tracks from your demo?

I only wrote the music for "Ice & Stone", you should ask Tomas. Well, this is always the most difficult question to answer: at the times of our first demo, I've always preferred "Blazing Star" simply because I was not so ok with the first version of "Love Criminal". But in this case, how can I say "I love my son more than my daughter"??? You know what I mean, man. I think "Still Holding On" is the best song I've ever written...but I could tell you the same about "Excalibur", "Visions"...
Tell me about the lyrical content of your songs.
My lyrics are loud & clear: I write about passion, feelings, love, freedom, everything that common people faces everyday in life. "Winds of Conquest" is about American Natives,because they're people which suffered and fought hard for their land and their freedom. My songs are about truth, not about vikings or other shit.....I'm not interested in speaking about foolish or easy themes, my message is about the will to face difficulties, about living our life with both mind and heart. "Excalibur" is based on John Boorman's movie, which is one of the best memories from my childhood. "Visions" could seem a "fantasy" tune, but it tells about rising again like the Phoenix from the ashes, and that's almost BLAZING STAR's story!!!

In your official website you mention that Max The Axe’s Blazing Star is only a studio project. Have you ever thought on organizing a tour in order to promote your works?

We're working hard to find out the best elements we need to set up a complete band and shouting our Rock on stage, too! It's only a matter of time...

You are also a fan of the Italian Horror and cult movie scene! Which are your favorite director’s /movies and why?

I always loved cult movies from all around the world. You had Mastorakis, if I remember well...something like "Island of Death"....or "Chrysalis Day" I correct? I think Italy is absolutely the best country for horror movies, more than U.S.A.; we had Lucio Fulci who was a sort of Jim Morrison shooting movies. I love his no-compromise films, his totally unchained attitude. Dario Argento had his great moments too, but he's not so constant through time as Fulci was. Have you ever watched "They've changed face" by Corrado Farina??? It's one of the best examples of 70s Italian "art" cinema. I also love Spanish director Narciso Ibanez Serrador, who recently produce the home-videos "Peliculas para no dormir": take a look at those shorts, my friend!!!!

Tell me about your future plans. Have you started composing music for your 3rd demo?

Of course!!!! I have many ideas written on scores, including one song inspired by some Lovecraft tells about nightmares, that are actually the real monsters inside our mind. There's also a new track, even if it's still incomplete, about all the heroes from the past, not only concerning music but also politics, talks about passion and dedication to the cause that people had once. Nowadays everything is poor of meaning, there's no more passion.While working for Blazing Star, I'm also giving my contribution to a "written documentary" about Rock and Hard Rock History, that could be posted in a few days on a Italian Heavy Metal Website. A friend of mine asked me to write some memories, some feelings about playing Hard Rock...and so I accepted to help him in this adventure. Unfortunately, it will come in Italian only.
We first came in touch through mySpace and I want to know if this helped you to spread your reputation. Do you have contacts through mySpace with other underground bands as well?
I think Myspace is the best communication channel by now, not only for a band but also for a magazine, for a director, for an actor, for a shop ecc. I don't like "Facebook", instead: it seems to me like The Big know....I'm not so ok being monitored 24 hours a day by other people. Through shit like Facebook, we'll go like George Lucas' "THX1138".....if you know what I mean.

Add anything you may want!
First of all I have to thank you very much for your incredible support, I've read your review and I'm very happy to know you enjoyed our music!!! We're always happy if people understands that we're a honest, sincere Rock band. I hope your readers will be interested in our new demo-cd "Blazing Star II", too!!! A big CIAO to you, to your readers and to Greece! Blazing Star's still here to Rock!
Dimitris Starakis

Wicked Waltz – Chapter I mini-Cd review

Wicked Waltz – Chapter I mini-Cd (Independent Release)

I discovered this US band when I listened to Progpower’s IX showcase sampler D-CD. Their featured song was titled “A Heart That Cannot Bleed” and their Power metal style with some Progressive elements immediately caught my attention. The band was formed in 2004 by guitarist Micah Nicholson and they immediately started spreading their good reputation by giving concerts and participating in compilation CD’s. 2008 was a big year for the band, since their very first release saw the light of day. “Chapter I” includes four songs that provide unique thrills to the listener, from the opening “Lifemare”, to my favorite and catchier “My Last Wish” one of the most brilliant songs I’ve listened to lately!). The big advantage of Wicked Waltz is the solid twin guitars, played my Micah and Jamie, which create a powerful “background” for the intense keyboard parts that play an active role to the band’s musical identity. The voice of Jason is deep, melodic and flexible, something which is necessary for a demanding role in this band. The sextet form Alabama doesn’t deviate from the US melodic Power Metal style with some Progressive Metal elements as I wrote before, but their originality and creativity is obvious and make them stick out like a sore thumb! In case anyone is afraid to stick its neck out, I can easily say that Wicked Waltz is a bright hope for the scene and this is not an inept remark! I can tell you that I long for their full-length CD and I am pretty sure that you’ll feel the same when you obtain and enjoy “Chapter I”! Band’s website: band’s mySpace profile:
Dimitris Starakis

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Braver Since Then - Short On Patience, Burn In Haste CD review

Braver Since Then - Short On Patience, Burn In Haste CD (Stonefellowship Recordings/Independent Release)
Thank God for mySpace! Yes, this is the ideal prologue since through mySpace I was able to trace John Lutzow, the guitarist of one of my favorite Progressive Metal bands – Leviathan from Colorado, USA. John wanted to express his endless artistic expressions and formed BST. In 1994 the band started to become active and endless studio hours helped John to write down material , in order to release their debut in the fall of 1995. It was called “Naming my Pain” and it mostly included instrumental tracks, with a few vocal songs as well. After their debut, BST released 5 albums and some of their songs were put also in Leviathan albums such as “Born Unto” and “Legacy Departing”, that can be traced in Leviathan’s farewell CD “Scoring the Chapters”.
Braver Since Then is a band free from musical borders and it's hard to categorize them. The main ingredient on each and every song is one: intense feeling. There are parts in which the listeners can recognize some Leviathan parts out of the intelligent and prototype riffs that John creates, but also there word “prog” includes each and every influence that an artist can attract. The music is not as heavy as Leviathan’s musical style, as it includes many acoustic guitar parts, but there are riffs and solos that still carry the trademark of the glorious band. One fine example is the riff from the opener “Picture Perfect” or the song “Projecting Feelings”. I surely missed those intelligent riffs that only Leviathan used to present to us and I was quite happy that Braver Since Then and John are active and still present us their vivid talent. Female vocals also accompany at times Derek Blake’s voice, while musical parts are combined with catchy keyboard playing. BST will attract many fans of Prog Rock music, but also many people that are interested in original and “unpredicted” material.
I strongly recommend checking and supporting their music, since talented musicians and wonderful lyric writers like John Lutzow need you help in order to continue to give us pleasant surprises! “Short On Patience, Burn In Haste” is now available through iTunes and for further info, feel free to check their website:
Dimitris Starakis

Friday, March 20, 2009

Max The Axe’s Blazing Star – II Demo CD review

Max The Axe’s Blazing Star – II Demo CD

The project of Max The Axe, a truly gifted guitarist from Italy has sent me its second demo CD and I was really happy to witness the great progression of the band! First of all, Alessio Vanni handles the vocal parts of the songs and his abilities meet the expectations of the qualitative music that Max composes. The band’s style remain stable, with a delicate balance between Neoclassical and melodic Metal, including extraordinary guitar parts that only a true virtuoso with a Fender Stratocaster can create! As soon as I listened to the magnificent song “Ice & Stone”, I realized that this band can surely give a refreshing perspective to the scene, by composing wonderful tracks, influenced by the great masters of the genre (Rainbow, Yngwie J. Malmsteen). There are truly 8 faultless tracks in this demo and I am really glad that my wish about the progress of the band has been fulfilled! Even the song “Love Criminal 2008”, which has been re-recorded from the first demo, is definitely now a truly “upgraded” version. The listener can also recognize the intense Rainbow influence on “Excalibur”, while the sentimental “Still Holding On” features contrabassist Michelangelo Zorzit (former bassist of the Prog Rock band Hopo). I really can write pages and pages for the wonderful songs of this demo, since the musicianship is on the highest level! If you like pompous, grandiose Neoclassical Metal with fine vocals and over the top guitar performance, then this demo CD is a top pick! Symphonia, Andy Sartori & Symphony, Steve Shannon, Zyphoyd, Hidden Disturbances and now Max The Axe’s Blazing Star, are artists that give new breeze to the Neoclassical Metal genre! Order the CD by sending an e-mail to the band: Band’s mySpace profile:
Dimitris Starakis

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Faith Factor - Against A Darkened Sky CD review

Faith Factor - Against A Darkened Sky (Retroactive Records)
It’s been always a pleasure to receive new efforts from some favorite bands of mine, and Faith Factor is placed among my top picks. The Christian Metal band from New Jersey raised our expectation with their brilliant demo “07/07/07” and their full-length CD is once again a fine piece of qualitative US Power Metal. The band is truly gifted, having a frontman like Ski, who’s once again giving lessons of an original Metal performer. His deeply expressional voice give the needed might to the songs and delivers the Heavy Metal message in the song “Keep It True”! The fans of the band will be definitely satisfied with hymns like “Ascend Unto Heaven”, Armor Of God” and others, while I must admit that I am dying to witness this band performing live! The metallic might that this CD delivers is beyond words and expressions and only the listener can witness its magic! Ski’s voice is well-known to the fans of Deadly Blessing and his significant high-pitched tone fits perfectly to the hard and pounding Power Metal anthems! A bombastic atmosphere spreads throughout the album, which can be considered as a true value of US-Metal. Yes, Faith Factor can be already placed among the living legends of the scene, since their beliefs about Heavy Metal music remained faultless throughout the years! Allow me to show them my commitment and I have no other choice than to strongly suggest you to support them! Band’s website: Band’s mySpace profile:
Dimitris Starakis