Tag Archives: progressive metal

festival review: Ihsahn live at Bangalore Open Air, 2013

And now the fanboy speaks…

The only reason I had decided to travel all the way to Bangalore, almost a month back, was to see one of my favorite black metal vocalists and musician extraordinaire Vegard Sverre Tveitan in flesh, also known as Ihsahn to the world. When Emperor had dis-banded it was like a personal loss to me because I knew I’d never see them play live or record an album again. But that was that.

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In 2005, Ihsahn formed a band under the same monicker to experiment with the various ideas that his creative and passionate mind kept coming up with. Not black metal by definition, Ihsahn made sure the underlying theme remains dark and picked up from where he left off on Prometheus – The Discipline of Fire & Demise, Emperor‘s 2005 release. Hence the progressive nature of the music on all of his solo works.

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When Ihsahn stepped on the stage with his guitar, I simply couldn’t believe that I was staring into his eyes. He was the same man who wasn’t into any kind of politics when the black metal scene erupted in Norway in the early-1990’s. Instead he made more and more music to make his point. It took me, personally, a good ten minutes to survive the fact that I’ve seen a person who encouraged me to get my first tattoo dedicated to him, who opened new avenues in my mind, who made black metal my lifestyle and was influential to me in so many more ways.

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This multi-instrumentalist performed tracks from Eremita, which released in 2012 as well as tracks from all of his previous releases After (2010), angL (2008) and The Adversary (2006). The years have been mentioned besides the album names in order to show his consistency as a musician. Although Ihsahn is a solo project the live members include Tobias Ørnes Andersen (drums), Tor Oddmund Suhrke (guitars, backing vocals), Øystein Landsverk (guitars, backing vocals), Einar Solberg (keyboards, additional vocals), Rein T. Blomquist (bass) – All of whom are members of Leprous from Norway. Leprous were also part of Bangalore Open Air and they performed just before Ihsahn on the Ronnie James Dio stage.

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A legend made an appearance in India, entertained us, even said he was very happy for being able to make it and left me and I’m sure many others speechless by his humility, stage presence and undying love for music. It is moments like these that remain stored in a shell inside our subconscious mind and it is moments like these that make life worth living. I know Emperor fans are still trying to get their head around the fact that they actually saw Ihsahn, and we all should thank the organizers of Bangalore Open Air for making an intelligent and worthy choice. All the way from Norway!

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[ Pictures – courtesy of Khushboo Sinha. Everybody head over to the link to check out more of her work here: Khushboo Sinha’s tumblr page ]


festival review: Leprous live at Bangalore Open Air, 2013

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Many might not have figured this out, but in Ihsahn‘s band there were only members of Leprous, apart from the main man of course. Hence Leprous got this big break of travelling all the way from Norway to not just perform with Ihsahn but to showcase their own slab of avant-garde progressive metal. Since I am a huge fan of Norwegian black metal I went there thinking they are just a band that’s there to fill a slot but they proved me wrong from the very first note.

tor oddmund suhrke leprous bangalore open air 2013 absurd history

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What’s so peculiar about Leprous you ask? It’s their flair. Grabbing eardrums by way of closely scrutinized progressiveness and attracting eyeballs by way of dressing up in a distinct fashion (think Akercocke, Ghost). Norwegians have these magnetic personalities and you end up bobbing your heads anyways.  Up on the Ronnie James Dio stage, Leprous made a major contribution to Bangalore Open Air, 2013. Downright progressive metal with characteristic riffs and consummate drumming crippled many in the crowd which directly earned Leprous many new fans.

Coal, Leprous‘s third full-length, was released this year and hence the set-list included most of the tracks from the new record. Each member brought in their own influences, and it looked like a large assembly on the platform with five members in the band. Vocalist Einar Solberg also doubled up as a synth player. Almost every other member, except drummer Tobias Andersen, boosted the band’s sound through backing vocals. Let’s not forget the elephantine addition by the other three significant members Tor Oddmund Suhrke (guitars), Øystein Landsverk (guitars) and Rein T. Blomquist (bass).

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Thumbs up from India to this progressive act, by not just me but the audience who took pleasure in their music and the people who are going to discover them bloody soon through word-of-mouth. The conglomerate that is Leprous is a force to reckon with in the years to come, and I’m going to keep track of the happenings in their garage. Cheers, guys!

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[ Pictures – courtesy of Khushboo Sinha. Everybody head over to the link to check out more of her work here: Khushboo Sinha’s tumblr page ]


festival review: Animals As Leaders live at Bangalore Open Air, 2013

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A major chunk of the population that was there to attend Bangalore Open Air this year was for Animals As Leaders, which could be easily seen from the excitement in the crowd. Now that excitement was because they were all fans of extreme progressive instrumental metal or because Animals As Leaders were the first international band to hit the stage after Demonic Resurrection‘s slot is something I’d like to leave for the readers to interpret. I’ll add this for some assistance – “Arey wo foreign wala band chalu ho gaya hai” was overheard while I was walking towards Jeff Hanneman stage with my beer in tow. For readers not versed with the language Hindi the statement translates to “That band from abroad has started performing”.

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Frankly, I wasn’t there at the festival for Animals As Leaders simply because I don’t understand them. Before everyone draws a conclusion about the writer here, I merely implied that their music is not supposed to be understood. Such level of progressiveness is a gift of Animals As Leaders‘s sensory abilities. Keeping up with the marvelously frequent change in the pace and shredding of the guitar, and neatly done so, watching the drummer communicate with the rest of the troupe at the same speed and watching the coordination between the trio from the United States is not anyone’s piece of cake. It is enjoyed because it is not something everyone can do.

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Toshin Abasi is a genius, and let me re-iterate, he is a genius. He doesn’t even look at his guitar strings while animatedly scribbling his fingers through them. Instead, he smiles at the audience and humbly gathers all the affection that everybody has to offer. Well, let me put it this way – You cannot not love someone who is so precociously talented, be it a musician or a writer for that matter. That knowledge of the unknown, that confidence of the unheard and that guitar playing unlike anyone cannot be ignored.

Javier Reyes is no less, folks. Going hand-in-hand with the complicated instrumentation, Javier aided in getting those fists high up in the air while drummer Matt Garstka fucking broke the bass drum by bashing the kit inhumanly. Matt does his shit with complete concentration, and that’s what happens when so much awesome intensity gathers at one place and all of it culminates into an explosion. New bass drum please…

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Animals As Leaders possibly got the best reception as it was during their set that we saw maximum mayhem. No, bodies weren’t flying but hell of a lot of metal love was bestowed upon the band. So, it would be safe to say that Animals As Leaders left the stage and the country with a lot of satisfaction, and we, the crowd are still trying to understand what happened during their majestic set with only one question on our minds – How the fuck do they play all that?

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[ Pictures – courtesy of Khushboo Sinha. Everybody head over to the link to check out more of her work here: Khushboo Sinha’s tumblr page ]


festival review: Demonic Resurrection live at Bangalore Open Air, 2013

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It was at Bloodstock Open Air last year that I saw India’s Demonic Resurrection play for a multiethnic crowd, and I wanted to see how accepting the audience is. And having seen them in our country for the last ten years I must say the response was as good as what I must’ve seen at one of their best gigs in India, if not better. This, when Paradise Lost were on the main stage.

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Welcome to the Ronnie James Dio stage where Demonic Resurrection – the oldest, one of the the biggest and darkest Indian band that kick started this year’s Bangalore Open Air festival, but in broad daylight. Nevermind. Unfortunately the only Indian band to have been invited to play at the Bangalore festival (as the rest couldn’t for various reasons), Demonic Resurrection braced the audiences with their brand of demonic metal. Demonic metal, which I would say is a concoction of symphony, progression, speed, death, black metal with a slice of technicality is today very mature than what we have heard from them over the years.

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The set list consisted of tracks from their previous two albums, A Darkness Descends (2005) and The Return to Darkness (2010), out of the three that Demonic Resurrection has released till now. Sadly, since they were the first band to open Bangalore Open Air post the Wacken Metal Battle the audience was only a handful who treated themselves to a cocktail of some complex extreme metal. A sound that is one of it’s kind in our sorry ass nation, and a band that made its way to the top through sheer fortitude. While many tried to bring them down, the band retaliated with more hard work, thereby setting an example in the minuscule history of metal that India has.

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Frontman Sahil Makhija, a friend and a good musician, shouldn’t have called out the name of some guy from the audience as that, for me, does not add to the stage act. Crowd interaction is a must for entertainers, and Demonic Resurrection being the torchbearers of metal itself in India does not do it any less. The audience would be a lot happier if there is more interaction in general, than pointing out names. We are at a festival and in the audience there could be anybody from any place on the planet. That being said, Demonic Resurrection is tight as a tick, musically. Thanks to the ensemble star cast that comprises of guitar prodigy Daniel Rego, bass-nailer Ashwin Shriyan, impossible-to-match drummer Virendra Kaith and synth-lover Mephisto.

All set to release another album this year, Demonic Resurrection made sure they do not give the listeners a sneak peek of their yet-to-be-titled fourth album. If you are a fan then you’ve got to wait and watch out for their new sound, which according to guitarist Daniel is, “much more evolved than what we’ve composed in our earlier albums, in every department that DR delves into“. With a live performance like that, and an album in the pipeline I wish DR all the very best for their future.

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[ Pictures – courtesy of Khushboo Sinha. Everybody head over to the link to check out more of her work here: Khushboo Sinha’s tumblr page ]


album review : Orkan (2012) – Vintersorg

album : Orkan

artist : Vintersorg

genre : Viking/Folk Metal, Progressive Metal

year : 2012

Jamming even more seriously to their own proggy folk tunes, the Swedish-duo reproduce their jolly good music, and while you’re playing the album you’ll even forget to wipe your nasal mucus. Effective, eh?

Start a topic on folk metal and a detailed discussion would lead to the conclusion that Vintersorg are second to hardly any bands. These sons of Sweden could never make an intelligent critic frown at their tracks, simply because the mesmerizing output of their hard work is beyond the realms of musical pleasure. Managing to weave together viking topics with heaps of progression has made them a bullet proof metal act. With seven full-length albums that speak on behalf of this band’s talent, the journey that Vintersorg has had, looks straight out of a successful band’s biography that has multiple merits to it’s credit. Correction – A successful folk metal band’s biography. Folk is a step ahead, it is an elaboration of metal, and makes the genre proud.

Never simplistic in their approach, Vintersorg‘s eight full-length Orkan takes its time to unravel some of the untouched mysteries of a lovable metal category. Within an year of Jordpuls, the duo consisting of Vintersorg and Mattias Marklund have dropped an unsurprising package of eight tracks. Take for instance the speed-driven riffing on Istid, with a lot of clean vocals accompanied by many parts of chorus. The drumming pattern on the album is circuitous, and dials a different progressive number each time. Ur Stjärnstoft Är Vi Komna sets the surrounding on fire, helps vocalist Vintersorg growl his own words, and is mostly symphonic. Growls take the pole position on Havets Nåd, and Norrskenssyner.

The beauty of Vintersorg lies in the fact that even though they might be working too hard, their songs come across as seamless. Like how some things are meant to be, their songs too meant to be logical and musically meaningful. Third track Polarnatten has it all packed into one, be it the vocals, the keyboards, the boundless guitar playing. It is one song that has folk written all over it, along with Orkan and Havets Nåd. Vintersorg has been a town of melodies with every alley filled with melody in some or the other form. Even Orkan would receive all of my votes for carrying rhythmic tunes. Specially on Norrskenssyner and Urvädersfången, as they raise the groove bars too.

Nature, philosophy, culture can have bright as well as dark aspects to them, and when an epic band like this one decides to devote their songwriting to such subjects then the music branches out into several directions. Myren has a surprise in store with a very bluesy and pleasant guitaring. Orkan is entirely in Swedish, which won’t hit you in the first instance. The production is neither excellent, nor a let down. A fine balance is maintained, and is even raw at places.

The ever-lighting lamp post that goes by the name of Vintersorg has once again produced songs that pierce deeper into your skin, and make a visible place for themselves, even if it means to find the whole space already clogged with some good folk releases this year, which includes my favorite album Helvetios. Orkan will usher you into the strong viking kingdom, where the floating bubbles of progressive material will burst softly and you’ll cling on to the record for a long time to come.

Rating : 4.5/5


Day 2 of The DesertFest, London 2012 at The Underworld : A review in pictures

zippo

With day 1 behind me, time management had become an important aspect for the remaining two days. In any kind of festival holding the schedule and using your time effectively would help you catch maximum number of artists which would not happen if you go to one venue, hold a bottle of beer and keep appreciating the taste of the drink. I had a lot of running around to do on Day 2. Not only between the handpicked Desertfest venues, but I also had to visit HMV Forum. Boltfest was happening there on the same day. Wrong timing, and even though I was sad about missing out on bands like Orange Goblin, Church of Misery, Truckfighters, Slabdragger, Black Pyramid and the like, Boltfest was exclusive with names on the bill that are institutions of death metal. More on that another time, but this is how the line-up looked for day 2 at The Underworld

Zippo
Shrine ’69
Roadsaw
Sungrazer
Valient Thorr
Truckfighters
Church of Misery
Orange Goblin

Italian progressive sludge band Zippo looked prepared to take the audiences on a journey and sure they did!  The sound, feel and texture had me standing in the first row and focusing on the trippy trail they were leaving behind with each moment on their songs. The vocalist Davide was not in the same world as us, he was conversing with some creatures from another world and we were all watching him with undivided attention. Great band.

shrine ’69

By now I had no doubt about the choice of bands for The DesertFest. The event was on it’s way to being a perfect success with an impressive line-up. Shrine ’69 were next. Hailing from Suffolk, the four piece band had several plus points. Firstly they balanced gentle music and energetic instances with ease, and secondly they also had a unique style that also brushed blues. All in all a band I’d want to watch again!

Roadsaw came all the way from Boston, US and brought rock n’ roll gushing with southern riffs along with them. It was only a matter of time before they unleashed a raw sound that occasionally tilted towards the groove side of things. The smoke filled venue had it’s mood lifted by these four like-minded musicians who also carried the attitude to go with their music. One of the best half an hour I dedicated to a band at this year’s DesertFest.

The rest of the bands could not be captured, nor enjoyed since I had to get going for Boltfest.

Here’s a gallery that talks about everything Zippo, Shrine ’69 and Roadsaw did on stage.

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gig review : IIT Bombay presents Mood Indigo Livewire 2011 featuring Karnivool

karnivool, livewire 2011

Before any other organizer starts planning about getting down a headlining act, that we look up to, these IIT-ians at Bombay are done dealing with the leading bands and have packed them off already. Their choices cannot be doubted, because they have by far had bands that are the torchbearers of their respective genres. Ensiferum in 2008, Porcupine Tree in 2009, Katatonia in 2010 and Karnivool in 2011. Who would have thought?

Everytime December seems close I keep my ears open for the organizers of Livewire to announce an act that nobody would have thought they’d get in touch with. These young brains are given the freedom to make decisions using which they do some mind-reading and put up a show that becomes more than just memorable. My association with Livewire dates back to 2005 and onwards. With each passing year nothing changes, audiences enter the institute via the main gate, go straight and take the biggest right turn the campus has to offer and there you are at the Student Activity Centre (SAC). The line to enter the venue never ends. Nothing changes except for the scale at which the event is conducted.

So, being the media partner for Livewire it was a breeze to enter the venue and for the first time in about six years I saw the event starting from band number one!

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Lineup for the evening included –

1. Hoodwink’s Circle (1st runner’s up)
2. Turnkey (2nd runner’s up)
3. Verses (winners)
4. Junkyard Groove (opening band)
5. Karnivool

Although the three finalists were fighting it out for the same title, not every band got the same amount of time to showcase their prowess on stage. That said, the bands had the attitude, they did what they could. While I would have chosen Hoodwink’s Circle for representing India at the Global Finals, the judges chose Verses. I, however, do not agree with the result nor did one of the on-looker who had this to say, “They were playing forever, it’s like they were headlining the show“. Only I am allowed to be non-anonymous on this zine.

Welcoming Karnivool were Chennai-localites Junkyard Groove who opened the doors to funky rock ‘n roll draping the entire venue with their brand of melody. Although vocalist Ameeth Thomas failed at trying to make the crowd laugh (by cracking lame jokes), his voice more than made up for everything. So, JYG (short for Junkyard Groove) should just stick to entertaining the crowd, through music. There is a new album in the making, according to Ameeth and the crowd got to hear a lot of fresh material here. This was the first time I saw JYG live, and I must say they were so much more better than a certain Thermal And A Quarter (they played Livewire in 2007). I was caught snoring during TAAQ‘s set. Before I forget, good individual talent in JYG.

8:15 p.m. Lights, camera, action, sex! Karnivool, progressive rock musicians from Australia, showed everyone why they should be remembered more often than the stupid kangaroos from their continent. Kicking-off the concert with Goliath, the band surpassed every expectation, bringing together universes of sound. It was not just about the music, but the collective effort of the five personalities who made sure everything around seems surreal for the next one and a half hours. Ian Kenny, the frontman, speaks less and emits more. Like he said, “Music is a universal language. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are from, music brings us all together“.

karnivool, livewire 2011

Everytime an international artist debuts in India they are surprised. It’s like they never hoped to see such reactions. Same happened with Karnivool. With hands on their mouths, the band was taken aback by the kind of love that was being showered upon them. Even I was surprised how some posers had mastered the art of displaying their undying support for the band although they’ve heard just one song by the band. Just one.

Karnivool was short of words and hence they continued performing rather than wasting any time. Their presence itself made all the difference.

Even the light arrangements were superbly done adding to the psychedelic property of Karnivool‘s songs. Before you even ask let me tell you that on-stage they are even more telling than the records. Their musical marathon continued non-stop till about 9:30 p.m. and then there was an encore.

karnivool, livewire 2011

This was their set-list for the night

Goliath
Simple Boy
Set Fire to the Hive
Cote
Umbra
All I know
Deadman
Fear of the Sky
Themata
Roquefort

New Day
Change

This concert was 2011’s biggest highlight for me. Yes, including NH7 Weekender and Metallica concert. There are reasons, and then there are reasons.

The Open Air Theatre (OAT) at IIT Powai is fast becoming a venue that would be counted on the first five fingers every time major ‘concerts’ are spoken about. Countless memories of so many artists and attendees are attached to this place. It only gets bigger and better each time, and more than anything else the organizers at IIT are making so many dreams come true. And, in case you already don’t know, making that happen is not the least bit easy.

Ian Kenny doing a Dharmendra!

[ All pictures – courtesy of Bobin James and Diane Vaz. Click on the names to join their official facebook page and check out their work. ]

And some more :

gig review : IIT Bombay presents Mood Indigo Livewire 2010 featuring Katatonia

Karnivool’s gig announcement and my first thoughts

The debut album that took Karnivool where they are today

Why you should read the Satanic Bible

Pope says child pornography is normal

All the album / Ep / Demo / Teaser Reviews

Other cool stuff on this zine


Karnivool live in India – a sweet overdose of music

Come December, and these progressive musicians from Australia are going to take Bombay by storm with their uniqueness!

All you music freaks in the house, why so sewn and silent? Come on make some noise!

They say if a bird poops on you it is good luck, but this coming December the amount of progressive stuff Karnivool is going to drop on everyone in India cannot be measured. The moment I first heard Themata I wasn’t a simple boy anymore, in fact a whole new galaxy opened up. I was forced to walk through an alley of progression, that turning back from there was not an option. Boy, did I feel l1fel1ke or what!

Post-Themata came Sound Awake, in 2009. Fuck your definition of music, when I poured Karnivool‘s second full-length into my ears it sucked me in. I got trapped in a rubik’s cube and there was no way out. Music aimed at making even the extra terrestrial beings meditate, Sound Awake stalked me enough to be at one with myself.

Watching Karnivool play their tracks live, with Ian Kenny‘s vocals that give me a boner, eliminates the need to ponder over things that are insignificant. If you believe in a higher power then you definitely need to be present at Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay on the 18th of December. Karnivool are not only way above the higher powerless shit, they are visible too. Oh! Now you got it. IIT Bombay has set a benchmark in getting down bands that need to be here. Hitting the bull’s eye, yea baby. Be there!

I haven’t missed this event for the last five years (except for Porcupine Tree) but unfortunately I might be fucking off to UK before this humongous event happens. Unlucky is a small word to explain what point my mind is trying to drive home. If not here, I will catch them somewhere, sometime but I just hope destiny sets up my appointment with Karnivool on the day in question here. After all a standard deck has fifty two cards for a reason.

The rest of you are closing in on that feeling of a spacecraft that will take y’all to a place you’ve never visited. You are not even required to eat roquefort before attending the gig, you can enter the venue anyways. Now that’s a bonus! Adventure is in store. For all I know, you might even go through a metamorphosis after the concert, a change as they call it, unless of course you don’t allow that to happen. Just let yourself go.

Never heard Karnivool? And don’t have the time to? Make sure you at least learn the lyrics for the track New Day so you can sing along with them. You’re welcome.

Witness how your soul illumines itself and interacts with music, from a band that probably no body can not like. For the record, I will forever be indebted to Karnivool‘s brand of progressive rock.

A Vooligan. That’s what I am. Always was, always will be.

Also read –

Gig review : Katatonia’s gig at Mood Indigo, IIT Bombay 2010

An Addiction called Themata

This is how I had felt when Lamb of God’s Bangalore gig was announced

Gig review : Lamb of God live in Bangalore 2010


An Addiction called Themata

There isn’t a last time when I was this excited about anything that had to do with progressive music. So that ways I did not give history a chance to repeat itself. Talking about the ongoing progressive excitement, all ears and eyes should shift to Australian metal band that goes by the name of Karnivool. Oh yes, I forgot to add how much I love my name.

Being a little too open to understanding things have cost me a fucking lot. But every once in a while life has provided me with something to hold on to and bang comes a band that is mind-blowingly progressive, speaks the language of music my way thereby standing tall on my playlist. They even have a name like that. Should I add how mesmerized I am by those rich velvety riffs they play. Beyond awesome material!

Now time for what their music means to me. I have spent a whole week listening to their debut album Themata. Ladies and Gentlemen, as much as I can boast about my music collection I have never, I repeat never, spent a week playing any album by any band. Times have been tough. Despite of that Karnivool has given me a giant hug, made me feel like I have put on weight, knocked me out of my senses, forced me to forget all the worthless women I have dated so far, even allowed me to like my job and most importantly they make me want to live my life to the fullest. I promise that it would be a song from Themata that’ll be played first in my new car, whenever I buy one.

Their second offering Sound Awake is also on my playlist but I will be able to enjoy it only after I take a break from Themata, which is not happening anytime soon. Here’s some scoop. The band and hence their debut have been so effective that they have assured me of making even my dead body croon along with them. In memory of an entire week that I spent listening to them I’d be celebrating 8th – 13th of May every year as Karnivool week. Every drop from the lake of their debut Themata has been holy water to me. I love you, Karnivool…!


album review : Road Salt One (2010) – Pain of Salvation

album : Road Salt One

artist : Pain of Salvation

genre : Progressive Metal/Rock

year : 2010

There is an outburst of emotions on the seventh studio album of progressive metal/rock band Pain of Salvation. Considering Road Salt One this is one half of the two-part release, Road Salt Two is going to be something to watch out for in early-2011. Pain of Salvation is a band that isn’t prone to mistakes if we go by their catalogue of albums. Switching smoothly between progressive metal and rock they have had albums that has branded them as a one of a kind band.

With a razor sharp method of playing their instruments the band incorporates various layers of vocal effects too. The second half of the album is more oriented towards  hardcore progressive rock fans, and more stress on the terms ‘hardcore’ and ‘progressive rock’. My picks from the album would be SistersLinoleum and Where It Hurts, Innocence.

India is getting closer to Pain of Salvation‘s debut gig here happening in January 2011 and listening to Road Salt One live would shake everyone. Fans of the band will find it hard to spot the least likeable tracks on the album. A good release that is worth several spins.

Rating : 3/5


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