Monday, January 19, 2015

Sweet and Lynch "Only to Rise"

    To be honest, I have never been the biggest Stryper or Dokken fan, especially Dokken. Go watch one of those Dokken videos from the 80s. They are all prime examples of ridiculously cheesy hair metal videos. However, Michael Sweet from Stryper and George Lynch who used to play in Dokken and has been involved countless other projects, are both very talented musicians. 
    I may not particularly enjoy some of their past work with certain bands, but I will say that these men have had long careers and worked hard to get to where they are now musically. Both guys are rock veterans with many years of experience, and getting them together to work on an album is not a bad idea.
    Sweet and Lynch offer listeners a well rounded rock and roll release. Also, accompanying them on this album are two other very talented musicians with impressive backgrounds. On bass you have James Lamenzo who used to play in White Lion and Megadeth. Behind the drum kit you have Brian Tichy who has worked with numerous rock and metal acts such as Whitesnake, Ozzy and Billy Idol. All around the band is full of talent and the songs definitely capture this group’s solid musical chemistry.
    I was particularly impressed with the songwriting on this album. You hear very straight forward classic rock songs with bit of an eighties classic metal touch. George’s guitar can created some graceful sounding riffs while Michael’s voice provides the perfect melodic touch. There are also times when George can crank out a ripping guitar solo. In the eighties George may have looked like a cave troll that over did it with the hair spray, however, the guy always knows how to lay down a decent sounding solo.
    The songs on this album are solid to the core and the opening track, “The Wish,” sets the tone for want is to be heard on the rest of the album. Sometimes the songs take on this heavenly and rather soothing sound classic rock vibe. Now mind you, there are some crushing hard rock moments like on the songs, “Time Will Tell,” “Divine” and “Hero-Zero.” George can create these bluesy sounding rock riffs that make way for Michael's powerful sounding vocals. Say what you want about Stryper’s old yellow and black outfits, Michael can still sing and he injects so much emotion into each song. The song, “September,” is extremely moving and overall just a well constructed piece of rock music.
    In the end, I think that every song on this album is written with complete musical consideration. If you are looking for a good sounding hard rock release, this album is well worth your attention. All the musicians in this group dig deep to find their best inner musical talents. I recommend listeners forget their past opinions about some of the musicians’ former bands (Dokken), because this release is something that really took me by surprise. I am glad that their are still musicians who are writing music with substance, and they can also play their instruments pretty darn well too. Unfortunately, they can’t erase those outrageous photos from the 80s.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Phantasmal "The Reaper’s Forge"

    Legions of Black Metal and Thrash Metal fans get ready, the Reaper calls upon you to visit his unholy forge and listen to this three song demo. Are you metal enough to answer the Reaper’s call?
    Now, Phantasmal may be playing a style of metal that has been done numerous times before, however, they do standout with their very abrasive old school thrash meets harsh sounding black metal style. Titled, “The Reaper’s Forge,” this three track demo really taps into the unforgiving fist raising heavy metal sound and attitude. Phantasmal presents a unique black/thrash metal sound, because they never just stick to one style during a song. There can be a very chilling sounding black metal intro that makes way for a relentless thrash driven assault.
    The opening track, “The Reaper’s Forge,” really kicks this demo off with an aggressive explosion. As the guitars build up into a ripping palm muted riff, the singer unleashes this unholy growl like scream. Overall, the song is a solid black metal tinged thrash metal creation. Track two on this demo, “The Eternal Campaign,” begins with a straight forward bombastic sounding intro composition and maintains this extremely heavy tone, especially with the guitar playing. The main rhythm sounds simply unforgiving along with the singer’s vocal delivery.
    Phantasmal has a really tight sound and the final song this demo, “Queen Nightshade,” perfectly captures their extreme music making talents. From the vicious sounding vocals to the blasphemous guitar and drum compositions, this song will get you head banging and wanting to run around the room enthusiastically smashing chairs. The song takes on a bit of a traditional metal style and captures that raw old school metal sound.
    For a three song demo, “The Reaper’s Forge,” definitely makes me want to hear more from this group. From what I heard on this demo, I think Phantasmal has the potential to continuously create consistent black/thrash music. Phantasmal actually sounds like a band that might have recorded their music in the Reaper’s Forge. If they keep hammering out some more crushing riffs and sinister songs, this band will make the Reaper very happy...along with plenty of metal heads around the world who like this type of music.