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Album Review

Beyond Grace – ‘Our Kingdom Undone’ [Album Review]

Putting a modern, technical twist on the UK death metal sound, Beyond Grace put out their thought-provoking new album “Our Kingdom Undone.”

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Maybe it’s just me but, in recent years, the traditional UK death metal scene has largely flown under my radar. Of course, the more modern deathcore scene in the UK has stayed strong against some truly brutal competition across the Globe but, aside from the odd band or two, traditional death metal appears, in my opinion, to have sunk back underground. Clearly then, I need to get up to speed because labels like Prosthetic Records are unearthing gems like Beyond Grace who are just about to drop their crushingly heavy debut album, Our Kingdom Undone.

Following up their 2017 offering Seekers, Beyond Grace takes a more thought-provoking approach to their brutality taking aim at subject matter like isolationism, exploitation, rampant militarism, and religious indoctrination. Deeply powerful topics as explored by Beyond Grace during tracks like “Hive Mind” and “Fearmonger” demand equally powerful music and the band tick all the right boxes where that is concerned. Solemn and morose, yet brutal and technical, the Nottingham group pummel through their extreme metal sermons with the finesse, precision and intelligence of an act that has been doing this for years.

When keeping it straightforward, as they do on tracks like opener “Dark Forest Doctrine,” their sound is reminiscent of the blunt, brute-force brutality of bands like Bolthrower. However, Beyond Grace is one of those groups that, in 2021, are intent on pushing the boundaries of the death metal genre. Melodic at times, criminally heavy at others, when Beyond Grace open up and show what they’re capable of, you’ll quickly realize you have in your possession an album that is not only worth investing your time into but one that is truly worth immersing yourself fully into to appreciate the true majesty of tracks like “Hive Mind.”

With all but one of the eight tracks weighing it at between the four and six-minute mark, and not one weak offering amongst them, the Nottingham band really do leave the best until last as they bring the recording to a ferocious, raging climax. In the form of the epic twelve-minute title track, Our Kingdom Undone sees Beyond Grace sign off this superb album with all guns blazing.

Our Kingdom Undone Track Listing:

1. Dark Forest Doctrine
2. Barmecide Feast
3. Hive Mind
4. Factions Speak Louder Than Herds
5. The Price of Peace
6. Persona Non Grata
7. Fearmonger
8. Our Kingdom Undone

Run Time: 47:06
Release Date: September 3, 2021
Record Label: Prosthetic Records

I have an unhealthy obsession with bad horror movies, the song Wanted Dead Or Alive and crap British game shows. I do this not because of the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll lifestyle it affords me but more because it gives me an excuse to listen to bands that sound like hippos mating.

Album Review

Two Faces West – ‘Postcards From Lonely Places’ [Album Review]

Two Faces West knows how to play blues rock. On ‘Postcards From Lonely Places’ they’re at their best when pumping out nasty, swaggering, trash-laced melodies.

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Two Faces West ‘Postcards From Lonely Places’ album artwork
Two Faces West ‘Postcards From Lonely Places’ album artwork

Denver, Colorado-based blues rock trio Two Faces West released their debut album, Postcards From Lonely Places, in the middle of last year. The album’s title discloses a singular theme: stories of American lives and the daily grind of life experienced, in all its glories and defeats, tragedies and triumphs.

Produced by Glenn Sawyer and Rich Veltrop, the album was initially intended to be an EP but grew into an album after a change in personnel.

The band explains, “If Postcards From Lonely Places seems like a stylistic mess, it probably is just that. This album was originally conceived as a 5 song EP and slated for release in early 2020. Vince Carmellini joined Two Faces West in 2019, and the new line-up decided to write five additional songs. The result is a group of songs with essentially a very dynamic group of songwriters and players, with different flavors and moods.”

Made up of Kurt Ashmore (vocals, guitar, sax, banjo), Mick Knudsen (drums, vocals), and Vince Carmellini (bass, organ, vocals), Two Faces West’s sound merges rootsy blues rock, rock, and hints of funk into what the band calls ‘crankin’ rock and blues.’

Of the 12 tracks on the album, entry points include opener “Ain’t Got a Clue,” riding a funked-out rhythm topped by skiffing guitars and dramatic flourishes of braying brass. Because of its familiar, irresistible funk flavors, the song grabs listeners’ attention.

Rolling out on a cool drum shuffle, “Vegas at 3AM” features dark, dirty guitars giving off grimy tones as Ashmore vocals imbue the lyrics with cautionary timbres. The mood of the song conjures up suggestions of ZZ Top, especially in the solo section, highlighted by sleazy, virtuoso licks.

Hot Tamale Baby” ramps things up with its scorching textures of galloping blues-rock, radiating retro-infused energy. A personal favorite because of its muddy, growling guitars and Elvis-like vocals, reminiscent of “Jailhouse Rock,” “Brand New Suit” struts the pure essence of down-and-dirty blues rock.

Another grinder, “Moonshiners,” travels on a deep, gritty bassline and Mitch Mitchell-like percussion as Ashmore’s raspy vocals give the lyrics the dangerous savors of whiskey bootleggers. Whereas “Dirty Ol’ Man” snarls and grimaces on murky, sliding guitars that ride an austere, pummeling rhythm.

Freedom,” a live track recorded at The Bluebird in January 2020, recalls the grand live performances of Humble Pie, oozing low-slung, smoldering, bluesy surfaces and a jam band atmosphere.

Two Faces West knows how to play blues rock: they’re at their best when pumping out nasty, swaggering, trash-laced melodies.

Two Faces West, photo by Perks Photography

Two Faces West, photo by Perks Photography

Postcards From Lonely Places Track Listing:

1. Ain’t Got a Clue
2. Vegas at 3AM
3. Hot Tamale Baby
4. The Ballad of Jerry Davis
5. Rocks Like a Country Song
6. Mountain Sunrise
7. Brand New Suit
8. Moonshiners
9. Late Night
10. Spinnin’ Circles
11. Dirty Ol’ Man
12. Freedom (Live at the Bluebird 01/02/2020)

Run Time: 56:33
Release Date: June 16, 2023
Record Label: Independent

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Album Review

Gianfranco Pescetti – ‘DAYSTAR NOCTURNAL’ [Album Review]

Gianfranco Pescetti delivers a series of ambient/dance bangers, coalescing a nexus of complexity and intoxicating extracts on ‘DAYSTAR NOCTURNAL.’

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Gianfranco Pescetti ‘DAYSTAR NOCTURNAL’ album artwork
Gianfranco Pescetti ‘DAYSTAR NOCTURNAL’ album artwork

Composer and producer Gianfranco Pescetti recently unveiled his latest album, DAYSTAR NOCTURNAL, his first new album in almost a decade.

Speaking about the album, Pescetti says, “DAYSTAR NOCTURNAL is my attempt to explore the depth of emotions and create a profoundly personal and evocative sound without conforming to the rigid specifications of a particular genre, all while keeping an eye to the dance floor.”

Originally from the Tuscan Island of Capraia, he previously lived in France for a few years before moving to the United States to continue his music career. He currently lives on the Hawaiian Island of Maui.

Influenced by an eclectic range of music, including modern chillwave, Depeche Mode, and The Cure, Pescetti’s sound incorporates instrumental atmospheric electronica with dance vibes and elements of modern indie rock.

Comprising ten tracks, DAYSTAR NOCTURNAL starts with “Clownspunk.” Flickering tones shape a rising intro that evolves into a shimmering, ambient-flavored dance melody. As the melody progresses, a psychedelic-lite dance vivacity slowly takes over, pushing the ambient surfaces into the background.

High points include the changing emotional sensations of “Obsidian,” which utilizes amiable layers of shifting colors riding a galloping rhythm to fashion a warm, sparkling melody punctuated by glistening, chiming textures.

Gianfranco Pescetti, photo courtesy of Gianfranco Pescetti

Gianfranco Pescetti, photo courtesy of Gianfranco Pescetti

Sundog” places darker rhythmic pulses against the illumination of drifting, humming, twinkling blushes, thus giving the melody a lingering, hypnotic intensity, at once exotic and full of lavish refinement. “Be My Ghost” swings away from the ambient and pushes into the more muscular momentum of EDM, employing a driving kick drum and elusive tints of disco.

Capraia,” a blend of industrial and heavy, atmospheric dance components, molds a mechanistic mood, simultaneously shadowy and foreboding. “The Wake,” eerily haunting on one level, pours like a waterfall on another level, giving the tune dual interpretations: either a progressive lament or a celebration of natural beauty.

The album concludes with “Stopless,” traveling on a propelling rhythm topped by intertwining layers of scintillating, aerated percolations, heady with impetuousness. For some reason, the melody conjures up the impression of EDM gingered with hints of Ennio Morricone-like Spaghetti Western.

Gianfranco Pescetti delivers a series of ambient/dance bangers, coalescing a nexus of complexity and intoxicating extracts.

DAYSTAR NOCTURNAL Track Listing:

1. Clownspunk
2. Macchia, I’ll See You…
3. Obsidian
4. Sundog
5. Nostalgia Aime Le Rouge
6. Be My Ghost
7. Capraia
8. The Wake
9. Fogbound
10. Stopless

Run Time: 35:47
Release Date: January 25, 2024
Record Label: Independent

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Album Review

Wabi Sabi – ‘The Love Insane’ [Album Review]

‘The Love Insane’ displays the psychedelic jazz band persona of Wabi Sabi and their talent shifting from genre to genre with aplomb.

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Wabi Sabi ‘The Love Insane’ album artwork
Wabi Sabi ‘The Love Insane’ album artwork

About seven months ago, Atlanta-based ensemble Wabi Sabi released their fourth album, The Love Insane, a record that not only flew under the radar but was also impacted by the pandemic, resulting in it being self-produced.

Pianist/vocalist Damien Cartier explains, “This is the first of our albums that I have produced myself. We have never done an album this way, but Covid mixed with having a spare bedroom home studio seemed like the perfect time to try.”

The genesis of Wabi Sabi occurred in 1999. Initially comprising piano, trombone, and drums, the band’s name was Damien Cartier And His My Newt Orchestra. Before long, the band added horns, bass, guitars, percussion, and singers. However, there was a problem: the band’s name, the spelling of which stymied people.

Then Damian saw an episode of King Of The Hill where Bobby discovered the concept of Wabi Sabi, a Japanese aesthetic that perceives beauty in imperfection and transience. Enter the band Wabi Sabi, whose unique sound amalgamates elements of soul, funk, reggae, and pop with tangs of jazz.

The Love Insane begins with “The Truth,” opening on a soft, low piano topped by tender vocals, mirroring pensive tones. The melody blends savors of rock and jazz, forming a dreamy, almost psychedelic flow of floating textures.

Highlights on the album include the title track, conjuring up the swaying soul surfaces of the ’60s, tinted with twangy, country-laced guitars. Cartier’s vocals are spot-on and convey touching, quixotic aromas.

New Life,” a personal favorite, evinces suggestions of Steely Dan because of its deliciously trippy-lite surfaces and grand brass accents that bray forth finessed tones. The funky “Not Yet, Sister,” with its hints of reggae, features bright horns, skiffing guitars, and a neighing organ.

The album finishes with “The Weirdo Blues,” a luscious fusion of bluesy jazz and orchestral flavors. There’s a delightful, sleazy sensation to the tune, imbuing the song with benevolent craziness.

The Love Insane displays the psychedelic jazz band persona of Wabi Sabi and their talent shifting from genre to genre with aplomb.

Wabi Sabi, photo courtesy of Wabi Sabi

Wabi Sabi, photo courtesy of Wabi Sabi

The Love Insane Track Listing:

1. The Truth
2. I Am OK
3. Manifest
4. The Love Insane
5. New Life
6. Not Yet, Sister
7. Sick Tuna
8. The Fall
9. Please Rescue Me
10. Spacetime
11. The Weirdo Blues

Run Time: 48:18
Release Date: July 28, 2023
Record Label: Independent

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