Hometown Prog – Review of “Upheaval” by The Anima Effect

     In my hometown of Redding, CA, there is no shortage of talented musicians of many genres. Much to my own dismay, our metal scene has been lacking for several years. Not for lack of skill, or drive, or determination from bands that have attempted. For whatever reason, it just hasn’t really taken off in our area of NorCal. However, a shift has started happening. A few bands have started to rise and gain some notoriety. Producing studio-quality albums and branching out to shows beyond the foothills.

     One such band making this shift is The Anima Effect. A hard hitting, symphonic style progressive metal band that formed in earnest in April of 2017, with their debut release “Upheaval”, released on November 16th, 2017. Hard hitting riffs, overlaid with melodic guitar sweeps are the most prominent features of this bands sound. Over the course of this album you’ll feel as if you’re being grabbed by the shirt collar and thrown into a ballroom dance, only to be spun back out into the mosh pit. This epic collection of music is incredibly impressive for a group of young gentlemen from a podunk city in rural California.

     A few things did catch my attention in a less than enjoyable way. A few of the tracks seem to end abruptly, as if the track had no logical finish and was produced to a finish that doesn’t fit with it’s outro. The biggest example being the interlude in the middle of the album, “Nexus”. The song in itself is beautiful, with a driving repeated melody to keep the rhythm, while allowing the bottom end of the band to showcase their abilities. Yet, it feels forced into the album, with a sudden start that gives the listener an awkward jolt. As the outro flows out and slowly quiets, the next song suddenly drops in volume with an intro that seems to completely ignore the last three minutes of build-up.

     Some parts also appear to be written simply for the sake of being technical. While musically difficult, and an amazing show of each musician’s control of their instrument, they come across as more of an angry swarm of bees. These misgivings are short-lived, though, and do not detract one from the overall feel and quality “Upheaval” has to offer. Besides, these misgivings are things every band, big and small, are guilty of at some point.

     “Upheaval” is ambitious, and bit risky for a breakout band. It’s certainly not the easy-listening type of metal one throws on in the car as they travel around town for a day of shopping (well, at least most of us don’t). This album is complex, engaging, and  thought provoking. It’s the kind of album you put in the morning to get your brain moving as you sip your morning coffee and prepare for the day ahead. Having this be the focus of a band or album is not bad in the slightest of ways. It shows an incredible amount of musical maturity, as all these qualities are ones you would associate with artists like Miles Davis or Dave Brubeck rather than a group of young metal heads in the late 2010’s. Progressive, technical metal has never been known to have the broad appeal to the masses as some of the others. Yet, art and music are about taking risks, as it’s the only path to true innovation and new territory.

     The Anima Effect has set themselves on a climb with a steep grade to tackle. Yet, they seem completely ready for this climb. Writing and releasing the album is only half the battle after all. A band has an endless amount of legwork afterwards. Booking gigs, travelling to gigs, getting your album to the people who want it, pushing merch, networking, and countless other menial tasks that are absolutely essential to the success of an album. The gentleman of the Anima Effect have this drive. They’ve worked tirelessly before and since to establish the network needed to get “Upheaval” to listeners. In all seriousness, the determination to go through with this part of an album cycle is what makes or breaks bands. The Anima Effect has this determination, and are set to begin playing shows late January 2018 throughout Redding and beyond.

     “Upheaval” is a brilliant and mature collection of music. It has a polish and craftsmanship that I have not seen from a band in this area in quite a long time. I hope that this is the beginning of something special for this band, and our area as a whole. As more bands like them and a few others that have caught our attention here, we may finally have as foundation for a burgeoning metal scene in our area. They certainly have my full support and goodwill in this endeavor, as I plan to go see them at one of their upcoming shows. If you’re in the Redding area and love metal, I hope to see you there too.

As always, Stay Metal!

-The Butcher \m/

 

Connect with The Anima Effect:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theanimaeffect/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cP2IUMpOeIw

Bandcamp: https://theanimaeffect.bandcamp.com/

ReverbNation: https://www.reverbnation.com/theanimaeffect

Under The Radar delivers the “Boom” with their new album “So Alive”

Album Review: Under The Radar – “So Alive”

Memphis rockers Under The Radar waste little time getting your attention with this 8 song collection of anthems meant to make you move your body and sing along to. This is made clear from the opening chords of the infectious “Boom” a powerhouse song that is begging for a stadium fill. Follow that up with “Motor” a hard rocking tune which has a strong Stone Temple Pilots feel to it. These songs carry a big sound which is made even more impressive when you consider that this is only a 3 piece band. The rhythm section does a lot of the heavy lifting and the guitar colors up the songs with just the right amount of flair. One thing that stands out with this album is the flow it creates. From one song to the next it feels like you are on a ride that you don’t want to get off of. That’s a huge accomplishment when assembling an album that not only creates cohesion for the album but gives it longevity. By the time you get to “Breathe” a radio hit in waiting , you find yourself sucked in and willing to go wherever these young men want to take you. The influences throughout the album are pretty obvious and vast as well. From Rush and Alice in Chains to Van Halen and the aforementioned Stone Temple Pilots with a sprinkling of Red Hot Chili Peppers for good measure.  While some musicians are trying to tell us that rock n’ roll is dead, UTR is here to remind us that it is “So Alive”.

Review by:

Rich “Big Sloppy” Markum

10 Albums from 2017 that need to be in your collection right now!

2017 was another great year for music. Several well known established bands put out some really good albums to add to their already strong libraries. This list however is dedicated to the albums and EP’s that you may have missed from some up and coming bands that deserve to be heard. Honest Brutality has made a concerted effort to bring these bands to light and share them with an audience which may not be familiar with their work. So here they are in no particular order.

1) In Search of Sun: Virgin Funk Mother

Do you like catchy songs that you can sing along to? You’re in luck. These guys from London have delivered an album packed full of songs that you will want to listen to over and over. It has a little bit of everything from straight up rockers to full on funk as well as prog and metal. This is truly one of the best albums of the year.

2) 7 Mazes: Stronger in the End

Coming in from Germany is this powerful offering of hard rocking excellence. Every song on this album could be a hit on any radio station if given the chance. Superb song writing mixed with some of the best hooks that you will ever hear combine to make one hell of an album. I have probably played this album more than any other this past year. It’s hard to believe that these guys are unsigned.

3) Kill the Kong: Juggernaut 

Heavy duty metal from Sweden. This band is unique in a lot of ways. Not the least of which is the use of 2 singers as well as 2 drummers. All working together in harmonious bliss. Every song is built to kick your ass in an orderly fashion. These guys bring a lot of craziness to the stage as well.

4) Silius: Hell Awakening

Once again Austria has produced a metal band that can not only write excellent metal tunes but can drink you under the table with their beer consuming abilities. This is metal the way you want it. In your face, loud, aggressive and angry. There’s no fluff here. These guys know how to get to the core of a metal tune and exploit it for all it’s worth.

5) SEA: The Grip of Time

These rockers from Denmark have found a way to take a classic rock sound and give it a modern sensibility. With one hard rocking song to the next throughout the entire album you will find yourself wanting to listen to it over and over again. This is truly one of the great albums of the year that deserves your attention. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

6) Kill For Company: This Sadness Lasts Forever (EP)

This is probably the heaviest music on the list. This foursome from the London area have managed to harness some of the most aggressive metal that you will ever hear and make you want to mosh your ass off. Since it is an EP there are only 4 songs but they are 4 very strong songs that will wear you down in short order. Warning: if you listen in your car you may be tempted to start a vehicular mosh pit.

7) Chasing Desolation: Malice (EP)

Another EP that is well worth you time and attention is Malice from Southern California rockers Chasing Desolation. With a sense for song writing that is second to none these guys have managed to put together 6 songs that will not only rock you to the core but leave you wanting more. The musicianship here is spectacular and the energy that is captured in every song is hard to replicate.

8) Backwordz: Veracity

Edgy, controversial, powerful, politically charged. All of these descriptions are true. These Texas based Rap/Rockers have put together an 18 song powerhouse. Whether or not you agree with their politics, the passion and aggressive nature of this album can not be denied. One catchy song after the other will blister your eardrums and cause you to erupt into rock n roll ecstasy.

9) Murkocet: Digging Mercy’s Grave

You want heavy, in your face, unadulterated powerful metal? Here it is. Arizona has once again proved to be the new breeding ground for some of the best metal on the planet. This groove metal ass kicker makes no apologies for it’s angst and vigor. Packed full of mosh pit monsters from top to bottom the energy provided by these guys could fuel a small town in Iowa for the entire winter.

10) Heirs of Isildur: The Crossroads Conundrum

You want different and unique? You got it! HOI has taken a different approach to the entire process of producing an album. These guys have created concept album that coincides with it’s own comic book and we as the listeners get to come along for the ride. This is a huge undertaking for any band to take on and when you consider it’s all self produced from music to comic with no help from any large corporate backing it’s that much more impressive.

Column by:

Rich “Big Sloppy” Markum

 

 

 

Heirs of Isildur – The Crossroads Conundrum

  If there’s a favorite type of album of mine, it’s the concept album. Meshing and reprising common themes throughout an entire album has a way of making the entire experience more…transcendent. Couple that with the insane amount of work that goes into making a successful concept translate well, and it becomes impossible to not admire the brilliance of the artists who conjured it. Concepts can vary from having a few of the same musical aspects, to telling an entire complex fantasy story, and pretty much anything else in between. However, some artists will take concept albums to an extreme. Heirs of Isildur has done exactly this with their debut album, “The Crossroads Conundrum”. Continue Reading …

Prepare to Get Primal, review of “Colossus”, Kill the Kong

  Rarely is there an album so fantastic, that it inspires absolute excitement in multiple species. When music ignites the fire of dog and human alike, it’s truly a special thing. Kill the Kong does just that with “Colossus”. On my first listen through, my own dog was so pumped I was forced to indulge her in a five minute mosh session on the floor. It’s impossible to ignore music of this caliber. “Colossus” will certainly catapult this young band to success.Continue Reading …

Motograter: A Heroic Return, Review of “Desolation”

   A fan favorite for the last 22 years, Motograter makes a triumphant return to the world of metal with their latest release, “Desolation”. Truly a unique force of nature, with their homemade industrial instrument, and wild, tribalistic stage show, Motograter has proven that absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder. A driving, sweetly brutal release, “Desolation” marks a new future for a band that has persisted in the hearts of many metal fans. Continue Reading …

Bobaflex are not afraid to get dirty on “Eloquent Demons”

Rock and roll is hard work and Bobaflex are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and get dirty. In a  testament to facing adversity, chasing your dreams, and not being afraid to take chances, the West Virginia Quintet offer up their eighth studio album Eloquent Demons. Ten edgy, powerful tracks with dynamic mastery and a cinematic feel make this a stand out offering amongst this year’s rock releases. Marty McCoy (guitar / vocals), Shaun McCoy (guitar / vocals), Dave Tipple (guitar / vocals), Tommy Johnson (drums), and Jymmy Tolland (bass) made full use of their prolific song writing abilities and vocal prowess, breathing new life into their sound.Continue Reading …

Songhammer: Disco and DPS Review

     It’s not often that I get to showcase my hardcore nerdom in such an obvious way. Usually it’s in the form of defending the cause of nerdiness against the sleights of Evil and Sloppy. Honestly, fantasy is as metal as it gets. Stories of mass armies of evil, medieval political intrigue, and glorious heroic figures swing swords bigger than your torso and legs combined. What’s not to love? Nothing! It’s all fucking epic. Anyway, there are a few bands out there that fly the nerd standard high. None quite so much as Songhammer, who have recently released a new EP, Disco and DPS. For you non-nerds out there, DPS means “Damage Per Second” an integral part of every well-rounded RPG group.

    Wielding war-hammers and clad in armor, Songhammer bring a goofy, cosplay style look to their music. Similar to GWAR (if you take into account the lack of inhuman slaughter and space fluids) in stage presence if not quite music style, this band is nothing but fun.  Songhammer has a wide ranging repertoire that showcases the vast diversity of nerd-kind. Everything from straight ahead Rock & Roll to EDM, and all things in between. Disco and DPS expands on this in directions that make you struggle to scratch your head in curiosity as it bobs to the beat.

    Now, if you can’t accept my word for it, that’s fine. Maybe it’s not as cool as I think. I am just one guy after all. However this band has managed to catch the eye of a low-budget, lesser known game development company called Blizzard, who premiered their video for Legion on the World of Warcraft game launcher. Blizzard plans on premiering their next video for the song Eat Us Alive in the same fashion, which will play in front of roughly 1 million people though that platform alone.

     In all, this EP and the rest of their catalog is worth giving a listen. They are clearly just in it for the fun and the community, which is a nice break from the big money grabs of the Pop world, and the severe intensity of heavy metal.  Songhammer has a well rounded, slightly comedic sound that anyone can enjoy, but even more so if you are in tune with the nerdy subject matter of the lyrics. Listen to this EP, watch their videos, explore their earlier releases, and just have a good fucking time. I certainly will be. Until next time, stay tuned and STAY METAL!

The Butcher

Song Hammer Large logo 2

Disco & DPS – EP (Links)

 

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