Tracklist: God of the Sun (11:12)
Coming Home (4:23)
Signs of the Time (6:43)
Lost in Oblivion (4:28)
Figaro’s Whore (1:04)
Divine Addiction (4:42)
Opus Maximus (10:39)
American Rock Supergroup featuring:
Mike Portnoy – Drums
Derek Sherinian – Keyboards
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal – Guitar
Billy Sheehan – Bass
Jeff Scott Soto – Vocal
Former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy is a man with many hats. Granted, most of those hats are as a drummer, he has many hats nonetheless. His latest project, yet another Progressive Metal Supergroup called the Sons of Apollo, may actually be his strongest. Sons of Apollo, comprised of Portnoy, fellow Ex-Dream Theater bandmate Derek Sherinian on Keyboards, former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, Mr. Big Bassist Billy Sheehan, and Trans-Siberian Orchestra vocalist Jeff Scott Soto.
Psychotic Symphony is essentially exactly what you would expect from a Portnoy excursion – it’s essentially a Dream Theater album with a harder edge. That’s not a bad thing, however. As long as you like this very distinct and often-imitated sound, you will be very pleased with this album. Solos galore, plenty of irregular time signatures, and top-notch musicianship abound.
As a slightly lesser-known name in the music business, one would expect Jeff Scott Soto to be something of a weak link in the band, but that is simply not true. Soto has a very muscular baritone that does the music plenty of justice and he is a welcome addition to the band. During the Sons of Apollo’s formative year, they sampled quite a few vocalists, such as Strapping Young Lad Virtuoso Devin Townsend and King’s X wailer Doug Pinnick, and Soto just happened to be the one to stick around.
The Production on this album is notable, being performed by band members Portnoy and Sherinian. The mix is very, very bassy, with a lot of priority being given to lower tones over higher ones. The bass is very audible and few keyboard lines go to very high pitches. Even the guitar is tuned as a baritone guitar, all the way down to B Standard tuning for any guitar players reading this. This grants the entire album significant edge and weight, allowing for a heavy groove in nearly every song. However, such a priority on lower sounds can occasionally result in the songs sounding muddled, especially in faster songs like the blistering “Lost in Oblivion”.
As usual with Progressive Metal, the longer tracks are easily the highlight — in this case, “God of the Sun” and the Instrumental “Opus Maximus”, but this whole album is a recommended listen for any and all fans of Progressive Metal. If musical self-indulgence and sheer showcases of talent is a turnoff for you, then this probably earns a skip, but if those things instead pique your interest, then you’ve probably already bought this album. Otherwise, go pick up Sons of Apollo’s “Psychotic Symphony”.
Mercy…Dancing for the Death of an Imaginary Enemy – CD // DD
American Recordings – released April 15, 2008
Reviewed by Zachary “+Norway+” Turner
Lineup for Mercy…Dancing…: Jimmy Gnecco – Vocals, Electric Guitars, Bass, Drum outro, Percussion
Static – Space Guitar, Loops
Locke – Electric Guitar in instrumental, Piano, Keyboard
Anthony DeMarco – Piano
Michael Jerome – Drums, Percussion
Previous Releases: 1994 Demo “Sour”
2001 “Distorted Lullabies”
2008 “Mercy…Dancing for the Death of an Imaginary Enemy”
2013 “Ballet the Boxer 1”
2017 ***upcoming “Spectacular Sight”
Tracklist: “Mercy” 6:41
“The Worst Things Beautiful” 4:21
“Ran Away to Tell the World” 5:00
“God Only Wants You” 4:23
“Live Again” 4:27
“Get Up” 4:50
Video of Title Track “Mercy”
The Band: Ours is an Alternative Rock band from New Jersey.
Album Art: “Ghost Girl” was made by James Gnecco IV.
Review: In 2004, Ours relocated from New Jersey to Los Angeles to work with Producer / Engineer Rick Rubin. The resulting album, Dancing for the Death of an Imaginary Enemy was released on April 15, 2008. If you are not familiar with Mr. Rubin, he is one of the most famous producers of modern music. He has produced music from genres like: Hip Hop, Rock, Heavy Metal and even Country.
Musically this album is very similar to the other music from the late 90’s and early 2000’s like heavy hitters like H.I.M., U2, Sixx A.M., and at some points have a Muse flair. Some more accurate (meaning more recent) comparisons are 10 years and Evans Blue. There is a heaviness in the music but not enough to change the genre from Rock to Metal.
This album is a family affair, in between the album art, the singing (track 12) and the lyrics themselves are focused on Jimmy’s family. It is also a heavy album because of the emotion that is delivered through the singing and with some string arrangements that are present, but not overpowering. Ours’ “Mercy…Dancing for the Death of an Imaginary Enemy” could be considered a sulky emo record; while it is a more downtempo album, it isn’t wallowing in its own sadness. It is just poppy enough to be played on the radio and even in some TV shows like NCIS and CSI.
While looking around for info on this album I found that there is hardly any reviews, so in turn, not much open love for it by “The Powers….”. This is a really solid album that (if you like any of the bands above) you should take a listen to. Ours mix their first two albums together perfectly; the great production that was used in their first album, and a rough (while still polished) vocals. The personal lyrics from all of the band’s releases are fueled by meaningful, personal and often times heavy in weight that only frontman Jimmy can deliver.
There isn’t a dull song in the album (and after 20 months) that shows how good Ours are as musicians, as well as arrangers. If I were to choose a favorite track, it would be the title track. It is one of the most powerful vocal performances by Jimmy Gnecco; along with “Live Again”. Give “Mercy…Dancing…” a listen as I cannot recommend
Marilyn Manson – vocals
Tyler Bates – instrumentation, engineering, recording, production, mixing
Gil Sharone – drums Additional musicians:
Dana Dentata – backing vocals (on track 9)
Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. – Clavinet (on track 10)
Album Art: The cover is similar to his previous album without distortion. It’s a black and white side profile shot with an upside down cross with an extra horizontal line.
History: In late 2016 and early 2017 Manson announced and released a working title for the album named Say10. He also said that the projected release date would be Valentine’s Day 2017, needless to say, it was put off until a further date because he had a couple more ideas for the album and needed time to produce them. These songs being “Revelation #12”, “Saturnalia” and “Heaven Upside Down”. In an interview with Loudwire he stated: “Those three songs take place where, if [the album] were a film, it’s the opening, the middle and the ending. Then there’s the song after ‘Heaven Upside Down’, it’s sort of the end title credits where it’s really surmising the story of the record, which is to be interpreted by the listener.”
This album was produced by film/video game composer Tyler Bates. (He also produced The Pale Emperor) During the time that this album was being made; Manson produced a song for a movie that Bates was working on, Atomic Blonde. The song is a cover of a Ministry song “Stigmata.” (Which I have included here because it fits in this album as a bonus track, (along with the Mystery Skulls remix of “Kill4Me”) The last two tracks are a throwback to the Mechanical Animals period of his career.
Marilyn Manson as a band has gone through many lineup and personnel changes since its inception as Marilyn Manson & the Spooky Kids in 1989. As Marilyn Manson & the Spooky Kids there are seven official releases, they are mostly demo versions of tracks later remade for the Marilyn Manson album “Portrait of an American Family”. As just Marilyn Manson there are ten albums, one live album, three compilation albums, and 37 E.P.s and singles. So, suffice to say he has had a prolific musical career since the 1990s.
Review: Unlike his previous releases from this decade this album has a more of a “throwback” sound of his heyday of the 90’s. He also keeps some of the changes he has made in the aforementioned albums. There is a meme that describes it perfectly: it has the cover of Born Villain with the words “Who are you” and then it has this albums cover saying “I’m you, but stronger.” This album has more of a dirty sound; in terms of more distortion, not lyric content, it sounds like whoever mixed/mastered the album let the sound go into the max.
The Opening: In “Revelation #12” there is a call back to one of the chants in “Irresponsible Hate Anthem” and “The Reflecting God” (from Antichrist Superstar). It is also a sort of sequel to the soundscape they put out in 1994 on the Get Your Gunn single. (i.e. The repetition and some of the samples in the background.) “Tattooed in Reverse” is closer to his work in the early 2000s, Holy Wood/The High End of Low. The sound itself is more industrial than the music at that period (with the use of samples and drum pattern).
“WE KNOW WHERE YOU FUCKING LIVE” is a mix of “The Beautiful People” and “Mister Superstar” the fast and then the quieter parts being interchanged with the shout/yelling. It ends with him whispering the beginning of the track; which helps introduce us to “SAY10” which is a lot like some of the songs from Holy Wood with the electronic sound of Mechanical Animals. “KILL4ME” sounds like it was a song that could’ve been recorded during the Mechanical Animals session with a hint of “If I Was Your Vampire” style lyrics.
The Middle: “Saturnalia” is the longest track on the album, but, in a way it feels like it is about the same as the others. The repeated drum pattern works as a way to get you in a sort of trance as you hear the back-masked sounding words in between delivery of vocals. The song also works as a part one to the Ministry cover, even though I highly doubt he planned it that way. This song ends like “WE KNOW WHERE YOU FUCKING LIVE.” “JE$U$ CRI$I$” sounds like either a song from Born Villain or The Golden Age of Grotesque. The song is like two different songs, with the second song being put in the middle of the first. It is almost a breakdown, maybe that is what he wanted the song to be like. “Blood Honey” is the first of the slower more mellow tracks. It sounds like, once again, a song from The High End of Low.
The Ending: “Heaven Upside Down” the title track is the second of the slower tracks and is almost a continuation of the previous track. It has almost the same structure and tempo and lyrical content, but it isn’t quite the same song. “Threats of Romance” is the most traditional rock song on the album. It is just has the Manson mix on it like a distorted vocals and the way the Clavinet in the background. I included “Stigmata” (Ministry Cover) here because it fits the album. I don’t know why it wasn’t included but it brings the beat back up from the previous three tracks. “Kill4Me” (Mystery Skulls Remix) is a Japanese bonus track that I included here because it is another track that is an example of the Mechanical Animals being brought into the “modern” version of electronic music and is a good song to bring you down from “Stigmata” as it (in a way) takes you out of the album.
This album is an excellent example of Manson showing his ability to reflect on his past but make it new in a way. Like Alice Cooper with Welcome 2 My Nightmare or like David Bowie with The Next Day. In a way Marilyn Manson is a Alice Cooper/David Bowie 2.0 taking his influences and putting his spin on it, even from his early days as a leader of the Spooky Kids. If you are a fan our just like his music but have stayed away since the 90s, this would be a good time to come back.
Stream the album here.
Download or buy (from Amazon) here.
Buy album and/or merch from Loma Vista Recordings here.
Demo MXIII (May 13, 2013) – Album Review – CD // Cassette // DD
Of Terror and the Supernatural (September 30, 2014) Album Review – Vinyl // CD // Cassette // DD
Lords of Death (May 1, 2017) Album Review – CD // DD
Reviewed by Terry “The Ancient One” Cuyler
Motor City’s Metal Monsters
Line Up: Alex Awn – Guitar Eric Blanchard – Guitar Mike Erdody – Vocals Jason Pearce – Drums Brent Satterly – Bass
Review: Hey Metalheads, this The Ancient One, and this is my special shout out for fellow Michiganders Temple of Void from Detroit. In Michigan we have a roaring underground metal scene full of amazing bands people fail to notice. Failing to notice Temple of Void is mighty damn difficult. For more than a decade now they have been working the metal underground with their special blend of somber sounds from the early British doom and Devastating Old School American death metal. This has earned them a reputation and a large following in the underground.
Not letting their acclaim go to waste Temple of Void took matters into their own hands by self producing and releasing “Demo MMXIII” on May of 2013. Soon after the band signed on with four different record labels to distribute it across the world meeting with great success from the underground. This 20 minute 27 second Demo packs quite a punch. While it’s a 3 track offering which can be found on the bands debut album it serves as a preview of what is to come in “Of Terror and the Supernatural.” Of its 3 songs my favorite is ‘Bargain in Death’ a song I believe comes from a movie or short story about a person that tries to scam their life insurance by making people think he is dead through the use of a drug that put him in a deathlike state. Only to awaken buried alive and discover he was double crossed by his conspirators who have no intention of digging him up and sharing the loot. The 10:36 track expresses the mood of the song’s theme amazingly well. Beginning like a funeral procession with a somber plodding doom sludge riff that slows to a near stop before the tempo picks up into panicked horror while the vocalist describes what it might be like to try and dig oneself out of the grave and die buried alive.
Of Terror and the Supernatural
A Little more than a year later the band released a 2nd album called “Of Terror and the Supernatural.” A 48 minutes; 8 songs of devastatingly kick ass Doomaphonic Sonic awesomeness that had me hooked after I sampled it’s first song ‘The Embalmers Art’ a demonic ditty about a murderous mortician that made art out of his victims. ‘Savage Howl’ the albums 2ndtrack is a song about the terror of being hunted by a werewolf. Besides the fact I really dig the werewolf horror genre I love the heavy drums and guitar tones that create a seance of shock.
Lords Of Death
If you enjoy these first two albums you will be happy to know ToV has released it’s 3rd album “Lords of Death” which is meeting with very favorable reviews from being called “A beastly band from the death-encrusted, doom-laden city of Detroit, MI” by Metal Sucks I’d say I agree with their assessment. “Lords of Death” is full of loud sludge and fuzz laden riffs with beastly growling vocals that feel slow until they get rolling like a tank. The best way I could describe this album is Cannibal Corpses meets Cathedral. This album is going quick so I’d recommend putting in your order as soon as you can. Highly Recommend for the strong of heart!!