Hidden Masters’ Debut LP Takes Psych-pop To A Whole New World

Courtesy: Rise Above Records/Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Rise Above Records/Metal Blade Records

The 1960s and 70s were two of the most important decades in the history of modern music.  Those twenty years saw some of the music world’s most influential and prolific artists and bands rise to fame.  Among those artists and bands were the likes of The Doors, Crosby Stills and Nash, Country Joe McDonald, and so many others.  Decades later, those artists and their music remain some of the most important and influential around.  One of the most recent examples of that influence lies in Glasgow, Scotland’s three piece known as Hidden Masters.  The band’s new album, Of This and Other Worlds is one of those albums that any true fan of rocks’ golden era will appreciate.  The songs on this new release openly exhibit the influence of the likes of The Doors, CSN, and others.  One of the most interesting of the album’s offerings is the song, ‘Last Days of the Sun.’ This song stands out among the album’s other tracks because of its two completely contrasting sounds.   At first it comes across as another of the band’s classic psychadelic style pieces.  But the song’s final moments sound more modern, with a sort of garage punk rock vibe.  Audiences will especially appreciate the almost Blue Oyster Cult style use of the cowbell (we need. More. Cowbell.) in this song.  That set against the song’s rather interesting lyrics, and audiences get a song that must be heard to be believed.  Lyrically speaking, ‘Last Days of the Sun’ is just as interesting as it is musically.  Front man David Addison sings as the song opens, “Tell me do you think it’s gonna rain/I sense something/But I just can’t name/The birds complaining too…”  Simply put, the combination of the lyrics and music together make this one of the album’s most intriguing tracks that must be heard.  It will grow on listeners more with each listen.

‘Last Days of the Sun’ is certain to make listeners pay very close attention to the song.  There is so much going on to take away from the song.  If that song isn’t enough for listeners, drummer John Nichol’s work behind the kit will impress on ‘There Are More Things.’  Nichols’ drives the song with his drumming right from the song’s outset.  The trio’s harmonies in the song’s chorus and its almost rockabilly meets hippy music feel only serve to make it even more interesting.  Its seemingly contemplative lyrics about all the things that man doesn’t know weirdly work with the music.  The two elements together give the song a certain mysterious vibe.  They are a good fit together.  And they make this one of those infectious songs that will get stuck in any listener’s head with ease, given the chance.

The energy exuded by the band in ‘There Are More Things’ is maintained even after that song ends and the band launches into the album’s next song.  The song in question is ‘Nobody Knows That We’re Here.’  What makes this song such an interesting addition to the album is that Addison’s part here is reminiscent of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Painted Black.’  Some might argue here that that’s a little bit of a stretch.  But those that know the song will agree that the Rolling Stones influence is there even if it is purely coincidental.  The addition of Alasdair Mitchell’s keyboard part helps to set the song apart from that influence and turn the song into its own creation.  Together with the once again somewhat cryptic  lyrics sung by Addison, it makes for one more song that listeners will grow to enjoy more with each listen.

The songs noted in this article are just a small sampling of what Hidden Masters has to offer on its new album.  There are seven more songs from which to choose.  Each listener will find his or her favorite song(s) throughout the album’s ten tracks.  It is available now and can be ordered direct from the Rise Above Records online store at http://www.riseaboverecords.com/store/hidden-masters-of-this-and-other-worlds/.  More information on Hidden masters is available online at http://www.facebook.com/hiddenmastersmusic.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

South Of The Earth A Welcome Return From Iron Man

Courtesy:  Metal Blade Records/Rise Above Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records/Rise Above Records

The Baltimore, Maryland based four-piece known as Iron Man has been making music for a number of years, flying just below the mainstream radar all along.  The band has been classified as a “doom rock” band for most of its career. However, its new album, South of the Earth is more akin to the sludge rock sound of Black Label Society, Brand New Sin, and the band’s label mates in Horisont.  The only real link to the “doom” genre would be the lyrical side of the band’s new album.  That being the case, this new nine-track release is one that any purist metal head will enjoy no less with each listen.

South of the Earth opens solidly with the album’s title track.  Whether one is familiar with the band’s sound or not, it is a powerful first impression from the band on this record.  Front man Screaming Mad Dee’s vocals sound like a cross between King’s X vocalist/bassist dUg Pinnick and legendary Black Label Society front man/guitarist Zakk Wylde.  That is quite the statement for anyone that is familiar with either singer.  For those that aren’t so familiar with either vocalist, suffice it to say that Dee is a powerhouse vocalist.  That his voice can go from almost guttural depths to ear-piercing screams in the blink of an eye without sounding like so many cookie monster growling figures makes an even bolder statement.  Bassist Louis Strachan and guitarist Alfred Morris III add even more punch to this song with their full-on one-two attack.  Morris’ solos in this song are the stuff that young guitarists dream of doing one day.  And drummer Jason “Mot” Waldmann’s performance behind the kit shows such control in this slower song.  That show of control also shows just how much talent he boasts.  And along with his band mates, the whole unit makes the album’s opener one that will have listeners’ horns high instantly.

The energy doesn’t let up once the album’s opener ends.  The band picks right back up and keep things moving in the album’s second track, ‘Hail to The Haze.’  When Dee sings in the song’s chorus, “How much longer/How much longer/How much longer inside/Can this monstrosity hide/How much longer/How much longer/How much longer/Must I wait/To release my hate” the power in his voice does quite the job of exhibiting his subject’s personal inner struggle.  Again, add in the musicianship of his band mates, and listeners get what is one more shining gem off of South of the Earth.

South of the Earth is loaded with songs from start to finish that any true metal head will appreciate.  It boasts, as noted, both slower, heavier songs and pieces that are more up-tempo.  For all of its hard-hitting songs, there is one song that stands out among them all.  That song is the instrumental break that is ‘Ariel Changed The Sky.’  This roughly two-minute plus acoustic piece is a total contrast to everything else on this record.  It is a gentle, airy opus that gives listeners just enough time to catch their collective breath before the band launches into its full-on musical assault again on the record’s second half.  It is a perfectly placed break.  And it is equally beautiful.  It’s one more show of talent from the band, and one more example of what makes South of the Earth a record that any purist metal head will appreciate no matter how old.

South of the Earth is available now in stores and online on Metal Blade Records and Rise Above Records.  The band will be playing a hometown show next Sunday, October 13th in support of its new album.  It will be performing at the Metro Gallery in Baltimore alongside St. Vitus, Pallbearer, and Hookers.  The band has more dates to follow.  Fans can check them out on the band’s official website, http://www.ironmanband.com.  Fans can also get more information from the band on its official Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Iron-Man-Band/146118265408361.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facbeook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Horisont’s New Album Takes Listeners On Another Musical Trip Through Time

Courtesy:  Rise Above Records/Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Rise Above Records/Metal Blade Records

2013 has seen the music scene become increasingly crowded as each month has passed by.  This has made choosing the year’s best records in each category increasingly difficult.  Now with the impending release of its third full length album, Time Warriors, Swedish rock band Horisont has made making that choice even more difficult.  The band’s new album, released via Rise Records and Metal Blade Records, is an excellent follow-up to its 2012 album, Second Assault.  It is an excellent follow for the band’s fans as the band picks right up on Time Warriors where it left off with Second Assault.  That is to say that the band’s new album bears much the same sound and feel as Second Assault.   It takes listeners back in *ahem* time once again (pun fully intended) with this record, offering that full on stoner rock sound once again.  For those that appreciate this sound, Time Warriors becomes a solid listen from start to finish.  Whether for a party or for an upcoming holiday road trip, it is a solid record all the way through for any stoner rock fan.

Time Warriors opens with a solid classic stoner rock style piece in ‘Writing on The Wall.’  This song was a good choice to open the album as singer Axel proves that his vocals are as strong as ever.  And drummer Pontus nails the song’s polyrhythmic patterns throughout without missing a beat.  Guitarists Charles and Kristofer take listeners back to rock and roll’s golden era once again with their solos and general musicianship.  Lyrically speaking, ‘Writing on the Wall’ is just as interesting as it is musically.  Axel sings in the song’s chorus, “You know the writing was on the wall/When you decided to take us all/Give us your soul.”  It’s a little bit cryptic.  Though a closer look and listen reveals it’s something of a motivating piece.  This is revealed as Axel sings, “There’s a time when there’s nothing/Nothing that’s holding you back/You give it all you’ve got/But nothing comes close/So there’s still time to set things straight”  If this interpretation is correct, then it makes this song an even better way to start the band’s new album.

The classic rock vibe established on the album’s opener doesn’t end with that song.  From one song to the next, the members of Horisont offer audiences a nonstop musical trip back in time right through to the album’s end.  From ‘Diamonds in Orbit’ to the up-tempo rocker that is ‘She Cried Wolf’ to the album’s two-part closer, ‘All Must Come To An End’, this album will impress the band’s fans new and old.  The driving drum part on ‘She Cried Wolf’ is one of the album’s highlights.  As soon as it kicks in, it’s sure to have listeners on their feet.  By contrast, ‘All Must Come To An End’ is just as impressive in its musical variance.  It goes from an up-tempo rocker in its opening segment to a second movement that could almost be argued to be a Pink Floyd influenced work.  The song’s third and final movement kicks the song right back into high gear.  By the time that final movement ends, listeners will find that it leaves them breathless.  It’s a fitting closer and excellent exclamation mark to the band’s third full length studio release.

Fans will get a chance to hear the band’s new material live when it takes Time Warriors on the road beginning September 27th.  That is the same day that the album is expected to be released overseas.  It’s currently set to be released stateside on Tuesday, October 8th.  More information on the album’s upcoming release and the band’s tour dates is available online at http://www.facebook.com/horisontmusic and http://www.horisontmusic.com.