Sunday, February 21, 2010

Avishai Cohen Trio - Gently Disturbed (Razdaz, 2008)


For this album bass-wizard Avishai Cohen teamed up with pianist Shai Maestro and drummer Mark Guiliana to make some of the most exciting music in his career. Eleven tunes, most of them written by Cohen himself, were recorded as a live setting in the studio. The music is very intense and has a lot of classical and eastern influences. Shai Maestro studied both classical, which explains his lyricism and true feel for melody and dynamics, and jazz piano. Cohen also has a passion for classical music, primarily citing a lot of classical composers as his main influences on myspace.


1. Seattle (Cohen)
2. Chutzpan (Cohen)
3. Lo Baiom Velo Balyla (Traditional)
4. Pinzin Kinzin (Cohen/Maestro/Guiliana)
5. Puncha Puncha (Traditional)
6. Eleven Wives (Cohen/Maestro/Guiliana)
7. Gently Disturbed (Cohen)
8. The Ever Evolving Etude (Cohen)
9. Variations In G Minor (Cohen)
10. Umray (Cohen)
11. Structure In Emotion (Cohen)
Total playing time: 56:46

Cohen is quite an extraordinary bass player; plucking and bending the strings, thus creating a nice, warm, full bass sound. He really nailed all the techniques, there’s nothing he can’t do while playing bass. He uses a lot of fast, skilled playing during the more intense moments to create a bombastic atmosphere. He even uses arco at the beginning of The Ever Evolving Etude.
Some of his tunes sound really ‘out’, creating a funky song fused with western and eastern influences.

Shai Maestro has this natural feel for great phrases. It’s something you can’t explain, but he has it. Watch out, this pianist is going to surprise us in the (near) future. His playing has a lot of dynamics, something I really miss in some jazz recordings. Shai Maestro has it all: speed, technique, feel, … He’s a real genius (did you know he used to combine classical and jazz studies with his regular studies?).

According to Modern Drummer Magazine, New-Jersey based drummer Mark Guiliana “may well be at the forefront of an exciting new style of drumming.” His sound on the recording is quiet and peaceful, yet exciting at the same time. His brush-based style doesn’t overshadow Maestro’s lyricism and Cohen’s full sound. His cymbal flattering creates an even more dreamy atmosphere around Maestro’s piano playing. His sticks take the music to an intense climax.


My 2008 number one, Cohen’s most shiny gem so far, another highly recommended record. If you are looking for music where east meets west with great melodies and dynamics, then is this a good record to start with.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Gravestone - Back to Attack (Scratch Records, 1985)

Heavy Metal
Year: 1985
Country: Germany

1.I Love the Night03:55
2.The Tiger05:10
3.Back to Attack03:49
4.Break Out06:18
5.Just a Minuette01:07
6.Won't Stop Rocking03:57
7.Dirty Tales04:28
9.You Are the Sun04:08
Total playing time37:51
What better way to introduce myself then to review an album that's right up my alley, cheesy 80s heavy metal from Germany!

The band has released 5 albums between it's humble beginnings in 1977 and it's ending as another metal victim from the '90s. The first two albums are not metal, but progressive rock and are not even mentioned by the band itself anymore. I am not familiar with those lp's, but this might be something Maarten can give a review of in a distant future?
Anyways, of the three albums that mattered their best effort is this cheese-fest "Back To Attack". With songs like 'Won't stop rocking', 'I love the night' (click to listen on youtube) and 'Dirty Tales' you might suspect that this is nothing more then one of those uninspired hair metal bands that where getting a lot of attention back then, well think again, not only does this have balls, it's a German traditional heavy metal band that is not just an "Accept' clone (a real shocker).

The vocals, by Berti Majdan, are not in the raspy, heavy style that one might expect, instead it could be compared to Klaus Meine of Scorpions fame. Don't worry, you will still be able to tell the difference between the two singers, Majdan sometimes shows a NWOBHM influence and gives us a scream (as in 'back to attack') that gives the songs that extra edge that it needed. And considering it's well worth mentioning that he does not have any irritating accent.

The production is more or less what you can expect, subpar to todays standarts but not diminishing the experience.
The music itself is a mix between melodic and speedy, energetic metal. Think USA counterparts Sound Barrier but with a more raw edge, of course there are parallels with bands like Accept, Scorpions and Sinner, but unlike those bands this is one band that tried but never got out of the underground.
The songs are more or less of the same value, without really any filler tracks. A special mention for the song 'Break out' where the band has the balls to get away from the given path and tackles on a slower song that really works. All in all a top notch Teutonic metal album that is recommended for the old-school metal fan.

But let's be honest, you knew whether or not you where gonna like it from the first look on the -in my opinion- awesome traditional cover art.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Mars Volta - Frances The Mute (Universal, 2005)

Heavy Prog


Country: US

Frances The Mute, The Mars Volta’s second studio album, never received the commercial success that De-loused in the Comatorium had. Nevertheless did the album receive good criticism and made it to a lot of ‘Best of ’-lists. Frances The Mute is De-loused in the Comatorium’s more experimental brother. The band took their music up to a whole new level; incorporating jazz, latin, psychedelia, ambient, dub into their previously blended progrock cocktail without losing emotion, melody, virtuosity and power. The chaotic outbursts are still omnipresent, creating fierce crescendo’s and powerfull choral-like structures.
To put it in another way: Frances The Mute is rooted more deeply into the progressive rock tradition than its predecessor, but Frances The Mute is also comparable to De-loused in the Comatorium, with its cryptic lyrics, polytonality and complex musical structures.

The album consists out of 5 major compositions of which 3 are divided into smaller tracks fused together.


1. Cygnus....Vismund Cygnus
* I. Sarcophagi
* II. Umbilical Syllables
* III. Facilis Descenus Averni
* IV. Con Safo
2. The Widow
3. L'Via L'Viaquez
4. Miranda That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore
* I. Vade Mecum
* II. Pour Another Icepick
* III. Pisacis (Phra-Men-Ma)
* IV. Con Safo
5. Cassandra Gemini
* I. Tarantism
* II. Plant a Nail in the Naval Stream
* III. Faminepulse
* IV. Multiple Spouse Wounds
* V. Sarcophagi
Total playing time: 76:55

All music written by Omar A. Rodriguez-Lopez.

Cygnus….Vismund Cygnus sets for a quiet start with a clean acoustic guitar intro joined by strings at 0:10 which give the intro a more open sound. This dreamy atmosphere is joined by Zavala’s vocals not much later which is then ruptured again by their famous chaotic, latin-infused, multi-layered progrock-sound. Drums might seem a bit monotone during the first song, but they get more varied as the album progresses.

Omar A. Rodriguez-Lopez’s guitar sound takes on many forms: more reverbed/psychedelic presets get followed by a classic rock sound that instantly changes into a funky distorted guitar playing over the more chaotic sessions that often end into a fast-paced 220 bpm high gain guitar solo. Also expect more modest, mid-oriented guitar solo’s as interludes. Rodriguez-Lopez is a real musical chameleon who has progressed a lot due to De Facto and his more experimental solo excursions (he has released close to 10 albums in the past 2-3 years).

Every track ends with an ambient, sometimes psychedelic, synth-produced atmosphere that fades into the next song. At first it was very seductive to skip this piece and go directly to the next track. But after a few listens, you will notice that these ambient landscapes give the album an enormous amount of power: hard to get as these sections are, they keep you attentive and alert, they make you reflect about the previous song, they make you hunger for the next distorted outbreak.

Frances The Mute also features some fine guest musicians worth to mention. John Frusciante plays the first 2 guitar solo’s on L’Via L’Viaquez and Flea plays the trumpet on tracks #2 and #4 (great to hear these guys play in another context).


Frances The Mute is a worthy sequel to De-loused in the Comatorium. It features some of the best contemporary, widely-influenced progressive rock up-to-date. A must have. Highly recommended.


Sunday, February 14, 2010


So it seems you have found our little review website. Here you will find reviews written by either me (Tim) or Maarten. While the latter will be tackling more jazz and prog orientated albums (among other genres), I will focus mostly on metalalbums. Enjoy your stay.