One record overshadows all others when it comes to this week’s new releases but it was hardly the only album we reviewed in the middle week of September. This Week in Reviews after the jump.
Ahmed Hasan gets us started off this week with a 3.5/5 review of Russian post-metal outfit Eastwood. Often you will hear an album described as “groundbreaking” or “innovative” but Ahmed says that’s not what you get with Language of Stars.
“It’s not at all revolutionary, or something you likely haven’t ever heard before, but it’s not at all bad at what it does either, making for a pleasantly enjoyable listen,” Ahmed says about Language of Stars. And after all there is something to be said about music that is pure pleasure.
Ahmed finds the production on the heavier parts of the record detract from the overall intention but “the quieter segments do enough to redeem the album. They never come across as some sort of transitionary crutch, at times even being some of the most memorable parts of certain songs. Despite the occasional hiccups in the mixing of the heavier verses and such, these clean segments sound well-written, well-rounded, and well-executed, highlighting Eastwood’s songwriting ability and versatility.”
So if pleasant post-metal is your thing, give a shot to Eastwood.
Eden Kupermintz is an unabashed fan of the current “Doom Revival” (see his 4.5/5 reviews of Pallbearer and Yob and Spencer Snitil’s 5.5 take on Earth) but somehow he can’t get the new record from Electric Wizard to fit into that narrative. Eden suspects this is a deliberate choice.
“Electric Wizard have chosen to infuse much more rock into their patent mix. Songs like ‘SadioWitch’ or ‘Funeral of Your Mind‘ sound more like Black Sabbath with a slight tinge of doom rather than what we’ve grown to love over the long Electric Wizard career, namely Black Sabbath buried under layers of feedback and emotion.”
Eden concedes Time to Die suffers in comparison with the bands mentioned above.
“To be honest, it’s hard to keep the surrounding releases out of reviews. On some objective scale, every album should be considered under its own merit. However, this is unrealistic and frankly, doesn’t capture well what music is all about. It’s possible this album would have gotten a slightly (slightly!) higher score in a year not so well endowed with great releases in its genre.”
3.5/5 for Electric Wizard’s Time to Die
Whether you think the much anticipated third major release from Noblesville Indiana’s The Contortionist is a groundbreaking moment in musical history or you find it’s one of the top disappointments of 2014, you will find your opinions challenged and perhaps refined in Heavy Blog is Heavy Founder and Editor in Chief Jimmy Rowe’s thoughtful 3/5 review of Language.
Jimmy starts with a look back at the transition this band made from Exo-Planet to Intrinsic before turning to this first record with new vocalist, Last Chance to Reason‘s Michael Lessard.
“This is no doubt an ambitious record, perhaps even more so than Intrinsic. Language even contains the best vocal work of any of the group’s records so far thanks to moments of impassioned beauty through ‘The Source‘, the duo of title tracks, and the finale ‘The Parable’, but even newcomer Michael Lessard’s pipes of gold can’t breathe life into chord progressions that often don’t bloom into something catchy. The concept, production, and talent are all there in abundance, but Language seems like fashion-over-form in practice.”
Jimmy notes that part of what made The Contortionist such an interesting band was the dynamic between the heavy and the pretty. For the most part, with the exception of parts of “Language II Conspire”, the heavy is gone and all that’s left is the pretty. Still, Jimmy urges listeners not to give up on this record.
“The Contortionist may have shifted in tone and headspace, but there’s no shortage of replay value. With each passing listen, Language presents itself in a new light, and the lush compositions do yield new findings in their many layers and intertwining rhythms and melodies.”
So love Language or be bored by it, read Jimmy’s review. It may make you approach this record in a completely different light.