Welcome to our artist-written feature on Heavy Blog, “The Anatomy Of”. Taken from the Between The Buried And Me album of the same name — in which the band pays tribute to the artists and bands that they feel have most inspired their songwriting — it’s a feature in which we hand off the metaphorical microphone to bands so they can talk about their influences.
Sound Struggle‘s recent sophomore full-length, Rise, has become a quick hit among our staff (check out Ahmed’s great review of it right here). It’s a fantastic combination of progressive metal and jazz, but it reaches its fingers far beyond the boundaries of either of those genres, reveling in breaks of funk, classical, and samba. The mix is intoxicating; every song feels powerful and energetic, and each track has a different vibe that helps Rise stay fresh across its hour-plus run time. The whole record is invigorating and groovy – danceable at times, even – and so we wanted to know just what particular artists inspired this great piece of music. So, as is our custom, we decided to ask Sound Struggle exactly what influences they each brought into their music, and now, we have the Anatomy Of Sound Struggle, here for you!
Adam Rafowitz (Guitar): Hello, Adam here! One album that greatly influenced me was The Sixteen Men of Tain by Allan Holdsworth. I remember the first time I heard Allan was when the title track of Tain came up on Pandora, I think it was on Return to Forever radio or something of the sort. I was instantly intrigued by Allan’s playing, as he was unlike anyone I had ever heard before. He uses a great deal of gain yet the lightest touch, and lines that boggle the mind. The first solo I ever learned by Allan was actually from the tune The Sixteen Men of Tain, and I remember loving the challenge! I certainly have more solos of his to undertake, and can’t wait to be pushed to my technical limits. I am constantly surprised by Allan’s playing, and I believe that that is something every musician can strive for. Until I’m on his level, I’ll keep on trying!
Cameron Rasmussen (Vocals, Guitar): This album always seems to be the first to come to mind when I try and think of an album that stands for real metal, and also one of all time favorites. I love the relentless approach for all of the songs, with Dimebag’s perfect riffs and solos, and also the power in all of the lyrics. My favorite song on it has to be “Fucking Hostile”, which seems unusual considering that I tend to love more complicated music harmonically, rhythmically and what not, but this song is simple and brutal. “Hostile” is at the core of what I think metal really is, it is a music that relieves peoples stress and gets the anger out. Phil Anselmo is one of my favorite metal vocalists because he is always abrasive, and even when he sings it is powerful. Dimebag is the king of riffs, and most of my output of writing riffs comes from the influence that Dimebag has had on me. Even though we do genre mixing and whatever we feel in this band, this album however is at the root of our metal side for sure.
Joe Calderone (Bass): A lot of people like to hate on 80’s Rush, but personally it’s one of my favorite eras. Sonically, their music during this time period is perfectly spaced out; The synths and guitars trade off lead roles to avoid mushing up the sound, the synths interject with such brightness at times to keep interest, and the bass and drum performance is phenomenal! From a production and composition standpoint, it is one of my most influential albums. In addition, Geddy Lee’s bass style has always been my inspiration for when I play and record bass.
Joey Izzo (Keys): My biggest influence on the process of writing, producing and mixing Rise is most definitely Juggernaut by Periphery. Juggernaut was released while we were still writing Rise and it rocked my world so hard. Here in the midst of the loud and chaotic mess that is Progressive Metal comes an album with a base of simplicity and hard hitting riffs in contrast to the fast and crazy P1 and 2. “Light Liquid” came out of this inspiration, as can probably be noticed by its low stomping and simplistic main riff. To an even greater extent the production and engineering greatly influenced the sound of Rise. With Juggernaut the bar for “heavy” had been truly set and we wanted to try to meet that with the heaviest moments of the album. As a result of Juggernaut, warmth in the low end of a metal mix is cool again (granted, Karnivool has been doing this for 10 years). In the end, of course, Rise came to find its own sound, but right up to the end I’d play a Juggernaut mix as a reference and be able to hear exactly what could be improved in clarity and honest brutality.
Matt Danesin (Drums): I started playing the drums in the 90’s, which is a very rich musical period to me. So, I grew up musically listening and playing on some indispensable records from this period, transcribing the drummers. For me, when it comes to prog music, my main reference is Dream Theater’s Metropolis Part 2: Scenes from a Memory. I’ve been listening to that record and watch the video millions of times. I like absolutely everything in this record from the concept to every single song, how the band went very deep in any aspects of the music and the production. Jordan Ruddess joining the band also brings the Liquid Tension Experiment touch that I love too. As a drummer, Mike Portnoy is such a big influence. I really dig the energy and the typical signature of Portnoy’s drumming; I like to emulate like the way he plays odd time signatures, his orchestrations on cymbals or the way he plays the most simple, straight, basic rock beat.
Michael Bozdek (Tenor Sax/EWI): I would have to say that Rage Against the Machine’s self titled album has influenced me greatly as far as my musical career, especially when it comes to metal. I discovered RATM early on in middle school when I was just starting to get into hard rock and metal. I instantly fell in love with their sound. The way they mixed funk, metal, and rap together so fluently blew my mind. It still does to this day, and I would say that the reason I gravitate more towards music that genre bends is solely because of them. I tried to write “Tempest” with a similar framework, focusing a lot on getting the main riff to hit hard yet have some space to it. I wouldn’t say that my playing has been influenced much by RATM, but I do think both my writing and stage presence are heavily influenced by their work.
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