Friday 17 February 2012

Therapy? Still Not Slowing Down

In over twenty years the indestructible metal band Therapy? filled up twelve albums. Fronted by Andy Cairns the band managed to come over some rough years. After a commercial height halfway the nineties, the problems started. They ended up without record label and some members left the band. But Cairns and bass player Michael McKeegan, both in the band from the beginning, didn't give up. Meanwhile things quiet down again and they played their hit album Troublegum to a sold out Melkweg in 2010, to celebrate their 20th anniversary.

Therapy? - A Brief Crack Of Light (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)
Without slowing down the kind Northern-Irish continue with album number thirteen, A Brief Crack Of Light. And that turned into an interesting album, although with only ten tracks a bit short. Heavy, loud and passionately played songs are alternated with melodious, modestly played songs and lyrics that thoroughly avoid the metal clichés. And with that they stay loyal to their own sound, which is more than just metal. Of course still with Cairns' familiar guitar riffs, the steady heavy bass sound of McKeegan, and the solid, a bit tinny drums of Neil Cooper, who has been sitting on the drum throne since 2004.

That also means, that the band are doing more than just racing straight on. There's enough room for peace and quietness. Although they are kicking off hard with 'Living In The Shadow Of A Terrible Thing' and 'Plague Bell', where especially the last song takes you like a stampede. But then the instrumental 'Marlow' follows which is more of a grungy, even swinging guitar track. They manage to keep up this variation throughout the album. Striking are the scarce vocals in some of the songs. Like they want to emphasize the music and let it speak for itself.

The album closes with the strange 'Ecclesiastes', that sounds more like a kind of soundscape, with distorted vocals and guitars that keep on simmering instead of spewing fire. It feels a bit out of place, but at the same time it doesn't. It's characteristic for this record that feels like a true Therapy? record, but simultaneously has been put together with courage and enough room for experiment. After their golden years the band may have been underneath the radar, which is not necessarily a bad thing. They seem to do well and feel comfortable there. They should be able to keep this up for many years to come. Let's hope so!

This review has been published on ROAR E-Zine in Dutch over here.

Listen to 'A Brief Crack Of Light' on Spotify.

Official Website | MySpace | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Spotify

Read more!

Monday 13 February 2012

Blaudzun Steps Into The Light

For years he has been steadily working his way up: Johannes Sigmon or Blaudzun. He's a remarkable appearance, not just because of his notable look, but also because of his unique voice. A voice that can give songs a melancholic layer, but also is chasing the dark. This is an impressive sight on stage as he proved on the Lowlands festival a few years ago. Recently his performances on Dutch TV shows spawned many praises and he managed to reach a wider audience. And now he's adding album number three to it: Heavy Flowers.

Blaudzun - Heavy Flowers (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)
Heavy flowers, hanging in a vase. Not completely withered, but clearly on their way, waiting for the inevitable. That's what Blaudzun likes to write music about according to himself. Not necessarily about doom days, the definite end, but more about the perishable. So he's consciously looking for the darkness. And this fits the melancholia in his music perfectly. But Heavy Flowers actually sounds a bit lighter than his earlier work. It didn't turn into a typical singer/songwrier record. Blaudzun intended to keep it small, but went into the other direction instead.

The songs got rich arrangements and are putting down a nice, sometimes even enthusiastic vibe. A wide variety of instruments has been opened up. He's using guitar, lap-steel, ukulele, harmonica and banjo, which give the songs a lot of variety. His brother Jacobus is mostly responsible for this diversity.

And so the he beautiful, a bit moody title track 'Heavy Flowers', is followed by the light 'Le Chant Des Cigales', that could have easily been in Arcade Fire's repertoire. This is also striking for the change in style compared to earlier work. The dark side is getting enough counter-weight from light and sparks of hope, so it's not just sadness. Now and then you can still hear a band like Sixteen Horsepower, but less obvious than before.

Heavy Flowers turned into a sparkling, layered album. Nicely built up with good thought through compositions, strong lyrics and great vocals. Blaudzun is proving his talent once again and has established his name. A break through to a big audience is only a matter of time. The Netherlands has gained a great artist.

This review has been published on ROAR E-Zine in Dutch over here.

Listen to 'Heavy Flowers' on Spotify.

Official Website | MySpace | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Spotify
Read more!