Thursday 31 January 2013

Less Is Not Enough For Zornik

In 2000 Belgian band Zornik participated in music magazine Humo's band contest Humo's Rock Rally. It didn't take long for them to release their first album. They were all over the hit parades in their own country since then. Their bombastic and emotional rock music, which reminds of Muse now and then, never really made it outside Belgium. But on their home ground they kept scoring. More successful albums followed and shows at any stage in the neighbourhood. In 2008 they decided to take a sabbatical.

Zornik - Less > More (Ronald Says 6 out of 10)

With Less > More that break has ended. But they don't continue down the same road. Apparently the break has led to a moment of reflection. Like on their acoustic album Alien Sweetheart from 2005, we mostly hear the modest side of Zornik and singer Koen Buyse. This may not be easy for anyone who likes the more rough music of the band, which made them stick out in the first place. But this more quiet side sounds good as well. Often the songs are kind of Beatlesque.

You can hear this in the reeling and summery 'Smiling In The Sun'. A song that is reminding of Dutch band Johan. Besides more of these kind of songs, the records also holds a few slow melancholic tracks. Those sound a lot alike though. 'I Wonder Why' is breaking out of this somewhat, by taking it up a few notches at the end. But the band is mostly taking it slow. They are showing to be full of musicality and every song is a skilful composition. Still you kind of hope that it will go wild now and then like in the old days. This doesn't happen and the record closes with the sad 'Anybody Else'.

It seems Zornik has transformed from young dog into a thoughtful adult the past decade. That's not a problem and it regularly results in beautiful compositions. Still you keep thinking about those early days, when the band impressed with their characteristic rock sound. Maybe in the future those quiet songs can alternate with a few solid rockers, so we can get the best of both worlds. In this case "less" just isn't enough. It's time for Zornik to get a midlife crisis.

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

Listen to Less > More on Spotify.

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Monday 14 January 2013

Saybia's Music Still Works Magic After Twenty Years

More than twenty years ago Danish band Saybia impressed with their debut album The Second You Sleep. They played every club and festival and released two more albums. Just after releasing the last one in 2007 tragedy struck. Singer Søren Huss' wife died in a car crash and he sank into a depression. It looked like Saybia was over. But suddenly they started playing again and announced a few shows to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their first album. Including even two nights in Amsterdam.

Saybia at Paradiso Amsterdam, January 8 2012

Even though they have been away for a few years, both nights have sold out. Loud cheers greet the band on stage who start off the first song of the album. Combined with the light bulbs on stage, what follows is a magical night. Huss may have gotten a little bigger but his vocals are still clear. Although age has made his voice a bit more rough around the edges, it still is a delight to hear him sing. It's great to hear all those songs again. Some of them they haven't played for over eight years explains Huss. Songs like 'The Day After Tomorrow', 'The Second You Sleep' and 'The One For You' have stood the test of time and still sound as powerful as always.

Although mostly known for their slow pop songs, Sabia know how to rock as well. Guitar player Sebastian Sandstrøm is allowed to go loose quite a few times and drummer Palle Sørensen is proving that he can hit hard when needed. The band is clearly enjoying it and look pleasantly surprised by the great reaction of the crowd. At the end of each song they receive a big applause. Especially keyboard player Jess Jensen is looking very pleased all night long, many times. He's looking at the people with a twinkle in his eyes and is thanking them several times. It's a classic example how a band and their fans are exchanging energy and make each other better.

Two encores follow the songs of the album including their biggest hit, the beautiful 'I Surrender'. And so after one and half hour the band thank the crowd for the last time. Huss mentioned earlier on, that they are not working on a new album, but will start on it when the time is right. Let's hope that time will come soon.

More Pictures
More Videos

Official Website | MySpace | Facebook | Spotify

7 Demons
Fools Corner
The Second You Sleep
Snake Tongued Beast
Still Falling
The Day After Tomorrow
In Spite Of
Empty Stairs
The Miracle in July
The One for You
A Way Out
Brilliant Sky
I Surrender
Encore 2:
Bend the Rules

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Tuesday 8 January 2013

Emanel And The Fear Have Too Many Faces To Show

From Brooklyn are the relatively unkown band Emanuel And The Fear. The Janus Mirror however is already their third album. While reading up on their background, you get the feeling this is not your avarege indie band, before even hearing a single note. Once there were even eleven members in the band, a small orchestra. Now there's only six, but the line-up still is quite remarkable. Besides the usual instruments, some strings are added. And they play an important part on the record.

Emanuel And The Fear - The Janus Mirror (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)

This is clear right away in the theatrical title piece and opening song, that starts in a calm way and then is showing many faces. Strings and drumbeats shape the prelude to some kind of prog-rock explosion that really let's the song take off. Quite an impressive beginning of the record. This prog-rock sound continues in 'Samuel'. Striking about this song are the many variations and changes in it. It's all very clever, but it feels very crowded. Actually the "normal" parts of the song sound best.

This also the case in 'My Oh My' which simply a gorgeous song. Beautifully arranged and played. This is where the band sounds balanced, the music is breathing and it all comes together. This doesn't mean, that the band should just stick to simple songs. But when they can balance it a bit more, the complex songs will sound more consistent too. As a listener you're grasping for air a lot now. Maybe that's why the album is only just above 41 minutes.

It's clear that the members of Emanuel And The Fear are very good musicians. The Janus Mirros has plenty of examples of this. But they should put less effort into showing it. Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and endings, is often pictured as a man with two faces. This sextet is showing even many more, but never their real face. However when you like theatrical, crowded music and like many twists and turns, this record definitely is worth a listen.

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

Listen to The Janus Mirror on Spotify.

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

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