Fiona Stephens

Elasea – Lesson Learnt [EP]

Lesson Learnt, the self release by British rockers Elasea opens with a well crafted, well mixed and mastered introductory song Breathe which contains elements of alt rock and indie rock fused together to make a unique sound. Breathe contains the title of the EP lyrically in the bridge with the phrase ‘maybe this is a lesson learnt‘. The two vocalists complement each other in this track and it’s a great introduction to an EP.

Previously Elasea have released their debut EP Where I Belong but since then the group have evolved to contain keyboard and synth parts, which can be heard in the second track Time Stops, a slower track which teases the listener by building up and dropping off during the verses before coming in with a bang at the chorus.

On My Own starts with a huge riff and the chorus balances out with chords and a synth melody to give the listener a different feel. The chorus and bridge feel a lot more spaced out than the verses, but both aspects work together really well in the song.

The penultimate track, These Secrets, is an interlude. There are two guitar parts, both with reverb and delay, before the bass and drums come in. This goes with the rest of Elasea‘s EP, and is just nice to listen to.

The final track, Walls, launches right in with no introduction and is faster and heavier than the rest of the EP. The top guitar line is placed really well in the mix, not too prominent but not hidden under all the other instruments either, giving the track that spaced out feel that the rest of the tracks seem to have. It’s a shame that the EP should end here, as the listener will be left wanting to hear more.

[9/10]

LIVE: Avenged Sevenfold – Birmingham Genting Arena 13/01/17

Genting Arena was buzzing on Friday 13th, for the long anticipated Avenged Sevenfold‘s The Stage tour. Supported by Disturbed and In Flames, it was set to be a promising night.

In Flames were first on the bill, with a short and sweet 8 song set that pumped the crowd up. Starting with Bullet Ride, In Flames played with the same energy all the way through to the ending with Take This Life, and they sounded great. Even those who had only bought tickets for the headline act were left impressed. However those with lower seats near the stage and standing at the front were left blinded by the too bright lights, but their sound was great and the audience loved them.

 

[8/10]

Next on the bill were the legendary Disturbed, and they put on an incredible performance. Their set was double the length of In Flames, but not once did the audience get bored. Disturbed began with their heavy and lively The Eye Of The Storm, mellowed out in the middle with their version of Simon & Garfunkel‘s The Sound Of Silence, where they asked the audience to light up their mobile phones, and began getting the crowd pumped again by ending on Ten Thousand Fists and Down With The Sickness. Their pyrotechnics were incredible, and they sounded fantastic. Although vocalist David Draiman looked tired by the end of the set, his vocals never faltered and he had an incredible sound. The sound crew did a fantastic job and it was all round a cracking set. One might say that Disturbed were Down With The Sickness.

[9/10]

Finally, after David Bowie‘s Space Oddity played over the sound system, Avenged Sevenfold made their appearance. Launching into The Stage, the crowd went wild, especially for Synyster Gates and M Shadows. After The Stage was over, the stage was launched into darkness and Gates played an interlude on acoustic guitar, before the other band members returned with AfterlifeAvenged Sevenfold knew what some of the crowd favourites were, however it was a shame not to hear tracks like Beast And The Harlot and So Far Away.

By the time Avenged Sevenfold played their third song, Hail To The King, the crowd were forming a mosh pit. The band had the audience eating out of the palms of their hands. They had a decent mix of old and new material, performing Warmness On The Soul from their debut album Sounding The Seventh Trumpet, and Unholy Confessions from Waking The Fallen in the encore. However it was noticeable that Shadows‘ screamed vocals sounded a little strained compared to his usual heated singing style. It is often argued that this is due to the throat surgery Shadows had in 2003, however it could also be due to the strain that heated vocals have on the vocal chords throughout a world tour. The set list cleverly included less songs that included screaming vocals, probably for this reason. By far the best received songs by the audience was Nightmare and Almost Easy. However the encore included Bat CountryA Little Piece of Heaven and Unholy Confessions, which were all fan favourites.

Shadows interacted often with the standing audience, throwing them bottles of water and talking to them. He regularly embraced Gates and Zacky Vengeance like brothers at the front of the stage, and threw a shout out to their ‘fallen brother’ The Rev who passed away in 2009.

Although the crowd went more wild for Synyster Gates, it has to be said that Zacky Vengeance is an underrated guitarist. His solos and swapping between melodies with Gates was flawless, and he deserves more recognition than he gets.

Compared to DisturbedAvenged Sevenfold‘s light show was disappointing, and the sound of Shadows‘ voice was often lost under the screaming of the crowd and the other band members. However the backing vocals provided by all the band members except drummer Brooks Wackerman rang out through the arena.

[8/10]

Better Than Never Head Under Water EP

LIVE: Better Than Never – Nottingham The Maze 11/01/17

First up on the stage of this small pub venue was Coventry’s Proud Ember, a late addition to the line up. The only acoustic act on the bill, Proud Ember states his genre as ’emo acoustic’, which describes him perfectly. He incorporated different vocal styles into his performance – spoken word, heated and just normal singing.

Although Proud Ember seemed a little nervous, he announced that he’d recorded his first EP and played some tunes from that. He sounded like a male Lily Allen with influences of Adele in terms of style and lyrical content.

With a little more practise at live performances, Proud Ember would bring something new to the acoustic scene, however what was letting him down on this occasion most of all was the sound effects. His guitar could have done with some compression to dampen the high notes ringing out on the full chords, and some equalising as there was too much top end coming through.

[6/10]

Next up were Hail The Deceiver, a metalcore group from Derby. They were a great contrast in line up to Proud Ember, and appeared to be in time and well rehearsed. Hail The Deceiver had great stage presence and excellent vocal and guitar harmonies without overpowering the sound. However, their cover of Green Day‘s American Idiot was too fast and fell apart in the verses, which was disappointing as it’s actually quite a simple song.

Hail The Deceiver had a brilliant variety of genres in their set list, from more pop punk numbers to a heavy cover of Duality by Slipknot. They performed better at their own material, and the best song of the set was an original called Nothing Left.

[7/10]

The middle of the lineup saw High Tides, who branded themselves as ‘putting the emo into pop punk’. They were known by the audience, having been gigging around Nottingham for a couple of years. High Tides played with a great enthusiasm and energy, had great timing and communication between the band members and some sweet vocal harmonies. However some of the softer vocals were lost under the instruments, which could have been avoided by the sound technician balancing the levels. They also have an upcoming EP and played some material off that. The audience loved them.

[9/10]

On second to last, and taking quite a while to set up, were Eastbourne’s The Holiday. They managed to make quite a big sound for a threesome, and the bass and drums were locked together nice and tight. They interacted well with the audience but the singer admitted to having a cold and his guitar being out of tune, which can be seen as unprofessional at bigger gigs.

The Holiday used backing tracks to round out the sound of their group, filling in with extra guitar layers where they were needed. However whilst performing Before You, the backing track to the next song came on, ruining the effect of the song. There was also some feedback on the microphones and the bassist’s microphone was muted, so it was impossible to hear him when he sang backing vocals.

Overall The Holiday had better music and were better rehearsed than Hail The Deceiver, but there were too many technical faults on this occasion to make for a better performance.

[7/10]

Finally, at 22:45pm, Better Than Never came on to the stage. The six piece from Oxford were too big for the stage, but this wasn’t too much of a problem because some of the musicians had wireless instruments. The lead vocalist, James, made use of the longer XLR lead that was plugged into his microphone and interacted with the audience. One of the guitarists with a wireless guitar frequently wandered around the room and the group were clearly enjoying their gig, which had a positive impact on the audience. However Better Than Never fell slightly out of sync in some places, but managed to get back into time quickly.

This was the group’s first time playing in Nottingham, and they exclaimed that it was better than Mansfield and Derby. They also performed a cover of Fall Out Boy‘s Sugar We’re Going Down, which, due to the number of instruments involved, came out heavier than the original but was definitely enjoyable. They were grateful to their support acts, which was great to see, however at the end of the set the group just stopped playing and started packing away with no warning. Was this because of the noise curfew in a residential area? Or was this the planned end to the set? Was it an effort at cultivating mystery? The audience wasn’t really too sure.

[8/10]

OvO interview

After reviewing their latest album Creatura, Bruno Dorella from OvO was pleased to let us interview him. We asked him a range of sensible and silly questions!

Musicology: What inspired your group name? Is the name oVo inspired by the energy company or Drake‘s clothing line? Or neither?

Bruno: None of those. Drake wasn’t even on the map when we chose the name 16 years ago. The energy breakfast was, though. Basically, Stefania was doing a trip with a gypsy caravan, when an old lady told her the word “nuovo”, which means “new” in italian. She just said that, and Stefania was somehow interested in what sounded like a message or so. She told me, and a minute later a guy on the street told me to “cut 2 off, to see myself in the mirror”. And he left. I thought about it, and cutting off the first two letters from Nuovo you have OvO, which is a palindrome, so a mirror. We thought it was funny and we picked it as our band’s name.

M: Being Italian, is there much of a market for metal over there, or have you found more success in other countries with bigger markets?

B: There is no big music market in Italy in general. But we’re not really in the metal market, we’re too weird. We’re in the freaky market.

M: Which act in the modern day would you most like to go on tour with?

B: You mean beside Swans and Neurosis? Well, we love Wolves in the Throne Room, Sumac, Netherlands, Lightning Bolt, Godflesh, Napalm Death and a bunch of other bands that we’d love to go on tour with. Iron Maiden would be kind of cool too, if we can go on that plane.

M: In an ideal world, would you have anyone to guest on your tracks? If so, who?

B: Beside Tom Waits and Diamanda Galas you mean? I’d love to get some free samples from [sic] Autechre, Aphex Twin and Amon Tobin. “You’re innocent when you dream”, right?

M: If you could tour around the world but could only have supports from Italy, who would you pick and why?

B: We’re actually organizing a world tour with an Italian band called Hate & Merda, they are friendly [sic] and very down to earth, which is the condition to tour with us.

M: What is your favourite online meme?

B: I wish we would have time to waste with that.

M: If you had to pick an artist to listen to forever who would it be?

B: You mean beside Neurosis, Diamanda, Tom and Swans?

M: Where are you most interested to play a show in the world?

B: The more it’s off the usual route, the more we’re interested. We’re up for any idea on Earth, in the Seven Seas, or in the outer Space. So, promoters from Mars, Atlantis or simply Addis Abeba, get in touch!

M: Do you have any hidden talents?

B: Stefania is really good in vegan cooking for massive queer demos. I’m the best drunk tennis player in the scene.

M: When did you realise you wanted to pursue music?

B: It was very natural, really. I knew it since I was a child, there was no other option. Thanks [sic] for asking though.

If you haven’t already, check out OvO‘s album Creatura!

Nicole Saboune – Miman

Swedish post punk artist Nicole Sabouné has today released her latest album MimanMiman follows her debut album Must Exist, released in 2014.

Miman opens with The Body, containing typical 70s-80s vocals found from the likes of Abba, however they are placed in up to date music. The Body has a repeating synth riff with choral vocals over the top. It’s difficult to describe but it does actually sound like alternative music. Immediately following is Right Track, which follows in the same vein as The Body, but somehow it sounds more gothic. It might be the different synth sounds, there is one section that sort of sounds like distorted strings playing a harmonic minor, giving the track an Asian feel. The guitar is also distorted to sound like a sitar, an Indian instrument, which lends more to that Asian image.

Bleeding Faster introduces vocal loops and effects in the instrumental, helping to tell the story. The child and the mother are calling out to each other, and the reverb and other effects make it feel like there has been an accident, with the mother exclaiming “I love you” over and over again. The most stripped back track on the album is Under Stars (For The Lovers), for the first two minutes it is just guitar and vocals, and then the one note synth and simple drumbeat starts. It’s also the most gothic sounding. Similar to Under Stars is Lifetime, however Lifetime has more going on musically. Rip This World sounds typically 80s, reminiscent of Bon Jovi. However as the track progresses, it sounds more and more modern. Rip This World would be a great choice for a single.

We Are No Losers musically incorporates elements of British Indie, combining with the awesome power of Sabouné‘s voice. It would be another fantastic choice for a single. The longest track on the album is Withdraw and about a third of the way through the track, the listener will probably get bored as it is very repetitive. The final track on the deluxe version of the album is Frozen, which begins with an epic guitar riff before stripping back to vocals and melodic guitar, with the drums coming in for the chorus. Frozen is the most gothic metal track on the album.

Sabouné is described as post punk, but perhaps that’s not the right description for her at all. Her music is definitely experimental, but not based on punk as we know it. Her music is rooted in metal, with classical and gothic influences and stays away from the typical punk 3 or 4 chord structure. Post gothic alternative might be a better description for her. The listener has a difficult time picturing a live show while listening to this album; how would the mix of computer generated synthesisers and real life instruments work in a live setting? How different would Sabouné sound live? It would be interesting to experience.

Tying the whole album together are the overriding mixing and mastering effects. Sabouné‘s vocals are given that reverb that is typical of vocalists such as Amy Lee from Evanescence and Sharon del Adel from Within Temptation. It is clear from this album that Sabouné has a brilliant voice.