Archive for Guitar

Ibanez Iron Label RG 7 String RGIR27E

Posted in Featured, Gear Reviews, Misc. with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 16th October 2013 by vmteam

Specs:

  • 3 piece Maple/Bubinga neck
  • 25.5” scale length
  • Basswood body
  • Rosewood Fretboard
  • Jumbo Frets
  • EMG 707 Pickups (bridge and neck positions)
  • 3 Way Blade Switch
  • 1 Volume
  • Latching Killswitch
  • EDGE-ZERO II Bridge

The Ibanez RG is probably one of the most recognisable and iconic guitar shapes in the long history of the guitar. Its sharp points and beautiful curves give it elegance with a touch of venom. Through its many iterations, the RG has been the workhorse model of choice for guitar players around the world, from jazz to metal. In the metal world it has secured its standpoint by morphing its uncompromising playability to suit the needs of six string players, seven stringers and 8 string djentelmen alike. The range of options is vast on this particular model, with hardtail versions for players who want absolute stability, and vibrato models for those that want to drop bombs and scream the place down.

The Iron Label series has been a welcome refreshment to the ideas of building the shred machine. The series combines all the features and playability of the existing models, the variety of fixed bridge or double locking vibrato units, string count and gorgeous looks with that one thing we all find hard to swallow when we look for our guitars; affordability. Ibanez threw it all on the line and created an affordable, reliable, uncompromising weapon of maximum shred, and have been reaping the rewards.

This particular model, the RGIR27E, is one of two 7 string examples on show within the body shape. Its main feature is the double locking EDGE-ZERO II Floating vibrato unit. The other version of this is a fixed bridge affair, denoted by the F in the model number (RGIR27FE). Both feature EMG 707 pickups for the ultimate sound of brutality, a 25.5 inch scale neck to handle not only the standard six strings with outstanding stability, but cater for the low B string with ease. It aptly manages to retain the string tension, whilst allowing great articulation of the low notes. If you find that low B isn’t brutal enough for you, slap some heavier strings on and tune down to A or G and unleash a fire breathing monster of death and destruction, and it will even hold a low F with a good amount of accuracy, (and a damn good set up job).

The EDGE-ZERO II is a development of the original Ibanez Edge series of double locking vibrato units, and it certainly lives up to the reputation built by it’s forbearers. Because of the unit being double locking (strings lock at the bridge and at the nut of the neck) the system allows extreme changes in pitch, both up and down and tuning stability is rock solid. As the strings terminate at the locking saddle on the bridge, the transfer of vibrations through the bridge to the body is a direct transfer. This allows the guitar to sustain notes whilst being manipulated by the vibrato, and harmonics can be held for extended periods of time. The fine tuners on the bridge allow for precise tuning when the strings are locked down, and allow quick tuning changes if a string slips out of tune. As if that wasn’t enough, the bridge is a recessed floating affair, so the strings can be pulled sharp and allows for all sorts of musical devilry.

The neck on the RGIR27E is fast, flat and wide for all kinds of shred play. The unfinished Maple feels extremely comfortable and rigid, combined with the Bubinga stripe running through the centre to enhance the rigidity and tone of the neck. The older Ibanez necks were a combination of Maple and featured a couple of Walnut stripes and were a multi-ply neck configuration, that were superbly sturdy, and featured some of the thinnest neck profiles imaginable. This particular neck feels ever so slightly thicker, but still feels amazing to play, both from a lead standpoint and a rhythm perspective. With a 400mm radius, the neck is fairly flat, and that allows for lower string heights, so the super low action is a breeze to play with. Some people find these necks hard to adjust to, because they have had to compromise with other necks, which are rounder, fatter and harder to contend with. Ibanez have given the best of both worlds and taken the neck into another dimension. A Rosewood fret board warms up the sharp attack of the Maple, whilst keeping the clarity of the notes. The absence of fret markers can be off putting at first, but take comfort in the fact that the side markers are visible even under stage lighting, so you shouldn’t get totally lost whilst wandering around slaughtering innocent victims with your brutal shredding.

The audio department is covered with the addition of one of the best, if not the best, active 7 string pickups on the market today, the EMG 707. The 707 has been the pickup that companies have tried to emulate for many years now, and some consider it to be the only 7 string pickup worth talking about. EMG asked their line up of 7 stringers what they were looking for in a pickup and almost all of them reported back saying “We want the 81 in a seven string format”. And thus it came to pass that the 707 was an 81 with a bit more, and gave rise to the demonic soapbar pickup that adorns the guitars of some of the best guitarists who utilise the un-natural 7 string guitar with great destructive power: players such as Jeff Loomis, Rusty Cooley, Dino Cazares, Christian Olde Wolbers and many more besides. Because of the ceramic magnets inside the 707, the notes are crystal clear, and have a remarkable bark and bite under crushing amounts of gain. The 9 volt battery that powers these pickups allows for true power, (there is even an 18 volt mod to soak the power and give even more output from the guitar).

When choosing a body wood, most people overlook Basswood as a cheap, undesirable wood. But as many more companies offer Basswood as a body wood choice nowadays, it is becoming a very popular choice among Pros and bedroom shredders alike. Lighter than mahogany, but just as full sounding, but with more emphasis on the lower end with a well defined mid range, Basswood is an excellent compliment to a maple neck. Add in the EMGs and an EDGE-ZERO II Bridge, and you are ready to decimate your audience with the first note.

Finally, we get to the all important bit of price. For most signed artists, endorsements will either pay for, or discount their instruments. For us mere mortals who can’t even get money off our shopping, this is a dream, one that is very rarely achieved. We scrimp and save just to afford a set of strings most times and purchasing a new guitar only happens when a store has a sale, or someone we know has had enough of their axe and wants their newest toy (or needs to buy toys for the new arrival in the form of a screaming, puking firstborn). Quite easily the best thing about the Iron Label series is the price range. The standard fixed bridge 7 string is offered, without it being a sale or having a big discount, for the miniscule price of £515.00 at Andertons music store in Guilford (online prices/store prices may vary). The EDGE-ZERO II version is priced at the tiny price of £599.00 at Andertons (again prices may vary) which is an amazing price for such quality craftsmanship and for a guitar that will rip audiences in two.

And so to recap, the Ibanez Iron Label RG, in either version, is a great addition to your arsenal, whether it’s your first 7 string or just another weapon to use. The Ibanez Iron Label series has you covered.

Dan Eastwood

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Revocation – Revocation

Posted in CD, Experimental, Metal with tags , , , , , on 19th August 2013 by Pieni

Revocation
Revocation
Released on 5th August 2013

Technical Death/Thrash Metal
Released via Relapse Records

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Naming their 4th album after themselves may not be very original, but apart from that, nothing seems to deserve being criticized in this “Revocation”. The thrash is more aggressive, the death is sharper, the prog is fiercer… every aspect is a notch or two more consistent.

Their best feature has always been the guitar work and the shredding-meets-technique of every track is remarkable – even if some riffs sound a bit familiar. Let me point a few highlights: “The Hive” made it to single, probably because it’s the most ferocious track in the album, the most straightforward in terms of brutality. The latter is less brisk in “Archfiend”, the guitars more polished, including a few moments of an acoustic one towards the end, leading to a fluid old school solo. “Fracked” has a very heavy metal initial rhythm, that eventually evolves to something more progressive and – once again in the solo – returns to a more classic and melodic tone. “Invidious” is the most exquisite and experimental track, blending everything that technical death is about with some banjo chords and gang vocals. There’s also a djent approach with the instrumental “Spastic”, and whoever gets the deluxe edition can also enjoy a very loyal cover of Metallica’s “Dyers Eve”. I confess I was hoping for a little revamp of the guitars, but there’s no significant changes there. But that’s just a cover, after all – what they had to do with their own songs to achieve a status of excellency, it was certainly done.

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Tyrian – Seek Medical Advice

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , on 4th August 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Tyrian
Seek Medical Advice
Released 21st November 2011
Metal
Self-Released

The UK’s capital, London, is a breeding ground for bands – metal bands in particular – and Tyrian are no different. Fronted by The CockRockets drummer and solo artist Tom Ussher, Tyrian have been on the scene for some time now, blending hard rock, punk and nu-metal into the weird melting pot that is Seek Medical Advice.

The experimental nu-metal stylings that up Destroy opens up the album with plenty of technical licks and raw punk vibes where as Ashes beats out catchier melodies and infectious vocal hooks – the verses themselves being as memorable as the chorus. Reborn is a subtler track that draws out Tyrian’s hard rock influences and use of dulcet guitar passages.  Waves of eerie riffs open up Forbidden before it begins sailing down the more hard rock orientated sound – Something that really brings out the emotion in Tom’s voice. Sun Don’t Shine portrays the solemn sound of Tyrian’s music and lyrics, gently releasing a slow and dreary guitar passage. Even though the pace picks up the dreary sound still pours sound like falling rain. (Empty) acts as an interlude, being composed of a monologue.

Obsession changes the whole sound of the album, bringing back the experimental nu-metal soundings that first began the album whereas Inside My Mind has a calming use of guitars though the lyrics and vocals greatly contrast against the acoustic guitar. Paralyzed has a mesmerising hook in the riffs and the vocal melodies, making it somewhat eventful compared to some of the previous tracks. Hell’s Throne ups the level of aggression on the album, throwing out beastly riffs and vicious bass work while the drums lay the cumbersome foundations for the song. Psychotic finishes the album in a truly violent way, bringing down claps of thunderous bass and snarling guitars with fierce, overwhelming vocals.

Seek Medical Advice is an interesting album, to say the least though the multitude of genres that Tyrian cover in one whole album can be quite hard to get grasp on the first few listens but it does display the musical genius behind each member of Tyrian.

3.5/5

Nico Davidson

Korotory – Chapter III: The Conquering

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , on 6th December 2012 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Korotory
Chapter III: The Conquering
Released: Early 2013
Thrash/Death Metal
Self-Released

Hailing from across the pond in the state of New York, come Korotory. Described as “the alternative to the alternative”, the band have been slicing their way through the US underground metal scene and have even gone to open up for black metal legends Satyricon. Chapter III: The Conquering is the next step in Korotory’s ever expanding career.

After the soft and alluring sounds of the opening track Hell’s Gate, the band unleash hell with the following track Spineless, a track that belts out hard-hittin’ riffs that you can really sink your teeth into. Fortunately, the rest of the album shows the same amount of ferocity, if not more. The vocal work sails smoothly across the roaring tides of ravenous guitars and behemoth sounding drums. Absolute Zero stands out as one of those tracks that would easily be a mosh pit anthem, given the right marketing while Ophidia, being another stand out track, is more akin to a stripped down Lamb Of God track – With an extra portion of vitamin heavy.

One notable feature about the album is the strong range of influences, from subtle NWOBHM sounds to the more defined thrash and death metal sections in the guitars while each track retains its own unique sound at the same time, avoiding becoming a pool of generic sounding metal. The last few tracks of the album, namely Dehumanization and Sanctified belt out the heavier thrash elements, leaving the other compounds of the band’s music behind – Of course, this doesn’t take away from the energy and aggression that bursts out through the riffs and barbaric drum work.

In today’s metal scene, there’s too many bands that end up sounding like an exact replica of their influences. Fortunately, Korotory do the exact opposite – They take their influences and recreate them into something fresh and such is the case with Chapter III: The Conquering. While their influences can still be heard in the background, the band have done well to morph the album into their musical vision and truly raise hell with this album. I can see this being the soundtrack to the apocalypse!

5/5

Nico Davidson

Korotory are:

Ray Truhn – Vocals
Darren Markoff – Drums
Chris Clemente – Lead/Rhythm Guitars
Brett Weatherston – Bass
Matt Scriva  -Lead/Rhythm Guitars

 

Giants–These Are The Days

Posted in 'Core, CD with tags , , , , on 14th November 2012 by samaxup

Giants
These Are The Days
Released: 17th September
Post-Hardcore/Skater Punk
Self-Released

In the past 3 years since the roots of Essex quintet Giants formed, they’ve amassed a huge following amongst the UK hardcore scene. With huge anthemic tunes such as Another Day, Another Year and Home To Home under their belt, it’s also no wonder why their live set is exploding with energy and crowd song-alongs. They have quickly become one of the hardest working bands in the UK and ‘These Are The Days’ is a well-fitting showcase of what the band have to offer to new fans, and what they have to reward their loyal fans with.

The 7 track mini-album wastes no time in starting. Did It Mean So Much To You gives mere seconds for the listener to prepare themselves for the ride ahead before a genre defining punk-rock riff initiates the album. The bass and guitar tones blend perfectly into a wall of sound that is driven by typical (but fitting) punk drums. Ed Parker and Jack Longman perform their vocals in their standard ‘you shout, I scream’ way but extend into different territory with a swap of tempos between slow choruses and upbeat verses.  A stand out moment in this song is the breakdown. In typical Giants fashion, they reflect the heavy and chuggy guitars with a small lighter fills of guitar which may take away the brutal-ness of the breakdown but instead adds beauty.

One thing Giants can do expertly are catchy ‘two step’ beats and When It Comes Down To It contains perfect examples of this. The structure of the song is made up of 2 choruses which are followed by well driven drum beats, aggressive punk guitars and bouncing basslines.  The vocals also closely compliment this song with catchy choruses and memorable lyrics. I have a feeling that this song will add to the foundations of their live set due to the application of this songs features.

Snakes is a rampage of pure skater aggression. The short anthem explodes with pure angst that is rumoured to be based on scooters in skate parks. For fellow skaters who have experienced the same, this song with be a vent for all the anger and the lyrics speak the minds of all who agree; ‘You’re always getting in the way’.

The lyrics that Giants painted in previous releases always had a way of reaching the hearts of their teenage fans. Won’t Be Told follows suit by expressing that things that teenagers have always wanted: Freedom. Jack Longman’s vocals are heart felt and are greatly accompanied by a flowing lead guitar riff and beefy rhythm and bass guitars. They also leave room for those fans who just want to headbang or run around in circles by keeping the punk influence running throughout the song.

Current fans of Giants are guaranteed to know track 5. Another Day, Another Year was originally released on 2011’s split EP with Evita and is now one of their signature songs that stapled their name onto the UK hardcore scene.  Unlike a lot of Giants’ songs, Another Day, Another Year has a feel good vibe. The pulsating vocals that sing about getting older but still remembering the good times, the sore throat inducing group chants and lead guitar that your ears worship all add up to an anthem that is a clear stand out amongst the rest of the album.

Bottled up is a nice and refreshing instrumental that is a break from all the carnage. The guitar tone is surprisingly beautiful and would fit in amongst bands like Basement. However, the break doesn’t last long as the final track Boneless brings the mini-album to close with a heroic mix group vocals, big choruses and intricate guitar work.

These Are The Days is not just another notch on the bed for Giants like most albums are for bands of their genre, it is the defining moment of their career so far and reflects their best work to date.  The display of Punk influenced hardcore and heart felt lyrics shown by the quintet sets the bar higher for all other aspiring artists that hope to make it big in the modern day music industry. All their hard work and touring has definitely paid off for them.

5/5

Sam Axup

The Obscene – The Torment Of Sinners [2011]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , on 30th July 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: The Obscene
Album: The Torment Of Sinners EP
Release year: 2011
Genre: Old School Death Metal

The United Kingdom underground metal scene is home to many great extreme (death & black) metal bands such as Hecate Enthroned and Venom. However, they’re not the only bands that have they’re home in the British underground. The Obscene, who keep death metal old school, are another band on the rise in the underground and their recent EP “The Torment Of Sinners” is just another step to the top for them.

”The Storm To Come”, aptly named, is the introduction to the EP. The use of sound effects throughout it, until the guitars and drum appear, leaves the listener on the edge of their seats – In a similar fashion to an extremely terrifying horror film. The guitars and drums are certainly old school in their composition. “The Storm To Come” finishes with what sounds to be the mutilated scream of a woman being stabbed, which introduces the second track “Embrace Oblivion”. The terrifying and violent concoction of vocals, guitars and drums greets the listener brutally at the beginning. The guitars are raw and just bursting with energy and the drum work is precise to the beat, brutal and intelligent.

”Grim Discovery” is composed of a voiceover which is a man speaking of bashing in a woman’s head – Can’t get any more violent than that unless you add in some raw, untamed death metal riffage which is exactly what The Obscene do, adding to the aggression and shock-value of the track. Beginning in a similar fashion to “Embrace Oblivion” is the slow yet heavy track entitled “Beyond The Hold Of God”. Some of the guitar sections seem to be choppy and lacking consistency though the listener can certainly feel the anger of the music – Which is a great thing for the hardcore fans of death metal. The drums are most impressive, more impressive the beast-like vocals.

”Skiprat Jane” begins with a voiceover of a female asking to borrow a body. The guitar riff that follows is just savage whilst the drums are on the verge of being Wall of China falling on a skull heavy! The vocals are pretty much bloodthirsty and hateful. Incorrectly named, “The Final Silence” comes shredding next – Bringing blissful death metal styled loudness with it. The scream, before the growls, sounds a tad like the ones found on a Venom record. The riffs are ingenious, mixing well with the hard-bitten drums, which sound to be doing a lot of the work in some sections. The vocals have a more beasty and demonic sound as well.

The last five tracks of the EP are bonus tracks, which can be found on the “Destroying the Heavens” EP from when the band went under a different name. The first of these bonus tracks is “P. S. A. S”. The guitars and drums certainly sound raw and unrefined, a good trait indeed. The vocals, on the other hand, sound more akin to black metal as opposed to death metal. The softer and clean section is certainly not what the listener would expect to find on this track – Fortunately it doesn’t last long before the track turns heavy again. “Destroying The Heavens” begins slow and clean, disappointingly. Though the blood-curdling scream signals for a change in weight and tempo for the track. The riffs and drums are barbaric and the vocals sound feral.

“The Man, The Martyr” brings the anger and savagery straight from the beginning. The music seems more fiery and rage-fuelled and the vocals are frenzied, much like a berserker. “Circle Of Despair” is different sounding as it seems to be more classic rock orientated, rather than death metal – though the vocals do keep a certain death metal dynamic to the track. The EP finishes with “And The Rivers Ran Black”, a track whose intro sounds slightly Gorgoroth inspired. The vocals are still raw and feral, whilst the music is savage, barbaric and bloodthirsty – A true death metal combination. You really couldn’t ask for a better track to finish the EP with.

”The Torment Of Sinners” might sound like a line out of the bible but the EP is far from biblical. The riffs and drum work would have Satan himself leaving a brown streak in his boxers and the vocals would give any demon a run for their money. Production wise, the songs are raw and aggressive – Perfect for the old school style of The Obscene. Despite the clean and slow guitar sections, “The Torment Of Sinners” is an interesting and entertaining EP, that’s not just for Hallowe’en, a jewel in Britain’s underground metal scene.

4/5

Nico Davidson

Aeon Of Horus – The Embodiment Of Darkness And Light [2008]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , on 27th July 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Aeon Of Horus
Album: The Embodiment Of Darkness And Light
Release year: 2008
Genre: Progressive Death Metal

Hailing from Australia, the four piece death metal out known as Aeon Of Horus [a name also used in Themela for the portrayal of a time of self-realisation] combine technical riffs and drum work with aggressive and violent brutality. Since forming in 2006, Aeon Of Horus have gone to dominate the Australian metal scene with their debut album “The Embodiment Of Darkness And Light”.

”3C321” begins the album with a short, melodic lick in which feral vocals and rugged riffs come straight after. The guitar work is extremely technical, perhaps a bit too technical in places. The drum work is vicious and unrestrained, adding savagery and barbaric stylings to the track. Whilst the track is well composed, it feels as if they is too much going on during in the three and a half minutes. It’s a mediocre track to be beginning the album with.

”Conquering The Speed Of Light” begins with a bit more consistency and less going on in the introduction compared to the previous track. Some of the riffs seem to be more straight forward and with no thrills while there is still a use of technicality through the track. The vocals are certainly beast-like and demonic. The drum work seems to be more acute and calculated as well. “Conquering The Speed Of Light” is certainly an assault upon the listener’s ears – Though this will be no problem for any dedicated fan of death metal. “The Embodiment: Part One – Of Darkness” has a very interesting beginning, being composed only of intense drumming. The guitar section that follows doesn’t seem to favour technicality much, though that’s no problem as the keyboard sections help create an atmosphere. There are some melodic riffs here and there throughout the track which are impressive.

Following after is the track entitled “The Embodiment: Part Two – And Light”. The intro is slower paced for a short while before the face-melting aggression and speed kicks in. The drums are vigilant and acutely played, while the guitars are brutal and angry sounding – the way death metal should be! The vocals are still going strong, retaining the feral, beast-like sound to them. The piano medley during in part of the second half is enchanting, almost like the singing an angel in a world of misery. The acoustic start of “The Pillars” is next, mixed with cunningly played drums. The acoustic guitar sections are masterfully played, lulling the listener into a state of calmness which is soon disrupted by the brutalising onslaught of “Arrogantly Opposing Reality”. The riffs are clever and sharp, whilst barbaric and savage at the same time. The drums are played with great precision, keeping in touch with the rest of the track. The vocals sound slightly like the ones found on a Lamb Of God album, which is no bad thing.

“Icon” is another track with an acoustic beginning, though the track is not entirely acoustic – fortunately enough for those who favour raw, destructive riffs over softer sections. The vocals are on the verge of being black metal vocals in some sections, though still manage to keep a hold of their death metal elements. The riffs can only be described as merciless metal aggression mixed with hateful drum work – the perfect recipe for a good death metal anthem. “Heru-Ra-Ha”, which literally means “Horus sun-flesh” [Also the name of a composite deity in Themela] ruthlessly blasts its way through the album, with intelligent-yet-untamed guitar and drum work, topped with fierce and remorseless sounding vocals. The short acoustic break is unexpected and ruins the track partially, composition wise, however the guitar solo is sheer brilliance and makes one easily forget about the acoustic section.

“As The Earth Shatters (Part One)” is the second to last track of the album. The entire track is calm, solemn and somewhat soothing, composed entirely of orchestration – Which can be a let down for listeners who were expecting neck-breaking riffs and ear-busting drum work. However, “As The Earth Shatters (Part Two)” makes up the let down of the first part as it brings the neck-breaking riffs that the listener is so eager to hear. The drum work is great, sharply composed yet uncivilised at the same time – A great contrast. Listener be warned though, orchestration makes its return on this track as well during in the second half though the raspy, whispered vocals to wonders to make it more enjoyable. The track does end on a final, heavy note fortunately enough.

Australia could soon be the next internationally recognised metal scene – Especially with Aeon of Horus pioneering it. “The Embodiment Of Darkness And Light” is an interesting album indeed. Though there are a few parts which aren’t enjoyable, the album is certainly a genius piece of work and clearly shows the potential of “Aeon Of Horus”. Be you a hardcore fan of death metal or just a casual listener, “The Embodiment Of Darkness And Light” is one album that you must listen to.

4/5

Nico Davidson