Archive for Mike Oldfield

Echo Us – XII:XII, A Priori Memoriae

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on 19th September 2014 by izaforestspirit

Echo Us
XII:XII, A Priori Memoriaé
Released: 15th September (The UK), 19th September (Europe), 7th October 2014 (USA)
Progressive Rock
Released via Dust on The Tracks Records

‘XII:XII, A Priori Memoriaé’ is the 4th album from the Portland-based, American progressive rock band Echo Us. The band was formed back in 2000 as a solo project of Ethan Matthews (also in Greyhaven) and the original sound was more electronica than rock. This album is heavily influenced by 1970s progressive rock and artists such as Mike Oldfield.

The tranquil, acoustic guitar driven opening track ‘Vestige‘ features an interesting mix of what sounds like a church choir, random vocal samples with some clean, melodic vocals towards the end of the song. One thing that puzzled me; the same thing which always puzzles me when it comes to progressive music, is that I didn’t even notice when the song changed. Exordium (Apologue) sounds like a continuation of its predecessor with only a handful of differences. For starters, this track has more keyboard elements and the main vocal style is soft and clean – very much akin to that of most progressive rock bands. The guitar structures are complex but melodic and pleasant to listen if you’re patient enough to tune in for the whole eleven minutes.

This pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the album. As is often the case with progressive rock, the songs on here are complex in structure and there is a definite classical influence as well as an experimental flare evident in music. Some tracks such as Solum Vobis (Only You) have that stereotypical progressive rock feel to them due to the predominance of the guitars, whereas others such as the instrumental Memento lean more towards the classical music direction with the choir in the background. Then there are the tracks which combine these two distinctive styles such as Codicillus (From Far Away) which happily mixes electric guitars, keyboards and prog-rock vocals with a choir, harps and flutes. The aforementioned song also features some experimentation with the guitar which sounds a little odd and out of place at times. Then again apparently that’s not unusual when it comes to progressive rock.

While progressive rock has never really been my kind of music, I can definitely appreciate the effort that went into making this album. Ethan Matthews is clearly a very talented composer and a gifted guitar player. ‘XII:XII, A Priori Memoriaé’ is a complex and extremely well crafted piece of music that will undoubtedly be a great addition to any progressive rock fan’s collection. Personally though I’m just not a fan of this style.

4/5

Iza Raittila

Firewind & Leaves’ Eyes @ Moho, Manchester

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , on 17th September 2012 by Nico Davidson

Firewind & Leaves’ Eyes
Moho, Manchester
14th September 2012

Originally, the doors were meant to open at 6:30pm but had been pushed back to 7pm for reasons unknown to me. Once the doors had opened, I trudged my way in, followed shortly by several groups of people in Leaves’ Eyes shirts, Firewind shirts and other band shirts.

After a lengthy wait, and several smoked cigarettes, Leaves’ Eyes took to the stage, led by frontwoman Liv Kristine, who looked like  a modern-day visage of Freya. Opening up with the captivating song Spirits Masquerade before moving into the more harmonic sounding Velvet Heart. Liv’s vocals echoed throughout the venue, like some sort of angelic chorus while the fierce screaming of guitars and bass came crashing down like the waves, during the band’s mystifying performance of Ocean’s Way. Alexander’s vocals really proved to be stronger than ever during My Destiny. The band’s set took on a more folky sound later on with songs like Kråkevisa – the beautifully metalified version of a traditional Norwegian folk song – and a heavier, more enchanting version of Mike Oldfield’s To France. However, the real highlights of Leaves’ Eyes’ set, for me, were the romantically played track Frøya’s Theme and the bewitching, almost haunting soundings of Elegy which really emphasised the strength of her vocals, as well as the aforementioned traditional song that is Kråkevisa.

One thing I noticed when Firewind were ready to play was that all the Leaves’ Eyes fans had moved to the back of the venue while the ones there for Firewind moved to the front rather hastily, readying themselves for a bombardment of energetic and fast-paced riffs and technical styled drumming. When Firewind began, I soon found myself a bit disinterested for the first few songs due to the vocals of frontman Apollo becoming very strained when he went to hit the high notes. When they played the powerful Destination Forever, I was use interested in the band’s performance and their mighty use of guitars and bonecrushing drums, whilst some members of the crowd jammed along on their air guitars. Few Against Many proved to be a crowd favourite with the behemoth drumming and slow, melodic and somewhat epic guitar solo. I found myself bored when Firewind performed Mercenary Man, due to it sounding like a typical power metal anthem – complete with cheesey lyrics. Glorious proved to be a well-executed track, with its subtle introduction and loud roaring of guitars. As the band finished up their set, the crowd demanded more and more – I’d already been tipped off that they were going to perform Breaking The Silence with Liv Kristine at the end, so I was suitably pleased when it was one of their encore songs and certainly a track that really displayed the strength of her vocal style, especially when combined with Apollo’s hard-hitting voice. The other two encore songs I never caught the name of but I found them to be rather weak, compared to some of the other stuff Firewind played.

Nico Davidson