Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Hump Day Hot Ticket: Geezër “Feelin' Freakie”

Photo by Kevin Roberts

It is often assumed that when it comes to music, there is a generation gap—meaning, most of the time it is expected that people below (or above) a certain age will not enjoy anything offered from those who cross over the other side of the figurative age line. Young kids joke about their parents' “dinosaur bands”, and adults make snide remarks that today's youth has no clue what “real music” is anymore.

However, when you're a band like Geezër—who are so old that they broke the age limit—you become a phenomenon for all ages. Don't believe me? Just recently, the band held their first-ever “Geezër-Con”, where you saw everyone from small children to cougars on the prowl, all lined up to rock out with the octogenarians who know a thing or two about being hip, because they've broken more than their fair share of them. Kids love ’em, adults love ’em, and even hipsters love ’em—which is saying a lot, considering hipsters are not supposed to really like anything. Then again, Geezër are the original hipsters, who liked everything before it was cool, if only because they were actually around when all those cool things were being invented.

Which brings me to the band's video for the song “Feelin' Freakie”, from their new album Vol. II. The band's knack for predicting public reaction to things is almost uncanny, because sure enough, they knew you wouldn't believe it when you heard about the goings-on at Geezër-Con. So what do they do? They make a video featuring photographic evidence of all the debauchery that went down. Sure enough, you also see photos of Geezër fans with their brand-new Geezër CDs...everyone from little kids, middle-aged guys, sophisticated older women, and—you guessed it—hipsters.

It just goes to show, great music is timeless, and great musicians don't have an expiration date. If they did, Geezër would have stopped rocking a long time ago. Lucky for us they show no signs of slowing long as they drink their prune juice and don't forget to take their vitamin supplements.

For more information on Geezër, visit their Facebook page.

Special thanks to Bill Selby and Christopher Long.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Hump Day Hot Ticket: Thrillkiller “A Reason”

Thrillkiller band photo

So unless you are new to this place or have been ignoring the majority of my posts, you probably know by now that I fuckin' love Thrillkiller. I would go as far as to say that they're not just one of my favorite new bands of the past year—they are my favorite new band of the year. If you haven't read my review of the band's new album, Showdown, then this video review is a good time to get acquainted with this amazingly talented band.

Mixing elements of rock, metal, pop, and just about any other genre you can think of, Thrillkiller has hit potential written all over them. Honestly, why their music isn't all over the radio aiwaves already is just indicative of what a screw-job the music “industry” really is. If the business was truly about showcasing new talent, Thrillkiller would be at the top of the charts by now. Seriously, they're that good. I don't say that about a lot of bands. But of all the countless bands I come across on a regular basis had the most potential to cross over to mainstream success, I would say Thrillkiller is that band. Barely out the gate, and they're already primed for mega-stardom. Too bad everyone is too busy looking in the wrong places for the next big breakout stars, when all you have to do is look towards Baltimore and go to the next Thrillkiller gig. You'd hear it for yourself.

You don't live close to Baltimore? Not to worry, I've got you covered. You can start here by listening to “A Reason”, which has been made into a very nice-looking lyric video. I have seen some lyric videos from more “established” bands that don't look nearly as well put-together. The quality that Thrillkiller puts into not only their music, but everything they do, only shows how professional they are, and if opportunity did come knocking, they would be more than ready to answer the door.

For more information on Thrillkiller, or to view tour dates to see when they are coming to your area, visit the band's Facebook page or their official website.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Hump Day Hot Ticket: Signum Regis “Living Well”

Band photo

I come across a lot of interesting music looking for new entries for this feature. This week my musical travels take me all the way to Slovakia, home of power-metal band Signum Regis, who have been around for nearly a decade. Some websites suggest that they are a Christian band—I know, some of you are already envisioning those Stryper gigs from the ’80s, where the band is throwing out Bibles to the audience—but hey, I'm not about to let labels or preconceived notions get in the way of enjoying good music, so why should you? And what is wrong with a band wanting to use music to spread their good message? Plenty of other bands do it by way of socio-political means, and I've got nothing against that either. In fact, one of the first power metal bands I ever heard was Ohio's Jacob's Dream, an openly Christian band who wrote songs based on Biblical epics the same way that other bands in their genre use mythology or fantasy. So I am certainly not offput by a band who wishes to infuse religious imagery into their music.

Speaking of the ’80s, I grew up a quintessential ’80s kid, in that I had my butt parked in front of the television, watching MTV like every other kid (my mom even says that as a child, I watched MTV more than cartoons, and if you know my love of ’80s cartoons, that's saying a lot!). So, when watching videos as a kid, I became particularly fond of the “mini-movie” video format—the type of video that told a little story during the song. Sometimes those videos re-enacted the message of the song perfectly; other times the story seemed to have nothing to do with the song, but it was always interesting to see the kinds of stories that could be told in 3-4 minutes. In fact, when listening to music, it became part of your psyche to imagine what a video for that song would look like, and the disappointment you sometimes felt when the actual video was nothing like you'd pictured at all!

On to the Signum Regis video. The band is rocking out in a jail cell, while the camera cuts to a man in another cell. He appears to be a boxer or MMA fighter of some kind. As the video proceeds, we see him in a match while a seedy bookie is off to the side of the ring, collecting bets. Clearly the fight is fixed. While contemplating his loss, he meets a young lady. As their courtship progresses, they are seen walking together, when the crooked bookie and one of his fighters proceed to assault him and the girl. In defending her honor, he ends up going to jail, where we see his single-minded devotion in returning to his girl, who may or may not be waiting for him. Without giving away the complete ending, let's just say that she was waiting for him, but she was not alone!

Musically, the band has a fantastic power metal sound; some elements of their sound reminded me of Seventh Wonder, who might be considered more prog-metal, but like I said, labels really don't matter much to me. The band's vocalist has a voice that is a little more gravelly or rough-around-the-edges than your standard power metal vocalist, but I think he sounds great. This video is a little over a year old, so I look forward to checking out more of their music and hopefully sharing it here!

For more information on Signum Regis, visit their official website.

Special thanks to Scott Johnson.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Hump Day Hot Ticket: DGM “Ghost of Insanity”

DGM band photo

If you have been following this blog regularly, then you have probably noticed that Italy has appeared on my radar quite a bit as of late; so it should come as no surprise to you that this week I am showcasing yet another Italian band. However, it isn't because I have some sort of fascination with Italy or a bias towards Italian bands—but if I think music is good, I am going to share it, regardless of where it originates. This week I'm going to talk about a power/prog-metal outfit from Italy called DGM, who have been around in various incarnations since the mid-1990s.

Now, even though I write a lot about music both here and in other places, it stands to reason that you aren't going to hear everything that's out there; not even the more popular bands in your preferred genre. When you listen to as much music as I do, and are constantly being sent material from bands all over the world, it becomes very easy to overlook a lot of what else is happening on the scene. One band that I regretfully admit I have been “late to the party” about is Evergrey, a well-respected band on the scene. I had heard bits and pieces of a song or two over the years, but never enough to determine whether it was anything I might be interested in. Then a few weeks ago I heard a song on one of my favorite internet radio stations and decided it was about time I get acquainted with this band.

So, you are probably asking, what does this have to do with DGM? Well, beside the fact that both are bands I am just getting familiar with, they have both collaborated together on this video I am about to share with you. Evergrey's vocalist, Tom Englund, has provided guest vocals on the track “Ghost of Insanity”, which will be on the upcoming DGM album, The Passage.

Since this is a “lyric video” (for all you older folks unfamiliar with this term, it is basically a music video where instead of seeing a band performance or a story, you read the song lyrics as they appear on the screen; sometimes with cool graphics or imagery), there is not much to see by way of the actual video. But the music does the talking loud and clear—the voices of Tom Englund and DGM vocalist Mark Basile complement each other wonderfully. Both have strong voices, but neither overpowers the other, and they each blend into their parts so seamlessly that either could take on the other's vocal role and nothing would be lost in the transition. Musically, it's both heavy and melodic, without too much overblown pomp and circumstance that both prog and power metal can be guilty of at times.

DGM's album The Passage is available on August 26th via Frontiers Records. For more information about DGM, visit their official website.

Special thanks to Jon Freeman at Frontiers.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Hump Day Hot Ticket: Porphyra “Porphyra”

Porphyra band photo

Ever since I began this weekly feature back in April, I have kept the content rather up-to-date; featuring videos that are fairly current or brand-new. However, this is not a rule of thumb, and this week I've decided to break from the pattern thus far and go back a little bit to a video from early 2015. So while it isn't brand-new, it could still be considered “fairly current”, and most likely it is new to many of you reading this!

About a year ago, I wrote a list of my favorite “singular” albums (i.e., bands who only released one album). Among these was the album Destination Unknown by a band from New York called Phoenix Reign. Although Phoenix Reign disbanded, the band's guitarist Billy Chrissochos went on to form a new band called Porphyra; whom, as I briefly mentioned on this blog, has become the very first heavy metal band ever to play the legendary Carnegie Hall. That's saying a lot, considering how many metal bands with far greater popularity would give anything to put that on their own résumés.

What I have always enjoyed about both bands (and obviously, Billy's creative vision being the connecting thread between the two) is that the music could be categorized as “power metal”, but there are many other different musical influences at work, which makes it vastly different from your typical power metal band. Lyrically, Billy has always touched upon themes rooted in Greek history, which gives the music that same epic storytelling that bands like Iron Maiden have done so well. Within the scope of Porphyra, other themes such as science fiction have also been incorporated; but ultimately it is the band's nod to their Greek heritage that gives both their music and lyrics that certain flair that their contemporaries just don't have.

And because the best bands always have songs named after themselves, Porphyra's musical namesake is a shining example of the band's knack for weaving strong imagery into the music. In the video for “Porphyra”, the Middle-Eastern stylings of the song is perfectly matched with seductive belly dancers—some of whom are quite limber, might I add—as they entertain a very disinterested-looking king on a throne. Chandler Mogel's hypnotic vocals perfectly complement the music, as it invitingly reels you in and takes you on an enchanted journey through song.

Currently, Porphyra is holding a crowdfunding campaign for their album in the making. Follow the link here for more information or to contribute. Or visit their official website to learn more about their “Grecian rock opera” that has wowed the audiences at Carnegie Hall!