Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Hump Day Hot Ticket: Diamond Lane “Slipping Away”

Photo courtesy of Karina Diane Concert Photography

When looking for music all over the world for this feature, it's nice to find some gems a little closer to home. This week I unearthed a diamond: Diamond Lane, to be exact; a metal band from my hometown of Los Angeles, who has played festivals such as Rocklahoma and Hempfest, as well as every club throughout the So. Cal. area. They have also had the distinct honor of being the only unsigned band to be named the “artist of the month” by Fox Sports, who also frequently uses the band's music in their programming.

Needless to say, Diamond Lane has got quite a lot going for them already. Musically, they remind me a little of Corrosion of Conformity, with a little bit of Black Label Society thrown in for good measure. Their gritty vocals, twin guitars, and seamless blend of no-nonsense rock coupled with fist-pumping anthemic catchiness also brings to mind another kick-ass L.A. metal band: Armored Saint.

The video for their song “Slipping Away” is even a little reminiscent of Armored Saint's “Last Train Home” video, in that there is a train in the background and the video appears to have been filmed in the more industrial areas of L.A. There isn't much to the video's concept; the band is shown rocking out, along with clips of the band walking alongside a moving train. But clearly this is more about how good the music is than whether or not the video is telling a cohesive story, and the music is so good that it really doesn't need further embellishments.

For more information on Diamond Lane, visit their official website.

Special thanks to Benjamin at Lords of PR.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Hump Day Hot Ticket: Denner/Shermann “Son of Satan”

Band photo

Technically, Denner/Shermann would be considered a “supergroup”, but when you look at the impressive résumés of the bandmembers, you realize that “supergroup” is too small a term, and far too limiting in describing this heavy metal powerhouse. Comprised of original Mercyful Fate guitarists Hank Shermann and Michael Denner (giving the band its name), Cage vocalist Sean Peck, the incomparable Snowy Shaw on drums, and thrash-metal bassist Marc Grabowski; Denner/Shermann is a balls-out, take-no-prisoners, good old-fashioned heavy metal band. 

In the vein of classic bands like Mercyful Fate, Iron Maiden, and Judas Priest; Denner/Shermann is bringing back all of the elements that heavy metal has missed in its attempt to redefine itself over the decades: the over-the-top screaming vocals (not guttural, not screeching, but that unmistakable style that is a cross between operatic vocalization and bluesy howling), a thunderous rhythm section, and blistering guitar solos that scorch your ears and burns itself into your soul. When you listen to a band like Denner/Shermann, you are reminded that heavy metal is still alive and well, and if you start to forget it, they will come back at you with something so heavy it will kick your balls through your teeth.

They're also not a band afraid to play up the lyrical content and imagery that made heavy metal the stuff of every mother's nightmare back in the ’80s: the dark, sinister, borderline-Satanic imagery that has become a cornerstone of metal to the point where it almost has become a parody of itself. Whether they do this in a tongue-in-cheek way or if they are being totally serious, I really don't know, but the material is so good that I honestly don't care. With big, scary-looking demons gracing their album covers, and albums with names like Satan's Tomb and Masters of Evil, it's clear that Denner/Shermann knows their audience and is all about bringing back that wicked sensibility that gave heavy metal its edge back in the day.

Their video for the song “Son of Satan” embodies all of this so perfectly: the backdrop is of a gothic-looking castle or church, where everything is in blacks or greys, and a bell tolls an ominous warning as a choir chants in Latin. The band plays amid the decaying background, while the camera cuts to a pregnant woman being accompanied by a group of black-cloaked, hooded acolytes; clearly indicating that she is to bear the song's namesake. Eventually she is placed upon an altar of some kind, so she can give birth to the Antichrist. Clearly the backdrop of the church/castle is done with CGI effects, because Sean's vocals are so piercingly high that you expect the windows to shatter when he hits those notes, and Snowy is pounding those drums so hard that by all accounts, pieces of rubble would be crashing to the ground! Eventually, some doors burst open with some fire blazing in the background, and a shadowy figure appears, suggesting that the baby's father has arrived to meet his new offspring.

To check out more music from Denner/Shermann, visit their official website.

Special thanks to Benjamin at Lords of PR.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Hump Day Hot Ticket: Meka Nism “Mouth of God”

Band logo

Over the last few weeks, my musical travels have mostly taken me across Europe, so now I am flying a little closer to home once again with a band from the good ol' U.S. of A. Describing themselves as “epic shaman rock”, Orlando, Florida's Meka Nism combines the sounds of nu-metal, progressive rock, with a touch of symphonic flair and art rock showmanship. Fronted by “vocal artist and shaman” Ms. Meka takes the shaman moniker very seriously: her onstage look resembles a tribal shaman, with makeup on her face in harsh, bold lines; her outfit resembling something out of a Mad Max movie, and holding a shamanic wand in one hand, and a microphone in the other. It's a very cool look that complements the powerful musical sound quite well.

Musically, the song “Mouth of God” is about the Kamikuchi—Japanese shaman women through whom the spirits spoke—in other words, acting as a “mouth of God”. From the tribal chanting at the beginning of the song, you get the message very quickly. The video shows the band in a live setting, but you can also see the sort of power that Ms. Meka holds as a frontwoman and how she is able to captivate the audience, which probably makes this quite the fitting song to introduce new listeners to the band, what they're all about, and what you can expect to see from them at a live show. I like their sound a lot; it's quite different from some of the other stuff I have heard on the American femme-metal scene over the last few years. I can't exactly categorize them as one of those bands looking to take the scene back to more traditional heavy metal sounds, and they certainly do not classify as one of the bands looking to expand the symphonic metal scene into American territory. They do have somewhat of a nu-metal or alternative sound, but I feel those labels are so run-of-the-mill and not even close to describing their sound. I guess you will just have to watch the video and decide for yourself. Besides, good music is good music—does it really matter whether you can slap a label on it or not?

For more information on Meka Nism, visit their official website.

Special thanks to Jennifer K. Barry.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Hump Day Hot Ticket: Sorronia “Forsaken Tale”

Photo courtesy of Kovács Miska at G&M Pictures

If you have been following this blog or this weekly feature on a regular basis, then you probably recall that I have reviewed the Hungarian symphonic metal band Sorronia before, just a couple months back. Since there is no written rule anywhere that I can't review the same band twice (and since this is my blog and I make the rules here, I know I certainly never wrote such a rule), and because the band since has new music to share since my last entry about them, I am going to give them another write-up. Also, for the most obvious reason: I think they are a great band and anytime I can draw further attention to a band I like, I'm going to do it.

For the band's upcoming album, Forsaken Tale, due for release sometime in October, Sorronia has released the title track as its first single, with a very cool lyric video to accompany this majestic track. To a backdrop of a running stream, along with imagery of a crumbling building and a blindfolded statue holding a clock. Lyrically, this song is about the passing of time, and how we take for granted that we have all the time in the world to do the things we want; yet time has passed before we know it, and while we're busy sitting around making grand plans, the world still goes on. This sentiment is especially echoed in the lyric, “while you forgot to live, the stream reached the sea”. In other words, no matter what we do, time goes on with or without us, so we had better make the most of it. Some pretty insightful stuff.

Musically, this is sure to appeal to fans of bands like Nightwish, Within Temptation, Kamelot, or Serenity (in fact, the cover artwork of Forsaken Tale looks very Serenity-like). This song is already leaps and bounds ahead of their debut album, which was almost 3 years ago. If this is any indicator to what the rest of the album will be like, then it's sure to be great!

For more information on Sorronia, visit their official website.