Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Hump Day Hot Ticket: Signum Regis “Damnatio Ad Bestias”

Band photo

I'm back this week with another band I have featured in the past. Yes, this is going to be a trend over the next couple of weeks—I promise I have new music to share—but there is a lot of great new music from quite a few of these “past guests”, and I can't pass it up.

Slovenian power metal band Signum Regis is back with new material, and they have a very cool-looking lyric video to accompany the first single, “Damnatio Ad Bestias”—which translates loosely as the act of feeding the Christians to the lions. Signum Regis makes no effort to hide that they are a Christian band, and as a fan of power metal and the storytelling style that gives the genre so much of its identity, I see their recanting of Biblical tales as no different than similar songs about mythology, fantasy, or other historical events. Power metal lyrics are steeped in such themes, so the subject matter that Signum Regis touches upon does not seem so out of place to me. As long as the lyrics can convey a sense of imagination and an ability to open up a world through song, the subject matter can be about anything, as far as I am concerned.

Musically, this song is a lot heavier, and vocally more “brutal” than the song I reviewed here previously. The vibe matches the lyrical tone of the song, which is a vivid description of the ancient form of capital punishment. As the lyrics scroll across the screen, we see animation of gladiators running for their lives as the wild animals chase them, and the crowd makes sport of their fate. “Beasts can eat our flesh, but they cannot kill our souls”, a lyric proudly proclaims. To be honest, describing a death by way of getting torn limb from limb by lions...does it get more metal than that?

For more information on Signum Regis, or to pre-order their upcoming album, Decennium Primum, visit their official website.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Hump Day Hot Ticket: Overtures “Go(l)d”

Band photo

Although it's been a few weeks since the last time I wrote about a band previously featured here, there is a lot of great music coming out from these bands, and they are generous enough to share their music with me and to allow me to write about it. And anytime I can share good music with someone, that is an opportunity I will always take!

One of the many talented bands from Italy that I discovered last year, Overtures has a sound that would appeal to fans of Kamelot, Dream Theater, or Seventh Wonder.

In the band's latest video, the theme seems to be centered on acceptance and “fitting in” at any cost. We see three different scenes as the video progresses; each one very different, but all of them sharing this theme.

The first scene is of a woman standing at her mirror, alternating between constantly checking her cell phone and obsessively preening in front of the mirror as she puts on an abundance of makeup, fixes her hair, and takes selfies. We see a little bottle of pills among the makeup and hair products, with a label on them that looks like a Facebook thumbs-up, clearly symbolizing the girl's addiction to social media and the attention she receives. Yet through all of this, she is visibly unhappy: as she reaches into the last “dose” in her pill bottle, she goes into a panic as she searches desperately for another Like; another hit of approval. Tears streak the perfectly-applied makeup down her face as the stands there despondent, staring off into space. She succumbs to her addiction, pops the last pill, and slides to the floor in defeat.

The second scene shows three children at a desk, each of them drawing pictures of a house. Two of the children draw very run-of-the-mill, typical childish depictions of a house, while the third child presents an elaborate, artistic reproduction of a lovely mansion. His picture is rejected, crumpled into a ball, while the other two children's pictures are praised, as they stand in front of the class proudly holding up their pictures and showing off their sameness.

The third scene, and one which is shown more subtly (yet is clearly the darkest) is of a priest at the pulpit, while a woman stands before him with money in her mouth, as if taking communion, symbolizing the desperation to enter the kingdom of heaven by giving away one's self-worth. At the end of the video, we see a crumpled-up bill in her wallet, leaving us to wonder if she has found her worth after all.

For more information on Overtures, visit their official website.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Hump Day Hot Ticket: Hydra “Between Two Worlds”

Band photo courtesy of CrisVain Photography

Ever since starting this feature, my musical journey has taken me to many places—China, Slovenia, and all the way back to my hometown of Los Angeles—yet, in all my travels, I have not ventured to Germany; which, considering the genres of metal I particularly write about, seems a bit unusual. After all, many metal experts seem to agree that power metal was, if not invented in Germany, at the very least perfected there. With bands like Accept and The Scorpions laying down the groundwork for what power metal would become, along with Helloween ultimately kicking it into the stratosphere and Blind Guardian defining those power metal characteristics we recognize today, Germany's mark on metal music cannot be denied.

Germany also has not only a knack for producing their own talent, but scoping out good talent from other regions before the rest of the world catches on. As one of the first countries to fully embrace the female-fronted symphonic metal scene when it first hit Europe in the late ’90s, when bands like Nightwish and Within Temptation experienced their first bit of success outside the borders of their home countries, Germany has made itself known as the place to look when you're seeking out metal's next big thing. So you would think that by now, Germany would have at least hit my radar sometime among all this musical exploration.

In the realm of femme-metal, Germany has always been a heavy hitter. From the undisputed metal queen Doro Pesch all the way to original Arch Enemy frontwoman Angela Gossow, German women could rock right alongside the men.

For my entry this week, I came across Hydra, a German symphonic metal band fronted by the hypnotic voice of Lisa Rieger. What might come as a surprise to many that hear her stunning vocals is that, unlike many of her contemporaries in the scene, she is not a classically-trained vocalist! But she has a mighty voice all the same. Musically, the band reminds me a bit of early Nemesea, and could possibly appeal to fans of Epica, Xandria, or Leaves' Eyes.

In the video for the song “Between Two Worlds”, we see two contrasting images: one of Lisa in a dim setting, but her look is strong and confident; her hair flaming red, dressed in a beautiful gown as she dances to the music; the other in a bright, daylight backdrop, but the raven-haired woman in these scenes is shown here as confused and lost, dressed in dark colors, as she attempts to navigate her way through tunnels and stairwells. Obviously this is in keeping with the theme of the song title. Ultimately, the woman finds a crystal sphere throughout her travels, which glows brightly at the end of the video as she smiles, representing the strength and confidence she has now.

For more information on Hydra, visit their official website.

Special thanks to Demas Miller.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Hump Day Hot Ticket: Dream Spectrum “Even So”

Band photo courtesy of Priore Photography

One of the most fun things about writing this feature every week is that sometimes, I do not know from week to week what I will be reviewing. Part of the fun is never knowing what I will come across. Today's entry could be rock, next week's entry could be thrash metal or electronica. Whatever I find that piques my interest, I will write about it. Sometimes, as is the case with this week's band, I came across them by way of a random ad on my Facebook feed. I find a lot of bands this way, but I haven't written about too many of them here. Over these past few months, however, I cannot recall if I have ever come across an instrumental rock band. (Feel free to correct me in the comments section if I have.)

Hailing from Buffalo, NY, Dream Spectrum got their start in 2013, and have been making a name for themselves on the local scene. Earning the respect of Goo Goo Dolls' Robby Takac (a local boy done good, to say the least), and opening for bands such as Molly Hatchet and Jackyl, Dream Spectrum's progressive-infused, lightning-rapid riffs and jazzy rhythms are a melodic blending of musical genres packing a heavy punch.

In the video for their song “Even So”, Dream Spectrum plays upon the old saying, “looks can be deceiving”. The band rocks out in a wintry forested area, all of them dressed up in crisp white shirts, ties, and hats. The upbeat rock sound gets your toes tapping, but before you can write them off as another typical group of hipsters, the music floats off into harmonic, art-rock goodness with plenty of progressive melody and a pinch of power metal riffing. If you enjoy the clean, soaring harmonies of Joe Satriani, then Dream Spectrum is a band you should check out.

For more information on Dream Spectrum, visit the band's official website.