Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Hump Day Hot Ticket: Walk in Darkness “Heavy Wings of Destiny”

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Here's another band I have written about before: Walk in Darkness, and surprise—they are from Italy! (I sure like writing about the Italian bands, don't I?)

If you remember the last time I wrote about this band, then you already know that Walk in Darkness is a band of musicians who opt to keep their identities a secret by wearing long, hooded cloaks in press photos and in videos (hence the band's name). Their main vocalist is Nicoletta Rosellini, frontwoman of symphonic metal band Kalidia, and guest vocalist on many other projects.

The band has a new album and a new video, “Heavy Wings of Destiny”. The video starts off with dark imagery: ominous gray clouds, crows, and skulls. The Walk in Darkness bandmembers are shown in their hoods with cobwebs around the opening so their faces cannot be seen, while Nicoletta leads the way in a black and gray dress, holding a lantern in the fog. She summons another person to join them: guest vocalist Emiliano Pasquinelli, who is providing the harsh male vocals on this track. More dark imagery: swords being drawn, crows flying, dead one point some lyrics flash on the screen, which is as good an introduction to the band as any: “We walk in dust, but we find music in desolation”. The lyric that follows is a nod to the band’s name: “We walk in darkness, but something shines in our tears”.

For more information on Walk in Darkness, or to purchase their new album, In the Shadows of Things, visit the band's official website.

Special thanks to Nicoletta Rosellini.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Hump Day Hot Ticket: BadAss “Royal Chains”

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What is it about Italy that keeps producing some of the best music on the metal scene these days? Time and time again, my quest for new music always somehow brings me back there, and I am no closer to figuring out why than I was a year ago when I first started writing these weekly entries.

That being said, if you are going to name your band “BadAss”, you'd better have a good reason for it, or plenty of evidence to back your claim. In the case of this Italian heavy metal quartet, their individual résumés read like more like an elite VIP guest list, with all the impressive names these gentlemen have all worked with. From legends like Yngwie Malmsteen, Alan Parsons, and the Purple One himself, the late Prince; to current stars such as Babymetal, the members of BadAss are aptly named just by their musical pedigrees alone. It stands to reason that the collaborative efforts of such seasoned professionals would live up to its potential.

The band's combined talents are apparent in their video for “Royal Chains”. Within the first 30 seconds of the song, you hear a mix of groove metal, progressive rock, melodic metal, and straight-up hard rock. Visually, there is not much to the video besides the band playing in a darkened room with a single spotlight to illuminate them; and occasionally the screen will take on a glitchy look, similar to an old VHS tape that has been played too many times. In all honesty, the music speaks enough for itself to where it needs no elaborate visuals!

For more information on BadAss, or to pre-order their upcoming album More Pain, More Gain, visit the band's official website.

Special thanks to Alberto Rigoni.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Hump Day Hot Ticket: Bendida “Land of Perun”

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As promised, this week I have a new band to introduce (or, at least, new to this page). Hailing from Sofia, Bulgaria; Bendida is a self-described “symphonic-fantasy metal band” who, like many of their contemporaries in the scene, incorporate lyrical themes pertaining to fantasy. However, Bendida appears to infuse fantasy into their entire sound, as opposed to making reference to it.

You can hear this from the moment the opening notes begin on the song “Land of Perun”, their latest video. Violinist Vyara Grancharova sits on a rock, and her melancholic playing immediately hearkens visuals of a time gone by. The camera pans over broken pillars or columns in an empty field, zooming faster until we approach the band, playing in the midst of the stone columns. The music is very reminiscent of something that would feel right at home in a Zelda or Final Fantasy game, or on The Lord of the Rings soundtrack (which is clearly the sound they are going for).

Playing the role of the “Red Pagan Priestess” is Bendida frontwoman Kremena Nikolova, as she and her trusty steed gallop across the land, as mysterious figures in black pursue her on horseback (definitely reminiscent of Lord of the Rings here!). Dismounting her horse and running through the forest, the cloaked villains continue to give chase. Running up some steps, she finds an enigmatic symbol carved on a stone. While the bad guys continue hunting her down (passing by the same stone), the Red Pagan Priestess finds a cave. As she makes her way deeper into the cavern, she finds what appear to be the remains of an ancient warrior. She notices that he is wearing a pendant just like her own, both bearing the symbol carved upon the stone. Placing the two pendants together, the warrior (Perun) comes to life just in time to scare the living hell out of the evildoers.

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

Special thanks to Jason Drue Keith.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Hump Day Hot Ticket: Geezër “Boom Chick-a-Pop”

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The time has come once again to review a new video, and this week we are checking in at the most happenin' senior center in America to see what's new with our favorite elderly punk rockers. That's right, we're catching up with Geezër once again, who have found time to make a new video in-between bingo, field trips to the medical supply shop, crochet lessons, and Matlock reruns. The poster children of the AARP, Geezër is living proof that life starts at 70!

Case in point: the new video, “Boom Chick-a-Pop”, is all about Geezër's swinging lifestyle as rock star oldsters. In this lyric video featuring graphics of the bandmembers' skulls, and the word "Boom!” flashing across the screen, Geezër proceeds to tell a story about picking up chicks at Wal-Mart. (Sure, it doesn't sound very rock-and-roll, but where else do you expect to find groupies in suburban central Florida?) Apparently she's quite a catch: she not only cooks eggs for her man in the morning, but she's down for accompanying him to the sock hop at night. No wonder the Geezër guys have the vitality of a 50-year-old! Lyrically, there isn't much to the song except for repeating the title over and over. But, after all, these are guys pushing the century mark—we can't expect them to remember a bunch of lyrics!

For more information on Geezër, check out their blog!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Hump Day Hot Ticket: Master Sword “Isle of the Sky Spirits”

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If you are a fan of The Legend of Zelda video game franchise, as I am, then the month of March is an exciting time. Breath of the Wild, the first new Zelda game for a major console in over 5 years is just days away. Another event that is just as exciting but isn't getting nearly as much press: the video premiere of “Isle of the Sky Spirits”, the first single from Master Sword's upcoming full-length debut, Shadow and Steel.

Who is Master Sword? If you are new here, then you probably don't know that I have written about them before. Master Sword is a power metal band from Maryland that pays tribute to The Legend of Zelda in their music: either by writing lyrics pertaining to Zelda lore, or composing metal versions of beloved Zelda themes. It is clear that the band has strong knowledge of the games and understands the material in ways that only the most hardcore Zelda fan could (and they can get pretty intense!). Most of all, you can hear the love and respect they have for the games and their creators. Master Sword seeks to take you on a journey through Hyrule (and all its parallel universes), encouraging listeners to step inside of Link's green tunic and live out his adventures with him.

So then, it stands to reason that for the band's first video, they want to do exactly that, and not only bring the familiar sights and sounds of the Zelda universe to fans who already love and enjoy the series, but also to share this world with the metal fanbase who may not necessarily know about Zelda or video games. It's quite a fine line to walk: you want the references to be detailed enough for the biggest fans to instantly recognize, but also simplistic enough to where the most casual observer can still follow along.

Master Sword manages to strike this balance perfectly. The video begins with a shot of waves gently lapping on the shore, and the band instantly kicks into a heavy jam of the Dragon Roost Island theme, an integral piece of music from The Wind Waker—a Zelda game whose story centers on a world submerged in water, and the few islands that rose from the flood to sustain the lives that remained.

If you have read my previous reviews about Master Sword, then you will know that their first EP featured vocal duties from several different singers, including Thrillkiller's Rob Bradley, and Nina Osegueda from A Sound of Thunder. If you know what powerful voices those two have, then you know that whoever the band chose to recruit for a full-time vocalist had to be someone who was really gonna knock your socks off, because they are a tough act to follow!

From the moment that Master Sword's frontwoman Lily Hoy opens her mouth, her voice roars out and makes it apparent that not only can she hold her own with either of the aforementioned singers, but her vocals are so powerful that the speakers on my little phone can barely handle it! She is dressed in a green ensemble of her own, and her eye makeup is painted in the design of the Sheikah tribe, the protectors of Hyrule's royal family, and keepers of the monarchy's darkest secrets. (This reference will have meaning later.)

Meanwhile, we see a hooded figure in a green tunic and the trademark Hylian Shield, and we know it is Link walking along the sandy shores. The other bandmembers are wearing pendants of the Hylian Shield to further emphasize the reference. Most of the video alternates between shots of the band performing, and quick glimpses of “Link” wielding his sword, or standing very hero-like by the shore. We never see the two parties meet, but as Link walks along, we see the bandmembers (minus Lily) standing on a hill, dressed in hooded cloaks just like the Seven Sages that guard the Sacred Realm, where Hyrule's main center of power resides: the Triforce. As the Link character approaches closer, the music turns to a more faithful rendition of the Dragon Roost Island theme; a more classical sound reminiscent of merry minstrels and wandering troubadours. When Link reaches the cloaked figures and doffs his own hood, my inner Zelda geek rejoices as I see the trademark blue Ocarina of Time. As Link takes the Ocarina and holds it to his lips, Master Sword saves the best surprise for last by making reference to the greatest Zelda plot twist in the franchise's history.

For more information on Master Sword, or to purchase Shadow and Steel, visit the band's official website.

Special thanks to Matt Farkas.


*This review is dedicated to the memory of Zellie Blake: 1982-2010.*
“Whenever there is a meeting, a parting shall follow. But that parting needs not last forever. Whether a parting be forever or merely for a short while...that is up to you.”
—The Happy Mask Salesman, Majora's Mask