Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Hump Day Hot Ticket: MindMaze “Sign of Life”

Band photo

After several weeks of showcasing bands from afar, I am content to look a little closer to home for this week's video, and turn a spotlight on good, homegrown talent right here in the U.S.

Hailing from Pennsylvania, MindMaze is a band I have wanted to talk about here for quite some time, but haven't had many chances, considering their last full-length album was over 3 years ago. But that's all changed; MindMaze has a brand-new album out later this week, and will be hitting the road with Arkona and Sirenia shortly thereafter.

Incorporating the best of what progressive metal and melodic rock has to offer, MindMaze is one of the most promising up-and-coming talents on the scene these days. Their new release, Resolve, is a concept album already being called the Operation: Mindcrime of its generation by some critics. That is quite a comparison, but one that the brother-sister team of Jeff and Sarah Teets can live up to. Their musical foundation was built on those classic albums and influential names, so while it seems like a tall order to fill, MindMaze has proven their worth to be named in the same sentences as those greats.

For the band's first video for Resolve, “Sign of Life”, MindMaze chooses to let the music do the talking and not let the visuals overcomplicate things. It is a standard performance video; the band rocks out in an underground basement of some kind, with lightbulbs hanging overhead. Throughout the near-5 minutes of the video, everyone looks like they are having fun just playing music: whether it is the interplay between guitar and bass, or Sarah whipping her magnificent mane of hair, the entire band looks like they are enjoying themselves. And why not? When your music is this awesome, wouldn't you have fun playing it all the time?

For more information on MindMaze, to order their album Resolve, or check for tour dates near you, visit their official website.

Special thanks to Emil Westerdahl at Inner Wound Recordings.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Hump Day Hot Ticket: The Fall of Eve “If Even Angels Fall”

Band photo

For this week's entry, I am a little excited because my musical travels take me to Ayr, Scotland! I have a particular love and appreciation for Scottish culture, though (to my knowledge) I do not believe I can claim any Scottish heritage. From the music of Fish, to the Outlander books by Diana Gabaldon—I have a deep respect for the Scots, and it is one of the many places I would love to visit someday.

The Fall of Eve describes themselves as “alternative rock/metal”, but I would also add symphonic/gothic rock or metal to that definition as well. Not much is written about the band on their Facebook page, but it appears they have made an album or two, and now have a brand-new EP to promote.

They also have several music videos on their YouTube channel, but this one that I am reviewing is their most recent. “If Even Angels Fall” fittingly takes place in a church, where we see a woman in white slowly walking down some steps. The song's intro is soothing, like the chimes of a music box. The church looks old and decayed: a dusty piano with missing keys; dried-up, cracked paint peeling off the get the idea. As the band starts to play and picks up the tempo, they are seen at the cathedral altar, with lights strung around the amps reminiscent of Christmas lights, and stained-glass windows in the background. The woman in white is shown breaking apart her rosary beads in a symbolic gesture, as she turns away from the altar.

As the video progresses, she shows more signs of breaking her faith, like tossing a white tunic over a balcony. But she appears to regret her decision, returning back to the altar with her white hooded shawl, hands clasped in prayer. The lyrics of the song conveys the sentiment, “if even angels fall, there's no hope for us at all”. We see the woman in white in the darkened church, holding a lantern as she seeks and finds the music box playing the song's opening notes as we are brought back full circle.

For more information on The Fall of Eve, visit their official Facebook page, or subscribe to their YouTube channel.

Special thanks to Terry Thompson.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Hump Day Hot Ticket: Osmo's Cosmos “Runnin' Down a Dream”

Photo courtesy of Nestori Lönngrén

This week marks one year since I started this “Hump Day Hot Ticket” segment, and I must say, it has been a lot of fun. It has given me a chance to find new music from all over the world, and to give a platform to bands I have liked for a long time. Yet in all that time, surprisingly, there is one place my musical travels had yet to take me: Finland.

Ah, Finland...the home of more metal bands per capita than any other country on earth. It is said that Finland boasts hundreds of metal bands, and if you have been following metal music at all past the 20th century, chances are you have at least one Finnish band in your music library. (Even if you have not updated your metal record collection since the 1980s, you may still have one Finnish band in your stack of vinyls: Hanoi Rocks.) Stratovarius, Nightwish, HIM, Battlelore, Children of Bodom (to name only a few!)...Finland has become as known for producing top-notch metal music as they are known for saunas, Moomins, and the Nokia phone (in some respects, maybe even more so).

Considering how many Finnish bands I love, it is honestly a mystery to me why I have not featured a band from Finland in this segment already. (Too many bands from Italy?) It has become apparent to me that I need to make this right!

Over the last few weeks, I have come across a Finnish glam band called Osmo's Cosmos, who have been going around Finland since 1996 performing covers of classic rock covers from the ’70s and ’80s. My first introduction to them was the video I am sharing with you now: their cover of  Tom Petty's “Runnin' Down a Dream”.

The band does a pretty faithful rendition of the song; musically, you almost cannot tell the difference, except that this cover has a bit of a heavier punch to it. Vocalist Tipe Johnson has a similar style and tone to Tom Petty as well; but again, his voice is a little more “metal” (because metal is Finland's specialty, after all!).

The video itself consists of the bandmembers rocking out in a warehouse, in front of a stage setup where a couple other bandmembers are seen on a screen behind them, also playing guitar and changing into their rock star attire. For the solo at the end, the entire band completely rocks their asses off, working up a sweat before turning away towards the darkened warehouse.

For more information on Osmo's Cosmos, visit their official website.

Special thanks to Nestori Lönngrén.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Hump Day Hot Ticket: Eivør “Into the Mist”

Photo by Sigga Ella

Time for something a little different this, I am not reviewing a band from Italy! All joking aside, that isn't the only thing that's different. Usually I review music that is more rock or metal, but I have been known to delve into other types of music from time to time.

In almost a year since I started this weekly video review thing, I have found music from all over the globe. This week I have found a gem from the Faroe Islands named Eivør, who has apparently been making music since she was 16 and now has 9 albums to her credit, but whom I have only heard about over the past few months. Better late than never, as the saying goes.

That being said, it isn't hard to figure out why I would like Eivør's music: it has that gothic flair to it, that appeals to the musical side of me that loves female-fronted symphonic metal, and the side of me that grew up on poppy yet dark ’80s music like Depeche Mode and Kate Bush. She has a beautiful yet distinct voice, which I like a lot.

This video I am reviewing, “Into the Mist”, is a remake of an older song done in Eivør's native Faroese language, redone in English. Many comments on the video suggest that the original version is better, but I have not heard it yet, because I want to review this video without any bias towards the other version.

The video begins with Eivør standing on a bare, desolate hill, wearing a black dress with a sheer black cape covering her. Reminds me a little of Madonna's “Frozen” video. We see a hillside covered in mist (but of course, “into the mist”), a dark forest, and a rocky landscape. Eivør is seen again, this time wearing a white dress, her face painted in black like a mask. More footage of the scenery, interspersed with shots of Eivør “levitating” in her black dress; or standing by the water's edge in her white dress, the contrast of the black face paint looking very haunting, fitting the eerie vibe of the song.

For more information on Eivør, or to pre-order her upcoming album Siør, visit her official website.

Special thanks to Lou at Partisan PR.