Musical Digest: Kolony, Laugh at the Fakes, and Skymir
Sledge is the new album from Kolony, a band I have a hard time categorizing. Hailing from Montreal, the metal band has a variety of influences ranging from prog to rock, and alternative to power metal. Vocals are essentially clean (and excellent), reminding me of alternative bands (for example, Candiria or Avenged Sevenfold) while the music has two feet in the metal realm. In other words, this is an original mix of genres. There are the technical songs that vaguely remind me of Dream Theatre, like “Monopoly” (with its Devin Townsend intro) or the excellent “Escape”; those with an american-metal riffing such as “Modern Hero” and “Escape”; the power metal/prog songs such as “Anthem” and “Road”; and the commercial metal songs not unfamiliar with latter-day Metallica, like “The Trial” and the “I Don’t Care” ballad. Overall, all these influences blend remarkably well throughout the album, and the production tightens it up perfectly. Jeff Fortin, whose trademark production left its mark on the late 2000′s Greater Montreal Area metal scene, is responsible for the commercial edge given to the sound of Sledge. Despite this production, it took me several spins before being able to taste the full flavours of this album; pealing its layers one after the other until realizing what a monster of an album Sledge is. In conclusion, Kolony is a very talentful band that brings its own original mix of metal to the table, setting its own path and distancing itself from the rest of the province’s metal scene.
Following an EP release in 2011, Laugh at the Fakes is back and displays its full capability on Dethrone the Crown. Mixing rock and metal equally, the band’s approach draws comparison to Five Finger Death Punch and Avenged Sevenfold, with elements of Billy Talent (“Cut to the Chase”), Megadeth and a range of hard rock (“And I”) and commercial heavy metal bands. The music is relatively rock with a very heavy (downtuned) sound, and clean vocals. One thing I like about Laugh at the Fakes is their ability to build intelligent thrash metal parts into their songs, for example the whole second half of Death Awaits which would make Death Angel envious… In other words, the Toronto band knows their metal history very well, and is convincingly able to balance it with a heavy dose of rock. There are other subtle influences injected here and there, for example the prog elements on the brilliant “Fighthing Dirty”, one of my highlights on the album; and the band is able to top this with remarkable catchiness, for example the lead guitar section and chorus in “Got No Regrets”. Produced by Greg Dawson and mastered by Andy VanDette (Rush, Dream Theatre, Bruce Dickinson, Deep Purple), Dethrone the Crown has a massive profesionnal production that pushes barriers and suggests that LATF has the foundations to play arenas and other big venues. This is serious stuff to chew on.
Deathrow Hoedown is the third installment in Skymir’s discography, a Calgary death metal band with folk-viking influences and a considerable sense of humour. From the joke cover artwork to the title of songs in their discography, and band photos we can find on the Web, there is a considerable amount of distraction from the quality of the music. Deathrow Hoedown is 6 songs plus an outro, for an approximate total of 30 minutes of high entertainment. The album starts with “The Duelist”, a perfect death metal antipasti that sets the tone: good grooves created by a solid line of guitars, bass and drums, backed by original keyboard elements, and standard death metal vocals. Title track “Deathrow Hoedown” stands out with its fast picking, fast drumming, and its ‘circus’ bridge drawing comparison to Unexpect. We are then served a melodic metal harmony à-la-Children of Bodom, before the song revisits the elements previously displayed (with accordeon!). The rest of the EP follows a similar pattern, alternating between Swedish death metal grooves, melodies and a few surprises, including a rooster at the end of “Cut the Dust”, my favourite song on the EP. The production itself is representative of an EP: we can hear all instruments (except for the bass which ends up being just a low end layer in the mix), and we get a clear sense of musical direction. However, maybe while attempting to mimic the graininess of the Swedish death metal sound, the guitars ended up a little thin and remind me of late 1990′s power metal band Nocturnal Rites (especially on “Hung, Drawn and Quartered”). If Skymir was to record a full length album next, a better production might allow to showcase all the subtilities of Skymir’s colorful music. This EP is available on a pay-what-you-want basis on Skymir’s Bandcamp page, check it out:
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