We are into a brand new year and it’s the music that helps get through these times. Behold the first album of the month post of 2021. Find out what our team members have chose for their albums of the month.
Lotty: Dragony – Viribus Unitis
It’s great to kick off the year by discovering a new band to add to my music collection. A couple of friends recommended Austrian act DRAGONY and I am very glad they did. I was impressed by the empowering sounds of their song Legends Never Die so naturally I went to check out their latest album Viribus Unitis. Their majestic melodies had me hooked from start to finish, it allows me to escape to a far off fantasy land. It’s very rare these days I just take to an album by a band I am completely unfamiliar with and I took to Viribus Unitis like a duck to water.
It’s impossible to pick personal favourites as each track has something special to offer. Highlights for me include the following; bobby arrangements of Love You To Death, I am reminded of Fantastia’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice when I hear this one. The heroic welcome via A.E.I.O.U, this song makes you want to hold your weapons high into the air. ORDEN OGAN came to mind when I listened to Made Of Metal (Cyberpunk Joseph), definitely down to the flawless vocal harmonies in the chorus. These are just some of the reasons why I love this album, there isn’t enough space on this post to explain my adoration for this record. I have already lost count how many times I have listened to this.
If you like you hear in the video below, I highly recommend DRAGONY’s Viribus Unitis. It will leave you feeling majestic and mighty.
Find DRAGONY on Facebook.
Dave: Robert Johnson – The Complete Recordings
As this is actually my first Album Of The Month, I can’t think of a better place to start than Robert Johnson’s The Complete Recordings. So why this particular album? Well, let me tell you a story (if you already know it, please just humour me.)
Way back in the 1930’s, in the juke joints of Clarksdale, Mississippi, a young man named Robert Johnson would hang out with his friends. Desperate to make a name for himself, at every opportunity he would pick up a guitar and try to entertain. Nobody paid attention because, to be frank, he wasn’t very good. This young man found that hard to accept. One way or another he was going to get the adulation he craved.
One night, he picked up his guitar and headed towards the junction of Highway 61 and 49, more commonly known as ‘The Crossroads’. The light of the moon guides him, his heart beats faster with every step. The only sound comes from the heels of his polished shoes as every time they make contact with the road, they click.
The clouds drift across the moon and the light fades to darkness. He has arrived.
Lightning strikes and thunder roars. Robert Johnson falls down to his knees. A powerful presence surrounds him.
The details of what happens next we are unsure of…all we know is, the deal is done, Robert Johnson has sold his soul to the Devil. The trade? To be a better guitar player than he has ever been and greater than his peers.
When the encounter is over, he dusts himself down and heads off into the darkness.
Some time passes, the patrons of the local juke joints haven’t seen him for a while. Then one day, out of the blue, he returns. He walks into one of his old haunts, but there is something different about him, he has a certain swagger in his step. He picks up a guitar and begins to play.
The people can’t believe what they are hearing, he now has their full attention. This surely cannot be the same guy, this boy can play. His reputation builds and he is soon known as one helluva bluesman, and will be recognised as such until the Devil comes to collect his debt.
When that day came, Johnson was just a mere 27 years old. Fortunately, Satan, at least allowed him to leave us the songs on this album.
When Robert Johnson sold his soul down at The Crossroads, a seed was sewn. It grew inside of him until he was taken from us. Since then it has continued to grow through other musicians. New shoots sprout from the original organism and head in various directions, these are all the genres we enjoy today. But we must not forget they all come from the same source, the fingers of this great blues man.
So, back to my question at the top of this story, ‘why this album?’
Some 85-90 years on, I am benefiting from his sacrifice. I am now in the privileged position of being able to write my reviews on present day artists, and their work that has developed through the decades.
Where else could I really start?
I guess the biggest question of all is, is this a legendary myth or is there any truth to this story? Who knows? …and to be honest, who cares?
I have chosen my favourite track as Sweet Home Chicago. Oh, baby don’t you wanna go…
Find Robert Johnson on Facebook.
Jacob: Haerken – Of Warriors And Kings
Of Warriors And Kings is the first release by historical death metallers HAERKEN. It’s filled with riffs that will get even the most stoic of statues moving their heads. It’s a trip through medieval Britain and discusses the myth of the wild hunt in songs like King Herla and The Wild Hunt to Bannaucburn where a large and bloody battle took place between England and Scotland. It’s well worth a listen to for fans of SABATON, AMON AMARTH, FOREFATHER and history.
Find HAERKEN on Facebook.
Martin: Marilyn Manson – Portrait Of An American Family
This month I have turned the pages of time and gone back to yesteryear for my chosen album of the month.
MARILYN MANSON’s debut album PORTRAIT OF AN AMERICAN FAMILY was a shock wave across the music industry channelling all the best parts of shock rockers ALICE COOPER and KISS, a touch of glam, alternative & industrial metal, with lashings of obscene and offensive notoriety both on stage and off. Produced by the legendary TRENT REZNOR under his Nothing Records label this would be the start of the rise of the endearing anti-hero. Carving deep into the roots a darkness that the majority would find nauseous whilst making lives easier for thousands across the globe with a sense of unity in the years to follow.
From the offset you know this is going to be a deep dark ride from an eerily and gruesome homage to the Tunnel Ride scene from the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory starring the late, great GENE WILDER titled Prelude (The Family Trip). In which itself is also further referenced in the music video for the track Dope Hat. Dope Hat is hands down my favourite track on the album and for me resonates with stage fright “I peek into the hole, I struggle for control, the children love the show, but they fail to see the anguish in my eyes.”
Lunchbox conveys the tale of a bullied child who expresses that one day he will become a “big rock n’ roll star” who retaliates against his oppressors by using his metal lunch box as a weapon. The song itself is said to be inspired by a law in 1970’s Florida where it was made illegal to carry metal lunchboxes on school grounds. For someone that was bullied at school, I can totally relate with wanting to push back against the horror endured. The album not only helped me through my teenage years but also allowed me to start discovering myself.
Dogma is another stand out track from the album chanting a punchy narrative from the offset amidst sampling “burn the witches, burn the witches don’t take time to sow the stiches” and also anthemic “you cannot sedate all the things you hate”. For me not only does it stick up the proverbial middle finger to organised religion but also personifies that whatever negativity one has to endure that you need to learn to embrace it in order to move forward rather than ignore it.
There are a multitude of cultural references documented throughout the album – nods to Twin Peaks (Wrapped in Plastic), samples of the Child-Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Organ Grinder), and Poltergeist II (Cyclops). There are also snippets and quotations from serial killer Richard Ramirez, and interviews from Charles Manson. Further causing controversy and building upon the band member’s name, deriving from merging pop-culture icons given names with the surname of serial killers.
In hindsight one can indefinitely see the foundations that were laid down on this debut album, which when society tried to knock them down signalled the rise of the Antichrist Superstar.
Find MARILYN MANSON on Facebook.
Jack: Incubus – Morning View
Mentally known as the longest, most drawn out month of the year… January.
What is better to help you get through those January blues than the image of a beautiful oceanside view? Well, INCUBUS can provide just that without even needing to leave your home.
An album with a great story to tell can be beautiful, but it is rare that an album can whisk you away to beautiful, tranquil surroundings. INCUBUS have achieved this with their fantastic album Morning View.
Morning View was inspired by the location in which it was recorded – a studio on the edge of the ocean, and this can he heard through the album itself. INCUBUS chose to tone down the aggression from their previous album, Make Yourself, which probably caused disappointment amongst some of their fans at the time. For me, however, it was a natural evolution for the band.
There are some stand-out tracks on the album for me, including the opener, Nice To Know You which begins with a peaceful melody before the crazy bass and drums kick in. Wish You Were Here is another favourite of mine, and whenever it comes on the radio or a playlist, it instantly transports me to a beautiful quiet beach the lyrics ‘and in this moment I am happy… happy’ sums up the track for me. Circles is full of aggression sprinkled with a funky bassline to get your head moving along with the track.
My personal favourite track on the record has to go to Are You In? which speaks volumes to me about just wanting to get on with people. Ignore all the negativity and just get along! As I’ve aged, this song speaks to more and more as the negativity around the world seems to be on the up and up.
The use of atmospheric sounds throughout the album really bring this album to life. From the relaxing opening seconds of the record, through to the East Asian closing of the album in the track Aqueous Transmission.
One thing that I’ve failed to mention thus far is the soothing, angelic voice of the band’s frontman Brandon Boyd. If it wasn’t for Boyd’s voice, I doubt I would think anywhere near as highly of this album as I do.
INCUBUS created an album that changed my life for the better back in 2001 and still, to this day, holds it’s place in my life… it can be enjoyed regardless of the mood you’re in!
Find INCUBUS on Facebook.
Stefan: Phantom Elite – Titanium
Metallically kicking off a brand new year of music for me is an absolute superb sophomore album Titanium from PHANTOM ELITE. This band has captured my attention since I first discovered them towards the end of last year so naturally I was really eager to listen to their new album that was only released last week. The band consists of Marina La Torraca (EXIT EDEN) on vocals with Max van Esch on guitars and Joeri Warmerdam on drums. I feel that have epically taken their symphonic/melodic/futuristic electronic sound to a whole brand new level of heaviness for Titanium.
Throughout this album, the band’s talents really stand out together with the abundance of massive riffs and epic melodies. Marina’s EXIT EDEN bandmate Amanda Sommerville lends her vocals for a great guest appearance on Silver Lining. Songs such as Conjure Rains and Diamonds And Dark (the song that drew my attention to this amazing band), the electronically embellished progressive title track and Glass Crown really showcases how wonderfully captivating Marina’s vocals are. I feel the album’s lyrics in general are a stand out point too, the groove laden one on Glass Crown for example “Wash away. The spell of the night. Lost in haze after midnight. May the fooled. See what’s deep inside.” has a real melodically anthemic feeling. From start to finish this album is excellent that I’d definitely recommend listening to.
Find PHANTOM ELITE on Facebook.
What albums have made your month? Let us know in the comments. See you on the next Album Of The Month post.