It might be a little late, but a good old acoustic round the campfire sing-a-long will do. If you would like to send in some Christmas/New Year songs, whether they are originals or covers, they are welcome here. I'll make sure to give any songs of reasonable quality a mention.
I Stand Corrected
Stigmata, the Sri Lankan band from Sri Lanka is, I can confirm, from Sri Lanka, contrary to reports by a certain Sam Agini in an article written by him in October. Such amateur journalism should not be making the front page of ultimate-guitar.com, and I'll leave it up to the readers to campaign for my resignation. The most amusingly articulate letter of complaint will win a small prize. You can find my contact details at the end of this article.
Evidence of the release on the band's myspace page is hard to come by, aside from a photograph of the album artwork and a track-list. Of course, the real news regarding Remora is that the band should be facing legal action, because there is already a band called Remora. I personally prefer the unsigned Remora, but legality is legality.
The Speakers have by no means lost their edge, but it seems that they're less likely to laugh at children injured in freak skateboarding accidents. Listen to Neon Nights.
A Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year?
In spite of the likelihood that I shall be standing on guard duty in the winter cold as the year progresses from this one to the next, I'll make sure to get a 'best of the best' article to ultimate-guitar.com before 2008 is out. There shall be no December edition of the column as such, but keep your suggestions coming my way, please.
This Month's Artists
True to their metal influenced such as Iron Maiden, Beauchamp is not alone in his guitar playing; joined by Matt Martin, the two bring a hypnotic accuracy to The Vala without forgoing the band's raw appeal. Listed as 'Battery', Brad Henderson provides The Vala with drumming duties that could certainly persuade Mr. Hetfield and Mr. Hammet to finally rid Metallica of both Lars and his snare.
Skald to a Raven at Dawn perhaps exhibits The Vela at their best, but aside from the wonderfully balanced lead and rhythm guitars, the metronomic drumming, The Vala's symphonic element really shines through via Chris Stilwell's eerie keys. There is no temerity or grandiose about The Vala; even the band's cover of The Trooper hits the spot, cementing The Vala as one of my favourite bands that have been featured in the past year or so.
Damnation, mastered by legendary thrash-guitarist, James Murphy (Testament, Death, and Obituary), is consequently a bullish effort; contrived and plotted almost to perfection, or as close to perfection as one can expect on a debut album. In common with The Vala, there is a similarly metronomic accuracy to Warpath's tunes, to which much credit can be claimed by James Davenport (drums), who doesn't miss a beat. His variation on the eventful Life Unworthy of Life tangibly sets the stage for the rest of the band members, and it is his, alongside bassist Joe Jordan's contribution that maintains a solid platform for Richard Goss's barked vocals and Pete Hawthorne's lead guitar efforts. To overlook the guitar solos on show would be to overlook a great deal. I feel that they deserve to be commended not only for their technical skill and execution, but also for Hawthorne's tastefulness and ability to utilize his skills to the songs' requirements, resulting in several marvelously meandering subplots throughout Warpath's story.
In closing, Warpath is a band with every chance of finding a record label, confirmed to me in conversation with certain band members. Whether or not this is an unsigned artist of the year remains to be seen, but Damnation gives Warpath a good shout for a slot in next month's recap of the year's unsigned artists. Time will tell, however, as to whether the band can progress from the anonymity of this column to greater recognition in columns such as This Month in Metal; to be specific, columns that regard established bands.
Perhaps someone can testify to having witnessed a Kelly Izzo live performance in coffee houses and clubs around Rochester, New York. It's her unmistakable voice that really hooked me, and her soothing, passionate voice is well-suited to her candid range of songs, from the war-struck themed Soldier's Wife, to the appealing humour of 'a Stiletto to the heart' in Heartbreak Betty. In any case, Izzo is the epitome of harmony, and her album, Under the Lens, should prove to be amply satisfying to those of us who can't afford to travel to Rochester to hear this lady's resplendent voice.
For all of the eccentricity of the project, Cold Megan is driven by an intelligence that few bands can boast. Katzengesang, German for Swan Song, includes several classics, including Oi Ruling Man and Kitten without a Home, not to mention some more recent numbers such as More Tea, Gloria. Kitten Without a Home provides a profound nostalgia that only Cold Megan can provide; the lyrics are based on the seminal Walt Disney animated feature Oliver and Company (1988), wonderfully tying the film to with emotions of isolation and self-consciousness that most of us can empathise with. Lyrically, it might just be the strongest track on Katzengesang and, like so many other songs featured on the album, is very inclusive--we can all feel like the sixth kitten. However, for a more poetic approach to song writing.
Other strong points of the album include both The Inquisition and More Tea, Gloria. In particular, More Tea, Gloria, might be the most exquisite piece of song writing I have had the pleasure of reviewing; it transcends the Punk genre, and is quite tangibly a track more manifestly influenced by Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd. The guitar lead in the introduction still enthralls me, a meandering East Bay Ray with a progressive edge that the Dead Kennedys could never have embraced.
Having monitored Cold Megan's progress over the years, it would be very easy for me to give this album a very-biased ten. However, Matt will be very pleased to note that, as a result of his inexplicable decision to omit I Ain't No Elvis from Katzengesang, he shall have to bear with my cynicism.