Unsigned Artists Of The Month: November 2008

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.

Ultimate Guitar

Christmas Jingle?

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.

New Releases

01. Remora, the well-received grunge band featured in the August/September edition(s) of the article has notified me that Brainwash has been released.

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.

02. The One Day Speakers featured in the first ever edition of this article have released an EP known as Scan the Horizon; it is an aptly named recording, more contemplative and pondering than the Scots' previous efforts.

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

Brought to my attention by our very own Petter Carnbro, The Vala is, if you recall that grandiloquent adjective I used in the introduction to this article, the tenebrous element to this month's article. 'A symphonic blend of Black and Death Metal', to say that The Vala is exciting would be putting it mildly. Whether or not a symphonic blend of Black/Death Metal is to your liking, one cannot help but admire the song titles. Take Sanctuary of Hodmimir's Forest, for instance. Belying the slightly comic name is a song that means business. Lyrically, The Vala does not interest me, but one cannot fault the intensity with which the lyrics are delivered. Jeff Beauchamp, with dual duties of both guitar and vocals champions the intensity of The Vala with all the industry of Detroit's automobile manufacturing image.

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.

Rating: 7.5
Warpath is most certainly one of the most established bands to be featured in this column. A relatively recent distribution deal means that the band's album, Damnation, is stocked by major retailers including HMV, Tesco and Virgin Megastores. The thrashers' music can be heard from continental Europe to Japan, according to the band's myspace, and has received several positive reviews along the path to such exposure. However, bold claims that Damnation sold out in both the UK and in Japan, in two and fourteen days respectively merely beg the question of exactly how many copies were sold.

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.

Rating: 8
Kelly Izzo has no idea that she is being featured here; in fact, it is somewhat of an accident that I came across her, but a happy accident at that.

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.

Rating: 7.5
Cold Megan, the culmination of several years' worth of various musical projects including The Trash Kittens, is undoubtedly the apex that every unsigned artist should hope to reach within the boundaries of genre. Presumably named after a less than pleasant ex-girlfriend of Matt Smith, brainchild of the band, Cold Megan is the psychologically-distressed ramification of a recluse scientist sporting his classic punk influences with a rubicund, even hysterical glee.

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.

Rating: 1(0)
I can be contacted at sam.agini@ultimate-guitar.com and you can add me as a friend on myspace.

27 comments sorted by best / new / date

    nice reviews i love these monthly album reviews.. I can't say I like Cold Megan's vocals its kinda strange
    Shredder Guitar
    Oh wow. Is that band really called Cold Megan? Everyone might wanna get a chuckle and look up the term "Cold Megan" on urban dictionary. ; )
    next month i think there should be Dying Regret... they are great writers and nice guys go checkm out www.myspace.com/dyingregretmusic
    Is that a one for cold megan? also will check out the Remora stuff
    Kelly Izzo now knows about this fine review. I've heard her in Rochester and she is great, but then, I'm her Dad.
    Warpath are awesome, great live band and a nice bunch of guys. Be sure to check them out!
    Cold Megan makes me feel very wonderful things in very naughty places.
    Thanks for a great review Sam. No worries, 'I Ain't No Goddamn Elvis' has a space reserved for Katzengesang II. Btw, 'Schwannengesang' is German for 'Swan Song'. And you spelt my name wrong. And you gave me an ambiguous score. But I'll still give your article a 1(0).
    yeah stigmata are srilankan. Their ex vocalist was with Firewind for a while too.