Monday, March 21, 2011

The Album Quest, Part 5

Well it's been quite a while but to be fair, I have been quite busy with school and whatnot. In any case, I actually have time to write up this episode of the Album Quest. We continue in a metal-ish vein with the Deftones, Devin Townsend (of Dream Theater), The Dillinger Escape Plan, and Disarmonia Mundi, but move out of it at the end with DJ Champion's Chill 'Em All. Without wasting any more time, let's get down to it...

1. Deftones

a.) Diamond Eyes

This is only album I have by the Deftones at this point, although I'm definitely going to be hunting down the rest of their discography. This is their latest, and it's brilliant. The Deftones create an intense blend of nu-ish metal, punk, grunge, and alt-rock. It's interesting to say the least, but what makes it good is the way they blend and arrange sounds and moods to portray everything from pure anger to sadness and melancholy, anguish, and (sometimes) happiness and ecstasy. This album moves from the title track, which has a neatly polished chorus and heavy verses, through an overall intense first half which continues with tuned-down overdriven guitars and a lot of screamed (not growled) vocals interspersed with captivating melodies to a second part which introduces some clean sounds and more chilled parts amidst the continuing sonic carnage. An amazing album to listen to if you're up for some pure intensity and rage.

2. Devin Townsend

a.) Ziltoid The Omniscient

I guess there comes a point, when you're the guitarist for an epic metal band such as Dream Theater (which I don't listen to, but they're apparently pretty good), when you just want to let loose and have some fun. And since you play epic metal, what better way to do so than to create a massive sci-fi epic metal rock opera about an omniscient alien being who comes to Earth looking for the universe's ultimate cup of coffee? Yeah, that's basically what Devin Townsend has made for us... It's hilarious, epic, and actually musically interesting. Long pieces are full of great arrangements and appropriately used themes. The narration is extremely funny and entertaining but still conveys the story efficiently. If you want to laugh your way through some great music, this is one of the best albums to do lose yourself in for an hour or so.

3. The Dillinger Escape Plan

a.) Option Paralysis

As with the Deftones, this is the only Dillinger Escape Plan album I currently have in my library - but that is sure to change. The Dillinger Escape Plan make cacophonic prog metal that can be easily dismissed but must be lent a careful ear in order to understand the greatness inherent within. These guys manage to cover all the bases in this album, from pure melodic metal in parts to Radiohead-like keyboard-based falsetto atmospheres in others. Always possessing an intensity that acts as a constant reminder that this is indeed a metal band, the album moves across moods and sounds like a high-speed train in a rapidly changing landscape. If you can keep up, this album is certainly quite the musical ride. Very highly recommended. And the good news is, they're touring with the Deftones (in Toronto on May 3 at the Sound Academy).

4. Disarmonia Mundi

a.) Fragments of D-Generation

With all the weird metal-ish genre-mixes that I was listening to and loving for this installement of the Album Quest, it was actually nice to come across some pure, classic melodic death metal. Such are Disarmonia Mundi - slightly electronica-infused, but basically traditional melodeath complete with riffs and growls and double kick. The album itself is quite a solid collection of the above. Never does one song stick out as weak or unfinished - they are all quite amazing. Sometimes reminiscent of Dark Tranquillity in the way they combine synthesizers with the guitar riffs, Disarmonia Mundi manage to create their own brand of melodeath while respecting the norms of the genre. Always intense, often time beautiful, this is exactly what you want when you're just looking for some great melodeath with its own flavour.

b.) The Restless Memoirs EP

Slightly less produced that the full-length I talked about above, this EP contains some more adventurous arrangements and sounds, including weirder synths and some extended acoustic parts. Still the same flavour of melodeath, it's nice to see this is a band that isn't afraid to try things out. Fortunately everything they try more or less works out so the EP is a solid overall production, although the overall polish of the work could have been better. If you have a listen to Fragments of D-Generation and like it, make sure to check this out as well.

5. DJ Champion

a.) Chill 'Em All

Moving away from the metal in every way possible, I present you now one cool dude from Montreal - Maxime Morin a.k.a. DJ Champion. He made his money making jingles and soundtracks for advertising and such, and eventually grew tired of it. So he decided to go indie and make house/dance electronic music. Chill 'Em All is his debut, and since I couldn't find a torrent for his second album Resistance, I'm using this one to judge whether or not I should buy Resistance. If you want a simple judgement, let's just say that after listening to Chill 'Em All, I'm definitely putting both it and Resistance on my list of albums to buy. Now for the more complete review... Chill 'Em All is an album of guitar and bass-infused house music, where all the sounds and parts are arranged to work absolutely perfectly together. I can only imagine how many hours in the studio it must've taken to get all these to sit and work perfectly together. It's not about the technicalities of the music, it's about the atmospheres, the sounds, the way everything fits together. It makes you want to lose yourself and float at times, and bob your head and/or dance at others. It's everything house music is meant to be in a way I'd never heard it before. It's super refreshing and ridiculously awesome. Even if you don't like house music specifically, I dare you not to like this.

And that's pretty much it for this time. In other news, I've been working more with Chris on the new project which keeps progressing towards something which we know nothing of as yet. We had our first show, playing covers of The Strokes' "Someday" and Muse's "Bliss" with Ableton Live-powered electronic backing tracks, and that was tons of fun. Still deciding on how to reveal and kick off the project but details should be coming in the not too distant future. In the meantime, keep track of the Album Quest! More will be coming soon with Tiësto's debut album (when he was still DJ Tiësto), Dropkick Murphys, Earth, and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez's Trio. Cheers,


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