As most of you know, Theandric has released a new album entitled “The Door of Faith.” Theandric’s metal music is normally well arranged and tips it’s hat to bands like Iron Maiden and other classic metal bands. This album is a departure from metal side of Theandric. This album is acoustic. Yes…acoustic. Maybe I’m revealing my age with this …
Effa Tha – The Metal Jewel of Croatia
A couple of months ago I became aware of an amazing band from Eastern Europe – Croatia, to be exact.The bands name is Effa Tha – which is based on Mark 7:34 – “Then looking up to heaven he sighed; and he said to him, ‘Ephphatha,’ that is, ‘Be opened.’
Sometimes when you hear a new band, you need to have a couple of listens to really “get” the music and to have the lyrics or the melody firmly in your head. I have to confess that this band hit me right away the first time I heard them. After listening to four or five of their songs, I decided that this was one of my favourite bands and are an amazing addition to the CatholicMetal family. Musically, I enjoyed their music from the first chorus of almost all of their songs; lyrically, this band sings their songs in their native Croatian language – but despite my lack of Croatian – you cannot doubt the authenticity and the power of the Holy spirit as Marin (the lead singer) sings about the darkness surrounding our lives and how the light of Christ and the Power of the Holy Spirit are our saving grace in this world.
Theandric’s Great Gift: Eight Minutes of Metal Heaven
Theandric is a Catholic Metal band from Michigan who have obviously studied at the best of the “school of Metal.” The heavy influence of the best of 1980’s metal (e.g. Iron Maiden, Megadeath, etc.) and some of the best of the more modern metal (e.g. Sepultura and in my opinion – Kamelot) makes this band a sublime listening experience. This band is the pride and joy of Paolo Tiseo; he plays all the instruments and does a masterful job of getting all this music together and doing a great job of recording it to share in his ministry. Paolo, a self-confessed “perfectionist” (according to his myspace blog) has polished the song “Veni Creator Spiritus” to a classic metal brilliance.
The song starts of with a well balanced gallop – with a steady bass and rhythm combination and a snare that will level your face off. The lead that is interspersed in this introduction is great! It is not overplayed or underplayed – the lead guitar work shows a well-thought out sense of song (more about this later in the review). The second part is well arranged and you can imagine this being sung full-blast in a stadium! It has an epicness to it that is so natural to this genre. The first two parts repeat and the third part seems to summarize the two previous sections well. I’m trying hard not to use traditional terms in describing the structure of this song (e.g. verse, chorus, etc.). Theandric’s prog influence can be seen in the fact that this song doesn’t really have the typical structure (e.g.verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge or solo/chorus ad nauseum) and this works really well. The subject matter of Creation, prophets fortelling of Christ, and the Last Supper could be the subject matter of 3 different songs; but here these subjects are related in one song. “Veni Creator Spiritus” is a little long (it clocks in at 8:31); but when listening to this song, I had to double-check the time – it didn’t seem to be a hard song to listen to and there was more than enough happening musically. The separate parts of this song make it an excellent listen and reflection of what Christ, God the Father and the Holy Spirit have done for us.
Vocally, Paolo has studied Bruce Dickinson really well. The vocals cut through the mix and you can hear everything that is being said; this guy believes what he sings and comes across with authentic passion. I feel as a reviewer that my comparison to Kamelot can be easily seen in the vocals. Like Roy Kahn, Paolo has the ability to sing a line and you can’t help but feel the pureness of the message and the careful construction of melody and lyric which carry you away with the deeper message of the song.
The guitar solo (around 4:00 or so) is impeccably played; the section following the first solo is also a great lead into what we could call the “verse” section. As a matter of fact, all the guitar solos throughout the song are quite accomplished and what I like about them is that they are the type of solos that contribute to the song and not dominate. As a guitarist, I often struggle with the “do what is right for the song” camp. Sometimes, though – you need to check your ego at the door and ask if the solo fits the song. Unfortunately, some musicians tend to avoid this train of thought and solos themselves to obscurity. Theandric does not do this; checking your ego is an important thing in Catholic music and “Veni Creator Spiritus” is a great example of this (despite its over 8 minutes in length). I could see Paolo riffing himself to madness over the dynamic chord progressions of this song , but instead, he checks his ego at the door and does what is appropriate for the song; – and indoing so – what is important to praise God.
With such a romantic vision in terms of Theandric’s combination of subject matter and music – it would be interesting to see the results of a larger project. Just as William Blake was able to write about “see(ing) a world in a grain of sand, … And eternity in an hour” so has Theandric taken the aspects of God’s Creation, the foretelling of a Saviour, and that Saviour’s ultimate act of love and expressed it in an incredible song. As I said before, these three topics could be three different songs, but the idea of combining them in this unique style transforms a considerable concept into an effective praise and worship song. Theandric’s music can be heard on the following websites:
Erlosung: The Scream of a True Warrior
Ersolung is a black metal Catholic band that is from Statesboro, Georgia. I first was aware of this awesome band about 3 years ago on Myspace. The sound of this band is unlike any other that you will hear in the Catholic music spectrum. Their single, “Wall of Glass” and their first album, “Christmas Ist Krieg” are a testament to their passion and craftsmanship and in my humble opinion, it will prove to be an important release for Catholic music in the future. There are not too many Catholic artists that are able to swim in these musical waters and I respect this band for having the courage, faith and vision for doing what they do.
Before this review continues, I have to address a specific characteristic of this genre. In the late 1980s/early 1990s a style of metal came out of Northern Europe that was to be of great importance to the development of the modern metal that we have now. Labelled as “black metal,” these Norwegian/Finnish bands created an extreme reaction to the over-produced, slick “hair metal” and “death metal”of the mid-to late 1980s North American bands. The “balck metal” recordings were brutal in terms of their subject matter and in terms of their melodic/harmonic content. They were also recorded differently; they were recorded in a “low-fi” manner. One of the best examples of this genre was a band called Burzum and it’s leader Varg Virkenes. In the April, 2010 issue of GuitarWorld magazine, the genre’s sound and production characteristics were addressed several times,
“Between 1992 and 1993, Virkernes recorded four full-length Burzum albums – …the truest examples of the Norwegian Black Metal sound. Burzum’s cold guitar tones and tremolo picking, bleak synth landscapes, lo-fi production … helped lay the foundation for … current U.S. Black Metal artists.”
Erlosung continues this recording tradition, but the subject of his songs reflect his dedication to Christ and His Church. The photos of this band has them displaying the cross of St. Michael the Archangel; it seems to be a prominent symbol for this band.
Due to the limitations of our review length, I’ll focus on “Wall of Glass” in a very close manner. I will review “Kristmas ist Kreig” closer to Advent as part of our Christmas Metal reviews.
“Wall of Glass” is an amazing emotional journey of faith. Sebastian Wolf (the main source of faith propelled energy in this band) starts this song off with a beautiful piano structure which is complemented with a strong reverb in the mix. The effects that the piano is run through are well placed to get across the impassioned mood of the song. If you can listen to the piano and imagine it not having the reverb – you would have to agree that the dry piano signal would be beautiful and alluring –but the reverb is a stunning feature in this mix.
The entrance of the drums, keys and guitar come in like a hammer blow. Right away the moodiness of the piano is catapulted into a metallic cacophony that has you wanting to rock it out! The vocals continue the piano’s melancholy mood and display the longing that we all have of “the one who has spared me, From the eyes of death!” The different musical textures in this song all culminate in the frustration that we all feel from the “wall of glass” that everyone experiences in life. For example, after the first verse, the musical arrangement changes to a keyboard driven part that is not as busy but builds in intensity as the chorus develops. Despite this change the melancholy feeling is still there. The release and build up after the chorus changes again using less drums and layered keyboards but drops back into the main theme in a way that’s not predictable but sounds so natural in this song.
The lyrics and music are so well matched in this song. The lyrics have a very strong message; despite the frustration we have in our physical, materialistic world – our love of Christ (and of course, His love for us) can never be restrained. This song’s lyrics are a testament to hope and the love of Christ.
Despite many attempts to form a band (this is well documented on Erlosung’s myspace and facebook sites), Erlosung is back to a one-man operation. According to Erlosung’s facebook page,
“During the summer of 2010 Erlosung broke up, and Sebastian has now taken on the band as a solo project and is now working on the next Erlsoung full length album.”
If you read Erlosung’s facebook page and see some of the videos on myspace and youtube; you can see that Sebastian has the staying power to keep his music alive and kicking. I’m looking forward to a full album of this band’s music. If you want to hear Erlosung’s songs, the links can be found below:
Seven Sorrows Come out Swinging
Seven Sorrows is a Catholic metal/punk band out of Redlands, California. Their music is a great mixture of raw punk and metal textures that introduce this band as a group of Catholic warriors rallying around the call of our beautiful Virgin Mother Mary. You won’t hear any ballady (did I just make that word up? – LOL) Marian songs here. …
Cradle Catholic Combine Latin and Metal in "Libera Me Domine"
Cradle Catholic is a Catholic Metal band out of San Angelo in the USA. Their release “Libera Me Domine” (“Deliver Me, O Lord”) is an excellent showcase of Michael Brumley’s musical vision and should be enjoyed by fans of Catholic Metal everywhere. Due to the space that is available in our musical reviews, I focused on one song on the album and gave it an extensive listen and review. “Regina Coeli” (“Queen of Heaven”) is the song that I will focus on; it is indicative of the rest of this “must have” album. A copy of the song is embedded at the bottom of this review.
This song is one of those songs that make reviewing this music a totally awesome experience. The style of this band is to have heavy music that is great to listen to and has an emotional quality that is really rare; instead of having sung vocals mixed in with the music – Latin prayer is said with the music. Now at first, my gut reaction was here is a band that can’t find a good singer – but when I gave this a second serious listen – the emotional result of the spoken prayer combined with the frantic pace ofthe main musical movement is very powerful. The words to this prayer in Latin (with translation) are:
Regina coeli, laetare, alleluia: Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia. Resurrexit sicut dixit, alleluia. Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
(Queen of Heaven rejoice, alleluia: For He whom you merited to bear, alleluia, Has risen as He said, alleluia. Pray for us to God, alleluia.)
Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, Alleluia,
(Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.)
Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.
(Because the Lord is truly risen, alleluia.)
Oremus: Deus qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi, mundum laetificare dignatus es: praesta, quaesumus, ut per eius Genetricem Virginem Mariam, perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum.
(Let us pray: O God, who by the Resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, granted joy to the whole world: grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may lay hold of the joys of eternal life. Through the same Christ our Lord.)
Now that we have the lyrics with a comparable translation, this song seems to be very appropriate to this time of the year. All through the Church’s calendar year there are many devotional days to our Holy Lady; for example, today (Sept.8/2010) is the celebration of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As Catholics, the words to this prayer reveal a lot about our faith; and the music that Cradle Catholic offers to accompany the prayer is very well arranged to do the job.
The space offered in the opening part of this song sets up the meditative state of prayer quite well; in fact, the first piece of music could exist on its own without sounding mediocre or hypnotically boring. The careful arrangement of strings along with the Latin sign of the cross extend the mood very well. The first part gets an extra “kick” with the addition of drums, bass and lead guitar that really bring out the theme.
Next comes the tremolo picking party – a wall of sound erupts interrupted by spurts of slides screaming up the neck. The prayer is then started in the midst of this amazing musical mayhem. The energy behind the music capitulates the “Allelluia” which is stated in the first half of the prayer by the voice.
With the final “Amen,” the song goes back to the original “mellower” part and has a beautiful finish with the strings. The strings do seem to be cut off a bit early in the mix; but this could be done for effect. The voice saying the prayer in Latin is very well done but I would have liked to have had it either pumped up a little louder in the mix or compressed a little tighter. There were some parts that seemed to fade a little bit. But then again, it did make me listen closer to the beautiful words of this devotional Marian prayer.
My final word on this song is that if you are Catholic (or enjoy Catholic/Christian music) and you like heavy music – then you should have a copy of this song. Cradle Catholic (Michael Brumley) has presented an awesome piece of Catholic metal that is being giving away for free; I strongly encourage anyone who enjoys Catholic Metal to experience Michael’s ministry and get a copy of this song and enjoy it. There are more songs available on www.myspace.com/cradlecatholic.