I am a 7-string instrumental "progmetalfunk" guitarist/songwriter based out of New Jersey. I have many endorsements and six albums out (working on the 7th cd very soon).
Influences include: Led Zeppelin, Rush, Living Colour, Ritchie Blackmore, Jimi Hendrix, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Vernon Reid, etc...
One of the great things about instrumental music, is your mind is allowed to wander and create its own story to what it hears. Creating a unique listening and emotional experience each time you hear a song. You may have heard it 10 times, but each time you take away something new. That is certainly the case when you listen to Steve Bello’s new album Marblehead.
If I had to use one word to describe the album, it would be intense. But even that pales in comparison to all the emotions, thoughts, and memories the music conjures up while you are listening. Particularly in the song Black Skies and Sunshine, I wouldn’t say the song was “heavy” in the traditional sense but underneath all of the heart pounding riffs and epic breakdowns was this cadence of doom. Not doom in the negative sense of the word but if I had to paint a visual, imagine you are in the subway and there is the fast paced traffic of the tunnels and trains. All the different people scurrying around with their lives and their own agendas. But then there is the dark tunnel where you get the sense someone or something is watching you but you don’t know what it is or if it wants to harm you. Nevertheless the intensity continues to build, the adrenaline continues to flow, while this dark energy lingers just waiting to strike. Which is very much like the real world. No matter what is going on around you, at any moment something bad could happen. Maybe this song is giving us a subtle reminder that darkness is always watching and waiting for us, so while our lives might be fast paced, you never know when you will be forced into the tailspin.
Then we get to the song Turn to Rust when Steve turns on the musical charm. This song is sultry and intoxicating, like the first sip of wine after a long and exhausting day. You can just kick off your shoes, sit in front of the fire and get lost in the hypnotic waves of the guitar and melt with the gentle rhythms of the drums. My favorite part of this song is when it sounds like the guitar is dancing with the melody within the song. Its like having two songs within one that play at the same time but meld together so perfectly, much like two lovers dancing and creating their own story together. As soon as you get entranced by these lovers dance the breakdown hits and the romance has turned to passion. It is more unbridled and commanding. It is incredibly easy to get lost within this song and let your emotions wander. But as any passionate person knows, the dance must come to an end and you are left that sense of yearning wishing it could last forever.
The anthem of the album has to be Heart of A Warrior, because honestly after you are finished listening to it, you will feel like you can take on anything and anyone. The song has a battle of good and evil within it, but in this song, you can be the hero and use your own story line. There are no lyrics to dictate what you should be feeling or what story you should be following. So grab that metaphorical sword and fight all the demons trying to stop you from being who and what you are. Take no prisoners and show all the haters including self doubt, that you can’t be broken. I am not certain if it is appropriate to say that Steve has a fantastic grasp on being a storyteller, since there are no words, but his story is in the music. He gives you all the building blocks you need in order to let your mind go, he might have his own story behind why he wrote the music but he allows you to do the same with his inspiration. That is truly one of the greatest gifts and artist can give the world. Allowing the listener to use the artist’s inspiration to create their own art, even if it’s only in your mind. It gives you a release of the pain, anguish, confusion that life brings to us. It certainly is the healthiest release out there. But at the same time he creates a bond with all who listen. That sense of belonging we all want in one way or another. To know we are not alone.
Being an instrumental album, I could simply give you a technical breakdown of the songs but I don’t feel that would be giving his art the justice it deserves. Usually when artists create music there is emotion behind it or a very personal story, for me to just pick it apart analytically and technically would be in a way killing its purpose. Marblehead is an emotional instrumental story, each song on the album is a whole new chapter in life. Listen to it but most importantly feel it, shut out the world and give yourself to the music to help release your soul. It will help no matter what battles you might be facing. I know it has done that for me, to which I say, thank you Steve Bello for writing the soundtrack to the world’s life story.
In Coffinrot, the members each draw on their unique influences to fuse other elements into traditional death metal. Lyrical themes delving into the macabre and the darker side of human nature are abundant. Dark, doom, thrash and progressive metal influences may be found sneaking their way into the instrumentation. With the release of Retribution Divine, the band is excited to finally bring metal to the masses!
Carnal snarls, wicked growls, and riffs from the bowels of eternal damnation is exactly what you will get with the album Retribution Divine by Coffinrot.
There is something charismatic about this album, particularly the song Retribution Divine, you want to get drawn into its darkness and allow it to consume you. Like it’s a musical nightmare due to its heaviness that you don’t mind if you don’t wake up right away. You just follow the growls down into the depths of an unexplored realm of the mind, a place many not dare to venture because they fear the thoughts that might exist within. But you continue to follow that growl and fast paced rhythm, intrigued to see where it takes you, then towards the end of the song is an enchanting breakdown where you feel calm, and know you are about to wake up. Or do you? Do you remain in darkness or return to the light? Music can release you from any prison you have trapped yourself within, and maybe within the darkness is actually the way back to the sanity of the mind.
Husk of Skin - Coffinrot
Then you get to songs like Sentenced to Serve where you are taken on a roller coaster ride of emotions, like the darkness just taunting the light. You get hooked by the hypnotic cadence of the intro only to be led down into the darkness of the growling vocal style. Almost like you are walking down this darkened staircase where the growling is calling out to you to keep making your way into the unknown. Where at times you have this peaceful serenity of the guitar’s rhythm only for it to be shattered by that voice. Until you get to the point where you fall thru the staircase and spiral downward into a never ending pit of anguish. Where at least you don’t feel alone because others have made that same fall and are now with you in that descent.
Husk of Skin is for all you thrash metal fans out there. It starts off fast and ends just as fast but gives you some moments to breathe with excellently executed breakdowns. Where you have the guitars driving the rhythms hard and the vocalist keeping you in his trance so you never want the song to end.
One thing you can say about the album Retribution Divine, there is variety which is refreshing within the death metal genre. Often times when listening to death metal album multiple times the songs begin to fade into each other, they start to sound the same. That is not the case with Coffinrot, they are true to their unique sound and their preferred genre but they still deliver variety to the listener so we can fully enjoy their artistic abilities. You are not weighed down by the overbearing sense of doom and anguish, you get moments of calm. Anyone who has ever experienced some of the darker emotions of life, can appreciate and understand that. Even when you are trapped in the prison of the mind, you get moments to live again. Who knows, maybe after you listen to this album, you can escape that prison and enjoy life more, because you finally have released all the pain and found a place in the world where there is no judgment, only understanding, which is of course is within music.
Element X is a five piece independent hard rock band active since 2014. The band released their first E.P. called "The Prologue" in 2015 and have played many gigs around Ireland since then.
As of 2018, Element X are hard at work on writing material for their second studio release, and also keeping very active in the live rock/metal scene.
Element X is pure hard rock with a savage metal edge and a twist of alternative angst. They have made an impression on the musical world with their own unique spin of this melding of the powerhouse genres.
Let’s start out with Full Throttle, and trust me it makes you take on the day with that kind of energy. This is the song you can see thousands of people getting into their cars, dreading the day of work or school that lies before them, then hearing this song come on, cranking up the volume and drumming on their steering wheel to the beat and singing at the top of their lungs. Of course that energy will carry on and you might end up slam dancing your way into your cubicle but at least the feelings of dread and lack of motivation are now but a distant memory. The vocal style is loud, powerful, and gritty, the guitar is fast and adrenaline pumping, finishing off the song is the hypnotic rhythm of the drum that becomes the heartbeat of the song. This song really sets the stage for one epic musical ride you are about to embark on.
Reaper Fire - Element X
Showing their artistic chops in a more sinister sound is the song Reaper Fire, it has the adrenaline pumping vibe you get throughout their album The Prologue but Reaper Fire starts out with this hypnotic guitar cadence to captivate you, leading you into a haunting and intense musical arrangement where once again the gritty vocals are the star of the show. It is not the same type of energy where you want to slam dance into your co workers, it’s more of a brooding energy. Like you picture the evil madman sitting in his dungeon surrounded by darkness plotting what he is going to do to all those who have wronged him. The guitars enhance the story with their speed, riffs, and breakdowns, and the drums provide the strong heartbeat to the song. Each “character” of the band brings their usual intensity that you come to enjoy as you listen to the music but they certainly do not play the same character, there is a subtle variety where the songs sound cohesive rather than chaotic.
The song that displays the variety which I spoke of is You’ll Always Be. It is a slower paced song but certainly not what I would consider a ballad. It is a brooding angsty energy of someone being wrong and singing their heart about what evil was done to them and singing to the person who did it. We have all dealt with a monster in our lives, in one way or another, so this is your anthem to release that pain and anger. Sometimes the monster needs to hear exactly what they did to you, not so they can change because honestly, do they ever change? But they need to hear that they can’t break you, to set yourself free. You didn’t deserve the pain and it was not you who caused that evil to be done to you. A monster is sometimes just a monster and likes to hurt others. Who knows, maybe after hearing this song, more people will take a moment for self reflection and make sure they are not the monster in which the song sings about and maybe a wave of change will come across society where people are more mindful of how their actions or words might hurt another soul. Back to the song, it starts out with the gut wrenching pain of being hurt, but then leads into this enchanting breakdown which is the moment of freedom where the guitars and drums are gently guiding you back to the light, then the vocals are commanding the dark to release you and allow you to return back to the serenity of the world and return the light back to your heart. I would have to say, personally speaking, this song is the most powerful on the album and my personal favorite. I love it when music is a release but also a self check tool to ensure we are not becoming the monster that hurt us in the beginning.
All reviews are written by Italian Metal Queen ( @OceansStorm )