Symforce II - Metalrage recommends: Symforce II
Metalrage.com decided that its time to force our readers to listen to decent music. This is something that we decided a long time ago, when we started this shit with 3000 hits a month. Nowadays we’re around 500.000 hits a month, so we feel we should force our readers to not only listen to decent music, but also to attend concerts of decent music. First one up; the Symforce II festival, where progboys meet proggirls and make little progchildren.
When the positive responses kept on going after the very first edition of the Symforce festival at Tilburg’s 013, it was clear that this festival needed to become an annual happening for all you symfomaniacs. Immediately everything was put in motion to plan the second edition, which will take place August 23rd. Divided over three stages there will be no less than twelve acts from within and outside of The Netherlands. All artists that will display the broad spectrum of progressive rock music to the best of their abilities.
The line-up for this prog-feast is as follows:
Opeth (Sweden) www.opeth.com
Pain Of Salvation (Sweden) www.painofsalvation.com
Demians (France) www.demiansmusic.com
Textures (The Netherlands) www.texturesband.com
Alquin (The Netherlands) www.alquin.com
Magic Pie (Norway) www.magicpie.net
The Watch (Italy) www.thewatch.it
PBII (The Netherlands) www.pb2.nl
Hynos 69 (Belgium) www.hypnos69.be
Solstice (UK) www.solsticewebsite.com
Quantum Fantay (Belgium) www.quantum-fantay.com
Kriminal Hammond Inferno (Belgium) www.myspace.com/kriminalhammondinferno
For more general information about the Symforce II festival, check www.symforce.nl
In addition to us bothering you with the music of our choice, we’d like to confront you again with some reviews of the amazing albums of some of the bands present here. In my (DemonDust) humble opinion, these are also the very finest bands to be found at this festival. Also, pay attention to the contest we have for this festival at our website. You just might win tickets to go there!
Opeth – Watershed
The Swedish progressive brutal metal legends Opeth return after nearly three years of silence (not counting the live album) with an utterly splendid new record entitled Watershed. In my experience Opeth was always the band that raised the bar with every album with success, gaining a bigger following with every release and tour. Will Watershed manage the same?
No fucking doubt in my head it will. I’ll state it up front, this is again the best album this band has ever made. First of all let me mention the changes in the line-up; this is the first time replacement drummer Martin Axenrot joins in on the recording, as well as the newly recruited second guitarist Fredrik Akesson. Both have a more metal background, which naturally leads to a more metal sound record. The production of this album really presents this well, a tight brutal metal sound with metal solos and, for the first time ever in Opeth’s history; blastbeats! What a revelation!
Let me guide you through the album real quick, it starts with a the sort of ballad/duet called ‘Coil’, which features the wife of drummer Martin Axenrot next to frontman Mikael Akerfeldt. It's a very beautiful song that introduces the album to the listener in a very gentle way. From that song on, the stuff Opeth throws at me drops my jaw more than once. Especially the blastbeats offer a nice refreshment in the sound of the band, in particular in the song ‘The Lotus Eater’ (which I personally think is the best track on Watershed) where a clean vocal line is sung over one such blastbeat. Utterly amazing!
Furthermore the band incorporates even more old school (hippie) rock in its play, and even some more jazz again. In the previous mentioned track there are great examples to be found of this. And when in the track ‘Burden’ the first vocals appear, I even feel a little bit of the spirit of Freddy Mercury lingering around. When this track ends, the listener even gets treated to an acoustic guitar passage, played on an out of tune guitar. I don’t know why, but I dig it all the way.
If you find yourself in the lucky position to own the special edition, you will get a very nice postal package containing a bonus DVD on which you’ll find the album in 5.1 mix, three bonus tracks and a documentary on Opeth and where they stand with this album. I’d like to mention that in the first shot where Mikael Akerfeldt is being interviewed, he is wearing a glorious shirt that I must have as well. Conan the Barbarian. Fucking awesome!
Back to the music then. I cannot conclude anything else other than that Opeth have outdone themselves again, with great ease. This new line-up sounds like the strongest the band has ever seen, although only one original member remains. Refreshing, yet familiar. Astounding and mind-blowing release that will end up high in my year list for damn sure.
Textures – Silhouettes
Textures has been praised many times by many of our reviewers, on both the account of their live performances as their albums. This band is in the top of the Dutch metal scene with their complex yet grooving and melodic metal approach. 2008 brings their third release Silhouettes, according to the band their most accessible album so far.
Well about the accessible part they’re a 100% right. They’ve also stated that this record isn’t that much revolving around a concept, but more aimed at the songs individually, which is definitely true. What I hear is a way more grooving, slightly less complex yet very rhythmic metal band which can both be listened to very intensively as well as on the background. The production is very smooth on all fronts just like with the previous record Drawing Circles. The biggest improvements come from the samples and keyboards which have more different dimensions and sound, as well as from the vocals. Vocalist Eric Kalsbeek has exceeded himself again on all fronts. Especially his singing voice has really improved and become more versatile, as the bio states he sounds like a mixture of Devin Townsend and Phil Anselmo, I can relate to that. You really can’t find a better metal vocalist in this little country I think personally.
Although I feel like overall Drawing Circles made a bigger impression on me than Silhouettes, I think the latter takes more time to really grow on you. Since it goes by so smoothly, you might miss the little things here and there which become more apparent over time. Well it is obvious what to conclude I’d say; Textures has once again delivered a product of high quality which is bound to please all fans of their previous albums and most people into modern rhythmic metal for sure. I’m curious what the near future will bring for them, I for one will certainly attend the release show in Rotterdam next week and find out what these songs sound like live in a venue!