Derailed—Judgement Day (2010)

Derailed—Judgement Day (2010)

Derailed—Judgement Day (2010)

Details

Produced by Dean Boland. Engineered, mixed and mastered by Vic Levak at HUSH in Burnaby, B.C.

www.derailedmetal.com

Band

  • Johnie Sin—Vocals, rhythm guitars
  • Dean Boland—Lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars; keyboards; vocals
  • Steve Legault—Bass, vocals
  • Terry Cornelson—Drums

Tracks

  1. Into the mist
  2. Adrenaline
  3. Derailed
  4. Judgement day
  5. Shine
  6. Insane
  7. Rush
  8. I’d love to change the world
  9. Skinned
  10. Lock & load
  11. Fade away
  12. Your world
  13. Grey skies

Review

This debut album from Canadian heavy metallers Derailed is really rather good indeed.

According to Metal Odysssey the album was tipped for a September 2010 release on an independent label. I’m not sure if I have that release—this copy looks more like it was printed on a desktop colour printer which made me wonder if it was simply self-released or perhaps this is an advance demo. Nevertheless, the music rocks… let’s get on with it!

This album falls firmly in the old school heavy metal. If they weren’t from Canada then you might forgive yourself for thinking that this band emerged from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.

The album opens with “Into the mist” that simply sets the scene in a spooky, atmospheric way. “Adrenaline”, another instrumental track, then kicks in with a riff that could have been salvaged from the cutting room floor of pretty much any mid-80s Iron Maiden album. It really is that good! This flows into “Derailed” and for the first time you hear Johnie Sin(clair)’s vocals. What a voice! These three songs really fit together like a triptych.

Title track “Judgement day” kicks off with fine chugging riff that carries it through to the end with a short detour through a guitar solo that fits the part and doesn’t distract.

“Shine” takes a slower path and reminds me of some of Rob Halford’s solo work. “I’d love to change the world” is in a similar vein, opening with a picked acoustic guitar. It’s quite a beautiful song, to be honest.

If I have one criticism about the album it’s perhaps that about ⅔ of the way through things start to sound a bit same-y. Perhaps this may have been a little more focused with fewer songs, and releasing the remaining songs as an EP… but that is really nit-picking, with songs of this quality.

The album draws to a close with another instrumental “Your world” which has tremendous energy and a good melody, and then the final track “Grey skies” which again reminds me of Halford. It’s perhaps one of my favourite songs on the album.

Conclusion

The album is a fine fusion of metal and hard rock. It’s heavy, it’s melodic, it’s accessible, it’s solid. This is clearly a band that knows its stuff, they clearly paid attention in the school of heavy metal. The song writing is exquisite, the playing is solid, the production and mix are excellent.

I started this review with a comparison with Iron Maiden. I’ll end with one too. In 2010 Iron Maiden released The Final Frontier. I must be honest and say that I much prefer this album.

Review score: 93%

Endorphins—Where Evil Lies (2006)

Endorphins—Where Evil Lies (2006)

Endorphins—Where Evil Lies (2006)

Details

Recorded at Chemical Sound Studios in Toronto, Canada in July 2005. Produced by Ian Blurton. Engineered by Rudy Rempel and James Heiderbrecht with Dean Marino. Edited by Chuck Carvalho. Mixed by Church Carvalho and Michael Amaral.

Released on Urgent Music Records, 2006.

http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Endorphins/6649

Band

  • Michael Amaral—Vocals and guitar
  • Mike Antunes—Guitar
  • Rob Amaral—Bass
  • Patrick Santos—Drums

Tracks

  1. Flux
  2. Welcome to my Hell
  3. And God sent suffering
  4. Diagram
  5. Haunting them
  6. 26 hours
  7. The rise and fall of Lord Hades
  8. Ex
  9. Taste of blood
  10. Living in the shadows

Review

Endorphins was a thrash/groove metal band from Toronto, Canada who split up in 2008, thirteen years after being formed, with one EP and this their first and last full-length album under their metal-studded belts.

You know they say you should never judge a book by its cover? I’m going to be honest and say that I judged this album by its and didn’t expect to like it. I’m not usually so critical about covers but I really didn’t like this one: the colours, the image, the font, even the band name. (I keep thinking it has something to do with dolphins.) Did I get out of bed the wrong side this morning?!

Biologically, endorphins (endogenous morphines) are brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters that are released during stress and pain to reduce our perception of pain and create feelings of euphoria; they act in a similar way to opiates such as morphine and codeine (which metabolises as morphine in the body).

So… which is it to be: pain or euphoria?

Well, as a gentle smack in the face to my design snobbery, it’s really not bad at all. I was pleasantly surprised. The production is solid, the four-piece are well balanced in the mix, the guitars have a full, meaty crunch with plenty of bass dialled in. The vocalist Michael Amaral has a throaty scream, but it’s controlled (like Lamb of God’s D. Randall Blythe) is it’s not just indiscriminate shouting.

Very often when I listen to a band I’ll think, “Oh, this is Godflesh meets Entombed with a sprinkling of Death” or something similar, to give me a ballpark of where it fits in the wide world of rock n’ roll. I’ve struggled to be so specific with this album. It definitely has elements of old school thrash (as well as new old-school thrash outfits like Evile) but with nu-metal and punk elements thrown in for good measure.

The open tracks “Flux” and “Welcome to my Hell” are fast-paced, get-your-blood pumping songs that really make an impact. The latter even features female vocals (courtesy of Jennifer McInnis) which brings an almost ethereal, European dynamic to it.

I’m really impressed with the songwriting on this album. The riffs are different enough to keep things interesting, and the songs are short enough to keep my attention. It’s such a shame that Endorphins split. I’d really like to have heard where this progressed to: the difficult second album.

Just over half way through the pace changes and “26 hours” (track 6) opens with what sounds like an FM radio, before a rolling clean riff and drum pattern fades in and we’re treated to something more atmospheric, more experimental. It’s more rock than metal but I really like it. It reminds me of Inverness, instrumental prog band Shutter meets Pantera’s cover of “Planet caravan”.

Interlude over. Back to the face-ripping metal. The album plays out pretty much as it began: interesting riffs, foot-to-the-floor thrashing.

Except that—and this is my first major criticism of this album—”26 hours” has a profound impact on the album. It changes the pace and feel. It’s like being gently lulled into a state of relaxation only to have a bucket of ice-cold water poured onto you as you lounge on the sofa! If anything, “26 hours” is an album closer.

Placing that track at 6/10 makes this album feel too long. And it’s not: it’s only 12 seconds shy of 45 minutes. It would even fit on one side of a C90 cassette, that’s how old school it is!

I had a similar experience with Mastodon—The Hunter (2011) when I argued that track 3 “Blasteroid” was in the wrong place. It’s funny how your perception of how balanced an album is can be thrown by even just one track.

Conclusion

I’m sorry Endorphins split, they certainly showed spirit, courage and promise. I guess that 13 years was maybe long enough for them to keep plugging away with ‘only’ an EP and a LP to show for it. But then, you never know what their goals and ambitions were.

Whatever the truth, their legacy is a solid metal album (with a rather dodgy cover).

Review score: 70%

Sights & Sounds—Monolith (2009)

Sights & Sounds—Monolith (2009)

Sights & Sounds—Monolith (2009)

Details

Produced, engineered, and mixed by Devin Townsend at the Devestate. Assisted by Mike St-Jean. Drums recorded at the Wharehouse, engineered by Dean Maher. Manufacturered and marketed by Distort Inc./United by Fate Records. Released in 2009.

Band

  • Andrew Neufeld: Vocals, guitars, keys
  • Adrian Mottram: Guitar, pads, vocals
  • Matthew Howes: Bass, vocals
  • Joel Neufeld: Drums, percussion

Tracks

  1. Sorrows
  2. Shudder, St Kilda
  3. Storm & the sun
  4. The clutter
  5. Neighbours
  6. The furthest truth
  7. Pedal against the wind
  8. Night train
  9. Reconcile
  10. Borderlines
  11. Subtle, severe
  12. Sorrows II
  13. Pillars

Review

Canadian rock band Sights & Sounds is made up of members of four other Canadian bands: Comeback Kid, Figure Four, Sick City and The Getaway, and I just can’t get enough of this album. I’ve been playing it on loop all week: on my PC, at work, in the car, when taking a walk at lunchtime listening on my phone.

Strictly speaking Sights & Sounds aren’t metal — they’re about as metal as Def Leppard — but they are a part of this project so they’re staying in.

One review I read of them described them as “a blend of rock, punk and pop”, another described their songs as “a collection of intricate songs that straddles the line between sonically massive and a beautiful experiment in textured sounds.” [1] Guitarist Adrian Mottram in an interview in 2009 summed up their (then-current) influences as being as diverse as Dinosaur Jr, Greg Dulli, Miles Davis, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Mew [2]. Sounds good to me.

The album opens with a very simple chord progression played on piano, which reminded me very much of Anthrax’s “I’m Alive” from their latest album Worship Music as it builds until the rest of the band explode into the song. The rest of the album follows in a similar, thoughtful vein. There is a depth to the songs. They are allowed to breathe and move and develop quite naturally. One minute they sound fragile and delicate, the next powerful and anthemic.

Conclusion

There really isn’t a song amongst this collection that doesn’t speak to me on one level or another. Producer Devin Townsend has done a sterling job capturing something of the essence of this band. There is an energy and excitement about it. Brilliant. I can see this being a favourite album of mine for some time to come. Quite unexpected, but very much welcomed.

When is their next album coming out?

Review score: 98%

Video

Official video for ‘Reconcile’.

Official video for ‘Borderlines’.