Sep 072011

(Stop rolling your eyes! I know what you’re thinking: Kittie on NO CLEAN SINGING?!? But hold your horses and read Andy Synn’s review. You will be pleasantly surprised.)

Straight off I’ll say this – this is the best Kittie album to date. And I say that as a huge fan of both Oracles and Funeral For Yesterday in particular. However, I think that identifies the crux of Kittie’s occasional problems – the former is clearly the band’s heaviest record, while the latter is clearly their most darkly melodic, and the band have spent the rest of their time trying to marry the two together with varying results, the intervening and subsequent albums pulled in several directions at once by these competing pressures.

Like many of you (and indeed the band themselves at times), I would much rather ignore the existence of the execrable Spit, as the band really only developed into a proper musical entity with the release of the utterly devastating Oracles, whose self-loathing, Obituary-esque stomp and grind was lightened solely by  occasional injections of emotionally fraught, PJ Harvey-channelling clean vocals.

Since then, building from a core of steady, grinding riffs, harsh blackened screams and chilling, ethereal clean vocals, the band (primarily the Lander sisters) have slowly attempted to expand their sound, giving it more energy and life with a steady influx of snappier riffs (“Until The End”), expressive and expansive structuring (“Funeral For Yesterday”) and nuanced leads (“Into The Black”) which, when added to the unflinchingly precise drumming of Mercedes Lander, all mix to create a rich melting pot of ideas from which to draw. (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Apr 292011

(I swear this was a coincidence. I wrote a post that went up earlier today on metal covers based on a single by Anachronaeon we received yesterday, and then our UK contributor Andy Synn delivered this special edition of THE SYNN REPORT about . . . covers. This is the kind of occurrence that sends me back to the dictionary once again to figure out the difference between synchronicity and serenditpity. Or maybe it’s both.)

Covers are a strange breed of song – they’re the equivalent of a parallel universe, an alternate history, a What If? Comic, an adaptation of your favourite book starring an unexpected actor, a Shakespeare play set in an average American high school…

Seriously though, they have a huge amount of potential, both to be intriguingly inventive and woefully horrendous. Their success (or lack thereof) depends on many factors, but mainly on the song-choice itself – is it a natural fit for the band? Do they have the intelligence to re-work it in a distinctive manner? Or is it simply enough to tear through it in their own inimitable style, making few changes, but relying on sheer power to see them through?

I have chosen 15 artists who have produced some of my own personal favourite covers, showcasing a variety of approaches, some fully traditional takes on the original, others totally reworked variations. If there’s one thing that these covers show however, it is the subtle threads that inter-link all different sub-genres of rock and metal, which allow bands to re-work them organically. (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »