Justify

SKU: UNCR-5089
Label:
Unicorn Digital
Category:
Progressive Rock
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Its been quite some time since we've heard from Guy LeBlance and Nathan Mahl.  He's been busy touring with Camel and now having to deal with some serious health related issues.

Justify finds Nathan Mahl with a reconstituted lineup.  Guy displays his prodigious keyboard abilities once again but this time he's also playing drums.  The new lineup features a twin guitar attack and bass.  For a keyboard player he sure as hell gives a lot of room for the two guitarists to stretch out and shred.  The album is split about 50/50 between instrumental and vocal oriented tracks.  You can tell his time in Camel has rubbed off on him - just check out the albums finale "Infinite Light".  It features a guest appearance on guitar and keys from none other than Andy Latimer!  Highly recommended.

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  • The late Michael Hedges was one of the great visionary guitarists of our lifetimes. He used tapping techniques on acoustic guitar to create a wall of sound. He was influenced by John Fahey and Leo Kottke and made us all rethink what can possibly be done with an acoustic guitar.  Introspective but addictive.  If you have any interest in guitar you need to hear this album.
    $8.00
  • Next to last album finds the band with a new lineup and a more commercial direction. Still some good stuff here.
    $18.00
  • "It takes a certain talent for bands to satisfy both diehard fans and those seeking something different. In 2008, Stratovarius underwent a transformation after the critically destroyed self-titled release from 2005 and the subsequent "Revolution Renaissance" demo. Then there was the departure of founder/guitarist Timo Tolkki and the series of bizarre events that followed, including the infamous internet letter relinquishing the band and its back catalog to singer Timo Kotipelto, keyboardist Jens Johansson, then bassist Jari Kainulainen, and then drummer Jorg Michael.From the point the band finally regrouped, it sought to quickly reinstate past glory with a vengeance, releasing “Polaris” followed by the stunning “Elysium,” which would prove tough to beat. However, "Nemesis" is a "black diamond" of pristine perfection in every way and the band's best effort since 1997's “Visions."When the new release was announced, the band commented about being more mature in the song writing and the tracks having a “darker and more modern" edge. The guitar sound is noticeably crunchier and the album scores a complete victory in the song writing. To the non-symphonic metal fan, my incessant glorification of the genre may result in the combination of eye rolling and the nondescript "whaa-whaa" of any adult in a Peanuts cartoon. To Stratovarius fans, “Nemesis” is a collection of the band's greatest hits that you never heard until now. The soaring and emotionally charged choruses are more fetching than ever and the guitar work has more hooks than Kim Kardashian’s closets. You have to admire guitarist Matias Kupiainen, who has stepped in, stepped up, and has outshined Timo Tolkki in every aspect (no disrespect to Timo). At the time of “Polaris,” I had no worries about how vocal great Kotipelto or key legend Johansson would fare, but Matias came in and elevated their play to a levels unheard especially with “Nemesis.”The most noticeable difference on this album is Johansson’s brilliant and refreshing key work. The album is filled with keyboard pops and over the top bombastic finger play shown in “One Must Fall,” “Fantasy,” and especially “Halcyon Days.” Many fans have been lulled into the prototypical Stratovarius sound from Johansson over many years, and now he has raised the bar. There is a jolt of excitement to every song, sort of an amalgamation of Olof Morck’s work in Amaranthe and a splash of “Rage for Order” era Queensryche. This shouldn’t scare away any longtime fans of the group, it’s the most upbeat and exciting that I have ever heard the band.Tracks that rise above include the speedy opener “Abandon,” which sets the perfect tone for the entire album, “Unbreakable,” the perfect choice for a first single,” and the three tracks with the most glorious choruses in Stratovarius’ illustrious history: “Out of the Fog,” “Castles In the Air,” and personal favorite “Stand My Ground.” However, these tracks do not overshadow any of the others; there simply is no filler, no boredom, and no mistakes.With effortless delivery, “Nemesis” is markedly superior to “Elysium” and makes the great “Polaris” look like a demo. Stratovarius has stormed out to an early and big lead in the race to the best of the year, one that on paper appears to be filled with so many potential winners. There is little doubt that an album that instantly ranks among this Finnish band’s all-time best should be able to withstand much of the competition.Highs: Simply put, one of the finest releases in the band's history.Lows: Really none, but it may not appeal to non-symphonic metal fans.Bottom line: Stratovarius takes back the throne by evoking the divine goddess of retribution." - Metal Underground
    $11.00
  • "Alice Cooper hadn't had a hugely successful album in over a decade when, in 1989, he teamed up with Bon Jovi producer Desmond Child for Trash -- a highly slick and commercial yet edgy pop-metal effort that temporarily restored him to the charts in a big way. Fueled by the irresistible hit single "Poison," the album temporarily gave back to Cooper the type of visibility he deserved. There's nothing shocking here, and Cooper's ability to generate controversy had long since faded. But while the escapist Trash -- which was clearly aimed at the Mötley Crüe/Guns N' Roses crowd -- may not be the most challenging album of Cooper's career, and isn't in a class with School's Out or Billion Dollar Babies, it's fun and quite enjoyable. And it was great to see the long-neglected Cooper on MTV next to so many of the '80s rockers he had influenced." - Allmusic
    $5.00
  • "If La-Ventura hadn’t named their second full-length album White Crow, the word "testament" would have been a fitting alternative. That’s because it’s been almost 5 years since the Dutch melodic metal quartet released their critically acclaimed debut album A New Beginning. Sure, they released an EP between then and now, but La-Ventura have kept a low profile while working on their new material. Their online presence all but vanished – usually a fatal sign in this age of constant updates via Facebook and social media – and many international fans, including myself, wondered whether the band had split up. Thus, the fact that La-Ventura are still around is welcome news. And hearing the pulse of their music again on White Crow is like visiting an old friend who’s changed a bit since you two last met.What do I mean by "changed"? Well, White Crow presents a major shift in La-Ventura’s music. Instead of continuing the moody, gothic-like atmospheres of A New Beginning, the band focuses on guitars and vocals. (This may be because La-Ventura never replaced keyboardist Marco van Boven after he left the band.) So, on White Crow we hear more of Sasha Kondic’s nu-metal-esque riffs and the rhythm section’s throbbing and grooving, while keyboards highlight only certain moments on a few tracks. The production and mix quality have improved dramatically since A New Beginning, perhaps because La-Ventura opted not to self-produce the new record. This time, they worked with producer Didier Chesneau (Headline, Asylum Pyre) and mastering engineering Bruno Gruel (Septic Flesh, Asylum Pyre). The result is a sharper, thicker sound that augments the guitarwork and pushes the keyboards further into the background. Most of the melody on White Crow, therefore, comes from singer Carla (Douw) van Huizen. She thrives on the band’s intensity, and her mature voice and melancholy tones suit the new sound just as well as they fit La-Ventura’s earlier style.La-Ventura’s evolution is apparent as soon as White Crow begins. Kick-off track "Falling Down" is easily one of the band’s grittiest songs to date, with Kondic’s riff-ripping and new drummer Renzo van Poecke stabbing at the slow tempo. Van Huizen’s powerful chorus and the closing sonic eruption turn this track into an instant La-Ventura classic. "Human Vanity" takes a similar path but is more uptempo and contains one of the album’s best sing-along refrains ("You and I, we need / Something that’s compatible / Something that’s real"). La-Ventura, however, save their most searing arrangements and starkest contrasts for "Song For An Idiot." All of the band’s elements converge to portray the anger, frustration, and despair in van Huizen’s lyrics. "Time and Time Again," "Neverending Story," and "The Only One" also show how La-Ventura’s music has ripened.A few tracks on White Crow hearken back to the days of A New Beginning. The title track begins with a delicate piano / synthesizer intro before the full band comes crashing in. "Drowning," on the other hand, uses keyboards throughout as well as off-beat drumming and a cascading, mystical synth line. Van Huizen uses the full breadth of her range here, enhancing the lyrics’ anguish. The one song on White Crow that brings together the old and new of La-Ventura is "Close To You." The main guitar hook has a loose, alternative metal feel, and synths peek their way through on the verses and final bridge. Then the song ends with van Huizen crying out over bursting guitars and a shrieking last-second solo – a bold move La-Ventura didn’t dare to take on A New Beginning.For the most part, La-Ventura have taken the right steps forward on White Crow. Listen to both of their albums back to back and you’ll notice the difference, especially in the quality of the sound mix. The keyboards and treble dominated on A New Beginning and oversaturated the music, whereas White Crow’s concentration on metal and melody feels more natural and gives the listener a better idea of how La-Ventura may sound live. In the end, though, I still prefer A New Beginning over White Crow. Tracks like "Trefoil," "Only Love Will Find Its Way," and "Memoria" from the former album aren’t just well-written and memorable. They also drip with emotion and earnestness that the listener can feel. That extra touch is often what separates a great song from a good song. And unfortunately, the strongest tracks on White Crow don’t breach that difference, despite how catchy or tight they may be.Still, White Crow is a solid release and one that La-Ventura fans should be pleased with. It retains enough of the familiar melodic focus from A New Beginning, particularly van Huizen’s ardent vocals, while adding more musical crunch and distortion. And although White Crow may not move listeners the way that A New Beginning did, the passion we originally heard from La-Ventura still runs through the music’s veins. Of course, the passion has manifested itself in a different manner this time. But that quality is essential is making good music in any genre. And with White Crow, one of The Netherlands’ most promising female-fronted bands gives us another full-bodied dose of it." - Sonic Cathedral
    $17.00
  • Limited release in a mini-LP from the "Deep Jazz Reality" reissue series.  This may in fact now be out of print as we didn't get a complete fill from our order.This is a hell of an obsure release from 1970 from Japanese shino flautist Suiha Tosha and a hell of a rarity.  The first side is all cover tunes but the album features a side long suite titled "Concerto For Shino Flute & Rock Band" written by organist Norio Maeda.  Included in the lineup is Kimio Mizutani on electric guitar, Takeshi Inomata on drums and Shunzo Ohno on trumpet - all of these musicians are stellar.  This is a full electric set featuring a large scale ensemble.  The music skirts the line between jazz and rock.  I'm sure jazz purists would be apalled by Mizutani's distorted guitar leads and rock guys will wince at the use of reeds.  Enough electric piano and Hammond organ to confuse everyone. This one is a real monster.  Highly recommended."Wonderfully tripped-out sounds from the Japanese scene at the start of the 70s – a mix of older folkloric elements and more electric fusion modes – coming together in a really unique sound! There's lots of flute at the front of the tracks – played with an airy, spacious quality that has it drifting nicely over the fuller rhythms at the back – a heady brew of electric bass and guitar, tight drums, and more – all swelling together to make the whole set groove! Yet it's the airiness of the flute that really makes things unique – quite different than some of the funky flute modes from the US or UK scene of the late 60s – with an ethereal charm that's almost timeless. Titles include the side-long "Concerto For Shino Flute & Rock Band" – plus "Across The Universe", "Teach Your Children", and "Celtic Rock"." 
    $30.00
  • This is the release that kicked it off for the Finnish band.  A thirty-five minute release that seamlessly marries Scandinavian folk music with Ozric Tentacles influence space rock."This amazing space rock band from Finland has captured the attention of fans of the genre around the world, and even those who usually aren't that interested in it. Who would have thought the next band in the line of Gong and Ozric Tentacles would come from Finland? Well, why not?Purely instrumental excursions into psychedelic spaces, propelled by Tim Blake-like droning and burbling synths, Hillage-like guitar glisandos and arpeggios, pulsating bass lines, phasing sitars, and precise drumming with some occasional Ian Anderson-ish (vocalizing and blowing simultaneously) flute work to spice things up. They're like Gong without jazzy influences or vocals, and like the Ozrics without techno influences. Just pure, hypnotic, unadulterated space rock to float past the rings of Saturn with ... my favorite kind of prog." - New Gibraltar Encyclopedia Of Progressive Rock
    $13.00
  • I have to plead ignorance.  Until recently I never heard of Innes Sibun.  Turns out the guy is a world famous British electric blues guitarist.  Back in 1993 he was a member of Robert Plant's touring band and has a signficant solo career.  Can't Slow Down was recorded with his quartet live at the Estro in Harderwijk, Netherlands on March 12, 2011.  This disc burns beginning to end.  If you are a fan of Rory Gallagher or Roy Buchanan and even guitarists along the lines of Hendrix and Trower you need to hear this guy.  Serious wah wah laced guitar driven excursions with backing of keys and a solid rhythm section.  A scorcher!!  Highly recommended.
    $14.00
  • This is a 2DVD set culled from Pete York's German TV specials focusing on great drummers. These shows were broadcast in 1987-1989. Featured performers include Bill Bruford, Simon Philips, Bill Cobham, Louie Bellson, Dave Mattacks, Jon Hiseman, and many many more. The backing bands are quite phenomenal - Brian Auger, Wolfgang Schmidt, Peter Woelpl, Miller Anderson, Colin Hodgkinson, Eddie Hardin, Jon Lord (!), and others.
    $18.00
  • Riverside's latest takes a bit of a swerve from their traditional sound.  Parts of the album bears the imprint of Mariusz Duda's solo work - its more laid back, more refined.  Other aspects of the album carry on with the sound that Riverside has developed over recent albums - chunky organ, trippy keyboard soloing and interstellar guitarwork.  This one is a grower.  At first listen it might not hit you but the more you scrape away at it the more you realize its dug deeper under your skin."For the past decade or so, Polish progressive rock/metal quartet Riverside set itself apart from their stylstiic brethren by offering distinguishing tones, mesmerizing atmospheres, and most importantly, remarkable songwriting. Sure, the band also infuses much of its music with the intricacy genre enthusiasts expect, but their melancholic, yet beautiful and earnest melodies and lyrics (credited mostly to singer/songwriter/bassist Mariusz Duda) have always come first. Perhaps nowhere in its discography is this more apparent than on their newest opus, Love, Fear and the Time Machine.Although it features a few complex arrangements, the record is by far Riverside’s most straightforward and accessible collection to date, showcasing a proclivity for upfront compositions like never before. While this may disappoint fans who adore the group’s more tangential, frantic instrumentation, rest assured that the album’s stunning emotionality and breathtaking arrangements more than make up for it. Without a doubt, Love, Fear and the Time Machine features some of the most gorgeous, tragic, and ultimately inspiring pieces Riverside have ever recorded, making it another exceptional entry in an invaluable catalog.According to Duda, the effort is a return to the softer, more ambient nature of Riverside’s debut, 2004’s Out of Myself. In fact, the foursome intentionally composed it “to combine the ‘70s and the ‘80s…[the songs] have never been so concise and to the point before.” Because of this new approach, the disc actually evokes Duda’s other project, Lunatic Soul, in subtle but substantial ways at times. Like almost all of Riverside’s previous works, Love, Fear and the Time Machine is also a conceptual record; specifically, it “talk[s] about transformation. About making an important, perhaps life-changing decision everyone has to make at some point in their lives…on the one hand, we’re excited by the change…[but] on the other, we fear the unknown.” Ultimately, the lesson to be learned from it is that “if we sometimes get lost in life, it is to go through something and be found again on the other side, to be reborn as someone better and more valuable.”Fittingly, then, the sequence starts with “Lost (Why Should I Be Frightened by a Hat?)”, which is arguably its best track. Duda begins by reciting a philosophical recollection over a delicate ether of keyboards and bass and guitar notes. Afterward, he launches into a catchy and charming chorus: “Come follow me / We’ll go down / Where the river flows / One day / Just you and I will find a bridge / To another land”. Duda layers his voices too, making it even more gripping, and in-between his passages, guitarist Piotr Grudziński issues his signature soaring accompaniment as the composition evolves. Drummer Piotr Kozieradzki keeps things steady throughout, while keyboardist Michał Łapaj gets the spotlight during the final seconds. Ultimately, “Lost” exemplifies the magnificent succinctness that makes Love, Fear and the Time Machine distinctive in the Riverside canon.Later on, “#Addicted” truly feels like a progressive rock take on the Cure in several ways, such as its dominant bass lines, starry guitar lines, and wistful singing which finds Duda channeling a silky falsetto he’s never really attempted before. There’s also a brief acoustic guitar arpeggio at the end that’s very enjoyable. Lyrically, it serves as a commentary on how social media can transform people into egocentric users who base their self-worth on their digital populiarty. In this way, both its lyrics and music find Riverside stretching slightly beyond its comfort zone, but the result is undeniably, well, addictive.“Caterpillar and the Barbed Wire” feels more traditional, with Duda’s sorrowful confessions and counterpoints perfectly complemented by sharp guitar riffs, aching solos, enveloping percussion, and a moving layer of synthesized splendor. Honestly, it’s like a heartbreaking and somewhat more colorful missing track from Shine of New Generation Slaves, whereas “Saturate Me” contains the sleek yet eccentric tones and virtuosic yet blunt balance that made up the best moments on Rapid Eye Movement. Of course, its sad ponderings, such as “Am I Invisible? / Or alive? / I don’t want to feel like I’m no one anymore”, are archetypal Riverside sentiments, and the interlocking musical patterns (especially near the end) are equally touching.The most commercial segment on Love, Fear and the Time Machine is surely “Discard Your Fear”; however, despite that typically negative connotation, the song’s approachability doesn’t get in the way of its worth. Rather, it’s uplifting message and relatively simple and familiar construction could earn Riverside an entirely new camp of fans. It’s actually quite cathartic, as is the dreamy and tasteful “Toward the Blue Horizon”, which begins and ends as a luscious ode (with lovely piano chords) while transforming into a progressive metal workout in the middle.Both of the record’s final two pieces—“Time Travellers” and “Found (The Unexpected Flaw of Searching)”—are wonderful. The former is an exquisite acoustic ballad about past possibilities and the unforeseen future. Its winding melodies and spaciousness are the standout features, as the rest of the band lets Duda’s voice lead the way, resulting in a simple but commanding experience. In contrast, the latter is more elaborate, impactful, and conclusive, with a strong sense of closure and acceptance, as the speaker realizes the importance of his or her experiences, uncertainties, and decisions. The music builds with great pacing, adding more beautiful layers as the chorus (“It’s a lovely life / You have gone so far / Don’t give it up / Oh, it’s a lovely life / Gotta go with what you think is right”) repeats with sleek harmonies. By the end, listeners are left in awe, reevaluating their own sense of purpose and optimism.Love, Fear and the Time Machine is likely the most polarizing record Riverside has made, as it could be considered both the band’s strongest and weakest full-length effort. Fans hoping for virtuosic jams and unexpected sounds won’t really find them here, while fans looking for more of Riverside’s token elegant instrumentation, affective melodies, and poetic, rich singing will be satisfied beyond measure. Either way, Love, Fear and the Time Machine definitely finds its creators reaching for new, if marginally different, heights, which is commendable in and of itself. Roughly ten years on, Riverside remains as special as ever, and Love, Fear and the Time Machine is, in several ways, its truest work of art." - Pop Matters
    $12.00
  • Remastered limited edition of the third album from this British neoprog band. Comes with two bonus track cut in 2010.
    $16.00
  • Jabs is settling in and it feels pretty good.  This one doesn't quite hit the heights of Lovedrive but all in all not a bad hard rock album.
    $5.00
  • "See here, they have managed to get a deal. MOURNING CARESS, Germany's finest Melodic Deathers! A Spanish label, Arise Records, won the competition, not a bad thing, because they have a good distribution, so Arise-releases are available everywhere.What has changed compared to the mini "Perspectives"? Basically nothing, apart from the even better sound and longer playing time. The highlights of the mini, "A Lifeless Time" and "Hope Dies At Last", can be found here, too, sounding fatter, but apart from that untouched, which is good! What makes MOURNING CARESS differ from the rest of the countless Melodic Death-acts? Not that they play a totally new variant of this style, they just write good songs and have a feeling for gripping melodies without losing control over the song. I even can detect a certain Rock'n'Roll-touch. The super-fat production by Andy Classen (mastered in Finnish Finnvox) crowns the whole thing. Doesn't sound too spectacular, it isn't anyway. The songs often are further enhanced by some acoustic interludes. Mid-paced numbers are in the majority, but the folks also have a few faster tracks in the repertoire. Good Melodic Death doesn't need to come from Sweden. Unfortunately we have a real flood of musically comparable products."Imbalance" for sure is among the better releases. Also remarkable is the quite original voice of singer Gerrit, with a slight Hardcore-touch, which is very characteristic. So, if you see this, arrest it! " - Metal Observer
    $2.00