Rising

SKU: MAGCD032
Label:
Magnum Music
Category:
Power Metal
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"Three years after Ai, Taiwanese symphonic power metal band Seraphim is back in strength with the well-titled Chinese language record Rising, which was also released with English lyrics to the international market one year later. A lot of things have changed between the third and the fourth (and up to now, last) records from the band. Guitarist Lucas Huang, drummer Simon Lin, bassist Jax Yeh and even singer Pay Lee left the band for numerous reasons. Band leader Kessier Hsu was responsible for guitar and bass duties on this release. The new singer Quinn Weng had joined the band back in 2004, and new drummer Van Shaw completed the trio in 2005. Bassist Mars Liu only joined the band shortly after the recordings in 2007, while second guitarist Thiago Trinsi from Brazil came to the band in 2010.

Despite all these changes, the fourth record is typically Seraphim, with all the trademarks that distinguished the first three records, and only a few minor differences. The clean male vocals and death growls are less present on this release, and the music focuses on the vocal duties of new singer Quinn Weng. She had quite a difficult task in replacing the unique and powerful voice of Pay Lee, but does a very solid job. Her vocals are very grounded, but nevertheless variable. They are less operatic and spiritual than those of her predecessor, but I think she appeals to a wider audience, as her vocals rock more and fit more neatly into the power metal genre. This being said, the new record has less symphonic elements and focuses on more power metal sounds. The songs have become faster and heavier than ever before, and the drumming in particular is a killer on this release. Just listen to an energizing song like “Spring Wind” and you will understand what I mean. The music makes me think of the Liechtenstein gothic metal outfit Elis or Germany’s Xandria at times.

The softer tracks are much less prominent on this album, but once they finally appear they are very strong. “No More” is a dreamy and transcending rock ballad with some commercial potential (and I mean this in the most positive way). The track has an amazing guitar solo, but it’s the calm parts that make me think of a symphonic new age epic. Let me add that Quinn Weng gives her best performance of the record on this track, truly equaling Peggy Lee. She sounds almost as heavenly as her predecessor did, but adds her very own touch upon this track that sends shivers down my spine. This song is definitely one of two highlights of this release, and also one of the strongest tracks in the band’s entire discography, as far as I’m concerned.

My personal highlight of the record is nevertheless an epic symphonic piece that goes back to the style of the previous records and takes it to a new level of greatness. The stunning title track “Rising” is easily among the best of Seraphim’s catalog. In almost ten minutes, the song never gets boring, and features very elaborate song writing with catchy parts and diversified changes, as well as folky passages and heavier instrumental parts with tight riffs. This track is a firework of diversity and an absolute must-hear anthem for fans of gothic, power, and symphonic metal alike.

In the end, this record is generally much heavier and obviously power metal-oriented than previous releases. Gone are most of the heavenly symphonic elements, but Rising is a lot faster and really rocks. Despite this new direction, old and new fans alike should be kept happy, and funnily enough, the two most outstanding songs are the ballad and the self-titled epic. The new line-up sounds fresh and promising, and I still hope for a new fifth release that might arrive in coming years. The band members are now living all around the world in Canada, Iceland, and Taiwan, but they are bound to meet again this year, and will hopefully work on new compositions. I will certainly keep in touch with Seraphim, and suggest that you do so as well, as well as (re)discover their back catalog while we wait for new things to come!" - Black Wind Metal

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The exception to that rule of flow is the 17-minute closer, “Huygens,” which comes on following silence at the end of the penultimate “Loch Ness,” but even that seems to have been a conscious decision on the part of the band — Evers on drums, Selwyn Slop on bass, Thomas van den Reydt on guitar, Peter van der Meer on keys and Tjerk Stoop credited with “synthesis and processing” in the album’s liner, which I assume means laptop — and certainly “Huygens” doesn’t detract from the overall liquidity of Monomyth for its slow fade in from the aforementioned silence, only adding to it a grand payoff patiently built toward that justifies the song’s position as the finale without losing sight of the progressive vibe. One could spend a lifetime immersed in the heavy prog spectrum of the early and mid ’70s, and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that one or more of the members of Monomyth has, but in truly progressive form, the production here is modern-sounding to its very core. Modern-sounding, but not over-produced, it’s worth pointing out, and Monomyth walk just as careful a line in their presentation of their self-titled as they do in the intricate sense of composition and technicality that rests at the core of “Vanderwaalskrachten” (11:26), “Vile Vortices” (8:28), “The Groom Lake Engine” (10:06), “Loch Ness” (10:24) and “Huygens” (17:04) — all the titles coming together to blend into a theme of something unknown, scientific and otherworldly.Whichever came first, those titles or the songs themselves, the pieces are clearly meant to be taken in a complete listen with how each feeds into the one following. Still, there doesn’t seem to be a narrative at work across them, or at least not in the sense of “Jack runs here, Jack goes there.” “Vanderwaalskrachten” begins with sparse guitar and synth hum, setting up a swirl and lushness of sound that will prove almost constant but for a few purposeful moments of minimalism. Setting a patient tone, the drums kick in around two minutes in with the bass and the dynamic at the core of Monomyth‘s Monomyth is established; the rhythm section holds pieces together so that the guitar, keys and other elements are free to explore, which they do, again, not without a pervasive sense of purpose. The initial impression is similar in its smoothness and moody underpinnings to Germany’s My Sleeping Karma, but as “Vanderwaalskrachten” — named for the attractions between molecules and intermolecular forces — hits a pre-midpoint peak of heavy guitar riffing later to reemerge as a kind of instrumental chorus, it’s that much clearer that the band haven’t yet played their entire hand. A solo follows topping space rock pulsations and carries into a quiet bridge marked out by some funky organ work, only to find that chorus return again late in the track, giving all the more an impression of structure. Actually, “Vanderwaalskrachten” winds up rather traditional at its heart, just presented in a much different form than a phrase like “verse/chorus structure” might conjure in the mind of the listener. Likewise careful not to get underway too quickly, “Vile Vortices” — aka the Devil’s Graveyards; the Bermuda Triangle, Indus Valley, Algerian Megaliths, et. al. — unfolds to Floydian leads punctuated by xylophone-sounding percussion given flourish by jazzy keys before bass and organ introduce the crux of the build, Evers holding steady on drums behind. Those leads return, but structurally, “Vile Vortices” is different from its predecessor, more linear, and after five minutes in, it breaks to introduce a heavier riff that acts as the foundation for the build over the remainder of the track, which rounds out with a drone leading right into “The Groom Lake Engine,” the  centerpiece of Monomyth.To expect an immediate rush from “The Groom Lake Engine” would be ignoring the overarching flow from the first two tracks. The song unfolds from the drone that becomes its intro to airy guitars, periodic stretches of heavier progressions and synth filling out the spaces between. Groom Lake, Nevada, being the location of Area 51, the track remains consistent with the mysterious, potentially alien elements at work from earlier cuts, and true to “Vile Vortices” before it, with about three minutes left, the guitar introduces a heavier riff — following a few measures of surprisingly bluesy wah — that will march the song out, though in a blend, a chugging refrain from the first few minutes returns at the end. No matter how far out they may have gone, Monomyth haven’t forgotten their basic methodology. A telling moment hits prior to the halfway mark of “The Groom Lake Engine” and gives a glimpse at the dynamic that seems to be at the root of the band’s approach; Slop and Evers sticking to repetitions of a central figure while van den Reydt adds flourish around it, soon joined by the keys and other elements. For a moment, it’s easy to see where the songs actually come from. Feedback after the ending crescendo fades to a quiet opening for “Loch Ness,” which is Monomyth‘s most mainstream reference and their most effective linear build, starting serene and psychedelic at first and moving slowly towards the six-minute mark, at which a turn brings about darkly progressive riffs — sustained organ notes add a sense of classic horror cinema — and further, heavier build. They are still well in control, however far they delve into that movement, and the transition to “Huygens” afterwards is no less easy to make for the small break between the tracks. Curious synth winds around exploratory guitar lines as bass and drums — as ever — keep steady, and soon start-stop bass and guitar emerge to set the tone for the song’s first half, contrasted a bit by a heavier “chorus” but never too far away from whence it comes.Named for the probe that was the first to land in the outer region of the solar system — it went to Saturn’s moon Titan, presumably to look for sirens — “Huygens,” also the name of the Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens who first studied Saturn’s rings, splits at about halfway in. This is all the more fitting conceptually, since the Huygens probe was launched with Cassini, which went on to take the farthest-from-Earth photograph that’s ever been taken, shot from Saturn’s orbit. Whether or not that split had anything to do with the music of “Huygens,” I don’t know, but it would be easy to conceive of the descending guitar lines at the song’s midpoint as entry to an atmosphere. That descending figure remains layered in beneath the ensuing build and payoff, which, gorgeously melodic and pushed seemingly ever forward, leaves nothing to be desired in terms of providing an apex for Monomyth as a whole. The band finished surprisingly noisy over the course of their last minute-plus — could that be the signal from Huygens breaking up? — but when they bring “Huygens” down to radio silence, the effect is striking and shows one last time that whatever Monomyth might be pushing toward aesthetically with any given part, they remain aware of their surroundings at all times. If I thought this was as far as they could or wanted to go creatively, I’d call it mastery, but it seems that with their debut, Monomyth are beginning a journey rather than ending one. They’ve made it from a molecular level to the rings of Saturn and offered no lack of mystery between, all the while managing to offset prog’s usual staid technicality with a stridently human consciousness, resulting in a first outing as engaging as it is accomplished." - The Obelisk
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  • Deluxe digipak set from this amazing trio of Guthrie Govan, Marco Minnemann, and Bryan Beller.  It was filmed at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro, CA in June 2012.  The material is drawn from the Aristocrats studio album as well as the back catalog of the individual members.  Pro-shot DVD features a 5.1 surround mix courtesy of Steven Wilson.  The 2CDs feature the soundtrack to the set.  Oh yeah - the DVD is packed with live bonus material. 
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  • The madcap French jazz metal trio return with their sixth album.  Morglbl consists of guitarist Christope Godin, bassist Ivan Rougny, and drummer  Aurelian Ouzoulias.  The band has toured extensively around the world – USA, Europe, Russia and even China!  They have shared the stage with Liquid Tension Experiment, Bumblefoot, and Umphrey’s McGee among others.These three virtuosos are also well endorsed clinicians and have developed a following individually but when they come together the fireworks really start.  Tea Time For Punks doesn’t deviate from the tried and true Morglbl formula.  Take equal parts fusion and crushing metal power chords, then inject a healthy dose of tongue in cheek humor and you’ve got the perfect Morglbl album. The band is often described as Primus meets Steve Vai and Allan Holdsworth, with flavors of Frank Zappa! 
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