Saturday, October 12, 2013


After a four year absence Hero has returned with a follow up to 2009’s Immortal. One must wonder why it takes so long for some artists to release new music, especially in this age of keeping in the public eye or descending into oblivion. One need not worry as this delay has not altered the Hero sound or presentation one bit.

Afterlife is full of dark gothic melodic metal that is sure to please old fans and make many new ones as well. The music is extremely catchy with plenty of hooks and memorable melodies. If anything Afterlife picks right up where Immortal left off. Michael Hero’s baritone vocal is right there and delivers a strong performance. The guitars are right up front and crunch right along.

Opening with Now Tears are Falling right through Beautiful to the albums tour de force The Dark one thing is for sure, Hero can still put it together and deliver powerful music. This swirling cacophony of gothic metal is going to remain a top player on your music device for a long time to come.

Lyrically Hero delves into areas of the dark places in this world. How we handle the pain of this existence and what comes from it. Who is this person we find within us when we look the mirror and is there an answer to it. The albums center piece The Dark is a declaration of rejection aimed at the Prince of the Power of the Air, wrapped in a delightfully minor key aria.

The sound seems more defined this out on the production side and less boomy. The kick drum is more defined. Afterlife has plenty of atmospherics and dynamics which seem to shine a bit more this time around.

Afterlife is solid metal offering which offers more than a heavy metal experience. This release brings words of life and encouragement to a troubled and shackled world desperate for release. Fans of HIM and other assorted gothic metal acts should find plenty to cheer about here.

8 axes.
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DANIEL AMOS - ALARMA! Deluxe Version Born Twice Records

Music is a funny thing. 

At a certain point in time an artist that doesn’t resonate with you can, many years later, weave itself into your psyche. When this happens you start to wonder why it never did before. After all the music didn’t change but quite obviously something did, oh yeah that would be me! It always amazes me when that happens and it allows me to start to enjoy an entire new catalog of music.

Daniel Amos is one of those artists that never quite endeared itself to me back during their apex. Yes many of you who know my preferences for screaming loud heavy metal will point at that and say, “Well obviously duh!!” I’m not so sure that is the root of the issue. Unknown too many of you I was an avid fan of Steve Taylor and Undercover, following them from their first and second releases onward.

Not the same you say? Possibly but listening to Alarma! These many years removed have left me scratching my head as why I missed riding the wave.

I could sit here and spin accolades about how much genius Terry Taylor and company display as I listen and read the lyrics and accompanying booklet enclosed.  However if you’re a fan of Daniel Amos you’re already aware and wondering what took me so long all I can say is it’s never too late. Even then Taylor was speaking out against the plastic popular society and Christian culture, that despite claims to the contrary, was and has embraced philosophies and methodologies from said society.

The last track on the originally released album Ghost of the Heart asks the most poignant question;

“Way back in my heart, is the motive for this
I ask the question, did I do this for self?
I need the light on, the monster of vanity gets
Frightened by the Ghost of the heart”

What more can be said?

Musically how would you describe to a newbie what DA sounds like on this release?  The Beatles meets The Cars, Devo, Beach Boys with a touch of Tom Petty and throw it in a blender??? Yet on the other side is something rather unique and altogether engaging. 

This double disc release from Born Twice Records is the full monte as it were. It is a complete tour de force that has brought me into the DA fold with arms open wide and sniffing around for more. When a release forces me to (not really forces but you get my meaning) to the artist website to ingest a back story that I missed. It even reminded me of two Daniel Amos concerts in the San Francisco Bay Area that I missed to my chagrin.

Disc one is the complete Alarma! album remastered by J Powell at Steinhaus. The genius behind the frequencies gets this album sounding pristine and well defined.

Disc two however is a complete gem as it contains 21 tracks of previously unreleased demos, outtakes, several alternate mixes and a reading of the Alarma! story by Malcolm Wild (at least the prologue and part of the first chapter). The preproduction demos are a cool insight into the whole recording process. These types of demos are usually put together so the artist can share with the label the elements of the songs to be put on the album.

There is also a three song mainstream demo which features the tracks Little Things, Off My Mind and As Long as I Live.  The first two songs definitely fall into the Tom Petty category while As Long as I Live is pure surfer rock.

If this is your first exposure to Daniel Amos you can plunge in head first and enjoy the ride. But if you’re a long time fan you’ll want to add this release for the second disc if not for the completist in you. Daniel Amos were ground breakers in their hey day and with a brand new album out now, add this gem from their past to your Christian Music Library. A classic…

(axe designation withheld because it falls outside the normal metal music reviewed.... kinda hard to compare apples and oranges..)