Jeff Pennachio – Setting The Stage EP

Setting The Stage EP Cover Art

Jeff Pennachio – Setting The Stage EP
Self-Released
Release Date: 22/01/2021
Running Time: 13:32
Review by Martin Bennewith
9/10

Before listening to this EP, knowing that it was an instrumental rock album, I expected it to be something that would be enjoyed by guitarists and those of us who like action flick film scores (think Top Gun!). As a guitarist, I was looking forward to listening to it, and after taking some time cluing myself up about Jeff Pennachio, I was expecting to have that jaw dropping moment when you hear a great guitarist in action. I was not disappointed.

The first track, ‘Wilson Theater’ sounds like it is trying to tell a sad story. Slow tempo and emotional strings and piano, along with powerful percussion, set the backdrop for the delightful lead phrasing. Although at first the virtuoso composed playing style sometimes detracts from what Pennachio is trying to convey, the way he flows through the first few sections, combining slow melody with scalular runs, adds to the interest and overall feel. There are satisfying time signature changes as well as powerful rhythmic sections to add to the tension. Towards the beginning, there were a couple of parts where I thought my speakers were giving up, but it seems there was some clipping on the guitar track that although probably deliberate, did seem a bit odd. Overall, though, this was a nice introduction for me to a great guitarist.

Next is ‘Interposition’. This brought a smile to my face. In contrast to ‘Wilson Theater’, it has a major, happy feel. The high register piano melody, along with soft strings and once again, powerful rhythm section provides the backdrop to some impressive playing. There are plenty of time signature changes as well as some key changes, and the way he plays through them is breathtaking. In parts he doubles up on the guitar, to either play differing lines or creating harmonies, and they both work well. Once again it does sound a bit mechanical, but this more so demonstrates a high level of musicianship than spoiling the piece.

The final track ‘The Voyager’, for me is saving the best until last. Starting off with some heavy synth stabs and some ambient piano, it breaks out into something heavy and sinister. The muted rhythm guitar and heavy bass and drums, along with the ambient breaks make this one really rock, and once again playing some neat lead over a myriad of time and key changes with little effort. I also detected a lot more feel to his playing compared to the other two tracks. The overall composition and mix works a treat, and builds up to a great ending. A very powerful track to end the proceedings.

“Setting The Stage” is only 3 tracks long, but in these 3 somewhat diverse tracks, Jeff Pennachio demonstrates just what a great instrumentalist and guitarist he is. Knowing that the music was all his own work makes it even more impressive. It is not by any means ground-breaking stuff, and at times it lacks a bit of the ‘rough around the edges’ feel that might help him connect with a wider audience, but this is definitely one for the players and admirers of great lead guitarists. A very biased 9/10.

‘Interposition’ (Official Guitar Play-Through)

TRACKLISTING:
01.Wilson Theater
02.Interposition
03.The Voyager

LINE-UP
Jeff Pennachio – Guitars, Drums, Bass, Orchestrations, Programming

LINKS:

Jeff Pennachio Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Martin Bennewith and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

King Bull – What Happened Here? EP

King Bull – What Happened Here? EP
Riot Records
Release Date: 30/10/2020
Running Time: 18:11
Review by Martin Bennewith
8/10

Sometimes it is nice to sit down and listen to a good bit of rock music – music that has a familiar ring to it and that doesn’t try to be anything out of the ordinary. I kind of get that feeling with King Bull. King Bull are a young Canadian rock band, playing music with a style that is long before their time, and they pull it off well enough. I would describe it as rock with a touch of punk, with a swirling vocal style against dirty guitars and a driving rock beat. ‘What Happened Here?’ is a 5 track EP that demonstrates well what King Bull are about, that is, no nonsense, energetic rock.

The first track ‘Pay Attention’ has a fitting title – it is a short number, with distorted guitar, energetic vocals, and some neat simple fills. It has a positive vibe to it, and is a nice way to start.

The second helping, ‘Secret Sauce’ follows the same formula but is slightly less rough around the edges than the first – and is stretched out with more rhythmic builds and guitar fills. Once again, the vocal work is full of energy, and the stirring vocal style works really well here.

Track three ‘Dontcha Know’ has a different feel to the first two – it is not quite a rock ballad, and the best way to describe it is like a cross between Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and Guns N’ Roses knocking on heaven’s door – so again it is pure rock with uneasy vocals, sometimes fluttering, sometimes screaming, but always true.

Next comes ‘The Defender’ – and this one is very raw – it is probably the most punk sounding track on the EP, it is just raw dirty guitar energy and screaming vocals. The beat is driving and carries the track forward at a nice pace.

We finish with ‘B-side Baby’ – this track has a more serious storytelling feel to it, it has more defined sections, and holds back in parts to emphasise the vocals. There are some nice guitar feels once again and an epic guitar and scream fuelled finish to wrap things up.

Because of the unpretentious and simple nature of this EP there is not too much to say about it, so this was quite an easy review to do  – it is rock music as it should be, and it really speaks for itself. 8/10.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Pay Attention
02. Secret Sauce
03. Dontcha Know
04. The Depender
05. B-Side Baby

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Martin Bennewith and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Liquid Therapy – Breathe

Liquid Therapy – Breathe
Self-Released
Release Date: 12/09/2020
Running Time: 50:04
Review by Martin Bennewith
7/10

“Breathe” is the debut album of Belgian rock band Liquid Therapy. I had not heard any of their music until now, and although this independently produced album does show that they are a band with promise, I couldn’t help noticing that the production lacks some polish. They know how to get a good sound from their guitars, and they seem to have a formula for the vocal style, but it seems a bit rough around the edges, especially the percussion. I am not however going to dwell on this and will concentrate on their music rather than the production. It is after all their first album!

I listened to the whole album from beginning to end the first time to get an idea of their style, and it was quite hard to pin down. I am thinking of a mash up of metal, grunge and nu metal – it will certainly appeal to a broad fanbase, and I would say there is a lot of uniqueness to their style because they clearly have a lot of influences.

The album kicks off with ‘When Love Fools You’ which is quite dark, but with lots of guitar fuelled energy. Bart Costenoble’s vocals cut through well over the overdriven guitar and rhythm section. It is a fair start; however, the track is edging on the bland side and does not really move me so much. There isn’t a great deal of variety and a fair amount of repetition, so for me the track passes quite quickly.

‘Keep On Going’ has an airy feel to it, with more emphasis on melodic arpeggiated guitar lines along with the muted power chords that provide a backdrop to the stirring vocals, which are sung like a story is being told. There is a break where you get some drum action and some lead lines, which allow this track to hold my attention for longer than the first one.

The third track ‘Payback’ returns to the same formula as the first, with the muted overdriven rhythmic guitar filling the space, but with this offering, there is something about the vocal performance that doesn’t work for me. It is almost like the tonal quality suffers as Bart tries to emphasise the energy perhaps a bit too much.

‘Scars’ is actually a good rock song, and at last my head is beginning to shake a bit. I think Bart’s vocals suit the energy of the track – which has some lead riffs that along with the bass and drums create a very nice energy. With the changes of feel during the track this keeps me happy until the end.

We are halfway through the album when ‘Fly Away’ starts off with promise as the grunge metal type guitar intro kicks in, and a very persistent kick drum that carries the track through. It is very up tempo, but the vocal style is more laid back at times compared to the energy of the music. It still possesses raw grainy vocal energy in parts, so overall it does work. The section that breaks from the rhythm guitars, with a laid-back lead against the up-tempo kick towards the end is a nice touch, and overall, this is one of the better songs on the album.

‘Sober’ is dark and airy at the same time – a wall of guitar sound throughout the track, but with good variety of parts. It has a progressive feel, and the vocals take nearly a minute to kick in. There is an interesting bridge section with some melodic guitar and distorted vocals that does add to the piece rather than take away – although I wasn’t blown away by this one, it is structured well enough.

The next track ‘Control’ stands out as rhythmically different, with a triplet feel, and a real serious punch. The vocals work on this one – the combination of anger, strength, energy and vulnerability is all there at the same time, and I can really feel this song. The music travels at the right pace to compliment the subject matter of the lyrics and the vocal performance.

‘I Don’t Care’ is a return to the grunge style – which perhaps is quite fitting given the lyrics and song title. I think it follows the formula of some of the weaker tracks on this album, and the vocal work carries with it a similar imbalance as noted on ‘Payback’. Although it does have a break that features a laid-back lead and some chatter, as well as an odd sounding guitar solo towards the end, but it’s quite repetitive overall.

‘Rat Race’ begins with a lot of tension, and then breaks into an angry rock song, but with lots of kick. The wall of overdriven guitar is complimented with some variety musically and rhythmically, and carries the message across well. I do like the breaks here that create a nice feeling of anticipation. Once again, the vocals are a mixture of anger and vulnerability that are a feature in Bart Costenoble’s style. This one works well.

Now we save the best until the last. The title track ‘Breathe’ is a two-chord journey. It is like nothing else on the album in that it is long, slow, and tells a story. I like rock ballads, so I am glad there was one waiting for me at the end. The track is progressive and has the contrast between beautiful melodic guitar and soft vocals, and overdriven guitar and anger. The lead guitar parts compliment the track, building rhythmically as the song progresses. Despite the track having a simple composition, it makes good use of variety and progression to hold interest for nearly 10 minutes. No doubt for me this is the highlight of the album.

Well that’s it, and although it isn’t a bad album, I wasn’t blown away either. For me it was a mixed bag, and the grunge style tracks didn’t work as well as the ones with a more classic feel. I am not sure if that is just down to personal taste or the band’s chemistry. Despite this, as well as the production issues, there were lots of positives too, so I wouldn’t write “Breathe” off by any means. It’s definitely worth a listen.

TRACKLISTING:

01. When Love Fools You
02. Keep On Going
03. Payback
04. Scars
05. Fly Away
06. Sober
07. Control
08. I Don’t Care
09. Rat Race
10. Breathe

LINE-UP
Vocals: Bart Costenoble
Guitar: Gino Lippens
Guitar: Davy Gheerardyn
Drums: Luc Van Dyck
Bass: Hans Van Den Hende

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Martin Bennewith and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Goldray – Feel The Change

Goldray – Feel The Change
Akashic Records/Cargo Records UK
Release Date: 31/07/2020
Running Time: 39:36
Review by Martin Bennewith
8.5/10

Goldray were not really on my radar before now. I feel like I have been missing out, but not anymore. Leah Rasmussen’s strong and stirring vocals, together with (Former Reef Guitarist) Kenwyn House’s melodic intricate guitar lines are short of the perfect marriage, so it does take time to understand their relationship, but I think I do get it after listening through this. Their deep psychedelic progressive rock fuelled album “Feel The Change” demonstrates this to the fullest. While on my journey through this, at times I would close my eyes and almost feel the energy running through me, as if I was listening to them live, but then I would open them again, and realise I was still alone in my room.

The feel of the album is firmly announced in the first track ‘Oz’ – which for the most part is a phased rhythmic lead riff matched against steady stirring vocals and swirling effects. At times, it has an eastern feel to it both through the vocal melodies and the way the guitar riff morphs, as well as some mellow lead playing against stirring effects as the track moves from energetic to dreamy in a way that works really well. It is definitely one to close your eyes to, only to be nudged back to reality with the nifty but slightly self-indulgent lead playing towards the end of the track.

Title track ‘Feel The Change’ begins with some really nice arpeggiated guitar work, giving it an almost acoustic feel. Leah doesn’t disappoint with her vocal work – emotional with expression that builds up as the track develops with great energy. The track has a fairly laid-back feel throughout, but with enough groove, direction and meaning to keep me interested.

‘The Forest’ has an equally sweet feel and progression, and you really can hear House’s Hendrix influences shining through with his melodic rhythmic playing as well as the lead parts, whereas ‘The Forest (Part 2)’ in contrast has a heavier energy to it, and made me wish I still had hair to fly around while rocking my head to the beat. Leah’s impressive vocal range and versatility really shine at the climax of the track as my journey through ‘The Forest’ nears the end.

We return to a slightly eastern, more psychedelic feel on ‘How Do You Know’, with heavily reverberated vocals, against an energetic beat and repetitive hypnotic guitar lines. I don’t think this is the most memorable track on the album, musically it didn’t hold my interest as much as the other tracks, but it does have a guitar part that is lengthy and full of raw energy to spice things up a lot towards the end.

Next track, ‘The Beat Inside’ has a really pumping guitar riff that will blow the dust off your speakers. Following most of the album’s formula, the stirring vocal work strikes an almost unusual contrast which is most evident in this track. With ad-lib style vocals and lead, this track feels like a bit of a jam session, albeit a jam session that I love to listen to. This is followed by ‘Come On’ which in contrast, has a more laid-back country feel, so the vocals do not sound so much detached as they occasionally do in the more energetic numbers.

On the final track ‘Phoenix Rising’, I could really hear Kenwyn House’s style shining through with his Hendrixesque rhythm play and intricate bluesy lead lines. After lots of energy and vocal stirrings to finish the proceedings, I opened my eyes, and felt like I had listened to a pretty good album!

I don’t think this album will be for everyone. The style is quite raw. Musically, it sometimes sounds like a jam session as opposed to a work of art, and the vocals at times feel like they don’t quite fit the music. But if you are like me, and you can see that the way this was put together was to draw you in and send you into a dream that is mixed with raw energy and emotion, then you will like it a lot.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Oz
02. Feel The Change
03. The Forest
04. The Forest (Part 2)
05. How Do You Know
06. The Beat Inside
07. Come On
08. Phoenix Rising

LINE-UP:
Leah Ray Rasmussen – Vocals
Kenwyn House. – Guitars, Piano, Farfisa Electric Organ, Bass, Backing Vocals

Plus, appearances from:
Geoff Laurens – Bass
Mike Kenna – Bass
Jamie Morrison – Drums & Percussion
Jonny Brister – Drums & Percussion
Lee Spreadbury – Electric Piano, Keyboards
Stephen Large – Hammond Organ

LINKS:
www.goldrayband.com/
www.facebook.com/Goldrayband
www.instagram.com/goldrayband/
www.twitter.com/Goldrayband
www.open.spotify.com/artist/03shUdhAgHcvpG1dXz2WXT
www.youtube.com/channel/UCNkWB93F51PRK4geKuQP52w

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Martin Bennewith and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Moonlight Desires – At The Movies EP

Moonlight Desires – At The Movies EP
Infamous Butcher Records
Release Date: 17/07/2020
Running Time: 15:01
Review by Martin Bennewith
7/10

Sometimes it is good to go back in time. Nostalgia is a wonderful thing, and it brings back lots of memories, and when the cue that triggers you to drift back in time is positive and energetic, then you will often find that the memories are laced with joy. What I like most about this EP is that it gives me a double dose of nostalgia. The most obvious one being the 80’s, where hair was big, music was made out of cheese, and 45’s were a thing, but it also sent me back to just after the turn of the millennium, when I still had hair, and bands such as Green Day, Wheatus and the Foo Fighters were somewhere in my CD pile.

In a Nutshell, Moonlight Desires are an alternative rock band boasting a style that fits in well with my noughties CD collection, but they apply this sound to turn well known 80’s hits on their head. “At The Movies” goes one further as it is a collection of 4 tracks from classic 80’s movies, so it really is great food if you have got an appetite for reliving moments from the past.

It kicks off (no pun intended!) with ‘Glory Of Love’ – Peter Cetera’s original version can be found in the film ‘The Karate Kid’, and this song certainly packs a punch. This is not the first time that this song has been given a rock makeover, as New Found Glory fans will tell you. As such, Moonlight Desires’ take on this song is more like the New Found Glory Version, albeit with more of a hard rock edge. It starts off with obligatory power chords which sets the tone for the whole track, along with a cutting lead guitar producing the melody, and as you hear the vocals and lead melodies develop, you can see where it is heading. When the chorus kicks in, I have to remind myself that I am not listening to Teenage Dirtbag, but this is not a criticism! The track, given the style, is itching for a lead solo, and it does not disappoint. I do find that the vocals slightly lack a cutting edge and are almost drowned out by the guitars. I think given the powerful feel-good lyrics the song possesses, I would have liked to hear the singing cut through a tad more. Apart from this, I think it is well produced, dare I say slightly overproduced.

Next on the list is a track from the film ‘Dirty Dancing’ – ‘Hungry Eyes’. It is certainly an interesting take on the song, with guitars a plenty. It has a lot of energy, and is certainly not as predictable as the first track. Imagine heavy vocals, overdriven rhythm guitars, and lots of lead breaks, alternating from energy, to calm, and back again. One thing I will say, is the opening did not capture my attention at first, and the feel I got was slightly lazy, however the journey from beginning to end was certainly one to grab attention overall. The pace of the track varies so much, that you sometimes forget you are listening to the same song. It goes from a Green Day type rhythm guitar with complimenting melodies to perhaps overly indulgent guitar noodling more like Motorhead. I was not a fan of the original song, and I certainly do prefer this version. Perhaps the dull nature of the original was why Moonlight Desires spent a lot of work creating something that is quite far apart from what Eric Carmen came up with.

The third instalment is a cover of The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough – My recollection of this song, as well as the Cyndi Lauper original are almost non-existent, so I will take this for what it is without any comparison. I think this, vocally, has the most energy. Think Dave Grohl mixed with the sarcastic tones of Billie Joe Armstrong. The music is also complimentary to this style. It is quite predictable, similar to ‘Glory Of Love’, but this is probably a good thing, as I imagine being in the middle of a mosh pit when the chorus comes on, and it certainly reminds me of those days. Lots of power chords, a great rhythm, and this time, the lead guitar is merely adding to the energy rather than taking over. It has a high feel-good factor, without too much depth or thought provoking to note.

The final outing, ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ is a bit of an anti-climax. I loved the original, so perhaps I am biased and not taking this for what it is, but I don’t think this would have done it for me if it were their song. There are a couple of reasons for this. The vocals do not have the same level of energy and light-hearted sarcasm that come across on the first three tracks, and the style seems out of context. It feels too close to the original for my liking. To be fair, they do manage to funk up the song with some rhythmic lead fills and attempt to create the kind of energy that their music clearly aims to generate, but for this to be more connected to the rest, they could have strayed away a bit from Simple Mind’s version. Perhaps as the original is great, they might not have wanted to destroy it, but in trying not to they have fallen short of what could have been possible.

Overall I enjoyed listening to “At The Movies” and although a lot of this was because of the novelty element, it brought a smile to my face, took me back in time, and brought back some good memories, so for this I would give it a thumbs up.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Glory Of Love (Peter Cetera Cover)
02. Hungry Eyes (Eric Carmen Cover)
03. The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough (Cyndi Lauper Cover)~
04. Don’t You Forget About Me (Simple Minds Cover)

LINE-UP:
Juan Helluva – 5 String Bass/Backup Vocals
Ashley Blue – 6 String Guitar/Backup Vocals
Twan Holliday – Vocals/8 String Bass
Christopher James – Drums

LINKS:
www.moonlightdesires.ca/
www.facebook.com/moonlightdesires/
www.twitter.com/MoonlightBand1
www.instagram.com/moonlightdesiresband/

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Martin Bennewith and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.