Search for the Hidden Gem (2012 – vol# 5)

Written by on May 24, 2012 in May 24, 2012, Music Reviews - Comments Off on Search for the Hidden Gem (2012 – vol# 5)

R.I.P. the Queen of Disco!

Edge of Paradise

Style (Rock / Metal)

Seesaw, seesaw, oh which way to go?  On the positive side I really dig the guitar work coming from Dave Bates.  Bates’ guitar work (sounding a little like a young Zakk Wylde protégé) is meaty and heavy in the chords and screaming in the solos.  Thankfully because of what Bates is doing on guitar I’m not entirely put off by the song structure.  However, tipping the seesaw in the negative direction are the vocals.  I understand the eye candy factor with having Margarita Monet as the front woman but sex appeal in a rock/metal band only goes so far without ability.  As a whole, Monet vocally is all over the place and she wastes no time wandering out of key, beginning with the opening song “Falling Down” and continuing consistently in the same manner for the next 7 tracks (the 9th being instrumental, so at least there’s that to look forward to).  The primary killing factor vocally is how far Monet reaches for the screeching high notes and then disastrously bottoms out digging for a low note and in the process destroys the songs with her hunting and pecking.  In the second track “Tail of the Gun” Monet’s high notes are absolutely abysmal, but somewhere in the track she displays a mid-range that provides a very slight glimmer of promise vocally.  Playing through these tracks, I’d say it’s time to move past the Whitney Houston night on American Idol karaoke to develop the serviceable mid-range into something stronger and stay out of left field looking for the octave fly balls lost in the lights.  And not to be overlooked, what’s up with Edge of Paradise as a band name?  That’s a serviceable CD title, but not working so well as a band name.

Rating 2 (only because I dug the guitar work)

Five Finger Death Punch

“American Capitalist”
Style (Hardcore)

It’s not often I say this, but the first thing I noticed playing through this new CD, and not at all what I expected to say about a band named Five Finger Death Punch, is how polished and well produced the songs are.  Many kudos to Kevin Churko for the mixing job he did with these 11 tracks; a slice of commercial appeal without sacrificing the band’s core sound.  Musically, it’s to be expected that a band named Five Finger Death Punch would write aggressive, punishing songs spewing molten energy, with the exception of the slow ballad types like “Remember Everything.”  Sadly though my attention span wandered elsewhere after the 3rd track as a result of the overused repetitive vocal formula (scream, sing, scream, sing, wash, rinse, wash, rinse, etc.) hardcore howler monkey mixed with rock singing that Linkin Park made so famous and ruined for so many other bands.  Granted Five Finger Death Punch has their own style and they do a fantastic job blending these two very different vocal styles into a coherent heavy form, but formula writing is boring quick.  Musically, I love the powerful energy and musicianship to at least pull a couple tracks into my gym workout playlist to get me through some hard reps.

Rating 2 ½ (I’m good for a couple tracks) 

Countless Thousands

“We’re Just Really Excited to be Here”
Style (Rock / Indie)

I’m not really sure what to make of this trio’s new CD.  They’ve self-branded their style of music as “enthusiastic rock” adding contrived vagueness to an already vague collection of songs.  At the very least it’s a great marketing job avoiding the pigeonholing of oneself into a category, which makes CD placement at Ameba Records a whole lot more interesting.  For my take their music is off beat indie with uptempo nonconforming rhythms and sounds like it came from overly “smart” musicians fresh out of Musicians Institute looking for a unique path.  These songs are way too energetic for a coffeehouse, which is a good thing, but not something I’d expect a college or bar crowd to embrace, a bad thing, so sadly I’m not sure what music scene this fits into or what, if any, internet airplay this is suppose to generate.  Maybe that’s the point; make a box that’s not called a box but works as a box.  In any case, I appreciate their enthusiastic energy despite the absence of a single catchy song, verse or chorus.  At the very least they didn’t bore me to death.

Rating 1 ½

Joel Dasilva

“The Midnight Howl”
Style (Blues)

I’m not on board for the whole CD but am enamored by the song “Hard Time” that I feel alone is worth mentioning.  “Hard Time” is a simple song with minimal lyrics that works superbly when played in this blues fashion with slow pacing filled with emotional and haunting rhythms.  Cliché for me to say I feel how hard the time is but that really is exactly what I felt inside.  Too bad I didn’t feel the same about the rest of the CD.  But that one song meant something to me and I’m grateful for the opportunity to have heard it.