27 July 2012

Not Another Music Review!

I hate music reviews. There I said it! I hate the fact that they all read the same. I hate that the reviewer thinks their opinion matters. I hate that they actually think they can do it properly. I even hate that they think they are in a position to do it in the first place!

As I said before, any person, with a functional set of ears (or one), and a good taste in music (anything except pop; I have an issue with that) can actually "review" an album, a band, a song, or a gig. But basing your whole preferences and taste on certain people's judgements and opinions (which can be situational by the way) is, plainly put, ridiculous. Fair enough, there are impressive reviews out there by important people in the music business, who use a combination of fancy and intellectual words to describe the lyricist's subconscious struggle with their inner fears or the guitarist's solo virtuosity or even the bass player's skilful versatility in balancing harmony with rhythm, which can be somewhat "use"-full(?). [We all know that a music review that uses the word "bass" -let alone the bass player's skills- does not really exist!]

So you can imagine the position I was in when I was asked by a friend to review an alternative band. At first I hesitated, because as I mentioned above "Who the hell am I to tell you what is good and bad", right? Plus, I am not into alternative rock that much and I have no reviewing skills as you may have noticed from previous attempts! But then it occurred to me that I have actually been doing it (reviewing that is)...a lot, but in an alternative way! So I thought, why not do an "alternative" review for these guys? Also, the band is actually good. 

Here it is then. It's small, different (or alternative if you prefer), with links so you can see for yourself. I don't currently have a personal relationship of any sort with the band members and I made sure I listened to their album before I even talked to them. So basically, I am not that biased! Also, just to make it perfectly clear, I have no musical education of any kind. Therefore, I base my opinion solemnly on what my two perfect ears feed back to my brain neurons!

The Band
The band is called Waterblack. It originates from Cyprus and the city of Limassol but with strong UK connections as most of the band members were born and/or currently reside in the UK.
From left: Eco, Marcos, Xenios, Chris, & Byron

They formed in 1996 by Andreas Economides a.k.a. Eco and Chris Charalambides who are the only two original founding members in the band today. Eco, much like Dave Grohl (but a bit more "blessed" in the vocal department in my opinion), developed skills in an array of musical instruments starting as the band's drummer and ending up as the lead vocalist and guitar player. Also, he's the main player in regards to writing the lyrics and the songs' structure along with Chris.

Chris is the tech-guy being the band's keyboardist, producer, and sound engineer all together. Kind of like a mixed grill! He is also responsible for the song arrangements and I hear that his live performances are... well, noticeable!

Xenios is the newest addition to the family. Having traveled around the world and acquired a buttload of skills, he soon realised his place as the band's lead guitarist. He does mixing, sound engineering, recording, producing.... to perfection. I am pretty sure he does some other "little" things too! He even built his own Fender Stratocaster (!) and is one of those people who claim to listen to all kinds of music!

Byron is the bass player as well as the "marketing director" of the band. He is well-educated in music composition, so much that he is planning a career out of it by starting a PhD. Although he started off with classic guitar he ended up taking up the bass and refusing to let go!

Last but not least, Marcos, is unlike your typical drummer. He is characterised as a mature, well-behaved, professional, and composed drummer! A breed we need to help sustain! He is also an aspiring genius (considering he's currently doing a PhD in Neurophysics).

The Music
The album which was produced at Soundscape studios is called Orem and consists of 11 songs. The songs are infused with grunge sounds reminding me of the '90s era I grew up to, with the sounds of Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden blasting out from the radios. The drumming is sometimes funky, especially in the first song, and gave away the drummer's "jazzy" influences. This compliments the bass guitar which is skilfully prominent at times and pretty impressive. You've got to love their song arrangements! The keyboards remain somewhat ingeniously in the background, yet powerful, filling in the right places and creating a nice ambience while the guitars are simple and clear almost speaking to me explaining the songs in a way the lyrics cannot. The lyrics are very creative and poetic yet remain a mystery to me, but I think they represent their personal experiences and I got a hint of social angst as well! The voice is quite powerful, and "oozes" grunge but without the annoying post-grunge growling/yarling "singing" style (i.e. Nickelback).

I could characterise their sound as "alternatively grunge" served in a bed of funk, in a sauce consisting of Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, with a hint of Nirvana, a sprinkle of Red Hot Chilli Peppers, some U2 flavourings, and complimented with a good old Greek Rock!

Songs I really enjoyed listening to multiple times are "M", "Burdened Youth", and the darker "Living in the Ruins". But all the above don't really matter. What matters is your own opinion which will only be formed by listening. Here are some links to get you started:

Website where you may find more information about the band and their music, including the list of awards they received.
Facebook page where you may listen to their album for free and try to decode their lyrics.
YouTube channel where you may see some of their previous live performances and some unreleased songs.

I must point out and say I don't listen to grunge that much and I don't know much about it either. Hence, the lack in usage of fancy words and technical critique. All I know is that I liked their music and can't wait to see them live so that I form a well-rounded opinion. I'm just glad to know that original music from talented people is still being produced back home!

Hmmm.... I think I'm getting good at this alternative reviewing thing! So, what are your thoughts on the featured band then?
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