The darkness fading in, the light drowning out, Opeth creeps swiftly like a specter through a large, but filling gap in their sound. Heritage is one of their first steps into the prog-ridden waters, clean vocalism, more refined instruments, and a more grand focus on the presentation and pacing than ever.
With any new direction comes possibilities that were never before imagined; Opeth already being the heavier metal band that had the technicality of talent would be able to erupt and form a large sense of scope with this new style. They had moved toward prog-rock and extended tracks before, but the decision to use no heavier vocals or hardened emotional stress through the overbearing instruments similar to their previous releases opened new doors for Opeth. That emotional stress was still present and features itself instead through instrumentals that rely heavily on daunting melodies and more broad focus on creating an evil, but gentler Opeth.
With the incredibly moving and near tear-releasing self-titled piano solo introduction “Heritage,” there is an immediate urge to move the fingers along with Joakim Svalberg who handles the grand piano on the track. It is beautiful, but sets a strange overture for Heritage as the album follows this sense of remission, but also death and a lurking perspective that is constantly transpired through Opeth’s grace and dualistic disparity. As they move into “I Feel The Dark,” the third track in the listing for Heritage, they capture an emotional pull with the track that moves through several territories of vibrating transitions.
It can capture the progressive nature that Opeth illustrated and demonstrated well in the past, but then also turn a new leaf onto several transitions that create these incredibly well produced and influential moments. It is important to have direction, but Opeth is at full control with their movements and with the way the tracks can flow about on Heritage. To see the overbearing organs that then flood over Mikael Åkerfeldt and his incredibly talented band of musicians that switch places over the years, but find a home on Heritage. Or on the following, the instrumentally driven, “Häxprocess” where the acoustic guitars that begin, creating the middle breakdowns, and eventually having an electric lead out the track. There is a heavy reliance on atmosphere here and some of the tracks on Heritage feature a very destructive, almost impending sense as “Häxprocess” begins to spread throughout and then die down once more.
Even more present on “Famine,” a heavy reliance on hellish atmosphere makes the background and mastering behind the track feel so incredibly important. Opeth uses the chains that rattle and the jungle-esque percussion to their advantage to pull a curtain over the listener, opening their imagination to the cruel sound that is revolving around them. The metallic soundscape that is in a surrounding state, to the flute that rushes in and creates a feeling of Jethro Tull with a heavier sensibility behind the band.
Even as Opeth begins to fade with “Marrow Of The Earth,” there is still that daunting and heavy presence that lingers behind as the final notes are being displayed. Opeth makes Heritage feel as an experience and as a newly formed extension of their artistic arm. Through the complexity within their musical style, Heritage shifts into different animals and makes the final moments feel just as somber, but emotionally touching as the opening instrumental.
The gravitation toward punk music was always something that struck a personal chord. It captured the isolation and anguish, while maintaining an energetic and productive sound behind the rampaging string mixes and the percussive crashes that would rattle the foundation of music. Stiff Love is one of those bands that can capture the essences of the abrasive qualities that makes punk rock the movement inducing style, but also rely on a familiar sound that takes their newest record, Trouble into a soaring animal of ability.
Perhaps it can be labeled on the rough cut instrumental functionality that Stiff Love adapts to, or maybe the charismatic lovability of four Washington state natives that have punk rock roots in previous bands, The Vitamens or Lowest Priority to name just two. It could also be the reason that the all female group shines through their frontwoman Xtine who delivers on the guitar and vocal performances. Or it could possibly be that Stiff Love rejuvenates a love for the quick and reckless days of music where the rules were arbitrary and unnecessary. “Walk In The Dark” opens in a systematic clash of overwhelming sound as Claudia on the percussion stamps the backing rhythm while Elysa and Dahlia on the strings move into position for the frantic wall that is about to come stomping into frame.
It is the glimmering example of rapid tempo changes on the title-track, “Trouble” that illustrates this rising tension and grindhouse influenced rock n’ roll that flows over Trouble in a friendly gloss. And this is present through most of Trouble as Stiff Love moves in a sweeping formation to cover a large range of sound. Through the concentrated movement, Stiff Love can quickly become the driving force through a steady, almost forceful shove which then leads Stiff Love to a break down in “Trouble” where the desert lick of the guitar can stand out. Even through the abrupt ending, Stiff Love then proceeds into “Up In Your Room” which is the marker for the third act of Trouble.
“I know where you hide your gun,” is what Xtine seems to be shouting as the rest of Stiff Love strums and crashes along in a fury of sound that becomes the theme for Stiff Love’s Trouble. Especially throughout the tracklisting that barely reaches under the ten-minute mark, giving Stiff Love a get-in-and-get-out approach. The band is fantastic in the way their sound coincides within the rough outer limits of punk rock that borders on surf styled rock.
Stiff Love continues to please through Trouble and the band makes interesting turns that make for a successful overall trip that never overstays its welcome and always plans on the unexpected. Stiff Love works well within the four-member limit and tries to manipulate the sound just enough to be original and outstanding in a sea of many fish.
A rare, but odd mix up // Listen Here – Soundcloud
Sax and Flute by: Jihoon
Lil Remains Hoe // Listen Here – Soundcloud
The most turn up 30-seconds of your life // Listen Here – Soundcloud
Sixteen-recorded albums later, Stevie Wonder was a gold miner for his musical talents and knew nothing but strength and emotional attachment for describing just how beautiful the world can be inside his mind. His critically acclaimed masterpiece, Innervisions speaks directly to the listener as a tale of abuse, personality, and eventually triumph through a smooth, satin film.
Innervisions is one of those records that lives forever through the relatable moments in the themes behind the outstanding instrumentation. From the synth keys that shine through on the first cut, “Too High” or to the very elegant and emotionally driven piano on “All In Love Is Fair,” there is always a substantial use of ability behind Wonder’s sense of direction. The beauty is present throughout and always manages to co-exist within this magnificent sense of consistently shifting styles of tempo and chord progressions.
The way that Stevie Wonder moves on into “Visions” with the incredibly subtle acoustic guitar and beautiful arrangement of poetic vocals provides different looks into his artistic tone. Wonder describes, “I’m not one who make believes, I know that leaves are green. They only change to brown, when autumn comes around. I know just what I say, today’s not yesterday and all things have an ending.” Through the slower, but steady increase of movement which then leads into “Living For The City” where the entire emotional setting is drastically changed as well.
It is a vibrant tone of intrigue that leads into the frantic vitality of the city life, telling the story of a young American that moves into the bright and shining lights of New York City. It describes “Her brother’s smart, he’s got more sense than many. His patience’s long but soon he won’t have any. To find a job is like a haystack needle, because where he lives they don’t use colored people.” The story then finds the young man living just enough for the city and finding out soon that New York is not what he first envisioned. Through the spoken word detailing at the midpoint of “Living For The City,” then involves the main character being arrested and sentenced to ten years. Wonder then describes his own sorrow for the main character and just how unfair and rough the city can be for people of color.
Wonder then thankfully changes topics and becomes more focused on a more upbeat sense of story where he describes a “Golden Lady” that is heaven on Earth. He shouts over the dance heavy piano, “And golden lady, golden lady, I’d like to go there.” It is filled with clasping hi-hats and bongo styled drums that reflect well on the variation behind Innervisions. Especially as Wonder then moves into “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing,” a Central America styled instrumental with heavily clasping and maracas that have Wonder yelling “Everybody needs a change, a chance to check out the new. But you’re only one to see, the changes you take yourself through.”
Innervisions is a powerful movement that follows Wonder’s view on the world. The immaculately talented artist can open the listeners mind and still be a relevant release even forty-five-years later.
Graceful and a rainy day // Listen Here/Watch – Youtube