System of A Down, Protect The Land single review (2020)

After fifteen years, new music from System of a Down appears via the single Protect The Land.

To get an idea of the motivation behind the release of these songs, here is an excerpt from the band’s press release.

We as System Of A Down have just released new music for the first time in 15 years. The time to do this is now, as together, the four of us have something extremely important to say as a unified voice. These two songs, “Protect The Land” and “Genocidal Humanoidz” both speak of a dire and serious war being perpetrated upon our cultural homelands of Artsakh and Armenia.

We’re proud to share these songs with you and hope you enjoy listening to them. Further, we encourage you to read on to learn more about their origins and once you do, hope you are inspired to speak out about the horrific injustices and human rights violations occurring there now. Most importantly and urgently, we humbly implore you to donate, in sums small or large to help those adversely affected with what are ever growing accounts of crimes against humanity.

There is a lot more to it, and you can read about at on the band’s Bandcamp page, Facebook, etc. Links below.

L-R: Daron Malakian, Serj Tankian, Shavo Odadjian, John Dolmayan

The two new songs are well in line with the signature sound of System of a Down. “Protect The Land” starts with a heavy guitar riff to establish the tone. The lyrics follow the message noted in the press release and the vocals are melodic and insistent. “Genocidal Humanoidz” has a much more frantic tempo demonstrating the hysteria the title portrays. The songs are very different to each other, showing separate musical sides of the band.

The single is out now. Give it a listen for the music and donate to the cause if you want to. I saw System of a Down a couple years ago at Aftershock in Sacramento and even without new music for such a long time, the show was just amazing. It is nice to have these two new songs, and I hope there will be more on the way in the coming months. But even if they never released another note, I would still go see them whenever I could. Recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://systemofadown.bandcamp.com/

Website, https://systemofadown.com/#home

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqmknZNg1yw&feature=youtu.be

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/systemofadown

System of A Down, Protect The Land single review (2020)

Ten Million Lights, Shine So Bright review (2020)

Portland, Oregon’s own Ten Million Lights reach out through the murk of 2020 to pass along new music with the five-song EP Shine So Bright.

Ryan Carroll and Eric Block starting putting together the band a little over ten years ago. After a few EPs and two full length albums, Shine So Bright is the latest entry in the well hewn house of Ten Million Lights. The lineup is completed by Russ Ellis (bass) and Paul Hardie (drums), and these four musicians have together created a sound that passes between the realms of action and lament, haunting them both.

The set opens with a tromping beat and a little feedback on “Better To Know.” Carroll’s vocals are sweet and far away, floating in the world the guitars and pedals create. The music has a buoyant pop feel in the first three songs, and starts to turn more serious on the last two.

Given the generally serene and layered arrangements, the single element that stands out most is the drumming, which is crisp and clicks off the occasional free radical. The bass lines raise a voice of their own sometimes too, standing out in my memory on “The Swirl,” the longest song and most dismal in tone – also the closer. These five songs then listen like positive reassurance in the shifting sands we all now walk and also cautionary acknowledgement of the gravity of the situation. Balanced, I would call it.

Out on Friday, October 2, Shine So Bright can be had at Bandcamp and through the band’s website at the links below. Along with the singles that have been released from this new one, traipse through the back catalogue and associated music you can find on the band’s website. You are sure to discover some shining kernels there. Recommended.

Links.

https://tenmillionlights.bandcamp.com/

tenmillionlights.com/

https://www.facebook.com/tenmillionlights

Ten Million Lights, Shine So Bright review (2020)

All Them Witches, Nothing As The Ideal review (New West Records 2020)

Not only is Nothing As The Ideal the newest release from All Them Witches, it also stands well apart from their earlier work.

The Nashville trio of Ben McLeod on guitar, Robby Staebler on drums, and Charles Michael Parks, Jr. on bass (and vocals) have produced an impressive amount of music in the less-than-ten years they’ve been together – six studio releases and now this new one. Every album they have released has different feel to it and Nothing As The Ideal is the most different, if that is a possible thing. Each subsequent release is recognizable as an All Them Witches album but they are all clearly their own thing, too. That approach might not be great for branding, but it produces amazing results for the music.

“Saturnine & Iron Jaw” begins the album with a tolling bell and a scratchy metallic weirdness growing out of the void and creeping slowly up to you. Ninety seconds in, an echoing guitar starts a soft minute-long climb into an urgent appeal, “Nothing, that’s the ideal.” The next song is “Enemy of My Enemy” and it starts out in a rapid patter infused with ethereal peakiness. And then there is “Ethereal,” quiet and wispy and beautiful strumming with a blunt homage to The Alan Parsons Project’s Turn of a Friendly Card. “See You Next Fall” closes out side one with nearly ten minutes of musical story. There is a lot going on in this very long song, with looped non sequitur voices at the front and distorted guitars traveling along with pulsing rhythm and percussion. None of this seems or sounds discordant or even odd. It all fits together as a whole – “I’m not grinding my teeth / I’m not lying awake.”

Side two leads off with the roots sounding “The Children of Coyote Woman.” Second is “41” which felt to me like an extended plea, while “Lights Out” is a traveling fist fight. “Rats In Ruin” is the closer, another long song passing nine minutes. It has avant-garde passages and a long, sorrowful guitar solo that carries sadness like I have not heard since the refrain in Zappa’s “Watermelon In Easter Hay.” It was an ending I didn’t see coming but just the right one for this album.

Nothing As The Ideal is out now from New West Records. You can hit the links below to get yours in whatever form you like best. Once you get started with All Them Witches, it is hard to stop. Recommended.

Band photo by Robby Staebler.

Links.

https://allthemwitches.bandcamp.com/album/nothing-as-the-ideal

https://www.facebook.com/allthemwitches

http://www.allthemwitches.org/

https://store.newwestrecords.com/

All Them Witches, Nothing As The Ideal review (New West Records 2020)