SADARTHA “HEAVY SOUND DAMAGE” ALBUM REVIEW

Sadartha “Heavy Sound Damage” Review

It’s been too long since I’ve posted any reviews on here. I keep feeling like I should be adding reviews, but I’ve been writing so much dull, non-music crap for work that I just haven’t been motivated to write about any bands lately. Then I heard Sadartha!

Sadartha is a cool band from Richmond, VA with a unique approach to their sound. Although I definitely see them as a grunge band, they aren’t overly similar to any one famous band. Their influences are so varied that it’s difficult to pin them down as having one sound. They just released their full-length album “Heavy Sound Damage” a couple of months ago (July 2017) and although it has its flaws, it has a lot to offer!  There is a lot of variety from song to song. You can tell these guys have a lot of different influences. The recording quality is kind of lo-fi / garage sounding, which works well for the style on most of the songs. The biggest issue for me is sometimes the vocal style, which often uses off-pitch vocals for effect, takes away from the song rather than adding to it. Although there are a few places where that approach works, I think overall the songs would be better if they were sung on pitch.

The album kicks off with the frantic, noisy track “Never Knows Best.” It’s the kind of song that sounds like it could start a fight in a crowd. The drums are aggressive. The bass line stands out and really drives the song. The guitar rounds everything out with an edgy tone being played with an aggression that sounds like all of the strings are about to be broken. The vocals are also aggressive and work well with the vibe of the song. Although I would rather have vocals on pitch, I understand the use of the off-pitch vocal for this type of song.

“Stupid Toy” and several of the other songs on this disc follow the quiet-loud-quiet-loud formula that people want to accuse of sounding like Nirvana. I personally don’t think the song sounds like Nirvana, but I would imagine that would be the comparison most people would make with several songs on this album just because of the frequent use of this formula.   Once again bass playing is awesome here. I like the vocals here more than on “Never Knows Best.” They are mostly in pitch and sound good that way, however there is one section where they do go way off pitch near the end of the song. Unlike the previous track where I can understand the choice to sing off-pitch, this time it really doesn’t work even as a stylistic choice, so I’m glad it only happens in one spot.

Instrumentally, “Falling Insane” is a very cool song! Although it’s another quite-loud-quiet-loud song, it’s a very different song from “Stupid Toy.” The drummer tried some interesting tribal sounding beats, the guitar has some trippy affects. Unfortunately, the vocals are significantly off pitch throughout the majority of the song in a way that seems unnecessary.

“Pill” rocks!   Drawing from their punk and metal influences, this brash and aggressive song drives hard from start to finish.   The vocal style works really well with this one and has very few spots where the vocals are pitchy. It’s one of the stronger songs on the album.

With a cool guitar melodies and driving bass parts, one of my favorite songs on the album is “Insects Last Moments.” Part of the reason for this might be that I love Nirvana and this song is more similar to Nirvana than any of the rest. However, although there are probably Nirvana influences here, I don’t think anyone would confuse this song with anything by Nirvana. It definitely has its own sound and feel. The band released a video for this one, so I’m guessing they feel it’s one of their stronger songs too. It’s also a great example of how off-pitch vocals can work really well in some songs.

Not only is “Translucent” another one of my favorite songs on the album, it also does a couple of things that the other songs don’t. The first time I listened to the song, for the first few seconds I thought the bass guitar was really off, which is weird because the bass playing is so solid for the rest of the album. Then the guitar and drums kicked in and I realized that this really weird bass part fit in perfectly with the rest of the band – a very cool trick!   The interplay between the bass and guitar is really amazing on this song! The first half of the song is really mellow, then the distortion kicks in and it goes from a mellow, psychedelic kind of vibe into a into more of a stoner rock song, but while retaining some of the psychedelic elements that make the song so cool. Also, this one has some of the best vocals on the album.

Musically, “Brittle Bullet” kills! It pulls from some cool 90s stoner rock influences mixed with a hint of Black Sabbath.   At it’s best, the vocals sound reminiscent of Alice In Chains, but the sections that don’t sound like A.I.C. are off-pitch in a way that doesn’t even sound like it was done for affect. They just sound bad. It’s unfortunate because I think if the vocals were all on pitch, this would be a killer song!

A strange thing happens with the next two songs: “Manic Fits” and “Blasphemer.” Although “Manic Fits” starts out with a really cool, mellow guitar / bass part, this feels like a demo with some great ideas that were never fully developed. There are a couple of hooks that almost work. I think a good producer could have turned this one into an amazing, unique song.   But as it stands, it feels unfinished.   In my opinion, this one had a lot of potential, but ends up feeling like a good idea that would have benefited from more development time.

Immediately following “Manic Fits” we have “Blasphemer.” This song kicks ass! It’s heavy, driving and 100% cool just as it is. There are some awesome vocals parts that are very different from anything else on the album. But the weird thing is, this entire song sounds like the band took the vibe they had for the heavy parts of “Manic Fits” and wrote a new song around that vibe. After hearing “Blasphemer” I’m even more confident that with a little more time, they could have forged “Manic Fits” a much better song.

If you played a song from the 1960s through a “Nirvana” emulator app while singing it in the wrong key, you’d have the song “Heartworms.” I don’t know if I love this song or hate it.   I’ve listened to it several times to try to answer that question. There’s so much musically wrong with here, yet the result is almost endearing. I’m not even sure the bassist and the guitarist are playing in the same key. If you don’t like quirky music, this definitely isn’t a song for you, but it almost has a Sid Barrett solo album thing going on.

“Mind Vomit” sounds like a cross between Black Flag and Fugazi with hints of The Sex Pistols while still sounding exactly like Sadartha.

The album finishes out with “Permeate The Ether.” After listening to each song on the album several times by this point, I feel like I have a good understanding of what Sadartha is all about.   If I had listened to this song first, I don’t think I would have appreciated it as much, but putting this song at the end of the album is the right placement. It’s a very cool, dark, psychedelic instrumental track with thick effects. It feels like it could have been written specifically to conclude the album. I almost feel like I should be watching the album credits scroll across my monitor while I listen to this song.

With this album, Sadartha has presented the listener with a world of music that all works together very well. Despite their variety of influences, they definitely have their own unique style.   It’s not pop-friendly. It’s not pre-packaged for the average consumer.   You won’t hear any of these songs playing in the background at your favorite local chain restaurant. But if you have a taste for something new, dark and odd with a distinct grunge feel, give “Heavy Sound Damage” a chance.

Here’s a link to their facebook page.

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Ganesa “Voice” single review

ganasa voice.jpg

Ganasa “Voice” single

Last year I did a review of the album “The First Sigh” from the band Ganesa. The band is based in Petrozavodsk, Russia and they have returned with a new single called “Voice.” The song is brutally heavy and really well crafted. My first thought is a grungy version of Black Sabbath with a more modern bass and drum sound. There are also hints of Alice in Chains in there. If this song is any indication of the direction that the band is headed, I believe their next album will be very cool! Check out “Voice” on their bandcamp page HERE.

Ava Adore “II” EP Review

Ava Adore

Ava Adore from Barcelona, Spain

Over the last few days, I’ve been introduced to several great bands from around the world. One of them is a female fronted band from Barcelona, Spain called Ava Adore. Although they mention most of the classic grunge bands as influences, their sound definitely falls towards the metal side of grunge with more similarities to bands like TAD, Gruntruck and Soundgarden than Nirvana or Pearl Jam. Their EP simply titled II rocks hard and will really get your blood pumping. Although vocalist/guitarist Paola Bailey has a great voice, she’s somewhat buried in the mix. This is something that would usually bother me, but for reasons I can’t really explain, it seems to make Ava Adore sound louder and heavier because of this mixing decision.

The EP begins with the song Nomads. It’s a heavy upbeat rocker with cool guitar hooks. The song briefly breaks down into a trippy, mellow classic rock section before crashing back into the rockin’ riffs that conclude the song.

Turning Black is next on the EP.   I could easily hear a stoner rock band performing this song. It reminds me of Black Sabbath with its slower groove, fuzzy guitars and awesome riffs. This one is probably my favorite track on the EP, but that is difficult to say because all four songs are great.

The song Hold On shows that Ava Adore is just as capable of delivering a straight-up punk tune as they are of metal riffing. The band switches up the guitar tones to a much more brash sound that works well to get across an angry, aggressive urgency. The blistering guitar solo betrays the simplicity of the song and shows that despite the punk feel, the band behind it is very skilled on their instruments.

The EP ends with How To Trust, a song somewhat similar to an upbeat Foo Fighters track. This is another song where music is more complicated than your average grunge song, once again showing that these musicians are quite capable.

My biggest complaint about the EP is that there aren’t more songs! I would love to hear a full-length album from this band. I strongly recommend checking out this bands if you like metal, heavy grunge, or classic rock.

Here’s a link to their page on bandcamp.

Ganesa “The First Sigh” album review

Ganesa

Ganesa album “The First Sigh”

Although most of my reviews are for Grunge bands, Ganesa is a metal band from Petrozavodsk, Russia with some hints of grunge influence here and there. All of their song titles and album title are in Russian, so they have been translated here into English. Their album title translates to “The First Sigh.”

One thing that stands out about this album is the recording quality. The album was funded completely by the band without any record label support, yet the sound quality is superb. Every song except for one has the production quality of a major label release. The guitar tones in particular are amazing. The vocals display a wide range of emotions and volumes. Many independent bands have trouble making that kind of vocal fit into the song well, but on this album, they always fit into the song very well. If you are a fan of sludgy, brutally heavy guitars, it really doesn’t get much better than Ganesa!

The album begins with a slow, growling song called “One” which reminds me a little bit of the band Tool. The guitar parts are very cool, the vocals are passionate and the song really rocks. It’s a great opening track.

Things speed up a little bit with the next song “Poison.” This is a short song with more of a metal feel, but it’s still a very good song.

“Inhaling Pain” brings the tempo back down and offers a trippy and somewhat psychedelic vibe that makes me think a little bit of Alice In Chains if they had been around in 1968 with metal guitar tone. The bass guitarist has an opportunity to shine on this track with a very cool, busy bass guitar part. The elements combine to make “Inhaling Pain” one of the best songs on the album.

“Smeared” continues the trippy feeling started with “Inhaling Pain” but this time without the psychedelic vibe. Although very unique, there are elements of Marilyn Manson to this track – brutally heavy while making your head spin with dizzying guitar effects.

If there is a straight forward hard rock / punk song on this album, it would be “The Cult of Money.” Driving guitars and drums rev this song up about as fast as you can before it would have lost the groove. This is the kind of song I would expect to hear during a fight scene or action sequence of a movie.

“Hundreds of Days” begins with a wicked bass line and guitar feedback that instantly makes me think of White Zombie’s “Black Sunshine.” The drums keep rocking throughout the song while the guitars alternate between driving metal and haunting ethereal sounds.

There is a music video for Track 7 “Resin” to promote the album. I don’t know that “Resin” is the best song on the album or the best representation of the band. It’s a good song and it does display their ability to change direction within a song. It has an awesome bass line, very cool guitar, and is short enough that first time listeners wouldn’t be tired of the song before it’s over. For this reason, it’s probably not a bad choice for a music video, but I think several other tracks on here are actually better.

Up next is the very up-tempo and very short “Bile.” I wouldn’t say this song is punk, but it is very fast drum part that is similar to punk drumming through most of the song. Once again, the bassist is given a chance to shine with some awesome bass parts.

To my ears, “Farm” is the least impressive track on the album. There’s a cool guitar riff that happens a few times, but it doesn’t really fit with the rest of the song. The vocals don’t sound as interesting as the vocals in the other songs and it doesn’t feel like the song ends as much as just stops. The song isn’t terrible at all, but compared to the rest of the album (which is pretty damn amazing), this track doesn’t stand up to the quality of the rest.

The album closes by changing direction drastically with the song “Hell.” Musically it is a very cool, well-written song, but it seems to be a different style of music from the rest of the CD. Also, this song doesn’t sound like it was recorded in the same studio as the rest of the album. In fact, “Hell” is the only song on the album that doesn’t have professional recording quality. The song quality is much closer to what most independent bands albums’ sound like.   Maybe that’s why it’s at the end of the album.

In closing, I would say this is a great album. As I mentioned earlier, the sound quality is excellent on 90% of the songs. It really sounds professional. Additionally, the songs are more complex than most of the music out there yet the musicians’ performances are unbelievably tight.   They must practice a lot.   Personally, I think I would have enjoyed the album more if the vocals were in English. However, it didn’t take away from the music. And if I were Russian, I would probably appreciate being able to listen to such an amazing band singing in my native tongue.

If you are a fan of intricate metal, give Ganesa a listen on bandcamp.

Check Ganesa out on Facebook.