Friday, January 23, 2015

Mark Kelson - Resurgence

Mark Kelson
Resurgence
Audio Cave

Having spent his twenty year career in a various musical groups (Most notably The Eternal, and to a lesser extent Cryptal Darkness, Alternative 4 and InSomnius Dei), vocalist/multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, engineer, producer, mixer Mark Kelson has decided to take a step into the unknown and try his hand as a solo artist.
After The Eternal completed their touring commitment in support of 2013’s ‘When The Circle Of Light Begins To Fade’, Kelson locked himself away in his studio (Kelsonic Studios) and started work on his debut solo offering. Almost a year later, Kelson has emerged with ‘Resurgence’. And as expected, it’s another first class effort from the Melbourne (Victoria, Australia) based musician.
Upon first listen, it would be fair to say that ‘Resurgence’ doesn’t stray all that far from the sound and direction Kelson took The Eternal. But to describe the album outright as such would be doing the album a disservice, because if the listen truly allows the album to sink in, there’s no mistaking the differences between Kelson’s other band, and Kelson as a solo artist.
The album begins in a stirring fashion with the mostly instrumental piece ‘Samana (Part I)’. The gradual rise in keyboards and piano give a very Pink Floyd feel, while the spoken word piece and the introduction of drums only add to the overall experience.
After the short opener, the album truly gets underway with ‘The Only Way Out Is In’. Clocking in at over ten minutes, this track is somewhat of an epic, but not the kind of track that overstays its welcome. Vocally and lyrically, Kelson digs deep and covers some fairly deep and personal issues, and the music reflects this personal journey perfectly. Initially starting out with Kelson on guitar, the song soon evolves into classic rock with a distinctly ‘70’s vibe (Again, influences from Pink Floyd and David Gilmour are evident), with Kelson really stretching out on the guitar front, and from a song writing sense, almost pushing his sound into progressive rock territory.
‘My Own Degradation’ takes on a heavier and more driven edge, with Kelson exercising his inner guitar demons with harsh riffing, powerful hard hitting drums and some extensive solo passages, all the while ensuring that the choruses literally jump out at the listener. Meanwhile, ‘Ocean Blue’ is an emotive and heartfelt track that maintains an ambience throughout without losing any of its singer/songwriter vibe, while ‘Ä€cariya’ (Which is preceded by the short sound effect laden piece ‘Wide Awake’) comes from the other end of the spectrum where its perhaps the album’s most straight forward sounding heavy rock track with a slow and relaxed pace.
Although it’s hard to pin down one particular favourite from the album (The album is designed to be listened to as a whole, rather than by their individual track selections), I’d select ‘The Aftermath Of Apathy’ as one of the albums stronger cuts. From its slow building Pink Floyd/Porcupine Tree like keyboard introduction, Kelson introduces a steady drum pattern that’s as addictive as his vocal melodies, before bringing it all home with a stunning chorus that sticks in the mind long after the song has finished. In short, this song ranks as one of Kelson’s best, and a taste of his own unique style.
Finishing up is the short ‘Samana (Part II)’, which follows the same vein as the opener, and closes the album perfectly.
In conclusion, while Kelson has rarely let me down, ‘Resurgence’ is an absolute triumph for him as a songwriter, a performer and a producer. Fans of Kelson’s former efforts should hunt this album down. It’s guaranteed to live up to expectations.

For more information on Mark Kelson, check out - https://www.facebook.com/MarkKelsonAus

© Justin Donnelly

Segression - Painted In Blood

Segression
Painted In Blood
Murder Machine Records

I’ll be the first to admit that Wollongong (N.S.W., Australia) based outfit Segression have never really impressed me that much. Sure, there have been moments where I’ve found the odd song enjoyable, but for the most part, I couldn’t help but feel that the band have been nothing more than a band that’s struggled to find an identity that they could truly call their own. Instead, they seemed to adopt whatever style happened to be popular at the time, which ultimately makes them look like a second rate copy of something far stronger sounding.
Three years on from their comeback album (2011’s ‘Never Dead’), Segression (Who now comprise of vocalist/bassist Chris Rand, guitarists Mick “MK” Katselos and Sven Sellin and drummer Adam “ADZ” Bunnell) has returned with their sixth full-length effort ‘Painted In Blood’. And it’s the kind of album that’s bound to take many by surprise.
The opening title track ‘Painted In Blood’ (Which is also the first song to be given the promotional video clip treatment) is a crushing effort that clearly sets the tone of the album in both style and direction. Laced with thick Lamb Of God like grooves, and boasting some truly aggressive growls from Rand (The likes of which have never been heard before on any Segression album in the past); ‘Painted In Blood’ is by far the heaviest the band have ever sounded. Thankfully, the rap influences of the bands past work have been ditched, and Rand’s clean vocal harmonies in the choruses sound stronger and work well at giving the song a bit of change from the relentless bludgeoning assault.
The follow-up track ‘Refuse To React’ and the faster paced ‘Killing Kingdom’ follow a similar path laid down by the opener, but with a touch more variation on the guitar riff front, while the catchy/heavily grooved  ‘Grounded’ is as close to anything the band get to in terms of revisiting their past. And yet it’s still head and shoulders stronger in song writing quality than anything they’ve done previously.
A personal favourite on the album is ‘Pale Beneath’ with its tribal infused drum patterns, broader sense of dynamics in the production and impressive solo, while ‘War Cry’, the melodic ‘Scar Me Now’, ‘Higher’ (Which again showcases some great clean vocals from Rand) and the slow building closer ‘Burn This Ending’ are further picks worthy of pointing out.
While ‘Painted In Blood’ is far from a perfect album (The album’s overall Lamb Of God sound is a little too much at times, and the production from Rand and Sellin comes across as a little uneven at times), it is without any doubt the strongest sounding release to emerge from Segression to date.

For more information on Segression, check out - https://www.facebook.com/Segression

© Justin Donnelly