CD reviews: Electric Sala, Black Sabbath
Blues? Blues-Rock? Pinoy Rock? Call it whatever you like, but this debut EP unleashed by the country’s young ambassadors to the 2013 Memphis International Blues Competition can’t be pigeonholed into easy genres.
The Juan de la Cruz band provides the broad shoulders on which the five-piece combo harvests the best parts of the first decade of Pinoy rock. The strategy works wonders. Rather than offer a facsimile of Muddy Waters or Steve Ray Vaughan’s kind of blues, Electric Sala turns in a solid performance as a band taking rootsy blues to its louder, harder progenies. No individual member stands out although the lead guitars occasionally take their share of the spotlight and the group effort hides the fact that a pre-teen sits behind the drum kit.
The other thing that sets Electric Sala apart from the recent batch of blues outfits is their socially aware lyrics. Songs like “Commonwealth,” “Langaw sa Buwan” and “Manok ni San Pedro” (not the old TV sitcom theme) are fodders for the active brain as opposed to the blatant sexism of say, “I just wanna make love to you” or the jepoy infantilism of “Nadapa sa arina.”
As blues albums go, there’s not much guitar shredding going on in the EP’s eight tracks but that doesn’t take anything away from the superb musicianship and edgy lyrics. Electric Sala is a definite highlight of 2013 and a name to watch.
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Some of the best Coldplay tunes have the broad sweep of progressive rock, their thunder and lightning replaced by pop hooks and pedestrian lyrics.
Treating Coldplay songs as wordless symphonies, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra burnishes the Brit rock band’s greatest hits with the classical treatment they deserve. You can still hear the attractive main melodies rising in a melting pot of lyrical passages and rumbling crescendos.
All that’s pretty and bittersweet about Coldplay aren’t lost in the interpretation. Instead, they’re happily tossing, turning and flourishing in the synchronized cacophony of various instruments.
Imagine "Symphonic Coldplay" as a mixtape for classical heads and you’re on your way to seeing and liking the band in a brand new light.
Black Sabbath invented heavy metal and most of its gnarled snarling offspring from death metal to new fangled offshoots such as drone rock.
That much is evident when the latest Sabbath opus opens with practically the same menacing dark blast as the first track on recent albums by brand new heavies 40 Watt Sun and Alcest. The modern drone rockers, however, lumber on to an eternal midnight while Ozzy and crew break the middle of the enveloping darkness of the eight-minute "End of the Beginning" with five minutes of feverish hard rock.
Ozzy returns to the fold after leaving the Sabs 35 years ago. He finds guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Bulter from the original late ‘60s line-up still up the job even as former Rage Against The Machine drummer Brad Wilks now supplies half of the backbeat. With his indie/funk past, sticksman Wilks could be the source of some light in the band’s usually sunless void.
Still, "13," the album, is clearly Ozzy and Iommi’s Sygian playground right at the opening riff. Osbourne shows off throughout the album how only his unique voice can express the universal quest for truth in “God is Dead?” as well as the crazed delusions in “Loner” and “Damaged Soul.” Iommi, master of the warped power chord is equally devastating in the blues-driven proto-grunge of “Dear Father” and its opposite, the slashing glam rock of “Zeitgeist”
Despite its title, "13" isn’t some twisted house of horror. If anything, the architects of heavy metal continue to tweak their grand design to build a more imposing infrastructure for the future. Bow down to the true kings of metal.