Album review overview: Phosphoroscent, Balance of Power and more

Photo (c) Jorge Fakhouri Filho

Dozens of new albums arrive at Maxazine’s editorial staff every week. Way too many to listen to them all, let alone review them. It ensures that too many albums are left behind. And that’s a shame. That is why today we post an overview of albums that arrive at the editors in short reviews.

Balance Of Power – Fresh From The Abyss

After more than 20 years, the British melodic progressive metal band Balance Of Power is finally back with a new album. There have been some changes compared to the last album, but not so much in musical terms. There have been some line-up changes. With the arrival of the very talented singer Hazel Jade, Balance Of Power has certainly not become worse. The guitarists are also new. Chris Young and Adam Wardle replace veterans Chris Masimore and Stoney Wagner, who still contributed to this album. Bassist Tony Ritchie and drummer Lionel Hicks have been there from the start and are also on this album. Balance Of Power doesn’t completely hang on to the glory days of yore. “Velocity”, for example, offers a bit more modern metal with a gothic touch thanks to Hazel Jade’s vocals. The best song is the closing power ballad “One More Time Around The Sun” with a leading role for Hazel Jade. I can’t say it enough but what a voice that woman has! This album is suitable for both “old timers” like me who nostalgically think back to the time when metal and life itself were a lot less complicated than for young metal heads who are curious about what the old men (and women) found so great about the music of “back then”. I had a grin from ear to ear when I first listened to this sixth disc by Balance Of Power and have no problem recommending “Fresh From The Abyss”. (Ad Keepers) (8/10) (Massacre)

Lynks – Abomination

The debut album “Abomination” by Lynks offers a motley mix of lo-fi industrial pop infused with a certain theatrical absurdity. It’s a record that doesn’t take itself too seriously, with lyrics that range from defiant to childish. It seems as if the artist wants to present himself as free-spirited and provocative, but often it remains stuck in superficial bravado. The musical aspects of the album are not much better; it seems as if every track is packed with gimmicks without really forming a cohesive whole. The vocals add another layer of irritation to it, with a nagging tone that disrupts rather than enriches the listening experience. While some listeners may appreciate Lynks’ over-the-top aesthetics and shameless lyrics as a form of camp, this album is unlikely to offer much for those looking for depth or refinement. In short, “ABOMINATION” is a failed attempt at provocation that feels more like a confirmation of sexual frustration than a genuine artistic statement. (Jan Vranken) (2/10) (Heavenly recordings under license to [PIAS] )

Phosphorescent – Revelator

Phosphorescent’s new album, called “Revelator”, is a masterpiece that delves deep into the emotional core of life. Matthew Houck, the mastermind behind Phosphorescent, explores the great sadness that is inherent in human existence in this album. It builds on the themes that were previously explored in albums like “Muchacho” and “C’est La Vie”, but expands the story and takes the listener on a journey where dreams and reality merge. With his signature blend of experimental indie folk and Americana, Houck once again knows how to impress. The album opens with the title track “Revelator”, a powerful track that sets the tone for the rest of the album. From there, Phosphorescent takes us on a journey through songs like “The World Is Ending”, “Impossible House”, and “Wide As Heaven”, where he sweeps us along in his rich musical landscape. With songs like “A Moon Behind The Clouds” and “A Poem On The Men’s Room Wall”, Phosphorescent shows his versatility as an artist, while at the same time remaining true to his unique sound and style. “Revelator” is a captivating album that explores the deepest emotions of life and offers the listener an unforgettable musical experience. (Norman van den Wildenberg) (7/10) (Verve)

Connie Smith – Love, Prison, Wisdom and Heartaches

Connie Smith’s newest album, “Love, Prison, Wisdom and Heartaches,” takes us back to a time when country music was still untouched and untainted. However, it’s also a time that’s gone. With her characteristic voice that you either embrace or find grating, Smith takes us on a nostalgic journey through classic country sounds. The album opens with “The Other Side of You,” a song that starts almost hysterically and shows little subtlety. It’s like stepping into a time machine back to the early sixties, leaving you wondering if you’re listening to Connie Smith or Patsy Cline. While Smith deserves a spot on the list of the 100 most important country artists, this album feels more like a tribute to her colleagues than a fresh creation. She interprets songs by other country legends like Loretta Lynn and Merle Haggard but doesn’t quite succeed in putting her stamp on them. Despite her attempt to breathe new life into the songs, they remain stuck in the past, without much innovation or freshness. It’s like visiting a museum full of dusty records from bygone eras. Overall, “Love, Prison, Wisdom and Heartaches” deserves a modest 5 out of 10. It’s an album that will primarily appeal to die-hard fans of classic country music, but for those looking for something new and challenging, it will likely be disappointing. Connie might be better off staying behind the begonias, where she’s found a comfortable spot in recent years. (Jan Vranken) (5/10) (Fat Possum Records)

Shabaka – Perceive its Beauty, Acknowledge its Grace

“Perceive its Beauty, Acknowledge its Grace” by Shabaka Hutchings is a beautiful and thoughtful album that exudes deep introspection and a meditative atmosphere. With an ensemble of talented musicians, including Carlos Niño and Esperanza Spalding, Hutchings weaves a meditative musical tapestry that takes the listener on a journey of contemplation and reflection. The striking use of flutes, including the Japanese Shakuhachi and various other traditional flutes, adds an element of ethereal beauty to the music. This choice to put the saxophone in the background in exchange for the flute gives the album a unique sound and depth. The collaboration with vocalists like Saul Williams and Lianne La Havas adds a human element to the music, creating emotional resonance in songs like “Managing My Breath, What Fear Had Become” and “Kiss Me Before I Forget.” Hutchings’ approach to composing music as poetry is evident in the song titles, which seem like poems in themselves that invite the listener to interpretation and introspection. It’s debatable whether it’s a coincidence that this album follows Andre 2000’s successful “Flute” album. However, it is quite a coincidence that two such albums are released so close together. All in all, “Perceive its Beauty, Acknowledge its Grace” is a beautiful album of contemporary “jazz” that not only showcases the musical skill of Hutchings and his collaborators but also has a deep spiritual and emotional resonance that will surely leave the listener feeling chilled out. It’s a recommendation for anyone who has ever signed up for a meditation course or might consider doing so in the future. (Jan Vranken) (6/10) (Verve)

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