Artist: A Self
Album: A Self
Review by Alex Henderson
Many progressive metal bands operate from a decidedly pre-1990s perspective. Combining 1970s/1980s-style power metal with progressive rock, such bands will typically get their inspiration from Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Queensrÿche or Ronnie James Dio on one hand and Yes, Pink, Floyd, and King Crimson on the other. But there are also the progressive metal bands that have a post-80s perspective and blend that love of progressive rock with alternative metal and alternative rock influences. A Self is that type of band. This self-titled 2011 release falls into the progressive metal category, but it isn’t an album that sounds like it could have been recorded in the 1980s. Rather, A Self’s music is relevant to both progressive metal and alternative metal. Their material draws on classic prog influences such as King Crimson, Genesis and Pink Floyd, but they also have direct or indirect alternative influences that include Tool, Neurosis, the Deftones, U2 and Nirvana. Unlike all the prog-metal bands that are so 80s-sounding, this Canadian outfit doesn’t have an overt power metal influence.
A Self are aggressive, loud, and forceful (this is metal, after all), but they are also melodic, nuanced, intricate and musical. This album never becomes an exercise in bombast for the sake of bombast or brutality for the sake of brutality. And A Self’s melodies are often moody, dark and haunting. The brooding on “Myopia,” “Sandpaper and Skin,” “Fallen Ones” and “Artecz” makes it clear that A Self are well aware of Pink Floyd and King Crimson. Listen to “The Mountain,” “River of Dead” or “Saturn’s Return” right after playing Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon or King Crimson’s In the Court of the Crimson King, and it is easy to see how much inspiration A Self get from 1960s and 70s progressive rock. But that awareness of prog rock legends doesn’t mean that A Self sacrifice the metal component. There is no shortage of metallic crunch on this album. Tracks like “Myopia” and “Fontanel” thrive on melody, but they also rock hard. That said, A Self are not the type of metalheads who go out of their way to be as punishing or as abrasive as possible.
People who have a limited knowledge of progressive metal have a tendency to compare any prog-metal band that comes along to Dream Theater. but not once on this album do A Self sound like they are actually trying to emulate Dream Theater. Again, the alternative component is an integral part of what A Self do. So while Dream Theater clones will have shiny 1980s-like guitars, A Self bring down-tuned alternative guitars to this album. And while the Dream Theater clones sound like they are stuck in rock’s pre-Nevermind era, A Self gladly bring some Nirvana-ish outbursts to “Fallen Ones” and an awareness of Tool to “Angra Mainyu” and “Deafened by Silence.” Dream Theater clones show no awareness of the Deftones; A Self, however, have been influenced by the Deftones (among many others).
This self-titled album is not easy to absorb on the first listen. A Self offers complex songs that, in true prog fashion, have a lot of twists and turns. Anyone who insists on always getting the quick fix from music probably wouldn’t have the patience to give A Self a chance. But for those who don’t have a painfully short attention span, A Self‘s material is worth exploring. While this album falls short of exceptional, it is a decent listen from this Canadian prog-metal/alt-metal combo.
Review by Alex Henderson
Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)
Artist: A Self Album: A Self Review by Alec Cunningham
Four-person rock group A Self has created a sturdy foothold for themselves in the music industry with their debut self-titled album. A Self is a 14-song progressive rock album that any metal, rock, or hard rock fan could enjoy. With even just one play of any song off of the album, you can’t help but recognize the similarities between the band and Tool. A Self’s soft, yet powerful, reverberant guitar chords and open song structure make the two bands’ music very similar. Following along the same Tool-esque patterns, A Self’s drawn out guitar and drum solos create songs that are perhaps a bit longer than necessary, but that are still nonetheless very captivating.
“Fontanel,” the first song off of A Self, begins with strong, fast-paced guitar that suggests that a heavy screamo album is soon to follow, but A Self surprises the listener with something a bit different. Although McNeil spouts out the lyrics of the first verse at a mile a minute, the chorus mellows out into a melodic sound and smoothes out even more during each following verse. In “Sandpaper and Skin,” while generally every end word in each line of lyrics is rhymed with the word that ends the next line, A Self accomplishes this in a way that makes the rhyme scheme almost imperceptible. When writing rhymes into their lyrics, artists run the risk of weakening the meaning they wish to convey. A Self, however, still manages to communicate the same strength of writing within both their songs that rhyme and the ones that do not.
There is a clear talent being contributed to the album by each band member. McNeil is able to hold notes and flawlessly hit the high notes, low notes, and everything in between. Lesso
can go from slow drumming that keeps a beat to high-speed, eclectic patterns within just a few seconds. Jacob Doyle offers any and every guitar pattern, chord, or riff thrown his way, and brother Aaron Doyle holds each song together with the bass. “River of Dead” is a spoken word track with a semi-techno, repetitive, pulsating background beat. The song talks of a military takeover where nightclubs supply alibis to kids who go out to beat up Pakistanis and blacks. The kids, however, have no recollection of what has occurred. The speaker says that the youth only remember the good things that have happened, and that “it’s only when somebody gets hurt that somebody remembers something eventually.”
At just 25 seconds, “The Herd” is the shortest song and the second of the three instrumentals heard on A Self. Sheep sounds are audible throughout “The Herd,” which accelerates towards the end, giving a perfect intro into “Angra Mainyu,” a hefty song roughly 6 minutes in length. Angra Mainyu is a term used in Zoroastrian scripture meaning “destructive spirit.” The song talks of subjects such as grief, pain, lust, lies, and “tides of emotion.”
A Self is an album that has to actually be thoroughly listened to in order to catch all of the lyrics. The continuous references to different elements throughout nature in the album are a refreshing
variation from most of today’s rock albums. Becoming one with your inner self, spirituality, mountains, Saturn, and sacred items are just some of the topics covered in the album. Melodic tunes, inspired lyrics, and a talented range of musicians are all brought to the table with A Self. If A Self keeps up with their current sound on their future albums, a bright future is in store for the band and their listeners.
Review by Alec Cunningham Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
In all our cases of "love" our own "thorns" are worn away, over time, through the struggles of wanting to make it work. Conscious effort of our own will wear the thorns down faster. There is no meant to be. We decide. It's a fine balance. The key is finding another half at the same place as you, ready to do the same work. If either parts of the relationship is not ready to do the same work as the other, it becomes an imbalance. At this point we either compromise and hope the other will come around or we move on. The question is how long do we maintain an imbalanced relationship? What kind of work do we need to do on our self to help the relationship to shine? We are all a gift to each other family and friends. Together we are the process needed in the unfolding of "the self", "the bloom". Ode to Haley
Every moment is a miracle. We just need to harness our truest perspective to perceive its realness. Through symbols and genuine spontaneous expression we remind ourselves and our connection to life is triggered. In these moments we are stirred at our spark, granting ourselves access to cross into divine eyes for a glimpse. If we were allowed to occupy the divine in moments of weakness we would taint the well. It is in the truth of honesty and innocence the flaming swords drop. With a bungee cord on our back we run past the threshold into the other side. Once across we take a deep breath until ripped back into this realm for the exhale, a gift to the world, each time bringing us a little closer to a collective heaven. The wound is mending. The walls are burning. Get your fucking sledge hammers ready to smash them down. Rebuild, rebuild! John Jolly Jewels
Undertones of gloom sprawled out like webs of a spider.Internally liberated, the nets glide on the birth of inspiration, angled just right to capture wings on first flight.Tangled brittle structures on the verge of rupture.An itch once scratched into the bleed cries from beneath it's scarlet red pool.It's breath causing molten lava to cool into healing.A seed born from a spark has been planted in the iris where visions of torture were once consumed.New life begins to take root, shoots of tyranny unleash their swords, preparing for battle.Roots like vines intersect and unite, gathering at the hearts center.Fountain of youth preparing the unripened void, calling forth from it a new fruit.From the withered core emerges shoots of new life blooming stars from the tempering shade.From a time of a scared shadowed past we have arrived here in our sacred at last.We shall cast forth this new day, it will be here to stay. Nathan
We have all been herded into these cities. Lost wars by our ancestors, we have been broken, beaten down into submission. Now we are glamored and subdued by glossy High Definition televised tube lube. Sweets to satisfies, keeping a potent leveled mind high in the sky to strung out to let go and say goodbye to their lollipop lies. Deep inside, if quite enough, we hear our cries yearning for us to kick this shit hole into it's own gaze. Let it dazzle itself into an eternal hypnotic trace, far away from our glorious eyes. We are dancing into a day where we are no longer the pray. We are the grandeur of the sun on a quest towards the one and everything, ourselves. Onward into the within John Jolly Jewels
Being grateful for what good we have in our lives does not mean that we have to stop growing into something bigger and grander. It just means that we are thankful for our achievements and hard work leading us to now. From here we grow out into whatever we choose. There are no limitations, just decide and become. N
I love fact that we are predicable. Lets stroll to the mall all day and buy, buy, buy, then off to the Rodeo Cineplex Odeoneo we go. One more round, let these images burn my my minds eye till I die, numb the glum so I won't cry. Teletune me into another of the multi-persona's set out by my star-staged deranged role models. Let me call out to them, take me, take me, make me one of you. Let me mimic you. I love you. If my friends don't know of you. I will be cool, cool enough because of you. They will look up to me and I will carry on your legacy. I am your voice. They will eventually all become just like us until we all forget our true face, that's ok. On this day we celebrate in a crowd of dancing empty vessels, and you know what? they will be there to shoot it, on film I mean, we will all be in a movie, you will see, you and me staring at ourselves on screen, all stars in a movie! yayyyyyyy John Jolly Jewels
It's ok to be mad! It's not negative to be angry! Are you happy, really? Express it! Let it out! Expand and fucking explode into your grand unrestricted self. Limitations are only walls if believe in them. Step beyond the line and express even just a little at a time. Eventually we will see there are many feeling this way. The voice is like thread reaching out, eventually it will find other voices striving to weave a canvas that will express an image of life where we are everything we can be with out restriction. This life is yours, ours to shine! Let it out, explode, bam!
Constructive anger is like adding sugar to hot water, a little coco and bam, hot fucking chocolate. Yes sir. I will word it better, hot chocolate is the new ok...! My point is if you are not happy with your present situation let it out. A little destruction is needed to tare down to rebuild. We need a new system. We need to express our irritation for change to take place. Feeling a little angry is like a fire under the ass to get us moving.Go make some hot chocolate with love. JJJ