Symphonic Masterpiece: ‘Castaway’ by Mirratal

Earlier this year, we introduced you to Mirratal, a symphonic metal band from The Ukraine. Their lead single, “Abyss of Lunacy,” left us all wanting to hear more from the rockers.

The wait is over as Mirratal released their debut full length album on January 30th. Castaway is a polished musical adventure that will sweep you away on a mystical journey, searching for hope and purpose.

After kicking things off in a big way with “Abyss of Lunacy,” the sound gets even bigger and fuller with “Poison.” As a brass musician, I have profound appreciation for a well-balanced mix that is thick and heavy in the bass and percussion and blends to the upper ranges. Castaway does not lack in echoing percussion reminiscent of something heard attending The Philharmonic Symphony in New York.

“Timeless Sea” is a song of reflection, opening with Andril Pavlenko on the keyboard with what sounds much like an oboe playing a mysterious but lovely tune. After a spoken word completes the introduction softly, this rocker explodes into a full-on shred fest in the chorus, featuring lead singer Igor Roshenets demonstrating his rangy vocal chops. The title track features a majestic instrumental that would fill a concert hall, while continuing to fire on all cylinders with driving guitars and synthetic keys.

Not only is the music magnificent, but the message is equally powerful throughout this collection of 10 tracks filled with themes of hope and freedom. “Find Your Name” plays like a metalcore track featuring Katrina Kapshuk opening the song with powerful vocals before being joined for a duet on the bridge and chorus by Roshenets. This song is about overcoming depression and believing in hope.

“After years of darkness, rising sun will shine upon your back”

As the album continues, it seems to get heavier and more dissonant. “Distinguished Phrases” is a frenetic headbanger featuring drummer Sergiy Ivanov skillfully tending to his craft, pushing the pace with plenty of snare drum. “Mystery” invokes sensations of sitting in a rock opera on Broadway, as it tells a story of searching high and low for answers.

“With emptiness inside your soul
You’ll go around the world
To find a mystery”

“Run” immediately brought back memories of watching the entrance of former WWE wrestler The Undertaker. Cue the pyrotechnics as the band sings about the competing concepts of doomsday and hope. The onset of minor chords seem to fit the feeling of unsettledness looming over this song.

“Sounds” is a triumphant song ultimately leading into an impressive instrumental bonus track, “The Wind,” which I would challenge any marching band to take on next fall.

With their full length debut, Mirratal does not disappoint fans of powerful and skillful musicianship while telling stories of hope, love and seeking. Castaway is a masterful collection of songs that will deliver for expectant listeners.

Find Castaway on Spotify and iTunes.

Related Artists: Trans Siberian Orchestra, RED, The Philharmonic Orchestra

August Burns Red Announces Constellations Tour With Silent Planet

Pennsylvania native hard rock outfit August Burns Red (ABR) announced today that they will be heading out on a 10 year anniversary tour commemorating their third album, Constellations, which was released in 2009.

Joining them on tour will be heavy metal band Silent Planet and Canadian rockers Silverstein.

Silent Planet shared the tour dates in a post on social media, saying “Stoked to let you know that we are going to be ripping some gigs alongside August Burns Red.”

The 10 Years of Constellations tour will kick off in Lancaster, PA, the hometown of ABR, on June 20 and will crisscross the United States and Canada while hitting over 40 cities before ending in the Big Apple of New York City on August 11.

Silent Planet, perhaps best known for their story telling depth and thematic projects, recently released When The End Began, their third full length project.

For tour information and to see a complete list of dates and cities, visit the official website of August Burns Red.  Keep up with Silent Planet by visiting them at silentplanetmerch.com. Learn more about Silverstein, named after the famous children’s author Shel Silverstein, by visiting their website.

The Grizzly Awards Set to be the Industry’s First All-Rock Awards

The Grizzly Awards is preparing for a 2019 launch as the Christian music industry’s first all-rock awards. The Grizzly Awards are being produced by a partnership of professionals with wide range of industry experience, all passionate about covering the longstanding gap left by heavy music’s exclusion from most major awards.

The Grizzly Awards seeks to celebrate the innovation, excellence, and spiritual impact of rock and metal community members at every level of the creative process: on the stage, in the studio, and behind the scenes. In the true spirit of rock and roll, we recognize talent and purpose-driven hearts wherever they are found— not just within the approved delineations of major label rosters and radio airplay.

Beyond simply awarding the few, The Grizzly Awards exists to unify the Christian rock community as a whole, fostering connection, community, and the pursuit of excellence. This means inviting listeners into the process at every level, extending the opportunity to be a part of investing in a movement to strengthen a genre that has often been overlooked and under-resourced.

The Grizzly Awards commits to operating at all levels with a foundational commitment to the Gospel, adhering to an unwavering belief that Jesus Christ changes and saves lives. This belief is the ultimate impetus for building an event supporting songs that are a unique tool for communicating that message of redemption.

Join the movement. Find us for more news as it develops on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Coming Home: ‘Native Tongue’ by Switchfoot

Certain bands, certain songs, have the ability to capture something transcendent: a spiritual language that takes listeners past themselves into something shared, something that anchors us in the eternal. Few bands possess the ability to invite listeners into that place quite like Switchfoot.

Their history includes offering us sing along hits like “Meant to Live,” “Dare You to Move,” and more recently “Love Alone is Worth the Fight” and “Live it Well.” With ten albums and two decades of musical and philanthropic work behind them, 2018 saw Switchfoot pressing pause. They stepped away from the relentless pace of the road, digging deep into the roots of why they’re doing what they do. With Native Tongue, they have emerged reborn.

We’ve seen something similar once before in Switchfoot’s discography. After Hello Hurricane was essentially a deconstruction of what it meant to be Switchfoot, Vice Verses came back swinging. 2018’s year on pause has seemed to serve as a similar reevaluation for the five band members, with Native Tongue carrying the same kind of punchy assertiveness that marked Vice Verses.

But make no mistake: the songs on this album are not repeating anything Switchfoot has sung before. Listeners might have suspected that would be the case following the release of the thundering anthem “Native Tongue.” Beyond simply setting the bar for the kind of energy you’ll feel throughout the album, it also lays out the thesis statement: “love’s the language, love is your native tongue.”

The heavy emphasis on Chad Butler’s percussion and Tim Foreman’s bass on both the title track and other pre-released cuts like “Voices” once again remind a little of Vice Verses, but that only scratches the surface of what this album has to offer. “All I Need” is a poppy, sunny ride through finger snaps and a whimsical melody declaring dependence on love as a sustaining force. Smooth “The Strength to Let Go” soars through the joy of soul-deep surrender to a compassionate Maker. “Oxygen” is wistful and aching as it leans on slide guitar as well as acoustic to paint a scene of distance in a relationship, seeking resolution.

With fourteen tracks, Switchfoot had a lot of ground to explore on Native Tongue— and more than just territory to stake down, this space feel like a musical playground. Every member of the band is firmly rooted in exceptional skill, and through the course of this album each musician gets space to express their unique craftsmanship. “Take My Fire” is an absolute celebration of the guitar tone mastery offered by Drew Shirley, providing a delightful dose of riffs for those who enjoy a straightforward rock-and-roll tune. Jerome Fontamillas’ keyboard and programming expertise is formidable on “The Hardest Art,” which manages to be both a departure from standard Switchfoot sound and also one of the strongest tracks on the album. Featuring ethereal guest vocals from Kaela Sinclair, the song summarizes the core tension of Switchfoot’s entire body of work:

Maybe I’m the only one
But it feels like love is the hardest art to learn…
Love is surrender.”

As mentioned earlier, the refrain of “Native Tongue” truly is the root system this album grows from. But that theme of love as our truest self is approached in part through knowing what it is to be detached from that way of being. “Prodigal Soul” wanders through a raw, folk-leaning sonicscape as Jon Foreman poignantly confesses “I’m a prodigal soul, and I want to come home.

That longing to be at home, settled into the rhythms of a love lived and expressed, will be what pierces to the core of listeners. We are invited to participate in that longing– a longing each of us likely already knows well. “Joy Invincible” feels like a tune wrestled from the heart of any one of us in moments of tragedy and shock, fighting to be rooted in that limitless love: “Hallelujah nevertheless was the song the pain couldn’t destroy. Hallelujah nevertheless, you’re my joy invincible.”

Musically, Native Tongue is easily the most diverse album Switchfoot has ever released. From funky spiritual “Dig New Streams” to earnest rocker “Let it Happen” to closing tender love song “You’re The One I Want,” there is a delightful fearlessness in the range of sounds.

But the defining momentum of this era of Switchfoot is a magnetic draw towards divine love. This unbreakable thread has always sewn together the whole of the band’s discography, but the careful process of sifting through distractions in pursuit of foundational truth has distilled it in its purest form yet.

The joy saturating Native Tongue feels like an act of resistance. The call to participate in and come home to a love that outlasts our self-distraction and regrets will reverberate long beyond the album’s end.

Find Native Tongue on Spotify and iTunes.

Veridia Launches Fragrance to Go Along With Single ‘Perfume’

Veridia concludes a busy 2018– a year in which they released The Beast You Feed and were nominated for a We Love Award for Pop Album of the Year-– by unveiling their own signature perfume.

In a post on social media last week, lead singer Deena Jakoub announced a fragrance to go along with the themed song, saying “we couldn’t release a song called ‘Perfume’ without launching a signature fragrance to go along with it!”

The perfume is limited in availability, hand-mixed by Deena and comes with a t-shirt inspired by the song (which you can find on iTunes and Spotify). Jakoub added, “I made this blend after being introduced to aromatherapy by friends and family, and these 3 essential oils have lifted me through some very difficult times. It’s like a hot cup of spiced Earl Grey tea with cream to fend off the winter blues!”

Pre-order the special and limited edition fragrance by visiting the Veridia webstore.  Keep up with the band by following them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

Underoath and Anberlin Collaborate on Coffee

In advance of the upcoming show that will serve as Anberlin’s first reunion since their 2014 disbandment, Anberlin and Underoath are partnering to offer a holiday line of coffee.

Anberlin drummer Nate Young and Underoath guitarist Tim McTague have partnered on King State, a company that offers coffee and beer, since both groups initially disbanded around the same time. Their new holiday line is branded with Underoath’s imaging and features a mug and a Colombian roast.

Sharing about the coffee, McTague said “we have been drinking it on the bus every tour since Rebirth… It’s awesome to see both of our worlds colliding in such a rad way. From the branding down to the product it’s a family affair and we hope you enjoy it!”

Anberlin’s reunion show will take place as an addition to Underoath’s current tour on December 14 in Tampa Bay. Tickets are available here. For more from King State, visit them at king-state.com.

Thrice Drops New Music Video And News of Bring Me The Horizon Tour

It’s already been a busy news week for Thrice, who dropped a new music video and announced that they’ll be supporting Bring Me The Horizon for a run of shows early next year.

The new unsettling summer camp music video is for “Only Us” from their stunning exploration of unity, humanity and spirituality, Palms. 

The full list of tour dates supporting Bring Me The Horizon is also available now at thrice.net. The winter dates cover major cities like Nashville, Dallas, Chicago and New York. Tickets are available now. The news dropped the day after Thrice lead singer and lyricist Dustin Kensrue celebrated his birthday.

For more from Thrice as they close off a milestone year, follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Relient K Releases Vinyl Live Album from Looking for America Tour

Today Relient K announced a special pressing of a live album, recorded on the Looking for America tour with Switchfoot in the fall of 2016. At this point, the album is only available on vinyl through the SMLXL Vinyl store.

Multiple different merchandise packages are available with the vinyl, including a hat, compass carabineer and patch. All of the items are designed to prominently feature the white buffalo that Relient K has famously placed on stage (and sent out crowd surfing) during their concerts.

This special live album also features the live performance of “Death Bed” with Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman singing his guest vocal, an iconic moment for fans of both bands. The track list is nine songs long in total:

Side A
Bummin’
High of 75
Don’t Blink
Runnin’
Sahara

Side B
Air for Free
Mrs. Hippopotamuses
Mood Rings
Deathbed (Featuring Jon Foreman)

You can choose your vinly package on SMLX Vinyl by clicking here. Follow Relient K on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for further word on if we can expect a digital release of the album.

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