Over the last few years, there has been a surge of instrumental bands that have changed the landscape of what you can do without vocals. Certain bands have come to the forefront of that and have released seminal albums that have a lasting impact. Caspian, is one of those bands. Through their career, they’ve released a wide spectrum of albums that have reached the heights of cinematic and grandiose rock with an accompaniment of thunderous rhythms and riffs galore that would can shatter glass. It’s been 5 years since their last album, the very highly regarded, Dust and Disquiet. Now, Caspian have unleashed one hell of an epic album with On Circles that, is one of the most captivating of their career. There’s an intimacy on this album that comes out more and more as you listen, while at the same time, there’s an immediacy to it that drives you to tune in closer and closer. On Circles, is Caspian at a creative height and pushing themselves to step out of their comfort zone even more, for example, on closing song “Circles On Circles,” guitarist Phillip Jamieson adds vocals to this very introspective song.
Hands down, Caspian have released the first great album of 2020. This album is definitely going to be talked about through the whole year, as it should be. It covers a wide range of elements the band has become known for and touches on new ground that doesn’t feel out of reach for their capabilities. Caspian are back and ready to set sail on one hell of a journey with this album.
Heavy music is my bread and butter. I can’t get enough of it. Doesn’t matter the genre or sub-genre, I dig it. Recently I came across a band that will be playing with Helms Alee at their upcoming Los Angeles show. This band is Andraus and they are fantastic. As a two piece of just drums and guitars, holy wow! When I was looking into the band more I read their bio and I have to agree with what they said the band sounds like. “If the Van Halen brothers grew up listening to Metallica, the Melvins, and, well, Van Halen, you have the sound of Andraus.” That couldn’t be more true. Their self titled EP is one hell of a record. There are so many wonderful moments on this record it’s hard to pinpoint just one. From the start of the EP with “Ignition” and all the songs in between like “Getaway,” “Beast Heart,” and closer “Passage To Hell,” you know that brothers Andrew and Austin Cox are the real deal. I personally can’t wait to see them with the great Helms Alee and another Los Angeles favorite Mustard Gas and Roses.
Being an instrumental band is quite an interesting choice. You have to make sure the music is top notch and evokes real feeling and passion from those playing it as well as the listener. I’ve written about a few instrumental bands that have really stood out, but there is one that has been around for quite a while that is extremely underrated, and that is Explosions in the Sky. This Texas based quartet formed in 1999 and has released seven albums. I personally have seen them 5 times over the years, mainly at festivals, and they were always “that” band that really stood out, even with huge headliners. In 2013, Explosions in the Sky was the opening act for Nine Inch Nails on their highly acclaimed Tension tour.
Through their career, Explosions in the Sky, have redefined what it is to be an instrumental band. Their live shows are experiences that leave you wowed and inspired. Their songs are soothing yet rooted in a heaviness that is pulsating and energizing. Explosions in the Sky are the type of band you can listen to at all hours of the day. They are the perfect band for when the sun is setting. I can attest to that, as the majority of times I’ve seen them at festivals has been as the sun was going down, making the experience of seeing them something really special.
If you haven’t really delved into Explosions in the Sky, I highly recommend you do. For those of you that are looking for “that” band to have as your calm band, they are perfect.
A while back I made the band Moving Structures the band of the week. During that time they were in the midst of working on their debut full length. Well it’s now out and it is tremendous. When you are an instrumental band, the ability to connect with listeners and invoke feeling without vocals and lyrics is not easy, but Moving Structures are one of the few bands I’ve heard to be able to do just that and then some. There is something truly remarkable about the melodies and tones that they use to get you to feel something more than usual. The power of not having vocals makes you think and delve deeper into your senses. The twelve songs on Moving Structures’s debut Awake, take you on a journey that allows the listener to grasp their intentions all the while making it something that transcends the genre. With bits of prog, ambience, and rock, Moving Structures have released an album that can become a new blueprint for instrumental bands to learn and expand upon.
Over the past few years I’ve really taken a liking to instrumental bands. There is something really intriguing about bands that can do it all musically without a singer. This weeks band of the week 1000 Suns falls into that realm of instrumental bands. 1000 Suns is a very inspired three piece that takes the instrumental game to another level. The bands use of effects, samples and electronics are used in a way that it enhances the sound. Since 2012, 1000 Suns have released two very intriguing and boundary pushing albums. Their songs range from moody pieces that transcend reality into something soothing, to epic and heavy songs that attack with tenacious riffs and arrangements. 1000 Suns are gearing writing for a new album release soon as well as enlightening audiences with their live show.
Instrumental bands have the ability to take you different places. The absence of lyrics and vocals allow the imagination to stretch further with no bounds. The weeks band of the week Beware Of Safety adds something a bit different to the instrumental rock landscape. Their new release MABON, is delicate and full of soothing sounds that gets away from the heavier side of things. The use of acoustic instruments and folk influences really helps to separate them from the pack. Since their formation in 2005, Beware Of Safety has released 5 other EP’s/Albums. These guys have the sound that allows listeners and fans of many genres to just sit back and enjoy. MABON is the right step this band. Check them out!
Nestled in Hudson Valley, New York is a three piece band called Dead Empires. These guys have a very deep heavy sound combined with the prowess of gentle melody.Their wide array of influences helps to create lush landscapes of sound, all the while pushing the boundaries of being a traditional instrumental band. Their new album Secret Snakes/ Silent Serpent, has everything a rock music fan would enjoy minus the vocals. I find myself coming up with lyrics and vocal melodies while listening to their album. From what I can tell from their videos online, they put on one hell of an energetic show and their love of the music shows through in all that they do. Dead Empires is alive and well, and on their way to making a name for themselves.