Moonlight Prophecy – Heat Lightning Review

GenreProgressive Metal/Shred
Release Date19 July 2019
Record LabelIndependent

I’m usually not a huge fan of one-man show albums (like Devin Townsend, for example). They always seem to have something missing from them. One of the most important elements of a successful band is the heart that each different member brings that, even through studio recordings, makes its way into the music so that you can sense a real connection and cohesion from the band. And more often than not, one-man projects lack this heart.

That being said, Moonlight Prophecy’s latest EP, Heat Lightning, is a damn fine piece of instrumental shred. It isn’t entirely a one-man show (as there is a bassist), but everything else is covered by multi-instrumentalist Lawrence Wallace. Its arrangements are lively, the drums are killer, and the shredding is, well, as shredded as Shreddies that have been in the bowl for too long. While there isn’t a whole lot of variety covered within its four tracks, but there’s enough variability to make it a really fun listen.

If there’s one area that Moonlight Prophecy suffers, it’s in the melody department. A lot of the space between solos is filled by repeated arpeggiations and the lead guitar doesn’t show a lot of restraint or tastefulness (which are he marks of an excellent shred album), except for the last half of ‘The Magic Carpet’, which shows both of these things very well.

And don’t even get me started on that fucking album artwork. God damn. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen worse; it looks like something an edgy 14-year-old would make on Microsoft Paint to promote his shitty YouTube channel. It’s so bad that it actually pains and amuses me all at once, so, while it has absolutely no bearing on the score, it should actually garner some bonus points, if anything.

Anyway, if you’re into five minutes of straight facemelting (or seventeen, if you tackle it all at once), this album kicks all sorts of ass. There are some really sick licks about a minute into ‘Oddities’ and ‘Heat Lightning’ carries some marks of late-2000s John 5. And ‘The Magic Carpet’ is just fucking insanity in its first half. Additionally, as I mentioned before, the drumming is right on par with the fury of the guitars, so there’s plenty to enjoy upon consecutive listens.

Any fan of guitar feature albums, and especially of Steve Vai and John 5, should give Heat Lightning a spin. Actually, make sure to check out some of Moonlight Prophecy’s older material, too, because this EP isn’t even the best.

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Constantine – Aftermath Review

Release Date31 May 2019
Record LabelRockshots

If ever there was an album that I was full-out wrong about what to expect, it’d be Aftermath. The second solo album from Greek guitarist Constantine Kotzamanis, it initially appeared as though it was going to be another instrumental shred album, due to the first single, ‘Bushido’. Shortly after I heard it, though, I learned that it was actually going to be a feature album with various guest vocalists. That was no issue for me, though, because I knew that Constantine is more than just an excellent guitarist. I figured he’d write a cool, energetic album with tasteful guitar parts and everything would fall into place.

And that’s where I was wrong. Rather than a proggy metal album with sick grooves and powerful melodies at the forefront, we got a borderline alt-metal album that’s, in all honesty, pretty generic and straightforward. Despite working with the likes of ex-Firewind vocalist Apollo Papathanasio, Ralf Scheepers of Primal Fear, and Soilworks Bjorn Strid, Aftermath ends up being underwhelming and disappointing.

Aside from the phenomenal opener, ‘Bushido’, the guitars (and rhythm parts, for that matter) are actually quite tame. There are some fantastic solos, like the ones in ‘Hellfire Club’ and ‘Another Day’, and the band’s performances are okay, but there nothing that steals the show. The tracks are simplex and don’t have a whole lot of meat on them, and a couple were actually sappy to the point of annoying me.

Having been a fan of Constantine for some time, I feel as though he’s cheated himself in this one; by no means do I think he’s incapable of playing anything other than instrumentals, but I think the route he went with this album doesn’t complement his strengths in the slightest. Aftermath lacks the memorability, technical skill, and passion that Constantine displayed so easily in his debut.

Constantine – Press on Regardless (Rockshots)

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Torben Enevoldsen – 5.1 Review

Release Date11 Jan 2019
Record LabelPerris

Having had a fairly successful solo career and a handful of side projects, Danish guitarist Torben Enevoldsen has released a fifth addition to his solo project: 5.1. 5.1 is all instrumental, like the rest of Enevoldsen’s solo releases, and often sounds like he just ripped off Jeff Beck’s arms and used those (which is especially apparent in the funky ‘Say What’).

Guitar feature albums are always a difficult endeavour. Oftentimes the record ends up being nothing but a big guitar solo, with endless shredding and a lack of melody or tasteful phrasing. It’s also tough to strike a balance between the lead guitar and rhythm section; the guitarist could be the most talented musician on the planet, but, if the rhythm section is weak, it could kill the entire setup.

Enevoldsen’s playing is exquisite. His melodies are smooth and lively and his phrases flow like water. His playing style is far closer to jazz fusion than metal. On the flip-side, his fast, chugging solos would give many metal guitarists a run for their money. The balance of the guitar playing couldn’t be better.

One issue I have with the album, however, is the rhythm section in the first and last thirds of the album. In the first four tracks, there isn’t much going on besides the straight beat. There is a clear pickup in ‘Inside Out’ (which is also the most metal-sounding track on the album) that carries on through the next four songs and into ‘Hangar 84’. ‘Hangar 84’ is undoubtedly the best song on the album. The proggy staccato intro is remarkable and the rest of the song is full of energy from the entire band. The rhythm section then simmers back down in the final four tracks.

That may seem like a nitpicky complaint for a feature album, but for a release from an artist of such caliber as Torben Enevoldsen, I don’t think it’s too much to expect a bit more colour in the background.

The only other aspect I don’t like about 5.1 is that half the songs conclude by fading out. That drives me insane. I think it’s just lazy songwriting, but maybe I’m missing something. Write a damn ending; it won’t kill you.

It’s safe to say that Torben Enevoldsen’s 5.1 is a phenomenal display of guitar shredding. Despite it’s flaws, the album is quite enjoyable and will likely have you coming back for another taste.

Torben Enevoldsen – Hangar 84 (Perris Records)

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