Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 29

Sometimes as much as you want to have the experience that everyone else is having with a band’s album, you just don’t hear it.  It can certainly be the vocal, the style, or even the lyrics and how it reaches you in audio and emotionally.  Other times it can be how an instrument within the structure of the song is violating your sense of sound.  Finally, it can be your mood, your position in life that day that dictates how you are listening, the environment around you, as well as the type of music you should be listening to that day, versus what you have attempted.  It’s not complicated, and it is completely understandable, natural, and honestly, it is what I love about having panelists on the shows.  Today, on Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 29, I had intentions of going at three albums that I was feverishly interested in listening to, but to be honest with you — it was not the mood nor time for me to take them on.  It doesn’t mean they’re not going to be reviewed here on Album Review Saturdays — just not today.  And, I am not going to divulge those records, until my actual review.  What I am going to divulge is my mood and how these three albums fit perfectly within my current state (whether that’s mind, body, or soul — or all, that’s a private matter I guess).  Let’s let the albums out!


(Featuring two additional album reviews)


La Chinga – Primal Forces

First of all, when Ripple Music‘s stoner, psychedelic doom, metal minions of the social media get pumped about vinyl, I’m all ears (well, I guess technically I’m all eyes, looking at their posts and pictures).  Do I ever look and go “I don’t think so,” when I see it?  No.  I don’t have that luxury in my position as a music obsessed, try it all, talk about it all, manic in search of the next greatest record that will dominate my ears for years to come.  It’s just a question of whether I chose to move it up the ever-growing, insanely long list (that list is comprised of digital lists and piles of CDs, and in special cases, Vinyl).  La Chinga’s Primal Forces was instantly moved up the list when it popped into my collection (yes, I’m a Ripple subscriber, for wickedly obvious reasons, but they made me a musical offer I couldn’t refuse).  The posts, their name, the cover, and the emojis that followed the text roped me in!

Primal Forces is an old-school hard rock, slammer, busting at the seams with glam-metal and relentless pacing!  You’ve got this Scorpions, AC/DC, and Guns n’ Roses vocal delivery with that hard rock late 80’s style and sensibility that’s not afraid of anything, reaching for whatever the band can.  They spare no guitar riffing space, metal scream, bass thump, and raspy moment to rough-house each blistering track!  They call to the wild, they yell for the witches, and ride off to thunderous ruckus and riot stirring drumming!  They serve up delicious solo guitar, stunning grooves and harmony, too, so you don’t forget the roots of rock and roll and blues they display at warp speed!  It’s so primal, and you will not be able to deny the force of any of it!  By the time they’re done, you’ve realized; (1) The vocalist can bring it!  (2) The band is no joke!  And, (3) You’re really sweaty from air guitaring and drumming along with them!  If only there was a La Chinga Mosh Pit nearby…horns in the air — both hands!

The Band

  • Carl Speckler – Lead Vocal and bass
  • Ben Yardley – Guitar
  • Jay Solyon – Drummer

Primal Forces Tracklisting

  1. Light It Up
  2. Ride The Dragon
  3. Bolt of Lightning
  4. Backs To The Wall
  5. Witch’s Heart
  6. The Call
  7. Stars Fall From The Sky
  8. Electric Eliminator
  9. Rings of Power
  10. Motor Boogie


Steven WilsonThe Harmony Codex

Steven Wilson is in elite status in the music multiverse.  He is probably one of the most coveted producers and resurrectors of remastering at a level of suuuuper genius.  Then he’s got fantastic progressive band, Porcupine Tree, that he’s been leader and chief orchestrator of, as well as Blackfield, No-Man, and probably other’s I’m forgetting at the moment that I’ve indulged in knowing how good and diverse his ear for music is in mood, styles, and genre manipulation.  Producer and/or Mixing (studio involvement/great ear); Steve Hackett, Jethro Tull, King Crimson, Gentle Giant,  Tech N9ne, and Ian Anderson to name some.  Yes, he even contributes artwork, too.  I’ll let you look that up on your own.  When you dive into a Steven Wilson solo project, I believe you’re jumping in with him, ready to swim without an understanding of the water’s temperature, weather, and direction.  Which is very, kind of, cool, if you really think about it.

The Harmony Codex is such an experience!  Now, I’m not a Tom Hank, too long on the Island, obsessive with Wilson, but I can certainly understand, appreciate, and suck in the sounds that this specialist of audio perception is puttin’ down!  This album is a  magical, impressive deep swim from a lovely lake like calm exuded by the tempered electronica feelings, and then swelling gorgeous humpback like rolling waves from the bass and jazz tempests that arrive, and then the consistency in the groove that moves us from the lake, to the ocean, or even a raging river.  You swim, though, and while you might panic a smidge, you ears keep you holding on to that life-raft, driftwood, or doggie-paddling to the various voices (including that of Steven Wilson) that call out to you from the shore, or the ethereal.

I’m not going to get into the possibility of this being a conceptual record, because I believe anything he does has a conceptual design and musical storytelling grip, or in some cases strange stranglehold.  A journey, goddamnit!  One of the most beautifully produced journeys this year without a doubt.  The harmony, while not always how you expect harmony to be, is gorgeous, intriguing, devouring and in some cases soothing and enlightening.  This album has the right amount of everything his progressive ear can encompass and pass on to the listener.  It sounds amazing!  There is a voice in the lead track that is more than half-way through the album that states, “I came here searching for something,” and that timing is important, as the rest of the record assures you that the search, the struggle, the moments are all part of a fantastical audio journey.  There’s piano jazz against electronic mood and bass, and progressive lyrical delivery, and then ‘Actual Brutal Thoughts‘ brings in the darker aggressive harmonics and fearfulness, attempting to pull away, leading to the ‘Staircase’ finale that brings in slow hand blues guitar and rich tempo without losing any momentum (maybe even Pink Floydian if you will).  I’m sure, too, that the more we listen to this — the closer The Harmony Code is going to come to audio perfection, but you need to be locked in and fearless, so keep that in mind and ear.

PS:  If you go all in on the Deluxe version you are in for some Harmonic Distortion on the second CD, and then an immersive Blu-Ray which could be mind-blowing, considering what we see on website!

The Band

  • Steven Wilson – Composer, vocals (tracks 1–6, 8–10), acoustic guitar (tracks 2–4, 8), ARP 2600 (tracks 1, 4, 7), audio feedback (track 9), bass guitar (tracks 3, 4, 7, 8, 10), celesta (track 8), Cobalt 8 synthesizer (tracks 4, 5, 7, 10), electric guitars (tracks 2, 4–6, 8, 9), electric piano (track 9), harp (tracks 4, 5), Hammond organ (tracks 2, 4, 10), horn (track 10). Mellotron (track 9), Moog Arpeggiator (track 10), Moog Sub 37 synthesizer (tracks 2, 4–9), percussion (tracks 2, 6), piano (all tracks), programming (tracks 1, 3, 4, 6, 8–10), Prophet-6 synthesizer (tracks 5, 7, 8), Rhodes piano (track 4), Solina Strings (tracks 2, 4, 6, 8–10 and track 9 on Harmonic Distortion), strings (tracks 3–7, 10), theremin (track 9 on Harmonic Distortion), voices (track 3)
  • Adam Holzman – Rhodes piano (tracks 1, 4, 7), piano (track 9), DFAM loops (track 10), Modular synthesizer (tracks 1, 3, 6), Moog synthesizer solo (track 10), Wurlitzer organ (track 5)
  • Ben Coleman – violin (track 4)
  • Craig Blundell – drums (tracks 2, 5, 6, 10), hi-hat (track 9), percussion (tracks 6, 9)
  • David Kollar – lead guitar (tracks 1, 9), ambient guitar (track 4)
  • David Kosten – programming (tracks 1, 10)
  • Guy Pratt – bass guitar (track 2)
  • Jack Dangers – electric beats (track 6), programming (track 9)
  • Jason Cooper – tom drum (track 6)
  • Lee Harris – psychedelic guitar (track 4)
  • Nate Wood – drums (track 4)
  • Nick Beggs – Chapman Stick (tracks 6, 10)
  • Niko Tsonev – guitars (tracks 1, 4, 10), lead guitar (tracks 5, 8, 10)
  • Nate Navarro – fretless bass (track 1), bass guitar (track 9)
  • Nils Petter Molvaer – trumpet (track 1)
  • Ninet Tayeb – vocals (track 5), guitars (track 5), backing vocals (tracks 1, 2)
  • Pat Mastelotto – drums (track 1), percussion (track 1)
  • Rotem Wilson – voices (tracks 7, 10)
  • Samuel Fogarino – drums (track 10)
  • Theo Travis – flute (track 1), saxophone (track 4), duduk (track 6)

The Harmony Codex Tracklisting

  1. Inclination
  2. What Life Brings
  3. Economies of Scale
  4. Impossible Tightrope
  5. Rock Bottom
  6. Beautiful Scarecrow
  7. The Harmony Codex
  8. Time is Running Out
  9. Actual Brutal Facts
  10. Staircase


Dopelord – Songs For Satan

I told you, I just was not in the right mood!  Bet you were not expecting this?  Let’s get the doom, sludge metal seeping in on all earbuds – Polish style!  Poland’s Dopelord, is easily plodding (not plotting people) fiendishly through the hooky dark maze of infinitely sludge metal blues with a sense of sick Sabbath purpose in more ways than one.  But, I don’t need to get all sacreligious to appreciate the amped up fuzz-drenched thrashing of angst trashes oppressiveness.  I liken this to a war.  Let’s start in literal sense, where in the past they went relentlessly into doomed battle against metal destructive machines without hope – obliterated foolishly.  Now they have garnished, polished and branded a metalic monster of their own to stomp their enemy at the gate.  Figuratively, sure they had some electric guitars and could play, but now they’ve found a horrific muse and angst to yield like a thunderous wall of sound at their oppressors and anyone in the front row without earplugs.

Songs For Satan is pure delightful, blistering sludge evil in delivery at every scale, note and lyric.  Are you damned listening to this, or are you damned it you don’t!?  Don’t find out.  Just put it on and get consumed if you’re in the wheelhouse of tormented Alice In Chains, monstrous Black Sabbath, and Earthless meets Acid Mammoth in rated-R Godzilla showdown.  Inevitably, when you get to ‘Worms’ you’ve lost all hope.  Cower or walk aimlessly into the vocal rapture and relentless rhythm of the non-repenting few that will survive.  Accept what’s coming like you did when Sleep Token unleashed the ‘Vore.‘  Oh, my, I’m slipping…where’s my John Mayer sedative? (I’m kidding, you can do this!  You will want to do this!  They don’t end the album there).

The Band

  • Paweł Mioduchowski – Guitars and Vocals
  • Piotr Ochociński – Drums
  • Grzegorz Pawłowski – Guitars
  • Piotr Zin – Bass, Vocals and Mellotron

Songs For Satan Tracklisting

  1. Intro
  2. Night of the Witch
  3. The Chosen One
  4. One Billion Skulls
  5. Evil Spell
  6. Worms
  7. Return to the Night of the Witch
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