The best thing about reviewing it the fact that we, as reviewers, need to step outside of our comfort zone every once in a while and review something we might not necessarily like. For me, that would be extreme death metal (which thankfully this album is not!) or an album full of instrumental tracks. This album is the latter.
I have never been a fan of instrumental songs, never really seeing much point in them really. In my experience, most people who listen to music want something to sing along to, something they can really get their mouth around, so to speak, and this is not something you can do with an instrumental. As a result I have never really been a fan of the greats such as Joe Satriani or Steve Vai (I know, I know, shoot me now!) BUT, as I said, I have to break my boundaries once in a while and so I thought why not give this one a go?
Northern Lines were officially formed at the end of 2012 although the three members have worked together in one form or another since 2008. Hailing from Rome, Italy they all had a “necessity to have free musical space, free from trending patterns, with their roots solidly anchored in the 1970’s.” They are probably best described as progressive rock, although personally I hate the way bands have to be pigeon-holed into one genre or another, and have cited their influences to include Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, The Aristocrats and Rush.
May/June 2016 saw the band enter the Music Up Recording Studio in Rome to begin recording their second album and “The Fearmonger” is the result, released under Metal Message Global PR in January 2017.
The album is a concept album where death is the leading theme – “a death seen through the eyes of fear, a paralysing emotion but of surprising effect nonetheless” – and is just over 48 minutes of completely instrumental music, interspersed with what sounds like Italian spoken word.
It encompasses classic patterns and riffs, albeit with odd time signatures at times, changes of tempo and style, all with a hard rock approach and incorporates sounds of classic metal and progressive rock but also with a bit of funk, blues and jazz thrown in for good measure. One minute you are listening to the full on riffs of the opening track “Mast Cell Disorder” and the next, the album is closing with the Floyd-esque “Most People are Dead” and there is everything in between.
No track sounds the same and this album really does feel like it is taking you on a journey, proving just how powerful instruments can be. Not only do words convey meaning and emotion, but music does too, and every one of these tracks is brimming with feeling and emotion.
As I mentioned at the start of this review, I was not altogether too keen on instrumentals so could this be the album that changes my opinion of them? I wouldn’t say I was a complete convert now but “The Fearmonger” is probably a good place to start. I did think when I first popped the usb into my car and listened to it for the first time that this would probably be the one and only time I played it. But after a few run throughs I’m not so sure. Sometimes no words are needed!
I hope to hear a lot more from this Roman trio and think they have a LOT to offer the world of progressive rock and metal.
1. Mast Cell Disorder
2. Session 1
5. Session 2
6. Machine Man
9. Towards The End
10. Apathy Fields
11. Most People Are Dead
Originally posted on Ever Metal
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