|Musical Style: Hard Rock||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Tate Music Group||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2014||Artist Website: Razorigami|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 85%|
|Running Time: 67:15|
Truths From Beyond The Machine takes vocalist Luke Richard Weber’s Razorigami project to new levels in both songwriting and musicianship. The Razorigami 2013 full-length debut Weathering The Winter Of The Soul was a solid work (75% Angelic Warlord review) in “(having) the appearance of an eighties metal and hard rock album” while also “(touching) upon classic metal, the power/progressive side of things and even some modern aspects”. The spring of 2014 released TFBTM, on the other hand, finds the artist settling into a groove and coming into his own musically with a seventies influenced throwback sound heavily rooted in acoustic laced classic rock, blues based hard rock and intricate progressive rock.
Yes, significant musical differences between the albums, but two things stand out in the process: 1) If you liked WTWOTS then you will love TFBTM despite the dissimilarities 2) TFBTM brings a musical upgrade similar to that made by Barren Cross and Bloodgood between their debut albums and sophomore releases Atomic Arena and Detonation, respectively. Razorigami, as a result, deserves to be every bit the household name.
It begins with the high octane and multifarious vocal abilities of Weber, whose strength resides in his ability to mix things up and do everything exceedingly well overall. He places emphasis on a foundation of the tough as nails and gritty mid-ranged, but when extending for a high note can highlight the heart and soul of Axl Rose (Guns N’ Roses) with ease. Conversely, he can also exudes smooth, rumbling muscle of a lower register variety in addition to touching upon the attitude and sass that Brian Johnson (AC/DC) and Rex Scott (X-Sinner) bring to the table. The upshot is how (as taken from the Angelic Warlord WTWOTS review) “he reflects the influences of many to create his own manifold style that can best be described as intense, impassioned and on the gut level side of things.”
Musically, everything that WTWOTS hinted at TFBTM delivers big time: Songs might be lengthier all around (by no means a bad thing) and more relaxed and laid-back (referencing the albums seventies influences) but takes the quality to the next level and then some. In no way does this diminish the debut, which was quite sound to begin with, but songwriting on TFBTM is much more deeply structured and creatively woven with stronger melodies throughout. One cannot help but feel the artist is hitting his stride with the better fit musically that lends to that coming into his own in question.
Opener “Walk Big” shines in this regard with its bluesy hard rock vibe and anthem-like guitars that hint of Sarepta. Likewise, “The Engines Of Faith” takes a similar heading with its staunch riff driven focus and resonate bass line as does “Saints Alive” in giving rise to a high-octane and adrenaline fueled sound that brings to mind AC/DC. “Hound Of Heaven” backs off the throttle somewhat in terms of energy but delivers results all the same in upholding a bluesy and groove drenched sound reminiscent to Bride.
A lighter classic rock feel presents itself on “Thorns”, a rousing boogie flavored rocker in which rollicking piano and hooks galore play prominent roles, and “Ballad Of A Broken Man”, calmer with rich acoustic flavorings and organ tinctures joining with a lengthy stretch of Southern flavored guitar harmonizing. “The Girl Inside” sustains the acoustic basis but in a mid-paced ballad friendly format reinforced by crisp rhythm guitars.
Best of the lot (or at the very least my favorite) is twenty minute progressive metal epic “Star Of David”. Epic and metal being the key words in that the song brings the creative penchant associated with the progressive genre while not backing from the needed guitar driven proclivity throughout. More than adequate melody allows “Star Of David” to hold up despite its length. In the end a song of the year candidate when also factoring lyrics that take a panoramic view of the Israelites and the state of Israel throughout history.
The only track to fall short is “Carpenter And Coming King”, another high energy rocker but lacking the inspirational and engaging qualities that make the albums better material standout. Not helping matters are lyrics that come across cheesy in comparing the Second Coming to a “holy smackdown”. It almost evokes cringe worthy images of TBN starting its own professional wresting program: “Welcome to Friday night Holy Smackdown!”
In my WTWOTS review, I complained about “how the album features little in the way of distinguishable lead guitar work; and what soloing there is fails to stand out as it should”. This, however, has been rectified on TFBTM in featuring top notch soloing galore, with much of it bluesy (“The Engines Of Faith”) but also searing (“Hound Of Heaven”) and metal based (“Star Of David”). Also, note the previously referenced Southern influences on “Ballad Of A Broken Man”. Bass work is competently done as well, as is demonstrated on “Hound Of Heaven” and “The Engines Of Faith”.
Lone problem, and similar to the debut, is that no reference is made to said musicians lending their talents to the album: “All instruments are courtesy of the gifted individuals at Big Fish Audio, who have requested not to be named” (as taken from the albums liner notes). I do not know whom these “masked men” are, but they give quite the good account of themselves! Cover artwork, at the same time, is an improvement, although I wish packaging had allowed room for the concisely done and forthright lyrics.
The quality production betters upon the debut, which was already very good to begin with (when factoring both are self-financed and independently released). It must be noted that TFBTM has been picked up for distribution by Tate Music Group.
I cannot help but be drawn to the TMBTM material. The variety at hand - ranging from, again, heavy duty rockers to lighter classic rock to the progressive side of things - finds the artist discovering his musical niche and hitting his stride accordingly. Vocally, he continues to prove one of the more exciting talents to hit the scene in recent years and complements himself with a well-versed group of musicians- whoever they might be. Hence, the previous noted reference to how Razorigami is taken to new levels in both songwriting and musicianship. As a result, I am truly excited about what Luke Richard Weber puts out in the future.
Track By Track
“Walk Big” starts to a rumbling bass line that soon merges with an anthem-like guitars and the artist gravelly mid-register vocal presence. The song exudes a ton of laid back bluesy swagger in marching ahead, merging understated catchiness (bordering on the commercial) with full on groove overtones that bring to mind early nineties Bride. A fitting stretch of bluesy lead guitar helps take “Walk Big” out to seven satisfying minutes. Lyric snippet:
Wisdom she cries out in the streets young man
Lend her your best ear
The path of the just is like the shining sun
Unto the perfect day
Take my advice and go seek out the Lord
A wealth of answers waiting in His Word
Walk straight and narrow whether near or far
The world it waits to see the man you are!
“Thorns” kicks up the tempo and takes a boogie based straight on rock heading. The song proves mirthful all the way, with radiant piano and gritty guitars maintaining the bluesy leanings as Weber exhibit the full upper register side to his voice instead. This one has 70’s influenced classic rock written all over it.
Maintaining the classic rock leanings, “Ballad Of A Broken Man” moves its (also satisfying) seven-minute length acoustically with hints of organ in the backdrop. Heartfelt, low-key and poignant are the words that come to mind as the songs approached ballad territory. The best part, however, is the emotional stretch of guitar harmonizing rooted in Southern rock aesthetics certain to turn the heads of Lynyrd Skynyrd fans in the process. Lyric snippet:
I know that my ways are not Your ways
Your thoughts are much higher than mine
So I guess it makes sense that I can't comprehend
What You'd see in a sinner like me
Is there a place for me in Your kingdom?
Somewhere that I belong?
Is there a seat for me at your table?
Some crumbs for this old dog?
Back to bluesy hard rock with “Engines Of Faith”. This one roots itself in a heavier edge but with an upbeat milieu, steadfast in its punctuating bass lines but accessible from the engaging focus of its catchy refrain. Yes, staunch and unwavering but hinting of the commercial as well (sort of like “Walk Big” in this aspect). More bluesy soloing helps put things over the top.
“Saints Alive” brings type of high-energy sound reminiscent to AC/DC in which the artist specializes, at least on his debut release. Rollicking and spirited all the way, the song reinforces a tempestuous storm of momentum and merges it with hooks galore, searing leads and knife-like riffs in copious amounts. All the while gritty and lower-register vocals adorn the backdrop. Lyric snippet:
The fellowship was genuine
The Spirit set them free
The early church provided
To each as he had need
Though persecution circled
Still they multiplied
They met and prayed
The course they stayed
t was the saints alive!
It was a living breathing faith, the Holy Ghost deep inside
“The Girl Inside” represents a return to a classic rock heading. This one bases itself upon a foundation of acoustic guitar while interweaving periodic touches of lighter rhythm guitars. A moving environs of a ballad-like capacity is the upshot, with a subtle but generous senses of melody adding to the songs inviting aura. The lesson learned is how acoustic based rock can stand out when done properly.
“Hound Of Heaven” takes an up-tempo heavy rock bearing. The song starts to a chaotic instrumental opening interwoven with distorted bass before settling into a spirited but staunchly driven groove, as gritty rhythm guitars and the artists trademark high-end vocals lead the scintillating way. A searing lead guitar stretch rounds things out. Lyric snippet:
A blinding light
On the road to Damascus
"Why do you persecute Me?"
The risen Christ
Confronts Saul of Tarsus
The scales would fall and he'd see
How much he'd suffer
For the name of the Savior
to live in Christ, boast the pain From Stephen's death
To a Rome execution
Paul lived the gospel in chains
he Hound of Heaven was on his heels
After seven straight equally good tracks, the album is due for a hiccup and such is what we have in “Carpenters And Coming King:”. Yes, a great song title and equally good message, but musically lacking in reaching for (but not quite obtaining) a spirited hard rock sound akin to “Saints Alive”. Missing are the engrossing hooks and doses of unpredictable creativity that made the songs previous so special, not to mention corny lyrics in which, as already noted, the Second Coming is compared to a “holy smackdown”. I get the point but cannot help but feel a more meaningful way could have been found to get said point across. Lyric snippet:
You can say I'm lazy
'Cause mankind's gotta find a cure
But that's an empty hope
And that's no joke
'Cause the King is comin' back for sure
he Carpenter's coming back
And He's bringing the hammer down
The Son of Man
With a righteous right hand
Gonna bring the holy smackdown
“Star Of David” represents twenty of the most inspired minutes of progressive metal you will hear. Metal is the key word in that the song maintains the intensity its distance, interlacing aspects of traditional metal, thrash and doom with the intricately woven environs at hand. Some epics lag in their middle portions (or get redundant with repeat listen) but not this one in that enough variety and technical flair keeps things fresh with repeat listen despite the length. I could bore you to tears by going into detail about every twist and turn, but it is sufficient to say “Star Of David” ranks with the finest the progressive genre has to offer, ranging from the lighter touches of Neal Morse to the heavier direction of Affector. I had no idea the artist had it in him. Lyrics are equally epic in tracing the history of the Israelites in starting with the Exodus from Egypt before moving on to current events, including the Holocaust, founding of the State of Israel, Arab-Israeli wars, and finally the coming Kingdom. Lyric snippet:
Pharaoh would not give us straw
As we felt the tightening noose
The taskmasters they beat us raw
But our work was not reduce
See the Lord's outstretched arm
See the Pharaoh's hardened heart...
"This is my holocaust" he says
My teeth they start to grit
I count the family standing there
All the way to twelve
Only two would make it through
Through that Nazi hell
Egypt massing troops on our border
Naval blockade to the south
Jordan attacks from the West bank
Emboldened by false word of mouth
Judea, Samaria, reclaimed
After a fierce three day fight
Egypt's air force quickly crippled
Syria purged from the heights
he scriptures they serve as a witness
Israel returned to their place
The God of our fathers was with us
The Almighty Ancient of Days
Our hearts long for the latter days
And the house of the Lord
Established on the mountains
Exalted above the hills
Lord let the nations learn your ways
Let them walk in your paths
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Perspective” (2:02), “Walk Big” (7:09), “Thorns” (5:01), “Ballad Of A Broken Man” (7:31), “The Engines Of Faith” (5:38), “Saints Alive” (3:34), “The Girl Inside” (6:03), “Hound Of Heaven” (4:49), “Carpenter And Coming King” (3:37), “Star Of David” (21:50)
Luke Richard Weber - Lead Vocals
Unknown - All Instrumentation