If it was possible to buy shares in bands on the stockmarket, I would be putting a bit of my hard earned cash into Los Angeles’ three piece rock monster, Varna.
Can I be honest, readers? When it comes to hard rock and metal music, I have a confession to make, one that may be offensive to some, but here it is. I don’t like female vocalists. Its not a sexist thing, it’s simply a personal preference (don’t worry, there’s plenty of male singers I don’t like either – like, every emo band in history). I don’t know what it is, but, (and there are exceptions), it just doesn’t sound right to me. Often you have great female singers, technically, who front a rock or metal band and either try hard too hard to sound heavy, or they stick with a vocal style which is more suited to pop music. Ok, that’s off my chest. But in showing that I’m not totally sexist and dismissive, I did give Varna a try, and I am VERY glad I did.
Vocalist Tiana Woods brings something special to this band – her voice is pure power, and for a reason I can’t put my finger on, she just clicks with this music. It just works, simple as that.
Musically, Varna have a tough edge, heavy guitar riffs and drums that you can tell are being hit exactly how drums should be hit – fucking hard. Guitarist Rossen Pinkas does some really great work, and it is nothing to do with playing fast or complicated solos – its in the groove of the riffs he chugs out, and in the lead licks that come in and out of the songs at just the right time. While some may dismiss his playing because he’s not throwing around lightning fast solos, I would argue that it just isn’t the sort of music that needs it. What he shows is an extraordinary command of song structure and an ability to make a song sound heavy without sacrificing an ounce of commercial appeal.
Rob Shin brings the drums and I really enjoy his style. There’s no mucking around, there’s no 2 minute drum solos in the middle of songs – there is simply a discipline to pound the skins hard with intent, and put some real power behind the chunky guitar riffs and the soaring vocals.
I can’t speak highly enough of what Tiana Woods brings to this band also. The vocals sound…well…real. Nothing is contrived, she’s not there to be a token female lead singer in a rock band – she is genuinely bringing some serious power behind the mic.
Varna have released one EP titled ‘This Time, Its Personal’, and it is a killer EP. 3 tracks that are all begging for huge commercial success. Check out their video for ‘My Heart’ below.
You’re getting a genuine, modern hard rock band here with Varna, and while I don’t know when there is some more music coming from this band, but when it does, expect it to be HUGE.
Check out more:
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Second Impulse are a melodic rock band from Maryland, USA. They’ve been around since 2008 but from what I can gather, they acquired a new singer in 2011, being Mike Raymond. Other members are David Brewer (guitars), Joe Morrison (drums), Luke Shagogue (bass). From what I have read, there were quite a few lineup changes and other issues in the early days of the band, but they now seem to be fairly settled.
In trawling the web for tunes to listen to, there’s a few older tracks on YouTube but they seem to feature an old lineup and I’m not going to talk much about that stuff (if only for the reason that the newer tracks I’ve heard are far better). What I will say about the older songs – you can tell that the talent is there and the songs are far from bad. It is more a case of the new lineup seemingly having a bit more polish and a stronger sound.
Usually I’d like to hear a bit more music before writing about a band, but in terms of music from the current lineup of Second Impulse, I’ve only been able to hear two tracks. Fortunately though, neither of them disappoint. The two tracks in question are ‘Pioneers‘ and ‘Guilty As Sin’, both featuring on their EP, titled ‘Hostiles’. In good news for fans of the band, they have another EP in the works.
Bands like Second Impulse can sometimes tread a fine line in the direction their music takes. I say this because they seem to have some good players in the band, and the vocalist is great – really strong, melodic vocals which compliment the band beautifully. Sometimes, a band with these qualities can lean on the side of commercially appealing, softer rock sounds. I’m a fan of great melodies in songs, I love hearing clean guitar parts mixed in with some heavier parts, and Second Impulse do this really well, and they do it in a way that still showcases a level of passion and power in the music which ensures they don’t come off sounding like Nickelback or their contemporaries. When I say ‘melodic vocals’, in no way do I mean that everything is softly, softly with Second Impulse. Raymond’s vocals have an aggressive touch to them as well – just enough to let you know he actually believes in what he’s doing behind the mic.
Second Impulse have elements of 90’s and early 2000’s alternative rock, but they have a bit of a harder edge as well, which blends well. Despite only hearing the two tracks so far, I’m comfortable to say that Second Impulse are going to provide a bit of a unique experience to the listener. The chorus to the song ‘Pioneers’ has worldwide radio hit written all over it, so I hope these guys can take the next step. Rock fans – get behind them and make it happen!
Check out more on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Second-Impulse/142773147815
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The Kill Circuit are a tricky band to write about, for me at least. They are a 4 piece hailing from Virginia, USA, and they are difficult to describe. The reason I find them difficult to write about is because they have a pretty unique sound to me. They list some influences as Helmet, Turbonegro, Radiohead, Riddle of Steel, Isis and Shiner. I confess, I don’t know the last three, and I’m not a fan of the first three. During the 90’s I loved my share of music which fell into the ‘alternative rock’ genre, but these days I find that genre all tends to blend into one mess of questionably talented musicians and bland songwriting. Somewhere along the life cycle of ‘alternative rock’, I feel like the ‘rock’ part disappeared. It got boring. Then I stumbled onto The Kill Circuit.
Really, I’m only talking about this genre of music because they mention those particular bands in their bio, but also because I can’t find any other slot to pigeonhole them into – and I think they pride themselves on this. One track I heard called ‘Search For Echoes’ had some really cool, driving guitar work which reminded me of Smashing Pumpkins, yet the song itself sounded nothing like a Pumpkins tune. That is probably the strength of The Kill Circuit. They’ve obviously got a diverse myriad of influences, and influences are always going to pop up in people’s music but these guys don’t let their influences overtake their songs.
Members are Mike Ragan on guitar/vocals, Joey Rudacil on drums, EJ Toudt on bass/vocals, and Pete Raffetto on guitar. From what I can find out, the members of the bands aren’t new to this music caper – having all played in some bands through the 90’s, so they bring plenty of experience to the table and it shows. They craft their songs really well and nothing sounds messy. Each riff, each section of a song seems like it belongs to the rest. And I suppose that is something which often annoys me about potentially similar bands – things sound really messy and disjointed and is explained away by ‘artistry’. Well, fuck your artistry, Id rather listen to a band like The Kill Circuit who just rock hard, sound good, and make sense.
I really enjoy the vocals too. As this blog grows, readers will notice a theme, being that I can’t stand indecipherable vocals whether it be growling or screaming. Just a personal preference, and dual vocalists Ragan and Toudt do the job for me. Good quality, good variety – nothing sounds tired or boring, and more to the point, they bring some solid, clean melodies to the songs. Thankfully – a band who realises you can have some heavier rock driven guitar riffs and keep the melodies in the vocals. These guys simply rock hard and sound fun, and while the music isn’t pretentious, you know that they’ve got the goods and they aren’t mucking around either. Perfect combination for a quality rock band in my book.
I’m certainly keen to hear some more from these guys and I hope they keep working towards having some more music out soon. Everything you need is online:
YouTube: The Kill Circuit – Low Resolution
They have one EP called ‘We Could Have Been Unstoppable‘, as well as a full length album called ‘Low Transit‘ and you can buy/download/listen to some tunes on their Facebook page. Do yourself a favour and check out The Kill Circuit!
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