Album Review: THE DIOMEDES – “Traps”

When I was approached a month ago by UK two-piece indie band The Diomedes about reviewing their debut album Traps, I gave a few songs a listen and thought ‘these are pretty good.’  But when I fully immersed myself into the album in preparation to write my review, I was bowled over by its intense power, complexity and raw beauty.  An incredibly well-crafted album, Traps is an ambitious effort with 12 synth-driven tracks, and quite simply a brilliant work of musical art.

The Diomedes began as an alternative electro-rock studio project by friends David Myers, who plays drums and synths, and Mark Champion, who covers guitars and vocals.  In their own words, they wanted to “create an album of soaring indie melodies with punk energy, soundscapes, riffs and howling synths.” This reviewer can attest that they succeeded and then some!  They finished recording Traps in mid 2016, then decided they needed to become a live act and tour in order to promote their album. As with a lot of music that relies heavily on synthesizers, the challenge was recreating the level of detail found in the complex sounds of their recordings into their live performances. So, the guys employed a sampler, a custom built synth rig and a laptop, and started playing gigs in and around London in the Fall of 2016. Traps was formally released on March 17, and the duo are continuing to play live as often as they can.

The Diomedes

The influences for their vastly textured sound, listed in the bios on their website and Facebook page, read like an extensive who’s who of alternative, classic and hard rock over the past 50 years. A sampling of names include such greats as Joy Division, Arcade Fire, Flaming Lips, Queens of the Stone Age, R.E.M., Chemical Brothers, Radiohead, Phillip Glass, Muse, New Order, Nine Inch Nails, David Bowie, Gorillaz, Blur, DJ Shadow, Bloc Party, White Stripes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Hans Zimmer, Deftones and INXS, along with old classics like The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel and The Beach Boys. Whew! And when you listen to their music, many of those myriad influences can be clearly identified. I would add Peter Gabriel to the list as well, especially since Champion’s vocals at times sound eerily similar to Gabriel’s.

There is much to describe about Traps, but one of the things that most stands out for me is the exceptional flow of the album. Each track seamlessly transitions into the next, so that the momentum and power of the music is never lost nor even diminished in the slightest. The album plays almost like an alternative electronic rock symphony, as if Phillip Glass and Nine Inch Nails joined forces to re-imagine one of the great symphonies of Prokokiev or Rachmaninoff. This is not to say the music sounds “classical,” but rather that it employs nuanced melodies, intricate chords and complex instrumentation, all working in tandem to create a rich tapestry of sound that’s consistent, yet never feels repetitious.

Speaking of repetitious, I’m aware that a track-by-track review of an album can sometimes be a pretty dull affair. But this album is so remarkable that I feel compelled to touch on each and every track. So let’s dig into Traps to see what all the fuss is about.  The instrumental-only “Open Arms” kicks things off with delicate but ominous-sounding synths that build until distorted, scratchy guitars and percussion take over. At around the two-minute mark, a pleasant synth chord is introduced, lending a more hopeful feel to the track before instantly transitioning into the exuberant “No Sleepwalking.” Sleepwalking is clearly not an option with the aggressive rapid-fire drumbeats and guitar riffs that are all but guaranteed to wake even the comatose. In his insistent gravelly vocals, Champion sings “So what we fighting for? An idea, that somewhere there is something more. So what we fighting for? For our lies, only this and nothing more.

The guys inject a frenetic punk groove into the proceedings on the outrageously energetic “Masquerade.” This catchy dance track will have you bobbing your head and moving your hips within seconds. The lyrics speak to getting in touch with your true self rather than hiding behind a trap of your own making, which seems to be the overarching theme of the album: “Masquerade into a perfect storm. Shed existence to prove you were born. Hold together all the madness come. Find your feet and then find out where they areEndings never hurt much at the start.” The upbeat vibe continues uninterrupted on “Gasp.” Shredded guitars, heavy percussion and some glorious synths – all set to a driving beat, make this an especially good track.

All hell breaks loose on “Tension Head,” one of the standouts on the album. This cacophonous tour-de-force starts off with the sound of a very big clock being tightly wound, and a loud distorted guitar making the sound of a motor that’s suddenly overwhelmed by an explosion of hammering drums and frantic guitar riffs. Champion screams some lyrics, then the tempo quickly shifts to a relatively calm and steady beat until the frantic riffs make an abrupt return, before shifting back to the previous steady tempo. Champion sings “I don’t know where I am, where I am. And I can’t tell you that I’m only looking for something.” His closing chorus is rather intimidating: “Don’t get along with me.” All this chaos and negative energy creates a strong sense of tension of course, living up to the song title.

The rather tense vibe continues on the instrumental composition “Part 2,” courtesy of Myers’ skillful mix of discordant and sweeping synths, including what sounds like rotating helicopter blades. Not missing a beat, we’re swept headlong into “Our Dying Glow” – two minutes and 49 seconds of punk rock goodness filled with gravelly guitars, tumultuous percussion and heavy buzzing bass.

Next up is the seven and a half minute long rock opera-esque “Tower.” This epic song has it all: a mosaic of dramatically soaring synth chords, strange sound effects, graceful tinkling piano (including toy piano), loads of crashing cymbals, and robust, multi-textured guitars, all set to an elaborate, ever-changing  melody. Champion’s gritty, impassioned vocals rise and fall with the intensity of the instrumentation as he wails: “Higher and higher, climbing the walls. Higher and higher, harder we fall. / We’ll know what’s true, when they come back for you.” The song is so good that it’s over sooner than its seven and a half minute length would suggest and, with scarcely a break, quickly segues into the vitriolic hard rock “Spoiling.”

The ghostly instrumental track “Howl” would make a fantastic soundtrack opener to a horror film, but it also provides the perfect intro to “This Place is Electric.” The song is aptly titled, as it’s a feverish EDM romp that goes straight to the hips. This amazing song seems to represent one last fling before cold, hard reality comes rushing back. Boisterous, grainy synths, shredded guitars and pummeling drums rain down like thunderbolts until the gorgeous but rather melancholy six and a half minute closing track “Wishing Games” arrives – quite appropriately I think – upon sounds of distant thunder and falling rain. Champion channels Peter Gabriel more than ever as he emotionally sings “You are only ever right. You’re the one thing I cant leave behind.  So no saving anticipation. I’m always boring,  No pulling sense out from a truth or lie.  So it’s good bye i’m ready./ Be careful with your wishing games. You’ll only have yourself to blame.” The bittersweet lyrics tie the album up quite nicely, yet seem to leave some things unanswered.

To learn more about The Diomedes, check out their website.  Connect with them on  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram.

Subscribe to their YouTube channel, and stream their music on  Soundcloud and  Spotify.

Trap may be purchased on BandcampiTunes or other sites offering music for download or purchase.

 

Song Review: RAVENSCROFT – “The Chase”

Orange County, California band Ravenscroft have been thrilling fans for quite some time with their incredibly dynamic hard-hitting rock. Drawing upon influences from some of their favorite rock bands, including Godsmack, Iron Maiden, Shinedown, Metallica, Guns’n’Roses, Black Sabbath, Megadeth, Pearl Jam, Audioslave and Deep Purple, among others, Ravenscroft melds 60’s psychedelic/acid rock, 70’s and 80’s metal, and 90’s grunge to create their own melodic alternative metal/hard rock sound. Making all this heavy noise are Ralph Buso (Vocals), Brett ‘Octane’ Gorke (Guitars), Devin Baker (Bass) and Pat Magrath (Drums).

Ravenscroft

The guys just released a fantastic new single “The Chase” and it’s a three and half minute long full-frontal assault of heavy metal power. Gorke lives up to his nickname ‘Octane’, setting fire with blistering, metallic guitar riffs that shred, snarl and distort from start to finish. This man can play guitar! Baker’s thunderous bass adds incredible heft to the track, while Magrath pounds the hell out of his drum kit, the two of them conspiring to blow out the speakers.

With his gritty, impassioned vocals, Buso practically screams the lyrics that speak to not wasting precious time chasing hopeless causes and living a dishonest existence, instead focusing on what’s real and attainable:

Don’t waste your time, fighting life, chasing love. Don’t waste your tears, on the fears, up above./ Don’t Waste your life, telling lies, acting up. Word to the wise, in due time, it catches up.”

The lyric “Look to the light of the rising sun” may be a metaphor, symbolized by the Shogun warrior battle scenes artfully depicted in the fascinating video.

To learn more about Ravenscroft, check out their Website, and connect with them on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram.

Stream their music:  Spotify /  Google Play /  YouTube /  Pandora /  Reverbnation

Purchase it:  iTunes / Amazon

Top 20 Songs for March 26-April 1, 2017

Rag’n’Bone Man’s awesome song “Human” spends a second week on top, while Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” holds at #2. Rihanna, The Weeknd and Bruno Mars all have fantastic songs with a retro R&B vibe. Spoon’s “Hot Thoughts” debuts at #14 and Bastille is back with “Blame,” which debuts at #20. Finally, the Lumineers’ “Cleopatra” spends its 24th week on my Top 20.

1. HUMAN – Rag’n’Bone Man (1)
2. SHAPE OF YOU – Ed Sheeran (2)
3. ON HOLD – The xx (4)
4. HEAVYDIRTYSOUL – twenty øne piløts (5)
5. LOVE ON THE BRAIN – Rihanna (6)
6. SHINE – Mondo Cozmo (3)
7. RUST TO GOLD – Council (8)
8. LOVE IS MYSTICAL – Cold War Kids (10)
9. 7 – Catfish & the Bottlemen (9)
10. HOW DID YOU LOVE – Shinedown (12)
11. I NEED A LIGHT – Run With It (7)
12. WOLVES – Wide Eyed Boy (15)
13. BELIEVER – Imagine Dragons (17)
14. HOT THOUGHTS – Spoon (N)
15. I FEEL IT COMING – The Weeknd, Daft Punk (14)
16. THAT’S WHAT I LIKE – Bruno Mars (20)
17. STILL BREATHING – Green Day (11)
18. SCARS TO YOUR BEAUTIFUL – Alessia Cara (13)
19. CLEOPATRA – The Lumineers (16)
20. BLAME – Bastille (N)

Song Review: THE OCCASIONAL ANGELS – “It’s Only Love”

Before leaving Ottawa, Canada behind, where I just featured The Elegant Devils, I must make a second visit with The Occasional Angels, whose amazing single “Fool For Love” I reviewed last month (which you can read here). The trio, consisting of David Hart, Scott Paterson and vocalist Cris Ruggiero, have dropped a new single “It’s Only Love,” and it’s another fantastic tune. The song was written by Hart and arranged, mixed and produced by Paterson, who also plays all instruments.

Occasional Angels2

Though slower in tempo than “Fool For Love,” it’s even more soulful, and Ruggiero’s bluesy vocals shine once again. “It’s Only Love” evokes images of dancing at a quiet little piano bar like the one imagined in the beautiful video, or spending a romantic evening by the fire with a loved one. Paterson’s lovely piano, gentle percussion and guitar set a warm instrumental backdrop for Ruggiero’s sultry, beguiling vocals. Even though I adore rock music (the harder the better), it’s also incredibly heartening for a middle-aged guy like me to hear great new music like this being made today. Check it out:

Check out their website, and connect with them on  Twitter and  Facebook.

Purchase their music at  https://theoccasionalangels.bandzoogle.com/music.

Artist Spotlight: THE ELEGANT DEVILS

Elegant Devils

I’ve been featuring quite a few artists and bands from Canada recently, and The Elegant Devils are the latest. The talented four-piece rock band hails from Ottawa, Ontario and, like many bands, has experienced some personnel changes over time. Their current line-up includes Drew James (lead vocals, guitar), Rob Frank (drums/vocals), Josh West (guitar), & Josh Barkley (bass/vocals). They’re all seasoned musicians with divergent backgrounds, and each of them embrace their unique individual styles while coming together to create some really fine rock music that’s intelligent, powerful and often fun.

The Elegant Devils recorded their debut EP Guilty Pleasure in 2015, followed a year later by a five-track EP Live at Zaphod’s that contained some tracks from Guilty Pleasure along with a few new ones.  Their songs range from hard-driving rock to poignant ballads, and always with deeply compelling lyrics that speak to the complexities of life, love and relationships. These guys write from their own experiences and, as a result, their songs come off all the more personal and heartfelt. In addition, their arrangements, instrumentation and production values are all first-rate.

Their strong musicianship is vividly apparent on all their songs, but especially shines when they really get rocking. On their harder rock tracks “Lie With Me,” “Divebomb” and “Loaded Gun,” they coax some amazingly intricate and formidable riffs from their guitars, while Josh Barkley lays down some heavy thumping bass lines and Rob keeps the pace with his assertive drums and crashing cymbals. Drew’s powerful vocals are always delivered with raw emotion, whether he’s expressing anger, pain or loving devotion.

“Divebomb” in particular is a real head-banger and one of my favorites. The thunderous shredded guitars are scorching hot, and when combined with powerful buzzing bass and pounding drums, nearly succeed in blowing out the speakers. “Loaded Gun” – a rock bombardment packed into a mere two minutes that fully lives up to its title – is also pretty awesome, but then, so are all their songs!

The band shows its softer, more romantic side with the gorgeous love ballad “Amaranthine,” about which the band states “We cracked open the heart of a devil and found a love song – a song written as a message to the person you love most in the world.

In an interview with Jacqueline Jax on A.V.A. Live Radio, Drew explained the origin for Amaranthine:  “[It] is as pure a love song as you can get. It was written as a wedding gift for one of my very best friends. He asked me to perform it at the wedding itself, and they had their first dance to the song. It was written at a time when I had almost given up finding a happy ending for myself. I had just been through a really bad break-up and while I was going through it, I was so happy to see that my friend and his wife were able to find something so…solid. So inspiring. I wrote Amaranthine to tell them how proud I was of them finding love, how scary it must have been for them to commit completely to another person, and to say thank you to them for giving me a reason to still believe in love when I had given up on it myself. Thankfully, the hope they gave me tided me over until I found my own Amaranthine. And so now, every time I sing it, I sing that song as much for her as I do for them.

Take a listen to this beautiful track:

The Elegant Devils are in the process of writing and recording more songs for what will be a full-length album to be released later this year. In the meantime, check out their website, connect with them on Facebook,  Twitter and Instagram, and subscribe to their YouTube channel where you can watch their weekly sessions. Stream their music on Soundcloud,  Reverbnation or  Spotify, and purchase it on iTunes.

EP Review: SHIELDS – “Shields”

Readers of this blog know that I love Rock in all its forms – classic, alternative, old-school rock’n’roll, folk, hard, heavy metal, death metal, etc. And when great rock music (or any genre for that matter) is delivered with a sizable dose of humor, it can make for an especially enjoyable listen. Such is the case with the young rock band Shields. They play high-energy hard rock with strong rock’n’roll overtones, sometimes accompanied by humorous lyrics guaranteed to have you laughing out loud.

All natives of New England but now based in Austin, Texas, the four-piece formed as a band in the Spring of 2016, and consists of the Shields brothers Christian (lead vocals, guitar) and N.V. (drums, vocals), “The Event” (bass, vocals) and Mitch Silva (guitar, vocals). They dropped their self-titled debut EP Shields in late 2016, and it features seven top-notch tracks that run the gamut from upbeat party rock to more serious guitar-heavy tunes and slower, poignant ballads. They’ve been touring and playing lots of gigs since then to promote the EP, and their fun, highly entertaining live performances are attracting a growing base of devoted fans. A fellow blogger, Hope Romine of LIVELIFETHRUMUSIC, saw them live and wrote about how much fun and energetic they are on stage (you can read her post here.)

Shields

The EP kicks off with the head-banger “Hard Up,” a hilarious song about being a loser stuck in a dead-end job paying shit wages, unable to score with the ladies. The music’s great on this track, with some awesome guitar work, but it’s the racy, in-your-face lyrics that really make it:

I’m hard up. I’m broke, no cash means no sex. Who’s gonna bounce on me for a bounced check? Hard up, my friends call me iron man. All tube socks, left hand right hand.

The clever, comical video the guys made for the song is one of the most entertaining I’ve seen in a long while. Their sense of humor and playfulness is a joy to watch, and it’s evident they had a lot of fun making it. They’d sure be fun to party with!

The band rocks out with the hard-driving tracks “Same Old Show” and “Classic and Clean,” giving ample proof of their strong musicianship. Christian and Mitch kill it on their guitars, while The Event’s heavy bass and N.V.’s aggressive drums add power and depth to the songs. The lyrics of “Classic and Clean” are a double entendre, giving the impression he’s singing about a girl until you realize it’s his Corvette.

The band shows their more serious, introspective side with the lovely power ballad “Behind a Smile.” The mix of beautifully complex rhythm and electric guitars, weighty bass and crashing cymbals all working in harmony create a deeply compelling tune. The poignant lyrics speak to hiding one’s pain and heartache behind a fake smile. Christian’s vocals are vulnerable and heartfelt as he sings:

Pain in smiles, little white lies, pretending everything’s all right. Close the door, lock the world away. Shutting out the day today. Behind a smile hides a frown./ Behind this smile I’m going insane.

Twisted humor and party vibes come roaring back on “Girlfriend” – “Me and your girlfriend have better sex than you do. He’s doesn’t know that his girlfriend’s a freak. Yes she is! He doesn’t know that she’s kissing me. Yes she is!” and “The Party Song” – “Better not fall asleep at this party, we’ve got Super Glue, we got Sharpies. Better not fall asleep at this party, the things we’ll do to you, we got Super Glue.” But don’t let the crazy lyrics fool you; these guys mean business as they produce some awesome sounds on their respective instruments.

Closing out the EP is the excellent track “Every Time.” The song’s darker than the others, both musically and lyrically. The track begins with a gentle, mysterious guitar riff, soft soaring chorus and an eerie sound like something evil opening up – a Pandora’s box perhaps? – before shredded guitars, heavy buzzing bass and pounding drums take over. With an ominous feel to his vocals, Christian fervently sings: “What’s real and what’s fantasy? Collide while I try to sleep. At night I lie awake, praying for my escape. These shadows dance through my mind, every time I close my eyes.”

This is a well-crafted EP and a very respectable debut from a hard-working and talented young band that I feel have a promising future. To learn more about Shields, check out their website, and follow them on Facebook,  Twitter  and  Instagram.  Their EP is available for purchase on iTunes or Google Play.

Song Review: BLACK ROSE CADILLAC – “The Devil’s Road”

Black Rose Cadillac

I just discovered an awesome band from the English Midlands called Black Rose Cadillac and I’m completely smitten with their music. The five-piece band plays ridiculously good hard-driving rock’n’roll guaranteed to shake you out of your complacency and have you shouting ‘hell yeah.’ I LOVE this band! I’ve listened to every one of their songs I could find, and to say they’re all fantastic is a gross understatement. They skillfully meld guitar-heavy hard rock with classic rock’n’roll in the tradition of great rockers like the Rolling Stones, AC/DC and Black Sabbath. Making all this fine noise are Ryan Hulme (lead vocals), Simon Hawkes (guitar), Myles Cooper (more guitar), Richard Clark (bass) and Ben Kirk (drums).

The guys just released a hot new single “The Devil’s Road” and it’s six and a half minutes of hard rock’n’roll heaven. The intricate guitar riffs are blistering and melodically complex, layered over heavy, buzzing bass and accompanied by powerful drums. Hulme’s aggressive, gritty vocals add to the track’s intensity. The song seems to end at five minutes, then starts back up with a terrific guitar flourish. The end result is an incredibly satisfying track that makes you feel like you’ve just listened to a mini rock concert all rolled up into one song!

The lyrics are as powerful as the music, and speak to struggling with one’s inner turmoil: “There were demons beneath my skin. Rising up from within. As the light fades the darkness invades. And I can’t tell real life from a dream. I’m gonna make a deal, reform my ways, yeah I’m walking down the Devil’s road.  I’m gonna make a scene just for you to see, cause I know the devil is in me.

Support Black Rose Cadillac by following them on  FacebookTwitter  and  Instagram, and subscribe to their YouTube channel.  Do yourself a huge favor and check out more of their incredible music on Spotify,  Soundcloud  or Reverbnation.  Their music may be purchased on Bandcamp or iTunes.

EP Review: FICTION PEAKS – “Before the End/Jinx”

Fiction Peaks is a talented five-piece indie band from Dublin, Ireland. Their impressive sound is hard to pin down, but it incorporates elements of alternative rock, shoegaze, pop and electronica. I featured them on this blog in June 2016, which you can read here. The band members – all of whom are highly accomplished musicians – include Joey Doyle (Lead vocals, Guitar, Sampler), Cillian Kenny (Bass, Trumpet), Barry Lyons (Backing Vocals,Synth),  Joáo Francisco (Drums) and Brian Giles (Guitar, Loops). They just dropped a new two-track EP on March 13, in advance of a planned release of their first full-length album Citizen, set for April 21st.

Fiction Peaks

The first track “Before The End” is positively sublime. A lovely piano movement and warm synths create an ethereal soundscape, then strings and percussion are added along with acoustic and electric guitars, increasing the song’s power but not diminishing it’s dreamlike quality. The poignant lyrics are beautifully sung by Doyle, with his mesmerizing heartfelt vocals that contain a hint of Irish brogue. To me, the lyrics seem to speak of not giving up, and fighting for what is valuable or meaningful in life, whether it be a relationship or an important cause. “You could have walked, ran for the exits. A testament to strength is why we’re here. You have the words, you are the reason, the reason we stand tall in our finest hour. With nothing ventured, there is nothing gained.

Coinciding with the EP, Fiction Peaks also released a provocative and visually powerful video for “Before The End” that was directed by local artist Colm Giles (brother of band member Brian).  According to a write up featured on the website Nialler, which you can read here, Giles explained “My take on ‘Before The End’ was to make an artistic observation of the times we are living in. I did this by looking at elements of the Spanish Civil War – showing ordinary people fighting against fascism. With the current subtle rise of the far right, and populist politics, mistakes of the past can be repeated if we don’t all pay attention.” Have a look:

The second track “Jinx” couldn’t be more different, with a rapid, driving beat and heavier electric guitar, bass and drums that give it a harder rock sound. The guitar work on this track is outstanding. Listen to “Jinx” here.

These two tracks are further proof that Fiction Peaks is an amazing band that never fails to deliver, and I eagerly await the release of their full album.  Connect with them:

Website / Twitter / Facebook / YouTube / Soundcloud

Their music may be purchased on Bandcamp.

 

Top 20 Songs for March 19-25, 2017

1. HUMAN – Rag’n’Bone Man (2)
2. SHAPE OF YOU – Ed Sheeran (3)
3. SHINE – Mondo Cozmo (1)
4. ON HOLD – The xx (5)
5. HEAVYDIRTYSOUL – twenty øne piløts (8)
6. LOVE ON THE BRAIN – Rihanna (16)
7. I NEED A LIGHT – Run With It (7)
8. RUST TO GOLD – Council (9)
9. 7 – Catfish and the Bottlemen (13)
10. LOVE IS MYSTICAL – Cold War Kids (14)
11. STILL BREATHING – Green Day (4)
12. HOW DID YOU LOVE – Shinedown (17)
13. SCARS TO YOUR BEAUTIFUL – Alessia Cara (6)
14. I FEEL IT COMING – The Weeknd, Daft Punk (15)
15. WOLVES – Wide Eyed Boy (19)
16. CLEOPATRA – The Lumineers (10)
17. BELIEVER – Imagine Dragons (20)
18. WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE – Adele (11)
19. BLOOD IN THE CUT – K.Flay (12)
20. THAT’S WHAT I LIKE – Bruno Mars (N)

 

EP Review: PUZZLE – “Babylon”

Brazilian born and London-based indie singer/songwriter PUZZLE is on a roll. Handsome and charismatic, he’s also an exceptionally talented artist. Following up on his three excellent singles “Godlike,” “Trial By Fire” and “Comedown,” PUZZLE recently dropped a new four-track EP Babylon, and it’s stunning. With his sublime melodies, infectious electronic beats, and sultry, captivating vocals, he creates luxurious soundscapes that pull you into mysterious and darkly beautiful spaces.

Drawing inspiration for his unique music style from an eclectic mix of artists such as the Pet Shop Boys (who I love), Lauryn Hill and Years & Years, PUZZLE also incorporates high-concept art and fantasy into his music videos and live performances. In an interview with Fault Magazine, he explained “I play a lot of video games … like Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid and I feel like that’s where I tapped into a different world. The same can be said for the fantasy books I read too. It’s all about escapism and opening worlds to people. The world is in constant flux … and I want people to take on those ideas when I make music. Nothing is set in stone and it’s all open to interpretation. It’s not reality, I’m trying to take people to a world of imagination.

PUZZLE

The opening track “Kamikazi” immediately sets a sultry tone for the EP. Beginning with a lovely piano solo, a mesmerizing drumbeat takes over, accompanied by seductive EDM-infused synths. With his sensuous vocals, PUZZLE sings of surrendering to someone who holds control over him, and for whom he feels burning passion: “Oh I refuse to run away, oh run away. Oh I want to feel the flames, let me feel the flames. Kamikazi, in a heartbeat you can take me down.” This is a sexy tune, as is the next track “Eyes Wide Shut.” Slower in tempo and darker in feel, but with even more sensuality, PUZZLE again sings of his passions: “Sweat pours, my heart rate soars as we kiss once more.

Since I wrote this review, PUZZLE released a video for “Kamikazi” that’s as mesmerizing as the song:

Little Black Book” is a catchy, emotionally-charged song about having strong feelings for someone, but fearing you may be nothing more than another number to them. Throbbing bass and swirling, otherworldly synths make this an incredibly compelling track. PUZZLE fervently sings: “I’m so caught up in this race. I’ll never be the first name. ‘Cause your list is too long, oh in your little black book.” The track has also been released as a single.

The creative and highly artistic video for the song is a positively breathtaking feast for the senses. In addition to the fantastic song, everything about it is gorgeous: the videography, computer-generated imagery, editing and – not least of all – PUZZLE himself. Take a look:

The final track “Realign” is so beautiful it raises goosebumps. Lush, sweeping synth chords, anchored by heavy bass, create a powerful instrumental over which PUZZLE’s enchanting vocals smolder and soar with great emotional intensity. This is my favorite track on the EP though, quite frankly, all of them are outstanding. I strongly recommend Babylon to fans of electronic music or, for that matter anyone who simply likes great music!

To learn more about PUZZLE, check out his website, and connect with him on  TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, and stream his music on Soundcloud and Spotify. Babylon and his other music can be purchased on  iTunes and other sites offering music for download.