Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Live ~ Secret Samahdi



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Style: hard rock, alt rock
Label: Radioactive
Year: 1997
Home: Pennsylvania

Members: Ed Kowalczyk ~ vocals/rhythm Guitar
Chad Taylor ~ lead guitar/b. vocal
Patrick Dahlheimer ~ bass
Chad Gracey ~ drums/percussion/b. vocal

Additional: Jennifer Charles ~ b. vocal
Doug Katsaros ~ strings
John Carin ~ keyboards


Everyone knows of Christian Metal as much as everyone knows about metal with Satanic overtones, there being very few actual Devil worshipping metal bands & those that are probably don't flaunt it. But, outside of that it's easy to forget just how much religion is laced through hard rock & metal & turns it into a more spiritual music than one might imagine ... it's not just Madonna & the Beatles that spout religious doctrine. Black Sabbath wears crosses on stage not to criticise Christianity but to ward off evil, while Dio's fingered devil horns are an Italian way of warding off the evil eye that was corrupted into a Satanic symbol. Even the blues scale itself, used in so much metal, is supposedly filled with the Devil's notes thus the naming of the pentatonic scale. Many song lyrics deal with Armaggeddon & spiritual corruption that's not exclusively Satanic or Christian. Led Zeppelin is a good example of this, particularly with Jimmy Page's obsession with magician Aleister Crowley. In the contemporary scene one of the more prominent spiritually influenced rock bands has been Live, as directly seen in their album titles: Secret Samahdi, samahdi being a Hindu term & the more esoteric Awake, Radiant Sea & The Distance To Here which all also encompass indirectly Hindu/Buddhist ideology. Their album Mental Jewelry was even heavily inspired by mystic J. Krishnamurti. I first started listening to Live, beyond their MTV hits "Lightening Crashes" & "Rattlesnake" (the former opening this album), 5 years ago when I discovered their lead singer Ed Kowalczyk once publicly admired Adi Da Samraj, who is also my spiritual guru & as of today I'm an official devotee of his. I'll confess to being musically disappointed with Secret Samahdi which was written under the influence of Adi Da Samraj but with no direct references to Him, albeit "Insomnia & The Hole In The Universe" does mention visiting a swami & "Turn My Head" is a phrase He frequently uses describing the turning of one's attraction ... which is here ambiguous if its meant religiously or sexually, which was probably a good thing when Kowalczyk later denied deeply following a then controversial teacher. But, musicially the album drips of spirituality with pieces of typical Indian sounds, including tamboura drones (i.e. "Unsheathed"), while the singing is often sensative like someone whispering a secret or a prayer. The lyrics also keep things somewhat mysterious, like religion itself, & are very reminiscent of R.E.M. One of the thing that really makes the music of Live interesting, beyond the religous connection as that doesn't ensure good music, is how within one song they paint meditative moods only to then break the mood with some unexpected hard rock crunch. You might hear soft strings only to be turned over to a distorted guitar with the next part. It makes their music interesting & never predictable. This isn't necessarily music to rock out to. This is music to hear. Not hear in the sense of just listening to the lyrics or just the music, that's listening but not hearing. There's a difference. One is for critics. One is for music lovers. This is music to get lost in. It's healthy fun for the ears & the spirit. It's not often I encounter visionary music.


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