Tension Rising – The Last Judgement Self-Released Release Date: 17/01/23 Running Time: 30:44 Review by Simon Black 7.5/10
Tension Rising are one of those acts that old journos like me struggle to pigeonhole. Despite describing themselves as sitting in the more Melodic end of the Metal spectrum they really splice up so many sub-genre elements as to probably deserve their own heading, but let’s go with heavily Djent and Progressive influenced Melodic Metal. This 3-piece hails from New York, and this is their second full release following on from 2020’s “Penumbra”. Like many bands releasing a debut in that lost first year of the pandemic, they probably deserve to have made a little more of a dent than they have so far, but such is the impact of lack of touring that it feels like they are still on the starting blocks.
That’s unfair really, as this record shows a richness and maturity that deserves to be wider known. It’s a short and punchy six track concept affair, with an arc focussed on the four horsemen of the apocalypse. It’s the kind of concept that would end up sounding over-wrought and overdone in the hands of a Power Metal act, but here it works well – with the possible exception of the numerous linkage pieces, consisting of short atmospheric sections with a lot of horse whinny action!
This is very much a studio project, with none of the three credited musicians covering either drums or keyboards, despite these being quite fundamental to their sound, so I am guessing that the impacts of Covid have meant that this will be delivered by click track in a live setting, but the somewhat Prog interplay going on there is screaming for a full time set of players there. That’s really clear from the instrumental opener ‘An Unsuspecting World’ but steps back a little when the lyrics kick in. Vocally Chris Garrigan takes a mainly clean lower register delivery style, balanced with some nice extreme vocal counterpoints that you don’t normally get in the Melodic end of things, but it works really well.
The other thing that strikes you immediately is the sheer heaviness and depth of the production. It’s hugely atmospheric and meaty from the opening bars, and really does not let up throughout. Whilst working better when more focussed and structured in the songs department (‘Death’ loses its way somewhat, for example) this is an incredibly catchy and unexpectedly entertaining slab of quite blisteringly technical Metal that surprises throughout.
TRACKLISTING: 01. An Unsuspecting World 02. Conquest 03. War 04. Famine 05. Death 06. Apocalypse
LINE-UP: Chris Garrigan – Vocals / Rhythm Guitar Alex Repetti – Bass Alex Raykin – Lead Guitar
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with New York City based Hard Rock/Alt Metal band Tension Rising. Huge thanks to them for taking part
What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?
Nicky: Tension Rising. We’re a hard rock/alt-metal four-piece band. Chris and I met in college back in 2008. We started up a cover band, played a few local gigs for about a year, and we decided to start writing our own material. I knew Alex from high school, and around 2015, we needed a new bass player. He professed strong interest in joining, and I knew he would add a new dimension to what we were trying to accomplish.
How did you come up with your band name?
Chris: I was working as a home attendant for a physically handicapped teen. Like any other school day, I brought him home, and was getting ready to leave for the day. His little brother, Tyler, who was a big fan of music in general, and a fan of the band, came over to me and stopped me at the door and said, “I have an idea for a band name!” I said, “Okay, what do you got?” He said, “What do you think of the name, Tension Rising?” I stood there for a moment, and said “Wow… that’s really good.” Later on, I brought the idea of Tension Rising to the rest of the guys in the band, and they all loved it. Nick had a list of something like 50+ names that he crumpled into a ball and threw away after hearing it. The rest is history! Tyler, if you’re reading this, thank you for the awesome band name idea! You’re awesome!
What country are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?
Alex: We’re all from the US, specifically from NYC. Unfortunately, the metal scene is struggling here. There are definitely still loyal fans to be found here, but the choices for venues was already shrinking before COVID-19, and it’s a little scary to think about what it will look like as things start to get back to “normal” – We’re trying to stay as optimistic as possible!
What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single or Video)
Alex: We just put out a new single/lyric video for ‘Doomsayer’ which can be found here:
Our upcoming album “PENUMBRA” is coming out on September 7, 2020. We’re really excited about it! It’s the first Tension Rising album that I’ve been a part of. Aside from being very involved in the writing, and of course playing bass, I also did a lot of backing vocals on this album, which is something I haven’t done much of in the past for any of my other musical endeavours. I’m also proud to say that I was the recording and mixing engineer for this album as well!
Who have been your greatest influences?
Nicky: From a guitar player standpoint, I would say Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Nuno Bettencourt, and Steve Lukather
Alex: Led Zeppelin is the band that made me want to become a musician. Dream Theater is the band that most influenced my musical trajectory. I also love Neal Morse, Symphony X, Haken, and The Beatles.
What first got you into music?
Nicky: I would have to say it was the day one of my long-time friends called me to come hang at his backyard, because he just bought an electric guitar. He let me try it out, and when I hit my first disgusting, out-of-tune chord, I was hooked. It just felt like such a rush. My birthday was coming around the corner, so I knew what to ask my parents for. I wouldn’t call myself a musician, though. I just still love to play, twenty years later.
Alex: It all started with hearing “Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin one day while exploring internet radio stations on AOL in my mid-teens. I heard the guitar riffs in that song, and just knew that I needed to learn how to do that. I had no musical inclinations before this, but from that day forward, I knew I was going to become a musician, and I haven’t looked back since.
If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?
Nicky: If being alive passes for “current”, Sir Paul McCartney. He’s a Beatle, for crying out loud. Just let me steal a sliver of that songwriting magic.
Alex: I’d have to say it’s a tie between John Petrucci, Neal Morse, and Mike Portnoy. Each of them have played such a huge role in my musical development and tastes, and it would be life-changing to be able to collaborate with any of them.
If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?
Nicky: Coachella, just to troll and annoy most of the attendees who wouldn’t get what we’re about.
Alex: Frankly, I’d love for Tension Rising to play in any and all festivals that appreciate metal.
What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?
Nicky: I don’t think we’ve ever received any gifts, in general. Maybe we’ve been on the Naughty List for too long.
Alex: I received a block of cheddar cheese, sealed in its packaging from a fan. That fan ended up becoming my better half, Gail. You heard it here folks: if a fan gives you cheese, it’s a big deal.
If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?
Nicky: Thank you for sticking with us over the years. We love you, and we can’t wait to share this next chapter with you.
Alex: All I can say is that doing this, writing and performing music, is not at all possible without fans who want you to keep doing it. All of the people supporting our musical endeavours mean the absolute world to us.
If you could bring one Metal/Rock star back from the dead, who would it be?
Nicky: Freddie Mercury.
Alex: Hmm. I would’ve also said Freddie. I’ll go with Dio then.
What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?
Nicky: I’ll start with the negative. It’s a truly thankless endeavour. I’ve watched numerous other musicians over the years, on the local scene, who deserve so much more than living out of the back seat of a van. Even when I browse around YouTube. I see countless musicians just slaying it. Where’s their recognition? If I had to hate one thing about it, it’s the seeming lack of support that afflict hard-working and talented musicians.
On the positive side, you can express yourself in ways that words may not be able to capture. But there’s something special about looking back and saying “I made that”. Whether you wrote it, recorded it, performed it live, or all of the above. There’s a level of personal satisfaction you experience, and no one can take that from you. I think that’s why millions of people all around the world continue to do it, even if you told them they would barely see any money come out of it. Life is short. Do stuff that makes you feel good. Music makes me feel good.
Alex: Like most creative outlets, being a musician allows one to channel their ideas and talents into some kind of medium that can move people and change their emotions just by experiencing it. I find that to be extremely motivating when I’m writing or performing music. As for the negative, I’ll have to echo Nick’s sentiments.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
Nicky: Further to what I’m most disappointed about being a musician, I wish there was a way to give performers a bigger cut of the pie. It’s a business. I get it. Things change. It still doesn’t change my opinion that it sucks.
Name one of your all-time favourite albums?
Nicky: Queen – “A Night at the Opera”.
Alex: Dream Theater – “Scenes From A Memory”
What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?
Nicky: I’m indifferent to the format. Digital is certainly more convenient. I care more about the music itself, at the end of the day. Although, I will say, the vinyl album incorporates the concept of cover art, and any other inserts that would accompany the record. It was part of a listening experience. There was a time when you had to physically sit next to a record player and absorb everything. Nowadays, we’re mostly on the go, and music is just a background noise in our ears. There’s give and take with everything.
Alex: Despite being an audio engineer, I’m pretty indifferent to the medium choice. Vinyl has the best sound quality if you have a good system (and your Vinyl is in good condition). I usually opt for CD and download though. As of recently, I usually just import the CD onto my computer right after I buy it anyway.
What’s the best gig that you have played to date?
Nicky: Hard to say. Some have definitely been better than others, but even the worst ones always had something about them that served as a learning experience. I wish I had a better answer.
Alex: There have been a lot of cool gigs. One of my favourites would have to be at Webster Hall. Great crowd, tons of energy.
If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?
Nicky: I used to enjoy writing when I was in grammar school. I might have pursued that venture if I didn’t feel music was in my cards.
Alex: I’m already a musician and audio engineer, so I would just stick with the audio engineering. I love it.
Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?
Nicky: For simplicity, my five favourite guitar players – not even just for myself, but for the fanboying that they would probably be throwing back and forth at each other. It would be awesome to sit back and just watch that happen.
Alex: Nothing beats a hangout with my friends and family. Nothing else needed.
What’s next for the band?
Alex: Well, aside from our new album “PENUMBRA” arriving on September 7, 2020, we are happy to say that we will be releasing a lyric video for every single song on the album over the coming months, along with some playthrough videos of the songs. It’s the best we could do right now with shows not being an option yet. We also have plans to release more new music either at the end of this year, or early next year. More details to come in the next few months!
What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?
Alex: First and foremost, our website is the main hub for everything Tension Rising:
Our music can be found on Spotify, Amazon, Apple Music, and pretty much anywhere digital music is available.
Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?
Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?Alex: Thank you for the interview! We had a blast! Please keep supporting bands/musicians that are trying to get their music out there! Sites like yours are 100% necessary for bands like us.
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.