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Lunatic Soul - Lunatic Soul II CD (album) cover


Lunatic Soul

Crossover Prog

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4 stars More lunatic Duda

I must admit, that I haven't been mesmerized by BLACK LUNATIC SOUL as much as I was amazed by Riverside's recent album. Nonetheless, I've been curious about Duda's new work, because something in the black album made me think: "this guy has a potential, just give him more time". The White Lunatic Soul is proof that I was right - in my opinion the new one is more original and intriguing than the black one!

WHITE LUNATIC SOUL, also called LUNATIC SOUL II is more interesting in terms of mood and melodies. From the first seconds the atmosphere is disturbing yet still light in a way, since the concept was meant to be set in afterlife/psycho/asylum theme, as Mariusz Duda announced a few months before the release. It's done thoroughly. Music seems to be more ethereal and psychedelic. Another step forward is amount of experiments - Asoulum is a great example of very well done mixture of melodic moods with eclectic approach. Unfortunately, monotony is still there, even if less. It is more digestible now and it seems to be an inherent part of the mood. Still, I consider it a disadvantage.

I think three songs deserve a special mention in this review, namely, aforementioned Asoulum, Transistion and Wanderings. Three different yet still coherent with the concept and, above all, very good songs. Asoulum is psychedelic and eclectic but still very melodic; Transistion on the other hand is hypnotic and disturbing song with very long yet extremely atmospheric intro and a very good outro; Finally, Wanderings is more accessible, very soothing yet dynamic piece with nice coda.

It turned out to be a very good album, which proves that Mariusz Duda is a progressive artist one of his kind. Still, the monotony is the main flaw of this release. I would love to call it masterpiece since it is very genuine, emotional and interesting record but in term of composition Mariusz Duda still have to develop his skills. My score is a big and fruity 4!

Report this review (#306898)
Posted Wednesday, October 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A fan and critic of the first Lunatic Soul album, I am pleased to feel some progress, some development, some maturation of this ensemble on this, their second LP. Where I was crying out for melody and song development on the previous album, this one shows more of both.

1. "The In-between Kingdom" is a slow-moving, sonically full instrumental which displays the same familiar LUNATIC SOUL 'world' sound. Though this song has a rather nice melody line, it exhibits the same unchanging repetitiveness which, IMHO, plagued their previous album. 7/10

2. "Otherwhere" is an innocuous little diddie that is, while pleasant enough, still suffering from lack of development, change and diversity. 5/10

3. "Suspended in Whiteness" begins simply with a rather nice melody but suffers from over three minutes of monotony. But wait! Could it be! At the 3:20 mark, FINALLY, there is a change, a shift, development! And it almost gets complicated and does get emotional. Thank you, Mariusz! This is what I've been waiting for! Great tune! 8/10

4. "Asoulum" starts with the feel of a NIRVANA song. Then a synthesizer comes in and some high-range vocal harmonies fill the sonic plane for nearly a minute. Back to the opening section--but, no! Mariusz and his b-vox have created something new, fresh, harmonically interesting. These are vocals to listen to over and over! Very cool! And a very interesting outro section, too. 8/10

5. "Limbo" is a brief instrumental interlude. Again: innocuous, worldly, and constant--though it does hold the album's tension quite nicely. 6/10

6. "Escape from Paradice" continues the emotional trip through earthly dross (I find no "up" or "light" or "positivity" in this music. I do find beauty, though.) I love the shift and scream at the 2:30 mark. At least this song moves. 7/10

7. "Transition" is the best song DAVID SYLVIAN never did. It begins very ambiently and builds very slowly--for over five minutes--until a PETER GABRIEL-ish transition into (other-)world sounds (TONY LEVIN with Australian Aborigines?!) An awesome, powerful second part of the song. Incredible synth outro! The highlight of the album--by far--and one of the best songs of the year! 10/10

8. "Gravestone Hill" is a simple song reminding me of BRUCE COCKBURN and ABNEY PARK. Pleasant and emotional. 7/10

9. "Wanderings" contains some trippy-New Age sounding sounds while establishing a very full and emotional aural textural field. Mariusz' voice and the entry of drums at the 1:30 mark are the only things really keeping this song out of the BUDDHA LOUNGE cds. But wait! At 3:18 a synthesizer and vocal bring the song into the NEW ORDER/DEPECHE MODE realm. Nice bass work. Nice song. 8/10 Though there is still a lot of room for compositional growth and maturity in these songsters, I am continually intrigued and drawn in by Lunatic Soul's fearless use of a wide variety of world, ethnic and even electronic instruments. I am also greatly enamored by the deeply emotional aural landscapes their music paints. Greatly improved use of Mariuisz Duda's vocal talents. Keep it coming, LS! A very solid, strong 4 stars. An excellent addition to my music collection that I know will keep me coming back again and again.

Report this review (#307060)
Posted Thursday, October 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Lunatic Soul II is second release of Riverside bassist and vocalist Mariusz Duda solo project's. Debut album, released two years ago, had very similar cover art, just in black. So probably this release very soon will be known as " white album" ....

Duda plays many instruments there on this recording, but happily this is not one-man release! Between thousands of albums I listened during last three decades there are just a very few one-man albums of really great music!

Besides of Duda, two more musicians participated - his Riverside's colleague Maciej Szelenbaum (keyboards, flutes, quzheng) and Wawrzyniec Dramowicz (drums) from other Polish excellent band Indukti .

Music there (as on debut) is no way heavy prog or post-metal, as on many Riverside albums. Atmospheric,ambient sound with acoustic guitar, some percussion and keyboards on the back. This album is about atmosphere - music is very often minimalist and quite simple. Melancholic melodic down tempo compositions, sometimes almost modern ballades with clean vocals and modern arrangements.

You obviously can hear such elements on many Riverside recordings, just now this part is crystallized at its own right. And I believe it is possibly main ingredient, that made Riverside's music so unique and attractive for listeners all around the world. So - if you like it, you will enjoy in here on Lunatic Soul album even more. It will be difficult to describe what is it - ambient minimalistic atmosphere with characteristic Eastern European soulful melancholy. You can find very similar music on many David Sylvian albums though.

Not so strong or essential to be named masterpiece for sure, but this album really has its attractive moments and will be interesting for Mariusz Duda ,some Riverside fans and all lovers of melancholic atmospheric accessible ambient rock.

My rating is 3+, rounded to 4.

Report this review (#308374)
Posted Friday, November 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Lunatic Soul is the brainchild of Mariusz Duda, lead singer and bass player of progressive band Riverside. II is the second and last chapter of their intimate musical journey through the afterlife begun back in 2008 with the self-titled debut album. And don't be misled by the harmonious whiteness of the album sleeve: the tone remains as dark, melancholic and forlorn as in the 2008 'black' album.

Highly reminiscent of the innermost moments of Opeth, Antimatter and, of course, Riverside, Lunatic Soul's second effort is a fascinating piece of work. However, I have two major problems with this album, which prevent me from rating it higher than this. First, it is a slightly uneven and intermittent album: it offers 4-5 great musical moments discontinued by an equal number of rather uninspired passages. Secondly, the fascinating ideas it proposes are developed too slowly and through excessive repetition. The duo "Limbo - Escape from ParadIce" is a good example of what I dislike about this album: put in the middle of the album, these two songs drag for about 6 minutes altogether (which is about 15% of the album) without offering any truly remarkable moment.

But, as I wrote above, the album contains some great songs: Asoulum starts off with a minimalistic guitar riff and an eerie vocal melody before opening up into a beautiful chorus with emotional vocal harmonies sustained by a nice synth work. Transition, which is probably the best song on the album, gains momentum only after 3 sluggish minutes of ambience and background noises: it then grows into a groovy, bitter and highly emotional lament which brings to mind some of the Patterson-era Anathema. Gravestone Hill is a dark intermezzo with acoustic guitars and beautiful vocal melodies and harmonies. Wanderings is an unexpected, lighter ending to the album: here Duda treats us with some beautiful Dave Gahan-like vocal melodies supported by an intriguing web of loops and percussions. A welcomed breath of fresh air after about 45mins of acoustic intimacy and lethargic atmospheres.

Overall, this is a very good album (3.5 stars, really) - and you will probably love it if you are a fan of any of the bands mentioned above. Personally, I know that this album will keep me coming back to it - but I also know that I will be back for the goodies (Asoulum, Transition, Wanderings) and I will almost certainly skip the rest.

Report this review (#308674)
Posted Sunday, November 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a very strong release from the solo project of Riverside's Mariusz Duda, and is just about as far away from prog metal as you can get from one of the sub genre's key modern exponents.

The key to enjoyment in this album is the almost perfect atmosphere which classy musicians create.

The opener, The In Between Kingdom is a luscious instrumental, almost Arabesque in its sound and execution. Ambient progressive rock at its finest, and perhaps the best of its kind I have heard since Peter Gabriel's Passion.

This leads into Otherwhere, a stripped down ballad which is almost painful in its lovely melancholy. A feeling vocal is accompanied by some very good guitar work.

This dark atmosphere is continued as the track segues into Suspended In Whiteness. Almost minimal in its execution, I do love the keyboard work of Duda's colleague Szelenbaum in the background. There is also some great percussion work by Wawrzyniec Dramowicz as the track enters its main phase. Strong rhythms give this the perfect accompaniment to feeling vocals. Very broody and also very good, this is one of the many highlight's on the album.

Asoulum is almost so bleak as to be Arctic in its execution, but really is utterly beautiful in its melancholy and atmosphere. Very painful and almost mentally lost lyrics are portrayed very nicely, and accompanied by acoustic guitar, pounding bass, and background keyboards, all of which combine to create a massive sound, and you really do listen in wonder at the "lunatic" sound effects created by the background vocals. A very powerful piece of music which lingers in the memory for some time after you have finished listening.

Limbo is a short instrumental, just short of two minutes, featuring some interesting keyboard sound effects, and, again, really does remind me very strongly of some of the music that Gabriel experimented with.

This leads into Escape From Paradice, and the inescapable comparison to Gabriel continues, with some quite fantastic drum work which bears all the hallmarks of the best of what we started to call World Music. The main "help me" vocal theme of the album is reprised here, and the bittersweet, melancholic mood is predominant, before the track explodes into something that Riverside fans would find a little more recognisable in a couple of short, heavy, bursts.

Transition is the longest track on the album, clocking in at over 11 minutes. It begins with more world music influenced passages, executed very well. Keyboards take over to create, alongside vocal effects, what can only be described as an extremely unsettling and heavy ambience. I'm not quite sure what demons Duda needed to purge in the recording of this album, but whatever they were, I can only say that they are better out than in! The main body of the piece features Duda singing accompanied by only piano, minimalist synth effects, and bass drum thumping. Just over half way through, the track gives way to a louder section, and more in keeping with the darker side of heavy rock. The riff is so gloomy and loud that Sabbath themselves would have been proud to include it on their albums, and this continues right until the close of the track, where keyboards also explode into a lush symphonic backdrop to the riff.

The penultimate track is Gravestone Hill, which sounds like a title or location from a classic Western movie of years gone by. It is, in fact, a dark and lovely ballad featuring some lovely acoustic guitar work and more keyboard effects.

The album closes with Wanderings, which, to my knowledge, ends the two album sequence and project. If so, it is a fine way to end. A decidedly more upbeat track than much of what went before. The demons have clearly been exorcised, and the entire ensemble plays a quicker and sunnier backing to lyrics which look forward, rather than back.

This is a fine album. Aside from, as mentioned, the obvious similarities in parts to Gabriel's Passion, this is quite unlike anything else I have heard in some time. Ambient, atmospheric, (until the end) very dark, and brooding.

Four stars for this. An excellent addition to any prog rock collection.

Report this review (#326420)
Posted Friday, November 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. The RIVERSIDE frontman's second album doesn't veer off course that much from his debut. In fact they are connected lyrically as they deal with a story of death and the journey through the afterlife. On the first album our subject dies and he's trying to reach the tunnel of light and he does.This second album starts where the first album ended as our character is in the light and continues his journey. Lots of atmosphere and if you read the lyrics it's quite fascinating. It's like being in someone's bad dream where their soul just seems to drift from experience to experience.

"The In-Between Kingdom" is dark and atmospheric. Percussion after a minute followed by keyboards. It's building. It settles back late to end it as it blends into "Otherwhere". Acoustic guitar is joined by an instrument called a quzheng giving it an exotic flavour. Vocals before a minute. It settles and blends into "Suspended In Whiteness" a top three track for me. Acoustic guitar, a baby laughing and flute before the vocals arrive before a minute.The bass 3 1/2 minutes in is very deep and growly as the vocals stop and the sound intensifies.Vocals are back and this section really reminds me of RIVERSIDE. "Asoulum" features strummed guitar and vocals.The chorus is amazing on this song. Vocals and backing vocals come in as the sound becomes more passionate.The chorus is back before 4 minutes. A calm before 5 1/2 minutes to end it.

"Limbo" is keyboards, percussion, flute and effects. "Escape From Paradise" features bass and drums early as percussion and keyboards join in. Voices follow then vocals after 1 1/2 minutes. It kicks in before 2 1/2 minutes and the vocals are more powerful too. Great sound and a top three tune. "Transition" is the final top three track for me. Atmosphere galore until around 3 1/2 minutes when a beat enters then vocals with piano.The atmosphere is back 4 1/2 minutes in but it comes and goes like the vocals. It kicks in heavier after 6 minutes. Nice. Some emotion follows for me."Gravestone Hill" opens with acoustic guitar and keyboards as reserved vocals join in. Atmosphere ends it. "Wanderings" has this beat with keys as vocals join in. Bass a minute in. This sounds incredible.

I rate this a little higher than the debut but both are great albums. LUNATIC SOUL will continue according to Duda but he says this "Afterlife" story ends here.

Report this review (#344982)
Posted Monday, December 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars If you're going to do a side-project, then make sure it's different. There are far too many examples of musicians embarking on sabbaticals from their 'day job' bands only to produce something that amounts to a busman's holiday.

This is not an accusation that can be levelled at Mariusz Duda, the vocalist/bass player with the Polish progressive metal band Riverside. His first outing under the Lunatic Soul moniker, eponymously released in 2008, was "a conceptual journey to the world beyond full of reflections on transience and all we may want to leave after we pass" - that's life after death, for those who are more prosaically inclined.

As the subject matter would suggest the album was not exactly a barrel of laughs, but possessed a certain stark beauty through with minimalist ambient tones courtesy of Mr. Duda's voice and the keyboards of fellow Riversider Maciej Szelenbaum.

Maciej joins Mariusz again for Lunatic Soul II, as does Wawrzyniec Dramowicz, the drummer from Indukti, and this time it's just the three of them, with no guest musicians. On the project's web site, Mariusz states that this new album "is a sort of a continuation but certainly not a repetition", but I'm afraid that I can't agree with him about this. The tonal palette is pretty much the same - acoustic guitar, vocals and atmospheric keyboards - and the same melancholy pervades the nine tracks on this album as does the first release.

This isn't really a surprise - the two albums comprise a "diptych about the journey through the underworld" - but one is tempted to ponder on just how much further this concept could be taken without becoming too much of the same thing.

The album cover is almost a negative image of the predominantly black design of the first release - a white album to complement a black - though the textures and themes are no less dark. The opening track, "The In-Between Kingdom", is an instrumental - picked acoustic guitar, piano and almost tribal percussion together with (presumably sampled) ethnic-sounding instruments providing atmospheres. The vocals start on "Otherwhere", and it's with the songs that Mariusz really excels.

Songs amble along at a stately pace until "Escape from Paradice" (sic), which leads into the longest track on the album, "Transition", where samples abound, in a manner which brings back memories of Peter Gabriel's fourth album. The predominantly acoustic and charmingly titled "Gravestone Hill" then brings us to the final track, "Wanderings", which piles on the atmospherics and has an almost trip-hop feel to it.

If you liked the first Lunatic Soul album, chances are you'll like this one. The presentation of the two suggests that they complement each other, and that's pretty much how it works sonically, too. It's not Riverside - in fact, it's a million miles away from the band's work, except that it's the same singer - and for that Mr. Duda should be applauded in following his own muse.

For myself, I can't say I really like this album, even though I admire it. But my reasons are largely personal - there's little in the way of light and shade, and for some reason the themes just don't 'click' with me. But if your cup of tea is atmospheric, dark progressive rock, then you could do no worse than invest in this one.

Report this review (#349780)
Posted Saturday, December 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars As most previous reviewers pointed out already, we're all glad to hear a significant growth for Duda's side-project. The band that Duda gathered around him seems more relaxed and a wide range of influences breathes fresh air through all songs. The mood is still consistently melancholic but the music offers more depth and variation then the previous album, which was close to excellent as well.

For those not familiar with Lunatic Soul, they can be briefly described as a project highlighting the softer and melancholic side of Riverside. There are no distorted guitars or prominent synths in this work, so the acoustic side prevails and reveals influences from world music reminding of both Peter Gabriel and Dead Can Dance.

The album doesn't stray far from the path laid out on the previous Lunatic Soul album but the songwriting seems richer and more diverse, and remains engaging all the way through. A nice and pleasant album, accessible but also growing with repeated listens. Essential for fans of Anathema, Antimatter, No-man, Brandan Perry and similar atmospheric rock.

Report this review (#355437)
Posted Friday, December 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Riverside's Mariusz Duda has, like most gifted musicians, the need to outlet more than one muse, as artists in general are way more multi-intellectual that the market cares to accept. This attitude explains the yearning for different urges that go beyond 'the one that pays the bills' and Lunatic Soul is where the bassman/composer attempts to forge a more personal path, delving into darker, more atmospheric horizons that have been correctly identified by previous quote smiths as ambient, nearly gothic musical realms closer to Dead Can Dance or No-Man. Let's get one thing perfectly straight right off the bat, there is no prog- metal, no grunting, no pounding merciless beats and not even any Floydian expanses. We are squarely in the realm of electronica , as the symphonic opener 'In Between the Kingdom' attests, swirling swaths of synthesizers, slashing through the beats and then on the impressive 'Otherwhere' gentle Asian guitar strumming and minimalistic piano platforms the seductively melancholic voice straying through the wispy mood, in a almost Neo-medieval tone that is deliciously appealing. The next one up is a decided highpoint of dreamy aural visions, 'Suspended in Whiteness' augurs a wintry climate, snowflakes breaking their subtle earthward tumble , eternally unaffected by time and space, the 'tch- tch' in the back ground rekindling memories of Roxy Music's classic 'The Bogus Man', the rumbling bass groove carving gently as the drums start pounding its marshal sleet. This is a damn brilliant, astoundingly melodic, intense and satisfying piece of music that engenders a climate of reverie and numbness. Steven Wilson would definitely approve! The desolating 'Asoulum' is even more stripped down, a tired Duda vocal finds itself shrouded in echo, with disturbing lyrics mirroring the deep inner pain. The synth backwash is truly magnificent in its utter simplicity, proof once again that feelings are proggier that cascades of frenzied notes in the right context. The connections to Lunatic Soul become obvious as the tension spirals into eddying vortex of choir incantations, heightening the drama and the sacrifice. Another stellar track for the ages as it veers into reflective mists and ends in serenity. A trio of keyboardist Maciej Szelenbaum compositions segues nicely, the moody and brief semi-tropical instrumental 'Limbo' , followed by the majestic piano- led 'Escape from Paradise'. Here the feel opts for a more Middle Oriental scenario where Duda can wail in absolute quietude, especially as the tune explodes into a rather irate howl ('I know I cannot take it anymore'), fueled by some quite explosive drum work. Incredible, again! Wondering whether this album can get any better, Duda proposes to attack the listener aural jugular and unleashes the epic 'Transition', a near dozen minutes of musical architecture that encompasses a wide variety of moods and tempers, defining the very personal style he seemingly cannot totally incorporate into the Riverside catalogue. The density is crushing, as if trapped in some cottony cocoon, taking its sweet time to tenderly unravel, a forlorn vocal shuddering in fatalistic anguish and ratcheting up the sorrow. The strident section shows no apparent mercy, suturing its way into the fray with little else than fear of the unknown and doing so emphatically ('In my sunset days''). The quality of Duda's vocal delivery is way more apparent in such a context, where his troubled personality (He is Polish after all!) can exalt in its honesty. This strange contrast between beauty and despair is what makes this album so compelling. 'Gravestone Hill' is a bittersweet ballad that heaves panting, exuding delicacy and frill, a snowy interlude that is succinct and masterful. The finale 'Wanderings' is a perfect ending, e-beats swirling with ease, electric piano droplets, all held together with a truly sensational vocal from the Pole. When the real drums hammer in, the panorama of sound and experience opens its gates even wider, the approving nods from the audience bob in unison. This is a good one, people. As a devoted fan of all things romantic and melancholic, I admit I prefer this over the day gig (Riverside's debut notwithstanding). A tremendous moody selection that is perfect for reflective introspection.

4.5 madcap psyches

Report this review (#427349)
Posted Sunday, April 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Lunatic Soul , is a solo/side project from Riverside frontman Duda, with the help of Maciej Szelenbaum mostly on flutes (Chinese Guzheng !! on one track) and Indukti drummer Wawrzyniec Dramowicz. Riverside keyboard player Michał Łapaj is no longer with the band.

I have not got Lunatic Soul I, so I cannot compare this album with the debut.

Besides the distinct sound of Duda's vocals, this is as far from Riverside Prog-Metal, as he could possible move. The project features an Ambient inspired music, in the line of what we know from David Sylvian, Mike Oldfield, later No-Man albums, and sometimes moving in the direction of ethnic inspired music like Kitaro or Brian Eno. But In a very unique way, that makes it an album, very much its own.

Building on a palette of repetitive patterns, ethnic tribal rhythms, and beautiful vocals. Very intelligent and delightful, combining the ingredients. Sometimes very discreet and dreamy, other times more intense percussions and a very filled sound picture.

In my personal taste it's a full blown 5 star masterpiece, that I really enjoy. But I will give 4 stars, because its not actually a prog. masterpiece that is a must have for everyone into prog. You have to like this kind of music, with next to no "rock" and a lot of relaxing sounds. Then it's a true masterpiece.

Report this review (#794966)
Posted Thursday, July 26, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars I recognize that in terms of originality and musicianship this album would likely be rated 3 stars, in truth the album probably should be rated 3.5 stars as a whole, the production and vocals are very good but the music is, at times, a bit bland.

Nevertheless I did something I rarely do, I gave an album a higher rating than it probably deserves. Usually my distinction for what constitutes a 3 star or a 4 star album is whether or not I will probably ever listen to it again and this is an album I can listen to repeatedly. It is gorgeous. The vocals are lovely, the music is serene, the point here isn't to wow you technically but to relax you emotionally.

Nevertheless it isn't an original album, this music has been done time and time again. The music does blend together and, aside from the last song 'Wanderings', I couldn't differentiate between one song and another.

Nevertheless this is a good record, it's right up my alley. The song 'Wanderings' is head and shoulders above the other songs but 'The In-Between Kingdom', 'Suspended in Whiteness' and 'Transition' are all fantastic songs too and no song on the album I should mention is bad, this is a very consistent and well-flowing album.

A good album, not a masterpiece and probably not for everybody but a lovely listen nonetheless.

Report this review (#1213493)
Posted Monday, July 14, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars I am listening this CD third time in a row and I am captivated by the music three people can accomplish.

Atmospheric, moody, world music, all of those adjectives describe what is going on with this the second coming of Duda.

Of course It is related to Gabriel but sometimes I feel this is more authentic (never liked Gabriel on his own that much).

So this is a good way to spend your Saturday, as I am now doing, and let the record spin while you sip on Orange Juice and travel with Duda to that special place that happens after death.

Of course I am hooked on this band.

Report this review (#1379323)
Posted Saturday, March 7, 2015 | Review Permalink

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