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Mike Drazka - Songs from the Asylum [review]
Katarzyna NINa Górnisiewicz | Detailed or mini-review submissions: song, EP/album | Suggest an artist
Mike Drazka - Songs from the Asylum |self-released, 2012|

01. The Awakening , 02. Angels Of War, 03. The Nightmare, 04. Black River, 05. Sucker Punch, 06. Crown Of Thorns, 07. Path of Destruction

Mike Drazka is an American songwriter and self taught multi-instrumentalist who has already placed his music into various forms of visual media such as TV, radio and internet multimedia sources including Oxygen Network, News12 Networks, MSG Networks and The Motion Picture Association of America with the award winning documentary Flight 587. His Songs from the Asylum album brings seven instrumental tracks that could be easily utilized in action video games as well as movies.

The album begins with "The Awakening" which brings orchestrated rock sounds spiced up with electronica. It would be perfect if Mike hired a metal genre female singer to add vocals to it. The compositional aspects of the song are built on verses and choruses with cumulative moments and spots where a listener's brain can relax as well. Arrangements which have been written for guitars, bass, drums and keyboards have resulted in a cool rock track that has a chance for hit potential despite missing vocals.

"Angels of War" is a heavy track due to its looped guitar riffs and sampling. Atmospheric parts in the background based on angel-esque voices and violins are interlaced with the main theme.
On the other hand, "The Nightmare" has an intro that consist of brooding metal bass lines and drums which are joined by noisy guitars and cut with a synthesizer sometimes too. This would be also a perfect song to have male rock vocals added that could intensify the track and add a remarkable aspect. Overall, the dark and heavy moods sound as if they smuggled a nightmare into an asylum.

Creative noise opens the fourth song on the tracklist called "Black River", which I personally find one of the best compositions on this album along with "Crown of Thorns" and "Sucker Punch".
"Black River" sounds powerful due to chunky guitars joined by keyboards while the drum beat builds the structure of the song. An unforgettable and ear-friendly guitar motif that appears in segments of the song may also steal your heart. Moreover, the guitar tracks act as a surrogate to vocal parts which makes a listener take no notice that the song is missing a vocalist. The composition flows quite stable and the arrangements match one another well. "Black River" is as full of dynamics as it is memorable, this is thanks to Mike's great songwriting and sound design skills.

Mike Drazka wrote and played each instrument on every song except for two. You can hear very heavy metal, yet distorted riffs played by American guitarist Frank Guertin as well as the drum beats by Russ Miller in "Sucker Punch" and "Crown of Thorns".
The first of the two, “Sucker Punch”, is a track where heavy metal collides with electronica. Hardcore riffs lead the song over backgrounds which feature drums, bass and rhythm guitars, but electronic effects and sampling appear in some spots too. This track would be a great fit to an action movie trailer since it can underline specific scenes and moods very well.
"Crown of Thorns" turns out quite short (less than 3 minutes), though it is fully dominated by deep tribal drum beats. The initial mixture of Mike's concept of synths and silence gave me a flashback of Harold Faltermeyer's compositions. The intro may be a bit too long, but the track continuously evolves. However, if the purpose of the song was to be background music for a presentation or a video game with a few images slid into the beginning, the length of the intro would make a perfect sense.

"Path of Destruction" finishes the Songs from the Asylum album. It seems to utilize the same ideas as are found in "Crown of Thorns" (the length of intro) in the beginning, but the overall vibe is more electronic and noisy than in the previous songs. There are some guitar riffs involved, although it seems like they were processed through a digital sequencer.

Well designed music doubles the joy of playing video games as well as watching movies. Images and motion do speak directly, yet they become harsh without matching music. Some game designers and movie directors have awesome works in progress, but they are missing music that can emphasize their work to a maximum dynamic effect. Mike has an excellent set of songs which would match any type of 'action' motion picture or video game due to their climactic guitar driven instrumental themes. It would be great if Mike had a chance to collaborate with such professionals as mentioned above to utilize his music in their productions and allow for visually stunning multimedia. Hopefully some professionals who are in the gaming and film industries may find Mike Drazka thanks to this review and begin a creative and successful collaboration together.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Magazine, June 11th, 2012)

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