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Monday, January 28, 2013
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Originally formed in the Crete town of China (situated on the West side of the northern Coast of the Island) during 2007, Playgrounded only stabilized its line-up around lead singer Stavros Markonis, guitarist Michael Kotsirakis, keyboardist/ electronics man Orestis Zafeiriou, bassist Odisseas Zafeiriou and drummer Vasilis Podaras in 2010.

Currently operating out of Athens and Crete, and influenced by the likes of Tool, Deftones, Porcupine Tree, Karnivool and Dream Theater to name but a few, the band honed its crafts on the live scene, with support slots for Rotting Christ, Archive's Craig Walker and Anathema counting among the band members' most valued shows. Soon enough, the band concentrated on recording the material for this, their debut album. To do so, they worked at Athens' Nerv Studios with recording engineers George Florakis and George Alamaras, the latter co-producing the album with the band, and also performing the final mix. The files were then sent over to Grammy award winning Ted Jensen (known from his work with the likes of Muse, Dream Theater and Deftones) at New York's Sterling Sound Studios, to do the mastering of the recordings.

To situate the band stylistically, it's fair to say that their modern progressive style is often closer to Rock than it is to Metal, and somewhere between the harsher side of Porcupine Tree and the calmer sides of Tool and Deftones...with a singer whom does not have those same whaling vocal qualities as in the case of those two latter bands named. Lyrically, Athens is all about the socio-political issues of the band's home country's misfortunes of the latter years. Poignant little detail about the cover art of the album: all around that circular center, you get a repetition of the chemical formula C10H5ClN2, aka 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile. Also known as o-chlorobenzylidene malononitrile, it is the active compound of CS Gas, or tear gas! No idea why it was put there...I'm sure the economic situation of Greece is bad enough to induce the inhabitants of that country to tears without extra external chemical components.

For less tear-inducing and more musical material, check the band's music at its webspaces (besides a website of its own, there's also pages on facebook, MySpace, Soundcloud, and YouTube). Great stuff this, and worthy of a nomination for the year-lists by all means!