What can I even say this week? After the devastating news that rocked the entire music world over the weekend, it’s hard to tear my ears away from Foo Fighters. However, a lot of potentially great music came out last Friday, and one of them is very fitting, which you are about to read. Join me as we take a look at this week in music.
Also, as a little P.S. 13 albums came out last week, this is gonna be a long one.
Dream Widow: Self-Titled
Yes, let’s get the tough one out of the way first. The Foo Fighters’ alter ego metal band created for their very own movie, Studio 666, was released just the day before the tragic, untimely passing of their drummer Taylor Hawkins. While the immediate future of Dave Grohl and co. is up in the air, this album and Studio 666 is one hell of a statement to leave behind for a while.
First things first to get the obvious out of the way, Dave Grohl can scream damn well. It is not at all fair how damn talented that man is at everything. However, that’s not to take away from the rest of the band, this is a damn good extreme metal band. From the balls-to-the-wall opener through the massively catchy doom metal of ‘Cold’ to the albums single, it’s one of the strongest opening three tracks of any album this year. All three made the playlist, as did the suitably epic ‘Becoming’. It’s hard not to separate the situation from the music, but even if Taylor was still with us this would still be an incredible album and brings a lot of mainstream eyes on an otherwise sheltered sub-genre. All of it combined, how can I not give it 10/10?
Machine Gun Kelly: Mainstream Sellout
Apologies in advance for even mentioning the man. However, whether we all like it or not, he is somehow classed as ‘rock’ music these days, and we are a rock publication, so unfortunately I’m gonna have to listen to it. I listened to his last album, Tickets to my Downfall, and believe I scored it around a 6. Let’s see if this one lives up to the ‘hype’ surrounding him.
It doesn’t. That was a TERRIBLE listen. I was already over it by the second track, but being the consummate professional I am, I gritted my teeth and bared it. It was the longest 40 minutes of my life. I don’t know what I hate more, his awful, not-even-autotune-could-save vocals or his angsty 12-year-old lyrics. Oh, or maybe it was how all the guest acts are somehow JUST AS BAD AS HE IS. Or maybe it’s this faux-rockstar persona he has decided to adopt, seemingly being proud to be a drug addict and suicidal, instead of putting any emotion or message behind his words. Heck, he couldn’t even have some attitude when he was calling out the people who shat on his last album. His autotune probably wouldn’t allow it. This experimentation into ‘pop-punk’ (it’s still just pop music) needs to end, it’s not good. Can someone write a rock diss track about him already and run him out of the genre like Eminem did with his rap career? 1/10
Placebo: Never Let Me Go
A band that I can safely say I used to be a fan of but haven’t really gotten into their stuff since 2006’s Meds. However, I have heard a single or two from this album on the radio and it’s sounding good, I’m more excited than I have been about their last two albums.
I have to admit, the singles were definitely the big highlights of the album. ‘Surrounded by Spies’ is my favourite track by the band since ‘Meds’ and the likes of ‘Beautiful James’ and even ‘Sad White Reggae’ are all awesome. However, not all of the album is quite as strong. The opener fell a little flat, as did tracks like ‘Hugz’ and ‘Twin Demons’. It’s still better than anything they have put out in a while, but at nearly an hour it may be just a tad bloated. Still, I enjoyed it a lot! 7/10
Animals as Leaders: Parrhesia
Instrumental djent pioneers Animals as Leaders dropped their much anticipated fifth album on Friday. The three once again prove why they are up there with some of the best musicians around today, in any genre. Heck, the opening track alone should prove that, from Matt’s insane drum playing to some truly inspired guitar work and THAT bass part, the band show why they get so much praise. And that’s just the first five minutes. Then you have the two huge singles in ‘Monomyth’ and ‘The Problem of Other Minds’ which are both equally brilliant. Oh, and the other six tracks are pretty great too! As usual, if you struggle with instrumental music you’ll probably still find this a tough 35 minutes, but it’s a solid album that’s well worth checking out even a bit of. 7.5/10
Reckless Love: Turborider
The Finnish Glam rockers returned to the studio after six years away from it and, just like their last album, their sound has evolved somewhat again. I have to admit, I kept wanting to call this Turbo Lover instead of Turborider; the band seem to have adopted elements of Judas Priest’s Turbo and Painkiller albums into their own sound. It’s heavier and more electro-pop, but still keeps the underlying elements of glam that brought them to the dance with their first few albums.
Honestly, I’m not sure how convinced I am by the change in sound. Don’t get me wrong, I love the heavier tracks like the title track and the old-school-glam of ”89 Sparkle’, but some of the rest feels like the bands attempt to capitalise on the somehow still rolling wave of 80s nostalgia. They don’t capitalise quite as well as the likes of Stranger Things or The Weeknd, and it somehow comes across as less genuine than playing straight up 80s glam. They will always have a hard task beating Spirit, and while this was overall enjoyable, they didn’t with this one. 6/10
COIN: Uncanny Valley
American pop-rock band COIN returned with their fourth album over the weekend. It’s definitely on the lighter end of rock music, but stuff like ‘Chapstick’ and ‘Cutie’. Unfortunately, the rest was all painfully slow and samey, boring me pretty quick. It’s not my sort of thing at all, but if you enjoyed it more power to you! 3/10
Abbath: Dread Reaver
Don’t worry guys, Abbath is here to bring some metal back to the proceedings. The former Immortal front-man returned with his third studio album, and it’s just as dark and black metal as all the rest of his stuff. If anyone is familiar with any of his stuff then you know exactly what to expect here, and it’s good. I do still feel like once you’ve listened to one black metal album you’re pretty familiar with it all, it’s still the one sub-genre of metal I don’t quite ‘get’, but it’s still an okay listen all the same! Highlights include ‘Scarred Core’ and ‘Septentrion’. Also a shout-out to their ‘Trapped Under Ice’ cover, it’s heavier than the original and I think it does it some favours! 6/10
Hardcore Superstar: Abrakadabra
Swedish hard rock band Hardcore Superstar have been around a lot longer than most realise, with Adbrakadabra being the bands 12th studio album. I’ve been a fan since their self-titled album, and honestly this one is fairly close in terms of quality. Tracks like ‘Influencer’, ‘Weep When I Die’ and ‘Give me a Smile’ all sound fantastic, like they were written by a band comfortable and proud of their sound. Plus, single ‘Catch Me If You Can’ is one of the best songs they’ve ever written, in my opinion. Great stuff from one of the most underappreciated bands of the last decade. 8/10
Falls of Rauros: Key to a Vanishing Future
Time for some more black metal, this time with some slight folk influence. I hadn’t even heard of the band before this article but already appreciate the LOTR reference. Like I said previously, it’s still black metal, so not a massive amount stands out from me compared to the Abbath album earlier. Don’t get me wrong, the atmosphere is a little different, it feels a tad more epic and open, more room to breathe. But musically it is a lot of the same elements and tropes and generally they don’t interest me as much as other sub-genres. Please don’t hate me in the comments. But, having said that, it was still a decent album. 5/10
The melodic hardcore band bring some much needed punk to NMM, as no enough punk bands put stuff out regularly any more. I’ve been a fan of this band for a few years now, ever since Spotify recommended the Our Darkest Days album. They always reminded me of a heavier Anti-Flag, which is high praise as they are one of my favourite bands. And, honestly, this album is up there with some of the best either band have produced. It’s heavy, catchy, punk AF and honestly has a great anti-establishment message behind it that music is definitely lacking in these days. I’m struggling to even pick highlights out of it, it’s all that good. Check out the playlist for the very best of the tracks, but honestly I could have put the whole album on there. 9/10
Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard: The Harvest
The Welsh prog-doomers are back with a follow-up to 2019s Yn Oi I Annwn. I actually reviewed it back in 2020, giving it an 8/10 I believe. They are a great band and let’s see if this one measure up to their last!
It’s just as epic and ethereal as the previous album, something I loved back then. Everything is given such room to breathe, getting the most out of every section and riff. Between that and the multiple interlude tracks between songs that tie everything together in a nice little spacy bow, this is definitely an album to listen to all the way through in one. Chuck this on and lay back in a dark room, maybe with some questionable substances in your system, and just enjoy. But, if you don’t have that much spare time or acid, holy crap is ‘Logic Bomb’ amazing. It’s another home-run form yet another band that don’t get the credit they deserve. It’s another 8/10.
Light Beneath: Self-Titled
And finally we reach the debut album of Finnish post-metal band Light Beneath. It’s heavy, I’ll give them that. However, it’s in the slower, more open stuff that I find myself enjoying it more. The intro to ‘Sirens’ is beautiful, and the way the it all fits together is so Tool it’s insane. In fact, said track is my favourite on the album, it’s sludgy and heavy and builds perfectly through the screaming and drums. The other tracks are good, but they don’t have quite as fun or memorable a structure as ‘Sirens’. Overall, though, a solid debut! 7/10
And there we have it, a MASSIVE week in rock and metal music, with some fantastic albums out, albeit amongst some not so great ones. Stay tuned for next week: Red Hot Chili Peppers! Keep an eye out on our socials here for it!