Strap yourselves in, ladies and gents, because we have a long one ahead of us. 18, yes 18 albums to check out. And I apologise in advance because half of this more than likely isn’t going to be for you. For all of our fans we have built up over the years there is a fair amount of heavy in here. But for all of the country fans we have started to gain recently, there is a fair bit of that too. Sorry if we scare anyone off with the stark contrasts. But check it out anyway, who knows, you might find your new favourite band! Let’s get into some new music!
Oh, and our newest writer, Max, jumped on to give me a hand again with some of these, so of course give him a hand!
Ozzy Osbourne: Patient Number 9
Ozzy should have called it a day a decade ago. He was struggling a little on Sabbath’s farewell tour but they still went out with a bang. Since then, his health has deteriorated and, let’s be honest, he can’t tour any more.
Having said that, this was better than it had any right to be. I wasn’t into Ordinary Man at all but this makes up for it. I’ve been a big advocate of ‘Patient Number 9’ since its release, it’s one of the best choruses Ozzy’s ever done. The same could be said for ‘One of Those Days’. And, of course, he has a guest guitarist on each track, and he’s selected some of the very best of all time. Between Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Zakk Wylde and Toni Iommi, there is some incredible soloing here.
My only slight negative would be that it’s all a little slow. However, for a 73 year old man, I didn’t really expect him to have the same energy in his tracks as he did 50 years ago. If Ozzy is going to stick to just studio music from now on, this is how to do it! 7.5/10
Parkway Drive: Darker Still
I really wanted to like this. And the weird thing is that sometimes I found myself enjoying it, but then other times it fell beneath expectation. Heck, sometimes both in the same track.
The Australian band continue to let more and more European power metal to seep into their American metalcore, to mixed results. And this isn’t even coming from a jaded old Parkway fan. I didn’t really get into them until IRE. But I LOVED that and Reverence so was excited for this album. I don’t think it lives up to my hype, but that’s not saying it’s bad. It’s certainly odd though.
I’m one of the seemingly few who loved ‘Glitch’ when it was released and I still do now. ‘The Greatest Fear’ is okay too, though it doesn’t go quite hard enough. ‘Darker Still’ however, can get in the bin. The only genuine highlight I’ve found that I’ve listened to multiple times since is ‘Soul Bleach’. Having said that though, the more I listen to that track, the more I love it. It’s heavy and the sound I wish they’d gone for for the whole record. ‘If a God can Bleed’ is weird enough to work and ‘Imperial Heretic’ is okay, but both are pretty average really. The couple of closing tracks are good, too.
As I say, nothing on here is bad at all. Maybe (hopefully) it’ll grow on me with another few listens, but right now I feel like it’s around a 7/10. Not as ground-breaking as I was hoping for.
Flogging Molly: Anthem
The not-so-Irish Irish folk punk band are back with their seventh studio album. That makes me feel old. The whole early 2000s skate-punk scene was a big part of my childhood, and hearing new music from them just makes me smile. How can anyone not like this music? It’s got the very best parts of folk, punk and rock.
There isn’t a bad track on the album. From the raucous opening track to the slower, full-on old folk songs to the fantastic ‘This Road of Mine’, it’s all great! Whether you’re into folk, punk, rock, americana or probably a bunch of other genres too, you’ll find something to enjoy here. This may be their best album since Float, and that’s saying something! 8/10
Highly Suspect: The Midnight Demon Club
I loved the first couple of Highly Suspect albums. Tracks like ‘Lydia’, ‘Bloodfeather’ and ‘My Name is Human’ all felt like they were harkening in the next big, heavy indie band. However, their last album seemed to soil that, at least over here. I wasn’t a big fan and I’ve not really seen them on any line-ups or heard them on the radio much over the last five years.
This album is at least a step in the right direction. None of it is quite as impactful as any of the previous tracks I named, but they’re at least solid, moody radio rock songs. That is, aside for the heavy AF single ‘Pink Lullabye’. It was like listening to a Zeal & Ardor track and I loved it. The rest of it was pretty similar, steady-paced, okayness (with lyrics of questionable quality), but damn is ‘Lullabye’ a tune. 6/10
ONE OK ROCK: Luxury Disease
The Japanese alt rock band returned last week with their tenth studio album. Going into it completely blind, having never heard the band before, I enjoyed it! It’s pretty basic pop rock, but there is nothing offensive or inherently bad about it. It was cool to hear the combination of English and Japanese vocals too, highlighting their own sound and culture as well as the sounds that inspired them. It reminds me of a combination of Panic! and Set it Off, but then with an even poppier ting to it.
‘Neon’ is probably my favourite track on the album, but again there aren’t really bad tracks here. The emotional ‘When They Turn the Lights On’ channelled heavy British vibes, whether it was Muse or Busted or Queen. Also, Teddy Swims sounds great in his guest vocals for ‘Free Them’. There’s a lot of good here if you’re into the lighter stuff. 7/10
Blackment: Plains of Oblivion
We’ve already done a full review of this album. Check it out, along with the fantastic score, here.
Built to Spill: When the Wind Forgets Your Name
Max: The American indie rock band, Built To Spill, is back with another great album. WTWFYN is the 10th album by the band, and it is a perfect addition. If you enjoy slower music its perfect for you as it, as always, focuses around Doug Martsch’s vocals and guitar. I found it difficult to sum up exactly what made this album so good but the simplicity of some for the riffs and the fun but relaxed vocals feel very relaxing. I sat up the other night listening to it and letting all of the instruments just wash over me and tell me everything that they have hidden beneath. It is a beautiful and yet thoughtful listen that can definitely click with everyone so long as it lets you. My rating might be slightly biased as I’ve been looking for an album that makes me feel the same way I did when I first listened to Motion City Soundtracks acoustics song, but it is an almost perfect 9/10 and I hope everyone reading this takes a listen.
Bloodbath: “Survival of the Sickest”
Max: Time for a sharp change of pace. The death metal supergroup is back with another very, very intense album. For those who are unfamiliar this group and has had a wild line up but currently consist of Martin Axenrot (Opeth), Nick Holmes (Paradise Lost), Jonas Renkse (Katatonia) and Anders Nystrom (Katatonia). so, with such a wild line up it is unsurprising that this album is brilliant for most and even better for those who follow black metal. The album is intense and is not always the friendliest of listens but it is a great one and i must say it isn’t a bad or hard place to start for those who don’t listen to black metal. So, if this becomes your entrance album, I do not blame you as it has got me back in to Katatonia and Paradise Lost. As I’ve mentioned this is a fun and intense album that does not disappoint and is great for those who need a heavy dose of music in their system. A very respectable 8/10
Laurence Jones: Destination Unknown
This is an old blues rock fans dream. Between the awesome riffs, powerful vocals and heavy focus on synth, this felt like it was ripped straight from the 70s. The guitar is of course a huge highlight of the album, but that shouldn’t take away from his great vocals and the awesome work of the band behind him. This sound has been coming back more and more in recent times, be it with Rival Sons or in the NWOCR scene, and tracks like ‘Anywhere With Me’, ‘Give Me that Feeling’ and ‘In Too Deep’ look to catapult Laurence pretty high up in that scene. If you’re into the likes of Rainbow, Foghat, Rival Sons or even ZZ Top, check this out, you won’t be disappointed! 7.5/10
BRELAND: Cross Country
Cross Country is the debut studio album of platinum single-selling artist BRELAND. He became big off of said single, ‘My Truck’, in 2020 after it hitting big on social media. This album features guest slots from the likes of Keith Urban, Ingred Andress and Thomas Rhett.
If all of that sounds insane for a 27-year-old musician… well I fucking agree.
The music itself combines R&B, rap and soul to the country sound. It’s basically what everyone wanted Lil Nas X to continue to sound like after ‘Old Town Road’. Now, I completely understand that this isn’t going to be every readers cup of tea. I get that I am in the small part of the Ven diagram that like both this and Bloodbath further up. However, I loved this. Tracks like ‘Praise the Lord’, ‘Natural’, ‘Don’t Look at Me’ and ‘For What it’s Worth’ are all fantastic tracks.
However, it’s not perfect. The album is pretty bloated at 14 tracks and there is a noticeable dip in energy (and arguably quality too) around the middle which it doesn’t really recover from. It verges more into his soul stuff which I’m sure a lot of his fans love, but it’s not as much for me. 6.5/10
Stray From the Path: Euthanasia
This was like Fever 333 on acid, and I loved every second of it. The bounce and swagger of the opening track had me hooked immediately, especially with the fantastic lyrics harshly rapped over the top.
The same energy continued throughout the album, too. It’s dark, heavy and dripping with attitude and anger. Tracks like ‘III’, ‘Bread and Roses’ and ‘The Salt in Your Spit’ are highlights of an album honestly filled with them. In an age where Rage Against the Machine feel corporate, having a younger, angrier, heavier band pick up the flag they dropped feels like a very good thing.
I feel bad for myself that this band have been going for a while now but this is the first I’ve really heard of them. I feel like the rest of my week is going to be checking out their older stuff, because that was fucking fantastic. 9/10
I AM: Eternal Steel
This band are very hard to find online. I don’t think they are the Fre3nch hip hop artist IAM, nor are they ZP (Dragonforce)’s side band I Am I. Therefore, all I can tell you is what I hear.
What I hear is heavy but damn good. ‘The Primal Wave’ opens things on a brutal, fantastic note, and it’s only up and up from there. Tracks like the title song and ‘Queen Incarnate’ are great and make me want to check out more of what the band I have to offer. Hopefully I can find more about them than just their discography and can see if they venture over here for live shows at all. This whole album would be fantastic live. Check it out if you’re into the heavy, almost medieval death metal stuff, you won’t regret it! 7.5/10
Kane Brown: Different Man
Kane Brown is going to become to Georgia what RHCP are to California if he keeps up like this. In all seriousness though, the man who did what BRELAND has just done but a few years earlier is back with his third studio album. After the HUGE sucess of the last one, I’m curious to see if he can keep his momentum going.
Right out of the gate ‘Bury Me in Georgia’ is a fantastic southern rock track. Next up is a dark, brooding roots track with Blake Shelton. But damn, it’s still good. ‘Like I Love Country Music’ channels the best kind of bro-country and adds some rock and fiddle to it. It’s a fantastic run of three tracks to open. It unfortunately again drops in energy a little again after that until ‘the excellent ‘Riot’. At least this one manages to claw back the fun and tempo, unlike BRELAND. The couple of tracks after it, ‘One Mississippi’ and ‘Drunk or Dreamin” are also great. ‘Pop’s Last Name’ is a beautiful, emotional ballad. ‘Devil Don’t Even Bother’ is True Blood style awesomeness.
However, my issue is the same as BRELAND (sorry to keep bringing him up). 17 tracks is simply too long. Is it an issue throughout country as a whole at the minute? Do none of them have producers? I can give four or five tracks that, while not bad by any stretch, I’d have cut to make this an easier, more concise listen. There are maybe 11 tracks on this that are phenomenal, and the rest seem too much as a result. 8.5/10, but it would have gotten a 9 if it was a little shorter.
Eat Your Heart Out: Can’t Stay Forever
Some more pop rock now, this time from Geordie Australia. I have to admit it was pretty enjoyable. I know it’s cliche at this point to compare any pop rock/pop punk with a female vocalist to Paramore, but screw you guys, I’mma do it anyway. They’re like a slightly heavier Paramore. They definitely feel like they are bridging the gap between rock and the weird ‘rock’ that is in pop these days. If you like this sort of music, check out tracks like ‘Down’, ‘Heavenly’ and ‘Sour’. 6.5/10
Until I Wake: Inside My Head
The creepy ‘The Sacrifice’ heading into the harsh vocals and huge riffing of ‘Forsaken’ may be one of my favourite album openings of recent times. For a debut album, too, that is one hell of an achievement. Heck, I would even good as far as to argue that ‘Forsaken’ is one of the best metalcore tracks released in the last nearly decade. That shit goes hard.
It is because of that track that I was surprised and a tad disappointed with the rest of the album. It’s still good, don’t get me wrong, but it feels like a different album to the opener entirely. It’s closer to Sempiternal/That’s the Spirit era Bring Me or even Linkin Park than the Norma Jean style metalcore I was expecting. We finally get some heavy stuff again towards the back end of the album like ‘Still Sinking’ and ‘Blue Beam’. Both are great tracks and I just wish more of the album had this sort of energy. Sprinkling a few in around radio-metal tracks is an odd choice and would definitely scare a casual listener checking them out after hearing their lighter stuff.
But still, the rest of the tracks are still good, just not what I was expecting after the opening. The band do both sides of metalcore very well so if you like the genre you’ll find something to enjoy! 7.5/10
Warforged: The Grove / Sundial
Aside for having some of the best album artwork I’ve ever seen, I actually found this the hardest album for me to review this week. While some of the music and riff are great, it’s the very definition of chaos. The vocals don’t help matters either, being very heavy death metal growls. It’s the least accessible album on this list, and that’s actually saying something this week, but I’m sure the band don’t care. There’s a couple of cool moments, like in ‘Hymn of Broken Teeth’, where multiple screams join together and sound awesome. I’d definitely recommend checking that track out out of any of them, it’s probably the best representation of them as a band. But it was even a little to heavy and chaotic for me. If you enjoy this then awesome, I’m sure its fucking fantastic if you like the genre. But it wasn’t for me, so gets a 4/10
Derek Hoke: Electric Mountain
While some of this was a tad too slow for me, tracks like ‘Let Go of my Heart’, ‘Hush Your Mouth’ and ‘Novocaine’ being particular standouts. It takes a very traditional approach to country music which I can definitely appreciate and would probably love a lot more after seeing it live. I don’t really have many more thoughts about this one, it’s a good, atmospheric album that I feel would make a fantastic soundtrack to a moody movie/tv series. It may take me another couple of listens to fully ‘get’ though. 6.5/10
And there we have it guys. We did it! What a crazy weekend, but there are some insanely good albums here. If you enjoyed the article, check out more from our Instagram here.