Not a huge week for new music this week, but it’s brimming with potential. Weezer’s third season, The Rasmus’ post-Eurovision album and some great lighter rock. Not to mention a bit of metal sprinkled in for good measure. Let’s get into this!
Weezer: SZNZ: Autumn
Joe: Weezer are 1/2 so far this year for me. I wasn’t a huge fan of Spring but Summer was pretty good. This third entry falls more towards the former than the latter. There is almost nothing here that held my attention. I’d like to stress again, like I did with the last one three months ago, that I respect Weezer for trying something different. It’s a cool idea, but outside of the odd mention of autumn, there isn’t much to differentiate this to the previous albums or their other music.
The band had a real opportunity here to go completely out of their box and hop genres to really give a feel of different seasons, making them all sound completely different. I’d have loved it if we got something bordering on Misfits or even Wednesday 13. Instead, outside of the strings on ‘Taste Like Pain’, it’s just another soft rock/pop punk Weezer album. At this point it feels like another failed experiment from Rivers. I’d much rather he take the time to make one good, short album a year or two than pump out multiple sub-par albums a year. 3.5/10, the worst Weezer album I’ve reviewed so far.
The Rasmus: Rise
Joe: The Finnish alt rock band unfortunately didn’t do amazingly well at this year’s Eurovision, despite Jezebel being a bop. The track makes it onto this, the bands 10th studio album. It’s a fairly decent album. There’s nothing bad about it, it’s all inoffensive pop-rock. There’s a decent guitar riff running through ‘Rise’ and the chorus is huge and mega catchy. It’s definitely another highlight of the album. Outside of ‘Written in Blood’ the rest of the seven tracks are on the slower side, but they’re still good. It’ll probably grow on me more with another listen or two, but I feel like this would be better as individual tracks for me, than an album to listen to in full. 6/10
Joe: The alt/indie rock Brummies brought us their seventh album on Friday. It’s pretty darn good, too. I thought the band were lighter than this, but this was quite a heavy album for an indie band. It has a fair amount of industrial elements to it that I can get down with. Like a weird middle ground between Genesis and Ministry.
It’s difficult to pick highlight tracks as, to be honest, the songs blended together quite a bit for me. However, as an album as a whole it was enjoyable, and definitely a good one to stick on on a long drive or in the background. 6.5/10
Joe: The Japanese female hard rock/metal band released their eighth studio album last week, just a year and a half removed from their last release. The band show off their insane talent right from the instrumental opening track, and it only gets more impressive from there. While I have no idea what is being said half of the time, the vocals in ‘Balance’ are almost as impressive as the never-ending stream of fantastic riffs. The chorus is huge and very catchy, and the whole track as a whole is a highlight of the album.
The heavy riffs and female-Japanese vocals will of course draw comparisons to Babymetal, but I would definitely say these are the superior band. While Babymetal come out with some great music and the session players are incredible, the passion for this sort of music from Band-Maid is hard to ignore. They put their all into this music and it shows in their recordings.
The album’s big single, ‘Sense’, is a suitably epic affair, the vocals soaring and being catchy as hell over the top of the heavy riffs and insane lead guitar. It’s another huge plus of the album. The rest of the album is equally great though, and I would recommend any metal fan check this out. Or any musician, for that matter, as the instrumentation is insanely good. This’ll be up there for album of the year, for sure. 8.5/10
Kelsea Ballerini: SUBJECT TO CHANGE
Joe: The first country-pop artist we’ve spotlighted for a little while, Kelsea returns with her fourth album and yet again shows that she is far too successful and talented for someone under 30. To have this many streams over the first weekend of the album being out is insane, and it’s clear that Kelsea is a HUGE name in the genre nowadays.
The album itself definitely leans heavily on both the country and pop elements. It reminds me a lot of Taylor Swift’s Fearless, and I’m glad that after a few albums Kelsea is still keeping the country sound strong, unlike the latter artist. It’s hard to pick a definitive highlight or two as the whole album is pretty similar and all high quality. You’re not going to have a bad time listening to this album, it’s simple, fun and has some pretty good, emotional lyrics tucked away in it.
My only issue is that, for the third straight mainstream country album I’ve checked out on these, it’s far too bloated. I get that more tracks to stream means more money, but 15 track is too long for an album. Especially when I have to listen to it all in one weekend… And also, why is the whole SHOUTING ALBUM AND SONG TITLES thing leaking out of metal into other genres? I confess, I am getting distracted…
8/10 a damn good country pop album.
The Wonder Years: The Hum Goes on Forever
Joe: I’m struggling to find the words to describe how this sounds. It’s like all the edges of pop-punk have been sanded down. It’s smooth, soft. It reminds me a fair bit of Gaslight Anthem, with just a little bit of the attitude of Gerard Way in the vocals.
The biggest single, ‘Oldest Daughter’, was pretty catchy, but outside of the vocals there wasn’t much memorable about it. The same could be said for ‘Low Tide’. That was pretty much the story of the whole album for me, if I’m honest. It’s heavy pop rock with a slight punk twang. None of it is bad, but it was majorly forgettable for me. I know a lot of people love this band, including a few of my friends, and I can definitely understand why. But this album at the very least wasn’t much for me. 4.5/10
Joe: My god, the riffs. That, and the guitaring as a whole, was a huge plus on this album for me. Whether it was the punchy, thrashy chugging, the more folk-inspired playing or the insane leads, Matias Kupiainen is clearly a massively underrated guitarist. There’s even a bit of modern edge to his playing, I heard bits of Syn/Zakky from Avenged Sevenfold in parts of the bridges and solos.
I’d have LOVED this as a young teenager, and I’m so mad at myself that this is the first time I’m hearing them. They’re power metal, but also have quite a bit of an Iron Maiden edge to them with the chugging, big riffs and folk tinge.
As for the songs themselves, they’re fantastic. Check out the first three tracks on the album and try to tell me otherwise. Then there are songs like ‘Frozen in Time’ and ‘Breakaway’ which are two more major highlights on an overall awesome album. If you’re into power metal, NWOBHM or even prog, you’ll love this. 8.5/10
KEN Mode: NULL
Joe: Why the hell did I think this was pop punk? I must have gotten my wires crossed in my research. I was, as you can imagine, VERY confused when messy, experimental hardcore came on in my car on the way to work over the weekend while I prepared to write this up.
In the nicest possible way, I don’t get this at all. Noise rock/metal has never been my sort of thing to begin with, and this album didn’t do much to change my mind. Even the more prog ‘Lost Grip’ lost my interest pretty quick. The vocals are pretty meh and, as I’d stated before, the instrumentation seems messy. If you like it, more power to you, but this isn’t for me. 3/10
The Comet is Coming: Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam
Joe: When I read experimental jazz rock I was quite excited to get into it. However, I’m not sure I get it. I’m partial to a good instrumental band or two and these guys are clearly talented musicians. However, I wouldn’t say there is much rock in here, to start with. It sounds more like soft House or Dubstep with some horns over the top. Every time they sound like they are adding some Prodigy-like elements, they slow right down instead of dropping.
It seems more like something God would listen to in the Preacher series. 3/10 I dont get it, I’m sorry.
Venom Inc.: There’s Only Black
Joe: I’m in two minds with this. It’s definitely a good album, but it also feels like a shell of what Venom once was. It’s a mixture between thrash and NWOBHM rather than the massive force of nature that started black metal. The more extreme riffs were fun, but it didn’t still feel much like Venom to me. Tracks like ‘Infinitum’ and ‘Don’t Feed me Your Lies’ are good, but the album as a whole is nothing to write home about, in this humble writer’s opinion. 5/10, distinctly average.
Maddie & Tae: Through the Madness, Vol. 2
Joe: More country pop, this time from a duo and their second release of 2022. And yes, while it’s a point of contention what classes as an EP these days, 8-tracks in my head is an album, so I’m covering it.
It’s a good album. The two Womens’ voices blend together perfectly the harmonies being catchy and a huge highlight of the album. Of course, the big single, ‘Every Night and Every Morning’, is great, as is the closing track. It’s again hard to find talking points for it as, much like Kelsea, the tracks are fairly similar, and all good. It does, however, have the advantage of being 20-minutes and seven tracks shorter than Kelsea’s, which is a definite bonus. Check this out if you’re into country or americana at all, you’re sure to not be disappointed. 8/10, gonna have to check out Vol. 1 now!
Sports Team: Gulp!
Joe: I’ve been waiting for this album for months at this point. It has been pushed back multiple times and I’m shocked it’s finally out.
Needless to say, it doesn’t particularly live up to the hype I have since put on it. It’s nice to hear a bit of good ‘ol English punk again, tinged with alt rock and plenty of Billy Idol inspiration. And, as a whole, it’s not bad by any means. It simply unfortunately suffers from the same issue a few of the albums have this week in that none of the tracks really stand out to me. I’m sure a bigger fan of the genre would love this, but for me I’d have rather just had a straight up punk album. The pop edge to it is what bores me with it, I think. Tracks like ‘The Game’ and ‘Unstuck’ at least stood out to me as highlights just for being the more punk tracks on the album. 5.5/10, not bad but nothing special or ground-breaking.
Razor: Cycle of Contempt
Max: Here’s a band that I have never heard of. Razor have come out with a new album full of aggression and fun. It’s a fairly easy listen but that’s not to say that it is a bad album. Whilst I found a lot of the songs quite similar to each other, especially when it comes to the drums, and there were some very odd vocals most apparent in the fifth track “crossed”, there were other parts that were very enjoyable. The solo’s that occasionally appear and the constant intensity and rhythm throughout is very nice and really kept the energy up in all of the songs, even when there were parts that I didn’t find myself enjoying as much. I would very much like to hear a bit more experimentation from the band and some different drums as I think that is the part that let them down the most. However, overall, I found myself enjoying the album and listened to it a couple of times once I had written my notes on it. Overall, I would say it is a solid 6/10. Areas to improve on but altogether quite good a fun the whole way through.
Max: This is a hard one for me. I can’t say that I am a massive ACDC fan (that isn’t to say I dislike them, I just have never found it overlapping with any music I have been in to at the time), and this band definitely reminds me of them. Throughout the entire album, their influences remain very, very clear. This is not wholly a bad thing as it is good fun to be reminded of music from when I was younger, especially with the little bits of The Darkness that seems to come creeping through.
However, it is slightly disappointing that a group of very clearly talented musicians didn’t experiment as much as I would have like them to. It felt to me as though some of the most interesting parts of the album came from the songs that felt more organic and original, the song ‘Ta Mig Tillbaks’ especially. With all of this considered though I feel like it would be unfair to give them a low rating for this album as they played everything very well. I would say it’s a 6.5/10 and I really hope that they find their own notch to slip in to with their future work as the talent in this band is brimming at the seams and just seems like it is waiting to get out and do more.
Kaine: After Extinction
Max: Considering the low number of monthly listeners across multiple platforms, it is almost upsetting to hear how good this band is. It is clear that they are working to constantly improve their music but everything that they have is really good fun. There are some solid riffs and the drums are so on point it really shows other bands just how to do it. With all this being said there are points where I feel like there is something missing. This might just be due to the mix of the songs not being the best, but I really wish underneath some of their solos/more melodic riff they can’t have the other guitars and the drum fully going. This is clearly something that they understand as they seemed to fix these issues as I wrote it.
Their song ‘Protesting for Profit’ has some really fun groves that got me hooked on the entire album and I think this is the album that I listened to the most this week. I genuinely can’t wait for them to release more music and I hope they are able to amas a following more befitting of the talent of all of the musicians and the time that clearly goes into their music. I can’t help but give this album a 7.5/10 as the only real downsides are the like of a cohesive sound at some points in the album and the mix not nearly being as good as the music itself.
Kings of Mercia: Self-Titled
Max: First things first, and something not really relevant to the review, I love the album art. However, I can’t quite say I enjoyed the album as much as the art. I found myself trying to blot out the vocals at multiple points as I really didn’t enjoy them. This was quite a let-down as the instruments were all really good fun and when the speed of the vocals picked up again they weren’t too bad.
Unfortunately, a lot of this album was on the slower side in the vocals department. There are a couple of points where the vocals are a bit more aggressive which sounded great so I found myself wondering if they would ever do a super aggressive song. All in all, I can’t find much to say about this album other than the fact it really wasn’t for me. I hope they can release some more music where they experiment with some other styles but until then, I doubt I will find myself listening to them much. 5/10
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