Another week of awesome new music, from classic rock to metalcore. Check it all out down below!
Architects: the classic symptoms of a broken spirit
I’m sorry, didn’t Architects used to be heavy and… y’know… interesting? Sempiternal came out nearly a decade ago at this point, yet metalcore is STILL trying to replicate its sound and success. This album didn’t do so well as others this year, or even earlier Architects albums. It’s not bad, but it’s incredible predicable and radio friendly. The band that wrote the epic Daybreaker and Lost Forever have officially lost their fangs, falling into the same fame-baiting, pop-leaning pattern that a lot of other metalcore bands have found themselves in.
Outside of the actually heavy closing track, the whole album feels so subdued. Gone is the slight edge they had left on their last album. Heck, even the strings, the best part of For Those That Wish to Exist, have been replaced by synths. It’s made the wall-of-sound mixing style they have even harder for me to digest; nothing stands out or impacts, even the odd big riff or breakdown hits the same as everything else. I know this is an already incredibly divisive album, and a lot of people love it. I’ve tried hard but I just can’t. Hopefully it’s at least the direction the band want to go and that they’re happy with the record instead of them being creatively dry. Even a return to the Holy Hell style would be hugely appreciated after this! 3.5/10
Ugly Kid Joe: Red Wings of Destiny
This was surprisingly, unfortunately average. Being a big fan of the bands earlier work, I was excited to hear how they sound these days. Okay. They sound okay these days.
None of this was bad by any stretch, but none of it was amazing either. It reminded me more of 2000s Red Hot Chili Peppers than the fun, energy and swagger filled band everyone loved them as back in the 90s. This was essentially a soft rock album with a couple of grungier tracks thrown in for good measure. That’s not bad at all, but not quite what I was hoping for or expecting. Heck, the guys are 30 years older and more mature than they were when they wrote ‘Everything About You’, of course it would mean they sound different to that. As I said, I was just hoping the fun element was still here.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad. The band did a cracking cover of The Kinks’ ‘Lola’, and ‘Dead Friends Play’ is a bittersweet track about the rock legends we’ve lost over the years. And it’s a stomping blues rock track and my favourite on the album. It reminds me of early Dead Daisies, which I cannot at all complain about! Even the closing track is country-inspired fun. But overall, another slightly disappointing, meh album. 4/10. oh, and of course, the Judas Priest reference for the album title is also great.
Avantasia: A Paranormal Evening with the Moonflower Society
The epic, metal opera band released the best album they’ve put out in years with their ninth. Whether it’s Tobias himself taking the lead or incredible guest vocals from the likes of Floor Jansen, Geoff Tate or Michael Kiske, it’s all hugely epic, massively talented, and a real joy to listen to. With all of the effort put into the story and characters for the videos/artwork, I want to see one of these as a full stage show more than anything. It’s so theatrical in all aspects that it would make for an incredible musical.
It’s another album with not a bad song on it, and honestly, I’d put it up against any other power metal-style album of the last decade, it’s that good. Check this out, no matter what sort of music you are into. You’ll find something to love, I’m sure. This will be on heavy rotation for me for months to come, and I’m more than happy about that! 9/10
Simple Minds: Direction of the Heart
When this company started last year, I did not think I’d be sat here on a Sunday afternoon covering a Simple Minds album. If I’m honest, I didn’t even know they were still a thing. So, not once did I think it’d actually be a pretty good album!
Don’t get me wrong, this definitely my sort of thing through and through. After the first three or four tracks I felt like I’d heard everything this album had to offer. However, it’s Simple Minds, I knew what to expect heading into it and was not disappointed. Tracks like ‘Human Traffic’, ‘Who Killed Truth?’ and ‘Act of Love’ are all highlights and honestly just as good as any other big Simple Minds songs. I don’t know if it’s just me not being a big fan of the band, but they sound just as good as ever to me.
A good album and one well worth checking out if you’re a fan of the band or soft rock/new wave music. 6.5/10
Exhumed: To the Dead
Time to change the pace. Death metal, anyone? Or deathgrind, as they are now being referred to, apparently. Either way, the bands ninth album goes just as hard as ever. I have to admit while I’m definitely getting into much more death these days thanks to Overtone, some of the vocals still felt a bit much for me. The usual screams were fine, but the lower, early Cannibal Corpse style ones were too far back in the mix and too growly for me to really enjoy. However, the riffs throughout the whole album were sick, and the drummer was the real highlight o it all, working a blinding pace from start to finish. I feel like I’d get a lot more out of hearing this stuff live than on track. It’s good, and if you like the sub-genre you’ll definitely love it, but it may take me a few more listens to truly appreciate. 6/10
Stryper: The Final Battle
The glam metal/NWOHM band get a lot of stick for being overtly Christian, but those who choose not to listen to them because of this are missing out on some damn good music. Their back catalogue speaks for itself and this, their fourteenth album, shows that the band very much still has it.
‘Transgressor’ is a powerful, fast-paced intro track full of some very solid drums, a great vocal performance and even a HEAVY riff behind an impressive guitar solo. ‘See No Evil, Hear No Evil’ is a highlight of the album for sure, giving off heavy Painkiller vibes and having an infectiously catchy chorus. Then there are tracks like ‘Same Old Story’ ‘Rise to the Call’ and ‘Ashes to Ashes’ that feel just like modern day Saxon, in both sound and quality. Overall, it’s just a solid heavy metal album. It’s hard to pick fault with it, but there also isn’t a massive amount that stands out. 6.5/10
The New Roses: Sweet Poison
We’ve already checked this out. It’s awesome. Check it out here.
Avatarium: Death, Where is your Sting
The prog/doom metal band returned this last week with their fifth studio album. While not an active touring member of the band, Candlemass alumni Leif Edling can very much still be heard in the songwriting process. However, although I used to be a fairly big Candlemass fan back in my teens, I didn’t get on with this album too much. I don’t know what it was, either.
The instrumentation, although a tad reserved and boring, was good. And Jennie-Ann Smith’s bassey, bluesy voice sounds as great as ever. But it all just felt like moody, depressing, dark Fleetwood Mac, but without the catchiness. Or a less fun Ghost. None of it is inherently bad, but it did nothing to grip me. I don’t think I’m goth enough for this sort of thing anymore. ‘Stockholm’ was probably the highlight, just because the riff was pretty decent. As I said, it’s not bad, and would probably make for good background music or as a movie soundtrack. But to sit down and analyse, this was a slog. 4.5/10
Spencer Crandall: Western
The country singer/songwriter came back with his fourth studio album this last week. It’s another far too long country album, a plague in 2022, as it seems. Seeing it was 20 tracks long almost brought a tear to my eye. However, it’s still a pretty decent album despite it’s obvious bloatedness.
‘Didn’t Do’, ‘Girls Like You’ and ‘Red Flags’ are all good tracks, if rather pop-centric. However, they are also surrounded by a lot of average tracks as well. This album could have easily been half the length and been a much better release. Still, if you like modern stadium-country music, you’ll probably find enough here to enjoy! 4.5/10
Brutus: Unison Life
The post-hardcore Belgians released their highly anticipated fourth album last Friday. Considering I’m not a huge fan of the genre, I found myself enjoying this a lot. From the slow-build intro of ‘Miles Away’ into the heavy, open and MASSIVE ‘Brave’, it’s a cracking way to open an album. ‘Victoria’ almost felt ballad-like in its execution; and was a good one at that. The more this album went on, the less post-hardcore it felt. It’s just a good pop-rock album. ‘Dust’ was a highlight for me. One of the heavier tracks on the album, the Americana-style guitar tone and chords combined with the great drumming, dirty bass and slightly harsh vocals made for one hell of a song. The whole album is dark, brooding and a lot of fun, even if it does all blur into one a bit by the end. 7/10
The 13th album from one of Canada’s biggest bands of the last 25 years is another good one. Canada’s late answer to Status Quo have an innate quality to write incredibly catchy songs throughout. That probably has something to do with every band member taking the helm of lead vocals at different times, meaning that there are plenty of fantastic harmonies across the whole album.
Tracks like the opener, ‘Scratch the Surface’ and ‘Simply Leaving’ are good examples of what the band is about, for those who aren’t too familiar. The whole album is worth checking out though if you’re a fan of the softer side of rock. A band that are still very much still at the top of their game as songwriters and an album that is simply a fun, interesting listen. 7/10
Chez Kane: Powerzone
This is a fantastic album. Being a fan of Chez since her time in Kane’d, I felt like this would be heavier heading into it. However, it’s so very AOR, more Journey than Journey have been in years. It wouldn’t feel at all out of place in Rock of Ages, and I LOVE IT.
From start to finish this was a masterclass in 80s sunset strip glam rock. ‘I Just Want You’ is not only an amazing album opener, but one of the most epic rock tracks released this millennium. The title track is another massive, powerful track. However, there isn’t really a low point on the album. We’re experiencing a bit of a glam/AOR revival at the minute in the scene, and I would put it up there with any of the top albums from it. Heck, I’d put it up there with some of the top albums in the genre, no matter the time period, be it Poison, Journey or Crüe.
If you’re into this sort of music at all, check this out, you’ll love it. There really isn’t a bad track on the album. It’s definitely going to end up on heavy rotation for me at least for the rest of the year. 9/10