While no absolutely massive bands released anything this week, it still saw the release of a lot of great new music! From instrumental metal to country and a lot in between, check this out, it’s got something for everyone!
Polyphia: Remember That You Will Die
I mean, it’s Polyphia, what can I really say? It’s another 40-minute masterclass from the modern day guitar god himself Tim Henson. Of course, it’s fucking awesome.
The first track is a jazz metal masterpiece, complete with horns that make it all sound somehow even better. The guitar tones in the track (and throughout the whole album for that matter) are unbelievable, so good. Lead single ‘Playing God’ is next up and a mind-bending display of the guitarists’ skill at slapping and tapping. I even love ‘ABC’, the first track to feature vocals by the band, and from a pop singer none the less. She sounds good and surprisingly doesn’t overshadow a single member of the band.
I was going to say, probably controversially, that the band could benefit at this point from having vocalists on more of their tracks. Then I heard the MGK-like ‘Memento Mori’ and ‘Fuck Around and Find Out’. Both were with meh rap/R&B vocalists that DID pull the focus away from the band, and for their own mediocre performances. Even the Chino Moreno track was meh. I feel like vocals could work awesomely, but these weren’t necessarily the right ones to pick, not to my ears anyway. Oh well, at least Steve Vai joins them to shred for the awesome closing track.
Slightly up and down but, if I’m honest, far more up than down. 7.5/10
Palaye Royale: Fever Dream
The new-wave emo/punk pop band return with their fourth album last week. I never quite got the appeal of this band or the wider sound they are a part of, and this album did nothing to change that. They remind me a lot of the incredibly overrated Maneskin, it’s a similar sort of pop music with just enough edge to it to venture into the rock sphere. A lot of it is more indie than anything, and for an American, Remington slips into a British accent a few times, weirdly. I fully see why people would like this sort of thing, it’s definitely a popular style these days, but it’s definitely not for me.
Also, it suffers from the country issue in that it’s bloated. 15 tracks is a lot to digest, especially when they’re mainly pretty similar. There are a couple of saving grace tracks, though. I’d heard ‘Paranoid’ when it was released last year and it’s at least a good, anthemic pop-rock track. Then there’s the MCR-esque ‘Fever Dream’. Easily the best track on the album, this wouldn’t feel out of place on The Black Parade. If you’re going to try any track on this album, let it be this one. But yeah, overall, not really my cup of tea. 4/10
Darkthrone: Astral Fortress
The gods of black metal return with their whopping 19th studio album, and it’s just as crazy and experimental as ever. Just a year after the release of Eternal Hails……, the band continue on with the doom influence just as much as the black metal sound. Heck, it opens on a dark, eight-minute epic reminiscent of early Candlemass, this is a far cry from early Darkthrone. It picks up around the mid-point into more familiar territory, but the epicness sets it apart for all the right reasons.
The same can be said throughout the rest of the album. Between the doom, punk and old-school heavy metal, there are a lot of different styles blended in with the typical Darkthrone sound. I honestly struggled to pick a highlight too, as it was all so different and enjoyable in its own way. I think my favourite track was ‘Stalagmite Necklace’, though. Clearly this is how you get me into black metal, by blending it with other genres I like. 7/10
Lainey Wilson: Bell Bottom Country
The fourth album by the country singer-songwriter is just as fun as her previous ones. It’s honestly nice to hear this kind of older style, more Dolly Parton or rock/blues inspired, is getting so popular in amongst all the stadium and bro country. Tracks like ‘Road Runner’, ‘Hold My Halo’ and ‘Grease’ honestly wouldn’t look out of place on a Cadillac Three album, but also is the sort of sound I wish Miley Cyrus had (and still will eventually) evolved into. Then you have more Drake White-esque acoustic country ballads that make up the other half of the album.
However, even though these slower tracks probably make up the majority, I never found myself getting bored like on other slower country albums. Lainey is a tremendous lyricist, it keeping me entertained throughout alongside her catchy melodies and great playing. This is a really good country album and one I’ll be listening to a fair amount for the rest of the year! 7.5/10
Fit for a King: The Hell we Create
THIS IS HOW YOU DO MODERN METALCORE. Anyone who keeps up with this series regularly knows that I’ve done a fair bit of the old-school heavy hitters of the metalcore world, and all are either trying to play catch-up with mainstream metal trends or get lost in the shuffle trying to recapture their old magic. This does neither of these things.
It’s unapologetically heavy, the low screams being some of the best I’ve heard in a while. But it balances it perfectly with some fantastic, catchy, pop-punk like cleans. ‘End (The Other Side’ is an amazing single and a great example of what I’m getting at, incorporating both perfectly. Then you have tracks like ‘Reaper’ which, in my opinion, are the exact sound that Parkway Drive should have stayed at, it’s better than anything on their latest album. Tracks like ‘Sink Below’, ‘What You Left Behind’, and the full-on deathcore track ‘Eyes Roll Back’ are all massive highlights on an album filled to the brim with them. This is peak metalcore in 2022, and for anyone into the subgenre, check this album out. Now. 9/10
Dead Cross: II
The Mike Patton/Dave Lombardo supergroup released their second hardcore punk album. It still blows my mind to hear how many different styles Patton can pull off vocally, and this is definitely a fun departure from his Faith No More stuff. While it’s not my sort of music, I can certainly appreciate the effort and desire to do something different and push the envelope. ‘Animal Espionage’ was a lot of fun, as was the duelling vocals on various different tracks. It’s like I was transported back to the 80s underground scene with the experimentation and heaviness. 6.5/10
Massive Wagons: Triggered
Baz and the boys got angry with this one. Between ‘Fuck the Haters’, ‘Generation Prime’ and ‘A.S.S.H.O.L.E’ they are calling out everyone they can, and I love it. It’s a good contrast to their clean-cut punk-classic rock style. Wagons address plenty about the state of the world in their own comedic, attitude-filled style, including COVID and the current world culture. The title track is maybe my favourite on the album, but there isn’t really a bad track on the album. All the other tracks previously named are definite highlights, too. It’s fun, funny and a very catchy album. It’s the lovechild of Wildhearts and (ironically given they are touring together) Ugly Kid Joe and I enjoyed it a lot. 7.5/10
Fire From the Gods: Soul Revolution
The blend of styles here was fun, but I have to say I think each different style has been done better recently by other bands. Even though vocalist AJ is from American/Jamaican decent, it gives off both Bob Vylan and Bloodwood vibes than anything else. The opening and title track is a great song, but then the following track, the lead single of the album, ‘S.O.S’, is maybe my least favourite on the album. It’s a very up and down album, with some definite highlights but some clear lower points too, for me. Tracks like ‘Double Edged Sword’ and ‘The Message’ were also highlights. If anything, the more rasta-inspired tracks were the best ones. It’s okay but felt a little one note at times. 5.5/10.
Show me the Body: Trouble the Water
I have no idea how to feel about this. The Suicidal Tendencies aspect of it was awesome, and a couple of the riffs were great, though not nearly focused on enough. The vocals grew on me more and more throughout, too. His cadence and emotion in every delivery, be it clean or harsher, was amazing. At times it felt like I was listening to The Ramones or Joy Division, and then it’d drop into something dark and heavy and remind me who it was. I grew up on the Tony Hawks games and this somehow feels like every single band on that mushed together into a single entity. ‘Food From Plate’, ‘We Came to Play’ and ‘Using It’ were personal favourites of mine. A good album that really grew on me by the end. I’ll definitely be listening to this more. 7/10
Shape of Water: Amor Fati
The Muse of the NWOCR scene, Shape of Water have gotten quite a bit of momentum behind them ahead of this release. I’m not hugely familiar with them bar a song or two, so I’m excited to check out a full album.
Though the opening track, ‘Starchild’, is epic and slow-building and everything I typically love in rock music, something about it didn’t quite click with it. After that though, it heads more into Weezer or even Heaven’s Basement direction, which I wasn’t expecting much of. There’s still some epicness, like in single ‘The Snoot’, but it’s more pop punky rock than anything else. It’s definitely good and there is plenty to like on the album, it’s just not something I thought the NWOCR movement would go for, sound wise. Then again it does have hints of Zeppelin (or at least Wolfmother) in amongst the Weezer and Muse.
I can see this band going VERY far in the next few years. They’re unique for sure, while still being familiar enough for mainstream audiences to latch onto. This will definitely taker a couple more listens to appreciate fully, but I already love it. 8/10