The first full week for New Music Mondays, and it’s full of some great releases. You know the drill by now, check them out!
VV: Neon Noir
The HIM frontman released his muchly anticipated debut solo album on Friday. It’s about what you’d expect, to be honest. As someone who never quite ‘got’ HIM back in the day, I hate to say that this didn’t do much for me. I never quite got into the whole ‘love rock’ thing they had going on and always found myself preferring bands that leaned heavier into the goth side of their sound.
Having said that, it is objectively not a bad album. If you like HIM, you’ll love this. Single ‘Run Away from the Sun’ is still incredibly catchy and a decent synth-pop-rock track. I personally just got pretty bored of it by a few tracks in. 4/10
Obituary: Dying of Everything
The death metal legends’ 11th album is an assault to the senses in the best way. It’s old-school death metal, I don’t know what else you want me to say. If you like their earlier stuff, as well as bands like Death or Slayer, you’ll love this. It’s fast, aggressive and all the band are massively talented to be able to play and write this sort of thing. I’m a big old-school thrash head so tracks like ‘Barely Alive’, ‘Without a Conscience’ and ‘My Will to Live’ are all amazing. 7.5/10
Margo Price: Strays
Country/blues/pop-rock singer-songwriter Margo Price is on her fourth album with this release, and it’s maybe her most ambitious yet. A lot of it is stripped back, steady country music, but it also somehow has a polished pop edge and a rock sound at the same time. It’s honestly hard to pick highlight tracks as it’s all so superbly written and genuinely interesting. There isn’t much out there like this, especially not up to this standard. However, ‘Light Me Up’ feels like the best showcase of exactly what Margo is about so would be a good place to start for a newcomer. Also, the Dolly Parton-esque single ‘Lydia’ is phenomenal, made even more impactful and epic thanks to the string backing. A good album, and a great start to the country year! 8/10
Ropes Inside a Hole: A Man and his Nature
So this is an odd one. Honestly for the first five minutes of the bands sophomore album I thought it was going to be a similar situation to Beautiful Death; a slower, dark, atmospheric album, but this time with lyrics. Then, I was suddenly slapped in the face by atmospheric black metal. There aren’t any screams or anything like that, the sporadic vocals stay clean and almost ethereal, very much another background instrument. But the instrumentation itself gets heavy.
And, due to the prog elements of the album, it is constantly changing up between clean, stripped-back, slower parts and epic, distorted heavy sections. However, also due to the prog elements, I found myself getting bored after the 3rd track or so. I can definitely appreciate how amazing the music is and will happily listen to it again if it comes on, but it’s like Tool without the amazing lyrics and soaring vocal hooks, something’s missing. Still, if you like proggier music and insane musicianship, check this out. Especially ‘Feet in The Swamp, Gaze to the Sky’, from the heavy riffs to the sexy sax, what a track. 7/10
Ahab: The Coral Tombs
Not gonna lie, I only really started my death/black metal journey over the last year or so, so extreme, proggy blackened death metal like this is a little much for me, it’s not really my jam. However, the slower, quieter and more stripped-back bits were pretty enjoyable, in a dark, atmospheric kinda way. And I cannot deny the sheer talent that the band have for being able to play and write like this, it’s definitely one hell of a skill.
If you like this sort of thing, you’ll probably love this, but I didn’t quite ‘get’ it. Because of that, I’m sorry, but I have to give it a 3.5/10
Beyond The Black: Self-Titled
I’ve loved this band for a few years now, since Heart of the Hurricane came randomly across my Spotify. So, when I was doing the research for this weeks New Music Monday and saw they had a new album out, I was pretty excited.
For the most part, it lives up to the hype I put on it. The band have been one of the most underrated symphonic metal bands in the world the last few years, and this shows why they should be towards the top of the genre. It’s filled with beefy riffs and huge, epic choruses. There are also some insane lead guitar lines and vocal harmonies throughout. It’s also yet again almost impossible to pick standout tracks. Every track is incredible and a highlight in its own right. From the heaviness of ‘Reincarnation’ to the beautiful ballad ‘Wide Awake’, all of it is top notch. This is already going to be a tough album to beat this year, and it’s only the second week! 9/10
The heavy rock/mythological AOR boys are back for their fifth studio album, and honestly, it’s pretty good! It’s very reminiscent of the NWOBH, I assume that’s why they self identify so much as being in Sweden’s modern equivalent. It’s a great mix of Judas Priest, early Iron Maiden and Tygers of Pan Tang. Of course single ‘The Traveller’ is a huge highlight, but tracks like ‘Ashes and Fire’ and opener ‘Kingmaker’ are also great. It’s just a great classic metal album, and if that’s the sort of thing you like then you’ll love it. 8/10, these guys should be so much bigger than they are.
Crom: The Era of Darkness
This was one hell of an epic album. Think Iron Maiden if it was injected with a healthy dose of power metal. The instrumentation was a massive highlight throughout, there being some insane riffs and lead parts, as well as the drummer working harder than anyone not in a death metal band. There’s some amazingly huge, catchy choruses on the album too, from the opener to ‘Higher Ground’ to ‘Bridge of Paradise’. There were also some pretty great extreme metal growls thrown in for good measure, sounding awesome and very fitting.
My only slight issue is that it’s maybe a tad too long. The tracks are good, but the album is nearly an hour in length. Though that may have just been because I had another eight albums to listen to this weekend too…
Either way, this was very good, and I’d highly recommend checking it out! 8.5/10
The sophomore album and first in six years from the melodic deathcore band, Masque goes hard. I wasn’t familiar with the band prior to this, but given the quality of this album, I’d imagine it was worth the wait! The whole album is awesome from start to finish, a masterclass on how to write fast, aggressive, heavy music. Tracks like ‘New World Vulture’ and the epic closer/title track are personal highlights of the album for me. 8/10, this was fucking awesome!
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