New Music Mondays: Fall Out Boy, Babymetal, Luke Combs and More!

A pretty huge week for new music, complete with some big returns. Let’s check it out!

Fall Out Boy: So Much (For) Stardust

FALL OUT BOY ARE BACK BABY! Well, kinda. Sometimes. I was a huge fan of the band pre-hiatus, them being a massive part of my childhood and early teens. However since then I haven’t found myself enjoying them anywhere near as much as they ventured more and more into pop territory. Heck, it took seeing it live for me to like Save Rock and Roll. However, with this record they finally go back to their rockier roots with tracks like ‘Love from the Other Side’ and ‘I Am My Own Muse’. And of course how can we forget the best track on the album, ‘Hold me Like a Grudge’. Not only does it have heavy ‘Dance Dance’ vibes (and not just from the video) but Pat’s lyrics are up there with some of their best.

Don’t get me wrong, some tracks have more pop-edge and influence than others. While okay ballads, tracks like ‘Heaven, Iowa’ didn’t do much. However, the rock and experimentation is very much back with the band, with the closing two tracks also being huge tracks thanks in large part to the phenomenal inclusion of brass to the sound. I honestly didn’t think I’d be enjoying a Fall Out Boy album this much in 2023. It feels like it’s drawn together as much of their past works and sounds as it could, making a huge, epic final sound. I’m going to be listening to a lot of this constantly for the next few weeks and months, I feel. 9/10.

Babymetal: THE OTHER ONE

BABYMETAL ARE BACK BABY! Another band that have been away on a bit of a break for a while, their last album being 2019’s Metal Galaxy, the duo are back with their fourth studio album. It also feels like the band’s most mature album to date. The last remanence of the cute, ‘kawai’ sound from their earlier two albums is now gone, leaving simply a solid Japanese metal album. There is still plenty of catchy, huge choruses and melodies, but they feel more like something Lovebites would come out with as opposed to ‘Gimme Chocolate’.

I’m on the fence as to whether I like the shift or not. While it’s definitely great music and tracks like ‘Divine Attack’ and ‘MAYA’ are amazing and enjoyable, it felt like something was missing. I loved the fact they were a blend of J-pop and power/death metal, but now it does feel ever so slightly like they are just another metal band. Hopefully it’ll grow on me more with more listens (and I’m sure it will), I think I just went into it hoping for and expecting something different. 7/10

Luke Combs: Gettin’ Old

Luke Combs didn’t go anywhere, having put out an album every year since his debut aside for 2021, so he can’t really be back. However, it is the second part of a double album, kinda, with Growing Up having already came out last year. I loved the last one and am a big fan of the guy in general, so have been buzzing for this for a while now.

It opens incredibly solidly, with the slower title(ish) track before ripping into a faster, heavier, almost more Springsteen-like ‘Hannah Ford Road’. ‘You Found Yours’, ‘Still’ and ‘See Me Now’ are both standard, great country anthems. However, it was then that I hit the wall that I have with most country albums: the length. There isn’t a bad track on the album by any means, but 18-tracks clocking in over an hour is too much for this easily-distracted writer. His cover of ‘Fast Car’ is good, as is the folky ‘5 Leaf Clover’, but both buried in the back half of the album did them no favours. Neither did the generally slow pace of the album, too. I get where he’s coming from (I think) with making Growin’ Up generally faster and heavier while Gettin’ Old is typically slower. However, not only does the former feel like a more well-rounded album, but it’s also shorter and generally more enjoyable.

As I said, it’s not a bad album by any stretch. However, 30 tracks in less than a year feels like a little much. And 17 slow tracks doesn’t really balance out all that well with just one quicker one two songs in. I love Luke Combs, but this feels more like a b-side/leftovers album. 6.5/10

August Burns Red: Death Below

Max: This record reminds me very much of the older albums but its new and developed enough for me to still love and appreiate all of the work that has gone in to it. With the different tones in all of the screams and styles of vocals, there is such a depth to every song as I found it very hard to get bored of the vocals. The drums have always been fantastic in all of their records and this one is no different as they are always insane and very precise. Something that has to be mentioned with this record is how good all of the collaborations are, the four that are in the record really are a treat for everyone who listens to this genre of music. Overall it is so much fun and reminds me of my favourite album of my teenage years, Rescue & Restore. 9/10

Ne Obliviscaris: Exul

This was proggy, heavy chaos in the best possible ways. Be it the insanely quick drumming, great riffs, powerful vocals or the symphonic bits, all of it is excellent. Heck, opener and 12+ minute epic ‘Equus’ perfectly incapsulates everything that the band is about. It’s a ridiculously talented collection of people and I feel like even that’s putting it mildly. It’s another album that just has to be listened to in full to appreciate, and I cannot fully do it justice in words, honestly. Check this out now, regardless of what sort of music you like. 9/10

Nickel Creek: Celebrants

The American bluegrass band put out their seventh album last week, and their first in nearly a decade. I’m excited to check this out as, while I’m not too familiar with them, they’re at the Long Road festival this summer so hopefully we can catch them!

It’s a lot of fun as an album. I have to admit the genre generally is pretty new to me, but the blend of folky, country, indie and more modern pop elements was impressive. Single ‘Strangers’ in particular is damn impressive, from the guitar riffs to the vocal harmonies to that insane fiddle solo. Tracks like ‘Holding Pattern’ and ‘Thinnest Wall’ are also great tracks. It’s not something I’d typically listen to regularly, but it’s hugely talented and I’d imagine it’s amazing live. 7/10

Mork: Dypet

The Nordic black metal band are back with their seventh offering. I found myself enjoying this a lot more than I thought I would. While I still wouldn’t listen to it massive amounts, it at least had good riffs, impressive vocals and, surprising with black metal, half-decent production. It’s your typical black metal stuff in terms of sound and themes, but it’s done well enough that someone outside of the genre can appreciate it. ‘Forfort Av Kulden’ was possibly my favourite track on the album due to the dynamics and layers involved. 6.5/10, good stuff.

Shores Of Null: The Loss of Beauty

Melancholic, dark metal is how the band describe themselves. Having listened to the album, I can definitely hear why. Honestly going into it I wasn’t expecting any clean vocals, never mind the powerful, amazing mixture of Sully Erna and Layne Staley I got. Don’t get me wrong, there are still some harsh vocals and growls in here, but the cleans seemed more of the focus than anything else. It almost felt like gothic metalcore, which I loved. A middle ground between goth, metalcore and blackened death. It’s incredibly interesting and honestly had me hooked throughout. I had no idea where it’d go, ever. It reminded me a lot of Lacrimas Profundere’s last album (find the review of it here).

Official opening track ‘Destination Woe’ is amazing, as is single ‘The Last Flower’, ‘Old Scars’ and ‘Fading as One’. However, the whole album is pretty great from start to finish! 8/10.