A STACKED week of new music this time, with everything from country to melodeath and everything in between! Let’s waste no time and check it out!
The Smashing Pumpkins: ATUM, Act III
The third and thankfully final part of the ATUM trilogy. As you can tell by our previous reviews, the previous two parts have been mid at best. Let’s see if this one finally ends things on a high note.
It has the weakest opening track of the three, 7+ minutes (!) of boringness. The following track is at least rockier and a little heavier, but it’s not massively more interesting. It could be good live if I didn’t already know from experience that they’re boring as FUCK live. ‘In Lieu of Failure’ is another rocking track with a decent riff running through it. It’s easily my favourite track on the album, and feels almost old-school TSP. ‘Harmageddon’ also has a pretty decent riff running through it. ‘Spellbinding’ has the typical big pop chorus for a single, but the track in general is meh.
All of the rest of the tracks are the same mid-to-slow-tempo synth-pop/ballad bollocks. Imagine having the balls to release a 2+ hour long triple album, and 85% of it is the same boring, slow crap that isn’t anything like the tracks that made you big. On the one hand I admire the hustle, but on the other hand I really didn’t enjoy the concept overall. Trimming the fat, they could have had one really strong album here, not three. Bloated isn’t even the word, and it feels massively uncreative to constantly make the same sounding stuff. 3/10, thank god I don’t have any more of these to sit through now.
Therapy?: Hard Cold Fire
One of the lost bands of the 90s, the Irish rockers have been one of the most consistent bands around for decades, this being their 16th album. Most of their discography is solid in quality, too. Let’s see if this one holds up to the others!
It’s 30 minutes of big, fuzzy riffs and early 2000s radio metal melodies. I loved it. ‘Woe’, ‘Bewildered Herd’ and ‘Poundland Hope and Glory’ are all excellent tracks. There isn’t really a bad track on the album, either. It is somehow both grunge and post-grunge at the same time, which is awesome. If you are into either genre at all, check this out, you won’t be disappointed! 7/10
Deathstars: Everything Destroys You
The industrial metal Swedes finally return with their fifth studio album. After almost a decade of waiting (a few of those years because of the pandemic) it is finally here.
It’s alright. There’s nothing at all inherently bad about it, it’s all good, enjoyable music. But none of it hooked me. I’m writing this after the first full listen to the album and I honestly couldn’t repeat a single hook or moment from it. It’s a fun industrial metal album joining together elements of Rammstein, Avatar and even ASP. But it doesn’t do anything new in its execution, just makes me want to listen to the aforementioned bands instead.
If you’re into slower, gothic industrial metal, this may very well be right up your street. But this didn’t really scratch any itch for me. 5/10
Justin Moore: Stray Dog
The most stadium country album I’ve heard in a while, and I loved every second of it. Right from the opening duet with Riley Green where they just list off country things, you know exactly what to expect from the rest. But damn if it isn’t one of the best stadium country albums I’ve heard in a good long while.
There really isn’t a bad track on the album. ‘That wasn’t Jack’ is a stadium filling ballad if I’ve ever heard one. So is ‘With a Woman You Love’. So is ‘Better Slow’. See where I’m going with this? It’s all very much the same pace and vibe throughout. However, it’s also only eight tracks and 27-minutes, so it’s a lot more palliable and easier to let off than most country albums. I’m not usually a big Priscilla Block fan either, but ‘You Me and Whiskey’ with her as a guest is one of my favourite tracks on the album.
If you’re into radio country these days that still has a little old-school feel and integrity, you’ll love this. 8.5/10, this was great!
Statues: Black Arcs Rising
Another Swedish band, this time alt rock and the third album by the band! The first thing that sprung out to me about it was the mixing. The guitars felt really far forward, with the bass being quiet and muddy and not filling out the sound as much. Because of this, it felt like there was a big empty hole in the sound in the middle. That’s what it sounded like to me through my headphones, anyway, others may hear different. It wasn’t as bad during the odd big chorus when the power chords fill out the sound fully, but the rest of the time it sounded odd.
The tracks themselves were actually pretty enjoyable. I’d LOVE to see it live, I feel like a big round sound for it and a couple of drinks and I’d have the best time. Tracks like ‘Chemicals’ and ‘Phantasm’ are highlights for sure. The band are at their best for me when they let their punk edge take over. Short and sweet, quick tracks like ‘Hiding in a Hole’ are great. 7.5/10, good stuff!
Burning Witches: The Dark Tower
The all-female heavy/power metal band are back with their fifth album in six years. Considering how consistent that release schedule is, the quality is still ridiculously high.
‘Unleash the Beast’ is one of the best opening tracks on an album I’ve heard in quite some time, and features the amazing (no, not that one) Courtney Cox on guitar. Tracks like ‘Renegade’, ‘Doomed to Die’ And the title track are all incredible. ‘Tomorrow’ is a fantastic ballad, too. The whole thing reminds me of Judas Priest’s Painkiller, which is a HUGE compliment as that’s one of my favourite albums ever. It feels like an modern evolution of that sound, adding a little more power and heaviness to it.
I honestly cannot praise this album enough. Every track is incredible and you don’t feel its hour plus length at all. I’m going to have this blasting for weeks/months to come. 9.5/10
Megan Moroney: Lucky
More radio-country, and more very good music. Megan Moroney’s debut is finally out! There’s a little more variety to this album at least, too, as we go from slower acoustic stuff on ‘I’m Not Pretty’ to a more upbeat, Shania Twain style title track and plenty in between. It’s needed too, as it’s a bit longer than Moore’s, though still nowhere near as insuferably long as 80% of modern country albums.
The darker, rockier ‘Another on the Way’ is my favourite track on the album and a HUGE highlight. However, there is a lot to love on this album. Tracks like ‘God Plays a Gibson’ and ‘Sad Songs for Sad People’ are also great. It hits all the right beats for a good country album, and does it masterfully. For someone so young, too, she has a massively bright future in the industry. If she isn’t big already, this album will push her to the top for sure. 9/10. I cannot wait to see her at The Long Road!
Frail: Stand by Me in the Storm
The start of a lot of metalcore on this list, not that I’m complaining. The Finnish band’s sophomore album combines metalcore with a lot of alt and hard rock sounds too, making an incredibly interesting, varied sound. Opener ‘Zealot’, as well as being amazing, gave off lots of ‘Heart from your Hate’ style Trivium vibes. Meanwhile followup ‘Come Back to Me’ is a slower, more anthemic, radio metal track akin to more of a modern BMTH track.
‘Children of Depravity’, ‘Mirror’ and the beautiful ballad ‘Demon Dopamine’ are all massive highlights, too. However, that’s not saying a huge about, as there isn’t a bad track on the album. They definitely have a new fan in me after this album, and anyone who’s into rock or metal should check it out immediately. 9/10
Unearth: The Wreched, The Ruinous
Some tasty metalcore, this is. Feeling like a combination of early All that Remains and that heavier Atreyu album, all combined with their usual heavy brand of melodic music, there’s a lot to fall in love with. It’s honestly hard to pick favourite tracks as they’re all great. From the heavy riffs and breakdowns to the perfect screams and insane lead guitar and drumming work, it’s all amazing. If you’re into earlier 2000s metalcore, then you’ll love this. Every member of the band is on top form throughout, I can’t fault a thing. 8.5/10
Velvet Rodeo: Back in the Saddle
An country/Americana duo up next, with their debut album! Having never heard the band before, I’m damn happy I check it out. Opener ‘Bridges That I’ve Burned’ is the perfect introduction to the act, while ‘Wasted on You’ is a great followup to showcase the second half of the duo. ‘High Heel on the Pedal’ and the title track are two massive highlights of the album.
It’s a great 38-minute piece of music to put on and chill too. It’s a fantastic debut filled with catchy melodies, huge choruses and some great lyrics. It reminds me of a band I covered a few weeks ago, White Rose Motor Oil (check it out here). Can’t fault it at all, I’ll be listening to it a lot more in the coming months and can’t wait for more! 8/10
Currents: The Death we Seek
The djenty metalcore band are back with their third album. I’ve seen a lot of buzz in the buildup to this album and even more after it’s release. Safe to say, I can see why. Damn, this is awesome.
Right from the album opener and title track, the aggression and heaviness hits you square in the nose, and doesn’t let up much at all. The guitar tone is filthy and the low, heavy riff that opens ‘Living is Tragedy’ is phenomenal. It reminds me a lot of the stuff that Darko US are doing at the minute, but with a cleaner, metalcore edge to the heaviness too. ‘Unfamiliar’ is kinda lighter, if huge chuggy riffs and screams can be considered lighter. But the ethereal verses are great. Tracks like ‘So Alone’ and ‘Gone Astray’ are also HUGE highlights.
Again, I fully see why this band are getting the hype they are right now. This is an amazing album. They’re going to be the next big heavy band, I can feel it. It feels reminiscent of when Parkway and Architects started breaking through into the mainstream. 9/10
And we finish this week on some aptly titled NWOCR revival music. It definitely rides the wave of nostalgia for bands like Judas Priest, Journey and Anvil. In that vein, it’s fine. It reminds me a lot of bands like Eclipse and W.E.T, that heavier, modern AOR sound. I feel like I’d get into it a lot more after seeing it live, hearing it on track isn’t doing a great deal for me. Still, tracks like ‘Unshackle Me’ and ‘Metal Supremacia’ are awesome highlights. 7/10, good but felt like something was missing.