A heavy week of new music this week for the most part, with just the one country album to be seen and only really two non-metal ones. So, for all you metalheads out there, check this out!
Nothing But Thieves: Dead Club City
A bit of a left field one to start off this week of new music. Nothing but Thieves are most likely not the sort of band you’d associate Overtone with covering. However, they are still classed as a rock band, and their particular blend of rock, pop, funk, alternative, indie and synth is frankly great. So, we’re covering them anyway, deal with it!
I haven’t actually given this band much time and attention for a while at this point, so this was a bit of a re-introduction point. What a fantastic point to be jumping back in with the band, too. This album is excellent. Whether it’s the rather funky, 80s style opener or the Muse/Twenty-One Pilots-esque ‘Keeping You Around’ or the almost proggy ‘Do You Love Me Yet?’ or the heavier ‘Pop the Balloon’, there’s a lot to love. Conor Mason’s vocals are somehow better than ever, and his range is incredible. The entire band play their parts to perfection though, crafting a cohesive, very enjoyable album. They take the listener on a damn fun musical journey through so many different styles. Honestly, this feels like the style that Arctic Monkeys have been trying to reach for years, but done to perfection.
I definitely need to pay more attention to this band, this album has certainly rekindled my love for them. I know it isn’t going to be for everyone, but anyone reading who is into lighter, more experimental poppy stuff, check this out! 8.5/10
Raven: All Hell’s Breaking Loose
The NWOBHM pioneers return with their 15th studio album. While by no means the biggest band in the scene ever, they have always been one of my favourites. They have always focused a bit more on speed and heaviness, a trait that I as a thrash-kid clearly loved. And, it’s impossible to deny their influence on the future of metal, especially on the 80s thrash scene with the likes of Metallica and Anthrax. The fact that they are still going these days is great, never mind that they are still pumping out great music!
I have to admit, the opening two tracks, ‘Medieval’ and ‘Surf the Tsunami’ are the clear highlights. The former is a fantastic radio track while the latter opens on a very ‘Painkiller’ drumbeat and stays quick and heavy throughout. Another big highlight for me was ‘Edge of a Nightmare’. While I did enjoy the tracks in between, some of the vocal melodies felt just a tad dated. They’d have done fantastically in the 80s alongside the likes of ‘Wheels of Steel’, but they don’t hold up as much today. I also got a little bored by the ten tracks all sounding pretty similar. I know it’s a personal thing of my tiny attention span, but nearly 40-minutes of the same sound and pace left me wanting more by the halfway mark.
Still, everyone is still very talented in the band are a good songwriters. After decades in the business, it’s a damn solid album to continue the band’s legacy. If you’re a fan of thrash, speed or NWOBHM, you’ll like this! 8/10
Divide and Dissolve: Systemic
Well, this was odd. The first three minutes of this album (across two tracks, I might add) was ambient, strange soundscape. Then out of nowhere a big, dirty, slow guitar riff comes in. It fits… kinda… not really. Then the whole album is, well, this. Slow doom metal riffs repeated over and over again for 30 minutes. Sometimes they change it up slightly in terms of riffs or tempo, but sometimes the riff only stops when the song ends and they go into the next.
I don’t get it. I honestly felt like I was being punked. Don’t get me wrong, I completely get that the duo are very talented at playing the drums, guitars and sax, and I did enjoy some of the riffs and soundcapes they created. I just wanted something to happen with them. I guess that’s my fault, I knew they were instrumental when I read about them in prep for this. However, I enjoy a good few instrumental tracks and artists, and you can do plenty with the format. This didn’t The closest I got to enjoying it was the opening couple of minutes of ‘Indignation’, it sounding like a sombre close to a 2nd act of a movie soundtrack. But yeah, this did nothing for me. Even the strange slam poetry style ‘Kingdom of Fear’ bored me. 3.5/10 Sorry if you like it, I know lots do!
The Pink Stones: You Know Who
The only country music I could find that had been released this week, The Pink Stones released their sophomore album. Describing themselves as country rock, that second part is pretty weak at times, having much more of a traditional country feel aside for the odd guitar solo and Lynyrd Skynyrd-esque parts. Still though, a lot of it is upbeat and a little quicker. My favourite track was ‘Baby, I’m Still Right Here’ thanks to the amazing Nikki Lane adding so much with her great vocals.
However, the album as a whole is a fun, simple, bouncy jaunt. It’s great to just stick on and chill out to, and I’d love to see this live! Get me in a sunny field seeing these with a beer in my hand ASAP! If you’re into country at all definitely check out this album, especially the aforementioned track, ‘Where we Have to Stay’ and ‘Who’s Laughing Now?’. The band definitely have a new fan in me, and I’ll be listening to this a lot in the months to come. 8/10
Loma Prieta: Last
The hardcore punk outfit return with their fifth studio album. It’s a lot of fun, in a chaotic, Mr Bungle kinda way. It’s definitely not going to be for everyone, but if you like this style you’ll LOVE this. While individual tracks like ‘Dose’ and ‘One Off (Part 2)’ are great, the album really feels like it should be listened to as a whole. It’s the most cohesive album I have heard in a while, every track flowing so perfectly into the next. I’d definitely recommend listening to it as a whole if you have a spare 30 minutes and like the more hardcore side of things. 7/10 P.S. ‘Symbios’ is a chaotic masterpiece.
XO Armor: Nublar
Are you ready for something heavy? Because damn, XO Armor give away their sound right from the opening second. ‘Dilopho’ is a downright insane way to open an album, and I am all of the way down with it. It also is the perfect showcase for what you are going to get throughout the rest of the album. Huge riffs from super low-tuned guitars, br00tal screams, low, Manson-like spoken word parts and a fair bit of hip-hop influence. The latter comes into play more in the second track and single ‘Rex’, another huge highlight of the album that draws in a fair bit of Linkin Park influence by the end. Heck, the following single, ‘Pangea’, even draws some house elements into the dark metal track. The combination of genres here throughout is really interesting and a fantastic listen.
I honestly cannot praise each track enough. I’d happily sit here and gush over each song in album order, but I imagine that’d make for a very boring read for anyone not in the band! Every track is phenomenal and somehow different to eachother while still maintaining a sound that is distinguishable as XO Armor.
Whether it’s Darko US, Electric Callboy, Linkin Park, Marilyn Manson, Don Broco, Stray From the Path, or Eminem, the band draws together a lot of sounds together to surprisingly perfect effect. And, it’s a metal album about dinosaurs. It’s every boyhood dream! This definitely isn’t for everyone, but even if you dont get it, the inovation and talent can’t be ignored. 10/10, so very deserved!
Schattenmann: Dia De Muertos
The German hard rockers released their fourth studio album in five years, an impressive feat given that the only year they missed was the hell that is 2020. Now, full disclaimer, I don’t speak enough German to understand what they are saying. Unfortunately while doing this I don’t have the time to learn the language, as much as I’d love to. So I’mma just assume the lyrics are great!
Musically, it’s kinda awesome! It blends so many different styles together in a really inventive way that I was not expecting. From the horns of the title track giving it an almost pirate feel (definitely what they were going for), to the folky, punky stylings of a band like Dropkick Murphys or Real McKenzies and, of course, the slight industrial edge that a lot of German bands have that is so hard not to compare with Rammstein. Heck, they even take inspiration from the prominent techno scene (or Electric Callboy) for ‘Hände hoch’. However, while combining together all of these awesome styles and sounds, it still sounds wholly unique and fresh.
Single ‘Menschenhasser’ is a big highlight of the album, as is the assumedly silly, industrial ‘Dickpic’. There’s plenty to enjoy throughout the album, though! 8/10
Virgin Steele: The Passion of Dionysus
Well, this album is a journey and a half. Given how long they’ve been going (over four decades) I’m so very shocked I haven’t heard of them until now. Then again, the great god Wiki described them as heavy/power metal and I didn’t hear too much of that here. I heard much more Deep Purple and Rainbow meets Jethro Tull meets Rush. Not that I’m complaining, as fuck, it’s awesome!
Opening on seven minute epic would surely confuse some people, but considering it’s one of the shorter, heavier and more upbeat tracks on the album, it was the right choice! Following track ‘You’ll Never See the Sun Again’ opens on some beautiful piano and vocal melodies, building into the heaviness at times throughout. David DeFeis’ vocals, especially with the flares at the end of some of the lines, remind me heavily of Bruce Dickinson. Honestly, the whole track reminds me of a slower Iron Maiden track. It was a personal highlight track for me.
A lot of it was a little too samey or slow/proggy for me. I love the genre in general, but do get a little bored if there isn’t major changes throughout like Rush or Dream Theater. However, ‘Spiritual Warfare’ and the shorter ‘Black Earth & Blood’ were both also highlights of the album. 7/10, if you like prog or folk-inspired stuff, you’ll love this!
Before the Dawn: Stormbringers
The creative might of Tuomas Saukkonen returns with Before the Dawn for the first time in over a decade. The first album since their reunion in 2021 after Tuomas took a break to work on Wolfheart, it’s got pretty lofty expectations and hype around it.
For melodeath, it’s surprisingly light. It definitely leans more into the bands more gothic roots. Having said that, the growls in tracks like ‘Reveries’ and ‘Chains’ are great. Also, I loved the slower(ish) nature of ‘Downhearted’, it was my favourite track on the album, followed closely by the epic ‘Chains’. ‘Divided’ is the closest to the death sound, reminding me a lot of Amon Amarth in the best ways. Meanwhile ‘The Dark’ had some Tool elements to it, around the heaviness and growls of course.
Honestly, this album grew on me more and more throughout. I just don’t think I enjoyed the opening two songs. As soon as ‘Reveries’ hit, I was sold for the rest of the album. I loved every track after that point, and would recommend anyone who’s into the heavier end of metal to check this out. It’s powery, deathy, melodic and fucking awesome. 9/10
Ofnus: Time Held Me Grey and Dying
Time for some atmospheric black metal, right? By far my favourite facet of black metal, and let me tell you, Ofnus’ debut album does it well. Opening on the longest track on the album pays off as that does of slow-build epicness hooked m attention immediately. In fact the album as a whole has a rather grand feel to it, amongst the crushing heaviness. ‘The Endless Grey’ and ‘Grains of Sand’ are personal highlights of mine, but if you’re into the genre you’ll love all of it like I do! It’s hard to find much to say as it is all fairly similar to a still rather new ear to the sound. However, I do know that it is good and well written. 7.5/10 from me!
Anima Tempo: Chaos Paradox
It’s been seven years since the prog/djent band last released more than a single at once. Chaos Paradox is a very interesting return, and one hell of a fun one! It’s very 8-bit video game based, and I love. From the high-energy synth that feels ripped straight out of an arcade machine to the insane guitaring matching it, the talent is off the charts. It also contrasts perfectly with the insanely heavy harsh vocals and crushing riffs throughout. Both the clean and harsh vocals are so good, with both Gian and Daniel doing stellar jobs. However, the whole band’s skill level is really on another level.
Tracks like the opener, single ‘Deceitful Idols’ and ‘Robo-Lution’ are all highlights of a very good album. Honestly, with this album they’re giving the likes of Periphery and Veil of Maya a run for their money. It’s one of my favourite albums in this sub-genre for years, everything about it is excellent. If you’re a fan of djent or heavy death-prog, check this out, you won’t be disappointed! 9.5/10
Throw the Fight: Strangeworld
The Minnesotan alt metal/post-hardcore band are back with their fifth album. Considering they’ve been going for a while, I’d never heard of them until now. It’s a shame too, because they’re good! Don’t get me wrong, it’s nothing ground-breaking or really even memorable or ear-worm worthy. Everything on the album has been done at some point before by A Day To Remember or Bullet for my Valentine or another band in between. However, it’s still a solid album. If you like either of the aforementioned bands, you’ll enjoy this! ‘Lost Without You’ and ‘Shadow Self’ were personal highlights. If you like pop-punk style vocals, a fun scream or too and some chuggy riffs, check this out! 7/10