A stacked week of new music this week, with everything from country and folk to death metal. Join us in checking it all out!
Black Stone Cherry: Screamin’ at the Sky
Joe: I’ll keep this one brief as I know Charlotte wanted to talk about it too. BSC have been one of my favourite bands for the last decade plus at this point. I’ve seen them live more than just about every other band and always love what they do. With that being said, the band have kinda fallen into a formula with recent years. At eight albums in, their last couple have been rather similar in style and sound, and both compare pretty readily with Kentucky and even Folklore. Sure, the band have experimented with a lighter, more blues sound with Family Tree, Magic Mountain and Between the Devil (usually to more commercial success), but the band definitely have a strict sound and formula they stick to usually.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a fantastic album. If anything I’m just annoyed they aren’t that step bigger. Yes, they regularly tour and sell well at arenas in the UK, but they should be headlining major festivals by now with outputs like this. Tracks like ‘Nervous’, ‘Out of Pocket’ and ‘Not Afraid’ are easily up there with some of the bands best. I’d put it above Human Condition, but I do feel like I enjoyed Kentucky and Family Tree a little more. 8.5/10
Code Orange: The Above
Joe: I have to admit, I’ve never quite ‘got’ Code Orange. Don’t get me wrong, they did amazing at Bray Wyatt’s themes (RIP you wonderful man) but the rest of their music… meh. Having seen live performances from them on wrestling shows too, it put me off even more. But the hype around them is MASSIVE, especially from the likes of Kerrang! and Metal Hammer. They seem like the industry’s chosen future, or just have a real great PR guy. Either way, if you want the endless praise that other metal journalists give them, you may not want to continue reading…
I didn’t hate some of this. Being completely honest, a lot of it isn’t my thing. The opener felt like it was building and teasing me for four minutes and then went nowhere. It’s the song equivalent of blue balls. It gets heavier towards the end sure, but is a breakdown too much to ask for? It’s a messy, faux-industrial/faux-nu metal/faux-metalcore track that was honestly hard to listen to. And, for the most part, I could have been talking about 7/14 (yes, FOURTEEN TRACKS) on the album with that last statement. The band have been going for 15 years at this point yet feel like they purposefully put themselves through identity crises in terms of genres. I get blending some together and trying to innovate, but most of the time with Code Orange it comes across jancky and messy.
However, a few of the tracks were different and at least enjoyable. Songs like ‘Splinter the Soul’ and ‘The Mask of Sanity Slips’ feel more structured and almost remind me of Cane Hill, that type of metalcore. They weren’t amazing but at least were good tracks. ‘The Game’ (I know, I’m sorry) is a fun hardcore style track. Honestly, it nearly tricked me into liking the band, it’s that good of a track. ‘Grooming my Replacement’ is like that weird nu-metal phase that Machine Head went through, but done better and less cringe.
Then to my hugest surprise, my favourite track is the one that features Billy Corgan of all people. ‘Take Shape’ is an awesome metalcore track, and Billy does a pretty good job on it. And this is coming from a guy who hasn’t enjoyed anything Smashing Pumpkins have done in two decades. Listening to this track though, you can definitely hear Billy’s influence on the band throughout the rest of the album, for both good and bad.
So yeah, I wouldn’t actually call it a bad album. However, two standout tracks, some average stuff and a lot of meh-or-worse doesn’t make it as great as I’m sure others will call it. Don’t get me wrong, if you enjoy the band and the album, awesome, more power to you. But I still don’t get all of the hype. But, the band won me over a bit here, so I guess I’ll give it a 5/10
Steven Wilson: The Harmony Codex
Joe: The Porcupine Tree main man is back to releasing solo stuff after the band’s return album last year. *sigh*. It’s also an hour + long. *SIGH*. Something tells me this isn’t going to win me over anywhere near as much as Code Orange did.
Opening track ‘Inclination’ is three minutes of synth and electro-drum build before legitimately dropping down to dead air for a few seconds before continuing with Steven’s vocals coming in. Why couldn’t it have been a separate intro track? Especially when the track is over seven minutes long. I will have to say, Wilson’s voice actually sounds great. It wasn’t enough to keep me interested in the track, though. Tracks like ‘What Life Brings’ and ‘Rock Bottom’ are at least a little more pop in terms of their length and song structure. Both are also the album highlights for me. Especially the latter, as Ninet Tayeb’s guest vocals are outstanding, and Steven rips a pretty decent guitar solo in it.
Honestly though, the two tracks were dull lights in a dark, dark pit. This whole album bored me to tears. It’s slow, subdued, drawn out music that feels like it goes nowhere. It’s like a bad movie soundtrack. And don’t get me wrong, I know that a lot of people will love this. I know at least two personally that would, in fact. I know this album isn’t made for people like me. But no one else would take this for NMM so you’re stuck with my negative review. 2.5/10. Sorry not sorry
Dustin Lynch: Killed the Cowboy
We’ve already reviewed this awesome album. Check it out in full here.
Joe: The US alt-metallers are back with their first album in over 11 years! Given I was raised on the kind of early 2000s nu/alt/industrial metal, among other things, I’d at least say I’m a bit of a fan of the band. After an up and down decade of lineup changes, a B-sides release and not a whole lot of activity, I’m curious to hear how this sounds!
Honestly, it’s a pretty awesome alt metal album. The opener sets the tone pretty perfectly, being pretty heavy with some chonky riffs, as well as big melodic parts from the vocals. Meanwhile singles ‘Favourite Song’ and ‘No One Else to Blame’ are big album highlights. Nonpoint’s own Elias Soriano also does an amazing job in the bridge in the bridge to the former. Goddamn, I love Nonpoint. Hopefully we get a new album from them soon too! Sorry, getting off topic… ‘We Control Our Destiy’ is another album highlight, feeling very Slipknot influenced in all the best ways.
My only slight issue with this album is that it feels pretty front-loaded. All three of the pre-released tracks are in the first four slots on the album. And outside of the highlight ‘Love Without You’, a lot of the second half of the album sounds pretty similar, while the quality doesn’t feel quite as high from ‘Imagining’ onwards. Still, they’re good tracks, just not quite as good. A damn good album overall, especially after such a gap between releases. 8/10
Blood Command: World Domination
Joe: The Norwegian punk/math rock band are back with their fifth studio album. We checked out their previous album last year (here) and I remember really liking it. So, I’m pretty hyped for this release.
The first thing that struck me was 20 tracks. That’s insane. Especially in under 40 minutes. However, over half of them are sub-two-minutes, with a few being under one, so that makes sense at least. Because of that, it’s sometimes hard to judge the individual tracks, as it feels like this was all composed to be digested as an album first and foremost. However, having said that, tracks like the opener, ‘Forever Soldiers of Esther’ and ‘Decades’ are all banging. And, as a whole, this album does work very well. The hardcore and pop-punk elements mash together flawlessly and the band are massively talented at what they do. It’s somehow a diverse yet concise release that is definitely worth a listen if you have 40 minutes to spare.
As an album, I prefer it to their previous release. However, I have to say there isn’t a track quite as good as ‘A Questionable Taste in Friends’ or ‘Saturday City’ on it. Still, 7.5/10, good stuff!
KK’s Priest: The Sinner Rides Again
What? Treated to two full reviews this week? Aren’t you lucky! Check out our review of KK Downing’s second album here.
Charlotte: Wilco’s album ‘Cousin’ is full of lyrics reminiscent of protest poetry with hard-hitting words expressed through moody, semi-melancholic, experimental album. The album expresses moments of life that I wish were brought to the surface more. Prolific writer Jeff Tweedy sings of uncomfortable decay and massacres in a weary manner. It’s arguable whether the numb-feel to the album supports the lyrics or does them injustice. Most protest songs have a powerful sound to showcase real anger. With ‘Cousin’, Wilco take an alternative approach in exploring violence, uncertainty and chaos – perhaps the weary and exhausted tone fits this purpose just as much. It was a sound to get used to, but enjoyable all the same. 6.5/10
Slow Pulp: Yard
Joe: The US indie rock band’s second album is just as good as their debut. I’m sure if you’re a big fan of the band or the genre you may get a little offended by this, but it’s the perfect background chill out music. Tracks like ‘Doubt’ and ‘?’ are definitely standout tracks. But, as an album overall, being primarily a hard rock/metal fan it did get a little tough going towards the end of the album. However, I could put it on while I was working or cooking or cleaning and LOVE it. It also somehow feels modern while still having an early 2000s nostalgic feel and sound to it sometimes, on tracks like ‘Cramps’. If you are into this sort of music, you’ll love this just like I do. 8/10
Dead Man’s Whiskey: In the Storm
The NWOCR pioneers unleashed their highly anticipated sophomore album on the world last week. Six years after the initial release of their debut, they have a lot of pressure to live up to it.
They do that and then some. I’ve been familiar with the band since their debut and have been a pretty big fan over the years, but they have definitely stepped up in a major way with this release. Right from the fantastic Intro track it feels like we’re in for something special, and then the band take the listener on a non-stop awesome journey for nearly 50-minutes, never letting you go once. Every track on it is incredible, but personal highlights are ‘Masquerade’, ‘Who I Am’ ‘Time’ and ‘Diggin’ for Fame’. Every band member does a fantastic job at playing and songwriting. And, I’ve not seen an album fit it’s artwork quite so perfectly in a while.
Honestly, this feels like an even bigger dive-in point than their debut album. It has a similar sound and big-feel to it as Inglorious’ debut album. It could catapult the band to the forefront of the genre alongside the likes of Those Damn Crows and South of Salem, it’s that good. I’m gonna end up with this album in heavy rotation for months, I can already feel it. 9.5/10
Sol Negate: On the Verge of Dreaming Again
Joe: Time for a debut album, and some real awesome prog-death metal. Being a musician, my main takeaway is utter jealousy at the sheer talent of the band. From the technical masterclass put on by the guitars and drums to the incredible gutterals to the pretty amazing clean, melodic vocals, everyone is incredible. Honestly, my only complaint about this album is that it’s only six track and an intro long. At just over 30-minutes, it almost didn’t make this list as it boarders on an EP. It would have been such a shame, as this is phenomenal and I’m so happy I got to check it out!
There isn’t a bad track on the album, but ‘…and All Creation Was a Dream’ and ‘Dusk Has Come and Stars are Forming’ are personal tracks. And there’s a surprising amount of variety too, with ‘Come and Embrace Me’ having a more slower, epic intro and generally a different feel. If you’re at all into heavy music you need to check this out. I’m so glad we were sent this album and, if there is any justice in the world, these guys will be massive in the metal scene sooner rather than later. 9.5/10
The Sweetchunks Band: Glittunderbus
Joe: Reading into this album and the terrible weekend the band have had trying to put it out, I couldn’t not review it! A couple of ‘problematic’ words triggered the algorithm of Ditto and caused the album not to be released across multiple streaming platforms. However, they are working to get it up stull, and you can still find it on Bandcamp at least here.
The album itself is comedy-folk awesomeness. Released for the 10th anniversary of the band, it highlights everything great about their music. It’s fun, it’s silly, it’s catchy and incredibly well written, something not many comedy bands can always achieve. The smooth, easy-listening ‘Cat on Your Face’ is a massive highlight of the album, as is the blues-rock ‘Diego’ and the country ‘Drinking on a Weekday’. Honestly though, I found myself enjoying and laughing at every single track.
I haven’t had this much fun listening to a band in good long while. And I think that, given the mood and lyrical content, a lot of lidteners will overlook the sheer talent this hand had. The music behind the lyrics is amazing, and everyone involved is clearly massively talented. I love the sheer amount of variety in the sound and style throughout, too, it isn’t just one sub-genre at all.
I really cannot praise this album or this band enough. Go check it out, immediately. 10/10
Joe: The modern thrash band put out their fifth album last Friday, and honestly blew me away with it. Being a big fan of the genre from my teen years, I’ve been familiar with the band for a few years now, and this may be my favourite release from them. It’s brutally heavy throughout, almost being more death than thrash. But Prika does an amazing job back on lead vocals being a real highlight alongside the obviously amazing riffing. But honestly every plays their part to perfection. We even get guest appearances by the awesome Lena Scissorhands and legend that is Garry Holt, with both the tracks they feature on being major highlights of the album. Much like many on this list though, there isn’t a bad track on the album.
Whether you’re a fan of thrash, death or even old school heavy metal, you’ll find something to love here. Alongside the guested tracks, the title one and ‘Elements of Sin’ are well worth checking out as starting points. Hopefully they tour soon as I HAVE to see some of this live! 8/10