All posts by Overtone

The Long Road: The Big Bad Review – Day 2

We spent the morning of day 2 wandering around the arena, taking in what other things it had to offer aside for the live music. There was plenty to do. From a great classic US car show to traditional games like Cornhole and Horseshoe, we had great fun killing some time. The festival really gave you your moneys worth, with axe throwing on offer too as well as various events like hotdog and wing eating, cowboy Olympics and barn dancing.

I also just wanted to take this opportunity to speak about how fantastically organised this festival was. It had such a warm and friendly atmosphere throughout, with plenty of families bringing their kids and dogs. There was a place for kids to play and a whole field closed off where the dogs could be taken to run around. And because there were bins everywhere the place was so clean. I’m so used to rock festivals being just music and that’s it and generally the crowd littering more, so being somewhere like this was great.

As we were wandering around we caught Benjamin Francis Leftwich on the Front Porch. Hearing a British person performing at the festival was a little odd but he did a good job. He had a cool folk vibe to his acoustic singer-songwriter presentation. It fit in well with the rest of the music there. Honestly, I feel bad for not knowing him beforehand as he seems like a pretty big name. Much like Kevin Daniel, he was a slower, stripped-back way of opening the day for us. It was the perfect way to set the scene.

Next up were one of my highlights of the weekend, Everette. I could have watched them play all day and was so glad they did two sets across the weekend (more on the other later). This one saw them far too early on but on the Front Porch, which felt like a perfect setting for the duo. Opening on crowd (and personal) favourite ‘Dang the Whiskey’, the two whisked through a far too brief set of their greatest hits, and a couple of brand-new ones thrown in for good measure. They held the crowd’s attention throughout and are another that are going to be the future of the genre.

Check out our last big review here.

Then we had the awesome pleasure of seeing Jess again. This time it was at a more intimate setting of the Buddy’s Good Time Bar stage. While playing a muchly similar set, it was nice to be able to sit down and see everything a little better and relax, instead of bouncing around and singing. The Good Time Bar had a pretty chilled out feeling all weekend. There was little crowd interaction, just appreciating the music, and that’s exactly what we all did here.

We headed back over to the Interstate stage, this time for an Irish band called Hudson Taylor. I had them circled on my app as ones to check out but couldn’t remember why. I’m so glad I did. They put on maybe one of the best performances of the weekend. At least on parr with a couple of the bands from Sunday.

The brothers fronting the band again put in their all and had the talent to back it up. And of course their band did their part to perfection too. It’s another act that I feel disappointed in myself for not knowing, especially given that I generally love the alt-folk kinda sound they play. They also had that pop edge to them that reminded me of the 90s US pop rock bands like Hanson and Matchbox Twenty. Whether it was their older hits or tracks off their 2022 album, they performed it all amazingly and the crowd loved every second. They have a new, big fan in me! Hopefully they come back nearby soon!

We finally headed over to the mainstage for the first time that weekend to see the amazing Seaforth. Being such a big name, I’d heard a couple before. But have to admit, I wasn’t that fussed on track. They brought it live thought, and more than won me over. It’s all very polished and pop, right down to the Sean Kingston samples, but it was good to watch live. The guys are consummate professionals and I’m honestly shocked they haven’t broken out over here massive already. ‘Good Beer’ is a catchy, poppy, radio-baity hit and I have found myself humming it a bunch over the last few days.

We went for some food and caught the back end of Camille Parker on the Front Porch. She was okay, but even more pop than Seaforth. It didn’t quite fit with the feel of the festival in some ways. Then it was back over to main for Cassadee Pope.

One of the most rock artists of the weekend, Cassadee leaned into that distinction with a set that wouldn’t seem out of place opening for P!nk or Orianthi. Obviously her formerly being the vocalist of Hey Monday influences her current sound a fair bit, which is great. It was definitely my sort of pace and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The band did a great job and the crowd were surprisingly into it quite a bit. She threw in a Monday song or two with the more country tracks. But, honestly, tracks like ‘Tomorrow Night’ would have fit right at home with her old band. It’s rare to hear so many genres blended together so effortlessly, and it made for one hell of a set from Cassadee.

Brandy Clark was up next with an almost completely different set and sound. Having a lot more of a traditional country setup with a double bass and other strings, it was a more chilled out set that seemed to perfectly bridge the gap between Cassadee and the nights headliner. Tracks like ‘Get High’ and ‘Big Day in a Small Town’ of course went down a storm. The crowd were clearly, for the most part, big fans of her work. She’s got such a stage presence and swagger, as well as a great back catalogue, that you’d expect her to have been going much longer than she has been. I’d love to see her again, and may have to soon.

Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives to close out the night. Yep, that’s right, MARTY FUCKIN’ STUART LADIES AND GENTS. And, for a guy in his 60s and who has done it all, the guy did not disappoint one single bit. Whether it was playing his fantastic own songs or diving back into his history of playing and collaborating with other artists with covers of ‘Ring of Fire’, ‘Wipe out’ and ‘I’ve Always Been Crazy’, he and the Superlatives smashed it all out of the park.

Due to being a very late bump up to headliner due to Chris Young having to drop out due to Covid, he brought on some fantastic guests too. Whether it was Andrew Coombs, Sunny Sweeney or Kezia Gill, each made it count and you could tell they had a blast. Oh, and did I mention that each of the other three band members had their time in the spotlight, fronting for a couple of songs each (all of which were great, by the way). This was as masterclass and a history in country and bluegrass music and I was hooked from the start to the very end. What a fantastic way to close out the night.

The Long Road: The Big Bad Review

Yep, you read that right. Overtone crashed a country festival. And, spoiler alert, it was fucking awesome. The Long Road 2022 celebrated the best of country, Americana and roots music, as well as having plenty of US pastimes as well on top of it all. We tried to soak up as much as we could of this fantastic, family friendly festival. And, we wanted to let you know just how much we enjoyed it!

After setting up and getting a quick lay of the land on the Friday, we found ourselves at the beautiful Front Porch stage watching Kevin Daniel. The North Carolinan/Brooklynite Americana songwriter did a fantastic job playing so early on and opening the festival for a fair few people. He rattled through a fantastic 40-minute set of some of his biggest hits. It was a great, chilled out way to start us off and ease us into an environment we hadn’t really experienced before.

Next up we ended up at the second stage, The Interstate, for Canadian pop-country Breakout star Jess Moskaluke. This was a little more of my sort of speed as she had a full band behind her and it had a rock edge, even if it was very pop. She reminded me a lot of Shania Twain, especially in her most recent single, ‘Knock Off’. She went down a storm in the tent for her entire set, having everyone dancing around and joining in. It’s very clear to me why she’s getting so big and she definitely has a new fan in me. I’m pretty sure each of the tracks she played has made it onto my Spotify, so that should say something!

More country here.

After taking in a few of the stalls, we headed back to the Insterstate stage for Priscilla Block. While she was still very good, she felt like a slight bit of a comedown after Jess. She’s a little slower and more ballady, which definitely isn’t an issue, but a quicker track or two might have been fun! Still, the stuff off her February album, ‘Welcome to the Block Party’, went down a storm. Plus, ‘Off the Deep End’ is a tune and everyone in the audience loved it. I’ll definitely be listening to her more of her moving forward.

Next up on said stage were the folk/indie rock band Fruit Bats. While they were even slower than Pricilla, they brought a fair amount of energy and stage-presence to the set. They gave it their all and, in turn, so did the crowd. I didn’t know them heading into the festival but, even though I’m not a huge fan of the genre, I’ve found myself listening to them a fair bit in the couple of days since. I’d love to see these guys again.

And now for something completely different (for Overtone, at least). That is a sentence I feel like I’ll say quite a lot in this write-up. Noble Jacks played an Americana set that I loved, and it’s opened my eyes properly to a whole new genre. Yes, I’d had a fair bit to drink at this point, but they were a lot of fun to listen to. The mostly seated crowd at the Front Porch were loving it too. A great way to spend a night, sitting around a fire, learning American Folk songs and getting drunk. What’s not to love?

Then we reached the headliner of the night, Drake White. One of the acts I was most excited for heading into this, he didn’t disappoint one bit. Whether it was his biggest tracks like ‘Livin’ The Dream’ or ‘Power of a Woman’ or snippets of covers of the likes of ‘Hard to Handle’, ‘Use Somebody’ or even Pearl Jam’s ‘Alive’, the setlist was packed full of fantastic songs. His band were top notch and Drake had the crowd in the palm of his hand from start to finish. It was one of the busiest times I’d seen the tent stage for a band, and I cannot imagine a single person came away disappointed. The Optimystic has been on a lot on my Spotify since this set and for very good reason. Drake White is the future of country music, and I’m sure you haven’t heard that here first.

New Music Mondays: Muse, Machine Head and Much More!

We have a fun addition to New Music Mondays this week. Our newest team member Max has given me a hand in writing this, as I was away for the weekend. Give him some love as he saved my ass and did a great job! I’ve covered a few of them and he’s done a few, and if I had any more thoughts on an album I added them on too!

It’s another week another list! A fun set of albums have been released this week so join me in exploring them all.

Muse: Will of the People

Max: So where to begin? This is Muse’s 10th album if you don’t include the two live albums and the anniversary version of Origin of Symmetry. I must say that it is my favourite since the resistance. There are so many things to say about this album and I wish I had more time for it, from the amazing grooves in the bass to the solos spaced throughout. However, Matt’s voice is utterly outstanding.

If you only have time for a couple of songs I highly recommend ‘Ghosts (How Can I Move On)’ which is a beautiful piano led song which gives me chills every time I listen to it, ‘You Make Me Feel Like It’s Halloween’ which has a brilliant groovy and feel to it which makes me want to get up and move each time and then ‘Kill Or Be Killed’ which is definitely more inline with some of Muse’s heavier music. All in all, a great album and an easy 8.5/10.

Machine Head: Øf KingdØm and CrØwn

Max: Machine Head are back, and they want you to know what they’re about again. It has been four years since Catharsis, their last album. It’s clear in that time that they have been working hard on perfecting their art . All I can say is wow. It is heavier, it is intense, and it is brilliant. From ‘Slaughter the Martyr’; their ten and a half minute opening song is kickass from the slow intro to the filthy riffs and the solos. There is so much in this song to digest however there is more to get through. ‘Become The Firestorm’ and ‘No Gods, No Masters’ are must listens and as potentially controversial as this might be, I think this album is better than Burn My Eyes, their seminal first album. This is a 9/10 but if you rate it higher there is no contest because this is a phenomenal album.

Joe: As a HUGE fan of Machine Head, especially their output from Ashes, Catharsis and a couple of singles afterwards were a pretty big let down. I enjoyed last year’s EP, though (all of which ended up on this album). My god does this build on that perfectly. Right from opening on a 10-minute heavy epic with a good three minutes of slow-build to start, I knew the Machine Fuckin’ Head I knew were back. I’ve seen a fair few journalists comparing this to The Blackening. While I think that’s a bit of a stretch, it’s definitely a step back in the right direction. I agree with Max on all of his highlight tracks, and would also like to add the venomous ‘Rotten’. 9/10

Embrace: How to Be a Person Like Other People

Joe: The Yorkshiran rock band released their eighth studio album last week. While I was sceptical it would make it onto this list at all with the slow piano intro, it build into a cracking, stadium-filling ballad in ‘Death is Not the End’. While the rest of the album was still good, it’s in a similar style to the opening track and never quite reached the same lofty heights. It’s a blend of British and US indie rock which was perfect for a background listen or a long car journey, but I found it not holding my attention too well when listened to intently. If you’re into indie you’ll enjoy this a lot more than I did,. I feel like I’d ‘get’ this a lot more if I saw it live. For now, it gets a 5/10 from me!

Excuses Excuses: Listen Up

We’ve covered this already last week, and you can find the review and score here.

Sigh: Shiki

Max: The Japanese cult black metal band Sigh are back also after four years. For a first venture into this band, Shiki is a great place to start. It is a difficult listen if you are new to black metal, but their somewhat eclectic mix of styles can be a saving grace if you find the raw and intense vocals a little hard. This is not the best album ever made but I think it is a must listen for anyone wanting to explore more music and expand their genres.

I found it difficult to pick out which songs were the best in the album. But, after a couple more listens, the strange, almost jazz-break in the second track of the album, ‘Kuroi Kage’, just sticks with me even now. Its one for all to explore if they feel brave enough to which brings me to give this a solid 7.5/10 and I am excited for what might come next.

Joe: What has this company done to me? I loved this. I’ve somehow gotten pretty into the more epic side of extreme metal, and I kinda like it. Whether it was the balls to the wall track above or the more up and down ‘Mayonaka No Kaii’ there was a lot I enjoyed here. I do however agree with Max in that it’s a 7.5/10. Good stuff!

Brymir: Voices In The Sky

Max: The Finnish metal band are here with another packed album. It’s difficult to say what their plan for this album was as it felt to cross many layers. All in the band pushed their art to the next level with each song feeling quite different from the next. This being said I would not say this is the best album on the list. It was constantly punchy and energetic, and I found myself listening to it in the background through out the day but I truly struggled to find one song that was the best.

With all this said, however, I do think everyone should check it out. I am excited to see if they explore a but more of the melodic/death metal side that they can clearly do. I’m going to have to give this an 8/10 but that could change once I’ve got to grips more with this band who were completely new to me.

Manifest: The Sinking

Max: Here’s a band that I doubt many of you have heard of before. This is the bands fifth album, and it is a hard one. Whilst some of you may question me on this considering I liked Sigh, I really could not get past the Stian’s vocals and there was not much for me in the album. I implore you to check it out for yourself but I struggled to get past the fourth track so there is not much more to say. It is a 5/10 for me.

Joe: The mixing on this was pretty meh. It felt like a punch in the face, but that may have been the intention. However, I didn’t mind this aside for that. The elements are there of a good album, it just needs a fair amount of polish. It reminded me of a more biker Hatebreed, the same aggression and speed but with some catchy choruses thrown in at times. However, the cleans aren’t all that great, and the extreme vocals could be little stronger. I preferred when they stuck to the hardcore stuff as opposed to jumping to black metal or their slower stuff. 5/10

Lacrimas Profundere: How to Shroud Yourself with Night

We’ve got a review coming out of this album in the coming days. It was delayed due to being ask to react to some of their singles. While you wait, check out our reaction to their latest single, ‘To Disappear In You’, below. And check back in a couple of days for the link to the review!

Dynazty: Final Advent

Max: This one definitely ends the list on a high. Its hard to say exactly what this album makes me feel because wow its good, exceptionally good. They are top of their field, all the members of this band. There is so much pure and lovable energy in this band, and you can see how much they love making music. Each of the songs remind me of why I do this and how much I love music. There is one song that everyone needs to hear: ‘Yours’. Its an utterly beautiful songs and the chorus with its great hook and amazing vocals hits me somewhere deep. Its is a top song of the year so far for me and I am definitely going to try and see them live some time soon. It’s great to be surprised by music no matter what you hear, and this album hit in all the right places so I can’t see any reason to not listen to it because I really do think its inviting enough for everyone 9/10.

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Listen Up: Are Excuses Excuses the Next Big Thing in Radio-Rock?

The surprisingly Canadian (hearing them I thought British for sure) band Excuses Excuses made waves with their previous few singles, especially earlier this year with ‘Far From Perfect’. Capitalising on that success, the band are releasing their much anticipated debut album this coming Friday. We managed to get a sneak peak of it and, if the singles so far from it are anything to go by, this is going to be good! Check it out with us down below!

The band waste little time with their opening track, ‘Say’. Opening on a pretty fun riff, the vocals soon come in over the top, walking the line between indie and hard rock pretty masterfully. It all builds through the catchy verse and pre into a huge chorus, the echoed vocals making it sound massive. Speaking of the vocals, the lyrics are great, a fantastic ‘be yourself’ anthem. The brief guitar solo bridging the gap between the 2nd and 3rd choruses was fun, even if it did just follow the same melody as the vocals. Still, it’s an effective way of making both more catchy and memorable. Then we get a final pre and chorus to take us home in style. Good stuff to start the album with, and easily playlisted!

The title track bursts right into the chorus, full of attitude and swagger. A call not just to ‘Listen Up’, but also a call to arms, this track perfectly encapsulates the whole feel and message of the album. The guitars dropping out for the verses is a very well used trope but never gets old, and it works perfectly here. The pre is somehow even catchier than the chorus due to the fantastic backing vocals, the band channeling their inner Queen or Muse. It’d be great to hear live. Even the bridge is catchy. The whole track screams massive radio hit, which is perfect given the lyrics. Another fantastic song and another that makes its way onto our playlist!

Check out our last review here.

‘Feeling Sorry’ is another typical heavy indie rock track. Bouncy, lower verses build up into huge, catchy choruses, with plenty of great lyrics across both. The structure was interesting though, given that it was essentially just verse-chorus three times and then done. In and out in just over two-and-a-half minutes. Straight to the point and I love it. We even get a scream for the last second of the track, which I was not expecting. Good stuff!

‘My Nicotine’ is a little slower paced but channels the same sort of energy as the tracks proceeding it. It’s a love song this time, in case you couldn’t guess from the title. The lyrics are well written and it’s a catchy track. I’m struggling to say much more about it, it’s pretty standard but great radio rock! I guess it’s a ballad, and a good one at that!

‘Wasted Alone’ is another slower track, opening on an almost sleazy guitar riff before the vocals come in over the top. It’s a nice touch to break up the album with something different and it honestly sounds great. The drums come in before the verse ends and turns it into ‘just’ another ballad, but that intro was certainly cool. From there it’s fairly similar to the previous track, but I’d argue it’d make a better single, it’s definitely catchier vocally. The guitar solo, while short, was a nice touch too!

‘Breakdown the Silence’ is another typical indie/punk rock track. Then we reach the final two singles of the album to close us out. ‘Meaning of Life’ is another slower track but all of the vocal lines will be stuck in my head for the rest of the day. They’re so memorable and well written. It’s the most indie track on the album so far but to my surprise it’s my favourite. It makes the playlist.

Then we reach the final track, ‘Hardship to Sail’. It’s very similar to the previous track. It’s mid-tempo, fun and catchy. It is just a little samey and not quite as good as the previous track, in this writers opinion. That being said, it’s a fantastic way to close an album, epic, memorable and just a damn good track. The build-up to the final chorus is fantastic and adds to the pay-off perfectly. Plus, the gang vocals in the background of the final chorus makes everything feel more granduous and final. A good closer, but I wish the second half of the album had a little more umph. One more faster track would have been perfect.

Overall: I really enjoyed this. As not typically a fan of indie music, there was enough grit and heaviness here to keep me entertained and make me want to listen to it more. The guys are already making a big splash in the underground scene, but if they keep going like this they’re going to be massive sooner rather than later. A short, to the point album packed full of good songs, catchy vocal hooks and some good riffs!

The Score: 8/10

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Massive Wagons: ‘Your time will come, don’t give up!’

We had the chance to sit down with the awesome Baz from Massive Wagons while at Call of the Wild the other month for a quick chat about the band and their future plans! Check it out from below!

What’s it like finally being able to play Call of the Wild?

Yeah, it’s great! Big admiration for the organisers having to reschedule it two or three times because of Covid. Bands dropping out and suddenly you’re doing it a different weekend and a band can’t play on the same day or whatever but we’re here at last! We’ve played for Raz (the organiser) a few times over the years. Him asking us to do this is really cool, we’ve been looking forward to it.

And what brought on your pyro and bigger stageshow elements?

The thing is you play with so many great bands on this scene and your live show is kinda your bread and butter these days. We sorta hit a ceiling and you’ve just gotta think of ways to stand out. We’ve always reinvested money back into the band.

We started it at Steelhouse. We did a headline slot there on the Friday a few years ago and did a bit there. Every time we do a headline festival slot we always try to bring a show, you know? You’re a headliner for a reason, you’ve gotta bring it.

It’s coming along tonight, we brought our firework, a box of matches.

Are you working on new music?

Yeah, it’s recorded, it’ll be out this year (check out some of it below!). We recorded it a couple of months ago.

Check out our last COTW interview here.

And then straight into touring?

Yeah! Well we’ve got quite a few festivals, we’re in Europe quite a lot this year. Same as normal really, it never really stops. We’ve got loads planned! As much as possible.

How is it different preparing for a gig supporting at an arena compared to your own show or a festival headline slot?

It’s a little bit different. Obviously we’re supporting so we’re not bringing our own big show. Headline shows are a lot different, it’s a lot longer for a start. I think we’re doing about half an hour [supporting Thunder]. it’s in an arena so we’ll need proper monitoring and stuff like that. It’s different preparation. The sound’s always different in an arena but it’s nice, I’m really looking forward to it!

We did a little run of dates with Lynyrd Skynyrd a few years ago in arena which was very cool!

Do you have any advice you could give smaller bands starting out?

A big one for us… we’ve been going since about 2010 I think. We never got any support to us for a long time and we were always a bit bitter and jaded about it. But I’d say to other bands don’t be in a rush, it’ll happen when it happens. It was better for us for it to happen later in our career because we got ourselves pretty good. You’re going on stage and you’re actually going to win fans over. You know what you’re doing.

Don’t feel bitter about other bands getting support slots and you’re not, your time will come. Don’t give up!

New Music Mondays: Five Finger Death Punch, Panic! At the Disco and Much More!

A STACKED week of new music from the rock and metal world this week. Join us in checking it out!

Five Finger Death Punch: AfterLife

Okay, let’s get the controversial one out of the way first. I know that if I give this band and album any praise at all y’all will disagree, and that’s fine, I’ve made peace with it. But underneath the Monster guzzling, Drywall and partner punching Kyle energy, there are some damn talented musicians. Heck, ANDY FUCKING JAMES guitars for them these days, the talent is there. And their first couple of albums were honestly fantastic. I haven’t heard the new singles or much after Wrong Side of Heaven as they began to bore me, but hopefully this album brings them back to their roots more!

Spoiler alert: it doesn’t. It’s nowhere near as bad as people will make it out to be, it’s still okay. It’s just incredibly generic radio metal. The riffs are still phat and fun and the production is still up there with some of the best. And of course James shreds some of the best highlights of the album. The issue, much like with most of their music, is Ivan’s lyrics. The angsty, angry, juvenile writing is really something a man in his 40s should have grown out of by now. He has a great voice still and is clearly good at writing catchy, huge vocal melodies and choruses, they’re just dampened considerably by the lyrical content. If they were a bit deeper or had more to them or had changed at all in the last decade+, I feel like this would be great.

‘Times Like These’ was an okay ballad and the title track is okay. But for every good track on the album, there’s a ‘Roll Dem Bones’ or the utterly terrible ‘Judgement Day’. Honestly, the good was few and far between and this was a really tough listen. I was bored way before halfway through. It’s such a shame because their thrash-Slipknot sound and attitude of Way of the Fist was fantastic and they have yet to get close to its quality. It’s a pretty slow album all-round, actually. The biggest praise I can give it, I guess, is that it’s somehow easy-listening metal. But still, it’s the worst album I’ve heard from them, of the five I’ve heard. 3/10

Panic! At The Disco: Viva Las Vengeance

Brendan Urie and friends (it stopped being Panic! years ago) are back with the follow-up to their massive 2018 album Pray For the Wicked. I have to admit I wasn’t the biggest fan of this band at their rock peak, I always preferred Fallout Boy, but I like a few tracks here and there. Heck, even ‘High Hopes’ isn’t bad as far as earworms go, just incredibly overplayed. With how poppy the singles have been so far, I feel like they’re going to be the same.

While a terrible album opener, the title track is a fun, Vegas-inspired pop-rock song. That’s pretty much the entire story of the album, if I’m being honest. And I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad thing. It’s not bad music at all, just a tad boring. It’s okay chilled out pop ‘rock’, but it’s a far cry from ‘I Write Sins not Tragedies’. It is pretty much musical music, which is exactly where Urie wants to be. Honestly if this was a musical I’d probably enjoy it a lot more than I do. Brendan is still one of the best vocalists alive today, but outside some pretty basic instrumentation behind his voice, that’s all there is to this album.

‘God Killed Rock And Roll’ is maybe the highlight of the album, but that’s because it’s so obviously and unapologetically Queen that it’s almost laughable. It’s a good album and I wouldn’t turn it off if it came on again, but it’s not really my sort of thing. 5/10

Demi Lovato: HOLY FVCK

It took Demi adding one of the most acclaimed rock guitarists currently in Nita Strauss in order to go back to pop punk. However, that was a relatively new addition so maybe this had been in the works for a while. Either way, a minute into the album and it’s already better than anything else she’s ever done. That riff for FREAK is tasty and for once the awful Yungblud doesn’t even overstay his welcome on a guest slot.

I’m so glad artists of this ilk, the latest being Avril Lavigne, are returning to this rock-inspired sound, and that a new generation is stepping up to join them. Hopefully it starts to lead towards more rock in the mainstream again. Plus, hopefully P!nk comes back to join the style soon too!

This album is fucking incredible, by the way. This is the album she should have put out after her return from rehab last year. Its full of emotion and a look into her thoughts and feelings about her past few years. And musically it’s catchy, radio friendly and, most importantly, ROCK. The genre that (kinda) introduced the world to her, and she returns with a vengeance. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the album art seems pretty similar to The Pretty Reckless’s last album, it’s clear that album’s inspired this one quite a bit. There’s nothing to really complain about anything, aside maybe the bloated track listing, but the album is that well paced that it doesn’t really even matter. I can’t believe I’m putting this but 8.5/10, it really is that good!

I Prevail: TRUE POWER

Another band I feel like I should have given more time to before now. It’s metalcore and has everything I should like in a band. I have one of their tracks on my Spotify (Gasoline, I think) and do enjoy it. So, I’m excited to sink my teeth into this album.

Truthfully, this album is a bit of a mixed bag. I liked when they got heavier on tracks like ‘Body Bag’, ‘Fake’ and ‘Judgement Day’. However their lighter stuff didn’t do much for me and their pop-punk, clean choruses almost felt a little… generic? I feel like that’s not the right word but I can’t think of a better one. I feel like I’ve heard them before. And some of the rap didn’t do it for me either, while some parts of it really did. Overall there was enough to keep me coming back, and plenty of it has made our playlist. 7/10

Soilwork: Overgivenheten

This was all over the place in the best way. So much so that I had to listen to it multiple times through over the weekend in order to just compose my thoughts. Sometimes melodeath, sometimes prog, sometimes power metal, sometimes straight up Scorpions-style hard rock, this had a bit of everything.

Having said that, everything they do sounds great. The heavier, epic opener into the lighter, clean-centric following track did a great job of showing what the band are about right from the offset. From there the quality stays, as does the variety. ‘Electric Again’ is one of my favourite tracks on the album, as is ‘Is It in Your Darkness’. No two songs are alike, especially when next to each other on the album, a fantastic display of songwriting prowess and honestly made for an insanely fun listen. Every track is good, not just the highlights, and this is an album I’ll be listening to a lot going forward! 8/10

The Chats: Get Fucked

Unapologetically punk as FUCK. Basically The Sex Pistols but with actual talent. I don’t even know what else I can say about it, it’s that straightforward an album. It’s punk, if you like the genre, you’ll like this. I’d struggle to even pick some highlight tracks as, due to the style, they all sound pretty similar. However, the album is so concise at 27-minutes that it never overstays its welcome. Good stuff! 7/10

Silversun Pickups: Physical Thrills

This was not what I was expecting, but I have no idea why. I’ve seen the name floating around for a good few years and always associated them with the likes of Smashing Pumpkins and Radiohead. And guess what, this was exactly like those two bands. I guess I was simply expecting a little more, however foolishly. I’m not really a fan of either of the aforementioned bands, and I can’t get into this much either.

It’s dark, moody prog rock with just enough of a commercial edge that it could be considered radio-friendly. I wasn’t a fan of some of the artier tracks, but then songs like ‘Sacred Together’ and ‘Hereafter’ were so good it made me almost forget how much I wasn’t fussed by the rest of the album.

Conan: Evidence of Immortality

Heavy prog doom metal from the UK, this feels like the most ‘true metal’ thing I’ve ever listened to. When the opening track is 10+ minutes long, you know you’re in for one hell of a ride.

Unfortunately, that ride is pretty slow and takes a while to get to any fun sightseeing locations. I’m a fan of doom, but the same riffs repeated for two minutes or more don’t do much for me. The vocals help breakup the repetitiveness of the tracks a little, and the scream is very good. But it wasn’t enough to hold my attention for too long.

I remember seeing them a few years ago at a small venue my old band played at and remember enjoying them live, so maybe that’s what I need. Seeing music live helps it translate a lot better, being surrounded by likeminded people and having it all much louder and seeing them play it etc. Until I can make it down to one of their gigs, however, I feel like I can only give this a 4.5/10. Sorry guys.

Thundermother: Black and Gold

A controversial band next, at least in the UK underground rock scene. The NWOCR band return with their fifth album, looking to shake some of that negative energy off them, and honestly it’s very good.

Opening track ‘The Light in the Sky’ sets a great stadium-filling sound and precedent that continues throughout. The title track is mid-tempoed, catchy awesomeness and the riff for ‘Raise Your Hands’ is sleazy greatness. The soft, almost jazz rock ballad ‘Hot Mess’ is another massive highlight of the album too, as is the Thunderstruck-esque ‘I Don’t Know You’.

It’s all massive, catchy, radio-friendly hard rock, and it’s great. Some bands you can just tell from their sound and songwriting that they’re going to be massive, and these are definitely one of them. I could easily hear this opening for amassive stadium tour like GnR or the Crue/Leppard one, it’d go down a storm. I can’t praise this enough. 9/10

Hammer King: Kingdemonium

We checked this out already and loved it. Check out the full review and score here.

Lillian Axe: From Womb to Tomb

The first new album to be released by the band in over a decade, it’s not as black metal as the album title suggests it is. If anything a lot of it channels more soft/prog rock sounds than the ‘hard rock’ they are. While the opening track sounds ELO-like, the second goes in a completely different direction and goes full Dream Theater. I actually quite like the prog sound they go for for the most part, but it is so very DT I might as well just be listening to Octavarium. There’s some fun riffs none the less and the vocals are powerful and fit the music well. Good stuff, but nothing that I haven’t heard plenty before. 6/10

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Jack J Hutchinson: ‘I need to be reminded by my manager that I should be playing songs off the current album!’

Check out our interview with our good friend and awesome blues guitarist/songwriter Jack J Hutchinson! We spoke about his upcoming EP/DVD boxset, his upcoming tour and his new line-up!

Obviously we were going to see each other at Rockin’ the Bowl this year before the cancelation. Having said that, what do you think of the music scene at the minute?

I mean there’s a lot of bands that were on at Rockin’ the Bowl that I’ve seen at a lot of festivals in the last year or so so there are some great acts. A lot of guys that I’ve been on the same bill as that I really rate. Some great players. The biggest thing for me is songwriting really, bands that have good tunes, and there’s tonnes of great stuff. I like quite a variety of different music too, from blues to heavy rock and even acoustic folk stuff as well. We’re sort of overloaded with music at the minute which is cool!

You have the EP/boxset coming out next month, how did that come about?

Well, I released an album earlier on this year called ‘The Hammer Falls’ and during that process I was offered the opportunity to work with Kevin Shirley who’s produced some incredible artists: Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin, Joe Bonamasa, just loads of people. So I was kinda in the latter stages of mixing the last record when Kevin offered to do one or two songs. I had this idea of doing a remix of some of the tracks we were working on last year. So what you hear on this EP is alternate takes of some of the songs.

I think it’s quite interesting to compare them to the other versions on the album. And then there’s a brand new song on the EP as well. So that’s pretty cool!

A DVD isn’t something you see much in the underground scene these days, do you think bands are having to do more ‘out there’ merch to make more of a living?

Yeah I guess. I’ve always wanted to try and come up with new ideas in terms of the product that I put out there. When I put my album ‘Who Feeds the Wolf’ out I did it on a splattered red and black vinyl which seemed quite a unique thing at the time but everybody’s doing it now. I’m not insinuating that they’re doing it because I did it but…

I could have done this release as another multicoloured vinyl release. There are two reasons why I didn’t. One was because I wanted to try something different and I wanted to do something that was a two disc set, like the Rolling Stones ‘From the Vault’ boxset. Also I brought this Winery Dogs DVD a couple of years back that was pretty cool. Like a companion disc for the record. So that’s where the idea of it came for.

Check out our review of The Hammer Falls here.

Another reason I didn’t want to do it on vinyl is because of the experience of the manufacturing of it over the last two years. It’s taking so long to do it. I was lucky with The Hammer Falls as I got a heads up about what was coming. I put my order in before the album was even fully recorded. I paid for the slot like 10 months prior. There was only like three songs that we still had to record but there was a risk in it. It could have gone completely, horribly wrong.

But for this release I wanted to get something out for the latter half of this year. Then the Kevin Shirley thing came about and I thought it was exciting and something just a bit different!

Is it touring for the foreseeable or are you writing again already?

I’m actually supposed to be going to Spain next month. It’ll be the first time I’ve really been over to Europe since the pandemic kicked off. So at the moment I’m just trying to work out all the visa stuff and all that. When I started playing guitar when I was like 14 I didn’t envision that it’d all just be admin at one stage in my career. It’s all I’ve really done this week.

So next month we’re headed out on tour. I’ve got a new band heading out with me later on in the year which is cool. This Brilliant bassist called Charlie Rachel Kay who’s joining. She’s the bassist for Ashley Sherlock. Then the drummer is Phil Wilson who’s played with tonnes of people: Elles Bailey, Sean Webster, Lawence Jones. It’s going to be exciting to take a new band out. I’ve had the same band now for almost four years. We work really well together and had some amazing experiences but they’re kinda moving on to do different projects.

Yeah, it’s exciting to be playing some new songs. And I have been writing a lot of material recently so we’ll have to see if any of it makes it into the setlist. I hope it will! It’ll be a real shift from the last tour where we were kinda doing stuff that we’d been playing for two or three years. Now’s the time to refresh it a bit!

Do you think it’ll have a bit of a different feel on stage with new members?

I don’t know, man. I’ve never been one to over-rehearse ahead of tours. I think you’ve got to allow things to organically develop. You’ve got to trust your players. The person who really needs to do their homework tends to be me, I’m a bit of a scatterbrain with all of this stuff. I move on from project to project quite quickly so I need to be reminded by my manager that I should be playing songs off the current album.

We’re looking at getting some rehearsals in at the end of this month, which is exciting in of itself. With bands you’ve got to foster a vibe with the people who are part of the band. Music is one element of it, but if people are miserable in the band they’re not going to play very well. I want every band I take out with me to enjoy it. This is rock’n’roll man, they should be going out and having a blast on tour, not moping and moaning about it.

The few support bands announced for it so far look sick. How would you say the environment of the NWOCR scene is?

Yeah, I mean I speak quite closely with Wes (my manager) on who to take out. I always see support slots, although I don’t really like using the word support, as an opportunity for the bands that come out with me to meet my audience and gain fans. But also I want bands to come out that are going to make it a pleasurable experience for me. I make sure I listen to the acts and I want a badass collection of bands on the tour. It means that before I go on stage I can go out and have fun and watch the bands myself.

We have a band that are doing a few of the dates, Firekind, they were the support act for my tour last year. They’re great, just really fun to have around. They make you laugh and that’s what you want. And obviously White Raven Down are a fucking incredible band too.

Kingdemonium: My New Favourite Power Metal Album?

German power metallers Hammer King are set to release their fifth studio album this week, Kingdemonium. We managed to get a sneak preview so read below to see what we thought of it!

The album starts off strong with ‘Invisible King’. An awesome power metal riff is backed up perfectly by some solid drumming. It drops down to drums and bass for the verse, the powerful, higher vocals fitting great over the top. The guitars come back in for the pre, harmonies adding perfectly to the vocals and it all having a huge, epic sound to it.

It then opens up even more in the chorus, it reminding me of Iron Maiden’s ‘Longest Day’ in that the pre is big enough to be a chorus on its own, but the chorus itself takes it to even huger heights. The call and response backing vocals in the chorus make it even catchier, too. We of course get a fantastic guitar solo because power metal, it also reminding me a lot of modern Maiden. The a double chorus takes us home. A simple, straight to the point, awesome rock song. Playlisted!

Another single, ‘Pariah is my Name’, is up next. After another fun, epic metal riff it boarders on thrash territory for a fast verse. It reminds me more of Sabaton when they speed up. The pre feels like it’s building to something huge again but instead it drops back a bit, hitting hard with a straight-forward chorus. It’s still catchy as anything thanks to the great vocal melody and heavy instrumentation. A great riff follows out the second chorus and again leads to a fantastic technical guitar solo. The short bridge leading into the final chorus was also awesome, adding in some chanted vocals that would go down a storm live. Hammer King are two for two so far, another great song playlisted!

Check out more power metal here.

‘We Shall Rise’ opens on an extended, awesome harmonic guitar riff. It then heads into exactly what you’ expect from power metal, and it’s awesome. This is similar to the opening track in terms of structure, building more and more epicness throughout the track. The chorus is catchy as anything, especially with the ‘rise’ chants. Pointing out the awesome guitar solo feels redundant at this point but yep, there’s one here too! The rest of the track is again awesome power metalness through and through.

‘Live Long, Die Nasty’, alongside ‘Guardians of the Realm’, ‘Mark of the Beast’, ‘Other Kingdoms Fall’, ‘The Four Horsemen’, and the title track all follow similar formulas. Don’t get me wrong, they are all great songs. Songs that I’ll be listening to a lot still moving forward. They just all abide by the typical intro, (verse + chorus)x2, bridge/solo, chorus end, structure. Lumping them all together as they are all fantastic songs, especially the album closing track. It simply makes this review a nicer read so you aren’t reading the same thing over and over. All good songs, I’ve just already said what I’d want to say about them in previous paragraphs.

‘The 7th of the 7 Kings’ opens straight into vocals, a beautiful clean guitar behind them. The band wear their Maiden influence on their sleeve as this whole thing reminds me so much of Moonchild. And of course, for those who don’t know, go look up what album said song opens. It explodes into a HUGE metal riff after the opening verse before dropping back a bit again for more vocals. The drums and bass were a nice touch this time though, adding some dynamics and layers.

The epicness of course builds through a catchy-ass pre until an absolutely massive chorus comes in. Both sets of vocals, the lead and backing, are catchy as hell and make it all sound Homeric. The duelling lead guitars were fantastic, as were the operatic-style vocals in the background between the solos. Yes, solos. There is more than one and they’re all awesome. The outro is amazing too and I know I’m using the word too much but this whole track gives a new meaning to the word epic. Power metal done very right. Playlisted.

Finally we have the prog track of the album, the near 8-minute epic ‘Age of Urizen’. Opening on a short acoustic guitar riff it soon drops into a huge heavy one. It stays quick and heavy for the riff, again the backing vocals adding an epic edge to it with all the ‘oo’s and ‘oh’s. The chorus opens up into slower, effortlessly catchy vocals.

After a short bridge out of the second chorus we get an amazing duelling lead guitar line, the harmonies sounding excellent. The band do a good job of filling out the sound behind it too, a lot of bands leave it to the low bass and it sounds like a big empty gap, but here it filled out well. The soloing continues for a bit, making me not at all jealous of their talent. We then get another verse and chorus before a catchy-as outro takes us home in style. This didn’t feel like 7:30 at all. It followed the typical structure but gave everything such space to breath that it felt massive. Good stuff!

Overall: This was awesome! Being so up and down with power metal I didn’t expect to like this as much as I did, but I loved it. The band are all insanely good musicians and their songwriting is off the charts. I’m going to have to check out their older stuff now and hopefully they tour in the UK sometime soon!

The Score: 8/10

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Marco Mendoza: ‘The new direction is the right direction!’

We spoke to bass legend Marco Mendoza ahead of his new album, New Direction’, about said album, his upcoming tour and any advice he has for new bands. Check it out down below!

Talk to me about the new album?

It’s coming out September 16th. I’ve gotta say I’m really excited about it! We started recording this in September ’19, so three years ago. After 2021 just for a minute it felt like ‘is this thing ever going to come out’, you know? At the beginning of this year we were working the logistics with the label and even then we didn’t know what was going to happen.

So, when they released the first single ‘Take it to the Limit’, the response was great. More than expected. Then ‘Shoot for the Stars’ also got a lot of thumbs up and stuff. Then ‘New Direction’ came out, the title cut of the album, and everybody seems to dig it. So I’m really happy man. From ground zero to the release of the album, I have some dates to announce, including the UK.

So hopefully we’re headed in a new direction, we’re trying to find our way back home after our industry got hit hard. So there’s specs of a light at the end of the tunnel, a lot of hope and optimism. It’s not going to happen by itself, you need to learn to roll the dice and believe in it. I’m excited to say the least. I was forced to listen to the songs back and I’m really proud of it. It’s a good album!

And would you say it’s a new direction in terms of the sound?

Well, it’s a trip. In our industry we start labelling everything, ‘this is hard rock, this is classic rock, this is metal, this is black metal and this and that’. And at the bottom of it all is pop music. Back in the day, the people I grew up listening to had songs on the radio, so they were pop songs. Creedence Clearwater Revival, Deep Purple, Whitesnake, Ted Nugent… they were playing music on the radio. So to me, that was what pop represented. Then as we got into the 70s and 80s we started labelling things and I get it, it’s fine.

I would say if we had to label it we’re leaning more on the songwriting, the pop side of music if you will, which is fine.

The new direction is that we found a direction again! Like I said, we lost our way somewhere and for a moment it was pretty grim. The world came to a screeching halt and we weren’t sure when it was going to start, there was a few false starts too. September/October last year I ended up rolling the dice and I got invited to do some stuff and with all the restrictions and lower capacity, we had a successful tour. That’s what gave me a little more gas in the tank. The new direction is the right direction.

Check out our last chat with the man himself here.

Is there a different approach taken to writing with your solo stuff as opposed to with the likes of the Dead Daisies?

Yeah, well the Dead Daises was put together to be a collective, meaning every member of the band would get around the table with acoustics and collectively throw ideas into the melting pot. We’d come out with 20-25 ideas that were almost finished and then our producer would also be there and we’d all agree which to pick.

With my solo project it is different, it’s a little quicker. I’m not saying it’s better or easier, just harder. I’ve written with cats that are songwriters and for me to be part of that I just stay out of the way. There’s a lot of different dynamics depending on the situation. You learn to compensate and navigate and adjust.

With us being a solo project, Sorrin being my producer/guitar player/songwriting partner, him and I make decisions so it’s quicker. It’s very sincere, very honest. We don’t over-analyse stuff, we just know when something’s working, we document it. It’s a faster process. And then we get the players in and they play the songs.

The process is different; it’s quicker and… not more productive but it’s a faster process. I like to work fast when it comes to music. There’s two schools, one is play, learn the songs, record it, boom, done. Then the other method is a lot of playing and adjusting and relearning. It’s like baking a cake, you’ve gotta make sure it’s right before you take it out of the oven.

What goes into the decision of choosing a single?

Well I think with the previous album, Viva, the first song that was written was ‘Viva La Rock’. We got together and within an hour, hour and a half the song was done. We sent the demo to a label and they loved it. They said this is the title for the album, this is the first single.

It kinda repeated itself again this time around, the first song was ‘Take it to the Limit’. Again it was written within hours of us getting together and sent to the label and they said it’s great and it’s the single and title of the album. The decision was made but then 2020 and 2021 came and I did a couple of runs under the Take it to the Limit heading so we decided to change it around and look at how relevant these other songs are to what is going on. New Direction had a great response so we chose that instead of Take it to the Limit, which was overused.

I believe the album has more than three singles to be honest, but logistics and decision making and all that, it’s got to go through due process. New Direction being the title cut made sense.

It’s back and forth ideas and suggestions. For me, to be honest, I have a great team of people working with me. I put my two cents in, I take a few steps back, then I either agree with the process or I put my two cents back in, then I take a few steps back again. It’s all about trust and knowing that people are pros and are making the right decisions. I think the single choices were good.

Is it just touring for the rest of the year now?

Yep! Next week I do a festival in Romania and then we start in Germany begnning of September. And then we’re booked all of September, October and all the way to November 25th I believe. It’s a trip. We started with 20 dates, now it’s this and this and we two more and then three more. When you announce you’re going out people are aware of it so you start getting ‘well you’re here, can you come here?’. That’s the process. But I’m really looking forward to coming to the UK!

Do you have any advice for bands just starting out?

The not to dos are very simple for me because I did it the wrong way. Pay attention. Do it for the right reason. Do it because you love the music and because you’re passionate about it. And set goals, long and short term, to stay focused. Be willing to put the time in, through blood sweat and tears, because there will be blood sweat and tears! Sometimes the music for me is its own reward. After all the logistics and travel and financial worries, getting up on stage and get away from that and let the music take me places, that’s my reward. It keeps me coming back.

Also, be okay with letting it go when it becomes frustrating. I think there’s something to be said for learning stuff while you’re having fun. You’ll accomplish a lot. And believe in yourself, no matter the people around you. Gravitate towards people who support you. You can’t expect anyone else to support you if you can’t support yourself.

The not to dos for me very simple: don’t drink, don’t do drugs, don’t do anything mind-altering that can impede your ability to be there and be as productive as you can be. I went through it and I went through hell. I came out of it, thank god, but I often think what would have happened if I’d have stayed on the right side of the street.

And the reality is there’s hundreds if not thousands of projects and artists and bands that want to be in your place so if you start goofing off people are going to say ‘next’.

And work work work, practice practice practice, and book as many shows as you can. I know it’s sometimes hard as the finances aren’t there, but in terms of human nature when we want something, we make it happen.

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New Music Mondays: Arch Enemy, Hollywood Undead and More!

Some great new music in both the rock and metal worlds this week. Let’s waste no time, let’s look at some!

Arch Enemy: Deceivers

For a band that contains the guitar god Jeff Loomis, Arch Enemy definitely don’t get a lot of praise. Yes, I know their more recent stuff after Alissa joined isn’t a lot of peoples favourite stuff by the band but honestly, the singles for this album have been great and if they are anything to go by, it should be fantastic.

I can confirm it is indeed, in my opinion, fantastic. Alissa has one of the most effortlessly powerful screams in the game today, and the introduction of more cleans to their sound adds a great commercial range to the band. It’s (almost) radio-friendly death metal, which is a damn impressive genre if I do say so myself. And while Loomis doesn’t have a huge amount of writing credit for the album, his lead and rhythm playing is incredible and shows that he is stuill very much at the top of his game.

‘Handshake With Hell’ is an amazing single and the perfect way to open the album. ‘Deceiver, Deceiver’ is a good balls-to-the-wall follow-up but it’s the stadium-filling ‘In the Eye of the Storm’ and ‘House of Mirrors’ that are the real highlights of the album. This heavier take on European power metal that bands like these and Parkway Drive are doing these days is controversial but, in this writers humble opinion, amazing. The whole album is great and a really good jumping off point for anyone who wants to get into the heavier side of metal. 9/10

Hollywood Undead: Hotel Kalifornia

What a 180. I never got Hollywood Undead even back in the day, but then I don’t think I was their target audience. But then again I’m a fan of RATM, Fever 333, Hyro The Hero, Linkin Park etc, so I don’t really know why this didn’t click for me. I think it’s more the 2edgy4U lyrics, it comes across as rather cringy.

It wasn’t quite as bad as some of their older stuff. There were hits of decent riffs in the likes of ‘CHAOS’ and ‘Alone at the Top’ (by far the saving grace of the album), and there are plenty of big choruses. But then there are tracks like ‘Ruin My Life’ and ‘Trap God’ that are just terrible. If you are a fan of the band I am sorry for most likely offending you, but I found this hard to get even halfway through this album. I’m going to leave it here otherwise I’ll continue to be negative. 3/10

The Goo Goo Dolls: Chaos In Bloom

Yes, they’ve done more than ‘Iris’. This was actually a pretty good album. A combination of Matchbox Twenty, the slower Aerosmith tracks and a surprising amount of Britpop. Tracks like ‘War’ and ‘Going Crazy’ were personal highlights for me, but the whole album was decent. Don’t go in expecting much more than slower, ballady pop-rock, but if that’s your thing than it’s a good album for just relax to or have on while you’re doing other things! 6.5/10

The Halo Effect: Days of the Lost

In Flames in everything but name alone, The Halo Effect’s debut album is okay. I have to admit that I never quite ‘got’ In Flames outside of a track or two, and this didn’t do much for me either. Everyone is clearly very good at what they do but nothing gripped me or stood out to me at all. It’s all pretty samey and that sound just doesn’t make me want to listen to more. The closest thing to a track I enjoyed here was ‘A Truth Worth Dying For’, and that’s probably because it’s basically a Trivium song. Sorry guys, I feel like I’m going to catch some flack for this. 4/10

Check out some more death metal here.

Boris: Heavy Rocks

The Japanese experimental band put out their third Heavy Rocks album in which they explore the rock and metal genre. It’s weird. Like as an experimental art piece I get it, especially if they are constantly exploring different genres. However, I cannot envision myself listening to this much more after this review. Tracks like the early-Nirvana-inspired ‘My Name is Blank’ and the almost Black Metal ‘Question 1’ are as close to highlights as the album has. None of it is bad, it just feels like exactly what it is, a group of people deciding “lets make a rock album, that could be cool!”, instead of wanting to write the genre their entire lives, like most in rock have. 4.5/10

Thee Oh Sees/Osees: A Foul Form

The alt/punk rock band put out a lot of music under various different incarnations of the band name, though it would always be similar. Somehow, while always writing music within the rock genre, this channelled as lot of the same energies as the previous album for me. I’m not quite into the experimental side of rock as some people so if you love this, I can understand why. However, this is not for me. At least it’s a short album, as I’d gotten bored by the fourth track and it changed very little in the final six tracks. 3.5/10

Pale Waves: Unwanted

Leaning harder into the pop elements over the rock or indie ones of their sound, I almost didn’t cover this album. Then I remembered I’ve already done the likes of Avril Lavigne and Stand Atlantic so I might as well! And, to tell you the truth, this album is better than half the others this week. The slow build of ‘The Hard Way’ won me over, and tracks like ‘Alone’ and ‘Only Problem’ are other great highlights of the album. It’s just catchy, inoffensive pop-rock, and it was enjoyable to listen to. Yes, I’m going to score this higher than Halo Effect, and I’d also probably put it above most In Flames albums too. Sue me. 7/10

Norma Jean: Deathrattle Sing for Me

Time for some of the dirtiest metalcore I’ve ever heard. It grew on me more and more the more I listened. I pretty much had a breakdown face for a full 53-minutes. ‘Spearmint Revolt’ is one of the best metalcore tracks I’ve heard period, never mind just this year. That riff is CH0NKY. ‘Aria Obscura’ is also packed full of great, heavy riffs while having a more radio-friendly edge. But honestly, this whole album is worth a listen. Even if you’re not typically into heavy stuff and screaming, there’s enough commercial edge to ease you in. 8.5/10

Seventh Storm: Maledictus

A more thrashy version of pirate metal, like a heavier, more serious Alestorm. I fucking love it. Right from the offset, this had me hooked (pun intended) and I loved it from start to finish. And, it’s another example of an utterly fantastic debut album, something that has happened a lot in recent weeks. It’s somehow an amagamation of bands like Alestorm, Machine Head, Amon Amarth, Disturbed and even some Behemoth in the riffs. It’s a fantastic blend of styles and really has something for everyone. The opener and ‘The Reckoning’ are personal favourites of mine, but again the whole album is fantastic. The only thing that could possibly put people off is the song lengths but honestly, the band does so much per track it’s easy to get lost and not realise seven minutes have been and gone. 8.5/10

Carrion Vael: Abhorrent Obsessions

The melodeath band round out this week’s New Music Mondays with a brutal album. It’s heavier than a lot in the genre, definitely adding in a lot of extreme and blackened elements. Still, tracks like ‘The Devil in Me’ and ‘Disturbia’ are great. A good album for anyone who’s into quick, heavy music! 7/10