Category Archives: Reviews

Blackout: Do Kaos Krew Return With Their Best Album to Date?

The Finnish heavy industrial metal band Kaos Krew are back with their sixth album. According to the band themselves, “The album as such is not a concept album but consists of songs written during the period of possible energy crisis, therefor the title ‘Blackout’. It’s an interesting concept, and one I’m excited to check out!

After an slow organ build-up to open ‘At the Core’, we get into a fantastic guitar riff, stomping and heavy. I love the electronic stuff adding an element of melody and futuristic feel to it. The growled vocals fit perfectly over the top, keeping the feel brutal and heavy. The pace keeps pretty steady though the vocals do clean up a little for the choruses, making them a little catchier. The structure threw me off too, as we get the bridge before the second chorus. The drum work through it is incredible, a funky off-beat, and the guitars playing a solo melody is awesome. Then a final chorus-verse-chorus takes us home in style. This was a really interesting track. It’s a great way to open the album as it sets the scene perfectly for the band’s sound.

‘Retribution’ punches the listener straight in the face with a huge riff to start. We then get an awesome, epic riff that is mirrored by I think keys, but it almost sounds like a horn/string combo. It’s fucking awesome and real epic. The vocals are clean this time, giving the track more of a prog-metal feel. The chorus is even catchier than the previous one too. The track overall has a very European metal feel to it (of course); having elements of power metal and symphonic stuff alongside their unique sound. We get an awesome guitar solo to bridge the gap between the choruses, really giving chance for the lead player to shine. We also get a really epic extended bridge that I’m sure would go down a storm live. Especially with the strings coming back. This is an incredible song, and one that easily makes our playlist!

Check out similar music here!

‘Know Thyself’ feels like the perfect amalgamation of the last two tracks. It has the stomping pace and industrial riff of the first, while having the awesome electronic melodies and epic feel of the previous track. Then, to my surprise, it drops down into a cleaner, slower bit, and we get some incredible female vocals. It’s a very interesting and welcome change of pace. It all builds perfectly into a MASSIVE, heavy, screamed chorus, and I can’t get enough of it. The riff sounds incredible behind it, making it all sound so huge. The screams almost have an air of Johannes Eckerström to them. In fact, the whole song sounds pretty Avatar, in the best way. We then get an awesome extended bridge to end. The guitars riff out while the synths do an awesome job making it all sound huge. Another easily playlisted track!

Tracks like ‘Wake up’, ‘Strangers Gate’ and ‘Flame on’ channel similar vibes to ‘Retribution’, that more epic, power metal end of their industrial sound. All three are fantastic tracks, the latter even having elements of 70s/80s pop in there too. It’s another highlight track and one to make our playlist! However, they all have a similar energy and feel to them, so it’s hard to talk about them all without repeating myself!

I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting so many instrumental tracks. Three across the latter half of the album, ‘Raceway’, ‘Dark Circus’ and ‘Bounce’. The middle one is sludgy, Black Label Society-like track with plenty of pinch harmonics and some spoken word stuff. The latter is an equally stomping, bass-lead track that leans hard into the electronic stuff at times. The former, I do have slight issues with. While it’s a great, more hard-rock style track… is the riff not just ‘Slither’? Like I love the influence of a Slash-esque sleaze into the music, but c’mon, at least change it up a little guys! It’s a cool riff at least, and they really get their money’s worth out of it!

‘Electro Magnetic Machine’ is a really interesting track, it building up incredibly slowly across over a minute of epic electro stuff. It eventually explodes into a huge riff that you can’t help but bang your head to. Some more awesome growls come in over the top, making everything feel even heavier. The one and only chorus (I guess) stays heavy but almost channels a Muse-like energy. It’s a really interesting track and placed perfectly in the middle to break things up.

Album closer ‘Electric Masquerade’ is another interesting one. Opening on an Egyptian-like sound and riff, the heaviness soon comes in over the top. It’s almost another instrumental, aside for some spoken word stuff running through it. I kinda liked the almost robot-like voice announcing the track and continuing throughout. It reminds me of Machine Head’s ‘Imaginal Cells’, especially with the subject matter too. It feels like the culmination of the topic of the album, and honestly feels like a pretty fitting and epic conclusion musically, too. Any awesome way to close out the album!

Overall: This is an awesome album! Though, I have to admit, it does feel a tad front-loaded. Those first three or four tracks are so good, and I was ready to start handing out a 10. However, a large part of the latter half of the album is more instrumental based, bar a couple of songs. It’s not an issue, but I feel it could have maybe been arranged a little better to spread out the vocal-lead tracks a bit more. Still, as an album as a whole, it’s excellent, and so great to just sit down and listen through in one sitting. The band are amazing throughout, and I can’t give it any less than…

The Score: 9/10

Perfect Stranger: Eric Paslay ‘s New EP, and a Bonus Christmas Song!

Disclaimer first of all, I got the dates mixed up and thought this was out on the 8th. My bad. However, I think I recovered pretty well and bring to you our review of Eric Paslay ‘s brand new EP. And, as an apology, I’ll even throw in a review of his new Christmas song too, how’s that?

The title track begins the album in rather subdued, almost pop-country fashion. Eric’s voice sounds fantastic over the top of the simple riff, though. It builds into a big sounding, infectiously catchy chorus. It’s pretty reserved and stripped-back though, as is the trend these days with guys like Morgan Wallen and Jordan Davis. It sounds incredible though and is sure to be a massive hit. It’s a simple yet very effective track that opens the EP perfectly.

Check out more country here.

‘Everything With You’ has a similar feel to it than the previous track, but replaces the guitar with an awesome simple piano melody. It also reminds me of Threat to Survival era Shinedown as much as it does a stadium country track. It’s another very catchy chorus, and the whole track has a fun, swaggering sort of attitude and energy to it. It’s another really great track, and this one easily makes our playlist!

Next up is single ‘Best Friends’. I’ve heard this a few times already from checking it out when the EP was announced. It’s a beautiful, slower, ballad-type track. Between the piano and strings to open, it sets up the emotion of the track from the get go. It’s of course another amazing, catchy chorus. The emotion is there throughout, and the subtle harmonies in it are amazing. It’s just a really great slower song, and Eric Paslay’s voice sounds phenomenal on the track. If anything, I’d have preferred a little more of a bridge; more focus on the strings. However, it was perfect for a radio single!

‘Like I’m Loving You Now’ is a little more up-tempo than the previous tracks. It still has that familiar pop feel from the first two, but it’s nice to have it a little more bouncy. It gives it more of a country feel, which is nice! And it feels redundant to say at this point, but the chorus is catchy and very enjoyable! It’s another track that easily makes our playlist!

Single ‘Best Damn Days’ is very similar to the other few tracks. It’s great and has maybe my favourite chorus on the album, but there is no denying its similarities. Meanwhile the final track on the EP, ‘Lost in a Song’, is another powerful ballad. And, honestly, it’s incredible. Starting with mainly just vocals, a quiet guitar building everything up more and more. It all leads to an incredible, powerful chorus that gave me chills. Eric Paslay ‘s vocals sound perfect on them, and the swell of the backing vocals were amazing. It has more of a folk/Americana feel to it, and I’m obsessed. And AMAZING song and one that easily makes our playlist too. What a way to close an EP!

And, as promised, ‘Run Rudolph Run’ is a very fun track. Shockingly enough, it’s closer to a blues rock/surfer sound than anything else I’ve checked out on this review. If you’d have told me this was Blackberry Smoke, I’d have easily believed you. It’s a really fun track and shows that Eric Paslay is certainly no slouch when it comes to sound, and takes a risk with a cover that doesn’t really sound like him. I’d have happily taken some stuff like this on the EP in a heartbeat!

Overall: All of this was great! The EP was a powerful, emotional release that was filled with epic moments and big choruses. And then the Christmas song was a fun cover of a rock classic that you can’t help but dance along to. The fact that they were released on the same day is genius, and I’m so glad I checked it all out. Eric Paslay has been a big name for a while, and I’m so glad he’s now starting to be recognised in the UK more and has a tour booked for this month. I’ll definitely be listening to this again!

The Score: 8.5/10

Black | Death  | Doom: Saasta Follow Up Last Year’s Album with a Crushing EP!

The Finnish death metal band Saasta are following up their critically acclaimed 2022 album with the release of this EP, out tomorrow! I remember having checked out a track or two from the band before, so am excited to dive right in and see what this is like!

The EP begins with an atmosphere setting intro track, ‘Stygian Grey’. You immediately get a sense for all three genres and styles just from the brief 1:17 track. That alone should speak volumes about the bands impressive songwriting talents, and what sort of awesomeness is to come.

And it leads perfectly into the title track. A HUGE, brutal riff and scream makes it all feel almost hardcore as well as deathy and doomy. Especially with the song structure; short verses and call-and-response choruses. Though, having said that, we also get a brutal second half of the second verse. It’s almost a breakdown and fuck does it go hard. It somehow makes the following chorus feel even heavier, too. There are definite elements of black metal throughout too, though. Little atmospheric riffs to make everything just sound more evil. It’s an amazing track, short, sweet and contains everything you’d want from the band. And that scream at the end, *chef’s kiss*. It easily makes our playlist!

There’s no rest for the wicked, as we head straight into more brutality from ‘Sickness’. Another huge, but more groove/doom paced, riff kicks you in the face. Surprisingly though it drops down to a clean guitar part after, feeling the perfect mixture of black metal and Slayer. The pace and distortion picks back up before the verse, but it all does have a rather modern thrash feel to it. The vocals are straight up death still, though. It kinda gives off Amon Amarth vibes, which is great. I love the dynamics of the track, keeping it constantly interesting. It’s another awesome track to make it onto the playlist!

Check out more death metal here!

We then reach the final track of this all too short EP, ‘Murhattu’. It opens very dark and black metally, before picking the pace up into more death metal. The track goes hard throughout, the chorus being somehow both heavy and catchy in equal measure. The alternating between the two styles was a lot of fun, and made for a really awesome track. I love the final twenty seconds or so too. I feel like it would go down an absolute storm live.

Overall: This was awesome! As I said above, my only complaint is that it was over far too soon. I’m going to have to go back and give the album another listen, because if it’s anything like this I’ll love it. I’m really hoping this EP was something to keep the fans going until another album, because I need to hear more of this immediately! The band are phenomenal performers and songwriters, and have crafted one hell of an EP here. I’ll be listening to it a lot in the coming weeks and months, I’m sure!

The Score: 9/10

Daði Freyr & BLUSHER Rock Rock City!

Okay so first of all, yes, I am well aware this isn’t the sort of music we typically cover here at Overtone. But I am a big fan of Daði Freyr ‘s music so I headed down to see him on a cold winters night. And, he was so damn good, I just had to write about it!

Supporting them were the wonderful trio, BLUSHER. The ladies had travelled all the way from Australia for the tour and mentioned how it was their first time playing in the UK. And, honestly, they were fantastic. Their voices all paired together perfectly, and when they sang individually they all sounded amazing, too. And their showmanship was great, too. From synchronized dancing to switching positions depending on who took the lead, the trio were clearly professionals. Not a single part of the stage wasn’t used and there was always something going on. It was impossible to take your eyes off of!

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not exactly my sort of thing. It’s very radio-friendly pop music. However, they were a lot of fun to watch live and I’d highly recommend you give them a chance if they’re ever playing nearby!

Surprisingly enough, they were the only support. Next up was the man of the hour, Daði Freyr himself. I fell in love with him after seeing his Eurovision performance a few years back, so between that and checking out his videos, I was a tad worried how the show would be when it was just him and two others on stage. My worry was almost immediately silenced. The show was captivating, brilliant and fucking awesome. Between the percussionist, the guitarist and Daði himself, they owned the stage. And, it truly felt more like a band than a solo act, which was awesome to see. Especially since both were amazing at their craft. Whether it was the electric drums, pitch perfect backing vocals or utterly incredible guitar work, they are the perfect two to work alongside Daði Freyr.

As for the setlist, it was arranged pretty perfectly. Understandably heavy on tracks from the latest album, opening on ‘Thank You’ was perfect. From there we launched through funky numbers like ‘Skiptir ekki máli’ and ‘Sabada’, as well as slower, introspective songs like ‘Sunshine’. Heck, it even got pretty heavy with German techno track ‘Bitte’. And of course we got plenty of crowd favourites like ‘I’m Fine’, ‘Moves to Make’ and Eurovision tracks ’10 Years’ and ‘Think About Things’. Heck, he even had time to squeeze in a couple of covers for the encore. A stripped back version of McFly’s ‘Obviously’ and the hugely popular ‘Whole Again’.

Again, I just want to shout out just how good a performance the band put on. Considering they couldn’t move around a huge amount, they made use of what space they could. The huge inflatable Daði Freyr head and hands at the back of the stage were hilarious, too. It was one of the best live sets I’ve seen all year, and that’s saying something!

So, safe to say I enjoyed myself! Both bands did a fantastic job performing for a packed out Rock City, and I honestly couldn’t ask for anything more. If you get the chance to see either of the acts live any time soon, I cannot recommend it enough. I already want to see Daði Freyr again immediately. Hopefully next time he can run and even bigger venue!

Somewhere // Anywhere: The Album to push The Alchemy Into the Mainstream?

The Alchemy are back with their third album this week. I have to admit, outside of the name and the stuff I’ve found on Spotify, I have absolutely no idea what to expect here. But hey, going in blind is always fun, right? Let’s dive right in!

A HUGE sound opens ‘Birdsong’, the high production value being evident immediately. It’s a wall of sound that builds perfectly but doesn’t at all feel too overpowered like it can tend to. We head into a stripped-back verse, the vocals sounding perfectly over the top of the simple drums and bass. The chorus soon comes in, another awesome riff behind it, the drums fitting perfectly behind it, and the vocals being infectiously catchy. The backing vocals are awesome and main riff is a real earworm. It feels very Lower than Atlantis in the best ways. The bridge is simple yet effective, dropping down and building up to a huge final chorus. It’s a fantastic way to open the album and introduce themselves to new listeners!

‘Lovesick’ continues the epic feel and sound and production, as well as another awesome main riff. It follows a similar formula to the previous track, a stripped back verse leading into a huge, arena-filling chorus. Again, the vocal harmonies and multi-track are a big highlight. Also, the slightly heavier approach to the bridge was great. If it had quietened down at first, it could have almost been a breakdown! It’s a really great track and easily makes it onto our playlist!

Check out a similar(ish) review here!

The album slows up a bit for its title track, it having more of an electronic, almost You Me At Six feel. The emphasis shifts from the big crunchy riffs and even more onto the insanely catchy vocals. It feels a bit more pop/indie than the previous stuff. It’s not quite as much my sort of thing, but it’s still a banging, very catchy song!

The same could be said for ‘True Love’s a Waste of Time’, ‘Real Life’ and ‘Sun Bleached’. It’s kind of a tale of two halves, as there are heavier tracks and riffs later on like the amazing ‘Brothers’ and the dark, closer ‘Hollywood’. Both tracks are amazing and real highlights of the album for me personally. It’s really interesting to bookend the album with the bigger sounds and riffs, leaving the poppier, more indie stuff in the middle. It’s really interesting and well put together honestly, and I feel like I’ve taken a journey listening to it through.

Also on the album is single and acoustic ballad, ‘Summer’. It gives me early 2000’s vibes, very Incubus, 311 or even Everlast. It’s a beautiful and incredibly well written song. The vocals are pitch-perfect and full of emotion, and the simple instrumentation behind it is amazing. And the band still manage to squeeze in some of their off-the-charts vocal harmonies, making it all somehow even better. This is not only one of the best tracks on the album, but easily one of the best ballads of the year I’ve heard. Fucking awesome stuff.

‘Normal People’ returns the band to the higher pace rock vibe, and it can’t be just me that hears U2 a lot in here? Between the huge sound, the style of guitaring and the vocal melodies, it really reminded my of Bono and co. Surprisingly enough too, I’m not particularly a U2 fan but I LOVED this. It’s the biggest, most radio-friendly chorus on the album, and the ‘woh’s following the guitar melody is a genius idea. And the bridge, while simple, is amazingly effective and still pretty heavy. Another track that easily makes its way onto our playlist!

Finally, ‘Glass Houses’ has a very early 2000s Red Hot Chili Peppers feel to it. It has elements of rock, funk and indie all mushed together, and it’s a really interesting sound. It’s another simple yet incredibly effective track too. The chorus is awesome, and that riff that kicks in after the choruses are heavy. It’s a lot of fun and another track I’d highly recommend listening to.

Overall: This is an awesome album! I had no idea what to expect heading into it, but I’m hugely impressed by what I found. The production throughout is top notch and the songwriting and playing is phenomenal. Sure, there were a couple of tracks that didn’t resonate with me as much as the others, but there is a LOT I love on this album. And, as a whole as I’ve said already, it’s incredibly well put together. These guys have hit their stride with this album, and I can see it pushing them far!

The Score: 8.5/10

The New Roses & Empyre Rock the Craufurd Arms!

It is no secret to any long time readers of this site, or to anyone that knows me, that New Roses are one of my favourite bands. Having been introduced to them back in 2017 through Hard Rock Hell, I have seen them work hard to slowly gain more and more of a foothold in the UK. The other night was a testament to that. Midway through their first major tour of the UK with Massive Wagons and taking a couple of nights off to headline their own smaller, packed shows.

And, being supported by the wonderful Empyre and local boys Devil’s Ransom, it really was a show not to be missed. Thankfully, we didn’t, and are here to tell you just what you missed!

First on were Devil’s Ransom. They fit the bill pretty perfectly as they are very similar in sound and theme to New Roses. The band only had half an hour, but more than put that time to good use! Even with some technical difficulties, they played through it like pros and we had an improvised yet fun drum and bass solo while the guitarist sorted stuff out. The band played their hearts out through a fun set and put on a great show for the crowd!

Next up were moody alt rockers Empyre. Promising to bring the mood down in the best way possible, they delivered a much too short set full of moody, awesome music. They are one of the best bands in the UK underground scene today, be that live or on track, and that was on full display here. Hendrik has one of the most powerful, incredible voices in all of rock at the minute. On tracks like opener ‘Waking Light’ or ‘Hit and Run’, it honestly gave me chills. That’s not at all to take away from the other band members, either. Did, Grant and Elliot create such a brooding, captivating atmosphere with their playing and performance. It sucks you in immediately and holds your attention throughout. Their presence on stage is incredible.

Honestly, I’d love to see this band play bigger shows with a Tool-like stageshow. I think it would fit them perfectly and add even more to the aura of the band. One of the best sets I’ve seen all year! 🤌

Check out our review of their album here.

Now, this is the fifth time I’ve seen The New Roses. Somehow, every single time I’ve seen them, they have gotten better and better. This was no exception.

Being a five-piece now for the first time since the band’s inception, it’s worked out better than I could have ever anticipated. Frontman Timmy having the freedom to move around and dance and interact with the crowd more without his guitar was awesome to watch. Meanwhile returning lead guitarist Norman Bites brings so much energy and showmanship to the stage that I honestly didn’t realise I’d missed from their shows until his return. Dizzy still holds his own as a phenomenal guitarist, and both Hardy and Urban play their parts to perfection too.

As for the setlist, it was awesome. Still touring on support of their latest release, last year’s Sweet Poison, the set was heavy with tracks from it. However, the likes of ‘The Usual Suspects’, ‘Warpaint’ and ‘Sweet Gloria’ are crowd favourites. Meanwhile, deeper cuts like ‘The Lion in You’ and my personal favourite, ‘Veins of This Town’, were very welcome and sounded amazing. And the band still threw in older classics like ‘Life Ain’t Easy’, ‘Glory Road’ and perennial set closer ‘Thirsty’. And they still had time to throw in a cheeky Tom Petty cover, too! It was the perfect setlist, and the 90-minute set flew by far too quickly!

They are one of the best live bands around today, and have somehow only gotten better now that they are a five-piece! I cannot recommend them enough, be it on track or live. If you have the chance to see them live on this tour or in the future, you must take it!

Check out our last interview with frontman Timmy here!

And there we have it, folks. An utterly awesome night of rock music. Three amazing bands playing their hearts out for all in attendance. And, a quick shoutout to the venue too, as the Craufurd Arms is a really awesome rock bar! If you get the chance to see any of the three bands live, I’d highly recommend doing so. It really feels like the future of rock music, and it’s looking very bright!

The Hex of Penns Woods: Almost Honest Come Out of the Gate Swinging!

The awesome stoner/doom rock newcomers Almost Honest are set to release their debut album this coming Friday. We’ve already chatted to the band about it (find that here) and now we’re finally gonna check it out!

A very stoner riff opens ‘Alien Spiders’, the instruments building in pretty perfectly into a crescendo. Even as it explodes in with the full track, all three instruments remain right at the forefront, all a highlight in their own way. I have to say, it might have been nice to have another guitar to fill out the sound a little, but it still sounded awesome. The backing vocals add so much to the catchiness and overall sound, too. The chorus is awesome and the whole track just as a bouncy, fun aspect to it. It’s like the perfect blend of Red Fang and old-school Queens of the Stone Age. The bridge/solo is of course more awesome playing from the incredibly talented band, and the song ends with a big final chorus. What a fantastic way to open the album and a great introduction to the band!

Single ‘Amish Hex’ the grungy, stonery riff vibes perfectly. I get pretty awesome The Sword energy from it all, too. The rest of the band explode in and fill out the song perfectly, like I was expecting them to do in the previous track. It’s a HUGE sound. The vocals sound fantastic over the top of the steady verse and awesome drumbeat. Also, the harmonies are again a huge highlight. it makes the chorus pretty damn catchy. The guitar solo is also awesome, fitting in with the vibe of the track perfectly. It’s an amazing track, and one that easily makes our playlist!

‘Ballad of a Mayfly’ opens straight into some really interesting double-tracked vocals over a great chord progression. I wasn’t expecting this more pop-punk approach to songwriting, but it worked perfectly with the band’s style. The riff soon explodes in, bringing back the stoner/doom rock in the best way possible. The harmonies and vocals in the verse almost remind me of Alice in Chains, which I fucking LOVED. And then the band add in one of my favourite things in rock music that is far too underutilised: whistling. The bass and whistle harmonising is phenomenal and something I never thought would be as good as it is. Everything about the solo/bridge is also awesome, from the riffing to the drum fill. This is another incredible song and the second in a row to make our playlist!

There’s an awesome chaotic energy that runs through ‘Colony of Fire’, mainly from some of the best drumming I’ve heard this year. The way it plays off the simple, single-guitar riffing is insanely impressive. It’s another good, catchy chorus, but honestly the instrumentation is the highlight of this track. Everything from the 2:30 minute mark is amazing and highlights just how incredible the band are as musicians. It almost gives off early Tool vibes with the slightly proggy nature and the guitar tone. I love it. And more Alice In Chains vibes from the harmonies, too. It’s the third straight track to make our playlist, and I’m not even mad in the slightest.

Tracks like ‘Eyeless Herd’, ‘Goliaeths Lamp’, ‘Haunted Hunter’ and ‘Where the Quakers Dwell’ are more awesome tracks. However, they are pretty similar to the others I’ve spoken about already. That isn’t a complaint by any means, I just don’t want to repeat myself over and over in my gushing!

‘Laughter of the Deer Owl’ is an awesome track and features the amazing Brandon Yeagley of Crowbot. Again the riffing is top notch, and Brandon brings a lot of greatness to the track. His distinctive voice gave it a very Crowbot feel in the best way. And it’s a great radio-friendly stoner track that still has plenty of heaviness and awesome instrumentation. Hats off to Brandon and Almost Honest for coming together to create something that somehow feels distinctly like both parties!

‘Mortician Magician’ is a lot of fun. From the ringmaster-like intro to the slower, heavy choruses filled with call-and-response vocals, this is a blast to listen to. I love all the dynamics, too. Whether it’s dropping out just to a guitar or the awesome bridge/breakdown riff, all of it is awesome. It constantly keeps you guessing. And THAT solo towards the end is awesome!

Then we sadly reach closer, ‘William Penn’. However, it is a damn good way to close the album, and a really interesting track overall. It’s more of an interlude track than anything, being sub-three minutes, but the more clean sound of the guitar as it fades in is beautiful. Even when the distortion comes in over the top, it has an almost calming feeling to it all. It’s epic too, and definitely a fitting finale.

Overall: This was fucking awesome! There isn’t a bad track on the whole album and there is so much to love throughout. There are multiple standout tracks, too. This band have gone from strength to strength recently and I honestly think that with this release it will strap a rocket to their back. I’ll be listening to this a lot in the coming weeks and months, and anyone who is a stoner or doom or grungy rock fan should check this out immediately!

The Score: 9/10

Ways to Hate: Yesterday’s Hero Bring us Back to the Early 2000s!

Ohio’s newest alt metal band, Yesterday’s Hero, are set to release their debut album this coming Friday. Comparing their sound to everything from Chevelle, Rise Against and Killswitch Engage, it’s big shoes to fill, and I’m excited to dive right in and check it out!

Opener ‘Killing Me’ opens on amazing, low, sludgy riff. It’s heavy and yet still encapsulates perfectly that radio metal sound they are going for. Like a mixture of Black Stone Cherry and Seether. The vocals come in over the top and immediately transport me back to the early 2000s. My god, it’s so Three Days Grace in the best ways. It all builds to a fantastic, big, chorus, one that I can see easily filling arenas. Also, the scream coming out of the chorus is awesome. The bridge didn’t have much to it, but it doesn’t matter, the riffs and chorus are enough to love here!

Check out more alt metal here.

‘What I Needed’ opens on another great riff, heavier and chuggier than the last. It almost feels like a lighter thrash song, which is really cool. Again, the vocals fit perfectly over the top. And, once again, it builds into another massive, slower chorus. It’s a hugely catchy chorus and will do so well on any rock radio station. We even get a cheeky, awesome guitar solo tucked in here, bridging the gap between the choruses perfectly and epically. And we even get a heavy fucking breakdown near the end that was not expected but VERY welcome. Damn, what a great song. It easily makes our playlist!

As expected, the title track opens on a sick riff, as is standard by now. I like the interplay between the two guitars call-and-response the riff to each other left and right of the mix, it was a really cool mixing decision. The tempo goes back to the stomping, sludgy feel of the opening song, almost reminding me of Newstead’s solo album he put out like a decade ago. Or even Avenged’s Hail to the King album or a band we’re very familiar with here at Overtone, South of Salem. The chorus is another awesome one, but honestly the whole thing is catchy in terms of vocals, especially with the backing through the verses. Another fun solo is snuck in the middle of this track, but it’s a lot more radio-structured and predictable than the previous song!

By fourth track, ‘Bounce’, I was starting to get very used to the formula. Fun, heavy, mid-tempo riffing, big choruses and a radio-friendly structure. The breakdown was another fun one, but kind of expected now given the track title. The same could be said for ‘Be’ and the final two tracks on the album. All of the four are awesome tracks and I’d definitely listen to them again. However, they are kinda predictable and all that similar that it’s hard to write about them in detail!

Overall: This is a great album. As I’ve already said, my only issue with it is that all the tracks are fairly similar. However, they all sound awesome, being the perfect blend of the early 2000s alt-metal sound and a more modern take, almost bordering on Phil Campbell at times. And, as similar as it all was, I would happily take a lot more of it. Seven tracks just wasn’t enough for me! It sounds great and I think these guys are going to be a big deal soon, if this album is anything to go off!

The score: 7.5/10

Aztlán: The Album to Take Cabrakaän to the Top?

Canadian-Mexican metal band Cabrakaän return this week with their brand new album. leaning into the mythology, traditions, and sounds of their home country and looking to build off of previous album, Aztlán, this release may be their must ambitious yet. Let’s check it out!

An absolutely fantastic intro track, ‘Tonantzin’, beings the album. It sets the scene perfectly, an epic, medieval/piratey number that builds slowly through strings and and tribal drumming, soon adding in some chanted vocals and then finally some distorted guitars in the back. It’s very rare I talk about intro tracks or interludes in-depth in these reviews, but this one was so good I couldn’t not. And it was nearly four minutes long, so I had to!

The scene is set perfectly for the first offical track, ‘Fuego’. It explodes in with a big riff and immediately into vocals. Speaking of which, the vocals are incredible. An operatic style reminiscent of symphonic metal bands like Within Temptation or Nightwish. However, there still remains that traditional Mexican style under it all that works so well with the heavier sounds. The dynamics of the track are great, too. Whether it’s catchy, operatic vocal parts, heavier riffing or the more traditional instruments shining through, there is so much going on, and it all clicks together perfectly. Around the midpoint of the track it also takes a surprising but awesome turn into death metal with a heavy riff and some great extreme metal screams. It’s a fantastic first track and the perfect way to introduce new listeners (me) as it hits them with a bit of everything they’ve got!

Check out more symphonic metal here!

‘Tlaloc’ is another track that bursts right in, the awesome screams making the riff even heavier. The verse is more fast, epic symphonic stuff and it builds perfectly back into the heaviness. I also find it really interesting that the songs don’t seem to follow the typical structure. There are definitely choruses and verses etc, but there’s a lot of other stuff thrown in there to keep the listener guessing. it’s all almost prog, which is fine by me! An awesome guitar solo is tucked into the middle of this track, too. It’s a really interesting, fun track which again combines their elements together well!

‘ Luces y Sombras’ is a massive highlight track of the album, for me. Right from the combination of the heavy drums and epic strings, I was hooked. And, the structure seems a tad more radio friendly, a little easier to follow. The verses are great with the clean, beautiful vocals, the harmonies on them incredible. The choruses are suitably epic too, maintaining the symphonic metal feel. And we still get plenty of heaviness in the bridge/breakdown verse. It’s definitely another single waiting to happen, I’m sure. It’s an awesome track, and easily makes our playlist!

‘Malintzin’ is another highlight track of the album as I love the interplay between the two vocals and two styles. The verse switching from the beautiful operatic vocals to the heavy screams was masterful, especially when it then transitioned seamlessly back for the chorus. The bridge is fun too, the strings adding an awesome layer of doom and epicness over the top of the heavy guitars. It’s another awesome song and the second in a row to get onto our Spotify!

Single ‘Mictlán’ and ‘Yolot’ are more of the same. The latter at least felt a little different as it was a slower, beautiful opening, and the drop-down in the middle to the more tribal sound was cool. However, generally there isn’t much new in the tracks.

‘Xóchitl’ is the ballad of the album. A simple acoustic guitar opens the track, and the soft, clean vocals fit so well over the top of it. It stays at this level throughout it’s 2:40 runtime too, and is honestly fantastic. It’s beautiful and breaks up an otherwise heavy album rather perfectly. One of my favourite ballads of the year!

Finally, we reach the most recent single, ‘La Cigarra’. It’s one hell of a fun track that brings back the Mexican Tradition sound in spades. The metal is still there, feeling more of an accompaniment, which I love. It reminds me of a more serious version of Nanowar of Steel’s ‘Chupacabra Cadabra’, having a similar style to inject metal into. It works perfectly with her vocals, too. It’s an amazing song and a really interesting addition to the album, given how heavy a lot of the rest of it is. It’s another that easily makes our playlist!

Overall: This was a great, interesting listen. It was all over the place in terms of style and sound, sometimes for the better, occasionally for the worse. Some of it did feel a tad messy, I must admit. While not every single track here is one of my favourites, there is a lot I love here, and as an album as a whole it’s solid. The band seem like they are pretty new and I cannot wait to see where they go in the future. Building on this would be awesome!

The Score: 7.5/10

So Many Years: The Debut EP of Violet Origin!

UK modern hard rockers Violet Origin are set to release their debut EP on Thursday. Being compared to the likes of Black Stone Cherry, Alter Bridge and Bruce Springsteen, I was already excited. And the band themselves have said ‘It’s like classic rock and a carnival ride had a musical lovechild’. I’m not familiar at all with this band, so am excited to check it out!

‘Doubt’ opens the EP on a punky feel with the drums and a steady, uplifting riff. The vocals fit the mood perfectly for the verses, it all having very Neck Deep/Mayday Parade vibes. It all builds perfectly to a hugely catchy chorus too. The harmonies on the vocals are fantastic and add an almost skate-punk edge to it, reminding me more of Social Distortion. A simple guitar lead part acts as a bridge between the second and third choruses, too. It’s a real basic radio formula and structure, but honestly is done to perfection here. This is a fantastic introduction to the band and easily makes our playlist!

Check out more punk here.

‘On the Line’ starts at an equally steady pace from the drums, a bluesy, sleazy riff coming in over the top. The track overall has a lot more of am old-school hard rock feel to it, the verses being bass driven with some awesome stabs from the guitars. And of course, the vocals over the top work perfectly. It’s almost an AC/DC kinda vibe. Still, it builds to another huge, arena-filling chorus, the backing vocals and added instrumentation being awesome. We get an awesome solo in the middle of the track, too, the guitarist showing off his impressive talent. It was technical yet fit the track perfectly. And a final great chorus takes us home. It’s another fantastic track!

The final track on the EP, and it’s title one, again has a fantastic riff running through it. This one immediately gives the song a bit more of an indie feel, though. The pace is a bit higher than the others, having plenty of punk energy, too. And for some reason the vocals reminded me a bit of Ozzy on this track. The chorus is a bit more chilled out, this having much more of a stomping, swaggering rock track vibe than an anthem. The solo was again great, too. A third awesome track!

Overall: This EP was great and over far too quick. I desperately need to hear more from this band, and already cannot wait for their next release. I’d also LOVE to see them live, I feel like all three tracks would go down so well in a packed little room. All three songs are awesome and I’ll definitely be listening to them again a lot. My only slight issue was the mixing/mastering. It let the tracks down ever so slightly, but not enough for them to be unenjoyable. I cannot wait to see where these guys go next, they have a bright future ahead of them!

The Score: 8/10