It’s here. It’s finally out. Electric Callboy (formerly Eskimo Callboy) have finally released their first album since new vocalist Nico Sallach. After MONTHS of teasing with the odd fantastic single, they have released a ten-track album. I’ve been excited for this for months so let’s get right into it!
One of the best tracks written over the last year period, ‘Pump It’ opens the album. Now, I’ve been obsessed with this track since it was released at the back end of last year so have heard it a BUNCH. Heck, it’s on our Track of the Week playlist. The band’s gym song is the perfect blend of 80s pop music and metalcore, as crazy as that feels to type.
Opening on Nico’s infectiously catchy, clean vocals for the first run of the chorus, it’s hard not to be hooked in from the opening seconds. The video perfectly encapsulates the feel, too. It’s not long before the metalcore comes in though, the ch0nky riffs and Kevin’s fantastic screams changing the pace and tone completely. It’s amazing though, and somehow fits perfectly while being completely different. The pre is incredible, with the spacing between the huge riffs and low screams and slow drums sounding amazing. Also, the big riffs continue through the chorus, making it all sound massive. After the second chorus we get a HUGE breakdown, heavy and dirty and full of screams. Then it ends. Less than three minutes of perfection. This has been on the playlist for months already and for very good reason.
Next up is the bands biggest hit and party anthem, ‘We’ve got the Moves’. Opening on some club tekkno so infectious it’s hard not to bob your head or tap your foot, the spoken word vocals coming in over the top enhance that even more. The second half of the verse gets dirty, with Kevin’s screams coming over the top of another heavy riff. It builds to some more amazingly catchy vocals for a chorus, high in Nico’s register but so damn enjoyable. The track channels even more club energy as it builds through a couple of bridges into a HUGELY catchy gang vocal part that would (and does) go down amazingly live. Then we of course get some breakdown and another huge chorus to close out the track. It really is the perfect metal track in 2021/22, at least in this writers opinion. Playlisted.
The band don’t exactly take themselves seriously and that definitely shows in the video. But it’s because of that that it’s all so much more enjoyable. Rock/metal is too serious these days, Electric Callboy are definitely a breath of fresh air in that regard.
‘Fuckboi’… no. Moving on.
No, in all seriousness, I’m a fan of Conquer Divide. They have some great covers and original tracks too. However, this felt more like a To the Rats and Wolves track over an Elenctric Callboy one. It’s practically a pop punk track. While all of this is okay on its own, it was a letdown from a band that usually go much harder and are, honestly, much more funny. Especially for a single, this seemed like a bad choice.
FiNCH, the guest vocalist on next track ‘Spaceman’ is singlehandedly responsible for starting to get me into German techno. I both love and hate him for that. He’s a massive highlight of this track though, and of the album as a whole if I’m honest. His comedic timing is great and he’s not afraid to make a fool of himself, much like the band aren’t. It makes for a fun dynamic, both contrasting while also being similar.
The track itself is another great one. Similarly structured to ‘Pump It’ though we get a final chorus after the breakdown, it’s more silly, catchy metal music. Also, the German rapping in the bridge is fantastic and provides the perfect build-up to the best breakdown on the album.
We’re nearly halfway through the album before we reach the first non-single. Unfortunately, it’s the other track that doesn’t quite do it for me. It’s the most metalcore track on the album and a rather serious one for a change. It’s mainly heavy and screams, but I do enjoy Nico’s clean vocal hook for the choruses too. I don’t know, it just felt like there was something missing. I’m hoping this one grows on me with a few more listens, but for now, eh.
Completely changing the pace again, ‘Arrow of Love’ is three-and-a-half-minutes of 80s pop-inspired awesomeness. The chorus is infectiously catchy from the vocals to the synth. The verses are heavy and full of some fantastic riffs and screams. And the bridge builds perfect through the clean vocals and heavy synth into an almost Link Park style breakdown. My only slight gripe is that it’s the exact same formula again as another three tracks on the album. It’s good, but may start to get a little old if it’s done a whole lot more without some variety.
‘Parasite’ is a bit of that change of pace, at least. While it is still a bit of a similar structure, it at least feels different. It has more of a Sempiternal feeling to it which is nice. Even the clean-vocalled parts were heavy, making this another straight-up metalcore track. Everything between the second and third choruses is amazing and super heavy, another highlight of the album. A good track!
‘Tekkno Train’ is brilliant. Any track that has the lyrics “You make my spaghetti ready” is bound to be. It’s another party song, complete with plenty of electronics and club-style synths. It’s clearly not a serious track at all, which is another big plus, and is massively catchy. I find it hard to say much though, given that again it’s a similar track to half the album, just with different lyrics and hooks. However, Kevin growling “choo choo choo” will never not make me laugh.
Finally, we reach possibly the best track on the album. The band knew what their audience would be expecting, and hit them with something completely different. It’s German Schlager for a minute and a half, I promise. Check it out if you don’t believe me…
I have no more words except… AWESOME.
Closing track ‘Neon’ feels like a bit of a comedown after the previous nine tracks. It’s similar to ‘Parasite’ in its feel and sound, but the chorus is huge and arguably better. This somehow feels like it blends together a bit of everything else on the album, but never quite kicks into that top gear I hoped it would. However, that chorus is incredible, and may be Nico’s best vocal performance I’ve heard. A big, if not monumental, way to close a great album!
Overal: Of course this was amazing. The hype behind it has been insane thanks to their great live shows and fantastic music videos, and I do think the album delivers big. It’s packed full of amazing songs and even the ones that aren’t as good as the rest are great tracks. However, it isn’t quite perfect for me. I cannot help but compare them to the other crazy, newly-huge metal band that got big off their videos, Ice Nine Kills. I would say INK’s latest album as a whole was stronger, while Callboy put out the stronger singles. But still, this is a damn impressive release that will be high up there for album of the year for me.
Thin Lizzy/Black Star Riders/Dead Daisies alumni Marco Mendoza has been a busy man throughout his career, as you can tell. But aside for the number of incredible bands and artists he’s worked with, he’s also had a fantastic solo career. New Direction is to be his fourth solo album, released on the 16th of this month. We managed to get our hands on it a little early to see what we think. I can’t wait for this one!
The original album title and lead single, ‘Take it to the Limit’, is up first. An air raid siren sets up a great sleezy riff, harkening back to the 80s immediately with its sound. The riff opens out a little in the verse, the instrumentation taking a more blusey approach. Marco’s voice sounds better than ever, too, a real testament to his commitment to music. The chorus is of course catchy and massive, the backing vocals and big instrumentation filling it all out perfectly. We get another great blues riff for the bridge, the vocals behind reminding me so much of ‘Love in an Elevator’. And of course, we get a fantastic, technical guitar solo. It wouldn’t be hard rock without one! What a track to open with. I loved it and it’s already been on our playlistfor a while now.
‘Just Can’t Get Over You’ opens on another blues-inspired riff, giving off LA Guns vibes. It drops down a bit for the verse, being muted and bouncy and a lot of fun with the vocals over the top. The track builds perfectly through an uplifting pre into another huge, catchy chorus. It’s a little more basically layered than the previous track but the vocals are so great it still sticks in your head. We get another fantastic guitar solo too, one that fits the vibe of the song to a T. The final chorus, complete with more lead guitar behind to make it even more epic, ends things on a bang.
‘Light it Up’ opens on steady drums and bass, Marco’s vocals coming in over the top and sounding fantastic. It again builds up as the guitars come in quietly before it all explodes for the choruses. It’s giving off Def Leppard vibes to me, which certainly isn’t a bad thing. The guitars are maybe even catchier than the vocals this time around, too. The guitar solo is off the charts in this track, easily being the highlight one of the album. Also, it dropping back down to just drum and bass for another verse after and building up massively for the final chorus was great. Another playlisted track!
Next, it’s time for a slower one. A slower, cleaner riff plays behind Marco Mendoza ‘s softer vocals. I can hear a lot of The Police, but again it sounds like it inspired it over a cheap copy that some bands do these days. The chorus is absolutely phenomenal, too. It’s one of the biggest stadium-filling choruses I’ve heard this year, and it truly does deserve to be played in front of that many people. Everything about this track is fantastic and I implore you to stop reading this right now and go check it out. You won’t be disappointed!
The next single, ‘Shoot For the Stars’, picks back up the pace a little. The simple riff and vocal combo always works great and here is no exception. It’s still not as quick as the previous tracks but it’s a good soft rock track, nearly a ballad in its own right. It is filled with catchy vocal parts and harmonies, as well as some great lead guitar work. It’s one hell of a choice for a single, everything about it is great!
‘All that I’m Living For’ has a fantastic riff running through it. It’s heavy but definitely an ear-worm too. The low vocals sound great over the top. We even get a key change hidden in the middle which sounded awesome. It leads to yet another huge, great chorus. I can hear in this track where Marco’s influence on Dead Daisies went, this is very much like the last album of theirs he was on. It’s another good track, with Marco channelling his inner Stephen Tyler in the bridge again being a particular highlight.
‘Free Ride’ was a fun 80s throwback track. From the spoken word at the start to the hard rock/sleezy riff, this screamed MTV. Having said, I also thought it could be ripped straight out of Reckless Love’s discography. Both are similar sounds though, and all sound great. In all fairness, so do the following couple of tracks, ‘Can’t Explain It’ and ‘Scream and Shout’. Both are more hard rock than sleaze, but are great, fun tracks too.
Then we reach the final track and the albums title song. Opening on the infectiously catchy chorus vocals and some huge chords, it’s definitely memorable. The track itself stays pretty steady-paced, again coming across as a bit of a hard rock ballad. Given the poignant subject matter of the song, it lends itself well to the sound. Looking for a new direction after the last couple of years definitely resonates with a lot of people, including myself. The chorus is MASSIVE and another stadium-filling highlight of the album. It’s an epic, fantastic way to close an amazing album.
Overall: As I said just, this is amazing. It’s the best solo album Marco Mendoza has done, in this humble writers opinion. There isn’t a bad track on the album and each one has a unique sound, energy and feel. I enjoyed listening to it from start to finish and it kept me interested, something few newer albums seem to do these days. I can’t wait to hear it live and I’mma be listening to this a lot over the next few weeks!
The Score: 8.5/10
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Strap yourselves in, ladies and gents, because we have a long one ahead of us. 18, yes 18 albums to check out. And I apologise in advance because half of this more than likely isn’t going to be for you. For all of our fans we have built up over the years there is a fair amount of heavy in here. But for all of the country fans we have started to gain recently, there is a fair bit of that too. Sorry if we scare anyone off with the stark contrasts. But check it out anyway, who knows, you might find your new favourite band! Let’s get into some new music!
Oh, and our newest writer, Max, jumped on to give me a hand again with some of these, so of course give him a hand!
Ozzy Osbourne: Patient Number 9
Ozzy should have called it a day a decade ago. He was struggling a little on Sabbath’s farewell tour but they still went out with a bang. Since then, his health has deteriorated and, let’s be honest, he can’t tour any more.
Having said that, this was better than it had any right to be. I wasn’t into Ordinary Man at all but this makes up for it. I’ve been a big advocate of ‘Patient Number 9’ since its release, it’s one of the best choruses Ozzy’s ever done. The same could be said for ‘One of Those Days’. And, of course, he has a guest guitarist on each track, and he’s selected some of the very best of all time. Between Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Zakk Wylde and Toni Iommi, there is some incredible soloing here.
My only slight negative would be that it’s all a little slow. However, for a 73 year old man, I didn’t really expect him to have the same energy in his tracks as he did 50 years ago. If Ozzy is going to stick to just studio music from now on, this is how to do it! 7.5/10
Parkway Drive: Darker Still
I really wanted to like this. And the weird thing is that sometimes I found myself enjoying it, but then other times it fell beneath expectation. Heck, sometimes both in the same track.
The Australian band continue to let more and more European power metal to seep into their American metalcore, to mixed results. And this isn’t even coming from a jaded old Parkway fan. I didn’t really get into them until IRE. But I LOVED that and Reverence so was excited for this album. I don’t think it lives up to my hype, but that’s not saying it’s bad. It’s certainly odd though.
I’m one of the seemingly few who loved ‘Glitch’ when it was released and I still do now. ‘The Greatest Fear’ is okay too, though it doesn’t go quite hard enough. ‘Darker Still’ however, can get in the bin. The only genuine highlight I’ve found that I’ve listened to multiple times since is ‘Soul Bleach’. Having said that though, the more I listen to that track, the more I love it. It’s heavy and the sound I wish they’d gone for for the whole record. ‘If a God can Bleed’ is weird enough to work and ‘Imperial Heretic’ is okay, but both are pretty average really. The couple of closing tracks are good, too.
As I say, nothing on here is bad at all. Maybe (hopefully) it’ll grow on me with another few listens, but right now I feel like it’s around a 7/10. Not as ground-breaking as I was hoping for.
Flogging Molly: Anthem
The not-so-Irish Irish folk punk band are back with their seventh studio album. That makes me feel old. The whole early 2000s skate-punk scene was a big part of my childhood, and hearing new music from them just makes me smile. How can anyone not like this music? It’s got the very best parts of folk, punk and rock.
There isn’t a bad track on the album. From the raucous opening track to the slower, full-on old folk songs to the fantastic ‘This Road of Mine’, it’s all great! Whether you’re into folk, punk, rock, americana or probably a bunch of other genres too, you’ll find something to enjoy here. This may be their best album since Float, and that’s saying something! 8/10
Highly Suspect: The Midnight Demon Club
I loved the first couple of Highly Suspect albums. Tracks like ‘Lydia’, ‘Bloodfeather’ and ‘My Name is Human’ all felt like they were harkening in the next big, heavy indie band. However, their last album seemed to soil that, at least over here. I wasn’t a big fan and I’ve not really seen them on any line-ups or heard them on the radio much over the last five years.
This album is at least a step in the right direction. None of it is quite as impactful as any of the previous tracks I named, but they’re at least solid, moody radio rock songs. That is, aside for the heavy AF single ‘Pink Lullabye’. It was like listening to a Zeal & Ardor track and I loved it. The rest of it was pretty similar, steady-paced, okayness (with lyrics of questionable quality), but damn is ‘Lullabye’ a tune. 6/10
ONE OK ROCK: Luxury Disease
The Japanese alt rock band returned last week with their tenth studio album. Going into it completely blind, having never heard the band before, I enjoyed it! It’s pretty basic pop rock, but there is nothing offensive or inherently bad about it. It was cool to hear the combination of English and Japanese vocals too, highlighting their own sound and culture as well as the sounds that inspired them. It reminds me of a combination of Panic! and Set it Off, but then with an even poppier ting to it.
‘Neon’ is probably my favourite track on the album, but again there aren’t really bad tracks here. The emotional ‘When They Turn the Lights On’ channelled heavy British vibes, whether it was Muse or Busted or Queen. Also, Teddy Swims sounds great in his guest vocals for ‘Free Them’. There’s a lot of good here if you’re into the lighter stuff. 7/10
Blackment: Plains of Oblivion
We’ve already done a full review of this album. Check it out, along with the fantastic score, here.
Built to Spill: When the Wind Forgets Your Name
Max: The American indie rock band, Built To Spill, is back with another great album. WTWFYN is the 10th album by the band, and it is a perfect addition. If you enjoy slower music its perfect for you as it, as always, focuses around Doug Martsch’s vocals and guitar. I found it difficult to sum up exactly what made this album so good but the simplicity of some for the riffs and the fun but relaxed vocals feel very relaxing. I sat up the other night listening to it and letting all of the instruments just wash over me and tell me everything that they have hidden beneath. It is a beautiful and yet thoughtful listen that can definitely click with everyone so long as it lets you. My rating might be slightly biased as I’ve been looking for an album that makes me feel the same way I did when I first listened to Motion City Soundtracks acoustics song, but it is an almost perfect 9/10 and I hope everyone reading this takes a listen.
Bloodbath: “Survival of the Sickest”
Max: Time for a sharp change of pace. The death metal supergroup is back with another very, very intense album. For those who are unfamiliar this group and has had a wild line up but currently consist of Martin Axenrot (Opeth), Nick Holmes (Paradise Lost), Jonas Renkse (Katatonia) and Anders Nystrom (Katatonia). so, with such a wild line up it is unsurprising that this album is brilliant for most and even better for those who follow black metal. The album is intense and is not always the friendliest of listens but it is a great one and i must say it isn’t a bad or hard place to start for those who don’t listen to black metal. So, if this becomes your entrance album, I do not blame you as it has got me back in to Katatonia and Paradise Lost. As I’ve mentioned this is a fun and intense album that does not disappoint and is great for those who need a heavy dose of music in their system. A very respectable 8/10
Laurence Jones: Destination Unknown
This is an old blues rock fans dream. Between the awesome riffs, powerful vocals and heavy focus on synth, this felt like it was ripped straight from the 70s. The guitar is of course a huge highlight of the album, but that shouldn’t take away from his great vocals and the awesome work of the band behind him. This sound has been coming back more and more in recent times, be it with Rival Sons or in the NWOCR scene, and tracks like ‘Anywhere With Me’, ‘Give Me that Feeling’ and ‘In Too Deep’ look to catapult Laurence pretty high up in that scene. If you’re into the likes of Rainbow, Foghat, Rival Sons or even ZZ Top, check this out, you won’t be disappointed! 7.5/10
BRELAND: Cross Country
Cross Country is the debut studio album of platinum single-selling artist BRELAND. He became big off of said single, ‘My Truck’, in 2020 after it hitting big on social media. This album features guest slots from the likes of Keith Urban, Ingred Andress and Thomas Rhett.
If all of that sounds insane for a 27-year-old musician… well I fucking agree.
The music itself combines R&B, rap and soul to the country sound. It’s basically what everyone wanted Lil Nas X to continue to sound like after ‘Old Town Road’. Now, I completely understand that this isn’t going to be every readers cup of tea. I get that I am in the small part of the Ven diagram that like both this and Bloodbath further up. However, I loved this. Tracks like ‘Praise the Lord’, ‘Natural’, ‘Don’t Look at Me’ and ‘For What it’s Worth’ are all fantastic tracks.
However, it’s not perfect. The album is pretty bloated at 14 tracks and there is a noticeable dip in energy (and arguably quality too) around the middle which it doesn’t really recover from. It verges more into his soul stuff which I’m sure a lot of his fans love, but it’s not as much for me. 6.5/10
Stray From the Path: Euthanasia
This was like Fever 333 on acid, and I loved every second of it. The bounce and swagger of the opening track had me hooked immediately, especially with the fantastic lyrics harshly rapped over the top.
The same energy continued throughout the album, too. It’s dark, heavy and dripping with attitude and anger. Tracks like ‘III’, ‘Bread and Roses’ and ‘The Salt in Your Spit’ are highlights of an album honestly filled with them. In an age where Rage Against the Machine feel corporate, having a younger, angrier, heavier band pick up the flag they dropped feels like a very good thing.
I feel bad for myself that this band have been going for a while now but this is the first I’ve really heard of them. I feel like the rest of my week is going to be checking out their older stuff, because that was fucking fantastic. 9/10
I AM: Eternal Steel
This band are very hard to find online. I don’t think they are the Fre3nch hip hop artist IAM, nor are they ZP (Dragonforce)’s side band I Am I. Therefore, all I can tell you is what I hear.
What I hear is heavy but damn good. ‘The Primal Wave’ opens things on a brutal, fantastic note, and it’s only up and up from there. Tracks like the title song and ‘Queen Incarnate’ are great and make me want to check out more of what the band I have to offer. Hopefully I can find more about them than just their discography and can see if they venture over here for live shows at all. This whole album would be fantastic live. Check it out if you’re into the heavy, almost medieval death metal stuff, you won’t regret it! 7.5/10
Kane Brown: Different Man
Kane Brown is going to become to Georgia what RHCP are to California if he keeps up like this. In all seriousness though, the man who did what BRELAND has just done but a few years earlier is back with his third studio album. After the HUGE sucess of the last one, I’m curious to see if he can keep his momentum going.
Right out of the gate ‘Bury Me in Georgia’ is a fantastic southern rock track. Next up is a dark, brooding roots track with Blake Shelton. But damn, it’s still good. ‘Like I Love Country Music’ channels the best kind of bro-country and adds some rock and fiddle to it. It’s a fantastic run of three tracks to open. It unfortunately again drops in energy a little again after that until ‘the excellent ‘Riot’. At least this one manages to claw back the fun and tempo, unlike BRELAND. The couple of tracks after it, ‘One Mississippi’ and ‘Drunk or Dreamin” are also great. ‘Pop’s Last Name’ is a beautiful, emotional ballad. ‘Devil Don’t Even Bother’ is True Blood style awesomeness.
However, my issue is the same as BRELAND (sorry to keep bringing him up). 17 tracks is simply too long. Is it an issue throughout country as a whole at the minute? Do none of them have producers? I can give four or five tracks that, while not bad by any stretch, I’d have cut to make this an easier, more concise listen. There are maybe 11 tracks on this that are phenomenal, and the rest seem too much as a result. 8.5/10, but it would have gotten a 9 if it was a little shorter.
Eat Your Heart Out: Can’t Stay Forever
Some more pop rock now, this time from Geordie Australia. I have to admit it was pretty enjoyable. I know it’s cliche at this point to compare any pop rock/pop punk with a female vocalist to Paramore, but screw you guys, I’mma do it anyway. They’re like a slightly heavier Paramore. They definitely feel like they are bridging the gap between rock and the weird ‘rock’ that is in pop these days. If you like this sort of music, check out tracks like ‘Down’, ‘Heavenly’ and ‘Sour’. 6.5/10
Until I Wake: Inside My Head
The creepy ‘The Sacrifice’ heading into the harsh vocals and huge riffing of ‘Forsaken’ may be one of my favourite album openings of recent times. For a debut album, too, that is one hell of an achievement. Heck, I would even good as far as to argue that ‘Forsaken’ is one of the best metalcore tracks released in the last nearly decade. That shit goes hard.
It is because of that track that I was surprised and a tad disappointed with the rest of the album. It’s still good, don’t get me wrong, but it feels like a different album to the opener entirely. It’s closer to Sempiternal/That’s the Spirit era Bring Me or even Linkin Park than the Norma Jean style metalcore I was expecting. We finally get some heavy stuff again towards the back end of the album like ‘Still Sinking’ and ‘Blue Beam’. Both are great tracks and I just wish more of the album had this sort of energy. Sprinkling a few in around radio-metal tracks is an odd choice and would definitely scare a casual listener checking them out after hearing their lighter stuff.
But still, the rest of the tracks are still good, just not what I was expecting after the opening. The band do both sides of metalcore very well so if you like the genre you’ll find something to enjoy! 7.5/10
Warforged: The Grove / Sundial
Aside for having some of the best album artwork I’ve ever seen, I actually found this the hardest album for me to review this week. While some of the music and riff are great, it’s the very definition of chaos. The vocals don’t help matters either, being very heavy death metal growls. It’s the least accessible album on this list, and that’s actually saying something this week, but I’m sure the band don’t care. There’s a couple of cool moments, like in ‘Hymn of Broken Teeth’, where multiple screams join together and sound awesome. I’d definitely recommend checking that track out out of any of them, it’s probably the best representation of them as a band. But it was even a little to heavy and chaotic for me. If you enjoy this then awesome, I’m sure its fucking fantastic if you like the genre. But it wasn’t for me, so gets a 4/10
Derek Hoke: Electric Mountain
While some of this was a tad too slow for me, tracks like ‘Let Go of my Heart’, ‘Hush Your Mouth’ and ‘Novocaine’ being particular standouts. It takes a very traditional approach to country music which I can definitely appreciate and would probably love a lot more after seeing it live. I don’t really have many more thoughts about this one, it’s a good, atmospheric album that I feel would make a fantastic soundtrack to a moody movie/tv series. It may take me another couple of listens to fully ‘get’ though. 6.5/10
And there we have it guys. We did it! What a crazy weekend, but there are some insanely good albums here. If you enjoyed the article, check out more from our Instagramhere.
Blackment, in case you couldn’t guess by the title, are a melodic heavy metal band from Finland. I hadn’t heard of the band before but we got sent the album a week or two ago for review. It comes out today so we thought we’d let you know what we thought!
‘Apparatus’ opens heavy with a great synth behind it, giving the death metal an 80s edge. It then opens up into a fantastic thrash riff, already a highlight. It stays thrashy as the harsh vocals come in for the verse, before it suddenly changes pace into some proggy, jazzy rock. The chorus after is really catchy too thanks to some cleaner power metal vocals ringing through. This really has a bit of everything so far. A ripping, technical guitar solo or three follows the second chorus. It makes me in no way jealous of their talent at all… However surprisingly, the song fades out after this. One the one hand, it’s always fun to not know what’s coming. On the other hand, I feel like another big chorus could have really helped cement this track as a top tier opener.
‘Remnants Astray’ opens on a prog as fuck riff and I’m all for it. The synths are behind it to give it such a huge sound, too. The power metal is back the powerful clean vocals come in over the top of a great, epic riff. It stays heavy and interesting though, two things that I find are my two downfalls when it comes to power metal so this is excellent. The kinda harsh vocals return for the bridge after the second chorus, but they are still rather clean, like a Matt Heafy kind of sound. There’s more absolutely incredible guitar soloing afterwards, so good it would probably make Steve Vai jealous. We then get a final epic chorus to close up. This was utterly fantastic, I loved it. It very easily made our playlist.
‘Clouds’ is a slightly slower but in no way less epic riff. The clean vocals sound even bigger and more powerful here given that the riff is bigger and it’s all backed by some great strings and even some operatic backing. Also, the backing vocals for the chorus make it even catchy and again we get the kind of half-scream on the back of it. It’s still a harsh vocal but most not familiar with scream would probably still be able to understand what is being said. The best of both worlds, so to speak. It feels almost redundant at this point to say there was a good guitar solo in the track, but you’ll never guess what… there was! Another song that I cannot praise enough, this was phenomenal. Playlisted!
If I didn’t feel like a vastly inferior musician before, ‘Composure’ definitely made it clear. This is awesome riff after awesome riff and I love it. The Trivium-style vocals are back in full force for this track too, which is another huge positive for me. It honestly feels like ‘Ascendency’, which for anyone who knows that album is very high praise. Again there is nothing but praise I can give for this track. The third in a row to make the playlist. This album better chill out or I’mma get in trouble for it all making it to our Spotify!
The most recent single, ‘Northern Lights’, starts folky as hell. To carry on the feeling, a modern day Maiden riff comes in over the top of it all, sounding great. This whole track in fact is like a heavier Iron Maiden song, it’s great! The same could be said for the following track, ‘Grasp of Hel’, too. Both are great songs that somehow sound like power metal, NOWBH while also sounding modern and following the bands sound. You definitely know it’s Blackment when hearing the tracks.
The title track brings the heaviness and progginess back with a huge but fantastically technical couple of riffs. Even when the guitars are doing stuff like this, the band add synths and strings and stuff to really pack out the sound. It makes it all sound huge. The pre and chorus are massively catchy too even as the vocal melody jumps all over the place. It’s so interesting and I couldn’t stop listening to it, skipping it back a couple of times at least. Some more awesome guitar soloing and even a jazzy as fuck bassline round out this AWESOME track. Playlisted, it’s amazing.
‘Desolation Fields’ brings back the blackened death metal for a slow intro that builds into a hugely heavy track. The heaviness continues through the final two tracks too, single ‘Maw of the Dread’ and album closer ‘The Ruins’. However, the band also blend it masterfully with their epic power metal side. All three tracks are fantastic and the latter is a great closer. In a time where most bands seem to follow the weird trend of putting the lightest track last, I’m glad this was still pretty heavy. Three great tracks that I’d just gush over the same points for if I didn’t clump them together. Great stuff!
Overall: this was MUCH better than I was expecting. Granted, I went into it with zero expectations, but they blew the roof off my mind. Everyone involved with this is a master of their craft, be it guitars, vocals, songwriting, even production, it’s all top notch. I’ve already listened to this a few times and I don’t think I’ll be stopping any time soon!
The Score: 9/10
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So, I was a thrash-head as a kid. Growing up I idolised the Big 4, Testament, Evile etc, alongside other 80s bands too. Though I have dropped off as my horizons have expanded getting older, Megadeth will always have a place in my heart. My dad introduced me to them, I’ve seen them multiple times and have a bunch of their albums.
So, it comes from a place of love when I say… this wasn’t great. It’s not bad by any stretch, but this is fuckin’ Megadeth we’re talking, it shouldn’t be as average as this. Mustaine didn’t sound like he was struggling, given his struggles the last few years. He just sounded tired. The whole band do, in fact. When the most standout point of the album is that Ice T is underused, you know that it’s not great. And ‘Night Stalker’ is still the best track on the album despite that!
But as I said, none of it is bad. The rhythm work is fine. The lead work is fine. The lyrics are fine. It’s all fine. But I guess after Dystopia I came in expecting a little more. It’s not as bad as Super Collider or Risk, but does sit comfortably around the Thirteen/Criptic Writings mark. 5.5/10
I didn’t think this was going to be for me. Surprise, it wasn’t. It’s like he’s tried to do a more pop punk Billy Idol, and it doesn’t really work. In terms of a continuation of this strange pop-rock trend going around it’s passable, I guess. But it’s exactly that, pop. No matter how much he wears eyeliner and acts ‘punk’, it’s no different to Olivia Rodrigo. Also, no matter how much I hear it, WILLOW’s voice is like nails on a chalkboard to me, so ‘Memories’ was like torture.
And look, I’m not saying that slightly rockier music being in the mainstream is a bad thing. Anything that will open more people’s eyes to the rock world and encourage them to support bands or even pick up an instrument themselves is a good thing. But that doesn’t mean that gateway music is any good, still. I’m sure the generation before me thought the exact same about me listening to Busted as a kid, but it definitely helped push me in the right direction. But then again, while Busted’s lyrics were cheesy, at least they weren’t all about being depressed and suicidal and doing drugs. Great message to give to the kids!
Yeah, no thanks. This is up there with MGK as one of the worst ‘rock’ albums of the year. If I never have to listen to it again it’ll be too soon. 2.5/10
Blind Guardian: The God Machine
This might as well be called ‘Painkiller Pt. 2’, and that’s in no way a bad thing. It’s like Iron Maiden, WASP and Judas Priest had a lovechild and that child got really into vikings and medieval times. It’s epic power metal and I love it.
Aside from the ch0nky riffs, the main highlight for me is the vocal harmonies. They’re almost Muse/Queen levels of good. It makes each song so catchy and fun to listen to. But yes, each member of the band does amazingly, the instrumentation is off the charts.
‘Secrets of the American Gods’ is a massive highlight of the album, as is ‘Blood of the Elves’. An album full of really great power metal, I can’t complain about any of it! 7.5/10
The Hu: Rumble of Thunder
The Mongolian folk metal band are back with their second album. Now, when these first came out with their original couple of singles, I LOVED them. However, I felt myself falling off them a little when the hype got huge and their debut album came out. That makes me feel like a huge hipster, but I cannot help the truth!
However, I really enjoyed this, it was really good! From the Metalica inspired opening track to the slower, almost upbeat indie stylings of ‘Triangle’, it’s got a bit of everything! It’s a good album in its entirety though, I enjoyed every track and it all went by in a flash. However, as good as it all was, the band did a good job at choosing the singles, as ‘Black Thunder’ and ‘This is Mongol’ are definitely the highlights. It’s nice to hear the band have some range, but they are at their best when doing their own take on epic metal.
The Butterfly Effect: IV
Having never even heard the band name before, I was really pleasantly surprised by this! It was like Dream Theater without the length, which is arguably their downfall to my ears at times. This was dark and heavy without technically being classed as metal, I’d say. It straddled the line perfectly and had some great tracks like ‘Dark Light’ and ‘Unbroken’. I’m definitely going to have to check out more of these guys moving forward! 7/10
Jon Pardi: Mr. Saturday Night
One of the biggest names in country is back with his fourth studio album. Now, none of the tracks are quite as big as the HUGE ‘Dirt on my Boots’ or even ‘Heartache Medication’. However, every track on this is solid. There isn’t even a hint if a dud track. ‘Mr Saturday Night’ is a fantastic, emotional opener and a definite highlight. Tracks like ‘New Place to Drink’ and ‘Longneck Way to Go’ are also huge highlights, but there are plenty to pick from. If you’re into country again all this is worth checking out, you definitely won’t regret it! 8/10
Oceans Ate Alaska: Disparity
The metalcore Brits returned this last week with their third studio album. I heard the name a lot in my youth as my friends were big into the band. I didn’t pay them too much attention though, unfortunately. That all changes today!
Right from the heavy opening of fan-favourite ‘Paradigm’ I was hooked, and hooked until the end. It’s definitely on the heavier side of metalcore so isn’t going to be for everyone, but it’s like 30 minutes of continuous breakdowns and I love it. Of course lead single ‘Metamorph’ is another huge highlight, as is ‘Plague Speach’. But the whole album is worth a listen if you’re into modern UK metalcore, this is great stuff. 8.5/10
King’s X: Three Sides of One
The Christian hard/blues rock band just put out their 13th studio album, and first since 208. I’ve heard the name at least this time, but had no idea they’d been going since 1979. Another insane fact I found out in my research is that it’s the same three band members, they haven’t had a lineup change in their entire 40+ year career. That’s damn impressive.
The album itself is pretty good! Opening track ‘Let it Rain’ is a fantastic way to kick off the album and gives a great insight into what the band sound like throughout. It’s dark, fun and catchy. Tracks like ‘Give it Up’ and ‘Swipe Up’ are also great. However, there is a surprising number of slower tracks on this album. It’s not really a bad thing, but does throw the pacing of the album off almost immediately. Front-loading the album with the slower tracks is an odd choice, but ultimately doesn’t make the album that much worse! 7/10
ENSANGUINATE: Eldritch Anatomy
Surprisingly opening into a fat riff to open up the album, this was much more thrash/death than I was expecting. I don’t know why I was expecting black metal. The speed and catchy gang vocals of ‘Haunted’ won me round to this album immediately and I ended up really enjoying it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly not or everyone. But this is a fun, great old-school death metal album. I’d even say it gives the classics a run for their money, if I’m being honest! Great stuff that I’ll definitely be listening to again and again. 8/10
Defacing God: The Resurrection of Lilith
This one is much more black metal, being more epic in feel and having much more blast beats. It’s more extreme or melodeath in its presentation, though. It reminded me a little bit of Cradle of Filth actually in the harsh vocals and the grand scale. Maybe because of this I didn’t hate this at all. I’m still a little fussy when it comes to the super heavy side of things, but when it feels epiclike this it definitely wins me over. Everything about ‘The Resurrection’ is fantastic, from the emotion and harsh vocals to the onslaught of fantastic riffs. Again though most of this is great, there really isn’t anything not worth listening to if you like this style of music. 7.5/10
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Boy, am I excited for this one. Now that reactions are becoming more of a part of Overtone, I ended up reacting to the most recent single Lacrimas Profundere put out on our YouTube channel. People ended up liking it and asked me to react to the previous singles from the album, which came out last week. I have just finished doing so and I gotta tell you, they’re amazing. So this review is going to be pretty positive, just to warn you. And while I take the time to edit down that video, check out what I thought of the other tracks on the album!
The album opens on one of said singles, ‘Wall of Gloom’. However, since I’m not very clear in my reactions, babbling on like a nervous schoolchild, I’ll quickly reiterate here. This is a great track. The plodding pace sets the dark mood for the entire album perfectly. And, of course, it gives vocalist Julian Larre plenty of chance to show off his impressive range. However, this isn’t my favourite single from the album, and it feels like an odd choice to open the album with. It’s a great track but I don’t think it quite hits that high gear that the following track does. However, when listening through as a full album, it almost feels like an extended intro track for the following track…
‘A Cloak Woven of Stars’ is one of my favourite tracks of the year. Period. I gushed over this track a bunch in the reaction, but I feel like I must do it here too. It somehow blends a commercial, radio-friendly sound in with their already dark, heavy one, and it works seamlessly. It combines together so many different sounds seemingly effortlessly, and the result is phenomenal. From the low, clean verses to the harmonised, harsher but massively catchy choruses to even a breakdown riff, this song is incredible. It blew my mind when I listened to it for the first time and made me an even bigger fan of the band. Playlisted!
Next we reach the first one I haven’t heard yet and the first ballad track of the album, ‘Nebula’. The clean guitars sound great, as does Julian as he sings low over the top. It again builds to a huge, harsher chorus, but it feels epic and very earnt. Also, the harmonies between the high clean and lower screams that have been present on the last two tracks are incredible and maybe my favourite part of the album. It’s another great track that once again shows off the band’s staggeringly impressive range.
As if reading that last sentence, ‘In a Lengthening Shadow’ opens on an almost uplifting folk/punk guitar riff. The track stays pretty high-energy throughout, almost giving off power metal vibes than anything else. Gothic power metal is something I definitely need more of! It’s a straight-forward, under 4-minute rock track and I loved it. Another that makes theplaylist.
Another single, ‘The Curtain of White Silence’, is up next. I LOVE Julian’s desperate, emotion-filled harsh vocals in the verses. It honestly gives me goosebumps listening back. It reminds me a little of In This Moments’ ‘Whore’, it channels a similar energy. Also, how is it that this band build up to heavier choruses but it’s super catchy and still feels anthemic? It’s damn impressive. The quicker half of the chorus is great but when the drums slow to half-time it’s incredible. More harmonised vocals which again fit so well. A fantastic track and playlisted. I have nothing more to say other than awesome.
‘Unseen’ and ‘The Vastness of Infinity’ are both good tracks but both feel a little similar to ‘Shadows’, power metal-esque. That is in no way a bad thing, I love both tracks. It simply means that there isn’t a massive amount for me to say that I haven’t already about a previous track.
Then we reach my introduction track to the band, ‘To Disappear in You’. It’s a fantastic track and one hell of an introduction to the band and album. It has a little bit of everything the band are showing off throughout these tracks and does it so well. It’s heavy, catchy and fun to listen to while still being dark, which is a hard task. I have barely stopped listening to it since the reaction, it’s a great track.
The synth to open up ‘An Invisible Beginning’ was a nice touch, setting the tone perfectly as a massively catchy riff runs through most of the track. It gave the song a poppier edge that continued throughout. It reminded me of Ghost, or at least what Ghost should have been with their image. It’s goth as anything, also feeling a little Billy Idol at times. Also, the chorus is the catchiest on the album, and I love it. Playlisted, this was awesome.
The final track of the album opens with an evil riff. Like, I’m talking ‘Black Sabbath’ evil. Unfortunately it doesn’t last too long but the rest of the band come in over the top, with Julian doing his harsh talking again like in ‘…White Silence’. There’s another catchy chorus, this one clean while the verses and pres are the heavier, screamed parts. It’s a heavy track to close the album (which I love) and there’s some GREAT riffs in here. It’s one of the best album closers I’ve heard this year, another great track.
Overall: This was phenomenal. I feel awful that I haven’t heard of the band before now and will definitely be checking out more of their back catalogue after this. This is easily one of the best albums I’ve heard and reviewed this year, every track was top notch. Hopefully they come to the UK to tour now as I HAVE to hear some of this live!
The Score: 9/10
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Our third and final day at the festival again found us headed to the Front Porch stage early doors. We heard Tim Prottey-Jones on the YETI Tailgate Bar while we waited for James Riley to come on with his 90s Nashville set. Both artists were good and helped set the tone of the day pretty well, much like before. Whether it was the solo acoustic act or the full-on country/bluegrass band, they were both good to sit back and relax too after queuing far too long for a coffee.
Lauren Morrow grew on me a lot throughout her set. While the whole singer and acoustic guitar setup had grown a little thin on me by this point in the weekend, Lauren was such a nice, wholesome person that you couldn’t not have a good time. Whether it was the fun stories she told behind the songs or getting genuinely choked up about finally getting to return to the UK, it was a real pleasure to watch. She has clear Dolly Parton inspirations and ‘Barbara Jean’ is one of my favourite tracks of the whole weekend, honestly.
Next up were Gangstagrass. My god, hold my beer. Remember on the last day when I said that there were a few contenders to set of the weekend? Well, this is another one up there with Hudson. They are a unique blend of Bluegrass and Public Enemy style rap which honestly should work nowhere near as well as it does. This was a rock show in everything but sound. The guys owned the stage and the crowd and honestly tore the roof off the whole festival. They had such a presence about them that made it impossible to take your eyes off them, whether you are into the genres or not.
And, surprisingly, the tent was PACKED. Given the rap element, I kind of expected the band to be more niche. But nope, the crowd was the biggest I’d seen in there and they were bouncing around, singing and doing whatever the band asked them to do. And they’re all so talented, both at their instruments and the insane 5-part harmonies. And the lyrics were actually meaningful and profound, too. Man, I cannot gush about this band enough. They should and will be massive. put them on any stage at any festival and they’d go down a storm. SEE THEM.
We headed back to the main stage then for Kyle Daniel. We actually saw him twice, once with his band and once on his own acoustically later on. Both sets were great, and very different. Being rockier than most on the bill and sounding like a fun combination of Blackberry Smoke and Chris Stapleton, it was right up my street. Plus, his voice was so amazing that it translated amazingly over to acoustic. Two great sets from a guy that I definitely need to check out more. He could be massive over here, given the sucess of bands like Black Stone Cherry and The Cadillac Three.
We got to see a full set from Sunny Sweeney next. It felt a little like Stevie Nicks doing country, that’s probably the closest thing I can think of to describe it. It was a good, fun, set and another that was nice to chill out to. Much like Brandy the day before, very typical country music, but with a little more of a pop edge. She’s a good frontwoman and everyone did their parts well.
We caught the all-female bluegrass band Della Mae next and had a lot of fun. I mean, how can you not have fun seeing bluegrass live? They were pretty polished which is sometimes rare in the genre and played a good set to a loud, supportive crowd.
Then it was back to the main stage for the final run of acts. Lindsey Ell was great, but man does she have a lot of energy on stage. Like that isn’t a bad thing at all, but she was almost hyperactive between songs and could have been slightly off-putting at times. Still, she has a fantastic back catalogue of pop-rock-country songs and played a great set showing of a lot of them. Her band were great too. I couldn’t help but enjoy myself watching her and she’s another artist I’d love to catch again.
Next up were Locash, the third in the tie of best performances of the weekend. The most bro-country band to ever bro-country. It’s so easy to love them just as much as it is for some to inevitably hate them. I found myself struggling when they first came on, and it seemed like the crowd were sharing my sentiment. However, as soon as they started to interact with the crowd and their personalities came out, they quickly turned the tides. By the end of the set they had everyone swaying and jumping around.
Whether it was their big hits like ‘I Love This Life’ or ‘Beach Boys’ or covers of Backstreet Boys and Fountains of Wayne, they owned that stage and the crowd watching them. I don’t have a bad thing to say about them. Both brothers are phenomenal frontmen and the band behind them were excellent. Heck, the lead guitar was far too over-qualified. I wasn’t expecting to hear any sweep-picking at a country festival, never mind multiple solos with it! I cannot wait or these guys to announce a UK tour, I’ll be there in a heartbeat. A HUGE highlight of the weekend.
Then we reached the headliner of the night, the mighty Cadillac Three. They’re the main reason I wanted to go to the festival aside for Chris Young. I’ve seen them a handful of times already but not too recently, so I was excited to see their new stuff.
I loved it, but unfortunately there seemed to be a bit of a disconnect with some of the crowd. Don’t get me wrong, their bigger tracks like ‘White Lightening’ and ‘The South’ won people over by the end and everyone was interacting. However, they opened on a lot of their newer stuff and did a whole ‘Tabasco and Sweet Tea’ section that even bored me a little. I love COUNTRY FUZZ and hearing stuff off that was great. However, maybe at a festival where it seems that not as many people are into the heaviest band on the line-up playing a bit more of their older stuff may have helped. And while I loved the THICC guitar tone, it made them sound even heavier and clearly scared a few people off. It was a great set overall but maybe the wrong one for the crowd they had.
Then we got a real treat. Everette opened the after-party in the Insterstate, and it was amazing. They played the same sort of set but in a completely different environment than the previous set it was so interesting. The tent was pretty packed and everyone was loving it, dancing around and singing when they could. Also, my god do the band do a FANTASTIC cover of ‘Rocketman’. And bringing on Jared and the boys from TC3 on at the end was just the icing on top of the awesome cake. What a great way to close a great weekend!
And there we have it, our review of everything we saw at The Long Road 2022! We loved every minute of it, having discovered loads of new amazing bands and artists to listen to. I want to see a lot of the bands we saw again and we’ll definitely be back next year!
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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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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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