Category Archives: Reviews

The Fighter: The Next Great Blues Rock Album?

Blues guitar virtuoso Simon McBride is set to release his first solo record in a decade this week. Somehow we were lucky enough to get an early copy of it to review and couldn’t wait to get started. So, let’s not waste any time, here it is!

‘Don’t Dare’ opens on a great blues riff reminiscent of early Led Zeppelin. It slows up into the verse, Simon’s powerful vocals coming in over the top of his clean guitar chords and a fun bassline. The distortion comes back in for a catchy chorus, it giving off even more blues vibes. The track drops down out of the second chorus, building up as it repeats the song title over and over. It soon crescendos and heads into a typically fantastic guitar solo, dripping with swagger and emotion. It then heads into a final chorus to end a fantastic opening track!

‘Show Me How to Love’ opens at a slower, more plodding pace. Again, it’s so very blues. The driving bassline and simple drums sound great with the clean guitar chords come in over the top. It heads into another big chorus, the backing vocals adding a hell of a lot to it and making it even catchier. We get another awesome cheeky little solo between the chorus and verse too. The leads have been a definite highlight of the album already. The main solo is even better, Simon channeling his inner Slash as he builds it up faster and faster from a slow, fantastic beginning. The anthemic chorus is doubled before yet another awesome solo takes us home. An amazing track and one that definitely makes the playlist!

Check out our interview with the man of the hour here.

We get some jazzy chords to open ‘Kingdom’. It almost feels like RHCP or Lenny Kravitz, especially when the distorted guitar comes in behind it. The track stays stripped back a little, simple bass and drums leading behind Simon’s vocals. It almost gives off Extreme vibes with the fun funk rock. The chorus unfortunately disappears just as fast as it arrived, buyt the verses are so catchy that isn’t really an issue. There’s a high harmony in the second verse which is absolutely incredible and fits perfectly. It drops down into a low drum part that feels very Genesis, building things up more and more again through Simon’s fantastic guitar solos. This was always going to make the playlist from the moment that opening riff came in, but damn if it all wasn’t fantastic. One of my favourite songs of the year so far!

The title track has more of a southern riff running through it, it all having a fun country twang. However, outside of that and some more fun harmonised vocals, it felt a fair bit like the opening two songs. The same could be said for ‘High Stakes’. It’s a good song with a fun riff and chorus, but doesn’t bring anything new so I’m struggling to say much about it!

‘Don’t Let Me Go’, however, heads into beautiful ballad territory, and I am all for it! The clean guitar chords and powerful vocals to open it up sound great, and it continues to be the focal point throughout. The addition of the drums and other guitars and vocals for the second chorus makes it feel even more epic and beautiful. It feels almost redundant to say there’s some awesome lead guitar work in the track, but I again LOVED the guitar solo. Also, the lyrics here are fantastic, packed full of emotion and are my favourite on the album. Playlisted!

‘King of the Hill’ opens on a fun, quick blues riff and the pace stays pretty bouncy throughout. The drop down to clapping behind the solo was a nice touch. So was the organised chaos that came after it. ‘Trouble’., meanwhile, opens on a slower but equally awesome riff. It leads into another slow song but it’s less ballady than ‘Don’t Let…’. More great lyrics and backing vocals accompany the slower guitars and make for a fantastic song overall.

The final two tracks close the album on a heavier note, giving us two more great riffs and huge choruses to enjoy. I loved both tracks. However, again, I couldn’t find much to talk about as they are simply good blues rock tracks.

Overall: The was fantastic. I’m a big fan of the bluesier side of rock and this hit all the right spots for me. It was full of fun tracks and moments, good riffs and fantastic solos, and a couple of deep, beautiful slower tracks. I couldn’t ask for anything more, a damn fine album from one hell of a songwriter!

The Score: 8.5/10

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New Music Mondays: Malevolence, Static Dress and More!

Sorry for all you rock lovers, but this week’s new music is all about the metal. There is a rock band tucked away in here, but outside of that this week is for the heavy fans!

Malevolence: Malicious Intent

A band that have a massive buzz about them this year, just coming off a huge arena tour supporting Architects. So, safe to say the hype for this album, including with me, is pretty high.

Safe to say, their new music doesn’t disappoint. Whether it’s the crushing heaviness of the opener or ‘Karma’ or the melody of ‘On Broken Glass’ there is a surprising amount of range for the hardcore punk/beatdown metal band. Heck, ‘Higher Place’ is practically a FFDP (but good)-esque ballad, and not only is it excellent but fits the album perfectly. My only slight gripe is that ‘Salvation’ features one of the best names in metal today, Matt Heafy, but uses him incredibly sparingly. At least, vocally they do. Still, the track and album as a whole are very good. 8.5/10

Static Dress: Rogue Carpet Disaster

Another British hardcore punk band with a new album, it must have been the week for it! A band that I had never actually heard of, Static Dress also put out a pretty decent album! Opening with a heavy bang with ‘Fleahouse’ and ‘Sweet.’, the band also show their versatility on ‘Attempt 8’ and ‘Such.a.shame’. While not quite as good as their heavier brothers above, it’s still a fun album that I’ll find myself listening to a fair bit over the next few weeks. 7/10

Weird Nightmare: Self-Titled

The pop-rock/punk band are the new project of Metz guitarist Alex Edkins. The debut album is a fun, upbeat album that is a breath of fresh air this week, let me tell you. Having this on on the drive home from Call of the Wild festival, it faded into the background in the best way, a good album to just sit and chill out to. Tracks like ‘Sunday Driver’ and ‘Oh No’ are particular highlights. 6/10

Cave In: Heavy Pendulum

The American rock band seem to have confused either me or Wikipedia, or quite possibly both. Wiki has the band down as rock, metalcore and post hardcore, yet I wouldn’t say what I heard here was any of that. This new music feels closer to sludge/doom/stoner metal than anything else. But then again, I haven’t heard their previous stuff, so this may be a bit of a departure of their sound!

Whatever the case, it’s a good album! The band are all clearly very competent players and are fantastic, interesting songwriters. However, 14 tracks may have been a little much. I like this style of music, but I personally got a bit bored during the second half as it was a lot of the same. Highlights include ‘Blood Spiller’ and the epic ‘Nightmare Eyes’. 7/10

Septicflesh: Modern Primitive

The Greek death metal band put out their 11th album last week. I’ve seen the name floating about a lot before and assumed they’d not be my sort of thing, but this was actually great. The melodic and symphonic elements contrast perfectly with the death parts and makes for a fun, interesting listen. Tracks like ‘Hierophant’ and ‘Coming Storm’ are perfect examples of what I’m on about, and are both definite highlights of the album! Straight up good symphonic death metal music ! 8/10

Geezer: Stoned Blues Machine

The stoner/blues metal band are hard to find much information on, given that Google immediately brings up Geezer Butler at every chance instead. As a result, I am going into this album relatively blind. Thanks to Spotify at least, i can see that this is the bands fourth studio album.

The album is fun, packed full of great, groovy riffs and some surprisingly big, catchy choruses. The three pre-release tracks are of course the highlights, the band doing a good job picking the singles. However, the whole album is damn enjoyable if you like this sort of style. It’s not too dissimilar to the Cave In album, just a little lighter and more accessible. 7.5/10

INFLUENCE: Conspiracy

A band that I am rather familiar with due to covering their first album at my old place, I have been a fan of INFLUENCE for a while. Because of this, of course I shall be listening to the new album and giving it a more in depth review, so you’ll have to keep an eye out for that later in the week if you’re interested! Just as a little spoiler though… it’s good!

Assumption: Hadean Tides

What to say about this album that isn’t going to make me come across like a dick. I don’t know if it was my speakers, but the mix wasn’t great at all. I struggled to hear the vocals much throughout while the bass drums and lead guitar were about the loudest things on the album. What they were doing sounded good, as much as I’m not too into the style, but it was hard to get past the odd mix. Maybe this is exactly how they wanted it and it’s just me not ‘getting’ it, but it was a weird choice. Because of that, I can’t give it much higher than a 4.5/10

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New Music Mondays: State Champs, Misery Index and More!

A slightly slower week this week, with no absolutely massive releases or a huge amount of albums out. But still, there was some great new music from the rock and metal world released this week, with six new albums out. Let’s check them out!

STATE CHAMPS: Kings of the New Age

New Yorkian pop-punkers State Champs put out their fourth album last Friday. I have to admit I know the name and have probably heard a track or two, but I never really got much into the modern wave of pop-punk.

However, having said that, this is a pretty damn good album. It’s a little heavier than traditional pop punk, but I also thinks it adds a more anthemic feel to it all. It’s arena pop-punk, and I am shocked it’s taken me this long to listen to it. Obviously the singles are all amazing, but there isn’t a bad track on the album really. I need to check out more from this band and genre ASAP, I think! 8/10

Misery Index: Complete Control

The Maryland based death metal band put out a DAMN heavy death metal album last week. And it’s great. Before Overtone I would never have even attempted to listen to this album, but it’s opened my eyes to a lot of fantastic death metal, this included. The riffs are brutal, crushing awesomeness and the gang vocals means that a few of the tracks are even pretty catchy. Just check out ‘Infiltrators’, it perfectly encapsulates the bands sound and attitude in just two short minutes. Great stuff! 8/10

Cage Fight: Self-Titled

The new band seem to go by so many different labels, be it punk, thrash, metalcore. Either the latter or metalic hardcore is probably the closest to their sound. Either way, it’s fucking fantastic. From the first track of the album I was hooked, and I stayed hooked throughout. I love that we are starting to get more and more female screamers these days as they are showing they can do it just as good as the guys. I also have to gush over just as smooth the transitions between the tracks are. At times I didn’t realise a new song had started until like 30 seconds in. It’s the sign of a great album as it flows perfectly. I was going to say the first X amount of tracks were fantastic, but honestly it just kept rolling with great track after great track! This is a ridiculously strong debut album and they have found a new fan in me! Not a bad track on the album and damn, I need to see them live soon! 9/10

Moon Tooth: Phototroph

The Prog Metallers have been around for a decade now, constantly wowing audiences with their talent and songwriting skill. That continues with Phototroph. Their new music may be their best yet. The guitaring in the opener and ‘Deathwish Blues’ is a technical masterclass, combining both lead and rhythm together perfectly. There are times even the vocals somehow sounds both completely separate from the instrumentation but also the perfect accompaniment. ‘O My Isle’ may be my favourite of the bunch, combining light, catchy sounds with a pretty heavy riff. Another band that I need to check out more of! 8.5/10

Visions of Atlantis: Pirates

It’s like if Nightwish and Alestorm had a lovechild. Symphonic metal about pirates is something I never knew I needed until now, and yet also I’m surprised there isn’t more of. All of it is great, but ‘Master the Hurricane’ is on a level of its own. Unquestionably epic from the string-heavy opening to the massive closing riff, it is how you do symphonic/power metal at its very best. A highlight on an album that also includes the likes of ‘Wild Elysium ‘ is an impressive feat and should hopefully set Visions of Atlantis up to be the next big thing in the sub-genre. 7.5/10

Check out our Powerwolf review here.

Morgue Supplier: Inevitability

If anyone was here last week, you know what’s coming here. It’s death metal. What more do you expect. Granted, this had slightly more groove to it than the typical blast beat and ‘AHHHHH’, but it still didn’t do a great deal for me. As such, I don’t feel qualified to give scores to death metal, as I am just not going to like it enough to give it a good rating, no matter how good at the sub-genre the band is. I’mma give it a 4/10 and hope that works!

Back From The Dead and Boombox Double Bill: Did Halestorm and Fozzy Release the Two Best Radio-Rock Albums of the Year?

Two bands with surprisingly similar styles but vastly different execution styles. However, both put out their muchly anticipated new albums on the same day a couple of weeks ago. We wanted to review both so figured we’d both get involved and do it this way for a change! Charlotte and I are both massive Halestorm fans, while I’ve been a fan of the Ayatollah of Rocknrolla, Y2J, the Painmaker, the Demo God and all that other bollocks for all my life. Oh, and Rich Ward is insane too, big up the Duke in Stuck Mojo and Adrenaline Mob. So, Let’s get on with the reviews, shall we?

Halestorm: Back From The Dead

First, I think we should get Charlotte’s review out of the way…

Back From The Dead made me die and come back to life. Lzzy’s vocals are a powerhouse – the control on her screams become more and more impressive with every new album. The band have reached new heights and I am HERE for it. This album makes you weak at the knees, you might want to sit down for your first listen. Apart from the obvious ones (‘Back From The Dead’ and ‘The Steeple’ that were previously released as singles), you’re going to want to listen to ‘I Come First’ and ‘Wicked Ways’ if you’re in the mood for something heavy and ‘Raise Your Horns’ for that feel-good, community spirit.

The message of Back From The Dead really resonated with me. Everyone will have their own interpretation, but building the courage to fight your demons and get back to the fight is something that flows throughout the album. Expressing the band’s thoughts and inspiration behind community, freedom, your inner demons and humanity, Back From The Dead becomes Halestorm’s latest release with 11 insane tracks for you to add to your daily playlist.

Now, let’s dive into the tracks a little deeper and see what they are all about!

The titular track and lead single on the album is, quite frankly, a banger. From the powerful opening notes of the guitar and vocals through the heavy, mid-tempo verses and catchy as hell chorus, it has everything you’d come to expect from Lzzy and Co. Add to that some of the best soring notes that Lizzy has hit on a record in years and even a pretty awesome guitar solo! Anyone who hasn’t already checked this out, you should. Playlisted!

‘Wicked Ways’ opens on some more trademark Hale catchy shouting, opening on the fantastic chorus. The verses sound like constant build-ups too, which was really fun and interesting. The lyrics are questionable but they have at least grown more subtle than the usual obvious, constant sex talk. The track’s pretty high paced, heading into a breakdown of sorts not long after the one-minute mark. However it leads to more awesome breakdowning and a hell of a lot of chorus for an outro. It’s epic but a tad repetitive. Still, two for two on good songs!

Check out our New Music Monday about these albums here.

‘Strange Girl’ is like ‘Do Not Disturb’ off their previous album, stripped back, more blues-oriented and darker. It unfortunately doesn’t have quite as strong a chorus as the aforementioned song. However, it does have more of the stronger, more mature lyric writing that is making me love this album a lot so far. Also, is it just me, or does the chorus remind you of Imagine Dragons’ ‘Radioactive’? Just me? Okay, moving on…

‘Brightside’ is another good hard rock track, the positive lyrics being the main highlight. Then we reach ‘The Steeple’. I wasn’t too into this track when it first came out, but it has grown on me a lot since then. The band have always done a great job with the whole ‘we’re all one big happy rock family’ thing in their lyrics, and this is no exception. Lzzy singing about how rock is everything to her is pretty empowering as a rock fan, I have to say. And the chorus has grown on me a lot more with each listen, too! Playlisted!

The ballad of the album, ‘Terrible Things’ is fantastic. It is truly beautiful, contrasting perfectly with the sombre, deep lyrical content. And the fact that it stays low throughout, never having the drop from the instruments that I imagine was oh so tempting. It stays as just a simple guitar, vocals and strings throughout, and only adds to the mood of the track. It’s one of the best, most profound ballads I’ve heard in a long while, and easily makes the playlist!

Tracks like ‘My Redemption’ and ‘Bombshell’ are good for album tracks. There’s a fun riff or vocal line here and there, but there isn’t much memorable about them. In fact, in my opinion the album peters off for the second half. It’s still good, but it’s very much a front loaded album. Even the other slow track, closer ‘Raise Your Horns’, does the horribly usual pet peeve of mine, closing the album on a whimper, not a bang. And as good as the lyrics are, it’s not as as good as ‘Terrible Things’.

Overall: A damn solid album from one of the best mainstream rock bands around today. They have matured a lot over the last four years and it has made for maybe the best album they have put out outside of The Strange Case Of…. I cannot await to hear a good half of this live, and I really hope this is the album that pushes them to the top of the rock world!

Joe’s Score: 8.5/10 Charlotte’s Score: 10/10

Fozzy: Boombox

Charlotte wrote:

I was a Fozzy virgin before listening to Boombox but man they did not disappoint. Easy-listening rock, I love their overall sound – very Shinedown-like. I think they’d fit very well together on a joint tour or even a joint track. My only criticism is that I’d love to hear more of Chris Jericho’s vocals with a cleaner sound – not necessarily clean vocals, but less distortion and layers around it. However, that might just be a personal preference because I can absolutely understand how they fit in with the sound of the band. This feels like an album where I could go from head-banging to looking out the car pretending I’m in a movie.

Meanwhile, in my opinion, ‘Sane’ is the best single they have released in a decade. Don’t get me wrong, the video is one of the cringiest things I’ve seen in a while, but from the heavy opening riff to the catchy, radio-rock chorus, this is a solid track. My only slight issue with it is that there isn’t much between the 2nd and last choruses. It teases an extended solo but we just got a short one, followed by a stripped back build-up and an extended final chorus. It all felt a little rushed, but I guess at over 4-minutes it was already pushing it slightly for a radio single. A great track and on the playlist!

‘I Still Burn’ surprisingly drops the pace down pretty early on in the album. Opening straight into vocals and slowly building in more and more instruments, it’s a fun, good track. It should have just been later than second on the album. Still, the chorus is heavy in a Linkin Park/ new BMTH kinda way. The bridge is kinda cool and the track gives Rich Ward another brief chance to show off his amazing guitar talent. A good song!

Single ‘Purifier’ unfortunately just feels like another track on the album already. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, with a decent riff and catchy vocals. However, it does very little different to ‘Sane’ or previous tracks like ‘Drinking with Jesus’. Fozzy have a safe zone that they have unfortunately been hidden relatively firmly in since Do You Wanna Start A War? for very little reason. The reason I enjoyed Sin And Bones is because it didn’t sound like much else out there, especially when most tracks on the album sounded distinctly different. Now there’s just rock Fozzy songs, and slow Fozzy songs. ‘Purifier ‘ is the former, ‘Army of One’ is the other.

‘Ugly On The Inside’ has the lyrics ‘U-G-L-Y, You ain’t got no alibi, you’re ugly’. Need I say more than that? Oh, and there’s also a ‘Frankie Goes to Hollywood’ cover… this album suddenly got very cringe…

Their 2019 single ‘Nowhere to Run’ at least rocks things back up and brings things back to the now-typical Fozzy level. ‘My Great Wall’ stays at that level and makes me almost give up hope, before ‘What Hell is Like’ kicks in. The riff is great, sounding more like something from their first two albums, and the pre reminds me of ‘Blood Happens’., one of my favourite tracks by the band. The best song on the album by a country mile, I loved it.

Unfortunately, the rest of the album is the same uninspired sound as a lot of the rest. None of it is bad, but it’s bland and pretty samey when compared to the rest of the album, and compared to the one before it.

Overall: This was fine. None of it is bad per say, aside for ‘Relax’, it was just distinctly average. Gone are the days when Fozzy would be experimental and fun and hop-genres, instead settling into the sea of butt-rock already out there. At least it’s better than their last two albums.

Joe’s Score: 6/10 Charlotte’s Score: 7/10

New Music Mondays: Halestorm, Three Days Grace and Much More!

An absolutely HUGE week for New Music Mondays. 12 massive albums from some of the biggest names in rock and metal all out on the same day. I don’t know what it was about May 6th, but I’ve been waiting for it for a while. Without further ado, let’s get to it!

Halestorm: Back From the Dead

Back from the dead indeed. After four years the band returned with their follow-up to 2018’s Vicious. The two singles from the album were both fantastic, setting the scene for the rest of it perfectly. However, you are going to have to wait just a little longer for my review and score, as there is no way I’m NOT doing this in depth! It should be on the site and socials within a couple of days, so keep an eye out!

Three Days Grace: EXPLOSIONS

One of the leaders of the affectionately dubbed ‘butt-rock’ sub-genre, Three Days Grace have been around over two decades at this point and show no sign of slowing down. I have to admit, I haven’t really actively listened to this band since One-X all the way back in 2006. So, it was nice to find myself rather pleasantly surprised by this album!

All the elements of butt-rock are here, the basic, heavy guitar riffs, the electronic melodies to help build the track and the edgy lyrical content. However, it is clear it is being written by a band that know exactly what they are doing, and do it exceptionally well. While the opener and lead single was a little too edgy for me, tracks like ‘I Am The Weapon’ and ‘No Tomorrow’ are just as good as anything else they’ve put out. Even the slower tracks like ‘Lifetime’ and ‘Redemption’ are fantastic, even if they are pretty depressing lyrically. Still, the emotion is definitely there, in every track. It’s made me want to check out the albums from them I’ve missed and I’ll definitely be listening to this a lot in the coming weeks! 7/10

Simple Plan: Harder Than it Looks

The Canadian pop-punkers have done a lot more than just ‘What’s New Scooby Do?’. The band have had some amazing, huge tracks over their now six album career. Their latest looks to continue that trend, being packed with huge, catchy, arena-filling choruses and vocal lines… and not a great deal else. Don’t get me wrong, the instrumentation is fine, but there isn’t really any of it that I would consider memorable. It’s a usual issue with pop punk, but it’s more prevalent in more anthemic bands like these or Good Charlotte. Still, tracks like the opener and ‘Million Pictures of You’ are good fun and highlights of a fairly standard, samey album. 6.5/10

Fozzy: Boombox

Another album I have to do an in-depth review of I’m afraid, as I have been a Jericho fan for as long as I can remember. Still though, from what I’ve heard so far, it’s going to be pretty good, and certainly better than their last couple of albums!

Silverstein: Misery Made Me

The pop-punk/emo/post hardcore(?) band hit double digits on their discography last week. This sort of music was never really my thing as a kid, in fact I actively avoided most ’emo’ music aside the odd AFI song. So, because of that, I know the band by name only. However, I did enjoy this album. The band managed to put together some interesting different styles throughout. I didn’t think the opening track was that heavy at all and leant heavily into pop-punk so it had me wondering where the post hardcore was. Then the heavy second track came in and I understood a lot more.

Tracks like ‘Ultraviolet’, ‘It’s Over’ and ‘Slow Motion’ also perfectly blend these two styles. The tracks have some awesome catchiness blended with the heaviness too. I’m actually pissed at myself for not giving this band a chance sooner, I’ll definitely be checking them out more! It’s an effortless style of arena-heavy-rock that bands like Asking Alexandria and BVB have tried to varying degrees of success recently. Awesome stuff! 8.5/10

Ibaraki: Rashomon

Trivium frontman and all-round metal legend Matt Heafy finally put out his solo album last week. This is said album. Oh, and it’s death/black metal, so I have been even more excited! Opening on a seven-and-a-half minute death epic for an essentially debut album is a ballsy move, but Heafy pulls it off masterfully. Insane riffs and a harsher scream than I have heard him use in a while, as well as still some of his powerful cleans, start the album off strong.

Then there’s the all out assault of ‘Ibaraki-Doji’ and the darkly beautiful black metal slow build of ‘Jigoku Dayu’, both of which are massive highlights. Oh, and Behemoth’s own Nergal also makes an appearance on the awesome ‘Akumu’, another highlight. There is also guest appearances from the legendary Ihsahn of Emperor and even My Chemical Romance Frontman Gerard Way. Oh, and yes, you guessed it, both tracks are also awesome. Especially the latter, which sees the usually clean vocalist scream his fucking lungs out. I honestly didn’t think he had it in him, that was awesome. Heafy does a good job of managing to make it sound not too much like Trivium, but still have that recognisable edge to it. While I wouldn’t put it quite up there with Court of the Dragon, it is still an insanely strong album. 9/10

Otoboke Beaver: Super Champon

I don’t understand how these girls have over 100k monthly listeners. Then again, the punk scene is and always has been weird. I’m going to be honest with you, I didn’t make it through the whole album. I couldn’t. The vocals were barely in tune and the lyrics were SO VERY REPETITIVE. For a guy who complains about the Killers’s magnum opus ‘Mr Brightside’ being ‘lazy’ for having the same verse twice, this band make them look like J.R. Tolkien. I don’t get it, it sounds awful. If you like it please let me know on our socials what I’m missing, because this was not good. 2/10

Depressed Mode: Decade of Silence

The doom metallers returned after… well… a decade of silence (13 years, to be exact). I’ve already reviewed this very good album, so you can check out what I had to say, alongside my score, here.

Terror: Pain Into Power

This is the first ‘beatdown hardcore’ band I believe we have (at least knowingly) covered here at Overtone. While I feel like I have heard the term somewhere before, it doesn’t sound like my sort of thing so I suspect this will be a review of my first time listening to a whole new sub-genre today, rare these days.

It’s alright. Better than I expected it to be, given the name of the subgenre. It wasn’t anything special but there were a few good riffs, like the one at the end of ‘Boundless Contempt’. And it didn’t overstay its welcome either, being just 18-minutes spread across ten songs. Even the lyrics weren’t terrible. It’s not the best thing I’ve ever listened to but I’ll happily listen to it again. 6/10

Puppy: Pure Evil

This was somehow a more doom version of Smashing Pumpkins. The intro track made me think the album was going to be pretty slow and heavy, but then ‘The Kiss’ flipped it all on its head. It’s an interesting blend of styles: doom/stoner, metal, grunge and even some desert rock. I enjoyed it a fair bit, with ‘Spellbound’ being my particular album highlight. 6/10

I Am The Night: While the Gods Are Sleeping

It’s black metal. That alone should tell you exactly what to expect. I’ve really tried, guys. I’ve been doing NMM for over seven months now and have since listened to a fair amount of black metal. It’s the only sub-genre that does absolutely nothing for me. The musicians in this band are clearly very good at what they do, and the vocalist has one hell of a scream on him, but the actual songs kinda bore me. This is what people think of when they use phrases like ‘all metal just sounds the same’ and ‘you can’t tell what they’re saying’ and you know what, they’re absolutely right. I am the Night are a solid band and probably a great black metal band, bit it isn’t for me. 3/10

Stand Atlantic: f.e.a.r.

I nearly didn’t cover this. Then I remembered I covered Avril Lavigne in one of these and realised I kind of had to. It is still guitar based, even if it is more pop than rock. It reminds me very much of the likes of Olivia Rodrigo or Gayle in its melody, just with slightly more guitars. It isn’t a bad thing and is certainly catchy. It’s simply very basic catchiness and the lyrics are not really my sort of thing. It’s clearly inspired by modern female pop and punk (like AS IT IS) alongside the likes of Avril and P!no. It simply doesn’t quite live up to those influences. Tracks like ‘Deathwish’ and ‘Don’t Talk’ are pretty decent though and definite highlights. 5.5/10

Decade of Silence: How Do Depressed Mode Sound After 13 Years Away?

Depressed Mode are a Finnish doom/death/prog metal band. Formed in 2005 as a solo project of Ossy Salonen, the band released two albums in the few years after before going silent through the 2010s. However, the band returned this last week with their first album in over a decade, and titled it accordingly! I’m not particuarly familiar with the band so I’m excited to be checking it out!

‘Death Walks Among us’ opens on a beautiful orchestral piece. It builds and builds perfectly. But, at a minute-and-a-half before the guitars and drums come in, it may be just a tad long. The strings continuing on in the back is an excellent touch, made even better moments later when the lead guitar harmonises with it. It then heads into full-on doom metal for the verse, the low growls also bringing in the death element. Surprisingly though, there were some clean vocals in here too. Not many, but it broke things up a bit and added a catchy element to it all.

The chuggy, almost breakdown part afterwards was fantastic. The growls fit in well and the violins when they come back in. The cleans come back in for what I assume is the chorus before and it even leads to a pretty sweet guitar solo, even if it was a tad short. The final chorus with the duelling clean and harsh vocals was FANTASTIC and rounds out one hell of an opening track. This is everything I could possibly want out of the heavier side o metal. It was heavy, packed full of great riffs and great screams. But, to top it off, it has some great clean vocals and a real epic feel to it thanks to the strings. The easiest playlist I’ve done in a while!

‘Endless November’ starts off slow but still heavy. The clean vocals remain too, reminding me of Tobias Forge in their higher, harmonised delivery. A higher, more female-led symphonic metal vocal adds even more depth to it. It plays off the other clean perfectly. It has a very black/doom metal vibe about it all. And it benefits from being on the proggier side length wise too, as the pace doesn’t really pick up until a few minutes in, the harsh vocals not coming in until after that. They’re pretty far back in the mix though, almost treated like another instrument. The operatic female vocal takes the lead here in a big way, giving us an even catchier chorus than the previous tracks! The whole song is more like symphonic metal than anything else, doom being the next closest. It’s epic and a lot of fun, another great song!

Check out our review of a similar band, Extinction in Progress, here.

‘Dissociation of the Extinguished Mind’ is another one with an epic opening, even having a pretty great guitar solo around the one minute mark. It stays slow for the verse and the growls return. There’s a great riff that comes in around the mid-point of the song, the lead guitar following the string accompaniment perfectly. There’s the odd vocal line and sound as well behind it, spoken word kinda style, and it really reminds me of Faith no More. The clean vocals afterwards added a nice change of pace, and again when they go back to them later, and around it are more heavy, growled verses. It fading out to a piano outro was also fantastic, adding an epic, creepy finale to things. Good stuff!

The piano continues on into the intro of ‘As the Light Dims’, and the violin over the top makes it all so beautiful. The guitars come in over the top, as do the female vocal lines. The dynamics of the track are fun, heading into some growls before dropping back down to the piano and female ‘ooo’s and ‘ahhh’s. It builds back up again with the Ghost-like clean vocals and huge distorted guitar chords. At one point all three vocal styles are duelling and it sounds AMAZING. The whole track is heavy, proggy greatness.

Unfortunately, this is where the album peaks for me. Don’t me wrong, the following five tracks are all awesome, and I will definitely be listening to them again a few times after this. Heck, the riff for ‘Serpents’ is my favourite on the whole album, and the track is a highlight for sure. And it was nice to have some more upbeat tracks again like ‘Eternal Darkness’. However, there are a lot of slower parts throughout the album. Anyone who visits this site reguarly knows that my patience for this type of music isn’t the best. It’s all fantastically written and awesome to listen to, but nine songs clocking in at over an hour is a little much for me all in one sitting!

Overall: As I’ve said, this was awesome. It was an epic, heavy, very well-written album full of everything you could ask for from the sub-genre. A fantastic return after well over a decade away!

The Score: 8/10

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Automaton: Crashdiet’s Strongest Album to Date?

The Swedish glam-metal band have been going a while now, having changed vocalists for a third time before their last album, Rust. Most bands would struggle after losing the frontman that brought the band the biggest fame (heck, just look at Iron Maiden), but Crashdiet have seemed to thrive with Gabriel Keyes at the helm. The singles from this album have got me excited and I cannot wait to review it. Check it out with us!

After a brief intro track, ‘Together Whatever’ rips into a surprisingly heavy riff, sounding closer to power metal than sleaze. However as soon as Gabriel comes in on vocals it is undoubtedly glam-metal. His voice adds somehow both polish and attitude to the instrumentation. A great build through the verse and pre leads to a fantastically catchy chorus. The backing ‘oh’s are great and very glam while the lead and backing vocals are just as catchy. The guitar solo between the second and last choruses is just as fantastic as one would come to expect from the genre, bridging the gap perfectly. Overall a very enjoyable radio hit and one that easily makes the playlist!

‘Shine On’ opens with an 80s electro-style synth before a great, heavy riff comes in over the top. The verse is steady again, focused heavily on the vocals as the drums and guitars are pretty simple and driving. It leads to another catchy chorus, the ‘hey’s most likely being fun to join in with live. After a brief guitar solo it drops down to the electro bit for a moment. Then an almost Iron Maiden-like riff and vocal line builds us back to the final chorus and outro. Another fantastic song!

Next up is lead single ‘No Man’s Land’. Right out the gate we are hit with two fantastic, heavy riffs, somehow combining Bon Jovi and Dream Theater. It follows the same structure as the previous two tracks, dropping down for the verses before building into huge choruses. It’s another good choice for a single as it’s got a stadium-filling, catchy chorus, a great guitar solo and some damn punchy riffs.

Check out a similar review of comedy NWOCR band Bootyard bandits here

‘Darker Minds’ changes the pace slightly, just enough to keep it interesting. It isn’t quite a ballad but it is markedly slower than the previous tracks and the chorus is almost uplifting in its melody. It’s the closest thing to all-out glam on the album so far and is very catchy. I have a weakness for a Bon Jovi/Motley Crue style chorus and this very much delivers that, pushing the track onto our playlist!

‘Dead Crusade’ while still a very good track, is more of the same. I would say the same about ‘Powerline’, but at least it features a fun guest slot from Steal Panthers Michael Starr. The man’s iconic voice is as strong as ever and blends very well with both Gabriel’s and the music behind them!

‘Resurrection of the Damned’ is another fine track. However, it does bare at least some resemblance to the similarly titled Skid Row track ‘We Are the Damned’. It isn’t an issue at all, but I struggled to get the other track out of my head upon the initial listen or two.

‘We Die Hard’ is another track with a heavily Bon Jovi chorus, which I massively appreciated. Outside of that there isn’t much to talk about with the track, though. The opposite could be said for ‘Shell Shock’. While there are better choruses on the album, the riff is incredible and the heaviness was great. Between the solid drumming, multiple great rhythm parts and fun backing vocals, it will most likely go down as an underappreciated gem this late on the album. Playlisted.

Another standard track in ‘Unbroken’ gives way to the album closer, ‘I Can’t Move On’. It’s a ballad, and oh boy is it a slow one. Yes, it picks up and adds some distortion or the final chorus, but before that it was just vocals and a guitar. If this was earlier on in the album it would have been perfect, but why do bands insist on having 10 songs that are all the same one after another and then have the only different one right at the end? A good song but leaves the album out on a whimper instead of a bang, especially when it fades out instead of a big finish.

Overall: This was great. Crashdiet found their stride immediately with Gabriel but this was as strong an output as Rust, arguably better. A band who know what they are about and are very good at writing music around that. I cannot wait to hear it live!

The Score: 8/10

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New Music Mondays: Rammstein, Ted Nugent and More!

Another week and some more fantastic new music in the world of rock and metal. From industrial to death to blues, there’s a bit of everything! Check it all out down below!

Rammstein: Zeit

Industrial metal kings Rammstein return with their eighth studio album, and a rather quick successor to 2019s Untitled Album. The band are yet to release a bad album and, to no ones surprise, they keep that record alive with this new music. Whether it is the slow piano build of the title track or the straight up chugging of ‘Giftig’ or ‘OK’. All three tracks are highlights of the album, but honestly there isn’t a bad track on it.

It’s a slower album than I was expecting, though. I do like their mid-tempo stuff a lot, and it has resulted in a much more epic-feeling album, but it’s weird to only have three or four faster tracks on it. I imagine it’s because the band are maturing as songwriters more and more, as the previous album was slower than their early ones too. Also, the final track being ‘Adieu’ and containing various different other ways of saying goodbye, could the band be trying to tell us something…? Either way, a very good album that boarders more on power metal than industrial. 8/10

Ted Nugent: Detroit Muscle

A controversial figure these days due to his political leanings, Ted can at least still write some okay rock music when he wants to. I have to admit this is the first Nugent album I’ve listened to all the way through. I’m British and us over here tend to prefer Canada’s version, Bryan Adams, over Nugent or Bruce Springsteen.

The album’s fun, even if it is full of his usual rhetoric. It annoys me that ‘Come and Take it’ is so catchy, given that it’s very ‘Don’t Tread on Me’. Still, this isn’t the time or place to get political. This is a good blues album full of pretty decent guitar riffs, some catchy choruses and a few fun riffs. ‘American Campfire’ and ‘Alaska’ are definite highlights for me, but the album as a whole is enjoyable to listen to from start to finish. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, and may have to check out some more of his stuff after this. 6.5/10

Watain: The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain

The Swedish black metal band have been going a lot longer than I thought they had been. Now seven albums in their first decade of music is a bit of a mystery to me. Though black metal has never really been on my radar, I did know about these guys due to a fair amount of hype surrounding them around The Wild Hunt, so I have at least checked out some of their stuff. Though this company has definitely opened my eyes more to the heavier side of metal, black metal still seems like an anomaly to me. I get and enjoy death metal a lot now, and even like a fair amount of extreme stuff. black metal simply seems to not have as much going on in it usually and gets a bit monotonous.

However, this album does a good job at trying to bridge the gap, for me. There’s more going on than your typical black metal album; between guitar solos, thrashier guitars and some fun dynamics it definitely has some death and extreme elements. I still wouldn’t go out of my way to listen to it and the whole 50 minutes in one sitting was a bit of a struggle, but I wouldn’t turn any of it off if it came on. I imagine this is very good for fans of the genre, if I enjoyed it. But I can’t give it more than 5.5/10

Paddy and the Rats: From Wasteland to Wonderland

The Hungarian Celtic punk band released their sixth album last week. First of all, it’s a lot of fun. It’s like all of Christopher Bowes’ projects blended together with a hint of Dropkick Murphys and Train. I have to admit it took me a couple of tracks to get into the vocals, and they’re still not quite as folky/piratey for my liking. However, don’t get me wrong, Paddy can definitely sing. Either way, it’s a very fun album, with tracks like ‘Ship Will Sail’, ‘Matadora’ And the album club-pop ‘Party Like a Pirate’. I love that this is the sort of direction this style of music is going, with Alestorm’s ‘Tortuga’ being another fantastic example. It’s all massively catchy album from start to finish and it’s insane that I haven’t heard of them before. Hopefully this pushes them to even greater heights, and they definitely have a new fan in me! 8.5/10

Crashdïet: Automation

The Swedish glam metal band are six albums deep now, and show no signs of slowing down! Automation is a good album BUT I want to review it as a whole, given that I’m a Big fan of the band’s music and we are speaking to them later this month. So keep an eye out on our website and socials as it will be up in the next few days!

Reef: Shoot Me Your Ace

The British pop-rock band get a lot less praise and love than they deserve. There is a lot more to them than ‘Place Your Hands’, with tracks like ‘Naked’ and even newer stuff like ‘How I Got Over’ been criminally underrated songs. Aside from that they are still one of the nest live bands around today, with frontman Gary Stringer always being on top form.

Now that the gushing is out of the way, the band’s sixth album is also very good. From the dirty blues title track through to tracks more like ‘Place…’ like ‘Refugee’ and ‘Wolfman’ there is a lot to love here. It’s a fantastic album full of catchy choruses, sorting vocals and effortlessly fantastic guitar riffs. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that it’s another album that doesn’t have a great deal of variety on it. It’s 42-minutes of awesome, fun blues rock so it’s a lot harder to dislike it all being similar, but a ballad or something out there may have been nice in the middle! Still, I ended up saving half of these tracks so any number of them could end up on the playlist! Another fantastic entry from the band! 8/10

FES: With Regards From Home

A band that we are very familiar with, given that it was the first gig we went to as a company. Their debut album was finally released on Friday and we’ve already reviewed it! Check it out here.

If I Die Today: The Abyss In Silence

Firstly, the concept of this album is really cool. Having life, death, the five stages of grief and then Darkness as the track titles is a chilling way to start off the story. The music fits the tone perfectly too, the hardcore metal bordering on blackened death working well. For the most part the tracks fit the titles, too. However, I know that they’re a very heavy band, but a couple of the tracks, such as ‘Life’, ‘Autumn’ and ‘Darkness’, could have maybe done with being a little slower or stripped back to really get the message across. However, the riffs were fantastic throughout and the vocals changed between heavy growls and extreme, hopeless-filled shrieks and made it pretty interesting. The emotion and talent is definitely there and the concept is fantastic, I’m just being picky and again wishing for some more variety. 6.5/10

Dischordia: Triptych

The Oklahoman death metal trio put out their first new album in six years last week. In fitting with the album’s artwork, it’s a trippy, heavy album. Pulling no punches, from the first note of ‘Minds of Dust’ to the closing one of ‘Le Petite Mort’ it is an all out assault. Tracks like ‘Bodies of Ash’ and ‘The Whip’ are personal highlights of an insane bunch. It’s definitely on the heavier side of death metal and will take me a bit of getting used to, but I’m sure after a few more listens I’ll love it. The instrumentation is off the charts, some of the riffs are incredible, and the growls are insanely low. If anyone’s into death metal check this out! 7/10

Fool’s Gold: Are Lyoness The Next Big Indie Name?

Lyoness are a band formed from the ashes of Gallows’ first incarnation. However, anyone going into this expecting hardcore punk may be rather disappointed. The band have released their debut EP, Fools Gold, and demonstrated their indie/folk rock leanings. I remember checking out one of the singles last year and enjoying it, so I am looking forward to checking out the full EP!

Dylan Nolte World-class Documentary Photography

‘Deliverance’ starts the album off on some tribal-style humming. It’s becoming a rather popular style these days after US indie groups started using it, and has since branched out into other genres like here and with Zeal & Ardor. It’s a fun technique used fantastically well here as the clean guitar builds up behind it. The riff build out of the hum is definitely one to bang your head to but is gone again as quickly as it bursts in. The vocals fit the overall style well, being soft and melodic. The killer riff kicks back in for the chorus and the vocals have a bit more power behind them. It’s very much the dark hard rock-country-folk style that is getting popular these days. It’s a damn good intro track for the band!

‘Fever Dream’ goes in an entirely different direction, heading into almost stoner rock territory with the huge, sludgy riffs. My god is the bass tone pretty in this track too, it’s filled with fuzz and attitude. The vocals are also impressive here, fitting so well that I find it hard to single them out on their own. The guitar was the main highlight here for me but the drums were solid and the vocals were impressively powerful. Playlisted!

‘Heroine’ heads straight into the verse, a fun, simple guitar riff with the vocals playing awesomely over the top. The heaviness comes in for the chorus, the huge guitar chords filling out the track behind the catchy vocals. It drops down to just vocals around the middle and gives the perfect chance to highlight her impressive indie voice. She definitely makes the most of it, too. We even get a guitar solo in the track, albeit a rather basic one. It fits the track well, though! The track stopping dead at the end was a little odd for me and a tad jarring, but it’s a minor gripe really.

For the most part ‘Know Thyself’ seemed pretty similar to the previous two tracks, so much so I wasn’t really going to mention it much. However, it dropping down to the palm-muted electric and then utilising the acoustic guitar was fantastic. It created such an amazing atmosphere for the rest of the track. I honestly wish they’d used it throughout the track, but having it in that part is enough to make it onto the playlist for me!

The distant drumming to open ‘The Silence’ set the track up as slightly more of a jazzy one, continued throughout. It’s an interesting blend with their style as well. However, while it might have just been my laptop, that riff that kicks in mid-way through the verses didn’t hit near hard enough for me. Maybe it’s because the drums didn’t go harder? Lyoness rectify it with the closest thing we’re going to get to a breakdown on the EP too, and it was pretty heavy (for an indie band) and good fun. Another good track on an EP full of them!

The band slow it down, but keep it pretty heavy, on the final track ‘What is Left’. It reminds me of almost a darker Fleetwood Mac, it definitely has those pop-folk-rock elements. She even kinda sounds like Stevie Nicks here, too. It’s an interesting way to close an album by I very much dig it. This is my favourite track on the album, it’s a heavy ballad that blends together so many different styles. I hear everything from Mac to Tool to Evanescence. An awesome track that you should definitely check out from our playlist!

Overall: for going in completely blind, I loved this! While some of the indier stuff isn’t quite my style, their other tracks are phenomenal and could hopefully push them far in this business! A fantastic start and I cannot wait to hear where the band go from here.

The Score: 7.5/10

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With Regards From Home: The Debut Album to Send FES to the Stratosphere?

Guitar-pop/pop-rock/math-rock band FES have been around a few years now. They’ve been putting in a hell of a lot of hours into touring and plugging away and EPs. However the band are finally releasing their debut album tomorrow, and I could not be more stoked. We saw these guys in Notts last year (link to the review here) and loved them, so to have the chance to get a sneak peak at this is an honour. Without further ado, here is our thoughts on With Regards From Home.

Starting off as on FES could, ‘Chew’ opens on some fantastic guitar playing and a huge chord before it drops down a bit for the vocals. It’s pop-punk math-rock blended perfectly together and is massively catchy. The dynamics are fun, it dropping down and building up multiple times throughout. There’s also a fantastic harmony on the vocal coming through the build-up around 2-minutes in, adding even more punch and epicness to the sound. I lost track a little of the structure a little but it doesn’t matter at all, this was phenomenal. The lyrics resonated pretty strongly with me too, as they would probably anyone at one time or another. This was awesome and easily makes the playlist!

‘Clarinet’ opens on another fantastically technical guitar riff, built on perfectly by the bass and drums. The vocals are again massively catchy, having a real old-Hayley-Williams twang to them. It’s hard not to constantly gush over the instrumentation, though. This band is three people at the very top of their craft and they are AMAZING songwriters. They manage to fit all their weirdness and craziness together somehow perfectly. This may sound insane, but I’d put the front-woman up there with the likes of Tosin Abasi and Santana in terms of technical guitar ability, she really is that good. More great stuff!

‘Sun Visor’ launches straight into the verse, vocals and a quirky riff ringing through. It somehow sounds even better when the bass takes over for the riff. The guitar holds a huge chord, letting it ring and distort and add another huge layer to the track. Then it suddenly shifts gears heading into the chorus, turning almost uplifting. It fits in with the mood of the trach though and was a smooth transition. The track is another awesome one, catchy and bouncy and a lot of fun!

I am coming to realise that I maybe cannot review this album in the same way as I review most others. Otherwise it’ll just be me repeatedly saying ‘the instrumentation is incredible’ and ‘the vocals are great’ and ‘I love the lyrics’. While with some bands I would complain that this would make the album too boring and repetitive, I could listen to this style all day. FES manage to constantly keep it interesting and keep me on my toes. So instead, I feel like I just need to bring to attention the highlights and bits that I loved, as well as anything I feel less positive towards.

‘So So’ has some of the best lyrics I have heard in a very long time. The melancholy, stripped back instrumentation for it fits the theme perfectly, too. The drop-outs and dynamics in ‘Bruises’ were a lot of fun and had me genuinely questioning if my laptop was still working at times. Also, slower track ‘Black Eye’ was a nice change of pace at first after a rather upbeat first half of an album. And the proggy, slower outro was awesome.

‘Seethrough’ is a massive highlight of the album for me. The guitaring reminds me of early Newton Faulkner. The whole track just being that and vocals, alongside some ambient sounds to accompany, was really beautiful. I’m so glad it didn’t drop into the rest of the band. I was hoping for something much different to the rest of the album and this was exactly that. The lyrics are impactful and fantastic and it all pieces together perfectly. Playlisted!

My only very minor gripe with this album is that after the aforementioned track it does go back to the similar formula again. I know I had mentioned before that I could listen to this style all day and I most certainly can. But that isn’t to say it will hold my full attention forever. This is a fantastic album that I would recommend to absolutely anyone, but it was a hard one to sit down and review. I get distracted easily and no matter how fantastic an album is, if it is a lot of similarly great songs over and over, I find my mind wandering.

And yes, I know how hard it is to create different sounds with just three people in a sub-genre like this, so I don’t even have a solution. I guess I’m basically just saying ‘goddamn you guys for being so good at what you do!’. Maybe it’s just jealousy. Either way, the final three tracks are also stellar and ‘Washout’ is a fantastic way to close an album!

Overall: what more can I say that I haven’t already? It is an absolute masterclass in how to play the core rock instruments (including vocals). Also, the band have the incredible ability to portray such emotion, not just through the deeply person lyrics but through their delivery and the playing as well. It feels like this band could do absolutely any genre they wanted, they simply play this style as they enjoy it. One of the strongest debut albums I’ve heard in decades. And, before my professional jealousy creeps back in, I’m going to give this…

The Score: 9/10

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