Tag Archives: alternative music

New Music Mondays: All Time Low, Theory of a Deadman and More!

A slightly slower week for new music, but that doesn’t at all mean the quality is lower! Check out this weeks new albums with us!

All Time Low: Tell Me I’m Alive

For those old-school fans who just got excited from seeing the name, calm down just a little. Don’t go into this expecting to hear ‘Weightless’ or ‘Dear Maria’. It’s more like Panic! At The Disco, My Chemical Romance or even Twenty One Pilots. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not awesome.

The album’s opener and title track sets the tone perfectly, dark yet infectiously catchy and melodic. ‘Are You There?’ is probably the closest to their old sound, a fun pop-punk track filled with chunky guitar chords and a higher tempo. ‘Kill Ur Vibe’ also has a similar feel. Meanwhile ‘Calm Down’ is a great ballad. These weren’t the only good tracks on the album as I honestly liked so many of them. It felt different, a combination of a modern indie sound with a sprinkling of their heavy punk roots. My only ever so slight issue is that it maybe went on a tad too long. I found myself drained when trying to listen to it all the way through at once, it’s a lot of similar stuff. Still, 8.5/10, this was great!

Theory of a Deadman: Dinosaur

A band I was a big fan of in my teen years, I dropped off pretty hard with the release of Wake up Call in 2017. Their last two albums haven’t been my sort of thing at all. However, thank god, this gets the band back on track in a big way.

The album’s title and opening track is a little darker than their earlier more light hearted stuff, but is at least a straight up rock track and is massively catchy. ‘Medusa’ is an amazing slower rock track and a huge highlight. Tracks like ‘Get in Line’ and the country-ish ‘Head in the Clouds’ were also awesome.

It’s not all amazing. Their ‘Two of Us’ rendition was more cringy than anything else. And while the heaviness and riffs for ‘Ambulance’ was good, the lyrics and vocal melody had the same effect as the aforementioned track. ‘Hearts too Wild’ is also infuriating since there should be an apostrophe there. But that’s just my analness.

Overall, there’s more good than bad. It’s a fun collection of songs that bring the band closer towards their rocky roots again. A few tracks made our playlist and I’ll be listening to it a fair bit going forward, I’m sure. 7.5/10

Kamelot: The Awakening

We’ve already reviewed this power metal awesomeness. Check it out here.

Chelsea Grin: Suffer in Heaven

The second part of the band’s two part Suffer series, we gave Suffer in Hell a 7.5/10 (find here). Does part two live up to that standard?

Well, it’s certainly just as heavy. It’s the king of music I feel like I’d appreciate live more than on track, where I can bounce around and feel the heaviness and emotion. However, there are still elements and tracks here that I love. ‘Orc March’ in particular is incredible, showing plenty of layers and dynamics when featuring Filth. And it feels the most modern deathcore track on the album, drawing clear inspiration from Lorna Shore’s ‘To The Hellfire’ with the outro. ‘The Mind of God’ is also SUPER heavy and I love it.

Overall, while some of it isn’t quite my thing, it’s a damn good part two to the pair of albums. It’s insanely heavy at times, and while it doesn’t ease up really at all, it’s only eight tracks and under half an hour so never felt like a slog. Another 7.5/10 from me!

Pop Evil: Skeletons

Another band that I’ve loved from my teen years, it’s insane that Pop Evil are on album six. It makes me feel old.

The album itself it’s pretty great too. It’s a little heavier than I was expecting, with a few growls and breakdown riffs sprinkled in for good measure. Still though, there’s enough radio-friendly, stadium filling melodies and huge choruses to keep everyone happy. It almost reminds me of a lighter, hard rock version of something like Sempiternal; heaviness contrasting perfectly with pop melodies. Tracks like ‘Eye of the Storm’, ballad ‘Worth it’ and the heavy, Fit For A King featuring ‘Dead Reckoning’ are all massive highlights of the album.

I’m loving this heavier slant the band have taken in recent years, and the guests added perfectly to that. Some of the tracks are up there with my favourites from the band, so anything less than a 8.5/10 would be insane!

The Answer: Sundowners

We treated you this week with a second big review, this time of Irish hard rockers The Answer. Read it here!

John Diva & The Rockets of Love: The Big Easy

The band have come out of nowhere in recent years, this being their third and in only four years. They are very much a throwback to the sleazy LA strip of the 80s, be it Bon Jovi, Whitesnake or Night Ranger. It also reminded me a LOT of E’Nuff Z’Nuff, it has a similar stomping rhythm and huge, harmony filled choruses. Tracks like the title one, ‘Runaway Train’ and ‘Boys Don’t Play with Dolls’ are all amazing and big highlights. However, the whole album is great, there isn’t a bad track on it.

Much like the Trench Dogs album a few weeks ago, this is an amazing slower, punkier sleaze album. It’ll be staying in heavy rotation for me, I’m sure! 8/10

Doug Paisley: Say What You Like

Finishing off this week on some country, the Canadian’s sixth full-length album is a fun one. It’s pretty simple and stripped-back, being little more than some clean guitars, simple drums and bass and Doug’s great vocals. It really highlights his strengths and man, this feels like a ‘proper’ country album. It’s something I could hear Hank Jr and that generation putting out. It’s chilled out and a really relaxing album to listen to. ‘Wide Open Plain’ was my favourite, but honestly if you like country or more lighter stuff, I’d recommend the entire album in a heartbeat. And at only 40-minutes in length, it’s not too long for a country album too! 8/10

The Awakening: A Bold Return Album from Kamelot!

It’s rare seeing an American power metal band. Tampa isn’t the sort of place you’d associate with the epic norse/medieval feel of the genre. However, Kamelot have been towards the top of the pack in the genre for decades. Having released their 13th album on Friday, we’ve had this for a few days and have definitely had it cranked out loud throughout the office. Check out what we thought!

After a brief orchestral intro track the album explodes into power metal life with a huge riff to open ‘The Great Divide’. It’s a huge sound and riff but it eases off a little for the verses. It was a good touch as the orchestral elements filled out the sound perfect. It builds to a huge chorus, catchy melodies from just about every instrument and vocal going on throughout it. We get an amazing guitar solo after the second chorus. My only issue is that it was too short, I’d have happily had it run twice as long. Then a huge double chorus takes us home. This was a good track and a perfect album opener for fans not as familiar with the band. It was a standard structure and formula and set the stage well.

‘Eventide’ is more of the same, a heavy riff packed full of great strings and bass drum work. Soaring vocals through the choruses and another great guitar solo are more highlights of the track. Meanwhile ‘One more Flag in the Ground’ opens on an almost Egyptian feel with the guitar chord progression and vocals. The vocal runs through the intro riff also reminded me a little of Iron Maiden’s more recent work. The verse also reminds me a bit of some of Dream Theater’s heavier stuff, it had big ‘Panic Attack’ vibes. The chorus is catchy and the lyrics were pretty fun and uplifting. The heavier bridge was also a lot of fun, a highlight of the track, as was the insane outro solo. It’s an amazing song and easily makes our playlist!

Check out more power metal here.

The longest track on the album, ‘Opus of the Night Ghost’, teases a slower open before immediately slapping the listener with another heavy, similar-tempoed riff. The Dream Theater vibes are back, but the vocal melody throughout felt pretty Muse-y; the high notes were impressive. It dropping down to the orchestral elements and drums for the bridge was fun, building back up through a fantastic violin and guitar solo. The slower, piano led outro was nice, too.

Said outro lead very nicely into the slower, very medieval sounding intro to ‘Midsummer’s Eve’. It was nice to hear a bit of variety as Tommy Karevik sounds amazing over the top of the beautiful piano and strings. It stays as a simple, beautiful ballad throughout too, which was a great choice, especially for around the midpoint of the album. It’s the perfect, emotional slower track for a power metal band. Great stuff.

The pace picks back up with ‘Bloodmoon’, but the acoustic guitar and strings to open was a nice, fresh touch. It’s a catchy song and one of my favourite on the album. However, much like ‘NightSky’, ‘The Looking Glass’ and ‘New Babylon’, it’s simply straight up, slightly-formulaic power metal. There’s nothing wrong with that, with the latter track being awesome and a massive highlight of the album. It’s simply hard to write about a lot of similar songs.

‘Willow’ is another beautiful piano led ballad. The vocals again fit so well over the piano, giving off big Matt Bellemy vibes. The strings added so much depth and beauty to the track too, complimenting everything perfectly. The rest of the band coming in from the second chorus was a fantastic choice too, the heaviness coming in but not overpowering the emotion. Heck, even the solo complimented it, feeling very Slash. It’s another great track.

The final full track on the album, ‘My Pantheon’, feels like a real culmination of everything that’s come before it. A slow piano intro, a huge, heavy riff, plenty of symphonic and string elements, it draws everything together perfectly. It’s also one of the best, catchiest choruses on the album. Plus, the harsh vocals in the bridge were amazing, and I wish we’d got them more throughout the album. Then we get taken home by a beautiful orchestral outro track, ‘Ephemera’.

Overall: This was pretty great. While it didn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel, it was a fun, very well written power/symphonic metal album. There are a number of standout tracks, from heavy anthems to ballads, and there isn’t a bad song among them! I’ll definitely be listening to this album a fair bit over the coming months.

The Score: 7.5/10

New Music Mondays: Periphery, Suicide Silence and More!

Another big week for new music, with plenty of metal and country for us to dive into!

Periphery: Periphery V: Djent is Not a Genre

…It’s a state of mind. The godfathers of Djent denouncing their own identifier was a bold move, but it has definitely gotten people talking so has clearly paid off. They’re a band that have always lay on the… well… periphery of my listening; I have friends who are big fans (guitarists, no surprise there) but I haven’t ever found something to get me into them personally.

I have to admit, some of this came close to changing my mind. While ‘Wildfire’ didn’t do a whole lot for me, ‘Atropos’ was kinda great. The dynamics in the track were a lot of fun and kept it constantly interesting and building. I’m also one of the seemingly few people who love Spencer Sotelo’s vocals so tracks like ‘Wax Wings’ and ‘Thanks Nobuo’. Heck, I know a lot of die-hard fans are complaining back ‘Silhouette’, but honestly it was one of my favourite tracks on the album. It felt like an uplifting Linkin Park-style track, and it was beautiful.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all for me. There were definitely tracks that simply didn’t do anything to keep me interested or entertained. However, this was definitely the most I’ve found myself enjoying Periphery. 7.5/10

Suicide Silence: Remember… You Must Die

Last year’s deathcore revival seems to be continuing head at full steam into this year, and genre OGs Suicide Silence carry their torch close to their chest still with this amazing offering. The aggression, speed and heaviness of their early albums is just as prevalent here as they deliver 40-minutes of pure anger. ‘Capable of Violence’ is my favourite on the album, packed full of brutal riffs and screams. However, tracks like ‘Kill Forever’ and ‘Alter of Self’ are also amazing tracks.

Considering I’m still dipping my toes into the super heavy stuff, I really enjoyed this. I need to go back and give their older stuff another listen! 8/10

Meet Me @ the Alter: Past // Present // Future

The most bubblegum pop-punk to ever be. In fact, punk is an overestimation. It’s generic pop rock; think old Avril or whatever MGK and that ilk are putting out on mainstream radio these days.

It’s fine. For the genre being played there is nothing wrong with it, they’re good at writing and playing it. It’s just such a bland, overplayed, overproduced style of music that it bored me to tears. I hate the over pronunciation of the ‘pop-punk voice’ throughout, and honestly the lyrics for tracks like ‘Kool’, ‘Need Me’ and ‘It’s Over for Me’ made me cringe almost out of my skin.

Look, if you like this, that’s all good. I’m sure there are more than a few people out there who thing this is the best thing since sliced bread. As I said before, the band themselves are all talented. The style itself now just bores the fuck out of me. And just watch the video below, it’s so very cringe. 2.5/10

Nanowar of Steel: Dislike to False Metal

We’ve already covered this awesome album. Find our full review here!

The Cold Stares: Voices

The sixth album by the hard rock Indiana natives is full of chunky, swaggering blues riffs and lots of catchy vocals. Opener ‘Nothing But the Blues’ is a fantastic track and the perfect way to introduce anyone to the band. ‘Lights Out’ is a riff-filled belter. Tracks like ‘It’s Heavy’ and the title one are massive highlights too. However, don’t let that take away from the rest of the album. There isn’t a bad track on it, and it’s arranged perfectly too. I listened to it all through in one sitting and it didn’t at all feel like 13 tracks at nearly 45-minutes. It’s some of the best blues I’ve heard in so long. 9/10

Matt Andersen: The Big Bottle of Joy

Country-soul-blues boy Matt Andersen is back with his ninth studio album. I fucking love it. Regardless of the lyrical content, music like this just puts a smile on my face. From the bluesy riffs to the keys/organ filling out the sound to the gospel choir call-and-response vocals, it’s all so good. GET IT IN MY VEINS. It’s clear how talented Matt is as a songwriter and player too, as the songs are masterfully crafted and his blues guitar solos are phenomenal. The rest of the band are up there too in terms of talent, with everyone playing their parts perfectly.

Tracks like ‘Let it Slide’, ‘What’s on my Mind’ and ‘Aurora’ are massive highlights of an album full of them. If you’re into the slower, more relaxed stuff this is definitely for you. I’m going to be having this on a lot over the coming months, whenever I want something easy listening on. 8.5/10

Otherwise: Gawdzillionaire

This slab of hard rock has so many different elements blended together. A basis of early 2000s radio rock (think Shinedown or Shaman’s Harvest) but with some more attitude, a splash of hip-hop influence and even a touch of Imagine Dragons. Opener and lead single ‘Full Disclosure’ is clear highlight of the album, and a very good choice of placement. Tracks like ‘New Way to Hate’, ‘Hollywood Minute’ and the title track are all amazing too. The latter in particular featuring rapper Ekoh was a great blend of genres that will do well in the current rock climate.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not perfect. The same formula throughout got a little boring after the title track. They did slow down a little in a couple of tracks in the back end of the album, but said tracks ended up sounding more like modern day MGK or You Me At Six which didn’t didn’t do much for me. And, for whatever reason, a few tracks just felt like they were missing something. I know that sounds super vague and hypocritical being a musician myself and not being able to be specific, but I can’t put my finger on it at all. A few of the tracks just lack that ‘it’ that the singles do.

However, overall, there is still a lot more positives than negatives. It’s insane that this is the band’s sixth album and this is the first I’m hearing of them. They definitely have a new fan in me! 8/10

Isole: Anesidora

The Swedish band are described as ‘epic doom metal’ which has to be one of the coolest things ever. The description is pretty apt, too. Sounding like a mixture of Celtic Frost and Dream Theater, it was definitely epic and doomy. Due to the style, it’s hard to pick a highlight track or two from the album. Especially at only seven tracks and over 45-minutes. But it feels more like an experience, something you should shut yourself in a dark room and sit down and just listen to through from start to finish. So, that was exactly what I did, and it was excellent. These guys are at the top of their game from a technical and songwriting standpoint, and my god would I loved to see this whole album live. 7.5/10

The War And Treaty: Lover’s Game

The blues/country rock husband and wife duo released their fourth album this last Friday. It opens very strong on ‘Lover’s Game’, a fantastic up-tempo blues number. It slows up for a bit after. If fact, it never really picks up to the same pace again. Not that that’s an issue. Both Michael and Tanya have some of the best voices in the entire business at the minute, and it’s on full display on tracks like ‘That’s How Love is Made’ and ‘Dumb Luck’. It’s mighty impressive, and so great to listen to.

Having said that, as phenomenal as the rest of the album is from a vocal and songwriting standpoint, it would have been nice to have more of a rock track in amongst the other nine songs. I still loved it and marvelled at the soulfulness of it all, but I’m a sucker for a good up-tempo blues number, as seen in my Matt Andersen review! 8/10, but a rock song would have put it much higher!

For the Fallen Dreams: Self-Titled

Somehow this metalcore band have put out seven albums and been completely off my radar until now. It’s a shame too, as these guys are fantastic. From the heavy opener of ‘RE-Animate’ to slower tracks like ‘Without You’, it’s got plenty of great tracks and variety. There’s also a hip-hop element to tracks like ‘What If’ and ‘Testify’, adding a great element to it and sounding a little Linkin Park at times.

It’s another solid album without a bad track on it and plenty of highlights, including the tracks mentioned above and the wonderfully heavy ‘Sulfate’. It’s a very modern metalcore sound, reminding me a lot of Bad Omens or Patient Sixty-Seven. 7.5/10, good stuff!

Eddie & the Wolves, Confyde and Velvet Queens Rock the Tap & Tumbler!

Three of a large collection of bands in the Nottinghamshire area vying for the chance to play the legendary Bloodstock festival. Playing at one of the best venues in the city, the three bands competed in the Metal 2 the Masses opening round, with only one having the chance to advance.

First on were the best band who ever existed. Although they were a member down due to illness, Eddie & the Wolves rocked the place. Swaggering blues riffs dripping with attitude and a huge sound for just the three of them, the band knew how to pack a punch. Rattling through some of the highlights of their debut album, alongside single ‘Bad Touch’ and even a rendition of ‘Whole Lotta Love’, it was a fun set. Of course it could not have been done without the exceptional playing of bassist Joe Griffiths, truly a visionary of our time.

Next up were the proggy metallers Confyde. Being a mixture between Alter Bridge and Gojira, this writer loved it. The riffs were INSANE and a huge highlight, but the vocals were amazing too, soring high as well as hitting some powerful notes. It was also the heavyiest, most metal band on the line-up, which was awesome to hear. All four of them were fantastic at what they do, I was jealous of all of them for their talent.

The final band of the evening were Lincolnshire’s own Velvet Queens. We were familiar with them already, having first seen them and interviewed them at Call of the Wild last year. (Check out the review here). Since last May they have gotten even better. Their unique brand of sleaze is a lot of fun, and the guys were clearly enjoying themselves up on stage. Their cover of ‘School of Rock’ is always a lot of fun, but their own music sounded just as good.

It was a hugely stiff competition, with all three bands bringing the fire. With the three judges at a tie, it came down to an audience vote, and the amazing Confyde came away victorious. A well deserved win in front of a packed hometown crowd felt almost poetic.

We had the chance to speak to frontman Martin after the show and they had this to say:

‘Confyde had an absolute blast playing our M2TM heat! Every band played a blinder to a packed out room and everyone seemed to be having a wicked time. Our material and setlist is usually very eclectic, with a lot of ebb & flow with different styles. It was a nice change to just bust out the heaviest songs we have, including the new song “Scalper”!

So thankful to everyone who came out to see and vote for us, not to mention Mangata Music and the Tap n Tumbler for having us. We’re stoked as hell for the semi-final 🤘🏻’

The Metal 2 the Masses competition runs annually and is continuing every weekend through until the end of April. Find more details of it here.

Written by Joe Griffiths

New Music Mondays: Enslaved, Trench Dogs and Much More!

A quiet yet busy week of new music featuring a lot of variety. Let’s dive straight into it all!

Enslaved: Heimdal

The Norwegians are not your typical extreme metal band. Even though the sub-genre is typically one of the most experimental of the heavier side of metal, the band definitely throw a lot of different styles and parts into their music that makes it an interesting listen, at the very listen. Clean vocals contrast incredibly with the screams, slower riffing and even clean guitars against crunchy, heavy, faster distortion.

Their 16th album is no different. I’ve personally always found the genre fascinating and these and Cradle of Filth are always my go-tos with it, so I was hoping for a lot here. It most certainly delivered. Heck, opener ‘Behind the Mirror’ perfectly encapsulates what I am on about, showing off their range of styles and songwriting. And it just continues to get better from there. Single ‘Congelia’ is a proggier masterpiece while other single ‘Kingdom’ has one of my favourite riffs of the year running through it. Meanwhile the sludgy, proggy closing and title track is one of my favourite tracks in the genre, it’s that good.

This is an awesome album. If you are into your heavier or more epic stuff at all, you HAVE to check this out. 9/10

Trench Dogs: Stockholmiana

The Swedish glam-punk band returned with their sophomore album this last Friday. It’s a fun, surprisingly fresh sound, and a fun, enjoyable album. I honestly am struggling to say much about it, the whole album is just solid sleazy rock. None of it stood out above or below the other, it was just all pretty great. Heck, it was SUPER hard to even pick which tracks would end up on our playlist, as I loved them all. I guess you’ll just have to click here to see for yourselves which made the cut…

I feel like I’d absolutely love this band live, and really hope they come to the UK soon. Their songwriting is clearly off the charts and on full display throughout the album. It’s all super catchy and fun an incredible blend of light-hearted and self-loathing-drenched punk. 9/10, this was amazing and I’ll be listening to it a lot in the coming months! However, I have noticed that wine to Trench Dogs is what California is to Red Hot Chili Peppers…

Can’t Swim: Thanks but No Thanks

The post-punk band are on their fourth album already, not bad going for a band just over seven years old. Said forth album is maybe their best yet, in this humble writer’s opinion, too. It’s an incredibly interesting listen, having they typical pop-punk catchy, clean vocals and melodies, while also having a few screams in here and an overall pretty dark feel and tone. Opener ‘Nowhere, Ohio’ is a perfect track in the genre and an amazing way to open the album for newer fans. ‘me vs me vs all of y’all’ and ‘ELIMINATE’ are also highlight tracks (even if the capitalisation throughout was making me uncomfortable). It’s another album without any bad tracks, too. 7.5/10, good stuff!

Blak29: The Waiting

We’ve already reviewed this awesome slab of rock music. Check it out here!

Morgan Wallen: One Thing at a Time

Oh yeah, country time. Firstly, Morgan is clearly trying to kill me. 36 tracks and nearly two hours in length. That’s too long for even a double album, let alone a single one. It’s a MASSIVE issue in country, in my opinion, and this is the worst example I have seen yet. I haven’t even listened to it yet and I can already tell I’m going to get bored within the first ten tracks. There’s no quality control when the album is this long, the weaker songs aren’t cut, it’s just everything thrown in. Don’t get me wrong, in the day and age of individual track streams paying, I get it. But that doesn’t mean I like it.

Now that I’ve finished with my rant… I was right. Tracks like ‘Everything I Love’ and ’98 Braves’ are great, don’t get me wrong. But they’re all pretty similar and after the first 30 minutes I’d had enough. I powered through the album of course, because I had to. ‘In the Bible’ is a good track because it involves HARDY (check out our review of his top album of the year here) so of course it was. ‘Thought You Should Know’ and ‘Money on Me’ are pretty decent ballads. But this could have easily been 20+ tracks shorter. There is a lot of filler when nothing needed filling. 3/10 overall. The tracks I’ve named are good, as are others, but in the grand scheme of things it was not a fun listen.

Haken: Fauna

More prog now, yet a little less heavy this time. I’m very much in two minds with it, though. The heavy riffs and general instrumentation is great. And for the most part the vocals were fine, but the actual melodies themselves generally didn’t do much for me. I know prog is hardly radio friendly, but there was very little along the way of memorable hooks throughout the album.

I actually found my rule for the album pretty quick. If it started steady and got heavy for the chorus, a la ‘The Alphabet of Me’, I’ll love it. However, if it starts heavy and then goes up and down every 30 seconds it doesn’t do much for me. The aforementioned track, though, is by far my favourite on the album. The almost Porcupine Tree-esque stripped back verses contrast perfectly with the massive chorus.

Overall it’s a very up and down for me. I feel like it’ll grow on me with more listens, but for now 6.5/10 sounds about right. It’s more good than bad, but it’s a little up and down.

Tragedy: I Am Woman

We wouldn’t normally review a full-on parody album, but these guys are signed to Napalm, and they’re fucking fantastic, so we’re going to. Disco works surprisingly well when combined with metal music, and this may be some of their best work yet. Their take on Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’ is incredible and has so many different layers to it. Their cover of the James Bond classic ‘Goldfinger’ is awesome, as is ‘Respect’ featuring the insanely talented Marcy Harriell. If you’re a fan of disco, metal or just fun in general, check this out. You will not be disappointed. 9/10

Entheos: Time WIll Take us All

The tech death supergroup are back with their first album in over half a decade, and it’s just as insane as you’d expect it. It’s heavy, chaotic brilliance and it’s so hard to pick just one of two tracks to be a highlight. The opener is incredible, as is ‘I Am the Void’ and slower closer ‘Time Will Take us All’. It’s definitely another album for the heavier fans, but damn, this was good. 8/10

The Waiting: A Bold New Step for Dark Punk?

Blak29 are back with their second album and first in nearly seven years. Featuring members of Danzig, 69 Eyes and Type O Negative, they have plenty of experience and expertise. Let’s see if they can pull it off, shall we?

Opening the album on a simple drum beat, a punk riff soon builds in over the top of ‘Blackout’. The highlight of it is actually the subtle keys in the back, giving it a great driving force and adding a layer of menace to it. The punk vibe continues through the verse as the great vocals come in over the top. The chorus is simple yet massively catchy. It’d go down fantastically live. It’s also very easy to hear the Danzig connections, it’s definitely in that similar, Misfits style. Not much else to say about the track but it was definitely awesome. A great way to open the album!

‘Destroyer’ opens on a VERY punk bass and drum line. It’s very clearly a tribute, their own take on The Kinks’ ‘All Day and All of the Night’, and it’s done in a fantastically fun way. Heck, the over-the-top spoken word at the start is amazing, giving off big ‘Time Warp’ vibes. The gang vocals for the choruses was a nice touch, making it even catchier, and the lead guitar lines in between were also good. The whole track is a lot of fun and easily makes our playlist!

A heavier, sludgier feel runs through ‘Waiting for the Sun to go Down’, feeling more like a Rob Zombie track than anything else. The darker sound fit the mood of the track and lyrics perfectly. The slower chorus was great, definitely marking this as a metal track rather than a punk one. I can’t get over how good the multiple vocals sound on the choruses, it making everything sound massive every time. The vocals in general are a massive highlight on this track, sounding a little Layne Staley as well as Rob. I LOVED this. It’s another huge highlight of the album and another to easily make the playlist.

‘Go Go Little One’ picks back up the pace and punk edge again, feeling almost Wildhearts in its delivery. The bouncy, upbeatness was a nice, fun change of pace again. The album does a great job of keeping the listener on their toes, mixing up plenty of different styles so as not to get bored and bogged down with a lot of the same. The track is just as good as the others so far, catchy and very entertaining!

‘End of Days’ is a dark, plodding and subdued punky number. It’s heavily bass led and builds into a huge chorus with some massive distorted guitars. It gives off Wednesday 13 vibes as well as the usual Danzig ones. Meanwhile ‘Of Love Of Hate Of Pain’ is much like ‘Go Go…’ in it’s faster punk approach. ‘Bleeding Love’ is somewhere in the middle of the two, having a heavy, sludgy feel to it and reminding me a little of some of The Cult’s heavier stuff. I think it’s some of the vocal inflections, they sound very Ian Astbury!

The album’s title track is the most out there track so far, giving off even more Cult vibes as it’s a slow, stripped back song. A simple beat, bassline and guitar line accentuate the vocals well. It leads to some catchy, powerful vocals and an awesome guitar solo in the middle. The wah was done perfectly and it builds amazingly into a final chorus. This is another track that easily makes our playlist!

Check out something similar here.

‘Don’t Mind the Pain’ brings back the dark punk energy and sounds possibly the closest to Danzig that I’ve heard so far. It’s probably due to more awesome backing vocals in the chorus, making everything sound so powerful. It’s a great, catchy track on an album full of them!

‘I’m Screaming But Nobody’s Here’ is the ballad of the album, but almost takes a turn into folk/Americana music. It’s slow and epic, building through some distorted guitar here and there but generally staying stripped back. Honestly I thought it would explode into a big heavy rock song throughout but it never did. I actually really like that it stayed simple, being completely different to the rest of the album and again feeling fresh. What a great track! It almost felt like it should have been the closing track, as as good as ‘Long Cool Woman’ is as a track, it felt similar to some of the others. Still, both are good songs and the closer feels like it pulls together elements of every other track, rounding things out nicely.

Overall: This was awesome! Considering I hadn’t heard of the band before, they definitely have a new fan in me! It modernised an old sound perfectly and there really wasn’t a back track on the album. Hopefully the band tour the UK soon as I’d love to see them!

The Score: 8.5/10

New Music Mondays: Godsmack, Steel Panther and More!

A big week of new music this week with a bit of everything! Let’s waste no time and jump right in!

Godsmack: Lighting up the Sky

The nu metal/radio rock band’s final full length album, according to frontman Sully Erna, dropped on Friday. I’ve been a pretty big fan of the band since first hearing their music in The Scorpion King as a child, despite the somewhat mixed reception they’ve had in recent years. I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed every album they’ve put out, though some more than others. Either way, I’ve been excited for this one for a while.

I mean, it was a’ight. Single ‘You and I’ is one of the worst album openers I’ve heard in a while. It’s not an inherently bad song, but a mid-tempo, blues stomper by a band typically heavier and more attitude-filled wasn’t the right call to open with. Following track ‘Red, White & Blue’ would have made a lot better an opener. The lyrics are a tad cringy for a non-American, but it’s a definite highlight of the album non the less. Lead single ‘Surrender’ is a pretty decent track too!

However, the later the album went on, the more tired it felt. ‘Truth’ was a beautiful, piano-led ballad that’s another highlight, but a lot of the rest felt like typical, formulaic Godsmack. Tracks like ‘Hell’s Not Dead’ and ‘Let’s Go’ are fun, but none of it felt fresh or new at all. I loved their last couple of albums but this is easily their weakest since The Oracle or even IV. There are some good tracks on this but it’s not as solid an album as I’m used to from the band. It’s all pretty slow and tired. Part of me hopes they do one more to go out with a bang, but then another part hopes they finish with just a little gas left in the tank. 6.5/10, though that may go up as it feels a little harsh.

Steel Panther: On the Prowl

Sorry fanthers, but this is probably going to be harsh too. It’s no secret that the joke wore out its welcome quite a while ago, and I even tried to cling on longer than most. All You Can Eat was pushing it but still had some great tracks, while everything after that has just made me cringe. It isn’t even the fact that it’s immature, but that the writing has gotten much more on-the-nose and far less clever. Compare the lyrics of ‘Friends with Benefits’ to something like ‘Community Property’ or ‘Turn Out the Lights’ and the writing really feels like it’s taken a hit. It’s the most basic toilet and sex humour now, there’s not even the slight nuance that the first couple of albums had.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad. ‘On Your Instagram’ is an entertaining ballad that felt surprisingly cleverly written. And I agree with the general consensus that ‘1987’ is the best thing the band have released in years. When they’re not trying to push crass innuendos into every line, their talent shines through a lot more. Everything else felt cheep and boring after almost a decade and a half of the same shit. And it’s a shame too, as Satchel and Styxx are both phenomenal players that feel a little wasted in the band.

I found myself getting bored quick after ‘1987’, and for that reason I can’t give it any more than 4/10


The Japanese metal women are ready to take the whole world by storm with their fourth album. Right out of the gate the band slaps you with some insane power/thrash in the form of ‘We Are the Resurrection’ and the band don’t let up once from that point. The band are all unbelievably talented at what they do, with all of them working their asses off in every track.

Don’t get me wrong, the vocals aren’t going to be to everyone’s tastes, but I enjoyed them enough that they didn’t ruin the songs. My only ever so slight gripe is that they really do go balls to the wall for close to an hour. It would have been nice to have had a slightly slower track in the middle somewhere to break up the pace and show some diversity. Still, it’s filled with awesome tracks and gets an easy 8/10 from us!

Dierks Bentley: Gravel & Gold

Country time again! I forgot quite how long Dierks had been going until typing up this article, his first release coming back in ’03 and this being his 10th. Almost all of his work is fantastic, too.

This was no exception. After the radio-country-rock hit the album opens on with ‘Same Ol’ Me’, ‘Sun Sets in Colorado’ is a fantastic traditional country track, complete with plenty of great fiddle. We get a few more slower moodier before ‘Beer at my Funeral’ picks up the tone and fun up a little. Then there’s the huge single ‘Gold’ which deserves all the listens and high praise that it has already and then some, it’s amazing. ‘All the Right Places’ and album closer ‘High Note’ are also massive highlights of the album. The latter in particular with it’s acoustic jam for an over two-minute outro was fucking awesome.

The album suffered a little from the country thing of too many songs/too long. It’s 14 tracks at 51-minutes. However, the quality was that high and there was enough variety in here that I didn’t really feel the length as much this time. 8.5/10, great stuff!

Dope: Blood Money Part Zer0

Industrial/nu metal early 2000s titans Dope return with their first new album since 2016. Someone needs to teach the band how to count, as part zero should definitely come before part 1 (yes, I know it’s a ‘subtle’ reference to Edzel’s tenure in Static X, let me be ‘funny’). I don’t think I’ve checked out Part 1, but up until that album I’ve enjoyed the band’s output. Hopefully this is the same!

Opener ‘No Respect’ is the most Dope thing I’ve ever heard, and it’s excellent. ‘Believe’ and ‘Best of Me’ didn’t do much for me but ‘Choke’ was awesome, as was ‘Dead World’, ‘Fuck it Up’ and ‘Parasite’. I also didn’t really like the two tracks with Drama Club, ‘Misery’ and ‘Lovesong’. Both felt a little reigned in and boring compared to what I enjoy from the band.

The main issue a lot will have with this album is how long it’s taken to arrive and how many tracks we’ve heard already. Out of the 12 tracks on the album, nine were released prior, leaving just three brand new, never before heard songs. I haven’t been keeping a massively close eye on the band in recent months so had only heard a few, but it must be annoying for hardcore fans of the band to get so much before its release.

Overall, the good tracks did outweigh the meh, but it wasn’t as good as it felt like it could have been. Somehow, even though it was only 43-minutes long, it felt bloated. Then again, that has been a bit of an issue with the band for a while now. 7/10, it was good, but still could have been better!

Hong Faux: Desolation Years

We’ve already covered this one. Find it here!

Lucero: Should’ve Learned By Now

Country-punk isn’t something I thought existed or that I thought I’d type today. However, I’m happy with both, as this is great. It takes my favourite parts of bands like Social Distortion and even Rancid and adds a country twang to it that I didn’t even know I needed in my life. I’m struggling to even pick out a highlight track or three. Yes, it’s all fairly similar, but it’s all so good. The opening couple of tracks are straight up slower punk, while ‘She Leads Me’ and ‘Raining for Weeks’ take more of a country turn.

Honestly, if you’re into the more relaxed side of punk, country or rock, this is for you. 38-minutes flew by and I wanted more by the time it was over. They have a new huge fan in me, and I’mma have to go back and check out their older stuff ASAP. 9/10

Ropemaker: Interwoven

It’s not often we get to check out instrumental music, which is a shame because it’s always technically flawless. This was no exception, the Irish lot’s debut album being a heavy, deathcore/djenty masterclass. Due to the instrumental nature of the music, it’s so hard to pick a highlight track. I do have to commend them too, as at only eight tracks and under 35-minutes in length, it just about managed to hold my attention throughout. Much longer and I’d have gotten a bit bored, but as it stands I loved this! 8/10


Described as dark Americana, I’ve found yet another new sub-genre I love this week! It definitely still has an indie and pop edge to it, but the simplicity and emotion throughout is fantastic. Plus, the bass really reminded me of Flea, which is always a huge plus. Tracks like ‘Carrion Cry’ and ‘A Proper Icarus’ are personal highlights, but the whole album is awesome. Music like this is huge right now and with the right push this album could put VOLORES at the top of the scene quickly. It’s chilled out yet emotional, simple yet massively talented. 8.5/10

King Abyss: Snake Oil

Time for some thrash to finish off the week. The debut album is a surprising masterclass in speed, aggression and awesome metal. Honestly I felt like I was transported back to my spotty teenage years listening to nothing but heavy thrash, and this is some of the best of the genre I have heard in so long. Some of the lead guitar is honestly mind-blowing, and everyone else did just as amazingly at their respective parts. And, just when I was going to complain about it be similar, we get the Metallica-esque masterpeice that is ‘Disdain’. It’s a ballsy move putting a more ballady track track just four songs into a debut thrash album, but it was a perfect placement and a perfect track. I cannot gush over it enough.

Tracks like the opener and ‘A Short Drop and a Sudden Stop’ also make out playlist but honestly this whole album is phenomenal. If you’re into thrash or death metal or even metalcore, check this shit out. 9/10

Desolation Years: Genre-Benders Hong Faux Return with Album Three!

Hong Faux have been plugging away at the underground scene for over a decade now, getting one hell of a solid discography behind them. Their hard-to-place sound has done them brilliantly, letting them transition through different styles of rock seamlessly, as well as share the stage with a lot of different names. After having discovered them last years thanks to their remastered self-titled album, I’ve been excited for this. Let’s dive in!

A heavy blues/indie riff opens up the album and ‘Wake me up for Exit’. It immediately gave off Royal Blood/Highly Suspect vibes, that dirty, grungy, heavy pop rock sound. I Love it. It also has an epic, grandiose feel to it throughout, meaning that everything about it is catchy as anything. A cool bridge riff comes in after the second chorus, the drummer working overtime with some excellent fills. Then we get a stripped back chorus before a big epic one takes us home. The chorus almost has a touch of AOR to it, Night Ranger/Poison influences maybe? The outro is back to the heavy riff and finishes off the track excellently. A fantastic way to open an album, it’ll have anyone hooked from the get go!

A slower, lighter riff leads ‘Fornever’, it having more of a blues rock feel to it. The sound again gets massive for the chorus, it going into indie anthem territory. It’s a stadium-filling melody and sound if I’ve ever heard one. The lyrics are pretty great here too, I have to say. Between them and the vocal melody it almost gives it a folky rock vibe to it, think Frank Turner or The Lumineers. It’s a seriously great radio track and I’m shocked it wasn’t a single, if I’m honest!

‘Zero Point’ catches me off guard again with yet another different style. It opens straight into vocals and a guitar chord progression, sounding like a combination of RHCP and Stereophonics. The slow, stripped back pace was amazing and the vocals fit over the top so well. That high note heading towards the chorus is fantastic. Said chorus again gets a bit fuller sounding, the guitars still staying massively Frusciante and providing an amazing backdrop for the stellar vocals. A heavier bridge riff comes in and is exactly what this track needed, enhancing it somehow even more. Honestly, I cannot gush over this track enough. It’s awesome, and makes our playlist!

Single ‘Trains’ opens on a basic drumbeat, setting the pace and tone pretty well. It’s a darker slow track though, and the chorus is a fun, heavier section. Overall though, I have to admit it didn’t do much for me. I enjoyed the feel and style of it, but the track itself felt a little meh.

Check out a similar review here.

‘New Vegas’ felt a little more my speed, it being a bit more of an up-tempo rock song. The main riff gave everything a slight punk feel and the bounciness of the drums and vocals was infectious. It’s another simple structured track like the opening two, but it’s another enjoyable indie track! ‘Desolation Years’ feels like another UK-indie style rock ballad, giving me Oasis or Arctic Monkeys vibes. It was, much like the previous track, a darker track, but still had a big chorus. The highlight of the track for me though was the outro chorus, everything culminating perfectly.

The acapella chorus to open ‘Disco Necropolis’ was genius, especially when it’s followed up by a metal riff. The track feels completely different to any other on the album so far and it does it wonders. It borrows heavily from the good Muse tracks, and I can’t get enough of it. The chorus is very Muse too, from the vocal melody to the harmonies. It also had just enough Queen in the arrangement to keep me guessing throughout. I LOVED this. My favourite track on the album and it easily makes the playlist!

‘Parasite’ is another Royal Blood style heavier indie rock track, something Hong Faux do very well. Meanwhile the other single, ‘Starkiller’, feels a lot like ‘Zero Point’. However, as good as ‘Starkiller’ is, I did prefer the other track just a little bit. Still though, ‘Starkiller’ is another fantastic lighter track filled with awesome melodies and a huge chorus.

I really did like ‘Whitman, Price _ Haddad’, though. It again reminded me of Stereophonics, but the heavier, rockier, punkier earlier stages of their career. The track’s a combination of ‘Bartender and the Thief’ and ‘Own Worst Enemy’, which I loved. It almost feels redundant at this point to say but again, it’s massively catchy, both through the verses and choruses. It’s a fantastic heavier track and yet another that jumps on our playlist!

Closing track ‘The Flood’ feels like the perfect culmination of everything this album had put together before it. Opening on a blusey riff and some great vocals, it builds to a light, massively catchy anthemic chorus. It’s blues, it’s indie, and it even gets a little heavier at the end for the outro. Now, I’m talking Kings of Leon/Biffy Clyro heavy, but it fit the track well. And it’s the best use of a fade out I’ve heard in a closing track in years. A good way to close a damn good album.

Overall: This was great. While not typically the genre I go to listen to often, there was enough heaviness and also balladier stuff here to keep me well and truly entertained throughout. I’d LOVE to see a lot of this live and hope Hong Faux tour the UK soon. I can see them taking off massive off the back of this album.

The Score: 8/10

New Music Mondays: Avatar, Those Damn Crows and More!

Another big week for New Music Mondays, with everything ranging from death metal to country! Check out some great albums with us!

Avatar: Dance Devil Dance

We’ve been looking forward to this album for a while (hence why it ended up on our top upcoming albums of 2023 list), so of course we had to do an in depth review of it! Check it out here!

Those Damn Crows: Inhale/Exhale

This is phenomenal. And yes, I actually said that out loud while listening to it. It’s that good. Possibly the biggest export of the UK underground scene in recent years (they can fight it out with Massive Wagons), the Welsh quintet have worked hard and deserve every single slot and height they’ve reached in the last couple of years. I’ve been a fan of them since their debut album and have seen and heard them get better and better. This album is a step up yet again, as if they weren’t fantastic enough as is.

There isn’t a bad track on it. I use my personal Spotify to check NMM stuff out on (no ads, yey) and usually like any track I want to put on the playlist. 6/10 tracks on the album ended up liked. I LOVE their early 2000s hard rock style, Shinedown/Burn Halo/Black Stone Cherry, on tracks like ‘Takedown’ and ‘Wake Up’. Meanwhile ballads like ‘This Time I’m Ready’ are excellent and fit the rest of the album so well. I could honestly gush about this album all day, and would if I don’t reign myself in quick. 10/10, it’s not even in question. Fucking amazing.

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs: Land of Sleeper

I know what you’re thinking. Yes, that is a lot of pigs. Stonery, doomy pigs.

In all seriousness, this was awesome. Filled with huge riffs, this is like the bastard child of The Sword, Black Sabbath, Kyuss and, surprisingly, Motorhead. There’s a certain pace and attitude to it all that just screamed Lemmy to me. Tracks like the opener and ‘Mr Medicine’ are personal highlights of mine. As a fan of this band for a while now, this album did not disappoint! If anyone likes sludgy, grungy hard rock, this is definitely the album for you! 8/10

Inhaler: Cuts & Bruises

The Irish indie/pop rock returned with their sophomore album last week. Their last one was an enjoyable affair that topped the UK charts, so I’m curious to check this one out!

While it’s lighter than the vast majority of the music we cover here (and I was close to not covering it), it’s a damn enjoyable album. Tracks like ‘Love Will Get you There’, ‘These are the Days’ and ‘Dublin in Ecstasy’ are highlights of an overall very good collection of songs. There again isn’t especially a bad track on here, though it did get just a little repetitive for me after a while. Though that’s more than likely because I don’t listen to the genre as much as the same sort of pace bores me after more than half an hour. Still though, an impressive, fun album that I’ll definitely be listening to again! 8/10

Winds of Tragedy: Hating Life

This is some heavy shit. Hot off the heels of their last album just eight months ago, the black metal powerhouses are back with their second offering. If any of y’all read this series regularly, you’ll know that Overtone has been my diving in point for black metal, and that it is definitely taking some getting used to. However, it’s clearly happening as I found myself digging this. Not as much as the Avatar or Those Damn Crows albums, don’t get me wrong, but it was definitely listenable, which is a start! I don’t really have specific highlight tracks for this one, but the proggy opener was good fun, as was ‘Wake Me Up From This Act’. So, if you’re into the really heavy stuff, give this a listen! For now, I shall give it a 7/10

Screaming Females: Desire Pathway

The alt rock band are back with their eighth studio album after the biggest gap between releases they’ve have ever had. It definitely maintains the bands punk influences, feeling a perfect blend of 70s, 80s and modern punk and alt rock. Right from the offset when their opening track, ‘Brass Bell’, drops, you can tell exactly what the band are about. Interesting, quirky yet infectiously catchy vocal melodies, some big riffs and some incredibly good guitar and bass playing, maybe a little surprising in the genre. Said opening track is a highlight of the album, alongside songs like ‘So Low’ and ‘Titan’ are definite highlights. 7.5/10, a fun album!

Craig Campbell: The Lost Files: Exhibit A

The country boy returns after a full decade since his last full-length release. It is a return to roots of sorts, too, with Cambell stating ‘My fans fell in love with me when there was steel and fiddle on my records. I truly hate that I got away from that for a bit trying to chase something that wasn’t real’. I have to admit I’m not familiar with any of his work, but it made the album sound promising to me.

The album itself is pretty great, too. The opener, ‘Lot to Live Up To’, is a country rock stomper that fits in well with the heavier side of the genre these days. However, a lot of the rest of the album is a fair bit slower. Tracks like ‘Church Clothes with Mindy Ellis Campbell’ and ‘Night Like Last Night’ are beautiful ballad tracks. However, there’s enough slightly more upbeat, fun tracks to sink your teeth into. ‘Things You Do in a Truck’, ‘Johnny’s Cash’ and ‘Talk Country to Me’ are all massive highlights of the album. My only real critique at all is my usual gripe with country albums, 16 tracks is too long. But it’s 16 good songs, at least! 8.5/10

Siege of Power: This is Tomorrow

The death metal group return with their first new album in five years, and second overall. This is everything you’d expect from an excellent death metal album. From blistering speed to some insane riffing to great harsh vocals, it’s all great. It’s hard to say much else about it as anyone who knows the genre knows exactly what to expect. However, the slightly slower tracks like ‘Scavengers’ and the clean-opening ‘Ghosts of Humanity’ stood out to me as great tracks. 8/10, I will never not love a great death/thrash band!

DUSK: Spectrums

We’ve treated you this week, reviewing not just one but two albums in full! Check out the second, awesome proggy album here.

Dance Devil Dance: The Album to Finally Catapult Avatar to the Top?

The theatrical Swedish metal band Avatar have had a phenomenal studio output over the last decade or so and don’t get nearly enough praise or listeners for it. They are catchy, fun and tremendously avant-guarde, writing whatever style they want, regardless of the norm. It made me fall in love with them after seeing them live years ago, and have been a fan since. Even their last album, 2020s much ignored Hunter Gatherer, was a banger, with me giving it 8.5/10 when I reviewed it. So, how will this release live up to that? Let’s dive in and find out!

The album opens on its title track, and it’s a really interesting way to kick things off. Diving straight in with a clean guitar riff that reminds me heavily of ‘Welcome to Avatar Country’, it quickly heavies up with a huge sound and Johannes’ iconic harsh vocals. His vocal range never ceases to amaze me as he so effortlessly transitions between low growls and glam-like high notes. The chorus is pretty catchy too, feeling both dark but still big and arena-filling.

We get an awesome bluesy bridge after the second chorus, a combination between Deep Purple and the odd time in Metallica’s early work when they used to break it down. The bass is focused on really heavily here, which of course I love, and it was a real highlight of the track. Then we head into a final chorus to finish us off. A fantastic way to open an album, especially when building on what they left us with with Hunter Gatherer.

‘Chimp Mosh Pit’ opens on a great riff on the heavier side of things, but the clean vocals for the verse quickly lighten things back up. The quick delivery was fun, and made it all pretty sing-alongy. There’s a nice breakdown of sorts tucked in the middle, before an almost nu-meral riff and some awesome slide and lead guitar lines lead into a final verse and chorus. The guitar solo was the highlight of the track for me, it was a lot of fun and something different and interesting that we typically don’t hear in metal, which I think Avatar are always trying to do.

Next up is another single, ‘Valley of Disease’. A fast, heavy riff sets the tone right out of the gate, and the harsh vocals continue the same energy. The gang vocals for the pre sounds great and builds on the simple nature of the track well leading to the chorus. Speaking of which, the vocals clean up for a pretty radio-friendly sound, a rather standard format for metalcore(?). It’s still good though, and definitely another ear-worm of a chorus. The bridge riff coming out of the second chorus was cool, as was the electronic part in the drop-down after. It almost made it feel like an industrial track for a moment. And it makes the heaviness even more impactful as it explodes back in. Overall, a great track!

The same formula is followed by ‘On the Beach’ and ‘Clouds Dipped in Chrome’. The chorus of the former is pretty jazzy though, making it standout against the rest at least a bit. The guitarists, Jonas Jarlsby and Tim Öhrström, are so massively underappreciated in the wider metal world, but they have such a unique, distinguishable sound and style, and can make almost anything fit with pretty heavy metal. It’s impressive! Given that we also have a blistering solo in ‘On the Beach’ too is just a testament to their talent. Gushing over the guitars aside, this is one of my favourite tracks on the album, and makes our playlist!

Oh, meanwhile the latter track is good, heavier track, and there’s a fun vocal part for the bridge that sounded like it had some early Corey Taylor in there. However, not much about the track actually stood out to me, unfortunately.

The heavy, balls-to-the-wall riffing of ‘Do You Feel In Control?’ was a lot of fun. So too was the call and response nature of the verse, the gang vocals answering Johannes’ lines in an awesome contrast. Johannes himself puts out one of his best vocal performances to date on this track too, using his full rang impressively well. The chaotic outro is also awesome and reflects the band perfectly. From more awesome lead guitar work to lightening fast drumming and the vocals kicking it off perfectly, it’s an amazing album.

‘Gotta Wanna Riot’ caught me off guard as Avatar hadn’t gotten weird (for them) on this album yet. I loved it. From the wacky, almost cartoon-like vocal harmony to open it up to the general line delivery, Johannes’ inner showman comes out fully here, and it’s honestly when I enjoy him the most. The riff is also fantastic, reminding me of a glam or even NWOCR style than anything metal. It’s possibly the best chorus on the album too, and up there with one of their best overall. If there is any track that you should check out that fully showcases what Avatar are about, it’s this one. Playlisted!

Single ‘The Dirt I’m Buried In’ is finally a slower track, a chance to breath quick. It almost has an indie vibe to it, being stripped back and simple. Actually, the closest band that springs to mind surprisingly is Red Hot Chili Peppers. Even when it gets a bit heavier for the choruses, the vocal melodies and harmonies still scream RHCP to me. It’s the closest thing we have to a ballad on the album and it’s massively enjoyable. It’s the perfect change of pace, and makes our playlist!

‘Hazmat Suit’ opens on the catchy chorus before an almost punky pace takes over for the verse. The pace of the drums keeps up through the chorus and rest of the track too, making it sound like Avatar infused with Motörhead. It was another fun track and one I’ll be listening to a lot going forward.

‘Train’ brings back the weird vibes, hitting us with less than three seconds of djent before immediately dropping down to slow jazz. This band can do whatever the fuck they like and I’m here for it. Give me all the weird, Avatar! The jazzy verses are awesome, especially with Johannes’s low, theatrical vocals. Then the chorus (I guess?) kicks in and it’s straight death metal. I love it. The contrast between the two parts is excellent, especially since they are practically smash-cut together. This was an awesome, short little chaotic song, and was a lot of fun.

Halestorm’s Lzzy Hale kinda steals the show on album closer, ‘Liolence No Matter What’. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a duet with Johannes and both play their parts perfectly. But hearing Lzzy mirror Johannes, be it high notes or screams, was something special. It’s the heaviest I’ve ever heard Lzzy go and I have to hear her scream more on Halestorm’s next album! The instrumentation is pretty simple for the most part, clearly putting focus on vocals front and center. However, there’s a pretty fun, odd guitar solo in the middle, and the main riff is decent enough! It’s an odd choice to close out the album with, but is a good song in its own right!

Overall: I enjoyed this album. I think much like their last two, it will take a few more listens to really appreciate it and it’ll definitely be a grower. There are some truly stand-out, amazing tracks on here, even if it did feel like a bit of a slow starter. I’ll be listening to it a lot over the coming months and it’ll probably go up by the end of the year, but for now I’m giving it…

The Score: 8.5/10