Tag Archives: alternative music

The Third Eye: Are Chaoseum Leading the Charge When it Comes to New Nu Metal?

The Swiss Nu Metal band Chaoseum rose to prominence during the pandemic era off their HUGE single ‘Smile Again’. The first thing they have done since then, aside a live album, the bands third studio album has a lot of hype to live up to? How does it fair against Second Life? Let’s take a listen and find out…

A brief organ intro starts off ‘I, Sexy Zombie’ with an eerie feel. A heavy, Korn-ish riff comes in over the top, especially with the faint vocals too. It stays quick and heavy heading into the verse, the growls making it have an almost death metal feel to it. However, when it cleans up and half-times that nu/industrial metal sound comes back, sounding amazing. It all builds into a very catchy, very Korn chorus. The chanted backing vocals are very memorable and will go down a storm live, while CK Smile does a great job at a clean, melodical hook. A short bridge leads to a great little guitar solo. We then get a final catchy chorus to round out an awesome opening track.

Single ‘Unreal’ opens on a great riff, soon exploding into the heaviness just like before. The drums are a real highlight here, Greg Turini working overtime on a fantastic beat or two. All of the vocal melodies throughout the track are infectiously catchy, from the clean verse and chorus to the growled, call-and-response style of the pre. I don’t want to keep comparing Chaoseum to Korn as they do have their own talents and sound, being slightly more metalcore, but the nu-metal titans are definitely the closest band to compare them to. The spoken word in the bridge, especially when the gang vocals are added after the drop, is all awesome. It almost gives off Static X vibes and is another part I’d love to see live. Another great guitar solo and double chorus take us home in style. Another fantastic song and the second already to make the playlist.

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The slow build intro for ‘Dance on my Grave’ is awesome, the electro parts working so well with the riff. It has a real bound to it all too, definitely fitting with the song title. It gives off Wednesday 13 and Manson vibes this time too. It’s a catchy track and one that doesn’t take itself all too seriously. Heck, it has the most casual ‘suck my dick’ I think I’ve ever heard put into a song! The track as a whole is a lot of fun and would go down a storm live.

Surprisingly, the title track is a short instrumental interlude. It was tribal and folky and definitely enjoyable, it’s just odd these days for a band not to have a massive single as the title track of the album. It did, however, lead pretty perfectly into the following track, ‘Fly Away’. It’s another heavy track clearly inspired by Korn. However, it’s another massive, arena-filling chorus filled with great main and backing vocal lines. Outside of that chorus it’s another fun nu-metal track, the growls in the bridge also being good.

‘My Wonderland’ opens on a very Slipknot riff, especially with the laugh and scream over the top. It’s a balls to the wall track that barely lets up at all, though still has plenty of catchy hooks and melodies from the vocals. It is a fantastic track and was definitely a good choice to be a single, as it highlights everything Chaoseum is about while also being radio-friendly and amazing in its won right. It’s made our playlist!

‘Welcome Home’ ‘Until the End’ and ‘Sanctum Cinerem’ were a little slower than the other tracks on the album, especially the middle track. It was a nice change of pace and definitely helped me stay interested in the album which, until this point, had all been rather similar. In fact, ‘Until the End’ is one of my favourite tracks on the album and makes our playlist. It’s a slower, dark, doomy track, and is really awesome. Plus, the guitar solo was amazing!

Finally, closing track ‘What If’, opens on an album Slim Shady/Slipknot’s ‘Custer’ style voice recording. Said voice recording from CK does lay the grounds for a phat riff, though. We also get some cool Linkin Park style electronic bits throughout, especially in the verses, which added a great new layer to their sound. However, it was unfortunately a song that felt a bit like an album track. It was good, but didn’t feel as huge and catchy as a lot of the others. Still, it’s a fun, impactful way too close a good album!

Overall: This was great. I’m a sucker for that nu/industrial metal sound, having grown up in that time period, and Chaoseum do a fantastic job of modernising it here. They’re bringing the early 2000s sound to a whole new audience, and doing so through awesome songwriting and musicianship. It’s an album I’ll be listening to a lot in the coming months, as there is not a bad track on it!

The Score: 8.5/10

New Music Mondays: Elder, High Command and More!

For the first time in the year plus of New Music Mondays, we’ve finally reached a week where I’m not particularly familiar with any of the bands on the list. Six almost completely unknown bands put out albums, so I’m excited to dive in and hopefully find some new great bands to be obsessed with!

Elder: Innate Passage

There are two types of prog music. There’s the ever changing, constant insanity of bands like Rush or Iron Maiden’s epics, throwing in different riffs and parts every couple of minutes. Then there’s the type that stretch an entire riff out for a solid ten minutes and squeeze every last drop out of the same concept before moving onto the next. This is an example of the latter.

Time for me to feel and sound like a hypocrite. While I typically like it when bands play around with the same riff and get different sounds out of it all. But five one-riff tracks spanning 54 minutes is a little too much for even me. The talent of the band is clearly on full display and very high, it just got a little too much and repetitive for me. Ironically, ‘Endless Return’ was a highlight track of the album, though! The clean riff is awesome and it builds perfectly for over two minutes into the great heaviness. 5/10 I’d not stick it on optionally much, but I also wouldn’t skip a track!

High Command: Eclipse of the Duel Moons

I’ve not heard an album open on such a punch to the teeth since Vugar Display of Power. The title track is a tour de force of power and aggression. Also, this band were one of the few I’d heard the name of previously, but I don’t know why I didn’t know they were crossover thrash. I had a lighter sound in mind, but I’m very glad they sounded like this instead.

Again, it’s a collection of incredibly talented musicians making great tracks together. The slower, proggy awesomeness that is ‘Imposing Hammers of Cold Sorcery’ is a definite highlight, as is the similarly paced ‘Chamber of Agony’. It turns out, although I do like balls-to-the-wall thrash too, I clearly enjoy it when the bands do things a little different and create some dynamics in their tracks, even just for parts of it. I love ‘In the Court of the Dragon, but ‘Shadow of the Abattoir’ is my favourite track on the album. ‘The Four Horsemen’ is one of my favourite Metallica tracks because it combines both thrash and slower elements together masterfully. It’s the same with these tracks.

I don’t want to crap on the other tracks though, the faster, thrash tracks are also amazing. This is a damn good album, and I’d highly recommend it if you’re into the heavier side of metal. 7.5/10, good stuff.

Finnegan’s Hell: One Finger Salute

Described as Sweden’s answer to The Pogues, as well as being the leading light in the New of Swedish Celtic Punk movement (something that I didn’t know existed but will have to check out more of now), the band return with their fourth album. It’s about exactly what you’d expect from the genre, and a lot of fun.

The anthemic, straight-to-the-point title track is a clear highlight. The opener is also great, some of the vocal melody even reminding me of some more recent Bruce Dickinson stuff. ‘I’ll Make it Up to You’ is also typical Celtic punk awesomeness. It’s honestly nice that after two albums of proggier writing, we have an album that’s ten tracks and only 25 minutes long. Heck, only one song clocks in at over three minutes. It was the perfect pallet clenser.

I’ve always loved the genre, and this is a great album to add to it. It’s packed full of great, fun tracks and in no way overstays its welcome. I feel like this band would be a lot of fun to see live, especially playing a few of these tracks! 7/10

Black Paisley: Human Nature

The latest band to put out an album into the rather saturated NWOCR scene, Black Paisley still put out a damn good album for their fourth release. The Swedes are clearly good songwriters, with tracks like ‘Not Alone’, ‘Mojo’ and ‘World’s Turning’ all being great. It’s a good album and the band definitely deserve more recognition, especially over here where the NWOCR movement has taken over half of the underground scene.

However, there is so much ‘classic rock’ out there these days and we’ve covered so much of it over the last year and a half that I’m starting to get rather burnt out from it. Like there are a lot of bands in the scene that do things different and mix up the formula in their own way, think Ward XVI or Mason Hill or South of Salem, that I LOVE> But it just means that straight-up classic rock doesn’t do much for me currently. I’ll probably come back around and absolutely love this album in the new year, and I’m definitely going to be listening to it again and checking out their older stuff. However, for now I’ll give it a 6.5/10. Sorry guys.

The Riven: Peace and Conflict

When this album started I was very tempted to write some extended version of ‘see above’. However I’ll be damned, this band really won me over, and quickly! ‘The Taker’ is a fantastic, high-energy anthem while slower tracks like ‘Sorceress of the Sky’ are amazing and show off great versatility from the band. Plus, who cannot be impressed by the sheer brilliance of musicianship on display in ‘La Puerta del Tiempo’?

It’s nothing mindblowing, but it’s a damn good hard rock album and one I’ll definitely be listening to some more. 7/10

Mother Vulture: Mother Knows Best

Another band that I knew pretty much by name only, thanks to being on festival bills I’d been to or toured with other bands I’ve checked out. However I had never had the chance to check them out properly. I regret that massively. This was fucking awesome.

A fuzzy, desert/indie rock take on classic rock, this was amazing from start to finish. From the anthemic opening track to other radio-rock bangers like ‘Honey’ and ‘Shifting Sands’, this album is made to be played hard and loud in front of thousands of screaming fans. I named those three tracks while, in honesty, the whole album is its own highlight. Whether you’re into rock, indie or metal, check this out, as you will for sure find something to love. These guys blend all of it together masterfully with this album, and honestly, if given the right marketing, it could and should catapult them into the stratosphere. 9/10 CHECK THIS OUT.

Black Mirrors: ‘If we continue to behave like we are doing now we might disappear!’

We had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with rising leaders of the new grunge movement, Black Mirrors. Having already reviewed their most recent album (which you can find here) we were excited to talk to them about it! Check it out below!

Firstly, how would you describe your sound?

I would say it’s a mixture of a lot of different things. Like we love music from the 90s but in the 90s a lot of different genres just appeared. Look at bands like Nirvana, Radiohead, Soundgarden. Even bands from the stoner sound like Queens of the Stone Age. Rage Against the Machine as well! A lot of great bands just appeared at that time, and I’d say our style is influenced by all of these bands. Bands from the early 90s which we really really love.

And the album just came out, it seems to be going down well?

Yeah, we’re having some very positive feedback on it, it’s really cool to hear!

And what was the writing/recording process like? Did you get caught out in Covid?

Yeah. It was pretty special for us because we did everything remotely with our producer, since he wasn’t allowed to come to Europe, and we couldn’t go to the US. So we did everything remotely through Zoom and stream. And yeah, we actually wrote the songs during the lockdown because… we didn’t do anything else! So we thought yeah, let’s be creative. The best things we can do is music, you know. So we started to write songs. I started to write songs as well which is pretty different to the first record because most of the ideas came from Pierre.

So basically for this one I added some ideas, we worked on it with Pierre and we started to work on the songs with our producer with a dual acoustic/lead guitar and vocals. Then with the whole band and then in the studio together.

And is there a theme running through the album? Or is it more a story per track?

We didn’t think about it as like, let’s do a project like The Wall, like a rock opera. But the thing is it’s true that after a while it was kind of obvious that the album was about how we just change and destroy the earth. How we’re leaving this planet and how humans are just destroying everything. That’s why we chose this title. It has different levels of meanings. The first one is very obvious, like at some point we’ll all be dead, so let’s do something nice between now and that time.

But you could also think about it like all the human beings; if we continue to behave like we are doing now we might disappear.

And the last way is that looking at not just human beings but all the living things on the planet, we are just one. One big thing. And it’s something that we should start to understand as people, to be like we share the same thing and the same energy, and we should fight for all the living beings, not just ourselves.

I imagine it’s quite cathartic to work through some of these issues through song?

Yeah, it’s something that you want to do as an artist, I guess. It’s our own reflection, our own vision on how it is now. A song like ‘Ode to my Unborn Child’ is really really deep for me and personal. It’s the most personal song I’ve ever wrote. It was like, we are now at an age where we’re thinking if we want kids or not. The whole thing was like, do we want kids on this world? It’s a world that I’m angry at, and I’m angry at myself too to be part of this world and this system. It’s a bit difficult and I’m struggling to live with that, daily. So it’s like, do I want any kids to feel the same thing that I do. So this song was almost a mourning process for me.

I imagine you’re doing a tour off the back of the album?

Yeah! Nothing is announced yet because we’re waiting for a good opportunity. The thing is this post-Covid situation is kind of tricky, it’s not that easy, especially compared to three years before. But yeah, we have something on the way and we’ll announce it in the next few weeks.

Have you had an issues setting up the tour?

Well, we can definitely feel that it’s different than before lockdown. Especially with ticket sales; now people are waiting till the last minute to buy the ticket. Or you have to pick between a lot of shows that you want to go to.

Also, the price of gas. It’s really expensive now. If you tour with a van or a bus it’s a big, big difference. Multiplied by two even, now. It definitely effects bands like us!

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New Music Mondays: Disturbed, Nickelback and Much More!

One of the last big weeks of New Music Mondays for this year. From pop rock giants to plenty of metal and even a touch of country, we’ve got something for everyone this week!

Disturbed: Divisive

I have to admit, the title of the album worries me. I’ve been a fan of the band pretty much my entire life and wasn’t too big of a fan of their last output. I felt like the band tried too hard to capture the magic of their ‘Sound of Silence’ cover on half of it, while the other half felt heavier. While I’ve enjoyed the singles so far from the album, I’m worried this may go the same route now.

They kinda hit the nail on the head, though. It’s a surprisingly uplifting album in terms of lyrical content. Sometimes it works well, like on clear highlight ‘Unstoppable’ or ‘Take Back Your Life’. However, other times, like ‘Hey You’ and ‘Love to Hate’, they come across as more cringy. Heck, ‘Bad Man’s lyrics remind me of something you’d hear on Always Sunny in Philidelphia, they’re that cringe. Is it just me?

The rest of the elements are typical Disturbed. Big, chunky riffs that are great in the moment but all blend into one when listening to the album from front to back. The drums hold down the beat and groove well while John Moyer continues to be criminally underutilised in the band. Seriously, check out his work in Adrenaline Mob, especially ‘Feel the Adrenaline’, you’ll get a whole new appreciation for the man. ‘Don’t Tell Me’ was an okay ballad, and Ann Wilson had a passable guest vocal slot on it.

There are some definitely highlights, like ‘Unstoppable’ and ‘Part of Me’, but it’s all very typical Disturbed. If you’re a fan of the band you’ll get some enjoyment out of it, but they don’t really evolve their sound at all. It feels like Believe, a couple of good tracks but ultimately a pretty safe album. 6.5/10

Nickelback: Get Rollin’

I don’t care what anyone says, I fucking love this band. One of the first bands I fell in love with as a kid (All the Right Reasons is still one of the best albums ever released) and people only hate them because it’s ‘cool’ to do so. And heck, that consensus has even began to shift in recent years after their surprisingly heavy Feed the Machine album. They’re like the John Cena o rock music, for my whole two wrestling nerds out there reading this. The singles so far, the ballad ‘Those Days’ and heavy masterpiece ‘San Quentin’ have been well received and the hype around this album is actually pretty high, not just from me.

Tucked between the album’s two big singles as a sleazy, heavier rock track, ‘Skinny Little Missy’. It’s another highlight track and reminds me of ‘Something in your Mouthing terms of lyrics, feel and groove. Then we get one of the bands odd yet awesome country rock tracks in most recent single ‘High Time’, which is another banger. ‘Vegas Bomb’ is a fun heavier track, too.

However, then the band does its Nickelback thing and plays just so many ballads. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good ballad, and Nickelback do them as well as anyone. However, I’d have quite enjoyed some variety in the second half of the album. Tracks like ‘Does Heaven Even Know You’re Missing’ and ‘Standing in the Dark’ are still album highlights. However, having another heavier track may have pushed this album into legendary territory. But, for me at least, 3/11 tracks being heavier felt ever so slightly difflating. It will probably grow on me, but for now I’ll give this an 8/10

Smashing Pumpkins: ATUM – Act I

I hate that I’ve not been doing this music journalism thing for too long and this is already my third disc of Smashing Pumpkins to review. At the best of times they’re okay. However, I always found Billy Corgan to be similar to Rivers Cuomo in thinking that he’s gods gift to music. As a result, both put out far too many albums or far too bloated albums, like SZNZ or CYR.

At least this album is a little bit of an improvement to their 2020 effort. While a lot of it is slower almost synth-pop (not the sort of thing I’d personally want from a former grunge band) there are a few tracks that stand out from the formula. ‘The Good in Goodbye’ is almost classic Smashing Pumpkins, and definitely the best track of the album. Also, for a band that rather obviously inspired 21 Pilots, it’s really interesting to hear the aforementioned band then inspire Smashing Pumpkins on ‘Steps in Time’. It’s a fun, American indie/pop-rock track, and for once the electronics actually help the song.

However, the rest of the album felt like the same slow, atmospheric stuff that CYR was. I know it’s the first of three acts so hopefully the others pick up the pace a little. But for now, at least this one is better than the previous. 6/10. I still think he should stick to promoting wrestling…

Candlemass: Sweet Evil Sun

We’ve already had the pleasure of reviewing this awesome album. Check out the full review and the score here.

The Real McKenzies: Songs of the Highlands, Songs of the Sea

It still blows my mind that the Celtic-Punk style took off so much more in North America than it did in Scotland and Ireland, where the bands sound like they should be from. The Real McKenzies have always seemed to be the distant 3rds in the genre behind Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly, but that does by no means make them inferior. They very much prove that here, too.

The band are at the very top of their game throughout this album. From the slow, anthemic folky intro track, ‘Scotland the Brave’ through punkier numbers like ‘The Green Hills of Tyrol’ and ‘Leave her Johnny’, the album starts very strong. And of course, w2e cannot forget the amazing rendition of ‘Drunken Sailor’. Also, The Last Gang’s Brenna Red is a MASSIVE highlight of the album on ‘Swansea Town’. Her raspy, punky voice fits so well with the slower Celtic instrumentation.

There really isn’t a band track on the album, and if you like the sub-genre or the other bands I’ve named, you’ll absolutely love this. It’s a genre that isn’t given nearly enough attention and credit and for a band that have been going for a while now, this is definitely up there with some of their best work to date. 8.5/10

Tallah: The Generation of Danger

The other leading light in the new nu-metal resurgence are back with their second studio album. Heavier than their counterparts in Tetrarch, the band also draw from a wider source of inspiration with this second release. Whether it’s hardcore, industrial or straight up death metal, there’s a lot going on alongside the nu-metal core. However, it’s beautiful, perfect chaos. ‘The Hard Reset’ is a fantastic example of this, an absolute anarchy of heaviness in the riffs and verses, but a clean, catchy, almost Linkin Park-esque chorus.

‘The Impressionist’ is a little more accessible but instrumentally it’s still complex and awesome. Also, the rapping is a really great touch, especially when Justin Bonitz adds so much emption into his vocals, be it anger, sadness or all out rage. Plus, his screams are fantastic, some of the best I’ve heard all year. He has such an inane vocal range. I would say he’s a highlight of the album, but honestly the rest of the band are just as insanely talented as he is. The riffs are amazing, be it ch0nky or doing some insane pinches or Gojira scraps.

It’s another album without a bad track on it, and Tallah are a band that could (and should be massive in the near future if they keep up this energy, songwriting and raw emotion. If you’re into heavy stuff, the first two Slipknot albums or nu-metal in general, you’ll love this, it was fantastic. 9/10

Soen: ATLANTIS

An interesting one now, and one that I felt myself falling in love with more and more throughout the album. A prog supergroup formed from ex-Opeth and Death members, the band has taken on its own live in recent years due to their undeniable talent in songwriting and playing ability. Despite having the typical arrangement of a rock band, the strings are actually the major focus of the album, aside for the vocals. Just check out opening track ‘Antagonist’ to hear what I mean. It’s beautiful, powerful and epic, while showcasing the band perfectly.

From there it somehow only gets better. ‘Trials’ and ‘Illusion’ are particular album highlights, as is their incredible cover of Slipknots ‘Snuff’. I very much implore you to check this album out when you have a minute. It’s something completely different to a lot of what is out currently and it’s definitely not an album to be missed. I’m going to be listening to this a lot in the coming weeks and months, and it’s honestly bordering on a masterpiece. 9/10

Kira Mac: Chaos is Calling

NWOCR’s new big thing, Kira Mac finally releases her much-anticipated debut album, and the first release she’s put out since her amazing appearance on The Voice. With her incredible, soulful voice and her amazing band backing her up, this was a great album, and one hell of a debut.

Some of it was pretty heavy, reminding me of Nita Strauss’ solo efforts, while other tracks reminded me a lot of Dorothy. The title track was a massive highlight for me because of that riff, and tracks like ‘Mississippi Swingin” and the heavy, blues juggernaut that is ‘Downfall’ are also awesome. She’s a name that is generating a big buzz in the UK scene and for very clearly good reason. She’s going to be massive, and a strong debut like this starts her off amazingly. 8/10

Thy Listless Heart: Pilgrams on the path of no Return

The brand new doom metal band put out a pretty damn fun debut album. The sludgy riffs and prog elements were particular highlights for me. The vocals didn’t do too much for me, I understand they serve the means to an end but they felt a little flat for me. However, when they were used to build up the track, like the opening of ‘The Precipice’, it’s a whole different story, they’re awesome. In fact, that whole track was phenomenal and a definite high point of the album.

The lyrics and instrumentation are a huge highlight, and the proggier element almost gives hints of Tool at times. And anyone who reads much of our content knows how much I love Tool! ‘Confessions’ is another highlight of the album, especially the heavier choruses with the growls. It adds a fun other dynamic to it all.

Overall a good album and a great debut for a prog-doom metal band! 7/10

Isaac Hoskins: Bender

The Oklahoman native put out his third album last Friday. It’s a really good album in the vein of some of Texas’ best country artists. Tracks like the opener, ‘Panhandle Wind’ and ‘Off the Wagon’ are all big highlights of the album. I’m honestly shocked that he hasn’t become a big name by now (his first album was in 2009) as he has some amazing talent. It’s just good old-fashioned country music; steady, emotional and full of talented musicianship. If you’re a fan of the likes of Willie Nelson and Hank Jr., you’ll love this. 7.5/10

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Biffy Clyro and Architects Tear the Roof off Birmingham’s Resort World!

My first arena gig since the pre-apocolypse times, so this had a fair amount to live up to. Luckily I’m a fan of both bands, at least enough that the drive and the extortionate prices of anything in the arena didn’t put me off. However, both recent albums by the bands didn’t blow me away, so I was curious! I’ve seen Biffy Clyro a couple of times before, so was hoping they’d be just as good as both of those times.

Architects took to the stage to a rather spread-out crowd. But, by the time they’d finished their first number, the place had packed out considerably. I, like I’m sure a lot of others, were shocked that the metalcore titans were chosen to support the considerably lighter Scots. Yes, Simon did that song with the band on their album last year, but still. Heck, there was a pretty clear distinction between the two sets of fans in terms of merch and look, too. However, by the end of the set I feel like there were a lot of converts.

Opening on their big single from their most recent album, ‘Deep Fake’, their blend of metal and more radio sounds came across perfectly live. Architects are the one metalcore band that I never truly ‘got’, but clearly I just needed to see them live to appreciate it more. However, that may have been because almost the entire set was made up of tracks released in the last two years, with the lone exception being Holy Hell’s ‘Doomsday’. I’m sure it probably pissed off a few of the hardcore fans in the crowd, but I personally loved it. It made my appreciation of the new album that much higher and has since made me revisit it, as I didn’t like it too much before. Plus, the newer stuff is a little more radio friendly, and fits in more to the crowd they were playing to.

The band ripped through nearly an hours set of bangers, with crowd favourites definitely being the likes of ‘Black Lung’ and closer ‘Animals’. Sam Carter is such an entertaining and captivating frontman that it didn’t matter much that the rest of the band didn’t really move about. This was a polished, professional setlist and if anything the perfect opener for Biffy.

After a brief interval, the main men themselves took to the stage. The anticipation and energy in the air was palpable… and then they came on and played ‘DumDum’. It’s not a bad track at all, but after all that build-up it does feel a little anticlimactic to not burst straight into something a little more upbeat. However, they soon rectify that as they quickly head into the awesome ‘A Hunger In Your Haunt’, an instant crowd favourite.

From there, the band launch into, honestly, one of the most perfectly crafter setlists I’ve ever seen. Whether it was the hits or the deeper cuts, almost their entire back catalogue got some love at one point in their two-hour set. Whether it was the ever awesome ‘Black Chandelier’ or ‘Mountains’ to new hits like ‘End Of’ or ‘Unknown Male 01’, it all went down a storm with the packed out crowd. And the band played them all to perfection too, putting on an energetic show and some amazing visuals with lighting to go alongside the great music.

Check out our review of Biffy’s latest album here.

Whether it was ballads or more upbeat songs, the set was filled to the brim with highlights, too. From the heavy, prog awesomeness of ‘Cop Syrup’ to Simon, his acoustic, the two string players and his choir of 15,000+ singing along to ‘God and Satan’ with him, or the surprising crowd (and my personal favourite) ‘Biblical’. And of course we cannot forget about the epic set closer, their biggest ballad, ‘Many of Horror’. Simon barely had to sing a word of it, the crowd handled the vocals dutifully.

It was honestly, excluding Locash at The Long Road earlier this year, the first time since Covid I’ve stood in a crowd and felt that energy. The first time I’ve thought to myself ‘this is why I love this industry’. Mon the Biff.

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New Music Mondays: Brantley Gilbert, Chelsea Grin and More!

Not a huge week, not that we’ll get many now as we head towards the holiday season, but there’s still plenty of new music to sink our teeth into. From rock to metal to country, let’s get into it!

Brantley Gilbert: So Help Me God

This was unfortunately quite a slow country album. I’m a big fan of Gilbert’s sludgy brand of country rock, but I found it hard to get into this. It was all rather slow and acoustic, which is fine, I love a good country ballad, but it’s not what I got into Brantley because of. Heck, in some turn of über double-irony, ‘The Worst Country Song of All Time’ is one of the most enjoyable tracks on the album, despite the lyrics. ‘Son of the Dirty South’ was an awesome song and finally what I was expecting, but I shouldn’t start to enjoy an album over halfway through it. However, afterwards it very quickly gets back to the slow tracks again. Again, I’m not opposed to slower country tracks, but when it’s a whole album of them nearly, it does tend to get boring. When Brantley is cutting back and having fun, it’s the most fun I have listening to the whole album. Definitely his worst album for me. 4.5/10

Chelsea Grin: Suffer in Hell

No prizes for guessing this album is heavy as balls. The first part of their afterlife-inspired double album is filled with crushing riffs and some of the most brutal screams in the industry today. However, it will be now impossible to not compare this band with Darko US. And, I have to admit, I prefer the Darko album. It’s nothing at all against Grin, their talent for playing and songwriting is off the charts on this album. It’s simply that it’s straight-up deathcore, like they’ve always done, while Darko brings a new, interesting edge to the sound. When the band go a bit more sinister and dark on tracks like ‘Deathbed Companion’, it definitely holds my interest more. However, when bands like Whitechapel, Lorna Shore and even Darko themselves have put out some of the best deathcore albums ever these last few years, it’s a high standard to live up to, and I’m not sure this one does.

I still really enjoyed the album and I do think it’ll continue to grow on me through the next month or so. However, for now I’m going to give it a 7.5/10

P.S. sorry P67, ‘Crystal Casket’ gets my bleh of the year. That one at the end is filthy, as is the riff and breakdown in the song. A real highlight track of the album!

He is Legend: ENDLESS HALLWAY

The illegitimate lovechild of Cane Hill and Alice in Chains. Somehow, that means the album sits in an odd void between the modern nu metal revival and the mid-naughties radio rock of Shinedown, Rev Theory and Burn Halo. I love every band and genre I’ve just named so, of course, I fucking love this.

I was not familiar with this hand at all before now and this album has immediately made me a fan and want to check out more of their back catalogue. The riffing is so heavy and chuggy, it wouldn’t sound out of place on a Gojira album, but the clean, low vocals give it a fantastic radio edge. Tracks like ‘LIFELESS LEMONADE’, ‘HONEY FROM THE HIVE’ and the utterly amazing ‘CIRCUS CIRCUS’ (yes, they are another band that shout at you) are massive highlights on an album chocked to the brim of them. There’re even elements of Mike Patton or Mushroomhead on the latter track, alongside the usual Korn and Tetrarch.

If you haven’t checked this band or, more importantly, this album out yet, do it right now. There honestly isn’t a bad track on it. 9.5/10 holy crap, a new obsession of mine.

Epica: The Alchemy Project

Symphonic metal always works well with guests, and Epica may very well be at the top of the symphonic scene in recent years. After last year’s FANTASTIC Omega, the band return with an experimental side album featuring a guest on every track, hence the album title.

Safe to say it’s pretty amazing. Most of the guests are a little heavier than the band, such as Fleshgod Apocalypse, Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid and God Dethroned. However, every single vocalist played off Simone Simons’ beautiful vocals perfectly. Simone’s soaring, operatic tones always mesh well with the heavy, chuggy instrumentation and Mark Jansen’s powerful lows and growls. However, when adding in even heavier artists and vocals on top, it somehow makes everything even more epic and enjoyable. It all combines together to form something truly enjoyable and special, and I hope this isn’t the last time we get one of these Alchemy Projects. Highlights include ‘Wake the World’ and ‘The Final Lullaby’ but honestly, any track off the album could have made that selection. 9/10

Enuff Z’nuff: Finer than Sin

Glam/Sleaze’s answer to Oasis are back with their first album in just a year. Having seen them a couple of times over the last few years, I really enjoy them live. However, I’ve never managed to get into them on track, and this album didn’t change that. It’s pretty much all at the same steady, subdued pace throughout that doesn’t appeal to me too much. It’s so massively produced and polished, drawing comparisons to Def Leppard’s Hysteria, that when talking about drug abuse and other dark topics it’s a very odd contrast. It all reminds me of Terrorvision but just less fun.

‘Lost and Out of Control’ or ‘Hurricane’ were probably highlights. It’s not a bad album by any means, I just found myself getting distracted and bored though it, outside of these two tracks. 6/10

Randy Houser: Note to Self

The first guy I discovered when I finally started to dip into country by myself. I do feel slightly hypocritical now, as this is on the slower end of country. However, this was so well written and there were some truly awesome tracks on it. From ‘Workin’ Man’ to ‘Out and Down’ to ‘Country Round Here Tonight’, there is plenty to love with this album. I’m struggling to even say much, if you like country music, no matter the style, you’ll love this. Heck, I’d recommend anyone listening to this to check it out, as I love this. 8.5/10, this was awesome.

Warkings: Morgana

The most power metal band to ever power metal, now. Warkings seem to be the butt of a lot of jokes in the dub-genre’s community, but honestly I really enjoyed this. However, that may have been more because of Morgana Le Fay’s impressive harsher vocals every few tracks, as they were definitely my favourite songs on the album. ‘Monsters’ is my favourite track on the album, but ‘Immortal’ and even ‘The Rite’ are close followers. While the latter doesn’t include Morgana, I do still think they should try and find a harsh vocalist going forward, because the contrast between the vocals added a new layer of fun and awesomeness to the tracks. You know exactly what to expect with Warkings, straight up power metal, ‘no nonsense’ or anything outside of that, and for that this album is definitely good. 7.5/10

Cassyette: Sad Girl Mixtape

2022’s answer to Avril Lavigne while also adding a bit of Billy Eillish to the rock scene… I do love Casseyette. This album blends the two previously named artists perfectly while adding an edge seen in Dorothy’s music. While generally the album gets a little boring by the midpoint for me, I can fully understand and appreciate the importance of her music. She is the perfect gateway for young people, especially women, to get into rock music. I’m personally curious to see the generation in a few years time having come up on this and see what it gets them into.

Plus, while most of it is rather pop and punkish, she still hits us with the likes of ‘Die Hate Cry’ out of nowhere, brutal, heavy and full of harsh vocals. It definitely caught me by surprise after the first few stellar pop-punk opening tracks. If you’re into pop-rock, or even metal given the last few tracks on the album, check this out, you won’t be disappointed. 8/10

REMINA: STRATA

We’ve already covered this awesome album. Check out the review and score here.

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Strata: Did Remina just Release the Next Big Darkwave Album?

ex-Draconian, Sojourner, Light Field Reverie members got together last year to form a new band, the melodic doom/darkwave band Remina. I have to admit, I know a bit of Draconian, but I’m not too familiar with the other bands, or the subgenres it is a part of. Therefore, I’m going into this blind, and am excited to hear some new music!

Practically a track-long, slow-build, ‘Aeon Rains’ is a truly epic way to start an album. Starting soft and electronic, the vocals sounded amazing over the top. Don’t get me wrong, there are vocals throughout a lot of it and the distorted guitars and drums come in a minute or two in. It even has a great drop-out in the middle, stripping back to its bare bones. However, the whole 6+ minutes felt like it was building to its epic crescendo. I loved it!

‘Obsidian’ opens on a similar epic soundscape, much like the first track. It stays at a deliberately slow, almost sludgy pace throughout. It’s ethereal, moodily atmospheric and honestly beautiful. It would make a fantastic movie soundtrack song, and honestly the only way I feel like I could enjoy this even more is if I was high. It’s like dark, psychedelic metal, and it’s pretty fucking awesome.

Check out another doom-ish band here.

It was at the third track on the album, ‘Dying Sun’ that I realised this will most likely be a pretty short review. And, I’d just like to point out first ‘Dyning Sun’ is my favourite track on the album. The riffing for the heavy bits is MASSIVE and so good!

Now, I do want to clarify before we go any further, I really enjoyed this album. However, it was all pretty similar music. I’m not saying that’s a bad thig at all, but much like variety is the spice of life, it is also the spice of reviewing and writing. I could go through each song and say almost the same thing, or I could lump them all together and say ‘this is all fucking awesome’. Heck, with this sort of music it almost begs to be listened to as one coherent piece anyway, so for me to analyse it all individually would almost do a disservice to the arrangement of the album.

So yes, a lot of the album’s tracks follow a similar sound and arrangement. It’s all very atmospheric and brooding, staying at a similar slow pace throughout. Even when the distorted guitars come in and it gets heavier, it maintains an air of beauty to it, as well as having plenty of room for the instrumentation to breathe when they drop out too. And the vocals from Heike are nothing short of phenomenal, too. They’re the highlight of the album, soaring beautifully and adding so much to the feel and sound. It all blends perfectly together for each track and leaves the finished product to be an amazing experience to listen to.

Overall: As I have said already, I really enjoyed this. I sat down and listened to it in one interrupted sitting (which for my easily distracted brain is pretty hard) and just got lost in it. Each song transported me away from my home and to a far-off world, and I loved every second. I imagine with a good stageshow this would be amazing live, and hopefully they can tour soon so I can try and check it out! For now, I shall continue to listen to this, I’m sure, for the rest of the year.

The Score: 7.5/10

New Music Mondays: Devin Townsend, Dayseeker and More!

Less massive releases this week, but plenty of great new music to sink our teeth into. Let’s dive straight in!

Devin Townsend: Lightwork

Joe: I have tried for years to get into Devin. Whether it’s his solo stuff or Strapping Young Lad, none of it seems to hook me. It’s weird too, as on paper I should love it all, but something about it doesn’t appeal to my ears.

Lightwork is no different. Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly better than that electro-concept drivel he put out last year, but I still didn’t enjoy it too much. This is the guy who headlined Bloodstock last year, yet here he is doing synth-pop-rock, for lack of a better term. It’s like he’s trying to sound like Album of the Year or even parts of Angel Dust by Faith No More, but generally less interesting. I know I’mma catch a lot of flack for all of this as Devin has a pretty huge, devoted cult following, but I just don’t get it. Honestly, I couldn’t wait for this album to be over. I feel like maybe the tracks may translate better to me in a live setting, but I couldn’t pick out a highlight from the album. I’m sure there will be some journalists who give this top (or nearly top) marks, but I’m sadly going to have to give it a 3.5/10

Dayseeker: Dark Sun

Max: This is a review that I find quite hard to write, not because the album is bad, it is far from it, but because I absolutely adore Dayseeker. Due to this it is quite hard to not have a bias, but no one can convince me that this album isn’t phenomenal. The sheer emotion through really hits hard but it is the icing on top as it is such a raw and passionate album. The fact that they dedicated the album to the singer’s dad just makes this point even more apparent. Going from songs like ‘Neon Grave’ and ‘Dreamstate’ with the perfectly ugly breakdowns that you can’t help but pull a face to and then changing to ‘Paper Heart’ and ‘Crying While You’re Dancing’ which are so pretty and full of feeling whilst also making me want to lie down and transcend. Overall, I really think that everyone should listen to this album and just enjoy how well this band has evolved. A fantastic 9/10, quite possibly even another 10/10

96 Bitter Beings: Synergy Restored

Joe: Anyone who’s familiar with the frontman of this band will know exactly what to expect from this album. The founder of Jackass’ favourite band, CKY, formed this project in 2016, a few years after leaving his old band. As the band name implies, the band picks up right where Deron Miller left off with CKY.

‘Vaudeville’s Revenge’ is a great album starter and ‘Wish Me Dead’ is a definite highlight of the collection. The album soon runs into the same issue I have with CKY, though. I LOVE the riffs and his guitar tone is still phenomenal and surprisingly unique. But that’s where it about ends for me. The drums are pretty basic and the bass generally just follows the guitars. And there isn’t especially much in the way of memorable vocal performances throughout. Don’t get me wrong, not every band needs albums full of stadium-filling choruses, but a catchy hook to sing along with every so often would be nice. The closest I found was ‘Throw Yourself Inside’, which was another highlight. Still though, as a musician I massively appreciate and adore the guitaring, and can’t give it any less than a 7/10

Black Anvil: Regensis

Joe: Ahh, another black metal band that has such an everything-in-your-face-all-at-once production that it’s hard to distinguish anything specific, including the vocals. It’s feels like I’ve been a while since I’ve done one of these. However, I’ve clearly grown, as I was quite enjoying this! I think it helped that there were some fun vocal dynamics, with some clean backing vocals being present too. It made it all feel more epic.

Everyone played their parts well, there being some awesome riffs and some (characteristic to the genre) amazing drumming. ‘8-Bit Terror’ was my album highlight, in terms of sound ans subject matter. However, I enjoyed just about every track. Don’t get me wrong, this still isn’t my sort of music, but I wouldn’t turn it off if it came on and may probably find myself listening to this album again at some point in the future. Maybe this will be the album to win me round into the genre! 6.5/10

Black Mirrors: Tomorrow Will be Without Us

We’ve already covered this excellent album in detail. Find the full review and the score here.

Joji: SMITHEREENS

Max: So, this is an interesting album to say the least. The most important thing to note is that this album will probably make you cry just like the Dayseeker one. It tugged at my heart strings through out with lines like “I hear that you’re happy without me, and I hope it’s true” from ‘Die For You’ and basically the entirety of ‘Glimpses of Us’ where I just want to curl up and cry. This album won’t be for everyone and it isn’t perfect, but I loved it. The raw emotion in so much of Joji’s music makes it feel so personal and relatable. Never in this album did it feel to me like, like so much other similar music can, he was singing words to try and get a response from everyone or that someone in a studio had just written them for him. Instead, it felt like someone talking to someone that they can’t say is there’s anymore but still truly loves. Or maybe that’s just me hoping that’s what it is all about. Anyways it is a solid 8/10 for me.

Madeline Edwards: Crashlanded

Joe: Finally, a short, mainstream country album. At 12 tracks and just over 35 minutes long, this is like a dream come true after so many hour-long slogs! On top of that too, it’s a pretty great album!

It’s got that sort of Dorothy, folk-pop-rock style on top of the already country/americana roots. Honestly, there isn’t a bad track on the album. If you’re into country or americana or even slight rock, you’ll find a lot to love here. Having said that, it’s hard not to find the singles as the highlights of the album. ‘Hold my Horses’ is a particularly fantastic track. 7.5/10, a good, fun album!

Disillusion: Ayam

Right so a shorter album here and I can’t say that my review will be much longer. The biggest downside of this album was me not realising that there are two 11 minute songs which I thought were all multiple tracks. There are some really fun parts and I loved the changing of paces and the building up. The solo’s and the riffs were great fun. The only thing that I think might catch people off guard on their first time listening is the fact that they have songs which will end slowly or start slowly but it is worth sitting through and getting to the rest as it really doesn’t disappoint. A very respectable 7/10

Magnolia Park: Baku’s Revenge

Okay I won’t lie, not for me in the slightest. It has the same-style big catchy chorus that seems to repeat a dozen times. In fairness those choruses are fun, and the occasional scream is nice and reminds me of a more pop-centric version of A Day To Remember’s Homesick record. I think it would be pretty fun to see this band live as I can envision the amount of energy that they have on stage. For me though I don’t think it’s a genre I fit in to in the slightest 5.5/10

Ingested: Ashes Lie Still

This is more like it. This album is super heavy and intense. It was a lot to try and digest on the first time around, but it really was good fun. I love seeing bands collaborate with others and the ones in this album were fantastic. It must be said that this still has the issue that most bands within this genre have where they aren’t super accessible, but they really really are worth the effort. I hope this band tours this album near me because I would love to see it live as there is so much energy and I reckon crowds would absolutely love it. 8/10

Sarcator: Alkahest

This album grew on me more and more throughout. When the opener was a balls to the wall thrash/death metal track, I almost sighed. Not because I dislike either genre, quite the contrary actually, but because I’m pretty death-ed out in 2022.

However, by just the second track, ‘Perdition’s Hand’, my opinion had changed. the track is still heavy, but it’s a tad slower and groovier, the riffing being fantastic. By the time the album had ripped into the slow-build opener of ‘Grave Maggot Future’ and the truly epic ‘Dreameater’, I was hooked and very impressed. The sludgy, groove metal of ‘The Long Lost’ was also fantastic, especially with that acoustic intro. Heck, the same could be said about the equally proggy and epic ‘He Who Comes from the Dark’ and ‘Alkahest’. It means that when the band do go back to the all-out thrash sound on ‘Devil Sun’ it feels funner.

I know this album won’t be for everyone. It’s a heavy, dark, prog death metal album. However, if you think you’re up for the challenge I’d urge you to check out the tracks I have named above. I honestly don’t throw the word around too often, but if the opening track was just a little stronger this very well could have been a masterpiece of heavy music for me. Heck, even just a revised track order may have helped. But even so, I can’t give this any less than I 9/10

Tough on Fridays: The Encore you Didn’t Ask For

I struggled to put a genre to this, and that’s definitely a good thing. Lurking on the murky boarder of pop punk and indie, this album also feels darker, broodier and more mature than most of its genre-mates on either side. I almost called it goth pop punk but a) that seems oxymoronic or b) there already is goth pop punk, and this isn’t exactly Good Charlotte.

Oh, and did I also mention it’s an amazing album? Because it most certainly is. Its rare to find a band that would easily fit on any lineup or festival bill, and even rarer to find one that is this high a quality. Tracks like the opener, ‘Sink or Swim’ and ‘The Awakening’ all feel completely different while all being huge highlights of the album. I honestly am struggling to say much more about this album, it truly needs to be heard to be appreciated. Stop what you’re doing, especially since this is conveniently last on the list, and listen to this album right now! 9/10

So, a pretty stellar week in the end! Did you enjoy the article? As usual find more of them from our Instagram here.

Tomorrow Will be Without Us: Are Black Mirrors Leading the Charge for the Next Grunge Revolution?

Something different from both Napalm Records and Belgium for us today. It’s not typically grunge/radio rock you first think of when you think of music from either, but Black Mirrors seem set to change that with their second full-length release. I’m definitely curious to hear it, so let’s dive right into it!

Their most recent single, ‘Snake Oil’, starts the album off with a bang, a fast-paced, simple riff running through it all. It drops back a little for the verses, Marcella Di Troia’s distorted vocals coming in perfectly over the top. It builds up into a huge chorus where her vocals clean up and a very catchy melody comes in. It’s grunge, but it’s also definitely dark and a little heavier. It’s giving me Twin Temple vibes just as much as Alice in Chains. Also, the outro building up more and more for a solid minute plus is fucking fantastic. It’s one hell of a way to finish an opening track and is a very satisfying crescendo. Playlisted!

Check out a similar band here.

Another single from the album, ‘Lost in Desert’, feels a little lighter and more radio-friendly. It almost has a bit of a British indie vibe to it, or even a US alt-rock style. It’s giving off massive ‘Bohemian Like You’ by Dandy Warhols vibes. The chorus is another massive, catchy one, and almost feels uplifting despite the subject matter. We get a pretty decent solo to close out the track too. I’m loving these extended outros the band are doing, hopefully we get them throughout. This was another awesome track, and one I can see being play everywhere if given the chance. It’s the perfect single to introduce new fans who otherwise lean more towards the pop side, and it’s definitely a wise decision by the band to have a track like this. Hopefully it catapults them to the top where they belong!

The album’s title track is closer to a straight-up rock track, giving off big Soundgarden feels with the riffs and arrangement. The ‘oh’s and ‘ah’s over it still give off that same American alt vibe, though, it blending together well. The chorus is massively catchy, thanks in part to the awesome backing vocals. It’s another great radio-rock track, this time also giving off vibes of Halestorm and Dorothy in Marcella’s vocals. It’s maybe my favourite performance of hers on the whole album. Great stuff.

The final and lead single off the album, ‘Hateful Hate I’ll Kill You’, reminds me a lot of the opening tracks. It’s somehow a perfect mashup of the first two songs on the album, dark and heavier while still keeping that poppy, radio-friendly edge. It is a fun track, again despite the serious, deep lyrics, and one I’d love to see live as it seems they give a high-energy performance. It’s another easily added to the playlist.

‘Ode to my Unborn Child’ is, understandably given the name, the slower ballad of the album. It starts off low and acoustic-y and builds into a pretty folky track. It’s completely different to the rest of the tracks in all the best ways. The sound fits the sombre tale perfectly and is honestly a beautiful track. It’s a dark folk-rock track, a genre that is getting very popular at the minute, and it handles the shift perfectly. This is another playlisted track. Damn, it’s good.

‘Through the Eyes of a Giant’ somehow opens on a similar folky sound, but builds so seamlessly back into their previous sound throughout. The whole track feels like one big buldup, and I can’t help but love it. It almost had some Tool vibes in the middle part with the guitars. Y’all know how much I gush about Tool, so of course I loved this whole track. Just another track to make our playlist!

After a couple of epic folk-rock tracks, it felt slightly jarring heading into the most grunge track I’ve heard in years. The track is Alice in Chains as fuck, from the riffing to the double, harmonised vocals. I assume the lower harmony, the Jerry Cantrell of the track, is guest vocalist Alain Johann. He does an amazing job and adds so much to this track. It’s the first one so far I’d class as full-on grunge, and I love it. Another fantastic song!

‘Anthropocene’ is another more alt-rock track, going back to the first few songs in terms of sound. It’s not bad at all, but it does feel a little like I’ve heard this now. The final two tracks, however, do feel different. Both are a bit slower than ‘Anthro…’ and have a similar epic feel to the folk tracks. ‘Tears to Share’ is especially fantastic, building to a huge chorus that again reminds me of Dorothy. Meanwhile ‘Say it Again’ is a suitably heavy, fun way to close the album.

Overall: this was amazing. It’s rare to find a band so effortlessly hop between different sub-genres while all the while maintaining their own sound and style, but Black Mirrors do it perfectly. Be it grunge, radio-alt-rock or folk, everything they did was great. There isn’t a bad track on the album and they did a phenomenal job at keeping me interested and entertained throughout. There are going to be plenty of tracks that I’m listening to for long into the future. These guys are going right to the top of the music industry, just you watch!

The Score: 9/10

New Music Mondays: Polyphia, Palaye Royale and More!

While no absolutely massive bands released anything this week, it still saw the release of a lot of great new music! From instrumental metal to country and a lot in between, check this out, it’s got something for everyone!

Polyphia: Remember That You Will Die

I mean, it’s Polyphia, what can I really say? It’s another 40-minute masterclass from the modern day guitar god himself Tim Henson. Of course, it’s fucking awesome.

The first track is a jazz metal masterpiece, complete with horns that make it all sound somehow even better. The guitar tones in the track (and throughout the whole album for that matter) are unbelievable, so good. Lead single ‘Playing God’ is next up and a mind-bending display of the guitarists’ skill at slapping and tapping. I even love ‘ABC’, the first track to feature vocals by the band, and from a pop singer none the less. She sounds good and surprisingly doesn’t overshadow a single member of the band.

I was going to say, probably controversially, that the band could benefit at this point from having vocalists on more of their tracks. Then I heard the MGK-like ‘Memento Mori’ and ‘Fuck Around and Find Out’. Both were with meh rap/R&B vocalists that DID pull the focus away from the band, and for their own mediocre performances. Even the Chino Moreno track was meh. I feel like vocals could work awesomely, but these weren’t necessarily the right ones to pick, not to my ears anyway. Oh well, at least Steve Vai joins them to shred for the awesome closing track.

Slightly up and down but, if I’m honest, far more up than down. 7.5/10

Palaye Royale: Fever Dream

The new-wave emo/punk pop band return with their fourth album last week. I never quite got the appeal of this band or the wider sound they are a part of, and this album did nothing to change that. They remind me a lot of the incredibly overrated Maneskin, it’s a similar sort of pop music with just enough edge to it to venture into the rock sphere. A lot of it is more indie than anything, and for an American, Remington slips into a British accent a few times, weirdly. I fully see why people would like this sort of thing, it’s definitely a popular style these days, but it’s definitely not for me.

Also, it suffers from the country issue in that it’s bloated. 15 tracks is a lot to digest, especially when they’re mainly pretty similar. There are a couple of saving grace tracks, though. I’d heard ‘Paranoid’ when it was released last year and it’s at least a good, anthemic pop-rock track. Then there’s the MCR-esque ‘Fever Dream’. Easily the best track on the album, this wouldn’t feel out of place on The Black Parade. If you’re going to try any track on this album, let it be this one. But yeah, overall, not really my cup of tea. 4/10

Darkthrone: Astral Fortress

The gods of black metal return with their whopping 19th studio album, and it’s just as crazy and experimental as ever. Just a year after the release of Eternal Hails……, the band continue on with the doom influence just as much as the black metal sound. Heck, it opens on a dark, eight-minute epic reminiscent of early Candlemass, this is a far cry from early Darkthrone. It picks up around the mid-point into more familiar territory, but the epicness sets it apart for all the right reasons.

The same can be said throughout the rest of the album. Between the doom, punk and old-school heavy metal, there are a lot of different styles blended in with the typical Darkthrone sound. I honestly struggled to pick a highlight too, as it was all so different and enjoyable in its own way. I think my favourite track was ‘Stalagmite Necklace’, though. Clearly this is how you get me into black metal, by blending it with other genres I like. 7/10

Lainey Wilson: Bell Bottom Country

The fourth album by the country singer-songwriter is just as fun as her previous ones. It’s honestly nice to hear this kind of older style, more Dolly Parton or rock/blues inspired, is getting so popular in amongst all the stadium and bro country. Tracks like ‘Road Runner’, ‘Hold My Halo’ and ‘Grease’ honestly wouldn’t look out of place on a Cadillac Three album, but also is the sort of sound I wish Miley Cyrus had (and still will eventually) evolved into. Then you have more Drake White-esque acoustic country ballads that make up the other half of the album.

However, even though these slower tracks probably make up the majority, I never found myself getting bored like on other slower country albums. Lainey is a tremendous lyricist, it keeping me entertained throughout alongside her catchy melodies and great playing. This is a really good country album and one I’ll be listening to a fair amount for the rest of the year! 7.5/10

Fit for a King: The Hell we Create

THIS IS HOW YOU DO MODERN METALCORE. Anyone who keeps up with this series regularly knows that I’ve done a fair bit of the old-school heavy hitters of the metalcore world, and all are either trying to play catch-up with mainstream metal trends or get lost in the shuffle trying to recapture their old magic. This does neither of these things.

It’s unapologetically heavy, the low screams being some of the best I’ve heard in a while. But it balances it perfectly with some fantastic, catchy, pop-punk like cleans. ‘End (The Other Side’ is an amazing single and a great example of what I’m getting at, incorporating both perfectly. Then you have tracks like ‘Reaper’ which, in my opinion, are the exact sound that Parkway Drive should have stayed at, it’s better than anything on their latest album. Tracks like ‘Sink Below’, ‘What You Left Behind’, and the full-on deathcore track ‘Eyes Roll Back’ are all massive highlights on an album filled to the brim with them. This is peak metalcore in 2022, and for anyone into the subgenre, check this album out. Now. 9/10

Dead Cross: II

The Mike Patton/Dave Lombardo supergroup released their second hardcore punk album. It still blows my mind to hear how many different styles Patton can pull off vocally, and this is definitely a fun departure from his Faith No More stuff. While it’s not my sort of music, I can certainly appreciate the effort and desire to do something different and push the envelope. ‘Animal Espionage’ was a lot of fun, as was the duelling vocals on various different tracks. It’s like I was transported back to the 80s underground scene with the experimentation and heaviness. 6.5/10

Massive Wagons: Triggered

Baz and the boys got angry with this one. Between ‘Fuck the Haters’, ‘Generation Prime’ and ‘A.S.S.H.O.L.E’ they are calling out everyone they can, and I love it. It’s a good contrast to their clean-cut punk-classic rock style. Wagons address plenty about the state of the world in their own comedic, attitude-filled style, including COVID and the current world culture. The title track is maybe my favourite on the album, but there isn’t really a bad track on the album. All the other tracks previously named are definite highlights, too. It’s fun, funny and a very catchy album. It’s the lovechild of Wildhearts and (ironically given they are touring together) Ugly Kid Joe and I enjoyed it a lot. 7.5/10

Check out our interview with Baz from Call of the Wild here.

Fire From the Gods: Soul Revolution

The blend of styles here was fun, but I have to say I think each different style has been done better recently by other bands. Even though vocalist AJ is from American/Jamaican decent, it gives off both Bob Vylan and Bloodwood vibes than anything else. The opening and title track is a great song, but then the following track, the lead single of the album, ‘S.O.S’, is maybe my least favourite on the album. It’s a very up and down album, with some definite highlights but some clear lower points too, for me. Tracks like ‘Double Edged Sword’ and ‘The Message’ were also highlights. If anything, the more rasta-inspired tracks were the best ones. It’s okay but felt a little one note at times. 5.5/10.

Show me the Body: Trouble the Water

I have no idea how to feel about this. The Suicidal Tendencies aspect of it was awesome, and a couple of the riffs were great, though not nearly focused on enough. The vocals grew on me more and more throughout, too. His cadence and emotion in every delivery, be it clean or harsher, was amazing. At times it felt like I was listening to The Ramones or Joy Division, and then it’d drop into something dark and heavy and remind me who it was. I grew up on the Tony Hawks games and this somehow feels like every single band on that mushed together into a single entity. ‘Food From Plate’, ‘We Came to Play’ and ‘Using It’ were personal favourites of mine. A good album that really grew on me by the end. I’ll definitely be listening to this more. 7/10

Shape of Water: Amor Fati

The Muse of the NWOCR scene, Shape of Water have gotten quite a bit of momentum behind them ahead of this release. I’m not hugely familiar with them bar a song or two, so I’m excited to check out a full album.

Though the opening track, ‘Starchild’, is epic and slow-building and everything I typically love in rock music, something about it didn’t quite click with it. After that though, it heads more into Weezer or even Heaven’s Basement direction, which I wasn’t expecting much of. There’s still some epicness, like in single ‘The Snoot’, but it’s more pop punky rock than anything else. It’s definitely good and there is plenty to like on the album, it’s just not something I thought the NWOCR movement would go for, sound wise. Then again it does have hints of Zeppelin (or at least Wolfmother) in amongst the Weezer and Muse.

I can see this band going VERY far in the next few years. They’re unique for sure, while still being familiar enough for mainstream audiences to latch onto. This will definitely taker a couple more listens to appreciate fully, but I already love it. 8/10