Tag Archives: alternative

New Music Mondays: Polaris, Phil Campbell and More!

A less busy week of new music this week, but still plenty of high quality music. Join us in checking it out!

Polaris: Fatalism

This is the best metalcore album of the year so far. Heck, I’d say it’s honestly one of the best modern metalcore albums. I’d put it up there with the likes of I Prevail, Wage War and Ice Nine Kills’ latest releases. Honestly, the genre currently is in a bit of a resurgence, and is looking massively strong and hopeful which is amazing. The 3rd wave of Metalcore(tm) I’m dubbing it. So, for Polaris’ third album to stand among the others is fucking awesome. Especially given the rocky year they’ve had.

The opener, ‘Harbinger’ is not only the perfect slow-buildup track, but (as the name suggests) is the perfect indicator of what to expect from this album. From the slower, melodic clean first half surrounded by modern synth sounds, to the crushingly brutal ending filled with screams and huge riffs. It tells a story on its own, never mind how it sets up the rest of the album.

Speaking of which, the album is filled with highlights and awesomeness. Tracks like ‘Nightmare’, ‘Parasites’ and ‘Inhumane’ are standouts to me, but honestly the whole album is banger after banger. These guys are going to be huge in the next couple of years, and a lot of it thanks to this album! 9/10

Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons: Kings of the Asylum

We’ve already covered this awesome album! Check it out here!

Larry Fleet: Earned It

Owen: Traditional sounds coming out of Tennessee, Larry Fleet’s latest release Earned It is a strong selection of straight-cut country tracks. Some might listen and say this album hits a lot of stereotypical notes for the genre, but there’s something more to these songs. Fleet sings about family, Jesus, hard work, and beer, no surprises so far. As he says in the fourth track 25-8 “Jesus, Mama, Football, that’s bout all we know around here”. But for all the pitfalls of these themes being overused in modern country, Fleet somehow pulls it off well. For it to become cliché there must be
certain amount of truth and clearly this is how Fleet was raised so write what you know I guess?

Despite some repetitive themes 21 tracks made it onto this album and it did feel a few too many. Some songs blend together and fall into the background when listening to the album in full. A late day stand out for me was ‘Devil Music’ where Fleet talks about a rebellious stage of childhood exploring rock and metal music. A country anthem referencing AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and The
Rolling Stones, where the chorus thanks God for the Devil’s music, what’s not to like? A few good songs hiding amongst a majority of filler country-radio, inoffensive in the background
on a long drive. 6/10

The Paper Kites: At the Roadhouse

Charlotte: Indie-folk band Paper Kites haven’t released new music since 2013 with their album ‘Woodland’, so the release of ‘At the Roadhouse’ is a long time coming for their fans. With storytelling at the heart, it’s easy to get lost in their romantic, easy-listening style. Offering 16 new tracks, ‘At the Roadhouse’ elevates the traditional folk sound with a warm, wholesome sound that transports you like a day-dream. 8/10

Primal Fear: Code Red

Joe: The German power metallers are back with their 14th studio album. Forming in the booming European scene in the 90s, I’m shocked this is the first I am hearing of them aside on the odd Wacken poster. Honestly, they’re pretty decent! The opener is great and followed up perfectly by ‘Bring that Noise’, which is a definite album highlight! I see now why frontman Ralf Scheepers tried to replace Rob Halford, this is very Judas Priest!

I have to admit though, as good as this album is, I feel like modern power metal has overtaken it in recent times. I don’t know if it’d the general consensus, but I personally prefer stuff like Powerwolf or Angus McSix to this. However, it is very Painkiller, which will definitely keep me coming back for more than just the one listen. Other highlights include ‘Deep in the Night’ and the epic, Maiden-esque ‘Their Gods have Failed’. 8/10, this was fun and definitely grows with more listens!

Soen: Memorial

Joe: The prog metal Swedes are back with their sixth album. I have an odd relationship with this band. The first time I’d checked them out was when we covered their ATLANTIS album last year (check that here). I didn’t realise until we were checking them out ahead of Graspop this year that it wasn’t a full release, instead being a semi-live album backed by an 8-piece orchestra. Heck, the fact that it was recorded without a crowd made it so I didn’t even realise it was live and old tracks! So, unfortunately I wasn’t a big fan of their actual studio stuff when I checked it out.

However, I fucking loved this album! While the opener didn’t hook me immediately, I found myself ‘liking’ almost every track after that on Spotify. I usually use it to know which to put on the playlist, so you’ll have to check it out here to find out which of them actually made the cut! However, the almost Gojira-like riffing in ‘Violence’ was amazing, as is the beautiful duet ‘Hollowed’. Also, ‘Incendiary’ is one of my favourite tracks of the year from any act!

I love the depth of the music throughout. They seem to have taken what worked with ATLANTIS and used it in the studio, creating a really interesting, massive sound throughout the album. If this is how they’re going to sound live in front of a crowd, I have to see them soon. 9/10, damn this was good!

Lord of Shadows: Echos of Yore

Joe: A shorter release than most, the gothic doom band put out just seven tracks for their latest release. It is still 42+ minutes though, as there are some longish songs here. And it’s one hell of an interesting listen. It’s definitely epic, and rolls between beautiful, quiet gothic rock and extreme doom metal pretty seamlessly. Plus, the fact that each track has so many amazingly talented guests on it is a massive plus, as it gives the whole album a diversity to it, despite it all being a similar sound.

Those who are regulars here at Overtone know that I have a very up and down relationship with extreme/black metal stuff, and somehow I have that same relationship throughout the whole album. I prefer the cleaner stuff, but some of the heavy stuff is good too. Some of it isn’t really my thing. However, the general feel of the album, especially with the more poetry-based narrative, is amazing. Those who are into the ambient black metal side of stuff, this is definitely worth checking out, just to see if you like it. I feel like it’s very much Marmite music! 6/10, it’s worth checking out!

Escape the Fate: Out of the Shadows

Joe: This band have been releasing music for nearly two decades now. Man do I feel old. Though I admit I was never much of a fan of the band growing up, nowhere near as much as some of my friends and peers anyway, they dud have a few good songs here and there. However, I always find myself preferring the current and former members of the band’s other projects more. Whether it’s Blessthefall, Beyond Unbroken or the awesome Falling in Reverse, every other band just seems to grab my attention more.

This album is the perfect example of why this is. It’s fine. As an early 2000s metalcore/post-hardore band putting out an album in 2023, it’s exactly what you’d imagine. But that’s my issue: nothing stood out. It’s like they heard out good Motionless in White’s album was last year and went ‘let’s do that!’ but then in the process lost what made that album special. When these days we have awesome modern albums in the genre from the likes of MIW, Ice Nine Kills, and Crown the Empire, this just kinda falls as almost radio static.

If you’re a fan of the band you’ll probably still enjoy this. However I struggled to find stand out tracks, it was all pretty much on the same level. 4.5/10

Speedy Ortiz:

Charlotte: Speedy Ortiz welcomes her touring bandmates with fourth studio album ‘Rabbit Rabbit’. This album nostalgically transports you to a 90s/00s indie-rock soundtrack with bright vocals, catchy riffs, and upbeat-dance beats. I recommend this album to anyone looking for an indie-rock change of pace, youthful energy and that overall optimism occasionally missing from the indie-rock genre. 8.5/10

Negative Energy: Are Vexed the Futures of the UK Heavy Scene?

British alt metal/deathcore band Vexed returned last week with their sophomore album. After setting the underground scene on fire with their debut back in 2021, the band return with even more anger, heaviness and drive. Without further ado, let’s dive into the review!

After a brief, perfectly building intro track, the album explodes in with the lead single, ‘Anti-Fetish’. A sludgy, modern deathcore riff leads to some fantastic heavy growls from Megan Targett. Despite the heaviness, the chorus is surprisingly catchy, the vocals cleaning up slightly at times. This heavier edge than their previous sound reminds me a lot of Darko US, which is fine by me. It definitely has the same quirkiness and energy; aggression and talent and passion.

Check out similar music here.

‘We don’t talk about it’ is pretty similar in feel and structure to the previous track. However, it does have a slightly more radio friendly feel to it. The spoken work stuff was cool, too, adding an almost Marylin Manson quality to it all.

‘X my <3’ is a banger, despite it’s cringy (albeit clever) title. Opening with the catchy, almost radio-friendly chorus was a great call. The guitars are a little less out there and technical, too, it being more of a sludgy, groovy wall of heavy. The fully clean vocals were a nice touch too, only making the screams even heavier. The breakdown was tasty too, the bends being amazing and reminding me a little of early Architects. It’s one of my favourite tracks on the album and easily makes the playlist.

The chuggy opener of ‘Panic Attack’ is fun, the drum tone almost giving off Slipknot vibes with that massive hit between guitar notes. The quick vocal delivery almost confirmed the sound too, while the brutal screams for the chorus backed by the rather open groove-metal instrumentation made for an interesting dynamic. It somehow fits the subject matter perfectly too, the claustrophobic, fast riffing combining with the slower(ish) drums making everything feel close and anxious. Another amazing track.

Alpha Wolf lends their talents perfectly for ‘Lay down your flowers’. The added male screams added some fun variety, especially when they are higher and more metalcore. The whole track has a metalcore style to it, from the quick guitar runs to the quieter interlude in the middle. It was a nice way to break-up the album after a few fairly similar tracks. Clearly, I need to check out more Alpha Wolf, as his vocals were great!

Unfortunately, ‘There’s no place like home’ is where I start to really feel the album. While Overtone has helped me get into the heavier end of music a lot, like this band and album, I’m a sucker for variety. My brain gets easily distracted and if a lot of tracks sound similar, it’ll want to check out something else. As much as I love this album and love each individual track, it did start to wear on me a little by the halfway mark. 45+ minutes of balls to the wall melodeath is a bit much for me, where’s the ballad, Vexed? Still, as I’ve said, I loved each track individually, and feel like this all would be INCREDIBLE live.

Ironically, I’m obsessed with the following track ‘Extremist’. The way everything was stabbing on each beat, the drums, vocals and guitars all working in sync together, was AMAZING. It’s so incredibly written and packs one hell of a punch. The whole track is great, but those verses are somthing else. It’s another massive highlight of the album, and another track that makes the playlist!

Tracks like ‘Default’ and closer ‘Nepotism’ are similar to a lot of the rest. However, to Vexed ‘s credit, single ‘Trauma Euphoria’ and ‘It’s not the End’ both mix it up a bit. Both feature more of a focus on cleaner vocals and slower, radio-friendlier sections around the heavy, harsh screams. The former is a very good choice as a single as it combines the bands trademark heaviness with a genuinely huge, anthemic and catchy chorus. Oh, and it also has a fantastic guitar solo, something I have only just realised now have been absent for much of the album. It only made this one hit harder, though, it was awesome. The track could be massive off that chorus alone, and it should, as it’s amazing. Playlisted!

Meanwhile the latter feels the closest thing to a ballad the album has. It opens slow and clean, decending into a very angry chorus. The ambient sounds behind it though is so beautiful and so Spiritbox. Controversial opinion though, Vexed do it better than Spiritbox. It’s another highlight track of the album, and I only wish it was put earlier on to break things up a little more.

Overall: I LOVED THIS. While the whole album was amazing, there’s a good 5/6 tracks here that are going to stay in my frequent rotation for the rest of the year, guaranteed. Given that I am typically not as into this style as a lot of others are, I couldn’t get enough of it. They’re the sub-genre leaders after this, in my opinion, and they are going to be a massive deal in the years to come. They have a big new fan in me, and now I just need to see this live!

The score: 9.5/10