Tag Archives: Country

New Music Mondays: Måneskin, New Found Glory and More!

Måneskin: RUSH!

The band that all the young people are obsessed with due to their (sometimes) punk attitude and catchy Eurovision song a couple of years back, Maneskin are back with their first album since exploding into superstardom. There is a LOT of hype to live up to this release, but does it manage to?

In this humble writers opinion… no, no it does not. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with it (aside the massively bloated length), and I’m sure the kids on TikTok will go mad for it. But for the sheer amount of love this band get, it’s nothing special. There are a lot more rock bands that get nowhere near as much love that I would say have released better music.

Having said that, there are some good tracks on here. ‘GOSSIP’ is a fun, catchy track and Morello does a typically amazing job for his guest spot. Tracks like ‘IF NOT FOR YOU’ and closer ‘THE LONELIEST’ are fantastic ballads. ‘LA FINE’ is, well, exactly that.

There is also some right drivel, though. ‘BLA BLA BLA’ is the worst track I have ever covered here at Overtone, and I covered Devin Townsend’s Puzzle and Snuggles. ‘BABY SAID’ feels like a worse Arctic Monkeys track. And the odd ‘KOOL KIDS’ (where Damiano attempts a terrible English accent) seems to be attacking a large portion of their own fanbase.

Fans of pop music will probably love this as they will like to think this is them being a rock fan. However, it is practically pop music. Some of it is good pop music, some of it is god awful. In the band’s own words, ‘you’re not iconic, you’re just like them all’… I’ll see myself out! 4/10

New Found Glory: Make the Most of It

One of the most underrated pop-punk bands ever, New Found Glory returned with their 12th album this week. I have to say, it’s lighter than I expected. It’s a LOT of ballads. Like seven ballads and seven live recordings. It made me go and have a look to see if it was an official album, but the band are classing it as one so so am I.

However, it’s a good album. The slower pop-punk style has grown on me in recent years, in large part thanks to Simple Plan, and this knocks that style out of the park. The harmonies are a huge highlight of the album, as are the choruses in general. But the album is so simple yet so very effective, it’s hard not to praise it all. Even the live tracks were slower, acoustic tracks. It’s a chilled out, fun but emotional album that I already have stuck in my head due to how catchy it is. 8/10

HARDY: the mockingbird & THE CROW

This fucking thing is 17 tracks long and goes on for over an hour. No matter how good it all is, can we STOP WITH THE BLOATED COUNTRY ALBUMS NOW PLEASE?

It’s generally a good album. However, it’s all very bro/stadium country. When you think of any country music released in the last 15 years or so that isn’t a fun partying song, I can guarantee it sounds like all of this. I got bored around five tracks in and it never really regained my attention.

That is, until THE CROW arrives, and turns this review and this reviewer both on their respective heads.

Wow. Okay. Give me a minute to just word vomit as after three days I’m still trying to process it properly.

The first half of the album (exactly half too, I know), the lower case half, is slower country stuff that he writes for other people, FGL etc. Then, he sheds the mockingbird persona, writing his own style of music and becomes the final form of Kid Rock. It’s fucking awesome. Just check out the transformation video below, it explains it all perfectly and sounds incredible. Then, it features everything from country rock to pop-punk to straight-up metal for the rest of the album, and I can’t get enough. ‘RADIO SONG’ is not only a satirical track making fun of country norms, but has an ironically fantastic chorus and a HEAVY FUCKING BREAKDOWN featuring Jeremy of ADTR. What more could you want?

I’ve rambled on enough about this album but honestly, check it out. As a fan of creative, out-of-the-box storytelling, especially in music where it is not done all too often any more, I loved the concept for this. And the music fully backed it up, too. Everyone will find something to love on here. And, while I still think the album could trim the fat just a little with a couple of tracks, I still can’t not give it a rare 10/10

Katatonia: Sky Void of Stars

The Swedish prog metal titans are back with their 12th studio album. While I have to admit I wasn’t too familiar with the band outside of the name, I really enjoyed this! I have a sometimes strained relationship with prog since starting Overtone, but this band kept things interesting enough throughout with changing riffs and dynamics. ‘Colossal Shade’ hooked me in immediately with that stomping, mid-tempo riff and remains a favourite track of mine on the album. ‘Birds’ was a beautiful faster track, sounding almost ethereal and had some catchy elements. The closing two tracks are also fantastic, feeling suitably epic. While not quite as mind-blowing as the previous album on this list, it’s still a damn good album and a must for anyone into proggier stuff. 8/10

Black Star Riders: Wrong Side of Paradise

The spiritual successor of Thin Lizzy put out their fifth studio album last Friday. So, if you’re a fan of the old band or its newer incarnation, chances are you’ll love this. However, that’s hardly a bad thing. Single ‘Better Than Saturday Night’ wouldn’t seem out of place among Lizzy’s greatest hits, it’s that good. However, I struggled to hear Joe Elliott on it, if Spotify didn’t tell me I would have never known. Tracks like ‘Green and Troubled Land’ and ‘Burning Rome’ are also personal highlights of mine. It’s honestly hard to find something to talk or complain about, it’s simply a good, solid Black Star Riders album. It’s nice to hear Ricky sounding as good as ever after his health issues during the pandemic! 7/10

Check out our interview with Ricky himself here.

Twilight Force: At the Heart of Wintervale

Our first power metal album of 2023 on this page, and it’s a damn good one! If you heard power metal and saw the album artwork before reading this, you’ll know exactly what to expect. Soaring vocals, quick drumming and lead lines and enough epiness to make Howard Shore hard. Whether it’s the massive, quick opener or the epic, slower ten-and-a-half minute epic ‘Highlands of the Elder Dragon’, this is maybe the most epic music I have ever heard. If anything, it was a little too fantasy storybook for me. It got a bit too musical theatre/Christmas movie for me at certain points. Still though, I cannot deny the bands talent for playing and songwriting. 7/10, it definitely won’t be the last tie I listen to a couple of these tracks.

For I Am King: Crown

This album has come out at the perfect time. Not only have Lorna Shore pushed deathcore deeper into the mainstream than the sub-genre has ever been before, but female screams are also at the height of their appeal and popularity due to bands like Jinjer, Spiritbox and Cage Fight. With any luck, For I Am King could ride this phenomenal album to the top because of this.

‘Liars’ was a standout track to me, a very good choice for the album’s lead single. It’s brutal, heavy and yet somehow maintains a catchy, melodic edge to it all. That’s pretty much the story through the whole album, too. Crushing riffs and breakdowns, insane drums, and harsh yet earworm vocals. Tracks like ‘Barriers’ and ‘Bloodline’ are also personal highlights of mine, but there isn’t a bad track on the album. 8/10

Tidal Wave: The Lord Knows

Well, this is damn fun groovy, grungy slab of desert rock nestled in with the heavier stuff, isn’t it? The bastard love child of Queens of the Stone Age and The Sword, I love it. It’s all about the fuzzy riffs and big sounds, but the Mastadon-like vocals are also impressive and fit so well. The album is chock full of highlights too, I can’t pick just one or two tracks to name. From the QOTSA-esque opener to the faster paced, heavier single ‘ End of the Line’ to the slower, plodding epicness of ‘By Order of the King’, it’s all excellent. This will be one I’ll be listening to on and off for the rest of the year, and the band have a huge new fan in me. 9/10

Oak Pantheon: The Absence

This is one of the first atmospheric black metal bands I think I’ve truly ‘got’. While I still wouldn’t sit down and listen to a track on a one off too much, I really enjoyed listening to the album in full and it gave me a new appreciation of the black metal genre. From the slow build of the acoustic-based intro to the absolute bop that is ‘Listen!’ (it has clean vocals in it *shocked face*), this was an extremely well put together and dynamic album. Even the shorter tracks had enough melody to them to keep me gripped throughout. ‘Dissociate’ was another banger, as was ‘Decisions’. But of course, the proggy epic ‘Silence We Plead’ is still awesome too. 9/10, am I a black metal fan now?

SKÁLD: Huldufólk

This is a new one for us, as it bares really no basis at all in rock music. However, it is dark AF folk music that feels heavier than some of the music on this list, which earnt its place. If anyone has played or watched THe Witcher at any point in their lives, it’s essentially the music from that. It’s fucking AWESOME. There’s even screams in here, so it’s practically metal, right? It also gives me heavy The Hu vibes with the chanting, tribal-style vocals. It’s hard to pick specific highlights as it all sounded pretty similar, but it was all enjoyable and I’d definitely recommend if you want something out of the ordinary! 7/10

Did you enjoy the article? Check out more of them from our Instagram here.

Top 10 Most Anticipated Albums of 2023

Now that we are somehow in 2023 already, we have a brand new 12 months of music ahead of us to be checking out. Plenty of artists have announced or been teasing albums for the upcoming months, and we thought we’d yet again highlight a few of our most anticipated for you. Now, this is by no means all of them, and there are again too many honourable mentions to name. These are just some of the ones us here at Overtone are most looking forward to!

Metallica: 72 Seasons – 14th April

Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first. Metallica announced they’ll be releasing their 11th studio album in April of this year. Need I say more? Announced at the back end of November alongside the release of it’s lead single, ‘Lux Æterna’, it sent the internet into a frenzy. The track itself harkens back to their debut album in terms of sound and composition, and if they keep that up throughout the album, they’ll definitely have a LOT of happy fans.

While Metallica definitely get their fair share of (mostly unwarranted) hate and detractors, there’s no denying that good or bad, this will be one of the most talked about albums of the year. Speaking as a nearly life-long Metallica fan myself, it is definitely one of my most anticipated albums of the year.

Avatar: Dance Devil Dance – 17th February

A slightly more left field one now, but Avatar have been quietly bubbling away since the pandemic, putting out some cracking music. I have to admit I lost track of their singles recently, with them putting out five stand-alone tracks before starting to put out singles for their upcoming ninth album. However, sitting here listening to the three singles from the February as I write this article, they are all fantastic and have me hugely hyped. It sounds like they have drawn together the sound of their last few albums into something truly special. Heck, I remember reviewing their last album very highly upon its release and still listen to it through occasionally to this day. So yes, this is definitely a very anticipated album, at least here at Overtone!

Måneskin: Rush! – 20th January

Now, yes, we here at Overtone have been rather critical of the Eurovision winners over the last year or two. I personally don’t get the hype. Musically they are nothing special by any stretch, and are only getting big due to their punk aesthetic and attitude. That’s not a bad thing, and they definitely have at least a slight anti-establishment message, but it’d be nice if the music backed it up too. Having said all of that, they are the biggest upcoming band in the world currently, so they had to make this list.

The singles are fine. They’re inoffensive pop-rock tracks. It doesn’t sound much different from their big tracks, aside for the Maroon 5-esque ‘THE LONLIEST’ (which is good), so if you like ‘ZITTI E BUONI’ you’ll probably love it. They all have bits I really like though and I definitely wouldn’t turn any of them off if they came on. Who knows, maybe they’ll win us round with this album. That alone puts it on this list for us!

Pierce the Veil: The Jaws of Life – 10th February

Confession time… Max specifically requested this to be on the list, I wasn’t too fussed. The two singles so far have been pretty polarising for me. ‘Emergency Contact’ was very Feeder, which meh, while ‘Pass the Nirvana’ channelled some Dinosaur Pile-Up vibes which was awesome. Either way, I honestly thought the band were heavier than this. Going back to their older stuff, the stuff that I’m at least semi-familiar with, I was right. Collide with the Sky is more of ADTR meets MCR, and I remembered I actually quite liked this band. Is morbid curiosity to hear what the rest of the album sounds like enough to be one of the most anticipated albums? I mean, considering how big they are, yes, yes it is. Love that chorus for ‘…Nirvana’ though.

Babymetal: The Other One – 24th March

Another of the biggest bands of the last few years and a band that have felt like they’ve been ‘upcoming’ for ages now (c’mon guys, lets pull the trigger, we all know everyone loves them), Babymetal are releasing their fourth album this year.

This is another band I didn’t get at first, but I’ve become a big fan in recent years, in large part to their stageshow. Having said that, the two singles the band have put out so far for this album have been excellent. The heaviness is there, the amazing talent of the backing band is there, and the impressive and hugely catchy vocals are maybe better than ever. The band seem to have returned from their hiatus with a renewed passion and drive. This could be one of the biggest rock albums of 2023, so is definitely one of the most anticipated!

Avenged Sevenfold: Untitled

The only one to carry over from last year’s list, the wait from 2016’s The Stage is getting unbearable. For one of the biggest bands of this century, seven years is a long wait between albums. Especially when The Stage was so good. I’ve heard very little about the progress of this album over the last 12 months, so I’ve just got to live in hope that it is finally released soon! For now, check out one of the best tracks off the last album while we wait.

Ward XVI: Untitled

Continuing on with as-yet-unannounced albums that are sure to come in the next 12 months, one of the UK’s best underground bands are heading back into the studio early this year to record part three of their album trilogy. I’ve grown to know their music pretty well since I first saw them live just over a month ago, and cannot wait to see where the story and sound goes, following on from Metamorphosis. While they are certainly not the biggest band on this list, they have the potential to release the best, most interesting album out of all the artists on here.

Mercyful Fate: Untitled

You knew this had to show up on our list. Though not officially announced yet, with no title or release date known, the band performed their first new material (and first show) since 1999 back last summer, so we can’t have to wait much longer! Back in 2020, guitarist Hank Shermann stated that he’d already written ‘six or seven songs’ for a new album, and it seems that said songs are finally getting close to being ready for release. Seeing the live footage of ‘The Jackal of Salzberg’ has me excited too, it sounds great. It’s been a long 24 years, but we may finally have new Mercyful Fate by the end of the year!

Blink 182: Unannounced

Onto maybe just hopeful guesswork now. However, Tom DeLonge re-joining the pop punk titans, them announcing an extensive tour over the next two years AND putting out a new single a couple of months ago, surely there must be some more releases in the works soon? As I said, the touring is extensive, but there are a few healthy gaps in there, like the entirety of April and August. I’m sure it’s mainly to spend time with their families, but they can squeeze some recording in there too, right? It might be wishful thinking, but it’s still a very anticipated album, if it ever happens.

Cody Jinks: Unannounced

Another one from the rumour mill, but at least this has some merit to it. Cody was in the studio in 2022. Now, whether that’s for his solo country stuff or another release from his metal band Caned By Nod, either way it’s darn exciting. The man has my favourite voice of all time when it comes to country, and it translates surprisingly well over to rock too. Hopefully not only does this mean he’ll put out new music in some capacity this year, but that he’ll finally come to the UK soon. I’m dying to see him, and an album is the perfect excuse for a world tour, right?

And there we have it folks. What are your most anticipated albums of this year? Let us know on our Facebook here.

The Top Albums of 2022

This was the hardest thing I’ve had to do for Overtone so far. 448 albums we’ve covered on New Music Mondays over the last year, so trying to whittle it down to just the best 50 seemed like an impossible task. So, if anyone is offended by this list, I’m sorry, but it is all personal preference from us here at Overtone. The three of us voted, arranged it accordingly, and here it is. 50 of the top albums of 2022, let’s just get into it!

Unfortunately we are going to have to skip the honourable mentions or this list would be twice as long. But trust me when I say there were SO MANY other albums we wanted to include on here. Aside for the new Slash album. And Machine Gun Kelly’s latest album. Yeah, fuck those albums.

50: Nickelback – Get Rollin’

I know, I know, the cojones on me, right? Starting off with the world’s most hated band (aside for maybe Coldplay or Imagine Dragons). But, hear me out… it’s a really good album.

You know what you’re getting with Nickelback, don’t get me wrong, but this album is the band at their Nickelbacky best. From the heavier opening couple of tracks to ALL THE BALLADS, ever track is pretty great. Is it as good as it could have been? Probably not. But that doesn’t stop this from being a damn good album and my favourite by them since Dark Horse. A fitting start to the list, in my not-so-humble opinion, hence why it got an 8/10 from us. Check it out if you don’t believe me and try and tell me otherwise!

Listen to: San Quentin, Skinny Little Missy, Does Heaven Even Know You’re Missing?.

49: Elles Bailey – Shining in the Half Light

The Queen of modern blues rock, Elles Bailey returned this year with her new album and maybe her best work to date. A lot of this list is pretty heavy, so it’s nice to write about one of the most relaxed albums we covered this year. There’s a reason it’s getting heaps of praise from other journalists, too, it’s awesome. If you’re a fan of the slower, stripped back , old-school style of rock, this is definitely for you!

We gave it a 9/10, and it’s easy to see why!

Listen to: Who’s That, The Game, Cheats and Liars.

48: Patient Sixty-Seven – Wishful Thinking

Three albums in and already some metalcore… that tracks. The Australian outfit have gained quite the cult following as of late due to being really quite good at social media. However, this debut album is also excellent. It feels like classic early metalcore, with plenty of heavy riffs, growls and breakdowns. However there is that awesome Sleeping with Sirens-style clean melody at points throughout too that hook in even the most anti-metal of people.

8.5/10 seems pretty apt for this album, and I cannot wait to hear where they go from here. Hopefully it’s over to the UK soon so I can see it live!

Check out our review of the album here.

Listen to: Scattered, Fatebringer, Wayfarer.

47: Demi Lovato – Holy Fvck

Charlotte: This is the album I didn’t know I needed. It’s raw, powerful and unconditionally honest. Demi Lovato shifts her pop era aside for heavy riffs (thank you Nita Strauss) and powerhouse vocals (which Demi always had but the rock genre highlights this even more so). Demi is honest about her experiences and calls out anyone attempting to diminish or silence her voice. The album’s mix is astonishing – the sound engineering is incredible and makes me appreciate it even more. I’m also in love with her special features – thank you for bringing these collaborations into existence. Long may this era continue.

Demi Lovato – EAT ME Ft Royal & the Serpent

Listen to: SKIN OF MY TEETH, 29, CITY OF ANGELS.

46: Amongst Liars – Self-Titled

The heavy, dark indie rock music continues with Amongst Liars’ amazing debut album. Riffs and catchy melodies abound, this is excellent from start to finish. Like I said in my review, it was one of the few albums on NMM that I listened to from start to finish immediately, and I have done so multiple times since. It grabs hold of your attention and holds it by the balls for the entire 40+ minute runtime. There are plenty of standout tracks on here but there isn’t a bad track on the album. We gave it an 8/10 but I’mma bump that up to an 8.5!

Listen to: Reign, Burn the Vision, Black Days.

45: Tough On Fridays – The Encore you Didn’t Ask For

One of the most recent albums released on this list, this was damn impressive when I checked it out. Considering I’d never heard of the band before, they blew me away and made me a massive new fan. The band’s unique blend of pop-punk, indie and hard rock made for a ridiculously enjoyable listen. There are plenty of good tracks on here that I’ve listened to a lot since first checking them out. This band deserve to be a lot bigger than they are. We gave it a very deserving 9/10 and it definitely deserves being on this list!

Listen to: Overboard!, Sink or Swim, The Awakening.

44: Dynazty – Final Advent

The perfect blend of power metal and AOR I didn’t know I needed until I first heard this album. It’s heavy, catchy, anthemic but somehow has a slight Sleaze edge to it all too that I cannot get enough of. Every member of the band is insanely talented, too. The vocals sore powerfully across an impressive range while the soloing is some of the best and smoothest I’ve ever heard, especially from a modern band. Max gave them a 9/10 and I can’t disagree, it’s an amazing album!

Listen to: Advent, The White, Yours.

43: Cage Fight – Self-Titled

This is how you debut as a heavy band. It’s brutal throughout and such an impressive display of talent and songwriting. Their brand of thrash/hardcore/beatdown/whatever the hell else is mixed in here is a lot of fun and infectiously heavy. If you’re a fan of the heavier side of metal you’ll love this just like I did. There isn’t much along the way of dynamics and highs and lows, but if you like being punched in the face for 40+ minutes straight, this is the album for you! we gave it a 9/10 so you’ve gotta check it out!

Listen to: Killer, Make A Decision, Respect Ends.

42: RXPTRS – Living Without Death’s Permission

A band that have exploded over the last six months or so after the release of this album, and it’s hard to argue otherwise, it is very good. Walking the line perfectly between metalcore and hard rock, Simon and the gang broach some really deep topics as they slap us in the face with heavy riffs and amazing melodies. It’s a unique style and one that is clearly going to get them far over the next few years. It’s the perfect mix of modern and old-school, and got a very deserving 9/10 from us!

Check out our interview with Simon here.

Listen to: Collapse, Burning Pages, Rock Bottom (Is a Stepping Stone).

41: Black Mirrors – Tomorrow Will be Without Us

The message behind this album is phenomenal, and has kept me coming back to it again and again since its release. Addressing the state of the world and how we are ruining it is always a deep talking point, but to handle it so well across a 10-track album is damn impressive. The folky ‘Ode to my Unborn Child’ has me going back again and again as it’s so emotional, leaving me covered in goose bumps. Meanwhile their usual brand of grungy stoner rock is on full display across the rest of the album, showing off their fantastic range and songwriting skill.

This is a really good album that deserves to be higher, but the sheer quality of this years releases made that impossible. Still, we gave it a huge 9/10 and a spot on this list!

Also check out our interview with the band here.

Listen to: Hateful Hate, I’ll Kill You, Snake Oil, Ode to my Unborn Child.

New Music Mondays: Green King, Adam Warner and More!

The last of these before the holidays, it’s only a short one this week. However, there is still some great new music released, so let’s look at it!

Green King: Hidden Beyond Time

Firstly, this is a damn good debut album. Surprisingly enough, this won’t be the first time I’m saying that this week, either.

This is a great combination of heavy metal sounds. There’s a lot of NWOBHM in there, some sludgy stoner/doom stuff, and a LOT of early Metallica thrash. His voice reminds me a lot of a young Hetfield. But then the riffing, while a bit more upbeat, remind me of a combination of Mercyful Fate, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. Tracks like ‘Gates of Annihilation’ and ‘Steel and Ice’ are definite highlights, but it’s also just a strong album overall. If you’re going to listen to them, check out the whole album. At only 7/8 tracks and just over half an hour long, you have no excuse!

If you’re a fan of any of the bands or genres I’ve named above you need to check this out, you won’t be disappointed. 8/10.

Adam Warner: What We’re Known For

Time for some country now, which seems rare in winter. Adam‘s third album is his most ambitious yet, and looks set to catapult him to new heights. His country/blues swagger is on full display on tracks like the title one, ‘Catchin’ Hell’ and ‘Got Started’, while tracks like ‘Split a Beer’ and ‘Like Daddy Did’ shows off his slower, balladier side. And of course single ‘Reason to Redneck’ is a massive highlight, being infectiously catchy and surprisingly well written given the lyrics. Also, of course his cover of the Charlie Daniels Band’s incredible ‘Long Haired Country Boy’ is amazing, too.

Check out more country content here.

Unlike a lot of country albums these days, too, it’s incredibly well structured and balanced. It’s not overly long, just 12 tracks and 35-minutes. And there’s a pretty decent ratio (and spread out too) of ballads and rockier tracks. This is one of the better country albums that I’ve reviewed by far, and I’ll be listening to this a lot over the next few months! 9/10

Highway Queen: Bitter Soul

Another great debut album this week. Opening straight into the foot-stomping, hard rock anthem ‘Hey!’, it sets the tone and pace right from the offset. From the dark heaviness of ‘Get on Your Knees’ and ‘?’ to the more AOR-leaning, melodic ‘Here I Am’, the band clearly have a lot of talent and wear their inspiration on their sleeves. There’s some fantastic riffs and a lot of amazing melodic vocals throughout the entire album, and it’s one hell of a debut. The title track and the slow, epic closing track ‘Own Will’ are also massive highlights to a great album. 8/10, the band have a new big fan in me!

Bloodclot: Souls

The heaviest band to close out the year, how fitting. It’s a great thrash album and VERY Slayer. The opening and title track of the album could be ripped straight off South of Heaven and I love it. However, it does also have some awesome Gojira like riffs thrown in there for good measure, too. ‘Unhinged’ is just over a minute of thrash awesomeness and ‘Infectious’ was a more hardcore punk track, and a lot of fun. Plus, their cover of Bad Brains’ ‘How Low Can Punk Get’ is awesome and fun too! A great follow-up to their debut and I’d highly recommend them for anyone into the faster stuff! 7.5/10.

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

Did you enjoy our reviews? Check out more of our content from our Instagram here.

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.

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

New Music Mondays: Architects, Ugly Kid Joe and More!

Another week of awesome new music, from classic rock to metalcore. Check it all out down below!

Architects: the classic symptoms of a broken spirit

I’m sorry, didn’t Architects used to be heavy and… y’know… interesting? Sempiternal came out nearly a decade ago at this point, yet metalcore is STILL trying to replicate its sound and success. This album didn’t do so well as others this year, or even earlier Architects albums. It’s not bad, but it’s incredible predicable and radio friendly. The band that wrote the epic Daybreaker and Lost Forever have officially lost their fangs, falling into the same fame-baiting, pop-leaning pattern that a lot of other metalcore bands have found themselves in.

Outside of the actually heavy closing track, the whole album feels so subdued. Gone is the slight edge they had left on their last album. Heck, even the strings, the best part of For Those That Wish to Exist, have been replaced by synths. It’s made the wall-of-sound mixing style they have even harder for me to digest; nothing stands out or impacts, even the odd big riff or breakdown hits the same as everything else. I know this is an already incredibly divisive album, and a lot of people love it. I’ve tried hard but I just can’t. Hopefully it’s at least the direction the band want to go and that they’re happy with the record instead of them being creatively dry. Even a return to the Holy Hell style would be hugely appreciated after this! 3.5/10

Ugly Kid Joe: Red Wings of Destiny

This was surprisingly, unfortunately average. Being a big fan of the bands earlier work, I was excited to hear how they sound these days. Okay. They sound okay these days.

None of this was bad by any stretch, but none of it was amazing either. It reminded me more of 2000s Red Hot Chili Peppers than the fun, energy and swagger filled band everyone loved them as back in the 90s. This was essentially a soft rock album with a couple of grungier tracks thrown in for good measure. That’s not bad at all, but not quite what I was hoping for or expecting. Heck, the guys are 30 years older and more mature than they were when they wrote ‘Everything About You’, of course it would mean they sound different to that. As I said, I was just hoping the fun element was still here.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad. The band did a cracking cover of The Kinks’ ‘Lola’, and ‘Dead Friends Play’ is a bittersweet track about the rock legends we’ve lost over the years. And it’s a stomping blues rock track and my favourite on the album. It reminds me of early Dead Daisies, which I cannot at all complain about! Even the closing track is country-inspired fun. But overall, another slightly disappointing, meh album. 4/10. oh, and of course, the Judas Priest reference for the album title is also great.

Avantasia: A Paranormal Evening with the Moonflower Society

The epic, metal opera band released the best album they’ve put out in years with their ninth. Whether it’s Tobias himself taking the lead or incredible guest vocals from the likes of Floor Jansen, Geoff Tate or Michael Kiske, it’s all hugely epic, massively talented, and a real joy to listen to. With all of the effort put into the story and characters for the videos/artwork, I want to see one of these as a full stage show more than anything. It’s so theatrical in all aspects that it would make for an incredible musical.

It’s another album with not a bad song on it, and honestly, I’d put it up against any other power metal-style album of the last decade, it’s that good. Check this out, no matter what sort of music you are into. You’ll find something to love, I’m sure. This will be on heavy rotation for me for months to come, and I’m more than happy about that! 9/10

Simple Minds: Direction of the Heart

When this company started last year, I did not think I’d be sat here on a Sunday afternoon covering a Simple Minds album. If I’m honest, I didn’t even know they were still a thing. So, not once did I think it’d actually be a pretty good album!

Don’t get me wrong, this definitely my sort of thing through and through. After the first three or four tracks I felt like I’d heard everything this album had to offer. However, it’s Simple Minds, I knew what to expect heading into it and was not disappointed. Tracks like ‘Human Traffic’, ‘Who Killed Truth?’ and ‘Act of Love’ are all highlights and honestly just as good as any other big Simple Minds songs. I don’t know if it’s just me not being a big fan of the band, but they sound just as good as ever to me.

A good album and one well worth checking out if you’re a fan of the band or soft rock/new wave music. 6.5/10

Exhumed: To the Dead

Time to change the pace. Death metal, anyone? Or deathgrind, as they are now being referred to, apparently. Either way, the bands ninth album goes just as hard as ever. I have to admit while I’m definitely getting into much more death these days thanks to Overtone, some of the vocals still felt a bit much for me. The usual screams were fine, but the lower, early Cannibal Corpse style ones were too far back in the mix and too growly for me to really enjoy. However, the riffs throughout the whole album were sick, and the drummer was the real highlight o it all, working a blinding pace from start to finish. I feel like I’d get a lot more out of hearing this stuff live than on track. It’s good, and if you like the sub-genre you’ll definitely love it, but it may take me a few more listens to truly appreciate. 6/10

Stryper: The Final Battle

The glam metal/NWOHM band get a lot of stick for being overtly Christian, but those who choose not to listen to them because of this are missing out on some damn good music. Their back catalogue speaks for itself and this, their fourteenth album, shows that the band very much still has it.

‘Transgressor’ is a powerful, fast-paced intro track full of some very solid drums, a great vocal performance and even a HEAVY riff behind an impressive guitar solo. ‘See No Evil, Hear No Evil’ is a highlight of the album for sure, giving off heavy Painkiller vibes and having an infectiously catchy chorus. Then there are tracks like ‘Same Old Story’ ‘Rise to the Call’ and ‘Ashes to Ashes’ that feel just like modern day Saxon, in both sound and quality. Overall, it’s just a solid heavy metal album. It’s hard to pick fault with it, but there also isn’t a massive amount that stands out. 6.5/10

The New Roses: Sweet Poison

We’ve already checked this out. It’s awesome. Check it out here.

Avatarium: Death, Where is your Sting

The prog/doom metal band returned this last week with their fifth studio album. While not an active touring member of the band, Candlemass alumni Leif Edling can very much still be heard in the songwriting process. However, although I used to be a fairly big Candlemass fan back in my teens, I didn’t get on with this album too much. I don’t know what it was, either.

The instrumentation, although a tad reserved and boring, was good. And Jennie-Ann Smith’s bassey, bluesy voice sounds as great as ever. But it all just felt like moody, depressing, dark Fleetwood Mac, but without the catchiness. Or a less fun Ghost. None of it is inherently bad, but it did nothing to grip me. I don’t think I’m goth enough for this sort of thing anymore. ‘Stockholm’ was probably the highlight, just because the riff was pretty decent. As I said, it’s not bad, and would probably make for good background music or as a movie soundtrack. But to sit down and analyse, this was a slog. 4.5/10

Spencer Crandall: Western

The country singer/songwriter came back with his fourth studio album this last week. It’s another far too long country album, a plague in 2022, as it seems. Seeing it was 20 tracks long almost brought a tear to my eye. However, it’s still a pretty decent album despite it’s obvious bloatedness.

‘Didn’t Do’, ‘Girls Like You’ and ‘Red Flags’ are all good tracks, if rather pop-centric. However, they are also surrounded by a lot of average tracks as well. This album could have easily been half the length and been a much better release. Still, if you like modern stadium-country music, you’ll probably find enough here to enjoy! 4.5/10

Brutus: Unison Life

The post-hardcore Belgians released their highly anticipated fourth album last Friday. Considering I’m not a huge fan of the genre, I found myself enjoying this a lot. From the slow-build intro of ‘Miles Away’ into the heavy, open and MASSIVE ‘Brave’, it’s a cracking way to open an album. ‘Victoria’ almost felt ballad-like in its execution; and was a good one at that. The more this album went on, the less post-hardcore it felt. It’s just a good pop-rock album. ‘Dust’ was a highlight for me. One of the heavier tracks on the album, the Americana-style guitar tone and chords combined with the great drumming, dirty bass and slightly harsh vocals made for one hell of a song. The whole album is dark, brooding and a lot of fun, even if it does all blur into one a bit by the end. 7/10

Sloan: Steady

The 13th album from one of Canada’s biggest bands of the last 25 years is another good one. Canada’s late answer to Status Quo have an innate quality to write incredibly catchy songs throughout. That probably has something to do with every band member taking the helm of lead vocals at different times, meaning that there are plenty of fantastic harmonies across the whole album.

Tracks like the opener, ‘Scratch the Surface’ and ‘Simply Leaving’ are good examples of what the band is about, for those who aren’t too familiar. The whole album is worth checking out though if you’re a fan of the softer side of rock. A band that are still very much still at the top of their game as songwriters and an album that is simply a fun, interesting listen. 7/10

Chez Kane: Powerzone

This is a fantastic album. Being a fan of Chez since her time in Kane’d, I felt like this would be heavier heading into it. However, it’s so very AOR, more Journey than Journey have been in years. It wouldn’t feel at all out of place in Rock of Ages, and I LOVE IT.

From start to finish this was a masterclass in 80s sunset strip glam rock. ‘I Just Want You’ is not only an amazing album opener, but one of the most epic rock tracks released this millennium. The title track is another massive, powerful track. However, there isn’t really a low point on the album. We’re experiencing a bit of a glam/AOR revival at the minute in the scene, and I would put it up there with any of the top albums from it. Heck, I’d put it up there with some of the top albums in the genre, no matter the time period, be it Poison, Journey or Crüe.

If you’re into this sort of music at all, check this out, you’ll love it. There really isn’t a bad track on the album. It’s definitely going to end up on heavy rotation for me at least for the rest of the year. 9/10

These Wicked Rivers, Gorilla Riot and 28 Double at The Hairy Dog!

Southern/country rock band These Wicked Rivers took a brief break from their tour supporting bluegrass legends Hayseed Dixie to do a hometown gig. And what a gig it was. Playing to the absolutely packed Derby crowd at The Hairy Dog, it was definitely a night to remember for everyone involved. Add to that the fact that it was a fundraiser for These Wicked Rivers’ new album, and it was an awesome night for sure.

Other local boys 28 Double were the first to take the stage. While it wasn’t long after the doors had opened, they still drew a fair crowd. Being easily the heaviest band on the line-up, bordering on metal, it did feel like it took the crowd a little minute to warm to them. However, the band ripped through a fantastic short set of some of their best songs. I’ve seen them multiple times over the years, having gigged with them a fair bit back in the day, and they have come on massive amounts since. They put on a great show and sounded awesome!

Next up was the Manchester blues machine known as Gorilla Riot. Friends of the channel, it’s been almost a year since we last saw the band, at Amped last year. They were on top form again here. Arjun has such a fantastic swagger and stage presence, feeling like you’re watching a true rockstar. And yet he never overshadows the rest of the band, moving out of the spotlight even on longer instrumental parts. The band have great chemistry on stage too, clearly enjoying themselves and regularly joking around. The crowd ate up everything they laid down, too. They loved their grungy sound and great songwriting. If anything, my only criticism is that they didn’t have long enough on stage. However, they for sure won over some new fans with their set and were the perfect warmup to the headliners.

Then, came the headliners, the anticipation in the room palpable. These Wicked Rivers soon came on and left not a single person disappointed. Rattling through a set full of their older tracks and a few of the new singles too. This was by far the best set I’ve seen the band do. That’s a surprise too, as I’ve seen them a few times over the last couple of years. They keep getting better and better, both live and on track. If this gig is anything to go by, they are going to be HUGE in a year or two. One hell of a way to cap off a fantastic night and honestly one of the best sets I have seen from a band this year.

And there we have it, a brilliant night of great music from some of the best underground rock bands the scene has to offer. These Wicked Rivers are back out on the road with Hayseed Dixie while Gorillia Riot and 28 Double still have a few gigs left this year. Both bands are also headlining both nights of SharkFest in Cannock next year!

Did you enjoy our review? Check out more from our Instagram here.

New Music Mondays: Lamb of God, The Cult and Much More!

You know the drill by now. A dozen amazing bands releasing new music, and we’re here to check it all out! See what we think below!

Lamb of God: Omens

Lamb of God releasing their ninth studio album makes me feel old. But that’s exactly what they did this last week. I’ve been a fan of the band for over half my life at this point, getting into them from Sacrament. I’ve seen the bands ups and downs and they really seem to be having a bit of a career resurgence recently after some slightly more questionable output in the 2010s. Their previous, self-titled album was fantastic and, honestly, this may one up it to an even higher level.

It takes everything new it seemed to build up well on the previous album, the spoken work/sung stuff and the dynamics with up and downs and tempos, and rolls with it all to new heights. The fact that in 2022 we have a Lamb of God album open with a track that has mostly clean verses is insane, especially when it’s one of the best tracks on the album. If anything it just makes Randy’s screams have even greater impact. And of course, from an instrumental perspective they’re still a metal guitarist and drummers dream band. The talent on display is unbelievable. The riffs are insane and Art Cruz again kills it on the drums.

The singles are of course great, and other tracks like ‘To The Grave’ and ‘September Song’ are also awesome. The whole album is a highlight, however, and hopefully will be the one to finally push LoG through that glass ceiling they seem to hit a while back. 8.5/10

The Cult: Under the Midnight Sun

I’ve never been much of a fan of The Cult. I get and respect the impact they’ve had on modern rock music, but they never did anything for me. This album didn’t change my mind. There wasn’t even a riff like ‘Rise’ or even ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ to keep me interested. There’s very little to this, and as someone who’s not that into Ian Astbury’s vocals, this was a tough listen. Sorry to anyone who I offend with this, but… 3/10

Bush: The Art of Survival

This was heavier than I expected it to be! I haven’t heard much recent Bush stuff, pretty much reserving myself to the phenomenal Sixteen Stone, so this took me a little off guard. In a good way, though!

Of course the vocals are still the melodic, radio-rock style Gavin is known for. However, the riffs are HUGE. Like, de-tuned, ch0nky and almost metal, huge. And on top of that, there’s some genuinely catchy, stadium-filling choruses and melodies on here. ‘Slow Me’ is my favourite track on the album and maybe my favourite track the band has ever put out. Tracks like ‘More Than Machines’ and ‘Human Sand’ are also amazing. They’ve almost added a progg element to their sound, sounding a little like Karnivool and Chevelle.

My only slight issue is that it all sounds just a bit similar. Most of the tracks follow the same sort of formula; slower, stripped-back verses and then the big riff that opened the track comes back for the chorus. At least it made ‘Creatures of the Fire’ feel different and unique, as the it the main exception to the rule. Still though, I’d LOVE to hear this stuff live, I feel like it would be one hell of a show. I need to check out more Bush now! 8/10

Queensrÿche: Digital Noise Alliance

I’m not all too familiar with the band outside of Mindcrime and Empire. However, I have heard that Geoff Tate’s replacement has done wonders for the band, so I’m curious to hear how this sounds!

Sadly, the opening track and biggest single didn’t actually grab my attention. However, the opposite could be said for ‘Chapters’. It’s an incredible catchy track, straddling the line between AOR and even some modern Iron Maiden. I do have to say though, the mixing on the vocals was a bit odd. It felt distant, quieter than it maybe should have been. Tracks like ‘Sicdeth’, ‘Nocturnal Light’ and prog epic ‘Tormentum’ are also highlights of the album.

And I would like to add that it is a good album. I wanted to stress that before I went on to say… it’s a little overdone at this point. I know Queensryche are very much one of the originators of the sound, but there is so much amazing AOR music these days, that I feel like it’s just already been done. I love this sort of music, but bands like Eclipse and Tygers of Pan Tang are just as good, and I am more familiar with their work. So it is definitely a good album full of good tracks, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as their older stuff, or as much as I could have done. Hence why I shall give it a 7/10

Wednesday 13: Horrifier

We had the chance to review this before it’s release. Spoilers, it’s awesome. To find out just how awesome, check out our full review here.

Everette: Kings of the Dairy Queen Parking Lot – Side B

Another album we’ve had the pleasure of reviewing, and another amazing one. Find the review here.

Goatwhore: Angels Hung from the Arches of Heaven

The extreme metal titans returned with their eighth album this last Friday. If you’re a fan of the genre, like I am turning out to be, you’ll love this. Don’t get me wrong, It got a bit much and repetitive by around the halfway mark, but then I also loved the epic, plodding closing tracked. It’s everything you could want from an extreme metal album and certainly had me wanting to mosh! I shan’t pretend to be an expert on these things, but I enjoyed it, so will give it a 6.5/10

Counterparts: A Eulogy for Those Still Here

This feels very much like a Max album. Unfortunately, his uni has kept him too busy to help out this week. Depressing lyrics, heavy, Djenty riffing, solid drums and hardcore, bordering on extreme harsh vocals. I have to say, it’s not for me. I couldn’t really get anything memorable to come away with out of it, I just know the general sound and that it wasn’t for me. While I can appreciate they are all talented players, nothing about this prompted my will for a second listen. Sorry for anyone who is a fan, and I know that they are a pretty big band, but I’mma have too give this a 3.5/10

Barrett Davis: The Ballad of Aesop Fin

The North Carolinan country singer songwriter put out his debut album last week after months of putting out some great singles. It has a real old-school feel to it all and shows off some real talent as far as playing and songwriting is concerned. ‘Carolina Still’ is a personal highlight of the album, showing off Barrett’s impressive vocal range and some great guitar and piano. It almost boarders on easy listening, at times. It’s a good, relaxing album that I’ll definitely be chilling out to a lot in the coming weeks and months. 7/10

Acid Witch: Rot Among Us

This was a whole lot of fun. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this. I was ready for the stoner/doom metal riffing, but the almost Nightmare Before Christmas level of theatrical, extreme vocals over the top I was not. Honestly the duelling vocals and more stage-show style feel always does it for me in tracks, it’s why I love Ice Nine Kills so much.

‘Gather Each Witch’ and ‘Rot Among Us’ are the perfect tracks to open the album on, giving me a complete, great feel for what the band is about. The horror themes, big riffs and fun dynamics are all clear staples of the album. While not all tracks have the play-off style vocals, we still have some on ‘5508 Martin St.’ and ‘Evil Dad’. The later gives me ever so slight ‘Three Little Pigs‘ vibes with the higher vocals. Both tracks are amazing. However, saying that, there isn’t a bad track on this album.

I came into this not expecting to come away with one of my most enjoyable listens of the year, but there we go. It came out at the perfect time of the year but, honestly, I’m going to be listening to this way past Halloween. Great stuff, 9/10

VUKOVI: NULA

The Scottish rockers are back with maybe their most ambitious release to date. Just listening to opener ‘DEPARTURE’ sets up the epic feel they are going for. ‘TAINTED’ does a great job of continuing that feel and is a fantastic radio-rock track. ‘LASSO’ is another good track, the rapping being an interesting, fun addition. It has elements of Linkin Park and modern BMTH, while being a little lighter and indie/punky than both.

However, while I did enjoy the rest of the album, it only took me 4/5 songs to realise that it’s all going to be rather similar. Tracks like ‘I EXIST’ and ‘KILL IT’ are good and more highlights, but the album suffers from a similar issue and structure to Bush’s. It’s good, but I found myself getting distracted from the exact same formula in every song by the midpoint. It will most likely be more of a solo track album for me as opposed to listening through it front to back again. Because of that I can’t give it tippy top marks, but it still gets a very impressive 8.5/10

Borealis: Illusions

This is some of the most epic shit I’ve ever heard. Not many bands could have an epic intro track and then have a mega intro to the first proper song on top of it. And musically it’s like if Dream Theater did power metal. It’s definitely got that epic power/symphonic side to it, but the riffs wouldn’t sound out of place on a Djent album. I love it. The first three tracks are perfect. From a slow, epic intro to a radio track to the first epic prog track across 13 minutes, it’s fantastic. Then you have tracks like ‘Burning Tears’ and ‘Abandon All Hope’ and this is a damn good album. They deserve to be huge, and hopefully this album is the one to do it! 8.5/10