Tag Archives: death metal

Relentless Cycle: Are Those Once Loyal Melodic Hardcore’s Next Heavy Hitters?

Those Once Loyal are a local band to Overtone and have been plugging away at the local heavy scene for a few years now, gaining more and more of a fanbase with each passing day. And they deserve every single fan, with their fantastic live shows and awesome studio work. The band just last week put out their brand new EP, and we couldn’t not cover it. So, join us in checking out what we thought!

The opening track is a slow, clean intro that builds and sets up the rest of the tracks perfectly. It reminds me of the opening of Machine Head’s post-Supercharger albums, opening on that perfect calm before the storm. It’s awesome.

The title track opens on a great metal/deathcore riff, it opening out with an amazing drumbeat and a short but sick lead guitar line. The scream comes in over the top, sounding brutal and adding so much to the track. It fits perfectly and, while harsh, also still has a slight melodic element to it when the lead guitar line comes back for the chorus. The breakdown callout was awesome, as was the sludgy, evil-sounding breakdown. My god do I want to be in a pit for that.

A fantastic extended guitar solo follows and was honestly one of the high points of the EP. It’s not often stuff this heavy and hardcore gives the guitars space to solo and breathe, and it worked perfectly here. We also get a reprisal of the breakdown to close the track after a final chorus, and it rounds off a fantastic heavy track. I see why it was the lead single, and it easily makes our playlist!

Check out more of the heavy stuff here.

A great drumbeat opens ‘Re-Birth’ before an almost Megadeth-like quick guitar riff comes in over the top. The track drops into a phat riff before the metalcore stuff returns behind the verse screams. It works perfectly, keeping everything bouncy. It fills out, having an almost epic feel through the choruses thanks to the guitars, and the final line of the chorus is catchy as anything, it’ll go down a storm live. The riff after said chorus is awesome too. The structure of the track is really interesting too, though that may just be me getting a little lost as I don’t know the genre massively well. I just sat back and enjoyed the awesome track through the various different parts in all of its glory. It of course has a good breakdown in there, but for me the riffs and the ‘This is a re-birth’ line are the highlights.

Closer ‘Second Hand Smoke’ is a track that I had already checked out for our reaction series on YouTube (still editing the video so will link it once it’s out!). All I can say is wow. This is my favourite track on the EP, and for very good reason! From the melodic hardcore verses to the surprisingly catchy choruses and THAT breakdown, everything about it is awesome. If you’re into the heavier side of music, check this out immediately, as you’ll love it!

Overall: This was fantastic. It’s not often I get the chance to do an in depth review of something this heavy any more, and it helps that it is really fucking good too. All three main tracks were awesome, and they worked perfectly as a whole with ‘Into the Cycle’. A band that should be a lot bigger than they are,b ut have the potential to breakout massive off the back of this.

The Score: 8.5/10

New Music Mondays: VV, Obituary and More!

The first full week for New Music Mondays, and it’s full of some great releases. You know the drill by now, check them out!

VV: Neon Noir

The HIM frontman released his muchly anticipated debut solo album on Friday. It’s about what you’d expect, to be honest. As someone who never quite ‘got’ HIM back in the day, I hate to say that this didn’t do much for me. I never quite got into the whole ‘love rock’ thing they had going on and always found myself preferring bands that leaned heavier into the goth side of their sound.

Having said that, it is objectively not a bad album. If you like HIM, you’ll love this. Single ‘Run Away from the Sun’ is still incredibly catchy and a decent synth-pop-rock track. I personally just got pretty bored of it by a few tracks in. 4/10

Obituary: Dying of Everything

The death metal legends’ 11th album is an assault to the senses in the best way. It’s old-school death metal, I don’t know what else you want me to say. If you like their earlier stuff, as well as bands like Death or Slayer, you’ll love this. It’s fast, aggressive and all the band are massively talented to be able to play and write this sort of thing. I’m a big old-school thrash head so tracks like ‘Barely Alive’, ‘Without a Conscience’ and ‘My Will to Live’ are all amazing. 7.5/10

Check out a similar band here.

Margo Price: Strays

Country/blues/pop-rock singer-songwriter Margo Price is on her fourth album with this release, and it’s maybe her most ambitious yet. A lot of it is stripped back, steady country music, but it also somehow has a polished pop edge and a rock sound at the same time. It’s honestly hard to pick highlight tracks as it’s all so superbly written and genuinely interesting. There isn’t much out there like this, especially not up to this standard. However, ‘Light Me Up’ feels like the best showcase of exactly what Margo is about so would be a good place to start for a newcomer. Also, the Dolly Parton-esque single ‘Lydia’ is phenomenal, made even more impactful and epic thanks to the string backing. A good album, and a great start to the country year! 8/10

Ropes Inside a Hole: A Man and his Nature

So this is an odd one. Honestly for the first five minutes of the bands sophomore album I thought it was going to be a similar situation to Beautiful Death; a slower, dark, atmospheric album, but this time with lyrics. Then, I was suddenly slapped in the face by atmospheric black metal. There aren’t any screams or anything like that, the sporadic vocals stay clean and almost ethereal, very much another background instrument. But the instrumentation itself gets heavy.

And, due to the prog elements of the album, it is constantly changing up between clean, stripped-back, slower parts and epic, distorted heavy sections. However, also due to the prog elements, I found myself getting bored after the 3rd track or so. I can definitely appreciate how amazing the music is and will happily listen to it again if it comes on, but it’s like Tool without the amazing lyrics and soaring vocal hooks, something’s missing. Still, if you like proggier music and insane musicianship, check this out. Especially ‘Feet in The Swamp, Gaze to the Sky’, from the heavy riffs to the sexy sax, what a track. 7/10

Ahab: The Coral Tombs

Not gonna lie, I only really started my death/black metal journey over the last year or so, so extreme, proggy blackened death metal like this is a little much for me, it’s not really my jam. However, the slower, quieter and more stripped-back bits were pretty enjoyable, in a dark, atmospheric kinda way. And I cannot deny the sheer talent that the band have for being able to play and write like this, it’s definitely one hell of a skill.

If you like this sort of thing, you’ll probably love this, but I didn’t quite ‘get’ it. Because of that, I’m sorry, but I have to give it a 3.5/10

Beyond The Black: Self-Titled

I’ve loved this band for a few years now, since Heart of the Hurricane came randomly across my Spotify. So, when I was doing the research for this weeks New Music Monday and saw they had a new album out, I was pretty excited.

For the most part, it lives up to the hype I put on it. The band have been one of the most underrated symphonic metal bands in the world the last few years, and this shows why they should be towards the top of the genre. It’s filled with beefy riffs and huge, epic choruses. There are also some insane lead guitar lines and vocal harmonies throughout. It’s also yet again almost impossible to pick standout tracks. Every track is incredible and a highlight in its own right. From the heaviness of ‘Reincarnation’ to the beautiful ballad ‘Wide Awake’, all of it is top notch. This is already going to be a tough album to beat this year, and it’s only the second week! 9/10

Screamer: Kingmaker

The heavy rock/mythological AOR boys are back for their fifth studio album, and honestly, it’s pretty good! It’s very reminiscent of the NWOBH, I assume that’s why they self identify so much as being in Sweden’s modern equivalent. It’s a great mix of Judas Priest, early Iron Maiden and Tygers of Pan Tang. Of course single ‘The Traveller’ is a huge highlight, but tracks like ‘Ashes and Fire’ and opener ‘Kingmaker’ are also great. It’s just a great classic metal album, and if that’s the sort of thing you like then you’ll love it. 8/10, these guys should be so much bigger than they are.

Crom: The Era of Darkness

This was one hell of an epic album. Think Iron Maiden if it was injected with a healthy dose of power metal. The instrumentation was a massive highlight throughout, there being some insane riffs and lead parts, as well as the drummer working harder than anyone not in a death metal band. There’s some amazingly huge, catchy choruses on the album too, from the opener to ‘Higher Ground’ to ‘Bridge of Paradise’. There were also some pretty great extreme metal growls thrown in for good measure, sounding awesome and very fitting.

My only slight issue is that it’s maybe a tad too long. The tracks are good, but the album is nearly an hour in length. Though that may have just been because I had another eight albums to listen to this weekend too…

Either way, this was very good, and I’d highly recommend checking it out! 8.5/10

Degradations: Masque

The sophomore album and first in six years from the melodic deathcore band, Masque goes hard. I wasn’t familiar with the band prior to this, but given the quality of this album, I’d imagine it was worth the wait! The whole album is awesome from start to finish, a masterclass on how to write fast, aggressive, heavy music. Tracks like ‘New World Vulture’ and the epic closer/title track are personal highlights of the album for me. 8/10, this was fucking awesome!

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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: 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

New Music Mondays: Slipknot, Monster Truck and More!

Another week, another batch if great new music for us all to check out. Let’s not waste time, and Let’s get into it! However, also a big shout out to Burridge. and her new EP, which also came out this week and we reviewed here!

Slipknot: The End, For Now

One of the biggest albums of the year from one of the biggest bands of the century, and boy has it got people divided. Check out our opinion of it here.

Monster Truck: Warriors

The Canadian southern rockers returned with their much anticipated fourth album this last week. I’ve been a fan of the band since their debut, but even I can admit that you know exactly what you’re getting from the band. Big riffs, powerful vocals, plenty of fuzz and attitude and a good guitar lick or two. This album is that to a T. Tracks like the opener, ‘Golden Woman’ and ‘Wild Man’ are all great. However, they don’t quite stack up to the likes of ‘Sweet Mountain River’ or ‘Old Train’. The issue with doing the same formula over and over is that if you already perfected it the first time it’s hard to capture that same magic again. 7/10. Definitely good, but I’ve heard better from the band.

Pixies: Doggerel

This went harder than I ever expected it to. The alt/indie rock band hit us with their eighth studio album and it caught me off guard, at the very least. From the punk AF opening track to a more Americana sound on ‘Thunder and Lightening’ to even some classic rock leanings and inspiration throughout, there is a LOT of variety here. Not all of it is my sort of thing and I do think that if a few of the tracks are going to sound so similar maybe cut a few out as it feels a little bloated. However, there isn’t really a bad song on the album and it’s definitely one I’d chuck on if I was driving or had stuff to do. Clearly I need to check out some more Pixies stuff. 7/10

Drowning Pool: Strike a Nerve

A band that 90% of people wrote off after the untimely passing of Dave Williams, the band are now seven albums deep into their careers with generally some pretty great output. I have to say, though, that while Jasen Moreno is good live with them, I haven’t enjoyed all too much of their last two albums since he took over vocals.

However, despite the ugly album artwork, I really enjoyed this. It finally feels like Jasen fits in the band. It has a renewed sense of attitude, aggression and motivation behind it. It sounds like the band wanted to make this album, not just put it out because of the label or as an excuse to tour. ‘Hate Against Hate’, ‘Stay and Bleed’, ‘Mind Right’ and ‘Down in the Dirt’ are all huge highlights on a very good album. I’d put them up against any other single the band have done, including any of Sinner. People definitely need to give this and another chance, and this is a fantastic album to dive back into them with. 8.5/10

Adam Doleac: Barstool Whiskey Wonderland

It feels like it’s been a couple of quiet weeks for country, so let’s dive into the next rising star in Nashville’s debut album.

Firstly, to get my usual gripe with country music out of the way, 18 tracks is just far too long. I love the genre, but nearly an hour spread out into 18 songs is going to bore the hell out of me at times unless Adam plans on exploring different forms of the genre too. Spoiler alert, he doesn’t. It’s 18 slower tempo country ballads. Now typically that wouldn’t be an issue, and there’s some great songs on the album, but my ADD made this album rather had to make it through in one sitting.

Tracks like the title one, ‘Drinkin’ it Wrong’ and ‘Somewhere Cool With You’ are really good and definite high points of the album. However, between them is a lot of slowish, similar music. I’d had enough around 10 tracks in, and I do think there are nine tracks you could cut to make this a fantastic, concise album. It’s another album that I’d happily stick on in the car, but outside of that I fear a fair few of the tracks will be lost to obscurity, only listened to on full album listens. And it’s a shame, because Adam is a fantastic songwriter, and half of this is amazing. 6/10

The Dead Daisies: Radiance

Another album we’ve already reviewed, this time ahead of release! Check out our thoughts and score on the supergroup’s sixth studio album here.

Darko US: Oni

If you want to know what hell sounds like, this is it. It’s like the Doom soundtrack on acid. It’s ludicrously heavy, and even if you aren’t into the music at all, you kinda have to admire and love them for that. The pair push every boundary they come across and the results are honestly like your favourite horror film. I honestly don’t understand how Tom Barber does most of this with his voice, and Josh Miller’s instrumentation is off the charts. Tracks like ‘Hyper Kill’, ‘Dragon Chaser’, ‘Evolving’ and ‘Acid Inject’ all had my face both scrunched up and grinning throughout, in the best ways. But it also has variety too, as ‘Infinite Beauty’ veered into an ethereal, almost Spiritbox style.

It’s definitely not going to be everyones cup of tea, I get that. I didn’t think it’d be mine, but it’s so heavy it’s come out the other end and laugh in far, shock and adoration. It’s insane in every way and I couldn’t stop listening to it. 9/10

Pulled Apart by Horses: Reality Cheques

Another indie/alt rock band suddenly channelling a lot more punk influence than they normally would. Heck, the bands 5th album wouldn’t look out of place in the Ramones or Iggy and the Stooges discography. The band are a bit more known for this sound than Pixies, but it still caught me off guard for some reason. And being a big fan of this style of early punk, I loved this. Being just eight tracks and half an hour in length too, I can’t really pick out a highlight. If you’re a fan of the other bands I mentioned or of punk at all, check this out, you’ll love it. I’m going to have this in rotation for the rest of the ye3ar now. 8.5/10

Icon for Hire: The Reckoning

I’ve heard the band name around for a while now and don’t know why I thought these were more of a deathcore band. Instead, they are a more pop/metalcore In This Moment. While I wasn’t sold on their opening track, they really grew on me by a few tracks in. Whether it’s ‘Ready for Combat’, ‘Shadow’, ‘Garekeepers’ or ‘All I See is Darkness’, there are some fantastic heavier track on here.

There are one or two duds too, though. ‘Sunflower’ is a glorified pop song and ‘Emo Dreams’ is probably a fair bit more cringy than they’d have hoped. Having said that, she is actually a good rapper, and I think if the lyrics had a little more substance than ‘I’m good’ then the track would have been a huge standout on the album.

However, it was far better than I was expecting. I can see it becoming more and more of a favourite with each listen. I need to.cjeck out more Icon for Hire, because this was sick. 8/10

Coldworld: Isolation

It feels like it’s been a while since I covered straight-up black metal here on New Music Mondays. Don’t get me wrong, my feelings generally haven’t changed about it, but the ambient nature of it, mixed with the very infrequent vocals, made this at least listenable. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t go out of my way to listen to it, but I also wouldn’t go out of my way to turn it off if it came on again. It was atmospheric as hell and really well put together and produced. I also haven’t found an album that matched its artwork so well in a while, this was a eerie, depressing album, and while I won’t probably listen to it much going forward, it was good. 6/10

Autopsy: Morbidity Triumphant

Old-school, straight up death metal from one of the pioneers of the genre in the US. It’s aggressive, it’s brutal, and it’s insanely fast. I don’t really know what else to say, really. It’s exactly what you’d expect when you the words ‘death metal’. If you’re a fan of Cannibal Corpse, you’ll love this. I’d love to see them live, even if on track I could take it or leave it. Still though, the band are insanely talented players and it shines through in every track. 5/10

Kristian Bush: 52/New Blue

A fantastic, but this time appropriately lengthed, country album. It’s heavily blues driven, meaning it’s a little more rock than Adam’s album earlier on, too. It’s another album that I’m struggling to pick highlights from too, as it’s all great. The first five tracks are how to do country perfectly, but the whole album is a masterclass in good songwriting really. I can’t praise this album enough, 8.5/10

Amaurot: …To Tread the Ancient Waters

And onto the last album of the week, a dark, symphonic power metal one. I have to admit, while this was definitely atmospheric and epic, it didn’t grab me much. It’s an incredibly cluttered sub-genre, especially this year, and I unfortunately feel like I’ve heard better. It’s not bad by any stretch, but it didn’t hold my attention at all. ‘Des Wanderers Leid’ is probably my highlight. 4/10

The End, So Far: Is the Album as Bad as People are Saying?

Slipknot are one of my favourite bands of all time. They were the first ‘big’ rock band I saw at their legendary Download Festival ’09 headline set. I’ve loved every album they’ve done and will defend almost all of their tracks. If you have been online over the last couple of days, however, you’ll have seen that people are divided on this one. Long term fans are claiming to hate them now, while others are saying it’s a masterpiece. In terms of the singles, I fall somewhere in the middle. So, strap in, ladies and gents, as I try not to offend anyone with my thoughts on one of the biggest albums of the year…

This is the first Slipknot album to not begin with a short interlude intro track. Instead, I thought it was an odd choice to open it on a Muse song.

In all seriousness though, this is a terrible way to open a Slipknot album. Pianos and Queen-style harmonised vocals. What the fuck? Where’s the aggression? The heaviness? This isn’t ‘People = Shit’, this is ‘People = Not That Bad Actually, Let Them Walk All Over You’. I’m not opposed to the song at all, it’s actually quite catchy and well put together. But if you’re going to put it on the album, don’t open on it. Chuck it towards the back half where it’s going to piss off the least amount of people. V-Man gets to be highlighted the best, the bass in this track is amazing. And Corey’s voice is as strong as it’s maybe ever been. But damn, this isn’t even something Stone Sour would usually touch. It’s an indie track from a nu/death metal band. Weird.

Single ‘The Dying Song’ is more of a step in the right direction. It reminds me a lot of the sound from the last couple of albums. A clean, harmonised chorus to open, quick, screamed verses over the top of chunky, heavy, simple-ish riffs. And Clown making his presence known throughout on his keg. It all screams post-Paul Grey Slipknot, and that definitely isn’t a bad thing. I know a few people seem to dislike their output after the Nine dropped down to Seven, but .5 and We Are Not Your Kind are both great albums.

Check out another big review here.

It’s a true testament to the band that they can make something so heavy while also being tremendously catchy, and also showcase every single member of the nine-piece band. Of course the vocals are a highlight as always, but the bass and drums are also fantastic here and stand out above the rest. And that heavy bridge is awesome. playlisted!

I wasn’t that into ‘The Chapeltown Rag’ when it was first released nearly a year ago. I have to admit, I’m still on the fence with it. It’s heavy, for sure, and has all the elements I love from Slipknot. The pre is especially great, with the insanely fast drumming and guitars. Plus, Corey’s screams are clean as fuck here, pushing them better than he has in years. The chorus is catchy, clean goodness and the build-up in the bridge is a lot of fun. It reminds me of Psychosocial but bigger to begin with. I feel like it’d be fantastic live with the chanting towards the end. Okay, no, this is a pretty decent song. It’s finally started to click for me. A good song and a good choice of a single. Playlisted!

‘Yen’ was my favourite single out of the three released prior. It surprised me too, as I’m usually a fan of their faster stuff (as much as their slower, moody stuff is also great). But I can’t help it, that chorus is so damn good. Slipknot have always been good at their slower stuff, be it ‘Scissors’, ‘Dead Memories’ or ‘Spiders’. But this may be the best they’ve done at the brooding, plodding stuff. Also, the scratching in the bridge is the first time I’ve felt like it’s been utilised properly in years. Another huge highlight of the album and another to make it onto the playlist!

‘Hive Mind’ is good fun, but almost feels heavy for the sake of it. It’s the first track on the album that feels like an album track, not a single. It’s not a bad song, but doesn’t do much that ‘Chapeltown’ doesn’t do better. ‘Warranty’, however, is oozing with attitude and is so blisteringly quick that it stands out amongst the rest. The drums are crazy and the backing vocals through the verses and choruses are a nice touch. It makes the track catchy while still being very heavy. We even get some Kirk Hammett-like lead guitar parts in here, which is new and sounded great. Jay’s drumming in the bridge is insane, showing that he really is the most underrated drummer these days. And the bridge as a whole is fantastic. What a great Slipknot song, it’s definitely gotten rid of the sour taste from the opener. Playlisted!

‘Medicine for the Dead’ is a mid-tempo, dark banger. The riff reminds me of something off Metallica’s last album and keeps it heavy despite its pace. It’s rather similar to ‘Yen’, which is definitely a good thing. It has got a lot of elements of WANYK too, and the slower, darker tracks from that. It’s atmospheric and full of emotion and tension. There’s another catchy chorus, almost having a Halloween-style melody to it. It’s another good track from the biggest metal band of the 21st century.

From what I’ve read, ‘Acidic’ seems to be a lot of people’s favourite track. It opens on a death metal riff before dropping down to a rather clean, bass-led verse. Again, V-man is a huge highlight, providing some almost jazziness to it all here. It’s another plodding track which honestly surprises me, given its popularity. It’s also surprising as I didn’t like this track that much. There’s a nice lead guitar line from Jim Root in it and the odd good riff, but nothing stood out here. It wasn’t as good as the previous track or ‘Yen’, both of which are similar tracks. It’s not bad, just kinda there.

‘Heirloom’ returns to the heaviness. It does also share the most similarities with Stone Sour. I usually hate the comparisons, but I could definitely hear this being a part of House of Gold and Bones Pt.2. Especially with another great Jim Root solo, a rare thing on this album. I can also hear a lot of .5 in this track. It’s not bad, but maybe my least favourite track on the album not named ‘Adderall’.

Slipknot then pull a full 180 with ‘H377’. This feels like their first two albums blended together perfectly for a more modern audience and mature band. The aggression and anger from Iowa is there while Corey rap-screams just as well as anything from their debut. Plus, the chanted vocal hook for the chorus is going to go down a storm live and is very catchy. It gives off ‘Custer’ vibes. And Jim gets his best (albeit still short) solo yet.

This is what I expected from the album, and it’s a shame it’s so far into it and wasn’t considered for a single. It feels like a culmination of every sound they’ve done so far and I love it. Playlisted.

Unfortunately, ‘De Sade’ feels like one of the tracks that Root was referring to in that article earlier, one that they could have rehearsed and produced a little more before recording. It again wasn’t bad, but like a few tracks on this album, absolutely nothing stood out to me. As soon as it finished, I couldn’t remember a thing about it. Also unfortunately, ‘Finale’ didn’t do much for me. The chorus was catchy, for sure, and it had a real epic vibe to it. It works very well as a closing track, and a closing of a chapter. It will probably (hopefully) grow on me, and I feel like it’d be amazing at a theatrical live show, but for now it didn’t do much to grip me aside have a catchy vocal melody.

Overall: Man, this was a rollercoaster. While yes, there are some average tracks on this album, I’d say overall I enjoyed more than I didn’t and some of it was fantastic. This was a GOOD album. It’s super weird having a Slipknot album with no interlude tracks on it, and that might add to my feelings of it being a bit bloated. WANYK had the same amount of actual tracks and that also felt like a few too many album tracks for me. But a good half of this album was fantastic, with another couple of alright tracks and the rest meh. I think the rumours of rushing to get out of their Roadrunner contract were true, and it made for an oddly disjointed listen. But, for now, I’ll score it pretty high. It will probably go up and down until the end of the year.

The Score: 7.5/10

Derby Alt Fest 2022

Derby Alt Fest is the biggest metal festival to hit Derby city in maybe ever, we just had to cover it, right? Go and check out the line-up now if you haven’t already, it’s insane. Liam has put on one hell of a bill for everyone this year at the famous, already nearing packed-out Hairy Dog, and we’re here to give you a taste of what to expect!

Thursday:

‘Thrash Thursday’, as it has been dubbed, plays host to six of the very best in the genre in the UK scene right now. From Elyrean, Helgrind and our good friends at Thrasherwolf, it’s a damn strong opening to the day and the festival. We managed to get a few words from the frontman of the latter band, sharing his thoughts on the festival:

“Hi wolvers! Dan from Thrasherwolf here! Just to say we can’t wait to bring the pack down to ALT FEST and get some good old-fashioned violence started! We hope you’re ready for the carnage that night because you won’t be leaving the same way you came in! 🤘😝🐺

The evening then continues on its brutal ways with All Consumed and Hellfekted. Both are fantastic bands which you have to see live to get the full brunt of their energy and force. Then we reach the headliner of the evening, the mighty Cage Fight. The band have gone from strength to strength in the last few months since dropping their monster of a debut album, and this writer in particular cannot wait to be in the pit for them! They’re all worth the price of admission alone, and we still have two days left!

Check out us talk about the album here.

Friday:

The more alternative day on the wonderfully odd Dacara. The band bring their big hooks and huge guitar tones to the Dog to open up a stellar day of music. Medusa Touch bring an air of old-school, NWOBHM sound to the proceedings while WarlocK A.D. bring the power metal in spectacular fashion.

Then we reach possibly the most interesting band on the line-up, Luna Kiss. They are the lightest on the bill by quite a margin, being the only real rock band on the bill. Despite that, the band seem more than excited to be playing:

“Wil here from Luna Kiss. We’re stoked to be playing on the bill at this years Alt festival at the Hairy Dog. We’ve got a beast of a set planned and it’s going to be a good ’en’”

They are going to be a band not to be missed, and I’m curious to see how the crowd will react!

The insane local boys, Raised by Owls, are up afterwards, sharing their own brand of craziness and heaviness with the attendees. The guys have been going years at this point and have perfectly honed their craft with a show that should definitely not be missed.

Then we reach the awesome headliners of the evening, the death metal legends at this point themselves, Evil Scarecrow. The comedic, heavy band are possibly the biggest to ever grace the Alt Fest stage, and always bring with them one hell of a stage show to entertain their audience with. Not to mention, their songs are incredible, and they are all at the top of the game at what they do.

We managed to get a few words from the band too about their sure to be legendary set:

“Evil Scarecrow are so excited to be back at The Hairy Dog for the first time in a long time and looking forward to be returning back since the big room was opened. So get them crab claws, karate moves and robotic dancing at the ready as we look forward to seeing you all on the Friday night!”

Saturday:

The final day is packed full of incredible bands, with a whole afternoon and evening of great music. OATHS bring the heavy straight away with some great deathcore while Past the Fall are set to follow them with their own brand of brutality. The crushing heaviness continues with the likes of Beyond Extinction, Worship the Sacrifice and Hounds before Abduction give us a more black metal tint.

Inhuman Nature bring it back to the thrash sound again but with an extreme edge while Monasteries look to blast everyone away with their heaviness and insane talent. Fairly local band The Five Hundred return to blow the roof off the Dog as they always do, while crowd favourites Osiah pile on more insane brutality to the proceedings.

Then we reach the headliner and final band of the festival, the incredible Martyr Defiled. What more could you ask for? They are the perfect way to close out a heavy festival. Huge, heavy, at the top of their game and ready to put on an insane show to a roaring crowd. This is going to be a fantastic set, I’m sure, and one that I cannot wait to see!

We also managed to get a quick interview with the organiser and Unearthed main-man Liam about the festival, which you can check out below!

How did you decide on the bands?

Alt fest has always been as alternative as I can make it. It used to be a lot more difficult when I had just one day to smash as many genres as we could into it but now, we can really experiment. For this year I’ve based it on Thrash Thursday, Alternative Friday, and Heavy Saturday, so then I built it around that model.

How long does it take to plan an event like this and how many people are involved?

Planning pretty much starts when the previous year finishes, you look at what went well and what might have not and then begin building from there, looking at potential headliners and then opening applications and seeing who’s about. I have to shout out my guy Harry who I run Unearthed with, he’s not only helped structure the line up with me this year but also done all the graphics internally, and also everyone at The Hairy Dog, for continuing to allow me to put as many bands as physically possible on over the weekend and looking after us all.

What’s the history of Derby Alt Fest?

I actually started it as a standalone in 2016 to go along with my old bands EP release show, and it really just spiralled from that. I’ve tried to make it bigger and better every year and to not only bring bands back who have become fest favourites but also bring bigger bands who have never played. Were now in the sixth year of the event.

What can we expect at the festival this year?

Every day is going to be different. The style of bands make the shows great as standalones as well as forming into the three-day weekend. Thursday we have Cage Fight who are just rising at a rapid rate, and after just smashing Bloodstock second stage I can’t wait to see them destroy the Dog. Friday really is mental thinking about it, EVIL SCARECROW. I’ve seen this band on huge stages in the past and it’s going to be an incredible show. The Saturday is just going to be flat out brutal from start to finish. Headlined by Martyr Defiled.

New Music Mondays: Electric Callboy, Behemoth and More!

Another huge week of New Music Mondays, with everything from metalcore to… well… The Proclaimers. Now that I have your attention, let’s dive into it!

Electric Callboy: Tekkno

The band that have taken 2022 by storm with the growing anticipation of this album thanks to their singles. We loved all of them and just had to review the album fully. You can check it out, alongside our review for it, here.

Behemoth: Opvs Contra Natvram

I’ve tried for years now to get into Behemoth, and it’s just not happened. I have heard tit may happen if I see them live. I feel like it must do, because this album did nothing for me. Those who read these regularly know that I don’t really get black metal, and it turns out big, well produced black metal still isn’t my thing. Sorry to any Behemoth fans out there, I know you’re quite the devoted lot. I really tried, listening to the entire album in one sitting. It just seemed like noise; I couldn’t pick out a highlight track. 3/10… please don’t cancel me…

Clutch: Sunrise on Slaughter Beach

Now, this is more my sort of speed. The stoner rock band have been consistently great for years now, and this is no exception. From the opener, ‘Red Alert’, the tone and quality of the album is set and it doesn’t waiver at all. I don’t understand how this band aren’t bigger than they are, given how fantastic tracks like ‘Slaughter Beach’ and ‘Nosferatu Madre’ are. Hopefully tracks like the ones I just named will finally help push them to greater heights.

If you are into blues or stoner rock at all I can guarantee you’ll love this, and it’s maybe one of the best albums the band themselves have done so far. Each track is amazing, it’s had to pick specific highlights. 8.5/10

Marco Mendoza: New Direction

Yep, we’ve been busy this week and given you TWO full reviews of albums before Monday. Aren’t we good? Check out our review of the awesome new Marco Mendoza album here.

The Devil Wears Prada: Colour Decay

In a world where bands that have been around for a while (especially in the metalcore scene) either go lighter and more pop or heavier after complaints from fans, The Devil Wears Prada laughed, flipped them of and said ‘we’ll do both’. I remember checking out the ZII EP last year and while none of this is quite as heavy as ‘Nightfall’, it’s still a heavy album. ‘Watchtower’ and ‘Exhibition’ for the most part might as well be deathcore tracks. But then at the same time we have plenty of clean vocals and tracks like ‘Salt’ and ‘Broken’. It’s an amazingly diverse album, and both sides of the coin are very good.

From the riffs to the INSANE breakdowns and both types of vocals, it’s all amazing. This is the best I’ve heard the band sound in years and is up there with some of my favourite work by them. This album will be on a lot in the Griffiths household over the next few weeks and months, as it really does have something for nearly every emotion. Another 9/10. A solid week so far!

The Mars Volta: Self-Titled

A complete change of pace now as we get to the US prog rock band’s seventh album. I have a confession to make; I don’t think I’ve heard a track by the band before. I know the name but have at least never gone out of my way to check them out. So I guess where better to start than with the band’s first album in a decade, since their breakup and recent reformation.

They’re weird… but I kinda dig it. It took me a couple of tracks to get into the groove with them, but by the time ‘Graveyard Love’ finished I was all in. The remind me of a darker Scissor Sisters, giving me a big nostalgia kick as I loved that band as a kid. While some of it isn’t typically the sort of thing we’d cover or that I’d like too much, there is enough awesome upbeat stuff to keep me entertained. Tracks like ‘No Case Gain’ and ‘Equus 3’ are strangely awesome. It’s not all for me, but I certainly wouldn’t be opposed or turn it off if the album was on again at some point. 6.5/10

The Proclaimers: Dentures Out

Yes, they haven’t just done ‘500 Miles’ and that song from Shrek. They do in fact now have 12 studio albums, and I have to say, this new one is fantastic. The opening and title track is one of my is one of the best soft rock songs I’ve heard in years. ‘Feast Your Eyes’ is a fantastic, epic ballad with a good point and seniment behind it. And ‘Praise’ is almost a surfer rock track with that riff. There is plenty of great stuff to sink your teeth into here if you like it softer and, while there could have been another faster track or two, I thoroughly enjoyed it and will definitely be listening to it again! A surprisingly great album from a band I’m sure most haven’t listened to in years. 7.5/10

No Devotion: No Oblivion

This was not at all what I was expecting. Given the name and album artwork, I was thinking I was in for heavy, not alt/indie. While I’m sure it’s great to the band’s fans, I wasn’t too into it. There was some fun, catchy synth and some interesting vocals, but I felt this was a bit of a slog to get through. I feel like/hope it’ll grow on me as they are all very clearly talented musicians and songwriters and I feel like I should get it, but I currently do not. 4/10 at a push, I’m sorry.

Starcrawler: She Said

This bands image doesn’t quite fit with their sound. From their artwork and pictures, I went into this expecting glam. This was not glam. I have to admit, I’m a little disappointed. It wasn’t bad by any stretch, built I’d have preferred glam or NWOCR over the punk/old school rock I got. It is interesting to hear an American indie tinge to the British punk rock sound, but I found it didn’t do much to hold my attention. Having said that, ‘Stranded”s chorus did seem vaguely familiar, and it was a definite highlight of the album. Not a bad album by any stretch and I feel like it might grow on me with another couple of listens., it just didn’t catch my attention immediately. 6/10

Sinnery: Black Bile

This is right up my street. Heavy-ass death/thrash metal, filled with big fast riffs that will break your neck after the full 50-minute album. Having never heard of them before, ‘The Burning’ was as fantastic introduction to them as any. Between the huge riffs, hardcore screams, gang vocals and filthy lows, it’s a highlight for sure. However, the album goes HARD for its entire run, giving the world some of the best the genre has to offer in 2022. ‘Sever’ and ‘Bleak’ are also highlights of a very strong album. I honestly feel like they are the second coming of Slayer, they are that good and heavy. I can see them getting the same cult following, and I am definitely going to be in there in it! 8.5/10

Somehow Jo: Scales and Details

Tool’s crazier child are back with their third studio album. Heck, just the two fantastic opening tracks, ‘Fata Morgana’ and ‘Freind’, channel so many different styles and genres it’s insane. From prog to folk to death metal to whatever the hell people classify SOAD as, there is something for everyone. Both are insanely impressive track and easily make the playlist, and there’s another seven tracks still!

I have to say though, every track had me hooked from start to finish. This was a damn good album full of some of the best playing I have heard in a LONG time. I have not a single negative thing I can say about the album, and I am desperate to see the band live now. Check this out if you are into any sort of music at all, you won’t be disappointed! 8.5/10

Dead City Ruins: Shockwave

This is what I was expecting Starcrawler. Just good old-fashioned hard/sleaze rock. I’ve been a fan of the band for a few years now after checking them ahead of a HRH (They unfortunately didn’t end up playing) and after the album being postponed a little, I’m excited to finally hear it.

It’s really good. Unfortunately, you’re wanting me to write more than that, aren’t you? Fine… It’s honestly as good as anything the rest of the NWOCR scene is putting out at the minute, and that’s saying something as the scene is currently at its peak. Opening track ‘Preacher’ feels like a fan-favourite live right off the bat and the album honestly doesn’t slip on quality afterwards. ‘Vision’ is another huge highlight. ‘Madness’ and ‘Speed Machine’ are both also awesome. ‘Rain’ gives me Alice in Chains vibes in the best way, and also makes the playlist with a bunch of other stuff on this album.

I honestly cannot say enough good things about this album. It’s the best they’ve put out so far and may be one of my favourite albums of the year. CHECK THIS OUT! 9.5/10

New Music Mondays: Ozzy Osbourne, Parkway Drive and More!

Strap yourselves in, ladies and gents, because we have a long one ahead of us. 18, yes 18 albums to check out. And I apologise in advance because half of this more than likely isn’t going to be for you. For all of our fans we have built up over the years there is a fair amount of heavy in here. But for all of the country fans we have started to gain recently, there is a fair bit of that too. Sorry if we scare anyone off with the stark contrasts. But check it out anyway, who knows, you might find your new favourite band! Let’s get into some new music!

Oh, and our newest writer, Max, jumped on to give me a hand again with some of these, so of course give him a hand!

Ozzy Osbourne: Patient Number 9

Ozzy should have called it a day a decade ago. He was struggling a little on Sabbath’s farewell tour but they still went out with a bang. Since then, his health has deteriorated and, let’s be honest, he can’t tour any more.

Having said that, this was better than it had any right to be. I wasn’t into Ordinary Man at all but this makes up for it. I’ve been a big advocate of ‘Patient Number 9’ since its release, it’s one of the best choruses Ozzy’s ever done. The same could be said for ‘One of Those Days’. And, of course, he has a guest guitarist on each track, and he’s selected some of the very best of all time. Between Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Zakk Wylde and Toni Iommi, there is some incredible soloing here.

My only slight negative would be that it’s all a little slow. However, for a 73 year old man, I didn’t really expect him to have the same energy in his tracks as he did 50 years ago. If Ozzy is going to stick to just studio music from now on, this is how to do it! 7.5/10

Parkway Drive: Darker Still

I really wanted to like this. And the weird thing is that sometimes I found myself enjoying it, but then other times it fell beneath expectation. Heck, sometimes both in the same track.

The Australian band continue to let more and more European power metal to seep into their American metalcore, to mixed results. And this isn’t even coming from a jaded old Parkway fan. I didn’t really get into them until IRE. But I LOVED that and Reverence so was excited for this album. I don’t think it lives up to my hype, but that’s not saying it’s bad. It’s certainly odd though.

I’m one of the seemingly few who loved ‘Glitch’ when it was released and I still do now. ‘The Greatest Fear’ is okay too, though it doesn’t go quite hard enough. ‘Darker Still’ however, can get in the bin. The only genuine highlight I’ve found that I’ve listened to multiple times since is ‘Soul Bleach’. Having said that though, the more I listen to that track, the more I love it. It’s heavy and the sound I wish they’d gone for for the whole record. ‘If a God can Bleed’ is weird enough to work and ‘Imperial Heretic’ is okay, but both are pretty average really. The couple of closing tracks are good, too.

As I say, nothing on here is bad at all. Maybe (hopefully) it’ll grow on me with another few listens, but right now I feel like it’s around a 7/10. Not as ground-breaking as I was hoping for.

Flogging Molly: Anthem

The not-so-Irish Irish folk punk band are back with their seventh studio album. That makes me feel old. The whole early 2000s skate-punk scene was a big part of my childhood, and hearing new music from them just makes me smile. How can anyone not like this music? It’s got the very best parts of folk, punk and rock.

There isn’t a bad track on the album. From the raucous opening track to the slower, full-on old folk songs to the fantastic ‘This Road of Mine’, it’s all great! Whether you’re into folk, punk, rock, americana or probably a bunch of other genres too, you’ll find something to enjoy here. This may be their best album since Float, and that’s saying something! 8/10

Highly Suspect: The Midnight Demon Club

I loved the first couple of Highly Suspect albums. Tracks like ‘Lydia’, ‘Bloodfeather’ and ‘My Name is Human’ all felt like they were harkening in the next big, heavy indie band. However, their last album seemed to soil that, at least over here. I wasn’t a big fan and I’ve not really seen them on any line-ups or heard them on the radio much over the last five years.

This album is at least a step in the right direction. None of it is quite as impactful as any of the previous tracks I named, but they’re at least solid, moody radio rock songs. That is, aside for the heavy AF single ‘Pink Lullabye’. It was like listening to a Zeal & Ardor track and I loved it. The rest of it was pretty similar, steady-paced, okayness (with lyrics of questionable quality), but damn is ‘Lullabye’ a tune. 6/10

ONE OK ROCK: Luxury Disease

The Japanese alt rock band returned last week with their tenth studio album. Going into it completely blind, having never heard the band before, I enjoyed it! It’s pretty basic pop rock, but there is nothing offensive or inherently bad about it. It was cool to hear the combination of English and Japanese vocals too, highlighting their own sound and culture as well as the sounds that inspired them. It reminds me of a combination of Panic! and Set it Off, but then with an even poppier ting to it.

‘Neon’ is probably my favourite track on the album, but again there aren’t really bad tracks here. The emotional ‘When They Turn the Lights On’ channelled heavy British vibes, whether it was Muse or Busted or Queen. Also, Teddy Swims sounds great in his guest vocals for ‘Free Them’. There’s a lot of good here if you’re into the lighter stuff. 7/10

Blackment: Plains of Oblivion

We’ve already done a full review of this album. Check it out, along with the fantastic score, here.

Built to Spill: When the Wind Forgets Your Name

Max: The American indie rock band, Built To Spill, is back with another great album. WTWFYN is the 10th album by the band, and it is a perfect addition. If you enjoy slower music its perfect for you as it, as always, focuses around Doug Martsch’s vocals and guitar. I found it difficult to sum up exactly what made this album so good but the simplicity of some for the riffs and the fun but relaxed vocals feel very relaxing. I sat up the other night listening to it and letting all of the instruments just wash over me and tell me everything that they have hidden beneath. It is a beautiful and yet thoughtful listen that can definitely click with everyone so long as it lets you. My rating might be slightly biased as I’ve been looking for an album that makes me feel the same way I did when I first listened to Motion City Soundtracks acoustics song, but it is an almost perfect 9/10 and I hope everyone reading this takes a listen.

Bloodbath: “Survival of the Sickest”

Max: Time for a sharp change of pace. The death metal supergroup is back with another very, very intense album. For those who are unfamiliar this group and has had a wild line up but currently consist of Martin Axenrot (Opeth), Nick Holmes (Paradise Lost), Jonas Renkse (Katatonia) and Anders Nystrom (Katatonia). so, with such a wild line up it is unsurprising that this album is brilliant for most and even better for those who follow black metal. The album is intense and is not always the friendliest of listens but it is a great one and i must say it isn’t a bad or hard place to start for those who don’t listen to black metal. So, if this becomes your entrance album, I do not blame you as it has got me back in to Katatonia and Paradise Lost. As I’ve mentioned this is a fun and intense album that does not disappoint and is great for those who need a heavy dose of music in their system. A very respectable 8/10

Laurence Jones: Destination Unknown

This is an old blues rock fans dream. Between the awesome riffs, powerful vocals and heavy focus on synth, this felt like it was ripped straight from the 70s. The guitar is of course a huge highlight of the album, but that shouldn’t take away from his great vocals and the awesome work of the band behind him. This sound has been coming back more and more in recent times, be it with Rival Sons or in the NWOCR scene, and tracks like ‘Anywhere With Me’, ‘Give Me that Feeling’ and ‘In Too Deep’ look to catapult Laurence pretty high up in that scene. If you’re into the likes of Rainbow, Foghat, Rival Sons or even ZZ Top, check this out, you won’t be disappointed! 7.5/10

BRELAND: Cross Country

Cross Country is the debut studio album of platinum single-selling artist BRELAND. He became big off of said single, ‘My Truck’, in 2020 after it hitting big on social media. This album features guest slots from the likes of Keith Urban, Ingred Andress and Thomas Rhett.

If all of that sounds insane for a 27-year-old musician… well I fucking agree.

The music itself combines R&B, rap and soul to the country sound. It’s basically what everyone wanted Lil Nas X to continue to sound like after ‘Old Town Road’. Now, I completely understand that this isn’t going to be every readers cup of tea. I get that I am in the small part of the Ven diagram that like both this and Bloodbath further up. However, I loved this. Tracks like ‘Praise the Lord’, ‘Natural’, ‘Don’t Look at Me’ and ‘For What it’s Worth’ are all fantastic tracks.

However, it’s not perfect. The album is pretty bloated at 14 tracks and there is a noticeable dip in energy (and arguably quality too) around the middle which it doesn’t really recover from. It verges more into his soul stuff which I’m sure a lot of his fans love, but it’s not as much for me. 6.5/10

Revocation: Netherheaven

Stray From the Path: Euthanasia

This was like Fever 333 on acid, and I loved every second of it. The bounce and swagger of the opening track had me hooked immediately, especially with the fantastic lyrics harshly rapped over the top.

The same energy continued throughout the album, too. It’s dark, heavy and dripping with attitude and anger. Tracks like ‘III’, ‘Bread and Roses’ and ‘The Salt in Your Spit’ are highlights of an album honestly filled with them. In an age where Rage Against the Machine feel corporate, having a younger, angrier, heavier band pick up the flag they dropped feels like a very good thing.

I feel bad for myself that this band have been going for a while now but this is the first I’ve really heard of them. I feel like the rest of my week is going to be checking out their older stuff, because that was fucking fantastic. 9/10

I AM: Eternal Steel

This band are very hard to find online. I don’t think they are the Fre3nch hip hop artist IAM, nor are they ZP (Dragonforce)’s side band I Am I. Therefore, all I can tell you is what I hear.

What I hear is heavy but damn good. ‘The Primal Wave’ opens things on a brutal, fantastic note, and it’s only up and up from there. Tracks like the title song and ‘Queen Incarnate’ are great and make me want to check out more of what the band I have to offer. Hopefully I can find more about them than just their discography and can see if they venture over here for live shows at all. This whole album would be fantastic live. Check it out if you’re into the heavy, almost medieval death metal stuff, you won’t regret it! 7.5/10

Kane Brown: Different Man

Kane Brown is going to become to Georgia what RHCP are to California if he keeps up like this. In all seriousness though, the man who did what BRELAND has just done but a few years earlier is back with his third studio album. After the HUGE sucess of the last one, I’m curious to see if he can keep his momentum going.

Right out of the gate ‘Bury Me in Georgia’ is a fantastic southern rock track. Next up is a dark, brooding roots track with Blake Shelton. But damn, it’s still good. ‘Like I Love Country Music’ channels the best kind of bro-country and adds some rock and fiddle to it. It’s a fantastic run of three tracks to open. It unfortunately again drops in energy a little again after that until ‘the excellent ‘Riot’. At least this one manages to claw back the fun and tempo, unlike BRELAND. The couple of tracks after it, ‘One Mississippi’ and ‘Drunk or Dreamin” are also great. ‘Pop’s Last Name’ is a beautiful, emotional ballad. ‘Devil Don’t Even Bother’ is True Blood style awesomeness.

However, my issue is the same as BRELAND (sorry to keep bringing him up). 17 tracks is simply too long. Is it an issue throughout country as a whole at the minute? Do none of them have producers? I can give four or five tracks that, while not bad by any stretch, I’d have cut to make this an easier, more concise listen. There are maybe 11 tracks on this that are phenomenal, and the rest seem too much as a result. 8.5/10, but it would have gotten a 9 if it was a little shorter.

Eat Your Heart Out: Can’t Stay Forever

Some more pop rock now, this time from Geordie Australia. I have to admit it was pretty enjoyable. I know it’s cliche at this point to compare any pop rock/pop punk with a female vocalist to Paramore, but screw you guys, I’mma do it anyway. They’re like a slightly heavier Paramore. They definitely feel like they are bridging the gap between rock and the weird ‘rock’ that is in pop these days. If you like this sort of music, check out tracks like ‘Down’, ‘Heavenly’ and ‘Sour’. 6.5/10

Until I Wake: Inside My Head

The creepy ‘The Sacrifice’ heading into the harsh vocals and huge riffing of ‘Forsaken’ may be one of my favourite album openings of recent times. For a debut album, too, that is one hell of an achievement. Heck, I would even good as far as to argue that ‘Forsaken’ is one of the best metalcore tracks released in the last nearly decade. That shit goes hard.

It is because of that track that I was surprised and a tad disappointed with the rest of the album. It’s still good, don’t get me wrong, but it feels like a different album to the opener entirely. It’s closer to Sempiternal/That’s the Spirit era Bring Me or even Linkin Park than the Norma Jean style metalcore I was expecting. We finally get some heavy stuff again towards the back end of the album like ‘Still Sinking’ and ‘Blue Beam’. Both are great tracks and I just wish more of the album had this sort of energy. Sprinkling a few in around radio-metal tracks is an odd choice and would definitely scare a casual listener checking them out after hearing their lighter stuff.

But still, the rest of the tracks are still good, just not what I was expecting after the opening. The band do both sides of metalcore very well so if you like the genre you’ll find something to enjoy! 7.5/10

Warforged: The Grove / Sundial

Aside for having some of the best album artwork I’ve ever seen, I actually found this the hardest album for me to review this week. While some of the music and riff are great, it’s the very definition of chaos. The vocals don’t help matters either, being very heavy death metal growls. It’s the least accessible album on this list, and that’s actually saying something this week, but I’m sure the band don’t care. There’s a couple of cool moments, like in ‘Hymn of Broken Teeth’, where multiple screams join together and sound awesome. I’d definitely recommend checking that track out out of any of them, it’s probably the best representation of them as a band. But it was even a little to heavy and chaotic for me. If you enjoy this then awesome, I’m sure its fucking fantastic if you like the genre. But it wasn’t for me, so gets a 4/10

Derek Hoke: Electric Mountain

While some of this was a tad too slow for me, tracks like ‘Let Go of my Heart’, ‘Hush Your Mouth’ and ‘Novocaine’ being particular standouts. It takes a very traditional approach to country music which I can definitely appreciate and would probably love a lot more after seeing it live. I don’t really have many more thoughts about this one, it’s a good, atmospheric album that I feel would make a fantastic soundtrack to a moody movie/tv series. It may take me another couple of listens to fully ‘get’ though. 6.5/10

And there we have it guys. We did it! What a crazy weekend, but there are some insanely good albums here. If you enjoyed the article, check out more from our Instagram here.

Plains of Oblivion: Are Blackment the Start of the New Wave of Finnish Heavy Metal?

Blackment, in case you couldn’t guess by the title, are a melodic heavy metal band from Finland. I hadn’t heard of the band before but we got sent the album a week or two ago for review. It comes out today so we thought we’d let you know what we thought!

‘Apparatus’ opens heavy with a great synth behind it, giving the death metal an 80s edge. It then opens up into a fantastic thrash riff, already a highlight. It stays thrashy as the harsh vocals come in for the verse, before it suddenly changes pace into some proggy, jazzy rock. The chorus after is really catchy too thanks to some cleaner power metal vocals ringing through. This really has a bit of everything so far. A ripping, technical guitar solo or three follows the second chorus. It makes me in no way jealous of their talent at all… However surprisingly, the song fades out after this. One the one hand, it’s always fun to not know what’s coming. On the other hand, I feel like another big chorus could have really helped cement this track as a top tier opener.

‘Remnants Astray’ opens on a prog as fuck riff and I’m all for it. The synths are behind it to give it such a huge sound, too. The power metal is back the powerful clean vocals come in over the top of a great, epic riff. It stays heavy and interesting though, two things that I find are my two downfalls when it comes to power metal so this is excellent. The kinda harsh vocals return for the bridge after the second chorus, but they are still rather clean, like a Matt Heafy kind of sound. There’s more absolutely incredible guitar soloing afterwards, so good it would probably make Steve Vai jealous. We then get a final epic chorus to close up. This was utterly fantastic, I loved it. It very easily made our playlist.

‘Clouds’ is a slightly slower but in no way less epic riff. The clean vocals sound even bigger and more powerful here given that the riff is bigger and it’s all backed by some great strings and even some operatic backing. Also, the backing vocals for the chorus make it even catchy and again we get the kind of half-scream on the back of it. It’s still a harsh vocal but most not familiar with scream would probably still be able to understand what is being said. The best of both worlds, so to speak. It feels almost redundant at this point to say there was a good guitar solo in the track, but you’ll never guess what… there was! Another song that I cannot praise enough, this was phenomenal. Playlisted!

If I didn’t feel like a vastly inferior musician before, ‘Composure’ definitely made it clear. This is awesome riff after awesome riff and I love it. The Trivium-style vocals are back in full force for this track too, which is another huge positive for me. It honestly feels like ‘Ascendency’, which for anyone who knows that album is very high praise. Again there is nothing but praise I can give for this track. The third in a row to make the playlist. This album better chill out or I’mma get in trouble for it all making it to our Spotify!

The most recent single, ‘Northern Lights’, starts folky as hell. To carry on the feeling, a modern day Maiden riff comes in over the top of it all, sounding great. This whole track in fact is like a heavier Iron Maiden song, it’s great! The same could be said for the following track, ‘Grasp of Hel’, too. Both are great songs that somehow sound like power metal, NOWBH while also sounding modern and following the bands sound. You definitely know it’s Blackment when hearing the tracks.

Check another metal review here.

The title track brings the heaviness and progginess back with a huge but fantastically technical couple of riffs. Even when the guitars are doing stuff like this, the band add synths and strings and stuff to really pack out the sound. It makes it all sound huge. The pre and chorus are massively catchy too even as the vocal melody jumps all over the place. It’s so interesting and I couldn’t stop listening to it, skipping it back a couple of times at least. Some more awesome guitar soloing and even a jazzy as fuck bassline round out this AWESOME track. Playlisted, it’s amazing.

‘Desolation Fields’ brings back the blackened death metal for a slow intro that builds into a hugely heavy track. The heaviness continues through the final two tracks too, single ‘Maw of the Dread’ and album closer ‘The Ruins’. However, the band also blend it masterfully with their epic power metal side. All three tracks are fantastic and the latter is a great closer. In a time where most bands seem to follow the weird trend of putting the lightest track last, I’m glad this was still pretty heavy. Three great tracks that I’d just gush over the same points for if I didn’t clump them together. Great stuff!

Overall: this was MUCH better than I was expecting. Granted, I went into it with zero expectations, but they blew the roof off my mind. Everyone involved with this is a master of their craft, be it guitars, vocals, songwriting, even production, it’s all top notch. I’ve already listened to this a few times and I don’t think I’ll be stopping any time soon!

The Score: 9/10

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