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!
‘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!
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!”
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.
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
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
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 Instagramhere.
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.
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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We have a fun addition to New Music Mondays this week. Our newest team member Max has given me a hand in writing this, as I was away for the weekend. Give him some love as he saved my ass and did a great job! I’ve covered a few of them and he’s done a few, and if I had any more thoughts on an album I added them on too!
It’s another week another list! A fun set of albums have been released this week so join me in exploring them all.
Muse: Will of the People
Max: So where to begin? This is Muse’s 10th album if you don’t include the two live albums and the anniversary version of Origin of Symmetry. I must say that it is my favourite since the resistance. There are so many things to say about this album and I wish I had more time for it, from the amazing grooves in the bass to the solos spaced throughout. However, Matt’s voice is utterly outstanding.
If you only have time for a couple of songs I highly recommend ‘Ghosts (How Can I Move On)’ which is a beautiful piano led song which gives me chills every time I listen to it, ‘You Make Me Feel Like It’s Halloween’ which has a brilliant groovy and feel to it which makes me want to get up and move each time and then ‘Kill Or Be Killed’ which is definitely more inline with some of Muse’s heavier music. All in all, a great album and an easy 8.5/10.
Machine Head: Øf KingdØm and CrØwn
Max: Machine Head are back, and they want you to know what they’re about again. It has been four years since Catharsis, their last album. It’s clear in that time that they have been working hard on perfecting their art . All I can say is wow. It is heavier, it is intense, and it is brilliant. From ‘Slaughter the Martyr’; their ten and a half minute opening song is kickass from the slow intro to the filthy riffs and the solos. There is so much in this song to digest however there is more to get through. ‘Become The Firestorm’ and ‘No Gods, No Masters’ are must listens and as potentially controversial as this might be, I think this album is better than Burn My Eyes, their seminal first album. This is a 9/10 but if you rate it higher there is no contest because this is a phenomenal album.
Joe: As a HUGE fan of Machine Head, especially their output from Ashes, Catharsis and a couple of singles afterwards were a pretty big let down. I enjoyed last year’s EP, though (all of which ended up on this album). My god does this build on that perfectly. Right from opening on a 10-minute heavy epic with a good three minutes of slow-build to start, I knew the Machine Fuckin’ Head I knew were back. I’ve seen a fair few journalists comparing this to The Blackening. While I think that’s a bit of a stretch, it’s definitely a step back in the right direction. I agree with Max on all of his highlight tracks, and would also like to add the venomous ‘Rotten’. 9/10
Embrace: How to Be a Person Like Other People
Joe: The Yorkshiran rock band released their eighth studio album last week. While I was sceptical it would make it onto this list at all with the slow piano intro, it build into a cracking, stadium-filling ballad in ‘Death is Not the End’. While the rest of the album was still good, it’s in a similar style to the opening track and never quite reached the same lofty heights. It’s a blend of British and US indie rock which was perfect for a background listen or a long car journey, but I found it not holding my attention too well when listened to intently. If you’re into indie you’ll enjoy this a lot more than I did,. I feel like I’d ‘get’ this a lot more if I saw it live. For now, it gets a 5/10 from me!
Excuses Excuses: Listen Up
We’ve covered this already last week, and you can find the review and score here.
Max: The Japanese cult black metal band Sigh are back also after four years. For a first venture into this band, Shiki is a great place to start. It is a difficult listen if you are new to black metal, but their somewhat eclectic mix of styles can be a saving grace if you find the raw and intense vocals a little hard. This is not the best album ever made but I think it is a must listen for anyone wanting to explore more music and expand their genres.
I found it difficult to pick out which songs were the best in the album. But, after a couple more listens, the strange, almost jazz-break in the second track of the album, ‘Kuroi Kage’, just sticks with me even now. Its one for all to explore if they feel brave enough to which brings me to give this a solid 7.5/10 and I am excited for what might come next.
Joe: What has this company done to me? I loved this. I’ve somehow gotten pretty into the more epic side of extreme metal, and I kinda like it. Whether it was the balls to the wall track above or the more up and down ‘Mayonaka No Kaii’ there was a lot I enjoyed here. I do however agree with Max in that it’s a 7.5/10. Good stuff!
Brymir: Voices In The Sky
Max: The Finnish metal band are here with another packed album. It’s difficult to say what their plan for this album was as it felt to cross many layers. All in the band pushed their art to the next level with each song feeling quite different from the next. This being said I would not say this is the best album on the list. It was constantly punchy and energetic, and I found myself listening to it in the background through out the day but I truly struggled to find one song that was the best.
With all this said, however, I do think everyone should check it out. I am excited to see if they explore a but more of the melodic/death metal side that they can clearly do. I’m going to have to give this an 8/10 but that could change once I’ve got to grips more with this band who were completely new to me.
Manifest: The Sinking
Max: Here’s a band that I doubt many of you have heard of before. This is the bands fifth album, and it is a hard one. Whilst some of you may question me on this considering I liked Sigh, I really could not get past the Stian’s vocals and there was not much for me in the album. I implore you to check it out for yourself but I struggled to get past the fourth track so there is not much more to say. It is a 5/10 for me.
Joe: The mixing on this was pretty meh. It felt like a punch in the face, but that may have been the intention. However, I didn’t mind this aside for that. The elements are there of a good album, it just needs a fair amount of polish. It reminded me of a more biker Hatebreed, the same aggression and speed but with some catchy choruses thrown in at times. However, the cleans aren’t all that great, and the extreme vocals could be little stronger. I preferred when they stuck to the hardcore stuff as opposed to jumping to black metal or their slower stuff. 5/10
Lacrimas Profundere: How to Shroud Yourself with Night
We’ve got a review coming out of this album in the coming days. It was delayed due to being ask to react to some of their singles. While you wait, check out our reaction to their latest single, ‘To Disappear In You’, below. And check back in a couple of days for the link to the review!
Dynazty: Final Advent
Max: This one definitely ends the list on a high. Its hard to say exactly what this album makes me feel because wow its good, exceptionally good. They are top of their field, all the members of this band. There is so much pure and lovable energy in this band, and you can see how much they love making music. Each of the songs remind me of why I do this and how much I love music. There is one song that everyone needs to hear: ‘Yours’. Its an utterly beautiful songs and the chorus with its great hook and amazing vocals hits me somewhere deep. Its is a top song of the year so far for me and I am definitely going to try and see them live some time soon. It’s great to be surprised by music no matter what you hear, and this album hit in all the right places so I can’t see any reason to not listen to it because I really do think its inviting enough for everyone 9/10.
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Some great new music in both the rock and metal worlds this week. Let’s waste no time, let’s look at some!
Arch Enemy: Deceivers
For a band that contains the guitar god Jeff Loomis, Arch Enemy definitely don’t get a lot of praise. Yes, I know their more recent stuff after Alissa joined isn’t a lot of peoples favourite stuff by the band but honestly, the singles for this album have been great and if they are anything to go by, it should be fantastic.
I can confirm it is indeed, in my opinion, fantastic. Alissa has one of the most effortlessly powerful screams in the game today, and the introduction of more cleans to their sound adds a great commercial range to the band. It’s (almost) radio-friendly death metal, which is a damn impressive genre if I do say so myself. And while Loomis doesn’t have a huge amount of writing credit for the album, his lead and rhythm playing is incredible and shows that he is stuill very much at the top of his game.
‘Handshake With Hell’ is an amazing single and the perfect way to open the album. ‘Deceiver, Deceiver’ is a good balls-to-the-wall follow-up but it’s the stadium-filling ‘In the Eye of the Storm’ and ‘House of Mirrors’ that are the real highlights of the album. This heavier take on European power metal that bands like these and Parkway Drive are doing these days is controversial but, in this writers humble opinion, amazing. The whole album is great and a really good jumping off point for anyone who wants to get into the heavier side of metal. 9/10
Hollywood Undead: Hotel Kalifornia
What a 180. I never got Hollywood Undead even back in the day, but then I don’t think I was their target audience. But then again I’m a fan of RATM, Fever 333, Hyro The Hero, Linkin Park etc, so I don’t really know why this didn’t click for me. I think it’s more the 2edgy4U lyrics, it comes across as rather cringy.
It wasn’t quite as bad as some of their older stuff. There were hits of decent riffs in the likes of ‘CHAOS’ and ‘Alone at the Top’ (by far the saving grace of the album), and there are plenty of big choruses. But then there are tracks like ‘Ruin My Life’ and ‘Trap God’ that are just terrible. If you are a fan of the band I am sorry for most likely offending you, but I found this hard to get even halfway through this album. I’m going to leave it here otherwise I’ll continue to be negative. 3/10
The Goo Goo Dolls: Chaos In Bloom
Yes, they’ve done more than ‘Iris’. This was actually a pretty good album. A combination of Matchbox Twenty, the slower Aerosmith tracks and a surprising amount of Britpop. Tracks like ‘War’ and ‘Going Crazy’ were personal highlights for me, but the whole album was decent. Don’t go in expecting much more than slower, ballady pop-rock, but if that’s your thing than it’s a good album for just relax to or have on while you’re doing other things! 6.5/10
The Halo Effect: Days of the Lost
In Flames in everything but name alone, The Halo Effect’s debut album is okay. I have to admit that I never quite ‘got’ In Flames outside of a track or two, and this didn’t do much for me either. Everyone is clearly very good at what they do but nothing gripped me or stood out to me at all. It’s all pretty samey and that sound just doesn’t make me want to listen to more. The closest thing to a track I enjoyed here was ‘A Truth Worth Dying For’, and that’s probably because it’s basically a Trivium song. Sorry guys, I feel like I’m going to catch some flack for this. 4/10
Boris: Heavy Rocks
The Japanese experimental band put out their third Heavy Rocks album in which they explore the rock and metal genre. It’s weird. Like as an experimental art piece I get it, especially if they are constantly exploring different genres. However, I cannot envision myself listening to this much more after this review. Tracks like the early-Nirvana-inspired ‘My Name is Blank’ and the almost Black Metal ‘Question 1’ are as close to highlights as the album has. None of it is bad, it just feels like exactly what it is, a group of people deciding “lets make a rock album, that could be cool!”, instead of wanting to write the genre their entire lives, like most in rock have. 4.5/10
Thee Oh Sees/Osees: A Foul Form
The alt/punk rock band put out a lot of music under various different incarnations of the band name, though it would always be similar. Somehow, while always writing music within the rock genre, this channelled as lot of the same energies as the previous album for me. I’m not quite into the experimental side of rock as some people so if you love this, I can understand why. However, this is not for me. At least it’s a short album, as I’d gotten bored by the fourth track and it changed very little in the final six tracks. 3.5/10
Pale Waves: Unwanted
Leaning harder into the pop elements over the rock or indie ones of their sound, I almost didn’t cover this album. Then I remembered I’ve already done the likes of Avril Lavigne and Stand Atlantic so I might as well! And, to tell you the truth, this album is better than half the others this week. The slow build of ‘The Hard Way’ won me over, and tracks like ‘Alone’ and ‘Only Problem’ are other great highlights of the album. It’s just catchy, inoffensive pop-rock, and it was enjoyable to listen to. Yes, I’m going to score this higher than Halo Effect, and I’d also probably put it above most In Flames albums too. Sue me. 7/10
Norma Jean: Deathrattle Sing for Me
Time for some of the dirtiest metalcore I’ve ever heard. It grew on me more and more the more I listened. I pretty much had a breakdown face for a full 53-minutes. ‘Spearmint Revolt’ is one of the best metalcore tracks I’ve heard period, never mind just this year. That riff is CH0NKY. ‘Aria Obscura’ is also packed full of great, heavy riffs while having a more radio-friendly edge. But honestly, this whole album is worth a listen. Even if you’re not typically into heavy stuff and screaming, there’s enough commercial edge to ease you in. 8.5/10
Seventh Storm: Maledictus
A more thrashy version of pirate metal, like a heavier, more serious Alestorm. I fucking love it. Right from the offset, this had me hooked (pun intended) and I loved it from start to finish. And, it’s another example of an utterly fantastic debut album, something that has happened a lot in recent weeks. It’s somehow an amagamation of bands like Alestorm, Machine Head, Amon Amarth, Disturbed and even some Behemoth in the riffs. It’s a fantastic blend of styles and really has something for everyone. The opener and ‘The Reckoning’ are personal favourites of mine, but again the whole album is fantastic. The only thing that could possibly put people off is the song lengths but honestly, the band does so much per track it’s easy to get lost and not realise seven minutes have been and gone. 8.5/10
Carrion Vael: Abhorrent Obsessions
The melodeath band round out this week’s New Music Mondays with a brutal album. It’s heavier than a lot in the genre, definitely adding in a lot of extreme and blackened elements. Still, tracks like ‘The Devil in Me’ and ‘Disturbia’ are great. A good album for anyone who’s into quick, heavy music! 7/10
You know what’s happening by now. Lots of new music from ten awesome bands. Lets check them out together down below!
Amon Amarth: The Great Heathen Army
Scandinavian Viking metallers return with their 12th studio album, and once again it’s awesome. However, the first thing I noticed was that the fantastic single ‘Put Your Back into the Oar’ that was released earlier this year did not make the album. An unfortunate omission as it’s a great track, but so are the others that made the album’s cut. It’s a concise nine tracks of great death metal. The opener sets the scene perfectly while the title track is simply awesome. However, tracks like ‘Heidrun’ and ‘Find a Way or Make One’ are definite highlights of the album. And of course, the collab between them and Saxon, aptly titled ‘Saxons and Vikings’, is as amazing as you’d expect it to be. While I do have to admit I did prefer the bands last two albums over this one, it’s still a great album I’ll be listening to a lot going forward!7.5/10
A band that I really should listen to more given how much I like Sepultura, Soulfly have now released a whopping 12 albums for me to catch up on. The groove/death metal band go hard right from the opening track, ‘Superstition’, and to little surprise also go hard through all ten tracks. It shares similar characteristics to the previous album in that both are a similar genre and draw on their culture for inspiration (though Max doesn’t do it as much here as he used to). However, I do think Amon Amarth did it slightly better. Soulfly definitely have the more aggressive edge to their sound, but I found the catchier element of AA funner and ultimately more enjoyable. I know I shouldn’t compare the two bands, and tracks like ‘Souring the Vile’ and ‘Ancestors’ are great, but it’s hard not to when both come out on the same day. Maybe it would translate better live for me! 6.5/10
The Interrupters: In the Wild
We don’t have enough ska on this site, or in the music scene in general any more, so I am so glad The Interrupters are flying the flag for the fourth wave of ska. The Distillers-inspired band have put out three of the best punk albums of the last decade in their short career, and look to continue their streak with this one. Starting out punky it soon goes full ska with the awesome ‘As We Live’ (anything with Tim Armstrong is awesome). The rather silly ‘Raised by Wolves’ gives way to the fantastic lead single, ‘In the Mirror’, and the album is off to a fantastic start.
My only issue with this album is how bloated it is. I love the band and genre as much as the next guy, but 14 tracks is a lot for a ska album. However, having said that, each song is amazing, so I don’t know how they’d have cut any as I wouldn’t be able to choose which to get rid of. The tracks are short enough too, the album is still less than 45-minutes long. I guess it’s just my easily distracted brain wanting slightly ore variety when listening to so many tracks at once. Still, every track on the album is awesome, especially ‘Love Never Dies’ featuring the criminally underrated Skints. Check this out, as it really is a fantastic album, and definitely continues their winning streak! 9/10
Dub War: Westgate Under Fire
Skindred mastermind Benji Webbe’s original band have been on and off active for the last eight years now, but their first new music release in 24 years is a pretty massive deal. The reggae punk-rock works just as well with the political subject matter that ‘Blackkk Man’ explores as it does the slightly lighter subject matter of Skindred’s lyrics. For anyone who isn’t as familiar with the band, it’s more closely related to Public Enemy, Suicidal Tendencies and even Wildhearts than the heavier riffs that Mikey Demus brings to Skindred. However, tracks like ‘Vibes in the Place’, ‘Mary Shelley’ and ‘Fun Done’ are all awesome. A good album and a great return from a band that should have gotten further the first time round! 7.5/10
Psycroptic: Divine Council
The death metal Aussies put out one hell of an eighth studio album last Friday. I cannot get over how fucking incredible the riffs are throughout the entire album, and just the guitars in general. Joe Haley is another criminally underrated guitarist, creating a dream album for those into the rhythm side of the instrument. Just check out ‘A Fool’s Errand’ to hear what I’m talking about. The rest of the band are fantastic too, the drummer working overtime throughout and all the different screams fitting the genre perfectly and being amazing. This is the sort of death metal that I love and holy crap, what an album. At just nine tracks and under f40 minutes, it’s also compact and concise awesomeness. Check this out, you won’t be disappointed! 8/.5/10
The Flatliners: New Ruin
The punk/almost post-hardcore band released their first album in half a decade last week. I wasn’t familiar with the band before writing this review and, honestly, I’m not sure how to feel about the album even after listening to it all. It wasn’t bad at all, it just felt like nothing really stood out to me. It reminds me of this year’s Static Dress album in that it’s a genre that I should LOVE, but for some reason it just doesn’t resonate with me the way I thought it would. However, the more indie-like chorus for ‘Rat King’ did have me singing along pretty quick and is definitely a highlight o the album. 6/10
Abbadon Incarnate: The Wretched Sermon
This at least wins the award for best album artwork of the week. It’s fuckin’ awesome. As for the music, it’s impressively fast death metal. Like, if thrash and death had a baby and then gave it speed. It’s a lot of fun. However, I did find myself loosing track of which song was wihich rather quickly, they all blended into one. Outside of the more up and down, longer ‘Isolation and Decay’ it was all rather samey. It was still a good listen and worth it for anyone who’s into the heavy stuff, but it’s exactly what you’d expect it to be. 6.5/10
Check out our full review of this awesome album, alongside it’s score, here.
Grave Bathers: Rock’n’Roll Fetish
The stoner/doom rock band’s debut gives us more riffs than 99.99% of other albums combined, so it feels. The band seem like the second coming of The Sword, something that the industry has needed ever since said band released High Country. ‘Ghost ‘Em All’ pens the album in spectacular fashion and perfectly encapsulates what the band is about and going for It’s amazing. The rest of the album is just as spectacular, too. Again though, and I feel like a broken record at this point, it’s a damn long album. 12 tracks spanning 81-minutes is a lot, even if given the genre it’s a little more forgivable than others. However, the sheer talent of the bands playing and songwriting on display means that even at the insane length of the tracks, it is still one hell of a great listen. No highlights again here, all the tracks are great. 9/10
Devil’s Paradise: Post Mortem
17 tracks for 80-minutes of music. What is it about this week and really long albums? It feels like the bands are cottoning on to how many albums I listen to to review a week and are taking the piss a bit now!
In all seriousness though, this was fantastic. Another great debut album (even if some of these tracks have been out nearly a decade already), making a whopping three in the same day! They remind me a lot of one of my favourite newer bands this year, South of Salem. I really hope this combo of Misfits style goth-punk and modern-day sleaze sticks around and continues to get bigger, because it’s a fantastic sub-genre. This does have a little more of a US radio rock edge to it too (think Burn Halo, Soil etc), especially on the slower tracks like ‘Ghost’. There’s also a handful of slower tracks that sound like Avenged Sevenfold when they they to sound like GNR. I love all of it, these ballads or the heavier, faster goth-sleaze tracks.
There are plenty of highlights from the album, a handful of which made our playlist. This is DEFINITELY worth checking out, these guys are gonna be huge. 9/10
And there we have it, an absolutely fantastic week for new music, a lot of it coming from the youngest bands on the list. Rock music is in an incredibly strong place right now with the next generation coming up, and I cannot wait to see where they all go from here!
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You should know the dealio by now. New music from nine awesome bands. Let’s get straight to it!
Whiskey Myres: Tornillo
The southern rockers returned with their sixth album this last week. I was a HUGE fan of their last couple of albums so this one had a lot to live up to. I think Tornillo does just that. Tracks like ‘John Wayne’ and ‘Feet’s’ perfectly encapsulate what the band are about in terms of sound and style, and are hugely catchy and fun to boot. But, fun quick country or ballad, the band are such good songwriters that it’s all incredible and arena-filling without it being the modern day country cheese. This band deserve to be massive, and I really hope they start getting the love and praise they should over here now country is starting to take off big. A damn hard album to beat in this genre this year! 9/10
Beddy Rays: Self-Titled
The Aussie rockers put out a damn fun indie-drenched album on Friday. For a debut album too, it’s fantastic. The band have been putting out music for five years already, but putting out a full length release so consistent first time is always impressive. Tracks like ‘Week on Repeat’, ‘Sort it Out’ and ‘Sobercoaster’ are all excellent highlights. However, honestly if you are into the more indie side of rock, you’ll enjoy every track on the album. Good stuff! 8/10
Dance Gavin Dance: Jackpot Juicer
Controversy aside, this band has always been a collection of insanely talented musicians, and that is on full display again with this album. It’s an hour of post-Tool math post hardcore craziness, and I found myself loving it. Will Swan is a criminally underrated Guitarist and both Jon Mess and Tilian Pearson handle the duel vocals perfectly. The album also acts as a fitting tribute to longtime bassist Tim Feerick, who sadly passed away earlier this year. Tracks like ‘For the Jeers’ and ‘Cream of the Crop’ are fantastic, but yet again this whole album is great. 8.5/10
Krisiun: Mortem Solis
Time for some Brazilian death metal. The band’s 12th studio album opens going hard and doesn’t let up once. It’s a brutal assault to the ears in the best way. If you are a fan of the heavy side of metal you’ll definitely get enjoyment out of this. Tracks like ‘Serpent Messiah’ and ‘Temple of the Abattoir’ are awe3some. The guitaring is a real highlight, Moyses Kolesne being another underrated player. However, the only negative I had was that nothing really stood out. It was all solid, but it just sounded like your typical straight-up death metal. That’s completely fine, but I’d love a bit of variety in it at times! 6.5/10
Funeral Chic: Roman Candle
The old-school biker sludge/hardcore metallers returned with their third studio album last week. Opening on the interesting, slower, great ‘Made in America’, the pace soon picks up with ‘Spit and Crawl’. The pace flits between the two styles throughout, sounding like anything from Metallica to Rob Zombie to Misfits. The whole album is awesome, every track being just as good as the last. I also love it when the band lean more and more into the sludgy edge the have, there being some great riffs and breakdowns here. My only ever so slight criticism is that the vocals could have been slightly higher in the mix. 7.5/10
Stick to Your Guns: Spectre
Hardcore punk and metalcore often go hand-in-hand, but I’ve not heard it done quite as masterfully was I have here. From the opening track you get a clear indication of the bands impressive signwriting skill, blending together anger and aggression with huge, anthemic choruses. They remind me of a heavier A Day to Remember, inspired by metal instead of pop punk. Everything from the clean and harsh vocals to the quick drums and guitars to the insane breakdowns, all of it was fantastic. It’s a modern heavy-lover’s dream while still having arena-filling earworms to get them plenty of new fans from the more mainstream audiences. I honestly can’t pick highlights from this, a lot of it made it onto theplaylist. An album I’ll be listening to a lot over the coming weeks and months. 9/10
Bastions: Majestic Desolation
The first album released by the band in 11 years, The band make the most of showcasing their talent after so much time off. The band go HARD on this album, combining elements of black metal and hardcore together well. It’s not really my thing, and the tracks did all blend together a little when I listened to them, but I can definitely appreciate the talent and songwriting skill of the band. I’ll give it a 5/10, though I’m sure bigger fans of the genre would give it much higher!
Belphegor: The Devils
It’s blackened death metal. If you like the genre, like I am starting to, you’ll love this. It takes all the good parts from black metal but adds fun stuff too like riffs and good production. And this is a band very clearly near the top of the genre where songwriting is concerned. Tracks like ‘Damnation’ and ‘Kingdom of Cold Flesh’ are awesome and definite highlights! 6.5/10
Cats in Space: Kickstart the Sun
The AOR/power Prog rock space lovers are back with their fifth album. It’s pretty great if you like this sort of thing. Fantastic instrumentation, amazing vocals and harmonies and some good lyrics. I again cannot help but compare them to the awesome Night Ranger, and that is definitely a compliment. My only slight issue is that it does all seem a little similar. I was much more than happy to listen to the album all the way through, but the tracks blended together a little and I’d struggle to name them if it weren’t written in front of me. A different sound, feeling or timing would have been nice somewhere! Still, there is plenty to love from start to finish! 7.5/10
And there we have it, another surprisingly awesome week! As always keep up to date on all of our content from our Instagram here.
We are officially halfway through the year. But, with so many huge albums still left to come out, including just this week, there is still plenty of new music to go. With 11 new albums this week, let’s waste no time and get into them!
Shinedown: Planet Zero
A return to form for the Jacksonville natives, as Planet Zero is a very good album. I went in skeptical after their last two but the band below me away. Check out the full review and the score here.
Municipal Waste: Electrified Brain
One of the biggest bands still proudly waving the thrash banner on the periphery of the mainstream, Municipal Waste are onto their seventh studio album now. Said album is good. I feel like their fans know what to expect from the band now and they certainly do not disappoint. Tracks like ‘Demoralizer’, ‘Grave Dive’ and ‘Thermonuclear Protection’ are masterclasses in modern day thrash. In a day and age where everything is drawn out and full of highs and lows, it’s quite nice to have a band not take things too seriously and instead give us half an hour o punk-and-beer charged speed. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and Municipal Waste prove that they are pretty indestructible after two decades. 8.5/10
Blood Command: Praise Armageddonism
The vocals put me off this a bit at first. Whether it’s the high-pitched extreme metal/hardcore screams or the almost Hayley Williams-like cleans, they seem an odd choice over the instruments. However when the band get lighter is where they shine, in my opinion. When I started to get used to the vocals, tracks like ‘Saturday Night’ and ‘Questionable Taste in Friends’ are great songs. The band draw together so many different influences, from punk to indie to metal, and fuse it together well. As an album it grew on me a fair bit as it went on and I’d happily listen to a lot of it again and again! 7/10
Fresh: Raise Hell
The band are another in a growing list of new bands to bring back an older, Pulp-like sound. Therefore, when I Googled them and their Wiki said they were pop punk, I was a tad let down. I suppose it is still pop punk, just a lot different to the usual style of it. However, after the first couple of tracks, I started to fall in love with this. Both ‘Babyface’ and ‘Going to Bed’ are amazing tracks, full of great, catchy lyrics, bouncy instrumentation and even some horns thrown in for good measure (y’all know I love a horn). Kathryn Woods has a beautiful voice that fits the rest of the band perfectly. It’s an amazing album to chill out to and it’s honestly one of my favourite lighter albums of this year, by quite a margin. I’mma have to see these guys live soon! 8/10
The dirty, groovy, sludge black metal personify everything great about the heavier metal scene today. Whether it’s the plodding sludginess, stripped-back, menacing clean guitar parts or the all out assault and speed and screams, this is a masterpiece. Just check out opening track ‘It Dwells’. It’s 7-minutes should tell you exactly what the band is about, and it’s glorious. It’s like they listened to early Opeth and said ‘we’ll raise’ and then added some Behemoth in just for good measure. And for this sort of quality to come from the bands just second album, I cannot wait to hear how they keep pushing themselves in the future. 8.5/10
Ivan Knight and the Imaginary Friends: 1958
And now for something completely different. A ‘punk rock’ album that seems ripped straight out of an 8-Bit, adventure NES game is certainly a novel concept, and is pulled off rather enjoyably by Ivan. It’s probably technically not rock, but it doesn’t fit into any other genre and is punk enough to be taken in by us, right? It’s a novelty, but it’s a fun one that is definitely worth a listen for the creativity and story alone. 6/10
Horizon Ignited: Towards the Dying Lands
the melodeath metallers joined forces with Nuclear Blast Records this time for the release of their sophomore album. The band do a fantastic job of combining the two styles, having thrashy riffs, crushing, heavy screams but then HUGE, catchy, hook-filled choruses. It’s hard to even pick a highlight as it’s all amazing, but the title track hits different than the others. Yes, it has more clean vocals than most of the other tacks, but it gives it more of a heavy metalcore feel to it that I LOVE. And it’s massively catchy and just feels epic. Also the cleaner ballad, ‘Aching Wings’, is fucking phenomenal. But again, all of the other tracks are also awesome. The clean reminds me a lot of David Drainman, and the melodies written for it are just as catchy as Disturbed ‘s stuff, too. The band definitely have a new fan in me, and I NEED to hear more of them, NOW. 9/10
Thirteen Goats: Servants of the Outer Dark
More melodeath, but unfortunately not quite the same quality as the previous band. It’s not bad by any stretch, but the vocals let it down just a tad. Multiple different vocal styles is always going to be hard to pull off and while they do a good job at fitting them all into the tracks, the lower growl/singing combo isn’t quite up to the same quality as the others. It sounds better when it’s just a full on growl. However, tracks like ‘Challenge the Executioner’ and ‘Sub-Being’ are a lot of fun and definite highlights. And a shout-out to the instrumentalists, especially the drummer, for being absolutely amazing players. A good album that got better throughout for me. 6.5/10
Then Comes Silence: Hunger
The Swedish gothic, post-punk band released a doom-drenched album based around positivity after the pandemic last week. It’s like a depressed version of the Fresh album from earlier in this article, a somehow even more gothic Pulp. The band are all good musicians and it’s a good album, but it did get old pretty quick for me. I enjoyed it but after the first 4-5 tracks I felt like I’d heard all it had to offer. After that it got a tad repetitive and boring. Not bad, but I won’t be going out of my way to listen to it again. 5.5/10
The Dear Hunter: Antimai
The prog rockers released their eighth studio album last Friday. While the opening track didn’t grab my attention, ‘Industry’ is funk-rock awesomeness. The horns again make it for me, adding to the catchiness of the vocals. Heck, the track even has a bass solo, what more could you want? It’s one of my favourite tracks of the year, hands down. Outside of odd parts of tracks like ‘Middle Class’ and ‘Tower’ I can take or leave the rest as it was a little slow for the sort of prog I like. However, it was still good and I’d happily have it on in the background or on a long car journey! 6/10
Ironhawk: Ritual of the Warpath
Last up this week is the Aussie thrash/punk-metal band’s debut LP. Musically it’s a lot of fun, but the production leaves a lot to be desired. It reminds me of a heavier Motorhead, and is a lot of fun. I just can’t quite get over the distant, reverb-heavy vocals. I want to see them live as I feel like I’d get a much better appreciation of them. Because of this, I can’t give them much more than 5/10
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Another week packed with new music, from rock to metal. However, before we get into it this week, a couple of surprise honourable mentions.
We typically don’t cover EPs on this article, but y’all would hate me if I didn’t mention Spiritbox’s new stuff. It’s good. Better than their album, in fact. Also, while not strictly rock so I omitted it from an official entry, Jack Johnson’s new album is fantastic so go check that out!
Porcupine Tree: CLOSURE/CONTINUATION
A band that I have struggled to get into for years, there are actually one or two tracks here that I found myself enjoying a lot! The heaviness of ‘Rats Return’, especially that fantastic guitar riff, had me loving it throughout. And how can I not praise the bass in the opening track? Unfortunately it’s not all good. Tracks like ‘Dignity’ and ‘Of the New Day’ still bore me to tears. However, they’re not bad songs, just too slow and long and repetitive for me. If it’s going to prog, it better at least have highs and lows and plenty of changes, not just all slow lows. But I didn’t hate it, which is an improvement at least! 5/10
Alestorm: Seventh Rum of a Seventh Rum
Due to this particular review, I very nearly gave this album a 10/10. However, I wanted to at least maintain some integrity as a journalist. Objectively, it’s good. Not great. Not as good as their last couple of albums. Just good. I remember reviewing the last one (I think I gave it an 8) and saying I enjoyed the comedy songs more. I feel somehow the exact opposite this album. The lyrics for ‘Cannonball’ come across as massively childish and immature while ‘P.A.R.T.Y’ (while massively catchy and fun), does feel a tad… Fortnite. It just feels a bit like they are running out of clever ways to make the joke, meaning it’s getting a little old. Meanwhile, tracks like ‘Under Blackened Banners’ and the title track are fantastically catchy and well-written. And of course the latest entry into the ‘Wooden Leg’ saga is awesome, too. It’s a shame nothing quite came close to ‘Treasure Chest Party Quest’ this time, but it’s still a damn good pirate metal album. 7/10
I’ve never ‘got’ this band. I don’t think I ever will. I know they have a pretty huge following, but this style of post-hardcore just sounds like a mess to me. While I can appreciate the ingenuity, the vocals rarely sound like they fit with the instrumentation, and the clean and harsh vocals don’t fit together at all. Some tracks have an alright riff but they’re all pretty simple, reminding me of the latest You Me At Six album. I couldn’t find a song that found myself enjoying, as much as I hate to say it. So, don’t kill me, but this album gets a 3/10 from me.
Coheed and Cambria: Vaxis II: A Window of the Waking Mind
A band I know I’d love if I just had the time to listen to them past the ICONIC riff of ‘Welcome Home’. The band is full of fantastic musicians and songwriters and they even release graphic novels to help tell the stories of their albums. How am I NOT a massive fan already?
The bands infectious blend of pop, punk, prog and metal is on fantastic display throughout this entire album. The insanely catchy choruses of ‘Comatose’ and ‘Love Murder One’ are definite highlights, and of course it’s impossible not to talk about the masterpiece that is ‘Shoulders’. However, I would recommend you listen to the album back to back to really get a full appreciation of it all. It really is an amazing concept album and damn, I need to fully check out the rest of their back catalogue. 8.5/10
Weezer: SZNZ: Summer
The second of four albums this year, one to represent each season. This one is a vast improvement on Spring, feeling more like a classic pop-punk Weezer album. And honestly, most of the tracks are good. ‘Lawn Chair’ is weird and makes no sense, but the following four tracks are all fantastic. And on a seven track album, that’s a very good sign. While I wouldn’t say any of them feel that ‘summery’, I am definitely enjoying the album! Hopefully the other two are this good too, because I’d say this is as good as Van Weezer last year, and I LOVED that album! 8/10
Nervus: The Evil One
Google told me this was a punk band. Google got my hopes up and lied. It’s indie, with a slightly more rock/80s pop leaning than normal. Nothing more. That’s not a bad thing per say, but I was a little disappointed and, thus, bored by what I heard. Tracks like ‘Drop Out’ and ‘Rental Song’ are okay, but nothing we haven’t heard huge amounts of times before from other bands. I’d happily listen to this in the background as a chilled-out album while I’m busy, but concentrating on the album meant I got pretty uninterested after a few tracks. 4/10
Petrol Girls: Baby
I don’t see the appeal of bad female vocals in punk bands. In fact, let me re-phrase that. I don’t see the appeal of bad vocals. It just reminded me a lot of Wet Leg and Otoboke Beaver, two bands I cannot stand, hence the first sentence. The music behind the vocals is okay and inoffensive enough, but I cannot get past the awful vocals. It made it feel like it was going on forever when in fact I’d only gotten two tracks in before wanting to turn it off. I pushed through, but it doesn’t get any better, sadly. More power to you if you enjoy this, we’re clearly very different people! But sadly, this gets a 2/10 from me.
It’s Iron Maiden with a choir or growls over the top. I would take that as a compliment but at the same time, I’d rather listen to Maiden. I’m not sure what it was, but something here just didn’t quite click with me. I enjoyed it from a musical standpoint, but the vocals didn’t really much for me. Far less offensive than the previous entry in this article, they were definitely listenable, they just didn’t give me anything memorable. There was no big chorus or dirty scream or impressive high note. The only thing that seemed to stand out on this album were the riffs. Hence why I’d prefer to listen to Maiden or a folk rock band, someone that can do this just as well while also adding a second element to their sound. ‘Fallen’ is a bop though, even for that outro alone! 4.5/10
RXPTRS: Living Without Deaths Permission
I’ve reviewed this album already. It was fucking awesome. Check out said review here.
Paganizer: Beyond The Macabre
The death metal Swedes released their 12th studio album in 23 years last week. Firstly, that’s some impressive work ethic. Second, it’s impressive that it’s still of damn high quality. I know death metal isn’t for everyone and I’m only a beginner really with the genre, but everyone involved played their part very well. ‘Meatpacker’ was a particular highlight to me due to its crushing riffs and some very good ‘bleh’s. An album worth checking out if you’re into the heavy stuff! 7/10
And there we have it, another stacked week of new music! Tune in next week as always and keep up to date on all of our content from our Facebook here.