We were at Winter Rocks Festival last weekend (check out our review of the weekend here) and had the pleasure of chatting to Dallas of the amazing LA Maybe. Unfortunately the video and audio quality both suck as we were shooting in the smoking area, so I’ve painstakingly typed it all out, just for you! Check it out below!
So this is the first stop of the tour, right?
First stop of the tour, yeah. It was our first time out here at Call of the Wild earlier this year, did a little run then and now we’re back out! We’ll be here for most of December.
And have you seen any differences in playing here as opposed to the US?
Yeah, people seem to like us more over here! So we like it over here, we’ve had a blast. As far as rock fans, they’re rock fans, so we feel right at home!
And how did the whole UK shows comes about? I Know Raz (UPSTGD) got in touch?
Raz just discovered our album and then contacted us and we just kinda went from there. That would have probably been right before the album came out in 2021, so we were talking to him for about a year setting up that first time, and now we’re back. And it’s going really well!
And you guys just put out a single, right?
‘Down to Fight’, yeah! It came out when we were on the Kiss Cruise which was Octoberish. It’s gone well so far, the video was a lot of fun to make. It was crazy, we got to chainsaw through a couch on fire and all sort of stuff. We’re really happy with how it’s turned out.
And is it the start of another album or?
We’re gonna do singles, and it’ll lead up to an album! All the singles will be on the album and it started with this one! Probably be the end of next year for sure. We’re excited about that too!
Have you got much else planned for next year?
Yeah, we’ll be at home, hiding away money and figuring out where to spend it. Back here maybe or a tour at home. Fortunately in music there’s a lot of places your money can go these days. I don’t know if we’re going to come back here next year, it’d be awesome but I don’t think it’s on the cards, so to speak. But in 2024 I’m sure we’ll be back!
And you’ve started up a podcast, right?
We did, earlier this year! It’s called Your New Favourite Band. We’ve been highlighting bands we like as well as recap what we’ve been doing like the Kiss Cruise and stuff.
Oh yeah, how did that come about?
The Kiss Cruise, we actually won the contest for it! On there with Sebastien Bach and a bunch of other great names. It was super fun. A real once in a lifetime experience. Hopefully not just once though!
And speaking of, do you have a dream tour lineup you’d want to be a part of?
I mean I’ve always loved Guns N’Roses so that’d be fun! But then I don’t know how many years they have left in them. But that’d be a dream for sure! But also all the younger bands we’ve been playing with would be awesome. Dirty Honey, Black Crows, that’d be good. Any and all people!
And finally, what’s it like being adopted into the NWOCR scene?
Yeah, it’s really nice! It’s really vibrant over here. It feels really good to be back over here and be a part of this whole family of it all. It’s a lot of the same people which is all good.
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Blues rock mastermind Jamie Porter is back with what he is dubbing a mini album. A short collection of seven tracks to follow up his last years release (read our review of that here). It’s set for release tomorrow so join us in checking out what it’s like!
‘A Girl Like You’ opens on one of the most blusey riffs I’ve heard all year. The perfect blend of Black Stone Cherry, old Deep Purple and Electric Boys. The track strips back a little as Jamie Porter ‘s vocals come in, it all having a very chilled out vibe to it. The chorus is still relaxed but is bigger and pretty anthemic thanks to the second guitar and harmonised vocals. It’s catchy and made to be played in front of a huge crowd. And while the solo was a little basic, it fit well with the feel and groove of the track, which is much harder to get right! It’s a simple yet hugely effective track, a fun, good way to start the album!
‘I’m Not Running Away’ opens on a slower, quieter riff, almost a little Brit-pop influence in there. The steady, almost ballad-like pace of the track was awesome and a bold choice for the second song on the album. It was another very catchy track, too. There wasn’t a massive difference between the verse and chorus, sonically, but subtle changes of adding another vocal and slightly more instrumentation added an amazing couple of layers to it. The lyrics were fantastic too, meaningful and straight from the heart. They definitely worked for me! It all builds perfectly into the final chorus. Jamie has the innate ability to make ANYTHING into an epic anthem, and I both love it and am incredibly jealous. This easily makes the playlist, it was an awesome track!
The heaviness ramps back up with ‘Need a Little Love’, the main riff reminding me a lot of Velvet Revolver. It’s got that effortless swagger that’s so associated with Slash. The catchy as FUCK vocals are pretty Scott Weiland, too. The harmonised gang vocals when it drops back a little too are very GnR. Jamie is wearing his inspirations on his sleeve in the best way. There’s an extended instrumental in the middle that, while it was awesome, I do think it dragged the song out a little. As much as I love prog, seven-and-a-half minutes of a similar sound got to me just a little. Still though, it ends in spectacular fashion with another huge chorus.
‘You Are the One’ is another ballad. It starts slow with clean guitars and the multi-layered vocals and building slowly through the verse and chorus before the drums come in behind to add another great later. It never even hits the huge stadium-chorus height that I was expecting it to, it stayed stripped back and simple throughout. Honestly, I preferred it. It was beautiful and the message of the song came across perfectly this way. And heck, as I said before, when you can turn anything into a huge chorus, knowing when not to is also impressive.
Speaking of big anthemic choruses, ‘Remember Yesterday’ encapsulates everything I was praising the previous track for not being. It’s a mid-tempoed, ballad-like banger of a track. It gives off slight Bon Jovi vibes, but obviously with a British twang. It’s fucking awesome! This is everything that the band is about in terms of their sound, so if you’re going to check any out first, I’d recommend this one! It’s awesome, and easily makes the playlist!
The final two tracks are both excellent too. I enjoyed when the track dropped down in ‘Ready for Action’. It sounded very AC/DC and the build back up was perfect. Then the album ended with the surprisingly AOR ‘Hero’. It’s one of the rockier tracks on the album but still maintains Jamie Porter ‘s now signature tempo and style. Both are fantastic tracks and ‘Hero’ closes the album well.
Overall: This was great! I wouldn’t say it was quite as strong as the full album last year, but that’s simply because the other one was a tad heavier so it’s personal preference. However, there isn’t a bad track on this collection and a couple stand out amongst some of his best work. Both can have the same score, as this does feel like an extension of MMXXI…
Diving right into day two of Winter Rocks, the main stage opened on the awesome Dead Man’s Whiskey (with an E). They’re another band that I wasn’t too familiar with outside of the name heading into the set. However, loved them coming out of it. Even with some slight technical difficulties with one of the guitars for the first couple of tracks, these guys did one hell of a job at setting the pace for the day. Their unique blend of hard and southern rock was awesome. And, every single one of them put on a great show to accompany it. You could tell they were having fun, so as a result, so did the crowd.
Next up we headed over to the second stage to catch the awesome Slyder Smith. While not especially my thing, there was no denying the talent of any of the three people up on that stage. They all performed masterfully and Slyder had oodles of charisma, keeping the crowd entertained and encapsulated throughout.
Next it was back across to the main stage for another Scottish band, Jason Sweeney. This was apparently the furthest South the band had performed to date, and I think they’ll definitely have a lot of new fans coming out of this set. It was bluey, it was funky, it was hard rock, but once again it was a lot of fun. Jason was laughing and joking around with the crowd and in return they were giving a fair bit of energy and attention back. And of course the music was also great to top it all off. Just another band that I’mma have to see again!
Over on the second stage we were then treated to a blues/country rock masterclass from Tom Kilner and his band. We caught a bit of his set at Call of the Wild earlier this year and were blown away then, but this was on another level. It reminded me a lot of Whiskey Myres (one of my favourite bands). It’s insane that a bloke from Yorkshire can sound this southern. The technicality from Tom’s playing, alongside his phenomenal bassist, was off the charts, and his songwriting is frankly amazing. They did a longer, almost prog track where they stripped it back and almost just jammed and it was fantastic. A great way to chill out and marvel at some insanely good music.
Fallen State soon took to the main stage after, heavying proceedings back up again. I’ve been a fan of this band for a while now and honestly, this felt just a tad flat to me. I’m not sure whether I was just getting a little worn out by this point or restless for the later bands, and the crowd may have been the same, but it just didn’t seem to click. The band all played their parts well and the songs were good. But, for whatever reason, the crowd weren’t into it. Thus, neither were the band. Hopefully they were just having an off night as I’d love to see them again at full force!
Next up were a band that, if everything goes the way it should, will be one of the biggest bands in rock in a decades time. Very few know what ‘it’ is in terms of the music industry, but for anyone who hasn’t seen The LA Maybe yet, they’ve most certainly got it. Not only do they have unbelievable talent (the duelling guitar solo and snippets of Star Wars, Eagles, Metallica and Thin Lizzy at the end of ‘Peace of Mind’ honestly made me feel like I should never pick up a guitar again), but they are incredibly good songwriters.
‘Mr. Danger’ and ‘Oh Sugar’ have been stuck in my head for days, as well as being stuck on my Spotify. And I have never seen someone so effortlessly become Axl Rose, in voice and body, as I did watching Goliath perform ‘Welcome to the Jungle’. This is the second time we’ve seen them and I already want to see them again. They are currently on tour over here and I urge you to make it down if you can, you’ll find your new favourite band!
Headlining the second stage were our good friends Bastette! It’s been a while since we’d seen them, over a year, in fact, and the band has changed quite a lot in that time. a pretty large line-up change, including bringing in The Hot Damn!/Cult Classics guitarist Laura Buchanan. It seemed to give the band a new lease of life as they were on top form here. Whether it was their older stuff or tracks that have come out in the last year, they all sounded great. And Caroline is sounded and performing better than ever. There were times where she almost growled/screamed and honestly I think it would have helped the tracks even more. My only slight point is that I kinda wish they’d get a second guitarist back in to fill out the rest of the sound live and make it a little heavier again.
Finally we reach the mainstage headliners for the Saturday, one of my favourite bands for a few years now, The New Roses. I’ve seen them four times and every time they get better and better. This was a phenomenal set. Coming off the back of their much praised new album, Sweet Poison, they played a set heavy of that, alongside all of the classics and crowd favourites.
And speaking of the crowd, it was packed and everyone loved it. I’ve seen them at festivals before and, while the crowds are never bad, they’re never that familiar with the music going in so just sit back and appreciate it. However, everyone around me knew every track and were down to have a great time partying with Timmy and Co for well over an hour.
And, because of the adoration of the crowd, the guys were clearly enjoying themselves and seemed the most comfortable that I’ve seen them too. Timmy was laughing and joking around with the crowd, oozing charisma, and the rest of the band were just as entertaining too. This was not only my set of the weekend, but one of my favourite shows I’ve seen this year. I cannot wait for them to come back over here next year, as I’ll be travelling to wherever they end up to see them!
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We spent two days at Sheffield’s amazing Corporation for a weekend filled with great rock music. The wonderful people at UPSTGD not only put it all on but invited us along to enjoy the festivities and tell you all how great it was! Join us as we review Winter Rocks!
Opening up the stage on the Friday we have the awesome Shadow Smile. I’d see the name around a fair bit this year but hadn’t had the chance to check out their stuff. I came away a huge fan and with a tee shirt to prove it! The heavy, borderline metalcore band opened the stage up in style and proved to be a tough act to follow. Whether it was their older material or their newest single, the crowd ate every bit of it up. It was surprising too. Given that it was a NWOCR event, the crowd loved the heavier-than-usual day.
Next up were Birmingham’s own Endscape. Just before they put out their much anticipated new single and EP, the guys play a blinder of a set to almost bring the year to a close. Just Shadow Smile, the crowd lapped up everything the band gave them and were clear fans of the band going into the event. The bands fuzzy, heavy, electronic-based sound translated surprisingly well to the small venue. It’s an odd choice to fit into the NWOCR and UPSTGD scene, but the crowd loved it and the band looked to enjoy themselves too! Another band I’ll be checking out more of in the future!
Having driven all the way down from Scotland for the event, She Burns Red took to the stage amid a sea of their fans. It was clear they were clear crowd favourites from the get go. Ripping through their impressive back catalogue, the band’s talent and effortless charisma held everyone in the palm of their hands throughout. Their sound was so interesting too. Whether it was hard rock, punk, grunge or metal, it never got boring and was constantly awesome to hear. Another amazing set from a band that should be on the up and up with their next release!
Sub-headlining the event were good friends of the company, the theatrical metal juggernauts Ward XVI. This being the last stop on the bands much heralded Metamorphosis tour, they put their all into it and it really showed. From the set to the outfits, everything was on point, and their stage-show was the best I’d seem them put on. From the props to the very real chainsaw, their now trademark huge Mother character walking the crowd and now having her cut open live on stage too, this was the perfect horror show masterpiece. How the band can coordinate all of this, and come up with it all, as well as write their excellent music is honestly incredible.
And the show really doesn’t take away from how good the music is, either. From the riffs to the great drumming and Psychoberrie’s amazing vocals, everything sounded top notch. I cannot wait to see where the bands story and stage show go from their third album, and I’m so glad I got to see them one more time on this tour!
Closing out the night were the band everyone was here to see, the unstoppable goth powerhouses, South of Salem. We at Overtone have seen them at various festivals over the last 13 months, but this is a very different band to the one that graced the stage at Hard Rock Hell or Call of the Wild. There was a definite air of confidence and assurance to them now. They were still very thankful to be there, but knew they deserved it and knew everyone there loved them.
And for good reason too, they were fantastic. The band ripped through an hour of some of their best tracks, from ‘Let us Prey’ to ‘Pretty Little Nightmare’ to the always crowd-favourite ‘Cold Day in Hell’. They were polished, professional, and played perfectly to the adoring fans. This is how you close out a day at a festival. These guys are rightfully going to be massive, and sooner rather than later.
Hard/classic rock band The New Roses put out their much-acclaimed new album, Sweet Poison, last month (check out our review of it here). We managed to sit down with frontman Timmy Rough to talk all about it, from the writing process to their touring plans. Check it out below!
You just put out the new album. What was it like to record it?
Yeah. So, every song on the record actually came to life during the lockdowns. The very first song sounded really terrible because we were dealing with all the frustration, it was really sad stuff. Nobody felt anything listening to them. We didn’t feel like making an album back then, all the material just made it worse.
So, I wrote a song called ‘The Usual Suspects’ and after that everyone was really engaged and really wanted to do something. We had the right motivation and vibe for the record. After that I wrote maybe 60 songs and we took the time and hooked it down to the last 11 songs that were lasting. Then we took all them and recorded them.
And what about those other 49 songs? Do you think they’ll ever see the light of day?
Yeah, maybe! You know a lot of them are just shit because for every good song I write I write maybe two or three shitty songs. But a couple of them are really good! They were a little too close to the new record though and we don’t want that. Maybe we’ll take them out when there’s enough space between the new stuff and the Nothing But Wild record and we can just blend them in, I guess.
You said last time we talked that it was the first time you’d written with the rest of the band. How was that compared to writing on your own?
It was way more fun. Still, the initial ideas come from me but this time everybody participated a lot more than we used to do it. Maybe that’s maybe because we had a bit more time; we could try things out and go back and forth a little. I guess you hear that on the record, everybody’s input. There’s a whole bunch of stuff in there that I wouldn’t have come up with myself!
Is there a main inspiration or sound to the album?
We recorded at the same studio that we recorded all our other records in, so it’s just a little improvement but the same foundation of our sound. Every record we make we’re scratching stuff away, carving it away. You try to distil it down to a point where there’s just 100% necessary stuff. This record is really the most we’ve done that. It’s pretty much exactly what we play live. It was much easier to bring those songs to the stage this time because most of the songs are just two guitars, two vocals, bass and drums.
The other inspiration, the main topic, was not to bitch. Not to complain or take the victim role. We wanted to stand up for ourselves, stand up for our audience and give them a good time and demonstrate some strength and some faith. That was the main goal for the record.
Have you got any highlights or stories from making the album?
You know at first it was very difficult because we couldn’t get into the rehearsal room together. We always had to send tracks around and everybody recorded their stuff at home. We’d always meet in Skype or Zoom meetings and talk about the recordings. At first it was really weird because the songs were coming to life but we weren’t playing together. But when it finally did it was really weird. We all knew the songs so well, but we’d never played them together. But when it happened, and fortunately it did happen before we went to the studio, so in the end we recorded in the studio like we used to do.
That was very fortunate for us, we were afraid we would have to record and create the whole record without even once being together. But that didn’t happen. So, when we finally got together it felt really energetic and really cool to get the stuff recorded together.
And I assume you have a big tour planned off the back of it? There are some UK dates, right?
Yes sir! It’s gonna be December. London on the 1st, Cardiff on the 2nd and Sheffield on the 3rd. Winter Rocks festival is the Sheffield date. I’m really looking forward to it, it’s been a long time. I think late in the Covid year we did a festival in the UK, we did Call of the Wild, so it’s been too long! It’s gonna be fantastic!
And I assume there’ll be a bit more of an expansive tour coming in the new year?
Yeah! So, at the moment we’re on the German tour and we’re playing all our important German cities. Then after that we’re in the UK. Early next year we’ll be in France and then we’ll kinda see how winter goes and see how the Covid thing is gonna be. As soon as we’ve got a bit better of a vision we’re gonna be all over the place!
I imagine there’ll still be a hint of writing going on, too?
Hell yeah, that’s what I do. I’ve got my notebook, my scratch book with me. I keep on collecting stuff right away. It’s what I always do. When touring is done I’ll take everything out and lock myself up in a small room and I go through everything I wrote down and start making songs out of that nonesense!
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
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
I’ve been a huge fan of Alter Bridge for over a decade and a half now. Blackbird has helped me get through a lot and Fortress is one of my favourite albums ever. However, their previous album didn’t do much for me and I struggled to get into The Last Hero too. While said albums may have cooled off the bands momentum a bit, they are still one of the biggest hard rock bands of the modern era, amassing millions of streams and there is a lot of anticipation for their new album. The singles have been great, to be fair. We got sent this early and I couldn’t not check it out, let’s go!
The latest single, ‘This is War’ opens the album. Straight in with a huge riff and some great highs from Myles Kennedy, aided I imagine by some sort of operatic choir. We’re immediately back to the epic Alter Bridge sound and I love it. Tremonti’s machine-gun-like chugging is ever-impressive and doesn’t at all make me jealous of his talent. The guy should do some proper thrash, he could rival Jeff Hanneman’s chops for rhythm in the genre. The riff opens up into some awesome swinging notes and I cannot stop gushing over the guitar work already. Also, the harmonies on the vocals in the verses are on point.
The pre drops down into some great high notes from Myles, building up into a HUGE chorus. It’s catchy, massive and pretty open. Aside from the vocals, the drums feel like they stand out most here, holding down the rhythm perfectly and making it feel even bigger. Everything I love about the track seems to come together briefly for the bridge before Tremonti melts everyone’s faces off with a blistering guitar solo. I don’t have enough good stuff to say about this track. It feels like a mixture of Fortress and III, and I love it. Playlisted!
‘Dead Among the Living’ opens on another huge, heavy and great riff. The bounce it has in it when it kicks in amazing, and man would this pop off live. It strips back for the verses, clean guitar chords, great harmonies and Myles’ otherworldly vocals taking the lead. It gets to the chorus surprisingly quickly; barely a pre and very little verse. However, the chorus is another catchy, open one so you can’t really complain. The track gives me Last Hero vibes, but maybe a little heavier. That’s not a bad thing by any stretch and it is good but doesn’t stand out much to me when compared to the opener. The breakdown(?) riff is good though!
The next single, ‘Silver Tongue’, grants my wishes momentarily and opens on a thrash riff. It explodes into the main riff which is HUGE, reminding me of those times where Muse get especially heavy, particularly the Drones album. This is another Fortress track through and through, heavy, massive and very catchy. Especially in the second and final choruses when the double one is half-timed, *chef’s kiss*. The breakdown is amazing too, from the riff to Myles’ vocals when it kicks in, it’s all awesome. The dropped-down chorus after to build back up was also amazing. This is another track that easily makes the playlist, fantastic stuff.
‘Sin After Sin’ veers into rather unexplored territory for Alter Bridge, at least for the opening. The drums and clean guitar was really interesting and I was thinking it would lead to a slower track. The bass sounded amazing over the top of it all, too. We then instead get a heavier (but awesome) riff over the top. It’s still at a plodding pace, but I’d have almost enjoyed this staying stripped back throughout. It drops down before the riff comes back for the choruses. The choruses are again fun, I think Myles and Tremonti are incapable of writing a bad one at this point. However, something about this just felt a tad disjointed. It’s not a bad track, but my least favourite of the singles.
‘Stay’ is the slower track I was expecting the previous one to be. It also features Tremonti on lead vocals, which is a massively nice surprise. I wasn’t too sure when he first started fronting stuff a few years back, but either he’s improved massively, or I’ve grown to love his voice. Heck, he put out an album of Frank Sinatra covers earlier this year that is phenomenal. Whenever he and Myles harmonies it’s truly special. Especially on slower, more anthemic tracks like this. The whole song is open, huge and catchy, as well as being very emotional. It’s beautiful, honestly. Both men put in a vocal performance rivalling their best and the music behind it all is fantastic. Playlisted!
Some more fantastic riffing runs through ‘Holiday’, hitting us with two or three different amazing ones. It’s also one of the simplest but one of my favourite choruses on the album. This somehow feels like the most radio-friendly album track ever. It’s a radio track but not something Alter Bridge would probably put out as a single. It’s an odd, fascinating and great predicament, ensuring that we get good songs through and through. It follows a pretty standard structure and sounds much like the opening track in its style. Good stuff!
The prog track of the album, ‘Fable of the Silent Son’ is a beautiful and perfect slow build track. A minute-and-a-half before any distortion comes in and it’s gone pretty quick after too. The heavy riff is bend-heavy awesomeness and the vocals chorus over it are good. Before that, the clean guitars and Myles’ vocals are fantastic.
A stabbing, plodding riff comes in to add even more heaviness around the 3-minute mark. It heralds another chorus, heavier than the previous. The pace stays slow throughout and we get an awesome bridge where the guitars are out off-tempo with the drums. I LOVE it. The time signature here is odd in the best way, almost going a bit Tool for a second. Then we of course get an amazing guitar solo after, fitting the mood perfectly. It drops back before building to a truly epic close. What a fantastic prog track. I loved this, and it reminded me a lot of ‘Fortress’.
‘Season of Promise’ opens on a Last Hero-esque riff, the whole song feeling like ‘My Champion’ II. I unfortunately feel like this is a little worse than the latter track, however. Maybe it’s just my bias towards ‘My Champion’ as it’s my favourite track on that album and holds a lot of personal weight to me. And again, this track isn’t bad by any stretch. It’s an emotional, uplifting ballad track that I definitely enjoyed. I just couldn’t get the other track out of my head. Tremonti absolutely slays it with his closing solo, though.
‘Last Man Standing’ is another slow opener, and surprisingly for the second time this album I got Tool vibes from the riff. In fact, take away the second guitar and the huge chorus and it could definitely make a great Tool song. Outside of that it’s a pretty average Alter Bridge song. It’s definitely good, but definitely an album track. Some good riffs and soloing and a decent chorus, but nothing stood out too much to me.
Unfortunately, I feel the same about the closing/title track and lead single. I do like the track, it’s got a fantastic chorus and some characteristically great, heavy riffs. and I remember liking this track more when I first heard it. Maybe I’m just Alter Bridge burnt out by this point of the album? After all, the album is nearly an hour in length. The bridge is amazing too, with the fast, Metallica-like guitaring. And again, this feels ripped right from Fortress. I do like this song a lot and feel like I’d love it a lot more if I was hearing it first. Still, it’s a bold move in 2022 to close the album on any single, let alone the lead one, and I definitely have to give the band props for that. And it’s a great, epic way to close an album. Awesome stuff!
Overall: This was everything I hoped, and so much better than I expected it to be. It was everything I love about Alter Bridge rolled up into one amazing album. It drew together sounds from almost every album they’ve released and feels like a culmination of the last nearly 20 years they’ve been together. When over half the album is standout tracks, you know you’re onto a winner. This is definitely up there with one of the best albums Alter Bridge have put out, and you should go and check it out immediately!
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.
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
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
Hard rock supergroup and David Lowy pet project The Dead Daises are set to release their sixth studio album this Friday. I’ve been a fan of the band since the start, through all of its various incarnations. However, having said that, not the biggest Glenn Hughes fan. While I did enjoy Holy Ground, I believe the band peaked in 2018 when Marco Mendoza and John Corabi were around for Burn it Down. However, it is still a band of four immensely talented individuals, so I am excited and more than ready to eat my words during this review. Let’s get it!
I have to admit, opening track ‘Face Your Fear’ doesn’t do much for me. I liked the ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’/Tom Morello guitar effect to open it and the main riff that kicks in is also pretty fun. However, I just don’t think Glenn’s vocals have enough swagger and attitude to match the riffs. However, when his vocals sore a little more in the chorus it’s a little more fun. It’s catchy and almost gives off Velvet Revolver vibes.
And of curse Doug Aldrich pulls off a fantastic guitar solo in the middle, something I’ sure you’ll be reading about a lot during this review. Glenn’s vocal runs during the final chorus were fun too, though I feel like the backing vocals repeating the song title could have been a bit louder and more prevalent in the mix. There’s a lot going on in the track butt it might have added even more to the epicness. Not a bad way to start an album, but it could have been a tad stronger for me.
The blues riff that opens ‘Hypnotize Yourself’ is another fun one. It dropping down during the verses is a fun, the slow drums and clean chords matching well to Glenn’s lower range. It almost has a country feel to it. Then, it explodes into a HUGE chorus over the big riff, Glenn pushing his vocals harder and higher. It pays off massively with a really good, catchy chorus. It slows up heading into the solo, again giving off major Slash vibes. Especially as it builds up again into the second half of the fantastic solo. Doug is such a criminally underrated player, it’s insane. This track won me over a lot more than the opener, and definitely makes the playlist. Good stuff!
‘Shine On’ opens on a pretty heavy riff, reminding me a lot of Burn it Down. Glenn’s voice even fits surprisingly well over the top, it giving off heavier Deep Purple vibes. The chorus is even heavier as well and hugely catchy, it definitely walking the line of hard rock and light metal. It’s heavy, sleazy, and honestly is probably closest to the latest Inglorious album than anything else. Aldrich rips my favourite solo of the album on this track too, it’s something to behold even if you’re not a musician. This track is a real turning point for me with the band featuring Glenn, as I believe it’s the best sound they’ve had as a collective since he joined. Playlisted!
The album’s title track is a heavy starter too, and heads quickly into a sludgy, almost biker metal verse. The track stays pretty steady and plodding throughout, in fact. The chorus is huge and aided massively with the backing vocals while still being heavily slow. It’s another track that feels like the band picking up the best bits of where they left off with Corabi and Mendoza, and I’m loving it.
Because of the awesomeness of the last few tracks, songs like ‘Born to Fly’, ‘Courageous’ and ‘Not Human’ feels slightly average. None are bad songs by any stretch, don’t get me wrong. They’re simply either a little lighter than I’m enjoying from the band or, and it sounds so horrible so I’m sorry, a little too Glenn Hughes-y. I really don’t hate the guy, he’s been a part of some amazing tracks throughout his incredible career, but in case you haven’t guessed, Corabi is my guy. There’s some good stuff within each of the tracks, but there are definitely bigger highlights of the album.
Both ‘Kiss the Sun’ and ‘Cascade’, meanwhile, follow a similar sludgy, heavy as the other tracks I love. I don’t know whether the band have found their niche or whether I just prefer this style, you’ll have to let me know in the comments or on social media! But the main riffs for each track are sludgy awesomeness. Between the awesome riffing, more incredible solos from Doug and two of the best choruses on the album, these are two more huge highlights.
I didn’t even need to hear the closing track, ‘Roll On’, to know it’d be the ballad of the album. Not only had we not had a slow track yet, but it’s become such a predictable thing as a lot of modern bands are closing on their slow one over the last few years, for some reason. While the track is a good one, I don’t get this craze of ending the album with a whimper instead of a bang. This didn’t even have the epic feel to the ending that most manage to achieve, either. I’d have put this in the middle somewhere and had something like ‘Kiss the Sun’ to close on.
Overall: I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. I’d say it’s definitely an improvement on their last album and feels a little more focused and has some clearer direction to it. So, knowing my luck, Lowy will kick everyone out of his build-a-band in a years time and bring in someone like Sebastian Bach or Danny Bowes or something. But yeah, this is a damn good hard rock album. There are some amazing tracks on it and everyone does their job well, both from a musician and song writing perspective. I’m going to have to get tickets to their tour because I need to hear some of this live!
Thin Lizzy/Black Star Riders/Dead Daisies alumni Marco Mendoza has been a busy man throughout his career, as you can tell. But aside for the number of incredible bands and artists he’s worked with, he’s also had a fantastic solo career. New Direction is to be his fourth solo album, released on the 16th of this month. We managed to get our hands on it a little early to see what we think. I can’t wait for this one!
The original album title and lead single, ‘Take it to the Limit’, is up first. An air raid siren sets up a great sleezy riff, harkening back to the 80s immediately with its sound. The riff opens out a little in the verse, the instrumentation taking a more blusey approach. Marco’s voice sounds better than ever, too, a real testament to his commitment to music. The chorus is of course catchy and massive, the backing vocals and big instrumentation filling it all out perfectly. We get another great blues riff for the bridge, the vocals behind reminding me so much of ‘Love in an Elevator’. And of course, we get a fantastic, technical guitar solo. It wouldn’t be hard rock without one! What a track to open with. I loved it and it’s already been on our playlistfor a while now.
‘Just Can’t Get Over You’ opens on another blues-inspired riff, giving off LA Guns vibes. It drops down a bit for the verse, being muted and bouncy and a lot of fun with the vocals over the top. The track builds perfectly through an uplifting pre into another huge, catchy chorus. It’s a little more basically layered than the previous track but the vocals are so great it still sticks in your head. We get another fantastic guitar solo too, one that fits the vibe of the song to a T. The final chorus, complete with more lead guitar behind to make it even more epic, ends things on a bang.
‘Light it Up’ opens on steady drums and bass, Marco’s vocals coming in over the top and sounding fantastic. It again builds up as the guitars come in quietly before it all explodes for the choruses. It’s giving off Def Leppard vibes to me, which certainly isn’t a bad thing. The guitars are maybe even catchier than the vocals this time around, too. The guitar solo is off the charts in this track, easily being the highlight one of the album. Also, it dropping back down to just drum and bass for another verse after and building up massively for the final chorus was great. Another playlisted track!
Next, it’s time for a slower one. A slower, cleaner riff plays behind Marco Mendoza ‘s softer vocals. I can hear a lot of The Police, but again it sounds like it inspired it over a cheap copy that some bands do these days. The chorus is absolutely phenomenal, too. It’s one of the biggest stadium-filling choruses I’ve heard this year, and it truly does deserve to be played in front of that many people. Everything about this track is fantastic and I implore you to stop reading this right now and go check it out. You won’t be disappointed!
The next single, ‘Shoot For the Stars’, picks back up the pace a little. The simple riff and vocal combo always works great and here is no exception. It’s still not as quick as the previous tracks but it’s a good soft rock track, nearly a ballad in its own right. It is filled with catchy vocal parts and harmonies, as well as some great lead guitar work. It’s one hell of a choice for a single, everything about it is great!
‘All that I’m Living For’ has a fantastic riff running through it. It’s heavy but definitely an ear-worm too. The low vocals sound great over the top. We even get a key change hidden in the middle which sounded awesome. It leads to yet another huge, great chorus. I can hear in this track where Marco’s influence on Dead Daisies went, this is very much like the last album of theirs he was on. It’s another good track, with Marco channelling his inner Stephen Tyler in the bridge again being a particular highlight.
‘Free Ride’ was a fun 80s throwback track. From the spoken word at the start to the hard rock/sleezy riff, this screamed MTV. Having said, I also thought it could be ripped straight out of Reckless Love’s discography. Both are similar sounds though, and all sound great. In all fairness, so do the following couple of tracks, ‘Can’t Explain It’ and ‘Scream and Shout’. Both are more hard rock than sleaze, but are great, fun tracks too.
Then we reach the final track and the albums title song. Opening on the infectiously catchy chorus vocals and some huge chords, it’s definitely memorable. The track itself stays pretty steady-paced, again coming across as a bit of a hard rock ballad. Given the poignant subject matter of the song, it lends itself well to the sound. Looking for a new direction after the last couple of years definitely resonates with a lot of people, including myself. The chorus is MASSIVE and another stadium-filling highlight of the album. It’s an epic, fantastic way to close an amazing album.
Overall: As I said just, this is amazing. It’s the best solo album Marco Mendoza has done, in this humble writers opinion. There isn’t a bad track on the album and each one has a unique sound, energy and feel. I enjoyed listening to it from start to finish and it kept me interested, something few newer albums seem to do these days. I can’t wait to hear it live and I’mma be listening to this a lot over the next few weeks!
The Score: 8.5/10
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