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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Check out our interview with our good friend and awesome blues guitarist/songwriter Jack J Hutchinson! We spoke about his upcoming EP/DVD boxset, his upcoming tour and his new line-up!
Obviously we were going to see each other at Rockin’ the Bowl this year before the cancelation. Having said that, what do you think of the music scene at the minute?
I mean there’s a lot of bands that were on at Rockin’ the Bowl that I’ve seen at a lot of festivals in the last year or so so there are some great acts. A lot of guys that I’ve been on the same bill as that I really rate. Some great players. The biggest thing for me is songwriting really, bands that have good tunes, and there’s tonnes of great stuff. I like quite a variety of different music too, from blues to heavy rock and even acoustic folk stuff as well. We’re sort of overloaded with music at the minute which is cool!
You have the EP/boxset coming out next month, how did that come about?
Well, I released an album earlier on this year called ‘The Hammer Falls’ and during that process I was offered the opportunity to work with Kevin Shirley who’s produced some incredible artists: Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin, Joe Bonamasa, just loads of people. So I was kinda in the latter stages of mixing the last record when Kevin offered to do one or two songs. I had this idea of doing a remix of some of the tracks we were working on last year. So what you hear on this EP is alternate takes of some of the songs.
I think it’s quite interesting to compare them to the other versions on the album. And then there’s a brand new song on the EP as well. So that’s pretty cool!
A DVD isn’t something you see much in the underground scene these days, do you think bands are having to do more ‘out there’ merch to make more of a living?
Yeah I guess. I’ve always wanted to try and come up with new ideas in terms of the product that I put out there. When I put my album ‘Who Feeds the Wolf’ out I did it on a splattered red and black vinyl which seemed quite a unique thing at the time but everybody’s doing it now. I’m not insinuating that they’re doing it because I did it but…
I could have done this release as another multicoloured vinyl release. There are two reasons why I didn’t. One was because I wanted to try something different and I wanted to do something that was a two disc set, like the Rolling Stones ‘From the Vault’ boxset. Also I brought this Winery Dogs DVD a couple of years back that was pretty cool. Like a companion disc for the record. So that’s where the idea of it came for.
Another reason I didn’t want to do it on vinyl is because of the experience of the manufacturing of it over the last two years. It’s taking so long to do it. I was lucky with The Hammer Falls as I got a heads up about what was coming. I put my order in before the album was even fully recorded. I paid for the slot like 10 months prior. There was only like three songs that we still had to record but there was a risk in it. It could have gone completely, horribly wrong.
But for this release I wanted to get something out for the latter half of this year. Then the Kevin Shirley thing came about and I thought it was exciting and something just a bit different!
Is it touring for the foreseeable or are you writing again already?
I’m actually supposed to be going to Spain next month. It’ll be the first time I’ve really been over to Europe since the pandemic kicked off. So at the moment I’m just trying to work out all the visa stuff and all that. When I started playing guitar when I was like 14 I didn’t envision that it’d all just be admin at one stage in my career. It’s all I’ve really done this week.
So next month we’re headed out on tour. I’ve got a new band heading out with me later on in the year which is cool. This Brilliant bassist called Charlie Rachel Kay who’s joining. She’s the bassist for Ashley Sherlock. Then the drummer is Phil Wilson who’s played with tonnes of people: Elles Bailey, Sean Webster, Lawence Jones. It’s going to be exciting to take a new band out. I’ve had the same band now for almost four years. We work really well together and had some amazing experiences but they’re kinda moving on to do different projects.
Yeah, it’s exciting to be playing some new songs. And I have been writing a lot of material recently so we’ll have to see if any of it makes it into the setlist. I hope it will! It’ll be a real shift from the last tour where we were kinda doing stuff that we’d been playing for two or three years. Now’s the time to refresh it a bit!
Do you think it’ll have a bit of a different feel on stage with new members?
I don’t know, man. I’ve never been one to over-rehearse ahead of tours. I think you’ve got to allow things to organically develop. You’ve got to trust your players. The person who really needs to do their homework tends to be me, I’m a bit of a scatterbrain with all of this stuff. I move on from project to project quite quickly so I need to be reminded by my manager that I should be playing songs off the current album.
We’re looking at getting some rehearsals in at the end of this month, which is exciting in of itself. With bands you’ve got to foster a vibe with the people who are part of the band. Music is one element of it, but if people are miserable in the band they’re not going to play very well. I want every band I take out with me to enjoy it. This is rock’n’roll man, they should be going out and having a blast on tour, not moping and moaning about it.
The few support bands announced for it so far look sick. How would you say the environment of the NWOCR scene is?
Yeah, I mean I speak quite closely with Wes (my manager) on who to take out. I always see support slots, although I don’t really like using the word support, as an opportunity for the bands that come out with me to meet my audience and gain fans. But also I want bands to come out that are going to make it a pleasurable experience for me. I make sure I listen to the acts and I want a badass collection of bands on the tour. It means that before I go on stage I can go out and have fun and watch the bands myself.
We have a band that are doing a few of the dates, Firekind, they were the support act for my tour last year. They’re great, just really fun to have around. They make you laugh and that’s what you want. And obviously White Raven Down are a fucking incredible band too.
Shinedown have been around for over two decades now. That makes me feel old. With seven albums now out, they have definitely experienced some highs and lows. They used to be my favourite band in my late teens, but their last two albums have certainly made them drop off from th
After a brief, electro-synth intro track that had my expectations worried immediately… we head into a punk/almost thrash track. ‘No Sleep Tonight’ definitely caught me off guard, but in the best way possible. It reminds me of a Volbeat track, that’s the closest comparison I can make. It’s not at all reminiscent of the last Shinedown album which is the best thing I can say, honestly. The chorus is catchy, the riffs are a heavy mix of punk and Metallica and it’s even got a surprisingly technical solo from Zach Myers. This easily makes the playlist, the best track the band has put out since Oblivion.
The album’s lead single ‘Planet Zero’ still doesn’t quite do it for me. There’s another fantastic riff or two from Zach and Eric Bass, but the vocal melody doesn’t hook me in. Brent Smith was my favourite vocalist for a long time, his lines on tracks like ‘Unity’ and ‘Fake’ are perfect. So comparing those to this, there is a clear lack of catchiness. Still though, it’s not a bad song, and it at least had me excited upon its release that Shinedown were to lean back into their rock side than the pop end.
Another short electrical interlude leads to the first slower track on the album, ‘Dysfunctional You’. Outside of the dreadful opening line, I enjoyed this song. It was still lead by the odd piano tone the band have used the last three albums or so, but there was enough guitar in there too to give it a rockier edge. Also, the lyrics were great, building on some of the best of Attention Attention. It doesn’t quite kick into that top gear I was expecting/hoping for, it stayed at a similar level throughout, but damn if the lyrics didn’t win me over big.
A heavy riff kicks off ‘Dead Don’t Die’ and Brent soon comes over the top with some of his rarely used these days attitude and swagger, giving a fantastically bouncy melody over the sludgy riff. It also explodes into a HUGE chorus that reminds me a lot of ‘Cut the Chord’ and ‘Devil’. I’m actually shocked this didn’t make the cut as a single as it’s the best track on the album so far. Zach channels his inner Tom Morello for his guitar solos, another huge, awesome highlight of the song. Playlisted.
Interlude number three continues the strange, space themed concept of the album. I’m actually enjoying it. It’s tying the album together a lot better than most Shinedown albums are, and if they can keep this feeling throughout it’ll definitely be worth multiple back-to-back-listens. Plus, I’m curious to know where the story is going and what the meaning behind it is, so I’m not skipping a thing!
‘America Burning’ opens on some weird electronic-sounding banjo, if I’ve got that right. Between the effects on the instrument and on Brent’s voice, it’s definitely an odd intro. It EXPLODES into a huge pre and chorus, full of catchy vocals and backing jabs. I’m shocked, this album has been heavy so far and the album tracks have been the best part of it all. The solo is awesome, starting with an acoustic before the electric comes in over the top. The melody of it is infectious too; the noodling will be stuck in my head all night. Another fantastic song.
Another interlude leads to a second slower track ‘A Symptom of Being Human’. It’s so refreshing to hear a guitar led ballad by the band for a change instead of the constant leaning on electronic and backing sounds they have done since starting on Amaryllis. It makes them feel more like a rock band. And ALL of their biggest and best ballads have been guitar-based, in my opinion. It opens on just Zach’s acoustic and Brent’s vocals giving some more great deep-dive-into-depression lyrics. The piano comes in behind for the chorus but doesn’t overpower anything. Neither do the beautiful strings that come in after. The track builds perfectly throughout and is stunning, honestly. My favourite ballad since ‘I’ll Follow You’. Playlisted.
So we’re halfway through the album now and I just have to say… this is a really good album so ar. What the fuck, Shinedown? Where was all of this the last decade? They’re making a good case for jumping back up to being one of my favourite bands again.
Usually two slow tracks in a row would feel a bit meh on a rock album, but when it’s twenty tracks long I can let it go a bit. ‘Hope’ also feels like something ripped straight from Amaryllis in the best way. Heck, it sounds like the title track itself, which I love. It’s got that Bon Jovi/Nickelback (sorry for swearing) country-rock ballad feel to it and honestly it’s just a really good, uplifting song. 7/7 so far!
I’m sure you guessed it by now, but ‘Clueless and Dramatic’ is another very good track. A fun, bouncy riff opens it up and plays on and off throughout. The vocals aren’t quite as fun or catchy as some tracks on the album. I feel like it may be down to the lyrics trying to be slightly too complicated, taking away from the earworm-effect a little. Still, it’s a damn good rock song.
Arguably, in this writers humble opinion, the album should have finished.
”Sure is Fun’ is, well, it’s exactly that. Fun. However, it’s the closest thing to the Shinedown of the last two albums, and it’s really not my sort of thing. It’s the same with the following track and another single, ‘Daylight’. Both are good, very catchy tracks in their own right. But they are so very Imagine Dragons-esque pop ‘rock’ and just not the Shinedown I first fell in love with at all. It’s heavily indie inspired, between the simple instrumental, ridiculous, catchy vocal melodies and those wohs. As I said, neither track is bad and if you like it awesome, but this isn’t what I listen to Shinedown for.
At least we finally get some more heaviness for the final single, ‘Saints of Innuendo’. I LOVE this track until this chorus. The riff, verse and pre are all incredible (and heck, the chorus is great too). However, the chorus doesn’t fit the rest of the track at all. It sounds like two different songs pushed together. Still, it’s a damn good song and I feel like I’d love it live with that breakdown. It’s certainly better than the two tracks either side of it!
‘Army of the Unappreciated’ is okay and enjoyable. However, with Brent pulling an Ozzy Osborne and following the guitar melody with the vocals for the most part it screams album track. Then we reach the worst song on the album, the closer, ‘What you Wanted’. While yes, it does serve as a fitting end to the narrative after the interlude before, but I can hear this being on a mainstream pop radio station. It feels like a mixture between modern pop and a Broadway musical. It’s not a rock song at all, and a terrible way for a rock band to close a rock album. It’s well written don’t get me wrong, it’s catchy, the lyrics are good and it builds perfectly. However, this is the furthest Shinedown have gotten from sounding like their first album before, and it doesn’t do anything for me.
Overall: Definitely a tale of two parts. However, the first, better part was much longer than the bad parts, and there were even a couple of okay gems towards the end too. Tracks like ‘No Sleep Tonight’ and ‘A Symptom of Being Human’ will go down as some of the best songs Shinedown have ever written, while only two or three of the 13 official tracks aren’t really my sort of thing. I wouldn’t say they necessarily even dampened my enjoyment that much. They aren’t bad songs, just different. There is plenty of album to go around so if I don’t like them still after a few listens, I’ll happily just skip.
Two bands with surprisingly similar styles but vastly different execution styles. However, both put out their muchly anticipated new albums on the same day a couple of weeks ago. We wanted to review both so figured we’d both get involved and do it this way for a change! Charlotte and I are both massive Halestorm fans, while I’ve been a fan of the Ayatollah of Rocknrolla, Y2J, the Painmaker, the Demo God and all that other bollocks for all my life. Oh, and Rich Ward is insane too, big up the Duke in Stuck Mojo and Adrenaline Mob. So, Let’s get on with the reviews, shall we?
Halestorm: Back From The Dead
First, I think we should get Charlotte’s review out of the way…
Back From The Dead made me die and come back to life. Lzzy’s vocals are a powerhouse – the control on her screams become more and more impressive with every new album. The band have reached new heights and I am HERE for it. This album makes you weak at the knees, you might want to sit down for your first listen. Apart from the obvious ones (‘Back From The Dead’ and ‘The Steeple’ that were previously released as singles), you’re going to want to listen to ‘I Come First’ and ‘Wicked Ways’ if you’re in the mood for something heavy and ‘Raise Your Horns’ for that feel-good, community spirit.
The message of Back From The Dead really resonated with me. Everyone will have their own interpretation, but building the courage to fight your demons and get back to the fight is something that flows throughout the album. Expressing the band’s thoughts and inspiration behind community, freedom, your inner demons and humanity, Back From The Dead becomes Halestorm’s latest release with 11 insane tracks for you to add to your daily playlist.
Now, let’s dive into the tracks a little deeper and see what they are all about!
The titular track and lead single on the album is, quite frankly, a banger. From the powerful opening notes of the guitar and vocals through the heavy, mid-tempo verses and catchy as hell chorus, it has everything you’d come to expect from Lzzy and Co. Add to that some of the best soring notes that Lizzy has hit on a record in years and even a pretty awesome guitar solo! Anyone who hasn’t already checked this out, you should. Playlisted!
‘Wicked Ways’ opens on some more trademark Hale catchy shouting, opening on the fantastic chorus. The verses sound like constant build-ups too, which was really fun and interesting. The lyrics are questionable but they have at least grown more subtle than the usual obvious, constant sex talk. The track’s pretty high paced, heading into a breakdown of sorts not long after the one-minute mark. However it leads to more awesome breakdowning and a hell of a lot of chorus for an outro. It’s epic but a tad repetitive. Still, two for two on good songs!
‘Strange Girl’ is like ‘Do Not Disturb’ off their previous album, stripped back, more blues-oriented and darker. It unfortunately doesn’t have quite as strong a chorus as the aforementioned song. However, it does have more of the stronger, more mature lyric writing that is making me love this album a lot so far. Also, is it just me, or does the chorus remind you of Imagine Dragons’ ‘Radioactive’? Just me? Okay, moving on…
‘Brightside’ is another good hard rock track, the positive lyrics being the main highlight. Then we reach ‘The Steeple’. I wasn’t too into this track when it first came out, but it has grown on me a lot since then. The band have always done a great job with the whole ‘we’re all one big happy rock family’ thing in their lyrics, and this is no exception. Lzzy singing about how rock is everything to her is pretty empowering as a rock fan, I have to say. And the chorus has grown on me a lot more with each listen, too! Playlisted!
The ballad of the album, ‘Terrible Things’ is fantastic. It is truly beautiful, contrasting perfectly with the sombre, deep lyrical content. And the fact that it stays low throughout, never having the drop from the instruments that I imagine was oh so tempting. It stays as just a simple guitar, vocals and strings throughout, and only adds to the mood of the track. It’s one of the best, most profound ballads I’ve heard in a long while, and easily makes the playlist!
Tracks like ‘My Redemption’ and ‘Bombshell’ are good for album tracks. There’s a fun riff or vocal line here and there, but there isn’t much memorable about them. In fact, in my opinion the album peters off for the second half. It’s still good, but it’s very much a front loaded album. Even the other slow track, closer ‘Raise Your Horns’, does the horribly usual pet peeve of mine, closing the album on a whimper, not a bang. And as good as the lyrics are, it’s not as as good as ‘Terrible Things’.
Overall: A damn solid album from one of the best mainstream rock bands around today. They have matured a lot over the last four years and it has made for maybe the best album they have put out outside of The Strange Case Of…. I cannot await to hear a good half of this live, and I really hope this is the album that pushes them to the top of the rock world!
Joe’s Score: 8.5/10 Charlotte’s Score: 10/10
I was a Fozzy virgin before listening to Boombox but man they did not disappoint. Easy-listening rock, I love their overall sound – very Shinedown-like. I think they’d fit very well together on a joint tour or even a joint track. My only criticism is that I’d love to hear more of Chris Jericho’s vocals with a cleaner sound – not necessarily clean vocals, but less distortion and layers around it. However, that might just be a personal preference because I can absolutely understand how they fit in with the sound of the band. This feels like an album where I could go from head-banging to looking out the car pretending I’m in a movie.
Meanwhile, in my opinion, ‘Sane’ is the best single they have released in a decade. Don’t get me wrong, the video is one of the cringiest things I’ve seen in a while, but from the heavy opening riff to the catchy, radio-rock chorus, this is a solid track. My only slight issue with it is that there isn’t much between the 2nd and last choruses. It teases an extended solo but we just got a short one, followed by a stripped back build-up and an extended final chorus. It all felt a little rushed, but I guess at over 4-minutes it was already pushing it slightly for a radio single. A great track and on the playlist!
‘I Still Burn’ surprisingly drops the pace down pretty early on in the album. Opening straight into vocals and slowly building in more and more instruments, it’s a fun, good track. It should have just been later than second on the album. Still, the chorus is heavy in a Linkin Park/ new BMTH kinda way. The bridge is kinda cool and the track gives Rich Ward another brief chance to show off his amazing guitar talent. A good song!
Single ‘Purifier’ unfortunately just feels like another track on the album already. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, with a decent riff and catchy vocals. However, it does very little different to ‘Sane’ or previous tracks like ‘Drinking with Jesus’. Fozzy have a safe zone that they have unfortunately been hidden relatively firmly in since Do You Wanna Start A War? for very little reason. The reason I enjoyed Sin And Bones is because it didn’t sound like much else out there, especially when most tracks on the album sounded distinctly different. Now there’s just rock Fozzy songs, and slow Fozzy songs. ‘Purifier ‘ is the former, ‘Army of One’ is the other.
‘Ugly On The Inside’ has the lyrics ‘U-G-L-Y, You ain’t got no alibi, you’re ugly’. Need I say more than that? Oh, and there’s also a ‘Frankie Goes to Hollywood’ cover… this album suddenly got very cringe…
Their 2019 single ‘Nowhere to Run’ at least rocks things back up and brings things back to the now-typical Fozzy level. ‘My Great Wall’ stays at that level and makes me almost give up hope, before ‘What Hell is Like’ kicks in. The riff is great, sounding more like something from their first two albums, and the pre reminds me of ‘Blood Happens’., one of my favourite tracks by the band. The best song on the album by a country mile, I loved it.
Unfortunately, the rest of the album is the same uninspired sound as a lot of the rest. None of it is bad, but it’s bland and pretty samey when compared to the rest of the album, and compared to the one before it.
Overall: This was fine. None of it is bad per say, aside for ‘Relax’, it was just distinctly average. Gone are the days when Fozzy would be experimental and fun and hop-genres, instead settling into the sea of butt-rock already out there. At least it’s better than their last two albums.
An absolutely HUGE week for New Music Mondays. 12 massive albums from some of the biggest names in rock and metal all out on the same day. I don’t know what it was about May 6th, but I’ve been waiting for it for a while. Without further ado, let’s get to it!
Halestorm: Back From the Dead
Back from the dead indeed. After four years the band returned with their follow-up to 2018’s Vicious. The two singles from the album were both fantastic, setting the scene for the rest of it perfectly. However, you are going to have to wait just a little longer for my review and score, as there is no way I’m NOT doing this in depth! It should be on the site and socials within a couple of days, so keep an eye out!
Three Days Grace: EXPLOSIONS
One of the leaders of the affectionately dubbed ‘butt-rock’ sub-genre, Three Days Grace have been around over two decades at this point and show no sign of slowing down. I have to admit, I haven’t really actively listened to this band since One-X all the way back in 2006. So, it was nice to find myself rather pleasantly surprised by this album!
All the elements of butt-rock are here, the basic, heavy guitar riffs, the electronic melodies to help build the track and the edgy lyrical content. However, it is clear it is being written by a band that know exactly what they are doing, and do it exceptionally well. While the opener and lead single was a little too edgy for me, tracks like ‘I Am The Weapon’ and ‘No Tomorrow’ are just as good as anything else they’ve put out. Even the slower tracks like ‘Lifetime’ and ‘Redemption’ are fantastic, even if they are pretty depressing lyrically. Still, the emotion is definitely there, in every track. It’s made me want to check out the albums from them I’ve missed and I’ll definitely be listening to this a lot in the coming weeks! 7/10
Simple Plan: Harder Than it Looks
The Canadian pop-punkers have done a lot more than just ‘What’s New Scooby Do?’. The band have had some amazing, huge tracks over their now six album career. Their latest looks to continue that trend, being packed with huge, catchy, arena-filling choruses and vocal lines… and not a great deal else. Don’t get me wrong, the instrumentation is fine, but there isn’t really any of it that I would consider memorable. It’s a usual issue with pop punk, but it’s more prevalent in more anthemic bands like these or Good Charlotte. Still, tracks like the opener and ‘Million Pictures of You’ are good fun and highlights of a fairly standard, samey album. 6.5/10
Another album I have to do an in-depth review of I’m afraid, as I have been a Jericho fan for as long as I can remember. Still though, from what I’ve heard so far, it’s going to be pretty good, and certainly better than their last couple of albums!
Silverstein: Misery Made Me
The pop-punk/emo/post hardcore(?) band hit double digits on their discography last week. This sort of music was never really my thing as a kid, in fact I actively avoided most ’emo’ music aside the odd AFI song. So, because of that, I know the band by name only. However, I did enjoy this album. The band managed to put together some interesting different styles throughout. I didn’t think the opening track was that heavy at all and leant heavily into pop-punk so it had me wondering where the post hardcore was. Then the heavy second track came in and I understood a lot more.
Tracks like ‘Ultraviolet’, ‘It’s Over’ and ‘Slow Motion’ also perfectly blend these two styles. The tracks have some awesome catchiness blended with the heaviness too. I’m actually pissed at myself for not giving this band a chance sooner, I’ll definitely be checking them out more! It’s an effortless style of arena-heavy-rock that bands like Asking Alexandria and BVB have tried to varying degrees of success recently. Awesome stuff! 8.5/10
Trivium frontman and all-round metal legend Matt Heafy finally put out his solo album last week. This is said album. Oh, and it’s death/black metal, so I have been even more excited! Opening on a seven-and-a-half minute death epic for an essentially debut album is a ballsy move, but Heafy pulls it off masterfully. Insane riffs and a harsher scream than I have heard him use in a while, as well as still some of his powerful cleans, start the album off strong.
Then there’s the all out assault of ‘Ibaraki-Doji’ and the darkly beautiful black metal slow build of ‘Jigoku Dayu’, both of which are massive highlights. Oh, and Behemoth’s own Nergal also makes an appearance on the awesome ‘Akumu’, another highlight. There is also guest appearances from the legendary Ihsahn of Emperor and even My Chemical Romance Frontman Gerard Way. Oh, and yes, you guessed it, both tracks are also awesome. Especially the latter, which sees the usually clean vocalist scream his fucking lungs out. I honestly didn’t think he had it in him, that was awesome. Heafy does a good job of managing to make it sound not too much like Trivium, but still have that recognisable edge to it. While I wouldn’t put it quite up there with Court of the Dragon, it is still an insanely strong album. 9/10
Otoboke Beaver: Super Champon
I don’t understand how these girls have over 100k monthly listeners. Then again, the punk scene is and always has been weird. I’m going to be honest with you, I didn’t make it through the whole album. I couldn’t. The vocals were barely in tune and the lyrics were SO VERY REPETITIVE. For a guy who complains about the Killers’s magnum opus ‘Mr Brightside’ being ‘lazy’ for having the same verse twice, this band make them look like J.R. Tolkien. I don’t get it, it sounds awful. If you like it please let me know on our socials what I’m missing, because this was not good. 2/10
Depressed Mode: Decade of Silence
The doom metallers returned after… well… a decade of silence (13 years, to be exact). I’ve already reviewed this very good album, so you can check out what I had to say, alongside my score, here.
Terror: Pain Into Power
This is the first ‘beatdown hardcore’ band I believe we have (at least knowingly) covered here at Overtone. While I feel like I have heard the term somewhere before, it doesn’t sound like my sort of thing so I suspect this will be a review of my first time listening to a whole new sub-genre today, rare these days.
It’s alright. Better than I expected it to be, given the name of the subgenre. It wasn’t anything special but there were a few good riffs, like the one at the end of ‘Boundless Contempt’. And it didn’t overstay its welcome either, being just 18-minutes spread across ten songs. Even the lyrics weren’t terrible. It’s not the best thing I’ve ever listened to but I’ll happily listen to it again. 6/10
Puppy: Pure Evil
This was somehow a more doom version of Smashing Pumpkins. The intro track made me think the album was going to be pretty slow and heavy, but then ‘The Kiss’ flipped it all on its head. It’s an interesting blend of styles: doom/stoner, metal, grunge and even some desert rock. I enjoyed it a fair bit, with ‘Spellbound’ being my particular album highlight. 6/10
I Am The Night: While the Gods Are Sleeping
It’s black metal. That alone should tell you exactly what to expect. I’ve really tried, guys. I’ve been doing NMM for over seven months now and have since listened to a fair amount of black metal. It’s the only sub-genre that does absolutely nothing for me. The musicians in this band are clearly very good at what they do, and the vocalist has one hell of a scream on him, but the actual songs kinda bore me. This is what people think of when they use phrases like ‘all metal just sounds the same’ and ‘you can’t tell what they’re saying’ and you know what, they’re absolutely right. I am the Night are a solid band and probably a great black metal band, bit it isn’t for me. 3/10
Stand Atlantic: f.e.a.r.
I nearly didn’t cover this. Then I remembered I covered Avril Lavigne in one of these and realised I kind of had to. It is still guitar based, even if it is more pop than rock. It reminds me very much of the likes of Olivia Rodrigo or Gayle in its melody, just with slightly more guitars. It isn’t a bad thing and is certainly catchy. It’s simply very basic catchiness and the lyrics are not really my sort of thing. It’s clearly inspired by modern female pop and punk (like AS IT IS) alongside the likes of Avril and P!no. It simply doesn’t quite live up to those influences. Tracks like ‘Deathwish’ and ‘Don’t Talk’ are pretty decent though and definite highlights. 5.5/10
Guitarists are some of the most respected people in rock music. However, there are some that don’t get the credit they deserve. Whether it’s them being more on the unknown side or being associated with bands not universally liked, it has meant that some guitarists don’t always get the praise they should do. So, we thought we’d do a lost of ten of the most underrated guitarists of the rock world. Check it out down below and let us know if you agree!
10: Wes Boreland
Starting out with a slightly more obvious one. I have seen praise for the guy, just nowhere near as much as there should be. Yes, the riffs he writes for Limp Bizkit aren’t the most technical of things. But damn if they aren’t all great. Just have a look at the video below and tell me that this isn’t damn impressive and entertaining. And that isn’t even mentioning his solo stuff, which is just as weird but just as damn impressive. The whole band get far too much hate considering how talented each individual member is.
9: Kirk Hammett
I thought I’d get the most hated on guitarist out of the way early. Whether it’s him using too much wah, having to live up to Dave Mustaine or just generally being a part of the worlds most-cool-to-hate metal band, poor Kirk drew the short straw for sure. But the man is far too heavily criticised. He has written some of the best solos in metal history. From the likes of ‘The Unforgiven’, ‘Fade to Black’, ‘One’ and even more recently with stuff like ‘Judas Kiss’, all have been great. Yes, he likes to use the wah peddle a lot, but it does give him his own distinctive sound and honestly it works perfectly. While not being one of the core songwriters of the band, his contributions to the biggest band in metal are still legendary, and he deserves a lot more credit for them.
8: Myles Kennedy
Do I need to say any more than that solo in ‘Blackbird’? The rhythm guitarist of Alter Bridge often gets overshadowed by arguably one of the best guitarists of the current era in Mark Tremonti, but to sleep on Myles is a big mistake. His blues playing is off the charts and makes for a really interesting writing style when it comes to their hard rock/metal music. And he’s show plenty of versatility too, playing with Slash live at most of their shows as well as releasing two completely different solo albums. The man is insanely talented and not talked about enough when talking about great guitarists.
7: Mick Mars
While Motley Crue are another band that are rather unjustly hated on, it can be said that they are not nearly as talented as Metallica. However, Mars is definitely the most talented member of the glam band. I mean heck, just listen to the intro of ‘Live Wire’ and tell me he isn’t fantastic. While he isn’t hated on anywhere near as much as some of the others on this list, he simply isn’t talked about at all, which is a real shame.
6: Michael Paget
A more modern guitarist now, and one from a rather intriguing band. Exploding onto the scene in the early 2000s with some blistering riffs and solos, Bullet for my Valentine were touted as the next big thing. However, after a couple of dud albums (and a couple of great ones) they have cooled off dramatically. However, what has never changed is Page’s incredible playing. Whether it’s the punchy riffs and breakdowns of ‘Scream Aim Fire’ or ‘Knives’ or his amazing soloing on ‘Alone’, ‘Army of Noise’ or their iconic ‘Tears Don’t Fall’, the guy is a massively underappreciated technical player. If only the band hadn’t taken a hit in popularity, he may have had the respect he so sorely deserves.
5: Phil Demmel
Joining Machine Head after the questionable Nu-Metal days of the band was always going to be a hard thing, but to say Demmel made the most of it is a massive understatement. While 2003s Through the Ashes of Empires was already written by the time Demmel joined the band, he sure put on one hell of a performance in the studio. And from there he went to feature on a run of albums that is hard to rival in terms of quality. The praise heaped on The Blackening speaks for itself while Unto the Locust is a worthy follow-up from a songwriting perspective. Meanwhile, Bloodstone and Diamonds remains my favourite album the band have put out, a versatile, underrated gem (pun intended). And I haven’t even mentioned his early work with Vio-lence yet! A true underrated guitar god. The whole track below is a guitarist’s wet dream.
4: The Trivium Guys
Okay so a slight wildcard entry here as it’s a twofer, but it’s hard to say just the one of the Floridian metal titans. Matt Heafy and Corey Beaulieu complement each-others playing styles perfectly at this point, and Triviums albums prove that. Just go and listen to any of their last three albums, or any of their albums at all in fact, and tell me that they are not both incredible players. We all know The Crusade set them back in popularity in a lot of the fans eyes (I don’t know why, it’s a great album) so much like Bullet they are simply not as popular as they should be. But their guitar work on In The Court of the Dragon alone is some of the best I have heard, and the fact that no one is talking about it is why they make it onto this list.
3: Dan Sugarman
The most relative newcomer on this list. He makes it so high up due to the fact that a lot of people I talk to don’t know of him. I have raved that much about Ice Nine Kills recently that I shall spare you another lecture, but their newest guitarist is VERY good. Just check out this video of him shredding to Assault and Batteries. The guy isn’t currently playing live with them but I can already tell he’ll knock it out of the park, if his studio stuff is anything to go by. Everyone go out and listen to Horrorwood now, you won’t be disappointed.
2: Mick Thomson
Not even being the most appreciated guitarist in your own band must be hard. While Jim Root is a phenomenal guitarist and songwriter who definitely deserves all the praise he gets, his bandmate often gets overlooked. However, just listen to his solo on ‘Psychosocial’ or that BEAST of a riff to open ‘Surfacing’ and you will understand just how good he is. For a guy who seems to be the least appreciated out of EIGHT other band members, he is far too good to not get any credit. The video below of him recording some of the stuff for their 2008 album speaks for itself.
1: Jake Pitts
Yes, I know, but before you go hear me out. Yes, Black Veil Brides get a LOT of hate online, and for some parts rightfully so. The band are forever-pandering radio rock, trying to appeal still to this day to the disenfranchised teenagers of the world, the ones who hate mummy and daddy especially much. However, beneath all the edgy lyrics and makeup is a damn good guitarist, and one who is almost wasted in BVB. Jake and Jinx are both fantastic rhythm players, but Jake’s soloing in the likes of the video below is fantastic. It really goes to show why the band get as much hate as they do. It certainly isn’t because they write bad music. It’s a real shame because it makes the rest of the band underrated, hence why Jake is at the top of our list!
And there we have it, our list of the top ten most underrated guitarists in rock. Did we miss any? I imagine we missed a bunch and can’t wait to be told about it! You can do so on our Facebook here or our Instagramhere. And do let us know if you enjoyed this list and want to see more. I enjoyed the hell out of writing and researching this and if you want more I’ll gladly make it a regular feature! Heck, I’ll even do video ones, if you really want…
The amazing, talented and very busy Marco Mendoza took the time to sit down with us for a quick interview this week. We talked about his upcoming UK solo tour, getting his band together and a few other projects he’s working on too. Watch/read below!
What made you want to bring back your solo stuff?
I always say there’s no regrets. I’m very happy with my career, with all the other projects I’ve been privileged to be a part of. But if I could change anything it would be to pay attention to my solo thing a little more. I love it and I dig it and the response has been absolutely over the top!
I’ve been a busy guy so eventually no matter how busy you get there’s down time. And I’m one of those guys not to wait around too long, I love what I do. So I’m always looking to put things together if there’s nothing cooking. I always had an outlet to stretch out as a bassist and as a singer, improvisational stuff and even what’s considered jazz funk, just to keep learning and challenge yourself.
That first album I did, ‘Live for Tomorrow’ came out the time I was working with Whitesnake. I’d get off the tour and go with Thin Lizzy and Ted Nugent for quite a while. And there was some time off and Frontier approached me and the chance came up so we got into the studio. To my surprise the response was good! We didn’t support it though, that was a big mistake on my behalf. But I was busy touring with all the other stuff. I did some dates to support the album, but that was like two years after.
Then the next album the same thing happened, I was juggling a bunch of projects and I had an opening so we got it together and released it and again I didn’t support it. It came out and then it disappeared.
This last album I was really busy with the Dead Daisies and thee was an opening. I went to Copenhagen and started writing with my buddy and before you know it we had the album, ‘Viva La Rock’. For some reason when it got released the writeups were really good and really encouraging and so I decided, back in ’19, I had some time. So of course when you do that the response couldn’t be better because you’re representing the album live. I got on the radar so I got invited to do a lot of stuff in Europe for ’20, and then we know what happened. So managed to do a bit in November last year but we’re pretty much picking up the pieces.
And also what else got postponed was the release of my next album which is finally going to get released this year. We’re aiming for August/September, but the first single is coming out April 13th, so I’m excited! There seemed to be a buzz out there when I announced the dates in the UK.
So, how did the line-up for the tour come about?
I got really lucky that I hooked up with Tommy Gentry who’s gig is GUN, through Kyle Hughes. So it’s just one of those things, word of mouth and then we get introduced and then they send me videos so I can check out what they’re doing. Kyle did some stuff with Bumblefoot (GNR) and I love his playing and I love his heart and who he is as a person. He’s a young lad but he plays with fire. He’s hungry, sings great and he really pays attention to what my vision is on stage. As a bass player drummers are very important to me.
And then Tommy just kills it as a guitar player and as a human being. We all get along really well. Unfortunately they’re talented folks so they get pulled away to other commitments so I’m happy and lucky to have them on the UK dates.
I’m juggling stuff right now so people can come in and out because the reality is my solo project, as much as I hate to admit it, is still in its infancy. I’m still trying to build something. I think after this year, after the album comes out and everything lines up and we do well on the live shows it’s going to go to the next level.
How do you approach a tour with your solo project in contrast to touring with the bigger bands you work with?
It feels very different! It’s a lot of responsibility. Fronting the band and being the singer and also standing behind your own music, but like I said I do it because I love it. After so many years I love the whole dynamics of writing a song and putting it out there and people digging it and people wherever you are on the planet love it and they learn the lyrics and they sing the song, there’s nothing like that.
The other thing is that I have a little more control over what happens on stage and how we deliver the shows and the message… I always insist on carrying some sort of positive message, something that’s uplifting and proactive. Something that’s very optimistic with what’s going on right now on the planet. It’s very important that you’re there for your audience and be able to escape for a few hours and get away from the everyday living. Sometimes it gets heavy.
That’s the other thing that’s very rewarding to me, I always insist on doing meet and greets and when people come round and say ‘Marco, thanks for coming here, I’ve been struggling and you put a smile on my face, I’m going to go out there and make a difference’, it’s like, WOW. Beyond all the business and all the stuff that comes along with being a musician that’s the rewarding stuff that really stays with you and it fuels you to keep going. It’s very cool.
Also the other side, when you’re part of a collaborative situation there’s always a boss and a big team so everything’s handled. I just show up, they hand me the bass and I play. While here you’re pretty much at ground level and doing anything and everything you can to put it together. A little responsibility but I’m up for it! When you love something so much you can’t stop!
So obviously you’re mainly here to talk about your solo project, but is there anything you can tell me about another venture of yours, Iconic?
That seems to be getting a lot of buzz! That project got together originally… Joel Hoekstra and Nathan James and Michael Sweet all work for Frontier so we all had that in common. I got a call from them during the pandemic, I think, at the end of ’20, when we finally realised that the world wasnt going to open for a while. They were putting projects together because they realised there was a lot of musicians just hanging out.
So they approached me and said they’re doing this thing with these guys and would you consider being the bass player, and I said absolutely. These are all cats that are at the top of their games, great players. I knew Joel and Nathan and I’d met Michael here and there. So they called me and said the guys would love to have you but we don’t have a drummer, who would you like to call? I thought of a few cats but everyone seemed to be tied up doing other things except Tommy, who was busy but seemed very interested.
So it’s a cool bunch of cats, big profiles, big resumes, the credits are amazing. And the music is very good. We got together here in LA not too long ago to shoot some videos to release. I gotta say that the energy in the room and how we all got along is that at the end of the day it’s all about the music. And the songs are amazing.
There’s nothing more I can say other than stay tuned. Hopefully if things line up we can get a tour scheduled. It’s a great band, it’s going to go out there and kill!
What would you make of the state of the music industry right now?
I’ve seen it suffer so much. It’s such a long conversation but let’s just say that the music industry, general speaking, we took the biggest hit during the pandemic. This is how we live, it’s our livelihood. And in the bigger picture you have a lot of staff and people behind the scenes that really got hit hard. The strongest survive and come out the other side with a little bit of struggle, and it’s good to see that it’s starting to pick up. There’s a lot of hope in the air.
It’s getting better but I don’t know what’s going to happen the next couple of years. The recording side of it has come down, it got so beat up when the technology kicked in. But I’m not going to stop, as long as I have the energy to do it I will. And there’s a lot of us around that love what we do. And the fans which is another big factor, supporting the local venues and bands, it all triggers that knock on effect. We’ll see what the next couple of months bring and the end of the year and hopefully 2023 will go back to ‘as normal as we can be’. We’re getting back to working again, which is all I can say. I always say always prepare for the worse and pray for the best!
Yes, you read the title correctly. Three huge bands in one tour! The dates postponed from 2020 are back on, hopefully more firmly pencilled in for next year. It looks to be a fantastic night!
Three of the biggest and best glam rock bands to have formed around the end of the 70’s, they all enjoyed great success and released some of the most recognisable music of the decade afterwards. From ‘Here I go Again’ to ‘I Want to Know What Love Is’ to everyone’s favourite ‘The Final Countdown’, the whole night will be rocked (yes, pun intended) and will be full of singalong anthems and ballads, as well as some truly underrated musicianship.
Beginning in Dublin, Ireland towards the beginning of May 2022, the bands will play eight of the biggest cities and arenas across the UK, culminating in Cardiff towards the end of the month. Check out the full tour from the picture below and see which venue is closest to you to get tickets for!
Hopefully the new tour means some new music from any of the bands, given that even at their advanced age they still have enough creativity and juice left in the tank for another awesome album – as a lot of older bands are proving these days!
Tickets go on sale tomorrow, so get them while they’re hot!
Keep up to date on more news and announcements by following our Instagram here,
A term coined back in 2017 for the resurgence of a classic sound brought about by the likes of Inglorious and The Dead Daisies, the New Wave of Classic Rock has gone from strength to strength since and has found itself at the forefront of the underground scene over the past couple of years. That has in large part been down to the fantastic efforts of a lot of people behind the scenes, helping promote the bands and form a real community around the sub-genre. It has led to this, a 42-track collection of some of the best the genre has to offer. I for one am familiar with a good few of the bands contained on it and I’m a big fan so I’m excited to get the chance to review them.
To put it simply, it’s 42 smaller bands getting some much-needed exposure, and I could not be happier to listen to it and help by both buying and reviewing it. This may be a long one – who’s ready?
Massive Wagons start us off with their 2015 hit, ‘Tokyo’. It’s a fantastic track that perfectly encapsulates the genre. It’s a middle-paced stomper full of 70’s inspired riffs, soaring, powerful vocals, and a massive (pun intended), catchy chorus. It wouldn’t feel out of place on a Rainbow or even AC/DC chorus with that sort of vibe – a real stadium-filler of a song and a big reason as to why the band is one of the biggest up-and-coming British artists around.
Next up is Mason Hill. I’ve listened to their debut album before and I have to admit that while I didn’t enjoy every single song, ‘DNA’ was one of the standout tracks on it. The main riff alone is a massive positive, quick, driving, heavy guitar pairing fantastically with the slower drums. The backing vocals and harmonies are also on point throughout, be it in the pre-chorus or chorus which both feature different layers and styles in each part. Another great track from such a young band.
Hollowstar‘s biggest track ‘All I Gotta Say’ starts off slower than the other two, having a beautiful clean chord progression for the first verse before another amazing, heavy guitar riff cuts through it and launches the song into a faster pace. The verses stay slower but the real highlight is the heavier choruses, blasting out with huge power chords and catchy vocals from Joe Bonson. Three for three with amazing tracks so far.
These Wicked Rivers give us a bit more of a scrappier track more reminiscent of Rival Sons and older bands like Rolling Stones than the more polished and produced tracks we’ve had so far. That doesn’t take away from the quality at all though. The riff is again awesome; it is lighter and higher than the others and the chorus is maybe one of the catchiest of the album.
We finally reach a band I haven’t heard of – Anchor Lanewith their track ‘Fame Shame’. The band definitely fits into the NWOCR sub-genre but I hear just a little Soundgarden in here too – there’s some of that faster, heavy grunge vibe to it. I have to admit, I’m a fan. The breakdown was pretty great too and the chorus was just as catchy as some of the others on the album. The band has found a new fan in me!
Empyre gives us another middle-paced track, filled with palm-muted guitars and low drums that contrast nicely with the powerful, awesome vocals. The chorus is a great riff but, outside of that, it doesn’t take off any, staying at the steady, low pace. The guitar solo in the middle is fantastic though and the vocals almost remind me of Peter Steele’s at times. A good track and the slowest so far.
Daxx And Roxane are a band I have been recommended a couple of times before but just haven’t had the chance to check out. I’m so glad that this changed today as ‘Without You’ is an awesome track. Channelling some real Poison vibes with this track but modernising it for the current scene is awesome. The riff is infectious, making me bob my head throughout, and the vocals are powerful: soaring and catchy. They have a new fan in me and I can’t wait to hopefully catch them on the festival circuit next year!
Sons of Libertyare one of the surprising number of bands on this album that I first heard at HRH a couple of years ago and have been a fan of them ever since. ‘Fire and Gasoline’ is a great AC/DC style chugging rock song, incorporating both the catchy soaring vocals and the lower, almost power-metal-esque style through the verses. Its catchy, infectious chorus hook is enough to push it into our playlist alone but the rest of the song is awesome too.
Tequila Mockingbyrd and Cult Classics alumni united to formThe Hot Damn! at the back end of last year and launched their debut single at the start of the month ready for this release. I was a big fan of the two separate bands that the frontwomen were part of and I have purposely been holding out on listening to the track so that I could review it properly with this album. ‘Dance Around’ is a great track that feels punkier than the rest of the songs so far. It feels like it was inspired by early Wildhearts in the best way – catchy, light and bouncy throughout. Gill Montgomery’s vocals fit perfectly over the instrumentation and the harmonies throughout the chorus work so well. Another fantastic new band!
Everyday Heroes give us another bluesy stomper of a track. It’s mid-paced and good but I’m sad to say it fades into the background a tad after so many phenomenal tracks before it. The harmonies were nice though, as was the solo. I kind of felt the same about the next track, Elles Bailey‘s ‘Woman Like Me’. It was definitely different from the previous tracks on the album but it didn’t fit as much into the sub-genre as the others. It felt closest to The Doors to me, a band that I wouldn’t necessarily class as classic rock. It was a good song and a well-needed change of pace in a solely hard rock album, but there wasn’t too much to it. It was a nice chilled-out song though and the solo in the middle was great!
Scarlet Rebelspick the pace back up with a great riff and some awesome pinch harmonics to open ‘No One Else to Blame’. I actually can’t get enough of the riff; it is the highlight of the song for me, though the chorus is pretty decent too! Meanwhile, Wolf Jaw offer up their own brand of slower blues-rock to the mix. Lead by the funky bassline and simple drumbeat, Tom Leighton’s vocals fitting perfectly over the top of them. It picks up perfectly into the chorus too, the guitars adding some great layers into it and pushing the vocals up higher. Another fantastic track!
Tomorrow Is Lost’s production is second to none on this album; the quality when the instruments explode over the top of the bassline sounds MASSIVE. It only adds to the epicness of the track as it builds perfectly from the verse through to the amazing chorus. I haven’t heard the song before as I hadn’t even heard of the band but damn, it’s one of my favourite tracks on the album. Even the awesome distorted vocals that kind of acted like the solo was awesome and such a unique take on the conventional rock style that I couldn’t not love it. An awesome track and I shall definitely be listening to more from the band!
Riff machines Dead Man’s Whiskey bring the power and attitude with ‘War Machine’. The vocals are good but the instrumentation for me is the real highlight of the track. The riff is just so infectious that even the awesome call and response backing vocals through the chorus could beat it. Meanwhile, Dig Lazarus channels similar vibes to The Hot Damn! with a great punk rock track. It’s driving from start to finish and simple yet pretty effective. However, I do feel like it would get a tad lost in the shuffle among the other incredible tracks on the collection.
Next is a band that I need no introduction to as they have been one of my favourite bands of the last few years, The New Roses. Because of this, I shall spare my relentless gushing over the band that I have done to my friends and over social media and instead I urge everyone reading this to CHECK THEM OUT. The track on this album, ‘Whiskey Nightmare’, is a great starting point. So, what are you waiting for? Go check out your new favourite band already!
Shape of Water (not the fish porn movie) is another song that feels like it revolves around an awesome riff. The vocals work well over the top, giving off a massive sludgy/bluesy vibe to the whole thing – almost like a stoner rock song like Kyuss or Masters of Reality. It was another welcome change of pace on an album that has a lot of similar music, making me like this song a lot as a result!
Häxan sounds good but their track feels as much lost in the shuffle as a couple of the others, there isn’t much special about it that hasn’t already been done. The same can be said about the final two tracks of the first disc from Rival Black and Gin Annie. Both are good songs in their own right but offer little in the way of variety.
It isn’t until disc two begins with the always fantasticPhil Cambell and the Bastard Sons that the album truly gets back to form. The man from Motorhead has been firing on all cylinders during his current solo project and releasing arguably some of the best music of his career, and ‘Son of a Gun’ is no exception. A great hard rock song and another highlight of the collection.
The Dust Coda’s ‘When The Tide Comes in’ has a catchy as anything opening vocal hook, especially when the rest of the band come im. It’s the highlight of the song, the rest not quite as fun. Unfortunately Skam, another band I am usually a fan of, fade a little into the background with the sheer quality on display throughout these two discs.
Collateral offers a fresh change of pace, this time going for a Bon Jovi ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ style with ‘Merry Go Round’. It’s an enjoyable, acoustic lead song, filled with catchy vocal hooks, huge choruses and awesome backing vocals. It’s the ballad this album needed and is definitely a good one. Another band I haven’t heard enough of!
Bad Touch provides the most controversial track on the album for me. I used to gig with them a lot back in the day and, as good as this song is, I have to admit I prefer their older stuff. I don’t know what the difference between ‘I Get High’ and something like ‘Wise Water’ is and maybe it’s simply nostalgia.
Massive was one of the few to record a new song ready for this release. We covered their latest single ‘Rise’ when it first came out so check that out!
The next few tracks from bands like Gorilla Riotand Thundermother all felt a little samey at this point, something that is unfortunately going to happen with so many songs from the same sub-genre. The next one that kind of caught my ear was Rewswith ‘Today We’re Warriors’, and that’s mainly because it sounds pretty similar to something Dorothy would release. It’s more pop-rock leaning and another nice and appreciated change of pace on this LONG album.
Twistergives us a good track that somehow blends glam and punk seamlessly, and Bootyard Banditsbring their own fantastic brand of comedy and country-rock to the proceedings. Doomsday Outlawgives off some great country/blues vibes too and Ashen Reach shows off their impressive AOR sound and style, almost metal in its execution.
Ryders Creedgot me excited for a second as their guitar tone was pretty reminiscent of early Nickelback (to a point where the riff seems almost a straight rip of ‘Hangnail’) but when the vocals kicked in it became a lot lighter and radio-bait-y. It’s not bad but I had never really understood the hype around this band to begin with, so it would have taken a lot to convince me.
The final track saved the same-ness of the second disk for me with Blackwater Conspiracy’s ‘Soul Revolutionaries’. It gave off almost Rod Stewart vibes at times, being a lighter, poppier rock song but it was done so well and enjoyably that it became one of my favourite tracks of the album. The driving guitars, subtle piano, and soaring vocals were all massive highlights and drew me back to a band I haven’t listened to enough of recently. An awesome way to close an album!
Overall: I have to admit right out of the gate that 42 tracks/bands took a lot to listen to in one session. However, the sheer ambition of this album has to be applauded and being able to showcase so many smaller, incredible bands on a release such as this is amazing. There were a lot of awesome tracks on the album from bands that deserve to be a lot bigger than they are and hopefully this will give them a platform to really launch off of!