Tag Archives: metal music

Empire: Do Agora Provide One of the Top Prog Albums of Recent Times?

It feels like it’s been a while since we did an in-depth review of a power metal album, doesn’t it? Granted, the Angus McSix review was only like 6 weeks ago, but it feels like longer. God, for a genre that I only had a passing interest in before Overtone, I have definitely been converted, and quickly! Plus, the last year or so has been phenomenal in terms of releases in the sub-genre.

Mexican metallers Agora very much scratch this itch. Don’t get me wrong, they are mainly prog, but there is definitely some heavy power metal influence in there too. Even without hearing a note played, the album artwork sucked me in and immediately told me what I was to expect from the release. Themes of virtual reality, zombies and extinction are all touched on throughout, and the artwork and sound ties it all together perfectly. I hadn’t even heard of these guys before now, but they are clearly doing something right with their hundreds of thousands of streams and even writing alongside legendary keyboardist Derek Sherinian. Without further delay, let’s dive into the album!

The opener and title track immediately sets the tone with a heavy and fast riff. The drums, bass and even choir and strings build in, adding an already massive feel to the sound. The powerful vocals soon come in over the top, fitting in perfectly. The chanted backing vocals for the pre are great and I’m sure would go down a storm live. The backing vocals continue to add so much to the sound through the chorus as well, providing a fantastic higher harmony for the main vocal melody. It’s all infectiously catchy and sounds huge.

The guitaring leading out of the second chorus was awesome, and then we get an almost breakdown, heavy and slower. And of course, where would prog be without a blistering guitar solo. Holy crap, both parts of the duelling solos are incredible. Props to both of them, I’m not at all jealous… The track follows the standard radio format, which works given it’s single nature, and is a super solid way to start off an album! Playlisted!

‘I’m Just Venom’ opens on an awesome quick bass and drum line, their prog side definitely shining through. The riff explodes in with the guitars, sounding INCREDIBLE. The James LaBrie-like vocals sound fantastic between the huge chords and riffs. It’s another massively catchy chorus too, with everyone playing their part perfectly vocally. The whole track has a slightly more sleaze edge to it which I’m really digging. The soloing throughout is incredible too, one following every chorus. The great breakdown and almost Nuno Bettencourt level of guitaring to transition between parts and solo was amazing. It does very much feel like the guitarists were inspired by Nuno and Petrucci. A final huge chorus finishes off another amazing track. They are so far two for two on playlisted tracks!

Another single, ‘In the Name of Destruction’, is up next. Another great riff, made fatter by some great subtle strings, opens it perfectly. There’s some almost Iron Maiden-like melodies in here that I liked a lot, but obviously beefed up by the heavier guitars and drums. It reminds me a bit of another band I’ve loved for years and wish they’d come back, Painside. We get a great showcase of the bass in the bridge and breakdown and damn, that tone is tasty. We also get a sick brief keys solo in this track, which I have a feeling may have been Derek. It’s another pretty standard track format for a prog band, but a damn enjoyable track all the same!

After a brief interlude/buildup track, ‘Collosus’ explodes in. It, alongside ‘honor in Dying’ and ‘When Honor Ends’ are three more tracks similar to what have come before. All three are good tracks with some nice thrashy riffs spread between them. However, they are all pretty balls-to-the-wall and it’s nothing we haven’t already heard earlier in the album. It would have been nice to hear some dynamics like…

‘Immortal Dream’ is the first time the band slows down at all on the album. It’s nice to hear, and it’s a shame we’re seven tracks in before it happens. I’d have much preferred this around the mid-way mark, though I understand loading the more epic, concepty tracks towards the end. The drums provide a surprisingly excellent backdrop to some beautiful clean guitar and piano. The vocals are the perfect level of power too, it all having an open, almost ethereal sound to it. It all builds into a somehow even massiver, incredibly catchy chorus. And of course there’s another phenomenal solo. It gives off slight Genesis vibes, in the best ways. It’s an incredible metal ballad that does everything to perfection. Playlisted!

Single ‘Infinity’ also opens slowly, but builds masterfully for over a minute before a slower, heavy, sludgy riff comes in over the top. We get another great showcase of the amazing bass tone in the second verse as it drops back to it and the drums and vocals for a bit. Everything about the track was awesome, with the vocals fitting so well over the top the huge guitars, drums and synth. The vocal harmonies again add a catchiness to the chorus, too. And another blistering guitar solo that is another highlight of the track. Another excellent track!

Then we finally reach the last and longest track on the album, ‘Virtual Reality’. It builds for a while through synth, ambient sounds and a beautiful operatic voice, before the typical huge riff comes in. The strings throughout were a great touch too and added an awesome melody to it. We got some more amazing soloing and a nice, albeit brief, almost A7X bridge with a scream in it, which was sick. A little sadly, however, the majority of the 8+ minutes is just more of what we’ve already had. The intro was a cool build and the soloing was excellent, but it still had a similar structure as the rest and everything just felt a little too overly drawn out at times. A good, epic way to finish the album, but not quite what I was expecting or hoping for.

Overall: Wow. This was amazing. I had to hold off from putting over half of it on the playlist, it was that good. I’m now kicking myself for not hearing of them sooner. I loved every track on the album and will definitely be going back through their discography after this. They should be massive, and they definitely have a new fan in me. The final track didn’t quite nail it for me, and there were a couple of more ‘filler’ tracks, but still, I’mma give this…

The Score: 9/10

New Music Mondays: Foo Fighters, Avenged Sevenfold and Much More!

An absolutely MASSIVE week for New Music Mondays this week. From huge, stadium-filling bands to amazing offerings from upcoming artists, there’s a little bit for everyone. Check it out with us!

Foo Fighters: But Here We Are

Possibly the second or third most important Foos record, behind their first two. Following the devastating and far too early passing of drummer Taylor Hawkins, it threw the band into a state of flux mid-tour. Questions circled for months around the state of the band and if they’d continue. So, when they announced not only will they be continuing, but announced a new album and dropped a single in April, the world rejoiced. And, what’s more, that single, ‘Rescued’ was/is so good. Like, maybe the best track they’ve put out in over a decade, good.

Lyrically, it’s fantastic and devastating. Just like their self titled debut, Dave Grohl uses his writing to try and cope with losing one of his best friends. The fact that he’s made a collection of radio-rock tracks that are catchy, anthemic and genuinely brought a tear to my eye on multiple occasions while sat at work doing this review is a real testament to his talent.

Meanwhile sonically, it’s so nice to hear the band go back to their rockier sound. While I don’t mind some of their lighter stuff like Sonic Highways or half of In Your Honour, I wasn’t really too fussed with their last release (not Dream Widow, that album slapped and was br00tal). Landing somewhere around One by One but also combining together elements of practically every album that proceeds it, this feels like an epic conclusion. God I hope it’s not.

Honestly, it’s impossible to pick highlight tracks. I think I’ve liked every single one on my Spotify as I listened through. 10 tracks and 50-minutes of pure awesomeness. Foo Fighters have not only returned, but come out with their best album since Wasting Light, and one of the best albums of 2023. 10/10. Taylor would be proud.

Avenged Sevenfold: Life is But a Dream…

I’ve been dreading about writing up this album for weeks. They were one of my favourite bands in my teen years. However, the singles did nothing for me upon their first release, and I wasn’t anywhere near as impressed with The Stage as some others were. Still, I am trying to come into this was as open a mind as possible.

I initially planned on doing a full-length review for this, but honestly it’d go on for hours. This is all over the place. It’s most certainly the most prog the band have ever gotten. The band wear their influences on their sleeve more than ever before too, be it Pink Floyd, Rush, Alice in Chains or modern day pop and hip-hop. I would say it comes with varying degrees of success, but honestly they do every sound pretty damn well.

But that’s my main personal issue with the album, it simply isn’t the Avenged Sevenfold I want to hear. But, that’s okay. I had my time from WTK to HTTK. They’ve done the more commercial music that’s gotten them to headline status, and now they’re writing whatever they want, whatever comes to their head. And as I said, this is all written well. It’s messy, it’s chaotic and it’s weird, but it somehow works so well together. Heck, sitting down and listening to the album front-to-back, it works very well as a collection and made me enjoy the singles a lot more.

And I think that’s the only way to really listen to this album, sat somewhere dark for an hour with a good speaker system or headphones. It doesn’t have a standout track or two like Nightmare or City of Evil does, but it’s a collection of tracks meant to be listened to together. It’s just a shame that none of them feel like they really kick into that top gear and match up to even some of their lesser old singles. As much as I appreciate what they’re doing, I really wish we’d get a Nightmare II already. So, for an album, I’m going to give it 9/10. However personally, it’a more like a 4/10

P.S. this video is fucking SICK!

Rancid: Tomorrow Never Comes

The kings of ska-punk themselves are back with their 10th studio album. The first thing I noticed was how short the album was. 16 tracks but only 29-minutes long, with not a single track going over three minutes. That’s punk as shit. The band also have no chill with the album, blasting through every short track with little slowing down or breathing room. It’s all typical, great Rancid and I love every second of it. It’s fun, bouncy and uplifting, despite some of the lyrical content.

However, the length is also my only slight issue. While I love that every track is short, sweet and to the point, I also feel like a few of them could have done with a little more room to breathe. Heck, one of the singles, ‘Don’t Make Me Do It’, is just 58 seconds in length. It’s great, but I’d have loved more of it. Still, I’d prefer this over an hour long slow-ass country album! Tracks like the title one, ‘It’s a Road to Righteousness’ and ‘Magnificent Rogue’ are all big time highlights. 8.5/10.

Kenny Rodgers: Life is Like a Song

The posthumous album from the country legend is the first studio album released in a decade. At 10 tracks long, it features eight previously unreleased songs recorded between 2008 and 2011, but were never released. The other two, along with the rest of the tracks, were carefully selected by his widow as they were deeply personal tracks to Kenny. These include ‘Tell Me That You Love Me’, duetted with the queen of country Dolly Parton herself, and ‘Goodbye’. Both are fantastic tracks, but I found myself enjoying the others more.

Opener and single ‘Love is a Drug’ is a dark, rock-inspired stomper and definitely a highlight of the album. ‘Am I Too Late’ is a fantastic ballad and duet with the amazing Kim Keyes. ‘Catchin’ Grasshoppers’ is a beautiful traditional country song and another massive highlight. It’s an amazing album and it’s a real shame they weren’t released before Kenny’s passing so he could have done them live. 8/10.


Owen: 4 years since their last release and Rival Sons have come out swinging with 8-tracks of their huge classic rock sound. DARKFIGHTER mixes influence from so many other genres, exploring aspects of soul, psych rock, and more, all the while maintaining their anthemic blues rock. Buchanan’s vocals prove to be more and more impressive with every track. The range he shows off in ‘Bright Lights’ compared to the more aggressive wailing on tracks like ‘Guillotine’ is clear evidence of the rare and pure talent he has. DARKFIGHTER feels like a brilliant return for the LA group and forms a 2-part project, with the second album Lightbringer being released later this year. After the success of their previous work and the time taken for this project, expectations were high, but the group have without doubt met these expectations.

Buckcherry: Vol. 10

Owen: Buckcherry are one of those bands where you know what you’re in for from the start. If you want some well executed generic US rock, then you’re probably already familiar with the group. 10 studio albums is a milestone for any band, but their greatest strength has always been their live performance. Vol. 10 tracks will no doubt stand tall during these sets. However, away from environments such as festival fields or frat parties you start to notice the fine line between hard rock heroes and dad rock Buckcherry walk. Closing the album with a cover of Summer of 69’ was a brave choice; popular with dodgy karaoke bars and wedding bands it feels out of place on a milestone album like this.

Not bad but exactly what you’d expect it to be. Distinctely average. 5/10

Jelly Roll: Whitsitt Chapel

Jelly Roll’s transition from hip hop to country rock has been a fun one to listen to, and it continues masterfully with his whopping 18th studio album. ‘Halfway to Hell’ once again continues the trend this week of phenomenal album openers, while ‘Church’ chills things out perfectly. Then we reach the incredible ‘The Lost’, which is one of my favourite tracks in all of country and southern music this year. It reminds me of a more ballady Black Stone Cherry track; I love it.

The track featuring Brantley Gilbert was okay, but another real highlight was ‘Unalive’ featuring the one and only Yelawolf. Yela is so fucking good on the track. I loved the HARDY/Kid Rock blend of hip hop, rock and country, not just on this track but throughout the whole album. I’m honestly shocoeked he isn’t bigger than he is, though I’m sure this album will help him get there! It’s an aquired taste for sure, but I definitely have it, so I’mma give this a 8.5/10

King Voodoo: Hex City

We’ve already covered this album! Check out the full review here.

Gloryhammer: Return to the Kingdom of Fife

Returning with their first album in four years and after an… interesting… few years that saw some controversy and line-up changes, can Gloryhammer return to their seat towards the top of the power metal world?

In short, no. Or rather, I’m not that much of a fan of it, any who. And I hate to single out one key part or person, but Sozos Michael just doesn’t have a powerful enough voice to carry the band. When compared to Thomas Winkler’s tenure with the band, he just doesn’t quite have the power and confidence to fit with the music behind it. Bassist The Hootsman and his harsher vocals work well still, but there is just something about Sozos that doesn’t fit. The songs in general are fine, nothing special, which also doesn’t help.

Overall it’s fine. However, with the quality of power metal releases over the last couple of years, as well as Winkler’s solo album under Angus McSix (find our review of it here), it just doesn’t measure up. 4.5/10

Endless Exam: Voice of Passion and Agony

The debut album of the power/industrial metal band who have only exploded onto the scene this year is pretty damn solid. It’s epic right from the offset with ‘The Voice’, it giving off heavy rock opera vibes. The album is really well arranged and put together, too, definitely going for the epic storytelling feel that I got from it. Tracks like ‘I Ain’t Your Toy’, ‘Wildride’ and the anthemic ‘Consealed Truth’ are all personal highlights. It reminds me a lot of bands like Ward XVI and Death Ingloria, that theatrical hard rock/heavy metal sound that tells a story throughout. It’s something I’d definitely LOVE to see performed live. The whole band are massively talented, too, from the playing to the soaring vocals to the songwriting. 8.5/10

DIETH: To Hell and Back

The debut album of former Megadeth bassist Dave Ellefson is finally out. After much media hype, I was excited to check it out! Also, as a basssist myself and a big thrash kid, Ellefson is a pretty big inspiration of mine.

It’s considerably more heavier than Megadeth, that’s for sure. It’s death metal, in case you couldn’t guess from the name. However, it’s very good death metal. It’s probably a bit paint-by-numbers for more die-hard fans of the genre, but I found myself enjoying it for the most part. Also, it’s hard not to find lyrics like ‘Don’t Get Mad… Get Even!’ a little cheesy and childish. However, tracks like ”In the Hall of the Hanging Serpents’ and ‘Heavy is the Crown’ were fantastic.

It’s hard to say much about it as it’s practically exactly what you’d expect from a basic death metal album. Especially one written by a guy nearly 60. 7/10.

Killhall: Skullsplitter

More thrashy death metal now too with Killhall’s debut record. Honestly, it does it ten times better than the previous album on this list, too. I hate to compare, but given that I am listening to one after the other and both are on the heavier end of the spectrum, I’d take Killhall over Dieth any day.

I haven’t heard a more perfect opening track than ‘Delirium tremens’ in a while. It’s heavy, brutal, quick and yet still has a melodic, almost metalcore chorus with a soaring, catchy clean vocal melody. Meanwhile the harsher vocals throughout are still pretty catchy and have a melodic edge to them even though they are pretty aggressive. It gives off Throwdown vibes and I’m all for it.

It’s honestly really hard to pick highlight tracks from this too, as I loved it all a lot. It’s exactly up my sort of street when it comes to heavier music, and the band definitely have a new HUGE fan in me. It feels like early Trivium, which I do not say lightly. Check this out if you’re into metal at all, as you’ll find something to like. Every track is amazing, so I’mma give it a rare 10/10. These guys are gonna be huge.

Hex City: An Ambitious Debut From King Voodoo!

A newcomer to the NWOCR scene, I found out about King Voodoo from a good friend of mine, the late Tina Sherwood. They were part of the Forge Music Group at one point and Craig has raved about them a lot over the last year. Their debut album, Hex City, dropped yesterday, and we just had to check it out! So, take a break from our Call of the Wild content and see what we think to the album!

Opener ‘Believe in You’ explodes into a huge, heavy and great riff. However, as the vocals come in I have to say I found my first (and probably only) main issue. The vocals are so loud. The lyrics and delivery themselves are great, especially when the harmonies come in in the back. It just kinda drowns out the rest of the music a bit, which is a shame as the riffing and drumming is solid. The highlight of the track for me was the absolutely insane guitar soloing. It was honestly nice to hear an extended solo in a modern track, and it fit everything so perfect. I’m not at all jealous of their talent… But yes, a fantastic sludgy opening track! The distorted vocals on the outro behind the riff gave me heavy Velvet Revolver vibes, I loved it!

‘Whiskey Drive’ opens on another great, if slightly muddily produced riff. These guys are very biker metal in the best way. I love the brief yet massively catchy chorus in the track. All the backing vocals add so much depth and an almost anthemic vibe to it. The slowed up bridge was awesome, and leads to another PHENOMENAL guitar solo.

‘Sleep’ fades in with a version of its chorus which was a really interesting arrangement. It worked too, adding to the impact of the huge riff and gave us a great prelude of things to come. The drums through the verse are fantastic, keeping the high pace even with the guitars and bass stripping back. It’s a chuggy track, almost metalcore, which I’m a big fan of. It also all builds into a huge, open chorus. I also really enjoyed the minute or so of electro/techno at the end. It was completely different to anything else and I wasn’t expecting it at all. It was somewhere between Muse and Gorillaz, and I loved it. This track easily makes the playlist!

We get a slower open to ‘Left Alone’, it having an almost more punk feel to it. In fact, with the guitar riff and low vocals over the top, it reminds me a little of ‘Alice, What’s the Matter?’. The structure is pretty similar too as it builds into a bigger chorus before dropping back down for the verses. The higher notes in the second verse were fantastic too, I’d love to hear more of them from the frontman! We of course get another fantastic guitar solo too, fittingly a little slower than the ones before it. It’s another killer track!

Next we reach the ballad track of the album, ‘Yesterday’s Gone’. Opening on a beautiful acoustic guitar, a piano comes in pad out the sound perfectly. The vocals fit amazingly over the top, and the drum and bass coming in behind it all after the first few lines were an excellent choice. It stays pretty stripped back throughout as well, which I also think was the right choice. The harmonies and backing vocals are used to full effect, and the lead guitars being used to accentuate some of the vocal lines was great. Of course the actual solo was amazing again as well, as is practically a given with this band by now. What an amazing track, and another that makes our playlist!

‘Not Your Enemy’ heavies things back up perfectly with another sludgy riff. It, ‘Time to Party’ and ‘Sweet Voodoo’ all feel pretty similar. It’s not a bad thing; this late into the album you’re bound to get things that sound a little alike. All three are still great tracks, too!

‘Sweet Loneliness’ is another slower track. The strings to open were great, and the riff itself feels massive, open and decidedly epic. The epicness continues throughout, it almost feeling kinda power metally. It goes well with the slower pace, and it a fantastic choice of song for this point in the album. It’s another huge highlight of the album for me personally. Then ‘Sins of Diablo’ closes the album in perfectly heavy fashion. I love the melodies going on in it, sounding almost evil over the big riffs. The high harmonies in the choruses are a lot of fun, too. And I LOVE a band that closes on their heaviest track. Another one for the playlist!

Overall: This was great! Production issues aside, there is a hell of a lot to love about this album. The riffs are stomping, the vocals and melodies are great and the soloing is outstanding. If anything too, the band sound like this would somehow be even better live. I’m hoping that they come around my area soon because I’d love to see these tracks in a live setting. They have a bright future ahead of them with talent and songwriting of this calibre.

The Score: 8/10

Call of the Wild 2023: The Big Bad Review – Sunday

Kicking off the final day of Call of the Wild for us were LaVire. Having never really heard the band before, they utterly blew me away. Their brand of heavier hard rock, bordering on metal was amazing. Frontwoman Chloé stole the show for me, though. Whether it was her soring vocals or surprising, occasional and amazing screams, she blew me away. The band did good with their early slot, getting a decent crowd and for sure winning over a lot of them, including myself. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for them next time they’re around my area again, I can’t wait to see them again!

Next up were our good friends Dead Writers. After a small afternoon slot in the tent last year, Paul, Fabio and co have been bumped up to the Lawless stage, and they made perfect use of that. Though their set was short, they played banger after banger like ‘She’s All the Animals’, ‘Among Spirits’ and recent single ‘Lisa’. Both core members owned the stage and played to a crowd that were appreciative and clearly remembered them from the previous year. Plus, since then they’ve added to their ranks. This was the first big gig for new bassist Naomi Boschetti and she absolutely smashed it, fitting in perfectly with the rest of the band. These guys are ones to watch for sure, they’re going to be massive when their EP drops.

I think Brad Marr is incapable of putting on an un-entertaining set. The Massive frontman’s new German project rocked the main stage and left everyone thoroughly happy. While he’s been a near constant in the UK underground rock scene for a decade now, his new band are all phenomenally talented a good fun to watch on stage. They also write some amazing music (as well as play one great, heavy LMFAO cover). However, there is no denying that Brad is the star of the show. Especially without a guitar in hand this time, meaning he has more of a reign to bounce around. At one point he even somehow managed to fall of the stage, save his pint, and march back up much to everyone’s cheers. One of the most entertaining live bands you will see, and I cannot recommend them enough.

The next band we caught were Tailgunner. Ripped straight out of the NWOBHM scene, these guys were the perfect blend of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. It was fucking awesome. The energy coming from every band member was infectious, and they were all so insanely talented at their craft. And they sent the crowd home happy with an amazing rendition of ‘Painkiller’, which will never fail to impress people! They have a new fan in me!

Off to the tent again to check out the first band I ever interviewed here at Overtone, We Three Kings (check it out here). They seem heavier live than they do on track, which is definitely a good thing as it played right into the genre for the festival. The tent was pretty busy for them which was great to see, and the band played their asses off. Unfortunately we could only stay for a couple as we had to check out the other band too, but it was great stuff!

Fury tore the Killmister stage a new one. I struggled to nail them down into a specific genre, having elements of power metal, hard rock and alternative stuff. Whatever they get put down as, they are a phenomenal band, both on track and live. And they put on one hell of a show, too. And of course, we have to talk about that ballad. ‘Upon the Lonesome Tide’ is maybe the best single song performance of the weekend for me. I was familiar with their heavier tracks but this took me completely off guard in the best way. It was almost like if Phil Collins wrote a pirate ballad. Julian’s vocal delivery was spectacular. It put more of a heaviness on the other tracks around it, too. Another band that I would DEFINITELY recommend checking out live if you ever get the chance!

The next band we managed to see were one of my most anticipated of the weekend, King Kraken. Bringing their unique blend of sludgey stoner metal, they were another band I was surprised and so happy went down a storm with the crowd. The Welsh lads were on top form too, playing a set full of their debut album which was released earlier this year. Considering they haven’t played much up this way recently, the crowd were hot for the band and gave them just as much energy back. Plus, they had tentacles on stage, which was amazing.

We then went over to check out our friends in Outlaw Orchestra. Somehow I’ve chatted to them a couple of times now and have been a big fan of their music, yet hadn’t seen them live until the festival. To say they didn’t disappoint would be an understatement. I’ve not seen a trio look more like they are just three friends enjoying themselves playing music together. Much like I have said for previous bands; if you look like you’re enjoying yourself, so will the crowd. And they (including me) most certainly did. It was another of my favourite sets of the weekend. The fact that they did a bluegrass/blues style version of Motorhead’s ‘Iron Fist’ should really say it all. If you are into the slightly more southern/country side of things check them out, you will not be disappointed.

Then we reach a slight low point for me. I don’t know what it was, but something about Black Spiders didn’t quite click for me. I’ve seen them before since their reunion (check out the review here) and enjoyed it. However here it just felt a little… meh. Even though they were playing new songs off their brand new album, it felt a tad like they were going through the motions. They sounded great, don’t get me wrong, but performance wise it didn’t hold my attention. Still, I loved the new album and the songs they did off it sounded great live.

Then we reached the festival closers, the mighty Those Damn Crows. One of the biggest bands to come out of the NWOCR scene, anticipation was high for their set. On a personal note, they currently have my album of the year, so I was definitely excited. They somehow managed to live up to and even surpass the hype and expectation. This was a band on top form from a playing and performing standpoint, and they knew it.

From new album tracks to their previous hits, this was a blissful hour plus of alt rock that ended far too soon. And they didn’t even need all the big theatrics that a band could have brought. They plugged in and played and let their talent, presence and charisma do the talking. This is maybe the best live show I’ve seen all year so far, or at very least up there with Nanowar of Steel. They ended the festival perfectly.

And there we have it, folks! Another year, another fantastic Call of the Wild festival in the books. So many amazing bands across three different stages and three days, and all of them played their hearts out. Next year’s is already looking amazing from the few bands that have been announced, so I’d advise picking up tickets sooner rather than later. Thanks again to everyone at the festival and UPSTGD for letting us come along, and long live NWOCR!

Call of the Wild 2023: The Big Bad Review

Hundreds of rock and metal fans once again descended on Lincolnshire Showground last weekend for the third Call of the Wild festival. Boasting another incredible line-up of some not just the UKs, but the worlds best bands, it was another weekend not to miss. Thankfully, we were once again able to go down and cover it, so expect plenty of interviews as well as this over the coming weeks!

Unfortunate disclaimer, I couldn’t make it down on the Friday. I was off gigging with Eddie and the Wolves so couldn’t make it down. However, our good friend Tom over at CGCM Radio will have their review up of it soon, so keep an eye out for that here.

There was no better way to start out the second day of a festival than the shot of adrenaline that is Shadow Smile. While a little heavier than a lot of the rest of the bands on, as well as being at 11am, the Sheffield band garnered an impressive crowd. Be it punchy riffs, heavy breakdowns or Connor’s amazing range of soaring vocals and harsh screams, the band showed off every ounce of their incredible talent. Ripping through a short setlist featuring crowd favourites, latest single ‘Hellbound Heart’ and even some off the upcoming album. THIS is how you win over a crowd!

Next up we took a sharp turn into punk with Continental Lovers. I love that NWOCR has really grown to encompass such a wide variety of different sounds, maybe more so than any other sub-genre. It means we get line-ups like this and the crowd loves every single band. This one was no different as they went down a storm. They reminded me a little of City Kids from last year, though a little more traditional in their approach. The band looked to be having plenty of fun on stage and it easily translated to the crowd.

Shifting gears a little again, we got a heathy dose of bluesy rock goodness with Beth Blade and the Beautiful Disasters. No stranger to big stages and crowds, Beth looked right at home strutting about across the whole stage. And on top of having the charisma to hold the crowd to her every move, her powerful, soaring vocals and amazing guitar playing were on top form, too. And that’s not to take away from the Disasters either, who played their parts to perfection. She ripped through all of her hits, including some from last year’s phenomenal Mythos, Confession, Tragedies and Love. They definitely left the crowd happy and buzzing throughout!

The next band we managed to catch were ones I’d wanted to see for a while, The Hot One Two. The band lived up to the hype too, being just as good live as I had heard. They heavied it up a little live yet still maintained the sleazy, sludgy rock sound that brought them to the dance. The crowd were familiar with a fair bit of their work which was great to see and seemed to energize the band even more. They are fantastic live performers and I’d definitely recommend going down to see them if they play near you.

Next we headed over to the tent stage to catch a band that I’d gigged with the day before, Star Circus. This was honestly one of the highlights of my day. After having seen them at Glastonbudget the day before, a festival where the crowds typically shun original music, it was so nice to see them play to an appreciative audience in a pretty packed tent. A fair amount of the crowd knew the music and it was so good to see the band play off them because of it. They had fun and played well, putting on a great show. I’d definitely see them again if they play near me!

Time to heavy it up now as we headed over to catch the thrash awesomeness of Solitary. The fact that the band even got a bit of a pit out of this sort of crowd was amazing, and I have to applaud them for that. Considering how not really into Raging Speedhorn the festival was last year, seeing a heavy band get this much love from the crowd was amazing. The band were top notch as always, wipping the crowd up into a frenzy with a fast-paced rip through their best tracks.

The glam/sleaze Cruel Intentions were up next. Somewhat unfortunately frontman Lizzy DeVine was suffering with a sore throat throughout the set. Props to him and the rest of the band for soldiering on, and if anything it kinda worked in their favour. The raspiness of the voice added an almost Dani Filth edge to it all that fit surprisingly well with their heavy punk-glam sound. Plus, Lizzy is such an entertaining frontman that he could make anything work. Their tracks translate well to a live environment and the crowd loved every second of this. They did amazingly with the hand they were dealt and I’m sure won a lot of new fans by the end!

Sour Tusk were up next in the tent and were certainly interesting! The side project of Doomsday Outlaw’s own resident stick-man Nic Rudd is a lot more groove and sludge orientated than the Outlaws. The crowd were big into them and the trio knew it, playing off them well. I have to admit I wasn’t fully into it, but I did really enjoy their cover of Electric Six’s ‘Gay Bar’. And there is no denying their talent!

Next up was the glam-rock powerhouses Shiraz Lane. After blowing the crowd away during their set last year they returned somehow even better than before. A lot of the crowd were clearly more familiar with their music this time around and were fully into this. Every single band member worked their ass off to put on a great show. They genuinely looked like they were having fun and were one cohesive unit on stage. I can see this band becoming huge in the next few years based on this performance alone. One of the best sets I saw all weekend!

Headlining the Southall Lawless stage on Saturday were another familiar Call of the Wild face, Kickin’ Valentina. Becoming practically the festival’s house band by this point, they never fail to disappoint and are massively loved by the crowd. Unfortunately I did feel the band were a tad quiet, though that very much may have been the wind. Still, they put on a headline worthy set that brought the house down. The crowd was one of the biggest I saw all weekend and there was barely an eye taken off the stage throughout. Another band that are going to be massive over here sooner rather than later. Their sound and Appetite for Destruction style and attitude are both incredible and I’d urge anyone reading this to check them out on track or live as soon as possible!

Last up were the mighty Terrorvision. My notes only say ‘I mean, it’s fuckin’ Terrorvision’. Need I say more? One of the best live bands around for the last two plus decades, they ripped through a perfect set of all their biggest back-catalogue hits. Heck, we even got treated to a preview of new music, which didn’t disappoint at all. Tony Wright is one of the most effortlessly captivating frontmen of all time and shows no signs of ever slowing down his crazy stage antics. And all the rest of the band played their asses off for the over-hour long set. Hats off to them, it was another phenomenal performance.

New Music Mondays: Matchbox Twenty, Immortal and More!

A more relaxed but still awesome week for New Music Mondays this week. From black metal to country, we cover a bit of everything. Check it out!

Matchbox Twenty: Where the Light Goes

The US pop-rock megastars are back with their first album in over a decade. I was going to say the band achieved the most success in the back end of the 90s, but surprisingly, though their debut is still HUGE and certified diamond in the US alone, every album has charted pretty amazingly. What do you expect, after helping out on that Santana song?

In terms of the music itself, it’s pretty much what you’d expect from a band in the genre after doing this nearly three decades later. It reminds me of Train or even Stereophonics, pop-inspired softer rock with plenty of big choruses, great hooks and minimal attention to much else. Some tracks even give off U2 or Phil Collins vibes at times, too. Tracks like ‘Wild Dogs’, ‘Warm Blood’ and the title track are all personal highlight tracks.

It’s a good album and a fantastic return after far too long between new music. Not a bad track on it, though it might have been nice to have been a bit faster or upbeat at times! 7.5/10

Immortal: War Against All

The legendary Black metal band return with their 10th album this last week. The wall of sound, blast beats and questionable mixing decisions that have become such a staple of the genre they helped define and are all very much present here from the offset. As with most black metal stuff, I feel like I’d have to see it live to truly ‘get’ it. Everyone in the band is clearly talented and there’s some sick riffs throughout. ‘Thunders of Darkness’ is a particular highlight, still. However, it doesn’t do much to interest me and seems a lot of the same stuff. 4.5/10

The Dirty Nil: Free Rein to Passions

The Canadian rock trio seem very hard to pin down in terms of genres. Most places are calling them hard rock or even Punk rock. However, the opening riff of the album on the utter phenomenal ‘Celebration’ is heavy as fuck and has enough pinch harmonics to make Zakk Wylde jizz his pants. It definitely gets a little more pop/punk through the album on tracks like ‘Nicer Guy’ or ‘Land of Clover’ (though there’s another sick bridge riff in the latter).

It reminds me of Neck Deep, My Chemical Romance and even Dinosaur Pile-up; somehow being a combination of all three. It’s a really great album without a bad track on it. All three previously mentioned tracka are big highlights, as is ‘Stupid Jobs’. The band definitely have a new fan in me! 8/10

AJJ: Disposable Everything

Punk/alt/folk rockers AJJ return with their eighth album. It starts on an absolute banger with ‘Strawberry (Probably)’ the album slows up a fair bit. Most of it is very chilled and folky, though surprisingly ‘I Hate Rock n’Roll’ is great, and ‘Death Machine’ is easily the best track on the album. It’s definitely not for everyone, but if you’re into their particular brand of noise I feel like they are top notch. They are creative (if a little weird) with their lyric writing and the music behind it is well done. 7.5/10

Whythre: Impregnate My Hate

Owen: By all accounts Whythre have been a staple of the Seattle metal scene since 2016, and listening to their newest release it’s easy to see why. Impregnate my Hate is a 9-track heavy hitting album
with massive influences taken from both melodic death metal and thrash.

The title track takes the lead with thrash influences and the group have openly said this naturally occurred during the wiring of the song so they chose to lean into it to the benefit of the track. Throughout the album the band deliver heavy melodic riffs, some brutal vocals from frontman Adam Chambers, as well as some synth and orchestral backing to fill out their sound. Thematically the message of the album focuses on the missteps of modern society and where we are heading, something we can all relate too in the current climate. Chambers has attributed some inspiration of this theme to a 1980’s Sci-Fi series ‘V’. While he already had most of the lyrics penned, after a friend introduced him to the series he found some strong similarity in the themes he was exploring.

Standout tracks include the title track as well as the 4th song of the album, ‘Scorpions of Sinai’. From the intense opening to the fast mid sections through to its abrupt end, this track is a highlight of the bands
skill of blending synth melodies with their own death metal sound. 8/10

Melonie Cannon: A Tribute to Vern Gosdin

Pretty much the only country album I could find for this week. Gutting, I know! However, it’s a great album, so that pretty much makes up for it, right?

The 13-track album is filled with guest slots and collaborations, but the tracks that are just Melonie are just as good as the others! ‘Right in the Wrong Direction’ is one of my favourite tracks on the album, a short, sweet, poweful number. However, anything is better with Cody Jinks, and ‘Set ‘Em Up, Joe’ is no exception. His voice is amazing and works perfectly alongside Melonie.

Overall it’s a good, chilled out country album. If you’re into the more relaxed, traditional, even easy-listening country stuff, you’ll love this! 7.5/10

Metal Church: Congregation of Annihilation

The thrash pioneers themselves put out their 13th album, and showed the world that they very much still have it. Following the horrific passing of long time vocalist and to a lot of people the face of the band, Mike Howe, it would have been easy to call it a day. However, having recruited Ross the Boss vocalist Marc Lopes, the pressure was on for Marc and the rest of the band. Previous album Damned if you Do was pretty well received upon its release, so would this release live up to that?

Incredible riffs, solid drums, insane solos and powerful, catchy vocals. What more could you possibly want? Marc does an incredible job on vocals, it fitting in perfectly with the bands sound. it’s 10-tracks and 45 minutes of awesomeness and it’s so hard to pick highlights. The opener and ‘Me the Nothing’ are my personal favourites, but it’s close. A statement that Metal Church will not be stopped, and honestly one of the top metal releases of the year so far. It’s so nice to hear! 8.5/10

Mesarthrim: Arrival

Owen: Anonymous Australian duo, Mesarthim, released their newest offering this week. The 8-track album, named Arrival, promises to take you on a journey through the cosmos utilising the bands unique sound. Black Metal underpins each track and the pair pull this off really well. It’s easy to forget you are only listening to two people as their sound is so

For me the real standout moments come when things slow down. The ambient electronic sounds that form the cosmological aspect of the album. It’s these moments that elevate the album and into a cinematic journey through the stars for the listener. Known for their less than conformist views on naming conventions, Arrival is split
into 7 parts. These parts vary greatly in duration but the transitions between tracks are natural as the tracks blend into each other. Track 8 however, titled ‘Type IV’, is a continuation of their 2016 epic ‘Type III’. Referencing the Kardashev scale, this closing track is a journey all of its own. The pair have done really well to make this final track work
in both the concept of this album and the work done back in 2016. It doesn’t feel out of place or just tacked on the end, which would have been an easy pitfall in less capable hands.

This is truly an experience to listen to, and one I would recommend to anyone. 8.5/10

Check out similar music here.

New Music Mondays: The Used, Dave Mathews Band and More!

A stacked week of New Music Mondays this week, featuring everything from prog to NWOBHM to country and much more. Check it out!

The Used: Worst I’ve Ever Been

The emo/alt rock band are back with their ninth studio album. I have to admit I’ve dropped off from them over the last few years. I was a huge fan of their first three or four albums, but kinda felt like I’d had my fill at that point.

Having said that, this is a good album! It feels a lot like their older stuff; big pop-punk choruses beefed out with huge riffs. A lot of the lyric writing, while a little cringy from a bunch of 40+ year olds, is solid and some of the best I’ve heard all year. Tracks ‘Numb’, ‘Pinky Swear’ and ‘Dancing with a Brick Wall’ are all massive highlights. You can definitely heat why they influence so many other modern bands, be it Fall Out Boy, Set it Off and others. And rightfully so. They should be bigger than they are, and this album is a testament to that. 7.5/10

Dave Mathews Band: Walk Around the Moon

The legendary jam band are back with their tenth studio album. Being a big fan of the band, this was another slice of excellence. The opener and title track encapsulates everything great about the band in less than five minutes. The chilled out feel, catchy melodies and jazz fusion was all on display perfectly. ‘Madman’s Eyes’ add more of their folky sound to the album and also has an incredible Egyptian feel and melody.

Almost every track feels different; you can’t accuse the album of being boring! My only slight issue is the layout of the album. There were a few too many slower tracks following on from each other. Still, tracks like ‘After Everything’ and ‘The Other Thing’ are also great. Overall it’s a great, chilled-out soft rock album. 8.5/10

Sleep Token: Take Me Back to Eden

We’ve already reviewed this album, for better or worse, here.

Chapel Hart: Glory Days

The America’s Got Talent alumni return with their third album and first since their explosion to fame from receiving the golden buzzer. After checking out a couple of tracks, including their incredible audition, I was on and off sold on them, honestly. However, this album has sold me on them. I can’t quite place my finger on what it is, either. It just feels more polished, more rounded, somehow both more country and more pop.

It still strikes me as odd how they identify as a group when 90% of it is Danica Hart. How very Babymetal of them.

Tracks like ‘Dear Tequila’, ‘Redneck Fairytail’ and the title track are all amazing. Overall it is a little slow for my liking for a 40-minute album, but that doesn’t mean the quality suffers at all. A great album and a great way to capitalise on their recent popularity. 8/10

Yes: Mirror to the Sky

The prog pop-rockers are back with their whopping 23rd studio album. We checked out their last one a couple of years ago, which you can find here. Will this one be more of the same?

Yes. I could practically copy the review from 2021 word for word, except for the stuff about it being two disc. If anything the more concise 9-tracks (although it’s still an hour) helped the album even more. It’s hard to pick out a highlight or two as the tracks are all pretty similar, but they’re all very good. Massively talented playing and songwriting and a lot of fun to listen to. Another 8/10 from me!

Botanist: VIII: Selenotrope

This is black metal? Well, there goes my growing, albeit tiny, understanding of the sub-genre. Don’t get me wrong, I can hear it in the drumming, and in the utterly terrible production and mixing, but I wasn’t expecting the green, naturist vibes and slower pace overall. I also couldn’t tell if the vocalist was whispering, or screaming from way back in the mix.

I wasn’t into it. As a whole album, it did have a cool energy and flow to it all. Listening from front to back I got what it was going for and did find it an interesting listen. But I probably wouldn’t rush to go back and experience it again and definitely wouldn’t just go for a track or two. 4/10

Damien Done: Total Power

The goth/alt/punk rockers put out their sophomore album last Friday. Honestly, though I didn’t particularly like the opening track, I LOVED a lot of this. Tracks like ‘Black Moon’ and ‘Young Drugs’ feel straight out of Billy Idol’s playback, it’s great. Even the more electro, darker pop stuff like ‘Always on Fire’ is awesome. It’s so brooding, it reminds me of something Trent Resnor would put together for a movie soundtrack. Even the Lou Reedstyle delivery on ‘Fin Dom’ was great. If you’re into more of your 80s synth-rock style, this is definitely for you. 8.5/10

Marty Stuart: Altitude

The country legend himself has put out his first album in over five years. It’s also insane that he’s been making music for the best part of 60 years and he’s still making music this good. ‘Country Star’ is an old-school country classic already, while tracks like ‘Vegas’ and the slower ‘Space’ are also fantastic. It’s a proper old-school country album, and an amazing album to just sit back and chill to. At 64, Marty has done it again! There isn’t a bad track on the album, and if you like the genre, check this out! 8/10

ROADWOLF: Midnight Lightning

NWOBHM revial band ROADWOLF are back with their first album in two years, and first with Napalm. It’s the third album in a row on this list that is damn good. Think old-school Judas Priest mixed with a hint of AOR. It’s again hard to pick fault with it; it’s a well produced, well written, solid rock album. It does nothing to re-invent the wheel or anything even close, but it’s fun and very enjoyable. Highlights include the W.A.S.P-like title track, ‘Don’t Deliver Us From Evil’ and the frankly perfect ‘High Under Pressure’. Long time readers will know me, any time there is horns in rock and metal it’s amazing, and that solo came out of nowhere and was AMAZING. 8.5/10

Brandy Clark: Self-Titled

Another artist, alongside Marty, that we reviewed at The Long Road last year (check out the article here). Her new album is a little on the slower side of country, but maintains the same awesome sound and writing capacity and style that she is known for. It’s almost like easy-listening country. It reminds me more of Jack Johnson or Newton Faulkner than any modern country artists. Tracks like ‘Tell Her You Don’t Love Her’ and ‘Best Ones’ are personal highlights. It did get a little repetitive by the end, though, so I can’t give it any higher than a 7/10

Gozu: Remedy

Owen: It has been five years since Boston group Gozu have released an album. Remedy is a strong return for the group. The group have a clear talent for straight cut heavy rock. Expect chunky rolling riffs, some wailing solos, and all the usual sounds of the genre. Gaffney’s vocal work on this album is a real standout; at times it has a likeness to the late great Chris Cornell or even Ozzy back in the day. Opening track ‘Tom Cruise Control’ is a highlight of the album. However, it does go downhill from there. ‘CLDZ’ starts off well but by the end just feels self-indulgent, a theme that they unfortunately carry throughout the rest of the album. The songs feel too similar as you work through the album. It would have been great to hear the group try something different and stretch their legs a bit in some of the later tracks.

The five year break between releases has been attributed to both the pandemic and struggling to find a drummer to complete their sound. Seth Botos joined the group for Remedy and seems to have been the key to them getting back on
track as a band. There seems to be some real talent amongst the members that is almost
restricted by the songs in this album. Overall this is a solid first step to getting back on the road and establishing their new roster with Botos. The flashes of brilliance tell me these guys could be one to watch for the next couple of years, but that is heavily reliant on what they do from here. 6.5/10

Mystic Prophecy: Hellriot

Another NWOBRH style band but with a modern, almost power metal edge, Mystic Prophecy’s 12th album is a slab of full-force awesomeness. It very much has feelings of Iced Earth, Overkill and even some more modern stuff like Painside and even Parkway Drive. You know exactly what you’re going to get from the band, it’s straight to the point and does its thing to near perfection. Every memeber of the band is massively talented. Highlights include the opener, ‘Metal Attack’ and ‘Road to Babylon’. It’s a solid metal album that’s a lot of fun if you like the style. 8/10

Take Me Back to Eden: Sleep Token Release the Most Divisive Album of the Year!

As mentioned in the title, Sleep Token’s brand new album has caused quite the divide across heavy music. Heck, it’s caused quite the split opinion here at Overtone. So, we decided to do something we rarely get the chance to do and have multiple people review the same album! Join us in checking out the cult-like prog band’s third release!

Joe: Okay, so I’m not doing the main portion of this review, Max is. They’re his favourite band and he wanted someone a bit more objective and impartial to also comment on it. I have to admit I’ve never quite ‘got’ them before, outside of ‘Hypnosis’.

I have to admit, I still feel the same. There’s a couple of okay riffs and heavy parts spread thin across the whole album. And even then, the parts don’t quite measure up to good, heavy sections in sub-genre-leaders like BMTH and Spiritbox. The heavy riff and scream in TikTok sensation ‘The Summoning’ is an album highlight, and I don’t get the hype around the ‘horny jazz’ outro. Even the death metal-esque ‘Vore’ felt decidedly meh.

It’s a boring indie-pop album masquerading as a metal album at times. If you like it, more power to you, but in my opinion this is massively over-hyped and okay at best. I’d give it a 4/10 overall.

Now, I’mma stop insulting all the diehard Sleep Token fans, and pass you over to one…

Max: The amazing cult band Sleep Token released their album Sundowning in 2019 which fully demonstrated the pure talent of this band and last than two years after their second album, they are back with their best album yet, Take Me Back To Eden. Encapsulating numerous genres and emotions throughout an album whilst keeping every track cohesive and functional can be challenging, but in the review below we will explore how Sleep Token do.

Before we go any further, it is important to note that I am a huge fan of this band, so my opinion might be a little weighted to one side. However, there’s another take on the album above, so that a more balanced opinion can be gained on the entire album.

Starting hard with ‘Chokehold’, whilst it starts slower it quickly builds into quite an intense song with some heavy guitars and technical drums. However, it keeps the vocals clean throughout, building to a very nice change to the chorus for the outro with a held note. This song is very good and is a very standard song for them. This was quite a nice and safe intro to an album that has definitely been a little more explorative than any of their earlier music.

Now for where the album starts getting a little more interesting. The title track starts out in quite an airy and swells before getting into the heavier guitars and then changing into a solo and then straight back into the swelling chorus. And almost straight after this, a relatively intense breakdown for Sleep Token. All of this is within the first three and a half minutes of a six and a half minutes song. Then it changes to a strange funky end, which feels like a completely different song. This was definitely a highlight!

The next two songs, ‘Granite’ and ‘Aqua Regia’, fall back into the more expected Sleep Token style. That isn’t to say they are bad songs but they definitely feel a little more expected and understandable than other songs on the album, especially with what is yet to come. It is most certainly a nice respite.

Next up, ‘Vore’. This really is the first massive change of pace for Sleep Token as Vessel screams for a large portion of the song which was mental and really started showing off just what Sleep Token is capable of. This then continues with lots of the later songs but they still explore other genres.

In terms of the majority of the rest of the album, there is so much going on and I realize that if I continue to waffle no one will ever read this to the end. But there are two things that I want to say. This album is genuinely phenomenal, at least to Sleep Token fans that have been here for a while, with all of the references to earlier songs and the constant development and improvement of everything they are good at whilst still making sure that the album is accessible to everyone who might not have ever listened to them before. This I know for a fact as I have shown this album to a number of people and they all have at least half of the album that they love.

And, finally, ‘Ascensionism’ and ‘Euclid’ are absolutely beautiful and have completed something in me that was started with ‘The Night Does Not Belong to God’, making this album have a truly important nature in my heart. I genuinely believe that if people give this album a go, they will see that this band really has perfected their art and are one the best bands around at the moment. From me 10/10

So, who do you agree with more? Is it good or not worth the hype? Let us know on our social medias! The average tots up to 7/10, but for something so praised by a lot of people that does seem a tad harsh. Let’s go with 8/10, that seems fair!

New Music Mondays: Dropkick Murphys, Devildriver and More!

Another busy week of new music, packed with plenty of different bands and genres to check out. Let’s dive straight in!

P.S. not only do we have Max joining us again, but also our new recruit, Owen!

Dropkick Murphys: Okemah Rising

Owen: Dropkick Murphys’ newest release, ‘Okemah Rising’, is the 12th studio album from the Massachusetts band. Stretching their legs in the country and western genres with the aid of Woody Guthrie’s lyrics, similar to their previous release last year, the songs are comprised of
unused words and lyrics accessed by Guthrie’s daughter Nora who stuck around as an Executive Producer for the songs.

Standout tracks from the album include; ‘I Know How It Feels’; a working class anthem with lyrics that still feel applicable today despite being written about struggles faced nearly 100 years ago. ’Rippin Up the Boundary Line’; a rhythmic sing-along that could have
one day been a sea shanty or a chain gang song. With vocals reminiscent of Tom Waits, this track is a brilliant blend of the Dropkick Murphys signature sound and the country western influence of Guthrie’s own work. The final new track (before a reimagining of ‘I’m Shipping Up To Boston’ titled the ‘Tulsa Version’) is a track called ‘Run Hitler Run’. This was the gem of the album for me, a fast-paced, harmonica-wailing protest against fascism calling out numerous dictators of the era. The
band have managed to make this album stand on its own two feet whilst still feeling like a continuation from their work on their 2022 release ‘This Machine Kills Fascists’. I for one hope they push on down this path and rescue more potentially lost work of influential artists across
different genres. 8/10

Devildriver: Dealing With Demons Vol. II

We’ve already had the pleasure of checking out this brutal slab of groove metal. Check out what we thought here.

Cattle Decapitation: Terrasite

So I’ve been seeing this album everywhere on socials. Though deathgrind typically isn’t my thing, I was excited to check it out. Fuck, this is GOOD. It’s brutal, heavy and massively talented. The drums are on a new level that I could barely comprehend, Dave McGraw needs so much more credit than he gets. The riffs were great, the breakdowns slap and the gutturals and growls are amazing. I love this album.

I’m struggling to single out just a couple of tracks off it too, as each one is just as good as the last. Right from the heaviness of ‘Terrasitic Adaption’ and its three completely different vocal styles (lows, extreme metal screams and a surprisingly good clean section) through the two singles to the all out perfect assault that is ‘A Photic Doom’, this is a 50+ minute lesson in speed, aggression and awesomeness. The band have a new fan in me, and deserve all the praise they are getting for this album. 9.5/10

Amity Affliction: Not Without My Ghosts

The post-hardcore/metalcore band’s eighth album is heavy. ‘Show Me Your God’ is a damn hard opener, while single ‘Hell Down Here’ has a damn good poppy chorus hook, but around that is practically deathcore. Said format is used throughout to varying degrees of enjoyment.

‘Death and the Setting Sun’ is great, as is ‘Close to Me’. However, tracks like ‘I See Dead People’ and ‘God Voice’ felt like it forced the clean and harsh vocal changes. Heck, all but one of the tracks are pretty formulaic for it, doing the same heavy verse, clean chorus throughout. I know that’s usually how a lot of heavier metalcore goes, but it’s one of the reasons I didn’t get into bands like this when I was heavily into the genre. I like bands that keep it a little more interesting, like BFMV or Killswitch Engage. Also, don’t even get me started on that closing ballad. It felt less metalcore and more Blink’s ‘I Miss You’.

There’s a few cool moments in here and a decent song or two, but I got bored pretty quick and not much made me want to go back for a second listen. 5/10

Black Spiders: Can’t Die, Won’t Die

A band that I’ve been a fan of for a long while now and I was so excited when they finally returned from hiatus. Being the first release since their reunion, this album’s got a lot of hype behind it. Does it live up to it?

Somehow both yes and no. While nothing on the album is quite up to the lofty heights of ‘Kiss Tried to Kill Me’ or ‘What Goods a Rock Without a Roll?’, overall this may very well be the strongest album front to back the band have ever done. It’s clear the band have evolved upon their return, a slightly slower pace with more influences dragged into the sound such as a surprisingly heavy Alice In Chains vibe. Lead single ‘Hot Wheels’ has grown on me more and more every listen and the Marylin Manson inspired, AICs sludging ‘Destroyer’ is a MASSIVE album highlight.

Honestly, there isn’t really a bad track on the album. There are some I like more than the others but the quality overall is massively high. If you’re into hard rock, NWOCR or even grunge at all, you’ll love this. 8.5/10

Parker McCollum: Never Enough

The country/Americana singer put out his fourth studio album on Friday. It’s rather quite good. Having never heard of the guy before, ‘Hurricane’ was a fantastic introduction. While it started a little slow, it built and built into a huge chorus and an almost Brothers Osbourne/Zac Brown outro. It does slow down for a few tracks after that, but tracks like ‘Stoned’, ‘Handle on You’ and ‘Speed’ are more upbeat, incredibly catchy and definite highlights.

I do think it just about fits into the category of ‘country albums that are just to fuckin’ long’, though. It’s just shy of an hour long and is 15 tracks long. However, I’d consider letting it off as, while on others it’s clear where to trim the fat, I honestly couldn’t imagine cutting a single track off this. It is an honestly phenomenal collection of tracks that I cannot find any fault with. After listening to it all the way through, the track-listing even makes complete sense. 9/10, great stuff!

Veil of Maya: [m]other

Max: Back to my normal style of music. The Illinois quartet is back with another fantastic album and this one might be their best yet. They really went above and beyond, expanding on everything that the band has become known for. The screams were amazing throughtout and they were perfectly balanced with the clean vocals. Both had so much energy and made each song a lot of fun to listen to. As for the guitars, i dont think i understand anymore because there is so much going on and there are so many insane noises that i didnt think were possible to play on a guitar that it became hard to keep up. This was not a bad thing however as it just made listening to this band a lot more enjoyable. Overall 9/10

Cody Ikerd and the Sidewinders: Dreamers Like Me

The debut album by the sludgy, country rockers is a hell of a lot of fun. It reminds me of the best part of Brantley Gilbert with a traditional twang to it. Like a heavier Blackberry Smoke, and definitely a lot of Lynyrd Skynyrd in the slower tracks. It’s hard to come up with stuff to say about it as it’s only seven tracks and 25-minutes long. My only critique is that it maybe needed another rockier track. It got off to a roaring start and then slowed off pretty massively by the end. Still though, all the songs are good, and if you’re into country you’ll like this! 7.5/10

Hot Mulligan: Why Would I Watch

With it being Hot Mulligan, you would be right in expecting the raw vocals throughout the entire album that have so much pain and emotion in them. This album also has the punchy and fun guitars for which the band has become known. There’s one issue with the album, though. There are glimpses of the pure excellence of the band sprinkled throughout but it felt as though the band went for a more radio-friendly and accessible version of themselves for this album rather than album all of their unique talents to carry the album. 7.5/10

Nighthawk: Prowler

I actually found this album through an ad on Facebook. So, for all those aspiring musicians out there, just know, they do work! Sometimes…

As for the album itself, it’s a great callback to the late 70s, early 80s rock scene. A perfect blend of the US glam scene’s beginnings and the height of UK early heavy metal with the likes of Deep Purple and Dio. The keys/synth was a huge highlight, as were the huge choruses filled with Ian Astbury-like powerful vocals. The riffing and drums, while a tad basic at times, fit the style perfectly and added so much to the sound. The soloing from the guitars and keys throughout were also fantastic.

Tracks like ‘Running Wild’, ‘Free Your Mind’ and ‘Playing the Game’ are big highlights. They’d fit in perfectly with the NWOCR movement in full swing these days, they remind me a lot of Cats in Space. 7.5/10, a great album!

Acadia Strain: Step Into the Light

This is most certainly their best album yet, in my opinion. It is crunchy and heavy with all the intensity that you would want from this band. There are layers to every song, from the vocals to the guitars to the drums. There is so much going on, and it feels great to listen to. There’s room to develop as they didn’t seem to delve too much into trying anything new or to push the boat out at all, but everything they did was intense and very well done. There was also the hard-hitting nature of lots of their lyrics which ended up sticking with me far after I had finished listening to the album. 8/10

Averlanche: Arctic Atlas

A power metal sophomore album to close out our list this week, and a damn good album to cap it all off. It’s everything you could want in a symphonic power metal band; big riffs, soaring, beautiful vocals, HUGE choruses and plenty of talented playing and lead lines to leave anyone impressed.

Tracks like ‘Killing Floor’ and the beautiful ballad ‘Island Across’ are huge highlights for me personally. My only ever so slight gripe is in the production; it doesn’t quite feel as massive as it could (and really should) do. Something is missing to push it to that very top tier in the genre, and I honestly think it’s only down to the mixing. Also, the playing at times, and this is completely personal preferences, is almost too clean. A couple of the riffs the guitars seem to transition almost robotically through the chords, leaving little feeling to it. However then moments later I’ll get slapped with an emotion-filled solo that puts my foot in my mouth.

If you’re a fan of Nightwish, Delain or even 2000s Iron Maiden, you’ll fall in love with this. 8/10, this was awesome! I already can’t wait to hear more!

Dealing With Demons Vol. II: How Does Devildriver ‘s New Release Compare to its Predecessor?

Californian groove metallers Devildriver are back with their tenth studio album on Friday, and a follow up to 2020’s Vol. I. I have to admit, though I like the music I have heard from the band, I can’t say that I’ve checked out much. The odd song here and there as opposed to a full album. That all changes today, and boy am I excited. I love all things groove, thrash and melodeath, so let’s dive right in!

The album opens with a slow build into a fantastic, heavy, sludgy riff. It’s Devildriver to a T and I love it. Dez’s awesome scream comes in over the awesome verse riff and amazing drumming. It gives off heavy 2000s Machine Head vibes, which I cannot complain about at all. The chorus doesn’t change the formula all too much, but still manages to be pretty catchy and memorable. There’s an awesome guitar solo in the middle too, even if it is a little brief for my liking. A pretty simple structure to open but it was a good choice and a good track. Great riffs, overall great playing and some amazing vocals.

‘Mantra’ keeps the heaviness going with the evil opening riff. It leads to another full-on, heavy verse. The riffing is really excellent, a massive highlight of the album as a whole, to be honest. The chorus is great and crushing, it all being brutal so far. The bridge/breakdown riff is also AWESOME. It’s another simple structured track but I loved this. It makes our playlist.

Check out similar music here!

‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ again opens on a great, heavy riff. The drums are the real highlight of this track, between the double-pedal and cymbal work, it’s all amazing. Davier Pérez is a pretty underrated player! I like them adding some dynamics for a moment with the stripped-back, clean vocalled parts between the verses and choruses. It broke things up nicely, especially when so far the whole album has been a violent punch to the nose. It’s another fantastic chorus and ear-worm; it’ll be stuck in my head for days to come. Another great track and another highlight of the album.

The quieter start to ‘Summoning’ was a nice change of pace. It also led to another fantastic, evil, groovy riff. The slow chug of the verses was awesome, and again the drumming is top notch. The chorus has a bit of a power metal edge to it, much like Parkway Drive’s last couple of albums. It’s a massively fun track and another that makes the playlist!

‘Through the Depths’ is another slower opener, the clean chord progression reminding me a lot of ‘Seasons in the Abyss’. It then hits into a huge riff that is just pure black metal, before easing off a little into melodeath. The track also has just a touch of the chaotic energy channelled by the likes of Tallah, though that may just be me. It drops back down to the cleaner chord progression for an outro too, which was a very nice touch!

‘Bloodbath’, and the rest of the tracks, for that matter, are more of the same. That isn’t a complaint at all, there are some fantastic riffs, melodies and moments throughout the four tracks. It simply means that there isn’t a huge amount of variety for me to write about in my review, so I’d end up repeating things and it’d get boring. Again, I shall repeat, all are fantastic tracks if you are into the sort of noise that Devildriver produce. And ‘This Relationship, Broken’ is one hell of a closing track.

Overall: This was a great heavy album! If you’re into Devildriver, or groove/thrash/melodeath in general, this will be right up your street. I have to admit, I was hoping for slightly more diversity in the music, it felt like a one note album at times, but maybe that was because of how close they are to Machine Head and how spoilt we have been by them over the years. This is a great album in its own right and has definitely gotten me into Devildriver more!

The Score: 7.5/10