Tag Archives: new album

Blackout: Do Kaos Krew Return With Their Best Album to Date?

The Finnish heavy industrial metal band Kaos Krew are back with their sixth album. According to the band themselves, “The album as such is not a concept album but consists of songs written during the period of possible energy crisis, therefor the title ‘Blackout’. It’s an interesting concept, and one I’m excited to check out!

After an slow organ build-up to open ‘At the Core’, we get into a fantastic guitar riff, stomping and heavy. I love the electronic stuff adding an element of melody and futuristic feel to it. The growled vocals fit perfectly over the top, keeping the feel brutal and heavy. The pace keeps pretty steady though the vocals do clean up a little for the choruses, making them a little catchier. The structure threw me off too, as we get the bridge before the second chorus. The drum work through it is incredible, a funky off-beat, and the guitars playing a solo melody is awesome. Then a final chorus-verse-chorus takes us home in style. This was a really interesting track. It’s a great way to open the album as it sets the scene perfectly for the band’s sound.

‘Retribution’ punches the listener straight in the face with a huge riff to start. We then get an awesome, epic riff that is mirrored by I think keys, but it almost sounds like a horn/string combo. It’s fucking awesome and real epic. The vocals are clean this time, giving the track more of a prog-metal feel. The chorus is even catchier than the previous one too. The track overall has a very European metal feel to it (of course); having elements of power metal and symphonic stuff alongside their unique sound. We get an awesome guitar solo to bridge the gap between the choruses, really giving chance for the lead player to shine. We also get a really epic extended bridge that I’m sure would go down a storm live. Especially with the strings coming back. This is an incredible song, and one that easily makes our playlist!

Check out similar music here!

‘Know Thyself’ feels like the perfect amalgamation of the last two tracks. It has the stomping pace and industrial riff of the first, while having the awesome electronic melodies and epic feel of the previous track. Then, to my surprise, it drops down into a cleaner, slower bit, and we get some incredible female vocals. It’s a very interesting and welcome change of pace. It all builds perfectly into a MASSIVE, heavy, screamed chorus, and I can’t get enough of it. The riff sounds incredible behind it, making it all sound so huge. The screams almost have an air of Johannes Eckerström to them. In fact, the whole song sounds pretty Avatar, in the best way. We then get an awesome extended bridge to end. The guitars riff out while the synths do an awesome job making it all sound huge. Another easily playlisted track!

Tracks like ‘Wake up’, ‘Strangers Gate’ and ‘Flame on’ channel similar vibes to ‘Retribution’, that more epic, power metal end of their industrial sound. All three are fantastic tracks, the latter even having elements of 70s/80s pop in there too. It’s another highlight track and one to make our playlist! However, they all have a similar energy and feel to them, so it’s hard to talk about them all without repeating myself!

I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting so many instrumental tracks. Three across the latter half of the album, ‘Raceway’, ‘Dark Circus’ and ‘Bounce’. The middle one is sludgy, Black Label Society-like track with plenty of pinch harmonics and some spoken word stuff. The latter is an equally stomping, bass-lead track that leans hard into the electronic stuff at times. The former, I do have slight issues with. While it’s a great, more hard-rock style track… is the riff not just ‘Slither’? Like I love the influence of a Slash-esque sleaze into the music, but c’mon, at least change it up a little guys! It’s a cool riff at least, and they really get their money’s worth out of it!

‘Electro Magnetic Machine’ is a really interesting track, it building up incredibly slowly across over a minute of epic electro stuff. It eventually explodes into a huge riff that you can’t help but bang your head to. Some more awesome growls come in over the top, making everything feel even heavier. The one and only chorus (I guess) stays heavy but almost channels a Muse-like energy. It’s a really interesting track and placed perfectly in the middle to break things up.

Album closer ‘Electric Masquerade’ is another interesting one. Opening on an Egyptian-like sound and riff, the heaviness soon comes in over the top. It’s almost another instrumental, aside for some spoken word stuff running through it. I kinda liked the almost robot-like voice announcing the track and continuing throughout. It reminds me of Machine Head’s ‘Imaginal Cells’, especially with the subject matter too. It feels like the culmination of the topic of the album, and honestly feels like a pretty fitting and epic conclusion musically, too. Any awesome way to close out the album!

Overall: This is an awesome album! Though, I have to admit, it does feel a tad front-loaded. Those first three or four tracks are so good, and I was ready to start handing out a 10. However, a large part of the latter half of the album is more instrumental based, bar a couple of songs. It’s not an issue, but I feel it could have maybe been arranged a little better to spread out the vocal-lead tracks a bit more. Still, as an album as a whole, it’s excellent, and so great to just sit down and listen through in one sitting. The band are amazing throughout, and I can’t give it any less than…

The Score: 9/10

The Top Albums of 2023 – Part 2!

Continuing on with our top albums of the year, let’s go through the next 20!

80: Tidal Wave – The Lord Knows

Time for some glorious sludgy/stoner/doom rock. The second album from the Swedish band build and improve on their debut in every aspect. From the excellent riffing to the perfectly fitting vocals to the overall feel of it, the band have really nailed their sound with this one. And, of course, it’s chocked full of incredible tracks.

It’s got a heavier edge compared to a lot of music around its genre, too. It’s like if Queens of the Stone Age and Black Label Society had a beautiful, high baby. It got a very deserving 9/10 From us, and I cannot wait to hear more from this band in the future. If you’re into the sludgy stuff, you may wanna check this out!

Listen to: End of the Line, Marijuana Trench and By Order of the King

79: Darius Rucker – Carolyn’s Boy

The country star has come a long way since fronting Hootie and the Blowfish. He’s arguably become a bigger name since, and this album really solidifies that concept and his sound and position in the music scene. This is a damn good country album. It’s got a very early 2000s country feel to it. Sure, it gets a bit ‘old man yells at clouds’ at times with its lyrics, but that’s practically expected now from any non-new country artist. And there’s still a lot of genuine emotion throughout the release, too. There are plenty of incredible ballads just as much as there are more upbeat stadium-country songs.

Eight solo albums in and Darius is still showing us how incredible his songwriting ability truly is. I gave him a 9/10 when I first reviewed it and after listening back through the album yet again, I definitely agree with that score!

Listen to: Beers & Sunshine, Fires Don’t Start Themselves and Same Beer Different Problem

78: Extreme – Six

One of the biggest names in 90s rock returned this year with their first new album in a decade and a half. The hype was pretty massive for the album, especially after the first couple of singles were released. So, why is it this low on the list? Two words: ‘BEAUTIFUL GIRLS’. I can’t remember the last time one track ruined the credibility of an album quite so much as that song. It’s god awful.

Having said that, there are some all-time great Extreme tracks on this album. I’d put the first three tracks up there with any other popular Extreme song, either. Tracks like ‘SAVE ME’ and ‘THICKER THAN BLOOD’ are also awesome. It’s really the slower tracks that let this album down, trying to still recapture their ‘More than Words’ success, to varying quality. And yeah, fuck ‘Beautiful Girls’. Bad pop tripe.

So yes, a rather mixed bag of a release, which is why it sits lower than it could have. But still, a good half the album is awesome, and if you’re a fan of the band or their style, you need to check it out! It got an 8.5 from me, and I stand by that pretty heartily!


77: Jelly Roll – Whitsitt Chapel

Though Mr Roll has been around for a few years now, 2023 has very much his breakout year. While a lot of that has been due to his Corey Taylor/Spencer Charnes level of features on other artists’ songs, this album is also a huge part of that. Drawing together his love of country, rock and hip hop into a beautiful blend of music is always risky, but it’s pulled off very well here. And, unlike a lot of country this year, it’s not too long! 13 tracks is perfect.

There is a lot to love here for fans of any of the genres I listed above. And whether it’s Brantley Gilbert, Yelawolf or the incredible Lainey Wilson, the guest’s he has throughout are a perfect fit for his style and the songs. And there is so much variety throughout that it never once gets boring or a slog. This is very much a breakout album, and easily deserves the 8.5 it got from us, if not more! I cannot wait to hear where he goes next!

Listen to: Halfway to Hell, The Lost and Save Me

76: The Black Skeleton – The Rear View

This band have such an interesting and unique blend of styles, it’s impossible to categorize them as anything other than simply ‘rock’. 80s pop rock? Check. 90s Alice In Chains-like grunge? Check. Red Hot Chili Peppers? Check. Stadium rock ballads? Check. And yet, throughout all of that, it still all sounds distinctly like the same band.

I stand by everything I said in my review. The whole album is packed full of incredible, different songs, so as a musician fan (which I’m sure you are if you’re here), you should check this out. The first on this list to get a 9.5/10 and for good reason!

Listen to: Swear, The Rear View and Puppy Run

75: When Rivers Meet – Aces Are High

Some more swaggering bluesy country rock now, this time a married duo out of Essex. As I’m sure you’ll be aware by now, if it’s on this list, it’s a great album! However, the fact that the band can get this much sound from just the two of them is insanely impressive. And the combination of sounds and genres is infectiously enjoyable. Both their vocals are top notch throughout and play off each other perfectly, too.

If you’re into country or rock at all, this is definitely the album for you. And the fact that it’s 10 tight, fourish minute tracks means that it really is all killer and no filler. The band have gone from strength to strength the last few years or so, and this album has really cemented them as a powerhouse in the scene. We gave it a very deserving 9/10, and they’re another band that I can’t wait to see get even bigger in the years to come!

Listen to: Seen It All Before, Golden and Perfect Stranger

74: Arch Blade – Kill the Witch

Time for some more modern NWOBHM-style music, and I for one can’t get enough of the resurgence of the sound recently. At least in the UK and US, anyhow! Plus, they’ve only been together for four years now, so for the band to be putting out this high quality of music, especially as a debut album, is impressive to see.

The band do their sound very well. I know a couple of the members have been around the scene for a good few years now, but the talent of them to come together to make this level of music is undeniable. If you’re into Iron Maiden or Painkiller-era Judas Priest, this album feels like it’s created for you. Whether it’s slower, cleaner stuff or a more thrashy pace, they do it all so well. It was another deserving 9/10 from us!

Listen to: Kill the Witch, House of Dreams, Factory of Sin

73: Rancid – Tomorrow Never Comes

It pains me to put this band so low. I fucking LOVE Rancid. One of the many sounds of my childhood. And their first album in six years is a good one. Hence why it’s on this list. I’d honestly put the title track up their with their greatest hits. I’ve had it on a lot since it’s release. However, the rest of the album doesn’t quite live up to that lofty height, in my opinion.

Having said that, it’s still a Rancid album, so it’s still awesome. They are one of the modern kings of punk for a reason, and the album has the perfect mixture of fun and attitude to it. As an album as a whole it’s amazing, I think I’m just disappointed still that so many of the tracks are under two-minutes. But still, it’s hard not to have a smile on your face when you listen. It came out on the busiest week of the year for music and still got an 8.5/10 from me, so that should say a lot! There isn’t much punk on this list (SPOILER), so if you’re into the genre, listen to this!

Listen to: Tomorrow Never Comes, Devil in Disguise and Drop Dead Inn

72: Nothing But Thieves – Dead Club City

I did not expect to love this album as much as I do. I’d never really given the band a chance before, having seen them on Reading and Leeds line-ups and that was about it, so figured they weren’t very ‘rock’. Arguably, they aren’t. But, on the other hand, they are more-so than I had thought coming in. And, regardless, this is a great album. I’ve described it before as how I wish Twenty One Pilots had evolved, and I stand by that comment whole-heartly. It’s electro-infused pop rock, and it’s awesome.

I know this album and style overall certainly isn’t for everyone. However, it’s a solid album and more than deserves to make it onto this list. It’s full of great tracks that pretty much all vary, making for an interesting, fun listen. And there’s enough rock in here to keep everyone but the die-hard metalheads happy, I’m sure. It was an easy 8.5 from us, but it may be even higher now!

Listen to: Welcome to the DCC, Keeping You Around and Pop the Balloon

71: HARDBALL – Self-Titled

A rare modern grunge album now, and a damn good one at that. The band are the perfect blend of Nirvana and Seether, for the most part. I say that because the longer the album goes on, the heavier it gets. There are not only hints of metal, but of doom, which is a lot of fun and really interesting merged with grunge. It’s definitely not for everyone, but I really loved listening to it and have checked it out multiple times since it was first released. We gave it a whopping 9.5/10 in our review. But honestly, being someone who was raised on Nirvana from an early age, it’s hard to deny how not only great this album is but hopefully how important to the genre it will be moving forward!

Listen to: Just a Tree, Chili and Talk to Me

70: Electric Boys – Grand Explosivos

Goddamn, I love this band. They deserve to be so much bigger than they are. The funky bluesy rock Swedes proved that yet again with another incredible release. They’ve been one of the most consistently great 80s bands in terms of releases since their reunion in 2009, and this may be the best of them yet. Every track is a lot of fun, it’s 35 minutes of bouncy, swaggering awesomeness. They’re an effortlessly cool band, even at their age, and should be absolutely massive. It got a 9/10 from us, and I’ve not stopped listening to it since September.

Listen to: When Live Treats you Funky, Domestic Blitz and The Great Believer

69: Liv Sin – KaliYung

Time to boarder on power metal now, this album being a very epic heavy metal offering. It’s got a very European style to the sound (which makes sense given that they’re Swedish), giving off a blend of Doro, Powerwolf and Scorpions. And honestly, the heavier bits are where the album shines the most. The big riffs and screams are INCREDIBLE and won me over to this band on their last release, building on it perfectly with this one.

The album is chocked full of amazing songs, there not being a bad one on it. Much like a lot of this list, I really wish I could put this higher up. It’s an amazing release and really feels like the culmination of what they’ve done until this point. It got an 8.5/10 from us way back in January when we reviewed it. However, I’d easily push it up to a 9 now, as I still listen to a lot of it now, months later.

Listen to: King of Fools, Virus and Forget My Name

68: Miara – Hungering Inside

Somehow it’s been a little while since we’ve gotten this heavy on this list. However, this year has really been a resurgence of my love of melodeath/metalcore, and this album is one of the big reasons for that. Yet another phenomenal debut album on this list, the Italian band have found their sound immediately and performed it incredibly well. They’re one of my favourite new heavy finds of the year, and I think they’re going to be massive sooner rather than later if this release is anything to go by. It was another VERY easy 9/10 from us! Check this out immediately!

Listen to: Hungering Inside, The Gate of Hell and My Will Dominates

67: Green Lung – This Heathen Land

One of the rare entries onto this list that I didn’t write myself, rather my wonderful fiancé Jade did. However, seeing how much she loved it and being a fan of stonery, doomy rock, I checked it out and fully agree with her! It has maybe the best song they’ve done as an opener, channelling the best of Ghost energy. The rest of the album has more of a traditional, slightly heavier sound to it, but there are still elements of Ghost throughout that I love. It’s like theatrical stoner/doom, and I honestly can’t get enough.

Jade gave this album a 9/10 and I feel inclined to agree with her. It’s a solid album from front to back, and their sound is perfected from their previous releases. The band are a staple of the UK stoner rock scene, but I feel this album is set to catapult them across the globe!

Listen to: The Forest Church, Maxine (Witch Queen) and The Ancient Ways

66: Lauren Morrow – People Talk

I first discovered Lauren at the Long Road back in 2022. I became a big fan after that and was pretty hyped for this release. It didn’t at all disappoint, either. It’s the perfect chilled-out, old-school country album. Think a slower, more emotion-filled Dolly Parton. It’s very similar to Cam, who is easily one of my favourite artists of the year.

If you like your slower, more stripped-back country/folk music, this is the album for you. I gave it a 9.5/10 when I reviewed it back in March, and fully stand by that score today!

Listen to: It’s You, Looking for Trouble and Leona

65: King Abyss – Snake Oil

Thrash time, and this time a band from the same city as us, which is always exciting! These guys have had one hell of a year, and this album is very much a testament to that. It is an incredibly impressive thrash/death album. The riffing is incredible, the screams heavy and the production thankfully great. And, it’s so refreshing to hear a slower track like ‘Distain’ on a modern trash record. So many bands go balls-to-the-wall through, while this is a dark, Slayer-like masterpiece. we gave it an easy 9/10, and it’s one of the best heavy debuts of the year!

Listen to: Distain, Eyes Always Watching and Weapons of Mass Destruction

64: Degenerator – The Abyssal Throne

Maybe the most recent album on this list, being released only last month. It’s a masterpiece of atmospheric prog rock, though. It transitions from quieter, Tool-like parts to fuzzy desert rock to moody 2000s post-grunge with ease, the sounds surprisingly made for each other here. It may sound cheesy, but honestly this album is an experience. It’s made to be listened to in full while sat in a dark room on your own. I should know, I tried it. It’s one of the most atmospheric albums I’ve heard, end of, and honestly most of it isn’t even that proggy. It’s dark, brooding alt rock, and I love it. No matter what music you like, stop what you’re doing (wait, no, read our content first, of course) and listen to this album! We gave it a very easy 9/10.

Listen to: Finality, Hiraeth and The Day that Never Comes

63: Krashkarma – Falling to Pieces

More awesome metalcore, and this time from an insanely talented duo. It’s an incredible feat to write and perform all this between them both, especially when it’s all rather technical and insanely well written. There is plenty of heaviness throughout, while the melodic nature of the genre makes for a pretty catchy nature throughout. It’s equal parts In This Moment, Static X and bands like Fit for a King or Wage War.

For those of you into the more accessible side of heavy music, this is definitely for you. The duo have been going for a while now but this is my favourite release from them yet. I gave it an 8.5 when I first reviewed it but it’s easily gone up now!

Listen to: Falling to Pieces, Survive the Afterlife and Shut Up

62: Theory of a Deadman – Dinosaur

What a return to form this album is. After a rather badly received and generally poor previous release, Theory are back with a vengeance with Dinorsaur. For a start, the band return to their original heavier radio-rock sound, and the album is just packed full of great tracks. And it was nice to hear the return of their tongue-in-cheek more lighthearted bitchy songwriting on a few of the tracks, like ‘sick’. Sure, some of it is a tad cringy, but I feel like that’s kinda the point.

I was a big fan of this band in my teens and hearing them get back to this sound and quality just makes me happy. Sure, we gave it a 7.5, but it’s my list and I can do what I want, so it’s here! It’s a good album, I’d highly recommend checking it out!

We saw them live too! Check out our review of it here!

Listen to: Dinosaur, Medusa (Stone) and Ambulance

61: Evile – The Unknown

The final entry in this week’s part is more amazing UK thrash. When the band reformed a few years back, I was massively excited as I was a big fan as a kid. I have to admit their return album didn’t do a whole lot for me. This however… fuck, it’s a damn good metal album. The band almost step away from the genre for parts of this, it all having more of a doom/sludgy metal vibe. It’s a really cool sound and a phenomenal evolution. And yet there is still plenty of fast paced stuff too for the thrash fans!

If you’re a fan of the band, or of thrash, sludge or death metal, this album is a must for you to check out. It got an easy 9/10 from me back when it was released, and I haven’t stopped listening to it since!

Listen to: The Unknown, When Mortal Coils Shed and At Mirror’s Speech

New Music Mondays: Peter Gabriel, Full of Hell and More!

One of the last weeks of 2023 and we still have plenty of great new music to check out. Let’s dive right in!

Peter Gabriel: i/o

This has been a LOOOOONG time coming. Originally being spoke about in 2002 after the release of his previous album, it’s believed Gabriel started work on the album as early as 1995. 21 years between releases, especially when actively working on new music, is insane. Tool and System of a Down fans have nothing on Peter Gabriel fans, it seems!

The OG Genesis frontman put out a very interesting release after all that time, at least. It’s a double album, but the tracks on each mirror each other. However, both discs have a different mix of each track. It’s definitely an interesting idea, though does make for a long, somewhat exhausting listen for me. I was never the biggest Genesis or Gabriel fan when it came to full albums, and this is no different. Each disc is over an hour long, and all the expectedly similar slow, soft prog rock. I know this will have a lot of fans as it’s similar to all of his previous stuff, but it’s not for me at all. If you’re going to check out any of it, ‘The Court’ is probably the best of the bunch. 3.5/10

P.S. I also honestly didn’t hear enough of a difference in the mix to warrant putting out two different versions. The Dark-side mixes were generally a little more subtle so I gravitated towards them slightly more, but it really doesn’t actually matter. Sorry.

Full of Hell and Nothing: When No Birds Sang

Two widely different bands came together to form this album. The former is a grindcore band and a modern legend in their scene. The other is a Shoegaze band (Yes, I too had to Google what the hell Shoegaze is). To my absolute shock, the genres actually combine together surprisingly well. Much like Gabriel above, it’s not exactly my sort of thing. However, the dark, brooding, atmospheric tone throughout the album is awesome, and makes tracks like ‘Forever Well’ and ‘When No Birds Sang’ rather enjoyable. Honestly, I’d probably enjoy this collaboration more than either of their solo stuff. As an album as a whole, it’s far greater than any of its individual tracks. And for that, it easily gets a 7/10 from us!

Dowsing: No One Said This Would Be Easy

The Chicagoan indie/emo/punk band are back with their fifth album. It’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a band in the genre. It reminds me a lot of Taking Back Sunday’s more recent releases, but injected with an almost skater punk energy at times too. I can hear everything from Goldfinger to Flagpole Sitta.

The tracks are short and sweet, none even reaching the four minute mark, and are very to the point. And, most importantly, they’re all good songs. Tracks like ‘Being Real’ and the beautifully depressing ‘RMT’ are personal album highlights for me, but there isn’t a bad track on here. Sure, it carries on this week’s trend of being all pretty similar music, but it’s hard to complain when it’s all of this high a calibre. If anyone wants some good depressing music, especially when it’s rather chilled and up-tempo, you need to check this out immediately. 8/10

The Alchemy: Somewhere // Anywhere

We’ve already covered this awesome album! Check it out here.

Beans on Toast: The Toothpaste and the Tube

Owen: Self proclaimed foolhardy folk singer Beans on Toast is back with his annual instalment of simple songs and catchy rhymes with a message. Releasing an album every year on his birthday since 2009, fans of Beans already know what they are in for with this album given the state of world politics and events of this year. Thankfully, there are tracks of levity simply about good times had touring around the country and still finding new things to explore.

Having followed the career of Beans on Toast for a number of years now what stood out to me most about this release was the polished sound of the overall production. The tracks are very much still classic Beans but with a backing band and an eclectic assortment of other supporting instruments the album is given an elevated feeling when compared with previous releases. A stand out track for me is ‘The Golden Lion’, which tells an interesting story about pub found along his travels and the regulars met there. This one feels like a story that only Beans on Toast could tell in any effective manner. 8/10

Liam Cromby: What Can I Trust, If I Can’t Trust True Love

The debut album of the British indie singer-songwriter is finally here after much anticipation. After multiple singles released in the build-up throughout the year, I can’t wait to check out the whole album and see if it’s just as good!

Honestly, it’s a fun yet incredibly emotional release. Whether it’s slow, folky ballads like ‘At This Table’ or more up-tempo bangers like the opener, it’s diverse and constantly interesting. And yet it all feels like one cohesive release. Everything flows together perfectly and the same story and emotion is felt throughout. And it’s a truly beautiful, chilled-out release, too. It’s the perfect combination of British and American indie sounds, folk and even Americana and country.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a tad slow overall for my liking. It did get a little samey by the last couple of tracks or so. However, it is the perfect album tor relax to, as there really isn’t a bad track on it. And if you’re into this sort of music, you’ll absolutely love this. And for that reason, it’s a solid 7.5/10

Cobra Spell: 666

The second coming of the 80’s glam metal revival is in full swing, and these ladies are really proving to be leading the pack. Whether it’s awesome riffs, soaring vocals or insane leads, the band encapsulate the very best of the sunset strip sound from decades prior. Whether it’s Guns ‘n Roses, Whitesnake or Motley Crue, the band certainly wear their inspirations on their sleeve. However, they still have a modern twist to their sound, also reminding me a little of the likes of Inglorious and Wayward Sons. And I’d put these tracks up there with some of the top glam tracks from all the bands I’ve mentioned.

‘Satan is a Woman’, ‘Bad Girl Crew’ and ‘Warrior From Hell’ are modern glam classics and easily highlights of the album. Meanwhile ‘Fly Away’ is an epic, emotional, awesome ballad. As a debut album, this is incredibly impressive. Their sound is incredible and they all play their parts perfectly. The band have a very bright future ahead of them if this release is anything to go by, the sky is the limit. And, in terms of this release, it’s a very easy 9/10!

Plastic Barricades: We Stayed Indoors

The British indie rock band released their third album this last week. We’re actually a little familiar with the band here at Overtone, as I reacted to one of the singles of this album way back at the start of the year (find it below!). I remember loving the track at the time so can’t wait to hear the rest of the album.

Much like a lot of the music this week, it’s a pretty chilled out, atmospheric release. It feels like the perfect blend of modern indie and old school, 70s and 80s pop. Think Pulp, The Cure or even Bowie meets Almost Monday or The Gaslight Anthem. Tracks like ‘Forever Is Made of Nows’ and of course my favourite, ‘Lucid in the Fall’, are major highlights for me. I’m honestly shocked they’re not bigger, as this sound is really starting to come back in a major way. This album deserves to be the one to catapult them into the mainstream! It’s an honestly beautiful album and, while not quite my sort of thing, I can still appreciate how amazing it is. 8/10

The Top Albums of 2023!

The most wonderful and not at all stressful time of the year is upon us yet again. And yes, if you look at the first number on the list, I’ve gone utterly insane. My top 100 albums of the year, in what I believe to be chronological order. Now, of course, this is full of disclaimers.

1) This is solely my opinion. If you disagree, that’s perfectly alright. Please let me know on our socials (NICELY) what you think it should be instead!

2) there have been 468 albums covered by us this year. An album not being on the list does by no means mean it wasn’t good. There were so many albums I wished made this list, but I couldn’t quite make it happen.

3) Yes, I know there are still albums to come out this year. I’m sure the likes of Beans on Toast and Bad Touch would make it on this list given the chance. However, I don’t have time to wait until the middle of December. So, from now on, this list will run November – November!

So, with all the formalities out the way, let’s get on with it shall we?

100: Crypta – Shades of Sorrow

These first few (30 odd) are going to pain me to put in this position. This is a damn solid death metal album from the Brazilian ladies. The band’s second album is crushingly brutal at times, lightening quick at others, yet still has enough melody to hook in a new listener. Fernanda Lira’s growls and screams are even better than on the band’s debut, and new addition Jéssica di Falchi on lead guitar fits in perfectly and is a real highlight of the album at times.

We gave this album a very respectable 8/10 in our review. When some bands slump on a sophomore album, Crypta run, and show that they are very much the future of heavy music if this release is anything to go by!

Listen to: Poisonous Apathy, The Other Side of Anger and Lord of Ruins

99: Alana Springsteen – TWENTY SOMETHING

Talk about whiplash, and we’re only two entries in! The first of a number of country albums on this list comes curtesy of Alana’s debut full-length. I first discovered her when she got announced for The Long Road festival this year (review of the event here) and since then she has exploded with the release of more singles and this album. It’s easy to see why, too. It’s well written country-pop, and Alana has a fantastic voice.

There are two reasons as to why she is a little low down on this list. The first, which is a recurring issue with a lot of country this year, including on this list, is that it’s too long. There are plenty of great tracks on this album, but it does feel rather front-loaded and by 8/9 tracks in I felt like I’d practically heard all the album had to offer. The second is that it’s definitely on the more pop than country side. Still, we gave this an 8.5 and it fully deserves that score. It’s a damn good album!

P.S. having Chris Stapleton on a track and NOT having him sing is a silly idea, regardless of how good the song is.

Listen to: you don’t deserve a country song, hypocrite and ghost in my guitar

98: KK’s Priest – The Sinner Rides Again

Onto some old-school NWOBHM now from the Judas Priest alumni. Anyone who is familiar with the band, Priest or the genre they came from knows exactly what to expect from this album. Because of that, it’s honestly quite hard to talk much about the album. I think we did pretty good in our review here. 9/10 is definitely what this album is worth. Everyone fires on all cylinders throughout, playing their asses off, and KK’s one of the best songwriters in the genre today. If you’re a fan of 70s metal, this one is definitely for you!

Listen to: Sons of the Sentinel, One More Shot at Glory, Wash Away Your Sins

97: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – PetroDragonic Apocalypse…

Y’all know I ain’t typing that whole title, we’ll be here all day if I do. The Australian multi-genre band put out two albums this year, but this one was the highlight by far. It’s a stoner/grunge metal album, and a fucking great one at that. Don’t get me wrong, The Silver Chord is a good album too, but completely different and not really my sort of thing. Meanwhile, this is peak Gizzard, and a sound I wish they’d explore far more regularly.

The band constantly explore with styles and sounds, more so than practically any other, and while their more easy-listening, funky stuff is generally more popular (and I love that too), there is something about this level of energy and passion missing from a lot of their other music. It’s been a few years at this point since they’ve explored the heavier side of their sound, but given how well it’s gone down, they’ll surely do this more often as a result! A very deserved 8.5 from us!

Listen to: Motor Spirit, Witchcraft and Dragon

96: Morgan Wallen – One Thing at a Time

A controversial one now, and this early too.

What can I say about this album that hasn’t already been said? The biggest breakout star of the year, and one of the biggest names in the music world this year, country or otherwise. He’s on the highest grossing tour in country of 2023, and sold out the O2 in London in no time at all. So, after all of that, you may be thinking, why is it so low down? Well, dear reader, it’s 36 tracks long. nearly TWO FUCKING HOURS. There is only so much similar, slow-ish country I can take before getting bored, and it’s a hell of a lot less than 36 songs.

However, at the same time, it’s the album that’s given us tracks like ‘Tennessee Fan’, the awesome ‘Man Made a Bar’ with megastar Eric Church, and of course arguably the biggest song of the year, ‘Last Night’. There are a lot of amazing songs on the album, but also a lot of filler. And it’s a bit of a slog to get through too, the album spreads out the killer between a lot of slower stuff. Still, I was a little harsh when I reviewed it, and would probably give it a 7.5 now!

Listen to: Last Night, Man Made a Bar and One Thing At a Time

95: TesseracT – War Of Being

I have to admit, when I first listened to this I loved it, and it started a lot higher up on the list. However, when I checked it out again to write it, I found myself slightly disappointed. It’s still a cracking prog-metal album, don’t get me wrong, but it didn’t go quite as hard a lot of the time as I thought it did. However, there were plenty of times, during the opener, ‘The Grey’ and title track specifically, where I did love it still and completely get it.

It’s very much an album to listen to as a whole than individual tracks. And, in that sense, it’s phenomenal. And from a instrumental and writing standpoint, they are practically unmatched in their genre. A spoiler for those looking, this album is on the list but Periphery isn’t. That’s how good these guys are. And, as you can see below, the videos are incredible. we gave it an 8.5 and honestly, after multiple listens, I stand by that and it’s making it onto this list!

Listen to: Natural Disaster, War of Being, Echos

94: Marty Stuart – Altitude

The country legend himself has no right still making music this good. It’s a lot more chilled out than most country on this list, but is also a traditional sound in the genre that is pulled off to perfection. ‘Country Star’ is up there with any of his extensive back catalogue, in my opinion. It’s just a damn fun listen, and if anyone reading this is into country, it’s a must listen. Sure, it isn’t as high as a fair bit of the other country on this list, but that doesn’t take away from it’s quality at all. This is an awesome old-school album, and is only higher because it doesn’t bring anything new to the table. It got 8 from us but I’d happily add another .5 to that!

Listen to: Country Star, A Friend of Mine and Time to Dance

93: Otherwise – Gawdzillionare

Heading way back towards the start of the year now with the Vegas radio-rockers. My feelings on the album haven’t really changed since I did my review back in March, though. A great sound and some amazing tracks, but also some filler and a lot of similar stuff. The highs are ridiculously high, like the opener and title track. And the addition of pop and hip-hop elements into the early 2000s rock is really interesting. It’s a very good album, but does start to wear a tad thin by the end. Still, the tracks mentioned previously alone score it a place on this list!

Listen to: Full Disclosure, Gawdzillionaire, Excorsism

92: Alice Cooper – Road

After a questionable release in 2021, the godfather of shock-rock returned with maybe the most Alice Cooper album in decades. It’s dark classic rock, and a hell of a lot of fun. Much like KK earlier, if you know the style and sound, this is exactly what you’d expect, and it’s awesome. Between catchy as anything vocals, awesome playing and some truly interesting arrangements including horns, it’s just great. Also, it features one of Tom Morello’s best guest features on ‘White Line Frankenstein’, so what’s not to love?

It pains me to put Alice this low, but this year has been one hell of a year. Still, he got a 9/10 from us, and still makes the list!

Listen to: I’m Alice, All Over the World and The Big Goodbye

91: Staind – Confessions of the Fallen

I’m sure some of you may laugh at this band being here, but the truth is that their return album is fucking good. The first album from the band in over a decade brings back the heaviness of their early work, while at the same time producing catchy-ass radio-rock and the odd great ballad they are known for! Aaron sounds just as good as ever and proves that he’s still great at writing early 2000s, moody radio-rock. I’ve been a fan of the band since I was a kid and this made me very happy, both from nostalgia and being genuinely good. If you are one of those who dismissed this comeback before hearing it, I’d definitely recommend checking it out. It’s a fun, heavy radio rock album! 8.5/10 is very fitting for it!

Listen to: Cycle of Hurting, Confessions of the Fallen and Here and Now

90: Metallica – 72 Seasons

Another potentially controversial one as I know there are many out there that are big into this album. And they have reason to be, it’s not a bad album by any stretch. However, when compared to their last couple of albums, it feels like they’re stuck in neutral, or even took a step back. There is some great thrash on this record, but it also kinda felt mostly forgettable for me. Outside of a couple of amazing tracks, it all felt very run of the mull post-St Anger Metallica. None of it feels like it holds a candle to ‘Moth Into the Flame’, ‘Halo on Fire’ or even ‘All Nightmare Long’.

The band have absolutely nothing to prove, to me or anyone else. And again, it’s still a damn good metal album, hence it’s spot on this list. But considering they are still one of my favourite bands 15 years after me first getting into them, I feel like they could do a little better than this, hence why it’s only at 90. A solid 8.5 from us still, though!

Listen to: Lux Aeterna, 72 Seasons and You Must Burn!

89: Overkill – Scorched

More thrash now, and it was released on the same day as Metallica. So, this is probably yet another controversial placement. However, this is exceptionally good thrash metal from a band that have been doing it for over 40 years solid and have really honed their craft. The riffs are awesome, the drumming incredible, and the production is top notch. If you’re into thrash, there’s not much better in 2023 than this album (apart from a couple later). It’s a foot-stomping, head-banging awesome fucking album, and you should all check it out immediately. It rightfully got a 9 from us!

Listen to: Scorched, Harder They Fall and Twist of the Wick

88: Before the Dawn – Stormbringers

The return album of Tuomas Saukkonen’s solo melodeath project hasn’t quite held up on a second listen from me. It’s a great album for sure, combining elements of gothic and power metal into the death, but it wasn’t quite as good as I remember it being. Having said that, I still agree with the 9/10 we gave it in our review. It’s objectively a great album, just sadly not quite as good as I remember. Still, there is a HELL of a lot to love with this release, and my only real complaint is that it’s over after just eight full tracks. Tuomas’s screams are incredible, his cleans are powerful, and the whole band play their asses off throughout. If you’re into the genre, you’re bound to love this!

Listen to: Reveries, Downhearted and Chaos Star

87: Phil Campbell & the Bastard Sons – Kings of the Asylum

I really, really wanted this to be higher. I am a huge fan of this band and their last two albums have been up towards the top spots in their respective years. And I know a lot of their fans love this album and were pissed at my review as it is. And, after three months of sitting on it, I think I understand the reason why, for both points.

It’s very Motorhead. Now, I love Lemmy’s baby as much as the next guy, but I was really enjoying Phil infusing the punky rock style with more of his blues and hard rock influences. Stuff like ‘Dark Days’ and ‘Born to Roam’ are some of my favourite tracks from the band and are on the slower side. They help break up the album a bit, too. This album is full to the brim of fast paced, punk inspired rock ‘n roll. That’s awesome, and there are definitely a lot of great tracks on it. But it’s just less of an album for me than the others.

Now that I’ve covered my back for the 7.5/10 score, I do still think it’s a great album and worth being higher than some other albums that got 8+. The scores are as much about my personal opinion as anything else, and this album is objectively great, even if it’s not as much what I wanted as a couple of the previous ones. There’s plenty of highlights and greatness from the NWOCR mainstays, though!

Listen to: Hammer And Dance, Kings of the Asylum and The Hunt

86: Frail – Stand by Me in the Storm

This is another album that’s been up and down this list like a yoyo. The alt/atmospheric rock band’s latest offering is damn enjoyable, that’s for sure. As an album as a whole, it’s got a great sound and energy to it and I’ve listened to it in its entirety multiple times since its release. If you’re into the dark, moody, brooding side of European rock, you’ll love this a lot. And it has a great heaviness to it too, with some awesome screams spread throughout.

So, why is it not higher? It’s a mixture of there being so many insanely good albums having been released this year, and that there wasn’t one or two tracks individually that stood out to me. As good as they all are, I haven’t really listened to the tracks on their own without the rest of the album too. It still got a massively deserving 9/10 from us, and I still can’t wait to hear more from them!

Listen to: Mirror, Children of Depravity and Come Back to Me

85: Urne – A Feast on Sorrow

This albums was a lot like the Phil Campbell one earlier in the list, for me. I absolutely adored this band’s debut album a couple of years back, yet this one didn’t quite grip me in the same way. And again, it is an objectively fantastic album from a heavy music perspective, and I know there are a LOT of fans of it. I think for me it took a step away from the Gojira sound and more into a more hardcore direction. I love that the band are taking a step towards their own sound, it’s just not quite to my taste.

Still, their musicianship is still off the charts good, as is their composition and songwriting skill. They are one of the most talented bands in the scene today, and have crafted some incredible tracks for this offering. If you’re into the heavy stuff I’d still very highly recommend checking this out! I enjoyed it more on my first listen, but I’d say it still deserves the 9/10 we gave it!

Listen to: Becoming The Ocean, The Burden and Peace

84: Paramore – This is Why

This lands on this list largely from a nostalgia reason than anything else. I wasn’t even the biggest fan of Paramore in my youth, but tracks like ‘This is Why’ and ‘The News’ reminded me a lot of sitting around at a friends house at like 13, not having a care in the world, and just made me happy. And, from what I understand, it wasn’t just me who thought this album (or at least half of it) was a welcome return to rock music from the band. It’s been popping off since it’s release and has even been nominated for a Grammy. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t go that far, but it is a damn good album. Even the slower, more soft pop-rock stuff in the latter half is a great listen. It feels like an amalgamation of everything Paramore have done up until this point, and got a very deserving 8.5 from us!

Listen to : This is Why, The News and C’est Comme Ca

83: Nouveau Arcade – Dead Hearts

A bit of a wildcard entry, this one, as it’s not particularly rock music, for the most part. However, what it is is a damn good new wave/synth/industrial pop album. It’s a truly interesting listen that even at over an hour never once gets boring or drags. There are so many different styles blended together that it’s a real testament to how good the songwriting is. There are plenty of highlights throughout, as shown in our review! If anyone here is a fan of 70s and 80s pop music or the new synthwave revolution, check this out immediately! Another solid 9/10

Listen to: Run Boy Run, Die on me Now and Only Happy When it Rains

82: From Ashes to New – Blackout

This album kinda came out of nowhere for me. I was familiar with the name of the band but that was about it, so for me to love this album so much is awesome. I pretty much covered all my feelings about the album in my review but to summarise: I love the rappy, Papa Roach-inspired nu metal sound that the band have going on, and they have written numerous bangers across the album. If this had come out in the early 2000s or late 90s, they’d be one of the biggest bands on the planet currently.

My only slight negative that pushed it down the list a little is that it’s a little cringy, isn’t it? It’s rather angsty and edge, and I think with me now being closer to 30, it doesn’t resonate with me as much as it would a decade ago. Still, I’ve listened to this a lot since it came out in July, and I probably won’t stop any time soon! Another solid 8.5/10

Listen to: Nightmare, Until we Break and Heartache

81: White Rose Motor Oil – The Gift of Poison

This is a REALLY interesting entry into this list. Very much a DIY band, it’s honestly criminal that this band aren’t bigger. It’s an album packed full of incredibly catchy, massively underrated country/folk music with a tinge of rock. It is packed full of highlight tracks, catchy vocal lines and some awesome instrumentation. It’s the perfect album to throw on and chill out to! It got one of the easiest 9/10‘s I’ve given out all year when I reviewed it. No matter what sort of music you’re into, check this out! They deserve it!

Listen to: Red Light, Ain’t No Saint and Meet Me at the Bottom

Somewhere // Anywhere: The Album to push The Alchemy Into the Mainstream?

The Alchemy are back with their third album this week. I have to admit, outside of the name and the stuff I’ve found on Spotify, I have absolutely no idea what to expect here. But hey, going in blind is always fun, right? Let’s dive right in!

A HUGE sound opens ‘Birdsong’, the high production value being evident immediately. It’s a wall of sound that builds perfectly but doesn’t at all feel too overpowered like it can tend to. We head into a stripped-back verse, the vocals sounding perfectly over the top of the simple drums and bass. The chorus soon comes in, another awesome riff behind it, the drums fitting perfectly behind it, and the vocals being infectiously catchy. The backing vocals are awesome and main riff is a real earworm. It feels very Lower than Atlantis in the best ways. The bridge is simple yet effective, dropping down and building up to a huge final chorus. It’s a fantastic way to open the album and introduce themselves to new listeners!

‘Lovesick’ continues the epic feel and sound and production, as well as another awesome main riff. It follows a similar formula to the previous track, a stripped back verse leading into a huge, arena-filling chorus. Again, the vocal harmonies and multi-track are a big highlight. Also, the slightly heavier approach to the bridge was great. If it had quietened down at first, it could have almost been a breakdown! It’s a really great track and easily makes it onto our playlist!

Check out a similar(ish) review here!

The album slows up a bit for its title track, it having more of an electronic, almost You Me At Six feel. The emphasis shifts from the big crunchy riffs and even more onto the insanely catchy vocals. It feels a bit more pop/indie than the previous stuff. It’s not quite as much my sort of thing, but it’s still a banging, very catchy song!

The same could be said for ‘True Love’s a Waste of Time’, ‘Real Life’ and ‘Sun Bleached’. It’s kind of a tale of two halves, as there are heavier tracks and riffs later on like the amazing ‘Brothers’ and the dark, closer ‘Hollywood’. Both tracks are amazing and real highlights of the album for me personally. It’s really interesting to bookend the album with the bigger sounds and riffs, leaving the poppier, more indie stuff in the middle. It’s really interesting and well put together honestly, and I feel like I’ve taken a journey listening to it through.

Also on the album is single and acoustic ballad, ‘Summer’. It gives me early 2000’s vibes, very Incubus, 311 or even Everlast. It’s a beautiful and incredibly well written song. The vocals are pitch-perfect and full of emotion, and the simple instrumentation behind it is amazing. And the band still manage to squeeze in some of their off-the-charts vocal harmonies, making it all somehow even better. This is not only one of the best tracks on the album, but easily one of the best ballads of the year I’ve heard. Fucking awesome stuff.

‘Normal People’ returns the band to the higher pace rock vibe, and it can’t be just me that hears U2 a lot in here? Between the huge sound, the style of guitaring and the vocal melodies, it really reminded my of Bono and co. Surprisingly enough too, I’m not particularly a U2 fan but I LOVED this. It’s the biggest, most radio-friendly chorus on the album, and the ‘woh’s following the guitar melody is a genius idea. And the bridge, while simple, is amazingly effective and still pretty heavy. Another track that easily makes its way onto our playlist!

Finally, ‘Glass Houses’ has a very early 2000s Red Hot Chili Peppers feel to it. It has elements of rock, funk and indie all mushed together, and it’s a really interesting sound. It’s another simple yet incredibly effective track too. The chorus is awesome, and that riff that kicks in after the choruses are heavy. It’s a lot of fun and another track I’d highly recommend listening to.

Overall: This is an awesome album! I had no idea what to expect heading into it, but I’m hugely impressed by what I found. The production throughout is top notch and the songwriting and playing is phenomenal. Sure, there were a couple of tracks that didn’t resonate with me as much as the others, but there is a LOT I love on this album. And, as a whole as I’ve said already, it’s incredibly well put together. These guys have hit their stride with this album, and I can see it pushing them far!

The Score: 8.5/10

New Music Mondays: Guided By Voices, Almost Honest and More!

As we reach the end of the year, typically the releases slow up a little. However, here we are, at the end of November and still with a pretty stacked week of new music. Let’s dive in and check it out!

Guided By Voices: Nowhere to Go But Up

The Ohioan indie rock band have been going for 40 years at this point, which is insane to think about. What’s even more insane is that this is the second album we’ve covered by them on this series this year alone, and their third release of the year. Their last album, Welshpool Frillies only came out back in July. We gave it a 6.5 (find the review here). Honestly, it’s so hard not to compare this release to that one. And, overall, my feelings are pretty similar. It’s fine. There are enjoyable tracks like ‘Puncher’s Parade’ and ‘Jack of Legs’. And there are also tracks that bored me a tad and I’d happily not listen to again.

I feel like this band suffer from the same issue as Weezer have in the past. While I admire the hell out of their insane work ethic, they leave absolutely nothing on the cutting-room floor. They’ve released 37 tracks this year alone, 137 in this decade and we’re only four years into it. Even if they were the greatest songwriters in the world, that’s a fucking lot. It feels like there is no quality control here. I’d rather have had one album this year by them filled with 11-15 of the best tracks across the three albums, than three releases with a tonne of filler.

I’m sure this band have plenty of fans that will love this album. However, I am not one of them. This felt weaker than their previous release, despite a few highlight tracks, so this gets a 5/10

Almost Honest: The Hex of Penns Woods

We’ve already checked out this awesome album. Read the full review here!

NOPROPHECY: As the Bridge Collapses

The debut album of Singapore’s own modern metal band, NOPROPHECY, is finally out. After the release of their debut EP back in 2016, we have been slowly drip-fed releases by the band, including two singles from this upcoming album this year. It has all lead to their much anticipated debut through Rockshots Records, which I cannot wait to check out!

Honestly, it’s really damn good. The perfect blend of black, death metalcore, it’s packed full of amazing riffing, insane drumming and plenty of incredible screams and clean vocals. The heavy parts are the highlight for me personally, but the cleans are just as good. The dynamic between the two vocals is massively entertaining, too. Tracks like the title one (that breakdown at the end, *chef’s kiss*), singles ‘Ghost of Yesterday’ and ‘Broken’, and ‘Higanbana’ are all massive highlights. However, there really isn’t a bad track on the album. Honestly, my only issue with the album is that it’s only nine tracks long, especially when one is an intro track! 

As a debut album, it’s ridiculously impressive. Their brand of heaviness honestly feels pretty unique, blending together so many styles and influences that I honestly cannot think of a band to compare them to overall. It can both make you want to bang your head and mosh and then also sing along to the epic chorus within seconds of the same song. I cannot wait to hear where the band go from here, because after this release, they should be well on their way to becoming massive in the scene. 9/10

Silent Angel: Unyielding, Unrelenting

One of the best genres of the year, power metal, is getting another top notch release courtesy of the Italian/Malaysian band. The album has been a long time coming, with single ‘Tears of Celestine’ being written back in 2015, when the band first reformed. So, to hear it finally released after all these years is something really special. And for that single to slowly translate into a full debut album after all these years, I cannot wait to hear what guitarist Eric “StormBlade” Poon has in store for us!

An epic intro track leads perfectly into opener ‘Against the Tides’. It sets up the album perfectly, having an old-school NWOBHM vibe as well as the obvious power and symphonic metal sounds. From there on out it’s just one symphonic power metal banger after another. Tracks like ‘A Destiny In Shadows’ and ‘When Dusk Meets Dawn’ are early Nightwish in the best ways. Meanwhile, ‘Through Selene’s Eyes’ is a beautiful, powerful ballad that rivals just about any other in the genre. The album is solid throughout though, and if anyone is into the genre at all, they’ll find a lot to love with this release. 8/10

Wet Cactus: Magma Tres

The Spanish desert rockers returned with their third studio album this week. I wasn’t familiar with the band until this point, but they most certainly have a new fan in me! Right from opening track ‘Barren Landscape’ they had me hooked with their grungy, stoner sound. It feels like the perfect blend of Queens of the Stone Age, Black Sabbath and Alice in Chains, and I love it. There are also hints of Tool in there with more proggy tracks like ‘Mirage’. Heck, the first two plus minutes of ‘Million Tears’ is an INCREDIBLE build-up that serves the rest of the track perfectly. It’s my favourite track on the album, and a true testament to the band’s skill in writing that they can do somehow proggy desert rock.

There really isn’t a bad track on the album, either. The tracks mentioned above are for sure highlights, as is ‘Hell Dweller’. However, the album is incredibly well crafted, with no sound or style ever dragging or feeling overused. I didn’t get in any way bored while listening to this, and it went by far too quick. It’s arranged perfectly and each style compliments each other amazingly. If you’re a fan of rock in general, you have to check this out, it’s an incredible album! 9.5/10

Yesterday’s Hero: Ways to Hate

We’ve also managed to check out this album in full too! Check it out here!

Pessimystic: Burnt Offering

The debut album of Canadian heavy band Pessimystic is up next. Blending black and death metal together pretty seamlessly, the album is an all out assault in the best way. It’s heavy, technical and surprisingly epic. It’s very atmospheric, and tracks like ‘Visions’ and the title track paint a really fantastic scene with their music. It feels like a blend of Behemoth and Machine Head, taking some of the best parts of each. 

My only slight issue is that it’s far too short. At only five tracks long, it might as well be an EP. However, I think that with the song lengths it just about qualifies as an album, in my eyes anyway. But yeah, more of this, please. MUCH more. And this is coming from someone who typically isn’t a black/extreme metal fan all that much. However, Pessimystic have something special going on here, and I cannot wait to hear more already! 7/10

Degenerator: The Abyssal Throne

Firstly, we need to talk about this absolutely stunning album artwork. It’s incredible. Props to the artist, it may be my favourite album sleeve of the year!

I have no idea how to describe this music. Equal parts prog, post-grunge, alt metal, doom and tech, it really is in a world of its own. And, honestly, it’s awesome. The opener alone goes through sounds like Sevendust, Bush, Tool (sorry, it’s a very Tool-y week!) and Lonely the Brave. Then the following tracks take that formula and run with it, as well as turning it up to 11. Tracks like ‘Finality’, ‘Darkness Prevails’ and ‘Hiraeth’ are personal favourites of mine. However, everything on the album is fucking phenomenal. It honestly gives me first time listening to Lateralus vibes, which I definitely don’t say lightly!

It is both a blessing and a curse that a lot of this album sounds similar. On the one hand, it’s nearly 50-minutes of dark, brooding awesomeness. However, I feel like 11 tracks that are pretty samey can put at least a few listeners off. For once, thankfully, I am in the former camp. This is the perfect album to sit down and listen through in a single sitting. So, if you’re into more proggy, concepty stuff, grab a drink and sit in a dark room to check this out. You definitely won’t be disappointed! 9/10

Noturnall: Cosmic Redemption

Not ones to slouch or relax at all, the band’s latest album drops while they are currently on tour with Iron Maiden legend Paul Di’Anno. One of Brazil’s biggest musical exports, the band are back with their fourth studio album. And, honestly, it’s a bit good. Those who are familiar with the band will know exactly what to expect out of their sound, and they pull it off to perfection these days. A modern twist on NWOBHM, it reminds me a lot of the recent KK’s Priest, Burning Witches or even Dragonforce albums.

It’s nothing bad at all, but also certainly isn’t anything new. Tracks like ‘Reset the Game’, ‘Scream! For! Me!!!’ and the epic ‘Shallow Grave’ are all great and certainly highlights. However, with such an abundance of this music these days, and so much of it being done perfectly, I probably won’t listen to this much moving forward. Plus, at over an hour across just 11 songs, fuck is it long. 7.5/10

Pete Briley: Album #1

rock singer-songwriter Pete Briley released his much anticipated debut album last Friday. The Outlaw Orchestra multi-instrumentalist takes a small step away from the country/bluegrass sound and more towards indie and 70s/80s pop rock with this release. Tracks like ‘Elvis’ and ‘Sick and Tired’ remind me of the perfect blend of Band of Horses and David Bowie. Meanwhile ‘Ronda’ and other tracks go back to the more blues/folk sound that fans of his are probably more used to.

It’s a beautiful, chilled collection of songs. Pete’s done an amazing job arranging the tracks and in writing such a varied, interesting selection of music. ‘Angels Ain’t Singing My Name’ is a personal favourite of mine. The intensely emotional, personal track resonated massively with me, especially for such a stripped-back track. The same could be said about most of his lyrics, though. They’re masterfully written and will most likely ring true for a lot of peoples’ feelings these days. ‘Right Place, Wrong Time’ and ‘Highflyer’ are also massive album highlights.

Honestly, if you are into the softer side of music, check this out as soon as you can. Pete is one hell of a songwriter and has produced something that feels wholly unique with this release. I can’t think of anything I’ve checked out recently that sounds like this, and that’s certainly a good thing! It’ll more than tide me over until the upcoming Orchestra release, and I’ll be having this on a lot in the coming weeks! 9/10

i Helvete: Yksi Yhteinen Yhteiskunta

Yep, I have no idea how to pronounce that album title either. However, it’s time for some extreme metal all the way from Finland, so I’m pretty damn excited!

It’s certainly extreme metal, that’s for sure. The combination of the atmosphere from black metal and the aggression of death metal is merged perfectly by the band. The real highlight for me is the instrumentation. On tracks like ‘KKK’ and ‘Valittu Kansa’, the bridge and solo parts have a real epic feel to them, adding so much to an otherwise rather straight-forward song. Having said that, the cleaner, more operatic vocals on tracks like ‘Uuden Ajan ABC’ were also amazing. As someone who’s not the biggest black metal fan, the band adding this to keep their sound varied and interesting had me hooked throughout. The listener is constantly kept guessing as to where the band would go from here, and that for one deserves massive props.

Don’t get me wrong, this still isn’t particularly my sort of thing. I wouldn’t optionally listen to this. However, it’s that well written and performed that I definitely wouldn’t turn it off if it was on, and I would love to see it live! If you’re into the heavy stuff, you’ll love this! 7/10

Paradogmata: Endetid

We keep it heavy to finish the week, with Norwegian thrash/death metal. And, as if to keep up with the tradition of the week, it’s a LOOONG album. 10 tracks at just over an hour. Strap in, ladies and gentlemen!

I absolutely love the slow, dark, almost satanic sound that starts the album. It gets heavier, veering into the death metal, but builds up pretty perfectly into the higher tempo across the opening two minutes. From there, ‘Endetidsbundet’ continues to be an awesome track. Meanwhile, tracks like single ‘The Seeds of Greed’ and ‘?’ are balls to the wall thrash death, and they’re awesome. However I have to admit, surprisingly I find myself enjoying the slower, more atmospheric tracks more, like ‘The Cleansing Flood’. Plus, Chris Hathcock’s vocals on the track are incredible and work so well with the rest of the music. It almost has an early Volbeat feel to it, and is definitely a highlight track!

Overall, there really isn’t a bad track on this album. Honestly, describing this as just thrash or death metal almost feels like a disservice. There is more going on here. There’s elements of black and extreme metal, but also doom, sludge, and groove. It feels pretty interesting unique, and I enjoyed it a lot. I’ll definitely be listening to this again, a fair bit in the coming weeks! 8/10

The Hex of Penns Woods: Almost Honest Come Out of the Gate Swinging!

The awesome stoner/doom rock newcomers Almost Honest are set to release their debut album this coming Friday. We’ve already chatted to the band about it (find that here) and now we’re finally gonna check it out!

A very stoner riff opens ‘Alien Spiders’, the instruments building in pretty perfectly into a crescendo. Even as it explodes in with the full track, all three instruments remain right at the forefront, all a highlight in their own way. I have to say, it might have been nice to have another guitar to fill out the sound a little, but it still sounded awesome. The backing vocals add so much to the catchiness and overall sound, too. The chorus is awesome and the whole track just as a bouncy, fun aspect to it. It’s like the perfect blend of Red Fang and old-school Queens of the Stone Age. The bridge/solo is of course more awesome playing from the incredibly talented band, and the song ends with a big final chorus. What a fantastic way to open the album and a great introduction to the band!

Single ‘Amish Hex’ the grungy, stonery riff vibes perfectly. I get pretty awesome The Sword energy from it all, too. The rest of the band explode in and fill out the song perfectly, like I was expecting them to do in the previous track. It’s a HUGE sound. The vocals sound fantastic over the top of the steady verse and awesome drumbeat. Also, the harmonies are again a huge highlight. it makes the chorus pretty damn catchy. The guitar solo is also awesome, fitting in with the vibe of the track perfectly. It’s an amazing track, and one that easily makes our playlist!

‘Ballad of a Mayfly’ opens straight into some really interesting double-tracked vocals over a great chord progression. I wasn’t expecting this more pop-punk approach to songwriting, but it worked perfectly with the band’s style. The riff soon explodes in, bringing back the stoner/doom rock in the best way possible. The harmonies and vocals in the verse almost remind me of Alice in Chains, which I fucking LOVED. And then the band add in one of my favourite things in rock music that is far too underutilised: whistling. The bass and whistle harmonising is phenomenal and something I never thought would be as good as it is. Everything about the solo/bridge is also awesome, from the riffing to the drum fill. This is another incredible song and the second in a row to make our playlist!

There’s an awesome chaotic energy that runs through ‘Colony of Fire’, mainly from some of the best drumming I’ve heard this year. The way it plays off the simple, single-guitar riffing is insanely impressive. It’s another good, catchy chorus, but honestly the instrumentation is the highlight of this track. Everything from the 2:30 minute mark is amazing and highlights just how incredible the band are as musicians. It almost gives off early Tool vibes with the slightly proggy nature and the guitar tone. I love it. And more Alice In Chains vibes from the harmonies, too. It’s the third straight track to make our playlist, and I’m not even mad in the slightest.

Tracks like ‘Eyeless Herd’, ‘Goliaeths Lamp’, ‘Haunted Hunter’ and ‘Where the Quakers Dwell’ are more awesome tracks. However, they are pretty similar to the others I’ve spoken about already. That isn’t a complaint by any means, I just don’t want to repeat myself over and over in my gushing!

‘Laughter of the Deer Owl’ is an awesome track and features the amazing Brandon Yeagley of Crowbot. Again the riffing is top notch, and Brandon brings a lot of greatness to the track. His distinctive voice gave it a very Crowbot feel in the best way. And it’s a great radio-friendly stoner track that still has plenty of heaviness and awesome instrumentation. Hats off to Brandon and Almost Honest for coming together to create something that somehow feels distinctly like both parties!

‘Mortician Magician’ is a lot of fun. From the ringmaster-like intro to the slower, heavy choruses filled with call-and-response vocals, this is a blast to listen to. I love all the dynamics, too. Whether it’s dropping out just to a guitar or the awesome bridge/breakdown riff, all of it is awesome. It constantly keeps you guessing. And THAT solo towards the end is awesome!

Then we sadly reach closer, ‘William Penn’. However, it is a damn good way to close the album, and a really interesting track overall. It’s more of an interlude track than anything, being sub-three minutes, but the more clean sound of the guitar as it fades in is beautiful. Even when the distortion comes in over the top, it has an almost calming feeling to it all. It’s epic too, and definitely a fitting finale.

Overall: This was fucking awesome! There isn’t a bad track on the whole album and there is so much to love throughout. There are multiple standout tracks, too. This band have gone from strength to strength recently and I honestly think that with this release it will strap a rocket to their back. I’ll be listening to this a lot in the coming weeks and months, and anyone who is a stoner or doom or grungy rock fan should check this out immediately!

The Score: 9/10

Ways to Hate: Yesterday’s Hero Bring us Back to the Early 2000s!

Ohio’s newest alt metal band, Yesterday’s Hero, are set to release their debut album this coming Friday. Comparing their sound to everything from Chevelle, Rise Against and Killswitch Engage, it’s big shoes to fill, and I’m excited to dive right in and check it out!

Opener ‘Killing Me’ opens on amazing, low, sludgy riff. It’s heavy and yet still encapsulates perfectly that radio metal sound they are going for. Like a mixture of Black Stone Cherry and Seether. The vocals come in over the top and immediately transport me back to the early 2000s. My god, it’s so Three Days Grace in the best ways. It all builds to a fantastic, big, chorus, one that I can see easily filling arenas. Also, the scream coming out of the chorus is awesome. The bridge didn’t have much to it, but it doesn’t matter, the riffs and chorus are enough to love here!

Check out more alt metal here.

‘What I Needed’ opens on another great riff, heavier and chuggier than the last. It almost feels like a lighter thrash song, which is really cool. Again, the vocals fit perfectly over the top. And, once again, it builds into another massive, slower chorus. It’s a hugely catchy chorus and will do so well on any rock radio station. We even get a cheeky, awesome guitar solo tucked in here, bridging the gap between the choruses perfectly and epically. And we even get a heavy fucking breakdown near the end that was not expected but VERY welcome. Damn, what a great song. It easily makes our playlist!

As expected, the title track opens on a sick riff, as is standard by now. I like the interplay between the two guitars call-and-response the riff to each other left and right of the mix, it was a really cool mixing decision. The tempo goes back to the stomping, sludgy feel of the opening song, almost reminding me of Newstead’s solo album he put out like a decade ago. Or even Avenged’s Hail to the King album or a band we’re very familiar with here at Overtone, South of Salem. The chorus is another awesome one, but honestly the whole thing is catchy in terms of vocals, especially with the backing through the verses. Another fun solo is snuck in the middle of this track, but it’s a lot more radio-structured and predictable than the previous song!

By fourth track, ‘Bounce’, I was starting to get very used to the formula. Fun, heavy, mid-tempo riffing, big choruses and a radio-friendly structure. The breakdown was another fun one, but kind of expected now given the track title. The same could be said for ‘Be’ and the final two tracks on the album. All of the four are awesome tracks and I’d definitely listen to them again. However, they are kinda predictable and all that similar that it’s hard to write about them in detail!

Overall: This is a great album. As I’ve already said, my only issue with it is that all the tracks are fairly similar. However, they all sound awesome, being the perfect blend of the early 2000s alt-metal sound and a more modern take, almost bordering on Phil Campbell at times. And, as similar as it all was, I would happily take a lot more of it. Seven tracks just wasn’t enough for me! It sounds great and I think these guys are going to be a big deal soon, if this album is anything to go off!

The score: 7.5/10

New Music Mondays: Dolly Parton, Plain White T’s and More!

Another stacked week of New Music Mondays, this one a little lighter than the last few. However, there is still plenty of metal to sink your teeth into, I assure you! Let’s check it all out!

Dolly Parton: Rockstar

The second album in two weeks with the same title, and the second time someone who typically doesn’t do rock is dipping their toes into the genre. Having checked out at least one of the songs off the album, though, and seeing the extensive list of rock royalty guesting on it, I’m hoping that the Queen of Country knocks it out of the park, here. I mean, 30 (!) songs across nearly two and a half hours, there must be something good in here somewhere, right…?

The opener and title track outlines why this album came to be; Dolly wanting to be a rockstar in her youth. Obviously the genre was much different in its infancy than it is now, but the track does a good job at channelling an old sound but polishing it up. Next up is lead single ‘World on Fire’, which has been out for AGES. My god, this album has been a long time coming. It’s a lot more Fleetwood Mac in terms of style, that folkier sound. It’s fine. The same can be said for ‘My Blues Tears’.

Kid Rock taking a step back from his cringy pro-Trump rap rock and back into his country shoes is very fun in ‘Either Or’. ‘Bygones’ injects a bit of metal into the proceedings and features the metal god Rob Halford himself. It’s very much like a subdued Priest song. ‘I Dreamed of Elvis’ is an upbeat rock ‘n’ roll track that features plenty of people from the King’s past and nods to his career.

That’s it. That’s all the original music on here. 30 tracks and 24 of them are covers. Some of them are good, like Dolly and her close friend Linda Perry performing her song ‘What’s Up?’ together. Others, like Rolling Stones’ anthem ‘Satisfaction’ and features both P!nk and Brandi Carlile, aren’t great. The highlight cover is either Bob Segar’s ‘Night Moves’ or ‘Open Arms’ with the man himself, Steve Perry. However, there is a lot of average-at-best on here.

Overall, it’s just too damn long. I completely understand what Dolly was going for here, but my god, even half this album’s length would have been enough! A double album, one half originals and one half covers, would have been more than sufficient. Instead we’re left with a lot of filler that makes this a real slog to listen to at times. It’s clear she had fun, and her distinctive voice made it all still sound very Dolly. And the original stuff is great. Maybe more of that and less covers that sound identical to the originals because she also had the original vocalist on the track too. 5/10

Plain White T’s: Self-Titled

Jade: I must say, I was super excited when I heard this album was coming. Was a big fan of the 2006 album Every Second Counts and the 2010 album Wonders of the Younger. I do think it’s a bit odd that they have waited until their 9th Album for a Self-Titled Album, but each to their own.

I must say the from the first few tracks nothing has really caught me. The first track that caught me that I enjoyed and took me back to 2010 was ‘You Plus Me’, it definitely lent more into the more alternative rock that I remember. They have definitely lent more into Indie now than what I remember. I absolutely loved ‘Fired Up’, it gave me Dinosaur Pile-Up vibes.

The next few tracks are very stripped back, very indie rock, not bad at all, but nothing special in my opinion. ‘Happy’ was another track that caught my attention, but after the first verse and chorus I don’t feel like I needed the rest. I had the same thought with ‘Reg Flags’. The album finished strong with ‘Spaghetti Tattoo’, this was very much the Plain White T’s I know and love and maybe my favourite, maybe they were more indie than I used to think!?

What I will say is, it’s so nice to have that little bit of nostalgia and listen to one of the bands that go me into the rock scene. I don’t know if it’s a case of just always craving a dirty breakdown, but the tracks just sounded very repetitive and dare I say it got a bit boring. This was definitely an album where I could pick out maybe 4 songs to add to my playlist and forget about the rest. I do however feel like it would be great to see live with the atmosphere of the fans. 4/10

Cabrakaän: Aztlán

We’ve already covered this awesome album! Check it out here!

Kenny Wayne Shepherd: Dirt on my Diamonds, Vol. 1

The Louisiana blues guitarist/vocalist is back with his first new solo release since 2019. The whole album sounds exactly how you’d expect it too, if you’re a fan. And, if you aren’t, it sounds exactly what you’d expect from a blues guitarist and singer based in Louisiana. It’s got that big band feel with the organ and horns accompanying the traditional rock instruments, and all drips with a feeling of swagger, alcohol and fun. Kenny himself is a fantastic writer, vocalist and guitar player, and gets to showcase all three through every track on this short release. Tracks like ‘Sweet & Low’ and ‘Bad Intentions’ are huge highlights. My only hope is that Vol. 2 comes out sooner rather than later, as this is a fun album and I wish it was longer than eight tracks! 7.5/10

Raised By Haze: Touch the Sky

The Italian prog quartet’s debut album is honestly something special. From the moment the vocals come in on opener ‘First Side’, combining the heavy tones with incredibly technical drumming and riffing and an almost ethereal feel overall, I was hooked. It feels like a combination of Tool, Queensryche and then almost Ruth Lyon vocally. It’s a fantastic opening track that feels simple yet outlines the sounds and themes of the album perfectly.

Then you have more indie, almost funky tracks like ‘Burn it Up’, ‘Prediction’ and ‘Feeling Myself’. The latter almost has a blues energy to it with the organ, and is a huge highlight of the album. But tracks like ‘God Ki’ still bring back that heaviness to them too which I loved about the opener. While I do prefer the heavier stuff on the album, some of the more indie or slower stuff was amazing too. And I think if anything the band won me round to them because of their talent and writing style, where others may not have. The epic title track is also a huge highlight for me.

Not all of this is for me, but as an album as a whole, it’s fantastic. it’s constantly interesting, seamlessly flowing through multiple different genres, and to listen to in full is a real experience. I most likely wouldn’t listen to the tracks individually that much aside a couple, but as a whole album I’ll definitely be sticking it on again soon! 8/10

The Nearlies: Fresh Memories

The French/Finnish band are the first I’ve seen coin the term ‘ghost rock’. However, with the release of this second album, I honestly cannot think of a more perfect genre descriptor. Just check out the opening track, ‘Oh Aurora’. It somehow sounds both evil and ethereal in equal measure. It’s like old-school punk but with a Halloween theme, is about all I can describe it as! And it’s pretty great, both the song and the album as a whole!

It’s not all my sort of thing, but tracks like ‘Loneliest Times’, ‘Steamy Stones’ and ‘Revelations’ are also big highlights of the album. It’s like more chilled out punk music, but with an interesting, haunting edge to it. None of it would feel out place in a Tarantino movie, it all has that slight surfer-rock energy and sound to it, too. It also reminds me just a little of Dire Straits, that kind of early, old school rock. That may be the vocals, though!

It definitely won’t be for everyone, but I actually believe the album as a whole is better than any of its tracks on their own. It’s definitely something to stick on if you wanna relax or have on in the background when busy doing other stuff. It feels like party music, honestly, in the best way. 7.5/10

Racetraitor: Creation and the Timeless Order of Things

I am very confused here. I’d never heard of the band before, so hearing the intro of the opening track, seeing the artwork and name of the album etc, I thought, ‘oh cool, we’re getting some like tribal, traditional black metal stuff’. But, when looking them up and finding not only was a bunch of white folk from Chicago, but that I recognised the drummer from Fall Out Boy, I was thrown off completely. Especially when Wiki described the band as ‘hardcore punk’ and ‘metalcore’. I wouldn’t have guessed any of this from just listening.

As for the music itself, it’s not my thing at all. It reminds me a bit of KEN Mode’s latest two-part album, so in that regard I at least get the genre comparisons. You can check out for yourself how much I wasn’t into those albums here. It’s a shame, too, as the opening track kinda got me excited for another fun black metal variant. Everything after that just felt like a wall of boring noise, to me.

After researching around the band, I at least appreciate the message behind their music. Anything to speak out against racism is fine in my book. But that doesn’t mean I have to enjoy the music. And, unfortunately, it seems like this will be the band’s last album. I know it will have it’s fans and if you enjoy it, awesome. But for me, it gets a 3/10. Sorry.

Plaguemace: Reptilian Warlords

Another debut album, this time from the Danish death metal band. Y’all know how much I love a bit of death metal by now, and this is up there with some of the very best in the genre currently. The riffing is incredible throughout, and the screams are powerful and incredible. It definitely gives off early Cannibal Corpse vibes, but with better production. Honestly, for a heavy band, the production is actually a big highlight of the album. I also love that for the most part, the band are balls to the wall, in and out in mere minutes. It means that when they do take their time on the nearly nine minute ‘Venomous Ambrosia’, it is all the more impactful.

The aforementioned track is a huge highlight of the album, and actually one of my favourite songs in the genre this year. ‘Rhythmic Demise’ and the title track are also both fantastic tracks. However, if you’re into the heavy, you’ll probably love all of this. It’s a really solid album, with the only potential blip being ‘ Cavedweller’s Solliloquy’. I get the intention, but the combined spoken word/growl just made me laugh a little. However, as a whole it’s awesome, and I can see this debut skyrocketing the band in the death metal scene! 7.5/10

Madness: Theatre of the Absurd Presents C’est la Vie

Jade: Madness is a childhood memory unlocked for me. My whole family knew every word to every song. This is the band that I associate Ska to and will always love them. I haven’t listened to anything they have released since their 2012 Album Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da. So, I’m actually really curious to see what sort of thing they are doing now.

Straight from the ‘Prologue: Mr Beckett Sir..’ into ‘Theatre of the Absurd’ it’s really moody and there is almost an essence of Oliver the musical. I love the theatrical vibe they are giving. ‘Baby Burglar’ takes me straight back to what I know and love from Madness. Still moody, and a whole lot more brass, not quite ready to dance yet though.

Now we are into ‘Act one: Surrounded on all sides..’. ‘C’est La Vie’ is great, exactly what you’d expect when you think of Madness. Super groovy, which follows for the next few tracks. ‘Round We Go’, which is the only track under ‘Act Two: The damsel in distress’ of the album, is a completely different vibe. It’s really upbeat and cheery and very catchy, but when you listen to the lyrics it’s actually a bit sad.

The tracks in ‘Act Three: The situation deteriorates..’ feel a lot more dreamy. Especially ‘Beginners 101’. It really soothing with the underlying gloomy feeling that has been throughout the whole Album. Really impressive Saxophone solo. ‘Is Anybody Out There’. It’s a bit heavier, a bit moodier. Suggs has a lot more attitude in his vocals. This is also the case for the following track ‘The Law According to Dr. kippah’, but it has a more theatrical feel to it again, a bit more synthy. The ‘Epilogue: And so Ladies and Gentlemen..’ kicks off a lot more upbeat with ‘Run For Your Life’. The drums, the brass and even the lyrics are much faster and complex than previous tracks. ‘Set Me Free (Let Me Be)’ is very stripped back, almost smooth Jazz. The Brass instrumentals are soooo good! We finish with ‘In My Street’ which is so old school Madness, funky, groovy, moody with this repeating theatrical feel.

I absolutely love the whole concept of breaking the Album up in Acts. I has really made me crave Madness the Musical! I think is definitely something they could pull off. Suggs still sounds great. I really hope they tour with this album; I’d love to see it brought to life. I know I may get hate for this, but this is what I wish all Ska sounded like, but that’s just me. The only thing I will say, is maybe it didn’t need to be quite so long. There were a couple of songs that were a little similar and just didn’t draw me in. But still a great album nevertheless. 8.5/10

Miara: Hungering Inside

Another death metal band putting out their debut album this week, but this time from Italy and a little more melodic. Honestly, it’s exactly what you’d expect from the genre, and it’s fucking fantastic. It gives off big Children of Bodom vibes, which I love. Between the great riffing, great screams, big, choruses and overall epic feel, it’s clear how much the late Alexi Laiho inspired the band. I know there will definitely be those out there that cry foul to the fact that there are cleaner vocals on here and that it’s not ‘true death metal’, but it’s fucking awesome so I choose to ignore them.

The opener sets the perfect tone for the album, showing off everything great about their sound. It’s a definite highlight of the album. Then you have the more early 2000s metalcore ‘The Gate of Hell’, the balls-to-the-wall ‘Fit Into the Mold’ and the slower ballad, ‘Trying’. There’s plenty of variety going on throughout, and there’s an awful lot to love!

It’s not an utterly perfect album. In this writer’s humble opinion, there isn’t that one huge track that sets them above their peers. That one song to catapult them into the mainstream. The closest is the closer, ‘Honesty is a Dream’. However, as an album overall, this is incredible, and as a debut album it’s off-the-charts good. I’ll be listening to this for a long time to come, and cannot wait to hear where the band go from here! 9/10

Hyperia: The Serpent’s Cycle

The Canadian thrash outfit’s fourth album in five years is finally here, and it picks up right where Silhouettes of Horror left off. Lightening-fast pace, insane guitaring and drumming, and some of the best solos in the game today. I love the old-school feel to it all, too. The vocals are on the more hardcore/punk side, and it has such a chaotic energy throughout.

It’s a really great album if you’re into your thrash. Having said all of that… I HATE writing about the genre. I love thrash, and this is a very good thrash album. But outside of saying that and giving you a selection of my favourite tracks, what else can I say about it? It’s fast; it’s heavy. It’s thrash, of course it fucking is.

So, yeah. Check out ‘Prophet of Decay’ and ‘Eye for an Eye’. And go see this live if you wanna go get beat to death in a pit and have the best night. 8/10, great stuff!

The Refreshments: A Stiff One

More bluesy rock ‘n’ roll, this time much more old-school, from the Swedish legends. It’s like I’ve been transported back in time 60 years, honestly. And it’s a lot of fun. Right from the opening track, ‘Travellin’ Light’, I just want to be sat in a dark, smoky club, sipping on a martini. And honestly, I had no idea Sweden had such a market for this sort of sound, which is great to hear!

Tracks like ‘Mama Rosa’, ‘Mary Jean’ and ‘No Mojo’ are all big highlights. However, the whole album is great. It’s just fun, and it’s impossible to listen to it without a smile on your face. It’s the perfect blend of old school rock music, be that Status Quo or Buddy Holly. I’ll definitely be listening to this album again. 8/10

Aztlán: The Album to Take Cabrakaän to the Top?

Canadian-Mexican metal band Cabrakaän return this week with their brand new album. leaning into the mythology, traditions, and sounds of their home country and looking to build off of previous album, Aztlán, this release may be their must ambitious yet. Let’s check it out!

An absolutely fantastic intro track, ‘Tonantzin’, beings the album. It sets the scene perfectly, an epic, medieval/piratey number that builds slowly through strings and and tribal drumming, soon adding in some chanted vocals and then finally some distorted guitars in the back. It’s very rare I talk about intro tracks or interludes in-depth in these reviews, but this one was so good I couldn’t not. And it was nearly four minutes long, so I had to!

The scene is set perfectly for the first offical track, ‘Fuego’. It explodes in with a big riff and immediately into vocals. Speaking of which, the vocals are incredible. An operatic style reminiscent of symphonic metal bands like Within Temptation or Nightwish. However, there still remains that traditional Mexican style under it all that works so well with the heavier sounds. The dynamics of the track are great, too. Whether it’s catchy, operatic vocal parts, heavier riffing or the more traditional instruments shining through, there is so much going on, and it all clicks together perfectly. Around the midpoint of the track it also takes a surprising but awesome turn into death metal with a heavy riff and some great extreme metal screams. It’s a fantastic first track and the perfect way to introduce new listeners (me) as it hits them with a bit of everything they’ve got!

Check out more symphonic metal here!

‘Tlaloc’ is another track that bursts right in, the awesome screams making the riff even heavier. The verse is more fast, epic symphonic stuff and it builds perfectly back into the heaviness. I also find it really interesting that the songs don’t seem to follow the typical structure. There are definitely choruses and verses etc, but there’s a lot of other stuff thrown in there to keep the listener guessing. it’s all almost prog, which is fine by me! An awesome guitar solo is tucked into the middle of this track, too. It’s a really interesting, fun track which again combines their elements together well!

‘ Luces y Sombras’ is a massive highlight track of the album, for me. Right from the combination of the heavy drums and epic strings, I was hooked. And, the structure seems a tad more radio friendly, a little easier to follow. The verses are great with the clean, beautiful vocals, the harmonies on them incredible. The choruses are suitably epic too, maintaining the symphonic metal feel. And we still get plenty of heaviness in the bridge/breakdown verse. It’s definitely another single waiting to happen, I’m sure. It’s an awesome track, and easily makes our playlist!

‘Malintzin’ is another highlight track of the album as I love the interplay between the two vocals and two styles. The verse switching from the beautiful operatic vocals to the heavy screams was masterful, especially when it then transitioned seamlessly back for the chorus. The bridge is fun too, the strings adding an awesome layer of doom and epicness over the top of the heavy guitars. It’s another awesome song and the second in a row to get onto our Spotify!

Single ‘Mictlán’ and ‘Yolot’ are more of the same. The latter at least felt a little different as it was a slower, beautiful opening, and the drop-down in the middle to the more tribal sound was cool. However, generally there isn’t much new in the tracks.

‘Xóchitl’ is the ballad of the album. A simple acoustic guitar opens the track, and the soft, clean vocals fit so well over the top of it. It stays at this level throughout it’s 2:40 runtime too, and is honestly fantastic. It’s beautiful and breaks up an otherwise heavy album rather perfectly. One of my favourite ballads of the year!

Finally, we reach the most recent single, ‘La Cigarra’. It’s one hell of a fun track that brings back the Mexican Tradition sound in spades. The metal is still there, feeling more of an accompaniment, which I love. It reminds me of a more serious version of Nanowar of Steel’s ‘Chupacabra Cadabra’, having a similar style to inject metal into. It works perfectly with her vocals, too. It’s an amazing song and a really interesting addition to the album, given how heavy a lot of the rest of it is. It’s another that easily makes our playlist!

Overall: This was a great, interesting listen. It was all over the place in terms of style and sound, sometimes for the better, occasionally for the worse. Some of it did feel a tad messy, I must admit. While not every single track here is one of my favourites, there is a lot I love here, and as an album as a whole it’s solid. The band seem like they are pretty new and I cannot wait to see where they go in the future. Building on this would be awesome!

The Score: 7.5/10