Tag Archives: new album

New Music Mondays: Electric Callboy, Behemoth and More!

Another huge week of New Music Mondays, with everything from metalcore to… well… The Proclaimers. Now that I have your attention, let’s dive into it!

Electric Callboy: Tekkno

The band that have taken 2022 by storm with the growing anticipation of this album thanks to their singles. We loved all of them and just had to review the album fully. You can check it out, alongside our review for it, here.

Behemoth: Opvs Contra Natvram

I’ve tried for years now to get into Behemoth, and it’s just not happened. I have heard tit may happen if I see them live. I feel like it must do, because this album did nothing for me. Those who read these regularly know that I don’t really get black metal, and it turns out big, well produced black metal still isn’t my thing. Sorry to any Behemoth fans out there, I know you’re quite the devoted lot. I really tried, listening to the entire album in one sitting. It just seemed like noise; I couldn’t pick out a highlight track. 3/10… please don’t cancel me…

Clutch: Sunrise on Slaughter Beach

Now, this is more my sort of speed. The stoner rock band have been consistently great for years now, and this is no exception. From the opener, ‘Red Alert’, the tone and quality of the album is set and it doesn’t waiver at all. I don’t understand how this band aren’t bigger than they are, given how fantastic tracks like ‘Slaughter Beach’ and ‘Nosferatu Madre’ are. Hopefully tracks like the ones I just named will finally help push them to greater heights.

If you are into blues or stoner rock at all I can guarantee you’ll love this, and it’s maybe one of the best albums the band themselves have done so far. Each track is amazing, it’s had to pick specific highlights. 8.5/10

Marco Mendoza: New Direction

Yep, we’ve been busy this week and given you TWO full reviews of albums before Monday. Aren’t we good? Check out our review of the awesome new Marco Mendoza album here.

The Devil Wears Prada: Colour Decay

In a world where bands that have been around for a while (especially in the metalcore scene) either go lighter and more pop or heavier after complaints from fans, The Devil Wears Prada laughed, flipped them of and said ‘we’ll do both’. I remember checking out the ZII EP last year and while none of this is quite as heavy as ‘Nightfall’, it’s still a heavy album. ‘Watchtower’ and ‘Exhibition’ for the most part might as well be deathcore tracks. But then at the same time we have plenty of clean vocals and tracks like ‘Salt’ and ‘Broken’. It’s an amazingly diverse album, and both sides of the coin are very good.

From the riffs to the INSANE breakdowns and both types of vocals, it’s all amazing. This is the best I’ve heard the band sound in years and is up there with some of my favourite work by them. This album will be on a lot in the Griffiths household over the next few weeks and months, as it really does have something for nearly every emotion. Another 9/10. A solid week so far!

The Mars Volta: Self-Titled

A complete change of pace now as we get to the US prog rock band’s seventh album. I have a confession to make; I don’t think I’ve heard a track by the band before. I know the name but have at least never gone out of my way to check them out. So I guess where better to start than with the band’s first album in a decade, since their breakup and recent reformation.

They’re weird… but I kinda dig it. It took me a couple of tracks to get into the groove with them, but by the time ‘Graveyard Love’ finished I was all in. The remind me of a darker Scissor Sisters, giving me a big nostalgia kick as I loved that band as a kid. While some of it isn’t typically the sort of thing we’d cover or that I’d like too much, there is enough awesome upbeat stuff to keep me entertained. Tracks like ‘No Case Gain’ and ‘Equus 3’ are strangely awesome. It’s not all for me, but I certainly wouldn’t be opposed or turn it off if the album was on again at some point. 6.5/10

The Proclaimers: Dentures Out

Yes, they haven’t just done ‘500 Miles’ and that song from Shrek. They do in fact now have 12 studio albums, and I have to say, this new one is fantastic. The opening and title track is one of my is one of the best soft rock songs I’ve heard in years. ‘Feast Your Eyes’ is a fantastic, epic ballad with a good point and seniment behind it. And ‘Praise’ is almost a surfer rock track with that riff. There is plenty of great stuff to sink your teeth into here if you like it softer and, while there could have been another faster track or two, I thoroughly enjoyed it and will definitely be listening to it again! A surprisingly great album from a band I’m sure most haven’t listened to in years. 7.5/10

No Devotion: No Oblivion

This was not at all what I was expecting. Given the name and album artwork, I was thinking I was in for heavy, not alt/indie. While I’m sure it’s great to the band’s fans, I wasn’t too into it. There was some fun, catchy synth and some interesting vocals, but I felt this was a bit of a slog to get through. I feel like/hope it’ll grow on me as they are all very clearly talented musicians and songwriters and I feel like I should get it, but I currently do not. 4/10 at a push, I’m sorry.

Starcrawler: She Said

This bands image doesn’t quite fit with their sound. From their artwork and pictures, I went into this expecting glam. This was not glam. I have to admit, I’m a little disappointed. It wasn’t bad by any stretch, built I’d have preferred glam or NWOCR over the punk/old school rock I got. It is interesting to hear an American indie tinge to the British punk rock sound, but I found it didn’t do much to hold my attention. Having said that, ‘Stranded”s chorus did seem vaguely familiar, and it was a definite highlight of the album. Not a bad album by any stretch and I feel like it might grow on me with another couple of listens., it just didn’t catch my attention immediately. 6/10

Sinnery: Black Bile

This is right up my street. Heavy-ass death/thrash metal, filled with big fast riffs that will break your neck after the full 50-minute album. Having never heard of them before, ‘The Burning’ was as fantastic introduction to them as any. Between the huge riffs, hardcore screams, gang vocals and filthy lows, it’s a highlight for sure. However, the album goes HARD for its entire run, giving the world some of the best the genre has to offer in 2022. ‘Sever’ and ‘Bleak’ are also highlights of a very strong album. I honestly feel like they are the second coming of Slayer, they are that good and heavy. I can see them getting the same cult following, and I am definitely going to be in there in it! 8.5/10

Somehow Jo: Scales and Details

Tool’s crazier child are back with their third studio album. Heck, just the two fantastic opening tracks, ‘Fata Morgana’ and ‘Freind’, channel so many different styles and genres it’s insane. From prog to folk to death metal to whatever the hell people classify SOAD as, there is something for everyone. Both are insanely impressive track and easily make the playlist, and there’s another seven tracks still!

I have to say though, every track had me hooked from start to finish. This was a damn good album full of some of the best playing I have heard in a LONG time. I have not a single negative thing I can say about the album, and I am desperate to see the band live now. Check this out if you are into any sort of music at all, you won’t be disappointed! 8.5/10

Dead City Ruins: Shockwave

This is what I was expecting Starcrawler. Just good old-fashioned hard/sleaze rock. I’ve been a fan of the band for a few years now after checking them ahead of a HRH (They unfortunately didn’t end up playing) and after the album being postponed a little, I’m excited to finally hear it.

It’s really good. Unfortunately, you’re wanting me to write more than that, aren’t you? Fine… It’s honestly as good as anything the rest of the NWOCR scene is putting out at the minute, and that’s saying something as the scene is currently at its peak. Opening track ‘Preacher’ feels like a fan-favourite live right off the bat and the album honestly doesn’t slip on quality afterwards. ‘Vision’ is another huge highlight. ‘Madness’ and ‘Speed Machine’ are both also awesome. ‘Rain’ gives me Alice in Chains vibes in the best way, and also makes the playlist with a bunch of other stuff on this album.

I honestly cannot say enough good things about this album. It’s the best they’ve put out so far and may be one of my favourite albums of the year. CHECK THIS OUT! 9.5/10

Tekkno: Electric Callboy’s Magnum Opus?

It’s here. It’s finally out. Electric Callboy (formerly Eskimo Callboy) have finally released their first album since new vocalist Nico Sallach. After MONTHS of teasing with the odd fantastic single, they have released a ten-track album. I’ve been excited for this for months so let’s get right into it!

One of the best tracks written over the last year period, ‘Pump It’ opens the album. Now, I’ve been obsessed with this track since it was released at the back end of last year so have heard it a BUNCH. Heck, it’s on our Track of the Week playlist. The band’s gym song is the perfect blend of 80s pop music and metalcore, as crazy as that feels to type.

Opening on Nico’s infectiously catchy, clean vocals for the first run of the chorus, it’s hard not to be hooked in from the opening seconds. The video perfectly encapsulates the feel, too. It’s not long before the metalcore comes in though, the ch0nky riffs and Kevin’s fantastic screams changing the pace and tone completely. It’s amazing though, and somehow fits perfectly while being completely different. The pre is incredible, with the spacing between the huge riffs and low screams and slow drums sounding amazing. Also, the big riffs continue through the chorus, making it all sound massive. After the second chorus we get a HUGE breakdown, heavy and dirty and full of screams. Then it ends. Less than three minutes of perfection. This has been on the playlist for months already and for very good reason.

Next up is the bands biggest hit and party anthem, ‘We’ve got the Moves’. Opening on some club tekkno so infectious it’s hard not to bob your head or tap your foot, the spoken word vocals coming in over the top enhance that even more. The second half of the verse gets dirty, with Kevin’s screams coming over the top of another heavy riff. It builds to some more amazingly catchy vocals for a chorus, high in Nico’s register but so damn enjoyable. The track channels even more club energy as it builds through a couple of bridges into a HUGELY catchy gang vocal part that would (and does) go down amazingly live. Then we of course get some breakdown and another huge chorus to close out the track. It really is the perfect metal track in 2021/22, at least in this writers opinion. Playlisted.

The band don’t exactly take themselves seriously and that definitely shows in the video. But it’s because of that that it’s all so much more enjoyable. Rock/metal is too serious these days, Electric Callboy are definitely a breath of fresh air in that regard.

‘Fuckboi’… no. Moving on.

No, in all seriousness, I’m a fan of Conquer Divide. They have some great covers and original tracks too. However, this felt more like a To the Rats and Wolves track over an Elenctric Callboy one. It’s practically a pop punk track. While all of this is okay on its own, it was a letdown from a band that usually go much harder and are, honestly, much more funny. Especially for a single, this seemed like a bad choice.

FiNCH, the guest vocalist on next track ‘Spaceman’ is singlehandedly responsible for starting to get me into German techno. I both love and hate him for that. He’s a massive highlight of this track though, and of the album as a whole if I’m honest. His comedic timing is great and he’s not afraid to make a fool of himself, much like the band aren’t. It makes for a fun dynamic, both contrasting while also being similar.

The track itself is another great one. Similarly structured to ‘Pump It’ though we get a final chorus after the breakdown, it’s more silly, catchy metal music. Also, the German rapping in the bridge is fantastic and provides the perfect build-up to the best breakdown on the album.

We’re nearly halfway through the album before we reach the first non-single. Unfortunately, it’s the other track that doesn’t quite do it for me. It’s the most metalcore track on the album and a rather serious one for a change. It’s mainly heavy and screams, but I do enjoy Nico’s clean vocal hook for the choruses too. I don’t know, it just felt like there was something missing. I’m hoping this one grows on me with a few more listens, but for now, eh.

Completely changing the pace again, ‘Arrow of Love’ is three-and-a-half-minutes of 80s pop-inspired awesomeness. The chorus is infectiously catchy from the vocals to the synth. The verses are heavy and full of some fantastic riffs and screams. And the bridge builds perfect through the clean vocals and heavy synth into an almost Link Park style breakdown. My only slight gripe is that it’s the exact same formula again as another three tracks on the album. It’s good, but may start to get a little old if it’s done a whole lot more without some variety.

‘Parasite’ is a bit of that change of pace, at least. While it is still a bit of a similar structure, it at least feels different. It has more of a Sempiternal feeling to it which is nice. Even the clean-vocalled parts were heavy, making this another straight-up metalcore track. Everything between the second and third choruses is amazing and super heavy, another highlight of the album. A good track!

‘Tekkno Train’ is brilliant. Any track that has the lyrics “You make my spaghetti ready” is bound to be. It’s another party song, complete with plenty of electronics and club-style synths. It’s clearly not a serious track at all, which is another big plus, and is massively catchy. I find it hard to say much though, given that again it’s a similar track to half the album, just with different lyrics and hooks. However, Kevin growling “choo choo choo” will never not make me laugh.

Finally, we reach possibly the best track on the album. The band knew what their audience would be expecting, and hit them with something completely different. It’s German Schlager for a minute and a half, I promise. Check it out if you don’t believe me…

Check out another great metalcore band here!

I have no more words except… AWESOME.

Closing track ‘Neon’ feels like a bit of a comedown after the previous nine tracks. It’s similar to ‘Parasite’ in its feel and sound, but the chorus is huge and arguably better. This somehow feels like it blends together a bit of everything else on the album, but never quite kicks into that top gear I hoped it would. However, that chorus is incredible, and may be Nico’s best vocal performance I’ve heard. A big, if not monumental, way to close a great album!

Overal: Of course this was amazing. The hype behind it has been insane thanks to their great live shows and fantastic music videos, and I do think the album delivers big. It’s packed full of amazing songs and even the ones that aren’t as good as the rest are great tracks. However, it isn’t quite perfect for me. I cannot help but compare them to the other crazy, newly-huge metal band that got big off their videos, Ice Nine Kills. I would say INK’s latest album as a whole was stronger, while Callboy put out the stronger singles. But still, this is a damn impressive release that will be high up there for album of the year for me.

9/10

New Direction: Marco Mendoza’s Crowning Album?

Thin Lizzy/Black Star Riders/Dead Daisies alumni Marco Mendoza has been a busy man throughout his career, as you can tell. But aside for the number of incredible bands and artists he’s worked with, he’s also had a fantastic solo career. New Direction is to be his fourth solo album, released on the 16th of this month. We managed to get our hands on it a little early to see what we think. I can’t wait for this one!

The original album title and lead single, ‘Take it to the Limit’, is up first. An air raid siren sets up a great sleezy riff, harkening back to the 80s immediately with its sound. The riff opens out a little in the verse, the instrumentation taking a more blusey approach. Marco’s voice sounds better than ever, too, a real testament to his commitment to music. The chorus is of course catchy and massive, the backing vocals and big instrumentation filling it all out perfectly. We get another great blues riff for the bridge, the vocals behind reminding me so much of ‘Love in an Elevator’. And of course, we get a fantastic, technical guitar solo. It wouldn’t be hard rock without one! What a track to open with. I loved it and it’s already been on our playlist for a while now.

Check out our latest interview with Marco Mendoza here.

‘Just Can’t Get Over You’ opens on another blues-inspired riff, giving off LA Guns vibes. It drops down a bit for the verse, being muted and bouncy and a lot of fun with the vocals over the top. The track builds perfectly through an uplifting pre into another huge, catchy chorus. It’s a little more basically layered than the previous track but the vocals are so great it still sticks in your head. We get another fantastic guitar solo too, one that fits the vibe of the song to a T. The final chorus, complete with more lead guitar behind to make it even more epic, ends things on a bang.

‘Light it Up’ opens on steady drums and bass, Marco’s vocals coming in over the top and sounding fantastic. It again builds up as the guitars come in quietly before it all explodes for the choruses. It’s giving off Def Leppard vibes to me, which certainly isn’t a bad thing. The guitars are maybe even catchier than the vocals this time around, too. The guitar solo is off the charts in this track, easily being the highlight one of the album. Also, it dropping back down to just drum and bass for another verse after and building up massively for the final chorus was great. Another playlisted track!

Next, it’s time for a slower one. A slower, cleaner riff plays behind Marco Mendoza ‘s softer vocals. I can hear a lot of The Police, but again it sounds like it inspired it over a cheap copy that some bands do these days. The chorus is absolutely phenomenal, too. It’s one of the biggest stadium-filling choruses I’ve heard this year, and it truly does deserve to be played in front of that many people. Everything about this track is fantastic and I implore you to stop reading this right now and go check it out. You won’t be disappointed!

The next single, ‘Shoot For the Stars’, picks back up the pace a little. The simple riff and vocal combo always works great and here is no exception. It’s still not as quick as the previous tracks but it’s a good soft rock track, nearly a ballad in its own right. It is filled with catchy vocal parts and harmonies, as well as some great lead guitar work. It’s one hell of a choice for a single, everything about it is great!

‘All that I’m Living For’ has a fantastic riff running through it. It’s heavy but definitely an ear-worm too. The low vocals sound great over the top. We even get a key change hidden in the middle which sounded awesome. It leads to yet another huge, great chorus. I can hear in this track where Marco’s influence on Dead Daisies went, this is very much like the last album of theirs he was on. It’s another good track, with Marco channelling his inner Stephen Tyler in the bridge again being a particular highlight.

‘Free Ride’ was a fun 80s throwback track. From the spoken word at the start to the hard rock/sleezy riff, this screamed MTV. Having said, I also thought it could be ripped straight out of Reckless Love’s discography. Both are similar sounds though, and all sound great. In all fairness, so do the following couple of tracks, ‘Can’t Explain It’ and ‘Scream and Shout’. Both are more hard rock than sleaze, but are great, fun tracks too.

Then we reach the final track and the albums title song. Opening on the infectiously catchy chorus vocals and some huge chords, it’s definitely memorable. The track itself stays pretty steady-paced, again coming across as a bit of a hard rock ballad. Given the poignant subject matter of the song, it lends itself well to the sound. Looking for a new direction after the last couple of years definitely resonates with a lot of people, including myself. The chorus is MASSIVE and another stadium-filling highlight of the album. It’s an epic, fantastic way to close an amazing album.

Overall: As I said just, this is amazing. It’s the best solo album Marco Mendoza has done, in this humble writers opinion. There isn’t a bad track on the album and each one has a unique sound, energy and feel. I enjoyed listening to it from start to finish and it kept me interested, something few newer albums seem to do these days. I can’t wait to hear it live and I’mma be listening to this a lot over the next few weeks!

The Score: 8.5/10

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New Music Mondays: Ozzy Osbourne, Parkway Drive and More!

Strap yourselves in, ladies and gents, because we have a long one ahead of us. 18, yes 18 albums to check out. And I apologise in advance because half of this more than likely isn’t going to be for you. For all of our fans we have built up over the years there is a fair amount of heavy in here. But for all of the country fans we have started to gain recently, there is a fair bit of that too. Sorry if we scare anyone off with the stark contrasts. But check it out anyway, who knows, you might find your new favourite band! Let’s get into some new music!

Oh, and our newest writer, Max, jumped on to give me a hand again with some of these, so of course give him a hand!

Ozzy Osbourne: Patient Number 9

Ozzy should have called it a day a decade ago. He was struggling a little on Sabbath’s farewell tour but they still went out with a bang. Since then, his health has deteriorated and, let’s be honest, he can’t tour any more.

Having said that, this was better than it had any right to be. I wasn’t into Ordinary Man at all but this makes up for it. I’ve been a big advocate of ‘Patient Number 9’ since its release, it’s one of the best choruses Ozzy’s ever done. The same could be said for ‘One of Those Days’. And, of course, he has a guest guitarist on each track, and he’s selected some of the very best of all time. Between Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Zakk Wylde and Toni Iommi, there is some incredible soloing here.

My only slight negative would be that it’s all a little slow. However, for a 73 year old man, I didn’t really expect him to have the same energy in his tracks as he did 50 years ago. If Ozzy is going to stick to just studio music from now on, this is how to do it! 7.5/10

Parkway Drive: Darker Still

I really wanted to like this. And the weird thing is that sometimes I found myself enjoying it, but then other times it fell beneath expectation. Heck, sometimes both in the same track.

The Australian band continue to let more and more European power metal to seep into their American metalcore, to mixed results. And this isn’t even coming from a jaded old Parkway fan. I didn’t really get into them until IRE. But I LOVED that and Reverence so was excited for this album. I don’t think it lives up to my hype, but that’s not saying it’s bad. It’s certainly odd though.

I’m one of the seemingly few who loved ‘Glitch’ when it was released and I still do now. ‘The Greatest Fear’ is okay too, though it doesn’t go quite hard enough. ‘Darker Still’ however, can get in the bin. The only genuine highlight I’ve found that I’ve listened to multiple times since is ‘Soul Bleach’. Having said that though, the more I listen to that track, the more I love it. It’s heavy and the sound I wish they’d gone for for the whole record. ‘If a God can Bleed’ is weird enough to work and ‘Imperial Heretic’ is okay, but both are pretty average really. The couple of closing tracks are good, too.

As I say, nothing on here is bad at all. Maybe (hopefully) it’ll grow on me with another few listens, but right now I feel like it’s around a 7/10. Not as ground-breaking as I was hoping for.

Flogging Molly: Anthem

The not-so-Irish Irish folk punk band are back with their seventh studio album. That makes me feel old. The whole early 2000s skate-punk scene was a big part of my childhood, and hearing new music from them just makes me smile. How can anyone not like this music? It’s got the very best parts of folk, punk and rock.

There isn’t a bad track on the album. From the raucous opening track to the slower, full-on old folk songs to the fantastic ‘This Road of Mine’, it’s all great! Whether you’re into folk, punk, rock, americana or probably a bunch of other genres too, you’ll find something to enjoy here. This may be their best album since Float, and that’s saying something! 8/10

Highly Suspect: The Midnight Demon Club

I loved the first couple of Highly Suspect albums. Tracks like ‘Lydia’, ‘Bloodfeather’ and ‘My Name is Human’ all felt like they were harkening in the next big, heavy indie band. However, their last album seemed to soil that, at least over here. I wasn’t a big fan and I’ve not really seen them on any line-ups or heard them on the radio much over the last five years.

This album is at least a step in the right direction. None of it is quite as impactful as any of the previous tracks I named, but they’re at least solid, moody radio rock songs. That is, aside for the heavy AF single ‘Pink Lullabye’. It was like listening to a Zeal & Ardor track and I loved it. The rest of it was pretty similar, steady-paced, okayness (with lyrics of questionable quality), but damn is ‘Lullabye’ a tune. 6/10

ONE OK ROCK: Luxury Disease

The Japanese alt rock band returned last week with their tenth studio album. Going into it completely blind, having never heard the band before, I enjoyed it! It’s pretty basic pop rock, but there is nothing offensive or inherently bad about it. It was cool to hear the combination of English and Japanese vocals too, highlighting their own sound and culture as well as the sounds that inspired them. It reminds me of a combination of Panic! and Set it Off, but then with an even poppier ting to it.

‘Neon’ is probably my favourite track on the album, but again there aren’t really bad tracks here. The emotional ‘When They Turn the Lights On’ channelled heavy British vibes, whether it was Muse or Busted or Queen. Also, Teddy Swims sounds great in his guest vocals for ‘Free Them’. There’s a lot of good here if you’re into the lighter stuff. 7/10

Blackment: Plains of Oblivion

We’ve already done a full review of this album. Check it out, along with the fantastic score, here.

Built to Spill: When the Wind Forgets Your Name

Max: The American indie rock band, Built To Spill, is back with another great album. WTWFYN is the 10th album by the band, and it is a perfect addition. If you enjoy slower music its perfect for you as it, as always, focuses around Doug Martsch’s vocals and guitar. I found it difficult to sum up exactly what made this album so good but the simplicity of some for the riffs and the fun but relaxed vocals feel very relaxing. I sat up the other night listening to it and letting all of the instruments just wash over me and tell me everything that they have hidden beneath. It is a beautiful and yet thoughtful listen that can definitely click with everyone so long as it lets you. My rating might be slightly biased as I’ve been looking for an album that makes me feel the same way I did when I first listened to Motion City Soundtracks acoustics song, but it is an almost perfect 9/10 and I hope everyone reading this takes a listen.

Bloodbath: “Survival of the Sickest”

Max: Time for a sharp change of pace. The death metal supergroup is back with another very, very intense album. For those who are unfamiliar this group and has had a wild line up but currently consist of Martin Axenrot (Opeth), Nick Holmes (Paradise Lost), Jonas Renkse (Katatonia) and Anders Nystrom (Katatonia). so, with such a wild line up it is unsurprising that this album is brilliant for most and even better for those who follow black metal. The album is intense and is not always the friendliest of listens but it is a great one and i must say it isn’t a bad or hard place to start for those who don’t listen to black metal. So, if this becomes your entrance album, I do not blame you as it has got me back in to Katatonia and Paradise Lost. As I’ve mentioned this is a fun and intense album that does not disappoint and is great for those who need a heavy dose of music in their system. A very respectable 8/10

Laurence Jones: Destination Unknown

This is an old blues rock fans dream. Between the awesome riffs, powerful vocals and heavy focus on synth, this felt like it was ripped straight from the 70s. The guitar is of course a huge highlight of the album, but that shouldn’t take away from his great vocals and the awesome work of the band behind him. This sound has been coming back more and more in recent times, be it with Rival Sons or in the NWOCR scene, and tracks like ‘Anywhere With Me’, ‘Give Me that Feeling’ and ‘In Too Deep’ look to catapult Laurence pretty high up in that scene. If you’re into the likes of Rainbow, Foghat, Rival Sons or even ZZ Top, check this out, you won’t be disappointed! 7.5/10

BRELAND: Cross Country

Cross Country is the debut studio album of platinum single-selling artist BRELAND. He became big off of said single, ‘My Truck’, in 2020 after it hitting big on social media. This album features guest slots from the likes of Keith Urban, Ingred Andress and Thomas Rhett.

If all of that sounds insane for a 27-year-old musician… well I fucking agree.

The music itself combines R&B, rap and soul to the country sound. It’s basically what everyone wanted Lil Nas X to continue to sound like after ‘Old Town Road’. Now, I completely understand that this isn’t going to be every readers cup of tea. I get that I am in the small part of the Ven diagram that like both this and Bloodbath further up. However, I loved this. Tracks like ‘Praise the Lord’, ‘Natural’, ‘Don’t Look at Me’ and ‘For What it’s Worth’ are all fantastic tracks.

However, it’s not perfect. The album is pretty bloated at 14 tracks and there is a noticeable dip in energy (and arguably quality too) around the middle which it doesn’t really recover from. It verges more into his soul stuff which I’m sure a lot of his fans love, but it’s not as much for me. 6.5/10

Revocation: Netherheaven

Stray From the Path: Euthanasia

This was like Fever 333 on acid, and I loved every second of it. The bounce and swagger of the opening track had me hooked immediately, especially with the fantastic lyrics harshly rapped over the top.

The same energy continued throughout the album, too. It’s dark, heavy and dripping with attitude and anger. Tracks like ‘III’, ‘Bread and Roses’ and ‘The Salt in Your Spit’ are highlights of an album honestly filled with them. In an age where Rage Against the Machine feel corporate, having a younger, angrier, heavier band pick up the flag they dropped feels like a very good thing.

I feel bad for myself that this band have been going for a while now but this is the first I’ve really heard of them. I feel like the rest of my week is going to be checking out their older stuff, because that was fucking fantastic. 9/10

I AM: Eternal Steel

This band are very hard to find online. I don’t think they are the Fre3nch hip hop artist IAM, nor are they ZP (Dragonforce)’s side band I Am I. Therefore, all I can tell you is what I hear.

What I hear is heavy but damn good. ‘The Primal Wave’ opens things on a brutal, fantastic note, and it’s only up and up from there. Tracks like the title song and ‘Queen Incarnate’ are great and make me want to check out more of what the band I have to offer. Hopefully I can find more about them than just their discography and can see if they venture over here for live shows at all. This whole album would be fantastic live. Check it out if you’re into the heavy, almost medieval death metal stuff, you won’t regret it! 7.5/10

Kane Brown: Different Man

Kane Brown is going to become to Georgia what RHCP are to California if he keeps up like this. In all seriousness though, the man who did what BRELAND has just done but a few years earlier is back with his third studio album. After the HUGE sucess of the last one, I’m curious to see if he can keep his momentum going.

Right out of the gate ‘Bury Me in Georgia’ is a fantastic southern rock track. Next up is a dark, brooding roots track with Blake Shelton. But damn, it’s still good. ‘Like I Love Country Music’ channels the best kind of bro-country and adds some rock and fiddle to it. It’s a fantastic run of three tracks to open. It unfortunately again drops in energy a little again after that until ‘the excellent ‘Riot’. At least this one manages to claw back the fun and tempo, unlike BRELAND. The couple of tracks after it, ‘One Mississippi’ and ‘Drunk or Dreamin” are also great. ‘Pop’s Last Name’ is a beautiful, emotional ballad. ‘Devil Don’t Even Bother’ is True Blood style awesomeness.

However, my issue is the same as BRELAND (sorry to keep bringing him up). 17 tracks is simply too long. Is it an issue throughout country as a whole at the minute? Do none of them have producers? I can give four or five tracks that, while not bad by any stretch, I’d have cut to make this an easier, more concise listen. There are maybe 11 tracks on this that are phenomenal, and the rest seem too much as a result. 8.5/10, but it would have gotten a 9 if it was a little shorter.

Eat Your Heart Out: Can’t Stay Forever

Some more pop rock now, this time from Geordie Australia. I have to admit it was pretty enjoyable. I know it’s cliche at this point to compare any pop rock/pop punk with a female vocalist to Paramore, but screw you guys, I’mma do it anyway. They’re like a slightly heavier Paramore. They definitely feel like they are bridging the gap between rock and the weird ‘rock’ that is in pop these days. If you like this sort of music, check out tracks like ‘Down’, ‘Heavenly’ and ‘Sour’. 6.5/10

Until I Wake: Inside My Head

The creepy ‘The Sacrifice’ heading into the harsh vocals and huge riffing of ‘Forsaken’ may be one of my favourite album openings of recent times. For a debut album, too, that is one hell of an achievement. Heck, I would even good as far as to argue that ‘Forsaken’ is one of the best metalcore tracks released in the last nearly decade. That shit goes hard.

It is because of that track that I was surprised and a tad disappointed with the rest of the album. It’s still good, don’t get me wrong, but it feels like a different album to the opener entirely. It’s closer to Sempiternal/That’s the Spirit era Bring Me or even Linkin Park than the Norma Jean style metalcore I was expecting. We finally get some heavy stuff again towards the back end of the album like ‘Still Sinking’ and ‘Blue Beam’. Both are great tracks and I just wish more of the album had this sort of energy. Sprinkling a few in around radio-metal tracks is an odd choice and would definitely scare a casual listener checking them out after hearing their lighter stuff.

But still, the rest of the tracks are still good, just not what I was expecting after the opening. The band do both sides of metalcore very well so if you like the genre you’ll find something to enjoy! 7.5/10

Warforged: The Grove / Sundial

Aside for having some of the best album artwork I’ve ever seen, I actually found this the hardest album for me to review this week. While some of the music and riff are great, it’s the very definition of chaos. The vocals don’t help matters either, being very heavy death metal growls. It’s the least accessible album on this list, and that’s actually saying something this week, but I’m sure the band don’t care. There’s a couple of cool moments, like in ‘Hymn of Broken Teeth’, where multiple screams join together and sound awesome. I’d definitely recommend checking that track out out of any of them, it’s probably the best representation of them as a band. But it was even a little to heavy and chaotic for me. If you enjoy this then awesome, I’m sure its fucking fantastic if you like the genre. But it wasn’t for me, so gets a 4/10

Derek Hoke: Electric Mountain

While some of this was a tad too slow for me, tracks like ‘Let Go of my Heart’, ‘Hush Your Mouth’ and ‘Novocaine’ being particular standouts. It takes a very traditional approach to country music which I can definitely appreciate and would probably love a lot more after seeing it live. I don’t really have many more thoughts about this one, it’s a good, atmospheric album that I feel would make a fantastic soundtrack to a moody movie/tv series. It may take me another couple of listens to fully ‘get’ though. 6.5/10

And there we have it guys. We did it! What a crazy weekend, but there are some insanely good albums here. If you enjoyed the article, check out more from our Instagram here.

Plains of Oblivion: Are Blackment the Start of the New Wave of Finnish Heavy Metal?

Blackment, in case you couldn’t guess by the title, are a melodic heavy metal band from Finland. I hadn’t heard of the band before but we got sent the album a week or two ago for review. It comes out today so we thought we’d let you know what we thought!

‘Apparatus’ opens heavy with a great synth behind it, giving the death metal an 80s edge. It then opens up into a fantastic thrash riff, already a highlight. It stays thrashy as the harsh vocals come in for the verse, before it suddenly changes pace into some proggy, jazzy rock. The chorus after is really catchy too thanks to some cleaner power metal vocals ringing through. This really has a bit of everything so far. A ripping, technical guitar solo or three follows the second chorus. It makes me in no way jealous of their talent at all… However surprisingly, the song fades out after this. One the one hand, it’s always fun to not know what’s coming. On the other hand, I feel like another big chorus could have really helped cement this track as a top tier opener.

‘Remnants Astray’ opens on a prog as fuck riff and I’m all for it. The synths are behind it to give it such a huge sound, too. The power metal is back the powerful clean vocals come in over the top of a great, epic riff. It stays heavy and interesting though, two things that I find are my two downfalls when it comes to power metal so this is excellent. The kinda harsh vocals return for the bridge after the second chorus, but they are still rather clean, like a Matt Heafy kind of sound. There’s more absolutely incredible guitar soloing afterwards, so good it would probably make Steve Vai jealous. We then get a final epic chorus to close up. This was utterly fantastic, I loved it. It very easily made our playlist.

‘Clouds’ is a slightly slower but in no way less epic riff. The clean vocals sound even bigger and more powerful here given that the riff is bigger and it’s all backed by some great strings and even some operatic backing. Also, the backing vocals for the chorus make it even catchy and again we get the kind of half-scream on the back of it. It’s still a harsh vocal but most not familiar with scream would probably still be able to understand what is being said. The best of both worlds, so to speak. It feels almost redundant at this point to say there was a good guitar solo in the track, but you’ll never guess what… there was! Another song that I cannot praise enough, this was phenomenal. Playlisted!

If I didn’t feel like a vastly inferior musician before, ‘Composure’ definitely made it clear. This is awesome riff after awesome riff and I love it. The Trivium-style vocals are back in full force for this track too, which is another huge positive for me. It honestly feels like ‘Ascendency’, which for anyone who knows that album is very high praise. Again there is nothing but praise I can give for this track. The third in a row to make the playlist. This album better chill out or I’mma get in trouble for it all making it to our Spotify!

The most recent single, ‘Northern Lights’, starts folky as hell. To carry on the feeling, a modern day Maiden riff comes in over the top of it all, sounding great. This whole track in fact is like a heavier Iron Maiden song, it’s great! The same could be said for the following track, ‘Grasp of Hel’, too. Both are great songs that somehow sound like power metal, NOWBH while also sounding modern and following the bands sound. You definitely know it’s Blackment when hearing the tracks.

Check another metal review here.

The title track brings the heaviness and progginess back with a huge but fantastically technical couple of riffs. Even when the guitars are doing stuff like this, the band add synths and strings and stuff to really pack out the sound. It makes it all sound huge. The pre and chorus are massively catchy too even as the vocal melody jumps all over the place. It’s so interesting and I couldn’t stop listening to it, skipping it back a couple of times at least. Some more awesome guitar soloing and even a jazzy as fuck bassline round out this AWESOME track. Playlisted, it’s amazing.

‘Desolation Fields’ brings back the blackened death metal for a slow intro that builds into a hugely heavy track. The heaviness continues through the final two tracks too, single ‘Maw of the Dread’ and album closer ‘The Ruins’. However, the band also blend it masterfully with their epic power metal side. All three tracks are fantastic and the latter is a great closer. In a time where most bands seem to follow the weird trend of putting the lightest track last, I’m glad this was still pretty heavy. Three great tracks that I’d just gush over the same points for if I didn’t clump them together. Great stuff!

Overall: this was MUCH better than I was expecting. Granted, I went into it with zero expectations, but they blew the roof off my mind. Everyone involved with this is a master of their craft, be it guitars, vocals, songwriting, even production, it’s all top notch. I’ve already listened to this a few times and I don’t think I’ll be stopping any time soon!

The Score: 9/10

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New Music Mondays: Megadeth, Yungblud and More!

Megadeth: The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead!

So, I was a thrash-head as a kid. Growing up I idolised the Big 4, Testament, Evile etc, alongside other 80s bands too. Though I have dropped off as my horizons have expanded getting older, Megadeth will always have a place in my heart. My dad introduced me to them, I’ve seen them multiple times and have a bunch of their albums.

So, it comes from a place of love when I say… this wasn’t great. It’s not bad by any stretch, but this is fuckin’ Megadeth we’re talking, it shouldn’t be as average as this. Mustaine didn’t sound like he was struggling, given his struggles the last few years. He just sounded tired. The whole band do, in fact. When the most standout point of the album is that Ice T is underused, you know that it’s not great. And ‘Night Stalker’ is still the best track on the album despite that!

But as I said, none of it is bad. The rhythm work is fine. The lead work is fine. The lyrics are fine. It’s all fine. But I guess after Dystopia I came in expecting a little more. It’s not as bad as Super Collider or Risk, but does sit comfortably around the Thirteen/Criptic Writings mark. 5.5/10

Yubgblud: Self-Titled

I didn’t think this was going to be for me. Surprise, it wasn’t. It’s like he’s tried to do a more pop punk Billy Idol, and it doesn’t really work. In terms of a continuation of this strange pop-rock trend going around it’s passable, I guess. But it’s exactly that, pop. No matter how much he wears eyeliner and acts ‘punk’, it’s no different to Olivia Rodrigo. Also, no matter how much I hear it, WILLOW’s voice is like nails on a chalkboard to me, so ‘Memories’ was like torture.

And look, I’m not saying that slightly rockier music being in the mainstream is a bad thing. Anything that will open more people’s eyes to the rock world and encourage them to support bands or even pick up an instrument themselves is a good thing. But that doesn’t mean that gateway music is any good, still. I’m sure the generation before me thought the exact same about me listening to Busted as a kid, but it definitely helped push me in the right direction. But then again, while Busted’s lyrics were cheesy, at least they weren’t all about being depressed and suicidal and doing drugs. Great message to give to the kids!

Yeah, no thanks. This is up there with MGK as one of the worst ‘rock’ albums of the year. If I never have to listen to it again it’ll be too soon. 2.5/10

Blind Guardian: The God Machine

This might as well be called ‘Painkiller Pt. 2’, and that’s in no way a bad thing. It’s like Iron Maiden, WASP and Judas Priest had a lovechild and that child got really into vikings and medieval times. It’s epic power metal and I love it.

Aside from the ch0nky riffs, the main highlight for me is the vocal harmonies. They’re almost Muse/Queen levels of good. It makes each song so catchy and fun to listen to. But yes, each member of the band does amazingly, the instrumentation is off the charts.

‘Secrets of the American Gods’ is a massive highlight of the album, as is ‘Blood of the Elves’. An album full of really great power metal, I can’t complain about any of it! 7.5/10

The Hu: Rumble of Thunder

The Mongolian folk metal band are back with their second album. Now, when these first came out with their original couple of singles, I LOVED them. However, I felt myself falling off them a little when the hype got huge and their debut album came out. That makes me feel like a huge hipster, but I cannot help the truth!

However, I really enjoyed this, it was really good! From the Metalica inspired opening track to the slower, almost upbeat indie stylings of ‘Triangle’, it’s got a bit of everything! It’s a good album in its entirety though, I enjoyed every track and it all went by in a flash. However, as good as it all was, the band did a good job at choosing the singles, as ‘Black Thunder’ and ‘This is Mongol’ are definitely the highlights. It’s nice to hear the band have some range, but they are at their best when doing their own take on epic metal.

The Butterfly Effect: IV

Having never even heard the band name before, I was really pleasantly surprised by this! It was like Dream Theater without the length, which is arguably their downfall to my ears at times. This was dark and heavy without technically being classed as metal, I’d say. It straddled the line perfectly and had some great tracks like ‘Dark Light’ and ‘Unbroken’. I’m definitely going to have to check out more of these guys moving forward! 7/10

Jon Pardi: Mr. Saturday Night

One of the biggest names in country is back with his fourth studio album. Now, none of the tracks are quite as big as the HUGE ‘Dirt on my Boots’ or even ‘Heartache Medication’. However, every track on this is solid. There isn’t even a hint if a dud track. ‘Mr Saturday Night’ is a fantastic, emotional opener and a definite highlight. Tracks like ‘New Place to Drink’ and ‘Longneck Way to Go’ are also huge highlights, but there are plenty to pick from. If you’re into country again all this is worth checking out, you definitely won’t regret it! 8/10

Oceans Ate Alaska: Disparity

The metalcore Brits returned this last week with their third studio album. I heard the name a lot in my youth as my friends were big into the band. I didn’t pay them too much attention though, unfortunately. That all changes today!

Right from the heavy opening of fan-favourite ‘Paradigm’ I was hooked, and hooked until the end. It’s definitely on the heavier side of metalcore so isn’t going to be for everyone, but it’s like 30 minutes of continuous breakdowns and I love it. Of course lead single ‘Metamorph’ is another huge highlight, as is ‘Plague Speach’. But the whole album is worth a listen if you’re into modern UK metalcore, this is great stuff. 8.5/10

King’s X: Three Sides of One

The Christian hard/blues rock band just put out their 13th studio album, and first since 208. I’ve heard the name at least this time, but had no idea they’d been going since 1979. Another insane fact I found out in my research is that it’s the same three band members, they haven’t had a lineup change in their entire 40+ year career. That’s damn impressive.

The album itself is pretty good! Opening track ‘Let it Rain’ is a fantastic way to kick off the album and gives a great insight into what the band sound like throughout. It’s dark, fun and catchy. Tracks like ‘Give it Up’ and ‘Swipe Up’ are also great. However, there is a surprising number of slower tracks on this album. It’s not really a bad thing, but does throw the pacing of the album off almost immediately. Front-loading the album with the slower tracks is an odd choice, but ultimately doesn’t make the album that much worse! 7/10

ENSANGUINATE: Eldritch Anatomy

Surprisingly opening into a fat riff to open up the album, this was much more thrash/death than I was expecting. I don’t know why I was expecting black metal. The speed and catchy gang vocals of ‘Haunted’ won me round to this album immediately and I ended up really enjoying it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly not or everyone. But this is a fun, great old-school death metal album. I’d even say it gives the classics a run for their money, if I’m being honest! Great stuff that I’ll definitely be listening to again and again. 8/10

Defacing God: The Resurrection of Lilith

This one is much more black metal, being more epic in feel and having much more blast beats. It’s more extreme or melodeath in its presentation, though. It reminded me a little bit of Cradle of Filth actually in the harsh vocals and the grand scale. Maybe because of this I didn’t hate this at all. I’m still a little fussy when it comes to the super heavy side of things, but when it feels epiclike this it definitely wins me over. Everything about ‘The Resurrection’ is fantastic, from the emotion and harsh vocals to the onslaught of fantastic riffs. Again though most of this is great, there really isn’t anything not worth listening to if you like this style of music. 7.5/10

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How to Shroud Yourself with Night: Are Lacrimas Profundere the Next Rise of Gothic Music?

Boy, am I excited for this one. Now that reactions are becoming more of a part of Overtone, I ended up reacting to the most recent single Lacrimas Profundere put out on our YouTube channel. People ended up liking it and asked me to react to the previous singles from the album, which came out last week. I have just finished doing so and I gotta tell you, they’re amazing. So this review is going to be pretty positive, just to warn you. And while I take the time to edit down that video, check out what I thought of the other tracks on the album!

The album opens on one of said singles, ‘Wall of Gloom’. However, since I’m not very clear in my reactions, babbling on like a nervous schoolchild, I’ll quickly reiterate here. This is a great track. The plodding pace sets the dark mood for the entire album perfectly. And, of course, it gives vocalist Julian Larre plenty of chance to show off his impressive range. However, this isn’t my favourite single from the album, and it feels like an odd choice to open the album with. It’s a great track but I don’t think it quite hits that high gear that the following track does. However, when listening through as a full album, it almost feels like an extended intro track for the following track…

‘A Cloak Woven of Stars’ is one of my favourite tracks of the year. Period. I gushed over this track a bunch in the reaction, but I feel like I must do it here too. It somehow blends a commercial, radio-friendly sound in with their already dark, heavy one, and it works seamlessly. It combines together so many different sounds seemingly effortlessly, and the result is phenomenal. From the low, clean verses to the harmonised, harsher but massively catchy choruses to even a breakdown riff, this song is incredible. It blew my mind when I listened to it for the first time and made me an even bigger fan of the band. Playlisted!

Next we reach the first one I haven’t heard yet and the first ballad track of the album, ‘Nebula’. The clean guitars sound great, as does Julian as he sings low over the top. It again builds to a huge, harsher chorus, but it feels epic and very earnt. Also, the harmonies between the high clean and lower screams that have been present on the last two tracks are incredible and maybe my favourite part of the album. It’s another great track that once again shows off the band’s staggeringly impressive range.

As if reading that last sentence, ‘In a Lengthening Shadow’ opens on an almost uplifting folk/punk guitar riff. The track stays pretty high-energy throughout, almost giving off power metal vibes than anything else. Gothic power metal is something I definitely need more of! It’s a straight-forward, under 4-minute rock track and I loved it. Another that makes the playlist.

Another single, ‘The Curtain of White Silence’, is up next. I LOVE Julian’s desperate, emotion-filled harsh vocals in the verses. It honestly gives me goosebumps listening back. It reminds me a little of In This Moments’ ‘Whore’, it channels a similar energy. Also, how is it that this band build up to heavier choruses but it’s super catchy and still feels anthemic? It’s damn impressive. The quicker half of the chorus is great but when the drums slow to half-time it’s incredible. More harmonised vocals which again fit so well. A fantastic track and playlisted. I have nothing more to say other than awesome.

Check out more heavy music here.

‘Unseen’ and ‘The Vastness of Infinity’ are both good tracks but both feel a little similar to ‘Shadows’, power metal-esque. That is in no way a bad thing, I love both tracks. It simply means that there isn’t a massive amount for me to say that I haven’t already about a previous track.

Then we reach my introduction track to the band, ‘To Disappear in You’. It’s a fantastic track and one hell of an introduction to the band and album. It has a little bit of everything the band are showing off throughout these tracks and does it so well. It’s heavy, catchy and fun to listen to while still being dark, which is a hard task. I have barely stopped listening to it since the reaction, it’s a great track.

Our reaction of the track!

The synth to open up ‘An Invisible Beginning’ was a nice touch, setting the tone perfectly as a massively catchy riff runs through most of the track. It gave the song a poppier edge that continued throughout. It reminded me of Ghost, or at least what Ghost should have been with their image. It’s goth as anything, also feeling a little Billy Idol at times. Also, the chorus is the catchiest on the album, and I love it. Playlisted, this was awesome.

The final track of the album opens with an evil riff. Like, I’m talking ‘Black Sabbath’ evil. Unfortunately it doesn’t last too long but the rest of the band come in over the top, with Julian doing his harsh talking again like in ‘…White Silence’. There’s another catchy chorus, this one clean while the verses and pres are the heavier, screamed parts. It’s a heavy track to close the album (which I love) and there’s some GREAT riffs in here. It’s one of the best album closers I’ve heard this year, another great track.

Overall: This was phenomenal. I feel awful that I haven’t heard of the band before now and will definitely be checking out more of their back catalogue after this. This is easily one of the best albums I’ve heard and reviewed this year, every track was top notch. Hopefully they come to the UK to tour now as I HAVE to hear some of this live!

The Score: 9/10

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New Music Mondays: Muse, Machine Head and Much More!

We have a fun addition to New Music Mondays this week. Our newest team member Max has given me a hand in writing this, as I was away for the weekend. Give him some love as he saved my ass and did a great job! I’ve covered a few of them and he’s done a few, and if I had any more thoughts on an album I added them on too!

It’s another week another list! A fun set of albums have been released this week so join me in exploring them all.

Muse: Will of the People

Max: So where to begin? This is Muse’s 10th album if you don’t include the two live albums and the anniversary version of Origin of Symmetry. I must say that it is my favourite since the resistance. There are so many things to say about this album and I wish I had more time for it, from the amazing grooves in the bass to the solos spaced throughout. However, Matt’s voice is utterly outstanding.

If you only have time for a couple of songs I highly recommend ‘Ghosts (How Can I Move On)’ which is a beautiful piano led song which gives me chills every time I listen to it, ‘You Make Me Feel Like It’s Halloween’ which has a brilliant groovy and feel to it which makes me want to get up and move each time and then ‘Kill Or Be Killed’ which is definitely more inline with some of Muse’s heavier music. All in all, a great album and an easy 8.5/10.

Machine Head: Øf KingdØm and CrØwn

Max: Machine Head are back, and they want you to know what they’re about again. It has been four years since Catharsis, their last album. It’s clear in that time that they have been working hard on perfecting their art . All I can say is wow. It is heavier, it is intense, and it is brilliant. From ‘Slaughter the Martyr’; their ten and a half minute opening song is kickass from the slow intro to the filthy riffs and the solos. There is so much in this song to digest however there is more to get through. ‘Become The Firestorm’ and ‘No Gods, No Masters’ are must listens and as potentially controversial as this might be, I think this album is better than Burn My Eyes, their seminal first album. This is a 9/10 but if you rate it higher there is no contest because this is a phenomenal album.

Joe: As a HUGE fan of Machine Head, especially their output from Ashes, Catharsis and a couple of singles afterwards were a pretty big let down. I enjoyed last year’s EP, though (all of which ended up on this album). My god does this build on that perfectly. Right from opening on a 10-minute heavy epic with a good three minutes of slow-build to start, I knew the Machine Fuckin’ Head I knew were back. I’ve seen a fair few journalists comparing this to The Blackening. While I think that’s a bit of a stretch, it’s definitely a step back in the right direction. I agree with Max on all of his highlight tracks, and would also like to add the venomous ‘Rotten’. 9/10

Embrace: How to Be a Person Like Other People

Joe: The Yorkshiran rock band released their eighth studio album last week. While I was sceptical it would make it onto this list at all with the slow piano intro, it build into a cracking, stadium-filling ballad in ‘Death is Not the End’. While the rest of the album was still good, it’s in a similar style to the opening track and never quite reached the same lofty heights. It’s a blend of British and US indie rock which was perfect for a background listen or a long car journey, but I found it not holding my attention too well when listened to intently. If you’re into indie you’ll enjoy this a lot more than I did,. I feel like I’d ‘get’ this a lot more if I saw it live. For now, it gets a 5/10 from me!

Excuses Excuses: Listen Up

We’ve covered this already last week, and you can find the review and score here.

Sigh: Shiki

Max: The Japanese cult black metal band Sigh are back also after four years. For a first venture into this band, Shiki is a great place to start. It is a difficult listen if you are new to black metal, but their somewhat eclectic mix of styles can be a saving grace if you find the raw and intense vocals a little hard. This is not the best album ever made but I think it is a must listen for anyone wanting to explore more music and expand their genres.

I found it difficult to pick out which songs were the best in the album. But, after a couple more listens, the strange, almost jazz-break in the second track of the album, ‘Kuroi Kage’, just sticks with me even now. Its one for all to explore if they feel brave enough to which brings me to give this a solid 7.5/10 and I am excited for what might come next.

Joe: What has this company done to me? I loved this. I’ve somehow gotten pretty into the more epic side of extreme metal, and I kinda like it. Whether it was the balls to the wall track above or the more up and down ‘Mayonaka No Kaii’ there was a lot I enjoyed here. I do however agree with Max in that it’s a 7.5/10. Good stuff!

Brymir: Voices In The Sky

Max: The Finnish metal band are here with another packed album. It’s difficult to say what their plan for this album was as it felt to cross many layers. All in the band pushed their art to the next level with each song feeling quite different from the next. This being said I would not say this is the best album on the list. It was constantly punchy and energetic, and I found myself listening to it in the background through out the day but I truly struggled to find one song that was the best.

With all this said, however, I do think everyone should check it out. I am excited to see if they explore a but more of the melodic/death metal side that they can clearly do. I’m going to have to give this an 8/10 but that could change once I’ve got to grips more with this band who were completely new to me.

Manifest: The Sinking

Max: Here’s a band that I doubt many of you have heard of before. This is the bands fifth album, and it is a hard one. Whilst some of you may question me on this considering I liked Sigh, I really could not get past the Stian’s vocals and there was not much for me in the album. I implore you to check it out for yourself but I struggled to get past the fourth track so there is not much more to say. It is a 5/10 for me.

Joe: The mixing on this was pretty meh. It felt like a punch in the face, but that may have been the intention. However, I didn’t mind this aside for that. The elements are there of a good album, it just needs a fair amount of polish. It reminded me of a more biker Hatebreed, the same aggression and speed but with some catchy choruses thrown in at times. However, the cleans aren’t all that great, and the extreme vocals could be little stronger. I preferred when they stuck to the hardcore stuff as opposed to jumping to black metal or their slower stuff. 5/10

Lacrimas Profundere: How to Shroud Yourself with Night

We’ve got a review coming out of this album in the coming days. It was delayed due to being ask to react to some of their singles. While you wait, check out our reaction to their latest single, ‘To Disappear In You’, below. And check back in a couple of days for the link to the review!

Dynazty: Final Advent

Max: This one definitely ends the list on a high. Its hard to say exactly what this album makes me feel because wow its good, exceptionally good. They are top of their field, all the members of this band. There is so much pure and lovable energy in this band, and you can see how much they love making music. Each of the songs remind me of why I do this and how much I love music. There is one song that everyone needs to hear: ‘Yours’. Its an utterly beautiful songs and the chorus with its great hook and amazing vocals hits me somewhere deep. Its is a top song of the year so far for me and I am definitely going to try and see them live some time soon. It’s great to be surprised by music no matter what you hear, and this album hit in all the right places so I can’t see any reason to not listen to it because I really do think its inviting enough for everyone 9/10.

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Listen Up: Are Excuses Excuses the Next Big Thing in Radio-Rock?

The surprisingly Canadian (hearing them I thought British for sure) band Excuses Excuses made waves with their previous few singles, especially earlier this year with ‘Far From Perfect’. Capitalising on that success, the band are releasing their much anticipated debut album this coming Friday. We managed to get a sneak peak of it and, if the singles so far from it are anything to go by, this is going to be good! Check it out with us down below!

The band waste little time with their opening track, ‘Say’. Opening on a pretty fun riff, the vocals soon come in over the top, walking the line between indie and hard rock pretty masterfully. It all builds through the catchy verse and pre into a huge chorus, the echoed vocals making it sound massive. Speaking of the vocals, the lyrics are great, a fantastic ‘be yourself’ anthem. The brief guitar solo bridging the gap between the 2nd and 3rd choruses was fun, even if it did just follow the same melody as the vocals. Still, it’s an effective way of making both more catchy and memorable. Then we get a final pre and chorus to take us home in style. Good stuff to start the album with, and easily playlisted!

The title track bursts right into the chorus, full of attitude and swagger. A call not just to ‘Listen Up’, but also a call to arms, this track perfectly encapsulates the whole feel and message of the album. The guitars dropping out for the verses is a very well used trope but never gets old, and it works perfectly here. The pre is somehow even catchier than the chorus due to the fantastic backing vocals, the band channeling their inner Queen or Muse. It’d be great to hear live. Even the bridge is catchy. The whole track screams massive radio hit, which is perfect given the lyrics. Another fantastic song and another that makes its way onto our playlist!

Check out our last review here.

‘Feeling Sorry’ is another typical heavy indie rock track. Bouncy, lower verses build up into huge, catchy choruses, with plenty of great lyrics across both. The structure was interesting though, given that it was essentially just verse-chorus three times and then done. In and out in just over two-and-a-half minutes. Straight to the point and I love it. We even get a scream for the last second of the track, which I was not expecting. Good stuff!

‘My Nicotine’ is a little slower paced but channels the same sort of energy as the tracks proceeding it. It’s a love song this time, in case you couldn’t guess from the title. The lyrics are well written and it’s a catchy track. I’m struggling to say much more about it, it’s pretty standard but great radio rock! I guess it’s a ballad, and a good one at that!

‘Wasted Alone’ is another slower track, opening on an almost sleazy guitar riff before the vocals come in over the top. It’s a nice touch to break up the album with something different and it honestly sounds great. The drums come in before the verse ends and turns it into ‘just’ another ballad, but that intro was certainly cool. From there it’s fairly similar to the previous track, but I’d argue it’d make a better single, it’s definitely catchier vocally. The guitar solo, while short, was a nice touch too!

‘Breakdown the Silence’ is another typical indie/punk rock track. Then we reach the final two singles of the album to close us out. ‘Meaning of Life’ is another slower track but all of the vocal lines will be stuck in my head for the rest of the day. They’re so memorable and well written. It’s the most indie track on the album so far but to my surprise it’s my favourite. It makes the playlist.

Then we reach the final track, ‘Hardship to Sail’. It’s very similar to the previous track. It’s mid-tempo, fun and catchy. It is just a little samey and not quite as good as the previous track, in this writers opinion. That being said, it’s a fantastic way to close an album, epic, memorable and just a damn good track. The build-up to the final chorus is fantastic and adds to the pay-off perfectly. Plus, the gang vocals in the background of the final chorus makes everything feel more granduous and final. A good closer, but I wish the second half of the album had a little more umph. One more faster track would have been perfect.

Overall: I really enjoyed this. As not typically a fan of indie music, there was enough grit and heaviness here to keep me entertained and make me want to listen to it more. The guys are already making a big splash in the underground scene, but if they keep going like this they’re going to be massive sooner rather than later. A short, to the point album packed full of good songs, catchy vocal hooks and some good riffs!

The Score: 8/10

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New Music Mondays: Five Finger Death Punch, Panic! At the Disco and Much More!

A STACKED week of new music from the rock and metal world this week. Join us in checking it out!

Five Finger Death Punch: AfterLife

Okay, let’s get the controversial one out of the way first. I know that if I give this band and album any praise at all y’all will disagree, and that’s fine, I’ve made peace with it. But underneath the Monster guzzling, Drywall and partner punching Kyle energy, there are some damn talented musicians. Heck, ANDY FUCKING JAMES guitars for them these days, the talent is there. And their first couple of albums were honestly fantastic. I haven’t heard the new singles or much after Wrong Side of Heaven as they began to bore me, but hopefully this album brings them back to their roots more!

Spoiler alert: it doesn’t. It’s nowhere near as bad as people will make it out to be, it’s still okay. It’s just incredibly generic radio metal. The riffs are still phat and fun and the production is still up there with some of the best. And of course James shreds some of the best highlights of the album. The issue, much like with most of their music, is Ivan’s lyrics. The angsty, angry, juvenile writing is really something a man in his 40s should have grown out of by now. He has a great voice still and is clearly good at writing catchy, huge vocal melodies and choruses, they’re just dampened considerably by the lyrical content. If they were a bit deeper or had more to them or had changed at all in the last decade+, I feel like this would be great.

‘Times Like These’ was an okay ballad and the title track is okay. But for every good track on the album, there’s a ‘Roll Dem Bones’ or the utterly terrible ‘Judgement Day’. Honestly, the good was few and far between and this was a really tough listen. I was bored way before halfway through. It’s such a shame because their thrash-Slipknot sound and attitude of Way of the Fist was fantastic and they have yet to get close to its quality. It’s a pretty slow album all-round, actually. The biggest praise I can give it, I guess, is that it’s somehow easy-listening metal. But still, it’s the worst album I’ve heard from them, of the five I’ve heard. 3/10

Panic! At The Disco: Viva Las Vengeance

Brendan Urie and friends (it stopped being Panic! years ago) are back with the follow-up to their massive 2018 album Pray For the Wicked. I have to admit I wasn’t the biggest fan of this band at their rock peak, I always preferred Fallout Boy, but I like a few tracks here and there. Heck, even ‘High Hopes’ isn’t bad as far as earworms go, just incredibly overplayed. With how poppy the singles have been so far, I feel like they’re going to be the same.

While a terrible album opener, the title track is a fun, Vegas-inspired pop-rock song. That’s pretty much the entire story of the album, if I’m being honest. And I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad thing. It’s not bad music at all, just a tad boring. It’s okay chilled out pop ‘rock’, but it’s a far cry from ‘I Write Sins not Tragedies’. It is pretty much musical music, which is exactly where Urie wants to be. Honestly if this was a musical I’d probably enjoy it a lot more than I do. Brendan is still one of the best vocalists alive today, but outside some pretty basic instrumentation behind his voice, that’s all there is to this album.

‘God Killed Rock And Roll’ is maybe the highlight of the album, but that’s because it’s so obviously and unapologetically Queen that it’s almost laughable. It’s a good album and I wouldn’t turn it off if it came on again, but it’s not really my sort of thing. 5/10

Demi Lovato: HOLY FVCK

It took Demi adding one of the most acclaimed rock guitarists currently in Nita Strauss in order to go back to pop punk. However, that was a relatively new addition so maybe this had been in the works for a while. Either way, a minute into the album and it’s already better than anything else she’s ever done. That riff for FREAK is tasty and for once the awful Yungblud doesn’t even overstay his welcome on a guest slot.

I’m so glad artists of this ilk, the latest being Avril Lavigne, are returning to this rock-inspired sound, and that a new generation is stepping up to join them. Hopefully it starts to lead towards more rock in the mainstream again. Plus, hopefully P!nk comes back to join the style soon too!

This album is fucking incredible, by the way. This is the album she should have put out after her return from rehab last year. Its full of emotion and a look into her thoughts and feelings about her past few years. And musically it’s catchy, radio friendly and, most importantly, ROCK. The genre that (kinda) introduced the world to her, and she returns with a vengeance. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the album art seems pretty similar to The Pretty Reckless’s last album, it’s clear that album’s inspired this one quite a bit. There’s nothing to really complain about anything, aside maybe the bloated track listing, but the album is that well paced that it doesn’t really even matter. I can’t believe I’m putting this but 8.5/10, it really is that good!

I Prevail: TRUE POWER

Another band I feel like I should have given more time to before now. It’s metalcore and has everything I should like in a band. I have one of their tracks on my Spotify (Gasoline, I think) and do enjoy it. So, I’m excited to sink my teeth into this album.

Truthfully, this album is a bit of a mixed bag. I liked when they got heavier on tracks like ‘Body Bag’, ‘Fake’ and ‘Judgement Day’. However their lighter stuff didn’t do much for me and their pop-punk, clean choruses almost felt a little… generic? I feel like that’s not the right word but I can’t think of a better one. I feel like I’ve heard them before. And some of the rap didn’t do it for me either, while some parts of it really did. Overall there was enough to keep me coming back, and plenty of it has made our playlist. 7/10

Soilwork: Overgivenheten

This was all over the place in the best way. So much so that I had to listen to it multiple times through over the weekend in order to just compose my thoughts. Sometimes melodeath, sometimes prog, sometimes power metal, sometimes straight up Scorpions-style hard rock, this had a bit of everything.

Having said that, everything they do sounds great. The heavier, epic opener into the lighter, clean-centric following track did a great job of showing what the band are about right from the offset. From there the quality stays, as does the variety. ‘Electric Again’ is one of my favourite tracks on the album, as is ‘Is It in Your Darkness’. No two songs are alike, especially when next to each other on the album, a fantastic display of songwriting prowess and honestly made for an insanely fun listen. Every track is good, not just the highlights, and this is an album I’ll be listening to a lot going forward! 8/10

The Chats: Get Fucked

Unapologetically punk as FUCK. Basically The Sex Pistols but with actual talent. I don’t even know what else I can say about it, it’s that straightforward an album. It’s punk, if you like the genre, you’ll like this. I’d struggle to even pick some highlight tracks as, due to the style, they all sound pretty similar. However, the album is so concise at 27-minutes that it never overstays its welcome. Good stuff! 7/10

Silversun Pickups: Physical Thrills

This was not what I was expecting, but I have no idea why. I’ve seen the name floating around for a good few years and always associated them with the likes of Smashing Pumpkins and Radiohead. And guess what, this was exactly like those two bands. I guess I was simply expecting a little more, however foolishly. I’m not really a fan of either of the aforementioned bands, and I can’t get into this much either.

It’s dark, moody prog rock with just enough of a commercial edge that it could be considered radio-friendly. I wasn’t a fan of some of the artier tracks, but then songs like ‘Sacred Together’ and ‘Hereafter’ were so good it made me almost forget how much I wasn’t fussed by the rest of the album.

Conan: Evidence of Immortality

Heavy prog doom metal from the UK, this feels like the most ‘true metal’ thing I’ve ever listened to. When the opening track is 10+ minutes long, you know you’re in for one hell of a ride.

Unfortunately, that ride is pretty slow and takes a while to get to any fun sightseeing locations. I’m a fan of doom, but the same riffs repeated for two minutes or more don’t do much for me. The vocals help breakup the repetitiveness of the tracks a little, and the scream is very good. But it wasn’t enough to hold my attention for too long.

I remember seeing them a few years ago at a small venue my old band played at and remember enjoying them live, so maybe that’s what I need. Seeing music live helps it translate a lot better, being surrounded by likeminded people and having it all much louder and seeing them play it etc. Until I can make it down to one of their gigs, however, I feel like I can only give this a 4.5/10. Sorry guys.

Thundermother: Black and Gold

A controversial band next, at least in the UK underground rock scene. The NWOCR band return with their fifth album, looking to shake some of that negative energy off them, and honestly it’s very good.

Opening track ‘The Light in the Sky’ sets a great stadium-filling sound and precedent that continues throughout. The title track is mid-tempoed, catchy awesomeness and the riff for ‘Raise Your Hands’ is sleazy greatness. The soft, almost jazz rock ballad ‘Hot Mess’ is another massive highlight of the album too, as is the Thunderstruck-esque ‘I Don’t Know You’.

It’s all massive, catchy, radio-friendly hard rock, and it’s great. Some bands you can just tell from their sound and songwriting that they’re going to be massive, and these are definitely one of them. I could easily hear this opening for amassive stadium tour like GnR or the Crue/Leppard one, it’d go down a storm. I can’t praise this enough. 9/10

Hammer King: Kingdemonium

We checked this out already and loved it. Check out the full review and score here.

Lillian Axe: From Womb to Tomb

The first new album to be released by the band in over a decade, it’s not as black metal as the album title suggests it is. If anything a lot of it channels more soft/prog rock sounds than the ‘hard rock’ they are. While the opening track sounds ELO-like, the second goes in a completely different direction and goes full Dream Theater. I actually quite like the prog sound they go for for the most part, but it is so very DT I might as well just be listening to Octavarium. There’s some fun riffs none the less and the vocals are powerful and fit the music well. Good stuff, but nothing that I haven’t heard plenty before. 6/10

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