Tag Archives: pop punk

Bombs for Breakfast and Sick Of The Riot rock the Thomas Leaper!

That’s right, we’re going to review our own gigs. And what? Also, yes, it was at a Wetherspoons. Everything about this paragraph is insane. The awesome Bombs for Breakfast and Sick of the Riot; let’s get on with the review!

Sick of the Riot took the stage to a pretty packed room and played an incredible set of punk chaos. For just the two of them, a drummer and then a vocalist/guitarist, they pack one hell of a punch and really fill out the sound live. Whether it was rocking anti-establishment anthems against our former prime minister or an amazing cover of ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’, it all sounded awesome. It gave me both Dead Kennedys and Smashing Pumpkins vibes, given the vocals. And I even found myself enjoying the slower stuff as much, if not more than the higher tempo tracks. The dynamics were refreshing from a punk band, and it kept me entertained throughout.

Check out our last live review here.

After a brief break to change over, Bombs for Breakfast took to the stage and blew the crowd away. These guys were super polished and professional, even for a pop-punk band, and it made for one hell of an impressive show. Even after some technical difficulties, the band rose to the occasion, used a different amp and rocked the place. There wasn’t a particular highlight as every track sounded awesome.

It was also nice to see the friendship between the two bands, with both bringing the frontman of the other band on to perform a song with them. The bands were clearly enjoying it and, because of that, so did the crowd.

And there we have it, not only our latest live review but our last show of the year! It’s been a blast, and both bands gave it their all here, putting on a fantastic night for the fans. Both deserve to be much bigger than they are and fingers crossed they both have an amazing 2023. Hopefully we can see them again soon!

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Here are Your Words: Is Burridge the New Wave of Pop Rock?

The Singer/Songwriter/Anarchist/Rascal (as she puts it so perfectly) Burridge is back with her first EP in three years. I’ve been a fan for a while now after being sent over some of her latest singles, and I’m super excited to hear the rest of the release. She straddles the lines between pop, rock, indie and punk with ease and puts out something genuinely unique. Let’s get into it!

‘Modern Day Love Affair’ starts off heavier than I was expecting, and certainly heavier than the two tracks I reacted to. The Great riff heads into more punk territory once the vocals kick in, with her singing in between the guitars for the first part. It almost has a J-rock edge to it all, or at very least reminds me of Joanovarc’s ‘Say Sayonara’. I think it’s the multi-tracked vocals that’s doing it, but it makes it sound huge and very impactful. The chorus is just as big and catchy as the rest of it, and I’m sure it’ll be a fan favourite live. Overall it’s a great straight-up rock song, and a fantastic way to open an EP!

Soon-to-be single ‘Breathe’ is up next. It opens straight into her awesome, slightly distorted vocals, backed only by the solid bass drum. The fuzzy bass comes in behind to add even more attitude to it all before it builds into a huge pre. It’s spacious and catchy in its own right.

Then, the track leans heavily into AM territory with the riff and chorus. The guitar tone is very Arctic Monkeys while her vocals even remind me a bit of Alex Turner’s at times throughout, from the accent to melody to pronunciation. The chorus is great though, another catchy, arena-filling vocal hook with huge guitars behind it. The half-time in the second chorus is also fantastic. Everything culminating together in the final chorus was great too, and finished off an amazing song. Playlisted, easily.

You can check out my reaction and thoughts on ‘Cigarette Smoke’ (as well as ‘Panic’ a little later) down below. But I’ll still give a few brief words now for those who don’t have the time to watch.

Check out more pop rock here.

The fuzzy bass and simple drums fit well behind Burridge ‘s voice, making it all feel pretty punk. It all builds into a great pre and HUGE chorus that has been stuck in my head on and off since I first heard it a few months ago. It’s a fantastic track that I cannot heap enough praise onto. It fits perfectly into the current pop-rock resurgence, while still sounding different and having a punky edge. It’s already on the playlist!

The final new track, ‘Done Wrong’, channels massive pop-punk energy. From the riff to the melody to the gang vocals, it’s all very Paramore and other modern bands on the edge of punk. It’s good fun and very catchy, just like the rest of the tracks. It’s another great song!

Closing track ‘Panic’ is another one I have loved for months now. It opens straight into Burridge ‘s powerful vocals and a great punk rock riff. Also, it’s another hugely catchy chorus and one that will be on a loop around my head for the rest of the day. I especially love the stripped-back version of it that closes out the track. It’s one of my favourite outros of the year, I think! Great stuff, and another for the playlist!

Overall: This was fantastic. It’s great to hear the youth infusing rock into the more pop sound, and it’s becoming a rather big, mainstream thing again these days. Every track is great and is definitely worth checking out, and I’ll be listening to it a lot in the coming weeks and months. Hopefully we get the chance to hear it live soon!

The Score: 8/10

New Music Mondays: Halestorm, Three Days Grace and Much More!

An absolutely HUGE week for New Music Mondays. 12 massive albums from some of the biggest names in rock and metal all out on the same day. I don’t know what it was about May 6th, but I’ve been waiting for it for a while. Without further ado, let’s get to it!

Halestorm: Back From the Dead

Back from the dead indeed. After four years the band returned with their follow-up to 2018’s Vicious. The two singles from the album were both fantastic, setting the scene for the rest of it perfectly. However, you are going to have to wait just a little longer for my review and score, as there is no way I’m NOT doing this in depth! It should be on the site and socials within a couple of days, so keep an eye out!

Three Days Grace: EXPLOSIONS

One of the leaders of the affectionately dubbed ‘butt-rock’ sub-genre, Three Days Grace have been around over two decades at this point and show no sign of slowing down. I have to admit, I haven’t really actively listened to this band since One-X all the way back in 2006. So, it was nice to find myself rather pleasantly surprised by this album!

All the elements of butt-rock are here, the basic, heavy guitar riffs, the electronic melodies to help build the track and the edgy lyrical content. However, it is clear it is being written by a band that know exactly what they are doing, and do it exceptionally well. While the opener and lead single was a little too edgy for me, tracks like ‘I Am The Weapon’ and ‘No Tomorrow’ are just as good as anything else they’ve put out. Even the slower tracks like ‘Lifetime’ and ‘Redemption’ are fantastic, even if they are pretty depressing lyrically. Still, the emotion is definitely there, in every track. It’s made me want to check out the albums from them I’ve missed and I’ll definitely be listening to this a lot in the coming weeks! 7/10

Simple Plan: Harder Than it Looks

The Canadian pop-punkers have done a lot more than just ‘What’s New Scooby Do?’. The band have had some amazing, huge tracks over their now six album career. Their latest looks to continue that trend, being packed with huge, catchy, arena-filling choruses and vocal lines… and not a great deal else. Don’t get me wrong, the instrumentation is fine, but there isn’t really any of it that I would consider memorable. It’s a usual issue with pop punk, but it’s more prevalent in more anthemic bands like these or Good Charlotte. Still, tracks like the opener and ‘Million Pictures of You’ are good fun and highlights of a fairly standard, samey album. 6.5/10

Fozzy: Boombox

Another album I have to do an in-depth review of I’m afraid, as I have been a Jericho fan for as long as I can remember. Still though, from what I’ve heard so far, it’s going to be pretty good, and certainly better than their last couple of albums!

Silverstein: Misery Made Me

The pop-punk/emo/post hardcore(?) band hit double digits on their discography last week. This sort of music was never really my thing as a kid, in fact I actively avoided most ’emo’ music aside the odd AFI song. So, because of that, I know the band by name only. However, I did enjoy this album. The band managed to put together some interesting different styles throughout. I didn’t think the opening track was that heavy at all and leant heavily into pop-punk so it had me wondering where the post hardcore was. Then the heavy second track came in and I understood a lot more.

Tracks like ‘Ultraviolet’, ‘It’s Over’ and ‘Slow Motion’ also perfectly blend these two styles. The tracks have some awesome catchiness blended with the heaviness too. I’m actually pissed at myself for not giving this band a chance sooner, I’ll definitely be checking them out more! It’s an effortless style of arena-heavy-rock that bands like Asking Alexandria and BVB have tried to varying degrees of success recently. Awesome stuff! 8.5/10

Ibaraki: Rashomon

Trivium frontman and all-round metal legend Matt Heafy finally put out his solo album last week. This is said album. Oh, and it’s death/black metal, so I have been even more excited! Opening on a seven-and-a-half minute death epic for an essentially debut album is a ballsy move, but Heafy pulls it off masterfully. Insane riffs and a harsher scream than I have heard him use in a while, as well as still some of his powerful cleans, start the album off strong.

Then there’s the all out assault of ‘Ibaraki-Doji’ and the darkly beautiful black metal slow build of ‘Jigoku Dayu’, both of which are massive highlights. Oh, and Behemoth’s own Nergal also makes an appearance on the awesome ‘Akumu’, another highlight. There is also guest appearances from the legendary Ihsahn of Emperor and even My Chemical Romance Frontman Gerard Way. Oh, and yes, you guessed it, both tracks are also awesome. Especially the latter, which sees the usually clean vocalist scream his fucking lungs out. I honestly didn’t think he had it in him, that was awesome. Heafy does a good job of managing to make it sound not too much like Trivium, but still have that recognisable edge to it. While I wouldn’t put it quite up there with Court of the Dragon, it is still an insanely strong album. 9/10

Otoboke Beaver: Super Champon

I don’t understand how these girls have over 100k monthly listeners. Then again, the punk scene is and always has been weird. I’m going to be honest with you, I didn’t make it through the whole album. I couldn’t. The vocals were barely in tune and the lyrics were SO VERY REPETITIVE. For a guy who complains about the Killers’s magnum opus ‘Mr Brightside’ being ‘lazy’ for having the same verse twice, this band make them look like J.R. Tolkien. I don’t get it, it sounds awful. If you like it please let me know on our socials what I’m missing, because this was not good. 2/10

Depressed Mode: Decade of Silence

The doom metallers returned after… well… a decade of silence (13 years, to be exact). I’ve already reviewed this very good album, so you can check out what I had to say, alongside my score, here.

Terror: Pain Into Power

This is the first ‘beatdown hardcore’ band I believe we have (at least knowingly) covered here at Overtone. While I feel like I have heard the term somewhere before, it doesn’t sound like my sort of thing so I suspect this will be a review of my first time listening to a whole new sub-genre today, rare these days.

It’s alright. Better than I expected it to be, given the name of the subgenre. It wasn’t anything special but there were a few good riffs, like the one at the end of ‘Boundless Contempt’. And it didn’t overstay its welcome either, being just 18-minutes spread across ten songs. Even the lyrics weren’t terrible. It’s not the best thing I’ve ever listened to but I’ll happily listen to it again. 6/10

Puppy: Pure Evil

This was somehow a more doom version of Smashing Pumpkins. The intro track made me think the album was going to be pretty slow and heavy, but then ‘The Kiss’ flipped it all on its head. It’s an interesting blend of styles: doom/stoner, metal, grunge and even some desert rock. I enjoyed it a fair bit, with ‘Spellbound’ being my particular album highlight. 6/10

I Am The Night: While the Gods Are Sleeping

It’s black metal. That alone should tell you exactly what to expect. I’ve really tried, guys. I’ve been doing NMM for over seven months now and have since listened to a fair amount of black metal. It’s the only sub-genre that does absolutely nothing for me. The musicians in this band are clearly very good at what they do, and the vocalist has one hell of a scream on him, but the actual songs kinda bore me. This is what people think of when they use phrases like ‘all metal just sounds the same’ and ‘you can’t tell what they’re saying’ and you know what, they’re absolutely right. I am the Night are a solid band and probably a great black metal band, bit it isn’t for me. 3/10

Stand Atlantic: f.e.a.r.

I nearly didn’t cover this. Then I remembered I covered Avril Lavigne in one of these and realised I kind of had to. It is still guitar based, even if it is more pop than rock. It reminds me very much of the likes of Olivia Rodrigo or Gayle in its melody, just with slightly more guitars. It isn’t a bad thing and is certainly catchy. It’s simply very basic catchiness and the lyrics are not really my sort of thing. It’s clearly inspired by modern female pop and punk (like AS IT IS) alongside the likes of Avril and P!no. It simply doesn’t quite live up to those influences. Tracks like ‘Deathwish’ and ‘Don’t Talk’ are pretty decent though and definite highlights. 5.5/10

Let the Bad Times Roll: Can the Pop-Punk Legends Return to Form After Their Last Album?

Pop Punk pioneers The Offspring have been rather quiet over the last few years, with their last album coming out way back in 2012. However, there was a time when they, alongside other genre leaders such as Green Day and Blink 182, were one of the biggest bands on the planet. You couldn’t go anywhere in 1999 without hearing ‘Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)’, and even still it, alongside a handful of their other earlier hits, get massive amounts of plays on the likes of Kerrang! and MTV Rocks. The band has sold over 40 million albums in their time, one of the highest of any rock band from the mid-nineties onwards. Fast forward to 2021 and the band has finally released their much anticipated tenth studio album, ‘Let The Bad Times Roll’. I have personally been a fan of this band for as long as I can remember, so I’m excited to finally have some new music by them. Join me in checking it out!

‘This is Not Utopia’ opens on a suitably big power-chord build-up, immediately feeling like old-school Offspring. However, within just a couple of seconds, it drops down a little, getting lighter and leaning more on their Americana influences through the verses. The bell of the cymbals are a particular highlight as it chimes in over the top of the sporadic guitar chords. Dexter’s voice threw me off a little at first; it’s definitely changed over the years. Then again, it’s hard to keep up his punk shouting well into his 50s, so to still sound as good as he does. Even if he does sound older, is a testament to his talents. It all builds towards the huge choruses, the vocal lines being massively catchy and melodic over the top of the HUGE instrumentation. It’s still arena-filling punk rock all these years later and just goes to show why they are still towards the top of the rock world today.

Next up is the lead single of the album and its title track. Opening straight into one of the catchiest choruses they’ve ever written is always going to stand them in good stead, again leaning into their Americana sounds, lots of percussion songs behind a simple guitar riff and the vocals. The verse is just as catchy, building up more and more throughout, even with the dropped-down pre. However, that is my only slight issue with this song. It builds up and builds up perfectly, and then everything drops out again for the chorus. It’s an awesome chorus, as I’ve said, but it feels like the build-up is wasted. Add some heavy guitars in the back for all but the first one and it could have been even more incredible. I do have to say though, to drag it back to the positives, I personally loved the lyrics for this song. Sure, they were juvenile, but just about everyone has had days like this in their lives, and it has definitely been how I’ve felt before. There isn’t much to this song, a slight bridge after the second chorus before it goes straight into a final one again. Still, it’s enough to easily make my playlist! It does do the cardinal sin of fading out, but it wasn’t enough to change my mind.  

‘Behind Your Walls’ opens on a nice, slow guitar riff before it drops into the popular pop-punk trope of palm-muted guitar power chords with quiet vocals over the top. Still, it sounds awesome and I love it. A little off-topic, but these days Dexter’s low vocals are starting to sound more and more like Andy Biersack’s. It again builds up nicely into a massive chorus; not quite as catchy as the previous two but it still sounds huge. The song feels a little odd in terms of its structure, it never dropping down again, staying around the same sort of level as the first chorus throughout. There isn’t much to write home about with it either; it’s simply a damn good, straightforward punk song.

‘Army of One’ picks up the pace and heaviness nicely, a huge drumbeat opening this one up with some great guitars coming in over the top. It heads straight into the chorus from here, again one of the better ones the band has ever done, catchy and easy to sing along to live. The backing vocals adding multiple layers to it is a great touch, too. The verse is a little weak, just kind of being there so they had something to play around the awesome chorus. The riffs from Noodles here are some of the best on the album so far, though. The chorus alone nearly made me put it in the playlist, but everything else around it was just a tad too weak.

‘Breaking These Bones’ opens on an even better drumbeat than the last one; fast and heavy. The guitars are built in slowly over the top until it eventually bursts into a great punk rock riff. It stays pretty heavy through the verse, the guitars and bass only playing between the vocal lines through most of it, another great pop-punk trope. The chorus is the least massive one on the album so far, feeling straight-up punk instead of anthemic. It actually reminds me a lot of one of their older songs, ‘Can’t Repeat’. We even get a slight guitar solo in this one. Sure, it is mostly made up of the same note bent over and over, but it’s better than nothing! It then launches into a final chorus and heavy outro riff to finish. A fantastic, short, straight-to-the-point rock song that didn’t overstay its welcome at all. Especially impressive that it accomplishes all of that in under three minutes!

Next up is a weird one as it was released way back in 2015 as the album’s first single, it has just taken this long to actually get the thing finished and released. Because of this, ‘Coming For You’ already had over 35k streams on Spotify alone while others on the album are still below 1000 (as of the album’s release). Therefore fans of the band, myself included, are pretty familiar with the song already, so it feels weird analysing it so deeply. Still though, it opens on a pretty funky drum and bassline that is built into a great verse. The backing vocals through the verses again add some great added depth to it and are all very catchy. The chorus is equally catchy, and the guitar solo that generally follows the same melody that the vocals did was a great touch. This song is awesome from start to finish, it sounds like it would have easily sat comfortably with some of the band’s hits from back in the mid-90s, a very impressive feat. It’s enjoyable and very catchy and, since it was technically released this year again, made the playlist.

Next up is the most recent single from the album, ‘We Never Have Sex Anymore’. Opening much like the previous song but leaning heavily into their Latin side as an amazing guitar riff comes in, accompanied by an AMAZING trumpet melody. As I have said before in previous reviews, I adore the use of horns in rock music, they add such a great bounce and specific energy to everything that you can’t get without them, and they have been used so well and sparingly that I honestly can’t think of a time it has been done badly. This is no exception; I already love this song. Said horns come back in the chorus, adding even more catchiness and greatness to it all. The lyrics are again pretty juvenile but are pretty well written and are damn enjoyable. We get a horn solo followed by a horn and guitar harmonised solo midway through and it adds so much awesomeness to the song I can’t even do it justice in writing. Why aren’t more rock bands incorporating ska elements anymore? My favourite song on the album by quite a margin, and I think it’s up there among my favourite songs of the year. Playlisted.

After a short, minute-long instrumental track that Alton Towers should definitely be using from now on, we get the next proper track, ‘The Opioid Diaries’. It opens almost straight into a fast verse before soon reaching another huge, catchy chorus. It’s a good song but there isn’t much I can say about it that I haven’t already said about previous songs. It’s a pretty straightforward punk rock song and definitely has its place on the album, but it feels a little more like filler than the other songs on the album up until this point. The same could be said for the following song, ‘Hassan Chop’. It’s maybe the silliest track on the album and also the closest to old-school punk; simple, fast music full of attitude and crazy lyrics. Again, it’s a good song but feels a little meh compared to a lot of the rest of the album.

The final official track from the album is a piano/string version of their 1997 single, ‘Gone Away’. One of my favourite songs by the band, it is made even more beautiful in this rendition, the instrumentation adding even more weight to the perfect vocals and lyrics. It does feel a little like it is trying to one-up Five Finger Death Punch’s cover of it from a few years ago, but in that respect it very much does. This is my new favourite version of this song. So much so that it also ended up on the playlist.

Overall: there was a hell of a lot to like from this album. A massive improvement on the last album (honestly California Cruising can go to hell), there were a few songs here that I would put up amongst the band’s best. Sure, there were a couple of filler tracks on here and an argument could be made that the ‘Gone Away’ re-release was a little unnecessary. However, considering this is their best album in easily 13 years, if not more, as well as giving us a few legitimately awesome songs, you can let them off for putting a couple of not-perfect songs on there. It was just a damn good pop-punk record, and a return to form for a fantastic band.

Overall: 7.5/10

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Embers: Does the Aussie Rocker’s EP live up to the Album’s Standards?

Nautical Mile is Perth’s newest breakout pop-punk band. Having released their debut album back in 2019, they return with their first non-single release since with last week’s new EP. I hadn’t actually heard of the band before I got the email about them, but I am a big fan of the band and there is so much good music coming out of that area of the world recently, so I’m excited to check it out!

‘Dying Light’ opens on some of the most pop-punk vocals I’ve ever heard and a pretty simple guitar riff behind them. It immediately gives me Neck Deep and ADTR vibes, which is definitely a good thing! It builds up pretty well with the introduction of the drums and bass before exploding into a HUGE riff for what I assumed was the chorus. My suspicions were confirmed by the time the second chorus hits, the same riff coming back but this time with some pretty catchy vocals over the top of it. The chorus grows on me more and more each time I hear it too, I love it by the third time through. Add that to the awesome little bridge riff and the dropdown and build-up leading into the final chorus and we have a great song! It was enjoyable, catchy and the structure was just different enough to keep it interesting, something that pop-punk seems to have always struggled with.

Lead single ‘Purgatory’ opens on a heavier riff than anything we heard on the previous song, definitely leaning more towards the ADTR end of the spectrum. It stays pretty fast-paced through the verse, the combination of chugging and lighter guitar notes behind the vocals reminding me of ‘What’s My Age Again?’ quite a bit. It again builds into a massive chorus, this one even bigger and catchier than the previous songs. The backing vocals add a lot of depth to it all and the vocals themselves sound a little like Gerard Way’s to me. The heavy riff comes out the back end of it but doesn’t last quite long enough, dropping back into the verse quickly. In fact, there are quite a few heavy riffs throughout this that could have been used a bit more, but in all, it’s not the worst as we get more catchy vocal hooks. A brief dropdown again builds into a massive final chorus to round out what is all-around an awesome song, and one that makes the playlist!

‘Where do we Go’ is another that opens on a pretty great riff, building up and exploding into a heavier version of it before dropping down again for the verse. It builds into a pretty catchy pre which, in turn, builds to a great chorus. It’s the best thing about this band so far that I’ve heard, they are VERY good at structuring a song, building it up more and more into some truly epic-feeling choruses. This song even has a breakdown, and a pretty heavy one at that, which was a nice surprise too! It’d be awesome to hear them go that heavy more, just as a little finger cross from me… Another good song too, by the way, this was awesome!

‘Suppression’ is another great track, the chorus being a particular highlight of it due to its infectious catchiness. The riffs again are pretty heavy behind the vocals too, which is always nice to hear. The same could be said for the final track on the album, ‘Embers’, too. It’s a good, pretty heavy pop-punk track that is a good way to close out the EP. It’s a bit more anthemic than the others, the lyrics being powerful and a classic breakup song. Great stuff!

Overall: This was good! It’s pretty difficult for me to find new pop-punk that I like these days due to the limitations the genre presents, but each song here was enjoyable and worth another few listens. I’ll definitely be checking out more from this band and am looking forward to future releases!

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Below: Have Beartooth got what it takes to take Hardcore Punk to the mainstream?

Columbus formed hardcore punk/metalcore band Beartooth has achieved a lot in their nine years together. Being a band for less than a decade, they’ve released four studio albums and have toured around the globe, amassing a pretty large, dedicated fanbase. Having said all of that, I haven’t checked them out all that much. I know a couple of their songs that I listen to every so often but generally speaking, their style of music isn’t something I usually explore. For Overtone’s very first New Music Monday, I thought Beartooth would be the ideal artist to kick off with. 

The album’s title track starts out with a whole lot of fuzz and reverb before a steady drumbeat and some hardcore style screamed vocals that lead us into a HEAVY riff. The vocals get cleaner through the verse – Caleb Shomo’s voice being pretty punky and actually preferable to his screams in this writer’s humble opinion. The chorus slows things down with a catchy melody, even if it does come out of nowhere a little. The screamed lines at the end of the chorus are pretty great too and lead perfectly into that awesome guitar riff again. We head into a quick guitar riff coming out of the second chorus, accompanied by more screamed vocals. It builds up pretty perfectly into a sludgy, slower breakdown riff; this is definitely something I’d like to hear live. It’s again accompanied by more harsh vocals which I enjoyed more – maybe I’m starting to warm up to them? A great, heavy song to open an album on.

The lead single ‘Devastation’ opens on another huge scream and keeps the album heavy. The effects overall add a slight Avatar feel to it. The harsh vocals stop again when it comes to the clean, catchy chorus – the pop-punk type vocals giving me an earworm for the rest of the day. We get a great, low drumbeat coming out of the second chorus before a basic, chuggy riff builds it all back up again into a MASSIVE breakdown. Everything from the screamed callout of the song title to the slow-ish, basic but heavy guitar riff ties together amazingly well. We get another final chorus before the breakdown comes back around to finish the track. I preferred this one to the previous song and can definitely see why it was chosen as a single.

‘The Past is Dead’ was another pre-release track from the album and is the lightest so far. Opening on a catchy vocal hook/chant is always going to win over the hardcore-punk crowds. The lower harmonies over the vocals in the lighter verse are a nice touch and lead into a fantastic chorus, reminding me of A Day To Remember – it’s the most “arena-filling”, catchy chorus for sure. In comparison to other breakdowns on the album, this track’s breakdown is pretty tame and feels more like a filler-bridge. A stripped-back chorus leads to a final chorus to end the song. This was a simple yet pretty great song and another good choice for a single. This one easily made the playlist!

‘Fed Up’ opens on some more cringy, adolescent-style lyrics, again channelling their inner ADTR. At least it builds in to a pretty good, fast, hardcore punk riff that drops in and out for every vocal line – like a call and response between vocals and instruments to add an extra layer of dynamics. It’s another pretty basic song, building to a big, open pop-punk chorus. The only thing that separates it from the likes of Sum 41 is the heavier, de-tuned guitar riff at various intervals throughout. Oh and the usual breakdown, but again this one was nothing compared to the first two tracks – even if it was a pretty good riff. A final chorus and heavier breakdown (again) finishes this one off and, in comparison to the previous tracks on the album so far, this felt like the weakest.

‘Dominate’ keeps the vibe of the album going with screamed vocals and a crazy low guitar riff; it could be classed as a thrash riff in terms of the intensity and speed. The chorus is slower and features some generally cleaner vocals, although the screams are still present. There’s a crazy blast beat between the chorus and the second verse too; it blows my mind that drummers can play that fast. Another fantastic breakdown callout scream leads to an interesting breakdown, the riff being unconventional but pretty damn enjoyable. If anything, the breakdown doesn’t last long enough and quickly heads back into a final chorus before the blast beat and heavy outro finishes things off. This was by far the best of the heavier songs so far and easily makes the playlist.

‘No Return’ keeps things heavy for a moment with another awesome opening riff but outside of that, it’s another clean vocalled, slower radio-friendlier track. It’s not bad at all but there are better versions of this type of song, some of which are on this album. Again, the lyrics get a little cringy for me at times, too. ‘Phantom Pain’ gives off some more hardcore feeling through the verses, but again has a massively pop-punk chorus – a format that (again) has been done better on the opening two tracks of the album. Both songs are good, but just a little generic at this point. Either that or I’m starting to get sick of the album. ‘Skin’ is the closest thing to a ballad on the album but it is also their most ADTR-y song. Apart from a decent chorus, I have very little interest in this track.

‘Hell of It’ is the last of the pre-released songs and brings the heaviness of the album back with a vengeance by opening on a great guitar riff and some awesome harsh vocals. It leads into a pretty decent, quick riff and the harsh vocals stick around almost throughout this time. The chorus is pretty damn catchy and may be my favourite on the album, perhaps my favourite Beartooth track of all time. The breakdown’s mega-low guitar riff sounds a tad evil – much more to my liking. Playlisted!

Unfortunately, the final few tracks go back to being A Day to Remember-like. On paper or as an isolated listen, I like the songs ‘I Won’t Give Up’ and ‘The Answer’ but both remind me of slightly heavier ‘radio rock’ that has been done countless times before. Meanwhile, ‘The Last Riff’ is just a nearly five minute instrumental track revolving mainly around one guitar riff. It’s a good, heavy, almost epic riff, but a pretty boring and uneventful way to finish an album.

Overall: I enjoyed this more than I expected to. Would it make my album of the year consideration? Hell no. But it has made me more of a fan of the band, so that’s a good thing at least. There were some damn good songs scattered through here, but also a fair few just plane average ones. Still, I’ll probably be going back and checking out their older stuff as a result, so I guess overall it’s a pretty positive result and a pretty decent album.

Score: 6/10

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Van Weezer: Have the pop punk legends still got it 15 albums in?

Van Weezer has been a long time coming. Teased all the way back in 2019 with the first single, ‘The End of the Game’, the pandemic put a halt on things for a good while. However, the band stayed active throughout by releasing a further three singles in 2020 (one of which featured in the latest Bill and Ted movie) in order to keep up the hype for their fifteenth studio album. I have been a fan of Weezer for pretty much my whole life. Having grown up with them, despite not keeping up with their latest works, I still play their first few albums a lot today. Having said that, I’ve already listened to and fallen in love with the opening track. So let’s get on with the review, shall we?

As I said previously, I adore the opening track ‘Hero’. Everything about it screams great radio-rock single. From the verse’s vocals between the guitar chords to the rather simple and pretty relevant lyrics of one of the best choruses I’ve heard in years. I’m honestly trying hard not to say too much about it because I will just gush about it for a while. So, instead of doing my usual play by play on it, I’ll just say that no matter what music you like you should check this out. You won’t regret it. Heck, I would even put this up there with some of their early hits.

‘All the Good Ones’ opens on an almost indie rock guitar riff, but the sliding out of it is massively Weezer of them. The stripped back verse sounds great, starting with some simple bass and drums behind the vocals before the guitar is brought in over the top. It builds into a pretty simple but huge-sounding chorus – the vocal hook being so catchy and effective. The harmonies and backing vocals in the later choruses are great, too. There isn’t a great deal to this song. It’s effectively built around the fantastic chorus but it is a good, slower album track.

Next we have the album’s lead single that was originally released all the way back in 2019 – ‘The End of the Game’. It opens on some great guitar tapping that not only fits the album name perfectly but also reminds me that Weezer are all amazing at their chosen instruments – not just some songwriters who know some chords. The Van Halen inspiration continues into a riff that sounds a fair bit like Panama and has some great harmonics thrown in for good measure. The verse is pretty steady and simple again, being pretty similar to the previous song. The chorus is good but I would say it’s the weakest of the three so far. It would still be amazing to see it live, though! We get a brief, indie-style riff, but some more awesome guitar work in the background. Then a final chorus finishes things off. Whilst it is the lead single, I found myself enjoying this one the least out of the songs so far.

‘I Need Some of That’ is the most recent single from the album. It opens on a fun drum roll before heading into a pretty light-hearted riff – their signature high guitar leads shining through perfectly. They launch into another slower, stripped back verse but the chorus that follows is great. It features some extremely catchy vocals and even some catchy backing vocals and harmonies. Speaking of the lyrics, I can’t help but appreciate. Anyone who has been in a band before can relate deeply. Heck, it feels almost like an anthem for folk like us. We are even treated to a brief and simple (yet effective) guitar solo between the last choruses. We then get the 90s/early 2000s trope of leaving studio sound clips at the end of the song for a good 20 seconds. This is something I never particularly got or understood, however if there are people out there that enjoy them and don’t immediately skip them then great! Another awesome song and maybe my favourite outside of ‘Hero’ so far.

Now we reach a song that I should have heard by now as it was part of the soundtrack to Bill and Ted Face the Music. I am somehow yet to see that movie and that makes me sad. It opens on some ambient build-up before immediately dropping down into Rivers Cuomo’s vocals and clean guitar chords. It’s an odd transition but it sounds great. This one builds up a little slower than the previous songs. The distorted guitars come in for a second verse before we reach a chorus. In fact, the more I listen to this song, I cannot seem to find much of a chorus in it at all. There is a kick-ass guitar solo or two in it though, one that Bill and Ted would be proud of. I finally managed to find the chorus at the end of the song; it was simply just not all that catchy and there wasn’t a lot of difference between the chorus and the distorted verse so I lost track at first. It was still a good song and the first time since their debut I think I’ve found myself enjoying the instrumentation over the vocals.

‘Blue Dream’ blew my mind right from the get go due to the vast majority of the instrumentation being a blatant copy/homage to Ozzy’s brilliant ‘Crazy Train’. However, they do put some strange effect on the guitar during the first riff which makes the whole track sound a little like an early 2000s club song – definitely an odd change of pace. After that though, the song stays at a high quality. They have some fun with the iconic riffs and even squeeze in another pretty great guitar solo and some interesting half timed drums. While not as good as the actual ‘Crazy Train’, and not the best song on the album by a stretch due to a fairly weak chorus, it was still a fun, entertaining song that did something not a lot of artists do.

‘1 More Hit’ starts off with a surprisingly heavy, essentially a metal, riff. However, Rivers’ vocals come in and somehow immediately make it sound lighter. It builds into a pretty great chorus too – catchy and pretty comical lyrically. We then get an even HEAVIER riff coming out of the second chorus. Weezer gives us a breakdown which is in equal parts surprising and fantastic. It if anything just makes me want more metal from the band! We also get another 80s staple, a key change higher for the final chorus, channelling their inner Bon Jovi. I loved this and not just because I’m a huge metalhead, I promise! Another amazing Weezer song and one that has made the playlist!

‘Sheila Can Do It’ and ‘She Needs Me’ feel like the inevitable dip in quality that 95% of albums suffer from towards the end of the album. They’re not bad songs at all, but they feel a little more like filler songs than an album priority. The former gives off slight ‘Buddy Holly’ vibes, but unfortunately it isn’t quite up to the same quality. At least we got another fairly good guitar solo in the latter song, though!

The final track ‘Precious Metal Girl’ features my least favourite modern rock trope: ending on the slow song. It always makes it feel like such a damp, lacklustre ending and I don’t understand why so many bands don’t go out with a bang any more. However, outside of my personal preferences on how an album should be arranged, this is another amazing song. It’s simple – just Rivers’ vocals and an acoustic guitar, but it is very effective. The lyrics are a highlight for me too. They’re my favourite on the album by a fair margin. If this song wasn’t featured at the end of the album, I might have been even better. However, it is still one of the best songs on the album.

Overall: I enjoyed this WAY more than I was expecting to. As I said, I am a big fan of the band but I haven’t checked out a whole bunch of their latest stuff over the last ten years or so. There was nothing bad here; a couple of the songs weren’t up to the same quality as the rest, but there were also some that stood out. If they hadn’t released ‘Hero’ last year as a single, it may have been my favourite song of the year so far. The likes of ‘I need Some of That’ and ‘1 More Hit’ are some of the best songs I’ve heard from Weezer since the very early 2000s. Overall, a very enjoyable album.

Score: 7.5/10

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