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
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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