Tag Archives: prog

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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Decade of Silence: How Do Depressed Mode Sound After 13 Years Away?

Depressed Mode are a Finnish doom/death/prog metal band. Formed in 2005 as a solo project of Ossy Salonen, the band released two albums in the few years after before going silent through the 2010s. However, the band returned this last week with their first album in over a decade, and titled it accordingly! I’m not particuarly familiar with the band so I’m excited to be checking it out!

‘Death Walks Among us’ opens on a beautiful orchestral piece. It builds and builds perfectly. But, at a minute-and-a-half before the guitars and drums come in, it may be just a tad long. The strings continuing on in the back is an excellent touch, made even better moments later when the lead guitar harmonises with it. It then heads into full-on doom metal for the verse, the low growls also bringing in the death element. Surprisingly though, there were some clean vocals in here too. Not many, but it broke things up a bit and added a catchy element to it all.

The chuggy, almost breakdown part afterwards was fantastic. The growls fit in well and the violins when they come back in. The cleans come back in for what I assume is the chorus before and it even leads to a pretty sweet guitar solo, even if it was a tad short. The final chorus with the duelling clean and harsh vocals was FANTASTIC and rounds out one hell of an opening track. This is everything I could possibly want out of the heavier side o metal. It was heavy, packed full of great riffs and great screams. But, to top it off, it has some great clean vocals and a real epic feel to it thanks to the strings. The easiest playlist I’ve done in a while!

‘Endless November’ starts off slow but still heavy. The clean vocals remain too, reminding me of Tobias Forge in their higher, harmonised delivery. A higher, more female-led symphonic metal vocal adds even more depth to it. It plays off the other clean perfectly. It has a very black/doom metal vibe about it all. And it benefits from being on the proggier side length wise too, as the pace doesn’t really pick up until a few minutes in, the harsh vocals not coming in until after that. They’re pretty far back in the mix though, almost treated like another instrument. The operatic female vocal takes the lead here in a big way, giving us an even catchier chorus than the previous tracks! The whole song is more like symphonic metal than anything else, doom being the next closest. It’s epic and a lot of fun, another great song!

Check out our review of a similar band, Extinction in Progress, here.

‘Dissociation of the Extinguished Mind’ is another one with an epic opening, even having a pretty great guitar solo around the one minute mark. It stays slow for the verse and the growls return. There’s a great riff that comes in around the mid-point of the song, the lead guitar following the string accompaniment perfectly. There’s the odd vocal line and sound as well behind it, spoken word kinda style, and it really reminds me of Faith no More. The clean vocals afterwards added a nice change of pace, and again when they go back to them later, and around it are more heavy, growled verses. It fading out to a piano outro was also fantastic, adding an epic, creepy finale to things. Good stuff!

The piano continues on into the intro of ‘As the Light Dims’, and the violin over the top makes it all so beautiful. The guitars come in over the top, as do the female vocal lines. The dynamics of the track are fun, heading into some growls before dropping back down to the piano and female ‘ooo’s and ‘ahhh’s. It builds back up again with the Ghost-like clean vocals and huge distorted guitar chords. At one point all three vocal styles are duelling and it sounds AMAZING. The whole track is heavy, proggy greatness.

Unfortunately, this is where the album peaks for me. Don’t me wrong, the following five tracks are all awesome, and I will definitely be listening to them again a few times after this. Heck, the riff for ‘Serpents’ is my favourite on the whole album, and the track is a highlight for sure. And it was nice to have some more upbeat tracks again like ‘Eternal Darkness’. However, there are a lot of slower parts throughout the album. Anyone who visits this site reguarly knows that my patience for this type of music isn’t the best. It’s all fantastically written and awesome to listen to, but nine songs clocking in at over an hour is a little much for me all in one sitting!

Overall: As I’ve said, this was awesome. It was an epic, heavy, very well-written album full of everything you could ask for from the sub-genre. A fantastic return after well over a decade away!

The Score: 8/10

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New Music Mondays: Stereophonics, Sabaton and More!

New music time! Six new albums from six awesome bands. Let’s get straight to it!

Oh, but first, a quick honourable mention: check out The Death South’s covers EPs, Easy Listening for Jerks! Neither are albums or exactly rock, but cover some rock songs and are definitely worth a listen!

Stereophonics: Oochya!

Welsh rock band Stereophonics put out their 11th studio album last week. That makes me feel old. I was a big fan back in their early days, but generally haven’t liked much after ‘Langauge. Sex…’. This album perfectly demonstrates my issue with the band. It’s good music, it’s perfectly passable soft/pop rock and there are definitely some standout tracks. However, I didn’t get into Stereophonics or the plodding, slow ballads. I got into them from ‘Bartender and the Thief’ and ‘Check My Eyelids for Holes’. I know the band has always had a liking of slower tracks, but they used to spread them out between more upbeat ones. This is nearly all slow. When Elton John could put out a more rockin’ album these days, it’s definitely not a good sign. However, the opening track and ‘Running Around my Brain’ are both good! 5/10

Sabaton: The War To End All Wars

The Swedish power metal titans released their tenth album on Friday, and to no surprise it is also about war. Also to what should be no ones surprise, it’s really good. Those who know me know I’ve always been a little so-so when it comes to power metal, but this is a masterclass in how the genre is done from the very best in the genre. From the very opening note of ‘Stormtroopers’ to the epic closing fade-out of ‘Versaille’, it is a 40-minute collection of awesomeness. All the singles are slow, ballad-style epics, and tracks like the opener and ‘Hellfighters’ are awesome faster tracks! 8/10

Check out our AMPED review!

Crowbar: Zero And Below

The doom/sludge metal band finally released their first album after six years. I am a pretty big fan of Kirk Windstein from his amazing playing alongside Pepper Keenan in Down, but I’ll admit I haven’t checked out Kirk’s original band much before. I don’t know why either, because I liked it! It’s heavy, brimming with riffs and, well, sludgy! This band get nowhere near as much love as they should get, and I blame that for why I haven’t listened to them much. Tracks like ‘Bleeding From Every Hole’ and ‘Confess to Nothing’ are perfect examples of the bands style and a great jumping-in point to the genre, for those interested! 7.5/10

The Flower Kings: By Royal Decree

The prog rock band are definitely the weirdest album on this list this week, but that shouldn’t take away from the album at all. It reminds me a fair bit of Jethro Tull in its arrangement and feel, especially their new album that came out a couple of weeks ago. It’s weird, long, and shows off a talent for instrumentation and songwriting that I can only dream of. My only criticism is that most of the tracks are around the 5+ minute mark, but there’s 18 of them. The album is over an hour and a half long. As the saying goes, you can in fact have too much of a good thing. I will definitely be listening to this album a good few times, but I definitely couldn’t stick it on and concentrate through the whole thing in one sitting, it would have to be more background music. Still as I said, a fun, enjoyable album! 7/10

Ghost Toast: Shade Without Colour

Time to get heavy…ish. I’m not sure if they would prefer to be described as math metal or post-Tool, but it definitely has that sort of vibe! For those who can’t get into the genre, I have to warn you it is also instrumental. I personally enjoy instrumental music, though a full hour + is a tad too much for me all at once. Still though, the entire band are incredibly talented, and tracks like ‘Get Rid of’ and ‘Let Me Be No Nearer’ are definite highlights of a very good album! It’s the sort of music that I would LOVE to see live. 7/10

Midnight Bullet: Hostile Resistance

The thrashy groove metallers are on their fourth album now, and seem to just keep getting better and better. An album filled with terRIFic riffs (thank you), it very much wears its inspirations on its sleeve. From Pantera to Testament to Mastadon and even some Alice in Chains, all are present throughout this album, and it’s a great blend of styles that works perfectly for the band. The title track and ‘Dead Redemption’ are particular highlights for me, and well worth a listen! 8/10

And there we have it, another great week, particularly for metal. Check out next week’s too from our Facebook here for Bryan Adams and more!

New Music Mondays: Slash, Frank Turner and More!

A HUGE week for New Music Mondays this week. After a pretty big week last week it somehow gets even bigger for the second week of February. Seven albums from some of the biggest bands in the genre of the past and present. This is gonna be good. Join us as we check them out!

Slash Feat. Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators: 4

The fourth official album from the GnR guitarist and his conspirators and his sixth overall solo album, 4, has a lot to live up to. I have to admit personally the last couple of albums haven’t done much for me. A scattering of decent songs between both, but their last truly good album was Apocalyptic Love.

Unfortunately, their new music doesn’t change that opinion for me. Now, don’t get me wrong, it isn’t a bad album per say. But there is absolutely nothing remarkable or stand-out on it at all. It is an average-at-best rock album, but this is the guy that wrote ‘Paradise City’ alongside the guy that wrote ‘Blackbird’. What the fuck happened? There is barely a memorable riff or chorus on the album; it seems completely phoned in outside of the solos. 95% of the NWOCR movement has written better music than this but this will get millions of streams and high festival billings and arena tours simply because of who is involved. Either Slash is saving all his good stuff for the new GnR album or he has finally lost it. I have most likely just come in with too high expectations again but either way, I’ve finally lost hope in this band. If you liked it awesome, please don’t @ me, but this bored me to tears. 3/10

Frank Turner: FTHC

You know the drill by now folks. First big album of this year to get a full review and it had to be Franky T. Check back on the site in a couple of days for the full review and score, but for now, enjoy this fantastic song and video…

Eddie Vedder: Earthing

The Pearl Jam/Temple of the Dog frontman released his fourth solo album the other day, and it sounds probably exactly how you expected it to if you are familiar with any of his work. Huge, steady, and anthemic, it’s everything the guy became famous for in the 90s. And that is in no way a complaint. I love Pearl Jam, and this is very much just an extension of them, at this point. There’s enough rockier, higher tempo stuff to keep it interesting (in a very U2 kinda way), but the anthemic feel is the real highlight. Tracks like the opening two and ‘Brother the Cloud’ are definite high points, but the whole album is a fun listen if you are looking for something more chilled out and relaxed. 7/10

Cult of Luna: The Long Road North

A band with a LOT of buzz around them right now, Cult of Luna have been around a lot more than I imagine many think. Starting way back in 1998, the band have just put out their ninth studio album. And the post/prog metal band may have delivered their finest album yet.

It’s dark, heavy, and a whole lot of fun. It won’t be for everyone, most of the tracks range from 6-12 minutes in length with the odd exception and there are no clean vocals to be heard, but it is a fantastic work of art when listened from front to back. And that is exactly how this was written to be consumed. Yes single ‘Cold Burn’ and the fantastic 12-minute epic ‘An Offering to the Wild’ are both excellent stand alone tracks, but they fit even better in the context of the album. Also a huge shout out to Mariam Wallentin and Colin Stetson for their work on ‘Beyond I & II’ respectively, both are fantastic interlude-style tracks that added so much to the album, and are two more firm favourites for me. I can’t give it anything less than an 8.5/10, but it may very well be a 9 at some point too. Great stuff!

Zeal & Ardor: Self Titled

From one complex, strange metal album to another. However, the tracks are a little shorter this time! The Swiss avant-garde metal band are another that have gained a LOT of hype and attention ahead of this release, and it is 100000% justified. This is a phenomenal album. From the opening title track to the heavy single ‘Run’ to the slower, plodding and piano-featuring ‘Death to the Holy’, it’s all awesome. And that’s just the opening three tracks, there are still another 11 left.

Don’t get me wrong, not all of it knocks it completely out of the park. ‘Emersion’ is a little too modern-Devin Townsend for me and ‘Golden Liar’ doesn’t quite get out of the indie stage. However, then there are tracks like ‘Bow’, ‘I Caught You’ and ‘Chruches Burn’ that are insanely good. The blend of styles, from extreme metal to tribal stuff to country and even a bit of punk is really interesting. The great far outweighs the not as great, and makes for the second highlight album of the year so far, and maybe my favourite album of the last two months. 9/10

Only Human: Scar Weaver

I really wanted to like this. However, the only thing this accomplished is making me more impatient for the new Machine Head album. Flynn was the best part of this album for me, and the rest felt a little bland. There simply just weren’t any riffs. I know how much I sound like a guitarist right now, but riffs provide such a core part of metal songs and to not have them definitely leaves it feeling like something is missing.

However, it is still enjoyable from a vocal/lyrical standpoint and ‘Deadlock’ is a definite highlight, with Robb’s vocals fitting and contrasting with Skyler Howren’s. A fun album for sure, but it was definitely not as good as it’s single overall. 6/10

Amorphis: Halo

I knew nothing about this band heading into this aside for the fact that I had seen their name around a bit. I decided to keep it that way and go in completely blind. They’re like if Iron Maiden and Dream Theatre had a child together but that child was kinda short and really into Amon Amarth. It’s fantastic. The big power metal instrumentation is amazing and so epic, while the vocalist(s?) nail it with the growls and cleans. My only slight nit-pic is that it gets a tad formulaic around the midpoint: big opening riff, growled verses, clean, uplifting choruses and then a dropped down bridge in the middle somewhere. However, as people say, you can never had too much of a good thing. A band that I shall definitely be keeping a close eye on from now on thanks to a fantastic album. 8.5/10

If you like this, check out our Powerwolf Review!

Voivod: Synchro Anarchy

The Canadian prog metal band returned with their 15th studio album last week. Another band I wasn’t too familiar with before now and again I hate it because this was also really good. It’s somehow the weirdest album on this album, which is saying a lot. But tracks like the opener and ‘Planet Eater’ are interesting and a lot of fun. It feels like a guitarists album as the vocals aren’t the strongest, but it doesn’t need them with this level of songwriting. A fun album! 7/10

And there we have it folks. What a week for metal! What a time for new music in general! I’ve found at least three albums here that I love and all from bands I wasn’t all too familiar with beforehand. Hopefully you guys are the same as there is some really good music here! Check back next week on our Facebook here for a slower one!