Tag Archives: punk

New Music Mondays: Polyphia, Palaye Royale and More!

While no absolutely massive bands released anything this week, it still saw the release of a lot of great new music! From instrumental metal to country and a lot in between, check this out, it’s got something for everyone!

Polyphia: Remember That You Will Die

I mean, it’s Polyphia, what can I really say? It’s another 40-minute masterclass from the modern day guitar god himself Tim Henson. Of course, it’s fucking awesome.

The first track is a jazz metal masterpiece, complete with horns that make it all sound somehow even better. The guitar tones in the track (and throughout the whole album for that matter) are unbelievable, so good. Lead single ‘Playing God’ is next up and a mind-bending display of the guitarists’ skill at slapping and tapping. I even love ‘ABC’, the first track to feature vocals by the band, and from a pop singer none the less. She sounds good and surprisingly doesn’t overshadow a single member of the band.

I was going to say, probably controversially, that the band could benefit at this point from having vocalists on more of their tracks. Then I heard the MGK-like ‘Memento Mori’ and ‘Fuck Around and Find Out’. Both were with meh rap/R&B vocalists that DID pull the focus away from the band, and for their own mediocre performances. Even the Chino Moreno track was meh. I feel like vocals could work awesomely, but these weren’t necessarily the right ones to pick, not to my ears anyway. Oh well, at least Steve Vai joins them to shred for the awesome closing track.

Slightly up and down but, if I’m honest, far more up than down. 7.5/10

Palaye Royale: Fever Dream

The new-wave emo/punk pop band return with their fourth album last week. I never quite got the appeal of this band or the wider sound they are a part of, and this album did nothing to change that. They remind me a lot of the incredibly overrated Maneskin, it’s a similar sort of pop music with just enough edge to it to venture into the rock sphere. A lot of it is more indie than anything, and for an American, Remington slips into a British accent a few times, weirdly. I fully see why people would like this sort of thing, it’s definitely a popular style these days, but it’s definitely not for me.

Also, it suffers from the country issue in that it’s bloated. 15 tracks is a lot to digest, especially when they’re mainly pretty similar. There are a couple of saving grace tracks, though. I’d heard ‘Paranoid’ when it was released last year and it’s at least a good, anthemic pop-rock track. Then there’s the MCR-esque ‘Fever Dream’. Easily the best track on the album, this wouldn’t feel out of place on The Black Parade. If you’re going to try any track on this album, let it be this one. But yeah, overall, not really my cup of tea. 4/10

Darkthrone: Astral Fortress

The gods of black metal return with their whopping 19th studio album, and it’s just as crazy and experimental as ever. Just a year after the release of Eternal Hails……, the band continue on with the doom influence just as much as the black metal sound. Heck, it opens on a dark, eight-minute epic reminiscent of early Candlemass, this is a far cry from early Darkthrone. It picks up around the mid-point into more familiar territory, but the epicness sets it apart for all the right reasons.

The same can be said throughout the rest of the album. Between the doom, punk and old-school heavy metal, there are a lot of different styles blended in with the typical Darkthrone sound. I honestly struggled to pick a highlight too, as it was all so different and enjoyable in its own way. I think my favourite track was ‘Stalagmite Necklace’, though. Clearly this is how you get me into black metal, by blending it with other genres I like. 7/10

Lainey Wilson: Bell Bottom Country

The fourth album by the country singer-songwriter is just as fun as her previous ones. It’s honestly nice to hear this kind of older style, more Dolly Parton or rock/blues inspired, is getting so popular in amongst all the stadium and bro country. Tracks like ‘Road Runner’, ‘Hold My Halo’ and ‘Grease’ honestly wouldn’t look out of place on a Cadillac Three album, but also is the sort of sound I wish Miley Cyrus had (and still will eventually) evolved into. Then you have more Drake White-esque acoustic country ballads that make up the other half of the album.

However, even though these slower tracks probably make up the majority, I never found myself getting bored like on other slower country albums. Lainey is a tremendous lyricist, it keeping me entertained throughout alongside her catchy melodies and great playing. This is a really good country album and one I’ll be listening to a fair amount for the rest of the year! 7.5/10

Fit for a King: The Hell we Create

THIS IS HOW YOU DO MODERN METALCORE. Anyone who keeps up with this series regularly knows that I’ve done a fair bit of the old-school heavy hitters of the metalcore world, and all are either trying to play catch-up with mainstream metal trends or get lost in the shuffle trying to recapture their old magic. This does neither of these things.

It’s unapologetically heavy, the low screams being some of the best I’ve heard in a while. But it balances it perfectly with some fantastic, catchy, pop-punk like cleans. ‘End (The Other Side’ is an amazing single and a great example of what I’m getting at, incorporating both perfectly. Then you have tracks like ‘Reaper’ which, in my opinion, are the exact sound that Parkway Drive should have stayed at, it’s better than anything on their latest album. Tracks like ‘Sink Below’, ‘What You Left Behind’, and the full-on deathcore track ‘Eyes Roll Back’ are all massive highlights on an album filled to the brim with them. This is peak metalcore in 2022, and for anyone into the subgenre, check this album out. Now. 9/10

Dead Cross: II

The Mike Patton/Dave Lombardo supergroup released their second hardcore punk album. It still blows my mind to hear how many different styles Patton can pull off vocally, and this is definitely a fun departure from his Faith No More stuff. While it’s not my sort of music, I can certainly appreciate the effort and desire to do something different and push the envelope. ‘Animal Espionage’ was a lot of fun, as was the duelling vocals on various different tracks. It’s like I was transported back to the 80s underground scene with the experimentation and heaviness. 6.5/10

Massive Wagons: Triggered

Baz and the boys got angry with this one. Between ‘Fuck the Haters’, ‘Generation Prime’ and ‘A.S.S.H.O.L.E’ they are calling out everyone they can, and I love it. It’s a good contrast to their clean-cut punk-classic rock style. Wagons address plenty about the state of the world in their own comedic, attitude-filled style, including COVID and the current world culture. The title track is maybe my favourite on the album, but there isn’t really a bad track on the album. All the other tracks previously named are definite highlights, too. It’s fun, funny and a very catchy album. It’s the lovechild of Wildhearts and (ironically given they are touring together) Ugly Kid Joe and I enjoyed it a lot. 7.5/10

Check out our interview with Baz from Call of the Wild here.

Fire From the Gods: Soul Revolution

The blend of styles here was fun, but I have to say I think each different style has been done better recently by other bands. Even though vocalist AJ is from American/Jamaican decent, it gives off both Bob Vylan and Bloodwood vibes than anything else. The opening and title track is a great song, but then the following track, the lead single of the album, ‘S.O.S’, is maybe my least favourite on the album. It’s a very up and down album, with some definite highlights but some clear lower points too, for me. Tracks like ‘Double Edged Sword’ and ‘The Message’ were also highlights. If anything, the more rasta-inspired tracks were the best ones. It’s okay but felt a little one note at times. 5.5/10.

Show me the Body: Trouble the Water

I have no idea how to feel about this. The Suicidal Tendencies aspect of it was awesome, and a couple of the riffs were great, though not nearly focused on enough. The vocals grew on me more and more throughout, too. His cadence and emotion in every delivery, be it clean or harsher, was amazing. At times it felt like I was listening to The Ramones or Joy Division, and then it’d drop into something dark and heavy and remind me who it was. I grew up on the Tony Hawks games and this somehow feels like every single band on that mushed together into a single entity. ‘Food From Plate’, ‘We Came to Play’ and ‘Using It’ were personal favourites of mine. A good album that really grew on me by the end. I’ll definitely be listening to this more. 7/10

Shape of Water: Amor Fati

The Muse of the NWOCR scene, Shape of Water have gotten quite a bit of momentum behind them ahead of this release. I’m not hugely familiar with them bar a song or two, so I’m excited to check out a full album.

Though the opening track, ‘Starchild’, is epic and slow-building and everything I typically love in rock music, something about it didn’t quite click with it. After that though, it heads more into Weezer or even Heaven’s Basement direction, which I wasn’t expecting much of. There’s still some epicness, like in single ‘The Snoot’, but it’s more pop punky rock than anything else. It’s definitely good and there is plenty to like on the album, it’s just not something I thought the NWOCR movement would go for, sound wise. Then again it does have hints of Zeppelin (or at least Wolfmother) in amongst the Weezer and Muse.

I can see this band going VERY far in the next few years. They’re unique for sure, while still being familiar enough for mainstream audiences to latch onto. This will definitely taker a couple more listens to appreciate fully, but I already love it. 8/10

New Music Mondays: Weezer, The Rasmus and More!

Not a huge week for new music this week, but it’s brimming with potential. Weezer’s third season, The Rasmus’ post-Eurovision album and some great lighter rock. Not to mention a bit of metal sprinkled in for good measure. Let’s get into this!

Weezer: SZNZ: Autumn

Joe: Weezer are 1/2 so far this year for me. I wasn’t a huge fan of Spring but Summer was pretty good. This third entry falls more towards the former than the latter. There is almost nothing here that held my attention. I’d like to stress again, like I did with the last one three months ago, that I respect Weezer for trying something different. It’s a cool idea, but outside of the odd mention of autumn, there isn’t much to differentiate this to the previous albums or their other music.

The band had a real opportunity here to go completely out of their box and hop genres to really give a feel of different seasons, making them all sound completely different. I’d have loved it if we got something bordering on Misfits or even Wednesday 13. Instead, outside of the strings on ‘Taste Like Pain’, it’s just another soft rock/pop punk Weezer album. At this point it feels like another failed experiment from Rivers. I’d much rather he take the time to make one good, short album a year or two than pump out multiple sub-par albums a year. 3.5/10, the worst Weezer album I’ve reviewed so far.

The Rasmus: Rise

Joe: The Finnish alt rock band unfortunately didn’t do amazingly well at this year’s Eurovision, despite Jezebel being a bop. The track makes it onto this, the bands 10th studio album. It’s a fairly decent album. There’s nothing bad about it, it’s all inoffensive pop-rock. There’s a decent guitar riff running through ‘Rise’ and the chorus is huge and mega catchy. It’s definitely another highlight of the album. Outside of ‘Written in Blood’ the rest of the seven tracks are on the slower side, but they’re still good. It’ll probably grow on me more with another listen or two, but I feel like this would be better as individual tracks for me, than an album to listen to in full. 6/10

Editors: EBM

Joe: The alt/indie rock Brummies brought us their seventh album on Friday. It’s pretty darn good, too. I thought the band were lighter than this, but this was quite a heavy album for an indie band. It has a fair amount of industrial elements to it that I can get down with. Like a weird middle ground between Genesis and Ministry.

It’s difficult to pick highlight tracks as, to be honest, the songs blended together quite a bit for me. However, as an album as a whole it was enjoyable, and definitely a good one to stick on on a long drive or in the background. 6.5/10

BAND-MAID: Unleash

Joe: The Japanese female hard rock/metal band released their eighth studio album last week, just a year and a half removed from their last release. The band show off their insane talent right from the instrumental opening track, and it only gets more impressive from there. While I have no idea what is being said half of the time, the vocals in ‘Balance’ are almost as impressive as the never-ending stream of fantastic riffs. The chorus is huge and very catchy, and the whole track as a whole is a highlight of the album.

The heavy riffs and female-Japanese vocals will of course draw comparisons to Babymetal, but I would definitely say these are the superior band. While Babymetal come out with some great music and the session players are incredible, the passion for this sort of music from Band-Maid is hard to ignore. They put their all into this music and it shows in their recordings.

The album’s big single, ‘Sense’, is a suitably epic affair, the vocals soaring and being catchy as hell over the top of the heavy riffs and insane lead guitar. It’s another huge plus of the album. The rest of the album is equally great though, and I would recommend any metal fan check this out. Or any musician, for that matter, as the instrumentation is insanely good. This’ll be up there for album of the year, for sure. 8.5/10

Kelsea Ballerini: SUBJECT TO CHANGE

Joe: The first country-pop artist we’ve spotlighted for a little while, Kelsea returns with her fourth album and yet again shows that she is far too successful and talented for someone under 30. To have this many streams over the first weekend of the album being out is insane, and it’s clear that Kelsea is a HUGE name in the genre nowadays.

The album itself definitely leans heavily on both the country and pop elements. It reminds me a lot of Taylor Swift’s Fearless, and I’m glad that after a few albums Kelsea is still keeping the country sound strong, unlike the latter artist. It’s hard to pick a definitive highlight or two as the whole album is pretty similar and all high quality. You’re not going to have a bad time listening to this album, it’s simple, fun and has some pretty good, emotional lyrics tucked away in it.

My only issue is that, for the third straight mainstream country album I’ve checked out on these, it’s far too bloated. I get that more tracks to stream means more money, but 15 track is too long for an album. Especially when I have to listen to it all in one weekend… And also, why is the whole SHOUTING ALBUM AND SONG TITLES thing leaking out of metal into other genres? I confess, I am getting distracted…

8/10 a damn good country pop album.

The Wonder Years: The Hum Goes on Forever

Joe: I’m struggling to find the words to describe how this sounds. It’s like all the edges of pop-punk have been sanded down. It’s smooth, soft. It reminds me a fair bit of Gaslight Anthem, with just a little bit of the attitude of Gerard Way in the vocals.

The biggest single, ‘Oldest Daughter’, was pretty catchy, but outside of the vocals there wasn’t much memorable about it. The same could be said for ‘Low Tide’. That was pretty much the story of the whole album for me, if I’m honest. It’s heavy pop rock with a slight punk twang. None of it is bad, but it was majorly forgettable for me. I know a lot of people love this band, including a few of my friends, and I can definitely understand why. But this album at the very least wasn’t much for me. 4.5/10

Stratovarius: Survive

Joe: My god, the riffs. That, and the guitaring as a whole, was a huge plus on this album for me. Whether it was the punchy, thrashy chugging, the more folk-inspired playing or the insane leads, Matias Kupiainen is clearly a massively underrated guitarist. There’s even a bit of modern edge to his playing, I heard bits of Syn/Zakky from Avenged Sevenfold in parts of the bridges and solos.

I’d have LOVED this as a young teenager, and I’m so mad at myself that this is the first time I’m hearing them. They’re power metal, but also have quite a bit of an Iron Maiden edge to them with the chugging, big riffs and folk tinge.

Check out more power metal here.

As for the songs themselves, they’re fantastic. Check out the first three tracks on the album and try to tell me otherwise. Then there are songs like ‘Frozen in Time’ and ‘Breakaway’ which are two more major highlights on an overall awesome album. If you’re into power metal, NWOBHM or even prog, you’ll love this. 8.5/10

KEN Mode: NULL

Joe: Why the hell did I think this was pop punk? I must have gotten my wires crossed in my research. I was, as you can imagine, VERY confused when messy, experimental hardcore came on in my car on the way to work over the weekend while I prepared to write this up.

In the nicest possible way, I don’t get this at all. Noise rock/metal has never been my sort of thing to begin with, and this album didn’t do much to change my mind. Even the more prog ‘Lost Grip’ lost my interest pretty quick. The vocals are pretty meh and, as I’d stated before, the instrumentation seems messy. If you like it, more power to you, but this isn’t for me. 3/10

The Comet is Coming: Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam

Joe: When I read experimental jazz rock I was quite excited to get into it. However, I’m not sure I get it. I’m partial to a good instrumental band or two and these guys are clearly talented musicians. However, I wouldn’t say there is much rock in here, to start with. It sounds more like soft House or Dubstep with some horns over the top. Every time they sound like they are adding some Prodigy-like elements, they slow right down instead of dropping.

It seems more like something God would listen to in the Preacher series. 3/10 I dont get it, I’m sorry.

Venom Inc.: There’s Only Black

Joe: I’m in two minds with this. It’s definitely a good album, but it also feels like a shell of what Venom once was. It’s a mixture between thrash and NWOBHM rather than the massive force of nature that started black metal. The more extreme riffs were fun, but it didn’t still feel much like Venom to me. Tracks like ‘Infinitum’ and ‘Don’t Feed me Your Lies’ are good, but the album as a whole is nothing to write home about, in this humble writer’s opinion. 5/10, distinctly average.

Maddie & Tae: Through the Madness, Vol. 2

Joe: More country pop, this time from a duo and their second release of 2022. And yes, while it’s a point of contention what classes as an EP these days, 8-tracks in my head is an album, so I’m covering it.

It’s a good album. The two Womens’ voices blend together perfectly the harmonies being catchy and a huge highlight of the album. Of course, the big single, ‘Every Night and Every Morning’, is great, as is the closing track. It’s again hard to find talking points for it as, much like Kelsea, the tracks are fairly similar, and all good. It does, however, have the advantage of being 20-minutes and seven tracks shorter than Kelsea’s, which is a definite bonus. Check this out if you’re into country or americana at all, you’re sure to not be disappointed. 8/10, gonna have to check out Vol. 1 now!

Sports Team: Gulp!

Joe: I’ve been waiting for this album for months at this point. It has been pushed back multiple times and I’m shocked it’s finally out.

Needless to say, it doesn’t particularly live up to the hype I have since put on it. It’s nice to hear a bit of good ‘ol English punk again, tinged with alt rock and plenty of Billy Idol inspiration. And, as a whole, it’s not bad by any means. It simply unfortunately suffers from the same issue a few of the albums have this week in that none of the tracks really stand out to me. I’m sure a bigger fan of the genre would love this, but for me I’d have rather just had a straight up punk album. The pop edge to it is what bores me with it, I think. Tracks like ‘The Game’ and ‘Unstuck’ at least stood out to me as highlights just for being the more punk tracks on the album. 5.5/10, not bad but nothing special or ground-breaking.

Razor: Cycle of Contempt

Max: Here’s a band that I have never heard of. Razor have come out with a new album full of aggression and fun. It’s a fairly easy listen but that’s not to say that it is a bad album. Whilst I found a lot of the songs quite similar to each other, especially when it comes to the drums, and there were some very odd vocals most apparent in the fifth track “crossed”, there were other parts that were very enjoyable. The solo’s that occasionally appear and the constant intensity and rhythm throughout is very nice and really kept the energy up in all of the songs, even when there were parts that I didn’t find myself enjoying as much. I would very much like to hear a bit more experimentation from the band and some different drums as I think that is the part that let them down the most. However, overall, I found myself enjoying the album and listened to it a couple of times once I had written my notes on it. Overall, I would say it is a solid 6/10. Areas to improve on but altogether quite good a fun the whole way through.

STRÖM: Self-Titled

Max: This is a hard one for me. I can’t say that I am a massive ACDC fan (that isn’t to say I dislike them, I just have never found it overlapping with any music I have been in to at the time), and this band definitely reminds me of them. Throughout the entire album, their influences remain very, very clear. This is not wholly a bad thing as it is good fun to be reminded of music from when I was younger, especially with the little bits of The Darkness that seems to come creeping through.

However, it is slightly disappointing that a group of very clearly talented musicians didn’t experiment as much as I would have like them to. It felt to me as though some of the most interesting parts of the album came from the songs that felt more organic and original, the song ‘Ta Mig Tillbaks’ especially. With all of this considered though I feel like it would be unfair to give them a low rating for this album as they played everything very well. I would say it’s a 6.5/10 and I really hope that they find their own notch to slip in to with their future work as the talent in this band is brimming at the seams and just seems like it is waiting to get out and do more.

Kaine: After Extinction

Max: Considering the low number of monthly listeners across multiple platforms, it is almost upsetting to hear how good this band is. It is clear that they are working to constantly improve their music but everything that they have is really good fun. There are some solid riffs and the drums are so on point it really shows other bands just how to do it. With all this being said there are points where I feel like there is something missing. This might just be due to the mix of the songs not being the best, but I really wish underneath some of their solos/more melodic riff they can’t have the other guitars and the drum fully going. This is clearly something that they understand as they seemed to fix these issues as I wrote it.

Their song ‘Protesting for Profit’ has some really fun groves that got me hooked on the entire album and I think this is the album that I listened to the most this week. I genuinely can’t wait for them to release more music and I hope they are able to amas a following more befitting of the talent of all of the musicians and the time that clearly goes into their music. I can’t help but give this album a 7.5/10 as the only real downsides are the like of a cohesive sound at some points in the album and the mix not nearly being as good as the music itself.

Kings of Mercia: Self-Titled

Max: First things first, and something not really relevant to the review, I love the album art. However, I can’t quite say I enjoyed the album as much as the art. I found myself trying to blot out the vocals at multiple points as I really didn’t enjoy them. This was quite a let-down as the instruments were all really good fun and when the speed of the vocals picked up again they weren’t too bad.

Unfortunately, a lot of this album was on the slower side in the vocals department. There are a couple of points where the vocals are a bit more aggressive which sounded great so I found myself wondering if they would ever do a super aggressive song. All in all, I can’t find much to say about this album other than the fact it really wasn’t for me. I hope they can release some more music where they experiment with some other styles but until then, I doubt I will find myself listening to them much. 5/10

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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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New Music Mondays: Amon Amarth, Soulfly and More!

You know what’s happening by now. Lots of new music from ten awesome bands. Lets check them out together down below!

Amon Amarth: The Great Heathen Army

Scandinavian Viking metallers return with their 12th studio album, and once again it’s awesome. However, the first thing I noticed was that the fantastic single ‘Put Your Back into the Oar’ that was released earlier this year did not make the album. An unfortunate omission as it’s a great track, but so are the others that made the album’s cut. It’s a concise nine tracks of great death metal. The opener sets the scene perfectly while the title track is simply awesome. However, tracks like ‘Heidrun’ and ‘Find a Way or Make One’ are definite highlights of the album. And of course, the collab between them and Saxon, aptly titled ‘Saxons and Vikings’, is as amazing as you’d expect it to be. While I do have to admit I did prefer the bands last two albums over this one, it’s still a great album I’ll be listening to a lot going forward!7.5/10

Soulfly: Totem

A band that I really should listen to more given how much I like Sepultura, Soulfly have now released a whopping 12 albums for me to catch up on. The groove/death metal band go hard right from the opening track, ‘Superstition’, and to little surprise also go hard through all ten tracks. It shares similar characteristics to the previous album in that both are a similar genre and draw on their culture for inspiration (though Max doesn’t do it as much here as he used to). However, I do think Amon Amarth did it slightly better. Soulfly definitely have the more aggressive edge to their sound, but I found the catchier element of AA funner and ultimately more enjoyable. I know I shouldn’t compare the two bands, and tracks like ‘Souring the Vile’ and ‘Ancestors’ are great, but it’s hard not to when both come out on the same day. Maybe it would translate better live for me! 6.5/10

The Interrupters: In the Wild

We don’t have enough ska on this site, or in the music scene in general any more, so I am so glad The Interrupters are flying the flag for the fourth wave of ska. The Distillers-inspired band have put out three of the best punk albums of the last decade in their short career, and look to continue their streak with this one. Starting out punky it soon goes full ska with the awesome ‘As We Live’ (anything with Tim Armstrong is awesome). The rather silly ‘Raised by Wolves’ gives way to the fantastic lead single, ‘In the Mirror’, and the album is off to a fantastic start.

My only issue with this album is how bloated it is. I love the band and genre as much as the next guy, but 14 tracks is a lot for a ska album. However, having said that, each song is amazing, so I don’t know how they’d have cut any as I wouldn’t be able to choose which to get rid of. The tracks are short enough too, the album is still less than 45-minutes long. I guess it’s just my easily distracted brain wanting slightly ore variety when listening to so many tracks at once. Still, every track on the album is awesome, especially ‘Love Never Dies’ featuring the criminally underrated Skints. Check this out, as it really is a fantastic album, and definitely continues their winning streak! 9/10

Dub War: Westgate Under Fire

Skindred mastermind Benji Webbe’s original band have been on and off active for the last eight years now, but their first new music release in 24 years is a pretty massive deal. The reggae punk-rock works just as well with the political subject matter that ‘Blackkk Man’ explores as it does the slightly lighter subject matter of Skindred’s lyrics. For anyone who isn’t as familiar with the band, it’s more closely related to Public Enemy, Suicidal Tendencies and even Wildhearts than the heavier riffs that Mikey Demus brings to Skindred. However, tracks like ‘Vibes in the Place’, ‘Mary Shelley’ and ‘Fun Done’ are all awesome. A good album and a great return from a band that should have gotten further the first time round! 7.5/10

Psycroptic: Divine Council

The death metal Aussies put out one hell of an eighth studio album last Friday. I cannot get over how fucking incredible the riffs are throughout the entire album, and just the guitars in general. Joe Haley is another criminally underrated guitarist, creating a dream album for those into the rhythm side of the instrument. Just check out ‘A Fool’s Errand’ to hear what I’m talking about. The rest of the band are fantastic too, the drummer working overtime throughout and all the different screams fitting the genre perfectly and being amazing. This is the sort of death metal that I love and holy crap, what an album. At just nine tracks and under f40 minutes, it’s also compact and concise awesomeness. Check this out, you won’t be disappointed! 8/.5/10

The Flatliners: New Ruin

The punk/almost post-hardcore band released their first album in half a decade last week. I wasn’t familiar with the band before writing this review and, honestly, I’m not sure how to feel about the album even after listening to it all. It wasn’t bad at all, it just felt like nothing really stood out to me. It reminds me of this year’s Static Dress album in that it’s a genre that I should LOVE, but for some reason it just doesn’t resonate with me the way I thought it would. However, the more indie-like chorus for ‘Rat King’ did have me singing along pretty quick and is definitely a highlight o the album. 6/10

Abbadon Incarnate: The Wretched Sermon

This at least wins the award for best album artwork of the week. It’s fuckin’ awesome. As for the music, it’s impressively fast death metal. Like, if thrash and death had a baby and then gave it speed. It’s a lot of fun. However, I did find myself loosing track of which song was wihich rather quickly, they all blended into one. Outside of the more up and down, longer ‘Isolation and Decay’ it was all rather samey. It was still a good listen and worth it for anyone who’s into the heavy stuff, but it’s exactly what you’d expect it to be. 6.5/10

StormbounD: December

Check out our full review of this awesome album, alongside it’s score, here.

Grave Bathers: Rock’n’Roll Fetish

The stoner/doom rock band’s debut gives us more riffs than 99.99% of other albums combined, so it feels. The band seem like the second coming of The Sword, something that the industry has needed ever since said band released High Country. ‘Ghost ‘Em All’ pens the album in spectacular fashion and perfectly encapsulates what the band is about and going for It’s amazing. The rest of the album is just as spectacular, too. Again though, and I feel like a broken record at this point, it’s a damn long album. 12 tracks spanning 81-minutes is a lot, even if given the genre it’s a little more forgivable than others. However, the sheer talent of the bands playing and songwriting on display means that even at the insane length of the tracks, it is still one hell of a great listen. No highlights again here, all the tracks are great. 9/10

Devil’s Paradise: Post Mortem

17 tracks for 80-minutes of music. What is it about this week and really long albums? It feels like the bands are cottoning on to how many albums I listen to to review a week and are taking the piss a bit now!

In all seriousness though, this was fantastic. Another great debut album (even if some of these tracks have been out nearly a decade already), making a whopping three in the same day! They remind me a lot of one of my favourite newer bands this year, South of Salem. I really hope this combo of Misfits style goth-punk and modern-day sleaze sticks around and continues to get bigger, because it’s a fantastic sub-genre. This does have a little more of a US radio rock edge to it too (think Burn Halo, Soil etc), especially on the slower tracks like ‘Ghost’. There’s also a handful of slower tracks that sound like Avenged Sevenfold when they they to sound like GNR. I love all of it, these ballads or the heavier, faster goth-sleaze tracks.

There are plenty of highlights from the album, a handful of which made our playlist. This is DEFINITELY worth checking out, these guys are gonna be huge. 9/10

And there we have it, an absolutely fantastic week for new music, a lot of it coming from the youngest bands on the list. Rock music is in an incredibly strong place right now with the next generation coming up, and I cannot wait to see where they all go from here!

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New Music Mondays: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Meshuggah and More!

Another big week for new music in rock and metal, both for younger bands and older ones. 11 albums in total, so let’s not waste time, here they are!

Red Hot Chili Peppers: Unlimited Love

I’m just going to leave a link to my full review of the album here. I hated that I wasn’t a big fan of it , and given that it’s had mixed (at best) reviews, at least I’m not alone. But hell, I don’t want to talk about this album any more, I want something funner. Find the score from the link, but it was not great.

Meshuggah: Immutable

The extreme-prog metal band have been on the roll of their careers the last 15 years or so. Despite forming way back in the late 80s, it wasn’t until 2008s ObZen when it felt like the band truly hit their stride commercially and artistically. The two albums that followed that were also amazing. Does this one live up to them?

After a slow start, we reach the single ‘The Abysmal Eye’ and the album takes off into a gear only few can hit. It’s heavy and crazy proggy while somehow still maintaining an almost Mushroomhead-like catchiness to it all vocally. It’s a good album, but I do have to admit it does get a little repetitive at times. Don’t get me wrong, it was nice to have a reprieve from the brutality momentarily thanks to ‘They Move Below’ (what a track, by the way), but otherwise it’s pretty full on. Still, I cannot complain about having too much of a good thing really, can I? If you are a fan of Machine Head, Parkway Drive, or just general industrial, prog or extreme metal at all, check this out! 9/10

Islander: It’s Not Easy Being Human

The South Carolina alt-metal band has a lot of guests on it. Eight of the 17 tracks on the album has a guest vocalist or band member be a part of it. I’m not sure if that’s cool or overkill or feels cheep and like they couldn’t write a full album by themselves. Especially since tracks like ‘Evil’ and ‘The Outsider’ are just the band on their own and are both awesome tracks. Having said that though, some of the tracks with guests are also fantastic. In particular, ‘Skin Crawl’ with members of Korn, Zao and Living Sacrifice. It somehow sounds like a mixture of all four bands, blending the styles perfectly. The album as a whole is a diverse blend of styles, a melting pot of the early 2000s metal scene, from Linkin Park to Machine Head to Papa Roach to Korn. I love the whole scene they are going for, so the band have definitely gained a new fan in me! It’s maybe a tad bloated at 17 tracks, but it’s worth a listen from front to back, for sure! 8.5/10

Nekrogoblikon: The Fundamental Slimes and Humours

And now it’s time for a band that I don’t really get. I’ve always seen it as a gimmick that’s fun at first but the appeal never lasted too long. After this new album, I still don’t think I get it. I enjoyed it more than everything else I have heard from the band (which admittedly isn’t a lot), but I still don’t think I liked it. There’s some fun, catchy vocal lines and keyboard melodies, and the vocalist that sounds like he’s trying to be Axl Rose has a good voice. If it was just him and the carnival-style metal instrumentation behind it I could at a push enjoy it. But switching between that and the growling goblin and the sheer mess of songwriting each track is, I found myself getting lost and bored easily. ‘This is It’ is kind of a bop, though. I get that a lot of people like it and they aren’t the most serious of bands so maybe I’d appreciate it more live. But for now, 4/10

PUP: THE UNRAVELLING OF PUPTHEBAND

Pathetic Use of Potential, the band, are a fantastic Canadian punk band. Another band I hadn’t even heard of before I’d started doing this NMM, I’m disappointed that I hadn’t found them sooner. This album is amazing. It’s so refreshing to hear bands actually having fun with their music these days, especially when talking about some pretty deep subject matter at times. All of the ‘Four Chords’ parts are hilarious and tracks like ‘Totally Fine’, ‘Robot Writes a Love Song’ and ‘PUPTHEBAND Inc. Is Filing for Bankruptcy’ are all amazing. They can get pretty heavy at times, almost feeling like a punk version of early Biffy. And it all fits so well with the concept of the album. There isn’t a bad track on here and I’ll definitely be listening to it a lot over the coming months! 8.5/10

Wolf: Shadowland

The Swedish heavy metal band have worked hard since forming in ’95, on their 9th album since the turn of the millennium. Shadowland is exactly what you would expect out of a band heavily inspired by NWOBHM in 2022. It’s a good, fun rock album, but it doesn’t bring anything new to the sub-genre that arguably peaked nearly half a century ago. All the band members are immensely talented at music and songwriting, and tracks like ‘Dust’ and ‘Seek the Silence’ are definite highlights. I simply feel that after so much from Saxon and Priest and Accept over the years that new music like this isn’t too interesting to me. But as I said, I did enjoy the album, and I feel like I would love it live! 5.5/10

Crows: Beware Believers

The sophomore album of fast-rising indie-punk band Crows feels like a big deal for them. Having toured with the likes of Wolf Alice and IDLES before and their first album being well received, this second seemed a little make or break. While I’m not really down with the whole indie scene, it definitely feels like it’s a big deal album for the scene. It’s pretty heavy and dirty, almost transcending the typical genre restraints. It definitely meant I enjoyed it more! The singles from the album are definite highlights, but I managed to listen through this whole thing without getting bored, which is rare for me! 5/10

Carpenter Brut: Leather Terror

I had never heard darksynth before today but came across this album when I was doing my research for this article. It’s pretty fucking heavy. Like, surprisingly so. And I kinda love it. Whenever the guest vocalists come in it feels like it takes away the heaviness a little, but it only drops down to around a BMTH level. If you are into industrial or techno influenced music or not I’d recommend checking this out anyway, it’s a completely different approach to heavy music and is interesting if nothing else. However, I found it damn enjoyable, with highlights including ‘Straight Outta Hell’ and ‘Night Prowler’. 7/10

Satan: Earth Infernal

The Geordie heavy metal band were around during the first surge of NWOBHM and have been on and off again ever since. Their fourth album since their 2011 reunion, Earth Infernal continues the band’s legacy pretty well. Some tracks, like ‘Twelve Infernal Lords’ and ‘Poison Elegy’ were enjoyable and highlights, but as I stated when it came to Wolf, I’ve simply gotten a tad bored of NWOBHM recently. At least new tracks in it, anyway. It’s not a bad album and it’s not like I’d skip a track if it came on or anything, it’s just not something I’d go out of my way to listen to. 5.5/10

Evil Invaders: Shattering Reflection

And finally we end this week on some thrash/heavy metal. The Belgian band have been around since 2007 but this third album may be their best yet. The riffs are fantastic, the vocals powerful, high and impressive and the song writing top notch. ‘In Deepest Black’ is one of the best ballads I’ve heard this year and ‘Eternal Darkness’ is a masterclass in old-school thrash metal the kind I haven’t heard in a long time. It reminds me a lot of Judas Priest’s Painkiller album, and it’s right up my street! Check this out! 8/10

And there we have it! What a week for metal music! As usual join us again next week, this time for nu-metal legends Papa Roach!

Chaos and Light: The First Good Thing The Pandemic Produced?

Neptune Rain is one of the few bands that started during the pandemic era of music, not gigging until just a month or so ago after having an EP out for nearly a year. To support the fact that they can now play their stuff live, the band has released a reissue of said EP with a few bonus tracks on it, which is available everywhere from today. We managed to get hold of it a little early so that we could get it out to you as soon as it dropped, so check out said review below!

‘All Pain no Gain’ opens on an electronic sample sound and some awesome drums before a great guitar riff comes in over the top of it. It unfortunately stops pretty quick, and I’d have loved it to have lasted longer, but the stripped-back verse afterwards is also awesome, working very well with the same drumbeat and just simpler guitars. The soft, almost whispered vocals also add so much depth and atmosphere to the track, filling it out a bunch. Some rapped vocals come in for the pre, sounding great and building the track up perfectly for a MASSIVE chorus. The duelling vocals were awesome, adding to the catchiness, and the slightly rappier second half was great fun! A brief bridge filled with more awesome vocals leads to a final chorus to finish things off. A simple, radio-friendly structure to a song that was infectiously catchy and fun to listen to. Easily playlisted!

New track ‘Bitter Pill’ opens on some rap-inspired vocals, giving off massive Linkin Park vibes. The instrumentation behind it builds perfectly up, getting heavier and heavier before exploding into another HUGE chorus. The vocals are all sung in this one, and it’s catchy and very enjoyable, written to fill a huge stage by the sound of it. The build-up through the bridge was also a nice touch, especially with the vocals moving up an octave or two as it got heavier. We then again get a final big chorus to finish off another AWESOME song! Another that makes it straight to the playlist!

‘If That Was Love’ opens on a pretty mid-tempo yet heavy riff, the synths in the back adding so much depth to the sound. It drops back again for the verses, being very drum-led, although that may be more down to the production than anything. The pre was also amazing, the guitars getting heavier and a great, catchy vocal melody being present over the top. It all leads into a typically huge, open chorus, the harmonies on the vocals making them hugely catchy and the instrumentation filling out the section massively. We get a rappy bridge after the second chorus, a breakdown almost behind it from the guitar and drums. We then head into a final chorus again to take us home. Damn this was also excellent!

Another new track, ‘Legend’, is one of the slower tracks on the EP. It follows the same sort of formula as the other tracks and has another awesome, huge chorus, but definitely feels like the ballad of the release. Having said that, ‘Taste of Air’ is also another slower track. It’s not bad at all, both are fantastic tracks, with the latter being a particular highlight of the entire EP. It’s simple, just vocals and guitar, but it is so emotional and the vocals and lyrics are fantastic, a really good track and one I am shocked didn’t make the initial release.

OG EP track ‘Nothing Left to Save’ is another heavy one, the opening riff giving off Bring Me the Horizon vibes as much as Linkin Park ones. It doesn’t slow up through the verses either, staying at a quick, almost thrash pace, a nice change from the other tracks I have checked out so far. The chorus keeps the same quick pace but opens up perfectly. The rappier bridge after the second chorus was awesome as always too before it drops down to a beautiful little string section. It’s another part that I’d have happily had go on a little longer, but it’s a small gripe to have with an otherwise amazing song. It ends with another big chorus, the drums working double-time for the last part and adding even more craziness to it all. Another playlisted track!

Added track ‘Rise’ opens on a great guitar riff, the call of ‘1234’ adding even more bounce to it, somehow. It’s another track that stays pretty heavy from start to finish, the riff in the verses keeping me headbanging, especially with the little dropouts from the guitar. The chorus is now expected awesomeness, too. The little ‘woo’ after the first chorus was a nice touch too, it makes it sound like the band had some real fun recording the track, making it a funner listen as a result. The breakdown riff after the second chorus was awesome too, and the singing coming in over the top added some more depth to it all. Again, it didn’t last as long as it could have, but the final chorus is so infectiously catchy that I just cannot complain.

The final two tracks on the EP, OG ‘The Weight of Giving Up’ and ‘We Breathe the Same’ are both two more great tracks. Unfortunately, they have gotten a little lost in the shuffle for me at this point. I LOVE the band’s sound, I really do, but outside of the two slower tracks, they all follow roughly the same formula. I’d happily listen to these tracks a bunch on their own, but when they are part of an album of similar songs, it’s ever so slightly a slog for me to listen to all in one sitting. Heck, that might just be because I’m more of a prog fan than a more radio-friendly sound, but still! As I said, both are good songs, but I’ve run out of praise to give them or stuff to talk about without me repeating myself from previous songs!

Overall: I loved this! It’s a fantastic blend of Papa Roach, Linkin Park, Bring me the Horizon and even stuff like Fall Out Boy that I truly think hasn’t been attempted before (not that I’ve heard, anyway). It’s fresh, catchy, and all-round enjoyable. It’s clear that every member is incredibly talented too, at both their roles and as songwriters. I cannot wait for the chance to see these guys live hopefully next year, and I look forward to hearing what they put out in the future!

The Score: 8.5/10

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A Joker Among Thieves: Don’t Run Away

A Joker Among Thieves are a three-piece heavy rock band hailing from Yorkshire. The band have released a couple of tracks over the last two years to pretty great success, and now they are gearing up to drop their latest one, ‘Don’t Run Away’, at the end of this month. We discovered the band through their awesome set at Rockin’ The Bowl last month and we were kindly given a sneak preview ahead of the big release in order to review it. Well, here is that review!

Starting out pretty fast and heavy, the drums keep a steady beat behind an awesome little guitar riff. The vocals come in, powerful and melodic, almost giving the track more of a punk feel than anything else. If it is punk, though, it’s still pretty heavy. The pre is pretty fun, building up perfectly into a catchy, massive chorus. It’s easy to sing along to vocally and the instrumentation behind it makes it all sound massive, a real credit to the producer of the track for that one too! The vocals ever so slightly remind me of Rob Zombie at times, for whatever reason.

The awesome riff continues out of the second chorus, the bass being turned up and the bassist really getting to show off his awesome skill. It reminds me a little bit of Frank Bello’s playing, or even Cliff Burton. We also get an awesome, pretty technical guitar solo over the top, something that shows off even more of the bands thrash influences. We then get a great stripped back final verse, this time having some extra vocals that repeat or mirror the main ones, giving a sweet echo effect but also giving a slight unnerving tone, which I imagine is exactly what they were going for. We then get a final chorus afterwards with an awesome, catchy outro, the repeated vocal of the song’s title being the perfect thing for a crowd to sing back to the band in a live setting.

Overall, it’s an awesome track, and one that will easily make the playlist as soon as it is out on streaming services. I would recommend the track and the band as a whole for anyone who is into rock music, as they are also damn good live. Good stuff!

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Decade: How Does the Band’s Debut Compare to the Members’ Other Work?

They Fell From the Sky are comprised of members of both Bullet for my Valentine and Hundred Reasons, two bands I am very much a fan of! I hadn’t heard much of the band before getting asked to do the review, but the people involved made me pumped enough for its release. Add onto that the fantastic latest single I heard, and this should be one hell of a review. Join me in checking out this hard rock/metal/punk fusion band!

‘Dry’ opens on a fantastic building guitar riff backed by a solid drum roll before exploding into an even better riff. The vocals soon come over the top, having a harsher, hardcore edge to them than I was expecting. It also gives the track a lot more of a punky edge, like a heavier Frank Turner vocally. The verse builds perfectly into a catchy chorus, the vocals being an instant ear-worm. There’s a short bridge part after the second chorus as it drops down a bit, but it doesn’t really go anywhere before the final chorus comes in to take us home. There is an AWESOME scream at the end though, and the stopping dead was pretty cool!

‘Crush This World’ opens on an aptly crushing riff, heavy and huge. It drops down a little in the verse but still maintains a bouncy heaviness, while also having a great vocal hook. If anything it’s a little more catchy than the chorus, but that’s saying a lot as the chorus is also very good! We get an awesome bridge that leads suddenly into a pretty heavy (if short), breakdown, more awesome heaviness. We then get a quick final chorus to take us home. This was an awesome under three minutes, especially with the breakdown being reprised for the outro. Playlisted!

One of the singles from the album, ‘The Line’, is the song that got me into the band in the first place after being sent it to us for promotion. It’s a slower track than the previous two, more of an emotional ballad, but it’s awesome. The intro gives off almost Foo Fighters vibes with the powerful vocals over the lighter guitar riff, and the chorus is honestly beautiful thanks to the profound lyrics. The bridge is even very entertaining, the duelling vocals and harmonies over the top of the riff giving off Biffy Clyro vibes too, another fantastic band to be compared to. It’s just an awesome song all around and definitely one to check out!

‘Can’t Think of Anything’ opens on a chord build-up which gave me slight Offspring vibes before the main, pretty heavy riff kicked in. It drops back down for the verse, a beautiful vocal melody over the top of an equally beautiful guitar riff. The chorus is again very Foo Fighters thanks to the descending vocal melody at times; it sounds great. However, the song had a pretty odd structure. Because the intro and verses were so long, it meant that even at three minutes in length it only had two verses and choruses before fading out. It might have been nice to have had a longer song and had a bridge or changeup in there somewhere, but it was still a decent song nonetheless!

‘Take it or Leave it’ is the punkiest of the songs on the album simply due to the main riff, it’s light and bouncy and quite frankly Punk AF. The pre and chorus are also much of the same, both massively catchy in their own right and very enjoyable, maybe also the best of the album. The bridge riff is still pretty heavy, and the effect on the vocals for the first part of the last chorus SCREAMS pop-punk, I love it all! It was another easily playlisted song!

‘Mantrap’ heavies things up a bit again, the main riff being down-tuned awesomeness from the guitars and the drums follow it perfectly. Speaking of the drums, Jason has been solid throughout this whole album, a real unsung hero in this review so far as he has been so crazy consistent. The effect on the vocals in the verses was also awesome, adding some great dynamics and even more heaviness to it all. The screams coming out of the choruses were also awesome, really giving the band plenty of styles to work with after the punkier previous song. I always love it much more when the bands keep it interesting and have some different sounding songs on their albums, not just the same sound recycled ten times over, and this album does exactly that. Again bringing up the drums, the fading out drum solo at the end was another massive highlight of the song!

‘The Joy of Hindsight’ opens on a pretty great riff, but for some reason outside of that, the track didn’t grip me as much as the others. It was a steadier number and I think it just wasn’t quite as good as ‘The Line’, which I wasn’t expecting it to, but yeah, it was good but not as great as the others. The same could be said for the following song, ‘One More Obstacle’. It’s a good song in its own right, but other songs have done heavy better on this album so it gets a tad lost in the shuffle.

‘Staring at the Sun’ is another great combination of their heaviness and punkier aspects, a thoroughly enjoyable song. There isn’t much I can talk about with it though, or I’d just be repeating what I’ve said already at times in this review. It’s good, check it out. It also fades perfectly into the final track ‘Birth of the Stars’ something I always appreciate when listening to albums. Said song is unfortunately nothing to gush over, it’s again slightly more of an album track like the previous one. However, after ten minutes of dead air after the track, the band explode back in with a bonus track! I’m not 100% sure what the title of the track is, but the chorus is damn heavy and FULL of screaming, which I loved. The structure itself was weird (of course it was, it’s a bonus track) and mainly consists of a riff, verse and chorus before it spends a couple of minutes fading out, but it was a very enjoyable track, more so than the one it was attached to, in my opinion!

Overall: this was awesome. Almost every song was fantastic, the singles definitely not being the only ones. There were a couple of album tracks feeling songs by the end, but overall it was a damn solid release that was massively enjoyable, and it is an album I shall be listening to for a while. I look forward to hearing where the band goes from here! 

The Score: 8/10

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