REVIEW: The Chocolate Watchband—This Is My Voice

By: Rhodes Ford

The title track of The Chocolate Watchband’s upcoming release This Is My Voice is among many protest songs on the album. As a California psychedelic rock band formed in 1965, it’s not unfamiliar territory. While things have changed since the band was in their heyday, the sound of late 60s psychedelic rock is timeless (sitars included). This is the revival band you’ve been looking to add to your rotation.

unnamed (6)The Chocolate Watchband made a name for themselves in the late 60s, touring with both The Mothers of Invention and The Doors. The list of past members is fairly long, but the current iteration features original members David Aguilar, Tim Abbott, and Gary Andrijasevich, as well as Derek See and Alec Palao. While times and band members have changed, This Is My Voice marks a return to psychedelic protopunk both sonically and in message.

The album starts off with a bang. The distorted guitar, tambourine, and a driving drum beat gesture to their past while grabbing your full attention, regardless of what you’re doing. It is a perfect continuation of the late 60s/early 70s garage rock tradition. It’s the first of many treasures on the album.

The album is chocked full of protest songs, beginning with Judgement Day, which despite being written in the midst of the Great Recession, sounds like it was made for 2018. It highlights the long-lasting effects of that recession and how they’ve brought us to the current political climate, particularly emphasizing the prevalence of pessimism and anger in our society. The next track “This Is My Voice” is The Watchband’s frank thesis for the album. The lyrics that are shocking in their truth and again refer to today’s political climate, comparing it to a simpler time: “It’s easier to lie today, facts don’t get in the way” and later on, “It’s easier to hate today, be invisible and troll away.” The frankness of the song extends beyond the lyrics into the quieter, minimal instrumental as Aguilar teases out the complexities of today’s society, allowing us to focus entirely on what he’s saying.

The other highlight of the album were the three covers of monumental rock songs. They manage to cover Frank Zappa, Bob Dylan, and The Seeds. While they left the lyrics of “Desolation Row” and “I Can’t Seem to Make You Mine” as they were, “Trouble Everyday” includes lyrics updated to fit the present, emphasizing the “brown, black discrimination” and “all that mass stupidity, that seems to grow more every day, each time you hear Fox News say.” Frank Zappa’s version written about the Watts riots is one of the best protest songs of all time. Leaving the lyrics as they were would have underscored that, but the small tasteful changes that The Watchband makes instead articulates the subtle changes that make our current times equally incendiary, literally and figuratively.

“Bombay Pipeline” was the sole track that had the sitar front and center, which was disappointing for a band that came of age at the same time as the sitar was taking its spot on the pedestal of psychedelic instruments. The track is completely instrumental and provides an interlude between the intensely political and emotional tracks. The simplicity of the chord progression of “Bed” also provides a sort reprieve from the explicitly political, contrasting the upbeat chord progression and the depressing lyrics describing all of the things the narrator has to do as he lays there unable to get out of bed.

The closing track includes what might be the most shocking part of the album. “Till The Daylight Comes,” begins with a chorus of “Make America Great Again” and a sample of Donald Trump speaking. I found myself so caught up in the use of Trump’s voice that I missed the rest of the track and had to listen again to understand that the song was a restatement of the band’s thesis that in the darkest of nights, “We will wait for a brand-new dawn, we will wait until the daylight comes.” With this album, The Chocolate Watchband is saying This Is My Voice. Now, make yours heard.

   

Aftermath Release Official Lyric Video for “Smash Reset Control”

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Chicago based Progressive Thrash Metal Band AFTERMATH has released the official lyric video for “Smash Reset Control,” off of their upcoming LP, There is Something Wrong.

“Smash Reset Control lyrically and musically captures the angst millions feel daily. The system isn’t there to protect them or make their lives better. It’s really there to protect those with the real power. Not the puppets in Congress or the WH. The ones behind the scenes. Time to reset the power structure. The point of this track and the record is to expose the real enemy.”
– Kyriakos “Charlie” Tsiolis

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Chicago’s favourite progressive thrash sons are back with new material and, on this evidence, those of you expecting the technically adept, progressively-minded Aftermath found on underground 90’s classic Eyes Of Tomorrow will be left wanting. Instead, on “Smash Reset Control” at least, Aftermath circa 2018 are back to being a crossover thrash colossus, thrashin’ hard and fast and forever adorned with a bug-eyed sneer! – WORSHIP METAL

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One of the original crossover bands of the 1980s – A crossover band that transformed into one of the most technical Thrash Metal bands of their time.

As Don Kaye of Kerrang once said, they’re “too damn fast!”

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likemelikeyou Reveals “Serotonin” Off of Debut LP, ‘The Dream’

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Indie Alternative Pop/Rock artist likemelikeyou has revealed the second single off of his June released debut album, The Dream, a funk infused pop-rock track entitled “Serotonin.” Highlighting the young musicians diverse range, “Serotonin” blends nostalgic 80s pop with modern electronic dance elements to create an equally jukebox and dance floor friendly back drop.

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Click HERE to Download / Stream ‘The Dream’ Online.

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Track List:
1. The Dream
2. Serotonin
3. Getting Higher
4. Big A$$ Neighborhoods
5. Naughty
6. Things Fall Apart
7. Breakthru
8. Gazebo
9. Little White Clutch
10. Wine Me Dine Me
11. Jungle Gym
12. Me & You
13. Backstreets
14. The Comedown
15. Frenzy

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“I’m getting ready to take my show on the road in support of what’s soon to be my debut album, The Dream, which was released on June 22. I’ve got a lot of big things planned for the future, and I can’t wait to share them with you. Thanks for being a part of this, it means a lot to me. hugs. kisses.” – Grayson Bos

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JOYOUS WOLF Release Explosive Cover of “Mississippi Queen” and New Original Track “Slow Hand”

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Southern California based Rock band JOYOUS WOLF has released their incredible cover of the Mountain classic “Mississippi Queen” as well as a new original track “Slow Hand.” Produced by Grammy award winning producer Howard Benson, Mississippi Queen” and “Slow Hand” are the first tracks released by the band on Roadrunner Records.

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Click HERE to Download / Stream “Mississippi Queen” & “Slow Hand”

“This is something we have been working for since our inception as a band. To finally show everyone what we are capable of in the studio is an incredible and relieving feeling. We look forward to this Fall Tour because it will be our first time music follows us out there. We hope a taste of our message is clear in the sounds we captured on this single.” – Joyous Wolf

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Tour Dates:
10/03 @ Black Sheep – Colorado Springs, CO
10/05 @ Trixie’s Tiger Room – Louisville, KY
10/06 @ Oktoberfest – Pipestream, WV
10/07 @ Adelphia Music Hall – Marietta, GA
10/09 @ The Paramount – Huntington, NY
10/10 @ Smokestack Brew – Mishawaka, IN
10/11 @ RocHaus – West Dundee, IL
10/12 @ The Forge – Joliet, IL
10/13 @ Red Rocks – Mankato, MN
10/14 @ Mississippi Moon Bar – Dubuque, IA
10/17 @ Monk’s – Missoula, MT

Click HERE for Additional Dates and Ticketing Info

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Joyous Wolf is a Rock band from Southern California formed in 2014 by vocalist Nick Reese, guitarist Blake Allard, bassist Greg Braccio, and drummer Robert Sodaro. Reese and Sodaro met on their first day of 6th grade during student orientation. They went to different high schools where Sodaro would go on to befriend Braccio. During that time Reese, by chance, met Allard in the acoustic room at Guitar Center where they would jam CCR’s “Born on the Bayou”. There was an immediate dynamic between the two that ultimately led to an exchange of information. Months later Reese reached out to both Sodaro and Allard with the interest of starting a new project with them. Braccio would soon follow suit.

In the waning months of 2014 early jam sessions would yield the foundation of what Joyous Wolf has become. Fusing together influences ranging from Heavy Metal to Delta Blues, Joyous Wolf creates an expressive, high-energy fingerprint that separates themselves from their contemporaries in the realm of Modern Rock.

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ZARDONIC Releases Highly Anticipated New LP, ‘BECOME’

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Internationally renown Electronic Music Producer ZARDONIC has released his newest LP, Become, via Entertainment One. The 11 track album is a culmination of the Venezuelan masked demon’s unique blending and evolution of rock, metal, and electronic elements, featuring collaborations with such accomplished artists and bands as Celldweller, American Grim, The Qemists, Coppa, Jorgen Munkeby, and Malke & Ape.

BECOME is a very personal album. It is a journey of change, transition, resistance, self-reflection and evolution.” – ZARDONIC

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Imagine if you will crossing Ministry with Gravity Kills and then adding in a touch of Atari Teenage Riot and Nine Inch Nails. That’s what you get here. Sounds wild, right? – Philip Sayblack

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Track List:
1. No Mas Revolucion (Intro)
2. Revelation
3. Black And White (feat. American Grim)
4. Takeover (feat. The Qemists)
5. Children Of Tomorrow (feat. Coppa)
6. Before The Dawn (feat. Celldweller)
7. Follow The Light
8. Transhuman (feat. Jorgen Munkeby)
9. Army Of One
10. Monster (feat. Malke & Ape)
11. Libertadores (Finale)

 

Click HERE to Download / Stream ‘Become’!

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“No Mas Revolucion” depicts a cold realization about the big picture of the Venezuelan Crisis, as seen from an outside perspective which was granted to me as I left to live in the United States and now Germany.

“Revelation” is a personal statement inspired by the people who took stances both in favor and against Zardonic, both as myself and as my music project. It’s a celebration of the best revenge anyone can have against backstabbers, bad-mouthers, copycats and hypocrites: your own success.

“Black And White” is pure, blind rage. The overflowing power that becomes a fighter ready for the ring. American Grim was perfect for this, because Ryan Grim is a fighter himself. They are a mammoth of a band, and I love them like family. It made me very happy to have them on the record!

“Takeover” is a reminder to the world that before EDM and Rock / Metal became the trend it is today, we were pursuing this sound since 2004, and there were also many before us all the way back to the 60s. It made perfect sense then, that The Qemists were the right act for this collaboration. We pay homage to the great artists before us, those who made it big, those unsung, Pendulum, The Prodigy, Celldweller, Ministry, Linkin Park, and all other great artists that contributed to bring Electronic fused Rock to the mainstream, and as the scene takes shape, you better be ready to brace for Takeover!

“Children Of Tomorrow” is an anthem for the resistance. For the people who have raised their voice as the system continues to oppress us. Many sadly took this fight to the streets and violence, leading eventually to riots and their deaths. This is our homage to them. Coppa did a wonderful job with the vocals and lyrics. He is a truly illuminated guy and one of the most genuine artists I’ve had the pleasure to work with. I’d gladly do an entire record with him!

“Before The Dawn” to me is a fanboy’s dream come true. Celldweller was the one artist I heard that blew my mind with his seamless mix of Metal and Electronic Dance Music back in 2003 when he released his Self-Titled debut album. Working with him is an absolute honor, especially because his vocals and lyrics fit the album concept wonderfully well. “Alone I pray for something I know will surely come, is this the dark before the dawn? I hear the voice that’s calling, says not to be afraid, fears that surround me fade away…”

“Follow The Light” continues on to follow the voice in Before The Dawn: “We reunite as the worlds collide. Fear is an illusion. We are your salvation. By eventide our journey begins, so heed the call and follow the light”. The worlds collide is a perfect analogy to our manipulated society. It pains me to see this, because I see the results of it in every aspect of our lives. How through fear people are led to create enemies out of fellow humans, and are capable of the worst atrocities against them. I have no idea if this will ever end, but I know I don’t want to be a part of the collide, so I follow the light above. The light that lets me see with real eyes what is going once you look at the big picture.

“Transhuman” is the ascension of our consciousness into a higher state of being. It is a slow, painful, confusing and chaotic process that requires breaking through paradigms deeply ingrained in our minds since the moment we are born. I took this concept to madman Jorgen Munkeby of the norwegian Blackjazz band SHINING who contributed with the most insane saxophone execution I have ever heard. He is an absolute genius!

“Army Of One” is the loud voice of frustration, anger and fear pulling back. A fear covered by a false fearlessness, for a man who truly has no fear has no need to attack or fight back. It’s easy to fall for it. The relentlessness of anger is very seductive. Pure, raw, unrestrained, and potentially devastating if not under control. Philosophical whatnots aside, I think this will make a great track for First Person Shooters!

“Monster” was the perfect counterpart for Army Of One. Originally a demo project by fellow producer Mario Malke who is an insanely talented Hard Techno producer, sound designer and drummer. He did it together with band APE. I liked how the lyrics say “the voices, we don’t need them at all” and “we’ve seen it all before”. Leaving anything behind always comes with a lot of pain, but once you’re on the other side, everything makes sense.

“Libertadores” is the final mourning of the dying world. It’s walking forward knowing that the pain might always linger, but there is no way to go but forward. To portray this, I based the song in the recent events of the Venezuelan rebellion, which ended in the assassination of Oscar Pérez with the use of a Rocket Launcher. Looking at this is something that still sends chills down my spine. How is it possible that men could carry such acts? What were their true motives? It’s not like we’re strangers to these atrocities as they have been very well documented, but one thing is to read a book or watch a documentary and another is to have it hit close to home. It is my farewell to the fight, my apology to the resistance and my homage to those who fell. I hope I never have to deal with it ever again.

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LULLWATER Releases Official Music Video for “American Glutton”

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Athens, GA based alternative rock band LULLWATER has released the official music video for their socially critical single “American Glutton.” Directed by Jason Thrasher, “American Glutton” is off of the band’s 2015 LP, Revival

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“No matter your age or political beliefs, we hope this video inspires you to continue to challenge the status quo and always question the “fake world on the TV screen.” – John Strickland (Vocals/Guitar)

Download / Stream Revival Online:

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Track List:
1. Evenline
2. Holy Water
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3, Let Me Out
4. A Forgotten Name
5. Revival
6. Broken Wings
7. Liars & Thieves
8. Burning Both Ends
10. Vendetta Black (feat. Ryan White)
11. Alive
12. Ruin the Roses

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For more than a decade, alt rockers Lullwater have been blazing their way to the top of the industry thanks to their gritty, Southern-infused sound and straight-up, raw performances.

Formed in 2007 in Athens, GA, the foursome was born from the indelible mark that the godfathers of grunge left on music. The convergence of this inspiration, mixed with a healthy helping of swagger, defines this critically acclaimed alternative rock band.

The group released its debut, self-titled album in 2012 to solid reviews and were immediately invited to join some of the biggest tours that same year, as well as had the single “Albatross” featured on Sirius XM Octane Radio. Since that time, Lullwater has spent the majority of their career on the road sharing the stage with such A-list acts as Candlebox, Theory of a Deadman, Flyleaf, Passafire, Amaranthe, Butcher Babies, and more. The band released their critically acclaimed sophomore album, Revival, in 2015, followed by a live EP, The Seattle Sessions, in 2017.

Voodoo, their latest effort and arguably their best work to date, was recorded at the end of 2017 in New Orleans at Marigny Studios by Swedish producer and engineer Jakob Herrmann, co-produced/engineered by Justin Davis, and mixed by Jakob Herrmann at top floor studios, is scheduled for a Winter 2018 release; this record promises an even bigger, more explosive sound that will shake you to your core.

John Strickland – Rhythm Guitar & Lead Vocals
Daniel Binnie – Lead Guitar
Roy ‘Ray’ Beatty – Bass & Vocals
Joseph Wilson – Drums & Vocals

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REVIEW: Greta Van Fleet- “Anthem of the Peaceful Army” is Shedding Some Led

s-umusic-d2bdb070-75b1-4cfe-bb3f-a2dcbe2ce80bIf you have not heard a discussion comparing Greta Van Fleet to classic rock kings Led Zeppelin, well you must not be listening.  So, let’s get past it, embrace it for what it is and move on to what the first full-length record from GVF has in store beside the obvious.

The opener “Age of Man” starts off symphonically when that distinct voice of Josh Kiszka breaks in with an atmosphere reminiscent of classic rock giants like Traffic, Yes or Rush.  But fear not, the formula that GVF has built has not diverged from their solid Zep roots but is evolving into other classic formulas.  As soon as the “Page like” riffs of Jake Kiszka on “The Cold Wind” break open it is clear that the band knows not to bite the hand that feeds, and it has been feeding them very well since they have been selling out venues with a consistent record.

So, is that what is in store for the first full-length grom GVF…a bunch of ripped of chord progression from the T-Rex of dinosaur rock?  Absolutely not.  First off Page ripped his riffs from all the famous bluesmen, so Jake is just taking that piece of winning formula and making it his own.  For the classic rock lovers out there it is like getting new music from their long gone faves.  Take “When the Curtain Falls”, a rip-roaring blues rocker that combines all the elements of past road warriors and churns them out like sweet southern butter.

The influential ingredients each member brings to the table make the ultimate main dish with some tunes sticking out in a particular genre more than others.  The somewhat soft-spoken “Watching Over” has some real hints of world music via Josh’s interest and Jake’s sitar-like guitar effects.  “Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer)” possesses a distinct bass line from Sam Kiszka (the bands’ true multi-instrumentalist) and a perfectly syncopated drum rhythm from Danny Wagner that just works to build a well constructed pure rock song that at the bridge plays with psychedelia enough to tease but not go full blown Floyd.

“You’re the One” hits the acoustic flavor with some excellent organ accompaniment to attempt to bring into being an anthemic quality within a love song, but slightly misses the mark in memorability, lagging in its simplicity.  “The New Day” continues down the acoustic dominated path sounding a bit more Zep III once again punctuated by organ fills and very catchy verses and chorus.  As the LP moves on to “Mountain of the Sun” GVF does not try to fix what is not broken and “Brave New World” also stays true but definitely not as comparable to Zep but more pieces of Tull and even Zebra and Fastway, who were also derivatives of the Led Zep comparison syndrome.  Finally, the record concludes with “Anthem”, a syrupy simple chord song with slide guitar, tambourine, bongos, and acoustics that catapults back to the peace-loving hippies of Ashbury.

All in all the new music from Greta Van Fleet is an excellent tribute to an era gone by with splotches of originality, and that is not an insult.  The band is hitting some nostalgic notes that are clearly resonating with a huge audience. If imitation is the highest form of flattery and you get the blessing from Plant and Page themselves well you must be doing something right.

CAMU Releases Official Music Video for “Empire State of Sound”!

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Hawaii based, NAKED front-man CAMU has returned after an 8 year hiatus with the explosive new single and official music video, “Empire State of Sound.” Self-directed, “Empire State of Sound” was shot on the street of New York City and pays homage to both the city and the Finland born artist’s experiences.

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“I wrote & recorded the first version of ‘Empire State of Sound’ while I was living in East Village New York after NAKED had broken up after our second US tour. The song is not only a celebration of the good times I’ve had in New York, but a shout out, to the energy, motivation & answers those city streets gave me during dark, unforgettable & trying times. So much can happen in a New York minute, so to say. For me, New York will forever hold a very special place in my heart. It is where I found myself, the love of my life & some of the best friends & experiences that I will cherish forever, not to mention I’ve recorded a LOT of music there & it is the first place I was able to explore & express different sides of my music style. ‘Empire State of Sound’ is a window to my NYC experience & my very own NYC anthem. My ode to NYC.
Fast forward to a few months ago, I suddenly started rearranging the song in Hawaii, out of the blue I sent it to the guys in my old band NAKED, because life is too short and I felt it was time to share my music again. The final version of the song was actually recorded by us in 4 different countries simultaneously. Voila. ‘Empire State of Sound.’

With the video, I wanted to create something personal & authentic, rather than your generic video of a bunch dudes playing on top of a building… I lived in NYC & I walked those streets every single day for years, so I know it. I know the street hustlers, the deli owners, the restaurant workers, bartenders etc, & they all know me! There’s even a shot in the video of a street hustler I used to give money too everyday, it wasn’t planned & it was epic! The video was purposely shot with a bunch of cuts to really emphasize the fast & ever changing pace of the city. Everything in the video is of my hood & old stomping grounds, plus a few quintessential NYC spots in the area. I actually directed the video & a friend of mine, Kevin Vonesper, filmed it for me. I had two other photographers lined up to actually meet me in NYC and shoot the video originally but they both fell through on the same day haha. Kevin and I did some NYC hustling and did the whole thing in 2 hours & I added in a couple extra takes then edited the whole thing together on my laptop in Hawaii. It was really awesome to see the whole thing come together, it was the first video I directed & edited.” – CAMU

Download / Stream “Empire State of Sound:”

iTunes | Spotify | GooglePlay | amazonMP3 

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Part 1: The story so far

After a 8 year hiatus from releasing music, the first thing I will be releasing is a trilogy of songs & their corresponding videos (“Empire State Of Sound” being the first of the trilogy) that unfold the journey of my life throughout these last 8 years, musically & personally. Once NAKED disbanded after 10 years, 4 albums and two world tours I had had enough, the final straw came when our manager Bill Aucoin (KISS & Billy Idol) passed away, everything fell apart, I left, I hung it up and I disappeared. NAKED had been my band since I was a teenager. I’m grown now & I have 2 children, & spend most of my time in Hawaii. A lot has changed obviously, but I’ve written & recorded a lot of music during my time living away from Finland. I’ve had so many life altering & mind blowing experiences, so I’ve got a lot of new song material & the trilogy songs reflect and tells my story. This new release is all about me coming out & being me, Camu. Naked is still my band & will be touring as my band when we do our summer tour in 2019, but this is pure Camu music the way I have always envisioned it. As the new music being released ventures further from the straight rock music we used to play back in the day, we will be releasing it under a new better fitting new name, CAMU.

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Pittsburgh Warped Tour 2017 Wrap Up

Each summer, Vans Warped Tour makes its rounds throughout the country as the largest travelling music festival and attracts millions of rockers and music enthusiasts. This year, Warped Tour made its annual stop to the KeyBank Pavilion in Burgettstown on Friday, July 14th.

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Image courtesy of Vans Warped Tour.

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Real Friends Returns to Pittsburgh

By Paige Elexis Owens

After taking several months off of the road and the stage, Real Friends performed in Pittsburgh’s South Side at the Rex Theater on June 7th.

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Review: All Time Low’s “Last Young Renegade”/@StageAE July 25

by Stephanie Connell

All Time Low is a pop-punk band from the Baltimore area.  They have been making music since the mid-2000’s, and have spent most of their career on-and-off with Hopeless Records.  The band has been in the studio and announced a new album, an international tour, and a new record label.  All Time Low officially signed with Fueled by Ramen earlier this year, a label who has signed well-known musicians like Fall Out Boy, Panic! At The Disco, and Twenty-one Pilots.  All Time Low is scheduled to release the new album, Last Young Renegade, on June 2nd.  So far, the band has released two singles with accompanying music videos from the new album, the second being “Last Young Renegade” at the end of March.

After “Dirty Laundry,” I wasn’t sure what to expect from the rest of the album.  It had more of an Alt-Pop sound, and it was quiet for most of the song.  It didn’t have the usual All Time Low angsty, gritty, Pop Punk sound.  I was curious as to how the band would change now that they had signed with FBR.  Would their sound change in the way it did during the Dirty Work era?  As the band ages (All four members are now close to 30 years old) will their music mature?  I held my breath at 2 in the morning as I pressed play.  What came next was pleasantly surprising.

The music video itself was a continuation of “Dirty Laundry” (If you listen closely at the beginning, you will notice that “Last Young Renegade” is playing in the background at the laundromat).  It follows the story of a couple with a broken-down car.  They are pushing their way across the city, all the while flashing back to All Time Low (playing as The Young Renegades in the music video) playing at a small venue.  At the end of the video, the couple arrives at the venue just as The Young Renegades finish their first song.  Alex sees them come in and proceeds to say, “We are The Young Renegades, and for those of you just joining us, this next song goes out to you guys.”  It then cuts to a TV screen in a bar (or a diner, maybe?).  Another song can be heard in the background.

The snippet of music at the end isn’t the only teaser we get in the second music video.  If you look closely, as The Young Renegades are leaving the lounge in the back, the camera zooms in on Cheetos, Corona, Rockstar, and a piece of paper.  Pause the video, and take a closer look:  two of those titles will look familiar.  Could this be the track list for the album?  If it is, you’ll also notice that the last song is covered up.  What surprises do All Time Low have in store for its fans?

Overall, the storyline of the music video was simple, but it fit well with the nostalgic feel of the song.  Listening to “Last Young Renegade,” I had flashbacks of listening to “Six Feet Under the Stars” at fourteen years old.  I would soon be starting high school and enjoying (and suffering through) everything that comes with the later teenage years.  When I heard that song, I thought of adventure, and youth, and taking on what the world had to offer.  Now, hearing “Last Young Renegade,” I feel as if I’m looking back at my teenage years, and reminiscing everything, and everyone, that brought me to where I am.  It is almost as if the band is remembering that as well.  Now, they have evolved and matured.

This sounded more like All Time Low’s style than “Dirty Laundry,” but it had still definitely matured from their past releases.  With the release of the album just two months away, fans are dying to know what will come next.

Watch All Time Low’s music video for “Last Young Renegade” here, and watch the music video for their single “Dirty Laundry” hereAll Time Low will be at Stage AE in Pittsburgh on July 25.

 

REVIEW and EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: FRZY -GOD KING SLAVE

Pittsburgh has become known as somewhat of a “farm league” city for future rap superstars.  Mac Miller and Whiz are just a few of the talents to come out of the Steel City.  The new release by Pittsburgh’s very own FRZY will not only put him in the same category of superstar but quite possibly take the next level of a megastar.  God King Slave is one of the most versatile records to be released in the genre in a very long time.  Now that FRZY is beyond the mixtape game and in the big leagues, he is coming out swinging.

Listening to God King Slave is analogous to entering an amusement park.  There are so many rides, such varying smells, a vast array of visual candy that the senses become bombarded to create memories that become attached to one’s soul.  FRZY takes you on so many twists, turns, and thrills that listening to all the variations and styles can leave one a bit disoriented, but in a good way, the kind you are willing to pay for.  Speaking with the artist reveals just where the influence comes from, simply FRZY’s personality.  The young man who gained notoriety by destroying all competition in local battles, only to crush it in New York City, went on to join huge tours such as Nelly’s Lunatics Tour and perform with artists from Rick Ross to Lil’ Wayne.  But there is more to him than just his rap game, FRZY is very well spoken and highly intelligent, something that comes out when he raps and speaks in front of large crowds.  He has gained a ton of marketing deals, including becoming the spokesperson for the Subway Melt.  Considering his quick wit, sincere charm, and undeniable charisma what Pittsburgh has had and now what the world will have is a mogul on their hands and in their ears.  He already has his own Pandora channel, Yahoo channel, and Vevo channel.  He’s done modeling, acting, and has shown he is a true songwriting talent, proving he is more than an MC.


God King Slave starts off with “Ruins” featuring Morgan Erina who is an alternative folk singer-songwriter.  The music is produced by actual musicians, not computer samples, and that alone makes all the tracks impressive, but Erina’s voice combined with the excellent instrumentation and FRZY’s flow makes for a captivating entry.  As much about his rise as his need to do more, FRZY is in a way presenting a warning to others that he is coming, this is his time. “I’m here for the glory Tho the battle is gory Just know that a high rise, gone come wit some stories,” is a gorgeous line summing up his honesty and his work ethic.  It is a fitting introduction to a 24 track “double album” that plays like a Sirens call, dangerous yet irresistible.

The thematics within God King Slave can be seen within the titles, though this is not a concept album.  But the biblical and societal metaphors abound throughout the piece.  For instance, “Baptize (featuring Jess Abran)”  which plays with the symbolism of water, “Cleanse me of my soul And let the water make me whole “Cause in the water I’m fine”.  “Crucifixtation”, “God Willing”, and “Judas” are just a few of the titles with the obvious reference, but it is the mixture of FRZY’s relationship with the words God, King, Slave that presents the tie in with all the beats.  The upbeat “Babylon” calls out his competition in a display of wordplay, “They be babbling on when they babble on They song come up short I tell em’ get along…Biblically This New Testament to me Make y’all niggas plea double jeopardy.”  The double entendres fit perfectly, not forced, even when FRZY is just spouting out bars.

Do not confuse the record as “preachy” with the thematic, though.  FRZY never goes that route, plus he has a lot more in mind such as “Live Dat” which is a sound profession of his passion for the desire to be at the top of the game, “I then been the same little nigga wit the nice flow Like they give a fuck A lot of big rappers out here I’m a out grow”, professing his bravado lyrically and backing it up.  “Oujia” is a furious flurry of wordsmithing that uses acronyms like Shakespearean sonnets and is unlike anything that the rap world has heard before.  FRZY’s ability to make associations, phrases, and bars is by far one of thee best.  It is performances like this song that highlight just some of his abilities that he has teased us with before, such as what he did on “WTF”.

GKS Promo 1Going deeper into God King Slave, FRZY has some super deep violin driving the song “Whips and Chainz” which makes this a highly unique chill hip hop production that employs metaphors that run deeper than the obvious basis of the “slave” theme.  Riffing on how we all have our whips and chains in life as well as the time-honored boasting aspect of the genre, FRZY manages to touch on some serious subjects while injecting humor, and highlighting his Pittsburgh ties, “I’m a Pittsburgh boy so don’t talk when the Bucs on I’m a Pittsburgh Boy only one to blow without chucks on My name got a ring now and I ain’t even put a tux on Calling me king is a nice fit that I ain’t never have to try on.” Other pieces like “Shame” build on his rep and “Bounce” plays with the genre’s way of showing male prowess.  FRZY also shows his ability to weave a tale lyrically on songs such as “Pretty Baby”, “Body smokin’
legs spreading like cancer Pay her enough no need to romance her But even with enough still J-Lo was a dancer.”

With 24 tracks FRZY provides a history lesson in the various rap styles, showing he has studied, practiced, and mastered all of them.  For this writer, who typically is not a rap listener or consumer, FRZY has provided an art piece and a megalith of a debut that keeps rapt attention, feet moving head bobbing, and easy justification to lay that card down and purchase the goods.  When the album hits shelves and the net at the end of September, FRZY will be finalizing some big appearances including late night TV and prime time daytime.  It’s time to watch the man who has been turning heads become the king of the kingdom.

ORDER ON iTUNES NOW!!!

 

 

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Queen V Rocks the Barn

Queen V is doing a small tour to promote her ep, Bridges, which dropped in February. This coast-to-coast, limited stop tour included a private show in Pittsburgh. The proceeds helping support the Sewickley YMCA scholarship funds and raised over $30,000. The concert was in a barn like no other. Privately owned, the venue was literally a converted barn nestled in the hilltops of Sewickley itself. Limited space and ticket availability made possible to only have 200 folks in attendance, so there was not a bad spot in the house. Barn acoustics make for amazing sound and Queen V and 5 of her 6 piece band made the most of it. Mostly originals and a few covers thrown in for fun (Mr. Mister’s Take These Broken Wings”) made a strong set. The highlight of the show is when this incredibly talented group switched out their instruments, making the most of their amazing capabilities. Also joining the Queen V was a resident 11 year old and members of the opening (local) band Laurel Oak Boys. Together they ended the set a personalized version of Here We Go! much to the delight of the Steeler fans in the house.

The previous stop on her “one off” tour was singing the National Anthem and doing an acoustic set for the crowd at Camden Yards prior to an Orioles vs. Yankees game. July will see V and Co. at Sunset Marquis in West Hollywood. The tour will likely wrap in the fall.

Like many, V was classically trained but has always been a rock and roll girl writing her own songs and jamming out on her guitar. Never wanting to be anything other than a musician, the pretty brunette kicked off her career in 1996. The New Jersey native did the usual club tour circuit in NY/NJ clubs then quickly broke into national touring as openers for artists like Twisted Sister, Billy Idol, Bon Jovi and more.

Bridges is the singers 7th album, all produced on her own independent label, Royal Noise.

The first six, including a compilation, Decade of Queen, were straight up rock with V belting out strong vocals reminiscent of other rock and roll queens of the 80’s.

Bridge shows an evolution into a new sound, leaning away from hard rock and bearing (acoustically) toward Indie. With time spent in Nashville collaborating and getting back to her songwriter roots, a softer sound has emerged but with a voice still strong. V describes the ep as, “less distortion/more emotion” and “dialed back with more finesse”.  She has been carefully collecting the reactions of her long time fan base and the feedback on the evolution is nothing but love.

Already looking forward to her next project, Queen V says creating music makes her happier than anything else, she feels a driving need to share her art. Her loyal fans encourage and motivate her. Keeping it fresh, innovating and growing are challenges she takes on not just for her audience but also for herself.

Find Queen V’s work on all the usual downloadable outlets, or when you purchase a cd receive the download code as well.  www.queenv.com

In case y’all were wondering why V loves the ‘Burgh enough for a private show? Her husband is a guy from Crafton named Bill. Something about football…

REVIEW: Sahg’s New Concept Album Is Downright Ascendant

Norway’s Sahg have been melting faces since 2004, but 2013 marked a fresh new approach for the ambitious Scandinavian metalheads. After three albums, all of which sequentially numbered, the group let their imaginations run wild with a conceptual album idea, one that wouldn’t be given a number like past records. Delusions of Grandeur took the road instead of a simple Sahg IV, and while it sounds like a break of tradition, it’s actually an incredibly smart move by the band. Delusions of Grandeur is a standalone concept album with as much cosmic energy as the brightest star. Sahg’s latest metal creation delivers just as much finesse as its already ascendant concept implies.

Sahg express their innermost creativity with Delusions of Grandeur, a concept album about a protagonist and his blind obsession with his own ego (aka “delusions of grandeur”). As the character’s reality begins to fade from the delusions, he appears in an imaginary existence where he believes he is the ruler of the universe. His control comes to an end, however, when he falls from his mountaintop palace and fades into the darkness surrounding him, all while being stripped of every bit of his power. Sahg have noted Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey as thematic influences, which fits extremely well with the many different moods that are fully released in Delusions of Grandeur. From the triumphant rule of “Blizzardborne” to the tragic reincarnation into the real world in “Sleeper’s Gate to the Galaxy”, the record demonstrates maniacal control, acceleration of danger and an overarching mood that illustrates a false kingdom’s downfall in picturesque and textured forms.

Throughout the album, Sahg demonstrate every single influence they can get their mitts on. In one track, “Firechild”, they’re tossing ravenous guitar solos that share tones with Mastodon’s Crack the Skye record, while the following track “Walls of Delusion” is purely brilliant sludgy doom metal, taking cues right from The Melvins or even Black Sabbath. Singers Olav Iversen and Tony Vetaas show off extremely versatile vocal styles mixing the spectral snarl of Ozzy Osbourne and the shrieking battlecry of Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson across the tracklist. Iversen, along with fellow guitarist Thomas Tofthagen, demonstrate extreme versatility on the axe, with riff-heavy rhythms crashing through on slower songs like “Walls of Delusion” and revving into overdrive with the fantastically melodic grinding on “Ether.” Drummer Thomas Lønnheim doesn’t skimp on the jazzy drumming either, especially in opener “Slip Off the Edge of the Universe.” There are so many moods shown in Delusions of Grandeur and that’s what every great concept album has been able to do: show off multiple vibes. A consistent stream of mood is no way to tell the highs and lows of a story like Delusions of Grandeur, and Sahg are able to show the rise and fall of its protagonist by creating various tones throughout the album, each one to complement a critical point in the storyline.

“Sleeper’s Gate to the Galaxy” is the eleven-minute-long closer to the record, a multi-portioned departure of the protagonist back into the reality that he leaves behind, all with his own madness in tow. Mixing 2000’s prog metal like Opeth with Led Zeppelin groove and Iron Maiden-esque vocals, Sahg make one hell of a closer, one with multiple steps and sections to tell the album’s climactic final act. The acoustic intro and mid-song interlude set the stage well, breaking up the intensity and letting the listener reflect on what transpired beforehand. With a mighty burst, the album ends as it begins.

Delusions of Grandeur’s ambitiously conceptual nature may sound a recipe for pretentiousness, but Sahg keep this spacey inter-dimensional odyssey (ironically) rather down-to-earth. And that’s a good thing. The band lets tone and texture take control instead of bizarre melodic chords or superhuman rhythm patterns, creating a story that’s both fully envisioned and phenomenally presented. It does tend to lose its most striking luster around two-thirds in (“Then Wakens the Beast” is rather lackluster compared to the rest on the album), but Sahg prove their conviction to their concept and even more conviction to their songwriting. Despite that lull, Delusions of Grandeur finishes strong with a climactic epilogue. Sahg make a ton of smart moves with Delusions of Grandeur; from the tumultuous tonal shifts to the fit and resonant instrumentation, this is a concept album whose intriguing narrative is never a crutch for its songwriting of virtuosity. Delusions of Grandeur is a mix of many different ideas, but a synergy of only the best. It’s a downright out-of-this-world album.

REVIEW: Red Fang’s Whales and Leeches Unleashes Primal Groove Metal

Rising metalheads Red Fang hail from a rather interesting place for metal: Portland, Oregon. While many of the most prominent metal bands of the 2010’s come from Europe, California or even the south of Georgia, Red Fang’s roots come from a place that’s more associated with the nearby grunge movement from nearby Seattle. This is interesting because it clearly has had an effect on these groovy metal mavens. Red Fang invest less in thrash speed or percussive intensity, and more in the stoner metal traditions set into motion with Washington’s iconic The Melvins. Red Fang took the teaching of The Melvins to heart throughout their career, mixing stoner metal with southern prog helmed by bands like Mastodon. The band’s third album Whales and Leeches might not further their evolution too much, but it’s a groove-laden joyride across the roughest roads that still has a lot of proficiency between its doomy exterior.

Red Fang further refine their stoner metal tradition with groovy rhythms and lots of bluesy melodies to balance out the heaviness. It’s no surprise that the band has shared tours with Mastodon, Baroness and Kyuss Lives; Red Fang definitely follow the history of these legendary acts in grooving and sludgy metal sounds. Like many of the stoner greats, Red Fang gather heavy influence from bands like doombringers Black Sabbath and proto-grungers The Melvins. The vocals from bassist/frontman Aaron Beam share plenty of similarities with the haunting, gutteral moan of Buzz Osbourne. The closer “Every Little Twist” is ripped right from that sludgy, stoner code that The Melvins pioneered during the late 80’s and early 90’s, while the downright frightening ending to “1516” is almost spectral in its imagery. The sludge reaches its freezing point in the five-minute dark séance of “Failure,” a thick, doom metal style track with psalmic distortion on lead singer Aaron Beam’s already creeping bellow. The rhythms are both tribal and frightening, as they channel the dread and haunting that first emerged from late 70’s Black Sabbath, before reaching a triumphant climb and diving back into hibernation.

But not all is at a crawler’s pace with Whales and Leeches. This is stoner metal, so expect plenty of wild guitar solos and ferocious rhythm patterns. While the album rarely reaches the technicality heard in Mastodon, the tempos are dynamic, especially in the warped rhythms on “Crows In Swine” or the proggy fever dream of “Dawn Rising.” The groove is remarkably consistent across Whales and Leeches, with “Blood Like Cream” emitting lots of bluesy guitars from axemen Bryan Giles and David Sullivan. Some songs like, once again, “Crows in Swine”, emit a massive Mastodon vibe, one right from the Blood Mountain era. “Behind the Light” features some downright epic drumming from percussion lead John Sherman, whose technicality once again tugs toward their prog rock pals Mastodon.

And while Red Fang do quite a bit to impress on Whales and Leeches, they still have trouble adding those instantly memorable moments that their peers do. The vibe dances between a slender crawl and a metal highway jolt, and Red Fang demonstrate this indecisiveness a bit too much. This makes Whales and Leeches a rather fragmented record once it closes. It’s certainly well-performed and well-written, but its focus is just a bit too off center to recommend to any metalhead. Some songs sound out of place for both the slow and fast, like “No Hope”, which sounds too straightforward for repeated listens. Red Fang seem to be stuck in this bizarre state where they rapidly jump between sluggish doom and fiery blues metal, sometimes within the same song, and it ends up being too disorienting and unfocused to be worth an instant recommendation.

Red Fang’s third album is not bad by any means. In fact, it’s a technically proficient and very enjoyable record that preserves the philosophies that guided Black Sabbath, The Melvins and Kyuss way back when. It even manages to muddy the path further, giving Red Fang a grimier and filthier sound. But the group doesn’t have its identity solidified just yet. It’s disorienting to hear something paced so slowly, then turning up the speed so dramatically. And the fact that Red Fang are focusing on these two very different aesthetic leads to them becoming mixed too much, sometimes in incompatible ways. That being said, Whales and Leeches is another respectable, albeit less confident step forward for this up-and-coming metal outfit. While it’s not an essential metal record, Red Fang continue to be a very interesting specimen in modern metal. They just need to tighten those bolts a bit more.

Review: Periphery’s New Album “Clear”

Periphery has just recently released their newest album “Clear”. Just for starters, this may just be their finest album yet. The album is not overly done with utter ridiculousness and since its only a total of seven songs, it is just the right length where it never losses your attention.

The first song off of the album is called “Overture” and it is mainly just piano with a some slow drawn out guitar and drums. The Piano ends up picking up speed for a only a few seconds then falls back into a more gracious melody. Then album really gets started with some very tight riffs in usual Periphery fashion with “The Summer Jam”. The instrumental is always killer with Periphery but the vocals were what caught my attention this time around. Everything was right on key and it covered a lot of vocal range (which is done quite well throughout the album).

“Feed the Ground” is the next song on the track listing and this is without question the best song on the album. The drums and bass lines were just absolutely killer on this track. It starts off with a type of metal groove and all of a sudden it picks up the pace right before they switched to a heavy breakdown. This song has everything you could ever want in a song and you might never take it off repeat after you listen to it.

The next song is called “Zero” and it reminds you a lot of the old school Periphery songs with their very intricate time signatures and such. This song is nothing but instrumental and when you listen to it, you will understand why. Even without any vocals, this song is really cool to just sit back and listen to.

“The Parade of Ashes” starts off with some heavy faster chugging riffs and tight drum beats. When the chorus kicks in, it is hard to explain, but it has a very old school rock sound to it that just makes you want to dance. It is very upbeat and this song is a really great build up song. The second half of this song gets quicker and adds in an Avenged Sevenfold sounding guitar solo which really brought the song together before going back to their groovy chorus line.

To finish up the album, they end it with “Extraneous” and “Pale Aura”. The first of the two, “Extraneous”, has a very odd drum beat that is all bass, toms, and snare. The guitars and bass all have very odd sounds to them as well and after a short bit, they all pull together for the faster part before slowing it all back down to a breakdown. “Pale Aura” ends the album with a lot more screaming vocals then the rest of the album and even adds some killer blast beats. This might be the tightest track on the entire album with the quick switches from fast and slow parts without any sort of pause. The last two minutes of the song they start to slow it down and end the album with a little bit of piano and some very soft guitar.

Periphery’s album “Clear” from front to back was just simply excellent. In my personal opinion it is their best work yet. The vocals were phenomenal, the guitars and bass were very tight, and the drums were insane as always. If their is any album you want to go out a buy right now, it is this one without question. You will not be disappointed.

Review: Polar “Shadowed By Vultures”

Polar is one of those up and coming bands that just keeps grabbing everyone’s attention with some very catchy songs, and constantly getting recognition from some bigger bands in the UK area such as Bring Me the Horizon and Architects. “Shadowed by Vultures” will be their second full length album and man, what a killer one at that.

Polar opens up their newest album with the intro song “First Breath” and the title couldn’t be closer to the truth, because as soon as it ends, they jump right into the first song called “Blood Lines” followed by their first single off of this album, “Glass Cutter”. “Blood Lines” has that heavy grungy sound to it like off of their first album. “Glass Cutter” has not so much a laid back rhythm, but more of a build up kind of riff so everyone can just blast their speakers and sing along with the very catchy chorus lines.

The album rolls onto “Black Days” which has a similar sound to “Glass Cutter”. This song has a lot more clean guitar then what they usually do but its a nice change of pace for them. The bass lines in this song were just killer from start to finish. When “Before the Storm” comes on, the title speaks for itself basically. The song is very calm in the beginning, and stays fairly slow the whole time. It gets a bit louder but nothing crazy so its not overbearing at all. Its more of a nice little intermission song.

“Mountain Throne” is up next and this is the second single off of the album released only a few weeks ago. This song doesn’t really get crazy but another catchy chorus line by Polar. They simply have a knack for making their songs very catchy which is really good for their future. “Vipers” grabbed by attention a bit with its very interesting drum beats that had me listening very closely. This song went back and forth between a huge heavy sound to a slower headbanging sound and was quite enjoyable.

The title track, “Shadowed by Vultures”, just comes barreling in with some faster riffs and drums and instantly makes you want to start running in a circle pit. Then “Paradise” comes on, and its a breath of fresh air really. Some very soft guitar led by the beautiful sound of a piano. Even though its not a song you will see them play live, its really nice relaxing song right before they finish up the album.

The last two songs were “Create” (which was on their last EP), and “Our Legacy”. “Create” is always a fun jam since they released it last year on an earlier EP, and it has not grown old at all. “Our Legacy” was probably the most technical song on the album. Various different speeds with some of Polar’s grungy metal riffs followed by their upbeat ones. The vocals really impressed me on this one; they were a lot more varied with highs and lows to change it up.

Overall, it was a solid album. I don’t really have any complaints about it and it can’t come out soon enough! Polar’s new album, “Shadowed by Vultures”, is set to be released February 10th. Go Grab a copy as soon as you can.

Review: I Killed the Prom Queen “Beloved”

The Australian metalcore band, I Killed the Prom Queen, have had some very up and down times over their time as a band. This has included lineup changes and breakups since they formed back in 2000. Just last year though, it was announced that the band was going to become a full-time band again and start to write/record a new album, hoping to release it early 2014. Well here we, early 2014, and the album has not been released just yet but just last night the band offered to have a full stream of their newest album online for everyone to experience the new era of I Killed the Prom Queen.

They start off with an intro song called “Beginning of the End” and then as soon as it ends the drums for “To the Wolves” just come blistering in to really kick off the album. “To the Wolves” was released late last year but nonetheless, it is still a great song to jam too.

The next two songs entitled “Bright Enough” and “Melior” have some very sick guitar riffs that isn’t just the usual kind of metalcore riff; they add more into it that just gives the song a nice melody and gives it a very definite sound. Don’t worry too much though, they are still a metal band so things are going to still get heavy with some breakdowns and chugging chords.

The second single off of the album, and the first music video, “Thirty One & Sevens” is probably my personal favorite off of this album. It has a very solid mix of the heavy side and the more upbeat technical side of metalcore that really gets you to jam and move to it. The riffs, the drums, and the vocals were just at their best for this song.

“Calvert Street” picks the speed back up for the album (more than it was) right before it slows down a bit for “Kjaerlighet”. While “Calvert Street” was focused more on blast beats, breakdowns, and some heavy riffs, “Kjaerlighet” was laid back and used more of an orchestra behind parts of this song to make it a lot more full then it already was.

The last four songs are easier to sum up together: The Beaten Path, Nightmares, No One Will Save Us, and Brevity. All four of these were just like the rest of the album, a very solid mix of everything you want in a metalcore band. There is no other way to put it. No song on this album was disappointing in the least. This may just be one of the strongest comebacks ever for a band. To release such a strong album after not being a full-time band in six years… its beyond impressive. I would love to say that this is their masterpiece but then again, I Killed the Prom Queen is back and they have the energy and determination right now to trump their own album right now. Things are going to get interesting.

Check out I Killed the Prom Queen’s new album “Beloved” set to release February 18th.

Full Stream “Beloved” here: http://www.soundwavefestival.com/about/news/i-killed-prom-queen-australian-exclusive-stream-beloved

REVIEW: German rock legends The Scorpions release MTV Unplugged in Athens on Bluray, DVD, and CD

When it comes to making immaculately crafted acoustic sets that warrant repeated listens, MTV Unplugged has a nearly unparalleled track record. For a program and recording series that has spanned more than twenty years, and seen such a wide and disparate cast of talents, the show has become a cornerstone for acoustic sets. From Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam, to Led Zepplin and Kiss, to LL Cool J and Jay-Z, one thing remains the same, and that is the consistency and standard they hold to the audio quality of all of their recordings.

On the latest release, Scorpions Unplugged In Athens, MTV has stayed true to their format and delivered another high quality performance from a group of musical legends. The release, a CD-DVD combo set, is set below the stars in a gorgeous open-air amphitheatre in Athens in front of a decent sized crowd Scorpions loyalists. The band has come dynamically well equipped and full bodied to this performance, appropriating 6 additional musicians, a full 8-piece string section accompaniment from the group Strings From Heaven, as well as special guest appearances from Morten Harket, Johannes Strate, CATHE, and Dimitra Kokkori. The sound is full and rich, the quality is exceptional, and most of all the music is on point, staying true to the spirit and energy the Scorpions have been conjuring since the early seventies.

All the huge classics are here in spades: “Rock You Like a Hurricane“, “No One Like You“, “Send Me an Angel“, “Still Loving You“, and “Wind of Change“. The instrumental arrangements are dynamic and robust, doing justice to the sound that brought these German rock legends international fame and recognition. Around every corner there are visually as well as audibly interesting details that make watching worth the price of admission. For instance, the finger picking insanity at the beginning of “Speedy’s Coming”, or any of the mid-set solos illustrating the guitar chops and expertise of a lifetime of performing.

As this Unplugged album comes on the heels of the worldwide Scorpions farewell tour, it seems these guys are alive and still kicking. While they’ve had a long touring history and become heavy metal icons, it seems fitting to see a group that have been together for the better part of forty years to step into a subtler arena and do an acoustic set. Although the boys have additionally confirmed after the farewell tour that they will not be breaking up, it seems that they might be ready to step back and take some time to reflect. Overall this is an entertaining set, albeit a bit relaxed and calmed down compared to the Scorpions early catalog. A must have for any die-hard Scorpions fan.

CD review SCORPIONS "MTV Unplugged - live in Athens"

Tracklist:

1. Sting in the tail

2. Can’t live without you

3. Pictured life

4. Speedy’s coming

5. Born to touch your feelings

6. The best is yet to come

7. Dancing with the moonlight

8. In trance

9. When you came into my life

10. Delicate dance

11. Love is the answer

12. Follow your heart

13. Send me an angel

14. Where the river flows

15. Passion rules the game

16. Rock you like a hurricane

17. Hit between the eyes

18. Rock’n’roll band

19. Blackout

20. Still loving you

21. Big city nights

22. Wind of change

23. No one like you

24. When the smoke is going down

25. Where the river flows

REVIEW: Baroness’ Live EP Delivers a Small Taste of Awesome

Since 2003, Baroness has been one of the most promising acts in metal. Alongside fellow southern metalheads, Mastodon, Baroness have pioneered a progressive metal sound that has sounded much less technical than their peers in Dilinger Escape Plan or Between the Buried and Me. After two critically acclaimed albums in Red Album and Blue Record, Baroness released the 2012 Yellow and Green, an album that furthered their path into metal stardom. 2013 marked the release of Baroness’ short live EP in Studio 4 of Maida Vale for BBC. With four solid tracks in tow, the EP is a nice grab bag of some fantastic recordings from the band, even if it’s not the live recording fans have been anticipating.

Like their former tourmates Mastodon, Baroness’ progressive metal was constantly in strong equilibrium with the sludgy alt rock sound of bands like The Melvins and even early grunge like 80’s Soundgarden. There was certainly a level of speed metal influence, but rhythmic riffs were certainly a key component to Baroness’ sound. Even frontman John Baizley’s melodic bellow has ties to Buzz Osbourne’s low-tuned voice. That low-end melody has made Baroness’ sound remarkably approachable for a progressive metal outfit, and like Mastodon’s, the band’s sound has even managed to crack the radio rock charts. The guys in Baroness are clearly educated in progressive tradition, what with the varied percussion of drummer Sebastian Thomson and the intricate bass cues from Nick Jost. Baroness is a more accessible prog metal that’s just as adventurous, but won’t leave you scratching your head with its intricacies.

All four tracks on Live at Maida Vale: Studio 4 come straight from the band’s 2012 double album Yellow and Green, an album that, while not the breakout success of 2009’s Blue Record, further solidified the band’s reputation in the rise of American progressive metal in the 2000’s. The tracks include the album’s two singles, “Take My Bones Away” and “March to the Sea”, along with “Cocainium” (from Yellow) and “The Line Between” (from Green). The two singles, especially the powerful “March to the Sea”, are fantastic recordings, with enormous choruses and a great rhythm performance on both. The percussion tremors and melodic guitar solos of “March to the Sea” remain one of the band’s best works, a highlight in their discography.

“Cocainium” is a much more subdued recording: quieter, proggier and even a bit jazzier. Baroness still have erupting choruses, though not at the level of their singles. The guitar work from Peter Adams keeps up with the virtuosity of prog metal tradition, with melodic guitar chords and plenty of obscure arrangements displayed. “The Line Between” is probably the weakest track, however. While it isn’t necessarily bad, it doesn’t have any strong hooks, nor does it experiment enough in the progressive department. The rumbling rhythm department picks up the slack, but it isn’t enough to really make “The Line Between” stand out.

The songs themselves aren’t too different from their studio counterparts, but Baroness make an effort to mix things up a bit for this live EP. Songs flow together with instrumental interludes between, sounding like one big consistent concert recording instead of segmented tracklists. Sporadic vocal variations are nice, but it’s not really the live environment the band is best on. For a small BBC performance EP, Live at Maida Vale: Studio 4 is okay, but we’re still awaiting that epic live album from one of modern metal’s most powerful bands.

Baroness aren’t really in their strongest element with Live at Maida Vale: Studio 4, but the music is still as well-composed and performed as you’d expect. The track selection is exceptional, displaying mainstream appeal, but not sacrificing the guts of the band’s sound. It’s a bit more subdued and isn’t as raw as hoped (we’re still awaiting that Baroness live album), but it’s a nice little sampler that will likely convince many to invest in Baroness’ more essential recordings.

REVIEW: Behemoth’s Return with “The Satanist” is God Damned Great

Make no mistake, this is not for pussies.  Sorry, it has to be said.  Don’t come to this altar expecting to play games, play poser, play Warped Tour shit.  This is real.  Real fucking god damn great.  From the opening of “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel” (I saw the virgin’s cunt spawning forth the snake/I witnessed tribes ov Judah reduced to ruin/I watched disciples twelve dissolved by flame/Looked down on son ov god snuffed in vain) Behemoth’s “The Satanist” lays the ground in blood and death and shows every ‘wanna be’ where they can take their candy asses.  As  Nergal, the driving force behind Behemoth since their inception in 1991 has stated, “The Satanist is magic. It’s dangerous. It’s adventurous, and it’s organic”.

“While instantly recognizable as the work of the Polish blackened death quartet it takes their sound in previously unimagined and riveting directions for their tenth record (press release)”.  The second track, “Furor Divinus” is brutal, multi-layered, and an in-your-face crushing mass of metal pounding that leaves one exhausted when the abrupt ending suddenly hits.  Leading right into the opening lyrics, “I believe in Satan,” of “Messe Noire” the punishment does not let up, but the tempo slows somewhat into ebbs and flows of carnal cacophony that blends richly to become visions from a haunting and hellish Gustave Doré piece. “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer” takes these themes (Conjure the serpent messenger/Saviour (order in) world’s decay/Concord in temptation, And in the fall of Eve) and builds higher upon the pyre, continuing with The Satanist’s subject matter, “I remember before we we had a record deal I was having a conversation with Baal, the band’s original drummer, and we said okay, if one day we manage to record an album and put it out how cool would it be to split up right after that? It would be one record and no more, and there was something about that that had an appeal, but y’know what, it doesn’t work like that for individuals like myself. Hunger has always driven me through life, and I can never sit in one place and relax for too long because I have the need to explore this whole universe in every possible way. Now, over two decades later it’s the same story. I can tell you I have no problems with finishing my career after this record. Just say the title itself: The Satanist. How the fuck am I gonna beat that title? It sounds like the ultimate definition of our art – but then again, I remember that conversation with Baal, and I know it doesn’t work like that, so I know there will probably be other incarnations of our artistic identity, one way or another. All I know is I love being here and now, and I just want to underline that I couldn’t be more proud and happy with my own music. It really drives me through the day, and now I just want to sit back and hear any and all opinions of it.”

The title of the record itself is undeniable in its power, and Nergal sees it as capturing the primal wisdom that the band have always tried to maintain. “To me it’s not pretentious at all. It’s very straight up, very sincere, and a devastating, conquering statement. There’s no compromise or bullshit or gimmicks. What I love about it is that it just speaks for itself. On one hand it’s a very black and white title: The Satanist is like a fucking nail through the hand of Jesus Christ, period. No more, no less. But then again, as with everything else you put a hundred people together and ask them what the name The Satanist means to them and you’re going to hear a hundred different opinions, which they can then discuss and fight over.”Likewise, Nergal views the lyrical content of the record as similarly open to interpretation, encouraging this. “There’s a lot of symbolism and reflections and impressions in there, and it’s using millions of metaphors to express a certain very sinister and very captivating atmosphere, but there are no answers. People always like to have a deeper insight into what we do, but that’s not what we want to give with this record. The way I see it is that between us we can make a huge fucking pyre and set the world on fire, but what we’re doing is just giving you the matches, giving you the spark, what you want to do with it is up to you. Personally, if I sat down with the lyrics in front of me I too would probably come up with a lot of different interpretations and concepts, it’s a never ending process, and that’s exciting to me.”  Take the tune “Amen”, how does one determine the clear dichotomy of the title and know what direction Negral wants the listener to go down?  It’s a great quagmire of thought and part of what makes the content so intriguing and part of why those afraid to encounter these thematics and wrestle with them are truly missing out on the point.  This continues on with tunes such as the title track “The Satanist”, “Ben Sahar”, “In The Absence of Light” and “O Father O Satan O Sun!” (an amazing and soul blistering track).  So, one must question, does listening to this music make one ‘a satanist’?  I will leave that to those with intelligence, take that for what you will, judge or do not judge at your discretion (DILLIGAF).  Bottom line is that Behemoth have created a masterpiece of metal here that puts up the challenge, throws down the gauntlet so to speak, for anyone to match or surpass the utter heaviness and outright bloodiness of this sonic soul waster.

It has been a rocky road leading to the realization of the album. Having dropped 2009’s Evangelion to almost universal critical acclaim they saw it top the chart in their native country and dramatically expand their following around the world, and playing some of the best shows of their lives the band seemed truly unstoppable. But, in August 2010 Nergal was diagnosed with leukemia, stopping them in their tracks. Forced to abandon their ongoing tour in support of Evangelion Nergal was hospitalized, and both he and Behemoth faced an uncertain future. With the search for a bone marrow donor ultimately successful Nergal underwent a transplant, leaving the hospital after six months and beginning down the long road to rehabilitation. “I knew I was pretty much fucked and there was a battle to be won, and I had no fucking idea if it was going to take six months or twelve months or maybe four years, because with cancer you never know. I learned from being in the hospital that there are things in life that you can control and things that you can’t control. The sooner you realize which is which it’s going to make your life so much easier, and since then I started to focus on the right things. I could be determined, I could have discipline, I could have faith, but everything else is not under my control, and it really was a case of just crossing fingers for the best possible outcome. I was fortunate enough that that recovery period was relatively fast, and that I was really strong and very determined to get back into shape made a real difference.”

Rather than immediately getting down to working on a new album, the band – also comprised of drummer Inferno, bassist Orion, and guitarist Seth – set out to complete the abandoned touring cycle for Evangelion, hitting the road for the aptly titled Phoenix Rising Tour. Wanting to prove they were stronger than ever the first show was the only time doubts crept into Nergal’s mind. “I was a fucking wreck, and I almost didn’t make it to the end of the set. The venue was really smoky, and that was stuffing my nose and my lungs, and physically I felt that I couldn’t pull it off. I did, but I was close to passing out on stage. I was literally shocked by this, I remember thinking while we were playing shit, what if I can’t do this anymore? I’m just a human being after all. Going into the next show I had no sleep because of all the nerves and anxiety, but it was fucking amazing. With every following show I would get stronger and stronger and grow more confident, and aware of the fact that yes, we will do this.”

Having returned to full force the band were ready to once more move forward, and they began work on what would become The Satanist. While many bands might be concerned with how to follow up a record as devastatingly powerful – and successful – as Evangelion Nergal faced no such doubts. “I don’t race myself, and I don’t need to prove anything to anyone. Evangelion was a very important record to us, and yes, it was very successful too, but in making The Satanist it wasn’t a point of beating that. The point was to do what was organic, and make a natural and honest and sincere album, and that’s it. Now the record is finished I like to think of it as an album that is just so different that you can’t really compare it to our previous works, which is the best outcome I could hope for.”One thing is inarguable, and that is the record is the most sonically rich and complex released under the Behemoth name. With layer upon layer of sound it has great sonic density, but there is intricacy to this, and nothing is forced or contrived. “I don’t have a kid but I think the process of raising one is comparable: you invest a lot of your energy and effort and wisdom and money and you educate them, but there’s never a one hundred percent guarantee he’s going to become a lawyer and not a serial killer. It’s the same story with the records – we supply the elements but we just don’t know how these elements mixed together are going to come out, and I think it’s fortunate that we don’t have one hundred percent control over it! It makes for something special.”

Five out of Five Metal hands up

 

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REVIEW: Slough Feg’s “Digital Resistance”

Celtic Folk and traditional metal are not exactly kindred spirits that one immediately conjures up when thinking of great mash-ups of musical genres.  Slough Feg, who’s name is derived from a character in ancient Irish mythology, originates from Central Pennsylvania and relocated to San Francisco in 1990 in hopes of resurrecting the ailing ‘true metal’ scene in the United States.  Think Jethro Tull channeled by a heavy dosing of Dio and maybe you have somewhat of an idea of what is going on here.  It’s not going to be everyone’s thing.  In fact, the band quickly gained a reputation as, ‘the band San Francisco loved to hate’ by taking a stand against the trends and incorporating stage savagery with strong visual imagery.

The band’s latest offering Digital Resistance was recorded with Justin Weis (who produced the album with vocalist/guitarist Mike Scalzi) at Trakworx in South San Francisco from January-October 2013 and marks the band’s first new studio album since 2010’s The Animal Spirits. When asked if the new album was a concept album, singer & vocalist Mike Scalzi explained that Digital Resistance is a concept album in the sense that The Beatles Sgt. Pepper is a concept album. “It has somewhat of a consistent lyrical theme that runs through several of the songs, but not every song— it is not a concept album in the sense that our Travelleralbum is.”

“Analogue Avengers/Bertrand Russel’s Sex Den” comes off as a pirate drinking song with metal guitar as the backing and definitely is acquired taste, yet it piques interest as to what will happen next.  “Digital Resistance” is a very well constructed song both lyrically and musically which highlights the talent of the band and is a real standout which makes the listener want to give it more of a go.  But, it’s an eclectic go at that and not one that feels very promising…

The story behind the album title Digital Resistance is an interesting one that touches on the topic of the digital age not only in terms of music, but how technology affects life itself.  “Most of the titles for this collection of songs were invented by friends of mine, just sitting around shooting the shit, without any intention of them being song titles. Just statements made, mostly in jest, about things gong on in the world, or in the Bay Area, at the current time. Digital Resistance is one of those phrases. A friend of mine said to another friend ‘you’re part of the digital resistance, aren’t you?’ while asking him if he still owned a VCR, or something. I thought it was catchy and funny, and summed up my attitude towards the current digital revolution. I used to like technology, and still do in a poetic/literary sense, but the reality of it is becoming quite frightening. This theme then expanded to the role of technology in human evolution, etc. I am a teacher, and I watch students’ mindsets changing on a yearly basis—let’s just say I can’t say they are becoming noticeably smarter, with the advent of all this technology at their fingertips.”  So, the concept definitely makes interest rise highly…keep going…

“Magic Hooligan” keeps the tempo up and the seventies epic rock story feel rolling.  A bit of a “The Who” feel on this one gives it a more commercial tone than some of their other offerings and may prove to be a stronger candidate to offer up to initiates.  But this is where I can no longer keep an open mind.  The musicianship is there, but, the seventies laden, epic heavy stuff is being done so much better by bands like Mastadon that to praise this as noteworthy would be a travesty.  There are some bright spots here and there but it’s not all that original, and it’s not all that interesting, which is a shame because the concept is cool.  So what does Mike hope the listener will walk away with after listening to Digital Resistance? “Hopefully just enjoyment, entertainment. Perhaps a little bit of a lesson about the dangers of technology’s tendency to sort of dumb us down when things become so easy. The more we indulge in technology and allow it to do everything for us, especially allowing it to think for us (as in the case of looking everything up on your phone or computer rather than trying to remember and retain information), the more physically and mentally “flabby” we become. So there is somewhat of an urgent message, or complaint about this increasingly human tendency.”

Digital Resistance is out in North America on February 18, 2014 and will see SLOUGH FEG on the road with a few West Coast shows scheduled in March with the guys’ “sister band” Bible of the Devil, from Chicago. The band is hoping to do a short tour of Europe in May/June, and then hopefully to Chicago in July to do the “Ale Horn of Power” Festival.

History: 
The band produced three demos in the early to mid nineties, which were followed up by a self-produced, self-titled debut CD released in 1996.

Scoring points for originality in the European underground, they aroused the interest of Dragonheart Records in 1998 and Twilight of the Idols was released in 1999 by the label. This was followed by the 2000 release of Down Among the Deadmen and Sci-Fi epic, Traveller, in 2003. In 2005 the band moved to the Italian label Cruz Del Sur and shortened their name to simply, SLOUGH FEG with the release of Atavism. 2007 brought the dawn of HARDWORLDER, and a slight change of direction to a ’70’s NWOBHM sound. 2008 saw the release of The Slay Stack Grows, a compilation containing over 30 tracks on 2CD’s, with Ape Uprising!(2009), The Animal Spirits (2010), and the live album Made in Poland(2011) rounding out the rest of the band’s catalog.

Enter January 2013: Slough Feg is signed by Metal Blade Records who re-released three of the band’s early albums that, until now, were only available as imports. Twilight of the Idols (1999), Down Among the Deadmen (2000), and Traveller (2003) were released as a 3CD box set and made available on their own digitally.

Keep up to date with SLOUGH FEG at the following locations:
https://www.facebook.com/sloughfegofficial
http://www.youtube.com/sloughfegofficial
https://twitter.com/slough_feg
http://sloughfeg.com/

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Review: CHRYSALIS’ Focus On The Center

Some may call them “veterans” of the Southern California rock and metal scene, while others may only just be discovering experimental hard rock group CHRYSALIS, who are back and ready- after a brief hiatus- to release their first musical offering in almost seven years.  With a vocal sound somewhat reminiscent of Coheed and Cambria in spots and then turning into more of the fare that younger Warped metal genre fans may appreciate, it’s almost impossible to truly pinpoint Chrysalis.

From the opening notes of “Sounds on the Playground” its pretty clear that there will be a representation various genres here.  Electronica, metal, rock, and in all of their various sub-genres, the band has a knack for combining these sounds in a pleasant way rather than a hodge podge cauldron of crap.  “Thoughts Behind” is not as strong as the opener, but shows potential.  “Instant Silence”, was released on December 21st to commemorate the one year anniversary of Jeff Davis’ passing (the former singer of Lindbergh Skies, who died of an overdose while Focus On The Center was being recorded. The band felt it essential to honor Jeff, as he was not only a close friend, but worked with Jesse to develop some of the vocals.  From here the tunes go right back to brutality and soft touch with “Ms. Me”, showing the duality and dichotomy that the band often seems to pursue on their efforts. “Tumbula” is a instrumental that will definitely get the blood pumping leading into “Saturn Waits” that is a bit more trippy due to the vocal effects, but is no less heavy hitting, and is an extremely solid tune that’s a bit less of the formulaic teen metal tinge that sometimes creeps into the Chrysalis sound.  “My Forsaken” wraps up the LP leading off with non clean vocals that is a nice contrast to some of the other songs and shows even more versatility.  Bottom line is that Chrysalis show great promise as well as veteran capability here.  Focus On The Center is a soundscape of brutal imagery and butchering guitar lines caressed by beautiful vocals and pounding rhythms that leave you breathless but diving in for more.

CHRYSALIS formed in Barstow, CA in 2003, with a current line-up of Jesse Elledge (vocals/guitar), Billy Norris (drums), Jared Sturgis (bass), Noel Castillo (keyboards), and Chris Norris (guitar). In 2006, CHRYSALISreleased a full-length, self-titled symphonic metal influenced album at the height of the emo and post-hardcore scene. The 2006 release not only charted as one of the top all time sellers in the Gothic Metal genre on CDbaby, but also found a rabid foreign audience as streams in Europe steadily increased.
This notoriety landed the band endorsement deals with Ed Stone Rockwear (once touted by Trivium, Lamb of God, etc.), Soultone Cymbals, and a licensing deal with Audiosocket Music. Carving out a niche following due to persistence and touring, CHRYSALIS eventually transcended the trends of their local scene and spread their music beyond Southern California.

In addition to heightened sales, CHRYSALIS earned a spot on the Vans Warped Tour in2009. Following the tour, the band shared the stage with the likes of Agent Orange, TSOL, A Day to Remember, Powerman 5000, Fear Before, Heavy Heavy Low Low, and The Apex Theory.

CHRYSALIS is:
Jesse “Yessi Burton” Elledge – Vocals, Guitars, Keys
Chris Norris – Guitars, Vocals
Noel Castillo – Keys/Synth
Jared Sturgis – Bass
Billy Norris – Drums

For more information on CHRYSALIS, please visit these websites:
www.ChrysalisBand.com
www.Facebook.com/ChrysalisBand
www.Twitter.com/ChrysalisBand
www.Youtube.com/ChrysalisMusic

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REVIEW: Easy Company release their rocking new EP Hello World

Easy Company, a modern rock outfit based out of New Jersey, pack a solid rock punch on their EP Hello World. While far from the much used first line of code used by computer programmers to test out or teach a new program (i.e. the hello world program), the title aptly fits the band state of affairs and intent on this EP nicely. As their website states, Easy Company “takes cues from favorite artists such as the Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, Kings of Leon, Arctic Monkeys and various modern and classic rock acts” and it shows. As a band, it seems Easy Company knows who they are, what they like, and how they want to sound and they aren’t afraid to show it. Their hello world, while not too far removed from the sounds of other band is refreshingly straight forward and honest.

The EP starts out rocking and keeps moving for the remainder. There are no lulls or dull moments, and there is a great deal of potential for future releases. They are stated as saying “hopes to help people remember that rock and roll, rock and roll shows and big drums and guitars still throw one hell of a party.” If their sound is indicative of the vibe at their shows, I’m it’s nothing but a good time and a solid sound with these guys.

So if you’re looking for good old, ass kicking rock and roll head on over to their Soundcloud and check out Easy Company. Also, be sure to check them out live if they stop by your town. From the looks of things they might be head south and all around the East Coast, so stop out and give them a chance.

REVIEW: Down Among the Dead Men Deliver an Energized Form of Death Metal

Bolt Thrower/Benediction vocalist Dave Ingram, along with Rogga Johansson and Dennis Blomberg from Paganizer are no strangers to death metal or even the idea of a side project. Ingram’s work in metal subgenres and even radio programming specifically show that he simply can’t escape the metal community (not that he’d want to). With more than a handful of metal ships sailing these days, the trio pioneer a fresh new project to further scratch that death metal itch. While it won’t set the world on fire and rarely changes itself up across its thirteen tracks, Down Among the Dead Men’s self-titled debut trims the fat from its bones, delivering a faster and overall better approach to the long-tread death metal genre.

Down Among the Dead Men is a mercilessly aggressive record. From start to finish, session drummer Erik R. Bevenrud produces a rapid, gatling gun fire of low-tuned drums, giving the album depth, while guitarists Dennis Blomberg and Rogga Johansson deliver incredibly heavy guitar rhythms, something straight from Messhugah or Fear Factory. Dave Ingram’s vocals are guttural and weighted, rarely differentiating in rhythm. The growls definitely signify the death metal standard, but they rarely achieve a complexity beyond the intense filler heard throughout the genre. It’s certainly a slam, but the layered approach of simply sitting atop such furious musicianship makes the vocals much less essential than they should be.

Down Among the Dead Men is brutal all the way through, but that is its biggest shortcoming. Despite the Messhugah-esque guitar rhythms and suffocating percussion, the album rarely deviates from its heaviness. While that’s nothing new for rhythmic metal, the number of standout moments is terribly miniscule. Melody is clearly not the focus, because aside from toned guitar solos in songs like “Bones of Contention” and “Venus Mantrap”, the album is weight first, pitch later. The band does remedy the single-note vibe by making the songs briefer than their peers do. With a punk rock pace and a blistering metal shade overhead, Down Among the Dead Men remedy the intensity by keeping their songs concise enough that they don’t blend together in a jumbled, single-piece mess. Out of all of the songs on the album, only one cracks three minutes, making the album much easier to digest than others in its genre. However, the lack of standout tracks still creeps along and the appeal is very singular by the final chord.

The rare instances of fully explicit virtuosity appear in songs like “A Handful of Dust”, whose amazing use of guitar groove is a breath of fresh air from the slamming, percussive riffs. “Adolescence of Time” also demonstrates some great guitar work from Blomberg and Johansson, and once again, “Venus Mantrap” stands tall. “Venus Mantrap” also possesses an exceptional blend of beat with guitar intricacy, where Bevenrud’s drums keep a steady pace reminiscent of heavy doom metal than the punk-infused death brew the band shows across the rest of the album. Sadly, these moments of differentiation are limited by the abundance of death metal fundamentals.

Down Among the Dead Men is sure to appeal to anyone who got hooked on Ingram and Johansson’s previous projects, but its rapid-fire percussion does bring a nice edge of thrashy punk to the mix. The rhythms are still the star of the show, with blistering drums and pounding guitar riffs. However, the intricacy is lacking, as Down Among the Dead Men extends its prowess well beyond the limits of its seams. It’s concise and furiously composed, which are still excellent qualities that set them above their peers, but it still drags on too long for a death metal album. All in all, Down Among the Dead Men may have its recurrent flaws and hesitance to stand out, but by trimming the songs down and keeping the rhythms on full view, it still manages to be a good debut that surpasses many of its peers in quality.

The Wild Family debut EP:Emerging indie folk rockers unveil a spellbinding, well-crafted EP that’s sure to please

Emerging indie folk rockers unveil a spellbinding, well-crafted EP that’s sure to please

At only 20 to 21-years-old, The Wild Family boys are generating a notably mature and effortless sound marked by soulful harmonies, poignant lyrics, and spotless instrumentals that sooth and entrance from start to finish. It’s the type of band worth rooting for; after playing music as kids growing up in the Chicago area, brothers Jake and Zack Schweitzer recruited extended-family members Graham Young and Kevin Koreman to complete the naturally talented group. They began writing songs in the dorms of Columbia College where The Wild Family was born, with Jake on vocals and guitar, Graham on lead guitar and vocals, Zack with backing vocals and bass guitar, and Kevin Koreman on drums. Five tracks later, The Wild Family has produced their debut self-titled EP to be released on February 4, 2014.

The opening song “Depths” is wistful and cathartic like a long walk on a vacant beach. The strength of each band member is evinced by soft, angelic vocals, a tight drum beat, and an electrifying guitar part which fades then builds unexpectedly. “White Shirt” will have you dancing for joy; it’s reminiscent of The Lumineers’ catchy tunes. Followed by “Gold,” then the haunting and memorable “Empty Promises,” and last, but certainly not least, the otherworldly “Granmarais,” this EP is a stellar introduction to a most promising young band.  I could easily continue to pile on the praise for The Wild Family, though I think once you listen you’ll know. Click the link below to check out their single “Empty Promises.”

https://wildfamilymusic.bandcamp.com/track/empty-promises-4

https://www.facebook.com/thewildfamily

 

And if you like what you hear, get ready for the band to tour the East Coast—Pittsburgh included—this upcoming summer. Can’t wait.

 

Written by: Valerie Wallach

REVIEW: Fallen Fate Leave Their Concept Hanging in New Album

Fallen Fate are one of the newer metal bands to appear after the new millennium began. The cavalcade of heavy metal bands from the UK meant that metal was once again empowered. The thrash world mixed death metal and punk for metalcore to rise, and Fallen Fate were ready to plow their way down the aisle and spread their dark, heavy tracks to the people. Into the Black is Fallen Fate’s latest, a concept album with a gothic edge. Sadly, despite a creepy concept, Fallen Fate rarely articulate their story coherently, leaving a stripped-down album that doesn’t rise or fall enough to be dynamic or interesting.

Into the Black is a concept album about Vespa, a young girl who denounced faith in God early in life. Over time, Vespa is possessed by a demonic presence, who takes control of her life and kills her family, ultimately killing Vespa. The concept is something ripped right from one of those modern exorcism movies that get released every year like The Conjuring or The Possession, and while Fallen Fate tend to go a bit deeper than the films that inspire Into the Black, the story is still loose and the music doesn’t do much to present that story in a very articulate or cinematic manner. The band also intentionally leaves the story untied. By not explicitly detailing what exactly is controlling Vespa, the band wants to leave the interpretation to the listener: as to whether Vespa is truly possessed by evil or if her affliction is a sort of divine punishment for not following a faithful life. While leaving an idea open to interpretation isn’t bad per se, announcing that debate within the concept takes a ton of that fun in digging deeper and understanding the concept away. It’s like a standup comedian having to explain why their joke is funny after telling it.

Musically, Fallen Fate stay true to the melodic death metal mantra established by contemporary metal bands like As I Lay Dying and Lamb of God: brutal, guttural vocals with thrash metal musicianship, and while that’s not necessarily bad, Into the Black is certain to leave something to be desired. Vocalist Lee Skinner produces rough vocals throughout the entire album, so it already has its share of limitations. Rough vocalists, due to their lack of melody, are reliant on rhythm to stay interesting and Skinner very rarely experiments with his delivery. The darker, more ominous background vocals in songs like “I Welcome the Dead” and closer “Vespa” are really the only places where the vocals keep things fresh. They add atmosphere and a sense of presence, like something is watching from afar, but they are rarely used and their impact doesn’t give the album much personality beyond their immediate location in the track.

The musicianship, sadly, stays within its own circle as well. The guitar solos crank up the energy on occasion, but to compliment the creepy-as-hell subject matter, speed and melodic creativity isn’t the name of the game. The heavy rhythm section and low-tuned melodies are clearly dark (which is appropriate for an album about religious/sacrilegious conflict). The gothic tones and church-choir atmosphere are nice as well; it’s just a shame that they can’t shine brighter alongside Piers Donno-Fuller’s guitars. And the guitars are really good. “Last Rites” and (once again) “Vespa” are amazing examples of Donno-Fuller’s axemanship. The blend of ascendant, almost angelic solos with the crunching and falling riffs signify Vespa’s push-pull story of good and evil. It’s here where Fallen Fate manage to really paint a picture and tell a story.

Into the Black is dark, and frankly, it should be. It’s a concept album about otherworldly possession, but a good concept album knows that music and story should be entwined. You are telling a story through your music. Fallen Fate have trouble telling that story: instead of some deep narrative, the constantly dark tone sounds more like a one-act play that goes much longer than it should. There are no striking moments, no left turns to speak of and nowhere to really get the guts of their narrative out in front. Virtuosity clearly has a place in modern thrash/metalcore, but it’s how that musicianship is organized that makes Into the Black so underwhelming. Fallen Fate try to tell a story, but Into the Black only provides a setting. A setting does not a story make.

Iconic Post-Rock outfit My Education to release a vinyl remaster of their debut album “5 Popes” on February 4th

In a genre like Post-Rock, where bands are about as divergent and vaguely dissimilar as genre descriptions themselves, it can be difficult for groups to gain momentum and notoriety. What’s more is a group’s ability to stand the test of time among the every-changing torrent of new music, even in the most obscure genres. My Education, it seems, has done just that. More than a decade after 5 Popes‘ original release on CD, My Education will soon celebrate the album’s inaugural vinyl pressing. The record has been completely remastered and also features two new mixes and a bonus track.

My Education has had quite a ride as ambassadors of the Texas post-rock scene. In a little over a decade the band has released a veritable arsenal of full length LPs, 7″s, compilations and appearances, original scores across a multitude of indie record labels. Over the years, the band has toured Europe once and the US numerous times, playing music festivals, performing live film scores that have moved people to tears and crafting a notorious live show that has led some folks to moments of life-altering epiphanies.


The album that started the whole journey for My Education was 5 Popes, released on CD via Ballyhoo Withdrawal and Thirty Ghosts Records. This album has left an undeniable mark on instrumental music. Rave reviews followed 5 Popes from its inception but one major request that came over the years was: “Do you have 5 Popes on vinyl?” This was a rare request back in the glory days of the CD but has taken on a new urgency in recent years. After a white-hot 2013 for My Education, the band has taken a look back at the album that started it all and is proud to be reissuing their debut with two all new mixes and a bonus track via Beat Imprint Records. This will mark the first time 5 Popes has been released on vinyl and the album has been remastered by the indefatigable Sean Seagler at811 Studios, unleashing new sonic delights. The artwork has been redesigned by My Education’s lighting/visuals/graphics wizard Skye Ashbrook, but retains the classic Eric Gibbons painting that graced the original cover.

All remains aesthetically on this reissue, which is an open, dynamic soundscape similar to that of Explosions in the Sky, Tortoise, or even elements of Mogwai. The new track, “Thanksgiving” is a shimmering gem that holds true to the integrity and aesthetic of the original album. A worthy addition, this track in addition to the new mixes is an enticing extra incentive for vinyl aficionados to pick up “5 Popes”. Anyone new to My Education but familiar with Post-Rock would definitely enjoy this reissue. Likewise, anyone new to Post-Rock that enjoys instrumental music. Do yourself a favor and not only check this album out but also the aforementioned bands in this paragraph. You won’t be disappointed.

The Austin, TX based post-rock group will be playing a hometown release show December 14 at Red 7 and the album will be released nationally February 4, 2014 via Beat Imprint.

Stream first single “Deep Cut”

Artist: My Education
Album: 5 Popes
Release Date: Feb 4, 2014
Label: Beat Imprint

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Review:Richie Aldente Band’s “Disco Baby” Like A Studio 54 Flashback

Endorsed by none other than Jason Mraz, Seattle’s Richie Aldente Band are redefining the sound of the Emerald City.  Like many of the best bands hip to the intelligent music consumer, RAB creates a fusion of dance beats, disco, yacht rock, and hip-hop to meld their own unique sound.  Richie’s debut, “For The Ladies” was a huge success and put them on the top of the heap in the Seattle club scene.  The video single of “Cougar Hunt” received 10K hits alone on YouTube.  Riding the wave of momentum, Aldente and his band hit the studio again to record “Disco Baby”, an 11 track party fest for your ears and your dancing soul filled with enough grooves to put you back in Studio 54.

Kicking off with “Take My Party Serious” the listener can easily visualize the scene unfolding, limbs grinding and glasses in the air.  The combination of opposing vocals works well here against the funk beat and sets the tone for  what is to follow.  “Lonely Dancer”  takes a shift into a more subtle dance beat that has shades of Joe Jackson era material and shows the diversity that Richie and his mates create.  But immediately that slower mix goes more to the contemporary pop-hip-hop mode with “Reverse Psychology”, a very eighties feel pop tune with some R&B peppered in and maybe some JT.    Other standouts on the LP include “Droptop” with the killer bassline and lyrics that take a shot at our technical age, the title track “Disco Baby” that starts a bit “Prince-esque” and then fades into more of Daft Punk’s “Lucky” vibe, and “1+2” that is definitely a full blown blast hitting the hips immediately, defying one not to dance… and if you don’t you have no funkin’ soul.

It comes down to this- the Richie Aldente Band is a fun-loving, hip swinging, dance jiving, genre blending, good time band that you will love to hear and see.  Check them out for yourself on their website and see what all the funk is about…http://richiealdente.com/music/disco-baby/

REVIEW: Scythia Deliver True Prog Metal Majesty

Canada’s Scythia have been pushing their snow-covered cavalry for nearly six years now, touring vigorously across the world and constantly aiming to find their comfort zone in the crowded realm of post-90’s progressive metal. It’s not easy; there are so many subgenres and styles to approach, but with their newest release, the band is finally coming into their own. 2014 is off to one hell of a start, because Scythia’s …Of Conquest is an album loaded from stem to stern with virtuosity, intensity and vision. Barely half a month into the new year and we’re already seeing something we’ll be talking about at year’s end. Scythia are a blistering example of progressive metal done right.

Scythia injects a strong shot of folklore influence into their progressive sound, and while that’s nothing too unusual for the genre, the emphasis on Dio-era power metal mythology is a remarkable shift. In fact, the band’s use of folk/power metal lyricism is a striking inclusion. “Sailor’s Accolade” draws plenty of inspiration from European history with the revving guitars of metal, but the upbeat “pirate” themes of seafaring Celtic songs. Lead vocalist Dave Khan is clearly educated in the work of bombastic metal mavens Iron Maiden, though his belting call does possess a trace of Axl Rose, with equal range, but cleaner delivery. In addition to Khan’s powerful singing, drummer Celine Derval also delivers some truly ascendant vocal performances, such as the amazing opening to “Reflections”, a simmering bit of balladry that erupts into a colossal blitz once Khan re-enters the fray. Even the storytelling “Land of Scythia” emits an aged vibe, one that commemorates a fallen fleet with an acoustic guitar line and Khan’s tremendous vocal chops before bursting into an epic climb. Each song tells a story, one built with exceptionally epic musicianship and, as heard in the stampeding “Army of the Bear”, plenty of charging battlecries.

A major problem spot with many progressive metal bands in this new age is that the progressive tends to usurp the metal. Very few bands are able to deliver something heavy and intense while also bringing something intricate and complex. Scythia dodge that pitfall masterfully; …Of Conquest is a very heavy album. Khan’s excellent guitar solos in songs like “Reflections” and “Into the Storm” are razor-sharp, but toned to pitch perfection, not unlike those heard in Iron Maiden or Judas Priest. Drummer Celine Derval’s drumming patterns are extremely adaptive (a key feature for progressive metal); beats shift very frequently throughout …Of Conquest, but Derval keeps pace without a second of hesitation, while delivering just as much heated rhythm as jazzy virtuosity. The same can be said of bassist Terry Savage, whose varied musical background allows him to keep tabs with both the melodic and rhythmic ends of Scythia’s spectrum. The album is heavy, but not in the sludgy sense of Mastodon or Baroness. Scythia are able to hone the claws of the Dream Theater side of progressive metal; it’s certainly majestic, but it’s also just as furious.

But Scythia’s strong grip on prog metal tradition is never ignored. In fact, it’s some of the strongest heard from the community in years. The dizzying keyboards of Jeff Black in the end of “Rise of the Kraken” take the jazzy jam feel of King Crimson and jack in a healthy dose of purely metal drum beats, courtesy of Derval. They don’t sound as heavy as Khan’s guitar, but their texture is a welcome inclusion, one that cools the impact of Derval and Savage’s slamming rhythms. The intricacy isn’t used as a crutch for pretentiousness either; Scythia stays very sensibly in classic power metal mythology and the ever evolving world of heavier progressive metal like Dream Theater. The 13-minute stampede of “Path Through the Labyrinth” constantly changes tempo and rhythm, and while it doesn’t reach the most epic of heights of prog rock/metal forefathers, it manages to stay interesting throughout, a feat that many other prog metal bands have failed to achieve.

…Of Conquest is an album rich with progressive and heavy metal fundamentals, but even more impressive is how much these fundamentals are tightened up. The compositions are majestic and epic, but amazingly heavy. The furious vocal charges into battles, the steady keyboard serenities, the hardened guitar solos, the massively versatile rhythm section; every single one of these elements fulfills the satiations of any prog metal album, but Scythia always go one step further. Scythia are a band with so much creativity and virtuosity in their bones that they give even the prog veterans from Europe a run for their money. Just a few weeks into 2014 and we already have an album that’s sure to reach some Top 10 lists by year’s end. …Of Conquest is simply spectacular.