REVIEW: AWOLNATION’s Limited Edition Deluxe release of Megalithic Symphony out November 19th

On October 29, 2013, AWOLNATION announced they will release a newly expanded 2-CD Limited Edition Deluxe package of their blockbuster debut album Megalithic Symphony on November 19, 2013 via Red Bull Records. The Megalithic Symphony Limited Edition Deluxe package features 32-tracks and couples the original studio album on disc one, with disc two containing rarities like the latest single THISKIDSNOTALRIGHT, Some Kind of Joke and Everybody’s Got A Secret; b-sides including I’ve Been Dreaming and fan-favorite MF; live tracks; and remixes by the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Borgore, Dan The Automator and Robert DeLong. The special boxed set bundle also includes an official AWOLNATION jacket patch as well as a limited edition AWOLNATION surf wax comb. Pre-orders for the package are now being taken at: http://smarturl.it/awoldeluxephysical and at iTunes.

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For any AWOLNATION fan, this newly released material will most certainly be worth a listen. It seems like every time you turn around, you hear Sail playing from just about everywhere. Fittingly, there are 5 remixes of Sail tailing the end of this reissue. Notably, there is a Sail remix from Dan the Automator (Gorillas, Handsome Boy Modeling School, Dr, Octagon) who has also recently released a new album as half of the Underground Hip-Hop duo Deltron 3030. Also, it seems like you can’t swing a dead cat around without hitting a Kendrick Lamar reference, so it comes as no surprise that he makes an appearance on one of the remixes as well. For those of a Dubstep tendency, the final remix on this album, the Unlimited Gravity Mix, should resonate fairly well.

Additionally the three new tracks kicking off Disc 2, THISKIDSNOTALRIGHT, Some Kind of Joke and Everybody’s Got A Secret are also worth a listen. The opener, THISKIDSNOTALRIGHT, is a solid upbeat track that fits right into the musical wheelhouse the boys from LA established on their first album. Next, Some Kind Of Joke brings the band into electro pop rock waters that sound almost a bit MGMT-ish, yet maintain their own individual personality. Everybody’s Got A Secret starts on the quieter side, but steadily builds into a solid rocker by the end. There are also a few live tracks, including MF and Soul Wars, as well as a number of additional remixes (People, Burn It Down, and Jump On My Shoulders).

Originally released in March 2011, Megalithic Symphony has held a number of long-running, major Billboard chart positions including 120 weeks on Billboard 200 and 46 weeks on Heatseekers Albums Chart – hitting #1 seven separate times in 2012. The album is certified gold in Canada and is well on its way to gold certified sales of 500,000 in the U.S. AWOLNATION recently wrapped an extensive two-year world tour in support of Megalithic Symphony and are now in the studio to begin work on the highly anticipated follow up full-length album slated for release in 2014.

For more information visit AWOLNATION online: www.AWOLNATIONmusic.com

The Nation: http://nation.awolnationmusic.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/awolnation

YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/awolnation

Red Bull Records: http://www.redbullrecords.com

“Get Scared” Proving that Rock and Roll isn’t dead.

Get Scared, an American rock band from Layton, Utah released their new album “Everyone’s out to get me” on November 12th; and it’s exactly what fans were hoping for after Get Scared first fantastic studio album “Best Kind of Mess”. With it being the band’s first studio album since being signed to Fearless Records, many fans weren’t sure what to expect, but I’m happy to report this album is fantastic. The overall sound of the album is something that fans of Escape the Fate, My Chemical Romance, and Vampires Everywhere would be fond of. The first song “Told Ya So” kicks the album off right, instantly throwing stunning guitars and vocals at the listener and keeping them hooked for the rest of the album. But in my personal opinion the song “My Nightmare” takes the number one spot on this album. The way that the song comes together verse after verse is astounding and will keep it on repeat for hours. The song almost even has a My Chemical Romance/Panic at the Disco feeling to it which will please an enormous amount of listeners while still being unmistakably a Get Scared song. Other favorites off of this album would have to be “Badly Broken”, “Get Out While You Can”, and “Stumbling in Your Footsteps”.

Get Scared stated in the song “For You” that “I don’t know, but I’ve been told that rock and roll is dead” if there’s one thing that this album proves is exactly the opposite. Do yourself a favor and pick yourself up a copy at Best Buy, FYE, or on ITunes; you won’t regret it.

Check them out with The Word Alive, I See Stars, and Crown the Empire on the “We Started at the Bottom Now We’re Here” Tour coming to the Crocodile Rock in Allentown PA on the 16th. croc rock

REVIEW: Xiu Xiu’s compelling tribute album NINA provides new perspective on a jazz legend

So what can be said of a group, led by the ever prolific Jamie Stewart, named Xiu Xiu doing a cover album of one of the most influential, stand out female jazz vocalist of all time, namely Nina Simone? Let me tell you, while a dark, experimental avant-pop group like Xiu Xiu (pronounced shoo-shoo, or more accurately something more akin to shiow shiow in Mandarin) is definitely NOT everybody’s cup of tea, a great deal most certainly can be said for the courage and vision it took for this group to completely re-imagine these songs while still paying sincere homage to the late jazz legend Simone. And remarkably, even though jazz purists might be put off by an album of this nature, Xiu Xiu (who are in no way a jazz standards band) were able to pull off using this group of jazz songs to make what can only be described as a Xiu Xiu album. And if this means nothing to you, let me explain.

To start, the album is sonically constructed of mostly traditional instruments, highlighting horns, guitar and keys. Many times the arrangements sound fairly close to a traditional jazz sound, but there is a definitive twinge of the avant-garde that builds to unstructured eruptions throughout a number of the pieces. Think Ornette Coleman doing backup for Tom Waits. The percussion is sparse and minimal, at times being little more than an occasional click or steady chop. And then there are the vocals. Being a tribute to a jazz vocalist, the spotlight and driving force of this album is the vocal delivery. Objectively, the sound of the vocals can be described as deep and breathy, whispered and quivering, as if sung by someone on the edge, lovesick and broken. But it gets deeper. It sounds as if Stewart has conjured the dark brooding essence of the powerful sacred feminine that is present on the perimeter of all of Nina Simone’s works. At times he sounds as if he is not just channeling this energy into these songs but even casting a wicked spell, damning the ones who have betrayed and degraded women throughout time. This is a musical journey into a dark and foreign land, riddled with many strange and unexpected sights.

While it can be off-putting and quite challenging for the uninitiated, there is much reward for opening up to this music. Stewart and long-time collaborator Ches Smith — “the only person I know who could understand this in his heart and also handle the technical side of fearlessly reorienting such wonderful music” — bring Simone into focus through their own avant-dark lens. “The idea came being back stage in Austin TX, opening for Swans and feeling like I did not play well,” Stewart explains. The night before, he and Swans’ Michael Gira had discussed Simone, their love both for her talent as a musician and her fearlessness as a civil rights activist, and how Simone inspired them to make better work. Feeling down on himself, yet inspired both by the memory of Simone and the “epic and beautiful persistence” of Gira and Swans, Stewart decided to honor Simone and challenge himself in making NINA.

To that end, NINA was recorded in just one day, all in first or second takes. In doing so, Stewart captured the immediacy of the feelings that inspired the record, but it was also a practical decision. Stewart is a busy man. In the next year alone he has a new full-length Xiu Xiu record coming out, along with other planned releases, and an event with conceptual artist Danh Vo at Milwaukee’s Walker Arts Center in October. Last month, he wrapped up another performance, “Dark Materials,” with visual artist Monika Grzymala and choreographer Jeremy Wade at Hamburg’s Internationales Sommerfestival and he’s also been busy touring with Swans and working with Eugene Robinson from Oxbow on their side project, Sal Mineo.

So is this album worth a listen? Well, let me put it to you this way: is conceptual visual art worth looking at or trying to understand? While it is not mainstream or accessible in the way that say a work by Van Gogh or Picasso might be, if viewed through the right lens or personal perspective it can potentially be deeply impacting and meaningful. In fact, much of what is considered “mainstream” in art today and can be seen on everything from coffee mugs to postcards and calendars, was at one time considered cutting edge and quite avant-garde. The same applies with this album and style of music as a whole. It can be difficult and challenging, but ultimately very unpredictable and rewarding if given a chance.

NINA will be released on December 3, 2013 on Graveface Records

CREDITS:

JAMIE STEWART: VOCALS
CHES SMITH: DRUMS, ARRANGEMENTS
TIM BERNE: ALTO SAX, BARI SAX
TONY MALABY: TENOR SAX
MARY HALVORSON: GUITAR
ANDREA PARKINS: ACCORDION, PIANO, MOOG, ELECTRONICS

REVIEW: Swedish Metal act In Solitude release the darkness on their new album “Sister”

On In Solitude’s latest release on Metal Blade Records, “Sister”, the Swedish retro-metal act has created an eclectic group of songs that stay focused in a style and sound while still coloring outside of the lines.  As the Goth-Rock and Post-Punk-esqe opening track “He Comes” winds on, you get a sense of the way the rest of the album will sound and progress. There is a dark, barren atmosphere of despair present in this opening number that seems to be setting the tone for the rest of the album. While this first track certainly does set the tone, it isn’t until the relentless “Death Knows Where” punches you in the face that you realize that In Solitude will not only take you into the dismal depths of darkness, but that they’re going to beat your ass once you get there.

Upon recording the album, the band was quoted saying: “It’s time to release our third album, and things have never felt this clear and pervasive before. This is a feeling that has permeated our whole lives during the latest year of writing and recording this album, as well as digesting and dealing with its consequences. And it has been wonderful, overwhelming and utterly devastating.” Wonderful, overwhelming and utterly devastating seem to ring fairly true for the sound of this new album as well. There is a wonderfully crafted musical precision that is counter balanced with atmospherically dark grittiness, resulting in something engaging and unpredictable.

As the album progresses, In Solitude bring you further into their heavy metal world with moods that range from Mercyful Fate-esque guitar flavors, shadows of Black Sabbath, the heavy dissonance of Swans, to straight-forward, ear worm riffs not unlike their Swedish peers, Ghost. Not to mention the vocal quality and delivery of singer Pelle Åhman. At times almost demonically chanting in reverb while at others driving and pervasive, Ahman possesses a certain tone of filth and desperation not too far removed from Birthday Party era Nick Cave. In any case, one thing can be said for certain: their delivery is as genuine as it is impressive.


“Sister” was recorded at Studio Cobra in Stockholm, Sweden during March 2013. The album was produced and mixed by Martin “Konie” Ehrencrona and stands as a logical next step above and beyond its predecessor, “The World.The Flesh.The Devil.” In Solitude’s strength resides in their ability to craft dark and oppressive atmospheres within the auditory realm of classic heavy metal. The album concludes with an 8-minute, driving, near trance-like opus that features guest guitarist Pelle Forsberg (Watain).

IN SOLITUDE signed a worldwide deal with Metal Blade Records in 2010. This is also the year that Henrik Palm, vocalist and guitarist for the heavy punkers Sonic Ritual, passed the trials by fire and thus a new fury rose within the horde. The cultivation of a new sound nears perfection; one that bears the dynamic powers of youth and the embittered wisdom of the ages.

In November 2010, the horde entered Nicke Anderson’s (HELLACOPTERS) brand new studio Gutterview Recorders in Stockholm, Sweden with producer Fred Estby (DISMEMBER, DEATH BREATH) to record the band’s sophomore record, which was released in the Spring of 2011. The World.The Flesh.The Devil was released to worldwide praise from press and fans alike and landed at the #4 spot on Decibel Magazine’s Top 40 Extreme Albums of 2011. Additional accolades were heaped onto the album from Terrorizer Magazine, who called the album”finely crafted, occult-oriented, melodic heavy metal of the highest order”, as well as Guitar World Magazine who claim that “On their sophomore album, Sweden’s retro-minded metallers In Solitude summon the dark essence of Mercyful Fate and the two-guitar attack of Iron Maiden. Guitarists Niklas Lindstrom and Henrik Palm’s heavy riffing and tasty harmonies propel this head-banging disc.” Two years of touring in support of The World.The Flesh.The Devil has earned the band a global fan base. Fans have seen the band on tour on a myriad of European festivals, in the UK with Amon Amarth, as well as in North America as a part of the Decibel Magazine Tour, as well as on tour with metal legends, Down. 2013 and beyond will see continued growth of one of metal’s best newcomers.

Pelle Åhman- Vocals
Niklas Lindström – Electric Guitar
Henrik Palm – Electric Guitar
Gottfrid Åhman – Electric Bass Guitar
Uno Bruniusson – Drums

REVIEW: New metal comp from Sly Productionz brings the variety

The new compilation from the Chicago based Sly Productionz titled “Sly Productionz Volume 1” brings a variety of emerging metal bands into focus. This first release from Sly Productionz hosts a wide range of acts, totaling at 17 tracks from 17 different acts. The tone of a lot of this album treads into the Alternative and Heavy Metal waters, but there are also some Thrash Metal and Metalcore tracks as well.

Some of the highlights of this comp are the tracks from Fist To The Sky, Like A Storm, Psychotic Daze, Punch Cabbie, and Emergent. The album opens with a Trash Metal piece from Fist To The Sky the blast away at full tilt the whole track through. Like A Storm takes the second track into Alt Metal territory with accessible lyrics and an impressively technical and industrial tinged breakdown towards the end. Psychotic Daze keep things moving with their riff laden speed metal track “Ride This Bullet Home”. Punch Cabbie brings the Metalcore mayhem to light with their heavy and vocally System of a Down-esque contribution “Revenant”. Wrapping things up are two dirt-rocking, grooving tracks from the bands Hollywood Dirtbags and Hot Dang!, which create a very interesting bookend to the rest of the sound and feel of the compilation.

In all, this is a solid preliminary release from Sly Productionz. It shows a lot of potential for future recordings from the artists included, as well as new artists to come.

Sly Productionz Volume 1

Artists:

Fist to the Sky | www.fisttothesky.com
Like A Storm | www.likeastorm.com
Forever Waiting | www.foreverwaitingmusic.com
Three Years Hollow | www.threeyearshollow.com
Psychopathic Daze |facebook.com/psychopathicdaze
Two Ton Anvil | www.twotonanvil.com
She Loves Seven | www.shelovesseven.com
Dead Ringers | facebook.com/DeadRingersMusic
Left Of Reason | www.leftofreason.com
Unhinged |  www.reverbnation.com/unhingedrocks
Gone For Days |  www.gonefordays.com
Punch Cabbie facebook.com/punchcabbie
Age of Ares | facebook.com/AgeofAres
Emergent facebook.com/emergentmn
Sudden Dark | www.suddendark.com
Hollywood Dirtbags | facebook.com/thehollywooddirtbags
Hot Dang! | www.hotdangchicago.com

Lord Dying to release debut album “Summon the Faithless” 7/9/13

Savage, crunching, galloping guitars and unforgiving powerhouse drumming underlay a hellish sludge-fest of an upcoming debut record by Portland, Oregon metal band Lord Dying. The album is entitled, “Summon the Faithless,” and will be released on Relapse Records July 9th, 2013. Prepare to have your brain blasted into oblivion. Old progressive proto-metal like Black Sabbath meets the tighter, meaner thrash and death metal of latter years in a blend that’s like God’s own jackhammer.

These guys do not fool around with their conjuring up of intriguing song titles. These include: “Perverse Osmosis,” “Descend into External,” and my personal favorite, “What is Not…Is.” Clearly, though new to the professional recording business, Lord Dying is not a band of slouches in any respect, neither as musicians or song title philosophers. At first the song names made me laugh, then they got me thinking, and now I’m laughing again… but it is a laughter of acceptance, laughter like a horseman of the apocalypse riding on a sky-covering wave of fire from heaven, mace in hand, ready to show no mercy to the cowering world below.

Yes, biblical end-of-days are called to mind upon listening to “Summon the Faithless.” Also maybe knight or viking battles, or a tyrannosaurus stampede. You catch my colossal drift. Definitely not an album for the hungover or sleepy.

In spite of their mammoth, bone crunching sound, Lord Dying isn’t afraid of releasing photos of themselves standing around a Foosball table in a tiny, somewhat cluttered backyard. I respect that. Also, the upcoming album cover is pretty righteous: that wrinkly, saber-tongued skeleton demon with the hourglass gives Iron Maiden’s Eddie a run for his money in the intimidation department. I would love to see a fight between the two. I feel like Eddie would have more physical strength but the Lord Dying demon could cast some evil spell and end the bout whenever he pleased.

The album is as cold-blooded and heavy as the skull-moon on its cover. It is, to quote the band, straight from his majesty Dying’s mouth, “…an offering of pummeling riffs and all things metal…so crack a brew, bang your head and enjoy.” At the very end of the record, “What is Not…Is” disintegrates into a seemingly endless pit of noise. It’s like you’re  falling into hell but it’s actually enjoyable, because somehow you’ve lucked out and been given a set of fireproof scales and wings and demon officer status, so although you’re hurtling down past jagged rock walls and into a pit of flames, it’s exactly where you want to be going.

Lucky Number 7: Trinakrius Explore the Seven Deadly Sins on Newest Album

Italian metal group Trinakrius has undergone a huge amount of changes since their inception in 1995. From lineup to label changes, the band has seen its shares of departures and arrivals, all while adapting to many different shifts in the metal atmosphere. It’s been a bumpy ride for the group, but their newest album Seven Songs of Seven Sins, doesn’t stand in a specific zone of metal. Trinakrius has proven their love for both the sludgy darkness of Black Sabbath and the faster speed metal of Judas Priest, which is a combination that could have been misguided and polarizing among the metal community.

Fortunately, the two influences don’t conflict, instead appearing right where either of them are required. Combining the weight of Black Sabbath with the speed of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal isn’t easy, as they are very different animals. Trinakrius are an ambitious group of musicians to mix both, and while some of the songs lack the tight focus of their influences, Seven Songs of Seven Sins offers a considerable amount of variety along with a broodingly dark atmosphere that echoes the greats of black metal like Opeth.

For an album based around the seven deadly sins, Trinakrius doesn’t do too much with the concept. There aren’t many cases with the lyrics where you can see the band stepping outside of an established template. It’s a brilliant topic that feels fit for both power and doom metal. However, the execution on “Seven Songs…” feels like a missed opportunity. There are some very inventive ideas on the album: “Sloth…” for example is drawn out, sluggish and heavy. “Lust…” is faster, more intense, and energized. This match-up between subject matter and sound is where the entire concept feels at home, but despite the band’s stellar compositions and musicianship, the concept feels wasted among many of the other erratic songs on the album.

While Trinakrius’ implementation of the “seven deadly sins” concept is a bit underwhelming, the musicianship itself is tight and atmospheric. Vocalist Fabio Sparacello mixes the ascendant banshee wails of Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson and Judas Priest’s Rob Halford, while guitarist Emanuele “Izzy” Bonura’s versatile axe work takes both the slow and fast roads without misstep. The implementation of keyboards from Alessio Romeo is where the ethereal elegance can show, even when Bonura lays down the hammer with earth-shaking guitar riffs. The band even takes cues from modern day thrash, shown clearly in the revving opening (and later guitar solo) to “Greed (All Mine).” It’s clear that Trinakrius have worked through a number of different metal eras; they’ve seen it all, and as a result, they aren’t afraid to try it all.

Trinakrius’ slight hindrance at the construction of narrative and concept in their music is disappointing, but Seven Songs of Seven Sins still demonstrates a tight anthological tome of all styles metal. You’ll find the slower and darker Black Sabbath influences wide awake with the Judas Priest-influenced guitar solos and Sparacello’s magnificent crow of a metal voice. How each composition fits into the grander tapestry of the album is where there is untapped potential. The album doesn’t feel entirely complete in that regard. If you can ignore the messily implemented concept, you’ll find some fantastic musicianship on Seven Songs of Seven Sins, some that could even rival the genre’s influential forefathers.