Thursday, 19 December 2013

Albums of the year 2013!

On our Facebook you guys have been deciding your album of the year. This is my list of the top 10 albums this year. There have been some great albums and it has been really tough to decide on the number 1. I'd like to think there is a mix of genres on here, something for everyone so have a listen to the list and share your opinion.

Here we go:

10: Funeral For A Friend - Conduit

9: Drowning Pool - Resilience

8: Joe Satriani - Unstoppable Momentum

7: Stratovarius - Nemesis

6: Black Sabbath - 13 

5: Volbeat - Outlaw Gentleman Shady Ladies

4: Protest The Hero - Volition

3: Dream Theater - Dream Theater

2: Sacred Mother Tongue - Out of the Darkness

1: Alter Bridge - Fortress

An honourable mention has to go out to actor and singer Sir Christopher Lee. He followed up his symphonic concept album released in 2010 with another fantastic album released on his 91st birthday. Anyone in a heavy metal band at the age of 91 is a true legend, it is a good album too well worth a listen. Well done Sir, well done.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Order of Nine - Seventh Year of the Broken Mirror

Release Date: 22nd May 2012
Genre: Symphonic Power Metal, Heavy Metal.
Label: Nightmare Records
Number of Tracks: 11
Band Homepage: Order Of Nine

Overall Rating: 7.8/10

'Seventh Year of the Broken Mirror' is the 5th album from accomplished, Pennsylvanian metallers Order of Nine. Inspired by the likes of Iron Maiden, Dream Theatre and Symphony X, this diverse album is musically brilliant with great riffs, exquisite lead guitar playing and unique doom style vocals all of which will escalate Order of Nine to be up with the big names of this genre. 

The album is generally set at a slow tempo, but is certainly heavy and perhaps the most impressive aspect of all is the tight, harmonised lead guitars that feature in different ways in every song. Hell, all the guitars are phenomenally tight and well composed and the riffs in certain parts are muscular. Guitarists Steve Pollick and Mark Kreh are real assets to the 6 piece group. Michael Degrena's vocal style has similarities to Ozzy Osbourne and although it has it weak points where perhaps it doesn't fit with certain songs such as the chorus to 'Spiral Staircase', this is a rarity as it fits well with the slow tempo and riffing style and is unique to this genre. 

Keith Hurka's drums really mould well with the guitars and the diversity in the drums alone is fascinating. This is evident throughout the album, but 1 song sums up the drumming ability and that is track 6 'Innocence'. The intro to this song is heavy, probably the heaviest section of the album with tight drum fills and double bass carrying the song to a softer, almost psychedelic sound. Chris Dillion's powerful addition with the keyboard really adds to the emphatic feel to songs, track 8 a particular highlight of his work. Overall, a great musical set up.

There are many many good points in this album which i urge you to check out. The titular first track's keyboard breakdown/solo and guitar harmonised solo is very reminiscent of early Dream Theatre. After the intro to this song, it fades away into a clean section led by talented bassist Mark Howard. Even though this song features some screamed vocals in the chorus, the verse riff seems to lack thrust and imagination. However, this is made up for in the aforementioned solo section. Track 2 'Words That Were Said' moves like a bullet and offers us a sharp and short lived injection of pace. Again the intro riff is blistering as is the harmonised solo which is worthy of super shred status.

There is a lot of diversity on the album as track 3 'Dreamspeak' starts with a soft piano intro, unlike the other tracks, but it still has the 80s thrash theme. The verse does a great job of leading up to the  chorus which features fast double bass drums and a continuous symphonic feel. 

The lengthy track 5 'Changing of the Guard' is laden with musical excellence. Drums, guitar, keyboard and bass all prove how talented the band are and is one of the strongest tracks on the album. It's composure is excellent as it features a chunky riff, drums and keyboard and stay heavy up until just after a Godly solo, where it turns into an slow acoustic melody which builds to a guitar shred duel lasting another 3 minutes.

Track 8 'Eye of the Enemy' is the strongest track on the album and is a song you can really get connected too. The chord choice, particularly in the keyboard is spot on, and could not be any better. The song is constructed similarly to track 5 but the piano breakdown at 4:00 minutes is very emotive, and spectacularly is not out of place. The vocals after this are very Ozzy Osbourne esque. This builds to an appropriate guitar duel, that again, isn't overdone. 

There are few negatives, as songs like 'Twelfth Talisman', the verse sections to 'Third Wish', and 'Seventh Year of the Broken Mirror' seem to lack originality and are overshadowed by the excellence that surrounds them. In parts, the vocals are weak and sometimes do not fit the song such as track 11 'Winters Call', however this is a rarity as it was refreshing to hear a band try something new, and add something fresh to this genre.

Overall, this is mostly a fantastically well written, well composed and well produced album which shows the talents of every member of the band. The musicianship in parts is exceptional. A stand out fact is how much effort these guys have clearly put in, which doesn't go un-noticed. These are a unique and highly diversified group, one which I wish I had heard sooner. 

You can purchase the album off the bands webpage (link at the top) and I recommend that you do. They have a selection of songs off their discography on the Order Of Nine Reverbnation page, and their Facebook is frequently updated.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Gomorrah - To The Depths EP

Release Date: September 2013 
Genre: Metal, Thrash, Death
Label: Unsigned
Number of Tracks: 6

Sounds Like: Lamb of God, Sepultura.

Overall Rating: 7.0/10

Unsigned Ohio-based metal act Gomorrah have recently released their 'To the Depths' EP, a mixture of riffs and aggression neatly distilled into 6 tracks that demonstrates the band's sound, which is reminiscent of a less melodic pre-crusade Trivium mixed with a vaguely Lamb of God flavour. This is not to say that To The Depths is derivative, far from it.

It starts as it means to go on, and the titular opening track does a good job of painting the picture for the rest of the experience. As opening tracks go this isn't a bad effort, the opening riff is satisfyingly heavy and sets up the screaming vocal style nicely. The track demonstrates a real knowledge of how songs of this genre are put together, and it culminates in a genuinely great instrumental break before quite literally ending where it began.

Track 2, 'Chapel of Stilled Voices' starts off slightly up-tempo before kicking into a killer riff and just runs from there. Fairly similar vocal styles to the previous track and this is what can be expected for the duration. All in all an energetic addition to the EP.

Tribulations highlights a slightly different track than the previous two, and it's a refreshing change. This track is relentlessly straightforward, and features some really nice harmony work towards the middle. This track is a particular highlight and it shows a band that has energy and potential.


In contrast, Tempest fails to leave as big an impression because, despite starting off well, there is a section about 1:20 into the track where things feel really disjointed and forced and it spoils the track a little bit. It feels clumsy compared to the excellent musicianship displayed throughout. It's not a complete spoiler however, and the song picks up again after this and we're hit with a killer instrumental break (a recurring theme in this album) before the track rounds off.

Tracks five and six provide a satisfying conclusion to the EP. Colossus, track 5, has a really interesting riff and really reflects what we've seen already. It's a good listen but the track that stands out is track 6, Beneath the Falling Sun. This song takes all the potential glimpsed in the previous five tracks and combines it wonderfully. It's a brilliant ending track, combining high-tempo riffing, excellent drumming and good structure, before it descends into the absolute highlight of the track. The acoustic section and the solo that accompanies it is truly a wonderful contrast to the way the song starts. The acoustic section drops away to some more serious soloing. We're greeted then with a slower riff before kicking back off into a up-scale instrumental break. This section of the song serves to highlight Gommorah's tightness and is genuinely impressive.

This is a solid EP, however, there are some flaws. The EP really lacks dynamic variance. It's relentless to listen to from start to end and it's a shame because individually the tracks are good, but one after another it's very hard to really appreciate as a whole. The strange disjointed section is another downside, and while this is a one-off it's still a flaw. The other major gripe of this EP is that it is not especially varied. That's fine, in a sense, but it's always nice to hear variety and I think that is one thing To The Depths lacks.

The verdict: To The Depths is an excellent insight into a talented band. While not perfect, it features some great musicianship. Based on what this EP represents, Gomorrah are going to make some truly excellent music in the future, and if you are local to them then it may well be worth going to see their shows. Keep your eye on this band.  

Follow Gomorrah's ReverbNationYoutubeSoundcloud and Facebook accounts for updates on the band, tours and future releases.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Protest the Hero - Volition

Released: October 29th, 2013
Genre: Progressive, Metal

Sounds Like: Dillinger Escape Plan 

Label: Unsigned

Number of Tracks: 11

Overall Rating: 8/10

'Without a word uttered a comparison is drawn.' - track 1, Clarity. This sums up PtH. Fortress and Kezia were great albums, so when a new release comes out; there's your benchmark. Does Volition live up to the previous work? Almost. Yes. Sort of. It's hard to say, really. It's an unmistakably PtHesque album, but it is also something different, a genuine step forward. Protest the Hero have always been an interesting band. Technical and intricate, the diverse vocal styles and lyrical content of their previous works have differentiated them from similar bands. So how does Volition hold up against what we already know about PtH?
The album does not shy away from technicality, this is first truly evident during track 3 – Tilting Against Windmills. This track features the trademark impressive guitar work we've come accustomed to from PtH and similarly impressive and polished vocals and it makes a good snapshot of the album. It's interesting to consider that in style, each album is relatively similar but at the same time they carry their own unique feel. It's easy to differentiate Heretics & Killers, Sequoia Throne, Hair-Trigger and Plato's Tripartite, but each song is easily identifiable as Protest the Hero and it's just as easy to differentiate between each album. On that, Volition does manage to have it's own feel whilst keeping the quintessentially PtH sound that fans have become accustomed to. It would be hard to imagine a track like Drumhead Trial appearing on Scurrilous.

The lyrical themes of the album are diverse, arguably even more so than previously. You can't really talk about this without mentioning track 9 – Underbite, which is a song that calls into question the motivation of bands and the relationship between a band and their fan base becoming disillusioned and the video (which can be found underneath this paragraph, check it out – it's brilliant) pokes fun at merchandise and references lip-synching. This is a particular high on the album and stands up well, especially in context of the video.

One negative point is that there is almost no bass in this album. On Fortress in particular the bass is normally very noticeable and typically excellent, but on this album it seems held back far too much. It's not completely absent, indeed there are a few brief highlights in Clarity and the final track Skies, where the bass is indeed noticeable but for the most part it is woefully under-emphasised.

To conclude, Volition is a pretty solid effort. It is a step forward in the genre and for the band. If you liked PtH's previous works, then you will adore this album. If you haven't heard of the band before then this is probably as good a place as any to start when it comes to listening to them, it offers a lot to existing fans and new fans alike.

The album is available now, from the usual places. Check out their Facebook for updates on tours and other things related to the band. See also their Youtube for videos. Definately worth a look.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Drawn Awake - Reflection EP

Released: 24th January 2013
Genre: Melodic, Death metal
Sounds Like: Amon Amarth, Carcass, As I Lay Dying. 
Label: Unsigned
Number of Tracks: 4

Overall Rating: 7.5/10

'Drawn Awake' are a 4 piece melodic death metal band from Finland. Soon after their first EP release in 2012, they got to work on a new album for 2013 entitled 'Reflection EP' and features 4 high tempo songs with excellent melodic fast harmonised riffing, heavy double bass and screamed death metal vocals.

The death metal vocals aren't overpowering as it is heavily formulated around the guitar and instrumental parts, rightly so as the guitars are, in some parts , technically excellent.  

Highlights of the album include track 1 'Game In Reflection' which has a groovy blood pumping verse riff and a catchy chorus. Track 2 doesn't stand out for me and even though there are flashes of nice riffing, the lower tempo of the chorus seems to unnecessarily elongate the song. 

Track 3 'Reflection' is a fantastical music piece starting off with a soft piano riff which diverses the album away from high tempo screaming and is a nice addition. Track 4 'Identity' is a nice way to finish the album and some really tight technical guitar work similar to technical death metal band 'Neuraxis' and is a highlight and a great way to end an album as it leaves us intrigued and gives us a taste of the potential. 

The album starts to feel monotonous towards the end, as a lot of the songs sound the same. However, they do have a solid set of melodic death metal songs with which they are ready to explode on the metal circuit as Amon Amarth did in 1998. Currently hoping to play 30+ gigs around FInland and Estonia before recording a 3rd EP in April next year. 

Here is their Soundcloud of the full EP, and follow them on Drawn Awake for details of more shows and to buy their EP.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

David Locke, Sick Puppies, ZZ Top and Protest the Hero in Songs of the week!

Have you had a song in your head all week, Tapping along to the drums, air guitaring the riff (or real guitar) or singing along to the lyrics. Let us know here, we are interested in what you guys listen to! All songs welcome, big or small and of all genres, lets share some fucking music. Post in the comments, or on our Facebook!

This week has featured the announcement of a new Within Temptation album due in February, the announcement of Compressorhead a band involving purely robots built in Germany gigging in New York and a fantastic new progressive metal album from Protest The Hero. But here are a list of our favorite songs that have gotten us through the week.

Starting us off is a fantastic instrumental progressive ballad from David Locke. His first album 'Riding Out Youth' is well written and well produced. It is never in your face and is easily accessible yet progressive. A guitar style similar to Joe Satriani with considerable talent and great musical understanding.  

Sick Puppies are an Australian alternative hard rock, band with 4 full length albums. The latest of which was released in July of this year. When track 4 came on shuffle I couldn't get enough of the riff leading up to the aggressive solo and the intriguing lyrics made me stick it on repeat for a few days. These are a band that are under appreciated outside of their home soil, give them a listen!

Released October 29th, Protest The Hero's new album 'Violation'. Consisting of technical thrash and power metal, their new album certainly is a wild ride thats filled with excellent musicianship and innovative songwriting. The hilarious video to track 9 'Underbite' circulated this week and the lyrics are mainly about the state of metal at the moment. 'It's bullshit. Be honest, this can't be what you wanted/ if what you write about means anything to you. Rather than pure vanity, people might connect with sincerity.' 

You must have something you have thoroughly enjoyed this week! Tell us in the comments below!

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

David Locke - Riding Out Youth

Its always a pleasure when listening to a new album, when I happen across 
something that is different and interesting; David Locke's debut album, 'Riding Out Youth' is both. Locke combines progressive ideas with accomplished musicianship with a concept of how to put a song together, producing a complex and technical work that is also subtle and easy to listen to. 

This is an entirely self-produced album, however it is hard to differentiate from a major label release. There are some moments when a disparity in styles over different tracks detract slightly from the continuity of the record as an album and as an instrumental album it does, on very rare occasion, fade into the background.

The variety of this album is broad; from the titular opening track which hearkens to a combination of Dream Theater and King Crimson to the softer, more mellow track 8, 'Dreaming' which is more reminiscent of Flying in a Blue Dream, Riding Out Youth hits the more technical sides of prog, through blues to a softer more delicate sound.

Track 2, 'Code' stands out as something a little bit different. Starting off with a riff that really grinds, it then undergoes a syncopated metamorphosis with interesting uses of time signature and melody. It occasionally reverts to a recognisable 'chorus', before it moves again cascading along it's path and ending with a blazing guitar solo.

 Track 5, 'Thoughts' is another foray into the lighter side of this album and after the slightly darker piano track 'Untitled' it is a refreshingly bluesy track that builds in proportion as it progresses. In my opinion, this is one of the more simple but subtle tracks on the album, and features yet more accomplished guitar work towards the end.

After that softer interlude we are hit with Track 6 'Elements' which again harks back to earlier prog with it's atonal introduction. It's almost bipolar in construction for the first two and a half minutes, shifting from the atonal chord section to lucid melodies and back again before it seems to resolve its self.

To end up we have Mind Matter. This is a track that manages to be complex and technical without losing any of it's edge and approachability. As a final track, it works really well and acts as a satisfactory conclusion to proceedings.
There are one or two drawbacks to an album such as this. As stated previously, the variety of styles hinders the continuity of the flow of the album, and the drum tracks do lack character in places (although this is to be expected with programmed drums). My only other minor criticism is that instrumental albums in general can become background sometimes, although in the case of Riding Out Youth, this is not by any means a common occurrence.

To conclude, Riding Out Youth is a well written, well produced album. Locke is an accomplished guitarist and songwriter, who, as a guitarist is reminiscent of Joe Satriani. The album is never in your face over-technical, nor is it monotonous at any point. The subtlety of the musicianship is what makes this album better than good and it demonstrates considerable talent and musical understanding on Locke's part. To consider then that this is a debut makes it an even more impressive achievement and that is why I give this album 8.5/10

I highly recommend checking his Bandcamp page to get a sample and buy his album. Keep up to date through his Facebook and his website. He is a true musician and one that certainly should get recognition.

- Rob

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Sinheresy - Paint The World

Released: September 30th 2013
Genre: Gothic, Power Progressive Metal
Number of Tracks: 10
Record Label: BakerTeam Records
Sounds Like: Nightwish, Symphony X, Sirenia

Overall Rating: 8/10

Super talented female fronted band Sinheresy, have developed their own unique style of metal by mixing their influences from progressive metal bands such as Nightwish and Symphony X with the dark sound of Siriena and Within Temptation. Their first EP 'The Spiders and the Butterfly' received a positive reaction from fans and critics and they are now back with their first full length album 'Paint The World'

Their fresh new sound make Sinheresy standout with vocalists Cecilia Petrini and Stephen Sain often orchestrating vocal duels and melodies superbly, unlike anything we've heard before. Musically, they are very tight and they blend fast paced power riffs, with a typical symphonic rhythmic keyboard sound, expertly. They know when to slow it down at the right times, and tracks like 'Roses & Thorns' fits in well amongst the high tempo brilliance that surrounds it. This sound starts us off with first track 'Last Fall'. After the short cinematic intro, the pounding fast riff and drumming excellence from Alex Vescovi carries us through the diverse vocal duets faster than a bullet leaving a gun. This is an emphatic way to announce yourselves on the underground power prog scene.
You get the feeling that the band know exactly what they are doing musically and are technically excellent. Their songwriting knowledge throughout the multi-talented group is vast, and the album has a feel good factor about it. However, it could have been produced better as it is hard to hear the vocals in most parts, and the instrumentals overpower the vocals.

'The Gambler' and 'Made for Sin' is another example of fast paced pounding riffage, and the vocal harmonies continue to work well. Title track 'Paint The World' is slower in tempo but is probably the catchiest song on the album, and is vocally excellent for Ms Petrini. The album slows down towards the end, but by no means does it weaken. Highlights include the solo to track 9 'Elua's Gift' 

For fans of symphonic metal this album will not disappoint and is a fantastic starting point for Sinheresy, and joining at the front of the pack of female fronted power prog bands which are in short supply; we will be seeing a lot more from Sinheresy in the future. 

Planning on "Painting the world with our music" over 2014, which hopefully means some gigs in the UK and across europe! Keep your eyes on these, I can't wait to hear more from these guys!

Sinheresy Facebook
Sinheresy Youtube

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Trivium - Vengeance Falls

Released: 15th October 2013
Genre: MetalCore, Heavy Metal, Thrash Metal
Record Label: RoadRunner Records 
Number of Tracks: 10 (13 on Special Edition)                                                   

Overall Rating: 8/10

Trivium seem to have set a precedent; alternating exhilarating impressive releases such as 2005's Ascendancy and 2008's Shogun, with patchier works such as 2003's Ember To Inferno and 2011's In Waves. They have defined the Nu-Metal scene, where bands like Bullet for my Valentine and Avenged Sevenfold have shriveled up. With each album offering us something new, we were unsure as to what we were going to get with their 6th studio album - Vengeance Falls.


Vengeance Falls fails to scale the heights of their best work, but is certainly a positive metal track, with an impressive blend of melody, crunchy riffs, shred fests, and emphatic choruses. This is one of the strongest metalcore tracks out there. The production by David Draiman is fantastic, and you can hear every crisp element superbly. If you are after Matt Heafy's death metal vocals, you won't find them here as he bravely reserves the more aggressive vocals for the breakdowns in some songs, and adopts a fantastic clean melodic vocal which impress throughout the album. This seemed risky after what happened with The Crusade but working with Draiman, he has increased his vocal range which can be heard on track 10 'Wake (The End Is Nigh)'. 

Trivium set a high standard with tracks 1 and 3, 'Brave This Storm' and 'Strife'. These are classic anthemic melodic metalcore tracks, based around frantic riffing, weighty vocal melodies and charging solos. Track 3 'Strife' is a standout track, and was released as a single on August 20th. It starts off with a simple riff that gets heavier with every bar, and the build up with the drums creates a whirlwind of metal excellence. The verse slows down, increasing in tempo again before the chorus and Heafy's vocals stick with you all day; epitomised by a shred fest guitar duel before kicking into that killer chorus once more. I'm really impressed at how Heafy, Beaulieu and bassist Gregoletto all contribute vocally. 'Strife' is definitely the highlight of the album.

Being the title track to a Trivium album, you'd expect title track 'Vengeance Falls' to be emphatic and heavy. It isn't, and is largely a disappointment. It never seems to get going, is very basic and seems lazy. For me, it is a weak point on the album. Groovy track 5 'To Believe'  is another high performer. Fast paced, catchy and anthemic. It all builds to an euphoric outro, with lead shredding, Beaulieu screams, a bouncy riff and drums. Its a shame that the outro only lasted for half a minute. The next highlight 'Incineration: The Broken World' offers more melodic riffage, heavier vocals, but that solo; the duel is reminiscent of 'Like Fire to the Flies' or any other gem off Ascendancy. An absolute beauty and one of the best Trivium solos you will hear. 

Final track 'Wake (The End is Nigh)' is centred around the improved vocals of Matt Heafy. It starts out with a clean riff, and a beautiful vocal performance by Heafy, hitting low notes that I never knew existed, but they are fitting and suitable. His passion is evident and the lyrics are another highlight "With my hands around your throat/ That's the way I like you most/ When you're choking on the feelings rushing out/ Time won't open up its wings/ Let me fall from Grace/ And lend into the flames/ I don't want to feel this love go cold/ I don't know how you opened this light before'. It speeds up into another heavy melodic track, but is still very much vocal centred, until the outro when the solo takes over.

The rhythmic partnership of Gregoletto and drummer Augusto seems to be gelling well. Gregoletto is a classy and tasteful bassist, but is largely underpowered by the other instruments. Hints of his excellence and power can be seen on 'No Way To Heal' and a devilish intro to 'Villainy Thrives'. Augusto is a fantastic drummer and holds the rhythmic fort down solidly throughout. 

The special edition has an extra 3 tracks, which include the same melodic heavy riffage we hear throughout the normal edition, but also features an unexpected but reasonable cover of 'Skulls..We are 138' originally by Misfits. You are not missing anything if you don't get the special edition, but if you want more of the same then it is recommended. 

Overall, 'Vengeance Falls' is a good metalcore album. Some parts could have been improved, most notably the intro to 'No Way to Heal' and 'Vengeance Falls', but throughout the 10 tracks you get the feeling Trivium have matured as musicians. They have given a reason for fans to forgive them for 'The Crusade' as they are now leading the dwindling metalcore scene with a solid set of tracks, and even though it isn't their best work, it is still refreshing and glorious. 

End transmission.


Friday, 11 October 2013

Tool 2014 teaser! About fucking time.

Progressive metallers, Tool, have a track record of taking lengthy periods of time to work on new material; with five years grace between the release of 2001's 'Lateralus' and their last offering '10,000 days'. 7 years on, it looks like the wait for another release is coming to a close, with the bands lead singer, James Maynard Keenan, hinting at a 2014 release for the band's next studio album, as well as new material from his other projects, 'A Perfect Circle' and 'Puscifer'.

This was originally covered by in an article in which they also pointed to drummer, Danny Carey, stating in a previous interview with them that a new Tool album would be "Most likely... early 2014". Also, Keenan hinted further at a 2014 release, posting on Puscifer's Instagram account saying:

This is great news for fans of the band who are undoubtedly eager to hear new material after what is the longest period between albums to date. With information being scarce, we are reporting what we know; it will be interesting to see if the quality of the release equates to the time taken to create it. Let's not forget other long-anticipated wait between albums, most notably, the 15 year wait between 'The Spaghetti Incident' and  'Chinese Democracy' by Guns N' Roses. If you know of any longer waits then comment below!

As soon as more information is released we will let you know; here's hoping for a snippet off the new album, so watch this space!

What is your opinion on Tool's lengthy time frames for albums? Do you prefer a longer time between releases or are you keen on quicker releases? Let us know in the comments.

- Rob 2013

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Moscow - The Hell Fire EP

Released: Friday 4th October
Genre: Post Punk, Industrial, Grunge.
Record Label: Clandestine Records
Number of Tracks: 5

Sounds like: Joy Division, The Damned, Hints of Nine Inch Nails.

Overall Rating: 8/10

Hot off the press is Moscow’s first EP, full of punk class, industrial guitar tones, and raspy doom vocals. Moscow have raided small Midland venues, performing energetic gigs full of intensity. Songs off their first effort 'The Hell Fire EP'  have already featured on local BBC radio frequencies and the underground scene of Stoke, which were once home to Slash, are now home to a fresh, fast paced, energetic post punk band - Moscow.

The album starts as it means to go on and we are introduced to an invasive guitar riff, and thumping drum beat on the title track 'Down (Hell Fire)'. The song comes alive in in an excited chorus, in particular the vocal skill of Nic Andrews, whose aggressive deep, groovy tone adds the freshness and mixed with rhythmic skills of drummer Mark Powell and bassist Tom Bath all get you complete a solid heavy track.

Track 2 'The Night', is similar in structure in that it builds up to a ragged chorus. A highlight of this album is how this song is set up perfectly for a live show, as it peaks and troughs in all the right places, eventually erupting like hot lava forcing you to dance uncontrollably. The outro is as powerful as a volcano about to destroy a city and is as chaotic as trying to escape from one. 

'Don't look back' is more subtle, starting off with a simple guitar lick, but is carried forward with a smooth bass line. Backing vocals from guitarist Matt Hicks during the breakdown add something different. This song sounds a bit like a noughties punk band, until Andrews puts his heart and soul into the last line keeping the aggressive grunge tone to it.

‘Lizard Lords’ is a stand out track because of its structural genius. Catchy lyrics, dissonant guitar tones, pounding drum line and jazzy bass line make it the complete package and the perfect way to end a promising first EP getting you ready for more.

I recently had the chance to see these live at a quaint pub in Stoke, and the energy was electrifying. They played 7 songs, including 2 new ones off their second EP and the entire The Hell Fire EP. It is impossible to not have a good time, always guaranteed a cracking gig. The energy of this band is flowing throughout the entire EP and live shows, the band genuinely love their music and their passion is amok on stage. They are loud, unruly and front man Nic Andrews is unstoppable, fearless and unique. Everything you could want from a front-man. All they want you to do is dance, and they have all the songs and energy to make a sloth dance.

If you're a lover of live music, then keep your eyes on Moscow. They are planning a new EP for early 2014, and are always gigging around the Stoke, Manchester and Sheffield  'Like' their Facebook page below to keep up to date.

Moscow's EP is available to buy through their Bandcamp page
Photos courtesy of Chris Hollingworth Photography

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Alter Bridge - Fortress

Released: 30th September 2013
Genre: Hard Rock, Alternative metal
Record Label: Roadrunner Records
Number of Tracks: 12

Overall Rating: 9.5/10

The future of Alter Bridge was in considerable doubt after the 2010 release, ABIII. Founding member and guitarist Mark Tremonti turned his attention to his other band, Creed embarking on a tour, as well as releasing a solo album ‘All I Was’ (2012). Lead vocalist Myles Kennedy started a project with ‘Slash’ and ‘The Conspirators’, releasing ‘Apocalyptic Love’ and touring (2012). Drummer Scott Phillips joined a new band called ‘Projected’ with members from ‘Sevendust’ and ‘Submersed’. Despite all of this, they entered the studio in January 2013 and intermittently between tours with their respective projects, began recording Alter Bridge’s 4th studio album – Fortress.

Would they be able to produce another solid album like Blackbird, or would other projects get in the way? One thing is for sure, they have not skimped on this album, which has many different styles of music throughout the 12 tracks, varying from soft acoustic, hints of speed metal, and heavy metal. This is Alter Bridge's heaviest and most intense album yet, as they have put every effort into making a powerful, diverse set of well-constructed, thick-bodied, pounding tracks that are pleasing to any rock and metal fan. All these guys want to do, is rock hard and they want you to join in.

The album opens up beautifully with 'Cry of Achilles'. Kennedy with a finger picking Spanish style guitar lick, before the emphatic head banging riff and thudding drums kick in. A sense of warmth and comfort overwhelms you when you hear Myles Kennedy sing, and even though AB aren't as popular as Creed once was, they are still one of few rock bands that knows how to make a proper rock record. This song is a 6 minute musical phenomenon  and introduces us to an album which will please Alter Bridge fans in the fact that all the songs are pounding and heavy as opposed to the mix that we get on ‘One Day Remains’. 

'Addicted to Pain' was released as a single on August 12th 2013, the song moves like a bullet and has lyrical staying power as well as a jazz style solo. This song is probably the most impactful of any AB track for me. Kenndy's vocals are probably the best they have ever been, and are perfect throughout the album. He hits every note spot on and it never feels forced as well as putting so much emotion into his singing. Just listen to track 4 'Lover' for proof. It starts off acoustic and is lead by some of the best singing to be heard on a rock album. It is the only really soft song on the album. 'Waters Rising' has vocals lead superbly by Mark Tremonti. This song has a typical Alter Bridge feel to it, and that can only be a good thing. It is well constructed, the body of the song is built around Tremonti singing aggressively 'Don't Let me Drown' before a riff that seems to sound as if someone is thrashing about trying to gasp for air. 

'Farther Than The Sun' has a very dark guitar tone, and is one of the many heavy tracks on the album. This song is heavier than the Wrecking Ball Miley Cyrus is straddling naked in her new shitty video. The bridge and solo is so emphatic with fast guitar riffs and an even darker tone. 'All Ends Well' is not quite as memorable as the other songs, but has a typical Alter Bridge feel to it. Slow intro building up to feel epiphanous. Final track 'Fortress' clocks in at 7:36, blood pumping guitar duel type riffs, and great vocal harmony, it seems like Tremonti and Kennedy decided to have a guitar-off, but the song is brilliant and held together by some tight drumming by Scott Phillips.

Fortress is a sensational, solid Alter Bridge album, and will be loved by the older fans, and newer fans. You will need jaw re-alignment, change of pants and your ears checked as It features some of their best work specifically from Kennedy. Alter Bridge for me, are under-rated. They seem to be flying under the radar a bit. Fortress however, should keep their rock God status alive, and worthy of my highest overall rating yet.

Stand out tracks: 
Cry of Achilles
Addicted to Pain
Farther Than The Sun