Sunday, 25 August 2013

Avenged Sevenfold - Hail to the King

Released: 26th August 2013
Genre: Hard Rock, Classic Rock.
Label: Warner Bros. Records
Number of Tracks: 10

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

After reading about their history, recent interviews and press releases it is clear that Avenged Sevenfold have 1 clear aim. That is for world domination. They want to be the Black Sabbath or Metallica of their time, and according to the Californian metallers no one has yet risen up to the bar set by Sabbath or Metallica. They are a band not short of ambition but their last 2 albums were undeniably patchy and understandably unfocused, with Nightmare held as a homage to the late Jimmy 'The Rev' Sullivan. Now, after a break, the next chapter unfolds in their attempt at world domination with new drummer Arin Ilejay and their 6th studio album, Hail to the King.

Hail has typically eerie riffs and dynamic moments which Metallica lawyers might consider a little cheeky. This is in no way similar to any of their previous albums. They have signified a new desire to build tracks differently by focusing on atmospherics and feeling big, without overdoing it. Pantera, Sabbath and Guns and Roses style riffs all feature on muscular set of songs which hurl A7X back on the metal scene. 

'Shepherd of Fire' starts us off in typically eerie fashion similar to Black Sabbaths Eponymous album opener, but then it hits you. Hits you like a wall of noise with each element ricocheting inside your head, an explosion of emphatic sound as if to say 'WE ARE FUCKING BACK'. An ear splitting and mature solo from Synyster Gates then breaks down into that devilish intro riff building up to that brilliant chorus.

Title track 'Hail to the King' perfectly embodies this new Avenged Sevenfold chapter. High pitched main guitar riff which is held together with pounding drums and rhythm  Thick layers of electric guitar from Gates and Vengeance and the visceral vocal attack from M. Shadows combine spectacularly throughout the catchy chorus. 

'Doing Time' moves like a bullet and is a bridge between their heavier past and their new direction. M Shadows delivering a snarling refrain and screamed vocals are an unexpected feature. 'This means War' has a riff the size of Belgium, full of metal chunk and sleaze, held down my some classy tight drumming by Arin Ilejay. This is followed my 'Requiem', which has some weird latin chanting but then there is noise everywhere. Almost like the old Avenged, but more mature and chunky. For me, this is the weakest track on the album, but still a decent song.

'Crimson Day' is one for the Metallica fans and is more heartfelt and full of love, than the later tracks on Nightmare. Drums and distortion eventually take over, but this is still a lighter song and the solo is so fitting and suitable, just phenomenal. 'Heretic' is number 7, and the drums and beefy distortion are back. Johnny Christ leads this one with a pulsing bass line and the drums continue the heat. Insane sweeping solos also maintain a link to their past. 'Coming Home' starts off slow, but builds up to be one of the strongest tracks on the album even if it is Maiden-heavy. 

'Planets' is devilishly excellent, and they have continued the excellent crunchy riffing right to the end. The double bass drumming is excellent, and the vocal melodies again are really catchy, with harmonising break downs. The emphatic album ends with a near 7 minute instrumental, 'Acid Rain'. This song could easily be a James Bond movie theme. Maybe Avenged felt they needed another song like A Little Piece of Heaven but perhaps lacked a little creativity although lets not take nothing away.

The classic rock comparisons are clear, but it is Avenged Sevenfold's next big step on a new path. It is less over the top and more mature and suitable, particularly from Synyster Gates. Arin Ilejay's debut drumming performance is modest, but he manages to create a hellish atmosphere. It might not be what you expect in certain places, but Avenged Sevenfold have not parted with their old roots, and have grown into a band suitable of metal greatness.

There is an easy chance to WIN a copy of Hail the the King on Metal Music Album Reviews Facebook. 

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Tendead - Return of the Ancient

Released: 21st December 2012
Genre: Stoner Rock, Sludge Metal, Doom Metal
Label: Unsigned
Number of Tracks: 9
Sounds Like: Corrosion of Conformity, Down, Old Black Sabbath.

Overall Rating: 6/10.

Tendead return with their 2nd album since their formation in 2006 with new album 'Return of the Ancient'.

The album consists of dense, mid tempo tracks that give off a feeling of invasive evil that attacks you from all angles and leaves you battered and bruised. The vocals fit perfectly with the down tuned guitar and bass and with the odd melody to mix things up and the whole concept works well together. The guitars are impressively clear but brutal, the vocals are aggressive but audible and Christina Siebels holding down the rhythmic drum fort in classic sludge style. Even though the band have the basics of a sludge album, they seem to lack gravitas and they could perhaps add a little more to make the tracks more interesting. 

There are some mosh stomping riffs in the album, such as Government, Nephilim, What is a Lie and System Breakdown. 2nd track Return of the Ancient starts off with a spine tingling intro which builds to a satanic style doom riff, which leads nicely into the 3rd track Eyes of the Son. 4th track Out Truth has some nice melodies and a nice theme throughout, and also has an appropriate solo. The outstanding song of the album is 7th track What is a Lie. There is more aggressive vocals and guitar which will get in your head. Final track The New, is a clean/acoustic track in which it seems to crackle and twang a lot which is a disappointment  but the idea is there and the deep vocals seem to compliment the guitar.

Overall, this album reminds me of Down and Neurosis and the band has the potential and some good ideas on which they can develop for their 3rd album. Tendead are worth keeping your eye on if you are a fan of sludge metal. 

Currently touring the Midwest region on America, shows including Wichita  Kansas and Norfolk NE, and working on material for their 3rd album.

Tell me if you agree in the comments below.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Top 10 - Under-rated Metal Bands.

Who are the most  Under-rated metal bands out there? Who deserves more recognition past and present?

Metal is a huge genre, and there is no doubt that I have missed some bands that perhaps might have been included, if you disagree with any of these selections, then comment below.

Plug your headphones in, turn the volume up and allow me to introduce to you bands that really are under-rated.

10. Funeral For A Friend.
Since 2003 they have released 6 studio albums, and have proved they are no slouch when it comes to writing melodic hardcore rock riffs, refreshing clean and suitably screamed vocals. A tight sounding, thorough band with lots of little side EPs and singles. Also listen to Juneau, Roses for the Dead and Into Oblivion.

9. Adrenaline Mob.
Surprise entry at Number 9 with super group formed by singer Russell Allen, Guitarist Mike Orlando and drummer Mike Portnoy. They have released; 1 EP, 1 cover album and a cracking studio album in 2 years, which is good going considering they all have their own projects. Its hard to see why their studio album 'Omerta'  only reached number 70 in the Billboard, but they are considered radio friendly heavy rock. See for yourself...

8. Kamelot.
A lot of you may not agree with this one, but their catchy symphonic metal is not heard enough as people tend to turn to bands like Nightwish for they dose of symphonic metal, or Dream Theatre for progressive metal. Watch their live DVD on youtube and i'm sure you will agree.

7. Testament.
American thrash metallers released their first studio album a little late to be considered  amongst such greats of thrash metal as Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth, however some would consider them worthy of joining the elites. Changes in line up due to health issues meant they had to take a 10 year hiatus, but returned in 2003 with a more modern sound, but they still had heavy thrash routes. Always been in the shadows and it seems their plucky determination has gone un-noticed. The clip below  is one off their latest album.

6. Mark Tremonti. 
Guitarist Mark Tremonti is more well known for his role in Creed and Alter Bridge, but his side project has gone un-noticed. Blistering riffs and great vocals, they deserve some attention. Tremonti himself is a great musician, specialising in anything from speed metal to rock.

5. Fight.
After Rob Halford departed from Judas Priest in 1992, he took drummer Scott Travis with him and formed 'Fight'. They took the classic Judas Priest sound but seemed to add the edgier sound of Pantera. Fight never got nearly the attention that Judas Priest did, but to be fair they could have. They released 2 solid albums, worth checking out.

4. All That Remains
Brutal melodic metallers have 5 studio albums, all of which have different sounds.  Their fourth album 'Overcome' is probably their most detailed, complete album, but 'The Fall of Ideals' and 'For We Are Many' are also heavy, melodic and worthy of being in this list.

3. Strapping Young Lad.
If there is any single writer who is overwhelmingly overlooked it is Devin Townsend. After singing in 1 album for Steve Vai, Devin got fed up with the music industry. He released 5 albums under Strapping Young Lad, which are all a testament to powerful writing, creativity and pure insanity. 

2. Rise to Remain.
It is rare to hear a band with such potential, but with lead singer being the son of Bruce Dickinson (lead singer from Iron Maiden) you know this is a band worth checking out. They are very much a metalcore band, with roots from heavy metal and hardcore punk. 'City of vultures' has sensational guitar riffs, solid drum foundation and real variant of vocals. They are currently in the studio working on their second album.

1. Sacred Mother Tongue.
Just stick these guys on repeat and you will see why Metal Hammer described them as 'The most convincing British metal band to emerge in a long time'. 2 albums to date,  I truly do not understand why these guys aren't more popular, they have everything. Both feature savage guitar work by Andy James, and great lyrical content and vocal style by Darrin South. Say no more, listen for yourself...

So that's it, my top 10 under rated metal bands. Other bands that were considered but didn't make the cut are; 

Black Tide - Didn't make the cut, for no reason other than I wanted a bit of variation on the list. Their latest album Post Mortem is worth checking out.

Nickleback - Controversial one, but these guys get a lot of un-necessary stick for no reason other than they're Canadian. A lot of people don't like what they did with 'Rockstar' but they still have some cracking songs.

Dream Theatre - Great progressive metal band, but they aren't exactly under-rated.

Alter Bridge - Myles Kennedy is an under rated musician and has a great vocal range. I feel that the band are doing just fine without me. They have another album out September 30th

I hope I have left you with at least 1 new band for you to divulge you ears into. Please share opinions, and other bands you would include in the comments section. We'd all love to hear new bands.