Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Casualties of Cool - Casualties of Cool

Release Date: May 14, 2014
Genre: Country Rock, Ambient.
Label: HevyDevy
Number of tracks: 15

Rating: 8.1/10

Casualties of Cool is the first of two confirmed releases this year from Devin Townsend, the second being the much anticipated sequel to Ziltoid the Omniscient. Unlike the latter of the two, Casualties represents something a bit different for Townsend. Featuring a seriously laid back vibe with ambient country-rock stylings. It is perhaps closer to Ghost than Ziltoid on the Townsend Scale.

The album features the story of a traveler, floating through time and space who is lured to a sentient planet by a woman's voice. The planet feeds on the traveler's fear, and he takes solace in an old Radio that he finds, and later, a Phonograph. Eventually, the traveler manages to face his own fears, liberating the woman trapped within the planet and freeing his soul. 

The album features several tracks which are perhaps key to this theme, Most notably towards the end with The Bridge, and Bones. As a narrative, the album works really well. Each track is individually good, but it by far works best as a whole unit. The album is designed to be listened to as a whole, and this is where it truly shines. As a collection of songs it is good, but as a whole it is fantastic. This is night time music, a dark journey of self realization. Devin describes the album as 'probably the truest reflection of who i am in life at this point' which in itself adds a really personal, close feeling to the album. It's an easy album to connect to and because of the thematic nature, this adds to the experience.

Who will this album appeal to? it depends. If you expect metal craziness, then wait for Z2, as Casualties will probably not do it for you. If you are after a chilled out, ambient ride through space, then this is a fantastic choice. It's the kind of album that really excels when you're listening through headphones in the dark. If you are a fan of Devin then it goes without saying. 

In conclusion, Casualties is a fantastic journey of music that is best listened to at night, through headphones. It's an excellent change of pace from Epicloud, and highlights and demonstrates just how enormously talented a man Devin Townsend is. 

This and Z2 are crowd funded albums, and its well worth keeping up to date with their Pledge Music page, his Facebook, his incredible website.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Austrian Death Machine - Triple Brutal

Release Date: 1st April 2014
Genre: Thrash, melodic metal. Comedy metal
Record Label: Artery Records
Number of Tracks: 18 (46 Mins playing time)

Overall Rating: 8.4/10

Wow. This album really beats you up. From brutal rhythm, death metal vocals, ear splitting solos and an the hilarious inclusion of an Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonator, this album has all the potential to be excellent. It is a release of pure testosterone and stupidity.

Lets put front man Tim Lambesis's current legal situation aside and talk about the music. ADM is a side project from the former As I Lay Dying vocalist and is a parody of the Arnold Schwarzenegger films, and as such features Destroy the Runner vocalist Chad Ackerman  doing the Ahhnold voices, as well as many special guests including John Boecklin from DevilDriver, Dave Nassie of Bleeding Through, Jammey Jasta from Hatebreed and Chris Storey from All Shall Perish

ADM shares musical similarities with As I Lay Dying, which is no surprise seen as Tim Lambesis wrote and recorded guitars, drums bass and vocals. All the songs are in your face, and each one of them features a guitar solo. As a fan of shred, this is excellent and it is easy to air guitar along to the solos and chuggy riffs.

All in all, the disc is speedy modern metal, full of precision mechanical percussion and melodic death-style vocals. The songs have an undeniable energy, though it isn’t quite enough to offset a consistent lack of hooks. The second album humorously acknowledges the fact that some of his songs sound similar to others, and you do feel that this happens more so here.

Favorite tracks include: track 3 Chill Out Dickwad and track 6 I Hope You Made Room For My Fist.

Overall, this is a really good album. Full of energy, whit and musical prowess. The album lacks diversity, however it shouldn't stop you from enjoying a lively, modern thrash metal album. 

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Animals as Leaders - The Joy Of Motion

Release Date: March 24th, 2014
Genre: Instrumental Progressive Metal
Label: Sumerian Records
Number of tracks: 12

Rating: 6.9/10

Instrumental Progressive Metallers Animals as Leaders have released their third album, the Joy of Motion. A mixture of dark themes, jazz and blues influences and astonishing technicality, but how does it hold up? Is it an advancement of what came before?

Not really. The Joy Of Motion certainly is a step up in terms of production value, from that perspective the album sounds well balanced and warm. However, when it comes to the content, it lacks consistency. There are moments where the album is warm and interesting, (see, Air Chrysalis, Another Year) and moments where it's just overwhelming (See Leppincott, and after the first minute of Ka$cade) and these moments of incongruity, while technical on a level rarely seen, don't really add much to the listening experience. It's like flashes of moderately inappropriate strobe-lighting in the middle of the day.

Just to re-iterate, the musicianship of this album is phenomenal. As a technical feat, it's above and beyond most other albums, (although it seems important to point out that there aren't a whole bunch of albums comparable to what Animals as Leaders do, really) and for the technophiles out there it's probably on a par with, or even a level above Conquering Dystopia. However, uncompromising technicality does not equate to a fantastic listening experience and, for even a slightly more casual listener there isn't an awful lot to take away from the Joy of Motion.

The real crux of the matter is that the album fails to keep your attention and really forces you to try and focus on it, and this isn't a good trait in an album, to put it another way – It lacks soul, the sheer technical prowess gets lost in translation. When you've got to focus on music to enjoy it then it's failed to capture the attention of the listener and it here that The Joy of Motion really fails. Despite it's technicality, it fails to capture a listener's attention.

This doesn't necessarily mean that The Joy Of Motion is a bad album per se, depending on what criteria you define an album. If you're a huge fan of technical music then this album will no doubt appeal and that is fine, however if you're not specifically looking for technicality, then there are better albums out there and Animals as Leaders just fall short of providing an over-all experience.

To conclude, The Joy Of Motion is an extraordinary technical feat that lacks a real human element and as a result falls short of a full experience. If you are looking at getting into this kind of music, then this is probably not a good place to start, but if you're into next-level musicianship, definitely give it a try.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Steel Panther - All You Can Eat

Release Date: 1st April 2014
Genre: Comedy, glam hard rock
Record Label: Open E Music, Kobalt Label Services
Number of Tracks: 12

Overall Rating: 7.6/10

If you have never heard of Steel Panther  then you should hide yo kids hide yo wife, and prepare yourself for profane vulgarity towards sex and sexual themes that will have you in stitches and singing (probably not in public) along.

Steel Panther had some early success on the sunset strip as a Van Halen cover band, before releasing their first single, Death To All But Metal  in 2003. This was included in their first album Feel the Steel in 2009. Their second album is more risque with 'true' song about how the lead guitarist Satchel "Fucked 17 girls at the grocery store and never lost his erection". This 3rd album All You Can Eat  takes the themes from potentially true and sometimes thoughtful ideas, to humourous and comical. The track listing is below so you can get an idea of what I'm talking about. 

1. "Pussywhipped"  
2. "Party Like Tomorrow is the End of the World"  
3. "Gloryhole"  
4. "Bukkake Tears"  
5. "Gangbang at the Old Folks Home"  
6. "Ten Strikes You're Out"  
7. "The Burden of Being Wonderful"  
8. "Fucking My Heart in the Ass"  
9. "B.V.S."  (Big Vagina Syndrome)
10. "You're Beautiful When You Don't Talk"  
11. "If I Was the King"  
12. "She's on the Rag"  

This album is loads of fun. Yes, Steel Panther are a comedy act, but the music is actually excellent. The album is full of catchy rhythms, lyrics and melodies. The construction on the most part is as simple as a verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo theme, but they manage to mix styles and tempos to make it interesting and different every time. You can't deny that Satchels well executed solos are excellent and a real credit to this album. Even though this is a comical album, you can't help but feel that Satchel takes his guitaring very seriously, and puts a lot of effort into his solos.

The 80's parody they go for is done really well, with some excellent Van Halen style songs, such as The Burden of Being Wonderful and some of the lyrical themes are culturally infuriating with the 80s parody they are trying to convey. Examples can be seen in track 6 Ten Strikes and You're Out and If I Was the King.  

We can find very little fault with this album musically, however the reason you listen to Steel Panther is the vulgarity which entices a certain audience. You do get the feeling that the jokes are wearing thin after 3 albums, and there isn't anywhere new the band can go. I would also say it is less diverse than the previous 2, and lacks the softer Community Property or Girl From Oklahoma song that really made Feel the Steel pop.

Overall, it is a solid effort from Steel Panther and is another great addition to their discography. Musically is it superb, and it is a lot of fun. It would be interesting to see if their jokes continue to be funny on their next album. Steel Panther are undeniable proof that 80s glam rock can survive in 2014!


Friday, 11 April 2014

Black Label Society - Catacombs of the Black Vatican

Release Date: 8th April 2014
Genre: Southern Rock, Heavy Metal
Record Label: E1 Music
Number of Tracks: 11

Overall Rating: 6.9

The last studio album released by Black Label Society (BLS) was Order Of the Black released back in 2010. The hard working quartet released pretty much an album per year from their inception in 1999, up until Shot to Hell  released in 2006 - which was a poor album to say the least. 

Catacombs is their 10th record, and first without Nick "The Twin" Catanese, who left last year. After BLS's more recent acoustic releases such as The Songs Remains Not the Same and Unblackened, we were all expecting something heavy, aggressive and kick ass like on their debut album or 2002 1919 Eternal. This album disappoints in that aspect. 

Thats not to say its a bad album far from it. Catacombs is a midpoint between the heavy and the softer side of BLS, which forms a sort of soft mid tempo grunge style. Guitarist and frontman Zakk Wydle delivers bludgeoning grunge, soulfull southern Sabbath style riffs, with definite hints of Alice In Chains in there too, especially track 1 Fields of Forgiveness and lead single My Dying Time. 

But there are softer more melodic songs such as track 4 Angel of Mercy, track 7 Scars and final track 11 Shades of Grey. These are surrounded by heavier tracks which we were expecting. The most typical BLS track on this album has to be up tempo groovy track 5 Heart of Darkness. It shows some guitar wizardry and would perhaps be a better opening track than Fields of Forgiveness which is more mid tempo and not the typical aggressive BLS we are used to. Track 8 Damn the Flood  is another heavy aggressive track, full of well timed pinch harmonics and exquisite vocals. It probably has the best solo on the record too. Damn the Flood  is my favorite track, and the album would have fared a lot better if it was full of similar high tempo tracks.

Catacombs doesn't break new ground, and definitely isn't the heavy aggressive album which we were expecting. Its more diverse with the a range of tempo's and acoustic pop ballads thrown in there too. Its still a good album, and has the polished, defined BLS sound which the legion of Wylde fans will be pleased about.

Whats your favorite BLS track?
What do you think of the new album? Throw us some comments below.

Listen on YouTube
BLS Website

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Ronnie James Dio - This is Your Life - Tribute

Ronnie James Dio was a character unlike any other in the music industry. His, talent, his songwriting, his distinctive style and his compassion and personality all of which have made him a legend in the field. Ronnie James Dio - This is Your Life is not only a tribute, but a celebration of his works which have left an indelible mark on the genre. The album brings some of the biggest names in metal and some of Dio's close friends, to honor such a great, by covering some of his elusive works from; Rainbow, Black Sabbath and Dio. All proceeds from the album go to the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund

Personally, I thought it would be rude to review an album of covers, especially because it is a tribute album. It wouldn't be fair to scrutinise the excellent work done by these artists. However, I know many of you will agree when I say each song does Dio justice, as they are all as heavy and in your face as you would hope for. There are a lot of standout performances such as Anthrax's cover of Neon Knights, Adrenaline Mob's cover of The Mob Rules, Corey Taylor's excellent vocals on Rainbow in the Dark and more surprisingly the powerful vocals from Halestrom. 

The effort gone into this album is phenomenal, its not just the artists on the back of the CD that have contributed, a full list can be seen below, and they all deserve credit as dedicating your time, effort, money and resources to such a cause is worthy of credit. These tracks represent a bold statement of the love and admiration that united musicians from all eras.

  1. Neon Knights - Anthrax
  2. The Last In Line - Tenacious D
  3. The Mob Rules - Adrenaline Mob
  4. Rainbow In The Dark - Corey Taylor, Roy Mayorga, Satchel, Christian Martucci, Jason Christopher
  5. Straight Through The Heart - Halestorm
  6. Starstruck - Motörhead with Biff Byford
  7. The Temple Of The King - Scorpions
  8. Egypt (The Chains Are On) - Doro
  9. Holy Diver - Killswitch Engage
  10. Catch The Rainbow - Glenn Hughes, Simon Wright, Craig Goldy, Rudy Sarzo, Scott Warren
  11. I - Oni Logan, Jimmy Bain, Rowan Robertson, Brian Tichy
  12. Man On The Silver Mountain - Rob Halford, Vinny Appice, Doug Aldrich, Jeff Pilson, Scott Warren
  13. Ronnie Rising Medley (Featuring A Light In The Black, Tarot Woman, Stargazer, Kill The King) - Metallica
  14. This Is Your Life - Dio
  15. Heaven And Hell - Stryper (Japanese bonus track)[1]
  16. Stand Up And Shout - Dio Disciples (Japanese bonus track)[1]
  17. Buried Alive - Jasta (Digital bonus track)
I have to give a mention to the artwork, which is perfect. Pictures of Dio are printed on the inside cover including a picture of his Devil Horns, which were a legacy of Dio. I teared up when I opened the album to see these pictures, and it was even before the music started that I realised how appropriate this tribute is.

Finally, the last song and title track brings a close to a fantastic album and out of honour and respect it had to be Ronnie himself with This is Your Life from the 1996 Angry Machines album.

Horns up, in honour of a true legend. Ronnie James Dio will forever be remembered in the highest regard by fans of all rock and metal. 

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Scarsic - A Tale of Two Worlds

Release Date: 25th February 2014 
Genre: Technical Metal, Heavy Metal
Record Label: Self-released
Number of Records: 10

Rating: 7.6/10

It's another Tuesday night review! This week we have Scarsic with their first full-length offering; A Tale of Two Words. A three-piece studio project, Scarsic have crafted their own distinct style of metal, featuring some great riffs, an excellent rhythm section, and excellent dynamic diversity.

The album opens with a simple piano moment that is both lovely and dynamic while hiding underneath a punchy riff, before opening out into a spacious chorus. Throughout the 10-track record, this serves as a benchmark for the dynamic variance of each track, giving the listener a good primer for what to expect. That said, this album doesn't get boring or predictable, providing a variety of sounds from almost Dream Theateresque build ups, to outright groove riffage and almost every other stop along the way. Diversity is definitely the keyword to this record.

As well put together as A Tale is as an album, there are a few moments where the overall production does let it down, the piano on Entropy sounds a tiny bit clippy in context to the rest of the record. There are moments where vocal harmonies sound a little bit unrefined too. During the opening track, this is most apparent. Outside of these small niggles, the rest of A Tale is actually very well produced and put together. There are other tiny niggles, but they aren't really noticeable.

Musically, the album is actually pretty excellent. Asides from the aforementioned diversity, the tonal quality of the album is great. It's not muddy, it's not buzzy, it's tonally warm and well-rounded. The band sound together and coherent, and again, it really accentuates the experience. Listening to a band who aren't quite together can be disconcerting, but Scarsic come together nicely, and it translates really well onto the record.

Despite all of this, A Tale is not a perfect album. Despite being well put together as an album, there are moments where individual tracks lack cogency and feel a little bit disjointed. Live By These Words is a good example of this. The opening section, with the clean chordal moments and the (really, really good) vocal melodies then moves into something that almost feels entirely unrelated and possibly unnecessary. It's still a good song, but it does feel a little disjointed. The album is called A Tale of Two Worlds, and it's probably fair to say that the diversity is done as a nod to the theme implied by the title, and for the most part it does actually work really well. With a bit of refinement, it could be really, really excellent.

The album it's self really is an eclectic mix of themes, held together by some really solid metal. There is something for everyone, be it the technical riffage of Land of Sin, to the really wide open piano and acoustic sounds of A Tale of Two Worlds pt.1, which moves into more excellent and expansive metal.

To wrap up the review, A Tale is a good opening effort from a really talented trio, featuring a lot of really, really good metal. Despite the few niggles that let the album down, it's a really enjoyable experience that hints at a band that, with some refinement, have an awful lot to offer.

Check out Scarsic's Facebook, Twitter and Bandcamp accounts. And if you're interested in hearing more, they are on Spotify too!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Glamour of the Kill - Savages

Release Date: 23rd September 2013
Genre: Post Hardcore
Record Label: eOne Entertainment Music
Number of Tracks: 11

Overall Rating: 3.2/10

The UK metal music scene has sadly struggled in their attempt at reaching the heights of Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Led 
Zeppelin, to name a few. In recent years, we have heard disappointing stuff from Bullet For My Valentine, Asking Alexandria and Bring me the Horizon in attempts to scale the heights of their successors.

Glamour of the Kill have been touted as the one of the 'Uk's brightest young hopes', after their first release The Summoning (2011). Unfortunately, their latest album, Savages (2013), is a weak attempt and another disappointment for British metal. 

Nothing on this album manages to surpass average. The guitars show no imagination and lack of ambition. The creative minds of the guitarists have surcumb to what we know as the modern metalcore scene. They are very basic, and are reminiscent of the type of riff you are taught as a beginner guitar player. The solos are often replaced by slow chugging breakdowns, however there is one solo to note in track 3 The Only One and is really the only glimpse of creativity in the entire album. 

The vocal diversity was very good in The Summoning with deep growls, clean vocals, and higher end melodies. This highlight, has sadly abaited in this album as the vocals are weak and lack dynamic variation. They are now all clean vocals, similar to All Time Low. The lyrics are typical of a modern hardcore band track 4 Live for the weekend - 'And last night was so crazy / My head feels like its World War 3 / And no other night will be the same / We're going to do it all again'

The use of electronic synthesizers in metal is something which we should approve of. They are used in this album, however, they are clearly making up for the lack of creativity in other departments.

Overall, this album is geared to the younger metal fans and is not a good example of fine musicianship, creativity or construction and has a more pop feel to it. This album and band have a lot to do to ever scale the heights of their predecessors.

Currently touring America with Pop Evil and Escape the Fate.


Sunday, 9 March 2014

Conquering Dystopia - Conquering Dystopia

Release Date: 10th March 2014
Genre: Instrumental, Shred metal.
Record Label: Self-Released
Number of Tracks: 12

Overall Rating: 9.8/10

Purchase From:
Conquering Dystopia

Its always super exciting when a super group forms. Adrenaline Mob, Avantasia, Hellyeah, Murderdolls, Chickenfoot, to name a few. The excitement that enveloped the guitar community when we heard former Nevermore guitarist Jeff Loomis was collaborating with fellow super shredder Keith Merrow, Cannibal Corpse bassist Alex Webster and The Faceless drummer Alex Rudinger, was endless. More than double the funds for this crowd funded album were gathered very quickly, and they soon got to work. 

The album is put together exceptionally well. Its put together at Audiohammer, and you can hear the quality that a professional studio has to offer. The tone of the guitars throughout is spine tingling, check out the pre-verse riff of track 3 Ashes of A Lesser Man as a prime exampleSurprisingly, it has great dynamic variation throughout the album, and even though the tracks are an onslaught of brutal super shredding, you do get the occasional break such as track 7 Lachrymose and some acoustic interludes.

Conquering Dystopia batters us from song 1, the appropriately named Prelude to Obliteration, with a face melting solo just 2 minutes in and the rest of the song ripping us apart with supreme riffage. Some of the riffs are reminiscent of when Nevermore were in their prime, however it is clear that this is a team effort. Keith Merrow's death-metal back ground can be heard in track 8 Autarch, and track 10 Kurfa at Dusk. It is evident that both guitarists had an input in many of their riffs, and Nuclear Justice is a mix of Merrows Riffing and Loomis' soloing.

We all expected the guitaring to be exceptional, and they excelled. But a big credit has to go to the drummer Alex Rudinger. His drums are phenomenal, and do a great job of creating the mood and, along with Alex Webster's excellent bass  tone, compliment the guitars. Overall, an excellent team effort. 

There was no doubt that this collaboration would work, but its fact that it has has set this high standard for instrumental metal that gets its high rating. It is very hard to find fault with, there are 13 tracks of instrumental genius, with explosive riffing and ear splitting, finger destroying leads. What more could a music fan want? 

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Coshish - Firdous

Release Date: 2nd September 2013
Genre: Progressive, Rock.
Record Label: Universal Music
Number of Tracks: 10

Overall Rating: 7.9/10

Indian progressive fusion band Coshish, have worked incredibly hard to release such a thought provoking, ambient album which has hints of progressive melodies and classic soft rock whilst engrossing the listener to piece together the concept. 

Inspired by Tool and Nine Inch Nails, the hard working, diligent album takes you beyond the music as the music follows the story of a protagonist who embarks on a journey to reach enlightenment. The listener can piece together their own journey with the subtle clues left in the album artwork, as well as rearranging the track listing to flow with their version of the story. The album is worth understanding, just to see how much hard work has gone into this.

Musically, it perhaps lacks a little edge, perhaps lacks a defining moment. What it doesn't lack is consistency, and the construction is intricate with each bit leading into the next really well, as well as running along side the concept beautifully. At points, its classic rock and blues influences are obvious, to the point where it is really refined but not really unique. That doesn't mean to say that i've heard this before, its progressive edge, ambient atmosphere and the odd intriguing guitar melody makes it an album worth remembering, and is a good building block for anything Coshish decide to throw at us in the future. 

Track 3, Coshish is a highlight of the album, as the sole ambient intro leads us into some classic rock riffage. This is a very soft song and is definitely geared more towards the radio audience. Track 5 Woh Kho Gaye, shows some neat guitar work, as do most of the tracks whether it be from tight acoustic rhythm, blues solos and rhythm and progressive. Track 7 Maya and track 10 Mukti offers a hint of a change in pace, and adds some flavour to the album. 

Overall, it is a good album. With a few added bits of spice, this could be a great rock album. However, The concept and the mix of the variety of different styles mentioned in this review, make it an interesting, thought provoking and enjoyable album. It is really an album which you can discuss at the pub after a few pints, and any album that can make you do that, is memorable and worthy of recognition.

Useful links:

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Immortal - Sacrament

Genre: Heavy Metal
Label: Unsigned
Number of Tracks: 10 
Favourite Track: Wish You Were Here

Overall Rating: 7.5/10
It's time for another Review Tuesday! This time around we have Canadian metallers Immortal Sacrament. This will be something of an unorthodox review as they don't have a collective set of works in the traditional sense. Instead, I'll be reviewing the material they have on their ReverbNation page.

With that out of the way, onto the important part – the music. What it lacks in refinement (and it does lack refinement – more on this later) it more than makes up for in ability, energy and sheer balls. The material is crafted with the love and passion of a small band – There's no expectation here, no budgets, just a love for solid, expressive metal. On record they've managed to capture a live vibe that was undoubtedly born of necessity, but it comes across really rather well. Don't get me wrong, there are some drawbacks to the raw nature of the tracks but they aren't amateurish – merely unrefined.

Key tracks:

#1 – This Ones for You.
The opening effort of this collection goes a way to showcase the talent of the band. The Vocals and the Rhythm section stand out really well here, the former being both haunting and compelling, the latter being tight and present. It also features a drastic dynamic contrast, especially during the opening verse.

#3 – My Reflection
Slightly more up-tempo feel, this is possibly a bit rougher than the opening track. It opens into a really excellent riff and just runs from there. The vocals are a little bit rougher too, and it suffers a little bit for it. Still a great track all in all! Especially for that pacey, up-tempo vibe.

#4 – Path to Arise
Another ballsy riff, leads into a far more polished track. It gives a view as to what Immortal Sacrament can become as a band (and probably are, Live). It has a really catchy chorus and flows really nicely. If there's any criticism, it does end rather abruptly.

#5 – Media Bullshit
This song is a little reminiscent of Trivium in it's opening, but then it veers off into something that feels unique. It's another well-written song - I found myself singing the chorus throughout the day - and it's bristling with a more polished energy. Great track.

#7 – Wish You Were Here
This song was surprising. It's has a garage-y feel which really adds to the charm, and is probably one of the softer songs in the collection. It really works though and shows a slightly different side to the band with it's more Puddle of Mudd-esque feel. It highlights more of the passion and some versatility that Immoral Sacrament bring as a unit.

#8 – Battle of Gaia
After Wish you were Here, it injects needed tempo into the experience and some really nice guitar work complements the other parts of the band. It finishes really strongly, on an up-tempo note. Another solid track that highlights the band's pros.

As previously stated, Immortal Sacrament's music does lack refinement and it's time to talk about that for a moment. It has a cons and pros. On the pros side, it avoids the sterility of over-production quite nicely – you can really feel the energy of the band and it comes across beautifully. On the negative side – It doesn't quite sound as good as it could. Tracks 4 & 5 feel the most polished and it really shows. These two tracks stand out on a purely audio level and if the rest of the tracks were to the same standard, they would come across far better. The problem is there are moments where sections of the band are less prominent, and this is a stark inconsistency which does impact the effect of the songs somewhat. However, this is a result of the fact that a lot of the material is self-recorded and recorded live. If you can look past this, there's a real font of quality material and it's worth the perseverance. 

In conclusion, Immortal Sacrament are a real edgy, ballsy outfit with a talent for their own brand of metal! If you can look past the lack of refinement (and in my humble opinion, you should) then you will enjoy what they have to offer. If you live in their particular area then I'd say it's definitely worth going and checking out one of their shows.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Periphery - Clear

Release Date: 28th Jan 2014
Genre: Progressive metalcore
Record Label: Sumerian Records
Number of Tracks: 7

Overall Rating: 7.9/10

Periphery were formed in 2005 and have previously released 2 albums and an EP. Their latest 7 track EP is a follow up to their well received 2012 album This Time It's Personal and they are a band that get better and better with every release.

Combining each individual's outstanding ability with their instruments, and their unique and exceptional method of song construction, Periphery have created an album which showcases their fantastic songwriting skills. This mature record bleeds quality and style as progression and melodicity swell around the album. Each song on the album is written by a different member of the band, so gives us an insight as to how each member thinks. 

Opening track 'Overture' is the only track written by the entire band and it introduces the operatic theme demonstrated throughout. This is a fantastic opening tune, as it is a mix of brilliant piano playing both lead and rhythm, and progressive heaviness. A definite highlight of the album is the uniqueness of this song. 
2nd Track 'The Summer Jam' is very modern progressive. A groovy main riff and some catchy vocals carry you through the track. It's a good individual track, but the fact it doesn't follow on from 'Overture'  is a little disappointing. 'Feed the Ground' is up next and this track is written by Matt Halpern - Percussionist. That explains why it is very percussion heavy, thudding drums and some funky bass lines make this track move as quick as superman.  The odd lead riff and a fantastic vocal range, make this track a definite highlight. Track 4 'Zero'  is 1 of 2 instrumental tracks, and this is written by frontman Misha Mansoor. He really is the creative force behind the band, and he has written a typical Periphery track. A weakness to this track however is the tone of the guitar seems un-natural, as if its been made totally on a computer.

My favorite track on this album is track 5 'The Parade of Ashes'. The intro and pre chorus is a build up to a bouncy riff and pleasing drum line. The chorus is totally fantastic. The lyrics are worth noting here too: "Concealing the intent of fascists/ Resurrect / Humanity has fallen by the way side". And the solo ain't half bad either. The second of our instrumentals is track 6 "Extraneous" is a bit of a let down considering what it has to follow, however it is still a fantastic instrumental track which seems individual to the rest of the album. The track has a hint of early Keith Merrow to it. Final track 'Pale Aura' and is written by guitarist Mark Holcomb. The riff in this is very good, bordering on technical metal. It has a quaint ending to the track and is a suitable way of finishing the album.

It's very much an experimental album as none of the tracks seem to work together as an album should. Overall, Periphery have written a great set of 7 tracks that individually show what Periphery are about as well as each individual's talent as a songwriter. 

It is a great appetizer for what is to come in late 2014, when 'Juggernaut' finally makes its way to us.

Periphery Facebook

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The Grand Minnows - Friday Lights

Release Date: 17th January 2014
Genre: Soft rock, pop rock, Indie rock.
Record Label: Unsigned
Number of Tracks: 3

Overall Rating: 7.7/10

As a metalhead, I always find it refreshing to hear something different. When I first listened to The Grand Minnows I felt calm. I didn't want to mosh, headbang or get a skull tattooed on my fist. I just wanted to listen to the music and enjoy the moment. Now to some, this might be hard to do, but tune into this Swedish/American Indie Rock band's 2nd EP and you will see exactly what I mean.

The members of The Grand Minnows have all been in established bands before and their experience in this 3 track EP is evident throughout these tracks. They are simple, but effective. They get you contemplating, wondering. It's thoughtful music, very calming and very mature. If you are a regular metalhead, then you might turn your nose at something like this, but having these 3 tracks on your iPod is recommended. It will change your day and slow things down. Give them a listen, you will not regret it. Tell me if you agree with me in the comments.

Currently organising the production of a music video, and more tracks expected in May/June time. 

You can hear this album on their Bandcamp, and I recommend that you do as well as keep up to date with their latest stuff on their FaceBook

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Fallen Fate - Into The Black

Release Date: 30th January 2014
Genre: Melodic modern death metal.
Record Label: Unsigned
Number of Tracks: 10
Sounds Like: As I Lay Dying, Caliban, Insomnium.

Overall Rating: 7.2/10

British metal has developed since the 80's thrash metal that changed the genre forever. Epitomising this evolution is Fallen Fate, who are releasing their brand new album on January 30th, titled Into the Black. 

Combining thrash, death metal and hardcore punk in a mix of dark melodic riffs and punishing aggression, Fallen Fate have created an interesting and engaging concept album with a story familiar to that of the new wave of demonic horror movies such as The Devil Inside and The Possession. This album is different to their 2011 release The Virus has Spread, in that it is a lot darker vocally and musically, but they have kept the melodic heaviness and speed which has seen them on the Bloodstock and Download stage.

The highlight and standout of this 10 track album, is the theme. It is a story about Vespa who is possessed by a demonic presence which takes over, killing her and her family. Vocalist and guitarist Lee Skinner, explains the concept of the album, "The drive behind the concept is to empower the listener to decide whether she was possessed by the devil, as she has no saviour in her life, or if she was possessed by God, punishing her for her lack of faith". As a listener, it clawed me into the music making an interesting and stand out album. However, such a heavy theme could distract the listener from the music, as it is easy to get lost in trying to decipher or understand the theme making it difficult to enjoy the music, almost like reading The Da Vinci code.

The album musically is monotonous. It is hard to believe that there are 10 tracks on this album as they all seem to cleverly merge into one. There are no distinctive breaks except for track 9, The Demise which would be considered more of an interlude or intro to the longer final track. The vocals are continuously screamed, which to be honest are done and recorded to a high standard but they very rarely offer a melody and are largely toneless. The only differing vocal tones come as backing vocals in tack 3 Until the Final Hour and track 6 I welcome the Dead which add to the spine tingling eerie atmosphere.

A side from the vocals, the album is musically good. The riffs are somewhat complex,  reminiscent of Ember to Inferno, the riff in track 7 Rituals is a key highlight. These riffs mix almost too well with the solos which are engaging and emotive and offers the listener time to think about the concept. Another highlight being the 2 part guitar duel on Until the Final Hour. The gothic tones and occasional church atmosphere add to the theme and are suitable for the tracks they are in. 

Into the Black is a heavy going hard to listen to album. It is dark, and although the idea behind the theme is fresh, the album struggles to narrate the story behind it. There is no explosive moment, the concept is really the only engaging aspect of the album and although the music is good, there is nothing engrossing about it.

The album is officially released on January 30th and can be pre-ordered here. Follow them on FaceBookYouTube and Twitter