Archive for October, 2011

Tom Waits: Bad As Me

Posted in Album Reviews on October 26, 2011 by lukesreviews1014

Our raspy voiced friend has returned with an excellent album and a proper follow up to his 2004 release Real Gone. Since Real Gone‘s release in 2004, Tom Waits has still kept his name in the media by releasing a three disc album of all of his bootlegs and previously unreleased tracks that he dug up and remastered back in 2007. In 2009 he released a live album as well, but i’m a technical bastard and don’t include those two album in his overall discography (I prefer to use studio albums and ignore live and compilation albums unless noted otherwise). Therefore, that being said, that means its been seven years since we’ve had a studio album from Waits and thankfully he hasn’t lost or diminished he creativity.

Bad As Me is an excellent album to follow Real Gone, which was also a really good album in my opinion. Honestly, I don’t think you can go wrong with Tom Waits. Sure he’s got better albums than others, but everything he’s done is, in my opinion, brilliant on some level or another and this new album is simply yet another testament to that statement. There’s really something for everyone when it comes to Tom Waits. You’ve got blues, you’ve got jazz, you’ve got folk and bluegrass, ballads, uptempo songs, all laced together with Waits’s distinct signature raspy vocal style. I like to use the expression “carnival of sounds” when dealing with Tom’s music because thats exactly what it is. Every album is different and every song is different and thats what makes him very unique and interesting. It’s also very wacky most of the times and you need to really be in the right mind-frame when listening to Tom Waits because even though he should be taken very seriously, some of his songs are very goofy and by goofy I mean, similar-to-Les-Claypool-goofy. Tom Waits would actually be a great artist to listen to if you like Primus, Les Claypool, or any of that other experimental rock stuff.

I’ve been a fan of Waits ever since I listened to Mule Variations for the first time and for me, that’ll always be my favorite Tom Waits album, but this album is good enough in my mind that I would put this in heavy rotation if I were ever in a Tom Waits mood. There’s really not much to add to a album like this. Some highlight songs for me were “Raised Right Men” the title track, “Get Lost” and “Hell Broke Luce” but like I said before, there’s something in every TomWaits album for everybody. If you like one Tom Waits albums, you like them all, and just because this album is similar sounding to most, don’t get the impression that TomWaits is one of those artists swimming in his own filth (not that Tom probably wouldn’t mind that). Most artists in this day and age need to reinvent themselves to some extent every some odd album (Counterparts just did that with their last album), but Waits has been around for a while and has capitalized on a signature sound that his die-hard fans wouldn’t want him to deviate from so when I say this is album is similar to some previous ones, I just mean that his style hasn’t changed and thats a good thing. All we want from TomWaits is Tom Waits and this record is undeniably Tom Waits…so be happy 🙂

I am

Luke Helker


Counterparts: The Current Will Carry Us

Posted in Album Reviews on October 26, 2011 by lukesreviews1014

One of the fastest rising bands in hardcore music, Counterparts have released one of the most aggressive and honest hardcore records of this year, along with the likes of Title Fight, Touche Amore, and This is Hell and countless others. The leaps this band have made and now with this new album to add to it, I’m praying that more people start to get on board with this band because they are such a phenomenal band all around with a lot to say and they say it so honestly and with a lot of integrity, you can’t help but be gravitated by this band.

In an overwhelmingly growing scene of average, underwhelming bands, Counterparts have delivered a very straightforward, positively charge album with melodic riffs, heartfelt vocals, and chugging guitars. The band released statements about the new album stating that there would be no breakdowns whatsoever on the record and you know what, they weren’t lying. There are no breakdowns anywhere to be heard on this record and instead of getting a very watered down record with little to no excitement, we have a record that is even more exciting and more colorful than if there were breakdowns on it. It just goes to show how you can still make a really strong record without having to rely on a really heavy breakdown to keep people excited because let’s be honest, there are a TON of bands that are around and going strong solely on their breakdowns. I’m not saying that Counterparts are better or should be treated like elitists because there’s no breakdowns, but rather I think they should be respected for making such a mature, strong record.

Another great thing about the band is their live show. I saw Counterparts support Volumes a few weeks ago with some new friends here at the university. My buddy Ian told me about them because they’re one of his all-time favorite bands and so he turned me on to them. I absolutely love this band now after seeing them live. They were so good and so loud, playing they’re chugging guitars at eleven and shouting their vocals at glass shattering volumes. Every one was at top form and I know my friend Ian was pleased with the show because he didn’t stop sining every single word to every single song they played. The band even played a few songs from the new album, which was well received so we all knew that we were in for a good record, but now I want to go see Counterparts live again, so I can hear these new songs in the live context again.

There’s not much else to say about this band other than they’re fantastic and everyone reading this should go out and look this band up. I really hope that more people start to get on board with this band and I imagine that we’ll be seeing the Counterparts logo on a lot of concert posters for the better part of next year. All in all, they’re a very strong hardcore band making waves in an ocean filled with an overwhelming amount of similar bands just floating around .

Check it out

Luke Helker

Mayday Parade: Mayday Parade

Posted in Album Reviews on October 19, 2011 by lukesreviews1014

This is the third album released by Florida Pop-punk band and even though I absolutely hate it when a band releases a self titled album that isn’t their first (Avenged Sevenfold, Three Doors Down and now Mayday Parade), I will be fair and say that the leaps and bounds the band has made and progressed make the title of this album very ap pro po. The band have taken all of the greatest moments from their previous two albums and wrapped it all together for this new album. I’ve always been a fan of this band and I’m so proud of what this band have accomplished and what they’re still accomplishing. Truly a remarkable band with passion and definitely worth listening to.

Ever since the bands inception, Mayday Parade have been filling our ears with stories of love, loss, life and death. Most of there songs have been very piano driven, with very ballad-like song structures which separate the band from most of their faster, harder pop punk contemporaries that sing mostly about partying and having a good time (Well done  All Time Low), and less abut serious relationships etc. It seems almost that Mayday Parade are complete opposites of the All Time Lows or the Blink-182s. Now thats not to say that Mayday Parade aren’t edgy or fast at points, i’m not saying that they are the only bad doing this and im not saying that the other aforementioned bands are bad for what they do. I just really like what Mayday Parade have done and enjoy listening to their songs. It’s nice to relax sometimes and listen to a good story.

The thing I like about Mayday Parade and the thing I think makes them so unique is that even within their own genre, which is already fairly accessible, I feel that Mayday Parade sing songs with very relatable subject matter concerning relationships, love, friendship and other themes that help to connect with the listener and make them feel special or unique themselves. A big part of that is in part due to lead vocalist, acoustic guitar player and piano player Derek Sanders, who arguably is the hart and soul of the band delivering his vocals to some intense and deep songs with a lots of integrity and honesty.

It may just be me, but I really like this band and I’ve enjoyed everything they’ve sone up to this point. Personally, I think that this may be their best, but my favorite was their first record “A Lesson in Romantics.” This is a phenomenal pop-punk record rekindling the spirit in a sub genre that I believe is quickly fading. Anyway, thats all I really have to say about this record. Very strong record from a very strong record and i recommend this album and this band highly if you are a fan of pop punk bands or looking for a band delivering a refreshing new look on life’s everyday obstacles with beautiful ballad-like songs and melodic, catchy, accessible hooks accessible to any and everyone.


Luke Helker

Five Finger Death Punch: American Capitalist

Posted in Album Reviews on October 13, 2011 by lukesreviews1014

After the critically acclaimed success of the bands sophomore release, War is the Answer, the band have stepped up to the plate again and delivered another fantastically strong record chalk full of great, heavy tunes. Five Finger Death Punch are back on top with a bone to pick and they’re here to kick ass and take names. American Capitalist is a mirror of American consumerism’s poisonous grasp on every day american life and the band have made this album as a stand against the seedier side of the country they love. War is the Answer demonstrated the band’s will to fight to the death and to never give up for what they believe and this album is taking a step back and saying, ‘yeah this is a great country, but there’s some issues that need to be addressed and only the strong will survive.’

You may notice that this isn’t a picture of the actual American Capitalist album (I honestly couldn’t find one with the appropriate size specifications on Google, so i pulled out this one), and you may also notice that there’s a new face in the band. Bassist Matt Snell is no longer with the band and Chris Kael has replaced Snell in that position. Honestly, though I don’t think that it really drastically changed the sound in any way, shape of form and I don’t think anyone really misses Matt all that much. Five Finger Death Punch haven’t been around long enough for us to become so attached to them and see the band as a family more so than a band (unlike Slipknot, who are very much seen as a family of sorts), so I can’t say that i’ll miss Snell all that much (he did have amazing facial hair though). Aside from that though, the band sound as tight and as powerful as they always have. They even got Kevin Churko to produce the album (Churko produced War is the Answer), which is great because I think he did a great job of capturing the bands intensity and he really brought out the integrity of the band and had that integrity seep through every pore on the previous album. Sonically, it’s Five Finger Death Punch doing what Five Finger Death Punch do best and honestly, thats all I really want them to do. They’re one of those bands where the saying ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ applies and unless they start rewriting the same song over and over again then I’m fine with the progression this band have made.

One of the great things about Five Finger Death Punch is that their songs are so immediate. it’s easy to get into them and Ivan Moody always delivers beautifully melodic choruses that gnaw at the back of your head hours after listening to the song itself. The songs on this record bear no exception and I can’t wait to hear them on the live stage. Honestly though,Five Finger Death Punch are such a great live band, that they could play twinkle twinkle little star and it would be the badass thing in the world or the sweetest thing you’ve ever heard. They are truly a dynamic band capable of mastering everything. This record has some great songs on it including “Under and Over it”, “Generation Dead”, “American Capitalist” and “Coming Down”. “Remember Everything” is the only ballad-style song on this record and while I believe they will never write a ballad as good as “The Bleeding”, “Remember Everything” shouldn’t be ignored at all. All in all, this is an incredibly strong record and I’m a huge fan of it, but I like it slightly less than War is the Answer and The Way of the Fist, but that certainly doesn’t mean that the band are getting worse. I love everything that the band have released and i think they are one of the most consistent heavy metal bands to date.

I highly recommend this album to anyone who is/was a fan of the band. This a very strong record and shouldn’t be overshadowed by any of its predecessors. There really is no reason to hate it. If you liked the band before, then you should like them now. If not, then I guess you weren’t a true fan to begin with. Also, catch Five Finger Death Punch on their headlining tour with other phenomenal metal bands including the likes of All That Remains and Hatebreed. Sure to be a hell of a time with one hell of a band!

Luke Helker

The Browning: Burn This World

Posted in Album Reviews on October 5, 2011 by lukesreviews1014

This is the debut full length release from a brand new metal band. This is a bit of a tricky one though because they are being called ground breaking for incorporating electronica/dubstep elements into deathcore music. This band are not groundbreaking though, despite what some people may say about this band. It’s true that electronica/dubstep has been long kept out of the realms of metal music, but one could debate that Fear Factory already started incorporating those bits into metal a long time ago. Enter Shikari have also introduced dubstep to screamo/hardcore music, so I wouldn’t say that The Browning are groundbreaking, but they’re still pushing the boundaries and adding to a new musical style thats still in its infancy. As for the band itself, they’re very heavy with brutal vocals even heavier guitar parts. Nothing very elaborate or technical and I would have liked to hear a little more dubstep in the album, but the band are still great and I think they’d be great live.

Now even though this is the first full length release by this band, The Browning have been around for a while actually releasing two separate EP’s prior to the release of “Burn this World.” Both EP’s featured a single that was rerecorded for the purpose of this album. “Standing on the Edge” and “Time Will Tell” were both released earlier as demos for the EPs prior to this and later rerecorded for this new album. I honestly like the first version of these songs more so than the way they were reproduced on this record. They were much heavier before and I feel like the rest of the album could have been a lot heavier. The album could also use a lot more electronica bits in it, but keeping in mind that this band just started to break through, this is a very strong effort and there’s always room for improvement.

The album is laced with heavy breakdowns, stomping tunes, crunchy guitars, deep vocals, all wrapped together with synths and electronica bits. It’s a new band taking another step in this ever-growing musical movement. I expect this band to get bigger soon depending on the reputation of their live shows and how consistent the band become. I also expect a lot of other bands following in the footsteps of this band and I imagine dubstep will become a much more integral part of the music business. We can already see some rising labels starting to get their share of some upstart dubstep artists (Skrillex is with a subsidary label associated with the Atlantic/Warner Bros. Company and Borgore is signed with Sumerian Records).

Like I said before this album is another step in “a direction” (i’m not going to say whether its the right or wrong direction but its a direction nonetheless) and I strongly believe that this type of music will start to surface more and more. Whether you like it or not, I would bet my right arm that there are at least three to five bands, doing very similar style of dubstep influenced metal, getting fairly big and put on decent tour slots in the next five years. The music business is always changing and dubstep is creeping its way into everything now. It’s finally becoming more apparent in music we thought it would never have crept into, so whats next?

Luke Helker