Archive for March, 2012

Black Breath: Sentenced to Life

Posted in Album Reviews on March 28, 2012 by lukesreviews1014

I first heard about this band through a podcast that I listen to and still subscribe to. The two men on this particular podcast are both music journalists working for a magazine focused on highlighting heavy metal music. They kept banging on about how good this band were and so I finally decided to check them out…and they weren’t kidding, Combining crossover thrash music with a hardcore punk sensibility Black Breath are really a band like no other. Sentenced to Life marks the bands second studio album (plus a debut EP) in what will hopefully be a long and vicious career.

Sentenced to Life is a thirty minute, bang-your-head-like-no-other, torrent of a record, harking back to the days when Entombed and Slayer ruled the world. “Feast of the Damned” has a drum part resembling that of Slayer’s very own “Criminally Insane”. There’s so much metal packed into this record and yet it is released with a hardcore delivery like a pack of wild dogs trying to maul you limb from limb. The guitars are like a buzz saw mercilessly ripping through your flesh, while the drums pound your heart into the ground and then stomp on it again for good measure even after the album is done.

When Heavy Breathing first came out in 2010, I thought the band had really made a name for themselves with some of the sickest riffs of the year on that record. That album was a bit more groovy and dare I say, rock and roll. This album is just vicious in every sense of the word. The songs are shorter, it’s a bit more hardcore, and the whiplash that this record will give you will last the rest of the week. The band really only has one goal when it comes to this album and that is destroy every living thing in it’s path with its tornado of terror. Some stand out tacks to me on this record were “Sentenced to Life”, “Endless Corpse”, and “Obey”, which has one of the sickest twin guitar solos I’ve ever heard.

Just like the new Meshuggah record, there isn’t a dull moment on this record at all. In fact, the only dull moments were the spaces in between songs. I can only imagine how utterly insane the band are in a liver arena. If you ever get the chance, you better see this band play live. I’m sure they’ll absolutely slay it.

Luke Helker

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Meshuggah: Koloss

Posted in Album Reviews on March 28, 2012 by lukesreviews1014

HO. LY. SHIT! That’s all that need be said really about the newest release from swedish extreme metal band, Meshuggah. This is the seventh album by Meshuggah and arguably the bands best. It’s nice to see this band push through all of the bullshit about djent and bands ripping off  Meshuggah’s guitar tone and just doing what they do best – making badass heavy metal music!!!

This album is really a culmination of everything the band have worked for and achieved up to this point, but still sounds fresh and new. This album has all the organic brutality that has illuminated them since their inception and contains visceral, groove elements that make up the foundation of this masterpiece. There’s still all of those complex rhythms and syncopation, polyrhythmic riffs and yes that guitar tone that went on to define djent music is still at the helm of the band’s sound.

“The Hurt that Finds You First” is a real stand out track on this record. At break-neck speeds, the song combines the old with the new. Meshuggah’s early work was very fast and especially punishing on the double bass drums. The new Meshuggah is a lot more cerebral and at some points progressive in their approach to song structures and this song demonstrates those elements and techniques masterfully. Koloss in and of itself, is a lot more cerebral like obZen and just as grim as any other record from the past. “The Demon’s Name is Surveillance” is also a good example of the characteristics I just discussed.

“Do Not Look Down” and “Marrow” are also huge tracks, with rhythmic syncopation that could sever your spinal cord and “The Last Vigil” is a haunting and remorseful conclusion to an absolutely epic record. There is honestly not a dull moment at all and is just simply a beautiful work of art. Even though it’s been four years since obZen, the band show no signs of any wear or tear or losing steam of any sort. I really just can’t speak highly enough about this record. There’s nothing wrong with it in my eyes, but I don’t consider it to be a perfect record. It’s pretty damn close though.

Luke Helker

All Stars Tour 2012 Announcement

Posted in News on March 28, 2012 by lukesreviews1014

Today the All Stars Tour Facebook page added a photo of the official band setlist. Over the past week they’ve been posting videos  of bands that have been confirmed and now we have the official list. The bands are as follows (from least to greatest):

Obey the Brave

Betraying the Martyrs

Make Me Famous

Stray From the Path

For the Fallen Dreams

Attila

Stick to Your Guns

Winds of Plague

A Skylit Drive

I See Stars

The Word Alive

Suicide Silence

…and Dance Gavin Dance and Unearth on select dates

Personally, I’m not terribly impressed with this years set list. 1) There’s no real distinction of “teams” like there were last year and i really liked the idea of taking two similar, but contrasting styles of music and putting them together on a stage and having them go back and forth in a tournament-style fashion. 2) For me personally, I would only really go to see The Word Alive Winds of Plague, Stray From the Path and For the Fallen Dreams and I’ve already seen all of them. 3) Suicide Silence are overrated and the fact that they’re headlining is a real disappointment. Maybe I’m just biased because I was in love with every band on last years set and in my eyes, no future All Stars Tour could top that.

I See Stars, A Skylit Drive, and Stick to Your Guns are alright, but for me, it comes down to the fact that the only bands that I personally would want to see I’ve already seen and the bands I haven’t seen are bands aren’t enough to  make me want to pay for a ticket. If I get press for it, then I’d be more than happy to go, but I’m not really enticed personally.

Share your Opinions.

Luke Helker

The All-American Rejects: Kids in the Street

Posted in Album Reviews on March 27, 2012 by lukesreviews1014

I’ll be honest, I didn’t know this band had anything new coming out until about a month ago. Normally I find out about these things within three months advance, but this was kind of a last minute shock. I though these guys fell off the face of the earth. After the poor performance of When the World Come Down, following the defining moments on Move Along, I figured the band just called it a day. Nope! It’s been four years since the bands last release (just like Shinedown) and this is the bands fourth album (also like Shinedown!).

I’m listening to the album as I type this and as I’m writing this, I’m not sure if i like it. It’s really different from all their older albums and i’m not quite sure where it fits in. Before they were really pop punk with some alternative influences that started to come out on When the World Comes Down, but this album is really more relaxed, but still wanting to break out and run away. Unlike the last few records, this one is much more personal and actually tells a story and not just a collection of songs.

Those of you looking for hits like “Move Along” and “Gives You Hell” will be sorely disappointed. Instead of radio friendly hits, the band finally got their shit together and started writing SONGS!! Songs like “Someday’s Gone”, “Beekeeper’s Daughter”, and “Kids in the Street” capturing the simple pleasures of being a child and playing in the street. It’s a whimsical memoir of a time long gone by and engulfed in “the real word”.

Now that I’ve reached the end of this review and this album I have concluded that I really really like this record. Forget everything you know or thought you knew about this band. This is the new them. I’ll be honest, I thought I had this band figured out. I thought they’d thrown in the towel or were just gonna shit out some mediocre songs to try and maintain a level or public status, but boy was I proven wrong. This is exactly what I wanted the new Shinedown album to sound like, something really fresh and new. The problem is though, I don’t think this album will get nearly enough (if any) of the radio play that it deserves. Shinedown will of course because they’re album was the same thing as before (a good album, but the same thing), but I doubt these guys will, which is a shame because I thought this album was really strong and refreshing.

As far as I know, the band have no future tours or festival appearances, but if they come around your area, definitely check them out. I’ve never seen them live before and would love to see how these songs translate onto the live stage.

Good job guys, really good record. This is probably the biggest surprise of 2012. Who would have thought that The All-American Rejects were going to be the band to pull it off this year?

Luke Helker

Shinedown: Amaryllis

Posted in Album Reviews on March 27, 2012 by lukesreviews1014

It’s only been four years since The Sound of Madness, but it’s felt  like an eternity, making this follow up album (the band’s fourth studio album) very highly anticipated. I’ll be honest, I did not think the band would be able to deliver. I figured that they wouldn’t come anywhere close with this new record, but they did a really good job. In my opinion, it’s not nearly as good as The Sound of Madness is, but it’s still a got  really good selection of songs that I would recommend to any fan.

The album starts off just like The Sound of Madness – top three radio singles out the gate and in front leading the record (“Adrenaline”, “Bully”, “Amaryllis”). These songs are classic Shinedown songs in the same vein as every song off of the last record. However, with the exception of a few other tracks like “I’m Not Alright” (which features a whole horn section, which sounded cool, but i’m not sure if it really compliments the band that well) and “Unity”, I kinda found the album dipping in the middle.

Some of the middle songs sounded a little much like a cookie-cutter Shinedown song and the thing I liked about the last record was that every song sounded completely different, but still sounding the same, and every song was worthy of the radio. This album I think tries to be a little too much like that album. The singles are really good and I imagine half of these songs will still get significant radio play no matter what, but I feel like I’m listening to the same album all over again. Disappointment would be a little too harsh to say, but I guess maybe with the high anticipation from the last album, nothing can really top it in my mind. Thats the case with a lot of albums. The album alone will be brilliant, but because it followed an album that was monumental, the follow up record is automatically diminished because of that.

I’m sure there are some people out there who will find this album to be their new favorite and that’s totally reasonable. If you loved the last Shinedown record, there’s no reason whatsoever to not love this record also. I personally, just wouldn’t want too too many of these songs in a live set if I were to see them live.

Overall, I’ve got mixed feelings towards this record. It’s really good. I’d be a fool to try and argue that. But I think I wanted a little more from the band. Something new maybe? A little more songs like “Crow and the Butterfly” or “Second Chance” would have been nice. My big problem with this record though is that the band have claimed that this is supposed to be a testament to their past and a window to their future. The thing is though that this album sounds just like The Sound of Madness (which sounds a lot different from their two albums prior to that) and doesn’t offer anything new. They can’t become a band that just does the same thing over and over again. Unless your a band like Slayer or AC/DC where people only want one thing from you and nothing more, then fine, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, is a perfect statement for those bands, but not Shinedown, so be careful of that. I also think the album art is hideous, but that’s another story.

Luke Helker

Overkill: The Electric Age

Posted in Album Reviews on March 27, 2012 by lukesreviews1014

This is the 16th studio album from New Jersey thrash band Overkill. I’ve always felt like Overkill were pretty underrated as a thrash band seeing as when most people think of thrash music – 9 times out of ten the first band you think of is Slayer. But Overkill were extremely pivotal in the development in thrash music as well as all the other mid-tier thrash bands like Testament, Exodus, Sodom, Kreator, and Death Angel (just to name a few). I would also consider The Years of Decay to be a staple in terms of thrash metal and needs to be acknowledged in any thrash metal anthology.

This album however is not really on par with The Years of Decay and you know what? That’s totally fine. I don’t think any of the thrash bands of the 80s will be able to recreate the albums that they did back then and I’m pretty sure all the fans can understand that too. The bands are still putting out great records and aren’t changing their sound which is good, so as long as we don’t have another Diabolus in Musica, then I think everybody will be happy.

The Electric Age is like a classic Overkill record though, second best to The Years of Decay. Hey, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it right? It’s extremely fast yet fairly long as far as thrash albums go, clocking in at 50 minutes with the shortest song at 3:44. Moat songs are within the 6 minute range, which is like a marathon in thrash metal standards. The album is simply relentless and the guitar work is like a feeding frenzy. The solos are so mind-numbing and at break-neck speeds.

Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth’s vocals are on top form and are arguably the best they’ve ever been. It’s hard to believe that the band have been around since the 80’s because they’ve really been able to really manipulate todays modern technologies with the core of 80s thrash metal. The whole album is a lot of old school combining with the new. It’s a phenomenal record overall and even the most casual of metal fans needs to listen to it. It’s difficult to say whether or not it tops Ironbound. Ironbound had a lot of new ideas for the band and some people really liked it and some people really hated. I think it’s fair to say though that no matter what you feel about Ironbound, The Electric Age is much better. I really want this record to be in my top 20 albums of the year because Overkill are such a fantastic band and really deserve your respect, but fuck me 2012 has been quite the year. So many good records it’s gonna be a really tough list to make I can tell already.

Luke Helker

Ministry: Relapse

Posted in Album Reviews on March 27, 2012 by lukesreviews1014

This is the 12th studio album from Industrial Metal band Ministry and the first release since the band released their “final”album in 2007 and announced their reunion in late 2011. And even though it hasn’t been a while since the band split up, it’s felt like quite a while and this new album has been highly anticipated. It’s nice to see them reunite because Al Jourgensen, to me, has always been kinda like the last “character” in heavy music that hasn’t really changed or adapted to fit the molds of society.

The album opens up with “Ghouldiggers,” which is a big “Fuck You” to the music industry and symbolizes that the band are back on top and stronger than ever. After a two minute monologue of lead singer Al Jourgensen, the band rips in with a ferocious Industrial barrage of sound and doesn’t let up while Al repeatedly slates the industry. Like most of Jourgensen’s lyrics, there’s some political references. It’s not as obvious as it was on the bands last three albums (Houses of the Mole, Rio Grande Blood and The Last Sucker), but it’s still prevalent as well as some hits against Wall Street, record labels, and drug abuse (of course). Compared to the last three albums, which were all heavily fueled by Al’s hatred towards the Bush administration, I can’t help but feel like Al almost ran out of things to sing about.

The rest of the album continues with what is the bands fastest and heaviest album to date. It has also been rumored that Al was pretty much stoned the entire time while making this record, also making this the bands “Stoner” record (hence the very appropriate album title).

Overall, it’s difficult to say how I really feel about this album. My entry point for this band was The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste, which is a brilliant album and i feel like it’s really hard to top that album in my mind. I didn’t hate the last few records (otherwise known as the Bush Trilogy). However, I’ve heard a lot of negative reviews about this record, which I guess why I haven’t  heard a lot of hype about this particular reunion. After my listen, I’ll admit I wasn’t totally wowed by it. I thought it was pretty good even though it wasn’t the most memorable collection of songs that this band wrote. I would say that it’s not as good as the last three albums even though it sounds very similar. I guess I’ll have to listen to it a couple more times before I really determine how I feel about it.

Luke Helker