Archive for August, 2012

The Faceless: Autotheism

Posted in Album Reviews on August 29, 2012 by lukesreviews1014

This is a really strong year for all things heavy and technical. This new album by California’s technical death metal masters, The Faceless, will literally rip your face off and leave you faceless. It’s extremely heavy and a real departure from their past two albums. It’s nice for them to change the pace a little and be a bit more progressive. It’s still genuine and unique as well as undeniably the Faceless, despite what some trolls might like to say on facebook or what have you. I personally think it’s the best thing the band have done up to this point and should chart highly in my end of the year list.

The album opens up with a three song suite (if you will). Very piano driven with a lot of clean vocals but plenty of growls. In fact, I’d say there are more aggressive vocals overall, but there is a healthy balance of clean vocals in there as well. Michael’s vocals have a bit of a 90’s hard rock/grunge twinge to them, kinda like Alice in Chains. They also still have those planetary, robotic vocal effects appear frequently on the album as well. I was completely satisfied with just those first three songs though, but then there’s so much more. The album is simply killer from start to finish. The don’t sacrifice anything or anything else, they just add and add and build upon what they’ve already done and have improved their songwriting ten fold. Wes Hauch is also quickly becoming the next big thing in the technical guitar world and listening to the record makes it very clear as to why that is. It’s all very precise and calculated.

I honestly have no complaints about this album. It’s fantastic and chalks up yet another victory for Sumerian records. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see them on the bill for next summer’s Mayhem Fest or something like that. They’re also still on the Summer Slaughter tour with the likes of Cannibal Corpse, Periphery, Between the Buried and Me and other fan favorites. If I had seen any of the shows, I’d talk about it but I haven’t and that makes me sad. Oh well. Better luck next time.

Luke Helker

 

Yellowcard: Southern Air

Posted in Album Reviews on August 27, 2012 by lukesreviews1014

Last year, Yellowcard put out a record that not only marked the return of a fantastic pop punk band, but also marked a new chapter in the band’s musical journey. To me, that album was the best thing the band have done since Ocean Avenue, and now the band have really stepped it up by releasing a new album in back to back years that is on the same level as last years album and Ocean Avenue as well.

Southern Air has made this revamp completely official at this point. It’s nice to see this band writing new and good music again after what seems like an eternity. Ocean Avenue came out almost ten years ago and everything the band did following that album up until their hiatus in 2008 was absolutely terrible. It’s almost like listening to a whole new band. The hiatus really did them good because all their songs are much more thought out, matured, but haven’t lost touch of their roots. They still sing about relationships, heartbreaks and summer vacations. I would even argue that “Always Summer” is the closest thing we’ll get to another “Ocean Avenue” from this new and improved band and that’s ok. “Ocean Avenue” was great back then and still is great, but we don’t want them to try to rewrite that album like what they did with Lights and Sounds and Paper Walls.

I really wish I had been able to see them back in the day when they were at the height of their career so that I can compare it to their show I saw this summer. They were part of this year’s Vans Warped Tour as one of the many rotating headliners and I gotta say, I was almost blown away by their performance. They really treated like a stadium show and they sounded absolutely dynamite. They played mainly songs from Ocean Avenue and When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes, but they did play “Always Summer”, which was well received since it had been released earlier and “Ocean Avenue” was obviously mental. Overall, not one of my favorites and I wasn’t really going in with any expectations to begin with, but they really surprised and I totally enjoyed their show. I’d definitely see them again.

I’m really glad that Yellowcard are back and I hope that they can keep pumping out some more killer records. They may never get back on top like they were in 2003, but just knowing they’re out there making every night feel like the perfect summer night is alright by me.

Luke Helker

200th Post Century Media Special

Posted in Album Reviews on August 22, 2012 by lukesreviews1014

Since this is my 200th post, I thought I might do something special and combine these two album reviews. Both bands are proud members of the Century Media family and have released some albums to be equally proud of. Wrestling superstar and metal aficionado Chris Jericho and his band Fozzy have released Sin and Bones, the bands fifth album and the voluptuous powerhouse Maria Brink’s band In this Moment have released their fourth album entitled Blood. Here are reviews of each. Enjoy.

Fozzy: Sin and Bones

I wouldn’t say I’m a real fan. I think it’s cool that Chris Jericho has been able to make a new name for himself outside of wrestling and is a true die-hard heavy metal fan. His music doesn’t sound like just a group of guys coming together to fulfill Jericho’s rich fantasy of being in a band. They all love what they do and they’re all extremely passionate about this music. While it might not be my cup of tea, it was music better than I initially thought it would be. There’s a lot of melody, some pretty heavy riffs and the vocals soar a lot throughout. It’s got a real hard rock/80’s metal feel to it, while sounding fresh and current. For a band that has been around for quite a while, I think it’s good that they’re finally starting to get some more attention (hopefully not for the wrong reasons) and rightfully so becuase these last two Fozzy albums have been the best of their career thus far. I think they’re a perfect fit for the Century Media label and if you’re fans of any of the other bands on the label, then you’ll most likely enjoy what Fozzy bring to the table.

In This Moment – Blood

While Fozzy’s new album might be giving them some new life and new exposure, I feel this band have pretty much ruin their course. I always they would never be bigger than the already were back in 2009 when they released The Dream and I would argue that they’ve plateaued since. That album really brought them out into the open and made them a fairly big festival draw. Then Star Crossed Wasteland came out and that might have gotten them new fans and was in my opinion my favorite album of theirs, but this has just killed all their momentum. To be fair though, they never had much momentum in the first place. They were always a mid level band (not even that really) and were never destined to really break through. Overall, I found this album to be over produced and a product of Maria Brink’s ever growing oppressive hold on the band. I guess we should have seen it coming because very album shows some sort of progression towards Maria having total control. You want examples? Ok. 1) They never showed band members on the album covers until now…and it’s just Maria. 2) There are little to no shredding guitar solos that the last album featured. Maria is sinmply pissing me off now. She’s a fraud. She sings about getting down and dirty with a hint of a seductive edge, but when you see her live, she just stands there and sings. She doesn’t try and portray this wild girl image at all. In fact she does the opposite. She tries to build herself as the Alice in Wonderland of contemporary radio metal. She’s an alright vocalist, but I just don’t care anymore. There are a few decent tracks on this album, but for the most part, i wouldn’t bother with this band anymore.

There you have it folks. Unfortunately, not a lot of praise on either end of the spectrum, but hey, this is all just one guys opinion. Just listen for yourself. Enjoy.

Luke Helker

While She Sleeps: This is the Six

Posted in Album Reviews on August 11, 2012 by lukesreviews1014

HO.LY. SHIT. I was not expecting this to come out of this band. I got While She Sleeps’ first album (which some might not even consider an album. It’s only 8 songs and so some consider it to be a mini-album) free with an issue of Metal Hammer magazine and I just thought it was alright. Nothing really new, but not quite a meat and potatoes act. While She Sleeps really stepped up their game big time and delivered a huge record. With this record, While She Sleeps are breaking the boundaries and pushing the envelope in what can loosely be described as metalcore music.

Most of you who already follow this band will have heard “Dead Behind these Eyes” because it was a free single released via facebook earlier this summer. Some of you might have also heard “Seven Hills” because they released the video for that a few weeks ago. If you’ve been waiting with bated breath to hear this rest of the album after hearing that and curious as to how the rest of the album holds up, let me assure you that it only gets better from there. Wall-to-wall bangers from start to fucking finish. It’s heavy as anything and it’s extremely aggressive, yet beautiful. The band usually through in instrumental interludes consisting of gang vocals shouting faintly over a piano solo. I know it bothers some people, but I don’t think it takes away form the album or questions their songwriting skills whatsoever. These songs are great and if we want to call this a debut album, then this is probably the best debut album in the past 5 years from a band like this.

I simply cannot stress how much I like this album and how strong this album is for my album of the year. It’s such a massive step up for this band and I think they will take 2013 by storm, especially when it comes time for summer festivals and concerts. I really want to see this band live now and see if their live performances are just as furious as these songs.

Luke Helker

Rob Zombie: Mondo Sex Head

Posted in Album Reviews on August 10, 2012 by lukesreviews1014

Generally, when metal bands make remix albums, they are usually shit and should have never been made in the first place, but Rob Zombie is no stranger to remix albums. Rob Zombie’s industrial metal music lends itself quite nicely to remixes because it already has a very dancy beat to most of the songs and is very consistent. Rob Zombie has already released two different remix albums for each one of his respective musical projects (Supersexy Swigin’ Sounds for White Zombie songs and American Music Made to Strip By for his solo work). Now he has released Mondo Sex Head which combines some White Zombie tracks with some solo songs on this new 18-track monster of a remix album. I’m not a huge fan of dance music in general, but there’s something about Zombie songs with that heavy bass beat underneath that makes is sound so…epic (for lack of a better word).

The album kicks off with JDevil’s (Jonathan Davis of Korn’s DJ name) remix of “Thunderkiss ’65”. It’s very spastic and in your face as are the first few songs on this album. Then it kinda dips and gets slower or less in your face and that’s honestly where the real jems are. The ones that aren’t real dubsteppy or heavy are actually quite good and are some of the better tracks this album has to offer. Personally, my favorites are more on the heavy side, but the “Living Dead Girl” remix (Living Dead Girl is my favorite Zombie song and one of my favorites on this album) isn’t very bass heavy and has a real House effect to it. I really like the Jungle vibe on the “Superbeast” remix and +++ (Crosses; Chino of Deftone’s side project) remix of Dragula is awesome as well. The album picks up again at the end and is back to being in your face and ends just as heavy as it started.

One thing I liked about the album was that the duplicates all sound completely different. What I mean by that is that there are three different “Thunderkiss ’65” remixes, two different “Pussy Liquor” and “Never Gonna Stop” remixes and each one takes on a different shape and adds a new perspective on the same song for each duplicate, which I think is great so that I don’t have to hear the same thing over and over again.

For someone who isn’t really a dance fan, this album showed me that dance music has a lot to offer outside of remixes and can take lots of different shapes as well as make one song sound completely different three times. I really liked this album and if you like to part then I’m sure you will too.

Luke Helker

Stuart Newman

Posted in AHP/Local Bands on August 10, 2012 by lukesreviews1014

Self proclaimed “mellow-rock” pessimist Stuart Newman is a singer/songwriter from the UK and has a message for all of you which is: “We’re all living in another dimension.”

Stuart Newman recently released his debut E.P. Bored of Idiot Chatter, a six song account of whats wrong with his generation and yet, gives hope to those who stick true to what they believe and listen to the music. He is a great artist with some simple, yet powerful songs behind him. He’s very personal, heartfelt and raw, which is why his songs carry so well. It’s very believable and you can’t help but be empathetic towards him because you know he’s for you as well as to you. Listening to the EP left me begging for more. I can’t wait to see these songs evolve more and with some tighter production behind those songs it could be huge.

It’s hard to gauge anyones longevity or future just an EP alone, but I think he’s got a good thing going for him and he’s on the right path. I’d like to see him perform live as well, but that might not happen for a while.

Luke Helker

A Lesser Hope

Posted in AHP/Local Bands on August 8, 2012 by lukesreviews1014

A Lesser Hope are a christian metalcore band hailing from Saint Louis, MO and spreading the word of god with every song. The band released their debut album, The Rise in July of 2012 and I have had the great pleasure of listening to it. I’m not very religious, but there are some christian metal band that make me feel oddly spiritual when I listen to them. A Lesser Hope is one of the bands. Combining complex, chugging guitar riffs with melodic vocals and an influential message, A Lesser Hope are one of the best bands in this genre to emerge in the last couple of years.

I could be totally wrong, but it seems to me that being a self-proclaimed christian metal or hardcore band is becoming more of a cool thing to do and is slowly starting to become over-saturated and over-populated with bands that don’t truly believe in what they are doing and are just coming up with run-of-the-mill material just so they have an in. This is the same for every genre of music, but I just feel that I’ve been seeing a lot more bands with the “christian-metal” banner under their name appear a lot more in recent years. Again, I could be missing something because I don’t a whole lot of attention there, but for the sake of continuing this review, lets just press on as is.

I wouldn’t say A Lesser Hope are doing anything new or reinventing the genre in any way, but I would say that they are doing it better than anyone I’ve heard in a long time. To me, they are right up there with War of Ages and As I Lay Dying. You can tell they really believe in what they are doing because the songs are just so good and at the end of the day, they write good songs and that’s all you need, regardless of what message you’re trying to convey.┬áThis band has a lot of potential and are on the right track to big success. They just need a bigger following and a larger fan base to support them. So go check them out whether you believe in god or not. They will certainly welcome you with open arms either way.

Luke Helker