Archive for February, 2013

Within the Ruins: Elite

Posted in Album Reviews on February 28, 2013 by lukesreviews1014

This is the third full length album from New England deathcore band, Within the Ruins. To me, this is a band that have been getting better and better with every record. Granted they only have three albums and an EP (I’m not counting material released pre-“Creature” because of the crazy lineup changes), but the third album is usually the experimental album for a band that have usually released two consistent records and are looking to branch out and I see nothing but good thing in this bands future.

This album features the band branching out and experimenting more with breakdowns, time signatures, and having to deal with only one guitar. Up til now, there has always been two guitars doing some really technical shit. Now that I can take a step back and look at the relationship the twin guitars had against just the solo guitar, I realize that this band only need one guitar because most of the twin guitar parts were doubled for extra meaty-ness as opposed to harmonically entwining two different leads or trying to create that type of effect. To me, the guitar is just as heavy on this record as any other and still extremely meaty (he also does a lot of Gojira-stlyed pick slides, which are kinda cool).

Other than that, there isn’t much to add other than I think it’s killer and totally worth the listen if you’ve liked their previous material. This record has been long overdue for me, but I’m glad I finally have it. You can catch Within the Ruins live this spring while they are on tour with After the Burial (one of my all-time favorites), The Contortionist, Cloudkicker and City in the Sea, all of which are phenomenal bands so do yourself a favor and GET INVOLVED!! You’ll thank me later.

Luke Helker

Bullet for my Valentine: Temper Temper

Posted in Album Reviews on February 28, 2013 by lukesreviews1014

Bullet for my Valentine have just released their newest record, Temper Temper, the highly anticipated follow-up to 2011’s Fever. This album doesn’t really showcase the band doing anything new (except for the short hair), but captures the band doing what they do best, however not as strong admittedly. I thought Fever was the perfect follow-up to Scream. Aim. Fire, which was a horrible album in my opinion and it really brought the band back en vogue the way The Poison generated such a tremendous following for them. Obviously, haters are gonna hate, but if you’ve liked anything this band have ever put out in the past there is no reason for you to not like this album.

My biggest issue with this album is that I think the singles are some of the weakest tracks on the record and are somewhat of a poor representation of what the album is really all about because some of my friends were bashing it and I hadn’t heard it yet, but now that I’ve heard that full album, I don’t really care too much for these singles (The title-track and “Riot”). “Temper Temper” is fine actually and I really dug that tune, but “Riot” sounds somewhat out of place for me. It’s a two-and-a-half minute song in with a shitty riff in my opinion and a lame chorus and I just know that the band are capable of delivering much larger choruses tat are more anthemic and there’s a bunch on this album alone that would be better candidates for single. I thought “Breaking Point” was killer as well as “Truth Hurts”, but “Dead to the World” and “P.O.W.” might be my favorites. “Riot” just seems out of place  to me; like a cookie cutter FM-radio/borderline metal band.

Two other really interesting tracks for me are “Tears Don’t Fall Part 2” and “Not Invincible.” “Not Invincible” is their thrashiest song ever and while a track like that may seem out of place because they don’t generally take their music that far, they really pulled it off in my opinion. “Tears Don’t Fall Part 2” is interesting because the original song that came out on The Poison, was so monumental and really struck a chord their diehard fans, that this new part was the song I really wanted to hear off this album to see what they do it. They kick it off with sustained guitars and bring into that iconic riff with some slight variations and then Tuck just screams “Let’s Go Again!” which is a brilliant play on the original…overall though, I wasn’t too enthralled by it. The tempo stays the same, the lyrics change obviously, but aside from a few guitar variations here and there and a different interlude/solo section, this part is like a copied and pasted version of the first, which is really disappointing. At least Slipknot and Metallica unplugged and added piano leads in their part 2’s and 3’s of their songs to throw some curve balls in there. I can’t even really say it would stand up on its own with a different title because it sounds too similar.

I honestly hope this review doesn’t give THAT BAD of an opinion on the record because I did really enjoy aside from the two main tracks that are in question. However, this album falls a little shorter than I anticipated considering how much I loved Fever, but I’ll still listen to this and i think you should too before trolling on facebook.

Luke Helker

Hatebreed: The Divinity of Purpose

Posted in Album Reviews on February 27, 2013 by lukesreviews1014

Even after a fairly long break in between records and even with the side-projects the band are involved in, metalcore titans Hatebreed are still able to release relentless, consistent, and absolutely crushing albums. The Divinity of Purpose is the newest installment to the bands catalog and is every bit as strong as anything they have to show for themselves (if not the best thus far).

Hatebreed adhere to a very simple philosophy in life and in their music: “stand your ground and fuck anyone who tries to stop you or get in your way. You are who you are and everyone else is just gonna have to deal with it.” More or less, that’s their basic creed and how their able to keep pumping out albums that don’t sound like a repetitious cycle of playing-it-safe I have no clue, but thank god they can do it because every album is always a great listen.

On 2009’s self-titled album, we saw the band start to depart from their original sound and experiment with things like clean singing and such. This album showcases some more of that as well as Jasta’s lyrical prose for being very direct and poignant. It seems as though every song is like some sort of call-to-arms and by the end of the album, you’ve already joined the fight and have claimed a few casualties of your own. Songs like “Honor Never Dies”, “Before the Fight Ends You”, “Put it to the Torch” and the title track are stormin tunes and arguably some of the best of their career.

If you can’t tell yet, I really dug that album. It’s Hatebreed though so you know you’re gonna love it and you know that when this band start touring, the place will be torn apart wherever they go and that is a stonewall fact. I’ve seen them live once before and am lucky to be able to write this review now. If you’re a fan of straightforward metal or hardcore music, there’s plenty of both in here for you (Gee, I guess that’s why the call it “metalcore”). If you don’t already know about this band then where the fuck have you been and what the fuck are you gonna do now…??!!!! (wink wink nudge nudge). Seriously, great record, great band. nuff said.

Luke Helker

Free Energy: Love Sign

Posted in Album Reviews on February 25, 2013 by lukesreviews1014

Philadelphia’s own indie-pop band, Free Energy, have proved that they know how to conserve energy and use it wisely. The band just released their sophomore album back in January of 2this to some very positive reviews, which is great since their debut album also got very positive reviews from those in the small, but ever-growing community familiar with this band.

The new album is called Love Sign and, to me, I think it’s a very natural, healthy progression for this band as they expand their catalog and move forward. The album kicks off with “Electric Fever”, a very cowbell-driven anthem much like the first track off of Stuck on Nothing (their debut album) with the song “Free Energy.” To me, this band’s sound and style encapsulate a very upbeat, happy, eternally optimistic group of guys just looking for a good time. They simply just want to rock and do everything on their own terms.

Funny enough, that’s how I first heard about this band. There was an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer about them and how they were adapting to the ever changing music industry and managing to build up a sizable audience completely on their own. Their debut album just came out and so I decided to check them out and really dug what they had to say. Everything about this band is fun welcoming; by the end you’ll be wanting to rock out with them.

Unfortunately, they’re still a fairly small band, but are managing to get around, playing a few California dates as we speak. Nevertheless, I highly recommend checking this band out if you like simplistic, pop rock riffs with a feel-good vibe that keeps you in a good mood no matter how miserable your day has been. The band now have two very solid albums with some real gems popping out including, but not limited to, “Dance All Night”, “Hangin”, and “True Love.” Do yourself a favor and check this band out.

Luke Helker

Meshuggah @ The TLA 2/14/13

Posted in Concert Reviews on February 17, 2013 by lukesreviews1014

Guess how I spent MY Valentines day?!?!

I traversed down to Philly to have my mind blown in ways I never thought were possible until now. A couple friends and I went to see Meshuggah play at the Theater of Living Arts (otherwise known as the TLA) with Animals as Leaders and Intronaut supporting. After the grueling car ride down through rush hour traffic, we made it to the venue and eagerly awaited the magic that was about to take shape on stage.

The first band to hit the stage were Intronaut, a century media band, which is somewhat surprising because most band on that label are either melodic death metal or power metal. They have recently been gathering bands that are more progressive and dare-I-say, more “djent” (ie: Monuments, Jeff Loomis, Vildhjarta, and TesseracT). I had heard of the band, but never listened to them before, but I thought they were fantastic. The guitar work and the vocal harmonies between Sacha and Dave were stellar and the rhythm section was absolutely ridiculous. Joe is a phenomenal bass player (and a really nice guy) and Danny is a killer kit player. The band also had a light show to rival every other band on the bill, with impressive lasers and trippy colors.

If you’ve never heard anyone randomly shout “TOSIN! ABASI!” before then you probably don’t know who Animals as Leaders are because Tosin Abasi is quickly rising to be one of the greatest and most influential guitar players to ever exist. But all the credit shouldn’t go only to Abasi because he’s got an incredible group of top-notch musicians helping him achieve his musical goals. Javier Reyes (guitar) and Matt Garstka (drums) help solidify animals as leaders as the trailblazers in this new wave of heavy, virtuoso guitar-playing. This was my first time seeing all of these bands actually so when Tosin played his first note, my jaw dropped to the floor and I couldn’t pick it up until after they finished. It was nothing short of mind-blowing.

As if the first bands weren’t enough, now I had Meshuggah to wait for. One of the all time greatest heavy metal bands as well as one of the most influential of all time. But there was a major problem. Lead singer Jens Kidman has been sick with the flu for some time now and has had to drop himself out of the shows. My friends and I were running so many possibilities of what was going to happen based off loads of rumors we heard and the like. Finally, Marten came out onstage and informed us that Jens’s evil-cardboard-cutout-twin would replace him on vocals as they played Jens’s studio voice through the PA. What’s funny is that the cardboard cutout moved just as much as they band. What’s scary is how extremely tight and precise this band are live. You obviously get that impression listening to the studio recordings, but live is a different beast entirely and they absolutely killed it like no other. Playing a blistering set of songs from the newest album (Koloss), the most popular album (obzen) and some older treasures, the band plowed through the set and proved that no obstacle can defeat this band. One cool little trick that the band pulled was inviting Sacha from Intronaut to come up and sing a song with the band. A huge boost for someone like Sacha as he sang “New Millenium Cyanide Christ”…and killed. It was a risky move, but I guess the band wouldn’t do it if he wasn’t able to because he nailed it.

What a special night overall considering the circumstances. Unfortunately I missed my train into Philly last Saturday night so I can’t give you a review of the Gojira show I was supposed to see. Oh well.

Bad Religion: True North

Posted in Album Reviews on February 5, 2013 by lukesreviews1014

L.A. punk rock icons, Bad Religion, have chalked up another album to add their extensive back catalog (this is the band’s sixteenth album to date), but to me, that’s all this album is…just another album. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s a really good album, getting well received and even broke the top 20 in the Billboard charts, but in the grand scheme of the band’s career, they’ve been sticking with a pretty consistent formula for over twenty years now. It’s not that I expect all that much either considering that they’re a punk band and that type of music isn’t necessarily meant to be groundbreaking, but after what 2012 had to offer and what some bands in 2013 might turn up, it would be nice to see the band push the envelope a little or throw us a curve ball.

For those die-hard fans out there, there’s no way you won’t dig it. It’s certainly a solid record. I’m sure you’re also glad that there even IS a record. For those confused faces out there, the band released a statement some time after 2010’s The Dissent of Man saying that  they’re going to “join the Navy, do honest work.” In 2012, they stated that they were entering the studio around June of 2012 and viola!

Admittedly, I’m not the hugest Bad Religion fan, so maybe that’s why I’m slightly apathetic towards it all. Personally, I’m quite content with listening to just The Empire Strikes First. I think that’s their best, but I also greatly enjoy, Stranger Than Fiction, Against the Grain, Recipe for Hate. True North is still, like I said, a very solid record indeed.

Check it out if you’re a die-hard fan; you won’t be disappointed. If you’ve never heard of this band before, you could start with this record, but I think Recipe for Hate might be the best reflection of the what the band are and what the band stand for. Even though it came at a critical and slightly disparate time for the band, it’s kinda become somewhat of a cult album among fans and even became the band’s highest charted album.

Luke Helker