Archive for July, 2014

Within the Ruins: Phenomena

Posted in Album Reviews on July 21, 2014 by lukesreviews1014

There hasn’t been a lot of space in between when Within the Ruins released 2013’s Elite and this year’s Phenomena. This begs the question whether the band have been super productive and putting a lot of time and creative energy into crafting a stellar record or did they put some songs together in a fairly recent fashion as a means of maintaining some visibility. Personally, I think the latter option is what actually happened with this record.

Within the Ruins have created a loyal following for themselves over the years thanks to some crushing albums and the enrapturing melodies that inhabited them. There’s no doubt that Creature (2009) and Invade (2o1o) are great records full stop. Even the Omen EP, which came out in 2011, was strong. However, some might argue that while there was a fresh sound sonically for the band with Elite, there was also an equally stagnant point with the group’s songwriting. I found myself finding a few musical ideas repetitious and in some cases unmemorable. I think Phenomena features a lot of the same sound, now redundant song-writing, and seemingly no drive to push the envelope with what they’re creating.

Now that may seem harsh, but there are loads of other bands that have been leveling out for the past few years and I’m sure many bands will continue to do so. The sound that Within the Ruins have created for themselves, isn’t really unique to them at all, especially if you listen to Thy Art is Murder, Carnifex, or even Whitechapel (especially newer Whitechapel). Before you all riot on that last sentence, bear in mind I’m comparing the sound of these bands and not the actual song-writing in this case because I still believe Whitechapel take the cake in that respect with Thy Art is Murder at a close second. Regardless, I think it’s safe to say the sound of these group’s sonically is alike in many aspects and each group have the obvious defining characteristics that separate them from the herd.

My big issue though with this record is that I simply don’t need it, and that’s a pretty damaging thing to say about most bands. When I say that I mean that their first three albums and even bits of Omen and Elite are all I really need and this album is simply packed full of redundancies that I don’t need clogging up storage space on my computer or iPod. Don’t get me wrong. There are still some great moments and really badass hooks in the album, but they are too far and few in between to make me care enough about the record as a whole.

Overall, there are not a whole lot of redeeming qualities with this record for me besides the fact that I know the band are consistent with sound and a little too consistent with song structure, songwriting, etc. I’m not terribly surprised though because there are plenty of other bands out there releasing “safe” records in order to stay afloat and that’s fine. Whatever gets you going through the day.

Luke Helker

 

 

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Top 10 Albums of 2014 (So Far)

Posted in Lists on July 14, 2014 by lukesreviews1014

So far, 2014 has presented the world with a slew of new music from brand new artists and some already established acts as well. Some have been genre-defining while others are providing a new perspective to what you may or may not have thought about the artist. Either way, hopefully it is enjoyable to you and resonates to some capacity. Here are a few albums (5 metal and 5 “non-metal”) that I have really fallen in love with over the past few months.

*This list is in no particular order either

 

1. Behemoth – ‘The Satanist”

Here’s an album that I don’t think anyone could have really predicted. One reason being that the prospect of losing Nergal was a strong possibility and the other being that no one expected the album to be as good as it ended up becoming. It’s really leaps and bounds ahead of everything they’ve done in almost every aspect of the band.

2. Cynic – “Kindly Bent to Free Us”

While it’s a very clean album both vocally and lyrically, it’s still metal as fuck. It’s been such a long time since this band have put out a record and again, I think it was miles beyond what people have expected it to be. This was also a big for year for the band because their two guitar players both came out and have received loads of support from their contemporaries.

3. Killer Be Killed – Killer Be Killed

An amazing supergroup that turned out better than I had expected. Would love to know that there is more music planned in the future and that it wasn’t a Damned Things kind of project.

4. Mastodon – “Once More “Round the Sun”

This band simply does not put out bad material and with every album they continually expand their sound and grow as a band that it is almost incomprehensible. I believe the dramatic shift in the band’s style has not been wasted on their die-hard fans.

5.  Trap Them – “Blissfucker”

This band have always exemplified extraordinary rage and sheer brutality that has been unmatched by most bands in their own genre. From start to finish the album obliterates the listeners ears with unrelenting fury, reducing them to a violent, primitive state.

1. Eagulls – Eagulls

Here’s a new band that I think has really taken the college radio world by storm. Packed with hit song after hit song, I think the Eagulls will continue to have people talking for years to come as their career blossoms.

2. Elizabeth & The Catapult – “Like it Never Happened”

Having seen this group in concert a few months back really helps to put their music in perspective and has allowed me to really appreciate them as musicians. Really catchy and fun and they don’t take themselves too seriously, which is equally important. Great well-written record.

3. The Nels Cline Singers – Macroscope

Nothing more is to be said here other than it’s mind-blowing. If you’re a guitar player you need to study Nels’ style of playing and creating sounds on that guitar.

4. Pat Metheny – Kin

Another great jazzy-guitar based album that will surely inspire anyone who listens to it. It’s Pat Metheny so not much more needs to be said.

5. St. Vincent – St. Vincent

Keeping the guitar theme going, I hope that when Rolling Stone magazine redo’s their “Greatest guitar players” list, they put St. Vincent in. She’s actually wonderful and so is this album. Really worth looking into.

So that’s the list so far. There are still many many many albums to listen to between now and December that will more than likely change the final outcome for my Top 20 of the year. Til then, keep your eyes peeled.

Luke Helker