Wednesday, 25 June 2014

New Album Review Blog!

For all those that still check this blog, I have now made a new blog for my album reviews. The web address is:

www.rhythmofthewriting.blogspot.co.uk

Hope you all follow the upcoming reviews and spread the word!

Tom

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Sonisphere 2014: Long live metal!

It's that time of year again. The calendar's just turned its page towards a new year and more importantly, festivals are announcing their main acts. From what we've seen so far 2014 is set to be one of the biggest years yet. The return of Sonisphere in the UK has got us all on the edge of our seats, anticipating its arrival. Immediately "Team Soni" has the upper hand, with their surprise announcement of Iron Maiden and Metallica headlining the Saturday and Sunday respectively. The metal giants have played in the UK on numerous occasions but never together on the same bill.

This announcement has generally received positive views but the main criticism has been "Oh no, not Metallica again!" or similarly "This isn't Download 2013, why are Maiden playing?" So the question raised is what makes Sonisphere 2014 special and not a nostalgia act?

To begin, if anyone complains about seeing the two biggest metal bands on the planet playing at a festival, they're clearly not into the genre. Not only are they the pioneers and major influences worldwide, their live shows are full of energy like no other shows, as well as the accompaniment of the biggest and craziest stage sets.

Iron Maiden are closing their "Maiden England" tour this year and for those who missed out on it at Download 2013, you won't want to miss their only UK tour date in 2014. It's not often that bands offer the chance to see a show of this calibre at two different festivals two years in a row, so be sure not to miss out. The band are full of life and are going extremely strong despite being together for close to four decades. Iron Maiden make you feel proud to be British, and they wave the flag high when travelling around the world. Musically, they are easily one of the best in the business and there's no better way of appreciating a festival than singing along to "Run To The Hills" in a field full of tens of thousands of metal heads.

Next we have Metallica. The American legends are also playing their only UK tour date this year. As we know, Metallica like to vary their tours and sets and offer a number of surprises each time. Take Download 2012 as an example, when the band played their monumental album "Metallica" (also known as the Black album" in its entirety .... backwards! But this year they're offering fans to chance to  vote for the songs they want to hear for their "Metallica: By Request" tour. This is the ultimate opportunity for any backlash to be dismissed because potentially everybody will have something to enjoy from the setlist. And if that wasn't enough, Metallica will also be playing a new song. Yes that's correct, a NEW song. The band have been writing new material and are willing to share it when they go on tour this year. That is something you don't want to miss by any means.

So there you have it, just a couple of reasons to buy your tickets for Sonisphere 2014. The festival promises to bring us some of the best acts the world has to offer. Also, the return of the festival to Knebworth after a couple of year's absence is enough for any die-hard music fan to want to spend their weekend in July (4th-6th) in a muddy field, getting drunk and enjoying the atmosphere. Be there, or forever wish that you were part of the experience.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Avenged Sevenfold - Hail To The King

First question; where to begin? With an album like this, I honestly don't have a clue. Despite multiple warnings from the band about the change in musical direction, one would simply shrug off all suggestions and rumours of Avenged adjusting their sound to become an emulated product of their God-like ancestors, such as Iron Maiden, Metallica and the like. We would generally assume that Avenged would do what they normally do; produce an album full of non-stop, frantically fascinating metal songs with mind-blowing guitar solos and heavily syncopated drumming patterns as provided by late drummer "The Rev". They were a band who catered for their own niche market.

But with time comes change, and the warnings were true, oh so very true. The song structures have been simplified, the riffs are less complex, but without a doubt heavier than ever before and each song has potential to be a future classic. I will be providing a track by track breakdown and delving deep into the depths of the Avenged mindset when it came to making "Hail To The King".

My initial response after listening to the entire album first time round was one of bewilderment. I was inquisitive as to why they had made the choices they had, and I was letting it sink in that Avenged had moved on from the wild, bamboozling tracks from their previous albums that put them on the map. In my opinion, this is the equivalent of their "Black Album", a sort of commercial album that would cement the band in the top-tier of all metal bands. Immediately I was craving a track with a fast tempo, I was even craving some screaming vocals from M. Shadows. Hail To The King left me dumbfounded.

"It would grow on me" is the main message I repeated to myself, and I was hoping that would be the case. So with multiple listens came more hope, and I found myself being correct. This is an album that needed attention and a large amount of replays. Not only are there elements that cater to the original fans, albeit only a few, this will certainly make any doubters turn their heads and see Avenged's true talent and ability to draw in a huge market.

Track 1: Shepherd Of Fire

The opening track on any album always has to be the defining track. It must set the scene and provide an insight into the rest of the album. Although in this case I don't think it's a true representation of the album as a whole, many would probably disagree. The track begins with a riff that would definitely fit on previous album "Nightmare", it is slightly haunting as well as showing glimpses of Avenged becoming a heavier band. The vocal hooks are as strong as they always have been, and there is no denying as quirky as M. Shadows' vocals are, he is one of the best in the game. The guitar solo is slightly more stripped back than usual, it is not a case of guitarists Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance showing off anymore, they are crafting well thought-out solos, as opposed to scales being played at raging speed for the sake of it. Again, Avenged are thinking outside the box and the chilling use of a brass section blended into the background draws out a musically dexterous sound to the song.

Track 2: Hail To The King

The song that you all have heard by now, the first single released off the album and the title track. I absolutely loved this song when it first came out, but after listening to the whole album, I wouldn't even class it in my top 5 off the album. It is an incredibly catchy song and it will sound anthemic live. There are elements of 1980's era Iron Maiden and a lot of Dio mixed into Hail To The King. The guitar solo sounds like it came straight off of "Powerslave". Avenged have clearly done their homework and have studied the bands that have heavily influenced them, and have injected into their sound the best bits of each band.

Track 3: Doing The Time

One of the weaker songs, sounds like it could fit on the tail end of "City of Evil". It's a very rocker specific song, with blues elements incorporated. You could imagine "Doing The Time" blasting out your speakers whilst you're speeding down Route 66. This will be the main song that will attract an older audience who have previously neglected the band. Play this song to your Dad, he might like it. You never know.

Track 4: This Means War

Definitely one of the highlights of the album. It's a huge song right from the get-go. The main riff is crushing, with a direct influence from Metallica's "Sad But True". This song is the true definition of how a band can simplify their sound drastically, yet the end product is amazing. Everything about "This Means War" is spot-on. I can almost guarantee you'll be hearing this one live for years to come.

Track 5: Requiem

Now this is where things get interesting. The song kicks off with what I like to call a 'Satanic Choir', chanting ominously. Again, this is another song that proves how simple can mean effective. The song seems to have a "Ghost" vibe. They are a band who are notorious for their ridiculously crazy stage presence and dare I say, "evil" music. "Requiem" would fit perfectly into the soundtrack of any film based in post-apocalyptic times.

Track 6: Crimson Day

We've finally reached a soft moment on the album! If anyone says that the guitar tone doesn't remind them of Pantera, then they don't listen to enough metal. This song is a beautifully crafted tune, in the vein of "So Far Away" on their previous album. Lyrically one of the best songs on the album, it is magical to listen to. With Avenged, when it comes to softer songs, they are either amazing, or extremely cheesy. For example you'd either get an incredible song like "Crimson Day" or "So Far Away", or you'd end up with the bore that they call "Seize The Day". Sorry guys, it's just never been a favourite of mine.

Track 7: Heretic

Any song with the name "Heretic" in it, you'd automatically associate with mayhem. That rule still applies greatly for Avenged's "Heretic". This is the type of song you'd see fitting in with the Self Titled era Avenged. One of the only songs on the album which pretty much incorporates every aspect of their career. Also this is a track that will instantly become a favourite of yours, and it only gets better with every play. One for the old-school fans.

Track 8: Coming Home

Maiden. Maiden. Maiden. Did I mention Maiden? This is by far the clearest moment where an influence has been used in a song from Hail To The King. Lyrically, musically, everything about "Coming Home" stinks of Maiden (in a good way of course) Also this is proof of how the album gets better as it goes on. Enjoy this classic by Maiden ... I mean Avenged ...

Track 9: Planets

I still don't quite know what to make of "Planets". The riff is astonishingly brutal, but the song seems to lack consistency. It's one thing a song being heavy, but if there isn't any cohesion, then it won't work. Some people might enjoy the jagged nature of "Planets", but for me, it could have easily been left off the album, or worked on with the same care that every other track has.

Track 10: Acid Rain

It wouldn't be Avenged if they didn't close their album on a soft track. Acid Rain is another beautiful track, the melodies are alluring, the use of piano is reminiscent of the classic "Fiction". It is a perfect closer, definitely in the top 3 best songs on the album.

So that's my review of Hail To The King. Although in my opinion it is not quite as good overall as "Nightmare or the Self Titled album, it is still a testament to one of the best bands in the world today, making a statement of how they will become legendary.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Bullet For My Valentine - Live at the Camden Roundhouse 17/3/2013

Live Review #1:

I went to see Bullet For My Valentine perform in London last week. It was a gig that I've been looking forward to for a while just due to the fact that they're one of my favourite bands and also because I've never seen them live before. Despite their newest album 'Temper Temper' not being that great, it didn't change the fact I was still excited to hear their older tracks live.

Also, the Camden Roundhouse is by far my favourite venue. The acoustics in there are brilliant and you can still get a good view of the musicians wherever you stand. Whether you prefer to be right in amongst the mosh pits, or just on the sideline, you'll still have a great time.

So the first support act of the night was a Metalcore band called Miss May I. They burst onto the stage, filled with adrenaline and made an instant impact. They got everyone in the crowd jumping and head-banging as soon as the first song kicked in. Miss May I were undeniably heavy, and had a strong mix of shouting and melodic vocals, each from the front man and the bass player. The band really knew how to put on a good quality show, as well as being able to actually perform live. The guitar playing was scorching, especially the solos. Although they were only on for a short time, they still rocked the house.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Shortly after Miss May I departed the stage, Halestorm came on to perform. I've heard a couple of tracks from them before and they are a good band, basically what Paramore should have been. Female fronted bands often get criticised, particularly in the live scene, but Halestorm are a different kettle of fish. Opening with their classic 'Love Bites', it immediately sunk in that they were here to put on a stunning show. Everybody in the crowd warmed to them straight away, and we were stunned by how front woman Lzzy could hit them screeching high notes with absolute ease. They were energetic on stage and this reflected in how the crowd acted in accordance to the music. Again, they too were only playing for about half an hour or so, but they put on a fantastic performance and by this time the crowd were definitely pumped for Bullet.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Finally, at around 9:15pm, after a humorous sing-a-long to 'Delilah' by Tom Jones, the headliner, Bullet For My Valentine took to the stage, brutally opening with 'Breaking Point'. The crowd erupted in chaos from that moment onwards, and it was more or less non-stop from then on. But for me, the show truly started when 'Breaking Point' ended and the iconic riff from 'Your Betrayal' started. That's when the ball got rolling. The band sounded tighter than ever playing through the classics, and Matt Tuck's voice is the strongest it has been since the early days. It was indeed noticeable that the newer songs such as 'P.O.W' didn't have the same impact that the hits like 'Her Voice Resides" had.

A nice 'surprise' was Lzzy Hale joining Bullet to sing 'Dirty Little Secret', it provided a new depth for that song. Also I got partially excited when they played an excerpt of 'Take It Out On Me', all to not much avail. The main highlights for me were 'Waking The Demon' basically tearing the roof off of the venue, it was ridiculously heavy and had the place heating up. Of course, another strong point of the show was the sing-a-long during 'Tears Don't Fall', proving how loved that song is by the majority of ... the world. Bullet keeping 'Alone' in their set list was a brilliant move, the song fits in so well in their live set and is one of their best songs of recent times. Overall it was an extremely good gig, and you know a concert is great when you come out of it sweating. It shows how Bullet can take to any crowd and how much they have achieved over the years. I am looking forward to seeing them again at Download Festival, and it will be interesting to see if they can entertain a crowd that was much bigger than the one in London. Also I will be expecting pyro this time round. Here's hoping.

Rating: 9 out of 10

(Picture from rocksins.com)

Saturday, 23 March 2013

2000 Views! Another Milestone

Hello everyone,

Just wanted to share the great news that my blog's hit 2000 views! A fantastic achievement from someone who has been blogging for just over half a year. Thanks for all of the support and for the continuous amount of people I get reading my reviews on a daily basis. To show my appreciation, I am going to put out my first live concert review tomorrow to share with you all!

Hopefully you'll keep reading my blog as I have many exciting reviews planned.

Cheers,

Tom

P.S. I am well aware that it says 2001 views, I'm kind of gutted I couldn't capture it at 2000, but c'est la vie ....

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Mini Review (I.M.P) - Monks of Mellonwah - Sky and the Dark Night

The Monks of Mellonwah are a four-piece alternative band from Down Under (Australia) and have been heavily influenced by Rock giants such as Led Zeppelin, Muse and Pink Floyd. Their sound has evolved enormously over the years. They now depend on experimental elements combined with awesome, crushing riffs and melodic and euphoric synth pads.

The latest release from the band is their third EP, entitled 'Sky and the Dark Night'. It is a fantastic example of a band having fun making incredibly extrovert music. The sound is almost dance-like at some points, but blended in with the rock theme, it sounds completely cohesive throughout the short duration of the EP (only at 8 minutes). Although it is a short release, it is progressive in terms of genre and how much they manage to achieve in the duration of the EP.

Split into three songs, it's a journey through different aspects of what could be considered day and night, the moon and stars, anything with a natural and "out-of-this-world" connotation. Musically, it emulates the Muse vibe when they decided to include the 3 part "Exogenesis Symphonies" on 'The Resistance'.

I highly recommend downloading this EP when it gets released on the 1st of April. It is a breath-taking experience, whilst also remaining energetic enough to rock out to. For those of you who haven't heard of Monks of Mellonwah before, now is the perfect time to get to know them and to familiarise yourself with their back catalogue. They are currently working on a full-length album and it should be out this year.

Below are a couple of links to listen to the Monks of Mellonwah:


http://www.independentmusicpromotions.com/monks-mellonwah-stream-ep-sign-ar-worldwide/

http://monksofmellonwah.bandcamp.com/

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Bring Me The Horizon - Sempiternal

Horizons are broadening

Firstly, I'm finally back with a review! It's been a while, but admittedly I've been so busy with other work, that it's been the first opportunity I've had in a couple of weeks to review an album. What better album to review than a new Bring Me The Horizon album!

One of the most controversial bands of the last 10 years in British Metal, a band that have received so much hate and backlash during their career, and yet at the same time an incredible amount of love and respect from their forever growing fan base. Arguably in the Top Five biggest Metal bands in the UK at the moment, Bring Me The Horizon have a lot to live up to, and with their latest release, Sempiternal, have they managed to finally make an album that would be completely and utterly well-received by the public, and not just their own fan base? Or are they in-bound to receive yet more negative comments from angry Metal fans and Internet Trolls?

Without an ounce of bias being dripped into this review, I have never liked BMTH, I found Oli Sykes (lead "vocalist") to be a pretentious and often moronic character, and their music had not properly resonated with me. But being the nice guy that I am, I have decided to give them a chance and in doing so, have broadened my horizons (no pun intended) to try my best to engage with their music. In the past, it seems that when they crafted their songs, they hadn't really put 100% effort or thought into the musicality and lyrics, definitely in a similar vein to Bullet For My Valentine. However, from rumours that I heard before listening to Sempiternal, it was said that the album would have moments of Pink Floyd-esque genius. Now that made me feel particularly enthralled and ready to give the record a chance. Without further ado, I present you with my review of Sempiternal, and more importantly whether my opinion of the band has changed or not.

There I was, sitting comfortably with a pen in hand ready to make notes, my usual procedure. I proceed to click play on my laptop and as I do, I lean back in my chair and begin to listen to the album. No less than 30 seconds in, I had to double check to see what I was listening to. "This surely can't be BMTH" I pondered to myself with absolute surprise. The small amount I had heard led me to feeling ambiguity and astonishment. Such an immediate difference, with musical direction, with the fact that the screaming had generally disappeared and attempted, GOOD vocals by Mr Sykes were present. It almost seemed electronic in parts. So I let the album continue playing, and song by song it just felt like I was being proved wrong. This album has so many different elements and combinations of musical genres, it would be ideal for any audience, more or less. A prime example is the ambient, trippy moments of a track like "And The Snakes Start To Sing" which wouldn't be out of place on a Deftones or Pink Floyd album. Also, they have slightly stuck to their original sound with a couple of beat-down moments and heavier, crushing motifs. But for me, the definite element that stuck out more than anything is the fact that they aren't afraid to try and develop their sound, trying out new and exciting things. Each song sounded like its own entity, like being transported to another universe, each with a twist. With the exception of the last 3-4 songs on the album which sounded fairly similar to each other and repetitive in parts.

It is evident that this is by a country mile Bring Me The Horizon's best album to date. Obviously that's a personal preference, but from a general Metal/Rock fan's perspective, they would get more out of an album like this than one of their older albums (Suicide Season being the main example) After listening to all of the songs off of Sempiternal, it didn't particularly make me want to go back and listen to their older music, just because I know it would feel like an anti-climax compared to what I had just heard. It's not a case of ignorance, because I will give them a chance in the future, and I believe Sempiternal to be the best album I have heard this year so far. They have done British music proud, and at a time where Metal is on the rise in terms of the standard of top quality tracks and albums, BMTH have managed to meet and surpass the expected standards. Overall it is a very good album that has so much replay value. There are many songs on there that will be in their live roster for years to come. Anyone seeing BMTH during festival season will have the time of their lives going insane to tracks like 'Antivist'. And yes I thought it was called 'Anti-Virus' at first.

Stand-out tracks on the album: 'Can You Feel My Heart', 'And The Snakes Start To Sing' and 'Antivist'

Rating: 9 out of 10