Saturday, 15 December 2012

Contact Details

It seems near impossible on here for people to contact me, so I've set up an email account where you can suggest albums for me to review, whether it is your own band or one of your favourite bands. Also if you wish to give me feedback about any of my reviews, then I'll read it and get back to you.

Email: tom.albumreview@hotmail.co.uk

Thanks, I'll be looking forward to hearing from you viewers.

Tom

Milestone - 1000 views! (or somewhat just over)

I've done it, I've bloody done it ...

3 months of reviewing has led me to getting my first 1000 views on this blog! I would like to thank each and every one of you who have read anything I have posted. Special thanks to http://blog.largeheartedboy.com/ for sharing my top 20 Albums of the Year review, it's got me a fair amount of hits from all over the world.

I'll be back in 2013, better than ever and with more reviews than you can shake a stick at (I've never understood that saying, but it felt necessary to use)

Enjoy the rest of the year, and let's hope the Mayans weren't right about the end of the world....

Tom

...and finally! Top 20 Albums of the Year - Part 2

This is the one you've all been waiting for; my top 10 albums of 2012! Enjoy as I take you on a journey from number #10 through to that glorious number 1 spot:

#10 - The Fusion Syndicate - The Fusion Syndicate

One of the most unique albums I have heard; involving producer Billy Sherwood (Google him), as he collaborates with some of the finest jazz, prog and fusion musicians in this living age. Usually I would find an album like this particularly dull, it would generally drag on and sound repetitive. But The Fusion Syndicate is absolutely of the finest calibre, the musicians resonate off of each other so majestically. The combination of genres work together in a way that leaves you feeling stunned. It is not your typically jazz fusion album. Each song is roughly 7 minutes, but the tracks take you on a musical journey of pure enlightenment. I urge you to step outside the box and give this one a listen, it is a homage to an underground genre of the 21st Century.

Molecular Breakdown - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPD0fJsGOPI

#9 - While She Sleeps - This Is The Six

And now for something completely different, coming from British hardcore band While She Sleeps. This is a band I only discovered this year, and I'm glad that I did. They are refreshing to the metal scene at a time when things were looking a bit desperate. They're now starting to create a bigger fan base, and are receiving praise from huge rock industries such as Kerrang!, after picking up the award for Best British Newcomer. Their album This Is The Six is a well polished record, showcasing what they're about; which is basically a clash of pure metal and hardcore, meaning that there is melody interweaved with the heavier elements. The name of the album 'the Six' is representing the five members of the band, plus the fans. This shows in the album as the fans are getting what they deserve; fantastic music from a band who will take the world by storm in the next few years. You heard it here first... or maybe second...

Seven Hills - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6K4TIFcmTc8

#8 - Lower Than Atlantis - Changing Tune

One of my favourite up and coming bands of the last few years have returned with yet again another classic album, in the form of Changing Tune. Releasing an album a year since their first one in 2010 is no easy task, especially if the aim is to put out an album that is progressively superior to the last, but consistency is no problem for these guys. With the right influences like Foo Fighters and Jimmy Eat World, Lower Than Atlantis are blowing up on the music scene right now. Front man Mike Duce is phenomenal, he is what music should be all about, as he illustrates an amazing imagery in his music and lyrics. For fans of good ol' rock music, with short and snappy tunes, Lower Than Atlantis are the band for you. Just like While She Sleeps, they are showing how British music is fighting back against the Americans.

Love Someone Else - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLNM9i-MmdE

#7 - Marilyn Manson - Born Villain

Here's an album I never thought I'd see in my top 20, let alone my top 10, but it is right in the midst of my list. For me, it is a huge return to form for the metal icon. Despite what his live performances may be like nowadays, this record does not disappoint. It is dark as you'd expect, the musicianship is powerful. The eeire parts of the tracks create a creepy atmosphere which flows throughout the album. Plus Manson doesn't sound half bad on the record. His voice still has that distinctive tone to it, and it works perfectly. If you thought Manson had fallen off like the rest of us, then maybe this album will prove to you that he's making a comeback. Antichrist Superstar standard? Maybe not, but it still is a high quality album, let's hope he doesn't butcher the songs live.

No Reflection - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuhgWXg4rw4

#6 - Every Time I Die - Ex Lives

Ah how it feels good to see Every Time I Die in my list! One of the craziest, exceptional bands in music history have returned with an incredible album, their sixth studio effort. It is exactly what you'd expect of them to have achieved, but to a higher level. By far their best record yet, and that is a huge call. Every song has a uniqueness about it like no other band can accomplish. Some parts are melodic and epic, other parts are crushing, and even more so, some parts are perfect sing-a-long/shout-a-long moments. The band are completely underrated, and they deserve a lot more recognition, and this album should draw in a bigger fan base and help this band reach their deserved heights of fame.

Revival Mode - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuhgWXg4rw4

#5 - Shotty Horroh - Shotty vs. Horroh; Battle in the Belly of the Beast

And now for the all important top 5. This one of something completely different to the rest of my list, as not only is it not an official 'album', is it also my only rap/hip-hop album in my top 20. Recently Manchester is known widely for its powerful surge of the arrival of amazing rap acts, but Shotty is by far the most talented lyricist, and one of the biggest names in the underground scene. Some people may know him just as a battle rapper, which he has a huge talent for which has taken him globally, but his music is what gets him most of his credit and praise. With his release earlier this year, there are 26 tracks which are incredibly produced and contain lyrics about the struggles of life, partying, and various other gritty topics. The lyrics are combined with flow and technicality which makes the whole thing that extra bit superb. Some music 'fans' frown upon the rap genre, but usually only because they're ignorant about it, how it isn't 'creative' and how they only talk about guns and violence. Well, they couldn't be more wrong. There are rappers out there who make fantastic tracks about subjects which are relevant to most people and Shotty Horroh is one of them. One day he'll break through to a wider audience, he deserves the credit he gets.

Zombie - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BA0pvsyQXQk

#4 - Axewound - Vultures

Back to the metal world, and here's an album that has completely blown me away. The 'supergroup', made up of Liam Cormier of Cancer Bats on lead vocals, Matt Tuck from Bullet For My Valentine on guitar and backing vocals, Mike Kingswood of Glamour of the Kill fame on guitar, Jason Bowld of Pitchshifter on drums and last but not least, ex Rise to Remain member Joe Copcutt playing bass. It is probably the album I have listened to the most this year, and surprisingly not in my top 3, but it shows the high standard of albums this year. This one is by no means an exception, as Vultures shows how well executed heavy music can be on a record. You feel the emotions of the band better on this record than any other record I've listened to this year. The guitar playing from both Matt Tuck and Mike Kingswood is outstanding, the riffs are great, but the solos are of a different kind. But the credit for the best solo on the album has to be given to guest guitar player Synster Gates (from Avenged Sevenfold) on the opening track, which is self titled. So overall an amazing album, to the point where if the members main bands stopped, then I'd be more than happy for Axewound to continue.

Exorchrist - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-Q9r6hIp-w

#3 - Tenacious D - Rize of the Fenix

Top 3 time, and who better to start it off than the almighty comedy duo Tenacious D! Everybody knows who Jack Black is, and how much of a genuis he is, and this reflects in all of Tenacious D's output. New album Rize of the Fenix is a journey of how far the band have come and how they have conquered all. The songs are just as funny as the old material, the lyrics are as insane and hilarious as ever, but musically I'd say this is their finest effort to date. JB's voice is golden, and seeing as he's not a classically trained singer, he does an awesome job. Kyle Gass (KG's) guitar playing is also an integral part of the duo's music, but of course they are aided with their backing band, who are hard rocking. "The nicest man in Rock n Roll" Mr Dave Grohl is on drums again for the album and it's safe to say we can see why he's one of the greatest drummers of all time. Tenacious D are as relevant as ever in 2012, and if like me you were lucky to see them live this year, then you'd know how amazing a show they put on. Pure entertainers and they love giving back to the dedicated fans.

Rize of the Fenix - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ls3rD8VfiSY

#2 - Stone Sour - House of Gold & Bones; Pt 1

An album I have reviewed a couple of months back, it has made it into my top 2. Such a brilliant album from one of my favourite metal bands. Such a clever concept record and an emotionally intelligent journey when listening to it. The music is the best the band have ever made and I'm excited for Part 2 in 2013. If you want to know more about the album, and you know you do, then check out my review of it!

Gone Sovereign/Absolute Zero - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1aikxaVCJk

#1 - Deftones - Koi No Yokan

It was probably predictable, but nevertheless it is here! My number 1 Album of the Year is from Deftones, with Koi No Yokan. This is another album I have previous reviewed in-depth, so please check out that review! This album shows a band who were struggling, making an album that has silenced all critics. Such a 'beautiful' album and if you haven't checked it out yet, then now is the time to do so, I'm not angry that you haven't, I'm just disappointed.

Tempest - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIgNBxNvAJg

So there you have it, my Top 20 Albums of the Year, and by far the most diverse list you'll see! Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it. I'll have plenty to review next year, but until then, enjoy the rest of 2012 and keep rocking!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

It's here! Top 20 Albums of the Year - Part 1

It's been tough, but I've finally managed to make a list of my favourite 20 albums of 2012! So I'm going to get straight into it and give you the countdown from number 20 to number 11:

#20 - The Darkness - Hot Cakes

As I've already explained in my review of the album, it is a massive return to form for the glam rock band. The album is full of hits and it is entertaining for the whole duration. The Darkness have made their return to the scene known, and therefore it just enters my list at number 20.

Keep Me Hanging On - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3omeCLAkwgc

#19 - Lamb of God - Resolution

I was hoping this would be higher in my list, but I've had to place it at number 19. It is a great album, and a step up from previous album Wrath. The song from this album 'Ghost Walking' is quite possibly my favourite song of this year, if you haven't heard it, then you need to get out of the hole you've been hiding in for the whole year. The fact this came out in January means that it was sitting highly on my list during 2012, but other albums have come out of nowhere this year and it has made Resolution fall off its pedestal. It's still a corker of an album, full of brutality and sounding like old school Lamb of God.

Ghost Walking - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BA3hPMhXnkY

#18 - Enter Shikari - A Flash Flood of Colour

An album I didn't think would make it into my list before hearing it is Enter Shikari's - A Flash Flood of Colour. But after playing it countless times throughout the year, it is evident that this album is a pure grower. It is bouncy, ruthless at times, and incorporates dance and dubstep elements better than any album I've heard this year. Fantastic musicianship throughout, solid drumming, and the gang vocals bring excitement to the British band. A job well done, and a sign of Enter Shikari maturing as a group.

Sssnakepit - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znQii6mB8Hw

#17 - Parkway Drive - Atlas

The Aussies have made a classic metalcore album this year, with their release; Atlas. Full of raw emotion, it is unlike any metalcore album I've heard in the last year or two. Again, if you haven't heard it or haven't read my review on it, please check it out. You won't regret it!

Dark Days - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7lpftvYDMA

#16 - Buckethead - Electric Sea

A slightly different choice of album, but nevertheless it makes my top 20. Buckethead is definitely one of the most underrated musicians to exist, and it's a travesty how he's not as well known as he deserves to be. His work rate is outstanding, he releases albums practically every day (well not quite) and each one represents a different side of him. But the quirky chicken man has decided to go back to his roots and release a counterpoint album to Electric Tears. Electric Sea is a beautiful album, one that displays an innovative skill of acoustic playing and dynamics used perfectly. Some may find this album boring, but you need to look further into it, consider what the music's connotations. It is a masterpiece, just like most of his discography, and I urge any fans of ambient, acoustic music to check this out.

Electric Sea - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCudXpXrIA8


#15 - Slash ft. Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators – Apocalyptic Love

 When my favourite singer, and favourite guitarist of all time decide to make an album together, you can gauge how excited I was when I heard about it. I gave it a few listens and thought it was a solid album, left it for a couple of months and then went back to it. It hit me much harder after leaving it. The album sounded completely cohesive, with Myles' voice and Slash and the band's instrumentation gelling extremely well. It is a complete throwback of 'Appetite' era Guns 'n' Roses, but with a modern twist. An enjoyable album and one that represents the importance of rock in 2012.

You're A Lie - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SZrJLMTO-8

#14 - Rush - Clockwork Angels

Yes, it's Rush, the Rush. They're still going, and stronger than ever! The prog legends are proving how important they are to the rock world, and with their release Clockwork Angels, they're not wrong. It feels as if they've delved deep into their previous works and pulled out some of their greatest elements and incorporated them into this album. Every member of the trio sounds fantastic and in top form. If you're a music fan, and you've never experienced prog, then check this record out. Also if you've been a prog head for years, then this won't disappoint you either. It proves that age is no limit to ability, unless if you're Lou Reed ... Get back to the nursing home, Lou.

Headlong Flight - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcFGrWjOX0E

#13 - Cancer Bats - Dead Set on Living

Wow. That's all that needs to be said at this point. The 'upbeat' album shows the band moving away from their darkest side lyrically, and adding some 'lighter' elements to their music. Good move. It is still crushing and heavy hitting, but it's now a product of something that little bit more special. It's hard to see how they got their influence from this album from non-metal bands, because this album just sounds so damn hardcore. Gnarly and gritty as can be. Plus Liam Cormier is one of my favourite frontmen of recent years. The album is not quite as good as their previous effort, but it's still a mighty good album. Hardcore at its best.

Bricks & Mortar - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aenlQ7r69lc

#12 - We Are The Ocean - Maybe Today, Maybe Tomorrow

 A phenomenal, up and coming(ish) band from the mighty county of Essex have continued a run of fantastic albums and surpassed everything they've done with their third release entitled Maybe Today, Maybe Tomorrow. It shows a band fighting through their struggles, as replacing the lead vocalist is never an easy task, but to make an album that's in my opinion their best to date is another entity in itself. A classic example of an awesome, modern rock band.

Bleed - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TXXkQHCMYo

#11 - Testament - Dark Roots of Earth

And finally, to wrap up the first half of my countdown, I present you with the best Thrash album of the year, coming from an unlikely source. I never really rated Testament that highly before Dark Roots of Earth, they had a couple of decent songs, but nothing that ever really got me into them. But then this album came out, and all of a sudden it clicked with me. From the first track onwards, I immediately thought; "Reign in Blood must have been quite the influence", but in hindsight, most Thrash sounds like that album. It's iconic. The change of tempos, double bass drumming, gritty vocals, etc. It seems that in 2012, Testament have nailed Thrash, and made it relevant once again. Sure, it's no Master of Puppets or Reign in Blood, but it's still a fantastic effort, something to be proud of. I'm now a fan of Testament, and that's a testament in itself.

Native Blood - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHyVbLMSO7k

I hope you've enjoyed Part 1 of my Albums of the Year, Part 2 to follow next week! - #10 - #1!

Monday, 3 December 2012

...So I've been gone a while...

Hey everyone,

As you may, or may not have noticed, there has been an extreme lack of rock albums, or decent albums in general released in the last couple of weeks, therefore I've had nothing to review and have used the last two weeks to compile my Top 20 Albums of the Year!

During this week I will have a Soundgarden - King Animal review for you guys because I have been late with listening to it, so I'll share my thoughts with you on that album within a day or two. At the weekend I'll post from albums#20-#11 of my AOTY list, with the second installment being posted the following week.

So sorry for the severe lack of reviews recently, but I'll be posting like crazy during the run-up to Christmas. Stay golden, readers.

Tom

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Top 20 Albums of the Year - coming soon!

Howdy y'all,

At some point in December, most probably half way through, I'm gonna make a list of my top 20 albums of 2012. Seeing as a lot of my favourite albums were from earlier this year, and I started my blog in August/September, I would like to share my opinions on some of my favourite albums that I've yet to mention on this page.

So keep a look out for my Top 20 list soon!

Tom

Monday, 19 November 2012

Example - The Evolution of Man

An Example of progress

This is a special occasion for my blog; this is my first non-rock album review, in the form of singer/rapper Example. Assuming that you didn't know, I have an expansive range of musical interests, anything from Rap to Rock, from Hip-Hop to House, I will give it a listen. So when I stumbled across Example a few years ago, it opened up my range of tastes that little bit more. Being from the London area, I listen to a fair amount of Grime music (imagine Rap, but with faster flows and harder hitting lyrics). I remember a while back when Example tried his hand in that industry, all to no avail as that wasn't his true scene. So when he became popular and 'commercially acceptable', he was making music that suited him perfectly. Slightly light-hearted rap mixed with dance and dubstep elements, and the catchiest chorus melodies.

I was in love with his last album 'Playing in the Shadows', it was a banger and it proved Example was ready to climb to the next level. So he didn't waste any time on working quickly on album number four, 'The Evolution of Man'. The main thing with Example is that he is fairly unpredictable with what he puts into his songs, no two songs sound completely the same. So bearing this in mind, I listened with an open mind to his newest effort.

To start off with, we hear 'Come Taste The Rainbow', produced by dubstep artist Benga. It kicks off with palm muted guitar, supported with a melodic motif. Example's vocals join in, low in pitch, which for me isn't his best vocal range, he has a great mid range voice. Then the typical drum roll appears and Example begins rapping. He has a fantastic flow and intricately weaved lines. However the further we get into the song, when the rapping stops and practically the same hook repeats throughout the rest of the song, it feels slightly dull, and not necessarily the best tune to have as an album opener. Second song, and second single of the album 'Close Enemies' picks up from where the last album left off. The opening hook is typical Example, catchy vocals, attached with a solid, bouncy dance beat. This song would have fitted perfectly on 'Playing in the Shadows' and shows how Example has kept his best elements and used them on 'The Evolution of Man'. Clever wordplay such as 'She was a girl on film, Duran Duran' keeps the music exciting and displays Example's lyrical skill.

As the album progresses, I noticed a lot of guitar being used. He always used it in a couple of songs, but on this album it seems to be in a fair amount of songs. It supports the dance beats and dubsteps moments well, even though the dubstep moments seem slightly weaker on this album than the last one, but they were used sparsely on 'Playing in the Shadows', which made it seem more effective. Every song seems as if it would be played in a club in Ibiza, each song has a strong, pounding beat that would get you jumping. The song 'Queen of Your Dreams' has emotional lyrics, obviously about love. But it is effective and shows Example being diverse in what he preaches about. The title track 'The Evolution of Man' is the song that is least like the rest on this album. It's slower, with no real dance features. The equivalent of the song 'Microphone' on his previous album. In general seems darker and dare I say 'heavier'. It's not as soft as anything he's done before, but the fact it's edgy means it makes it so much more interesting. The anthemic song 'Are You Sitting Comfortably?' has for my money one of the best producers; Skream producing the track. It is an aggressive, eerie tune that shows Example stepping up his rap game.

This album to me is about Example doing what he does extremely well, but mixing it up a bit more. To the ignorant critics, it would seem like a generic dance influenced rap album, but once you delve in and give it a couple of listens, it is completely full of energy and shows Example doing his thing successfully. The highlight for me is his first single 'Say Nothing', it is a breath of fresh air for modern music, and possibly Example at his best. Other than that, I wouldn't say this album is as good as his previous album, but it surpasses his earlier albums and shows how much he's progressed since the 'Kickstarts' days. Definitely worth a listen and a guaranteed grower.

Stand-out tracks on this album: 'Close Enemies', 'Say Nothing' and 'Are You Sitting Comfortably?'

Rating: 7 out of 10

Monday, 12 November 2012

Deftones - Koi No Yokan

WARNING: Contains Killer Songs

They're back! Deftones have returned with their newest studio album 'Koi No Yokan' - which translates as 'promise of love' (taken from a Japanese proverb). Although it's only been 2 years since their last album 'Diamond Eyes', some fans felt it was a bit lacklustre and that the band had found it incredibly tough to continue writing epic songs without bassist Chi Cheng, who was in a severe coma, but fortunately has recovered now. So they made this new album hoping that it would gain Chi's approval, as well as the fans.

To start with, I will say it's different to the majority of their other albums. They have taken an approach of a more relaxed and melancholy sound which works very well. It almost seems trippy in parts, like a cross between Tool and Opeth, just without the progressive elements. The album begins with the track 'Swerve City'. It's an incredibly bouncy tune packed with a punch. It's the kind of song that you'd expect them to open with in their live shows. The transition from song to song on this album is possibly the smoothest on any Deftones album ever, as the whole record seems immensely cohesive, like an epic voyage. The heavier moments, such as the songs 'Leathers' and 'Gauze' have solid chugging guitar riffs, empowered by vocalist Chino Moreno, blasting out ominous lyrics such as “Time to let everything inside show” in the song 'Leathers'. The screams are gritty, full of passion. However, not all the songs contain screaming, the clean vocals give the album a calmer vibe at times and make the album that bit more accessible. Every song has a distinctive part about them, they all sound fairly different, yet you can tell that they all belong on the same album. Deftones have basically perfected mid/slow tempo metal music, it doesn't ever sound boring or repetitive, simply blissful.

Usually, albums with a similar sound to 'Koi No Yokan' are hard to get into on the first listen as they generally require more concentration and exposure. However this album, each song hits you with full force instantly. It completely surprises you because every song is pure genius. As they say; "All killer, no filler". I was partly a Deftones fan before this album, we all knew the classic songs such as "My Own Summer", but after hearing this record, I am completely converted. The song "Tempest" is a genuinely amazing song, the sound is like a mixture of "Sober" by Tool with Dream Theater-esque vocals.

This is undoubtedly one of the only albums I've heard this year with an 100% classic song rate, there is not one song on this album that wouldn't appeal to any metal or rock fan. Deftones have covered all bases on the album and will definitely bring in a new audience. For me, it is such an improvement on their previous albums, and the best thing they've released since 'White Pony'. Hopefully people will agree with me on that statement after listening to 'Koi No Yokan'. It will be on repeat for at least a couple of weeks. Now you've read this review, stop wasting your time and go listen to the album now! An amazing comeback from one of the most underrated metal bands of all time. One day they will reach the dizzy heights of huge arenas and headlining festivals, we can all hope.

Stand-out tracks on this album: I would like to say every track, but if I had to pick a top three I'd choose - "Swerve City", "Tempest" and "Leathers".

Rating: 10 out of 10 (Probably my first and only 10 this year)

Thursday, 8 November 2012

All That Remains - A War You Cannot Win

A War of Metalcore

I've got another metalcore review for you guys, this time in the form of the American band All That Remains, with their sixth studio effort called 'A War You Cannot Win'. For those of you who aren't familiar with 'metalcore', it is basically a sub-genre of metal. It is a mixture of extreme metal and punk/hardcore. All That Remains are one of the most successful metalcore bands, with their style edging towards the more 'metal' side, as opposed to the punk side. This album is a prime example of how metalcore should be done. But I will elaborate on how it is both successful, and some of the downfalls of 'A War You Cannot Win'.

Firstly, I will start with a criticism, and it is only one word; Generic. The album opens with what is possibly the most repeated metalcore riff ever, or at least sounds like about 90% of existing metalcore riffs. However, that can be a good thing because it makes the songs much more memorable, and I suppose catchy too. The upbeat nature of the album means that it's one of those that will lift your spirits and get your head banging up and down, fairly rapidly. The rhythm section of All That Remains is definitely one of the best components of the band, it is unbelievably solid, the drummer gets a round of applause for the pure stamina he must have when banging out them beats accompanied with the ferocious double bass pedal. Even the simple drum beats provided swagger to the songs. I particularly enjoyed the 'gang vocals', it gave the album an underground vibe and created a sense of built up anger that has been waiting to be unleashed. Both the screaming and clean vocals were surprisingly as good as each other. The clean vocals at times sounded like Corey Taylor (of Slipknot and Stone Sour fame) only with more of a twang. The screams are spine tingling, raw with pure emotion. All That Remains seemed to have a point to prove with this album, and they fulfilled it. The guitar work on this album is particularly outstanding, although simple at times, the harmonising is effective and shows a classy side to metal.

Their single 'Stand Up' is an anthem about ... well ... standing up. It conveys a powerful message, and this song seems to be the most commercial on the record. Therefore this will be the song that gets played at the rock clubs around the world, as well as on all the rock music channels and radio stations.

The main thing that I can say is that if you're a fan of Bullet For My Valentine, you'll love this band and this album. I believe this to be true because I am a huge Bullet fan. All That Remains just seem to be the American equivalent, only with a heavier influence (I hear elements of Pantera and Lamb of God in 'A War You Cannot Win'). For me, Bullet have marginally better songs and sound slightly less generic. Also to add, 'A War You Cannot Win' has one of my favourite album artworks this year, I'm a sucker for any war-related album covers. But anyway, if you enjoy short and sweet, but powerful songs from bands who are breaking through in the 21st Century, then this album is for you. All That Remains shall remain around for a while.

Stand-out tracks on this album: 'A Call To All Non-Believers', 'Asking Too Much' and 'A War You Cannot Win' (Title Track)

Rating: 8 out of 10

500 Page Views!

My blog has reached 500 views! Thanks to everyone who's read it, whether it's only once or regularly. I will continue to post reviews regularly for all of you to enjoy and I will be setting up a Facebook or Twitter page where you can send me your thoughts on my reviews, as well as albums you'd like to see me review in the future!

Thanks for reading!
Tom

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Neurosis - Honor Found In Decay

Doom and Gloom

It's always fun when you discover a band you've never really come into contact with before. You've heard the name, but never the music. Well this is what happened to me with Neurosis. I did some background research on them and discovered that they've existed for a mighty long time, since 1985. They originally were a punk rock/hardcore band whose sound diverted to doom metal with a folk influence.

Their new album called 'Honor Found in Decay' was released in late October and is their tenth studio album. It is most definitely a doom metal album, very dark and ambient sounding. Honestly it's one of the slowest metal albums I've ever listened to. Most of the album sounds like someone playing an old Slayer vinyl on the slowest setting. In a way it's a good thing because it fits the concept of the album completely, however I prefer the upbeat, and speedier side of the genre. The sludgy, down tuned guitar and hard-hitting drums accompany the pain-filled, shouting vocals in a way which sounds pleasing to the ear. Additionally, the use of dynamics throughout the record, but particularly in the 10 minute epic "At The Well" are so precisely placed. The louder, heavier parts hit you with full force, whereas the softer moments are delicate, like it's music that can aid stress. The closing song on the album entitled 'Raise The Dawn' was the highlight for me. It was a shorter track that had a sudden energy burst, I would consider it a better track to open the album with though.

It's unfortunately not an album I can spend a lot of time talking about because there is not a lot that goes on throughout it, despite its length of an hour (and 47 seconds). I think you a specialist taste or requirement to be able to consider the album a classic. For most fans of rock and metal music, it is an album that can be appreciated as a good effort, but it's nothing ground-breaking, nor that exciting. I understand that doom metal needs to be slow and 'ploddy', but there is no reason why it can't contain elements of excitement, just something slightly edgy that can make the genre, or particularly Neurosis, be seen in a whole new light. To conclude, it had moments of promise but generally it felt like I was listening to the same song for an hour. This will definitely appeal to doom metal fans, but for the rest of us, it'll just be seen as an average album.

Stand-out tracks on this album: 'At The Well' and 'Raise The Dawn'

Rating: 5 out of 10

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Aerosmith - Music From Another Dimension!

Who Said Rock Was Dead?

Two concepts I never thought I'd see together; Aerosmith and 2012. Not only that but a new studio album, aren't we in for a treat! I must say, I was very, very sceptical when the news broke about Aerosmith making and releasing their 15th, yes 15th, studio album; their first in 8 years. It was purely because of how old and worn out they've become over the last decade or so. There were a number of difficulties amongst certain band members, for example Steven Tyler's clash with the band after the hospital/falling off stage incident a few years back. Also the throat surgery he had made us all worried that his voice wouldn't be able to hold up for much longer. Although I was sceptical, I can't pretend that I wasn't eager to hear 'Music From Another Dimension!'. Here's what I had to say:

Aerosmith are by far one of the most successful and well-known rock bands of all time, anyone who argues that it is a complete moron. They have maintained this sense of prestige, and rightly so. But the question still remains as to why they have decided to put out an album in an era when they are not seen as relevant? My answer is that are still seen as vital, maybe only to some, but they have decided to release this record to prove that they are still the greatest in the Rock world.

The album begins with your typical Aerosmith guitar riff, supported by Steven Tyler frantically expressing his feelings on love, hence the outlandish name 'Love XXX'. You would be correct in saying that this song had a Beatles vibe to it, and that's because Mr Lennon's son Julian features on the track with his backing vocals. As we progress through the album, there are key features we can pick up on that are typically rock'n'roll. For example, the swagger-filled, swinging drum beats, the screeching vocals, that sound brilliant for an old man, the guitar and bass contains that 'old school' Aerosmith tone, but you wouldn't have it any other way. It creates a 70's/80's atmosphere that would take you back to your Rock party days and this album is purely nostalgic. Another surprise on the album is Mr A-Lister himself, Johnny Depp provides further backing vocals on the track 'Freedom Fighter', a politically fuelled song, it resembles something of a parliamentary debate, only with added guitars. The catchy tune entitled 'Legendary Child' reminds me of 'Paradise City', and this is because of a particular nuance in the song. Even the ballad moments (such as 'What Could Have Been Love') are fairly similar to their classic 'I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing', but obviously not quite as good.

I think the main thing that stands out on the album for me is that although you can tell the album is primarily aimed at an older generation of music fans, the lyrics strike me as being current, and relevant to a younger audience. As a whole, the album doesn't sound forced. It doesn't sound like a band who hate each others guts have entered a studio and have made an album just to gain a few quid. Even if that potentially may be the case, it is safe to say we can enjoy the album for what it is.

My only criticism will be, some of the songs seem a bit too long, and slightly repetitive, but they may become better and catchier with a few more listens. OK, and maybe there are a  couple too many ballads. Apart from that, Aerosmith have produced a decent album in 2012. Not many people would think that could happen, but it certainly has. Well done old geezers.

Stand-out tracks on this album: "Oh Yeah", "What Could Have Been Love" and "Street Jesus"

Rating: 7 out of 10

Monday, 5 November 2012

Parkway Drive - Atlas

New Parkway Drive album, At-las(t)

Hopefully you've forgiven me for the terrible pun and now you've convinced yourself into reading the review, undeniably the heaviest album I have reviewed. So let's begin!

It is the return of the Australian metalcore band Parkway Drive with their fourth studio album 'Atlas' and they have 'mapped' themselves back onto the current metal scene. Again, sorry for another awful pun. Their previous album 'Deep Blue' was well received and generally loved amongst hardcore fans of the band, so a follow-up of the album had to be just as solid as 'Deep Blue' with promises of it surpassing and becoming the band's best album to date.

Well the first comment I have to make about 'Atlas' is that the beatdowns are back, and better than ever. They don't all feel repetitive, each one has its own flair and sound more edgy than their earlier attempts. It is fair to say that when it comes to metalcore, Parkway Drive are renowned as one of the greatest to do it. I have to agree, especially after hearing this album. The brutality of each song is exciting and feels like a sudden adrenaline rush that makes you want to punch a lion. Of course, I don't condone hitting mammals. The record seems more diverse than their other records. They have slightly stepped out of their comfort zone and what would usually be seen as 'generic' has been greatly developed and thought through to make it sound as unique as possible, yet still recognisably Parkway Drive.

The ferocity of the instruments is simply outstanding, however there are melodic nuances that intertwine with the heavier riffs perfectly. The guitar solos are both energetic and refreshing, you feel like headbanging when they kick in, but also the melodies are a pleasure to hear. The drums pound through your entire body, just as you would expect. There are a couple of tracks on the album that are extremely reminiscent of a 'Dark Side of the Moon' era Pink Floyd. The opener 'Sparks' and the introduction to 'The River' have sublime acoustic/clean moments which sound as soothing as can be. Also, to be noted, lead vocalist (screamer) Winston McCall's voice is very dynamic and fits in brilliantly with the band, as well the backing vocals in some of the songs. They are executed perfectly in my opinion, most metalcore bands sound forced and have no real passion or emotion, but Parkway Drive seem to have a real determination to make their music the best. Their work rate is commendable.

The lyrics suit the general vibe of the band, they talk about the world with a pinch of hatred. It presents an overall emotion that flows through the rest of the album.

Overall I would say this is a relatively enjoyable album, a very good comeback from Parkway Drive.

Stand-out tracks on this album: 'The River' and 'The Slow Surrender'

Rating: 8 out of 10

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Coheed and Cambria - The Afterman: Ascension

Welcome Home, Prog!

Before I start, I'll admit I haven't really heard much of Coheed and Cambria before. I had only heard their song 'Welcome Home' which is a belter of a track, and I knew they had a very loyal, and hard-rocking fan base, so I didn't have a lot of prior knowledge to go by when listening to their latest effort 'The Afterman: Ascension'.

For those who are unfamiliar with the band, they are an American band who formed in 1995, and are a mixture of progressive rock, metal and post-hardcore. The vocalist has a mental voice and his range is fairly extraordinary. Also his hair is something special.

Again, as with the Stone Sour album I previously reviewed, this album is part of a double concept album too. Instead this time, the focus is on the Amory Wars; a fight between the Kilgannons and Wilhelm Ryan. It's a heroic journey full of intricately created characters. But now on to the actual content of the record:

The beginning of the album starts with this beautifully played piano section, aided by eerie, almost robotic-like spoken word. Then the transition begins to the second track, and the delay effect from the guitar kicks in, as does everything else and then the unique vocals are introduced as the album begins its journey. You can tell the band have carefully thought this record through, because it seems to be incredibly cohesive throughout and also they have taken the time to create a perfectly produced album. Normally I don't care too much about production, but it is noticeable that The Afterman is made to sound like an Odyssey, a pure hallucinogenic-esque trip. The musicianship is very strong, the band members know how to play the hell out of their instruments.

I will say I am a sucker for a lot of prog music, especially pioneers such as Dream Theater and Rush. This album has moments that are not only inspired by these bands, but certainly compete with them to be just as iconic. There isn't a real comparison I can make to their older work, but this album definitely makes me want to listen to their other material. It shows that prog music is relevant in 2012.

To conclude, it is a solid album for a band who haven't quite broken the mainstream, but this may help them be noted. The sequel to this record, entitled 'The Afterman: Descension' is expected to be released in February 2013, so not long to wait. This album is not necessary aimed at the typical Dungeons & Dragons 'geeks', but it is aimed at those who appreciate good quality music with a great storyline.

Stand-out tracks on this album: Key Entity Extraction I: Domino the Destitute, Key Entity Extraction IV: Evagria the Faithful

Rating: 7 out of 10

Friday, 26 October 2012

Muse - The 2nd Law

Freddie Mercury / Skrillex Tribute Act

I'll be completely honest; I was very apprehensive about listening to this record, for a number of reasons. When I heard Muse were releasing a new album, of course I was extremely excited, but when they mentioned they would add elements of Dubstep, Dance and various other obscure genres, I immediately panicked. Don't get me wrong, I love Dubstep, but I couldn't imagine it working in a Muse album. But I gave them the benefit of the doubt and gave 'The 2nd Law' a listen.

When I saw Muse live at Wembley Stadium roughly 2 years ago, I thought it was one of the best gigs I've ever been to. Everything from the atmosphere of 90,000 fans singing along to anthems such as 'Plug in Baby', to the astounding stage effects, and the pure musicianship of the trio. So I was hoping for anything reminiscent of their older work on this new album.

Well, I was surprised. The one thing I didn't expect from an experimental Muse album was for it to be boring, but unfortunately that's all I could think when listening to it. I hoped and prayed it would be somewhat exciting and atmospheric, but I didn't get what I wished for. Musically, it was competent, but there was no feel of extravaganza. It almost felt too safe, which is surprising seeing as it was meant to be Muse taking a new direction. The whole album screamed out 'Queen' (the band, not the old bird sitting on the throne) As we know, singer Matt Bellamy has a massive man-crush on the great Freddie Mercury, however at times this record just felt like a pure rip-off of Queen.

Now to answer the question you've been dying to ask; how did the Dubstep elements fit in? Well my answer is they were probably the highlight of the album. When it got to the tracks that escaped the cheesy sounds of 1960's rock, the modern sounds of Dubstep gave the album a slight boost. In a way it worked, but nothing groundbreaking. Korn's Dubstep inspired album 'The Path of Totality' is one you would wanna listen to, so you can hear the hybrid of genres work successfully.

So overall, a decent attempt at something new by one of the world's greatest bands, but it is nothing that is revolutionary.

Stand-out tracks: Survival (yes it gets more catchy the more you listen to it) Unsustainable.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Stone Sour - House of Gold & Bones; pt.1

Stone Sour, turned Sweet

I was very excited to hear this album, as I am a fairly big Stone Sour fan, but even more so a massive Corey Taylor (lead vocalist) fan. The album is the first installment of a double concept album. It's a tale about a man who is on a journey to seek happiness, after battling the trauma of heartbreak. The background information made me really eager to listen to it, and now that I have, I will share my thoughts with you.

The opening track called 'Gone Sovereign' pretty much sets the scene for the whole album. A dark, eerie song about the lead character's life and own emotion. We can sense the intensity of his life from the heavy guitar riffs and the strain in Corey's voice. The band convey the emotion fantastically throughout, we grasp a real connection with the story. The lyrics portray a narrative that is not only beautifully crafted, but leaves a genuine message about morality.

Stone Sour have stepped their game up and gone out of their comfort zone to produce for what I believe is their best album yet. The soft, angelic acoustic parts provide a smooth contrast with the gut-wrenching killer riffs and aggressive vocals. The fourth song on the album, entitled 'The Travellers, Pt.1' is an incredible song, albeit that it's only 2 and a half minutes long, that ties together the heavier moments of the album to make the whole thing flow. Musically, guitarist Jim Root has improved immensely, his solos are filled with raw emotion. The music supports the story so well and it sounds as natural as if they were going to make a regular studio record.

House of Gold & Bones; Pt.1 leaves you feeling amazed, and waiting in anticipation for Part 2, which is said to be released in May 2013. The underdogs of the Hard Rock world, who always lived in Slipknot's shadow, have come out into the limelight and have proved to any critics that they can compete with any band and claim their place as the next best and biggest thing in their genre. A fantastic album, and for my money, the best thing I've heard this year. Roll on 2013!

Stand-out tracks are: Absolute Zero, The Travellers Pt.1, My Name Is Allen.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Review Requests

If you have any albums/singles you would like me to review, please leave a comment and I'll get reviewing them a.s.a.p!

Thanks,
Tom

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Linkin Park - Living Things


Burning Down The Barriers

By now most of you reading this would have heard this album, but for those who haven't, or for those who have just given up (no pun intended) on Linkin Park, you might want to give this a quick read.

We can all admit that there won't be an album with Linkin Park's name on it that will ever be as good as the astounding, ball-breaking debut "Hybrid Theory", but this is about as close as we'll get to Linkin Park showing some kind of return to form. Their previous effort "A Thousand Suns" got most people raging inside. How can a band whose first two albums were so incredible, have a downfall and release a sub-par album that sounded like they didn't have a clue what true direction they wanted to take. The mainstream fans mildy enjoyed it. The avid 'been fans from day one' crew felt like part of them died. No one should be made to listen to "Robot Boy".

However, there's been a twist of fate on "Living Things" as the band have seen a a guiding light shining in front of them. Yes, the electronic noises are still there, but this time used slightly more appropriately and decisively. We can forgive them though because some of the screaming vocals and crunching guitars that they were famous for at the beginning have made a return in full force. "Lost In The Echo" is easily one of the best LP songs of the last 5 or so years. A perfectly blended mix of all the elements that make a great modern Rock/Electronic song. I feel that the aggression they lacked in the last album is back, the gritty sounds just make all that difference in reviving their Nu-Metal roots. Mike Shinoda's rapping is no longer embarrasing, and of all the members, he seems to be the one who has made the biggest impact on this album, making sure it is appealing and frankly not appauling. There seems to be a theme in the lyrics about love and loss, but not in the traditionally, soppy sense. You can feel the emotions running through the music, and their darkened vision is seen throughout. It is so dark at times, the album should have been called "A Thousand Moons".

Stand-out tracks are: "Lost In The Echo", "Victimized" and "Powerless"

Overall a very decent album for a band who shouldn't be seen as a laughing stock in the Rock and Metal world, but should be seen as legendary.

Rating: 7 out of 10

The Darkness - Hot Cakes

I Believe In A Thing Called Glam-Rock Revival

The glitter and glamour has re-entered the rock scene, with The Darkness' newest release 'Hot Cakes'; their first album since 2005. It is fair to say this was a highly anticipated album, due to the fact that it had been so long since The Darkness were together as a unit, we were hoping to expect them to hit the studio and write an album full of classics, just like 'Permission to Land'. We got what we expected for the most part. We all ask the same question though: "Why the hell is the album called Hot Cakes?"

The album begins with the aptly named 'Every Inch Of You' which contains the screechy, high-pitched vocals this band are renowned for. The duel lead guitar lines have returned, greater than ever, as the band sound just as good as they did when they hit the big time. Each song is so typically a glam-revival, it is exactly what is needed in Rock at this moment in time, a bit of life and laughter, and who better to bring it back than the legendary 'Kings of Cheese'. The parody feeling is still in existence, as Justin Hawkins and his wonderous moustache are taking control once again of bringing pure fun to the music world. The lyrics are as inappropriate as ever, each song contain some type of euphemism, which to be fair is what we love about the band. The album itself feels more cohesive than the previous two, there seems to be less filler and more fun-filled tracks. The band sound tighter together, it seems as if they can be taken more seriously by the public than before. Although they do not care about public perception, and purely on their loyal fanbase. This album smashes all negative expectations out the way, because it is an extremely solid record with quality, upbeat tunes, just made more enjoyable by them AC/DC influenced riffs.

To summarise, if you were a Darkness fan before, you'll love it. If you weren't a fan originally, then you either don't recognise good ol' fashion Glam Rock that gets everyone in the mood for rocking out, or this will convert you and you can join the rest of the Rock world when they are dancing to these bangers at festivals around the world. 

Stand-out tracks on this album are: "With A Woman", "Everybody Have A Good Time". Also their cover of the Radiohead song "Street Spirit (Fade Out) will be one that splits opinions, with the Radiohead fans questioning their own 'morals' before listening to The Darkness' take on the hit.

Rating: 8 out of 10