Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Very End - Turn Off The World (2012)

Last year I encountered a lot of new artist I have never heard about. One of these bands was the very interesting band called The Very End. These germans impressed me on their latest release ("Mercy & Misery") with a solid mix of true heavy metal and a sense of darkness in both the lyrics and music. So my expectations for "Turn Off The World" was fairly high since the band hooked me right away in their last offering. And sure enough, they hooked me again on this album.

"Turn Off The World" is a lot like its predecessor but the band has taken their music one step further. This album with the song "Splinters", a song that switches between the english and german language while thundering on a heavy groove. I did like the music but was there really necessary to mix their native language with english? Would it not be better if they followed through with one language instead of two? Well fortunately, this was the only track with german lyrics (no offense Germany). After that we got "Iron Sky". A song that shows what The Very End is all about. Heavy riffs, a good mix between harsch and clean vocals and an addictive chorus that you will instantly like. And to top it off, we also got a beautiful and great guitar solo. Such a great song.

Is the band slowing down after that starting onslaught? Hell no! Instead, they keep pressing that pedal to the metal. "Infidel" is a simple but effective song that is probably the catchiest in the entire album, "Dreadnaught" is a slower track but does a great job to catch the attention and then we have the amazing and emotional "Maelstorm Calling", probably one of the best songs I have heard all year. Now there is not only great songs in "Turn Off The World". We got two speedbumps in this otherwise smooth and fast road. The first one is "The Black Fix", a song that tries to be as heavy as possible but fails with that goal. The second bump is "Gravity", the only song on this record that uses only harsch vocals. Now I have nothing against Björn Goosses vocal abilities but I like it more when he mixes his styles on the tracks. Just like in "The Black Fix", "Gravity" tries to be really hard but does not succeed with its task. They are not horrible songs but they are clearly the weakest on this album.

The Very End goes from strength to strength. "Turn Off The World" takes the band one step further in their development and one step higher on the heavy metal ladder. This album is very even and strong and if the band keeps it going on this rate I will not be surprised if they get really big in about 5-10 years. I really hope they do 'cause they deserve it with their unique style and power. And by the way, that is one of the coolest cover so far this year.

Songs worthy of recognition: Maelstorm Calling, Iron Sky, Infidel

Rating: 9/10 Splinters

Monday, November 26, 2012

Destruction - Spiritual Genocide (2012)

Germany is probably the greatest country when it comes to teutonic thrash. My mouth starts to water when I hear band names like Kreator, Sodom and of course, Destruction. "Spiritual Genocide" is the band's 12th offering in 30 years. But for some reason I had a bad feeling about "Spiritual Genocide". I did not know why I felt like I did, I just had a hint that this album would not be as good as its predecessor ("Day of Reckoning").

Anyhow, you can not take away the fact that the band is very skilled at what they are doing. Mike is riffing his ass off and he does it good. Too bad that most of the riffs on this album is pretty similar but I think it is the production that should be the blame for that. Vaaver is blasting his way through the tracks behind his drum kit and Schmier's voice is as thrashy as ever. Great stuff. Unfortunately, the bands sounds somewhat dull. That is because the production is not what it should have been. I am sorry, but the producer did not suceed of unleashing the full potential of the band. I mean, the music on "Spiritual Genocide" is great but the semi-poor production drags the music down. It is truly a shame since this album could have been one of Destructions best albums up to date. I am, however, not surprised that the production is substandard because the band started recording this album as late as in August this year. You can really feel that the finished product has been rushed to make the dead line.

But let us set the production a side for a moment and instead focus on the music itself. Just like in "Day of Reckoning", the best songs on "Spiritual Genocide" are those songs that has speed, innovative riffs and striking choruses. There are a couple of them on this record but I felt that there could have been at least two more songs of that kind on this album. In other words, we got fillers on this album. One filler is "Renegades", a songs that seems to be going nowhere. There is no stable ground for this song to stand on and even though the solos are sweet they are way too short. Another filler is the pretty slow and predictable "Carnivore". But there are songs that is rising to the occasion like the ending song, "Under Violent Sledge". A perfect example on how Destruction's music should sound like. Fast, heavy and so thrashy so you feel it in to the bone. Without a doubt the best song on the entire album. Other fine moments are the title track whcih delivers a knockout of a chorus and the tempo shifting "To Dust You Will Decay".

 So yeah, Destruction keeps on rolling after 30 years of loyal hard work. Even though I would not consider "Spiritual Genocide" as the band's finest moment, this album is probably one of the best the band has released during the 21st century. A solid pack of heavy and thrashy songs. But next time I would appriciate that the band took its time to complete their next album. "Spiritual Genocide" could have been better if the band took at least another two or three months to develope the production and the mixing. Oh well, here's for the next 30 years!!!

Songs worthy of recognition: Under Violent Sledge, To Dust You Will Decay, Spiritual Genocide

Rating: 7,5/10 Carnivores

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Geoff Tate - Kings & Thieves (2012)

So, Geoff Tate finally got kicked out of Queensrÿche. Well I could definetely see that coming. Even though Geoff is an extremely talented singer he was literally suffocating his former band these last years. Have you listened to their latest album ("Dedicated To Chaos")? If you have not then I highly recommend that you stay away from that album. "Dedicated To Chaos" is so dull and uninspiring that I wanted to kill myself. Well, now have Geoff released his second solo album (the first one was released in 2002 and was self titled). An album that will show in what direction Geoff will take from now on. Will he continue on what he started on "Dedicated To Chaos" or will he take on a completely different route to develope his music?

After one full listen of "Kings & Thieves" I started thinking. "Is it even worth listening to this album at least one more time?". "Kings & Thieves" has so many influences from "Dedicated To Chaos" that it just bugs the hell out of me. It is almost like they were identical twins. But there are a couple of things that makes "Kings & Thieves" superior to "Dedicated To Chaos". First off, the overall quality is a bit higher here and the consistency is better. Then I also think that "Kings & Thieves" has more guitar in the sound, something "Dedicated To Chaos" lacked a lot of. One thing that this album does not have  that "Dedicated To Chaos" had is a great song. Yes, one song on that album stood out and that song was "Retail Therapy". A great song that is catchy and groovy.

The only songs on "Kings & Thieves" that stands out is some of the more worse songs. One of these are "The Way I Roll". An complete embarrasment to the name Geoff Tate. Nothing more to say there. Other songs that you should stay away from is the boring and wailing "Tomorrow", the weird and awkward "Take A Bullet" and the completely empty "In The Dirt". There is actually only one song that is worthy a listen and that song is the opener of this album, "She Slipped Away". An acceptable groove whit a good chorus. Also like the keyboard on this song.

Well after listening to "Kings & Thieves" I can assure that Queensrÿche made a good decission on dropping their lead singer. He is good but the songs are not. So slow and sluggish that it actually encourages the listener to shoot himself. It is not as bad as "Dedicated To Chaos" but that does not mean that it is a good album. No it is horrible and it belongs in a thrash bin. So screw you Geoff. I am going home and I am not taking this album with me.

Songs worthy of Recognition: She Slipped Away

Rating: 3/10 Tomorrows

Monday, November 19, 2012

Dream Theater - Images And Words (1992)

Every great band has at least one album that has a legendary status. An album that set the foundation for the bands success. Iron Maiden has "The Number of The Beast", Slayer has "Reign In Blood" and Helloween has "Keeper of The Seven Keys" Part 1 and 2. "Images And Words" is by many considered the album by Dream Theater that led them to what they are today. Released in 1992, "Images And Words" was the first album with James LaBrie as the singer. An improvement from Charlie Dominici? I would say yes but I think that Dream Theater could have gone with either one of them. Both Charlie and James are competent and powerful singers. Enough chit chat, on to the review.

The opener is the highly praised "Pull Me Under". And no wonder why it became the only song by Dream Theater that reached over top 10 on the hit charts. The song opens up in a great mood and shifts pace from time to time on the 8 minute running time. The song is epic, grand and has three short but sweet guitar solos. But the best part of the song is the ultra epic chorus. Talk about using your voice to the max James. Continuing the album is the ballad "Another Day". In later years, Dream Theater's ballads has been shifting from good to bland and horrible. But when listening to "Another Day" (and the other ballads on this album) I realize why the band is still making ballads. "Another Day" is powerful and brings out emotions, something any good ballad does. The strong opening does not end there. After "Another Day" comes "Take The Time". This song has a unusual verse and a straight forward chorus. But then we also have a super long and sweet solo that ties the bag on this song perfectly.

After those three songs, "Images And Words" looses some speed and strength but that does not mean the rest of the songs sounds horrible. The only song in this album that is close to being bad is "Surrounded". That songs fits more in a Sonic the hedgehog game than a DT album. Now this album has two really epic works. The first one is "Metropolis - Part 1. "The Miracle And The Sleeper"", and yes, it is the predecessor to the album "Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory". Now I have not listened to the second part but if that album is as epic and versataile as Part 1, I will be a happy camper when I am going to listen to that album. The other song is "Learning To Live", a 11 and a half minute long song that is a great song to conclude the album. Even though it is not as good as some of the other songs on this record I really like the mellow mood during the entire song.

So yeah, "Images And Words" definetely deserves its legendary status. It is an album filled with great musicianship and exciting songs. But is it a perfect album? No, I would not think so. "Images And Words" does not have enough muscles to reach that high on the rating scale. But it is certainly an album to remember.

Songs worthy of recognition: Pull Me Under, Take The Time, Metropolis - Pt. 1 "The Miracle And The Sleeper"

Rating: 9/10 Glass Moons

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Green Day - !DOS! (2012)

So here is the second of the three albums that Green Day is releasing this year. The first album had some speedy intentions but did not deliver all the way. And if you are going to believe the classic "count up your reasons law", this album should be the worst of the three ( for those of you who are not familiar with this law, you speak your second strongest reason first, then your weakest reason and finally, your strongest reason is saved for last.), something the cover may be hinting. On the cover we find the basist Mike Dirnt. And you all know that the basist is the more anonymous band member in 9 out of 10 cases. Well, hopefully this album will be the exception that proves the rule.

Just like its predecessor, the sound of "!DOS!" is reminding me of the "American Idiot" era. It was a good era but an era that led to the bands downfall. A downfall you can clearly hear on this album. The band is trying and trying but I can not find any signs of originality. It is like they have copied the songs from "American Idiot" and "Warning!", changed the lyrics and put these songs in three seperate albums. The only thing that could have saved this album is that the songs was above average against what they have released during the 21st century. Some songs are above and some songs are below. But there is one song that is at rock bottom. The song "Nightlife" is probably the worst piece of s**t I have ever heard from Green Day. What the hell were they thinking? First off, Billie Joe sounds like he is on drugs (is this the reason why he is on rehab?). Second off, the beat is slow and really boring. But the worst thing is that in the middle of the song a singer called Lady Cobra (also appears on the song with the same name). Horrible and slow singing. Where did they found this girl? Please, take her back to where she came from.

Otherwise, the songs on "!DOS!" are very similar to the ones on "!UNO!". Nothing surprising but it would be nice with three different albums instead of three albums that are alike. Show us that you are truly creative and versitile instead of showing what you are comfortable with. Think outside the box. Even though there is no shock in this record, the overall sound of the album (except for "Nightlife") is okay. It is typical Green Day punk-pop. But just as I predicted, this album is more anonymous than "!UNO!". I have a harder time remembering the songs and the riffs which is always a bad sign. The band is doing their job like a self playing piano. Good but nothing we have not heard before from the band.

If we compare "!UNO!" and "!DOS!", I would put "!UNO!" higher than "!DOS!". A better overall performance and higher tops is the dealbreaker. Just like the "reason law", the second album from Green Day's three album series is probably the weakest (we will find that one out when "!TRE!" is released) of the three. Mostly because it has the worst song made by any band that is even near punk but also because of the lack of individuality. Step it up boys. Let loose on the third album please.

Songs worthy of recognition: Ashley, Makeout Party

Rating: 4,5/10 Lazy Bones

Monday, November 12, 2012

Green Day - !UNO! (2012)

First off, NO I do not know how to turn one of those explenation marks upside down. That is why I just said f**k it and made both explenation marks normal. Enough of my incompetence on the keyboard. "!UNO!" is the first of three album released in 2012 by the american pop-punk band Green Day. Really not sure why they would make three albums in such short amount of time. Maybe they had to many ideas in their heads that had to get out. Maybe it is a concept series (which I highly doubt). Maybe they got this idea while getting high. I do not know and I do not care. Ever since the mega success called "American Idiot", Green Day has been riding a spiral that leads the band towards the pop world. I do not even see the band as punk anymore. They have totally lost it. So my expectations for "!UNO!" was very low, especially since their last album, "21st Century Breakdown", was a complete mess.

There was a tiny part of myself that hoped that the band would go back to their glory days. The days where they actually were a punk band. Not surprisingly, that little part died as soon I heard this album. It is not an horrible album but it is certainly not punk. The song that is closest is probably the first song on this album ("Nuclear Family"). It is a good catchy song that has a decent amount of speed. Another song that catches my good side is the fun, but very repetetive, "Let Yourself Go". But there ends the fun stuff. Most of the other songs are either boring or just completly weird. Take my advice and do not listen to these following songs. "Oh Love" (never heard a more boring first single ever. And first singles are usually boring), "Sweet 16" (lyrics is just complete garbage) and last, but certainly not least, "Kill The DJ" (WTF!! This is not Green Day. It is something from a shitty teen movie). I am pretty confident that Billie Joe, Mike and Tre was very high when writing these songs. And btw, I wish Billie Joe all luck when he is on rehab. I though have to admit that what he did at the Iheartradio festival. Yeah right he is no Justin F*****g Bieber. He deserves so much more (Billie Joe, not Bieber).

But if we look in the overall picture, "!UNO!" is an album that fits in the middle of the pack. Despite having three of the worst songs Green Day ever has put out on an album, "!UNO!" is like a light version of "American Idiot". It has some hit songs but the material on this album is not enough to bring it all home. I am very curious what the upcoming albums "!DOS" and "!TRE!" has in store. Hopefully they bring more to the chopping block than "!UNO!" did. But one thing was good with this album. It was better the the bands previous one.

Songs worthy of recognition: Let Yourself Go, Nuclear Family

Rating: 5,5/10 Rusty James

Friday, November 9, 2012

I Am I - Event Horizon (2012)

Recognize the name ZP Theart? You should if you are a fan of power metal. He is the former singer of Dragonforce. You know, the band that is famous for having a s**t hard song on Guitar Hero and making music that is over the top (especially the guitar solos). Even though his previous band was very uneven in its delivery, I really enjoyed his singing voice. It is powerful and fits perfectly in the power metal genre. But now has ZP moved on and formed the band I Am I. So is it a Dragonforce Jr? No. It is still power metal but gone are the crazyness and in comes a more well constructed and a more solid form of power metal. Something which should count as an advantage for not only ZP but also the band as a whole.

Together with ZP we also got Neil Salmon on bass, Paul Clark Jr on the drums and Jacob Ziemba guitar. A pretty unknown group of soldiers that supports the former Dragonforce singer. Fortunately, the lads are doing a solid job on their positions. It is not overwhelmingly awesome but the guys are doing what they are suposed to do which is good enough. How about ZP then? Well, he does not put in as much effort as in DF but it is not because he has lost power. No, it is because he does not need to go 100% to get the most out of the songs on "Event Horizon". You wont hear ZP soar over the tracks like some huge airplane. Instead, you will notice that ZP is more earthbound than he has ever been. Which is not surprising since there are few parts on this album that acquires a soaring voice.

The music overall on "Event Horizon" is on the edge between mediocre and good. It is nothing really shocking on this album. Nothing that will make you say "Hey, I have never heard this before". But there are some great songs on this album. "Wasted Wonders" has a chorus that is catchy and actually makes me shiver (also, love the guitar and drums on this one). Other good songs that stands out are "Cross The Line", "Dust 2 Dust" and "Kiss of Judas". Most of the songs on "Event Horizon" are very modern and quite enjoyable. There are not so many songs that I can complain about. But if I had to chose one it would have to be the boring and unimpressing ballad "King In Ruins". I just can not get any feeling from this song.

I got to say that I Am I has surprised me. I was not expecting this clean and modern power metal from ZP & Co. "Event Horizon" is not an album that makes a straight impact on you. Instead, it grows on you. Most of these songs are good and are great examples on how good modern power metal should sound like. I would not say that I Am I is complete yet but I think the band has a bright future ahead of them.

Songs worthy of recognition: Wasted Wonders, Silent Genocide, Dust 2 Dust

Rating: 7/10 Kings In Ruins

Thursday, November 8, 2012

All That Remains - A War You Cannot Win (2012)

What does it take to become a band of legendary proportions? I think that you have to have at least these five factors. 1. A huge fan base. 2. Consistency. 3. Make great live performances. 4. A good band chemistry. And 5. an urge to keep challening and evolve the music your creating. All That Remains has all those factors... except the last one. Ever since the amazing "The Fall of Ideals",  which contains three of the best songs from the 21st century ("Six", "This Calling" and "Not Alone"), All That Remains has just been stomping in the same spot for the last 4-5 years. The albums "Overcome" and "...For We Are Many" was dull and so far from groundbreaking as you can get. I hopped that "A War You Cannot Win" would show that the band still has something new to offer the world. I was wrong.

"A War You Cannot Win" is just like its two predecessors. Good in production but horrible in innovation. It is deja-vu through the entire album. In other words, IT'S BORING!!! But I gotta say that the album started promising. The songs "Down Through The Ages" and "You Can't Fill My Shadow" is some of the better songs from the era after "The Fall of ideals". Good structures and some good singing. Unfortunately, they can not hold up the entire album.

The rest of the songs should not even be mentioned. Those tracks has dissapointment written all over them. No innovative riffs, no great build ups and it does not even feel like the band is trying. They are just running on stand by. I have nothing against any of the band members but for god sake show some balls. Try a different angle. Think outside the box. Do something completely different. Just stay out of this line and take another direction. One thing you could try is to have one song with only harsh vocals. Try to show more of that hard side.

I think this is the last album from All That Remains that I will listen to (if I do not decide to listen to their previous albums again). The band must make some drastic changes to get their carrer up and running again. As it is now, the band is just stalling and living on previous merits. So come Oli, Philip, Mike, Jeanne and Jason. Time for you to shake things up.

Songs worthy of recognition:  Down Through The Ages, You Can't Fill My Shadow

Rating: 4/10 Non-believers

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Dethklok - Dethalbum III (2012)

For being a band that emerged from a cartoon series, Dethklok has really made an impact on the metal world with its highly enjoyable death metal music. The fourth season of the series, Metalocalypse, has finished and now has the band presented their third offering with the not so imaginative title "Dethalbum III". This album contains songs from the last three seasons of the show (season 2-4) so you who follows Metalocalypse will probably recognize most of these songs. But I have not even watched the show (shame on me) so these 12 tracks will be a new experience for me.

Just like in the previous records, Dethklok brings forth an onslaught of brutal but still melodic death metal. You can clearly hear the aggresive drums (not as aggresive as last album though) and the screams from Brendon Small (named Nathan Explosion in the show) are jsut great. It is practically the same band as always but the songs are not as uneven as the ones in the previous albums was. The difference between high and low has been significally shortened. You can definetely tell that the band has become more tight in their playing.

But just because the band has become better it does not mean that this album is perfect. I feel that the production of the album could have been a little better and the band has yet to bake in more variation in their music. What I missed was a song that takes you up and slaps you into the next millenium (like "Laser Canon Deth Sentence"). Other than that, the songs hold a high standard. The music is interesting and grappiling. Especially the songs "The Galaxy" and "Impeach God", two songs that both have great guitar work and sticks out from the rest of the tracks.

I promise to you all, I will some day watch every episode of Metalocalypse and follow the bands ride towards glory (or whatever the story of the show is). If the show is as good as the music then I am already sold. Dethklok show a good temper and aggresion that most of the bands are missing. Just keep on working and you will become better for each album you make.

Songs worthy of recognition: Impeach God, The Galaxy, I Ejaculate Fire

Rating: 8/10 Skyhunters

Monday, November 5, 2012

Parkway Drive - Atlas (2012)

Metalcore is a very odd genre. Despite that it contains odd riffs, harsh vocals and often has a song construction that is confusing as s**t, it has almost become somewhat main stream in rock circuits during the 21st century. It is a genre that I have a hard time to really appriciate since most of these bands just makes their music more complex than what is necessary. That does not mean that I do not have any favourite bands from the metalcore world. Bands like The Devil Wears Prada, All That Remains, Killswitch Engage, Shadows Fall and Bullet For My Valentine (how the hell did they got labeled as a metalcore band?) have pushed the genre forward and made some huge success both in the music world and in my listening world. But there is no other band in this genre that is rising faster than the Australian band Parkway Drive. So they are now up to test me and trying to convince me into their side. Let us see if they have suceeded.

So let us run the checklist for casual metalcore parts on "Atlas". Complex song structures? Not that complex. Harsh vocals? Oh yeah. Odd riffs? Some here and there but not to many of them. Breakdowns? Pretty few for a metalcore band. So as you see, Parkway Drive is not that metalcore but all (or at least the most) of the elements are there which is enough to label the band as metalcore.

I would consider "Atlas" as a mash up between a sligthly heavier version of Darkest Hour and the latest album from Between The Buried And Me, "The Parallax II: Future Sequence". It is heavy but has a kind of outer space feeling during most of the album, which I like. And the album got a pretty good variation as well. For example, we have mostly heavy songs but in the middle of the heavy stuff we find a soothing track called "The River". A surprisingly great track that shows a more laid back side of the band. Something you do not see every day when it comes to this genre. The band has skill but I feel that even though the singing is powerful it can be a little repetitive. Fortunately, that is the only weakness for Parkway Drive when it comes to the musical abilities.

All in all I see why Parkway Drive has become as popular as they are now. A heavy sound that is also melodic and easy to follow up on have made the band to a gang that you can count on. "Atlas" is a great album filled with songs that would make most of the bands comeptitors envy. The only thing that the band has to improve is the singing and maybe also making the entirety better through out the album. An exciting band that makes good music but nothing breath taking... yet.

Songs worthy of recognition: Old Ghost/New Regrets, The River, Wild Eyes

Rating: 8/10 Dark Days