Music Reviews: APRIL 2006

Prussian Blue,"The Path We Chose" (Indie Release)
Prussian Blue is proof that the mainstream media really has their heads up their ass. If you believed just half of the bad press this teen duo has had to endure, you would picture them as Neo-Nazi's, whose only talent is inciting hateful lyrics. The enlightened press would also have you believe that they are in the same category as the White supremacist band Screwdriver. Well, not so on all counts. I keep an open ear ready to pounce upon any 'racist' lyrics and found none whatsoever. Sure, they have a song that talks about the glory of fighting and dying for what you believe in during World War I. But this is a far cry from goose-stepping, brown-shirted teens. By now I'm sure you've seen the picture of the twins wearing the "have a nice day" t-shirts with a Hitler mustache. But when Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones wore an SS uniform for a photo shoot, and when Keith Moon paraded around in a Rommel Field Marshal outfit, the press didn't call the Rolling Stones or The Who Nazis. Maybe Prussian Blue is simply being blatantly outrageous for the sake of pointing out the bias of the press. Certainly the press can't blast them for being prideful of their beliefs and background? I guess the press doesn’t see that their behavior reeks more of Nazi-ism than Prussian Blue.

If you weren't prejudiced by the press and knew nothing about their bad rap, you would think that they were just another of the variety of present-day pop bands fronted by female singers. However, Prussian Blue is above average when compared to the Hillary Duff types. They write a lot of their original material and it is a catchy as hell. "When I'm With You" is a prime example. It is a typical love song with an infectious melody that you can't get out of your head. What is the song about? Race riots? Ethnic cleansing? No - it is simply your typical teenage-crush song. Too bad all this nonsense takes the focus away from the main thing - that Prussian Blue plays above-average pop marketed to teens.
www.prussianblue.net
Rating:

Review by Scott H. Platt


Rhino Bucket,"And Then It Got Ugly" (Acetate Records)
According to the bands press release this is their first studio album in twelve years. Well, from what I can tell, they sure ain’t been sitting around twiddling their thumbs. From the moment the whole band kicks in on the first song to the very last chord fading out on the last song this band knows exactly how to bring it. They crank the amps up to eleven and go at it like there ain’t no tomorrow. I guess I can’t get by without mentioning that they sound a lot, and I mean a whole hell of a lot, like early AC/DC. Georg Dolivo’s vocals are dead on and longtime friend Jackie Enx serves up a backbeat that rocks every bit as hard as those boys from down under. This is down and dirty, straight ahead, no frills, bare bones rock ‘n’ roll. And, in the words of one Mr. Jagger. “You know I like it, like it, yes I do!”
www.acetate.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


The Roy Owens Jr.,"Good Times" (International Hits)
This is about forty percent Hootie And The Blowfish and sixty percent John Hiatt. Great songs like “Bottom Of The Sea”, “No One’s Free” and “You Do, You Don’t” have that flying by the seat of your pants and loving it feel that Hiatt pulls off so well. Some of the more commercially aimed material has that smooth, polished feel that Hootie took all the way to the bank. This is the kind of cd you can throw in when you have company and your not too sure about what they like to listen to. Fun, non-offensive and quite tasty.
www.internationalhits.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


The Foundry Field Recordings,"Prompts/Miscues" (Emergency Umbrella Records)
What to do with a record that defies your expectation? Repeated listenings merely cement the known. This is a solid piece of work that defies definition. What would a band sound like if Ian Broudie fronted The Stills? This comes pretty close. Mood, atmospheric Pop that will stay with you long after the CD has stopped playing in your beat up Chevette. “Assembled Hazardly” and “Spain Never Made It” are my favorites but go pick this up and get your own. Can’t wait for Part II.
www.emergencyumbrella.com
Rating:

Review by Sean Koepenick


Juliana Hatfield,"Made In China" (Ye Olde Records)
Hardest rocking thing I have heard from Juliana in a long time. Half the record she handles all the instruments. The other half she is backed up by Boston music veterans Ed Valauskas and Pete Caldes. Most of the songs clock in around the 3 minute mark and tend to get straight to the point. “New Waif” and “What Do I Care” start off the record with reckless abandon. “Hole In The Sky” gives listeners a brief rest in the form of an acoustic track. Check out “Rats in the Attic” where Juliana channels her inner Neil Young with some killer guitar. This is a great record from end to end. Forget the hullabaloo about the inner sleeve picture and just go to her website to order Made In China from the source. Don’t worry-it won’t have to cross the Great Wall to get to your doorstep.
www.julianahatfield.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by Sean Koepenick


The Bomb,"Indecision" (Thick Records)
Latest release from Jeff Pezzati’s post Naked Raygun outfit. This second full length from this band is injected with high octane due to some new blood. Taking over on guitar is Jeff Dean (ex-The Story So Far) and the rhythm section you may recognize from another rockin’ Chicago outfit-The Methadones. If that isn’t enough to soil your Jockeys I don’t know what will. It looks like producer J. Robbins paid attention when he worked with Iain Burgess back in the day. He puts the vocals up front, gives the guitars a biting edge and allows the rhythm section space to push the songs to their emotional peak. “Hardly Shed A Tear” has Pezzati singing-“I tried to comfort you in your time apparent trial and fear/you would have none of it/you pushed me right away with condescending fear.” “Won’t Apologize” is a mid tempo rocker that has the singer refusing to change course on past behavior-“meltdown/won’t apologize/for what I put you through/will not take it back/the things I said were true.” The disc ends with “1000 Tons Of Ice” another great tune on this release. There should be no hesitation about this one-if you like melodic punk rock this needs to be glued permanently into your Discman. Or whatever it is you “kids” play music on these days.
www.bomb1.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by Sean Koepenick


Porch Mob,"Can Of Worms" (Can Of Worms Records)
Debut release from this DC hardcore trio that will be coming into your town soon. Bad Brains and Minor Threat are influences here, but the band has created their own unique style. Songs like “Chameleon” and “Could’ve Been Anywhere” chug along with some buzzing chainsaw guitar from lead vocalist Dave Stone. The band goes for a more relaxed groove on “Comacracy” with guest spoken word from John “Stabb” Schroeder (ex-Government Issue). But it’s towards the end of the disc that Porch Mob brings the torches to your door to burn your house down. “Square Peg” and “Nothin’ To Prove” go for the throat courtesy of the bass precision of Jon Shaffer and the trap kit implosion caused by Dan Tate. Can Of Worms will be a welcome addition to any punk rocker’s collection. Keep your eyes peeled for Porch Mob-they will be causing a stir in the underground music scene of this record is any indication.
www.porchmob.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by Sean Koepenick


The Minus Five,"The Gun Album" (Yep Roc Records)
Scott McCaughey leads this all star album through a batch of tunes that alternate between Beatles type ballads to noisy rockers. “Aw Shit Man” careens along with some heavy guitar patterns but most of the songs are a bit more mellow. There’s even a Kinks influence here and there too. “With A Gun” retains the wit of McCaughey’s previous outfit-The Young Fresh Fellows as seen through the eyes of Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. There are other guest artists here too numerous to mention. The Minus Five certainly gets passing grades, and The Gun Album may be right up your alley. But somehow I couldn’t get the image out of my head of The Travelling Wilburys. Did Jeff Lynne play on this?
www.yeproc.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by Sean Koepenick


Tommy Keene,"Crashing The Ether" (Eleven Thirty Records)
Fresh off a tour as guitarist for Robert Pollard, Tommy delivers his new disc, his first record in over four years. He decides to handle the reins here by himself-most of the instruments except the drums are played by him. But it still has an inherent band feel to the proceedings somehow. Power pop with a guitar edge really doesn’t due his sound justice. But it’s a start for the uninitiated. Crashing… takes off with “Black and White New York” with some excellent drumming from John Richardson. The drums on this record sound so great they sound like they’re set up in your living room. “Warren In The 60’s” features some nice guitar playing that complements the song quite nicely. “Driving Down The Road In My Mind” sounds like it could have been on Sleeping On A Rollercoaster, one of the best EP’s Matador Records ever released. “Lives Become Lies” may be the killer song on this record. Keyboards, guitar, and drums all come together to create a mood that sets the tone for the whole record. Absolutely stellar. The CD ends with the intriguing “Texas Tower #4”. Be sure you are tuned into the right frequency-Crashing The Ether is the best release of this year-your ears deserve this.
www.tommykeene.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by Sean Koepenick


Babies With Rabies,"Way To Go Mom" (Artillery House Records)
Raging full on punk in the vein of Black Flag, Dead Kennedys and the like. But the songwriting has just a bit more humor. Politics, unemployment, booze and just plain bad luck are just a few of the topics covered on this album. “Jet Setter”, “Unlucky Star” and “The Bottom” are my favorites on this platter. Don’t be scared of the band name-they look like guys you would want to have a cold one with if the back cover picture is any indication. Way To Go Mom continues the great tradition of old school DC punk like Black Market Baby and offers up a fresh take on life’s problems. Don’t blame your Mom-just buy it OK?
www.babieswithrabies.org
Rating:

Review by Sean Koepenick


The Selmanaires,"Here Come The Selmanaires" (International Hits)
The Ventures meet the Talking Heads or Television or the Gun Club. Hell, I don’t know. Anyway, there’s some pretty cool and interesting stuff to be found on this disc. This is one of those cds that makes you want to grab up a guitar and strum away. The singer has a Joey Ramone flavor that really comes through on “All I Really Want To Know” and “Let’s Go There”. The unpredictability of every song on this cd is probably what makes it so appealing. If you want something a little different then this should do the trick for you. Check it out for yourself.
www.internationalhits.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Todd Lemoine,"The Lost Highway" (Wishpool Records)
This is a bit like a hodgepodge of classic rock guitar bands like ZZ Top, Rush, Guns ‘N’ Roses, Skynyrd, R.E.O. Speedwagon and the lot. Somehow all the songs sound familiar which, I’m sure, can be an asset at times. If you dig classic rock then I’m sure these guys will be right up your alley. My favorite tracks are “On Your Own”, “Fences” and “Floyd” which sounds a little like the Red Hot Chili Peppers at times. “Cluster” is an Eddie Van Halen workout that’s worth mentioning as well.
www.toddlemoine.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


The Death Set,"To" (Morphius)
This was a lot of fun to listen to. Kind of sounds like X meets The Donnas. It comes with a cool and somewhat disturbing poster too. They kick things off with “Paranoia”, it’s a beach party frenzy with a catchy guitar riff and chorus. “Negative Thinking” has that same addictive urgency. It’s got an old school feel that brings to mind some of the great punk bands like the Celibate Rifles and the aforementioned X. This band makes me smile and there’s not many bands that can put a smile on a jaded old failure of a rock star like myself. Thanks guys!
www.thedeathset.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Landspeedrecord!,"Intermission" (Ambiguous City Records)
Landspeedrecord’s “Intermission” is a two disc set that is chocked full of alternative pop punk. I would file them somewhere between todays punk bands like Greenday and Good Charlotte and old school new wave / punk pop bands like Gang Of Four and the Talking Heads. They’re a four piece band consisting of Charles Jamison on guitars and vocals, Paul Gier on bass, Jeff Bradford on drums and the lovely Corrie LoGiudice on cello and keyboards. LoGiudice looks a bit like Daisy Fuentes which certainly ain’t a bad thing. Favorite song: “Karmic Black Hole”.
www.landspeedrecord.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


The Boy Least Likely To,"The Best Party Ever" (Too Young To Die Records)
Now, this is a bright and happy disc. Even the cover has a warm and fuzzy look and feel with its cartoon animal band playing all their little cartoon instruments for the little cartoon party and it’s all on a bright yellow background. This is a bit like the Beach Boys meet the Wiggles. I mean, your definitely encouraged to have nothing but happy thoughts listening to this disc. A bit too quirky for most I’d say but that’s just my take on it. Definitely different. Definitely!
www.tooyoungtodierecords.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Matt Roberts,"Now You Are Gone" (Sound Vault Records)
This feels like McCartney during his “Say Say Say” years. A little to sugary sweet and mellow for my tastes but that’s just me. Anyway, Roberts falls somewhere between McCartney and Billy Joel’s piano man act. “Binary” is a nice track that will pull you in pretty quick. “Second Heart” has a real international feel as well as “The Jeweller”. “Her Love” has a Paul Simon, Graceland era flavored rhythm that will snag you too.
www.mattroberts.com.au
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Gus Black,"Autumn Days" (Cheap Lullaby Records)
This guy has got to be getting all the girls. I mean, this is a chick disc if I’ve ever heard one. “Long Beach (It’s A Miracle)” has a cool Love & Rockets meets U2 feel that is pretty infectious. “Trillion Things” has all the classic hooks to draw a listener in. “Weekend Soldier” makes me think of Elton Johns “Tiny Dancer” for some odd reason. Remember the scene in Almost Famous where they’re on the plane and they think it’s going down and for some unknown reason they all start singing “Tiny Dancer”. Anyway, this is all pretty mellow, loaded with hooks and tasty.
www.gusmusic.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Madrepore,"Overblown" (Indie Release)
Hardcore guitars intertwined with real singing. Yeah, real singing, not screaming like a banshee or like your possessed by the devil. This L.A. band reminds me of the Ataris, Blink 182 and Bush all rolled into one. There’s shitloads of hit potential here so I’m sure we’ll all be hearing these guys on the radio soon if we haven’t already. My favorite tracks are the Johnathon Richman meets Jim Carroll rocker “Can’t Get You Out” and “Dejame Ser” with it’s Foo Fighter’s style chorus.
www.madrepore.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Bang! Bang!,"Decked Out" (Morphius)
An Iggy style punk stance mixed with the B-52’s quirky and somewhat funky appeal is what you get from Chicago’s Bang! Bang!. This is not your normal punk cd. It’s nice to come across a punk band that doesn’t take themselves so seriously or one that doesn’t forever dwell in the land of gloom and doom. I’m really diggin’ this and I mean every song on it. This is the perfect party platter and I love the guitar work. Think Devo meets the Stooges. Very cool stuff! Hell, they cover the Gun Club’s “Sex Beat”! That alone gets my vote.
www.morphius.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Radio Silence,"Submitted For Your Approval" (Silent Runner Records)
“Submitted For Your Approval” is a quirky mix of many rock styles. I can hear a little Dire Straits flavor in the combined strumming rhythms of Chip Talley and Dirk Warner as well as a bit of Clapton in their lead work. I can see this appealing to the classic rock fans of bands like the Doobie Brothers, the Dixie Dregs, the Fabulous Thunderbirds and John Mellencamp. My favorite track is the uptempo feel good rocker “It’s About Time Baby”.
thescottsandme@aol.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


The Payola Reserve,"One Long Apology" (Indie Release)
The alt-country flavor of The Flying Burrito Brothers melded with the pop sensibility of Matthew Sweet with a bit of early Bowie thrown in as well. “Music Is Not Music” is an interesting enough song that I happen to agree with whole heartedly. I’ve also noticed a little Dylan sprinkled here and there which is pretty much always a good thing. This disc has a lot of class in my humble opinion and that’s something that’s sorely missing from most of today’s music. “One Long Apology” is a disc worth seeking out, especially if you have any Dylan, Matthew Sweet, Wilco, Flying Burrito Brothers or Bowie in your collection.
www.thepayolareserve.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


The Patron Saints,"Time And Place" (Patron Saint Records)
This band is celebrating their fortieth anniversary together. How many bands other than the Stones can boast that? Their sound today is quite a bit more polished than their garage rock beginnings but they still have that enthusiasm they brought to the table four decades ago. They remind me of the Hoodoo Gurus, especially on tracks like “You’re Dangerous” and “You Have No Heart”. All the best influences are still there like the Yardbirds, Stones, Beatles, Bo Diddley and so on. This is the shit. The real shit! Highly recommended.
www.maxmulti.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


The Big Tease,"Beautiful Addiction" (Indie Release)
Guitar fueled pop punk, rock and funk from a four piece band that hails from Knoxville Tennessee. Imagine Greenday after being locked up for months with only a record player and a stack of Bus Boys records. I kind of dig the trippy sounds of “Calendar Girl” and the Tijuana Brass horns on “The Fever”. “D.U.I” has a Smithereens groove that you can sink your teeth into. There’s lots of good stuff here. Fans of Maroon 5, Jimmy Eat World and the Killers will dig what they hear.
www.bigteaseband.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Jews And Catholics,"Jews And Catholics" (Indie Release)
A Sonic Youth style noisescape from the duo of Alanna Meltzer on upright bass and Eddie Garcia on guitar, vocals and beats. This three song cd is what they call a sleeper in the hot rod world. It doesn’t look like much on the outside but what’s under the hood will blow most away. It’s hard to believe that these two unassuming people are creating the monstrous layered soundscapes that are on this disc. Anyway, it’s worth checking out if you get into bands like Sonic Youth or Gang Of Four.
www.myspace.com/jewsandcatholics
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Lake of Falcons,"Lake of Falcons" (Beep Repaired)
Northwestern trio Lake of Falcons play the kind of music Fugazi would if they had gone shoegazing, as this 13-track collection straddles the line between mopey indie rock and slightly anguished post hardcore. “Another Mutated Doll” acts as a prime example of how this unit’s dream sequencer goes awry, as the initial lush arrangement gives way to a thunderously swirling mid-section before calming back into the trippy groove. Channeling as much Pearl Jam as Paw and simultaneously summoning the ghosts of both Quicksand and Hum, songs like the bouncy “Black and Beige” and the caustic “Big Sam” sounds as if two entirely different bands contributed to this eponymous disc, and this versatile clan wouldn’t want it any other way. If you yearn for a potpourri of punk with chunks of imminent indie rock, check this disc out.
www.beeprepaired.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Enlow,"The Recovery" (Blood & Ink)
Nine tracks of well-measured positive hardcore is what Oklahoma quintet deliver on THE RECOVERY. Falling somewhere between Thursday, Boysetsfire, and Killswitch Engage, tracks like “Calling Out the Oppression” combine elements of chest beating screamo, new American metal chug, and bruising hardcore vocals. Juxtaposing these sounds with a keen ear for melody, tracks like “Confronting the Malice Tongue” and “Stand Up and Face Your Fears” allow both sing-alongs and fancy moshpit dance moves, making happy campers out of all the scenesters.
www.bloodandinkrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Nightmare,"The Dominion Gate" (Candlelight)
Flying under the American radar for nearly two decades, French metal mongers Nightmare have come with sword in hand, ready to overtake your power metal collection with full force. Sharing the musical prowess of bands like Blind Guardian, Kamelot, and Helloween, this 13-track metal tour de force has all of the nuances that a proper traditional metal album should, such as humungous sounding drums, interlocking guitars and keyboards, and a high-pitched vocal wail that evokes the likes of Dio, Dickinson, and the like on tracks such as “Messenger of Faith” and “Taste of Armageddon”, featuring a guest vocal by angelic Floor Jansen from After Forever. Chances are if you’re heavy into the guitar gallop and hanker for the heavy metal histrionics associated with power metal, this 13-track offering is something you need to get your hands on.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Shakra,"Fall" (Candlelight)
Shakra is a hard rock band hailing from Sweden whose ‘80s throwback attitude and sturdy, well-studied guitar shreddery harkens back to the days when gravel-throated vocalists with severe cases of lead singer disease roamed stages brazen with bravado as similarly dressed musicians followed suit. While songs like the acoustically flavored ready for radio “Make It Alright” and the “She’s Like Ecstasy” are catchy, damn if choruses that sing, “she’s my ecstasy/ lying next to me” don’t sound too uninspired for 2006. Regardless, the delivery on this 12-track excursion is taken straight from the Whiskey A Go-Go, with a discernible amount of attention paid to the guitar solo in all its glory on tracks like “Out of Control”. Despite being a bit out of touch, FALL does contain some ripping riffs like the ones found on “Walk on Water” and “Do You Know”, and overall is an album with massive appeal to those who dust off the patch-ridden denim jackets for those special occasions like Dokken shows.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Scarlet,"This Was Always Meant To Fall Apart" (Ferret)
Scarlet is a Virginia quartet whose string of bad luck, poor health, stolen gear, and other assorted Spinal Tap band moments will hopefully be quelled by the outfit’s eclectic hardcore release THIS WAS ALWAYS MEANT TO FALL APART. Benefiting immensely by having the resources to record in their own studio (drummer Andreas Magnusson owns Red Planet, who has worked with Black Dahlia Murder among others), the 12-track offering’s massive sounding drums and intriguing use of instrumentation assist songs like the caustic “Simply Carcinogen” and the Thrice by way of Devin Townsend Band track “On Fire” in breaking from the usual knuckle dragging pack. Add in some Avenged Sevenfold choral aping on “Glass Veined Wire Frames” and some left of center metalcore piano and synth instrumentation on the otherwise barbaric “Law is Lawless”, and you’ve got yourself a metalcore release that keeps you on your toes as well as windmilling to your heart’s content.
www.ferretstyle.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Rhapsody,"Live in Canada 2005-The Dark Secret" (Magic Circle)
Live albums always seem a bit too overindulgent or are only issued to fulfill contract obligations between artist and label, but somehow Rhapsody’s live offering transcends this feeling. Perhaps it works in part due to the Canadian audience’s very audibly insane reaction to the overtly cinematic Italian metal troupe’s appearance, or maybe it’s just the group’s over the top performance in general, but whatever the case, this 11-track disc does the job. With an unapologetically theatrical musical direction, which plays out as half-Broadway, half metal show, and a plethora of lush orchestration, choral chants, and clichéd metal devices (the best being the lead singer’s banter from the stage in French no less) in tow, Rhapsody may sound like somewhat of a joke to those who don’t understand this particular genre of metal or who take Spinal Tap to heart, but at least Canada gets it, eh?
www.magiccirclemusic.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Nebula,"Apollo" (Liquor and Poker)
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it the old adage declares, and no one knows this better than space cadet rock troupe Nebula, whose fourth full-length release APOLLO continues the mission to meld spacey blues jams into your collective conscious. Containing 14 tracks of well-done hard rock, tracks like the acidic one-two combo of “Fever Frey” and “Lightbringer” showcase why this trio is lauded as the galaxy’s reigning dirty boogie champions, while stoner rock fans everywhere rejoice over instrumental gold such as “Trapezium Procession” and fawn over the fuzzy fretboard magic on “The Eagle Has Landed”. Procuring the art of the tasteful jam while providing contagious riffs like “Ghost Ride” and “Fruit of My Soul”, Nebula’s latest offers little surprises yet yields massive results for anyone that wants to join the tune in and burn out brigade.
www.liquorandpokermusic.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Craft,"Fuck the Universe" (Southern Lord)
Swedish black metal clan Craft gets their message across quite bluntly on the 11-track FUCK THE UNIVERSE. The band has vowed that this is its last release, and they’ve succeeded in laying an undercooked, intentionally raw collection of tracks down as a resonant parting blow. From the gargled vocals and mid-paced monster riff of “Demonspeed”, the traditional rapid fire guitars and drums that open “Xenophobia” (coupled by the gurgled vocal “I hate you all”), and the dastardly energetic title cut, the unit dug deep into its collective experiences and influences, resulting in a black metal album bursting with evil yet catchy tunes appealing to the darker side. By summoning up all the nastiness it could muster, Craft’s swan song stands proud as an offering chock full of misanthropic metallic bliss.
www.southernlord.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


A Wilhelm Scream,"Ruiner" (Nitro)
Melodic, metallic, and utterly captivating, the five guys that comprise A Wilhelm Scream have found the perfect mixture between chest beating metal, contagious punk, and technical rock on the 14-track RUINER, produced by Bill Stevenson (All, Descendents), whose vast knowledge undoubtedly rubbed off on these guys. Imagine Coheed and Cambria mechanics and California punk a la Strung Out merged for a good idea of where this Massachusetts quintet’s sound falls. Fast-paced punk with a discernible sneer rears its head on “When I Was Alive: Walden III”, while the hard hitting influences of bands like Good Riddance and Grade show up all over the disc, notably on the explosive “Killing It”, the tumultuous yet tuneful tirade of “Me Vs. Morrissey in the Pretentiousness Contest” and the comically titled “Less Bright Eyes, More Deicide”. Showcasing a sense of humor on top of technical punk rock prowess, RUINER provides thrills and chills for any punk fan that likes it fast, heavy, and intricate.
www.nitrorecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Dozer,"Through the Eyes of Heathens" (Small Stone)
The earthshaking tones of Sweden’s Dozer are back with full force on the quartet’s most recent release, the 10-track THROUGH THE EYES OF HEATHENS. Fleshing out its Hessian blend of stoner rock with a plethora of hard rock histrionics and desert rock debauchery, songs like “Blood Undone” and the groove-laden “Man of Fire” contains grungy nuances and garage rock’s fuzziness which further accentuate the band’s already mammoth sound, while “Days of Future Past” knocks you on your ass with a loud/soft dynamic that evokes Soundgarden or Alice in Chains at their grittiest. Versatile enough to execute brooding slow burners like “Until Man Exists No More” with the same expertise as chunky riffs on “Drawing Dead”, this 10-track disc is an essential purchase for the hard rock fan whose eclectic palate goes way beyond Godsmack.
www.smallstone.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Action Action,"The Army of Shapes Between Wars" (Victory)
‘80s rock lives according to Action Action, whose latest 13-track homage to the decade is laden with a bevy of synths, tortured vocals, sugarcoated choruses, and lameness. Cashing in on the hipster dance rock phenomenon, this quartet’s Depeche Mode by way of The Cars delivery is a hard pill to swallow even for fans that remember Duran Duran and Cutting Crew as incendiary artists. Avoid this disc unless you have a ‘80s fix that Wang Chung can’t cure.
www.victoryrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Satariel,"Hydra" (Candlelight)
Yes, Satariel is yet another Swedish black/death metal troupe whose latest collection is the first formal glimpse America gets of the quintet. The 10-tracks adorning HYDRA utilize a number of different devices, such as acoustic guitars and female vocals on “Claw the Clouds” and some Opeth-esque ethereal projections on “Vengeance is Hers” in addition to the machine gun guitarwork found on “The Freedom Fall”, creating an enriching atmosphere not unlike Nevermore when ultra-heavy or Paradise Lost when more melodic. Intertwining well-structured Goth, blistering thrash, and a mysterious aura into a cavalcade of pristine metal, Satariel’s latest will please those looking for something between Nightwish and Arch Enemy.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Project Hate,"Armageddon March Eternal" (Candlelight)
The Project Hate is an all-star Swedish outfit whose electronically charged aggressive assault is a bit jarring to those who may expect these seasoned veterans to sound like some of their former and current other bands such as Grave, Defleshed, and Vicious Art. Instead, ARMAGEDDON MARCH ETERNAL combines the same kind of raging flare usually attached to each member’s Swedish metal act, accentuated with lush orchestration, ambient female vocals, and a noticeable emphasis on programming, the breaking factor in what sets songs like “I See Nothing But Flesh” stick out among the band’s peers. Meshing tidbits of darkwave, a black metal backbone, and dollops of loathing, The Project Hate’s left of center approach and unorthodox style may just be for the fan who yearns to hear the genre stretched and contorted into unexplored areas.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Eastern Youth,"365-Step Blues" (Five One)
Proving the music is truly the universal language, Japanese power punk trio Eastern Youth’s latest 12-track endeavor finds the outfit embracing the traits of bands like Jimmy Eat World, Nirvana, and Fugazi (who this band is often drawn comparisons to in the Land of the Rising Sun). Tracks like the exemplary loud/soft movements found on “A Moonlit Lamb”, the driving “One-Way Ticket Song”, and the angst-ridden yet harmonic “Summer Shine” sound huge despite having only three musicians at the helm. And disregard the fact that the lyrics are sung entirely in Japanese, because emotional involvement is easily communicated between audience and singer Hisashi Yoshino, thanks to his passionate vocal delivery and Western world phrasings. If you’re down for an indie rock adventure with a twist, Eastern Youth has got quite a body of work ready to sink your teeth into.
www.fiveoneinc.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


CJ Sleez,"Back From the Brink" (Spinerazor)
Groomed as a cross between Courtney Love and Biff Naked, BACK FROM THE BRINK finds Canadian CJ Sleez going the rock ‘n roll rebel route. Emblazoned with the proper doses of attitude, fury, and defiance, songs like the unapologetic hard rock of “In the City” and the screech-a-thon “Shallow Dive” are primed for the Sunset Strip scene. With the girl gone wild image intact and the low brow hard rock in full effect on cuts like “Dirty Girl”, CJ Sleez could be appearing at a strip club or go-go bar near you, as the band’s Kix meets The Runaways sound is perfect for a night of debauchery.
www.spinerazor.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Human Television,"All Songs Written By: Human Television" (Gigantic)
Human Television seemingly remembers when pop music was a less intricate animal, as the Florida outfit’s seven-track disc suggests. Here we find four guys with an ‘80s college rock fetish going for it full throttle sans a net, and songs like the fast paced slickness of “Automobile” and the jangly “Saw You Walking By” sound like the two hit singles from the next John Cusack flick. If you’ve worn out your early REM records and need something new to gnaw on, this EP should hold you over until the quartet’s new album drops.
www.giganticmusic.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Century,"Faith and Failure" (Tribunal)
Starting out as a one-man machine before fleshing out into a bruising quartet, Century is the brainchild of ArmsBendBack guitarist Carson Slovak, who had a hand in all aspects of this 10-track onslaught. Brace yourself for a rigorous metallic hardcore experience, as tracks like “Bilateral Consequence” juxtapose Cave In, Unsane, and Bloodlet for quite the unsettling listen. “The Fate of Arbogast” and “Maneater” liberally take from the Mastodon/ Converge playbook, while the foreboding intro on “Kingsnake” does nothing to prepare you for the massive beast the song becomes at the five-minute mark. Add in some caustic vocal chaos on tracks like “Watch Them Become Animals” and a Snapcase-esque hardcore stab on “Back Into the Woodwork” and you’ve got quite the monstrous hardcore potpourri on your hands. If you enjoy progressively tinged hardcore, Century is the band to check out, as they artfully tread the line between in the pit and left of center.
www.tribunalrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Ironbound NYC,"With a Brick" (Thorp)
The big news about Ironbound NYC is that Craig and Pete from Sick of It All guest on five of the ten tracks on WITH A BRICK. While it’s a safe assumption that the SOIA portion of the disc is the better half, the group, rounded out by members of Maximum Penalty, Killing Time, and Chronic Fear, performances on a whole do garnish some merit. From the old school intro that flips right into the beatdown ready “Dismay” to the purposely CBGB matinee guitar chugging on “Lies”, the music on WITH A BRICK is seething with rage, but the lyrics seem a bit out of step and almost embarrassing for seasoned hardcore vets as these, as “With a Brick” describes, well, hitting someone in the face with a “fucking brick”. Don’t guys in their late 30’s and beyond ever shed that tough guy mentality? Despite the questionable lyrical content, the bombastic hardcore underneath it all emits straight-up NYC aggression, and if you can get past the somewhat juvenile lyrics, Ironbound NYC may just find you picking up change in one of their pits.
www.thorprecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Sworn Enemy,"The Beginning of the End" (Abacus)
NYC hardcore torchbearers Sworn Enemy return with a metallic vengeance on THE BEGINNING OF THE END, a pummeling 11-track excursion to the place where NYHC and metal crossover. From the guitar acrobatics of “Forgotten” to the skull rattling “Scared of the Unknown”, this quintet pull no punches, laying down a scolding concoction of serpentine vocals, chunky guitars, and rhythms that can set any moshpit into a warzone. Producer Tim Lambesis from As I Lay Dying gets the band to demonstrate its thrash metal roots and love for Slayer on tracks like “Save Your Breath” and “All I Have”, but don’t fret hardcore peeps. Sworn Enemy still have a lot of Madball’s fury and Agnostic Front’s angst blanketed inside face ripping double bass drumming and fierce guitar solos that any Swedish metal band would kill for. Crossover in the truest sense of the genre, get ready to be blown away by Sworn Enemy’s latest.
www.abacusrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Architects,"Revenge" (Anodyne)
The tougher than a two-dollar steak presence of Architects is undeniable, as their AC/DC style punk and hardcore rock ‘n roll output boasts both a keen sense of melody and a wry display of vitriolic bliss on REVENGE. Comprising its sound from everything from Social Distortion to Hot Water Music, this Kansas City quartet’s hybrid sound allows the band to explore different avenues of aggression with positive results, never quite overriding its boiling point but never not able to hammer a distinguishable point across. Tracks such as the punk rock freight train ride of “Body Armor”, the kick the teeth down your throat delivery of “The Badge”, and the high-climbing melody on “Grace” portray this band as a grizzled, whiskey-soaked journeyman crew wise beyond its years, ready for anything that comes their way. How much more rock ‘n roll do you want? Get this and feel the danger coarse through your veins.
www.anodynerecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Sword,"Age of Winters" (Kemado)
Austin, TX is a proverbial musical hotbed known by anyone entrenched in the music scene, and it happens to be where The Sword, a retro metal outfit extraordinaire, hails from. Thick on the Sabbath, heavy on the doom, hard on the Soundgarden, and sucking up to ‘70s dinosaur rock acts gone by, AGE OF WINTERS is the metal album that hipsters will embrace, but metalheads will herald long after the novelty buzz has packed up and gone. Why? Because this quartet has boned up on how to create droning rhythms and then speed them up to breakneck paces, how to whip up an ominous aura of mystery and intrigue by using only bass, guitar, drums, and vocals, and because above all, they transcend anything trendy and hit you right between the eyes with an acerbic metal force not heard since Ozzy was booted from Sabbath. Huge guitars, thick rhythms that run like freshly tapped molasses straight from the tree of woe, and a vocal assault bursting with galactic importance are all championed here, so if you’re looking for the perfect accompaniment for your High on Fire and Slayer collection, this is it. Fuck the fact that the band’s label is uber trendy, this throwback quartet hit harder than the countless bands scraping the bottom of the metalcore barrel and are worth every minute of your time, even if they have a penchant for writing about demons and wizards. A metallic triumph through and through.
www.kemado.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Kayo Dot,"Dowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue" (Robotic Empire)
Kayo Dot’s five-track opus goes way over the head of virtually every band classified in the avant-garde metal genre and sits solitarily atop a mountain, looking down at all of its peers. This disc from this Boston, MA octet is unlike anything you’ve ever heard collectively as it cinematically captures a crushingly heavy, lushly beautiful, potentially dangerous, and ethereally hypnotic vibe all at once. Save the comparisons for everyone else, and pick this disc up to witness firsthand one of the most unique units ever assembled. Hauntingly rich, wondrously instrumented, and atmospherically untouchable, DOWSING ANEMONE WITH COPPER TONGUE is a masterpiece on the highest level. For only the most discerning music fan who can digest something of this magnitude.
www.roboticempire.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


This Charmin Man,"Every Little Secret" (XOXO)
This Charming Man, now known as The Gaslight Anthem, play the kind of heartfelt rock that bands like Grade, Rival Schools, and Gratitude were known for, and even Goo Goo Dolls mustered before they pandered to soccer moms and movie soundtracks. On this six-track offering, this quintet play with a driving punk rock flavor on the opener “Bleeder”, then switch gears to go all Weezer on “Sometimes You Eat the Bar”, demonstrating the band’s wide array of musical tastes. Versatile sounds amplified by stellar songwriting, well-narrated lyrics, and a raspy vocal delivery that entices throughout are staples of EVERY LITTLE SECRET, an album brimming with catchy hooks, passionate performance, and Warped Tour potential.
www.xoxorecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Thyrfing,"Farsotstider" (Candlelight)
The album’s title translates from Swedish as “times of plague”, and the eight-track offering by this traditional Swedish metal troupe plays with the same foreboding feel. Sung entirely in Swedish (for the first time, by the way), Thyrfing’s Viking-esque style and implementations of folk and synths shape the unit’s uncooked black metal presentation into a smorgasbord of evil. Tracks like “Host” get the mid-tempo guttural growl down pat, while “Elddagjamning” provides that slowburning demonic black metal pace that so many bands seemingly try hard to nail, but often fail. Thyrfing’s ambitious endeavor holds up as one of the more well-textured yet gloomy albums on the scene today, right along side November’s Doom and Old Man’s Child in the running for best portrayal of unadulterated black metal with old world influence.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Bitterweed,"Boo!" (Buzz Factory)
Gritty NYC rock band Bitterweed’s latest offering BOO! showcases this female-fronted quartet’s dark edged hard rock. Sparkling with an unabashed intensity throughout the entire 10-track collection, you can almost feel the personal pain seeping through on tracks like “Joy” and “Love”, whose misleading song titles compellingly emit the opposite emotions. Displaying a keen sense on how to build a song to a hair-raising crescendo, tracks like “Living” with its jarring saxophone and tribal beat, the swirling big ‘90s rock stomp of “Pansy”, and the somberly tender tribute “Estas Aca” are when Bitterweed are at their best, moody, brooding, and locked in a deep groove. There aren’t a lot of smiley faces or sunshine rays passed around on BOO!, just a heap of grungy undertones, caustic riffs like the one in “Seizure”, and a plethora of anger and confusion put to good work while exposing the underbelly of life in the Big Apple.
www.bitterweed.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


One Dead Three Wounded,"Paint the Town" (1X1)
Philadelphia’s One Dead Three Wounded’s scalding metalcore attack is flavored chunks of Southern-fried metal, assisting this quintet in sounding a lot like the bastard child Every Time I Die and Pantera. On the band’s 12-track skull crushing serving, you can hear the bones breaking in the pit from the breakdown on “Thank God for Painkillers”, but there’s also a discernibly melodic side to the band found on tracks like the fist-pumping gang chorused chug-a-thon of “Regret” that yields comparisons to both Hatebreed and Killswitch Engage. Intertwining hardcore’s rage with metal’s fretboard finesse, “Eight Dollar Prom Dress” sound s like the band studied its Darkest Hour discs to death, giving the band its finest moment on the disc. A bevy of metallic genre-bending affair, PAINT THE TOWN will have you running amuck in the pit, ready to throw down with anyone that gets in your path.
ww.1x1music.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Of Graves and Gods,"Slit Throat Andromeda" (Candlelight)
New Mexico is known for its picturesque, serene desert landscapes lined with cactus and mountains, yet the quartet Of Graves and Gods aims to change this perception with their corrosive 11-track endeavor titled SLIT THROAT ANDROMEDA. From the brazen Machine Head-like title track that opens the disc, the listener is propelled into a furious metalcore spin that pounds through your cranium without a shred of remorse. While much of what these guys do is a bit overdone these days, the furrowed guitar browbeatings, roaring bestial growls, and incessant jackhammering rhythms showcase a vicious streak not unlike Himsa or Hatebreed at their most metallic. A bit contrived in the songwriting department, but genuinely crushing, this disc fits in smack dab in the middle of the second stage of Ozzfest.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Decapitated,"Organic Hallucinosis" (Earache)
Polish death metal troupe Decapitated return with yet another blistering progressive collection with ORGANIC HALLUCINOSIS. This seven-track disc is stocked with tumultuous time signature changes that intertwine brutal machine gun guitars, pummeling drums, and intriguing songwriting intricacies, the most notable trait of this quartet. With a style that falls somewhere between the anthemic metallic bite of Machine Head and the technical savvy of Meshuggah, tracks like “Post (?) Organic” grind, groove, and leave the listener wanting more. Ultra-heavy, incessantly in your face and above all, commanding a strong sense of evil, this disc is one of the finest death metal servings you can help yourself to, and is recommended for those that enjoy groove-laden, no holds barred death metal goodness.
www.earache.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


XBishopX,"Suicide Party" (Ferret)
Straight edge hardcore bands usually come with excessive baggage, and xBishopx is no exception. 14 tracks of seething anger is what this Florida five piece emit, from the SOD-inspired “Go Fuck Yourself” to the Bury Your Dead meets Sick of It All moshfest on “Eat Shit” and “Suicide Party”. Chances are this band isn’t going to win any awards for best vernacular used, as a majority of the lyrics scathingly contain expletives not suitable for the dinner table, but when it comes to producing furious slabs of straight edge hardcore, these guys bring it. Even though the message behind xBishopx’s music becomes wearisome after a while, the band’s passion for their lifestyle and for dropping sonically brutal hardcore are undeniable.
www.ferretstyle.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Last Laugh,"No Regrets" (Suburban Noize)
Florida quintet Last Laugh sound like they came straight from a California skate park. Fusing Pennywise, Strung Out, and countless other Warped Tour hopeful’s sound into its own, the 12-track collection competently creates a semi-hard, semi-good time feel with songs like “Cut Me Loose”, goes old school AFI on “Your Distraction”, and laments all the way on “At The Top”. Mixing its energy with a touch of darkness, songs like the title cut showcase the band’s depth, while an Unwritten Law-esque acoustic piano beginning yields to the passionate punk of “Gone…”, dually demonstrating the band’s tender side and dynamic prowess. NO REGRETS is an album chock full of emotionally charged punk rock great for the half-pipe or cruising the town on a Saturday night.
www.suburbannoizerecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Daylight Dies,"Dismantling Devotion" (Candlelight)
Doom metal act Daylight Dies get their gloom on with DISMANTLING DEVOTION, the band’s latest eight-track endeavor. Well-measured yet merciless, tracks “A Life Less Lived” runs eight minutes and never gets dull, as the band’s mid-tempo mauling is accentuated by meticulous fretwork, while the hypnotic trance that “Solitary Refinement” lulls into is enriched by dreamy vocals and prog-rock flare, all while keeping the beat as melancholic as humanly possible. Ushering a deliberately somber tone that borders on the foreboding nature reserved for bands like Opeth, tracks like the pristinely depressing “All We Had” and the title track (an instrumental with an astonishing guitar tone) should come equipped with a warning label and a few Prozac. Making mope metal intriguing is where this North Carolina troupe ultimately succeeds, placing themselves amongst Paradise Lost, Katatonia, and Anathema as torchbearers of the downtrodden metal contingent.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Greatdayforup,"Flores De Sangre" (Small Stone)
Armed with a metallic underbelly and bursting with stoner rock explosiveness, Greatdayforup’s first full-length disc combines six-gun stoner boogie and a fist-pumping hard rock stomp, generating a potent 11-track concoction. From the cowbell-infused “Taste of the Wasted” to ‘90s post-hardcore meets grunge slam of “Twist of the Spine”, this fierce quintet seems hellbent on providing the catchiest and heaviest hooks since early Soundgarden or RIVER RUNS RED-era Life of Agony. “Man’s Ruin” takes the stoner rock ball and runs like the wind complete with a drunken bluesy flare, the slow churn of “Three Card” emulates the meeting of Nebula and Alabama Thunderpussy, while the maelstrom of “Another Lesson” mimics the mighty Kyuss in fine form. FLORES DE SANGRE ends with the title cut, a spooky piano interlude which caps off the riff-a-thon, giving the proper amount of time to catch your breath and regain feeling in your neck from banging so damn hard. If you dig deep grooving riffs and skull-bashing rhythms, this disc is a must have.
www.smallstone.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Intronaut,"Null" (Goodfellow)
Intronaut’s technically impressive four-song offering is a smoldering array of shoegazing metallic bliss, ferocious NWOAHM grit, and sheer musicianship, as these guys arrive with an impressive pedigree (Exhumed, Uphill Battle, Impaled, Anubis Rising) and an eagerness to destroy your eardrums in the most civilized of ways. Meshing the rhythmic panache of Mastodon with the lush atmosphere created by Isis, songs like “Fragments of Character” run over seven minutes, holding all of your attentiveness along the way. Undeniably heavy, NULL also showcases some jaw-dropping bass work on “They (As in Them) and flawless percussion that truly displays just how good this band is. Get acquainted with Intronaut fast, as their brand of multi-influenced jagged metal should lead them to bigger and better things.
www.goodfellowrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Object,"The Mirror World" (Velcro Kitty)
NYC tandem Object may get the obvious comparisons to White Stripes, but aside from the one guy singing and strumming and one girl bashing the kit similarity, this dynamic duo’s five-track disc emits a lot more than the obligatory. Demonstrating Jeff Buckley’s soul, Kurt Cobain’s scream, and Billy Corgan’s twisted melodies, tracks like “Fooled” and “Walk Away” have got the ‘90s alt rock rage tightly packaged and compressed into memorable nuggets that pop into your head at the most random times, while the sleigh bell effect and fancy fretwork that open up “Open Sores” help this track ring out the loudest. Object has done the most with the least on THE MIRROR WORLD, making a compelling release along the way that rockingly resonates with the ghosts of rock radio’s not so distant past.
www.objectband.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Kill Cheerleader,"All Hail" (Spinerazor)
Heralded as the best rock band since Guns ‘N Roses by Motorhead’s almighty Lemmy, this Canadian quartet’s brand of Sunset Strip sleaze and histrionic hard rock makes a welcomed retro ride to 1988. Kill Cheerleader’s dead-on Hanoi Rocks impression kicks the door down on “So Young”, and the band even showcases a tender side with “No Lullabies”. Hankering for the days when Bang Tango, Faster Pussycat, and LA Guns ruled the roost? Kill Cheerleader sure does, and works the aforementioned’s shtick with Dead Boy-esque aggression on “Lady of the Night” amongst others, and way more conviction throughout. ALL HAIL’s throwback qualities, coupled with the outfit’s decidedly punk rock attitude create the hair metal feeling you crave without the Aquanet aftertaste and spandex shame. For those about to rock, Kill Cheerleader answers the call.
www.spinerazor.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Sepultura,"Dante XXI" (SPV)
Sepultura is a band that many people may have written off since vocalist/founder Max Cavalera exited nearly a decade ago, but those same people should take a gander at the latest installment by the Brazilian thrash titans and their daunting new release DANTE XXI. With vocalist Derek Green now a member ten years strong and finally hitting his maniacal vocal stride, this 15-track studio endeavor finally displays the fury that Green brings to the Sepultura live set. With a discernibly more hardcore stance than previous outings, songs like “Fighting On” and “Ostia” are truly representative of the band Sepultura is now, while facepeeling tracks “Convicted in Life” and “False” demonstrate the most cohesive attempt the current unit has made in recreating the classic CHOAS AD sound. Rounded out with a bevy of string arrangements and traditional Sepultura experimentation (after all, it is a concept album), DANTE XXI is a triumphantly tumultuous affair and easily the best album this lineup has delivered.
www.spvusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Daddy X,"Family Ties" (Suburban Noize)
Rap rocker Daddy X is a founding member of underground troupe Kottonmouth Kings, yet this time he opts to go solo, yet not without the help of his click. This 21-track West Coast hip-hop meets punk rock by way of P-Funk’s love of the green offering at first gets the blood pumping, but inevitably drags out to be a bit tired and played out, even though the stoner rap vibes found strewn about are lush and the white gangsta nuances are at times completely over the top. Somewhere between Eminem, 311, Snoop Dogg, and Kid Rock, FAMILY TIES is an album hard to swallow if you’ve ascended past college sophomore. But, if you’re looking for something to rock the frat house or keg party, songs like “Tha Bomb” and “Wake N Bake” will suffice.
www.suburbannoizerecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Through Elysium,"Through Elysium" (Indie Release)
Queens, NY hard rock quartet Through Elysium’s three-song endeavor showcases a young act shaping its songwriting prowess. Melodically charged and armed with a keen ear for hook-laden choruses, tracks like 2 evoke comparisons to HIM meets Lostprophets, while “Shrouded Lies” takes on an Incubus-esque groove with some powerful modern day punk rock arrangement. Encompassing the sound of today’s rock radio, Through Elysium creates a blend of easily digestible and uplifting hard rock that fans of everything from Taking Back Sunday to Offspring can enjoy.
www.myspace.com/throughelysium
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Mandate of Heaven,"Fading Hectographs Were Their Fact Saws" (Neon Witch)
A veritable one-man band, The Mandate of Heaven is the labor of love of Greg Pier, whose latest nine-song offering displays a smattering of indie rock influence from Dinosaur Jr. to Weezer to Death From Above 1979. This Syracuse, NY native’s jaded rock shines best with a little dirt under the nails on songs like “The Knife is a Labor Saving Device” and the trip-laden rhythm of “Men of Science”. Most effective when melancholic, The Mandate of Heaven’s neo-hippie flare, laid back noise rock zeal, and cohesive yet subversively underground recording emanates a left of center rock stance that rarely misfires and stays one step above the norm, resulting in a compelling listening experience.
www.neonwitch.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Ensoph,"Projekt X-Katon" (Cruz Del Sur)
Ensoph’s masterful mixture of metallic elements stir up quite the potent cocktail, as this Italian sextet demonstrate that they are as adept emulating Static-X as they are Cradle of Filth on the band’s 15-track jaunt. A barrage of sounds lunge at your ears throughout the course of this disc, as heavy guitars and dance rhythms are seamlessly merged on tracks like “Kirillow’s Bullet”, emitting a Goth rock flare you’d find at your local corpse-painted contingent’s catacombs. Meshing the bombastic sound of Swedish metal a la Soilwork with the more somber tones of Katatonia, PROJEKT X-KATON’s unabashedly progressive metal influence is very much apparent on tracks like “Condemned”. When coupled with its industrially electronic rock platform, Ensoph lifts bits of Fear Factory, Marilyn Manson, Mushroomhead, and Paradise Lost, making a tasty stew that charts in the familiar and traces into the unknown.
www.cruzdelsurmusic.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Magrudergrind/ Shitstorm,"Split" (Robotic Empire)
Gore-infested grindcore is what this split CD brings to the forefront, as these two band’s chaotic sense of cacophony is on full display here. Leading off is Magrudergrind, whose take no prisoners assault on your eardrums is accentuated with a high pitched squeal for vocals and whose blast beated goodness and ripping guitar tones are unrepentantly in your face throughout cuts like “Scholastic Burnout” and “Siphon Then Slit”. Reminiscent of Pig Destroyer, these Maryland lads are not to be taken lightly. Up next is the equally frenetic and slightly less gory but more politically charged Shitstorm, who also employ groovy grind riffs like the one in “Getting Heated”, as well as a high pitched vocal yowl that cuts through the most evil of migraines. If two bands doing 24 tracks in less than 25 minutes sounds like a salacious grindcore excursion to you, then this split disc is just what the doctor ordered.
www.roboticempire.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Crack Puppy,"Vin Tage Porn" (Spinerazor)
VINTAGE PORN is Crackpuppy’s five-track foray into punkified hard rock, which sounds like a blend of The Damned, Social Distortion, and The Cramps. Mid-tempo and meandering, cuts like “Witness” and the title cut are a tad laconic and take some time to get into, but once the guitar solo kicks in, the hard rock fireworks are thrown into overdrive. Otherwise, Crack Puppy appears content to mope around the late ‘70s and early ‘80s punk scene with glimmers of guitar heroism strewn about.
www.spinerazor.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Seven Witches,"Amped" (Candlelight)
Power metal’s glorious sound gets nastier than usual thanks to Seven Witches, whose traditional metal treatment is laden with thick grooves, fierce vocals, and menacing guitar work coinciding with the genre’s signature galloping rhythms and vocal shrills. “Sunnydale High” methodically pounds as a mid-paced metal anthem while Billy Idol’s “Flesh for Fantasy” gets the horn handed exposition courtesy of Jack Frost and company. Picking up on European metal’s larger than life aura and combining it with some badass American attitude, AMPED welcomes ex-members of New Jersey’s Non-Fiction with a swift kick to the head and a nod to bands like Judas Priest and Iced Earth in tow.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Autumn Offering,"Revelations of the Unsugn" (Victory)
Re-released from their Stillborn debut, the Daytona, FL based The Autumn Offering’s 10-track endeavor is chock full of chunky guitars, serpentine vocals, and a metalcore foundation that unleashes an unsettling vengeance on tracks like “Deflowered”. Sounding like Zao crossed over with Darkest Hour, REVELATIONS OF THE UNSUNG captures this quintet at its most blistering on cuts like the ever-changing tempo of “Doomed Generation” and the frenetic “Last Desperado”. Despite this unit working within an oversaturated genre, they manage to fuse together some memorable molten metalcore that allows them to hit highs reserved for Killswitch Engage and Himsa.
www.victoryrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Remembering Never,"God Save Us" (Ferret)
Combining brutal music with harshly poignant social stances, Remembering Never’s goal is not to make friends but instead to speak loudly, tell the truth, but most importantly be true to themselves. GOD SAVE US is the battle cry this quintet wields on this 14-track moshfest with a message, as topics from gay marriage to internet shit talking are on Mean Pete’s mind and bellow from his vitriolic throat. Backed by an abundance of metallic riffs, bludgeoning rhythms, and volatile breakdowns, songs like “Suicide Hotline on Speed Dial” and “White Devil” amplify the outfit’s frustrations with the world with savage grace and an unabashed viciousness. Remembering Never may strive to inform, forewarn, and educate, but mainly they aim right for your head with its slung arrows of vengeance and bruising hardcore tactics.
www.ferretstyle.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Hawthorne Heights,"If Only You Were Lonely" (Victory)
Ah, the sounds of hearts breaking, courtesy of emo’s current poster boys, Hawthorne Heights. The breakthrough band’s latest effort is long on longing and not short on sappiness, as every passionate lyric and heated guitar lick is wrapped around a heart shaped box full of big hooks. Songs like “Saying Sorry” are perfect for the after-prom party, “Breathing In Sequence” sets a melodramatic mood to ponder your love life to, while “I Am On Your Side” rivals the catchiness of Fall Out Boy with the guitar riff knowledge of The Darkness. Innocuous and sterile as hell, IF ONLY YOU WERE LONELY lacks fortitude to go beyond the lovelorn’s list of best albums to feel sorry for yourself by, but works well for anyone under age and feeling those butterflies for the first time.
www.victoryrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Vader,"The Art of War" (Candlelight)
Vader supplies your death metal fix with this six-song holdover EP, further solidifying this Polish powerhouse’s place amongst death metal’s elite. From the cinematic opener “Para Bellum” that yields to the mercilessly metallic “This is the War”, a maelstrom of malice courtesy of this quartet is dredged up, unleashing a fury of dastardly double-bass drumming, galvanized guitar runs, and fiercely barked vocals that encompass the evils of battle. In the vein of Bolt Thrower and Kreator, Vader has transcended time and gets inside the mindset of war, in turn releasing yet another benchmark album by which others shall be judged.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Mastery,"Lethal Legacy" (Picture Black)
They call their music “instrumetal”, and despite the cheesy moniker, this Toronto quartet delivers a potent blend of old school thrash with a keen sense for soloing. On the six-track LETHAL LEGACY, Mastery’x pristine precision and adept dexterity shines brightest, as the twin guitar assault rivals early Megadeth, AJFA-Metallica, and Skolnick-era Testament in pure guitar shredding. No slouches are the rhythm section either, as the bass wallops and the drums, which are so prominent in this mix, instantaneously lunge out at you from the get-go. No singer? No problem because these cats can play, although some vocals next time around would help to seal the deal and make Mastery’s stock ascend to the levels of the ‘80s titans of thrash. But until then, bang your head sans the growls and shrills.
www.spinerazor.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Dismember,"The God that never was" (Candlelight)
Scandinavian death metal pioneers Dismember’s latest presentation finds the band as pertinent as when they formed nearly two decades ago. From the death ‘n roll of “Blood for Paradise”, the vintage death metal gallop laid down on “Into the Temple of Humiliation”, and the crash and burn tumult of “Shadows of the Mutilated”, Dismember aptly demonstrates that there’s a lot left in their collective tank to administer more classic death metal mastery for years to come.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Social Hero,"Social Hero" (Machine Dream)
The lushly arranged yet rough around the edges hard rock of NYC’s Social Hero makes for an interesting blend, as the quartet’s five-track self-titled release showcases. With a strong emphasis on vocals, songs like the tribal chorus meets straight ahead hook of “Adore (W/ a Bullet)” is akin to a hard rock version of the current wave of pop-punk anthems flooding the teenage airwaves, while the bass-driven groove, Geddy Lee-esque singing, and choppy dynamics on “Break it Down” give this quintet its most defining moment on disc. Combining Audioslave, Coheed and Cambria, and fragments of ‘70s progressive and arena rock into its unique sound, Social Hero spans a good portion of hard rock, and does so with panache.
www.machinedreamrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Ultra Dolphins,"Why are you Laugh" (Robotic Empire)
Much like its splintered album title, this dissonant hardcore trio plays all over the map, frantically emitting feedback-driven guitar rock that infringes on grunge, punk, noise, indie, and spastic jazz-rock simultaneously, often within the same song. The music made by Ultra Dolphins is chock full of off-kilter jangle, displayed on “Playground Politique” and “The Humane”, yet retains its angst-ridden nuances throughout cuts like “White Substance”, making WHY ARE YOU LAUGH an explosive entity riddled with keep you on your toes moments galore.
www.roboticempire.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


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Flawless...
Almost perfect...
Moments of brilliance...
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Extremely BAD! Should be illegal to possess...

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Note: mp3 "albums" count as CD's. All reviewed collections are CD's unless tagged with the following images:

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