Music Reviews: August 2006

What The...?,"You Have No Idea!" (Indie Release)
Atlanta-area band, What The...? is a three-piece power-pop band that lends a heavy nod to the music of the '60s. Most critics tag them as a simple British-Invasion-type band - which kind of sells them short. Sure, there are some elements of The Kinks, Yardbirds, The Who, etc in their sound - but, there's a lot more going on. For instance, the Beatles-psychedelia of "Nothing Left To Dream". Or the Muswell Hillbillies sound of "Everything Is Fine"(you'd swear it was a Ray Davies out-take sung by an American) - speaking of which, the song is the best Ray Davies-style song that Ray never wrote! "Nobody Said A Word" is reminiscent of The Outsiders' 1966 hit "Time Won't Let Me" (Hmmm, I thought they were supposed to be a British-sounding band? ha ha).

What makes this album so great is that all the right pieces fall together: both the songs and the playing. Lyle Bufkin (bass and vocals) is a superb songwriter with a distinctively American voice. Jim "Spyder" Davis's drums fit the songs perfectly (Just listen to his Keith Moon-stylings on "I'm So Glad"). Lee Flier's guitar solo on "Blindsided" is PURE Dave Davies Kinks (Lee Flier must be Dave's long-lost daughter!).

Powerful and clever power-pop abounds on this album. When was the last time rock 'n roll sounded this fun?!
www.what-the.com
www.myspace.com/whattherock
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by Ronnie


Paul Minor,"Shadow Figure" (I Eat Records)
This thing kicks off with a Dylan-esque song titled “Made To Be Broken” that would score this cd a good review if I didn’t listen to another track on the disc. But, how could I stop now? I’m afraid I’m in for the long haul. No skipping through songs on this one. No sir, I want to hear what he’s going to do next and that my friend is the mark of a truly great album. For fans of Dylan, the Beatles and Elvis Costello.
www.minorproductions.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Die Hunns,"You Rot Me" (VolCom Entertainment)
The title track on this disc is one killer cut. Peters vocals are a toxic mix of Stiv Bators during his stint with The Lords Of The New Church and Joe Strummer during his Sandinista era. The whole disc has a late seventies New York rock ‘n’ roll feel, when everything was exploding all at once. There was punk, glam and straight out rock ‘n’ roll and all three were reaching a boiling point at around the same time. “Rock N Roll Boulevard” is another one of those good old straight out rock ‘n’ rollers. There’s a lot of Johnny Thunders style riffing going on here and some of it reaches Keith Richards proportions. I for one really dig it. Once again, Corey Parks proves that this is exactly what she was put on this earth to do. This is a bit different from their last album but it’s every bit as enjoyable.
www.diehunns.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Temper Tantrum,"The Elementary Years" (Indie Release)
SoCal’s Temper Tantrum is a quartet out of Riverside County featuring the vocals of ten year old Samantha Donaldson. Her Dad, Abner Donaldson, is the guitarist and drummer Mark Banks and bassist Shawn Bader round out the band. Playing straight ahead punk with a smoothed off edge, the band is tight and Samantha’s voice is not merely a novelty. Her vocals are strong and her stage presence is surprisingly confident. Punk rock aficionados of any age can enjoy Temper Tantrum’s music. The tracks are fast enough to mosh to, with catchy riffs and humorous lyrics. Tests are a mess/my male teacher, he wears a dress, Samantha sings in What Do You Want. I can’t get their song Graveyard Boogie out my head. With its refrain everybody’s dead /everybody’s so dead, it’s reminescent of the Suburban Lawns or Alice Bag with the benefit of ‘00s production and polish.
www.myspace.com/tempertantrum1
Rating:

Review by Jade Blackmore


Lacuna Coil,"Karmacode" (Century Media)
Karmacode, Lacuna Coil’s first album since their breakout 2002 release Comalies, builds on the Italian metal band’s modus operandi with slick production, a Middle Eastern sound and occasional strings. The outcome is sheer metal panic ala Korn or Sevendust with a classy Goth sheen.

Cristina Scabbia, whose sultry good looks have garnered her as much attention as her voice, is the focal point of the group. Backed by the powerful onslaught of guitarists Cristiano Migliore and Marco Biazzi, drummer Cristiano Mozzati and bassist/keyboardist Marco Coti Zelati, this band is the real deal, the grown-up version of Evanescence. Karmacode’s opener “Fragile” features Christina’s Middle Eastern vocal chant and a relentless guitar riff while main vocal chores are handled by male vocalist Andrea Ferro. The lush combination of their voices against the brutal double guitar chord attack makes for a powerful experience. Other standout cuts include the first single “Our Truth” and the gorgeous ballad “Within Me” which showcases Scabbia’s passionate yet angelic voice.
www.lacunacoil.it
Rating:

Review by Jade Blackmore


Magic Tramps,"Kickin’ Up Moonlight Dust" (Moonlight Dust, Inc.)
In the early ‘70s New York, plenty of bands merged glam and punk, predating and influencing bands like the Ramones and Blondie. In addition to the Dolls, there were a few glitzy but obscure groups like Rags, the Harlots of 42nd Street, and most notably, the The Magic Tramps. The Tramps, lead by Andy Warhol superstar Eric Emerson, caused a commotion in the East Village even before there was any identifiable scene. While bands like the Ramones, Kiss and Blondie (Chris Stein was a guitarist for the Tramps at one point), signed record contracts, the Magic Tramps remained loyal to their underground aesthete and turned down several record company offers.

Emerson passed away in 1975, but drummer Sesu Coleman uncovered and released these recordings from the Tramps heyday as Kickin’ Up Moonlight Dust. Songs like S&M Leather Queen and Trippin have a grimy yet arty feel that transports you back to a time when anything could-and did-happen in rock ‘n’ roll. These original recordings haven’t been gussied up with modern production. The sound is still raw and vibrant, just like a show at Max’s in 1973.
www.magictramps.com
Rating:

Review by Jade Blackmore


Body Count,"Murder 4 Hire" (escapimusic.com)
Body Count is excused from flaws that would sink other bands. Silly, Spinal Tapesque guitar solos and misogynist lyrics are excused because much of Body Count’s lyrics are so over the top as to be tongue in cheek and….….um…..because they’re Body Count What a Body Count CD is not excused from is being boring. Too much of “Murder for Hire” is bland, half-baked drop D “alternative rock” that goes nowhere (as a reference point listen to the “alternative rock” Clear Channel affiliate in your town; the radio station with an “X” or “Edge” in the call letters) Even the obligatory Body Count misogynist rant on this CD – Relationships” – seems forced. The Songs “Murder for Hire” and “Down in the Bayou” are as good as older (old school?) Body Count. The rest of the songs just sit there; though it is something of a relief to hear vocals in drop D songs that don’t sound like the cookie monster. The instrumentals “D-Rocs” and “Mr. C’s Theme” aren’t too bad either. Overall, “Murder for Hire” isn’t too bad but not as good as it should be.
www.bodycount.com
www.escapimusic.com
Rating:

Review by DJ Ivan


Boris,"Pink" (Southern Lord)
Japanese cult rockers Boris come crashing through the gates into your headspace on PINK, the trio’s latest endeavor in eclecticism. Broadening their strokes with flurries of punk rock fury to coincide with their trademark acid rock glory and drone rock enchantment, this 11-track escape from your mind provides enough ‘70s sunshine rock like “Pseudo-bread” and the tantalizing title cut and fuzzy freakouts like “Just Abandon My-self” to keep the preservationist’s mouths sewn shut and the party rocking until the break of dawn. Doom meets punk in a garage in Japan? Brilliant stuff once again, courtesy of the ever-morphing Boris.
www.southernlord.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Zombi,"Surface To Air" (Relapse)
The two-man synth rock band Zombi takes its musical inspiration from horror films of the days of yore as much as they do Yes and King Crimson, as their five-track synth-dominant with bass and drum offering SURFACE TO AIR displays. This Pennsylvania duo ditches the guitar completely here, opting instead to bulk up on vintage synths and keyboards for ambiance, texture, and an overall chilling effect. This tandem also demonstrates the know-how on song layering, masterfully heard on the pre-hit era Genesis meets Between the Buried and Me’s current revivalist tactics on “Legacy”. Tossing in large chunks of prog rock histrionics, entrancing Moog melodies, and a vibrant rhythm section who reference Rush as much as John Carpenter, Zombi’s left of center landscape of luxurious electronics and triumphant analog manipulations will surely create a unique atmosphere.
www.relapse.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Dissection,"Reinkaos" (Black Horizon)
After an 11-year hiatus due in part to items such as “occult practice and Satanic crimes” amongst other dastardly acts, Dissection returns with a new album titled REINKAOS. This 11-track offering took 11 months to record (notice a pattern here?) and contains oodles of carefully prepared Swedish metal nuances that most diehard fans and brand new ears alike should clamor for. Even though only mainman Jon Nodtveldt remains from the original lineup and the band has infused a distinct array of melodic metal strands into its black/death blend, songs like “Internal Fire”, “Beyond the Horizon”, and “Black Dragon” keep the old flames burning, even as new kindling is placed on this seminal unit’s unholy blaze. Retaining shards of its majestic past while implementing wares of bands such as The Haunted and In Flames to its molten mix, REINKAOS documents a dormant band’s reacclimatized climb back to the top of the mountain with enough firepower present to warrant a strong metal, yet not classic, metal presentation.
www.theendrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Sad Girl,"Twenty Years" (Sad Girl Music)
This debut album from Sad Girl is a collaboration between Tommy and Karen Swerdlow. Their music sounds like a mix of the Smithereens and the Beatles. Which is great since I like both of those bands anyway. From what I’ve read on their website it seems that Tommy and Karen already have successful professional careers in acting, directing and screenwriting, Among Tommys screenwriting credits are Cool Runnings and Snow Dogs, both of which were for a little studio named Disney. Their musical output came sometime after the birth of their son Stanley when Karen began teaching herself to play guitar and bass. “Twenty Years” was created by the two specifically as a vehicle for Tommy's poetry. It’s a pretty nice vehicle that is worth checking out.
www.sadgirlmusic.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


A.M. Elevator,"A.M. Elevator" (Second Records)
This has a very upbeat eighties pop feel at times. Reminds me of bands like Adam Ant, Squeeze, Boomtown Rats, Matthew Sweet and the such. Very catchy and highly addictive stuff. I’m especially digging tracks like “To The Top”, “More Than You Know” and “Never Step In”. There’s also a ska feel to a lot of this so if you dig the Specials or the English Beat you will probably dig this as well.
www.myspace.com/amelevator
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Bad Lieutenants,"Every Time I Come Around" (Teenage Heart Records)
Punk ‘n’ Roll designed to give you the swift kick in the ass that you probably need but were always afraid to ask for. Definitely not for the faint of heart. Most songs are down and dirty, straight to the point and delivered by a runaway train on a downhill track. Eight of the fifteen tracks clock in at under two minutes each if that gives you any idea. I would describe this as hardcore but there’s a whole lot more going on here than what you would normally get from your run of the mill, cookie cutter, hardcore band. I would definitely recommend you check these guys out.
www.badlieutenants.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Jil Station,"Still Love" (Indie Release)
Jil Station reminds me of bands like Depeche Mode and the Psychedelic Furs. Well, actually they remind me of pretty much all of the successful bands to have emerged during the New Wave and New Romantic era. Songs like “Murder”, “Vanguard”, “Parlour”, “My Gun Is Gorgeous” and “Afraid Of Who” would have sounded perfect wedged inbetween mega hits like “Personal Jesus” and “Pretty In Pink”. “Parlour” even has an edgier Gang Of Four vibe that I really enjoyed. A very interesting album.
www.jilstation.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Shallow Water Grave,"Suspension of Disbelief" (Innerstrength)
The bludgeoning sounds through your speakers come courtesy of Shallow Water Grave and their seven-track release SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF. And chances are if you dig the Massachusetts metalcore movement, you’ll be enamored with these guys and their unbreakable style that seamlessly fuses Killswitch Engage, Shadows Fall, Unearth, and All That Remains. Emblazoned with a vicious vocal battering reminiscent of Pantera at its most volatile, riffs that bounce from Iron Maiden-esque twin killings to chugga-chugga beatdowns at the drop of hat like “Persist and Persevere”, and a veritable percussion workshop throughout the entire experience, someone should check the water flowing through the Northeast to determine what the hell makes their bands this caustic, yet at the same time so attentive to melody. Brutal, battering, and buoyant, SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF combines the perfect mix of tough guy exhibition and musical exposition, creating a near unstoppable metalcore giant in the process.
www.innerstrengthrecords.net
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Celestiial,"Desolate North" (Bindrune)
Melding the sounds of the forest with sweeping ambient bits of noise, the one-man act known as Celestiial takes heed from his fellow misanthropic black metal brethren on the eight-track DESOLATE NORTH enough to be placed in the same league, but from there things radically change. Sprawling, slow, and rather oblique, Celestiial's drone metal wares, funeral doom devices, and intriguing uses of unique instrumentation truly encapsulate the barren loneliness of the artist's Northern Minnesota homeland with eerie accuracy. Exploring depressively bleak dirges which emulate the sounds of nature at their most primitive, this is by far the anti-party album of the year.
www.crionicmind.org/bindrune
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Hed PE,"BACK 2 BASE X" (Suburban Noize)
Rap-rock trailblazers Hed PE return about 10 years too late with their latest release BACK 2 BASE X, a 13-track release which finds the band trying to reinvent themselves to no avail. While the half-hearted attempt to find their "G-Punk" roots works on tracks like "Beware Do We Go", the majority of this disc seems to be wallowing in an indefinite state of identity crisis. Gone are the irresistible grooves, replaced by a third-rate punk rock flair akin to frat boy rock gone awry. Perhaps the guys are prepping themselves for a return to their roots, but undercooked reggae like "The Chosen One" and dated rap-rock like "White Collars" are not the way to go. Following Limp Bizkit right down the toilet, Hed PE is a band staying alive solely by life support.
www.suburbannoizerecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Dysrhythmia,"Barriers and Passages" (Relapse)
Tech metal soldiers Dysrhythmia couldn't have chosen a better name for their band, or their new album for that matter, as this tumultuous trio's latest mindtrip BARRIERS AND PASSAGES focuses on swirling sounds that will make your head spin and your ears overstuffed. This Philadelphia-based unit lay out a dizzying array of avant-garde metal with attention to detail, yet keep the musical soundscape somewhat accessible to the crowd that have a tough time with non-vocal music. Dashes of Rush, King Crimson, Candiria, Don Caballero, and Jesus Lizard strewn about in a classroom at the Julliard Music School can best describe this dastardly deluge of virtuoso playing and complex cacophony. If you like it adventurous, this disc is definitely worth a spin.
www.relapse.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Deadstar Asembly,"Unsaved" (Pure)
Pushing at a glance a predictably Gothic synth metal blend, Florida's Deadstar Assembly's sophomore album UNSAVED has all of the elements to be the perfect soundtrack for one of those club scenes on primetime television. This 14-track offering liberally borrows from Marilyn Manson, Ministry, The Murderdolls, and NIN, as tracks like 2 echo the sentiments of Hot Topic kids everywhere, while 5 sounds like the perfect marriage of Depeche Mode and Sevendust. The style and image may be a bit much to stomach, but the songs with hooks that can rock arenas with Korn like 13 are very prominent across the collection. Definitely one for the strippers and the everyday is Halloween set, UNSAVED's well-balanced mixture of silly schlock and solid rock makes for a non-offensive listen.
www.deadstar.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Elvenking,"The Winter's Wake" (Candlelight)
Italian folk metallers Elvenking unleash a barrage of fiddle, crunchy guitar, and histrionic arrangement on the 11-track THE WINTER'S WAKE. Emblazoned with the fist-pumping rhythms of power metal (the disc's heartbeat) found on such tracks "Trows Kind", this troupe's progressive prowess is sturdy enough to go toe to toe with the Finntroll's and Kamelot's of the world, while the band's minstrel metal side found on the acoustic and flute sparked "On The Morning Dew" provides a enchanting voyage for your ears. While Elvenking's folksy side and adventurous edge is surely not for everyone sporting a Maiden t-shirt, this sextet's eclectic brand of metal can proudly stand beside the likes of Blind Guardian and Manowar.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Wydown,"Noise of America" (Indie Release)
Listeners will get a heavy dose of tight guitar rhythms and soaring vocals from this progressive indie rock outfit. They call themselves Wydown and they’re from St. Louis. “Noise of America” is their first full-length release and it’s pretty damn impressive in my humble opinion. There’s some great songs on here like the catchy and melodic “Summer’s Funeral” and “Long Island” as well as rockers like “No More Never Mind” and the albums title track. Addictive pop punk for the mainstream.
www.wydown.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Emily Herring,"My Tears Will Be Relieved" (Indie Release)
Now, this is cool. A definite keeper. Herring sounds like Jack White’s long lost hillbilly cousin. Take a little delta blues, throw in some Appalachian vocals, some Hank Sr. style guitar strummin’ and add some city girl smarts and you got the main ingredients of “My Tears Will Be Relieved”. Imagine, if you can, a female Gordon Gano and you’ll get a real good idea of how this sounds. It’s refreshing to hear something so out of the ordinary for a change.
www.emilyherring.net
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


The Mains,"The Higher You Get, The Higher You Get" (Indie Release)
Imagine what it would sound like if Mike Ness from Social Distortion fronted Everclear instead of Art Alexakis. What you get is a pretty cool mix and “The Higher You Get, The Higher You Get” is one slick album chocked full of good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll. Much edgier than the Strokes have ever thought of being if you ask me. “Rock and Roll”, “The Higher You Get” and “So Far Away” even have a little Stones flavor to them and that’s never a bad thing.
www.themainsmusic.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Olga,"Now is the Time" (219 Records)
Ballsy! Olga falls somewhere between Janis Joplin and Sheryl Crow for me. She’s a little more polished and a tad more subdued than Joplin but she’s got more of an edge than Crow. Great album with lots of great tracks like the bluesy “Now Is The Time”, “Weary”, “What’s The Matter With The Mill” and “Stealin’”. Plus there’s the upbeat toe tapper “I Won’t Ask” which is almost a sixties style garage rocker. This is a fun release.
www.laolga.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Robin Horlock Band,"EP" (Indie Release)
This five song EP would fit nicely wedged between the Goo Goo Dolls “A Boy Named Goo” album and Matchbox Twenty’s “Yourself Or Someone Like You” album in just about any eighteen year old indie rock girls cd case. After one listen to songs like “Never Be Alone”, “Conspiracy Of He” and “Harder Than Hell” and I think you’ll hear exactly what I mean. Perfect for the audience they are shooting for.
www.robinhorlock.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Brown Shoe,"The Wheat Patch" (Indie Release)
Think of these guys as a mellowed out indie rock version of the Allman Brothers. I say that because, one, the songs are long, four or five minutes on most and one even clocks in at over eight minutes, two, the melody soars high and low and locks into a groove and, three, they’re from the southeast. Now, if your from the southeast, weather you dig them or not, you’ve listened to a good bit of music by the Allman Brothers. This album is a southern album.
www.myspace.com/brownshoe
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver



Daddy Long Legs,"Captain Aqua b/w Soup" [7” vinyl] (Conker Recording Company)
Captain Aqua is a mix of The Jam, Gang Of Four and The Who all rolled into one with a spot of tea to wash it all down. “Soup” has a funkier more laid back feel ala The Style Council or maybe The Kinks around “Everybody’s In Show-biz, Everybody’s A Star”. This record has a lot of appeal and would be worth the time and effort to track down a copy.
www.myspace.com/conkerrecords
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Debbie Watson,"Big Hair Down in Texas" (Indie Release)
Equal parts western swing, country and rockabilly, Miss Watson would fit in perfectly opening for one of today’s top country stars or getting down with the likes of Southern Culture On The Skids. She’s a little bit Loretta Lynn and a little bit Wanda Jackson and a whole lot of woman. Well, any woman that can sing like this has to be a whole lot of woman don’t you think?
www.debbiewatson.com
www.myspace.com/debbiewatson
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


First Blood,"Killafornia" (Trustkill)
First Blood is a metallic hardcore outfit featuring former and current members of Terror. This San Francisco straight-edge quintet's debut full-length KILLAFORNIA puts its Hatebreed meets Earth Crisis molotov cocktail to he test, as this terse 11-track disc keeps the moshpit moving with galloping guitars and gang-vocals galore on cuts like "Suffocate" and the blistering title cut. Keeping it bludgeonly heavy with chunks of meaty breakdowns, First Blood's version of tough guy hardcore doesn't offer anything new, but should decisively satisfy your beatdown cravings.
www.trustkill.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Skinless,"Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead" (Relapse)
Dastardly death metal dealers Skinless return with a massive eight-track display of wartime goodness that unmercifully unleashes an arsenal of destruction on the hapless listener's ears. Going straight for the jugular without any reproach, tracks like "Endvisioned" and "Overlord" grind you down before pounding you into utter oblivion. This quartet, as punishing as they are, also manage to sneak in a surprisingly stellar death metal rendition of Black Sabbath's "Wicked World" where for a brief second, the band's technical excellence overshadows its brute force. But don’t you fret, the version keeps in time with the rest of the cleverly-titled TRAMPLE THE WEAK, HURDLE THE DEAD by administering a vicious battering to your cerebrum. If you dig destructive death metal that steamrolls through humanity, then this disc is a must own.
www.relapse.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


She Said Destroy,"Time Like Vines" (Candlelight)
Norwegian left-of-center metal act She Said Destroy don't fit into one specific category of metal, as this seamlessly sinister group instead opts to change it up between the extremes on TIME LIKE FINES. Death metal growls, prog metal technicality, noise metal dissonance, and black metal's impending sense of dread all are thrown together into a demonically-charged cauldron, creating a compelling yet challenging listen to fans that rock the corpse paint and the unkempt look alike. This 10-track disc's odd-signatured brutality and shape-shifting jaggedness help She Said Destroy stand out amongst the extreme metal scene, as songs like "Joy to the World: The Coming of Kali" masterfully combine the wares of Mastodon, Zyklon, and Cynic while "Shapeshifter" takes you into realms frequently visited by acts like Death and Converge. Well worth a spin if you like your metal a bit on the slanted side.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Keep of Kalessin,"Armada" (Candlelight)
Keep of Kalessin boasts some of Norway's finest musicians amongst its ensemble, which is one of the many reasons why this black metal powerhouse's latest disc shreds most other extreme acts to waste. On the 10-track ARMADA, this menacing unit's sweepingly majestic wares intertwine with an overabundance of pure mayhem, concocting the vicious sting found gargantuan outings like "Vengeance Rising", "Into the Fire", and "Deluge". Progressively punishing and deliciously demonic, Keep of Kalessin take black metal out of the catacombs and above ground long enough to exert a volatility and dynamic force akin to Cradle of Filth sans the costumes and pageantry. Mighty and bold, ARMADA is a maelstrom of an album guaranteed to pump the listener with the proper fury and ferocity.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Hourcast,"State of Disgrace" (Alkamedia)
Electronically charged metal brood Hourcast play the kind of moody, atmospheric nu metal that falls somewhere in the range of Mudvayne, Staind, and tourmates Sevendust. On this Boston-based quartet's 13-track debut, while there's barely anything that distinguishes this unit from the countless other bands with the big rock sound with mountains of programming underneath, songs like "Uhaul" and '"Sakkara" belt out enough catchy hooks and metallic firepower to raise an interest in the same crowds that flock to Disturbed and Godsmack. Everything from the solid rhythm section to the darkened aura set by the guitars on tracks like "Numb" to the on-target expressiveness of the vocals falls into its place well enough to garnish STATE OF DISGRACE some praise amongst the Ozzfest contingent.
www.alkamedia.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Trophy Scars,"Alphabet. Alphabets." (The Death Scene)
Twisting and contorting their sounds on this 16-track release with a surprisingly affable yet schizophrenic flair, the New Jersey post-hardcore outfit Trophy Scars has put forth a massive display of musicality on ALPHABET. ALPHABETS. The constantly shifting style this album exhibits goes from The Blood Brothers to Atmosphere to Dredg the tender side of Dropkick Murphys, allowing an unsettling but wondrous listening experience. The unorthodox instrumentations (harmonica, strings) and explosive arrangements found on cuts like "Alchemist. Alchemists" flow with an incredible sense of cohesion despite the obvious differences. From the lush piano that leads "Anxiety. Anxieties." to the balls out tough guy chug of "Yes" and "No", there's a plethora of influences apparent on this mammoth release that may be a bit too challenging for the average rock fan. And then there are the song titles, which are for the most part taken right out of the pages of the A-section of Webster's Dictionary, a trait that many may few as quite annoying. Nonetheless, this is an ambitious collection rich in genre-hopping punk rock that fans of things a little left of center will probably enjoy.
www.thedeathscene.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Enslaved,"Ruun" (Candlelight)
Enslaved continues to outdo themselves, as this Norwegian act's latest eight-track offering finds them circling towards greatness with their usual savage grace and metallic regality firmly in tow. Creating a vast soundscape that combines progressively-tinged metal with the unit's foundational Viking metal sound, RUUN raises the bar by which other bands are to be measured. Songs like "Tides of Chaos" demonstrates the band's now-trademark merger of crushing riffs, psychedelic rhythms, and black metal underlay, while the old school attack of "Fusion of Sense and Earth" contains enough Nordic evil to satisfy even the most disparaging from the corpse-painted clan. Heavy as hell, yet musically complex, dramatic, and utterly spellbinding, Enslaved has performed the impossible, a musical hat trick, with their third brilliant release in a row with RUUN. A must have for all who like things heavy.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Valient Thorr,"Legend of the World" (Volcom)
Slicing '70s riff rock down to the bone with a rusty punk rock knife, Valient Thorr's latest effort LEGEND OF THE WORLD is the rawest ode to cock rock revelries this side of The Darkness, instead replace the falsetto vocals with an angst-ridden punk rock growl. This 12-track disc is pure grain rock 'n roll, but therein the problems lie. It's almost too much rock 'n roll, as the band's rebellious spirit has affected the uneven songwriting throughout, almost as if the band is forcing to insert cool Thin Lizzy-esque riff here and punk rant galore there for the sake of doing so. But if you're stoned or drunk enough, you probably won't even care, as you'll be thrusting your dual horned hand salute in the faces of anyone in the vicinity, as the playing on this raucous rocker is vintage, top notch, and worthy of guitar heroics, especially on the Van Halen meets Thin Lizzy stomp of "Lime Green Net".
www.volcoment.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Accursed,"Sample the Seasons" (Indie Release)
The Accursed is a Massachusetts metal quintet whose three-song demo is dripping with metallic goodness and triumphant thrashing tumult. SAMPLE THE SEASONS evokes the thought of a mega band consisting of members of Kreator, Testament, and any combination of the all-stars from any 30 Swedish metal bands you could name. Heavy as hell with a pinch of evil in between its cheek and gum, people throw the term old school around a bit too freely, but with these dudes, it sticks, and in a good way. Satisfying the most ravenous metal craving with opuses such as the 1983 revisited sounding "Land of the Dead", if you miss or missed out on the metal days of yore, The Accursed will gladly lead you down that glorious road.
www.theaccursed.net
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Steppin' Blind,"Late Nights at Salamone's" (Indie Release)
Flashback to the days of REO Speedwagon, Journey, Sammy Hagar, Poison, Warrant, Def Leppard, Whitesnake, Motley Crue, Europe and all those other hair bands from the eighties. Now, most you are probably scoffing at that list as you read this but I’ll bet dollars to donuts that when you’re in your car alone and a song comes on by one of these bands your probably singing along to the top of your lungs. And, I’ll tell you why you sing along to the top of your lungs. Because the song is good and has all the hooks that it takes to make a hit. Steppin’ Blind has a lot of those same qualitys.
artist's web site
thescottsandme@aol.com
www.mp3.com/stb
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Raul Malo,"You're Only Lonely" (Sanctuary)
Raul Malo was formerly the frontman for the Mavericks. I knew there was a reason that I immediately liked this cd. The Mavericks always impressed me as much more than a top forty country band. Yeah, they had their hits but it was the song that made the hit, not the hype. Sadly, there’s all too many songs that have been hyped to the top of the charts. Now, this thing on the other hand, is just dripping with soul and there ain’t no hype about it.
www.raulmalo.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Hitchcock Blonde,"Soul Button" (Sidechain Records)
Electronic pop music with a touch of Pink Floyd, a little Sly and the Family Stone, a bit of Bowie, some Collective Soul and traces of Roxy Music all thrown in as well. A little too across the board for my tastes but I’m sure it will be a hit with the groove oriented dance crowd. Very cool cover of Lou Reeds “Satellite Of Love”.
www.hitchcockblonde.net
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Eddie Cohn,"If I'm Happy it Ends" (Indie Release)
If you think you might dig stuff like great songwriting, more than competent vocals, soaring and tastefully catchy melodies and the such. Well, have I got an album for you. This has to be one of the best if not the best debut albums of the year. This is an album custom made for a diverse audience. It will connect with fans of Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Jeff Buckley, Nine Inch Nails, Elliot Smith, Ryan Adams, the Beatles, Marc Cohn, Aqualung and so on, and so on… You get the point.
www.eddiecohn.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Envy,"Insomniac Doze" (Temporary Residence Ltd.)
This is the best Japanese screamcore album I’ve ever heard. As a matter of fact, it’s the only Japanese screamcore album I’ve ever heard but it’s the music on “Insomniac Doze” that sets this band apart from most all the American screamcore bands. This has much more of a melodic, Smashing Pumpkins feel where the American bands have a harder, rawer, hardcore sound. Favorite track: “Crystallize”.
www.sonzairecords.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Michael Garfield,"Get Used to Being Everything" (Indie Release)
A master shredder in the making as well as a good songwriter. I mean, it’s one thing to shred on an electric guitar but the acoustic guitar is a whole different animal altogether. “Autocatalysis” is definitely a guitar players track. If you don’t play guitar the song might slide right by without much thought given. But, if you do play guitar you’ll find yourself hitting the repeat button more than a few times. Now, I really don’t have a clue as to how to describe this album other than just saying it is very, very good and well worth seeking out.
www.myspace.com/michaelgarfield
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Anthill,"Waiting for the Sun" (Indie Release)
Dave Matthews vocals over a indie pop canvas. “Pastel Rain” sounds like a sure fire hit you would hear on pretty much any radio station that plays the likes of Good Charlotte, Ryan Adams, Dave Matthews and all points in between. These guys are a force to be reckoned with in the indie pop world and should be taken highly seriously by the major label powers that be.
www.anthill.co
www.myspace.com/anthillcanada
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Justin Beckler,"Wake Up Process" (Indie Release)
A singer / songwriter album by an artist cut from the same clothe as other singer / songwriters like Ryan Adams, Dave Matthews and Tom Waits. Compelling songs about loneliness, longing for love, searching for something but you don’t know what, just everyday life issues that everyone can relate to. This collection of songs has a mesmerizing kind of “Graceland” appeal that will run through your brain like a drug. My favorite track is “Gimme Your Love” and, just to give you an idea of how diverse Beckler is, I could totally picture Alice Cooper doing this song.
www.justinbeckler.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Kit Smith & Tanya Livingstone,"Central Connection" (Song Crisis Records)
This cd starts off with “Built With My Heart”. A song that will have you staring out the window as the miles go by, thinking about that one special person in your life. Next up is “Drive”. Another song that will have you staring out the window as the miles go by, thinking about that one special person in your life. Then there’s “The Space In Me”. Yet another song that will have you staring out the window as the miles go by, thinking about that one special person in your life. Yeah, I think your beginning to see where this is headed.
www.myspace.com/kitandtanya
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Auto Vaughn,"Space" (Indie Release)
Dual guitars, fist pumping choruses, loads of harmonies, all in all it’s just what the indie rock doctor ordered. At times this album feels like a drug that induces little flashbacks to late seventies, early eighties new wave radio. I kind of like it. Actually, I really like it. I’ve always been a sucker for that type of stuff anyway. Songs like “Owner Of A Broken Heart” and “Hold The Line” come to mind as well as bands like Duran Duran, Big Country, The Fixx and the Alarm.
www.autovaughn.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


The Sleeping,"Questions and Answers" (Victory)
You'd think that The Sleeping is Victory Records' latest act vying for today's teen's ever-shrinking attention span, yet while the throngs of screaming pre-pubescent females and pimply faced freshmen should flock to the totally relatable QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS, this Long Island quartet's appeal transcends the usual demographic. Maybe it's the band's harder-edge which shines bright on the dynamic "The Climb" or it's the band's refusal to be a carbon copy of those other 19 bands you saw on FUSE, or maybe it's because this band is 1000 times more intense than any of their peers. Downright heavy, even, especially on the chunky "Better Than Anything Else" and "Heart Beatz", their poignant heartfelt tribute to Bayside's drummer Johnny Beatz. Showing that they know how to rip it up and keep it dark (The Sleeping features former members of Skycamefalling) while keeping a eye on what the girls are crying about, this outfit's future looks bright, just as long the intensity of tracks like "Don't Hold Back" is still a mainstay in their arsenal.
www.victoryrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Illuminati,"On Borrowed Time" (Liquor and Poker)
Progressive boogie rockers The Illuminati have discovered a flawless musical formula that compacts multitudes of musical ideas into shards of hard rocking roadhouse anthems. This Canadian trio's ON BORROWED TIME is a jawdroppng 14-track album where Iron Maiden, The Cult, ZZ Top, Fu Manchu, Van Halen and Motorhead meet at a bucket o' blood for a few cold ones, as tracks like "Impressions" swings with horned hand swagger, while "The Jericho Mile" makes for an exhilaratingly monstrous mid-tempo ripper and "Lay Low" goes from moody to whiskey-fueled through a dizzying array of guitar heroics. Drenched in the blues, soaked with rock 'n roll saturation, and taught via jazz, these proficient professors of rawk have produced a tight, terse feelgood album that is extremely likable to anyone that appreciates the art form that is rock.
www.liquorandpokermusic.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Demented Are Go,"Hellbilly Storm" (Hepcat)
These grizzled veteran's psychobilly rock has withstood the test of 22 years of drug abuse, prison, and unbridled recklessness, things which the U.K.'s Demented Are Go's latest album HELLBILLY STORM firmly echoes throughout its 13-tracks. Johnny Cash, Reverend Horton Heat meets Glenn Danzig and Rob Zombie here for the first time, as the days of rockabilly have been an ampification upgrade courtesy of these madmen dabbling in metal's volume and the devil's music. Tracks like "Block Up" and "Skating in the Rain" display the kind of old world authenticity of punk you can't make up, and by attaching the horror movie imagery and real rock foundation, Demented Are Go are made out into being quite the entity. If you'd think Rancid and Slayer should go on tour together, then this disc is for you.
www.hepcatrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Bludgeon,"World Controlled" (Magic Circle)
Bludgeon is a Chicago metal troupe that truly lives up to its name, as their 11-track offering is a smoldering mix of thrash, hardcore, and metalcore whose brutal riffs and ridiculously heavy drums found on "Infidel" and "Carnage Begins" are prominently displayed, potentially damaging, and perfectly recorded to sound as menacing as they do. While the band's sound is totally crushing, their tunes come out somewhat mechanical, a nuance which undermines this release's overall oppressiveness and leaves the band with lapses of intrigue in songs like "Consumed" and "Out of Reach". Pound for pound, these guys slay, but don't expect any groundbreaking stuff on WORLD CONTROLLED sans a strong mix of Downset, Pantera, and Fear Factory taking you down for the count instead of the usual bevy of Hatebreed clone acts.
www.magiccirclemusic.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Rory Block,"The Lady And Mr. Johnson" (Rykodisc)
Lady sings the blues, Mr. Robert Johnson’s blues that is. Thirteen songs by the legendary bluesman that cut heads with ol’ Scratch down by the crossroads. Her versions may not be quite as down and dirty as the original King of the Delta Blues’ classics but they sure got the heart. You can tell she loves these songs like you would love a child. I’m telling you straight out that there’s a hell of a lot of great guitar and deep down soul pouring out of this lady.
www.roryblock.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


The Working Title,"About Face" (Universal Motown)
One of the most requested bands on Sirius Radio and hailed as “a band to watch” by Alternative Press, The Working Title have quite a bit going for them at the moment. Well, that’s what their press release said anyway. Now, I don’t know about all that stuff but I do know what I like and this is an album I could really get into. Lots of spacey, ringing guitar licks laced together with a primal backbeat and topped with a dose of heady lyrics. Indie radio should eat this stuff up.
www.myspace.com/theworkingtitle/
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


John T. Baker,"Man In The Street" (Disgraceland)
For lack of a better term we’re going to call this a pop album. No, actually I’m going to call this a damn fine pop album in much the same vein as an album by Matthew Sweet, Marshall Crenshaw, Teenage Fanclub, The Posies, Material Issue, Jellyfish or Redd Kross would be. Boys and girls, this is what a keeper sounds like and it’s so much better than what I was expecting. I had never heard of John T. Baker before so I was sort of expecting one of those singer/songwriter sensitive things that’ll make you want to put a gun to your head or drink a bottle of tequila.
www.myspace.com/johntbaker
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


The Awkward Romance,"Audio Bio" (Day Job Records)
Hometown boys The Awkward Romance have been plugging away over the last two and a half years and seem to be gaining lots of ground. Their sound is sometimes described as Foo Fighter’s meets Jimmy Eat World and I would say that’s a pretty fair assessment. With a power pop sensibility that usually only comes to bands that have been together much longer, The Awkward Romance must truly have something a little more special than most.
www.theawkwardromance.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Lonesome Travelers,"Lonesome Travelers" (IAC)
American folk music from a couple of punk guys whose current day job is playing in the legendary southern rock band Cowboy Mouth. Now, first off, this is the total opposite of what you may be used to hearing from John Thomas Griffith and Paul Sanchez if you are a fan of their other band. Imagine if they listened to nothing but Bob Wills, sat around campfires eating beans and drove cattle across the plains in their spare time and you might come close to getting a picture of what this album is all about.
www.independentartistscompany.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Los Abandoned,"Mix Tape" (Sanctuary)
This is the result of putting four very unique and distinctive individuals together and those four individuals somehow being able to work together and remain true to their selves at the same time. This has got a load of energy coursing through every track and the songs are extremely catchy. Sounds a bit like Van Halen fronted by Blondie on “Stalk You”. “Van Nuys” is another track that jumps out at you from the very start and the chorus will burn its way into your brain like that song “I Know What Boys Like” by the Waitresses. I found this cd to be a very refreshing experience.
www.losabandoned.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


The Strange,"The Strange" (Indie Release)
The Strange are proud of their musical roots and make no attempt to hide those roots. Bands like Led Zeppelin, Queen, The Beatles and newer groups like Radiohead. What I hear personally is a well blended musical cocktail of old and new bands like Freddie Mercury and Oasis, Robert Plant and Coldplay, McCartney and Radiohead, etc… Strange as it may sound the combinations seem to work very well together. Especially on tracks like “Texas”, “Kiss Her Twice” and “Hero In Me”.
www.strangemusic.net
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Keeve Brine,"Gypsy Think Box" (Indie Release)
“Gypsy Think Box” is the solo debut from Keeve Brine, former member of such bands as Spindrift, Kepler and The Imaginables. This sounds like a lo-fi mix of The Polices “Reggatta De Blanc” and Squeeze’s “Argybargy” with a little English Beat from around “I Just Can’t Stop It” thrown in just for shits and giggles. This is some pretty cool stuff if you ask me. I’ll definitely be giving it a repeat listen in the near future. Personal favorites are “Up In The Air” and “Oh, That’s Right”.
www.keevebrine.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Sinister,"Afterburner" (Candlelight)
Eight new tracks by Holland's Sinister is music to death metal fan's ears, as this established unit's AFTERBURNER will attest to. Like it raw and visceral? Then allow the title track to whip you into a headbanging fury, as well as other choice cuts like "The Grey Massacre" will pound you into dust. They don't make death metal bands like this anymore, so get your most illegible logo'd t-shirt out and rock out with Sinister.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Raygun Girls,"The Ones I Denied" (Savage Vibes)
Queens, NY's industrial hard rock quartet The Raygun Girls knock out an well-written, angst-ridden 10-track affair whose creepy auras and heavy, electronic swirl make for a very Glo-stick-esque experience. From the male-female vocal trading dynamic of "A Matter of Time" to the Go-Go's gone Goth of "Burning" to the ethereal balladry of "All I Want", the real evilness this band possesses is in their pointed songwriting, which elevates songs like "Sleep" past the DJ booth and into your head. Imagine Stabbing Westward meets Lords of Acid with touches of KMFDM and Static-X and you'll understand where these guys and gal are coming from. The Raygun Girls know how to manipulate technology as much as they know how to rock, as they make atmospheric rock songs with hooks as big as the beats they kick out.
www.raygungirls.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Sahg,"Sahg 1" (Candlelight)
Norwegians are typically admired for their black metal prowess, yet Sahg (a band featuring members of Audrey Horne, Gorgoroth, and Manngard) is a doomy hard rock band with some tendencies to get a bit technical at times. On this project's 10-track excursion, the corpsepaint gets swapped for blacklight, as the gas-huffing seven minutes spent peeking in the kaleidoscope of "Repent" and the Soundgarden meets Monster Magnet march of "The Executioner Undead" emanates from your speakers. Trippy in a heavy way and earthy without losing its edge, Sahg's humungous rock sound and scintillating use of dynamics accelerates this savvy group's version of stoner rock to the heights of the greats that dabbled in the murky waters of psychedelic hard rock and the reverie of doom metal. Horned hands way up for this one.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Viking Skull,"Born In Hell" (456)
Forget about the hype over Avenged Sevenfold being hard rock’s new saviors, as the UK’s Viking Skull exonerates those fallacies completely on their raw and raucous 11-track outing. Starting as an offshoot of the criminally underrated metal crew Raging Speedhorn, this semi-serious quintet’s sophomore effort threatens to eclipse its forefather’s popularity with its vigilant AC/DC meets Motorhead double-entendre and twin guitar shtick played with as much rock ‘n roll excess these blokes can muster. Tracks like “Rock and Roll Suicide” and “Seedealer” are bonafide stripper pole anthems, while the infectiously righteous “You Can’t Kill Rock ‘N Roll” intertwine ‘70s arena rock swagger with hellacious hooks aplenty and a whiskey soaked vocal delivery that you can smell from a mile away. Volatile and voracious, BORN IN HELL gives bands that claim they’re retro a not so subtle middle finger straight to their faces, unafraid of any and all of their feeble repercussions.
www.vikingskull.net
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


F-Units,"Rejects On Impact" (Indie Release)
Green Day for punks that dig old school punk. Actually, this is Green Day for punks that dig Green Day as well. These guys pack a big league punch. Check out songs like “Fat Lip”, “Solitude”, “Alpha East Side”, “Hypocrite” and “In The Dark” to see exactly what I mean. They may sound a lot like Green Day but you’ll also hear everything from the Sex Pistols to Kiss in the mix. Tight, hard-hitting rock ‘n’ roll is basicly what we’re talking about here. So, if you can get into that, here’s your fix.
www.f-units.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Milton And The Devils Party,"What Is All This Sweet Work Worth?" (Face Down Records)
First off, what a name for a band! I bet they never once said “Maybe we should check it out on the internet and see if any band is already using the name Milton And The Devils Party”. Now, with all that said and done, this quartet delivers a thinking mans portion of power pop. The countless comparisons to bands like The Kinks, The Smiths, R.E.M., Elvis Costello, XTC, and The Go-Betweens tend to paint a decent picture of the kind of songs these guys are coming up with. “Nude For Satan” is a real hoot that’s sure to grab your attention right from the start.
www.facedown.net
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Cabin Dogs,"Electric Cabin" (Woodstock Records)
Shooter Jennings meets the Allman Brothers at a showing of The Last Waltz. I’ve always loved the looseness of The Band. It’s what I like to refer to as controlled chaos. The Stones have it as well and so do the Cabin Dogs it seems. Brothers Rich and Rob Kwait are channeling Danko and Robertson from start to finish on this near perfect outing they’ve dubbed “Electric Cabin”. “Phoenicia” is this bands “Up On Cripple Creek”. A great one to check out if you really dig alt-country.
www.cabindogs.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Cal Williams, Jr.,"In The Water We Are All Beautiful" (Brunetterecords)
Williams has won the ‘South Australian Songwriter Of The Year’ award three times if that gives you any inkling as to what awaits you on this disc. The ten songs on this release are extremely mellow but uplifting and rejuvenating. Williams mixes breezy bits of jazzy guitar with minimal percussion and vocals that bring to mind Dave Matthews falsetto at times. Think of Les Paul and Dave Matthews sitting on a couple of stools together jamming away and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what’s in store. My favorite track is “A Brief Moment Of Clarity”.
www.calwilliams.co.uk
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Bebek,"Open Eyes" (Indie Release)
Bebek’s blend of organic electronica has propelled the band to become one of Philly’s biggest draws. “807 Dub” sounds a bit like the soundtrack to an Addams Family movie directed by Tim Burton. “Lead” has a Goldfinger feel that is pretty infectious. Lynn Michalopoulos has a beautifully sexy voice that can make the little hairs on the back of your neck stand up at times. Open Eyes is an album full of songs that are just dying to make their way onto movie soundtracks. Think “Live And Let Die”.
www.bebekmusic.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Merendine Atomiche,"Raw" (Mausoleum)
Italian melodic metal clan Meredine Atomiche’s latest 11-track endeavor runs the gamut from thrash to progressive metal, citing everyone from System of a Down to Queensryche on RAW. Produced by metal guru Jack Frost, usually known more for his work on the frontlines, this quintet tread the commercial metal line very carefully, implementing unforgettable melodies inside of jackhammer grooves like the title cut and “Breathe the Big Apple” (a cut that could’ve come from Metallica’s ST. ANGER sessions) for maximum metal output. Understanding the dynamics of stripped-down visceral angst while building layers of metal a la Megadeth and Killing Joke in the process, RAW is an album title that gets it half right, as this offering’s stellar production emits the kind of unfettered feelings of buzzing metal with the pristine gloss of a band going into its second decade of metallic excellence.
www.mausoleum-records.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Attitude,"We All Go Down Together" (1917)
Crunchy hardcore with dollops of sturdy riffs which switch between monstrously mid-paced and lightning fast breakdowns under a punkish vibe, Syracuse, NY’s Attitude do a fine job paying homage to hardcore’s heroes without plagiarizing them on WE ALL GO DOWN TOGETHER. Seamlessly blending Sick of It All’s subtle yet effective methods with the rock sensibilities of The Hope Conspiracy, songs like “Scumbag” are surefire moshpit flair-ups complete with a wartime drumbeat breakdown that just screams for chaos, while “This is Personal” and “Get Shit Started” denotes the rock flavors of The Bronx with the snarl of F-Minus. Laden with hyperkinetic energy and bursting with enthusiasm, Attitude is a band whose unbridled passion yields an endless array of finely spun hardcore goodness. If you need to rage, this nine-track endeavor is an excellent choice of musical accompaniment.
www.1917records.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Guns Up!,"Outlive" (1917)
Guns Up! play the kind of hardcore that cries East Coast stomp, as this Boston-based quintet’s 11-track offering OUTLIVE showcases a band reared on the wares of Madball, 25 Ta Life, and fellow statesmen Blood for Blood. This outfit’s declaration of imminence spills across cuts like “Spitting Words”, whose archetypical NYHC-inspired intro goes as old school as possible, and the Leeway-esque crossover slam of “Life’s Ill” with an unabashed conviction that only true students of the game seem to be able to pull off. “Won’t Change For Me” encompasses the best Guns Up! has to offer, exhibiting the necessary tough guy hardcore ferocity in a relentless 1:33 barrage sans any excess. If you like it subtle, simple, and scorching, OUTLIVE is the disc you need to buy.
www.1917records.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Misery Index,"Discordia" (Relapse)
The brutality set forth by Misery Index’s latest release DISCORDIA sounds like the soundtrack to a war, as this blistering 10-track affair is an endless cavalcade of chaos from the opener “Unmarked Graves” until the grinding madness of “Pandemican” burns through your hapless speakers. Getting in touch with Napalm Death as much as they do Bolt Thrower, this hardcore-tinged death metal crew’s latest furious assault is accentuated with blast beats galore, guttural vocals reminiscent of the pioneer days of thrashy grindcore, and a ferocious flow of pulverizing riff after another on cuts like “Conquistadores” and “Breathing Pestilence”. Not letting its listeners rest for one second, DISCORDIA is an album you need to work up to, as its sheer heaviness and utter chunkiness will undoubtedly leave the novices wincing in pain. Pick this up and get on the bus before it leaves you beneath the wheels.
www.relapse.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Fall of Serenity,"Bloodred Salvation" (Lifeforce)
German metal crew Fall of Serenity plays the kind of tight, well-manicured death metal with the melodic punch of its Swedish counterparts on BLOODRED SALVATION, the quintet’s fourth full-length release.Almost packing an arena rock clobber with its slightly electronically charged riffs found on “Twin Curse”, these guys have found the way the 6,547th way to distinctly ape At The Gates, with shards of Heaven Shall Burn and Caliban strewn in for good measure. Dastardly riffs like the one found on “As I Watch” has an American metalcore feel a la All That Remains, while tracks like “A Piece of You” provides your basic melodic death metal fodder. Somewhere between Soilwork and As I Lay Dying, Fall of Serenity is following the gameplan note for note.
www.lifeforce-america.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Deadsoil,"Sacrifice" (Lifeforce)
German metalcore troupe Deadsoil mosh it up on its 12-track endeavor SACRIFICE. Ever wonder what the spawn of Hatebreed and Fear Factory would sound like? Wonder no more, as this quintet have painstakingly done all of the calibrations for you, and have conjured up tracks like the searing “Echoes” and the sinewy yet groovy “Forget Everything”. Featuring a multitude of breakdowns, a throat-ripping lead vocal, and a love for thrash and Swedish metal guitar tones, Deadsoil displays some solid efforts yet falls way short in the creative department, ultimately lumping them in the massive pile of metalcore bands that virtually turn all the same tricks.
www.lifeforce-america.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Cult of Luna,"Somewhere Along the Highway" (Earache)
Swedish sensation Cult of Luna outdo themselves again on the expansive eight-piece outfit's latest, the staggeringly stunning seven-track SOMEWHERE ALONG THE HIGHWAY. Songs like "And With Her Came the Birds" display this group's unmatchable prowess of constructing massive atmospheres and luscious soundscapes while "Dark City, Dead Man" is just one example which showcases the pristine guitars, dramatic percussion, and rousing arrangements which morphs from moody instrumental interlude to harshly vocalized post-hardcore and full-on avant garde metal. Marvelous and triumphant, Cult of Luna's grandiose style, immense depth, and uncanny knack to roll Pink Floyd, Tool, Isis, and Neurosis into one is a must for fans of viscerally soul crushing and multi-faceted metal, and makes for the most elegant heavy listening experience of this year.
www.earache.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Bal-Sagoth,"The Chthonic Chronicles" (Candlelight)
British blackened power metal troupe Bal-Sagoth returns after a five-year drought with the 12-track THE CHTHONIC CHRONICLES, an epic release that fuses beauty and brutality like no other band on the planet. Heavy and brooding as any corpsepainted act you can name (Cradle of Filth comes to mind the most), yet majestic enough to go toe to toe with bands like Blind Guardian and Luca Turlli, this quintet's uber regal presence and crushing power metal meets fantasy novel fare may seem a bit over the top (as are the band's ridiculously long song titles), but the fact is that there is no one else currently merging these different genres of metal together as well as this juggernaut. Where else do you get flute, galloping guitars, lush orchestrations containing strings and woodwinds, emphatic spoken word vocals, and symphonically charged metal with a touch of evil all in one package? Folks, this one is a steal, and should keep all of the obsessive metal geeks occupied for quite some time. Grab your scythe, Viking helmet, black robes, and action figures and get whisked away into the magical world Bal-Sagoth has created for you and your slightly demonically escapist side.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


This Is Hell,"Sundowning" (Trustkill)
Long Island hardcore crew This is Hell utilize a much broader scope of influence than their multi-layered hardcore scenster peers, as a listen of this crafty outfit's latest release SUNDOWNING would suggest. This band, comprised of vets of Long Island hardcore, jump from Comeback Kid-esque bounciness on "Nobody Leaves Without Singing the Blues" to the snarl of Sick of It All on "Retrospect". Showcasing the wide array of angry yet melodic hardcore they can churn out, tracks like "Epilogue" and the infectious "Here Comes the Rains" are turned inside out of shards of Snapcase, American Nightmare, and Ignite and then translated with an unmistakably Long Island hardcore accent a la Glassjaw across the 13-track endeavor, even taking the moody angst of bands like Bleeding Kansas and Modern Life is War to heart on "The Absentee Ballot". Providing a strong mix of highly energetic, boldly exclaimed, and slickly produced hardcore, purists will hate this, but their little brothers will be throwing roundhouses to it by the end of the summer.
www.trustkill.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Catch 22,"Permanent Revolution" (Victory)
Ska-punk concept album anyone? New Jersey's Catch 22 throws everyone a curveball with PERMANENT REVOLUTION, taking a very risky road and reaping major rewards for doing so. Based on the life of Marxist theorist Leon Trotsky (how's that for heady?), this horn-infested, fist pumping 11-track collection has a lot to offer to the adventurous type. While the outfit's cheeky cleverness is commendable and gives the band a much richer repertoire to draw from that hits everything from Elvis Costello to Less Than Jake, it lacks the typical sophomoric ska-punk energy that most ska fans crave. Thankfully, Catch 22 replaced those traits with flashes of musical wonderment like the old school island flavor of "Alma Ata" and bouncy imminence usually attached to Bad Religion on "On the Black Sea" and "Party Song", so that when their fans hit 21, they can pull this album out of their collection and still rock out to it.
www.victoryrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Vried,"Pitch Black Brigade" (Candlelight)
Norwegian black metal clan Vreid's latest dark endeavor PITCH BLACK BRIGADE contains everything an extreme metal fan would want in an album. There's a plethora of unadulterated misanthropy strewn across tracks like "Hang 'Em All" and "Pitch Black" to satisfy the black metal communities rabid hunger for all things raw. Yet Vreid proves itself to be a bit more than that (after all, this band does boast ex-members of Windir) and decisively steps out of the box on this eight-track offering. By displaying an attentiveness a more Entombed, less Emperor groove which surpasses your average Norwegian metal band's delivery on "Left to Hate" while branching into areas of electronic ambiance on before unleashing the hellacious harshness that buzzsaw guitars on "Hengebjorki" bring, Vreid's volatile arsenal of weaponry is the band's most potent attribute, and catapults PITCH BLACK BRIGADE from ordinary to intriguing.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Wayward,"The Wayward" (Black Box)
Caustic art school punk rock would be a good place to start when describing the Washington DC trio The Wayward, as this outfit, risen from the ashes of Carrion, play hard boiled indie rock with angular riffs and fire in their bellies. Loud but not overly threatening, this nine-track affair highlights a style that matches Fugazi with the Mars Volta, an odd mix that cohesively crashes into one another on tracks like "Corrosive Qualities" and the unorthodox time signatured "Balthazar". Noisy, disjointed, and full of vitriolic vigor, with songs like "Cross Section", The Wayward have effectively whipped up the perfect amalgamation of smashmouth and avant-garde punk rock for people that reject anything mainstream and embrace combining progressive thinking and hard music.
www.myspace.com/bbrec
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Our rating system:

Flawless...
Almost perfect...
Moments of brilliance...
Slightly redeeming...
Worthless piece of $#%@...
Extremely BAD! Should be illegal to possess...

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