Music Reviews: January 2007

Complete Control/Krum Bums,"Death Can Wait…" (TKO Records)
Hardcore meets old school punk on Death Can Wait, another one of TKO Records “split” CD series, this time featuring 2 Austin, Texas based bands, Complete Control and the Krum Bums. Complete Control, formed in Austin circa 1999 , named themselves after the Clash song and quickly became a favorite among the city’s punk rock community. The band released their first album “Reaction” in 2004 to enthusiastic reviews, and now return with two new songs and a cover of the Krum Bums’ Cease Fire on this six track CD. On We Were Dead, Sam Ghanbar’s (aka “Sambo”) vocals are aggressive without lapsing into indecipherable screaming, and juxtaposed with the background shouts, it makes for an interesting vocal line. The guitar work is frenetic without totally losing control , a little bit Motorhead, a little bit Descendants. Even the guitar solo has a bit of melody to it. The rhythm section comes across strong on Leave Us Alone, providing a solid foundation for vocals and guitar. The band’s cover of the Krum Bums’ Cease Fire is true to the original with Ghanbar’s vocals giving it the distinctive Complete Control stamp.

The Krum Bums, who are on tour supporting the Casualties, also hail from Austin. Definitely more thrash than Complete Control, they blaze and snarl through their two original songs, In Sickness We Prevailand Misery. The Bums do a cover of CC’s Are You Ready? as speed punk meets death metal. Not for the faint of heart. Note for collectors-500 copies of this split will be released on vinyl.
www.myspace.com/completecontrol
www.myspace.com/krumbums
Rating:

Review by Jade Blackmore


The Strays,"Le Futur Noir" (TVT Records)
If you took the Killers, Muse, Keane or any of the current batch of neatly dressed Brit/NY bands, amped them up a bit, and threw in an occasional Nirvana riff, you’d get The Strays. The band cites the Clash and the Replacements as influences, but they’re a bit hardcore, from their Fight Club style video for Life Support to their real, rough n tumble onstage demeanor. Singer Toby Marriot is the son of Small Faces’ singer/guitarist Steve Marriot. The band recently toured with the Buzzcocks and are opening some dates for the revamped Veruca Salt.
www.thestrays.net
Rating:

Review by Jade Blackmore



The Joneses,"Tits And Champagne" [12” vinyl ep] (Full Breach Kicks)
The Joneses were a trash rock ‘n’ roll band from the eighties that hailed from Hollywood. Cooking up a lethal mix of the New York Dolls, Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent, the Flamin’ Groovies and the Stones they were part punk, part glam and 100% raw rock ‘n’ roll. Songs about sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll were just theme songs to go along with their sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. This 12” vinyl EP is a reissue of their 1989 record on Trigon Records with the addition of the song “Bad Attitude”. Vinyl is definitely the best way to enjoy this band. Any other format would just be blasphemy in my humble opinon. Favorite tracks: “I Wanna Buy You A Ring”, “Your Cheatin’ Heart” and the title track. Full Breach always comes through with the killer stuff.
www.fullbreach77.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Various Artists,"Death By Salt 2" (Slug Magazine)
Damn! Not only do these guys know how to put together a compilation but they know how to do a killer job of packaging it as well. This two cd comp comes in two tins with individual artwork and a full set of collector cards featuring each of the forty-two bands represented here. Yeah, that’s forty-two songs for your listening pleasure so you’re definitely getting the most bang for your buck with this release. You’ll get everything from the half Duran Duran half Gang Of Four monster of Vile Blue Shades to the dark and trippy heavy rock sounds of the Morlocks to the down and dirty Cream style blues rock riffing of The Wolfs to funky Talking Heads rambling of Fifi Murmur and all points inbetween. Hey, I just noticed that disc two contains the songs listed as disc one and vice versa. Maybe this is just a glitch with the promo copy. Anyway, no matter how you list it the music is still top notch.
www.slugmag.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


The Loved Ones,"Keep Your Heart" (Fat Wreck Chords)
Tight as hell punk rock with a pop edge is what this band brings to the surface on their debut record. Songs about fear of rejection, depression and heartache. A perfect cocktail for your Friday night. Tunes like “Jane” and “Sickening” are sure to become sweaty pit anthems for the kids. But there’s a bundle of hooks here for listeners who like some sweetness with their angst. Welding the melodic interplay of Face To Face with the 3 piece tightness of Shades Apart, this one is a “slam dunk” as that idiot politician would say.
www.thelovedonesband.com
Rating:

Review by Sean Koepenick


Jules Shear,"Dreams Don’t Count" (Mad Dragon Records)
Jules Shear is back after a couple years of silence with this new release. Over a sparse background of bass, accordion, and viola, this talented songwriter again offers up some superb songs that will bring a smile to even the most hardened music fan. The CD starts out with “Bad Connection” and remains consistent until the end. Other memorable tunes include “Sinners Who Believed” and the title track. If you like singer songwriters who will make you think but also provide a beautiful sonic landscape for your hopes and dreams, Jules is your man, and this is your disc. As Jules sings-“I’m afraid dreams don’t count/you can go dreaming on a star/I’m afraid dreams don’t count/it only matters where you really are.”
www.julesshearmusic.com
Rating:

Review by Sean Koepenick


Freeheat,"Back On The Water" (Planting Seeds Records)
This is a killer mix of Love And Rockets and Jesus And Mary Chain. I love it! I started trying to count the number of times they say f*ck on this disc but I lost track after one song. Freeheat was put together shortly after the demise of Jesus And Mary Chain when frontman Jim Reid hooked up with a couple ex-members of the legendary Gun Club. There isn’t one song on this disc that doesn’t deserve to be on the album. It’s a non-stop rock ‘n’ roll masterpiece from start to finish and it’s earned it’s spot in my collection right next to Mr. Pop and the other Stooges.
www.plantingseeds.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


The Dirty Novels,"Stealing Kisses" (Indie Release)
First, I got to say thanks to the guys for getting another promo copy out to me when the first one arrived broken. I’m so glad they did because there’s some really great sounding garage pop on this disc. Killer tracks like “Viscious You”, “Show Me”, “Stars Won’t Shine For You” and “My Love Is Electric”. The “Recommended If You Like” section of their press release mentions the Strokes but I dig these guys so much more than the Strokes that it isn’t even funny. Well worth checking out.
www.thedirtynovels.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


The Doxies,"In Search Of…" (Emergency Umbrella Records)
Solid record from this Columbia, MO 5 piece. Shades of Wilco and Whiskeytown here, but the band still keeps their own sound in the forefront. Although all the band members sing, it’s newest member Phylshawn Johnson’s back-ups that will resonate with most listeners. “Touch And Go” and “Radio” simply rule. Other than the cheesy disco misstep of “Take You Anywhere”, this CD is a keeper. Download it on to your MP3 player and take off that one track and you’ve got yourself one sweet potato pie of a record.
www.thedoxies.com
Rating:

Review by Sean Koepenick



Unison,"The Sum" [10” vinyl] (Rimbaud Records)
This hardcore band from Belgrade , Serbia is on myspace and all you hardcore fans, young and old, should definitely give them a listen. This is the limited edition 10” vinyl version of “The Sum”. It was also released on cd on Ha-Ko Bastards Records in Serbia . Unison has the lightning tempos and spirit of an old school bands like the Bad Brains, Minor Threat and Black Flag. Their musical godfathers laid the groundwork and these guys from a place halfway around the world are taking it to a whole new generation. And the beat goes on…
www.myspace.com/unison011
www.rimbaudrecords.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Dennis Most And The Instigators,"I’m Not Dead Yet" (Indie Release)
Well, he’s definitely not dead yet. Most, with the help of his Instigators, is pumping out monstrous tunes with more spunk than a frontman half his age. There’s some really killer tracks here. Take the title track for instance. There’s also three tasty covers on the album as well. “Teenage Head” by the Flamin’ Groovies, “Down On The Street” by the Stooges and “Angela by the Pagans. I dig the Groovies cover the most with the Stooges running a close second. There’s some really cool stuff here.
www.dennismostinstigator.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Horace Pinker,"Texas One Ten" (Thick Records)
Fourth full length from this Chicago four piece, this record bursts at the seams with melodic inventions in every song. Pleasant harmonies, beer can crushing good guitar riffage and solid songwriting to back it up. Any fans of Face To Face, Down By Law, or Fugazi will find something on here that they dig. “More At Home” laments the changing of the guard so to speak-“Every night you go out I’m at home not thinking of you or Milwaukee like that painting left undone/you have left yourself become a red-eyed regular just another/.” The title track and “Half Way” are also killer tunes on this slab o’ goodness. You need this record for your next pit BBQ-put the pig on the skewer and turn it up.
www.horacepinker.com
Rating:

Review by Sean Koepenick


Chris Bailey & The General Dog,"Bone Box" (Liberation Blue Records)
Interesting reworking of his “hits” in a mostly acoustic setting. For someone just getting familiar with Bailey’s work in and out of The Saints, this may be the perfect one-hitter. From “Stranded” to “Just Like Fire Would” they cover all the big ones, giving them a much different spin than the original recorded versions. Solo material like “Ghost Ships” fits in this collection perfectly. “Misunderstood” and “Know Your Product” also appear here in subtle perfection. Bailey is ably backed up by Peter Wilkinson, Caspar Wijnberg, and Adam Bar-Pereg and Sahand Sahebdivani. This last player handles something called a “tar.” I won’t know one if I ran over it with my car. But I do know this is a great record.
www.saintsmusic.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by Sean Koepenick


The Electric Kisses,"The Electric Kisses" (Full Breach Kicks)
This trio is at the top of my favorites list at the moment. Eleven slabs of the catchiest pop punk your eardrums have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. They sort of remind me of the Riff Randalls, Nikki and the Corvettes and the Ramones all rolled into one neat little package. “Jaxom” is one song I just can’t seem to get enough of. This is one band that I’m already looking forward to getting their next release.
www.fullbreach77.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Various Artists,"Full Breach Kicks – CD Sampler #1" (Full Breach Kicks)
Hey, this is Full Breach Kicks! I’ve never received a release from this label I didn’t like. You get a taste of all the great bands like the Street Brats, Rock ‘N’ Roll Stormtroopers, Soho Roses, The Soda Pop Kids, my man Kevin K and his Real Kool Kats, Chaz Matthews, The Joneses, The Electric Kisses, Dimestore Haloes, Urgencies and The Black Beauties. Two songs by each band so there’s plenty of late seventies style rock ‘n’ roll to keep your attention as well as your neighbors attention when you crank the volume up. Here’s your perfect party mix tape.
www.fullbreach77.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Ellie Come Home,"Primary Sources" (Emergency Umbrella Records)
I’m sure the intentions were good, but somehow this type of instrumentation simply doesn’t do it for me. Remember when Yngwie Malmsteen would “unleash the fury” on a guitar solo but oddly be backed up by a harpsichord? This is what this album reminds me of for some reason. Baroque chamber rock just isn’t my bag.
www.emergencyumbrella.com
Rating:

Review by Sean Koepenick


The Stills,"Without Feathers" (Vice Recordings)
For some reason some of this band’s fans wanted them to keep making different versions of their debut over and over again. I say that’s complete balderdash! The only way to stay fresh as those Pillsbury crescent rolls is to explore, and The Still accomplish that with flair on this release. Some change in sound can be attributed to the drummer now playing guitar and Colin Brooks (ex-Sea Ray) coming on board to bang the kit. But the core Stills sound is still there. “Helicopters” and “Destroyer” are fine additions to the band’s set, as pretty much all these songs here are as well. Any band that has the chutzpah to put a song called “Outro” in the middle of their record is OK in my book.
www.thestills.net
Rating:

Review by Sean Koepenick


Marty Rudnick,"More Songs About Cars And Girls" (Sandbox Records)
Beach Boys style songs about just what the title says, cars and girls. A little too mellow for my tastes but quite enjoyable all the same. The album sounds as though it just might be some long lost tracks pulled from the Capitol vault. This is some of the best recorded Beach Boys / Beatles influenced pop that I’ve heard. I have to give him his due, Rudnick is one hell of a musician and it comes through in each and every track. If you’re a Beatles, Beach Boys or Rubinoos fan then you’ll love this.
www.sandboxrecords.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Kevin K,"Rockin’ Roll Dynamite" (Full Breach Kicks)
Kevin K is rock ‘n’ roll dynamite in every sense. The guy eats, drinks and breathes rock ‘n’ roll. I would say sleeps rock ‘n’ roll but I doubt they do much sleeping. They kick their latest disc off with one down and dirty track titled “Down In The Sewer”. The song is a great example of how this band has perfected their sound over the years. The title track is a tense rocker with an ominous beat. I’m really digging the high octane hard rockabilly sounding “For You My Love” and the driving “All Fixed Up”. Old school rock ‘n’ roll in the same vein as the Dead Boys.
www.fullbreach77.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Between Two Lions,"Put This On My Shoulders" (Indie Release)
Alt-country in much the same vein as bands like Wilco, Uncle Tupelo and Whiskeytown. “Put This On My Shoulders” is an album with an intimate feel that you don’t normally get from bands of the same genre. Songs like “Approximity Affect”, “Blessed Steamroller”, “Letter From The Inside” and “A Mouth Full Of Magic” feel as comfortable as a worn flannel shirt on a cool fall morning. If you’re a fan of any of the bands mentioned then you’ll soon be a fan of Between Two Lions.
www.betweentwolions.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Atomic Buddha,"Atomic Buddha" (Indie Release)
Lo-fi garage rock with a seventies punk edge. Mixing everything from the Ramones to the Who to the Cramps and all points inbetween. This album sounds as though it were recorded in a basement on a cheap recorder which is exactly the way garage rock should be captured for all prosperity. The songs are catchy, the guitar is fuzzed out, the vocals are snotty, the drummer is pounding away like Keith Moon on meth. It’s the perfect recipe for a garage rock classic.
kgrave2000@hotmail.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Three Peace,"For The Love Of The Rastaman" (Indie Release)
With a list of influences that include Bob Marley, The Police, Sting, Andy Summers, Jimmie Cliff, Stewart Copeland, The English Beat, Shaggy, Peter Tosh and Ziggy Marley as well as Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Sublime, Green Day, U2, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, John Mellencamp, The Grateful Dead, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Steely Dan, Grand Funk Railroad, Les Claypool and Rush you just know these guys are going to deliver the goods. Well, they do deliver the goods. This is a great reggae album that deserves a spot in your collection. Highly recommended.
www.threepeace.org
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Kevin Bilchik,"Paper Money" (Red Pill Records)
This six song cd EP is singer/songwriter Kevin Bilchik’s debut release on Red Pill Records. Bilchik reminds me a lot of Ike Reilly. For some unexplainable reason the songs on “Paper Money” remind me of songs on Reilly’s “Salesmen And Racists” album. This is definitely a compliment seeing how I think Reilly is one of the best unknown artists out there. These songs don’t have quite the bite of “Salesmen And Racists” but they sure do paint a very detailed picture. This release is a testament to Bilchik’s talent as a wordsmith.
www.redpillonline.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Kottak,"Therupy" (Escapi Music)
If you like pretty songs with sweet lyrics then you’re just shit out of luck with this one. These guys and gal only know how to play high octane rock ‘n’ roll. They kick the disc off with a down and dirty version of Cyndi Lauper’s “Money Changes Everything”. Next up is “Ripped” which sounds like a classic Cheap Trick song if I’ve ever heard one. “Do You Want To Play” digs in even harder with it’s nasty guitar hooks. “Anti” is a rap rock song in much the same vein as Limp Bizkit with a “Frankenstein” keyboard break.
www.krunkland.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Ouija Radio,"Oh No…Yes! Yes!" (Crustacean Records)
I’d say it’s safe to say that this Minneapolis trio isn’t like anything you’ve heard in a while. Vocalist Christy Hunt gives an all out performance that would make Dinah Cancer proud. I’d go so far as to say that if you have anything by 45 Grave in your collection then you will love Ouija Radio. I would call this a psychedelic goth album if there is such a thing. And, if there isn’t, well there is now. My favorite track is the Sex Pistols meets the Who monstrosity of a song titled “Spirit Of The Ox”. “Spinning Cyclone Death Machine” takes the prize for spookiest track.
www.crustaceanrecords.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Dark Water Transit,"Dawn Of The Goblin" (Let Em Talk Records)
This album revisits the music from the classic cult movie Dawn Of The Dead by Italian prog-rock band Goblin. It’s a great date album to stick in the player while driving on some deserted dirt road late at night. Even the most loveable dork looks completely sinister when this is blasting from the stereo and it’s guaranteed to make those lovely little blonde hairs on the back of your girlfriends neck stand straight up. I’ll be playing this as I give out candy this Halloween.
www.letemtalk.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Hail The Size,"Side Two" (Indie Release)
Charles Ezell sounds so much like Steve Earle that it’s spooky. If I had not looked at the cd before I stuck it in the player I would have swore I was listening to Earle. The five songs on this EP are clever, alt-country songs that will let a little bit of sunshine into your day and maybe even put a smile on your face to boot. “Booze, Pills & Her” is a soon to be classic. “Mean Means I Love You” is a song about spouse abuse in which the abuser believes the harder he hits the deeper his love. “The Ass Kicking Song” pretty much paints its own picture as well as “The 7/11 Song”.
www.hailthesize.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Betsy Spivak,"The Scratch On My Vinyl Soul" (Indie Release)
Betsy Spivak could be the next Mary Lou Lord. Her songs are quite similar to Lords. They seem all warm and fuzzy on the surface but just below that surface these songs have teeth. Not only do they have teeth they have a damn nasty bite as well. They just lurk around waiting for their chance to pounce and most of the time you never know what just hit you. My favorite track is “Trailer Trash” with “Midnight At The Whirly Bar” running a close second.
www.betsyspivak.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Tom Staley And Rick Harper,"Thenceforward" (Hi Variety)
Here’s where you’ll find the real King of Pop or should I say Kings of Pop. Tom Staley was the drummer for NRBQ and he played on their first four albums. Rick Harper has been making great pop albums for years. When you put these two together you’re bound to get something pretty great and it seems we got all that and a shake. “Time Bomb” explodes from your speakers like confetti from the buildings on Times Square during Dick Clark’s New Years Eve party. This is a great disc for any pop fan.
www.thenceforward.org
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Hallelujah Boy,"Noise And Silence" (Indie Release)
Hallelujah Boy began as a lo-fi, four-track home recording project for J.B. Whittenburg back in 1998. An elementary school reading teacher at the time, he spent the next five years refining his sound. In 2005 a full band was put together which featured Rich Patt on drums and Greg Lewis on keyboards. There’s been no turning back ever since. “Noise And Silence” is a catchy alternative pop rock album that will embed itself into your psyche.
www.hallelujahboy.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Tobias Frobera,"Somewhere In The City" (Cheap Lullaby Records)
This has a jazzy pop feel most of the time but it’s not exactly what you would imagine. Take the song “When The Night Turns Cold” for example. It has a funky Beck inspired flavor to it with a bit of a spiritual flare. The title track sounds and grooves like Paul Simon at his best. “Oh My Love (Here She Comes Again)” falls somewhere between John Lennon and Simon & Garfunkel. “Forever Is Just A Word In A Lovesong” sounds strikingly similar to Uncle Jessie’s hit song “Forever” from the TV show Full House.
www.cheaplullaby.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


When The Big River Floods,"Circles" (Well Below Records)
Hey, it’s the Band on a mind expanding acid trip of some sort. I can almost picture Robbie Robertson with a big intoxicated grin on his face. With a list of influences that include Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Johnny Cash and Tom Waits as well as the music of Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot and John Coltrane. This trio, yes I said trio although they do get the occasional help from additional drummers and horns, is about as truly alternative as a band can get. If you look up alternative in the dictionary there should be a picture of these guys.
www.wellbelowrecords.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Andrew Benon,"Rock And Roll Moves" (Steward Of Pop)
This guy must have one hell of an eighties record collection. A hell of a collection from around 1980 to 1985 to be more exact. Lots of Prince, Michael Jackson, Roxy Music, Psychedelic Furs, The Police, David Bowie, Tears For Fears, Wham, etc… This guy would have sold millions of records if he had of made this album around 1983. The title track alone would have been a big enough hit to have paid for a Ferrari and a Lamborghini. What a difference a couple of decades will make. Favorite track: “Farmingtown”.
www.andrewbenon.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


The Chelsea Smiles,"Thirty Six Hours Later" (Acetate Records)
When Todd Youth, formerly of Danzig, D-Generation and Motorhead, was finally released from his contract with Capitol Records he took his band into the studio. He was determined to capture the energy of the bands live show. Thirty six hours later the band wrapped up what was to become “Thirty Six Hours Later”. As far as capturing their live show energy. Well, the proof is in the pudding so to speak. The cd leads off with “Nothing Wrong”, a hard rocking I’m o’kay you’re an asshole anthem with some good old Ace Frehley style lead work. “Heart Attack” is a radio ballad / rocker with a punk edge. There’s all kinds of great rock ‘n’ roll guitar riffing going on throughout the album. This is great stuff for fans of everything from the New York Dolls to Social Distortion.
www.acetate.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Future Whirl,"Sister Of Light-Mystic Journey-Sun Whirl" (Indie Release)
Three tracks that clock in at a little over sixteen minutes. Soaring, sparse arrangements made to enlighten and free the listener. This is devotional music for your inner being. All I can tell you is that it’s way too deep for an over the hill punk rocker like myself. You’ll have to check this one out for yourself.
www.futurewhirl.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Strangefire,"Shazbot Munkie" (Postdawn Nurseries Music)
I went to the website for this bands record label and the labels slogan is “Ambient, Psychedelic, Experimental, and Atmospheric Music for your Psychic Tastebuds”. Hell, that’s exactly what you get here. One things for sure, they can’t be charged for false advertising. Eighteen tracks of strangely beautiful music with somewhat haunting lyrics. This is the bands second album on Postdawn Nurseries and the vocals and guitar of Mike Ash are somewhat more in the forefront on this one.
www.postdawnmusic.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Various Artists,"Easy To Be Free: The Songs Of Rick Nelson" (Planting Seeds Records)
If anyone deserves a tribute compilation it’s Rick Nelson. From his rockabilly roots to his country rock rise to stardom, Nelson always made his music on his terms. This compilation is a tasteful tribute from twenty-one artists. Featuring The Primary 5, The Voyces, Jeff Mellin, Oed Ronne, Linda Draper, Nic Dalton & The Gloomchasers, Jeffery Foskett, Astropop3, Denny Sarokin, 1888, Dolorean, Michael Barrett, John Beland, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band founding member John Mceuen, Jeff Larson, Marshall Crenshaw, Liz Durrett, Allen Clapp, The Autumn Leaves and Aaron Booth.
www.plantingseeds.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


3 Pill Morning,"Life Dynamic EP" (Indie Release)
Modern alternative music from a band that was formed in 2003. With their brand of catchy rock they quickly moved from weekend warriors to touring extensively. College radio seemed to love these guys and the feeling was mutual. This is their third EP and from the sound of it the majors are just around the corner. The cd wisely contains two versions of the infectious song “Pretty Woman Syndrome”, one being the radio friendly clean version.
www.3pillmorning.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Skittish,"Tragedy Of The Commons" (Indie Release)
Skittish was born in 2004 out of a line of failed main-stream rock projects for college graduate Jeff Noller. Noller had played in many pop-rock bands during college, but he yearned to do something a little different this time around. “…from my parents basement.” was what transpired from his self imposed stint of exile with nothing but an odd batch of instruments, Pro Tools and a Mac. After a brief mental vacation from music Noller wrote “Tragedy Of The Commons” in one month and recorded the whole thing himself in less than four months. It’s a quirky batch of songs that will leave you feeling a bit happier.
www.iamskittish.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Black Diamond Heavies,"Every Damn Time" (Alive Records)
It’s nice to see the Black Diamond Heavies finally get some much deserved attention. Folks in Chattanooga have known about this duo for quite some time. Their unique brand of music, a mixture of blues, soul , rock ‘n’ roll and punk played on a Fender Rhodes and set of drums, have been a staple of the local scene for a while. It’s nice to see their congregation growing and their gospel being spread both far and wide. So, brothers and sisters, as the good book says “seek and ye shall find”.
www.alivenergy.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Radio Moscow,"Radio Moscow" (label)
How often does one get to review a psychedelic blues rock band from Iowa? Not very damn often but this trio sure did everything in their power to make this one count. There’s plenty of fuzzed out garage and blues guitar workouts to keep you busy for hours just closing your eyes and nodding your head like you’re in some kind of hypnotic trance. Think of an album that’s one half Allman Brothers and one half Amboy Dukes and you might be in the ballpark.
www.alivenergy.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


The Bloody Hollies,"Who To Trust, Who To Kill, Who To Love" (Alive Records)
Same band, completely different approach. Well, not completely different, everything still kicks like a mule. It’s just that there’s much more as far as dynamics on this album than the stripped down and basic approach of “Fire At Will” or even 2005’s “If Footmen Tire You…”. Wesley Doyle takes on more of Jack White persona on this one and a little less of the Bon Scott persona of “Fire At Will”. It doesn’t matter how you slice it, dice it or mince it up it’s still some of the best rock ‘n’ roll to ever pierce a set of eardrums. Get it!
www.alivenergy.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Atakhama,"Existence Indifferent" (Woodcut)
Rising from the ashes of Funeris Nocturnum, Finnish metal troupe Atakhama strive to combine Eastern European black metal bludgeonings with a discernible Florida-style death metal crunch on EXISTENCE INDIFFERENT, making this nine-track offering a tumultuous yet technically sound disc. Tracks like "Predatory Acts" feature an incessant double-bass drum barrage and an atypical guttural growl that you can actually understand, while the instrumental title track hits levels usually reserved for the likes of Morbid Angel and Zyklon with squelching guitars morphing into a blistering black metal mechanism. Prepare to be blown away by the interesting merger of styles conjured up by Atakhama.
www.woodcutrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Divided By Zero,"The Black Sea" (Sik World)
A plethora of hard rock styles collide on Divided By Zero's 15-track offering, giving THE BLACK SEA a lot for the listener to grasp hold of. From the heavier Disturbed by way of Avenged Sevenfold aura of "Double Negative" to the 311-esque funk of "Strike in the Time-Bomb Town" and "Ashes of Armies", this San Diego based outfit manages to churn out some uninspired, slickly produced nuggets ready for modern rock radio airwaves or the speakers of the shopping mall's alternative shops. When the band tones it down such on "The World is Not Mine", they've got a somewhat earthy vibe that truly gets undermined by the nu-metal meanderings of tracks like "Damn the Dream". If you dig Flaw, Buckcherry, and Godsmack and are seeking a super-polished hybrid of these bands rolled into one, THE BLACK SEA is the album you've been waiting for.
www.sikworld.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Crash Romeo,"Minutes To Miles" (Trustkill)
"Pop rock sensation" Crash Romeo hail from the mecca of pop rock, New Jersey, and play the kind of innocuous power punk that so many faceless acts these days are trying to commandeer. On this quintet comprised of childhood friends' 11-track release, there's a whole lot of hullabaloo for the Warped Tour crowd to gush over, from the huge hooks and synth underlays of "Get Up, Shut Up", the infectious chorus of the title track, and the dance-rock sensibilities displayed on "Hot Commodity". Despite the fact that these guys are undeniably tight and play with a enthusiasm that can't be faked, their whiny style seems to ape Brand New, Taking Back Sunday, and Motion City Soundtrack simultaneously without any real sense of identity of their own, causing many to skip right over MINUTES TO MILES and go to the original source.
www.trustkill.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Ignite,"Our Darkest Days" (Abacus)
After a six-year hiatus from recording, the rejuvenated Orange County, CA hardcore outfit Ignite come out swinging with a vengeance on OUR DARKEST DAYS. Retaining its signature sound, the 14 tracks that adorn this meaningfully masterful release harken back to the band's salad days without any sense of retread or shame. Instead, tracks like "Let it Burn" and "Save Yourself" carry the same vitriolic virtue and socially conscious slam of much of the band's incendiary works, while the rapid-fire "Are You Listening" displays fast-paced melodic hardcore at its best, with a short, punchy delivery and effectively tinged with an air of reservation. In fact, a lot of this disc is laden with these traits, sans the band's last two tracks, the done to death cover of U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and the out of left field acoustic "Live for Better Days". If Ignite stopped at track 12, they'd have an arguably flawless blueprint of what melodic hardcore should entail. Even with these glitches, OUR DARKEST DAYS far and away does the job, approaching these tracks with true passion and conviction in a genre flooded with new jacks constantly wheeling out half-baked product more concerned with being stylish than providing substance.
www.igniteband.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Roses Are Red,"What Became of Me" (Trustkill)
You know the kind of band that endorses more clothing lines than musical instruments that wears its hearts on its designer shirt sleeves and laments over lost love? Roses are Red are one of those limp-wristed chick friendly rock acts whose 11-track excursion sounds huge thanks to Brian McTernan's expert production. But at the end of the day, despite the rich guitars of "Remember Me" and the tug at the heartstrings feel of "Show Your Eyes", WHAT BECAME OF ME is basically suped-up love songs for the Warped Tour crowd all too eager to flick a Bic for the first time.
www.trustkill.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Enochian Crescent,"Black Church" (Woodcut)
Extreme in both sound and in deed, Finnish black metal outfit Enochian Crescent have returned from a hiatus of sorts to unleash this ambitious nine track opus on your hapless soul. Aptly titled BLACK CHURCH, this quintet demonstrates its demonic delusions with an arsenal of death 'n roll choruses, manic vocals that switch from guttural growls to wailing howls of pure evil, and a slew of ritualistic chants that give off the impression that a sacrifice is going down tonight. Keeping it offensive and raw yet mixing in a flurry of keep you guessing tactics atypical for a black metal group, Enochian Crescent's upholding of all that is evil is subsidized with rations of unorthodox yet intriguing creativity, giving BLACK CHURCH a distinct edge over its corpsepainted compatriots.
www.woodcutrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Obscurant,"First Degree Suicide" (Woodcut)
Finnish metal troupe Obscurant have got a whole lotta Goth in its death metal blend, as indicated on the nine-track endeavor FIRST DEGREE SUICIDE. Ethereal like Sentenced and Katatonia, this quartet's mid-paced menacing gets a bit tedious after a few listens, but the synths make up for the monotony a bit by providing a rich texture to songs like "Blinded By Love" that otherwise would sound plodding. If you enjoy burning incense, walking through graveyards at night, and dolling up in dark makeup, chances are Obscurant should find its way to your CD changer in the near future.
www.woodcutrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


To This Day,"Chapter 1: Between the Bridges" (1981)
Buffalo straight edge quartet To This Day are a bludgeoning hardcore bunch for sure, as the unit's 11-track debut definitively showcases. Ripping pages right from the Hatebreed playbook, the band's chugga-chugga riffs and razor throated screams found on "Nameless" and "Texas Funerals and Flapjacks" are best accompanied with 50 or more shirtless dudes beating the hell out of each other in a confined space. While To This Day is undeniably crushing, their arrangements and overall presentation is quite basic, a trait that sadly lumps them with the countless other brutal bands that display the tough guy attitude and follow the same musical templates ad nausea.
www.x1981x.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Jed,"Synesthesia" (Indie Release)
Pacific Northwestern veteran quintet Jed's hybrid style combines the trademark sounds of their geographic area with eruptions of alt-metal explosiveness on the 11-track SYNESTHESIA. Drawing from the shadowy vibes thrown out by notable area acts such as Queensryche and Alice in Chains for its aura of melancholic darkness while drumming up the wares of Sevendust and Mudvayne for the sheer aggressive output, songs like "Nympho" and "Nothing" showcase intense bursts of melodic yet unpoppy hooks sewn together, forming multi-faceted monstrous offerings. Unafraid to explore the murky reserves of the mind through the enlightenment of the unit's unwavering metallic force, songs like "New Ambits" and "Two Eyed Cyclops" take excursions to areas frequently inhabited by Deftones and Chevelle with a semi-nihilistic industrial rock swagger, while cuts like "Opal" stomp over nu-metal plateaus with hypnotic rhythms and sinewy grooves abound. SYNESTHESIA is an album laden with darkened dynamicism and elaborate layers that fans of a higher order of metal will undoubtedly swarm to.
www.carnelianagency.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Slave Zero,"The Pain Remits" (Indie Release)
Demonstrating a bountiful bouquet of brutality, Slave Zero is Ireland's answer to extreme metal and damn, do these guys deliver. Meshing Meshuggah-esque low end with a vast array of seething metallic guitar and vocal interludes that range from Pantera to At the Gates, this quintet's five-track offering showcases nothing but relentless carnage with nary a second to catch your breath from the malicious maelstrom of pummeling riffs and bleak yet boisterous vocals that range from death growls to wartime shrieks. Put Unearth, Losa, and Kreator in a blender and serve with a swift kick to the teeth and out comes THE PAIN REMITS, an album where songs like the bludgeoning death stomp of "I Fear For You" and the hostility-laden intricacy of "Relief" exists solely to severely punish you.
www.slavezero.net
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Bad Lieutenants,"Every Time I Come Around..." (Teenage Hearts)
Crass by choice and rude by design, this conglomerate of Northeast punk and hardcore musicians come to the table with an impressive pedigree and an undisputed attitude on EVERY TIME I COME AROUND. Bad Lieutenants sound like they've lived a hard life on this 15-track ode to decadence, as songs like "Billy Smith" and "Midnight Beefcake" indicate a band in tune with the seedy side of life, complete with an unruly guitar buzz and relentless Ramones by way of Buzzcocks rhythms. Unpolished and proud, this is a disc for those that have lost faith that sleazy punk has gone by the wayside.
www.badlieutenants.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Crash Kelly,"Electric Satisfaction" (Liquor and Poker)
Cock rock with more pop sensibility and talent than anything that'd turn up on the Sunset Strip, the Toronto-based Crash Kelly have molded themselves after Thin Lizzy, Cheap Trick, and glam rock of the '70s and deliver a fun, yet slightly sterile 12-track release. ELECTRIC SATISFACTION is a huge sounding and easily digestible record, as the Beatles-esque "You're a Drag When You're High" and the STP big beat of "Ride the Wire" would sound best in a hockey arena sandwiched between Poison and Grand Funk Railroad. Produced by fellow rock connoisseur Gilby Clarke, this Canadian quartet's endeavor is a hook-happy, nothing but a good time feel rock record that somehow sounds as vintage as these dudes' stage clothes. Lighthearted yet rock solid, ELECTRIC SATISFACTION outshines its peers by outclassing them on tracks like "She Put the Shock" and "Cracked and Faded", expertly highlighting the group's steaming fretwork and bluesy leanings. Safe and sturdy, Crash Kelly plays the kind of rock anyone from 8 to 80 can get into.
www.liquorandpokermusic.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Junior Varsity,"The Great Compromise" (Victory)
Illinois emo outfit The Junior Varsity's THE GREAT COMPROMISE gets the re-release treatment courtesy of new label Victory Records, who in turn pack a bunch of bonus tracks and alternative versions as well as a DVD in to sweeten the deal and give the fans the biggest bang for their buck. But don't expect as much quality over quantity here, unless you're a huge fan of the group's innocuously bland alternapunk phase that, while crafted with great care, gives off an indifferently unmemorable vibe.
www.victoryrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Black Crucifixion,"Faustan Dream" (Paragon)
This Finnish outfit took 10 years to make this slab of depressive metal, so give 'em a pat on the back for staying despondent for that long. Black Crucifixion really covers all the dark corners of rock on this one, lifting from Celtic Frost, Opeth, Type O Negative, NIN, and a slew more, almost as if the band hung back in the shadows for a decade, taking notes on how to fuse it all together. And while some parts of this disc radiate a real "I did this in my basement" vibe, (which illicit a certain old school charm), other tracks like "Wrath Without Hate" rock out like Danzig versus Marilyn Manson with Entombed guest refereeing. Barren piano, sound effect usage rivaling any summer blockbuster, and all the mascara-dripping Goth-rock dramatic dynamics your fishnets can handle is all here, enough to please your little cousin that's into HIM and your high school buds that still crank out Hellhammer.
www.paragonrecords.net
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Urkraft,"The Inhuman Abberation" (Earache)
Danish metal quintet Urkraft's sinewy sharpness shines on THE INHUMAN ABBERATION, the unit's latest 10-track offering. Produced by Tue Madsen, the thrashing guitars, intricate arrangements, keyboard sprinklings, and a crushing overall massive production make Urkraft sound enormous on tracks like the Gothenburg-tinged "Forsaken". While this outfit isn't as adventurous as other acts, Urkraft's mechanized precision, tasteful instrument layering, and dependable explosiveness found on cuts like "Too Strong For the Strongest Lord" make this album stick out further than its peers.
www.earache.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Drama Summer,"Make a Move" (Eulogy)
Upbeat and bouncy, The Drama Summer reaffirms the fact that Ohio isn't just for lovers anymore on the four-track sugar rush of MAKE A MOVE. Them lovebirds best make room for whiny emo bands like this crew, whose palatable suburban mall-punk sound suggests they were produced solely to play a trailer at Warped Tour. This run of the mill yet hard working band mesh Yellowcard, Hawthorne Heights, Simple Plan, and New Found Glory into a glorious punk-pop affair, as songs like "Don't Go" sets 14 year-old hearts ablaze while the more rocking and totally stock yet rebelliously spirited "We Make Rejection Look Beautiful" will be many a boy's first middle-school mosh experience.
www.eulogyrecordings.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Silverstein,"18 Candles" (Victory)
Cleaning out the closets, Silverstein unfurls its early material thanks to Victory Records, as the 70-minute offering 18 CANDLES documents the band's fledgling days. Complete with bonus tracks and an excellent album jacket to boot, this fan-friendly release truly gives the fans a nice chunk of music to sink their teeth into. While the band sounds way advanced today, for those that need to get up to speed, this release is the most efficient way to do so.
www.victoryrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Anata,"The Conductor's Departure" (Earache)
Disparaging on its peers' choices, Sweden's Anata instead opt to hop on the artsy route to metallic bliss with sensational results on the 10-track THE CONDUCTOR'S DEPARTURE. Able to blend intricate guitar runs, pulverizing riffs, and advanced rhythmic patterns effortlessly while maintaining a slightly more ominous and less clinical aura, songs like the title cut hint at both prog metal posturing and evil death metal clubbing without either fully taking charge. With obvious influence from bands like Gojira and Death as well as a slew of other notable acts whose metal dually contains brainwaves and behemoth riffs, tracks like "Better Grieved Than Fooled" churn out jazzy technicality with an urgent sense of masterful musicianship steering the ship. If you're bored and need a surge of creative metal to awaken and enlighten, this CD may do the deed.
www.earache.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Nachtmystium,"Instinct: Decay" (Battle Kommand)
Brave enough to come from behind the veil of corpsepaint long enough to see what lies above the underground, Nachtmystium's latest sinister offering still sonically slays your ears with blasphemous blast bests and demonic guitar chugging. Yet, this grim group's latest 10-track INSTINCT: DECAY breaks typical black metal convention by implementing a slew of deliberately non-black metal devices into its cauldron of chaos, resulting in a smorgasbord of sound from the entrancing "Decay" to the expected volatility of "Antichrist Messiah". Broadening its horizons without eliminating its staple nuances, this disc may make this brand of music branded as vile and contemptuous a bit more comprehensible to the laymen listener, surely enraging the devout yet ultimately rewarding the group for its epically morbid visions.
www.battlekommand.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Rock City Morgue,"Dead Man's Song" (Indie Release)
White Zombie bassist Sean Yseult resurfaces in the New Orleans-based troupe Rock City Morgue, an eclectic outfit that skirts on the out roads of dark rock, roadhouse country and blues, and horror punk. On the 13-track DEAD MANS SONG, bands from Social Distortion to Supersuckers to Misfits to Nick Cave to Concrete Blonde to QOTSA could undoubtedly be cited as influences, on tracks like the '80s punk shock of "Never Ending”, the harmonica-flavored haze of "Darkness Has Fallen", and the atmospherically and mildly anthemic piano-led "Hearts". Armed with a lounge lizard panache as much as a punk rock sneer, Rock City Morgue's vast amenities and shifting style fit somewhere in between the woebegone whiskey cowboys drifting the plains and the Goth princesses decked out in black evening attire that love them.
www.rockcitymorgue.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Thor,"Devastation of Musculation" (Smog Veil)
The indeterminable musical force going strong since the ‘70s known as Thor returns with DEVASTATION OF MUSCULATION, a metallic warrior call of sorts whose latest offering once again unfurls the Manowar meets KISS shock rock shtick. While this legitimate Canadian crusher’s strongman acumen is undisputable, the music found on this 10-track disc isn’t exactly as exciting as Thor’s feats of strength and endurance, yet songs like “The Return of Odin’s Son” should make the sword-wielding, Odin-worshipping crowd fairly happy. Basically, Thor’s latest release is a cheesy, bang your head as a guilty pleasure kind of disc that is as campy yet compelling as a Troma film or reality television, as songs like “Queen of The Damned” and the surprisingly tender “Don’t Abandon Me” deliciously demonstrates the fun side of heavy metal without a net.
www.smogveil.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Lye By Mistake,"Arrangements for Fulminating Vective" (Lambgoat)
Highly potent technical metal with doses of insanity is what this St. Louis troupe unleashes on your unsuspecting ears, as Lye By Mistake’s eight-track offering is as savage as it is off the wall. “Ostrich Feathers and Apple Pie” runs through seething death metal, twangy pick and grin country, and expansive world beat within the course of one song, while the abstract vocal approach taken on “Jon Nash and The Flipper” sounds like Every Time I Die after smoking some low grade rock. ARRANGEMENTS FOR FULMINATING VECTIVE is not an album for your common Hot Topic kid, so be prepared to invest some time and allow the craziness to sink in fully to totally appreciate the symphonic swirls and tumultuous movements included here.
www.lambgoatrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Vermin,"A Nihilistic Swarm" (Deity Down)
Dutch death metal act Vermin play with the kind of volatile yet complex heaviness that much of today’s progressive death metal acts utilize. On A NIHILISTIC SWARM, the brutality factor is cranked up to 11 on cuts like “Eyes Wide Shut” and “Ascend”, as this quartet’s ruthless restlessness doesn’t allow for much time to get your bearing before they blast you again. Displaying a technically sound style with touches of Cannibal Corpse-esque volatility on tracks like the clobbering “The Plague” and “Vertigo”, Vermin should appease those that enjoy their music to solicit a good beating or two.
www.vermin.tk
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Harlots,"This is the Second Death" (Corrosive)
Ohio metal merchants Harlots liberally borrow from the noisier end of the spectrum on the nine-track THIS IS THE SECOND DEATH, creating a whirlwind of caustic riffs, gut-busting vocals, multi-instrumental noodlings (violins and ambient noise, anyone?) and the kind of kamikaze percussion that dually holds it all together while sounding like it is spinning completely out of control. Tracks like “Remote Coagulation” chugs, grooves, and steamrolls through a Today is the Day meets Converge trip, while “Asceticism” rips through guitar riffs like Between the Buried and Me at a Mastodon swap meet. The organized chaos this collective unit creates is highly recommended if you enjoy your metal to blow you clear out of the water.
www.harolts666.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Divider,"At Twilight" (Shock Value)
Long Island thrashy metal band goes to God City, makes stunning record, destroys all in its path. That’s the overview of Divider, the quintet who, alongside guru of heavy Kurt Ballou, have concocted this six-song sojourn whose off-kilter abrasiveness and unadulterated metallic hardcore stance is an angst-ridden tour-de-force brimming with dissonant guitar chugging, pummeling rhythms, and the kind of pulverizing arrangements like “Doomsday” and “Question Everything” that are deliciously disjointed enough to spread like wildfire. If you like your hardcore gritty a la Modern Life is War and Bleeding Kansas, AT TWILIGHT is a guaranteed winner.
www.dividerandconquer.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Necrophobic,"Hrimthursum" (Candlelight)
Swedish extreme metal veterans Necrophobic return with HRIMTHURSUM, a 12-track affair whose blackened metal pretense and hate-lined song titles like “The Slaughter of Baby Jesus” should raise quite a few eyebrows amongst the metal community. Demonstrating the kind of old school evil on cuts like the Slayer meets Immortal tune “Bloodshed Eyes”, only a band who played alongside luminaries like Celtic Frost and Bathory can conjure up this kind of conviction. Overall, HRIMTHURSUM showcases this quartet’s intriguingly menacing mid-paced black metal whose demonic drive never wanes, especially on the haunting track “Sitra Ahra”, a stomping track whose eerie chorus and atmospheric aura transfer you directly to Hades. Prepare the altar for this one, folks.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Since Remembered,"Coming Alive" (Blood & Ink)
No frills punk styled hardcore is what the fiery crew Since Remembered serves up on the 12-track COMING ALIVE. In the vein of Comeback Kid, this intense quintet rolls out a raucously rapid-fire arsenal of catchy hardcore like the title cut and the punk-infused "Ten Years" that sounds great in the throes of the moshpit, but lacks the necessary ingredients to be taken any further than VFW halls and all ages free for alls. But, if you're down to throw a few windmills, these guys provide the proper setting.
www.bloodandinkrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Cattle Decapitation,"Karma Bloody Karma" (Metal Blade)
Vegan death metallers Cattle Decapitation meld scolding death, blistering grind, and an apparent love of tech metal with their staunch animal rights message on KARMA BLOODY KARMA. Switching gears from grueling gallops to black metal eloquence on "Suspended in Coprolite" while laying down some initial epic guitar work that morphs into a necksnapping death metal tirade only to exit on a doom metal tip on "Alone at the Landfill", this quartet has raised the levels of extremity by executing a plethora of styles which collide into a cacophonic spree of malevolence. Get the spray paint ready and prepare to fight the faux fur fight with KARMA BLOODY KARMA as the soundtrack.
www.metalblade.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


Stonegard,"Arrows" (Candlelight)
When thinking of musically heavy Norwegian imports, it's all black robes and severed goat heads, right? Not to Stonegard, whose thrashing stoner rock by way of alternative metal style manages to pack that Nordic punch, especially guitar-wise, yet show nary a sign of blood-curdled screaming or mutilated animal entrails. Instead, this quartet take the lumbering desert sounds of Kyuss, the metallic firepower of Megadeth and Flotsam and Jetsam, the stoner chug of COC, and the radio-friendly savvy of STP and make an impressive cavalcade of sturdily built dirty jams like "Ghost Circles" and "Darkest Hour". Meshing the badass vibe of Black Label Society and the anthemic metal offerings of Trivium, ARROWS heartily provides the thrill a minute heavy rock 'n roll rollercoaster ride for anyone that loves it loud is sure to latch onto.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Society 1,"The Years of Spiritual Dissent" (Crash)
Freak show rock act Society 1 have issued a 30-track disc with an accompanying DVD encapsulating the porno director gone rock star Matt Zane and friend's rock 'n roll fantasy. Falling somwhere between NIN, Marilyn Manson, and Rob Zombie, the band's musical output is nowhere near as enthralling as the spectacle of scantily clad girls adorning the band as they hang from hooks secured into their skin, but at least they've got cool visuals going on for the music videos. Disposable and dated, the industrial metal meets Goth shock rock aura and unbearably dim Jim Morrison imitated spoken word interludes are only two of many reasons to avoid this one.
www.crashmusicinc.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Between the Buried and Me,"The Anatomy Of" (Victory)
Between the Buried and Me are an odd lot, hence the covers of Motley Crue, King Crimson, Queen, and Sepultura on the band's cleverly titled cover song collection THE ANATOMY OF. Unlike the band's own songs, which simultaneously glisten while leaving scars, some of these choices are clunkers, like the sterile cover of Pantera's "Cemetary Gates". Yet in lieu of the spottiness of this 14-track release, these shape shifting musical juggernauts do pull off some impressive ones, like the punishingly accurate version of Faith No More's "Malpractice" and the strikingly gorgeous rendition of Pink Floyd's "Us and Them" that gives BTBAM enough reprieve for the awkward moments of THE ANATOMY OF. If you're a fan who marvels at their versatility, this one is a must own.
www.victoryrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Vader,"Impressions In Blood" (Candlelight)
Polish pulverizers Vader unleash their warmongering mayhem once again on IMPRESSIONS IN BLOOD, a bludgeoning 10-track affair which once again solidifies this unit's place atop death metal elite. Still pumping out furious songs like the grave "Field of Heads" and the blistering rapid-fire of "Amongst the Ruins", Vader is one of the unsung death metal outfits whose bark is as significantly lethal as its bite, showcased on tracks like the Viking-esque metal of "Warlords". Taking no prisoners and keeping it ferocious throughout, strike another victory for this extreme metal entity.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Burn In Silence,"Angel Maker" (Prosthetic)
Massachusetts metalcore outfit Burn in Silence's latest offering was produced by fellow New Englander Ken Susi (Unearth), a dude that knows a thing or two about how a metal album should turn out. This sextet play the kind of searing Swedish keyboard induced metalcore on tracks like "The Age in Which Tomorrow Brings" and "Well Adjusted" that somehow successfully merges Mudvayne and Still Remains while the blistering title cut shows why these cats have shared stages with everyone from Morbid Angel to Shadows Fall. Versatile as they are volatile, if you dig the New England metal scene, add another band to the list.
www.prostheticrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Misery Speaks,"Misery Speaks" (Alveran)
German metal monsters Misery Speaks' debut disc doesn't break much ground, but this 12-track offering does manage to crack some skulls with its terse delivery and blood-curdling riffs. Just check the skull crushing opening cut "First Bullet Hit" as proof of how this quintet effortlessly merges pit-thrashing metalcore and melodic death metal. Sounding like an amalgamation of As I Lay Dying, Heaven Shall Burn, and Maroon, what Misery Speaks lacks in creativity they more than compensate for in bonecrunching intensity and oodles of extreme metallic shrederry. If you're not a stickler for originality, then this disc will really make an impact.
www.alveranrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Riverboat Gamblers,"To the Confusion of Our Enemies" (Volcom)
Taking its album's title from a popular toast by the chairman himself, Frank Sinatra, this tumultuous Texas-based crew bring an imminent sense of danger back to the sanitized circles of what is now labeled punk, as a trail of blood and broken teeth seems to follow this quartet wherever they roam. On Riverboat Gamblers' 14-track sojourn, the high-strung unit takes substantial jabs at the mall punk poseurs and posturers by beating them at their own game, providing fist pumping anthems complete with flurries of the outfit's raucous rebellious rants on tracks such as "The Curse of the Ivory Coast" and "On Again Off Again". Placing themselves in a position where Hot Water Music collides with Social Distortion on the way to the dirty rock 'n roll soiree, songs like "True Crime" and "Walk Around Me" are bursting with a sense of true passion, demonstrating that some bands care more about the music than what their label's stylist suggests they wear that evening. Exhibiting a no frills style and no compromise attitude, Riverboat Gamblers hit the jackpot on TO THE CONFUSION OF OUR ENEMIES.
www.volcom.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Exploding Madonna,"The Exploding Madonna" (Indie Release)
The drugs must be divine in Talahassee, Fl, home of the trippy trio The Exploding Madonna, whose eponymous seven-track offering's influences range from pre-bloated, Peter Gabriel-era Genesis to Dinosaur Jr. at its most eccentric. Developing sonic swirls of elegance and grace that scream for a laser show, tracks like "Beneath Naked Heaven" and the fuzzy drive of "The Stanbury Case" display the outfit's off-kilter wares, while the cheekily titled "Joe Namath's Laboratory" has little to do with the ex-Jet quarterback, yet yields all of the hullabaloo of Broadway Joe's Superbowl victory with a cascading chorus and an all too charming Brit-rock sensibility. Bust out the bong, tune in, and drop a tab to this one boys and girls, and see the colors change before your very eyes.
www.theexplodingmaria.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Jesu,"Silver" (Hydrahead)
Justin Broadrick is an icon of the underground extreme music scene, having been a major cog in the wheels of groundbreaking acts like Godflesh and Napalm Death. Taking a cue from the multitude of musicians he influenced, Jesu goes a way more melodic route than anticipated, almost sounding like a less-angry hybrid of NIN on the four-song sampler SILVER. While broad strokes of the noise Broadrick has been acclaimed for have mostly been disregarded and replaced by a more listener-friendly, melodically-induced techno rock ambiance on tracks like "Wolves", there's still enough atmospherically challenging material here to sink your teeth into on tracks like "Dead Eyes" to satisfy fans of his previous offerings. But buyer beware, this is nowhere near anything you'd expect from the dude that used to slay eardrums in Godflesh. Nonetheless, Jesu bridges the gap between Isis and Mogwai well enough for fans of experimental rock to give SILVER a go.
www.hydrahead.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


((sounder)),"There is Another Sun Clouded Over with Meticulous Care" (Volcom)
Affixed somewhere between the coffeehouse lamentations and the surf club's rainy day activities, ((sounder)) finds its niche, creating laptop rock with an acoustic guitar, a drum kit, and a bunch of singing buddies. The 11-track disc reeks of California dreaming, as tracks like "It Probably Only Seemed Like a Laser Beam" stops short of prog rock thanks to its generally lazy day nature and "Hearts Don't Break Like Cinder Blocks" shrugs off the distant vocals long enough to entrance with a full-on guitar and drum jam that displays some Sebadoah-like chops. "It's Just a Sound Like Any Other Sound" exhibits a bittersweet side to the band, while "It's a Terrible Thing" shows that this project has been exposed to its fair share of Neil Young. ((sounder)) takes its lo-fi alt rock wares and contorts them into fuzzy neo-folk rock that sounds perfect while deep in the throes of a bonfire on the beach.
www.volcoment.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Darker My Love,"Darker My Love" (Dangerbird)
Queens of the Stone Age meets the '60s-era Stones with a Goth rock feel? Pretty weird, eh? Not if you're the quartet Darker My Love, a band that manages to make Beach Boys melodies on tracks like "Fall" sound as dark as The Cure, yet give it a psychedelic Brit-rock vibe. There are 12 tracks on this self-titled disc which rock with hanging notes that go on forever on "Helium Heels" and swirls of heavy, fuzzy drug rock like "Hello Traveler" that will help you get your Jesus and Mary Chain versus My Bloody Valentine swerve on. Radiating a realistic and convincing hard rock feel through all the guitar feedback and headtrips, this disc rocks by taking ample elements from both the Manchester and Seattle rock scenes and piecing together a stirring surge of psychedelic rock that Velvet Underground and Kyuss fans alike will admire.
www.dangerbirdrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Wolverine,"Still" (Candlelight)
Swedish mope metallers Wolverine return with STILL, a weighty nine-track affair whose early Queensryche, Dream Theater, and Katatonia influence reign heavily on this affair. Somewhat straying away from the metal side of the fence to explore mainstream prog rock territory on tracks like the lucid "Nothing More", the quintet's teeth still manage to bare on tracks like the sprawling "And She Slowly Dies", evoking comparisons to Opeth. If you like your theatrical metal with darker hues, songs like "Sleepytown" is somberly engaging a la Dredg, while "Bleeding" churns out the goth meets prog metal tendencies the band is best known for. Despite these moments giving way for a more toned down metal side, this band still serves from a crockpot of melancholy, helping Wolverine remain a solid somber unit.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Deciding Tonight,"The Delusionist" (Hotfoot)
A little more rough around the edges than most emo bands, Long Island's Deciding Tonight play the kind of punk that you'd hear passing by one of the many stages on the Warped Tour on their 11-track offering THE DELUSIONIST. Eerie keyboards a la Motion City Soundtrack help to accentuate the My Chemical Romance meets The Used flavored "The Downside of Weightlessness", while the bouncy "The End of an Error" and the ultra-catchy bass-driven "When it Was A Game" sound as if coming from the loins of fellow Island rockers Taking Back Sunday, Bayside and Brand New. This disc does tread many familiar waters that many may never want to revisit, but if you think you may enjoy a well-structured screamo act with a few slick-sounding tricks up their sleeve, give this sextet a gander.
www.hotfootrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Modern Day Saint,"...And Tomorrow We Will Have Nothing" (Eyeball)
Convening at the junction where street punk and emo cross, The Modern Day Saint try exceptionally hard to put a distinct spin on what's going on today with mixed results. On AND TOMORROW WE WILL HAVE NOTHING, the sounds of desperation are fleshed out via confrontational punk numbers a la Hot Water Music like "Singing for Your Supper Ain't as Easy as It Sounds" and "(Reverse) Alchemy", while "How I Walk on Water" gutsily tugs at the heartstrings with a country fried vibe and "On My Stereo" resounds with a bluesy swagger like an acoustic Flogging Molly tune. While at times sounding a bit rote, like on the unnecessary keyboard interlude on "Solutions", this resilient troupe pulled through major tragedy (their singer on this recording suffered an onstage arrhythmia and is still recovering) and is still making music, a testament to the crew's determination. If you have a penchant for passionate post-hardcore that fuses Thursday and Avail, these guys deliver.
www.eyeballrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Warriors,"Beyond the Noise" (Eulogy)
There's good reason why Chino of Deftones loves this group, and it probably has something to do with how they merge dumbed-down arena rock with youth crew hardcore. The Warriors have a silly name for most hardcore dudes to hone up to liking, and while they have their share of over the top Rage meets Downset moments strewn about BEYOND THE NOISE, the sheer hardcore power of tracks like "Downbeat" and "To Finally Feel" get the Snapcase vibe down perfect while "Awakened" shows that this outfit understands how the wield the power of the breakdown to its greatest advantage. This band also gets credit for taking the lyrics to thoughtful places, as these song's words all stem from Herman Hesse's SIDDHARTHA, something to make your English professor smile. Most fans of hardcore (especially Northeasterners) are going to hate this disc and think it's way too commercially inclined and gangsta, but if you like crossover acts that implement hard rock histrionics and some of the best parts of the rap-rock genre with a smattering of smack you in the face hardcore goodness, then songs like "Re-vital-eyes" and "I Won't" will become instant pit classics for you.
www.eulogyrecordings.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Black Spoons,"The History of Modern Silence" (Particle)
NYC indie rock darlings The Black Spoons play a very sophisticated style of rock that combines a spacey shoegazing element with poignantly pensive moments whose overall airy aesthetic never wanes or debilitates the wiry yet toe-tapping melodies packed into the 12-track THE HISTORY OF MODERN SILENCE. Armed with an array of elegantly dissonant hooks like the ones found on "If You Loved Me, I'd Be Home By Now", this outfit's provocative sound is rounded out with robust percussion that seemingly takes a front seat on every track, shining brightest on "Automatic Ghost", as well as Jeff Buckley-esque warbling best exemplified on "MMWMM". Imagine Radiohead meets Steely Dan, only stripped down to a trio for an idea of the rousing interludes captured on "Incubator Dreams" or the busy bass and drum tandem that envelopes "When Will Love Be Over?" which combines Talking Heads' oddities with traces of Guided By Voices. If you like your indie rock daring and intellectually charged, The Black Spoons are the choice to make.
www.particlemusic.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Dirty Rig,"Rock Dit It" (Escapi)
Unsanitized for your approval, the lewd, crude, and totally rockin' Dirty RIg unapologetically bring you ROCK DID IT, a raucous rock 'n roll rollercoaster ride that sizzles with Sunset Strip sleaze sans the stupidity. Led by ex-Warrior Soul frontman Kory Clarke, this NYC-based quartet combines the Black Label Society grit with AC/DC-esque ass-shaking swagger, developing a leave your brains at the door and bring your beer to the dancefloor style on tracks like "Just a Star" and "Dogs". Merging a prevalent punk rock attitude that fuels in your face cuts like "Suck It" with bluesy Zep meets Aerosmith gone hair metal riff fests like "Rock Did It" with touches of Clarke's ex-outfit's driving psychedelic rock on "Cities, Scenes & Thieves", Dirty Rig delivers an honest, ass kicking heavy rock 'n roll album that solidly attempts the daunting task of bringing the danger back to rock.
www.dirtyrig.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Hymns,"Brother/Sister" (Blackland)
NYC-based Hymns play the kind of alt-country rock that derived from Neil Young and Wilco on BROTHER/SISTER, a masterfully recorded 11-track disc. From the fast-paced jangly guitars and stompbox vocals on tracks like "Power in the Street", Hymns would remind you of Kings of Leon meets Tom Petty, combining small town sensibility with a driving backbeat, while tracks like "Town" radiate a '70s pop-rock vibe that The Eagles were known for. Raring back and rocking is also part of this trio's mission, and tracks like "Brother/Sister" offset the general laid back aura songs like "Starboat" and "Stop Talking" set. Well-planned and beautifully composed, Hymns display a great depth of influence and a wealth of passion on this shining effort that hipsters and real deal rock fans alike can grip with ease.
www.blacklandrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Zao,"The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here" (Ferret)
Despite the fact that you need a scorecard to keep track of this band's ever-changing lineup, Zao just finds new band members and continues to crush all in its path. Their latest excruciatingly heavy excursion comes in the form of the 11-track THE FEAR IS WHAT KEEPS US HERE, a Steve Albini produced slab of the band's trademark nasty, nebulous, and noisy hardcore. Tracks like the merciless "Pudgy Young Blonds With Lobotomy Eyes" sound like a heated war pitting Melvins vs. High on Fire, while "Killing Time 'Til It's Time To Die" throws out a Discharge-like punk vibe with thunderous metalcore rhythms and a tasty guitar solo that flows into a pummeling breakdown. Flavored with the intense energy of metal warriors gone punk rock anarchists, songs like "Kingdom of Thieves" and "Cancer Eater" (which contains one of the most pristine guitar intros this side of Randy Rhoads) maintain the band's old school roots with an unrefined element that empowers THE FEAR IS WHAT KEEPS US HERE as a supreme lesson in how to keep things unwaveringly raw and punishingly heavy
www.ferretstyle.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The City Drive,"Always Moving Never Stopping" (We The People)
Los Angeles upbeat punk popsters The City Drive play great shop at department store rock, as their self-described Weezer meets Green Day comparison is a bit off the mark, yet kind of resonates in spurts across the 12-track ALWAYS MOVING NEVER STOPPING. Almost like a less-grating and immature Blink 182 with the bubblegum hooks of Sugarcult, cuts like "Overready" and "Chasing You" are innocuous, overpolished, and devoid of any rough edges, making them fully digestible for the casual rock fan that wants to go a half-step out of the box. Perfect for soundtrack placement or background music to television melodrama, The City Drive hits the mark in creating unoriginal yet inspired nuggets of punky pop rock.
www.thecitydrivemusic.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Ostinato,"Chasing the Form" (Exile on Mainstream)
Ostinato is an Italian term for recurring musical fragment, a name which suits this Washington D.C.-based trio's sweepingly swaggering seven-track offering. Deep bass grooves, unorthodox guitar work, experimental drums, and a plethora of other musical instruments thrown in for good measure illuminate the dynamic dreaminess of tracks like "Between the Years", while a tumultuously trippy undercurrent highlights the peaks and valleys of "The Art of Vanishing", almost like a less-ominous Pelican taking charge. As shown from the visionary vibe coming off of "Latitude", Ostinato isn't afraid to engage you into a sprawling semi-shoegazing escapade before lulling you out of the trance with durable rock momentum, and that's why this is a disc you can enjoy again and again without fear of losing its luster. Stunning on all accounts, this disc is atmospheric rock at its finest hour.
www.mainstreamrecords.de
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Last Vegas,"Seal the Deal" (Get Hip)
Much like their name suggests, this band is both unashamedly glitzy and walks on the wild side, traits which allow The Last Vegas' brand of hard-edged, bloozy and boozy rawk to feel utterly convincing. On the Chicago quintet's 10-track ode to no frills rock 'n roll, tracks like the '80s hair metal bite meets Stooges bark "Ain't A Good Man" somehow have Motorhead and Ratt arm in arm, while the rowdy title track takes choice parts from Thin Lizzy, ZZ Top, and Fu Manchu to concoct a delectable fuzzy stoner stew. Loud, proud, and balls to the wall, SEAL THE DEAL is a muscle car in a sea of sedans and minivans, effortlessly connecting the gutter to the glamour while claiming a victory for degeneratively unrepentant raw rock 'n roll .
www.gethip.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Putrid Flowers,"Young For the Last Time" (Indie Release)
Queens-based punk crew The Putrid Flowers have morphed from punk rock princes into budding rock luminaries judging by the outfit's latest 12-track endeavor, YOUNG FOR THE LAST TIME. Maintaining the group's punk rock roots on tracks like the Offspring meets All-esque "Amanda the Salamander" and the brawny and brooding twitches of "On the Eve of St. Agnes" while straying into the metal realm with a killer lead riff and an extra dose of vitriol on "Going Your Way", this veteran unit continues to write compelling compositions. Melding the rock stuff you hear on MTV reality show soundtracks with the outfit's unique and tactful songwriting nuances and twists on "Mourning Clouds Yielding to a Midday Sky", The Putrid Flowers brand of punk rock captivates and keeps you coming back for more.
www.theputridflowers.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


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