Fight the Silence
For Today Fight the Silence has a unique backstory in that the idea for it came about when frontman Matt Montgomery saw a video about human trafficking that had a strong emotional imapct on him. He decided to make...
From Water to War
Nine Lashes From Water to War does a great job in bucking the sophomore slump and delivering a sound that is similar yet different. While the band's debut sounded like any other hard rock album, this one...
This Is All We Know
Number One Gun After two albums of solo work using the Number One Gun name, Jeff Schneewis gets the old band back together. However in doing so, he also brought back the band's old pop punk sound which makes...
A Darker and More Personal Album | Posted September-10-2013
The Devil Wears Prada's latest album continues the serious metalcore sound that was present on their previous album, Dead Throne. On Dead Throne the band showed a maturity in both sound and lyrical content which was a welcome change. Early on, this band was known for its humerous song titles but on Dead Throne all of the song titles were serious and the lyrics delt with some very heavy subjects. It was a great album and was a highlight of that year. Fast forward to 2013 and the band's new album, 8:18 (weird name for an album,) continues in the vein of serious song titles and lyrical content.
While the lyrics again get into some serious topics, (like the aptly named "War,") there's a dark and deeply personal quality to them as well. (The first track on the album is called "Gloom.") Lead vocalist Mike Hranica belts these lyrics out with a fiery passion and clean vocalist Jeremy DePoyster reinforces them with some wonderful voice work. The sound also takes the turn to the dark side, moreso then it was in the band's previous album. It's there to add to the dark nature of the album and it does that job very well.
8:18 might not be the best album in the band's history but it's still a solid listen. It's a dark, personal and at times, depressing, look into 5 men who want to share their message to the masses. Pick this up when it comes out next week. You will not be disappointed.
Pretty Great | Posted August-29-2013
I haven't listened to Jars of Clay for years. I saw that this album was streaming online so I decided to listen to it and I was plesently surprised by how much they have evolved their sound over the years. Inland has tracks that remind me of pre-2008 Coldplay sound wise. I was also pleased to hear that Dan Haseltine's voice has remained unchanged and still just as recognizable over the years. I noticed growth and maturity in the writing of the lyrics and I feel like their independent status has contributed a lot to this. Inland is an album that might just get me back into listening to this band on a regular basis.
Fun Pop Punk With Noticeable Growth and Maturity | Posted August-20-2013
Stellar Kart's new album All In certainly goes all in in terms of sound. The maturity of the band's sound is put on full display here. The band has mastered their pop punk sound and knows what the fans want from them. The lyrics have more poignency to them as well as genuine heart. Even the addition of a female into the band lineup doesn't take away from the sound one bit. In fact. she fits right in.
While it may sound like any other pop punk album out there at the moment, All In does it well enough to warrent a lot of enjoyment out of it. The growth and maturity the band has gone through is noticable in their sound and especially the lyrics. And unlike with their previous full-length album, every song is original and the track listing is not packed with cover songs. Stellar Kart is back and I'm ready to enjoy their music again.
A New Grunge Sound Elevates The Album to Slightly Above Average | Posted August-20-2013
After a long 4 year wait Decyfer Down returns with their 3rd album Scarecrow, and the result is a bit mixed. They mix their old southern rock style in with more grunge rock. While the songs that do have those grunge-like elements sound good, the songs that have more southern rock to them sound simplisitc and a tad bit generic. Even though the album has that problem, it's still worth a listen.
Banjo's, Piano's, and Hand-claps; Oh, My! | Posted August-16-2013
At first listen you might identify newly signed Solid State band The Ongoing Concept as a replacement for the band The Chariot (R.I.P.) in terms of having a chaotic and ecclectic sound. Yes, The Ongoing Concept has that but that's pretty much where the similarities stop. While The Chariot experiment with different types of sounds in the span of a roughly 2 minute song, The Ongoing Concept takes their experimentation further over a longer stretch of about 3 and a half minutes per song. The result is an ambitious metal album that might turn fans of The Chariot into fans of this band as well.
The experimentation of instruments and styles is the sole reason to get this album. On multiple tracks you'll find, banjos, player pianos, handclaps, harmonicas, etc. All mixed in with a chaotic metal sound. There are even clean vocals spread out throughout the album that give everything a sense of the band throwing everything (kitchen sink included,) they can into the 40 minute length and pulling it off quite well. There's even a track that is a straight piano ballad (a piano ballad on a metal album!!!) that gives us a bit of a breather before the madness escalates untill the end.
Saloon is a fantastic label debut for The Ongoing Concept. It might be compared to The Chariot in terms of style but the band takes it further and makes the ecclectic instruments a part of the album. The lyrics don't really make an impact but that doesn't really matter in the long run. Fans of The Chariot might enjoy this band.
Nasty Never Sounded So Good | Posted August-06-2013
Norma Jean's previous album, Meridonal, was about as perfect as you could get with the sound the band had evolved into. The question now was what next? How would they follow up an amazing album like that and would it be any good? The answer to the latter part of the question is yes, it's also amazing. It doesn't quite reach the highs of Meridonal but it gets pretty close. The band chose to go back to their roots a bit and get back to the nasty The Chariot-esque sound that was present on their debut album Bless the Martyr while maintaining a bit more polished feel. Leading man Cory Branden's screams have evolved to a point that he can adapt to any sound the band sees fit to do and he does a fantastic job matching the band's sound on this album.
Wrongdoers does a great job in mixing all of the new sounds the band has used in previous albums and the sheer nasty and chaotic noise (which led to the creation of The Chariot by the former front man Josh Scogin,) that was present on Norma Jean's first album. It's a beautifuly polished sonic mess that is sure to please old and new fans alike.
An Okay Debut | Posted July-22-2013
Dreamers is an album that features a band that is figuring out who they want to be. When I first heard of Shine Bright Baby, the songs I heard were fun rock ones that I wanted to hear more of. While there are a few rock songs present here (most notably "The Brave Ones" which is probably the heaviest sounding song on the album,) most of the tracks are basic pop rock songs. While that sound may be fine with most people, for me personally, I wanted to hear more of the heavy rock stuff that I heard when I discovered this band.
Dreamers is an okay debut for Shine Bright Baby. It has Christ-centered lyrics and a sense of hard effort put into it, but it suffers a bit from dual identity. One side wants to be a pop-y kind of band while the other side wants to be a more rock-heavy band. I prefer the latter, but there was enough stuff in this album to keep me interested throughout it's rather short length.
A Solid Debut | Posted July-22-2013
My Heart to Fear is a relativley new metal band that first appeared on most people's radar last year when they released a 5 song EP last year. That EP showcased a band that wanted to have a sound that mixed in conventinal sounds of the genre today with some new sounds akin to the experimentation of Underoath. While the EP did give us a sampling of that experimentation, it largely sounded like any other metal band on the Solid State label. However, this debut album does give us even more of what I wanted from the EP. It still maintains that similar metal sound but on most of the tracks they do experiment with different instruments and styles. Some tracks have spoken word sections that work quite well with the overall tone of the album. Algorithm is a great debut album from a band that wants to stand out. If they keep up with what is on the album, they might very well be one of the bigger names on the Solid State roster.
An Eclectic Brand of Pop Rock | Posted July-01-2013
After bringing us one of the band's most personal, and best, albums to date, Relient K has returned 4 years later to a more upbeat and fun style that might be seen by some long-time fans as a sell-out move. While I am one of those long-time fans, I don't think this album is all that bad. It's by no means there best effort to date, but it is a fun summer album that is ment to make you feel good and it does that rather well.
Relient K's last album, Forget and Not Slow Down, came from a dark time in lead singer Matt Theissen's life. From what I understand, his ex-fiancee left him after thinking that he was cheating on her. That album felt like a working out process of what happened and also installed the idea of a silver lining waiting at the end. It was thought provoking, moving, and was one of the best albums to come out that year. Fast forward 4 years to the present day and the new album, Collapsible Lung, has more of an upbeat vibe to it that I felt was needed. The band has changed their style once again and now are experimenting with different pop sounds which makes every track on this album unique. No one song sounds like the other which is great as it lends a sense of variety to the overall album.
However, there are some problems present. One of which is that the lyrics can be hit or miss. There are some good lyrics that offer that brand of Releint K satire we know all to well, yet there are some lyrics that don't sound like something the band would write ever. The reason for this is that there were a bunch of outside writers who got co-writing credits on most of the songs, mostly people who have written songs for mainstream artists like Bruno Mars and Lady Gaga.
Collapsible Lung might be a bit polarizing for Relient K fans. It's not among the best akbums the band has made, but it has a sense of fun to it that is well deserved after the subject matter of their last album. The band experiments a lot with different pop rock sounds and it mostly works for them even if some of the lyrics sound really bad coming out of Matt Theissen's mouth. I'm sure this album will make it onto some people's summer playlists, it sure will be on mine.
August Burns Red Is Back With A Renewed Sense of Purpose | Posted June-26-2013
August Burns Red is making a statement with this album. They don't want to fall into the trappings of what passes for metal nowadays. They want to stand out and bring a unique sound that will, in turn, shake up the genre. Rescue & Restore does that job much more so than the band's previous album, Leveler, did. While I enjoyed Leveler for what it was, it did feel a bit like the band was holding back a bit in terms of experimentation. There was some in Leveler, certainly enough to identify it as an ABR album, but it didn't pack the punch as Messengers did.
Now with Rescue & Restore, ABR is finally going full out with experimentation and the result is amazing. Strings, cello, a weird instrument that's credited as a Guzheng in the liner notes, all of that plus the band's signature sudden time changes result in an album that is packed with uniqueness and diversity. There's even some spoken word thrown in during a couple of songs. The lyrics continue to inspire and comfort as well as be brutally honest and Jake Luhrs vocals continue to be standout.
Rescue & Restore manages to give August Burns Red a renewed sense of purpose that was lacking in Leveler. It has enough diversity and uniqueness to stand out in the stagnant metal genre. It also happens to be one of the best albums of the year.