Church Clothes Vol. 2
Lecrae After Lecrae's last album, Gravity, made its mark in the mainstream market, I became intrigued by what he was going top do next. When he announced that he was going to make a "sequel" to...
The Letter Black
The Letter Black's second album, Rebuild, largly sticks to the formula that made their debut album stand out. The hard rock sound is still there, the empowering lyrics are still there,...
The Fold The Fold's fourth album, Moving Past, does just that. It shows a growth and maturity in not only sound but lyrically as well. Whie their are some songs that have the same fun pop rock sound...
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.
Pleasing Fans Old and New | Posted June-24-2013
Skillet's previous album, Awake was a bit disappointing in that the band didn't break out and try out something new and stuck to the mainstream hard rock that made Comatose a breakout hit. With the aptly named Rise, the band decided to spice up their sound a bit and also added a story that is told throughout the running length. The story is about a teen who tries to find ways of dealing with all of the problems that are happening in the world as well as his own personal problems. It's a good story to tell and feels relevant with what's going on in the world today. The lyrics do a good job in informing us on what's going through the teen's mind as he's dealing with these problems.
Skillet's trademark hard rock sound is still here along with the other unique aspects they are known for like the orchestral strings and drummer Jen Ledger's voice. Those aspects are the forefront of some tracks while Skillet's old in-your-face Collide-era rock sounds dominate other ones. Although there are a few tracks that reminded me of Awake and why I didn't like that particular album.
In the end, the pros outweigh the cons and Rise ends up being a better album than Awake was. It manages to balance the old and new styles of Skillet and will, in turn, please both old fans and new ones. The story running throughout the album is good and current to world events. After 7 albums, Skillet still manages to surprise and deliver on good, solid rock and roll.
High Energy Hard Rock | Posted June-19-2013
We As Human is a band that only popped up on my radar recently thanks to the endless tweets that the members of Skillet keep tweeting about them. I got around to listening to the early album stream of the band's label debut album and it has it's highs and lows. The big high of the album is that you can feel the energy the band has all the way through the album. They want to make an impression, and they certainly do. However, the sound they present feels a tad bit generic at points, deloving into a sound akin to Skillet's Comatose album. We As Human has a good future ahead of them. If they can keep their energy levels up and continue to evolve their sound into something unique then I'll be here to listen.
Worth the Long Wait | Posted June-06-2013
Finally, the long delayed 3rd album from Aaron Gillespie's band The Almost is here, (well, it arrives on Tuesday but thanks to PureVolume I got to listen to the entire album early,) and it's worth the almost 4 year long wait. Fear Inside Our Bones brings a new sound from the band (a more southern style rock sound,) that, I think, suits the band perfectly. We got a bit of that sound from the band's previous 2 albums but those were more punk influenced while here they just go all out with the southern style. Fear Inside our Bones is not only The Almost's best album, it's probably going to be one of my favorite albums of this year. It's been a long time since we last heard new stuff from this band, but the wait was worth it.
Indie Pop Rock That Excels At Being Indie Pop Rock | Posted April-16-2013
Love and Fear continues the love motif We Shot the Moon has been using for the past couple of albums. This album is more about how love drives out fear. The lyrics do a good job in telling us this theme. The music itself surprised me in that I was expecting another generic sounding pop rock album but, while it has trace elements of that sound, it's ultimately overshadowed by the indie pop sounds and fits in well with the album as a whole. This band has a strong future ahead and this album has gotten me intrigued as to what they come up with next.