Album Review: The Smashing Pumpkins- Shiny and Oh So Bright Vol. I

SmashingPumpkinsAlbThe Smashing Pumpkins came back in 2018 with a vengeance. Their “reunion” tour was outstanding. The 3 hour set of nothing but songs from the beginning of their career till Machina was something special. Everything about it was spectacular. William Patrick Corgan sounded marvelous and having Jimmy Chamberlain and James Iha back with him along with long time cohort, Jeff Schroeder and new comers Jack Bates and Katie Cole added to the truly great experience. When it was announced that the Pumpkins were coming back, WPC, mentioned that there would be new music, and that day is upon us. Shiny and Oh So Bright Volume I is here and it’s a delight. It’s everything you’ve ever loved about The Smashing Pumpkins and more.

Starting the album off with “Knights Of Malta” was a superb choice. The song not only sets a tone but it features a groove and melody that will have you swaying and singing along in no time. I have a feeling that this song will fast become a fan favorite and a live staple for years to come. “Silvery Sometimes (Ghosts)” is a pure classic Pumpkins song. Parts of it hark back to the Siamese Dream era but, it’s modern and current without relying so much on nostalgia. WPC sounds dreamy on this song, and Jimmy Chamberlain’s playing is subtle yet commanding. The riff and melody to this song is something that will stay in your head for years to come. “Travels” is a sweet mid tempo song with introspective lyrics. The guitar melodies on this song have a warming and calm tone which gives this song more depth. “Solara” is another classic Pumpkins song. This track is a beast and live it kicks even more ass.  “Alienation” is one of those “deep cut” songs that will have audiences wanting for it live. It’s a beautiful song through and through. “Marchin’ On” kicks the moment it comes in. It’s got an anger and urgency to it just as “Zero” did when that song was first released. This is another that is sure to be a fan favorite. “With Sympathy” has a delicate nature to it. The guitars glisten along with WPC’s vibrant vocals and words. Closing out this volume is “Seek and You Shall Destroy.” This track has a very cool mid 90’s Pumpkins vibe to it but, again isn’t retreating to the nostalgia of it all. Seek sounds like the band in today’s world without losing the roots of what the band is about.

 
All in all Shiny and Oh So Bright Volume I is a terrific collection of songs. I wouldn’t say it’s an “album” per say but, it was sequenced in a way that does flow in a way as an album. Having Jimmy and James back in the band is a welcome return. The songs sound like Pumpkins songs because of how they play and treat the songs. Over the years Jeff Schroeder has been able to tap into that “style” and on this album, he’s right there along with James and WPC to make the songs even bigger. This is a welcome return to form for WPC and company. Shiny and Oh So Bright is full of songs that as I mentioned will become fan favorites and live staples for years to come. The Smashing Pumpkins have never been a band that has needed to resort to rehashing the past and this album solidifies that. I can’t wait for the next tour they do so I can hear these songs live. If you ever gave up on The Smashing Pumpkins, Shiny and Oh So Bright Volume I, will bring you back into the fold and you’ll fall in love with the band all over again.

 
Overall Rating: 9/10

 
Knights of Malta:

 

 
Silvery Sometimes (Ghosts):

 

 
Travels:

 

 
Solara:

 

 

 

Alienation:

 

 
Marchin’ On:

 

 
With Sympathy:

 

 
Seek and You Shall Destroy:

 

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Album Review: Cult Leader- A Patient Man

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Ever since I saw Cult Leader live, I’ve been impressed. The night I saw them, they were on tour with The Dillinger Escape Plan on their final US tour. The moment they took the stage, you could tell that there was more to this band than just being a heavy band. As they tore through their set that night, I was hypnotized by their magnitude of volume, precision, and pure passion for what they created. Needless to say, I was at their merch table right after their set to buy their album Lightless Walk. That album has been in constant rotation since I procured it over two years ago.

Cult Leader have returned with a new album entitled A Patient Man, and if you are a fan, you’ve been waiting patiently for the next chapter of the band. The wait for this album was immensely worth it. A Patient Man is not for the faint or weak of heart. This album is dark but there is an element of optimism to it. From the moment “I Am Healed” kicks off the album, you best buckle up because this album is going to take you on a ride. “Curse Of Satisfaction” keeps up with the pummeling nature of the album. “Isolation in the Land of Milk and Honey” is one of the most brutal and honest songs on the record. It’s a very introspective song with lyrics and parts that really strike a chord within. “To Achlys” might just be one of the most epic songs of 2018. It’s a welcome departure for the band. Though if you’ve been listening to Cult Leader for some time, you could tell that they were expanding and evolving into a differing style like this. “A World Of Joy” continues on the epic path and could quite possibly be one of if not the best song on the album. “Craft of Mourning” brings the album back to the heavy with a crushing attack. “Share My Pain” is one of those songs that shows the band incorporating a “groove” element to their repertoire. This song stands out not just because of the groove but because of the personal approach. “Aurum Reclusa” is as Cult Leader as it gets. This song harks back a bit to the Gaza days. The title track “A Patient Man” is another epic. This one, like “To Achlys” is deep and introspective only on this track there is a bit more “hope.” Closing out the album is “The Broken Right Hand of God.” This track is a great summation of what A Patient Man is. It’s brooding with heaviness, epic moments and full of heart.

Cult Leader have carved out a niche amongst their peers. They have evolved past the norm of just being a heavy band. Each member of the band has made significant contributions to make A Patient Man something special. Musically, Casey Hansen, Sam Richards and Mike Mason have created a sonic style that (as I’ve mentioned before) is hypnotic and heavy at the same time. Vocalist Anthony Lucero, really grew not only as a lyricist but as a vocalist. His sort of crooning on some of these songs really, gives off a personal touch. And Kurt Ballou’s production work is outstanding. He really helped to deliver the sound this album needed. The jump from Lightless Walk to A Patient Man is quite astounding. To be able to still maintain your roots and come away with a piece of work like this is something to really be proud of. I can just imagine the live set in a club being something I will and others in attendance will remember emphatically. Thank you Cult Leader for understanding and not being afraid to go after what moves you. Music is art and it’s a wonderful thing. When you can find the right members to balance the vision, great things like A Patient Man happen.

 

Overall Rating: 9/10
Cult Leader- A Patient Man:

B-Sides: Slipknot

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Last week Slipknot released a new song from their upcoming new album, which is due out in 2019. Naturally, I went on a kick of listening to them for a few days. While having my own personal listening party, I started to think about all the b-sides they have from their albums. Well now, here they are.

 

From Slipknot:
Get This:

 

 

Snap:

 

 

Despise:

 

 

Interloper:

 

 

Me Inside:

 

 

Purity:

 

 

From Volume 3- The Subliminal Verses:
Don’t Get Close:

 

 
Scream:

 

 
Danger Keep Away (Full Version):

 

 

From All Hope Is Gone:
Child Of Burning Time:

 

 
Til We Die:

 

 

From .5- The Gray Chapter:
Override:

 

The Burden:

 

Album Review: Architects- Holy Hell

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Losing a band member is never an easy thing. Especially when it’s the main songwriter in the group. Things at that point can either fall off the tracks or the band comes together and pushes forward. A couple years back Architects guitarist and main songwriter Tom Searle passed away from cancer. This led many to think that the band was over and or going to take a break for a while. Through all the pain and sorrow, the band pulled through and hit the road to celebrate the life of their fallen brother. It was during this time too that Architects released the song “Doomsday,” a song that was one of the final things Tom was working on but was unable to finish. When the song was released they song they mentioned that there was a future for the band and that they were looking forward to working on new music.

 

Now in 2018, a couple years later, Architects have written one hell of an album. Not only does their new record, Holy Hell, pay tribute to Tom but also explores many different themes of pain, loss, suffering and mourning. Musically all the members contributed to create a unified front and it sounds like it. Holy Hell at times sticks to what the band has done best for years but, at the same time takes on a more melodic approach. This being their 8th album, they have found their “sound” and they are running with it. The first three songs released “Hereafter,” “Royal Beggars,” and “Modern Misery” highlight the style that the band has, while other songs like “Mortal After All,” “Damnation,” “Holy Hell” and “A Wasted Hymn” show that the band isn’t done evolving and incorporating different styles and elements into the fold.

 

I will admit, it has been a while since I last really listened to Architects. When I heard “Doomsday” after it was released, I started to get really intrigued by the band again. Architects have created an album that will cement their names in heavy music. They have also brought the prog djent sound to the forefront. Holy Hell is exactly the album that the band needed to make. The only thing I can nit pick at is the polished production. At times it seems a bit too clean and compressed but, that doesn’t change how powerful the songs are. Architects have a lot to say about what they are dealing with and you know that when the time comes to start playing shows, those performances are going to set the venues on fire.

 
Overall Rating= 9/10

Architects- Hereafter:

 

 

Architects- Royal Beggars:

 

 

Architects- Modern Misery:

 

 

Architects- Doomsday:

 

Top Ten Bands A to Z: Y

The A to Z list continues to find the top ten bands/artists in the alphabet. Y is upon us and needs help to complete the list. Note, I decided to skip X due to there being only 3 or 4 bands worth mentioning.

As usual your suggestions are wanted in completing this list.

These are in no particular order as well.

 

01) Neil Young
02) Year Of The Rabbit
03) Thom Yorke
04) The Youngbloods
05) Yes
06) Y & T
07) Yaz
08) Yeah Yeah Yeah’s
09)
10)

Solo Album Spotlight: Jonathan Davis- Black Labyrinth

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For a long time now, over 20 years actually, I’ve been a fan of Korn. Their early albums were some of the albums that shaped my teenage years. The lyrics of Jonathan Davis have always stood out. The guy bares his soul for the world and people to feel like they aren’t alone. Since Korn hit the scene, Jonathan has been one of the best frontmen in rock. The delivery of the songs each and every night while on stage is almost like a purge of demons from inside. During the height of Korn, Jonathan was asked to work on the soundtrack for the film Queen Of The Damned. The movie was pretty bad but, the soundtrack was excellent. There were 5 original songs written for the film by Jonathan though, label interference got in the way of releasing the songs on the soundtrack with Jonathan singing on them. Either way, at this point, I started to wonder what a solo Jonathan Davis album might sound like.

Fast forward many years till now, 2018, and we now have the first solo album, Black Labyrinth by Jonathan Davis. This album has been in the works for over 10 year and is pretty much a departure from what Korn is. Everything from the instrumentation, production, musical styles, and some of the lyrical content is different. There are moments on the album that hark back to the new wave/ new romantic era of the 80’s, along with some interesting goth vibes. There is even a bit of an early 90’s alternative sound, more in the realm of a band like Porno For Pyros. Something else that makes Black Labryinth interesting and different are the explorations of different styles from all over the world. The use of certain flutes, percussion, and other instruments, give this album a trippy almost psychedelic sense. The exploration of genres on this record is really cool. As well as the genres I mentioned above, there is a bit of an industrial/electronic vibe going on. Different guests appeared on the album like Wes Borland, Ray Luzier, Miles Mosley and more. There are so many songs that really stand out like “Final Days, “Everyone,” “Basic Needs (which is my favorite song on the record),” Your God,” “The Secret,” “Please Tell Me,” “What You Believe,” and “What It Is.” The entire album is an experience from start to finish. Those songs mentioned are just the ones that have really hit home a bit more for me

Black Labyrinth showcases how talented Davis is as a songwriter. His knack for writing powerful songs both musically and lyrically is astounding. The fact that he’s remained relevant for over 20 years shows the power music has, as well as a loyal fanbase. Never mind the fact that most of these songs were written about 10 years ago, they still hold meaning and fit perfectly today. The last Korn record, The Serenity Of Suffering was a resurgence of creativity in the right path for the band, and by releasing this solo album, it’s allowed Jonathan the chance to really explore all the things he’s wanted to do. I’m very interested to hear both the next Korn album and Jonathan’s solo record. Give Black Labyrinth a chance and I bet you’ll be rather surprised by what you hear.

 
Jonathan Davis- Black Labyrinth: